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Movie Review: “By the Sea” is a Dull and Pretentious Vanity Project

Dear Angelina Jolie, please give up trying to direct anymore films. To sum it up, at best, you are not very good at directing. Too harsh? Well then you clearly haven’t endured Jolie’s latest project, By the Sea, in which the Academy Award winning actress directed, wrote, produced, and starred.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Angelina Jolie, and I believe she is an incredibly talented actress, when she’s not directing herself that is.

By the Sea follows Vanessa (Jolie) and her husband Roland (Brad Pitt) as they vacation in France so that they may mend their marriage, and he can gain inspiration to write his next book. After what feels like an hour of nothing, they discover a peep hole in their hotel room that allows them to watch a newlywed couple (Melanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud) on their honeymoon.

Let me first say, for a good thirty or more minutes we have no clue what this film is about. It is clear Vanessa is depressed and awkward, as she is quiet and almost always crying. Not knowing what’s wrong with Vanessa, you would assume her husband is some kind of monster and we’re just waiting for him to go off. Spoiler alert, he’s not. Don’t hold your breath on that one. Basically something did happen between these two. When it’s finally revealed, the story does come together and makes sense to a point. However, it is not worth the pay off, nor the two hours of your life you have wasted.

Pitt is the only saving grace to this wretched film. He seems to be the only character that has any sense and real personality. Unfortunately, for Jolie’s character, she clearly cannot get the best performance out of herself. It was as if she was an amateur actress trying way too hard throughout the entire story.

Though the setting of France in the mid-1970s was beautiful, the shots and the style produced came off too artsy and irrelevant towards moving the story forward. Jolie’s attempt at “deep” and “meaningful” scenes has a much more comical affect.

I’d like to say By the Sea had potential, but sadly, Vanessa’s opening line, “Smells like fish,” foreshadows all too well just how much of a stinker this movie is.

Rating: 1/5

By the Sea opens in theaters November 20.

“By the Sea” Official Trailer HD

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.

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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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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.

Movie Review: “What If…”- A Conventional Rom-Com with Irresistibly Charming Characters

In Daniel Radcliffe’s latest film, he swaps sorcery for romance and faces his toughest challenge yet- burying his true feelings for the girl that could be “the one.”

What’s being deemed as this year’s 500 Days of Summer is the story of Wallace (Radcliffe), a med school dropout who’s given up on love after a string of failed relationships and Chantry (Zoe Kazan), the potential girl of his dreams.  The two meet at a party and have an immediate connection.  Their spark is quickly extinguished, however, when Chantry mentions her boyfriend.  Regardless of the circumstances, Wallace would rather have Chantry in his life as friend than not all.  It’s an awkward challenge for both of them as they are faced with the age-old question: Can a guy and girl just be friends?

I have to say, right off the bat, that What If… is incomparable to 500 Days of Summer.  I can see how the characters may correlate from the two films.  But as a love story, writer Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now) continues to be in a league of his own.  What If… does not provide any sort of originality in its narrative; in fact it’s about as formulaic as they come.  But thanks to the film’s charismatic cast, the movie is surprisingly pleasurable the whole way through.

Zoe Kazan is rapidly becoming the queen of the indie flick world, with films like her offbeat romance, Ruby Sparks and her dark comedy, The Pretty One.  She brings a refreshing flair to every character she plays.  And who knew Harry Potter could slide into the quick-witted male lead with such ease.  What comes as no surprise is the scene-stealing Adam Driver, who plays Allen, Wallace’s best friend who also happens to be Chantry’s cousin.  Allen is the uproarious link that caused their initial interaction. Frankly, I would have rather watched Allen’s romance with Nicole (MacKenzie Davis), an outspoken, sexually driven wild-child that actually meets Allen at the same party where Chantry and Wallace first met.  Nicole and Allen handle their immediate connection through a more spontaneous route, skipping all the usual steps of a regular relationship.

What If…easily outweighs in comparison to the other cliché Katherine Heigl disasters we’ve endured.  But given its subject matter and the potential this story had, I can’t help but be slightly disappointed with the entirety of the film.  So many movies try to tackle the “just friends” premise, but only rarely do they pull off the complexity and authentic emotion behind a friendship that has more than platonic feelings.  If you’re looking for that kind of story, I suggest you watch Drinking Buddies; it’s one of the few that flawlessly explored a true test of whether or not men and women can just be friends.

The great message here, and what is really the central focus of this film, is how when you’re lucky enough to find that instant connection with someone, is it best to wait it out and see where it goes, or do you jump on your feelings and take a risk before you miss an opportunity?

What If…is an undoubtedly cute, quirky, romantic comedy that most audiences will enjoy.

Rating: 3/5

“What If…” Official Trailer HD

Single During the Holidays? Here are the Top 5 Films to get you through the Season

It’s cuddle season!  And that means everywhere you look couples are constantly holding each other.  Whether it’s at a family gathering or Christmas shopping at the mall; they are everywhere.

The holidays can be rough on anyone for many reasons.  But, being single during a time that is better spent with a significant other can be a bummer.  Luckily, my go to medicine (Movies) will always put situations like these into a much better perspective.

These 5 films will help singles get through the holiday season; each for completely different reasons.

5. Shopgirl

So, I can hurt now, or hurt later

For the Moving On:  Shopgirl shows how heart breaking a strictly sexual relationship can be when one person starts to want more.  No, it isn’t like Friends with Benefits.  This film is dark, deep, and emotional; and has some comic relief thanks to Jason Schwartzman.  After situations like these, one can feel hopeless to find someone that they “think” they can feel that strongly for again.  Shopgirl will show you just how possible it is to move on.  And how whatever you thought you felt for the wrong one, is nothing in comparison to the feelings you will feel for the right one.

4. Loser

You think you could turn it down just a skosh?

For the Nice Guys: This film gives hope for both, the good guys and girls.  Paul Tannek (Jason Biggs) is one of the sweetest and most genuine characters I have ever seen in a film.  Selfless, non-confrontational, and the perfect example of how the nice ones may not get a “happy ending” as quick as others.  But eventually someone will see the good in you, and appreciate it when you least expect it.

3. Swimfan

Don’t tell her you love her!

For the Psycho: Hopefully none of us have acted quite as insane a Madison Bell (Erika Christensen) did over someone that wasn’t interested in her.   I know this is an odd choice, but if you are the type that is desperate to like anyone (like the first person that’s nice to you).  Then maybe this film will make you rethink that non-existent relationship you are about to form in your head.  Or maybe one of your last relationships was with that “stage 5 clinger” that texts you and ends up having a texting convo with themselves…Either way, Swimfan will make you feel relieved to not be dealing with any form of a psychotic relationship.  (For a little gender reversal of this story-line, I also recommend FEAR.  And for the original try Fatal Attraction)

2. 500 Days of Summer

The feeling I never felt with you

For the Realist: Anyone who dated someone that used the “I’m just not looking for a relationship right now” line must know by now that it was complete bullsh**.  You know; you have probably used that line too.  “I’m not looking for a relationship” means I’m not looking for a relationship with YOU.  This film just proves the theory that when you meet the right person, you both just know.  If something is holding you guys back from committing as a couple, you are probably not meant to be.  500 Days of Summer portrays a realistic story about dating and breaking up.  After watching this film, you might be less controlling of your feelings, or stop expecting certain qualities in a partner.  When it happens, it just happens naturally.

1. About Time

All the time traveling in the world can’t make someone love you

For the Regrets:  At first sight, this film seems like it is going to be a mushy love story that will want to make you gag.  But it is not!  It is SO much more than that.  This movie is about appreciating the love in our lives; from our family, our friends, even our random acquaintances.  Now don’t get me wrong, there is an incredibly charming relationship in the film.  But this relationship didn’t come about until after multiple tries by a man who can travel back in time (still a great movie, I swear).  The important lesson learned is not to wish for second chances, but to treat each moment like it’s your last.  Take the chance by letting someone know how you feel before it’s too late.  And if they aren’t interested, at least you tried and you won’t have any regrets!