Fantasia Festival 2017: Better Watch Out (2017)

Better Watch Out (2017)

better watch out

Director: Chris Peckover

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Dacre Montgomery, Aleks Mikic, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton

On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it’s far from a normal home invasion. – IMDB

Home invasion films have been done to death. Honestly, there have been some hits in the last few years but its been a while that we have been thoroughly impressed. Maybe the exception would be Hush. This year’s Fantasia brings us the Canadian premiere of a home invasion film with a Home Alone twist previously called Safe Neighborhood but recently retitled Better Watch Out. It is directed by Chris Peckover who also was attending the festival to present his film. A perfect addition to the Festival as it fit perfectly in the Christmas in July theme. To further explain the Home Alone point, this features a boy and his babysitter as their Christmas night just got a lot more ominous as they realize that the house is being invaded.

Better Watch Out is a fantastic twist on the home invasion concept. It keeps up well with the intensity while offering more than enough laugh out loud black comedy moments. If surprises you with its characters who truly show off their true nature to stay alive. Its a fun ride with so many unexpected moments and what you probably won’t usually see with this one. The cast is also full of familiar faces. In a shorter role but done so well are the parents played by Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton. They bring in a fun performance full of laughs and witty remarks. The big performances here are however with Luke, the twelve year old son played by Levi Miller (recently in Pan) who has a crush on his seventeen year old babysitter, Ashley played by Olivia DeJonge (recently in The Visit). In true John Hughes love that Chris Peckover talked about afterwards, this was where we saw a lot of awkward teen comedy as the early moments saw Lucas trying to get attention.

It is hard to talk about this one without ruining your experience so lets just say that Better Watch Out does a great job at executing the twist and then letting everything fall apart and come together. While some parts do get a little overboard, there is so much to love in the dialogue and the intensity, the black comedy and the clever characters and twists that makes this one a must-see. You’ll be surprised over and over again and when you finish this, you may want to go back and figure out those details you missed the first time around. Better Watch Out is a home invasion movie but also a perfect addition to the non-traditional Christmas movie that will make you want to watch over and over again because its not only fun but so incredibly clever. This one is a must-see!

Better Watch Out will be in theatres in October on limited release and will land online some time in December.

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Music Obsessions: Christmas Special

Today is a nice and relaxing Christmas so we’re going to take it super easy and have some lovely Christmas music!

I did promise it earlier this month. 😉 We all know that you have that Christmas music playing anyways, right? I’m giving you all some alternative to the radio music.

O Little Town of Bethlehem – Voiceplay

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Tiffany Alvord & Danny Padilla (Holiday Cover)

Keep You Warm –  Sam Tsui & Kina Grannis

And for those of you not celebrating Christmas, here’s a little extra:

Set It All Free – Sam Tsui & Madilyn Bailey

Duck Tales Theme – All-New DuckTales Cast

Thanks for stopping by! Have a beautiful and awesome day!
Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas Decorations!

Happy Wednesday, my lovelies! We’re only days away from Christmas and this year, its been much less holidays and Christmas focused than past years! However, it just doesn’t feel right to not share a little Christmas decor post!

Every year I try to change things around a little. We sometimes buy stuff on Boxing Day from the previous year to plan for this year. Most of the time, by the time its time to decorate, I already forgot the initial plan and just try to remember again, or just whip up something completely different. I think the most steady decorations are the wreaths. I haven’t wanted to change them yet or make a new one. Maybe next year. But I swapped them around. And as you see this post, I’ll only be missing the garland for the stairwell and finding that extension cord for the star.

A hint of Christmas in the office

A hint of Christmas in the office with Christmas Mickey

Christmas decorations

Our new LED trees that change colors

Added lights to another window

Added lights to another window

Homemade decorations by my mother in law

Homemade decorations by my mother in law

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Disney Winter plushies: Mickey, Minnie and Goofy

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Wreath moved to the den

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Added a little bit to the berries arrangement in the den along with the sign and candle holder and reindeer

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A new floral arrangement by the stairs

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Christmas seat covers and cushions

Christmas Tree (day and night)

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Do you decorate for Christmas?

 

Holiday Marathon: A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

This holiday marathon is going at an exceptionally snail pace but don’t you worry. I am trying to get my Christmas/winter/holidays stuff up here, even if it isn’t holiday movies. To be honest, I kind of just want to go back to the classics and not linger too much on these other movies. However, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale looks cute to say the least. I mean, pets are always welcome for festival season or any season at that.

A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Director: Letia Clouston

Cast: Lexi Giovagnolia, Jonathan Bennett, Dina Meyer, Patrick Muldoon, Jennifer Joseph, Timeca M. Seretti, Tim Hess

When spoiled, 21-year old college student Luce Lockhart is forced to take a job over the holidays walking a rich developer’s dog, she is thrilled to discover they are going to build a salon and spa over the quaint local dog park nearby. But when Luce meets Dean, an irritating yet handsome dogwalker actively trying to stop them, Luce is forced to question what the park means to her newfound friends, and whether she can put aside her selfish ways to help save the park before Christmas. – IMDB

 I remember the first time seeing A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale pop up on my Netflix page and wondered what would make a movie like this appealing. Sure, there is the above factors I mentioned. Dogs are always a welcoming addition to any movie. Then the second reason popped up and that is Jonathan Bennett, probably most widely known for his role as the boy in Mean Girls. I love Mean Girls and surprisingly, I have seen a few other movies after Mean Girls of Jonathan Bennett. He’s not my favorite actor but I like his roles and his work. There’s a genuine feeling about him, whether it was in Love Wrecked with Amanda Byne (review) or Christmas Crush with Rachel Boston (review). Adding into a simple story in A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale, it all seems to work out. Actually, regardless of how some parts seem rather contrived at parts, there is still a lot of heartwarming and fun moments.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

A lot of the story’s charm goes to Jonathan Bennett playing as Dean and our main character, Luce who we realize has everything and doesn’t quite understand the need of the dog park. As the story continues, we as the experienced viewers already know that she’s going to be the one that will somehow save the dog park, or at least take it upon her to do it and realize the worth of it by the end. However, the merit of this movie that gives it a lot of feel good points is the journey to get there. The interaction and dialogue and chemistry that builds between her and Dean and even her growing love for these furry friends all play into this. Luce is a flawed character but only these characters can grow, regardless of how predictable it is and actually, this movie focuses on how she yearns for “substance” in her personality and we realize that she does have a lot when she doesn’t only care about shopping but puts her traits to good use. Lessons, message, feel-good, heartwarming and a little romance gives this story a nice little boost.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Of course, we can’t leave this movie without Missy, played by Dina Meyer who is the employer of Luce and her and her husband, played by Patrick Muldoon, plan on building the spa in the dog park area. The friction is here and the dilemma for Luce starts here as she eventually becomes torn on finding the balance between pleasing her employer as they have powerful positions in society and possibly her future and doing the right thing. But we’re here to talk about Missy Paxton and Dina Meyer does a fine job at giving a lot of enthusiasm and charisma to this character.

Overall, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale really does need to be taken apart. Its supposed to be just watched as a heartwarming little movie with the best intentions. There are some fun performances and some nice interactions and a little chemistry and lots of furry little pets. As predictable as this all is, the feel-good heartwarming element that a Christmas movie needs is exactly what I needed and liked about this one.

The Lot (Short Story) by Anthony Renfro

Still looking for some Christmas themed short stories?

Fellow blogger Anthony Renfro from Poetry, Books, Movies and Music has a collection of them for the holidays. I already talked and reviewed A Zombie Christmas and its sequel, A Zombie Christmas 2 the last two weeks. You can find them HERE and HERE respectively. Now its time for another one!

Let’s check it out!

The Lot
by: Anthony Renfro

The Lot

Synopsis

This short story is about a Christmas Tree lot that has evil intentions.

Excerpt

The Christmas tree lot stood cold and silent beside the two lane road now covered in 6 inches of snow. Gavin Douglas was hunkered down inside the small building attached to The Lot. He stood 6 foot 5, tall and lanky, a once healthy thirty-year-old man who now looked like he had spent the last two months inside a sweat box. He was emaciated and weak looking, ribs showing through his skin. His face hung droopy and long, teeth rotting away, some had fallen out. His once thick hair now hung thin, patchy, and lifeless across his skull. His clothes were dirty and disheveled, unclean like the rest of his body. He hadn’t been able to eat, sleep, shower, or do anything normal since the pine trees had arrived in October, because he felt like it was his job and duty to protect his town, a town he loved more than his own life.

My Review

Its hard to pinpoint what The Lot reminds me of. For one, its a bit like Little Shop of Horrors in some ways but then blends in something else in the end and makes you wonder. What I liked the most in The Lot is the vivid descriptions. It truly felt like I could picture the scene in front of me and watching the events unfold between Gavin and Ernie and the police at the Christmas tree lot. Its hard to not spoil The Lot but its a quick and fun read.

Where to get it 

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JMX67U2#nav-subnav
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01JMX67U2
AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01JMX67U2
CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01JMX67U2

My Weekly Adventures #34: Fun and Busy December!

Ladies and Gents! All of you lovely awesome readers! Its the last My Weekly Adventures of 2016! Can you believe it? In a little more than two weeks, we’ll be in 2017! OMG, panic time!  Just kidding 😉

It isn’t too far from the truth to be honest. The last two weeks of December means a lot but we’ll talk about that in the final portion of this one. Now, let’s take a look at what happened in the first half of December before looking at what is upcoming in the plans before we hit 2017! Its kind of a mad dash as you will see!

Let’s go!

Christmas Activities

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The only thing that has really happened in the last two weeks is really this little event for Christmas in downtown and checking out Luminotherapie. It was a ton of friends to go downtown with my friends and hang out. There was a ton of beautiful and adorable decorations, street food, local vendors and lots of lights everywhere. There were dancing in the street events and just lots of fun times. Here’s the little event recap!

The next day, we headed to the annual Montreal Crafts Show and I shared my haul HERE.

Kickstarter Rewards Received

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I back a lot of Kickstarter projects when I can afford it. Currently, there’s a good few in development so I’m taking a little break. Especially when some of them thats been sitting there since 2012 or so and the updates haven’t been incredibly encouraging, so I’m kind of rethinking my strategy. I never want too many to be sitting there because its kind of like the concept of investment and rate of return. That is the one semester finance student talking to me. Still, I do have changing opinions on Kickstarter but I do still love the indie scene too much to not support it when I see something that looks like it has great potential. Obviously, when these past weeks reaped two Kickstarter rewards being fulfilled, I was thrilled! I still have to sit down and watch them but stuck in a little rush of crazy that I’ll talk about soon. I had complete faith in these ones.

The Unkindness of Ravens is by Lawrie Brewster who I had backed his previous project, Lord of Tears which I reviewed HERE. Lord of Tears is an odd little movie but I like it a lot for the atmosphere it creates. I wish there were more people talking about it. Next one is Kiss Me Kill Me, and it is one that I had seen the screener when it premiered a little earlier this year. I didn’t review it as it wasn’t officially released and now we have the DVD version so that’s awesome! I’ll be reviewing it soon once I watch it again. I remember enjoying it quite a bit.

Hopefully, in the next year, more projects will be wrapping up and sending off their rewards. I have quite a bit of confidence for a good bit of them. Knock on wood that I didn’t jinx it.

Holiday Marathon & Christmas

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Its 10 days till Christmas!! And I’m so behind! Its rare that Christmas hasn’t been full-fledged over here. Deal is that I’m torn on what to review anymore. The selection is very minimal and its starting to be the feel-good Hallmark movies which aren’t exactly great to review because its fun but really nothing to overly talk about. Perhaps I’ll take the shorter review route. However, there has been scatters of things from Christmas events like the ones above to Christmas themed short stories and I’m starting to have a few Christmas movies as well. Crazy that Avenue of Daydreams is way ahead of the game and already having snapshots like the one above. Perhaps you’d like go head over and check out creative-but-currently-only-photography space. I actually a lot of Christmas photography coming up. If you like that sort of thing, check it out HERE and maybe give it a follow (I’m sorry for the shameless self-promotion).

With that said, I do have a few more movies to review for Christmas and maybe a list post if I can fit it in. I probably will have one or two recipes since I’m responsible for dessert at the Christmas party with family. Aside from that, well, the usual Christmas decor post is coming up once I finish up decorating the tree. Everything else but the tree and the stair railing is decorated.

Netflix A-Z

netflix

I addressed the whole Netflix A-Z thing already in a previous review. It has taken a while to resume after October and NaNoWriMo. Its all my fault, of course. No excuses. However, the idea of Netflix A-Z dabbling into 2017 makes me feel some sort of uneasiness. Maybe it just feels so much like its dragging on and I like to keep these series self-contained as its not a longer project, like Baking Through Disney (which I’ll address again in the New Year). So, I did announce it on Twitter, kind of, but I’m going to make a solid effort with an already drafted tentative schedule to get it all wrapped up by the end of the year. Its a little crazy seeing as I just finished K selection and its 15 more movies to reach the end. I’ll make the best effort. Plus, I’m working on a side thing that I want to be able to review everything I watch within the same year so it tracks what I’ve seen better.

Point is, it might get busy if I can keep up with all the reviews along with extra stuff. Hope you will enjoy it!

On the other hand, the reason to wrap it up is also that I’m probably not going to keep this segment or do movies in that A-Z order but not make it into a segment, just a personal way to choose what to watch next.

Kitty Cute Pic

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*last minute post means pics are in another computer so limited edition pikachu for all you Pokemon Go players is all I got 😉

What have you been up to? 

Holiday Marathon: Dear Santa (2011)

Its taken me a long time to get these holiday movies going but at least we’re getting a little more festive around here! I finally worked in some time to watch some holiday movies on Netflix. Why Dear Santa, you ask? Because I don’t have huge issues with TV movies and I really like Amy Acker. Plus, why not?

Let’s check it out!

Dear Santa (2011)

Dear Santa

Director: Jason Priestley

Cast: Amy Acker, David Haydn-Jones, Emma Duke, Patrick Creery, Gina Holden

Dear Santa is a fun holiday treat. While it will for some fall into many holiday and romantic comedy tropes, there is a sweet message behind it. It has a pleasant and charismatic cast and for a TV movie, its definitely some Christmas fun to be had and perhaps a few lessons to be learnt about giving and helping others especially when it really isn’t simply a romantic comedy but somewhat of a coming of age for a girl who never really had to because of all that she had and never saw the real world outside of the sheltered one that she lived in.

Dear Santa

With that said, we have to look at our main girl, Crystal here played by Amy Acker. My first and favorite role of Amy Acker is in the TV series Dollhouse. I have quite a bit to catch up on but its different to see her in a role like this one. Crystal is a girl that never had to grow up or think about how much she has because of the credit cards her parents give her. When her parents give her a deadline to shape up and find a job and earn some money or at least find herself a husband, she goes out and by chance finds a letter that the mailman dropped. This letter is to Santa from a girl that is asking for a new mom, someone for her dad. Of course, not everyone will open someone else’s mail and it shouldn’t be encouraged but she goes out and gets to know the daughter and the father and learns a lot about what she can do and becomes attached to them unexpectedly. Amy Acker does a good job of showing her character progression. She can pull off the pretty, entitled girl and the girl that never grew up and also the girl that grew up to care about others around her. Plus, the chemistry she has with other characters are believable.

Dear Santa

On the surface, Dear Santa seems like a rather generic movie. Its a love story and self-discovery one about a girl who doesn’t really care much about others and hasn’t found much use for herself except having an incredible fashion sense due to her ability to shop mindlessly. When she finally realizes that she can be more and just how much she has because of her decision to find this man and her daughter and ends up working at the soup kitchen for the community, it changes her a lot. Sure, it seems a little far-fetched perhaps but its a rather hopeful story filled with a lot of great moments. Even though, there is a lot of focus on Crystal and her feelings, when we turn around and have a look at Derek (played by David Haydn-Jones) and her daughter Olivia (played by Emma Duke), there is a little more because they are also looking for something more. Derek is looking for a mother to her daughter, forcing himself to comply to someone who can take care of them and has given up the hope that someone can replace his wife that has passed away. For them, its a story about second chances and building relationships and family. For either of these three, its a generic story, but like many TV movies, there is a deeper message and this one is not too bad at doing it in a way that we realize that they kind of save each other.

Dear Santa

At this point, I’ve only really talked about story and Amy Acker. However, I did mention her great chemistry with the cast. Let’s take a quick look at them. Lets start with one of the most fun moments and those goes to Crystal and kind of the voice of reason in the overqualified soup kitchen’s chef, Pete (played by Patrick Creery). They met talking about some lip gloss or whatnot. The character of Pete is one that is so fun to watch, simply because of the dialogue and how Patrick Creery brings him to life. He has more scenes with Crystal but there is one very awesome scene near the end that I liked a lot (albeit being generic and expected but so genuine). Next up, there is the little girl Olivia, played by Emma Duke. Kids in movies are challenging. Sometimes, they can be the reason that it makes or breaks a movie. Luckily, Emma Duke is not in that category. She is cute and yet so charming to watch. There’s a bond that we can see between Crystal and Olivia that is pretty heartwarming.

Lastly, we can’t go without talking about the chemistry between Crystal and Derek, our star couple that we should be rooting for despite Derek’s current empty relationship with ex-college sweetheart that happens to have resurfaced, Jillian, played by Gina Holden. There is an obvious desire to make Jillian seem pretty unpleasant to be around and that she dwells in the past while Crystal makes for a brighter future. Although its a little silly to think that Derek and Gillian’s relationship doesn’t seem to have been cut completely by the end and its always a question of whether its right. There is some nice moments between Derek and Crystal. For that reason, I liked this movie more for its family, Christmas and self-discovery moments much more than the love story emphasis.

Overall, Dear Santa is pretty enjoyable with some new messages and a lot of Christmas stuff and a focus on family and finding love again and yourself. Its a nice relaxing treat. Its a little generic but the cast here puts in some nice performances to make it genuine. I didn’t go into this with any expectations and came out feeling pretty good. I’d say that’s a win.