September 2019 Quickie Reviews

Since my recent move, I haven’t had cable television, so I watched fewer classic films. But that’s okay. It just gave me more opportunity to view other movies and series that I might not otherwise have had time for. To be honest, I didn’t really love the few classic films I did see in September. And would you believe, I didn’t have any re-watches this month?

  • 24 films/series total
  • 7 new classic films
  • 7 foreign films/series
  • 5 TV series
  • 1 in theater

Favorite Discovery: Ooh, this month gave me a lot of options to choose from for this honor. Among the contenders were Ladies in Black, Jericho, The Professor and the Madman and of course Downton Abbey. But my choice is Blind Date. It is going on my list of all time favorites, hands down.

Biggest Disappointment: Except for Heartbeat, pretty much every classic film this month left me feeling meh…

My Foolish Heart (1949) – I’m not sure what to think of this one. I’m not a big Susan Hayward fan and she is the star of this melodramatic tear-jerker. I watched it for Dana Andrews. However, due to bad weather, several of his scenes cut out. So, I missed the development of their relationship. I feel like I need to watch it again for full effect, but I don’t really want to.

Ladies in Black (2018)– This lesser known coming of age drama set in 1960’s Australia deserves more attention. It’s sweet and serious, full of charm and interpersonal drama. I adored seeing Julia Ormond as a WWII survivor and immigrant who takes the main character under her wing.

Wine Country (2019) – I’ve heard much praise about this Netflix comedy. After a co-worker recommended it, I finally made it a priority. Though there were some slow moving scenes, I also had many laugh out loud moments. I always appreciate films which show the special bond and interactions between girlfriends.

The Beautiful Fantastic (2016) – What a treat this film is. It’s unique and quirky characters played by talented actors like Jessica Brown Findlay, Anna Chancellor and Tom Wilkinson, make this a sweetly charming drama. I loved how unexpected  and unpredictable the story was.

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – I’ve been wanting to watch this one awhile as I’ve always loved the original. I thought Emily Blunt was well cast as my favorite nanny. Ditto on Lin-Manuel Miranda as the cheery chimney sweep. However, this didn’t quite live up to the hype for me. The run time felt too long and I really only liked a few of the songs. The rest were forgettable.

Finding Joy (2018) – I really liked this short Irish series about an insecure woman who has just been dumped and is forced to step outside of her comfort zone in her new job. Joy is such an endearing character as she stumbles around trying to figure out her life. It’s very relatable while also making you cringe over Joy’s humiliations.

Wonderful Nightmare (2015) – This Korean film about a successful female workaholic who gets the chance to live life as a wife and mother due to a supernatural clerical error kept me wondering what would happen next. It reminded me very much of the Nicholas Cage film The Family Man which has always been a personal favorite. The personal journey the main character experiences as she learns more about herself and what is important in life is touching as is the way she opens her fortressed heart. Just a really sweet family style film.

Heartbeat (1946) – I enjoyed this obscure Ginger Rogers title with Rogers playing a young girl who runs away from reform school only to join a professional thievery school. She’s joined by Jean-Pierre Aumont as her love interest and a host of terrific character actors like Adolphe Menjou, Melvin Cooper,  Basil Rathbone and Henry Stephenson.  Her character arc is a bit uneven but she is sparkling pretty.

Always (2011) – One of my favorite films is Sadece Sen (on Netflix), a Turkish picture which is an adaptation of this  Korean film. So I’ve been eager to see this original for a long time for comparison’s sake. The two films are almost identical, and I loved the actors’ portrayal in Always just as much as Sadece Sen. Both films are emotionally gripping. However, I think the main actor in Sadece Sen gives a slightly better performance, so it just barely edges out Always for me. But I would highly recommend both films.

Love Like Coincidences (2011) – I chose this Turkish film because it stars the main actress from Sadece Sen. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I thought I was getting a love story about two people who keep crossing paths but the timing is never quite right. And it is that. But it’s also a romantic tragedy with a bittersweet ending. I felt ambivalent about the leading lady. She wasn’t someone I could wholeheartedly root for. However, this is a film which leaves you with a lot of thoughts and emotions at its’ end. And the more I meditate on it, the more I appreciate the story it tells.

Jericho (2016) – Though this British series was cancelled and only garnered average reviews, I found it rather intriguing. I’ve never seen a British Western before. The chemistry between the two main characters played by Jessica Raine and Hans Matheson kept me watching even though character development was lacking elsewhere. Honestly, Matheson completely mesmerized me. I hate the lack of conclusion at the ending due to the cancellation, but am still glad I watched this.

Dark Waters (1944) – A Southern gothic gaslighting tale with Merle Oberon and Franchot Tone. It lacked a bit in tension for me so I was unable to really become invested in the outcome. I kept thinking Gene Tierney would have been a better fit in Oberon’s role.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries Season 4 – I really enjoyed this season and would venture to say it is the best one yet. They brought in a few new characters which added new dynamics and story lines that kept things fresh.

Father Brown Season 7 – As always, watching this series is like visiting with old friends. I was thrilled that they brought Lady Felicia’s character back for two episodes. She and her wardrobe are a personal favorite of mine. I also loved the surprise reappearance of a character from an earlier season and the change of attitude this person has had towards our crime-solving Father.

Sabotage (1936) – I expected to like this one better since I’m a fan of both Hitchcock and Sylvia Sydney. But it just didn’t keep my interest.  I should probably give it another chance since I was distracted when I watched it.

Whistle Stop (1946) – I have to say, I really like young Ava Gardner when she was still establishing her career. She’s great as the sexy woman whose return home stirs up trouble between two former beaus. Victor McLaglen is also interesting as a bartending tough. But as most reviewers note, there is no chemistry between Gardner and co-star George Raft. In fact, he looks old enough to be her father. Not a memorable film.

The Professor and the Madman (2019) – Who would have ever thought that Mel Gibson and Sean Penn would co-star together? But they are both amazing in their respective titular roles in this film based on the true story friendship of two unique men who work together to write the Oxford dictionary. I really appreciated the messages of this movie, mainly the importance of perseverence, forgiveness and the value of a life. I also loved seeing a bunch of familiar faces in supporting roles; Natalie Dormer, Jennifer Ehle, Steve Coogan, Stephen Dillane, Ioan Gruffud and Laurence Fox.

Sundown (1941) – I’m a Gene Tierney fan which is why I gave this one a watch. She’s more of a supporting character here and not a very great one. Also the main character Bruce Cabot is a bit of a dud. But the excellent supporting cast including George Sanders, Harry Carey, Reginald Gardiner and Joseph Calleia kept me watching this WWII drama set in Africa.

Blind Date (2015) – I fell hard for this absolutely delightful French comedy about two introvert neighbors who fall for each other without ever meeting one another. The plot device of a thin shared wall between them reminded me of classic films, particularly The More the Merrier or the shared phone line in Pillow Talk. The female lead is adorable and her male counterpart is charmingly grumpy and anti-social. This is definitely going on my list of favorite film discoveries this year.

Committed (2014) – This Greek film is a very simple one. A commitment phobic man picks up a hitch-hiking run away bride and they road-trip around the island of Cyprus together discussing their views of life and relationships. There are no action scenes, just gorgeous scenery and two strangers who help each other come to terms with their lives. The ending was left ambiguous, but the chemistry between the two main leads, left me feeling like it was a happy ending.

Experiment Perilous (1944) – This one has been on my radar for a while thanks to its’ leading man George Brent and his co-star Hedy Lamar. I’d heard it compared to Gaslight. And while it doesn’t quite measure up to that classic, it’s still interesting enough. But for a story filled with twists and turns, it still felt lacking in some way.

Running for Grace (2018) – The Hawaiian setting of this film is stunning. The story about an abandoned bi-racial orphan who wants to follow in the footsteps of the doctor who takes him in is my favorite part of the film. The forbidden inter-racial romance with a wealthy white girl was not. Matt Dillon was great as the gruff but compassionate doctor. Sadly, as much as I love Jim Caviezel, he overplayed his role as the villain.

That Winter, The Wind Blows (2013) – I have lots of thoughts about this K-drama, but neither the time nor inclination to write a full review. I liked the premise about a con man who falls for his blind mark while pretending to be her long-lost brother. The music, cinematography, costuming and secondary characters were all wonderful as were the main leads’ performances. However, there were many things that didn’t make sense to me, the ending was completely implausible and I felt this could have been told better in less episodes.

Downton Abbey (2019) – I originally had plans to see this with people I love, but then I moved, so I went to the theater alone. But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this movie one bit. Everything I loved about the series was transferred to the big screen. I laughed, I cried, I was transported for two hours. This is what entertainment is supposed to be.

What did you watch in September? Have you seen any of the titles I mentioned? What was your favorite film discovery?

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2 Replies to “September 2019 Quickie Reviews”

  1. I spy *so* many personal favorites on your list. I remember LOVING “Jericho” at the time I watched it though, yes, I too was sad there isn’t a S2 (still… I like to think it all ends happily). More recently I adored “Ladies in Black,” and of course, “Downton Abbey” is ALL THE NOSTALGIC FEELS!!

    Also, mom and I binged “Father Brown,” and awww, it’s so fun. I think I have one season I need to watch yet. Need to watch ‘Doctor Blake’s’ latest series, too, but… yep, it’s another favorite. 😀

    1. I remember reading your review on Jericho over at The Silver Petticoat which whetted my appetite to see it. I’m so glad you enjoyed Father Brown. I do miss Lady Felicia and Sid in the later seasons though.

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