Double Feature: La La Land (2016) & In My Dreams (2014)

Welcome to the next double feature! Its also the second (and probably last) Valentine’s romance film double feature. This time, we’re looking at romantic musical drama La La Land and then, pairing with it romantic drama In My Dreams. Let’s it check!

La La Land (2016)

La La Land

Director (and writer): Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Finn Wittrock, John Legend, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, J.K. Simmons

While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future. – IMDB

Its taken a few years to catch up with La La Land and with Oscar-nominated films, I always hesitate to believe all the hype, especially when it comes to musical and romantic drama type of films. La La Land is a fun little movie. Its not completely about romance but its definitely present throughout as these two find being with each other to find the courage to be themselves and pursue their own dreams. At the same time, its fun because it has a lot of the right elements lined up, whether its Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling being cast as the two main leads and deliver some charismatic performances, a lot of great choreography for their dance numbers and a beautiful soundtrack as well as how the whole film has some wonderful cinematography. It all adds to the whole viewing experience.

If I had to be a little picky, because I do watch a lot of these types of things, albeit lower budget and not with all the other elements, the story of inspiration and romance and succeeding in your dream and the whole journey sort of story line is always rather similar and the same applies to La La Land. The script is absolutely not the standout point here. What helps a familiar script, because I think being familiar isn’t always a problem, is that the other elements done well above, makes the script find its unique elements. Perhaps the best thing about the script is the beautiful bittersweet ending add-in that actually rounds up the film so well.

In My Dreams (2014)

In My Dreams

Director: Kenny Leon

Cast: Katharine McPhee, Mike Vogel, JoBeth Williams, Joe Massingill, Rachel Skarsten, Antonio Cupo, Jessalyn Wanlim

Natalie and Nick are frustrated with their luck in romance. After tossing coins into a fountain, the two then begin dreaming about each other. But, according to fountain mythology, they only have a week to turn those dreams into reality. – IMDB

I think the best way to describe In My Dreams is that it has its heart in the right place. The story itself is not a bad one at all. We have movies like In Your Eyes which is about two people seeing through each other’s eyes (review) and then we have movies like The Lake House which is two people at different times, just as examples. In My Dreams success would lie heavily on the mechanics of how these two manage to meet in their dreams and then afterwards, how they end up realizing that they are actual people and not figments of their imagination and end up connecting in real life. For this point, it works and then it doesn’t.

In My Dreams is a TV movie so right away, the quality is probably more along the Hallmark movies kind of deal. And it does have that feel-good and inevitable happy ending. Its an okay movie in terms of those little elements of character building and making Nick and Natalie, played by Mike Vogel and Katharine McPhee respectively, rather decent characters. They don’t have a huge amount of depths, just like they only had a few conversations about not a lot that makes them feel like they would work with each other. However, they do have some fun supporting characters that make for some nice moments as these two characters work towards their own dreams.

Where this falls apart is in letting Nick and Natalie have this frustratingly slow way of connecting the dots of their little details in the conversations in their dreams to the events of themselves in reality as they had those missing each other moments (which is also rather expected in romance films). Those little cues that weren’t connected actually felt like it was ignored deliberately, making the script slightly inconsistent with these two characters who aren’t dumb especially as their conversations together is about deeper feelings and such.

In My Dreams is probably one that is okay for a rainy day but there are some plot holes and then its still a rather predictable movie.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these movies?

StreetDance (2010)

Some of you may know I’m very much a musically inclined person and I may not dance very well but I love dance movies, especially Step Up series.  I love them! They are fun and energetic and I sometimes pretend I can bust a move and try in my room (just never in public).  So, I always give chances to these movies.  They aren’t masterpieces but they are cool. I’ve heard of StreetDance but I’ve never seen much publicity on it.  Honestly, the poster looks a tad cheesy but its been sitting in my Netflix list for a few days and I needed to unwind with something less heavy after Contagion and Conviction (which makes this review pretty late), so here we are!

Let’s see what StreetDance is all about!

streetdance posterDirector: Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini

Cast: Nichola Burley, Richard Winsor, Ukweli Roach, Frank Harper, George Sampson, Charlotte Rampling, Rachel McDowall

Jay 2.0 just passes the auditions to enter into the UK Champions Final.  If they win this, they get their big break to go to the World Champions in New York.  Right after this, Jay (Ukweli Roach), the leader of Jay 2.0 says he needs a timeout from everything including his girlfriend Carly (Nichola Burley) and passes on the crew to her care.  The crew doesn’t have money for renting space to rehearse and while on her delivery job, she meets Helena Fitzgerald (Charlotte Rampling), the head of the ballet school.  Helena is impressed by Carly and her crew’s talents and offers to let them rehearse in her studio for free but with the condition that they have to include her top 5 ballet dancers into their routine. With no choice, Carly decides to take on the challenge and see what she can make of it.  Could ballet dancers turn into street dancers? Will they have their routine ready and win in just 5 weeks? Or maybe, there’s something more, after all, ballet and street are both just different forms of dance. Maybe accepting to see the point of view through Thomas (Richard Winsor), one of the ballet dancers, would open up new possibilities.

StreetDance

StreetDance is just another dance movie.  I would agree with that completely because it has all the elements you would find in Step Up series as well.  In fact, what makes StreetDance stand out for me is that its not set in US (like usual) but rather in UK.  It gives a new style to the movie.  The language is a bit different and at the same time, the interaction and vibe is also different.  Its refreshing to see how they put together a dance movie with a different setting giving it a little something extra.  I really liked the change.  This also brought on some good music choices as well, a lot of which I haven’t heard before.

StreetDance

The story is about meshing ballet with street dance and seeing if the two worlds can actually go together.  The idea that dance is a universal language regardless of the style.  While its about two worlds, it also adds in the side story of Carly, the leader of street dance crew and Thomas, a talented ballet dancer and their romance that kind of grows. Why I say kind of is because there is a bigger emphasis on the infatuation of Thomas to Carly more than the other way around since she is still getting over Jay for a good part of the flick.  Although meshing ballet and street dance isn’t a new concept, Step Up did it, in many ways I found this one better than that one.  Maybe its because I like the characters more in this one, maybe its because its gives focus on not only two dancers but on a group effort, seeming a bit closer to Step Up 3 or 4.  Plus, it has some neat dance choreography and good tension here and there.  It brings in a good level of fun.

StreetDance

I don’t really know how to dissect a dance movie other than saying whether I had fun with it or not.  However, the acting here is not immense but it does make up for it with some unique dance choreographies and some pretty awesome dance music.  It made me really fall in love with the movie. In fact, I went back to watch the full movie for the whole week afterwards, which was probably one of the reasons why I haven’t posted this up yet and especially going back for the dance parts because its just fun.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to street dance so it particularly pleases me. I’ve also had all the music on repeat on my MP3 for the last 2 weeks.  Its upbeat and motivating and helps to wake me up during the day 🙂

In my last post, I talked about the movie that brought back Bodyrox into my life and this is it so before I wrap this review up, here’s a song from the movie:

Or maybe one thats more known:

The second video has clips from the movie so maybe you can get a quick idea of the movie.

Overall, StreetDance isn’t an epic dance movie but its new setting and style gives it something new and gives it a breath of fresh air.  The cast are not great actors but the characters they are given makes it attractive.  The best part is to sit back and enjoy some upbeat music and watch some brilliant dance choregraphy.  The idea of finding yourself and breaking out of the norm and that dance is an universal language works very well.

Are you into dance movies? Whats your favorite? Have you seen StreetDance?

 

Step Up: 3D (2010)

Since I was on vacation, I had lots of time to watch movies but not as much to do any workouts.  Not that I didn’t want to but the internet I had at the hotel was really slow and I couldn’t load any vids and most of it was hiking.  So because there is no Weekly Workout Roundup, I decided to put up an extra review on a motivating and energetic flick 😉  Step Up marathon continues! Now I’m just missing the 4th one and that might take a while to get unless my tablet lets me rent it for free! Lets do this: STEP UP: 3D! I did not see this in 3D though, just normal tablet 🙂

step up 3d posterDirector: Jon M. Chu

Cast: Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner, Keith Stallworth, Joe Slaughter

High school is over and its time to move on to college, Moose, from the Step Up 2, (Adam G. Sevani) agreed to focus on school and give up his dancing and go to NYU to continue his education with the company of his best friend, Camille (Alyson Stoner).  To his surprise, before he even starts, he gets mistaken to be competing against the street dance crew lead by Julian (Joe Slaughter) and winning.  After the mess he made in Central Park, he gets saved by Luke (Rick Malambri) who takes in passionate dancers who have nowhere to go and has his own original street dance crew Pirates.  While having a hard time to make ends meet even with his club downstairs, their only chance to keep their home is to win the World Jam Competition with the help of additional dancer and love interest, Natalie (Sharni Vinson).

step up 3d battle

Lets look back at the past few.  Step Up was a great start with great dance sequences and a pretty good story.  The second one didn’t have as many dance parts but had more background story to it.  Now, we get to the third one and even though the story isn’t anything new or strong (which isn’t particularly the reason of these movies as I say over and over again), it was kick ass dancing ALL THE TIME. I had a lot of fun with this one and it kept me amazed by all the pumping music and the frequent fun dance moves.  The story was fast paced because of that and it was just so entertaining.

step up 3d moose

Moose was one of my fave characters in Step Up 2 and I was really happy to see him come back with a larger role in this instalment.  He has great dance moves and in this, his story is our focus as he juggles through the actual life of choosing between his passion and the reality.  Can these two things converge and work out? How do you balance everything to make it all work? Everyone’s story is predictable but I tend to empty out my mind and just let it flow when I watch these.

step up 3d final dance

All of the new cast are talented dancers and they were energetic and lit up the screen. Whats nice is how the Step Up series tries to pull together the previous flick to give it a bit of connection. The dance choreography and the visuals were just so great to watch.  I loved it!

There isn’t really anything else to say but that Step Up 3D is my fave (even if I didn’t see it in 3D).  It was upbeat, energetic, fun and just pure awesome entertainment!

A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Dance

Its been a lot of photography posts but you know what, I’ve been somewhat slacking off on this section and I needed a break from watching movies and set a new schedule and routine after work.  Healthier one, perhaps.  You’ve heard about DDR rambling and maybe I’ll do a few more rambles here and there about things I love or hate, etc.  Anything you want to hear about give me a shout out in the comments.

On the note of DDR, I’d like to give my response to Sue’s A Word A Week Challenge – DANCE over at her blog A Word in Your Ear.  Head over and join into this fun challenge, it doesn’t have to be photography just anything you think of that’s related.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to dance.  Not all that fake dancing in DDR, but actual ballroom dancing.  However, I am missing a partner and the funds…so the plans have been postponed for over 5 years, I’d suppose.  I know that I’ll do it one day just not now.  So when I see people dancing in groups or by themselves with all the beautiful, loud, rhythmic, fast, slow, improvised, rehearsed…I love to see it all.

Here’s just a few of those moments that I found…

Wedding couple's first dance in September wedding

Groom’s rehearsed dance with bridesmaids and guest for his wife

Wedding couples first dance..and they are the sweetest couple EVER!

Wedding couples first dance..and they are the sweetest couple EVER!

Radio station on site mixing music with a dancing audience

Radio station on site mixing music with a dancing audience

Just a little break, do you miss the beach? I do…I’m just hoping the snow melts soon and it’ll be time to go to the beach again.  Moving on…

Magog Winter Festival with a gymnast rings dancing about her elevated ring

Magog Winter Festival with a gymnast rings dancing about her elevated ring

Egypt Nile Cruise entertainment with traditional dancing

Egypt Nile Cruise entertainment with traditional dancing

And then, they got everyone to come out and join in while passing this scarf belt thing around…and this happened…

DSCN3108

I’m trying to get this on and then a bit after, I found a lucky person to pass it on to 😉 Thanks to my mom for taking this picture to remember the embarrassing moments in Egypt…*blush*

Do you know how to dance? Whats your fave style?