Netflix A-Z: Nanny McPhee (2005) & Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

Heading into the second half of the alphabet now, we’re going with a little double feature.  I figured if Netflix offers us the chance to watch a series of movies, I might as well take advantage of it, especially if there is only two 😉  So here we are with Nanny McPhee and its sequel, Nanny McPhee Returns (otherwise called Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang).  I’ve been avoiding this one because it feels like a rip-off of Mary Poppins.  For most of you that know me, I’m a huge Disney fanatic and Mary Poppins is among one of my all-time favorites.  I can watch it over and over and over again, know all the words of all the songs and maybe even the dialogue. So, Nanny McPhee has quite the competition if its anything like that.  Honestly, I don’t know much and they are all assumptions but assuming is not a great thing and I’m trying to not do that.

By the way, its October!! Magical nannies…kind of works, right? I keep thinking Nanny McPhee might be a witch so I guess it works that way 😉

Let’s give this a go! 🙂

Nanny McPhee (2005)

nanny mcphee

Director: Kirk Jones

Cast: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kelly MacDonald, Angela Lansbury, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Imelda Staunton

Cedric Brown has lost his loving wife and now has to make his living and take care of his seven young children.  However, his children are so misbehaved that they have already scared away 17 nannies ever since.  With his Aunt Adelaide who provides him with a monthly allowance to sustain him and his family’s living, she gives him an ultimatum that he either finds himself a wife by the end of the month or she will cut her support.  Its here that Nanny McPhee arrives at his doorstep.  Magically, she offers to teach 5 lessons and her rules are simple: she will stay as long as she is needed but not wanted but when she is wanted but not needed, she has to go.

nanny mcphee

I have to admit that Nanny McPhee is a little odd.  Except, it quickly turns into a charming little movie.  I guess you can’t call a movie little when it has a ton of talented cast from Emma Thompson playing Nanny McPhee to Colin Firth being Cedric Brown and Imelda Staunton being Cook.  Not to mention, Aunt Adelaide being played by Angela Lansbury.  All that talent for this movie with kids that are practically unknown.  Well, they were unknown back then.  Thomas Brodie-Sangster, now 10 years later is rather known especially because of The Maze Runner, Nowhere Boy and before that, it had to be Love Actually. With such a solid cast, Nanny McPhee can’t help but deliver strong performanced across the board.  Plus, Emma Thompson is also responsible for the screenplay.  I’m sure that gives her a little more attachment as the main character and adds a little spark to what she’s doing.

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While Nanny McPhee does have certain features very similar to Mary Poppins plot-wise and at times, feels a little like the cross-over of The Sound of Music with all those children also, it has its own little magic.  It is obvious that this movie is meant for children to teenagers perhaps and the lessons it delivers is great in terms of a family comedy.  Its a ton of fun and reinforces that a family being together means learning together.  Nanny McPhee may seem like she is teaching the children but she is also teaching the father valuable lessons on taking extra care to how he treats his role.  It may seem silly the simple things like going to bed and getting up when told in the beginning but its about discipline and respect, listening and being honest and accepting consequences.  All very relevant to children and grown-ups alike.

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

nanny mcphee returns

Director: Susanna White

Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Asa Butterfield, Rhys Ifans, Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos, Rosie Taylor-Ritson, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor

Isabel is a young mother with three children living on a farm and trying to make ends meet while her husband is away at war.  Secretly having a massive debt at the casino, her brother in law wants to coax her into selling her half of the farm.  Except, she doesn’t want to despite the struggles.  When her sister sends over two cousins because of the war situation getting more serious in the big city, she ends up having to take care of two more children, and extremely spoiled rich brats on top of that.  It is at this moment that Nanny McPhee shows up and offers to help her with teaching 5 lessons (side note: not the same as last time).

nanny mcphee returns

Nanny McPhee Returns is a great addition to this series.  The cast still retains to be incredibly strong.  Emma Thompson comes back as Nanny McPhee and she just does it so perfectly.  Then we have an even younger Asa Butterfield (because he’s still pretty young right now) in the lead boy among the children.  Along with that, mom is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and there’s ever a small role for Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor.  Nanny McPhee definitely returns with the same charm but this time, it adds a lot more goof.  At times, it felt a little ridiculous but for the most part, I was able to not mind it too much.

nanny mcphee returns

The best part, other than the fun characters, is really that learning the 5 lessons the Nanny McPhee has to teach never feels strained.  If anything, this time, the lessons were more straightforward and even more relevant than the last time.  We in the land of courage, bravery, imagination, taking leaps of faith, and more.  Like I said, relevant with what they are dealing with and with a contrast of children from different backgrounds, the learning is even more substantial.

Nanny McPhee Returns is a very fun sequel.  With lots of lovable characters and an outstanding cast even to its supporting and cameo characters.  Its magical and adventurous even between some of the unnecessary goofiness that they add in this time around.

Its a pity that Nanny McPhee only has two movies in this series. It would be a fun one to keep going.  You can always argue that Mary Poppins is better and she is in fact irreplaceable but Nanny McPhee has her own little charm and its just so relevant no matter when you watch it.  Its a ton of family fun and very much worth your time. 🙂

Have you seen either of these Nanny McPhee movies? Any thoughts?

Netflix A-Z heads into a week of Horror before stepping aside for the Halloween Marathon.  
What O horror takes the spot? Any guesses?

Serena (2014)

A week ago, I scored some tickets to go see the advanced screening of Serena.  I really don’t know much about this one other than the fact that its based on a novel and that it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Both of them have my highest respect so although I’m not exactly a fan of drama, I was ready to give this out.  Plus, its free,right? Along with one of my girl friends, we headed over to see it.

Note: My friend is a fantastic movie companion because she helped discuss the movie with me afterwards.

serenaDirector: Susanne Bier

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones, Sean Harris, Sam Reid, Blake Ritson, Ana Ularu

In North Caroline 1929, George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) is trying to build his lumber empire, hoping to expand to Brazil one day.  While away taking care of business, he meets the beautiful Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) where their passion quickly leads them to a flash marriage.  Serena proves to be not only a great wife but also a convincing partner as her beauty matches to her abilities to win herself over the men working in the lumber company. However, her appearance there also has complicated a few relationships.

Oh, Serena, Serena, Serena…. you know how some movies are really bad and you can laugh at it because its so bad.  Like, Sharknado or whatever that doesn’t take themselves seriously.  This one is just really bad.  I’m pretty lenient on movies but let me say this, we had the option to comment as we exited the theatre and the guy responsible asked my friend and she used one word: Painful.  Let me break it down for you a little.

Lets start with the good stuff, ok?

serena

– The location: Smoky mountains, North Carolina, the scenes.  They were all so beautiful.
– Jennifer Lawrence was extremely convincing as Serena.  Her intensity and how she’s equally smart and capable as the men there and her passion fuming a little crazy bitch thing going on.  She was fantastic.
-The rest of the cast: Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans etc. were also really good with each of their roles

serena

Now, what suffered?

The script, my friends.  I was curious and went to check out some comments on the novel Serena before I wrote up this.  I got everything the book seems to want to portray: passion and revenge.  Its there. The pacing is absolutely horrible though.  I looked at my watch at about 30 minutes into the movie and thats because it felt like an hour had gone through and nothing has happened except for a lot of random extremely short sex scenes.  At one particular scene involving a bathtub (highlight if you want to see the spoiler: with Jennifer Lawrence being fingered and sex moans ), I started wondering if I was watching soft porn.  Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at passionate sex scenes (no matter how short they are). I promise you passion is the message they want here and its done too much.

serena

So thats just 30 minutes, right? For a movie called Serena, she wasn’t really present.  She has this invisible presence, I guess. She did cause a lot of the problems because of her being there.  Another dude that gets a little weird: quiet and creepy (like Serena’s character in a way) is Galloway.  He says this really weird line before hell breaks loose and everyone laughs because it was so awkward. 

I don’t want to go all judge-y and mean.  Its not who I am but this movie really wasn’t that great. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper and Rhys Ifans, they acted the hell out of this one with what they had but other than the lovely scenery and their convincing acting, the script isn’t strong at all. The message is in there but I just never was able to get into the story or connect with it and its characters.  Not one of them. It was just slow and boring and since I didn’t connect with anything, the ending just made it even worse.

I’m really chill with movies and I try to find something good about it but this one was like watching meaningless porn, then it tried to put me to sleep when that died off.  There is definitely something going on here and I think as a novel, it probably works a gazillion times better.  In fact, I’m going to pick up a copy of that novel and check it out.  I get what the story is trying to do but some things aren’t meant for the big screen and I have a feeling, this is one of those times.

Have you read the novel Serena? Shed some light on your thoughts of it.

Have you seen Serena and what did you think of it? If you didn’t, did the movie intrigue you?

Three Quick Reviews: Vanity Fair, The Upside of Anger, Gnomeo & Juliet

You know whats great about these quick reviews? Its when you have these movies that can be explained in just simple terms how you feel and you just have to write a paragraph instead of trying to analyze way too much. Anyways, it would be not feasible to write full reviews for everything unless I have everything backlogged and then, I’d just forgot I watched it.

Enough of ramblings, another three quick reviews for stuff I watched outside of recommendations 🙂

VANITY FAIR (2004)

vanity fair poster

Director: Mira Nair

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Romola Garai, James Purefoy, Tony Maudsley, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Vanity Fair is adapted from the novel (which I haven’t read) about Rebecca Sharp (Reese Witherspoon), a girl who is orphaned at a young age and grows up poor and once she leaves the home for girls as governess, she tries to ascend the social ladder.  We follow her through different stages in her life as society tries to pull her back but she always finds a way to climb back up in her own way.

I’m just going short here because this movie was a bit over 2 hours long and I have never watched a movie in 4 parts and I watched this over 3 days (at least).  It just dragged on and on.  If it wasn’t for a rather charming James Purefoy for a bit of the movie and hating that he got married to a very annoying Rebecca Sharp and feeling bad for him, I’d have shut off the movie. Still, I did keep on because I kept hoping it would get better.  Till now, I don’t really know if I’m supposed to feel good or bad for Rebecca Sharp… I guess thats why, I downloaded the novel to my tablet and I’ll read it to know what the actual story really was 😉 Oh, and the girl from Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (review HERE) was in it too!

The Upside of Anger (2005)

the upside of anger poster

Director: Mike Binder

Cast: Kevin Costner, Joan Allen, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood, Erika Christensen, Alicia Witt

The Upside of Anger is about Terry Ann (Joan Allen) whose husband unexpectedly disappears and she is left with her four daughters: Andy (Erika Christensen), Emily (Keri Russell), Hadley (Alicia Witt) and Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood). As much as she should be taking care of her teenage girls, they end up taking care of her instead, as she picks up her pieces and eventually engages into a relationship with an once baseball star and now radio DJ, Denny (Kevin Costner). At the same time, the daughters each have to manage their own lives.

I chose The Upside of Anger because of Kevin Costner and my lack of exposure to his roles.  Other than being slightly lengthy at parts, I felt that The Upside of Anger is definitely one that should be seen by more people.  I don’t know, maybe a lot of people know about it? Do you? Its the first time I’ve heard of it at least and it took me by surprise in a very good way.  As with the title, there are a lot of conflicts and crazy going on but somehow it gets the story flowing and we get a good view on the relationship of Terry  Ann and each of her daughters, different point of views and how she changes and eventually sees things a bit different, a lot was slowly through an outsider’s perspective who was let inside which was Kevin Costner’s character Denny.  The movie starts and ends with the narration of her youngest daughter, nickname Popeye and she recaps the essence very well with this quote:

Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real, though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger, then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm.- The Upside of Anger

GNOMEO & JULIET (2012)

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Director: Kelly Asbury

Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant

I’m sure I don’t need a synopsis for this classic Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet but in a children’s version with garden gnomes.  Forbidden love, family feud, garden gnomes, red versus blue, etc.  You know the story already. Just remember Gnomeo & Juliet is aimed to children and it doesn’t get that bad.  At least I don’t remember it being too hitting adult territory.  With that said, if you sit through this with a fully alert adult brain, I promise you will find a lot of flaws in the story design and the premise itself. I mean, just for starters, how in the world do the owners not know where they left their garden gnomes and not question when they are shifted or don’t look the same?

gnomeo and juliet 1

BUT,  if you can overlook those things and go to being a simple mind, they do have some pretty fun moments and I loved the voices.  I recognized the main voices, especially Michael Caine.  Who doesn’t recognize his because its so awesome. I have to admit that I paused when I saw Jason Statham (WHAT?!?!). That just made this totally out of the world.  I really love the voice work. It made the characters very likeable despite its very predictable and possibly overused storyline.  The characters were very cute and there were some nice moments.  And well, some pretty nostalgic ones too.  I may not have had garden gnomes when I was younger because it wasn’t my dad’s thing but we had those plastic flamingos.  Coincidentally, the plastic flamingo was one of my favorite characters.

Gnomeo & Juliet is an average animation. It aims to please kids more than the parents.  The upside is that it has a talented cast that gives life to each of these characters to make them fun and vibrant.

OVERALL..Out of these three, I’d really say that The Upside of Anger is the best one.  It has a great cast with Joan Allen, Kevin Costner and my personal favorite, Keri Russell (who I almost wrote Felicity).

What has me curious now is: Have you heard of The Upside of Anger before? What is your favorite version of Romeo and Juliet? Have you read Vanity Fair before and is it similar to this movie?

Just a little intermission while I decide which movies from the recommendations list I want to watch! 🙂 Happy Friday!!

The Amazing Spider-man (2012)

After trying multiple times to go see a movie at the theaters, today I finally succeeded to go see The Amazing Spider-man.  It was a debate between 3 movies for me but due to various reasons, this was the final choice.  I wasn’t really sure what I expected from this movie but it was definitely one of the movies I did anticipate starting earlier this year when I had already seen its previews multiple times.  Other than the effects during the preview making this movie very appealing, I did have certain aspects that I wasn’t particularly sure how to feel about.

My biggest issue was Spiderman himself.  Right, right, I’m laughing as I write this.  Technically, if I’m not too sure about the main actor, perhaps it should be something I’d catch at home instead, but then thinking about it deeper, when the Spiderman trilogy started with Tobey Maguire, he was a newbie also.  The same was for Andrew Garfield.  At least I hadn’t seen anything he’s done (or not in a movie I’d recollect much of).  I took a quick research on what he’s done: The Social NetworkNever Let Me GoThe Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, etc.  Okay, I saw Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus but that movie didn’t really make much of a good impression on me, so most days I tend to forget what it was truly about.  I did come back and just finished watching Never Let Me Go (finally gave me the extra push to pick it off my shelf and watch it).  I am down for more of him as Spider-man.  I never read the comics to start with so I’m not sure what Peter Parker is supposed to resemble as the original character in the comics, but I do like this dorky, lost, slightly clumsy act he has but at the same time, learning and growing.  His character development was really done very well and I think that helps in the whole storyline and makes this movie good.

On the line of the cast, Emma Stone was great.  I love her as an actress already and she did this role very good as well.  I’m also a big fan of Sally Field so when I knew she was doing the role of Peter’s aunt, I was overjoyed.  As always, she did a stunning job.  What else can I say about the cast, I liked Martin Sheen as Peter’s uncle.  The last role I say of Rhys Ifans, The Lizard, it was in Pirate Radio/The Boat That Rocked and he did a fantastic job there.  I actually had to search up his filmography to be sure it was him.  I’m not exactly sure what The Lizard was supposed to be like but I saw some pictures online for it but I just find he is the most poorly CGI one in the movie but it wasn’t a big deal for me.  My boyfriend said that in a movie that relies so much on CGI, there’s a point that you can’t really complain so much where there’s just one aspect that didn’t work as well.  I agree with that.

Let me tell you one thing though: I loved the movie.  It was a fun movie that mixed in a bit of humor, wasn’t too serious and the cast was great.  The effects were amazing, and the 3D enhanced the experience quite a bit.  I was thoroughly impressed.   It kept me pretty focused through the whole movie.  There were scenes that had I had expected something to happen and still, despite expecting it, I was still buying into it completely and getting me to feel what I should for the characters.  The storyline was enhanced by decent character development.  Its definitely worth the visit at the theaters, just for the whole 3D experience even.   Just a sidenote, remember to stay for a bit into the credits, there is an ending in between.  Maybe its to work up to a second movie? I don’t know but at this point, I’m in for a second one if it happens.