March 2020 Quickie Reviews

In light of recent events, both personal and national, my entertainment choices have been guided by a sense of comfort and escapism. Which is why, I have been re-watching so many of my favorite films and trying to choose new films which offer a high entertainment value instead of a lot of drama and intensity.
March 2020 BREAKDOWN
  • 23 films/series total
  • 11 re-watches
  • 5 new classic films
  • 4 foreign films/series
  • 1 TV series
  • 1 Documentary
  • 1 new release

Biggest Disappointment: Emma

Favorite Discovery: Return of the Hero

Pillow to Post (1945) – My second time viewing this underrated rom-com was just as good as the first. Ida Lupino gives a great comedic performance in this picture about an heiress trying to prove herself to her father who then ends up in a fake marriage with a lieutenant. It’s very cute and I recommend it.

Enchanted April (1991) – My mom’s favorite movie and though I don’t love it as much as she does, I still find it…enchanting. The Italian villa setting is utterly romantic. But what I really appreciate is the emotional journey of the four women who share the villa. Not only do they begin as strangers, but each discovers the peace and love she needs to be content.

Man From Snowy River (1982) – An old family favorite, this Australian Western always brings the nostalgia for me. The music score is perfect as is Kirk Douglas performance in dual roles. For more of my thoughts on this one, here is my full review.

Beecham House (2019) – For some reason this series is streaming on PBS Masterpiece although it hasn’t yet aired on their cable station. Though it has great potential, overall I found this story of an English man living in India rather average. The costumes and settings are beautiful, but the characterization and plot are cliched and underdeveloped.

Sense and Sensibility (2008) – Jane Austen adaptations are always one of my go-to’s when real life gets challenging. This BBC produced version is my favorite version. At just under three hours, it gives more time to the famous story of two disparate sisters who fall in love.

The Thin Man (1934) – Yet another film/series which is a good pick me up on a hard day. I can always count on William Powell and Myrna Loy to brighten my outlook. Although I forgot how long the intro is before they actually appear. For some reason I can never remember who the villain is when I re-watch this one.

French Toast (2015) – When a young woman learns she has a sibling she never knew about, she heads to Paris to search for them. Along the way she meets a chef who helps her in her search. This South African film from Netflix has a bit of the pacing and feel of a Hallmark film. Which also means its safe for the family to watch. It’s also a bit quirky as are its’ characters.

Notorious (1946) – It’s been a long while since I’ve seen this Hitchcock film and I was in the mood for some Cary Grant so settled in for a re-watch. Of course, it’s well done, tight with suspense and great performances by Grant and Ingrid Bergman. But I still prefer Grant in comedies.

Return of the Hero (2018) – I ran across this French comedy on Amazon Prime and what fun it is! A cowardly soldier returns home only to find the whole town believes him to be a hero. He shares a love/hate relationship with the woman who perpetuated this lie. The chemistry between the two leads is spot on and the irreverent tone of this movie is just delightful.

Devil and the Deep (1932) – One of the few Cary Grant movies, I had not seen, yet he only appears in the first ten minutes. Though Charles Laughton and Tallulah Bankhead give great performances as an estranged husband and wife, I just couldn’t get engaged with this drama. The pacing and editing felt haphazard, leaving me to think there might have been important parts of the story left on the cutting room floor.

One Hour With You (1932)  – One can never go wrong with Ernst Lubitsch and once again he proves he’s the master of subtle comedy and innuendo. A marital comedy, this one is filled with sparkling performances by Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette McDonald and Genevieve Tobin. I also loved seeing favorite character actors Charles Ruggles and Roland Young, though they were underutilized.

A Beautiful Life (2011)  – This Chinese drama could have benefited from some editing. The story had great potential, but it ran on too long with a lot of unnecessary scenes. I also found the female lead extremely annoying and had a hard time believing her complete change of heart. There was a sweet side plot about the hero’s autistic brother falling for a mute girl that I really liked.

Upperworld (1934) – I love seeing Warren William in a sympathetic role, he so often played smarmy characters. Ginger Rogers is sweet as the showgirl with a heart that captures his attention despite his marriage to Mary Astor.  Somehow, William manages to retain audience sympathy in this drama despite some poor choices.

The Surprise (2015) – Okay I admit, I have a thing for dark comedies. So, when I ran across this Dutch picture about two suicidal people who have paid a mysterious organization to end their lives, but then fall in love, I knew I had to watch it. Though it wasn’t as funny as I expected, I was nonetheless highly entertained.

Brooklyn (2015) – Another one of my favorite feel-good movies. I love how the romance doesn’t overtake the main theme of the immigrant experience.  But I do think the romance between Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen is really sweet. And I can’t forget to mention how much I adore the costumes and the 50’s setting of this beautiful film.

Warrior (2011) – If you are looking for a movie full of family drama, intensity and physical action which will also give you all the feels, look no further.  Two estranged brothers find themselves competing in the same MMA tournament. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton give moving performances as the brothers, but it’s Nick Nolte who steals the show as their newly sober father trying to make amends.

My Favorite Year (1982) – I’ve heard great things about this comedy. While it does feature some great lines, I just couldn’t get engaged with this spoof about a washed up film star which is supposedly based on Errol Flynn, despite my crush on Peter O’Toole.

The Honeymoon Machine (1961) – I have a soft spot for this Steve McQueen comedy and not just because I love McQueen. The character actors in this are fantastic, including Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss. There’s also Jack Weston as a drunk Naval signalman who makes me laugh every time. It’s just nice, fun escapism.

The Greatest Showman (2017) – I still love this film so much. The theatricality, the songs, the costumes and the story all combine to create great entertainment.

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020) – Australia’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a personal favorite of mine and one I’ve seen multiple times, so I was very impatient to see this follow up film to the series. As happy as I was to see Phryne and Jack again, I was very disappointed that none of the show’s other characters had much screen time. I would have preferred to see the gang all together again, solving crimes. Also I wasn’t too thrilled with the supernatural aspect of this adventure story. It felt a bit cheesy.

Emma (2020) – Though this is a visually beautiful film, it felt soul-less to me. None of these familiar characters were likable. One of the most romantic declarations in literature was ruined by a nosebleed. Worst of all, the interactions and history between the characters was curtailed, thus severely depleting the depths of their relationships. Badly done, Emma. Badly done indeed.

Fitzwilly (1967) – I’m not sure why this cute comedy isn’t more widely known. It has a unique premise with Dick Van Dyke acting as butler/criminal mastermind who is the head of a group of thieves that steal to keep their formerly wealthy employer in the style to which she is accustomed. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but it is a lot of fun.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache (2019) – What an absolutely fascinating and informative documentary on cinema’s first female director. I thought the presentation was creative and unique. It also taught me a lot about the origins of the industry. This is a must see for film lovers like me.

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7 Replies to “March 2020 Quickie Reviews”

  1. Haven’t seen the new Emma yet, but I doubt it’ll be a favorite of mine. That said, sometimes with subsequent re-watches it grows on me. I adore the 2008 ‘Sense and Sensibility’ adaptation and you’ve made me realize I REALLY need to watch Brooklyn again too!!

    Thinking of you and hope you’re doing OK, Brittaney.

    1. I hope you enjoy the new Emma better than I did. Maybe my expectations were too high. I read your review of S&S and agreed with everything you said. Thank you Rissi.

  2. Dear Brittaney,

    This is a great overview. It sounds like you watched some very interesting films. I have seen some of the classic films you mentioned, and I enjoy many of them. Your thoughts on the new “Emma” are very informative.

    By the way, I nominated you for The Sunshine Blogger Award: https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/the-sunshine-blogger-award-from-sally-silverscreen/. In this post, I also invited you to participate in my monthly guest series, What the Code Means to Me. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    1. I’m sorry to say I was sadly disappointed with the new Emma. I had such high hopes. Thank you so much for the nomination. I’m excited about it. The last couple of months I’ve had to step back quite a bit from my blog for personal reasons, but I will work on my participating post. Thanks again!

      1. Dear Brittaney,

        You’re welcome. I look forward to reading your response article as you ease back in to writing. I know that there can be times when one gets bogged down with other things, but you always write good articles!

        Yours Hopefully,

        Tiffany Brannan

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