Valentine Special – A tribute to the film-related influences that inspire ‘Hearts Want’

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Today is actually the only night where I don’t have somewhere to be this week which is a treat for me. So my hubby and I are going to get some takeout from one of our fave restaurants (most likely Thai) while my hubby treat us w/ some chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert. #yum

I often post something romance-related on V-day, such as favorite unconventionally-romantic films, cinematic romances or favorite romantic couples. But for this year I thought, since my short film is an indie romance, why not share some of my film influences (whether it’s authors, filmmakers, talents or films) over the years. My short film is a subset of the feature screenplay of the same name. It centers on former lovers Lily & Jacques who reunite for a play by their drama teacher after seven years apart.

If you haven’t seen it yet, below is the teaser to my short film…

Jane Austen

This is no surprise at all to those who’ve read my blog regularly or follow my filmmaking journey. I mentioned in my the film’s crowdfunding campaign that the story is partly inspired by my favorite Austen novel, Persuasion.

There’s something so timeless about long lost love and second chances… and how the heart doesn’t always fully recover no matter how long time has passed.

A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman… He ought not. He does not.
– Captain Wentworth

Seven years has passed when Anne Elliot were reunited with Captain Wentworth, but he hasn’t forgiven the fact that she had broken their engagement. The agony of repressed feelings and fear of losing the ones they truly love is something so relatable even in modern society… and the fact that the story is told from Anne’s perspective, a woman, makes it all the more significantly poignant.

I love that in Persuasion, Anne pointed out to Wentworth’s friend Captain Harville that many literary works in that day were all written by men. ‘Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story’ Anne says. That’s all the more reason I wanted to tell Hearts Want from the woman’s perspective, who also has to own up to the decision she made seven years prior when she left the man she loved.

The beauty of Austen’s work is that they’re filled with wonderful, fully-formed female characters! Yes there are iconic men like Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth, but for me, it’s the inner strength of Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood that always inspire me. Their patience and endurance seems like a lost art in today’s world, but don’t let their demure demeanor fool you, nor mistake their perseverance for weakness. As I’ve mentioned in this post, Elinor loves ardently but she’s also fiercely realistic and principled, and she perseveres despite her emotional suffering. In essence, she is a survivor.


Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Though I don’t go to the theatre as much as I would have liked, I’ve always been fascinated by the world of theatre. I have seen Phantom of the Opera three times on stage, including the not-so-successful sequel Love Never Dies in Adelphi Theatre, London.

The critics panned this cinematic adaptation but I LOVE the lush visuals and sensuality of this POTO adaptation. There’s such a titillating mystery of love in a historic, vintage theatre. The setting of where a film is set can add so much to the atmosphere and mood of the film, especially in a romance. That’s part of the reason I set the love story of Hearts Want in a theatre and I insisted that we filmed it in 100+ year-old The Southern Theatre in Minneapolis. It may not look like it from the outside but the inside could’ve been an antique theatre somewhere in Europe.


Amma Assante’s Belle

As a fan of period dramas, I’ve seen a boat load of them, but it’s rare to see a strong woman of color at the center of the story. Belle is a historical romance set in 18th century England, so naturally it’s scandalous for a prominent figure in London society to take in a mixed-race girl as an adopted daughter.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in ‘Belle’

I love that Belle is an intelligent, elegant and headstrong woman who isn’t afraid to speak her own mind. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is exquisite in the title role and her beauty definitely inspires my female protagonist Lily, who’s a mixed-race woman born in London.


Jane Eyre

True love is never easy. It doesn’t get more tumultuous than Jane & Rochester’s gothic romance. As the old adage says… “If you love someone set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.” Easier said (or watched) than done, surely.

Every time I watched a Jane Eyre adaptations (the 1983 with Zelah Clarke & Timothy Dalton and 2006 version with Ruth Wilson & Toby Stephens are my personal faves), I’m always in awe of Jane’s resolve to stick to her principles.

Inspiration can truly come from many forms. I don’t usually listen to pop music, my car radio is always tuned to Classical MPR, so I often come across certain songs from YouTube. I remember seeing this music video of 1983 Jane Eyre set to a song called The Reason. I thought the lyrics about being sorry for the hurt one’s caused and wanting to start anew resonates with me so much… we all have made mistakes in the past, don’t we all wish we get a second chance to make things right?


Stanley Weber

Every writer needs a muse 😉 This dashing Frenchman isn’t exactly the first actor who’ve inspired me in my literary journey. A certain Scotsman actually inspired me to write a novel that I never got around to finishing.

But Stanley is the first actor who’ve inspired my first screenplay! It just so happens I had seen him in a British rom-com (Not Another Happy Ending) as I just started writing my script and I was instantly smitten.

Photo by Madame Figaro magazine

Yes, the tall, wavy-haired, blue-eyed actor is extremely easy on the eyes, but the more I learned about him, the more I was intrigued by his versatility as an actor (juggling theatre, tv and movies in his native France and beyond) as well as his zest for life. I’d think that people who has such a passion for life would just be as passionate about love when he falls for someone. The Parisian also seems like a free spirit with a voracious love for the ocean (hence the sailing scene in Hearts Want), motorbikes, and traveling. Heck even his Instagram photos are inspiring!

If I had a time machine, I’d transport myself to Théâtre de l’Atelier in Paris to see Stanley on stage in Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. Interestingly enough, the play has a Minnesota roots as the protagonist is from St. Paul! There are similarities between the play’s male character Mat Burke to Hearts Want‘s Jacques, in fact, my feature script opens with a scene from this very play!

So yeah, thank you for the inspiration Stanley… he’s definitely my dream leading man if I ever get to make the full version of Hearts Want 😉

Casablanca/Roman Holiday

The ‘love is letting go’ theme is perhaps more beautiful to witness in the movies than to experience in real life. Few romances are as heart-wrenching as the love story of Rick and Ilsa set during WWII. The WWII-themed play at the beginning of Hearts Want‘s short was partly inspired by this film, though the leather bomber jacket Jacques’ sporting is directly inspired by Gregory Peck’s 12 O’Clock High.

Speaking of Mr. Peck, some of you might know I was at one time obsessed with him. In fact I still owned a bunch of his dvds. The one that gets played a ton is Roman Holiday, and that beautiful but bittersweet finale gets me every single time.

I’ve mentioned that exquisite scene in my tribute to Roman Holiday

Joe walking alone in the empty palace corridor as everyone has left, his steps echoing as he reluctantly leaves the building. As he passes the two guards, he still takes a glimpse towards the stage once more. Empty. The music swells up, forcing us to realize they’re never going to see each other again. Joe keeps on walking towards the camera and disappears, carrying the memory of that day in Rome that he too will cherish for as long as he lives. Best. Finale. Ev-er.


Her

I remember seeing this film on a nearly empty theatre at a press screening and I almost couldn’t move when the end credits rolled. It’s the story of a lonely writer dealing with an impending divorce who finds love when he least expects it. There’s such a captivating male vulnerability in Joaquin Phoenix’s soulful performance as he slowly but intensely falls for his AI Samantha (voiced brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson).

The euphoric joy and intense sadness he feels for Samantha is so palpable, it’s perhaps one of the most emotional love story I’ve ever seen. Just because the love story is not between two human beings doesn’t make it less emotional. Samantha said it best…

“Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a socially-acceptable form of insanity.”


Age of Innocence

I recall a review that says something about the spirit of the exquisite romantic pain depicted in this film. It’s certainly one of the most painfully-exquisite portrayal of unrequited love.

Newland Archer: You give me a first glimpse of a real life, and you ask me to carry on with a false one. No one can endure that.

Ellen Olenska: I’m enduring it.

This may not be a violent film from Scorsese in physical term, but it’s certainly a vicious one in terms of matters of the heart. Visually-ravishing as well as a visceral depiction of the agony of love. I guess I’m a sucker for tragic tale of impossible love, which has been done countless times, but few are as beautifully-crafted as this one.


Notting Hill

Last but not least… I have to include at least one rom-com and nobody does the genre as well as Richard Curtis! The Anglophile in me naturally gravitates towards the London scenery, which is practically a character in itself in the film! It really makes me want to set my story in England, though I ended up choosing a small seaside town south of London that has a prominent theatre Hearts Want, it’s called Chichester. There is one a similarity between Julia Roberts’ Anna Scott in that my protagonist Lily is a successful actress, but of course the circumstances of the story is completely different.

In any case, I thought the opening scene is the perfect introduction to the film’s protagonist and the world he lives in.


Ok so I don’t necessarily count Shakespeare as one of my major influences, despite having seen quite a number of his plays. But I’ve always admired playwrights, hence I have a playwright (Martin) as a prominent character in my feature script and Hearts Want is the name of his play that reunited Lily & Jacques.

The Bard certainly knows a thing or two about writing romances. As he says in A Midsummer Night’s Dream…

The course of true love never did run smooth.


Thoughts on these talents/films? What are some of your own film influences?

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Weekend Viewing Roundup & Updates on my pledge to #52FilmsByWomen

Hello everyone, hope you had a pretty nice and relaxing weekend. Those in the Northeast, hope you’re doing ok and not buried under the snowmageddon! It’s crazy that we Minnesotans have been enjoying relatively uneventful Winter lately, I mean we got the subzero temps last week but as far as snow, there’s really not much to write home about.

Well, I haven’t been to the movies since before New Year but starting this coming week, there’ll be at least one press screening a week, starting with Pride + Prejudice + Zombies this Thursday! Yep, I’m a big Jane Austen fan, but I’m not really a purist so I enjoy mixing of genres, especially as bizarre as this one!

I did see quite a few movies at home, mostly rewatches though:


Learning to Drive
is a cross-cultural comedy drama by Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet that’s instantly elevated by the two charming cast. Sir Ben Kingsley once again played an Indian man, and for some reason I just learned that the British thespian is actually half Indian. Did you know his birth name is Krishna Bhanji? In any case, Learning To Drive is sweet and poignant, albeit rather predictable. Patricia Clarkson is lovely as a woman ditched by her husband. Her character seems insufferable at times, but she displays such affecting vulnerability that you instantly root for her. I haven’t seen too many films of hers but I certainly will do so now.

I still LOVE Notting Hill and my hubby and I actually watched it right after Learning to Drive. He said he’s forgotten most of it but he loved the movie. I think Richard Curtis is one of those rare directors who can make fun rom-coms that appeals to both men and women. Rogue Nation is of course so immensely watchable, glad that my hubby bought the Bluray last week!

GosfordPark_cast

As for Gosford Park, it’s been ages since I saw this one so it’ll feel like the first time. I’ve always been fascinated by films about the English class system and this was written by the writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellows. It’s part of the three films we’ll be discussing at Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club on Feb 13. The cast is filled with the who’s who of British cinema: Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Clive Owen, etc. Ryan Phillippe seems out of place in this lineup, playing a Scot no less!

52FilmsByWomen

I’ve mentioned this when I posted my 2016 Blindspot list earlier this month. Well, I’ve seen the first one of my Blindspot film which happens to be directed by a woman: Marie Antoinette (review upcoming). If you haven’t heard of this *movement* yet, well head to WomenInFilm.org announcement here, hope you can take part!


Well, so far I’ve watched three films by women this month, but one is a rewatch (Belle by Amma Asante). I hope to watch another one by end of this month. Most likely it’ll be another cross-cultural drama, Cairo Time, which also stars Patricia Clarkson, directed Canadian filmmaker Ruba Nadda.

TallulahMovieSpeaking of movies directed by women, my good friend Kirsten Gregerson‘s in Sundance this weekend and one of the films she’s been talking to me about is Tallulah. It’s a drama by female director Sian Heder starring Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard and Zachary Quinto, which has just been picked up by Netflix!

No trailer yet but the film’s been getting great reviews, including this one by Variety. I’ll be blogging more about Sundance films later this week.


Well, what did you watch this weekend? Anything good?

My entry to the Dream Vacation Blogathon

DreamVacation

When I found out that Katy over at Girl Meets Cinema is hosting this awesome blogathon, I knew I had to participate! I LOVE travel, it’s really one of the best things in life to be able to see different parts of the world and experience other cultures, it enriches you in ways nothing else could. So here’s the gist of the blogathon:

If you could travel to any place in the film universe with any of your favorite characters or love-to-hate villains, what kind of a vacation would you take? Post your choice(s) of a destination(s), and at least three characters who would tag along.

I’m blessed that I have an awesome travel buddy that is my dear hubby, but of course we’re talking about a dream vacation here so why not indulge in our fantasy a bit, right? 😉

I was going to pick a totally fantastical place like Aasgard [with Loki as my travel companion of course] but in the end I decided to go with real places, two of which I have visited before but would return in a heart beat. Oh how I wish I could be transported to one of these places right about now…

Not Another Happy Ending – Glasgow

Certainly you can’t be surprised by this. I’ve always been obsessed with all things Scottish and then THIS movie happens. I fell in love with two things from this movie, the French Adonis that is Stanley Weber… AND the city of Glasgow, which was beautifully-captured here. I wish more movies would be set in Scotland’s largest city as it’s really as picturesque as London, which is such a popular city used in movies.

Glasgow during the day… [click image to see a larger version]


Glasgow in the night time…

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Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

FrenchClarkKent
Tom Duval – the publisher

Obviously I’d want Tom Duval, the French publisher, to be my travel companion. As he’s not a Scottish native, there might be areas of Glasgow we both can discover together. Plus, he can help me refine my novel and later publish it… nothing like a gorgeous man who loves books 😉 He practically looks like a rugged French Clark Kent [swoon]

TomRoddy_NAHE1NAHE_TomRoddy1Ideally it’d just be me and Tom spending a whole day [or year] together in Glasgow, but Roddy is Tom’s BFF and he’s such a hoot! I love watching these two goofing off with each other.

AnneDarsie_NAHE

I’ll invite Anne, Tom’s business advisor, along for the ride too, it’s be nice to have a gal pal to gush about Tom with 😉 And Darsie is technically an imaginary character but she’s a lot of fun so she’s welcome to show up anytime to spice things up!


Notting Hill (1999) – London

There are a bunch of great movies set in London but this is one of the first ones I saw that made me totally in love with the city of London. Notting Hill itself is a district in central London, a cosmopolitan neighborhood that host the famous Portobello Road Market. My husband and I went there in 2010 but I’ve always wanted to return to this charming city!

London_Vacation1

I didn’t get a chance to ride those iconic red double-decker bus as we rode the tube everywhere, but it’s gotta be fun to see the city above ground.


Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

London_Vacation2

I think William would just be preoccupied with Anna Scott so I’ll invite Bernie, Spike, and Honey to be my travel companion! Bernie has such a stressful job that I think he ought to have a little fun, something neither Spike nor Honey would have a problem with. I want to visit the posh stuff like Harrod’s and the Savoy Hotel where Anna was staying, but Honey would also take me to the off-the-beaten areas of London away from the tourists.

Sabrina (1995) – Paris

Aaaaah Paris… naturally I want Stanley Weber to be my own personal tour guide but he’s not exactly a film character 😉 I knew I had to include the City of Light and this is one of my favorite movies that made me fall for Paris every time I watch it.

Paris_Vacation1

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Sabrina

Indeed Sabrina… I’m right there with you. First time I visited Paris was when I was only 13, and I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the place until I returned last year with my husband. Needless to say, I fell in love with this city and seeing it on film always makes me feel so nostalgic.

Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

Paris_Vacation2

I’d take Sabrina and her two Parisian friends Louis and Irene. Every time I watch this movie, which is quite often, I enjoy seeing Sabrina’s interactions with both of them. They’re her first real friends who took her under her wings, so to speak, when she’s just starting out.

I LOVE Fanny Ardant as Irene, Sabrina’s mentor at Vogue. I always remember her wise words to Sabrina, “You seem embarrassed by loneliness, it’s only a place to start.” and my personal favorite: “Illusions are dangerous people, they have no flaws.”

SabrinaLouis

I kind of have a crush on Patrick Bruel as Louis, and his character as a fashion photographer is so affable and cool. I’d LOVE to have someone like him show me his Parisian hang out and give me some photography pointers while we’re at it.


So that’s my dream vacation based on some of my favorite movies. Where would YOU like to go on YOUR dream vacation?

Five Favorite Movie Quotes from Inspiring Female Characters

FiveFaveFemaleQuotes

I’m taking a bit of a blogging break and throughout the Summer I’m actually going to blog a bit less as I’m working on my novel/script [still deciding which format it’ll end up to be], plus I just need a break from review writing.

But as I mull over the topic presented by guest blogger Izzy on this post about Gender & Hollywood Screenwriting, it made me feel compelled to write a reaction post of sort. Izzy’s post made me ponder of some of my favorite movie quotes uttered by female characters. As Izzy pointed out, there are far fewer of memorable movie lines by female characters than the male counterparts, even fewer when it’s not romance related or about wanting something from the male co-star of the film. For example, take these two quotes from one of Hollywood’s biggest leading ladies, Julia Roberts:

“I want the fairy tale.” – Vivian, Pretty Woman

“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” – Anna Scott, Notting Hill

For me, some of the truly memorable quotes are those that represent the strength of the character, those that display their feisty-ness, survival prowess or willful defiant against what society dictate them to be.

Well, after raking my brains, here are five quotes I love from some of my favorite female characters of all time:

BetteDavisQuote

All About Eve – It was based on the 1946 short story The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr, although screen credit was not given for it (per Wiki)

ScarlettQuote

Gone With the Wind – 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name.

youfoolLOTR

IamNoManEowyn

Now, this one I had to put the scene before it to put it in context. Eowyn is perhaps one of the most well-rounded supporting female characters in blockbuster films. It’s no doubt one of the highlights of the final Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King:

ElinorQuote

FannyQuote

Both Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park were based on Jane Austen’s famous novels, which always feature strong female protagonists. I LOVE how both Elinor and Fanny are not defined by romance nor the men in their lives. Though they are in love with men who seem to be unattainable due to the societal norm of the day, they stick to their principles even if they have to emotionally suffer from it.

It’s no surprise that four of the films above are based on narrative stories written by women. And nobody could argue that there’s a shortage of female screenwriters [or female anything for that matter] in Hollywood. It’s a pity because just in the past few years, the movies that made a big impression on me happen to be written and/or directed by women, i.e. In A World, Belle, Beyond the Lights, Brave, Gone Girl, Girlhood (Bande de Filles), not to mention these three French films I saw recently that are women-centric: Thérèse Desqueyroux, Violette and Pour Une Femme (For A Woman). I like them because the protagonists break the female archetypes of women being defined by men, but show women as being the complicated, flawed and conflicted beings that we are.

As my friend Cindy wrote in her comment in Izzy’s Post, women are as complicated as men and their characters should represent that. Let’s hope we’ll see more women being active parts of Hollywood filmmaking process, both in front and behind the camera.

 


So what are some of YOUR favorite movie quotes by female characters?

My entry to the Movie Roulette Blogathon

movie-roulette-posterWhen I saw this blogathon that Getter over at Mettel Ray Blog is hosting, I simply had to participate! What an awesome idea, and original one at that. It must’ve taken her ages to made five of those gifs.

Here are the rules:
1. There are 25 facts, you have to pick 5 or more and for each, you drag out a movie as an answer! *Click on the gif, hold it and drag out a single movie*
2. You can only drag out one movie for each statement, no do overs,
3. Write down your answers and feel free to comment whether they make sense or not.
4. Link back to this announcement, and link to the Movie Roulette Ultimate Gif Set as well!
5. Last but not least, have fun!

This proves to be quite fun to do, though I have to admit sometimes I pick the movie first then look at the facts [hope that’s ok Getter!] 😀 Ok, here goes:

1. This movie describes my mood in the mornings the best

YouveGotMail
You’ve Got Mail

Every morning, first thing I check is my iPad for email/twitter/tumblr, etc. In a way, my online connection is what fuels my day 😛

2. I hate the main [male] characters of this movie, but I think they [are] still very hot

ThisMeansWar
This Means War

I abhor the daft idea of this movie but I still watched it [on the plane] for these two guys. I mean Tom Hardy AND Chris Pine looking every bit as gorgeous in every scene? Heck yeah!

3. I would make love to this movie’s plot, it’s amazing

Casablanca
Casablanca

Glad I saw this on the big screen, thanks to TCM Rerelease! One of the best stories about unrequited love… beautifully done all around.

4. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night thinking about this movie… it’s so good!

TheDarkKnight
The Dark Knight

As I just happened to see this interrogation scene during Christopher Nolan’s lecture earlier this month, I remember thinking about how good this scene is. It’s so well-constructed and the two actors are absolutely perfect. It was mesmerizing and it really riled me up.

5. When I think of my childhood, I think of this movie

Superman1978
Superman: The Movie

Well naturally. I saw this when I was a wee girl, probably 4-5, and even at that age, I immediately fell for Christopher Reeve. Yep, he set the bar VERY high for my future crushes.

6. Every time this movie is on TV, I turn it off and sit in complete silence instead

FriendsBenefits
Friends with Benefits

This movie actually never came on TV as I barely watch any TV. But if it were, I’d rather sit in silence or watch paint dry than watch this.

7. This movie makes me so emotional I even cried while watching it

Her_Joaquin
HER

I saw this in a nearly empty cinema and I’m glad there was nobody sitting near me as I was bailing my eyes out in some scenes. It struck me hard emotionally… it was a beautiful experience.

8. If I ever made a movie, it would be something similar to this movie

NottingHill
Notting Hill

I’m referring to the basic idea of this film, and I’ve been toying w/ the idea for some time. In fact, this inspires me to resurrect the Fantasy Movie Pitch blogathon that a now-defunct blog used to do a few years ago.

10. I always wanted to punch this movie’s main character(s) in the face

Twilight
Twilight

I don’t usually get such a violent reaction whilst seeing a movie but can you blame me? I actually watched some clips of this as it’s now on Netflix Streaming [not sure why since I hated it the first time]. I had such a strong reaction wanting to punch these two silly that I simply turned it off.

10. I’m going to recommend this movie to the next person who asks me to recommend them a movie! (Challenge accepted!)

Nightcrawler
Nightcrawler

I’ve actually been recommending this to people who haven’t seen it, and will continue to do so!


Well that’s been tricky but fun! What do you think of my picks?

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!

Scene Spotlight: Changing seasons – Notting Hill

I’ve been having a serious case of Spring fever of late – as practically everybody in my neck of the woods – as we seem to be skipping March and goes directly to May. The Twin Cities have had NO SNOW the entire month, not even any real wind chill to speak off. I mean, the typical temp for this time of year is 47˚F (that’s 8˚C for those outside of USA), but yesterday we hit 73 degrees! Today we may even be flirting with 80˚!! I mean, that’s no doubt tank-top-and-sandals weather, people!! Though on the way to work yesterday morning, I saw a woman pretty much freezing her bums off in her short skirts as the wind still made it feel quite nippy.
NottingHillChangingSeasons

Therefore, I thought it’d be fitting to celebrate this definitely welcome the change of season with this scene from Notting Hill. Despite its blatant scmaltzy and lovey-dovey-ness, it’s perhaps one of the better rom-com out there, if not for the terrific all-British supporting cast and charming sidekicks Rhys Ifans and Emma Chambers — as Hugh Grant’s hilarious roommate and googly-eyed sister, respectively.

Set to Bill Withers’ soulful tune Aint No Sunshine When She’s Gone, it follows Grant’s William Thacker walking through the area of Notting Hill during the four seasons: summer, fall, winter and spring, as he mends his broken heart over Julia Roberts’ movie star Anna Scott.

According to IMDb trivia, the long shot was actually four different shots, all filmed the same day. Computer technology morphed the actor seamlessly from one shot to the next. It’s definitely a lovely and clever way to display the shift from one season to the next, a far cry from this ‘imaginative’ way this popular teen vampire flick did to signify the same thing.

I also chose this scene as my hubby and I are planning celebrate our 7th anniversary with a trip to London, yay! Unfortunately, since we’re not US citizens yet, there’s a vigorous UK Visa process we have to go through, including a biometric appointment (where we have to be finger-printed at an immigration office!). God willing everything will go smoothly and within 45 days we’d be walking where Hugh did in the photo above. So pardon the lack of posts in the next few weeks as I’ll be preoccupied with planning our trip, but there might be quite a few of ‘London-themed’ posts from now until mid May! 🙂


What do you think of Notting Hill and/or this scene?