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: ♥♥♥♥

Triangle of Sadness

When you have the chance to watch La Palme D’Or in Cannes only multiple steps away from the famous theatre where it premiered, you drop everything and go.

When up and coming model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and influencer Yaya (Charlbi Dean) are invited to join a luxury cruise filled with millionaires and billionaires, they are thrust into a life they never knew was possible. What started as an Instagrammer’s dream come true quickly changes when a fatal storm leaves the passengers stranded on a deserted island.

This is certainly one of the most interesting films I have seen this year. The satire directed by Ruben Östlund perfectly encapsulates what the world is like in 2022. Everything was so dead on that I found myself nodding along throughout and cringing at those moments that I would rather we forget.

The way in which social hierarchies are depicted here was really well done. At the beginning of the film, Carl and Yaya are hoping to break into the world of glamour. This shifts when they board the yacht and realize that the level of opulence displayed by the fellow guests is unlike anything they’ve ever known. All bets are off after the storm as everyone, rich and middle class alike, have to fend for themselves and will do whatever they can to make that happen.

What makes the movie work so well is the colorful cast of characters. Our two leads are full of flaws and not very likeable, but Dickinson and Dean have great chemistry that make it work. Dean in particular was absolutely lovely; I kept forgetting that she passed away in August. From the Russian and his family (Zlatko Buric, Sunnnyi Melles and Carolina Gynning) to the Brits (Amanda Walker and Oliver Ford Davies) and the bachelor (Henrik Dorsin), there was never a dull moment when they were on screen. I only wish we’d had the chance to learn more about some of them. Then there was the crew led by Paula (Vicki Berlin), housekeeper Abigail (Dolly De Leon) and the alcoholic captain Thomas (Woody Harrelson) who rounded it all out perfectly.

Triangle of Sadness, or Sans Filtre, was one of the biggest surprises to come out of the year for me. Very telling of our time and with outrageous scenes that were sometimes a smidge too long, I would happily watch this movie again in the future. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, but I mean that in the best way possible.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Don’t Worry, Darling

Welcome to Victory, an experimental living community, where the sun is always shining, the houses are vast and the lawns manicured. Young couple Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) have the perfect life. When he goes off to work every day, she tends to the housework and prepares a nice dinner for him. But Victory isn’t as it seems and as the cracks start to show, Alice questions everything she thought she knew.

One of the most anticipated films of the year, Don’t Worry, Darling is the second film in Olivia Wilde’s directorial portfolio. Even after all the controversy, I knew I had to put that out of my head in order to focus on the bigger picture.

Everyone has been saying that Florence Pugh carried this movie on her back and they aren’t wrong. She is a force to be reckoned with. Her performance as Alice was absolutely captivating. You felt for her the whole way through. I can’t say the same about her male counterpart in Styles though. He was decent enough, but his fluctuating accent was distracting and it was as if he couldn’t keep up with Pugh.

The rest of the cast members were interesting enough though I wish we could have had more time with some of them. Frank (Chris Pine) was the most fleshed out. There was something charming yet sinister about him that I couldn’t put my finger on. I missed a lot from Bunny (Olivia Wilde) and her husband Dean (Nick Kroll) who are Alice and Jack’s neighbors. Addiotionally, Shelley (Gemma Chan), Frank’s wife clearly had more to tell.

I was one of those people who did not see the big twist coming. While not at all original, I did like the reveal. The explanation was too quick and that hindered the shock factor, but it didn’t take away from the movie for me. This is definitely one that left me thinking.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

Meet Cute

If you could go back and change one thing about your life, would you?

When Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) walks into a bar one night and meets Gary (Pete Davidson), she is instantly smitten with him. He’s everything she’s ever wanted in a partner and after spending a magical time together exploring the streets of New York City, she doesn’t want to let him go. So she doesn’t. Because Sheila has been going back in time, twenty four hours to be exact, for who awhile now. Having found a time machine in the back of a nail salon, Sheila believes that if she uses it, she can fix the imperfections about Gary while also dealing with her own.

The premise of Meet Cute is an interesting one. The Groundhog Day trope is not new, but it is one that has always fascinated me. I was excited to see how Sheila and Gary would develop their relationship over the span of seemingly one night and, mainly, the reasoning behind it all. Unfortunately the execution did not turn out as well as I had anticipated.

As the film goes on, the audience learns more about Sheila, but not as much about Gary. We understand that she has been using the time machine at first for one night, then one week later and then three months etc. The layers are peeled back and there is more than meets the eye here. Sheila has a dark past that she doesn’t want to deal with anymore, but instead of wanting to fix it, she digs herself deeper.

There is no change to the various dates that Sheila goes on with Gary. The conversation remains the same and they do more or less the same types of activities too. What started off as cute and endearing quickly turns boring. I kept wondering when that light would go on in her head that made her realize she had more to live for.

I appreciated the strong moral of the story being that while we all have emotional baggage, that is what makes us us and if we try to change it, we change who we are as individuals. With such a profound sentiment, you’d think it would be at the forefront. Because it wasn’t, it didn’t come together well enough.

Meet Cute isn’t a bad movie by any means. I just feel like it was trying to be two different things and it never really came together.

Rating: ♥♥.5

Do Revenge

If Gossip Girl, Mean Girls and John Tucker Must Die had a baby, it would be Do Revenge. Everything that Drea (Camila Mendes) has worked so hard for to be popular in high school and get into an Ivy League college goes up in flames when her sex tape is leaked by her boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams). Over the summer at tennis camp, she befriends transfer student Eleanor (Maya Hawke) who was recently outcasted by the girl she had a crush on (Ava Capri). Realizing they have more in common than they would have ever thought, the two decide to team up to carry out each other’s revenge.

It has been a very long time that a teen movie hit all the right notes for me. The script was sharp, witty and modern while not trying to be over the top about it. It also had a color palette and costume design to die for as well as a killer soundtrack. Hearing Olivia Rodrigo one moment and Meredith Brooks at the end was genius.

The main selling point for me here was it’s cast. Take Veronica Lodge from Riverdale, Robin Buckley from Stranger Things, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) from Game of Thrones, Ethan Daley from Euphoria (Austin Abrams), Kamran (Rish Shah) from Ms. Marvel, Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) from 13 Reasons Why and Pope Heyward (Jonathan Daviss) from Outer Banks, mesh them all into one project and the outcome is fantastic. Sure it may seem like a bunch of cameos, but for once I’m not complaining about it. The standouts are, of course, Mendes and Hawke whose chemistry was delightful to watch. I didn’t know if I wanted them to remain friends or if I wanted them to get together romantically.

On the surface, Do Revenge might seem like a vapid film that you will forget after just one viewing. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Drea and Eleanor wanting to right the wrongs that were bestowed upon them was inspiring to watch, especially because both cases were so relatable in today’s day and age. As you watch their stories unfold on screen, you notice that they could very well be yours. This one is definitely worth checking out!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

See How They Run

Three blind mice, three blind mice, see how they run, see how they run…

This is the story of a whodunit. Usually, when you’ve seen a whodunit, you think you’ve seen them all. The surprises are gone and you can pretty much guarantee you know how they’re going to end. At least, that’s what narrator and American movie director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) claims in the opening of See How They Run. But on the night of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap celebrating one hundred shows, he is murdered. With threats towards the rest of the cast and crew in London’s West End production, Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) and Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) are brought in to solve the case.

Unlike the types of movies that come out these days boasting plenty of CGI, over the top storylines and crazy stunts, See How They Run pulls in the reigns and gives us an intimate and charming murder mystery. Only taking place in a few particular locations, it gives off the feeling that the audience is watching a play within a play.

Each player is given their chance to shine, though some could have had a little more fleshing out. Not only are the theatre company ensemble consisting of Richard Attenboroug (Harris Dickinson), Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda), Mrs. Boyle (Maggie McCarthy), Dennis Corrigan (Charlie Cooper), Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith) and Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo) perfectly casted, it is the two leads that really make the film shine.

While an interesting choice to have Rockwell as an English inspector, he took on the role with everything he had and delivered. Ronan, on the other hand, stole the entire show. Not only was her onscreen chemistry with Rockwell so entertaining to watch, she has proven herself to be such a dynamic actor over the years. This more comedic turn was a stroke of genius and it is a performance that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

The best part about See How They Run is in its simplicity. Some might find this boring, but I thought it was such a breath of fresh air and I truly enjoyed every moment.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

About Fate

Alexa, play New Year’s Day by Taylor Swift.

I am fully aware that some places haven’t hit fall temperatures, yet here I am watching my first holiday movie of the year.

Starring Emma Roberts and Thomas Mann, About Fate is the story of two people who believe in love, though they have never been lucky in it. Griffin is getting ready to propose to his Instagram influencer girlfriend Clementine (Madelaine Petsch) while Margot is hoping her boyfriend of three months Kip (Lewis Tan) will agree to come to her sister’s (Britt Robertson) wedding. But when none of their wishes come true, fate intervenes and they are thrust together on the last night of the year.

While the storyline may seem predictable and cliche, I honestly didn’t feel that way while I was watching it. There were some obstacles thrown in here and there that threw me off and at times nothing seemed to be going the way it was supposed to. The comedy wasn’t always strong, but the addition of Cheryl Hines as Margot’s mother was a welcome casting choice.

What made this film work so well was the chemistry between Roberts and Mann. The way in which their characters meet at Bennington’s and then are constantly thrown into each other’s path kept me on my toes. They seem to be made for each other with their love for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the fact that they both live in the same apartment complex, just on opposite ends of the way.

Not a lot of people know about About Fate, but I am hoping to have changed that. It’s a feel good film that will keep you smiling and rooting for the main characters to get everything that their hearts’ desire. Plus, it takes place during one of the most wonderful times of the year, so who would argue with that?

Rating: ♥♥♥

Pinocchio

We all know the story of Pinocchio. A puppet made out of pine comes to life after his maker wishes upon a star. In order to become a real boy, he must listen to his conscience in doing the right thing. The original 1940 animated feature was never one that played constantly in my house. Though it had an important message for children, it didn’t hold up to the likes of The Lion King, Aladdin or Oliver and Company for me. And if I’m being honest, the scenes at Pleasure Island were terrifying.

When you hear that a movie is getting a reboot or a remake, you expect an updated version of its predecessor. Something that will take it into a modern age so that today’s generation can enjoy it right along with those who grew up with it. Unfortunately, this new version missed the mark. So many things were lacking and while I finished watching it only twenty four hours ago, I can tell you that I’ve already forgotten a lot of it.

Although this fairytale was never one of my favorites, there was something about it that kept even me glued to the screen. The same cannot be said this time around. That Disney magic that we have all come to know and love was nowhere to be found.

For a movie that was supposed to be live action, that aspect was severely lacking. I understand that Pinocchio needed to be CGI, but the animals and some of the backgrounds just did not look realistic enough to me. On top of that, the additional scenes that were included did little to nothing to add to the overall story.

If it wasn’t for Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo and Keegan Michael Key, I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself to finish it. It may not be the worst Disney remake I have ever seen (I’m looking at you Mulan), but it is definitely in the top three.

Rating: ♥♥

After Ever Happy

*Caution – Minor Spoilers Ahead*

Based on the worldwide phenomenon by Anna Todd, After Ever Happy is the final book in the beloved After series. Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) has just discovered his mother (Louise Lombard) has been hiding a secret from him his whole life. Turns out Ken (Rob Estes) was never his father, but rather family friend Christian Vance (Stephen Moyer) holds that title. Having his life completely turned upside down with the news, Hardin questions everything he thought he knew – including his relationship with Tessa (Josephine Langford). But Tessa has some skeletons of her own and they soon realize that they have a lot more in common than they ever could have imagined.

Though I may have only been apart of the After fandom for a little over a year now, that doesn’t mean that my expectations for the fourth and final film weren’t sky high. While it wasn’t my favorite out of the series, I remember feeling satisfied with the ending and couldn’t wait to see it play out on screen.

The chemistry between Fiennes Tiffin and Langford has always been off the charts and this time around was no exception. I don’t know how they do it, but every single time, I feel as if my heart is caught in my throat as I watch them together. You know it’s toxic and you wish they’d break up time and time again, but you still want them to make it at the end of the day.

You could, therefore, imagine my shock when the words ‘to be continued’ appeared at the end of the final scene. We all assumed this was it; Hessa were supposed to get their happily ever after! We’d see them get married and have children years in the future. Turns out the cast and crew had a surprise for us all: a fifth and proper finale that has just wrapped filming. I guess they decided to pull a Twilight and split the book in two.

On the one hand, I am pleased. If it is the rest of After Ever Happy then I don’t want them to leave any details out. But if the rumors are true, and it’s part of the sequel about their children, then they can keep it. There is also some worry that Langford wasn’t even part of it which wouldn’t make any sense.

Because of this, I have struggled to formulate my thoughts on this film. I wish we had known going into it that we were going to get more. I’m sure it would have increased my enjoyment, but that of others too.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Look Both Ways

Netflix’s newest romcom Look Both Ways features Lili Reinhart’s Natalie Bennet who has always stuck close to her five year plan. Graduate college, move to LA with her best friend Cara (Aisha Dee) and land her dream job in the animation industry. On the night of her graduation, she takes a pregnancy test and her life suddenly splits in two. In one scenario, events unfold as if the test was positive where Natalie decides to keep the baby and raise them with the father Gabe (Danny Ramirez). In the other, Natalie does go to LA where she not only lands a great job, but a great guy too.

Now that Riverdale is approaching its last season, it is nice to see Reinhart star in something new. After her first foray into film with Chemical Hearts, I have to say that I enjoyed her in this movie much more. In addition to acting, she also produced the film and you can tell that she gave it her all.

The storyline itself is rather simple and straightforward. There aren’t any special effects or crazy plot twists that occur, but that doesn’t make it boring either. It actually made for a pleasant viewing experience because I didn’t have to pay too close attention and I was still able to follow what was going on. The events that transpired throughout were also realistically done.

But what I liked the most about the film was seeing how both stories, though completely different, did not out-weight one another. Just because Natalie had a baby in one storyline didn’t mean she wouldn’t be more successful or less happy than the storyline in which she went to LA, got a job working for her idol (Nia Long) and met the man of her dreams (David Corenswet). Both had their ups and downs and worked out the way they were supposed to. It was refreshing to have this take portrayed on screen.

If you are looking for a cute and easy going romantic comedy to laze around to one afternoon, I recommend watching Look Both Ways. It’s certainly one of the better films in the genre that I have seen lately.

Rating: ♥♥♥