Thursday Movie Picks: Female Cinematographers

ThursdayMoviePicks

Given today’s THURSDAY MOVIE PICK‘s topic is on female cinematographers, I thought I’d reblog this post I did last November.

Check out my appreciation for the fabulous work of Charlotte Bruus Christensen, Rachel Morrison, Maryse Alberti, Mandy Walker, and Ellen Kuras

FlixChatter Film Blog

I’d been wanting to do this post for a while, but somehow haven’t got around to it. Well, thanks to last week’s Thursday Movie Picks on favorite cinematography, which I had actually missed, I thought I should make up for it this week.

The awesome topic came from Brittani who went with films highlighting female cinematographers on her post, so for this list I’m picking five female DPs whose work I admire, and it’s safe to say they’re some of the best DPs working today.

Before I get to that, I must say that perhaps more so than other key players in filmmaking like directors/writers/producers, DPs are still very much a man’s world. Based on WomenAndHollywood.com, of the top 300 films from 2016 to 2018, 97% were male and 3% were female were credited as the director of photography (DP) across the top live action films, which translates…

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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?

17 Irish Movies to Watch on St Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!!

I’m wearing green today even though I have no plans to go anywhere 😉 Man, looking at the beautiful photo of Dublin above makes me wish we could actually travel to Ireland, or anywhere for that matter.

Well, we can always travel vicariously through the movies. There are quite a few Irish-set movies I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’ve also blogged about those movies a few times already, whether it’s memorable scenes, songs, or actors. So I’m going to include those movies I’ve mentioned, as well as new ones that weren’t on the list. Whether you’re into intense dramas, heartfelt rom-coms or family-friendly movies, there’s something for everyone here. So here they are in alphabetical order:

Brooklyn

An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

I’m glad I saw this on the big screen during a film festival a few years ago (which I’ve reviewed here). A seemingly-simple story of an immigrant girl that’s deeply poignant and moving, and as an immigrant to the US myself, I can certainly relate to Saoirse Ronan‘s character. I count this as one of my favorite role of Ronan’s conveys her internal struggles in a subtle but effective way. Directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby, it’s also got a great ensemble cast: Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Domhnall Gleeson andEmory Cohen.

Circle of Friends (1995)

Set in 1950’s Ireland, the movie focuses on Benny Hogan and her best friend, Eve Malone. The story centers around Benny and Eve as they enter student life at University College, Dublin. Here Benny and Eve reunite with their childhood friend, the ice-cool Nan Mahon, the ‘college belle’. They also encounter the handsome and charming Jack Foley, whom Benny quickly falls for.

I love, love this movie that I’ve written a post dedicated for this movie here. It’s one of my fave rom-coms that I’ve watched multiple times. I enjoy seeing Minnie Driver on screen and her earlier role as Benny (Bernadette) is just so delightful. The story of friendship is lovely, plus there’s Colin Firth in a rare baddie role.

I love this song You’re The One by Shane MacGowan & Máire Brennan.

The Eclipse (2009)

In a seaside Irish town, a widower sparks with a visiting horror novelist while he also begins to believe he is seeing ghosts.

This one you might not have heard of, not to be confused with the Twilight movie. It’s more of a drama than horror though there are indeed some spooky elements. Based on a supernatural love story by author Billy Roche and was co-adapted by Conor McPherson, it stars Ciarán Hinds and Iben Hjejle as Michael and Lena, who met during a literary festival in Wexford. Michael is still recovering from the loss of his wife to cancer and he’s confronted by strange visions. Aidan Quinn also makes an appearance as another author who isn’t too keen on the two main characters getting together.

The scenery in Irish seaport town of Cobh is beautiful, and the cinematography is definitely atmospheric.

Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)

A powerful meditation on guilt, forgiveness and reconciliation, this potent drama tells the story of two men on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political struggle: one a killer, the other the brother of the man he killed. 

This one is such a powerful and poignant film… definitely a riveting character study of two people on opposite sides. I’ve actually seen a local play reading of this as a local playwright is trying to adapt this into stage play. Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt are both terrific in their roles, though they barely share a scene together. I’ve written a full review of it here – despite being only 89 minutes long, it definitely packs an emotional punch!

Frank (2014)

Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.

Why hire a handsome actor like Michael Fassbender and have him wear a giant papier-mâché head for practically the entire movie? Well, that part wasn’t just a silly gimmick, but there’s an intriguing story behind it and Fassbender did an amazing job acting without the use of his face. This Lenny Abramson’s movie is  certainly one of the weirdest I’ve seen but it’s a quirky and memorable commentary about the creative process. You can read my full review here.

The Guard (2011)

An unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality is partnered with an up-tight F.B.I. agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.

I love buddy cop comedies! Ok so this one isn’t quite Lethal Weapon or Bad Boys, but it’s two unlikely people, an Irish cop and FBI agent who couldn’t be more different. But of course they end up bonding while working together on an international cocaine-smuggling operation. I love Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle here, their banters are definitely amusing. I just realized that the director, John Michael McDonagh, is Martin McDonagh’s brother who worked with Gleeson in In Bruges.

The Matchmaker (1997)

Marcy is an assistant to Senator John McGlory, who is having problems with a re-election campaign. Desperate for Irish votes, McGlory’s chief of staff Nick sends Marcy to Ireland to trace McGlory’s relatives or ancestors. Marcy arrives at the village of Ballinagra when it is preparing for an annual Matchmaking Festival.

I saw this ages ago but somehow I still remember parts of it, especially the gorgeous Ireland scenery. The film was filmed in Connemara, west coast of Ireland. I also quite like Janeane Garofalo who always plays the smart girl in rom-coms. I wonder what she’s doing now. David O’Hara is quite charming as her suitor, I’d say it’s a much better movie than the more popular Leap Year (despite the gorgeous Matthew Goode, this movie is simply terrible I won’t put it on this list!).

Once (2007)

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

One of the best musical romantic dramas that’s quintessentially Irish with a universal story about unrequited love. This is perhaps my favorite from John Carney (whose later film Sing Street is also on this list!). It’s got a meet-cute, gorgeous Dublin scenery, wonderful music and two actors with a lovely chemistry. I haven’t seen Glen Hansard nor Markéta Irglová in anything else since, but their lovely performance is forever cemented in this charming and bittersweet film. This song just absolutely broke my heart, I tear up every time I hear it.

Ondine (2009)

An Irish fisherman discovers a woman in his fishing net whom his precocious daughter believes to be a selkie.

Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan has a penchant for making films with supernatural, fairy tale bent. This one touches upon Celtic mythology involving selkies as in ‘seal folk,’ mythological beings capable of transforming to human form by shedding their skin. Well, the on-screen chemistry between Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda are so palpable as they fell in love on set and they had a kid together. I love the scenery of the fishing village in County Cork, Ireland and it’s lovely to hear Colin use his real Irish lilt.

Philomena (2013)

A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

Most people who read my blog regularly know I LOVE Dame Judi Dench and this is definitely one of her best work. I included this movie on this list of favorite movies about journalists/reporters in movies. It’s also a bit of a road movie as she and Steve Coogan’s journalist character went on a journey to find her long lost son. It’s a bittersweet story of loss by renowned British director Stephen Frears.

P.S. I Love You (2007)

A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.

Ok I’m aware this movie wasn’t well-received by critics (I mean 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, come on!) but it was a hit with audiences (80%). I for one adore this movie despite Gerry Butler’s ghastly Irish accent. It’s the best of his rom-coms in a string of duds (esp. The Ugly Truth which truthfully IS ugly). It’s a lovely story of loss and love, and Holly’s loss of her husband is heart-wrenching thanks to Hilary Swank‘s believable performance. There’s even a rendition of The Man That Got Away from A Star Is Born, Swank is quite good mimicking Judy Garland she could’ve played her in the JUDY biopic! There are also memorable turns from the ensemble cast, particularly Jeffrey Dean Morgan who played an Irish man believably!

The soundtrack is wonderful as well, filled with lovely songs and a sweet score by John Powell.

The Secret of Kells (2009)

A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.

I’m including pretty much ALL of Cartoon Saloon movies here, but naturally, it’s an Irish Animation Studio based in Kilkenny, Ireland. Tomm Moore‘s strikingly beautiful hand-drawn animated movies have all earned an Oscar nomination, and it’s easy to see why. The first of his trilogy based on Celtic mythology, it’s spiritually-tinged and speaks about an inspiring message of devotion, bravery, sacrifice and forgiveness. The voice cast are wonderful, with Brendan Gleeson providing the voice of one of the characters.

Sing Street (2016)

A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

As someone growing up in the 80s, naturally it’s a treat to watch these Irish boys trying to escape their family life by forming a band. Apparently it’s a semi-autobiographical story of John Carney, and it’s the perfect love letter to the 80s and the power of music. I like the cast mostly-unknown young actors, which featured a star-making turn by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo with his beautiful singing voice. Peelo has a sweet chemistry with Lucy Boynton‘s Raphina and Jack Reynor provides some of the most moving dramatic moments as Peelo’s brother. But the star of the film is definitely the music and all the catchy songs that I’m still listening to even today.

Song of the Sea (2014)

Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, go on an adventure to free the fairies and save the spirit world.

The second Celtic-mythology animated feature from Cartoon Saloon is SO gorgeous one could easily get lost in marveling at the visuals. The world-building and attention to detail is so mesmerizing. I just LOVE the color scheme depicting the ocean, it’s so soothing but also mysterious and magical. This might be my favorite of the trilogy, which I’ve reviewed in full here. Just like in his first film, there’s something so amazingly-evocative in the way the animation is done, where you could practically feel the sea breeze, the chilly wave and wind of the Irish coast.

Veronica Guerrin

Based on a true story, this is about the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, a reporter for The Sunday Independent, who exposed some of Dublin’s most powerful crime barons and drug lords in 1996.

Cate Blanchett can play virtually anyone and can disappear into any role. That’s the case here where the Aussie thespian played Irish intrepid journalist who met a tragic end when she tried to expose powerful drug lords. It’s a tour de force performance that every Blanchett fan should watch. Though it’s not exactly an enjoyable movie per se, it’s definitely a gripping thriller. I’d say it’s one of the late Joel Shumacher’s best work and one of my favorite films about journalists.

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money.

I actually just saw this one last night as I wanted to watch an Irish movie this week. I think I watched only parts of it ages ago and I’m glad I finally saw it in its entirety. Though the movie was actually filmed in The Isle of Man, it wonderfully captures the Irish spirit and small town life. Ian Bannen as Jackie and David Kelly as Michael are truly hilarious as the two best friends trying to trick the lottery company into thinking Ned is still alive. It’s such a fun, oddball, charming movie that one can watch with the whole family or on a movie night with friends, guaranteed to put everyone in a cheery mood. There are plenty of drinking scenes whether in a town’s pub or at home, too, so a good escapism movie to watch on St Patty’s Day!

Wolfwalkers (2021)

A young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night.

The last of the Celtic folklore trilogy from Cartoon Saloon is once again nominated for an Oscar! I can’t say enough how gorgeous this movie is, and I’m obsessed with the look of Mebh, the Wolfwalker girl. With her full orange mane and huge green eyes, she’s such a mesmerizing character.

I love the unlikely friendship storyline between Robyn and Mebh, but unlike most Disney movies, the story can be a bit dark and even sad at times so it’s perhaps more suitable for adults and older kids. But like most Tomm Moore’s previous work, the visuals are simply exquisite, and accompanied by wonderful Gaelic music/songs that transports you to a magical world.


So which are your favorite Irish movies? Feel free to suggest some in the comments!

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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.

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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?

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?