What I’ve Been Watching During Self-Quarantine

Hello everyone! Happy Friday! Hope all of you are coping as well as can be expected during this strange and difficult time. My hubby and I have been working from home this past week until the end of the month, who knows it could be longer. Despite all this, I’m counting my blessings and keeping my spirits high as we ride out this Coronavirus pandemic!

Well, thank goodness we live in a world where we have streaming services available! These in-home entertainment helps during a time where social distancing has become the new normal. We have been watching a lot more shows/movies since we have been cooped up at home. I saw on TV Guide that some streaming services even extended their FREE TRIAL to 30 days!

So last weekend I binged on …

BEECHAM HOUSE

I’ve been a huge fan of Tom Bateman and had been waiting for quite some time for this UK show to finally make it to the US! It’s not available on broadcast, but I had joined PBS Passport member in order to watch Sanditon a month ago, so I’m thrilled this one’s finally available to watch in early March!

A look at the lives of residents living in a Delhi mansion during the cusp of 19th century.

Check out the trailer…

Set in the 1795, amidst the clashing forces of British and French militaries and the decline of the centuries-old Mughal Empire. It’s billed as Downton Abbey India, and it’s also got Lesley Nicol who played Downton’s longtime cook Mrs. Patmore, this time she’s playing one of the masters of the house as the protagonist John Beecham’s mother. Bateman is perfect as John, the conflicted former soldier who’s left the ruthless East India Company and made a living as an art trader.

I’m a big fan of filmmaker Gurinder Chadha as well, the creator of the show. I love that Beecham House is partly filmed in the UK and India, the sets in the latter is especially sumptuous, all the costumes, set pieces, actors, etc. all lend to authenticity of the show. Not to mention the opulent house itself with its magnificent details. I love the diverse cast, too! I’ve been crushing on Tom Bateman for some time (he’s terrific in Vanity Fair) and here, his charismatic yet mysterious presence has proven himself ready to be a major leading man.

Glad to see Leo Suter once again after seeing him in Sanditon… thankfully he’s got more screen presence on this show as I had complained how wasted his talents was there. He’s proven to be a versatile actor as his character is quite different from Sanditon, but I definitely fancy him more as a bit of a rascal! The Indian actors are equally fascinating. Pallavi Sharda and Shriya Pilgaonkar are both stunning as two headstrong ladies who refuse to be a shrinking violet (I say that as the English woman named Violet here is a rather silly woman). I love Viveik Kalra in Blinded By The Light, here he’s playing the house caretaker who’s loyal to John Beecham. I hope to see more of him in future projects!

I might dedicate a blog post for this show, but for now, let’s just say it’s absolutely binge-worthy!


The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science

If you like documentaries, here’s one you should check out. It’s particularly intriguing to me because I live just an hour away from Rochester where the Mayo clinic is, but given their impact all over the world, it’s worth learning about just how they got started. It’s truly inspiring stuff!


Yesterday I wanted to see something light and funny, so we watched The Secret Life of Pets 2 on Netflix. It wasn’t as funny as the original, but still entertaining for the most part. My favorite bit is the one with the farm shepherd dog Rooster voiced by Harrison Ford. He’s so perfect for the part, a grumpy, adventurous veteran who’s teaching the city dog Max on how to overcome fear.


Thanks to that TV Guide link, I can finally watch this show on SundanceNow!

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

Diana Bishop, historian and witch, accesses Ashmole 782 and knows she must solve its mysteries. She is offered help by the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, but he’s a vampire and witches should never trust vampires.

 

It’s been around since 2018 and I remember really wanting to watch it when I saw the trailer… I mean hello, Matthew Goode!! 😍He sure makes one heck of a sexy vampire, oh la la! Interesting that the series about vampires and witches are set in the field of academia, Oxford University to be exact, and it’s actually filmed on location in various parts of the world… Oxfordshire, Scotland, and Venice. It’s definitely a great escapism for the time being since we cannot be physically traveling to any of those countries until this outbreak dies down.

I quite like Aussie actress Teresa Palmer as well, interestingly enough the first time I saw her in was in Warm Bodies, a zombie comedy. She must have a thing for movies about the undead. She looks so much like Kristen Stewart too, and she’s on that massively popular vampire movies. Apparently this one is also based on a novel, The All Souls Trilogy, by a woman writer, Deborah Harkness. I wonder why they didn’t just keep that title, , rather than what the have now that’s so long and clunky.

I’ve seen four episodes so far as of today, and I like it more and more. Story-wise, there’s enough going for it to keep me watching… there’s the enigma and mystery surrounding the Congregation which is comprised of representations of demons, vampires and witches (though the person who takes care of the location is a human, ha!)… and these species live under some strict rules.

The acting is a bit uneven, but the two leads Goode and Palmer are great and they have a good chemistry. An important factor given the core of the story is a forbidden romance, a bit like Romeo + Juliet but with warring species, not just families. I do have some issues with directing choices and the use of modern songs that kind of cheapen the show a bit, it just doesn’t jibe with the elegance of the setting. Oh, and what’s with these vampires not being affected by sunlight or even Crucifixes, and they go about like humans in their daily activity… eating, drinking, playing with their cellphones, etc. Seems all too convenient to me since they can live for hundreds of years!

In any case, I have four more to go in season 1, and I just learned that season 2 has been greenlit but according to this article, they have wrapped filming. But given some of the filming is in Italy, there might be a major delay if they have to do some more shooting done over there given the Covid-19 situation.


So that’s just a sampling of what I’ve been watching the past week and a half… 

How about you? What have YOU been watching during self quarantine?

 

FlixChatter Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

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It’s been ten years since Mel Gibson‘s last directed a film; the violent adventure Apocalypto was a mild success for the controversial actor and director. Many thought that film would be a comeback for Gibson, but then his personal life took another controversial hit and he’s been out of the limelight for a few years. He’s now back with another violent film that’s based on a real life WW2 American Army named Desmond Doss, who became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Doss (Andrew Garfield) who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, learned the true impact of violence at a young age. During a scuffle with his older brother, Doss almost killed his sibling and after that he sworn not to hurt or kill another human beings. His alcoholic father Tom (Hugo Weaving), who happens to be a war veteran himself, tends to physically abuse his mom Bertha (Rachel Griffiths), also made him despise violence. During a visit to a local clinic, Doss’ eye catches Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), a nurse who takes a shine to his humble-but-determined ways, with the pair eventually getting engaged to be married.

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However, before they’re eloped, Doss enlists in the army, uncomfortable with the idea of staying behind while others fight for their country. When he arrives for basic training, Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist, proclaims his interest in being a combat medic, refusing to take part in gun training. Frustrating superiors Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Glover (Sam Worthington), Doss’ faith is put to the test through hazing and menial labor, making an enemy out of Smitty (Luke Bracey). When the unit is finally shipped over to Japan to take Okinawa, the ferocious battle of Hacksaw Ridge presents Doss with a supreme challenge of survival and duty.

Gibson, who I believe is an excellent director, didn’t really do anything new when it comes to storytelling. We get the usual romance montage between Doss and Dorothy, Doss being resented by his peers when he refused to pick up a weapon. But when the battle starts, here’s where Gibson shine as a director. Since he had appeared in several action films, Gibson knows how to staged some of the most intense and bloodiest war battle sequences ever put on film.

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Even though his Southern accent were inconsistent, Garfield’s performance is very good here. He’s a man of faith and really stick to his principles. I was quite surprised by the effective performances by Vaughn, Worthington, Bracey and Palmer. Weaving’s drunken father character is a bit more clichéd, but it’s nice seeing ‘Agent Smith’ playing something other than a bad guy.

It may not be in the same class as other great WW2 pictures like The Thin Red Line or Saving Private Ryan, but I was glad Gibson decided to tell this story. I’ve never heard of Desmond Doss before and after seeing this film, I have nothing but respect for late war veteran.

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Have you seen Hacksaw Ridge? Well, what did you think?

Weekend Viewing Roundup & Warm Bodies Review

It’s a pretty uneventful weekend for me movie-wise, but I got to meet up my old college buddy I haven’t seen in years! So it was a lovely weekend in that regard though she’s as far away from being a cinephile as it gets. The last movie she saw at the theater was Nacho Libre, ahahaha.

TheFamilyPosterWell, I didn’t get to the theater nor any screenings this past week. I’m definitely NOT missing out on The Getaway based on Terrence’s review, ahah, it looks so darn awful from the trailer alone. I am looking forward to screenings in the next two weeks though, I’ve rsvp-ed for Don Jon, Gravity, and Runner, Runner. Oh and also the mafia comedy The Family w/ Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones. Trailer looks meh but I’m hoping it’ll still be good with a cast of THIS caliber.

So this weekend I only watched Warm Bodies and rewatched one of my fave Bond films, The Living Daylights. I guess I was inspired by Zoë’s excellent review recently where she praised Dalton’s take as Bond (atta girl!) So yeah, TLD AND Dalton as 007 is still as awesome as the first time I saw it.

Here’s my review from this weekend:

WarmBodiesPoster

I’ve been curious about this zombie comedy for quite some time as lots of people seem to love it. Now, I’m not a fan of the popular Zombie sub-genre, I think I’ve only like one zombie movie and that is Shaun of the Dead (I love 28 Days Later too, but that one is SO much more than just a zombie movie).

As with most zombie movies, some sort of plague has come over the world which render most humans to become walking corpses. This movie still pretty much subscribe to what we typically assume about zombies: they walk slowly, they eat brains and of course they look like decayed corpses, though the zombies in this movie seem to look far less gory, and sometimes they’re pretty agile too. One twist in this story, which was based on a novel by Isaac Marion, there are certain levels of being undead. There are Zombies and there are Boneys, which are zombies who’ve lost all traces of their humanity and flesh, so basically they’re skeletal zombies, preying on anything with a heartbeat.

Being that it’s a zombie romance, of course it’s entirely predictable that the protagonist R (as he no longer remembers his real name), falls for a human girl and saves her from a horde of fellow zombies. The first meeting of R & Julie amidst a zombie attack isn’t exactly a meet-cute, but it’s certainly amusing. After having eaten up her boyfriend, R ends up saving Julie (Palmer) and takes her to his house, which was a discarded plane. Because zombies talk like lobotomized Tarzan, the VO narration helps us get into R’s head. He a pretty astute thinker for being a zombie, ahah. Of course this being a fantasy horror flick, absurdity is to be expected, but even so I feel that Julie is way too soon to be so comfortable with R. I guess I could see it with vampires as they have this cool, sexy vibe about ’em, but flesh-eating zombies are just gross. In any case, R & Julie got on pretty quickly. The scenes of them playing together, listening to records, etc. reminds me of 80s/90s rom-coms. The soundtrack is a hoot, I grew up listening to songs by John Waite (Missing You), Guns N’ Roses (Patience), Bruce Springsteen (Hungry Heart), etc. which gives this movie a retro feel of sort.

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So what happens next is also predictable. The warm relationship he has with Julie somehow revives his humanity and there’s a scene where his heart actually starts beating once more. It’s an interesting twist on how our heart ‘skip a beat’ when we’re in love, ahah. Not only is this change affects R, but this odd transformation ends up spreading to the undead population like a virus. None of this is explained very well in the movie, just like we never really know how they got infected in the first place. Now, some critics call this a Romeo & Juliet story with zombie. Heh, apart from the balcony scene, and that ‘R’ might stand for Romeo with his Julie(t), it’s not exactly an apt comparison.

Thankfully, some of the inconsistencies and clunky dialog didn’t derail the movie. Both Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer (a Brit & Aussie sporting believable American accent) are more than serviceable. In fact, Hoult is a bit better — and ironically more soulful — here than in the abominable Jack & The Giant Slayer. Palmer’s face & lithe figure at times reminds me of Kristen Stewart, but she’s a hundred times more expressive! John Malkovich is entirely wasted here though, he probably could do this role in his sleep, ahah.

I enjoyed this enough but I’m quite puzzled by the high rating (81% Rotten Tomato score?) as overall it’s just ok, but not great. It’s not in the same league as Jonathan Levine‘s previous film 50/50, which I’d think is far more challenging project given the difficult subject matter. I do appreciate the fact that this one is reinvention of a popular horror genre, but I don’t think it’s all that groundbreaking. In terms of a novelty twist in a classic genre, I actually like the vampire thriller Daybreakers a lot more than this one. This one does have some fun moments though, that scene where R told Julie to walk like a zombie so she doesn’t get eaten is hilarious! It’s definitely better than Twilight (but what movie isn’t?) and the humorous tone makes it all the more watchable.

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Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. What did YOU watch this weekend?

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: Wish You Were Here

I first caught the still photo from this film at the I Luv Cinema site and it reminded me of a market setting of my homeland Indonesia. Since this is an Australian production, it’s very much possible. Turns out the film is set in Cambodia.

Check out the trailer:


Here’s the plot:

Four friends lose themselves in a carefree South-East Asian holiday. Only three come back. Dave and Alice return home to their young family desperate for answers about Jeremy’s mysterious disappearance. When Alice’s sister Steph returns not long after, a nasty secret is revealed about the night her boyfriend went missing. But it is only the first of many. Who amongst them knows what happened on that fateful night when they were dancing under a full moon in Cambodia?

I must say the trailer looks pretty gripping and I like the fact that they don’t give too much away. Mysterious trailers are really the way to go, especially in a thriller like this. It kind of reminds me of Brokedown Palace a bit that was set in Thailand, which also dealt with drug smuggling. But of course this one might have its own twist.

The only actor I’m familiar with here is Joel Edgerton and I actually have not seen anything he’s in, apart from the Animal Kingdom and Warrior trailer. I’m hoping to see both of those soon, and the 37-year-old Aussie looks pretty compelling in both. I know this is probably a silly comparison but he strikes me as a cross between Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, not so much in looks but in the way he acts. He’s got a quiet grace about him, that still intensity, that I find appealing. I’m looking forward to seeing him as Tom Buchanan in the adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby due out next year.

Anyway, I probably won’t catch this on the big screen as small indies like this might not even make it to my neck of the woods, but definitely a rental.


What do you think folks? Any interest in this one?