FlixChatter Review: The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain (2021)

tcff reviews

Benedict Cumberbatch has built his career on quirky roles, and he once again plays an eccentric genius. This time it’s an English artist Louis Wain whose surreal cat paintings, um, catapulted his career at the end of the 19th century. Now, I never thought there was a time when cats weren’t household pets, well apparently part of Wain’s legacy was change the image of cats as distrustful creatures into something cute and cuddly.

Louis’ life however, isn’t quite warm and fuzzy. As the first of six children and the only boy, Wain ends ups supporting all his sisters and his mother following his father’s death. So undoubtedly Wain has a peculiar upbringing and he seems to be willing to put up with a lot, especially the constant berating from the eldest of his five sisters Caroline (Andrea Riseborough). But his spirits perk up upon meeting Emily Richardson (Claire Foy), a governess his family hired for his younger sisters. The romance is frowned upon by the family, particularly Caroline, as Emily is 10 years his senior. But despite their objections, the two are quickly married and moved to Hampstead. It’s there that his love for cats blossomed after they adopted a stray kitten they named Peter.

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There seems to be no shortage of amazingly-gifted artists with tragic lives, and Louis faces tragedy in both love and career despite reaching a certain degree of fame and notoriety. He didn’t get to live a long married life with the love of his life due to cancer, which made him even more prolific with his cat drawings during Emily’s illness. At one point she woke up to a room literally filled with cat paintings Louis had drawn. The relationship between Louis and Emily is quite sweet, and Foy has such a lovely presence on screen, so it’s too bad her screen time is pretty limited here.

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In terms of career, one can’t help but see the similarities between Louis and Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant inventors with the brightest minds who somehow didn’t have the business smarts and faced poverty during his lifetime. Louis confessed to his sisters that he didn’t sign copyright of his work, which caused him to constantly face financial difficulties. For a while Louis was employed at Illustrated London News by its owner, Sir William Ingram (Toby Jones), who became a close friend, but he became sort of a freelance artist throughout his career.

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As a narrative feature, director Will Sharpe (show-runner of the Flowers UK series) is a curious one with a rather bizarre directorial choices that feels experimental and at times psychedelic and overly sentimental. It also uses a narration by Olivia Colman, which feels like a crutch to help us understand what’s going on at certain points of Louis’ life. As the title suggest, there’s also Louis’ pre-occupation with electricity, which I find quite amusing given Cumberbatch played Thomas Edison in The Current War in 2017. Some of his electric-cat drawings reflects this period, shifting from the more anthropomorphic style where the cats are drawn behaving like humans. 

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The depiction of schizophrenia that plagued Wain’s family is at times too manic or too whimsical. Starting with one of his sisters who ended up in a mental hospital, Louis too, suffered from that chronic brain disorder, depicted vividly in the film where he imagines himself drowning and screaming for help from his father. Perhaps the frenzied style is meant to showcase Louis’ mental state, which also tends to succumb to sorrowful mood. Speaking of drowning, I feel like the film often drowns in sadness. The moment Louis lost Peter, the cat he and Emily adopted, Louis is absolutely crestfallen that he sobs for a long period of time as he’s lying on the floor. Then in his later years when Louis is in his 70s living in a mental institution, the gray-haired, weary-faced artist is visited by an old friend whom he first met on a train decades prior. He laments about the harsh life in the psychiatric hospital and how he misses his cats.

The performances are as uneven as the film itself. The usually terrific Andrea Riseborough delivers a strange one-note performance that’s almost grating as she’s screaming all the time, usually directed at poor Louis. Claire Foy has a nice chemistry with Cumberbatch and she has kind of a wide-eyed curiosity as his love interest. I enjoy seeing character actor Adeel Akhtar in a prominent role as Mr. Rider, one of Wain’s biggest allies who helps him secure a more pleasant place to call home, complete with a garden and plenty of cats. As for the two famous cameos, well Taika Waititi’s appearance is largely unmemorable, while Nick Cave’s H.G. Wells is also a blink-and-you-missed it moment.

As for Cumberbatch, though he’s played too many similar characters in his career, he’s still quite good in the role. In fact, he’s competent enough to rise above the uneven direction and still makes a compelling portrait of a true artist that you can’t help root for. I’m glad I got to know a bit about Louis Wain and his work/legacy. The biopic isn’t quite um, electric as it wishes to be, but there’s enough going for this to warrant a recommendation.

3/5 stars


What did YOU think of The Electrical Life of Louise Wain?

Film News I’m excited about – Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren, Julia Roberts + George Clooney

It’s been a while since I actually curated recent movie/casting news that I’m excited about. I was reading one after another involving filmmaker/actors I love so I thought I’d include them here. 

Sam Mendes, Olivia Colman Team for Love Story Empire of Light

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Per THR, the Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes will be directing his own script (his first solo outing as a screenwriter), with Olivia Colman set to star in what sounds like a romantic drama. Mendes will once again be teaming up Roger Deakins in this feature project, the acclaimed cinematographer he worked with on 1917, Skyfall and Revolutionary Road.

The premise is described as a love story, “set in and around a beautiful old cinema, on the South Coast of England in the 1980s.”

Aawwww…. I absolutely LOVE the sound of Empire of Light… even the title sounds enchanting. With Deakins as the DP, surely the film would look absolutely beautiful. Nice that they’re making love, not war, this time around.

I also love seeing love stories involving women in the prime time of their lives (not gonna say older woman, as she’s only a year older than I am, and women in mid 40s are NOT old). I wonder who they’ll cast opposite Colman. I actually like the pairing of her with Rufus Sewell in The Father, though they barely shared a scene together.

 Searchlight Pictures is the studio behind this and the movie is set for a Fall 2022 release. Can’t wait!!


Helen Mirren to Play Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in ‘Golda’

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Another intriguing biopic starring one of my favorite leading ladies!! Per The Wrap, Dame Helen Mirren will play another iconic historical figure, this time it’s as Israel’s only female Prime Minister, Golda Meir.

Guy Nattiv, an Israeli director (Oscar winner for the short film Skin) will direct the film from a screenplay by Florence Foster Jenkins‘ writer Nicholas Martin. The film is called Golda and focuses on the intensely dramatic and high-stake responsibilities and decisions she faced during the Yom Kippur War.

Here’s the full synopsis:

On October 6th, 1973, under cover of darkness, on Israel’s holiest day and during the month of Ramadan, the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan began a surprise attack on the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. Outnumbered and outgunned, Golda Meir confronts the immediate, clear and present danger of a ticking time bomb that she hoped never to face. Surrounded, isolated, and frustrated by the infighting of her all-male cabinet, with little hope of rescue, one woman is in a race against time to save millions of lives on both sides of the conflict.

Per the article, Nattiv was born during the Yom Kippur War, so naturally this is a personal story for him. Apparently during the final chapter of Meir’s life where this deadly surprise attack occurred, she was undergoing secret treatments for her illness. I personally am not familiar with the legendary leader, known as the Iron Lady of Israel, so I’m looking forward to seeing her story brought to life!


George Clooney & Julia Roberts re-teaming in rom-com Ticket To Paradise

George Clooney and Julia Roberts

Two of my favorite rom-coms are Notting Hill and One Fine Day, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, respectively. The two had only done the Ocean Eleven movies and a thriller called Money Monster (which I haven’t seen), so I like the idea of seeing them together in a romantic comedy!

Per Variety, director Ol Parker (the Mamma Mia movies) will direct this from a script he co-wrote with Daniel Pipski. Here’s the premise:

Clooney and Roberts will play a divorced couple that teams up and travels to Bali to stop their daughter from making the same mistake they think they made 25 years ago.

I was wondering if the film will be shot on location in Bali (an island in my home country Indonesia), but apparently it will in Queensland, Australia. Obviously they have good tax incentives there from the Australian federal government and from Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy. In any case, this sounds like a fun movie!


Now, as a film as well as theatre lover, THIS is something I cannot wait to watch!! National Theatre Live brings the best of British theatre to cinema screens all over the UK and beyond and this time they’re adapting another Shakespeare classic.

The National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet

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This stylized film of Shakespeare’s masterpiece from the National Theatre celebrates the theatrical imagination. In this contemporary retelling, a company of actors in a shuttered theater bring to life the tale of two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and hate. Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley star as Shakespeare’s immortal star-crossed lovers. Check out the trailer below:

Another actor from The Crown continues to be making waves I’ve been enchanted by Josh since he played Prince Charles in The Crown. I’ve only seen Jessie in a couple of movies and she’s pretty memorable, so this is quite an intriguing pairing. I notice British actor Adrian Lester in the cast as well, love his work. Per PBS’ website, Great Performances Executive Producer David Horn is quoted as saying “During the ongoing performance shutdown in London and New York, we’re delighted to participate in this compelling hybrid of theater and film that brings an exciting contemporary perspective to one of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays.” 

The production of this modern Shakespeare adaptation looks positively mesmerizing!

Romeo & Juliet Premieres Friday, April 23 at 9/8c on PBS.


Are you excited about these projects?

FlixChatter Review: The Father (2021)

I first heard of The Father (Le Père) when I saw the stage play a few years ago. The play was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and adapted by Christopher Hampton. Zeller teamed up with Hampton once again who wrote the screenplay for the film, and this film became his feature directorial debut. In the play, the Father character is actually called André, but he renamed him Anthony as he wanted Anthony Hopkins specifically for the part. Well, I’m glad Hopkins didn’t turn down the role as he truly was astounding in the role as a headstrong man who’s losing his grip on reality due to dementia.

The film started in a similar fashion as the play, with Anthony complaining to his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) that his watch has been stolen by his caregiver. Despite his daughter’s insistence that he’s only just misplaced it in the cupboard, Anthony refuses to believe her. There’s something wildly amusing in their banters, as Anthony is often quick with a joke even when he’s on edge. Anne meanwhile, is clearly concerned of her father’s deteriorating mind… it’s as if the more severe her dad’s cognitive decline, the more defiant he becomes in refusing her aid.

Zeller’s storytelling style really puts us, the audience, in Anthony’s mind… as soon we too, question the reality of what we’re watching. The actor switcheroo is one of the device used to make us question everything. In one scene we see Olivia Colman as Anne, then in another it’s Olivia Williams (the fact that the two actresses are named Olivia are inspired, perhaps even deliberate casting!) Same with Mark Gatiss and Rufus Sewell… uttering the same familiar dialog in their conversations while Anthony is convinced ‘there’s something funny going on’ that he keeps seeing strangers in his own home.

The scenes mostly take place in a London flat where Anthony now resides in, but the furnitures are in different places in one scene to the next. I started questioning myself as I’m watching this… Just where does Anthony live exactly? Is this posh London flat Antony’s or Anne’s home? Then there’s the thing about about Anne’s current situation… one moment she tells her father that she’s moving to Paris to start life with a new man, to which Anthony reply “Paris? They don’t even speak English there.” But the next moment Anne is baffled why Anthony would even think she’s moving to Paris as she’s intent in staying in London.

I haven’t felt so discombobulated and frustrated while watching a movie, unable to decipher between what’s real and what’s surreal, which is an effective way to immerse ourselves into a story about memory loss. I remember I felt the same way when I was watching the stage play, but I think the film enhanced that trippy feeling to even more devastating effect. Despite the morose subject matter though, this is not an entirely gloomy affair. It helps that cinematographer Ben Smithard allows a lot of light in to keep the mood less downcast.

Hopkins is absolutely perfect in the role, perhaps the most mesmerizing and moving performances I’ve seen him in. He embraces the inherent vulnerability of the role while imbuing it with a sense of wit and whimsy that makes Anthony such a fascinating character. Zeller allows some personal things of Hopkins to be a part of the film, such as using the Welsh actor’s own favorite classical music we see him enjoy in the kitchen and uttering his own birthdate as Anthony’s. Perhaps it makes the role more personal to him, as Hopkins certainly embodied him so beautifully. It’s such a contrast to his most famous role in The Silence of the Lamb… with the only similarity being he stars opposite a very strong female performer, which brings me to Olivia Colman.

I’ve always been a longtime fan of the English actress who seems really kind and good-natured in person. This compassionate, empathetic character seems to be made for her as Anne’s patience with her ailing father seems limitless. Even when her dad is often crass and unfeeling towards her by constantly bringing up his favorite daughter Lucy. Anne’s mental anguish is palpable and that brutal honesty is so moving. It’s a deeply emotional and nuanced performance that feels true without resorting to over-sentimentality.

Imogen Poots is splendid as Laura, the new caregiver Anne hired that Anthony took an immediate liking to. There are some funny bits where he told Laura he was a tap dancer… these moments of levity are definitely a welcome respite to an otherwise relentless mind-bending drama. Gattis, Sewell and Williams all have some memorable moments in their brief appearance. There’s a scene between Hopkins and Sewell that’s hard to watch, even though I’ve already seen it in the play. Of course we don’t even know if that scene actually happened or just Anthony’s mind playing tricks again.

I commend production designer Peter Francis for utilizing the flat itself as a storytelling tool with altering furniture arrangements to disorient the character. Despite being set in mostly a single location, the film didn’t feel claustrophobic. I think it helps that the characters sometimes step out of the flat, even a brief moment outside helps break the mundaneness. As a fan of classical music, I love the score as well, which works perfectly for the film. What a year for Ludovico Einaudi who’s also the composer for Nomadland.

Dementia is a heartbreaking disease that turns loved ones into strangers and this is one of those films that explore its effect in a beautifully-effective way. I actually don’t have any experience with dementia in my own family, at least not directly, still I couldn’t help tearing up watching this, especially towards the end. I can only imagine how tough it is for those who have family members dealing with memory loss, this might hit too close to home for them.

The Father is an astounding film that shows us what it means to be human and the harsh reality of aging. It definitely made me think about my own relationships with the people in my life, and not take my mental health for granted. Zeller has created a haunting portrayal of dementia that is truly, for lack of a better word, unforgettable.


Have you seen THE FATHER? Well, what did you think?

Musings on 2019 Oscars nominations

Well it’s one of those mornings that cinephiles always wait for year after year… the morning Oscar nominations are announced. I for one don’t go out of my way to wake up early to see it live, but when I woke up, of course I immediately tried to see who’s shortlisted.

Right away I noticed that it’s perhaps the most diverse lineup of nominees… though it’s by no means perfect. The Academy’s more-inclusive picks would likely keep those #OscarsSoWhite hashtags at bay… at least for now.

So here are some obligatory random comments (good & bad) about 2019 nominations:

• Not a single female directors nominated?? 😦

The UN Women twitter pic above is downright disheartening, especially since I think there are a bunch of worthy films from female directors… Josie Rourke with Mary, Queen of Scots and Debra Granik with Leave No Trace, among others. While you’re at it, check out my interview with Debra on making the film.

Granik directing Thomasin McKenzie in LEAVE NO TRACE

Netflix is becoming even more of a force to be reckoned with… rivaling big studios in raking in nominees. It’s got 15 nominations thanks to Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA leading with 10 nods, including the coveted Best Picture. How awesome that first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio got a nod in Best Actress, she’s apparently a preschool teacher who didn’t know much about the film industry and barely spoke any English at the time. [Note to self: gotta watch ROMA this weekend!]

Speaking of a Foreign Language film that’s highly-personal to the filmmaker AND set in black & white, glad to see COLD WAR getting recognition with 3 Oscars, including Best Director for Paweł Pawlikowski.


I LOVE this sultry, intensely-passionate romance drama, which was inspired by the love story of Pawel’s own parents!

Whoa! Sixth nominations!! I thought her performance as Lynne Cheney in VICE (once again co-starring with Christian Bale) was terrific. Sadly I don’t think this is Amy Adams‘ year yet, I’m convinced Regina King will take home the statuette.

Happy to see documentary filmmaker Bing Liu getting an Oscar nom on his first film Minding The Gap, wow! I got to meet him last year when he received an award from MSPIFF, here he is with Minnesota’s own film legend Al Milgrom. I actually missed his film at the fest, that’s one I gotta watch real soon!

I know there’ll be all kinds of people hating on Black Panther getting a nomination. But you won’t be hearing it from me. I think it’s well-deserved… a masterful work by director Ryan Coogler that made it so much more than a superhero movie. I highly doubt it’ll actually win Best Picture though, but it’s already made history for being nominated. Oh and with seven nods, I have a feeling it’ll win a couple forBest Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter) and Best Production Design (Hannah Beachler). How awesome would it be if both black women win in those categories!!

It’s no surprise Bradley Cooper is an Academy’s favorite, but I thought he deserved a Best Director nod as much as his acting one. Can you believe it he’s been nominated for an Oscar four times?? Just like his former co-star Amy Adams though, I don’t think this is his year to win an acting Oscar.

Where’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? for Best Documentary??? The Mister Rogers biopic seems poised to be shortlisted… it certainly one of the most moving films I’ve seen all year! I’d say that’s one of the biggest snubs this year.

I know some people are outraged that If Beale Street Could Talk and First Man didn’t get more love. Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle were each other’s biggest rival two years ago with Moonlight & La La Land, and I heavily championed Moonlight to win. But this year, I wasn’t as in love with If Beale Street Could Talk though I find it far more moving and memorable than First Man. So no, no complaints from me that neither one of those movies get a nod.

Now I haven’t even seen You Were Never Really Here but based on what I read so far, sounds like Joaquin Phoenix AND writer/director Lynne Ramsay are both snubbed this year.

I have to catch up on three Best Picture nominees… BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody and Roma. Of the five I have seen, my least favorite is actually The Favourite [gasp!] Now, I didn’t hate the movie [please don’t resort to hyperbole like the rest on social media], I just don’t think it was as great as the critics made it to be and I actually find it irritating at times. My friend Cindy just did a post about it which highlights some of the things that bothered me. I do think all three actresses are terrific playing such hard-to-root-for characters. I’m especially thrilled to see Olivia Colman finally getting the recognition she deserved!

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

My last comment is on a highly controversial movie Green Bookwell, I’m glad it got nominated! I’ve mentioned it on my Top 10 list post that I see this movie as a beautiful story of friendship set during the dark times in American South ripe with racial discrimination. I’m also thrilled to see Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali each get an acting nod! I’ll be torn between Viggo and Christian Bale in the Best Actor race… my gut says this will be Bale’s year to get another Oscar.

Well, there are more that could be said about this year’s nominees but if I continue, I’ll never post this thing.


The 91st Annual Academy Awards will air on Feb. 24 on ABC.


Well, everyone’s got an opinion. What are your thoughts on the Oscars nominations?

Musings on 2019 Golden Globes nominations – and the egregious snubs

The award season is officially here… can you believe it? [I still don’t believe it’s Winter already, but well, whatchagonnado?] The Golden Globes nominations were announced this morning, and so the reactions for snubs and surprises have dominated social media. So why not add one more for the fun of it.

Before we go into my thoughts on the noms, let me say that I’m thrilled to see Sandra Oh will be hosting the telecast, along with Andy Samberg. Glad she’s amongst the nominees too, wahoo!!

Now about the nominations… per usual, in addition to my thoughts about the nominees, I thought I’d include my winner pick for some of the categories…

Here is the full list of 2019 Golden Globe nominees (via Variety)

Best Motion Picture – Drama

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“A Star Is Born”

Ok so I’ve only seen three out of five, hopefully I can catch up with Bohemian Rhapsody and BlacKkKlansman later this month. Honestly, I’m not as enamored with Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk the way I did with Moonlight. I actually like the acting of the two leads and Regina King, but that’s about it. I am thrilled to see Black Panther breaking new grounds as the only superhero film getting nominated, yay! It’s absolutely well-deserved and of course I’m rooting for that. I loved A Star Is Born too, but I’d give Black Panther a slight edge because it’s not only a fun, entertaining film with substance, but it’s also immensely re-watchable.

My winner pick: Black Panther (my review)


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)

I’ve only seen Lady Gaga’s and Melissa McCarthy’s performances, man what a list!! No doubt Close, Kidman and Pike all give worthy performances, but I was truly impressed by McCarthy’s sensitive and nuanced performance as Lee Israel. Balancing comedy and drama is so tough, and I thought she did a terrific job playing a rather unlikable character.

My winner pick: Melissa McCarthy


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”)
John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”)

Gaaah I have only seen Cooper’s performance here 😦 I’m not going to pick a winner as I should at least see two performances of the list. But if Cooper does win, I’d be totally ok with it as I think he delivered a tremendous performance in his directorial debut (my review of A Star Is Born)


Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Vice”

Ok so most of you know just how much I adore Crazy Rich Asians and how much representation of Asians (esp. Southeast Asians) in Hollywood matters to me. I have to say that Green Book also really moved me. Both films have wildly-different style and tone, but both speak about hot button issue of race with humor. I LOVE the cast in both films too, which made it all the more difficult to choose between the two!

My winner picks: Green Book or Crazy Rich Asians


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)

Firstly, where in the world is Viola Davis??!??! Come on HPFA! She was simply phenomenal in Steve McQueen’s fantastic ensemble cast and she’s the heart and soul of that movie. The lack of love for Widows is truly mind blowing!

Ok now that’s out of my system… given that I’m actually rather lukewarm about The Favourite (which is NOT my favorite films of the year), I really love Colman’s performance as the decidedly unlikable and bizarre Queen Anne. The film’s also decidedly riddled with historical inaccuracies (esp. in regards to her lesbian affairs), yet Colman was mesmerizing in the role. I just think Colman is such a deftly talented actress and I’m thrilled to see her finally getting more recognition!

My winner pick: Olivia Colman


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale (“Vice”)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”)

I’m still waiting with bated breath for the press screening of VICE (scheduled to be released on Christmas day). Just based on the trailer alone, I’m willing to bet that Christian Bale will disappear once again into his role as Dick Chenney, perhaps the unlikeliest role for the Welsh thespian even in his wildly diverse resume. It’s pure coincidence that both dreamboat actors (Batman and Aragorn) gained significant weight for their respective roles. I LOVED Mortensen’s comedic performance in Green Book, so I’d be truly happy if either one of them win!

My winner pick: Christian Bale or Viggo Mortensen


Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Amy Adams (“Vice”)
Claire Foy (“First Man”)
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”)

Hmmm, the Hollywood Foreign Press clearly is enamoured (yes I’m using the British spelling here to match the film’s title, ha!) with The Favourite. I personally would love to see one of the ladies from Widows being nominated here (esp. Elizabeth Debicki). But if I had to pick one from THIS list, I’d go with…

My winner pick: Regina King


Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)
Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”)
Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Sam Rockwell (“Vice”)

I have only seen Ali and Richard E. Grant who’s excellent as Melissa McCarthy’s randy bff. Everyone seems to be smitten with Timothee Chalamet (I haven’t seen enough of him to form an opinion) but Driver and Rockwell are such great character actors. I do have a soft spot for Mahershala, who’s so elegant and oh-so-regal as Dr. Don Shirley.

My winner pick: Mahershala Ali


Best Motion Picture – Animated

“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

I’m going to refrain from picking a winner as I’ve only seen Ralph Breaks The Internet (see my review and interview with the filmmakers). I am excited to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse this weekend!


Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

“Capernaum”
“Girl”
“Never Look Away”
“Roma”
“Shoplifters”

I am ashamed to say I have not seen any of these!! I was hoping to go see ROMA last month at the Film Society, but the schedule just didn’t work out.


Best Director – Motion Picture

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)

Um, firstly… where are the female directors?? Hello???! FastCompany listed no less than 29 female directors that did some worthy projects eligible for noms.

Oh well.

Looking at this list… I was really impressed with Cooper’s directorial debut and not surprised at all he’s nominated. However, I don’t think he deserved to win in this lineup. I’ve heard nothing but tremendous praise for Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA, which chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s, starring unknown actors. If I were a betting woman, I’d put my $$$ on the Mexican filmmaker.

My winner pick: Alfonso Cuaron


Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”)

Yes I know the movie hasn’t come out yet, but this movie’s already leading the pack with six Globes nominations. Adam McCay could very well score another big win in the screenplay category. He’d won in 2015 for The Big Short, which also had Christian Bale AND Steve Carell in it, both looked utterly convincing as Chenney and Donald Rumsfeld respectively. Physical transformation aside, this political satire has certainly become the one to beat this award season.

My winner pick: Vice


Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”)
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)


Best Original Song – Motion Picture

“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
“Requiem For a Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation’ (“Boy Erased”)
“Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”)

This song was stuck in my head for weeks after I saw the movie. Even listening to it again it still moved me to tears. It has everything one wants in a romantic ballad, it has a Whitney Houston vibe to it (circa The Bodyguard) … a truly beautiful and highly-emotional song.

My winner pick: Shallow


Best Television Series – Drama

“The Americans”
“Bodyguard”
“Homecoming”
“Killing Eve”
“Pose”

I’ll refrain from making my pick as I’ve only Bodyguard in its entirety. I’ve only seen season 1 of The Americans and based on that alone, I can see why it’s become awards darling for years. I hope to catch Killing Eve just to see Sandra Oh, I’m thrilled to see her finally getting recognition after putting in great work all these years.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

As I mentioned above, I can’t wait to see Killing Eve. But given I don’t have cable, who knows when I can finally see the BBC America series. I just read this on the NYTimes“Spy thrillers almost never cast women as both the cat and the mouse, and this one also features an equally rare female presence behind the camera: The English writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge… is the series’s lead writer, showrunner and executive producer.” Just for this reason alone I’m rooting for this show to win! Miss Oh missed out on becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win an Emmy in the lead actress category, I’m hoping she has a better chance in snatching the Globe since Claire Foy is not amongst the nominees.

My winner pick: Sandra Oh


I’m going to refrain from picking my winner picks in these TV categories. Yes I have picked winners from films/shows I haven’t seen before, but I don’t have any strong hunch or feelings about the following shows and performers to make up my mind.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Stephan James (“Homecoming”)
Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”)
Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

“Barry” (HBO)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Kidding” (Showtime)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”)
Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”)
Alison Brie (“Glow”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Sasha Baron Cohen (“Who Is America?”)
Jim Carrey (“Kidding”)
Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

“The Alienist” (TNT)
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
“Sharp Objects” (HBO)
“A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”)
Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”)
Connie Britton (“Dirty John”)
Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”)
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”)


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Edgar Ramirez (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”)
Henry Winkler (“Barry”)


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”)
Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Ok so I have only seen Borstein and Newton’s (in S1 of Westworld) performances. I absolutely love Borstein’s performance as Susie in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that I kind of want her to win every time she’s nominated!

My winner pick: Alex Borstein


Biggest Surprises

Well, for me it’d be 15-year-old star of Eighth Grade, Elsie Fisher. I haven’t heard of her before this one, and the film wasn’t exactly on my radar. Well good for her, she’s actually done a ton of projects in her young career.

I think VICE being the leader of the pack at the Globes and possibly at the Oscars could count as a surprise to most people. I really can’t wait to see that movie!!

Most egregious snubs

Well firstly, the obvious… where are the female directors?? I mentioned it above in the Best Director category, and for one I thought Josie Rourke who directed Mary, Queen of Scots might have a shot. And there’s Mimi Leder, director of On The Basis of Sex, who hasn’t directed a feature film in ages!

As for the performers… let’s start with Viola Davis in Widows.

I mean… I was quite floored NOT to see her name amongst the Best Actress category. She’s truly amazing as the leader of a fantastic ensemble cast and her performance is simply outstanding. The lack of love for Steve McQueen’s Widows baffles me. There are themes of social, economical, political and racial divides, not to mention a female empowerment story that makes it SO much more than a cool popcorn thriller.

I haven’t seen the film yet but based on the reviews of Hereditary (including ours, by Laura S), I thought Toni Collette’s nomination is a shoo-in [shrug].


So what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes nominees? Who do you think are snubbed and who are you rooting for?

FlixChatter Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

There are films you’d readily see just for the cast and this is one such a film. I’m familiar with Agatha Christie’s work though I can’t claim I’ve actually finished even one of her books from start to finish. I did however, see the episode from British ITV production of the Agatha Christie series starring David Suchet a couple of years ago, so the plot is still quite fresh in my mind. The latest adaptation featured Kenneth Branagh as the Belgian super detective Hercule Poirot. Branagh also served as director, based on a script by Michael Green (who’s had quite a year as he also wrote Logan and Blade Runner 2049).

The opening sequence in Jerusalem seemed too whimsical and decidedly over-the-top, and I’m not just talking about Poirot’s outlandish mustache. I read in a review somewhere that Branagh can’t decide which fake mustache given to him from the makeup department so he basically just wore them all in a row. I think that enormous mustache probably has its own trailer, too! That establishing scene introduced us to a god-like figure who’s an absolute genius in cracking criminal cases. It also revealed his quirky OCD personality, so obsessed he is with balance that when he stepped one foot on manure, he immediately had to do the same with the other foot.

For a story famous for being set on a train, the film took its time to finally get there. But once there, the train set pieces is really quite glorious, filled with lavish set pieces and even more gorgeous passengers decked in 1930s costumes. Despite the rather sluggish pacing, I enjoyed myself thanks to the amazing cast. A movie with Dame Judi Dench is an automatic must-see in my book, though sadly she didn’t get to do anything in this film. But to be fair, most of the actors here seemed to have spent more time in costumes than learning their lines. She’s still memorable here, as is Olivia Colman as Dench’s German maid.

It’s tough to be memorable in a large ensemble cast as this one, but I’d say the film’s MVPs are Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard, Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham, Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot. Oh, and hello Tom Bateman as train director Bouc (never seen this tall, dark and handsome Brit before but I sure hope I’ll see more of him!) It’s interesting casting to have Johnny Depp as Ratchett given his dire reputation of late. Branagh’s performance is often borderline over the top as well which in itself can be distracting. But I thought his monologue after the big reveal is pretty good and provides the high emotional point of the film. I love La Pfeiffer in this scene too, I’ve missed seeing her in movies. She’s one of those veteran actresses I wish would still get many intriguing roles.

I’m not going to talk about the plot here, but Branagh took some interesting creative licenses with how the story came to the big reveal. He also tried to vary the scenes of each passenger interrogation as to not bore the viewers, some work better than others. I love Branagh’s direction in Cinderella but here he seems too preoccupied with camera work (esp. the bird’s eye view angle) that the film feels rather haphazard at times. The dynamic camera angles adds energy to an otherwise stuffy whodunnit drama, but at times can be quite distracting as well.

Overall it’s a decent adaptation, but I’m not sure if it’s really all that necessary. I feel like the rich story would’ve been better served as a miniseries. There are parts that feel emotional, especially as we get to know who the passengers really are, but I think the film lacks any real suspense. That said, I still enjoyed it thanks to the committed cast, the stunning set pieces and the gorgeous score from one of my fave composers (and Branagh’s regular collaborator) Patrick Doyle. The ending seems to hint at ‘Poirot will return’ a la another titular character James Bond. Not sure I’d be so eager to return to another Poirot adaptation from Branagh though. I guess I’d recommend this if you like the cast, though if you’re a Christie fan you’d probably be more satisfied with re-reading the novel.


Have you seen the latest adaptation of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’? Well, what did you think? 

Question of the Week: What new (or new to you) TV series are you really into right now?

Hi everyone! Just to switch things up from all the awards chatter (which is so tiresome already), let’s talk about TV shows.

BroadchurchBBCIn the start of the new year, I thought I should catch up on some great shows that people have been recommending. So last week I finally caught up on Season 1 of BROADCHURCH starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant. Thanks to my friend Dave W. who gave me this top 10 reasons of why you should absolutely check out this amazing British drama if you haven’t already. It’s every bit as gripping and emotionally-engaging as I had expected. It took me about four days to finish all 10 episodes as it’s really quite addictive that I couldn’t stop watching!

Now, just yesterday I finally got around to seeing another British series I’ve been meaning to check out: The Honourable Woman.

TheHonourableWomanI erroneously thought that this 8-part series will leave Netflix at the end of the month but it’s actually not up for renewal so it will REMAIN on its streaming service, yay! In any case, I can’t tell you enough how good this series is and Maggie Gyllenhaal absolutely deserves her Golden Globe win as the show’s protagonist. Here’s the premise:

Nessa Stein, a woman who inherits her father’s arms business and finds herself in a international maelstrom when as she continues to promote the reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Right from the get go, the show created by Hugo Blick is immensely riveting and suspenseful. Plot twists abound as you have no clue who’s good or bad, there’s no clear heroes or villains which makes it all the more intriguing. The writing, acting and cinematography are top notch, and not only does it have a strong female protagonist, it’s nice to see women playing prominent characters in this series. As a fan of British dramas, the show is filled fantastic mostly-British cast: Stephen Rea, Janet McTeer, Andrew Buchan (who’s also in Broadchurch), and Tobias Menzies. Maggie is a native New Yorker but her British accent is flawless (well it sounds that way to me anyway) but it’s her acting and elegant way she moves that is truly fun to watch.

Check out the trailer:


So that’s what I’ve been obsessing lately. Which *new* shows did you just discover that you can’t get enough of?