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Archives for : Love

Movie Review: News of the World is an Enjoyable Ride

The last time director Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks worked together was for “Captain Phillips”. A solid movie that was strong in its performances, but lacking in its story. Now, the two have teamed up again, and Hanks plays an even better Captain in the film, “News of the World”.

Hanks stars as Captain Kyle Kidd, a war veteran who travels from town to town five years after the Civil War, to read the news across Texas. But this man doesn’t just read the news, he brings life to it with his energy and storytelling; almost like a performance. He entertains the crowds at each stop with his loud, commanding voice.

While on his news tour, Kidd stumbles across a 10-year old girl which he names Johanna (Helena Zengel). She’s found abandoned on the road. She was raised by the Kiowa tribe, and doesn’t speak any English. Once Kidd realizes Johanna has no one to help her, he takes it upon himself to get her to her aunt and uncle’s farm near San Antonio. But this is no easy journey, and Kidd still must complete his work. Johanna tags along and watches in admiration as Kidd reads his “stories” to the towns they visit before their final destination.

“News of the World” does have some action, and there is enough intensity to keep you engaged. But be prepared for a lot of quiet and slow moments. With the exception of one shoot-out, this isn’t a very wild western. The enjoyment of the film comes from Kidd and Johanna. The two have great chemistry, and a very natural father/daughter like relationship. The dialogue between them is never forced or cheesy. The progression of the care and trust they build is incredibly heartwarming. They are both troubled and lost, but they find a home in each other.

The film is beautifully shot with luminous cinematography by Dariusz Wolski, and has a fantastic production design by David Crank. The exteriors of this film are wonderful, but what gives this movie life is the heart behind the two lead characters.

“News of the World” is an unconventional western. But regardless of your genre preference, Hanks and Zengel will win you over.

Rating: 4/5

“News of the World” opens in theaters December 25 and On Demand in January.

Movie Review: “Let Him Go” – A Powerful Portrayal of a Grandparent’s Love

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner are heartbroken grandparents ready to do whatever is needed to protect their grandson.

Focus Features new drama, “Let Him Go” opens with retired sheriff George Blackledge (Costner) and his wife Margaret (Lane) at their ranch in Montana spending time with their son James (Ryan Bruce), his wife Lorna (Kayli Carter), and their baby boy. Later that day, James has a fatal accident while riding a wild horse.

Years later, Lorna remarries. Her son, Jimmy, is now a toddler. On her wedding day, she seems uncomfortable around her new husband, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain). It isn’t until Margaret sees Donnie hit Lorna and Jimmy that she recognizes the problem. When she discovers they have mysteriously taken off to go stay with Donnie’s family; Margaret and George leave their Montana ranch, and set off to rescue their only grandchild from the dangerous Weboy family.

Based on Larry Watson’s novel, the film is directed and written by Thomas Bezucha (“The Family Stone”, “Monte Carlo”). Bezucha has a way of writing compelling family dynamics. Every character has depth. The relationships between the Blackledge family isn’t picture perfect. Margaret and George have a loving and respectable marriage, but they don’t always see eye to eye. And Margaret’s relationship with Lorna is a bit rocky, as Margaret can be overbearing.

The Weboy family is a special, terrifying case; led by their vicious and abusive mother, Blanche (Lesley Manville). She controls her sons and any other man in her life. What these men lack in brains, they make up for in strength and violence. They are an odd and horrifying bunch.

“Let Him Go” is a tense journey, but the scenic drive to their destination is beautiful and adds a brief unexpected tranquility. From the tragic beginning, you’re hooked till the very end. It’s unbearable to think about the pain parents must feel after the loss of a child, but to know their is still a piece of him in their grandchild makes their mission heroic and cathartic.

The film is heavy and there is some graphic violence, but it’s a fantastic story with incredible performances. Lane and Costner are a duo that deserve a longer screen time together than they had in “Man of Steel”. The two feed off each other so naturally. And Lesley Manville is an intimidating scene stealer. You dread her character, but you anxiously await her next appearance.

“Let Him Go” is not exactly groundbreaking, but it is an engaging script and exquisitely shot. The performances alone are enough for me to recommend this watch, but there’s also thrilling action and a powerful story. It’s the perfect movie to watch with the whole family.

Rating: 4.25/5

“Let Him Go” opens in theaters November 6, 2020.

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Movie Review: “The King of Staten Island” tells a Compelling Story

The King of Staten Island - Who Is Pete? - YouTube

Judd Apatow is responsible for some of the best comedies of our time including, “Knocked Up”, “40 Year-Old Virgin”, and “Trainwreck”. His films typically dive deeper than the usual comedy. He takes the time to have audiences understand his leads and provides a sincere character study. We continue to gain perspective on another lost soul in Apatow’s new heartfelt comedy, “The King of Staten Island”.

This time Apatow has teamed up with Saturday Night Live standout, Pete Davidson. Together, alongside co-writer Dave Sirus, they bring Davidson’s personal experiences to life.

“The King of Staten Island” is about a young man named Scott (Davidson) who’s still living in his mother’s basement, and seems to be going nowhere in life. Scott has had issues ever since his father passed away on the job responding to a fire when he was seven. Since then, he hasn’t been able to grow up and become an independent adult. Everything changes when his younger sister Claire (Maude Apatow) goes off to college, and his mother Margie (Marisa Tomei) starts dating another firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr).

Margie is finally able to move on and think about her own happiness. This forces Scott to get a job, and look for a new place to live. Unfortunately, Ray gets the blame for this sudden shift in Scott’s life, and naturally he hates him. The two butt heads and carry on a hilarious banter throughout the movie; which eventually leads to a powerful and emotional realization of unresolved grief.

The King of Staten Island Is the Rare Comedy That May Play Better ...

What I have always loved about Apatow’s movies is the writing. Not only is it authentic and honest, but it’s also so damn funny. The dialogue is awkwardly realistic and witty. And his always talented casts help elevate the script.

Apatow’s daughter is a knock out; and Tomei does a fantastic job, as usual, playing an endearing, sweet mom. But it’s Davidson and Burr who shine. Davidson solidifies his career by bringing humor and genuine emotion without ever appearing to try too hard. Burr is obviously funny and sarcastic, but he also has depth and just the right amount of heart to make you understand why Margie could fall for him so quickly.

“The King of Staten Island” tells a unique story about grief, loss, and love. Showing that for your own health, it’s important to confront your issues, and allow the people around you to help in the healing process.

Some may be discouraged by the nearly two and half hour runtime, but don’t let the semi-slow pace deter you from this beautiful, well made, coming-of-age film.

Rating: 4/5

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Movie Review: “A Simple Wedding” is a Joyous Occasion

Growing up, I watched so many rom-coms and admired actresses like Meg Ryan, Molly Ringwald, Sandra Bullock, and so many other women playing characters looking for love. To an extent I could relate to them and their awkward/quirky personalities, but I never really saw myself. It might be part of the reason why I never thought I’d get that kind of romance in my life (I was wrong).

In these last couple of years, Hollywood has revived romantic comedies by bringing other cultures to light (i.e. Crazy, Rich, Asians & The Big Sick). Even Netflix has stepped it up with To The Boys I Loved Before and Always Be My Maybe. And just by watching these films with ethnic leads, I have felt slightly more represented. Because, as an Iranian-American, this is as close as it’s going to get. Luckily, that’s not true.

Director/writer, Sara Zandieh brings us, A Simple Wedding. The film follows Nousha (Tara Grammy), a thirty-something woman trying to avoid the pressures of marriage by her traditional Persian family. After purposely sabotaging her latest engagement, she unexpectedly locks eyes with a bisexual, artist named Alex (Christopher O’Shea) while at her friend’s protest. Their connection is instant. And after a passionate first date, the two become inseparable and eventually move in together.

However, Nousha’s family has no idea Alex exists. That is until they see him half-naked during a facetime chat. This leaves them no choice but to have Alex finally meet Nousha’s mom (Shohreh Aghdashloo), dad (Houshang Touzie), and grandma (Jaleh Modjallel). They are less than thrilled that he’s not a Persian doctor, and even more bothered by the fact that they are living together; and they can’t have their daughter living in sin. Within minutes of their first meeting, Nousha’s family has somehow gotten the couple engaged, and are planning a quick and “simple” wedding. An already complicated situation becomes more complicated when Alex’s family comes into the picture, and the two cultures collide.

The creators of My Big Fat Greek Wedding bring us a similar formula, but different ingredients. There’s insight into the Persian culture/wedding traditions, and a fair amount of focus on both set of parents. This time producer, Rita Wilson is in front of the screen as Alex’s divorced mom who can’t stand being around her ex (Peter McKenzie) and his hubby (James Eckhouse). Yet, she does like spending time around Nousha’s uncle, Saman (Maz Jobrani).

All the family members do a wonderful job portraying loving, yet at times hilariously selfish parents. O’Shea effortlessly plays a true, free spirit who loves whole-heartedly; not seeing race or religion. But at its core, the film thrives on Grammy’s endearing performance. She doesn’t play a woman who seeks love and feels lonely. She’s smart, independent, has great friends, and a good job. She’s not this loser girl that finally got a guy to notice her. She just finally noticed the guy, and wants to continue the relationship without any expectations.

I know I’m gushing quite a bit about this film, and I am sure I’m being bias given the subject matter. With the news lately, it’s nice to see Persians presented in a more positive perspective. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Everyone deserves to be represented, no matter your race, orientation, size, etc. And no matter who you are, you can relate to the message this film offers about how love requires “sacrifice, understanding, and forgiveness.”

This movie has its flaws, but it’s sincere. And if you still enjoy the simple romantic comedies we used to indulge in back in the 80’s & 90’s, then allow yourself to enjoy A Simple Wedding. It’s a sweet date night flick, and an all-around fun time.

Rating: 4/5

A Simple Wedding opens in theaters and On Demand (Including Amazon and iTunes) February 14, 2020.

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Fantastic Fest Movie Review: Opening Night Film – “Jojo Rabbit”

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The very unique director/writer/actor, Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) brings us this delightful, bittersweet comedy about a Hitler loving boy who learns discriminating against others who are unlike you isn’t as cool as the Nazi’s made it to be. Check out my full video review!

“Jojo Rabbit” opens in theater October 18.

Interview: Greg Berlanti, Nick Robinson and Alexandra Shipp talk “Love, Simon”

There’s a reason why “Love, Simon” is getting so much love.  The film is a charming coming-of-age story that everyone can relate to.  It’s one of my favorite movies of the year and I was thrilled to get a chance to sit down with director Greg Berlanti, and stars, Nick Robinson and Alexandra Shipp.  We discussed the pros/cons of social media, best romantic spots, what kind of characters they’d like to see represented in big studio movies and more!

“Love, Simon” is playing in theaters everywhere.

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Interview: Jake Johnson and Steve Berg talk “Digging with Fire”

digging for fire
I sat down with Jake Johnson (writer/actor) and Steve Berg (actor) to discuss their latest film, Digging for Fire. We talked about love, the key to a healthy relationship, and Jared from Subway?  It was definitely an interesting interview!

Digging for Fire is available to watch on VOD.

Interview: Michiel Huisman discusses “The Age of Adaline”

I sat down with Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones) to discuss his new film, The Age of Adaline. We talked about the blessing of growing old with someone you love, which decade he would have enjoyed living in, and the importance of banter in a relationship.  Click the link below to see the full interview with the star.  The Age of Adaline opens in theaters on April 24.

“The Age of Adaline” Interview with Michiel Huisman

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Interview: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, & Nicholas Sparks talk “The Longest Ride”

I got a chance to sit down with Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook), Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland), and Scott Eastwood (Fury) to discuss their latest film, The Longest Ride.  We talked about love, how to impress someone you’re dating, sacrifices made in relationships, and the teachers who impacted them.  It was a fun and interesting interview! 

 Click Here to Watch “The Longest Ride” Interview

longest ride

The Longest Ride opens in theaters April 10th.

Finding “The One”-Top 5 Films that put your Love Life in Perspective

Are you looking for “The One” this Valentine’s Day?  Or maybe, you’ve already found that person.  In honor of this heart-filled holiday, I’ve made a list of the top 5 films that can put your love life in perspective.  These films are geared toward everyone, whether you’re in a relationship or not.  For couples, these movies could shed light on issues you may be having, or just make you appreciate that special someone in your life.  For singles, this list can maybe help you better understand what you’re realistically looking for in a relationship.  Either way, all 5 romantic movies are great choices to watch this V-Day.

Here’s what I take away from these films…

5. Don Jon (2013)

Listen and Connect

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon, discusses how the media can often lead us to objectify people and treat them more like things instead of humans.  A lot of times movies and television can give us a false expectation of what we’re looking for in a partner.  Though it can be fascinating to watch a Hollywood romance or adult films, we must separate fantasy from reality.  Maybe the person you’re dating or crushing on fits the mold of what you expect in a partner, but is it really what you want?  Truly listen to that person and make sure you connect with them on both, a psychical and emotional level. (Don Jon is currently available to stream on Netflix)

4. Ruby Sparks (2012)

Nobody’s Perfect

We’ve almost all had that check list which bullet points the requirements for our partners.  Whether it’s based on their looks, or their jobs, or even their sense of humor, it DOES NOT matter.  That list needs to be deleted from your brain.  We have no idea what we want until we meet “that someone.”  Ruby Sparks is about a novelist (Paul Dano) who writes an ideal female character (Zoe Kazan) that comes to life overnight.  The film focuses on how there is no perfect person.  Part of really loving someone is seeing their imperfections and dealing with them in a way that isn’t bothersome to you.  When you wish your partner was a different way, it can actually speak more about something in you.

3. 500 Days of Summer (2009)

Different Points of View

I’m aware I’ve referenced this film a few times for my top 5 lists, but that’s only because you can take away so many lessons from the story and characters.   In 500 Days of Summer, Tom (Gordon-Levitt) believes his entire relationship with Summer (Deschanel), up until they break up, was perfect.  He’s in love and she’s almost so clearly not.   I truly believe the cruelest feeling we can experience is strongly caring for someone who doesn’t reciprocate that same feeling.  It makes you wonder how it was even possible to have those feelings in the first place.  Unfortunately, people are stuck in this situation all the time.  In the film, Tom copes with his heartache by reflecting back and noticing the signs.  For the most part, entering a relationship shouldn’t be that complicated, both people need be on the same page.  If one person is stalling to commit, then he or she may not be right for you.

2. TiMER (2009)

Do you Believe in Soul Mates?

If you could install a device that counts down the exact moment you’re going to meet your soul mate, would you want to?  Oona (Emma Caulfield) got one.  Only problem is her TiMER is blank, meaning her soul mate hasn’t yet signed up for the service.  This film raises the question of whether or not you believe that there is ONE perfect person out there for each of us.  And for those who have doubts in their own relationships, do you think there is someone else out there better suited for you?  Though very few have heard of this movie, TiMER is a charming, thought-provoking story that everyone should make time for.  (TiMER is currently available to stream on Netflix)

1. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Life is Too Short

I’m sure many people don’t want to ball their eyes out this Valentine’s Day, but I assure you The Fault in Our Stars is much more than a movie about teens with cancer.   Gus (Ansel Elgort) and Hazel’s (Shailene Woodley) inspiring, genuine love story reminds us to make the most of each day.  In a romantic aspect, life is too short to not be with someone you care about.  If you’re lucky enough to truly fall in love, then don’t take that love for granted.  Because even if it’s short-lived, you won’t regret the time spent with each other.