The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Based upon the book by Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is about a bookshop owner (Kunal Nayyar) who is struggling to stay afloat after the death of his wife. Tending to drink himself to sleep at night, he’s at his wits end. But then the unthinkable happens – a child is left in the store with instructions that A.J. must look after her from now on. Without second guessing it, he takes the girl under his wing, unbeknownst to himself that she is giving him a second chance.

This movie had everything I could possibly love wrapped into one. The romance aspect was perfectly executed with its budding relationship between A.J. and Amelia (Lucy Hale). Starting off as colleagues, becoming friends and eventually more, the gradual order of events made sense for both characters and really made me root for them to end up together. Nayyar and Hale’s chemistry was effortless and helped make their love story all the more realistic.

I loved the father daughter relationship that A.J. shared with Maya. Played by Charlotte Thanh Theresin, Jordyn McIntosh and Blaire Brown over the years, her introduction into A.J.’s life really was the turning point for the story. From then on, he was given a purpose and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for her. I consider my father to be my best friend and so this was a touching plot point to watch unfold.

What you probably wouldn’t expect about this film is that there is an air of mystery to it. Starting with A.J.’s most prized possession being stolen from his house one night while he is blackout drunk and some more instances that occur throughout, they keep the audience on their toes. I like how this wasn’t your typical romance where you can pretty much guarantee how it’ll all come together.

Taking place in a beautiful beachside location, with a stellar supporting cast consisting of Christina Hendricks, David Arquette and Scott Foley and great performances by the two leads, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will surely capture your heart right from beginning to end. I unfortunately didn’t get around to reading the book before watching, but you can bet your ass I ordered myself a copy as soon as the credits rolled.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

The Good Nurse

Amy (Jessica Chastain) is a single mother working as a nurse who also suffers from a life threatening heart condition. If anyone were to discover her secret, she’d be fired from her job and wouldn’t be able to claim health insurance. When Charlie (Eddie Redmayne) arrives on the scene to help on the night shifts, Amy feels unburdened for the first time in a long time. But when patients mysteriously start dying, all fingers are pointing to Charlie and it is up to Amy to find out the truth.

What makes The Good Nurse work so well is its lead stars. Chastain and Redmayne are two of our generation’s best in the business and their performances here were no exception. I am a new fan to Chastain who caught my attention in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, that ultimately led her to win the Oscar. She has become someone whose projects I will continue to check out. As for Redmayne, this was a different territory for him. From the Fantastic Beasts franchise, to The Danish Girl and The Theory of Everything, I didn’t know how I’d feel about him playing a serial killer. He gave Charlie this humanity that almost made you want to care about him.

At the center of the story is the friendship between Amy and Charlie. From the very first time they meet in the ICU, sharing stories of their lives and families over slices of pizza, until the end where Amy begs Charlie to come clean, it is down to the amazing chemistry that Chastain and Redmayne shared which helped make their relationship so realistic. This helped solidify the fact that Amy genuinely wanted Charlie to get help, while alternatively, regardless of how many people Charlie killed, he would have never hurt Amy.

While this movie is pegged as a thriller, I don’t believe this to be the proper description. The foreboding music and dark ambiance did try to give off that vibe, but that’s as far as it went. It was also considered to be slow, yet I have to say that I didn’t have a problem with the pacing. I felt it moved along rather nicely and I appreciated that the investigation started happening sooner rather than later. There actually wasn’t a single moment where I felt bored watching.

Based on a true story, The Good Nurse was one of the better films that I have seen this year. Not only were the performances brilliant, the subject matter was harrowing and left me with many questions. The fact that this actually happened, that we never found out exactly why Charlie did what he did and why the hospitals covered up his crimes instead of just coming forward was quite something.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

The School For Good And Evil

Best friends Agatha (Sofia Wylie) and Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) always knew they were destined for more. Growing up in Gavaldon, a tiny town where nothing ever happens, Sophie in particular has always begged to be taken away to the School for Good and Evil. But when it happens, Agatha tries to intervene and gets taken along for the ride and the two are dropped in the wrong area. Only true love’s kiss can set things right and they will do anything to fix this mistake.

I wanted so badly to enjoy this movie. I never read the books so I cannot say whether or not they stayed true to the story, but I was hopeful for this adaptation. There were so many promising aspects from the incredible world building, to the magical creatures and fantastic costume choices. Also, if you think about it, we haven’t had a captivating enough fantasy series in a while.

I’m sad to say that this flat out disappointed me. I don’t know where I went wrong in thinking this would be an origin story between Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron) and Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington), but that would have been one hundred percent more interesting. Then there was the fact that Theron and Washington weren’t even in the movie as much as I thought they’d be.

While I wanted to get onboard with Agatha and Sophie’s story, there was something holding me back. I think a large part of that had to do with their acting. Having seen Wylie in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, I was familiar with her work and found her to be the strongest one of the bunch, though at times her too cool for school attitude grew tiresome. Caruso, on the other hand, was just bratty and annoying. I get that was the point of her character, but I couldn’t stand it as time progressed.

In addition to seeing more of Lesso and Dovey, I would have liked to have more backstory on some other characters. Kit Young portrayed Rafal and Rhian, the founders of the school. More focus on him would have been a different take. Or even when they were older, the role taken on by Laurence Fishburne would have sufficed. I did like having Cate Blanchett as The Storian, however.

I truly believe that if The School For Good And Evil had been adapted as a TV series instead of a movie, it could have been much better. There would have been more time to flesh out each character and plot point and it wouldn’t have felt so jumbled together. A wasted opportunity.

Rating: ♥♥

Black Adam

It has been 5,000 years since Teth Adam (Dwayne Johnson) became a demi-god and was imprisoned for misusing his powers. When Adrianna (Sarah Shahi) frees him from his tomb, the anti-hero must learn how to cooperate with the good guys if it means saving the world.

What worked for me here was Johnson’s performance as our protagonist – or antagonist – ? I thought he was perfect for the role. He had the look and the right attitude, though I wish we could have seen him grow more throughout the course of the film. Origin stories never give us enough time for that. I also liked the inclusion of the Justice Society. The casting for Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan) and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) were genius, however, Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) were very one dimensional and didn’t get nearly enough screen time. It was as if their characters were an afterthought more than anything else.

I must admit that for once the CGI effects were impressive. This franchise is notorious for having struggled in that department in the past so I am glad that they are getting better. Not only that, but I really liked the soundtrack choices too.

Unfortunately that’s about it as far as my enjoyment goes. In true DC style, it seemed like the story took ages to get going. I didn’t find the script to be particularly groundbreaking and the scenes that didn’t involve any action were pretty lacklustre. Plus, the jokes, few as they were, did not make me laugh at all.

I heard many claim this was a turning point for the DC universe. While I want to agree with them, I still think that a lot of work needs to be done. Was it the worst I’ve seen out of the bunch? No, it wasn’t. And while I have always and will continue to defend DC to my dying day, there was that spark missing for me with Black Adam that had me yearning for more.

Rating: ♥♥.5


We all know about Romeo and Juliet’s doomed love, right? But did you know that before Juliet, Romeo was in love with a maiden called Rosaline?

Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever) and Romeo (Kyle Allen) were the perfect couple. They dreamed of running away together, their families be damned, if it meant they could be together forever. When he meets Juliet (Isabela Merced) at the masquerade ball, Romeo falls head over heels in love with her. Suddenly jilted by the love of her life, Rosaline will stop at nothing until she finds out who this new woman is. Who she didn’t expect it to be is her cousin.

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Rosaline was actually pretty cute. Dever shone as the lead, captivating me from the get go. Her comedic timing and meddlesome ways made for some great scenes that had me giggling. I’ve seen her in a variety of projects now and I must admit that she always surprises me.

The other cast and characters were fun to get to know too. I thought it was brilliant to dumb down the role of Romeo; the way in which Allen did this added a different element to the story and made it somewhat unpredictable. Merced did a fine job as Juliet, though I would have liked to see more of her. Bradley Whitford portrayed Rosaline’s father and Minnie Driver who played Rosaline’s nurse Janet didn’t have nearly enough screen time, but who were still welcome additions. And then there was the gorgeous Sean Teale who starred as Dario. His chemistry with Dever was palpable from the very first moment they laid eyes on each other and I just couldn’t wait until they got together.

With costumes that had me truly believing I was born in the wrong century and a soundtrack that gave me major Bridgerton vibes, Rosaline was a much better film than I gave it credit for. While it wasn’t perfect all the way through and at times seemed to drag on a bit, I really did enjoy it.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Luckiest Girl Alive

Based on the novel by Jessica Knoll, Luckiest Girl Alive follows Ani (Mila Kunis), a woman who seems to have it all. With a job at a high end women’s magazine and her engagement to perfect Luke (Finn Wittrock), everything is working out the way it’s supposed to. When a documentary director approaches Ani with hopes that she’ll share her side of the tragic incident that happened when she was a teenager, her life is suddenly turned upside down.

I usually read the book before I watch the movie, but I decided not to this time around. I wanted to focus solely on the screen adaption for once. What looked like a fast paced thriller with many twists and turns along the way captured my attention immediately. Unfortunately this was all very misleading. A thriller this was not. Instead, it was a full on drama with very heavy subject matters.

The pacing was slow burn which is fine, though not everybody’s cup of tea. I actually found this aspect to hinder my watching experience. It took too long for things to get going and by the time it did, it was almost like the pay off wasn’t worth it. That being said, I have to commend the way in which these mature themes were handled. Nothing was swept under the rug; it was right at the forefront and was definitely hard to watch at times. I commend the film for going to the places that it did in that regard.

Seeing Kunis in a more serious role was an interesting turn. I think her performance was fine, but the standout for me was Chiara Aurelia who portrayed the younger version of Ani. Having seen Aurelia in the 2021 hit Cruel Summer, I knew that she could nail this. All the scenes she was in gave me chills. I also have to give props to Connie Britton who did a great job as Ani’s washed up mother Dina. Seeing their dynamic throughout each time period really explained a lot as to why Ani was the way she was.

Overall Luckiest Girl Alive had a lot of potential that didn’t really take off in the end. That being said, it was a bold story that needed to be told and for that reason, I recommend checking it out.

Rating: ♥♥.5

Ticket To Paradise

Julia Roberts and George Clooney back together again. Somebody pinch me.

Georgia (Roberts) and David (Clooney) are divorced parents who have been struggling to get along ever since they split up nineteen years ago. When their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) announces that she’s engaged to Gede (Maxime Bouttier), an islander she met while on vacation, they fly to Bali in hopes of stopping her from making the same mistake they thought they did.

There was nothing special or groundbreaking about this romantic comedy, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. We’ve seen a similar formula play out many times before and when it works, it works well. This was one of those instances. While the jokes didn’t always land and the comedic moments felt slightly wooden, I didn’t bargain for all those emotions that came about.

At its heart, this film is about the bond of a family. Regardless of Georgia and David’s issues, I love the relationship that each of them had with Lily. You could tell that both parents really cared for their daughter and only wanted what was best for her just as you could tell Lily looked up to them. It was so great seeing Roberts and Clooney back together again. Such seasoned actors, they were in top form here and played their roles perfectly.

Overall, Ticket To Paradise is not a movie that I would rush back to see again anytime soon, but I am very glad that I had the chance too see it at all. With its great cast and stunning locations, I was transported away into another time and place for an afternoon.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Hocus Pocus 2

It has been twenty nine long years, but the highly anticipated sequel to 1993’s cult classic Hocus Pocus is finally here!

Every year on Halloween, which just so happens to be Becca’s (Whitney Peak) birthday, she gets together with her best friends Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) in the woods to practice magic. This year is just Becca and Izzy, however, since Cassie recently got herself a boyfriend (Froy Gutierrez) and a whole new group of friends. But when a spell goes wrong, the legendary Sanderson sisters are brought back to modern day Salem and all hell breaks loose.

I’ll admit that I am new to the Hocus Pocus fandom. I saw the original movie for the first time about two years ago, fell instantly in love and never looked back. I eagerly wait every year so that I can watch it again. Learning that I could finally experience all that I missed out on with the sequel had me more than excited – I just hoped it would live up to my expectations.

The storyline was entertaining enough with the stakes being raised higher than ever before. Getting to see Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) reunite was a dream come true. They were up to their old hijinks once more complete with some great musical numbers and comedic moments that had me laughing out loud.

What I wasn’t expecting was the slightly more emotional tone that this movie had. With the importance of one’s coven at the forefront, I loved seeing the Sanderson sisters’ background story. The sisterhood between Becca, Izzy and Cassie was also nice to experience, especially as they had a lot of similarities with our favorite witches. I wasn’t sure what to think about these new characters, but they worked well here. I also liked the addition of magic shop owner Gilbert (Sam Richardson), the mayor (Tony Hale) and, of course, the return of Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones).

I truly believe that fans of the original Hocus Pocus movie will have a blast watching this new story unfold. It is one of the better sequels that I have seen in a long time, and certainly considering the fact that it came out so long after the original.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥