The 5th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon: The Land Before Time (1988)

The 5th Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon is going on this weekend from August 21 to 23. You can see what this blogathon is all about HERE.

The Land Before Time (1988)

The Land Before Time

Director: Don Bluth

Voice Cast: Pat Hingle, Gabriel Damon, Candace Hutson, Will Ryan, Judith Barsi, Helen Shaver, Burke Byrnes, Bill Erwin

An orphaned brontosaurus teams up with other young dinosaurs in order to reunite with their families in a valley. – IMDB

The Land Before Time has run over 25 years with 13 direct to video musical sequels in its entire franchise, 1988’s The Land Before Time first movie that started it all is a strong beginning and one worth revisiting years later to see if it lives up to expectations while also, in the heart of the blogathon, discuss the music composed by James Horner.

The Land Before Time is a fun family friendly children’s movie set in the prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It focuses on a group of little dinos of different herds that end up together because they are separated by an earthquake. As an animated and children’s film, The Land Before Time is pretty good. The dinosaur designs are pretty cute from the color choice of each type of dinosaur and the design of how they show their characteristics when they hatch from an egg and their baby dino appearances to later on when the movie pulls them together on the adventure. Not to mention that each of them are very adorable and they balance each other in personality which makes it a lot of fun to watch.

The children movie elements does bring in a lot of good themes from teamwork and friendship being a big part to include family as well. A lot of the story is about the adventure they go on to get to the Great Valley and finding their way together from meeting the T-rex to getting lost on the way and facing difficulties together. The family element brings in the big scene of the bond of parents and child. All these elements work together to put together a great story. Not to mention the narration by Pat Hingle is really nice and how the story is laid out.

The music in The Land Before Time is also quite nice. The theme is very well-known from now on and fairly familiar. The music is used a lot during the adventure moments to boost the fun elements while having the quiet orchestral music to carry forward the more emotional scenes effectively. At the same time, there is some areas where its used as a subtle background music as well. Every bit of the music adds to the story and tone.

Overall, The Land Before Time remains a great animated family film. Its unique because of its adorable characters, its beautiful music as well as its fun adventurous story.

Previous years of Remembering James Horner Blogathon
Once Upon A Forest (1993)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
The 33 (2015)
The Perfect Storm (2000)

Double Feature: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) & The Lodge (2019)

A little of an early announcement that this the last double feature for August. Double Feature will resume in September however, don’t worry, movie reviews will be the main focus for the next two weeks. The double feature is wrapping up the rentals that I’ve been working through. One is an movie that released earlier this year as video game adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog and that is paired with independent horror movie, The Lodge.

Let’s check it out!

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Director: Jeff Fowler

Cast: Ben Schwartz (voice), James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell

After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help him defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on him. – IMDB

Video game adaptations seem to be more and more of late. Maybe its the surge of video game popularity or something but Sonic the Hedgehog is a fairly classic game and its one of my faves and because of this and the cast involved, it was one that I had on my radar. With the pandemic happening, it was something that just fell through until it circulated around on the rentals list. Sonic the Hedgehog has a similar tone to Pokemon Detective Pikachu and it has to do with aiming towards a younger audience for the most part and having the family/children’s live action with CG animated characters mesh.

With that said, Sonic the Hedgehog does manage to deliver on the children’s elements and a lot of the essence of the characters involved. There’s quite a bit of charm to each of them. Its a harmless and entertaining movie that aims to be an enjoyable experience and lands on its comedic points. For the older audience, it might be the charming element of Jim Carrey going back to his comedic roots like The Mask and Ace Venture: Pet Detective style with some jokes and movements really giving those vibes a lot as he portrays the villain Doctor Eggman.

Sonic is voiced by Ben Schwartz which is a fun character in general, both portraying the speedy blue hedgehog and as an actor himself. He is a good choice for the role and works it out really well. Sonic in CG animated form is pretty hilarious as well. Paired up with a rather dynamic performance by James Marsden, its a fun ride. There are some truly over the top moments but with the cast and material on hand, its rather expected.

The Lodge (2019)

Directors (and co-writers): Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place. – IMDB

The Lodge is a slow-paced atmospheric horror film. Its filmed in Montreal (where I am) which is why a lot of the road going up to the cabin looks incredibly familiar to myself which makes the isolated lodge in the familiar gloomy winter landscape feel even more unsettling. The Lodge builds on its quiet moments and its subtle sounds and creating this dark atmosphere. Whether its between the characters stuck in this lodge or dealing with the past and the events that happen, its all comes to spiral out of control even after the twist is revealed. It shows the dynamic and mentality between children and adults as well as the unsettled and unhinged mind. The setting creates a lot of the atmosphere to build up this story giving it the isolation and separation and even helplessness when things go bad.

At the same time, a lot of the movie is built up by its characters. The abrupt moments at the beginning and the simple-minded thoughts of children dealing with their soon-to-be stepmother and the nonacceptance of this new person in their lives followed by the dark past of said person all comes into play. Riley Keough delivers an outstanding performance as Grace, the soon to be stepmother who is trapped in this lodge with the two kids who are mostly ignoring her with the brother Aiden, played by Jaeden Martell being a big influence on the situation and having some unsettling moments of his own. Jaeden Martell made quite the performance in IT: Chapter One (review) previously and in The Lodge, its a different dynamic in his character.

The Lodge excels in its atmosphere and its characters and the surprise element that creeps along in the background until its final reveal. The way it concludes also takes a shocking path. This movie resides in knowing the least possible going in and experiencing its story so I won’t say any more. I do highly recommend it.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Maniac (1980) & Matilda (1996)

Taking a moment to get back to our alphabet double feature as we continue onto the M selections. The first is a 1980s slasher Maniac followed by 1996 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name Matilda. Let’s check it out!

Maniac (1980)

Maniac 1980

Director: William Lustig

Cast: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper

A psychotic man, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in New York City, kills young women and takes their scalps as his trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in a photographer, and end his killing spree? – IMDB

Maniac is an odd film. Its not a particularly long one and the premise itself is rather spine-chilling. There’s this appeal of the abrupt attacks that this serial killer deals with its victims. The aftermath of taking the scalps and the whole killer by himself is all fairly well-done psychologically especially in terms of its final act to the actual final moments that are actually the best part of the film in terms of delivering its final surprise.

However, Maniac has a lot of elements that didn’t quite work for it. It could be that the film didn’t really age too well from the 80s until now or its the general lack of appeal that I’ve had lately for 80s films. I feel like its more of a personal preference element. One thing that I truly didn’t appreciate though was how each scene of killing or hunting its victim was filled with this overlap of heavy breathing sounds that seemed like it was added in afterwards to make the scene more nerve-wrecking except it was more annoying and retracted from those scenes.

Its obvious that Maniac didn’t quite work for me (or my husband). The story itself has something there so I’m interested to see whether the 2012 remake will land a little better.

Matilda (1996)

matilda

Director: Danny DeVito

Cast: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris, Paul Reubens, Tracey Walter, Kiami Davael

Story of a wonderful little girl, who happens to be a genius, and her wonderful teacher vs. the worst parents ever and the worst school principal imaginable. – IMDB

Having read a few of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels when I was younger, Matilda has been one that I’ve never read before although I might have owned it at some point (or it might be in a box somewhere when I moved, I can’t remember). However, its been a movie on my radar for all the time that its been released since Mara Wilson in the child actor days was absolutely fantastic. Matilda is something of an odd movie but yet its one that’s a tad over the top in all the characters especially when it comes to the actions of the principal Trunchbull, played amazing by Pam Ferris. But then, children’s films tend to have these silly and ridiculous moments to give it that extra entertainment value.

Mara Wilson is definitely the charming element of this film. As well as her parents played by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman which was downright hilarious as they were simply ridiculous parents. They almost seem like the inspiration behind the parents in this year’s Netflix animated film, The Willoughbys (review). As she learns about her abilities, Matilda is so much fun to watch since she uses her powers essentially to payback the adults that have been mean to her. Sure, we’re not supposed to encourage the concept of revenge but its all about teaching a lesson to bullies who deserve it and standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, just like taking on this actual bond with her teacher, Miss Honey played by Embeth Davidtz.

Matilda is fun children’s movie. The premise is good and while I haven’t read the source material, its one that I would like to check out for fun. The cast is incredibly colorful and suitably over the top as it fits the genre.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen this two films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: A.M.I. (2019) & Albion: The Enchanted Stallion (2016)

Next Double Feature is here! Its been a while since I’ve gone on an alphabet double feature! This time, I’m going to try to work through both Netflix and Shudder titles for the pairing as much as possible. Its a decision that I made after the A selections though so here we are! A selection starts with 2019 horror film A.M.I. and then followed by 2016’s indie fantasy-adventure film Albion: The Enchanted Stallion. Let’s check it out!

A.M.I. (2019)

A.M.I.

Director (and co-writer): Rusty Nixon

Cast: Debs Howard, Philip Granger, Bonnie Hay, Sam Robert Muik, Veronica Hampson, Havana Guppy

A seventeen year old girl forms a co-dependent relationship with an artificial intelligence on her phone and goes on a murderous rampage. – IMDB

Movies based on AI and possibly corrupted or misused technology is definitely been on the rise. We did recently watch Child’s Play remake (review) and then there’s been a few short films screened at film festivals that had that sort of concept as well. A.M.I. plays with that concept where the AI becomes the mother figure anchor for Cassie, who loses her mother and can’t seem to see eye to eye with her father, grows distant with her friends (who aren’t all that great) and then a scumbag of a boyfriend. With all these factors, A.M.I. turns into her “person” and eventually becomes the manipulating force that drives her to start killing all those that have wronged her.

The story and premise, while not entirely fresh, has a decent foundation. The only issue is that the film is filled with really bad characters. Bad in the sense that they are truly bad people with some really warped sense of friendship, love, relationships, etc. As Cassie breaks down from seeing everyone’s true personality, her character is supposed to have some kind of pity, I suppose but then, the story never gives enough to make her feel that way and instead brings her straight into this rampage that she goes on. The characters here are built so incredibly thin and so unwelcoming that its hard to side with any of them and care about what happens to them either. A part of that might have to do with some overacting on all parts and some ridiculous dialogue.

A.M.I. has a lot of issues that hides the fact that the premise itself wasn’t a bad one and has some creepy parts but the tone it chooses and the characters it uses during this makes it actually a rather funny movie. Perhaps if it didn’t feel like it took itself that seriously, it would have been a fun little movie romp to have a good laugh at some of the ridiculous bits that happen.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion (2016)

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion

Director (and co-writer): Castille Landon

Cast: Avery Arendes, Stephen Dorff, Castille Landon, Daniel Sharman, John Cleese, Liam McIntyre, Jennifer Morrison

A twelve-year-old girl is transported by a magical black stallion to the mystical world of ALBION, where she discovers that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people. – IMDB

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion is a fun little fantasy adventure. There’s a lot of creativity here and introduces a new fantasy world that the young girl enters unknowingly on the back of a stallion that she tends to. In this world, she learns that its not all coincidence and yet has something linked to herself and it gives her the courage and bravery to do the right thing and help her newfound friends in saving the people in this magical world called Albion.

Albion is a world split between the good and bad. There are people fighting to regain the balance that once was despite its perils and challenges. Evie is brought into this world and almost doesn’t believe that things that she experiences and tries to find a way back. Its a fun world to say the least. Plus, each of the characters that she meets is rather entertaining as well. They run into their own dangers and while some of the characters could have a little more depth, this is something of a family film (although there are some rather disgusting bits), it satisfies the adventurous tale that it wants to tell. Everyone’s character whether good or bad has its own standout moments. Special mention to Jennifer Morrison who plays The Abbess and her part is absolutely awesome.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion has its little issues here and there but it executes itself pretty well and its a harmless little film that packs in a lot of fun dialogue and banter and also brings in some colorful characters. I’d definitely say that its something of a hidden gem and a pleasant surprise in the landscape of family fantasy adventure films.

That’s it for the A title double feature!
Have you seen these movies? Thoughts?

The Willoughbys (2020)

The Willoughbys (2020)

the willoughbys

Director: Kris Pearn, Rob Lodermeier, Cory Evans

Cast (voice): Ricky Gervais, Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Sean Cullen, Brian Drummond

Convinced they’d be better off raising themselves, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family. – IMDB

There’s nothing like a quirky and colorful animated film to bring in some joy. The Willoughbys fills that really well. While its a bit of everything mushed together and incredibly random, (maybe you can call it imaginative), it manages to be clever especially as its full of little references of other popular things from movies and whatnot in their own version that makes it absolutely enjoyable to watch. That’s something that I’ve always appreciated in movies. It starts off with narration a little like A Series of Unfortunate Events and then the story moves on and these children are a little random like the Despicable Me kids and then we move forward the characters they meet including their parents are all very extreme in their own ways. It still manages to be quite entertaining.

The Willoughbys has a decent cast behind it and a few of them are pretty recognizable. First of all, we start of with Ricky Gervais being the narrator who is a cat that lingers in the neighborhood and just like Gervais’s humor, he delivers some funny narration that carries the story from one scene to the next. The parents who love each other so much that they don’t have any love left for their kids is voiced by Martin Short and Jane Krakowski, who are suitably mean for a family film. The nanny is voiced by Maya Rudolph who I’ve always loved and found incredibly underrated but her enthusiasm really carries through into the nanny here and adds so much fun. Then, on their city escape, the kids ends up meeting a Willy Wonka parallel sort of character voiced by Terry Crews whose voice is very unique and wildly entertaining all the time.

The Willoughbys is incredibly silly and at times some of the things that happen are a little absurd however somehow it all works together. There’s a lot to love here with the story progression. The kids themselves are trapped inside their world and each have their own personalities that somewhat balance each other out. They also have the heart to be true Willoughbys and defining what makes a good person and making good choices even if they don’t have the best approaches. At the same time, its a touching story about family whether its between the siblings or the finding them along the way.

You know what The Willoughbys is? Its simply a great time. Its full of laughs and adventures, mistakes and bad decisions and most of all, learning the meaning of family. There’s clever dialogue, fun characters and some pretty great voice cast tossed into the mix. Its charming, clever and colorful: three things that I love in animated films. Totally recommend this one!

Double Feature: Black Panther (2018) & A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

Next Double Feature here! This time its multi-themed, I guess. Both 2018 movies and also part of the Disney movies so we have A Wrinkle in Time and paired with Marvel’s Black Panther. Not the same type of movies or directed to the same audience but I figured it was the best way to pair it together. Let’s check it out!

Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther

Director (and co-writer): Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past. – IMDB

Marvel movies are pretty much churning out non-stop at this point with multiple film releases in a year. Black Panther had a lot of buzz and praise. While we had already seen T’Challa show up in a previous Marvel movie, this one takes place after Captain America: Civil War where we did see T’Challa appear in (I think) and while not an origin story is somewhat of the story of Wakanda, their rituals and land as well as how the kingdom is run. It also shows the rise and fall from the kingdom for T’Challa as he finds his way back to the throne. Its not meant to be a bad comment but I actually felt a lot like I was watching the story of The Lion King.

As with the majority of Marvel movies, its the length that really bothers me and its also one of the reasons why its taken so long to catch up with Black Panther. While I still think the movie was a tad longer than it needed to be and dragged in some parts and its still a rather superhero formula type of movie, what stands out in Black Panther is the unique kingdom and clans that surround it and seeing the different characters fall apart or become allies. There’s a sense of true pride with the characters and Chadwick Boseman is really good as Black Panther.

In terms of villains, its somewhat of a two-fold villain where Andy Serkis plays one part of it and then Michael B. Jordan plans the second part of it. Villains are always one of the weaknesses of Marvel movies in my opinion as it has so much focus on the superhero coming out on top that it makes the villain less threatening because it just never has the time to build. In this case, its not exactly great but I’d say that Michael B. Jordan makes for a better villain and it might be simply because the reasoning behind what he does makes sense and has its own backstory that gets revealed and connects everything together.

Overall, Black Panther is decent. I can’t say that I’m running back to watch it mostly for its length. But, in terms of Marvel films, this one falls somewhere in the middle due it having some unique origin story elements, character development and Wakanda “world” building elements.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

A Wrinkle in Time

Director: Ava DuVernay

Cast: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena

After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him. – IMDB

Live action fantasy adventure films for family/children is always a little bit of hit and miss when it comes to Disney offerings. A Wrinkle in Time is based on a 1962 novel of the same name that I haven’t read so I have no comparison to source material and really just how it delivers as the movie. A Wrinkle in Time falls somewhere in the middle. Its feels a bit like pieces stuck together so always has that disjointed feeling but at the same time, the new world is fantastical and just like the three astral travelers, they all happen to be a little odd as well. Its really a search for a father who has gone missing as they chase down where he might have gone because of his research and how the planet needs their help in order to battle the darkness which leaks into their own planet and causes negative things to happen, like bullying and envy. With that said, the sentimental elements here are done pretty well in terms of a family film. Visually, the movie also delivers on all the fantasy and sci-fi elements which is where the story itself truly has a lot of fun.

The cast itself is decent as well with a lot of star power behind it. The three astral travelers are played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling who each have a little personality that balances each other out and their own abilities. The older kids are played Storm Reid and Levi Miller who does a decent job as well. There are other performances by Michael Pena and Zach Galifianakis. All the characters are a tad quirky and there’s a little cryptic element as they go through this search towards helping save this planet from their dangers. The story is a little messy at times but there is a decent level of imagination in what it presents. To be fair, its not completely engrossing to watch but at the same time, its a pretty harmless family film. You get what you’d expect from a Disney family adventure film pretty much.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

My December Adventures!

Its the last day of December. Isn’t that crazy? I’m doing this on the last day instead of tomorrow since we have 2020 business to take care of then so shifting things up a little. We’re going through the very busy December and all kinds of recap and seemingly a bunch of shopping and gifts and fairs and outings, etc.

Fingers crossed that all will go as planned as writing in December has been a bit all over the place… (it hasn’t because this is going up much later than expected)

CRHS Annual Craft Fair (December 1)

DIY Christmas

You can see the post on it HERE.

Marbled Ornaments

Next up, I went along and tried out some Marbled Ornaments as well! Which was mostly a failed attempt in general but did decide that its a project to further pursue and figure out. Plus, its some nice way to use up old nail polish so that its not just thrown out without some form of recycling/repurposing. You can check my post on that HERE.

Marché Casse-Noisette & Mini-Comiccon

Marche Casse -Noisette took place from November 28 to December 8 at Palais des Congres which happened to overlap with Mini Montreal Comiccon held December 7 and 8 also at Palais des Congres just one was in the main hall and the other was upstairs. With that said, it made sense to go and check out both at the same time. While the haul wasn’t particularly a lot, it was a first time visit for both place for myself. Some nice discoveries to be found. I will definitely go check the Marché Casse-Noisette again but probably not the Mini Comiccon as its rather lackluster.

Salon des Metiers d’Art 2019

Salon des metiers d'art 2019

  • Coach House Shortbread Company: Dark Chocolate & Salt; Almond & Rose; Ginger
  • La Nougaterie: Salt Flower Caramel; Dark Chocolate; Christmas
  • Nutra Fruit: Chocolate Covered Cranberry; Dark Chocolate- Cranberry Spread
  • Cidrerie du Minot: Des Glaces
  •  Choco Chocolat: Dark Chocolate; Dark Hazelnut

A lot of the SMAQ 2019 sales is about the same as previous years, the exception being that I bought the spread from Nutra Fruit and the chocolate from Choco Chocolat, which I believe is a new booth this year at the Salon. Most of this stuff is for festival party time and gifts and whatnot.

Ottawa Day Trip

Mavericks Donut

We took a quick trip with a friend to go to Ottawa to do some quick errands. We had a nice lunch at Fatboys (post about our first time HERE) and then finally found time to go grab some donuts at Mavericks Donut, which they had 4 dairy-free flavors and the husband and the friend each chose 4 to get a dozen. After that, I finally brought home Pumbaa from Disney Store to join Timon at our place and then picks up some wine at LCBO and some food in preparation for NYE dinner plans at T&T Supermarket.

Holiday Festivities: Christmas Dinners & NYE Hotpot

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Christmas Eve dinner was a ton of fun with a lot of people at the in-laws. It was a fun little event with some surprise gifts for ourselves which we didn’t expect to get anything in the first place. My mom wanted to have a turkey feast (as shown above) so she held a dinner and invited us and some of her own friends for dinner and here we have the overzealous food galore. Everything was delicious as usual. NYE is a hotpot meal and part of the Battle of Ingredients festivities so a separate post will be done for that.

Boxing Day Shopping Haul

Boxing Day this year has been a little less exciting. It has to do a lot with the fact that we’ve been trying to decrease expenses and its truly changed the spending habits into being very cautious with our expenses. Its not going to seem it since we’ve done a lot of shopping this past month…seemingly..but then its all useful things or food. Either way, without further ado (as this is the last part before this post ends)..the shopping haul from Boxing Day.

  • Adidas outlet: Running Shoes
  • Dynamite: Sweater and 3-pack scrunchies
  • Steam Sale: Life is Strange 2: Complete Edition, Detention, Gris, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, Glass Masquerade
  • Playstation Holiday Sale: Overcooked 2, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Amazon: Playstation 4 Controller Charging Dock
  • Walmart: John Wick 2

Cute Kitty Pic

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That’s it for this December Adventures!
How was your holidays? Had a lot of fun with family? Did you do some Boxing Day shopping?

FNC 2019: Family Romance LLC (2019)

Family Romance LLC (2019)

Family Romance LLC

Director (and writer): Werner Herzog

Cast: Ishii Yuichi, Mahiro Tanimoto

A man is hired to impersonate the missing father of a young girl. – IMDB

How far would you go to create a certain feeling? Family Romance LLC is a company that finds professional actors to create a certain moment crafted to their needs whether its a stand-in husband at a ceremony or setting up a surprise moment to relive an experience or in this story’s central story, a father returning to know a daughter. It takes a look at how a person’s desire to escape loneliness and feel wanted or important can lead them to create these fictitious moments and where does it stop.

Family Romance LLC approaches its rather personal material in a well-rounded structure. It focuses on the main story which is a mother hiring a man Ishii (Ishii Yuichi) to be the father of her 12 year old daughter Mahiro (Mahiro Tanimoto) who has left them since she was 2 and the following outings this “father-daughter” go on to build their relationship while seeing how this man Ishii reports back to the mother. At the same time, it gives another side of the story of Family Romance LLC and that is the other types of services that it offers for other people in need which gives a broader extent of how far these services can go and the boundaries and limits and how it is run on other levels.

While that is the case, Family Romance LLC will at times feel disjointed as it jumps from one scene to the next whether in his main vein or the little cases of different people that approach Ishii hiring their different actors for their different emotional voids. At the same time, its hard to determine whether this is a documentary or a drama as the main cast are non-professional actors sharing the raw story based on “rentaru furendo”, an actual type of agency like Family Romance LLC that exists in Japan. Perhaps its because these actors, mostly focused on Mahiro and Ishii that makes this film feel ever more realistic and at times, see that their attachment does form and how it will end as father-daughter relationships is something that can be replicated not exactly an act that can be forever. Especially as these two, despite their awkward interactions growing slightly better by the end, do spike some connection to these people and wonder whether on any level these lies are better especially for the daughter who may have believed to have found her father again but to inevitably have to lose him at some point depending on how far this act can go.

Family Romance LLC is a tough film to watch. Its not for everyone especially in terms of pacing and it blurs that line between cinema and reality. It looks at the society and the emotional voids that individuals will have as well as how far they will go to replicate feelings, relive moments and create this fake sense of security or happiness and find their own bliss. However, it also emphasizes on the actor hired, Ishii Yuichi and as much as this is a business and he can’t love or be loved (something along those lines), emotions are part of being human and he has to know where to draw the lines, no matter how difficult and as subtle as those feelings are portrayed, those struggling moments add a lot to the film as Family Romance LLC shows many sides of the story. For this premise, which is hard to portray, director Werner Herzog makes the best of it and delivers a fairly immersive film that will make you ponder on how far the lonely society will go and how significant emotional voids are in life.

Family Romance LLC has another screening at Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 19th at 9:20pm at Cineplex Odeon Quarter – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.

Double Feature: Mary Poppins Returns (2018) & Tall Girl (2019)

DOUBLEFEATURE

The last double feature before the horror month is this one! As I try to work through some of the Disney movies on Netflix before it leaves, I managed to get in Mary Poppins Returns and then paired it up with something that I ended up watching as a multitasking film and it was the rather new Netflix Originals, Tall Girl.

Let’s check it out!

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

mary poppins returns

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davis, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury

Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives. – IMDB

Arguably, a lot of the Disney remakes or sequels feels unnecessary and the same goes for Mary Poppins Returns. However, while it is unnecessary, Mary Poppins Returns still achieves quite a fun family adventure. It follows a lot of the same formula as the original in terms of the events and even using some of the same lines in reference. It all helps link the two together even if the setting is decades apart and Mary Poppins isn’t the same actress and the children in the original are all grown up and the children in this one are the children of Michael Banks of the original. In all those elements, it does build a good bridge between the two and holds a lot of the essence of the original even if it still doesn’t have the same charm as the first one.

What does change in this one are the songs. All the songs are different from start to finish even if say what used to be the Chim Chimeree song is another sequence with streetlight leeries (is that what its called?) and they do the big dance number also . Then the bird lady is replaced by the balloon lady portrayed as cameo by Angela Lansbury. Dick Van Dyke comes back not as his original role but as another cameo role as well. Not to mention, Colin Firth comes in as a supporting role as well. Some of the other changes is adding in a bit of romance for its characters. Of course, the biggest change is Emily Blunt playing Mary Poppins which was always a question of how it would change. While she doesn’t have quite the same charm as Julie Andrews, she does hold up her own. In fact, this role is so different from other roles she’s done (that I’ve seen) that it actually surprised me in a good way and I really enjoyed her take of Mary Poppins plus they still gave her some sharp dialogue and replies.

Mary Poppins Returns might not be necessary but its still a fun family film with some decent music and characters that I wouldn’t mind watching a few times (not hard since I’ve already watched it one more time afterwards). All in all, a pleasant surprise!

Tall Girl (2019)

Tall Girl

Director: Nzingha Stewart

Cast: Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Sabrina Carpenter, Paris Berelc, Luke Eisner, Clara Wilsey, Angela Kinsey, Steve Zahn, Rico Paris, Bria Condon

Jodi, the tallest girl in her high school, has always felt uncomfortable in her own skin. But after years of slouching, being made fun of, and avoiding attention at all costs, Jodi finally decides to find the confidence to stand tall. – IMDB

Netflix Originals teen movies are usually a big bet to take. So far, I’ve really only liked the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and was alright with Sierra Burgess is a Loser (which really doesn’t hold us as much when you think more about it). In many ways, the issues with Sierra Burgess are pretty much the same ones that apply here. Teen romances have that really big issue with making girls always question their own self-confidence when they want to get the attention of a guy they like when they should be confident about themselves and their physical appearances, in this case, its her height, which constantly gets mocked by the people in school.

In the case of Tall Girl, the characters go through a weird character arc that everyone ends up going through this segment in their story where they are very hard to root for and somehow find their way back, of course whether its too late is the question for whatever situation they are tackling. While Tall Girl does have a few okay things and the better ones is how it chooses to end and the more inspirational speech that the main character Jodi talks about as she embraces her confidence and feels confident with her height.

Tall Girl just feels shallow and hollow. All the characters aren’t too deep and the story is rather formulaic and predictable. Its a story about finding your self-confidence and facing your feelings sort of deal, which is pretty basic but has a few good messages to share. What its trying to share has good intentions but just the execution and the script and some of the acting left a lot to be desired.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Mary Poppins Returns and/or Tall Girl?

Double Feature: A Monster Calls (2016) & Battleship (2012)

Call this a little Netflix alphabet marathon again but a more relaxed and random one with no specific theme but just to get through some of those films sitting in My List. I’m going to have random movies not in the alphabet happening but I’ll try to keep to it as much as possible. The first to kick off this second round in 2019 is 2016’s A Monster Calls paired oddly, almost like a Liam Neeson double feature with 2012’s Battleship. The first I don’t know much about and the second, I’ve been extremely skeptical to see so the expectations are low.

Let’s check it out!

A Monster Calls (2016)

a monster calls

Director: J.A. Bayona

Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, Liam Neeson (voice)

A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother’s terminal illness. – IMDB

A Monster Calls is a stylistic fantasy drama. It works for the most part but has some bits that get a little annoying. The boy Connor, played by Lewis MacDougall is pretty decent. He matches his character quite a bit. On the surface story, A Monster Calls has a pretty generic and dramatic story when dealing with Connor and his mother and how his relationship with his grandmother, played by Sigourney Weaver. A lot of it has to do with how he deals with the situation. When the tree monster, voiced by Liam Neeson appears and decides to tell him three stories before he can help him or something (I’m a bit fuzzy on the details since its been a month or so), the stories itself and the animations used to portray them is the true heart of the movie. Its these moments between Connor and the Monster that give it depth because each story wraps up a few lessons on morals. What is right from wrong and the gray area that most kids grow up to learn about and how Connor is thrust into the situation because of his problems at home. Its also these stories which are structured with more

I’m okay with everything about A Monster Calls. It actually had more depth than I had expected it. What didn’t work so well was the pacing. It had style and some decent performances. As expected when seeing Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones as part of the cast. They were able to show the different relationships that Connor had with each of them. Because of that, the story gave a lot of depth to Connor and everyone else became more of backdrop and felt less fleshed out. The best part of the film does go to how they chose to end it and giving it a little twist that somehow brings together the tree monster and the stories in a clever way.

Battleship (2012)

battleship

Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, Tadanobu Asano, Hamish Linklater, Liam Neeson

A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals. – IMDB

The idea of making a classic game into a movie is a pretty good idea. Battleship did have a pretty open canvas to work with seeing as the game itself doesn’t have a backstory or anything but just to set it in some kind of battle. The idea of bringing aliens in doesn’t seem like a bad thing because it can give a lot of fantasy and science fiction creative elements as well. However, its hard to pinpoint where Battleship falls apart. Everything had its issues: the story, the characters, the action, the logic behind it all. Probably its because I recently looked at Pacific Rim that the whole electromagnetic and analog thing stood out to me more than usual when I watch these films and how probably things don’t quite work that way even if on the surface, you could accept that it does (especially since I don’t know a whole lot about that anyways). Fact is, Battleship is long and repetitive. It adds too much drama and the action is very predictable. The fun element is not quite there either.

In terms of character, they were really what I was skeptical about going in. Taylor Kitsch is an actor thats been really rocky (to me). There hasn’t been one role that stood out and Battleship is the same. Its nothing special and his character is a bit irritating and shallow and the fact that he’s the main character and gets the most character development says a whole lot about that. Not that a movie like this needs a ton of character depth to be honest. On top of that, some characters that were less annoying had too short of role. The surprise of this was that Rihanna’s character was actually quite decent. I’m starting to feel like I need to re-evaluate her roles a little more. Battleship had more cons than pros and it was a predictable and forgettable movie. But hey, I didn’t have high expectations to start so it felt like it was everything I expected.

That’s it for this double feature!
A&B selection was a little good and a little bad so it kind of balanced itself out!
Have you seen A Monster Calls and/or Battleship? Thoughts?