What’s Up 2020: Week 36

Another week is gone and Fantasia Festival is behind us now! All the content is up at this point even if there was a week delay in getting mostly everything done. Next week, things should show some signs of returning back to normal as I start sorting through the backlog and what needs to be done as well, start planning for next month’s Halloween Marathon!

READING

Fangirl

Currently reading: Fangirl

I’m just going to confess right now that I did zero reading this week. None whatsoever. I was either watching movies for Fantasia or using every spare moment to write. I’ve also been going through some strange insomnia so it hasn’t helped the energy or productivity. Reading will resume as I do want to keep going with Fangirl once I’ve recharged my Kindle again.

PLAYING

Luna

Currently playing: Luna

The same for reading as gaming basically, which was pretty much expected. Luna is still the game that I’m going to return to very soon. I didn’t get much time for gaming.

WATCHING

  • Homo ErecTattoos (short 2020)
  • Bring Me Home (2019, Review)
  • A Witness Out of the Blue (2019, Review)
  • Legally Declared Dead (2019, Review)
  • Perdida (2019, Review)
  • Chasing Dream (2019, Review)

I ended the last few days of Fantasia Festival powering through a lot of on demand films. It was a bit intense but all the films were pretty fun to watch. My favorites for the week had to go to A Witness Out of the Blue followed very closely with Chasing Dream. Both had their own style that was a lot of fun to watch. Both of the films, I’d gladly watch again if I had the chance (fingers crossed that Netflix might pick it up).

Talking about Fantasia coverage, I do have to to say, the only post that hasn’t gone up is for Fantasia shorts round-up. There were some impressive short films this year that I saw and no doubt the one from this week’s recap, Homo ErecTattoos was incredibly unique.

BINGING

  • Gagman (Season 1, 2020)
  • Little Forest (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Great Escape: Season 2, Go Newbies, Go Ahead, Chef’s Table: BBQ, The Irresistible, Sing China 2020, Handsome Siblings, The Coming One:SuperBand, BLK946

I finally sat down to finish Little Forest which was a charming little show. Its always relaxing to watch little kids with celebrity adults in nature. Plus, I liked the celebrities involved so I had a fun little dynamic. However, highlight show that ended would be Gagman. That show was a treat every single week. I can’t say that I’m particularly happy with the rundown of the Gag6 (top 6 Gagman/Gagwoman winners) since I’m sure there are other people there that would be much more entertaining but its an alright mix of people.

Some of these shows have kind of fallen into the background right now as I only have a pair of eyes that I can’t watch movies and TV at the same time. I have some general shows that I always like to catch when they release like Great Escape 2 which should be ending soon along with the Master Version (which I never list here but its a show with the same escape room with little changes but a younger cast which are pretty much have their own set of intellectual skills).

Go Ahead is one of my favorite dramas this year and its nearing its final few episodes so I’ve been saving up the episodes so that I can binge it in one shot since if its anything like other series, the last 10 episodes will be a torture to have to watch one or two episodes and then wait for the next day’s to release. Because of that, I finally started Handsome Siblings which has been made so many times that its hard to wonder whether it’ll live up to the last one, which it took a little while to get into but I’m about halfway and its starting to get into a rhythm that I like. Aside from that, I keep forgetting to talk about BLK946 which is a show about trends and fashion/design while I’ve also started watching Sing China 2020 which is like American Idol but the Chinese version but hey Nicholas Tse is a judge/mentor so I’m a little late to the party but better late than never.

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

Fantasia Festival 2020: A Mermaid in Paris (Une Sirène à Paris, 2020)

A Mermaid in Paris (Une Sirène à Paris, 2020)

a mermaid in paris

Director (and co-writer): Mathias Malzieu

Cast: Nicolas Duvauchelle, Marilyn Lima, Rossy de Palma, Tcheky Karyo, Romane Bohringer, Alexis Michalik

A man rescues a mermaid in Paris and slowly falls in love with her. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of Mathias Malzieu debut feature film Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (review), A Mermaid in Paris was a must-watch. It would be interesting to see how Mathias Malzieu would approach doing a live-action film knowing the imagination that he is capable of. This fantasy romantic melodrama is an outstanding effort by Malzieu once again proving that his unique eye for the visuals as well as the use of an older era of fashion and fantastical color palette all blends incredibly well together with his creative imagination that all comes to life in such an appealing way.

A Mermaid in Paris

Being a musician before stepping into the director’s chair, Malzieu also uses soundtrack in a strong way to build up the character of the film. He injects Piaf’s song as well as other song choices to pair with the times. In this case, he also plays on the mermaids and the myth of the mesmerizingly deadly songs of the sirens. This builds up the romantic storyline of Gaspard, a man who falls in love easily and has had his heart broken so much he feels that he has no more love to give and struggling to hold onto his family’s business that holds memories of his mother and a place for performances, who saves a mermaid Lula (Marilyn Lima) who he is immune to her song. Their romantic connection grows gradually throughout the film and Lula becomes a character that wants to get back to sea soon but also has the fish out of water story element, that I’m a big fan of as it brings in a comedic element. The chemistry between Gaspard and Lula is undeniably beautiful.

A Mermaid in Paris

The comedic element is enhanced by a stellar performance of Rossy de Palma playing Gaspard’s neighbor Rossy in a second collaboration with Malzieu. Rossy is a unique character who guides both of them in her rather whacky ways but also plays as an assist. All the happy things here with romance and comedy has to be paired with some drama and adding in a threat to balance out all of this is a revenge story from the girlfriend of one of Lula’s victims. If there’s anything, this character Milena is a bit frustrating at times however she has her purpose.

A Mermaid in Paris is a cinematic treat. The rich color palette paired with the fantasy elements; the mermaid myth playing along on the romantic infatuation that creeps up between them to a surprising twist; the wonderful performances from the cast and the colorful characters: all comes together to create this beautiful experience. On top of that, Malzieu doesn’t even forget to give a nod to the animation style using the characters in this previous film in one of the scenes as a background element. There’s so much to love with Malzieu’s filming style and his seemingly love for telling stories about the life-threatening dangers of falling in love. Its a unique way of telling love stories and its this vision paired with his imagination that makes his films so fun to dive into.

What’s Up 2020: Week 33

Its Week 33! Much like last week, this week was all about amassing content and preparing for whats coming up. Its rather busy but lots of fun. It also makes for a hard to talk about section in this post. So…I won’t talk about this week but rather whats coming up later this current week that you are reading this post. Fantasia International Film Festival’s virtual edition starts on August 20th!! Tranquil Dreams is accredited press so in the next two weeks, the main focus will be movie reviews and festival coverage. As mentioned last week, its going to make this week have a lot of things I can’t talk about but we will work it out. I am working on other content to layer in between all the movie reviews but I really can’t promise anything at the moment.

With that laid out, lets get back on track and look at Week 33’s recap.

READING

  • Conscience by Jonathan Pongratz

Currently reading: Crackle and Fire

Honestly, I need to hunker down and do a lot more reading. The story that I finished reading is a short story so it was a fairly quick read. It was a recent reading commitment that I decided to prioritize since its an easier one to get through and start working on in advance. With that said, its a short story so I don’t want to talk too much about it until the actual review post goes up.

PLAYING

  • The Bunker

Currently playing: Luna

Sometimes I say things and then I realize that it might sound silly but I had time to game but didn’t find time to read. Still, Game Warp has beem in its lonely corner and I really want to get some content for it. It is why I am riding this surge of motivation and doing some gaming. I have two backlogged reviews to do including this one, The Bunker which is FMV game so its like watching an interactive movie. It was pretty fun and was mostly following a linear story and have some quick time events. Definitely one that I would have liked to play on PC instead of Playstation 4.

In terms of PC, I had started to play Luna, which seems to be a fairly short game. I love the art style in the game and its all really cute and has some creativity behind the story itself. Hoping to find some time to wrap this one up in the coming week.

WATCHING

  • I WeirDo (2020)
  • The Lodge (2019, Review)
  • Time of Moulting (2020)
  • A Mermaid in Paris (2020)
  • One Cut of the Dead (2017, rewatch, Review)

While there are some great Fantasia titles here like I WeirDo and A Mermaid in Paris which is definitely worth a watch and you definitely should look into seeing it in Fantasia if you are in Canada (because I think the Festival is limited to Canadian audiences), I won’t talk about it since I don’t have the okay yet. My highlight of the week goes to the only movie not part of the pre-Festival prep or rewatch and that is The Lodge, a movie that I actually didn’t get a chance to see at last year’s Fantasia Festival. How great timing is, right? The Lodge’s review is up already so you can check that out in the link above. Its one that really does build and has a fantastic reveal.

BINGING

  • Mr. Honesty (2020)

Currently binging: Great Escape: Season 2, Little Forest, Go Ahead, Super Nova Games, The Irresistible, Rap Star, The Coming One: SuperBand, Street Dance of China 3

While I won’t say that I particularly recommend Mr. Honesty, its the only series that I wrapped up this week. Its not exactly a bad series and not even that long but there’s some pacing issues and some dialogue that feels rather repetitive and dragged out in the second half. Some of the supporting characters are a tad frustrating. I’ll get around to the TV binge at some point. I’m really behind with these TV binges but I’m working hard on it this past while so hopefully get this one up sooner rather than later.

To be fair, Super Nova Games: Season 3 should be wrapped up since the final round competitions were underway but its like 8 hours split in 3 parts over 2 days or something so I’m still working through the Day 1 Final Round third part and haven’t even gotten to the Day 2 stuff. These are sport things so its not something that I normally binge but more filler material.

On that note, I started a new series last week called Go Ahead starring Wei Long Song, Seven Tan and Steven Zhang. It has a heavy focus on families even with no blood relation. Really great series so far. Well, so far is 11 episodes in so we’re just past the quarter series mark. Too early to say if it’ll fall apart but I’m hoping it stays good since it has a lot of potential.

I need to focus on Fantasia coverage so I won’t be starting anything else new for the next two weeks even if I have another two series sitting in the background that I want to watch.

That’s it for this Week 33 recap!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 30

Week 30 of the year everyone! Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. Not weather-wise since it was incredibly hot and increasingly stuffy. Good news is that I’m kind of back to some kind of normal so things are getting back on track a little on all departments. Plus, you will notice that a lot of variety shows wrapped up so the Binging department will be (hopefully) less crazy. I did also get some good news that I will talk about in My Weekly Adventures coming up at the end of this week…

READING

and then we vanish

Currently reading: And Then We Vanish: Collected Stories

Finally got back to some reading as I decided that reading on the bus was the best thing to do. I finished 2 of the stories in this anthology and they are pretty decent. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the angle each of these stories will take. Hopefully, I will finish up soon as this is rather fun to read and I’m making good progress, and a review will be up soon.

PLAYING

glass masquerade revelations

  • Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions – Revelations DLC

Currently playing: Gorogoa, Find Out

After going into some major gaming sessions of Glass Masquerade 2: Illusion, I’ve wrapped up Revelations DLC which had some pretty fun little puzzles and designs. It felt a little easier than the other DLC since it had more irregular pieces but at times, bigger pieces to put together. However, the art in Glass Masquerade 2 is so nice. The design of each puzzle and the story behind each one and little dialogue is fun. For now (unless they come out with more DLCs in the future), its done as I think about some games to move on.

Although, first priority is to get back into Gorogoa and finish that one up. On a side note, its not exactly just this week but the last month, I’ve been playing a mobile game called Find Out which is a rather quirky puzzle game which has a nice twist on hidden objects mixed with puzzle elements. Plus, it always adds free new levels.

WATCHING

one cut of the dead

  • 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
  • Deep Blue Sea (1999 rewatch, Review)
  • The Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • The Night of the Living Dead (1990)
  • One Cut of the Dead (2017)
  • One Cut of the Dead Mission: Remote (2020)

As we try to get through the Living Dead franchise from the beginning slowly and having some shark week moments with 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and rewatching Deep Blue Sea, the movie that came out of nowhere as a random pick on Shudder is One Cut of the Dead. Its been a while that I’ve loved a movie this much. I have a review coming up so I won’t talk too much about it here but its a must see if you haven’t already. Its takes you for a seriously awesome ride. Its one that pairs really  nice to check out its free Youtube short movie as a project to bring happiness during this tough 2020 as everyone lives through this pandemic.

BINGING

love timing 2

  • Twogether (Season 1, 2020)
  • Love Timing 2 (Season 2, 2020)
  • Woof Meow Story (Season 1, 2020)
  • We Are Blazing (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Great Escape 2, Little Forest, Super Nova Games 3, Gagman, Street Dance of China 3, The Coming One: SuperBand, Summer Surf Shop

Like mentioned in the beginning, a lot of shows ended in the past week, which is quite a relief since it was getting a little hard to track everything. I wrapped up Twogether on Netflix and while that was fun, I think it meant more for fans of Jasper Liu and Lee Seung-gi, although the show did make me want to catch up on some of their series that are on Netflix. We Are Blazing was a bit of a letdown, more that the team I was rooting for didn’t win but then I had already had a feeling who the winner would be and it was them. Its not that they are bad but its kind of a cop out in my opinion. The show overall had some issues but its a nice concept to expose all of these music groups of different forms and variety, especially with the sheer amount of boy or girl groups being created through the different shows on different channels.

Woof Meow Story and Love Timing Season 2 definitely were my faves which I felt sad to end. Woof Meow Story really excelled in the Woof story as the finale saw them working hard to find a suitable home for the stray dogs, and even had a follow-up on their current status. Because I wasn’t a fan of the Meow story part, Love Timing 2 overall was a much more fun reality show. I always liked their format the most out of all the different relationship reality shows and this time they changed it up to a more realistic level that took them after their love confession and acceptance to the final episode where they could go on a trip together and experience the outside world in a realistic world to consider their own lives and how it would be together in a weekend trip and then make another decision whether it was suitable still to be together or at least wanted to work hard to be together. A lot of these shows lack the grounded element and this show already had the merging life but living with everyone else in the show for 30 days so adding this final element does give it one of the more sophisticated structure and perhaps a more solid jumping spot for these different pairs. Two shows that I hope will return for another season in the future.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
This week has been a lot of fun and had some nice discoveries!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 26

Happy Canada Day! 🙂

Let’s get right down to business! Things have been going pretty well this week’s recap in all departments of reading, watching, playing and binging!

READING

call numbers

  • Call Numbers: The Not So Quiet Life of Librarians (Review)

Currently reading: The Memories We Bury

I’m in a bit of a reading blitz phase since I apparently have some lag in reading and bad organization so I end up binge reading a lot. In the matter of a 2 days of focused reading, I went through Call Numbers which is definitely a nice setting and built a decent foundation to kick off for its second book. You can check out the review now.

As of now, I’ve moved onto the next book which was a last minute commitment so I’m working hard on reading through this one right now. Luckily, I’ve read this author’s books before and they are quite easy to get into. The Memories We Bury are alright at about the 20% mark. Review coming up very soon.

PLAYING

glass masquerade 2

Currently playing: Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions

Steam Summer Sale is currently in progress so they had a sweet deal of having a few dollars off from purchases over $35 if I remember correctly. I picked up Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions which I loved the first game, one that I had played earlier this year and is this relaxing experience. After that, I picked up a sweet deal on Soul Calibur VI, Luna and Gorogoa. All games that I’ve been wanting to play. The last week was a bit meh so Glass Masquerade 2 came at a good time to relieve some stress.

WATCHING

ready or not

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
  • Kidnap (2017, Review)
  • Killer Legends (2014, Review)
  • The Lodgers (2017)
  • Luz (2018)
  • Gone Girl (2014 rewatch, Review)
  • Ready or Not (2019)

Productive movie watching as I tried to get ahead with the double feature selections although once you fall behind, its really not too easy to catch up on. With that said, 2 selections for Movies and Tea this week as well as 4 movies for the double features and then the last one and the one that I’d love to highlight (although there were some decent titles this week) is the rental for Ready or Not. Can I say again how much I love Samara Weaving in this type of movie? Mayhem (review) was great and The Babysitter (review) was really fun Honestly, its so much fun to watch. I’d have no problem watching this one over and over again. Now to pick this one up at some point to own permanently.

With that said, I do want to give an honorable mention to Luz and The Lodgers which is the upcoming double feature which were two rather unique titles. The first was a tad odd but did land a lot of the creepy feeling and the second had a few typical horror jumpscare moments but overall, did have some unique elements and twist to the whole thing.

BINGING

mr fox and miss rose

  • Crazy Delicious (Season 1, 2020)
  • Mr. Fox and Miss Rose (2020)

Currently binging: We Are Blazing, Woof Meow Story, Yes I Do 2, Go Fridge 6, Wonderful Little Forest, Produce Camp 2020, You Are My Destiny, Viva La Romance 2, Rap Star, We Are Young

Lots of variety shows handing in the air. I love food reality competition shows and Crazy Delicious did deliver alright on that level. I’ll talk about it in an upcoming TV binge post. With that said, I wanted to give a moment to Mr. Fox and Miss Rose that just wrapped up. I honestly think they got cheated out of this because this aired at the same time as two other more popular choices so Tencent promoted those shows more and didn’t even put this one in its header banner on the Youtube channel. Such a pity because this one was so much fun to watch and it wasn’t even a teen schoolyard romance. The characters and the story and how it linked these characters to The Little Prince all was done so well that it should have gotten more views. I need to seriously think about doing a week of solely TV binge posts at this point as I’ve had too much backlog that only half written.

With the variety show Great Escape 2’s coming up next week, I’m really happy a few of these variety shows are ending in the next week or so to clear up some of the time. All the shows are currently ongoing so it makes for a hard time to remember which is playing when. Actually, the last few weeks have had another Tencent show that I’m watching but it doesn’t have an English title so I never added in. Its really crazy! New addition this week is supposedly the only channel doing a boy group competition called We Are Young run by Youku and featuring among the 84 contestants a good few that did well in other competition shows but didn’t make it in the final winning boy group. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes as a portion of the mentors are also from other shows like Produce 101/Produce Camp 2019 and Idol Producer. As for Produce 2020, its heading into the final episode next week and Katy Perry did a video for the show which is pretty cool.

That’s it for Week 26 recap!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

What’s Up 2020: Week 23

Another week has gone by as we step into June! Weather is warming up and we’re starting to find the reason to get back to the great outdoors and hike some more to escape a little and get back into shape a little more. We will leave that for the next Weekly Adventures and upcoming posts.

READING

No Signal

  • No Signal by Jem Tugwell (Review)
  • Reaper: A Horror Novella by Jonathan Pongratz

Currently reading: Call Numbers: The Not So Quiet Life of Librarians

Fantastic progress with reading this week. I’ve been reading outside by the pool or in the sun a little during lunch time or weekend mornings. Its a lovely feeling and very efficient in terms of just catching up to the book commitments that I have to try to wrap up before the end of June. I’m definitely getting back on track! Both of the books that I read are really pretty good but I’d have to say that No Signal is impressive as both a sequel and the premise it takes and especially the world building. You can check out the review linked above.

PLAYING

hidden folks

Currently playing: Hidden Folks: On Tour

Hidden Folks, in general, brings me immense joy and then they always deliver new levels for free and that makes me also very appreciative. There’s just so much to love about Hidden Folks from its sound effects made by humans to its cute little things you need to find in the level and the quirky descriptions they use as clues. Its really a lot to love and their latest free DLC level is On Tour is just great. I’m still playing through the 2nd of 6 levels or something so still a long way to go.

WATCHING

the garden of words

  • Harith Iskander: I Told You So (2018)
  • Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)
  • The Foreigner (2017, Review)
  • Gwen (2018)
  • The Garden of Words (2013)

A little bit of stand-up comedy shows and a few more movies this week. Its really quite the improvement from the last 2 weeks at least. About time too, since I was running out of movies to review for the double feature if I didn’t start picking up some more movie watching time. Some solid movies here which were very different. One was slow-burn, one was nice and the other was action so it had a nice balance. The Garden of Words is my highlight of this week, although the two stand-up comedy shows were pretty decent also. This anime is only 45 minutes and is directed and written by the creator of Your Name and still has some great storytelling abilities as well as visuals.

BINGING

welcome back to sound

  • The Big Flower Fight (Season 1, 2020) Review
  • Welcome Back To Sound (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Produce Camp 2020, Me To Us, Woof Meow Story, Go Fridge 6, Yes I Do 2, We Are Blazing, Queer Eye S6

While I had a lot of fun with The Big Flower Fight, I do have to say I’ve been really loving Mango TV’s latest variety reality show, Welcome Back To Sound which is pretty much bringing back the concept of radio shows where people call in with their stories and they listen and give their advice or discuss and try to suggest or guide them. The goal of the show is to pull people away from the screen life and bring back human contact of being on the phone or writing letters, etc. Some of the stories are incredibly touching and some are fairly bizarre and quirky and then each show, they have a listener goal and a different mission/challenge as their own showcase or structure. Its too bad that Mango TV doesn’t have English subtitles as its one of those shows that would be definitely worth a watch especially since the three hosts and their guests are all very fun to watch. At least Season 2 is confirmed so looking forward to that hopefully before next year.

That’s it for this Week 23’s recap!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

The Willoughbys (2020)

The Willoughbys (2020)

the willoughbys

Director: Kris Pearn, Rob Lodermeier, Cory Evans

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double Feature: 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?