Double Feature: Lady Bird (2017) & A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish (2019)


Welcome back to Double Features! Its been a crazy 2 months or so of festival season so double features has been tucked in the back. Its December so also time for the festive films to start. Slim pickings most of the time so this time, we’ll be having a little mix and mash of festive films, Marvel/Disney/Pixar last hurrah before they leave Netflix month in December. The first taste of Christmas films, A Cinderalla Story: Christmas Wish is paired with Lady Bird, a movie that I saw was expiring on Netflix this month as well.

Let’s check it out!

Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird

Director (and writer): Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedge, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Lois Smith, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Odeya Rush, Jordan Rodrigues, Marielle Scott

In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California. – IMDB

I always wonder why I put off watching movies for so long because Lady Bird had been on Netflix for quite a while. Being a huge fan of Saoirse Ronan (and I have a few more of her films to catch up on), there’s something truly fun about this one. I love coming of age films especially with girls and then 2002 was also my graduating year in high school so all the things from posters to style to lingo all became very nostalgic especially with all the feelings of finding the path and future, romance and friends.

Lady Bird, as her character calls herself instead of her given name Christine, tackles all of these things with her somewhat of a drama queen personality and a determination to do whatever she can to get what she wants regardless of the consequences which she will deal with afterwards. She’s a bit of a reckless character without actually realizing that she is in many cases. In the struggle between trying to break free from Sacramento and get to the East coast much to her mother’s disagreement and always being inconsiderate on how much she dislikes her current situation whether the place or constantly thinking that her mother doesn’t like her, its a bit sad to watch this character try to find love and care. Saoirse Ronan takes on this role with so much charisma. There’s this over the top and bizarre sort of character that Lady Bird is that no one else understands who she is and she tries to act very confident about who she is and yet there’s this extremity to her and it starts right off the bat when an argument with her mother in the car results in her plunging out of the moving car. That sets the tone of this mother and daughter relationship right from that moment between these strong characters.

Lady Bird focuses primarily on the family dynamic of Christine and her family especially the mother and daughter relationship and the desire of breaking free from a place to pursue her dreams and wanting to be acknowledged that she can be more than she is and the acceptance and having someone to share those grand dreams. In the process of finding who are her true friends and what the value of love is in her mind (or how little it matters to others). There’s this greatness of how her character is presented that makes those genuine moments even easier to connect with. Everyone on this part of her last year of senior high sets her in the right direction to her future and finding the confidence to be herself and mending or expressing herself .

Lady Bird is a really great movie. All the pieces from performances to the time to the different experiences she goes through and the coming of age moment when she finally embraces who she is is a journey and one that is a mix of drama and comedy that connects really well.

A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish (2019)

A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish

Director (and co-writer): Michelle Johnston

Cast: Laura Marano, Gregg Sulkin, Isabella Gomez, Lilian Doucet-Hope, Johannah Newmarch, Chanelle Peloso, Barclay Hope, Garfield Wilson

Its really hard to believe that A Cinderella Story is a film franchise at this point with this latest film, A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish as its fifth film. While I completely am behind the first one original A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray which is a fun one to watch even now, and can relatively get into its second one with Selena Gomez. Skipped the third one mostly because it wasn’t available and I didn’t want to buy it and then watched the fourth one (review) which was very disappointing and now we get to this one…and I ask myself why I put myself through these things. I didn’t think it could get worse than the last one but it really is.

The performances are completely wooden. The story has nothing new to it and simply predictable. Even the whole evil stepmother and stepsisters were really uninspiring like it didn’t really matter to whoever made this one either. Not to mention, not much of it logically made sense even in how a girl becomes unidentifiable with a pink wig and pointy elf ears and an elf costume and not some kind of special makeup or anything.

Its really hard to get behind this one. I’m trying to find something good about it but I don’t know what to say. It is set during Christmas so the Christmas setting is nice, I guess. These just need to stop (and I don’t say this very often about the worst of franchises).  Maybe the pretty leads and some of their musical numbers (there is one that was okay) could appeal to someone maybe younger than myself. Sometimes, we just outgrow these things I guess.

That’s it for this double feature!
We kick off the Christmas month with a rather lacking movie but hey, its only going to go up from here (probably just jinxed myself). 

Have you seen any of these movies? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Marathon: I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

I love Michelle Pfeiffer (and Meg Ryan) a lot and for those reasons, I always try to work in their movies into my schedule as much as I can. Its absolutely slim pickings on Netflix for these movies but we do have two right now that just popped up again. In the heart of a romantic comedy, I decided to check out I Could Never Be Your Woman. I have never heard of this movie before so I know very little about what to expect or what its all about. Still, its Michelle Pfeiffer and when the film started, there’s a very young Saoirse Ronan as well, so I think this movie is already looking up.

I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

I Could Never Be Your Woman

Director (and writer): Amy Heckerling

Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Saoirse Ronan, Paul Rudd, Stacey Dash, Fred Willard, Jon Lovitz, Tracey Ullman

A mother falls for a younger man while her daughter falls in love for the first time. Mother Nature messes with their fates. – IMDB

I Could Never Be Your Woman is an odd movie. Odd doesn’t mean that it wasn’t entertaining but rather that I can’t quite pinpoint how I feel about it. On one hand, it ticks the typical romantic comedy sort of story and feels a little like a partial Clueless reunion tour with Stacey Dash and Paul Rudd doing the high school things since Amy Heckerling did write and direct this movie. The movie feels like the other side of the camera of Clueless if anything. None of these things are bad things. Clueless is a fun movie and remains that way even if its dialogue and fashion is dated so in some ways, this makes this one feel slightly nostalgic levels. My only issue with it was really some over the top scenes that seem fairly ridiculous and made myself feel kind of embarassed to watching it happen. Maybe that was the film’s intention, who knows, right?

I Could Never be Your Woman

In terms of characters and performances, the cast here does a great job. I mean, we have a winning cast in Michelle Pfeiffer, Paul Rudd and Saoirse Ronan. Its funny to talk about Paul Rudd because over the years, he has done some good stuff but when you ask me what, I only remember very few of it. Here, he delivers on his role and is quite fun to watch, especially when he does all his silly things to make the woman he likes smile. He has some boyish charm that seems to not fade away since his Clueless days. Playing opposite him is Michelle Pfeiffer as Rosie, a divorced mom who is the writer of this high school series with dropping viewership and trying to fight through her feelings against falling for this young guy. In many ways, Michelle Pfeiffer is always great for this role because you can see that she still is beautiful and charming no matter the age difference here. While I think the issue here is that I felt like the characters themselves were decent but as a romantic comedy, it did lack a bit of chemistry. If you were to watch this for its funny moments, well, there is a lot of those.

I could never be your woman

However, my favorite part of this was Saoirse Ronan who debuts in a movie role and it is so obvious how talented she is. She plays as Rosie’s 13 year old daughter, Izzie who is believes she is falling in love with a boy in school and trying to get his attention. She is genuine and believable and so creative. She reminded me deeply of how it was to be in some silly high school crush back in my high school days and going through the phase of making everything feel more significant than it should. Of course, part of the best parts is watching her change the lyrics of two 90s pop songs and its both brilliant and awesome. Izzie is way ahead of her time and in the world of learning about loving this boy, Dylan who seems not worth her time, there are some valuable lessons here, even if its about loving who you are and believing that you are good enough. It was an fun experience to watch Rosie and Izzie’s mother and daughter relationship here as they each go through their first step into love both in different stages of life.

i could never be your woman

Overall, I Could Never Be Your Woman is a fun and silly romantic comedy. It falls a little flat on the romance department but has enough comedic moments to make up for it. Its just some simple harmless fun with a great cast who delivers on their performances, regardless if its Paul Rudd and his boyish charms or Michelle Pfeiffer and her elegant wit and especially the Saoirse Ronan, who proves that she was talented right from her debut role here that she’s made for success. While I can’t quite pinpoint the Mother Nature angle, played by Tracey Ullman, that it started with, it still brought in some nice banter and humor.

Double Feature: Violet & Daisy (2011) & The Gift (2015)

Welcome to another Double Feature!

Before we start, I’d like to apologize if things are and will be sporadic, they probably will still be for the next week. Real life work that pays the bills is taking a front seat right now and I foresee lots of overtime this week. However, if all goes as planned, there should be an unboxing this week some time and probably some reviews or TV Binge. The material is there, its just finding time and energy to write it up.

Today’s double feature is for Violet and Daisy & The Gift. Thrillers and a little odd. Probably The Gift deserves its own post but its a thriller and I don’t want to spoil it so just keeping it to myself although I’m fairly certain at this point, a ton of you have already seen it since a ton of people praised it when it was first released. Anyways, I finally got around to watching it. Violet and Daisy however is way overdue as I watched that on the train to Toronto for ComiCon so its over a month that I’ve seen it at this point.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Violet & Daisy (2011)

violet & daisy

Director (and writer): Geoffrey Fletcher

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel, James Gandolfini, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Danny Trejo

Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan. – IMDB

Violet & Daisy is one odd and quirky movie. The reason for my choosing this movie is completely because I love Alexis Bledel (because of The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants and recently Gilmore Girls) and even more so, Saoirse Ronan who has never disappointed me even if the movie itself is not fascinating. Violet & Daisy may seem disjointed and way too weird for its own good but somehow it works and it has to do with the small but charming cast. Violet & Daisy are young teenage assassins out on a mission. They are each other’s best friends and have each other’s back especially as they fangirl and look forward to the newest fashion line by their favorite designer. It feels like they are everyday teenage girls except when a mission is given, they can also be incredibly brutal and efficient to get rid of their target. Their next mission is sent to kill a man who surprisingly seems like he wants to die and has someone else on his tail. This man who we never learn the name of is played by James Gandolfini and he delivered a wonderful performance as he changes what typically happens in these assassinations situation and in turn, open up Violet & Daisy and as we learn more about his story, we also learn more about Violet and Daisy’s which also puts their friendship or partnership in a dilemma.

Surprises and a pretty clever script gives these characters a lot of life. Even if it is weird and odd at times, there are some great moments and character development here that work really well. Not to mention, some really convincing performances in general. I liked this one a lot.

The Gift (2015)

the gift

Director (and writer): Joel Edgerton

Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman

A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years. – IMDB

The Gift is a tense thriller however, perhaps the best part of it is the way it builds its characters up and fleshes them through with their secrets as the finale unfolds and leaves us cleverly wondering what it all means. The Gift is smart. And yet, because it is best seen with the least amount of knowledge possible, it is very hard to write about.

I can say that The Gift is pretty great. Its a little slow at parts and really dives into building the tension with a lot of quiet moments as we suspect about this suspicious high school friend and re-enters their life and slowly reveals the true nature of these characters and why they are there and how certain things happen for whatever reason. Jason Bateman pulls off a fantastic performance, probably one of my faves. Joel Edgerton does a great role as well.

Its well-planned and executed effectively with some great character development and a finale that will kind of blow your mind and make you think about what it all means.

That’s it for the double feature!
Sorry for the delay!
I’d say to expect this for this week mostly because I don’t have the time I usually would to put these together. 
Things will be back to normal next week!

Have you seen these two movies before?

Netflix A-Z: How I Live Now (2013)

Next up in the Netflix us How I Live Now! I have been meaning to watch this since its release. I am a huge fan of Saoirse Ronan. I have yet to see a movie I dislike of hers. I am hoping to catch Brooklyn soon. With this indie focus on this round, this was the obvious choice.

Lets check it out!

How I Live Now (2013)

How I Live Now

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland, Harley Bird, Anna Chancellor, Danny McEvoy

An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.-IMDB

How I Live Now is a good indie drama. The standout is the attention it takes to build its characters, particularly Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy. Her character is one with a lot of inner conflict and as the world embarks on the brink of World War 3, her control is lost as she finds someone worth her distraction and worth her fight and focus. In comparison, many other characters don’t have as much with the exception of her little cousin, Piper. This aspect of relationships is where it gets a little blurry. What is acceptable, is her love interest her cousin, her mother’s sister’s son? That had me a little confused but quickly pushed it aside.

How I Live Now

The setting of How I Live Now is also quite good. While it takes us in an indie drama and adds in a young adult romance, it is more of a coming of age story for Daisy as she learns what is worth her time and embraces what she wants for herself and how she wants to live. Hence the title. At the beginning, we follow Daisy gain a fondness and break out of her control and focus on whatever it is that fleets through her mind. It is carefree until it isn’t. How I Live Now puts in a fictional situation (because it is World War 3) of living in the times of war that makes it desperate and escalates the danger and obstacles. The war aspect is also treated in extremes especially in various scenes. There is a dramatic take (as it should be) when approaching the effects of war as the country salvages what they can and it never draws out what is actually going on but definitely highlights on turmoil.

How I Live Now

We can however take some of the blurry plotlines as perhaps a lost in translation deal. How I Live Now is adapted from a novel of the same name. While I haven’t read the novel yet, it does beg the question as to whether the scenario itself was half hidden or that some issues were not highlighted, leaving questions like what is the actual relationship between Daisy and her cousins, especially the love of her life Eddie. There are questions as to why the war all started and why there seems a division between the military and perhaps rogue gangs that took advantage of the turmoil. There was a questions as to what happened to Daisy and why she has all those thoughts in her head. There are a lot of questions that could be answered and perhaps if it was all added into an 100 minutes movie, it would make it convoluted. However, there is a part of me that felt like something wasn’t complete at the end. And perhaps that the focus wasn’t built enough for us to care about some of the younger cast in order to feel for them when they were all split apart.

how i live now

Regardless of its minor flaws, How I Live Now is a good independent drama. One that takes a different approach to young love in a brutal near-future setting when the world is collapsing at the brink of war. It is a coming of age story for Saoirse Ronan’s outstanding performance as Daisy as she finds her focus and hope for things that truly matter to her and turn them into a motivation. Its her choice how to live as her world falls apart and slowly comes back together. A very good message portrayed in a pretty effective way with some great performances: How I Live Now is worth a watch, especially if you are like me and adore Saoirse Ronan.

Have you seen How I Live Now?

Next up is I selection! Any guesses?

Netflix A-Z: The Host (2013)

We’re already at H on the Netflix A-Z! Seriously, its gone by really fast! Among all the crazy going on, this is still something that I enjoy and brings me back to that first year I committed to adding in movies as a focus for the blog.  I’m happy to be reconnected with that feeling.  Writing reviews is back to being all sorts of fun again. Honestly, I kind of missed that feeling. Let’s hope it sticks around.  So, H choice goes to The Host. I love Saoirse Ronan but I do not like Stephanie Meyer’s writing and storytelling style so its hard to say how this one will go.  I really don’t know much but the reviews I’ve seen aren’t exactly positive so my expectations are set rather low.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Host (2013)

The Host 2013

Director: Andrew Niccol

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, Chandler Canterbury, William Hurt, J.D. Evermore, Boyd Holbrook

An alien force has invaded the world but they do it through taking over the bodies of the current species.  On Earth, the people are different and they prove that their host is tough to take over.  This is the case with Wanda (Saoirse Ronan) taking over Melissa’s body.  Her soul stays within even though she can’t control what Wanda does.  Melissa tries her best to convince Wanda to not reveal the ones she loves such as her love Jared (Max Irons) and her little brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and while slowly gaining her trust, she also tries to lead her to understand what their invasion has caused to humans. At the same time, her escape from the alien species Seeker’s investigation to find other humans remaining leads one specific Seeker (Diane Kruger) to be hot on her trail. While she gains trust in this new place with the human resistance, her and Melissa eventually bond to become allies who hope to stay alive and try to find a balance to live together physically and emotionally.

The Host

Just so you know, I had to watch The Host two times mostly because I was so drained that I fell asleep in the first viewing for a little and power napped and woke up and watched the ending and for this review to be as complete and fair as possible, I turned it on again and watched it the next night. Plus, that first night, I went into this expecting the worse and I was a little too judgmental, on the second viewing, it wasn’t unbearable.  I personally think Rotten Tomatoes 8% is a little harsh.  I mean I would swap Twilight’s New Moon with this and still it would be a little harsh.

While we are talking harsh, let me tell you where The Host fails.  For one, it has clunky and cheesy dialogue.  At times, the consistency of story falls apart and lacks the continuity it should have.  Its definitely no masterpiece.  And it has all signs of Stephanie Meyer’s conflicted love story and the whole saying I love you but really saying goodbye.  That’s all I remember of Twilight New Moon and its the only movie I intend on seeing in that franchise.  Not to be judgmental but that one had no hold on me.  But The Host is far from perfect but its really the bad dialogue that makes this not to convincing.  Plus, it might not appeal to the mass audience because it focuses more on the relationships and love story and drama than on the actual alien takeover sci-fi portion, making it geared more towards a specific group that enjoys this genre. Plus, there isn’t really a climax to The Host which is hard for it to not drag a little when it has a relatively long run time of 2 hours.

The Host

Now that we got the bad stuff out of the way, The Host isn’t all bad.  The story itself about a parasite alien race makes a good bit of sense and has its pull and creative value that works for me.  I mean if you think too deep about analyzing how it all works, maybe it falls apart a little but, it is a decent conceptual premise.  While we are talking about that, the effects are pretty good and the camera work and the shots are pretty good to look at especially in their little hideout area in the caves.  The whole surviving by your own means was a nice take. On the story front, we aren’t quite looking at love triangle but rather just two separate girls in one body but falling for two different boys but their feelings are distinct as to who each of them like, its just how to divide that love.

The Host

Since I’m at the whole love discussion, what really does lift The Host is that it has a likable cast.  Starting with our main character, Saoirse Ronan plays Wanda but also does the voice of Melanie who keeps constantly voicing in conversations with Wanda throughout the movie.  For one part, that was the issue I had with the character.  I liked Wanda a lot because she, as the alien here showed a certain human value to her while really showing the confusion of being immersed in a new world and discovering feelings and adapting with the new host.  So, for that, I give the script of having two voices a negative because I made me feel a little split personality going on there and it would get bothersome.  Melanie’s character wasn’t particularly appealing so it kind of lifted up who Wanda was and how good she is.  Maybe the contrast was done deliberately.  I have no idea since I didn’t read the source material. However, the likability of Wanda is captured by Saoirse Ronan who takes this bad dialogue and still dives in with the best acting she can do and that shows how potentially great she can be (as she has proved with other movies she’s been in).

The Host

 While we’re not talking about the normal love triangle here, there is still favorites.  In very much the same way as how I prefer Wanda’s character, I also prefer Ian’s character more.  Ian is played by Jake Abel and his character kind of just flips from love to hate in a pretty abrupt way towards Wanda but he is a kind-hearted, truthful and loyal character and that makes him very awesome.  Plus, they just make him out as super adorable and lovable when he starts having the attraction thing going on with Wanda.  On the other hand, Jared, played by Max Irons is in love with Melanie.  I think Max Irons carries his character very well but I didn’t enjoy that character quite as much.  Although, he is also a rather good looking guy.

The Host

I guess, I can’t leave this review without at least touching on the villain here which is The Seeker played by Diane Kruger.  I like Diane Kruger as an actress.  She is competent and above average in what I’ve seen her in before.  However, her role falls into the same trap of just the script failing.  It never adds any intensity even in the moments where there should be danger.  Maybe its the predictability of the script or just how there was no build.

Overall, The Host is harshly judged.  I’m a little half and half on it.  Its definitely more of a guilty pleasure if I wanted to watch this again because I really enjoyed the chemistry unfold between Ian and Wanda’s character and I thought the movie looked really pretty.  Plus, some of the cheesy dialogue was really laugh out loud moments, just like that “Kiss her” scene up there.  I guess in a way, I can feel the chemistry in certain ways because I’m just a super sappy person.  But, this is a perfect proof of how a good conceptual premise without taking the right steps can drag a story down.  It could’ve been better with the cast it had if it chose to follow more on the sci-fi Seeker against Human resistance path but it turned into a teen romance cheesy dialogue script and that killed it in many ways causing it to not have a climactic moment, no danger, no worries and the run time was just too long for its own good without enough plot direction. Still, despite my criticism, I wouldn’t oppose watching this again.

You can judge me but hey, agree to disagree, k? 😉

Have you seen The Host? Are you a fan of Saoirse Ronan?

Next week, we are stepping into the I selection! Any guesses? Hint: Comedy

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

You gotta love Netflix when it has at least ONE Best Picture nomination available.  Not being sarcastic if thats what you are reading.  I’m pretty happy that there’s even one.  Seeing as I’ve been talking about seeing American Sniper and never actually made it to the theatres, maybe this week?

The Grand Budapest Hotel looks a little peculiar and that totally has to do with the fact that this is the first Wes Anderson film I’ll be seeing. Shocked? Don’t be…I still have a lot of movies to watch 😉

Let’s check this Oscar contender out!


grand budapest hotel

Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tom Revolori, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Jeff Goldblum

The adventures of Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa (Tom Revolori), the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.-IMDB

Oh, the adventures Monsieur Gustave has! The Grand Budapest Hotel is a little peculiar to say the least, exactly the impression I got.  The deal with a peculiar movie is that it can either be to your taste or not, or should I say mine.  Although, I have to say that it takes a little time to adapt to and there was always this feeling gnawing at me a little that something was off, it was hard to not be charmed by this movie.  For one, look at the colors and the visuals, just wow.  The whole set was such a joy to watch.  I’m not just talking about The Grand Budapest Hotel itself, but also when him and Zero was on the train, the scenery of the mountains and the whole action plus the costumes.  Every component was thought through with so much detail that it was really hard to ignore.  However, I have to stay true that while it may be a favorite for many, I’m a little half-half on this.  While some 30% of the movie felt a little random and dragged out, the other 70% (mostly the second half) was really fun to watch, adding in bit of humor and just drowning in its own unique style. The atmosphere it sets for itself is definitely one thats artistic and quirkly but somehow still really entertaining.

grand budapest hotel

The cast portraying each of the characters happened to be some of my favorites, let me elaborate a little.  For one, we start off with our narrators and how the recount of Monsieur Gustave H. was introduced during a dinner between an older Zero (who looks nothing like the younger version) and an author played by Jude Law.  This is where I first swoon a little.  Jude Law himself made me intrigued when this movie started.  He’s really just the backdrop of this event and the listener to the story that the elder Zero shares.  Right off the bat, the encounter already shows that this movie is going to be in the whole definition of awkward.

Let me clarify before we move forward that awkward doesn’t bother me, I watch a ton of movies like that and I like them.  What I’m saying is that if not for these characters who made the awkwardness convincingly fun, I would have just closed this 30 minutes in.

grand budapest hotel

Another showstopper is our own Monsieur Gustave. Ralph Fiennes is a fine actor and we see it over and over again.  Sure, he’s not much of a comedian, which begs why he was chosen for this role but in his seriousness, we can laugh at exactly that because the movie itself really isn’t all that serious.  Which also makes this one of Ralph Fiennes best comedic roles surprisingly proving that he can do it.  Ralph is awesome (I’m sure most of us agree) and him as Monsieur Gustave is so much fun but that has to do with the interactions he has and the music they match with the scenes as well. Here’s where I need to talk about young Zero played by Tom Revolori.  I don’t know this guy at all but he made this hilarious expressions.  The relationship and interaction between Monsieur Gustave and Zero was another great aspect.

grand budapest hotel

I personally think that Willem Dafoe is so underrated as an actor.  Has he won anything in his career? He is in a lot of really great roles, at least he has to talent to even make a role in a bad movie work out most of the time (at least what I remember).  As the assassin here, he has this dangerous feeling to him and yet, he plays well with the whole black humor portion.  His boss, being Dmitri, a rich boy played by Adrien Brody just charms my pants off.  I love Adrien Brody so much.  This guy needs to be in more movies (or I just need to search out more of his work).  Whatever it is, as horrible as those two characters are, gosh, they are some awesome bad dudes in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

grand budapest hotel

There’s a huge talented cast here and I can’t possibly go through everyone (which I almost have).  Edward Norton is also in this as the military officer Henckels but his role is relatively small and Jeff Goldblum is the executor of the will (also a smaller role), but my focus right now was seeing Saoirse Ronan *double checks the spelling*.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Saoirse Ronan.  I’ve seen a lot of the movie’s she’s been in and she is just so talented.  Her role may not have been big as Agatha but she sheds this light on the movie that the other darker characters don’t have.  At the same time, it introduces the intricate details of Mendl’s desserts that I kind of wanted to pull out of the screen and taste.  Just to show the attention to detail to this quirky movie.

Overall, I’m not as big of a fan of The Grand Budapest Hotel as others may be, but there is no doubt that the visuals and style steals the show here.  The talented cast also lifts this movie into an incredible territory.  While the story and pacing of the story held me only a part of the time, there is no doubt that I understand why this is a contender for Best Picture.  Its extremely unique and there is a whole wow factor going on here.  Just the second half made me forget about even the little bit of problems I felt in the beginning. Is it a movie I’d revisit? Maybe not often but there is something here that deserves recognition.  I haven’t seen enough of the other choices to make my predictions, maybe as I get a few more movies in this week, I’ll have a clearer idea 🙂

Have you seen The Grand Budapest Hotel? What are your thoughts? Were you impressed with the cast in this? Did you love the whole set and atmosphere?

City of Ember (2008)

One of my absolutely favorite movies.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this but I’m guesstimating that I’m probably at my 4th time watching this movie.  A little adventure fantasy movie as IMDB classifies it.

city of emberDirector: Gil Kenan

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Murray, Toby Jones

This story is about the city of Ember.  Ember was built by the engineers and architects (a.k.a. the Builders) over 200 years ago underground to shield its population away from the destruction above ground that had happened.  They set a box that was set to countdown 200 years and was to be passed from mayor to mayor.  In the line, one of the mayors dropped dead suddenly and the box was tucked away.  The box however keeps counting down and no one knows these plans that the Builders had set.  Fast forward to the present, we are in city of Ember which is lit by many lamps hanging from the cieling.  At a certain age, the children each pick out of a hat what their job for the rest of their life will be supervised by the Mayor (Bill Murray).  We zoom in on Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) who becomes a messenger and Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) who ends up working in the pipeworks.  At the same time, Ember is slowly dying as the generators are now failing and this results in blackouts that last longer and longer.  Doon knows that there has to be a way to fix it and he explores, while Lina also eventually realizes there are problems more serious than those that the Mayor insists on.  They both end up joining forces to save Ember and the people they care about in this underground city.

Why do I love this movie so much? First off, have you ever played Final Fantasy 7? I have, back in my high school years on my crappy PC that allowed me to play it on a window that was about a quarter (if not, an eighth) of the size of my actual computer screen.  If you’ve played that, you’ll realize that this movie starts off and the artwork resembles it so much. I’m not sure if it was inspired by FF7 but it was mesmerizing and beautiful to look at.  Every detail of Ember was so amazing and visually stunning.


What else is important in a movie? The background music was fantastic and it helped build the mood really well.  Plus, we also have to look at the actors and actresses in this one.  I’m a HUGE fan of Saoirse Ronan.  If you need me to jog your memory, she also did Atonement, Hanna and Lovely Bones, which are also very good movies.  She does an incredible job at being Lina Mayfleet, occupation Messenger, a big sister, a caring granddaughter and especially a concerned citizen.  Tim Robbins plays the role of Doon’s father and also the narrator of the movie. I have to give a little special mention to the role of the little girl that plays the younger sister of Lina Mayfleet.  She was super adorable and was absolutely wonderful.


Like any movie, there are imperfections.  There is a part where this time around (probably because of reviewing more movies I noticed) the CGI effects are pretty below average .I don’t want to expose that part because its super intense adventure sequence and contributes to the ending, but I even so, I still found it really fun and intense.

city of ember scene 1

Overall, I love this movie.  Its beautiful to watch, awesome cast matched with captivating music and a brilliant plot.  I personally couldn’t ask for more, fun and adventurous.  When I first saw this, I hadn’t even heard of it but the first second pulled me right in.

Seen this? Didn’t see this? Sounds like something you’d want to see? What did you think? Who is also a fan of Saoirse Ronan? I’m seriously looking forward to her new movie also based on a book about aliens (or something along those lines) called The Host.  I still have to actually check to see if the trailer is out.