Double Feature: Call Me By Your Name (2017) & Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Call this a 2017 double feature and a drama as well. Two movies that got a lot of recognition and praise at the beginning of this year so its surely two well-matched double feature.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Call Me By Your Name

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel

In 1980s Italy, a romance blossoms between a seventeen year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant. – IMDB

I’ve only ever seen one other movie from Luca Guadagnino earlier this year, A Bigger Splash. I’m going to be honest that this director has a very similar way of approaching stories or maybe its the stories that he chooses and the setting that distinguish it apart because while watching Call Me By Your Name, while the story itself is very different, there is this same feeling that I got as I was watching A Bigger Splash and that was before I realized that these two films were directed by the same person. I can’t say that the story itself is particularly unexpected but what works even better is that the story is made really great because of its cast who delivers some fantastic performances.

What this movie does a great job at doing besides yet again giving us a beautiful Italian setting and the love of filming in waterholes or pools or something or another like this (like in A Bigger Splash), is how Armie Hammer’s Oliver and Timothée Chalamet’s Elio deliver a powerful story about first love. One of the most powerful points here though is that it breaks barriers of how romance no matter what gender is still the same. Its as valid and the same for everyone. Oliver and Elio’s first love might be something they try to hide around the people around them which leads Elio to find also a romantic feeling with Marzia (Esther Garrel) and there he finds something different as well. There is a feeling of exploration and getting in touch with their feelings while also having that uncertainty and vulnerability of not being sure how much to show. There is a lot of depth to this story. It kind of is one of those stories that creeps up on us with every scene that in the end when we get the final moments between Elio and his father who has this incredibly touching speech and that final ending conversation with Elio and Oliver, it just tugs on all kinds of heartstrings.

Its been a while since I’ve seen Call Me By Your Name and yet, there is something so beautiful and so raw about how this whole story is set up and told from the details of the setting to the interactions that make this journey, especially for Elio’s first love that makes it so powerful. So many scenes resound in my mind and the story seems to just linger on.

On that note, I’m not exactly sure I’m into watching a sequel or even where this story can go, especially since that seems to be in the works but we will see, I guess.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

three billboards outside ebbing missouri

Director (and writer): Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges

A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit. – IMDB

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a film that I liked a lot. There is a nice mix between drama and dark comedy. Plus, the film is packed with fantastic performances. Between Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand, these three deliver on their characters. The story itself is pretty dark and in some ways, the drama behind it is actually quite heartbreaking to watch in the sense of how the case was treated and the pain of a mother trying to force some justice and action in a desperate way. Call it her way to find closure.

What I like the most about this film is how it is executed. The pacing and the way it is put together works really well. While Woody Harrelson’s character is incredibly dynamic to watch and one that has quite the impactful character where Frances McDormand’s character is more of the dramatic and gritty character, the character that stood out the most to me was Sam Rockwell’s character which had the most layers and growth in this whole story. The heart of the movie lies in these performances and the characters from its many different prejudices towards race, career and other elements. Its these prejudices that create these unnecessary aggression and what causes a lot of these situations that happen. There is a lot to talk about in this film and a lot of depth to the story and its characters which makes it so awesome and one I highly recommend.

Overall, two films that I enjoyed a lot!
Somehow its two that I think the experience of watching it overpowers anything I can say about it.

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Double Feature: The Kissing Booth (2018) & Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)

And we’re back with another Double Feature.

Let’s be clear that I originally wanted to do individual posts for each of these movies but one of these  is one, I really didn’t want to put to much time into writing up as I wasn’t a huge fan of it in the first place. Spoiler alert for my own views I guess. You can decide for yourselves which. Either way, both of them are Netflix Original, both films set in high school so they pair up really well also.

Let’s check it out!

The Kissing Booth (2018)

the kissing booth

Director (& screenplay): Vince Marcello

Cast: Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Carson White, Molly Ringwald

A high school student is forced to confront her secret crush at a kissing booth. – IMDB

I’m going to get straight to the point that I’m not a big fan of this movie. There’s a lot of stuff that didn’t work for me. The romance didn’t really work. The humor was a tad silly and at times dumb. There was a lot of ridiculous bits and I don’t know, it just didn’t really have much depth to it. Maybe it has to be the fact that I’m not the target audience. I still remember watching Joey King in Ramona and Beezus when she was younger and loving that one. This one just felt very been there done that aka predictable. There are some cute parts here and there but nothing that really connected with me.

The Kissing Booth

However, the one redeeming point of this film is the friendship between Elle (Joey King) and Lee (Joel Courtney) at least until a certain point. In some ways, this movie reminded me of a flip side of The Edge of Seventeen (review), a movie that is very much more superior to this one. Other than that, these two bond over dancing on the dance machine at the arcades and that is just super cool.

Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)

Sierra Burgess is a Loser

Director: Ian Samuels

Cast: Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, Noah Centineo, RJ Cyler, Loretta Devine, Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck

A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes. – IMDB

Sierra Burgess is a Loser is one of those films that I wanted to watch the moment that it was announced. Whether its because I like Shannon Purser and the fact that I gained a liking for Noah Centineo lately, or simply the catchy title and the great premise is just all up my alley. The deal is, as much as this is somewhat of a teen romance between Sierra (Shannon Purser) and Jamey (Noah Centineo) and there are some seriously sweet parts between and cute little moments, even the catfishing bits were a lot of fun, there’s something else that shines out here and that is the emphasis on the friendship.

Sierra Burgess is a Loser

This story’s strength is in the teen coming of age for Sierra Burgess to know her worth and not questioning her worth because we can see how she was a lot more confident in the beginning and losing it as she started comparing herself when she started falling for Jamey. On the other hand, its in the friendship between Sierra and Veronica (Kristine Froseth), which I thought were actually the superior moments because its equally a film about the popular girl realizing there is more than these rather shallow things that she thought was so important. Their friendship helped both of them grow in some ways and to look at themselves in a different way.

With that said, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is a really good film. There’s so much strength in seeing friendships between girls and the support for each other especially in this friendship. I strikes a good balance between finding time to give depth to its characters and letting them grow.

Double Feature: Pete’s Dragon (2016) & Peter Rabbit (2018)

double feature

Its been a while since we’ve done a double feature, right? Things are back on track and as much as I wanted to start this whole all same year movies get full reviews. Meaning Peter Rabbit should have its own full review, I just decided to keep with this formula. I guess that kind of hints on how I feel about Peter Rabbit but oh well, we’ll see, right? A nice little pairing that worked out because of my procrastination, may I add? An animated double feature seems like its a rarity around here nowadays plus it has similar names, Pete and Peter. Let’s put it out there right now that I really like watching movies that blend animation with live action, like Mary Poppins. Obviously, these two are more CG and live action but it still counts just in a modernized way.

Let’s check it out!

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pete's Dragon

Director: David Lowery

Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban

The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon. – IMDB

I only watched the original Pete’s Dragon recently. You can see the review HERE. This remake or reboot (whatever you want to call it) is still good for what it is. It had adventure and the acting was good. The atmosphere was nice and a lot of the key elements were there while replacing it with a more environmental sort of idea. It creates a lot of drama and less of a musical like the original. Some of the differences are really the point here which truly depends on how much the audience buys into and how it all works out. Like I mentioned, one of the main elements is the more drama and less musical. To me, that kind of takes away from the charm of the original. I’m into adventure and drama and they work well in family movies and that part does work well but it gives off a different vibe from the original. Of course, we should look at this film as how it stands on its own and there is still a lot of magic in Elliot. Without its pink tuff of hair and more alive thanks to computer graphics and less hand drawn animation gives him a more real feeling but still has its magical moments and he is still very cute with his little movements but Elliot is huge and massive compared to Pete, which is also normal.

I watched Pete’s Dragon a good while ago so if you asked me the details, I probably won’t remember a lot of it but I do remember the emphasis on environment which is a nice theme along with the family and just how to not touch the differences in nature and let them be. At the same time, the film’s charm goes to bringing Elliot to life. I still think the original is more fun to watch and its more colorful and all that happy stuff but this one is a different vibe and beast and has its charm. Shame is that its a reboot and not an original property because its hard to not compare the two which makes it feel less of the original concept but each has its strengths.

Peter Rabbit (2018)

peter rabbit

Director: Will Gluck

Cast & Voice Cast: Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, James Corden, Colin Moody, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Daisy Ridley, Sia, Fayssal Bazzi

Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden. – IMDB

Peter Rabbit is pretty much the expected route of things. For myself, I don’t have a whole lot of nostalgia in regards of Peter Rabbit and honestly, it was so long ago that I read it that I don’t even remember any part of it. My knowledge of it is so little of the source material that this is something of an adventure. Rose Byrne is always a pleasure to watch. Seeing as I just saw Domhnall Gleeson in Goodbye Christopher Robin, there is this odd feeling that he keeps getting into these adaptation projects. He is a pretty good actor in the sense that he nails these roles down really well. While I wasn’t totally buying the romance between these two, it worked in a fun way as he silently fought with the rabbits over their affection of Rose Byrne.

I have fairly mixed feelings. On one hand, I don’t think that the material was as memorable as it could have been. But its harmless fun. There’s a bit of music and dancing bits. There’s some over the top comedy. There is some silly humor. There is also family themes and drama but I can’t help but think that for myself, some of the comedy didn’t land so much but then its not exactly for my age group especially without the nostalgia factor.

Halloween Finale 2018: Green Room (2015)

Next up in the Halloween marathon and the official final film to wrap it up, we jump into a movie that I have heard a lot of great things but kept putting it off. Green Room packs quite a decent cast like Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin plus has an intriguing plot. Two things that made me want to watch this.

Lets check it out.

Green Room (2015)

green cloud

Director (and writer): Jeremy Saulnier

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson, Mark Webber, Macon Blair, Brent Werner, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart

A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar. – IMDB

Thrillers take the right mindset to watch and I have to admit that the two times that I sat down to watch this one was not in the right one. However, the good part is that it wasn’t hard to follow and the tension was definitely there. There are layers to this story as the story starts with a scene about picking their desert island bands and it highlights a little just who the different personalities in this band are. Then the plot starts quickly and moves forward as they try to figure out how to escape while negotiating and the neo-Nazi movement lead by Darcy (played by Patrick Stewart) has their own turnaround events and we get pieces of each side. Its executed really well on that level.

Green Room

Its a horror film so characters tend to get out of the picture fairly quickly and its good in a certain way. For one, there is a real thought to how these characters end up. Its a fairly bloody affair. At the same time, it keeps the story more contained leaving us with the bigger names in the film like Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots. And there is a lot to like about these characters. While Yelchin’s character plays more of an indecisive character, his character develops a lot as the situation hardens him in some ways. While Imogen Poots’ character was one not from the band, so carries a kind of mystery as to how much to trust her while she also gave a certain unhinged feeling so making it a little harder to truly believe her intentions. However, its also a toughness that this group trapped in the room looking to escape need.

Overall, Green Room is pretty fun and intense. It had a decent amount of thrills and was executed really well whether the pacing or the character development. There are twists and turns to the stories to create mystery and awe. It went by really quick and never felt like it dragged on anywhere and was an intriguing one to watch.

Movies and Tea #10 – Cronos

Its time to kick off Season 2 of Movies and Tea Podcast after a little break on our end. This season, we’re looking at Guillermo Del Toro’s films and we start with his debut, Cronos which gives a new spin on vampires. Head over to our blog and listen to the podcast! Perfectly timed for Halloween on top of that! Enjoy and give us your thoughts on Cronos or the show!

We are looking for guests for some of the shows. If you are interested, drop us an email and we’ll see if we can work something out.

Movies and Tea

Elwood and Kim return from thier break with a new season and a new director’s filmography to dive into as this season they turn thier attention to the films of the visionary Guillermo del Toro whose love of horror and fairytales have lead to him crafting some of the most original cinema of the last few years.

Kicking off this season is Del Toro’s feature debut “Cronos” which sees him bring his own spin to the vampire mythos as a clockwork scarab which grants eternal life is discovered by an elderly antiques dealer.

Come join us in the booth!

Further Viewing

The Lost Boys
Near Dark
Fright Night
Daybreakers

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Halloween 2018: Lights Out (2016) – Rewatch

A bit of cheating today as I rewatched Lights Out with my husband who had not seen it in the first time. Main reason is that I’m under a mountain of work to finish a deadline for tomorrow so this will have to do for now as I couldn’t finish the movie I was watching after this rewatch. Review for that coming up soon though. 🙂

In this second viewing after two years, I still remember a lot of how I felt the first time and the scenes which is quite impressive to say about a film because I have a horrible memory. It may be a second viewing but I still enjoyed the tension and the use of lights and the whole premise of it. I still see some of the flaws that I mentioned in the original review but its easily ignored as it keeps a decent paced because of its controlled run time. It never lingers too long to be over dramatic and keeps its horror moments even some of their predictable jump scares to work in the realm of what they are doing.

Head over to the original review when I saw it at Fantasia to see my full thoughts. It really hasn’t changed that much.

Tranquil Dreams

The next movie in the Fantasia Festival Line-up before almost a week off before the next one is Lights Out. I haven’t been able to finish the trailer on this one and it hits a lot of my fears such as darkness. Its one I am excited, skeptical and incredibly nervous and frightened to go see. Lights Out is presented as a Montreal Special Screening and was a sold out show. It also presented me with one of the most engaging film watching experience. Please note the film watching and not film. It seemed to need that clarification on Twitter. Everyone screamed and laughed and emoted together. Maybe it will disturb a normal theatre experience but Fantasia is a different vibe because a ton of people there are film buffs if not horror film buffs which adds on to the fun.

Lights Out (2016) 

Lights Out

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Teresa…

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Festival du Nouveau Cinema Wrap-up: Triple Feature

I don’t usually do double features for any movies that I see at Festivals, let alone triple features, however after having a hard time really fleshing out my thoughts and the festival already behind us almost 2 weeks, I decided that these three films that I saw at Festival du Nouveau Cinema actually is a great fit together as it looks at teens and friendships and coming of age in one way or another. All of them have a snippet of the lives of these characters in all three stories.

Sticks and Stones (2018)

Brakland Sticks and Stones

Director: Martin Skovbjerg

Cast: Jonas Bjerril, Vilmer Trier Brogger, Natalia Reyes, Patricia Schumann, Emma Sehested Hoeg, Benjamin Kitter, Laufey Eliasdottir

Simon arrives in Vesterby from Copenhagen. He is an outsider in a brand new place and alone until he meets Bjarke – Vesterby’s alpha male and heir to the local speaker factory. The two start challenging each other in intimate and transgressive actions as they forge a friendship. But when embezzlement forces Vesterby’s speaker factory to close, the town is bereaved of its livelihood, and Bjarke’s family is blamed. The anger thrust upon him by the locals triggers the beast in Bjarke, and Simon is faced with either having to turn away or save his friend from self-destruction. – IMDB

Its hard to put into words why I felt that Sticks and Stones is a really great film. In fact, I had such a blast being captivated by this friendship that started quite abruptly through being paired up for a project. Comparing everyday lives of grown-ups and the people around them to apes. At the same time, boys will be boys and these two definitely had their share of shenanigans as they go from a creative angle to going overboard in their video project. At the same time, reflecting possibly their feelings and contained emotions in their personal life. The two characters draw a parallel to what is going on in their lives and explains why their friendship works but it also highlights the differences in some friends cross our lives for a moment but can’t stay because of whatever reason and in this case, its a toxicity. Everyone sees it but themselves and you choose to put them behind or wait for them to constantly hurt you. Everyone has gone through friends like this, and its probably because of that, it resounds to me.

In the end, Sticks and Stones was able to channel some very intense feelings in whichever endeavors they were portraying. There is a lot of thought in using their documentary style filming for class and meshing it with the traditional filming as we watched the film unfold. There’s a lot of youth experiences and emotions especially with teens that go through sudden loss and other hard times. The acting is raw and it has to go to these young main actors, Jonas Bjerril and Vilmer Trier Brogger. There are situations of being a newcomer, being an alpha male, young love, family issues and so many conflicting issues that take these two for such a ride and in the end, one of  them needs to make a decision. Let me tell you, this film was a subtle hit for me. I didn’t really think I connected with these two so much as some of the things were over the top but in the final scenes, there was so much there that did hit me really hard emotionally.

Tourism (2018)

tourism

Director (and writer): Daisuke Miyazaki

Cast: Nina Endo, Sumire

Fun fact is that after I saw this movie, I have talked and tried to summarize this film to at least two other people and it turns out sounding so basic that it doesn’t quite seem to work as a movie.

During the opening message to the audience, Daisuke Miyazaki hoped that his film will make the viewers want to go on a trip or an adventure (I can’t remember the exact word). Tourism falls into this fun like day adventure. Just like how we see Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is very fun to watch, Tourism sees Nina, one of the girls on this trip to Singapore who loses her friend and her cellphone and ends up wandering around the city and meeting interesting characters but also being immersed in the culture and everyday lives. The way Miyazaki brings to life the characters is to take some time in the beginning to highlight these roommates and how the trip came out.

tourism

One of the best moments which hooked me in completely was how they chose their destination. There’s a joy in travelling with a companion (that you get along with) and seeing the landmarks but also another one when you wander the city alone and see the beauty and detail of the culture. That is the power of travelling and the adventure of communicating and meeting new people and learning more about the world around us. Sure, the story doesn’t sound like its anything intriguing but sometimes with all the technology and everything available at our fingertips, we forget the rush of beauty of the simple things in life. The hours Nina spends searching to get back to her friend or the hotel is not only a message about our reliance on technology but also the most entertaining parts of the film.

The premise might be simple but sometimes its in the simple joys that do pack in a lot of genuine feelings. This one is a pleasant surprise.

Firecrackers (2018)

firecrackers

Director (and writer): Jasmin Mozaffari

Cast: Michaela Kurimsky, Karena Evans, Callum Thompson, David Kingston, Tamara Leclaire, Scott Cleland, Dylan Mask

Lou and her best friend Chantal plan to get out of their isolated, run-down town and move to a city far, far away. When Chantal’s unstable and possessive ex violates her during a night of partying, the girls decide to exact their revenge on him through a night of vandalism and debauchery. The consequences of their actions are devastating, threatening the girls’ chances of ever leaving. The more Lou fights tooth-and-nail to save her friendship and hold onto her dreams, the more she spins out of control as she begins to realize that freedom will come at a high cost. – IMDB

I still remember the reason why I added this movie into my viewings despite its late hour and knowing that I had to run home in a hurry to catch the last bus home as it was compared to Fish Tank which is one of the movies that I like a lot. To be honest, there are some parallels to the film but in some ways, this one is a different movie. In fact, if you took something like Sticks and Stones and used it in a friendship between girls, you might arrive at this one. However, this one is about two best friends who want to leave behind their messed up lives in this small town. What turns out to be a perfect plan ends up having these bad turn of events. Lou is the main character here and we follow a lot of her character development with each road block that occurs and we see this coming of age development as she sees clearer the consequences of what she is leaving behind as well as the tough decisions between her friendship and also the teen angst as well as the sudden aggression or lack of thought in her actions.

Firecrackers takes on this snippet of Lou and Chantal’s life and their friendship in a genuine and raw way. It never feels over dramatic and honestly, makes us truly feel for these two girls on screen. It can remind us of the hurdles of growing up and wanting more and fighting for everything you can to make things better. There are bad decisions and bad life choices but its all part of growing up and these girls have it particularly hard but at least, they have their friendship.

This wraps up this triple feature and the Festival du Nouveau Cinema’s last three films I saw.
In some ways, this was the best way to talk about them as there isn’t much to say but rather its a movie experience.
There’s a lot to love about these films for both their similarities and their differences as it embraces this true and genuine snippet in each of these stories.