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Second week done with plenty of gatherings and a TVB drama review for ‘Destination Nowhere’ (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by vincentloy

First week of the semester is considered a happy-go-lucky week as no one would like to start on the assignments on the first week itself. Now, even the second week is gone and there is no more time to be wasted anymore. There are several submissions coming very soon already and I’m way not prepared yet. I did do my work, but 24 hours a day is just not enough. I’m not on track in my progress in all the units this semester. Well, I took that off my mind for a while first to enjoy this weekend.

Last Friday, I get back to the court to play badminton with my friends for about 3 hours. That was after a very stressful design studio with nothing from my part to show to the lecturers and I don’t really get what they want with their super-hard-to-understand words. It’s good to be back playing badminton after several months of not playing it already, and unfortunately, my badminton skill has not improve. The gathering did not stop there as we went for some snack and drink after that. Then, yesterday evening, we had another gathering in a friend’s house to enjoy the potluck dinner as well as to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Several hours later, I will heading out with my housemate to watch a movie. So many activities, and hence, not much time to focus on my assignments. Well, I will promise to myself to concentrate on my study from tomorrow onward.

Recently, I finished watching another TVB drama. It’s ‘Destination Nowhere’ (迷), a Hong Kong drama about a female news reporter who get caught up in the problematic collusion scheme between government official and businesses. All the hardship she faced has lead to her to be forced to become cunning and evil especially after the murder of her daughter. Those complicated cases that were actually linked to one another were then investigated by a police inspector who later felt in love with the female news reporter. This 30-episodes series starred Kevin Cheng, Kristal Tin, James Ng, King Kong Lee, Winki Lai, etc.

The plot is very interesting but there are several obvious plot holes that ruin the logic of the story in some major parts. The main cast, Kevin Cheng and Kristal Tin only get to bump onto each other in the very later stage of the series. I’m fascinated by the director’s decision to show them crossing over but not knowing each other in many occasions in earlier episodes but that were taking too many episodes. Once they knew each other, their relationship builds up too quickly. It’s a fresh thing to see this new pairing between Kevin and Kristal by the way. Their acting in this drama were also top notch especially Kristal. I’m stunned yet by another groundbreaking performance by Kristal. Her character is a very challenging one that requires execution of variety of emotions. She has a role that has to show the innocent side, leadership side, crying side, and cunning side all in one drama. She nailed it. There were time when I was sleepy and not paying attention while watching new episode of this drama on late night, and then, I immediately paid attention and went fully awake by her performance. I don’t mind giving her another best actress award but it is too early to tell right now since awards season is at the end of the year. This drama is being shown too early in the year and will be usually forgotten by the time awards season come. Other cast also did good job such as James Ng (still don’t like his face and his crying is too ugly to watch) and Winki Lai. Even the bad guy portraying ‘Wat Dee’ is putting on a very good performance. I don’t know his name but I pity him for always portraying bad guy in TVB dramas. He has the bad-guy look.

Overall, this drama is nice to watch. It is all good due to the amazing performances by the cast. Their acting kept me not wanting to leave my seat watching every episodes of this drama. There is also a good amount of suspense and dramatic moments throughout the whole series to keep engaging the viewers. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Destination Nowhere’ a total of 7.5.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

TVB drama review: Burning Hands (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2017 by vincentloy

‘Burning Hands’ (乘勝狙擊) is a 2017 Hong Kong drama by TVB that revolves on a team of con-artists and illusionists who are hired by a casino tycoon to find the mastermind behind his casino’s embezzled funds. But the leader of the gang, Chak Koon-yat, has his own reasons for helping the mogul. Things then lead to unexpected development of conflict, betrayal, friendship and hardship to the characters. This 28-episodes drama starred Ruco Chan, Joel Chan, Rosina Lam, Pal Sinn, Kelly Fu, Rebecca Chan, Hugo Wong, Hugo Ng, etc.

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This drama is the best TVB drama so far for this first quarter of the year. Having casino as the main theme drives the plot to an interesting direction. It is at least a fresh take on a TVB drama that usually goes with typical occupation themes like doctor, lawyer, or police. Now, it all revolves mainly on a group of con-artists and businessmen. On top of that, the many tricks executed by the characters in the series to excel in their missions are exciting to watch and had me looking forward to watch every episodes. The series also explores into friendship value between friends and business partners as well as love relationship between the young as well as the old couples (surprisingly nice to see the pairing of Pal Sinn with Rebecca Chan).

Ruco Chan is as usual being great in his roles and this one is not an exception. As the leader of his gang, he put in a lot of energy and passion to act the best out of that character and he nailed it. Joel Chan is also convincing as the main villain, a person that nobody expects would turn this bad from the earlier episodes. TVB should give more good roles to Joel and I look forward to him getting some recognition soon. Rosina Lam on the other hand is not doing well. Her expressions were limited and it looks like she couldn’t concentrate on her role here. Also not performing well are the actors acting as his brother and father in this series. The other cast are fine especially the veterans like Hugo Ng, Pal Sinn and Rebecca Chan. Hugo Ng is making a huge comeback last year from his role in ‘Brother’s Keeper II’ and he is great as the other villain in this story too.

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One good thing for this drama is that it delivered quite a number of suspense. There are a lot of plot twists especially near the end of the series when things really get intense and literally mad when the villains are ‘betting’ all out to succeed. That was good. The very final scene of the last episode of this drama I had just finished watching revealed to us that Joel survived the bullet, imprisoned, having mental problem and showing to us a deck card of ‘2’. What a cool way of hinting to us that there may be a sequel that continues from this concluded story. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Burning Hands’ a total of 7.5.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

TVB Drama review: Recipes to Live By (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by vincentloy

‘Recipes to Live By’ (味想天開) is a 2017 historical comedy drama from Hong Kong by TVB with food as the theme. Having 25 episodes, the story centers on Ding Yat-san, a poor village boy who is a foodie and has a ‘golden tongue’ (can identify all ingredients in a tasted food) and later discovered that he is the son of the God of Cookery. He then investigates the past accusation against his father that got him killed. The drama starred Tony Hung, Sisley Choi, Rebecca Zhu, Hugo Wong, Ram Chiang, Mary Hon, Stephanie Ho, Toby Leung, Maria Cordero, etc.

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It has been such a long time since TVB last produced a series with food as the theme. Hence, this one got me interested eventhough I’m not that satisfied with the cast. With food as the theme, I’m expecting to see a lot of nice dishes, tricks and cooking competitions throughout the series. Yes, I do see them in this drama but they are not exciting as hoped. The story then swifts to many other directions to cover other smaller plots. That is necessary to keep the series going with more things to catch up. However, the excessive use of plot twists especially near the end of the series which are supposed to make the drama more exciting to watch turned out to be quite anti-climatic. They also forcefully put in too many unnecessarily tragic, ‘misunderstanding’ and ‘curse effect’ storyline to the characters in this drama. I’m annoyed when they are too many. Anyway, overall, the drama still has a decent storyline that goes back to the food theme.

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As for the cast and their performances, my expectation is right. Tony Hung is not a good actor and giving him the first male lead role here is a bad decision. There is still much for him to learn in acting. I think he did his best but there is something not right to his expression. Similar issue goes to the first female lead that goes to Sisley Choi. However, I find that she has at least improved. Anyway, I just don’t like her for being too thin and tiny, and having a sharp voice. Just not the right person for a leading lady role. Rebecca Zhu and Hugo Wong are both great in their supporting roles (or I shall say second leading roles). I hardly notice Hugo in the past but after seeing this and also in ‘Burning Hands’ where he is also involved, I think he is one underrated actor. Other veteran cast are great and I wish to highlight on Lee Kwok-lun who portrayed the main villain here. He is one excellent actor and is especially good in taking on bad roles. TVB should honours him with at least a professionalism or a supporting actor award soon.

This drama is worth to watch when you have nothing else to do. It is not a great series but still good enough with some comedic, touching and suspenseful moments. The only problem is the leading cast (Tony and Sisley). Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Recipes to Live By’ a total of 7.0.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

 

Movie review for ‘Jackie’ (2016), and have you heard of Razzies?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2017 by vincentloy

‘Jackie’ is the last Oscar-type films of 2016 that I watched before the announcement for the nomination list of the 89th Academy Awards later on. ‘Jackie’ is a biographical drama film that starred Natalie Portman as the titular character, following her life after the 1963 assassination of her husband John F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy was famously known to be the fourth and the last President of the United States to be murdered while still in office. And on the other hand, nothing much have been known about his wife, Jackie Kennedy, the First Lady before, during and after the infamous assassination. I’m interested to know more on that, and so, I’m interested to watch this movie.

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The other reason I watched ‘Jackie’ is also because I’m amazed by Natalie Portman’s scenes in the movie trailer alone. She is one great actress and I love her since her award-winning performance in ‘Black Swan’ several years ago. I already sense huge Oscar feel to her performance just by watching the trailer. And after watching the whole movie just now, I have no doubt that her performance here will land her another best actress nomination in the Oscars and I don’t mind her winning it again too. She is phenomenal as Jackie. The whole movie is seriously focusing on her with many close-up scenes of her face (though I find it unnecessarily too much at some point) to show her emotions and expressions in dealing with all the issues after her husband’s shocking death. She not only mastered that, but also nailed the accent and posture that the real Jackie Kennedy had. She put in a lot of effort in this role and she delivered. The only imperfection is that her face didn’t resemble Jackie Kennedy’s face at all.

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Peter Sarsgaard is solid for his supporting role as Robert, the younger brother of John F. Kennedy in this movie. An unknown Danish actor who portrayed John F. Kennedy in this movie shocked me because his face really resembles closely to the late President himself. While watching the movie, it was really as though John F. Kennedy himself was in there. The costumes are great, the production design is excellent, and the way they used old recordings of Jackie’s introduction to the interiors of the White House and putting in the same scenes in the movie with Natalie Portman as replacement is commendable. As for the story and its editing, they are just average. The overall feel is a bit bored and plain (like too many scenes of Natalie walking around in the White House). There is no greatness in this film besides than Natalie Portman. But she faces strong competition from Emma Stone and Isabelle Hupert for the Oscar trophy for best actress next month. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Jackie’ a total of 7.1. This kind of movies makes me wanted to do a quick online research on the real information behind such historical events.

On the other hand, have you heard of Razzies? It is a name for the Golden Raspberry Awards, an annual awards presented to honour not the best, but the worst films. It’s like the total opposite of the Oscars. I guess many of you do not know of such existence. It even has its nomination list for the worst for films in 2016 released yesterday. The awards usually took place a day before the Oscars. Among the films with most nominations (hence being regarded the worst movies in 2016) are ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’, ‘Gods of Egypt’, ‘Zoolander 2’, ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’, ‘Suicide Squad’, ‘Dirty Grandpa’, etc. ‘Winners’ will be famous for the other way round. This is the only awards that nobody wants to get nominated or even involved in.

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(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016) cross 1-billion mark, movie review for ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016), and final thoughts before Oscars’ nominations announcement tomorrow.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by vincentloy

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, the latest film in hugely successful Star Wars film franchise has recently grossed over US$ 1 billion in worldwide box office intake. This film that was released on December 2016 has a story that sets before the original 1977 Star Wars film (hence a prequel) and it starred Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, etc. I watched that movie and I did gave a short review for it in my earlier post. As of 23rd January 2017, the film has grossed US$ 1.011 billion. It is now the 28th film in history to cross the 1-billion mark and it is also the 4th film in 2016 that is able to do so. The other three are Captain America: Civil War (US$ 1.153 billion), Finding Dory (US$ 1.027 billion), and Zootopia (US$ 1.023 billion).

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Coincidentally, all the four highest grossing films in 2016 (of which each of them gross over US$ 1 billion) were distributed by Disney. What a huge success for Disney last year then. The 5th film in the list also goes to another movie distributed by Disney, and it is ‘The Jungle Book’, but it could only accumulates US$ 966 million (still a huge box-office hit). Everyone is loving Star Wars (but not me, and I find that the Americans love it very much), hence this box office outcome for ‘Rogue One’ is very much expected. This also comes after the big hit from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in 2015 that managed to gain US$ 2.068 billion, becoming the third movie in history to cross the near-impossible 2-billion mark. The next Star Wars film to be released in cinema is ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ on end of this year and I’m sure it is going to achieve similar success in box office too.

On the other hand, I have watched another new film just now. It’s a 2016 film called ‘Manchester by the Sea’. The reason I watched this movie is because it receives a lot of awards buzz and also overwhelming critical acclaim, with many praising and awarding best actor to the lead of the story, Casey Affleck. I stand with the minority this time. I think this movie is good, but clearly not a masterpiece or a solid top-notch drama as claimed by various critics out there. The movie, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, revolves on an uncle (Casey Affleck) who is tasked to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) after the boy’s father dies.

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What’s good from this movie is the acting. I find that Casey Affleck did well for his performance here. He nailed all the scenes when he has to convey subtle emotions and expressions. It’s not easy to do that and yet he did it. In past years, we always see showy and dramatic performances that got the actors and actresses winning awards. This year, it’s time to recognize subtle performances. This is one great example and it’s not easy to be done. Hence, I have no issue with Casey being nominated for best actor in Academy Awards and even winning it next month. However, I still think that his performance here in ‘Manchester by the Sea’ to be not perfect yet, as I find some of his scenes are a bit over wooden and pale. Lucas Hedges is great as the teenage boy in the movie and he should get a best supporting actor’s nomination. Same goes to Michelle Williams as Casey’s ex-wife in the movie. Her screen-time is very little and yet she manages to conquer those emotional scenes very well. A best supporting actress nomination for her. Other than acting, there is actually nothing else great about this film. It has a plain story, poor editing, and unsuitable background score too. It’s supposed to be a dramatic and a moving film, but in the end, I don’t feel anything. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Manchester by the Sea’ a total of 7.0. And all those points are mostly from acting only. This is one over-rated 2016 film.

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The nomination list for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced tomorrow. Me, as one of the moviegoers who also loves watching Oscar-type movies are quite excited for it. Who will be snubbed this year? Who get to sneak in? Which film gets the most love? And which film gets forgotten? All will be revealed tomorrow.

As for my final thoughts before the nomination list’s announcement tomorrow, I think there would be a few surprises in the nomination list as expected since Academy loves to give us some shock and surprise every year. ‘La La Land’ is expected to get the most nominations, and together with ‘Manchester by the Sea’, ‘Moonlight’, ‘Fences’, and ‘Arrival’, these 5 films look like they are a lock-in for the best picture nominees. There are 3 or 4 more slots in that category and all the other potential films are trying to squeeze in. Best actor race is not that interesting this year and it looks like Casey Affleck is going to take the Oscar home. On the other hand, best actress race is very competitive this year. It’s like anyone can win it this year with no clear favourite and that makes this category intense and exciting. Alright. I will leave more of my opinions when I published the nomination list in my blog here as soon as it is revealed tomorrow.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Movie review for ‘La La Land’ and ‘Patriots Day’ (2016)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2017 by vincentloy

My blog especially in this month will be filled with more posts on movie reviews. Why? This is the month when all the remaining Oscar-bait films will be released all together before the awards ceremony next month and I love to review on those films. This is also the month for me to catch up back on some 2016 films that I have missed last year. ‘La La Land’ and ‘Patriots Day’ were released recently in the cinemas here in Malaysia but they are considered 2016 films because they have been released last year in other regions or has opened up in some film festivals. And these two movies are so far my top 2 best films of 2016.

I seldom enjoy a musical movie. This genre isn’t an appeal to me much. However, ‘La La Land’ is a total exception as I enjoyed this film very much. It is a romantic musical comedy-drama film with the plot that follows a musician and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles. A lot of people including myself are curious on why such film’s title? Then, after a bit of research, I discovered that ‘La La Land’ refers both to the city of Los Angeles and to the idiom for being out of touch with reality which is very related to the message of the movie. I decided to watch this film eventhough its not my appealing genre because it received overwhelming critical acclaim and that it had just won big in Golden Globe Awards recently.

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I watched it, and I can say it is truly an outstanding contemporary musical film. The opening sequence that shows a continuous shot of unexpected massive musical performance on a congested highway in LA is brilliant and immediately sets the right tone for the audiences on what to expect from the remaining of the movie. The story looks ordinary, but once you mix it with musical numbers, excellent performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and a wonderful ‘alternate-reality’ (what if) ending, then the film becomes extraordinary. The film also excelled in all other technical categories like cinematography, production design, costume design, music (songs and background score), etc. The score may sometimes feel repetitive but the melody is so beautiful and it magically gets you immersed into the story. The ending is sad and moving, and it somehow relates very well to the present reality of Hollywood. Sacrificing all others (including your true love) for career. People who watch this movie without thinking a bit further will see this movie as just a typical musical piece. Once you start digesting the inner message, then you will realize that this movie is awesome. But I can assure you that this movie is not complicated. And also great directing with Damien Chazelle. Looks he is locked to be winning the Oscars next month for his directing work here. This movie is look to get a lot of nominations in Oscars too and it certainly deserves it. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘La La Land’ a total of 8.3. And yup…this is my highest-rated film of 2016 so far.

My next movie to review is ‘Patriots Day’. This is an action movie that will appeal to all, including those who doesn’t like to think too much while watching a movie. Well, this movie actually delivered beyond that. The movie is an account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it. It is based on the true tragic event of Boston Marathon Bombing in April 2013 that killed 3 civilians and injured 264 others. Its subsequent manhunt activity to capture the two brothers behind the bombing resulted in the death of 2 police officers too. I eventually searched online for more details regarding this tragedy after watching the movie.

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I don’t know exactly how much fictional drama is added to the story to makes it more intense and dramatic but I can see that the film did stays true and accurate to the real events of the bombing and its aftermath including the selection of cast that matches closely to the real persons. It’s also nice to see real footages throughout the movie to give out a more real experience to viewers that this ‘shit’ do really happened. It is sad to watch this film that is actually based on something real and I must say that terrorism should end not only in US but also in all parts of the world. I’m deeply moved by a dialogue spoken by the real surviving victims of the tragedy in the end of the movie that says ‘people are not the victims of violence, but ambassador of peace’ after learning of many terrorist attacks in the past. That is what the movie is trying to deliver besides than the typical explosive and action-packed scenes. The story is engaging, the manhunt and shooting scenes are intense, and the scene showing that the whole Boston city is strong after the attack is touching. Mark Wahlberg did another good job in his main role here as a police officer. This movie reminded me of ‘Deepwater Horizon’, another based-on-real-tragedy movie released last year too that also starred Mark Wahlberg and also with Peter Berg directing (he directed this ‘Patriots Day’ too). ‘Deepwater Horizon’ is a good movie but not as good as this ‘Patriots Day’ that stood out with a more engaging and suspenseful plot. It is a solidly crafted tribute to the people who died or affected from the tragedy. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Patriots Day’ a total of 8.0.

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(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Movie review for ‘Swiss Army Man’, ‘Moana’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ (2016)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2017 by vincentloy

My current holiday in this January is the best time for me to catch up on some movies released last year. This week has just reached its half-way but I have already watched four new movies. They are ‘Swiss Army Man’, ‘Moana’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’. Here below are my short reviews to these 4 films which are all released last year (2016).

‘Swiss Army Man’ is a comedy drama film about a hopeless man who was stranded on a deserted island and befriended a dead body. They then together go on a surreal journey to get home. The movie starred Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. All I can say about this movie is that it is very weird and strange but tremendously interesting. All the farting and sex talks are meant for comedy (and they works well and not annoying to my surprise) and the very end subject that prevails is the friendship and the strange bonding between this hopeless man and a dead body slowly being reanimated. This movie also saw fine performances by the two males, Paul and Daniel, and their chemistry is very good. A very odd movie that turns out to be surprisingly good. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Swiss Army Man’ a total of 7.6.

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‘Moana’ is an animated movie sets in ancient Polynesia that revolves on a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui that reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island. The daughter answers the Ocean’s call and seek out the Demigod to set things right, paving the way for a great adventure on the ocean. This is a fairly enjoyable animated movie and I can see the reason why it is nominated in various awards right now in animated film category. But I don’t think it has a chance of winning because its story, formula and techniques are pretty familiar to us all without anything that screams breakthrough or ‘cool stuff’. It is still an entertaining animated movie and out of 10 points, I rate ‘Moana’ a total of 7.2. However, the song by Moana entitled ‘How Far I’ll Go’ is pretty nice to listen to.

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‘Arrival’ is a science-fiction film about a female linguistic professor who is tasked to interpret the unknown language of the alien visitors in one of the 12 spacecrafts that landed in separate locations across the world. This is not an ordinary film about incoming extraterrestrials invading our planet but a movie that needs us to think deep and ask questions from its unique approach to the movie’s plot. It goes on a totally new approach on this extraterrestrial genre which is very welcomed. If you are looking for action scenes since there is extraterrestrial presence here, then don’t go for this movie. You will be bored to death. But for me, I’m in for a unique cinematic experience and this movie delivered. It deals not with invasion or attacks but time and culture. Seriously, this film got me mind-fucked. There has been quite some time since I last watched a film that got me sit still, asking questions and get amazed. This movie is good and no wonder it is being nominated everywhere in best film category now. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Arrival’ a total of 8.0. This movie also saw great and solid performance by Amy Adams.

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‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ is a biographical comedy-drama film based on the real life of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress in 1940s who became an opera singer known for her painful lack of singing skill. The titular role is portrayed by Meryl Streep and yes, she nailed yet another role with amazing performance here as expected. She is now looking forward to its record-breaking 20th nomination in the upcoming Oscars for best actress from her wonderful performance in this movie. Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg are also excellent in their supporting roles, the former as her husband and the latter as her hired pianist. I thoroughly enjoyed this biographical movie which is warm and poignant. The ending is touching too and further shown to us that Meryl Streep is not an over-rated actress as claimed by Donald Trump in his recent tweet in response to Meryl Streep’s indirect attack on him in her award acceptance speech in Golden Globes last weekend. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ a total of 7.7.

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(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)