Top 15 Anticipated Movies of 2018

2018 looks like such a busy year coming up! Before we got into it, it seemed like it would be at least. As I was compiling this list and looking back at release schedules, I can’t say that I’m particularly inspired. There are definitely some interesting titles coming up. Of course, adaptations (from books and movies) along with sequels even reboots, and superheroes seem to be dominating a lot. As you will soon see, that mutants and mutated creatures seem to also be taking on a special theme here also.

I’m doing things a little different today. We’ll start with some movies that I’m worried but intrigued then head into some honorable mentions and finally wrap things up with our Top 15 anticipated movies, in the order of release according with Cinema Montreal and Collider (usually its only the first site but their releases end in August so I had to fill in the blanks).

The Movies I’m Worried but Slightly Intrigued

  • Slender Man (May 18, 2018): I don’t know the lore a lot about Slender Man except from video games but he’s this tall faceless creepypast Internet meme and to myself, that doesn’t sound very scary but in the right hands to execute it and decent story, it might just work out.
  • The Predator (August 3, 2018): Predator movies are pretty alright. I mean the first one was fantastic (even if I make fun of the effects now in the most endearing way) and its had a somewhat bumpy ride with the AvP however, Predators was pretty good so I’m staying optimistic about this one until we finally see a trailer then I’ll decide how I actually feel about its potential.
  • Halloween (October 19, 2018): Someone’s hell bent on beating the amount of movies for Friday the 13th franchise or something because I have no idea where this could go but look, Michael Myers is a great slasher icon so why not give it a chance until we actually see some footage. This will be its 11th movie in the franchise after the last two were reboots so who knows, right?
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16, 2018): The first was entertaining and exceeded my expectations. So why not? Plus, Johnny Depp has been a tad rocky of late but I’ll give him a chance here.

I know that I’m missing some big titles. Solo, Deadpool 2, The Incredibles 2, Wreck-it Ralph 2, Sicario 2 Soldado are just a few off the top of my head. A little justification probably would be that after I saw A Force Awakens and felt completely like I was barging into someone else’s life story, I felt that unless I actually caught up with Star Wars, it wouldn’t be fair for me to go into any of these movies. Maybe I’ll get around to it this year. Deadpool 2 is a similar reason because I haven’t seen the first. As for Disney sequels, they have yet to fully convince me that they are worth my time yet. I’ll still see them if I get a chance. And then there are movies that I feel sequels aren’t necessary. Sicario was perfect the way it was, just grim enough and outstanding characters. I’m not sure that I’m ready for another one of these depressing things. At least at the start of 2018, I’m already starting off with a bit of some small snags and its only the first day so grim movies aren’t appealing at this very moment. I struggled with putting Fantastic Beasts in worried but intrigued or this part of unjustified, however, I did find that Fantastic Beasts was fun and harmless for what it was and that had to do a lot of it exceeding my expectations of what it had to offer, in case you wondered why that made it and not Sicario (if my husband reads this, he will definitely disagree).

Honorable Mentions

  • Peter Rabbit (February 6, 2018)
  • Black Panther (February 16, 2018)
  • The New Mutants (April 13, 2018)
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (July 20, 2018)
  • Venom (October 5, 2018)
  • Bumblebee (December 21, 2018)
  • Aquaman (December 21, 2018)

All of these movies have a fair chance of me going to see it in the theatres. I do like the Black Panther addition to Marvel and The New Mutants looks very engaging but I’m wondering if it has to do the X-Men franchise. Perhaps some of you more knowledgeable about the Marvel universe can shed some light on that. most of these to be fair or some kind of Marvel or DC or Transformers and adaptation like Peter Rabbit. The only one out of those is the sequel for Mamma Mia! which I do love the first one even if Pierce Brosnan singing can be slightly cringe-worthy. I’ve never felt that need to watch DC films but Wonder Woman was pretty great (review coming up) so since I like Jason Momoa, maybe I’ll check out Aquaman if I have time.

Moving onto the main feature of this post!

Top 15 Anticipated Movies (in order of release date)

The God Particle (aka Untitled Cloverfield Project)
February 6, 2018

No poster, no trailer, two delays on record already. Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane has both exceeded my expectations and had two different tones to it with a small possible connection to everything. Titled with The God Particle but some still refer to as Untitled, this one holds a really nice cast (although I’m not a huge fan of Ziyi Zhang). However, looking at the general plot, it seems cool. But these Cloverfield films have all been incredibly vague until right before their release so hopefully, some time this month, we’ll start seeing a cryptic trailer or something.

Annihilation
February 23, 2018

I know that January and February are the centre of crappy movies and this one is an adaptation and could fall flat but look, Alex Garland wrote and directed both 28 Days Later and Ex Machina and those two movies are some of my absolute favorites. This one has a lot of potential, especially with its fantasy elements. I’ve never read the book its based on but hey, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson and Oscar Isaac have proved that they are involved in some good stuff so I’m pretty excited to see this one. Not to mention the trailer showed a pretty bad-ass creature design so consider me sold on the idea.

Tomb Raider
March 16, 2018

Probably one of my top anticipated movies in this list is Tomb Raider. I love the video game franchise an this one looks like what they’ve been aiming to reboot in the games as well in the origin story style. Alicia Vikander is a very talent actress and she seems to have the role in plus there’s Daniel Wu and I love him and love that he’s gaining success in Hollywood. Its look action-packed and fun. It might not live up to the video games as you aren’t in the character but it sure seems close enough so I have high hopes for this one.

Pacific Rim: Uprising
March 23, 2018

I like Pacific Rim a whole lot. Pacific Rim: Uprising looks pretty awesome. Its full of action with giant fighting machines and looks visually stunning still. The cast is pretty great with John Boyega, Scott Eastwood and Charlie Day. I don’t have any profound reasons for this one but I just think it’ll be fun theatre visit.

Ready Player One
March 30, 2018

I read Ready Player One and thought the book fell short a little of my expectations and all the awesomeness of what it had to offer however, I do have to say that I can totally see this working as a movie plus under the helms of Steven Spielberg, this one has a very small chance of failing. I’m hoping that I didn’t jinx it. Ready Player One has the potential of building a fantastic world. I’m a sucker for reality and animated blends in the world so I’m really sold in this idea. Plus, while I think that Tye Sheridan as the beginning doesn’t quite fit the image of Wade Watts from the beginning of the book, he is quite a good young actor and I like Olivia Cooke a lot as well so lots of good already shown here. I sure hope it lives up to its expectations and if it does, this one is going to be super fantastic.

A Quiet Place
April 13, 2018

Emily Blunt and John Krasinski teams up to be a movie couple. Plus, John Krasinski takes on the director’s seat in this one as well. I’d like to see how his vision will turn out for A Quiet Place. I love horror movies that use silence to its advantage. It can make for a very intense movie experience. I’m guessing the best example would be Don’t Breathe. The trailer seems to hide enough of the horrors to still make us wonder what is in store. I don’t have a habit of watching horror in theatres but I have a feeling that I’m going to make an exception for this one. Although, the timing of the release might be the tougher element to work with here.

Rampage
April 20, 2018

I’m an unapologetic The Rock fan. I haven’t seen all his movies and I do blame part of my love on my husband’s love for his roles. However, he always delivers these fun adventurous movies in some rather absurd way. Rampage is adapted from a video game and that also scores some points for myself. At the same time, it feels like this one has some more emotional elements to it and I’m huge on creature features so lets say that this one falls into my soft spot and I can’t wait to see it! The trailer boasts on the director of San Andreas, while I did enjoy it, I’m not exactly sure thats a selling point for many people to be fair.

The Avengers: Infinity War
May 4, 2018

I had discounted this movie for a long time. Marvel movies are decent and they have their entertainment value but I always find them slightly lackluster particularly The Avengers were both okay but also was missing something. Infinity War is still a huge chance on this one but it does seem to bring together both The Avengers and all their hard work in building these characters over the many many movies over the last few years (maybe decade) and the Guardians of the Galaxy universe so I’m pretty excited to see where this goes. Plus, they’ve had some nice comedic fun moments in these so I’m ready to give this one a go although I have a few previous ones to catch up with.

Ocean’s 8
June 8, 2018

Other than Rihanna and Awkwafina making me doubt this movie a tad, I’m actually very intrigued by this movie. Cate Blanchette and Sandra Bullock are awesome in a ton of stuff that I’ve sen them in plus I have a girl crush on Sandra Bullock ever since Speed. There is a strong cast. Plus, it looks like a fun time. To be fair, this one originally didn’t make the list however the trailer changed my mind a lot.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
June 22, 2018

I have regrets about watching this trailer because I feel like it reveals WAY TOO MUCH. However, I loved Jurassic World and I also like Jessica Chastain. Plus, dinosaur movies are fantastic. What can I say? I’m going to be there no matter what.

Ant-Man & The Wasp
July 6, 2018

I remembered liking Ant-Man more than I would have expected and looking forward to a sequel. It hit some nice comedic points and was a fairly easy-going film to watch. I’ll probably need to rewatch it before I go see this. However, Michelle Pfeiffer is also listed in this so count me in.

MEG
August 10, 2018

So far, The MEG has no trailers except we know that Jason Statham is part of this. Let’s just say that I love a good shark movie even this technically is about Megalodons who were thought to be extinct.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
November 2, 2018

Come on. This is like a  weird take on The Nutcracker with The Nutcracker music. It has Morgan Freeman as well. I’m totally sold on a fantasy like this one. I didn’t even know if its existence until I saw the trailer and then I was just really into it.

Mulan
November 2, 2018

Mulan’s live remake, according to IMDB is only in pre-production right now and only has Yifei Liu as Mulan casted. Which could mean that it might not be released in 2018 for all we know. However, I’m a sucker for the Mulan story even if I think there are certain flaws to it. I loved the animated version and it’ll be interested to see how they approach this one.

Mary Poppins Returns
December 25, 2018

You know what? As amazing as Julie Andrews is as Mary Poppins and how much I don’t think anyone could replace her, I do kind of see Emily Blunt fitting those shoes well. Mary Poppins Returns might not exactly be necessary and could only be seen as something of a cash grab but the talent in the movie is undeniable and just for those two reasons, I’m ready to give it a chance.

 

 

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What’s Up 2018?

Hello everyone!

I’ve sat around most of today just resting up and getting back energy from the NYE festivities at our place and doing little cleaning up and such. Its been really fun. Of course, I did promise a 2018 look ahead. Call it resolutions or plans or whatever you’d like. There’s not going to be a ton of change this year however, I’m trying to set some solid goals and keep them going. Let’s call it just updates for all the sections of this blog.

Twitter update

I’ve wanted to change my crappy Twitter handle for years instead of the horrible tranquildr3ams. Emphasis on the 3 instead of the e. It reflects how old I am and what generation I grew up in, I think. With that said, it also looks super bad now especially I’m trying to at least seem slightly legit and get press passes and such. So here we are…after seeing that TranquilDreams and Tranquil_Dreams was taken, I ended up just doing TranquilDreams_

New Twitter Handle: @TranquilDreams_

Everything should be updated so there shouldn’t be a ton of confusion.

Blog Plans

Lets start with the blog plans for 2018. We’re looking at Movies, Books, TV Binge, Baking for the main categories and then the Weekly Adventures category will be its own little thing.

MOVIES

As of starting this year, I’m missing reviews for Wonder Woman, Kong: Skull Island, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and 47 Meters Down. Those will be going up shortly over the next week as I rid the backlog of reviews that need to be posted.

Movie reviews do the absolute worst on the blog as a first impact post however some reviews do have views in the long term. I keep them here because I truly do enjoy watching films and sharing my thoughts on them. Plus, Fantasia Festival reviews do well and I love covering indie films a whole lot. Creative new ideas from these great artists and creators are something I truly appreciate. With that said, I have refrained from reviewing Hong Kong films which most of my cinema roots stem from in the last few years because no one actually reads them. They just are for my own enjoyment. Seeing as this category has so many other talented writers reviewing the American cinema, I’m probably going to dial it down a notch and do more foreign cinema with a heavier focus on catching up with Hong Kong cinema. I miss it so much and maybe it’ll help introduce something new to those of you who are interesting in international cinema. If not, at least I’ll enjoy it thoroughly myself.

With that said, I’ll still review everything I watch and if you’d like, join me on Letterboxd to see how I rate movies since I don’t share ratings here. My username is TranquilDreams.

BOOKS

I fell short of the Goodreads challenge in 2017 on a technicality. However, I can’t remember if I did change my original goal. I might have done it halfway through the year. Regardless, this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge is at 25 books. I decided to set it a tad lower because I want to jump back into The Classics Adventures. With that said, I’m picking up right where I left off at the end of 2015.

This year, I’m going to work on:

  • Northanger Abbey (to finish the Jane Austen novels)
  • Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
  • Jules Verne novels
  • Anne of Green Gables (hopefully) and/or Emily of New Moon
  • Finish reading IT (the break was way too long)

Of course, I’ve grown a profound love for graphic novels and comics along with trying to get some more ebooks off my Kindle. It’ll be a nice mix of stuff but it should be fun. Currently, I have Josie and the Pussycats and a novella to share the review for which will be coming up next before I start the new endeavors.

TV BINGE

TV Binge finally got its own section. I change the structure on how I review these ones with every single series and hopefully this year I’ll settle on a way that I’m happy with. We have more than enough sitting in backlog to get written up: Gilmore Girls Seasons 5 to 7 + A Year in Life, Ultimate Beastmaster Season 2, Stranger Things Season 2 are the priority to wrap up. Aside from that, this year, I’ll try to actually dive more in foreign as well to cover Taiwanese series as well as Hong Kong TV series that I’ve bought for years and never actually got around to watching until this past week off from work.

Of course, for your viewing pleasure, I also have some TV series I want to catch up with:

  • Hemlock Grove Season 3 (Final)
  • The 100 (catch-up)
  • Grey’s Anatomy (catch-up)
  • The Vampire Diaries (up to finale)

Some series that I’ve never actually watched and always get told to watch:

  • Hannibal
  • Supernatural
  • Black Mirror

A Series of Unfortuante Events will get its Season 2 on March 30th so I’m pretty excited about that. 3% also has Season 2 coming up this year as well. Lots of stuff to look forward to.

BAKING

Suffice to say that cooking and baking has truly taken a backseat and it was replaced by Goodfood recap which I have a lot of fun sharing with you all. If you ever see a recipe that you like, don’t hesitate to ask me for it. I’d love to share the link with you. If you are a fellow Canadian and have access to the service and want to try it out, I have free meal vouchers that I can send you so you can give it a go. Just drop me a comment or an email with your email and I’ll get that sent over to you.

I’ve been thinking a lot of cooking more and getting back into the baking groove. People say third times the charm, right? So lets do this again. I’m set on getting this project done even if it takes 10 years. We’re doing the Baking Through Disney goal again. If you are new here, you can check out the page HERE. The progress has been nothing short of sad and pathetic. Don’t you worry! I figured out the Fantasia and the Dumbo baking now and I’m  not going to change my mind. I’ll free up time and get the motivation and we’re going to get it done. I’m going to start watching more of the movies so that at least we have the movie reviews going up to see how Disney progressed while I ponder away on making delicious desserts.

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Music Obsessions: no change, remains on the first weekend of the month
  • Sunday Lists: every other Sunday will have a faves or best to worst list
  • Game Warp Podcast: Updates for only featured reviews. I urge you to subscribe to the channel for other reviews or like our Facebook page
  • Unboxing: Meowbox is the only one still active on a quarterly basis.

Big Change in Setup: My Weekly Adventures has the biggest change. I’ve pondered for a while about this. I used to post gaming related stuff on the Tranquil Dreams Youtube channel. With my increased love of video editing, I’m planning to revive the channel. I’m still trying to get that movie-related project going however I’m not really happy with the angle I chose so I’ve been thinking about it more. Unboxing only still Meowbox so thats going to be very minimal. With that said, I might start doing some vlogs for the Weekly Adventures. Who knows, the blogs always been about adventure so we’ll see where thats going to go.

Personal Life

This is getting super lengthy! This year’s personal goal:

  • Be more organized
  • Less procrastination
  • Eat Healthier & Get back into a workout regime

That’s what’s up for 2018!
Some vague goals but I’m keeping things attainable!
What do you think? What are your goals/resolutions (if its your thing)?

2017 in Review!

2017 is only a few hours away from midnight! I’ve waited all day to think about how to put this together. We’re looking back at 2017 and thinking back, this year has been a really tough one. While the stats for Tranquil Dreams have been dropping slightly in the last two years, I don’t mind so much because I’m actually happy with the content I put out because I put a lot more time and effort in everything. This year has had a lot of fun stuff of course, the tough parts all really go to the personal life part being difficult, in particular the biggest aspect being that my health wasn’t great with getting hit with one infection after the next. Hopefully 2018 will bring better times. At least I have things I’ll talk about tomorrow that I hope for 2018 to accomplish that might add some balance. The wonderful balance that we all try to strive for when juggling blogging and real life.

Taking a look at the dropping 2017 stats, I’m still fairly  happy with it.

Views: 53, 757
Followers: 2419 (went up 300 followers exactly..you all rock)
Top 5 countries: USA, Indie, Canada, UK & Australia
348 posts published (excluding this one)

Another fun fact is that Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter actually brought in more readers this year. I’m really happy to see that because hey, I’ve been working hard on social media and especially on the Twitter front. I can’t say that I’m a pro by any means but I’m trying really hard to figure it out a little more.

According to Letterboxd, I watched 137 movies. Most of them new viewings with a few exceptions that were repeats. To be fair, I might not have logged it but a few of my faves and were on Netflix were watched on repeat on the tougher days.

My top 10 movies watched (not only 2017 releases in no particular order):

  • Mr. Right
  • Singin’ In the Rain
  • The Edge of Seventeen
  • The Vampire Cleanup Department
  • Better Watch Out
  • A Taxi Driver
  • Blue Jay
  • The Autopsy of Jane Doe
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Fast Convoy

However, I did fall short technically of my Goodreads Challenge although two of my selection were three book packs so I should have surpassed the goal. However, I’ll put some thought in how many books I’ll set for next year. In terms of book reviews, this year I took on some book tours from Shannon from Reads and Reels who has her book tour gig. If you are an aspiring author and need some promotion, go seek her out for some book tours. She’s offered up some great reads in the past year. If not, you should still check out her blog for some fantastic content on both book and movie reviews.

2017 also saw the official start of a TV Binge index since I’m enjoying having more TV binge posts. Diving back into more TV series has been a refreshing turn in events that has been a fantastic journey. I have a few series that I’m looking to catch up on next year.

Its been a great 2017 despite personal issues that has hindered some blogging motivation but overall, I’m happy with how things are going. Sure, some things like the Classics and the Baking Through Disney hit a snag but next year, you’ll see that I have some rather concrete plans for them. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Its almost midnight here and I’ve sneaked up away from my guests to finish up this post!

Hope you’ve all had a fantastic 2017 and I’ll be sharing my plans for 2018 tomorrow!
Happy New Year, my lovelies!

Boxing Day Haul 2017!

Boxing Week is probably the correct term to use nowadays. However for myself, Boxing Day is really the day we do most of the purchases and get it behind us so that we can recuperate from expenses and zero back in to the coming New Year. This year,I do have to say that I had already had some pretty solid idea of what I wanted to get for Boxing Day so its more home and useful stuff, except for some gaming stuff and impulse movie buys that I thought was decently priced.

To be fair, the deals (for things I would get) was not really that great. I think its because Black Friday had pretty great discounts this year. However, we did end up hitting 7 stores (not all yielded purchases) within 4 hours and found some really fantastic deals.

Let’s take you shopping with me in this recap!

Walmart

Not a great way to start but the Boxing Day always starts at Walmart because my friend is into getting movies but the movies he was looking for wasn’t discounted. For myself, I wasn’t intending on picking up movies but then I saw Alien Covenant on sale and it would complete our Alien franchise at home. I do have a Alien franchise list post coming up so its nice to have it to revisit if I need. See how it holds up in repeat viewing. Second one was The Legend of Tarzan which funnily enough, I had taken out of my Amazon cart the night before but decided to pick it up again here. Record time to get in and out of Walmart for us: 10 minutes.

Best Buy

The main goal of my Boxing Day was at Best Buy because of the external hard drive. We desperately need to extended storage for the Playstation 4 because with my husband and his AAA games in progress, it takes up a chunk of the system leaving me with very  little space to add games in to play on the side. With 5TB, its going to be great on all fronts. This drive was $150 which was pretty decent. If you are looking for an external like myself, the max is at 8TB which also happens to be on sale and actually averages to be a slightly better per TB rate however, I didn’t want to drop the extra money due to other needs. Second was NieR: Automata which is a game I’ve wanted play since we checked out the demo in early 2017. Its $30 now.

Adidas Outlet Store

I’m determined to get back to running next summer and that required a new pair of running shoes. The current pair I had has already been used for light hiking and a lot of walking around during the past year. I probably still have a few miles on it but I wanted a new pair for backup in case there wasn’t another sale. I ended up with these that could double for work if I wanted something comfortable and casual but matched with office attire when needed. Plus, they were 50% off so it came to $35 for the pair. My husband’s shoes didn’t have a good discount so I ended up getting him 2 shirts at $10 each.

 

IKEA

IKEA always has specials on oddly colored models. For Boxing Day, the Raskag rolling tray was $16 instead of $50. I’ve bought a lime green drawers set before. There was no way I was going to miss out on a reddish-orange-brown Raskag. We got one of these (and you can see it in the background) and it is so great because it fits so much stuff and is great for organizing stuff in it. I’ve seen it used as an alcohol trolley or for crafts. I use it for office supplies and secondary book shelf. This one is probably going to be for video games and our new humidifier (coming up next).

Canadian Tire

Its moments like this on my blog that I start to realize how much I’ve changed with the blog. This haul is so grown-up. So, I picked up two humidifiers which we desperately need. So the small one will be move between the office and the bedroom as its for smaller spaces. It was $35 and cool mist. The second one is warm mist and will be for countering the dryness from the fireplace and works for a medium sized room which will do the job here and at a decent price of $40. But we really needed it especially with this incredibly cold winter we’ve been having so far and the fireplace running more than past years. Finally, we’ve been looking at the 3 outlet power post by Noma and this had a 40% discount (came to $18) so I was pretty happy about it although my husband seemed even more excited than I was about it.

Michaels

The last stop was to pick up 6 picture frames at Michaels. Montreal Comiccon ended up with quite a few art pieces that needed to be framed and Michaels had a sale for buy one and get the second one free which honestly is pretty awesome. We have everything framed now and just trying to figure out which goes where. I’ll give you all an update in an upcoming Weekly Adventures.

Amazon

  • Playstation 4 Controller
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins

As this post goes up, I haven’t gotten the physical items yet since its out to be delivered today. Playstation 4 Controller is really because one of our controllers dropped and broke apart. It still works but the super glue holding it together isn’t very fun to use. In case, it decides to break, at least there’s a backup. And hey, if we ever get a chance to play local co-op, we can play 3 players. Assassin’s Creed Origins was kind of a make up present for my husband since I talked him out of buying the PS VR (as its pretty pricey and not a great deal) and he was a little saddened by it. Can’t say it didn’t work out for him though. He ended up getting a game for not spending money. Not sure how the logic works there…haha!

Steam Winter Sale

To wrap this all up would be the Steam Winter Sale. I try to stock up on games with really great deals (even if they are old) during the sales and limit spending during the rest of the year when there aren’t some fantastic deal. Hence why there are always a few titles. I actually have played a fair amount of the Black Friday games and working on the reviews on those. I actually have to do some housekeeping for both Game Warp and here over the next few days. If necessary, I might take a day off in the new year to get everything in order and caught up. We do have some great stuff coming up in the new year. We’ve hit somewhat of a holiday and technical snag but things will get back on track very soon.

Phew…done! This haul is wrapped up!
Now for a few months of calm and no shopping (save the basic needs). 😉
I’m pretty happy that a lot of the stuff here was useful things for the house. 

Sunday Lists: Must-Watch Christmas Movies

must-watch christmas movie

Happy Holidays, my friends!

I present to you a list that will gather all the films that me (and my husband) deem worthy to be added into our Christmas movie marathons. We still have some classics that are to be watched
With that said, this will be updated as I see further Christmas Movies worthwhile to be added in. They are placed in alphabetical order.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) Review

charlie brown christmas

The Peanuts are a staple with a lot of people and who doesn’t love Charlie Brown and his ugly Christmas tree and realizing the bigger meaning of Christmas through some unfortunate events. The Peanuts are a lovely cast and A Charlie Brown Christmas is a perfect Christmas movie to watch with the family.

A Garfield’s Christmas Special (1987) Review

a garfield christmas

I’m not sure how many have seen this one but this one was a favorite on TV. Garfield was a fave along with Odie and something about this one really touches me every year especially when Odie makes a cute gift for Garfield and when Garfield finds something for Grandma that truly warms her heart. Its definitely one for the family that we love.

Arthur Christmas (2011) Review

arthur christmas

When modern technology changes how Santa treats Christmas, his youngest son Arthur who is clumsy and only does mail writing packed with a dedicated elf and a lot of Christmas enthusiasm goes on a journey to deliver a gift that was forgotten at the workshop to the child by his own means. This animated movie is a newer selection and one that brings a ton of happiness and laughter.

Elf (2003) Review

elf 2003

Completely my husband’s pick comes Elf with Will Ferrell. While we differ on our views of the comedic value of Will Ferrell for most movies, Elf is the exception to the equation that has really grown in fondness. Its about believing in Christmas and Santa Claus. Its a little nutty but its for that craziness and awkwardness that this movie truly shines.

The Holiday (2006) Review

the holiday

The Holiday is the ultimate romantic comedy that fits so well with the Christmas season. It takes place over Christmas holidays when two women heart-broken swap houses and end up unexpectedly meeting men that change their lives. Be it as a love relationship or a father figure that tells her to see herself as the woman that she is, its a heartwarming tale full of laughter and lovely moments. Its one of my favorite romantic comedy and sometimes I even catch myself watching it outside of the holiday season because its such a feel-good story. Plus, the cast is just perfect.

Home Alone (1990) Review

Home Alone

John Hughes in the screenplay and producer seat along with 90s great child star Macauley Culkin as the iconic Kevin McAllister who gets left behind over Christmas vacation and tries his best to protect his home with traps and tricks. Its a wild ride with a lot of happiness that even the brattiest of kids have a special side to them and deep down its also about family.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) Review

how the grinch stole christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas ranks very high on our must-watch movies. Its one that makes the cut every single year. Its Dr. Seuss for one (and I’ve shared my love for it every opportunity I can get) and the animated version is narrated by Boris Karloff and its so awesome. And finally, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch is one of my fave Christmas songs to play.

Love Actually (2003) Review

Love Actually is the stories of nine lives intertwined by love during the Christmas holiday. The cast is fantastic and each story has its own heartwarming and thoughtful moments. Its a lot of fun to watch especially the hilarious Bill Nighy moments. Plus, the late Alan Rickman is in this one and he is fantastic.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) Review

Mickey's Christmas Carol

Christmas Carol is such an iconic Christmas story by Charles Dickens and its had so many different renditions. However, the one that holds the closest to my heart is the Disney version packed with Mickey and the fellow animated cast. Its a little silly and keeps it lighthearted and is a family classic at our house.

Now with that said, if you are looking for another Christmas Carol rendition a little less of a short movie but a longer animated version, Disney’s 2009 A Christmas Carol with Jim Carey is a pretty good choice also.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947 & 1994)

Miracle on 34th Street

Does Santa actually exist? Is he just a man that plays the role incredibly well? Miracle on 34th Street is about belief in something that doesn’t have to exist, no matter how out of the world it seems. Both the 1947 and 1994 makes the cut here. The original has a certain magic to it although I still normally watch the 1994 version the most because I just love Mara Wilson.

You can see my reviews for 1947 HERE and 1994 HERE.

Polar Express (2004) Review

polar express

Tom Hanks takes on a multitude of roles here in The Polar Express and while that is a nice gimmick for this movie, its a great movie about the belief in Santa. It has a fantastic musical component to it and its visually stunning. Its a great adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express.

The Teddy Bears Christmas  (1992)

teddy bears christmas

Its been a real difficult trip to find Teddy Bears Christmas. Luckily, some fine people have posted up one of the specials on Youtube. You can find it there if you want to check it out. Its a little dated perhaps but I loved this animated series so much and it had a moment when it was a pretty big thing on TV. At least it was for me. This one is a ton of fun about Ben, a teddy bear that goes looking to retrieve a gift, a new teddy bear, for his owner Sally. While trying to dodge the eye of the humans, he tries to get to and from the toy store before Christmas arrives.

Am I missing any of your faves? Share them in the comments below!

Double Feature: Southpaw (2015) & Miss Sloane (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature. I rented Southpaw and Miss Sloane on discount on Play Store last month. Two very different films and two very different feelings about it however both heavily reliant on their main character.

Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Oona Lawrence, 50 Cent, Naomie Harris

Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services. – IMDB

If there is one word to describe Southpaw, it would be disappointing. It isn’t particularly a bad film as the performances were great. Rachel McAdams did great for what it was. Jake Gyllenhaal was fantastic and I absolutely love Forest Whitaker who is an underrated actor. The girl who played the daughter was Oona Lawrence and that arc was decent.

However, the flaw lies in the fact that Southpaw is pretty much another Rocky story in many instances and we already had Creed recently that was much more engaging. It didn’t help that Southpaw was a little too dramatic at parts but never made it feel very exciting to watch. Seeing the stellar cast being in this uninspired script truly was a lackluster experience.

Miss Sloane (2016)

miss sloane

Director: John Madden

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Lithgow, Jake Lacy

In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price. – IMDB

Miss Sloane was a movie that I went in with no idea of what the premise is. I have heard good things about it and I have enjoyed Jessica Chastain. Miss Sloane is such a vibrant character wrapped up in a tough and ruthless shell. She is strong and strategic in all her plans and for all the reasons, it makes us wonder on what she has under her sleeve even in the most desperate of situations but it is what makes her compelling to watch.

Miss Sloane, just as the title implies, is truly based on Jessica Chastain and how she takes on the role and she did an outstanding job. As we navigate through her way of life and the little things, while she isn’t exactly a character you would cheer for because of her lack of ethics and morals in some of her decisions, every part whether planned or not comes into play and that gives full credit for the screenwriters doing a fine job at giving it a good pacing that keeps everything moving and finding a balance to learn just enough about Miss Sloane and keeping enough to make everything make sense and surprise when it falls into place.

While Miss Sloane isn’t typically the movie that I would watch, I’m glad that I did because it was absolutely awesome. Gripping, compelling and full of twists and turns around every corner. This one is a must see.

Have you seen Southpaw and/or Miss Sloane?

Medicine in the Movies Blogathon: My Sister’s Keeper (2009)

Medicine in the Movies Blogathon

Medicine in the Movies Blogathon by Charlene over at Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews was this past weekend and sneaking in my almost kind of late entry is for My Sister’s Keeper. Over ambitious post drafting will eventually backfire one day on me and it did this time. Before I start, I’d like to say sorry to Charlene for the tardiness. Trust me, it was not intentional. As the name indicates, this blogathon is all about medicine in the movies and my thought right away went to this movie adapted from Jodi Piccoult’s book with the same name.

My Sister’s Keeper (2009)

My Sister's Keeper

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Cast: Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz, Sofia Vassileva, Alec Baldwin, Jason Patric, Evan Ellingson, Heather Walquist

Anna Fitzgerald looks to earn medical emancipation from her parents who until now have relied on their youngest child to help their leukemia-stricken daughter Kate remain alive. – IMDB

My Sister’s Keeper is an interesting one to talk about. On the surface, its about a family dealing with their older daughter’s fight to live as their younger daughter fights for her freedom of use of her body that she’s lost. What sounds like a heartless thing to do as this decision abandons her sister from her chance of survival and surprising as a top attorney will do it almost pro bono for her cause because he believes in what she is fighting for. However, behind all the medical battle, its also a highlight on how the family has broken apart in pieces. As everyone focuses on one person in the family, everyone else has needs and desires that are overseen or neglected and the only person that sees this is Kate, while ill still sees clearly what her sickness has caused over the years. What helps with this is that there are narratives of each of the characters to see how they are reacting and their thoughts on what is going on: whether it is about Kate or Anna’s decision to earn medical emancipation. My Sister’s Keeper uses sickness in a family to not only highlight each of their characters but also takes the approach to show us how it can break each other apart or keep them together more and also brings up many questions about who to side for and is there a side in this cause? Of course, nothing is that simple. My Sister’s Keeper, while not delivered quite as effective as the book in my opinion, still manages to bring some decent performances to showcase the story and dilemmas in this situation while letting us learn more about each of these characters.

My Sister's Keeper

Perhaps the best way to look at My Sister’s Keeper is to take a look at the performances. Dramas are usually pretty clear cut and the story and message is here and it all relies on these performances. First of all, the parents are played by Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric. Cameron Diaz has had her ups and downs (also my opinion) in her movie roles however she does capture the overprotective mom very well. She is focused and committed to keep Kate alive, however she also does play the mother who is much stronger that she does seem to have forgotten about her other children. She defends this by saying that she takes care of the family but Kate is the one that is most in need right now. On the other hand, while not exactly rejecting his wife’s choices, Jason Patric plays the father who is much softer. Being a firefighter and the only person still bringing money to the family, he also isn’t home as much but he somehow  notices a little more of Anna’s life and sees her charm just as much as her older daughter however he does neglect his son who in this mess is the one that gets lost in the mix the most. Jason Patric’s role isn’t very big in this and his father role only appears in glances and observations of the situation. Cameron Diaz does deliver quite a believable performance as the mom here that you can dislike for her neglecting the need of both of her daughters or playing favorites with Kate but then in the situation, the question her character brings is: where is the balance? When is the time to let go? Will you ever want to let go of any chance to save your children?

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister’s Keeper came on my radar because of Abigail Breslin. I’ve expressed on multiple occassions how I think she is a brilliant young actress with a ton of potential. As a child actor, she’s done many great performances and as Anna, she is no different. The script writes her character as a young girl who understands what she is asking for and wants to be able to live her life. The stance she brings is that while she was conceived to help her sister, she also has the right to be acknowledged and to be able to live freely and not have to be careful and limit herself. Does that make her selfish for choosing to do that? Should she feel guilt for not helping? Why is she suddenly doing all this? Helping her in this cause is another not very big in terms of screen time but important character nonetheless played by  Alec Baldwin, the attorney that decides to help her because he is saddened by her reports and with a little personal cause that makes him want to fight for Anna’s fight for the freedom of her own body. He helps bring to the table the questions that matter in this family whether everyone has been taken care of. In fact, perhaps this also brings a highlight on the judge in this movie, Joan Cusack who feels like a character that could have been developed more however she brings the angle of someone who has already suffered loss looking into the Fitzgerald family.

My Sister's Keeper

While the family and the whole case of medical emancipation plays a great deal of part here, there is no doubt that the main person in focus is the narration of Kate. The timeline of My Sister’s Keeper hops by and forth quite a bit and the first time watching this, its easy to get lost in it a little. However, Kate, played by Sofia Vassileva is quite a powerful one. Perhaps playing a sick child automatically gives some pity points however we can sense the true despair of her pain as she deals with leukemia and how she can’t express or connect with others even the ones that love her the most. However, she does find someone who sees her for who she needs in Taylor (played by Thomas Dekker), another young patient dealing with cancer who eventually becomes her boyfriend and makes her see the world in a much more colorful way despite it not in reality.

Overall, The Sister’s Keeper is full of decent to powerful performances and that comes in building and developing characters well. However, there are many story lines and tangents here and this is where we lose a little focus as some characters don’t get the development they need and at times the timeline can be a little confusing to follow. But, it does deliver a lot of questions to truly ponder. There is perhaps no right answer to any of this but the true double edged sword in this whole affair is learning when to let go no matter how hard it is. My Sister’s Keeper is a powerful book and did a decent job at adapting it into the movie. The ending particularly as everything comes to light is a bittersweet sort of ending that did make me tear up a little. I like movies that make us question these hard decisions and the right and wrong of any situation to see that there is really no clear cut answer.

Have you seen My  Sister’s Keeper or read the book?