Thursday, May 13, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #357: Period Dramas


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 Period Dramas

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This is one of those themes I do every year because there are just a lot of period dramas and new ones released every year. Today I'm simply picking 3 period dramas that I recently watched.

My Cousin Rachel (2017)
A young man believes his late older cousin's new wife is responsible for his death. But when she comes to visit him, he becomes enchanted with her. The basic premise is interesting and sorta reminds me of Doubt...it is the whole suspicion of a crime. However what Doubt does well is that the crux of the drama is that characters are tormented by their suspicion; if there is no crime then they are wrong to be suspicious or what if they are right, which is worst, that a crime has really be committed. My Cousin Rachel in that respect is lacking...the main character is naive and seeming fickle and flip flopping...he hates Rachel than becomes enchanted with her and then hates her again with very little inner turmoil for having even suspected Rachel for doing a deed that he can't prove.
 
Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)
The movie tells the story of the relationship of A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin and the creation of Winnie the Pooh. I thought this was going to be super boring but it was really charming (the scenes of young Christopher Robin in the woods which became the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh) and also emotional particularly at the end. This probably makes a good cautionary tale for those parenting bloggers and instragrammers who overshare their children's lives.
 
1917 (2019)
Two soldiers are sent on a mission to deliver a message to stop a regiment from walking into a trap. I like it. It's this scary tense almost impossible mission that's cleverly filmed as if it is one long take which also makes the audience feel they're there in the thick of it. And I especially like the ending. After a grueling journey we're sorta start to believe that if the soldiers get to their destination and deliver the message that would be a great achievement, a turning point. But it's not really. It's just one message among many messages and many more battles to come.

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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #356: Oscar Winners Edition: Best Director


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 Oscar Winners Edition: Best Director

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Last week I made a super lengthy post. Today I'm keeping it short. Here are my three favourites.

A Man for All Seasons (1966)
I've picked this one a few times before. It's a great movie that swept several awards at the 1967 Oscars including Best Director for Fred Zinnemann.
 
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
I think Peter Jackson should have won for The Fellowship of the Ring since he shot all three movies at the same time, but it seemed that there was a lot more competition in the category at the 2002 Oscars compared to the 2004 one.
 
The Departed (2006) 
Mob movies tend to bore me but this tension-filled crime thriller directed by Martin Scorsese was interesting and thrilling with its twist and turns.
 
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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #355: TMP Television Edition - TV Score and/or Theme Song



Hello there and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share movie 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 - TV Score and/or Theme Song

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This is one TMP that I've been highly anticipating. I love a good TV score/theme song so I went all out with my picks and separated them into three different types.
 

TV series Using Existing Music for their Theme Song
 
 
 
"California" opening theme song of The O.C. (2003 - 2007) 
♪ On the stereo • Listen as we go • Nothings gonna stop me now • California here we come • Right back where we started from ♫
The O.C. was one of the hottest Teen TV series back in the early to mid 2000s and the song California by Phantom Planet which was released a year before the TV series premiered was just perfect as its theme song. Also the music supervisor/s whose job it is to pick the music for this series did a great job with its soundtrack; selecting the best songs to complement the scenes it accompanies. I was introduced to a lot of songs and musicians that I would never have heard otherwise through watching the series.

 

"Red Right Hand" theme song of Peaky Blinders (2013 - )
Past the square, past the bridge • Past the mills, past the stacks • On a gathering storm comes • A tall handsome man • In a dusty black coat with •  A red right hand
Red Right Hand, a song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released in 1994, is the theme song of Peaky Blinders a TV series set in early 20th century that follows the exploits of a gang in Birmingham, England called the Peaky Blinders named so for the razor blades sewn in the peaks of their caps. The theme song really sets the tone of the series and this series is probably the only TV show I've seen that successfully marries contemporary rock music with its early 20th century setting.
 


"The Skye Boat Song" opening theme song of Outlander (2014 - )
Billow and breeze, islands and seas • Mountains of rain and sun • all that was good, all that was fair • All that was me is gone • Sing me a song of the lass that is gone • Say, could that lass be I?
The Skye Boat Song is a late 19th-century Scottish song with lyrics by an English baronet about the exiled Prince Charles Stuart. A few years later Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, wrote alternative lyrics to song. The Stevenson version is the one that is used by Outlander with its reference to "lad" changed to "lass" to fit the female protagonist of the TV show. It's sort of amazing how the lyrics fits so well with the story of Claire, the Outlander in the story, a WW2 nurse who while in Scotland got sucked into an opening of some time portal and is spat back out in 18th century Scotland. What is unique about the Outlander theme song is that it is slightly changed for each new season as Claire's story takes her around the world. In season 2 she goes to France and the song is partly sung in French. In season 3 she goes to Jamaica and the song has a more Caribbean island beat to it. In season 4 Claire goes to America and so the theme song has an American folk flavour while season 5 has the song sung by a choir of both female and male singers where before it has mostly been sung by one female singer. My favourite has remain the original season one theme song which kept its Scottish sound.
 
 
TV series with Original Music for their Theme Song
 
 

"Main Title" theme song of Game of Thrones (2011 - 2019)
I picked the Opening Title Sequence of Game of Thrones last month and this time I'm picking Game of Thrones again for its theme song. It is just great. Iconic. One of those theme songs like the ones for Star Wars and Harry Potter that really transports you into their imaginary worlds. 
 
 

"Main Title" theme song of Black Sails (2014 - 2017)
If you haven't seen the Opening Title Sequence of Black Sails, go do it now. It features a beautiful sculpture depicting pirate life in baroque, gothic and rococo style. It truly is a sight to behold. And the music...love love it. It is a standout with its unique sound; a tune that is gritty, rusty and sometimes sounding purposely a little out of tune to express the rough violent life of these pirates...you can almost picture weary 18th century pirates playing their well used musical instruments, that have been corroded by salty air, and singing some shanty.



"Container" opening theme song of The Affair (2014 - 2019)
I was screaming into the canyon at the moment of my death • The echo I created outlasted my last breath • My voice it made an avalanche and buried a man I never knew • And when he died his widowed bride met your daddy and they made you
I absolutely love this song which was specifically written and performed by Fiona Apple for The Affair. The song is very short, lasting only as long as the Opening Title Sequence making me wish Apple would release a more complete song. Anyway the TV series explores the effects of an affair on the two families involved which makes the song, while not about an affair but has a similar theme of reverberating consequence as it talks about the ongoing effects of an event - perfect for the series.
 
 
 
"I'm Just a Girl in Love" season two theme song of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015 - 2019)
I'm just a girl in love • I can't be held responsible for my actions • I have no underlying issues to address • I'm certifiably cute and adorably obsessed
Every season the musical series has a new theme song with a new Opening Title Sequence to go with it and they are always a lot of fun. This show really pushes itself creatively, which I love. My favourite of the show’s four opening theme songs is I'm Just a Girl in Love for season two.
 
 
Theme Songs and Scores of Period Drama Literary Adaptations
I enjoy watching period dramas series especially when they are adaptions. A lot of these dramas also have great original scores, here are some of my favourite tracks from them.
 
 

"I've Seen Hell" song from North and South (2004)
It's this beautiful and rather haunting instrumental that gives us a sense of the main female protagonist's loneliness and misery living in the city where she has seen the grim living and working conditions of factory workers.



Theme song of Persuasion (2007)
I love Persuasion. It is such a romantic tale of second chances and enduring love and this TV adaptation of it is just amazing. And theme song is just soooo beautiful and delicate; utterly swoon-worthy.
 
 

Main Title Theme song of Sense and Sensibility (2008)
Once again a beautiful sweeping instrumental this time transporting us to the Dashwood's cottage near the sea, one they reluctantly live in due to their reduced financial circumstance. 
 
 

Main Title Theme song of Little Dorrit (2008)
One of the more melancholic themes...Little Dorrit did not have great life. Anyway it is a great tune for a wonderful series. Claire Foy was just really good in this...I think even better than her performance in The Crown.
 
 

Main Title Theme song of Emma (2009)
I love this adaptation of Emma, it is funny and fun and it has one of the more upbeat period drama opening theme songs. It's a gorgeous and pretty joyous tune.
 
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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #354: Psychological Thriller



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 Psychological Thriller

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I enjoy psychological thrillers. It's fun trying to figure out which parts of the character's perceived reality is real and what is not. Here are three movies that I have enjoyed in the past:

Earthquake Bird (2019)
An expat in Japan, haunted by her dark past, is questioned about a missing friend who may have been involved with her boyfriend. I enjoyed this broody atmospheric thriller. The premise is great, set against the isolation and separateness of the unreliable protagonist, being a foreigner in a foreign land, who is trying to cope with her own dark past and as is now confronted by the recent disappearance of her friend; kept me guessing what really happened till the end.

Fractured (2019)
When a man's daughter hurts her arm at a highway rest stop, he and his wife brings her to the nearest hospital, where the wife accompanies the daughter to get an MRI only for them to both disappear and the hospital claiming no such persons ever checked in. This was a decent thriller that I thought totally plays on the whole hospital waiting room atmosphere that is steeped in anxiety; here the man frantically searches for his family and dealing with hospital staff he perceives as at best unhelpful, at worst hiding something nefarious. 

Trance (2013)
A fine arts auctioneer mixed up with some shady characters loses a painting they're trying to rob. Suffering from amnesia after a blow to the head he goes through hypnosis to recover his memories to find the painting. I remember liking this a lot. Unreliable narrator and hypnosis made this a fun twisty movie where we try to navigate what is real.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #353: Female Cinematographers


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 Female Cinematographers

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Today's theme is a suggestion from Brittani. Wow, today's theme is hard. I would say I usually never know who the cinematographer of a movie is. They're not usually one of those people who do the press junket to promote the movie, so they almost never end up on those little interview promo clips and often I think not even in the making of feature (when there used to be DVDs and I used to watch the features on them). So I basically had to go through films that I love or like and check if they had a female cinematographer. And even among those movies that I like that had a female cinematographer, I remembered the story or the performance more rather than how the movie actually looked like...so this week was super hard...so much so that I only made two picks.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2018)
Cinematography by Ellen Kuras. Love this movie, the whole movie has this melancholy and trippy manic look to it. This is especially so in the erasure scenes which just captures Joel's desperation to hold on to his memories.

Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
Cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen. While I don't love this movie I did enjoy it and I prefer this adaptation to the 1967 one because I like Mulligan's Bathsheba better, she is less silly, more mature. And of course the movie looks gorgeous. There were a lot of sweeping shots of the country side and the cliffs and the lingering glances between the love interests. One of the most beautiful scenes I thought was the one in the woods; there's a magical dreamy quality to that scene.
 
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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #352: Amateur Sleuths


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 Amateur Sleuths

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A few weeks ago we had the theme Police Detective. Then, some bloggers had confuse police detectives with private detectives; they are two different things. Now we have amateur sleuths. To be clear amateur sleuths are not police detectives (who are government employees) and they are also not private detectives (who works in the private sector and are required in most places to have a license issued by some government licensing authority before the can work as a private detective). In short, an amateur sleuth is just a regular person who has taken it upon themselves to investigate or solve something due to circumstance or curiosity. I thought this was going to be quite a hard theme, but I found five picks that I like quite easily.

The Lady Vanishes (1938)
A young bride-to-be, Iris, with the help of a fellow passenger searches for a middle aged woman whom she befriended on the train ride and who has suddenly gone missing; a woman no one else on the train remembers seeing. I saw this quite a long time ago and remember liking it. It's one I would like to see again.

Rear Window (1954)
Bored and home-bound due to a broken leg, a photographer spies on his neighbours from his window and begins to suspect one of them may have killed his wife. Unable to move himself, the photographer enlists his nurse and girlfriend to assist him in his sleuthing. Saw this again recently and I still enjoyed it.
 
Upgrade (2018)
Set in a tech obsessed near-future, Grey a mechanic who becomes a quadriplegic after an attack that also killed his wife, is offered a secret unapproved experimental operation where he receives a chip implant that allows him to regain his mobility. Disappointed that the police investigation of the attack that killed his wife hasn't gotten anywhere, now secretly mobile, he begins his own investigation. What starts of as just Grey trying to find information that he could pass to the police to "properly deal with the case" soon becomes a path of uncontrollable explosive revenge and the action I thought was very good, very sleek. I also really like the story; it is just a very good sci-fi action thriller. If you like dark futuristic Black Mirror-esque type of story, I highly recommend this.

Cold Pursuit (2019)
When a snow plow operator's son is killed by a drug lord, he tracks the gang members from the lowest associate, each time gaining information to get to someone higher up and slowly works his way up to the head for revenge. Neeson has really cornered the older-guy-with-specific-skills-action-thriller movie niche. And while I haven't seen most of his films in that niche...I think I only saw the first Taken...I really enjoyed Cold Pursuit. I came in expecting an action crime thriller but was pleasantly surprised that it is also dark comedy. I recommend this to those who like off-beat snow-filled crime dramas like Fargo and Blow the Man Down.

Enola Holmes (2020)
Sherlock Holmes' teen sister, Enola, sets off on her own to find her missing mother using what she thinks are clues left by her. I've picked this before for previous themes and it is here again because I really enjoyed and it's perfect for this week.
 
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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #351: Oscar Winners Edition: Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress



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 Oscar Winners Edition: Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress

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I'm picking the most recent winners that I like and it's a theme within a theme. Can you guess what it is?

 


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
 
Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Rockwell plays the immature, not-that-much-brain-cells and violent police officer who clashed with anyone to do with the billboards.  
 
J. K. Simmons in Whiplash (2014)
Not a fan of the movie; it was over the top and trying way too hard to shock us. Still I thought Simmons was good as the demanding and terrifying instructor.
 
Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008)
A meaty role and Ledger played it really well. If he had lived, maybe he would have gotten a spinoff movie.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
 
Allison Janney in I, Tonya (2017)
I, Tonya was a surprising gem for me, I really enjoyed it. Janney was great as Tonya Harding's mother, a hard working class woman who was emotionally and physically abusive towards her daughter.
 
Mo'Nique in Precious (2009)
I really like this movie which had a lot of good performances including Monique who also plays a bad abusive mother; another one up for worst mother ever.
 
Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton (2007)
Love this movie. Once again a lot of really great performances here including Swinton who plays the stressed and cold lawyer.

 
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