Tag Archives: Romantic Comedy

East Side Sushi (Film) Review

As a die-hard fan of grittier movies, it is sometimes nice just to tune into something gentle and pure. This movie is a marvel in its simple plodding but also evil because now I can’t stop thinking about crispy salmon skin and california rolls.

*Spoilers*

East Side Sushi (2014)

IMDB Synopsis

Single mom Juana can slice and dice anything with great speed and precision. After working at a fruit-vending cart for years, she decides to take a job at a local Japanese restaurant. Intrigued by the food, she learns to make a multitude of sushi on her own. Eventually she attempts to become a sushi chef, but is unable to because she is the ‘wrong’ race and gender.

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My Review

Juana (Diana Elizabeth Torres) hasn’t exactly got it easy as a single mother living in Oakland, Cali. She lives with her widowed pop and daughter in modest surroundings, forever trying to make those pesky ends meet with a series of jobs that amount to little. One of those jobs is running a fruit cart which one evening gets held up at gunpoint.

Majorly fucked off and tired, not only of the injustice of being robbed but also of the shitty part-time hours she’s scrabbling around for at a gym, Juana takes a chance on a Help Wanted sign in the window of a Japanese restaurant, Osaka. Due to her extensive kitchen experience, Mexican Juana is quickly offered an interview but her pop is a little wary of his daughter taking this direction. Why would she want to work with Japanese food? And what will she bring home after her shifts?

Uh, only the best food ever invented, Dad. No biggie.

Regardless of this mild negativity, Juana gets stuck in and finds that she really takes to it like a duck to… a Japanese dish? Juana falls not only in love with the cuisine itself but with the challenge of getting really fucking good at making it. There might even be a spark between her and Aki, the head chef (Yutaka Takeuchi) who is infinitely patient and also pleasingly impressed with everything she does.

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Unfortunately, the restaurants big boss Mr. Yoshida (Roji Oyama) isn’t stoked about Juana having ideas above her station because she is Mexican but I suspect more so because she is a WOMAN. He bans her from being out front, insistent that she was hired to work the kitchen and in the kitchen she will stay, away from the actual sushi cheffing action. Even though she’s bloody good and the restaurant has started serving several of the fusion dishes she has invented.

Nothing Juana says or does will swerve Mr. Yoshida’s traditional way of thinking, even when Aki gets involved. Especially when some of his (male) customers make comments about keeping the restaurant authentic. In the end, Juana loses her cool and quits the job. She also applies to be a finalist on reality TV show Champions of Sushi. Can you see where this is going?

Will our determined young sushi ingénue win the competition and therefore get offered her rightful place behind the sushi bar at Osaka or what? Will she flip one sticky rice covered middle finger up at the patriarchy at the same time?

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My Thoughts

Although this movie might not set your world alight, it is a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon and if I’m honest, there was something really satisfying about it. It would definitely fit well into Feminist February because Juana is a dreamy character with an impressive work ethic and a thirst for learning who takes on the stuffy ideals of her boss head on. She doesn’t quit and isn’t afraid to follow her dreams and I frankly loved her for it.

An aside but this film in its themes reminded me a little bit of The Ramen Girl. In it, an American girl (Brittany Murphy) gets stranded in Tokyo and ends up training to be a râmen chef. It’s lovely and I recommend that too. 

Juana is played by the beautiful Diana Elizabeth Torres who brings such a warmth to her character, and although there are no bodices being ripped or sexy times going down in the kitchen, there’s something good and genuine about the chemistry she shares with Aki. You root for them to get it on but it’s all implied and I liked that too. Juana’s true love is being a sushi chef and everything else is secondary.

I did find myself a little bit annoyed by her stubborn father at times but his reluctance to embrace a new culture did lead to the concept of tailoring traditional Japanese dishes to his very Mexican tastes and thus was the secret to Juana’s success.

Good pick, Jill.

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My Rating

3.5/5. I’m starving. 

What did Jillian think of this one? Would she order it up by the plate load or sack it on the spot? Find out here.

The Way He Looks (Film) Review

Foreign cinema again but this time with a LGBT vibe, which I think might be the direction our next films will be taking.

Netflix has quite a few interesting offerings in this genre so who knows, the world is our oyster! This film is Brazilian with subtitles in Portuguese – Jillian’s pick.

*Beware spoilers*

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The Way He Looks (2014)

Director: Daniel Ribeiro
Stars: Ghilerme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim

IMDB Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel.

My Review: 

Leo is blind. He’s also a hot-blooded teenager who fantasises about his first kiss, which he wants to be perfect (e.g. not with the school slut). Except he doesn’t believe anyone will ever want to pash on with him (oh honey, just you wait!). His best friend Giovana is a tad protective (maybe a little into him too) which earns her the nickname ‘human walking stick’ from the school bullies which, I feel, needs some work.

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*insert witty caption here* ‘cos I’ve got writer’s block

Every day she walks out of her way to see him to his gate, because that’s what good BFFs do. Leo takes this in good spirit but is less patient with his parents who are more than a little anxious every time he goes out, comes home to an empty apartment or breathes.

Leo also gets the piss ripped out of him by the obligatory school fuck heads, who mock his loud braille typewriter and imply that he’s gay. Pretty standard bully stuff really, but the kid’s blind, man. There has to be a special section in hell cordoned off for douche bags like Fabio (Pedro Carvalho) who, incidentally is the most irritating character in cinematic history; and not even a very good bully at that.

But back to Leo. One day, on the day he’s having to deal with stupid Fabio, in rocks Gabriel who takes the seat behind him. Before long, Giovana, Leo and Gabriel are thick as thieves, happily hanging out as a threesome but not in that way, obvs – this is a coming-of-age flick not a porno.

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“And again… Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye (say goodbye)…”

While the new friends bond, Leo floats the idea of going abroad with a foreign exchange programme. Even before Gab arrives, Leo has convinced himself that he wants out, to live somewhere alone and gain a bit of independence away from his overbearing family. The Exchange Programme woman is helpful but tells Leo he has to get his parent’s consent plus as a blind person, needs to find a family who’s down with that too. Not that he’s mentioned it to anyone besides Giovana, mind – right now it’s just a thought.

“What do you use to make your hair so curly (I mean not that I can see it)…?”

When the boys are paired together on a school project on Sparta (just watch 300 (2006), yo!), they start to become closer and Giovana feels excluded. More than that, she feels like she’s been completely abandoned. One day when they fail to wait for her after class, she goes mental and refuses to speak to either of them.

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Trapped in a glass case of emotion

This only pushes our Romeos closer together. Leo starts to get feelings for Gabriel but doesn’t really know what to do with them. Well, I mean he knows what they mean, but doesn’t push the fact with Gabriel until one night at a party, Gabriel unexpectedly gives Leo his first kiss. N’aw.

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I’ve kissed way worse, don’t worry, Leo

This is after Fabio and his crew have tried to play a cruel trick on Leo whilst playing spin the bottle, which is thankfully twarted by Giovana. This leads to another row, but Giovana doesn’t tell Leo what they’d been planning to save his feelings. (See, good BFF!).

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“Course I’m not going to draw a giant cock and balls on your back later…”

After the party, Gabriel tells Leo he was super drunk and remembers nothing, apart from having a row with Giovana (who also kissed him but he declined). Later, on a school trip, it becomes clear to us (but not Leo), that Gabriel is having sexy feelings too, though he doesn’t say anything, just looks angsty.

For the rest of the trip, gossip is rife about Gabriel and the school ho-bag, Katrina (Isabela Guasco), who’s a bundle of fun frankly (and unfairly labelled, I think. There’ll be no slut-shaming in this review). It seems apparent, from all ‘the signs’ that they’ll be getting it on later that evening.

Giovana and Leo make up thankfully, and Leo takes the opportunity whilst they’re alone and drinking to confess that he thinks he’s in love with Gabriel. Giovana does not react well and stomps off, though a few days later comes back and apologises, saying that she thinks they’d make a cute couple and that she just needed to get her head around the idea of him being a great big gay (to paraphrase).

Later, Gabriel and Leo are alone and they talk about the kiss and then… lalalala I’m not telling you! 

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You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

To the questions section… Will our heroes admit their true feelings to one another? Will Giovana ever get over her jealousy? Will she meet her own special prince? Will Fabio just fuck off already, please?

Will Leo’s parents ever let him go abroad on his own? And will he still want to?

How fit is Leo’s dad? And finally, ain’t love just grand? (Especially young, innocent, boy love?)

My Thoughts: 

Meh. While this is a sweet film, I found it all a little bit after school special. I mean, I like the91yaVuqQJuL._SL1500_ characters and all, I like the angst but there just wasn’t enough oomph for my taste. God, has Wetlands ruined me for nice, gentle and romantic films now? I sure hope not.

There is an innocence about The Way He Looks that’s refreshing but it needed an extra push to take it from okay to great. I’m not sure what my suggestion would be. Just a bit more attitude I think; some sass.

That said, Ghilherme Lobo is really good as Leo. I’m pretty sure from the half-arsed research I did for one minute that he isn’t blind irl, which makes him a bloody acting genius in my eyes, as he was very convincing.

The theme of independence that runs throughout it is also quite a touching one. How frustrating it must be to want freedom so badly but have all control held just out of your reach. This is something I remember from being a teenager, but the added challenge of being blind must amplify the resentment.

Leo’s parents mean well and they’re nice, loving people who care. Leo’s grandma is also a big part of his life (even though I’ve failed to mention her until now) and she’s pretty cool too. When Gabriel picks Leo up to go and work on their assignment, she just knows, you know?

There are some really nice moments, some light comedy and all in all, it’s perfectly fine. Not something that will stick with me, even given the final scenes, which are very, very adorable.

My Rating: 3/5 – *shrug*

What does my partner in crime, Jillian make of this little number? Find out here soon!

In a World… (Film) Review

in_a_world_xlgThis week we were going to go for a Nicholas Sparks adaptation to guarantee maximum schmaltz and romance with a capital ‘R’. Because both our forays into the Romance genre so far have proven very telling about the human beings that we are, e.g. more into the anti-romance.

That’s until Netflix, the bastard (I love you!), decided to axe The Last Song without so much as a I-don’t-know-what, maybe a call or something wouldn’t have gone amiss? I mean, I was looking forward to enjoying the chemistry between Miley Cyrus and her once real-life beau, the younger Hemsworth brother. But no. Not to be, much like the doomed love affair between these annoyingly attractive young ‘uns. So no The Last Song for us.

Instead I used this opportunity to pick a film from my Netflix queue and one that has come up several times over the last few weeks. I’ll talk about it in a wee bit but first, the review.

You know the drill: *It’s a spoiler MINEFIELD*

In a World… (2013)

Director: Lake Bell
Stars: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Michaela Watkins

IMDB Synopsis: An underachieving voice coach finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father and his protégé.

My Review:

Lake Bell wrote, directed and stars in this film, about a voice coach called Carol who wants in on the male dominated world of voiceovers. Following the death of the ‘Godfather of Industry’, Don LaFontaine (real person), there are a few big hitters waiting in the wings to take over, including Sam Sotto (Carol’s father) who’s kind of a BIG DEAL himself and his protégé, Gustav Warner (Burning Love‘s, Ken Marino).

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“… and I-eeee-iiiiiiiii will always love you-eeeee-ooooooooooooooo!”

The biggest gig in voiceover land is, of course, the LaFontaine coined phrase, “In a World…”. That’s like the great white whale of jobs basically. One day, on an assignment to help turn Eva Longoria into a convincing cockney slag (“Is that what you think, you stupid slapper?”), Carol steps in for Gustav on a temp trailer for a ‘romantic comedy for children’ (he has a throat thing see). She, of course, nails the job. Then she gets some other good gigs following that, despite the lack of support from her father, who thinks Carol should stick to accents as the industry “does not crave a female voice.”. Her specialty? Her Russian Star Wars thing.

“I just really, really like these dungarees…”

Not knowing who Carol is (especially as she doesn’t share Sam Sotto’s stage name), Gustav pursues her romantically, and then harder when he learns that she’s stealing jobs from underneath him. Sam is his partner in crime, not knowing that the graphic details of Gustav’s night of passion with this woman is with his own daughter.

“Got Milk? I have… hahahahha.”

Meanwhile, Louis (Demetri Martin), the studio engineer where Carol is working with Eva, gently and awkwardly woos her too (and let me tell you, he is ADORABLE). Throw in a couple of sub-storylines, including a would-be affair between Carol’s sister, Dani and a hot Irish guest at the hotel she works at; and troubles with their father, Sam and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Jamie (Alexandra Holden); plus some hilarious minor characters, and you’ve got a pretty good film, thankyouverymuch.

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It’s all fun and games until a pink flamingo gets hurt…

Will girl power prevail in the end and see Carol snatching the “In a World…” gig from Sam and Gustav, despite the fact she’s a fucking WOMAN? Will she fall for the right guy? and where can I actually see this Amazonian quadrilogy starring Cameron Diaz? I mean, it’s basically Mad Max: Fury Road Redux but I would be all over it like creeping ivy, man.

You can see for yourself because this movie is out there for the taking.

My Thoughts:

I liked this movie a lot because, after horror, these are exactly the kinds of movies I crave. I bloody love a quirky, Indie comedy and I like it even better when they give me a protagonist I can actually imagine talking about cocks with. In short, she’s likeable and almost like a real person, and that my friends, is a very good thing.

There isn’t much I don’t like about In a World…, it gave me laughs and it also gave me a couple of lump in the throat moments, particularly when Jamie the Bimbo Trophy Wife proves she’s much more when she bollocks her jealous boyfriend and tells his to go and be a good father, or else. There may have been real tears when he dedicates his Lifetime Achievement Award to his daughters too. But that’s just me: a sucker for a daddy moment.

I did wonder why the hell two men were in the running for a voiceover for a quadrilogy about Amazonian women though. It genuinely makes no sense to me from a marketing POV to use a male voice. And since they wanted Carol for this very reason in the first place, to ‘inspire’ the millions of girls who would flock to see it, I do not understand why they suddenly get excited about Sam Sotto, when he decides to compete for the job too. Just me?

“MMmmmmmmmmm bop doop be doop be doop doop la la la la…”

All in all I am enamoured with Lake Bell. I think her romance with Louis is adorable and she utters to him possibly the greatest line in movie history after a night singing Ice T at the karaoke: (to paraphrase) “Have you got any of those sleeping pills? It’s going to be really hard to fall asleep after you kiss me”.

AW YEAH.

My Rating:

4/5 – a nice film, with some funny bits. I want LB’s wardrobe please (5/5 for that).

And…

One day I’ll complete a podcast without a siren interrupting me, I swear. Special snaps to www.bensound.com for my cheeky intro music.

Also, if you want to know more about mumblecore movies, as mentioned in my podcast, this explains it better than I do.

Check out what Jillian thought here.