Irreplaceable You (2018)

Irreplaceable You
Director: Stephanie Laing
Writer: Bess Wohl
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Christopher Walken, Brian Tyree Henry, Steve Coogan, Kate McKinnon, Jacki Weaver, Timothy Simons, Merritt Wever
Seen on: 24.3.2020

Content Note: cancer (death)

Plot:
Sam (Michiel Huisman) and Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have been a couple since they were children and now that Abbie is pregnant, its time to get married. But when Abbie’s pregnancy turns out to be cancer and not a baby, their life is turned upside down. As Abbie has to confront the very real possibility that she will die, all she wants is to make sure that Sam will be okay after her death.

Irreplaceable You is just the right thing if you want to look at beautiful people while having a good cry. It certainly made me bawl, in a nice, cathartic way.

The film poster showing Sam (Michiel Huisman) piggybacking Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
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This Changes Everything (2018)

This Changes Everything
Director: Tom Donahue
Seen on: 15.3.2020

“Plot”:
The documentary looks at gender imbalance and discrimination in the film industry, especially the huge shift in awareness that has occurred in recent years over how the representation of women and also people of color in front and behind the camera is seriously wonky.

This Changes Everything is a good primer for people for people who haven’t yet really thought about the issues it touches on. It gives a good overview for the situation in Hollywood and while it may be a little too optimistic in the end, this is actually pretty nice.

The film poster showing a film role that is extended into a venus sign.
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Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
Director: Ian Samuels
Writer: Lindsey Beer
Cast: Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, RJ Cyler, Noah Centineo, Loretta Devine, Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck, Mary Pat Gleason
Seen on: 9.2.2020

Content Note: ableism, transmisia, sexualized violence

Plot:
Sierra (Shannon Purser) is far from a popular girl. Not like Veronica (Kristine Froseth) who hates Sierra and has boys flocking to her. Boys like Jamey (Noah Centineo) who gets up his courage to ask for her number. But Veronica isn’t interested in someone she sees as a loser – and instead gives Jamey Sierra’s phone number. Jamey and Sierra start texting and get along great, but Sierra doesn’t dare tell Jamey who she really is – and isn’t. But Veronica, too, has boy trouble: she really wants to impress the college guy she dates with her knowledge – and for that, she needs Sierra’s help.

When Sierra Burgess came out, I remember there being a lot of criticism of it, but that memory had – unfortunately – faded to a point where I thought, I’d give the film a chance. I shouldn’t have. The criticism was right, this film is a very hot mess.

The film poster showing the four main characters of the film.

[SPOILERS]

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Been So Long (2018)

Been So Long
Director: Tinge Krishnan
Writer: Che Walker
Cast: Michaela Coel, Mya Lewis, Arinzé Kene, George MacKay, Jo Martin, Ronke Adekoluejo, Joe Dempsie, Rakie Ayola, Luke Norris
Seen on: 2.2.2020

Plot:
Simone (Michaela Coel) has devoted her life to her daughter Mandy (Mya Lewis) – sacrificing her social life pretty much entirely for her. Her best friend Yvonne (Ronke Adekoluejo) does drag her out every once in a while though and on one of those nights, Simone meets Raymond (Arinzé Kene). He is charming and they hit it off, but he was also just released from prison and still wears an ankle monitor. Now Raymond has to figure out his life in general and Simone has to decide whether she has space for him in hers.

Been So Long is a musical with an interesting central couple and less interesting music. It was nice while it lasted, but I probably won’t remember it for a long time.

The film poster showing Simone (Michaela Coel) and Raymond (Arinzé Kene) leaning in for a kiss.
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Candy Jar (2018)

Candy Jar
Director: Ben Shelton
Writer: Chad Klitzman
Cast: Jacob Latimore, Sami Gayle, Tom Bergeron, Helen Hunt, Paul Tigue, Austin Flynn, Blake Flynn, Christina Hendricks, Uzo Aduba
Seen on: 4.1.2020

Plot:
Bennett (Jacob Latimore) and Lona (Sami Gayle) are constantly in competition with each other in school and on the debate team, as are their mothers Amy (Christina Hendricks) and Julia (Uzo Aduba) who couldn’t be more different. But when they run into trouble with their individual debates, the only way they can bolster their resumés for college is by teaming up. So, reluctantly and begrudgingly, they decide to go for cooperation instead of competition. Surprisingly, this works much better than either of them expected.

Candy Jar is a nice high school romance that manages to get a little off the beaten path – though it doesn’t stray too far. I enjoyed watching it.

The film poster showing Bennett (Jacob Latimore) and Lona (Sami Gayle) looking at each other in front of a blackboard and a lectern.
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Step Sisters (2018)

Step Sisters
Director: Charles Stone III
Writer: Chuck Hayward
Cast: Megalyn Echikunwoke, Eden Sher, Lyndon Smith, Gage Golightly, Alessandra Torresani, Nia Jervier, Marque Richardson, Naturi Naughton, Matt McGorry, Sheryl Lee Ralph, L. Warren Young, Robert Curtis Brown
Seen on: 3.1.2020

Plot:
Jamilah (Megalyn Echikunwoke) has her life completely figured out: she’s president of her sorority, leads her sorority’s step dance group, she gets excellent grades, she has a devoted boyfriend (Matt McGorry) and she knows exactly where to go next: Harvard Law. But her plans are being threatened by another sorority’s embarrassing misbehavior. The school fears for its reputation and tasks Jamilah with getting the white girls of Sigma Beta Beta back on track by turning them into step dancers and winning the next contest. Despite her misgivings about bringing that black tradition to a bunch of white girls, Jamilah sees no way out but to do as asked – but that proves more difficult than initially thought.

Step Sisters was fun enough with a few good things, but I was also a little weirded out by the way they handled race in it. Since race is at the front and center of the film, that’s not a small thing.

The film poster showing two pair of boots, one black, one pink.
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A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018)

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
Director: John Schultz
Writer: Karen Schaler, Nate Atkins
Sequel to: A Christmas Prince
Cast: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Sarah Douglas, Theo Devaney, John Guerrasio, Tahirah Sharif, Joel McVeagh, Tom Knight, Richard Ashton, Raj Bajaj, Simon Dutton, Katarina Cas
Seen on: 28.12.2019

Plot:
It’s been a year that Amber (Rose McIver) and Richard (Ben Lamb) got together and Richard ascended to the throne. Now they are planning their wedding. Or rather, everyone is planning their wedding for them, with Amber having a very hard time to have her wishes respected, or heard at all. Maybe her discomfort means that she shouldn’t become a queen in the first place? Richard is also not much help as he is preoccupied with the failing finances of his kingdom that run counter to all of his modernization intiatives.

I honestly can’t really tell you why I even watched A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, given that the first one wasn’t a particularly great experience for me. The Royal Wedding was even worse – and I still couldn’t pry myself away from the screen or stop myself from watching the sequel.

The film poster showing Amber (Rose McIver) and Richard (Ben Lamb) dancing.
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Christmas with a View (2018)

Christmas with a View
Director: Justin G. Dyck
Writer: David Finley, Rebecca Lamarche
Based on: Teresa Southwick‘s novel The Maverick’s Christmas Homecoming
Cast: Kaitlyn Leeb, Scott Cavalheiro, Mark Ghanimé, Kristen Kurnik, Joseph Cannata, Jess Walton, Patrick Duffy, Vivica A. Fox
Seen on: 26.12.2019

Plot:
Clara (Kaitlyn Leeb) works as a restaurant manager in the town she grew up in and has plans for more. The restaurant she manages recently landed a big coup: celebrity chef Shane (Scott Cavalheiro) – who just one a big cooking show on TV – has agreed to come and work with them. Shane has a good reason to come to that particular town anyway. Even as they clash together at work, Shane and Clara quickly find that they have many things in common.

Christmas with a View is gave me exactly what I was looking for with a whole lot more food porn than I expected or found necessary. There are some uneven bits and a racist part, but it delivers the expected emotional satisfaction, at least to a white person like me.

The film poster showing some of the main characters of the film.
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The Holiday Calendar (2018)

The Holiday Calendar
Director: Bradley Walsh
Writer: Amyn Kaderali
Cast: Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, Ron Cephas Jones, Genelle Williams, Ali Hassan, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, Laura de Carteret, Kevin Hanchard, Romaine Waite, Jaeda Owens, Nicola Correia-Damude
Seen on: 26.12.2019

Plot:
Abby’s (Kat Graham) best friend Josh (Quincy Brown) just returned from his prolongued travels abroad – just in time for the holiday season. Abby is really happy to have him back, but other parts of her life are less great – like her job where her photographic talent is wasted on taking snaps of children on Santa’s lap. When her grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) gives Abby an antique advent calendar, it seems to be able to predict things – in particular, it predicts Abby’s sudden romance with Ty (Ethan Peck). Or is it all a coincidence?

The Holiday Calendar is one of the few Christmas movies that has people of color in the lead roles and for that alone, it’s worth opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate and watch it. But even disregarding that, it’s a very cute movie.

The film poster showing a young woman (Kat Graham) leaning on an advent calendar and a young man (Quincy Brown) standing behind her.
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Love on the Slopes (2018)

Love on the Slopes
Director: Paul Ziller
Writer: Bruce D. Johnson, Kirsten Hansen
Cast: Katrina Bowden, Thomas Beaudoin, Elysia Rotaru, Anthony Konechny, Corey Woods, Chris Shields, Tony Giroux
Seen on: 23.12.2019

Plot:
Alex (Katrina Bowden) really wants to be a travel writer, but so far her job at a magazine has only consisted of copy editing. When a contest is announced for a new writing gig, though, Alex jumps at the chance, suggesting an article on a reclusive sports photographer. Instead her boss suggests that she should write about trying out winter extreme sports instead. Used to a mostly pampered, comfortable existence with her fiancé Barton (Anthony Konechny), Alex is hesitant about that, but ultimately can’t pass up the chance. So she finds herself in Ridgeline looking for somebody who can show her the ropes (quite literally) and finds Cole (Thomas Beaudoin), the photographer she wanted to write about in the first place. As they start exploring the mountains together, they become ever closer.

Love on the Slopes is exactly what you’d expect and want it to be. There is not a single step that strays from the usual romance path, but formulaic as it may be, it’s also pretty charming.

The film poster showing a man (Thomas Beaudoin) and a woman (Katrina Bowden) standing on a snowy mountain with skis in their hands.
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