December 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) Of The Month

dec-2021-viewingrecap

 

Happy New Year, everyone!! Well, congrats on surviving 2021… may this new year bring you more peace, joy, love, success and good health!!

happynewyear

I honestly think last year felt like a breeze, especially the last half with Thanksgiving and Christmas gone by so quickly that it practically had time to digest it. Though initially we were going to spend Christmas in Arizona, we decided not to travel during the holidays, especially since my cousin actually got her Quebec trip canceled by her hotel a couple of weeks before her stay. I certainly hope we can start traveling again by Spring at least [fingers crossed!]

Ok, now on to the movie report… 

 

new-to-me-movies

Nightmare Alley

nightmare-alley-still

Full Review

3.5/5 Reels


A Boy Called Christmas

aboy-called-christmas

I wanted to watch a Christmas-themed original movie and this one intrigued me because of Maggie Smith‘s casting. It turns out to be just okay, nowhere near as good as Klaus which I saw last year. I find it amusing to hear Stephen Merchant‘s voice as the little mouse, but Sally Hawkins plays a really weird and awkward villain. Overall it has enough going for it to make for a good family movie, but doesn’t have enough oomph to make it a classic.

3Reels


Tragedy of Macbeth 

tragedy-macbeth-denzel-frances

Full Review

4.5/5 stars


The King’s Man

kings-man-2021

I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do a full review of The King’s Man but let’s just say it’s such a baffling movie that’s tonally off… it started out serious but then became kind of a parody, especially the scenes involving Rhys Ifans as Rasputin (I was laughing and cringing at the same time). If a movie could suffer from an identity crisis, then this would be a perfect example. Ralph Fiennes is still so committed to the role however, which is commendable but also bewildering given the bizarre script. Quite a disappointment from Matthew Vaughn as I enjoyed the first two Kingsman movies.

2-half Reels


Sing 2

sing2-stage

Full Review

4/5 stars


Being The Ricardos

BeingTheRicardos-Kidman-Bardem

Full Review

3.5/5 Reels


The Power of the Dog*

powerofthedog

Review to come…


Spiderman: No Way Home

spidey-nowayhome-peter-mj

Full Review

4.5/5 stars


Matrix Resurrections*

Matrix-Resurrections-dodge-bullets1
Full Review

2Reels


The Movies That Made Us: ROBOCOP

Robocop-original

I quite enjoyed this docu-series that presents the behind-the-scenes look into how great classics got made, as well as the impact of its release, which often beats expectations. Having just seen ROBOCOP on the big screen earlier this year, it was fun to see the journey of how this sci-fi hit got made. Peter Weller was truly perfect for the role, and Paul Verhoeven‘s antics was pretty hilarious to watch.

4/5 stars


Don’t Look Up

dontlookup-supermarket
Full Review

2-half Reels


Non-Stop

nonstop-movie

My hubby and I really enjoy the Liam Neeson action franchise (yep, he is practically his own franchise, ahah). This one was enjoyable, I guess I didn’t expect too much out of his action flicks and I always find him watchable despite the movie’s flaws. I have about 3 more Neeson-In-Action flicks to watch before I do a recap post of all of them.

3Reels


Pig

pig-movie

I haven’t seen a Nic Cage movie in a while as there’s nothing he’s done that interested me of late, but I was intrigued by the good reviews of this one and it lives up to the hype. You could say this is a career-best performance. I really like his subdued, almost passive role in a character-driven drama that deals with someone’s fraught legacy. Michael Sarnoski is a filmmaker to watch in his feature directorial debut. I like his story telling style that takes its time in the way it reveals the character’s journey, and the payoff in the end is an emotional one.

4/5 stars


Zookeeper’s Wife*

zookeepers-wife

3.5/5 Reels


Ron’s Gone Wrong*

rongonewrong

The trailer somehow didn’t wow me but I decided to give it a shot and I ended up enjoying it! Setting the story of a malfunctioning digital device in the form of a cute bubble bot is so clever and hits so close to home even for adults like me. I’d think parents of teens who are constantly on Tik Tok would be amused and terrified at the same time, ahah. The dark side of tech allegory obviously has a not-so-subtle jab against big tech giants like Apple and Facebook, especially the latter given its blatant disregard of privacy concerns. Makes me even more glad I’ve quit using that darn app!

3.5/5 Reels


The Lost Daughter*

lost-daughter

      Review to come


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I saw five films directed by women this month, so below is my tally of the year for the 52 Films By Women challenge.

  1. Promising Young Woman
  2. Raya and the Last Dragon
  3. One Night in Miami
  4. Where Hands Touch
  5. Orlando
  6. Things Heard and Seen
  7. Love It Was Not (doc)
  8. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
  9. Antoinette dans les Cevennes
  10. The Assistant
  11. Rita Moreno (doc)
  12. Black Widow
  13. Last Letter From Your Lover
  14. Love Sarah
  15. CODA
  16. The Girl In The Book
  17. Reminiscence
  18. The Souvenir
  19. Love & Basketball
  20. Out Kind Of Traitor
  21. Worth
  22. My Name is Pauli Murray
  23. Good On Paper
  24. Proxima
  25. I Am Woman
  26. I’m Your Man
  27. Sounds Like Love
  28. Eternals
  29. Forty Year Old Version
  30. Passing
  31. The Power of the Dog
  32. The Matrix Resurrections
  33. The Zookeeper’s Wife
  34. Ron’s Gone Wrong
  35. The Lost Daughter

Well, I’ve only managed to complete about 70% of the 52 total… which means I have to do better next year! I might do a separate post of my top 5 favorite movies directed by women I saw last year.


TV SERIES

I finished season 1 of these two series that I quite enjoyed…

Hawkeye (Disney+) & The Wheel of Time (Amazon Prime)

I have to admit that one of the main reasons I tuned in to Hawkeye was because Florence Pugh was going to appear as Yelena. Wish they had her in at least half of the episodes instead of just two. She’s SO phenomenal as Yelena and was definitely the scene stealer of Black Widow. She deserves her own standalone series and movie!! In any case, I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Kingpin in the MCU!

As for Wheel of Time, well I like the first season enough that I’m anticipating more from this series. I sure hope there are more Daniel Henney as LAN in future episodes though, he’s got such a strong screen presence that demands to be showcased more.


REWATCHES

Spiderman: Far From Home

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Avengers Infinity War

Avengers Endgame

My rewatches are clearly inspired by Spiderman: No Way Home, ahah. I saw the previous Tom Holland version w/ Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio to prepare for the new one. The Winter Soldier is my fave MCU movie so far that I usually watch at least once a year. I started watching Infinity War on a whim and of course once you watched that, you gotta finish it up with Endgame. The death of Black Widow and Tony Stark still hit me hard even on repeat viewing, which is a testament to how good the character development has been in the MCU, bravo Kevin Feige!


DECEMBER MOVIE(s) OF THE MONTH

POWER OF THE DOG + THE LOST DAUGHTER

It’s another tie this month as I can’t choose between these two excellent films that are both directed by women. Jane Campion is a true auteur who’s been making films since the mid 80s, while Maggie Gyllenhaal has just ventured into directing, but I was equally impressed with Power of the Dog and The Lost Daughter … both are supremely-crafted and have a haunting effect long after the film is done.

Full reviews coming in the next week or so.


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in DECEMBER?

November 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

Woo wee! We’re now in the LAST month of 2021! Where has the time go?? We have been in a pandemic period for nearly two years now… and whaddayaknow, it’s far from over 😦 I’m scheduled for my booster in mid December, I suppose it could very well be our new routine, like getting a flu shot annually… it’s the new normal I suppose, better get used to it. Let’s not dwell on that though, now on to the movie report… 

new-to-me-movies

Movies That Made Us: Dirty Dancing

moviethatmadeus-dirtydancing

I quite enjoyed this docu-series that presents the behind-the-scenes look into how great classics got made, as well as the impact of its release, which often beats expectations. This one has some really interesting tidbits, apparently Jennifer Grey who’s first cast didn’t want the producers to hire Patrick Swayze… anyone but him, she said, but hey they clearly have a great chemistry that contributes to the film’s massive success.

The Harder They Fall

hardertheyfall-idris
     4/5 stars
Read Ted’s Full Review

Red Notice

Netflix-RedNotice-cast
    HalfReel
Full Review

King Richard

kingrichard-will-smith
      4/5 stars
Full Review

Forty Year Old Version*

forty-year-old-version-radha-blank
4.5/5 stars
Full Review

Passing*

passing-ruth-tessa
      3Reels
Full Review

The Marksman

the-marksman

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to reviewing this, but as far as Liam Neeson‘s action flick goes, it’s definitely sub-par. I might do a summary of all the Neeson-In-Action ranking at some point, once I get around to The Commuter and Non-Stop.

House of Gucci

houseofgucci-fake-guccis
    2-half Reels
Full Review

Ghostbusters Afterlife 

ghostbusters-afterlife

Not sure I’ll be reviewing this one anytime soon, so let’s just say I enjoyed it despite not being a massive fan of the original. I mean it was a fun movie but I wasn’t clamoring to see a remake/reboot of it. But as far a fan-service type movies go, this one was done well and has fun characters, esp. Phoebe and Podcast, those two kids are the movie MVPs for me.

West Side Story

WSS-2021

Full Review coming soon – in the meantime, check out my
Music Break post of five favorite songs from West Side Story!


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I only saw two films directed by women in November, so I have to catch up this month to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

I didn’t see as many new movies this past month, partly because I had been bingeing on multiple new shows.

FOUNDATION (2021) – Apple TV

foundation-tv-finale

Despite the absolutely breathtaking visuals (definitely BEST production design of any TV series I’ve seen this year), this series was not as captivating as I had hoped. The pacing can be a bit sluggish and the various storylines seem disjointed, but I’m glad I stuck with it as the last few episodes were really good, down to the suspenseful and shocking finale… the MVP of the series are definitely the women (as I’ve mentioned in my post here), especially Laura Birn as Demerzel. I’m definitely curious for season 2!

Hawkeye – Disney+

hawkeye-disney

I have to admit I wasn’t at all clamoring to see a Hawkeye stand-alone movie/series, but here we are. I got two-episode screenings last week and decided to give it a shot. Well, I quite enjoyed the Christmas setting–and that amusing bit of Rogers The Musical–but the star is truly Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop who’ll likely take the mantle from Jeremy Renner. The two have a fun chemistry but the show is hardly the most exciting compared to the other MCU series on Disney+ so far.

The Wheel of Time* – Amazon Prime

wheeloftime-cast

I’ve enjoyed the first 3 episodes so far, and the latest one definitely got me even more intrigued in the series. Check out my friend Laura’s review who’s a big fan of Robert Jordan’s books. I like the fact that there’s diversity in front AND behind the camera, as the first two episodes were directed by a female director (Uta Briesewitz) and an Asian-British filmmaker (Wayne Yip).

Only Murders in the Building – Hulu

onlymurdersinbldg

As everyone has been raving about this show, my hubby and I decided to watch it. Well, we are hooked! Steve Martin and Martin Short are comedic genius and Selena Gomez makes up for a fun, albeit unlikely trio investigating murder in their building. I love that the two comedic veterans are playing two creative has-beens (Martin is a former actor still holding on to his former glory and Short is a former theatre director who’s down on his luck), while Gomez is a beautiful, smart girl with a mysterious past. Two eps in so far and can’t wait for more!


REWATCHES

DUNE | X-Men | X-Men 2 | Crazy Rich Asians | The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

 

It’s quite an eclectic rewatches this month. Of course I had to rewatch DUNE on HBO Max before it left the platform and I enjoyed it even more than the first watch. I still adore Crazy Rich Asians on second watch and Awkwafina is still hilarious as the bestie.

Not sure why I was in the mood for X-Men, but once I watched the first movie, I was inclined to rewatch the 2nd one with the brilliant Brian Cox as Stryker. On the last day of the month, I was browsing Prime Video and I just couldn’t resist The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I LOVE the cast filled with the best of the British thespians… it’s fun seeing how far Dev Patel has come (so glad he’s not just stuck doing Indian roles), but my faves are definitely Judi Dench and Bill Nighy and their tentative relationship is just so delightful!


NOVEMBER MOVIE OF THE MONTH

forty-year-old-version

As I said in my full review, I’m still kicking myself that I missed this astounding film last year. It’s definitely the best film I saw in November, and it’s the highest rating I’ve given a film in a long time. If you haven’t seen the creative force that is Radha Blank, you must watch this immediately. Lucky for you, it’s on Netflix!


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in NOVEMBER?

October 2021 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

Ok so spooky month is out of the way now… I have to say I’m not as fond of Halloween season as most people do. I mean I rarely watch horror movies anyway and just because it’s October doesn’t mean I was going to start watching scary movies. The only movie I saw that is somewhat spooky is Last Night in Soho. I did see quite a few new movies as well as rewatched some of my old favorites!

In any case, now on to the movie report… 

NEW TO ME MOVIES

I actually didn’t get to see as many new movies this past month, not sure why… but hey, I did get to see No Time To Die at least a week earlier than most, so yay!

Attack Of The Hollywood Clichés (2021)

attack-hollywood-cliches

This was pretty ok to watch as Rob Lowe is a funny guy, but overall it’s not as clever as they want to be.

Proxima* (2019)

proxima-movie-eva-green

I watched this as I love Eva Green and Alice Winocour directed the Oscar-nominated French film Mustang in 2015. It’s a really good film that highlights a female astronaut’s journey to space while balancing her role as a mother to a young daughter.

The Last Duel (2021)

lastduel-jodie-comer

Read my review

The Guilty (2021)

theguilty-netflix

I had seen the Danish version (which I reviewed here) so I was curious to check out the Netflix remake. I think this Antoine Fuqua film is competently-made and Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent, but I’d say the Danish original is still superior, and frankly I’m not fond of the ending that makes it an un-subtle ‘message movie’ about police brutality.

Burnt (2015)

burnt-movie-poster

A friend of mine recommended this to me and I’m glad I finally watched this. I’m not sure about the poor reviews as I quite like this one and Bradley Cooper is great as the lead. I also love Daniel Brühl, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy and Matthew Rhys. What a cast!! Plus I usually enjoy movies set in London.

MASS (2021)

mass-movie

This is one of the most effective contained-film that relies of a fantastic script and phenomenal performances. Not sure when I’ll review this, but let’s just say I’m glad I saw it, though it’s not something I ever want to rewatch.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)

electrical-life-louis-wain-benedict-cumberbatch

Read my review

DUNE (2021)

dune-2021-timothee-chalamet

Read my in-depth review

I’m Your Man* (2021)

imyourman-still1

Review upcoming – but in short, I LOVED it!

Rumor Has It (2005)

rumor-has-it-poster

I don’t normally care for Jennifer Aniston‘s rom-com, was intrigued because of The Graduate reference. Well, I’m not sure about the pairing of Kevin Costner given the 14-year age gap, and they didn’t really have a good chemistry. The movie is meh overall, though I LOVE seeing how cute young Mark Ruffalo is in this movie! 

I Am Woman* (2019)

i-am-woman-movie

I was searching for a female-directed movie on Netflix and found this one, directed by Unjoo Moon. I’m so glad I watched it as I’m not at all familiar with singer Helen Ready but wow, what a woman! Love all the songs here, too, I think I’ll review this one properly one day, but I highly recommend it!

Sounds Like Love* (2021)

sounds-like-love-netflix

Ok, here’s another movie directed by a woman on Netflix, but I could barely finish this one. It’s got a cute premise but most of the characters are intolerable and really hard to watch. If I were to rate this based on what I’ve watched so far, it’d be 1/5 stars, and I doubt the third act would redeem this movie. If you’re not into rom-com, AVOID this one, but if you really love this genre, maybe it’s still watchable, but I’m not sure.

Little Italy (2018)

little-italy-poster

Ok so the poster apparently went viral a few years ago, which isn’t surprising as some people could hardly believe this movie even existed!! Well, I had to watch it to believe it and wow, it’s a rom-com released in 2018 but has the sensibilities (AND all the clichés) of something in the early 90s. Interesting that the director had made another pizza-related rom-com Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts, and at one point, Julia’s niece Emma Roberts also wore a t-shirt that says A Slice in Heaven. Well, this movie is far from being heavenly, but still amusing to see Hayden Christensen as he seems to be heading into a come-back with him reprising his role as Anakin/Darth Vader in the upcoming Ahsoka Disney+ series.

A Fire Within (2021)

a-fire-within-doc

Read my review

Movies That Made Us: ALIENS (2021)

movies-made-us-aliens

I always enjoy the behind-the-scenes process of how a hit movie got made, and this one proved that A) James Cameron is a super intense and perfectionist director that often rubs cast/crew the wrong way (surprise, surprise!) and B) Sigourney Weaver is not just a strong heroine on screen but off-screen as well with the way she vouched and fought for the crew, you go girl!

Eternals* (2021)

eternals-visual2

Review upcoming… not a bad film per-se, but pretty disappointing.

The Song of Lunch (2010)

song-of-lunch-movie

This is more of a poetic experimental TV Movie than an actual film but I decided to watch it as I LOVE both Emma Thompson AND Alan Rickman, who were co-stars in my all-time favorite movie Sense & Sensibility, as well as Christmas staple Love, Actually. It’s watchable simply because of those two charismatic actors.

Finch (2021)

finch-movie-apple

Review upcoming – but it’s pretty good!

Belfast (2021)

belfast-still

Review upcoming – but for now I can say that I loved it!
I’m convinced this will get an Oscar nom for Best Picture.

Last Night in Soho (2021)

lastnightinsoho-anya-taylorjoy

Read Vince’s review

I saw this last night on Halloween and I quite enjoyed it, primarily for the visual style, 60s retro music and Thomasin McKenzie’s performance.


52 films by womenMovies indicated with * (asterisk) indicates those directed by women. I managed to see FIVE films directed by women in October, which means I’m on a good track to complete the 52 Films By Women challenge by the end of the year.


TV SERIES

Apple TV+ FOUNDATION (2021)

leepace-foundation

So far the only series I watched this month is FOUNDATION, and it’s been slow-going… partly because the series isn’t as engaging as I had hoped (despite THAT scene of shirtless Lee Pace, ahah). I love the premise so I still haven’t given up hope, but hopefully it gets better as A WHEEL OF TIME is arriving in mid November so I know I’ll be watching THAT!


REWATCHES

Titanic (1997) | No Time To Die (2021) | Serendipity (2001)

Some fun rewatches this month! I re-watched No Time To Die on opening weekend with my husband and I actually liked it a bit more the second time around, but I stand by what I said in my review.

Titanic is on Netflix again so of course I had to watch it again, though it took me a couple of days to finish it, such a long movie!! (and yes, I think there is room in that bloody door for TWO people, or at least Rose should help Jack find another log to rest on, I think he’d still be alive!)

Not sure why I rewatched Serendipity again but I LOVE the NYC scenery in that movie even though the plot is so preposterous.

One Night with the King (2006) | Paddington (2014) | Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I’ve been reading the Esther story and found that One Night With the King is free on Tubi. It’s actually a pretty decent film with huge names like Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif (reuniting after Lawrence of Arabia!), and Tiffany Dupont is lovely as Queen Esther. Luke Goss is such a strange casting pick as King Xerxes, it’s especially amusing to me as I used to like the music from his British duo, BROS.

Paddington and Sense & Sensibility are two of my all-time fave British movies. I LOVE the Ang Lee’s Jane Austen adaptation every single time I saw it (which I lost count at this point). Paddington is still adorable, but I much prefer Paddington 2 which is far superior to the original.


OCTOBER MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

It’s another tie for Movie of the Month … they couldn’t be more different in terms of story, tone and visual style but they’re both competently-made and also deeply personal for both directors.

Denis Villeneuve has dreamed of making DUNE since he was 13 years old, which was 40 years ago, while Kenneth Branagh wrote BELFAST as a love letter to his hometown that he left when he was 9 years of age (over 50 years ago) when his family uprooted to London during the Troubles period.


Well, what did you watch last month and what’s YOUR favorite film(s) you saw in OCTOBER?