Movie review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of a film that I was looking forward to for a decade! This is Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!

IMDb summary: Five years after the events of Mamma Mia! (2008), Sophie learns about her mother’s past while pregnant herself.

Writing

Mamma Mia 2 was written by Catherine Johnson (the playwright who wrote the first film as well as the original theatre production), Richard Curtis (the writer of some classic romantic movies, like the Bridget Jones series), Ol Parker (the director of the film). I highly enjoyed the story of the second film. I loved the fact that it was a prequel and a sequel hybrid that took the narrative both forward and backward. I thought that the blend of the two timelines was really neat and the connections that were drawn between the characters in the past and the present allowed the movie to explore some great themes. The multigenerational family dynamics (mother-daughter bonds), family, friendship, love, adventure were all touched upon to some extent. The movie also had some weird accidental meetings that were only there to allow the film to include more musical numbers. I would have been mad about that if they weren’t ABBA songs, which I love unconditionally.

Additionally, it was also interesting to see the tonne difference between this film and the original. While Here We Go Again! was still a fun comedy, it did have a more somber tone than the first film. There was an overwhelming feeling of mourning even if the healthy kind (by ‘healthy’ I mean mourning that is hopeful and has a foreseeable ending). Plus, the majority if not all of the romantic plotlines included a lot of heartbreak and wasted opportunities type of ideas.

Directing

Ol Parker of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies directed Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! directed the second film and did a great job. Still, I wonder why Phyllida Lloyd, the director of the first film, didn’t helm the sequel. Was she asked and declined? Wasn’t she asked at all? Up until just last year, her original film was the highest grossing movie directed by a woman. It was also the highest grossing musical. (Wonder Woman and Beauty and the Beast dethroned it from the two top spots).

Anyways, I thought that the second film was crafted beautifully. The transitions between the two timelines and between the different locations in the musical numbers were seamless and beautiful. It was nice to hear some ‘new’ ABBA songs as well as some new takes on the songs used in the first film. The 70s setting of the past timeline was also very fun because it was true to ABBA’s roots. I also loved how self-aware the movie was and how it had a carefree attitude too. My one gripe was the fact that it had some fake looking backgrounds in a few musical numbers.

Acting

Mamma Mia 2 had a great cast. The favorites from the original returned, including Amanda Seyfried (who was recently in Gringo), Meryl Streep (in a cameo appearance / The Post, Florence Foster Jenkins), Dominic Cooper (not gonna lie, was a bit weird to see him as Sky after seeing him on Preacher; he was also in Warcraft not that long ago), Christine Baranski and Julie Walters (the best (and most relatable) duo of friends that I wish to have when I’m older), and Pierce BrosnanColin Firth (Kingsman), and Stellan Skarsgård (all of who have barely aged in 10 years).

Joining them was Lily James (whose film career has been blossoming with Cinderella, Baby Driver, Darkest Hour, Guernsey), Jessica Keenan WynnAlexa DaviesJeremy IrvineHugh Skinner, and Josh Dylan. The younger counterparts were very respectful of the beloved characters that they got to play but also made them their own and were charming in their own right. Lastly, Cher (who should really cover all ABBA songs) and Andy García rounded out the already perfect cast!

In short, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! is a fun but slightly sad summer musical, certainly worthy of the original!

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! trailer

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Eurovision 2016!

Music

Hello, my dear readers!

Once a year, the whole of Europe and Australia (and even the US for the first time) turns on their TVs and witnesses one of the most bizarre international events – the Eurovision Song Contest! Eurovision is supposedly a musical contest and yet it has always been extremely political and biased. This year was no exception! Actually, 2016’s show might be the most political Eurovision ever.

To begin with, let’s focus on the bright side and talk about the positive aspects of the event. The 61st edition of the contest was held in Stockholm, Sweden thanks to Måns Zelmerlöw, who won in 2015 with the song Heroes. This wasn’t the first time that Sweden won the contest (it was actually the 6th – previous wins in  1974 (ABBA), 1984, 1991, 1999 and 2012 (Loreen)), so the Scandinavian country was/is an experienced host nation and I think that they did a fabulous job. The event was hosted by Zelmerlöw and the fan-favorite Petra Mede and they actually were pretty funny and worked well together. Of course, there were plenty of awkward and uncomfortable moments, but that’s just part of the Eurovision’s charm.

A few stand-out moments from the hosts and the guests of the show were: the dance/acting performance The Grey People in support of the refugees during the 1st Semi-Final, the dance performance Man v Machine during the 2nd Semi-Final, the satirical, tongue-in-cheek performance by Petra and Mans and the appearance of/interval act by Justin Timberlake during the grand final.

The actual songs were pretty good as well. This was probably the most even playing field I have ever seen in all my 12 years of watching the Eurovision. There was no clear winner before the show or even during the voting.

My favorite songs came from the following countries: Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Latvia, Austria, and Russia (I feel ashamed to mention that last one). Ukraine was not one of my favorites – the song was not of my style or taste – but I appreciated it and was happy that they won.

I also did not hate my native country’s – Lithuania’s – song. We did pretty well this year, finishing in 9th place. That’s the 2nd best result for my country. This was the first year that I actually was able to vote for my native land as I no longer live there.

Now,  about the politics and the voting. This year, the jury’s and public’s votes were announced separately and this decision made for an even more intense watching experience. Stand out moments from the announcement of the votes:

  1. Australia took and early lead and won the jury’s votes. Everyone was expecting it to win and then Ukraine shockingly dethroned it.
  2. The juries were more biased than their respective nations. The professionals voted for their neighboring countries much more than the public did. I would have expected the public to be more biased, while the juries should have been way more objective.
  3. Ukraine and Russia were the last two countries to receive the public’s votes. Russia was the fan-favorite and could have won but it did not receive enough points. So, Ukraine had the best payback ever for the current political situation in Crimea. It gave Russia some hope and then crushed it completely. When you find out that a)Ukraine’s singer is of Crimean Tatar descent; b)her song was about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars during the 1940s by the Soviet Union and c) the song features Crimean Tatar’s language and cultural vocal styles, this revenge win is even more iconic. Layers upon layers of politics. 
  4. Germany’s jury gave 12 points to Israel. I guess the blame for WW2 is still on Germany’s jury’s minds.
  5. Poland received 7 points from the jury and 200+ points from the viewers. This was probably the biggest divide that the professionals and the public had ever had. I have a theory on why the viewers liked Poland’s performer – he looks like Weird Al Yankovic – internet-famous American parodist and singer.

All in all, I had a lovely time watching this year’s Eurovision. The show had enough pleasant surprises and a few listenable songs. Have you watched the show? Who were your favorites?

My posts on/about 2015‘s Eurovision here and 2014‘s Eurovision here.

eurovision-2016

 

Sightseeing: a museum day in Vilnius

Sightseeing

Hello!

I haven’t done a sightseeing post in a very long time but today is the day that I bring it back. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

Some of you may know that my favorite city in Lithuania (my native country) and one of my favorite cities in the world is Vilnius – the capital of Lithuania. I have already done a post about places I enjoy visiting while in Vilnius (find it here). Luckily, today, I had another chance to visit 3 of the capital’s biggest museums, which I can’t wait to tell you all about.

To begin with, me and my aunt visited a fashion exhibition at the Lithuanian Museum of Applied Art (museums site here). Here we saw an exhibition called “Three Centuries of Fashion“. All of the clothes and the accessories, dating back to 18th, 19th and 20th century, were from the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev. He is an internationally acclaimed French (though born in Russia) costume and set designer as well as a fashion historian. His collection truly conveys and reflects the words of the King of France Louis XIV that fashion is a “mirror of history”. 







My favorite pieces were the flapper/swing dresses from the 1920s (a la The Great Gatsby): 

Also, I really loved the puffy dresses and accessories from the 1960s (a la Hairspray):

There was also another exhibition consisting of pieces from slightly newer Vassiliev’s collection. This one was called a ‘Rebellion in a Boudoir‘. Clothes, which were presented, were from the era of the hippies – 1970s. Colorful dresses, crazy prints, punk jackets and grunge vests as well as sequined jumpsuits were all included. ABBA’s music was playing in the background. It felt like falling through a wormhole into my grandpa’s young adult days.







Next, we went to the Lithuanian National Museum (visit its site here) which houses a wide variety of exhibits. You can find a plethora of paintings, old books and statues, ethnographic clothes, swords and spears and many more things, which have one thing in common – they represent the history of Lithuania and its surrounding countries. Surprisingly, you can even find paintings from Japan, which were gifted to counts and dukes of Lithuania and ended up in a museum a few centuries later. There is also a massive reproduction of one of the biggest battles of the medieval Europe – the battle of Grunwald (wiki).

Lastly, we visited the The Museum of Money (link here), which, to my mind, is one of the best if not the best museum in Lithuania for the way it uses modern technologies. The admission to the museum is free but you can do so many things here and not just stare at blank walls. The museum presents the history of the Lithuania’s currencies as well as provides visitors with the information about the world currencies via interactive computer with 9 screens. You can also see a wide variety of international money in person. Plus, a bunch of computers invite you to test your knowledge of money and finance or challenge you to try to guess which country in Europe a certain euro coin belongs to. You can even get a few free souvenirs – one of them is a book mark, which you make by pressing a seal of a coin on a piece of metal in a special machine. Another attraction is a special weighting scale where you can get an official document, which pronounces your worth: you weight yourself and find out how much would you cost in dollars and euros if you were made from gold, silver or platinum.

 Amber as the first currency in trading.

 World currencies – this one is from Hong Kong.

The pyramid made from the smallest currency of Lithuania – a million of cents (pennies). True, these are the pennies of litas (a penny is a one hundredth of a litas) and my country has joined the Euro zone in January of 2015, so these coins have no worth anymore.

The receipt of my own personal worth and a handmade bookmark.

To sum up, I really liked spending a day in Vilnius once again. I love fashion, so, I highly enjoyed seeing the clothes from all the different eras. Moreover, I am a huge history buff, so visiting a national museum was a dream come true. Lastly, who doesn’t like money and doesn’t want to know more about it?

If you ever get a chance to visit the capital of my country, I suggest you check these places out. Sadly, both fashion exhibitions will only be open till the end of October, so don’t miss out. Have a great day! Bye!