Thursday, June 23, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #415: Island Movies



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

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This week's Thursday Movie Picks is Island Movies

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I'm picking my most recent watches.

The Lost Daughter (2021)
The characters may have not refered to the island they're on, we just see lots of beach, but the movie was shot on an island in Greece. I don't think I like The Lost Daughter. I remember it as being claustrophobic with some its close shots and just the general feeling, which I know makes sense since it is about a woman who had felt motherhood was stifling her ambitions in academia. Still I thought it was an interesting movie, the way it also weaves suspense in that potential for danger in the present day events.

Luca (2021)
Not a real island, but a fantasy one set on the Italian Riviera. The main character is a sea creature that becomes human when he is dry. He meets another boy like him on a tiny island opposite a seaside town, from which they sort of practice at being human and spy on the humans, they long to be like, across the waters. I didn't love the movie but it is cute and gorgeous to look at. Pixar does water really well.

Fantasy Island (2020)
It's in the title. I had not seen the original TV series before so the premise of the movie is all new to me. Fantasy Island was okay. Not anything memorable.

 
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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #414: Shopping Mall



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

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This week's Thursday Movie Picks is Shopping Mall

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Shopping Malls. We love them here. The weather is hot and humid all year round so the air conditioning the malls have provide a refuge from the heat. There are malls everywhere, next to almost all major train stops. I used to live the near a mall when I was growing up and would have to cut through the mall to get home. After school my friend and I would often get an ice cream, frozen yogurt, milk shakes from McDonalds and when we have a little more money, an Ice Blended from Coffee Bean. The mall provide a sort of cooling break from the heat in our journey and the cold drink or snack makes the rest of the walk home more tolerable. Oh and another great thing about malls is access to clean toilets and for nursing mothers and those with babies, nursing+baby rooms. Shopping malls also serve as a great movie setting. Here are some recent movies I’ve watch and liked that are set in a mall.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
I had not seen the first two Terminator movies in full before and finally did so a few months ago. I prefer the first Terminator more because I thought the sequel’s villain the T-100 was a little too indestructible. Anyway Terminator 2 had a scene in a shopping mall in one of the earlier scenes when the two terminators come looking for John Connor as he is playing at the arcade.

Holidate (2020)
This was a surprise. I actually enjoyed it; it is a really cute romcom. Holidate follows two single people who agree to become each other's platonic plus ones for various holiday parties throughout the year and I think the characters first met at mall as they were shopping for holiday gifts. The movie also has a grand gesture that takes place in the mall at the end

Fear Street Part One (2021) and Fear Street Part Three (2021)
I was a big fan of the Fear Street series of books growing up so I am thrilled that it finally got an adaptation and that they turn out to be decent horror movies. My favourite is Part Two. Part One and Three were still good watches and significant portions of them were set in a shopping mall and that was fun and just very retro.

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Thursday, June 9, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #413: Fantasy

 



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

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This week's Thursday Movie Picks is Fantasy

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This is coming late so I’m just going to the quick one picking some of the smaller fantasy movies that I like.

Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997) 
There are so many Snow White adaptations. Snow White was Disney’s first animated feature so that’s really popular. Then there were the two Snow White and the Huntsman movies. So Snow White: A Tale of Terror may have gotten overshadowed over the years but I like it, more than the rest I mentioned. It is much more darker and creepier. Sigourney Weever does a good turn as the evil/crazy stepmother. 

Peter Pan (2003)
Once again there are so many Peter Pan adaptations or movies with related stories. From Disney’s Peter Pan, Hook, Finding Neverland to the more recent Pan. All of them had pretty big stars starring in them too and I think there are two more Peter Pan related movies coming in the next year or two. Out of that I mentioned this Peter Pan movie is my favourite; it is an incredibly charming magical adventure.  

The Fall (2006)
This is one of my favourite movies, so I was surprise that it seemed I’ve never picked it for a previous TMP before. The movie follows a young girl with a broken arm in hospital who befriends a stuntman with a broken leg and he tells her a fantastical adventurous tale. This movie is visually amazing; the costumes, the locations and all shot so beautifully. I also really like the story; it’s charming and sad and the young actress is so natural as the the young girl character, it seems she isn’t acting at all, like she is just being herself…a child. 

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Thursday, June 2, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #412: Failure to Launch



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

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This week's Thursday Movie Picks is Failure to Launch (Movies that were supposed to launch a franchise)

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This is easy as there are just so many movies that were supposed to launch a franchise but failed to make much money and so the sequels were scrapped. There especially seem to be this scramble to make the next YA franchise, which I think began with Twilight. Before it, I don't think there had been a teen movie franchise. Twilight was the little movie that could. According to IMDB Twilight, the first movie, had a budget of 37 million and made a little more that 400 million worldwide. Next of course came The Hunger Games which was similarly as successful, it made about 9 times its own budget, but no other YA series seem to do as well. Most never got sequels, and the ones that got sequels however they tend to sort of sputtered near the end (Allegiant anyone?). So I'm going with a theme with a theme: adaptations of YA books I've read.

Beautiful Creatures (2013)
The Caster Chronicles series has four books. I've only read the first book and wasn't really into it. Felt mostly the same way about the movie. However I did sorta like the setting of movie, it had the whole Southern Gothic thing going on with the main character living in what from the outside looks like a decaying grand mansion on a plantation...it sorta look darkly beautiful. But I think they overdid with the costume choices and the story was not that strong either.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)
The Mortal Instruments series has six books. I remember reading the first book and thinking why do people like this. I don't get it. It seemed as if the writer was trying so hard to make the characters cool to teens: The characters are teens who are demon hunters, wear a lot of black (leather?), are weapons experts and have magic tattoos. Well I guess because I was not a teen, they just don't appeal to me. The movie was just as unimpressive. Then when City of Bones failed to launch a movie franchise, they rebooted it and made a TV series, Shadowhunters, which lasted 3 seasons. Which is sort of unbelievable because I saw like the first two episodes and it was not an improvement from the movie. The lead female actress was super wooden and the production looked very budget. 

Vampire Academy (2014)
The Vampire Academy series has six books. I only read the first one and I can't say I like the book much, but it was definitely better than the movie. The movie could have exploited the appeal of supernatural kids in a boarding school setting (remember Harry Potter) unfortunately it didn't. The movie didn't really set up the franchise well and was not a good introduction to the Vampire Academy world and its characters. I remember being confused to the different type of vampires there were. Despite it having a theatrical release the movie also look very budget more like a TV movie with rather wooden acting. Anyway, since the movie franchise failed, it too is getting a new life as a TV series on Peacock with apparently Julie Pelc as the showrunner. If her name is familiar it's because she was the show runner for The Vampire Diaries which is also based on YA book series.


The 5th Wave (2016)
The 5th Wave series has three books. I've read the first two books. I actually really like the first book, it was I thought a pretty good YA apocalyptic book with plenty of action. The second one I didn't like so I didn't finish the series. The adaptation was pretty bad. I think it looked budgety. I saw a review that said it was a little Red Dawnish...and I kinda agree. While I thought the book was quite thrilling and action packed, the movie felt dull and like the story all feels stupid. I guess sometimes when you read something on a page it sounds okay, but when they try to realise into a movie it is just seems dumb and very juvenile.

The Darkest Minds (2018)
The Darkest Minds series has four books. I had wanted to read this book so much because I thought the  plot summary sounded interesting, however I was so disappointed when I finally read it. I think it's because by the time I read The Darkest Minds I had already ready a bunch of YA apocalyptic or dystopian novels and they all seem to have a similar basic plot which is children being taken from their parents and being put into some groups for various nefarious reasons (The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Fifth Wave, etc), so it was not bringing in anything new and some of the other books were better than it. The movie was sorta ok but like I said the story was unimpressive and boring, we've seen it before and done better, so I totally get why this didn't get a sequel.


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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #411: TMP Television Edition - Home and Lifestyle Shows



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five titles and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

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This week's Thursday Movie Picks is TMP Television Edition - Home and Lifestyle Shows

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I enjoy watching Home and Lifestyle shows. I don’t follow them like regular TV shows but when there’s nothing to watch on TV, it’s easy to just tune in to them since there’s no plot you need to already be aware of. In the past I used to watch a lot more of the American home decor and renovation shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and Tiny House Nation. But I got really tired of them after awhile. They tend to be about the personality of the hosts, how charming they are and their “cute” banter. Some start to bring in their families into the show, making and selling themselves as a wholesome “brand” and less about their renovation/decor work. These shows are also super scripted. Like they would receive a call about some building supply issue or pest problem all as the camera happen to be rolling, drama ensues - so much bad acting. Then there are ones like Tiny House Nation where one of the host is the builder and the other sort of give lifestyle advise to the homeowners on how to minimalise their life and like give pep talks as they get rid of their excess stuff - I mean if the homeowners need someone to advise them how to be minimalist should they even be building and live in a tiny house? Also the builders and interior designers on these shows tend to have a certain aesthetic (when I watched them a few years ago, it was all about open concept), so all the homes they do are just variations of the same style - extremely boring.

Then I found some British building renovation shows and they are so much better. They tend to be more of documentary style, where the host doesn't provide the building/renovation service but instead follow and sort of document the home owners as they build their dream homes. Here are the ones I like:

The Restoration Man (2010 - 2017) & George Clarke's Remarkable Renovations (2021)
Both of these shows are hosted by George Clarke, a British architect. Remarkable Renovations seems to be the successor of The Restoration Man as the concept is pretty similar - they both follow people converting non-residential structures (old churches, barns, windmill, etc) they have bought into homes. The transformation of something that isn’t residential and often very old (with planning and conservation restrictions) into a home is very interesting to watch. In Restoration Man, Clarke would also do a little research on the history of the old buildings and at the end of the episode when the building renovation is completed he would then present the home owners with a book of photos of the old building as how it was used in the past as well as photos of the owners own building renovation journey.

Grand Designs (1999 - ) & Grand Designs Australia (2010 - )
I’ve seen both editions (more of the original British version) and they are both very good. Both editions are hosted by architects and the show follows people who are building their dream homes and the hosts would visit the home owners periodically to see the building's progress and interview the owners and sometimes even the architects and builders the owners have hired. The building projects range from a year to maybe five years for the longer ones. One of the best things about the show is the different type of homes they feature and their budgets. The homes range from modern type homes, rustic homes, container homes, restoration of old residential and non-residential buildings into homes, modular homes, sustainable homes and homes to meet the needs of the owners who have medical conditions or disabilities. While I love watching Grand Designs because it is so interesting, it makes me never want to build my own home, it is just so stressful so I would rather buy one from a developer. A lot of the the owners actually work on their own houses themselves. My guess is so that they can better project manage the building and keep track of where their money is going to and to save on some labour costs. They often look so exhausted and stressed, especially when delays happen and the project goes over budget. The owners are quite candid too with their struggles with money and when they run out of it. Some try to get more bank loans, borrow from family and those that had taken time off their job to work on the building full time eventually had to put a break on the building project for a time to go back to their day job to further fund building costs. Most do complete their homes. However, there are two building projects that stuck out for me as both of them had went on for too long and were over budget, that had by the last visit (several years after the first visit) by the host at the end of the episode, the couples ended up divorcing. One of them - the house was at least completed but the interior decor was still unfinished. The other was much worst - at the end of the episode the structure was only partly done, the project had gone on soo long (8 years) and the owners didn’t have any money left to finish it with them already being millions in debt. They were trying to sell the building but with it partly finished not many would be interested in it; I mean what buyer would reasonably want to attempt to finish it themselves and sink their money on such a publicly known money pit. I think the owners said their only option if they can’t sell it would be to declare bankruptcy…which is just rather foolishly tragic. The project strained and probably ended their marriage and in the end they had nothing to show for it.
 
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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #410: Mazes



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

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This week's Thursday Movie Picks is Mazes

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I thought that this week would be hard to pick, but actually it was quite easy after thinking about it a little. Here are the ones I like.

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Well it's in the title plus it is a favourite of mine which I have picked many times before for other themes. In the movie, Ofelia follows a supernatural winged creature to the forest where there's a maze. She goes through it and down a spiral staircase and meets Pan.

The Guest (2014)
The movie was such a surprise. This was not a role that I had ever thought to see Dan Stevens in, all I had seen him in before was as middle/upper class British guys, but he really transformed into this fit lethal American soldier oozing Southern charm and he was soo good in it. Anyway at the end of the movie, the characters go through this fairground style haunted house type of maze.


The Night House (2021)
I can't decide if I like this movie. I think there are quite a number of holes in it, but I did find it super creepy and weird. So the maze in the movie is a house the main character's dead husband built that has a maze like design because he wants to confound a demon.
 

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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #409: Actors who are Real Life Family Playing Same Family Role in Movies



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

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This week's Thursday Movie Picks is Actors who are Real Life Family Playing Same Family Role in Movies

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I'm picking the three that immediately came to mind. And these are all first time picks.

Say Anything (1989)
Brother and sister John and Joan Cusack playing siblings in Say Anything. Both have been co-stars in multiple films though not all of them as siblings. This is a popular 80's teen movie, but I thought it was just ok.

Donnie Darko (2001)
Brother and sister Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall playing siblings. This was super dark and weird but I think I liked it when I saw it. I haven't seen it a long time so I wonder what I think of it now. 


Ricki and the Flash (2015)
Mother and daughter Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer playing a mother and her daughter. This movie has such a low rating on IMDB but I enjoyed it. Streep tends to star in more Oscar baity movies so this was a nice turn; a more family dramedy sort of flick about an aging musician who never became famous and trying to reconnect with her family.
 

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