Musings on 2022 Golden Globes nominations – Snubs + Surprises

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Well it’s still a MONDAY here in my part of the world… I was busy with work all day that I just finally had a chance to look at who all the Golden Globes nominees are. I suppose

While the HFPA acted like it’s business as usual despite being pretty much ‘canceled’ by NBC for their lack-of-diversity, the organization did acknowledge the prevailing problem, with the HFPA president Helen Hoehne saying that 2021 has been “a year of change and reflection.”

We also have 21 new members…The largest and most diverse in our 79-year-old history. Not only have they brought in a fresh perspective, but ideas that will help us continue to evolve.”

Whether or not the new code of conduct would actually stick remains to be seen of course. I sure hope this change is more than just a measure for damage control, or simply to be back in major celebs’ good graces again.

One thing for sure, this morning’s highlights is no doubt Snoop Dogg as one of the awards presenters…

Thank you Snoop… I really could use the laughs after a long day!! I love that he apologized to Ben Affleck for mis-pronouncing his name but man, he absolutely butchered poor Ciarán Hinds’ … I mean, first it’s Kuran, then he corrected himself…’no, Karen Hinds.’ 🤣

I tell ya, they should make him present the Oscars noms too!! LOL


Now, it’s time for the word ‘SNUB’ to take center stage again as award season rolls around… so let’s start with that!

Five egregious snubs

1) So Adam Driver has been in THREE buzzy films: Annette, The Last Duel and House of Gucci – A sing-through musical, a historical epic drama in Medieval times and a crime drama of an Italian fashion royalty… Three incredibly diverse roles in three different genres in which he ALWAYS understood the assignment, and the HFPA didn’t see fit to nominate even a single performance?? He wasn’t just snubbed, Adam was criminally ROBBED.

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2) Speaking of The Last Duel, Adam’s co-star Jodie Comer, who’s ever so versatile (hard to believe she’s also Molotov Girl in FREE GUY! is also robbed of a Best Actress nomination for her breath-taking performance. She outshone all the male cast here as the only character worth rooting for. If they knew any better, they should’ve swapped Jessica Chastain‘s flashy performance in The Eyes of Tammy Faye for Comer’s nuanced, controlled performance.

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3) West Side Story got a few noms, but where is Rita Moreno?? I was certain she would be a shoo-in and her performance was beautiful and emotional. In fact, I think I connected with her the most out of the rest of the characters.

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4) Glad to see CODA made the Best Picture list, but no Emilia Jones??! She is the beating heart of the film and her performance as the only non-deaf actor in the cast is astounding… she even learned sign language for the film.

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5) I’ve been watching Only Murders in the Building on HULU (2 more episodes left!) and I love the trio ensemble of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez. I think the casting made the show work wonderfully, so it’s a bummer to see Gomez got snubbed while her two (white + male) co-stars both got noms. Hmmm… doesn’t exactly bode well for an organization trying to be more inclusive, eh?

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Ok, so this isn’t exactly a SNUB, but I was hoping to see I’M YOUR MAN in the Best Foreign Language Film category. I think this movie is a gem and it’s Germany’s Oscar’s submission to this year’s Oscars, so we’ll see if it’ll be recognized by the Academy.

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Five surprises (good + bad)

1) Let’s start with the good first… I’m thrilled to see Troy Kotsur‘s name in the Best Supporting Actor category, he’s so delightful and funny in CODA. That is a good sign that the diversity extends beyond race but also to performers with disability. His co-star Marlee Matlin has won a Golden Globe so who knows next year could be another year a deaf performer win this award.

2) File this under VERY GOOD SURPRISE category! One of my fave Netflix series LUPIN got recognized in Best TV Series (Drama) AND the fabulous Omar Sy also nabbed a nom, yay! If only there were more LUPIN episodes to watch though.

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3) I’m also pleasantly surprised NOT to see Jared Leto‘s name in Best Supporting Actor category for House of Gucci. I’m surprised because HFPA has made atrocious decisions in the past… I mean, The Tourist, Emily In Paris? So it’s not in the realms of impossibility they’d make another dumb blunder for confusing an over-the-top boorish performance in prosthetic make-up as good acting.

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4) No love for NIGHTMARE ALLEY? It made me wonder if the studio didn’t provide advanced screeners to HFPA members or they didn’t get them in time. I saw it a week ago and I think Bradley Cooper was excellent in the lead role and I figure either Cate Blanchett or Rooney Mara might nab some noms in the supporting category. I know they don’t nominate the technical categories, but I think its dazzling production design + cinematography seems a shoo-in at the Oscars.

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5) Lastly… I didn’t expect to see any Disney+ MCU series to gain any noms, but it’s a pleasant surprise to see nods for WandaVision, including its leads Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany.

On the flip side, it’s a bad surprise that fan favorite Kathryn Hahn who’s the scene stealer as Agatha is NOT nominated 😦

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FULL LIST OF NOMINATIONS

(courtesy of Variety):

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy

“The Great” (Hulu) 

“Hacks” (HBO/HBO Max)

“Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)

“Reservation Dogs” (FX on Hulu) 

“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama

Brian Cox (“Succession”)

Lee Jung-jae (“Squid Game”)

Billy Porter (“Pose”)

Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)

Omar Sy (“Lupin)

Best Performance by an Actress, Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture made for Television

Jessica Chastain (“Scenes From a Marriage”)

Cynthia Erivo (“Genius: Aretha”) 

Elizabeth Olsen (“WandaVision“) 

Margaret Qualley (“Maid”) 

Kate Winslet (“Mare of Easttown”)

Best Director, Motion Picture

Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”) 

Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”)

Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Lost Daughter”)

Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”) 

Denis Villeneuve (“Dune”) 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Marion Cotillard (“Annette”)

Alana Haim (“Licorice Pizza”) 

Jennifer Lawrence (“Don’t Look Up”) 

Emma Stone (“Cruella”)

Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Mahershala Ali (“Swan Song”)

Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”)

Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”) 

Will Smith (“King Richard”) 

Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”) 

Best Television Series, Drama

“Lupin” (Netflix)

“The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)

“Pose” (FX)

“Squid Game” (Netflix)

“Succession” (HBO/HBO Max)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama

Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”)

Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”)

Christine Baranski (“The Good Fight)

Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (“Pose”)

Best Performance by an Actor, Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture made for Television

Paul Bettany (“WandaVision”)

Oscar Isaac (“Scenes From a Marriage”)

Michael Keaton (“Dopesick”)

Ewan McGregor (“Halston”)

Tahar Rahim (“The Serpent”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Leonardo DiCaprio (“Don’t Look Up”) 

Peter Dinklage (“Cyrano”) 

Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick … Boom!”) 

Cooper Hoffman (“Licorice Pizza”)

Anthony Ramos (“In the Heights”)

Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture

Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar”) 

Jamie Dornan (“Belfast”) 

Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”) 

Troy Kotsur (“CODA”) 

Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”) 

Best Original Score, Motion Picture

“The French Dispatch” (Searchlight Pictures) — Alexandre Desplat 

“Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures) — Germaine Franco

“The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) — Jonny Greenwood 

“Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classic) — Alberto Iglesias 

“Dune” (Warner Bros.) — Hans Zimmer 

Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy

Hannah Einbinder (“Hacks”)

Elle Fanning (“The Great”)

Issa Rae (“Insecure”)

Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)

Jean Smart (“Hacks”)

Best Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture made for Television

Dopesick” (Hulu)

“Impeachment: American Crime Story” (FX)

“Maid” (Netflix) 

“Mare of Easttown” (HBO/HBO Max)

The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime Video)

Best Supporting Actor, Television

Billy Crudup (“The Morning Show”)

Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)

Mark Duplass (“The Morning Show”)

Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”)

O Yeong-su (“Squid Game”)

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy

“Cyrano” (MGM)

“Don’t Look Up” (Netflix) 

“Licorice Pizza” (MGM) 

“Tick, Tick … Boom!” (Netflix) 

“West Side Story” (20th Century Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) 

Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture

Caitríona Balfe (“Belfast”) 

Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) 

Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”) 

Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) 

Ruth Negga (“Passing”)

Best Picture, Foreign Language

“Compartment No. 6” (Sony Pictures Classics) — Finland, Russia, Germany

“Drive My Car” (Janus Films) — Japan

“The Hand of God” (Netflix) — Italy

“A Hero” (Amazon Studios) — France, Iran

“Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics) — Spain

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

Paul Thomas Anderson — “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) 

Kenneth Branagh — “Belfast” (Focus Features) 

Jane Campion — “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) 

Adam McKay — “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

Aaron Sorkin — “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”)

Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”) 

Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”)

Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”) 

Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) 

Best Motion Picture, Drama

“Belfast” (Focus Features) 

“CODA” (Apple) 

“Dune” (Warner Bros.) 

“King Richard” (Warner Bros.) 

“The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) 

Best Television Actor, Musical / Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)

Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”)

Steve Martin (“Only Murders in the Building”)

Martin Short (“Only Murders in the Building”)

Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”)

Best Supporting Actress, Television

Jennifer Coolidge (“White Lotus”)

Kaitlyn Dever (“Dopesick”)

Andie MacDowell (“Maid”)

Sarah Snook (“Succession”)

Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”)

Best Original Song, Motion Picture

“Be Alive” from “King Richard” (Warner Bros.) — Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson 

“Dos Orugitas” from “Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures) — Lin-Manuel Miranda 

“Down to Joy” from “Belfast” (Focus Features) — Van Morrison 

“Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) — Jamie Hartman, Jennifer Hudson, Carole King 

“No Time to Die” from “No Time to Die” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) — Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell 

Best Motion Picture, Animated

“Encanto” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) 

“Flee” (Neon) 

“Luca” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) 

“My Sunny Maad” (Totem Films)

“Raya and the Last Dragon” (Walt Disney Studios)


So what are your thoughts on the 2022 Golden Globes nominees? Who are YOUR picks of snubs and surprises this year?

FlixChatter Review: HOUSE OF GUCCI (2021)

House of Gucci is scandalous family feud set in the world of haute couture… a sensational story ripe for a cinematic adaptation. Apparently Ridley Scott has been wanting to film this since the book of the same name by Sara Gay Forden was released in 2000, which centers on the brutal murder of the heir of the Gucci fortune, Maurizio Gucci, by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani. 

The film opens with a shot of Maurizio (Adam Driver), the heir of the Gucci fortune, looking dapper in a gray wool suit and oversized Aviators sitting at a Roman cafe. He rides a bicycle on cobblestone streets to his office and about to climb up the steps … well, the story then rewinds back as to the pivotal moment where it all began. You could say Maurizio and Patrizia’s romance began with a ‘meet cute’ at a costume party … I really think it wasn’t so much Maurizio’s looks that attracted her, but her eyes lights up when he said his name… ‘it was a name that sounded so sweet…’ indeed, Gucci is synonymous with wealth, style and power. The whirlwind romance doesn’t begin immediately, but after a bit of stalking, even down to the library where Maurizio was doing his research for his law degree, he finally falls for her… hook line and sinker.

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The first act establishes the two contrasting backgrounds of the two doomed lovers. Though not exactly poor (her stepfather actually owns a pretty successful trucking business), Patrizia always dreams of living the high life. Maurizio on the other hand, who’s been a Gucci all his life, seems unfazed by it all and was set on becoming a lawyer. In fact, he’s content with working at Patrizia’s trucking company when his snobbish, former silent-actor father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) cuts him out of the family for wanting to marry someone he deems unworthy and a gold digger. There’s a scene in the car with Patrizia where Maurizio scoffs at his dad for living in the past and that his grandpa Guccio Gucci who first started the company in Florence, started out as a bellhop London’s Savoy Hotel.

It’s Maurizio’s uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) who actually courts Maurizio into the family business, preferring his favorite nephew over his ‘idiot’ son Paolo (Jared Leto) who just never measures up to his father’s standards. The two brothers own half of the Gucci shares each but they clearly have differing visions for the company. In one of the meet ups, Rodolfo insists on quality-over-quantity and adamantly refuses the lucrative globalization approach Aldo is keen on. ‘No malls’ Rodolfo says to Aldo who really just wants to milk the business for all its worth.

Scott captures the lavish lifestyle and glamour of the ultra rich family… the set pieces, clothes, etc. were meticulously designed and they’re fun to watch. At one point, Aldo throws a lavish party on the patio of his 16th Century historical palazzo overlooking Lake Como. It’s enough to get one intoxicated by the glam, glitzy, decadent life of the ultra rich… Patrizia is practically tipsy over being a part of the Gucci family.

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The first act starts out quite well-paced, with a good sense of intrigue and fun. There’s even hilarious moments such as the loud wham-bam, jack-hammer style sex scene in a cramped office… the full-on campiness is quite amusing as it transitions to an elegant wedding in a church set to George Michael’s FAITH. I don’t mind the anachronism style, though those songs got me somewhat nostalgic and took me out of the movie a bit.

The fairy-tale life of being a Gucci queen seems to be within reach for Patrizia, especially after Maurizio inherits his father’s fortune following his death. I think the film would’ve been more effective if it knows just exactly which Gucci tale it wants to tell. Screenwriters Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna starts out as focusing on the Maurizio/Patricia romance and their rise to power, which eventually tears them apart. As the film progresses, it concerns itself too much with the business side of the fashion label.

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It loses its narrative focus about midway through, thanks to its kitchen-sink storytelling approach, trying to cram as many intersecting storylines from how the cheap fake products are devaluing the Gucci brand to Paolo’s grand ambition to start his own label. The film glaringly forgets about Patrizia early in the third act during its repeated narrative detours, as it was too preoccupied with the battle between father-vs-son-vs-cousin subplot in the race to lead the company. ‘It’s time to take out the trash…’ Patrizia says at one point. If only that’d be applied to the film itself, which could use a much tighter editing scissor to trim its fat.

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The performances did keep me engaged though it’s pretty uneven. Even from its trailer, you know it’s Lady Gaga‘s movie. She totally owns it with her undeniable screen presence, there’s a gleam of madness in her eyes right from the moment she meets Maurizio and wants him all to herself. It helps that her character has the strongest arc in the film… she’s a driven woman who knows exactly what she wants and her narcissistic & overbearing personality clearly drives her husband away.

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Adam Driver is mesmerizing as Maurizio, displaying a disquieting restlessness in a subtle yet effective performance. Despite Maurizio being underwritten, Driver manages to elevate the character and makes him more than one-dimensional. Plus he looks like a bazillion dollars in those sharp suits and the way he carries himself. There’s a hint of ruthless ambition seething underneath his calm demeanor, but there’s almost no transition from the mild-mannered, passive guy to a callous, spendthrift, power-hungry douchebag. Even the romance between him and his mistress Paola Franchi (Camille Cottin) has zero sparks and seems inconsequential despite its actual impact in the real story. Having seen how fiery Cottin is in the Call My Agent! series, this role is such a waste of her talents.

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I was hoping for something indelible when Patrizia, in a blood-red ski outfit, sits down next to Paola and delivers threatening lines like ‘I subscribe to unconventional punishment.’ Disappointingly, the whole thing goes down in an unremarkable way. Same with the ‘Father, Son and House of Gucci’ scene when Paolo asks Patrizia if she can keep a secret… it looks so deliriously juicy in the trailer, but it doesn’t have the same impact in the film.

Speaking of which, Jared Leto in a fat suit and prosthetic makeup is too busy chewing the scenery to portray someone resembling a real person. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s done a good job here portraying the much-maligned Paolo who never gets to spread his creative wings. I just think he veers way over the top in his boorish performance that the character becomes a complete caricature. I suppose Leto often goes well above and beyond the call of duty whenever he portrays a real person, though I wonder if he does it for the attention more so than a dedication to his craft.

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Interestingly enough, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino seem to have similar approaches as the actors playing their respective sons… Irons is all sinister sneering with simmering rage like Driver, while Pacino hams it up with exaggerated hand gestures that reminds me a bit of his performance in Scent Of A Woman. Salma Hayek looks like she’s having more fun here than in Eternals in a small role as a a high-society psychic who becomes close friends with Patrizia. It’s quite ironic to see her as the least wealthy character given that Hayek’s husband actually owns the Gucci brand now.

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As for the accents–everyone adopts a quasi Italian accent to varying degrees. I guess it’s to be expected as Scott never really concerns himself with getting the accents right for his characters. I mean, Russell Crowe’s Maximus is supposed to be a Spaniard in Gladiator but he speaks with more of a British accent, same with all the characters in The Last Duel who’re all supposed to be French.

In terms of direction, I have to admit that House of Gucci doesn’t feel like a Ridley Scott movie compared to his last film released this year, The Last of Duel. I’ve mentioned the script’s lack of focus, which leads to scenes feeling disjointed as some scenes get cut short as another 90s song starts again. Despite the fabulous European locations, the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski isn’t all that remarkable… I can’t even name a single one perfect shot from this movie. Neither is the music by Harry Gregson-Williams, all I remember are the 90s songs, I bet much of the large budget goes towards song licensing.

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The style MVP is definitely costume designer Janty Yates in creating the 90s looks befitting of the fashion-centric movie. I enjoy seeing the various suits and outfits worn by the cast, especially Driver who undergoes quite a style transformation from the dweeby sweaters in his college years to the sharp bespoke suits as Maurizio gains more power and drowns in debt.

It’s a testament to this outlandish tale that I still find the movie quite immersive despite its flaws. I was absorbed in the wild, crazy ride throughout its 2 hours 37 min running time. It actually took me a few days to ‘recover’ from this story, as I watched all kinds of YouTube videos about the Gucci family following the film. It is so tragic that the once-unrivaled fashion empire that’s been created three quarter of a century ago ends up being destroyed by its own family rivalry. Truth really is stranger than fiction!

Given how sensational this story is, you’d think the film would’ve been more impactful and indelible. If it were a meticulously-tailored bespoke suit, House of Gucci seems to have all the right material to put it together. Alas, the execution (no pun intended) doesn’t quite measure up.

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Have you seen HOUSE OF GUCCI? Well, what did YOU think?

Ranking ADAM DRIVER’s 10-best roles in honor of his birthday!

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Ahhhh… I almost missed Adam Driver‘s 38th birthday on Friday, November 19 if it weren’t for my photography-enthusiast husband pointing it out to me on Instagram. Apparently one of the photographers he follows on IG, Jason Belle, had wished him a happy birthday.

I’ve been crushing on this Indiana-native for some time now… it’s been a steady buildup for a few years but it kind of went into overdrive [no pun intended] after seeing Annette, specifically THIS shot…

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… which is quickly followed by rewatches of the Star Wars movies … I have a thing for dark, wavy, thick hair so when I first saw Kylo took his helmet off for the first time, I remember my heart skipping a beat 😍

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Adam DriverHow do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Actually no… it’ll be super long blog post if I go into that, ahah… but let me share just a few… I do love that he is a Midwestern boy… from Mishawaka, Indiana specifically (about 8 hours drive from where I live in Minneapolis suburbs… ehm) and clearly he’s still got that small-town charm given his upbringing.

I love how massive his stature is (he describe himself as a Sasquatch in the Peter Travers interview)… he’s easily around 6’3″ with strong postures and perfectly lean muscles… whoever has this idea for this striking Burberry commercial, God bless you!!

I love how he’s equally sexy and adorable in Mister Rogers sweater and in a dapper suit…

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I love his benevolence and philanthropic spirit … creating AITAF (Arts in the Armed Forces) after he had gotten out of the military (yet another reason I love him as very few actors served in the military)… and how passionate he is whenever he gets a chance to talk about it…

I love his deep, masculine voice and the way he can articulate his thoughts carefully… I was watching a bazillion interviews of him on YouTube and it shows so much of his character as a thoughtful and deep thinker, there’s no nonsense about him, not one iota of pretentiousness that you find in so many actors… it’s as if he doesn’t care about impressing anyone and THAT is sexy to me.

I love his incredibly luscious mane… I think even Ridley Scott realizes that, I love his long, beautiful tresses he’s sporting on the two movies he directed, The Last Duel and House of Gucci (review coming next week!)

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But what I love most about him is his phenomenal acting skills… I mean he truly is the most exciting actor working today, someone I would rush to see in whatever movies he’s done. Heck, I took a half day off from work for a morning screening of House of Gucci last Tuesday… and it was so worth it!

So in honor of this ridiculously-talented, Julliard-trained thespian… I’m going to rank 10 of his roles I’ve seen so far, and let me preface that by saying I haven’t seen Silence, This Is Where I Leave You and The Meyerowitz Stories. This ranking is going from my least to top favorite … and to clarify, I’m NOT ranking the movie, but his performance in it, as his performance is often the BEST thing about a movie and makes watching even so-so movie worthwhile. So here goes…

10. JUDE – Hungry Hearts

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The only reason I wanted to see this film is Adam and honestly, I don’t think I could have finished watching it the whole way through if it weren’t for him. The only lighthearted and humorous moment is the meet-cute in a Chinese restaurant bathroom, but the rest of the film was so insufferable and sorry, I simply cannot stand his co-star (Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher). Adam’s performance makes it worthwhile however, which is a testament that a charismatic actor can make people endure even a dreadful film.

9. CLYDE – Logan Lucky

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I saw this ages ago when he wasn’t really on my radar, but I still remember his adorkable performance. I wish he’d do more comedic roles as his deadpan humor is to die for! As Channing Tatum’s brother who’s an Iraq war veteran and an amputee, the role likely resonated with him given his military background. I don’t really like the sound of Southern accents but I could listen to Adam’s West Virginian twang for hours!

8. TOBY – The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

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What a crazy roller coaster ride this movie was… but then again, it’s by Terry Gilliam, which has been stuck in development hell for nearly two decades. I love Adam’s no-holds-barred performance that displays his comedic chops as well as his sexy leading man prowess. There are moments where former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko relentlessly seduces him to make love to her and he continues to elude her… it makes me think of Adam’s penchant of playing the reluctant-hero that he portrays so brilliantly throughout his career.

Adam is always magnetic in every role and he’s so fun to watch in all the insane adventures his character goes through. I love the sumptuous costumes and production design and he looks magnificent in the ornate 17th century fashion… reason enough to watch this movie.

7. KYLO REN – Star Wars Episode VII, VIII, IX

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Ahhh… the wonderfully meme-able Kylo Ren… I didn’t fully appreciate Adam’s performance initially, I actually thought Kylo is hilarious in his inability to control his rage… I remember laughing out loud watching him bash his helmet to shred that even the storm troopers shudder just even hearing him in another room.

But by the second SW movie, I was in awe of what Adam’s done with the role, a tragic character born out of two heroes who’s lured by the dark side… Watching him portray Kylo’s internal struggles is mesmerizing as unlike his grandpa, the mysterious Darth Vader, Kylo’s human side is palpable and while he’s powerful, he doesn’t quite have it all together. But of course he also looks fantastic in those long black coat showcasing his tall, slender frame… plus, there’s the luscious wavy hair [fan self]

6. JACQUES – The Last Duel

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I nearly gasped when I saw his character’s name as Jacques is the name of the male lead in my script Hearts Want, and at some point I had written him as a Frenchman. Jacques is described as a handsome nobleman and there are moments where women of nobility look upon him as if he were some 14th century French heartthrob… well he certainly looks the part.

No stranger to playing baddies, Jacques is the quintessential villain in that he doesn’t even think of his terrible deeds as something bad… and Jacques remains defiant right up to his final violent death. I mentioned that his despicable character threatens to ‘cure’ me out of my infatuation of him… it kind of did briefly which again is a testament to his astute performance, but of course it doesn’t last long.

5. FLIP – BlacKkKlansman

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It’s the role that nabbed him his first Oscars nomination in a supporting role, along with a Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Independent Spirit noms. It’s definitely a juicy role for any actor and Adam didn’t squander that opportunity. As a Jewish undercover cop named Flip Zimmerman who infiltrates a Colorado chapter of the KKK, it’s a role that requires a delicate balance of comedic and drama that he pulls off with aplomb. There’s an earnest-ness about Flip and a stealthy quality about him that makes him a good spy.

4. MAURIZIO – House of Gucci

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I saw this earlier this week so it’s still fresh in my mind. From a French knight to a member of Italian fashion royalty… Adam is convincing in ANY role. Even the House of Gucci‘s costume designer Janty Yates said he’s a shoe-in as Maurizio Gucci as he’s ‘tall and elegant.’ But it takes more than the physicality for an actor to fully embody the role. The way Adam carries himself as the heir of the Gucci fortune exudes money and power, and a hint of ruthless ambition seething underneath that transforms him from a mild-mannered, passive guy to a callous douchebag.

The movie isn’t perfect but his performance is still a highlight for me…he commands your attention right from the first moment he appears on screen… with the camera panning slowly as he’s sitting in a cafe near his office in Rome with his perfectly tailored suits and oversized Aviators. If people hadn’t been convinced of his sex symbol status by now, I think this role surely cements it.

3. CHARLIE – Marriage Story

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I saw this at the Twin Cities Film Fest and though I haven’t had a chance to fully review it, I included it in my top 10 films of 2019. I was rooting for Noah Baumbach to win Best Screenplay at the Oscars as his shrewdly-written script feels so natural and incredibly immersive. Adam’s Charlie is far from being the perfect husband and he’s got rage issues that he displays in some of the explosive scenes in the movie… some of the fight scenes with Scarlett Johansson are visceral and tough to watch, which is a testament to both of their acting prowess. I’m glad both were nominated for acting Oscars that year.

Of course one of the highlights is him singing Sondheim’s Being Alive... an utterly mesmerizing scene that resonates so emotionally. Having seen some interviews where Adam displays such aversion to singing (you could even see him panicking when he’s asked to sing), it’s incredible that he often sings in his films… further proof that he often lost himself in a role.

2. PATERSON – Paterson

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I love that Adam seeks out roles based on how he feels about the director and he clearly loves and understands Jim Jarmusch. Paterson is not a flashy role but a beautiful, soulful one that showcases Adam’s ability to act with just his facial expressions. The scenes where his poetry are written across the screen as he is doing a mundane job like driving a bus day in and day out have such a hypnotic quality. It’s not a film that concerns itself with endless action to keep people engaged and it’s such a wonderful antidote to mainstream Hollywood movies filled with random chaos. In my brief review in my Hidden Gem post, this film is a sweet celebration of life’s small joys and its oddity… I can’t wait to see this again soon.

1. HENRY – Annette

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An absolute tour de force performance that had me transfixed from start to finish. Even from the moment he appears singing with the Sparks brothers and the cast in the opening sequence, Adam was so committed in this surreal, bizarre musical. As a provocative stand-up comedian Henry McHenry, this is perhaps the most feral performance out of him. It’s also a very physical role where he uses his entire body to portray Henry’s simian characteristic… aptly known on stage as “the Ape of God.” I have to admit I was both entranced and appalled by his character, which is obviously by design.

Annette is not for everyone but if one can get past the weirdness of this sung-through musical, I love how it highlights the force of nature that is Adam Driver and I’m forever grateful. His fearless performance is truly one for the ages.


This appreciation post comes a day late… but hey, instead of having an #AdamDriverDay …. might as well make it an #AdamDriverWeekend as we can enjoy his spectacular work all weekend long!

Let me leave you with this sublime, heartbreaking performance in Marriage Story… easily my favorite scene in the film where all his emotions comes through as he’s singing it… it speaks volumes more than all his monologues and incessant yelling. Simply masterful.


So in celebration of the one and only ADAM DRIVER … what’s YOUR favorite role(s) you’ve seen so far?

This Just In! HOUSE OF GUCCI trailer 2

Ok, I rarely post a movie trailers more than once, but I’ve been quite obsessed with the first trailer of HOUSE OF GUCCI that dropped last July. I think that first trailer shows just how a well-made preview can REALLY make a huge impact. I had forgotten the movie is even coming out this year, but as soon as I saw the trailer, it jumped to my most-anticipated holiday movie!!

I’ve mentioned in the previous trailer post about the plot… but here it is again:

Spanning three decades of love, betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately murder, we see what a name means, what it’s worth, and how far a family will go for control.

The story is based on a book of the same name by Sara Gay Forden, she has covered the Italian fashion industry from Milan for more than 15 years. Her book centers on the brutal 1995 murder of Maurizio Gucci (Driver), the grandson of the Gucci company founder, by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani.

Given my crushing for Adam Driver, I’m obviously giddy that I’ll be seeing him in another new movie this year… What inspired casting to have the Midwestern-raised actor as Italian royalty, after playing a French knight in The Last Duel, no less. Hey, why not? He looks as perfectly natural riding a horse as he is driving a Lamborghini Countach. Adam can play anything, in any accent, he’s just THAT good.

But even from these trailers, it’s clear this is a Lady Gaga film… her presence is magnetic and undeniable even amongst a throng of mostly-male ensemble cast. I’ve loved her performance in A Star Is Born, but she looks like she’s really having a good time here and it shows. Will there be another Best Actress Oscar nomination coming her way? My gut says yes, I think she’d be competing with Kristen Stewart for her portrayal as Lady Diana in SPENCER.

Glad to see Jack Huston in a small supporting role as well, He’s a terrific actor who’s kind of underrated, so I’m always happy to see him pop up every now and again.

This movie arrives just in time for THANKSGIVING on November 24, it’ll be the perfect movie to watch with your whole family (the more dysfunctional the better, ha!) I’m waiting with bated breath for the press screening, I’d even take a half day off if it’s during the day!!

The ensemble cast is amazing! In the supporting roles we’ve got Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, and Salma Hayek. I’m also excited to see Camille Cottin (one of my faves in Call My Agent!), I sure hope this one will be a hit for Ridley Scott, as The Last Duel ends up being a box office dud. For sure this looks like a far more entertaining and fun movie to watch in the more stylish, colorful world of the 80s instead of the morose, titanium-gray Medieval times!

Now, back to Adam… I cannot wait to see him trade those silver armor with luxurious, nicely-cut suits and those fabulous oversized aviator specs. He looks like a million bucks as Maurizio Gucci!!

Whoever cuts these trailers ought to get some awards, I’ve watched the first one countless times and this one is just as great. LOVE the use of another iconic 80s song, this time EurythmicsSweet Dreams (Are Made of This) which perfectly captures the glamor, madness, power and the sweet sound of GUCCI, of course it’s all fun and games until someone decides to ‘take out the trash.’

House of Gucci will be released on November 24.


What do you think of the second trailer? 

FlixChatter Review: The Last Duel (2021)

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I have a thing for Medieval stories. In fact, a few years ago, I was quite obsessed with the Wars of the Roses after seeing The White Queen miniseries. So when the first trailer of The Last Duel first came out, naturally I was intrigued! As a big fan of Gladiator, I know Ridley Scott can mount spectacular battle sequences so this is definitely right up his alley, but this time he tackles something that’s based on a true story. It’s worth noting that the film marks a reunion of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, both behind the scenes as screenwriters, as well as on screen as co-stars. The two besties collaborated with Nicole Holofcener in adapting Eric Jager’s 2004 book titled The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France. 

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For a film titled The Last Duel, obviously one expects a ton of gritty battle sequences and that is precisely what we get. The looks of the movie resembles to Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood with the steel gray tones that evokes a moody, atmospheric but also downright miserable feeling. Life was hard back then surely, with rampant bloody wars fought by power-hungry men. Jean de Carrouges (Damon) is always present figure in many of those wars–he’s the Medieval Jason Bourne with equal ferocity and fighting skills. On one of his rare off days, however, Jean meets Marguerite (Jodie Comer), the beautiful daughter of Sir Robert de Thibouville (Nathaniel Parker), a Norman lord who’s considered a traitor by some, as he’s gone against the French king in a few territorial conflicts. Given his financial troubles, marrying Marguerite would be beneficial as it comes with a rather sizable dowry which includes a desirable piece of land in Normandy.

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For a while Jean and Marguerite live a nice quiet life, that is until Count Pierre d’Alençon (Affleck) who somehow bears resentment towards Jean demands that he pays off his debt. Pierre sends his squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to do his bidding, and soon Jacques practically becomes not only his party buddy but also his accountant. Despite having fought together in battles, there seems to be tension between Jean and Jacques, which only intensifies the more Jacques gains favors from Pierre.

The film’s title refers to the last legally sanctioned duel in France’s history, which took place following Marguerite’s claim that Jacques had raped her while she was alone in her estate. Out of anger, Jean challenges Jacques to trial by combat despite King Charles VI court’s warning that if he loses, not only would he be killed but Marquerite would also be burned alive as his loss is considered that her accusation is false. As I mentioned before, life was hard back then, but it’s even harder for women in Medieval times. The Last Duel is perhaps the first big-budget, Medieval ‘Me-Too’ film with a woman’s story at the center and her narrative is what drives the main events throughout the film.

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The film is broken down into 3 chapters to show different viewpoints from the three main characters, starting with Jean, Jacques and lastly, Marguerite. The multiple-chapters concept itself is intriguing, as it potentially allows viewers to immerse themselves in the story. However, the execution can also become a distraction. The way Scott sets it up here, at its best, it enables me to analyze the story from different angles. For example, when we see the story told from Jean’s perspective, he paints himself as a good guy who’s victimized by Pierre and Jacques. But once we see Marguerite’s POV, it’s apparent he’s no saint and that his sense of righteousness and entitlement is what brings him and his wife into the mess they’re in.

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At its worst however, this verbose narrative style prolongs the film’s already bloated running time and becomes annoyingly-repetitive. It doesn’t help matters that the way the most horrific scene is filmed is seen twice!! It’s bad enough that I had to see a woman being brutalized, but I feel that the way the scene was directed lacks sensitivity as it ends up glorifying the perpetrator in the act. There’s that term ‘the female gaze’ and it would have really been beneficial having a woman’s influence in filming THAT scene, especially the second time that scene is shown, which is supposed to be viewed from Marguerite’s perspective. I really think the scene should’ve been ‘seen’ from her eyes… putting the audience in her shoes as she experiences such a heinous act done to her, but instead we see the perpetrator’s face in the throes of ecstasy, twice! From a director who’s been said to be a feminist-ally (after all he gave us Alien and Thelma & Louise), I expected more from him in this regard.

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In terms of performances, Jodie Comer is a a standout amongst the mostly-male cast. Having enjoyed seeing her in the Killing Eve series and in Free Guy recently, she displays a terrific range as a dramatic actress. She’s got such strong screen presence and has the nuance and subtleties as Marguerite endures not only her husband’s callous insensitivity, but also the rejection from her own mother-in-law and girlfriends for coming out about being raped. The script does a good job showing the impossible situation women in the Middle Ages found themselves in when it comes to sexuality and their own bodies.

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As for besties Damon and Affleck, I actually find their casting (and haircuts) a bit distracting here. The fact that the script makes Pierre so unfairly mean to Jean seems amusing given that they’re best friends. I’m glad Affleck didn’t end up playing Jacques as seeing the two duel to the death (Batman VS Bourne) would definitely take me out of the movie! It’s amusing to see Affleck as a comic relief of sort, it helps to have some moments of levity given the sense of dread surrounds the movie. As for Damon, his physical prowess is on display once again with all the fighting scenes he got to do. He still manages to make it believable that he could tackle someone bigger and 13 years his junior like Driver.

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Speaking of Adam Driver, the prolific actor is no stranger for playing unsympathetic characters, but he takes that despicable factor up a notch here. His Jacques is the kind of man who has a warped sense of morality and entitlement, someone who thinks that even doing something as horrible as taking a woman by force is completely justified. Even amongst a long list of terrible characters he’s portrayed, I think Jacques is right up there. In fact, as a big fan of his, I’d say his performance here just might cure me of my infatuation with him, ahah. Of course that is a testament to his strength as an actor and his screen presence is undeniable.

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In terms of action, I’d say the 82-year-old filmmaker’s still got it and his direction big battle scenes are perhaps the best in the business. All the war and fight scenes have such a high degree of realism—Scott and his DP Dariusz Wolski stage those scenes in such a visceral way. I remember the rush of the Germania battle sequence in the opening scene of Gladiator, with the horses galloping and soldiers clashing into each other on muddy grounds with swords/axes clanging. I felt the same way watching the battles in this one, down to the vicious, high-stakes climactic duel to the death that takes my breath away.

Given just how much armors these two guys put on, under lesser direction it’d be like seeing two giant tin cans whacking each other. But the fight scenes are dynamically-choreographed where you can really see what’s going on and they’re fused with real tension and suspense. The costumes, set pieces and locations all help create an authentic depiction of Medieval France. Harry Gregson-Williams‘s music perfectly complements the look and events in the film without overpowering it.

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What you won’t find authentic would be the accents. Most of the actors use whatever accent they want, only Comer and a few of the British supporting cast actually speak with British accents. Apparently Comer helped Affleck with his dialect, while Damon and Driver sound pretty much like themselves with a few ‘British sounding’ moments few and far between. To be fair though, all of the characters are French anyway so even if they ALL sound British, it still wouldn’t be authentic.

Overall, The Last Duel is a competently-made film, but I couldn’t really give it high marks for the main issues I’ve mentioned, which I think detracts from the progressive female-empowerment theme. If you’re a fan of Sir Ridley or any of the cast, I still highly recommend this one. For sure, the epic action sequences did not disappoint and truly lived up to its title.

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Have you seen THE LAST DUEL? Well, what did YOU think?

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!

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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

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Charlie’s Angels – Fallen Angel ep (1979)

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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)

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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)

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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?

FlixChatter Review: ANNETTE (2021)

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What a roller coaster ride it has been doing an Adam Driver marathon of sort. I had just watched four of his films last month for the Hidden Gems series, which I had decided before I got a press screening for ANNETTE last week. Well in a way, the absolute bizarrity of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ends up serving as a pre-req for Annette. It’s interesting that before the film starts, we’ve got a VO of its director Leos Carax telling the audience to hold our breath until the end of the movie. Well, there were a few times I did hold my breath watching this movie.

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It’s been four days since I saw it and let’s just say I’m still recovering from it, ahah. I guess nothing could really prepare you for this rock opera written by the Sparks Brothers. Ok now, even that info alone should tell you this isn’t a movie you watch for its strong narrative. Its primary strengths are its visual style and the catchy songs. I LOVE So May We Start in its opening sequence, starting with Carax and the Sparks with their band in a studio, then they step out the room, meeting the main actors of the movie and the entire group sing the song together as they walk out into the street. That’s such a surreal scene unlike anything I’ve ever seen, which is what you could say about the entire movie.

We’ve fashioned a world, a world built just for you
A tale of songs and fury with no taboo
We’ll sing and die for you, yes, in minor keys
And if you want us to kill too we may agree

That’s just some of the lyrics from the opening song… so don’t say the filmmakers didn’t warn you. When it first came out in Cannes, Twitter was set alight by critics describing a character performing cunnilingus while singing a love song. Well believe it or not, it’s actually NOT the most bizarre thing in this movie.

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The basic plot is that we’ve got a celebrity couple, a stand-up comedian Henry McHenry (Driver) and an opera singer Ann Desfranoux (Marion Cotillard) who falls head over heels in love. Their career trajectory changes course as the film progresses and the birth of their daughter turns their lives into a tailspin. The film’s title is named after their daughter who has a special gift… I’m not going to spoil it for you what her gift is, but what’s quite unnerving to behold is Carax chose to use a puppet for the baby. For someone with a strong aversion for dolls/puppets in general, it took me a while to adjust to that fact, but thankfully there are plenty of things to distract me from it, most notably Adam Driver’s tour de force performance.

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In my post about Annette here, some critics talked about Driver’s towering, imposing physicality being used to great effect in this film. That turns out to be absolutely true. Though billed as a bizarre love story, this is pretty much an Adam Driver show from start to finish and he capably carries this film on his strong shoulders. Carax is known for his grand but strange vision for his films and Driver is willing to match his insane cinematic choices, which I shouldn’t be surprised given he did exactly that for Terry Gilliam. As Henry, his dry sense of humor, sheer rage, magnetic charisma and intensity are in full display here, at times in extreme close-ups. His character preps with boxing regimen in his hooded robe which is quite strange for a comedian, but perhaps that explains why his acts are so militant and physical. Most people have seen how intense he could be as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars trilogy, but given he’s under a mask for most of the trilogy, I feel like you’re robbed off just how insane he’s willing to go for a role.

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Annette feels more like an experimental film at times, but it also feels personal in its depiction of love and loss. I find it hard for me to delve into this film’s plot as even after days watching it, I can’t quite put a finger on it what it’s about. Driver’s Henry–nicknamed ‘the ape of God’– is such a provocative performer who depicts the quintessential toxic masculinity, complete with a Me-Too chorus of women accusing him of various misbehaviors. But even from his stand-up acts where he doesn’t so much deliver jokes but throw lines at the audience to react to, it’s clear he’s got issues. Though both Henry and Ann are performers, the stark difference is that Henry seems to put a lot of himself into his show while Cotillard’s Ann is the opposite. She wears a wig when portraying a larger-than-life persona in her play where she dies at the end of each show. The theme of death ends up spilling over from their stage persona into real life… well, as ‘real’ as it seems in this film given the blurred line between fantasy and reality.

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Despite Driver’s long screen time in the movie (he’s pretty much on screen at least 95% of the time), I don’t really get his character. I’m not sure the filmmakers intend it to be a character study, but at least Driver has an arc as Cotillard’s and Simon Helberg’s the conductor character barely has any. Both have their moments in the movie, but for the most part I feel like their characters are only there to move Henry’s story forward. It’s quite frustrating and such a pity given how talented both actors are. Heck, what living breathing performers want to be upstaged by a puppet baby? Yet that’s what happens here, especially the huge scene towards the end that made me gasp. The ending is as puzzling as ever as it feels anticlimactic. My friend sitting next to me raises both hands as the screen turns to black and said ‘that’s it?!’ Perhaps the filmmakers intend things to be one big giant puzzle, but perhaps they just didn’t know how to end the film.

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In terms of visuals, Annette is gorgeous to look at, shot by French DP Caroline Champetier, it has a neon green/blue tone similar to Holy Motors that she also shot. As to be expected in a musical, the songs are memorable and have such an infectious energy to them. So May We Start and We Love Each Other So Much are still stuck in my head to this day. One thing for sure though, the film’s sheer grandiosity, extreme absurdity and off-kilter sensibilities will likely make this one of the most divisive movies of recent memory. Like Holy Motors, Carax’s distinctive styles are not for everyone. It’s long running time (140 minutes) and odd pacing also doesn’t make this the easiest film to recommend to others.

For me personally, despite some of my biggest quibbles, I had a good time with it. I feel like I don’t have to fully understand something to appreciate it. Just like an art in a museum/gallery, I often have no clue what it means or why it’s constructed in such a way, but it can still be absolutely mesmerizing.

3.5/5 Reels


Have you seen ANNETTE? I’d love to hear what you think!