Weekend Roundup: In a Period Drama Mood

Happy Monday everyone! Another full week in store for me this week, but I’m excited for the Jurassic World and Inside Out screenings back to back Tuesday and Wednesday.

This weekend ends up being rather busy but I managed to fit in a couple of rewatches and a new movie I haven’t seen before, the Irish animated fantasy Song of the Sea (review upcoming). My tumblr feed has been filled with all kinds of Jane Austen gifsets lately and so it puts me in a period drama mood.

BBC Sense & Sensibility (2008)
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Most Austen fans would say that their favorite is Pride & Prejudice but for me, Sense & Sensibility reigns supreme, followed by Persuasion. So nearly every year I have to watch at least one version of this adaptation. The Ang Lee version is still superior on the whole, it’s after all one of my top five favorite films of all time. But there are quite a lot of things I love about this version, especially in the casting of Hattie Morahan & Dan Stevens as Elinor Dashwood & Edward Ferrars, respectively. Oh and I also love Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood. Hard to beat Alan Rickman but David Morrissey is more than adequate as Col. Brandon and I’ve grown to like his portrayal more and more. I didn’t care for Dominic Cooper as the dashing cad Willoughby though, and still don’t this time around.

Bride & Prejudice (2004) 

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This is a Bollywood version of Austen’s most popular novel. I’ve reviewed it here, and this is such a fun movie to watch over and over. So goofy and at times hilarious, but I think it captures the essence of the story as Austen intended. Aishwarya Rai is mesmerizing as Lalita Bakshi (Lizzie Bennett) despite being far too beautiful in the role. Martin Henderson provides quite an eye candy as Darcy with his dimpled good looks, and fellow Aussie Daniel Gillies makes quite a charming Wickham. Gurinder Chadha did a nice job adapting the classic story and somehow fit it into the Indian culture. I thought that the portrayal of Lizzie’s parents are spot on, especially Mrs. Bakshi who’s unabashedly eager to marry off their daughters. Naveen Andrews makes for the most charming version of Mr. Bingly, can’t imagine any of the British actors be up for THAT kind of vigorous dancing, ahah.

North and South(2004)

I’ve dedicated a post for Richard Armitage‘s performance as John Thornton in this amazing BBC miniseries a while ago. It still stands as one of my top five period dramas of all time!

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From time to time I’d watch clips of this on Netflix streaming, but this weekend I watched the last two episodes… and of course the ‘Look back… look back at me‘ scene gets me every time! Nothing like a gorgeous tortured soul to stir my heart and Armitage looks positively gorgeous as the venerable & vulnerable Mr. Thornton.

The Rise & Fall of Versailles (2009)

Speaking of gorgeous, of course not a weekend passes by these days without at least one Stanley Weber viewing 😉 And because of the recent casting news that Stanley will be portraying a French nobleman in Outlander season 2, I re-watched this documentary on King Louis XV. It’s also available in the full French version called Le Soleil Noir (The Black Sun) which I’ve also seen despite not having English subtitles.

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For anyone who’s into French history, this three-part documentary that goes all the way to the French revolution is fascinating and insightful, not to mention damn right sexy! The French sure knows how to make history lesson so titillating by casting such hot young actors as their monarchs, ahah. Louis XV is known for being quite a virile King with a colorful sexual history and this documentary doesn’t shy away from that. The set pieces and cinematography is fantastic for a TV documentary and it was filmed on location in Versailles. It’s especially fun to watch this as I was just there last year. So Outlander fans curious to see Stanley in French aristocracy regalia, be sure to catch this one and it’s on youtube and Hulu!


Well that’s my weekend, what did YOU watch?

10 Favorite Romantic Films Directed by Women

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Firstly, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, everyone! I wish you love, good health and good movies… today and every single day of the year 😀

Now, this list is long overdue, but lately I’ve been thinking about all the romantic films that I love… and you know what, a lot of them are directed by female directors! When I mean romantic, it doesn’t always mean a romance genre or rom-com, though many of them certainly are in this category, but it could be from other genres so long as there is some kind of love story involving the protagonist. As with list of this kind, obviously it’s not complete, there are a bunch from female filmmakers I still haven’t seen yet, i.e. Across the Universe, After the Wedding, Monsoon Wedding, etc. That’s where YOU fellow bloggers and dear readers come in, I ask that you recommend one or two of your own picks.

1. Austenland (2013) | Jerusha Hess (full review)

Top10Austenland
I know the critics aren’t fond of this but I had such a blast watching this. The entire theater seems to have a good time as well, even the male moviegoers around me were laughing constantly. It’s a Disneyland-type resort for Jane Austen fans, filled with one hilarious scenario after another. I’m not saying it’s a perfect movie, some of the mindless slapstick stuff are indeed cringe-worthy, but I was caught up in its fluffy buoyant spirit, and the ending is pure escapist romance any Darcy fan would appreciate. All things considered, it’s a pretty good debut from Jerusha Hess who was a writer of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre.

2. Bride & Prejudice (2004) | Gurinder Chadha

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Another Austen-related movie that offers a fun twist to the classic period drama. I first saw Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham which was fun, but I REALLY love this one and Aishwarya Rai is absolutely stunning. Yes she’s obviously too gorgeous to play the supposedly plain-looking Elizabeth Bennett-inspired character Lalita, but she made it work somehow. Martin Henderson is surprisingly endearing as Mr. Darcy, his dimples made me forgive his rather stiff acting style, ahah. If you need a mood-lifting movie, I can’t recommend this one enough! Watch out for the Snake Dance scene 😉

3. Dear Frankie | Shona Auerbach (full review)

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Ok, this is not a romantic film per se but the relationship between Frankie’s mother and the Stranger alone is enough to make this one eligible for this list. Emily Mortimer has a scorching chemistry with Gerry Butler [in one of my all-time favorite roles] despite their rather icy first meeting that’s not exactly a *meet-cute* variety. But man, that doorway scene… slo-burn romance doesn’t get more tantalizing than this. I also love that the ending is open-ended which makes it even more intriguing. Not sure why British director Shona Auerbach hasn’t made another film since. Now if only Butler could find another script as good as this, likely buried under a pile of rubbish he’s constantly picking on lately 😦

4. Little Women (1994) | Gillian Armstrong

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I love this story of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. The cast is fabulous, including a young and vivacious Christian Bale (before he went to the brooding and dark side) and Gabriel Byrne as dashing professor Friedrich Bhaer. On top of the sweet and poignant love story of the four sisters, it’s also a warm celebration of family as they endure trying times in times of war. This reminds me I need to check out more works by miss Armstrong, most notably Mrs. Soffel and Oscar & Lucinda.

5. Lost in Translation (2003) | Sofia Coppola

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I’ve only seen two Sofia Coppola films so far but I think this would likely remain my favorite. I’ve always been fond of unlikely pairings in movies… a faded movie star and a neglected young wife hits it off as their paths crossed in a foreign land. The Tokyo backdrop gives the film a quirky yet strangely melancholic mood that works well for the story. I can see that it’s not a film for everyone as my friends have said it bored ’em to tears but I find it delightful and hilarious.

6. Return to Me (2000) | Bonnie Hunt 

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I’ve dedicated a post for this a couple of years ago and it pains me that a lot of people still haven’t seen this. I’ve re-watched it recently and I’m still in love with it. The story starts out pretty sad but not in a depressing kind of way, in fact, you want these two characters to find love again after what they’ve been through. Thank you Bonnie Hunt for making an unabashedly romantic movie that’s genuinely heartfelt, enchanting and funny. I love the effortless chemistry between David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, and the supporting cast of James Belushi, David Alan Grier, Carol O’Connor and miss Hunt herself are delightful.

“When she met you, her heart beat truly for the first time. Perhaps it was meant to be with you always.”

Oh that line gets me every time. You’ll know why when you see the film. I also have to mention the lovely soundtrack with the likes of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. In fact the movie is named after Martin’s song of the same name.

7. Sleepless In Seattle (1993) | Nora Ephron

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Oh how I miss Nora Ephron. This is the first film of hers I saw and I fell in love with her witty dialog and fun but relatable characters. Of course the genius is in the casting of Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan, even when the two protagonist barely have a screen together, we are so invested in them and really root for them to be together. I have seen this countless times and I also fall in love with the city it’s set in, not to mention the timeless music that fits the film so perfectly. The supporting cast is wonderful, even Hanks’ own wife Rita Wilson has a scene-stealing hilarious moment when describing the finale of An Affair to Remember. This movie is chock-full of memorable scenes!

8. Water (2005) | Deepa Mehta

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This is the last film of Mehta’s Elements Trilogy, set in 1938 when India was still under British rule. The film deals with a heart-wrenching topic of gender inequality for women, especially widows, who must live their lives abandoned in an ashram. There is so much cultural and political depth to this film that was tough to process at times, but it’s definitely worth a watch as it’s such a powerful and beautiful story. There’s a theme of unlikely friendship and forbidden romance, especially the relationship between a beautiful young widow Kalyani (Lisa Ray), who’s forced to prostitution to support the ashram, and Narayan, an idealistic follower of Ghandi from a higher caste. Mehta’s films are rife with controversy, there were intense protests when she was filming this that she had to relocate to Sri Lanka to work on this film. It deservedly earned an Oscar nominated for Best Language Film.

9. What Women Want (2000) | Nancy Meyers

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Regardless of what one may think about his personal life, Mel Gibson was undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s bonafide movie star in his prime. He can effortlessly do action, drama AND comedy. This role shows his movie star charm as a chauvinistic advertising exec who gains an ability to hear women’s thoughts following a fluke accident. Ok so the premise is wacky but this part fantasy, part war-of-the-sexes comedy does deliver the laughs and there’s actually more substance to the story than meets the eye. Helen Hunt is utterly believable in the tough but vulnerable female exec and makes for a great sparring partner for Gibson.

10. You’ve Got Mail (1998) | Nora Ephron

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Another winner from miss Ephron. It has the spirit of rom-coms of the 40s and 50s like Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or even Vincente Minnelli’s Designing Woman with the two eventual lovebirds’ bantering with each other. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks reunited five years after Sleepless in Seattle and actually share lots of screen time together this time around.

I actually saw the original movie it’s based on, The Shop Around the Corner, and though I enjoyed that one, I didn’t love it as much as this one. Again, I love the witty script, thanks to the Ephron sisters Nora and Delia, and of course the two leads are as charming as ever. It’s also beautifully shot in New York City, which almost become a character in itself, especially during the gorgeous Christmas season.

Honorable Mentions:

• Mansfield Park | Patricia Rozema
Top10MansfieldParkThis is a serious oversight on my part, it should’ve been on my MAIN top 10 list instead of Honorable Mentions. Thank you Dave for mentioning it, I can’t believe I’ve forgotten about that one. It’s one of my favorite period dramas of all time, I LOVE the tentative love story between Fannie Price (Frances O’Connor) & Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller). It’s a darker tone of a Jane Austen adaptation as Fannie challenges Edmund’s father of his dealings with slavery in the Regency era, but ultimately, it’s a lovely and compelling love story that holds a special place in my heart.

• Bend It Like Beckham | Gurinder Chadha
• Bright Star | Jane Campion
• ‘Bastille’ segment in Paris, Je T’aime | Isabel Coixet



• The Holiday | Nancy Meyers


This Cockeyed.com article shows a great list of female filmmakers and their movies. We obviously need more of them in Hollywood!


So is your favorite romantic-themed movie on this list? Please do add YOUR own picks that you’d recommend!

Desert Island DVDs: 8 flix I’d take with me if I were stranded on a desert island

Oh the dilemma! Thanks to Andy from Fandango Groovers, in the past month, a whole bunch of us movie bloggers have been inflicted with an amusing predicament. Apparently, Andy was inspired by a UK radio program called Desert Island Discs where guests are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island with only eight pieces of music. The twist for us cinephiles is we’re instead asked to simply pick eight DVDs instead. My initial reaction is thinking about those that might actually help me survive and find ways to get off the island, of which movies like Cast Away would be I’d wish I had in my stash. But really, if you were really stranded and fighting for survival, movie-going experience probably isn’t going to be your top priority. So in this case, the word ‘deserted’ is really up for interpretation. I figure the island could be one that’s been ‘deserted’ by the owner – in Indonesia, if you’re wealthy enough, you can actually buy a piece of an island and make it your own resort. So the island I’m stranded in happens to be previously owned by some Richard Branson-type tycoon who’s forced to abandon it due to some tax evasion scandal – hence the top of the line outdoor theater system 🙂

So without further ado, here are my eight picks (in alphabetical order) that I wouldn’t mind seeing over and over again. Well, that is until the yearn for civilization ultimately beckons.

1. Batman Begins
Why not The Dark Knight, you asked? Well, I do like both movies — and one might argue that TDK is the better one of the two — but I’ve always loved origins story and truthfully, I find this one to be more enjoyable for repeat viewings. Besides, this is truly a movie where Bale’s caped crusader is front and center, instead of being sidelined by a terrific villain in the form of Heath Ledger’s Joker. I wish Maggie Gyllenhaal had been cast as Rachel here though, but at least the rest of the stellar cast well more than made up for Katie Holmes. There are plenty of memorable scenes in Chis Nolan’s first foray to superhero flick, but this spectacular batcave scene where Bruce Wayne conquers his biggest fear is iconic and poignant, plus the music is downright perfect. Gives me goosebumps every time!


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2. Bride & Prejudice (narrowly edges out Moulin Rouge*)
I never thought I’d put this one on my list but when I came across a picture of it, I remember how much I enjoyed seeing this entertaining Bollywood [loose] interpretation of the Jane Austen classic Pride & Prejudice. Director Gurinder Chadha infused this movie with humor and amusing culture-clash scenarios, you can’t help but laugh and have fun from start to finish. Bewitching Aishwarya Rai as the ‘Elizabeth Bennet’ character Lalita anchors the movie with her beauty and charm, of course just like Keira Knightley in the latest adaptation, she’s far too gorgeous to play the supposedly plain heroine. Martin Henderson as Darcy isn’t quite as ‘irresistibly tormented’ as Colin Firth, but he shares a pretty believable chemistry with Rai that the relationship still works. The Indian supporting cast is fantastic, most notably Naveen Andrews as Balraj (Mr. Bingley) and the hilarious Nitin Ganatra as Kohli (Mr. Collins).

*Moulin Rouge comes thisclose to being on this list, but I feel that though some of the scenes of Ewan & Nicole together are totally repeat-worthy, I find that I keep ffwd-ing a lot of the beginning parts of the dvd. So overall, B&P is much more enjoyable for me as a whole.
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3. Casino Royale
I don’t mean to be disloyal to my hero Timothy Dalton here, but I didn’t really agonized too much on choosing this over his first Bond flick The Living Daylight. Mostly because I’m just not impressed at all by Maryam D’Abo as the Bond girl. Now, Daniel Craig is a formidable Bond that surprised everyone – including me – and he benefits from such a well-written script and amazing direction from Martin Campbell. Not to mention the smartest and classiest Bond girl ever, played by the ravishing Eva Green. Vesper Lynd is hands down my favorite, and the scintillating banter scene of the two of them on a train is proof that a Bond girl can be ever so fetching without having to take her clothes off. This is just one of many scenes in the movie I’ll never grow tired of, hence its inclusion in this particular top 20 list.
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4. Dear Frankie (narrowly beats Phantom of the Opera*)
It’s hardly surprising to a lot of you that I’m going to have a Gerry Butler movie, the question is which one? Though I fell for the Scot in Phantom, and yes I do still watch that from time to time, I feel more inclined to include the little-known tiny gem about a little deaf kid whose mother had to lie in order for him to have a father-figure for a day. Butler is only in the movie for 25 minutes or so, but oh quality definitely makes up for quantity. From the second he sits down in front of Emily Mortimer’s Lizzie and orders his coffee ‘Americano, strong’ in his husky, Scottish brogue, we’re done for. The postcard-worthy charm of Scotland scenery, the soulful soundtrack and fabulous acting all around makes this one a flick that rewards you with each repeat viewing.

*Butler owns the screen and cast a spell on women the world over as the half-masked tormented hero, but Joel Schumacher’s direction of Phantom is far from perfect that keeps me this from being a classic movie. Though I’ve seen this flick more than a couple dozen times by now, I don’t know if I necessarily want to see it over and over in a short time span.
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5. Gladiator (narrowly edges out Ben Hur)
I told Andy earlier I’d include Ben Hur on my list, but despite being one of my all-time fave, I feel that if I only had that one and Gladiator, I’m more likely to reach for this Ridley Scott movie. In a way, the two compelling heroes share a similar fate of being condemned to die despite their innocence and face such insurmountable plight. They’re both redeemed at the end as well. Though it seems as if the main theme is vengeance (especially in this ‘My name is Maximus’ scene), by the end of the story, he’s fighting for Lucilla’s future… and ultimately for the people of Rome. Crowe’s performance alone is enough reason to keep re-watching this, but there are plenty of great acting all around, most notably Joaquin Phoenix as the ‘terribly vexed’ arch enemy Commodus. Add the gorgeous cinematography, lush costumes and the much-copied, stirring soundtrack, I’d say yeah, I’m definitely entertained! Oh, as I own the extended-edition dvd version, the special features section will definitely keep me busy for at least a whole week!

6. Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Indy is the one franchise my whole family love. I remember watching Raiders of the Lost Ark with my brothers and we’d always find something to cheer about. The John Williams’ score alone is such a rousing piece that’s practically synonymous with great entertainment. I’m not crazy about the second and the latest installment, but this third one is a real gem. Harrison Ford as the sole hero is enticing enough, now add yet another highly charismatic actor in the mix and you’ve got one heck of a jovial ride you can’t wait to get on again as soon as it’s over. Ford and Sean Connery make for the most perfect father-son duo, and the witty and whimsical script and full-on action scenes keeps you on your toes and far from ever being bored. There are themes of friendship, family, faith, and loyalty that makes this such a satisfying movie-watching experience.
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7. BBC North & South
Ok, I must admit this choice is an indulgent one. But hey, you’re stranded on a remote island with nothing but eight movies to keep you entertained, do you blame me? Besides, I’m normally not a ‘beach-person’ anyway, so by the second day I’d be sick of the warm sunny skies and I’ll be dreaming of the cold, moody climate of Northern England (yes, call me crazy but I’m originally from a tropical country who moved to Minnesota, remember?). Oh, and of course having dreamy Richard Armitage as the Darcy-esque Mr. Thornton can’t hurt either. There are 4 parts of this 235-minute miniseries that center on the captivating slow-burn love story between Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale, but there’s more to it than just romance. In fact, I’m also drawn in by the history of the cotton mill business and their quandary, as well as the complex relationship between the mill owners and the workers. All that provides a compelling backdrop to what the hero and heroine must go through until the moment they finally ‘find’ each other. Oh, and what a moment it is! Just take a look at this train station scene (#16 on the list) and you’ll know why I had to include this movie!


8. Sense & Sensibility
Ahh, last but definitely NOT least. Anyone who knows me realize this one is a shoo-in. On any given Sunday afternoon when I’m not blogging, I almost always reach for this Ang Lee-directed Jane Austen period drama. Thanks to my cousin Rani who first introduced me to this more than a decade ago. I wasn’t instantly blown away by it, but it just kept growing on me each time I watch it — and the fact that I watch this A LOT makes me like it even more! I’m glad Emma Thompson won Best Screenplay for this, though I think her performance is equally noteworthy alongside Kate Winslet. This is one movie where I pretty much have to have the remote on hand in order to rewind some of my favorite scenes, and there are so many of them, especially those involving Col. Brandon, played with amazing subtlety and grace by the always-terrific Alan Rickman! The part when he first beheld Marianne and fell for her is heart-wrenching, and I shan’t ever forget the scene when Marianne murmurs the word ‘thank you’ after he escorts her mother for her. The expression on his face is priceless! I can go on and on about this movie, so maybe a full review is in order. But suffice to say, this is one dvd I simply can’t live without.


Ok, that’s it. I’m kinda glad it’s only eight as this post might’ve gone to a second page by now! To see what my fellow movie bloggers pick, check out Fandango’s blog. You might wonder that I picked my selections out of my Fave Scenes list. Believe me, it’s not intentional, but obviously the two are related. So if anything, I guess I’m pretty consistent in my choices 🙂

So what do you say, readers? Would you care to share what 8 dvds you would pick if you were stranded? Let’s hear it!