Thursday Movie Picks: Amateur Sleuth

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… AMATEUR SLEUTH.

This is a fun topic and there are tons to pick from! I always like to mix classic and contemporary movies, so that’s what I’ll do again here.

SPELLBOUND (1945)

Spellbound Poster

A psychiatrist protects the identity of an amnesia patient accused of murder while attempting to recover his memory.

Any chance I can talk about Gregory Peck I’ll jump at it, ha! This is the film I fell for the ridiculously handsome classic actor with a swoon-worthy deep voice, who was only 29 at the time in his fourth feature film. It set off an obsession for the next year, now I owned pretty much ALL of his movies!

Gregory Peck Ingrid Bergman Spellbound

Can’t believe it’s a decade ago since I saw this, I have to rewatch this soon. It’s actually the first time I saw Ingrid Bergman as well, and both of them light up the screen as they fall in love. I like the double mystery of solving Peck’s character’s amnesia issue through psychoanalysis, and figuring out the killer of the real doctor. Classic Hitchcock in terms of direction, camera work, visual style, mood, etc. featuring a brief but memorable the dream sequence by Salvador Dali. I also love Miklós Rózsa‘s astounding score, perhaps my fave of all Hitchcock movies. The final sequence is indelible as well, which has been copied many times over by other filmmakers.


REAR WINDOW (1954)

Rear Window Poster

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

I hadn’t planned on picking two Alfred Hitchcock films here, but well, he was the master of mystery noir. This one also features one of my fave classic actors, James Stewart, and another classic beauty Grace Kelly. 

This is definitely one of the best films confined in a single location, and the set design is absolutely astounding. Apparently the set was constructed specially for this movie, on the whole they built about 30 apartments and about half was fully furnished! I also love the costume design by the legendary Edith Head (notably all of Grace Kelly’s gorgeous dresses), I’m shocked she was NOT nominated for an Oscar for her work here.

Rear Window Costume Design

This movie was my January 2015 Blindspot pick, and I loved it! Despite the lighter, playful tone, the film packs a lot of interesting themes about psychology, human nature that are intrinsic in most of Hitchcock’s films.


BATMAN BEGINS (2005)

Batman Begins poster

After training with his mentor, Batman begins his fight to free crime-ridden Gotham City from corruption.

I gotta include one of my favorite comic-book films here. Bruce Wayne aka Batman is an amateur super sleuth and crime fighter. The first of Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy shows Bruce’s foray as a detective, teaming with up with Gotham City’s police commissioner Gordon. I LOVE the dynamic between Christian Bale and Gary Oldman, two of the best actors working today.

Batman Begins -Batman Commissioner Gordon

Batman didn’t just bring down crime lord Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) but also exposed the real villain Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson), the radical leader of League of Shadows who wants to destroy Gotham. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think of this film as a noir thriller that happens to have a superhero character in it, and I’m excited that the upcoming THE BATMAN will show the caped crusader in his detective mode than what we’ve seen in other films!

ZODIAC (2007)

zodiac-fincher-movie

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.

I caught this one almost a decade after its release, which apparently didn’t do too well at the box office. It’s surprising given the star-studded cast, but then again this was a year before Robert Downey Jr. became Iron Man and long before Mark Ruffalo became his fellow Avenger as the Hulk. Interesting how the three leads have now become Marvel stars!

Jake Gyllenhaal Robert Downey Jr

At almost 2.5 hours long, this David Fincher murder mystery is more of a slo-burn film but an effective and suspenseful one. There are some lighter moments too between Jake Gyllenhaal and RDJ, as the film focuses on the life of the detectives on top of being a whodunnit type film. The sinister part is that the story is based on real events in the San Francisco Bay area, adapted from Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book of the same name (Gyllenhall played Graysmith in the film).


So which are YOUR favorite movies about amateur sleuth?

Thursday Movie Picks 2021: Oscar Winners Edition – Best Supporting Actor + Best Supporting Actress

ThursdayMoviePicksThe 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 Supporting Actor + Best Supporting Actress.

It’s another Oscars edition! Well, prior to this year where the Academy got confused as to who’s actually the lead of the film (*cough* Judah and The Black Messiah *cough*) and nominated the leading man in the supporting category, for the most part it’s pretty clear which actor belongs in the supporting roles. Since I haven’t seen a bunch of classic films in which the actors won in the supporting category, I’m going to pick winners from movies released in 1980s – today.

In any case, here are my four picks:

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008)- post-humous

heath-joker

It’s rare that an actor’s performance in superhero movie would get the attention of the Academy, but Ledger’s Joker is simply iconic. He deservedly won a total of 32 Best Actor in a Supporting Role awards for his work on this movie, including the “quintuple”: Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and Critics’ Choice award (per IMDb). I really think he surpasses Jack Nicholson’s wicked-clown persona in the role, but created a psychopathic persona so scary yet mesmerizing.

As I said in this scene-spotlight post of the interrogation scene, the Joker had such power to get into anyone’s skin and he really pushed Batman to the point where he almost lost it. I’ve rewatched this movie a bunch of times and I’m always in awe of Ledger’s acting where the actor became the character… thanks to the extended research he did for the role, including secluding himself in a motel for six weeks, etc. It’s hard to watch that film and not think about how that role might’ve cost Ledger his own life. There were reports that the role took a toll on him mentally and physically, which might have contributed to his accidental drug overdose.


Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds (2009)

christoph-landa

I didn’t plan on including another villain who won Best Supporting Actor, but hey, bad guy roles are often juicier than the heroes, and good actors can elevate good roles and make them great. That’s certainly the case with Waltz’s performance which is indelible right from its intense opening sequence. He easily stole every scene he’s in, a perfect combination of being hilarious and terrifying. In less capable hands, Landa could’ve easily just be a sadistic caricature but Waltz made him so indelible. The Austrian actor also used his knack for languages to good use, speaking English, French, German, and Italian in the movie.

I remember reading IMDb trivia that Quentin Tarantino was considering abandoning the film during the casting period when they were searching for someone to play Colonel Hans Landa. He apparently thought he’d written a role that was unplayable, that is until they saw Waltz audition for the role. I think it’s safe to say this is my favorite QT’s film.


Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton (2007)

tilda-michaelclayton

This is a legal drama where George Clooney‘s played a ‘fixer’ to remedy the situation after a lawyer has a breakdown while representing a chemical company (U-North) that he knows is guilty in a multibillion-dollar class action suit. It’s been ages since I saw this, but I remember it being quite gripping and that Tilda Swinton was amazing as Karen Crowder, U-North’s general counsel. Her intense performance stood out even in a star-studded ensemble that include Sydney Pollack and Tom Wilkinson. The Scottish actress is so versatile that she not only able to play virtually any role, but she can also disappear in them as well. I think her nervous breakdown performance in the bathroom alone deserves all the kudos. Karen is obviously an ambitious, ruthless character, but Swinton gave her depth and vulnerability that’s captivating to watch.

The film was screenwriter Tony Gilroy’s directorial debut (known for The Devil’s Advocate and the Bourne trilogy). I just rewatched the trailer again, I should rewatch this one soon!

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave (2013)

patsey-12yearsaslave

This is such a tremendous film with excellent performances all around, but it’s a film I could watch only once as it’s so harrowing.. At the center of the film is Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery, performed beautifully by Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film is filled with big name actors, including Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, etc. but amongst the supporting cast, Lupita Nyong’o definitely stood out as  the brutally abused plantation worker. Clearly it was a physically and emotionally demanding role for any actor, let alone for a newcomer in her film debut!

I’ve always wondered how tough it must’ve been for her as well as her co-star Fassbender in filming those vicious scenes. Well, I read on IMDb that before filming their more brutal scenes together, Nyong’o and Fassbender performed a ritual of “making nice.” According to Nyong’o, “We wouldn’t say anything to each other, just a look in the eye and a grasping of hands. Our characters are in such opposition, but we as actors needed each other in order to be able to go the distance.” 

Nyong’o is no one-hit-wonder though, she’s continued to impress me in subsequent roles and proven her versatility as an actress.


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

Thursday Movie Picks – Television Edition: Opening Title Sequence

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… TMP Television Edition: Opening Title Sequence.

Clearly I’ve been blogging a long time, I’ve actually posted about my favorite TV opening credits back in 2016 as part of my Music Break series. I’ve listed 5 favorites + 3 honorable mentions which are likely going to be in many people’s list. Now, for this TMP, I’m going to include two from that list that I love the most, and for the other two I’m walking down memory lane. The first two are stylistically similar, so I picked the other two that are so different in terms of tone, visuals and music, but they’re terrific and even iconic in their own right.

In any case, here are my picks:

Netflix’s DAREDEVIL

netflix-daredevil-opening

I absolutely LOVE this opening credits! You know it’s good when you don’t hit the SKIP button and just watch it every time you watch an episode. Having Daredevil drenched in blood speaks to the fact that the character deals with a lot of personal demons, as well as fighting the external demons on the show. The spiritual elements also go with the fact that Matt Murdock is a relapsed Catholic.

The beautiful but eerie visuals, combined with the ominous score by composer John Paesano is just spectacular and provocative. Per this article, Paesano said he worked with season 1 show-runner Steven DeKnight, and the one thing that he, Steven and Marvel agreed was that they wanted to do something that was not your typical superhero sound. Well they certainly accomplished that!


HBO’s WESTWORLD

westworld-season1-opening

This is another opening credits I could watch over and over. It’s just so meticulously-crafted and well thought-out just like the series itself. Provocative, sexy, mesmerizing and ominous… both the visuals and the haunting score by Ramin Djawadi creates a perfect tease of what to expect from the crazy adventures in Westworld.

If you love opening title sequences, then you must visit The Art of the Title and check out the interview with the creative director behind this title sequence and other great ones like The Night Manager and Luke Cage. I so agree with what he said that Westworld is such a great sci-fi/western that ‘…digs into the core of what it means to be human and asks really uncomfortable questions.’


WINGS

Ok, now allow me to walk down memory lane with one of my all time favorite American sitcoms that ran on NBC in the 90s. I love the theme song that I still hum it to this day! Starring Tim Daly and Steven Weber as brothers Joe and Brian Hackett who operate Sandpiper Air. The series was created by the same team behind Cheers and Frasier, both also have their own memorable opening credits and catchy theme songs!

I love that it shows an airplane (presumably Sandpiper Air) flying over Nantucket and landing in the fictitious Nantucket airport. It really made me want to visit Nantucket every time I watched it. It’s such a funny show filled with terrific characters who I still know by name. I love the rivalry between Sandpiper and Roy Biggins’ Aeromass Air, and who could forget Thomas Haden Church as the daft-but-lovable Lowell the mechanic, and Tony Shalhoub as the Italian cab driver who’s frequently bullied by Roy. Many of the cast members have gone on to bigger things but I always remember their hilarious parts in this sitcom!


The Golden Girls

Now, the Golden Girls and the Thank You For Being A Friend theme song has become a meme for Millennials, but I’m old enough to have watched this when it originally aired from mid 1980s – early 90s, spanning seven seasons!

Betty White is the only living member of the show, bless her, let’s hope she lives forever! The Golden Girls is such a hilarious but heartwarming story of friendship, and I love that it feature four older women instead of the usual teens/young people. Just because it has characters over 50 doesn’t mean the show is traditional. In fact, it dealt with some controversial issues of its day, i.e. interracial marriage, HIV/Aids, sexual harassment, gay marriage, etc.

Per Wiki, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother apparently was a huge fan that the cast were invited to perform several skits as their characters in front of her and other members of the Royal Family at the 1988 Royal Variety Performance in London.


So which are YOUR favorite TV opening sequences?

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?

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?

Thursday Movie Picks: Romance Tropes Edition – Forbidden Love

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 Edition: Forbidden Love.

There are plenty to choose for this week’s topic, which actually makes it harder. Well, I’m going with films that people might not have seen yet, and not one most people would automatically think of when they hear the term forbidden love.

In any case, here are my picks:

NEVER LET ME GO (2010)

The lives of three friends, from their early school days into young adulthood, when the reality of the world they live in comes knocking.

I reviewed this movie nearly a decade ago and it’s the kind of film you should know as least as possible before watching. It’s a sci-fi drama starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield who grew up together in school, and there’s a love triangle that happen between them when they grow up.

Based on a book by Kazuo Ishiguro, directed by Mark Romanek based on a script by Alex Garland‘s (28 Days Later, Ex Machina), the romantic drama sensibilities offers a stark contrast to the cerebral sci-fi nature of the story. Lets just say it’s one of the most haunting film I’ve ever seen as you learn the predestined fate that await these characters.

Fun Trivia:
Keira Knightley admitted that she only agreed to appear in the film because her friend and co-star Carey Mulligan had asked her to. She said she was unable to relate to Ruth’s involvement in a love triangle.


LOVING (2016)

The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose arrest for interracial marriage in 1960s Virginia began a legal battle that would end with the Supreme Court’s historic 1967 decision.

I’ve reviewed this one as well and if you haven’t seen it yet, well, might be good to catch this during Black History Month. It’s really astonishing that this happened not that long ago… I’d like to think hope we’ve come a long way since then.

Jeff Nichols is such a talented and sensitive filmmaker and I like that this film highlights the then-forbidden love between the couple, instead of just using their story to make a political statement. Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton beautifully portrayed Mildred and Richard with such quiet grace and sincerity. It’s an understated performance that speaks volumes and conveys the tension as well as poignancy of what they went through.

Fun Trivia:
Director Jeff Nichols was able to tell the story of the Loving family as accurately as possible by relying on Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story (2011), which captured many details of their private lives.


Suite Française (2014)

During the early years of Nazi occupation of France in World War II, romance blooms between Lucile Angellier, a French villager, and Lieutenant Bruno von Falk, a German soldier.

I have to admit I saw this because of Sam Riley whom I had a huge crush on a few years back, but it also has a great cast including Kristin Scott Thomas, Margot Robbie. The forbidden romance is between Michelle Williams‘ character who falls for a Nazi soldier played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Being in love with the enemy certainly is one of the more popular forbidden romance set during wartime.

Schoenaerts is quite an underrated actor and he’s really good in period romance (love him as Gabriel Oak in Far From The Madding Crowd). The way he looks at a woman he loves… well, that’s the stuff memorable romance is made of. There’s a breathless chemistry between him and Michelle, all stolen glances and repressed passion. This movie ends up being a pleasant surprise about love & survival, right down to its poignant ending.

Fun Trivia:
Margot Robbie and Third Assistant Director Tom Ackerley met and began dating during the filming of this movie. They married in 2016.

Sam Riley (Benoit Labarie) and Alexandra Maria Lara (Leah) are married in real life.

The Lover (1992)

In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.

I saw this film ages ago, the details are a bit hazy to me now. Yet it’s definitely one of the most indelible forbidden love stories I remember, and the film is quite risqué as well. Directed by acclaimed French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud (who also made The Name of the Rose with its own forbidden romance elements), it’s actually based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras.

Jane March and Tony Ka Fai Leung played the lovers in the film, and there are plenty of explicit sex scenes that’s quite scandalous given March was only 17 or 18 at the time. In the book, the girl is 15 so it’s also a story of sexual awakening. Annaud also shot the sex scenes in a very intimate, believable way, which at times were tough to watch. I don’t watch too many erotic films so this is one of the few films I’ve seen with such unbridled sexuality. But The Lover is also emotionally nuanced so their sexual relationship is more than skin-deep. If you’re curious about this one, it’s also deliberately slow-paced, as some would call poetically-slow, but that’s par the course with Annaud’s films.

Fun Trivia:
Jane March’s first acting role. In an interview with the L.A. Times in Oct. 1992, she said “I had never done a movie in my life. I had never acted before. The first time I saw the film complete, I sat in the screening room and cried. It was the end of my adventure, the end of my first escapade in life.”


So who are YOUR favorite movies about Forbidden Romance?

Thursday Movie Picks: Romance Tropes Edition – Friends to Lovers

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 Edition: Friends to Lovers.

It’s no surprise there’s a ROMANCE theme this month given Valentine’s Day falls in February. I didn’t participate last time as I don’t really care for movies about fake relationships, but I do love movies about friends-turned-lovers as that’s how my hubby and I started out. We were good friends for a year in college and we’ve been married for 18 years now [I guess I just dated myself, ha!]

In any case, here are my picks:

EMMA (1996)

This is the first film I thought of right away and though I’m actually not a huge fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, I still like this version better than the one with Anya Taylor-Joy as the title role. I certainly prefer Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley than Johnny Flynn who looks more like a rock star than a refined gentleman.

As with many friends-to-lovers relationships, there’s usually one who is more besotted than the other. The gentle and wise Knightley has always known his feelings for Emma while she remains clueless while she keeps on meddling in other people’s affairs. There’s a 16-year age difference in the book which is reflected pretty accurately in this film.

 

 

Fun Trivia:
Rachel Portman became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The following year, Anne Dudley won the same award for The Full Monty (1997), followed by Hildur Gudnadottir for Joker. As of 2020, the three remain the only women to win an Oscar in that category.


Mansfield Park (1999)

Yes I have another Jane Austen movie, well la dee da! I know that many Austen purists dislike this movie as it doesn’t portray the protagonist Fanny Price accurately. But I actually like the more spirited version of Patricia Rozema, played beautifully by Frances O’Connor.

Fanny’s friendship with Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller) started when they’re just kids and they’ve always had deep mutual respect for each other. Somehow it takes a set of new neighbors for them to realize (well, mostly Edmund) how much they actually love one another. I LOVE Edmund’s confession to Fanny at the end, it was so overdue, yet the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Fun Trivia:
Mansfield Park was Jane Austen’s most successful novel in her lifetime, earning her in excess of £300.


Somekind of Wonderful

80s teen rom-coms are practically defined by John Hughes. He wrote this one and the movie was directed by Howard Deutsch and it’s one of the few 80s rom-coms I actually still remember and love to this day.

Keith (Eric Stoltz) and tomboy drummer Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) are besties but Watts is secretly in love with him. Keith somehow got a chance to go on a date with the girl of his dreams, Amanda (Lea Thompson), while her ex tries to get her back.

Ahhh… the agony & ecstasy of unrequited love… who can’t relate to someone like Watts? We’ve all been there at some point in our lives.

I always remember the Keith-Watts kissing scene that Watts framed as ‘practice’ before his date. This article written to commemorate the film’s 30th anniversary calls it the ‘kiss that kills’ scene and it’s truly wonderful and practically iconic.

Fun Trivia:
Howard Deutsch and Lea Thompson fell in love during filming and they’re still married to this day.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

I know everyone is all about that Keanu Reeves’ cameo but the story between childhood friends Sasha and Marcus are so awesome. Ali Wong and Randall Park make for such a dynamic duo that’s so delightful to watch.

Despite being separated for 15 years and their careers gone on opposite directions, sparks still fly when they meet. I love the hilarious scene when they first meet after being apart for so many years, with Marcus’ dad (James Saito) candidly recalling their old times together.

Fun Trivia:
Ali Wong and Randall Park said that Keanu Reeves was their first choice for the film. The script was sent to him, but Wong and Park never thought they would get him. Reeves had watched Wong’s Netflix special ‘Baby Cobra’ and read the script to ‘Always Be My Maybe’ and said yes. Wong said he wrote “I would be honored to be part of your love story.” Park said that Reeves was quoting lines from Wong’s special.


So who are YOUR favorite movies about Friends turned Lovers?