About Melissa Sanchez

Melissa is a movie fanatic, television show addict, book worm and lover of all things artsy. A few of her favorite things in life include, Hitchock and Tarantino films, Game of Thrones, red wine, French macaroons, museums, Howard Stern and anything and everything Star Wars related. She is a San Diego native and in her spare time enjoys hanging out with her husband, family, and friends.

Lady Bird – Film Review


LB5Lady Bird is a thoughtful and engaging coming of age story that depicts the melodrama that occurs in some teenager’s lives. It shows a time when most adolescents are self-absorbed, yet still dependent on their relationships with their parents. As much as they think they have it figured out; they don’t at all. The film Lady Bird is actor and screenwriter Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, and from what I saw this is certainly an entrance into what will one day be a well-versed filmography to look back upon.

The story is told from 2002-2003 a time that felt much different than today’s social media driven world. Considering it was post-9/11, when fears were being inbred into society, people were still not yet tied to capturing every moment of the news, nor were teenagers tied to their cellphones. Lady Bird is the name that high school senior Christine McPherson (Saorise Ronan) gave to herself because her given name just didn’t feel like her. She is filled with bravado, yet completely vulnerable to the realities of adolescence like heartbreak, rejection, and trying to fit in.

LB2The film is set in Sacramento, CA, an agricultural sleepy city, where Lady Bird feels like nothing happens, she wants to move to New York City, “where the culture is,” as she tells her mom when she tries to convince her to let her apply to colleges on the East Coast. Her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) wants her to stay in California, where in-state tuition will be cheaper and where she can stay close to the family. Marion is one of the most passive-aggressive mother’s I have ever seen on screen. She loves Lady Bird, we can feel it, but she never tells her she looks pretty or that is she doing great with her life. Instead it is a constant barrage of comments that she is not smart enough to get into a good school, an unappreciative brat, and lacks any grasp on the realities of the world.

One of the best scenes in the film is when Marion tells Lady Bird to fold her catholic school uniform and to take care of it because they cannot afford to buy more clothes because her father just got laid off. Who would want to hire a man with a family who looks disheveled, she tells her. Lady Bird says to her that wouldn’t it be great to have a mom who wouldn’t always make you fold your clothes, to which her mother retorts with “well my mother was an abusive alcoholic,” and walks away. In that moment we see the whole reason perhaps why her mother behaves the way she does and in a sense Lady Bird feels, but doesn’t really get it yet because she is too young. It is a defining moment in understanding the paradigm in her relationship with her mother.

LB3The film takes us through Lady Bird’s senior year, coupled with laugh out loud moments with her best friend, tenuous talks with school counselors, priests, and the head nun, and romantic possibilities and heartbreak. Gerwig gives us some teenage movie clichés, but she finds a way to mix them into feeling much more real and visceral, than other ones we have seen before. 

Ronan carries the film differently than she did last year with Brooklyn, where with that character she was innocent and longing, here she is completely vulnerable and somewhat extreme. She pushes the envelope because her character demands it, to have held back too much, or in the hands of another actress, the character could have been unlikeable and maybe even a bit annoying. Instead Ronan infuses her as the girl we have sometimes felt like, the one who says awkward things and tries too hard, yet also the girl who knows how to say just the right thing. 

LB4Metcalf was brilliant, I could see both actresses getting an Oscar nomination. The rest of the supporting cast played beautifully against the two women, Tracy Letts as the father, compassionate and soft against two forceful women, and Lucas Hedges (from last year’s Oscar nominated Manchester by the Sea) as Danny, and Timothee Chalamet as Kyle, her two pseudo-love interests. There was also her best-friend Beanie Feldstein as Julie, the shy and quirky best-friend who shone much brighter than she did as the ditzy sorority girl in Neighbors 2. I enjoyed the fact that not once did the movie make any note of Julie’s weight, it was never an issue brought to light as it so many times in movies. Instead it was never even a point of distraction or mention, which lent to the way the story was told.

By the end we see that Lady Bird can fly, she just needs to learn how to navigate her wings properly along the way. I would recommend this film to viewers and believe that it is worth seeing over some of the big blockbuster hits that will be coming out soon. Definitely one to watch in my book.

LB1Starring: Saoirse RonanOdeya RushTimothée Chalamet ,Laurie Metcalf, Kathryn Newton, Jake McDorman, Lucas Hedges, Danielle Macdonald, Lois Smith

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Written by: Greta Gerwig

MPAA rating: R

Running time: 94 minutes

Rating: 4

Goodbye Christopher Robin – Film Review

CR2The charming character of Winnie-the-Pooh gives way to warm, childhood memories, but the reality is the children’s classic was wrought with the lifeblood of the author. The film Goodbye Christopher Robin, directed by Simon Curtis, tells the true story of how the character and book by A.A. Milne came to fruition. What appears to be a heartfelt and loving story on the outside is actually a quite depressing and sad tale of post-traumatic stress syndrome and childhood abandonment.

Milne (Domnhall Gleeson) also known as Blue by friends and family, has just returned from World War I trench warfare and is trying to assimilate back into London’s high society. He was a playwright and essayist who wrote humorous stories and comedies before the war. Once back at home, the sounds of the world plague him with frightful memories of dead soldiers and machine guns. His wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), a socialite who is ripe for the fanfare of the 1920’s, just wants him to get over it and go back to his work.

To cheer him up, she has a baby boy who she hopes will occupy his mind. Christopher Robin is born and his birth doesn’t seem to change their life too much. They hire a nanny Olive (Kelly MacDonald), who tends to him and becomes almost a second mother to the boy. The Milnes continue to live their social lives, while the boy stays with the nanny. Christopher is known by Billy Moon (Will Tilston), in a sense it is his alter ego, the Milne’s enjoyed that strange escapism of calling each other by a different name.

CR6With his PTSD in full force, Milne decides to move the family to the countryside to Sussex, so he can write a novel about war and get it out of “his system,” as his wife likes to refer to it. The problem is Milne can’t seem to get anything out. When Daphne leaves to the city, and the nanny goes to tend to her dying mother, Milne is left alone to care for his child. The little boy just wants his father’s attention.

Milne finally gives in to Billy Moon and begins to play along with him and his adventures with his stuffed animals. His favorite being a cuddly bear named Edward. When Milne takes a step back and sees how much joy these stuffed animals bring his son, he brings his illustrator friend Ernest H. Shepard (Stephen Campbell) to help him make the images for his children’s book. The two follow the boy around the forest, Ernest sketching away furiously, while Milne takes mental notes for reference. Edward the bear turns into Winnie-The-Pooh (another alter-ego) because as he says, all great leaders have a “the” in their name.

CR4The book becomes a sensation, the world needed some happiness after World War I, and they could not get enough of Christopher Robin and his bear. His son becomes immortalized in the book and an instant star. The Milne’s in a sense sell out and exploit their son. They put him on a booked schedule of interviews, photo ops, and parties. His mother is cold and doesn’t care and Milne remains just as reserved and distant as ever. The only person who seems to care about his wellbeing is the nanny.

We later see Billy Moon (Alex Lawther) as a young adult who wants to serve his country in World War II. He is constantly belittled and taunted because he is “Christopher Robin”. He feels that becoming a soldier could allow him to lose his book character identity. The film twists and turns with sad and minor uplifting moments.

I enjoyed the backstory of how Winnie-The-Pooh came to be and to find out who Christopher Robin and A.A. Milne really were versus the Disney version I imagined. The Milne’s had no emotion and didn’t know how to care for their child, it was sad to see the way they treated their son. Were they just products of the Victorian era, or had WWI swallowed them up?  

CR2Gleeson and Robbie gave good performances, and MacDonald gave the film a sense of light and airiness that it needed. Newcomer Tilston delivered his lines with cheekiness and sass and made you fall in love with him.

The film was endearing and sad, yet I felt that it was missing a cohesive story arc. It flopped around with time, and it felt like some of the emotion that came from Billy Moon as an adult felt a bit off. We see him go from a child to adult in a minute, with nothing in the middle, same for the parents.

This was a good movie overall; the actors were good. and the story was interesting. Is it an Oscar contender? Not at all. Regardless, I would still recommend seeing the film as it delivered a thought-provoking look at how a simple toy changed the mind and hearts of the author and the world around him.



Starring: Vicki Pepperdine, Margot Robbie, Alan Milne, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther, Stephen Campbell Moore, Richard McCabe, Geraldine Somerville

Directed by: Simon Curtis

Written by: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughn

MPAA rating: PG

Running time: 107 minutes

Rating: 3

The Beguiled – Film Review


B10Director Sofia Coppola is known for her distinct viewpoint and stylistic mise-en-scène or better said the visual way she puts together a scene, rich with details, color, and most of all feeling. The main feature of all her films is the female mind; how women take in and feel about their sexuality, whether coming of age or mature, their friendships with one another and men, and their overall desire to find and make sense of their place in the world. Today’s films are filled with the male perspective, the male gaze, the male everything you could say, I can’t imagine that Transformers was made with a woman’s point of view in mind, and that is what makes Coppola so special as a director. In her new film, The Beguiled, she gives audiences a melancholic and poignant tale of a group of women and their need for or perhaps rejection of men in a post-Civil War era.

The film is simple on the surface, yet it is a complex story of what happens when a man suddenly disrupts the lives of five females isolated from the world. The film starts out with eleven-year-old Amy going out into the woods to search for mushrooms, when suddenly she comes upon a soldier. Corporal McBurney, a Yankee, is wounded with a bad leg and can barely walk. He ran away from his regiment and is now stuck on Confederate grounds and knows he is doomed if he stays there. He pleads with her and she takes him back to her boarding school for help. When she arrives with him, the girls and women are stunned and shocked, not only is he a Yankee (they really hate Northerners), he is a man.

B6At the boarding school, led by the head mistress Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) and the school’s main teacher Edwina (Kristen Dunst), the women are kept in charge of the young girls who are left. The rest have been taken back to their homes or have been left behind due to the war. These women haven’t seen their husbands, fathers, brothers, and family in years, so the presence of a man in their home is quite alarming.

Martha performs a quick, somewhat haphazard surgery on his leg and it is decided he can stay till he heals. At first they were going to tie a blue bandana around the gate to signal that they had a Yankee in their house, but for some reason they decide not to send him away. His presence stirs in everyone different emotions, for the young girls, perhaps a fatherly figure, for (Alicia) Elle Fanning, the older teenager of the group, he represents the sexuality that young hormonal women desire, and for Edwina, he seems the most important, as he could be her way out of the house. As a lover and maybe even a husband, if the opportunity arose. Alicia twirls her hair and looks at him longingly, while Edwina adorns herself with earrings and broches to show herself off. All the women vie for his attention and approval despite the fact that just a few days ago they wanted him out of their premises.

B8In one of the scenes, Martha hand washes McBurney’s body and slowly wipes him down. The feeling of constraint and desire can be felt, yet Coppola doesn’t show us all, she leaves us hanging with the image and the feeling Martha must have felt considering she hadn’t felt a male body in years. That sense of wanting yet holding back is shown delicately, and in essence it is what makes this film so captivating and interesting.

What happens from here is enthralling and intense. Tension flies high and the women become emblazoned and bolder in each scene, yet at the same time completely proper and dignified like true Southern ladies.

The movie was beautifully shot by cinematographer Phillipe Le Sourd. Each scene was visually stunning, with soft lighting coming in by candlelight. This helped to create an atmosphere that seemed both haunting and thrilling to watch.

B2All of the actresses in the film played beautifully against one another. While Fanning stood as a real scene-stealer, her hormonal desires and the broodiness she felt being stuck in the big house could be felt. Dunst also delivered and gave a performance that was restrained and innocent, yet we could always feel that there was something deeper going on inside Edwina.

Kidman was great as the head mistress; she was in charge and let it be known that she didn’t need any kind of male figure to keep her going. In a sense she represented all of the women that were left behind in that era. They had no choice but to pick up the pieces and make do with the life they were left with, abandoned by family and male figures. Ferrell was probably the best character, he had so much duality to him, and that is what kept us on the edge of our seats. At times he was kind and passive, and at other times filled with rage and fury at his plot in life.

I highly recommend going out and seeing this movie. It does not have robots, mutants, or death defying action scenes; instead it gives audiences something a little more meaningful and interesting to sink their teeth into this summer.

B1Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard, Wayne Pére

Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Written by: Sofia Coppola, adapted from the novel by Thomas Cullinan

MPAA rating: R

Running time: 93 minutes

Rating: 4



Rough Night – Film Review


Rough Night Rough Night is co-written and directed by Lucia Aniello. The film loosely borrows their plot from the 90’s movie Very Bad Things, the Christian Slater flick where a prostitute is killed at a bachelor party, The Hangover; for obvious reasons, and Bridesmaids for melding in the antics and hilarity of women prepping themselves for their friend’s wedding. It takes all these plots and tries really hard to be funny.

The film centers on bride-to-be Jess (Scarlett Johansson) and her group of old college friends who band together to throw her the bachelorette party weekend of her dreams. The crew heads to Miami to let their hair down and help Jess get crazy. Alice (Jillian Bell), is the trip planner and considers herself to be Jess’ bestie. Then there’s Frankie (Ilana Glazer), the token lesbian and activist who’s on house arrest and Blair (Zoe Kravitz), the Posh Spice of the group with a sleek bob haircut and tailored outfits. Blair used to date Frankie; and is now in the middle of divorcing her son’s father. Lastly, there is Pippa (Kate McKinnon) Jess’ friend from Australia, who is a bit kooky with a bohemian flair to her.

Now that we got the characters straight, the film goes where we expect it to go, crazy night out. The crew takes a ton of shots, wears the typical pink bachelorette sashes around town, and does a ton of cocaine like they are reliving their college years. At the end of the night they decide to order pizza and a stripper. One thing leads to another and the stripper ends up dead. Simultaneously, Jess’ fiancée Peter (Paul W. Downs) is having his own bachelor weekend with his pals, and it’s full of wine tasting and talking about their feelings.

Rough Night I feel like this movie had so much potential to be absolutely amazing and funny, comedy of the year, but instead it just fell lackluster and overdone. It’s a big mash of craziness. I absolutely love the majority of these actresses, Glazer is hilarious, Bell is so funny in the way that she says her lines with dead pan sincerity, and McKinnon delivers every single time. Unfortunately, the plot fell short and left us wanting something a little more original.

The best part of the film were the cameos by Demi Moore and Ty Burrell, you have to see it to believe it, they were comical to say the least. I feel like this movie would be fun to see with girlfriends for a night out, actually, more like a Netflix night-in. I don’t think anyone needs to rush out the door to see this one.

Rough Night
Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, Paul W. Downs, Ryan Cooper, Ty Burrell

Directed by: Lucia Aniello

Written by: Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs

MPAA rating: R

Running time: 101 minutes

Rating: 3



SDLFF Shows Hit After Hit

The San Diego Latino Film Festival featured some wonderful and eye-opening films this year. I had the pleasure of seeing quite a few, here’s a rundown of some of my fave flicks.

Treintona, Soltera, Y Fantastica


The film tells the familiar story that anyone who’s been in or is in their thirties will understand, of feeling the pressure to be married, have children, and have life all figured out. The reality is never that easy or pretty. Ines (Barbara Mori), a thirty-something writer, just broke up with her boyfriend of 7 years and is now single, trying to figure out her place in the world. Having been paired up for so long, she felt as if she had lost herself, not knowing who she was or what it was that she wanted out of life. This film shows her journey and all the quirky and funny things that happen while trying to discover herself. From dating through social media, battery-operated boyfriends, and wrestling with the decisions of child-bearing. This movie not only had me laughing from beginning to end, I found it had a positive message for women and showed a female character who didn’t need a Prince charming to rescue her. In fact, she figured it all out herself!

Cronicas Españolas

espana shorts

In this collection of short films from Spain, each one had an interesting message and viewpoint on the world. One of the reasons I love short films, they show us how much can be said in just 5 minutes. One of the films called It Girl, told a poignant story of a woman who uses the internet to brand herself as an “it girl.” She garners tons of followers and free stuff from a lot of companies. The truth is, it is all a lie, she is only doing it to support her ailing boyfriend’s medical treatments. Behind the camera, they go and sell the items she gets for free for money and we see that what people choose to reveal on the internet is not always the truth.

Another film I enjoyed was El Mundo Entero, about a young gay man who visits his mother’s grave and speaks to her. The mother comes alive to him and she is a firecracker of a woman, she talks to him about his sexuality and how she came to terms with it, how she always knew he was gay, and how she wished she had done more for the gay community. In the end, we see that by just accepting him for who he is and not trying to change him, she made a world of a difference in her community. The lives of people around her changed because they saw her as a positive role model.



The documentary film, Dolores, directed by Peter Bratt, tells the enigmatic life story of Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the first farmworkers’ union alongside Cesar Chavez. The film was produced in collaboration with Carlos Santana and Benjamin Bratt, and brings to the screen the story of a woman who has almost been written out of history books. Everyone knows who Cesar Chavez was, but most do not know about the work that Huerta put into the movement. The film chronicles her life, from being a young woman, wanting to find her place in the world, to the iconic leader that she then became. At only 25, she was a young mother with several children already and was in Washington, D.C. fighting for the rights of migrant farmworkers. To say that this was her mission in life, would be an understatement.


24th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival

ovarian2The 24th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival kicked into gear March 16th and will continue to run through March 26th, 2017. The festival is held at two prime movie-going locations, Fashion Valley Mall in Mission Valley and the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. The film festival features movies from all over Latin America, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, with the primary focus of showcasing films that present a Latin viewpoint. There are over 160 movies to choose from and the festival splits many of them into Showcases to make deciding a little easier, some focus on a specific country such as Brazil or Mexico or are centered around a specific area of interest such as Cine Gay, Documania, and Viva Mujeres. The festival offers something for every taste and interest to say the least. Along with the films, there are also free daily performances by local and international artists each day at the Fashion Valley Mall location.

CharroWhat I love the most about this film festival is that it exposes so many people, not just Latinos, to topics and stories that are rarely discussed. Such as the film El Charro de Toluquilla, about an HIV-positive mariachi singer who is trying to raise his daughter alone, and the film Ovarian Psycos, a documentary about a group of women who ride their bicycles through East Los Angeles, and use their group to confront violence and racism, along with their feminist ideals. These are topics audiences rarely get an insight into, and it is great to see that a festival like this can bring these issues to light.

The festival also offers guests the opportunity to meet with and talk with actors, directors, and producers of the films. What an exciting treat for any movie lover! Be sure to take some time to go see a movie at the festival and enjoy the sights and sounds of Latin culture.



Ticket information and festival schedule:

San Diego Latino Film Festival 





Table 19 – Film Review


One of the most important details of a wedding is the seating chart. The closer the bride and groom are to the guest, the closer their table is to the action. Now, what happens with guests who sort of know the bride or groom? Those folks get relegated to the back of the room, where no one would notice if they went missing, let alone know if they were having a good time. The film Table 19, is about the ‘forgotten guests’ experiences at a wedding.

First off, any movie that comes around Oscar time is pretty much a studio’s throw away film. It’s not a summer blockbuster or a holiday hit, it’s a movie that is lucky to have made it to theaters instead of the straight-to-DVD bin. I went into this with that mind frame, zero expectations, I found it to be comical and a decent film.

T2The dreaded Table 19 consists of a rag-tag group of ‘nobodies’. Eloise (Anna Kendrick) was suppose to be the maid of honor but after getting dumped over the text by the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell) she relinquishes those duties. She still musters the courage to show up as a guest and is designated to the back. When she arrives, no one seems to pay any attention to her and she soon realizes that she is at Table 19. The table she refers to as, “the people who should have known better, not to come.”  

Seated at the table are Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry Kepp (Craig Robinson), a couple who own a diner the bride of the father frequents, Walter (Stephen Merchant), a cousin of the bride who lives in a halfway house, Jo (June Squibb) the bride’s childhood nanny, Renzo (Tony Revolori), a friend of the family who got randomly invited and was forced to go alone by his mother so that he could meet someone and lose his virginity. To say that this table is random and odd is an understatement. Eloise immediately knows who everyone at the table is because she helped the bride put together the seating chart. Together the group bands around Eloise’s constant misfortunes and try to cheer her up.

T7At the wedding, Eloise does meet a handsome mysterious wedding crasher named Huck (James Cocquerel) and sparks fly, she manages to dance with him and make Teddy a little bit jealous. By the way, that actor totally looked like a Hemsworth, who is this guy, he needs to be famous?!

What happened from here is a bit of a disjointed mess. I thought it would be a predictable rom-com, but it turned out to have some depressing undertones to it. I did find it funny though, and found myself laughing throughout the whole film. It was the sheer craziness of the movie that I found entertaining.

T5Kendrick plays that bumbling, kooky, cute girl persona she seems to do in every movie, and it works for this type of genre. Merchant was probably the funniest character; I loved his dry pan attitude and way of delivering lines. Squibb is a great actress and this role left her playing almost a caricature of herself. Robinson was underused; he is comical yet, barely had any funny scenes in the film. Instead, his scenes were glib and sad.

I felt that this movie took every wedding movie cliché in the book and threw it in for good measure. I found it irritating that it used 80’s songs; literally the same exact ones from The Wedding Singer. I mean come on, they could have gotten a little more inventive, I thought Adam Sandler might appear at any moment in his 80’s blazer and sing Love Stinks. Heck, the chicken dance song could have been fresher!

T3This is the kind of movie that you watch at home in your pajamas, when there is nothing else to watch on TV. And yes, I found it way more entertaining than 50 Shades Darker, but that isn’t too hard to beat, right?


Starring: Anna Kendrick,  Lisa Kudrow,  Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori, Margo Martindale, Stephen Merchant, Carlos Aviles, June Squibb

Directed by: Jeffrey Blitz

Written by: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time: 87 minutes

Rating: 2



Fifty Shades Darker – Film Review

2starsfs6The sequel heard around the world is finally coming to theaters, Fifty Shades Darker, seemingly from the title anticipates the story going deeper (no pun intended) than the last and pushing back the layers around the characters that are Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and the formidable Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). The first one directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, served to push the envelope a bit and introduce audiences to the characters and the world of S&M, the second one directed by James Foley, feels like a clichéd version of what audiences would expect.

fs7Corny one liners and a banal storyline, I felt like I was watching a cheesy Hallmark movie with some sex scenes sprinkled into it. So much of it felt predictable and any suspense that was built up was instantly solved in a few minutes.

The sequel is about Anastasia and Christian coming back together because he simply cannot live without her. This time around she renegotiates her terms with him and wants to have a real, “normal” relationship. The problem is, can Christian handle what she calls a “vanilla relationship”? One without the constant badgering to play the roles of dom and sub in the bedroom, a relationship dictated by a legal arrangement. Christian is used to being in control, it’s what excites him, it’s what gets him off in every area of his life, but this time around he agrees to try this type of relationship out with her because she is worth it in every sense of the word.

fs2Anastasia is trying to lead a normal life, she finally got the job of her dreams, a position at a publishing house and wants so eagerly to impress her boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson). He is as equally enticing and sexy as Christian, but in a different way. He’s smart, he likes books as much as Anastasia and appears to be much more laid back. Christian cannot handle these changes and immediately tries to manage her life, even trying to stop her from going on a work trip to New York City.

What envelops from here is a story so ridiculous that I wasn’t sure whether to roll my eyes or laugh. In the sequel, we find out more about Christian’s tortured past and meet the elusive Elena, who first showed him the ropes of the S&M world when he was young. I loved that Kim Basinger played the character, in a way as an homage to her original bad ass character from 9 ½ weeks, who unleashed her sexuality in the days before every movie had gratuitous sex scenes in it. What wasn’t great was the fact that she was underused in the film. I would have loved to have seen her do something interesting or mind grabbing with Christian, instead she remains as a foreground character, fourth to all the other nonsensical characters in the film.

fs4I found the sex scenes in Darker, to push the envelope a bit more, which was expected. Ben Wa balls and an adjustable leg spreader bar and cuffs (curious minds should look both those up), take the scenes up a notch. As she tells Christian at one point, “I was being romantic and then you go and distract me with your kinky f—kery.”  What’s different this time around is that Anastasia is much more willing to explore her kinky side in the bedroom. Whereas before she may have turned away or felt scared, this time she is curious and more open to play.

The movie is filled with leg grinding, lace panties, and sexy heels, and Dornan’s beautiful body. Foley gave audiences just what they wanted in that arena. As far as the storyline goes, it was simply lacking and unfocused, but I guess this movie really isn’t going for Oscar worthy screenwriting. Although, it could be nominated for a Razzie award. If you are a fan of the first one, then my guess is that curiosity will lead you to the theaters. The film could be fun to see with friends, have a good laugh, and see Dornan’s abs (it’s worth it just for that alone), but that’s it. If none of that peaks your interest, then I would suggest saving your hard-earned dollars and waiting to see this one when it comes out on video.

Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson

Directed by: James Foley

Written by: Niall Leonard, based on the novel by E.L. James

MPAA rating: R

Running time: 118 minutes

Rating: 2


La La Land – Film Review


Musicals came into popularity after World War II and provided audiences with a much-needed relief from the issues that were going on in the world. They were idyllic, romantic, and in a sense magical; the Ginger Rogers’ and Fred Astaire’s of that era exuded charisma and charm, and viewers couldn’t help but fall in love with the joyous stories that unfolded on screen. Writer and director Damien Chazelle, brings his musicality as he did in Whiplash to La La Land, creating a film that is as reminiscent of the past as it is unique to the present. La La Land feels like an ode to classical movies without being cliché or a copy of anything else. The unfolding love story was beautiful and exciting to watch.

The film is about the lives of two struggling and aspiring performers, Mia (Emma Stone) works as a barista on the Warner Brothers lot and is trying to land any job in the acting biz and Sebastian or Seb (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who wants to live his dream of being a working musician. The two of them are passionate about their dreams and relentless in trying to make them come true, but the realities of trying to make it in Hollywood are tough.

L3When Mia goes on casting calls, the agents look at their phones and could care less about her feelings and when Sebastian tries to find music gigs, many of them land him in cover bands with ridiculous costumes.

In a city full of people, Mia and Sebastian happen to keep running into each other and it feels as if they were meant to meet. The two get each other and understand the passion each holds for their art. Sebastian hopes to one day open a jazz club like the ones of the past where Charlie Parker played, and Mia wants to perform in movies like the ones she adored as a child. Together, they help each other deal with the ups and downs that come with the harshness of the music and film industries.

L5As the two fall in love, their romance is intertwined with musical numbers. Mia wears a yellow dress with oxfords and glides on screen, reminiscent of a little bit of the naivete that Judy Garland possessed with that of the adorableness of Audrey Hepburn. Sebastian leads Mia in the dancing and singing, dressed in a retro suit and wing-tip shoes, and oozes charisma and charm like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Not to say that Gosling killed it like those dancers used to, but he did well and stood out as a true leading man like those of a yesteryear.

Gosling and Stone did wonderful in their performances and you could not help but want to watch them. Stone truly carries the film and deserves an Oscar nod. The true winner of the film is Chazellethough, his screenplay and direction were unique and it felt like a movie I have never seen before. He was able to capture the whimsy of those classical films and create a movie that is all his own. Where Whiplash hits you in the face with fear and anger at every cymbal smash, La La Land makes you feel like you are walking on a cloud and living in a bit of a dream.

L4The music in the film was paired wonderfully with the scenes, the songs never felt boring or too sing-songy like those we are used to seeing in musicals. It doesn’t hurt that John Legend provided his vocals and acting abilities to the film as well. The music was a good blend of jazz and classical and the soundtrack is worth a listen.

I kept on thinking throughout the movie that it reminded me of Casablanca, a film that makes you feel every emotion in the book. I adored this movie and highly recommend it. You do not have to be a fan of musicals or classic films to appreciate it. The film is a timeless tribute to a bygone film era and can be enjoyed by all.

Starring:  Ryan GoslingEmma StoneRosemarie DeWitt

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Written by: Damien Chazelle

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time: 128 minutes

Rating: 5

Manchester by the Sea – Film Review


m4Everyone faces grief differently. There is no guidebook for how one should feel when they lose someone important to them. In Manchester by the Sea, writer and director Kenneth Lonergan shows the realities of dealing with grief and heartbreak, from the decisions one faces when laying someone to rest to the pervasive memories of the past with that person. Life is never easy and we rarely know when life is throwing us a curveball or a perfect set of aces, these matters are out of our hands as human beings, but it is how we deal with what life hands us that shapes us as people. Lonergan explores these nuances of life and death and masterfully shapes them, paired with the tremendous acting performances in this film, I seean Oscar contender.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a lowly, quiet janitor living in Boston; his life is simple and monotonous, yet he doesn’t seem hampered by it at all. When his older brother passes away, Joe (Kyle Chandler) he rushes back to his hometown of Manchester, where he soon finds out that his brother has granted him to be the sole guardian of his teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee is dumbfounded, confused, and doesn’t really understand why he was left to oversee him. Patrick’s mother Elise (Gretchen Mol) is nowhere to be found and Lee is all Patrick has left as a parental figure.

m6Throughout the film, we are given flashbacks into their lives together as brothers, and it is clear that Lee and Patrick had a strong bond. Joe would take them out on his fishing trawler and the three of them would head out to the sea, catch fish, talk about life, and laugh together. Through these memories, we can gather that Lee was not only close to his brother, but had a cohesive, almost brother-like bond with his nephew. Joe leaves the boat to his son, and he is adamant besides the motor not working that he keeps the boat running, in a way, it is his way of reconnecting with his father and he is afraid to lose it. Lee wants to get rid of it, but never fully can act on it because his most distinct memories were shaped on his brother’s boat.

m5Not only must Lee face raising a teenage boy of which he knows nothing about doing, he allows him to have girls over and doesn’t provide many restrictions, but he must also deal with the fact that his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) also lives in town. From his flashbacks, we see that they had a loving life together, filled with some disarray, but nothing out of the ordinary and in the present time that no longer exists. He can barely look at her and doesn’t know what to say around her. With all the misfortunes that Lee has faced, the town of Manchester brings him many bad memories and constant reminders of the life he used to lead.

Affleck carried the film from beginning to end, and delivered a performance like no other he has given before. It was subtle, yet filled with such intensity, that one could feel every ounce of his depth without him saying anything. The unknowing of what life had in store for him could be read on his face. Lee appears broken and detached from all that is and has been his life. Affleck seemed to understand that and took all those distinct emotions and placed them into his character. I am sure that he will garner awards and accolades for his performance, this could be the one that sets him apart from other contenders.

m2Newcomer Hedges was astonishing as Patrick, not only do we feel moments of sadness for him, but we also get a sense of annoyance as he is just a teenage boy doing teenager-like things. He doesn’t completely grasp everything that is going on around him and we rarely see him break down and shrill for his father, instead we see that he is just trying to get on with his life. Hedges holds his own against Affleck and at times stole many of the scenes. The two played off each other perfectly.

The film not only makes you feel moments of sadness and sorrow, but I found myself laughing through a lot of it. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster of emotions, crying one minute and wiping away my tears and laughing the next. There are so few films, that can pull such emotions out of the viewer. Life isn’t always sad, nor is it always funny, but Lonergan is able to weave the dynamics of both and create a film that is thought provoking and unique. I have my own inner meter of how I know a film is good in my eyes, and it is when days go by and I cannot stop thinking about it, and that’s how I felt with this film. The director along with the entire ensemble cast make this movie work and it is one that should not be missed.



Starring: Casey AffleckMichelle WilliamsKyle ChandlerQuincy Tyler BernstineMissy YagerRuibo Qian

Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan

Written by: Kenneth Lonergan

MPAA rating: R

Running time: 137 minutes

Rating: 5