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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Plot: Vibha (Shalini Vatsa), Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty) and Shagun (Sonal Joshi) don’t know each other, but they end up sitting in the same taxi, part of a fleet especially for women. Their cab is being driven by Shaila (Kritika Pande) who owns the taxi company. As they are stuck in traffic, the four women get to talking: about the need for a taxi service like this. About the constant threat of being raped if you’re out just a little too late. About the entitlement of men. Even on this night, they can’t get home unbothered: a man (Vinay Sharma) starts hollering at them from his moped. But this time, they strike back and soon they have the guy locked up in an abandoned building, ready to teach him what it means to be afraid all the time.
Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting, character-driven film on a feminist mission. It has a good cast and is well-told, although the ending – while thought-provoking – is a little unsatisfying. But that shouldn’t keep you from watching it: the film is well worth it.
Plot: Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and his wife Janet (Claire Foy) just lost their little daughter to cancer, prompting Neil, who also had some professional disappointments, to apply for a new program at NASA. They all move to Houston and Neil starts working on the Gemini project – the most important project in the space race between the USA and the Soviet Union. But it will take a while before Neil and Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) undertake their historic flight to the moon.
First Man is made of excellent parts that nevertheless feels underwhelming as those excellent parts don’t really make for an excellent whole – even if I can’t put my finger on why that’s the case.
Plot: Clara’s (Mackenzie Foy) mother passed away not too long ago, but her father (Matthew Macfadyen) has one last Christmas present from the her for Clara and her siblings. While her siblings’ presents are rather self-explanatory, Clara gets a golden egg that’s supposed to open, but doesn’t. Her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) is the one who made it, so Clara hopes that at his annual Christmas party, she might find more answers. Indeed, he leads her to the key, but before she can reach it, Clara finds herself transported into a completely different world – a world her mother apparently knew intimately. Clara meets the soldier Philipp (Jayden Fowora-Knight), as well as the regents of three of the four realms of that world. Quickly she is deeply involved in the politics of the four realms.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is nice, but doesn’t really come together. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and cute in an entirely unimpactful way.
Plot: Camp Crystal Meph was the scene of a horrific bloodbath by the killer Johann Van Damme (Terry mullett). But a few years later, Todd (Dave Peniuk) is ready to give it another try. His uncle Mel (Darren Andrichuk) owns the camp ground and Todd has set up a new camp concept. Together with his camp counselors Rachel (Angela Galanopoulos) and Barry (Chris Allen), they are ready to welcome their group. But soon after their arrival, people start dying – again -, murderous squirrels run wild and nobody has any clue what is actually happening
Camp Death III in 2D! is a parody of Friday the 13th Part III in 3D that has some nicely silly ideas, but unfortunately overdoes it a lot of the times. Plus, it is just so ableist that I really wanted to scream.