Disney+’s Star is launching next week and serving us Europeans up a bunch of new content. Though I’m very excited to finally see Atlanta, Alias and Ugly Betty, I’m even more excited about the return of the Touchstone Movies and 20th Century Studios movies I watched during the summers of 1999 – 2003.
The ones I used to cycle to the video rental shop, carefully curate a film with my friends and then watch while enjoying homemade popcorn with melted M&Ms.
Some of these have become classics and others are just a perfect Friday evening film that needs to be re-watched.
Anywhere But Here
Summary: A mother and daughter search for success in Beverly Hills.
Tea’s Thought: Is this Gilmore Girls before we had Gilmore Girls? All I recall is Susan Sarandon’s cutest outfits and I’m sure I’ll be searching on how to buy them when I rewatch.
Summary: Two women are arrested for smuggling while vacationing in Thailand.
Tea’s Thought: This one shook me in many ways, and I’m even surprised I started to travel. I need to see if the situation they ended up in is as bad as I have in mind.
Summary: At Pacific Palisades High, a poor Latino falls hard for a troubled girl from an affluent neighbourhood.
Tea’s Thought: I’m not sure if I actually saw this film in the end or if I just saw all the Tumblr GIFs. Either way, I’ll be rewatching this and then trying to find some other classics of Kirsten Dunst.
Drive Me Crazy
Summary: Nicole and Chase used to be BFFs, then junior high happened. The high school centennial dance is coming, but Nicole gets dumped. So does Chase. They stage a relationship to get back at their exes. They visit each other’s worlds. Love in the air?
Tea’s Thought: Britney Spears vouched for this one, so it had to be good. If I remember correctly this one was rented out for ages, and you had to go on a waiting list. I don’t recall much. Did they really work at a diner? Does Britney have a cameo? I will need to prioritise this.
Here On Earth
Summary: A rich college kid is taught a lesson after a joy ride ends up destroying a country restaurant.
Tea’s Thought: I’m not sure if I’ve actually seen this one as there was that one summer that was just one big Josh Hartnett marathon and they literally all merge into one. Except The Faculty – now that is a classic.
Kissing Jessica Stein
Summary: A woman searching for the perfect man instead discovers the perfect woman.
Tea’s Thought: This was such an adult pick and I feel I missed out on a lot, including the fact Jon Hamm was in it, I have no memories of him so will need to refresh.
Summary: The extracurricular king of Rushmore Preparatory School is put on academic probation.
Tea’s Thought: I was in awe from the first second, and it has continued to be my favourite Anderson film: from the first time we see Max Fisher to the Yearbook Montage and the theatre performance at the end. Most of the Wes Anderson films are going to be on Star and though I own his collection on DVD I’m sure I’ll be rewatching them
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
Summary: Shakespeare’s famous play is updated to the hip modern suburb of Verona while still retaining its original dialogue.
Tea’s Thought: I’m a bit afraid to re-watch this one as I can’t imagine it being the mind blowing film I saw as a 12 year old.
If you were one of the 60+ million people who binge-watched Bridgerton on Netflix, you may find yourself dreaming about afternoon teas in lush drawing rooms, promenades in the park and showing your moves on the ballroom floor. The good news is…you can do a lot those things in London (once all of this passes obviously)
At the start of the year I wanted to challenge myself to watch more films directed by women. And with a total of 30 movies I think I did a good job and I thought I’d share some of my favourite films from female directors – ranging from rom-coms to horror and coming of age.
Summary: In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a competition offers her a chance to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime.
Tea’s Thought: I live for coming of age movies and loved this entertaining and charming movie that is perfect for a Friday evening or lazy Sunday afternoon.
Can You Keep A Secret?
Summary: Thinking they’re about to crash, Emma spills her secrets to a stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger…Until she later meets Jack, her company’s young CEO, who now knows every humiliating detail about her. Based on the blockbuster NYT bestseller.
Tea’s Thought: Predictable? From the first minute! Cliché? Oh, yeah! Have I seen better rom-coms? Also yes. But sometimes you just need an old-fashioned romcom and for those moments Can You Keep A Secret is the answer.
Summary: Alice, a single mother, is a dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. Against company policy, she takes one home as a gift for her teenage son and names it after him but soon starts fearing it.
Tea’s Thought: A sci-fi horror that has the best colour palette I’ve seen in a while. Also, I’m never looking at my house plants in the same way.
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Summary: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.
Tea’s Thought: Probably the best DC superhero film out there! When it comes to translating comics to the big screen Bird of Prey has it all: vivid, over the top and a great sense of humour.
Summary: A searing look at a day in the life of an assistant to a powerful executive. As Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the insidious abuse that threatens every aspect of her position.
Tea’s Thought: It honestly could have been a documentary following the #MeToo movement. It’s slow … very slow, so might not be for everyone, but I liked it.
Summary: A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.
Tea’s Thought: An atmospheric slowburn thriller that’s best enjoyed on a cold, dark winter’s night with a blanket to hide behind.
Summary: Set to a new wave ’80s soundtrack, a pair of young lovers from different backgrounds defy their parents and friends to stay together.
Tea’s Thought: For someone who doesn’t like musicals I really enjoyed this film and the soundtrack and would probably watch it again.
Summary: A young teenage girl finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother after being abandoned by their single mother with no choice but to live out on the streets.
Tea’s Thought: Another coming of age that I loved! And great to see East London on film. It was surprising how they kept the end of the film raw.
Summary: The crew of a West of Ireland trawler, marooned at sea, struggle for their lives against a growing parasite in their water supply.
Tea’s Thought: Yes, the third horror / thriller on my list, but women seem to own the horror genre now so better start supporting them.
The Break Upperers
Summary: For the right price, BFFs Jen and Mel will ruthlessly end any romance. But when one grows a conscience, it threatens to derail their relationship.
Tea’s Thought: I wish they focused more on the break up scenes, but I loved the humour, the characters and the finale.
Summary: A 17-year old Missouri teen named Veronica discovers she has gotten pregnant, a development that threatens to end her dreams of matriculating at an Ivy League college, and the career that will follow.
Tea’s Thought: You can’t have enough buddy road trip movies and this one did a great job. In terms of female buddy films I enjoyed this one more than last year’s Booksmart.
As I mentioned before, the month of October has always been about the BFI London Film Festival for me: waiting for the programme announcement and finding the gems, trying to put together a schedule where screenings didn’t clash and then dashing from cinema to cinema to make it on time.
This year, the festival took place online and physically, which had one big plus side: everyone in the UK got a chance to see all the films as well. The thing with a lot of the films that are screened at festivals is that they never make it to the cinemas or get a big release, so it can be the only chance to catch them ever.
A few weeks before the festival you could buy tickets for selected time slots and then add it on to the BFI player – the Video on Demand streamer for the London Film Festival. On the day itself you had to press ‘play’ within one hour and after that you usually would have 12 hours to finish watching it.
It sounded ideal, but the downside was that some films are just meant to be seen in the cinema and that definitely showed with a few of them, and of course, I was hit by the lack of good popcorn, my homemade batch was just not as salty.
I must admit I did miss the post film discussion where you hear everyone excitedly chatting about the film, though this is kind of replicated on social media. On top of that, it was a shame to miss the big promotions, red carpets and posters everywhere, plus the slim chance you might bump into a director or star in Soho or in the cinema foyer.
However, online, booking tickets was so much easier, there was a higher chance of actually getting tickets for the films you wanted to see, and the schedule meant I didn’t have to take off as much time off from work to catch everything I wanted. So it was a bit of a mixed bag.
I watched a total of 11 carefully picked films and I can recommend the below 9 to everyone.
Limbo – A brutal but also comedic movie about a Syrian musician waiting out his asylum request on a remote Scottish island.
One Night In Miami – One Night in Miami is a fictional account of one night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered to discuss their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s. Really inspiring performances all mainly set in one motel room.
Druk – A thought-provoking drama that asks if a regular tipple is the key to unlocking the best version of yourself. One of those movies I needed. The final scene has been one of my favourites in a long long time.
Kajillionaire – A quirky family of unusually creative grifters try to scam the system in Miranda July’s deadpan, offbeat love story.
Stray – This charming documentary shows life on the streets of Istanbul from the lowdown perspective of its stray dogs.
Mogul Mowgli – Riz Ahmed plays a British-Pakistani rapper spiralling out of control when, on the cusp of success, he succumbs to a debilitating illness.
Supernova – Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci shine as a long-term couple dealing with the onset of illness in this warm and tender drama. I was expecting a very different film so it hit me extra hard.
Mangrove – Steve McQueen’s rousing tale of Black solidarity and resistance brings a seminal moment in British history into sharp focus.
Wolfwalkers – The sweet and emotional story of a young apprentice hunter in the 1600s who’s torn between the real world of her hunter father and the magical spiritual forests home to a tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night.
As quite a lot of the festivals have gone virtual, chances are some of the above films will come to a screen in your house where you can watch them from the comfort of your own couch. Most of them will be geo blocked so make sure to Google to find the best one near you.
DOK Leipzig, Germany
Dates: October 26 – November 1
What I’d watch: Children, Downstream to Kinshasa
Raindance Film Festival, UK
Dates: October 28 – November 7
What I’d watch: Nafi’s Father, Force of Habit
Leiden International Film Festival, Netherlands
Dates: October 29 – 8 November
What I’d watch: Holler, The Macaluso Sisters
London Korean Film Festival, UK
Dates: October 29 – November 12
What I’d watch: Bori, Pawn
IDFA – International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dates: November 18 – December 6
What I’d watch: The Fog of Srebrenica, Flower Punk
Anderson has a special place in my heart. His distinctive visual style, with complementary colour palettes and symmetrical framing makes his movies a treat for the eye and not to mention Instagram worthy. And thanks to #accidentallywesanderson we can find thousands of curated images of places that look like they could be a screengrab from one of his many films. Think a mustard yellow lighthouse, a pastel orange store front or a bright pink bowling alley, to name but a few.
I have too often shouted ‘that’s so Wes Anderson!’ when spotting something that could be a backdrop in one of his movies. And today I’m sharing some real places in London whose colour palette or even fonts could be straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.
Remember how a few months ago everyone wrote about the travel movies to get you through lockdown? The below movies are far from the ones you usually find on best travel movie lists and they for sure couldn’t cure my wanderlust, but they did transport me to other places for a bit.
Summary – A documentary about the last female bee-hunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomads invade her land and threaten her livelihood.
The fairytale-like landscape combined with the raw living circumstances make this documentary heartbreaking to watch. Every movie set in the Balkans is a way for me to travel back home and this made me reminisce and think about my little hill and though they are usually happy memories, Honeyland did make me think about who will take care of the elderly now the majority of the younger people moved out.
Summary – In 1950s New York, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.
I do love a slow movie, so Motherless Brooklyn was right up my alley! Especially since it transported me back to 1950s Brooklyn and the fashion, music and cars that came with it.
Summary – A young, naive boy sets out alone on the road to find his wayward mother. Soon he finds an unlikely protector in a crotchety man and the two have a series of unexpected adventures along the way.
Kikujiro is the perfect road trip movie with a great soundtrack and atmospheric shots. For some reason the intro scene brought back old summer holiday memories. Not that I ever had an older man accompany me to go and find my mother, but the scenes where on the first day of summer holiday the boy goes to football practice and learns it has been cancelled, then goes to his friend’s house, who is leaving to go on actual holiday.
Summary – In 1800s England, a well meaning but selfish young woman meddles in the love lives of her friends.
I wanted this adaptation of Emma to be the next Marie Antoinette so so bad, but it did not do it for me. Despite the pastel colour palette and sharp edits it was still too dusty for my liking. What I did enjoy were the glimpses inside the manors that I, under normal circumstances, love to visit. I for sure will attend Kingston Bagpuize House, Wilton House and Firle Place sometime in the future.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Summary – Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.
You can’t go wrong with Fast & Furious on a lazy Sunday. Also, can we give it up for having a main woman not needing to actually get saved and kick ass herself? Hobbs & Shaw travel to a number of locations including Samoa and Russia, and though most of the exterior scenes were filmed in Glasgow, there were a few shots of London. Seeing Central London and the its skyline made my heart jump a bit.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Summary – Lizzie McGuire has graduated from middle school and takes a trip to Rome, Italy with her class. And what was supposed to be only a normal trip, becomes a teenager’s dream come true.
I’ve never made it to Rome (I’ve done Tuscany), but I definitely hope they do a Lizzie McGuire-inspired tour there, because I’d be booking that for sure.
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