November 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

Woo wee! We’re now in the LAST month of 2021! Where has the time go?? We have been in a pandemic period for nearly two years now… and whaddayaknow, it’s far from over 😦 I’m scheduled for my booster in mid December, I suppose it could very well be our new routine, like getting a flu shot annually… it’s the new normal I suppose, better get used to it. Let’s not dwell on that though, now on to the movie report… 

new-to-me-movies

Movies That Made Us: Dirty Dancing

moviethatmadeus-dirtydancing

I quite enjoyed this docu-series that presents the behind-the-scenes look into how great classics got made, as well as the impact of its release, which often beats expectations. This one has some really interesting tidbits, apparently Jennifer Grey who’s first cast didn’t want the producers to hire Patrick Swayze… anyone but him, she said, but hey they clearly have a great chemistry that contributes to the film’s massive success.

The Harder They Fall

hardertheyfall-idris
     4/5 stars
Read Ted’s Full Review

Red Notice

Netflix-RedNotice-cast
    HalfReel
Full Review

King Richard

kingrichard-will-smith
      4/5 stars
Full Review

Forty Year Old Version*

forty-year-old-version-radha-blank
4.5/5 stars
Full Review

Passing*

passing-ruth-tessa
      3Reels
Full Review

The Marksman

the-marksman

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to reviewing this, but as far as Liam Neeson‘s action flick goes, it’s definitely sub-par. I might do a summary of all the Neeson-In-Action ranking at some point, once I get around to The Commuter and Non-Stop.

House of Gucci

houseofgucci-fake-guccis
    2-half Reels
Full Review

Ghostbusters Afterlife 

ghostbusters-afterlife

Not sure I’ll be reviewing this one anytime soon, so let’s just say I enjoyed it despite not being a massive fan of the original. I mean it was a fun movie but I wasn’t clamoring to see a remake/reboot of it. But as far a fan-service type movies go, this one was done well and has fun characters, esp. Phoebe and Podcast, those two kids are the movie MVPs for me.

West Side Story

WSS-2021

Full Review coming soon – in the meantime, check out my
Music Break post of five favorite songs from West Side Story!


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I only saw two films directed by women in November, so I have to catch up this month to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

I didn’t see as many new movies this past month, partly because I had been bingeing on multiple new shows.

FOUNDATION (2021) – Apple TV

foundation-tv-finale

Despite the absolutely breathtaking visuals (definitely BEST production design of any TV series I’ve seen this year), this series was not as captivating as I had hoped. The pacing can be a bit sluggish and the various storylines seem disjointed, but I’m glad I stuck with it as the last few episodes were really good, down to the suspenseful and shocking finale… the MVP of the series are definitely the women (as I’ve mentioned in my post here), especially Laura Birn as Demerzel. I’m definitely curious for season 2!

Hawkeye – Disney+

hawkeye-disney

I have to admit I wasn’t at all clamoring to see a Hawkeye stand-alone movie/series, but here we are. I got two-episode screenings last week and decided to give it a shot. Well, I quite enjoyed the Christmas setting–and that amusing bit of Rogers The Musical–but the star is truly Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop who’ll likely take the mantle from Jeremy Renner. The two have a fun chemistry but the show is hardly the most exciting compared to the other MCU series on Disney+ so far.

The Wheel of Time* – Amazon Prime

wheeloftime-cast

I’ve enjoyed the first 3 episodes so far, and the latest one definitely got me even more intrigued in the series. Check out my friend Laura’s review who’s a big fan of Robert Jordan’s books. I like the fact that there’s diversity in front AND behind the camera, as the first two episodes were directed by a female director (Uta Briesewitz) and an Asian-British filmmaker (Wayne Yip).

Only Murders in the Building – Hulu

onlymurdersinbldg

As everyone has been raving about this show, my hubby and I decided to watch it. Well, we are hooked! Steve Martin and Martin Short are comedic genius and Selena Gomez makes up for a fun, albeit unlikely trio investigating murder in their building. I love that the two comedic veterans are playing two creative has-beens (Martin is a former actor still holding on to his former glory and Short is a former theatre director who’s down on his luck), while Gomez is a beautiful, smart girl with a mysterious past. Two eps in so far and can’t wait for more!


REWATCHES

DUNE | X-Men | X-Men 2 | Crazy Rich Asians | The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

 

It’s quite an eclectic rewatches this month. Of course I had to rewatch DUNE on HBO Max before it left the platform and I enjoyed it even more than the first watch. I still adore Crazy Rich Asians on second watch and Awkwafina is still hilarious as the bestie.

Not sure why I was in the mood for X-Men, but once I watched the first movie, I was inclined to rewatch the 2nd one with the brilliant Brian Cox as Stryker. On the last day of the month, I was browsing Prime Video and I just couldn’t resist The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I LOVE the cast filled with the best of the British thespians… it’s fun seeing how far Dev Patel has come (so glad he’s not just stuck doing Indian roles), but my faves are definitely Judi Dench and Bill Nighy and their tentative relationship is just so delightful!


NOVEMBER MOVIE OF THE MONTH

forty-year-old-version

As I said in my full review, I’m still kicking myself that I missed this astounding film last year. It’s definitely the best film I saw in November, and it’s the highest rating I’ve given a film in a long time. If you haven’t seen the creative force that is Radha Blank, you must watch this immediately. Lucky for you, it’s on Netflix!


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in NOVEMBER?

October 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

Ok so spooky month is out of the way now… I have to say I’m not as fond of Halloween season as most people do. I mean I rarely watch horror movies anyway and just because it’s October doesn’t mean I was going to start watching scary movies. The only movie I saw that is somewhat spooky is Last Night in Soho. I did see quite a few new movies as well as rewatched some of my old favorites!

In any case, now on to the movie report… 

NEW TO ME MOVIES

I actually didn’t get to see as many new movies this past month, not sure why… but hey, I did get to see No Time To Die at least a week earlier than most, so yay!

Attack Of The Hollywood Clichés (2021)

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This was pretty ok to watch as Rob Lowe is a funny guy, but overall it’s not as clever as they want to be.

Proxima* (2019)

proxima-movie-eva-green

I watched this as I love Eva Green and Alice Winocour directed the Oscar-nominated French film Mustang in 2015. It’s a really good film that highlights a female astronaut’s journey to space while balancing her role as a mother to a young daughter.

The Last Duel (2021)

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Read my review

The Guilty (2021)

theguilty-netflix

I had seen the Danish version (which I reviewed here) so I was curious to check out the Netflix remake. I think this Antoine Fuqua film is competently-made and Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent, but I’d say the Danish original is still superior, and frankly I’m not fond of the ending that makes it an un-subtle ‘message movie’ about police brutality.

Burnt (2015)

burnt-movie-poster

A friend of mine recommended this to me and I’m glad I finally watched this. I’m not sure about the poor reviews as I quite like this one and Bradley Cooper is great as the lead. I also love Daniel Brühl, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy and Matthew Rhys. What a cast!! Plus I usually enjoy movies set in London.

MASS (2021)

mass-movie

This is one of the most effective contained-film that relies of a fantastic script and phenomenal performances. Not sure when I’ll review this, but let’s just say I’m glad I saw it, though it’s not something I ever want to rewatch.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)

electrical-life-louis-wain-benedict-cumberbatch

Read my review

DUNE (2021)

dune-2021-timothee-chalamet

Read my in-depth review

I’m Your Man* (2021)

imyourman-still1

Review upcoming – but in short, I LOVED it!

Rumor Has It (2005)

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I don’t normally care for Jennifer Aniston‘s rom-com, was intrigued because of The Graduate reference. Well, I’m not sure about the pairing of Kevin Costner given the 14-year age gap, and they didn’t really have a good chemistry. The movie is meh overall, though I LOVE seeing how cute young Mark Ruffalo is in this movie! 

I Am Woman* (2019)

i-am-woman-movie

I was searching for a female-directed movie on Netflix and found this one, directed by Unjoo Moon. I’m so glad I watched it as I’m not at all familiar with singer Helen Ready but wow, what a woman! Love all the songs here, too, I think I’ll review this one properly one day, but I highly recommend it!

Sounds Like Love* (2021)

sounds-like-love-netflix

Ok, here’s another movie directed by a woman on Netflix, but I could barely finish this one. It’s got a cute premise but most of the characters are intolerable and really hard to watch. If I were to rate this based on what I’ve watched so far, it’d be 1/5 stars, and I doubt the third act would redeem this movie. If you’re not into rom-com, AVOID this one, but if you really love this genre, maybe it’s still watchable, but I’m not sure.

Little Italy (2018)

little-italy-poster

Ok so the poster apparently went viral a few years ago, which isn’t surprising as some people could hardly believe this movie even existed!! Well, I had to watch it to believe it and wow, it’s a rom-com released in 2018 but has the sensibilities (AND all the clichés) of something in the early 90s. Interesting that the director had made another pizza-related rom-com Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts, and at one point, Julia’s niece Emma Roberts also wore a t-shirt that says A Slice in Heaven. Well, this movie is far from being heavenly, but still amusing to see Hayden Christensen as he seems to be heading into a come-back with him reprising his role as Anakin/Darth Vader in the upcoming Ahsoka Disney+ series.

A Fire Within (2021)

a-fire-within-doc

Read my review

Movies That Made Us: ALIENS (2021)

movies-made-us-aliens

I always enjoy the behind-the-scenes process of how a hit movie got made, and this one proved that A) James Cameron is a super intense and perfectionist director that often rubs cast/crew the wrong way (surprise, surprise!) and B) Sigourney Weaver is not just a strong heroine on screen but off-screen as well with the way she vouched and fought for the crew, you go girl!

Eternals* (2021)

eternals-visual2

Review upcoming… not a bad film per-se, but pretty disappointing.

The Song of Lunch (2010)

song-of-lunch-movie

This is more of a poetic experimental TV Movie than an actual film but I decided to watch it as I LOVE both Emma Thompson AND Alan Rickman, who were co-stars in my all-time favorite movie Sense & Sensibility, as well as Christmas staple Love, Actually. It’s watchable simply because of those two charismatic actors.

Finch (2021)

finch-movie-apple

Review upcoming – but it’s pretty good!

Belfast (2021)

belfast-still

Review upcoming – but for now I can say that I loved it!
I’m convinced this will get an Oscar nom for Best Picture.

Last Night in Soho (2021)

lastnightinsoho-anya-taylorjoy

Read Vince’s review

I saw this last night on Halloween and I quite enjoyed it, primarily for the visual style, 60s retro music and Thomasin McKenzie’s performance.


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I managed to see FIVE films directed by women in October, which means I’m on a good track to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

Apple TV+ FOUNDATION (2021)

leepace-foundation

So far the only series I watched this month is FOUNDATION, and it’s been slow-going… partly because the series isn’t as engaging as I had hoped (despite THAT scene of shirtless Lee Pace, ahah). I love the premise so I still haven’t given up hope, but hopefully it gets better as A WHEEL OF TIME is arriving in mid November so I know I’ll be watching THAT!


REWATCHES

Titanic (1997) | No Time To Die (2021) | Serendipity (2001)

Some fun rewatches this month! I re-watched No Time To Die on opening weekend with my husband and I actually liked it a bit more the second time around, but I stand by what I said in my review.

Titanic is on Netflix again so of course I had to watch it again, though it took me a couple of days to finish it, such a long movie!! (and yes, I think there is room in that bloody door for TWO people, or at least Rose should help Jack find another log to rest on, I think he’d still be alive!)

Not sure why I rewatched Serendipity again but I LOVE the NYC scenery in that movie even though the plot is so preposterous.

One Night with the King (2006) | Paddington (2014) | Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I’ve been reading the Esther story and found that One Night With the King is free on Tubi. It’s actually a pretty decent film with huge names like Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif (reuniting after Lawrence of Arabia!), and Tiffany Dupont is lovely as Queen Esther. Luke Goss is such a strange casting pick as King Xerxes, it’s especially amusing to me as I used to like the music from his British duo, BROS.

Paddington and Sense & Sensibility are two of my all-time fave British movies. I LOVE the Ang Lee’s Jane Austen adaptation every single time I saw it (which I lost count at this point). Paddington is still adorable, but I much prefer Paddington 2 which is far superior to the original.


OCTOBER MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

It’s another tie for Movie of the Month … they couldn’t be more different in terms of story, tone and visual style but they’re both competently-made and also deeply personal for both directors.

Denis Villeneuve has dreamed of making DUNE since he was 13 years old, which was 40 years ago, while Kenneth Branagh wrote BELFAST as a love letter to his hometown that he left when he was 9 years of age (over 50 years ago) when his family uprooted to London during the Troubles period.


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in OCTOBER?

September 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

september watches

HAPPY FALL, everyone! I’ve actually put out my Fall floral decór with pumpkins on my front porch and swapped out my door wreath with sunflowers, pinecones, etc. Autumn is my favorite season here in Minnesota and we get such gorgeous Fall foliage this time of year, so we’re heading out to a state park up north to marvel at the changing Fall colors!

Ok, now on to the movie report… 

NEW TO ME MOVIES

I actually didn’t get to see as many new movies this past month, not sure why… but hey, I did get to see No Time To Die at least a week earlier than most, so yay!

Minari (2020)

Minari-film-Korean-family

I saw this on the plane back from LA earlier this month and really enjoyed it. I love the performances, esp. Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn who won an Oscar for her role. Now, I honestly am not sure if this film is THAT good that it’s Oscar-worthy though, but given how few Asian-centric films are recognized, I can’t really complain that it was nominated.

Here Today (2021)

HereToday-restaurant

Crystal is a wonderful performer, and he + Haddish definitely make for a winning comedic pairing, so I’m glad I saw this one.

Full Review

Shang-Chi (2021)

shangchi-simuliu

It’s massively entertaining with dazzling action sequences + fight choreography. Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh automatically add immense gravitas just by being present in this film and I’m happy to say I’m impressed with Simu Liu as an action hero.

Full Review

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021)

Chastain-eyes-tammy-faye-2021

Despite the extensive amount of Jessica Chastain‘s screen time, in the end it’s a pretty thin character study, as I don’t think I know that much more about Tammy Faye than I did before I saw the film.

Full Review

Being James Bond

Being-James-Bond

A brief 46-min retrospective doc where Daniel Craig candidly reflects on his 15-year tenure as James Bond. It includes never-before-seen archival footage spanning from Casino Royale (2006) to No Time To Die (2021), though given its brevity, it’s not exactly a deep dive into Craig’s Bond career as I had hoped it would be.

The Guilty (Danish film)

theguilty-2018-Cedergren

Nordic thrillers are quite popular in Hollywood, hence the countless remakes from Danish productions, but star power and bigger budget don’t always translate to better films. I’m very curious how the Netflix film will fare compared to this one.

Full Review

My Name is Pauli Murray (doc)*

Pauli-Murray

Review upcoming…

Honest Thief

Honest-Thief-Neeson

My hubby and I actually enjoy Liam Neeson action movies! Thankfully there are TONS of them, ahah. Yes there’s a certain formula to them but some of the plots are actually amusingly-clever, and Neeson is a reliable action star. I might do a Neeson action series review compilation one of these days, but I still need to watch Run All Night, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Commuter and The Marksman.

No Time To Die

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Review coming this weekend… in the meantime, I invite you to check out two Bond related posts from last week: Top 15 Daniel Craig’s JAMES BOND Moments and Ranking Daniel Craig’s Bond Movies.

Good On Paper*

Netflix-GoodOnPaper

I haven’t had much luck with Netflix’s rom-com but I was curious to check this one out after seeing the trailer. Firstly, I knew the smiling-too-much guy is a fraud right away, so it’s just laughable that the protagonist didn’t pick up on it for weeks! In any case, I thought Iliza Shlesinger (who wrote and starred in it) is pretty funny… oh and did Margaret Cho lose a lot of weight recently? In any case, it was entertaining enough… glad it’s only 92 min long so it never overstayed its welcome.

Food Club* (Danish film)

Food-Club-Danish-film

I wanted to see a female-directed film on the last day of the month (and I’m still one movie short for the month)


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I managed to only three films directed by women in September, gotta do better this month! I am hopeful I can actually complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

Apple TV+ FOUNDATION (2021)

apple-foundation-banner

I will review this once the series wrapped, but so far I enjoyed the first two episodes and can’t wait to see more! Check out my in-depth post on the sci-fi series here, based on the highly-influential Isaac Asimov’s books that apparently inspired Star Wars, Dune, etc.

Marvel’s WHAT IF? (2021)

what-if-the-watcher

Though I’m not always fond of every single episode (can’t even think of my fave episode on the top of my head), I do marvel at the spectacular animation of this series. The visuals are truly a marvel, I even think some of the animated characters are better looking than the actors playing them (*wink* Hawkeye *wink*). I also LOVE Jeffrey Wright‘s voice as The Watcher narrating the series and his character finally getting some action in the latest episode.

Ted Lasso – season 2 (2021)

TedLasso2-NoWeddings-Funeral

I love the Rebecca-centric episodes and the latest, No Weddings and A Funeral is such a hoot!! There’s definitely shades of Richard Curtis’ rom-coms in there, and the 80s kid in me rejoice hearing Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up!


REWATCHES

King Kong (2005) | Robocop (1987) | Octopussy (1983) | La La Land (2016)  | Pacific Rim (2013) | Skyfall (2012)

Some fun rewatches this month! I watched King Kong in the hotel after we went to Universal Studios Hollywood. I actually like that Peter Jackson-directed movie a lot even though it didn’t do well at the box office. Coming back from L.A. where we visited the Griffith Observatory, I was in the mood to see a movie with great scenery of the city of Angels, hence La La Land. Pacific Rim is one of those movies I’d watch for no reason as it’s just so fun and entertaining. Seeing Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam together makes me wish they’d both be cast in a Bond movie!

As for Robocop, we actually rewatched this on the big screen as my hubby’s colleague actually has this monthly movie night where he rented a theatre showing older classics. It’s still way better than the remake. 

Lastly, I rewatched two Bond movies in anticipation of No Time To Die of course. I had rewatched The Living Daylights in August, and was hoping to catch Licence To Kill this past month but didn’t get to it so I’ll rewatch it soon!


SEPTEMBER MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

It’s another tie this month… I simply cannot pick one over the other as both are entertaining and meaningful to me.

marvel-shangchi-bus-fight
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

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No Time To Die


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in SEPTEMBER?

August 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Hello, hello!! I’m posting my end-of-the-month recap a bit early this month as I’m taking a week-long hiatus. My hubby and I flying to L.A. tomorrow until Labor Day, woot! We got tickets to see John Williams conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic – Maestro of the Movies at the Hollywood Bowl. I could hardly contain my excitement as I absolutely LOVE his scores. I’m giddy just thinking of seeing the orchestra play some of my favorites, which I’ve listed in this post… plus I’ve never been to this historic outdoor amphitheater, so it’ll be a fun Friday night!

JohnWilliams-HollywoodBowl

Ok, now on to the movie report… I’ve actually seen more films that I thought I would, so I’m quite happy about that!

NEW TO ME MOVIES

As I haven’t finished packing, I’m not going to rate those I haven’t reviewed, but I’m just going to link those that I have written about.

Hampstead (2017)

Hampstead-movie

I have to admit I was curious to check this out largely because of the UK setting (didn’t I tell you I’m an Anglophile?) and that I like Brendan Gleeson… plus it’s got James Norton who I wish had more screen time. To be honest, I’m not too fond of watching Diane Keaton for some reason and this movie did not change my mind. I think it’s ok, a bit too predictable and their romance lacks serious spark.

Free Guy (2021)

Annette (2021)

The Suicide Squad (2021)

CODA* (2021)

Green Lantern (2011)

GreenLantern-Reynolds

After watching Free Guy and seeing interviews of Ryan Reynolds, I realized I haven’t watched his first superhero movie. Well, it is as terrible as what people have said, no wonder Reynolds himself continue to make fun of it, ahah. Hey at least he got to meet the love of his life Blake Lively who’s just so gorgeous in, well anything. The movie is not only dumb but also really ugly to look at, those garish green is really the color of neon vomit, blech!

Val (2021)

Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar (2021)

BarbStarVistaDelMar

I don’t know what came over me that I decided to watch this head-scratcher of a movie! Yikes!! File this under ‘what in the world did I just watch?’ It is as bizarre as everyone has made it out to be, and not exactly in a good way… I was either confused or cringing the entire time. Jamie Dornan must have a predilection for weird movies as he did this practically back to back after Wild Mountain Thyme

Hungry Hearts

HungryHearts-Driver

I was hoping to watch this during the Adam Driver marathon last month but the movie didn’t arrive in time. My friend who still has a Netflix DVD subscription lent it to me and despite this movie not being pleasant to watch, I’m glad I finally watched it. It’s quite amusing too that there’s a baby involved here as I had just seen Annette last month… but this time it’s an actual baby instead of a puppet, ahah. Driver is as immensely watchable as ever even being mostly in sad/forlorn/angry state, but I don’t think I’d ever want to watch it again.

The Protégé

Reminiscence* (2021)

The Girl In The Book* (2015)

TheGirlInTheBook

I was looking for films directed by women and came across this one on Prime Video. I only knew Emily VanCamp from MCU, but she’s quite good here as an aspiring writer who’s haunted by her past when a famous author appeared in her life again. The late Swedish actor Mikael Nyqvist played the author… there were some disturbing scenes but fortunately it was shot with the female gaze that it didn’t feel sexually exploitative.

The Souvenir* (2019)

TheSouvenir-movie

I had been wanting to see this for ages, so it’s disappointing that it turns out pretty dull. I think the coming-of-age premise is intriguing, but the too-slow pace feels tedious and self-indulgent. Plus I just can’t connect with the central character (played by Honor Swinton Byrne) at all. I did like Tom Burke here and am amused to see Honor’s mom Tilda Swinton as her mother, but overall it’s a total bore.

Love & Basketball* (2000)

LoveandBasketball

Ahhh… finally I got to see this terrific rom-com written & directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood! Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps have such a lovely chemistry AND they look believable as basketball players! I love that it’s more than just romance as both characters pursue their passion and shows that women can play ball just as good as men! There’s so much to appreciate here that I just might write a full review on it one day. So yeah, I enjoyed this one immensely, in fact I’m still kicking myself why it took me so long to finally see this.

The Lost Leonardo documentary (2021)

Out Kind Of Traitor* (2016)

ourkindoftraitor-lecarre

I’m always up for seeing a spy thriller based on John le Carré’s novel, especially one directed by a woman. Susanna White directed my favorite Jane Eyre adaptation (2006) and she did an excellent job here as well. Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris play a couple who somehow got involved in a Russian oligarch’s defection plans, played by Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd. It’s a pretty solid thriller with some genuine mystery and suspense, so I’d recommend it if you’re a fan of le Carré’s work.

Worth* (2021)

worth-movie-netflix

The last film I watched this month ends up being quite an emotional one. Can’t believe 9/11 happened nearly 20 years ago… and watching some of the scenes unfold still took my breath away. Sara Colangelo directed this with a sensitive but deft touch, which tells the story of attorney Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) who’s appointed by Congress to lead the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. It’s definitely one of Keaton’s best, most controlled performance, with Stanley Tucci and Amy Ryan lending some memorable turns as well. The title is perfect for this thought-provoking film which might be tough to watch for some who are personally affected by the tragedy.


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I’m  happy to report that I managed to see SEVEN female-directed films, woo hoo!! I’m hopeful I can actually complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

The Pursuit of Love* (2021)

pursuitoflove-amazonprime

I love period dramas and especially those set in England! I like the cast (Lily James, Emily Beecham, Dominic West) and it’s directed by Emily Mortimer. A romantic comedy-drama about love and friendship set in Europe before WWII, it’s well-acted and pretty entertaining overall, but I find it uneven and not as emotional as I had hoped. The set pieces are nice to look at, but I don’t think it’ll stick in my mind for too long.

Ted Lasso 2 (2021)

tedlasso-season2

Movies that Made Us: Pretty Woman(2021)
Movies that Made Us: Forrest Gump (2021)

movies-that-made-us-JP

Charlie’s Angels – Fallen Angel ep (1979)

CharliesAngels-Dalton

Bless you TUBI! They actually have the entire Charlie’s Angels series on there. I had been wanting to watch the Fallen Angel episode with my eternal crush Timothy Dalton! The series is SO dated and kind of silly, but I LOVE seeing Dalton as a millionaire playboy/jewel thief Damian Roth who’s romancing Farrah Fawcett. They even referred Damian as James-Bondian, which is interesting given that Cubby Broccoli had wanted him to play Bond for years before Dalton finally agreed.


REWATCHES

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) + The Living Daylights (1987)

Adam-Kylo-Tim-Bond

I was feeling rather indulgent that I decided to rewatch movies starring my new and old crush, ahah. I guess I have a thing for tall, dark, handsome actors who can make anger/sadness look sexy 😉

I actually find Adam Driver hilarious as Kylo Ren initially, but he’s such a charismatic actor and immensely watchable in pretty much anything. 

As for The Living Daylights, well it remains one of my all time favorite Bond films, though it’s a bit eerie to watch those scenes in Afghanistan, and seeing the Mujahideen as his ally. In any case, I still think Timothy Dalton is my favorite 007 who I wish had done a 3rd or even 4th Bond film!


AUGUST MOVIE OF THE MONTH

CODA (2021)

coda-movie

I’ve posted my full review of this powerful and deeply moving film that feature actual deaf actors in prominent roles. I can’t recommend this enough and it’s available to stream on AppleTV.


Well, what did you watch this past month and what’s YOUR favorite film you saw in AUGUST?

JULY 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Happy August!! Dayum, Summer is surely fleeting by. It has been sweltering HOT the past two months that even 80 degrees feels ‘cool’… We’ve got the most 90-degree days in 9 years in the Twin Cities… I think we’ve had like 22 days so far this year, but feels like there have been more than that. The haze is what’s bothering me the most though, the MN Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for the entire state for days, thanks to the Canadian wildfire. We’re pretty far from the border, so my heart goes out to those living close to these fires.

Ok, now on to the movie report… which is kind of uneventful overall apart from the increasing number of in-theater screenings of late, yay!

NEW TO ME MOVIES

The Tomorrow War (2021)
(full review)

the-tomorrow-war-cast

Croupier (1998)
Croupier-CliveOwen

I had been curious about this Clive Owen movie when he was still young and clean-shaven. He’s the reason to watch it for me. I think people who enjoy gambling-type movies would enjoy this more but it’s a bit too slow and I also find it a bit odd overall. I was quite taken aback seeing Alex Kingston baring it all in a scene that I thought was out of left field.

3Reels

Love Sarah* (2021)
(full review)

LoveSarah-CeliaImrie

Gunpowder Milkshake(2021)
(full review)

gunpowder-milkshake-heady-gillan

Jungle Cruise (2021)
(full review)

junglecruise-movie

The Bank Job (2008)
BankJob-Statham

When I watched this movie, it said it was based on a true story, which I thought was a regular bank heist. Well apparently it was about Princess Margaret’s sexual affairs with Jamaican men in the 1970s, and of her pictures being caught and saved in a highly secured unknown bank. It’s not exactly like an action comedy a la Oceans 11 or The Italian Job, it’s actually not as humorous and more violent than thought. Still worth a watch for the ensemble cast led by Jason Statham, though this is prior to him becoming a huge action star in the US.

3Reels

The Last Letter From Your Lover* (2021)
(full review)

lastletterfromlover-sailboat-romance

The Green Knight (2021)GreenKnight-Patel

I just had to see this on the big screen on opening night!
Review Upcoming

Unknown (2011)
Unknown-LiamNeeson

For some reason I was curious to check out Liam Neeson‘s movies directed by Jaume Collet-Serra who just did Jungle Cruise, and this one happened to be on Netflix. I actually enjoyed it, though I feel like this could’ve been re-titled as Lost in Berlin as Neeson was pretty much lost the entire time, ahah. The plot twist is actually pretty creative, I did not see THAT coming.

3.5/5 Reels


ADAM DRIVER Marathon

adam driver don quixote

I’ll be blogging about this later as part of Mettel Ray’s HIDDEN GEMS monthly series (I’m a couple of days late to the party though… oops!)

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)

What If (2013)

Paterson (2016)

Tracks (2013)


Movies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women – and sadly, I managed to only watch only TWO movies directed by women this month. Hopefully I’ll still be able to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by end of the year.


TV SERIES

TEHRAN (2020) – Apple TV

tehran-series

After watching the stellar Little Drummer Girl, my hubby and I decided to binge on another female-led spy thriller. TEHRAN focuses on a Mossad agent Tamar (Niv Sultan) who embarks on her first mission as a computer hacker in her home town of Tehran. It’s pretty gripping and suspenseful with terrific performances all around. It’s also pretty emotional given the personal stakes for most of the characters involved and it doesn’t paint the ‘enemy’ as one dimensional, in fact, the series shows a pretty balanced view of both sides of the Israeli and Iranian conflict.

Ted Lasso (Season 2) – Apple TV

tedlasso-season2

I’m so glad the series is back!! Just two episodes in so far but it reminds me of why I absolutely LOVE this series, can’t wait for more!

Loki – Disney+

Loki-finale

Well LOKI proves to be quite a game-changer series! I have to admit I didn’t always enjoy every episode and at times it just went over my head. But that the finale was indelible with the introduction of a new MCU villain Kang the Conqueror (a terrific Jonathan Majors). After Thanos they’ve got to come up with another formidable antagonist for phase 5, and Loki’s expression at the end of the finale says it all! I’m also excited that unlike the previous two Marvel series, LOKI will have a season 2!!

The Movies That Made Us: Jurassic Park (2021)

movies-that-made-us-JP

I really enjoyed this documentary series created by Brian Volk-Weiss chronicling the stories behind some of the beloved movies of the 80s and 90s. Jurassic Park is one of my all time favorites and it’s always fun to see all the challenges making ANY movie, especially something as huge (literally!) as this Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster.


REWATCHES

I barely have time to watch new stuff this month, but I did rewatch one movie…

My Fair Lady
myfairlady


JULY MOVIE OF THE MONTH

Paterson (2016)
paterson-adamdriver

Adam Driver and poetry… a truly mesmerizing combination. A quiet but indelible film and it cements Driver as my current cinematic crush. This is only the second Jim Jarmusch‘s film I’ve seen so far, but I really should check out more, starting with Only Lovers Left Alive.


Well, what did you watch this past month and what’s YOUR favorite film you saw in JULY?

JUNE 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

June recap

Wow, it’s Fourth of July weekend already! Which, if you live in the northern hemisphere, that means we’re halfway through Summer already. I’ll be driving up northeast with my hubby this weekend to a town called Bayfield, Wisconsin and spend a day at Madeline Island on Lake Superior. Given all July 4th festivities were canceled last year, I actually look forward to seeing fireworks this weekend, yay!

I actually didn’t get to watch too many movies this month as I was away for a few days visiting family in New Hampshire in mid June, but I did watch quite a bit of TV series. In any event, here’s what I watched in June:

NEW TO ME MOVIES

Movies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women – and I watched a total of 3 films by women this month. I’m hoping to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by end of the year.

In The Heights (2021)
(full review)

intheHeights-AnthonyRamos

Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard (2021)
(full review)

hitmans-wife-bodyguard-SLJ-Ryan

LUCA (2021)
(full review)

Luca-vespa-ride

Petra: Secrets of the Ancient Builders (documentary)

petra-doc-netflix

I saw this stunning National Geographic doc on Disney+ on how three magnificent ancient structures in Jordan were engineered. It’s pretty insightful and educational, combining expert interviews with motion graphics as visual aid.

3.5/5 Reels

Pompeii: Secrets of the Dead (documentary)

pompeii-secrets-of-dead-netflix

After watching Petra, I ended up continuing to watch Pompeii: Secrets of the Dead which is quite eerie as about a decade ago my hubby and I did visit Pompeii, though we missed going to the museum where they had the preserved skeletons of the people trying to escape the disaster. Using state-of-the-art technology, experts were able debunk some of the most persistent myths about these victims in these final moments.

4/5

The Assistant* (2019)

the-assistant-movie

I saw this on the plane and though I’ve been wanting to see it for a while, I picked it partly because it’s only 1.5 hour long (which is all I had time for as it was a short flight). It’s not an enjoyable movie per se, but an effective and also frustrating one, featuring a terrific performance by Julia Garner. 

3.5/5 Reels

F9 (2021)
(full review)

F9-VinDiesel

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It* (2020)

RitaMoreno-doc

I was hesitant to watch this because I hadn’t seen West Side Story (yes I know, I know, I’ll do that soon, before the remake comes out!), but thanks to fellow blogger Peggy I was convinced to um go for it, ha! Well I’m SO glad I did! It’s such a fascinating doc narrated by Rita herself who’s as charming, fun and charismatic as ever, though her story had some really harrowing, dark moments. She truly is a one of a kind artist, an EGOT winner no less, and at 89 years of age, she is still as sprightly and vivacious as ever!

4/5

The Ice Road (2021)
(full review)

IceRoad-cast

In The Fade (2017)

in-the-fade-movie

I’ve been wanting to see this for ages, I’m glad I finally did. It’s a slo-burn vengeance drama, though billed as a thriller. It features Diane Kruger’s best performance in the lead role as a German woman whose life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. Her time of mourning is hugely emotional and harrowing to watch, but people expecting an all-action vengeance thriller a la Atomic Blonde will be disappointed as this is more of a character study than action movie.

3.5/5 Reels

Black Widow*

BlackWidow-Scarlett-Florence

This ends up being the last feature film I saw this month and I’m glad I saw it on the big screen. I’m going to save my commentary for the full review, but let’s just say I highly enjoyed this highly-anticipated movie and after such a long wait, it didn’t disappoint!


TV SERIES

I said last month I really need to blog just for my TV watches, but I failed to do that, ahah. Well, I didn’t watch as much TV as May, but I did manage to finish an entire season of two very different series: Gold Digger and Sweet Tooth

Gold Digger – Sundance Channel

gold-digger-series

Ok so I have to admit I watched this as I was crushing on Ben Barnes after Shadow + Bone (Gen Kirrigan… be still my heart). It’s about a wealthy older woman (Julia Ormond) falling in love with a younger man (Barnes, natch!) whose kids suspect is only after her money.

Sweet Tooth – Netflix

sweet-tooth-series

Sweet Tooth is based on a comic book of the same name. It follows a 9-year-old boy with antlers traveling across a post-apocalyptic world, trying to reach his mother in Colorado. I really enjoyed this one, especially the relationship between the half deer/half human title character (a charismatic Christian Convery) and a man named Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie)I’m REALLY hoping they’d renew this one soon as I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.

Loki – Disney+

Loki-series

I’ve reviewed the first two episodes here, and though I was mostly confused by ep. 3, the fourth episode is full of WHOA! moments that shake up the TVA. It’s also packed with MCU and comics references which makes me wish there are more than just 6 episodes of this!

Lupin (Part 2) – Netflix

Lupin-part2-netflix

I’ve listed 10 things why you should watch LUPIN, so if you haven’t seen part 1 yet, what are you waiting for? The 2nd part is just as exciting, if not more so, than the first one as Assane Diop finally get his chance to avenge his father and also wins back the trust of his family. The final episode set in Opéra Garnier (made famous by Phantom of The Opera) is absolutely astounding, I don’t mind re-watching this series again one day!


REWATCHES

Thanks to Pixar’s LUCA, it made me re-watch some of my old favorites. I rewatched Finding Nemo on the plane and though I’ve seen it a few times before, it’s still as wonderful as the first time I saw it, absolute classic!

Finding Nemo

Toy Story

Toy Story 2


MAY MOVIE OF THE MONTH

Black Widow

blackwidow-sis

I’ve started to put my thoughts down for this and I definitely love this more than Captain Marvel, but doesn’t exactly top Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Stay tuned for my full review next week!


Well, what did you watch this past month and what’s YOUR favorite film you saw in JUNE?

MAY 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

May-recap

Happy June, everyone! Those of you in the States, the Memorial Weekend officially kicks off the Summer months. My hubby and I have been fully vaccinated for over a week now, with no major side effects thank goodness! In Minnesota, the mask mandate has been lifted and strangely enough now I feel somewhat ‘naked’ without putting a mask on indoors, so I’m still doing that in most places.

Thanks to MSPIFF, I got to watch quite a few international movies this week, most of them are very good! Most theaters are open already as well, though I actually skipped the cinema visit this weekend as I had a pretty busy schedule catching up with four different sets of friends from Friday-Monday, in person instead of via Zoom while enjoying patio weather once again. So suffice to say I haven’t got much time to blog anything all weekend. In any event, here’s what I watched in May:

NEW TO ME MOVIES

Movies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates directed by women – and I watched a total of 5 films by women this month. I’m hoping to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by end of the year, something I failed to do a few years ago (thanks Katy for prompting me to pick this up again!)

Things Heard and Seen (2021)*

things-heard-seen-netflix

Strangely enough, the first movie I watched in May is a horror movie. My bestie and I try to have a weekly movie night when we can, and since we’re both fans of James Norton, we decided to see this one about an artist (Amanda Seyfred) who relocates to the Hudson Valley and begins to suspect that her marriage has a sinister darkness, one that rivals her new home’s history. It’s pretty spooky at first but it grew more frustrating than scary, and the ending is pretty bonkers but not in a good way. Cliché-ridden and downright silly in parts that it’s hard to connect with any of the characters which makes the whole affair pretty boring.

2.5/5

Coded Bias – documentary (2020)*

coded-bias-doc

The film focuses on MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini who discovers that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, which sets her on a journey to push for the first-ever U.S. legislation against it. Directed by Shalini Kantayya, this is a really fascinating and important topic about the algorithm bias in AI, but not exactly the most interesting film to watch. Given the topic of high-tech and innovation, etc. I’d expect a film that’s inventive in presenting its arguments, but still it’s worth a look for its subject matter alone.

3Reels

Wrath of Man (2021)

full review

wrathofman-poster

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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (2021) *

whenhitlerstolepinkrabbit-poster

MSPIFF – full review coming soon

Love It Was Not – documentary (2021)*

love-it-was-not-doc

MSPIFF – full review coming soon

Hope Gap (2019)

hope-gap-cast

I have to admit my bestie and I watched this for Josh O’Connor, having recently seen him in the National Theatre Live’s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet on PBS. I like understated dramas like this one and though it’s on the slow-side, the actors’ performances kept me engaged. Annette Bening and Bill Nighy are terrific as a couple dealing with the breakup of a marriage and O’Connor is especially soulful here as their son who’s torn between the two parents in the split.

3.5/5 Reels

Riders of Justice (2021)

MSPIFF – full review

riders-of-justice-poster

4.5/5 stars

Undine (2021)

mspiff-undine

MSPIFF – full review coming soon

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)

full review

thosewhowishmedead

3Reels

Antoinette dans les Cevennes  – My Donkey, My Lover & I (2021)*

antoinette-cevennes-movie

MSPIFF – full review coming soon

The Dry (2021)

full review

thedry-poster

4/5

Cruella (2021)

full review

cruella-poster

2.5/5

Zombieland (2019)

zombieland-original

I tweeted that my hubby and I was going to watch Army of the Dead, the latest zombie flick from Zack Snyder. Well, after about 10 minutes my hubby convinced me to switch to Zombieland instead, which is exactly 1 hour shorter than Snyder’s 2 hours 28 minute movie!! I’m so glad we did as this movie is a lot of fun! The cast is great, but it’s Bill Murray’s cameo that’s especially a highlight. I don’t even mind watching the sequel!

4/5

Dream Horse (2021)

dream-horse-bnr

full review coming soon


TV SERIES

I definitely need to do a blog just for my TV watches this month! Happy to say that I was able to complete not one but TWO extremely good series!! One is a fantasy based on YA books and the other is a spy thriller based on John le Carré’s novel, but both are good and binge-worthy!

HBO – The Nevers (episode 4-6)

Netflix – Shadow and Bone

The Chosen – Season 2

PBS – National Theatre Live’s Romeo & Juliet

Sundance TV – Little Drummer Girl (limited series)

HBO – Friends: The Reunion

Sundance TV – Gold Digger (limited series)


REWATCHES

This is quite unusual but I did not rewatch a single movie [gasp!] – that is quite unusual but I did binged quite a bit of new TV series this month!


MAY MOVIE OF THE MONTH

riders-of-justice-team

RIDERS OF JUSTICE
(full review)

Well this one would likely end up on my Top 10 list of the year, I’m sure of it. Here’s an excerpt from my full review: This Danish action comedy could be the gem of the year, delivering laughs and intense brutal action in equal measure. It can switch from hilarity to extreme brutality in quick succession, yet it doesn’t feel jarring. 


Well, what did you watch this past month and what’s YOUR favorite film you saw in MAY?