What About Romance (Movie Thoughts: Isn’t It Romantic)

romanticpos1The big question that begs to be answered: is ‘Isn’t it Romantic’, well, romantic? Well, the short answer is, no, it isn’t. As a romantic comedy, the film falters, but that doesn’t mean it could be worth your time. It’s a story of a young woman, Natlie, played by Rebel Wilson, who, after hitting her head, gets caught in a world of romantic comedy, and even as she tries to resist it, gets embroiled in one. The film has a mixed message – romantic comedies are bad, but hello, you are in one so let’s be one – so as an audience, we are confused as to what to think. But the film has Wilson up its sleeve, and though I am still conflicted about how I feel about her – she carries the film on her back and mostly succeeds in lifting it. She doesn’t really give the film a character, just a string of finely-tuned one liners, and to be frank, her style is a little bit too in the “look at me, I’m funny” vein, but I can tolerate her more than the old Melisa McCarthy shtick. The film has some great musical scenes (I can’t diss anything that uses Swing Out Sister’s ‘Breakout’) and the choreography by Christopher Gattelli is, as the kids say, on-point. I enjoyed the film a little more than the differences I had with it, and I bet most people will enjoy it more.

Love Letters Straight From The Heart (Movie Thoughts: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before)

to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before.119306I read YA novels because I love its purity, and also it’s hopefulness. When we are young, we still do not have the cynicism and jadedness we have as adults, and I like that even for 120 minutes, I could get lost in that world, with that feeling. Obviously, I know what real life is now, where I value pizza more than love. So of course, I loved Susan Johnson’s ‘To All the Boys I Loved Before,’ a movie based on a YA novel I loved reading years ago. I even remember the gimmicky premise – Lara Jean (Lana Condor) writes letters to boys she has feelings for, sort of like journal entries. She then hides them with obviously no intentions of sending them. But mysteriously, they get out, and well, there you go. Lara Jean then goes to a ‘fake dating’ scenario with Peter (Noah Centineo, a breakout star here) in order for him to get an ex jealous, and for her to gloss over her crush for her sister’s ex. Then we all know where this goes – they slowly fall for each other.

The great thing about the film is it just plugs these tropes perfectly, and because of the charming cast – Condor and Centineo are great together – you not only go along, you even root for both to fall faster. This film reminds me of the John Hughes teen flicks of my youth (wisely referenced here) and since Gen Y kids deserve the same kinds of stories. An added bonus – great to see an Asian lead (this film is dropping the same week as ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ even) though perhaps it is slightly jarring to see John Corbett as her dad. This is cute and romantic, and I can[t wait to see it again. Thanks, Netflix.

Kansas & Istanbul (Movie Thoughts: Different Flowers/Non-Transferable)

What’s in a set up? I just saw two movies (back to back, as it were) that had similar themes – what happens when you leave (or get left) by your love. Each movie goes into a different direction, but kind of similar actually. I am trying to think if the Universe told me to watch each for a reason.

diffFirst up is ‘Different Flowers,’ which, incidentally was produced by Shelley Long. She has a small role, too, as a grandmother. Is that really a reflection of my age that Long is now doing grandmother roles? And if she is producing movies, why isn’t she producing movies for herself? Anyway, in here Emma Bell plays Millie, who bails out on her wedding last minute and sets out from Kansas City with her younger sister to drive around in her sister’s car. Why she does it is never really care, and where they go is just as muddled. This is a mess of a movie, and seems pointless. Both sisters are not likable at all, and you ask yourself why you are spending time with them. It’s supposed to be a tribute to the Kansas countryside, but sorry, in my mind these are Trump supporting bigots so I really don’t want to know them.

nont‘Non-Transferable’ is a little better. Written, Directed, and co-starring Brendan Bradley, this stars Ashley Clements as Amy, who plans a European trip for her and her boyfriend, expecting him to propose to her. Instead, he dumps her and she is left with a non-transferable vacation ticket in his name. Enter Bradley, whose character has the same name, and they embark on a two week trip to Istanbul Turkey. Istanbul is gloriously shot here, and apparently this film was partly funded by the Turkish Tourism Board. The film can at times be fun, but again, I am put off by how selfish and unlikable Clements’ Amy, that whenever she is on screen, I cringe. Bradley comes off much better, and, really, is the saving grace of the film. Having been to Istanbul myself, I appreciated all the scenic touristic scenes, and they did not appear as blatantly touristic as one would think.

Both films are really not that good, if I have to be honest, and maybe I am just starved for real love stories nowadays that’s why I am tolerating them. I ask myself everyday: Whatever happened to rom-com?


Love For Diner (Movie Thoughts: The Food Guide To Love)

Photo Aug 24, 9 28 58 PMNowadays, we don’t really get a lot of simple old-fashioned love stories on screen. So when I find one, I enjoy a lot more than I should. From Ireland and Spain  comes ‘The Food Guide To Love,’ and it was such a random choice. I realized it was from 2013, so it’s old-ish. But the sentiment of the film isn’t. The whole thing seems -well, is – a formula, which has been followed by every  single rom-com ever created, But you know what? It works, all because of the wonder chemistry between the two leads (Richard Coyle and Leonora Watling) Oliver and Viviana. Even with the precariousness of the story, you still believe because you actually see and feel how the two of them fall in love. So when the relationship starts to crumble, you get a pinch in your heart. It’s a told as old as time, as they say, and is effective then, now still, and I bet to the next generation. It’s never failed yet.

In Love And Sickness (Movie Thoughts: The Big Sick)

TBS_onesheet_Quotes_NZ_LR‘The Big Sick’ has been touted as the best rom-com film in ages, and of course that’s bound to get my attention. And I do agree that it is a great film – funny, melancholy, self-assured. But I would think that by labeling it as just a romantic comedy cuts its strength. I think the movie is a lot more than that: an exploration of interracial relationships, a comment on arranged marriages, even a paean to modern day stand up comic struggles. And sure, it has strong aspects of romantic comedy-isms, but as merely  one, it falls short.

Loosely based on their life, Kumail Nunjani (who also stars as the Kumail character) and his wife Emily Gordon wrote the screenplay, and they even named the characters Kumail and Emily. They meet one night at a comedy club, and then we get that montage of two people falling in love. Until they get faced with conflicts stemming from their interracial relationship and they break up. Emily then gets sick and Kumail, along with Emily’s parents, goes through this ordeal together. Zoe Kazan plays Emily, and she exudes big charm as we get to know her, and their relationship and we fall in love with them instantly. Director Michael Showalter has a great feel for characters and relationships (he directed the great ‘Hello My Name Is Doris’)  and we feel for and with these characters instantly.  Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, playing Emily’s parents are God gifts – I never ever liked Romano before, and here he is just perfection. Still, i wish that the Judd Apatow influence isn’t here – sometimes the proceedings go directly to the toilet – and yes I know that’s what will give this film widespread appeal, but I still feel subtlety is more romantic . But that’s not to take away from the film – this is a wonderful modern film that tells the story of today’s America – I doubt a Trump supporter can go with it’s diversity, but the fact that this film exists is a cause for celebration.

I’ll Take Manhattan (Book Thoughts: The Perfect Manhattan, Leann Shear and Tracey Toomey)

50340I am always wary when I see a book with two authors, and I did not realize that ‘The Perfect Manhattan’  was written by two people – Leanne Shear and Tracey Toomey – until after I finished reading the book. This book was an enjoyable read, and I found myself invested in Cassie, the lead character/narrator. She is a Columbia graduate who did not know what to do in life, and throws herself into bartending so she could pay her student loan. She starts at a downtown Irish bar and moves to a club in the Hamptons. This is a combination fish out of the water novel and a coming-of-age of sorts. Cassie is given a life lesson in the course of a summer. It’s also written a bit messily – she describes herself as working class, but knows all brands and designer labels so there’s a bit of character conflict there. But the words fly and you will get caught in all the scenes. It’s fun, frothy, and a little bit intoxicating. You will have a little hangover in the morning, but there’s always aspirin to take that edge off.

Bad For Each Other (Book Thoughts: Pieces Of You And Me, Erin Fletcher)

29902163I am truly getting old. While reading ‘Pieces Of You And Me’ by Erin Fletcher, I kept shaking my head with the two protagonists – Chase and Rylee. While other people may think their story is the height of romance, all I can see is the beginnings of codependency and a real toxic relationship. These two people bring out the worst in each other – he makes her lie to her friends, she makes him drink. Where has my sense of romance gone to? But I have to hand it to Fletcher – this is not a white-washed story. She presents situations teenagers have to deal with in real life, warts and all, how they cope with parent’s divorce, and alcoholism. I think the problem is just me lately – I have gotten just a bit cynical. Maybe I need to be in a better mood and re read this.