Valentine’s Double Feature: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (2017) & How Do You Know (2010)

We are going along quite nice as we reach the 4th Valentine’s Double Feature. This time we’re at the G and H selection and both are very much choices out of the left field. Sometimes, these choices that show up like this are full of surprises. I’m going into this with a lot of optimism even though one of the two don’t seem to have good reviews.

Lets check it out!

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (2017)

guernsey literary

Director: Mike Newell

Cast: Lily James, Michael Huisman, Glen Powell, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Penelope Wilton

In the aftermath of World War II, a writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war. – IMDB

I love period dramas. They really are incredibly fantastic to watch. With an odd title like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, its hard to really grasp how to take this movie (adapted from a novel). The movie does a great job and setting up how the society started right at the beginning with the World War II and the serious tone in that. I think what works here is that its more a drama with a bigger story than the romance as Lily James’ character Juliet finds out more about their story and the pains that WWII has brought for them as well as Guernsey.

However, looming in the background is a wonderful love story. One that starts with someone who reaches out to someone else with the same passion and finding where you belong . In many ways, Juliet had a past that isn’t delved into too much but enough for the viewers to figure out what she wants is a place that feels secure and belongs: a family and while its about her finding it in like-minded people in the Society, she also learns that from her interaction with Michael Huisman’s Dawsey. They have so much natural chemistry together and there weren’t even any romantic gestures and that is why I love period dramas which have a lot of things written between the lines and its so classy and elegant to watch.

On an ending note, as Michael Huisman pops up on more things I am watching, I am starting to find him more and more charming especially with the roles he takes.

How Do You Know (2010)

how do you know

Director (and writer): James L. Brooks

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn

After being cut from the U.S.A. softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau. – IMDB

How Do You Know is a rather split one. On one hand, I liked it a lot for the characters but on the other hand, the story itself and the execution had its obvious issues which made it really weak. For once in this marathon, I have to say that the characters here all had their roles that worked for them, especially the main leads Reese Witherspoon and especially Paul Rudd.

I’ll jump straight into talking about the characters because it is one of the points that worked here. Can I say that Paul Rudd is a great actor? He always makes an average movie better. In this case, his character George is the one that works the best especially because of how awkward he is and somehow that works well with Reese Witherspoon’s character Lisa who doesn’t really know what and where she should be after she pretty much loses her career when she is cut from the team and its these two’s difficulties that bring them together because it brings out the essence of how they can be themselves with each other and accept each other without any pretending and how honest they are at the get-go.

Of course, the cast here has its weak links. Owen Wilson is always a hit and miss actor for me and in this one, I think I just hated the character that he played, rather than the interpretation. Anyone playing that role wouldn’t have sat well with me because in the end, the story didn’t quite hinge on him and if its to say that the character Matty is in love, its not easy to link it to the story. In that sense, it reminds me of a previous movie I watched in this marathon, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Aside from that, we also get Jack Nicholson who plays George’s father who supposedly is in denial. Jack Nicholson, well, he’s Jack Nicholson. He brings a lot to his character which only has a very little part but in some ways, its the lingering presence of the father and son relationship here that is highlighted.

Talking about that, this hinges on the last point I want to make about How Do You Know which was a turning point for me. While this one has some great moments between Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon and how their love built through something like acquaintances and friends through hardships and the support they have for each other which just worked along with the honesty and it works really well between them. Its the added aspect of all these hardships and other relationships from father and son relationship that adds new angles and dimensions but not too much that it feel disposable although sometimes it did feel a little disjointed. However, at the end of the day, this one is alright.

That’s it for this double feature!
Looking at two random choices for the G and H selection which both had its own charm!
Have you seen these movies? What did you think of them?

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Halloween 2018: TV Binge: The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1, 2018)

We are back with the horror marathon continuation. Some of you know that I am a huge Mike Flanagan fan. I think that he has a lot of skills as a director and delivers some great atmospheric horror. When I saw that The Haunting of Hill House is created by Mike Flanagan, it went to the top of the pile right away. And here we are…

The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1, 2018)

the haunting of hill house

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Michael Huisman, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel, Carla Gugino, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Victoria Pedretti

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. – IMDB

The Haunting of Hill House is adapted from a book which I haven’t read before so no comparison from me on how closely or loosely adapted it is. However, as many great reviews as there are out there, there were some pacing issues here. Some scenes were drawn out but I won’t get into which to keep this spoiler free. If you disagree, you can send me an email and I will tell you which and you can tell me why I am wrong. One of my biggest comments about almost all Netflix series is pacing, it always has his first half slow development and halfway point has this turning climactic point that changes the game then the second half of the series is mindblowingly awesome. Same applies here. Pacing doesn’t equate execution completely because in terms of creepy and atmosphere, this one delivers them in great beautiful haunting degrees and while there are some jump scares, they have this lingering effect. I say this because I had one scene that startled me and I had a delay in reaction from screaming really loud because I was terrified.

the haunting of hill house

As much as I think the pacing for the first half doesn’t match the second half, I can’t exactly dismiss it either because it gave us a one on one time with each of the Crain kids and their views on Hill House but more importantly, their personality and relationship with each other. It told us a story from each of their lives and we can see the impact that their childhood at Hill House had on them as we alternated masterfully between the flashbacks to the present. Its this part that subconsciously gives the connection to the characters. Of course, some of the stories are stronger than the other ones but thinking back, it fits together with the end game. Talking about character, Hill House is a character by itself. The layout and the decor to its past and its previous inhabitants. There is a lot of mystery behind it.

the haunting of hill house

As much as I felt that I am not as excited about The Haunting of Hill House as everyone else seems to be, Mike Flanagan does deliver on the atmosphere and giving legit jumpscares that were effective and fitting. This series is in its details. The ghosts are probably more than you can see unless you observe really carefully. However, the feeling that something is lurking or something doesn’t feel right or how the ghosts appear are all done really well.