Movie Review: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

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Plot: An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0834001/

Rise of the Lycans is perhaps to Underworld what Tokyo Drift is to the Fast and The Furious (although not that bad). It took a risk by removing their main audience draws – Seline and Michael. Rise of the Lycans is set in long long ago where we finally get to see why Lucian embarked on his vengeful path against Viktor (Bill Nighy).

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Casting Rhona Mitra as Sonja was obviously a designed and successful choice. It is mentioned in the first film that Viktor was unable to kill Seline because she reminded him so much of his daughter, and comparing the two, both on personality and on looks I agree with Viktor – they really do share similarities.

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Michael Sheen has never struck me as a man with any appeal, and yet as Lucian I was not immune to his charms. He lost that leery look that I associate with Sheen for his work (mostly as the icky Aro in Twilight) as Lucian, for which I thanked him.

The film has its’ own version of some political commentary with the harrowing conditions the lycans are enslaved by. It is cruel and inhumane, and if there was any misconception that Viktor was a “good” vampire left, this film serves as final proof that he likely had it coming to him.

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Although not part of the main story I enjoyed Rise of the Lycans. It is probably my third favorite overall. The film at least maintains its gritty and sexy feel, something the following films never quite managed to achieve as of yet.

Rating: 7/10

 

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Movie Review: Underworld Evolution (2006)

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Plot:Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

When films like Evolution gets hated on online I am always quite surprised. This said trashed film and it isn’t nearly as horrible as it is made out to be. The entire Underworld franchise is garbage rated on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, but here’s the kicker: it’s actually not that cheesy, it is quite dark and violent and the history between the lycans and vampires are well thought out. Is there some sort of secret society in the entertainment industry that decides to trash things for reasons unknown? Oh wait, that’s the Academy right?

Continuing immediately after the events in Underworld, Seline and Michael narrowly escape after her killing the vampire elder Viktor (Bill Nighy). Seline hopes by awakening Viktor’s brother and last remaining vampire elder Marcus (Tony Curran), she will be able to save her life and Michael’s life. But even though Marcus and Viktor have a long line of dispute between them, Marcus is furious to find his brother dead and sets out on his path of retribution. He is terrifying as some sort of hybrid, and they have a dangerous road to survival set out to them. A whole lot of other things also occur and in it is more insight into the lycan and vampire history.

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Evolution remains dark, sexy and violent. It is not so much different from the first film. We are still following the gorgeous Seline and the gorgeous Michael, and we are treated to some sexy time between them. It was a little risqué, much more than the usual amount generally applied in mainstream films, but it continues to suit the tone of the series and stops just short of being icky.

More history is given about both species and I enjoyed that. I’m not sure whether there was a real point to bring in a father figure of Markus and Viktor and explaining all that sordid history, but at least it ultimately makes Seline able to walk in the sun.

At the end of the film all I wanted is Michael and Seline to be together and safe. That wish is mostly granted. It still ends with some depressing voice overs, but for the most part we are left with our favorite couple in a relatively safe future.

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Underworld Evolution is enjoyable, gritty, oddly romantic and with a lot of sexy Undertones. I’d give my left pinky toe to be built like Seline, and I wouldn’t mind dating Michael either, hybrid or not.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Plot: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

Nocturnal Animals is self-indulgent, narcissistic bullshit. It is also incredibly dull. I’m surprised it got such a good feedback – I watched it specifically because of said good feedback. Instead I watched some weird shit for two hours without a proper ending. For a film written and directed by a fashion designer the main character spent the majority of the film with lipstick that didn’t suit her features. It is a small thing, but it made me hate this film even more.

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The acting is the best part of Nocturnal Animals but it isn’t enough to save the film. Jake Gyllenhaal is persistent in his mission for me to like him, and so far he is winning. I’ve inexplicably never liked him much. Maybe because until recently I only saw him in Donny Darko, which is the strangest film I’ve ever watched and that is saying something. Southpaw impressed me despite such deliberate emotional punches, and I’ve since been getting more exposure to this man. I liked him here too – he had a character that underwent great development and he handled the phasing well.

The story makes a valiant attempt at being mysterious and fails admirably. It tries to be artistic and visually stimulating. Its opening sequence is a desperate visualization of the attempts to make this film more than it is – a self-indulgent expedition of Tom Ford. Ford can be glad his fashion designs aren’t this desperate to be liked or he’d have failed as a designer a long time ago.

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Nocturnal Animals has a litany of celebrities taking part and they have no idea what to do about it. Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have the most screen time, and they do their best to make their characters work. Taylor-Johnson proves that he is more than just a pretty face. He’s a creepy mcCreeps in here, and I was so freaked out by his strange and awful character and felt dirty every time he was on screen. Amy Adams had the hardest work set out for her – to make the selfish Susan worthy of our empathy. It is hard to sympathize with a woman whose unhappiness stems from every decision she ever made. She had a good, kind man who she left because he wasn’t successful. She’s led a life she swore she wouldn’t, choosing a rich man who sleeps around over a poor man who loved her. Her treasonous acts reach unparalleled heights for which we judge her harshly (well, I did anyway), so sympathizing with her was really hard.

Michael Shannon is such a serious looking bloke, and thus all these serious bloke roles suit him well. He’s this strange cop in the story, with his own little built in mission, and I enjoyed him immensely.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I marginally liked the story more when I realized what was going on. I’ll say this – it is stories within a story. The within story was better than the actual story. It was a meaty revenge piece. It disappointed, but it remained better than the obvious story. I’ll stop using the word “story” now, because it is starting to irritate me.

The cast that gets a few seconds on screen – Isla Fisher, Michael Sheen, Pam from True Blood, Jenna Malone – so much to work with and yet so little attention paid to them. I love Michael Sheen now, my Underworld exposure made me team-Sheen, and I was happy to see him only to be disappointed a few scenes later.

Nocturnal Animals is way too long. I just wanted to get to the end, and then the end sucked so much I felt even more aggressive. It’s an open ending, and we all know how I much love that. Sure, I’ll think a bit about what I watched but dammit, give me a proper ending or watch me rage.

I consider this movie a terrible waste of time and am still upset that I will never get these hours back. The only good thing I got from this was writing this review, it was my catharsis to this terrible piece of shit.

Rating: 4.5/10

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.

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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.

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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!

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Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SO SLOPPY.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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?

Movie Review: Underworld (2003)

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Plot: Selene, a vampire warrior, is entrenched in a conflict between vampires and werewolves, while falling in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

Rating: 7.5/10

A peek at the IMDb scores for Underworld left me certain that I was in for cheese and melodrama and bad performances. Contrary to IMDb, I received intel from trusted persons that Underworld is hated unnecessarily by the “gurus” for whichever murky reason Hollywood powers decide a film should get poor ratings. Kate Beckingsale is front and foremost and brings forth a fantastic strong female character that is in no need of being saved. She does the saving. Seline is strong, powerful, really attractive, brooding and won’t shy away from confrontation. Miraculous qualities for a female protagonist!

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Kate Beckingsale is incredibly beautiful. I’d love to hate her on principle, but the fact is this is a really intelligent women takes on such a fierce role with energy is to be admired. Seline is a mix of power and female, and I was cheering all the way. The relationship between Michael and Selinehas impact because it doesn’t overshadow the political or war elements of the film, yet manages to demand attention when the two get a few moments of peace together.

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The lycans were terrifying. Underworld isn’t this pretty watered down Twilight-version of vampires and werewolves. The lycans live in dark shadows and haunt the decaying sewers of the city. Their leader, Lucian, has a plan and initially you are led to believe that he’s solely a villain, and as the leader of the Lycans he must be stopped at all cost. One sentence from Seline should immediately alert the watcher that things are not as they appear, because whenever a species is banned from looking into the past, there is bound to be things hidden people in power want swept under the rug.

Bring in Bill Nighy’s Viktor, whose awakening is fearful to behold. He plays the role of the Elder vampire with such pizazz it is obvious that he had the time of his life being a vampire.  Shane Brolly as Kraven is the weakest link in the story, his angle of action was really the cheesiest direction of which the other cast members steered well cleared of.

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The directing by Wiseman is excellent. The film remains gritty and gory throughout, and the atmosphere is accurately depressing. Underworld is a long one, but I didn’t mind as much as I really enjoyed it. The last few scenes, which obviously serves as the conclusion of the film is gory and blood filled, but to its’ credit I didn’t need to repress the urge to skip some of it.

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I had a surprisingly good time watching Underworld, and I’m definitely checking out the rest. They might not all be as good, but I will most certainly explore and provide feedback.

Have you seen Underworld? What is your impression?

Movie Review: Passengers (2017) – CONTAINS SPOILERS –

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Plot: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

Rating: 6.5/10

– CONTAINS SPOILERS –

When a movie gets trashed second after it was released, it is safe to assume that it is either:

  • The movie is legitimately a terrible film
  • The movie didn’t live up to its’ expectations and delivered something else
  • The critics hated the film because of some petty reason

Passengers is somewhere between two and three. The film’s last hour and half (perhaps more than that) is a romantic drama film set in space. I’m sure that upset a number of people who might have expected a Sci-Fi film. I also think the hate train might have been loaded to capacity with people reacting unnecessarily harsh to a moderately decent film because everyone was doing so.

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The majority of the film is spent exploring Jim Preston and Aurora Lane’s horrified realization that they woke up on their spaceship way too early to reach their destination, Homestead II – 90 years too early. Aurora suffers another setback when she’s made aware by the barman-robot Arthur (Michael Sheen) that Jim (Chris Pratt) deliberately woke her up and that her pod didn’t malfunction. She’s understandably very upset with this death sentence but is forced to put it aside when the ship starts acting erratically and it becomes clear that no one on the ship will arrive at Homestead II if they don’t find the source of the problem. Captain Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburn) wakes up in time to conveniently steer Jim and Aurora in the right direction.

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I enjoyed the scarcity of people in Passengers. Chris Pratt and his female equivalent Jennifer Lawrence make a charismatic team. Pratt is able to accurately portray the loneliness of Jim’s life in the year before he wakes Aurora up. Aurora (Lawrence) is different in nature than Jim. She’s a writer and immediately begins to report her life on the ship. She initially refuses to believe their fate and is forced to accept eventually that Jim is speaking the truth. Michael Sheen is able to be a convincing robot, keeping his facial expressions carefully contained. Fishburn is the last character that enters the film was a good captain if you are able to look past the fact that it is amazing that the captain woke up and not someone else. The film is scarcely populated and it works well.

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The film also looks really good. That spaceship was something to behold inside and out. It looks modern and is one of the films that bring spaceships to the new century. The swimming pool was mind boggling – I wouldn’t go close to that mass of water that is kept in its’ place by such fragile means. The robots on the ships look great – and a dash of cuteness is mixed into the plot with the housekeeping robots.

What didn’t work? Well, the holes in the plot is bigger than the holes in the spaceship. Are these two really choosing to live on that ship for the remainder of their lives with only the other as company? How will they prevent children? What about the finite amount of food on the ship? Are they dooming their fellow passengers to a journey without food? How did the asteroid not immediately destroy the ship? It is extremely convenient that the fire started becoming unmanageable when they found it? Speaking of extreme convenience, how about the third passenger that woke up is able to access secure locations?

Despite the numerous unanswered questions, of which I’m sure many other bloggers can add more to, I actually ended up enjoying Passengers. I think that the leads were compatible. Jim can be forgiven his selfishness by considering his loneliness. Their heroic antics are heart warming, especially for the following passengers. If you keep your eyes closed and ignore all the questions, I’m sure you will enjoy Passengers too. But what I will end this review with one more question – Why did they change the ship into a swamp at the end?

Midnight in Paris (2010)

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I believe that love that is true and real, creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing. And then the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face, like some rhino-hunters I know or Belmonte, who is truly brave… It is because they make love with sufficient passion, to push death out of their minds… until it returns, as it does, to all men… and then you must make really good love again.

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is touring Paris with his unsatisfied fiancée Inez (Rachel MacAdams), who just doesn’t share his affection for the beautiful French town. Even though Gil is a successful screenwriter, he wishes to be a writer living in Paris, preferably in the 1920’s if he could have his way. Inez shoots all his ideas down and doesn’t seem to think he could make it as a writer. Her parents share these sentiments and want Gil to continue earning huge amounts of cash so that he and Inez can set up in Malibu after their wedding.

Inez and Gil find that Paul (Michael Sheen) and his girlfriend are also touring France. Inez seems very impressed by the pedantic Paul, who just thinks he knows absolutely everything about anything. He offers to read and critique Gil’s novel, and Inez supports the offer, oblivious that Gil would hate it.

Inez and Paul decide to go dancing after a wine tasting. Gil, a bit drunk, declines and walks the streets of Paris. As midnight strikes, Paul is picked up by an old fashioned Peugeot car and lands back in the 1920s. He meets a large amount of his literary idols – Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll). When Hemingway hears that Gil is busy with a novel, he takes him to Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), who promises to read it and offer her opinion.

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Naturally Inez does not believe a word of the story and she leaves before Gil can prove it the following night. Gil takes his novel to Gertrude Stein and meets Pablo Picasso and his beautiful lover, Adriana (Marion Cottliard). Adriana is immediately impressed when she hears the first few lines of his novel, and Gil is very taken with her.

Gil spends more time in the 1920’s, irritating Inez and alerting the suspicions of her father Paul (Michael Sheen), who employs a private detective to find out what Gil is up to. Gil is becoming more attracted to Adriana, but when she finds out that he is engaged she distances herself slightly. Adriana leaves Picasso and goes on a trip to Africa with Hemingway, but Gertrude Stein is sure that it will not last.

Back in the present, Inez shops for furniture while Gil looks at antiques. He meets Gabrielle (Lea Seydoux), a beautiful French lady who shares his affection for the Lost Generation. Gil stumbles upon a priceless treasure – a diary of Adrienne that mentions him by name.

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Gil returns to the past where he gives Adriana a gift. They kiss, and a horse-drawn carriage arrives, taking them back to the 1890’s. Adriana expresses her desire to remain there, and Gil is perplexed with her claims that the 1890’s was the golden age, not the 1920’s. They part ways, with Gil returning to 2011.

After rewriting the first two chapters, Stein is very much impressed with the progress Gil has made as a writer. She even says that Hemingway liked it, but wonders why the main character does not realise that his fiancé is sleeping with another character, characters that were based on Inez and Paul. Gil realises what this means, and confronts Inez. She admits to the affair but discards its importance, but Gil calls an end to the relationship, telling her that they will be happier apart and that he has chosen to stay in Paris. Inez is furious, but her parents also think that their separation is a wonderful idea.

As Gil once more walks the streets of Paris, he meets Gabrielle again, and they take a walk in the rain.

Rating: 7.5/10

I really enjoyed Midnight in Paris. I had an inkling this movie would be good. I was completely right about it (and who doesn’t love being right?!). Midnight in Paris is beautifully directed and I just fell in love with everything about it. The scenery, the love for Paris (it reignited my desperate need to stand under the Eiffel Tower), the way Paris is portrayed, and the absolutely shockingly amazing performance by Owen Wilson all just contributed to my utter enjoyment of the film.

Rachel MacAdams was for the first time ever such a disgusting cow in a role and she obviously has real acting skills to be able to portray Inez and be Ally from the Notebook at the same time. Inez irritated and frustrated me beyond belief and her idiocy of not seeing the worth of Gil while being utterly charmed by the know it all Paul.

The questioning of Gil’s sanity is charmingly underplayed and kept me riveted. Was he hallucinating? Was this all going to end in a sad way? I really kept wondering until Adrienne’s journal was found as confirmation, and even then I wasn’t sure of Gil’s mental stability. I absolutely LOVED Owen Wilson in here. He was funny and charming and really looked like a disorganised writer.

I think Marion Cottliard is a lovely actress and she was so mysterious in here. I hoped they would end up together but their eventual separation was mutual and beneficial. This was one of those movies where the star studded cast didn’t overwhelm or deduct from the final story being told, and I found a famous face entertaining rather than exhausting when being introduced.

Lastly, I really liked that even though there was a love story being told, it wasn’t gooey, and the comedy in the movie wasn’t overwhelming. I am not sure how I would classify this, but I certainly wouldn’t classify it as a rom-com. It is much too intelligent, funny and truly charming to fall into that category, and I actually enjoy rom-coms now and again.

I can really see myself watching this again.

Recommendation: It is a feel good movie and I would think that most people would enjoy this!