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 Skarsgård. 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

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!

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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.

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Where Hands Touch (2018)

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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.

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The Courier (2021)

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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

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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.

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Crisis (2021)

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

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

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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)

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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.

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One Night in Miami (2020)

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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!

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AUDREY (documentary – 2021)

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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?