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?

OCTOBER 2020 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Happy first Monday in November! It’s also the day before the general election… which means we’re truly at a tipping point in the United States. I have to say it’s a bit of an unsettling time for me. I mean, election is always a very interesting time, but more so this year than ever… not only because it’s the first time election happens during a Pandemic in a looong time, but also because of how divided this country is.

In any case, this is a film blog and so I’m going to keep the focus about movies. Hey, we all need escapism during these strange times, don’t you? Well, I’m glad Twin Cities Film Fest went ahead with its first ever hybrid film festival, which means I saw movies online AND at the theater. I actually went to the theater three times in a week, which is unusual in itself given the time we live in now, but Covid protocols were followed carefully with temperature-checking, seatings arranged at least six-feet apart and vigorous theater cleaning. I certainly felt safe going to the movies, though I understand some people might not feel comfortable going just yet.

Anyway, here’s my recap:

New-to-me Movies

The Wine of Summer

I only watched it for Ethan Peck… and the Italian scenery. It’s got an intriguing premise that promises mystery and romance, but the execution is lacking both. Elsa Pataky and Sônia Braga are both alluring women but they’re given barely anything to do. Marcia Gay Harden is also criminally-underutilized as a drama teacher. Now, Ethan has the looks of his famous grandfather Gregory Peck but not quite the talents, but perhaps he just needs the right role

Kissing Booth 2

Maisie Richardson-Sellers – deserves sooo much better than this movie!

I have to admit I only watched this as I’m curious to see Maisie Richardson-Sellers in a supporting role. Oh man, this movie is absolutely awful that I could barely finish it. I fast-forwarded so much of it and STILL it felt too long. So pointless and full of ridiculous and annoying characters, I can’t believe there are TWO of this garbage masquerading as a film, ugh. I’m surprised at the 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it should’ve been waaaay lower than that!!

Interlude in Prague

Having just visited both Vienna AND Prague last year, naturally I’m intrigued to see this as it was filmed on location. Naturally it’s going to be compared to Amadeus but this historical fiction actually focuses more on Mozart’s time in Prague and imagines a scandal involving the woman he’s having an affair with which supposedly inspires his work in ‘Don Giovanni.’

I might review it in details later but I must say the murder-mystery aspect isn’t as suspenseful as it could be and there’s actually a lot more focus on Mozart working on his music. I do enjoy watching Aneurin Barnard‘s (who’s a musically-gifted actor himself) playful and emotional take of the music maestro, while the talented James Purefoy deserves so much better than a vile, one-dimensional evil baron. I’d imagine it’s still worth a watch for Mozart fans however.

Hollywood Fringe (read my review)

Born Just Now (read my review)

Sylvie’s Love

I had the privilege of seeing this at Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF). It’s a charming romance that’s beautifully shot and wonderfully-acted, but I have some issues with the narrative. It has a bit of a La La Land vibe given the music-themed. I’ll review it in more in depth later in December as it gets closer to its release date.

Rebecca

Well, despite the supremely beautiful cast (Armie Hammer and Lily James look ravishing in period costumes) and gorgeous Monte Carlo and English scenery, this film just lacked the mystery/intrigue of the Hitchcock version. It’s still worth a watch for the cast, especially Kristin Scott-Thomas as Mrs. Danvers, but I feel like it doesn’t really give us a compelling reason to exist.

Sold Out

I actually saw this film sort of by accident, but I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed it! I have written the review already but will post it at a later date as I’m hoping to interview the filmmaker as well. All I can say for now is watch out for Kelsey McMahon, such a talented performer!!

Uncle Frank

It’s one of the three films I saw on the big screen at TCFF and I practically went to see it blind, not knowing anything about the story other than it stars Paul Bettany and Steve Zahn. All you need to know is this: Frank Bledsoe (Bettany) and his 18-year-old niece Beth take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina for the family patriarch’s funeral. I’ll review it closer to Thanksgiving which is the date it’ll drop on Amazon Prime.

Nomadland

You’ve likely read about this here if you read my blog regularly. I’m a big fan of Chloe Zhao and this is another reflective, thought-provoking film she wrote & directed, starring Frances McDormand. It’s a rather slow film with not much going on, but definitely a fascinating film nonetheless as we follow a woman in her 60s living as a modern-day nomad in her rackety van.


TV Series

I haven’t even seen the original Perry Mason series but I LOVE this one and it’s a compelling, well-crafted origin series on how the titular character became the defense attorney he’s known for. Matthew Rhys is truly one of the best, most-underrated actors working today… he reminds me of another criminally-underrated Welshman who should be a much bigger star than he is, Timothy Dalton.

My hubby and I had been wanting to binge on The Expanse for a while and we finally started it a few weeks ago. Soooo good!! We finished two seasons in under two weeks and it just keeps getting better and better. We definitely will be on track to catch up on all four seasons before season 5 hits on December 15. Can’t wait!!

On the flip side, I’ve only managed to see one episode of Emily in Paris and I don’t even know if I want to watch anymore. It’s just so superficial, clichéd, silly and kind of insulting to French people or anyone who’s even been to Paris! There’s less froth in this show than even in your regular Starbucks latte! Morceau de merde!


Rewatches

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Not too many rewatches this month but I did see two of my favorite Jane Austen films, Persuasion and Sense & Sensibility with some friends, which is always a lovely time. The only horror-related movie I saw the entire October was Sleepy Hollow, which isn’t that scary but I just love the production design of Tim Burton’s classic, and I find it much more comical than I originally did. I mean, what’s with the sharp teeth of the Hessian aka the Headless Horseman. Poor Christopher Walken must’ve bitten himself so many times wearing those fake teeth!

After I saw Interlude in Prague, I rewatched Hunky Dory again as I just love Aneurin Barnard‘s voice. I’d love to see him in a huge Hollywood musical similar to The Greatest Showman or Singing In The Rain as this Welshman (yes I have a thing for the Welsh don’t I?) can act AND belt a tune!


MOVIE OF THE MONTH

Now, even though I’m not as in love with NOMADLAND as I thought I would, I still think it’s the best film I saw this month and I can see why it’s winning rave reviews all over major festivals. Such glorious visuals with a quiet, meditative grace. I’ll do a proper review of this sometime in December.


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

SEPTEMBER 2020 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Well, happy first full week in October!! I do love Fall in MN, though I wish we had a much longer Autumn than Winter. Though at least with working-from-home situation, I don’t have to worry about having to scrape my windshield after work or worry that my car wouldn’t start when temps gets way below zero!

Well, it’s a rather quiet month movie-watching wise, as we only managed to venture into the theater once in early September to see TENET. Have you seen it yet? Well here’s my review if you’ve missed it. Somehow I didn’t get to see too many new movies this month… September was quite a busy month at work so I was often too tired to watch movies on weeknights that I’d rather read a book instead. So I did finish The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hibbert. Hopefully I have more time to watch movies this month.

Anyway, here’s my recap:

New-to-me Movies

TENET

Love, Guaranteed
Somehow I was intrigued watching this Netflix rom-com, and y’know what, despite its inherent cheese and predictability, it actually wasn’t as horrible as I had feared.  Come to think of it, this is perhaps the first movie I saw Rachael Leigh-Cook in a lead role. She’s got such cute outfits in this movie.

Lady J
My friend who knew my predilection for period dramas recommended this French film to me and I’m glad I watched it! It’s a gorgeous film set in the 18th century France about a widow who plans a rather elaborate revenge against a notorious ladies-man marquis who breaks her heart, but it’s got quite an unexpected twist.

The Social Dilemma

Enola Holmes (review upcoming)

The Bookshop
A slow yet captivating film set in 1950s in a small coastal town in England. Florence Green, a widow who opens a bookshop to help with her cope with the loss of her husband, faces a polite but ruthless local opposition. It’s quite slow going at first, but yet it has a mesmerizing and mysterious quality. It somehow made me want to open my own book shop (though not sure I could be as patient as Florence with the townsfolk!)


TV Shows/Miniseries

The Imagineering Story – Disney+

As someone who grew up watching Disney movies and have been to several Disney parks in the US, this is definitely a fascinating in depth-look at the history and creation of the Disney theme parks and attractions around the world.


 Rewatches

It’s kind of an eclectic rewatch collection this month… you probably wonder, why Reign of Fire??! Heck, I have no idea either, there’s no explanation for why I wanted to rewatch a grim, humorless movie where Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale are battling fire-breathing dragons (in a year that’s supposedly 2020 no less!).  Now of course I have to have a dose of period dramas, especially Jane Austen, hence Persuasion and Possession (two very different movies btw, and the latter is NOT based on Austen novel).

I rewatched only about 3/4 of The Proposal as I was spending a couple of nights in a resort in Brainerd Lakes, MN and that was the only thing worth watching on TV. Oh I did buy Gladiator 4k blu-ray after listening to The Art of the Score podcast during our weekend getaway up north. Give that podcast a listen if you love soundtracks, it’s a lot of fun and insightful!


First Watch in October

PERRY MASON – HBO

My hubby decided to get HBO Max again after we got the free trial to watch Westworld season 3 a while ago. There are SO many good shows to watch, but we settled on PERRY MASON even though we’re not familiar w/ the original series. We do like a good mystery show and Matthew Rhys is such an underrated actor. We’re only two episodes in and I definitely want to see more!


MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

The Social Dilemma + Enola Holmes

Social Dilemma + Enola Holmes

I’ve reviewed The Social Dilemma and I have Enola Holmes‘ review in my draft folder. I highly recommend them both and I do think these two movies are good to watch with your family, albeit for very different reasons.


Well that’s my viewing recap of September. What about you, and what’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

AUGUST 2020 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Happy First Day of September, folks! Well, even though the last day of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere isn’t until September 22, the ‘ber’ months have begun, which means Summer days are definitely numbered. It’s also the first MN Summer during a pandemic… where we, citizens of the world, had to cope with self-quarantine and stay-at-home order. I can’t even remember the last time I actually went to the movie theater!

Well, my hubby and I finally decided we’ll be seeing TENET this weekend!! The theater would only operate in 50% capacity by blocking seats, and they’re committed to take strategic measures in accordance of CDC, WHO and local health authority guidelines. Of course we’ll be wearing our masks while inside the theater.

So anyway, stay tuned for my review of TENET… in the meantime, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

I watched first two on this list, The Ottoman Lieutenant and The Promise, back to back. I wasn’t all that impressed by The Ottoman Lieutenant with its rather cheesy love triangle, but was curious to read about the history behind the film. So I went to Wikipedia and was inspired to watch The Promise right away upon reading it. Apparently both films were within a month of each other in 2017. Per Wiki, the perceived similarities between the films resulted in accusations that The Ottoman Lieutenant existed to deny the Armenian genocide in 1915.

Man I wish I had known that before I watched the movie. It’s so disturbing how the Armenian genocide inspired Hitler and the Nazis in exterminating the Jews two decades later. Any piece of art that tries to deny/shift blame about something so atrocious as systematic mass murder has no right to exist. Even if the film were good, in this case it wasn’t, I still think it should not have been made, let alone released publicly. I’m surprised Sir Ben Kingsley (whose most famous role is in Schindler’s List!) was part of the cast!

I’m hoping I could write more about The Promise, which is a far better film of the two, and was actually based on historical events. It was directed by Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and had a great cast – Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon and Marwan Kenzari.

The Ottoman Lieutenant

The Promise

The Personal History of David Copperfield (review upcoming)

TESLA

Project Power (read Ted’s review)

EuroVision Song Contest (read Vitali’s review)

Made In Italy

The Secret: Dare to Dream


TV Shows/Miniseries


BBC’s Miranda

Black Mirror (Season 4) – Crocodile + USS Callister

ITV/PBS’ Victoria (season 2)

BBC’s The Night Manager


 Rewatches

Sleepless In Seattle | The Rocketeer | Cinderella | Tarzan | Casino Royale | Netflix’s MEDICI: THE MAGNIFICENT 

Since I still have Disney+ subscription, I decided to rewatch some of Disney favorites (though I actually owned The Rocketeer and Cinderella blurays, ahah). I know I’ve been talking about MEDICI a lot lately, trust me… I will unveil my massive two-part Medici appreciation post in the next week or so!


MOVIE OF THE MONTH

The Personal History of David Copperfield

I had been wanting to see this since it came out last Fall in the UK. Its US release was supposed to be in May this year, but of course it was delayed due to Covid-19. Well, it was well worth the wait! Even though I’m actually not that familiar w/ this Charles Dickens’ classic (I think the only two I’m familiar with are A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations), I really enjoyed the film. Dev Patel did a fantastic job as the lead, a result of brilliant color-blind casting, and further proves he’s a versatile actor. I can’t wait to see him tackle yet another classic character that’s typically played by a Caucasian actor… The Green Knight.


Well that’s my viewing recap of August. What about you, and what’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

Weekend Roundup – BBC’s MIRANDA series, TESLA movie + Netflix’s Project Power

Happy Sunday everyone! Hope you all had a nice weekend. I haven’t done these weekend roundup posts in ages, but maybe now that the lockdown/quarantine or whatever you call it continues, I might make this a more regular thing… we’ll see.

I couldn’t pick a more different shows/movies to watch this weekend, don’t I? 😀 Well, I like to spice things up, ahah. On Friday I had a friend over and I actually watched a couple of episodes of MEDICI: The Magnificent (again… I’m trying to convince her to keep watching this series as they’re SO good!!). So we watched the TRUST episode, which is one of my faves of season 3… and trust me when I said I’m still working on a massive MEDICI post, it might have to be broken into 2 parts as it’s really, really big!

Well, when we’re done with a couple of episodes, my friend tried to convince me to binge LUCIFER (why? well… have you LOOKED at Tom Ellis?? If you know me at all, I have a penchant for Welshman, and he practically looks like a young Timothy Dalton!). As it turns out, I find LUCIFER rather meh, I just cannot get into it at all… but we thought about checking out what other series Tom E. has been in, thus… MIRANDA!! And guess what, I was completely hooked right away!!

I’d been a fan of Miranda Hart for a while, she’s so hilarious in SPY, EMMA. and all her Graham Norton’s appearances. But for some reason I just never got around to seeing her popular BBC sitcoms that ran from 2009-2015. Per Wiki, developed from Hart’s semi-autobiographical BBC Radio 2 comedy Miranda Hart’s Joke Shop (2008), the situation comedy revolves around socially inept Miranda, who frequently finds herself in awkward situations. Even her opening sequence is simply adorable!!

So I’ve finished season 1 and 2 (I even tolerated the ads on IMDb TV!) this weekend and SO looking forward to season 3! I’m hoping I could find the Christmas special and other special episodes. I can’t get enough of Miranda… and the funniest & most adorable moments are between her & Gary… I mean we’ve all been there, making a fool of ourselves in front of our crushes!

Here’s the very first episode if you’re curious… the scene of her with Gary (5:50 and 12:20) are hilarious!! I love it when characters break the fourth wall in such a fun way, and Miranda does it a lot!

Of course any sitcom has to have a great cast to support the main star and this show is chock full of the best British comedians … Sarah Hadland, Patricia Hodge, Sally Phillips, James Holmes. Of course the best part of the show is Miranda herself… she’s just a naturally funny and the show is absurd but yet relatable. It’s been a while since I watch anything w/ a laugh track, and it takes a while to get used to, but here, I was laughing along with them every time that soon it didn’t bother me. Ok, here are some hilarious bloopers… man I wish this show is still around, I just can’t get enough!

So thanks Lucifer for introducing me to Gary AND Miranda… funny how you end up finding certain shows. Oh well, better late than never!


Now, the other show I watched this weekend was Netflix’s PROJECT POWER.

An ex-soldier, a teen and a cop collide in New Orleans as they hunt for the source behind a dangerous new pill that grants users temporary superpowers.

It’s got a great cast of Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but it’s newcomer Dominique Fishback who’s the scene stealer. The movie is pretty cool with sleek visuals and dynamic direction, but I feel that overall it’s more style than substance type of action thriller. There are some really dumb, cheesy moments that threaten to ruin all the good things about it, especially in a particularly bombastic scene towards the end… not to mention the undercooked superhero-twist plot, scratch-your-head logic (well lack thereof) and caricature villains.

Ted S. will review it fully sometime later, so stay tuned for that.

Oh, I also watched the new TESLA movie starring Ethan Hawke as the visionary inventor Nikola Tesla, his interactions with Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan’s daughter Anne, and his breakthroughs in transmitting electrical power and light.

It’s a rather unusual take on a biopic, employing surrealistic technique in its narrative. The filmmaker bills it as a distinctly modern voice to a scientific period drama which, like its subject, defies convention. Stay tuned for my full review later this week.


So, what did you watch this weekend? Anything good?

 

Musings on what’s happening in Minneapolis + the Tulsa Massacre scene in Watchmen

Unless you live under a rock or been living in another planet, you’re likely aware of the chaos and unrest that’s been happening in Minnesota… particularly in Minneapolis.

I was ready to post a review of The Trip To Greece, which I had finished last Wednesday, but honestly… I didn’t feel right posting about such a movie when all I could think about was the police brutality that led to George Floyd’s untimely death on Memorial Day. Though I’ve lived in Minnesota since the early 90s, I have never lived in Minneapolis. I live in the southern suburbs about a half an hour away, but I visit the city often on weekends. It’s so heartbreaking to see parts of the city burn, vandalized and people getting hurt… seeing the devastations that started out as peaceful protests. This past week was filled with protests, looting, rioting, etc. that caused so much chaos and destructions that stretch for miles, not just affecting the neighborhoods where Mr. Floyd lost his life, but other neighborhoods as well. Hundreds of National Guard soldiers were mobilized (even Star Tribune paper said if more were needed, it would be the first full mobilization of the Guard in Minnesota since World War II! – that certainly made me pause), and curfews were enforced from 8pm-6am in many areas in and around the city.

George Floyd mural on a wall of Cup Foods at 38th & Chicago, Minneapolis

Race relations in my adopted country United States is often in shaky grounds… it’s even more pronounced in the events of police brutality towards black men and justice was not served properly (i.e. in the case of Philando Castile where the officer who shot him was acquitted) Now, I don’t want to get political or philosophical about this matter, but I’m offering a brief commentary here as a person of color living in America. Coming from Indonesia, a country that was colonized by the Dutch for over three centuries that left its dark legacy of colonialism, it’s hard to overlook the fact that racial prejudice and superior mentality do exist and passed down through generations. Even amongst the most well-meaning, progressive-minded people, many are still ignorant of the pain certain groups have endured for generations, myself included. Thus I do believe it’s important to empathize with people who come from different backgrounds, no matter what race, but especially those who are minorities and marginalized… as we are all human beings created in the image of God. What happened to Mr. Floyd is wrong and he and his family deserve justice.

Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook and I avoid being on social media for much of this weekend. But I did come across an article in the Star Tribune that’s eye-opening and heartbreaking… a violent demonstration happened in Minneapolis Field neighborhood in July, 1931, where thousands of white people protested against an African-American couple moving in to the all-white neighborhood.

“More than 3,000 persons assembled outside the home, occupied by A.A. Lee and his family, to hurl defiance at the police and openly threaten Lee and his friends.”

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about such blatant racism existed back then… but reading that still shocked me. It’s even more sad that this kind of systemic racism still goes on today and in many cities in America.

Another historical incident I did not know about was the Tulsa Massacre, which ironically happens exactly 99 years ago today as I’m writing this, May 31 of 1921. It lasted for 18 hours until June 1st, the following day, where 300 people, mostly blacks, were killed.

I only knew about this event when I saw the explosive opening scene of the first episode of HBO’s Watchmen. The clip on youtube was labeled as ‘riots’ but it was definitely more of a massacre by an angry white mob.

Per Indiewire, this incident highly influenced the series, as Watchmen‘s show runner Damon Lindelof was inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 article The Case for Reparations about the the Tulsa Massacre and destruction of the Greenwood District — aka “Black Wall Street,” the wealthiest black community in the U.S. at the time. I know many fans of the graphic novels are not keen on Lindelof’s reimagining of writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’s original creation, calling it ‘woke propaganda.’ I did not read the graphic novels, but I always think the story has always been political, even if the novel was perhaps more nuanced and complex than how the HBO show depicts it.

I’m actually glad when a movie/show gives me a brief history lesson so to speak, as I promptly googled the Tulsa massacre after watching it. Since I wasn’t raised here in the US and wasn’t taught American history in high school, I never knew this event ever took place. I thought initially this was a fictitious event in the show that depicts an alternate history. But as it turns out, many Americans didn’t know this was a real event, either. No wonder there was apparently a surge in Google search about that incident following the pilot.

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, that event was marked as the single worst incident of racial violence in American history. This article in LA Times said attempts were made to cover up the events in the aftermath of the killings, and it took decades for historians and state officials to unearth the history. I think erasing history is just as atrocious as the actual historical event itself.

Now, I happen to think the show is outstanding in terms of its emotional quotient, acting (esp. Regina King‘s performance), production quality, and entertainment value. Hopefully one day I get a chance to do a proper post on it, but at the same time I feel ill-equipped to review the show. The racial issues depicted in the show seems so eerily similar to what’s going on in America today. In fact, having finished season one just days before Memorial weekend, that horrifying opening scene is still fresh in my mind.

So, back to the story about George Floyd, I sure hope this horrific incident would not become lost in the future like the Tulsa massacre. It’s heartbreaking that such a dark history was nearly obliterated… how can the new generation learn from past mistakes if they are shielded from the truth? Thankfully, it seems that the world has taken notice about this case, and street protests have spread globally to other parts of the world… London, Berlin and Toronto. In an usual move, even major Hollywood companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Warner Bros, HBO, etc. voice their support for Black Lives Matter movement using their corporate social media accounts.

Now, for those of you from out of state/country who are watching only the devastation and horrible things coming out of Minneapolis lately, I’d like to end this post with this FB post by a Minnesota filmmaker that highlights just what’s going on today…

The protests are still going on and the city is not quite out of the woods yet, but I love how the community comes together and show that they care for one another. My hubby and I dropped off supplies earlier today at a local Food Pantry an hour before the drop off location closed and there were lines of cars trying to donate as well.

My heart is still heavy over what’s happening this week, but I pray that Minneapolis and the surrounding community will see light at the end of this dark tunnel… for peace, reconciliation and harmony, no matter how insurmountable all those things seem to be right now.


For my friends in the Twin Cities, stay safe and be safe.