Film Review: Invisible Sister (2015, dir. Paul Hoen)


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I really should have watched something else that featured invisibility before I watched Invisible Sister. It felt weird that I went from the late night cable movie Invisible Centerfolds (2015) to this Disney Channel movie. Oh, well.

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The movie begins when we meet Cleo (Rowan Blanchard). She proceeds to give us a little sob story about how she feels invisible, especially next to her popular sister. I’m sorry, but I can’t possibly be the only one who had a thing for the 90s indie girls who listened to Green Day. She is that girl except a modern incarnation that listens to The Hives instead. Luckily, the movie knows we exist and very quickly calls the character on her BS when a guy comes up to her, tries to ask her out, and gets rudely brushed off.

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Apparently, nice blonde boys who take notice of her are her main offender. He won’t be off to find another girl, but will come back later when he’s needed the most.

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She is friends with George played by Karan Brar. I can handle Karan without his accent, but it’s not the same without his character having a giant lizard for a pet. In case we didn’t know she was smart because her sister is popular and she hangs out with the nerdy kid from Jessie, then her teacher reminds us by giving her a tough assignment.

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Thankfully, despite the speech at the beginning, she’s science smart. I don’t think I could have handled Cleo if she spent the film engaged in the dead quote olympics. The details don’t matter. All you need to know is it involves a moth, and her sister soon drinks it from a glass of water.

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Now her sister doesn’t just have a see through head, but her body is entirely invisible. In order to make sure the sister remains invisible, the writers made it so that anything she attempts to cloak herself in soon becomes invisible as well. Think this movie is really about the sister being literally invisible? You got it all… wrong. This movie is a body swap comedy minus the literal swap, and makes one of them a ghost following along. This is an important time in the life of the newly invisible sister so she hatches a diabolic scheme.

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Her sister will go in her Halloween costume with a mask. This movie takes place in Louisiana, so she’s Mardi Gras Dorothy! Of course we all know where this is gonna lead.

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That’s right! All the pep girls give each other a massage. Oh, I can always count on you Disney! Whether it’s the pillow fight between Debby Ryan and Maia Mitchell while Cameron Boyce watches on Jessie, then it’s Ben Savage telling one girl to stop eating the other on Girl Meets World. Really, why did they think this was a good idea to put in the movie?

Since Cleo didn’t really know how much her sister did, she now finds out that she has a bigger hole to fill than she thought because there’s a lacrosse game she needs to play in. Luckily, this is where that whole invisible thing does really come into play.

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It comes in handy when the opposing team suddenly gets knocked off their feet into the air. This is one of two times where the invisible sister appears to have acquired super strength by being invisible.

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As you can see invisible sis isn’t happy. I mean she’s invisible. Now the movie gets to the fixing her part. This is when the film drives home that this really is a body swap comedy in disguise. While they try to get the right ingredients to make an antidote for what made her invisible in the first place, the sisters share some tender moments. The literal invisibility is just to teach the two about the metaphorical invisibility they had of each other and themselves that only existed because they let it. I’m forgetting something…oh, yeah! The boys!

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Turns out the nice blonde boy is also really smart and helps Cleo to make her sister visible again. Also, he thought that if she was going dressed as a bear to the “Romp the Swamp” party, then he would go as honey. There’s an inappropriate joke in that somewhere.

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And this is the boy for the invisible sister. He’s kind of the missing link, but seems to be a really nice guy even when it came to the prospect of dating an invisible girl.

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The ending is a little much given that the sisters already had their tender moments. It’s a voiceover narration speech to end the film that feels unnecessary.

Well all right! I got in 10 song titles by The Hives into the review. That’s good enough for me, and this is certainly one of the better Disney Channel Original Movies I’ve seen. I enjoyed Rowan Blanchard and Paris Berelc as sisters. If you like these movies, then this is one of the good ones in my opinion.

Film Review: The Lovers (dir by Roland Joffe)


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The Lovers played in theaters earlier this year but don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it.  I hadn’t heard of it until I came across it on Showtime.  The Lovers — much like Veronika Decides To Die — is one of those films that spent a while sitting on the shelf until it was almost grudgingly granted an extremely limited theatrical run.  With little publicity and no critical support, The Lovers came and went and now it’s been relegated to cable and Netflix.

And watching The Lovers last night, I could see why some studios might be hesitant about it.  The Lovers is an amazingly messy film, one that seems to randomly careen from tone to tone.  Sometimes, it’s a romance.  Sometimes, it’s an adventure film.  Sometimes, it’s an attack on colonialism disguised as a history lesson.  And then, occasionally, it’s even a science fiction film.  It’s perhaps the messiest mishmash of themes since Cloud Atlas and that’s saying something!

And yet, despite all that, I still liked The Lovers.  In many ways, I enjoyed the film despite some of my better instincts.  I’m still not sure what the Hell’s going on in 50% of the film and don’t even get me started on trying to explain how the film’s multiple story lines are supposed to be connected.  There’s so much that I could criticize about this film and yet, when it was over, I was not at all unhappy about having taken the time to watch it.

The story … well, it’s a little bit hard to explain.  The film begins with a God-like being forging twin rings.  We then jump forward a few centuries, to the year 2020.  Two marine archeologists, Jay (Josh Hartnett) and his wife, Laura (Tasmin Egerton), are exploring the sunken wreck of a colonial British ship.  In the wreckage, they comes across the two rings.  They mention that someone named “D.E.” drowned while clutching onto the rings.  When Laura gets trapped under some debris, Jay rescues her but ends up brain dead as a result.  In a generically futuristic hospital, Laura has to decide whether to use machines to keep Jay alive or to let him go.

However, we don’t see much of Laura and Jay in that hospital.  This is because, after Jay goes into his coma, the film’s other storyline starts up.  Suddenly, we’re in India.  The year is 1778 and Josh Hartnett is playing a Scottish captain in the British East India Company.  When we first see Hartnett, we naturally assume that he’s playing the mysterious “D.E.” but instead, we learn that this character is named James Stewart.

(It’s not much of a spoiler to let you know right now that we never learn exactly who D.E. was or why he or she drowned with the rings.)

At first, I assumed that Jay was dreaming about being James and that the India storyline was meant to run parallel to the 2020 storyline.  That, however, quickly turned out to not be the case.  My next guess was that James was meant to be Jay in a past life and I still think that’s a possibility.  But the fact of the matter is that the film itself never makes clear how James and Jay are related or even why we’re seeing both of their stories.  In general, I like films that are willing to be ambiguous but The Lovers took it a bit too far.

James is assigned to escort an Indian princess to the capital city.  Along the way, James has to protect her from both rebels and assassins.  He also falls in love with one of the queen’s warriors, the beautiful Tulaja Naik (Bipasha Basu).

It’s the scenes set in India that make The Lovers worth watching.  Full of opulent palaces, gorgeous costumes, fierce battles, and sexy chemistry between Josh Hartnett and Bipasha Basu, these scenes are a visual feast.  Even if they don’t always make much sense, they’re fun to watch.  When The Lovers concentrates on India, it’s the epitome of an enjoyably over-the-top romantic melodrama.  It’s only when the film leaves India for the near future or those Godly ring forgers that its inherent messiness becomes a problem.

In the end, The Lovers is not as bad as you might think.  Just enjoy it as a visual treat and don’t worry about making sense of it all.

 

Let’s Get Back On Track With The Trailer For Anomalisa!


You know what?  Over the past day and a half, I have spent way too much time dealing with the trolls who were apparently offended by my brilliant review of The Leisure Class.

The fact of the matter is that there are other things about which to be excited!  For instance, check out this trailer for Charlie Kaufman’s stop motion film, Anomalisa!  This film is coming out on December 30th and a lot of people are really excited about it.

Watch the trailer.

Are you excited?

(As for me, I’m just excited to see that my name is a part of the title…)

Hallmark Review: The Christmas Choir (2008, dir. Peter Svatek)


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There isn’t a whole lot to talk about with this one. And that’s a good thing. This isn’t another Hallmark romance, and they kept it simple. Basically, take the choir portions of Sister Act (1992) and merge it with the full employment speech from Dave (1993). The speech where he says, “it’s not about the paycheck. It’s about respect. It’s about looking in the mirror, and knowing you’ve done something valuable with your day.”

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That’s Peter Brockman (Jason Gedrick) who has just been reminded by his secretary that he’s supposed to go see his girlfriend Jill (Cindy Sampson). Jill promptly breaks up with him cause he’s basically just too busy and living in a work bubble. This leads him to a bar where he meets a man named Bob (Tyrone Benskin).

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He follows Bob back to where he lives, which happens to be a homeless shelter run by Sister Agatha (Rhea Perlman). Of course she gives him a little speech, and in short order Peter decides to do something to help. He wants to round up the guys into a choir in order to give them something to do that can also earn them some extra money.

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That’s it! There’s a couple little subplots involving a woman at the subway and Peter’s father, but they really don’t matter. What you are getting here is a nice a little story about a guy who in the process of trying to help some others, also helps himself. The only thing I thought was an actual problem was the minor wrench they throw into things at the last minute. It’s like including a birth narrative because you don’t think the audience will accept the story without it being pre-ordained. Here it’s people will feel let down if it doesn’t end on a super high note.

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Nothing to seek out, but it’s a perfectly fine little Hallmark Christmas movie.