Valentine’s Marathon: Before We Go (2014)

If you missed the announcement on My Weekly Adventures, I’ve decided to extend the Valentine’s Marathon throughout this month. For one, Twilight being the feature is already going to be watched throughout this month. With the blogathon overlapping Valentine’s Marathon, its slowing down my normal posts so to highlight all the fantastic entries we’ve gotten. I’ve honestly been slacking on watching romances and rom-coms in general so I do have a lot of stacked up to be watched so its a good time to work on that.

With that said, the next movie is one I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while and Chris Evans’ directorial debut called Before We Go. Its had pretty mixed reviews but I remain hopeful based on a few elements that I know about.

Let’s check out Before We Go!

Before We Go (2014)

Before We Go

Director: Chris Evans

Cast: Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Emma Fitzgerald, John Cullum, Mark Kassen

Two strangers stuck in Manhattan for the night grow into each other’s most trusted confidants when an evening of unexpected adventure forces them to confront their fears and take control of their lives. – IMDB

As I was looking through how other people felt about Before We Go, I don’t quite understand why it has such low ratings, particularly on Rotten Tomatoes (which isn’t surprising since I rarely feel that similar to what they think, I’m odd that way, I suppose). With that said, Before We Go has a lot of great elements going for it but it does stumble a little on everything. It does have a decent run time on its side and the mesmerizing New York landscape along with a one night run through town. It is nowhere near the fun and joy that Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist has since it is a more mature type of story and some might even wonder whether it would be considered a romance as its not exactly a romance between these two strangers so much as they are working through their feelings about a little bit of everything. I’m a sucker for one night, chance meetings sort of stories. I love the spontaneity and the discovery and the character development elements and it feels like a journey to learn about someone else as you see the two characters grow. I also love movies with a small cast so that it really gets a chance to zoom into the people element. So, Before We Go had a lot of elements that I liked before I even started watching it. It may not have entirely delivered as I would have liked however, it still has its charm.

before we go

Before We Go is quite a small film. It is set in one location, over one night and focuses on two people. Usually, these movies depend highly on the characters and how the actors take on the roles. In this case, I have a bit of pros and cons. For one, Chris Evans is fantastic as Nick. He is very enlightening as he works through his feelings and faces destiny and how his connection with Brooke (played by Alice Eve) grows throughout this spontaneous meeting as they hunt down her purse and he tries to at least be her hero in what he feels is a somewhat unsuccessful life. There is a ton to love about the character of Nick, both in the way he thinks and the way he acts. His script is really charming to watch and mixes in some lighter dialogue which truly does help a lot with making him a really great character to love. Playing opposite him is Alice Eve, who plays Brooke. I have to be honest that I wasn’t a huge fan of Brooke to begin with. She packed on these personality traits that didn’t quite click with me and it was what make the start of the movie feel a little bit contrived. I understand that the entire situation here is set to be contrived however, it felt much  more deliberate especially for her character. Over the course of Before We Go, Brooke does get quite the character development and turns out to be much more tolerable. In fact, she might seem lost and confused in where she stands in her love life and the decision she has to make at the beginning but in the end, Brooke seems to learn a little more. Perhaps, the better way is that, maybe this is where the realistic elements are where they do meet each other and there is some skepticism and some simple good deeds element but as the night goes on, their chemistry also builds up as their connection strengthens as they learn more about each other and talk to each other about their own little dilemmas that they need to resolve. And that really does work out here.

Before We Go

The one night adventure journey also has a decent pacing. On one hand, it all starts with trying to chase down Brooke’s stolen purse with Nick’s New Yorker schemes and knowledge. Then it turns into the hunt for a way to get her home. They end up with quite a few dicey situations: both bad and good calls from both the characters. They meet some friends and strangers who also end up lending them a hand here and there to better understand their own situation. The pacing here is nice because the script slices in these dilemma heavier moments to some funnier moments when they do have their many situations that occur. Perhaps one of the best parts of the film are when they sit down or walk around just the two of them as they talk. We learn about these characters just as they do and surprisingly, they feel fairly realistic. I mean, in a real life situation, probably  we won’t start spilling our relationship problems to a stranger completely, but as a movie, somehow it still manages to keep it real because they don’t just spill everything in the first scene and it takes time for their trust to set in.

Before We Go

There’s not a whole lot to talk about for Before We Go. Its a very simple movie, set in one night, one city, two people and a few supporting characters. There are adventures and situations and heart to heart chats. The movie relies heavily on its two main characters. Chris Evans, probably because he is also the director, grasps his role incredibly well. Alice Eve, on the other hand, left a little to desire in the beginning but does truly see the character grow throughout. There are some odd dialogue and some things that don’t quite feel right in the beginning but once you get past that part, the story and Nick and Brooke’s city adventure is thoughtful and fun. It might not be as deep or even thinking harder about it, work completely, but for myself, its a nice simple movie thats fun. I’m a sucker for these sorts of movies with these kinds of premise so maybe that is why I found it intriguing in its own way. Let me just say that the ending though..not sure how I feel about it. Before We Go definitely isn’t for everybody but if you are like me and like movies with this kind of premise (Already  Tomorrow in Hong Kong is another example), then you might want to check this one out.

When Harry Met Sally…(1989)

Back midyear in 2013, I wanted to do a Meg Ryan marathon so I bought a bunch of Meg Ryan movies as they went on special, but it turns out, Meg has a bunch of movies and buying them all would be murderous to my wallet.  So, they sat there waiting for this marathon to swing around and as I searched for New Year’s movies, When Harry Met Sally popped up and I decided it was time to ignore the marathon and just watch it!

when harry met sally posterDirector: Rob Reiner

Cast: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby

Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) have known each other under circumstances of moving to New York City at the same time.  However, they didn’t hit it off right away.  As the years went on, their friendship grew as their life situations and relationships changed.  However, no matter their connection, they both believed that sex would get in the way of their friendship and fear to proceed further and decides to ignore any romantic feelings.  Will they be able to push it away or will they eventually give in to it?

Its my first time watching this.  I know, I know, where have I been, right? I’m sure most of you already know the synopsis of When Harry Met Sally.  For starters, this movie is supposed to be pretty successful seeing as Rob Reiner is also the mastermind behind The Princess Bride and that one is an absolute classic as well.  Of course, this doesn’t reach that level, but I’d say that When Harry Met Sally has a really nice charm to it.  And that ending scene is just awesome.  I never thought I’d say this, but I think Billy Crystal just got categorized as dreamy, but I’ll only say it for this movie and that particular scene.

when harry met sally together

When Harry Met Sally is a pretty intelligent romantic comedy that is full of wit.  Its fun to watch and although I’m not totally on board with Billy  Crystal in romantic comedies (except for the ending dialogue), I’d say that Meg Ryan really does fantastic.  Its not because I love her that I say that.  She just is a pretty lovable and at times, hilariously nit-picky person as Sally Albright.  Plus, the vibe and the friendship that they have is pretty awesome.  The most hilarious and outrageous scene is the restaurant scene when she’s trying to prove a point that women can fake orgasms.  I never imagined her to do that.  That part was worth the movie (among so many parts), haha! Awkward but I was toppling over in laughter 🙂

when harry met sally moans

For a movie that held just two people in 80% of the entire flick, I have to say that its was a pretty good movie since I held my attention the whole way.  I loved the story and just how its about old friends and developing relationships.  Its about people who grow and learn and then fall in love.  Plus, they insert these little stories from older couples unrelated to the story but maybe a bit related to the segment and part in Harry and Sally’s life that happens.

Overall, I really enjoyed it.  Its not one of my favorite romantic comedies but I’d definitely watch this when I need a pick me up.  Its fun, romantic and witty.  The chemistry between Billy Crystal’s Harry and Meg Ryan’s Sally is fantastic.  Its done really well.  A nice way to start off my 2013 and definitely one I’d probably watch for next year’s New Year’s Eve.

By the way, thinking about it? Where did Billy Crystal go? Hmm…I do like him especially when he used to host the Oscars eons ago (he did, right? I’m not confusing him for someone else?). Did you like When Harry Met Sally?

Book Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

How many of you have seen the movie Hugo? Hugo is based in the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret from Brian Selznick and that was probably one of the best reading experiences I have had. Wonderstruck is Brian Selznick’s second book using the same concept of storytelling alternating with illustrations and words.

wonderstuck cover

Wonderstuck is the story of two children Rose and Ben who both end up going on a journey to seek out what they feel is missing in their lives. Set 50 years apart, Rose seeks to find an actress after seeing a headline news while Ben search for his father and a place to belong after finding a clue in his old house after his mother’s passing.  This leads them both to travel alone to the big city of New York City and perhaps look for something different that could change their lives.

While The Invention of Hugo Cabret was one flowing story throughout between the illustrations and the written story, Wonderstruck uses a parallel between the two stories even though its separated 50 years apart.  Ben’s story is written out while Rose is shown in pictures.  The drawings remain captivating as always and makes the story extra vivid and mysterious at the same time.  Ben’s story is more narrative and we trace his discovery of who his possible father is and that he needs to find a sense of belonging (same as Rose).

What I love about this style is that it gives the readers a certain vision of what the author sees as he writes this story.  We get the idea of what is going on and the imagery.  As simple as the black and white illustrations are, he leads us on an almost step by step journey through what the character is going through.  At the same time, the words flow almost the same way.  When not in drawing, we get to read everything the Ben sees and feels and this helps pull us closer.  I was drawn to the book itself as soon as I got used to the concept of the book and followed the pace.

Whats also great is that as much as this is a children’s book and it makes this a quick read.  The most impressive part of this book is the emotions that it can make you feel between the words and the pictures.  I always feel that if adults were to read this with kids, it would be a fantastic experience for both.  Its often about family, friendships and a little bit of destiny and fate all mixed together for the course of events to happen.  It always seems to strike at discovering the place that you belong or just simply the sense of belonging.

Wonderstruck is a great reading experience for both children and adults and one that shouldn’t be missed out 🙂

 

Book Review: The Great Gatsby and Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I first bought this book in anticipation for the movie release earlier this summer.  However, I didn’t end up seeing it.  I will eventually though, because I can actually see Leonardo DiCaprio doing the role of Gatsby.  So, this book I bought was on special with short stories after the main feature, The Great Gatsby.

the great gatsby and other storiesThe Great Gatsy is about the world of post war New York City through the eyes of our narrator Nick Carraway, who has moved next door to the popular and well-known but with lots of mystery background story Jay Gatsby.  Nick also attempts to re-enter into the world of his sister Daisy and her husband Tom and is set up with the acquaintance of tennis player Jordan Baker.  The story revolves around his re-adapting to this world of wild parties and understanding those he cares and loves through their relationships and love affairs (and more) plus the notion of how things are treated by different people around him, as he learns the lessons of life and reality.

Honestly, The Great Gatsby is not completely for me.  I found the flow a bit weird and there was times I either lost my focus or just didn’t get what was going on and had to go back and re-read the whole page to get an idea. The general idea of the story was pretty good though.  Nick Carraway reminded me a bit of a lost boy, not unlike The Perks of Being a Wallflower ‘s Charlie, where he saw the world in a very different light as to what it was.  He wasn’t ever sure about what was the right course of action and he would think a lot or not speak up enough, even when he felt something wasn’t completely right.  He observed more than he acted.  Gatsby was a bit more interesting as his appearance wasn’t always there and we would listen to more rumors than actual facts right off the bat.  Then, when we get his true motivations for his actions, we get a better idea of where this story is going. Plus, the era its set in really brings out the glamour of the everything going on.

I think some time down the road, I will read this again and get a better understanding.  What this novel has going is that its short and straight to the point, even though the writing style is different from what I’m used to, I think its still worth a read. 🙂

Onto the short stories!

I’m going to spare you all a synopsis of all the stories but it included the following titles: Absolution, Love in the Night, At Your Age, Family in the Wind, Three Hours Between Planes, The Lees of Happiness, The Camel’s Back, Financing Finnegan, Design in Plaster, What a Handsome Pair!

All the short stories have this twist or at times, bittersweet or open endings.  I think I might have enjoyed some of the short stories more than the actual feature.  My favorite ones would have to be Love in the Night, Three Hours Between Planes, The Lees of Happiness and honorable mention to What a Handsome Pair! This last one, I have a bit of mixed feelings towards how the story was but still quite enjoyable!

Overall, The Great Gatsby is still a novel worth reading.  The characters are fantastic and its a quick, direct and engaging read.  Although the style of writing didn’t appeal to me as much as others, it was still quite entertaining.  The additional short stories were pretty fun to read.

Have you read some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s other works? Any that you would recommend to me?

A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Garden

I love gardens. I have this huge adoration of taking pictures of flowers.  In most of my travels and even just around Montreal, I love to go to gardens.

Here we are with a bundle of gardens that I’ve been to.  Anything that has flowers or vegetation of some sort in an enclosed space large or small is a garden to me. From to the lavender fields in the Quebec’s Eastern Townships…

Blue Lavender

Blue Lavender

or overseas in Nan Lian Gardens…

Nan Lian Garden

Nan Lian Garden

and Hong Kong Park.

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park

Heading back into the West Coast with the gorgeous Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

And then, back home to Montreal based Botanical Gardens taken during the Lantern Festival with the Japanese Pavillion Evening Route

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Zen Garden

Zen Garden

and finally ending with an  pumpkin carved garden for Pumpkin Inferno at Upper Canada Village.

Pumpkin Inferno Garden

Pumpkin Inferno Garden

I’ve posted about the Lantern Festival and Pumpkin Inferno last year so I linked it in case you’d like to check out those posts.

I just couldn’t decide which photos to focus on but all of these created some pretty beautiful “garden” moments for me and some pretty sweet memories.  Thank you to Sue for landing on this word in her dictionary for this week! Flipping through my pictures to select them for this challenge was so much fun and I’m just saying, she’s absolutely awesome! If you are interested in joining her challenge or checking out her entries and/or other entries, you can click HERE!

Which gardens that you’ve been to do you like the most? Where was it? I’d love to hear about it!

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

In the beginning of 2012, I had set myself a few goals which I called New Year’s Resolutions.  I’ve talked about this in a previous post but now, let me show you month by month, what’s worth remembering, also giving me a look at what makes up my 2012 and appreciate it all over again with all of you!

JANUARY

Chinese New Year’s celebration marking the beginning of the Year of the Dragon was the main focus.

We celebrate it with the normal traditions.  Its to wish everyone a prosperous and happy new year with banners of wishes.  We decorate with flowers to signify life.  These yellow ones have the name of “String of Gold” to wish for fortune and Lilies translates to togetherness.  My mom always makes a lot of food and she is the absolute best at it.  Here you see the Turnip Cake , however she also makes Taro Cake, which are both for meals and are not sweet as what you’d expect in a cake.  This year she tried out Sweet Potato cake and it turned out very delicious.

FEBRUARY

One Ottawa trip with friends led me to a small discovery in the most unexpected place: A perfume box for a line called Amazing Grace.  The philosophy quote they had was this: “how you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain, and, so it is with life, which for many of us becomes one big gigantic test followed by one gigantic lesson….  Its how you accept winning and losing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light.”

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MARCH

The 4th anniversary with my boyfriend, my 26th birthday celebrated with friends.

APRIL

I went on Toronto road trip during Easter with one of my best travel companions and best high school friend.  We go to explore every time and this year, it was to the Toronto Zoo, where we saw a cute baby polar bear and his mother next door.  We also had awesome Chinese food, to us the best at Asian Legend. At the end of the month, my boyfriend took me to see Beauty and the Beast Broadway and we both had lots of fun however, there were no pictures.

MAY

My boyfriend and I have a growing love of hiking and exploring new places.  We finally made it on Victoria Day (Canada holiday in May) to go to visit Ausable Chasm in New York.  A quick one day trip that was really fun.  We found amazing scenery, beautiful walk and if you’re into video games, even found an area that was like the one in Uncharted and took funny photos.

JUNE

This marked my friends and I bringing in Summer with crazy amount of activities.  A lot of first time and some long time revisiting activities.  First time experienced doing the Tree Adventure, which I fell in love with.  Although I was screaming at the top of my lungs when I did my first zip-lining.  Note that I am VERY scared of heights.  Also, went to the beach with friends (hadn’t done that since 2007 in Taiwan) so it was super fun.

JULY

Fun times yet again with friends: went to Train Concert, went a water park and did lots of water slides, went to a friend’s wedding, won my first and second Dragonboat medals and the best of all was vacation to Saguenay with my boyfriend and hiking up to sit at the foot of a gigantic waterfalls. Wait one more thing, I had a stare down with a wolverine at the zoo also.

AUGUST

The best part was one of my greatest friends who lives in NYC visiting me in Montreal with her friend.  Its always fun to make new friends.  We all merged into a Star Wars Identity at the Star Wars exhibit. We visited the Biodome and saw a baby lynx, a very rare sight as Canadian Lynx are endangered species. I also went with my best friend to celebrate her birthday seeing an awesome broadway show, Wicked! ONE MORE THING: as a Star Wars Identity, Dreams, I rejected the offer to join the Dark Side!

And if you missed my full description of the Star Wars Exhibit and my Star Wars Identity, you can visit it HERE!

 

SEPTEMBER

This year we managed to successfully complete the St-Bruno lakes trail and saw a chipmunk and had a wonderful walk.  Its more of a crowded trail so it was hard to get a moment but I took my boyfriend helped me take my first levitation photo.  Very fun stuff!

P1150874

OCTOBER

Halloween and this blog got me back into watching horror movies, giving me many many sleepless nights. I also visited Lantern Festival and the Japanese Garden at Botanical Gardens.  Then took another night to drive up to Upper Canada Village to see Pumpkin Inferno.  By the end of the month, I transformed myself into Alice from Resident Evil based on her Apocalypse look for Halloween.

NOVEMBER

This was possibly the BIGGEST month of the year.  I spent my two weeks vacation in Hong Kong and met up with lots of fantastic friends and family.  Spent a lot of time with my grandmothers and saw a lot of wonderful things.  I came back and gave a last minute week long effort writing like crazy and won the NaNoWriMo.

DECEMBER

Christmas with family and friend, the biggest winter storm in Montreal since forever, I have no pictures but helping with surprises always make me happy as well.

Its been a fantastic year in 2012. I’ve had great moments with family and friends, experienced new things, conquered some fears and had so much fun on the blogosphere.  Some bloggers here I’m happy to call my friends and some have given me the most unexpected gifts on Christmas and New Year’s.  Not to mention all those comments and likes.  All your support has been incredibly important to me and means everything to me.

Lets welcome 2013 and I promise you that I’ll step up my game! I’ll have a few posts coming up within today and tomorrow updating everyone.

Have a awesome weekend everyone!

Christmas Marathon ends with Elf (2003)

In line with this, you can call me by my elf name- Cookie Plum-Pants.  Nice to meet you all.  I’m sure I can’t make any toys by the thousand at Santa’s workshop so I will result to testing for defective Jack in the Boxes and eating lots of candy. You can check out how to get your elf name HERE.  Lets start the last review in my Christmas Marathon!

ElfELF (2003)

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen

Buddy (Will Ferrell) was raised in the North Pole at Santa’s workshop, mostly by Papa Elf.  After knowing that he is actually human, the reason why he can’t perform the elf responsibilities as well as the other elves, he learns that his father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan) is in New York City. He sets out to find his father and tell him about his existence and try to get him off the naughty list.  His habits are not the same as a big bustling city and he doesn’t understand the human ways. His ways leads to some humorous turnouts but also he searches for his true self in a city that has forgotten what Christmas spirit is.

This Christmas flick is always the finale of my Christmas marathon, mostly because its a really awesome movie and its one of my boyfriend’s favorites.  Its funny in a really silly way. I don’t usually buy a lot of that humor but for this, it manages to get quite a lot of laughs.  The more I see it, the more I enjoy it.  Will Ferrell is one of those actors whose humor isn’t always my type of humor, however, in this one, his role as a human raised in an elf world and adapting back to his own life really was amazing.  He did a fantastic job at it.  Humor is a very subjective aspect, what works for one person may not work for another, plus this one does it in a very nice family comedy.  Plus, it has one of my favorite actresses: Zooey Deschanel.  She’s just a sweetheart and when she sings “Baby, Its Cold Outside” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, its just so awesome.

Similar to Polar Express, its circled around Christmas spirit.  The concept of believing is the focus: If you believe, you don’t necessarily have to see it.  Christmas is getting very commercialized and I feel that more and more every year, so to me, this movie touches a very important aspect.  Family, humor, music and altogether Christmas spirit: just a great mix for a Christmas flick.

Sorry for the late review.  I got right to it after I had a moment.  Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas celebration with family and friends.