Double Feature: Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) & Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Welcome to the next double feature! Its been at least a month since the last one and I’m slowly feeling up to writing reviews after a 2 week (or so) break after Fantasia! I did watch these two around the beginning of Fantasia Festival.

Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016)

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Director: James Bobin

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway

Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to help the Mad Hatter. – IMDB

Alice Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to the live action Alice in Wonderland. While this live action adaptation is usually negatively rated, I see the flaws but somehow these  whimsical things work okay for myself. It becomes quite entertaining. Alice Through the Looking Glass has its issues and sometimes it doesn’t work as well as it might have hoped for but there are a few redeeming traits here. Lets just get it out there that as many times as I have started reading the source material by Lewis Carroll, I haven’t finished it so I have no idea how similar it is to the book. I do feel that some things were a little over the top in possibly the way it was portrayed however, the whimsical suspension of belief is expected and never a surprise. I like over the top fantastical elements so its why I still watch these movies.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

There is a lot of silliness in Alice Through the Looking Glass. The redeeming character is still always Mia Wasikowska as Alice. She is such a spectacular actress who takes on different types of roles but excels in them. In this one, I loves her outfits and the journey she takes and altogether, keeping to how Alice is with the character traits. To be honest, most of the characters from the previous film did keep in character. Which pretty much means that if you didn’t like the first one, chances are that you might not like this one as it feels a little bit even more odd than before. Something here doesn’t fit together completely and yet I never pinpoint what it is. Perhaps its the weird Anne Hathaway performance as the White Queen and the story behind her and the Queen of Hearts. There is a slight entertainment value to Sacha Baron Cohen as Time.

Visually, Alice Through the Looking Glass delivers just like the first film. The characters also carry a lot of fun elements to them and are a joy to watch. However, the story behind her fighting to retrace the Mad Hatter’s childhood and learning about the White Queen and  Queen of Hearts story as well as having Time chase her through time and space felt a little lacking. Maybe its just not so personal when Alice does learn something about herself through this but the link of everyone in those stories just doesn’t feel like it adds up to more than it should.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Director: Simon Curtis

Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly MacDonald, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther

A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne. – IMDB

I’m not much of a biopic person. If you haven’t noticed, I try to stay away from biopic or drama or something like that. Movies are a means of entertainment to escape from drama so its one of the reasons why they tend to be the least chosen genre in film. I still watch them but they are infrequent. With that said, its hard to resist the biopic of A.A. Milne, the man who brought to life Thousand Acres Woods and Winnie the Pooh and his gang. As much as this is about the fame of Winnie the Pooh and this world, this biopic focuses on A.A. Milne’s relationship with his son and the reason of why this fun and fictional world even exists in the first place.

goodbye Christopher Robin

If there’s something more than Pooh Bear that I can’t resist, its a father and son relationship, well any parent and child relationship usually tugs pretty hard at my heartstrings. It feels pretty genuine in the way that this whole thing is portrayed. Domhnall Gleeson has a huge part in this because he does a fantastic job at portraying A.A. Milne. His character and the father he is and the man that he is and just how what he has gone through has changed him but no one quite understands him, especially his wife, played by Margot Robbie. However, we all have something to thank in this world and even adults sometimes make the choices when they get carried away with a situation and this is how Winnie the Pooh may have saved a lot of kids and was the world for so many people but in the end, it somehow deteriorated this father and son relationship and created a misunderstanding. Its this story and this human relationship that makes this film really good.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a fairly simple story and the feelings and relationship is so genuine that it makes it tug at our heartstrings even more. There’s a lack of communication and a bonding that grows over time because of the choices made by everyone. In some ways, it makes us wonder about this world that has given joy to so many people and yet the bittersweet feelings that come with learning about how there were sacrifices to sharing this world that A.A. Milne created with his son with everyone else and the fame and popularity ate away at their relationship. After you watch this, it feels like its a conflict that never quite gets resolved and whether it feels like everyone else had invaded into someone else’s imaginary world. Maybe I’m thinking too much into it but this movie is pretty bittersweet by the end.

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Ottawa 2018 Haul!

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the radio silence yesterday and well…today as well, I guess! Its been a bit of taking time off every week to sort out my own stuff. Usually, this weekend is when my friend has his Ottawa half marathon and I tag along to help him out. However, this year, I opted out of this duty. Instead, my husband and I both went down to Ottawa to hang out for a little today before his first race for the 5 km. Its humid and a little rainy and well, the sun has arrived back in Montreal but not sure how its doing in Ottawa since I’m home as I’m typing this.

The trip came with a lot of stuff on the to-do list. Yes, I shop with to-do lists if not, I might end up going crazy and just buy everything or sit there and be indecisiveness. Shopping with a goal is what my husband calls it. With that said, we had an idea of what places to hit at Rideau Center and Ottawa before heading back home. This is as timely as this post can get because we just unloaded and I took pictures and here we are!

Rideau Centre 

Eddie Bauer

Eddie Bauer

Marathon weekend is always sales weekend for Eddie Bauer. Normally, Eddie Bauer’s stuff is expensive and usually rightfully so because its very durable especially for the hiking lovers like me and my husband. However, the only time we buy it is during sale time or else it would just be way out of budget. This year was a 40% off on everything in store. We both wanted to get new caps and new hiking pants. I got the blue capris and the blue cap and he got the beige pants that can be changed to shorts and the lighter color cap.

Disney Store

Disney Store

For those who don’t know, I collect Disney plushies. I had stopped the actual normal sized plushies for a while and was trying to get all the Animator series ones which are much more reasonable in storage. Regardless of that, when I see one that I like, I always tend to pick it up. I’m actually planning on keeping track of my collection over on Avenue of Daydreams some time this year. It would be fun to have an archive of the many things I collect and that seemed like a nice place to do it. Either way, Flower from Bambi was on sale so I picked it up. At the same time, I also saw little Piglet as well. I have a Tigger which is in the same style. These two were definitely coming home with me.

Squish Candy

Squish Candy

Last year I had gone to Squish and got the Prosecco Bears and they were super delicious. They expanded their cocktail line and this time, my husband chose the Bourbon Cubes ans Sake Sakura and I chose the Wine O’Clock. I’m hoping that these will turn out to be equally delicious. They had a few other ones with sangria and such and those definitely has peaked my interest but for another time.

LCBO

LCBO

Embracing the love of trying out VQA Ontario wines, LCBO was a must-go. I found a Riesling to try out eventually and my husband’s colleague had recommended the Big House Pinot Grigio and we saw it so we ended up picking up the bottle and he wanted to also get the can version. As for myself, I also saw another Cider from Brickworks Ciderhouse. I had tried another one earlier this year and was really impressed so having some high hopes for this one also.

Second Stop: T&T Supermarket

T&T Supermarket T&T Supermarket T&T Supermarket

I mean, I’m pretty much thinking about groceries all the time so T&T Supermarket is always one of my stops. I don’t usually post about it but this time, we had some interesting finds. The herbal drinks from Hung Fook Tong had a new flavor. My husband picked out the Orange Ramune soda drink. I always get some dimsum, which I did but ended up eating on the trip back so not shown here. But there is also some pot stickers and vietnamese chicken lunch box and some BBQ Pork. The main goal this time was to get some sticky rice for the Dragonboat Festival. They had fresh ones which would be preferable if I had gone 2 weeks later but for now, I got the frozen in case I don’t end up going. However, the snacks we picked (and saw) were quite unique to say the least. Lay’s had these cucumber chips (and they also had lime flavor). I wonder if its an excuse to feel like you were being healthier when making that choice. Then we saw these Potato Wish brand which had the Steak and Red Wine Flavor and well, it looks like Ringolos but they are called Roller Coaster.

That’s it for the haul!
Nothing too special but a few unique finds!

Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

I reviewed Pete’s Dragon for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon as part of a double feature, but I never do double features for Disney films due to the segment I’m working on for Baking Through Disney. Baking is going to happen soon but meanwhile, I will keep these Disney film reviews going as I get back into the baking routine. I will however jump right back to watching the movies in order of release starting the next one, which should be Bambi.

With that said, let’s check this one out. If you already read it in the double feature, its the same one posted again here with slight additions.

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Pete's Dragon

Director: Don Chaffey

Cast: Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters

An orphan boy and his magical dragon come to town with his abusive adoptive parents in pursuit. – IMDB

Mary Poppins opened up a world of blending animated characters with real characters and to be fair, there’s a few segments in Pete’s Dragon that calls back to it, particularly the song and dance of I Saw A Dragon which has somewhat of a Chim Chiminey where the bar replaces the rooftop choreography. Its amazing how its taken so long to catch up with Pete’s Dragon and really not know too much about it. Pete’s Dragon is a fun little adventurous tale filled with friendship, family and packs in a decent amount of laughs and emotions, along with a lot of nice musical pieces.

Pete's Dragon

Being a fan of Mary Poppins, the appeal of Pete’s Dragon struck me almost instantaneously especially when Pete’s Dragon, Elliott is around quite a bit and he is designed fairly friendly with tufts of pink hair and wings contrasting with this green body which actually makes Elliott one of the most charming parts. Pete and Elliott’s friendship is an odd one and its also why for a good part of the film, no one actually believed him and took Elliott as something of an imaginary friend sort of deal, which of course, it wasn’t. In fact, Elliott actually parallels a little like Mary Poppins instead he is a dragon that helps kids in need and then moves on when his job is done. Which is pretty much what Mary Poppins does but she is much more there. Drawing comparisons to Mary Poppins a lot here because there was a strong sense of similarities between the two, however, being similar to Mary Poppins is a not a bad thing, in fact, its what makes Pete’s Dragon so much fun to watch.

Pete's Dragon

There is also a variety of other characters. The first being the lady who takes Pete in in times of need with his somewhat eccentric drunk dad who gets into a ton of shenanigans. The dad is played by Mickey Rooney which is quite a funny role. Aside from that, there are the bandit family who are the supposed adopted family of Pete who pretty much tries to capture him back so that he can be their slave. These guys are like the odd and somewhat stupid family who is trying to be mean. It is quite suitable for kids because perhaps for kids they will feel somewhat scary but we all know that they are never going to feel too threatening. And then, finally there are the con artists in the magician or healer character who travels around with his cures with his sidekick. All he cares about is money and he turns into the guy who tries to get Elliott. Because of both the dangers to Elliott and Pete, we can see their friendship as well as the adventure part be fit in tightly into this story and it works to its advantage.

Pete's Dragon

Pete’s Dragon is filled with musical segments. It definitely has a lot of really catchy songs. Some energetic and others soothing to listen to but all in all, rather positive messages all around. In fact, I’d like to think that Pete’s Dragon takes a look at finding a place to belong and not losing hope for a better tomorrow. Its a hopeful film and one that teaches a lot about friendship and just emotions in general as Pete leaves for the big world and faces the situations no matter how scared he actually is about not finding someplace to be and what to expect next. And that is essentially what makes Pete’s Dragon a nice little family film.

Now that I’ve seen the original, I wonder how the 2017 version would be especially probably with CGI for Elliott although I do think that part of the charm of the film was the drawn animations for Elliott.

Toronto & EGLX Haul!

We sneaked off for a little work and play trip to Toronto to cover EGLX and explored a little. To be accurate, we were in the surrounding Toronto areas and stayed in Markham. And of course, we met up with Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews, my darling Ultimate Decades Blogathon co-host like the past two years for celebration and fun friends hangout. This year, we decided to not go to Toronto Comicon and switched it to EGLX (Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo…something like that).

With that said, we picked up a few things here and there.

First stop: Pacific Mall

Glasses at Noble Optical

I have gotten my last three pairs of glasses here and my husband got his last pair here so when time to change, we got our new prescriptions and came to look for a new pair. He ended up with his 4th pair in a row of Hugo Boss glasses (never intended) and I had some struggles with this year’s style and ended up with a slightly bigger frame Ray-ban. Never thought I would get Ray-bans but they had a lovely matte finish and looked pretty good. I am still adapting to this new look but it happens all the time after a big purchase.

Noble Optical is pretty cool because they can get the glasses done the day of purchase which is useful for us because we come from out of town so we wanted it to adapt to new glasses over the weekend with our new prescriptions and everything worked out great.

The Best Shop

A little houseware shopping here as we picked up some kitchenware and a shower curtain. Nothing special just a little random purchases we found.

Egg Rolls

A staple of Toronto is picking up these sweet egg rolls usually as a little gift. They are delicious.

Location: Toronto Zoo
Toronto Zoo Cap

My husband loves caps. He gets a good few every year and the Toronto Zoo one had nice colors and the logo was really stylish. So it worked well for him.

Victoria’s Secret

I initially went into Victoria’s Secret to see what style of sports bras were available and whether they were on sale. To my surprise, the quality and design just wasn’t what I wanted. Walking out I saw these T-shirt bras that were so cute plus they had a 2 for $55 sale so I went for it, considering one is usually $43.

LCBO

It wouldn’t be a trip to Ontario without stopping at LCBO for some VQA wines which we can rarely find in SAQ stores. First one is the seasonal rose wine called Sibling Rivalry. The next is a new tasting white Moscato wine called Fresh Beginnings. My husband chose the Innis and Gunn ale beer and I chose a local apple cider drink called Queen Street 501 by Brickstreet Ciderhouse. The next wine recap will review these ones.

Location: EGLX 2018

Studio VTAS

The big day for the trip was definitely EGLX for myself since it is kind of work and play. We didn’t pick up any games however, we did have a goal to fill up a few walls in our house with art and we found two places that we just loved. I had never seen these two artists either so it was a lovely find. The first above is from Studio VTAS. Not sure what the name is exactly but you can find her on Instagram and Twitter. The silhouette ones are beautiful. She also has a fantastic Studio Ghibli collection. Lots of great art here.

Mariya Haponenko

The second artist created these original art called Crystal Monsters at least the one on the right is that. There is an obvious influence for its general design but its inspired by the galaxy and botany for artist Mariya Haponenko. They were slightly pricey but I do love to support indie artists and they were just too awesome to pass up. I love the design of the galaxy one but the botany ones have a really cool technique of pressing glass together or something like that. I’m not artist but the way she described it was very cool.

Location: Vaughan Mills
Disney Store

In theme with yesterday’s Moana review, I actually picked up Pua. There was a sweet deal on plushes at the Disney outlet there and I just couldn’t resist. On a side note, over on Avenue of Daydreams, I will be archiving my Disney plush collection. Still thinking of how to structure it but it will happen soon.

Location: Big Apple

Final stop whenever we go to Toronto by car is The Big Apple where they have a ton of pies and other apple baked goods. This, time, my husband wanted the brownies (not apples at all) but he said it tasted delicious. I got the Apple Strudel and we got an apple pie for my mother in law.

Thats it for this Toronto and EGLX haul!
Enjoy this post as I sort through 1000+ photos for the trip to share!

Moana (2016)

Its a lovely Sunday morning! Nothing like talking about some Disney! Today’s we look at 2016’s Disney film, Moana.

Moana (2016)

moana

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams

Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches Moana’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. – IMDB

The 2016 Disney film went to Moana. There was a lot of love for it because of its story and its strong female character and that this story isn’t the traditional princess finding a prince story but an independent girl following her destiny and saving her island. For all the above, I do like Moana a lot.

moana

 

Is Moana my favorite Disney movie? It isn’t. I can think of a few that are better crafted. However, it is a solid entry and a nice way for Disney to embrace the stronger women image. We had started seeing it in Frozen with Elsa and now at Moana, she truly is doing what she can without the added love story (like in Mulan). There is nothing wrong with love stories and for my own roots, I loved to see Mulan get its spot in Disney even if the story was never about love but about her courage, bravery for her family, much like Moana’s is. Seeing that Moana took the angle to simply avoid the love story angle and be about her getting over her obstacles was a really nice take. Moana also is colorful and visually appealing. It has to do with the warm setting and the vast open sea adventure that she takes. It still has the magical element which works well. In terms of characters, it also has of course, Dwayne Johnson who plays Maui, the demigod who caused all the problems in the first place and she has to find to fix it all. There are some cute sidekicks like the Moana pig and a silly one which is a weird and dumb chicken called Heihei. The grandmother plays the other role as an inspirational figure and something of a guiding light.

moana

 

Finally, a Disney film isn’t one without its musical elements. Moana definitely has a few fun and catchy songs. Our house is obsessed with You’re Welcome. The mention of it usually has that song stuck in our head for a while (guess what song is in my head now…). I can’t say that I love the soundtrack all that much though. It has some fun songs but nothing stuck a whole lot. But that might be because its so new and I haven’t watched it a ton of times. As nicely constructed and visually appealing as Moana is, its still somewhat of a good but not great experience. I love what its trying to do and it honestly all works together but somehow, I feel like its missing a certain grab for myself and I’m not completely sure why.

However, putting my own preferences aside, Moana is a well-crafted film. Its one that will have elements for both adults and children alike especially with its colorful environment and fun songs as well as its inspiring and silly characters, both human and animals. Its is a nice direction for Disney to take and I appreciate all of what it has achieved with Moana. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of these sort of films which help empower women characters and send them on some fun and adventurous quests.

Finding Dory (2017)

Baking Through Disney has hit quite the snag but I am working on catching up on some Pixar and Disney titles in the meantime. I needed a lighthearted movie and decided to give Finding Dory a go.

Lets check it out!

Finding Dory (2017)

Finding Dory

Director: Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane

Voice Cast:  Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory, begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way. – IMDB

Following the success of Finding Nemo, Pixar continues in this universe with Finding Dory. While it still features our favorite father and son clownfishes, this time’s star is Dory and her search for her parents and where she came from. Dory is a great supporting character in Finding Nemo but the question here is whether she can carry an entire movie by herself and that was also my hesitation. Other than the Toy Story trilogy, lets just say that I’ve been disappointed with Pixar sequels so this one had the same idea as making a movie out of the Minions from Despicable Me (which I haven’t seen but will soon since it just landed on Netflix) and Penguins from Madagascar (which I have seen and reviewed here). They turn out fun and a good time but never quite has the meaningful and memorable punch that some of the Pixar movies have been able to deliver.

Finding Dory

The good part is that Finding Dory delivered everything I expected it to be. It was fun and silly and had some hilarious characters and moments. Was it a necessary movie? Probably not. Its fairly easy to see where the story was going to go but it was a cute, especially the baby Dory was absolutely adorable. It had a nice message about family, just as Finding Nemo had but somehow, it felt like it still lacked a little bit more substance, maybe its because it felt so much like watching a Finding Nemo movie that it lacked some uniqueness. There’s been a lot of sequels for everything kind of movie in the last decade (maybe longer) so its hard to not hope that a sequel can deliver a little more.

finding dory

With all that said, Finding Dory excelled with some fun characters to match up the vibrantly forgetful Dory, voiced by the ever so talented Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen herself makes me happy so its hard to not love having an excuse to watch Dory’s origin story. Dory, Marlin and Nemo are exactly as fun as you would expect them to be. Of course, some of the new characters really did make it a lot of fun. Hank is a cranky octopus who wants to escape the aquarium and helps Dory only to get her ticket out of there. In the process, his many octopus abilities helps them out a lot while still realizing that a big scary octopus like him still has his fears. On the other hand, much nicer sea creatures here is Dory’s childhood friend, a whale shark called Destiny who they used to talk to via the aquarium pipes and Destiny’s aquarium neighbor, a Beluga whale who had a concussion and thinks he lost his sonar abilities. All of them together is absolutely a riot and its a ton of fun to watch.

Finding Dory

Overall, Finding Dory is a fun entertaining adventure and while there was some predictability in it, its still an enjoyable Pixar film. Pixar always comes with great animation and colorful palettes. The underwater aspect gives it this cool touch. While still the movies and has some level of imagination is a nice entry point for kids to know about different underwater creatures, I would imagine. Other parents who post about kids reaction to animated films probably would provide a better opinion on this. I loved marine animals (and still do) since I was a kid so whale sharks, beluga whales and colorful tropical fish, etc are all my favorite things so this movie really hit the spot for me on that level.

TV Binge: Once Upon A Time (Season 4, 2014)

It has been WAY too long since the last time I watched Once Upon A Time. I watched Season 3 at least 2 years ago. Look at them now, its Season 7 and apparently the whole cast has changed. Anyways, I finally decided it was time so here we are. Hopping into Season 4 knowing only that Frozen princesses are included in the mix.

Once Upon a Time (Season 4)

Creator: Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis

Cast: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Colin O’ Donoghue, Emilie de Ravin, Robert Carlyle, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, Victoria Smurfit, Georgina Haig, Kristin Bauer van Straten Elizabeth Lail, Merrin Dungey

I’ve always like how people use the fairy tale characters and twist their stories or their nature. That is exactly what Once Upon a Time has always excelled at. Jumping back in, it feels like I never left with the exception of a few details that I needed to read up to remind myself or most that came naturally through the characters’ conversations. Season 4 is an all around fun time. Its pretty much split into a few plots. The first is how Elsa is stuck in Storybrooke and then Anna and Kristoff also get there and they realize that its the Snow Queen that has been behind this the whole time. The second being of Rumpelstiltskin who wants to get his bond broken from the dagger so he can have his happy ending and this leads us to the hunt for the writer of Henry’s Storybook and also bringing in three villainesses: Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella de Vil.

once upon a time

These three plot lines were all great. For one, Elsa and Anna when this series aired was probably riding the wave from Disney’s Frozen. Its costume and characters are also inspired by it. All factors that work well. They do brings in how the Snow Queen factors into all of this. We will discuss villains later. Elsa and Anna’s tale factors into the whole Prince Charming link and its really nice to see how everyone works together. Putting that one aside, the hunt for the author started out for Regina and a little secret project she had with Henry. Its incredible to see that Regina having a lot of growth here even in one dangerous moments somewhat mocking her old self. Emma and Hook also have the center stage which I love to death. If only they could have just one moment of peace and be together, that would be so great.

once upon a time

The villains here are quite inspired. The Snow Queen’s final showdown was pretty great as it brought a lot of quarrel which in some part was more comedic than anything. Another plan going awry send Rumpelstiltskin to his depths as he searches for his happy ending and its pretty fun to watch them get pulled back into another story and get back out then proving that no matter what villains come into the picture, and how competent they could be like Cruella de Vil, Ursula and Maleficent, Rumpelstiltskin is still the most powerful enemy they could have. Is that more a compliment on how great of a character they’ve created or that the writers are out of ideas on how to create better villains? I choose the former because I’m a fan of the show and this season still was pretty good.

once upon a time

Season 4 was a jam-packed affair though. There were tons of plots and tangents. It had so many characters enter the scene and they tried to give them all a backstory while also dealing with the going ons of Storybrooke. It might have been a slight overkill but at least it never gets boring and thats all good for me.

Thats it this TV binge! Its time for Season 5!