Destination Wedding

The story of two miserable and unpleasant wedding guests, Lindsay and Frank, who develop a mutual affection despite themselves.

Winona RyderKeanu Reeves

Director: Victor Levin • Year: 2018
IMDB Rating: 6/10 • My Rating: 3/5

Lindsay: Don’t you believe there is someone for everyone?

Frank: Close. I believe that there is nobody for anyone.

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

In many ways this was better than expected as it offers up two pretty awful people to actually root for, despite it all. Frank (Reeves) and Lindsay (Ryder) meet at the airport and soon start bickering. To their dismay, on the light aircraft to their destination, they learn they’re going to the same wedding.

Frank is the estranged half-brother of the groom, while Lindsay used to be engaged to him – but was dumped five weeks before their own  wedding, six years previously. They’re both there out of a twisted sense of duty and Lindsay figures this might give her the closure she needs. While the pair are both cynical and pessimistic – and seem incapable of not roasting one another – they form an odd bond against the rest of the wedding party.

One thing inevitably leads to another and our caustic couple live happily ever after. Well, not really but there’s a sniff of hope and that’s all this is saying. Sure, be negative but maybe try to be open to the possibility of something meaningful too?

When Lindsay suggests that they take their one-nighter further, Frank is reluctant for all his reasons. Will he change his mind? This is a short review because, well action wise we’re a little light on the ground. This is more a study of human expectation and disappointment – with the two coolest leads on the planet.

Lindsay: Do you wanna have children?

Frank: I’d rather be dead in a ditch.

My Comments

I really liked the blend of cynicism and hope but there’s a stiffness to it and – much as I adore him with every fiber of my being – I think this is down to how much dialog there is for KR to process. However, in a way this works towards building his character, who’s awkward and unpleasant – but seriously hot. The sarcasm almost suits him and it’s a role we seldom see him in, so it’s worth relishing.

I loved seeing this golden couple back on the screen together – so they could have been doing or saying anything and I’d be satisfied. As is happens there a few stand out scenes that really tickled me – the scene in which they decide to do it (and Lindsay shouts “No no no!” at the point of climax because she’s a negative person) – and when they’re tearing down the wedding guests one by one.

Frank: Why would anyone have my mother as their maid of honor?

Lindsay: I know, it’s like having the Grim Reaper at your CAT scan.

Winona is wonderful of course, her facial expressions are a dream and I love her even more since Joyce Byers came into my life. She brings a realness to Lindsay that I can really identify with and honestly, can someone just find a new film for her to star in with the man of the moment?

What are you watching?

Mubarakan, or: Films So Long You Need to Take a Nap Half-Way Through

DISCLAIMER: This is a light-hearted film review and not intended to defame, discredit or hurt the sentiments of any character, action, religion, profession or community. Also, if I get any of the plot mixed up it’s because A LOT happens, okay?

We’re trying something new this August: Bollywood movies. Let’s just say it’s going to be a very vibrant, dramatic and deliciously choreographed Summer round these parts. Join us?

Join Karan and Charan in a very crazy yet chaotic marriage of the year.

Anil KapoorArjun KapoorIleana D’Cruz

Director: Anees Bazmee • Year: 2017
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10 • My Rating: 3/5

My Review

Charanveer and Karanveer Singh (Arjun Kapoor) are identical twins who, following the tragic accidental death of their parents, find themselves separated at birth. Charan is sent to Punjab to be brought up by his proud uncle Baljeet (Pavan Malhotra), while Karan is raised by his aunt Jeeto (Ratna Pathak Shah) in London.

The boys know each other as cousins – or so I thought – but when we meet them as adults they seem very much aware that they are brothers. I guess when your face is the exact replica of your cousin’s it raises a few questions. In between Jeeto and Baljeet stands younger brother Kartar (Anil Kapoor) who also lives in London on an estate he calls “mini Punjab” with his white, English butler (and PA?).

Charan is a mild-mannered, religious boy who wouldn’t say boo to a goose and certainly not to his old man. Karan is slicker than your average and has an eye for fit ladies, much to the chagrin of his feisty girlfriend Sweety (D’Cruz). He doesn’t mean any harm though and does love her, even though they bicker all the time.

Things get messed up when Sweety inadvertently insults Jeeto in a shopping centre. Although Jeeto despises her on sight, she doesn’t twig that Sweety is Karan’s girlfriend and Karan does nothing to correct the situation. And he certainly can’t bring himself to tell his aunt that this is the woman he wants to marry.

When Jeeto and her husband engineer a marriage for Karan to great catch Binkle (Athiya Shetty), he is forced to talk his way out of proceedings by convincing his uncle that he wants to focus on his career – launching a chain of restaurants.

In his place he offers up Charan as Binkle’s would-be groom. Which sorts everything, right?

WRONG. Charan also has a girlfriend. Like Sweety, Nafisa (Neha Sharma) is a firecracker too, a lawyer who’s sick of Charan’s shit because he doesn’t have the kahonnies to tell his family about her. The issue is that she’s Muslim and his father/uncle is very against that. Not even exclusively, he’s down on any religion that doesn’t match his. And Charan is nothing if not a yes-man.

So, Charan is shipped to London to meet Binkle and her family, including father Sandhu (Rahul Dev) and her brother Munpreet (Karan Kundrra). He doesn’t even mention it to Nafisa until he’s landed and only then because she asks him what he’s up to. Reluctant to be married off, Charan has already called on his uncle Kartar to help him sabotage the meeting. Inventive as anything, Kartar convinces Charan to pretend to be a druggie.

But when Charan claps eyes on Binkle, something changes. She’s flipping stunning, gentle and perfect – and a very wholesome spark is ignited. Yey! Except, the drug plan falls into place despite Charan’s attempt to abort the mission and Sandhu insults Baljeet, claiming he’ll never let his family connect with the likes of theirs.

Phew! That’s only about a quarter of the film. To make amends to Sandhu, to whom they owe a great gratitude, Jeeto and her family offer Karan to Binkle instead. Which is kind of awks. In response, Sweety is presented as a wifely option for Charan – all the while Jeeto still bears a massive grudge toward her but at least she isn’t marrying her son/nephew. Still with me?

I can’t remember what the final straw is but there’s discord between brother and sister – and Jeeto and Baljeet become estranged. In defiance against his sister, Baljeet (who BTW is very handsome) makes a vow that he doesn’t need her help to marry off Karan and that he’ll have him spliced on the 25th of the next month.

Hence the Sweety match.

Kartar, torn between his siblings, manages to get them both to agree to have the weddings in London and on the same day.

MEANWHILE… Nafisa is fuming and ends up coming to London too, there are chance meetings, arguments and most importantly there is love and incredible dance numbers that rarely make sense. My favourite song is unquestionably Take Your Lovely Goggles Off.

When Nafisa falls for Binkle’s brother Munpreet, everything almost slots perfectly into place. Binkle has Charan, Sweety loves Karan – and Nafisa has snared Munpreet. If only the twins had the bottle to just admit what they want and stand up to their families!

Well, wedding day comes around and I’m woman enough to admit that, when Kartar is forced to make a heartwarming speech to bring his brother and sister back together, I cried. For a super goofy, melodramatic slice of solid gold Rom Com, it got me.

My Comments

There is absolutely no good reason for this to be two and a half hours long though. I had to have a nap 90 minutes in. There is so much to-ing and fro-ing that I got lost a lot. I’m not even sure this review is fully accurate.

I did find myself getting frustrated a lot with all the secrecy and the boys’ reluctance to stick up for themselves – and there’s also a fair amount of waiting around for God to make things happen. But I’m not from a devout Indian family. Kartar’s speech filled in a lot of blanks for me about fear of being thrown out of the family.

Some of the acting seems deliberately hammy, everyone is very aesthetically pleasing (looking at you again, Uncle Baljeet) and the colour is wonderful. It’s very fun and as my first full length Bollywood movie experience, I’m very much excited for the next one.

Netflix seems to have an array of incredibly interesting looking Indian movies at the moment and I’m already trying to work out if Hisss technically counts as a Bollywood movie for my next pick.

What does my Technicolor angel think of this Bollywood fever dream? Would she rope in into a flash mob in the middle of Picadilly or reject its marriage proposal cold? Find out here.

Juliet, Naked

Our so-called fuck up this week is incredibly easy to relate to so I probably like this film more than I would normally because of that. Also, Rose Byrne is such a gifted comic actor, I want to be her.

Juliet, Naked is the story of Annie (the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan) and her unlikely transatlantic romance with once revered, now faded, singer-songwriter, Tucker Crowe, who also happens to be the subject of Duncan’s musical obsession.

Chris O’DowdRose ByrneEthan Hawke

What if you met the man of your man’s dreams?

ABWGHOJRGVGVJGVAUVWRVHG7EU

*Minor spoilers*

Annie (Byrne) still lives in her hometown and is the curator at the local museum. She lives with her long-term boyfriend Duncan (O’Dowd), even though the relationship is pretty threadbare. It isn’t helped by Duncan’s all-consuming obsession with the music of singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe (Hawke). Crowe’s last work was released 25 years ago but this doesn’t stop him running a dedicated fan site.

When a surprise package arrives at the couple’s home, Annie opens it first and discovers a collection of acoustic covers of Crowe’s seminal masterpiece, “Juliet”. The new work is called “Juliet, Naked”. Duncan is none-to-pleased to arrive home and find his girlfriend has already listened to it. He’s even less thrilled when she tears it apart. This leads to a huge argument and Annie leaves a negative review of the demo on his website.

When Annie later receives a response to her critique from someone purporting to be Tucker Crowe, things start to get interesting. He thanks her for her honesty and it soon becomes clear that it really is the man himself. The pair quickly begin a regular correspondence, updating each other on the intimate details of their lives. Annie ends up being very candid about her sadness at not being a mother, while Crowe shares his regrets about being a bad father to five kids, by four different mothers.

Meanwhile, Duncan bangs a teacher at his school and his relationship with Annie conveniently comes to an end. Round about the same time, Crowe – who lives in America to be near his youngest son, Jackson – has to travel to London for his daughter Lizzie (Ayoola Smart) who’s about to give birth to her first child. Of course he arranges to meet Annie in London but stands her up.

She forgives him when she learns he’s had a heart attack and the pair finally manage to meet, though the small hospital room in which she finds him is soon full of ex-wives and children. She stays for a beat then excuses herself, never to be seen again. Kidding. Crowe invites himself and Jackson to Annie’s to recuperate and get to know her better.

Which is lovely and all but how will she explain the shrine to Tucker Crowe that still lives in the house? Indeed, how will Duncan take his first – and subsequent – meetings with his idol?

It’s all very idyllic but what will become of the new couple when reality comes a-knocking and Crowe has to return to the US?

Well, this is a slow burning quite lovely little lament on regret and new beginnings. It may please you to note that Annie does what she wants to do finally – and follows her own dreams, regardless of other people’s demands on her. I think in the hands of someone else I would have been bored but the small-town seaside setting feels authentic and both Byrne and Hawke put in good, low-key performances. I cannot abide Chris O’Dowd if we’re being honest but he brings the infuriating character if Duncan to life by default.

While I enjoyed this, I don’t have that much to say about it. Not that much happens. I do however understand the pressure of waking up in your forties and being nowhere near the person you thought you would be. There’s a sadness and some hope in there somewhere, depending on how you look at it.

Film details:

Juliet, Naked
Year: 2018
Director: Jesse Peretz
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
My Rating: 4/5

What does my girl think of Juliet, Naked? Would she set up a very niche fan site for it or send it back to obscurity forever? Find out here.

Yesterday

A struggling musician realises he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.

Himesh PatelLily JamesSophia Di Martino

Everyone in the World Has Forgotten the Beatles. Everyone Except Jack…

*Minor spoilers*

Jack (Patel) is an aspiring musician who isn’t setting the world alight. In fact, the only person who really seems to believe in him is BFF Ellie (James), who also happens to be his manager. After a disappointing gig at Latitude festival, Jack decides to call in quits and go back to teaching. Ellie has strong views about this but his mind is set.

On the way home that night there’s a mysterious global black out and all electricity goes off for 12 seconds across the world. During this tiny window of time, Jack is knocked off his bike by a bus. Smashed up but otherwise okay, Jack slowly heals and things go back to normal, but for one thing: nobody but Jack seems to remember The Beatles.

WHUT.

A frantic Google session reveals that there is no record of John, Paul, George or Ringo – and the only beetle of any note is the multi-legged kind. This means that the entire Beatles back catalog is available for plagiarism, if only Jack can remember the words. When he starts pulling it all together, his career (gradually) starts to take off. He becomes locally famous at least.

Despite this gift of true art at his fingertips, Jack laments that it must be him, destined only for mediocrity. Until he gets a call from the Ed Sheeran (as himself) and in turn, meets Ed’s manager, Debra Hammer (Kate McKinnon). Debra whisks Jack to LA to work on his image and an incredible double album primed to change the face of music forever.

But none of this sits right with Jack and his guilt begins to weigh on him. Meanwhile Ellie, now stood down as his manager, reveals her true feelings. Is Jack capable of giving her what she needs? And, when two oddballs come out of the woodwork as the only other people who remember the band, will Jack’s deep secret be revealed for him?

Well, there are some lovely touches here and it is a feel-good movie, as you’d expect from its screenwriter, Rom Com godfather Richard Curtis. None of the story line is explained which I really like. Along with The Beatles, there are lots of iconic popular culture references that no longer exist, including Coca Cola which is crazy to even comprehend.

I enjoyed Yesterday a lot but I fear it might disappear quickly from my memory. While Danny Boyle has done a fine job with it – particularly some of the grander scale scenes, specifically the roof top gig – I don’t think it’s as iconic as Love Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary or Notting Hill (all penned by Mr Curtis).

Regardless, I enjoyed the character of Jack. He’s not awful to look at all – and Lily James is always quality, even though she’s quite underwritten as Ellie. I would have liked more for her character. But all in all, colour me happy with this higher-end Rom Com, which I watched on my own straight from work on Friday night. The perfect solo date.

Film details:

Yesterday
Year: 2019
Director: Danny Boyle
IMDB Rating: 7/10
My Rating: 3.5/5

What are you watching?

Always Be My Maybe

I’ll be quite honest, I suggested this film just so I could watch THE VERY SPECIAL CELEBRITY CAMEO segment again – it is pure perfection. But more on that momentarily.

The film itself is pretty standard fare but its depiction of American-Asian culture is joyous. These details are not shown nearly enough on the big screen and I’m here for it. We’ve done the white experience a millions times. Which reminds me of Jordan Peele’s vow to keep using his position to explore stories that aren’t led by white people.

A pair of childhood friends end up falling for each other when they grow up.

Ali WongRandall ParkKeanu Reeves

There’s Always Been Something Between Them.

*Minor spoilers*

Marcus Kim (Park) and Sasha Tran (Wong) are childhood BFFs who do everything together. Sasha’s parents are largely absent but what she doesn’t get from her own family, she gets from the Kims, who live next door. While she and Marcus are besties, Sasha is very close to Mrs Kim, who teaches her all about authentic Korean cuisine.

Tragedy strikes when Mrs Kim passes away suddenly when the pair are teenagers. As Marcus grieves for his mother, Sasha comforts him and they end up having sex in the back of his car. Unfortunately, Marcus lashes out at Sasha shortly afterwards and the pair stop being friends. Sasha eventually moves away from their hometown of San Francisco and they never see each other again.

LOL. That would be a short review, wouldn’t it?

As with any great Rom Com, that is so not the end of it. In 2019, Sasha is a celebrity chef, engaged to world-renowned restaurateur Brandon Choi (Daniel Dae Kim). Things are all looking groovy until Brandon suggests a separation in the lead up to the wedding. He believes this will help them really appreciate one another and be sure they’re doing the right thing (SURE, BRANDON).

The ‘break’ coincides with Sasha’s return to the Bay Area to oversee the opening of a new restaurant. With assistant/pal Veronica (Michelle Buteau) in tow, Sasha returns to her old stomping ground and would you believe it? By chance meets Marcus and his father again. Marcus has never left San Fran, instead opting to stay on as his widowed father’s carer. The pair have a heat and air business – and Marcus is also the front-man of a very good but not very successful band on the side – Hello Peril.

Little by little the friendship flourishes again and Sasha also joins the dating pool, after dumping Brandon Choi once and for all. Marcus has a girlfriend called Jenny (the brilliant Vivian Bang) who his friends don’t particularly like – and no-one is more dubious about Jenny than Harry (James Saito), Marcus’ sexy dad – and all because of Sasha Tran. Pa has clocked his son’s true feelings, even before Marcus has.

*Bit of a bigger spoiler here*

Unfortunately, Marcus has to get past one Keanu Reeves before he can get into Sasha’s heart.

NB: It occurs to me only this morning that maybe I should have been a bit more discreet about this surprise appearance, especially since it’s absolutely the highlight. So I’ve added extra spoiler warnings.

Sasha and Neo are enjoying a steamy fling – and let me just assure you that this whole section is magic. As KR reveals himself to be wonderfully kooky and a bit of a douche, Marcus’ true feelings become more obvious. Will the most bizarre double date in cinematic history (probably) result in something really good?

Well of course it will.

But you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? Marcus doesn’t naturally fit into the same circles as Sasha and when she has to return home to NYC, he’s not keen to follow. He doesn’t like the work events he’s required to attend, he doesn’t like holding Sasha’s clutch bag and he sure as shit doesn’t like being referred to as an ‘ordinary guy’. This leads to fights and ultimately, the pair part ways again.

Will this prompt Marcus to really examine his life choices? Will losing Sasha be the push he needs to take more chances with his art, accept that his father doesn’t really need a carer and take a giant leap of faith for once in his life? We’ll see. But yes.

Again, this film is formulaic but it has a lot more heart that 80% of romantic comedies and the more I watch the more I like it. Both leads are likable but not too saccharine and you can totally buy them as a couple. The supporting characters, including Sasha’s parents, Marcus’ dad and band mates – and dread-locked Jenny are so much fun. Jenny is a real highlight in the Keanu scenes as her reactions are all of us.

Again, I love all the little nods to Asian tradition and authenticity, and there’s a gorgeously touching tribute made to Mrs Kim right at the very end that gave me a lump in my throat.

I recommend this movie stat if you have a free Saturday afternoon. There are worse ways to spend 1 hour 42. Oh and also, did I mention Keanu?

Film details:

Always Be My Maybe
Year: 2019
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
My Rating: 3.5/5 – 100/5 for Keanu

What does Wifey think of this week’s pick? Would she leave in alone in Burger King never to speak to it again – or hold its bag forever? Find out here.