Double Feature: Your Name. (2016) & The Guardian Brothers (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time, we are looking at two foreign animated films. The first is one that was previously reviewed as a part of the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon and originally posted over at my co-host Drew’s Movie Reviews’s blog for Your Name. The second is a Chinese animated film by Light Chaser Animation Studios called The Guardian Brothers (on Netflix, but called Little Door Gods everywhere else), which is their debut movie from the studio before getting to one of my favorite movies of 2019, White Snake (review).

Your Name. (2016)

your name

Director (and writer): Makoto Shinkai

Voice Cast (English ver.):  Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Kyle Hebert, Cassandra Morris, Ben Pronsky, Ray Chase, Laura Post, Glynis Ellis, Catie Harvey, Scott Williams

Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart? – IMDB

There’s no doubt that when we think of Japanese animated films, Studio Ghibli is the first one that gets the most recognition. Yet in the sea of Japanese anime, there’s a lot of smaller films with a lot of great ideas that are starting to appear on the international film market and Your Name is one that definitely had a lot of recognition when it was released. Adapted from director Makoto Shinkai’s novel of the same name which was published only one month prior to the film’s premiere, Your Name stands out because of all its elements being done very well: story full of reveals and twists, emotional moments, music score and of course, its rich animation.  

Your Name has incredibly rich animation. Each scene has a lot of intricate details. Whether its setting up how the sunlight beams through a scene or how the night sky and the comet and lights contrast in its night scenes, every scene is set up to look beautifully authentic, especially in its outdoors nature scene that almost looks like a realistic snapshot full of colors, instead of an animation. Paired with its music score by Radwimps which runs fittingly throughout all the scenes, especially during the montage moments between the two main leads and the little things that happen to go through time quickly, it adds so much to each scene and tone. 

The story here written by the director Makoto Shinkai is based on his own novel which makes it even more of a personal offering and easier to portray the film the way that he wants. Your Name carries a rather complex story packed with swapping bodies, time elements and a few surprises along the way. Its execution is possibly the most important element put to the test in order to make each of its reveals timed perfectly to make it have the most impact and Shinkai does it so masterfully that it manages to make each one unpredictable and pulls the story into another direction and packing in a lot of emotions and tugging some heartstrings as this is at the centre of it all, a love story by the end. At the same time, props to Shinkai who also starts off the story in a light and fun way of introducing these two characters, Taki and Mitsuha with their different backgrounds, locations and genders who learn to discover each other physically and emotionally, adding a lot of charm and humor. At the same time, every supporting character also has its own purpose in propelling the story forward and making sure that some conversations help explain the odd predicament that they find themselves in. 

Overall, Your Name is an outstanding animated film. While I only managed to listen to the English version and would have preferred to see the original Japanese version with English subtitles instead, the story doesn’t lose anything because it has some unique ideas and excels in so many elements that put together, it becomes a memorable movie experience. Yet again proving that 2010s brings forward an eye-opening offering of international films and expands into some unique ideas outside of the big American studios like Disney and Pixar offerings. 

The Guardian Brothers (小门神 , 2016)

  The Guardian Brothers

Directors: Gary Wang & Paulette Victor-Lifton

Voice Cast (Eng. Version): Dan Fogler, Edward Norton, Bella Thorne, Nicole Kidman, Mel Brooks, Meryl Streep, Steve French, Cristina Pucelli

There’s a crisis in the Chinese Spirit World — humans don’t believe in gods anymore! A Door God, facing unemployment, ventures into the human world to prove his worth, leading to unexpected encounters and transformations for humans and spirits alike. – IMDB

Much like its recent film offering, Light Chaser Animation Studios creates stories that play with certain Chinese beliefs, traditions as well as stories. In this one, it uses the belief of spiritual guardians  just like how American movies would use Santa Claus and the loss in belief, affect the future in the human world and pulling the two worlds together. At the same time, it also surrounds the story during Chinese New Year and a familiar tale of a creature called Nian that is the origins of why many Chinese New Year traditions are now used like firecrackers and such. Light Chaser Studios, using these source material, creates a rather fun story which is very much fittingly a fantasy comedy and has equal doses of both, while still managing to add some family drama in between of a mother and daughter relationship and carrying on their family restaurant against the more popular commercial restaurant.

The English version of The Guardian Brothers is packed with a great cast. Right off the bat, Meryl Streep has a unique voice that I’ve always loved and she does a stellar job as the narrator which carries the story really well. The brothers are voiced by Dan Fogler and Edward Norton who fittingly also has one who is more funny and the other much more serious respectively. While Bella Thorne definitely does show up in a lot of different movies more and more and her voicing the role of a little girl, Rain really has its own fun. I talked about her roles a little when I reviewed Midnight Sun (review) and yet again, it is wonderful to see her take on something other than the norm and further breaks her out of this acting box that she was stuck in for a while. Of course, it does help that Nicole Kidman is casted to voice her mother. Of course, I can’t leave this without talking about the villain or just the evil corporate businessman voiced by Mel Brooks, which really is present but more as hurdles and gets whats coming to him as with most animated films aimed towards children (maybe not too young as some darker elements here and there) do to emphasize the importance of being good.

If there was anything to criticize for this one, it might be just the pacing and at times the execution feels like the story jumps around a little too much that pads out what could be a fairly straight forward story. However, the animation is really colorful and imaginative. It manages to grab a good color palette suitable to the atmosphere and what is going on. Its a nice offering and one that is incredibly suitable for Chinese New Year (which was actually when I first watched it not knowing that it was a Chinese New Year movie).

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these animated films?

What’s Up 2020: Week 8

Welcome to the continuous hectic weeks of February! We’re heading towards the end of February and this obviously recaps the week prior so its just still a bit nuts. I’m trying to keep up with everything as much as I can. Some things popped up as well while wrapping up other little things.

READING

to dream is to die

Currently reading: To Dream Is To Die

Reading is still pretty good. I’m managing to keep up with the whole reading on the bus in the morning routine. It gives me a good lead on a lot of the reading and with sufficient time and not too long books, which is mostly the ones I have coming up, most of it is on track. Plus, reading in the morning is always a great way to start the day. I’m still reading To Dream Is To Die. Its definitely picking up and the story is panning out better. I have some little issues right now with dialogue but I’m not even halfway so I wonder if its deliberate. We will see whether its a character thing or just something less to my liking.

PLAYING

reigns game of thrones

  • ClusterTruck

Currently playing: Reigns Game of Thrones

Like I said last week, I’m going to try this week to make the most of the Xbox Game Pass for PC that I have up until April. Before any big games, which I just don’t have time to commit to right now, I’m playing games in little doses. The first that I installed and then removed within less than half an hour was the desire to try out ClusterTruck which is a fairly simple control type of game but also a tad frustrating to get through levels at a certain point. I figured that I’d seen most of what it had to offer so uninstalled it. If I was in the right mindset, I would probably have played it longer but unfortunately, I’m just not. So, I moved onto something newly added which is Reigns: Game of Thrones.

I’ve reviewed the previous two Reigns games and go back to play them on my phone every once in a while. Playing Reigns on PC is a pretty neat experience as it feels more cinematic, which makes me wonder if its just the Game of Thrones angle that adds to it. I’m still unlocking characters and figuring out how to do it so probably will be working on this for the next week or so. It feels more objective oriented so its pretty fun.

WATCHING

FIRST-LOVE-Poster-1382x2048

  • Life of Pi (2012)
  • The Swan Princess (rewatch 1994)
  • Battle of Jangsari (2019, Review)
  • Bait (2012)
  • First Love (2019)

Between Movies and Tea which brought viewings, rewatching The Swan Princess as its great to pair as background viewing and the fantastic two screeners that I got over the past week, its been really good on the viewing front. Everything has been a nice surprise overall. I won’t talk too much about Life of Pi as that’s a Movies and Tea recording and then I got to catch up with Bait which has been on my watch list for a while and it didn’t disappoint. My movie of the week has to go to one of my screeners, although both are pretty good, First Love is awesome! Its full of a good balance of fast-paced action, crime fights between yakuza and triad, clueless pairing getting caught up and some incredibly funny and quirky characters. Its fun and exciting to watch.

BINGING

Find Yourself

  • Dad Where Are We Going (Season 5, 2017)
  • Find Yourself (2020)

Currently watching: The Singer 2020, Love Is Blind, Eternal Love of Dream

TV binge definitely is what I wanted to have accomplish.  I ended up wrapping Dad Where Are We Going 5 and Find Yourself, both were pretty decent watches. If anything, Find Yourself was overall just a fun little watch with a lot of pink hearts floating around a lot of the scenes. It was a bit frustrating in the middle but still managed to pull itself through in the end.

Due to the coronavirus in China, The Singer 2020 actually has changed its structure to an online format with its designated audience watching live as the singers perform in their respective cities and studios/homes. Its an interesting way to do it but still manages to keep it interesting. Other than that, Love is Blind should be wrapping up in the finale this week. I’m still uncertain how I feel about it as its more of something I’ve been watching in the background. While Eternal Love of Dream is at the phase where I’m saving up episodes so skipped a week to pile up more to watch in a binge when I have more time.

That’s it for What’s Up!
What have you been watching/reading/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 7

Welcome to another week. We’re halfway through February 2020 now. This week ends over Valentine’s Day weekend and yet things are surprisingly not very romantic this year. So much that the whole Valentine’s marathon fell somewhat in the background. Its not too bad since I do watch a lot of romantic TV series already so I’m a little more picky. Regardless, this week is moving forward rather okay. Gaming is falling a little behind as I’ve been preparing for the blogathon which is going on this current week.

READING

when stars are bright

  • When Stars Are Bright by Amber R. Duell (Review)

Currently reading: To Dream is To Die (Book #1)

Another book is tucked away as I wrapped up When Stars Are Bright for 2020. Reading has definitely been on track this year. Its not too weird since the first half of the year usually is good until the film festivals start and then things start falling apart. I’m trying to do a lot more reading now. I think I have some pretty interesting books lined up so a lot to look forward to before I even start digging into my TBR pile sitting on my bookshelf.

PLAYING

brothers

Currently playing: Overcooked 2, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

I’m going to confess that while there are currently playing games, I’ve been busy with other things like catching up with movies and such that I haven’t really had time to play any games. Even mobile games haven’t really been in the picture so this week is a little hard to say what stood out. I do have to start playing exploring the games on the Xbox Game Pass for PC before it expires so expect better things happening soon. Currently, I’ve downloaded a few of them so will be talking about it soon.

WATCHING

The Wandering Earth

  • Lust, Caution (2007)
  • Catcalls (short 2017)
  • Come and Find Me (2016)
  • The Wandering Earth (2019, Review)
  • The Night Comes For Us (2018)

This week is a tough call on what to pick for my fave. Everything really delivered overall. The lesser movie might be Come and Find Me. Between Movies and Tea Podcast recording and getting ready for Ultimate 2010s Blogathon and making a final decision on what to pick, its been a lot of movie watching. The Night Comes For Us is a solid Netflix Original film which deserves so much attention. I did have to choose The Wandering Earth because that ended be my choice for Ultimate 2010s Blogathon as my kick-off review, which I have since had an opposing opinion, which is still pretty neat to read about because I thought it was a solid movie.

BINGING

who's the murderer 5

  • Who’s The Murderer 5 (2019)

Currently binging: Find Yourself, The Singer 2020, Where Are We Going Dad 5, The Little One 2, Eternal Love of Dream

A lot of TV series ongoing right now that I am becoming very determined to work on finishing the few that I can. Luckily, a few of these are wrapping up. Who’s The Murderer 5 wrapped up its finale which is always sad because this variety is amazingly fun and this season really stepped up its game to have these cases that were well-thought and always had a good message to share. At the same time, they used a lot of the resources to their maximum and the group all had so much improvements in how to focus on the search. Anyways, I reviewed Season 4 so I’ll probably do a quick TV binge on Season 5 to talk about whats improved and such.

As for things wrapping up, I’m working hard on finishing Where Are We Going Dad 5 since that’s a season from 2017 so its already done. I’m only a few episodes from the ending and I think it’ll be sad to see that finish since watching father and kids interact together is so cute and funny. Its a happy show. At the same time, Find Yourself wrapped up as this post goes up and I had purposely decided to not watch it daily to group up more episodes to binge and just wrap it up. These shows have more impact like that especially in its ending episodes. When that is done, I will only have TV shows that are going on currently so only updated one to a few episodes a week and I’ll think of what to watch next. I haven’t quite decided yet.

That’s it for Week 7 of What’s Up 2020!
Probably the first wrap-up focused week to do some housekeeping and catch-up!
What have you been watching/playing/reading/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 5

Week 5 of 2020! Man, time sure flies by. Probably because January was so immensely busy that I didn’t really have time to think about anything other than deadlines. It was kind of a mess. Because of that, its all kind of a mess and not a whole lot of stuff done but we’re slowing moving forward and I’m still relatively motivated as these little escapes have actually been helping with the de-stressing process.

READING

buried in my past

  • Buried in My Past by  Eva Mackenzie

Currently reading: When Stars Are Bright

Wrapped up the little bit I had left from the week before for Buried In My Past. Its a fairly decent novel. I’ll be posting up the review as part of a blog tour soon so I won’t go too much into it as to leave it for the actual write-up. However, it did hit a lot of things that I like about novel structure and narrative and it was well-paced. I had some little issues of figuring a part of the end-game but then I watch a lot of thrillers and overthink a lot scenarios so I usually catch those little details.

PLAYING

life is strange 2

  • Glass Masquerade DLC: Halloween, Heritage & Inception

Currently playing: Life is Strange 2, Overcooked 2

I had to get Glass Masquerade out of my system after picking up all the DLCs so I ended up finishing that one up as it matched the pace of what I needed to relax in gaming. After that, I had to start working on Life is Strange 2 as due to my work, recording has already been pushed back so needed to jump right into it expecting a short game but the episodes are fairly long, running at 3 to 4 hours each, so its a little harder to do them in a speedy way. Plus, the story is definitely heavier this time around, bringing up a lot of issues. Currently done with Episode 2 and its been a decent ride especially as it managed to link itself back to the world of Life is Strange and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.

WATCHING

Always Be My Maybe

  • Always Be My Maybe (2019)
  • Dog Days (2018)

Movie watching at a low this week. I needed to get some Valentine’s marathon viewings out of the way and ended up choosing these two films. Both are actually quite fun to watch but Always Be My Maybe is really hard to beat as it has Ali Wong who I truly love her humor and then a great performance from Keanu Reeves appearing in the most random way and having the most random rule as a fairly spontaneous character. There’s just so much to love about it.

BINGING

Next in Fashion

  • Master in the House (2019)
  • Next in Fashion (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Eternal Love of Dream, Who’s The Murderer 5

As I try to keep on track with getting out TV binges, I decided to catch up on some more relaxing shows in the form of variety shows mostly. Both the currently binging are still currently airing so they only have limited episodes per week making Eternal Love of Dream and Who’s The Murderer 5 sitting in the background for a while as weekend binges.

I finally took the time to finish up Master in the House that I had started when it first aired last year in April or something but Mango TV decided to get back to uploading to Youtube but just one week later than when its watched on the app. Its a fun one since I’m a fan of the group NEXT and the masters are pretty good and happen to partially be singers that I love also.

And Netflix takes on the fashion competition world as they have Tan France and Alexa Chung host (and judge) the Next in Fashion competition, which seeks to find the Next in Fashion fashion designer who can win $250,000. That show is incredibly bingeworthy. I’m also working on a TV binge for this as I’m a big supporter of Netflix holding these international competitions using their platform for its potential to reach an international audience in various sectors.

That’s it for this week’s What’s Up!
What have you been watching/reading/playing/binging?

Double Feature: Always Be My Maybe (2019) & Dog Days (2018)

Valentine’s marathon is here! Well, at least some form of it! There will be TV Binges and some other double features lined up. However, its a much more casual deal this time around. Kicking off will be 2019’s Netflix romantic comedy release Always Be My Maybe and paired with 2018 romantic comedy Dog Days, because anything with dogs are going to be fun, right?

Let’s check it out!

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

always be my maybe

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Cast: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Keanu Reeves, Susan Park, Daniel Dae Kim

Everyone assumed Sasha and Marcus would wind up together except for Sasha and Marcus. Reconnecting after 15 years, the two start to wonder – maybe? – IMDB

Ali Wong is truly a fantastic comedian and while this is stepping out of the comedian path and into acting, Ali Wong and her co-star Randall Park both take part in penning the script for this romantic comedy. It probably is why the script itself has some very quirky elements that somehow all come together in a random way. Randomness can bring in spontaneity and its what makes this romantic comedy rather fun and unique. Sure, the story feels about the same if you strip down the storyline but because Ali Wong and Randall Park are quite decent comedians, they adds a little more humor to their roles and works in the rom-com world.

Its this randomness in the script that actually does end up being a fun romp. Just like adding in a random Keanu Reeves cameo that honestly was super funny and probably the best part of the movie as the whole exaggeration of how the upper class things are rather silly. The movie takes that effort to play both sides as 15 years later, the two characters Sasha and Marcus have changed from Sasha being a known chef and rich and Marcus still doing the same as before in a somewhat starving artist sort of deal. Its the contrast that also creates a few sparks.

Always Be My Maybe is a fun romantic comedy. Striping it down, the main story is rather predictable but its the little comedic elements of both Randall Park and Ali Wong that give this flick a lot of heart and laugh. Its a feel good movie and one that is rather unique. Plus, they do have a few other more comedic roles especially with Michelle Buteau who plays a supporting role here as Sasha’s friend who after watching The Circle US as the host definitely was nice to see her here.

Dog Days (2018)

dog days

Director: Ken Marino

Cast: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Cephas Jones

A group of interconnected people in Los Angeles are brought together by their lovely canine counterparts. – IMDB

Set up as movies like Love Actually with different people in Los Angeles connecting through their dogs, Dog Days is a decent offering. The stories involve some great casting that has to take on most of the fun elements of this film. Vanessa Hudgens plays a woman who finds an abandoned dog and through this ends up volunteering at the pet shelter and connects with the socially awkward owner who happens to have a crush for her. Nina Dobrev plays an uptight morning show host who ends up being paired with an ex-football player to lighten up the show and connects through their two dogs. While Eva Longoria’s character and her husband are adopting a new girl who isn’t connecting with them but does through a lost dog who happens to belong to the fourth character of a widower who loses his dog accidentally and a pizza delivery kid (Finn Wolfhard) helps him look for it.

All pretty normal stories but because the characters themselves are well-casted, it adds a little something to it. It has its fun moments and a lot of cute moments as expected when working with a bunch of dogs and then some pretty heartwarming moments as connections build and love sparks and the likes, as with most romantic comedies, right? Its nothing super special but it does still have that feel good element when the film ends and everything generally pans out.

That’s it for this double feature!
Our first Valentine’s double feature to kick off this year’s “marathon”!
I’m a bit not sure where this is going so I’m aiming for another 2 double features in this marathon with some other tidbits like TV binges and such. 

Blogathon Reminder: Ultimate 2010s Blogathon! There’s Still Time To Join!

Featured Image -- 32777

Hey everyone!

A friendly reminder to everyone! Ultimate 2010s Blogathon deadline is right around the corner in ONE WEEK on February 9th!

If you missed the announcement and would like to join in, there’s still time. You can find all the info HERE.

If you are just seeing this now and need a little more time, don’t be shy to drop us an email and we can arrange it. If anyone you know would like to join in, share it with others. The more the merrier~!

 

What’s Up 2020: Week 4

Welcome to this week’s What’s Up as we look back at the previous week, Week 4! Its been a crazy January so far and I’m going to have to first apologize for the infrequent posting schedule and the delay of this one being posted up later than usual and the lack of, you know, actual writing stuff. I will talk more about it in the January Adventures at the end of this week. However, Week 4 was okay. Last week was still in half crazy phase so still managed to get some time to relax. Let’s check it out!

READING

Currently reading: Buried in the Past

Buried in the Past is a pretty good book. So far, it hits a lot of elements that I like about both the story and how its executed. I’m actually almost done reading it at around 70% or so and its been able to capture my attention that I want to read it whenever I have a moment.

PLAYING

overcooked 2

Currently playing: Glass Masquerade DLCs, Overcooked 2

My recent obsession with playing Glass Masquerade and then finding the DLCs on Lunar New Year Sale on Steam took over my gaming habits despite needing to play something else (which I didn’t end up starting). However, Glass Masquerade is such a relaxing puzzle game that I honestly can’t help but to play it during this mega busy time at work to destress a little in small doses. Other than that, the husband and I are still trying to get through Overcooked 2. We enjoy it so much and yet, we also only play a few levels per sitting so it might take a little while longer on the currently playing section.

WATCHING

Crawl
  • Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (2015 rewatch, Review)
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018 rewatch, Review)
  • The Guardian Brothers (2016)
  • Crawl (2019)

I’m going to say this right now: Nothing beats watching creature features as fun little relaxing movie night. At least in my world that applies. Of course, nothing also beats rewatching romantic/teen comedies that I love which is pretty much what happened this past week with movies. Obviously, the two rewatches are my faves and thats why they tend to show up frequently in the watching section as rewatches but then To All The Boys: P.S. I Love You is releasing on Netflix on February 12th so call it prep..not that I need it since I’ve watched it so many times already.

Talking about new movies though, Crawl was a boxing day purchase and its been one that I’ve been looking forward to watch as a 2019 catch-up. I have to say that its one that was a lot of fun to watch. Sure, there’s some coincidence in the set up of the whole situation but they make a decent effort to make things logical enough. Plus, the alligators are done so well and there’s a decent amount of tension. I’ll be doing the creature feature eventually. The busy schedule pushed a lot of stuff behind so I’m not sure whether this will happen after the Valentine’s marathon (which should be coming up at some point).

BINGING

ashes of love
  • Ashes of Love (2018)

Currently binging: Who’s the Murderer 5, Eternal Love of Dream, Master in the House

After 63 episodes of Ashes of Love, I finally finished it. Well, physically I did, I guess but mentally, I’m not. All those last few episodes of bawling my eyes out has made this one stick in my system a whole lot longer than I expected. Why am I using past tense because who am I kidding? Its still circulating in my system that I need to rewatch my fave scenes. Still, regardless of that, the busy schedule has stopped me from making too much progress in the new series, Eternal Love’s “sequel” called Eternal Love of Dream. Its recently aired so that one is going to take a while to get all released but I literally just started episode 1 so I can say the tone is nice. I think they chose a good director (same as Ashes of Love) to do this one which is much more light-hearted couple. However, its hard to judge anything with one episode so I’ll talk more about it next time.

That’s it for this (late) What’s Up for Week 4!
Its been a hectic week and expect the same for next week’s recap!
However, things should get back on track soon (hopefully)!