Anastasia (1997)

Time to revisit childhood favorites! I’m not going to lie. It might be a little deliberate to have chosen Anastasia since Netflix is doing “A” titles. Consider it a double feature in a way, especially since Anastasia is currently on Netflix (in Canada). Its also a good choice because I need to watch good movies also and not always average movies. It keeps the moral high and motivation even higher. So I’m going to try from now on. When the week is a little more quiet, I’ll work in another movie, hopefully with the same letter title as the Netflix that week. Summer is around the corner so I usually rest up in June to prepare for all the movie reviews in Fantasia Festival in mid-July.

Enough rambling! Let’s revisit Anastasia! ūüôā

Anastasia (1997)
Anastasia

Director: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman

Voice cast:  Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Kelsey Grammar, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury

The last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, while the undead Rasputin seeks her death.-IMDB

Don Bluth does have quite the magic. When I watched all these animated films when I was a kid or just younger, I never knew much about who directed and voice casts and all that stuff. ¬†Now that I’ve been in the movie blogger world, I know better. Certain names just seem to be the key behind a lot of movies. I never feel like Anastasia is appreciated or talked about as much as it should be. Fact is, Anastasia is really pretty and what shocked me even more is that its not from the powerhouses now. This is a Fox Animation Studios film. If you even look at the voice cast, there is quite a bit of amazing talent here. It even turns out that I’m doing a back to back John Cusack movie, unexpectedly. Much of Anastasia has to go to the beautiful animation and the fantastic music. I may have not seen this movie in forever, probably more than ten years, but I always hum Once Upon a December in sporadic moments. Of course, the whole soundtrack is quite memorable.

I probably should have reviewed Anastasia ages ago because I’ve always wanted to look at ALL of Meg Ryan’s movies and that project and even thought of it has faded away but I do still love Meg Ryan and her movies quite a bit. She voices Anastasia and she is so great in bringing to life our main character here. Anastasia is feisty and tough if not slightly naive also but she yearns to find her family but who knew that things would work out unexpectedly. She not only finds her family but also meets an unexpected guy who is flawed but also has his own secret.

Voicing Dimitri, the guy that Anastasia meets, is John Cusack. I’m going to be honest that I never acknowledged that he voiced this character. ¬†While I have a lot of appreciation for his acting, I still have a lot to learn about the movies he has been in. But, I do like his voice as Dimitri. It carries a cunning but still very sweet character. ¬†However, I do love Kelsey Grammar as Vlad quite a bit also. Vlad is such a charming and funny character, especially his obsession with Pooka. The cutest element of the entire film is Pooka. I guess dogs whether in real life or animated still are just uber adorable regardless.

Anastasia

¬†In any animated film, there’s always some villain and here we have Rasputin, voiced by Christopher Lloyd. While he is evil, he holds a comical value that is suitable for kids to watch. I’m not sure how young it would be suitable for but Rasputin is generically evil but still manages to make me laugh. Plus, he is literally falling apart and with the interaction he has with Bartok, his somewhat faithful bat, voiced by Hank Azaria, it becomes not scary but simply entertaining. Rasputin’s mishaps is what I looked forward to the whole time. ¬†While, Bartok was really just a background character that made witty reactions as the comic relief. Hank Azaria does have a great talent in voices and here he demonstrates it yet again.

Anastasia

Overall, Anastasia may almost be 20 years old but it still holds the charm with enchanting music and charming characters voiced by a wonderful cast. Meg Ryan and John Cusack does a fine job as the leads but Christopher Lloyd makes a comical villain and Hank Azaria does a great silly sidekick. It helps that they added in an uber cute dog Pooka to follow them on their journey. A must-watch animated film! I still love it every bit as much as when I first saw it! ūüôā

Before we leave, its important to add in a song (or two) from the movie!

Have you seen Anastasia?

Netflix A-Z (with a twist!): Adult World (2013)

We’re back! Third round of Netflix A-Z!

This time, I promised it would be a little different. If I have enough posts to cover the week, I’m aiming for dropping it to only one Netflix A-Z per week. There may be exceptions depending on how I feel, since it could take a while to get through a round and the point is to decrease the growing titles on my Netflix list. Also, this round is going to be only with Independent films from whats available on Netflix. Just saying that its what is listed under Independent Films. I don’t go and look it up afterwards unless its super obvious that it isn’t. However, I have thought about keeping it two posts a week but just focusing on the “letter of the week” sort of thing.

First up to kick things off is Adult World! I haven’t ever heard of this before but I like the cast. I think its worth a chance! ūüôā

Adult World (2013)

Adult World

Director: Scott Coffey

Cast: Emma Roberts, Evan Peters, John Cusack, Shannon Woodward, Cloris Leachman, Armando Riesco

Amy, a naive college graduate who believes she’s destined to be a great poet, begrudgingly accepts a job at a sex shop while she pursues a mentorship with reclusive writer Rat Billings.-IMDB

¬†If there’s one word to describe Adult World, it’d have to be quirky. And if there was a second word, it would be awkward. I’m not sure I totally buy the story itself or that it appealed to me a lot. I mean, its pretty much a very generic sort of independent film about coming of age and finding yourself and where you want to go. Its about growing up and really feeling with the hardships experienced. Its about working hard towards your dreams and sometimes embracing the fact of whether it was meant to be. While the story didn’t grasp me as a big picture, the characters here are pretty charming to watch.

adult world

For one, I’m a big fan of Emma Roberts. She hasn’t been in huge movies and the bigger ones like say We’re the Millers was fun but nothing amazing either from the little I recall of it. My review is HERE if you’d like to check it out. She’s always had very emo roles. I guess that would be what we’d call it. There’s something deep about her character and some form of soul-searching and she does these roles really well. She’s not afraid to do those awkward bits and in this one, there are some seriously embarrassingly awkward moments that I couldn’t help but find hilarious because I felt a little embarrassed for her character. Her character, Amy is an incredibly naive girl who really hasn’t lived life except in her own mind, through her own words and hasn’t felt a lot of emotions to help her grow. She is incredibly gullible and this is why its so fun to watch. However, when she does step into reality, there’s quite a few surprises that she experiences and learns slowly.

adult world

The biggest cast member in Adult World has to be John Cusack. I love a lot of movies and it actually feels like I haven’t seen him into anything like this before. He plays as Rat Billings, a great poet that had a lot of recognition in the 90s but has since faded away. He’s cynical about the world and everything around him. It seems that his inspiration is also not what it used to be. Reluctantly, he takes in Amy and becomes her mentor but in the most brutal way. His character is pretty hard to grasp. I’m sure it was meant to make him into a person that is deeper except we never really quite see it other than the fact that he doesn’t care right now about Amy because she’s not ready for writing yet and he takes it upon himself to make it clear that she still has a lot in life to experience before thinking she can be anything.

adult world

Last is Evan Peters who plays the young manager at the sex shop Amy decides to work at to support her dream to become a writer. Evan Peters plays as Alex. How to describe Alex? He’s a little awkward but he also has a much more carefree way of seeing the world, his career and what he can achieve. He knows to do the best he can at his responsibilities and while he is the love interest in this situation, he also teaches Amy quite a bit about toning down on her high horse. Another is that: Alex is an incredibly lovable character in the awkward, slightly dorky way. He’s pretty harmless. Its also that which made me fluctuate a little between my feelings towards his acting and how much of it mattered to me for his character.

Overall, I pretty much did a character analysis up there because Adult World’s strongest point is its cast that portrays a group of charming characters with each their own way to connect to the audience. I can’t say the story is anything memorable. In fact, a few days later as I’m typing this, I’m not sure I actually remember a whole lot of it. I only remember the really fun parts and the laugh out loud bits and its these collective moments that make this movie work for me.

Have you seen Adult World?

Halloween Marathon: 1408 (2007)

While charging up for the next batch of Friday the 13ths, I had a few days to catch up on the other selection. ¬†Coming up with quite a good bit of votes was 1408. ¬†I’ve been meaning to watch this one for a while. ¬†It has quite an appeal to me because I like both John Cusack and Samuel Jackson a lot, plus, it has that one setting creepy feeling to it. ¬†I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen a trailer because its been quite a while since its been released but I decided that I’d give it a go.

1408 movieDirector: Mikael Hafstrom

Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica Anthony, Tony Shalhoub

Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a paranormal investigator (of sorts) that focuses on proving whether certain known hauntings actually exist or its just a hoax. ¬†In his career, he has learned that many are the latter and he has grown to get used to that and usually doesn’t expect too much. When he gets note of the haunted 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York, he ends up spending a night there despite the hotel manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L Jackson) using every way possible to prevent him to do so. His night there proved to be more than he ever thought he would encounter and yet maybe there was some truth to the warnings that he’s gotten.

1408

As many of you know, I’m a huge reader. However, I haven’t read anything of Stephen King. No hate messages, ok? I’m planning on remedying that soon. ¬†Still, I’ve watched a good bit of the adaptations of Stephen King’s work both movies and TV. ¬†1408 is based on a short story that King wrote. ¬†I’m actually pretty intrigued at how this one reads because its an interesting little movie. ¬†1408 has a lot of promise to begin with. ¬†It seemed to be in the spirits and haunting enveloped in a hotel room. ¬†It has the perfect stage to bring in an impressive story. ¬†I had to give this one a little bit more thought because yes, it was creepy and chilling and it had a lot of jump scares (which is effective for me because I know I get scared). ¬†Except it feels like its more effective in the first two-thirds of the movies and once we run into the last third and final act, it changes its tone a little. ¬†Its a little bit more predictable however it also wraps up in pretty logical way. What really works for 1408 is that the first part sets up the stage so that we have a good idea of getting to know who Mike Enslin is and how he comes to learn about 1408 and getting into the room. ¬†When you get in the room, the middle chunk focuses on the events that goes on in the room which includes a lot of creepy events strung together that slowly build up to the final act. ¬†Its a pretty good psychological ride at the same time as wondering whether there is someone behind these 1408 hauntings or whether its a spirit or maybe something even more than that.

1408

For the most part, John Cusack is the center of attention in this as he battles whatever is in 1408. ¬†He plays off of nothing. Its a pretty intense psychological trip for him when he goes from not really believing in the paranormal or going to the other side of the spectrum where he encounters weird, creepy, shocking events and even dives a little into his own past and we learn a little through these events about who he is and the things he’s gone through. John Cusack was exceptional in this role and I totally loved it. ¬†On the other hand, the supporting roles had extremely small parts. ¬†We start with Tony Shalhoub as his book editor (I think) and the bit bigger role of Gerald Olin, manager of the Dolphin Hotel played by Samual L. Jackson. ¬†The encounter between Olin and Enslin was pretty good to watch.

1408

There is really nothing else to say. Is 1408 a horror psychological thriller or just mainstream horror? I have no idea. ¬†Its not gory even though as we learn about the history of 1408, the pictures of the past deaths in the room was pretty disturbing. ¬†However, the tone the movie takes and the combination of the story and John Cusack’s performance brings in a creepy and chilling watch. ¬†I enjoyed this one a good bit. ¬†Although it wasn’t really scaring me a whole lot by the end, and I actually realized that there was a whole lot of jump scares that made 1408 a pretty intense watch. ¬†I do admit that when I do think about it, it was pretty scary and probably would’ve been even more if I didn’t strategically watch this in the morning ūüėČ

Have you seen 1408? What did you think of it? 

2012 (2009)

There isn’t much to say about why I chose to see 2012 last night out of all the other nights but I guess I needed a bit of excitement since I’m still on cold meds and its making my brain rather dull. ¬†I’m not sure how many people like to watch apocalypse movies but I like them a lot. ¬†I’ll explain more after a little synopsis. ¬†Plus, what makes this one more appealing is John Cusack doing this sort of movie? Interesting, no?

2012 posterDirector: Roland Emmerich

Cast: John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Liam James, Morgan Lily

In 2009, Dr. Satnam in India urgently asks Dr. Adrian Helmsly (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to go see what he has discovered: that the Earth is heating up internally and that within a certain amount of years, it will cause the interior of Earth to melt and eventually displace the Earth’s surface causing the world to end. In 2012, word has broken out the end of the world is near as predicted by the Mayans. ¬†The world’s end is approaching. ¬†a divorced writer, Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), takes his children Noah (Liam James) and Lily (Morgan Lily) out for a camping trip at Yellowstone National Park to realize that something is going on and US Army is patrolling the area. ¬†At the same time, giant crevices are developing back home in California and his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and her boyfriend are part of that. ¬†Through coincidence, he meets Charlie (Woody Harrelson), an apocalypse radio broadcaster (who seems a little crazy) and as events start matching up to Charlie’s words, Jackson fights against the elements to get his family away safely.

2012 scene

Such a long synopsis for such a simple idea. I’m still getting back into the review world. ¬†I’ve been taking it really easy in this area. ¬†There is no doubt that most of you would agree that when it comes to world apocalypse flicks, its pretty formulaic. ¬†You get the huge effects of mass world destruction usually on an uncontrollable environmental issue. ¬†The grandiosity of it could be one of the reasons that its enjoyable to watch. ¬†Usually, it comes with some cheesy dialogue and a lot of fancy terms explaining the scientific phenomenon thats happening. ¬†All that happens in 2012. ¬†It also points out that California will be its first target. ¬†2012 was released in 2009 and around that same time, we all learned about the rising rumors of how December 27th (I think), 2012 would mark the end of the world. ¬†Some people believed it, some had their doubts and some just laughed at it. ¬†Personally, it didn’t affect me that much. ¬†I lived my life as I would, did the things I normally would because I already learned that making the most of everyday and being grateful was important. ¬†However, I get it. ¬†Its a scary concept to witness the end of the world.

 

Roland Emmerich is known (at least I know him that way) for all his big action and explosions and world apocalypse style movies. ¬†I mean, Independence Day, Day After Tomorrow and now 2012. ¬†All focus around some form of world ending, from aliens to environment. ¬†The man is good at what he does. ¬†I haven’t seen both of those other movies in a long time so I won’t be comparing it in this review.

2012 family

Visually, this movie offers some over the top CGI and although a bit exaggerated, it does match up to the grandeur that this movie demands. ¬†Everything that happens is pretty captivating to watch. ¬†I can’t imagine the world crumbling like that. ¬†Its a bit crazy because things really turn south quickly. ¬†However, with a lot of these movies, the plot does lean on the thin part. ¬†I’m not saying that there are plot holes but things in these movies all end up with close to death but the most improbably situations always occur and most of the time, you can expect certain turn of events a mile away. Despite that fact, as it winded near the end, I felt like they had built it up to a good level of intensity. ¬†There was a sequence where it was pretty convincing.

2012 John Cusack

2012 has a pretty impressive cast. ¬†For one, we have in the lead, John Cusack who is the guy on the run, figuring out what is going on with the world while trying to save his family and survive this crazy end of the world mess. ¬†As his ex-wife is Amanda Peet who I know I’ve seen somewhere but I can’t pinpoint where. ¬†The kids are not too bad actually. ¬†Sure, they both do some dumb things that movies like this like to lead the children to do but sometimes, it turned out to be intense but helpful, maybe leaning into the unrealistically brave. Plus, I just realize the son, Liam James, is the young Shawn from Psych (which I am currently binge watching) and the little girl was in one of my favorite movies, Flipped. ¬†So yeah, that really helped that I really liked the cast here also.

2012

When we turn the table around and look at the political and government side, we have the leading scientist/environmentalist Chiwetel Ejiofor, the US President is by Danny Glover and we have the First Daughter with Thandie Newton, all of them are very good in their roles. ¬†Although, Thandie Newton had a very limited appearance in the movie, somehow she has a lasting image in my mind. ¬†However, I think one of the better roles was for Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Adrian Helmsly. ¬†He challenged the authority and fought for saving the world in the a more morally correct way. ¬†He was very human, just as the US President was portrayed as well. ¬†Its usually roles like this that shine through in movies like this.

There really isn’t much else to say about 2012. ¬†I have this feeling that I might have enjoyed The Day After Tomorrow a tad more but this one was done very well also. ¬†My expectations are never high for these because the premise is very simple even with all the fancy scientific terms. I enjoyed seeing the cast on screen carrying out their roles and as the movie builds up to the great finale and finding salvation for all humankind, it builds on the intensity and delivers a decent ending. ¬†Thats all I really ask for in a movie like this: to be entertained and to be swept into the whirlwind of crazy and intensity of over the top CGI. ¬†Its had all that. If you’re into this sort of thing, I’d say its worth the watch ūüôā

 Are you into these end of the world flicks? Which is your favorite? What do you think of Roland Emmerich?

Say Anything (1989)

I seriously haven’t seen Say Anything, ok? I’m righting a wrong as quickly as I could! Austin over at The Return of the Modern Philosopher recommended this to me after my review of Serendipity (HERE) during last year’s Christmas Marathon! Austin probably doesn’t need any help from me to showcase his blog since I did find him on Freshly Pressed (if I remember correctly) and he deserves every bit of that because he writes fun and witty posts everyday! Plus, he has written screenplays that were produced. ¬†Seeing as I’ve been unsuccessful at finding it, the search continues! ūüėČ For now, lets check this one out!

say anything posterDirector: Cameron Crowe

Cast: John Cusack, Ione Skye, Jack Mahoney, Lili Taylor, Amy Brooks, Jeremy Pivens

Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) may be graduating from high school but he has no idea what he wants to do with his life except for knowing his school’s valedictorian beauty Diane Court. ¬†After he knows that she received a scholarship to go to England to pursue further studies after the summer, he decides to call her and ask her out on a date. ¬†As the summer continues, they see each other more and eventually grow closer. ¬†However, things get complicated at home with Diane’s father (John Mahoney) with life and his father’s disapproval of the relationship and Diane has to make a choice.

say anything couple

 

As I’m sure most of you know already, Say Anything is a romantic comedy. ¬†It is possibly one of the most authentic takes on the romantic comedy with just a hint of the drama. ¬†Its fun to watch the love between Diane and Lloyd grow and in many ways, its defying a “perfection” and making different choices than expected or breaking out of a norm. ¬†The characters are heartfelt and just so charming. ¬†Whats nice is that there is a good balance of romantic moments that make me swoon and others that just make me laugh. ¬†A true romantic comedy, right?

say anything john cusack

Our main character here is John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler! This is a story about a boy falling head over heels for a girl he only just saw at the mall and who has different goals and dreams from him. ¬†Not only is the story so cute and refreshing, especially since most romantic comedies nowadays is about a crazy girl that tries everything to get the guy including embarrass themselves. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, that type of comedy still makes me laugh, but this is a breathe of fresh air. John Cusack plays it so well. ¬†They gave him a great script with just the most unexpected moments. ¬†Now I know all about the boombox over his head and what happened! I have to give that originality points. ¬†He did just the perfect lovestruck guy portrayal that just pulled me in.

say anything diane

The chemistry he had with his female costar Ione Skye, that I’ve never seen anywhere else, was just so sweet. Diane and Lloyd have to be one of the cutest couples. ¬†They are different but it also shows the wonder of being in love and how it opens your eyes to other things. ¬†People don’t just jump into bed when they are attracted, they date and talk and teach each other stuff. ¬†I really connected with her character.

Plus, John Mahoney plays the role of Diane’s father. ¬†I remember talking about how I liked him a lot in Flipped a few months ago and in this one, he picked another really good one again. ¬†I’m pretty sure not many father’s would sit around to listen to dating stuff from their daughters but he was looking out for her in his own way and as her best friend, not just a protective parent. ¬†I think its a great character.

say anything couple1

I’m sure you don’t need me overanalyzing this flick. ¬†This flick was simple, sweet and the perfect balance of love and laughs. ¬†It was filled with heartfelt and authentic characters and just so awesome! If you haven’t seen it, I’m highly recommending it! Now its your turn to right that wrong!

Thanks to Austin for recommending it to me! I love the movie and even though it took me 8 months to get around to it and it was not as immediate as he had told me to, I did watch it and loved every minute of it. Please drop by and get a few laughs at his blog and show him some love and support ūüôā

Christmas Marathon: Serendipity (2001)

serendipitySERENDIPITY

Director: Peter Chelsom

Cast: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven

This movie is set during Christmas season in the beginning when Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) and Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) meet at a department store both looking at the only pair of black winter gloves left. ¬†They end up spending that night together not even knowing each other’s names. ¬† They both had their own relationships already. ¬†Sara believes in fate and how fate will bring you together if you’re meant to be. Finally they part with only knowing each other’s name and each with their own name and contact information on two different items. ¬†Jonathan’s on a 5-dollar bill and Sara’s in a book Love in time of Cholera. ¬†Flash forward, years later, they both are engaged not to each other, but someone else. ¬†It is then they both believe to see signs and go off for one last search for each other.

This is a romantic comedy set during Christmas in the beginning, however, no part of it relates to it. ¬†I do enjoy to watch it though. ¬†Its not my favorite but its a nice idea they have here. ¬†I believe in fate and that everything happens for a reason. ¬†However, most of the time, reality doesn’t tell you the same thing. ¬†This movie appealed to me as it is a dream I’d like to believe, although I’d say that how I met my boyfriend has a lot to do with it. Other than liking the whole foundation of this movie, I like John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in this movie. ¬†For one, I had seen John Cusack walk right next to me while he was shooting a scene from The Factory. (Side track a little, I just realized this movie was released, and I didn’t even know.) He delivers a great and charming role in a man who thinks leaving your outcomes to fate is ridiculous to someone who has faith and belief in it to run after the woman he thinks is the love of his life. ¬†When Kate Beckinsale isn’t running of the supernaturals (which she does quite often, Underworld movies, Van Helsing), she’s a pretty charming actress as well. ¬†I like the fact that she smiles in this. ¬†Its a fun and silly adventure to search for someone you only their name, and how fate plays these little tricks on you but in the end will always lead you to what who you are destined to be with.

However, I’m guessing this one is affected by how much you believe in this. If you think believing in fate and destiny is ridiculous, my guess is that it won’t be to your liking. ¬†This is definitely not your cup of tea. But, if you do like a cute little romantic comedy, this is fun and delightful. ¬†It has some funny moments, some silly moments, some happy moments and some you just want to cheer either Jonathan or Sara on in their search.

Do you believe in fate and destiny? Is Serendipity something that you would enjoy or have enjoyed? Even if you didn’t, what didn’t you like about it?