Annie Review: From stage to screen

 

I finally got to watch this movie!  YAY!

I remembered that the only time I really saw Annie was from one of my favorite VCDs that my mom bought me when I was a kid.  It was a cartoon version of Annie’s story minus the songs.  I watched it about a dozen times and till this day, I still can remember the different scenes.

Annie is the modern day remake of the classic Broadway show of the same name.  Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis), is a foster child who stays with her mean foster mom, Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and a couple of other kids.  Despite her situation, Annie toughs it out and takes each day as it comes until one day, when she accidentally bumps into wealthy billionaire and NYC’s mayoral candidate, Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx).  He saved her from an oncoming van, which got videotaped and put onto the internet; going viral almost instantaneously.  His political advisor (Bobby Cannavale) decides to use the instant fame to his advantage to boost Stacks’ numbers in the poll.  Will takes Annie into his home and slowly begins to learn things he never thought to learn from a 10-year old, which aided in his eventual acknowledgement to the importance of his assistant, Grace (Rose Byrne).

Quvenzhane Wallis;Jamie Foxx
“What do you mean the pretzels aren’t good?” Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment

I really enjoyed this movie on a whole.  I liked that they changed the perception of how Annie should look like and it gave the character a refreshing change.  I do admit that some of the singing came off a little flat at times but overall, the singing was pretty good.  Quvenzhané’s Annie is easy to love as soon as you see her come onto the screen.  She was able to engage me, the viewer to feel for her as soon as I am introduced to her character.  There are not many young actresses out there who are able to hold their own like she does (which would explain why she was nominated for an Oscar at the young age of 9).  Cameron’s Miss Hannigan was a joy to watch as well, providing some laughs in intense situations (for example the chase scene with the helicopter).

annie-2
“The sun will come out tomorrow!” Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Two things that I thought were pretty good from the film:

1. Showcasing the power of Social Media:  It was interesting to see the usage of Social Media being used to upload exciting moments while helping out with a serious situation at hand.  The fact that they kinda showed that Social Media wasn’t just something teenagers used to concern themselves was good.  It gives parents a perspective that sometimes, Social Media can be used for a greater good.  In this case, helping with pin pointing where Annie was going to end up so that they could save her.

2. Clever action sequence:  This was something I definitely didn’t expect to see.  The chasing scene with the helicopter and police cars were something that you would expect out of an action movie instead of a musical-dramedy.  But to my surprise, they cleverly weaved in an action sequence that gave you enough excitement to keep you at the edge of your seat (metaphorically and literally!).

All in all, Annie is a great family movie and I was enjoying myself immensely with the songs.  If you are thinking of a movie to rent, this would be a perfect one for all musical movie lovers!

Rating:

starstarstarstar

Random Friday Ramblings: Ranting

Look at all of these people.

They walk in as if they’ve never seen a place like this before.  I’ll bet you one out of every ten of them who walk through the doors don’t even know what they are here for.

It gets tiring – day after day, greeting people like I mean it.  Sure, some of the smart, classy ones deserve the greeting I give but the others, HA!  They don’t even know my name.  They just know me as that lady.  Don’t even get me started on those pesky kids.  I hate it when they come running through the doors and down the corridors, like it’s their own personal playground.  This is a highly regarded place with priceless gems, you irritating munchkins.  Have some respect and decorum.

But you know what’s the most annoying thing about these kids that I absolutely loathe?  They enjoy giving opinions about the way I look.  I’ll have you know that I am a beautiful and respectable woman with many suitors in my day.

Alright, alright.  That’s enough of my ranting.  It’s been a tiring day today and we’re about to close.  Sigh, just a few more and we’re done.

Just another hour of smiling.

I can do this.

~ * ~

“Mom, mom!” A little boy shouted. “Is this it?”

“Yes honey.” His mother replied.

The little boy and his mother both looked at the painting before them.

“What do you think, honey?” His mother asked. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

The little boy shrugged. “She’s fat.”

He looked away as his mother started to tell him facts she read from the guidebook.  He tuned out as soon as his attention landed on something else in the distance.  Not bothering to look at his mother, he went in the direction of his new fascination.  Realizing her son was not by her side anymore, his mother ran after him, leaving the gallery wing abruptly where the smiling portrait of Mona Lisa hung.

Random Friday Ramblings: Guest

“Welcome to Riverside bed and breakfast.”  She said.  “Checking in?”

The brunette took off her shades and smiled at the woman at the reception counter.  “Yes. For one.”

“Very good, miss. Could I have your driver’s license?”  She asked.

The brunette nodded and pulled out her wallet from the brown satchel her mother got for her 21st birthday.  She took out her driver’s license and handed it over to the woman.

While the woman went about doing the paperwork for her, she couldn’t help but look around at the quaint bed and breakfast she had picked for the weekend.  The brunette decided to come to the countryside for her long-running hidden adventures blog.  She jet-setted for a living as a travel writer and having some time to herself to explore the country she was born in, had always been her pet project.

“Miss Jenkins?”

She looked back at the woman and smiled apologetically.  “Sorry. I was just looking at the remarkable interior.”

“That’s quite alright.”  The woman said.  “This building has been seen a lot of years. It’s high time people appreciated it.”

She nodded in agreement with the woman before she took her driver’s license back.

“Your room is on the second floor, the second door to your right.”  The woman said.  “Breakfast is at 8am in the mornings. Feel free to enjoy our free wi-fi and explore the compounds.”

The brunette smiled.  “Thank you.”

Just as she was about to take the room key from the woman’s hand, she felt a tight grip on her wrist.  She looked up at the woman in confusion.

“Explore the compounds.”  She said.  “But whatever you do, no matter what you hear, don’t go near the door at the end of the corridor.”

Feeling uncomfortable, the brunette tried to free her wrist and she nearly lost her footing when the woman finally let go.  Not wanting to stay in the presence of the woman for another second longer, the brunette hurriedly picked up her weekend bag and headed up the stairs without looking back.

~ * ~

She entered her room and threw her weekend bag on the bed.  She walked over to the window to take in the view and stretched a little before turning to her weekend bag on the bed.  The afternoon looked perfect and she could use a little bit of sightseeing to clear her mind of the weird experience she had downstairs.  She pulled out her camera from her satchel and as she got ready to head down, she heard the muffled sound of something heavy drop to the floor.

She stopped whatever she was doing to listen for another sound before deciding that the sound could just be traveling from the outside since it was a pretty old house.  She shrugged and left her room.  She was just about to take a few steps in the direction of the stairs down to the reception area when she heard a sound coming from the door at the end of the corridor.

“… me”

The brunette heard talking.  She couldn’t make out the first word but she could make out the second.  She wanted to ignore it and listen to the weird instruction she got from the woman at the reception but she couldn’t.  She’s a travel writer and an explorer by nature.  There was no way she could leave this mystery door unopened.  She looked around to see if there was anyone out of their room but the whole corridor was empty.  She bit the corner of her lip as she made a turn and started walking towards the door she was warned not to get near.  As she stood in front of the brown wooden door, the sounds got louder.  It all came to a sudden stop when she reached for the door handle.

As her hand gripped the handle, she thought about leaving, but her curiosity got the better of her and she pushed the handle downwards.

~ * ~

The old cleaning lady came down the stairs towards the woman at the reception.

“Looks like he’s got another one today.”

The woman at the reception looked up from her documents.  “What? Again? But… It’s too soon.”

“It’s the one from this afternoon.”  The old cleaning lady said.

“Miss Jenkins?”  The woman asked.  “I tried to save her.”

The old cleaning lady shrugged.  “Well, she didn’t take your advice.  I found her camera outside.”

She put the camera with a broken lens on the reception counter.  “She must have struggled… Poor woman.”

The woman sighed.  “I’ll put them in with the others.”

She took the camera by the strap as she headed towards the management office.  She opened the door and switched on the lights as it illuminated the room. Cameras lined the shelves, row after row of tourists who mysteriously disappeared during their stay at the bed and breakfast.  She looked around for an empty spot and when she found it, she moved to place the camera.

As she was walking back out, she looked at the newspaper clipping on the wall and sighed.

‘The Riverside Killer escapes – police suspects help from family’

She touched the framed picture on the wall, where she was standing in between a black-haired man and the cleaning lady.  She lightly touched the face of the man when she heard the bell at the door ring.

She straightened up and smiled to herself.  “Well, here we go.”

A new guest has arrived.

The Woman in Black: Angel of Death Review: Scaring in the 1940s

 

London, 1941.  The Woman in Black: Angel of Death begins 40 years after Arthur Kipps’ experience at Eel Marsh house.  To escape war-torn London, Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox), alongside her school’s headmistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) accompanies a group of children to the countryside town of Crythin Gifford.  There, they moved into Eel Marsh house, a safe but oddly dilapidating house.  Within the first night of living in the house, Eve starts to sense that something wasn’t right with the house.  Her concern was further affirmed when children started disappearing, only to end up dead when they are found.  Together with the help of a dashing young pilot named Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine), whom she met on the train, Eve was determined to protect the children as she finds out the truth behind the hauntings in the house.

For those of you who haven’t seen the first movie, watch that first.  It would be easier to understand The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.

twibaod-1
“Welcome to your new horror-I mean new home!” Source: Alliance Films

Now, I thought the movie was pretty good.  Although I’ve read the book and knew which parts were scary, I still jumped during the suspenseful parts.  Despite that, there were some differences between the book and the movie.  Yes, they might have been minor details but it would have been nice to see the similarities.  Apart from it being a pretty good horror film, there were parts where the horror element seemed to have been lost.  One such part was when Eve was looking through this hole in the floor of the second level nursery.  They did a close up shot of her back, had some sound effects before changing to a long shot where the woman in black was hanging with a noose around her neck.  Instead of getting scared, I was slightly confused as to what was happening.  Along with the other people in the cinema, we were all late to react at a scene where it should have been scary.

All in all, this was a pretty good horror film but it will never be as good as my personal favorite, Insidious.  If you are looking for a damn good scare, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death might not be suitable for you.  But if you’ve watched the first installment, I’d recommend you go ahead and catch this.

Rating:

starstarstar

Into The Woods Review: A dark twist to fairytales

 

This was one of the films that I was very excited to catch.  Into The Woods is a musical that was adapted and made into a movie.  It tells the tale of a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), who wishes to have a child.  A witch (Meryl Streep) visits them, giving them an opportunity to change their cursed barren lives by tasking them to find four items for her from the woods.  In this journey,  they meet four other characters who will help them in their quest – Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), Little Red (Lilla Crawford), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and Cinderella (Anna Kendrick).

Now, the ending of Into The Woods could be baffling for some and I can understand why.  Like fairy tales, we are led to think that the movie would have a happy ending.  But, no.  The ending resulted in several deaths, mishaps and a break-up.  I don’t want to give spoilers away for those who haven’t caught the film, so I’ll try to leave out the details.

INTO THE WOODS
“Oh crap. Here comes those critics.” Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

My theory for the some what strange ending is this: “Every wish comes with a price.”  As you’ll see at the start of the movie, the characters break out in a huge musical number called ‘I wish’ – in which, most of them are wishing for a particular thing that they want (A child, going to the festival, bread, cow that produces milk).  Even the witch, who longed to be beautiful again.  In turn, their wishes all come true, resulting in their happy ending for a while before each of them had to pay the price.  The only reason why Rapunzel wasn’t involved was because her story was not made out of a wish.  Granted, she did wish to get out of her tower but when she did, she already paid the price (losing her long golden locks, getting banished and thinking her love had died).  Her happy ending was that of true love, which made her and her prince the only characters to leave the woods happily.

Although the film didn’t quite give endings the way we expected it to, it is still a pretty good film.  I’d recommend it to anyone who just wants to be swept away to a magical land for 2 hours.

Rating:

starstarstarstar

Random Friday Ramblings: Imitation

I sit with my friends, patiently awaiting her arrival everyday.  She always glances over at me when she sees me and smiles silently to herself.  I know I’m a looker but she never approaches me no matter how hard I try to flirt with her.  My friends would tell me that she’s waiting – biding her time until she had the courage to approach me.  I guess they’re right.

~ * ~

Today was different.  She was walking towards us this time. My pal Bruno, tries to strike up a conversation with her, giving her the details on how good I was.  That’s why he’s my best wing-man.  He tries to get her to lock eyes with me. She freezes up a little, hesitant to approach me.  I just about had her in my grasp when her friend runs up to her, pulling her away from me – away from all of us.  I watched as her friend rushes her towards the subway station, feeling despondent.  I nearly had the girl of my dreams but I let her slip away.

The next morning, we were at our usual spot.  I can’t say I was in good spirits today but I was hopeful.  Bruno was easily striking up conversations for the rest of the guys, successful with some and unsuccessful with others.  As the days went by, I felt restless and began to lose hope of seeing her today… Until I saw her.  I could have sworn I felt my heart race, ready to get a second chance.  But as she came nearer, I lost all hope.  She had gotten someone new.  Someone who looked similar to me except, he seemed to have better looks.  I gave up as I let Bruno do the introductions, knowing that it’s the end.

~ * ~

“Hey lady!” Bruno said. “Still interested?”

“Uh, no thanks!” She said, with a smile as she clutched her new Michael Kors satchel. “I would have gotten the imitation if my friend hadn’t got me the real one for my birthday.  You have a good day, sir!”

Bruno shrugged and put the similar satchel back with the rest.

“Ladies, ladies!  Feast your eyes on this designer bags!  Michael Kors, Moschino, Kate Spade, Coach, DKNY!  You name it, we have it!  No more than $100!”

The Imitation Game Review: How to win a war

Walking out of the preview of this movie, I could only clap my hands for the wonderful performance of the cast before feeling angry on Alan Turing’s behalf.

The Imitation Game is a film about Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a British Mathematician who was a key figure in cracking the Germans’ Enigma code, which helped the allies win the war.  But after the war, his good name was disgraced on account of being arrested and found guilty of indecency due to him being a homosexual.

This was a brilliant film that was very well-made with a fantastic cast that embodies the characters to a t.  In a short span of about two hours, I felt like I was someone who suddenly knew Alan Turing as well as a friend and was willing to do anything to protect him.   Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing made him so human that it took me only a few minutes before I started to feel attached to the character.  There was so much to Alan Turing besides him being a genius.  He was a man that was in constant pain due to the loss of his dear friend and possibly one true love but he couldn’t tell anyone.  He had to keep it all inside because it was illegal at that time to be in love with another man.

tig-1
“Hmm. This seems tougher than the Holmes cases I’ve done.” Source: The Weinstein Company

The part that really got me was towards the end of the movie, when he gets arrested because the police found out he was a homosexual.  Alan was given two choices by the government: go to prison or take hormonal drugs to suppress/rid him of his homosexuality.  He chose the latter.  Till now, it brings tears to my eyes to think about how a brilliant man like Alan Turing, who helped to win the war, had to be subjected to humiliation and sadness.  He didn’t want to go to prison not because he was afraid but because he didn’t want to part with his work.  He didn’t want to part with the things that made him feel closer to the only person he ever loved.

If only I could travel back in time, I would tell Alan that it gets better.  No man should have to pass on like this.  It was unfair to him.  I felt pissed when the film mentioned that he got a pardon in 2013 for the indecency charge and his works were all being recognized – almost 60 years after he died.

All in all, the movie is wonderful and a must-watch.  A brilliant and masterful performance by the great Benedict Cumberbatch.  I’d like to think that Alan would have been proud that his story was finally being told.

Rating:

starstarstarstarhalfstar

Taken 3 Review: Daddy saves the day once more

When I heard there was going to be a part three for this, I had the same reaction as everyone else.  I mean… What else can you take from this poor guy?  First, you took his daughter. Then you took him and his ex-wife. So, now what?  You’re going to take the dog he doesn’t have?!  Don’t get me wrong.  I love this franchise.  I really do.  I often imagine my dad having Liam Neeson’s skills but I don’t think he’ll be able to be threatening enough to get me back.  To be honest, I think he would actually try once but when they tell him ‘good luck in getting your daughter back’, he’ll probably shrug and go, ‘Well, I tried. At least there’s one less thing to worry about now.’

Taken 3 is a little different this time in a sense that what’s taken from Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) this time, is not just a person but also his innocence.  In this film, Bryan comes home to see his wife dead in his bed.  She had been murdered by someone, who had conveniently framed him for the murder.  In order to prove his innocence and protect his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), he has to do what he does best – hunt down the sons of bitches who did this.

t3-1
“I’m sorry you have to go through this again.” Source: 20th Century Fox

It may seem like a simple story line but there were quite a lot of plot twists.  In all honesty, this wasn’t what I had expected.  He hadn’t crossed paths with any of the characters he was chasing this time and it really was an action-packed ride till the end.  I would say the action sequence were bigger this time especially the plane chasing scene at the end.  Despite it being somewhat unbelievable, it’s hard to even care when you are on the edge of your seat.  And of course, Mr Neeson’s deep voice and cool stance still never fails to make any 20 to 30 year-old wish he was their dad.

This is really an action movie worth catching if you are into car chases, hand to hand combat and explosions.  I do hope that this is REALLY REALLY REALLY the last film for the Taken franchise but knowing that it is Hollywood and milking franchises is the best way to go… I wouldn’t be surprised if Taken 4 hits theaters 2017.

Rating:

starstarstar

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them Review: A true romantic story

So, I had wanted to watch this movie since I last heard of its existence.  I know that there are two other movies before this one, but I was unable to catch them (because the cinemas here are not into showing good films).  One of the reasons I went to watch this film was because of the amazing Jessica Chastain.  I’ve been her fan since The Help and can only say that she grows more talented with each film she’s in.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, is the third installment to this title.  The previous two were titled Him and Her – each telling their side of the story.  This film, however, was portrayed from a third person’s point of view.  The story tells of a couple, Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Connor (James McAvoy), who were very much in love and ended up getting married.  After tragedy struck the couple, they struggled to go on with their lives.  Eleanor attempted to commit suicide but failed and ended up moving back home with her parents after getting discharged from the hospital.  There, she sought shelter and used it as a place to avoid her husband.  All this while, Connor is looking for his wife and finds no trace of her.  He slowly gives up and moves out of their apartment in the city to live with his dad.  As Eleanor decides to move on with her life, she returns to the City to continue her studies.  Connor finds out she’s back and the two are forced to finally face the gaping hole in their relationship.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY
“Are you telling me that I’m not better than Fassbender in X-Men!?” Source: Unison Films

Despite mixed reviews (the two ladies who watched the movie and started talking about it in the washroom), I felt that this movie tugged at the heart strings and it was quite simply a film about a couple learning to cope with grief.  I don’t want to reveal what their tragedy was because.. Spoilers!  When a tragedy like theirs strikes, it is hard to continue with life the way it was before.  There is nothing that one can say or do, like sweep the issue under the rug, when the tragedy has already affected them.  This film also shows how different people cope with the loss of their dreams, time with loved ones.  The entire cast portrayed their characters exceptionally well, making me believe that just for that 2 hours, they were just ordinary people (like you and me), running from their problems and grief.

This is definitely one of Jessica Chastain’s great performances and I highly recommend this movie to folks who enjoy Indie Drama films or are Jessica Chastain’s fans, like me!

Rating:

starstarstarstar

Random Friday Ramblings: Smile

 

She looks across at the man sitting right opposite her on the train.  He didn’t look older than 30 and boy, did his tan skin accentuate his handsome features.  As ‘Break the rules‘ by Charli XCX continued blasting through her headphones, she thought about what it was like to run her fingers through his thick jet-black hair.  She smiled to herself, feeling her cheeks heat up at the thought.


He looked at the girl sitting across him.  She was smiling to herself.  Her blonde hair as yellow as corn and her cheeks turning rosier by the second.  He smiled to himself.  “She’s the one.”


The old woman next to the girl nudged her.  She snapped out of her dreamy thoughts of the man on the train and pulled off her headphones.  She looked to her right to meet the expression of a rather unhappy old lady.

“I-I’m sorry…”  she said,  “Is my music too loud?”

The old lady’s features stayed as it was. “Stop smiling.”

“I’m sorry… Did you just ask me to stop smiling?”  The girl asked.
“If you don’t stop doing it, you’re going to regret it.”  The old lady replied.

The girl frowned.  “I do believe that if I feel like smiling, I can. It is none of your business and you have no right to threaten me!”

With her eyebrows still furrowed and her mood now ruined, she put her headphones back on, turning the volume a notch louder than it was before.  She hoped her music was now loud enough to annoy the old woman beside her.  Her eyes wandered back to where the man sat, hoping to catch a glimpse of him again. Only this time, he was no longer there.  She looked around but he seemed to have dropped off while she was giving the old woman a piece of her mind.  Disappointed, she slouched back into her seat, silently hoping to meet him again the next day.

She entered her apartment.  “I’m home!”

“Daisy! Come in here.”  She heard her house-mate call.  “You’ve got to see this.”

She walked into the living room and looked at her house-mate, who was watching the television intently.

“What’s this?”  Daisy asked.
“It’s breaking news.”  She replied.

Her house-mate looked at her.  “Wait, were you on this train home?”

She looked at the station where the news crew was reporting from – it was the last stop on her line.

“I think so.. But, what does that have to do with the news?”  Daisy said.
“Someone was murdered on the train.”  She said.
“What?”  Daisy said.
“Someone said it happened while they were going through the tunnel.”  She explained.
“Well someone would have heard her scream.”  Daisy said.
“That’s if she could have screamed.”  She replied.

Her house-mate gestured to the interview between the reporter and the police officer.

“The victim is a female in her early 20s.  She has blond hair and was sitting in the 3rd carriage.  We believe that during her attack, she wasn’t able to scream for help because the killer slashed her throat from the left to the right, like a smile. Witnesses said they remembered her sitting in one of the seats, plugged into her iPod.  There was no one around her that was acting suspicious, neither did she seem like she knew anyone on the train.  We are still working on getting more information at this point.”

Daisy fell into the couch as her mind started swimming with what ifs and what could have been when she heard a familiar voice come through the television.

“I’m telling you – you have to be careful of that man! He’s the one who killed her! When he sees you smile on the train, he’ll come for you.”

Daisy immediately looked up to see the face of the old lady, who she was seated next to, on the train.

“This is the man who killed that girl.”  The old lady said, showing the camera a drawing of the man.

Daisy felt a sudden urge to hurl the contents of her dinner.  It was him.  The man she had sat opposite on the train.  The one she was smiling about.  If the old lady hadn’t stopped her from smiling, she might not have been safe in her apartment, next to her friend.

“Did you see that guy on the train?”  Her house-mate asked.

She felt a chill run down her spine as she thought of the first time she laid her eyes on him.  Determined to remember this as a lesson and that she was nearly a victim, she nodded.

“Phew.  Thank God you’re safe!”  Her house-mate said, giving her a side hug.

“You know… Come to think of it… You actually fit the description of the victim.”  Her house-mate said, breaking the hug.  “You’re lucky he didn’t see you.”

Daisy nodded as she looked at the old lady, still ranting on-screen.  “Yeah… I am lucky… Very lucky.”