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

1halfReels

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?

APRIL Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

April Recap

How in the world that May is here already? Honestly April feels like a blur to me. Weather-wise it’s also super weird. We’ve got Spring, Summer and Winter all in the same month, but hey at least there was no major blizzard! In fact, it was nice enough to walk around the lake a few times and I look forward to more of those in May.

Oh, I did get my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, so hoping that I can actually travel again this Summer after I got my full dose later this month! Anyway, here are what I watched in April.

NEW TO ME MOVIES

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

GodzillavsKong

This dueling monsters flick was the first movie I watched in April. You know what, I didn’t hate it. I mean, I knew going into it that the movie wasn’t going to be about the humans, so can’t complain that the non Godzilla/Kong characters would be under-developed 😀

3/5;

The Truffle Hunters (2020)

trufflehunters-still2

It’s a fascinating subject about a handful of 70-80 year-old Italian men hunting for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle. I had no idea there’s even these types of truffles but they’re huge! I found the film itself a bit too slow and not as exciting as I had thought, but I’m still glad I saw it.

3/5

Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2021)

MadeYouLook-AnnFriedman

Another fascinating documentary about a subject I’m not familiar with, and what a perfect title! This crime doc focuses on the largest art fraud in American history set in NYC. It’s interesting that the filmmaker was able to get Ann Freeman (AND her attorney), the Knoedler gallery director at the center of the fraud scandal, as one of the talking peoples.

 3/5

Kodachrome (2017)

kodachrome-roadtrip

Read my full review

Limbo (2021)

limbo-movie-still

I LOVE this indie film, so I highly recommend this one. Stay tuned for my full review coming soon!

Orlando (1992)

OrlandoMovie

I wanted to see more female-directed films and this Sally Potter period drama starring Tilda Swinton has been on my to-watch list for ages! Loosely based on Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando: A Biography, it’s a strange, surreal film about a man who live through several centuries, even becoming a woman! Billy Zane seems miscast here though, in fact, it’s perhaps one of the most bizarre thing about this already-peculiar film.

4/5

Betty White – Documentary

BettyWhite-doc

I came across this doc on Netflix and of course I had to watch it. I’ve been curious about this legendary performer with a career spanning eight decades!! What a fascinating life, it just makes me love Betty White even more after watching this.

4/5

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

MaRainey

I finally got around to watching this just before Oscars so I can see Viola Davis’ and Chadwick Boseman’s Oscar-nominated performances. Well, both are truly Oscar-worthy! Oh man, if only Viola won this year, she was incredible! I’m not overly fond of the film itself overall, but that last 10 minutes of Chadwick’s performance was absolutely heartbreaking to watch.

3.5/5 Reels

My Octopus Teacher

MyOctopusTeacher

My hubby and I actually watched this the next day to cleanse the palette after the heavy subject matter of Ma Rainey. What a lovely story featuring one of the most amazing underwater cinematography ever… it made me wish I knew how to snorkel!

4.5/5 stars

Another Round

AnotherRound

I literally saw this the night before the Oscar and it’s perhaps my favorite film from Thomas Vinterberg. His longtime collaborator Mads Mikkelsen is outstanding in the film, which proves how versatile this Danish actor is, able to juggle huge blockbuster franchises and small indie films. I do hope he continue to star in smaller films like this one in the future!

4/5

Wild Mountain Thyme (2021)

Wild-Mountain-Thyme

Ok, I know I’ve been warned via Rotten Tomatoes and Twitter just how weird this rom-com is, but man, nothing prepared me for how bizarre it was! Written/directed by John Patrick Shanley who won an Oscar for writing Moonstruck (and nominated for Doubt), I was scratching my head by the end. The horrible Irish accents by most of the cast (esp. Christopher Walken) wasn’t even the worst thing about it. Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan barely had any chemistry, though I quite like Dornan as a bumbling farmer and I think it suits his persona more than the billionaire Christian Grey (well based on the trailers anyway, as there is no way I’d watch those stinkers, ha!)

2.5/5

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021)

WithoutRemorse

I actually been looking forward to this as I like a few action movies based on Tom Clancy’s books, most recently the Jack Ryan series with John Krasinski. Well unfortunately this one proved to be utterly disappointing despite having the great Michael B. Jordan and other talented actors (Jamie Bell, Guy Pearce). I’m not sure I’ll give a full review yet but this humorless affair’s got a cheesy B-movie vibe all around. Such a total waste of a talented cast!

2Reels


TV SERIES

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 

The Nevers

Death Comes To Pemberley – Miniseries


REWATCHES

I re-watched quite a few animated movies this past month. Not sure why but I guess it just happens. One of our friends spent the night in early April and he had never seen a Daniel Craig Bond movie, so of course we had to put on Casino Royale. It still holds us really well though the ball-busting scene is still hilarious and cringe-inducing, ahah.

Vicar of Dibley: Christmas Special

Casino Royale

Roman Holiday 

Tangled

Paddington 2

How To Train Your Dragon


APRIL MOVIE OF THE MONTH

MyOctopusTeacher-MVP

MY OCTOPUS TEACHER

If there is one documentary I wouldn’t mind watching again, it would be this one. It’s not only gorgeous and soothing to watch but also inspiring to see the unlikely bond between a human with an elusive underwater creature like an octopus. Craig Foster is such a wonderful storyteller and perhaps one of the best documentary subject I’ve ever seen. Most talking heads are so boring but he shows such passion for his friend/teacher, that is the young octopus, that one can’t help but also get swept off my feet by the creature. I wish he named the octopus! Bravo to Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed for their Best Documentary Oscar win, it’s absolutely well-deserved!!


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

March Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

march watching recap

HAPPY SPRING!! We already hit 70 degrees earlier this week, 20 degrees warmer than what it’s supposed to be in late March in Minnesota. Of course we went back to the 30s immediately, but a 30-40 degree swing is pretty common here, but hey I’ll take even the occasional 60-70 degree early Spring day and today we almost hit 70 again, woot!!

Well, March turns out to be a pretty busy month work-wise that I managed to only watch 10 new-to-me movies! Partly because I had been invited to be one of the jury for an intercollegiate shorts film festival for a local university, Augsburg College. My short film HEARTS WANT had been shown at an Augsburg event a couple of years ago, and since it’s partnering with Twin Cities Film Fest which is near + dear to me, I just had to take part. In additional to this list below, I watched about 18 or so short films this month.

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

NEW TO ME MOVIES

French Exit (2020)

french-exit

French Exit is a 2020 surreal comedy film starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a Manhattan heiress who moves to Paris with her son (Lucas Hedges) with the little money they have left. It’s a bizarre film and at times I have no idea where the filmmaker was going w/ it, but still worth a watch for La Pfeiffer’s elegantly-quirky performance.

;"

Where Hands Touch (2018)

where-hands-touch

A rites of passage story of a bi-racial teen struggling for survival in Nazi Germany. I had missed this back in 2018 and given I loved Amma Asante’s work (especially Belle), I decided to finally watch it. The performance of Amandla Stenberg as Leyna is terrific, but the forbidden romance story between Leyna and Lutz (George MacKay), a member of Hitler Youth, isn’t as compelling as Asante’s previous work. It does highlight the history of Afro-Germans, but I think that story deserved a better film.

 2halfreels

The Courier (2021)

courier-movie-ninidze-cumberbatch

Cold War spy Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his Russian source try to put an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Stay tuned for my full review coming up next week!

Sentinelle

olga-sentinelle

Some people on Twitter were calling this female John Wick, but it’s nowhere near as fun. Olga Kurylenko plays a trained French soldier suffering PTSD after a combat mission and uses her lethal skills to hunt down the man who hurt her sister. Started out promising and it tries hard to be edgy, but falls flat and overall a pretty boring, predictable movie with a weak ending.

 2reels

Crisis (2021)

Crisis-Tyrone-GaryOldman

Check out my full review AND interview with writer/director Nicholas Jarecki.

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

wakingneddevine

I watched this as part of my St. Patrick’s Day post and it’s such a delightful, funny and quirky movie!

 4=

Justice League – The Snyder Cut (2021)

justiceleague-snydercut

I only watched this as my hubby was curious about it. I really tried to be neutral about this, though I absolutely abhorred the original Justice League. Can’t say this one is much of an improvement other than the fact that they improved Cyborg’s character development. But seriously, the darn thing is 4 hours long, if they can’t flesh out at least a single character in that time frame, then what the heck is the point?? Visually it’s just not a beautiful movie either, garish and overly morose.

Honestly I don’t see much artistic merit in this movie, I’m just mourning that $70 mil wasted to do another version of this. I mean, it could’ve made like a dozen indie films that are much more compelling story-wise.

 2halfreels

One Night in Miami (2020)

onenightinmiami

I’m so glad I finally saw this! I’ve been too swamped to write a proper review of this but props to Regina King (in her directing debut no less) and screenwriter Kemp Powers for adapting his own play into a solid film. It tells this fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s. All the actors portraying those historical figures did a terrific job here.

4/5 stars

Arsène Lupin (2004)

arsenelupin-movie-2004

I came across this title on Amazon Prime and given how much I enjoyed Netflix’s LUPIN series, I decided to give it a shot. Romain Duris played the charming gentleman thief, involving a love triangle between a seductive sorceress (Kristin Scott Thomas) and the lovely girl from his childhood (Eva Green). Just the cast alone is intriguing, but the movie is pretty weird and borderline bizarre at times, but the French scenery and costumes are wonderful!

 3reels

AUDREY (documentary – 2021)

audrey-doc

I grew up watching Audrey Hepburn and still am in awe of her beauty. It’s fascinating watching this documentary told by those close to her, including her own son Sean Hepburn Ferrer. The ballet scenes are beautiful, evoking her past life as a ballerina, but I think it’s a bit overused. Overall I feel like the documentary feels a bit style-over-substance, which I can see why they did it given Audrey was such a style icon. Still I think the film was made with love and I’m glad it also highlights her remarkable life off-screen as a passionate humanitarian.

 3.5=

 


TV SERIES

Ted Lasso

I just LOVE this series!! I’m going to dedicate a post for it one of these days! It’s rare to see such a defiantly positive show that actually celebrates a good guy and being good to others, there are so many shows that are way too dark + violent these days, so Ted Lasso is just so refreshing!


The Falcon & The Winter Soldier

It’s only two episodes and I’m enjoying the series thus far! I actually reviewed the premiere episode here if you care to check it out. The third episode is the best so far, with familiar faces from MCU.


REWATCHES

MI: Fallout

Greatest Showman

Moulin Rogue!

Civil War

Endgame

The African Doctor


March MOVIE OF THE MONTH

one-night-in-miami

Yet another film based on a play that ends up being my favorite of the month (last month’s fave was The Father). I’m hoping a local theater would stage the play of this one, given how the commentary on Civil Rights Movement is so timely these days.


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

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?

JANUARY Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Hello February! We’re already done with the first month of 2021?! Where did the time go? Well, it’s my birthday month… but February is always a bittersweet time for me.

I actually didn’t watch that many movies last month, though somehow I rewatched more old favorites, most notably the Lord of The Rings trilogy. My hubby and I binged on the LOTR movies over a weekend and they’re still so immensely watchable!

I did watch one in the theaters as one of my good friends I haven’t seen in a while wanted to see a movie after happy hour. We picked a good one that ends up being the movie of the month [see below].

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

NEW-TO-ME MOVIES

Sound of Metal

My friend Vitali reviewed Sound of Metal last October as part of Twin Cities Film Fest. I wish I had seen this one on the big screen. It’s such a beautiful and moving story of a musician dealing with sudden deafness, boasted by a phenomenal performance by the talented Riz Ahmed. I sure hope he’d get some recognition for his performance here.

The Dig

Read my full review

The Mauritanian

Stay tuned for my review in mid February –
the film is to be released on Feb 19

Malcolm and Marie

Stay tuned for my review next week!

Promising Young Woman

Hope to write my review later this week, so stay tuned!


Series:

The Expanse – Season 5

I found season 5 to be a bit slower and less intriguing overall compared to previous seasons, but the highlight is Naomi’s reunion with her former lover-turned-space-terrorist Marco Inaros and her long lost son, Filip.


Call My Agent – Season 4

This French comedy originally titled Dix Pour Cent! has become one of my favorite series of all time! Since I stumbled upon  a few years ago, I’ve become obsessed with it. Every single episode is amazingly-written and filled with hysterically-funny scenarios the agents at ASK agency constantly get into. The Parisian scenery and famous French guest stars made this even more watchable! This season they’ve got Charlotte Gainsbourg in a hilarious episode. I haven’t gotten to the Sigourney Weaver episode, I think this is the first time they have an American actor as guest on the show.

I have to do a dedicated a post for this series, but if you haven’t seen this yet, I can’t recommend this enough!

Wanda Vision Season 1

There are only 4 episodes so far so I’ll wait until all the end of the season to do my write-up. I’m enjoying it so far. The 50s sitcom style is amusing, funny and fabulous, but it’s the genius of the Marvel team under Kevin Feige that the show is deliberately written to have a strong connection with the MCU. Plenty of supporting characters from previous MCU movies like Thor, Ant-Man, etc. appear on this show, and the SWORD agency gets fans all pumped up that THIS could be the key in bringing the X-Men franchise that Disney now owned to be part of the MCU.

In any case, so who is behind the whole Truman Show-like episodes? I can’t wait to find out more!!



SPOILER ALERT!

Obviously don’t watch this video if you’re not caught up yet with the series as there are spoilers galore on episode 4.


Rewatches:

The Sound of Music

The American President

Call My Agent season 2

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The LOTR trilogy



MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

Promising Young Woman

It took me a long time to finally watch this just last weekend, but it’s so worth the wait! I’m glad I saw this on the big screen with a good friend of mine… as a woman, I think it’s the kind of movie best seen with a girlfriend. 

Writer/director Emerald Fennell‘s feature film debut has been buzz-worthy for good reasons, featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by Carey Mulligan. I haven’t had a chance to review this yet but check out my friend Rodney’s excellent review that perfectly sums up how I feel about this astounding film.


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

DECEMBER 2020 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

Hello everyone!! Happy New Year! Wow, I’m still not used to saying that, ahah. Well, do you feel different now that 2020 is behind us? No? Well, me neither. But hey, I am hopeful for 2021, I mean there is only one way but up after the year we’ve had right? It has to!!

Ok well, I watched quite a few movies/series in December, partly because I had a few days off and as the weather turns colder, we stay in more often.

So here’s what I watched in November:

New-to-me Movies

Mulan (2020)

I had been anticipating this for sometime but I wasn’t going to pay 30 bucks to watch it, so I finally watched it when it became available for free on Disney+. Well, I’m glad I didn’t pay for it… I mean, it’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I just wasn’t moved by it. So overall it’s not a terribly memorable film, I’m not sure I’d even review it.

Much Ado About Nothing – ShakespeaReTold (2005)


I saw this at my friend’s house, mostly because Tom Ellis is in it. It’s alright, it’s an amusing take on Shakespeare with famous Brits.

Last Christmas (2019)

I was a big fan of George Michael growing up so naturally a movie based on his Christmas hits intrigued me, esp. when it’s written by Emma Thompson. It’s a charming rom-com, a bit on the frothy site but it has a big heart. Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding have a sweet chemistry and the scenery definitely gets me in the Christmas mood.

Effie Gray (2014)

Ok, I was curious to see this one as it’s also written by Emma Thompson, but I’ve never even heard of it before. Well, this one turns out to be really, really slow and dull, there’s barely any spark in this movie to make you want to be invested in the story. Despite the beautiful scenery, it’s almost unwatchable. I wouldn’t even recommend this to fans of period dramas.

Wander Darkly (2020)

This romantic drama is well-worth a look for the two leads. Read my full review

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

Check out my Music Break with songs from this jubilant Christmas movie.

The Holiday Calendar (2018)

To be honest, I only watched this one because of Ethan Peck (yep, Gregory’s equally dashing grandson). ‘Twas the season, so I was up for watching more Christmas-themed movies than usual. Unfortunately this one turns out to be one of the meh ones with a corny and predictable story. Kat Graham seems to be popular in this genre, as she’s also in Operation Christmas Drop. Nope, not going to even touch that one.

Charlie Brown’s Christmas (1965)

I live in Minnesota but for some reason I’ve never seen this movie! Yes I know, crazy right? Well, I’m glad I finally did. It’s such a cute movie and it’s actually refreshing to watch a simple, traditional animation style.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

The Movies that Made Us – Elf (2020)

I really enjoy watching this Making-Of series that explored the journey of how some famous/iconic movies got made. As a filmmaker, it’s entertaining as well as insightful… it’s amazing that most of the producers were relative newcomers. David Berenbaum had definitely written a brilliant script, and they were able to get Will Ferrell AND director Jon Favreau, who’s proven to be one of the most talented filmmakers working today.

News Of the World (2020)

Tom Hanks is one of the most reliable actors working today. Apparently this is his first Western and it’s a good one. Full review upcoming.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)


Check out my full review of WW84

Soul (2020)

Full review upcoming

WolfWalker (2020)

Full review upcoming

Death To 2020 – Mockumentary (2020)

I was intrigued to watch this because it’s by Black Mirror‘s creator Charlie Brooker, and it’s got some big name stars as talking-head ‘experts.’ A parody of a year that’s been beset with, well too many things really, is a provocative premise, but overall this mockumentary isn’t all that funny and pretty lame. Heck, it’s more amusing to just watch real news!


TV Series

The Mandalorian Season 2

Bridgerton

Two very different shows but both are worth watching for different reasons. As a fan of period dramas, obviously I enjoy Bridgerton, which is far juicier than any Jane Austen movies, ha! It’s more in line with Outlander in terms of its juicy sex scenes, but no blood/violence to speak of… yet.

I’m still thinking about the finale of both shows, thankfully they have been renewed for season 3 and season 2, respectively. Too bad we have a long time to wait for this as they probably haven’t even started shooting yet.


Rewatches

Notting Hill

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Return to Me

It’s A Wonderful Life

Wow, I must have been feeling quite sentimental as I watched mostly rom-coms, ahah. Well except for that last one… it’s been ages since I saw the Frank Capra classic and last year was definitely the perfect time to rewatch i.


MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

Soul + Wolfwalker

I saw these two back-to-back, and both are visually spectacular. They’re completely different in terms of narratives and animation styles but I love each of them in its own unique way. I highly recommend both of them if you haven’t already.


Per tradition, I usually wait until mid January until I post my Top 10 Films of the year… so stay tuned for that!


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

NOVEMBER 2020 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Wow!! It’s actually December!! Well folks, only a month left in 2020… the year that’ll definitely go down in history as one of the weirdest, most challenging year ever for many of us. I don’t know about you, but I never thought I’d experience a pandemic in my lifetime, but hey surely it isn’t the worst moment in this century. According to the CDC website, the flu pandemic of 1918 happened during WWI. Overcrowding and global troop movement helped spread the virus, causing at least 50 million deaths worldwide, including approximately 675,000 in the US. For comparison, so far Covid-19 has killed nearly 1.5 million people worldwide.

As of today, the lockdown in my state of MN still continues for another 3 weeks… and possibly could last through Christmas. Thank goodness for internet and streaming services … I honestly can’t imagine life without them.

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

New-to-me Movies

The Nest


Read my full review

Life for an entrepreneur and his American family begins to take a twisted turn after moving into an English country manor.

On The Rocks

A young mother reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father on an adventure through New York.

I was listening to NPR last Friday, and they were talking about this Sofia Coppola dramedy so I decided to watch it when I got home. I think it’s pretty enjoyable and worth a watch for Bill Murray being his fun, charming self, but overall it feels a bit Woody Allen-ish, and that’s not exactly a compliment.

The Life Ahead

In seaside Italy, a Holocaust survivor with a daycare business takes in a 12-year-old street kid who recently robbed her.

See my quick review below. Highly recommend this one!

Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb

After unearthing a tomb that had been untouched for 4,400 years, Egyptian archaeologists attempt to decipher the history of the astonishing find.

I’ve always been fond of archaeological documentaries and this one is especially fascinating. All the archaeologists are Egyptians or from that region, which I think made it feel even more personal and even emotional as they truly care about what the findings mean for their people.

The Banker

In the 1960s two African-American entrepreneurs hire a working-class white man to pretend to be the head of their business empire while they pose as a janitor and chauffeur.

Based on a true story, Anthony Mackie + Samuel L. Jackson made for quite a wonderful duo though the adaptation feels rather too safe which lessened its emotional impact. Given the immense talents involved, this film could’ve been far more powerful. Still well worth a watch though.

The Love Punch

A divorced couple scheme to recover the retirement money that was stolen from them.

I actually watched this one and The Tourist back to back… I have to say the scenery is what appeals to me as this one took place mostly in the South of France. Plus it’s got Emma Thompson in what promises to be a fun comedy caper. Alas, no amount of star power nor stunning scenery could make up for a dumb script. It’s so embarrassingly bad, I’m willing to bet the actors signed up for this so they get a free vacation on the French Riviera.

A Princess For Christmas

At the invitation of an estranged relative, a young woman travels with her niece and nephew to a castle in Europe for Christmas, where she unwittingly falls for a dashing Prince.

I can’t even count how many holiday movies there are on Netflix w/ the prince/princess in the title 😀  Somehow I kept seeing this banner amongst its seemingly-endless Christmas rom-coms that got me curious. Whaddayaknow, this one has Sir Roger Moore as a rather curmudgeon English duke… and that Scottish hunk from Outlander Sam Heughan. The lead actress Katie McGrath, who looks so distractingly similar to Keira Knightley (esp her toothy grin), is quite likable despite her touch-and-go American accent. Well, predictably, the movie is filled with typical cockamamie fairy-tale plot that’s utterly schmaltzy, but it’s actually not as bad as I had feared. The scenes of the family decorating the Christmas tree and the servants helping the girl out is quite sweet, it sort of made up for the lack of chemistry between the two romantic leads.


TV Series

The Expanse season 4 | The Queen’s Gambit | The Crown Season 4 | The Mandalorian Season 2

I binged on four excellent series this past month. The Queen’s Gambit proved to be a hit on Netflix and it’s indeed excellent (check out Vince’s review if you haven’t already).

The Expanse season 4 kept up the thrills from the previous 3 seasons, and I love that this time, most of the drama takes place off the ship, in an earth-like planet referred to as Ilus, or New Terra by the UN. It made me even more excited to see Season 5, esp. involving a man from Naomi’s past, Marco Inaros.

I’m not a huge royal family fan, but I can’t help but get caught up in the whole drama of Charles + Diana again after watching season 4. Emma Corrin was really convincing as Princess Di, that’s quite an acting coupe to get someone who doesn’t just look the part but could portray the essence of who we think Diana was. Gillian Anderson is an inspired casting as Margaret Thatcher but I think she did a good job, and I ended up watching a couple of documentaries on the real Iron Lady on youtube.

I’ve only seen 2 episodes of The Mandalorian season 2, but I love that first episode with Timothy Olyphant as The Marshall. My hubby commented right away how he looked so much like Pierce Brosnan with his salt/pepper hair, so true!


Rewatches

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

A dose of Jane Austen is always a good idea. I love, love the visuals of this Joe Wright version and the music by Dario Marianelli.

Vanity Fair (Miniseries)

I wanted to see Tom Bateman in something, anything… and Death on the Nile has been delayed indefinitely 😦 Anyhoo, I quite like this miniseries, which captured the essence of the sly Becky Sharp, played brilliantly by Olivia Cooke. Mr. Bateman looks fetching in that cavalry uniform, even as he falls hopelessly in love with the shrewd miss Sharp.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

This is one of my childhood faves and I still absolutely adore the visuals and the songs by Alan Menken. I gotta admit though, the premise of a girl giving up her entire identity in search for a man’s love doesn’t have the same appeal anymore.

The Tourist (2010)

Can’t believe this movie is 10 years old! This was Jolie pre-Brangelina and Depp hadn’t even met Amber Heard yet… boy that seemed like three lifetimes ago. Well, this movie is so gorgeous to look at–and makes me yearn to one day visit Venice again–but the plot is still as daft as ever. I did find it funnier than the first time I saw it however, but I also find myself shaking my head how a movie credited with three award-winning writers, including Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, could’ve written such a turd!!


MOVIE OF THE MONTH

THE LIFE AHEAD

Though Sophia Loren is one of the most famous actresses of Hollywood golden age, I’ve actually only seen one of her films, Arabesque (because I was hugely into Gregory Peck almost a decade ago). This is a comeback of sort for the 86-year-old actress, as her last feature was in 2010, and The Life Ahead was directed by her own son, Edoardo Ponti. I’ll do a full review of it at some point, but I highly recommend this beautiful and heart-wrenching drama, which you can now watch on Netflix.


Well, what have you been watching in November? What’s YOUR fave movie you saw last month?