Valentine’s Marathon: Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a tale really as old as time and probably one of the first Shakespeare plays I had to read in school but super renowned and adapted a ton of times and that is Romeo & Juliet. This version is the 2013 one with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.

Let’s check it out!

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Director: Carlo Carlei

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke

Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each other. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever.-IMDB

 Its always hard to review Romeo and Juliet adaptations. We all know how the story will go and the tragic fate of these lovers. It becomes even harder each time to feel moved by the characters and the story somehow because of that familiarity. I’m not sure if this is the most recent movie adaptation but I think so with these young stars playing the popular roles. In reality, it feels like quite the task and one that I’d eventually like to do to talk about the play and all adaptations (or as many as I have access to). Maybe I’ll give that a go one day. However, we’re here to look at this adaptation and to be fair, it was fine. There were some familiar faces, some good performances, the set was pretty decent and so were the costumes. I’m not a Shakespeare extreme connoisseur so I don’t know the play front and back. It been a long time since I’ve read it but from what I remember, its seems pretty close (if not the same) in dialogue.  However, something seems missing which I can’t quite pinpoint so maybe as I write this out, I’ll figure it out.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are played respectively by Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld.  I haven’t seen a lot of Hailee Steinfeld but I have seen Douglas Booth in few of his previous roles, probably the one I remember most is LOL and Jupiter Ascending (review HERE). To step into Romeo and Juliet is a big task (like I mentioned before), there was to be passion and believability in their roles. Perhaps one of the things I didn’t quite feel was their connection. Sure, they were passionate in their lines and I could see it working but when they were together, something just didn’t click. Although, I feel that it progressed a little fast also. I get that its supposed to be a few days of events like most Romeo and Juliet movies are set in but it took two seconds to jump to seeing each other, dancing and then going to to the back and kissing. I never felt like other Romeo and Juliet movies progressed the love arc that fast for them and maybe its why those movies had a more impactful performance. Oh, and I actually did like Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I feel that she has potential to do more and that’s where I think I probably should check out The Edge of Seventeen from last year.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Talking about the Montague boys now, we’ve already discussed Romeo as the lover boy but possibly a great bromance trio goes to these guys who felt naturally good together. Somehow they worked well in showing their different personalities of Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio. It was easy to believe that they all held different views of the rivalry between the Montague and the Capulets but also that they each also had different values. Mercutio is played by Christian Cooke, who is a familiar face and I liked him in the role. However, I love Kodi Smit-McPhee ever since I saw him in Let Me In (review HERE). This guy has some really great acting chops. He did a great job at Benvolio even if it was just a supporting role.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

The Capulets are much more individual but also has a lot more screen time. We have Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick who is incredibly known to me as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl and I loved his character there. Ed Westwick does have some good acting and in the right roles, he can do quite a bit. As Tybalt, he really just does the cocky guy with a ton of anger issues who has incredible hate for Montagues who can barely keep his actions in control. Plus, he does a whole lot of odd grunting angry voices and always has a grimace, which I get is in character but something about his character felt a little overacted perhaps. I can’t say that its his best performance in my book. The other part of the Capulets is Damien Lewis as Lord Capulet. I honestly haven’t had much contact with Damien Lewis but he seems like a really powerful actor because Lord Capulet’s role really carried especially when he was having the whole scene with Juliet and making his point clear of her marrying Count Paris. That was a fantastic scene.

Overall, Romeo and Juliet in this 2013 adaptation was okay. It probably won’t be memorable but its not horrible either. The pacing of the script could probably use some work to help make us care more about Romeo and Juliet especially when everyone already knows how this all works out and pretty much knows what to expect. There are some decent performances that I haven’t even mentioned other than Hailee Steinfeld, Damien Lewis and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also we have Paul Giamatti who plays as the Friar and as always, he does a nice job in the supporting role. Its hard to not compare Romeo and Juliet adaptations to each other especially since there’s already been so many but here’s my shot at it.

Have you seen this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Which adaptation is your favorite?

Nerve (2016)

In a serious effort to catch up with 2016 movies, although not exactly Oscar nominees, Nerve came onto my radar with its discounted rental price at the Google Play store. I’m a fan of Emma Roberts. In fact, I haven’t seen many movies of hers that I disliked so I’m pretty confident that I’ll like it plus the plot looks something right up my alley.

Let’s check it out!

Nerve (2016)

nerve

Director: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Machine Gun Kelly, Miles Heizer, Juliette Lewis, Kimiko Glenn,

A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”-IMDB

The world of games and reality are not unfamiliar territory and the world Nerve actually feels quite authentic in the most high stakes way. Nerve is a game of truth and dare set by an anonymous group of watchers which set around a set of rules to get to the finals with each dare being more and more risky. Nerve isn’t only a game but a server that hides its watchers behind the screen. Perhaps the side message to get from this game extends to one about cyberbullying and how easy it is to be anonymous behind a computer screen and cause irreparable harm and not have regards for the consequences while also manipulating its players for money, sometimes a lot of money. But then, you can’t clap with one hand. The players’ greed or inner satisfaction or adrenaline rush also pushes them to follow through. The game itself is set up in a believable way, depending on what crazy things you would believe others to do. Nerve is everywhere on the community and perhaps that makes it even more compelling as the directors shoot this film in a mesmerizing way, blending in colors to aid the tone, keeping it fun and dangerous and mysterious, and also using the camera angles that remind us that we are also a watcher as we follow primarily Vee and Ian on their Nerve team-up to the top.

nerve

One of the best parts of Nerve starts when we meet Vee and learn about her fears and how she really doesn’t stand up for herself or do anything for herself. All this leads to her jumping into Nerve and choosing to be a player. The first task leads her to kiss a stranger or we soon learn isn’t really one because said stranger, played by Dave Franco is Ian who had instructions to be there. See the manipulation already? However, they are asked to team-up on each of their dares amd as the movie progresses, they have a much deeper connection. Except what also starts out fun turns out to be even more chaotic. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco were great in Nerve. They embraced their role perfectly whether in the silly fun parts to the more dangerous bits, there is a great connection between them that makes it authentic and work.

nerve

There are some little parts in this one that I’m not sure works well. For one, there isn’t a fleshed out enough devotion to the side characters. The supporting cast themselves consists of a few roles. One which is done well although used in a very convenient way is Vee’s hobby hacker friend (who also seems to have a crush on her), Tommy (Miles Heizer). Tommy is a key character because without reliable and loyal friends, its hard to have progressed. Plus, he has a skill set and connections that helps. Other than him, there is Sydney (Emily Meade) who is the one who introduces Nerve to Vee and also a good friend who always wants attention and is also a player who likes to push the limits. However, what falls apart a little is the predictable conflict between Sydney and Vee. I can see how it contributes to the story especially as we step into the third act but secretly, a part of me wanted the story to be focusing on Vee and Ian and the whole Nerve issue because it didn’t feel like there was a bigger purpose. This is really the only issue I had with the movie. On the side, there was also two supporting characters which are familiar faces from Orange is the New Black who are incredibly likeable as well. They  are one of the other friends, Liv (Kimiko Glen) in Vee’s group which follows Sydney around mostly as a watcher and outside from the scene is Tommy’s friend, Hacker Kween (Samira Wiley). Finally, wildly underused is one of the somewhat “villainous” characters that show up everywhere is TJ (Machine Gun Kelly). If there was something else that should be more fleshed out would be his character who mysteriously pops up here and there but somehow has more significance in the end but never enough to make us really care.

Nerve

Nerve is a really good movie. I have my opinions on the direction it chooses to take at certain moments but it is no doubt a fun and adrenaline-filled ride from the moment we start seeing Emma Roberts’ character press the Player button on Nerve and break out of her introvert and controlled world. Some characters could be more fleshed out to follow the direction of where they wanted it to end. But at the same time, if this was a story less about the petty conflicts but more about Ian, Vee and Nerve would be better and more polished. However, there’s still a lot to enjoy in this movie.

Netflix A-Z: The Spectacular Now (2013)

We’re at the S selection for Netflix! Movie reviews craze going on over here, right? I’ve been wanting to watch The Spectacular Now since this movie released back in 2013 but somehow never got around to it. It could be that last year, I took a long drama movie break. There was a few indie S selections that I wanted to watch but The Spectacular Now was one I didn’t want to wait anymore.

Let’s check it out!

The Spectacular Now (2013)

The Spectacular Now

Director: James Ponsoldt

Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Mary  Elizabeth Winstead

A hard-partying high school senior’s philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical “nice girl.” – IMDB

 The first thing to really catch my eye watching The Spectacular Now at this moment is the brilliant cast they have here. I haven’t really seen a ton of Miles Teller so I don’t have much to compare him to (yes, I haven’t seen Whiplash yet) and I’ve only seen Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars and I wasn’t a fan of that one. Nothing to do with her, just the story was my issue. Aside from our main characters played by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, there is a supporting roles by Brie Larson (who went on to play her fantastic role in Room), Jennifer Jason Leigh (who I saw in The Hateful Eight) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (in  this year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane) for starters. The Spectacular Now is a coming of age story that delivers something a little different. Sutter is our main guy here and in many ways, I feel like it wasn’t even meeting Aimee that changed him but just that Aimee was the girl that gave him a different perspective on the future and growing up. The power of youth and relationships, right? In all reality, Sutter is afraid of growing up and its why he doesn’t embrace his the concept of living for the future but rather for the now moment. There’s a really honest and relatable coming of age story in between the charming romance drama going on here.

The Spectacular Now

I have a feeling a ton of people are going to be disappointed when I say this. Miles Teller is an odd choice as Sutter. Maybe its because this movie is meant to be odd but I’ve never been able to see Miles Teller as a very good actor. Maybe its the lack of movies that I’ve seen of his. It took me a while to really connect with Sutter’s character but in a rather unexpected and subtle way, he did grow on me, especially because we could see the script giving him and Aimee a very cute young love growth in a way that they influenced each other and gave each other courage to do the things they were previously afraid to face.

With that said, I liked Shailene Woodley a lot. As the nice girl, she portrayed it on point. It was believable in her most innocent ways. She truly loved Sutter and saw the good in him even when sometimes, he wasn’t all that great. The fascination of a relationship is finding the balance of having something in common but enough not to learn something new from each other and Sutter and Aimee had that. Their relationship was a highlight of this coming of age story even if I don’t believe it would be what really changed Sutter because the powerful scene with him and his mother played by Jennifer Jason Leigh was the one that stole the show.

The Spectacular Now

Other than the wonderfully sweet moments between Aimee and Sutter crafted beautifully, the drama truly comes in in a strong scene when Sutter finally meets his father again. It proves that the innocent memory he had for his father was actually very much an illusion. He starts noticing all the bad his father truly is even when he tries to brush it away and in many ways, can see the hints of him really starting to see how ignorant his father is and how he somewhat sees the disappointing similarities and how he could potentially be a lot of bad. It shows a little of the nature vs. nurture influence right there in my opinion.

The Spectacular Now

 Overall, The Spectacular Now is a really good coming of age story. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are great as Sutter and Aimee. The character development for both of the characters carry a lot more than just romance but also what growing up is about. Other than romantic themes, it also has a strong family relationship concept here. The Spectacular Now tells a great story with a compelling message. While I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the way they ended it because a ton of movies are doing that also, the journey of Sutter and his coming of age story is an intriguing one to say the least.

Have you seen The Spectacular Now? What coming of age movies do you like?

Netflix A-Z Double Feature: The Pill & Quartet

I know double features are a rarity in Netflix A-Z with the exception of Nymphomaniac Vol 1 & 2 ( review HERE). However, the season has been rather busy and I’ve been more obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls than actually watching movies. In fact, this one has a little cheating to it because the Q selection in general on Netflix is so tiny and I only wanted to watch something fun during the holiday season that I just decided to bring back the Q Selection.

Let’s start this.

The Pill (2011)

The Pill

Director and writer: J.C. Khoury

Cast: Noah Bean, Rachel Boston, Anna Chlumsky, Jean Brassard, Al Thompson, Dreama Walker

Worried that he has gotten the free-spirited Mindy pregnant after an unprotected one-night stand, Fred feigns romantic interest and sticks by her side for twelve hours to make sure she takes both doses of the morning-after pill. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint how I feel about The Pill. Its something I’ve been saying recently. Its more of an indifferent feeling that I have after watching it. While The Pill has a few rather nice moments, there is also something that lacks believability in it. Let’s break it down a little. For starters, Rachel Boston is fantastic as always as the free-spirited Mindy. Mindy is an intriguing character mostly because there’s a lot of color to her life as we learn about her during the day that she has to take her morning after pills in the company of Fred, played by Noah Bean. On the other hand, the issue I had more was that I didn’t think that Fred was a likable character. In fact, I wanted Mindy to see through his lies especially as he manipulated his way into staying with her during the day while the audience could easily see his intentions was only for his own protection to not have to deal with consequences. However, the story is more about him and his growth and recognition of what to do and what he wanted more than it was about Mindy. Perhaps this is where I think that the way it ended wasn’t necessary because it made the story feel much more generic than it may have been without that ending.

The Pill

There isn’t really much to talk about for The Pill. Its a rather straight forward story and somewhat predictable where its a boy meets girl, one night stand, a day together to get to know each other (probably more than expected from family party, etc.) and then he falls for her, she realizes what he’s been doing and he leaves and realizes how much of it was a mistake. A story like this can only be powered by charming characters and in reality, other than Mindy and at the start, the character felt a little off, Fred and especially his actual girlfriend Nelly was a little unbearable to watch. It helped as the movie went along that we saw Fred and his personality but it was hard to be sympathetic for him or feel like cheering him on. For me, The Pill just didn’t connect the way that it was intended.

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. – IMDB

[Excerpts from review that I wrote in 2015. Full review HERE]

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.

Holiday Marathon/Netflix A-Z: Once Upon a Holiday (2015)

Okay…I’m cheating a little but its the holidays and I really wanted to wrap up Netflix A-Z and get holiday movies in so I put in this Hallmark movie called Once Upon a Holiday! I’ve been watching a lot of these Hallmark/TV movies and they have just been a pretty enjoyable feel-good experience. The point of these movies are to be heartwarming so as long as it does that, I think I’m pretty cool with it, especially since its the end of the year and all I really want is to relax in all the preparation and craziness.

Let’s check it out!

Once Upon a Holiday (2015)

Once Upon a Holiday

Director: James Head

Cast: Briana Evigan, Paul Campbell, Greg Evigan, Tony Alcantar, Jay Brazeau, Beverley Elliott, Casey Manderson, Jacqueline Samuda, Tara Wilson

When a princess escapes her entourage to explore New York over Christmas, she meets a young man who shows the beautiful stranger his side of the city.-IMDB

Once Upon A Holiday is a fun little Hallmark movie based similarly to Roman Holiday. Along with its familiar modern day revamp, we also have some familiar faces. The first would be our princess in disguise played by Briana Evigan who is in two Step Up movies. Next would be her real life father who plays as her uncle in this one who had a long filmography with some notable titles. Tara Wilson maybe ring a bell as well as Jay Brazeau and definitely Beverley Elliott who plays Granny on TV series Once Upon a Time. Roman Holiday is a classic lead by some great talents and memorable characters. It would be unfair to hope that a modern day revamp could possibly live up to even Audrey Hepburn’s performance alone, however, Once Upon a Holiday has a rather heartwarming take to this romance drama with a lot of festive moments set in the bustling New York City.

Once Upon a Holiday

Roman Holiday is a high bar to aim for but the performances here are nothing short of fun. In fact, I’d go straight to say that the performances are what brings a lot of charm to Once Upon a Holiday. Throwing the physical attractions aside, Once Upon a Holiday takes on a more chemistry that grows between Briana Evigan’s Princess Katarina (aka Katie) and real estate agent turned renovation business owner, Jack. Briana Evigan brings an innocence and naivety to Katie’s character, very much like a princess sheltered from the world would. While bad things do happen to her and we as the more street saavy audience knows even more than she does, its also that characteristic that makes her more open-minded to accept the people she meets while still trying to dodge cleverly the familiar security detail tracking her down.

On the other hand, Paul Campbell does a great job at being Jack. He is quite the introvert but while being mesmerized and confused by this girl that appears in front of him, seemingly oblivious to everything around her and just learning about something as simple as eating hot dogs, he also reaches out to try and help her. Jack is a good-hearted man who has been tainted by love. There’s something incredibly genuine about Paul Campbell’s role as Jack that makes him believable.

Its not to mention that Paul Campbell and Briana Evigan emit such attractive chemistry between them and the script brings out well a lot of their feelings and thoughts to help us connect to them on a more personal level. Not many can relate to a princess but we can relate to wanting to be in control of our own life and having the power to make our decisions and choices. On the other hand, we can also love the feeling of family and simplicity. Sure, its a little far-fetched in a story to have a love like this one in just a few days time but that is the power of movies and even the romantic in me who doesn’t quite buy the love at first sight thing can fall for.

Once upon a Holiday

Perhaps what makes Once Upon a Holiday a lot more fun is its colorful supporting characters. Jay Brazeau and Beverley Elliott play an ex-magician, Harry that owns a magic store and his ex-assistant, Dixie. Along with them is a scene where they join into a Santa Claus party. On the other hand, there is also Jack’s sister Emily played by Tara Wilson who is charming to watch in a loving and supportive way. By her side is Emily’s small-time reporter Ross, who seems quite stupid and ridiculous as he hopes to find his big break into the big leagues of reporting and turns out to be, very predictably, the guy who ends up following the story of the missing princess and goes on his own wild goose chase.

To be honest, its hard to critique a lot on these heartwarming movies. I’ve said it frequently in the last few reviews. There’s something touching and heartwarming and feel good about them that its okay to accept them for exactly what they are. As predictable and formulaic or even ambitious as they are, these movies are harmless and fun. Not everything is going to be Oscars standards but at least these movies are far far away from being horrible. Perhaps, its the holiday that makes me less cranky about these movies or I’m just a big softie (as Jay says, which I definitely am). Once Upon a Holiday might not be perfect (and I’m aware of that and acknowledge it), but the performances themselves made me love the characters probably far more than I probably should admit. I’ve always been honest about liking movies that a lot of other people would criticize heavily, why stop being myself now, right? 😉

Netflix A-Z: Night Owls (2015)

Sorry for the later post than usual. Who knew a random day off from work would make things be more behind than I’d expect!

We are resuming our sprint to finish up Netflix A-Z before 2017 and we are at the letter N with the indie comedy drama called Night Owls. I’ve always been a sucker for movies that focus around two people in a specific length of time. When done right, it becomes somewhat of a nice and profound character study. I haven’t heard of Night Owls until it landed on Netflix so let’s jump right in!

Night Owls (2015)

Night Owls

Director (and co-writer): Charles Hood

Cast: Adam Pally, Rosa Salazar, Rob Huebel, Tony Hale, Peter Krause

After workaholic Kevin has a drunken one night stand with the beautiful train-wreck Madeline, he’s horrified to discover that she’s actually his boss’ jilted ex-mistress. When she takes a bottle of sleeping pills, Kevin is forced to keep her awake… – IMDB

Night Owls is a quiet little indie film about two people pulled together “accidentally” however they are forced to spend the rest of the night. As I mentioned before, there is so much appeal for me when its a focus on two people and usually two people who are put together unwillingly because it has a certain level of character development. The charm in Night Owls is one that I didn’t quite figure out how I felt until around the mid-point because of the characters which I will talk about in the next part. However, I do want to point out that while Night Owls doesn’t particularly have an idea that breaks any particular barriers and the ending is rather predictable, it does have some great character development, dialogue and interaction and gradual build of chemistry between our two characters, Kevin and Madeline.

Night Owls

Opposites attract. Its one of the best formulas in romantic films. It creates friction and conflict, debate and challenge to each of the characters. That is exactly what Kevin, played by Adam Pally and Madeline, played by Rosa Salazar does. Aside from having a refreshing script with some great dialogue, the interaction, connection and chemistry between them and the great performances they deliver is what drives Night Owls home. Adam Pally plays Kevin who is a guy with a dream. He is working towards his ultimate dream to be a coach as he is mentored by one of his idols. He is rather weak-minded and easily manipulated and pretty naive as well. There’s a protective barrier around him that he sets up and a side of him isn’t really the appealing guy that most women would be attracted to and it is further implied by Madeline’s character when she sleeps with him to get to his boss/mentor/idol who is her ex-lover, Will (Kevin’s boss).

In fact, this is where Madeline’s character contrasts. In many ways, Madeline’s much more exposed life to facing the real world makes her see the true nature of who she is with. However, it also leads her to making bad choices and not always picking the best options but also not quite having the self-esteem or courage to follow her dreams and see who she is and in Will, she gets that but she also sees Will’s flaws and these are all the things that is the dirty laundry no one gets to see and as the night goes on, she reveals them to Kevin one thing at a time.

The beginning of Night Owls and the reason why I couldn’t quite decide early on whether I enjoyed this one or not was because it took a while to actually connect with Kevin and/or Madeline and really feel for them. At the start, it was a lot of fuzzy and stupid moments and its a lot of bickering and yelling and angry talk. However, when things cool down a little and they actually sit down or move around the house, picking up pieces of Will and they both share tangents or connected memories, we learn more about these characters at just how they analyze the situation and it makes us wonder two things: whether Kevin will face that his idol maybe isn’t as perfect as he seems and that his goals may be actually not too realistic and not quite as he planned and intended; and whether Madeline still loves Will and why she did if she sees all these flaws. Two pertinent questions but ones that we wonder especially as we see that as Madeline sobers a little from her suicide attempt, their conversations become more and more profound and it turns into a  intriguing look into who these two are and the potential they have to be together and actually be good for each other and possibly what they both need. That is the magic of Kevin and Madeline and the power of great performances matched up with a well thought out script that can turn two people who we probably can’t root for into people that we’d choose to root for.

Night Owls

 While Night Owls is 90% around Kevin and Madeline, there are a few characters that pop up. One more familiar to me Tony Hale who I recently saw (but haven’t reviewed yet) in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. He also has these funny moments in the most serious way and that works for me. Tony Hale plays the secret doctor that gets sent to try to save Madeline from her suicide attempt. The second role is one that we see mostly through a phone conversation until the end from Rob Huebel who plays Peter, somewhat of the guy who keeps up the image for Will and tries to get rid of Madeline from what could potentially be damaging. Peter is the person that we soon learn is pretty manipulative and in fact, has his way most of the time and weaves up the lies to make Kevin follow through the plans further emphasizing how the whole situation was based on a lot of lies to anyone outside of what was happening. Last person who only showed up near the end is Will Campbell played by Peter Krause. In a very short cameo, we can almost see through his character as we’ve already learned so much about him and pieced it together through Kevin and Madeline’s conversation throughout the entire night.

Overall, Night Owls is a well-executed indie film with a pretty charming script and even better performances to deliver it and make it all believable. While I don’t think that the story itself is incredibly based on anything very unique, even the ending itself is rather expected, the journey of watching the development of the characters Kevin and Madeline was a trip that was well worth the time.

Holiday Marathon: A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

This holiday marathon is going at an exceptionally snail pace but don’t you worry. I am trying to get my Christmas/winter/holidays stuff up here, even if it isn’t holiday movies. To be honest, I kind of just want to go back to the classics and not linger too much on these other movies. However, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale looks cute to say the least. I mean, pets are always welcome for festival season or any season at that.

A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Director: Letia Clouston

Cast: Lexi Giovagnolia, Jonathan Bennett, Dina Meyer, Patrick Muldoon, Jennifer Joseph, Timeca M. Seretti, Tim Hess

When spoiled, 21-year old college student Luce Lockhart is forced to take a job over the holidays walking a rich developer’s dog, she is thrilled to discover they are going to build a salon and spa over the quaint local dog park nearby. But when Luce meets Dean, an irritating yet handsome dogwalker actively trying to stop them, Luce is forced to question what the park means to her newfound friends, and whether she can put aside her selfish ways to help save the park before Christmas. – IMDB

 I remember the first time seeing A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale pop up on my Netflix page and wondered what would make a movie like this appealing. Sure, there is the above factors I mentioned. Dogs are always a welcoming addition to any movie. Then the second reason popped up and that is Jonathan Bennett, probably most widely known for his role as the boy in Mean Girls. I love Mean Girls and surprisingly, I have seen a few other movies after Mean Girls of Jonathan Bennett. He’s not my favorite actor but I like his roles and his work. There’s a genuine feeling about him, whether it was in Love Wrecked with Amanda Byne (review) or Christmas Crush with Rachel Boston (review). Adding into a simple story in A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale, it all seems to work out. Actually, regardless of how some parts seem rather contrived at parts, there is still a lot of heartwarming and fun moments.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

A lot of the story’s charm goes to Jonathan Bennett playing as Dean and our main character, Luce who we realize has everything and doesn’t quite understand the need of the dog park. As the story continues, we as the experienced viewers already know that she’s going to be the one that will somehow save the dog park, or at least take it upon her to do it and realize the worth of it by the end. However, the merit of this movie that gives it a lot of feel good points is the journey to get there. The interaction and dialogue and chemistry that builds between her and Dean and even her growing love for these furry friends all play into this. Luce is a flawed character but only these characters can grow, regardless of how predictable it is and actually, this movie focuses on how she yearns for “substance” in her personality and we realize that she does have a lot when she doesn’t only care about shopping but puts her traits to good use. Lessons, message, feel-good, heartwarming and a little romance gives this story a nice little boost.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Of course, we can’t leave this movie without Missy, played by Dina Meyer who is the employer of Luce and her and her husband, played by Patrick Muldoon, plan on building the spa in the dog park area. The friction is here and the dilemma for Luce starts here as she eventually becomes torn on finding the balance between pleasing her employer as they have powerful positions in society and possibly her future and doing the right thing. But we’re here to talk about Missy Paxton and Dina Meyer does a fine job at giving a lot of enthusiasm and charisma to this character.

Overall, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale really does need to be taken apart. Its supposed to be just watched as a heartwarming little movie with the best intentions. There are some fun performances and some nice interactions and a little chemistry and lots of furry little pets. As predictable as this all is, the feel-good heartwarming element that a Christmas movie needs is exactly what I needed and liked about this one.