Netflix A-Z Double Feature: The Pill & Quartet

I know double features are a rarity in Netflix A-Z with the exception of Nymphomaniac Vol 1 & 2 ( review HERE). However, the season has been rather busy and I’ve been more obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls than actually watching movies. In fact, this one has a little cheating to it because the Q selection in general on Netflix is so tiny and I only wanted to watch something fun during the holiday season that I just decided to bring back the Q Selection.

Let’s start this.

The Pill (2011)

The Pill

Director and writer: J.C. Khoury

Cast: Noah Bean, Rachel Boston, Anna Chlumsky, Jean Brassard, Al Thompson, Dreama Walker

Worried that he has gotten the free-spirited Mindy pregnant after an unprotected one-night stand, Fred feigns romantic interest and sticks by her side for twelve hours to make sure she takes both doses of the morning-after pill. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint how I feel about The Pill. Its something I’ve been saying recently. Its more of an indifferent feeling that I have after watching it. While The Pill has a few rather nice moments, there is also something that lacks believability in it. Let’s break it down a little. For starters, Rachel Boston is fantastic as always as the free-spirited Mindy. Mindy is an intriguing character mostly because there’s a lot of color to her life as we learn about her during the day that she has to take her morning after pills in the company of Fred, played by Noah Bean. On the other hand, the issue I had more was that I didn’t think that Fred was a likable character. In fact, I wanted Mindy to see through his lies especially as he manipulated his way into staying with her during the day while the audience could easily see his intentions was only for his own protection to not have to deal with consequences. However, the story is more about him and his growth and recognition of what to do and what he wanted more than it was about Mindy. Perhaps this is where I think that the way it ended wasn’t necessary because it made the story feel much more generic than it may have been without that ending.

The Pill

There isn’t really much to talk about for The Pill. Its a rather straight forward story and somewhat predictable where its a boy meets girl, one night stand, a day together to get to know each other (probably more than expected from family party, etc.) and then he falls for her, she realizes what he’s been doing and he leaves and realizes how much of it was a mistake. A story like this can only be powered by charming characters and in reality, other than Mindy and at the start, the character felt a little off, Fred and especially his actual girlfriend Nelly was a little unbearable to watch. It helped as the movie went along that we saw Fred and his personality but it was hard to be sympathetic for him or feel like cheering him on. For me, The Pill just didn’t connect the way that it was intended.

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. – IMDB

[Excerpts from review that I wrote in 2015. Full review HERE]

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.

Netflix A-Z: Quartet (2012)

We’re done Halloween and we’re in NaNoWriMo BUT it doesn’t mean I don’t get down time to relax. So, we might need to revamp the list because I need to stick with anything that doesn’t give me ideas for the story.  I like to keep anything too wildly creative during NaNoWriMo away just so I know that its my own original idea and plotline. Either way, first up is this one.  Its actually perfect for NaNoWriMo since its pretty much relaxing classical opera/music sort of thing. With its older and pretty talented cast, I’m looking forward to it!

Let’s check it out!

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.-IMDB

There’s something really beautiful about Quartet that I can’t describe.  It might be the classical music and opera and all that sort of balance in the background that circles are the various cast members. While the story is about mending a damaged marriage and relationship that parted many years ago between Jean and Reggie, it was also about the energy of the retirement house and the passion for an art no matter how old you are.  There are some moments that are done so well and the script is done with such artful delicacy to give even the  supporting characters so much importance to push the story even more fun to watch.  Its even better when the credits roll and we get young performing pictures next to the supporting cast members that were actually part of real live showings in theatres for various pieces.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.

Quartet

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Overall, I’d definitely give Quartet a regular viewing, if not for the cast but for the music itself.  I guess it might interest me more because I study classical pieces for my theory exams to wrap up my piano certificate.  I’ve never been a huge fan of opera but this one has some really lovely pieces that aren’t just opera but there is some really fun variety to it.  Its a fun time with a charming cast and its worth every minute of your time. I know its not perfect when it ended but then it doesn’t have to be because I left this one with a big smile on my face and that is what matters in movies, an enjoyable film experience.

Have you seen Quartet? Did you enjoy it? 

We’re back so you know what my question is next:
What do you think is the R choice? Hint: Romance/Drama

TV Binge: Downton Abbey (Season 1)

So…umm…I’m going to be absolutely honest and say that my intention was to watch Bates Motel but we ran out of Hong Kong series to watch for dinner last week so I chromecasted Downton Abbey because its more gentle than Bates Motel so my mom wouldn’t be grossed out and wonder what I was watching in my spare time.  I may be 28 but my mom’s judgement still has an effect on me.  Its a little sad (and pathetic).  Regardless, I started Downton Abbey and the binge starts….

Honestly, its a little bad timing because I’m reading Pride and Prejudice at the same time and I’m starting to think its making me mix up the story.  Thank goodness, its my second time reading Pride and Prejudice 😉

DOWNTON ABBEY (Season 1)

downton abbey

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Joanna Froggatt, Maggie Smith

(There’s a ton of other actors and actresses in the cast)

 We enter Downton Abbey right after the unsinkable Titanic has sunk, taking the lives of the heir for Downton Abbey of Robert Crawley, putting his eldest daughter’s future suddenly into jeopardy as their money goes now to the next male relative. Much to the reluctance of the ladies and less to Robert Crawley, they ask Matthew Crawley and his mother, a distant and unknown cousin to prepare for his position as the heir, even though he isn’t quite fond of this new position either.  While the lords and ladies accustom themselves to this predicament, the servants of the household also struggle with their own issue: trying to pursue a better future, move on top and deal with their own issues.

downton abbey

I love series set in the olden days with elegant language and clothes and style.  Its just all around a pleasure to watch.  Its probably why I love the whole Jane Austen thing and a ton of classics adaptations.  Downton Abbey is in a league of its own.  When it first started, it reminded me a little of the Hong Kong TV dramas set in the ancient China times because other than the location and setup being different, it focuses on the main family and their heir and there’s also the servants that always stir shit up.  Sorry for using such inelegant language for this review but I really don’t know how else to say it.  But, with this situation, it puts an emphasis on whether the “villainous” ones are so horribly bad that they elevate the problem.  Downton Abbey has a really good control and balance of these moments and thats probably why I liked it quite a bit.

downton abbey Season 1

There is a few more specific reasons as to why I like Downton Abbey and this is completely focused on what I’ve seen on Season 1. One of the reasons is the cast and characters themselves are so good.

For one, Dan Stevens (before The Guest) still very cute.  Not quite as attractive manly but Matthew Crawley is just such a sophisticated character, especially compared to and playing this role across from a character like Mary Crawley, who doesn’t quite know what she wants but has an extremely competitive and stubborn nature.  Whether you want Mary and Matthew to be together or not in Season 1 (I know a ton of you are way further), the chemistry they build is pretty good.

And the pairings don’t stop at that. The characters are believable together because they cover for each other’s faults.  Just like Earl of Crawley and his wife, Cora or with the servants, Bates and Anna.  There are secrets and mysteries while watching the relationship grow as days turn into months that go by.

downton Abbey season 1 Another thing that I love was Maggie Smith as Countess Dowager.  That question up there made me laugh a lot and she has a ton of these little one liners that just crack me up.  At the same time, this also shows the transition of how Matthew Crawley’s arrival creates a lot of character development not only for him but everyone else as they adjust to his city life and independent commoner lifestyle.  Another thing this does, is that the feud between old women are funny, especially with Countess Dowager and Matthew’s mother.

Downtown Abbey Season 1

Downton Abbey wouldn’t be as fun to watch if it wasn’t for these two up there, O’Brien and Thomas (exclude the girl in the gif, I just liked this scene). They cause a whole lot of crap to go down with the servants and they are responsible for a lot of rumors floating about as well.  You know they did a fantastic job as ridiculous human beings when as the series progressed, I increasingly wanted to slap them in the face when they were scheming, especially when it was against Bates (played by Brendan Coyle, who I loved in North and South).

downton abbey season 1

Aside from that, this brings up the whole heir thing looming over everyone’s heads, while having a bit of the sibling rivalry between the daughters and the servants, especially O’Brien and Thomas trying to keep their positions secured, or Bates trying to keep a secret while attempting to resist his affections for Anna (also a character I love).  There’s the clueless manipulation of the simpler characters as well and the clash of opinions and beliefs.  There’s a lot going on in Downton Abbey but it never becomes overwhelming because it flows so well over the 7 episodes in Season 1.

With a beautiful set, charming (and at times evil) characters, lovely costume designs and a intriguing and compelling story mixed with romance, family and power, there’s a lot of great moments in Downton Abbey in Season 1.   A great start for this series and I can see why its still going on.  Plus, the ending of Season 1 pretty much opened up the plot to go into some more intense territory.  I’m looking forward to binging Season 2! 🙂

Have you seen Downton Abbey? What are your thoughts? Are you up to date with it?