Movie Review: The Mockingjay Part II (2015)

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Plot: As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Rating: 7.5/10

Mockingjay Part II had a lot to live up to. The not so stellar opinion of Mockingjay Part I probably increased the pressure significantly. Did it live up to the hype? You will have to go see it to decide for yourself, but I liked it well enough. It doesn’t come close to disrupting what I consider my favourite films of 2015, but I found the movie well done, very sad and a good end to the franchise.

What is it about this film series that makes it much more palatable than other Dystopian dramas? I really enjoyed the Divergent books but the movie adaptions run great risk of falling into complete obscurity. The Hunger Games, however, does not run this risk. Why? Firstly, the cast is stellar. Secondly, the directing is spot on and I think a great visualization of what Suzanne Collins thought. Lastly? The story itself carries resonance in a world plagued by terror and war. No one can possibly watch the Hunger Games series and realise that no, we aren’t sending people into an arena to fight to death, but that it is very close to our every day of warfare.

I considered Mockinjay Part I fine, much against popular opinion, but Part II is definitely better than its’ predecessor. It is mostly due to the fact that the last part of the book has all the action – part I had the unfortunate task of making a movie out of a very dull and depressing part of a very thin book.

The biggest flaw in the film is most certainly that the watchers who didn’t read the book will be confused in many places – even I, who did read the book, thought that the movie was confusing at places.

It also feels rushed – the film is short for a last film and there is so much action that a few breather scenes – something I rarely recommend – should have been included.

My favourite part? Josh Hutcherson. I am a full out Gale Hawthorne fan, but Josh Hutcherson was born to play the sweet Peeta Mellark – that incredibly kind person who managed to keep something of himself despite the fact that he had gone through enough to destroy kindness once and for all. He broke my heart in places, and watching him struggle through the lies the Capitol had fed him was really very painful.

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The best scene? Definitely those fucking mutts. Pardon my French there, but what WERE those things? I was terrified. I expect them to show up in my dreams soon. WTF. And the death there that supposed to happen? It did, and it was as terrible as in the books.

Kudos to Jennifer Lawrence for what she does for Katniss Everdeen. Say what about how annoying she is on the red carpet, because she is, Jennifer Lawrence brings so much character to that selfish girl in the books. You get to understand that Katniss is going mad – she’s been through too much and has seen so many horrors that she is not stable and she has lost most of her kindness.

I am slowly becoming a big fan of Liam Hemsworth as well – not near to the admiration I have for older brother Chris, but quite a lot. I think that he did very well in here and acted his best since the start of the series. I do wish that they could have included something about what happens to him in the end – the book leaves that out as well, but I think the movies could have concocted something.

There are a few changes between book and movie, but as nothing major is altered it isn’t something I would complain about just yet.

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I think I am always going to consider Catching Fire the best of the series, but Mockinjay Part II is a good end to a very good franchise. It is a bit sad to say good-bye, and if you have no clue what to expect in the movie, just be aware that Suzanne Collins made J.K. Rowling look like a merciful goddess who spared all your favourite characters from a grizzly death. That is all I’m going to say. I hope you enjoy it, and can speak fondly of a great franchise, as I am planning to do.

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Movie Review: Jurassic Park II (1997)

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Plot: A research team is sent to the Jurassic Park Site B island to study the dinosaurs there while another team approaches with another agenda.

Rating: 6.5/10

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I’m building up to the release of Jurassic World (It’s already been released, but I’m always a few days behind with everything) and I really hoped this would be at least nearly as good as the first Jurassic Park. It really isn’t, though. Where Jurassic Park has a storyline that runs well throughout, this one never gets running and it really feels as it the story changed half way through because they got bored with the original idea. The kids in the first movie were moderately tolerable (I am NOT a fan of putting midgets into movies that aren’t about midgets) but this time around it feels calculated and insincere. Julianne Moore plays a character that supposedly knows how to be quiet and track animals and she manages to make such noise in her first moments on screen that I would have stomped on her if she was a T-Rex. I loved seeing a very young Vince Vaughn (and miraculously he kept his but covered in this movie!) and Jeff Goldblum returning as Dr. Ian Malcolm. Those were pretty much the highlights for me, because the dinosaurs were old stories this time around and the story didn’t mesh particularly well. It is a significant comedown from the first movie but it is not horrible (I mean, dinosaurs remain cool even if the story is shitty). I liked the preservation of nature route they attempted to take with the story and how they showed how greedy human kind is. I do hope the last movie is better though!!

Movie Review: Children of Men (2006)

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“I can’t really remember when I last had any hope, and I certainly can’t remember when anyone else did either. Because really, since women stopped being able to have babies, what’s left to hope for?”

Plot: In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.

Rating: 5/10

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This movie is so much shit. The fact that it has a high rating and Oscar nods just goes to show that people often like things because other people said it would be good. The cast is so shitty – they irritated me senseless and had no acting chops whatsoever. The camera work is horrendous – the constant shaking made me feel whiplashed. I thought the story fell flat and that was depressing because it had an amazing premise – I often think that human extinction is a real possibility with great drops in fertility. They gave no information about the global infertility and miscarriages – it is something doctors and scientists would immediately explore when it became evident. The end, about the only thing that could have saved the situation, was unsatisfying and frustrating – no sign of the promised land, just some vague water scenes. I called every single “plot twists” miles before it happened. The only remotely touching scene involved people hearing the cry of the baby for the first time in eighteen years. It had me thinking and if the rest of the movie had been like that it would have had some redeeming qualities. This movie was really disappointing and it is not something I would ever watch again or recommend.

Movie Review: The Seventh Son (2015)

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IMDb plot synopsis: Young Thomas is apprenticed to the local Spook to learn to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

Rating: 6/10

We went to the movies without a clear idea what we wanted to watch, and this was our only choice because Best of Me was sold out (hey, the first few months of movies are always slow and no matter how formulaic, a Nicholas Sparks adaption is just soppy enough for girlsnight).

This is definitely not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t that bad either. I felt at some stages they weren’t sure where they were heading with the movie, and it wasn’t always clear what was going on.

What I liked:

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Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin: JM makes a good supernatural character. She looked very fierce and powerful, gave a good performance and her costume was amazing.

Ben Barnes as Tom: I haven’t seen this cutie pie in anything for ages. I think I’ve only seen him in the Chronicles of Narnia, the second one, which is sad because I think he has viable talent that needs exploring.

Kit Harrington: He wasn’t in long, but I really do like him and am excited that he is doing more stuff than GoT, because it would be crap if he disappeared should that show ever finish (touch wood, please)

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Mother Malkin’s lieutenants were well done even if most of them died ridiculously easy.

What I didn’t like:

All the cheese: That relationship between Tom and Alice was so cheesy from the start, and it wasn’t the good kind either. Cheese can be enjoyable when done right, but it wasn’t in here, and I think my lost Best of Me movie would have had less cheese in it.

How easy it was to kill the witches: These witches are centuries old, they are feared with good reason and legends surround them, and yet in the end Tom kills Mother Malkin by throwing a knife at her. Hmmm, why did no one throw a knife at her the first time she was captured?

Jeff Bridges almost tries to be a Gandalf like character: If someone can back me on this I would appreciate it but Jeff’s performance – the way he spoke, the rambling he would do, the surprising agility and strength and his general behavior smacked of Gandalf.

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This is why you should take your makeup off before going to bed. 

Overall, neither the worst or best movie ever, but this is definitely secondary to all other things in the fantasy/epic genre. If you need to pass a few hours relatively easy, this is probably not a bad idea to watch then.

Movie Review: The Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

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Katniss: “I have a message for President Snow: You can torture or bombed us, blasted our district to the grounds. But do you see that ? Fire Is Catching… If we burn, you burn with us!”

Plot synopsis: With the Games now destroyed and in pieces, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, now end up in the so thought “destroyed” District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the “Mockingjay” and the symbol of rebellion for the people (IMDb)

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Rating: 8/10

Although not as entertaining or jaw dropping as Catching Fire, I really did enjoy Mockinjay Part 1. It didn’t contain so many filler scenes as I thought it would. I consider the “filler” scenes really as part of the story here – remember, The Hunger Games is written in first person so it is only natural that there would be parts where the other characters showed what they were up to, because it wouldn’t have been in the book. The movie ended where I thought it would – the only place that makes sense when you read the book and realise what happens. It is also a wonderful, true adaption – I really didn’t catch much changed, and if it was, it wasn’t significant. A major plus is that the movie didn’t feel stretched out or too much, and I was worried about that. There wasn’t too much real action, but the first part of the book is mostly sadness and not guns blazing. The uprisings in the Districts particularly touched me, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of that. The bombing at the trees and the hydro electrical plant gave me such chills. It will always move me when people rise against injustice. I liked that they included the Hanging Tree song; it was beautiful, chilling and authentic.

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Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) has so much screen time and I was EEK about it. He is responsible for saving so many lives after the bombing of District 12, but he is still carrying scars from what he saw, a weight on his shoulders to be a proper soldier to the District that saved him and pain because he knows that Katniss will never return his feelings. Liam isn’t as charming as his dear brother Chris (you may have heard of him), but I do like him as an actor and as Gale. He does slightly resemble Katniss, something that was essential in the books to pass them off as cousins for his safety, and he is very much as I would have imagined him if I ever read HG before the movies. Just as a note, I would have chosen Gale over Peeta any time of day and think Katniss is rotten for playing with Gale’s feelings just because she is unsure about her own. Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence have enough chemistry to make this relationship very intriguing.

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Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is in the hands of the Capitol and being tortured for his possible role in what happened in the Arena. He keeps sending out anti uprising propaganda, and is not the most beloved person in District 13. However, Katniss knows it is not who he really is, and notices his deterioration.

Like I just said, I wouldn’t personally choose Peeta over Gale, but I love the character. He is so sweet and loyal, and just wants to love Katniss and have her safe. Josh Hutcherson does well because he has a kindly face that seems to smile even when he isn’t, and he impressed me again in here with his portrayal. It is eery how physically worsens, and how bad he eventually looks.

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Sam Claflin impressed me as Finnick Odair. He isn’t the biggest part of the series, and I loved how his role stayed relative to that in the book – there, but not overwhelming. Claflin does the portrayal great, because I really felt his intense pain at knowing Annie was at the mercy of the Capitol. I understand everyone was upset with the cutting of Sam’s underwear scene, because it would have been fun and would have lightened up the movie a bit, but I think most of Finnick’s scenes were well executed.

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Donald Sutherland as President Snow was AMAZING. He is incredibly well cast and he is chilling and really charismatic at the same time. Snow loves playing games with Katniss – it seems as time as the uprisings in the Districts are insignificant to him compared to the continuing fight he has with Katniss.

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Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, didn’t plague me as much as in the books. Lawrence makes her real, shows that the thorny exterior hides a terrified interior. The books sometimes only reflect her selfish behaviour and demands, but Katniss in the movie makes you understand that she is a product of her surroundings – maybe her indecisiveness to choose between Peeta and Gale isn’t greed but a desperate attempt to have more things to love and to be loved by. Not right at all – but sympathy can be had.

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Margaery Tyrell certainly looks different!

Lastly, I thought that Boggs, Cressida and the entire crew was well done, Elizabeth Banks shined once again as Effie Trinket, and Julianne Moore as Alma Coin was also a good choice. Woody Harrelson continues his role as Haymitch Abernathy, who is sober under the stringent rules of District 13, and that doesn’t make him nice at all. I like that he is always the one who tells Katniss where to get off, because she really deserves it.

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Recommendation: Hell’s yeah!

Word of advice to those who haven’t read the books yet for Mockingjay Part Two: Suzanne Collins didn’t pull a Veronica Roth, but she got REALLY trigger happy at the end of the series. #cries

Movie Review: Carrie (2013)

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Based on the Stephen King novel, Carrie tells the story about a seventeen year old girl, Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) who lives with her very scary religious fantasist of a mother (played excellently by Julianne Moore).

Carrie is removed from society, shunned on the basis of the rules her mother enforces on her. She has no friends, wears clothes that don’t fit into modern society, and has no clue to what it even feels like to be normal. She doesn’t want this, but it is hard to rebel against a mother who locks you in a small closet for hours if you disobey her.

Carrie’s miserable life becomes worse when she gets her first period after gym class in the showers. The teenage girls lose their heads and follow the orders of Chris (Portia Doubleday), the school bully, and starts throwing Carrie with tampons. The coach (Judy Greer) shows up and help Carrie recover some dignity and modesty, and no one notices the one light explode in the showers, or no one thinks much of it.

Carrie is punished by her mother for having her first period and spends some time in the closet, and when the door gets a crack in Carrie seems to become aware that she has some form of magic ability, and the following day she starts researching what it might be, trying to ignore the ridiculing she is subjected to.

Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), one of the tampon throwers is feeling horrible about herself. She doesn’t know what came over her, because she really isn’t such a bad girl. Coach punishes the girls by giving them rigorous training as punishment, and everyone but Chris does it, and when she yells at the girls to side with her, not even Sue does it because they know how wrong they were. Chris is expelled from school and banned from Prom, and vows revenge on everyone, including Carrie.

Sue is still feeling horrible about what she did and decides that Carrie deserves one normal, happy night, to go to prom with a handsome guy. Sue convinces her boyfriend Tommy (Anse lElgort) to take Carrie, and he is reluctant, but agrees to do so because Sue is beating herself up horribly about it. Tommy asks and Carrie naturally thinks it is a trap, but she is convinced eventually by Tommy that his offer is sincere.

Back at home, Carrie’s mom freaks out, sure that Tommy wants to defile her daughter. Carrie’s powers has now progressed immensely, and through her telekinesis she starts controlling her mother, and says that she will go to prom.

Prom night arrives, with Chris planning revenge, and Carrie unaware of it. Will Carrie be able to survive yet another embarrassment at school? What will she do to Chris when she is thrown with pig’s blood? Is Carrie, already unstable, capable of controlling her powers under such strain?

Rating: 7/10

I watched this movie to see how the adaption went since I read the iconic King novel sometime last year. I thought that it was rather decently done, and although there were some minor details that were changed, it didn’t deduct from the whole story.

I really pitied Carrie. This girl had so much against her, and that particular horror in the shower would have cracked any girl. She had no support at home and her mother was a lunatic, and she had no friends to even help her. Her eventual revenge on the school felt like justice and especially on Chris – who might just make it into the famed hall of asses of all time. Moretz did well as Carrie and I think it might be the first time where she didn’t irritate me senseless. I didn’t catch anything of her characteristic snottiness in this movie and she seemed genuinely unstable as Carrie is supposed to be.

I do think that Chris could have been better developed. The movie didn’t really show how awful, cruel and spoiled she is. Also, I thought the movie Sue Snell was better than the book version – she is somewhat condescendingly written I’ve perceived.

Ansel Elgort is really a very cute guy deservedly on the rise. He was perfect as Tommy – capturing the high school popular jock who isn’t a bad kid (a bit of a moron, but not bad) and on the way to becoming a good man.

Recommendation: not too much guts and gore to put you off bacon for weeks, so you can watch it for some horror street cred.

Movie review: Crazy, Stupid Love (2011)

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Directed by: Glen Ficarra and John Requa

Cal Weaver (Steve Carell), a middle aged man with a fondness for ugly jeans, gets the shock of his life when he hears that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) is leaving him and that she slept with a co-worker, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Devastated, he moves out to his own apartment. Soon he is going to a bar every night, where he complains loudly to his sad life.

That is where he meets Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Good looking, womanizing and charming, Jacob decides to take Cal under his wing and save him from eternal loneliness. Soon, Cal becomes well dressed, well-spoken and charming as well. His wife is shocked with his sudden change, and she has already started to doubt her decision to leave him. Cal and Emily see each other at a parent-teacher conference and things go great until he realises that his son’s teacher is Kate (Marisa Tomei), the first woman he seduced in the bar. Kate does not take rejection well and starts yelling at him in front of everyone, embarrassing them all.

Jacob is exceptional in the art of seducing woman, but he isn’t able to seduce Hannah (Emma Stone). His advances make no impression on her, and she rebuffs him even though her friend tells her she is crazy for doing it. Emma, a recent law school graduate, is dating Richard (Josh Groban), who is very pompous. When she passes the bar exam, she thinks he wants to propose but he just offers her a partnership in the firm, telling her that he isn’t on the marriage level. It makes her realize what a douchebag he is and she breaks up with him in spectacular fashion. She heads over to the bar she met Jacob, kisses him, and he takes her to his place. Not for lack of trying, they don’t sleep together, but spend the night talking and laughing. They start dating, and Cal and Jacob’s relationship drifts apart.

Meanwhile, Cal’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with an older teenager – the girl who babysits him Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). Nothing she does will make him understand that she isn’t interested. Robbie has absolutely no chance because Jessica has a crush on Cal – to which he is completely oblivious to – but it is very strong. She takes matters into her own hands by taking naked pictures of herself with the intent to send it to Cal, but her parents catches her and all hell breaks loose. Her father is justifiably enraged and unfortunately thinks that Cal is a pedophile, and he heads over to the Weaver house to sort him out.

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Cal realizes that the demise of his marriage is not only Emily’s fault, but that he also had a part in it. He makes a mini golf set in his garden and gets his children to help him out fix his marriage. All is going well until their eldest daughter – Hannah – shows up with her new boyfriend Jacob. Cal tells her that Jacob is scum, and she does what all daughters do – and ignores her father. To make matters worse, David Lindhagen and Jessica’s dad shows up and a massive fight breaks loose.

The exasperated cops eventually sort everything out and reprimand all of them, but Cal’s life is once again in pieces. Will he and Emily ever reconcile? Can Jacob convince Cal that Hannah made him change?

Rating: 8/10

Miracles can happen – as proven in SCL. It is romantic, it is a comedy, so it is worthy of being called a romantic-comedy. Most movies only manage one of the two – and most often it ends up as a mushy romantic movie with lame attempts at jokes.

Steve Carell as Cal Weaver:

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I was pleasantly surprised at Steve Carell’s performance. I am usually not a fan – I don’t watch the stuff he acts in (stupid comedy) but as Cal Weaver he managed to convince me that he has some credibility as an actor. Cal begins as this sad, generic home dad who has forgotten why he loves his wife and who he is. Through the help of Jacob, he lives to his true potential – attractive enough to get girls and kind enough to keep them.

Ryan Gosling as Jacob Palmer:

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Deliciously good. He is already a good actor, but he was such a good choice for Jacob. He is sarcastic, funny, charming and intelligent in here. He shows that falling in love can change a man and make him become a real man. There is some real chemistry between him and Emma Stone, and that certainly contributed towards the success of the film.

Julianne Moore as Emily Weaver:

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As the lady who is going through a midlife crisis, who went and watched a Twilight movie on her own and who managed to get through a teenage pregnancy, Emily is a funny and yet inspiring lady. I’ve always enjoyed watching Julianne Moore in movies – she is very graceful and seems to live scandal free. She and Cal shows that even the greatest love goes through a bad crisis and with the right attitude can survive.

Emma Stone as Hannah Weaver:

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Her relation to the Weavers was excellently concealed until the right time and was brilliant to have been done so. I think she is amazingly funny and talented, equipped with hilarious facial expressions and attitude. Her break-up with Richard – done by the surprisingly hilarious Josh Groban – was very funny and he deserved what he got. Her initial dismissal of Jacob was awesome – it cut him down to size, established her dignity and set a standard where she could date him with confidence later.

Overall, it is a great movie that will also be enjoyable to people who don’t enjoy rom-coms. For one, there are no silly romantic gestures that will never happen in real life. Secondly, it is ridiculously funny. Thirdly, the cast is solid and able to act.

The only things I didn’t like were Analeigh Tipton as Jessica Riley. I seriously am disliking her right now –that ridiculous mouth and bad acting abilities tells me the new Michelle Trachtenberg has arrived, and Marisa Tomei, who I’ve never understood what the hype is about.

The ridiculous debate about the pronunciation of David Lindhagen was hilarious, Jacob’s fantastic reaction to meeting him even when he himself was fighting with Cal, how David was a relatively innocent person in the events (even though he slept with another man’s wife) and how he was involved in the fight in Emily’s poor garden.

Finally, it is one of my favorite movies in the genre. As I am writing this I can’t really recall a movie I like more in the dodgy rom-com area.

Go give it a try!

5 Things Friday: Five romantic movies you have to watch

Happy Friday!

While you are reading this, I am probably running around like a headless chicken – my sister is getting married tomorrow. Many congratulations, sister and very-soon brother-in-law! May you have happiness and love in abundance for the rest of your lives. I am so proud of both of you.

Here is my installment of Five things Friday, and keeping with the theme of lurrrvee, Five Favorite Romantic movies I love and think you should watch.

Movie One: Crazy, Stupid Love

Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in this movie. Usually star studded films can steer horribly wrong, but I really liked this one. It had a few surprising twists and turns, and managed to be both funny and serious at times.

Movie Two: Dirty Dancing

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Patrick Swayze dancing. ‘nuff said.

Movie Three: Letters to Juliet

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I think this movie is seriously underrated. Amanda Seyfried is one of my favorite actresses (it may be because she is one of the only young Hollywood stars not acting out right now) and she is wonderful in this touching romantic film about finding lost love, and how you can achieve something if you never stop believing.

Movie Four: 10 Things I hate about you

This movie is one of my all-time favorites. Heath Ledger as a teen? It is hilarious to see 90’s high school kids as well.

Movie 5: PS I love you

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Prepare the tissues. I cry every single time when I watch it. Maybe it is only because Gerard Butler dies. But it is still excruciatingly sad.