Thursday Movie Picks: Police Detectives

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Police Detective.

Well, there are SO many to choose from as Hollywood loves procedural movies! But there are a few that stood out to me from movies as well as TV. In fact, I’ve rewatched most of these recently and they’re still fun to watch.

In any case, here are my picks:

HOT FUZZ

One of my favorite action comedy!! Edgar Wright is basically doing a spoof and homage to American buddy action movies like Bad Boys, in fact there’s a scene of them watching that movie! Seeing Simon Pegg as a goody two shoes policeman (hence his name is Nicholas Angel) is such a hoot!! Any movie w/ Pegg + his BFF Nick Frost is always fun. Plus there’s Timothy Dalton as the villain, so perfect!!

Fun Trivia:
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright interviewed many real police officers while doing research for the film. Many lines in the film such as “I prefer to think my office is out on the street” came directly from those interviews. The stylized scenes of Nick doing paperwork were inspired by the officers noting that paperwork is a huge part of the job, but it is never depicted in cop shows and films.


SLEEPY HOLLOW

I just rewatched this a few months ago as I’ve forgotten quite a bit of it since I first saw this a while ago. I actually enjoyed it more than I did the first time, perhaps my fave Tim Burton film. Johnny Depp is fun to watch as the rather bumbling Ichabod, probably one of my fave roles of his.

Fun Trivia:
Historically, Ichabod Crane was a very unattractive man. Johnny Depp offered to add prosthetics to his face to make himself look ugly, but director Tim Burton wanted to base the character on Crane’s more unattractive personality traits, his reported squeamishness and eccentricity.


MINORITY REPORT

This is one of my all time fave sci-fi movies and somehow a lot of the technology doesn’t seem dated even though this movie is almost 2 decades old! I suppose self-driving cars, personalized ads, home voice automation and gesture controlled computers, most of those have become part of our every day lives now. Tom Cruise is in top form here, definitely one of his best roles.

Fun Trivia:
For the scene where Anderton holds his breath in the bathtub, Steven Spielberg was going to create the air bubble rising with CGI, but Tom Cruise took the time and learned how to do it himself. Both Spielberg and Cruise agreed to waive their usual salary to help keep the film’s budget under $100 million. They agreed to take 15% of the film’s gross instead.

BBC’s Sherlock

Ok so this one is not a movie, though I think they’re still planning on adapting this popular series as a feature. It’s Benedict Cumberbatch‘s huge breakout role (launching the Cumberbitches phenomenon) and he’s definitely fun to watch here. I love his friendship with his partner/assistant Watson, brilliantly played by Martin Freeman, which is one the strongest part about this series.

Fun Trivia:
Many of the crew in Sherlock (2010) are related. Sherlock’s parents are actually actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents, Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton; Amanda Abbington (Mary Morstan) and Martin Freeman (John Watson) were real-life partners; producer Sue Vertue is writer Steven Moffat’s wife, and co-producer and writer Beryl Vertue is his mother-in-law; writer Mark Gatiss’ husband is the barrister in Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall (2012); Steven Moffat’s son plays Sherlock Holmes as a child in a few episodes.


So who are YOUR favorite movie/tv detectives?

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FlixChatter Review: NEWS OF THE WORLD (2020)

First, a confession: I’m not a big fan of Westerns. Yes, there have been some Western movies I liked, most notably The Big Country, The Magnificent Seven, 3:10 To Yuma, The Dark Valley (this last one is an Austrian Western!). But when I received a screener of this one, I was intrigued because of Tom Hanks in the lead role, and later I learned it’s his first Western.

Well, his first foray into the genre proved to be more of a drama than a shoot-em-up action, which I actually prefer. The film is set five years after the end of the Civil War in the late 1800s, a turbulent, dark period in America. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks) is a Civil War veteran who now works as a news reader, traveling from town to town and charging a dime per person to read aloud from newspapers. Honestly I didn’t even know such a profession exist before I watched this movie. But what perfect casting, who doesn’t want Mr. Hanks to read news to you in the only way he can.

Capt. Kidd is about to move to another town after he read the news when he came across an overturned wagon, a lynched black man and a young white girl dressed in Native American clothing. He soon realized she’s a German native who had been taken by the Kiowa tribe and able to speak the language. It’s upon meeting the 10-year-old Johanna (German actress Helena Zengel) that the adventure began, as Kidd reluctantly agreed to deliver the girl to the only family she has left. But the hundreds-mile journey to San Antonio proved to be a rough and dangerous one, but provided ample time for the two of them to slowly bond.

I quite love a road movie when it’s done well and News of The World is a road-Western that makes the most of the two strong characters. Even though it’s mostly the two of them on screen for long periods of time, it’s never boring to me. There are a few shoot-em-ups up on a treacherous mountain region when the two were pursued by ex-Confederate soldiers-turned-hoodlums who wanted to purchase Johanna. The wilderness shootout was perhaps one of the few tense scenes in the film that’s also a key bonding moment for Kidd and Johanna. They also face more danger in their next stop when they encounter a radical gang who turns out to be in control of a small mining town. The gang leader obviously wants to keep outsiders out and feels threatened when Kidd disobeyed his orders to only read the news from his own ‘approved’ paper.

The quieter moments prove to be the most emotionally moving, such as when the two were trapped in a ferocious dust storm. The storm itself was remarkably filmed as it felt quite real, but it’s the moment when Kidd thought he’d lose Johanna forever that’s truly memorable. It’s a genuinely surprising moment that got me teared up, and the two actors’ performance truly brought the beautiful moment to life. Which brings me to the major strength of the film, which is the synergy between these two unlikely pairing. Hanks has always been a reliable actor, but it’s the now 12-year-old Zengel that’s the biggest surprise. She’s not only captivating to watch but she’s also able to match Hanks’ intensity and her taciturn role require her to act with her eyes and mannerism, which she pulled off beautifully.

It’s quite a departure for Paul Greengrass (who worked with Hanks in Captain Phillips) who’s known for his hand-held camera style in his action films. I’d say it’s a pretty restrained direction that works well for the story. There are slow moments in the movie, but it never felt tedious, which is a testament to the solid script Greengrass co-wrote with Luke Davies. Working with DP Dariusz Wolski, it’s a stunning film visually that made me wish I had seen this on the big screen. I also like James Newton Howard‘s reflective music that complements the vast open spaces of the American west.

This movie boasts one of the most memorable finale that closes the chapter of the two characters wonderfully. The themes of identity and sense of belonging, especially in regards to Johanna, are explored well here. It doesn’t pass judgment in regards to her dark past and how she ended up being a lost girl, but I feel like it presents the reality of that time period in an authentic way. I also love that in the end, that sense of belonging isn’t just confined to Johanna, but also to Capt. Kidd, and that’s what makes the ending so special.

Have you seen NEWS OF THE WORLD? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review – Da 5 Bloods (2020)

In the last few years, Netflix has attracted several talented filmmakers to come and make films for their streaming service. Talents such as Fincher, Scorsese and Cauron has come on board and now Spike Lee has joined the crowd. The last film I saw from Lee was the much-hated remake of OLDBOY, even though I’m a big fan of the Korean original version, I didn’t hate Lee’s remake, I actually enjoyed it. To be fair, Lee disowned that film because the studio butchered his original cut to make it shorter. Now Lee’s tackle a Vietnam war theme film that sits on my top best films list so far this year.

During the Vietnam war in the late 1960s, buddies Paul (Dilroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Melvin (Isiah Whitelock) and Stormin’ Norman (the late Chadwick Boseman) formed a tight bond fighting in a war for country that rejects their presence because the color of their skin. Seeing the lives of their fellow soldiers being lost in a war they don’t believe in, Paul, Otis, Eddie and Melvin looked up to Norman for leadership. Norman educates the men about the value of their lives and black history. During botched a mission in the jungle of Vietnam, the group found a chest of American gold meant to be a protection payment. They decided to bury the gold and come back to collect it once the war is over. 50 years later, four of the men Paul, Otis, Eddie and Melvin decided to go back to Vietnam to find the gold and also their leader Norman.

The plot of Da 5 Bloods broke into two parts, the first is about the men coming back to a country that’s now modern and full of tourists. It’s not the same place they remembered, Paul is having a hard time accepting the fact that the Vietnamese are no longer the enemy, while the other men are enjoying their time in a country that don’t really judge them based solely on the color of their skin. Otis who’s now the leader of the group, met up with an old flame Tien (Le Y Lan) who can connect the men with a Frenchman named Desroche (Jean Reno) that can help them move the gold out of the country. The men also have local guide named Vinh Tran (Johnny Nguyen) who helps them navigate through the city and into the jungle. The second part became more of an action/adventure as the men look for their buried gold and battle with the local henchmen that’s been following them.

With a runtime of 155 minutes, the script is credited to 4 writers including Lee. It’s a meaty script that could’ve derailed the story but Lee’s on top of his game and really took his time to tell the tale. Just like his other films, the film is full of political and racial subject matters that’s as relevant in today’s politics as it was back during the Vietnam war. The cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel is quite spectacular, this is probably the most “cinematic” looking film that Netflix has ever produced. I thought other films that they’ve made still has that made for TV look to them. Sigel and Lee really shot this film meant for the big screen. The only thing I didn’t really like was Lee’s decision to switch aspect ratios. The flashback scenes during the war were shown in boxy 1.33:1, the present-day scenes in the city were shown in cinemascope 2.39:1 and the second half jungle scenes were in flat 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I’m sure Lee has his reasons for that decision, but I don’t understand why he’d done that. I would’ve been fine with the film being shown in constant wider aspect ratio of 2.39:1.

Performances were great all around. With Paul being the lead in the film, Delroy Lindo shined as a trouble character who has to come face to face with a guilt that he can’t accept since the war. This guilt has been haunting throughout his life since the war ended. Another great performance belongs Clarke Peters, he’s the more level headed man of the group and tried to keep the group together when they face troubles in the jungle. Even though he’s featured prominently during the promotion of the film (given this is his last film released before he died), Boseman only appeared in flashback scenes and has about 10 minutes of screen time. But he’s great as the leader of men who needs someone to guide them during war time.

I thought this is one of Lee’s best films and I think it could be in the Oscar race comes awards season. Assuming there will be any awards this year. If you’re a Netflix subscriber then this film is a no brainer, it comes highly recommended.

4.5/5 stars


At the end of Da 5 Bloods, Lee showed with a quote from a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. that made the year before he died, in which King quotes literary icon Langston Hughes:

“O, yes/ I say it plain/ America never was America to me/ And yet I swear this oath—America will be!”


TedS_post


So have you seen DA 5 BLOODS? Well, what did you think?

Thursday Movie Picks: 2020 Releases – Worst Movies

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 2020 Releases.

This week’s topic kind of leaves it pretty wide open to do whatever we want with our list. Well, I had just posted my Top 10 Best List of 2020, so in order not to be repetitive, I thought about posting about those the opposite of such a list. I already had a draft post of WORST MOVIES, so I might as well post it here instead. I usually pick just 3, but for this occasion, I decided to go with 4.

In any case, here are my four picks of WORST 2020 releases

The Last Thing He Wanted

(full review)

I read about the terrible reviews prior to watching this but I still didn’t think this was going to be this bad. The Last Thing He Wanted seems to have all the ingredients of an intriguing political thriller. Helmed by acclaimed writer/director Dee Rees (Mudbound), the film is based on Joan Didion‘s Orange Prize-winning novel, the UK’s ‘s most prestigious literary prizes.

I have a penchant for movies about journalists and here Anne Hathaway plays a veteran D.C. journalist who Reagan’s re-election campaign suddenly got a call from her absentee father to be his sub to complete a ‘deal of a lifetime,’ which involves flying to a mysterious location with a huge amount of mysterious cargo. Of course things started go awry, and so did the movie. Despite the star-studded cast that includes Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe, this one turned out to be a disjointed mess that moved at an aggravating pace.

Fun Trivia:
Ben Affleck replaced Nicolas Cage in the role of Treat Morrison.


Kissing Booth 2

Now, I feel like I only have myself to blame for even thinking that watching this movie is a good idea. I never watched the first movie, but the only reason I saw this was to Maisie Richardson-Sellers (for a film project I’m developing), who despite only seeing her briefly here, I think deserves a better movie.

Oh man, this movie is absolutely awful that I could barely finish it. This Roger Ebert review summed up my dread perfectly, it’s “…a movie about cookie cutter characters in contrived situations set in a make-believe world…viewers may find its artificial sweetness and simplicity off-putting.” I can’t stand anyone in this movie, including the lead, Joey King with her bee-stung lips. There’s only so much suspension-of-disbelief one can muster. I mean, even superhero movies made way more sense than this, even baby Groot has more personality than any of these characters put together! I fast-forwarded so much of it and STILL it felt too long… as the running time is 2h 14min (I kid you not!) I’m surprised at the 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it should’ve been waaaay lower than that!! Oh and I saw in the recent Netflix promo video announcing 71 new movies coming this year, one of them is a third installment to complete this garbage trilogy! [face palm]

Fun Trivia:
Joey King shaved her head for her role in The Act, so she had to wear a wig when filming this movie.


The Secret: Dare to Dream

(full review)

I’ve never heard, let alone read the self-help book series called The Secret where this movie is based on prior to watching it. I guess I don’t pay attention to Oprah’s book club as apparently this massively-popular book was endorsed by her. I really tried my darnedest to suppress my cynicism and just enjoy the film for what it is. It’s really tough to do as I’m not into Lifetime or Hallmark-inspired dramas which tends to be filled with cloying plot and even more cringe-worthy acting. Katie Holmes is actually did her best here and her kids are pretty adorable, but Josh Lucas‘ smarmy acting was really tough to stomach. In the time of uncertainties amidst a pandemic, I generally welcome a film with a hopeful and uplifting message, sadly this one is pretty much drowned out by its own schmaltz.

Fun Trivia:
Andy Tennant directed from a screenplay he wrote alongside Bekah Brunstetter and Rick Parks, based on the 2006 self-help book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The book has been translated into 50 languages and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for 190 weeks.

Wonder Woman 1984

(full review)

So my fourth pick is a controversial one as I know many people love this one. I wish I could say I even like this one, but given all the release delays and huge anticipation surrounding it, this turns out to be a huge disappointment for me. I think I’m quite generous in my ratings generally, so to give a movie 2/5 rating means it’s got to be pretty bad. Not only bad, this one is problematic, esp. in regards to how Patty Jenkins resurrected Steve Trevor. We all love Chris Pine and he’s still fun to watch despite some of the idiotic stuff he and Diana were involved in WW84 (somehow the fighter jets at the Smithsonian are fueled + ready to fly?!)… but I was cringing the entire time I was watching it given Diana was using another man’s body as an Uber as all she sees in him is Steve. There have been many articles discussing this, but this one by the Mary Sue sums things up nicely. It’s not even the worst of it, the talented Kristen Wiig has to prowl around as the poorly-written CGI and horrendous CGI effects. Let’s hope the 3rd movie would be at least on par with the original!

Fun Trivia:
In a brief shot outside Max Lord’s HQ, as police and crowds are running in the background, a motorcycle cop in beige passes right behind Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) as he walks toward the HQ with Diana. The cop is wearing the California Highway Patrol uniform, a homage to the 80s police show CHiPs (1977), which starred Pine’s father Robert Pine as Sergeant Getraer.


Thoughts on my picks of WORST 2020 movies? Which one(s) have you seen?

Top 10 Films of 2020 + 15 Honorable Mentions

Hello everyone!! My picks of favorite movies of the year is here! Per FlixChatter tradition, I usually wait until mid January to post the obligatory Top 10 Best list.

I always have to preface this kind of post that there are still plenty of 2020 movies I have not seen yet: Minari, Da 5 Bloods, The Assistant, Miss Juneteenth, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Sound of Metal, Promising Young Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, etc. which might alter my current Top 10. All the films were released in 2020, though I might have watched a couple of them in 2021. I got more screeners this year than ever before, but somehow I still don’t do a good job of logging just how many films I’ve watched. So for sure my goal in 2021 would be to better log my movie-watching on Letterboxd.

It goes without saying of course, that everyone’s list is personal… my criteria is that a film makes a lasting impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, deeply-moving, thought-provoking and indelible. Replay-ability is a factor I take into consideration as well, though I don’t necessarily want to rewatch every single film on my list. Well without further ado, here we go… 

Top 10 Films of 2020

(in random order – I don’t usually rank my top 10)

1. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

It took me a long time to finally watch this movie. Somehow I wasn’t wowed by the trailer and took me a while to overcome my silly prejudice about it. Of course, by the time I’m done watching it, I was like, ‘what took me so long?! That was awesome!!’ Margot Robbie is phenomenal as Harley Quinn, though to be honest I wasn’t too keen on her in Suicide Squad, but that movie was utterly rubbish. Props to Robbie, director Cathy Yan and writer Christina Hodson for creating Harley as a crazy, unhinged character but yet still vulnerable that you can’t help but empathize for. Per my friend Vitali’s review, she spent three years developing the project under her own production company and the result is one of the best DCEU movies to date. The ensemble cast is fantastic – Ewan McGregor is quite fun as the villain, but I’m really impressed by Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Ella Jay Basco.

2.Pixar’s Soul (full review)

This one is still fresh in my mind as I just reviewed it. I didn’t even realize that Onward was released the same year. Though I enjoyed that one, it was far more frivolous compared to this one. I love so many things about this movie… the delightful characters, the beautiful visuals, the music, but most of all, the way Pixar gives an imaginative insight into humanity in the most delightful way. Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey provide great voice work here, but I really love hearing Angela Bassett‘s smooth voice as the sassy Dorothea Williams, one of those great Pixar characters I’d love to see a spinoff on.

3. The Dissident

I’m glad I always waited to make my top 10 until mid January, as there’s always a film or two from the year prior that I didn’t get to see until recently. Well, this year, that film is this documentary about the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. Well we have since know that he was brutally murdered, while his fiancée was waiting for him outside the embassy. Gripping, chilling, heartbreaking… it’s especially sad that no streaming giant made a bid for this film, most notably Amazon, given Jeff Bezos was actually featured in the film, shown as lending his support to Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz at his memorial. But obviously money talks as Netflix + Amazon are both doing business with the Saudis. Well, I hope you’d give this outstanding film by Bryan Fogel, who risked his life making this film, exposing a global cover-up perpetrated by the very country Khashoggi loved. The film played like a dark thriller, except more terrifying as it actually happened.

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (full review)

Dev Patel has become one of my favorite actors. He’s truly come a long way since starring in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. I know people were all enamored with his mane in LION, which shows how Patel has grown to be a dishy hunk. But he’s also proven to be a versatile and talented actor. I’m glad he got a chance to play a titular literary character in this delightful adaptation. Director Armando Iannucci created a fresh take on a classic with a gleeful adventurous spirit, full of colorful adventure as well as heartbreaking poignancy. I really can’t wait to see Patel tackle another iconic literary character who’s typically played by a Caucasian actor, The Green Knight. Hope that one gets released soon!

5. Wolfwalkers

I’ve been a fan of Tom Moore‘s work for a while. The first Cartoon Saloon’s movie I saw was The Secret of Kells, then The Song of the Sea. This one is the third movie of Moore’s Irish Folklore Trilogy and it could very well be my favorite! It focuses on a young apprentice hunter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) and her father (Sean Bean) journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything is turned upside down when she befriends a free-spirited girl Mebh (Eva Whittaker) who can talk to wolves. Mebh is so adorable with her huge eyes and even bigger mane, you just can’t take your eyes off her! This movie is simply magical… there’s a mesmerizing quality in its stunning, ethereal animation style, where each frame is rendered in such impeccable details. But it’s not just hollow beauty, but it’s also a deep, touching story celebrating unity and friendship. I think this movie also feels timeless, one that both kids and adults can enjoy for years to come.

6. Nomadland

I’m waiting to post my full review of this until close to its release in mid February. If you get a chance to see this on the big screen, do so as the visuals is really quite stunning. A beautiful piece of Americana as a woman embark on a journey through the American West… seen through the eyes of an immigrant. Like Chloe Zhao‘s previous film The Rider, it’s a deeply immersive and mesmerizing film. Frances McDormand is wonderful in a quiet, reflective role and she’s really believable as a modern-day nomad. Zhao mixes award-winning actors (David Strathairn plays a supporting role) with non-actors in a pretty seamless way. In an era where there’s so much constant noise online, it’s so refreshing to watch a  quiet film that allows you to ruminate on the themes presented on screen.

8. Sylvie’s Love

Confession: After I saw this film, I honestly didn’t think it’d end up on my best-of-the-year list. Even though I find it beautiful and swoon-worthy, but there’s something wanting, which I’ll go into more details in my review (currently still in my draft folder). At the same time, as a fan of romance dramas, there’s a lot to like and even admire in this film… Tessa Thompson is simply luminous as a romantic lead and newcomer Nnamdi Asomugha is wonderful in the title role. I wish Hollywood makes more romance films like this one–not a rom-com or tragic romance, but an escapist love story that’s still grounded in the reality of its time.

8. News Of The World

There are few actors working today as reliable as Tom Hanks. I hadn’t heard of this film before I was provided with a screener. It turns out to be Hanks’ first Western, which is surprising to me as he seems to be a fan of the genre (I remember hearing him tell a story of Clint Eastwood treating his actors like horses on many talk shows, thanks to his experience doing a Western). This is another winning collaboration between him and Paul Greengrass since Captain Phillips, who’s also never done a Western before. I was also incredibly impressed by young German actress Helena Zengel who was able to match Hanks’ intensity here, which is quite a feat considering the film consist mostly just the two of them.

9. The Life Ahead

One of the most notable comeback in recent memory… though it’s actually only my second time watching a Sophia Loren‘s movie. This movie was directed by Loren’s own son, Edoardo Ponti, a remake of a French film Madame Rosa (1977). Loren plays an woman running a daycare service living in a seaside town of Bari in Southern Italy. She strikes an unlikely friendship with a Senegalese boy Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) who she reluctantly took in. I have my review in the draft folder, so I won’t say much more, but it’s easily one of my favorite films I saw in 2020.

10. Mr. Jones (full review)

It’s too bad so few people talked about this movie, as it’s one of the most memorable historical drama in recent memory. Superbly directed by Agnieszka Holland from a script by Andrea Chalupa, whose own grandfather suffered the Holodomor, the man-made famine-genocide in Ukraine ordered by Stalin in early 1930s that killed many Ukranians. I’ve loved James Norton‘s work in many British period dramas, so I was thrilled to see him in a lead role and he’s more than capable portraying real life Welsh journalist Gareth Jones. It’s eerie that Jones suffered similar fate as Jamal Khashoggi for bravely exposed the truth, which put him in direct opposition with a powerful government leader.


15 Honorable Mentions

There’s no ‘science’ in picking a top 10 list… mostly just gut instinct and personal preference. Some of the movies here I like very, very much and I have actually enjoyed more than the ones on my main top 10. Some I appreciate but I don’t really feel like watching it again.

(in alphabetical order)

  1. Bad Education
  2. The Banker
  3. Emma (full review)
  4. Enola Holmes (full review)
  5. The Gentlemen
  6. The High Note 
  7. Just Mercy (full review)
  8. The Nest (full review)
  9. The Old Guard (full review)
  10. Onward
  11. Radioactive (full review)
  12. The Social Dilemma (full review)
  13. TENET (full review)
  14. Uncle Frank (full review)
  15. Wander Darkly (full review)

Well, what do you think of my Top 10 list? Any of your favorites on the list?

3 new Netflix movies I can’t wait to see this month

I guess it’s no longer a surprise that Netflix has become such a studio behemoth, but now I’ve found myself anticipating Netflix movies as much as those from other studios. I mean it’s free anyway since I have the subscription and with movie theaters closed, obviously more studios have decided to release their movies on streaming.

Well, thanks to Wiki, there’s quite a list of movies coming in 2021, but it’s only January so I’m just focusing on the ones coming out in the next two months. I have blogged about The Dig, starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, so I’m not going to mention it again here. Action, crime thrillers, emotional drama, comedy, romance… there are definitely something for everyone here.

Outside the Wire

Releases January 15

In the near future, a drone pilot sent into a war zone finds himself paired with a top-secret android officer on a mission to stop a nuclear attack.

My first thought when I first saw this was… ‘So Falcon now becomes even more powerful than Captain America!’ He won’t be needing the shield as as a cyborg. Not clear how becomes an android officer, but he obviously still looks and sound very human and the character tells the drone pilot that he still feels more than you think. Well, it looks intriguing enough, and I like Anthony Mackie so this should be worth a look. The movie also stars British actor Damson Idris and Danish actor Pilou Asbæk, and directed by Swedish director Mikael Håfström (Escape Plan, The Rite).

The White Tiger

Releases January 22, 2021

The epic journey of a poor Indian driver who must use his wit and cunning to break free from servitude to his rich masters and rise to the top of the heap.

This one is based on a debut novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, an Indian-Australian writer and journalist, which won the 2008 Man Booker Prize. I’m intrigued partly by the director, Ramin Bahrani who made the excellent drama 99 Homes. This one also deals with a similar theme of a down-on-his-luck person rising up to power, escaping from the life he was born to. It looks more like a dark comedy than a heavy crime drama, starring Adarsh Gourav, Rajkumar Rao and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas. Queen’s I Want to Break Free is quite an interesting choice that’s somehow perfect for the trailer.

Penguin Bloom

Releases January 27, 2021

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film tells the story of Sam Bloom a young mother whose world is turned upside down after a shocking, near-fatal accident leaves her paralyzed. Sam’s husband, her three young boys and her mother are struggling to adjust to their new situation when an unlikely ally enters their world in the form of an injured baby magpie they name Penguin.

This one is also based on a novel AND a real life story. Honestly, I’m usually not too keen on sad movies and this one definitely looks like a tearjerker. After watching the trailer though, I’m curious enough to give it a shot. I haven’t seen Naomi Watts in anything lately, though it seems like I’ve seen her in similar role like this one. Looks like this one is an Australian production, with an Aussie filmmaker and mostly actors from Down Under: Watts, Jacki Weaver and Rachel House who’s from New Zealand. Andrew Lincoln is British though, nice to see him take a break from all the Walking Dead projects. I’ll be sure to have tissues handy when I watch this one.


What do you think of this lineup? Is there one you’re looking forward to seeing?

Thursday Movie Picks 2021: Oscar Winners Edition – Best Picture

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy first full week of 2021! It’s also the first TMP of the week. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Oscar Winners Edition – Best Picture.

Well, Oscar nominations isn’t coming out until March 15 this year, but naturally Oscar talks have already begun and film fans are likely making their predictions already. For this Best Picture edition however, I thought I’d take a walk down memory lane and pick from three different genres released in three different decades. I’m also picking those that I actually enjoy watching more than once.

In any case, here are my three picks:

The Sound of Music – 1965

Directed by Robert Wise

I’ve mentioned this a few times on this blog that this is one of the three VHS my late mother brought home from a European trip when I was in my early teens, which also marks my introduction to big Hollywood movies. The other two are also Oscar Best Picture winners: Gone with the Wind and My Fair Lady. 

I’ve since watched The Sound of Music at least a dozen times. I know a few of the songs by heart to this day, and there’s such a timeless quality to the story and obviously the music. Irwin Kostal also won an Oscar for Best Music in this movie, his second one after scoring West Side Story a few years prior. Well, both of the lead actors are still working today. In fact, it’s quite amusing to hear Dame Julie Andrews’ voice in Bridgerton series as Lady Whistledown.

Fun Trivia:

Christopher Plummer accidentally said the word “Captain” to Julie Andrews during the argument scene. Despite the error, producer and director Robert Wise thought it was that amusing, and liked it so much, he kept it in the movie.


Forrest Gump (1994)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

I actually haven’t seen this one in a while but I’ve definitely seen it at least 2-3 times. It’s crazy that this movie is 26 years old already and Tom Hanks is still one of the best and most prolific actors working today. This is easily one of Hanks’ most memorable performance even in his illustrious career filled with indelible characters. It’s also one of the most quotable movies, some hilarious and some profound. It’s nice to see a character like Forrest Gump being such a popular icon… an earnest, good-to-the-bone human being that’s lacking any kind of malice, you could say he’s the modern day George Bailey.

Fun Trivia:
Tom Hanks signed onto this film after an hour and a half of reading the script, but agreed to take the role only on the condition that the film was historically accurate. He initially wanted to ease Forrest’s pronounced Southern accent, but was eventually persuaded by Robert Zemeckis to portray the heavy accent stressed in the novel, and he patterned his accent after Michael Conner Humphreys (young Forrest), who actually spoke that way.


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Directed by Peter Jackson

It’s quite rare for a big franchise film to get an Oscar nomination and this one won 11 Oscars, rivaling Titanic and Ben-Hur, the latter is one of my all time favorites. I actually think The Two Towers is as good if not better, which was also nominated for Oscar’s Best Picture. The Battle of Helm’s Deep is perhaps one of the most amazing battle scenes ever filmed. But of course, The Return of the King is a spectacular end to the trilogy, with Aragorn leading the forces of good against Sauron’s evil army. This was the first fantasy film to ever win Best Picture. It’s still a rarity for fantasy films to nab the award, though The Shape of Water did win Best Picture in 2017.

Fun Trivia:

The last shot of principal photography was when the newly-crowned Aragorn bows to the four Hobbits. Although Viggo Mortensen did not need to be on-set for that day, he nevertheless insisted on attending. He didn’t have a crown (it wasn’t necessary, he wasn’t being filmed), so he fashioned one out of paper. With each successive take, the crown was becoming more ornate and sillier as crew members kept decorating it, so the four actors playing the Hobbits often had difficulty suppressing their giggles.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?