Double Feature: The Big Sick (2017) & Sinister (2012)

Welcome to the next double feature! Somewhat of a mixed bag for the rest of January double features from what I see. This time, we’re pairing a 2017 romantic comedy The Big Sick with 2012’s Sinister. Both at the time of release did get quite a few good reviews that its been on my to-watch list for a little while.

Let’s check it out!

The Big Sick (2017)

big sick

Director: Michael Showalter

Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings. – IMDB

*originally written for Friday Film Club on Movies and Tea HERE*

Loosely based on the real life relationship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon who also penned the script for this romantic comedy, The Big Sick is something of a breath of fresh air in the whole realm of romantic comedies. It highlights a little of cultural differences that stand between those involved in interethnic relationships. At the same time, it still bundles in a decent amount of soul-searching on behalf of primarily the character of Kumail as the character of Emily does fall into a coma for at least half of the film or something. This also is quite the unusual sort of flow of events as it makes it much more than simply a typical rom-com.There’s a deeper level as these other elements get brought into the picture.

Looking at the cast, there is not much to say about Kumail as someone who plays himself in this somewhat autobiographical flow of events. However, there is quite an impressive little cast here going and the first goes to Zoe Kazan who, while spends most a good part of it in a coma, brings in a very quirky female lead, which shouldn’t be a surprise with the roles that she has played before whether in an indie romance like In Your Eyes or Ruby Sparks. Playing her father Terry is Ray Romano who plays a fairly serious role here despite the story touching in the stand-up comedian main character. Playing the mother is Holly Hunter who takes on quite a strong motherly role who finds a growing bond with Kumail and has a powerful scene where she attacks someone in the audience for making a racial comment.

There’s a lot to love about The Big Sick. A big part of it goes to it feeling genuine and heartfelt. The other part is that the intercultural relationship is a refreshing angle to take with some new themes to explore. If you like a nice romantic comedy, this one definitely fits the bill.

Sinister (2012)

sinister 2012

Director (and co-writer): Scott Derrickson

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley

Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s. – IMDB

Sinister is a decent horror movie. Setting around watching home movies on this old tape projection machine is something that adds a lot of mystery. Plus, the story unfolds in sections. The first part plays out like a mystery thriller and adds in a lot of suspense and finding clues and piecing together the different things of these past murders. The second half goes more into the horror elements and frequently some tropes. It operates a lot of the film in the dark because the main character, other than that one moment where they make an effort to say that they lost electricity randomly, seems to enjoy investigating noises and abnormalities in the dark hallways of their new home. It does create the atmosphere but then, logically, sometimes it doesn’t quite make sense.

Deal is, tropes don’t bother me so much as how well they are executed. Sinister might have some truly unbelievable decision-making especially on the main character Ellison played by Ethan Hawke. Thats not saying that Ethan Hawke isn’t suitable for the role because he does fit quite well in this character. To be fair, the darkness was a bit deliberate but it did manage to deliver some very predictable and oddly effective startles and jump scares. Plus the evil in question here is actually rather creepy from afar. A lot of evil is much better as unclear figures as it leaves space for imagination to run wild. This one does that well partially. The uncovering of the lore behind this evil was done pretty well though especially with its focus on children. There is one scene with the children running around the house in the dark popping up in odd places that was the best scene in the whole film.

Sinister is a decent horror film. It relies on some of the obvious horror tropes and overuses the dark element to create its scares and suspense by blinding the audience. However, it does manage to create quite the evil here and give it a deep enough lore to give it mystery and horror. Is it one to revisit again? Probably not. But is it intriguing enough to watch the sequel? I’d say yes.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

After Hours #2 – In Your Eyes

Its time for the next Movies and Tea Podcast episode as Elwood and I sit down to look at my After Hours pick: In Your Eyes. Its one of my favorite movies ever so it just made sense to pull in some romance (a good one) into the show. Head over to Movies and Tea to check out the episode! If you’ve seen it, also leave us your comments and thoughts on the film. If you enjoyed, give us a follow and hit the like button. It helps us out a lot.

Movies and Tea

Join us for another After Hours special as this time Kim picks out this Joss Wheldon scripted romance with a twist “In Your Eyes” to discuss in which two strangers Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) and Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) discover they share a psychic connection which enables them to see and experience the world through each others bodies.

Come join us in the booth!!

Further Viewing

Flipped
Before We Go
Ruby Sparks
Chocolate (Masters of Horror)

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Valentine’s Marathon: What If (original title: The F Word, 2013)

And we are finally here! The first random movie to kick off the Valentine’s Marathon is a romantic comedy. I have honestly taken a huge break from these the last few years mostly because a lot of them didn’t seem that appealing. However, Daniel Radcliffe post-Harry Potter phase and the lovely Zoe Kazan sounds like a fun time. So here we are!

Lets check it out!

What If (aka The F Word) (2013)

Director: Michael Dowse

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan , Adam Driver, Megan Park, MacKenzie Davis, Rafe Spall

Wallace, who is burned out from a string of failed relationships, forms an instant bond with Chantry, who lives with her longtime boyfriend. Together, they puzzle out what it means if your best friend is also the love of your life. –IMDB

What If is adapted from a play called Toothpastes and  Cigars. Honestly, I’ve never heard of the original source material so obviously, I have nothing to compare to. With that said, the original title of The F Word seems to be more fitting for this story because we do spend a lot of time with Chantry and Wallace as really good friends. But then, I guess What If works on the level like the all time question, “What If  *insert good friend’s name* was my boyfriend or girlfriend?”  The story itself being a romantic comedy and all, is somewhat familiar and if you are looking for some breakthrough unpredictable story, then you probably aren’t looking for that. However, if you are like myself who enjoys a fun little romantic comedy, What If does deliver on it because of its fun and sharp dialogue between the characters which brings me back to something like why I love Gilmore Girls so much along with a lovely chemistry between the two main characters. There are some annoying parts in What If and we’ll talk about that as well. Plus, the setting is in Toronto. I love Toronto and go visit it at least once each year and always have a great time so let’s say I’m slightly biased as well.

what if 2013

With that said, the setting being as charming as it is, the true bright light of What If is its two main characters. Zoe Kazan has caught my eye since I saw her in In Your Eyes (Review) which is probably one of my favorite movies that I watch at least once a year. She’s very natural in her roles and in this one as Chantry, she’s incredibly charming and silly to watch. Its easy to fall in love with her character. Opposite her is Daniel Radcliffe who plays Wallace. I’m going to admit that post Harry-Potter Daniel Radcliffe, there’s only been one film that I saw and that’s The Woman in Black (review). The fact that I’m a decent fan of Harry Potter even if the movie adaptations at times did fall short from the novels themselves, it really is hard to break away that image. However, something about him playing Wallace seems to work quite well here. Maybe its the weirdness he has or just having the right person to act with. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan bring Wallace and Chantry to life especially when paired up with their fun dialogue back and forth with random responses that truly are quite amusing. Most romantic comedies start off with characters that loathe each other and then see another side and then realize they fell in love with each other (most rom com scenarios, there are exceptions, I know), but this one builds them up as really good friends first and I think that is much more realistic.

What If 2013

Adam Driver, aka all you Star Wars fans’ Kylo Ren, was in What If as one of his roles. Putting Star Wars aside and whether you think he’s adequate as Kylo Ren, he plays Allan, the cousin of Chantry and something like a good friend of Wallace. He gives some good and bad advice and has this somewhat of a sleazy goofball sort of expert thing going on here as Wallace is more of a closed and introvert guy who needs a bit of guidance due to his many failed relationships in the past. While some parts worked, I wasn’t a huge fan of the character here. A few of the things felt so over the top that it seemed to break out from the friendship/relationship between Chantry and Wallace that felt quite believable and grounded. I know that a lot of the character of Allan and his girlfriend, Nicole (played by Mackenzie Davis) was meant to be funny however, it felt much less sophisticated that seemed to throw off the balance a little. Like I always say, humor is subjective.

With that said, What If is one of those romantic comedies that I really did enjoy. Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe really give some great performances that cancel out the negative things I felt about the film. A pleasant surprise is always a great way to start a marathon.

Netflix A-Z: In Your Eyes (2014)

Moving along with the Valentine’s movies! The next Netflix selection is going to be a little sci-fi romance called In Your Eyes.  Well, I guess the premise is sci-fi but its really a romance for a good part of it.  I find it funny that this coincided with the fact that I had rewatched Cloverfield for The Random Chat Show and it had the same actor playing the main guy.  I never see Michael Stahl-David in much and suddenly I watch two back to back movies with him in it.  In Your Eyes has been on my mind since it landed on Netflix.  It looks like a really fun story and with Joss Whedon as a writer, it shows great promise.  I lie though because I didn’t know that until the movie started playing and the credits were flashing around the screen (I think), then I started fearing about how things would turn out…

Let’s check it out! 🙂

In Your Eyes (2014)

in-your-eyes-poster

Director: Brin Hill
Writer: Joss Whedon
Cast: Zoe Kazan, Michael Stahl-David, Mark Feuerstein, David Gallagher, Jennifer Grey, Steve Howey, Nikki Reed, Reed Birney, Steve Harris

Two seemingly unconnected souls from different corners of the United States make a telepathic bond that allows them to see, hear and feel the other’s experiences, creating a bond that apparently can’t be broken.-IMDB

 In Your Eyes is a romance with notes of science fiction, mostly because its about a telepathic connection where the two can see and feel each other as well. I’m all for the premise.  It called for fun moments of just how having someone else in your head and not being able to remove that voice and how it becomes a crucial part in your life.  However, its not only about that.  Its about finding yourself when someone else can see and live the life that you are living and see it in a different light.  Its a clever story and one that I found builds on the connection really well especially since the two main characters acted out the scene by themselves.

in your eyes

I did some research on how they filmed it and it was the female lead, Rebecca (played by Zoe Kazan) that filmed her parts first and then the male lead Dylan (played by Michael David-Stahl) would do his part.  While they would be on set together, they were never on the scene together.  Its an interesting concept and seems like a truly challenging task. However, what more could you expect when the script is written by Joss Whedon, right? Originality is a strong suit in his work. The story is special and its one that usually we don’t quite ever think about (at least I haven’t). We’ve seen telepathy and romance and voices but combining the fact that there’s this mysterious phenomenon that two people never really know that they are connected since they were young (but we do) until later on in their life when they truly need each other.  They don’t only connect, they can see and feel everything around them.  That just takes it to another level and one that I love so much. While its about a connection being built between Rebecca and Dylan, there is an undeniable romance going on in the background but I thought the idea that they saw more out of each other was the key here and sending a message that others can see what our judgemental selves don’t usually see.

in your eyes

What makes it amazing in this one other than the story itself is the chemistry between Dylan and Rebecca.  Michael David-Stahl and Zoe Kazan are fantastic in their roles capturing the wounded selves they are and just what has lead them to where they are.  Finding each other kind of saves them because they bring a new hope even though its not right next to each other physically.  It feels like there’s a statement somewhere here about how knowing someone is there is much stronger than a person physically being there.  Knowing how this was filmed after watching it makes me feel that they both are excellent actors and deserve much more opportunities. On a side note, there’s a minor supporting roles with Nikki Reed and Jennifer Grey.  They had rather simple roles but helped move the story along a little also.

in your eyes

Overall, there isn’t much to say about In Your Eyes! It was a great premise and a beautiful storyline acted out with a fantastic chemistry between Michael David-Stahl and Zoe Kazan playing Dylan and Rebecca respectively.  Its not all about romance but more the connection of having someone with you and the message it sends is one that deserves some thought.  On top of that, there are a ton of great moments in this one and one that just blew my mind. From the contrast in their life and how they relate to each other, and even just watching how the world reacts to them in public when they are in their world looking like they are talking to thin air, it even shows how the outside opinion from people around is really influential but at times also very fun. This isn’t a conclusion anymore if I continue.  Point is, I love this movie. Its been a while that I’ve seen a modern day  romance that truly blew my mind and just made me fall in love with the characters. Its an amazing feeling! 🙂

Have you seen In Your Eyes? What did you think about it?

We have one more Netflix A-Z movie in this Valentine’s Marathon for letter J! Any guesses?