March 2022 BREAKDOWN
- 27 films/series total (not including Hallmark films)
- 5 new classic films
- 5 re-watches
- 8 foreign films
- 6 TV series
Biggest Disappointment: A Kiss for Corliss
Favorite Discovery: Mad for Each Other, The Solid Gold Cadillac
Father Brown Season 9 – I was so excited for another season of this fun cozy mystery series. And I can’t say I’m sad that Bunty only makes an appearance in two episodes. But thankfully, all my other favorites show up including Sid, Lady Felicia and Hercule Flambeau. This show just makes me happy.
Agatha Raisin Season Season 4 – I hated the holiday episode and almost gave up on the series because of it, but thankfully the rest of the season was as fun as I expected. It was nice to see James Lacy back with the gang although not with Agatha. I may be one of the few who actually want to see her together with Sir Charles, who has become one of my favorite characters. They just seem to have more in common. I would have liked to see a bit more of Bill and Gemma together as their relationship deepened. Also, Agatha’s outfits have always been colorful and bold but have taken a detour into ridiculous this season.
Home Town Season 6 – Another season of Ben and Erin’s show and it’s just as enjoyable as all the others. It’s the only series I still watch on HGTV. They are just so likable and all-American,
Murder in Provence (2021) -This new BritBox series stars Roger Allam (Endeavor) and Nancy Carroll (Father Brown) as a crime solving couple in the gorgeous city of Aix France. The mystery of the crimes they solve were hard to predict, but honestly didn’t interest me much. And as much as I love his character on Endeavour, Allam’s character here felt boring. But Nancy Carroll is delightful and chic in her role and the French scenery also makes this a series I enjoyed.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 – Meh, I keep thinking each new season will live up to my love for the first season, but I’m experiencing major disenchantment. I like Midge less and less because I just see her as extremely selfish, self-absorbed, even angry and destructive. I’m not finding her all that funny either. The expanded use of foul language does not appeal to me either. I continue to watch the show for the design and costumes and most of all for Rose and Lenny. I’m not sad to hear that season 5 will be the last, especially since I had to make myself finish this season.
Around the World in 80 Days – This is my first exposure to this story by Jules Verne. For all it’s production values, budget and casting, I just didn’t love this one like I wanted to. For one, so much of the background in the world-traveling scenes felt like too much CGI, I didn’t really care that much about the characters and the experiences they had together seemed implausible. I did think the last two episodes were the best, the last in particular had me on the edge of my seat.
Foreign films & Series
Beauty Inside (2018) – This series has an interesting premise. A popular actress who physically transforms into a different body once a month begins a relationship with a man who has face blindness. I had seen the 2015 Korean film with a similar plot, so I was curious to see what a full series could do and I ended up really loving it. The plot was able to explore some deeper issues while overall keeping a light-hearted and fun atmosphere thanks to the close relationships between the various characters. And those personal interactions between the characters are really a highlight of the show. I also loved the way the male lead has this pure love for the female lead. The Beauty Inside isn’t perfect, but it made me laugh, cry, and think and whetted my appetite for more K-dramas.
The Little Switzerland (2019) – This Spanish picture has a fun premise. After decades of fighting over whether their village is Castilian or Basque, an archeological discovery gives the town the option of becoming Swiss! This leads to humorous scenes that play out physically and in the dialogue. I loved all the quirky residents as well as the political panderings of their elected officials who are not as concerned with the best interest of the town as they seem to be. My favorite character was the priest whose loyalty to his church lends to him hiding a shocking secret. Though I didn’t laugh as much as expected, I still found this rather enjoyable.
Hometown Cha Cha Cha (2021) – I almost gave up on this Netflix K drama early on because the female lead was rude and snobby, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because the series was actually adorable. In terms of plot, it reminded me of a Hallmark movie, in that a driven, big-city woman relocates to a small town and starts a relationship with the town’s beloved handyman. The selling point are the relationships of all the townspeople who form a family of sorts, full of unique personalities but always there for each other. My favorite character is the town busybody. As I’ve come to expect from Korean television, the characters are lovable with good development, there are many emotional high and low points and it’s just downright addictive.
A Girl & Three Sweethearts (2016) -This was my second attempt this month with a Japanese drama series. I was curious to see how it would compare with the K-dramas I’ve been watching. This one is about a female patissier who leaves Tokyo to work with three brothers in their family restaurant in a seaside town. There is a love triangle with two of the brothers which felt weak. I didn’t feel that the brother she chose was the best choice for her at all. The lead actress was endearing in a puppy-like manner and the reason I finished the series. Otherwise, I felt it was rather average and not at all addictive as Korean series.
Without Saying Goodbye (2022) – Having never seen a Peruvian film before this Netflix offering caught my eye. The film does a great job in highlighting the natural beauty of Peru and its’ people. However the plot and performances are fairly cliche. It’s one of those opposites attract stories, where a rich, workaholic playboy meets his match in a bohemian, earth mother type and begins to reevaluate his life and priorities. I found the female character rather selfish, annoying and judgmental. The film tries to give her a tragic backstory, but it’s not enough to explain her childish behavior. Besides being very sexy, the male lead actually had an interesting character arc and the film did a decent job showing his search for balance.
Tune In for Love (2019) – This Korean film had very high ratings, but I thought it rather slow and dull. I don’t know if it was me or something lost in translation, but I didn’t understand what was happening many times. I’ve seen similar stories done well; boy and girl meet, form a connection and then continually cross paths over the years, but the timing for their relationship is never quite right. There is very little action, and the dialogue didn’t do much to move the plot along. The performances were also subdued. The last 20 minutes however were very good.
Mad for Each Other (2021) – I adored this dark comedy with its’ oddball characters. The story about two people with mental health, trauma and abuse issues, who develop a strong connection, perfectly balanced the line between serious and funny. I thought the show did a good job portraying the short and long term effects of these issue in a sympathetic and realistic way. The two leads were amazing in depicting the emotions and inner journey of their characters. The plot was unpredictable and the supporting characters only added to the unconventional feel of the show. Episode one had me laughing hard and continuing episodes kept surprising me with hilarity. This show is an absolute gem! Trigger Warning for domestic violence
My Bossy Girl (2019) – As you can tell, I’ve binged several Korean titles this month, including this one whose title is a bit of a misnomer. I liked this story about a physically handicapped woman who bonds with an emotionally handicapped man. Their romance inspires both of them to push past their limitations. However, as a general rule, I feel that Korean series do a much better job capturing emotional depths and my attention than the films do.
Romeo and Juliet (1936) – Produced by MGM, the highlight of this adaptation is the lavish sets and costumes. Surprisingly, Norma Shearer also gives a good performance as Juliet. According to her biography, she really worked hard at it too. Unfortunately, the cast including Leslie Howard, John Barrymore are all too old for their parts as to be distracting. Personally, I’ve never understood the appeal of Howard and thought he was badly mis-cast here. While it’s a watchable version, I wouldn’t say it was the best. Then again, I’ve never been a fan of the story anyway.
Bed of Roses (1933) – This is one of four films that Joel McCrea and Constance Bennett made together. It’s not one of the worst, but it may be one of the most implausible. Bennett is too elegant and sophisticated to pull off being a prostitute and McCrea isn’t much better as a fishing barge owner. But still they look great together. I love that Bennett’s character decides to give up both of her men, the one who keeps her and the one who loves her in an effort to prove she’s worthy. A great performance by Pert Kelton as Bennett’s wise acre hooker friend was a highlight.
Seven Sweethearts (1942) – I saw this once years ago and it didn’t make much of an impression, but this time around I was completely charmed. Van Heflin stars as a reporter who lands in a Dutch town and is drawn in by the residents, especially the hotel owner, played by S.Z. Sakall and his seven daughters with male names. To no one’s surprise he falls for the youngest played by Kathryn Grayson. Heflin is adorable in a way I’ve never seen him before but he’s almost upstaged by Marsha Hunt portraying the self-absorbed, stage-struck oldest daughter.
Easter Parade (1948) -I’m sad to say, that I was underwhelmed with this Fred Astaire and Judy Garland musical. None of the musical numbers really stood out to me, although it was nice to see Astaire dance with Ann Miller. Jules Munshin’s brief scene as a French waiter was very funny.
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956) – I’ve yet to watch a Judy Holliday film that didn’t charm me and this one is no different. She played to type as an average woman who mostly by accident (certainly not intelligence) takes on the corrupt board of directors of a large company and eventually comes out on top. Paul Douglas, who I’ve really come to admire, is her counterpart as the recently retired founder of the company who joins with her to take the company back. It’s a fun film, but also one with a still prescient message about corporate greed and corruption. In a way it reminds me of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in that an average American citizen can stand up to power and hold them accountable.
The Best Man (1964) – Hmm, it’s interesting to watch political films like this from decades ago and realize nothing has changed except to maybe get worse. The fact that politics is not about elective representation but a game played behind the scenes really disgusts me. However, this picture does a great job depicting that corruption, greed and power trip. Henry Fonda plays his usual humble man with integrity against Cliff Robertson as his challenger for their party’s nomination. Most praise Fonda, but I also think Robertson really gives a great performance as a man who will stoop at nothing to win, while also coming across as a man of integrity and of the people. Lee Tracy also has a very illuminating role as the outgoing President for whose endorsement the men are competing. I’d only ever seen Tracy in pre-code films, but if he had lived, I think he would have had a good career in supporting roles like this.
A Kiss for Corliss (1949) – I had to make myself finish this one, despite the presence of Shirley Temple and my personal favorite David Niven. Not only is the plot ridiculous, but Temple’s teenage character was written as a manipulative, lying young woman who caused her parents and friends great concern with no consequences. It’s a terrible role and a really dumb film.
Ambush (1950) – The lighting for this Western was very dark for many scenes that I often couldn’t tell which characters on the screen. This made it hard for me to get engaged with the those characters. I even found myself squinting at times to try to make out what was going on, not that it helped. Aside from that, it was a fairly good Western about a scout who teams up with an Army captain to help rescue a former general’s daughter from the Indians, Unlike most classic films, it even depicted spousal abuse and adultery without moralizing about it. Robert Taylor and John Hodiak star as the scout and captain whose interest in Arlene Dahl make them rivals who must learn to work together. Thankfully, Taylor did not get stuck in those pretty boy roles from his early career, because he’s great in these types of films.
Sense and Sensibility (2008) – I adore this version of Austen’s tale and prefer it over the feature film that most love. A great British cast and three full episodes allow for a bit more exploration than the movie. I love prefer the casting of Janet McTeer as the mother and also that the youngest sister Meg gets more screen time and inclusion with the family. Also, the gorgeous outdoor settings make me want to move to an English cottage by the sea immediately.
Sense and Sensibility (1995) – Well, after finally re-watching this after many years, I realize that this adaptation is better than I remembered. I actually like it just as well as the mini-series.
Monte Carlo (2011) – I’ve wanted to re-watch this for a long time. It’s nothing special, but it’s just as cute and mindless entertainment as I remember.
Hampstead (2017) – Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson star in this picture as a grieving widow, left with a mountain of her husband’s debt and a philosophical man living as a squatter on city property who fall for each other. Keaton plays her usual role, that all feel the same, but Gleeson actually makes the picture somewhat interesting. The story had great potential but failed to really go deep into the characters to make them people I really want to root for.
The Last Emperor (1987) – I can’t say I enjoyed this movie based on the real life of Puyi, the last emperor of China, but I did find it fascinating as a glimpse into China’s history and royal culture. It is well-made, but slow moving and if I hadn’t read up on Puyi’s life I feel there might have been parts of this film that I wouldn’t have understood. Connections between characters and timelines I would have missed. As is obvious from this past month’s entertainment choices, my interest in Asian culture and history is piqued.
Thanks to the K-dramas with their very looong episodes, I had less time to watch Hallmark movies this month. As usual, my favorites are in bold.
Hallmark – Hearts Down Under, Wedding Every Weekend, Don’t Forget I Love You, Sweet Carolina, The Presence of Love, Right in Front of Me, Feeling Butterflies, In the Key of Love, One Summer, Follow Your Heart, Love in the Forecast, One Perfect Wedding, Making Spirits Bright, The Vows We Keep