New Netflix Movies/Miniseries To Watch in February – Malcolm and Marie | I Care A lot | Red Dot | The Last Paradiso | Layla Majnun | Behind Her Eyes

There are SO many things to watch on Netflix that I always struggle to figure just WHAT to watch. Now, this is not a comprehensive list of ALL that’s coming to Netflix which includes older movies that’s been released before, i.e. The Bank Job, Inception, The Patriot, War Dogs, Captain Fantastic, etc. but these are NEW stuff from the streaming service, part of the 70 new original content Netflix promised to release in 2021. There’s an extra dose of romantic-themed content released in February because of Valentine’s Day, but there’s a comedy + thriller thrown in.

In any case, so here are 5 new movies + 1 limited series coming to Netflix this month:

Malcolm & Marie

Releases February 5 – read my review

A director and his girlfriend’s relationship is tested after they return home from his movie premiere and await critics’ responses.

One of the best things about TENET is John David Washington and I like Zendaya based on the two things I saw her in, The Greatest Showman and Spider-Man Far From Home. I haven’t seen her in Euphoria yet, which is created by the director of this film, Sam Levinson (who happens to be the son of Barry Levinson who won an Oscar directing Rain Man).

Some of you might have seen this by now as it was released last Friday. Let me know what you think if you have seen it!


The Last Paradiso (L’ultimo paradiso)

Releases February 5, 2021

In 1950s Italy, a passionate free spirit dreams of love, justice and a better life till a forbidden affair threatens everything. Based on real events.

Of course seeing the title reminds me right away of Cinema Paradiso, one of my all-time favorite non-English language films. This one is also a love story, a forbidden affair no less, that’s based on a true story. I recognized the lead actor Riccardo Scamarcio from John Wick 2, he’s got such an intense stare that’s hard to forget. I’m down to be swept away to the South Italy’s countryside for a couple of hours. Love, passion, rebellion… hopefully would make a memorable drama.


Red Dot

Releases February 11, 2021

When Nadja becomes pregnant, they make an attempt to rekindle their relationship by traveling to the north of Sweden for a hiking trip but soon their romantic trip turns into a nightmare.

I’ve enjoyed quite a few Nordic thrillers, such as The Hunt, Headhunters, though I should watch more. Scandinavian filmmakers sure know how to make effective noirs. This one comes from Swedish filmmaker Alain Darborg, and it has that ominous, atmospheric vibe to it.


Layla Majnun

Releases February 11, 2021

While in Azerbaijan, Layla, an Indonesian scholar, falls for Samir, an admirer of her work — but her arranged marriage stands in the way.

I rarely blog about Indonesian movies (despite the fact that my late dad used to work in the Indo film industry), but this one caught my eye. I’m not familiar w/ any of the cast but the setting in Azerbaijan and the familiar-yet-still-enticing forbidden love story sounds like a perfect one to watch around V-day.

I Care A Lot

Releases February 19, 2021

A shady legal guardian lands in hot water when she tries to bilk a woman who has ties to a powerful gangster.

I’m intrigued just reading the description and the cast: Rosamund Pike, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage.I love Rosamund Pike and it’s nice to see her in a dark comedy, playing a shady character no less. This film premiered at TIFF and currently has a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating, praising Pike’s a wicked performance. Can’t wait!


Behind Her Eyes (miniseries)

Releases February 17, 2021

A single mom becomes entangled in a twisted mind game when she begins an affair with her psychiatrist boss while bonding with his mysterious wife.

Want a bit of twist with your Valentine romance? How about a psycho-sexual thriller with a good looking UK cast? I’m a huge fan of Tom Bateman who’s the epitome of tall, dark & handsome and also super talented. I’ve just seen Eve Hewson in Tesla and really like her, looking forward to seeing the love triangle between these two and Simona Brown.

The miniseries is produced by Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind the prestigious drama The Crown.


What do you think of these two movies?

FlixChatter Review: Malcolm and Marie (2021)

I’ve always been fascinated by two-hander type films which relies on the performances of only two actors for the entire duration of the film. It’s quite tricky to pull off, but perhaps Malcolm & Marie‘s filmmaking style could just be the norm for the next year or two, given the restrictions of the pandemic. Apparently this is one of the first movies to be developed and completed entirely since Covid-19 spread into the US.

The film takes place primarily in a single evening, when filmmaker Malcolm (John David Washington) and his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya) returns home following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits reviews of his new film. From Malcolm’s chipper mood, it’s safe to assume the film is poised to be a critical and financial success. As Malcolm keeps rattling off about all kinds of things, Marie’s mood is rather somber, which is a telltale sign that their relationship isn’t as rosy as the movie posters have us believe. 

I know from experience of living with the same person for nearly two decades that one of the main reasons couple argue is presumption. Malcolm presumes that even though he had left her out of his thank-you speech that she’s cool with everything. He also presumes that when Marie says ‘she’s fine’ that she is in fact, fine. Malcolm’s presumption extends beyond what’s transpired that evening, but also throughout his relationship with Marie… as we learn from their constant bickering that last through the night. It doesn’t take long for me to form my opinion about each character. Though initially I find Malcolm to be a cool guy at first, soon I became irritated by his arrogance and condescending manner. I find myself shaking my head quite a bit at his serious lack of empathy, which turns bad situation to worse. Marie is a bit harder to read at first as she’s pretty quiet in the first act, but later she lets her feelings known and we start to see the crux of the problem.

Writer/director Sam Levinson has cast two of the brightest young actors working today in top form, which is crucial in making this talky film work. Zendaya in particular is mesmerizing in the most dramatic performance I’ve seen her in. She and Levinson had worked together in Euphoria (where she won a Best-Actress Emmy award), and you could sense there’s a mutual trust between them as she’s really confident in the role he’s crafted for her. It’s an emotionally-authentic performance where she’s not afraid to appear unglamorous and even unhinged at times. Props to John David his willingness to play an unlikable character, constantly putting his girlfriend down if she doesn’t get some of the film/filmmaker references he incessantly spewing. Marie calls him a narcissist and she is not wrong in her assessment. As I’ve only seen John David in two films prior to this, this affirms his chops as a dramatic actor as there are moments where he truly let ‘er rip as more and more revelations about their relationship bubble to the surface.

Hollywood always likes to make films about themselves and this film falls in that category, but framed from the perspectives of a couple who works in the industry. It’s interesting that the director and male lead are connected with Hollywood veterans – Sam Levinson is the son of Barry Levinson, the Oscar-winning director of Rain Man, and John David (JD) Washington is Denzel Washington’s son. I watched a Q&A via Zoom (thanks to Film Independent) where the filmmaker talked about how the script was fluid enough to allow for improvisation during filming. It also allows for the actors to inject their personal experiences into the story.

Now, I applaud the innovative approach to writing and filmmaking though it isn’t always effective. Their conversations is is a bit all over the place as the pair just keep rambling on and on. Long monologues seem intriguing at first, but after a while it lost its luster and it feels over-indulgent and showy. Some of the topics are fascinating (to me anyways, though I don’t know how many people care so much about how Malcolm feels about William Wyler), but some get too repetitive and perhaps over-indulgent. Malcolm’s constant lashing out at his critics feels like a not-so-subtle jab at film criticism, is that Levinson’s way of telling off his own critics? Interesting that even though Malcolm may act like he wasn’t affected by the negative reviews, his bitter reaction proves otherwise. The part about how filmmakers of color are perceived is one that stood out to me, definitely a commentary of a current hot button issue.

Stylistically speaking, this is a beautiful film to look at and everything is well-lit. The house itself is architecturally amazing to look at. Marcell Rév‘s cinematography work illuminates the beauty of the two actors, yet it feels emotionally distant somehow, perhaps a commentary of the couple? Despite their beauty (and perhaps because of it), the film also feels bit claustrophobic and suffocating as it’s just the two of them on screen. The black/white visual also adds to the monotony of being confined to a single location. I do enjoy the music by Labrinth which has a cool vibe and something I expect a popular yuppie like Malcolm would listen to.

It’s been a few weeks since I watched this movie, and I’m wondering just what does Levinson want to say with this story. It’s an ambitious and inventive filmmaking showcasing a pair of charismatic performers, but in the end it’s neither a profound nor riveting character study it wants to be. I can’t help comparing it to Marriage Story where the characters’ situation are similar but there is a much clearer and more satisfying story arc. Honestly, I don’t really know how I feel about Malcolm & Marie’s relationship at the end, and frankly I don’t give a damn that much one way or the other.

Have you seen Malcolm + Marie? Well, what did you think?

JANUARY Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Hello February! We’re already done with the first month of 2021?! Where did the time go? Well, it’s my birthday month… but February is always a bittersweet time for me.

I actually didn’t watch that many movies last month, though somehow I rewatched more old favorites, most notably the Lord of The Rings trilogy. My hubby and I binged on the LOTR movies over a weekend and they’re still so immensely watchable!

I did watch one in the theaters as one of my good friends I haven’t seen in a while wanted to see a movie after happy hour. We picked a good one that ends up being the movie of the month [see below].

In any case, here’s what I watched in January:

NEW-TO-ME MOVIES

Sound of Metal

My friend Vitali reviewed Sound of Metal last October as part of Twin Cities Film Fest. I wish I had seen this one on the big screen. It’s such a beautiful and moving story of a musician dealing with sudden deafness, boasted by a phenomenal performance by the talented Riz Ahmed. I sure hope he’d get some recognition for his performance here.

The Dig

Read my full review

The Mauritanian

Stay tuned for my review in mid February –
the film is to be released on Feb 19

Malcolm and Marie

Stay tuned for my review next week!

Promising Young Woman

Hope to write my review later this week, so stay tuned!


Series:

The Expanse – Season 5

I found season 5 to be a bit slower and less intriguing overall compared to previous seasons, but the highlight is Naomi’s reunion with her former lover-turned-space-terrorist Marco Inaros and her long lost son, Filip.


Call My Agent – Season 4

This French comedy originally titled Dix Pour Cent! has become one of my favorite series of all time! Since I stumbled upon  a few years ago, I’ve become obsessed with it. Every single episode is amazingly-written and filled with hysterically-funny scenarios the agents at ASK agency constantly get into. The Parisian scenery and famous French guest stars made this even more watchable! This season they’ve got Charlotte Gainsbourg in a hilarious episode. I haven’t gotten to the Sigourney Weaver episode, I think this is the first time they have an American actor as guest on the show.

I have to do a dedicated a post for this series, but if you haven’t seen this yet, I can’t recommend this enough!

Wanda Vision Season 1

There are only 4 episodes so far so I’ll wait until all the end of the season to do my write-up. I’m enjoying it so far. The 50s sitcom style is amusing, funny and fabulous, but it’s the genius of the Marvel team under Kevin Feige that the show is deliberately written to have a strong connection with the MCU. Plenty of supporting characters from previous MCU movies like Thor, Ant-Man, etc. appear on this show, and the SWORD agency gets fans all pumped up that THIS could be the key in bringing the X-Men franchise that Disney now owned to be part of the MCU.

In any case, so who is behind the whole Truman Show-like episodes? I can’t wait to find out more!!



SPOILER ALERT!

Obviously don’t watch this video if you’re not caught up yet with the series as there are spoilers galore on episode 4.


Rewatches:

The Sound of Music

The American President

Call My Agent season 2

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The LOTR trilogy



MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

Promising Young Woman

It took me a long time to finally watch this just last weekend, but it’s so worth the wait! I’m glad I saw this on the big screen with a good friend of mine… as a woman, I think it’s the kind of movie best seen with a girlfriend. 

Writer/director Emerald Fennell‘s feature film debut has been buzz-worthy for good reasons, featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by Carey Mulligan. I haven’t had a chance to review this yet but check out my friend Rodney’s excellent review that perfectly sums up how I feel about this astounding film.


Well, what did you watch in January and what’s YOUR fave movie you saw last month?