Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Ok let’s start off with the casting news that’s likely still on everyone’s minds. I know it must be on my pal Ted S.’s mind as he’s a huge fan of of the book, right Ted? The forever-in-the-works adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower finally has casting in place: Idris Elba will play the gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey will play the villainous Man in Black.

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King himself has confirmed the casting:

I know there’ll be fuss about the race thing just like when Elba played Norse god Heimdall in Thor, but I personally think Elba’s one of those actors that can pull off ANY role, regardless of what skin color the character’s supposed to be. But I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if he’d actually fit the character of Roland in terms of personality, etc.

So what do y’all think about this casting news? 
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2. Now, a lot of you already know I’m currently into British actor Sam Riley. I’ve also been obsessing over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where he played a charming but dangerous Mr. Darcy [the only Darcy I ever hyperventilate over 😉 ]. If it’s still playing in theaters near me, I’d gladly go again for a third time!

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This epic fight that takes place after Mr. Darcy’s first proposal scene is nothing short of epic. Riley and Lily James have such a scorching chemistry, and they’re now my favorite Lizzie & Darcy. It’ll definitely make it to my top 10 favorite scenes I’d watch over and over again from 2016… and beyond!

So tell me, which film(s) you’ve seen more than once in the theater this year? Feel free to share your favorite scene from that movie, too.

3. Last Wednesday I saw Knight of Cups… I mentioned in this post that I knew going in that the latest Terrence Malick’s film has no script. I’m still curious about it because of the cast.

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Well, suffice to say, if you’ve never been into Malick’s style, I’d say best to avoid this one. It’s basically a 2-hr visual poetry set to classical music. As beautiful the visuals is, lensed by Malick’s regular, triple Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki. But y’know what, his cinematography work here actually made me nauseous! I had to close my eyes several times to keep from hurling. I generally like most of his films, save for Badlands and To The Wonder which I haven’t seen yet. But I’m kind of put off by this one that I don’t think I want to watch ANY film without a script ever again. Heh, screenwriters exist for a reason Mr. Malick. I’m hoping his next film Weightless actually has a script, as it’s really hard to resist THIS ensemble cast!

What are your thoughts about Terrence Malick’s style? Yay or nay?
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4. Per tradition, there are a couple of trailers I want to highlight today. Both are female-driven, though they couldn’t be more different in terms of genres.

Let’s start with Despite the Falling Snow, which I had been anticipating for some time. I had blogged about it when I posted about 5 new-to-me actors I’d like to see more of, as Rebecca Ferguson plays the lead in this one. It also has one of my new fave actors Sam Reid from Belle, woo hoo! There are so few romantic thrillers out there and I LOVE the premise of this. Forbidden romance set in wartime setting, with intrigue and suspense thrown in, I’m SO there. Plus it’s also directed by a woman, UK-based filmmaker Shamim Sarif.

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In Cold War Moscow, a female spy steals secrets from an idealistic politician – and falls in love with him.


Now THIS is a reboot I’m actually looking forward to: GHOSTBUSTERS! This is likely to be one of Summer’s biggest hits. I LOVE the female cast, it just looks like such a hoot. This will be Melissa McCarthy‘s fourth time with Paul Feig, after starring in Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. I’ve only seen the last one which was a blast, and Kate McKinnon is my fave SNL cast member from the current season.

30 years after Ghostbusters took the world by storm, the beloved franchise makes its long-awaited return. Director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today.

Thoughts about either one of these trailers?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is my pal Wendell from Dell on Movies.  Blockbuster season will begin in earnest in March, starting with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice later this month, The Jungle Book in April and Captain America: Civil War + X-Men Apocalypse in May.

Which 2016 blockbusters do you absolutely have to see and which will you skip?


Well, that’s it for the March edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Labor Day Weekend Roundup: a goofy comedy, a road trip doc + a fantasy romance

It’s been quite a nice and mellow three-day weekend for me… the calm before the *storm* as it were, as the later part of September is going to be a pretty busy one for me. Twin Cities Film Fest is just a month away, but we’ll get a preview of the film festivities this coming Friday with the Fundraising Gala. I have a friend from out of the country staying with us the following week and then we’ll be taking a trip to Sedona, AZ and hopefully meet up w/ my pal Cindy C.!

Well, a good part of my weekend is full of script writing… AND dreaming of Deauville — Deauville American Film Festival that is…

Of course THIS is who I’d most like to meet…

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One lucky lady got to meet my French crush, Stanley Weber

Anyhoo, I didn’t go to the cinema all weekend but I must say my home viewing can only be described as eclectic.

Zoolander (2001)

At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

ZoolanderFinally got around to seeing this movie. I’m familiar w/ the premise and it’s become such a pop culture phenomenon of sort that a sequel is in the works. I thought I’d watch it before it comes out next year. Crazy that it’s been 15 years since this came out and I think both Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson still look pretty much the same.

They’re both hilarious in this satire of the fashion modeling industry. There are actually some famous male models, like the outrageously gorgeous Tyson Beckford and Claudia Schiffer. In fact, this movie is worth seeing just for the cameo, esp. David Bowie! I expected it to be goofy good fun and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 

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Long Way Round (2004)

This documentary series follows actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on a motorcycle trip around the world. The two friends will travel through such places as Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Alaska, before finally ending the journey in New York.

LongWayRoundMy hubby was watching this when I went downstairs to our entertainment room and we ended up watching a couple of episodes. I thought it was fascinating AND quite hilarious as the Scottish actor and his buddy prepare to go on this crazy motorcycle journey around the world for three months!

They also interviewed their wives (as well as their parents) and their reaction of this trip. But the funniest bits are all the challenges of all the logistics and training (medical, even self defense) as they’d go into some dangerous territories like Ukraine.

Of course the main draw initially is the fact that Ewan is a big film star, but after a few minutes we forget about that as he’s such a real and down-to-earth guy and this film is as much about Ewan & Charlie’s friendship as it is about the motorbike roadtrip.

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The Age of Adaline (2015)

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A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After many solitary years, she meets a man who complicates the eternal life she has settled into.

I’ve been wanting to see this film for ages. There’s something about this romantic premise that beguilles me. I’m a huge fan of period dramas a la Jane Austen, so more on the old school romance so long as it doesn’t have the name Nicholas Sparks attached to it [shudder]. I have my full review ready so I’ll post that sometime this week.
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I also rewatched BELLE on Labor Day as I’m in the mood of period dramas. I absolutely LOVE this movie. I’ve seen it a dozen times and it gets me every single time… I have SO many favorite scenes from this film, I wish I could find the one where Davinier declared passionately, ‘I love her, I love her with every breath I breathe!‘ in that carriage [swoon] 😛

But I also LOVE this scene between Belle and John… Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid are absolutely perfect together [le sigh]


Well, that’s about it for my weekend. How ’bout you? Seen anything good?

Question of the Week: Which movie(s) are you looking forward to in March?

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Now that award season is officially over… we can all look forward to what else 2015 has in store for us. February is practically dead in terms of new releases, in fact I only saw Jupiter Ascending & Kingsman in the theater. But there are more intriguing stuff coming next month. I have rsvp-ed for The Second Best Marigold Hotel and Cinderella‘s screenings and Ted will be going to Chappie & Run All Night in the next couple of weeks.

I might rent Get Hard and Serena, but I have zero interest in seeing yet another Taken variation that Liam Neeson is doing, Run All Night. I mean it just looks so darn awful from the trailer, oh why’s Ed Harris doing in there?? [face palm] Oh and Sean Penn’s The Gunman is directed by the first Taken‘s director too, and so he apparently wants a piece of the action moolah from that bankable violent thriller. As for Insurgent, well I’ve completely lost interest in that Divergent franchise even though I quite like the first movie. So maybe I’ll rent that on a slow night.

Anyway, you can check out the full March Release schedule here over at IMDb, but here are some of the movies I’m looking forward to seeing:

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals – Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel.

I LOVE the first movie, the ensemble cast is simply splendid. I mean you can’t beat Maggie Smith & Judi Dench, two of my favorite Dames, together again in a movie. This time we’ve got Richard Gere to spice things up 😉

Cinderella

A live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale about a servant step-daughter who wins the heart of a prince.

I grew up w/ Disney Princess movies so naturally I’m drawn to this. Plus I quite like Kenneth Branagh as director so he’s another draw for me to see it!

The Riot Club

Two first-year students at Oxford University join the infamous Riot Club, where reputations can be made or destroyed over the course of a single evening.

All those gorgeous British boys doing VERY bad things. I dunno about you but that intrigues me 😉 Plus I’ve had a crush on Sam Reid ever since BELLE (he’s in the far right in the pic below), and Jeremy Irons’ hunky son Max is in the main cast, too. It’s from the director of An Education, which I like, so hopefully it’ll be good!

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Seymour

Director Ethan Hawke explores the life and lessons of piano teacher Seymour Bernstein.

I heard about this after I saw Predestination and it sounds like a great doc! I love that Hawke is doing a personal project like this, I hope this arrives on Netflix soon.

Chappie

In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

I proceed this one w/ caution even though I LOVE sci-fi that deals w/ man vs robot relationships. I was quite disappointed w/ Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium so hopefully this has more of an engaging and emotional story like District 9.


So which March movie(s) are you most excited about folks?

Special Collaborative Post: Recasting Jane Austen AdaptationPart II – Mansfield Park

Today I bring you the second one of our collaborative Austen Recasting Series with a fellow blogger, and fellow British actor aficionado, Anna from Defiant Success blog. The first one we did was Sense & Sensibility, this time we’re tackling the screen adaptation of Mansfield Park. If you haven’t read the book or seen any film adaptation of Mansfield Park, this Sparknotes article gives a good insight about its characters.

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Anna’s Picks

Sophie Turner as Fanny Price

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Admittedly, this choice is the result of watching too much Game of Thrones. Knowing what her character of Sansa Stark goes through on the show (well, at least up to “The Mountain and the Viper”), Turner seems perfect for the role of Fanny. (Then again, what Fanny goes through is practically idyllic compared to Sansa’s ordeal.)

Ben Whishaw as Edmund Bertram

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I was initially considering Whishaw for Edward Ferrars on the Sense and Sensibility casting post, but I realized he was must better suited as Edmund. A few of his roles have him as kindhearted but naive, which easily sums up Edmund.

Rebecca Hall as Mary Crawford

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It was Hall’s work in Parade’s End that made me think she’d be right for this role. Her character of Sylvia Tietjens uses her looks and charms to conceal her more deceitful nature, much like what Mary does throughout the book.

Dominic Cooper as Henry Crawford

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I must thank Andrew from Encore Entertainment for this suggestion because quite frankly it’s almost impossible to cast the men in an Austen adaptation. (Key word: almost.) Cooper could easily play a man who thinks he’s entitled to any woman he fancies, regardless whether they return the affection or not. (It doesn’t hurt that he had previously played another Austen cad.)

Stephen Dillane as Sir Thomas Bertram

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Dillane has done his fair share of authoritative roles (Game of Thrones comes to mind) and often times they’re not that sympathetic. With Sir Thomas, Dillane could continue that role and have the chance to become kinder towards the end (particularly after a “my God, what have I done?” moment).

Natalie Dormer as Maria Bertram


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Okay, last Game of Thrones actor, I promise. Anyway, Dormer could easily play a woman who’s arrogant and thinks she’s entitled to anything (or anyone) that catches her eye. (It would certainly be satisfying to see her comeuppance towards the end.)

Emily Blunt as Julia Bertram

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Similarly, Blunt could play a character like Maria albeit in a less vain manner. (At least Julia gets a happier ending than Maria.)

Emma Thompson as Lady Bertram

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There’s just something about seeing Thompson in a role that would have her being lazy and indifferent most of the time that sounds so appealing. After all, she’s played so many prim and proper roles throughout her career. It would be nice to see her to do a role like Lady Bertram.

Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Norris

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Likewise, most of the roles I’ve seen Staunton in had her as the kind matronly figure. Suffice to say, it would be a bit of a shock to see her being absolutely vile to the main character.

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Ruth’s Picks

Jessica Brown Findlay as Fanny Price

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I LOVED Frances O’Connor as Fanny in the 1999 adaptation so it’ll be hard to top her in my mind. I think of Fanny as a strong young woman who keeps to herself a lot as a result of her circumstances. Growing up in her wealthy uncle’s estate, she often gets belittled and degraded, especially by her aunt Norris, but she remains dutiful and patient. She’s gentle but does NOT mean she’s a feeble character. In fact, her strong moral compass and sound mind makes her indispensable to the Bertram family. After seeing Findlay as Lady Sibyl in Downton Abbey (and the unfortunately dreadful Winter’s Tale), I think she’d make a suitable Fanny. She’s effortlessly likable and sweet, but she’s also steadfast in her will, as evident in her refusing Henry Crawford no matter how hard he tries.

Sam Reid as Edmund Bertram

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After seeing the Belle movie twice the last couple of months, I’ve been quite taken with the 27-year-old Aussie-native. In fact, as I watched his character John Davinier in Belle, I knew immediately he’d make a fine Edmund. In the book, Edmund desires to be a clergyman and Davinier was the son of a vicar. Sam Reid is classically handsome but he has a kindness about him, an earnest demeanor that’s perfect for this character. Edmund is Fanny’s only true friend in Mansfield Park, and it’s easy to see why Fanny would fall for him.

Lara Pulver as Mary Crawford

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I LOVE Lara Pulver in BBC Sherlock and Robin Hood. I think she’s absolutely stunning and is the kind of girl that can make any man fall for her. Mary is charming and bewitching, as she practically steals Edmund’s heart. There’s a certain seductive quality about her as well that Lara would be perfect for.

Tom Hardy as Henry Crawford

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Henry is as equally charming as his sister Mary. He’s what you’d describe as a bad boy, perhaps even more so than Willoughby is in Sense & Sensibility. Tom Hardy simply oozes charisma and sex appeal, plus he has that playful quality that would make him quite an irresistible scoundrel. I think Hardy can display a certain sensitivity for the role for when Henry falls for Fanny and he ardently pursues her.

Iain Glen as Sir Thomas Bertram

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I’ve always liked Iain Glen since he played the villain in the first Lara Croft movie. Yes he even out-shined pre-Bond Daniel Craig in that one. Later on he popped up in the later season of BBC Spooks and now he’s in Game of Thrones. There’s a certain gravitas that commands respect which makes him suitable to play a wealthy landowner who’s tough on his children. His authoritarian style drives away his eldest son Tom, and he’s quite harsh to Fanny when she refuses to do what he says. But in the end he realizes the error of his ways and I think Iain can also display vulnerability when the scenes call for it.

Gemma Arterton as Maria Bertram

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Maria is described as vain and pretentious, and she’s a bit of a bully to Fanny. She’s obviously materialistic as she only marries Rushworth for his money. I could see Gemma play this role. She may look like a sweet English rose but there’s an icy quality about her that could work well for the role.

Rose Byrne as Julia Bertram

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Julia is not as mean nor cocky as Maria and deep down she resents her sister for being so over-indulgent. Seems that Rose has been in a lot of American comedies lately, I’m curious to see her in a period drama like this one.

Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Bertram

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I always see Helena being so feisty all the time, I’d like to see her play a rather lethargic character. Lady Bertram is described as neurotic as she’s dependent on her pills and all she does is lounge around in the house doing absolutely nothing. There’s something childlike about this character that I think Helena can pull off with aplomb.

Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Norris

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Having played Mrs. Benett in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, I somehow think it’d be interesting to see her play a mean-spirited character here. I absolutely loathe Mrs. Norris, especially her treatment to Fanny, always reminding her of her *place* in the family in the cruelest way. Blethyn often plays comedic character and sometimes comedic performers often make convincing villains.


Previous Jane Austen Recasting Post:

Recasting_SandS


Well, those are our picks for the main characters Mansfield Park. Let us know your thoughts and feel free to offer your own picks in the comments!

FlixChatter Review: BELLE (2013)

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As a big fan of period dramas, I’ve been looking forward to this film since last November when I first heard about it. Well, seven months later I finally got to see it and it’s certainly worth the wait.

The film opens with a Royal Navy Admiral (Matthew Goode) picking up a young mixed-race girl from a ship and brought her to live with his aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), where she’s raised alongside her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon). Unlike the Austen/Brontës adaptations, Belle is based on a true story. In fact, filmmaker Amma Assante was inspired by an 18th century painting of the real life miss Belle. It’s also the first time I saw a period drama starring a mixed race woman, an illegitimate child no less, which no doubt made for a tricky predicament growing up in Georgian era. Lord Mansfield tried to shelter her from the horror of slavery, but not from the dismal reality of racism.

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How may I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low in rank to dine with my family?

The question above that Belle posed to Lord Mansfield (whom she called ‘papa’) sums up her situation perfectly. Though Belle is brought up in such a privileged home, she’s constantly reminded of her place in the world, which is really no place for anyone to belong to. The color of her skin also prevents her from fully participating in society traditions and especially the issue of finding a suitable husband. The fact that Belle later becomes a woman of means after she inherited her father’s considerable fortune only made it trickier. It’s as if she’s a ‘free slave who begs for a master,’ Belle said to her confidante, a dashing and idealistic son of a vicar, John Davinier (Sam Reid).

Many people are likely comparing this film to 12 Years of Slave, but I think this this film is more akin to the excellent-yet-underrated Amazing Grace, which focused on British politician William Wilberforce who endeavored to end the British transatlantic slave trade in the late 1700s. As in Amazing Grace, there’s no gory brutality of slavery being shown, but it doesn’t mean we didn’t feel the barbaric reality of such practice. Yet unlike those two films (and most films of its kind), it’s intriguing to see the story of racial inequality from a woman’s point of view. The fact that we’ve got a British female director (Amma Assante) at the helm and a female screenwriter penning the script (Misan Sagay) certainly gave the film a unique perspective.

Assante’s astute direction offers a nice balance between the moral drama and the love story, as we become more and more invested in the characters, most especially Belle. I love how Assante re-enacted the making of the painting I mentioned above, it’s one of the many highlights of the film for me. There are also a few humorous moments to break the tension of the heavy subject matter. The cinematography and art direction are beautiful, the costumes are as gorgeous as the cast, but most importantly, it’s not style over substance. The dialog feels natural and the script is laden with lots of quotable remarks that really drive the sentiments home.

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As for the performances, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Belle is the heart and soul of this film. I was quite taken by the English actress’ nuanced and emotional performance right from the start. This is hopefully her first of many leading roles as she is not only beautiful, but has the screen charisma to match. She’s able to convey a deep sense of hurt, but is just as convincing when she’s fiercely-defiant. The ensemble cast is chock full of the best of British thespians, starting with Wilkinson and Watson, as well as Penelope Wilson and Miranda Richardson delivering memorable supporting roles. Aussie-born British actor Sam Reid has everything you’d want in a period drama hero: dashing, gentle, kind, and with strong conviction. His Davinier is almost too good to be true, plus his scorching chemistry with Mbatha-Raw made for some breathless moments. The weak link here to me is Tom Felton who once again plays a villain of sort, all contemptuous sneer as the racist would-be suitor to Belle’s cousin Elizabeth. He’s practically playing a variation of Harry Potter‘s Draco Malfoy here.

Though the finale is quite predictable, it still packs quite an emotional punch. Now, I don’t know how historically Belle had influenced the abolition of slavery in England, but it can be presumed that she had a hand in shaping the decision of Lord Mansfield as Lord Chief Justice in his ruling over the Zong Massacre case. It’s the case where the slaves were deemed more worthy dead than alive, a reality that could very well happened to Dido herself had it not been for the ‘grace of God,’ as Davinier put it. Even with the creative license taken, the essence of Belle’s story seems intact.

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Final Thoughts: I knew this film would be good, but I absolutely loved this film and one I’d definitely add to my Blu-ray collection. I always find the social class intricacies in period dramas deeply intriguing, but Belle adds more layers to that with the race and slavery issue, whilst keeping a love story at the core. I really think that even those who aren’t fond of this genre would find this moving and inspiring. An impressive sophomore effort from miss Assante, I sure hope continues to make more films in the future!


Have you seen Belle? I’d love to hear what you think.