Date Night Movie Review - Side Effects

Before it came out, I did a preview of the Side Effects movie, saying how "it would be interesting for me to see what story has been crafted around drug side effects and how Steven Soderbergh has directed it" and equally looking forward to seeing the performances by the actors. I am happy to report that it met up to expectations. Enjoy our interactive review...

Atala: At first, I thought it was going to be all documentarious, like Soderbergh's previous film - 'Contagion'. So I was thinking I was going to find out what the deal was with those long lists of things that could go wrong in those pharmaceutical ads aired in the US. And at first, it looked like I was right - Drugs were doing some strange things to Emily - one of the protagonists in the movie - indeed.

Myne: Same thing here. But about halfway, it took a turn towards being a different kind of movie, a whodunit.

Atala: True

Myne: At first I wasn't pleased, but that had a draw of its own. I'm also a fan of mysteries, so it still worked for me.

Atala: I will say that I'm not that much of a fan of whodunits either, because second watching isn't the same. But I really did enjoy this later suspenseful phase of the film - it was very twisty and turny. I think I still like the first part better, though. It was very sad and poignant in parts.

Myne: Yes, it was. It was interesting seeing the relationship between Emily and her husband Martin, who had just been released from jail, and how she was trying to cope with this. What did you think of the actors - Channing Tatum (who played Martin) and Rooney Mara (who played Emily) especially?

Atala: I thought that Tatum was just a stock character, But Rooney did a brilliant job.

Myne: hahaha... did Channing Tatum take off his shirt? I think he did, in one or two scenes.

Atala: I don't know. Maybe my eyes were averted then.

Myne: but yeah, no heavy lifting from him in this movie. And what of Catherine Zeta-Jones?

Atala: She did what she had to do - she played a professional psychiatrist very professionally. But the character I really liked was Jude Law's psychiatrist. liked the way his character was going to pieces midway into the film over the fallout of a professional action he had taken concerning Emily. Well showed.

Myne: Lol... yes o, I was so absorbed by his character, it was so real.

Atala: True.

Myne: At a point, I was like, "Dude, chill." And then it came to a satisfying twisty end.

Atala: yes o. good enough for a 4 from me.

Myne: I give it a 4 too, nice one.

Date Night Movie Review - Beautiful Creatures

The beginning of the year is not the best time for movies at the cinema, most of Hollywood at that period seem to be in holding positions, touring the award season circuit, waiting for the Oscars, or bringing their end-of-year blockbusters to DVD. I think you know where this is going? Atala will take it away...

Atala: So, I liked the idea - or at least, I liked what I thought was the idea. A loner comes to ultra-religious town to stay with her creepy uncle, and all kinds of talk of satanic powers start flying around. It certainly sounded like we had a 'Salem' situation on our hands.

Myne: Lol..

Atala: On to other things, I liked the way the film showed the budding friendship between Ethan - a teen whose mother is dead - and Lena - the aforementioned loner. I felt it was a genuine connection, because Ethan himself was portrayed as something of an oddball.

Myne: I agree - but I felt that some of the scenes were a bit of a stretch. It almost seemed as if he was deliberately putting himself in harm's way. I mean, who goes to a satanist's house, has a spell cast on them and then goes back the next day?

Atala: that's looooooooove, my dear

Myne: hmmm... young love eh? ok o. But it doesn't matter - it got intense along the line, which was what I wanted. There was some conflict in their relationship and resistance from those around them.

Atala: I also liked the part of the storyline where Lena had to learn to control the special powers that she had. But unfortunately, this was where the story began to fray for me - it became unnecessarily complicated with too many side plots.

Myne: I see what you mean

Atala: That's always the problem with introducing magic into a story. It can make it easy to explain anything away... too easy, in fact. The film ended up spiralling off into various directions, and even the climactic scene didn't really hold so much tension for me in the end. I also didn't really like the hollywood ending that the film opted for. I did like the costumery that Lena's family adopted, but I felt that many of the characters were seriously underused.

Myne: I completely agree with the costumes and the color and imagery employed for some scenes. The Hollywood ending was saved by some sacrifice, but yeah, it removed some points from the film for me. What about the characters? The acting was OK, I think.

Atala: I liked Ethan's character; he was portrayed as a funny guy with a quirky sense of humour.

Myne: my favorite was Emma Thompson as Serafin. She played a dual role and she nailed it.

Atala: She was good. I was surprised to see her cast in such a role, though - I'm more used to seeing her act Britisher than British roles.

Myne: Lena was OK - she could've been better.

Atala: i also liked Jeremy Irons as Lena's uncle. But apart from those characters, I don't think there were any others that stood out for me.

Myne: yeah, that's basically it. I give the movie a 3.5

Atala: I'd give it a 3.25, but we don't do quarters, so I'll round it down to 3.

Date Night Movie Review - Warm Bodies

It's been a while since our last review, and it's not because we've not seen some movies recently. We have. The thing was, I decided on a new format for the reviews, something more interactive and which required us to sit down and chat on IM. Well, we finally coordinated our chat, and the review is now ready.

Atala: 'Warm Bodies'.

Myne: I liked the premise... young zombie falls in love and becomes human.

Atala: I agree - I was suckered by the five minute trailer that I saw. It promised a lot of quirky humour.

Myne: Indeed...

Atala: But it looks like I really need to pay attention to my rule - DON'T GET SUCKERED BY TRAILERS!

Myne: Lol... and at the begining it was fresh and engaging. I wanted to know R - the protagonist of the movie - some more. What was it about this new kind of zombie? And who does he fall in love with?

Myne: What did you think of the Julie - his love interest?

Atala: Hm... I didn't feel that her backstory (and the backstory of a lot of the cast) was well fleshed out.

Myne: Right. And we later find she's a stand in for Juliet of the classic Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. This would have been OK, they it meant they did not pay attention to character backstories.

Atala: It was not just the backstory of the characters, but the plot itself. We hear that there's been some kind of apocalypse, but the story feels somewhat insubstantial. And the zombieverse was somewhat inconsistent.

Myne: That's true. But I think the writers felt they could get away with it since we kinda already knew the story. But so many holes that I was waiting to be plugged became even bigger when I realized that, and it turned me off. Also, the poor CGI of the extreme skeletal zombies - the boners - did not help.

Atala: But it wasn't all bad for me... I did like the way the film showed the growing love between R and Julie, and I also liked the positive message of change concerning some of the zombies. I think this was good enough that I was temporarily blinded to the film's holes. But ultimately, the blindness was only temporary, and looking back, I have to give this a 3.

Myne: I give it a 3 as well, just for doing something a bit new, even if it was at the core, a romantic comedy. The main actor - Nicholas Hoult - was quite good also, and the cheesy parts of the movie just got to my romantic side.

Flower Girl - A Review by Joy Isi Bewaji

Rushing to the cinema to catch Flight or Life of Pi or Silver-lining Notebook, Flower Girl happened to me. I had caught a glimpse of the activities of the movie on blogs and websites, but with the on-going burst of colour in the entertainment/fashion industry with many a red-carpet gigs, many new artistes/new singles this-and-that, it all becomes a blur in my head. So yes, I was standing at the cinema counter and I was told that Flower Girl was the only movie showing at the time. I was bored, the sun was hot, whatever it turned out to be, I was sure it’ll be better than driving in bad traffic under the sun.

Love is a desperate thing- at least that’s what I get from Michelle Bello’s Flower Girl. A sunburst Damilola Adegbite is in love with her boyfriend, Chris Attoh- a rather frosty guy with no bone of excitement in him. She on the other hand, is a ball of enthusiasm waiting to explode! A florist who spends all her time day-dreaming of her wedding day, with the help of an eccentric friend, they both wallow in the thought of when and how she (Damilola) will finally be proposed to.

The question burns her tongue, so she asks her boyfriend. Frankly, he’d rather be mowing the grass at CMS than be bothered about settling down, but he is not the kind of guy to burst a lady’s dream with harsh truths, so he explains to her that money is a key factor. Then rumours of a promotion hit her eardrums later on. Aha! Promotion suggests more money, and more money means she can finally get her boyfriend to propose! The florist cannot wait! After all these years supplying beautiful fresh flowers for weddings, hers is about to come true.

In her haste, she demands the deed be done in the most awkward of places – in a casual outing with his (Chris) boss and his wife in attendance. She (Damilola) is edgy, anxious, irritated and very disappointed when he (Chris Attoh) wouldn’t “reason” with her and just pop the damn question!

Ah well, we know how that always goes: she runs back to her friend to cry on her shoulders, she cannot concentrate at work, and cannot stop thinking about him. Ooh, let’s not forget she poured his glass of Champagne on his head – in front of his boss, but surprisingly, she’s the one who is distraught!

It seems her man is not ready to propose, and she can’t wait! So what do we do? Hmmm, let me see…we get really sad and walk through the streets until a hot dude in an SUV hits us and takes us to his home to recuperate! But he is not just any random hot dude – he is the hottest actor in town!!! (yay!)

The press is at his door trying to get the scoop on the girl that was hit by the actor’s (played by Chuks Chukwujekwu) car. From one miserable thought to another, Damilola comes up with a plan: “act like my new man so I can make my real man jealous enough to want me back!”

Cheesy, yes; but she is a tough nut and so he goes along with the plan, which includes grooming her to a point of near-perfection! Now she is as bright as a diamond. And he (Chuks) is falling for her! But it’s not that easy, there’s a bug in his life – the beautiful Eku Edewor plays the part of a spoilt cool kid who always gets what she wants- her needs include having the actor as her lover, which isn’t exactly the most pleasant thought on his mind. So love is swirling in the air (for Damilola and Chuks). First it starts with denial, of course; but you can’t keep a lascivious thought lonely for too long.

So at the end, we see a young bride-to-be (Damilola) in her wedding dress with the man she truly loves - Chris, or Chuks? I actually giggled. But no spoilers, I’m sorry. You’ll have to go watch this one for yourself.

It has proven hard to re-invent the romantic comedy wheel, so yes it is as predictable as all the Jennifer Aniston rom-com you’ve watched, but Damilola is a really sweet character- she has that glow that is just so warm; Chris Attoh is talented – very much so; Eku comes with a lot of spark; and Chuks has really nice pink lips!

I would recommend you watch Flower Girl; it is worth your Saturday evening. It is a romantic comedy, not Argo; so please do not expect it to solve all your problems! It is chic and ticklish. I’m rooting for this one!

- Joy Isi Bewaji

40 Romantic Movies For Your Valentine

Valentine’s day is practically just days away and love in the air any way we turn. We have been discussing things to do this Valentine, and one way that we both enjoy is to watch movies. While there's one we want to catch at the cinema the weekend after, we can also relax at home that evening with some oldies but goodies.

When I started thinking about romantic movies, I realised how many I'd need to go through to decide. My head seems filled with movie titles, and it's possible I've seen over a thousand! From romantic comedies to tear jerkers, Nollywood to Bollywood, Animations to Drama, Classic to Modern, I've seen them all. Okay Most of them.

Below are some I can remember right off the cuff, starting with the first two romantic movies I probably ever saw.

The Sound of Music

The King & I

Phantom of the Opera+

Moulin Rouge+


Brown Sugar

Love and Basketball

Romeo and Juliet

Love Story

Up Close and Personal

Bridget Jones Diary



Love Always

Dear John

50 First Dates

Blast From The Past

Sweet November

Legends of the Fall

Pretty woman

Sleepless in Seattle

The Last of the Mohicans

The Notebook

Lady and the Tramp*

Beauty and the Beast*

The Hunchback of Notre Dame*

The Lion King*



The Little Mermaid*


The Princess And The Frog*


Keeping faith^

Mortal inheritance^

Letters From a Stranger^

Khabhi Khushi"


Chori Chori"


+ Musical

Which ones would you add?

Date Night Movie Review - Ije (The Journey)

When it comes to deciding which Nollywood movies to watch, I can find no more excellent recommender than Myne. If she says "I'm going to look for any Nollywood movie to watch", then that's my cue to stay as far away as I can from the movie. On the other hand, if she says "There's this specific movie which I heard about that I want to watch", then I ask her to shift and make room for me beside her, because I know that it's going to be a good movie. Unfortunately for a wannabe fan like me, there are too few of the latter kind of movie.

So I was very happy when I heard that Ije, a movie that Myne had expressed a very definite interest in the past, was now available to watch. I promptly sat myself down next to her and we started watching.

The movie is about Anyanwu Opara (played by Omotola Jalade Ekeinde) who is being tried in the US for the murder of her white husband, and her sister Chioma (played by Genevieve Nnaji) who flies to the States to assist in her defence. Chioma meets a lawyer, Jalen, who agrees to defend Anyanwu, and a friendship grows between them while Jalen tries to put together a defence for Anyanwu.

I found the first half of the movie straightforward but rather slow; it seemed to me as if it would be a standard criminal case where Anyanwu would eventually be acquitted. But as events progressed, it became obvious that she had something to hide, as she was not revealing to Jalen everything that had happened in her marriage with her late husband. The pace of the movie quickened dramatically after this, and it ended in a unexpected and emotional climactic scene in court which, quite frankly, left me very moved.

One thing that felt unusual was the fact that Omotola and Genevieve were the only Nigerian actors in the main strand of the story (there were other scenes with Nigerian actors, but these were just flashbacks). Still the movie did retain a Nigerian feel, as there were occasions where Chioma was put through the airport drama of being repeatedly asked for her passport, and where she had to spell her name out for a non-Nigerian.

So I conclude that Ije was a worthwhile journey deserving of 4 stars. Now I'm hoping that I won't have to wait too long before Myne mentions that she's heard of another specific movie that's now available to watch. - Atala

Like most Nollywood movies, Ije is based on a theme, but it is better integrated into the storyline and not shoved down one's throat like some others. In Ije, two sisters must mend their relationship as well as come to terms with their past. Anya is a successful musician in Los Angeles, Chioma is a banker in Nigeria who subconciously resents her sister for abandoning her as a child to their taciturn father. Now, Anya is accused of killing her husband and producer, Michael Michino, and two other men and faces life in prison. Chioma has to put aside her petty issues in order to try and save her sister.

I really liked this production, in addition to the story, the acting, directing, and other technical components are also top-notch. It is definitely one of the best Nollywood movies I have seen, ever. And to think Chineze Anyaene was just a student when she made the movie, I look forward to even more movies from her - Myne

If you haven't watched Ije and want to, check out the movie website. It's also available as DVD and instant play on Amazon.

Date Night Movie Review - Django Unchained

I have long been a fan of Quentin Tarantino's movies, in fact, Kill Bill is one of my best movies of all time, so I know what to expect when I go to see one of them. I'm not a proponent for violence but I have to admit it feels good to see bad people killed. More than that, I love Tarantino's stories and the way he tells them - his characters, their dialogue, his camera work, the movie soundtrack, everything.

Django Unchained delivered on all these points, in addition, it presented a mirror up to what is the real history of America for us to remember and bear in mind. So while most of his movies are personal, this is both personal and political. I was totally mesmerized by the almost 3 hrs film.

Truth to tell though, I had to close my eyes at certain points in the movie because I couldn't bear to keep watching some of the deep pain and agony sprinkled through the story. This more than the violence was what I found disturbing, and several times I found myself crying. I also laughed a lot, and I can say that love it or hate it, Django Unchained will surely touch you.

I have read so many reviews that dwelt on the over use of the N-word. Personally, it did not bother me. At a certain point, I got to wondering what the fuss was about. This word seems to have too much power over everyone if you ask me. Yes, I know I am not African American, but believe me that I know my history of being black in America. I still recall reading then watching Roots, among other historical movies and books of the slave era, and over the past 7 years I have lived in two countries where racism is still alive and well.

I believe that you're only insulted when you allow it, and for me, the N-word was a word for those times and nothing more. So when it was so much in Django, it only added validity to the time period the movie was set, because really, that was how people used it back then. I was also very much engrossed by the plot and action going on before me. That said, if you are offended by the word, and have not seen the movie yet, that is something to bear in mind.

The best part of the movie for me? At the end with Django riding away into the sunset with Broomhilda his love. Classic! I give this 4 stars - Myne

I won't spend too much time on this review - suffice to say that this was one of those situations where reality fell short of expectation.

The first half of the movie, I quite enjoyed. Dr. Schulz (played by Christopher Waltz) is a slavery hating bounty hunter who takes a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) under his wing. Together, they track down criminals with a price on their head, and hatch a plan to look for Django's wife. I enjoyed the portrayal of Dr. Schulz's character - showing a sly wit and genuine compassion.

But the second half of the movie, I didn't like so much. I simply wasn't prepared for the gratuitous barrage of the n-word and the violence that I experienced. In the end, this overshadowed the story, which itself began to run out of steam. So Django Unchained just gets a 3 from me. - Atala

Side Effects Preview and $50 Giveaway

One method I use to select the movies I watch at the cinema is by paying attention to the trailers that run before the films, and that was how I saw the Side Effects preview last year. I was immediately intrigued because it was by Steven Soderbergh, one of those directors I respect, and who made the Ocean's Eleven series. I have also watched Out of Sight, Solaris, and Erin Brockovich so I know to watch out for his movies.

He also directed Contagion which we had seen the previous year. Contagion did not disappoint, with its intricate plot, the disturbing realism of the story line, and the awesome performance of the actors, and I feel Side Effects will be somehow alike. Contagion was about a disease that spread so quickly even before investigators realized where it originated from. It reminded me of AIDS, Ebola, SARS, or worse.

When the preview for Side Effects started, I took it as another romantic thriller until some of the characters began to fling pills around and then the title took on a whole new meaning.

Who else finds it disturbing that the 30-seconds pharmaceutical ad spots on TV have 70% of their time spent in listing the side effects of the drug being advertised? The tag line at the end of the preview states, "In some instances, death might occur", and that quote is usually repeated in a lot of such ads. I often wonder when I listen to all the horrible side effects why the drugs are even on the market.

It seems I'm not the only one and it would be interesting for me to see what story has been crafted around drug side effects and how Steven Soderbergh has directed it.

I am equally looking forward to seeing the performances by the actors - Jude Law, who was also in Contagion, as well as Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon tattoo) and Channing Tatum. It's been a while since Catherine Zeta-Jones was on the big screen and seeing her in the trailer reminded me of why I fell in love with her in Mark of Zorro.

Side Effects opens February 8th, 2012 and we'll surely be going to see it. For more information, check out Side Effects social media pages: Facebook and Twitter.

Who else has seen the trailer?

Answer this question to enter to win 2 nights at a New York City hotel, airfare for two to New York City from the continental United States and a $50 movie gift card: Why are you excited to see Side Effects?"

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Date Night Movie Review - Les Miserables

Right off, I'll tell you that I loved Les Miserable, so expect some gushing. I never knew much about the musical until Susan Boyle won the British Xfactor with the song. I heard it from a musical based on a 19th century book by Victor Hugo and lost much interest. After watching, I'm kicking myself. What the actors brought to the screen was amazing, Fantine's suffering, different kinds of love - given, taken, and unrequited, revolution, passionate people dying for their beliefs, the works!

Les Miserables at its core is a story of good versus evil, on a personal, individual and national scale. We get to ask ourselves, can an evil man become good? How can a good man be so hateful? At what point do we forgive? How much gray do we have between Black and White, and what is the use of walking the straight and narrow line without love?

Javert (played by Russell Crowe) could not let down his duty toward Valjean (Hugh Jackman) even though he sees as over the years the ex-criminal transforms his life. For him, an officer of the law – there is no gray, the law must be upheld by all means. A couple of times in the movie, he walks the edge of a precipice secure in uprightness. When he is forced to consider other attributes to life, it is the most difficult thing for him.

His is just one of the great performances in the movie. Hugh Jackman was also powerful and convincing, Anne Hathaway brought me to tears just over 30mins into the movie. The best voice belongs to Samantha Barks who sang Eponine of the unrequited love fame. The other actors also brought their A-game to the singing, some better than others.

In the end, the movie combines the music with the story in such an affecting manner, you are moved into their world, you feel Fantine and Eponine's pain, you hope with the revolutionaries, hear the joy of the young lovers, touch Javert's conflict, and be a part of Valjean's redemption.

My only problem with the movie? The editing at the beginning was a bit too stacatto for me, and if not for that, this would have got a 4.5 instead of 4 stars - Myne

I'm not really a musicals fan, but I think that I've progressed from a time where I thought that combining acting and singing was just plain nonsense. So I was favourably disposed to going to see Les Miserables, especially because it was a historical movie set in 19th century France (I mentioned in my 'Lincoln' review that I was a fan of this kind of film) and because Myne was very keen to see it.

So, we went, and it ended up being an enjoyable, enthralling experience. There were several stories woven together, including the compelling story of two opposites - Jean Valjean, the ex-convict who rediscovers himself due to an act of kindness, and Inspector Javert, the inflexibly moral upholder of the law who seeks to bring Valjean to justice. I found both characters intriguing, because they both had in them a mix of admirable and not-so-admirable traits, and I was fascinated to see how their contest would play out in the end.

But it wasn't just the story that I liked. The musical performances were memorable in a way that they might not have been if I had been watching a live musical, because they were delivered in the actual setting. I liked that the tunes of many of the songs were very similar to each other; this help to create a unified experience in watching the movie. At first, I didn't quite like that every single phrase was sung, but this grew on me in the end.

I was going to give Les Miserables 3.5 at the time I left the theatre, but those songs reverberating in my head have persuaded me to make it a 4. They've certainly made me see why people watch musicals again and again - Atala

Movie Reviews - Ties That Bind

Ama Abebrese is a doctor, she loves her ex-boyfriend but has broken up with him because she's had two miscarriages related to incompatibity issues with regards to making healthy babies. She's afraid that means they'll never have children together, and does not want to be barren or subject him to the same fate. She is also scared that everyone will blame her, and the burden of having or not having children would crush their love and marriage. So she pushes him away even without telling him of her losses.

Omotola Jalade is also incapable of having live babies with her husband, she either miscarries, has stillbirth or the children die as infants. We watch as she endures several humiliations and pressure from all around especially from her mother-in-law. Though he appears weak and under his mother's thumb, I like that her husband stands by her her when it really matters.

The American lecturer pines after a child she had and abandoned several years ago. Her story feels like the most sketchy of the lot, but I think it says more about the writing and the acting. In reality, it is also a rarely talked about issue of how sometimes women leave their children or have them taken away for one reason or the other, and how it haunts them.

A secondary character does have children, but has to make the difficult choice of choosing the society's view of her and her marriage over her children's health when her daughter is put in harm's way.

Leila Djansi directs these stories and actresses in a way that shows that African society still does not offer women the fairness and choices that will give them a completely fulfilled life. She does that while allowing these women their dignity and showing that we have indeed made some strides. I'll love to see more movies like this. I rate it a 4 stars - Myne

Atala - I had watched Leila Djansi's "Sinking Sands" several months ago, and I was very impressed with what I saw. So when Myne mentioned to me that her "Ties That Bind" movie was now available to watch, we both agreed that it would be a good movie to watch together.

The movie is about the lives of three women; Buki (played by Ama Abebrese, who also starred in "Sinking Sands), a young woman who, while in a strained relationship with her boyfriend, is moving to from the city to take up a post as doctor in a Ghanaian village; Adobea (played by Omotola Jalade Ekeinde), an old schoolmate of Buki who lives in the village; and Theresa, a friend of Buki who lectures in a university in the city. It explores the theme of motherhood in the three women's lives: Buki's relationship is strained because she has had a miscarriage after getting pregnant for her boyfriend, and she doubts whether she will be able to have children for him; Buki has had even more miscarriages for her husband; and Theresa is trying to get back with her daughter who she abandoned years ago.

I found the movie thought-provoking and moving in parts. For example, there is this scene with a villager who has befriended Buki. Her husband has just raped her daughter, and is about to face jungle justice from the villagers. Even though she is furious at him for what he has done, she feels that leaving him to mob justice will not make things better for her family, and the movie starkly shows the difficult decision that she has to make, and the conflict she faces. Then there is the story of Adobea, and how she has to deal with a debilitating sickness as well as antagonism and humiliation from her mother-in-law.

Having said this, I felt the movie lacked the kind of emotional intensity that I found in "Sinking Sands'; there were parts where I felt it was treading water, and other parts where it began to feel somewhat 'preachy'. I also felt that the story of Theresa's was somewhat tangential to the plot; it could have been removed, and I wouldn't really have felt the difference. But I liked that there was a positive, uplifting ending to the story, and that means that I can give it a 3.5 star rating.

In summary, Ties That Bind resonated for me because of the topic it handled with three women who are dealing with various issues of motherhood, infertility and being a woman in an African community. The story was well told, the acting very mature, and the directing nuanced.

Who else has seen the movie and what did you think of it?