Monday, November 28, 2016

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a sort-of prequel to the Harry Potter series, in that it takes place well before HP, but is itself its own story (even if you have never seen or read Harry Potter, you can still enjoy this movie).

The first of five films, Fantastic Beasts follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, who arrives in New York City only to discover that some of the creatures he had brought with him have escaped. Meanwhile, there have been some mysterious occurrences throughout the city, putting the Magical Congress of the United States of America on high alert.

Main Cast
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
Colin Farrell as Percival Graves

I went to see this film on Black Friday with a couple of friends. I had heard more good than bad about this movie beforehand (while still managing to stay away from spoilers), and since J.K. Rowling herself had written the script rather than someone else, I was rather excited. 

A bit of backstory on my wizarding world experience: I absolutely LOVE the Harry Potter series. I feel that it really helped shape me as a person, and had a huge impact on my life. I am not, however, as big a fan of the movies as I am the books. I'm not trying to sound snobbish or anything, but I honestly feel that all of the magic and wonder and feelings to be gained from the world that Rowling created can only be experienced through reading the books. While the movies are okay enough, they only show the story that the director wants to tell, they cut out a lot of key details as well as some beloved characters (Peeves!), and they aren't really open to interpretation (and don't allow for imagination) like the novels. Plus, I feel that there is a bond that forms between reader and story that cannot be experienced by film, and if you like the films but have not read the books, then I am sorry to say that you are missing out! *rant over*

So anyway, back to Fantastic Beasts.

From the very beginning of the film, I was completely enthralled. I fell in love with Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Newt Scamander almost immediately, and also started having strong feelings about wanting a Niffler. What completely threw me, however, was how much I ended up loving [Slightly spoilery, but not really? I just feel you should see this movie without expectations, so highlight to read just in case: Jacob Kowalski, a secondary, No-Maj, character. He was definitely my favorite character after Newt! I could say so much more, but in my efforts to be as spoiler-free as possible, I'll just stop there.] *end of possible spoiler*

I felt that Rowling did a fantastic job on the script, and the director and cast did an excellent job on bringing the story to life. Overall, the film was just as witty and enthralling as the HP novels were. I don't want to get into details on the characters or plot, because I feel that the best way to view this film is with as few expectations as possible, but I will say without a doubt that I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and will be buying it as soon as it's released to DVD & Blu-ray. I may actually even go back to see it in theaters again, if I get the chance to. Maybe IMAX this time? At any rate, I cannot wait for the next installment in the series. I'm so excited!

My Rating:

5/5 Stars!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hot Head by Damon Suede

Monday, November 14, 2016 with No comments

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire...

Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.

Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution:, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?

"...people should not be punished for loving and hoping and holding their hearts open."

This may be the best M/M romance that I've read so far. To be honest, the majority of M/M novels that I've read have been written by women (the only ones that weren't were geared toward a teenage audience, so there weren't any sex scenes), and I must say, it was a verydifferent experience to read an 18+ M/M novel that was actually written by a gay male author. 

The protagonists, Griff Muir and Dante Anastagio, are best friends that work together for the New York City Fire Department in Brooklyn. The story is told in third-person from Griff's point of view, and describes the struggle that Griff goes through with his overpowering attraction towards his straight best friend. Everything about this novel was hot, hot, hot! Plus, I just could not help but picture Kevin McKidd as Griff and Jon Bernthal as Dante - I don't know why (they're just the actors that popped in my head while reading the character descriptions!), but I felt they fit the roles perfectly.


I think what I liked best about this novel, however, was the fact that it touched upon the very real subject of hate crimes and assaults towards the gay community. I see a lot of m/m romances which feature characters that are afraid to come out to their friends and family for fear of their response, but not a lot of them actually touch upon the subject quite like this novel does. I also liked that this novel illustrated how gay bars aren't just places for gay men and women to hang out, or for people to find someone to hook up with or date; instead, it showed how they're actually safe havens, where LGBT+ individuals can go without fear of judgement or retaliation. This isn't really how they're depicted in the media.

Anywho, I breezed through this novel quickly, and I was a bit sad when it ended - I wanted more! According to Goodreads, there seems to be a sequel in the works, but I haven't seen any updates or anticipated release information anywhere, so it may be a while before it's released (if it's released). I'm keeping my fingers crossed, though!


The Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI) documents all relationship activity. A 'relationship score' is given to keep people accountable for their choices. The score is public for all to see, and affects various aspects of daily life. Two couples, teenagers and early 30s, face different but intersecting challenges in their relationships within the rules of the DEI.
I found this movie randomly when browsing through Netflix, and it caught my eye. I love indie romance films - especially if they take place in some type of sci-fiction-y alternate universe (TiMER, anyone?). Plus, the fact that this one featured a mostly Asian-American cast made it a certainty that I'd watch it, as I don't think I've even seen a romance movie with Asian leads that wasn't a foreign film. Every actor was fantastic!

One of the couples featured in the film
Turns out, this movie was created by Wong Fu Productions, a company that I'm actually familiar with thanks to YouTubers like KevJumba (Kevin Wu) and Nigahiga (Ryan Higa) who've worked with them on a few projects. Apparently, Everything Before Us is their first feature film, and was originally released on Vimeo after being successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo. MAN DO I LOVE THE INTERNET!!!

Anyway, this movie was fantastic, and certainly gave me a lot to think about. The story was great, and different from any movie I've seen before (a definite plus!). I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that it was very....unconventional.

My favorite character had to be Randall (played by Randall Park from Fresh Off The Boat), the DEI agent that worked on the relationship "cases" featured in the film. His character was full of dimension, and really stood out to me every time he was on screen. Of course, the entire film was well done and filled with talented actors - I'm really glad I stumbled across it. If you're looking for a romance film that has actual depth and "realness" to it, then I highly recommend this!

My Rating:

4/5 Stars!