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Archives for : Romance

Top 10 Best Films of 2020

10. Soul

“Soul” follows, Joe (Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who has lost his passion for music and sense of purpose. But when he is transported into another realm to help someone find their spark, he discovers a new appreciation for life.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this movie. Whether you have a dream you haven’t accomplished yet, or you feel as though your life hasn’t amounted to anything; take a second to reflect on all the good you already have. Your health, your family, your friends; our life is not as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. And remember to appreciate all the little things, even if it’s as small as a good slice of pizza.

9. Words on Bathroom Walls

“Words on Bathroom Walls” follows Adam(Charlie Plummer), a passionate cook who appears to be a typical teenage boy until an incident in his High School reveals he has schizophrenia. He is expelled, and forced to finish out his senior year at a Catholic High school. It’s there he meets, Maya (Taylor Russell). Their relationship in the film is tender and sweet, but the beauty of “Words on Bathroom Walls” is getting to see perspective on a mental illness that isn’t shown often, especially through a romance. This is something else that deserves representation and understanding. And though the film centers around Adam and Maya, the relationship between Adam and his mom is just as powerful. Her tenacity shows us a mother’s love is unconditional.

8. Let Him Go

After the death of their son, Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) have held on to the light in their life, their grandson, Jimmy. But when their daughter-in-law (Kayli Carter) remarries to an abusive man, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), he takes both her and Jimmy away to his family’s secluded home in North Dakota.  Margaret and George leave their ranch in Montana, and go on a mission to save what’s left of their family. Some may not find this movie special, but it transported me back to the theaters with how well it was shot and the incredible performances. You can’t help but feel for this couple, and want them to do whatever is necessary to get their grandson back.

7. On the Rocks

Bill Murray plays, Felix, a playboy art dealer who, long ago, walked out on his wife and children for the first of many women. He’s selfish and self-centered, yet you can’t help but love the guy. When he hears his daughter, Laura (Rashida Jones), is concerned about her husband’s many work trips, he assumes the worse and encourages her to look into the matter with him.  This film is such an easy and humorous watch. This is in big part due to the natural chemistry between Murray and Jones. Felix is trying to make up for lost time by taking this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to spend quality time with his daughter, who he genuinely cares for. “On the Rocks” highlights a sweet, yet unconventional father/daughter relationship, while also shedding a light on marriages that could use a little refresher.

6. Irresistible

I know politics is a touchy subject, but the beauty of “Irresistible” is that it really doesn’t try to sway you on either side. They focus more about how ridiculous a campaign can get and how much it costs. It’s not about conservatives versus liberals. Instead, the film makes you question the two party system. The all-star cast which includes Steve Carrell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, and MacKenzie Davis all give top-notch, hilarious performances. The banter between Carrell and Byrne alone makes this film such a delight. “Irresistible” is the insightful, laugh-out-loud comedy we needed during this election year. Putting into perspective what is truly important in any leadership role. 

5. The Kid Detective

To all my fellow “Harriet the Spy” lovers, this movie is what I imagine happened to the male version of Harriet. Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody) was a once celebrated kid detective. Even adults used his services. But after he fails to solve the mystery of a kidnapping of a young girl/friend, he is no longer the same quality detective. Fast forward to his 30’s, he’s a washed up drunk, taking any minor case he can get to make end’s meat. That is until he is presented with his first murder case. I know a lot of you probably haven’t heard of this film, but it’s a really fun watch. Brody carries the movie with his wit and charm, but the story is just as engaging. “The Kid Detective” is truly the hidden gem of 2020.

4. Onward

I’m surprised by how high I have this film on my list, but since January I can’t get this movie or the ending out of my head. It’s one I get emotional just thinking about. On the day of Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, he and his older brother (Chris Pratt) are given a gift from their late father. Turns out it’s a spell that will bring their dad back to life for 24 hours,  giving Ian a chance to finally meet his father. But the spell doesn’t go exactly as planned. At first glance, this seems like a possibly boring, one disaster after another road trip that will end predictably. It’s safe to say that’s not the case. Although this is a film about a son seeking a relationship with his father, it also recognizes those in our lives who unexpectedly became a father figure and shaped us into the person we are today.

3. Palm Springs

Not since “Groundhog Day” has any film with the similar formula been worth raving about (Except for maybe “Happy Death Day”). That is until “Palm Springs”. It manages to put a refreshing spin on the romantic comedy genre and time loop narrative. Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) are two wedding guests reliving the same day. Samberg and Milioti are a dynamic duo with amazing chemistry. The film is heavier than you might expect. Nyles and Sarah are stuck together without even death as an escape. A romance grows, and soon they are partners in crime making the most of their care-free new existence; even if it comes with a rapid loss of meaning. “Palm Springs” is funny, sweet, and has a surprising little twist. 

2. Uncle Frank

If I could give anyone the Oscar right now, it would be Paul Bettany for his powerful and gut-wrenching performance in this film. I really hope this movie doesn’t go under the radar during award season, because it deserves recognition for its performances alone. Set in 1973, the film follows a teenager named Beth (Sophia Lillis) who leaves her rural Southern home to study at a New York University where her beloved Uncle Frank (Bettany) teaches. While there she discovers Frank is gay, and has been living with his long time partner, Wally (Peter Macdissi) – a secret he’s been keeping from his family for years. After the passing of his father, the three of them take a road trip home to North Carolina, and Frank is forced to face the worries and trauma he’s been running from. This film is my biggest tear-jerker of the year. I’m talking ugly crying. Watching Bettany play a character who has to hide his true self from his family in fear of how they might react is heartbreaking, and sadly, still relevant. “Uncle Frank” is a film everyone should watch.

1. Promising Young Woman

If you’ve heard me talk about this film, it should come as no surprise that it would make the top of my list. The movie has romance, comedy, mystery, revenge, and an all-star cast. “Promising Young Woman” features Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a med-school dropout who seeks revenge on a traumatizing past event. Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story. Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. This is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared towards men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. The film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty. “Promising Young Woman” is funny, dark, unforgettable, and for me, it’s the best film of the year.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Black Box

12. Shithouse

13. A Secret Love

14. Yes God Yes

15. The Trial of the Chicago 7

16. The Mauritanian

17. Da 5 Bloods

18. Freaky

19. Another Round

20. The Broken Hearts Gallery

Top 5 Worst Films of 2020

5. The Rhythm Section – I except more from Jude Law and Blake Lively at this point in their careers.

4. Underwater- A Knockoff underwater version of “Alien”. But bad, so bad.

3. The Sunlit Night- Terrible movie with the most forced and awkward sex scene.

2. The Prom – Had no idea James Corden was a bad actor until this film. Honestly, I couldn’t pay attention anything else.

1. The Witches (2020) – I almost forgot this movie happened. I’d like to keep it that way.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. Yes God Yes
9. Sonic the Hedgehog
8. Freaky
7. The Mauritanian
6. Palm Springs
5. The Old Guard
4. The Kid Detective
3. Promising Young Woman
2. Irresistible
1. Uncle Frank

Movie Review: “All My Life” & “I’m Your Woman”

“Ally My Life” is a sweet, yet heart-breaking true love story, and I’m Your Woman” is a sizzling, crime drama about a woman on the run. I have reviews of both films. Watch the video below!

“All My Life” opens in theaters December 4, 2020.

“I’m Your Woman” is available on Prime Video December 11, 2020.

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Movie Review: “Holidate” is the Holiday Cheer we Need this Year

Netflix has so graciously brought back the romantic comedy genre with a slew of rom-coms to choose from their library. Just in time for the holiday season, they have treated us with another delightful romance with the new film, “Holidate”.

It’s Christmas Day and Sloane (Emma Roberts) is, once again, being hounded by her family to meet someone and settle down before she gets “too old”; and becomes like her aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth). Instead of listening to her mom, she is inspired by her aunt’s holidate. Susan brings a different man to each holiday event, allowing her to avoid feeling lonely while having no emotional attachment.

After a horrible Christmas, Sloane runs into, Jackson (Luke Bracey), another lonely single looking to date with out the commitment. They soon pledge to be each others’ platonic plus ones for every holiday in the year ahead. The film is as predictable as it sounds and is self-aware of that, pointing out that in every rom-com the two leads don’t have real obstacles. And in the “Holidate”, it’s pretty clear that there is no real issue besides the default “scared of commitment”.

What “Holidate” does offer is two strong romantic leads with great chemistry and hilarious banter. Emma Roberts shows off her comedic chops and Bracey might actually give Chris Hemsworth a run for his money. We all, at some point in time, have felt lonely during the holidays, and a holidate is a fun concept to see played out. It’s entertaining to see these how these two celebrate each occasion together. Who knew there were so many holidays?!

There are some messages you can take away from the film, like don’t let the of fear of getting hurt stand in the way of a potential love. But, you shouldn’t go into this film expecting anything deep. This is more of a raunchy, well-made Hallmark Christmas special. It’s a lighthearted escape that reminds us of how we use to celebrate the holidays before tragic times.

Rating: 4/5

“Holidate” is available on Netflix October 28, 2020.

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Movie Review: “The Sunlit Night” Fails to Shine

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Eirik Evjen

Even Jenny Slate’s quirk and charm can’t help this mess of a movie.

Based on the novel by Rebecca Dinerstein, “The Sunlit Night” follows Frances (Slate), a struggling painter from New York City.  After her boyfriend breaks up with her, she finds out her sister is engaged and her parents are separating. Feeling lost and hopeless, she wants to leave home immediately; and gets an opportunity to paint a barn in Norway in a town where apparently the sun never sets.

Up until this point of the film, you’ve been treated to a funny and witty comedy with a lot of potential. Unfortunately once Frances arrives to Norway, all that potential goes out the window. The audience is left to endure a slow “self-discovery” that is all over the place.

Once Frances is acquainted with her new employer, she meets a few new people. She happens to run into Yasha (Alex Sharp), a Russian-American baker who has come to Norway to give his father a proper Viking funeral. That’s when the film suddenly turns into a “romantic comedy”. I use that term very loosely. In the quiet and rare moments spent between Frances and Yasha, there is no chemistry. There’s not even a spark. This relationship is incredibly forced and doesn’t make much sense. The reasons for why the two even like each other are vague.

Jenny Slate and Alex Sharp star in “The Sunlit Night”

The random, forced comedy of a Viking tour guide (Zach Galifinakis) and Yasha’s cold, absentee mother (Gillian Anderson) didn’t help the story either.

Slate does a fantastic job with the material she is given and the scenery is beautiful, but the “The Sunlit Night” fails to shine. It’s a dim, dull tale. Director David Wnendt seemed to have a great starting point, but didn’t know where to go from there. I still don’t understand the point of the movie, or how the characters evolved by the end of the film. But honestly, I didn’t care enough about any of them.

Rating: 1.5/5

“The Sunlit Night” will be available On Demand July 17.

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Movie Review: “The High Note” & “The Vast of Night”

I’ve got a couple of new film reviews for ya! First is “The High Note”, another mentor/mentee film that makes the most of its’ cast and should hit the right note with its’ audience.

Then there is the new Amazon Studios movie, “The Vast of Night”, which plays as a wonderful homage to “The Twilight Zone”. This film will satisfy that sci-fi itch with suspense, mystery, wonder and nostalgia.

“The High Note” is available on various On Demand platforms May 29.

“The Vast of Night” is available on Amazon Prime May 29.

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Movie Review: “The Half of It” & “Underwater” DVD/Blu-Ray

“The Half of It” is a very interesting take on the classic “Cyrano de Bergerac”. Set in Washington state instead of France and replacing the soldiers and nobles with high school students, “The Half of It” looks like another Netflix winner.

Check out my review of the new Netflix drama and the DVD/Blu-Ray release of “Underwater”.

“The Half of It” is available on Netflix May 1.

“Underwater” is available on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital

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Movie Review: “Little Women”

“Little Women” returns to the screen, this time compliments of Greta Gerwig. The cast is top notch and the production elements, writing and cinematography are stellar, so you won’t go wrong if you choose this one for your holiday break.

Check out the video below to see my full review of the film!

“Little Women” opens in theaters December 25.

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Interview/Review: Trey Edward Shults talks “Waves”

Trey Edward Shults, Writer/Director of “Waves”

“Waves” goes from bad to unbearable within the first hour; however, the second half of the film remarkably heals itself.

Director/writer Trey Edward Shults wrote “Waves” after his critically acclaimed thriller, “It Comes At Night”. He continues to keep our tensions high with his new family drama. It’s a story he explained that, “was inspired from a number of real life experiences, including meeting my girlfriend and Kelvin Harrison Jr.”

Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Alexa Demie in “Waves”

As the film begins we meet Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). He’s a senior in high school who as it all: Popularity, a hot girlfriend (Alexa Demie), and star wrestler. Life at home isn’t too shabby either. His father Ronald (Sterling K. Brown) owns his own construction business, his mother Catharine (Renée Elise Goldsberry) is a counselor, and his sister Emily (Taylor Russell) is quiet and reserved, hiding in the shadow of her brother.

Though Tyler is pretty well off, we come to discover his father is constantly pushing him both physically and mentally. He puts a lot of pressure on Tyler to be the best; pointing out that because the family is African American they don’t have the luxury of being average. So when Tyler learns of his shoulder injury, which would end his wrestling career, he decides to hide it and self-medicate. Matters only get worse when his girlfriend reveals she is pregnant.

You might think you know what happens from there, but you don’t. And you’re going to find out here.

By the second half of the film the family is barely keeping it together, and suddenly we’ve gone from Tyler’s movie to Emily’s. She is even more introverted, and doesn’t seem to have any friends at school. That is until she meets Luke (Lucas Hedges), an awkward, but nice boy who also wrestles.  The film completely shifts in tone as we see love blossom in a steady and beautiful manner. Emily and Luke’s relationship is the cure we need after an unnerving first half. 

Taylor Russell and Lucas Hedges in “Waves”

Shults wanted to essentially split the film in two and show the dichotomy of our lives. “I wanted audiences to see, in it’s structure, separate views from a male and female. How different they handle conflict, and what are their highs and lows,” Shults elaborates.

Both Tyler and Emily continuously use Instagram in a way that make us question our own use of the app. It’s a way to track a significant other’s location, stalk a crush and, of course post lots of pictures. “I was trying to make it real and honest. I don’t have social media anymore, but I can imagine how it would feel to have one. I’ve even followed crushes, but in an appropriate way (Laughs).” explains Shults.

At the core, “Waves” is a film about family. The parents are connected to both Tyler and Emily’s stories, especially their father. Ronald is more invasive in Tyler’s life and almost absent in Emily’s. This raises the question, what is the right balance of a parent’s involvement in there children’s lives? Shults went on to answer, “It’s hard to say what’s the right amount of involvement, but for this movie communication is big. It’s important that parents make their kids feel like they can always come to them for anything.  It sounds easy, but it isn’t.”

As the film comes to an end, a shattered family struggles to put themselves back together. What you witness will make you want to embrace your own family and loved ones. Shults’ hope is that audiences will “connect with the complex characters, and have a lot to think about. And maybe even give them hope in their own lives”

“Waves” is a tough start. But if you allow yourself to stay on this emotional roller coaster, it will be a ride worth taking. 

Rating: 4/5

“Waves” opens in select theater November 27 (Playing at Landmark Magnolia)

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Movie Review: “Late Night”

This week I review “Late Night”, a new film written by and starring Mindy Kaling. Emma Thompson stars a late night talk show host whose on the verge of losing her once successful show. It’s funny, heartfelt, and a comedy everyone should check out.

“Late Night” opens in select theaters June 7 everywhere June 14.

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Movie Review: “Fifty Shades Freed” Brings the Franchise to Sizzling End

It’s been a fun 3 years, but we finally close the book on the provocative “Fifty Shades” franchise.

When we last saw Anna (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) in “Fifty Shades Darker” they were rekindling their romance. Anna started a new job at a publishing company where her creep of a boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), came on to her. While Anna dealt with him, Christian dealt with some troubling ladies from his past. Eventually, the two over came those obstacles and the film ended with the couple getting engaged.

Now we are at the beginning of the end. “Fifty Shades Freed” opens with a montage of Christian and Anna’s wedding followed by what looks like a dream honeymoon in Europe. However, the newlywed’s aren’t in bliss for too long once they find out Jack Hyde is back and pissed at the couple for “ruining his career”. This puts a damper on married life all together, as Christian continues his controlling ways and has Anna continuously followed by his security.

Besides this bigger plot, there is a lot of other stuff going on. This is the negative part of turning a book into a movie, you can never fit everything in. And even with cutting things from the third book, they jammed a lot into only and hour and 45 minutes (the shortest of the 3 films). In a nutshell, Christian and Anna buy a house, another couple gets engaged, Anna gets a job promotion, there are spur of the moment trips, a pregnancy, and of course, lots of sporadic sex.

Oh, and if for some reason you thought the previous films lacked in sex scenes, this one makes up for it and then-some. It seems married life has only made them hotter! They are making love any chance they can, in the car, with ice cream, red room of pain, etc. Though Dornan’s acting is weak, especially in comparison to Johnson’s spot on performance, their sexual chemistry continues to heat up the screen. In a tantalizing scene where Anna is forced to use her safe word, I nearly shouted “Red” myself.

Unfortunately, out of the three films, I had the most problems with “Fifty Shades Freed”. It was by far the most rushed installment and slightly anticlimactic. The film makes you feel like it is building up to a showdown between Jack and Christian, but instead glances over their shocking history and squashes any conflict in a mere 60 seconds.

That being said, “Fifty Shades Freed” is still just as fun as the first two movies and it’s a great “Girls Night Out” flick. And once again, we are treated to an incredible soundtrack that distracts us from whatever nonsense is happening on screen.

“Fifty Shades Freed” has its flaws and by no means is it a “good movie”, but it is a solid end to a ridiculous romance. The story stays true to the books and ultimately, Christian and Anna are given the happy ending all us fans so desperately wanted to see.

Rating: 3/5

“Fifty Shades Freed” hits theaters February 9.

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