Music Break: Five great songs/theme from Richard Curtis’ films

AboutTimePosterI haven’t done a Music Break post in a while but today I might as well hit two birds with one stone to highlight Richard Curtis. Today the British writer/director turns 57 and his time-travel rom-com About Time starring Domhnall Gleeson & Rachel McAdams opens today in the US as well, so I thought why not highlight some of the music from his films.

You could say Mr. Curtis is the King of British Rom-Com, he’s also the man behind great comedic shows like Blackadder and The Vicars of Dibley (my personal fave). He often works with Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) and Hugh Grant, in fact, all of the films I highlighted here have Grant in them! His films are quintessentially British, filled with wacky British humor and cultural references which I really enjoy, but another thing I love about his movies are the great soundtracks.

Here are five from some of my favorite movies written/produced by Richard Curtis:

She – Notting Hill

I’ve never even heard of Elvis Costello’s music before this one but I LOVE, LOVE this song and I like how it plays in the beginning to sort of introduce Julia Roberts’ movie star character. It has such sweet, melancholic melody that


Ain’t No Sunshine When She Goes Away
– Notting Hill

The song choice is just perfect for this scene, it’s as if R&B star Bill Withers knew exactly what broken-hearted William (Hugh Grant) is thinking at this moment as he goes through each season missing his sweetheart Anna. I’m not a huge fan of Hugh Grant generally but too is perfect for this role.


Love is All Around – Four Weddings & A Funeral

I remember playing this song over and over when this film first came out. The song was originally recorded by The Troggs but in this soundtrack it was performed by Scottish band Wet Wet Wet. Apparently it was so popular it remained at number 1 in the British charts for fifteen weeks and was then the ninth biggest selling single of all time in Britain (per Wikipedia). Playful and romantic, just like the movie!


PM Love Theme – Love, Actually

There are a lot of great themes in this film, I also love the Glasgow Theme but this one has such a swooning quality about it but not in an overly sappy way. It has such a rousing and ‘stately’ feel about it too that fits the fact that Hugh Grant’s character is a British state leader.


Have You Met Miss Jones? – Bridget Jones’ Diary

I initially didn’t realize that this song’s part of Bridget Jones’ Diary. I LOVE it, it’s so my kind of music as I was just telling Michael and Jack in this awesome music post. I had no clue that swing jazz is Robbie Williams’ genre, I thought he’s more of a pop star. Originally sung by Sinatra, of course it’s tough to beat the real deal, but still, it’s a lovely song that I can listen to over and over.


Hope you enjoyed the Music Break. Which Richard Curtis’ movie(s) are your favorites?

The Flix List – Valentine Edition: 10 Romantic Comedies I LOVE

It’s Valentine’s Day eve! Guys, did you order your flowers yet? 😀

Photo courtesy of Princess Ashley on Flickr

Romantic comedies or rom-com for short, gets a bad rep these days. Obviously a lot of them deserve it, i.e. When in Rome, Leap Year, The Ugly Truth, etc. which can’t even be included in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. Alas, year after year, Hollywood keeps churning out one banal rom-com after another. But of course, not all rom-coms are created equal, when the ‘chemistry’ is right, that is when the cast, dialog, direction, etc. all mesh together well, we’ve got ourselves a movie that warm the heart. They make us laugh and cry tears of joy and we can always go back to them whenever we need a dose of romance in the movies. So, here are ten rom-coms that I certainly don’t mind watching over and over again (in alphabetical order):

  1. Amélie
    A delightful gem that beguiles me from the start with its unabashed kookiness. Audrey Tatou is perfectly cast in this winning French movie, it proves that a love story can be charming and sweet without being sickeningly saccharine. A delicate balance surely, but director Jean-Pierre Jeunet pulled it off beautifully (check out my full review)
  2. Four Weddings and a Funeral
    Is it wonder this British rom-com was such worldwide box office hit? The highest-grossing British film in cinema history boast a fabulous cast, a wonderfully witty dialog and a realistic portrayal of unrequited love. Witty, funny, delightful… if only there are more rom-coms like this one. This scene alone with Kristin Scott Thomas deserves a place in this list.

  3. Notting Hill
    Ok, I promise you I didn’t pick this one because I have a penchant for floppy-haired Hugh Grant 😀 Let’s face it, who hasn’t dreamed of a scenario like this one, actually having one of our favorite celeb fall in love with us. Yet somehow, despite the lofty potential of cheese, I can’t help but be swept away by the lovely romance between Grant’s everyman and the superstar, played w/ extra megawatt smile by Julia Roberts. The fabulous London location and this inventive changing season scene also play a huge part why I adore this movie!

  4. One Fine Day
    I can’t exactly say I’m a big fan of George Clooney but I’ve got to admit he charms up a storm in this one. He’s got a delightfully effortless chemistry with sexy Michelle Pfeiffer, surprisingly believable as a single mom who’s driven but vulnerable. The New York City setting is as equally appealing as the two leads and definitely adds to the romantic mood. Even the kids in the movie are likable instead of annoying, making this a one fine rom-com.

  5. P.S. I Love You
    Ok, I’m one of those who wants Gerry Butler to get off the rom-com trail, but this is one I actually adore. Initially I thought the usually-serious Hilary Swank was miscast in this, but upon several re-watching, I now think she perfectly captures the essence of a woman mourning the loss of her husband and her bumbling scenes are actually pretty funny. I put this one in my favorite unconventionally-romantic flix list last Valentine’s Day as it doesn’t follow the same formula of girl-meets-boy or a happily-ever-after ending. As I said in that previous post, Butler’s so darn charming you’ll be more than willing to forgive him for his ghastly Irish accent 😀 Not to mention the great supporting cast of Kathy Bates, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Harry Connick Jr., among others.
  6. Return to Me
    If you’ve read this post I titled ‘the beautiful, poignant chickflix nobody’s ever seen.’ There’s a reason David Duchovny and Minnie Driver are one of my fave romantic couples of all time. You just can’t help rooting for them and just want them to find happiness after the circumstances they’ve been through. The classically-tinged soundtrack is awesome, too, especially if you’re a fan of The Rat Pack. I can’t recommend this movie enough, folks, if you haven’t already, put this in your Netflix queue!
  7. Sabrina (1995)
    Last month I listed this movie as one of my favorite remakes. Granted I have not seen the original and Audrey Hepburn’s a tough act to follow. Yet Julia Ormond is enchanting in this Sydney Pollack movie. It’s also surprisingly goofy in parts, and the tone is decidedly fluffy. Like Swank in P.S. I love you, I initially thought Harrison Ford was miscast, but I end up loving him in this role. Greg Kinnear is amusing as always, and he complements Ford’s ‘curmudgeon’ character perfectly. Oh, and if you’re observant, see if you can spot Paul Giamatti as one of the kitchen staff.
  8. Sleepless in Seattle
    Sure the two leads hardly spent more than ten minutes together, but it’s the events leading up to it that is just so fun to watch. This is definitely one of the best of Meg Ryan‘s abundant rom-coms (she’s practically a sub-genre!) and Tom Hanks is as endearing and funny as ever. Lots of iconic NYC scenes and landmarks in this one that no doubt still inspire lovebirds on Valentine’s Day. The supporting cast is great: Rob Reiner, Victor Garber, Hanks’s own wife Rita Wilson, and even Rosie O’Donnell were delightful. Again, the music is one of the best thing of this. In fact, I still play the soundtrack from time to time.
  9. Roman Holiday
    Who doesn’t love Audrey Hepburn? Pair such a lovable icon with an equally winsome Gregory Peck and you’ve got a recipe for a marvelous classic. The Italian setting also piles on the charm and is almost the ‘star’ of the film itself, but of course the charismatic leads can’t be outdone by even the most beautiful scenery. This is also in my favorite unconventionally-romantic flix list, and as I said in that post, the best love story is the unexpected kind.
  10. The American President
    Speaking of unexpected, who’d have thought a movie about a widowed US president be so romantic? But that’s exactly what you get in this Rob Reiner rom-com starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening as the unlikely couple. I’m not much into political movies, but I was able to get past all the rhetoric and just focus on the sweet romance. I love the first time Sydney Wade hangs up on the prez because she thought it was a prank phone call, and the cute first kiss in the China Room. No doubt Andrew Shepherd is on my list of memorable movie presidents.
    ….

Honorable Mentions

10 Things I Hate About You, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Kate & Leopold, Serendipity, Some Kind of Wonderful, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail, (500) Days of Summer, What Women Want, When Harry Met Sally.

The rom-com still on my must-watch list: Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) Well I finally saw it, read my full review.


Here’s wishing you all a lovely Valentine’s day! So what are some of your favorite rom-coms? Viewing suggestions welcome!

Flix Character Spotlight: Fiona – Four Weddings & A Funeral

It’s time for another character spotlight since I slacked off last week. The first one in the series was on the amazing-yet-under-appreciated British actor Rufus Sewell, and this time I’m featuring another Brit, actress Kristin Scott Thomas.

Please note: this post may contain spoilers

This fabulous British rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral pretty much launched Hugh Grant’s Hollywood career. The floppy-haired, stuttering Londoner became an instant heartthrob and the movie itself garnered critical acclaim, including two Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and was a hit with audiences the world over. In fact, according to IMDb, it was the highest-grossing British film in cinema history with worldwide box office in excess of $260 million.

I’m not surprised it was such a hit as it really a charming film with the wittiest script and great performances. It’s an unconventional love story between a commitment-phobe Charles and an American woman Carrie (Andie MacDowell) that spans through… well, what the title says. Throughout their journey, Charles is always surrounded by closest group of friends, who – with the exception of the happy gay couple Matthew and Gareth – are all looking for love of their own. Amongst them, one really stood out to me is the quietly-suffering girl with a massive crush: Fiona. Before I get to the character, let me just say that I’ve always admired Kristin Scott Thomas, the 50-year-old actress always delivers top-notch performances in everything I’ve seen her in: The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer, Life as A House, Gosford Park, and Easy Virtue, among others. Most recently she garnered a BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations in the drama I’ve Loved You So Long.

Though the story is focused on the somewhat topsy-turvey romantic journey of Charles and Carrie, it’s the side story of Charles and Fiona that leaves a lasting impression on me. Sure it’s great to see the two main leads finally hooking up, and so Carrie finally gets her man in the end, la di da. But the witty, well-dressed and loyal Fiona only gets to watch the love of her life gets wrapped up in one romantic endeavor after another. Yet, it’s a testament of how great the script is that they never painted her as a victim, in fact, one doesn’t feel sorry for Fiona so much as deep empathy, as we’ve all been there before, you know, who hasn’t had an unrequited love once in their lifetime? The character also has the most memorable lines, especially the one where she had a naughty chat with the bumbling priest Father Gerald (played brilliantly by Rowan Atkinson) when discussing what it feels like to do weddings for the first time.

This scene below is one of my favorites from the movie, it’s not completely unpredictable but it still pinches your heart when you hear Fiona answers his best friend’s question with “You, Charlie.” Just as soon as she said it, she stops, perhaps regretting what she just did but knew there’s no turning back. It’s an exquisite scene, well-directed, well-written and superbly-acted by both Hugh and Kristin. In the middle of a festive, boisterous party, the mood completely shifts into something so quiet and heart-wrenching-ly real that you could almost feel Fiona’s pain and Charles’ astonishment, yet Fiona never loses her cool even as she bares her soul knowing there is no chance they could be together. What a refreshingly un-sugarcoated portrayal of the reality of love.

(Special thanks to Becky a.k.a Prairiegirl for capturing the clip for me)

If there is ever a moment where you want to scream at Charles for: one, being so darn oblivious and two, for not choosing someone as awesome as Fiona, who’s not only wealthy and beautiful but also knows him inside and out and loves him just the same, it’s this scene. But of course, love ain’t that simple, isn’t it? And perhaps, happy ending is overrated. This movie offers such a wonderful study of relationship that the best love story doesn’t always end up the way you expect it to be.