FlixChatter review: EMMA. (2020)

Jane Austen never dies… from theater adaptations, TV shows to feature films, the demand for Austen-related content remains strong. I am perfectly ok with that. I don’t count myself an Austen purist, so I welcome new interpretations/visions, even crazy mashup like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies can be highly enjoyable (hello Colonel Darcy! ūüėć)

This new Austen adaptation¬†has already broken grammatical rules with adding a period at the end of the title, and it immediately looks visually-distinctive from the moment the film opens. The setting and production design is very much Georgian‚ÄďRegency England, but yet it feels decidedly modern. Set in a lush country village of Highbury where our protagonist Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) has lived all her 21 years in comfort, the mood is appropriately frothy. What does a young woman living a relatively practically stress-free life to do? One must stir up “troubles” of course… and Emma happens to have a knack for matchmaking, or so she thought.

Anya Taylor-Joy with Bill Nighy

The object of her matchmaking is Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). After she influenced Harriet to refuse the hand of a young farmer, Robert Martin (Connor Swindells), Emma’s set to match up her friend with an ambitious local vicar Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor), against the wishes of her close friend Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn). Let’s just say Mr. Knightley’s instincts proves correct… things do not go according to plan. That’s all to be expected in Austen’s comedy of errors. Emma is filled with fun characters, and though not all the casting work to my liking, for the most part the ensemble is quite agreeable.

Mia Goth as Harriet

Let’s start with what I enjoy most about this adaptation… I’ve mentioned the visuals, which is definitely a strong point. Director Autumn de Wilde is a commercial photographer and music video director by trade, and here she works with DP Christopher Blauvelt to create a visually rich and strikingly beautiful. The opulent world the Woodhouse’s and Knightley’s estates are appropriately opulent and lavish, with meticulous attention to details to their costumes, carriages, interior design, etc. The lovely music by Isobel Waller-Bridge keeps the mood constantly upbeat.

Anya Taylor-Joy with Callum Turner

Anya Taylor-Joy is delightful as Emma (I actually like her more than Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1996 version). At times she feels a bit more modern in the way she behaves, but that could be because of de Wilde’s direction overall. Bill Nighy is always fun to watch and he’s quite hilarious as Emma’s obsessively-concerned-for-his-health father. I also adore Josh O’Connor as Mr. Elton and he’s such a great comic relief (at least in the beginning) and not quite as creepy as Alan Cumming was in the ’96 version that made my skin crawl. Now, perhaps I like him too much as I’m supposed to abhor Mr. Elton, but it’s so fun to watch him in such a different role from the more brooding Prince Charles in Netflix’s The Crown season 3.

Josh O’Connor as Mr. Elton

I think de Wilde’s direction definitely injects something fresh to this popular adaptation that it felt like I was watching this Austen story unfold for the first time. When I left the theater, a patron mentioned that this film feels a bit too ‘sitcom-y’ and I can see his point. I read in an interview that de Wilde, who grew up in New York, actually wanted to ‘‚Ķbring American screwball comedy as a style into the making of the film,’ The story itself is a bit of a situational comedy when you think about it, so the light & frothy tone is appropriate. The nimble pacing is definitely a plus as the film does not overstay its welcome, and there are definitely plenty of gorgeous visuals to distract us during the slower parts.

Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley

Now, there are things I’m not too fond of about this adaptation‚Ķ one of them is Johnny Flynn‘s casting as Mr. Knightley. He just looks too much of a rock star (apparently Flynn is a rock star), complete with his blond bedhead hairstyle that is so ill-suited for that era where the upper-class is supposed to look so buttoned-up. Despite a nice chemistry between him and Taylor-Joy (particularly in the exquisite dance sequence), this Mr. Knightley doesn’t make me swoon the way oh-so-dashing Jeremy Northam did in the 1996 version. Oh, and what’s with the brief nude scene as Knightley’s about to get dressed. Is it supposed to rival Mr. Darcy’s wet-shirt scene?? I don’t know, but I just think it’s kind of silly and unnecessary. Now, I’m not a prude and the scene is not exactly sexual (he was being dressed by his servant), but it was distracting and took me out of the story a bit. I also have an issue with the nudity in 1999’s Mansfield Park, an odd choice in an otherwise wonderful adaptation.

Another meh casting is Callum Turner as Frank Churchill who comes across as extremely pompous. Yes he’s supposed to be immature and self-absorbed but Turner turns up the snobbery so much it’s utterly irritating. Fortunately he’s a minor character, he’s not on screen so much as to ruin the entire experience for me. There’s also a scene towards the end that leaves me scratching my head. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s also another moment that took me out of the movie. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a comedic scene but it comes out really peculiar and not particularly romantic.

The social class commentary is an essential aspect in the novel, and I think de Wilde is able to capture that here. The moment Emma flippantly insults Miss Bates during a picnic which she then gets scolded by Mr. Knightley is a good example. The boarding school girls, including Harriet, hold Emma in such a high regard, following her around in awe the way fans would to a celebrity, shows the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The despicable snobbery of Mr. Elton and his wife (Tanya Reynolds), and their poor treatment of Harriet further exemplifies this theme. The setting, costumes, etc. also do a great job informing us of different social structure.

Overall, I enjoyed this adaptation, but Emma always feels a bit too frivolous for me. Even with the social commentary that Austen is known for, the story doesn’t carry the kind of pathos the other novels have that are so emotionally-moving. Plus, the character herself is tough to relate to… after all, Emma is someone who’s handsome, clever and rich, nothing has vexed her in her 21 years of living comfortably and without rival. I lost my mother at 16 so I identified with two of Austen’s protagonists who lost their mother at a young age. But unlike Persuasion‘s Anne Elliot did, it’s never mentioned that her mother’s loss hit Emma particularly hard. I do appreciate that the character does grow up in the end, so the transformation is there. Just because her journey to ‘happy ever after’ is perhaps not nearly as poignant as other Austen heroines, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t earned.


Have you seen EMMA.? Well, what did YOU think?

JULY 2016 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

July16Recap

I can’t believe I’m doing yet another monthly roundup. I swear I just did this not that long ago.

The last day of July also marks a milestone for me as I finally got to type those elusive two words at the bottom of my script!!!

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Now I’m going to lock it away for a month (an advice I took from¬†a screenwriting¬†site) before I tinker with it again‚Ķ so no, I haven’t got to that coveted FINAL draft yet. But still, it took me nearly a year to finally get to this point so it’s quite exciting!

Well it turns out I did watch quite a bit of movies in July, both new-to-me and re-watches. August screenings include Suicide Squad, Florence Foster Jenkins, Pete’s Dragon, Anthropoid and The Light Between Oceans. Still hoping to get a screener link of Equals, the romance sci-fi by Drake Doremus w/ Kristen Stewart & Nicholas Hoult, so hopefully I get that soon.

So anyway, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

13movie

13 (2011)

CaptFantasticCaptain Fantastic (2016) ‚Äď review upcoming

AdventurerMidasBox

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013)

SecretLifePets

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters (2016)

STB

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

AbFabMovie

Absolutely Fabulous (2016)

JasonBourne

Jason Bourne (2016) ‚Äď review upcoming

Laura

Laura (1944)

LifeMovie

Life (2015)


Look for my review of Jason Bourne and a guest review of Café Society sometime next week!


Blindspot Pick

Laura1944poster


 Rewatches

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Gladiator¬†(2000) | Pride +¬†Prejudice + Zombies¬†(2016) | BBC’s Sense & Sensibility (2008) ¬†| Superman Returns (2006) | Toy Story 3 (2010) | The Dark Valley (2014) | Becoming Jane (2007) | Working Girl (1988) | The Age of Adaline¬†(2015)

I ended up re-watching a ton of movies this past month. Most of these are on Netflix and Amazon Prime, so I might as well watch them when they’re still available. Some of them I own the Blu-ray (PPZ, Toy Story 3, Superman Returns and BBC’s Sense & Sensibility) and you know my penchant for period dramas, naturally I have to watch a few every month ūüėČ

I hadn’t watched Working Girl for at least a decade and I have to say it’s definitely shown its age but it’s still pretty enjoyable. Boy whatever happened to Melanie Griffith? I mean Harrison Ford is definitely still relevant and so is Sigourney Weaver, heck even David Duchovny who’s only credited as a guy at a birthday party still has¬†a pretty good career now.

I’m participating in Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur and the this month’s topic is Foreign Language¬†so of course I’m picking one featuring Sam Riley‚Ķ Das Finstere Tal (The Dark Valley), so watch for my comprehensive¬†review of that in the next few weeks.


 TV Series
VEEPseries

I’ve only gotten to two episodes of Season 1 but I enjoyed it so far. Julia Louis Dreyfuss is a hoot as the Veep herself Selina Meyer. I didn’t realize there are 5 seasons already but the good thing is it’s only a half-hour sit-com so it’s easier to catch up on.


MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

MoviesOfTheMonthJuly

It wasn’t as easy to select my movie of the month of July. But out of the contemporary films I saw last month, Captain Fantastic is one I still think about the most. I’m hoping to review it soon, but it’s certainly one of the most unique films ever and Viggo Mortensen is well, fantastic.

I’ve been wanting to watch Laura¬†for a long time. My friend Vince reviewed it for me¬†back in 2011¬†and he highly recommended it. It’s¬†one of the most acclaimed classic noir mystery and was nominated for five Oscars. Well, it certainly lived up to the hype. I was quite mesmerized by the beautiful Gene Tierney.


Well that’s my viewing recap of¬†July. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

JUNE 2016 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

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Wow, the first half of the year has come and gone! I don’t know about you but 2016 felt like a blur to me for some reason. I gotta do a list of the best 2016 movies so far.

Well, it has been a relatively busy month for me that I was unable to make a few screenings, i.e. Central Intelligence, Finding Dory. But I am looking forward to Captain Fantastic, Ghostbusters, Absolutely Fabulous and Suicide Squad later this month!

So anyway, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

EddieEagle
Eddie the Eagle

Zootopia

Zootopia

Concussion

Concussion

TheBFG

The BFG

Tarzan

Tarzan

MidnightSpecial

Midnight Special

HunkyDory

Hunky Dory


Look for Ted’s review of The Purge: Election Year, as well as my reviews of The BFG and The Legend of Tarzan next week!


TV Series

TWQ

Starz/BBC’s¬†The White Queen (2013)
The series that got me all obsessed over Richard III…
and Aneurin Barnard! ūüôā

ThirteenBBC

BBC¬†Three’s¬†Thirteen Miniseries (2016)
I ended up watching all five episodes on my laptop
in just three days. Again, thanks to Aneurin!

WarPeace

BBC One’s¬†War & Peace (2016)
I haven’t finished this yet, just watched ep. 3 last night.
All three of these series have Aneurin in it ūüėČ

Once I finish War & Peace, I might get into Mr. Robot!


 Rewatches


So basically my rewatches consist of Sam Riley in period costumes being all sexy and bad ass! He played a vampire, a zombie hunter and a vengeful American cowboy in these three movies, respectively. Talk about being versatile!


 Currently Reading

RichardIIIbooks

Learning history hasn’t been this¬†much fun.¬†I’m almost done w/ The Daughter of Time, and of course I picture¬†Aneurin as Richard whenever I’m reading it ūüėČ

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MOVIE OF THE MONTH

Zootopia_judyhopps

It’s an easy pick this month. Zootopia is by far the best new release I saw this month, and will likely end up in my top 10 best list. Judy Hopps is such an awesome character, perhaps one of the best from Disney yet!


Well that’s my viewing recap of¬†June. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

MAY 2016 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

May2016Recap

Time for another monthly recap, folks. Well, May is actually not a really great movie-watching month for me after a very busy April. I was pretty busy with my script and also my trip to Montréal/Québec City took up a lot of my time. But hey, I did manage to see Captain America: Civil War twice, and plenty of great rewatches too!

So anyway, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies
CivilWar

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

OneDay

One Day (2011)

ABiggerSplash

A Bigger Splash (2016)
[review upcoming]

GreatExpectations1998

Great Expectations (1998)

AboutABoy

About A Boy (2002)

UnderCherryMoon

Under the Cherry Moon (1986)


 Rewatches


Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Sense & Sensibility (1995)

Casino Royale (2006)

Ant Man (2015)

Belle (2013)

Love & Friendship (2016)

Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (2016)

..


MOVIE OF THE MONTH

LOVEFRIENDSHIP_poster

I went to see this again last night with my hubby and I still loved it!
As I mentioned in my review, this is such a delightful adaptation. Another Austen movie I could watch over and over for years to come.


Speaking of an Austen adaptation…

DarcyBanner

Of course I immediately purchased a Blu-ray copy of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies as soon as I left work. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more ardently in love with Sam Riley’s Darcy [le sigh] I know I’ll work that one to the ground in no time [not to mention my remote pause & rewind buttons, ehm] So yeah, suffice to say this is my favorite rewatch ūüėČ


Well that’s my viewing recap of May. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

FlixChatter Review: Love & Friendship (2016)

LOVEFRIENDSHIP_poster

You already know I LOVE period dramas and I adore Jane Austen.¬†This was one of the Sundance films I couldn’t wait to see and it absolutely didn’t disappoint! Love & Friendship is an¬†adaptation of¬†Austen‚Äôs short epistolary novel¬†Lady Susan¬†that was¬†published posthumously in 1871.¬†Writer/director¬†Whit Stillman changed its name but the focus is still on Lady Susan, played brilliantly by Kate Beckinsale.

Lady Susan Vernon is a beautiful widow who’s famous for her dalliances and flirtatious nature. As she waits out all the colorful rumors about her in her in-laws estate, whilst securing a husband for herself and her reluctant daughter Frederica.¬†Chlo√ę Sevigny plays her American best friend Alicia who’s loyal to her despite her husband’s threat to send her back to America if she doesn’t sever her ties with Susan.

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Right from the start, Stillman’s script infuses the movie with such biting wit and his direction is whimsical and fresh.¬†I enjoy¬†each character’s introduction, clearly labeled¬†in an amusing fashion that makes it easy to understand who’s who in the story. One of Susan’s¬†suitors is her sister in-law’s brother¬†Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel) who’s immediately smitten by¬†her against his better judgment. The truth is, it’s very easy to be charmed by Lady Susan, as was I throughout this movie. In fact, this is perhaps one of the rare Jane Austen movies where there’s a lack of¬†swoon-worthy Austen hero. But¬†we do have an utterly hilarious character¬†in the form of Sir James Martin, played by¬†Tom Bennett who stole every scene he’s in. That ‘Churchill’ bit in the trailer¬†got chuckling but it’s even funnier in the movie.

LoveFriendship_img1 LoveFriendship_img3

I enjoyed this movie immensely¬†and I think the fact that it’s more of a satire than a romance drama, it’d be as enjoyable for those who are normally not into this genre.¬†Described as the most¬†irresistibly devious of Austen protagonists (who’s not shy of admitting the fact that she has a married lover), Beckinsale shines in the lead role with her beauty and wit. The way she spins things to make it sound as if it’s everyone else’s faults but her own, when confronted with something that’s actually true, she’d say ‘Facts are horrid things!’ She delivers the most cunning, devious lines with such breezy, sunny disposition that’d charm the wits out of you. I’d say she’s utterly bewitching in this role, which is a welcome change¬†considering I haven’t been impressed by anything she’s done lately.¬†This is the second time Beckinsale has starred as an Austen character (the first time was in Emma in¬†1996), but this one is¬†definitely a far superior performance. She has a nice chemistry with Sevigny, whom she co-starred with in Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (1998).

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The movie is also gorgeous to look at, with sumptuous costumes (by Irish costume designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh), lush cinematography and picturesque¬†scenery (apparently Ireland subbed for Regency England here). I absolutely adore Beckinsale’s purple dress featured in the poster. The music by Benjamin Esdraffo is lovely and adds that touch of whimsy. But it’s the droll and dry humor that keeps me engaged,¬†I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in an Austen movie. I mean Pride + Prejudice + Zombies was hilarious because of the amusing¬†juxtapositions,¬†but as far as a straight Austen adaptation, this is by far the funniest. But then again I’ve always found Austen to be a funny and witty writer, and that’s what makes her social commentary on class and manners in polite society so wonderfully timeless.

Speaking of PPZ, interesting to see Emma Greenwell and¬†Morfydd Clark from that film, who played Mr. Bingley’s sister and Mr. Darcy’s sister, respectively. Also fun seeing reliable British comic actors Stephen Fry and James Fleet as part of the ensemble.

At only¬†an hour and 32 minutes, the movie flows with such upbeat energy. Kudos to Mr. Stillman for his brilliant work here, which made me want to check out his other films. I was privileged to see him talk about this film following the screening, and the New Yorker has such dry British humor, which explains the wit that transpires in the script. I might even check out his companion novel, titled¬†Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen‚Äôs Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated.¬†I think the fact that Stillman is¬†a huge fan of Austen’s work (though he admitted that he disliked Northanger Abbey) definitely helps in making this such a delightful adaptation. This is another Austen movie I could watch over and over for years to come.

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Have you seen ‘Love & Friendship’? I’d love to hear what you think!

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Everybody’s Chattin + Trailer Spotlight: Love & Friendship w/ Kate Beckinsale + Chlo√ę Sevigny

EverybodysChattin_Movies

Happy Midweek everyone! Can you believe it, when we thought Spring is finally here, it’s snowing outside! Not just snow flurries or just a coating, this is a pretty big one that it’s like a Winter Wonderland all over again outside.

I’m actually not feeling well today and I pulled a muscle on my left hand so I decided to work from home. I’m sure glad I did as it’d be pretty challenging,¬†not to mention dangerous,¬†driving with just one hand in snowy conditions!

… about those links…

Margaret did a fantastic hit-me-with-your-best-shot post on Daredevil season 2.

Jordan reviewed the Best Foreign Language Oscar winner Son of Saul

I’ve been meaning to see Perfect Sense, so thanks Vinnie for reminding me w/ his great review

Eddie‘s been busy with his new site Jaccendo, check it out if you haven’t already. I especially love his post on Captain America: Civil War¬†

Steven reviewed¬†Terrence Malick’s latest, Knight of Cups

I haven’t seen any short film in a while, but Nostra reviewed one I’m curious to see called Ellis, starring Robert De Niro

Abbi‘s Film Friday post¬†is¬†always one I look forward to. Read¬†her thoughts on¬†Spotlight, Clouds of Sils Maria and more.

Last but certainly not least, check out Cindy‘s upcoming Lucky 13 edition which will center on the Jeff Bridges!


Trailer Spotlight

LoveFriendship

 

Set in the opulent drawing rooms of eighteenth-century English society, ‘Love & Friendship’ focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws‚Äô estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica‚ÄĒand herself too, naturally. She enlists the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chlo√ę Sevigny), but two particularly handsome suitors (Xavier Samuel and Tom Bennett) complicate her orchestrations.

Check out the brand new trailer:

This was one of the films I highlighted the week of Sundance last January. As you know I LOVE anything Jane Austen, but this was based on her¬†earlier work called ‚ÄúLady Susan‚ÄĚ that was¬†published posthumously in 1871. This isn’t the first time Kate Beckinsale played an Austen heroine however, she played Emma in a TV movie back in 1996.

Interesting to see¬†Chlo√ę Sevigny¬†here, which I never seen in a period drama before. Both are such underrated actresses so that’s another reason to see this. I do think it’s lacking a real um, Austen hero eye-candy. I have no idea who¬†Xavier Samuel is but he doesn’t exactly set my heart aflutter the way um, Sam Riley’s Colonel Darcy did in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ūüėČ I’ve never seen director¬†Whit Stillman‘s work before this, but the trailer looks like fun¬†so I definitely will be watching this!¬†


What do you think of the ‘Love & Friendship’ trailer?

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Sam Riley, Alternative Austen & Man Up (2015) review

I cannot fix the hour or the spot, or the look or the words which lay the foundation…I was in the middle when I knew it had began…

That was a quote from Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and that pretty much applies to how I feel the same way about the actor playing him… Sam Riley.

badassDarcy

I fall even more under Riley’s spell now‚Ķ [le sigh]

Ok, so yeah, about that weekend roundup,¬†well the past couple of weeks has been filled with quite a few Sam Riley¬†movies:¬†Control (2007), Maleficent (2014), Byzantium (2012) and Franklyn (2008). I didn’t get to see Brighton Rock (2010) yet but hopefully later this week. I’m astonished at his chameleonic ability as an actor, my appreciation post on him will be quite massive let me tell you.


I did see one new release this past week, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and got a chance to chat w/ the author of the book it’s based on, Kim Barker. Review & interview of that coming next week.

Ok, so these are my weekend viewing roundup, starting with…

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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So this is the first 2016 movie I saw twice on the big screen‚Ķ and I could’ve gone for a third if it’s still playing for another weekend. Alas, I’d have to settle for all the fun gifs and clips¬†on Tumblr until the Bluray comes out. As you may’ve read in my review, I bloody¬†love this movie and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Sam Riley & Lily James are now my favorite Darcy & Lizzie pairing amongst the plethora of P&P screen adaptations.

;;;

Austenland (2014)

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Ok so naturally, watching an alternative Jane Austen movie makes me want to re-watch one of my faves from a couple of years ago. As far an Austen-inspired films go, I actually think this one is even sillier than PPZ movie, believe it or not. Some of the supporting characters are so out there and freakishly bizarre that it made me cringe at times (though that Captain East is one spectacular eye candy). Jennifer Coolidge is a hoot but she went waaay over the top at times, yes even by her standards. But the romance of Darcy & Jane (JJ Feild & Keri Russell) is lovely and of course all the misunderstandings and repressed emotions are all the stuff Austen movies are made of. (my full review)
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Man Up (2015)

ManUp2015

This British rom-com has a¬†rather unconventional pairing ‚Äď Simon Pegg & Lake Bell, and that’s the reason I rented it. Bell played a single woman who inadvertently *stole* a stranger’s blind date, and the film took place over the course of a single night.¬†Bell is a natural comedienne and here she gets to show her comedic chops, and also do a pretty convincing British accent.

It’s a pretty fun rom-com¬†even though it doesn’t always avoid the trappings of the genre and is ultimately predictable, but the two likable leads made the movie feels fresh and genuinely funny. Rory Kinnear, who I often see in more serious movies so far, is so hilariously unhinged as Bell’s not-so-secret admirer. I LOVE the London scenery, both during the day and night, which adds to the film’s charm. The finale could’ve been a bit tighter and less verbose, but I think overall¬†this movie is¬†well worth checking out.

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Well that’s my weekend recap. So what did YOU watch this weekend? Anything good?