Film Review – Before Sunrise (1995)

Finally, a romance film up for discussion! Truthfully, I’m a hopeless romantic, haha. I dabble with the rom-coms from time to time and more so the critically romantic classics. Others I like are those “in between” movies. They’re not the masterpiece classics, but they’re not sappy, cheesy comedies… It’s that blissful balance of a conversation piece and wanderlust. It’s the film that you didn’t think you needed, but you can’t help but fall in love with it.  In BEFORE SUNRISE, a young American tourist, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets French student Celine (Julie Delpy) by chance on a  Euro-train from Budapest to Vienna. When story plots become non existent, here with BEFORE SUNRISE we are given an absolute joy of a night in Vienna. It’s like, “Who needs a plot?!” Well, BEFORE SUNRISE proves to be an exceptionally delightful excursion on its own with the beautiful landscape of dialogue.

The genius that is Richard Linklater (SLACKER, DAZED AND CONFUSED, BOYHOOD) directs this fresh air of a film, and his subtle direction in BEFORE SUNRISE is magical. The directing is just impeccable and so graceful. With ordinary characters, Linklater was able to create something extraordinary between them. Alongside Kim Krizan, Linklater let the writing speak for itself, literally. I love how he stays true to the conversation-as-plot narrative, and the way he always focuses on character and makes it a priority to make the audience invest in these characters more than anything. I can say that the originality is here. Everything falls into place. With continuous shots through the lovely streets at night, it is effortless to follow Jesse and Celine as they discuss love, death, and life, all the while falling in love with each other. To walk the streets at night with someone and forget the world, and to lose yourself into them for one night is euphoric bliss. BEFORE SUNRISE stands out in cinema with its lengthy instrospective dialogue and attention to human experiences.

When you have two people meet in a sort of serendipitous circumstance, I think that’s how sparks can really fly. The film doesn’t have a crucial plot. Jesse and Celine strike up a conversation on the train, they become infatuated with each other, all the while knowing, that this ridiculously random meet will soon have to cease and they will go their separate ways when the train stops. But it’s when the time comes that Jesse realizes maybe there’s more to this. Maybe if he puts himself out there and invites her to take his stop, they will continue the night talking about life , love, and the wonders of one’s purpose. Go ahead and watch the clip below. (Try not to fall prey to Ethan Hawke’s charm, LOL.)

Let it be known that I have an undying love for Ethan Hawke for as long as I can remember. His characters always have this great substance to them and he’s just so lovable! Maybe that’s just my opinion, though. Maybe it’s  just me relating to his roles as a writer and this artsy charm to him. But this isn’t the last time we see him play these indie roles. Remember the anthology film, NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU? I reviewed it once upon a time. In one of the shorts, Hawke played this very charming, persistent, ivy cap-wearing writer having a smoke with a chick on the street. It is really gold. Admittedly, I can recite it word for word, but we won’t tell anyone…!

Hawke and Delpy explore their chemistry in BEFORE SUNRISE and it helps the flow of the conversation to become so natural. That foundation alone has molded the film to be so beautiful. A definite favorite of mine. The film would go on to have two more story installments with BEFORE SUNSET (2004) and BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013), making it the ‘Before’ Trilogy. I look forward to reviewing the next two chapters to this wonderful story, so be on the lookout, friends.

Film Review- A Cure For Wellness (2017)

Let’s be honest, where does one start with A CURE FOR WELLNESS? For starters, what kind of film is it? Well it is a sci-fi/ mystery/ psychological thriller/ fairy tale/and body horror cluster fuck. It makes way for some critical thinking more toward the end of the film where they finally decide to pull all the strings of information and twists.

Directed by Gore Verbinski (THE RING, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise), A CURE FOR WELLNESS is a film that follows a young New York finance executive who is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an eerie “wellness center” located in the Swiss Alps. It soon becomes apparent that there’s something sketchy and macabre going on deep within the walls of this facility. Right off the bat, I thought this film was really going somewhere. Unfortunately, with its wickedly nice imagery of horrors, the later half of the film couldn’t quite carry its weight in narrative.

I came across a comment on the RogerEbert.com review of the film that said, “But at least it’s not “The Human Centipede.” And I really loved that comment, haha, because while having a genuine and original idea, the story is just so dry. It didn’t pull me in, and Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) as a character never became relevant to me. Quite honestly, I was rooting against the dude. A CURE FOR WELLNESS has a lot of nice visuals, but it just didn’t have enough substance in the script.

Where the storytelling drive runs short, we still have the visuals. The redeeming quality of A CURE FOR WELLNESS is Yugoslavian-born Bojan Bazelli. Yes, that’s right, the cinematographer of the film. The camera work in this film is what made the two and a half hours a little less painful to the eyes. Bazelli’s work really is a sight for sore eyes alongside the first half of the story, which was all going so brilliantly and in tune. Take a peek at the various stills straight from the film!

In an interview with No Film School, Bazelli discusses his uprising in film, his opportunities in the United States, and expresses the imagery in the film. Totally go check it out. A really interesting read! “If you can achieve the image that speaks emotions in the context of the story, you have done your job fantastically. That’s pretty much all [cinematographers] try to do,” said Bazelli.

So thank you, Bazelli, for your visually arresting shots of mysterious, slightly creepy, idiosyncratic euphoria. It brings me to a problem though. Do I like A CURE FOR WELLNESS at all? Here’s the thing, the idea is indeed original. It’s got “Hey ! I’m produced straight outta Hollywood, but I’m not another reboot or sequel! Gimme a chance!,” written all over it, haha. So you already want to give it a shot… It’s a shame that this film is actually so original and beautiful to watch, and yet at the same time, so dull in the storytelling department. It’s enchanting and jarring of a film, but it ultimately falls prey to the contents of its own demise.

And if you are a Verbinski fan and/or really enjoyed A CURE FOR WELLNESS, his next film will be SPACELESS, a science fiction suspense film in pre-production, so let’s cross our fingers on that one.

Playlist Bliss- WALLS

So if you know me in real life, you would know that I’m a huge Kings of Leon fan. Long time fan now and it astounds me that I haven’t written a piece on them yet…. Really, Jessica? But how does one write about their favorite stuff without rambling on? I’ll keep it simple today because if I decided to write an entire piece on my love for this band, we would be here all day. So maybe next time!

Today I’m writing a piece in Playlist Bliss highlighting what I’ve been listening to lately. Kings of Leon released their seventh studio album last year and have gone on tour in Europe and will actually be here in their hometown of Nashville, TN come September 29! OF COURSE YOUR GIRL IS GONNA BE THERE. Wouldn’t miss it… So, their title track “WALLS” comes to us with a feeling of heartache, longing, and defeat. The soft ongoing rhythm of guitar and piano encompasses a raw skin to the song, and I freaking love it.

The visuals of the video itself make it hard to not fall in love with.  We follow lead singer and guitarist Caleb Followill through a very minimal close encounter that takes us on a little short journey. Those piercing blue/green eyes and honest vocals just melt us. And he definitely is a beautiful man! The colors of the falling day in the distance just makes for a beautiful shot. Also, I tend to love basking in emotional music, haha. The song especially  touches me because it resonates with a lot emotions one may feel in their own life or just the fact that a song can become so vulnerable can make it easy to sympathize with.

Watch the music video, peeps! Watch it over and over again, like I do everyday. (kidding. but I do watch it weekly!) On October of 2016, Caleb Followill explained to Entertainment Weekly a little on how the band’s most popular songs came to be. Here’s what he had to say about the single “WALLS,”

“I found that melody on the road, and when I played it during sound check, everyone jumped on, immediately. I had, [sings] “When the walls come down…,” but for the rest I would just mumble. When we got in the studio, I opened my mouth and it just poured out. It’s like a gift from the gods. I was in the right place at the right time and said something that now, I mean, I’m getting texts from everyone like, ‘Man, that song really touched me,’ from big football players to my mom.”

“Representation of everything…”

Really wanted to share this post robofists-revenge put on tumblr a while back. I really have no words, because the post speaks for itself on many levels of the human heartbreak. While I am long gone from my past heartaches, a feeling of friendly retrospect is sometimes needed. I could write for ages of the many feelings I once felt. 500 Days of Summer, while being a beautiful movie in itself, was profoundly familiar to me through its essence. Being in love with the idea of someone/something can be the most excruciating thing, but at the same time, so liberating. How so? Because ‘people come and go.’ And sometimes, the experience leads you to believe in a higher reality for yourself. Sometimes people come into your life to unknowingly help you realize what you love out of life… (to be continued, maybe?)

Netflix’s Live Action DEATH NOTE Releases Dark Teaser

Anime and manga fans of the dark classic unite. The dark live-action adaptation of Tsugumi Ohba’s beloved manga, Death Note is almost here.

The first official teaser trailer for the live action DEATH NOTE was just released hours ago by Netflix and we are freaking out! Immediately, the teaser entices us with the notorious notebook falling ever so softly from the skies and into the grasp of our main character Light Turner (contrary to the manga’s ‘Light Yagami’), played by Nat Wolff. We also almost see one of the main characters in the frame, Ryuk the Shinigami, a grim reaper type creature.

In the minute long trailer, we are given just a peek at the twisted essence Netflix is conveying in its version. Margaret Qualley is seen as Mia Sutton (Misa Amane in the manga series). Almost instantly a flare of horror ensues in the teaser, and we can only hope that this live-action film adaptation of DEATH NOTE will not disappoint.

The story is set to follow the premise of the manga where Light, a brilliant high school student, discovers an eerie notebook entitled, ‘Death Note,’ which claims to kill anyone whose name is written within.

If you are a die hard fan of the manga and/or anime, you will be the toughest critic. It is sometimes difficult to portray a sinister plot from animation to live-action and time will only tell if Netflix has done the series justice. For now, we will form our opinions and anticipate together if the totally twisted badass-ery will translate to film.

Death Note started as a manga series in December 2003 and ran until 2006. An anime adaptation of the series premiered in October 2006 until June 2007. Netflix and their production studio got ahold of the rights for the live-action adaptation from Warner Bros. in April 2016.

DEATH NOTE, directed by Adam Wingard, will release to Netflix’s online streaming August 25, 2017.

Skincare Review- Clarisonic/ Neutrogena

Any hype you may have heard about Neutrogena’s new water gel moisturizer…is true! I have finally found the best moisturizer for my face that is super hydrating and literally feels like your face is drinking water. First off, I want to make it known that as far as makeup goes, the Neutrogena brand has never captivated me and just never worked out. Their skin care line is a hit or miss, in my opinion. Yea some of the moisturizers have moisturized my face, but then I get oily around noontime. So I’m going to break down my skincare routine that I’m doing lately…which includes two Neutrogena products!

Clarisonic Mia 1 Skin Cleansing System

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Clarisonic Mia 1 Cleansing System in the shade ‘Pink’

I have grown to like my Clarisonic Mia 1 Skin Cleansing System. This electric facial brush really did irritate my skin for the first few times. Every time I used it, my face would get a breakout the next morning. I did my research and found that a lot of users do get this reaction from it. It seems as though it doesn’t work for some people but then it was amazing for others… I decided to store it away until I wanted to give it another go one day. I thought maybe it was the cleanser I was using. Who knows.. I started using it again, and I do believe my skin has gotten used to the brush as it moves in circular motions. It’s now my favorite thing to use to exfoliate my entire face. It does such a great job on my t-zone area and where I have more visible pores. It grinds the dirt out! I use this brush maybe five times a week when I wash my face. I use it with my daily face cleanser and also with my clinical face cleanser which I use about once a week. I’ll go ahead and mention my clinical cleanser. I’ve done a review on it already so I will link it. It is the Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Gel Cleanser. This dark cleanser does so good at getting my make up off and even if I had used wipes to remove my make up prior, I can count on this cleanser to bring out any leftover foundation that was still lingering on my skin. Check out my review on it! Now I’ll move onto my main girl, the daily facial cleanser I use…

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Daily Gel Cleanser

This cleanser has been out for quite some time now. The only reason I bought it was because I was low on cleansers and it was on clearance at Walgreens. This cleanser from Neutrogena does a real decent job at cleaning my face out without it being too strong, as in, clinical strength. I use this cleanser daily with my Clarisonic brush. It retails between $7-$9 wherever you go. It claims to boost softness and radiance and contains white tea and vitamin e. It definitely boosts radiance because when I wash it all off and pat dry, I can see just how much brighter my skin looks. Skin is kept real smooth too. The pleasant tea scent is a plus too! It works well with sensitive skin as well. I have combination skin and it makes my face feel great. Now, after I wash my face with this cleanser, I usually apply moisturizer. If I don’t, my skin begins to feel a little tight. I always suggest you use a moisturizer even if your skin is combo to oily type. It is always good for your skin to feel naturally moisturized rather than leaving it dry after washing only to have it work double hard for the moisture and then end up leaving you oily. Moving onto what I use to set my freshly washed face…

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

downloadProbably one of the best after wash moisturizers! Five stars. This water gel consistency is whipped and you think that it’s gonna go on oily or slimey, but… it goes on so smooth and blends into the pores effortlessly. After having washed the face, applying this on is what heaven must be like. It’s the smoothest my face has ever been. And the scent is not strong at all. It retails for around $20 at most stores and it contains 1.7 oz of product. A little goes a long way with this gel. I grab a dime size amount and rub it on my fingertips and apply and smooth it all over my face. I really can’t explain enough how amazing it feels. I first tried out a sample of it and it was no question that I had to grab that full size baby! I recommend this product. I have combination skin so I was uneasy about it at first. I am always worried that moisturizers will excel the oil production or make me too dewy. I have no worries with this one at all though. Again, it feels like my face is taking a nice drink of water as far as hydration. Here is a little goodness the product lists:

  • Purified Hyaluronic Acid- Naturally found in skin, it delivers pure boost of hydration. It acts like a sponge for dry skin cells, absorbing up to 1000 times its weight in water and progressively releases water back into skin, keeping skin hydrated and supple throughout the day.
  • Olive Extract- Known for its protective, moisturizing and anti-oxidant qualities, it is a complex combination for fatty acids, which is similar to skin’s natural moisture shield. It integrates into skin barrier, forming a structure that protects skin from excessive moisture loss. It also helps leave skin feeling soft and smooth without tackiness.

There you have it. It’s fast absorbing too. This is the real deal, and that is my skincare routine! Let me know if you guys have tried any of these products! Thanks for reading!

Podcast Highlight: Spanish Obsessed

I don’t listen to podcasts very often. One time I tried teaching myself Italian by just listening to a very bland language learning podcast. The only thing that stuck with me was how to say “I speak a little bit of Italian,” in Italian. So not much of anything.

My family comes from South America. We speak Spanish. In the past ten years  I have lost a little bit of the language. I’m not 100 percent fluent, but I found a very pleasant podcast that could help me with that. You see, I only speak Spanish when I have to. That’s where I became weak. So, I wanted to brush up my Spanish. Not so much in writing, but in the dialect itself; casual talk with others in person. Spanish Obsessed looks at the language from a different perspective. Instead of feeling like you’re in 9th grade, at your desk, being taught formally by a teacher, you are actually thrown right into the language by feeling as if you are there with the podcast hosts having a chit chat.

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podcast hosts (left to right) Rob and Liz

Rob, a co-host in the podcast, was born in London. He moved to Valencia, Spain to start learning Spanish and to pursue a career in teaching English there. Long story short, he had moved in with three other Spaniard fellas who didn’t speak English. By just submersing himself fully in the language and culture, Rob was able to become reasonably fluent in Spanish! His co-host, Liz, is from Columbia and they both reside in London now, I believe.

Spanish, Latin American, and English culture and language are all discussed in the podcast. Their courses are divided into Beginner and Intermediate episodes. The Beginner episodes talk much slower and the phrases and vocab isn’t too intense, as to not intimidate the listener. For someone like me, the Intermediate courses are just perfect. They don’t talk crazy fast, but they have a natural tempo going that really lets me remember the emphasis and the way sentence structure works. Sometimes they may have a Mexican or Cuban guest, and also folks from Spain living in London, as guests on their podcast.

It’s a really fun and interesting podcast if you speak a little bit of Spanish or if you wanted to learn the language! Sometimes a second language can have an impact on your life. Read up here on how it changed Rob’s life and maybe it will inspire you! Spanish Obsessed is a great podcast to check out and it really opens your mind to a couple different Spanish customs. Let me know if you guys listen to any cool language podcasts.