“Everything, Everything” Is the Perfect Teen Romance


If there’s one thing that you need to know about the new hit film “Everything, Everything” it’s that it will make you believe in true love again. The film features two standout young actors, Amandla Stenberg (as Maddy) and Nick Robinson (as Olly), who will simply take your breath away with their charm and sweetness.

If there were ever two young people destined to fall in love together despite impossible odds, it has to be Maddy and Olly. You will be rooting for them every step of the way. And even when you think you know how the film is going to turn out, you find their romantic charm simply irresistible. So what makes “Everything, Everything” such a perfect teen romance?

It emphasizes that love overcomes adversity

The first place to start, of course, is the back story behind the romance. Amandla Stenberg plays an 18-year-old teenager suffering from a rare disease in which she can never go outside or leave her house. Her protective mother has created a sterile, hermetically sealed home environment, in which the only other person allowed to interact with her is her personal nurse.

You can immediately see where this is going, right? When she falls in love with someone, it will be someone who can take her out of her protective zone and show her the world. And yet, if she ever leaves her house, she may succumb to her illness.

In many ways, the story of the tragically sick Maddy sets up the whole “love overcomes all” story. The only way to overcome her illness is to find someone who can help her conquer this illness. And, as we quickly find out in the film, that person is the handsome and well-meaning Olly.

When we first meet him, he’s moving into a new house next door to Maddy. He spots the beautiful Maddy from a window and comes up with a classic teenage plot – he will show up at the doorstep of the home with a bundt cake and then ask about the teenage girl living inside. Of course, Olly – like any teenager – is a bit clumsy in pulling this off, and that leads to another big reason why this is the perfect teen romance: it perfectly captures the awkward nature of any teen relationship.

It captures the reality of today’s teens and digital relationships

Since Maddy can never leave the house, the only way for her and Olly to communicate is via text messages and by staring at each other in their windows. This might seem like a contrived plot device to some, but it’s actually extraordinarily clever, because it captures the rhythm and flow of today’s teen relationships. In 2017, some teens date and break up, entirely by text message. And so this film brilliantly captures this dynamic. Only, in this case, the need to correspond solely by text message is being forced on them.

It features a charming third-party facilitator

Once Maddy and Olly are desperately in love with each other, it’s time for them to meet in real life. The key here, of course, is to get Maddy’s nurse to become part of this plot. She, too, is well-meaning and understands that the key to Maddy’s happiness is for her to meet her would-be suitor in real-life. So the first meeting finally occurs, thanks to her, in which Maddy stays on one side of the room and Olly on the other.

Every teen romance, it seems, needs this type of charming third-party facilitator. In some teen movies that take place in high school, it might be a well-meaning friend who “sets up” two people without their knowing it. Or it might involve a teacher or other mentor, who is able to recognize the first bloom of romance.


It’s the perfect “girl next door” story

There have been plenty of “girl next door” or “boy next door” romance stories, and this is literally a story of the “girl next door.” Olly is moving in next to Maddy, and their lives will never be the same again. They start by looking through windows at each other, and then follow up by talking via texts. It is only later that they are able to meet in person and explore the full nature of their romantic relationship.

A modern love story based around diversity

What will make this film such a hit for today’s teens is that it’s not the classic story of “blonde cheerleader” and “jock hero.” It’s about two normal teens who just want to fall in love together. And it needs to be pointed out here that Amandla Stenberg is the daughter of an African-American mother and a Danish father. And, in some ways, that’s exactly what this film explores: what a romantic relationship between a black girl and a white boy might look like. At one time, that might have been taboo, but not in today’s liberal, progressive America.

This, then, is a modern romance story for the post-Obama era, in which the color of your skin simply should not matter. So, unlike some films that seem to be geared to white, Hispanic or black audiences, this film has a lot of crossover appeal. It doesn’t matter your ethnicity or race, this is the perfect film for you.

The eternal themes of parental control and running away from home

If you think of most coming-of-age movies, they feature a plotline of young people dealing with authority figures in their lives, and learning how to make decisions in their own lives. And that’s where “Everything, Everything” really excels. It’s not just that Maddy must decide to take responsibility for her sickness, but also she must go up against her controlling mother. And Olly, too, must decide to just run away from everything to be with the girl he loves.

In the film, we realize that Maddy’s mother might be exaggerating the extent of her daughter’s sickness, either to keep closer control over her or to induce certain feelings in others (like pity). If you read a lot of the online reviews, they will refer to a well-documented illness called Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. This means that a caregiver exaggerates problems of those in their care in order to meet their own emotional or psychological needs.

The notion of the tragically short “happily ever after”

Where “Everything, Everything” will really pull on your heartstrings is when it forces the audience to confront the notion of the tragically short “happily ever after.” In fairytales, the “happily ever after” is usually a full lifetime. But in this film, the “happily ever after” might only be a few days, a few weeks or a few months.

As Maddy herself asks in the film, “Would you be willing to sacrifice everything to live one perfect day?” For her, that one perfect day means going to the ocean – a place that she has never seen, but has only romanticized in her imagination. And, of course, the film delivers the ocean scenes we want to see – the two young lovers cavorting in the ocean, learning to swim, kissing, and jumping off cliffs together. Is that not the very meaning of what it means to spend a perfect romantic day with someone else? Just you two together, in touch with nature, and free to explore your relationship away from prying eyes.

We’re definitely looking forward to more films from Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson after watching “Everything, Everything.” Amandla is still a relatively unknown actress – she’s been in “The Hunger Games” and “Sleepy Hollow,” but is still such a new, fresh and charming on-screen presence. Ultimately, she’s one of the main reasons why “Everything, Everything” is the perfect teen romance. She perfectly conveys what it is like to live inside a bubble, and then to have the courage to step outside that bubble to experience the world around her. If you enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s #1 bestselling YA novel of the same name, you will absolutely swoon over this movie.



Chris Pratt Shines in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is the sequel to the hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy. This franchise is very different from many other Marvel movies. It took place in space, was a sci-fi fantasy, and most importantly, the characters were not well-known. They were not household names that had a huge fan following. However, when it did hit the theaters, people had fun watching it and it went on to become a successful venture. Now, making Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 could not have been an easy task. Guardians of the Galaxy had no expectations to meet, but for its sequel, it is a completely different playing field. There was too much hype for the movie and it could not have been easy to match.

The good news for the movie is that without buckling under the pressure, it delivered the comedy. The visuals were stunning and the space battles were worth watching. The first movie made the fans fall in love with its characters, whether it is Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, and the adorable Groot and Rocket Raccoon. There are many old and new characters in this movie that will fight for your attention. But, amidst all the chaos, Chris Pratt aka Star Lord has again managed to shine. This must have been especially difficult with the super-adorable Baby Groot, the charming Rocket and the amazing Yondu in the movie.

Chris Pratt is undoubtedly an amazing actor, and more so a comedian. He has made a career acting in comedy series which makes a comedy movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, right up his alley. Even outside of the movie, Chris Pratt was the one who promoted the movie the most. He could be seen on every event and talk show just creating the hype around the movie. He got people excited to watch the movie. Why wouldn’t he? This was a movie that changed his life.

Chris Pratt had to go through his fair share of struggle before he stumbled on Hollywood success with movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, and The Lego Movie. Christopher Michael Pratt was born on June 21, 1979 to Kathleen and Daniel Pratt in Virginia, Minnesota. He comes from a French, English and Canadian ancestry. Later his family moved to Washington where he ended up on the wrestling team. He always wanted to be rich and famous. However, Chris did not make much headway in his early life which included dropping out of community college, working as a coupon salesman, and even a stripper for a brief period of time.

At the young age of 19, Chris moved to Hawaii with a friend, where he again picked up odd jobs to support his life on the beach in a van. It was while waiting tables in Hawaii that an actress/director noticed the young man. She found him to be a good fit for a horror show she was going to make in Los Angeles. This one job made him realize that he wanted to be a part of showbiz and he went around town auditioning for roles. He finally got the role of Harold Brighton Abbott on the TV series, Everwood. After four seasons, the show went off air, but Chris Pratt had already found another gig on The O.C. By this time, Chris was a well-known face, who particularly impressed the audiences with his comedy and did not really mind bearing it all. During this time, Chris Pratt was called on to read for a few iconic roles in Star Trek and Avatar, but it wasn’t meant to be. The producers turned him down on account of Chris lacking the ‘it’ factor, whatever that means. At this time, Chris started rethinking about his career. Dwelling on that time, Chris even commented, “People have to work. I just don’t want it to be at a f—ing restaurant.”.

In 2009, Chris went on to do a small role in the comedy, Parks and Recreation. Andy Dwyer, his character was not supposed to be a significant part of the story. However, the audience loved him so much that the producers offered him a regular spot. As the comedy series became more popular, Chris Pratt’s fan following increased proportionately.


It was in 2011 that Pratt auditioned for the part of Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball. However, the directors told him that he was ‘too fat’ to play the role. According to Chris Pratt, he had gained 40 pounds at the time, which he could easily blame on his girlfriend (now wife), Anna Faris’ cooking. He took up the challenge and started working out diligently and lost a total of 30 pounds, resent his pictures to the casting director and won the role. That is some determination! Moneyball did a lot of good things for his career. However, the single most important was that Chris was now not typecast to the immature and goofball character he had on Parks and Recreation. He was seen as a versatile actor who could play serious roles too. Chris Pratt was now seen by directors as a possible lead actor. This was the time when Guardian of the Galaxy came along.

The directors of Guardians of the Galaxy had been on the hunt for a movie lead, but had not found anyone who fit the bill. Chris Pratt had been approached for the role, but who couldn’t seem to shake off what the producers had told him earlier about missing the ‘it’ factor. It was during this time that Chris Pratt was asked to meet the director. He was finalized within minutes and the nude scene in the movie, well, played to his strengths. It was the break Chris Pratt needed and he became an international celebrity when the first movie released.

Chris Pratt’s performance in the first edition of the Guardians of the Galaxy was loved across the board. He already had a fan following, but then the unassuming Marvel movie graduated him to the next level of fame. He was now an international star who knew his craft well and a body to make anybody swoon. He was the complete package.

Another important factor that contributed to Chris Pratt stealing the show is the plot of the story. Guardians of the Galaxy was a movie that was all about building the entire world in which the future stories would take place. Yes, the characters were properly introduced, but mostly the movie was doing the groundwork about how sci-fi fantasy fits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With this job done, the Volume 2 focused on characters. This movie is all about who each of the member of the ‘Gaurdians’ are as people and why they gel well together. They do argue, but still stick to each other because they are pretty much the same. All in all, this is a story or character-based movie, and Star Lord or Chris Pratt is of course the glue that is holding the whole story together. Not to give away any spoilers here, but it is a lot about Star Lord meeting his father and what he tells him.

Given that Guardians was a career-defining movie for Chris Pratt and that the plot revolves around his origins, he really does not have that much screen time. However, that does not stop Chris Pratt from making his Star Lord shine. His constant arguments with the crew and his fight with Rocket are really enjoyable. His background in comedy already gives him an edge over other actors. Other than that, he is an A-lister with blockbuster movies behind him. The first movie was different. He was a lovable actor, who people knew mostly from Parks and Recreation. However, all of that has changed. He is now in the big league. He has garnered a huge fan following now. This alone is enough to make him the star in the movie. But, add his acting chops and his great looks and you cannot ignore him.

Guardian of the Galaxy Vol.2 was a movie that deliberately put Chris Pratt on the back seat to let the other characters develop. It was a bold move that is nothing less of a genius. Each of the actors in the movie did their part well and the CGI delivered too. It was a successful movie that people enjoyed thoroughly. It is difficult for a sequel to keep the momentum going like its predecessors. But, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 has managed to pull it off and the fans cannot wait for the next adventure that the crazy bunch will have next.



What Fans Think of Marvel’s “Iron Fist”


When it comes to their opinions about Marvel’s latest creation for Netflix – “Iron Fist” – there’s a sharp divide between fans and critics. Whereas critics offered a mostly negative take on the show, fans were much more accepting. You can see that divide on many movie rating sites, where the ratings can differ markedly.

This is now the fourth Marvel series for Netflix – following “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” – so much of the split between fans and critics was mostly based on how they viewed the entire Marvel universe of characters. This show is obviously the setup for “The Defenders” (which features the stars of each of the four Marvel shows on Netflix) so most fans were willing to give this series a pass, as long as it helped to interconnect all the relevant Marvel plotlines.

#1: Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist

It’s impossible to talk about the new Marvel series without talking about the main hero, Danny Rand/Iron Fist (as played by Finn Jones). In this role, Jones must play a billionaire Buddhist monk and kung fu expert who has come back to New York City to reclaim his business empire (Rand Enterprises) after being absent for close to 15 years. For those years, he has been training to become a warrior with amazing kung fu skills.

The problem is not so much with Jones the actor, as with his martial arts skills. As in, he’s not a big kung fu expert. Although he trained extensively before the series began, and has been practicing Buddhist meditation principles in order to immerse himself in the role, he still falls a bit short of what people were expecting.

Making things worse, this is one of the few Marvel superheroes who can’t hide behind a mask and a cape. That means you can’t have stunt doubles coming in and taking over your scenes. That has led to some pretty tough criticism of Jones, with one  reviewer calling him “a befuddled surfer who wandered into the middle of a kung fu movie.”


#2: The second-rate fight scenes

If you’re making a movie about a martial arts expert, then you have to have some exciting martial arts action. The only problem is, there’s not a single memorable fight scene in any of the 13 episodes. When you look at the original Marvel comics, you can see the problem: the original comics had Iron Fist plowing through group of enemies and assailants at a single time.

In contrast, the fight action in “Iron Fist” often seems like it’s been slowed down so that Finn Jones can catch up. Reviewers have suggested that Finn Jones is holding back the manic pace of fighting that they were expecting. As a result, you don’t have any of the over-the-top choreographed scenes that we saw even in “Daredevil.” Every scene seems heavily edited, to the point it’s not even possible to focus precisely on the action. It’s like one giant aggressive cut, all mixed together to create the appearance of action.

#3: Too much dialogue

Another fan concern was the proper balance between action and dialogue. While there has to be some dialogue and exposition to explain who Danny Rand is, and why he was training with Buddhist warrior monks (his family died in a plane crash over the Himalayas), the common consensus is that the series just gets bogged down in way too much dialogue.

There are 13 episodes in this series, and the common consensus is that it could have been told in just six! That gives you an idea of just how much extra dialogue there is in this series. There’s a serious issue with the pacing and storytelling.

#4: An underwhelming villain

The centerpiece of every great Marvel comic is the arch-villain. Just consider the Marvel shows for Netflix: some of the great villains have included Killgrave and Cottonmouth. In “Iron Fist,” however, the main enemy is a shadowy organization known as The Hand. There are some ninja enemies, and a lot of talk about how they are preying on people in New York, but we never really get a sense that Iron Fist is facing an arch-rival or arch-fiend. That just brings down the whole series. We wanted super-villains, and they just gave us a bunch of bad ninjas.


#5: Questions about racial and ethnic identity

One problem cited by both fans and critics is how the series treats the martial arts, as well as how non-white characters fit into the Marvel universe. In this case, it seems like all the good guys are white, and all the bad guys are people of color. Moreover, some fans have accused the series of “Orientalism,” or the desire to characterize and stereotype an entire race with a few simple tropes. In the case of “Iron Fist,” the martial arts are just one more way for white people to triumph over evil, and it’s felt that the Asian characters are never fully developed.

#6: Mad props for Jessica Fenwick

If there’s one character who gets a lot of love from Marvel fans, it’s Jessica Fenwick, who plays Colleen Wing. She’s a sharp, tough martial arts expert who owns a NYC dojo. Fans like the fact that she seems like a no-nonsense New Yorker and someone who makes a worthy sidekick for Iron Fist.

#7: The weakest link in the Marvel chain

The problem, quite simply, is that Marvel shows like “Daredevil” spoiled fans. It featured great fight scenes, a tight script, great pacing and some amazing action. In comparison, “Iron Fist” is commonly considered by fans to be the weakest of all the Marvel series on Netflix, trailing not only “Iron Fist,” but also “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage.”

And, most disturbingly, some fans have basically suggested that Marvel is only using “Iron Fist” to set up its next show, “The Defenders.” In order to do that, it had to set up the whole back story of Danny Rand, and explain the powers of his glowing Iron Fist.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to see why fans and critics diverged in their assessment of “Iron Fist.” Critics tended to judge it primarily on its merits, in terms of acting and pacing and storytelling. Marvel fans took a bigger picture view, and evaluated the series as part of the Marvel universe. And there were more willing to overlook the shortcomings of Finn Jones as Danny Rand. Whatever the case, all eyes are now squarely on “The Defenders,” which is coming to Netflix in August 2017.



What “Dear White People” Teaches About Racism


The latest Netflix original series, “Dear White People,” has already caused a firestorm of controversy, with people debating whether or not the show is meant to unite or divide people. Even before the first 10 episodes dropped on April 28, there was controversy brewing with the teaser trailer, which led to some people accusing the show of being anti-white and guilty of white racism. Some people even called for a boycott of Netflix. So what exactly does “Dear White People” teach us about racism?

The show explores the various forms of racism through a number of difficult social situations, with many of them exploring ideas like black-white relationships, or whether or not white people can use certain words (like the “N” word) in casual conversation. The show also examines various stereotypes about black people by showing them in uncomfortable situations that challenge conventions.

The goal of the show, according to director Justin Simien, is to show that “there are a plethora of ways of being black.” Thus, for example, there is the star of the show, Logan Browning, who plays Samantha (“Sam”) White, the host of a controversial campus radio show called “Dear White People.” If that sounds somehow familiar, it’s because there was a 2014 movie of the same name by the same director. Through Sam, we see a lot of questions at the heart of what some would call racism.

Take, for example, one of the scenes from Episode 1, where Sam’s white boyfriend posts a photo on Instagram, saying that they are “hooking up.” That raises a lot of uncomfortable questions: Is it possible to have a white-black romantic relationship where people won’t judge you? What type of emotional baggage do people bring into these relationships. So, the show is not really so much about racism, as about exploring the issues of identity and relationships through the eyes of white and black characters.


Or, take the main plotline of Episode 1, in which a group of white boys plan to throw a “black face” party to protest Sam White’s campus radio show. The boys claim that the radio show is racist, and are taking advantage of this party to make a loud social protest. Only, of course, this is 2017 and you can’t do that kind of stuff anymore. That raises a lot of fascinating questions about racism, as well. For example, is it really possible to have racism against white people?

The people who were calling for a boycott of the show certainly think so. The YouTube trailer received a huge number of dislikes, and the goal was to punish Netflix for even thinking of streaming this show. But isn’t that a form of racism as well – saying that blacks aren’t allowed to tell their stories and share their experiences, for fear of alienating whites?

Yes, things are quite complicated, and that’s something that we see again and again in “Dear White People.” One of the discussions that takes place in Episode 1 is about the types of jokes that black people and white people can make. The common consensus is that jokes about white people (e.g. white people can’t dance) don’t lead to oppression by the police or incarceration, while jokes about black people can. Thus, jokes about black people and white people are not inherently the same.

The Netflix original series also looks at the topic of “subtle racism.” This is not the overt racism of a black face party, but the type of racism that black people experience every day in normal society. There’s one scene in “Dear White People” that especially stands out – a group of white people and black people get into a fight, and the campus police is called to break it up. The police then asks one of the black students for his ID, to prove that he’s really a student at the university (the fictional Ivy League university Winchester University). That’s something that would never happen to a white student – the police would just assume that the white guy was enrolled there.


And the storytelling about racism also looks at friendship between whites and blacks. At what point can a black friend forgive a white friend for a remark or action that’s perhaps unknowingly racist? And is there any way to eliminate racism entirely from a friendship?

One of the role models for the show is Samantha White. Her campus radio show might be highly controversial, but it’s only intended to get people talking about issues that have been hidden for too long. And, in fact, she’s the type of person who wants to be friends with everybody, no matter if they are white or black. She even has a white boyfriend.

As Justin Simien said after all the controversy surrounding his new Netflix show, “Glad you’ve woken up.” If you listen to interviews with the cast members, that’s also a theme that gets picked up a lot – the idea of being “woke.”

It’s not just students at prestigious universities like Winchester who need to be “woke” – it’s everybody in society who lives inside a little bubble, not aware of how racism can manifest itself on an everyday basis. And all of that pent-up emotion can sometimes explode, like we’ve seen in Ferguson and the whole #BlackLivesMatter movement.

So the final takeaway of “Dear White People” might just be that white people and black people need to meet halfway in the middle. Black people can’t just use “slavery” as an excuse to hate the system, and white people can’t ignore the fact that “acting black” (especially if it involves using the “N” word) can be hurtful and offensive to some black people.

It’s a very complex issue, and “Dear White People” is just trying to make sense of it all. The very fact of calling the show “racist” is, in fact, definitely racist. Wrap your head around that for a second. Clearly, more has to be done with race relations in this country, and “Dear White People” is a good step in the right direction.


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