JUNE Viewing Recap: INDIAN SUMMERS, Netflix’s Murder Mystery, Unlocked, etc.

I can’t believe it’s July already… I feel like once July 4th is behind us, we’re already more than halfway done with Summer 😦 Well, I actually didn’t really do much movie/tv watching around the Fourth weekend as I prefer to make the most of Minnesota Summer outside.

I did watch quite a few things in June, some of which I haven’t reviewed nor even mentioned on the blog. But for those looking for new releases reviews, here’s a handy list:

Aladdin | Godzilla: King of Monsters | Rocketman | Dark Phoenix | Always Be My Maybe | Late Night | Dead Don’t Die | Toy Story 4 | Spiderman: Far From Home | Midsommar | Yesterday

Oh I also saw MIB: International which I can’t say was a good movie (read: it was awful!). Review coming sometime next week.


Let me start with the show I’ve been bingeing. Thanks to my friend Vony B who has a similar taste as mine in regards to British shows [and hunks 😉 ], she recommended me INDIAN SUMMERS on Amazon Prime.

Period drama set in 1932 during the final years of British colonial rule in India.

I finished Season 1 in about a week, but took my time with the 2nd season as I kind of don’t want this series to end (there are only 2 seasons). I LOVE it, it’s kind of like Downton Abbey but with even more intrigue and higher stakes, and also feature a diverse cast. The show centers in Simla, in the foothills of the Himalayas, during the Summer, hence the name. The British colonialism story has been told before but what I love about this one is how the story is told by both sides, the British and the Indians. The characters from each group are both multi-dimensional… not every British are evil and all Indians are good or vice versa, lots of gray areas that make the show so compelling and intriguing. Kudos to show creator Paul Rutman for making such an addictive show and each episode always ends with a breathtaking cliffhanger!

Nikesh Patel & Jemima West

My initial draw to the show is Julie Walters who plays against type as the ruthless and conniving Simla club owner. But soon I was rooting for Nikesh Patel’s Aafrin, the Indian man in a British suit who’s rising through the ranks in the Indian Civil Service. What period drama without romance? The secret ‘forbidden’ romance between Aafrin and Alice (Jemima West) is downright juicy! I’m only about 3 episodes in on season 2 but I’m savoring every moment. Even though I’m not done with the entire series yet, based on what I’ve seen so far I’m giving it a high rating.


New to VOD

Isn’t It Romantic

So my friend Holly has reviewed the movie here, and I agree with her that it’s a lot of fun! I’m not the biggest fan of rom-coms (unless it’s written by Nora Ephron or Richard Curtis) and I love that this movie pokes fun at the genre while paying homage to it at the same time. “I had you at hello-copter” had me in stitches! I adore Rebel Wilson and she’s definitely the reason to see this.


Netflix Shows:

Murder Mystery

Ok so when Netflix bragged that over 30million people saw this movie in its opening weekend, I was curious what the fuss is about. Well Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston are made for each other in this lush but vapid vacation comedy that’s practically devoid of suspense. Ok I gotta to admit the gorgeous locations are pure escapism, heck I’d love to be invited aboard a yacht by a perfectly-tanned tycoon who looked like Luke Evans. I told my hubby that if that’d ever happen to us, I’m definitely saying yes, ha! Of course I’d be hit by lightning long before that’d ever occur in my lifetime. It’s entertaining in parts, but I likened it to eating McDonalds… yes you enjoyed it but once you finished eating, you wished you’d eaten something far more nutritious.

Unlocked

I had never even heard about this movie before I saw its image suddenly flashed on Netflix. This is the fourth action movie of Noomi Rapace on Netflix I saw in the past couple of years, the previous three were What Happened To Monday, Bright and Close. Boy, the petite Swedish actress is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Here she plays a CIA interrogator who’s lured into a ruse that puts London at risk of a biological attack. It started out really intriguing but as soon as Orlando Bloom showed up, it became an old school spy flick where nothing is what it seems. It’s not as smart as you think however, which is disappointing given its gripping first act. The cast is filled with talented actors, Michael Douglas, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, but most of them are pretty wasted in bit parts. Rapace’s is interesting to watch however despite her stoic expression and no-nonsense demeanor. I’d say it’s still worth a look if you’re a fan of spy thrillers, and at 1hr 38 minutes, it’s pretty darn efficient.

The Chef Show

I think this show’s got more unwanted PR from Gwyneth Paltrow when she apparently didn’t remember she was in the first Spider-Man movie that Jon Favreau had to remind her. It’s too bad as it’s a really good show… just make sure you don’t watch it hungry.

Favreau was chef Roy Choi’s apprentice when he did the indie movie Chef (which I highly recommend). In the first two episodes, they made even the simplest food like grilled cheese so mouth watering. I don’t even like grilled cheese that much and I was salivating! Nice that Favreu has plenty of cool friends to stop by his show. In an Atlanta restaurant, a few Avengers (and its honcho), Robert Downey Jr.Tom Holland and Kevin Feige joined them for lunch.

I love the casual vibe of the show and the camaraderie of the chefs. Favreau and Choi seemed to genuinely each other’s company, and obviously enjoy what they’re doing that their joy is infectious. Can’t wait to watch the rest of the season!


My fave JUNE movie has got to be Always Be My Maybe

…with Spider-Man: Far From Home closely behind.


So what’s the highlight of your JUNE viewing?

Guest Review: Office Christmas Party (2016)

guestpost

officechristmasparty

I haven’t been a huge fan of recent comedy films. There are a few I’ve enjoyed, but mostly they blur together in a mess of pop culture references, gross-out humor, and lazy sexual innuendo. This is exactly what I expected of Office Christmas Party, and that’s exactly what the movie delivered. However, there were a couple performances that made the film at least mildly entertaining.

Office Christmas Party follows a group of employees at a data storage company-specifically Josh (Jason Bateman), Tracey (Olivia Munn), and Clay (T.J. Miller), whose father started the company- in their effort to woo a potential client (Courtney B. Vance) to prevent their branch from being shut down. Their method: throw the most amazing office Christmas party, despite the strict instructions not to do so given by the company’s CEO- Clay’s sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston). As anyone who has seen the trailers would expect, the extravagant affair quickly devolves into a near-bacchanalian revel.

officechristmasparty_still1

One of my biggest issues with this movie was one that I’ve had with several comedies that have come out over the past few years: it dates itself. It makes pop culture references that might be funny when the movie comes out (and even that is debatable), but will be irrelevant within a year. At the beginning, a character shows Josh his family Christmas card, where he, his wife, and kids are dressed up as One Direction (aren’t they technically broken up now? Was the scene filmed before that happened?). During a meeting, a disgruntled employee complains about the internet’s obsession with Grumpy Cat (which I’m pretty sure stopped being a relevant meme at least two years ago). During a prayer, Clay asks God to let Prince and David Bowie know how important they were to everyone, referencing specific celebrity deaths that happened THIS YEAR. It’s a nice sentiment, and the shout-out earned a few chuckles from the audience, but even a year from now, this reference will have no context. Having so many jokes that rely so heavily on current pop culture means the humor will fall flat after a very short amount of time.

officechristmasparty_still2

My second biggest issue with this movie was Jason Bateman’s character. Not Jason himself-he’s a talented actor who performed well with what he was given-but his bland, middle-aged white guy with the same non-personality as countless other recent comedy; the straight man to the cast of wacky characters. Despite technically being the main character, he could have easily been removed from the film and we wouldn’t lose anything. This movie could have been a lot better if it focused more on Clay trying to run the branch and prove to his sister that he’s capable of being more than just a goofball. T.J. Miller seems capable of handling a bigger role; he was easily the highlight of the movie, and as hilarious as he is, he has a couple genuinely touching moments that show he’s able to do some serious acting. Kate McKinnon was another highlight as Mary, the socially awkward stick-in-the-mud H.R. representative; true, it feels like a character from an SNL skit, but her performance was still fantastic.

officechristmasparty_kate

I wouldn’t recommend seeing this in theaters, just because it is so forgettable. If you’re a fan of the cast, it might be worth checking it out on Netflix or whatever other streaming service it ends up on, but there’s no reason to catch it on the big screen.

laura_review


Have you seen ‘Office Christmas Party’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: We’re The Millers

WeretheMillersBnr

When I first saw this trailer, I’ve got to admit that I found the premise to be quite hilarious. Former SNL cast member Jason Sudekis plays a small-time pot dealer David, who has to assemble a fake family for a mission to transport a ‘smidgen’ of pot from Mexico. He’s convinced that under the disguise of a family on vacation, they wont run into scrutiny by the border crossing guards.

The first 20 minute or so sets up each of the ‘family’ member and how they ended up agreeing to do this crazy journey together. One of the movie’s highlights was when the ‘family’ first met on the plane on the way to California before they drive to Mexico. I think the situation itself lends to hilarity as they tried to conceal their identity. Though she has such a limited range, Jennifer Aniston is more watchable in comedies than rom-com. There’s a comical moment when she arrives on the plane looking like a demure suburban soccer mom, complete with sensible shoes, but then again she was not believable as a stripper to begin with.

Interesting that I first saw Sudekis in another Aniston movie The Bounty Hunter where he’s basically reduced to a pathetic admirer of her character. This time he’s got the leading role, though his character also pines for Aniston’s Rose, a stripper who’s desperate for cash after she gets evicted from her apartment. I think both Sudekis and Aniston have a natural chemistry together, though for me, the scene stealer is Will Poulter as Kenny, the virgin teen who lives in the same building as David and Rose. He kind of reminds me of Tintin, so maybe he’d be a good fit if they want to make a live action movie of the Belgian comics, ahah. Kenny is instantly likable and hilarious, the scene of him singing the Waterfall song by TLC is a hoot! I just realized that the 20-year-old actor is English who was in The Chronicles of Narnia, which totally floored me as he was so convincing as an awkward Midwestern kid. Emma Roberts is just ok as the Millers ‘daughter’, she’s the least memorable of the ensemble, I think a more comedic young actress would bring something more to the table.

WereTheMillersStills

To me the funniest moments are when the Millers get to Mexico in that giant RV, especially when they encounter a fellow RV-travelin’ tourist family after they managed to cross the border in Mexico. Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn play this squeaky clean, longtime husband and wife who are eager for some adventure to spark up their marriage. Offerman is one of my favorite comedians working today, the guy is naturally hysterical with his deadpan humor. I’d love to see him in a leading role for a change. French actor Tomer Sisley, whom I quite like in The Heir Apparent, was sadly wasted here, playing a stereotypical drug lord as the lame villain of the movie.

I’m usually not into raunchy R-rated comedies, I don’t know, endless profanities just don’t translate to entertainment for me. No doubt there are tons of that here, with vulgar scenes galore and some are quite offensive. The scene with Luis Guzmán as a Mexican cop asking for sexual favors in return of monetary bribe is just downright crude, but nothing could prepare me for the scene when Kenny’s um, testicles get bitten by a Tarantula! Aniston’s stripping scene doesn’t seem risqué by comparison, heck, it’s really nothing more than her showing off that she’s still got a hot bod at 44. One thing for sure, this is a comedy about family that’s definitely NOT for the whole family.

Overall, despite some hilarious moments, I feel like the premise has a lot more potential than what a team of four writers came up with here. I think under a more deft script and direction, this road trip movie could’ve been a comedy classic. At the same time, there’s enough going for it to keep me engaged throughout and some moments actually had me in stitches. So for that I’m going to be pretty generous in my rating. Comedies is tough genre to recommend as what people find funny vary so much, but I’d say this one is at least worth a rental.


3 out of 5 reels


Thoughts on this movie and/or the cast?

Movie Jail Relay Race – 12th Round

MovieJailBanner

You’ve probably seen this Relay Race been going around in the past few months. I love this brilliant idea, courtesy of my pals Nostra and Terrence which started back in late November. Here’s the gist:

It’s time to put some movie people in jail. The object is to give a prosecutor’s argument as to why these movie people belong in “Movie Jail” whether it be for violating the integrity of the content source of one their films, or being a sell-out, just making bad movies overall, getting worse as time goes on or not being in a good movie for many years.

The baton will be passed to another blogger who will have to do the following:

In order to free someone from Movie Jail they have to do 2 things
1 – Give a defense attorney argument defending the plaintiff
2 – Pay bail: the cost of which is another case for the court and a prosecutor’s argument against the actor/director of their choice that will replace the one set free.

There must always be 10 people in Movie Jail.

Thanks to Diana from Aziza’s Picks for passing this to me last Thursday. At this point, I’m the 12th person on the relay race, here are the previous participants from the starting point:

  1. My Film Views/The Focused Filmographer
  2. Cinematic Corner
  3. And So It Begins
  4. Surrender to the Void
  5. Cinematic Paradox
  6. The Cinematic Spectacle
  7. Being Norma Jean
  8. Defiant Success
  9. …let’s be splendid about this
  10. Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions
  11. Aziza’s Picks

So let’s take a look at the current 10 inmates, shall we?

JenniferAnistonMovieJail
Jennifer Aniston
MichaelBaymoviejail
Michael Bay
FreidbergMovieJail
Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
sgsdgsd
Raja Gosnell
Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl
Todd Phillips
Todd Phillips
Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy
Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler
Til Schweiger
Til Schweiger
Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart

Diana rescued George Lucas [glad she did, I would’ve rescued him too] and put K-Stew in. I absolutely concur with her choice and rationale. Stewart was already a prisoner right from the original relay race but got rescued [Sati, though I enjoyed reading your argument, sadly I don’t think K-Stew deserved your eloquent defense], so I’m glad she’s back in! The thing is, I’m totally stumped as to who I should defend. As Diana said before, everyone here seemed to merit their penalty. I wasn’t aware of who Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer and Raja Gosnell before but that’s because fortunately, I have never seen any of their movies — except for Gosnell’s Never Been Kissed — but man, those are awful, awful movies.

After much deliberations, I’ve decided that I’d give my defense not for a complete release but to put said actor on probation. I simply can’t think of anyone here that I’d give a get-out-of-jail free card because their ‘offense’ is quite tremendous.

The actor I choose to defend is:

JenniferAnistonProbation
Jennifer Aniston

Yes I know, I’m quite shocked myself that I’d actually pick her as I’ve said it several times on this blog that she can’t act. But she’s generally pretty likable and I feel that she just need to find the right project and be more willing to venture out of her comfort zone [The Good Girl, Horrible Bosses]. For what it’s worth, at least she’s been consistent in her career, I mean, it’s not like she was an Oscar-winning actress who suddenly start making bad choices. Now, that doesn’t excuse her role choices – hence I still put her on probation – but I think she still could make good movies down the road and the right director could perhaps coax a good performance out of her.

The actor I’m putting in jail:

NicCageMovieJail
Nicolas Cage

It pains me to put Nic on here as I quite like his earlier roles. I mean, this guy won a darn Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, and his action movies following that was great: The Rock, Face/Off, Con Air, and his dramatic roles in The Family Man and Adaptation displayed his acting chops. But then his piles of debts pretty much reduced him to a ‘yes man’ who takes every single freakin’ role without bothering to read the script. I mean, other than maybe his supporting role in Kick-Ass, he hasn’t starred in anything decent for as long as I can remember. He’s been so prolific and not in a good way, starring in one bad movie after another, with seemingly no end in sight. I thought the first Ghost Rider was absolutely horrid and he’s made a sequel of the darn thing!! You’d think he’s hit rock bottom when he starred in a Taken rip-off called Stolen [seriously Nic, that is low even for you], but I think that’s still not his worst yet. He’s attached to no less than nine movies just in 2013 alone, according to IMDb, who knows how many of those turn out to actually be remotely watchable?? I could go on but I think most moviegoers could see he’s lost his integrity as an actor. I do hope he could still turn things around though.

P.S. I was actually considering putting Gerry Butler in jail, but I think that Nic is far more guilty than him at this point. But the fact that I’m even considering GB, it goes to show how I feel about his career right now.


Ok, now I’m passing the torch to Iba @ I Luv Cinema.
Curious what she’d do with this list 😀


Well, are you surprised by my picks? Sound off in the comments below.

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: The Switch

I first heard about this flick when I blogged about Jason Bateman last September when it was still called The Baster. Yeah, no doubt they went with a ‘safer’ title though it sounds so generic now (there are eight other movies with that exact title on IMDb!).
….
The plot: An unmarried 40-year-old woman (Kassie) turns to a turkey baster in order to become pregnant. Seven years later, she reunites with her best friend (Wally), who has been living with a secret: he replaced her preferred sperm sample with his own.
….
Hmmm, is it just me or this could very well be Jen’s own life story? It’s a terrible thing to say I know, but then again she looks like she’s playing herself here (what else is new). What is it about Jen that she keeps snatching my fave leading men: Clive Owen (
Derailed), Gerry Butler (The Bounty Hunter out tomorrow) and now Bateman. But you know what, the trailer made me laugh, mostly because of Bateman though, who’s probably the saving grace of the movie. In fact it looks more like his movie than Aniston’s.
….
The most amusing scenes are between Wally and Kassie’s cute munchkin (Thomas Robinson) who bears an uncanny resemblance to him – and perhaps share his neurotic problems. And check out the supporting cast: Jeff Goldblum (in a Judy Greer-type role as the ‘best friend’), Juliette Lewis, and Patrick Wilson.
….
….
The Switch
is released in theaters on August 20th. What do you think folks? Does this appeal to you in any way, shape or form?

The Bounty Hunter trailer & Gerard Butler as Machine Gun Preacher?

Well, well, well, look what we got here. It’s been quite a while since I blogged about ze Butler, in fact, not once the entire month of December. But today we’ve got a poster/trailer combo of his new movie, thanks to GBGals via Twitter, and another possible next project that I have to say is quite intriguing.

Click to enlarge

First, about his upcoming rom-com The Bounty Hunter with Rachel … er, Jennifer Aniston. To tell you the truth, despite his involvement in this, I’m still kind of ‘meh’ about this flick, and this poster doesn’t exactly make me gung-ho to see it. Both of them look heavily Photoshop-ed to look slimmer (what’s with Aniston’s hip?), the whole thing just doesn’t look natural. Don’t even get me started on the tag line… “The pursuit begins”? Come on!

View the trailer below or a clearer version on the movie’s official site.

Well, at least the preview looks like fun, but man, why am I getting the same vibe as GB’s last flick The Ugly Truth? NOT a good thing. He’s paired with yet another blond and again they’re bickering as if to mask the brimming sexual tension between them. And just like the one with Katherine Heighl, the movie’s supporting cast is comprised of comedians & TV actors: Jason Sudeikis, Dorian Missick and Christine Baranski. The Bounty Hunter is directed by Andy Tennant, the same guy who brought us Fools Rush In, Fool’s Gold, Fools Ever After (sorry got carried away there), Anna and the KingSweet Home Alabama, and Hitch. Ok, so the last three aren’t terrrible, but none of his movies is exactly ‘stellar’ work. Curiously, Dark Horizons site lists this as one of the notable films of 2010, though it doesn’t exactly sing praises in its analysis, saying that the trailer will probably be a lot better than the final film. Ugh, that’s exactly what I’m dreading.

Now, on to that intriguing possible next project for Butler. Guess what folks, it’s NOT another rom-com. Yay! After signing to play Coriolanus’ villain in Ralph Fiennes directing debut, the Scot is rumored to play a reverend called the Machine Gun Preacher, directed by Marc Forster. Say wha–? A preacher?? Yep, according to FirstShowing, Butler might be teaming up with the German director to bring the story of former gang biker turned minister Sam Childers.After time spent riding his Harley-Davidson, doing drugs, and enjoying women, somehow Childers found comfort in God, and now he spends his time helping oppressed and threatened children in African countries like Sudan. Based from his book Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan, the movie will chronicle the ups and downs of Childers’ life as well as the work he does today. You can read more about his Angels of East Africa ministry and his own organization website.

A local PA newspaper also reported that Butler had met with the unorthodox preacher: “Since the book was published, a screenplay has been written about his life. And it will soon be made into a major motion picture. Details are scarce; however, actor Gerard Butler recently visited Childers at his church in Central City. Butler may play the ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ in the movie.” You got to hand it to the actor for refusing to be typecast. This doesn’t sound like a big, flashy project, but more like a small art-house flick. I wonder if this is one of the projects Butler was alluding to in this UAE interview when he was honored with Variety‘s International Star of the Year award. Asked if he’ll do a low-budget flick if he likes the script, he replied, “Absolutely. I’m producing two movies at the moment and they’re low budget. I’m sure I’m getting 10 cents for each one! But if it’s an interesting project, I take it.” Forster is no stranger to such a film, having done The Kite Runner back in 2007. I really like his other two films, Stranger Than Fiction and Finding Neverland, though I wasn’t too impressed with Quantum of Solace. In any case, I don’t exactly know what to expect with this one, but it certainly sounds promising. With the success of true-story-inspired drama The Blind Side, this could potentially be a surprise hit.

I’ll definitely keep an eye on this project so stay tuned for an official announcement. What say you folks? Do you think it’s a good role for Gerry Butler?

Pitt/Aniston for Time Traveller’s Wife? Say it ain’t so!

TimeTravelersThe Time Traveller’s Wife is one of my must-see flicks before year’s end, mostly because it’s got Eric Bana as the lead. So I was flabbergasted when I read this bit from Digital Spy that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the couple screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin had in mind when he wrote the script. Well, apparently he wrote the adaptation from Audrey Niffenegger’s novel before their divorce in 2005, but still!

Speaking to OK magazine, he said: “I thought they would be perfect for this film. I just saw them as a perfect version of Henry and Clare. I just found them equally attractive and equally compelling, and in terms of the Hollywood arena at that time, they were as good a couple as you could find. I was writing it in my mind for them.”

Meh, I’m glad it didn’t turn out that way as I wouldn’t have been at all excited to see it with the two of them as the lead. Regardless of their relationship and love life drama, I don’t think much of either of them as an actor. I’m probably in the minority here, but I’ve never been a fan of Pitt nor do I fathom what all the fuss is about the guy. There are a plethora of better looking and far more talented actors than he, but like Rod Stewart says, some guys have all the luck. As for Aniston, well let’s just say she will forever be ‘Rachel Green’ as she can’t ever seem to shake that role out of her psyche, no matter what character she plays!

In any case, I think the movie will be much better with Bana and Rachel McAdams on board, whom Rubin labeled “wonderful embodiments of who I envisioned would be on screen.” Judging from its trailer, I think both of them are perfect for the roles.