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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Honey, honey, the marvelous movie musical Mamma Mia! returns for a sequel a decade after its release, and it’s a such summer delight you’ll be singing “Andante, Andante” and floating away. In Here We Go Again, we sail back to the fictional island of Kalokairi, Greece and reunite with the original cast while welcoming a number of newcomers to Hotel Bella Donna.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is now in charge of Donna’s divine hotel, preparing for its reopening and inviting her three fathers Sam, Harry and Bill (still played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) and mom’s best friends Tanya and Rosie (with Christine Baranski and Julie Walters reprising their roles) to come along while her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) is learning about hotel business away in New York. As pregnancy is upon her, she reminisces about her mother with the help of Tanya and Rosie, and the film whimsically mixes present situations with flashbacks that feature young, wild and carefree Donna (magnetically portrayed by Lily James) and her adventures that led her to her first encounters with her three beaus.

Meryl Streep is still the heart and soul of the story, and though her presence is limited in this sequel (perhaps we can all pen a letter to the writers asking why they did what they did to Donna), the plot will always revolve around Donna, and Sophie is honoring her mother by keeping the family business running.

Props to the casting team for putting together a convincing group of young actors for the flashback scenes, from Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies who look and speak exactly like Baranski and Walters, to Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan as young Sam, Harry and Bill. Lily James steals the film as young Donna. Her presence is electric, and her larger-than-life persona makes it truly an iconic role for her. The way she channels Meryl/Donna is completely natural the audiences would be impressed.

With ABBA’s music being the force behind the Mamma Mia! universe, Here We Go Again does a marvelous job delivering the Swedish pop group’s more underrated hits, from “Andante, Andante” to “Fernando” (a major highlight within the film featuring Cher as Sophie’s grandmother Ruby and Andy Garcia as her former lover Fernando) while bringing in songs previously used in the original film like “Dancing Queen”, “Thank You for the Music”, “Waterloo” (a standout scene with young Harry and Donna), “The Name of the Game”, and “I Have a Dream”.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a great sequel and a wonderful addition to the first. It’s full of joy, electric acting, ABBA-licious tunes, endearing moments and Grecian magic.

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Lady Bird

Lady Bird is a new classic in the modern cinematic universe. Greta Gerwig uses her fine powers in writing and directing to craft a simple, humorous yet compelling film that centers on Saoirse Ronan’s Christine McPherson, a senior student at a Catholic school in Sacramento, California, who yearns for a big, artistically rich life in the East Coast. Referring to herself as Lady Bird, the nickname given to her at birth by her nurse mother Marion McPherson (played by Laurie Metcalf), she views her surroundings from a very progressive angle, giving her that fiery, rebellious personality.

The quest for love, acceptance and everlasting friendship is a common plot in the everyday coming-of-age movies, but what makes Lady Bird a masterpiece is the unique insertion of whimsical tones followed by quirky humor that result in plenty of amusing, lighthearted moments like the many inside jokes Lady Bird shares with her best friend Jules (Beanie Feldstein) on a daily basis (their loyalty to each other serves as a powerful testament to female friendship) and the iconic drama club musical audition scenes (seeing Lady Bird tackle the lively Broadway classic “Everybody Says Don’t” is purely epic, knowing how accurate the lyrics are to her personal life). In addition to that, the plot is strongly character-driven with Lady Bird pushing the story forward as she embarks on a journey towards her high school graduation and to discover which East Coast college will accept her. Determined and fiery yet overly stubborn, she often has a row with the strongly opinionated Marion at home and continually lashes out against her, yet fails to realize that underneath it all, both mother and daughter have so much in common. Ronan and Metcalf were deserving of their Academy Awards nominations for a realistic portrayal of their characters with their all-out, energetic performances.

With such a strong film debut, Greta Gerwig has achieved the impossible by being only the fifth female director to have ever been nominated for Best Directing in the history of the Oscars, and the road can only go up from here. She has become an icon and inspiration for women directors and aspiring filmmakers who are just starting out, and Lady Bird will always soar high with its many accolades.

Now that the DVD and Blu-ray are available to buy, it’s the best time to pick up Lady Bird, especially since today is International Women’s Day, and films made by and starring powerful ladies that foster great female dynamics are always the ultimate treats. Click here for more info and follow @LadyBirdMovie on Twitter for updates.

 

#TimesUp at the 75th Golden Globes

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.31.27 AMOprah Winfrey. Photo Credit: Variety

BLL Ladies copyThe Big Little Lies ladies. Photo Credit: ABC

It’s 2018, and the annual Golden Globe Awards went into its 75th year with a fiery revolution in support of women across all industries, encouraging them to speak up in light of abuse, misrepresentation and all forms of mistreatment. The #TimesUp movement packed a lot of female punch, as stars and public figures – women and men – attended the event all decked in black as a sign of solidarity. Most of the wins and speeches on stage also reflected and acknowledged the need to continue pushing for equal opportunities for females in all aspects of their careers.

Speaking as a screenwriter, I stand by Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Chastain, Zoe Saldana, Natalie Portman, Dwayne Johnson, Ansel Elgort, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Evan Rachel Wood, and many other icons in the fight for lady power. May more opportunities open up for female writers, directors, engineers, coders, entrepreneurs, and other career fields from all backgrounds and from all over the world, for the world of storytelling and the entire workforce should always be diverse.

The 75th Golden Globe Awards presented us with tons of highlights. Feel free to list all your favorite moments. Here are mine:

  • All the Big Little Lies wins (congrats Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern) and the all-girl cast photos.
  • Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Laura Dern in the same room. The Fault in Our Stars nostalgia.
  • Queen Oprah’s all-inspiring, super important speech about hope and an inclusive future as she accepted the Cecille B. Demille award.
  • Both Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor winning brought a little Moulin Rouge magic. Viva Satine and Christian!
  • The Greatest Showman won Best Original Song with “This is Me”.
  • Barbra Streisand’s surprise appearance. I’d personally want Babs to make a triumphant return to film directing and acting. The last feature film she directed and starred in was the lovely Mirror Has Two Faces.
  • Saoirse Ronan and the Lady Bird appreciation. Director Greta Gerwig deserved a nomination for crafting a powerful female-driven film.

2017 Highlights, 2018 Greetings

It’s here, it’s now, it’s 2018. Well, almost. Before I start my annual New Years Eve movie When Harry Met Sally (been enjoying brunch with some good friends and a cozy family dinner), allow me to present a brief list of my 2017 highlights. You’re welcome to share yours as well.

Happy 2018! 😀 Here’s to another year full of opportunities and adventures for all of us. #DreamBig

FILMS

  • Loving Vincent
  • Baby Driver
  • The Beguiled
  • A United Kingdom
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Lady Bird
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Coco
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

TV SHOWS

  • Reign: The Final Season
  • The Crown
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Orville

MUSIC

  • What’s That Sound? – Haley Reinhart
  • Baby Driver Soundtrack – Various Artists
  • Anastasia Broadway Soundtrack – Christy Altomare & Cast
  • Meaning of Life – Kelly Clarkson
  • Glory Days: Platinum Edition – Little Mix
  • Robin Hood Soundtrack: Disney Legacy Collection – Various Artists

NOVELS

  • The Last Tudor – Phillipa Gregory
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J.K. Rowling
  • All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • The Land of Stories Series – Chris Colfer
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • The Witches of New York – Ami McKay

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Universe @ The Forum

In celebration of the much-anticipated release of The Last Jedi, a massive Star Wars fest is being set up at The Forum and throughout the ground floor of Jakarta’s Kelapa Gading Mall, where hardcore fans are granted a free entrance to a galaxy far, far away with all the selfie areas, mini exhibits, and merchandises available for their enjoyment. Be a part of the action and get ready to jet off to the Star Wars universe once again! Be sure to catch the film as well. Photographic highlights from the event are displayed below.

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Hey there, BB-8!

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Battlefront II demo corner.

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Welcome to the Star Wars merch shop! 🙂

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Assorted notebooks.

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“The Lion King” 2019 Film Cast

The circle of life will be revamped with an all-new cast for its 2019 cinematic version.

With The Lion King being Disney’s top masterpiece, die-hard fans were opposed to any form of remake, but after the new cast reveal that include quality names like Donald Glover, James Earl Jones (in a reprising role as Mufasa), Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, Alfre Woodard and Queen Beyonce Knowles as Nala, it’s safe to say this remake would not only be promising but also strongly recapture Simba’s story, vast African landscape and grand music.

As someone who has seen The Lion King over 80 times as a kid (and still a fan in my 20’s), bought tickets to the Broadway production, learned a bit of Swahili, looked up more of Lebo M’s musical works, and written fan fictions about it, I’m very open to this new interpretation of the Hamlet-based plot. It’d be thrilling to revisit Pride Rock and all its glory and to see the universe expand and reach a new generation. Now if only they’d feature some of the tracks used in the Broadway version like “Morning Report” and “Shadowland”…

#Epic

Jules’s Halloween Movie Guide 2017

We’re halfway through October, and Halloween is just around the corner. Make it cinematic by revisiting the classic and contemporary Halloween flicks that have always given you the chills and thrills! Don’t know where to start or looking for alternatives to the usual fan favorites like Hocus Pocus, Psycho, The Nightmare before Christmas, Harry Potter series and all the classic monster films? Feel free to turn on your flashlight and peek into Jules’s list of Halloween movies (or ones that defy the tradition but still fit the occasion). Most aren’t heavy on the horror factor, but this unique blend of noirs, murder-mysteries, deliciously dark rom-coms and whimsical animated features offer enough variety for you to amp up your spooktacular season.

  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – A dark spin on a Jane Austin classic? The Bennett sisters and Mr. Darcy as zombie hunters are epic.
  • The Prestige – It’s Christian Bale vs Hugh Jackman in this brilliant Christopher Nolan work about two magician friends turned rivals. Prepare for mind-blowing magic tricks and non-stop suspense.
  • Great Expectations – Pip’s story is just as intriguing to follow this October as it is any other season. In addition to the powerful themes of wealth/poverty, love/rejection and good/evil, the movie (and Charles Dickens novel) has Gothic elements that include Miss Havisham and her mysterious mansion.
  • Oz the Great and Powerful – Once you’ve ventured with Dorothy and friends in The Wizard of Oz, explore its prequel that highlights the first time Oz discovered the Emerald City and how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be.
  • Practical Magic – Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman make a fine duo of witches in this bewitching drama.
  • Double Indemnity – Barbara Stanwyck has cruel intentions in one of Hollywood’s greatest noirs. Dark and twisty, this murder-mystery is a must watch.
  • Crimson Peak – A quality horror movie with a stellar cast – Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain.
  • Tower of Terror – The Hollywood Tower Hotel is always worth revisiting.
  • Kiss Me Goodbye – A unique, elegant rom-com with a ghoulish touch. Sally Field is about to marry her fiance Jeff Bridges, but the ghost of her Broadway star husband – fantastically played by James Caan – disapproves of their relationship.
  • Black Swan – Dark and atmospheric, this Darren Aronofsky psychological drama that gave Natalie Portman that Oscar win is a cinematic art.
  • Magic in the Moonlight – Colin Firth and Emma Stone add a whimsical flair to this underrated Woody Allen rom-com. Emma is impressive as Sophie Baker the medium, and the southern France setting is delightful.
  • Scream movies – The adventures of Sydney and friends are always thrilling to follow in this superior horror trilogy (I recommend the fourth one too).
  • Maleficent – Angelina Jolie owns the role in this live-action retelling of Sleeping Beauty as told by the villain.
  • Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – Definitely a misadventure to remember with Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf.
  • Interview with the Vampire – Still one of Tom Cruise’s and Brad Pitt’s most iconic roles with a very young Kirsten Dunst who stole the scenes with her strong performance. The Gothic tone and interview angle set this movie apart from other vampire movies of that time.
  • The Others – No matter how many times this movie has been watched, that unexpected twist in the end will always be worth discovering.
  • Corpse Bride – Simply an underrated Tim Burton film. Stunning animation, great Gothic atmosphere.
  • 101 Dalmatians – Both the animation and live action deliver. Cruella DeVil has gotta be Disney’s most stylish villain.
  • The Birds – Complete your Hitchcock marathon with this title.
  • Jagged Edge – Great murder-mystery that explores the ultimate question: Is he really a killer or just a wrongfully accused husband? A vehicle for Glenn Close.
  • What Lies Beneath – One of the best thrillers ever made featuring the star power of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.
  • The Mummy films I’m referring to the original ones starring Brendan Fraser.
  • Scooby Doo – Catchy theme song, epic cast of characters, non-stop mysteries to solve. Whether you’re going for the TV series or live-action movies, the Scooby gang is bound to keep you company.
  • Descendants – If fun, music and hip young adult characters are what you’re craving for, then this one delivers.
  • Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Picture a mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage and old peculiar photos. It’s all just the beginning for Asa Butterfield’s Jake. Join him on an escapade that leads him to Miss Peregrine – greatly played by Eva Green – and her home for peculiar children.
  • Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass – Be it the original animated movie or the live-action duology, there are plenty of curious characters and things to discover in Wonderland, from the Mad Hatter, white rabbit to the Cheshire Cat.
  • The Addams Family – Definitely the VIP family to dine with this Halloween.
  • A Monster in Paris – Set in 1910 Paris, this delightful animation tells the story of a monster living in a garden and a chanteuse who charms him. A lighter version of The Phantom of the Opera.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Craving an old school sci-fi flick? Agents Valerian and Laureline shall deliver. The electric duo in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets embark on an outer space mission that will leave you entertained as well as enthralled by the universe created in this high quality space opera.

Luc Besson has been one of my favorite directors since the Taxi trilogy and The Fifth Element, and now he’s back at it again with this ambitious film based on a retro comic featuring the adventures of Valerian and Laureline. A vast array of dominating colors are being laid out on the screen (from midnight blue and illuminating purple to the pastels that build the beach scenes), and the CGI effects are there to enhance the plot and not just visual tricks.

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne surprisingly have a natural, out-of-this-world chemistry. Their constant banters strengthen their partnership and make for fast yet charming dialogues, but their respect for each other shows. Cara appears commanding here. For a model turned actress, she is one of the better ones, as she really delves into Laureline’s character, giving her that iconic persona. A scene stealing Rihanna plays a whimsical, wacky shape-shifting character named Bubble who teams up with Valerian at one point to figure out Laureline’s whereabouts. Bubble is simply lovable you can’t help but wish she gets a more positive ending. Filling in the role of the classic villain is Clive Owen, who’s very convincing in the way he acts.

An eclectic soundtrack features a range of tunes including David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that gives the intro a cool retro vibe and Cara Delevingne’s relaxing yet catchy “I Feel Everything” plus impressive scores by Alexandre Desplat. Definitely one of the best!

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is a galactic adventure in space worth following. A mix of Jupiter Ascending and Avatar, it’s very trippy and full of wonders, action and intriguing cast of characters! Take a trip to Alpha – the city of a thousand planets – with Valerian and Laureline and enjoy the ride!

“La La Land” DVD, Blu-ray and Steelbook Art

Here’s to the fools who dream! Get ready for another day of sun and a lovely night, all La La Land lovers! The city of stars are shining bright for us, as the (almost) Academy Award-winning film and recipient of 7 Golden Globes will finally be available to bring home on April 25th.

Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling)’s charming little adventures around LA in pursuit of their individual dreams – acting for Mia and jazz for Seb – are worth reliving, and the nostalgic references to Old Hollywood adds a degree of timelessness to this Damien Chazelle musical masterpiece.

Not only is La La Land going to be on standard DVD, 4K Ultra HD and the popular DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD combo format. A collector’s edition steelbook will also be released on May 15th. Even Target, Walmart and Best Buy offer their own versions with varying covers.

With delightful special features that include Designing La La Land, Ryan and Emma: Third Time’s the Charm (I’m personally glad this one makes the list, as I enjoyed their previous works in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad), John Legend’s Acting Debut and La La Land‘s Great Party, this brand new classic is definitely a must-own, no matter which version you decide to pick!

Here are the many different cover artworks for La La Land

La La Land DVD
Image Source: Amazon

La La Land Bluray
Image Source: Amazon

La La Land Target
Image Source: Target

La La Land Best Buy
Image Source: Best Buy

La La Land Back
Image Source: Zavvi

La La Land Walmart
Image Source: Walmart

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