Netflix A-Z: Return to Sender (2015)

Last night, I faced the reality that there is no way I’m going to wrap up this round of Netflix A-Z  without bombarding everyone with posts during the holiday season and that wouldn’t make a difference because all of you will be busy with whatever. However, seeing as it is a personal goal, I’m still going to try my hardest to do as much as I can while getting the blog updated. Funny enough, the struggle is watching the movies and not exactly the writing part.

Next up is R selection! I’ve been eyeing this movie for a while especially since it came out after Gone Girl, I believe. Return to Sender didn’t get a whole lot of praise but I’m willing to give it a go either way. For the record, my Q selection was a movie I had started with Shiloh Fernandez and didn’t end up finishing because I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I didn’t know he is this one but you know what, he was decent in Evil Dead so I’m going to be objective and watch this.

Let’s check it out!

Return to Sender (2015)

Return to Sender

Director: Fouad Mikati

Cast: Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez, Nick Nolte, Camryn Manheim, Alexi Wasser, Rumer Willis

A nurse living in small town goes on a blind date with a man who is not the person he says he is.-IMDB

Can I just say that this movie poster is about the worst because it takes away what the movie wanted to show as a twist finale. Not to mention the tagline there reveals it all also. Based on this, I wonder if we were supposed to know all along that Rosamund Pike’s character, Miranda is not to be messed with. If thats the case, then it wasn’t really apparent. While Return to Sender was trying to show an odd attraction of Miranda to her rapist, William while he is in jail, and it was in some moments apparent of what she might have been plotting, it just seemed like a lacking script or direction to achieve it rather than it being the message. With that said, I can’t say that I enjoyed Return to Sender a lot unfortunately. I believe mostly, the flow of the plot had me not so intrigued because it was not subtle enough as a thriller.

Return to Sender

While the story was hard to really get immersed in, it is hard to fault Rosamund Pike’s performance as Miranda. Miranda is a nurse with a lot of aspirations and heart. Right off the bat, we know that she is really proper in an OCD sort of way. That isn’t a problem although she is a little extreme. Right from the start, it is devastating that Miranda is raped by a stranger that she assumes was a blind date. Cue in the hazards of blind dates perhaps and letting strangers into your home. One of the best performances does go to Rosamund Pike because she emotes really well and probably it is because of that, she shows off who her character can be before the twist even happens.

Return to Sender

On that note, Shiloh Fernandez is pretty good as well in the role of the rapist, William, who gets caught and ends up conversing a good bit of the movie with Miranda. He is incredibly fond of her but also has a twisted personality. With Miranda, he genuinely seems to like her a lot but he lets his impulses take hold of his actions and that is how the rape happened according to his version but as the movie goes along, you can somewhat see that while his personality not with Miranda is rather intense and immensely different, there is a attraction going on between them at least on his part where he is starting to feel like his is being forgiven for his actions and that seems to mean a lot to him. Obviously, from the poster, you already know that Miranda probably doesn’t have the same feeling because she lost a lot with the trauma that happened to her.

Return to Sender

There aren’t a lot of characters in this movie and the last one is Nick Nolte who plays as Miranda’s protective father. He seems oblivious to the true nature of her daughter and is confused with her choices like befriending William who hurt her physically and mentally. Nick Nolte’s character doesn’t play a huge part and somehow I fail to see the purpose of his part other than one event that somehow casts suspicion to Miranda’s darker side. Perhaps, I’m just not catching on to the character study that is going on here for this thriller.

Overall, Return to Sender is slightly lackluster. While the performances are great, the plot itself seems to lack subtlety and just like its poster, reveals the twist before it was meant to be. There is a lot of potential for this to be much more than what was delivered and honestly, I think it might just be that the plot execution got a little lost.

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Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl is my most anticipated movie of 2014.  Its also one of the Top 5 favorite novels (if I had to rank my faves).  My neighborhood Cineplex only had the English version in VIP section so my boyfriend and I went to go check it out on a cheaper day. Its not the genre of movie I’d choose to go see at VIP but I just had to see it.  With a cast that I felt was perfectly casted and a director who is masterful at this sort of thriller, to say that I was excited would be a huge understatement. The only thing was to try to not let my high expectations get the best of me, which was going to be hard.

Lets see if Gone Girl lived up to my expectations, shall we?

Gone GirlDirector: David Fincher

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit

Amy Dunn (Rosamund Pike) mysteriously disappears and suspected to be murdered on her wedding anniversary.  Her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck) comes home shocked to see the mess and calls the police.  As the investigation lead by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) gets further, all suspicion lands on Nick.

Gone Girl is a very unique story.  I remember reading this novel as one of the novels I was so hooked that I read into the late hours of night because I just had to know what was going to happen.  The novel was a one of a kind experience because of the layout of the story and the characters involved and just how it was so twisted.  You can read my full review of the novel HERE.  Whats a good fact to have, if you don’t already know, is that the screenplay is written by the author of the book, Gillian Flynn.  In my opinion, Gillian Flynn is quite the author because she’s written 3 novels and although the first two are not quite as epic as Gone Girl, they still are page turners. Now that I’ve gotten my fan girl moment out of my system. You can all get where my expectations kind of come from.

Gone Girl

The best way to walk into Gone Girl is with as little knowledge as possible.  I wanted to punch the morning radio the day that it was released when they went extremely in depth with the synopsis.  You learn all the twists before it happens.  I didn’t even bother to watch the trailer for this one even though I’ve already read the book.  Too much information would ruin this for you.  Actually, I’m giving you a perspective from both me, as a reader that loves the book and well, a bit from my boyfriend’s perspective who knows absolutely nothing about it but still agreed to go with me. Other than the two guys next to me that kept pulling out their phones and had these flashing lights throughout the movie and was bothering me so much, the movie still was one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen.  David Fincher’s directing teamed with Gillian Flynn’s screenplay put this Gone Girl story effectively on the big screen. I was captured by the movie (despite outside distractions) and how they structured it while my boyfriend, without any knowledge was still thinking about it till last night (which was the last I spoke to him).  Plus, the little changes they made were effective for movie purposes while keeping the most important parts and the message the original story was trying to send. Without diving too much into spoiler territory, the beginning and ending of this movie will make you feel like in a very awkward way that it completes itself but makes you think about the deeper issue because it really gets under your skin.

Gone Girl

One of the most important parts of making Gone Girl succession is casting the right actor and actress to play the roles of Nick and Amy Dunn.  Some may not agree but although, I don’t have a very fond appreciation for Ben Affleck as an actor (although I do love his directing efforts), I saw him fit perfect for the role.  His expressions, the on screen feeling he can pull off was perfect for what Nick needed to be, especially when caught both in the attention of the media and the police under the suspicion of murdering his wife.  The desperation and despair was one that I saw him doing perfectly.  Ben Affleck certainly didn’t disappoint me and as Nick, he was absolutely amazing to watch as the story moved forward and it required a lot of the range that he had as an actor.  The other star of the show is the missing Amy, played by Rosamund Pike. I’ve only ever seen her in Pride and Prejudice and Jack Reacher (and thats the ones I remember her in) but this role was something completely different for her.  I think thats what makes this even more epic is that the cast was chosen for something they don’t usually do and these two characters are so multi-layered but developed so well.  A perfect cast needs phenomenal acting and the rest of the cast does a compelling job from Neil Patrick Harris’s role as Amy’s high school boyfriend to Tyler Perry playing an elite lawyer.  They all have roles that bring something to this entire plot.

Gone Girl

This is possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year and seeing as it has such high expectations on my part and there were outside distractions, the complex story, the smart direction and compelling cast are also matched with a suspenseful score and the tone they set is just so awesome.  Gone Girl is a must-watch for this year whether you’ve read the novel or not.  The changes add to the story and its impact and most of the time, they are so minor but so much more powerful.  I highly recommend this but I also suggest that you go in with as little knowledge as possible or how they set this up.  This is a mind-blowing thriller and thats really all I have to say about this.

Have you seen Gone Girl? Did you read the novel? What do you think of David Fincher? Did you think Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike was made for this role?

Jack Reacher (2012)

For me, Tom Cruise went back on my radar after I saw M:I: Ghost Protocol.  I don’t think I reviewed that here yet but that movie was my turning point into believing that Tom Cruise still had it in him.  My tablet has this movie streaming app and they’ve been dishing out free rental vouchers so thats why you’ll see me posting ridiculous amount of movie reviews, because I can get it for free 🙂 I still have 2 more to go as I write this! The first one I chose was a newer selection, Jack Reacher!

jack reacher posterDirector: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Joseph Sikora, Robert Duvall

On a normal morning, five strangers are shot dead with six shots by a sniper in the opposite parking lot.  The police come in and with all the forensics and evidence, they pinpoint James Barr (Joseph Sikora) to be the obvious suspect.  Only Barr says he’s innocent and asks to Get Jack Reacher.  Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is an ex-military investigator who has become a long-time drifter that has fell off the map.  Before they knew it, Jack Reacher comes to the police department to find them and he sees all the mistakes that the crime scene consists of.  He digs with the help of the District Attorney’s (Richard Jenkins) daughter, Helen (Rosamund Pike) who is a young defense attorney appointed to help Barr.  As more leads are found, the situation becomes more dangerous and he knows that there is more people involved and someone deadly at the end pulling the strings.

jack reacher 1

Jack Reacher is a pretty decent crime thriller.  For the most part, I was really intrigued by the story.  It was a bit predictable even without having read the source material.  In fact, I’ve never read any of Lee Child’s novels before but I saw a part of the “twist” long before it happened.  Even with that, the whole analysis and setup of the elaborate crime under investigation was quite detailed and intriguing and kept me wondering or even doubting my initial suspicions throughout the movie.

jaxk reacher 2

Tom Cruise does a pretty awesome job as Jack Reacher.  He’s a drifter who really has nothing to lose.  He’s agile when he fist fights and he will do whatever it takes to get himself the information he needs. This gives him the advantage over those in the system.  We see that he is very skilled at what he does and that even though his purpose of going there was as agreed with Barr to get rid of him, he still was able to be objective. The character design of Jack Reacher is definitely an impressive one.

jack reacher 4

The main female lead is played by Rosamund Pike as an attorney defending Barr. I loved Rosamund Pike in Pride and Prejudice. She’s so elegant and strong all in one person and she always plays roles that has that style. At least this role was similar also in its own way.  In Jack Reacher, she’s asks for a lot of reasoning especially regarding what Jack Reacher does and whenever he asks her to find certain information.  Their chemistry was good in the way that they worked together but at the same time there were trust issues and some challenging each other as they were trying to figure out the investigation.

jack reacher 3

The only problem with this movie was the ending and the villain: the guy that whipped up this whole thing.  It felt like its like it got tired and went “Okay, its too long. Let’s stop it right here and leave the rest for the audience to fill in the blanks”.  Till that very end, the reasoning behind why the villain did all this left me all full of question marks floating around my head.  Maybe I missed something during the movie since I did watch it bit by bit throughout 24 hours. I just wasn’t satisfied with the ending in general.  To me, it just felt a bit incomplete.

Other than a poorly constructed villain and ending, this is a pretty decent thriller.  The whole setup of the plot leading up to the ending and its outstanding cast led by Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike was great.  Regardless, it is worth a watch, at the very least, you shouldn’t feel like it wasted your time.

Maybe its time to check out Lee Child’s novel and maybe it’ll give me some closure 😉

 What do you think about Tom Cruise? Do you have a favorite role that he’s done? Did you see Jack Reacher? What did you think about it? Did you read the book this was based on?

Valentine’s Marathon: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Pride and Prejudice is the second movie in my Valentine’s marathon. I almost thought I wouldn’t get past it.  By the time, I’m writing this review, I have watched it 3 times in a row. Even after this 3rd time, my hands are itching to play it a 4th time…

pride and prejudiceDirector: Joe Wright

Cast: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfayden, Simon Woods, Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland, Judi Dench

I really don’t know if anyone hasn’t heard of Pride and Prejudice even if you haven’t read the book.  In any instance of doubt and to not leave anyone out, I’m going to give you a little plot. We start with seeing the Bennets who have 5 daughters: Jane (Rosamund Pike), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Kitty (Carey Mulligan), Mary and Lydia .  Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) and Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland) are looking out for the future of their daughters. When Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) arrive in Hertfordshire with his sister, Caroline (Kelly Reilly) and his proud and handsome best friend, Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), Mrs. Bennet takes this opportunity to introduce her daughters to Mr. Bingley to see if one of them could marry to a better family. Mr. Bingley becomes attracted to their eldest beautiful daughter  Jane during the first public dance.  However, the focus of this movie revolves around Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. The best way to describe this would be as my DVD box description says: “When Elizabeth Bennet meets the handsome Mr. Darcy, she believes he is the last man on earth she could ever marry.  But as their lives become intertwined in an unexpected adventure, she finds herself captivated by the very person she swore to loathe for all eternity.”

I don’t even know how to start this review.  How about by saying that I LOVE this movie.  My love just grew even more.  I think its because its because its the first time I’m seeing this movie again after I’ve seen the novel. It is a different adaptation that focuses a lot on the romances. And frankly, I’m a romantic, and I’ve been especially in that whole romantic mood.

First of all, what is absolutely wonderful about this movie is the cast itself.  I love Keira Knightley and she was amazing in her role of being Elizabeth who slowly accepts as her love grows for a man that she swore to hate for eternity as the love and misunderstanding between them started to fade in and fade out respectively.

mr. darcy and elizabethNow, I don’t think Matthew Macfadyen is an amazingly handsome man BUT, he is extremely charming as Mr. Darcy.  His lingering glances at Elizabeth and his lost of words and just the passion that he emits from his uncontrollable love for Elizabeth just reaches out and grabbed me.  I hadn’t felt all giddy about romantic movies in forever and watching this, I felt that way every time there was some witty dialogue exchanged between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth or when he would look at her while she was playing the piano or from a distance or just staring at Elizabeth and not exactly knowing the words to start a conversation. An impressive Mr. Darcy is all I have to say.

pride-and-prejudice-mr. darcy

Aside from that, I love Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet because he was hilarious.  And the last scene with him and Elizabeth, for the first time it gave me tears of joy.  Maybe I’m sappy from the stressful week but my goodness, I had tears of joy and if you’ve seen the movie you probably know the last scene between Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth.

Aside from the charismatic cast, I loved the music and the scenery.  For one, the music was some beautiful classical music.  The main theme is called Dawn which I’ve been trying to learn for the last while and I was hoping to be able to eventually post it up with the review but its not perfect yet so maybe another time.  As for the scenery, if England in general, outside of London, looks like that…I’m about to book my next vacation right now.  It was just so captivating and mesmerizing.

This romance drama movie adaptation just grabs you for an epic romantic ride between love and misunderstanding between two people and the loved ones around them.  In the end, I started cheering for them to get together because of all that they’ve gone through.  It turns in a beautiful, sweet love.  Its everything you can ever dream about for the search for the love of your life with an ending that feels amazing and as they say, you can feel that they are “perfectly, and completely, and incandescently happy”.