JANUARY Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

Hello February! We’re already done with the first month of 2021?! Where did the time go? Well, it’s my birthday month… but February is always a bittersweet time for me.

I actually didn’t watch that many movies last month, though somehow I rewatched more old favorites, most notably the Lord of The Rings trilogy. My hubby and I binged on the LOTR movies over a weekend and they’re still so immensely watchable!

I did watch one in the theaters as one of my good friends I haven’t seen in a while wanted to see a movie after happy hour. We picked a good one that ends up being the movie of the month [see below].

In any case, here’s what I watched in January:

NEW-TO-ME MOVIES

Sound of Metal

My friend Vitali reviewed Sound of Metal last October as part of Twin Cities Film Fest. I wish I had seen this one on the big screen. It’s such a beautiful and moving story of a musician dealing with sudden deafness, boasted by a phenomenal performance by the talented Riz Ahmed. I sure hope he’d get some recognition for his performance here.

The Dig

Read my full review

The Mauritanian

Stay tuned for my review in mid February –
the film is to be released on Feb 19

Malcolm and Marie

Stay tuned for my review next week!

Promising Young Woman

Hope to write my review later this week, so stay tuned!


Series:

The Expanse – Season 5

I found season 5 to be a bit slower and less intriguing overall compared to previous seasons, but the highlight is Naomi’s reunion with her former lover-turned-space-terrorist Marco Inaros and her long lost son, Filip.


Call My Agent – Season 4

This French comedy originally titled Dix Pour Cent! has become one of my favorite series of all time! Since I stumbled upon  a few years ago, I’ve become obsessed with it. Every single episode is amazingly-written and filled with hysterically-funny scenarios the agents at ASK agency constantly get into. The Parisian scenery and famous French guest stars made this even more watchable! This season they’ve got Charlotte Gainsbourg in a hilarious episode. I haven’t gotten to the Sigourney Weaver episode, I think this is the first time they have an American actor as guest on the show.

I have to do a dedicated a post for this series, but if you haven’t seen this yet, I can’t recommend this enough!

Wanda Vision Season 1

There are only 4 episodes so far so I’ll wait until all the end of the season to do my write-up. I’m enjoying it so far. The 50s sitcom style is amusing, funny and fabulous, but it’s the genius of the Marvel team under Kevin Feige that the show is deliberately written to have a strong connection with the MCU. Plenty of supporting characters from previous MCU movies like Thor, Ant-Man, etc. appear on this show, and the SWORD agency gets fans all pumped up that THIS could be the key in bringing the X-Men franchise that Disney now owned to be part of the MCU.

In any case, so who is behind the whole Truman Show-like episodes? I can’t wait to find out more!!



SPOILER ALERT!

Obviously don’t watch this video if you’re not caught up yet with the series as there are spoilers galore on episode 4.


Rewatches:

The Sound of Music

The American President

Call My Agent season 2

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The LOTR trilogy



MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

Promising Young Woman

It took me a long time to finally watch this just last weekend, but it’s so worth the wait! I’m glad I saw this on the big screen with a good friend of mine… as a woman, I think it’s the kind of movie best seen with a girlfriend. 

Writer/director Emerald Fennell‘s feature film debut has been buzz-worthy for good reasons, featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by Carey Mulligan. I haven’t had a chance to review this yet but check out my friend Rodney’s excellent review that perfectly sums up how I feel about this astounding film.


Well, what did you watch in January and what’s YOUR fave movie you saw last month?

FlixChatter Review: THE DIG (2021)

When I first saw the trailer for The Dig, I was immediately intrigued as I love historical drama, even if it I’m not familiar with the Sutton Hoo excavation of 1939 that shed light into the early Anglo-Saxon period. The film begins with archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes, sporting a Suffolk accent) visits the home of Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan), who has been curious about what’s underneath eighteen ancient mounds on her Sutton Hoo estate. Though Brown is considered an amateur archeologist, he’s been working as a paid excavation employee for a provincial museum and has experience uncovering Roman remains.

It’s not clear how long the process took for Basil to discover that something really important has been buried under the ancient mounds for centuries, but it doesn’t seem to have taken him a long time. It’s remarkable given he’s only got two young guys helping him out. The discovery reminds me a bit of when archeologists found the skeletons of Richard III in 2012 under a Leicester parking lot of all places! Now I thought they’d make a film of that by now. Well, the the Plantagenet king’s reign in the late 1400s seems relatively modern compared to the 7th-century Anglo-Saxon ship burial, a period that lacks historical documentation.

Now, the story of excavation itself is pretty simple and perhaps would’ve been better served as a documentary. Filmmaker Simon Stone and screenwriter Moira Buffini based the film out of John Preston’s 2007 novel of the same name and focused on the characters affected by the dig, as much as the excavation project itself. If you’re expecting plenty of action scenes a la Indiana Jones however, well you won’t find much here. In fact, the film moves at an un-hurried yet assured pace.

Like many British period dramas, this film also deals with social class system as well as romance, though handled in a pretty subtle way here. Even though Brown was the one who made the discovery, the professional archaeologists promptly take over the project and he was practically cast aside. He almost quit entirely if it wasn’t for Edith’s young son Robert (Archie Barnes). Interestingly, the two main characters were also seemingly taken over by the new group of characters working on the dig: Charles Phillips (Ken Stott), husband + wife archeological team Stuart (Ben Chaplin) + Peggy (Lily James) and Edith’s cousin Rory (Johnny Flynn). I have to say it was quite distracting at first seeing Chaplin and James as a married couple, given they played father/daughter in Cinderella.

There’s not one but two tentative romance the film tread on. Though there are interesting societal themes being presented here, specifically in the relationship between Stuart and Peggy, it’s all a bit undercooked. I feel like the filmmakers aren’t as invested in them as they are in Edith and Basil’s story. As Edith’s health quickly deteriorates, I can’t help but wishing she’d get a last chance at happiness after being a widow for so long. But ultimately, it’s the blooming friendship and affecting mother-son relationship that brings a sense of joy and hope. Both Fiennes and Mulligan are two of the finest actors working today and they convincingly embody the characters they’re playing. It’s a restrained but effective performance depicting the slow-burn nature of their relationship. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the usually buttoned-up Fiennes so muddy and disheveled, but he’s one of those actors who can disappear into any roles. Young newcomer Archie Barnes is wonderful to watch and provides some of the most emotional scenes of the film.

One thing I noticed about the film’s editor deliberately separates the dialog from the scenes of actors conversing with one another. At first it seemed like an odd technique but it actually adds unexpected dynamic to an otherwise ordinary, even tedious scenes. The filmmaker’s authentic depiction the Suffolk climate and the damp pastoral landscape of the excavation pretty well. It’s as if you can feel the mud, dirt and even smell the sodden grass, which really transport you to that time. The expansive cinematography by Mike Eley showcases the English pastoral countryside beautifully.

Now, one criticism I have is that despite the dig being regarded as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time, the film lacks a real genuine suspense nor even excitement overall. There’s also not a strong payoff in the end, other than the text explaining what’s become of the discovery and the people involved. Now, I personally enjoy gentle, slow-paced period pieces, those that some might call ‘painfully polite’ dramas, but I think some might find this movie a bit dull. For those who have the patience, I think there are quite a few gems to appreciate here, and the fascinating historical significance also compels me to read more about Sutton Hoo excavation.

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