The Wedding Party Movie Review

The-Wedding-Party-posterI was immediately taken by how extravagant The Wedding Party looked on its poster. As a visual person, I respond favourably to pretty things and this movie poster was no exception. Plus, when  I heard that this movie was the highest grossing movie in Nollywood, my interest was further piqued. So one fine evening, my sister and I sat down to watch them movie. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Basically, The Wedding Party, is about that — a wedding party. The action all happens within a day and most of it is contained to the wedding party of the main characters, Dunni and Dozie (played by Adesua Etomi and Banky Wellington, respectively). Both leads are descended from rich families (although Dozie’s family is richer), hence the extravagance.

To be honest, I’m not really sure what to talk about because there’s a lot of stuff that happens. During the whole wedding day, we’re shown how the two mothers don’t really like each other. How one mother is so extra all the time (LOL). How an ex comes to try and sabotage the wedding. How a friend ends up almost ruining the wedding. How the wedding planner struggles throughout the day. And how the fathers try to keep calm on the wedding day. In other words, it completely lives up to its title.

And that’s actually something I did not expect. I’m finding it difficult to put into words (I’ve tried to write this over five times and each attempt refuses to stick), but basically, in romantic comedies in which leads are often faced with hurdles in their love, the movie generally contains its focus to the leads and their love. Usually in such movies, we’re shown how the leads persevere through the depth of their love. Yet surprisingly, in this movie, the focus doesn’t really remain on the two leads and their love story isn’t very fleshed out. We know Dunni and Dozie love each other, but we’re really only given hints to their love story (we’re never told how it started, their dates, what they have in common, etc.) and a lot of screen time is actually given to other stuff. We get many scenes devoted to various family members, friends, situations, etc. I mean, the two leads are *technically* front and centre, but rather than being the nucleus of the film, I felt as if they existed as supporting characters in their own film, vs. the main characters.

Similarly, despite each hurdle that cropped out, their resolutions weren’t necessarily very deep. In other words, the problem was handled and that was that. Again, in romantic comedies with hurdles, often times, the resolution of problems preaches a deeper underlying message (ex. getting through problems together, or how differences don’t matter, etc.). Yet, again in this movie, this doesn’t happen. Instead, the problems just get resolved and the movie doesn’t spend much time making any sort of statement.

So like I said, not what I expected at all. In fact, it was almost the opposite of my expectations. However, that doesn’t mean the film was bad. In fact, it was actually a pretty entertaining film and enjoyable to watch. And actually, I think that’s probably a highlight of the film — its just pure enjoyment. It doesn’t attempt to preach to the audience or show an epic romance. It literally just shows a couple’s wedding party and the shenanigans that happen during it. And I think it worked for the film. It was enjoyable to watch. If anything, I think my expectations for the movie’s genre are wrong. Rather than being a romantic comedy, I think it’s more of a pure comedy.

On a more technical note, supporting the movie, was the acting and directing. The leads were pretty solid actors and quite good looking too, especially Banky Wellington. The supporting cast was also good. The mother of the bride, played by Sola Sobowale actually stood out quite a bit. She was a little bit annoying, but always a scene stealer. Fantastic acting. Directing was also really solid, having been done by Kemi Adetiba. I enjoyed the way shots were framed. All in all, a decent entertaining movie.

My rating: watch it if you’re looking for an uncomplicated good time or if you’re a fan of the actors.

Phillauri Movie Review

phillauri-movie-1I’m a HUGE fan of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. In fact, I’d have to say that it ranks up among some of my favourite movies ever. So when I heard that a Bollywood film, Phillauri appeared to be a live-action Corpse Bride inspired movie, I was quite excited. For those of you unaware, Corpse Bride is a stop-motion animated movie. It’s about a man, Victor, who accidentally marries a corpse, Emily. The marriage in fact, sort of “revives” Emily from a deep sleep. Unfortunately, Victor is in love with the very-much-alive Victoria and in order to be “married” to Emily properly, he’d have to die. The rest of the film deals with the conflict.

Phillauri begins with a similar story. Kanan (played by Suraj Sharma) has recently returned from Canada and immediately, his parents set up his marriage with his childhood love, Anu (played by Mehreen Pirzada). Kanan has cold feet and due to his horoscope, must first marry a tree to ensure that he has a happy married life (?). As he marries the tree, in turns out, that he ends up marrying a ghost named Shashi (played by Anushka Sharma). While dealing with being married to a ghost and his cold feet, the movie also flashes back to Shashi’s past. Shashi was a young woman in an Indian village named Phillaur. During her youth, she used to write poetry and was in love with a singer named Roop Lal (played by Diljeet Dosanjh).

The movie actually played quite similarly to Corpse Bride, beginning from the male leads having cold feet, to the corpse/spirit bride having unfulfilled love stories preventing them from passing onto the next world. However, despite the unique premise, I felt that Phillauri fails to bring forth the heart and emotional depth that Corpse Bride did. There seemed to be a number of things off about Phillauri, for me at least, that prevented me from loving the film.

Firstly, the focus of the story. Phillauri focuses on two love stories simultaneously, those of Anu and Kanan and Shashi and Roop. However, the former story lacks any sort of warmth whereas the latter one is left too long. In other words, Kanan and Anu’s love story never really went anywhere. Anu was shattered with Kanan’s cold feet, but was willing to go through with the marriage anyway. Whereas Kanan’s cold feet never really got resolved, nor did the movie really divulge why he had them in the first place. It just felt so unresolved and void of emotions. On the other hand, Shashi and Roop’s story was definitely sweet. Theirs had a lot more emotion, despite the stereotypical aspect of it. And yet, the stretched-out scenes kept their story from fully impacting the audience. Instead of being enthralled in their romance, viewers just got bored and kept on waiting for one scene to end and another to begin.

Secondly, the acting was a little uninspiring as well. Suraj Sharma started out well. However, his scared act and high pitched squeal started getting grating about halfway through. I especially hated the high pitches squeals whenever he was caught unaware/ scared. Mehreen Pirzada, on the other hand, had nothing to do except look weepy. She was so boring onscreen. The only time where I liked her a little bit, was when she finally saw/ talked to Shashi; but other than that, I didn’t care for her. Diljit Dosanjh was also okay. He gave a respectable performance for sure, but again, it was nothing new or to talk home about. The only person who stood out for me, surprisingly, was Anushka Sharma and the actor who played her brother, Manav Vij. I had initially found Anushka’s looks to be a little too modern and urban for her to play a village belle, but she ended up winning me over. She acted really well. Manav Vij was also spectacular, probably the star of the movie for me. Not for a second did I doubt that he was an actor and not Shashi’s brother; again, fantastic acting.

Thirdly, directing was decent. From what I’ve been able to gather online, this was the directorial debut of Anshai Lal and I think he did okay. Nothing too amazing or standout, but okay enough. If anything, I think what killed this movie (at least for me), was the lack of editing. Some scenes just went on way too long (especially the end scenes), other scenes were just too stereotypical, and some necessary explanation scenes never appeared. A little bit of firm editing could’ve gone a long way. It could’ve saved the movie and move it into “decent” category vs. the just “okay” category.

My ratingwatch it if you’re a fan of any of the actors, but you wouldn’t miss much if you don’t.

Suddenly Seventeen Movie Review

suddenly-seventeen_poster_goldposter_com_17.jpg@0o_0l_800w_80qWatching this movie was one of the most spur-of-the-moment decisions I have ever made. Literally, I discovered this movie around 1pm while browsing youtube, and come 3pm, I was already watching it. On youtube, it’s titled 17 Again, while google claims that its title is Suddenly Seventeen. I’m gonna go with google on this one and use the title Suddenly Seventeen my review. As the youtube name and general title suggest, this movie involves the main character going back in time to when they were seventeen. It’s actually pretty similar to the American 17 Again movie. But personally, I much enjoyed this take on that trope, rather than the American version.

Instead of writing out a huge summary post (which I actually did LOL and then deleted), I’m going to write a smaller summary and focus on what I specifically liked about this movie. The whole large summary thing, while fun to write and read, take up a lot of space. Space that I believe I could use to actually review things, as this is a blog about reviews.

So anyways, the basic gist of the story-line is this: When she was 18, art student Liang, played by Ni Ni was proposed by Mao, played by Wallace Huo, to be his girlfriend. She accepted and for the next 10 years, she put her career on hold for Mao. Instead of working, she decided to play the role of the perfect wife for Mao. After 10 years, she’d been expecting him to propose, but when he did not, she got sad and ordered some chocolates that promised to bring happiness to peoples relationships. When she decides to take things into her own hand and propose to Mao, he ends up breaking off their relationship. She’s distraught and eats a chocolate, thereby transforming, at least mentally, into 17 year old Liang. 17 year old Liang doesn’t know a thing about 28 year old Liang and the two exist as separate people in the same body. Once a chocolate is eaten, the 17 year old Liang returns for a maximum of 5 hours. Basically,  28 year old Liang “employs” 17 year old Liang to paint things for her, as 28 year Liang was offered a job to paint designs but has forgotten her painting skills. While 17 year old Liang paints for 28 year old Liang, she also goes out and lives her own life, which includes flirting with and almost-dating rebel biker Yan, played by Darren Wang. The rest of the movie deals with Liang coming to terms with herself and the way her life moves forward.

One things I really, really, really enjoyed about this movie, was the character-centred aspect of it. Unlike the American 17 Again, this one focused more on Liang and her relationship with herself. As we see in the movie, 28 year old Liang put her life on the hold for her partner, because it was what she thought he wanted. She let herself go in order to conform to her illusion of what Mao wanted in a wife. Slowly, not only did she pause her career, but she also ended up changing her personality, loosing her spunk and zest to be proper and bland. It was only as she got to know herself, recognize all that she had done in the name of the relationship, and come to terms with herself and her skills/dreams/past/present, that Liang learned to love herself and in the process, reinvent her life. She got a job she loved and finally began becoming the version that she wanted to be, not the version she thought her boyfriend wanted. She realized that her feelings about herself mattered much more than Mao’s feelings about her. There’s a really great scene where Mao apologizes to her for ignoring her throughout their relationship and she tells him that he doesn’t have to apologize; she was at fault too and she finally realized that she didn’t want to stand in the back waiting for him to turn around anymore. She lets go of the relationship and understands that she’s much more than that. It’s an extremely beautiful message and portrayed quite wonderfully as well.

I also really liked how 17 year old Liang was just that, a 17 year old. She wasn’t a perfect character and had flaws, thereby signifying that her 17 year old was not the best version of her. For example,  18 year old Liang ended up putting her dreams on hold to follow Mao and his dreams. And when it came to 17 year old Liang, she was also willing to put her dreams on hold to follow Yan. I just thought it was so smart of the writers to show that. In essence, the 17 year old Liang was not much different from 18 year old Liang. Despite the vast difference between 17 year old Liang and 28 year old Liang, you could totally see how 17 year old Liang would’ve ended up 28 year old Liang. And the way 28 year old Liang handled 17 year old Liang was great too, showing how Liang had indeed matured and come to terms with herself and life.

Similarly, I also quite enjoyed the friendship shown between Liang and Bai, played by Ma Su. It’s so rare to see such positive, fun, female friendships. Bai fully supports Liang and helps her. Although its not anything major, I still quite liked it. Plus, Bai’s scenes were generally hilarious.

Which brings me to the actors. Ma Su was absolutely hilariously good as Bai. She imbued within Bai just the right amount of weirdness and love. It was easy to see how the two were friends. However, the stand out star in this entire movie, has to be Ni Ni. Ni Ni was absolutely phenomenal as both versions of Liang. Her body language, mannerisms, etc. were all so on-point when it came to both versions of Liang. You (or at least I did) literally believed that you were seeing 17 year old Liang and 28 year old Liang. Ni Ni carried the entire movie on her shoulders. Her acting completely elevated the movie I think, as the time travelling trope is old, but Ni Ni’s vigour and acting managed to make it feel fresh.The other actors were good as well, but none shone as brightly and wonderfully as her. The only actor I was a bit iffy about, was Wallace Huo as Mao. Wallace just came across as too stiff and stoic for me. Maybe Mao’s character was written that way or maybe Wallace didn’t have enough material? I don’t know, I just thought he was the weakest link, at least from the main cast.

And coming to the directing, I’m a big iffy on that as well. While there’s definitely quite a few beautifully shot and symbolic scenes, there’s also a few stereotypical shots. Idk. It’s not anything bad and I guess I’m just being nit-picky. Apparently the movie was the directorial debut of Zhang Mo. And I guess for her debut, she did a pretty decent job. Cinamatography was also quite top notch. I’m a fan of lighter, brighter movies and thankfully, this movie fit right into my preference. All in all, a beautifully light movie about the importance of self-love.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a fantastically cute character-focused movie with a nice message!

No Tomorrow TV Show Review

no-tomorrow

My goal for this blog was to only review things that had finished or when I had completely finished them. So for example, I haven’t reviewed the show X-files on this blog yet, despite being a HUGE fan, because I have still to watch the last movie and the recent revival episodes. Which brings me to this post. I’m breaking tradition (well, it was a burgeoning tradition at least) and reviewing a show that is currently still airing. I’ve decided that I can always write more reviews on the show as it airs, if that makes any sense. So today’s topic of review, is the TV show No Tomorrow.

No Tomorrow actually popped up on my Netflix and seemed curious. I googled it and was surprised to discover that it was actually rated quite highly, both among TV critics and normal viewers. With nothing to lose and a bit to gain (I had been lacking in having a show to watch when bored or eating), I decided to take the plunge and watch it.

Broadly speaking, the show is about a woman named Evie, played by Tori Anderson, who discovers that her dream man is an end-of-days nut. Xavier, played by Joshua Sasse, is convinced that the apocalypse is “nigh” and that in about 8 months, an astroid will hit Earth and the world will end. He claims to have done the math and in an effort to live life to the fullest, before everyone inevitably dies, he lives his days fulfilling his “apocolyst.” Basically, the list contains everything he’s ever wanted to do (which includes both having adventures but also owning up for his past regrets). Although Evie is rightfully initially kinda creeped out by Xavier, she eventually comes around and gets inspired to create her own apocolyst. Which, as she points out, doesn’t necessarily mean that she believes the world is going to end. Along with Evie and Xavier, the show also features an ensemble of unique, funny and great supporting characters.

There’s Hank, played by Jonathan Langdon, who is Evie’s best friend (along with being the best friend of Evie’s ex-boyfriend) and is himself an end-of-days paranoid. Except, his end-of-days theory doesn’t involve an astroid; it involves the Russians bombing the world and the world leaders saving themselves (in a bunker in which Hank is determined to get into). There’s Kareema, played by Sarayu Blue, who is Evie’s co-worker and friend and lives a very exciting life (consisting of partying wildly, having her own pansexuals group, and generally being cool). Kareema, doesn’t believe in the end-of-days either, but she is intrigued by the idea of an apocolyst and starts her own (although her’s contains stuff like helping others LOL). There’s also Evie’s ex-boyfriend Timothy, played by Jesse Rath, who is a published columnist and has a difficult time with getting over Evie and entering the dating pool again. And finally there’s Deidre, played by Amy Pietz, who is Evie’s boss who has a major crush on Hank but has difficulty expressing it because of corporate rules (Hank works in the same place).

Firstly, I actually really like the diversity in the show. It could definitely be more diversified through the inclusion of more people of colour, but in general, it’s actually nice to see. You have three white characters and then three people of colour (Hank is black, Kareema is South Asian I think and Timothy is mixed). And the best part, in my opinion, is that their race doesn’t significantly alter their characters. In other words, their characters are completely normal and not stereotyped; you can easily imagine them being a different ethnicity. Often, I find that when shows include people of colour, the characters are stereotyped to an extent. So for example, within The Big Bang Theory, you have Raj, who is stereotyped as Indian through the usage of an exaggerated Indian accent and shown as having the least luck with women. Similarly, in Glee, the token black girl (Mercedes) was characterized as being sassy while the asian characters (Tina and Mike) were depicted as nerds. These stereotypes are harmful, annoying, and over-used. Not all Indians have an accent or have trouble with dates. Not all black girls are sassy and not all asians are nerds. People of colour are people, normal people like everyone and No Tomorrow makes that clear.

On that note, the characters themselves are pretty interesting and dimensional, for the most part. Evie is incredibly relatable. A nice girl trying to get through life, but who also keeps strict boundaries for herself. For example, she doesn’t party often, doesn’t interrupt people and sticks to the status quo. However, through the help of Xavier and her apocolyst, she grows and learns to let go of some of her boundaries while keeping others and recognizing their importance. In other words, she doesn’t completely change herself for or because of Xavier. She does it for herself, through a little pushing from other characters sometimes. Similarly, Xavier isn’t just some maniac, free-spirited, fun loving guy. He’s more grounded than that. He realizes that the world sees him as crazy and that not all of his ideas are really great ideas. That said, due to the limited amount of screen time for the other supporting characters, their characters do have the tendency to come across as one-dimensional at times. For example, Evie’s boss Deidre sort of fits into the box of the intimidating boss lady who struggles to be vulnerable; key word being ‘sort-of.’ Similarly, Timothy comes across as a sort of typical insecure geek at times. He writes for a tech magazine and is a published columnist but still struggles when it comes to asking girls out. Although, I do think it’s necessary to point out that he’s only like that sometimes. In other words, he doesn’t always easily fit into the mould of an insecure geek and actually goes out and does other stuff as well. Kareema and Hank fall into similar categories as well. The characters are pretty dimensional, but suffer from a lack of screen time in developing their dimensionality (is that even a word LOL?). Yet, they are still understandable and enjoyable to watch

And finally, I quite enjoy the story. It definitely has it’s cliche romantic-comedy moments, but it also goes in other unexpected directions. For example, after being broken up, Evie and Timothy end up matching on a soul-mate app. Both of them wonder if this is a sign. In other sitcoms, you can easily expect to see three scenarios: 1. Evie and Timothy take this as a sign and end up together again 2. Timothy rejects Evie which makes her reconsider their relationship 3. Evie rejects Timothy again which sends him downwards. All three are common tropes I’ve witnessed in other shows. However, they don’t happen in the show. Instead, the show subverts a cliche moment and then undergoes a different one. In other words, it has some cliche moments but not others.

On the whole, I’m quite enjoying watching this show. The only thing that sucks, is that currently only 5 episodes have aired and hence the story and characters are still developing. Well actually, the latter isn’t that bad at all. It’s just the limited amount of episodes that sucks. I’m very excited for the show to resume and for more episodes to be produced and to see what happens next!

My rating: go watch it for a fun, light hearted romantic comedy with a twist!