Tag Archives: 2010-2019

A Christmas Prince (2017 Movie)

Netflix & Motion Picture Corporation of America

My rating: 3 of 5

In the search for her first big scoop, fledgling reporter Amber Moore (and does anyone else find it hilarious that her last name is still Moore here?!) travels to the small European kingdom of Aldovia to cover the coronation of Prince Richard. Or his abdication.  The prince does have a reputation as a bit of a playboy, and nobody’s really sure if he’ll step up and fill his late father’s shoes or not. Through an unexpected mix-up, Amber finds herself mistaken for Princess Emily’s new tutor, giving her unprecedented access to the royal family up close and personal. And what she finds is not at all what the rest of the press had led her to expect.

First off, I can’t believe I actually watched this; it’s exactly the sort of Hallmark-y film that I usually avoid like the plague. . . . But Rose McIver is kind of irresistible, and moreover, she actually manages to make the movie palatable.  It is very much your expected cheesy Christmas romantic drama, with loads of improbability, predictability, and sentimentality. Even the music and the camera filters used scream “classic Christmas film”–as in old, maudlin film. Yet surprisingly, I found myself liking the characters. McIver does a great job (the one thing that’s not surprising) portraying her character, drawing out the uncertainty, clumsiness, awkward curiosity, and compassion of Amber quite effectively. Ben Lamb’s portrayal of Prince Richard is more expected but still well done, and I quite enjoyed Honor Kneafsey’s work as young Princess Emily and her growing friendship with Amber. Other than that, there’s not much I can say–I enjoyed A Christmas Prince, which is more than I can say for most films of this sort, but I also found it to be pretty typical of the sentimental Christmas movie genre on the whole, for what that’s worth.

Written by Nathan Atkins/Directed by Alex Zamm/Produced by Amy Krell/Music by Zack Ryan/Starring Rose McIver, Ben Lamb,  Honor Kneafsey, Tom Knight, Sarah Douglas, Daniel Fathers, Alice Krige, & Tahirah Sharif



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The Return of Doctor Mysterio


My rating: 4.5 of 5

NOTE: This TV special takes place following The Husbands of River Song” and immediately preceding series 10 of Doctor Who. It’s relatively spoiler-free, but you should still be sure to watch “The Husbands of River Song” first because you’ll miss half the feels of this episode if you don’t.

On Christmas Eve of 1992, the Doctor is in New York, trying to stabilize the mess he’s made of time there. That night, he encounters a young boy named Grant and accidentally gives the boy superpowers (don’t ask; it’s the Doctor) . . . and a strict command to never use those powers. Twenty-four years later, the Doctor returns to New York to investigate an alien invasion (surprise) only to encounter Grant–who is living a double life as both nanny to a small baby and local masked superhero “Ghost.” So much for never using those powers. . . .

At first, I was kind of exasperated with the writers for choosing a superhero story–I mean, that’s basically the only sort of movie that seems to be coming out right now! And honestly, I’m not the superhero movie type. But “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” is Doctor Who, and I have to admit that it brings in the best of both worlds. You’ve got all the quirkiness and geekiness of Capaldi’s Doctor (absolutely brilliant!) and the classic Who alien invasion story. Plus you’ve got a good guy trying to protect the people he loves and live up to the ideals of the old superhero comics he read as a kid . . . all the while keeping his true identity a secret from the very clever and insightful (except as it regards him) journalist that he works for. The lightness and action of the superhero plot (and the sweet, innocent romance they work in) actually do a lot to counterbalance what may otherwise have been a very dark and angsty story (if you’ve watched “The Husbands of River Song,” you know why). On the other hand, the interactions between the Doctor and the journalist, Lucy, are humorous on the surface but serve to draw out and develop the Doctor’s inner turmoil, which is neat to see. In any case, I would definitely recommend “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” to any fan of Doctor Who.

Written by Steven Moffat/Directed by Ed Bazalgette/Produced by  Peter Bennett/Music by Murray Gold/Starring Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Justin Chatwin, & Charity Wakefield


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Ouroboros (2015 TV Series)


Status: Completed, 10 episodes

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Growing up together in the orphanage of Mahoroba, Danno Tatsuya and Ryuzaki Ikuo found love, inspiration, and strength in their caregiver, Yuiko-sensei. . . . That is, until one night when she is murdered and the case is covered up by a police man wearing a gold watch. Young Tatsuya and Ikuo vow to find Yuiko’s murder and exact their own justice. Twenty years later, Tatsuya is a leader in the yakuza and Ikuo is rising through the ranks of the police, working together to ferret out any clues as to Yuiko’s killer. But will they be able to handle the truths they find?

Ouroboros is probably the best J-drama I’ve seen to date. Of course, part of that is the fact that it stars both Shun Oguri and Toma Ikuta, two of my favorite actors. They have a really great dynamic when they work together, and their part in this show was definitely a huge plus for me. But I think that even for those unfamiliar with these two, the show has a lot to offer. It’s a cops and yakuza story, with lots of interconnecting plots, tragic backstory, and a nice balance of drama and action. There are some nicely choreographed fight scenes, even. And an adorable but tragic love story (more than one, depending on how you look at it). Of course, being a J-drama, there’s a certain amount of just plain goofiness, especially at the beginning (then again, can you put Toma in a show without some goofiness?). But again, it balances out, and by the end of the show, it’s just plain heartbreaking. This is a tear-jerker, to be sure, but I think the writers did a great job of making the story fall the way it needs to, not the way you necessarily want it to. . . . It feels like hitsuzen when you get down to it, I guess. Also just have to mention that the character development is remarkably well done–especially for this sort of show–and even the relatively minor characters are interesting. And one last point of note: the casting for the childhood versions of Tatsuya and Ikuo are fabulous. So often, kids seem just picked at random, but the kids chosen for the roles here are perfect, both in appearance and in how they act. Ouroboros is high on my list of recommendations, both for those who enjoy J-dramas and for those who like detective stories in general.

Note: At this point, I don’t know of an official English version of this show, but there are some quite decent fan-subs available.

Based on the manga by Kanzaki Yuya/Directed by Yasuharu Ishii/Music by Kimura Hideakira/Starring Toma Ikuta, Shun Oguri, & Juri Ueno


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2015 Goodreads Challenge & Other Year-End Wrap-Up

So it’s been kind of a crazy year for me, both in my personal life and (flowing from that) in this blog. Many apologies for the super-sporadic posting schedule, and also many, many thanks to all of you who have been so supportive in spite of all that. Because of you, it’s been a fun year even with all the craziness. 😀

2015 is the first year that I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and while it was fun, I don’t think it altered my reading habits much. Or rather, I set my goal back in the spring when I had a lot of time to read, then later in the year when I didn’t have as much time, I got really, really behind. Out of my goal of 180 books I managed to read 140 books or 78%. Oh well, more than numeric success, I truly enjoyed what I read this year. I definitely plan to participate in the challenge again in 2016; I’ll just have to set more realistic goals.

I’m looking forward to chatting with you all in 2016. Hope you have a great New Year!


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Author: Rainbow Rowell

If you found a magic phone that would call the past, would you use it to try to correct the mistakes you made back then? Surprisingly, TV comedy writer and mom Georgie McCool finds herself faced with just that question. Just as she and her husband Neal are packing up to take their two little girls, Alice and Noomi, to visit their grandparents in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie gets the breakthrough opportunity of a lifetime that she’s been waiting for, well, forever . . . only, she’ll have to stay in California over Christmas to make it happen. Neal leaves angry, taking the girls to Omaha; Georgie stays in California to work on their new show with her (male) BFF Seth. Or at least, she would be working if she weren’t so torn up over everything, especially Neal. So when she’s crashing at her mom’s place and none of the cell phones seem to be getting through to Omaha, Georgie tries plugging in her old landline phone . . . and quickly finds that she’s getting through, not to the Omaha of today, but to the Omaha of that Christmas years ago, right before Neal proposed to her. . . .

Rainbow Rowell’s books are always a treat, and Landline was no exception. The plot is both original and contemporary, yet at the same time, universal and timeless. And of course, the characters are priceless–authentic, real, almost tangible. It’s great that none of the characters in this story are at all like me, yet through Rowell’s writing, I can get into their heads a bit, understand who they are and why they made the choices they did. Not that I necessarily approve of all their choices (I can’t ever think that choosing career or dreams over family is a wise choice), but I can at least understand. The blend of romance, family, humor, drama, and geeky reference is nicely balanced throughout so the story never gets bogged down. The one thing that threw me when reading Landline was the Twilight Zone element–that’s not shown up in anything of Rowell’s that I’ve read before–but it worked with the story, so that’s okay. I really would recommend Landline for just about anyone looking for a fun, funny, sweet yet complicated adult romance . . . just be aware that it’s an adult story (18+, please).

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