Thursday Movie Picks: Romance Tropes Edition – Friends to Lovers

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Romance Tropes Edition: Friends to Lovers.

It’s no surprise there’s a ROMANCE theme this month given Valentine’s Day falls in February. I didn’t participate last time as I don’t really care for movies about fake relationships, but I do love movies about friends-turned-lovers as that’s how my hubby and I started out. We were good friends for a year in college and we’ve been married for 18 years now [I guess I just dated myself, ha!]

In any case, here are my picks:

EMMA (1996)

This is the first film I thought of right away and though I’m actually not a huge fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, I still like this version better than the one with Anya Taylor-Joy as the title role. I certainly prefer Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley than Johnny Flynn who looks more like a rock star than a refined gentleman.

As with many friends-to-lovers relationships, there’s usually one who is more besotted than the other. The gentle and wise Knightley has always known his feelings for Emma while she remains clueless while she keeps on meddling in other people’s affairs. There’s a 16-year age difference in the book which is reflected pretty accurately in this film.

 

 

Fun Trivia:
Rachel Portman became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The following year, Anne Dudley won the same award for The Full Monty (1997), followed by Hildur Gudnadottir for Joker. As of 2020, the three remain the only women to win an Oscar in that category.


Mansfield Park (1999)

Yes I have another Jane Austen movie, well la dee da! I know that many Austen purists dislike this movie as it doesn’t portray the protagonist Fanny Price accurately. But I actually like the more spirited version of Patricia Rozema, played beautifully by Frances O’Connor.

Fanny’s friendship with Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller) started when they’re just kids and they’ve always had deep mutual respect for each other. Somehow it takes a set of new neighbors for them to realize (well, mostly Edmund) how much they actually love one another. I LOVE Edmund’s confession to Fanny at the end, it was so overdue, yet the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Fun Trivia:
Mansfield Park was Jane Austen’s most successful novel in her lifetime, earning her in excess of £300.


Somekind of Wonderful

80s teen rom-coms are practically defined by John Hughes. He wrote this one and the movie was directed by Howard Deutsch and it’s one of the few 80s rom-coms I actually still remember and love to this day.

Keith (Eric Stoltz) and tomboy drummer Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) are besties but Watts is secretly in love with him. Keith somehow got a chance to go on a date with the girl of his dreams, Amanda (Lea Thompson), while her ex tries to get her back.

Ahhh… the agony & ecstasy of unrequited love… who can’t relate to someone like Watts? We’ve all been there at some point in our lives.

I always remember the Keith-Watts kissing scene that Watts framed as ‘practice’ before his date. This article written to commemorate the film’s 30th anniversary calls it the ‘kiss that kills’ scene and it’s truly wonderful and practically iconic.

Fun Trivia:
Howard Deutsch and Lea Thompson fell in love during filming and they’re still married to this day.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

I know everyone is all about that Keanu Reeves’ cameo but the story between childhood friends Sasha and Marcus are so awesome. Ali Wong and Randall Park make for such a dynamic duo that’s so delightful to watch.

Despite being separated for 15 years and their careers gone on opposite directions, sparks still fly when they meet. I love the hilarious scene when they first meet after being apart for so many years, with Marcus’ dad (James Saito) candidly recalling their old times together.

Fun Trivia:
Ali Wong and Randall Park said that Keanu Reeves was their first choice for the film. The script was sent to him, but Wong and Park never thought they would get him. Reeves had watched Wong’s Netflix special ‘Baby Cobra’ and read the script to ‘Always Be My Maybe’ and said yes. Wong said he wrote “I would be honored to be part of your love story.” Park said that Reeves was quoting lines from Wong’s special.


So who are YOUR favorite movies about Friends turned Lovers?

My entry to the Five Senses Blogathon

FiveSensesBlogathonIn association with Dutch moviepodcasters MovieInsiders (who inspired this blogathon) and Karamel Kinema, who did the stunning logo, Nostra of My Film Views spearheaded The Five Senses blogathon.

Here’s the idea in his own words:

As you know the body has five senses (although some movies might suggest there is a sixth one): Sight, Sound, Taste, Smell and Touch.

So what’s the idea behind this blogathon? For each of these senses you will have to describe the movie related association you have with it. This can be a particular movie or even a scene, but also something having to do with the movie going experience (so for example the smell of popcorn in the theater).

So here are my pick of movies/movie related things I associate with each of the senses?

 

SIGHT

Avatar

Despite the lack of original story and other quibbles I have about this film, when it comes to visual effects, it’s tough to beat this one. I remember back in 2009 I got one of those advanced previews dubbed Avatar Day to see this and I was so excited! Seeing Pandora for the first time on the big screen was quite a thrill, but not until I saw the full film that my jaw was on the floor. I remember ooh-aahing during the chopper scene through those flying mountains… the reaction of Jake & his friend pretty much echo how we all felt in the movie theater.

But the most breathtakingly-beautiful scene of all, that remains a visual marvel to this day, has got to be all the night scenes in Pandora…

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SOUND

Jurassic Park

It’s no surprise this Spielberg film won two Oscars for Best Sound Editing AND Best Sound Mixing. The sound truly made the experience and I’ll never forget the first time the T-Rex made an appearance when the park’s electricity went kaput. Starting with vibrating water scene in the car, the mysterious thumping that gets more and more pronounced… all the way to that first roar. OH MY, that’s quite an adrenaline rush unlike any other.

The sound work in the kitchen scene is incredible as well. It REALLY made you feel as if you’re there with these poor kids! It’s hilarious but terrifying at the same time.

 

TASTE

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Naturally I pick a scene from a film about food, but I have to pick this under-appreciated one I saw recently. I LOVE breakfast food, especially Omelet, so I could practically taste the yummy-ness of this very scene.

HundredFootJourneyOmeletSceneI love Helen Mirren’s expression after she took the first bite, oh man, I was salivating as I was watching this!

 

TOUCH

Hand-touching scenes in period dramas

I’m such a hopeless romantic. There’s something about hand scenes in period dramas that always gets me. Given how restrictive the customs in those days was, even the smallest physical expression means SO much. I felt a tingle in my own hands whenever I watched each of these scenes…

The first time Margaret & John’s fingers touch ever so briefly when she handed him the tea cup…

When Marianne’s and Willoughby’s fingers brush lightly against each other’s as they went up the stairs…

I’ve mentioned the ‘Mansfield Park’ one in this list, but it bears mentioning again because it’s just such a beautiful & emotional scene. Neither Fanny nor Edmund could speak of how they feel about each other, but a simple touch speaks more than a thousand words…

Of course the finale of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ has to be mentioned here… I love Darcy’s reaction when Lizzie took his hand and kisses it… no words need to be spoken to say how she feels about him.

 

SMELL

Coco Before Chanel

chanelno5I have to admit I struggled a bit to come up with this one, but for some reason I kept going back to this. As I was watching the film starring Audrey Tautou, I reminisced on the first perfume I was ever given. My globe-trotting auntie gave me a CHANEL No. 5 mini perfume when I was about 14 and it was the first perfume I ever owned. My late mother was a big CHANEL perfume fan and I still remember quite vividly how much I love the scent. I guess smell is such a sentimental thing, as it could really take you back to a certain time and place.

CocoBeforeChanelI’ve used many different perfumes since then, but this classic Chanel perfume will always have a special place in my heart. I even dedicated a post for the exquisite Chanel No.5 ads, inspired by the film.

 …


Well, that’s my picks for the Five Senses Blogathon, what do you think?

Weekend Roundup: Two Austen adaptations, an espionage comedy + a Hitchcock classic

Wow, where has June gone? Can’t believe July is just 10 days away, seems that we barely had Spring and now we have been having a very showery Summer 😦

I haven’t done a Weekend Roundup in a looong time. Well, I didn’t go to the cinema at all this weekend, but I did see some older movies and one re-watch. I must say it’s quite fun to watch not only one but TWO period dramas with my hubby.

MansfieldParkBBC_1999

Inspired by my recent Austen Recasting post on Mansfield Park, I started watching the 2007 BBC version that I haven’t seen before. My hubby was looking at stuff on his iPad next to me whilst I was watching this and I kept making a comment at how much I prefer the 1999 film version that he’s curious to check it out. Well, since both are on Netflix, we decided to watch both!

MansfieldPark1999

Well suffice to say, the 1999 version by Patricia Rozema is still my favorite adaptation, though it’s definitely a bolder and darker version than one might associate with Jane Austen. I think it’s interesting that it touches on the issue of slavery as the primary financial income of the Bertram family, though I could use without the nudity [albeit a brief one] as it really detracts from the story. What I do like about the film version is how beautifully-filmed it is and the music by Lesley Barber is equally gorgeous and evocative. Plus the casting is fantastic all around, especially Frances O’Connor as Fanny and Alessandro Nivola as Henry Crawford. I also love the ending, it’s romantic and sweet and Jonny Lee Miller has such an earnest quality about him that fits the role of Edmund. I actually like Fanny’s narration in this movie and I’m not always fond of the use of narration on film. It seems that Fanny is not people’s favorite’s Austen heroine but I actually like her and I really connect with Frances’ portrayal of her.

MansfieldPark2007

On the other hand, I’m not fond of the 2007 version at all. I really try to like this but I just feel that Billie Piper is so miscast in the role. Sorry but I find her teeth VERY distracting. I know it’s not nice of me to say but I wasn’t bothered by her when she was in Dr. Who but she just doesn’t seem like she belongs in a period drama, and the way she’s swooning over Edmund just feels wrong and stalker-ish. At the same time, there’s no chemistry at all between her and Blake Ritson (Edmund), who looks like Adrien Brody but with slightly feminine features. All around the acting is just not convincing, most especially Joseph Beattie as the completely charm-less Henry Crawford! The abrupt ending is also very awkward that my hubby was like, ‘what the heck was THAT??’ I think this is my least favorite BBC adaptation of ANY literary works. I doubt I’d ever watch it again. I think the only fun part here is watching the lovely Haley Atwell as Mary Crawford.

On Saturday, we ended up watching an older spy movie that’s been sitting in our Netflix Instant queue for some time.

Sneakers (1992) 

Sneakers1992posterI saw on the description that it was a lighthearted espionage movie, but we didn’t realize that this was more of a comedy! The movie took a while to get going, but fortunately the cast kept me intrigued. The plot itself seemed complicated at first, as a lot of government conspiracy involving hacking, cryptography, etc. can be, but by the second act, it actually got to be pretty predictable. In fact, I had a hunch from the opening scene who the villain was. It’s interesting too just how relevant this topic is with the whole NSA expose by Edward Snowden, etc. In fact, Kingsley’s speech at the end about who controls the information is quite eerie because it’s really not far-fetched at all.

Sneakers1992

It’s quite amusing to see the likes of Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Ben Kingsley, David Strathairn, who are usually in serious roles being quite goofy in this one. Strathairn especially as a blind man with killer hearing power and instinct, but the last scene had him driving a truck directed by Redford on the phone! None of these actors are at their best here though, in fact, they seem underutilized for the roles they’re playing, but still it’s fun to watch.

Btw, really sad seeing River Phoenix here. This was released a year before his untimely death in 1993 at the age of 23. Like the rest, his role is so minor, similar to a tech guy in those Mission Impossible movies, with Redford as the Ethan Hunt character, y’know. I remember seeing Phoenix in teen drama A Night in the Life of Jimmy Riordan years ago and thought how talented he was. It’s so tragic how these young talents were gone far too soon. In any case, I quite enjoyed Sneakers, especially the more action-packed third act and the humorous ending. James Earl Jones had a memorable cameo that’s pretty hilarious.

Lastly, I saw Rebecca (1940), a Hitchcock film that won Best Picture Oscar, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. I shall have a review of it this Tuesday for my June Blindspot entry, so stay tuned!

RebeccaPoster


Well that’s what I saw this weekend. What about you? Seen anything good?

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Mini[on] review of Despicable Me 2

Happy Sunday everyone! Hope your Summer weekend was a fun one! It’s a mellow one after a hectic few weeks for me, though my hubby’s triathlon race can’t be described as such. Strong thunderstorm nearly canceled the entire thing, but fortunately the short distance still went on, phew! So, did you see any new releases this weekend? Ah well, looks like Pacific Rim actually lost to two sequels. I guess it’s to be expected that Despicable Me 2 would reign at the box office but man, apparently 7% Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t deter people from going to see Grown Ups 2 [shrugs], earning a whopping $42 mil, which is $4 mil more than Pacific Rim 😦


My weekend watching:

MansfieldPark1999Mansfield Park (1999) – rewatch

ACatinParis
A Cat in Paris
(2010)


And here’s my mini review of…

DESPICABLE ME 2

DespicableMe2_Banner
When I first rented the first movie, I instantly fell in love with those yellow minions, so I was thrilled when I heard they had a bigger part in this movie. In this sequel, ex-supervillain Gru (Steve Carrell) is adjusting to family life, as adopted father to three adorable girls Margo, Edith and Agnes. He and his crew of Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and his legion of minions now attempt an honest living in the jam & jelly business. That is until the Anti-Villain League (AVL) enlist his help to investigate the latest major heist of a secret Arctic lab.

The movie is as fast-paced as the original, it didn’t take long before I was swept away into the colorful world of Gru & co. The whole kidnapping scene has a playful homage to 007, complete with the amphibious car/boat/plane a la The Spy Who Loved Me). The arrival of a couple of new characters add a dose of fun and hilarity to the story: Lucy Wilde, Gru’s AVL partner and Eduardo, owner of a Mexican restaurant Salsa, in the mall where Gru & Lucy’s going undercover. Lucy’s pretty much tailored perfectly for Kristen Wiig‘s comedic chops, but Benjamin Bratt actually has pretty good comic timing. Oh, I also love Steve Coogan as the AVL director Silas Ramsbottom. Just like the minions, Silas and Eduardo already look hilarious before they even opens their mouths!

DespicableMe2_Stills

I find Gru to be a pretty fun and likable lead due to Carrell’s charms, but it’s hard to refute that the wacky-but-lovable minions supplied the most laugh-out-loud moments in their endless mischief and shenanigans! Kudos to Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud for creating such uproariously funny characters with these minions, even creating a certain ‘minion language’ that’s all their own but somehow still make out what they’re saying. At the same time, I do think they might work better as supporting characters though, as they might be overwhelming if the movies revolves entirely on these mischievous little guys!

I have to say though that the story is pretty thin, as the creators rely heavily on these irresistible characters. The plots are predictable and the even mawkish at times, but yet this movie still delivers on a fun family entertainment. The scenes of Gru and his girls, especially the adorable Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who dreams of having her own mother, tugs your heartstrings. I think the moral of the story about family and loyalty comes across, which is quite a feat in itself as it could’ve easily been drowned out by the riotous energy of the supervillains battle. I wish I had gone to a matinee showing though, I don’t know that it’s worth $10 at the cinema. I didn’t go for the 3D but the visuals are certainly gorgeous to look at, which is to be expected as the quality of animated features have improved significantly in the past few years. I’d say, if you like the first movie, then you probably get a kick out of this one as well.

Three and a half stars out of Five

3.5 out of 5 reels


So that’s my weekend folks, what did YOU watch this weekend?