Slumberland

For as long as she’s been alive, it was Nemo (Marlow Barkley) and her father Peter (Kyle Chandler) against the world. Living in a lighthouse on a little island, they didn’t need anyone else but each other. So when Peter is lost at sea one night after a horrific storm, Nemo’s life is turned upside down. Having to leave behind the only home she’s ever known, she goes to live with her uncle Phillip (Chris O’Dowd) in the big city. Adjusting to her new normal is no easy feat; all she wants is to be reunited with her dad. That dream becomes a reality when, at night, she finds herself in Slumberland, a magical place where anything is possible.

I was originally going to give this film a miss, simply because when it came out, I had four other movies I needed to watch. But then I found myself with nothing to do this weekend, I figured why not check it out after all? The premise sounded interesting enough, it was filmed in Toronto and Jason Momoa was in it. That seemed like more than enough reasons for me.

The cinematography was stunning. The various locations that Nemo visited on her dream quest were ever-changing. They always offered something new and exciting and I’d find myself wondering where we would be transported to next. Larger than life outlaw Flip (Momoa) not only served as a guide to Nemo, but also helmed a colorful cast of characters.

What I thought would be an average run of the mill movie about a girl on an adventure soon turned into something else entirely. Yes, a large part of the film is just that, but there was more to it too. At the end of the day, Slumberland is about loss and how we deal with it. As a child, it’s difficult enough formulating thoughts and feelings, but learning how to deal when someone we love is no longer with us is a completely different matter. Unfortunately I could relate to Nemo all too well as I also lost a parent when I was young. Perhaps if a movie like Slumberland had been around for me at the time, it would have helped me.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

Christmas With You

Pop star Angelina (Aimee Garcia) used to be on top of the world, but she hasn’t felt that way lately. When the head of her label suggests she write a Christmas song, Angelina is beside herself. Ever since her mom passed away a couple years ago, she’s struggled to find the holiday spirit. But when she stumbles upon a video of one of her fans on social media, Angelina feels her luck may be changing. Cristina (Deja Monique Cruz) and her dad Miguel (Freddie Prince Jr.) are surprised when the superstar seeks them out. Learning that Miguel writes music, Angelina believes that all her problems will soon be over.

I had high expectations for my second Christmas film of the season, though if I’m being honest, I really wanted to watch this because of Freddie Prinze Jr. My teenage heart could hardly contain itself when news broke that he was finally coming back to the silver screen. A heartthrob then and now, I enjoyed nothing more than being able to watch him for an hour and a half uninterrupted.

Having previously starred in Netflix’s Lucifer, being able to see Aimee Garcia in something new was a treat. The role of Angelina could have been an interesting one, but at times I felt like something was missing. It was as if the emotions weren’t as genuine enough and her lines didn’t quite meet the eyes. At least she can sing! I wish she had better chemistry with Prince Jr. too. The familial relationship between Miguel, Cristina and Frida (Socorro Santiago) was fine enough, but it felt all too familiar after having just watched Falling For Christmas a week ago. That being said, I did appreciate the heavy Latino influences and learning more about a quinceanera. Additionally, the role of Monique (Zenzi Williams), Angelina’s dutiful assistant provided some much needed comedic relief.

Christmas With You had all the ingredients for a fabulous holiday movie and while there were some cute moments, I expected more. The fact that the storyline was very similar to this year’s Marry Me didn’t help as that was such a home run for me.

Rating: ♥♥

Falling For Christmas

Hotel heiress Sierra Belmont (Lindsay Lohan) has it all. A fabulous wardrobe, the best staff on hand and a handsome fiancé Tad (George Young). While out on a skiing trip, Sierra falls off the mountain, hits her head and loses her memory. When lodge owner Jake Russell (Chord Overstreet) finds her, he, his daughter Avy (Olivia Perez) and mother in law Alejandra (Alejandra Flores) take her in.

To start off the festive season with Falling For Christmas seemed fitting, especially as it was Lindsay Lohan’s triumphant return to acting! Not starring in a feature film since 2007, I was more than ready to have her back on the big screen. The charisma and charm she oozed was always refreshing, not to mention the fact that she was an idol to me growing up. I’m so glad that she got her life back on track and is now starring in movies again. Not only is she acting again, she is also back to singing too. Fans should keep their eyes peeled for the perfect Mean Girls throwback. If you know, you know.

While the movie had a lot of funny moments, at the forefront was the budding love story between Sierra and Jake. I thought the chemistry between Lohan and Overstreet was cute. Seeing how welcoming he was to her and how patient he was in regards to her getting her memory back was lovely to watch. The way in which they both interacted with Avy was cute too. In addition, the inclusion of Avy’s maternal grandmother was a nice touch; I thought the four of them made such an adorable little family.

Everything about this movie screamed Christmas. From the snowy mountains to the extravagant decorations , I was instantly transported to a happier place. It may only be the middle of November, but it’s never too early if you ask me. Falling For Christmas had everything a holiday movie is supposed to have: romance, comedy and warm and fuzzy feelings. This is one I will be adding to my annual rewatch list for sure.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Enola Holmes 2

Lovable detective Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) is back and this time she’s got her own business up and running. Following in her brother Sherlock’s (Henry Cavill) footsteps, she intends to stand out from the crowd, though that may not be as easy as she thought. But when a young girl comes into her shop and asks for Enola’s help to find her sister, everything changes. Something far more complicated than it seems, Enola must turn to her family and friends to solve the case.

Millie Bobby Brown was, once again, a force to be reckoned with. The absolute charisma and charm she brings to Enola is mesmerizing. Not only does she shine every time she is onscreen, the predicaments she constantly finds herself in take the audience on constant twists and turns that leaves them wondering how it will all come together. Similarly, I have always felt like Henry Cavill was a good fit as Sherlock. I liked that we had a bit more of him this time around.

The returns of both Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes and Louis Partridge as Tewkesbury was a welcome treat. In addition, the newcomers that were introduced to help flesh out the story were perfectly casted. David Thewlis was menacing as villain Grail and Sharon Duncan-Brewster was enigmatic enigmatic as Mira Troy. It was also fun getting to know Serrana Su-Ling Bliss and Hannah Dodd who played Matchstick Girls Bessie and Sarah respectively.

Speaking of the Matchstick Girls, the way in which their significance was woven into the film was such a brilliant move. Having the opportunity to learn more about them was not only fascinating to me, it was also very inspiring. I didn’t know anything about them prior to watching, but as soon as the film was over, I continued on with my research. I loved how Enola Holmes shed some light on this incredible step for women everywhere.

The original Enola Holmes film was such a home run for me, I wasn’t sure how its successor would hold up. I’m so happy to report that it was just as good, if not slightly better in certain ways. With Enola growing older, I feel like she’s not only becoming more relatable, she is also becoming a role model for women of all ages. The film is super fun with many hijinks along the way. It is definitely one of the best things that Netflix has ever gotten their hands on.

Rating:  ♥♥♥♥

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: ♥♥

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

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: ♥♥♥♥

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: ♥♥♥

Purple Hearts

Cassie Salazar (Sofia Carson) and Luke Morrow (Nicholas Galitzine) couldn’t be more opposite from each other if they tried. Cassie, a singer/songwriter, works every odd job in order to afford her diabetes medicine while Luke has decided to enlist in the military after a stint in rehab. Deciding to get married solely for the benefits they would both receive, the two believe their arrangement won’t last for longer than a year. But when Luke is injured in battle, everything changes.

To think I almost missed out on this movie. I wasn’t expecting much from it because, you know, Netflix. Their films have been more miss lately than hit and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I was in the mood for something romantic and this totally fit the bill. I have to say it actually exceeded my expectations in more ways than one and I’m still surprised over how much I liked it.

Carson and Galitzine shined together as the two leads. Their chemistry was palpable from their first scene in the bar and didn’t let up for one second. I liked how it was slow burn and how they really got to know each other before their feelings developed on a deeper level. The fake relationship trope was well done here, much to my delight.

While the film was predictable, I have to say that that didn’t deter my enjoyment of it. Sometimes it’s nice knowing that there will be a happy ending. It’s all about the journey that takes you there. I would have appreciated more in the final act, however. All the loose ends were tied up rather quickly and a bit too perfectly for my liking. There were certain conversations that should have been had, like between Cassie and her mother, that would have added a little more beef.

Overall, Purple Hearts was probably one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in a long time. I went into it not expecting anything and was really touched when it was done.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5