Double Feature: An Inspector Calls (2015) & A Home With A View (2019)

DOUBLEFEATURE (64)

Our double features are back! Before Fantasia Festival back in end of June, we pretty much wrapped up the last round of Netflix “alphabet” rundown. This time is more of a random deal although coincidentally, I ended up picking a Herman Yau/Louis Koo double feature for two Hong Kong dark comedies.

Let’s check it out!

An Inspector Calls (2015)

an inspector calls

Director: Raymond Wong & Herman Yau

Cast: Louis Koo, Eric Tsang, Hans Zhang, Ka Tung Lam, Teresa Mo, Karena Ng, Liu Yan, Chrissie Chow

When Inspector Kau arrives at the Kau manor before a lavish engagement party, he brings news of a young woman’s suicide – and he has questions – Netflix

Adapted from the English play of the same name, An Inspector Calls is a slapstick dark comedy re-enacting the story set in a mansion of a bankrupted but pretending to be wealthy family and factory owner as the father tries to marry off his daughter to the son of a rich family. On the day of the marriage, an inspector barges in telling them of a young woman’s suicide and how unexpectedly, each of them are connected to it in one way or another. Well in the heart of slapstick humor that is quite dominant in Hong Kong cinema (when not doing action or thrillers), An Inspector Calls in its Hong Kong Cantonese adaptation captures the heart of the story as the intertwined society links to one another and different chains of this society will beat a person down unexpectedly. Each of these characters are suitably over the top in their performances, the story itself is quite entertaining as well as while I’ve heard of the story, I’ve never actually read the play that its based on.

An Inspector Calls is full of talented cast. With the father played by Eric Tsang, the mother played by Teresa Mo, the older son played by Ka-Tung Lam, the son-in-law by Han Zhang and the inspector played by Louis Koo. The daughter and the daughter-in-law to be being the young actress roles that I’m less familiar with. However, looking at this cast, Eric Tsang and Teresa Mo play once again a married couple (I had seen them as a couple in 2 Young) and here as a powerhouse duo that just steals away their scenes together and its probably why Netflix chooses their scene in their massive walk-in closet as they turn around running after each other as he catches her up on the inspector’s arrival and the chaos that he was causing. On the other hand, Louis Koo doesn’t do so many comedies anymore but he definitely has the skills for it and is a refreshing take from the recent years of making action and crime thrillers and such. Clad with popular Mainland China actor Han Zhang, who definitely does do well in this film as well.

As intriguing as the story is, especially for myself originally not too familiar with the premise, what caught my eye were all these great performances which was absurd and yet so hilarious, reminding me of the humor I missed from Stephen Chow’s films in the 90s.

A Home With A View (2019)

a home with a view

Director: Herman Yau

Cast: Francis Ng, Anita Yuen, Louis Koo, Tat-Ming Cheung, Jocelyn Choi, Siu-Hin Ng, Suet Lam, Anthony Wong

When a neighbor blocks their view of the city with a commercial billboard, a Hong Kong family resorts to drastic, imaginative measures to take it down. – Netflix

A Home With A View is a real breath of fresh air. Sure, it tackles this dark comedy in a rather absurd way. It also is adapted from a play written by fellow cast member Tat-Ming Cheung who portrays the grandfather role in the film who is renowned Hong Kong comedian. A feature of Hong Kong comedians is their desire to bring out the issues of the Hong Kong society through a very sarcastic way. In this case, he’s taken these characters for a glimpse of losing a slice of solace can cause especially in the expense of others who are in another dilemma trying to survive as well as the expense of commercialism and economic wealth of the city itself. What is a reality of Hong Kong since the 1997 handover followed by the financial crisis that took place over the past few decades and then the change of the economy and political status, is shown well here with the ineffectiveness of a lot of the society.

I’ve always been a fan of using humor to talk about the more important issues surrounding us and to myself, that type of dark/sarcastic humor is my cup of tea so suffice to say that a lot of this film lands well. I’ve never seen the original play or read it or anything but the adaptation into a film works really well and a lot has to do with some sharp writing and well-timed humor. Of course, a lot of credit has to go to the talented cast here that supports the younger cast who plays the daughter and son. Francis Ng and Anita Yuen paired together are very fun. At the same time, they are met with some supporting characters who appear in some cases like cameo and others to help push the story in a certain direction. A Home With A View is a witty sort of deal. There were some bits here and there that might fall short in its comedy but for the most part, its actually a very smart piece of cinema filled with great performances and well-paced throughout and sharp dialogue. I don’t watch as many Hong Kong comedy films than I used to in the 90s or even early 2000s but this one really revived some of that hope to seek up some more in this vein, maybe another Herman Yau one since he seems to direct comedy movies that I enjoyed.

That’s it for this double feature!
Both films are currently on Netflix Canada with pretty decent subtitles.

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TV Binge: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 3, 2019)

You can find the previous season TV Binges post below:

Season 1
Season 2

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 3, 2019)

a series of unfortunate events

Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman, Lucy Punch, Dylan Kingwell, Allison Williams, Kitana Turnbull, Max Greenfield

After the loss of their parents in a mysterious fire, the three Baudelaire children face trials and tribulations attempting to uncover dark family secrets. – IMDB

The third and final season of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events has now progressed to be the most dark of the three seasons. Rightfully so because the books also get quite dark in the last 4 stories. Its adapted well to the novels in a similar timeline. As with the previous few seasons, small changes have been made in each story but essentially to work up to an ending which feels much more exact than the one presented in the novels. Whether that is a good or bad thing is truly up for debate at this point based on your preference.  It keeps up with the vocabulary focus and the educational element and the clever puns used as well as keeping our narrator by Patrick Warburton ever so interesting and quirky to watch.

A series of unfortunate events s3

The final season takes us for some dangerous rides through some odd locations as the Baudelaires now approach the whereabouts of VFD and what it is about. While previous seasons have been quite dangerous already, this one definitely takes a turn as all the characters: the Baudelaires and Count Olaf and his crew all have a decent amount of development. Its been a long time waiting to see how his minions play in the story because they have only been supporting characters at this point. As the story winds together, its good to see that the final season takes into account all these characters and gives them some resolution and ending, making sure that they were not disposable and had a key part (whether small or big) to the entire story. What works even better is how it makes sure to now pull in why Lemony Snicket decided to do all this and while we’ve already seen Jacques Snicket, here the mystery unravels further. All this works to round out what has already been presented as over the last 2 seasons, there has been a lot of questions and so few answers. The writing and storytelling has always been the strength of the show and it maintains it here.

a series of unfortunate events s3

Moving on to the characters, The Baudelaires have all grown comfortably into their roles, whether it is Malina Weissman or Louis Hynes as they are the older kids who pass their characters’ birthday during this and the last season giving us a perspective of time for the series especially for the maturity and development of their characters, Violet and Klaus respectively. This story giving them somewhat of a love angle as well, inevitable with the amount of people that they do end up meeting along this series of unfortunate events. However, nothing quite beats having a much more understandable Sunny who is still a toddler but now we can get a good idea that she has some great linguistic skills as if you read the subtitles and whatnot, its another languages version in some cases (or maybe I’m hearing things). With that said, Count Olaf has had the darker development as each season progressed and in this season, he is the smartest that we have seen him and we start seeing his own motives which are more than just for the money. On top of that, as we would expect, some new characters appear and they include Kit Snicket (Allison Williams), the Denouement Brothers (Max Greenfield) as well a lot of familiar faces reappearing as well.

The third and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events does a great job at wrapping up the series. It makes some choices especially in the ending that might not sit well with some people however, I thought it was pretty clever to add their own twist. Plus, its nice to see that they thought about all the characters that came into the Baudelaires lives that mattered and did a little mention for them.

King of Me (King’s Trilogy #3) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Check out the review of the second book, King For a Day, here.

King of Me (King’s Trilogy #3)
by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

King Of Me

What if you were asked to love a dangerous man who betrayed you at every turn, who terrified you even in your sleep? Could you do it to save the people you hold dear?

Mia Turner is ready to give it all—her body, her heart, her soul—to the mysterious, ruthless billionaire who holds the cards to saving her family. But when this sinfully sexy man, simply known as King, demands something more, something horrifying, Mia will be forced to face the impossible truth about their lives.

Sometimes the truth brings salvation. And sometimes the truth breaks you. – Goodreads

In the final book of the King’s Trilogy, King of Me is a pretty decent read. It has a lot to thank for the first two books doing a great build-up to this point. Of course, this third book also has to bring an end to all the teasing and seducing and arousal from before so we finally get some sexual action here. However, the core of the story is Mia embracing who she is as in the time of danger she escapes to the past before King was cursed. However, history is set in a certain way and even Mia’s Seer abilities aren’t almighty so there is some mystery behind what she does and how things turn out. Its journey to the past that feela destined and changes Mia’s mind about King and his demons and also drawing comparisons to the other people linked to King as well. Its a big unveiling and does a decent job. Everything makes sense and the erotic scenes play out well. It adds even more depth and development for all our characters, King and Mia but also Mack and the Spiros as well as the truth behind the story from the last book while seeing why Mia falling in love with King is the key to changing everything one way or another, at least for a better outcome.

With that said, King of Me did suffer some of the erotic novel pet peeves that I have. I have some odd ones and it comes from a little similarity of finding redemption for King drawing some comparisons to Christian Grey in the last book of Fifty Shades trilogy. Its this way out where they feel compelled to make love center to just giving in to abusive behavior. However, King of Me does give it a reasonable route afterwards to somehow shed the light a little on why there was this drastic change in that point in King’s history that Mia had stepped into.

Overall, King of Me was decent as the supposed final book of the series. It answered all the questions and sorted all the emotions out. It was fast paced and added depth to the characters.

Of course, reading it after the initial release means I also know that the trilogy turned into more so this isn’t actually the end. There currently two more books, #4 Mack and #5 10 Club. I was hoping to wrap up the series and move into something else. I will try to catch up to the final two books later this year. With that said, I wonder how they will be seeing  as the original idea was a trilogy but these two has now turned it into a series. Hopefully it will work out well.

King for a Day (King’s Trilogy #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Check out the review of the first book, King’s here.

King for a Day (King’s Trilogy #2)
by: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

king for a day

When Mia Turner’s life becomes tethered to a mysterious billionaire, who she swears is the devil himself, she knows she must break free. It doesn’t matter if everything about him—those sinful lips, those pale gray eyes, that perfect male body—keeps her awake at night. He’s evil. She has to get away.

But when this man, known simply as King, suddenly disappears, Mia will discover she’s not home free. Because without King, she’s no longer safe from his ruthless, depraved, power-hungry social circle.
To survive, Mia will have to conceal King’s absence and walk a mile in the evil man’s twisted, cruel shoes. What she discovers will leave her more terrified and her heart more conflicted than she ever imagined.

King is not who she thought. She wasn’t even close. – Goodreads

One of the things I love the most from the King’s Trilogy, and maybe it has to do with Mimi Jean Pamfiloff’s writing but I have only read this trilogy so I have no comparison, is that the setup of the mystery and the characters are quite multi-layered which makes it intriguing to read. In the first book, we learned the basics of Mia and her dilemma, got hints of King and how he is not quite human and of course, the twisted elite 10 Club and the disturbing people involved. But those are fairly skin deep and leaves a lot of room for both the mystery and the characters to grow. In King For a Day, that was exactly what happened. And no one was left out in this character and situational development process, which is always nice to see, making all the characters meaningful to the story as a whole and more depth for the mystery in this one. At the same time, the scope expands with the story widening to other locations and the extent of King’s “powers” being revealed a little bit more.

King for a Day does fall into a familiar path that I didn’t really want it to go down. Part of it was rather predictable and the story line here really seems to fall away from why I found it unique in the first place. However, Mia stays true to her character and King, well, is King, filled with mystery and discovery. The fantasy of figuring out bad boys really never dies. You know, the quiet and cryptic ones who seem to have a lot to hide and are probably wildly dangerous. This story feeds on that mentality for sure. Its always nice to remember when to pull a character out to cool down a little just as King of a Day does as it removes King and makes him disappear, leaving Mia to fend for herself with the help of King’s loyal helper, Mack. Both properties of King, the 10 Club is ready to claim them and they need to find a way to hide the fact that he is missing even if they know who is behind it all. It add tension when the main character is left in the dark especially when the secrets and dangers seem pressing.

With that said, this is a fast-paced read. Even with the few twists that come in play, there is still a playfulness to this one that transforms quickly into a mix of feelings. It builds primarily the depth of King’s backstory and who he is, while also giving Mia her strength and building upon her learning more about what it means to be a Seer and her abilities. At the same time, what I loved from the first one is that this one teases sexual tension and attraction but manages to keep Mia from doing anything that will betray herself even if she finds this strong attraction and pull to him, not only because she was marked (or claimed) by King. Its been one of the characteristics in this series that I’ve enjoyed a lot.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with King For a Day. Its a worthy sequel. There were some predictable moments but it was a fast-paced read. The story and characters both had a decent amount of development to not only keep the mystery and suspense keeping the matter at hand fairly contained but building on the backstory for King as well as the future of Mia and King as well as their tension. At the same time, the other characters never feel dispensable as they also get a fair growth and development to their characters to make them necessary in the story.

Game Warp Podcast: ‘Little Nightmares’ Review & Theories

The next episode is here! This time Elwood and I sit down to review Little Nightmares, a game by Swedish game developers Tarsier Studios. You may recognize them as they were involved with the Little Big Planet series. Now, they decided to make their first original game which turns out to be this 3D puzzle-stealth platformer, no narrative, atmospheric game starring a 9 year old yellow raincoat clad girl that tries to escape the Maw which has held her captive.

We start off with a discussion and review of the game with minor spoilers. After the ratings, we jump into an additional conversation on theories for those who have played this game and have heavy spoiler alert.

If you haven’t caught up with the game, we have an entire playthrough on our Youtube channel here.

Thanks for watching! 

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