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Binky International Film Festival: Day Seven

Hello and welcome to Day Seven of the first ever “Binky International Film Festival“! I hope you’ve been enjoying this series so far, and if you’re not… Well, tough. It’s my blog. 😉 Just kidding. I really do hope you’ve been enjoying this series and are willing to continue our journey until we finish with Day 10 on New Year’s Eve.

Today, we are going to take a look at my personal favorites of 2011, the movies that I love so much I can watch over and over again, thus making this a “Repeat Viewing” genre. I can now safely say that 2011 is quite a good year for movies. Sure, there are a lot of crap this year but then again, there are always a lot of crap movies every year. But the good ones are not that few and far between this year, definitely an improvement from 2010. And if the Mayan Apocalypse doesn’t end us all, let’s hope this time next year we have an even better list of movies to discuss. 🙂 Now, let’s get right down to business and begin Day Seven!

“Repeat Viewing”


Release Date: September 16, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 100 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Nicolas Winding Refn & Hossein Amini
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston
Defining Song: A Real Hero Feat. Electric Youth by College

Without a doubt, in my opinion, Best Movie of 2011. I didn’t know what to expect going in, I only knew that people were all talking about it and giving it high praise on Twitter. I came for Ryan Gosling, and I got so, so much more. It’s a little hard to talk about this movie without sounding like a crazed fangirl, so bear with me. Drive is amazeballs because 1. Ryan Gosling and his silent acting equals pure brilliance. 2. Albert Brooks in the role of a villain: mind-blowing. 3. The insane violence: puts Tarantino to shame. 4. The music: oh the music! It really sets the mood. Gosling himself described this movie as a “Pretty In Pink with a head smashing” and I don’t know how else to describe it that would do it justice. It’s definitely not to everyone’s taste but if you like indie, offbeat, strange movies (with head smashing) – you will probably LOVE this as much as I do.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Friends With Kids

Release Date: September 9, 2011 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Approx. Running Time: 100 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jennifer Westfeldt
Stars: Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Ed Burns, etc

This movie was highly recommended by NY Magazine’s Vulture blog post-Toronto International Film Festival, and because it has not only half the cast of Bridesmaids but also Adam Scott and Ed Burns, I waited with bated breath until I could finally see it, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Jennifer Westfeldt (some of you may know her as Jon Hamm’s lady love) wrote and directed a charming little movie about friendship, love, parenthood and marriage in very real, non-preachy, non-judgmental way. Five minutes in, you see these characters and you will think, “Oh that reminds me of my own group of friends” (only they’re much, much better looking). The issues discussed were very much what friends in their thirties would discuss: love, marriage, kids – but it’s not desperate or stupid, which is what most romcoms tend to be. Whether you’re single, or married, or divorced, I think you’d be able to enjoy this movie very much. Trust me. I know these things. 🙂 (PS: Couldn’t find the trailer for this movie on Youtube, so I tried embedding it from a different site. Hope it works. If not… well, I tried)


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Release Date: April 11, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 111 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Joe Wright & Seth Lochhead, David Farr. Story by Seth Lochhead
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana

Okay by now I do have to admit that I have this fascination with violent movies. My favorite movie of 2011 is Drive and months before I saw Drive, I was raving about how awesome Hanna is, a movie that tells the story of a teenage girl trained by her ex-CIA father to become an effective assassin. Hanna is violent, but it’s also empowering and strangely enough, sweet. The relationship between Hanna and her father is beautiful, how the two would do anything to protect each other. And the way Hanna longs for companionship, and her loyalty to her new friends – there’s a lot of sweetness there to offset the violence. Parents may not be too crazy about the idea of a teen girl fighting for survival and killing without hesitation, but between the infectious score by The Chemical Brothers and the brilliant fight sequences, I’m totally hooked and I’m screaming for more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

It’s Kind of A Funny Story

Release Date: October 8, 2010
Approx. Running Time: 101 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Stars: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Viola Davis, Lauren Graham, etc
Defining Song: Blood by The Middle East

Okay I know this movie is not a 2011 release but I decided to put it in this list for the following reasons: 1. I only discovered this movie in 2011 and 2. I love it so much, I have to include it here. At first I thought it was going to be just another depressing coming-of-age movie but as it turns out it’s nothing like I expected. It’s funny. It’s eye-opening. It’s uplifting. It deals with depression in a real way but at the same time doesn’t end it on a nihilistic “there’s no point to all this let’s just wait for a planet to collide with earth and get it over and done with” note (I’m looking at you, Lars Von Trier). Is it a little too positive? Perhaps. But maybe not. Depression is real. As someone with Bipolar Disorder, I’ve experienced it many, many times. But I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can always get help. Happiness is not deprived of you. Life is still worth living after all, and that’s what this movie is about. For that alone, it deserves to be watched over and over again, especially for those who are still battling depression and in need of some perspective.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Release Date: March 4, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 100 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Josh Radnor
Stars: Josh Radnor, Malin Akerman, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan

I have to admit, out of the five main characters in How I Met Your Mother, Ted is my least favorite. He is exactly the type of guy I would avoid being friends with, so when my fantasy gay husband Neil Patrick Harris tweeted about this movie that his co-star and friend Josh Radnor wrote, directed and starred in, I was a little skeptical. But then I saw the movie and realized, Radnor is no Ted. Sure, the character he plays in this movie bears some resemblance to Ted, but only if Ted were a depressed, failed writer trying to find meaning in life by (unwisely) taking in a little boy he found abandoned in a subway. It took a while for the movie to win me over but it did. At the end, I can really relate to characters who are just trying to find themselves and each other in a chaotic world, maybe because that’s how I feel most of the time. And I like the way the movie ends in an upbeat, happier tone – what can I say, at the end of a movie I want to be able to say, “I’m happy. Thank you. More please!”

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

And that concludes Day Seven of Binky International Film Festival. We still have three more days to go, so come back tomorrow for Day Eight where we’ll be taking a look at some of the year’s most entertaining comedies in the “Laugh It Up” genre, because life is hard enough without a little laugh every now and then, right? I’ll see you back here tomorow… hopefully same time, but always same place. 🙂 Until then!


Binky Bee


Something Old, Something New…

Despite the title, this post is not about weddings. In fact, it has nothing to do with one. I just thought the title is catchy. 🙂 Anyway, I got the idea for this post from a fellow WordPress-er (is that the correct term?) and twitter friend Madmonq (everyone check out his blog, it’s pretty awesome). He once told me on twitter that my “pop culture consumption is impressive”, which I took as a compliment. 😉 Now, I’m not a greedy person and I believe in sharing the wealth. So I thought I should share with you my recommendation on all things (well, maybe some things) pop culture. Who knows, maybe you’ll get something good out of it… a new favorite show or movie, perhaps?

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

NOTE: The title “Something old, something new” means I’m going to recommend something new/just released/recently premiered and something great that has been around for a while.

At The Movies:

Stars: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig
Director: Jason Winer
Release Date: April 1, 2011

Irresponsible charmer Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) has always relied on two things to get by: his limitless fortune and the good sense of lifelong nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren) to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge–choosing between an arranged marriage that will ensure his lavish lifestyle or an uncertain future with the one thing money can’t buy, Naomi (Greta Gerwig), the only woman he has ever loved. With Naomi’s inspiration and some unconventional help from Hobson, Arthur will take the most expensive risk of his life and finally learn what it means to become a man, in this re-imagining of the classic romantic comedy “Arthur.”

Why You Should Watch It:
I still haven’t seen the original for some reason so it’s part of the reason why I want to check this movie out. The thing about remakes is that it’s far more enjoyable if you haven’t seen the original, thus you have nothing to compare it with. And I actually like Russell Brand. I don’t like him enough to see all of his films but this one has Helen Mirren. I mean, Dame Helen Mirren. She’s the queen, for god’s sake. It should be reason enough. 🙂 Also, do you know who did the music for this movie? Mark Ronson, whom I happen to be madly in love with. This movie has my stamp of approval all over it, and if it turns out to be shit, well… I’m sorry? 😉

Stars: Josh Radnor, Malin Akerman, Zoe Kazan, Kate Mara
Director: Josh Radnor
Release Date: March 4, 2011

Six New Yorkers juggle love, friendship, and the keenly challenging specter of adulthood. Sam Wexler (Josh Radnor) is a struggling writer who’s having a particularly bad day. When a young boy gets separated from his family on the subway, Sam makes the questionable decision to bring the child back to his apartment and thus begins a rewarding, yet complicated, friendship between the two.

Why You Should Watch It:
This Sundance favorite is the brainchild of actor Josh Radnor, who is more famous as Ted, the complicated architect in search of his soulmate, in CBS hit comedy How I Met Your Mother, and even though (I think) it only got a limited release on theaters, the movie is quite a hit with critics and indie film lovers alike. For me, the biggest appeal of the movie is the existential crisis that this group of friends are going through, it’s definitely something I can relate to. Not to mention, it’s about New Yorkers and I am a sucker for movies about young, attractive New Yorkers trying to find their place in life. I don’t know if you can still find it in theaters but if it is… Go see it!

On The Couch:

Mr. Sunshine
Stars: Matthew Perry, Allison Janney, Andrea Anders, James LeSure
Network: ABC
Airs on: Wednesday, 9.30 PM EST

Ben Donovan (Matthew Perry) is the operations manager for the Sunshine Center, a second-tier arena in San Diego, who has to deal with the unusual demands of his job and his unpredictable boss (Allison Janney) and his lovably kooky staff, while at the same time navigate the awkwardness of working closely with his ex and her new boyfriend.

Why You Should Watch It:
Mr Sunshine marks Matthew Perry’s second attempt to get back in television after Friends. His first attempt, in Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, crashed and burned quicker that you can say Studio 60. But recently, his fellow “Friends” have successfully returned to TV. Courtney Cox thrived with Cougar Town and Matt LeBlanc was redeemed by Episodes. It would seem twice is the charm for these Friends because along with Cougar Town and Episodes, Mr Sunshine turns out to be a funny, delightfully quirky comedy with a stellar supporting cast (Allison Janney, Andrea Anders, that black guy from Las Vegas) and the Matthew Perry we all love to watch; selfish, commitment-phobic, goofy but ultimately well-meaning. So if you’re looking for a fresh new comedy this mid-season, look no further than on ABC every Wednesday night, at least until Cougar Town returns (and then watch that show. It’s HILARIOUS. One of the best comedies on TV right now!)

United States of Tara
Stars: Toni Colette, John Corbett, Rosemary deWitt, Brie Larson, Keir Gilchrist and Patton Oswalt
Network: Showtime
Air Date: Monday, 10.30 PM EST

Tara Gregson is a suburban housewife and a loving mother who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which, triggered by stress and trauma, makes her transition into one of her multiple alters; a 50s housewife named Alice, a Vietnam war veteran named Buck, an oversexed teenager named T and more recently a psychologist named Shoshana. The show follows Tara and her family as they try to deal with her illness and maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Why You Should Watch It:
The great TV reviewer Alan Sepinwall just published his review of this season of United States of Tara and he practically sung his praises. Over at New York Magazine, TV reviewer Emily Nussbaum also gave this show a glowing review, praising its boldness in tackling the difficult and often dark side of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. In its third season, the show continues to grow and transform just like Tara and her family in their journey dealing with Tara’s many alters, and the psychological traumas that created them in the first place. However, despite its dark undertone, this show still manages to make us smile, especially with the help of the amazing Rosemary deWitt, one of the most underrated actresses of our time, and comedian Patton Oswalt as well as guest-star Eddie Izzard. The third season just premiered last Monday so I suggest you catch up on the first two seasons on DVD this weekend.

Stars: Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Nobel, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole
Network: FOX
Air Date: Friday, 9 PM EST

Fringe follows the casework of the Fringe Division, a Joint Federal Task Force supported primarily by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which includes Agent Olivia Dunham; Dr. Walter Bishop, the archetypal mad scientist; and Peter Bishop, Walter’s estranged son and jack-of-all-trades. They are supported by Phillip Broyles, the force’s director, and Agent Astrid Farnsworth, who assists Walter in laboratory research. The Fringe Division investigates cases relating to fringe science, ranging from transhumanist experiments gone wrong to the prospect of a destructive technological singularity to a possible collision of two parallel universes.

Why You Should Watch It:
Beloved sci-fi shows come and go rather quickly on network television, mostly because even though most people love to watch television, not that many love to watch sci-fi shows. Sure, there are millions and millions of sci-fi geeks out there but the numbers are still small compared to the reality TV addicts. Thus, network TV’s great sci-fi shows are almost always destined to be “cult-favorites” that get the axe after one or two seasons. By some miracle though, one of the most beloved sci-fi shows of the new millennium, Fringe, seems to escape the chopping block and has just been renewed for a fourth season. Why? Because of its freakishly loyal fans, yours truly included. And why are we freakishly loyal? Because the show is so darn good. Now that season three is coming to an end, we are all sitting at the edge of our seats, wondering if both universes will survive the season finale. If you have no clue what I am talking about, then you need to start watching the show. Right now. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

In The iTunes:

Artist: The Strokes
Release Date: March 21, 2011
Genre: Hip NYC Rock

What It Sounds Like:
According to the BBC Reviewer, “Early U2 and Talking Heads on a seesaw with The National acting as a fulcrum”, which is the description I happen to agree the most with.

Why This Needs To Be In Your Playlist:
The Strokes is cool again! Remember back in 2001-2002 when you were the only few people who have heard of The Strokes and you kept recommending their debut album Is This It to whoever gave you the time of day? Well “Angles” is like those times again, only better because this time people actually know what you’re talking about. Every track in the album is so addictive and I guarantee you, before long you’ll hear the songs of this album playing in the background in every TV show/movie you’ll watch for the next two years.

All You Need Is Now
Artist: Duran Duran
Release Date: March 21, 2011
Genre: 80s Forever

What it Sounds Like:
Think Duran Duran in their heyday in the early 80s. Think Rio, or as one reviewer on the web said, their “unashamed return to their original sound”.

Why This Needs To Be In Your Playlist:
Duran Duran will always remind me of being a kid again, five or six years old, sitting on the living room floor, watching in amazement while my older sister was blasting Rio from the Hi-Fi (yes, those were the days) and singing along to Simon LeBon. This new album takes me back to those days. It’s the 80s all over again and life is good. If you love this band back then, you’ll love this surprisingly nostalgic new album.

Record Collection
Artist: Mark Ronson and The Business Int’l
Release Date: Sept 27, 2010
Genre: Catchy Fun Electropop

What It Sounds Like:
The best of 80s robotic electropop mix with a lil bit of soul and hip hop. In my ears, pure heaven. But I’m a huge fan and therefore, a little bias. 🙂 But seriously, I think this is his best record to date.

Why This Needs To Be In Your Playlist:
Despite not having the best vocals in the world, this stylish uber-producer/DJ/sexiest man to ever walk on planet earth earnestly sang, “I only want to be in your record collection.” in the titular song of this album, and he should be. Record Collection is fresh, hip and fun, the kind of album you can listen to over and over again without driving yourself crazy, mostly because the songs are that good. From the brilliantly catchy Bang Bang Bang, featuring legendary rapper Q-Tip and newcomer MNDR (Amanda Warner) to the more soulful Somebody To Love Me, featuring the vocals of Boy George and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, this album is filled with songs that lift your spirits and make you want to dance, while at the same time the lyrics make you reflect on love, life and what makes us human. One of my favorites is Hey Girl, featuring the vocals of ex-Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall, that’s both sweet and addictive like Halloween candy treats. Mark Ronson may have polarizing effect on people; some, like me, are absolutely besotted, while some just can’t stand him, but I think this album may have reconciled both camps. It is just that good.

So there you have it, my friends, from my pop culture-addled brain to yours, my recommendation for the remaining months of Spring. Summer is upon us, and I’ll be sure to post my recommendation to get you through those long hot days. But in the meantime, I shall bid you adieu and I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.


Binky Bee