Day 3 Writing Challenge: Write a review

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Cast:  This romantic comedy has a talented cast of actors who bring forth a fun and light hearted story of fate and romance. Kate Beckinsale plays a quirky British woman named Sara who is obsessed with fate and timing which she believes brings one to their own destiny. John Cusack is Jonathan who lives in New York City who believes in living in the moment and not so much in “signs”. During the course of the movie, Jonathan starts seeing “signs” which leads him to believe Sara clearly is the one for him. Jeremy Piven plays Jonathan’s bestfriend Dean who compliments Jonathan’s character and adds plenty of humor and sarcasm throughout the movie. Molly Shannon is Eve who plays Sara’s bestfriend. In the movie, Sara gives Jonathan her phone number which he writes on a piece of paper (only for it to be blown away by a gust of wind) then later writes her name inside a book for Jonathan to stalk every book store in the city to find out her full name and phone number. Jonathan learns that sometimes true love does not come right away, but sometimes years later. This movie explores the idea of not settling for convenient love, but to instead follow your heart and wait for the love that you truly deserve.

Basic movie facts: The restaurant Serendipity really does exist in New York City and so does the table where the two characters famously sat known as the “Star Table”. The drinks Sara and Jonathan drink is also on the menu as the “Frozen Hot Chocolate”. This movie came out October 15, 2001 a month after September 11, 2001. As a result of the tragedy, the Twin Towers were digitally removed from the movie in regards to any shots of the city. John Cusack played two different characters in different movies where he points out the constellation Cassiopeia to his love interests. John Corbett (Lars who is Sara’s fiancée) and Bridget Moynahan (Jonathan’s fiancée) both play the jilted lovers in the show “Sex in the City” who were dumped so that their fiancees could be with each other.

Pros: Life is rich with symbolisms and this cute little movie only amplifies it in regards to finding your destiny. This movies carries interesting symbolisms such as the little boy dressed up as the devil who prevented the two characters from being together. What this movie does so well is show you that you just have to allow fate to play out itself, which is sometimes hard for those of us who would rather just push the “instant” button to be with our soul mates immediately whether we know them or not. Patience is a virtue even if it does take the two main characters several years to reunite once again, but as destiny would have it, both of them become like fine wine with the timing being perfect when they eventually meet and the “stars align” for them.

Cons: None.

Music score:  Alan Silvestri was the composer for this movie and much like Lars (John Corbett), Alan also traveled around with his band in his early years. Alan also composed music for one of my favorite movies from the 1980’s “Romancing the Stone”. Other well known movies Alan put his musical touch to were movies like “Back to the Future”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Forrest Gump”, “Contact”, “Cast Away” and a Grammy for Best Song Written for Motion Picture from the movie “Polar Express” called “Believe”. Alan has a superior way of translating the mood and theme for each of his movies and the song “Believe” has a special place in my heart.

Favorite quote:
Eve:Oh my god! Prada! Ooh! Prada! I love this stuff!

Sara:Eve, that’s a horrific fake! At least my knockoff says ‘Prada,’ your’s says ‘Prado!’

Eve:Well, I say for a dollar I can buy a magic marker and fix it. I’ll take it!

Dean: (He wrote an obiturary for his friend Jonathan)
Jonathan Trager, prominent television producer for ESPN, died last night from complications of losing his soul mate and his fiancée. He was 35 years old. Soft-spoken and obsessive, Trager never looked the part of a hopeless romantic. But, in the final days of his life, he revealed an unknown side of his psyche. This hidden quasi-Jungian persona surfaced during the Agatha Christie-like pursuit of his long reputed soul mate, a woman whom he only spent a few precious hours with. Sadly, the protracted search ended late Saturday night in complete and utter failure. Yet even in certain defeat, the courageous Trager clung to the belief that life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences. Uh-uh. But rather, it’s a tapestry of events that culminate in an exquisite, sublime plan. Asked about the loss of his dear friend, Dean Kansky, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and executive editor of the New York Times, described Jonathan as a changed man in the last days of his life. “Things were clearer for him,” Kansky noted. Ultimately Jonathan concluded that if we are to live life in harmony with the universe, we must all possess a powerful faith in what the ancients used to call “fatum”, what we currently refer to as destiny.

Relatability: Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I too have often asked myself, “Wait, where is he? What is he doing? What’s the closest we’ve been from each other? Why? What? WHEN?! For people who have met or seen each other, the undeniable attraction and timing to be together again is a another beast on its own way and perhaps very complex in allowing the two to reunite again. I personally have never spent a few hours with a complete stranger, had such an amazing time only to never hear from them again. I have never met a stranger that lead me to want to search him to meet him again. Nope. Never experienced that. Even if I did, I would not let them go like Sara and allow fate to bring us together. I sure as heck would give them my number, Skype ID and get their full name before we said our goodbyes. I do have a bad habit (albeit it’s gotten better over the years) of leaving my scarf, umbrella or sunglasses somewhere. Overall, this is a very cute movie to watch even if it is predictable. If you are an Amazon Prime member like myself, this movie is playing for free right now. I’m not sure how long it will be on the free list, but you should check it out!

I Hate Valentine’s Day (2009) Movie Review

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Cast: Nia Vardalos as Genevieve Gernier and John Corbett as Greg Gatlin. Yes, there were many other characters, but the website I went to only had these two names.

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Pros: For romantic comedies, I’ve always enjoyed watching couples who have starred together in other movies (Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks). This is one of them. Nia Vardalos and John Corbett have an easy going and natural chemistry onscreen that makes you laugh and relate to them without any effort. The story is fun, light hearted, funny and the characters have a great comedic timing (which is essential in any romantic comedies). Comedic timing not only in physical aspects, but in dialogue takes practice and necessary for the scene to work. The fact that this movie takes place in New York City (Brooklyn) around a flower shop is right up my alley. In fact, any movie that takes place near a flower shop or book store has my attention immediately. The audio is clear throughout the movie which is always a plus. Other than those mentioned above, this was a great movie to watch.

Cons: I did not notice any cons with this movie.

Cinematography: Brian Pryzpek was the Director of Photography. Simple pans and colorful elements were positively structured throughout the movie.

Music score: The music score of different artists were nicely sewn into scenes without taking away from the characters important dialogue. The usual and quick melody to make a scene funnier was nicely put. I call these quick melodies “tip toe music” because of the simple note sounds.

Favorite quotes:

Sorry, I didn’t read your instruction manual.”

You act like you live in the opening credits of some French film, you control everything so it doesn’t turn into something real.”

I like French films.”

Well, they’re not real, just like you!”

Audience reaction: I laughed several times the first time I saw this a few months ago. I quickly rewatched it tonight and still laughed. A good, simple and light hearted movie for any romantic at heart movie viewer.

Relatebility: I think most girls in their life time go through a phase where they think they are unstoppable and in control of their emotions at all times. No man can break their heart or sweep them off their feet. Until that one special guy comes along and breaks even the most stubborn bachelorette. The girl then thinks, “What? What is happening? I’m not in control of my emotions anymore! This is insanity!” So, they either fight it or just melt like butter under the guy’s spell. Like I said earlier, this is a cute movie and despite the title of the movie, a sweet movie to watch with your sweetheart today. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Miss Austen Regrets (2008) Movie Review

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**Ladies, this movie is so beautiful! It is filled with elegant and romantic thoughts that any hopeless romantic would appreciate.**

Cast: Samuel Roukin, Olivia Williams, Greta Scacchi, Imogen Poots, Phyllida Law, Pip Torres, Harry Gostelow, Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Goodman-Hill, Adrian Edmondson, Sylvie Herbert, Jack Huston, Jason Watkins and Sally Tatum.

Pros: For a movie that’s about one of the most read romance authors in the world, you would need excellent dialogue that could match Miss Austen’s books. This movie did just that. I was highly impressed by the countless quotes, sentimental narrations by Miss Austen throughout the movie as well as feeling as though you became part of her family. Can I just officially say that I think Olivia Williams who played Jane Austen is one of my favorite actresses now? Olivia is the first actress I’ve seen portray her, so any other movie with another actress playing Jane Austen will have to measure up to Olivia’s spectacular acting. I’m a huge fan of botanical gardens (especially English gardens) and the one featured in this movie is incredibly alluring and beautiful. One can only imagine getting married on one. The costumes are perfect and you can tell the props department took great care in detail of every little thing that was a close up to the camera. Throughout the movie, you hear Jane’s narration of her thoughts, which I might add, are just as eloquent in speech as they are written down describing a character. I absolutely and totally fell in love with this movie. I think refined English stirs up the mind like no other, at least for me.

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(Olivia Williams)

Imogen Poots, who played Fanny (Jane Austen’s niece) was superb too in her portrayal of a naïve, romantic, eager to please her Aunt kind of girl. Imogen’s beautiful eyes and smile displayed perfect timing with what she was saying and hearing from others who spoke to her. Possibly the prettiest natural beauty of an actress since Grace Kelly.

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(Love her necklace! Where can I get one just like it?)

Cons: The title of the movie is a bit misleading, but it does touch upon people asking Jane if she ever regretted not marrying someone whom she did not love. Miss Austen did love someone very much, but he ended up marrying someone else for her money and social status. Other than that, this movie is flawless.

Cinematography: David Katznelson was Director of Photography for this movie. David has 46 credits to his name, some of whom he shot for “Game of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey”. The entire movie felt like a painting where all the characters within the picture came to life. There were scenes where the stills were just like paintings. I was impressed! There were some great depth and dimension angles that he played with when a character was by him/herself in a scene. I liked the maze scene with Fanny and John Plumptre because it was somewhat of a metaphor without any words spoken that only attributed to what the entire movie was about. This movie was well made by David Katznelson.

Music score: Jennie Muskett produced the moving music score. I appreciate great piano music, especially when it has a haunting sound like the score called “After Dinner Speeches”. I feel like I have heard it somewhere. The song “Courtship” is pretty too, but also very sad to me because it intertwines such hope and love in it, but at the same time it has a bit of depressing undertones mixed in there. “Desire” was composed with such tender thought, you can almost feel yourself being carried away by inner and hidden feelings you thought were gone. “Beyond Reach” is depressing. This song was played when Jane saw the man she longed for show interest in someone else. By this time, she had made up her mind about him and that was that. Nothing is worse than seeing someone you like blatantly show interest to another girl as you sit there and try to have fun with him. This song reflected Jane’s mood perfectly. Amazing music scores from a movie. I will be adding several songs of Jennie into my little ipod for inspiration when I begin oil painting once again.

Favorite quote: In my opinion, the entire movie was one huge quote. There were so many quotes within this marvelous movie, it was hard to just pick one. However, I did choose ones which stood out in my mind.

I’ve loved and lost. Pined and yearned.” – Jane Austen telling her niece, Fanny, a secret.

I am mistress of all that I survey.”- Jane Austen when she discovered she was all alone in the house.

She’s having more fun than me and it’s my house!” – Fanny jealous of watching Aunt Jane dance while she couldn’t.

I never weep over anything that might make me some money.” Jane Austin explaining to her weeping sister after reading an excerpt from her latest book.

A sort of wonderful creature on two legs, something between a man and an angel.”- Jane Austen being Jane Austen as she admires the man who capture her heart from afar.

How hard it is to find words to express one’s deepest feelings.” John Plumptre’s awkward attempt to propose to Fanny. (I think)

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Audience reaction: I fell in love with this movie. The entire time I was captivated by what I was hearing and what I saw. As a person who loves art, music, poems, botanical gardens and love, I was in my element.

Relatability: Initially I wanted to watch this movie for another reason, but as the story began to unfold, I knew I was being pulled into an Alice in Wonderland mind maze of a complex yet strong woman who was reliving her past through her favorite niece, Fanny. I don’t read romance novels at all because I prefer to live them out instead of just reading about them. This movie was not a romance movie at all. This movie was more about reflections of an author and I appreciated that. I never knew much about Jane Austen, but I found her quite fascinating after watching this film. For someone who believed in principal, Jane Austen knew what she was sacrificing when she turned down a marriage proposal. Back in the day, a woman’s worth was shown by whom she married and how much money the man had. Many women married for money and status and not for love. I think deep down, she wished the man she loved married for true love and stood strong on principal instead of what society wanted or expected of him.

Usually I relate to the male characters of movies I review, but in this one I was in for quite a surprise. I related to not only Jane, but to Fanny as well. I kept going back and forth with whom I felt more connected to. At the end, I connected more to Fanny. I still believe in romance and never will be bitter about it. I think you can always carry with you a piece of innocent, wide eyed view of love and romance if you allow yourself to. I don’t believe in regrets. The only regret I have is that I wished I had seen this movie earlier because it’s so good! If you can, there are 8 parts on YouTube if you want to see it online. Just type in “Miss Austen Regrets” and you’ll see a channel that shows the entire movie.

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Life is a maze of complex feelings, undiscovered thoughts and dreams. One must carry on the hope and faith that it will all make sense at the end and that it will be beautiful because it was always your destiny to begin with“. -JavaGirl

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Video Credit: JustFilmNL

Gravity (2013) Movie Review

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Cast: Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone), George Clooney (Matt Kowalski), Ed Harris as Mission Control (voice), Orto Ignatiussen as Aningaaq (voice),Paul Sharma as Shariff (voice), Amy Warren as the Explorer Captain (voice).

Basic movie facts: It took 4 years for Gravity to be produced. The entire movie was animated beforehand before it was digitally enhanced. For Sandra Bullock to have the effect onscreen of floating around in space, she was hooked up to 12 carbon thin wires that were attached to a carbon fiber copy of some of her main body parts. These wires obviously were not seen in the movie. The same puppeteers from the movie “War Horse” were used in this movie to specifically move Sandra around for the long scene shots inside the spacecraft. The original name for this movie was “Space Adventure in 3D”. I like the sound of “Gravity” much more. Simple and right to the point. I would have named it “Disoriented”.

Pros: The cinematography of this movie was out of this world! Pun intended. Earth never looked so beautiful from space and the feeling of peace and quiet from so far away was lovely. The opening scenes with Clooney’s character floating around the spacecraft in a free spirited and humorous manner and Sandra’s character all serious and tight, gave the audience a very clear picture of how they would be acting for the rest of the film. I thought Clooney’s character was going to be annoying, but he was actually tolerable in this one. I liked the fact that his character played a vital role in giving Ryan (Sandra) hope and humor to keep her going. I saw the entire psychology of what he was trying to do with her to prepare her to keep strong. I honestly think he knew he wasn’t going to make it after he roped her in and asked her about her life down on earth. He “knew” when he said, “I’ve got good news and bad news.” My absolute favorite part of the entire movie was a small role played by a major player in one of my favorite movies, ever. “The Right Stuff” starred Ed Harris as astronaut John Glenn. That movie holds a very, very special place in my heart and the reason why I love jet airplanes, astronomy and space to this day. Anyways, hearing Ed Harris’s voice in the movie provided the movie with a special connection to “The Right Stuff”.

Cons: As a former Para-Professional (that’s what they call EMTs, Lifeguards etc), one of the first things they tell you when facing danger or a circumstance where you would start hyper-ventilating is to remain calm and breathe through your nose so you can get the maximum oxygen to your brain, hence giving you a better function of thinking clearly. Why Ryan (Sandra) was hyper-ventilating in space knowing she was using up her oxygen faster than I can eat Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, is beyond me. I was surprised she lasted that long with how much she was panting. The wig! Don’t even get me started on her wig. As soon as I saw her short hair, I knew exactly why and it was painfully obvious to me. The hair was really rigid. Also, those tear drops you see her crying. You can’t cry in space! Tear drops attach themselves to your face, even if you sobbed and cried several teaspoons of tears, they will remain on your eyes or slide over to your other eye. The dialogue was ok, I think there could have been more eloquency with it though for such a masterpiece of a movie.

Cinematography: I tip my hat to Emmanuel Lubezki who was Director of Photography in this movie. Mr. Lubezki’s eye popping way of showcasing peace, chaos, terror, sadness and loneliness in space was a masterpiece and absolutely incredible. Kramer Morganthau is still my favorite cinematographer though. Emmanuel even filmed one of my favorite movies, “The BirdCage” starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. I’m still in awe with the technology they used to film this movie, it’s definitely one of a kind. I think Emmanuel was perfect for this kind of movie and the scenes it required.

Music score: Steven Price (II) produced the score for this movie. The music was nicely composed and fit well with the scenes.

Favorite quote:
Ryan: “Thank you.”

Audience reaction: Adventure Boy and I saw this in 3D this past weekend. The theater was pretty full and the audience appeared captivated for most of the movie. The 3D effects had me dodge here and there a little bit whenever the satellite debris would come flying around. There is nothing more terrifying then knowing that all those things would be coming at me again after several minutes of orbiting the earth. I kept thinking, “Hurry up, all that debris is going to come back again and I’ll have to suffer from jerking back and forth with the 3D effects of debris flying into me!”

Relatability: (Spoiler alert) Ever since I was a wee child in Brazil, I was always fascinated by astronomy. I made up my mind to become an astronaut and declared it to my mom from 1st Grade until 8th grade until I discovered I was scared of heights. Nevertheless, I kept that dream alive and read everything I possibly could about life as an astronaut and the constellations. I will never cease looking up at the sky at night and being awed by how small we are in this universe, yet so important to our earth. I’m fascinated by Physics and seeing how it played out in this movie was enough to keep me interested.

There was similarities between this movie and “Life of Pi” with the characters and dialogue. As a parent, I could relate to the love she had for her only child. As most of the movies I review, I easily related more to the male character (Clooney) who was optimistic and carefree. I liked how the movie had him be her emotional support system when he was alive and after he passed away. The part where Clooney’s character is sitting with her in the spacecraft, I knew it wasn’t really him. I knew she must have been dreaming and that it wasn’t him coming back to her. That part of the movie was predictable. I did like how he came to her mind at a crucial moment in the movie so she could use that last energy left inside of her emotionally and physically to head back to earth. It made me think if I have anyone who is my constant life cheerleader who keeps me pumped up when I want to give up. There were only two times this entire year when I just though I didn’t want to blog anymore for a few months, but I kept on going anyways. One of the reasons why was because of the new subscribers I kept on getting. Those new subscribers saved me from walking away from blogging for a few months. Also, it was myself who kept telling myself to just keep on typing. And I have. And I will.

**BONUS MOVIE POSTER**
Taking it back retro style!

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Photo credit: Cinema Blend.com

ALIEN (1979) Movie Review

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Cast: Tom Skerritt as “Dallas”, Sigourney Weaver as “Ripley”, Veronica Cartwright as “Lambert”. Harry Dean Stanton as “Brett”, John Hurt as “Kane”, Ian Holm as “Ash”, Yaphet Kotto as “Parker”, Bolaji Badejo as thee one and only “Alien” and Helen Horton as the spaceship called “Mother” (voice).

Basic movie facts: Did you know the whole idea of the Alien laying its eggs in the chest cavity of humans was inspired by ichneumon wasps? Ichneumon wasps carefully put their eggs inside of beetle larvae or caterpillars only to see the eggs hatch similar to the one shown in this movie. The script writers, O’Bannon and Shusett, made sure some of the main characters had “unisex” names which allowed casting easy, albeit the character “Ripley” originally was supposed to be played by a male. The front part of Alien was developed from a cast of a human skull. Bolaji Badejo, who played “Alien”, hails from Nigeria (specifically from the Yoruba tribe) and is 7’2″ feet tall! One of the golden nuggets about this movie is that the cast did not know the exact details of the birth of the alien extracting itself from the chest cavity. The reactions displayed are real at that moment. Simulations of the spaceship taking off with the actors inside sitting in their seats were done by crew members who had to physically move each actor’s seat back and forth. The only way to make Jonesy, the cat, stand in fear of the Alien during a scene, was to bring in a German Shepard. The cat was not afraid of the alien, just the dog. Ridley Scott made sure the audience never got a full frontal face view of the alien as he believe it would lessen the horror effect of the Alien. Which sounds more menacing? “Star Beast” or “Alien”. Star Beast was the original movie title for Alien. So glad they went with the latter. Star Beast sounds like a villain from the village of My Little Pony. The spaceship’s name was changed three times. The original name was “Snark” which to me sounds like a spaceship with major attitude. Lastly, the face hugger props had a hard time getting through customs because they were so grotesque.

Pros: I enjoyed the lack of music score in several scenes. This clever move of not using a score only heightened my already paranoid tension of something jumping out at me. Movies shot in the late 70’s and early 80’s have a character of their own and I enjoyed the grit feeling of this movie. There weren’t a lot of digital effects, so the feeling was authentic and organic. I found more suspense in this movie than the Predator movies which had more action (I’m an action girl), which isn’t a bad thing. Just when I thought the Alien had gone away, there was a twist and the Alien returned. I like twists and turns in movies. It was fun to be introduced to Jones, the cat, who had 30000 lives due to never being killed by the Alien during the entire movie. I enjoyed the hypersleep chambers, very Avatarish.

Cons: After the alien hatched from the chest, it ran away from camera view; I could have sworn it was Beaker from The Muppets making a quick cameo. I found it hilarious and Adventure Boy and I laughed nonstop for a good 2 minutes. That quick scene was too fake in our eyes, but it made for good entertainment. Other than that, I didn’t find too much to complain about.

Cinematography: Director of Photography was Derek Vanlint. He also filmed X-Men and The Spreading Ground. There were several long angle shots and slow movements of the camera to add to the creepiness of the film. Overall, it was good filming.

Music score: Jerry Goldsmith produced the music score for Alien and has an astonishing resume of 129 scores or conduction towards his musical talents. Jerry’s score would feed one’s imagination of something or someone tiptoeing through some dark chamber using oboes and clarinets. The score was decent and imaginative.

Favorite quote:
[Ripley has tried in vain to disengage the Nostromo’s self-destruct]

Ripley: Mother! I’ve turned the cooling unit back on. Mother!

Mother: The ship will automatically destruct in “T” minus five minutes.

Ripley: You… B***H!

[smashes computer monitor with flamethrower]
Quote provided by IMDb

Audience reaction: Adventure Boy and I watched this together and had many laughs throughout the movie. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the movie and Adventure Boy couldn’t wait to see the next one in the series. My own hands were my face huggers. I had to see some scenes between my hands that were plastered against my face. It made the movie all too real for me. Just kidding.

Relatability: There is no way I could relate to this movie.

**You can read Adventure Boy’s Kid Movie Review here of : Alien vs Predator (2004) Movie Review by a kid!**

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Movie Review

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Cast: Dev Patel (Jamal Malik), Madhur Mittal (Salim), Freida Pinto (Latika), Ankur Vikal (Maman), Mahesh Manjrekar (Javed), Anil Kapoor (Prem Kumar) and Irrfan Khan (police inspector).

Basic movie facts: Anil Kapoor who played the fictional tv host of the Indian version “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was once a guest on the real show similar to the one in the film and won a great amount of money. Dev Patel got the part due to the director’s daughter recommending Patel after seeing him in the British show “Skins”. This was Freida’s first film as an actress as she was a model before being cast as the female lead. Frieda’s yellow scarf was specially made just for her and there is no other like it. Initially, the director Danny Boyle did not want to do the film, but changed his mind once he found out the screenwriter for the film also wrote for one of Boyle’s favorite movie “The Full Monty” (Simon Beaufoy). Simon Beaufoy, the screenwriter, interviewed street children in India to learn more about their ways and behavior to implement it as realistic as possible into the film. This film won 8 Oscars.

Pros: As I have seen many Indian films, I was thrilled to see one of my favorite Indian actors, Irrfan Khan (the police inspector) in this film! I was impressed by the complexities of the timeline, as this film would do flashbacks in accordance to the question being asked at that moment during the tv show. The dialogue was well written and the storyline was interesting enough to keep me captivated from one scene to another. The tv show questions were easy enough for me to answer correctly, albeit, I did not know the answer for the 3rd to the last question. I thought the casting of Ankur Vikal as Maman was brilliant. Ankur has this angelic face that can suddenly turn so evil in seconds. His smile is beautiful, yet insanely poisonous once his eyes turn malice-definitely one of my favorite characters in the entire movie. I’m also a fan of the directorial talents of Loveleen Tandan as I have also seen a few of her other movies she’s directed. I was happy to finally see a Bollywood dance that Indian movies are known for at the end. I’m so used to watching Indian movies where everyone breaks out in dance and song in random parts of the film, that I was wondering when this particular scene would happen to make it legit.

Cons: There were a few parts in the movie which were predictable such as the scene where the tv host “tells” Jamal which answer to give for the final question. I knew immediately what was to follow. Some scenes were filmed a bit too quick for my eyes to keep up, but I suppose it was done on purpose to keep pace with the storyline. The scene with the boy and what they did to his eyes was not easy to watch. This scene bothered me a lot more than I expected and still haunts me to this day. My naiveness was exposed due to this cruelty that still exists in parts of the world. I love children, so illustrating a child getting hurt in a film in that manner really affected me more than I expected.

Cinematography: Director of Photography was Anthony Dod Mantle from Oxford, England. Anthony is also known for filming two episodes of “Wallander” and currently working on a new film called “In The Heart of the Sea”. I noticed a lot of reflection of light from above in many scenes, which was nice for dramatic effects. Sometimes the main characters in the background would be “framed” by the unfocused people or objects in front of them until the characters would eventually come towards the camera and lose the unfocused frame. I thought this was clever as the main characters were indeed inside a bubble of their lives surrounded by evil encounters and the general bustle of life in India. If the main characters were to be constantly in focus and filling the main screen of the movie at all times, it would lose all effect in what the storyline was trying to convey. The end scene was perfect where it just had the two main characters with each other and there was nothing “framing” them which allowed the viewer to have the full impact of what that scene finally meant to the both of them. Freedom.

Music score: A.R. Rahman produced the musical score for this film. I have had the English version of “Jai ho” on my ipod for a few years now, but it was great to finally hear the song in its original language. Rahman mixed Western sounds with a twist of techno, fine orchestra and vibrant vocals for most of the scores. Music from India has some of the romantic song lyrics I have ever heard and this comes from watching numerous Indian films. The lyrics of “Dreams on Fire” is sweet. The humming version of the song is called “Latika’s Theme”. “Liquid Dance” and “Ringa Ringa” are two of my favorite songs from the film.

Favorite quote:
Jamal: I knew you’d be watching.
Latika: I thought we would meet only in death.
Jamal: This is our destiny.
Latika: Kiss me.

Audience reaction: Two thumbs up!

Relatability: It was suggested for me to watch this film, so I had to comply, of course. I had heard of this movie many years ago, but for some reason or another, I never got a chance to watch it. All I knew about it was that it had to do with a game show. That was it. Nothing else. Which was perfect, because sometimes I like going into a movie knowing absolutely nothing about it and having an open mind. The only thing I could relate to in this film was of the street children. In Brazil, we would meet many of them and visit the organization that would help them out. One day, we were walking and we would see these 12 year old boys sniffing glue and approach us with glazed and bloodshot eyes asking for money. They were so high, it was sad to see, but this was their way of life. The organization in my city in Brazil would help these children get off the street and get them help. It was interesting to hear their stories of life on the streets and their hopes and dreams. In Rio, when I was 12 years old, my mom and I were surrounded by some street boys who wanted to steal our watches and money. They didn’t take much, but they are smart in how they work together as a team in robbing people. Many of them would wear 2 t-shirts when they robbed people. Once they ran off with the money, they would take the first shirt off exposing a different color underneath as not to be identified by the eye-witness of the robbed. Is this movie worth watching? Yes, and that is my final answer.

The ScapeGoat (2012)

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Cast: Matthew Rhys plays two characters named John Standing (a school teacher) and Johnny Spence (an aristocrat) who have identical faces, but opposites set of minds. Let’s just say it’s the battle of the Yin and the Yang with this movie. Alice Orr-Ewing played Johnny’s neglected, eager to please wife, Francis. Sheridan Smith plays Johnny’s sister-in-law, Nina, who was secretly having an affair with Johnny. Andrew Scott played a character named Paul who is Johnny’s brother and the husband of the cheating wife, Nina. I’m sure dinner was always a fun time with this  family. Anyways, Jodhi May played Blanche, Johnny’s sister, who he seemed to have a constant battle with regarding family business.  Eileen Atkins, played the matriarch named Lady Spence who always had something clever to say to her son and still had that bit of fight within her even thought the movie made her look like she was about to take her last breath at any moments notice. Eloise Webb played “Piglet” or should I say, Mary Lou, Johnny’s very precocious and charming daughter who threatened to jump out of a window within 50 seconds if her “dad” did not run upstairs to kiss her goodnight. One of the funnier scenes, if I do say so myself. Sylvie Testud, played a sweet French single mother/artist named Bela. I was a little shocked John, who was pretending to be Johnny, slept with her, but it proves useful I guess later on in the movie, believe it or not.

Basic movie facts: This British movie was based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier which was written in 1957. The differences between this movie and the novel was that it takes place in the United Kingdom instead of France and the ending is very different from the novel. In a nutshell, John and Johnny meet and chat over how much they look alike. Johnny takes this opportunity to trick John into switching lives so that Johnny’s more sinister plans can unfold. This movie shows what a mess John has walked into, pretending to be someone he is not, but at the same time seeing the mess and wanting to fix it. A movie likes this leaves you captivated and anxious to see what happens next. This is not a boring film, believe me! I have low tolerance for boring films, but this one kept me at the edge of my seat. I really liked the ending too.

Pros: I’m always noticing camera angles and focusing dimensions when it comes to one actor playing two characters. There is a scene where Johnny and John are sitting at a table drinking coffee and the camera lens focuses from Johnny to John in the background. I thought this was very clever of the director as to keep you remembering and focusing on two very different characters, even though you know it is only one actor playing the two; it makes it truly seem like two different people sitting at the table. Matthew did an amazing job portraying both characters that you do forget it is actually him for a bit. The facial expressions between the two men are noticeable enough for you to know who is who towards the end. The cinematography was beautifully shot and very gentle with subdued hues and tones throughout the movie. This movie is not deep nor does it seem complicated to understand; it was simple with a twist of fantasy and humor. I admire how Matthew played John, who appeared utterly confused at his new surroundings, staff and family. This living situation changed him giving him a sense of family he never had before (instant wife and daughter) and a chance to renew a family that was falling apart. Is it me or do most British men seem nervous when they play some leading characters? All I kept thinking was how much Matthew Rhys reminded me of Hugh Grant in how nervous he acted at times. It was quite charming. So charming I wanted to watch “Notting Hill” again, a favorite movie of mine.

Cons: I couldn’t find much in regards of what I didn’t like about this movie. If I was forced to choose something at this moment, it would be that I didn’t like the slight haze throughout the movie. Other than that, I liked everything about this movie.

Music score: The music was beautiful in this movie, but I could not find much about it when I researched it. What a shame.

Favorite quote: There is a scene where John says to Bela, “I’m not sure where home is anymore.” Bela responds by saying, “Don’t worry. You will.”

Audience reaction: None. I watched this at home.

Relatability: I’ve always been told I look like somebody. I’ve had random strangers at the mall come up and hug me and start speaking Spanish.  After my initial shock of being mobbed by well intentioned strangers, I try to explain that I do not speak Spanish and I am not who they think I am. The most shocking and frightening experience I had with a Doppelganger was when I went out on a date with this guy and he whipped out this picture of his ex-girlfriend. Never in my life had I seen someone who looked exactly like me. It was so weird that my heart started beating faster because it took me by surprise. He later told me she had been deported back to her country because she overstayed her Visa. This made me furious because it dawned on me of why he asked me out on a date to begin with. I know I don’t have a twin and this person was not Brazilian, but it was incredibly strange to see an identical smile and face on a photograph with a person I didn’t know. What if the ICE were just driving around and they happened to see me and think that I (mistaking me for the other girl) had snuck back into the country and they threw me back on the plane to some foreign country? I shudder at the thought. Luckily, I have my passport and everything else to prove I am legal and a bona fide citizen of this country. What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever met your clone or twin? What if you did and you switched lives?

Chocolat- A Movie Review

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Cast Members: In the movie, Chocolat, we have the beautiful, lovely and very talented Juliette Binoche who plays Vianne. Vianne is a traveler along with her daughter who comes into town and changes the town for the better despite her “unorthodox” ways.  I think she was the perfect person to play this part as she exudes grace and love just by smiling and the way she looks and treats people.  Johnny Depp plays the free spirited “River Rat” Roux. I liked Johnny in this film because he wasn’t the main character as the poster of the movie depicts him to be, but more of a minor part that somehow becomes the major reason why Vianne makes her final decision at the end. Lena Olin (who also happens to be the wife of the director of movie) plays Josephine. Josephine is a battered wife of a café owner who morphs into a beautiful and strong woman by the end of the movie. Judi Dench makes quite a presence playing a grandmother named, Armande, with a lot of issues going on not only physically, but emotionally.  Remember her name because you’ll see it later towards the end of the movie in a poignant scene. There is something so regal and stunning about her acting. She did a fantastic job! Alfred Molina plays Comte De Reynaud, a very controlling and legalistic man who thinks everyone should abide certain rules and act a certain way.  He also had a lot of issues going on and they were not mentioned in the movie, however; they were explained in the book. Carrie-Ann Moss plays Caroline, a cold hearted and probably the most boring mother in the world. I felt sorry for her son who appeared to be deprived of anything fun in this world, such as eating a piece of chocolate!

Basic movie facts: The movie was filmed mostly in France, of course. The town is a real tiny medieval village composed of only 350 people. In the film, the town people even get to play movie extras. Can you imagine the excitement or horror these people felt having a huge movie crew the size of their town swarmed in? Other scenes were filmed in England for close up shots of the inside of the chocolate store. Juliette took a two day course learning how to make chocolate and many of the chocolates in the film were made by professional French chocolatiers. The director, Lasser Hallstrom, also directed “The Cider House Rules” and is known to be a story teller with religious and controversial issues imbedded in his movies.

Pros: I loved the moral of the movie and how one person can make a difference in society if not, one person at a time. This movie also engages the viewer to think about tradition and untraditional ways to live life and not be afraid to seek it out. The costumes were amazing and the overall look and feel of the colors made it appealing to my eyes. I understood why they used boring grey and blue hues in the opening; it was to show a redundant way of living and to make you understand this was a very traditional community. When Vianne and her daughter, Anouk, arrive in town, they are both wearing bright red capes as if symbolizing the contrast of life they bring to the villagers. This movie is nearly flawless in my opinion, so my pro comments could go on and on in this category.

Cons: I noticed that the audio did not match up with the actors and their lips the entire movie. I tried to ignore this, but I couldn’t. It became somewhat distracting once I paid too much attention to it, so I had to stop and just enjoy the movie. Other than that, I couldn’t really find anything else wrong with this film.

Music score: For this film, Lasser had Rachel Portman compose the music score. I always listen to the soundtrack of the movie as I review the movie to remember the different scenes and how the music relates to it. Rachel said that she used a longing, wispy sound for when Vianne felt called to keep moving on to the next town. I enjoyed very much the French music from the 1950’s. I’d like to add that Rachel also did the music score for “The Cider House Rules” as well.

Favorite quote: This stuck out on my mind for some reason, but I like it anyways. It was something like chocolate “melts in your tongue and tortures you with pleasure”. That’s pretty much how I feel every time I eat a truffle.

Audience reaction: None. I watched this at home.

Relatability: Vianne is a character I can easily relate to. The lifestyle of always having to move from place to place and making friends, helping and loving those around you in that community, only to say goodbye to them later on is very hard. However, there is always that feeling of seeing what else is out there and exploring. There is a scene where Vianne is being “called” to move once again and she is battling between her mind and her heart. You can see it in her eyes and her body language of how strong the feeling is to just make a final decision. I also enjoyed Vianne’s attraction to Roux as he also could relate to her adventurous spirit and they both knew how it felt to feel like outcasts. He understood her. I liked how Vianne didn’t care what others thought about her, even if she was “breaking rules”  in a society that lived in a box, so to speak. She followed her heart in the end.

Photo credit: mfg.org

Life of Pi (2012) Movie Review

Adventure Boy and I went to watch “Life of Pi” tonight. Initially, I thought it looked like a great movie for kids and we both love tigers. My Chinese sign (the year I was born) is actually a “tiger” and some of my male friends love to say, “Easy now tiger!” when I play around in voicing my opinions about things. Whenever we go to the zoo, we always want to see the tigers first as they are such beautiful yet ferocious creatures. Anyways, so other than seeing the movie trailer, I thought it was harmless to see this movie and to escape reality for a bit. I know I needed it.

What we saw was unlike any movie I’ve seen in a very long time. First of all, the movie trailer does not do any justice of how amazing this movie is. If you like allegories, symbolism, religious thoughts and fantasy, you will absolutely love this movie hands down. This movie had a little bit of everything such as romance, survival, desperation, sadness, happiness, humor, surprise, fear and most of all, hope. There was not a dry eye in the audience when we saw it, especially at a particular scene. I wasn’t even thinking of Hurricane Sandy until a certain scene came up where “Pi” is in the midst of a horrible storm and he’s screaming at the top of his lungs to the sky and says (this is not verbatim), “You’ve taken my family, everything I’ve ever loved, I’ve lost everything, what more do you want?!!” I couldn’t help but think of the victims of Hurricane Sandy and basically thinking that’s how they must feel. When you watch the movie, you see a “story” about hope. However, at the very end, you find out there are two versions of the story in the film and the animals in the movie represent humans. The whole story was a beautiful puzzle of symbolism that once you found out which one was which, you see the bigger picture and get the “I got it! I now understand what the author was trying to tell me or show me!”. I love those aha moments.

What I was thinking as we were walking to the car and I was still mulling over who and what represented what, I began to understand that the story in itself can go so many ways and that Pi could have represented God and the tiger represented “Pi” (or the author of the book). This movie leaves you thinking about all the times you ever lost hope and just when you think you’ve lost it all, someone or something comes along and helps you survive the “storm”.

I recommend this movie to anyone who has ever felt lonely, hopeless or searching for something to live for. What I learned from this movie is to always say “thank you” for whatever comes my way. I’m always thankful to begin with, but even more so now. Even when it is things I don’t understand, there is a greater reason behind it. It’s for me to learn how to make the most of it when I have nothing. Good movie, you guys should go out and see it. Even James Cameron thought the Director Ang Lee did an amazing job in the visual and directorial department in the way he presented this film. Some of the scenes are so beautiful, it took my breath away. This is a very family friendly movie. Kids will love the story and adults will love the symbolism of it. If you liked Avatar, you’ll definitely love the computer graphics in this movie.

Here is the official website: Life of Pi Official Website

Here is a video explaining the experiences and story of the movie. Check it out!

Video #1 Credit: The Life of Pi Movie
Video #2 Credit: FilmLincdotcom

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One more thing. Someone wrote something on their search engine and my blog popped up according to what they wrote. Here is what they wrote and I’ll respond. I thought it was a good question.

“meaning of tiger going into jungle at the end in life of pi movie”

Here is my humble opinion and answer of that question. “Pi” was also the tiger in the movie. When the tiger was “saved”, it was the boy who turned his back on “God” and never “thanked” him for saving him. The tiger represented Pi and the boy represented God who wanted Pi to turn around and thank him, hence the reason at the beginning of the movie where Pi (as the adult) prays before he eats and told the writer (sitting across the table from him) why he always thanks God for everything. It gets a little confusing, I know, but all Pi wanted to do was thank the tiger for being there for him and saving his life and also wanted the tiger to thank him in return, even if it meant the tiger turning around one last time and thank Pi with his eyes, but the tiger never did and there was never sense of closure as a result. Pi learned a hard lesson in appreciating and being thankful for the lessons his parents taught him while they were alive. Pi also felt some guilt due to never saying goodbye to his parents, especially his father who taught him how to communicate with animals. The tiger went back into his element just as the boy was re-entering society with other humans; there was parallel symbolism with both characters. I’m sure there are numerous opinions of this and some better than mine, but that is just what I think on that subject. I want to see the movie again, now that I understand it better and to also read the book.

The Sea is Watching review

Hello again!

“The Sea is Watching” is a great movie and I highly recomend it. The trailer is “ok”, but does not give the best parts away or much of it. I’m glad I didn’t see the trailer first because I wouldn’t have been interested. Instead, I just went by the description on the back of the DVD. This wonderfully scripted movie blended Japanese culture and showed the power of determination and patience. There was a part in the middle of the movie that made my jaw drop. I was quite suprised at the sudden twist of the storyline. The twist was so well written that my jaw dropped the same time the shocked look on the characters happened. That, my friends, is awesome writing. Sometimes love stories are so predictable, it’s nice to be surprised now and then. Keeps you awake. The storyline was good, although at one point I almost fell asleep. The story was not keeping my attention. That only lasted 5 minutes before it picked up again. Perhaps I was just tired. When I watch Japanese movies, I always learn new things. For instance, I always wondered how the rice paper windows were able to withstand storms and heavy rains-sliding wooden doors, of course! I watch every detail. I also watch how the characters speak to each other and what things make the characters mad. What I love about international romance movies is how passion and love are all felt the same, but shown in different ways. So, I recommend this story about a handful of ladies who do their “service” (if you know what I mean) and the drama that encircles their everyday life.

I give it 4 coffee beans out of 5 coffee beans.