Currently browsing the "Romance" category.

Review: Vita & Virginia

Vita Sackville-West was a British socialite and a popular writer in the 1920s. She was also fond of scandalizing the society in which she lived, especially with her female lovers. Virginia Woolf was also a writer at the time, though less popular, but Lady Sackville-West set her sights on her after meeting at a dinner party. What followed was a relationship that lasted a decade and was responsible for one of Woolf’s greatest books, “Orlando.” Vita & Virginia is the story of these two women as they come together passionately for a while and then remain friends for a while. The film feels a lot like the lost lesbian episode of Downton Abbey, and while the performances are quite good, the costumes gorgeous, and the sets to die for, this telling of the famous literary romance does leave you less than satisfied and wishing Julian Fellowes had had a hand in it.

Review: Yesterday

Quick – try and recite the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby (“picks up the rice in the church…”) Not so easy, is it? Imagine having to recount the music and lyrics to all the Beatles classics – or risk having them gone forever? That’s a dilemma central to the premise of Yesterday, a somewhat bland yet charming cinematic tribute to the Beatles – and to love, love, love.

Won’t you please, please help me… stop singing so I can tell you about the movie? Don’t let me down. Here goes:

Review: Always Be My Maybe

The Netflix film Always Be My Maybe unfurls like a pleasant enough romantic comedy of the Hallmark Channel variety – until Keanu Reeves (John Wick, Speed) shows up. He’s like a breath of fresh air injected into the cinematic wind of what might otherwise be dismissed as an utterly predictable and formulaic film. I can’t go into detail about Reeves’ cameo, but the trailer (see below) offers up a quick tease. Always Be My Maybe tells the story of two childhood sweethearts, Sasha Tran (actress/comedian Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Fresh Off the Boat) who reconnect after 15 years on the outs. She’s grown into an ambitious celebrity chef, always on the move; he’s grown into… well… the kind of guy who still lives at home, smokes weed, works for his dad, and plays in a local band that could be more successful if he just took a chance. See where this is going?

Quickie Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a Star is a fine though forgettable romantic drama for the YA crowd and possibly others who’ve read the best-selling novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon, the author of “Everything, Everything,” which was turned into a movie that included such a dreadful twist that I declined to post a review back in 2017. The Sun Is Also a Star has the same general vibe and target audience as Everything, Everything but is significantly better, better. It’s a meet-cute movie that delves into themes of love, chemistry, destiny, fate, immigration, deportation and assimilation. All in the span of a (rather slow) day.

Review: Long Shot

Seth Rogen comedies tend to be hit or miss for me. Long Shot straddles the line, eeking out on the side of okay, though somewhat disappointing given the tremendous buzz it received coming out of the uber-cool SXSW film festival. Maybe I’m just getting old. But I don’t find the idea of a Secretary of State defusing a crisis while high on ecstasy to be all that funny. It is, however, quintessential Rogen. So if you’re a fan of films like This Is The End, Superbad and Pineapple Express, then you know what you’re in for with Long Shot. The biggest difference is that Long Shot aims for romantic political comedy in addition to raunchy comedy, with an assist from Oscar-winning dramatic actress Charlize Theron (Monster, Tully, Atomic Blonde).

Review: Five Feet Apart

Haven’t I seen this movie somewhere before? Yes, Five Feet Apart does indeed look a lot like the 2014 ailing-teen romantic drama tearjerker, The Fault in Our Stars. Only this time around, the affliction casting a shadow over budding romance is cystic fibrosis rather than cancer. The bottom line remains the same: chronic and terminal diseases suck. And while love can’t always conquer all, the battle is still worth fighting. Cue the melodramatic score and pass the tissues, please.

Review: Isn’t It Romantic

Isn’t It Romantic unabashedly satirizes and celebrates the RomCom, a genre I just so happen to unabashedly embrace. So while the movie falls far short of the classics it draws upon for inspiration (Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, 13 Going on 30, Sweet Home Alabama, Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally…), it’s still an entertaining watch. Isn’t It Romantic seems hyper-aware of its flaws and limitations, closing with a cheesy musical number a mere 80 minutes or so after the plot – such as it is – begins to unfold, starting with a bonk on the head. You know the drill. Revel in it. Or recoil from it. Those are your only options.

Quickie Reviews: The Isle; Untogether

The Isle is for the horror flick lovers out there. It’s set in 1846 on an island off the coast of Scotland that is shrouded in mist. Three survivors of a shipwreck row ashore to find it nearly abandoned. But then they meet the only four people still living there, a couple of women and a couple of men. And they can tell that things are not normal, and the island folks are not opening up about what happened to all the others who lived there, and the 3 men really want to get off the island, but can’t seem to find a way. Then they start dying. It takes some time for the men to figure what’s happening, and once they do, they’re powerless against it.

Review: What Men Want

What men should want is not to be dragged to this movie for Valentine’s Day. And what men – and women – deserve is a stronger spin on a plot device that worked quite well in Nancy Meyers’ 2000 romantic comedy What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Gibson (before he went all weird on us) played a chauvinistic executive who learned something about himself – and his treatment of women – after a mishap gave him the ability to hear women’s inner thoughts. This time around, the genders are reversed. Taraji P. Henson plays Ali Davis, a successful sports agent in Atlanta who gains the ability to hear men’s inner thoughts. She hopes to use her newfound power (a blessing and a curse) to score a high-profile client, and land the promotion she is entitled to in the boy’s club that is her workplace.

Review: Cold War

In this passionate love story set in Soviet-era Poland, Zula, a young singer with a past, enters a state-run performing academy where she meets the love of her life, Wictor, the pianist-musical director of the program. The film follows their on-again and off-again relationship across decades as they escape the Iron Curtain and ultimately return. Music is a key element of the story. There is one folk song that is sung first as an audition piece, then as a chorus in concert, then as a Polish jazz song, then translated into French. And Joanna Kulig’s performance as Zula is particularly powerful. Not only does she sing beautifully, but her face lights up the screen.