Thursday Movie Picks: Romance Tropes Television Edition – Love Triangles

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Romance Tropes Television Edition: Love Triangles

I have to say I’m not really a fan of love triangle in movies. I feel like it’s just so clichéd and often a result of lazy writing. I mean, there are SO many of them that it’s hard to find one that actually has a reason to exist. When I was writing my romantic drama Hearts Want, I made sure to avoid anything resembling this trope. Looking at some lists of TV love triangles… popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, etc. all feature love triangles. Good thing I avoided watching all those shows!!

In any case, here are my picks:

BEHIND HER EYES

Ok, I have to admit that one of the reasons I’m participating this week is just so I can post about this crazy, twisty psychological thriller that just dropped on Netflix earlier this month. The British miniseries is based on a 2017 novel of the same name by Sarah Pinborough and dayum, it’s really of the most bonkers thing I’ve seen in a long time! Apparently when the book first published, the hashtag #WTFthatending was trending on Twitter, and well, there’s a good reason for it!

The love triangle is between Louise (Simona Brown) and her psychiatrist boss David (Tom Bateman) AND his wife Adele (Eve Hewson). After meeting David at a bar, they immediately had a sexual relationship… and days later she bumps into Adele (literally) on the streets. I find some of the episodes dragging a bit, I think tightening it to a 4 instead of 6 episodes might make it more efficient.

But man, nothing could prepare me for the finale! There’s another important character in the series called Robert (Robert Aramayo) who’s Adele friends shown in the flashback scenes. I feel like this show is best experienced if you know as little as possible about the story. Borrowing Bette Davis in All About Eve... “fasten your seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”


BEVERLY HILLS, 90210

I was in high school when this show hit its peak of popularity. I was still living in Jakarta at the time and there wasn’t many options to watch on TV. So naturally I watched whatever American shows that were available (MacGyver, A-Team, Melrose Place, etc). I often thought everyone in the US lived like these group of friends in Beverly Hills, ahahaha. It’s quite ironic that I ended up in Minnesota, given Brenda and Brandon Walsh moved from MN to CA 😀

In any case, so the love triangle between Brenda/Dylan/Kelly were all the rage back then. If Twitter were around back then, I bet there’d be polls whether you’d be Team Brenda or Team Kelly. Looking at pics of Luke Perry is kinda sad though, I still can’t believe he’s already gone 😦

In any case, I don’t give a flying f*** which girl I want Dylan to pick, as again I find the whole love-triangle thing SO corny!


FRIENDS

I didn’t realize how many love triangles there were in Friends, but apparently there are a bunch of them that this article actually went so far as ranking them! 😀

Well I’m just going to list two I remember on the top of my head…

Rachel/Joey/Ross


Poor Ross walked in on Rachel + Joey kissing… I mean we all know how long the geeky paleontologist has been in love w/ Rachel for ages!!

 

Monica/Chandler/Richard

I gotta admit I find the whole Monica/Richard thing a bit awkward. And not only because of the over-two-decade age difference between Courtney Cox and Tom Selleck, I just don’t feel the chemistry. But then again, I find the latter years of Friends not as engaging as the earlier ones.


So which are YOUR favorite love triangles on TV?

New Netflix Movies/Miniseries To Watch in February – Malcolm and Marie | I Care A lot | Red Dot | The Last Paradiso | Layla Majnun | Behind Her Eyes

There are SO many things to watch on Netflix that I always struggle to figure just WHAT to watch. Now, this is not a comprehensive list of ALL that’s coming to Netflix which includes older movies that’s been released before, i.e. The Bank Job, Inception, The Patriot, War Dogs, Captain Fantastic, etc. but these are NEW stuff from the streaming service, part of the 70 new original content Netflix promised to release in 2021. There’s an extra dose of romantic-themed content released in February because of Valentine’s Day, but there’s a comedy + thriller thrown in.

In any case, so here are 5 new movies + 1 limited series coming to Netflix this month:

Malcolm & Marie

Releases February 5 – read my review

A director and his girlfriend’s relationship is tested after they return home from his movie premiere and await critics’ responses.

One of the best things about TENET is John David Washington and I like Zendaya based on the two things I saw her in, The Greatest Showman and Spider-Man Far From Home. I haven’t seen her in Euphoria yet, which is created by the director of this film, Sam Levinson (who happens to be the son of Barry Levinson who won an Oscar directing Rain Man).

Some of you might have seen this by now as it was released last Friday. Let me know what you think if you have seen it!


The Last Paradiso (L’ultimo paradiso)

Releases February 5, 2021

In 1950s Italy, a passionate free spirit dreams of love, justice and a better life till a forbidden affair threatens everything. Based on real events.

Of course seeing the title reminds me right away of Cinema Paradiso, one of my all-time favorite non-English language films. This one is also a love story, a forbidden affair no less, that’s based on a true story. I recognized the lead actor Riccardo Scamarcio from John Wick 2, he’s got such an intense stare that’s hard to forget. I’m down to be swept away to the South Italy’s countryside for a couple of hours. Love, passion, rebellion… hopefully would make a memorable drama.


Red Dot

Releases February 11, 2021

When Nadja becomes pregnant, they make an attempt to rekindle their relationship by traveling to the north of Sweden for a hiking trip but soon their romantic trip turns into a nightmare.

I’ve enjoyed quite a few Nordic thrillers, such as The Hunt, Headhunters, though I should watch more. Scandinavian filmmakers sure know how to make effective noirs. This one comes from Swedish filmmaker Alain Darborg, and it has that ominous, atmospheric vibe to it.


Layla Majnun

Releases February 11, 2021

While in Azerbaijan, Layla, an Indonesian scholar, falls for Samir, an admirer of her work — but her arranged marriage stands in the way.

I rarely blog about Indonesian movies (despite the fact that my late dad used to work in the Indo film industry), but this one caught my eye. I’m not familiar w/ any of the cast but the setting in Azerbaijan and the familiar-yet-still-enticing forbidden love story sounds like a perfect one to watch around V-day.

I Care A Lot

Releases February 19, 2021

A shady legal guardian lands in hot water when she tries to bilk a woman who has ties to a powerful gangster.

I’m intrigued just reading the description and the cast: Rosamund Pike, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage.I love Rosamund Pike and it’s nice to see her in a dark comedy, playing a shady character no less. This film premiered at TIFF and currently has a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating, praising Pike’s a wicked performance. Can’t wait!


Behind Her Eyes (miniseries)

Releases February 17, 2021

A single mom becomes entangled in a twisted mind game when she begins an affair with her psychiatrist boss while bonding with his mysterious wife.

Want a bit of twist with your Valentine romance? How about a psycho-sexual thriller with a good looking UK cast? I’m a huge fan of Tom Bateman who’s the epitome of tall, dark & handsome and also super talented. I’ve just seen Eve Hewson in Tesla and really like her, looking forward to seeing the love triangle between these two and Simona Brown.

The miniseries is produced by Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind the prestigious drama The Crown.


What do you think of these two movies?

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: 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?