Time for another monthly recap, folks. Well, May is actually not a really great movie-watching month for me after a very busy April. I was pretty busy with my script and also my trip to Montréal/Québec City took up a lot of my time. But hey, I did manage to see Captain America: Civil War twice, and plenty of great rewatches too!
I went to see this again last night with my hubby and I still loved it!
As I mentioned in my review, this is such a delightful adaptation. Another Austen movie I could watch over and over for years to come.
Speaking of an Austen adaptation…
Of course I immediately purchased a Blu-ray copy of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies as soon as I left work. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more ardently in love with Sam Riley’s Darcy [le sigh] I know I’ll work that one to the ground in no time [not to mention my remote pause & rewind buttons, ehm] So yeah, suffice to say this is my favorite rewatch 😉 …
Well that’s my viewing recap of May. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?
Hello everyone! I’m back from my Québec trip… well actually I’ve been back since Friday night but I’m just too tired to blog. I actually didn’t even visit my blog or anyone else’s during my week-long vacation, though I did fit in some time to work on my script here and there. Monday is Memorial Day so my hubby and I get an extra vacation day, wahoo!
We’re very blessed to have had a very smooth trip to the French-Canadian region, no immigration/flight hassles of any kind, thank God. In fact, we’re upgraded to economy comfort on both our flights which is always a treat.
Well, we both LOVE Montréal and Québec City! We’ve been to Montréal once before about a decade ago, but it’s our first time in Québec City and I absolutely fell in love. The atmosphere, the architecture, all those cobblestone streets lined with cute shops and cafés, and of course all the French-speaking… it was more than a little taste of Europe. Plus our airbnb’s Victorian-style flat is like a 4-star hotel in a very strategic location on Rue St Jean that’s close to Quebec Old Town. I definitely will be staying at Sébastien’s place again when we return to Quebec City!
So here are some pics from both cities…
Click to view a larger image
As for movies, well I didn’t really have time to see anything all week. We were thinking of renting Netflix as our host in Montreal has it, but we’re too tired to do anything when we get back late every night. One thing I notice is that they have way more Netflix selections of new releases in Canada, way more than my streaming selections here. What gives?
I did watch parts of Antman on the plane but didn’t get a chance to finish it by the time we landed. I still enjoyed it and might even rent it again at some point. I’ve got a screening of the tearjerker drama Me Before You on Tuesday night, but depending on whether my friend can make it or not, I might skip that one.
Well, hope you enjoy my travel recap. So what movies did you see this past week, anything good?
Happy Friday everybody!! Well I’m psyched for my Montréal trip. Bags are packed, airport shuttle booked, etc. and looking at the forecast, it’s going to be in mid 70s F & mostly sunny for most of the days we’ll be in Montréal AND Québec City! We can’t believe our luck, as Canada & Minnesota pretty much share a similar climate in that it tends to still be cold even in May.
Well, I’ve been needing a break for some time so for sure I won’t be blogging whilst I’m on vacation, so if you don’t see a comment from moi in the next week or so, you’ll know why. But before time, there’s always time for community links, so here we go…
Cindy just did a wonderful tribute to one of my fave actors Edward Norton
Jordan reviewed a French film The Blue Room by Mathieu Amalric
Speaking of French cinema, Vinnie reviewed the classic 90s crime thriller Léon, which is my fave Luc Besson movie
Now THIS post of dapper guys in suits is a total feast for the eyes… thank you Zoë for not forgetting my dahling Sam Riley!
To commemorate this year’s Cannes, Steven‘s been doing Cannes review marathon. I really need to see this Russian film Leviathan (2014)
Dell‘s post on terrible movie summaries made me laugh, esp. the one for Batman V Superman
I’ve been curious to check out Yorgos Lanthimos’ previous films after seeing The Lobster, but after reading Vern‘s review of Dogtooth, I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea.
The Flick Chicks ladies Jenna & Allie have a differing views about Testament of Youth, but I’m still curious to rent it, alas it’s not available to stream anywhere
Mark & Tom’s Decades’ Blogathon is going on right now, check out Michael‘s review of The Outlaw Josey Wales starring Clint Eastwood.
Last but not least, always nice to see Andrew still blogging from time to time. Check out his 2015 Fisti Awards, yay on Phoenix!
As I have done previously on my blog when I take a trip, I like to commemorate it with a film-related post. Well, it so happens that I’ve been watching quite a few Canadian films during MSPIFF, in fact three of them I like quite a bit: Bollywood/Hollywood (set in Toronto), Beeba Boys (set in Vancouver) and My Internship in Canada (set in rural Quebec). The year before I also LOVE The Grand Seduction, which is set in Newfoundland, the most easterly province of Canada.
Now, I’m going to make the distinction of Canadian films and films set in Canada, as there are certainly a ton of American films set in our northern neighbor, such as the X-Men movies in British Columbia as well as many others that take a Canadian city like Toronto to sub for American ones like NYC. Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive list of Canadian films, and apparently according to this site, April 29 is declared National Canadian Film Day!
A few notable Canadian films (made by Canadian filmmakers) I’ve seen over the years are Water (by Deepa Mehta), The Fly (by David Cronenberg) Enemy(by Denis Villeneuve), The Red Violin (by François Girard), just to name a few. I also have to mentioned Remember, which was a compelling WWII-themed drama by Atom Egoyan (an Egyptian-decent who was raised in British Columbia).
When I was making this post though, I realize there are so many essential Canadian films I still need to see… Away from Her (as well as Sarah Polley’s acclaimed documentary Stories We Tell), Incendies, Monsieur Lazhar,, and the one that’s been on my Netflix queue for ages Cairo Time, etc. I also remember reading Ryan’s review of Jesus of Montreal, which I should check out soon.
So I thought I’d take the time to broaden my Canadian cinema horizon.
In the spirit of recommendations, what’s YOUR favorite Canadian film(s)? …
You already know I LOVE period dramas and I adore Jane Austen. This was one of the Sundance films I couldn’t wait to see and it absolutely didn’t disappoint! Love & Friendship is an adaptation of Austen’s short epistolary novel Lady Susan that was published posthumously in 1871.Writer/director Whit Stillman changed its name but the focus is still on Lady Susan, played brilliantly by Kate Beckinsale.
Lady Susan Vernon is a beautiful widow who’s famous for her dalliances and flirtatious nature. As she waits out all the colorful rumors about her in her in-laws estate, whilst securing a husband for herself and her reluctant daughter Frederica. Chloë Sevigny plays her American best friend Alicia who’s loyal to her despite her husband’s threat to send her back to America if she doesn’t sever her ties with Susan.
Right from the start, Stillman’s script infuses the movie with such biting wit and his direction is whimsical and fresh. I enjoy each character’s introduction, clearly labeled in an amusing fashion that makes it easy to understand who’s who in the story. One of Susan’s suitors is her sister in-law’s brother Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel) who’s immediately smitten by her against his better judgment. The truth is, it’s very easy to be charmed by Lady Susan, as was I throughout this movie. In fact, this is perhaps one of the rare Jane Austen movies where there’s a lack of swoon-worthy Austen hero. But we do have an utterly hilarious character in the form of Sir James Martin, played by Tom Bennett who stole every scene he’s in. That ‘Churchill’ bit in the trailer got chuckling but it’s even funnier in the movie.
I enjoyed this movie immensely and I think the fact that it’s more of a satire than a romance drama, it’d be as enjoyable for those who are normally not into this genre. Described as the most irresistibly devious of Austen protagonists (who’s not shy of admitting the fact that she has a married lover), Beckinsale shines in the lead role with her beauty and wit. The way she spins things to make it sound as if it’s everyone else’s faults but her own, when confronted with something that’s actually true, she’d say ‘Facts are horrid things!’ She delivers the most cunning, devious lines with such breezy, sunny disposition that’d charm the wits out of you. I’d say she’s utterly bewitching in this role, which is a welcome change considering I haven’t been impressed by anything she’s done lately. This is the second time Beckinsale has starred as an Austen character (the first time was in Emma in 1996), but this one is definitely a far superior performance. She has a nice chemistry with Sevigny, whom she co-starred with in Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (1998).
The movie is also gorgeous to look at, with sumptuous costumes (by Irish costume designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh), lush cinematography and picturesque scenery (apparently Ireland subbed for Regency England here). I absolutely adore Beckinsale’s purple dress featured in the poster. The music by Benjamin Esdraffo is lovely and adds that touch of whimsy. But it’s the droll and dry humor that keeps me engaged, I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in an Austen movie. I mean Pride + Prejudice + Zombies was hilarious because of the amusing juxtapositions, but as far as a straight Austen adaptation, this is by far the funniest. But then again I’ve always found Austen to be a funny and witty writer, and that’s what makes her social commentary on class and manners in polite society so wonderfully timeless.
Speaking of PPZ, interesting to see Emma Greenwell and Morfydd Clark from that film, who played Mr. Bingley’s sister and Mr. Darcy’s sister, respectively. Also fun seeing reliable British comic actors Stephen Fry and James Fleet as part of the ensemble.
At only an hour and 32 minutes, the movie flows with such upbeat energy. Kudos to Mr. Stillman for his brilliant work here, which made me want to check out his other films. I was privileged to see him talk about this film following the screening, and the New Yorker has such dry British humor, which explains the wit that transpires in the script. I might even check out his companion novel, titled Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated.I think the fact that Stillman is a huge fan of Austen’s work (though he admitted that he disliked Northanger Abbey) definitely helps in making this such a delightful adaptation. This is another Austen movie I could watch over and over for years to come.
Have you seen ‘Love & Friendship’? I’d love to hear what you think!
When I first heard of the premise of this film, I was already sold. Then I saw the trailer and I knew it’d be a bizarre film, but nothing could prepare me for how bizarre it turned out to be. The film is set in a dystopian near future where it’s unlawful to be single according to the laws of The City. So they’re taken to The Hotel where they have to find a romantic partner in 45 days or they’d be transformed into a beast of their choice and sent off into The Woods. You’d think that’d be easy but they have to find partners who share their unique characteristics.
We first see David (Colin Farrell), a recently divorced architect and his dog who’s actually his brother who didn’t make the strict 45-day rule. Even the conversation with the hotel clerk is so off the wall you can’t help but laugh. Later on I realize that David is the only one who has a name in this film, the other characters are only credited with their unique traits, or you could also say affliction. Ben Whishaw is the Limping Man, John C. Reilly is the Lisping Man and so on. The fact that the film is played straight with the actors delivering the weirdest dialog in a deadpan way makes it so hilarious. I find myself chuckling at the sheer peculiarity of it all, but yet I know there’s more to this than just a series of outlandish scenarios.
The film is inherently a comedy but it’s not just frivolous silly movie, but it’s a clever and unique way to make you think of relationships. The first half of the film shows the strict rules and customs of The Hotel, managed by the always-entertaining Olivia Coleman. Then the second half takes place in The Woods where single-dom is celebrated and romantic/sexual activity is severely punished. I have to admit that the film seems to lose its footing a bit in the second half as it’s not as engrossing. It also grows more sinister and there’s a pretty violent scene that made me wince. In the Woods is where we meet its leader (Léa Seydoux)and the Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) with whom David forms an attachment.
Now, to say more would be a disservice to those who haven’t seen this. I think it’s best going into this not knowing much about it other than the basic premise. The way things unfold is so amusing and it’s open to your own interpretation. Greek writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos who co-wrote the script with Efthymis Filippou doesn’t spoon-feed you what he thinks about relationships. He doesn’t take sides on couple-dom vs single-ness, but he presents things in such a way that make you ponder about it for days. I really don’t know how I could survive in either scenario as there are dire consequences for your actions in both places. I appreciate Lanthimos’ style and this is certainly one of the most original concept I’ve seen. I’ve loved sci-fi concepts that’s more grounded in its presentation and the world the characters inhabit in this movie certainly looks plausible. The cinematography is beautiful with natural light and has a rather somber ambiance that stops just short of being morose.
The acting is brilliant all around. I’m most impressed with Farrell who’s perhaps at his most understated here. He looked so pudgy with a huge belly, a physical look I haven’t seen before as he’s not quite the shape-shifter like say, Christian Bale. His character is mostly passive and reflective, as he internalizes everything as he observes everything that’s going on around him. It’s quite interesting to watch his journey through the film, going from compliance to defiance to rebellion, right down to its ambiguous conclusion. Rachel Weisz is wonderful as always, she’s got many intriguing projects recently and she’s an actress I’ve grown to respect even more.
The finale proved to be rather frustrating and I think that’s what the filmmaker intended. It seems as if David was set out to do something really drastic, but the film ended before we know if went through with it. [SPOILER ALERT – highlight text to read the following sentence] As David brought a fork and knife, it seems to suggest he was going to blind himself so he’d share the same characteristic as the now blind Rachel Weisz, though I wonder why as he’s already escaped the strict confines of both The Hotel and The Woods.
Despite my frustration with some aspects of the film, I still have to give it top marks for originality and thought-provoking ideas. This is the first film from Lanthimos I’ve seen so far, but his previous films (Alps, Dogtooth) also have a peculiar concept. This is definitely unlike anything I’ve ever seen and I’m glad we have a filmmaker like him that pushes the envelope. I’d say if you don’t have an aversion to strange films, I highly recommend this one and you’d be glad you did.
Have you seen ‘The Lobster’? I’m curious to hear what you think!
Well there goes the weekend… it seems to fly by so fast as it always does. I’m super excited for my upcoming trip to Montréal next week, we’ll be there for four nights and then three nights in Québec City. The Airbnb flats we’ll be staying at are gorgeous and they’re both right downtown too! I’ll be doing a Canada-related post next week just before my temporary blogging hiatus.
Well, this weekend I ended up watching quite a bit of movies! Two of them are ones I thought I had seen before, but when I saw it I realize I had not seen them. Have that ever happened to you? Maybe it’s my hapless memory playing tricks on me, as I remember some scenes vividly but maybe I just saw clips of them a long time ago. Anyway, here’s my quick thoughts on those films.
Great Expectations (1998)
Somehow I didn’t realize this Charles Dickens’ modern adaptation was directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Believe it or not but I’ve never read Dickens’ novel but I knew they had made a ton of liberties with this adaptation, even changing the protagonist’s name from Pip to Finn and instead of becoming a wealthy Gentleman, he became a successful artist. But the essence of the story remains, as was the plot about unrequited love between Finn and Estella (Ethan Hawke & Gwyneth Paltrow).
I think both are perfectly cast. Hawke’s got that pinning look down pat every time he looks at Paltrow, and she definitely captured that ‘icy rich girl’ aura. The entire ensemble is stellar, with Chris Cooper, Anne Bancroft, Robert De Niro rounding up the cast. The cinematography was gorgeous and of course when I looked it up it was done by the genius Emmanuel Lubezki. My favorite part is definitely the music by Patrick Doyle which I have highlighted in this post.
I think the film itself was good but not as great as I had hoped considering the talents involved. It does make me want to see the more conventional adaptation set in the same era as it is in the book, thankfully there’s the 2012 BBC version with Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter on Netflix!
About A Boy (2002)
I seem to have a distinct memory of having seen this one so I might have a long while ago but my memory of it is scant so it feels like I had just seen it for the first time. This is a coming-of-age story with a twist as the 12-year-old Marcus is the one who helped 38-year-old Will grow up.
Hugh Grant is wonderful as Will, a cynical, immature young man who holds no job whatsoever and is living off of the royalty of her dad’s famous Christmas song. It’s so cute to see Nicholas Hoult as a dorky kid back then, as he’s now grown up to be a tall and good looking young man. I love the two female cast here too, Toni Collette as Marcus’ unstable hippie mom and Rachel Weisz as Will’s love interest.
Based on a novel by Nick Hornby and directed by brothers Chris & Paul Weitz, I really enjoyed this one. Yes there are predictable moments throughout, but it’s got genuine humor and a big, big heart.
Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
Now, I saw this one simply because Prince had directed AND starred in it. My pal Becky (Prairiegirl) lent me the dvd she rented from Netflix and though the movie’s *won* a bunch of Razzies, I simply had to see it out of sheer curiosity.
Gigolo Christopher Tracy (Prince) and Tricky (Prince’s real-life pal Jerome Benton) are two friends from Miami who’s scamming rich women in the French Riviera. But of course Christopher and Mary, one of the girls he was supposed to scam end up falling in love. The story is so cheesy and inherently silly, but it’s still amusing to watch simply because it’s Prince!
As a huge fan of Kristin Scott Thomas, it’s also fun to see her in big screen debut at the age of 26. She looked so gorgeous and fresh, and though she and Prince didn’t really have a good chemistry together, the moment the two characters saw each other for the first time was quite a hoot. She was draped in a bath towel in the middle of her own lavish birthday party and Prince was dressed in one of his extravagant suits that shows his lower back.
Though I can’t say it’s a good movie, I still think it’s quite watchable and you could even say this is one of those so-bad-it’s-good variety. There are scenes of Prince playing piano, singing and dancing, so it’s definitely well-worth a watch for his fans. Though he did direct another feature film after this one (the sequel to Purple Rain), I’d say filmmaking wasn’t really his forte. Even Kristin herself didn’t speak kindly of this movie (per IMDb trivia) and I can’t say I blamed her. Oh, apparently Terrence Stamp was going to play Kristin’s dad but he was replaced by Steven Berkoff (Bond nerds like me would know him as a Bond villain in Octopussy).
All in all I didn’t regret watching this one. The retro costumes and Mediterranean scenery are beautiful. Apparently it was shot in color but presented in black & white.
Besides these three films, I also rewatched Captain America: Civil War again in IMAX 3D and I actually like it even more. I appreciate the stuff I enjoyed from the first viewing even more so this time around, and I wasn’t as bothered by the slow start.
So what did YOU watch this weekend? Anything good?
Ahhhh… the 80s. Duran Duran, A-Ha, Spandau Ballet, The Cure, etc. I grew up with the bands featured in this movie, which adds the enjoyable quotient tenfold for me. I discovered John Carney a bit late as I saw Begin Again first a couple of years ago, then rented Once after that. I absolutely loved both of them, though Begin Again felt a bit more Hollywood given that it’s got bigger stars like Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, so I’m glad he returned to his Irish roots in his latest.
Set in Dublin in the mid 80s, Sing Street‘s tagline says ‘Boy meets girl, girl unimpressed, boy starts band’ and the movie is exactly what it says on the tin. The boy is Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), a 15-year-old boy who turns to music to escape his strained family life as his parents are going through a divorce. It’s certainly a story anyone can relate to, I mean we’re all teenagers once too. It’s especially tough when teens have to switch schools and that’s what happens to Connor when he’s sent to an inner-city public school to save money. That’s where he meets the mysterious girl Raphina (Lucy Boynton) with big dreams of becoming a model in London.
The whole process of Connor and his new pal Darren forming the band is such a joy to watch. Of course being a movie it all feels fairy-tale-ish how it came together, but it’s got such an infectious charm that got the whole theater in a jolly mood. The boys in a band have such quirky personalities, one of my fave parts was in Eamon’s (Mark McKenna) house when he showed off his abilities to play multiple instruments. But all of the music videos they’re filming are such a hoot, as the boys assumed different personas of famous bands from that era. I think my fave look is when the boys were rockin’ the guyliner and teased hair inspired by The Cure. The young actors (except for Boynton who I had seen in BBC miniseries of Sense & Sensibility) are all unknown. In fact, this is 16-year-old Ferdia’s acting debut, though he had stage and opera experience. The fact that the actors did their own singing certainly adds to the authenticity of the story.
All the musical performances are definitely the highlight, though there are poignant moments throughout. Kids get bullied in school from fellow students and strict teachers (which I could relate to as I went to an all-girl Catholic high school) and of course, dealing with the broken heart of first loves. The romance between Connor and Raphina is sweet despite being rather mawkish at times. I think the relationship between Connor and his down-on-his-luck older brother Brendan (played affectingly by Jack Reynor) is more memorable. Connor looks up to Brendan who teaches him all there is to know about rock ‘n roll ‘No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins.’ Ha! Yet in a way, Brendan also lives vicariously through his naive-yet-driven younger brother and in the end was inspired by him.
I had such a blast watching this movie, in fact it’s one of the most joyful films I’ve ever seen. This is apparently semi-autobiographical for writer/director John Carney and it’s the perfect love letter to the 80s and the power of music. For anyone who’s used music or other forms of art to escape the harsh realities of life will be swept away by the infectious optimism of this movie. The way he integrates music into the storyline is unlike any other filmmaker working today. I definitely will do a Music Break post with my favorite tunes from the movie. In fact, I was listening to the songs as I was writing this review and can’t wait to re-watch this movie again.
Have you seen ‘Sing Street’? Well, what did YOU think?