Watched, Read, Loved: April 2017

April is the best month for South-Africa. Seriously – we have so many public holidays people are actually nice to each other. I took off a chunk of time as well, and it did me the world of good. I actually got some sleep in, saw my bestie and watched some amazing films. Without further ado, here is my rundown of April 2017.

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Movies:

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Beauty and the Beast (2017): The painful excitement that came when I heard they were doing a live animation of my favorite Disney classic was excruciating. Would it work? Would it fail? The QUESTIONS that plagued me.Additionally, B&B was released in South-Africa later than the rest of the world because of South-Africaitis, and there were conflicting reports to be read. Anyway, grabbing popcorn and sitting down to see this was really wonderful. I liked it, and will watch it again. I had Gaston stuck in my head for a week. I better not hear that tune soon.

One day

One Day (2011): HATED IT.

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Basic Instinct(1992): This is part of my Blindspot 2017 series. This year I am doing remarkably well with it, because Zoë and I watched a bunch of them in December because #besties. Basic Instinct is next on the list and quite the shocker. OMFG my poor eyes.I might never recover.

Anywhere but home (2008): I thought this comedy was quite funny the second time around (I know I’ve seen this before but I can barely remember it). It’s also titled “Four Christmases”. I’ve never understood exactly why some movies get two titles. Anyway, if you can believe that someone like Reese Witherspoon would end up with someone like Vince Vaughn, you can get through the movie. It has some funny moments, and sure they are the typical things you’d expect, but they are funny regardless.

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Twilight: New Moon (2009): I’ve been meaning to blog about Twilight as a set for ages now. I did Twilight (2008) easily, but had a couple of months delay by what succeeds it. New Moon is the most insufferable – both book and movie – but I sat through it eventually.

Eclipse

Twilight: Eclipse (2010): Eclipse is a strong successor and definitely superior to the ghastly New Moon. Edward is still an obsessive stalker, Bella is still pathetic, R. Patz and Kristen Stewart still can’t act. But decisively better than the infuriating New Moon.

Safe Haven (2013): The casting for Nicholas Sparks film is never specified for acting abilities. I guess the author/filmmaker knows his audience too well, and knows if he provides enough pretty people the film will be acceptable to his fans. He’s not wrong. I enjoyed Safe Haven and the acting is really better than the acting in The Lucky One. The kids were cute and the story was okay.

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He’s just not that into you (2009): I always enjoy watching HJNTIY. My brother-in-law did not appreciate us making him watch it though, telling me that it is not also a guy-friendly film as I initially thought.

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Warm Bodies (2013): I just love this film. Nicholas Hoult is a zombie, and when he eats the brains ofTeresa Palmer’s boyfriend, he starts seeing some memories and slowly returns to human form. The cast, led by Hoult, are all quite charming and for a story that shouldn’t work it works really well.

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The DUFF (2015):yes, I watched it again. One of my favorite films at the moment. Such hilarity.lethal weapon

Lethal Weapon 1 (1987) & Lethal Weapon 2 (1989):
It was my first time around watching this buddy-cop series, and I really enjoyed it. The 1980’s were a glorious time to be alive obviously!

Blood wars

Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SO SLOPPY.

chef

Chef (2014): Chef is a film about good food and happy endings, and well deserved of its’ praise. I really quite liked this film!

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Arrival (2016): My review will be up next week. I loved this. Handsdown one of the finest films of 2016.

Drive

Drive (2011): I remember enjoying Drive the first time around, but I really couldn’t remember everything about it. I enjoyed it so much this time too, it is a phenomenal film and some of Gosling’s best work.

The guest

The Guest (2014): This film has a lot of science reasons it works well to the appreciative eye, but I can tell you that I would have loved it without the science too. Gorgeous directing, a solid plot and excellent score, this film is a great film to watch again and again.

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Prisoners (2013): Prisoners currently ranks as my least favorite Villeneuve film. It is on no level a poor film, it was just not my favorite of his. And it is five hundred hours long. *Scientific fact*

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016):

I can watch this movie indefinitely. It is the best!

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Crazy Stupid Love (2011): I definitely need to review this film again – It has been ages since I’ve posted it on my blog. One of the most inoffensive romantic comedies produced in later years, this movie will make you laugh and relate with some character in here.

Nocturnal animals

Nocturnal Animals (2016): This is my new hated film. Gosh, what a spectacular waste of my life. Pretentious bullshit.

 

books

Black-Hills

Black Hills – Nora Roberts

This is a particular favorite book of mine. I enjoy Dr. Lillian Chance – she is passionate about her work in the refuge she built and is smart and cool.

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The Concannon Sisters trilogy – Nora Roberts

While I do enjoy this series of books – Born in Shame, Born in Ice and Born in Fire, they certainly aren’t my favorite of the author. However, her love for Ireland does show when reading this, and I particularly enjoy the description of the scenery.

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Two Broke Girls Season 4 and 5

I’m enjoying myself way too much with this comedy. It shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but I end up really laughing at it.

What did you do in April?

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Movie Review: Burlesque (2010)

Burlesque

Ali Rose (Christina Aguilera) quits her job as a waitress in Iowa and moves to LA to become a performer. Because her manager won’t pay her the rest of her salary, she takes it from the till. Her friend warns her that he will come after her because of it.

After unsuccessfully applying at dance clubs she finds herself at a burlesque club. She is fascinated by the show they put on, and becomes determined to get a job there. Jack (Cam Gigandet) the attractive bartender tells her to ask to speak to Tess (Cher) for a position. Tess is very busy and sends Ali to Sean (Stanley Tucci), who in turn sends her back to Jack to leave her details. She takes matters into her own hands and starts working as a waitress, telling Jack that if she isn’t better than all his waitresses she will leave. She gets to keep her job.

Ali works as a waitress and keeps an eye on the girls, memorizing the routines. After her room gets trashed presumably by her ex-boss, Jack offers Ali his couch until she has the cash for a new place. She accepts, thinking he is gay (because of his eyeliner). He quickly tells her that he is engaged to a Natalie, a girl who is working on a play in New York. When Natalie’s play gets extended he asks Ali to become his roommate until she returns.

One of the dancers Georgia (Julianne Hough) learns she is pregnant and a replacement is needed for her. Ali auditions and convinces Tess and Sean to give her a chance. Nikki (Kristen Bell), the lead singer and bitch in the club is angry because she is jealous and competitive.

Tess and her ex-husband Vince (Peter Gallagher) co-own the club. They are in deep financial problems and the bank is threatening with closing them down. Marcus (Eric Dane) is a business man and frequent visitor of the club who wants to buy them out, but Tess is determined to keep control of the club even if Vince is trying to get her to sell. When Marcus sees Ali dancing he shifts his admiration from Nikki to her and intensifies Nikki’s dislike in Ali.

Sean notices Jack staring at Ali and tells him that she won’t be single forever. Nikki arrives drunk at work for the umpteenth time and Tess tells her that Ali is going on in her place. Ali goes on and Nikki pulls the plugs to embarrass Ali because all the dancers lip-sync the songs. As Sean is lowering the curtains Ali starts to sing and she is a raging success. Tess tells the dancers they are rewriting the show around Ali’s talent and Nikki just gets angrier about everything. Ali starts seeing Marcus socially and Jack knows it is his fault for not making a move earlier. Nikki pics a fight with Tess and she resigns and tells Tess that she slept with Vince the night after their honeymoon ended. Tess smashes Nikki’s window with a crowbar in anger.

At Georgia’s wedding, Jack fights with Natalie over the phone when she extends her stay in New-York once again. He tells Ali that he broke off the engagement and gets drunk. They sleep together afterward. The next day a furious Natalie (Dianna Agron) shows up to find them in bed together. Jack claims they broke it off but Natalie insists that she doesn’t just get dumped that easily over a phone. Jack asks Ali to leave the flat so he and Natalie can fight in peace and she leaves, very angry with him. She heads to Sean to cool off and accepts a dinner invitation with Marcus when he calls. At Marcus’ house she notices the set of buildings he plans to build on the ground where the Burlesque is. She tells him that he is wrong and leaves, and remembers something he told her previously – “air rights” – which means you buy the empty space above a building so that nothing can be built above a certain height. Ali gives the idea to Tess and they go to the CEO of the company that is building flats in front of the Burlesque club claiming beautiful views. They get them to buy the air rights on top of Burlesque and Tess has enough cash to settle her debts and buy Vince out.

Nikki shows up a few days later to apologize and admit she never slept with Vince. Tess accepts her apology and takes her back into the club. Nikki and Ali don’t make peace but acknowledges each other’s existence. Jack finds Ali and asks for her forgiveness and that tells her it is definitely over between him and Natalie. They reconcile and hey give her the song he finished “Show Me How You Burlesque” and she and the dancers perform it at the club.

Rating: 5.5/10

Burlesque was enjoyable but not spectacular.

The movie is a B-star all-star cast with people who are busy making it in Hollywood. The more things I watch the more I see how Julianne Hough climbed the ladder. Her acting has definitely increased in the last four years but I enjoyed her as Georgia, the girl who found happiness when she didn’t think she deserved it.

The movie was something that went aiming to be Moulin Rouge and never fully got there. Firstly, Baz Luhrman wasn’t involved. I think of all the directors out there he is the only one with a heart artistic enough to make musicals properly work on the big screen. Secondly, the lead cast (Cher and Christina Aguilera) are not as good as Kidman or McGregor – although both have significantly better voices. Thirdly, the script wasn’t that good and the punch lines and sarcasm not delivered with conviction – it seemed terribly rehearsed. Christina Aguilera debuted as an actress in Burlesque, and she will never be Oscar worthy, but she isn’t a complete hopeless case. Her voice is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. The woman gives me goosebumps when she sings. Cher was distinctive and entertaining but I don’t find her a good actress. She did well as Tess, a faded star who is determined to keep what she dearly loves. I liked her stubbornness to not sell her club.

The movie had this one gaping plot hole that left me frustrated. Ali runs away from the bar she works at in Iowa, taking all the money she is owed and another waitress warns her that the manager will find her and make her pay. Her apartment is later trashed but it is never really clear that it was the guy from the bar. So did he really let her get away with everything?

The more I see of Cam Gigandet (what is with the weird surnames in Hollywood these days?!) the more I like him. Not just because of his looks which is mighty fine, but he seems to have a definite charm. He was hilarious in Easy A and played James in Twilight very well. He wore a lot of eyeliner in Burlesque as bartender slash musician. I completely understood Ali wondering about him being straight there for a bit.

Stanley Tucci is always so much fun to watch. I love him in everything. He is in the Hunger Games (excellent), the Devil Wears Prada (Really good), and he plays a mindboggling straight character in Easy A (I don’t care if he is straight or not, he is just always cast as a gay man). I always find him true to his character and he always gives an in-depth portrayal no matter what.

The costumes were spectacular. I thought the movie gave great attention to detail with the outfits and how every dancer’s was different but worked together.

Only worth watching if you enjoy musicals.

Movie Review: Safe Haven (2013)

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The movie’s opening scene shows a young woman (Julianne Hough) fleeing a house holding a bloody knife. She buys a bus ticket, now with short blond hair and leaves the station. A man is shown flashing a police badge and searching buses for her, but she manages to avoid detection. When she arrives in Southport, North Carolina, she introduces herself as Katie and gets a job as a waitress. She buys a rundown house on the edge of town, and meets her neighbour Jo (Cobie Smulders) and they eventually becomes friends. Katie meets Alex Weatley (Josh Duhamel), the convenience store owner, and his two children, Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) and Josh (Noah Lomax). Alex was widowed when his wife died of cancer a few years back, and Josh has some troubles because he was old enough when she passed away to remember and miss his mother. Even though it is obvious that Alex likes Katie, she seems to thaw very reluctantly when it comes to him, but it is impossible to not love Lexie.

After driving Katie home with her groceries Alex notices that she doesn’t have transport. He leaves her a bike with a basket, intending to simplify her life, but she gets angry about it. Jo gently points out that Katie overreacted and she apologizes to Alex afterwards. A few days later they head to the beach on a family trip and later on Alex and Katie start going on dates together. They are soon dating and even Josh starts to enjoy the new addition to his life.

Meanwhile, the cop who was looking for Katie at the bus stop, Kevin Tierney (David Lyons) is still obsessed with finding her. He releases reports saying that she is wanted for a connection to a murder, and the police force in Southport puts up her picture in their police station too. Alex notices the picture and confronts Katie. She tries to tell him the truth but he is horrified that he endangered his children. She nearly leaves but he arrives in time to stop her. She tells him that Kevin is her abusive husband, and that she fled Boston after he nearly killed her. Alex promises that he won’t allow anything to happen to her. Kevin’s boss confronts him with the notice for Katie’s arrest, and discovers that the water bottle Kevin always carries contains vodka. He is asked to hand in his service weapon and badge. Kevin is sure that his neighbor helped Katie flee and starts watching her house obsessively. He breaks in and listens to a phone message where Katie tells her friend that she is okay. Kevin writes down the phone number and realizes that Katie is in Southport. He starts driving there.

On the day of a parade in town Kevin arrives. He is stupendously drunk. He heads into the convenience store and encounters Lexi. She lies to him when he shows her a photo of Katie. He searches the crowd and sees Katie kissing Alex and he becomes very angry. Later that night, Josh and Alex leave Katie and Lexi at home when they go help light the annual fireworks. Katie falls asleep and dreams of Jo telling her Kevin is in town. She wakes up and finds him downstairs. Scared for Lexi, she leads him outside. She begs him to leave town and he pretends to walk away. Katie puts Lexi in the highest room in the house for her protection and tries to contact the police. She sees Kevin dousing the house with petrol and rushes out in time to stop him lighting the house. She throws the lighter in the water but a spark from the fireworks set the house alight with Lexi in it. She starts struggling with Kevin, and Alex sees the fire and Lexi stuck in the house and rushes back. He climbs onto the roof and breaks a window to get Lexi out. Katie and Kevin are struggling and he tries to shoot her but she turns the gun on him, killing him.

Days later, Alex promises Josh that they will rebuild the house. He gives a letter to Katie that his wife wrote to his future wife and she reads it. Upon reading it she realizes that Jo is Alex’s dead wife and that a ghost has been visiting her all the time she’s been in Southport.

Rating: 6.5/10

So I read the book, which naturally meant I had to see the movie. It took me ages to get to actually watching Safe Haven, which pretty strange considering how much I love schmaltzy movies and books (not even ashamed)

Save Haven was a good adaption to the book. Alex didn’t have prematurely grey hair, but I thought it silly in the book so it wasn’t in the least offensive in the movie either. I am sure that Katie goes from blonde to brown, not the other way around in the book, but can be wrong, but that isn’t really an issue either. Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough had some good chemistry going between them which is obviously very important in a romance film. The kids cast were pretty damn adorable.

Rotten Tomatoes thought that Safe Haven sucked, but I have to disagree. Movies shouldn’t always be made to be critically acclaimed. I think it is important to produce movies that appeals to the general public too – that is how it becomes a financial success.

Safe Haven was based on the bestselling book by Nicholas Sparks with the same name. The movie stayed true to the book and that really impressed me. Duhamel and Hough have really good chemistry between them and they made a really good couple on screen. I’ve seen Duhamel in a few films but this is the first time I’ve seen Julianne Hough in a movie where her acting was actually good (before Rock of Ages, which I thought was a bit floppy, I thought her claim to fame was dating Ryan Seacrest – which isn’t something I would be proud of FYI).

The best performance however needs to go to David Lyons as Kevin Tierney. I could not have cast a better actor or thought of how he was portrayed in any way. His descent into madness was excellently done.

Have you seen the movie? Read the book? Let me know what you think!

Movie Review: Rock of Ages (2012)

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Oklahoma native Sherrie Christian leaves her hometown for Los Angeles to become a famous singer. It is 1987. Drew Boley, a barback at the Bourbon Room, meets Sherrie as her luggage gets stolen. He tries to help her, but fails, and luckily manages to get her a job at the Bourbon Room as a waitress. The two fall headily in love.

Dennis Dupree, the club’s owner, is trying to find the money to pay the club’s outstanding taxes. He and his assistant, Lonny Barnett, decide to book Stacee Jaxx, a famous rock star, to get their club out of trouble.

On opening night, Dennis learns that the opening act has cancelled its appearance, and Sherrie convinces him to use Drew’s band, Wolfgang van Colt.

Constance Sack, a reporter for the Rolling Stone Magazine, is scheduled to interview Stacee before the show, and they nearly have sex. She leaves, and Drew sees Sherrie helping Stacee tie his pants, believing the worst. He breaks her heart, and after his successful opening gig signs up with Paul Gill, Stacee’s slimy manager. Both Drew and Stacee resign from their jobs at the Bourbon Room, and Dennis is back in financial trouble after Paul takes their earnings for the night.

The Rolling Stone’s article on Stacee reveals that Paul took the Bourbon Room’s earning for the night, and Stacee fires him. Meanwhile Drew is forced to leave his rocker image behind, adopting a humiliating boy-band look to suit the market.

Meanwhile, Paul has lied to Dennis and tells him that Stacee will perform at his club if Z Guyeezz, Drew’s new band, gets to be the opening act. Stacee learns that he is supposed to perform at the club when he calls the Rolling Stone magazine to profess his love for Constance. Sherrie tells Drew that she never slept with Stacee, and is planning to return to her hometown.

At the Bourbon Room, Drew’s band gets booed by the rocker crowd, and he leaves the stage to reconcile with Sherrie when she shows up. Stacee and Constance end up together, and the two managers of the club, Dennis and Lonny, accept their love for each other.

Rating: 5/10

As I blog more, I find that I am much more critical than I used to be. Last year this time I would have loved this frilly movie, scoring it at around 8. However, things (and I) change. The movie was fun, but terribly predicting. The actors didn’t reach their full potential. The superstar cast includes Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, and relative new comers Julianne Hough (Footloose 2) and Diego Boneta (Pretty Little Liars). With so many credentials under this cast’s cloak, it fell sadly flat. The only truly spectacular performance was by Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx.

Questions while watching Tom Cruise:

How can he be 51 years old?

Who did he sell his soul too to remain this good looking and YOUNG?

How come he hasn’t starred in a musical before – because he performed amazingly.

The movie also hosted comedian Russell Brand as Lonny, and as usual his performance was desperate. Man, I just want to dump that man in a bath tub. He needs a scrub more urgently than Robert Pattison. People think he is genuinely funny, but all that makes him funnier is his accent and dirty hair. Eugh.

Diego Boneta performed well, although not as good as he was in PLL. I enjoy watching his face (yeah) so I am looking forward to seeing him in other things. Julianne Hough (most notably dating Ryan Seacrest) performed really well. It is good to see her growing into an accomplished actress.

I would recommend this movie to anyone searching for funny, light hearted musical.