Category Archives: romance

Sunset Song

sunsetsongSunset Song, directed by Terence Davies, follows Chris Guthrie, played steadily by Agyness Deyn, beginning with her in school, where she and her classmates are struggling in a French language class. Soon she meanders along as we get know her family, clearly, a struggle with her beloved mom, played heart-wrenchingly by Daniela Nardini, and her grumpy dad, played solidly by Peter Mullan.

Patently, her mother is not in a nurturing relationship, and her father is abusive with her and his eldest son, Will, played to the hilt by Jack Greenlees. Will longs to leave home because he is fed up with being abused and bossed around by his dad.  The movie meanders more with beautiful scenes of the Scottish land while Chris suffers through hardships. But, she is strong and gets through each poignant moment because the land she lives on never oppressions her and is always there supporting her no matter what tragedy she goes through.

Having Scottish decedents, I wanted to see this movie set in Scotland during the turn of the century and in the shadow of World War I. Sunset Song is the coming of age story of Chris as we follow her through personal hardships. Eventually, Chris is left alone to tend to the family farm and fend for herself against their abusive father, who eventually dies. Believing she finally found happiness, Chris marries Ewan, played intuitively by Kevin Guthrie, who enlists in the army to fight in The Great War, leaving Chris to tend to the family farm by herself. Ewan returns on leave and the brief reunion is not romantic but coarse and hard to bear. Yet, Chris stays strong and tends the farm after Ewan goes back to the front lines in France.

A tale of steadfast resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity. Yet, the meandering feel of the movie is the irony to the story. Such tranquility in the land but harsh injustice in society. Davies direction pulls it off well.

With cinematography by Michael McDonough, the movie looks more than just visually appealing from start to finish. McDonough captures the tone and era along with the heartache and loss of The Great War.

The movie is based on one of Scotland’s most cherished and notable novels in the last century.  A look at six years in the life of a peasant farm family before and just after the bloodshed of World War I. Life was severe, markedly for the women, who had no control over their destiny. The movie is worth seeing if you want an honest Scottish story that wanders incrementally from hardship to hardship.  The dialogue is totally Scottish, so switch on the English subtitles if it bothers you or just set back and enjoy the movie.

In-Lawfully Yours

front-artIn-Lawfully Yours, directed by Robert Kirbyson, is a Christian faith movie where the discovery of the joys of falling in love in unexpected places makes it an enchanting romantic comedy. The sweet and wholesome movie features talented, funny and seasoned actors like Chelsey Crisp, Marilu Henner, Corbin Bernsen, Phillip Boyd and Joe Williamson. The Dove Foundation has granted the film a 4 out of 5 rating and a faith-friendly seal for ages 12 and older.

The story follows Jesse, played by Crisp, who is a New York City girl. She knows how to be fun in a heartfelt way. You just like her, right way. And you feel for her when she finds out her husband Chaz, played honestly by Boyd, cheats on her and eventually divorces her. Still, Jesse stands by her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi played by Henner and graciously helps her pack up her home in small-town Bethel Cove.

This is where Crip’s acting talent shines. She plays Jesse as a big city girl with candid wit. Yet, the small town clashes with her eccentric questions about religion and offbeat behavior around the local community, including the town pastor Ben, played by Williamson. Ben also happens to be her ex-husband’s brother-in-law.

As the story unfolds, Ben and Jesse discover what they are both looking for — each other. But when they make their relationship public, Jesse’s ex-husband rallies the community against her and gets Ben fired from the church.  Jesse leaves Bethel Cove to bring peace to Ben’s situation and to hopefully find a place where she truly belongs, in spite of the fact that she can’t stop thinking about Ben.

The ending is really great and fun to watch, but I will not tell you what happens. You have to see for yourself, but it is worth watching.

Much of the filming of the movie took place on and around Regent’s Virginia Beach with nearly 80 graduate and undergraduate students working on the film. The DVD includes special behind-the-scenes features, highlighting the student filmmakers who helped bring this really fun movie to watch to the screen.

My Golden Days

MGD Train Kiss SceneDirected by Arnaud Desplechin, My Golden Days is a French film that is a masterpiece.  The movie follows Paul Dedalus played by Mathieu Amalric, who is brilliant in The Grand Budapest Hotel and is best known for playing the villain in James Bond’s Quantum of Solace.

In My Golden Days, Amalric reprises the role from Desplechin’s My Sex Life…Or How I Got into an Argument to which he experiences a series of flashbacks – most notably on his first heart-wrenching love affair.

Desplechin next installment is a series of flashbacks as well as the story follows Paul’s flashbacks as a younger Paul, play innocently by Quentin Dolmaire, and Esther, played compellingly by Lou Roy-LeCollinet, who received a Cesar nomination. Both deliver stunning performances in their first film debut.

My Golden Days reflects on the seemingly unforgettable romance shared between the two young lovers as they attempt to salvage their relationship despite the distance that keeps them apart as Paul attends University with their shifting circles of friends and betrayal. Although an unlikely pair, both Esther and Paul compensate for one another. It is endearing to watch Esther deliver as the brutally honest, sometimes haughty counterpart, while Paul remains the understanding and forgiving sense of security she’s always sought after. As Paul reflects on his formative years, his emotions run rampant and prove that Esther has left a deep impression on his heart that not even time can erase.

The story is about the older Paul Dédalus, an anthropologist preparing to leave Tajikistan. Reflecting on his life, he has a series of flashbacks starting from his childhood in Roubaix—his mother’s attacks of madness, his father’s alienating depression. He remembers a student trip to the USSR, where a clandestine mission led him to offer up his own identity for a young Russian, whom he considered a phantom twin for the remainder of his life. He remembers University life and returning to his hometown to party with his sister and her best friend, his shifting circle of friends and their casual betrayals. And most of all he remembers Esther, the beautiful, rude, haughty soul, and love of his life.

The special features are worth mentioning and include a discussion with director Arnaud Desplechin, a behind-the-scenes look at the casting session for Paul and Esther, and a sit down with the cast.

International Kissing Day is every July 6th, and My Golden Days may prove to be the best movie to watch on this celebrated day.

The Choice

BD_skew.OCARDNicholas Sparks stories are gentle, slow, and predictable. The Notebook is my eternal favorite because the acting and directing of the movie are brilliant. Starring legends James Garner and Gena Rowland with upstarts Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, the movie is, also, my daughter’s favorite Sparks movie. With that, I am not a super fan of Sparks, but I am interested in his stories because they are spiritual. Current society at large can sure use some good old fashion spiritual revival.

Directed by Ross Katz, who won awards for producing Lost in Translation and directing and writing Taking Chance, begins The Choice with Travis, played by Benjamin Walker. He meets his match and neighbor, Gabby, played by Teresa Palmer.  She is focused on her medical degree while he likes to charm the ladies.

To say the least, Gabby and Travis ignite on less than friendly terms, but the story languorous around until a spark brings them seriously and hopelessly in love. Knowing Sparks stories, something tragic needs to happen. So tragic and so sad that only the spiritual connection can be its saving grace. It’s a long third act, but well worth the time if you are a devote Sparks fan.

I didn’t read the book, so I am not sure how closely the movie follows the book. I wonder if the book tells us more about Gabby’s family. In the movie, we only get to know Travis’ family, which left an empty spot in the storyline, making it a little too lopsided for a believable and caring movie. I would have liked to have gotten to know Gabby’s family better. Katz easily could have added a few scenes here and there with Gabby’s parents while cutting out some repetitive scenes between Travis and his family.

Tom Wilkinson plays Travis’ father, and he is a joy to watch. He is in the movie quite a bit, which put a smile on my face. Wilkinson can deliver lines like no other, just wonderful.

Man Up

manupDirected by Ben Palmer with whimsical music by Dickon Hinchliffe, Man Up is a romantic comedy one doesn’t expect but is still very good and fun to watch. Jack, played honestly by Simon Pegg, and Nancy played heartfelt by Lake Bell, take an unusual situation and make the most of it. It’s not quite a blind date, but still they have a night on the town. The talented supporting cast adds, even more, sparks to the believable and well-honed script by Tess Morris.

The movie starts with Nancy who seems to be having been a hard time in general. She meets Jack at the train station, and they end up spending the day together even though she promised her parents she would give the “Happy Anniversary” speech at their party. Running into Jack sets her boring life on a whirlwind, and the stimulating chemistry and ease they have with each other is fun to watch. Pegg is not the typical handsome leading man, and for him to play Jack makes their situation a bit twisted though the attraction is percolating.

The movie flies along with the couple getting along quite well while sharing sharp-witted humor and going with the flow of just having an awesome time. They move from place to place and become comfortable with each other as they communicate and laugh together.

They have a run in with Jack’s almost ex-wife, Hilary, played caustically by Olivia Williams, with her new boyfriend.  The scene is fun to watch because Hilary is so arrogant toward Jack, and when she gets her comeuppance, it’s so perfect to see.

More twists happen in the story that I will not disclose because I want you to enjoy the movie and be surprised. I will say at one point Jack completely goes whacky with such blatant sarcasm and over-the-top wit that Pegg pulls it off brilliantly as he is so well-known for doing.

All in all, the ending really brings the movie to a nice closure with a feel good, let’s have fun attitude. I am happy I saw this movie and highly recommend it.

For Better or for Worse

For Better Or For Worse DVD 3D (1)For Better or for Worse brings former TV series The Facts of Life co-stars Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields together again in two very different roles for each actress. If you like the former TV show, then you should find these two women together again a scream. Antonio Cupo also stars in the movie and is a regular in Hallmark movies, appearing in Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade and I Do, I Do, I Do.

Based on the novel by Diana Hunt and directed by Marita Grabiak, Wendy (Whelchel) is a wedding planning coordinator. She is coming to grips with her grief of losing her husband.  In walks charming, and a bit of a thorn in the side, divorce attorney Marco (Cupo). He establishes his practice next door to Wendy’s wedding chapel. Rosanne (Fields) works for Wendy, is a good friend, and offers sage advice to the two business conflict with each other. A feud emerges as it becomes clear that weddings and divorces are like oil and water. When Wendy’s son and Marco’s daughter meet, fall in love and get engaged, Wendy and Marco are forced to team up and plan the kids’ wedding.  Opposites attract and well…you need to see the movie and find out how the romance blossoms between the two.

The movie is fresh and delightful as a romantic comedy and is a little too predictable for my tastes.  Yet, if you are a fan of Hallmark movies, then you will love this happy, go-round, and up and down movie.

My Boyfriends’ Dogs

My Boyfriends' Dogs DVD-f (1)Hallmark movies have their own flavor of entertainment based on a formula that works most the time. My Boyfriends’ Dogs works for me because of Ericka Christensen, who plays Bailey Daley, creates a very believe able winsome character that you can’t help but love.  She is on her own, unattached, charming, cute in a funny way and attracts guys more often than one would think.

The crux of the story is each guy who approaches her turns out having a dealbreaker.  It’s not because they are criminals or killers. It’s because they are control freaks or just don’t like dogs, which Bailey says is the grounds for a breakup.

In spite of everything, she meets three different guys, played by Jeremy Gilbaut, Oliver Rice, Jesse Hutch, and she gets serious enough to be smitten with their dogs.  She ends up breaking it off with the guys, but keeps their dogs, a golden retriever, a Dalmatian and a Shih Tzu. Here, we begin our story with Bailey because the rest of the story is told in flashback.  I like it.

Being a Hallmark movie is a shoe in to have a happy ending, and for this movie, it’s called a twist of fate. But just how it happens is what makes the story interesting to watch until the end.  You will like Christensen, the dogs, and even the ex-boyfriends.  The story may seem a bit slow, but it is worth watching for all the talent on the screen.

Some Kind of Beautiful

somekindDirected by Scottish television and film director Tom Vaughan, the movie follows Richard Haig, played by Pierce Brosnan. Haig teaches the Romantics at Cambridge where he encounters an American student named Kate, played by Jessica Alba. They start a relationship of sorts, after 6 months, she is having his baby. Richard is an honorable man and takes his new and young bride to Los Angles.  He meets Kate’s half sister, played by Salma Hayek. Now, we have a threesome happening here, and Kate has a baby boy.

Haig discovers his wife is leaving him, and his life is crushed. His entire livelihood is concentrated on his son while trying to get a new job.  His situation gets twisted around and he begins to have lusty and romantic feelings for Olivia. The problem is that his Visa renewal comes up. At this point, Richard needs to find a job, remain in the US, and find love with Olivia whom he never wanted to find love with in the first place.

The storyline is nothing new, but it is good to see these actors together. Vaughan has done his fare share of romantic comedies, yet this one misses its mark. The movie is way too predictable and not original with any surprises. Don’t get me wrong. It is funny and easy to watch, but Vaughan holds back the final punch for the knockout of laughs.  The actors do a fine job trying to save the movie from being too cookie cutter while the movie holds its own. Some Kind of Beautiful is worth a watch on cable or on a streaming network if you like these actors and can put up with a so-so, funny story.  But, watch the trailer…you’ll have a good laugh. Fun stuff.

Ice Sculpture Christmas

Ice Sculpture Christmas DVD-fSometimes it is just nice to sit down and watch a new movie that is greatly appreciated by so many others who enjoy Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” program. More than raising my expectations, I had a wonderful time watching Ice Sculpture Christmas as a whimsical movie. I found viewing the original ice sculptures in the movie was the most enjoyable part.

Directed by David Mackay, the movie follows a young woman, Callie Shaw, played by Rachel Boston. Her unwavering childhood dream is to be an accomplished chef. Trying to get her foot in the door, she nabbed a lowly job at a country club washing dishes with the hope of working her way up the ladder where the real cooking happens – in the kitchen. David Manning, played by David Alpay, is a well-off childhood friend, who works for his father. The two meet up again by chance, which is an entertaining scene to watch.

The movie cuts back and forth from their childhood friendship to their present budding romance, which makes the movie pleasurable and attractive. The well-rounded cast adds more to Callie and David’s story, and shows how David lives a much different lifestyle than Callie in regards to money and success. He never abandons his feelings for Callie even though she struggles with her own financial problems while trying to work her way into the country club kitchen.

Without her consent David enters Callie in a two person team competition for an ice sculpting contest. He knows she is more than capable to add her talents. Her self-esteem is heightened, yet David is not that talented or helpful with sculpting. Callie senses there could be a problem, particularly when Callie finds out who her direct competition happens to be.

Of course, the ending is predictable, but that makes Hallmark movies so much fun to watch. You can always count on a happily ever after ending.

‘Tis the Season for Love

Tis The Season For Love DVD-fHallmark movies usually have a holiday theme in mind when they tell a story. ‘Tis the Season for Love definitely warms up to the countdown to Christmas.

Directed by Terry Ingram, we meet a New York actress named Beth, played by Sarah Lancaster. She is vying to land a role in a David Mamet play. After the audition and not hearing anything final, she receives a perfect gift from a close friend. An airline ticket back to her small hometown she left ten years ago.

Feeling like she needs a good rest, she arrives and soon finds her mother planning all of the Christmas things that the two need to do together.  She rather not do so much stuff, but compromises and visits the town’s Santa Claus, played by Gary Chalk. This simple visit may seem unimportant, but he does have a secret that leaves Beth wondering what the mystery is.

Along comes and old friend, Dean, played by Brendan Penny. He had a crush on her in High School, but didn’t act on it because she was dating Barry, played by Andrew Francis. Dean never felt the two belonged together since they had different interests. Dean is now divorced from Melinda and has twins while working as a fireman. Beth now finds him even more appealing. He boosts her self-confidence from her lack of nabbing acting roles she desires. The town’s Santa Claus is up to something inexplicable and situations get a little out of kilter.

Beth gets involved with a local theater production and really enjoys herself. The seed has been planted, and she is pondering whether or not she should stay in her small hometown for good. Confusion is the end result of her indecision, and what will happen to her future.

You can’t go wrong with a Hallmark movie because they have a formula they follow for each production. Like ‘Tis the Season for Love, each movie is simple but direct, and a love story is sure to flourish.