FlixChatter Review: YESTERDAY (2019)

I love The Beatles. In fact, my record collection (to quote Twin Cities label legend Peter Jesperson) begins with The Beatles and then goes from A-Z. During a company outing I struck up the subject by asking my coworkers: “You guys like The Beatles?” Their answer: “Who doesn’t like The Beatles?” And indeed, with Danny Boyle’s latest film, this assumption is rendered universal which is one of the key factors in making the premise of “Yesterday” work its magic.

Himesh Patel plays Jack Malik, a fledgling singer-songwriter, who despite his dedication and commitment to his trade just doesn’t seem to have the ‘thing’ to make it in the music industry. Gig after gig, from coffee house to festival circuit, no one seems to want to give his songs a listen. All except for one: local schoolteacher Elle (Lily James), his manager and childhood friend. She believes in his songs and most significantly, in him. After a failed gig at a music festival, Jack decides to hang it up. While riding home on his bike, suddenly the world changes. Inexplicably, in this world The Beatles never existed. No one remembers them, except for Malik of course. Armed with these songs, he is now in quite a predicament – or opportunity: What to do? A catalog full of Lennon-McCartney classics to be owned for the taking; to share them to the world or to pass them off as his own?

Patel is excellent as Malik, portraying him with sincerity and humor. Patel is also convincing as a musician, playing and singing with his own voice which is quite good given the awesome repertoire he’s been given. Lily James is simply radiant as Elle and acts as a great foil to Malik once his Hero’s Journey takes an uncontrollable turn. She is the down-to-earth element in his skyward trajectory to fame and fortune. But will he realize it in time before it’s too late?

The other stars in Yesterday are obviously the songs of Lennon-McCartney. The film assumes that we are familiar with them enough to get the in-jokes and album references. Being a Beatles fan myself, they are overly obvious and simplistic but quite satisfying. Admittedly, it’s a fantasy that friends and I have imagined in our younger years as we obsessed about The Beatles and endlessly played them on our aging turntables.

It’s a simple story, a fantasy/romantic comedy that asks us to escape to another dimension where The Beatles never existed. But I can’t help but think how the world would be so much different without The Beatles. Steve Jobs named his company Apple after the group’s record label. Would Ed Sheeran, who has a bit role playing himself, even exist in such a world? Part of the Rolling Stones success was its friendly rivalry with the fab four, yet they exist in this world as if it didn’t matter. Would the masses really have taken to the songs so quickly in such an environment, even with the help of social media technologies like YouTube and twitter? In my view, The Beatles were that influential to the state of contemporary culture since the 60s. Musicologists would probably correct me for these statement but the bottom line is that Yesterday asks us not to think too hard about those details but just to climb on board and enjoy the ride.

Filled with humor, amusing pop culture references, great songs and strong performances from the two leads, Yesterday is highly entertaining as long as we don’t think about it to too much. And by the way, part of The Beatles charm was their happy-go-lucky and not-so-serious nature (at least in the beginning). Wouldn’t it be nice to live in the surreal, joyous world that is portrayed by Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night? With Yesterday, Danny Boyle gives us 2 hours to forget the world’s troubles and ask ourselves “What if?”

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So did you get to see YESTERDAY? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


When this movie came across my screen as I fired up Netflix, I knew this is the kind of movie I’d enjoy. Billed as a ‘celebration of literature, love, and the power of the human spirit,’ it’s a charming film set in an English island during WWII. It certainly helps that I’m an Anglophile and British period dramas are my cup of tea, plus this is based on a historical novel written by two women, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

I adore Lily James since Cinderella, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. She’s an instantly-likable actress and it’s easy to warm up to her character, Juliet Ashton a young London writer living in the shadow of the war. Despite the fact that she’s pretty successful, lives in a gorgeous Chelsea flat, her dashing publisher Sidney (Matthew Goode) is also her bestie, and she’s courted by a handsome American soldier (Glen Powell), Juliet doesn’t seem to be as happy as one would think. But her life is about to take a different turn when she gets a letter from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), a member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Yep, the mouthful title is a book club that inadvertently got started on a fateful night involving Nazi soldiers in the occupied island of Guernsey. As the correspondence goes on, Juliet is set on writing a book about the book club, and so off she goes to an island in the English channel off the coast of Normandy.

I love the idea of a young woman setting of on an adventure, especially in a time when it wasn’t as free for women to do so. And I also love the fact that Juliet isn’t too eager to marry a seemingly too-good-to-be-true prince charming. Naturally, Juliet was treated like a celebrity once they meet the members of the Society, and that first meet-up where she was presented with the potato peel dish is a group meet-cute. I adore every single member of the Society, Amelia (Penelope Wilton), Elizabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay), Dawsey, Isola (Katherine Parkinson) and Eben (Tom Courtenay), the cast is a bit of a Downton Abbey mini-reunion with Goode, Findlay, Wilton and James herself were all part of the popular period drama cast. But despite their warm welcome, the group (especially Amelia) is vehemently opposed to the idea of Juliet writing an article about them for the Times.

The setback didn’t send Juliet immediately back to London. Instead she’s set on doing research about the German occupation on the island. As the group opens up to her more, she soon finds out about what has happened to Elizabeth. The less said about Juliet’s discovery the better, but it’s safe to say she has fallen in love with the town and the people in it. There’s a lovely tentative romance between Juliet and Dawsey (Huisman is sort of been type cast as romantic lead in period romances and he does well in these roles), but the bonding scenes between Juliet and the female members of the book club is equally delightful to watch. I have to say that Penelope Wilton is particularly memorable as the grieving mother. She’s a terrific character actress who can balance drama and comedy seamlessly.

Director Mike Newell (Four Weddings & A Funeral, 2012 Great Expectations) kept the tone pretty light despite some of the serious war-related scenes, he puts the focus more on the relationship between Juliet and the people she encounters. It sometimes feels like a rom-com, but with more at stakes given the time it’s set in. But it doesn’t quite escape the trappings of the genre in that the romance is completely predictable. Fortunately, there’s enough of a surprise surrounding the lives of the people involved and the poignant history they’ve been through that I’m still swept up and moved by it.

Visually and thematically, it feels something out of Jane Austen movies. It’s even more enchanting for me personally as the movie make some references Austen, as well as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. The set pieces are gorgeous, there’s something so immensely charming about the small, coastal English town. It wasn’t filmed in Guernsey however, but instead the coastal exterior was shot in various UK locations such as Cornwall, Bristol, etc.  I also love the 40s period clothing that makes everyone so vintage chic.

This is definitely ‘comfort food’ for fans of period dramas like me, but fortunately a nutritious one. Interestingly, this was supposed to be a Kenneth Branagh production with Kate Winslet in the title. As much as I’m intrigued by that prospect, I have to say I like Lily James as Juliet and I appreciate Newell’s old-school, unabashedly-sweet approach. I would have liked to have seen more of [bespectacled, Clark-Kent like] Matthew Goode, but I enjoyed seeing every bit of him every time he’s on screen.

I’m glad this movie is on Netflix as I’d readily watch it again. As a writer, one of the biggest appeal for me is how the movie is practically a wonderful love letter to the written word.


Have you seen The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society? I’d love to hear what you think!

Music Break: ABBA’s songs in Mamma Mia!

Happy midweek everyone! It’s kind of a sleepy Wednesday even though just exactly a week ago I was extremely busy casting for my upcoming short film project, Master Servant. It was my first time holding auditions (as I didn’t have to do that Hearts Want) and let’s just say it was quite an experience. I have even more appreciation for actors (especially working actors) and what they have to go through to land a part.

In any case, well I saw Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again last week… it had been such a whirlwind few weeks that I needed a crowd-pleaser type of movie and it definitely did the trick. It’s funny but when the original first came out, I didn’t even bother to see it and wasn’t really interested. But my friend in San Diego has the DVD so I ended up watching it when I visited her. I actually grew up listening to ABBA (who’s my brother’s fave) and it was fun nostalgia hearing the catchy tunes once again. As for the movie, well I don’t think it would’ve worked at all without ABBA’s music to be honest. It’s the kind of contagiously rousing songs you can’t help but being drawn to it, heck the songs have been stuck in my head for days since I saw the sequel! Plus having Meryl Streep and a pretty phenomenal cast doesn’t hurt. Amanda Seyfried is pretty good as Sophie (Streep’s daughter) but it’s Julie Walters and Christine Baranski who’s truly light up the screen. I wish we all had them as our besties!

Oh and the scenery!! Honestly, I was gawking at the amazing Greek islands (filmed on location on Skopelos, Skiathos and Damouhari Pelion) which surely have become a major tourist attraction now thanks to the movie. Who hasn’t fantasized living in such a incredible place, running a hotel with your handsome boyfriend and your three dads consist of Mr. Darcy, James Bond and Thor’s Dr. Selvig?? I mean, come on!!

Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Pierce Brosnan as Sophie’s three dads

It’s the kind of movie to just put off your thinking caps and be ready to groove! So here are some of my fave songs and/or scenes from the original and the sequel:

Ok yes it’s a silly movie, but I couldn’t help but tearing up a bit hearing this rendition of The Winner Takes It All (darn you Meryl!)

Donna looked so believably devastated in this scene… I wish the sequel had more oomph in showing her romance with Sam in the flashback scene. I feel like this scene in the original was far more emotional than the entire scene of young Donna & Sam in the sequel.

Oh man, what an end credits!! Such a hoot to see all the three dads in full disco gear. Looks like the entire cast had such a great time making this that they totally went all out in the bohemian spirit of the movie!!

I’ve been a fan of Lily James since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Cinderella, she’s instantly likable and apparently this girl can sing! I actually like her rendition of this melancholy song… yeah she’s my current girl crush.

I really, really enjoyed this scene and the song Why Did It Have To Be Me. I adore Lily James as young Donna (not an easy task playing the young version of a character originally played by Meryl Streep, but she did a fine job!) and Josh Dylan (young Bill) is my fave of the three young actors.

Well one of the highlights of the sequel is Cher (natch!)… and her fans would likely NOT be disappointed. She only appears at the end but her rendition of Fernando (a duet with Andy Garcia), as teased in all the promos, is pretty darn amusing.


Hope you enjoy this Music Break. Well, which ABBA song(s) is your favorite?

Weekend Roundup: Quick review of BABY DRIVER (2017)

Happy [almost] Fourth of July weekend! It’s not really a long weekend for me as I’ll be working both Monday AND Wednesday, though the office is pretty much dead today with everyone taking a day off.

Last week was a pretty hectic one, hence I hadn’t even posted anything other than my short film update. Well, as if making movies wasn’t nerve wracking enough, I also launched a crowdfunding campaign is Kickstarter campaign last week. We had a good start but we still have a long way to go before we reach our goal.

Shout out to Paula, Shivani, Mark, and Nostra for your tremendous support on various social media channels!

This weekend I did manage to fit in a movie night… and it was a ton of fun!

Move over Guardians of the Galaxy. I think the movie w/ the best retro soundtrack this year belongs to Baby Driver. It’s also one helluva heist action flick that gets your blood pumpin’ from start to finish.

I like Edgar Wright and his Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy (especially Hot Fuzz!) but for some reason I haven’t been paying much attention to Baby Driver. I think I only read an article a while back when it was a hit at SXSW and then of course I was intrigued by the stellar reviews (97% on Rotten Tomatoes!) So naturally I had a high expectations going into this movie. Fortunately it didn’t disappoint!

I dig car chases!! I grew up w/ two brothers and played with matchbox cars instead of Barbie dolls as a kid so I always enjoy a thrilling car chase in the movies! Man, what an opening scene!! You can watch how they made it in this featurette. That’s perhaps one of the best car chases since the first Transporter flick, but this time we’ve got a kid at the wheel with a cutesy name Baby (Ansel Elgort). Yep it’s B-A-B-Y. Hence the title.

It’s obvious Wright himself is a big fan of heist movies and crazy car chases, and it shows. He’s also got an ear for music, and music is truly the fuel for this exciting ride. You go see this for the action, but there’s also a pretty compelling story and a character worth rooting for. Elgort isn’t the most charismatic young actor but he acquits himself well here and it’s easy to root for Baby who’s had a tragic past and wants out of the crime business. He’s surrounded by a fun supporting cast: Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and Lily James as Baby’s love interest. I’d say it’s quite inspired casting, especially in regards to Jon Hamm. The romance between Lily and Ansel seems deliberately too cutesy, cheesy even, but it’s kind of sweet, too.

In a way, Baby Driver is a heist flick & coming-of-age movie in one. And that makes it refreshingly original, as we see this kid who gets picked on and taken advantage of finally breaking free and coming into his own. The rather restrained ending is quite a pleasant surprise to me given how many blockbusters seem to go for deafeningly-bombastic finale.

So if you’re in the mood for fun music, crazy action and some sweet little romance, you can’t go wrong with Baby Driver.This movie’s also got heart to go with all the cool moves. And of course, plenty of Wright’s cheeky brand of humor too.

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Have you seen ‘BABY DRIVER’? Well, what did you think? 

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Eddie the Eagle, Midnight Special + BBC’s War & Peace miniseries

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How was your weekend everyone? Hope it was a nice one. Well this past week ended up being a pretty busy one in terms of movie watching. I finished The White Queen on Tuesday and was so obsessed with the whole War of the Roses history, especially Richard III that I’ve re-watched some of the episodes again! I’ve also ordered three books on the much-maligned monarch and am currently reading Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time.

BFGOn Thursday I went to a screening of Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, which I thought was just ok. I never read the children’s book by Roald Dahl so I wasn’t all that enthused about it. It’s kind of slow going and I find the story to be more simplistic than some of Disney’s animated features, such as the recent Zootopia, that has a pretty compelling story.

On Friday and Saturday night, my hubby and I watched two recent releases we missed on the big screen: Eddie the Eagle and Midnight Special, respectively. Both are enjoyable, but the latter is especially impressive and I’d rate that as one of the best 2016 films so far. I really wish I had seen that on the big screen, but it was well worth the wait. Jeff Nichols is on a roll right now and I’m glad we have a talented filmmaker like him working in Hollywood right now. I was so impressed with his third film Mud, but I still need to see his first two films Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter (both starring his muse Michael Shannon). I shall have my review of Midnight Special later this week.

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My hubby and I’ve also decided to restart our HULU subscription so we could watch BBC’s 8-part miniseries War & Peace. We’ve only managed to see one episode so far but we like it enough we’ll keep on watching. The mostly-British cast is excellent. I’ve always liked Lily James but it’s Paul Dano & James Norton in the first episode who’ve made an impression so far. Nice bonus to see my new crush Aneurin Barnard in a small role here too. No no, I haven’t abandoned Sam Riley completely, this young Welshman is just a nice distraction 😉

Speaking of which, I also started watching this British indie comedy Hunky Dory that reminds me a bit of Sing Street. I’m a big fan of Minnie Driver and she plays a drama teacher in the mid 70s, putting on an end-of-term version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Like Sam, Aneurin can also sing!! #BeStillMyHeart

Suffice to say I’ll try to catch up on more of Aneurin’s work. I’d probably spontaneously combust when I see him AND Sam together on screen in BBC’s SS-GB!! Having read the book, I knew they both will share a scene together, wahoo!


So that’s my weekend recap. What did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Ok let’s start off with the casting news that’s likely still on everyone’s minds. I know it must be on my pal Ted S.’s mind as he’s a huge fan of of the book, right Ted? The forever-in-the-works adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower finally has casting in place: Idris Elba will play the gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey will play the villainous Man in Black.

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King himself has confirmed the casting:

I know there’ll be fuss about the race thing just like when Elba played Norse god Heimdall in Thor, but I personally think Elba’s one of those actors that can pull off ANY role, regardless of what skin color the character’s supposed to be. But I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if he’d actually fit the character of Roland in terms of personality, etc.

So what do y’all think about this casting news? 
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2. Now, a lot of you already know I’m currently into British actor Sam Riley. I’ve also been obsessing over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where he played a charming but dangerous Mr. Darcy [the only Darcy I ever hyperventilate over 😉 ]. If it’s still playing in theaters near me, I’d gladly go again for a third time!

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This epic fight that takes place after Mr. Darcy’s first proposal scene is nothing short of epic. Riley and Lily James have such a scorching chemistry, and they’re now my favorite Lizzie & Darcy. It’ll definitely make it to my top 10 favorite scenes I’d watch over and over again from 2016… and beyond!

So tell me, which film(s) you’ve seen more than once in the theater this year? Feel free to share your favorite scene from that movie, too.

3. Last Wednesday I saw Knight of Cups… I mentioned in this post that I knew going in that the latest Terrence Malick’s film has no script. I’m still curious about it because of the cast.

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Well, suffice to say, if you’ve never been into Malick’s style, I’d say best to avoid this one. It’s basically a 2-hr visual poetry set to classical music. As beautiful the visuals is, lensed by Malick’s regular, triple Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki. But y’know what, his cinematography work here actually made me nauseous! I had to close my eyes several times to keep from hurling. I generally like most of his films, save for Badlands and To The Wonder which I haven’t seen yet. But I’m kind of put off by this one that I don’t think I want to watch ANY film without a script ever again. Heh, screenwriters exist for a reason Mr. Malick. I’m hoping his next film Weightless actually has a script, as it’s really hard to resist THIS ensemble cast!

What are your thoughts about Terrence Malick’s style? Yay or nay?
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4. Per tradition, there are a couple of trailers I want to highlight today. Both are female-driven, though they couldn’t be more different in terms of genres.

Let’s start with Despite the Falling Snow, which I had been anticipating for some time. I had blogged about it when I posted about 5 new-to-me actors I’d like to see more of, as Rebecca Ferguson plays the lead in this one. It also has one of my new fave actors Sam Reid from Belle, woo hoo! There are so few romantic thrillers out there and I LOVE the premise of this. Forbidden romance set in wartime setting, with intrigue and suspense thrown in, I’m SO there. Plus it’s also directed by a woman, UK-based filmmaker Shamim Sarif.

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In Cold War Moscow, a female spy steals secrets from an idealistic politician – and falls in love with him.


Now THIS is a reboot I’m actually looking forward to: GHOSTBUSTERS! This is likely to be one of Summer’s biggest hits. I LOVE the female cast, it just looks like such a hoot. This will be Melissa McCarthy‘s fourth time with Paul Feig, after starring in Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. I’ve only seen the last one which was a blast, and Kate McKinnon is my fave SNL cast member from the current season.

30 years after Ghostbusters took the world by storm, the beloved franchise makes its long-awaited return. Director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today.

Thoughts about either one of these trailers?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is my pal Wendell from Dell on Movies.  Blockbuster season will begin in earnest in March, starting with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice later this month, The Jungle Book in April and Captain America: Civil War + X-Men Apocalypse in May.

Which 2016 blockbusters do you absolutely have to see and which will you skip?


Well, that’s it for the March edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Sam Riley, Alternative Austen & Man Up (2015) review

I cannot fix the hour or the spot, or the look or the words which lay the foundation…I was in the middle when I knew it had began…

That was a quote from Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and that pretty much applies to how I feel the same way about the actor playing him… Sam Riley.

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I fall even more under Riley’s spell now… [le sigh]

Ok, so yeah, about that weekend roundup, well the past couple of weeks has been filled with quite a few Sam Riley movies: Control (2007), Maleficent (2014), Byzantium (2012) and Franklyn (2008). I didn’t get to see Brighton Rock (2010) yet but hopefully later this week. I’m astonished at his chameleonic ability as an actor, my appreciation post on him will be quite massive let me tell you.


I did see one new release this past week, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and got a chance to chat w/ the author of the book it’s based on, Kim Barker. Review & interview of that coming next week.

Ok, so these are my weekend viewing roundup, starting with…

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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So this is the first 2016 movie I saw twice on the big screen… and I could’ve gone for a third if it’s still playing for another weekend. Alas, I’d have to settle for all the fun gifs and clips on Tumblr until the Bluray comes out. As you may’ve read in my review, I bloody love this movie and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Sam Riley & Lily James are now my favorite Darcy & Lizzie pairing amongst the plethora of P&P screen adaptations.

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Austenland (2014)

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Ok so naturally, watching an alternative Jane Austen movie makes me want to re-watch one of my faves from a couple of years ago. As far an Austen-inspired films go, I actually think this one is even sillier than PPZ movie, believe it or not. Some of the supporting characters are so out there and freakishly bizarre that it made me cringe at times (though that Captain East is one spectacular eye candy). Jennifer Coolidge is a hoot but she went waaay over the top at times, yes even by her standards. But the romance of Darcy & Jane (JJ Feild & Keri Russell) is lovely and of course all the misunderstandings and repressed emotions are all the stuff Austen movies are made of. (my full review)
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Man Up (2015)

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This British rom-com has a rather unconventional pairing – Simon Pegg & Lake Bell, and that’s the reason I rented it. Bell played a single woman who inadvertently *stole* a stranger’s blind date, and the film took place over the course of a single night. Bell is a natural comedienne and here she gets to show her comedic chops, and also do a pretty convincing British accent.

It’s a pretty fun rom-com even though it doesn’t always avoid the trappings of the genre and is ultimately predictable, but the two likable leads made the movie feels fresh and genuinely funny. Rory Kinnear, who I often see in more serious movies so far, is so hilariously unhinged as Bell’s not-so-secret admirer. I LOVE the London scenery, both during the day and night, which adds to the film’s charm. The finale could’ve been a bit tighter and less verbose, but I think overall this movie is well worth checking out.

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Well that’s my weekend recap. So what did YOU watch this weekend? Anything good?