Thursday Movie Picks #300: Movies About Animals

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. 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… MOVIES ABOUT ANIMALS.

There are SO many to choose from in this category… covering multiple genres, so I’m choosing one that’s live-action, classic hand-drawn animation and stop-motion/claymation, all from 3 different studios.

BABE (1995)

Gentle farmer Arthur Hoggett wins a piglet named Babe at a county fair. Narrowly escaping his fate as Christmas dinner when Farmer Hoggett decides to show him at the next fair, Babe bonds with motherly border collie Fly and discovers that he can herd sheep too.

This movie was released in theaters in 1995, which was the year of the pig. Did you know that Mad Max director George Miller wrote and produced this? It took him ten years to bring the story to the screen was because he was waiting for the special effects technology to catch up with his vision for the film. It ended up winning Best Visual Effects at the Oscars in 1996.

I remember loving it when I first watched it and even to this day I sometimes still quote its most famous line…

That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

Who doesn’t love an underdog story, farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) believed in the little piglet (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) against all odds. Such a heartwarming story that still gets me teared up, especially this scene!


A Bug’s Life (1998)

A misfit ant, looking for “warriors” to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe.

There are a few really good animal-themed Pixar movies but I chose this one as it’s the first one in that category, right after their smash hit Toy Story. I loooove this movie about ants, filled with so many wonderful characters and the animation itself is just gorgeous! I LOVE Dave Foley‘s voice as Flik, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Princess Atta, and a bunch of rag tag group of adorable bugs (my personal fave is David Hyde Pierce as Slim).

It’s such a brilliant, clever and hilarious movie that I think is still one of Pixar’s all time best. An epic in miniature proportion indeed!


Chicken Run (2000)

When a cockerel apparently flies into a chicken farm, the chickens see him as an opportunity to escape their evil owners.

From the genius minds of Peter Lord & Nick Park of Aardman Studios, this is one of my all time favorite animated movies. It’s just so hysterical, even the shapes of the chicken claymation always makes me giggle!

I absolutely adore the characters, especially Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha, who’s hilarious in Absolutely Fabulous series) and Mel Gibson is inspired choice as the voice of Rocky, the rebellious rooster. There’s even a fun reverence to Braveheart when he yelled FREEEEEEEEEEEEDOM! when he escaped out of the circus, ha!

This movie is just SO much fun and a brilliant homage of The Great Escape (1963), even the music by Harry Gregson-Williams & John Powell sounds similar to the Steve McQueen movie.

To this day I’m still quoting the ‘I don’t want to be a pie’ line! 🥧


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

Happy 51st Birthday Paul Rudd! My favorite Ant-Man scenes in the MCU

Apparently today’s Paul Rudd‘s birthday! Can you believe it this guy is 51 years old!! He doesn’t look a day over 30. Like Keanu Reeves, there must be a secret fountain of youth these guys ought to tell us!

I was reading a bit about Paul Rudd, as I don’t really know much about him. Here are a few interesting facts about the New Jersey-born actor.

  • His parents were born in the United Kingdom, his father from Edgware and his mother from Surbiton, both in London.
  • When he was ten, Rudd’s family moved to Lenexa, Kansas. His family also spent three years living in Anaheim, California, because of his father’s occupation as a historical tour guide.
  • Rudd spent three months studying Jacobean drama at the British American Drama Academy based in Oxford, U.K.
  • He made his acting debut in 1992 with NBC’s drama series Sisters – (first time I saw Rudd was in Clueless)
  • In 2003, Rudd married Julie Yaeger and the couple has two children: a son, Jack Sullivan, and a daughter, Darby.
  • Rudd reveals fans still ask him about his Clueless days more than any other role.

*Thanks to Useless Daily, Facinate for the trivia info


Rudd’s definitely one of my favorite actors in the MCU. He’s just so perfect and fun to watch as Ant-Man. I enjoyed both films, though my favorite scenes of Ant-Man is actually in Captain America: Civil War

… especially this one when he first meeting–and geeking out over–Steve Rogers 😀 I literally always rewind THAT scene more than anything else in that movie!

I know you know lots of super people… so thinks for thanking of me…


… and that epic and hilarious airport battle scene w/ giant Ant-Man!!

“O..kay tiny dude is big now, he’s big now”


What’s YOUR favorite Paul Rudd role(s)?

BEST OF THE DECADE: 20 Best Soundtracks of the 2010s

Happy #NationalFilmScoreDay!

How fitting that I have this list on my draft folder, and it’s definitely the perfect day to post the film score edition of my Best of the Decade list. Soundtracks is one of my all time fave music genres and there’s been soundtracks done in the past ten years that’ve become my all time favorites.

For the most part, these are instrumental scores, though in a couple of cases, the soundtracks are composed of songs by various artists, i.e. The Greatest Showman, so I’m posting my fave song of the soundtrack. Just like my best-of-decade, there are a few on my list from the same composer, i.e. Hans Zimmer and Henry Jackman. Some of these highlight my favorite track, but some are picked at random as I generally enjoy the entire soundtrack.

So without further ado, here are my picks in the order of the film’s year of release:

How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – John Powell

Inception (2010) – Hans Zimmer

TRON: Legacy (2010) – Daft Punk

X-Men: First Class (2011) – Henry Jackman

Skyfall (2012) – Thomas Newman

Belle (2013) – Rachel Portman

Gravity (2013) – Steven Price

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Henry Jackman

Interstellar (2014) – Hans Zimmer

Age Of Adaline (2015) – Rob Simonsen

Cinderella (2015) – Patrick Doyle

Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) – Craig Armstrong

Mad Max Fury Road (2015) – Junkie XL

Sicario (2015) Jóhann Jóhannsson

La La Land (2016) – Justin Hurwitz

Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (2016) – Fernando Velázquez

Sing Street (2016) – Various

Performed by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo
Composed by Gary Clark (of Danny Wilson band)

The Greatest Showman (2017) – John Debney + Joseph Trapanese (score), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (songs)

Performed by Michelle Williams
Composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Black Panther (2018) – Ludwig Göransson

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) – Various

Performed by: Lily James
Composed by: ABBA


Hope you enjoy my list. Now it’s your turn, what’s some of your favorite soundtracks of the past decade?

Musings on Netflix’s TIGER KING docuseries + Fan Casting the scripted version

Hello all! Hope you’re staying safe and well while staying home and  social distancing. Given everyone is cooped up inside, we’re all captive audience to whatever the streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. are offering. Like many of you, my hubby and I couldn’t help but watch the Netflix docu series TIGER KING, inevitably the most popular show on TV right now since its debut on March 20 (per Variety) and it’s got 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes too!

A rivalry between big cat eccentrics takes a dark turn when Joe Exotic, a controversial animal park boss, is caught in a murder-for-hire plot.

It’s not the kind of shows I typically watch, but then again there’s nothing typical about what goes on these days. To say reality is stranger than fiction is an understatement when it comes to this show. It’s one of those shows you have to watch just to see how bizarre it is, it truly defies explanations and at times even seems too outrageous to be true! But I bet filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin would say, ‘can’t make these stuff up!’ Right from its first episode, we already got a warning of sort… “Animal people are nuts…” then someone else said ‘monkey people are strange’… but they’re nothing compared to those who love tigers/lions, etc. “…the big cat people are backstabbing pieces of ***.” Normally you’d take such generalizations as hyberbole, but after seeing this doc, well maybe there’s some truth to that!

Take the man in the center, the Tiger King himself, now widely known as Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage (born Joe Schreibvogel), the self-proclaimed gay, gun-toting redneck is a polygamist, one time presidential AND gubernatorial candidate, and is currently serving 22 years in prison in a murder-for-hire plot, among others. This tweet says it all…

The documentary was filmed within a 5-year span and takes place primarily at what was called Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park (named after Joe’s late brother), which has since been renamed Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park under new owner, Jeff Lowe. Some would argue that Lowe ‘stole’ the zoo from Joe, which is just one of the many things that went south after Joe met the Las Vegas businessman. In any case, Joe is just one of a dozen extremely eccentric big-cat owners and their consorts/employees, etc. When you think something can’t get any more outlandish, comes another mystifying character that defies explanations!

As if the tragic accident weren’t scary and bizarre enough, the reaction of the zoo’s owner, yep, Joe Exotic himself, will make your head spin!! I’m not going to spoil it for you, it’s best that you experience it for yourself.

Most of the players of the doc series are male, but the women are just as memorable and well, peculiar. There’s Carole Baskin, Joe’s main nemesis who runs Big Cat Rescue nonprofit organization. She’s the one who’s been trying to shut down the big-cat breeders, and she seems to target Joe Exotic in particular. If you think tigers/lions fighting in the wild is ferocious, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Carole’s current husband Howard calls her the ‘Mother Teresa of Big Cats’ Oy, not even close. Honestly I have no idea just what the difference is between Joe’s zoo and what Baskin deems as a ‘sanctuary to many exotic cats’ when the animals are still held captive and not running out in the wild as they’re supposed to. I’m astonished why there hasn’t been any Big Cats Safety Act or similar regulations passed yet?? I have always been against people owning exotic animals and keeping them in their home (or in any kind of captivity), so if there’s any good takeaway from this show, it would be to raise awareness about animal cruelty and participate in the fight to stop them.

Oh, in addition to all the dramas surrounding big cats, there’s also a murder/missing person mystery here! Episode 3 basically focused on Carole’s first husband, Don Lewis’ disappearance that still remains unsolved. Despite all kinds of rumors and speculations, Carole has never been charged with any crime. He went missing in 1997, but since this doc series aired, the case has now been reopened (per Tampabay.com)

Truly, this show is not for the faint of hearts and it’s definitely NOT for younger kids, I’d say it’s a hard R rating because of all the foul language and some REALLY disturbing images, particularly when Joe went off on his fantasy on how he’d like to kill Carole. Though I believe the reason Joe went to jail was partly because he was setup by people who outsmarted him, his infantile and repugnant behavior surely incriminated him in the case.


Well apparently there’s already a scripted version in the works, not sure if it’ll be a miniseries or a film. According to this article, the one that’s reportedly optioned for a limited series already case Kate McKinnon as Carole Baskin. Hmmm, as much as I think Kate is hilarious, I’m not sure she’s the best actress for the part.

So hey, as an indie casting director/filmmaker myself, I can’t help but do my own dream-casting of the scripted series/movie just for the fun of it!

If you’ve seen the film, you probably don’t need to see the slideshow, but in case you haven’t, or as a reminder…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So here’s my casting picks:

Joe Exotic – Michael Keaton

Carole Baskin – Julianne Moore/Amanda Seyfried

Howard Baskin – Jeff Goldblum

Doc Antle – Russell Crowe/Tim Robbins

Erik Cowie – Alexander Skarsgard

John Finlay – Tom Hardy/Shia LaBeouf

Mario Tabraue – John Turturo/Nic Cage

Jeff Lowe – Sean Penn/Jeremy Renner

James Garretson – Louis Anderson

Barbara Fisher – Linda Cardellini/Jenna Fischer

John Reinke – Alan Arkin

Travis Maldonado – Noah Centenio

Kelci Saffery – Alex Borstein

Josh Dial – Josh Gad

Tim Stark – Ben Mendehlson 

Allen Glover – Chris Cooper/Stephen Lang

Rick Kirkham – Billy Bob Thornton/Steve Buschemi

Anne McQueen – Melissa Leo


Have you seen TIGER CATS? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the doc series and/or your own casting picks!

#BingeWatch: WESTWORLD season 2 – An Appreciation

One of the positive things about being quarantined is you’ve got the luxury of time to catch up on some of my favorite shows. I LOVED the first season of WESTWORLD when it premiered in 2018. My hubby and I finally finished season 2 Thursday night and of course I’m still thinking about it. I’m surprised I didn’t have nightmares of Halores, ahah. If you’ve seen season 2 you know what that means!

It’s truly one of the most bizarre, inventive, meta, enthralling, and addictive shows I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. It’s perhaps the trippiest show, which is made all the more discombobulating given the non-linear timeline. In fact, one of the most fun things after binging shows like Westworld is consuming ALL of the articles, theories, explanations, etc. because truly, this is the kind of shows you want to pick apart and discuss endlessly with fellow fans.

Thanks to this Insider article, I can make some sense of the timeline of the show, I said some because everything is still trippy AF and you never really know which part is real. I also love how the show keeps us guessing who’s actually human and who’s a host, aka robot.

If you haven’t caught up with season 2 yet, here’s the trailer to wet your appetite… it took me waaay too long to finally catch up with it, but it’s so well worth the wait!!

There are SO many things to appreciate about this show… so consider this an appreciation post.

The Score & Opening Credits

I absolutely love is Ramin Djawadi‘s haunting score and this stunning opening credits! TV shows have really upped their game in creating truly beautiful and memorable opening credits, but I consider Westworld’s music and graphics one of the most innovative. It truly fits the tone and eerie, mystical vibe of the show itself.

 

Genre-crossing brilliance

We’ve seen countless human vs robots movies/shows but I think Westworld still sets itself apart because it can bridge multiple different genres – this season it shows there are other parts of the theme park explored, there’s the Raj as in the British Raj period in the Indian subcontinent, Ghost Nation with the Native American tribe and Shogünworld that’s modeled after Japan’s feudal Edo period.

I was just in Disney World in early March (yup, right before there was any COVID-19 cases reported in Florida!) and it’s eerie to imagine if a theme park like this exist… man, even just thinking about it gives me the chills!

The Production Values

This show has got to be a dream not just for the cast to work with, but the crew! The ultimate sci-fi western mixing gunslinging & futuristic, lifelike androids. In every episode I’m constantly in awe of the production design that sometimes it’s distracting! I love the juxtaposition between the desert landscape of the Old West and the super high-tech, space-age technologies with its cutting edge gadgetry, weaponry… and of course the ‘host’ aka robot-building mechanisms. After all, most of the technologies and concepts explored in the series are not only totally plausible in the near future (check out this Venturebeat article), some like 3D printing, intelligent machines, etc. are already here.

I love the BTS featurettes on how the filmmakers built the stunning world of Westworld, and these two on the sets and how they created those creepy-looking drone hosts (which are actually costumes that actors wear)… fascinating stuff!

Thought-provoking concept

The show-runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have really upped the ante and took this show to a whole different level from the 1973 movie version, directed by its own writer Michael Crichton. I haven’t seen the movie but I can’t imagine I’d enjoy it after seeing this phenomenal series. But the idea of a futuristic theme park where visitors can live out their wildest fantasies without any consequences is inherently intriguing… of course we all know everything comes with a price, and not all of it is monetary.

The running theme of ‘what is real’ and of course, ‘what it means to be human’ is at the core of every good science fiction… and that’s why I love this conversation between Dolores and Bernard, further blurring the lines between fantasy & reality, constantly flipping the roles between the creator and the creation… these scenarios that could potentially make one question one’s own existence!

What separates humans from robots is our mortality. Most of humans vs droids stories usually focus on the bots wanting to be like humans, to break free from the codes and human control as they’re often created to serve us. But what if there’s a twist? The series explores a grandiose concept that perhaps it’s the humans who want to be like the bots, to be able to live forever.

The Riddle of the Sphinx is an especially eerie one with plenty of philosophical speeches to ponder. Immortality is an often-told concept and seemingly a constant humans’ obsession with trying to cure death. I guess this is a ‘disease’ for the wealthy… I mean, no matter how much money one has, they still only have the same normal life span like the rest of us. Of course that doesn’t stop many companies in reversing the course of aging and offering us ways to ‘cheat death.’ We certainly don’t need any tv show, no matter how brilliant, to tell us it’s futile and playing God has dire consequences.

Great actor Peter Mullan as James Delos

Humans aren’t meant to live forever, let’s drink to that, shall we?

Speaking of living forever… reading this Vulture article where a futurist discuss the plausibility of AI developing consciousness in our world today is pretty eerie. Now, since we are all now living under a global pandemic and self-quarantining to save our lives, I thought about if something like Coronavirus were to happen in Westworld and spreading throughout the vast areas of the park… well, wouldn’t it be the end of humanity as we know it? I mean, as humans would start dropping like flies, the bots would live on as they’re obviously immune to organic viruses. It would be catastrophic not just for the park, but the world beyond.

Westworld Season 2 MVPs

I might do a separate blog just to talk about the cast. Man it’s really tough to pick just one as this show thrives on a talented, eclectic ensemble of phenomenal actors! It’d be too easy to pick

Ok for the sake of an argument, I’ll go with these two.

Thandie Newton – Maeve

It’s always clear from season one that Maeve Millay, a brothel madam in the local Mariposa Saloon, is much more than meets the eye. I knew she’s a special host, but just how special is she? Well, season 2 explores that brilliantly, boasting Thandie’s best performance yet. The kind of host never to trifle with and in the Akane No Mai episode in Shogünworld she proves just how mighty Maeve can be. I’m not going into details for spoiler sake, but when it happened I literally gasped! There’s also a scene where she finally get to humiliate one of her creators for constantly degrading her fellow robots, it’s one of the show’s funniest moments. Let’s just say he finally got his comeuppance.

Zahn McClarnon – Akecheta

While some sites have said the Kiksuya (which means “remember” in Lakota) is the best episode of season 2. That might be debatable, but I’d think it’s the most emotional one, which is quite a feat considering the episode consist almost entirely of expository flashback. Zahn McClarnon delivers an absolutely moving performance as Akecheta, delivering a monologue to a young child (in Lakota language no less), telling his story of his lost love and how he came to figure out just what kind of world he’s been living in. That whole bit of ‘take my heart when you go’ could’ve come out so mawkish and schmaltzy, but his performance holds it together and really made you care. It seems the show, just like the park’s creator Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins), is pro-host, and when you have character like Akecheta, it’s easy to see why.


Season 3 – beyond the park

Season 3 has started on HBO, and boy the trailer looks freaking amazing!! I’ve been waiting to see just what would happen if the hosts goes into the real, human world that they’ve been forbidden to enter. I’m salivating but I’d rather wait until all episodes are available as I prefer to binge on shows, I mean I find it torturous to have to wait a whole week to see what’s next!

Right now, I’m actually still reading all kinds of stuff about season 2! So if you have some great articles about it (NO SPOILERS for season 3 please!), please do share!

Have you seen WESTWORLD season 2? Let me know your thoughts!

11 New Movies Available to Stream Early

Wow, I have to admit, though I knew things would probably get worse before it gets better, it still feels surreal. Who knew I’d live through a pandemic in my lifetime… seriously, life is definitely as strange, if not stranger, than fiction these days.

I just got an email from my manager that my company’s mandatory WFH (working from home) has been extended through April 24, about a month from the original March 27 date. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Well, surely we are not going to our local cineplex anytime soon. I read this article on THR today that this is the weekend when box office hit zero for the first time. Wow! I think this marquee on Minneapolis Uptown Theater says it best. #wellplayed

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Awesome FB page

But not everything is all doom and gloom. If you enjoy watching movies in the comfort of your home, plenty of movies that are currently in theaters, some even forgoing theatrical release altogether, are/will be available to stream early.

To make it easy for you, here is a list of 11 movies (this number will likely increase in the coming weeks) that you can watch either now or in a week or so.

Note: Some of them are available for purchase only, not rent.

The Gentlemen (my review)

Original Release Date: Jan. 24
Digital Release: March 24

I enjoyed seeing Guy Ritchie‘s star-studded crime thriller back in February, I just might rewatch it again once it’s available for rental.

Birds of Prey

Original Release Date: Feb. 7
Digital Release: Available for purchase March 24, rental in early April.

This movie grossed close to $200 mil worldwide, though with a budget of $84 mil, they likely could use a boost from digital release sales. This is one of three female-led, female-directed comic book movies coming out in 2020, the two others are Wonder Woman 1984 directed by Patty Jenkins and Black Widow directed by Cate Shortland. I sure hope we’ll get to see Wonder Woman in June, though it just might be postponed just like Black Widow that’s supposed to come out in May.*

* Wonder Woman will now be released on August 14! (updated Wed, 3/25)

Anyway, I had missed this one in the theaters, so I can finally watch it in a few weeks!

Sonic the Hedgehog

Original Release Date: Feb. 14
Digital Release: You can purchase this video game adaptation on March 31.

Surely those with kids will be all over this one, surely G and PG movies will be super popular since the kiddos don’t have school to go to, some likely for the rest of the year!

Emma (my review)

Original Release Date: Feb. 21
Digital Release: March 20 – Available as a 48-hour rental through numerous providers: Apple, Amazon, GooglePlay, Vudu, DirectTV, Fandango, etc.

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen or period drama in general, this rom-com offers a delightful escape–to the lush English countryside–from self-quarantine (even if you do live in an English countryside, I think it’s still fun to watch this, ha!)

The Invisible Man

Original Release Date: Feb. 28
Digital Release: March 20 – Available as a 48-hour rental through numerous providers: Apple, Amazon, GooglePlay, XFinity, DirectTV, Fandango, etc.

This film based on H.G. Wells’ classic was originally going to be a part of the Dark Universe, with Johnny Depp starring as the titular character, but the whole idea was reworked after the box office failure of The Mummy (2017). I barely remembered Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon in the titular role, but this one got a pretty decent review so I might check it out at some point.

Onward

Original Release Date: March 6
Digital Release: Available on VOD March 20 & streaming on Disney+ April 3

Some people have called this Frozen for boys, ahah. That seems rather sexist to me since plenty of girls would enjoy stories about brothers, but whatever. The trailer of Pixar’s latest, featuring the voices of fellow Avengers Tom Holland and Chris Pratt looks pretty charming. We all could use something fun and uplifting given the dire state of the world we’re living right now.

The Way Back

Original Release Date: March 6
Digital Release: March 24 – Available for digital purchase download

This film did have a couple of weeks theatrical release before the pandemic forced states to close cineplexes. Sounds like a personal film for Ben Affleck who plays a high school basketball coach dealing with alcoholism.

The Hunt

Original Release Date: March 13
Digital Release: March 20 – It’s currently available to rent in 48-hour viewing windows for the price of $19.99, via a wide variety of on-demand services, including iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and FandangoNow.

This satirical horror movie has gone through pretty extensive delays. It was supposed to come out on September 2019, but its theatrical release was delayed all the way to March 13 in the wake of several mass shootings and political controversy. I just might rent it just to see what the fuss is about.

Bloodshot

Original Release Date: March 13
Digital Release: Tuesday, March 24.

You might have to wait a whole year to watch Fast and Furious 9, but if it’s any consolation for you Vin Diesel fans out there, Bloodshot will be available to purchase today for the retail price of $19.99.

I Still Believe

Original Release Date: March 13
Digital Release: March 27

I’m actually familiar with Christian music star Jeremy Camp and remember that he lost his wife to cancer. This film chronicled his journey of love and loss that looks to prove there is always hope. It stars New Zealand actor KJ Apa as Camp and Britt Robertson as his young love Melissa Henning. I haven’t seen I Can Only Imagine which is about Mercy Me’s frontman Bart Millard, so it’d likely make a perfect double feature viewing!

Love Birds

Original Release Date: April 3 (theatrical)
Digital Release: April 3 (Netflix)

Per The Verge, this comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, marks the first time during this period that a studio movie (Paramount) lost its theatrical release and will head straight to a third-party streamer — Netflix. I wonder how many other movie will follow suit and head straight to a streaming platform.


Which of these have you seen and/or planning to watch soon?

What I’ve Been Watching During Self-Quarantine

Hello everyone! Happy Friday! Hope all of you are coping as well as can be expected during this strange and difficult time. My hubby and I have been working from home this past week until the end of the month, who knows it could be longer. Despite all this, I’m counting my blessings and keeping my spirits high as we ride out this Coronavirus pandemic!

Well, thank goodness we live in a world where we have streaming services available! These in-home entertainment helps during a time where social distancing has become the new normal. We have been watching a lot more shows/movies since we have been cooped up at home. I saw on TV Guide that some streaming services even extended their FREE TRIAL to 30 days!

So last weekend I binged on …

BEECHAM HOUSE

I’ve been a huge fan of Tom Bateman and had been waiting for quite some time for this UK show to finally make it to the US! It’s not available on broadcast, but I had joined PBS Passport member in order to watch Sanditon a month ago, so I’m thrilled this one’s finally available to watch in early March!

A look at the lives of residents living in a Delhi mansion during the cusp of 19th century.

Check out the trailer…

Set in the 1795, amidst the clashing forces of British and French militaries and the decline of the centuries-old Mughal Empire. It’s billed as Downton Abbey India, and it’s also got Lesley Nicol who played Downton’s longtime cook Mrs. Patmore, this time she’s playing one of the masters of the house as the protagonist John Beecham’s mother. Bateman is perfect as John, the conflicted former soldier who’s left the ruthless East India Company and made a living as an art trader.

I’m a big fan of filmmaker Gurinder Chadha as well, the creator of the show. I love that Beecham House is partly filmed in the UK and India, the sets in the latter is especially sumptuous, all the costumes, set pieces, actors, etc. all lend to authenticity of the show. Not to mention the opulent house itself with its magnificent details. I love the diverse cast, too! I’ve been crushing on Tom Bateman for some time (he’s terrific in Vanity Fair) and here, his charismatic yet mysterious presence has proven himself ready to be a major leading man.

Glad to see Leo Suter once again after seeing him in Sanditon… thankfully he’s got more screen presence on this show as I had complained how wasted his talents was there. He’s proven to be a versatile actor as his character is quite different from Sanditon, but I definitely fancy him more as a bit of a rascal! The Indian actors are equally fascinating. Pallavi Sharda and Shriya Pilgaonkar are both stunning as two headstrong ladies who refuse to be a shrinking violet (I say that as the English woman named Violet here is a rather silly woman). I love Viveik Kalra in Blinded By The Light, here he’s playing the house caretaker who’s loyal to John Beecham. I hope to see more of him in future projects!

I might dedicate a blog post for this show, but for now, let’s just say it’s absolutely binge-worthy!


The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science

If you like documentaries, here’s one you should check out. It’s particularly intriguing to me because I live just an hour away from Rochester where the Mayo clinic is, but given their impact all over the world, it’s worth learning about just how they got started. It’s truly inspiring stuff!


Yesterday I wanted to see something light and funny, so we watched The Secret Life of Pets 2 on Netflix. It wasn’t as funny as the original, but still entertaining for the most part. My favorite bit is the one with the farm shepherd dog Rooster voiced by Harrison Ford. He’s so perfect for the part, a grumpy, adventurous veteran who’s teaching the city dog Max on how to overcome fear.


Thanks to that TV Guide link, I can finally watch this show on SundanceNow!

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

Diana Bishop, historian and witch, accesses Ashmole 782 and knows she must solve its mysteries. She is offered help by the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, but he’s a vampire and witches should never trust vampires.

 

It’s been around since 2018 and I remember really wanting to watch it when I saw the trailer… I mean hello, Matthew Goode!! 😍He sure makes one heck of a sexy vampire, oh la la! Interesting that the series about vampires and witches are set in the field of academia, Oxford University to be exact, and it’s actually filmed on location in various parts of the world… Oxfordshire, Scotland, and Venice. It’s definitely a great escapism for the time being since we cannot be physically traveling to any of those countries until this outbreak dies down.

I quite like Aussie actress Teresa Palmer as well, interestingly enough the first time I saw her in was in Warm Bodies, a zombie comedy. She must have a thing for movies about the undead. She looks so much like Kristen Stewart too, and she’s on that massively popular vampire movies. Apparently this one is also based on a novel, The All Souls Trilogy, by a woman writer, Deborah Harkness. I wonder why they didn’t just keep that title, , rather than what the have now that’s so long and clunky.

I’ve seen four episodes so far as of today, and I like it more and more. Story-wise, there’s enough going for it to keep me watching… there’s the enigma and mystery surrounding the Congregation which is comprised of representations of demons, vampires and witches (though the person who takes care of the location is a human, ha!)… and these species live under some strict rules.

The acting is a bit uneven, but the two leads Goode and Palmer are great and they have a good chemistry. An important factor given the core of the story is a forbidden romance, a bit like Romeo + Juliet but with warring species, not just families. I do have some issues with directing choices and the use of modern songs that kind of cheapen the show a bit, it just doesn’t jibe with the elegance of the setting. Oh, and what’s with these vampires not being affected by sunlight or even Crucifixes, and they go about like humans in their daily activity… eating, drinking, playing with their cellphones, etc. Seems all too convenient to me since they can live for hundreds of years!

In any case, I have four more to go in season 1, and I just learned that season 2 has been greenlit but according to this article, they have wrapped filming. But given some of the filming is in Italy, there might be a major delay if they have to do some more shooting done over there given the Covid-19 situation.


So that’s just a sampling of what I’ve been watching the past week and a half… 

How about you? What have YOU been watching during self quarantine?