FlixChatter Review: The Father (2021)

I first heard of The Father (Le Père) when I saw the stage play a few years ago. The play was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and adapted by Christopher Hampton. Zeller teamed up with Hampton once again who wrote the screenplay for the film, and this film became his feature directorial debut. In the play, the Father character is actually called André, but he renamed him Anthony as he wanted Anthony Hopkins specifically for the part. Well, I’m glad Hopkins didn’t turn down the role as he truly was astounding in the role as a headstrong man who’s losing his grip on reality due to dementia.

The film started in a similar fashion as the play, with Anthony complaining to his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) that his watch has been stolen by his caregiver. Despite his daughter’s insistence that he’s only just misplaced it in the cupboard, Anthony refuses to believe her. There’s something wildly amusing in their banters, as Anthony is often quick with a joke even when he’s on edge. Anne meanwhile, is clearly concerned of her father’s deteriorating mind… it’s as if the more severe her dad’s cognitive decline, the more defiant he becomes in refusing her aid.

Zeller’s storytelling style really puts us, the audience, in Anthony’s mind… as soon we too, question the reality of what we’re watching. The actor switcheroo is one of the device used to make us question everything. In one scene we see Olivia Colman as Anne, then in another it’s Olivia Williams (the fact that the two actresses are named Olivia are inspired, perhaps even deliberate casting!) Same with Mark Gatiss and Rufus Sewell… uttering the same familiar dialog in their conversations while Anthony is convinced ‘there’s something funny going on’ that he keeps seeing strangers in his own home.

The scenes mostly take place in a London flat where Anthony now resides in, but the furnitures are in different places in one scene to the next. I started questioning myself as I’m watching this… Just where does Anthony live exactly? Is this posh London flat Antony’s or Anne’s home? Then there’s the thing about about Anne’s current situation… one moment she tells her father that she’s moving to Paris to start life with a new man, to which Anthony reply “Paris? They don’t even speak English there.” But the next moment Anne is baffled why Anthony would even think she’s moving to Paris as she’s intent in staying in London.

I haven’t felt so discombobulated and frustrated while watching a movie, unable to decipher between what’s real and what’s surreal, which is an effective way to immerse ourselves into a story about memory loss. I remember I felt the same way when I was watching the stage play, but I think the film enhanced that trippy feeling to even more devastating effect. Despite the morose subject matter though, this is not an entirely gloomy affair. It helps that cinematographer Ben Smithard allows a lot of light in to keep the mood less downcast.

Hopkins is absolutely perfect in the role, perhaps the most mesmerizing and moving performances I’ve seen him in. He embraces the inherent vulnerability of the role while imbuing it with a sense of wit and whimsy that makes Anthony such a fascinating character. Zeller allows some personal things of Hopkins to be a part of the film, such as using the Welsh actor’s own favorite classical music we see him enjoy in the kitchen and uttering his own birthdate as Anthony’s. Perhaps it makes the role more personal to him, as Hopkins certainly embodied him so beautifully. It’s such a contrast to his most famous role in The Silence of the Lamb… with the only similarity being he stars opposite a very strong female performer, which brings me to Olivia Colman.

I’ve always been a longtime fan of the English actress who seems really kind and good-natured in person. This compassionate, empathetic character seems to be made for her as Anne’s patience with her ailing father seems limitless. Even when her dad is often crass and unfeeling towards her by constantly bringing up his favorite daughter Lucy. Anne’s mental anguish is palpable and that brutal honesty is so moving. It’s a deeply emotional and nuanced performance that feels true without resorting to over-sentimentality.

Imogen Poots is splendid as Laura, the new caregiver Anne hired that Anthony took an immediate liking to. There are some funny bits where he told Laura he was a tap dancer… these moments of levity are definitely a welcome respite to an otherwise relentless mind-bending drama. Gattis, Sewell and Williams all have some memorable moments in their brief appearance. There’s a scene between Hopkins and Sewell that’s hard to watch, even though I’ve already seen it in the play. Of course we don’t even know if that scene actually happened or just Anthony’s mind playing tricks again.

I commend production designer Peter Francis for utilizing the flat itself as a storytelling tool with altering furniture arrangements to disorient the character. Despite being set in mostly a single location, the film didn’t feel claustrophobic. I think it helps that the characters sometimes step out of the flat, even a brief moment outside helps break the mundaneness. As a fan of classical music, I love the score as well, which works perfectly for the film. What a year for Ludovico Einaudi who’s also the composer for Nomadland.

Dementia is a heartbreaking disease that turns loved ones into strangers and this is one of those films that explore its effect in a beautifully-effective way. I actually don’t have any experience with dementia in my own family, at least not directly, still I couldn’t help tearing up watching this, especially towards the end. I can only imagine how tough it is for those who have family members dealing with memory loss, this might hit too close to home for them.

The Father is an astounding film that shows us what it means to be human and the harsh reality of aging. It definitely made me think about my own relationships with the people in my life, and not take my mental health for granted. Zeller has created a haunting portrayal of dementia that is truly, for lack of a better word, unforgettable.


Have you seen THE FATHER? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review – Judas and The Black Messiah (2021)

The script of the life of Fred Hampton has been floating around Hollywood for many years but it never got made into a film until now. Hampton was one of the leaders of the Black Panthers movement and the youngest of the group back in the 60s and his assassination by the FBI is well known and that’s probably the reason the film of his life has had trouble making it to the screen. Maybe, because of our current political climate we’re living in now, his life story is finally being told, and I think it’s more relevant than ever.

The film starts out with an interview footage of the real Bill O’Neil in 1989 and then flashes back to 1968 when the young O’Neil (LaKeith Standfield) poses as an FBI agent to steal cars from locals in Chicago. One night, his antics got him arrested and while being held in the interrogation room, an actual FBI agent named Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) showed up and offered a chance to turn his life around. Since O’Neil likes to pretend to be someone he’s not, Michell offers him to be a mole for the FBI.

He tells O’Neil that the Black Panthers are terrorist groups, and he’s needs an inside man to be his eyes and ears in order to bring them down. Of course, O’Neil doesn’t have a choice, if he doesn’t take the deal then he goes to prison. He reluctantly accepts the offer and goes undercover and meets Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), a young charismatic leader of the Chicago Black Panthers division. Once O’Neil became part of Hampton’s group, he realized that the Black Panthers aren’t the people that Michell told him about. They’re a group that tries to give a better life to the black community in the rough part of Chicago. But because O’Neil doesn’t want to go to prison, he keeps feeding the FBI information about the Panthers’ activities that eventually led to Hampton’s assassination.

I actually watched a documentary about Hampton’s life a couple of years ago, so I knew the story and while I’m sure some of the events has been alter for dramatic purposes for this film, it’s still pretty accurate account of what happened. The screenplay is written by Will Berson and Shaka King, the latter directed the picture. It’ a well written story and I wish the actual film is longer. At only 2 hours long, I feel there’s so much we don’t know about Hampton and O’Neil and I would have liked to see more of their lives explored in the film. I’ve never seen any of King’s work but I’m very impressed with what he did with this film. The only negative thing I see here is how he depicted the FBI director Hoover (Martin Sheen in poorly prostatic makeup), he’s like a cartoonish Bond villain and I don’t think that’s very accurate.

Performances were excellent. Standfield, who I think looks a lot like a young Dave Chapelle, is very good as the conflicted person who sees the Panthers as a group of peaceful activists who wants to better the lives of black people. But he knows that he can’t back out of a deal he’d made with the FBI. Kaluuya is excellent as Hampton, a passionate man who sees himself as peacemaker but knows what the authority sees him as a threat. Dominique Fishback (who was terrific in Project Power) continues to impress me with her performance, here she plays Hampton’s lover. As mentioned earlier, I wish the film were longer, so we get to see more of their relationship. Plemons is always good, and he’s great here as the father figure to O’Neil. He uses O’Neil to impress his bosses at the FBI and also advances his career. At first, he acted like a friend to O’Neil but when he didn’t get what he wanted, he became a very nasty person who holds a lot of power.

This is probably one of the better films I’ve seen in the early part of 2021, I just wanted it to be a bit longer. I feel it’s too condensed, but it’s very well made with great performances by the lead actors.

TedS_post


So have you seen Judas and the Black Messiah? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Ok so even though I grew up watching a ton of Disney animated movies (especially the ones w/ princesses because that’s what many little girls do), I don’t immediately get excited for every new Disney animated movies that come along. In fact, you’d be surprised that I haven’t watched The Princess and The Frog, Coco, or even Moana [gasp!] – I know, that seems unthinkable since I’m a reviewer from Indonesia, right? In any case, when I first saw the trailer for this I thought it looked cool and yes, I’m always glad to see a movie with a largely Southeast Asian actors.

Raya and the Last Dragon is set in a fantasy world called Kumandra where humans and dragons lived together in harmony. I can’t help but think of How To Train Your Dragon after Toothless became friends with Hiccup. But then some ominous monster that looks like purple/black smoke known as the Druun basically destroyed that harmony, which led to the dragons sacrificing themselves to save humanity by putting their magic into a Dragon Gem. It’s now 500 years later and Kumandra is now split up to five regions/provinces: Heart, Fang, Spine, Tail and Talon. The opening scene shows young Raya (voiced wonderfully by Kelly Marie Tran) with her wise father Chief Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), the leader of Heart Land discussing the upcoming visit from the other four regions. It’s clear from such a young age, Raya has always been a vivacious and quite fearless young woman and she’s been training to become the guardian of the Dragon Gem. It’s during this visit that Raya was betrayed by another young girl from Fang called Namaari (Gemma Chan, sporting a rather odd American-accent) that not only creates more division between the provinces, but also brings back the nefarious Druun that turns anyone in their path into stone.

I have to say that it took me a bit to get into the story as I was distracted by low-resolution of the screener I got. I’ve talked about it a big here, for some reason the picture quality just doesn’t look sharp which is a bummer given how dazzling the visuals and colors are. Even besides that, that’s quite a complex backstory that makes me think that smaller kids might not be the target audience here. Plus, some of the scenes of peril when Druun wreaks havoc over Heart land can be quite scary for some toddlers.

The movie then propels us to years later when Raya is now a young woman whose BFF (who doubles as a transportation mode) is a cute Armadillo-type creature named Tuk Tuk. She’s on a mission to collect the shattered gemstones from the other four provinces and in that epic journey she ends up awakening the last dragon Sisu (Awkwafina) from its slumber. The tone of the movie immediately shifts from drama to comedy as soon as Sisu wakes up. Awkwafina’s comedic style and Sisu’s constant state of bewilderment is quite amusing. Now, the last dragon might sound so magnanimous and dignified, but Sisu turns out to be such a bubbly, perhaps even nerdy type creature that looks like a fluffy, elongated pony with cotton candy colors. The interactions between Raya and Sisu, who unsurprisingly becomes besties right away, is a lot of fun, especially when the shape-shifter dragon takes form of a human (complete with cotton-candy colored mane). I have to say though, the constant tone-shifting feels a bit off at times.

In her epic journey, Raya also encounters various characters, some more interesting than others. 10-year old boat captain Boun (Izaac Wang) and warrior giant with a big heart Tong (Benedict Wong) add some emotional layers to the story, as they deal with familial loss and loneliness. But the con-baby Little Noi with her monkey friends, not so much. In fact her scenes are perhaps my least favorite and is not the least bit funny. The comedic bits don’t always work well here, but by the third act, the movie has already shifts back to drama mode with some thrilling martial-art action thrown in. The third act also attempts to balance the backstory of Sisu’s family and the final confrontation between Raya and her main foe Namaari, and for the most part it succeeds.

Directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, and written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim (the latter also wrote the rom-com hit Crazy Rich Asians), I appreciate the filmmakers’ (well the big mouse studio’s) effort to have diversity and inclusivity – creating a strong heroine in Raya and crafting a story that honors the many South East Asian origins. I read an article that says the production team visited Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam for their research, so you see an amalgamation of those regions represented in various forms in the film, whether it’s in the culture, martial arts, food, architecture, etc. Speaking of the food, the movie made me hungry looking at those scrumptious SE Asian cuisines and snacks the characters are eating!

I feel like I should address some of the criticism I read online about how it’s lacking specificity and that the voice casting are not all from SE Asia. As someone born and bred in one of the countries used as inspiration in the film, I actually think it’s a bit unfair to expect a studio like Disney to create a perfect film that pleases every SE Asian person who watches it. I’m also mindful that discussion about representation doesn’t actually end up being more divisive among the Asian community by focussing on our differences instead of what we have in common. I realize the plot is rather generic, which is to be expected as studios always try to appeal to as huge an international audience as possible. Perhaps it’s too generic that one critic (of Caucasian descent) said the story is a Chinese mythology [face palm] … obviously out of ignorance. But despite its imperfections, I do think cultural representation is always a good thing and it’s a trend in the right direction. I believe [hope] that this is NOT the last Disney film with a protagonist of SE Asian descent.

Now, in regards to that plot which is far from revolutionary, there are some good things to appreciate. For one, I’m glad they didn’t force a love interest plot on Raya (as they did in a weirdly vague way in Mulan). The story is already strong as it is with its focus on family, friendship, trust and forgiveness. The rather dismal view of humanity is a bit odd though, as one character describes Druun as “a plague born from human discord,” suggesting that it’s the humans themselves as the bringer or our own misery. Perhaps that’s a bit dark for a kids or even teens movie, but hey, at least there’s still the positive and always-timely message about the importance of family and unity to balance it all. There’s also a teachable moments about Raya learning to trust again, though I wish it were delivered in a less clichéd and derivative way.

Visually, the film is a marvel. And I say this despite the low-res quality of my screener. The rich, vibrant colors; lush, stunning vistas with pain-staking attention to detail; and the well-choreographed action scenes are fantastic to look at. The score sounds wonderful as well thanks to James Newton Howard, incorporating some Southeast Asian instruments and themes. I especially love the action scenes between Raya and Namaari towards the end, and the fighting style and weaponry mixes various martial arts from SE countries, i.e. Indonesian’s Pencak silat, Muay Thai kickboxing, Filipino Arnis, etc.

But I think the real ‘weapon’ of the film is the heroine and Tran truly brought Raya to life wonderfully as a multi-layered character. Her voice alone is lovely to listen to, but she’s able to convey SO much emotion with her voice, especially in her desperation. There is something universal about Raya and her purposeful journey that should appeal to anyone of all ages, regardless of our ethnicity and background. A hopeful, feel-good story is something we all need today, and this is one that a whole family could enjoy for years to come as well.

Have you seen Raya and The Last Dragon? Well, what did you think?

Thursday Movie Picks – Oscar Winners Edition: Best Actor and Best Actress

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… Oscar Winners Edition: Best Actor and Best Actress

Ok since there’s no rules as to which time period to pick from, I selected one classic and one contemporary actor and actress who I think are worthy winners. For the fun of it, I also picked one actor + actress who I don’t think deserve to win on the year they’re nominated.

In any case, here are my picks:

FAVE BEST ACTRESS WINNERS

Vivien Leigh – Gone With the Wind (1939)

Scarlett O’Hara is not exactly an easy woman to love, she’s practically an anti-heroine which in and of itself is quite revolutionary. Vivien Leigh was primarily a stage actress and was in a few plays with her second husband Laurence Olivier. She’s perhaps one of the first classic actress I’ve seen growing up… I must have been in my pre-teen when I first saw Gone With the Wind, and I’m still in awe of her performance to this day. To think that she almost didn’t get the role as producer David O. Selznick considered her to be ‘too British’ at one time. I can’t imagine another actress in the role.

Helen Mirren – The Queen (2006)

Ok so I pick another British actress, I didn’t exactly plan for that. I wanted to include someone from the 2000s and the one I thought of right away is the Dame’s performance as Queen Elizabeth I. Of course by now there have been another great memorable performance of the Queen in her later years (Olivia Colman in The Crown), but I think Helen Mirren’s portrayal is still an iconic one. Her physical transformation with the wig and glasses, complete with her facial expression and slightly downturned mouth, voice delivery, everything is just spot on. Even the Queen’s OCD behavior was accounted for based on Mirren’s research. Per IMDb trivia, Mirren was so convincing that by the end of production, crew members who had been accustomed to slouching or relaxing when they addressed her were standing straight up and respectfully folding their hands behind their backs.

___

Least Fave Best Actress Winner

Gwyneth Paltrow – Shakespeare In Love (1998)

I still think it’s practically scandalous that Paltrow won over Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. I mean, generally speaking Blanchett can run circles around Paltrow all day long, but I’ve seen both films and in no universe did Paltrow gave a better performance in their respective films.


FAVE BEST ACTOR WINNERS

Gregory Peck – To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

Is it a surprise I picked this gentleman? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you’d know I was obsessed with Mr. Peck a few years ago and have blogged about him repeatedly. This was actually his fourth Oscar nominations following The Keys of the Kingdom (1945), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), and Twelve O’Clock High (1949). I’ve seen them all and they’re all terrific Oscar-worthy performances, but I think Atticus Finch so tailor-made for him that he practically become the character and be forever be known for that role. It’s no surprise The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century and Peck’s performance certainly helped cement that in history.

Jamie Foxx – Ray (2004)

When I first saw this film years ago, I was so blown away by Foxx’s performance. I think this was the first time I saw him in a lead role and man, did he kill it. He was so dedicated to the role that he attended classes at the Braille Institute, and he also had to wear eye prosthetics to make him look authentically blind for the entire shoot. I can’t imagine having to endure something like that, AND have to act at the same time.  Plus the musically-gifted actor also played the piano himself, though it was Ray Charles’ voice that was heard in the film. His win marked the first actor to win Best Actor in a music/musical movie since Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady (1964)

Least Fave Best Actor Winner

Roberto Benigni – Life Is Beautiful (1997)

I loved the film but honestly I didn’t think Benigni’s performance was Oscar-worthy. Especially given he was nominated alongside Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan and Edward Norton in American History X. His Oscar speech was a hoot though irritating at the same time. In any case, his win marked only the second time that an actor had directed himself in an Oscar-winning performance, the first was Laurence Olivier for Hamlet (1948).


So which Best Actor and/or Actress winners are your favorite?

FlixChatter Review: THE MAURITANIAN (2021)

Whenever one hears the words Guantanamo or Gitmo, it usually emits a pretty strong reaction. Honestly, I’m not usually keen on watching films that I know will depict torture, especially one based on a true story. The Mauritanian however, piqued my interested because of the filmmaker, Kevin Macdonald, and cast. French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim played Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention center who was held for over a decade without charges being filed against him. The story is based on Mohamedou’s NY Times best-selling memoir Guantánamo Diary, which according to a few book reviews is an extraordinarily vivid first-person account of his time in captivity.

The film opens shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, when Mohamedu was called into questioning by Mauritanian police while he was at a family celebration. Though he assured his mother he’d be back soon, he was not able to return home as he was subsequently arrested and later transported to Guantanamo. He had been held there for a few years before defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch, doing his best American accent) cross path on two opposing sides. Stuart got assigned to serve as one of the prosecutors in the military tribunal vying for the death penalty for Mohamedou, and Nancy fought to get him released pro bono. Interesting to see Zachary Levi playing against type as an unsympathetic federal agent that Couch was trying to get intel from.

The film is an intriguing mix of legal drama and thriller, and despite the harrowing and captivating subject matter, the way it’s played out is a bit uneven. The procedural aspect with Nancy and her associate Teri (Shailene Woodley) feels decidedly mundane. Even the meetings between Nancy and Stuart fall flat despite the star power of the actors portraying them. The film really comes alive whenever Mohamedou is on screen, thanks to Rahim’s captivating performance. The first time Nancy and Teri meets with him at Gitmo, Mohamedou’s able to speak English with them, which apparently he learned while in detention. That’s one of the outstanding things I can’t help but being in awe of, as well as Mohamedou’s seemingly unbreakable spirit.

Macdonald’s extensive experience as a documentary filmmaker means he took great care in creating an authentic look for the film, making sure the detention camp itself is depicted accurately, etc. One thing I find most memorable is whenever Mohamedou gets his outdoor break where he gets to breathe fresh air and even ‘befriends’ a fellow detainee next to him. He’s not able to see that man, but he’s able to communicate to each other and shockingly, Mohamedou’s actually consoled him and inspired him to remain hopeful. It’s these moments showing his humanity that makes the subsequent scenes of graphic torture even more harrowing to watch. At the same time, Macdonald didn’t want to paint with a broad brush in depicting every single person who work at Gitmo as evil, as evidenced in the tentative friendship between Mohamedou and one of his guards.

While in shackles, Mohamedou was subjected to sleep deprivation, severe isolation, temperature extremes, beatings, sexual humiliation, even a mock execution as he was blindfolded and taken out to sea. Those scenes are truly hard to watch, I had to cover my eyes and ears during much of it. The guards torturing him wore halloween animal masks, and at that point it’s as if they’ve descended into animal as they behave like one. As if that weren’t horrifying enough, there’s the emotional torture of being threatened that his mother would be brought to Gitmo and be gang-raped. Obviously the filmmakers intends for the viewers to be truly appalled by what happened, considering the perpetrators is a country supposedly known for being a beacon of liberty and hope. I don’t think we need to see it in a cinematic form to realize there is absolutely no excuse for treating fellow human beings in such a savage way.

The fact that Nancy faced obstacles in her mission to free Mohamedou is not surprising, neither is the fact that Stuart eventually found evidence about his torture that render any of his ‘confessions’ inadmissible in court. What’s most astonishing and inspiring is that Mohamedou refuses to be brought down as low as his captors. Rahim’s sensitive performance never descends to over-sentimentality and is genuinely moving. As for Foster and Cumberbatch, their presence certainly add prestige to the production but I don’t think their performances are all that memorable. I mean they’re effective in their roles, but it’s Rahim that gave the film its best moments and truly the reason to see this film. I wrote this review long before Foster was even nominated for a Golden Globes, and honestly I was surprised to see her name on the list, even more so that she won (I was rooting for Olivia Colman for The Father).

In any case, what’s definitely memorable is the appearance of the real Mohamedou during the end credits, who still retains his humor and playful spirit. Cheerfully listening to one of his favorite musicians Bob Dylan, it’s hard to comprehend this is the same guy depicted as having been brutalized and held captive for over 14 years. Mohamedou is quite charismatic that a thought occurred to me while watching him if the film would’ve worked more effectively as a documentary with Mohamedou himself at the center and unknown actors to re-enact some of the scenes. As it is, I’m not sure The Mauritanian does Mohamedou’s memoir justice nor is it the best movies about post-911, but no doubt its heart is in the right place.

Have you seen THE MAURITANIAN? Well, what did you think?

FEBRUARY Viewing Recap, Quick Thoughts on 2021 Golden Globes + Movie of the Month

Hello March! I’m just excited that Spring is just around the corner! After the Polar Vortext where temps dipped well below zero here in Minnesota, this week the highs will be in the 40s, woo hoo! [yep, we in MN do get excited about the weather, folks :D]

Oh yeah, I did watch parts of the Golden Globes last night but honestly, I don’t really care enough to dedicate a blog for its coverage. In fact, I even missed the first hour of the Globes as I came home late from running errands, so I just caught up w/ the monologue after the show.

Glad to see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler roasted the all-white HFPA members echoing the #TimesUpGlobes that’s been trending all last week.

As for the winners…

Well, the most emotional moment of the night has got to be when the late Chadwick Boseman (I still gets teary eyed even typing THAT) won for Best Actor for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His wife Taylor Simone Ledward gave such a heart-rending speech… can’t imagine how she must have felt losing such a precious person. We all still miss you, Chadwick…

On a more positive note, I’m SO happy for Chloe Zhao for winning Best Director… AND Nomadland winning Best Motion Picture – Drama.

It’s a historic win as she’s the first Asian woman AND the second woman to win best director of a motion picture (since Barbra Streisand won in 1983 for Yentl).

On the TV front… this double win for Emma Corrin + Josh O’Connor who played Prince Charles + Princess Diana just made me smile

 

In any case, here’s what I watched in February:

NEW-TO-ME MOVIES

Photograph

Such a lovely film… I recommended this in my picks of non-English language romances list. I’m hoping to see The Lunch Box soon!

Blind Date – (French title: Un Peu, Beaucoup, Aveuglément)

Thanks Claire Packer of Cinematic Delights for recommending this delightful rom-com! 

In The Mood For Love

I can’t believe I haven’t watched this Wong Kar Wai’s classic sooner. I can see why this film is so beloved by many. The Criterion collection Blu-ray is currently on back-order!

I Care A Lot

(read my full review)

Rosamund Pike just won a Golden Globe for her role in this movie. She’s truly one of the main reasons to see this movie!

Shakespea-reTold – Macbeth

Though I love James McAvoy, I did not enjoy this modern Macbeth rendition at all. This star-studded Shakespea-reTold has been a hit and miss for me.

The Father

I saw the play version a couple of years ago at a local theater (which is actually owned by the lead actor on my short film Hearts Want), and it’s one of the most emotional stage performances I’ve ever seen. It’s actually directed and written by its own playwright Florian Zeller, so this is his feature directorial debut.

Raya and the Last Dragon

I got an early screening for this and still working on the full review. My beef with some screeners is that the picture quality isn’t on par with the regular streaming feature, it’s quite obvious the visuals just doesn’t look as sharp as if I were to rent this once it’s available on streaming. I find that annoying and dumb as you’d think they’d want to showcase the best quality screeners for professional critics who’d judge the visual quality of the film?

Palm Springs

My hubby and I was looking for a short-er movie (around 90 minutes) last Saturday night as we got home late from dinner, and this one fits the bill. It’s quite a fun movie that takes the Groundhog Day stuck-in-a-time-loop concept feels fresh and surprisingly sweet despite some raunchy and utterly bizarre moments.


Series:

Lupin

In case you missed my Top 10 list why people should watch this French series, well, let Omar Sy‘s charm + uber coolness sway you.

Wanda Vision

One more episode of season 1!! That last episode’s tone definitely changed between horror and emotional drama… As someone who has lost a mother early in life, this line will stay with me for a while…

Behind Her Eyes

I haven’t quite recovered yet from the bonkers ending and #TomBateman’s hotness 😛 (I’ve seen this British hunk in quite a few things and he’s SO underrated!! I’m still hoping he’d get his breakthrough role one day)

A Discovery of Witches – S2

I have to say the pace of this show could’ve been much improved… but I’m enjoying the gorgeous costumes + scenery… and how hot #MatthewGoode looks in this Elizabethan getup.


Rewatches:

I didn’t have much time to rewatch many things this past month (it was a short month), but I did watch a few favorites.

The American President

Sabrina

Rocketeer


MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

The Father

This could be one of the best performances of Anthony Hopkins and perhaps his most vulnerable. Olivia Colman is so amazing as the daughter, and further proves what a fantastic and versatile actress she is (given my first intro of her was in comedic roles). I was really rooting for her in the Best Supporting Actress. Having seen The Mauritanian, I think Colman’s performance was way better and more emotionally-resonant than Jodie Foster’s.


Well, what did you watch in February and what’s YOUR fave movie you saw last month?

Thursday Movie Picks: Romance Tropes Television Edition – Love Triangles

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… Romance Tropes Television Edition: Love Triangles

I have to say I’m not really a fan of love triangle in movies. I feel like it’s just so clichéd and often a result of lazy writing. I mean, there are SO many of them that it’s hard to find one that actually has a reason to exist. When I was writing my romantic drama Hearts Want, I made sure to avoid anything resembling this trope. Looking at some lists of TV love triangles… popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, etc. all feature love triangles. Good thing I avoided watching all those shows!!

In any case, here are my picks:

BEHIND HER EYES

Ok, I have to admit that one of the reasons I’m participating this week is just so I can post about this crazy, twisty psychological thriller that just dropped on Netflix earlier this month. The British miniseries is based on a 2017 novel of the same name by Sarah Pinborough and dayum, it’s really of the most bonkers thing I’ve seen in a long time! Apparently when the book first published, the hashtag #WTFthatending was trending on Twitter, and well, there’s a good reason for it!

The love triangle is between Louise (Simona Brown) and her psychiatrist boss David (Tom Bateman) AND his wife Adele (Eve Hewson). After meeting David at a bar, they immediately had a sexual relationship… and days later she bumps into Adele (literally) on the streets. I find some of the episodes dragging a bit, I think tightening it to a 4 instead of 6 episodes might make it more efficient.

But man, nothing could prepare me for the finale! There’s another important character in the series called Robert (Robert Aramayo) who’s Adele friends shown in the flashback scenes. I feel like this show is best experienced if you know as little as possible about the story. Borrowing Bette Davis in All About Eve... “fasten your seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”


BEVERLY HILLS, 90210

I was in high school when this show hit its peak of popularity. I was still living in Jakarta at the time and there wasn’t many options to watch on TV. So naturally I watched whatever American shows that were available (MacGyver, A-Team, Melrose Place, etc). I often thought everyone in the US lived like these group of friends in Beverly Hills, ahahaha. It’s quite ironic that I ended up in Minnesota, given Brenda and Brandon Walsh moved from MN to CA 😀

In any case, so the love triangle between Brenda/Dylan/Kelly were all the rage back then. If Twitter were around back then, I bet there’d be polls whether you’d be Team Brenda or Team Kelly. Looking at pics of Luke Perry is kinda sad though, I still can’t believe he’s already gone 😦

In any case, I don’t give a flying f*** which girl I want Dylan to pick, as again I find the whole love-triangle thing SO corny!


FRIENDS

I didn’t realize how many love triangles there were in Friends, but apparently there are a bunch of them that this article actually went so far as ranking them! 😀

Well I’m just going to list two I remember on the top of my head…

Rachel/Joey/Ross


Poor Ross walked in on Rachel + Joey kissing… I mean we all know how long the geeky paleontologist has been in love w/ Rachel for ages!!

 

Monica/Chandler/Richard

I gotta admit I find the whole Monica/Richard thing a bit awkward. And not only because of the over-two-decade age difference between Courtney Cox and Tom Selleck, I just don’t feel the chemistry. But then again, I find the latter years of Friends not as engaging as the earlier ones.


So which are YOUR favorite love triangles on TV?