October 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

Ok so spooky month is out of the way now… I have to say I’m not as fond of Halloween season as most people do. I mean I rarely watch horror movies anyway and just because it’s October doesn’t mean I was going to start watching scary movies. The only movie I saw that is somewhat spooky is Last Night in Soho. I did see quite a few new movies as well as rewatched some of my old favorites!

In any case, now on to the movie report… 

NEW TO ME MOVIES

I actually didn’t get to see as many new movies this past month, not sure why… but hey, I did get to see No Time To Die at least a week earlier than most, so yay!

Attack Of The Hollywood Clichés (2021)

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This was pretty ok to watch as Rob Lowe is a funny guy, but overall it’s not as clever as they want to be.

Proxima* (2019)

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I watched this as I love Eva Green and Alice Winocour directed the Oscar-nominated French film Mustang in 2015. It’s a really good film that highlights a female astronaut’s journey to space while balancing her role as a mother to a young daughter.

The Last Duel (2021)

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Read my review

The Guilty (2021)

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I had seen the Danish version (which I reviewed here) so I was curious to check out the Netflix remake. I think this Antoine Fuqua film is competently-made and Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent, but I’d say the Danish original is still superior, and frankly I’m not fond of the ending that makes it an un-subtle ‘message movie’ about police brutality.

Burnt (2015)

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A friend of mine recommended this to me and I’m glad I finally watched this. I’m not sure about the poor reviews as I quite like this one and Bradley Cooper is great as the lead. I also love Daniel Brühl, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy and Matthew Rhys. What a cast!! Plus I usually enjoy movies set in London.

MASS (2021)

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This is one of the most effective contained-film that relies of a fantastic script and phenomenal performances. Not sure when I’ll review this, but let’s just say I’m glad I saw it, though it’s not something I ever want to rewatch.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)

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Read my review

DUNE (2021)

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Read my in-depth review

I’m Your Man* (2021)

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Review upcoming – but in short, I LOVED it!

Rumor Has It (2005)

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I don’t normally care for Jennifer Aniston‘s rom-com, was intrigued because of The Graduate reference. Well, I’m not sure about the pairing of Kevin Costner given the 14-year age gap, and they didn’t really have a good chemistry. The movie is meh overall, though I LOVE seeing how cute young Mark Ruffalo is in this movie! 

I Am Woman* (2019)

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I was searching for a female-directed movie on Netflix and found this one, directed by Unjoo Moon. I’m so glad I watched it as I’m not at all familiar with singer Helen Ready but wow, what a woman! Love all the songs here, too, I think I’ll review this one properly one day, but I highly recommend it!

Sounds Like Love* (2021)

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Ok, here’s another movie directed by a woman on Netflix, but I could barely finish this one. It’s got a cute premise but most of the characters are intolerable and really hard to watch. If I were to rate this based on what I’ve watched so far, it’d be 1/5 stars, and I doubt the third act would redeem this movie. If you’re not into rom-com, AVOID this one, but if you really love this genre, maybe it’s still watchable, but I’m not sure.

Little Italy (2018)

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Ok so the poster apparently went viral a few years ago, which isn’t surprising as some people could hardly believe this movie even existed!! Well, I had to watch it to believe it and wow, it’s a rom-com released in 2018 but has the sensibilities (AND all the clichés) of something in the early 90s. Interesting that the director had made another pizza-related rom-com Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts, and at one point, Julia’s niece Emma Roberts also wore a t-shirt that says A Slice in Heaven. Well, this movie is far from being heavenly, but still amusing to see Hayden Christensen as he seems to be heading into a come-back with him reprising his role as Anakin/Darth Vader in the upcoming Ahsoka Disney+ series.

A Fire Within (2021)

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Read my review

Movies That Made Us: ALIENS (2021)

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I always enjoy the behind-the-scenes process of how a hit movie got made, and this one proved that A) James Cameron is a super intense and perfectionist director that often rubs cast/crew the wrong way (surprise, surprise!) and B) Sigourney Weaver is not just a strong heroine on screen but off-screen as well with the way she vouched and fought for the crew, you go girl!

Eternals* (2021)

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Review upcoming… not a bad film per-se, but pretty disappointing.

The Song of Lunch (2010)

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This is more of a poetic experimental TV Movie than an actual film but I decided to watch it as I LOVE both Emma Thompson AND Alan Rickman, who were co-stars in my all-time favorite movie Sense & Sensibility, as well as Christmas staple Love, Actually. It’s watchable simply because of those two charismatic actors.

Finch (2021)

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Review upcoming – but it’s pretty good!

Belfast (2021)

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Review upcoming – but for now I can say that I loved it!
I’m convinced this will get an Oscar nom for Best Picture.

Last Night in Soho (2021)

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Read Vince’s review

I saw this last night on Halloween and I quite enjoyed it, primarily for the visual style, 60s retro music and Thomasin McKenzie’s performance.


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I managed to see FIVE films directed by women in October, which means I’m on a good track to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

Apple TV+ FOUNDATION (2021)

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So far the only series I watched this month is FOUNDATION, and it’s been slow-going… partly because the series isn’t as engaging as I had hoped (despite THAT scene of shirtless Lee Pace, ahah). I love the premise so I still haven’t given up hope, but hopefully it gets better as A WHEEL OF TIME is arriving in mid November so I know I’ll be watching THAT!


REWATCHES

Titanic (1997) | No Time To Die (2021) | Serendipity (2001)

Some fun rewatches this month! I re-watched No Time To Die on opening weekend with my husband and I actually liked it a bit more the second time around, but I stand by what I said in my review.

Titanic is on Netflix again so of course I had to watch it again, though it took me a couple of days to finish it, such a long movie!! (and yes, I think there is room in that bloody door for TWO people, or at least Rose should help Jack find another log to rest on, I think he’d still be alive!)

Not sure why I rewatched Serendipity again but I LOVE the NYC scenery in that movie even though the plot is so preposterous.

One Night with the King (2006) | Paddington (2014) | Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I’ve been reading the Esther story and found that One Night With the King is free on Tubi. It’s actually a pretty decent film with huge names like Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif (reuniting after Lawrence of Arabia!), and Tiffany Dupont is lovely as Queen Esther. Luke Goss is such a strange casting pick as King Xerxes, it’s especially amusing to me as I used to like the music from his British duo, BROS.

Paddington and Sense & Sensibility are two of my all-time fave British movies. I LOVE the Ang Lee’s Jane Austen adaptation every single time I saw it (which I lost count at this point). Paddington is still adorable, but I much prefer Paddington 2 which is far superior to the original.


OCTOBER MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

It’s another tie for Movie of the Month … they couldn’t be more different in terms of story, tone and visual style but they’re both competently-made and also deeply personal for both directors.

Denis Villeneuve has dreamed of making DUNE since he was 13 years old, which was 40 years ago, while Kenneth Branagh wrote BELFAST as a love letter to his hometown that he left when he was 9 years of age (over 50 years ago) when his family uprooted to London during the Troubles period.


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in OCTOBER?

September 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

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HAPPY FALL, everyone! I’ve actually put out my Fall floral decór with pumpkins on my front porch and swapped out my door wreath with sunflowers, pinecones, etc. Autumn is my favorite season here in Minnesota and we get such gorgeous Fall foliage this time of year, so we’re heading out to a state park up north to marvel at the changing Fall colors!

Ok, now on to the movie report… 

NEW TO ME MOVIES

I actually didn’t get to see as many new movies this past month, not sure why… but hey, I did get to see No Time To Die at least a week earlier than most, so yay!

Minari (2020)

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I saw this on the plane back from LA earlier this month and really enjoyed it. I love the performances, esp. Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn who won an Oscar for her role. Now, I honestly am not sure if this film is THAT good that it’s Oscar-worthy though, but given how few Asian-centric films are recognized, I can’t really complain that it was nominated.

Here Today (2021)

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Crystal is a wonderful performer, and he + Haddish definitely make for a winning comedic pairing, so I’m glad I saw this one.

Full Review

Shang-Chi (2021)

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It’s massively entertaining with dazzling action sequences + fight choreography. Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh automatically add immense gravitas just by being present in this film and I’m happy to say I’m impressed with Simu Liu as an action hero.

Full Review

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021)

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Despite the extensive amount of Jessica Chastain‘s screen time, in the end it’s a pretty thin character study, as I don’t think I know that much more about Tammy Faye than I did before I saw the film.

Full Review

Being James Bond

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A brief 46-min retrospective doc where Daniel Craig candidly reflects on his 15-year tenure as James Bond. It includes never-before-seen archival footage spanning from Casino Royale (2006) to No Time To Die (2021), though given its brevity, it’s not exactly a deep dive into Craig’s Bond career as I had hoped it would be.

The Guilty (Danish film)

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Nordic thrillers are quite popular in Hollywood, hence the countless remakes from Danish productions, but star power and bigger budget don’t always translate to better films. I’m very curious how the Netflix film will fare compared to this one.

Full Review

My Name is Pauli Murray (doc)*

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Review upcoming…

Honest Thief

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My hubby and I actually enjoy Liam Neeson action movies! Thankfully there are TONS of them, ahah. Yes there’s a certain formula to them but some of the plots are actually amusingly-clever, and Neeson is a reliable action star. I might do a Neeson action series review compilation one of these days, but I still need to watch Run All Night, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Commuter and The Marksman.

No Time To Die

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Review coming this weekend… in the meantime, I invite you to check out two Bond related posts from last week: Top 15 Daniel Craig’s JAMES BOND Moments and Ranking Daniel Craig’s Bond Movies.

Good On Paper*

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I haven’t had much luck with Netflix’s rom-com but I was curious to check this one out after seeing the trailer. Firstly, I knew the smiling-too-much guy is a fraud right away, so it’s just laughable that the protagonist didn’t pick up on it for weeks! In any case, I thought Iliza Shlesinger (who wrote and starred in it) is pretty funny… oh and did Margaret Cho lose a lot of weight recently? In any case, it was entertaining enough… glad it’s only 92 min long so it never overstayed its welcome.

Food Club* (Danish film)

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I wanted to see a female-directed film on the last day of the month (and I’m still one movie short for the month)


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I managed to only three films directed by women in September, gotta do better this month! I am hopeful I can actually complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

Apple TV+ FOUNDATION (2021)

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I will review this once the series wrapped, but so far I enjoyed the first two episodes and can’t wait to see more! Check out my in-depth post on the sci-fi series here, based on the highly-influential Isaac Asimov’s books that apparently inspired Star Wars, Dune, etc.

Marvel’s WHAT IF? (2021)

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Though I’m not always fond of every single episode (can’t even think of my fave episode on the top of my head), I do marvel at the spectacular animation of this series. The visuals are truly a marvel, I even think some of the animated characters are better looking than the actors playing them (*wink* Hawkeye *wink*). I also LOVE Jeffrey Wright‘s voice as The Watcher narrating the series and his character finally getting some action in the latest episode.

Ted Lasso – season 2 (2021)

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I love the Rebecca-centric episodes and the latest, No Weddings and A Funeral is such a hoot!! There’s definitely shades of Richard Curtis’ rom-coms in there, and the 80s kid in me rejoice hearing Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up!


REWATCHES

King Kong (2005) | Robocop (1987) | Octopussy (1983) | La La Land (2016)  | Pacific Rim (2013) | Skyfall (2012)

Some fun rewatches this month! I watched King Kong in the hotel after we went to Universal Studios Hollywood. I actually like that Peter Jackson-directed movie a lot even though it didn’t do well at the box office. Coming back from L.A. where we visited the Griffith Observatory, I was in the mood to see a movie with great scenery of the city of Angels, hence La La Land. Pacific Rim is one of those movies I’d watch for no reason as it’s just so fun and entertaining. Seeing Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam together makes me wish they’d both be cast in a Bond movie!

As for Robocop, we actually rewatched this on the big screen as my hubby’s colleague actually has this monthly movie night where he rented a theatre showing older classics. It’s still way better than the remake. 

Lastly, I rewatched two Bond movies in anticipation of No Time To Die of course. I had rewatched The Living Daylights in August, and was hoping to catch Licence To Kill this past month but didn’t get to it so I’ll rewatch it soon!


SEPTEMBER MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

It’s another tie this month… I simply cannot pick one over the other as both are entertaining and meaningful to me.

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

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No Time To Die


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in SEPTEMBER?

Getting ready for Apple TV+’s FOUNDATION series

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I LOVE a good sci-fi series! It feels like it’s been ages since I binge on an expansive space opera, if you will. I finished the latest sci-fi obsession of mine, THE EXPANSE season 5, last November, unfortunately it’s not clear when season 6 will drop. Well, thank goodness FOUNDATION is for sure arriving on Apple TV+ this Friday (yay!!), as I’ve been anticipating this for nearly a year!

PREMISE + SHOW RUNNER

For those who aren’t familiar with FOUNDATION, it’s based on Isaac Asimov‘s seven novel series. The original trilogy was actually written in the 1950s, which won the one time HUGO award for Best All-Time Series, even beating out The Lord of The Rings! He later picked up the book series again in the 1980s with four more books, including two prequels. So what is the story about? Well, according to THR, apparently show-runner David S. Goyer sold THIS one-sentence pitch to Apple which got him the gig:

It’s a 1,000-year chess game between Hari Seldon and the Empire, and all the characters in between are the pawns, but some of the pawns over the course of this saga end up becoming kings and queens

The article puts it like “… a bit like Game of Thrones in space — but over a much, much longer time span.” It’s astounding that this influential work (which apparently inspired Star Wars, Dune, etc.) has never brought to screen before, though not for lack of trying.

Per Wiki, even Jonathan Nolan reportedly was writing and producing a TV series based on the Foundation Trilogy for HBO. Interesting that Nolan and Goyer were both working on Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It seems the centuries-spanning and multiple plot lines of the novels seems to make FOUNDATION deemed ‘un-filmable.’ In this BBC article, even James Cameron told Goyer at one point ‘That one’s hard’, when they heard the rights to Asimov’s work became available. 

Here’s Goyer talking about what FOUNDATION is all about and its influences:

I’ve been reading articles and watching videos to educate myself about the story to help prepare me for the series, as I have not read any of Asimov’s books. I always find it helpful to have experts on the subject explain them to me in layman’s terms, so if you’re curious about it, check out this video:

I’m even more intrigued that Asimov was heavily influenced by The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by English historian Edward Gibbon. There are obviously many factors that cause the fall of such a vast empire, but government corruption, political dispute, and power struggle cause the empire to weaken over time, and that’s a cautionary tale for our world today as well.


THE CAST

I have to admit I’m instantly on board with this series when I saw LEE PACE had been cast! He’s such a terrific actor who somehow still hasn’t gotten his moment to shine yet despite having been in big-budget films like The Hobbit. I first saw him in Tarsem’s The Fall and am baffled as to why he isn’t a bigger star by now. 

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Pace plays Brother Day, the current Emperor of the Galaxy. Watch this interview of him describing the character as being more than one man, but a series of men who for a time in their life inhabit the role of the emperor. Sounds like a challenging part but I’m sure he’d be great in the role.

I’m also excited to see JARED HARRIS as his co-lead in the series. The talented British actor was also in The Expanse and he’s always delivered a solid performance in everything I’ve seen him in. He’s also no stranger to big-budget television productions as he was also in BBC’s Sherlock and The Crown.

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Harris plays Hari Sheldon, the central character of Asimov’s books, the mathematician who predicts the fall of the Empire that would usher in the Dark Ages lasting 30,000 years. He proposes creating the Foundation comprised of the most intelligent minds in the universe as a way to limit those Dark Ages to just 1,000 years, which puts him in direct opposition to the Galactic Empire who’s resistant to change [surprise, surprise!]. 

In one of the interviews, Goyer said FOUNDATION isn’t so much about the future but about the NOW… as we likely will see parallels of two competing visions of the future, and that there are elite forces in world governments today who are resistant to change. He cites Brexit as one of the examples. 

Check out this clip where two parties with competing visions of the future clash:

WOMEN POWER

Per IMDb, three major male characters in the original novels are portrayed by females. Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey), Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) and Eto Demerzel (Laura Birn). Good to see a diverse cast as well.

Per this blog post, Llobell acknowledged there are similarities between her character Dornick with Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins … “He doesn’t know anything about this world, and gets thrown into it, and then has to deal with everything that comes with it… Gaal starts off as a small-town girl, who arrives in the big city, and all her hopes and everything she kind of anticipates is going to happen, doesn’t. She is thrown into this whirlwind of a story and she goes with it, because she really does believe in the math. And that is what drives her, the truth is what drives her.” I‘m most curious to see her character journey in this series!

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Salvor Hardin, a Warden of a planet called Terminus at the edge of the galaxy, where Seldon’s followers establish a Foundation to prepare for the Dark Ages that will follow the fall of the Empire. Hardin is played by non-binary actor Leah Harvey. Interestingly, Harvey had originally auditioned for the role of Dornick, but Goyer saw them more as Hardin. Per that Ownkart blog, she’s quoted as saying “Being non-binary, I see gender as kind of something that’s nothing and everything at the same time, … I’ve had experiences playing Shakespeare characters who are typically male, and my experience doing that is that it doesn’t really change anything, which is quite nice to actually feel because it takes the pressure off.”

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Then there’s Finnish actress Laura Birn who plays Demerzel, the First Minister to the Emperor. Per this CNET article, this character was not in the original trilogy, only in the prequel. The article mentioned that it’s “…a potentially handy device for Goyer and the other creators to have an essentially immortal character that audiences can identify across multiple seasons.”

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SERIES ADAPTATION VS BOOKS

I think adapting such a complex series would be really challenging if they stick too closely to the books, given the large scope and centuries-spanning timeline. Well, based on this article, the series will be a philosophically faithful adaptation of the source material, though the TV series is taking creative liberties elsewhere. I think that is a wise decision on Goyer part. The sheer scale of it would make it hard to have characters audiences can latch on to in a serialized format… I mean, unless all of the characters are immortal or alien beings who live for hundreds/thousands of years. 

Per the CNET article above, a lack of direct conflict in the books would also make it challenging to make for riveting TV series. So I’m hopeful that the creative licenses Goyer + co. are taking would improve the story.

One thing for sure, the production design and cinematography look absolutely stunning! The filming locations include County Limerick, Ireland, Malta, Iceland, etc. so Apple certainly spent $$$ for this series. 

I’m REALLY hoping this series is good! Apple is launching the first two episodes tomorrow, Sept. 24, and one episode is released every Friday thereafter. Check out the latest trailer if you haven’t already:


Are you excited to watch FOUNDATION?