Valentine’s Double Feature: Permission (2017) & Remember Me (2010)

Continuing with the marathon, I was going to change it to romance marathon or something but February is going to be Valentine’s month so why not just keep it the same, right? As you will notice, I didn’t really have a Q selection so decided to do a second P selection with 2017’s Permission and paired it with R’s 2010 romance drama Remember Me, a movie that I’ve started once before but didn’t think I was in the mood for a romance drama so stopped after 10 minutes in or something.

Let’s check it out!

Permission (2017)


Director (and writer): Brian Crano

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Gina Gershon, François Arnaud, Morgan Spector, David Joseph Craig, Jason Sudeikis

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend. – IMDB

Permission is a film that usually is the type of premise that is right up my alley. Its the idea of romance and different types of relationships and whatnot. To be honest, Permission does a lot of good. The best part of it being that it starts off making a relative amount of sense. The key of being okay with this film is is first accepting (or tolerating might be a better word) that its okay to experiment if you have only been in one relationship and using that method to feel like you can spent forever with the person you are currently in a relationship with.  That is the premise of this film so if that starting point doesn’t work for you, this film won’t get any better. My main issue is that the ending had points where it didn’t quite make sense to me but then I’m thinking about how with a premise like this that there is no other way for it to end and which type of ending would have worked better.

One of the main components that work here is that the actors and actresses themselves are really good. They are written each in their own distinct way and their actions and reactions being the center of who they are and how they feel about this whole thing. Dan Stevens plays Will who does a great job as expected. You can somehow feel the resistance towards the experiment but his love and his trust and makes him want to go through with it. On the other hand, Rebecca Hall as Anna, playing Will’s girlfriend is also very good. She does a lot of discovering here especially since she ends up having her own form of evolution and manages to sort out her thoughts at the end. She ends up meeting Dane, played by Francois Arnaud, a Quebec actor that I personally like a lot (especially his performance in French-Canadian film Origami. You can see the review HERE). The best parts of the film goes to the chemistry between Dane and Anna because it feels like there is something real going on between them even though its based on the lie that Anna never revealed that she is in fact in a relationship.

At the same time, you have their best friends, Reece and Hale who are going through their own issues as Hale wants to have a kid and Reece doesn’t and because of that, their own changes draws distance between them as well. There are some parallels here between these two relationships. There are some big messages about needs and wants in relationships as well as finding yourself before being with someone as the undertone of it all.

Remember Me (2010)

Remember Me

Director: Allen Coulter

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Ruby Jerins, Pierce Brosnan

A romantic drama centered on two new lovers: Tyler, whose parents have split in the wake of his brother’s suicide, and Ally, who lives each day to the fullest since witnessing her mother’s murder. – IMDB

I’m noticing just now that this movie’s tagline is “Live in the moments”, which is a pretty good way to talk starting about Remember Me. Remember Me starts in a fairly tragic and dramatic one, both paralleled with funerals: one for Tyler (Robert Pattinson) who loses his brother and one for Ally (Emilie de Ravin) who loses her mother both also being the first witness of their loved ones passing. These things make them view life in a different way perhaps making them treasure the moments a little more in fear of not living the next day with Ally’s character and one that tries to care for their family more with giving them more attention in Tyler’s case. Remember Me takes a lot of routes and in some ways, it takes away from what it was trying to do in the first place making our two main characters quite shallow and their relationship not exactly too deep either. Which is a little awkward to say that I’m watching a romance drama and in many ways, the romance is very unimpressive and not too memorable either. It goes to show that passionate kissing and sex scenes don’t make up for these moments even if they were very well shot and constructed.

The story should be commending to give notice to the drama around the two main characters because life is more than romance. Tyler is face with giving a lot of attention to her younger sister Caroline who believes that her father hates her and ignores her while having a feud and constant disagreement with his father (Pierce Brosnan) who only cares about his work and never prioritizes his family despite the tragedy that they’ve gone through. This family drama plot is one that is frequently used especially when his little sister also has a little side plot on how she doesn’t fit in and is bullied in school to some great heartbreaking extremities. On that note, some scenes and details here feel a bit disjointed because its packed so much that nothing leaves a great impression. To be fair, while the film has a lot of great ideas that doesn’t get used enough to make it more memorable, the roles here are not too bad although its funny that almost the entire cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin and Pierce Brosnan all are putting on their best American English show which I find isn’t too natural. I’m a little torn honestly on how I feel about the acting. Robert Pattinson felt more refined than say, his role in Twilight (I can only compare it since I’ve never seen him in another romance) but still missing something because it still felt like his expressions are very similar. Emilie de Ravin is an actress I love from Once Upon a Time so I think this is a new side of her that I quite enjoy.

The most memorable part of Remember Me is its plot twist finale that kind of punches its audience in the gut. I can only say this because some might view it as a fairly controversial sort of ending. It can be seen as distasteful or it can be seen as being very clever. However, there was no doubt about how it would end in my mind, but rather how they chose for the ending to happen because there was no way the movie wasn’t already hinting at this sort of ending with the tone and message it had set throughout.

That’s it for the next Valentine’s Romance double feature!
Excuse the little break, I needed a few days to just take a break and get things together.
Have you seen the P (replacing Q) selection and the R selection? Thoughts?

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The final part of the Toronto ComiCon weekend meet-up with Drew is our Friday’s night movie going adventure to see the live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Drew and I both have Disney segments on our respective blogs and it really highlights how much we love it in general. Plus, we just finished our 90’s Blogathon so hey, it all fits perfectly together. As objective as we would like to be, it is hard to not compare it to the original animation. I am just going to be honest here before we start.

Lets check it out!

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

beauty and the beast

Director: Bill Condon

(Voice) Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson

The beauty of animation is how magical they can be because they are imaginative and creative. To bring something like that to life creates a lot of challenge. There has be matching music and atmosphere and most importantly, the magical chemistry that we can feel with these characters which is usually easier to believe when its animation than in real life. I would be lying if I didn’t go into Beauty and the Beast optimistically skeptical. Why? I haven’t watched anything from Emma Watson since Harry Potter series ended and I only know Dan Stevens as the creepy dude in The Guest and an extremely small part of Season one of Downton Abbey. Not a lot to compare to and I didn’t really look too much at the voice actors either. The question now, after a few days of the initial excitement and thinking about it: does it live up to its original? The answer is no. I have to reluctantly say that because of a few aspects. However, I also never expected it to live up to the original so I still had a lot of fun with it.

Beauty and the Beast 2017

Beauty and the Beast’s best part is creating its atmosphere and the world. It is absolutely gorgeous. The effects and CGI put us right into the setting of the town and especially the castle and forest areas. There was a darker tone however, it does manage to capture a great part of the magic that made the first one great. Of course, the original animated film offered up some of the most beautiful animation with its rich colors and catchy musical tunes. That comes to the second part that gives this movie something more. While retaining a lot of the music from the original, they manage to put a few new songs in. The nostalgia and magic of the old music still is the fun parts of the movie plus it shows a true determination of creating a animated film with this one that stays true to a musical with actually not a lot of dialogue.

Beauty and the Beast

Belle is one of my favorite heroines/Disney princesses. To be honest, Emma Watson did a decent performance. I can’t say that she was particularly memorable though. She fit in well because she had a good enough singing voice and the movie’s overall magical appeal swept me away. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like her. I just can’t really pinpoint a part of hers that stuck out to her. On that note, her chemistry with the Beast worked well enough that the story made it easy to fall in love with the story again even knowing what would happen and in that final scene where there’s that twist, I had tears in my eyes, which was definitely unexpected. Turning over to Dan Stevens as the Beast, his face was pretty much CGI and yet perhaps it is because of that, it was easier to keep it imaginative. When he was angry at the beginning, there were moments of fear and later as he softened, his features also made it so much more gentle. There was so much more to love in how Dan Stevens portrayed the Beast than Belle which seems to be the opposite of how I remembered the Disney animation.

Beauty and the Beast

The stars and the most dynamic characters of the original was almost always these supporting animated enchanted characters. Who knew that clocks and candelabras and teapots could make us fall in love with them, right? That is something that really stands out also in this live action. The voice cast is a fantastic ensemble with Cogsworth being voices Ian McKellan, Lumiere by Ewan McGregor, Mrs. Potts by Emma Thompson and of course, the man who tends to sneak into every movie in some supporting part and almost makes it shine, the grand piano (Maestro) by Stanley Tucci. I loved them the most in this live action adaptation (or is it a remake?). There are so many similarities to the original but somehow their enchantedness makes it easier to imagine them in this way.
Beauty and the Beast

Finally, we can’t not talk about the most self-absorbed villain, Gaston. I honestly like Gaston quite a bit and his sequences especially the Gaston songs and bits are quite humorous in the animation and I’m pretty happy about how they approached this character and Luke Evans take on it. There were a lot of funny moments and it helps a lot. The ending battle with the Beast was a little underwhelming but it was never meant to be overly long even in the original. Gaston isn’t really a true threat ever. I’m not sure any believes that he’ll amount to anything too much especially not when his right hand man is Lefou who is just there for comedic relief. Josh Gad didn’t quite stand out as much either.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a decent live action take of the original. In comparison, it is hard to meet the original’s masterful animation however there is still a lot to love especially because this one takes good care in creating a beautiful environment and magical atmosphere. The winter and snowy landscape with the dark but beautiful castle captures lots of mystic, especially watching the take on the castle falling apart as the magic wears away from each rose petal falling. While some characters are a little underwhelming in their portrayal, the majority did a pretty great job however the magic of the story itself did carry itself and shadowed the shortcomings in the moment.

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast?

TV Binge: Downton Abbey (Season 1)

So…umm…I’m going to be absolutely honest and say that my intention was to watch Bates Motel but we ran out of Hong Kong series to watch for dinner last week so I chromecasted Downton Abbey because its more gentle than Bates Motel so my mom wouldn’t be grossed out and wonder what I was watching in my spare time.  I may be 28 but my mom’s judgement still has an effect on me.  Its a little sad (and pathetic).  Regardless, I started Downton Abbey and the binge starts….

Honestly, its a little bad timing because I’m reading Pride and Prejudice at the same time and I’m starting to think its making me mix up the story.  Thank goodness, its my second time reading Pride and Prejudice 😉


downton abbey

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Joanna Froggatt, Maggie Smith

(There’s a ton of other actors and actresses in the cast)

 We enter Downton Abbey right after the unsinkable Titanic has sunk, taking the lives of the heir for Downton Abbey of Robert Crawley, putting his eldest daughter’s future suddenly into jeopardy as their money goes now to the next male relative. Much to the reluctance of the ladies and less to Robert Crawley, they ask Matthew Crawley and his mother, a distant and unknown cousin to prepare for his position as the heir, even though he isn’t quite fond of this new position either.  While the lords and ladies accustom themselves to this predicament, the servants of the household also struggle with their own issue: trying to pursue a better future, move on top and deal with their own issues.

downton abbey

I love series set in the olden days with elegant language and clothes and style.  Its just all around a pleasure to watch.  Its probably why I love the whole Jane Austen thing and a ton of classics adaptations.  Downton Abbey is in a league of its own.  When it first started, it reminded me a little of the Hong Kong TV dramas set in the ancient China times because other than the location and setup being different, it focuses on the main family and their heir and there’s also the servants that always stir shit up.  Sorry for using such inelegant language for this review but I really don’t know how else to say it.  But, with this situation, it puts an emphasis on whether the “villainous” ones are so horribly bad that they elevate the problem.  Downton Abbey has a really good control and balance of these moments and thats probably why I liked it quite a bit.

downton abbey Season 1

There is a few more specific reasons as to why I like Downton Abbey and this is completely focused on what I’ve seen on Season 1. One of the reasons is the cast and characters themselves are so good.

For one, Dan Stevens (before The Guest) still very cute.  Not quite as attractive manly but Matthew Crawley is just such a sophisticated character, especially compared to and playing this role across from a character like Mary Crawley, who doesn’t quite know what she wants but has an extremely competitive and stubborn nature.  Whether you want Mary and Matthew to be together or not in Season 1 (I know a ton of you are way further), the chemistry they build is pretty good.

And the pairings don’t stop at that. The characters are believable together because they cover for each other’s faults.  Just like Earl of Crawley and his wife, Cora or with the servants, Bates and Anna.  There are secrets and mysteries while watching the relationship grow as days turn into months that go by.

downton Abbey season 1 Another thing that I love was Maggie Smith as Countess Dowager.  That question up there made me laugh a lot and she has a ton of these little one liners that just crack me up.  At the same time, this also shows the transition of how Matthew Crawley’s arrival creates a lot of character development not only for him but everyone else as they adjust to his city life and independent commoner lifestyle.  Another thing this does, is that the feud between old women are funny, especially with Countess Dowager and Matthew’s mother.

Downtown Abbey Season 1

Downton Abbey wouldn’t be as fun to watch if it wasn’t for these two up there, O’Brien and Thomas (exclude the girl in the gif, I just liked this scene). They cause a whole lot of crap to go down with the servants and they are responsible for a lot of rumors floating about as well.  You know they did a fantastic job as ridiculous human beings when as the series progressed, I increasingly wanted to slap them in the face when they were scheming, especially when it was against Bates (played by Brendan Coyle, who I loved in North and South).

downton abbey season 1

Aside from that, this brings up the whole heir thing looming over everyone’s heads, while having a bit of the sibling rivalry between the daughters and the servants, especially O’Brien and Thomas trying to keep their positions secured, or Bates trying to keep a secret while attempting to resist his affections for Anna (also a character I love).  There’s the clueless manipulation of the simpler characters as well and the clash of opinions and beliefs.  There’s a lot going on in Downton Abbey but it never becomes overwhelming because it flows so well over the 7 episodes in Season 1.

With a beautiful set, charming (and at times evil) characters, lovely costume designs and a intriguing and compelling story mixed with romance, family and power, there’s a lot of great moments in Downton Abbey in Season 1.   A great start for this series and I can see why its still going on.  Plus, the ending of Season 1 pretty much opened up the plot to go into some more intense territory.  I’m looking forward to binging Season 2! 🙂

Have you seen Downton Abbey? What are your thoughts? Are you up to date with it?