February 2020 Quickie Reviews

februaRY 2020 BREAKDOWN
  •  24 films/series total
  • 7 re-watches
  • 6 TV series
  • 5 new classic films
  • 5 foreign films/series
  • 1 new release

Biggest DisappointmentMoonstruck

I Wake Up Screaming
Photo Source: IMDb

Favorite DiscoveryI Wake Up Screaming

Downton Abbey (2019) – As much as I love this series and enjoyed seeing the movie in the theater recently, I do think that experience set the bar really high for a re-watch on TV which didn’t quite live up to the first time. Still, one can never go wrong in watching any part of this long-running series.

The Spy (2019) – Sacha Baron Cohen as I’ve never seen him before. He really blew me out of the water as one of Israel’s most famous heroes, spy Eli Cohen. I remember our tour guide in Israel mentioning this man to us and how important his work was to the national security of Israel back in the 60’s. This Netflix series also has very interesting cinematography and explores the morality and ethical dilemmas of spy craft.

The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) – I didn’t expect to get so invested in a movie where the main character is a dog. But the human story line wrung my emotions out and seeing it all through the eyes of an animal narrator gave everything a new twist.

Home Town Season 4 – With the absence of Chip and Jo on HGTV, I went looking for something to fill the gap. I found it in this home reno show led by couple Ben and Erin and set in the small town of Laurel, Mississippi. Ben and Erin are adorable together and their skills/talents really complement each other and their work. I love how passionate they are about revitalizing their small town.

Death at a Funeral (2007) – My sister introduced me to this dark British comedy years ago and it still makes me laugh. It is well-cast with familiar faces. And the pacing and comedic timing is perfection.

Sanditon (2019) – I really wanted to love this series based on an unfinished Jane Austen work. Instead, it was just okay. It substitutes the social satire and wit of Austen’s more famous novels in favor of sneers and snarks. The characters weren’t even all that likable and the moral fabric of most of them is decidedly darker than Austen usually tackled.

Bonfire of Destiny (2019) – From the first intensely dramatic episode, I was hooked on this French Netflix drama based on an actual historical event. It follows the lives of three women in the aftermath of the fire and is full of suspense.

Moonstruck (1987) – This is the second time Cher’s acting skills have pleasantly surprised me. Despite that, I don’t understand all the rave reviews this film gets. Nicholas Cage character was a complete turn-off for me which made it impossible for me to believe the romance between him and Cher.

Anzac Girls (2014) – An interesting look at the work of Australian and New Zealand military nurses during WWI. At times I struggled to connect with the characters, but I was also moved by their dedication and the sacrifices they made.

Crossfire (1947) – I don’t know why I avoided watching this for so long. It’s a gripping tale of hatred and anti-semitism full of great lines and great performances by three Roberts: Young, Ryan and Mitchum.

Rare Breed (1966) – As a fan of James Stewart and Maureen O’Hara, I really wanted to like this Western. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. They had little chemistry. Brian Keith was over the top as the third part of their love triangle. The best part about this one was Juliet Mills love for her prized bull.

I Wake up Screaming (1941) – Wow! This film noir stunned me in the best way, mostly thanks to the performances of Betty Grable, Victor Mature and Laird Creager. It’s rare to see Grable in a dramatic role, but she’s great as the practical sister of a murder victim. Craiger is especially creepy as a detective obsessed with the victim. And though I’ve never appreciated him, Mature makes the most of a good role. I was fascinated from beginning to end.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015) – A personal favorite of mine, I like to watch this adventure/dramedy every so often. I love the style, the costumes, the humor and the performances. For more reasons I love this re-make (and hope for a sequel) see my review here.

Our Lovers (2016) – Two strangers meet and bond over their relationship woes, mainly that they are both being cheated on. This Spanish Netflix film has one of the cutest meet-cutes I’ve seen in a while. And though the premise may sound depressing, this is actually a quirky comedy that I really enjoyed. It’s dialogue heavy with charming characters. I did feel like their conversations tended to focus on sex more than necessary, but then it is a story about how two people handle infidelity.

Down Argentine Way (1940) – Another Betty Grable film for me and this one more typical of her style. It’s a light comedy/musical co-starring Don Ameche. It’s fun, but not extremely memorable. Although, I did really love a few of Grable’s gowns in this picture.

Rock of Ages (2012) – Is this over the top, ridiculously cheesy and silly? Yes. Is it the kind of movie that turns into a cult classic because of that? Also, yes. Despite that, I adore this musical that celebrates 80’s rock music. And Tom Cruise kills it as the jaded rock star. It’s worth watching for his performance alone.

Doolittle (2020) – Though this family remake didn’t get great reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a great, clean, funny film with adventure, safe for all age groups. Robert Downey Jr. hams it up in a good way as the doctor who can talk to animals but whose personal tragedy has caused him to withdraw from life. And Michael Sheen makes a great villain caricature.

The Lives of Bengal Lancers (1935) – I really wanted to like this adventure drama starring Gary Cooper and Franchot Tone set in India. I just didn’t connect with it like I did other similarly set films like Gunga Din or Wee Willie Winkie. I thought it was rather slow and a bit boring. But I did think Tone stole the show from Cooper.

How to Get Over a Breakup (2018) – I was expecting a rom-com and instead got a film full of angst and drama about a woman who can’t seem to forget her ex. It’s not a bad film. It does have some humor,  strong female relationships, and self-empowerment which I always appreciate. Mainly, I chose it because I’ve yet to see a Peruvian film and wanted to see what they are producing there.

Private Lives (1931) -A caustically witty tale of two exes who can’t stay away from each other despite their raging fights and new spouses. This adaptation of a Noel Coward play stars two of my personal faves. Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery perfectly portray this dysfunctional couple who alternate so quickly between love and hate, it gives me whiplash!

Pitch Perfect (2012) – I first saw this musical in the theater with my best friend. We were surprised by how much we loved it, as our expectations were low. Since then, it remains one of my guilty pleasures. I love the music and the friendships and the tongue in cheek humor so much.

Agatha Raisin Season 3 – What a quirky delight this murder mystery series continues to be. The characters are such an eclectic but endearing bunch of oddballs. The mysteries keep me guessing and the interactions of all the characters keep me entertained. I’m loving the increasingly visible role of Mrs. Boggle this season. She’s a hoot!

RED (2010) – I never get tired of this movie. It features a perfect cast in Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker. It also manages to perfectly blend action with humor.

Isi & Ossi (2020) – A rocky path to romance between a poor boxer and a wealthy heiress, this German Netflix offering doesn’t bring anything new to the screen.

 

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2 Replies to “February 2020 Quickie Reviews”

  1. I really like Anzac Girls. A bit “dark,” yes, but really well produced. I watched E1 of ‘Destiny,’ and WOW. It was WAY more intense that I anticipated. Hoping if I watch more I like it better. Didn’t watch the new Austen because, well, I just can’t with an incomplete end for Austen. LOVE “Red,” ‘Agatha’ and of course, “Pitch Perfect” is just one of those fun watches. 🙂

    1. I honestly don’t think you missed much with the new Austen. It doesn’t “feel” much like Austen except for the setting. Bonfire of Destiny remained intense all the way through. I was addicted, but I wouldn’t say it was a “feel good” type of series.

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