Music Break – TRON: Legacy score by Daft Punk

TRONLegacy_Lightcycle

My hubby was playing one of the tracks of Tron: Legacy soundtrack this weekend and I loved it so much I asked him to play the entire album. It’s been five years since I saw the movie (read my review), which was not quite as good as the trailer promised it to be, but two things I loved about the movie are those super cool light cycles and the awesome soundtrack by Daft Punk.

DaftPunkTRONLegacyPer its Wiki page, the score features an 85-piece orchestra, recorded at AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London, mixing orchestral and electronic music as director Joseph Kosinki intended. Joseph Trapanese, who apparently was a fan of the helmeted French techno-pop duo, arranged and orchestrated their score. “We were just together working throughout the whole process and there was never a point where the orchestra was not in their minds and the electronics were not in my mind. It was a continual translation between the two worlds and hopefully we put something together that will be something different because of that,” Trapanese said of their two-year collaboration.

Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the two guys behind Daft Punk, actually had a cameo in the movie as DJs in the computer world’s after-hours hot spot called the End of the Line club. The music adds so much to the movie, especially during all the light cycle race scenes. It’s kind of an odd genre mash-up, electronic and classical, but it works so beautifully here. I really think the score surpasses the movie and one I like listening to over and over.

Here are four of my favorite tracks from the album, starting with the one I like best, Recognizer. As I’m a big fan of classical music, naturally adore the Adagio for Tron.

Here’s the music video of the track Derezzed which appeared in the special trailer for the movie, it features cast member Olivia Wilde at the end:


Hope you enjoyed this music break. What do you think of the TRON: Legacy soundtrack?

About these ads

On location in Bodega Bay – Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963)

VinceCaroBanner

Inspired by the Hitchcock Blogathon hosted by Rob and Zoe, I asked my friend Vince who has contributed several classic posts in the past, including Laura, Vertigo, The Red Shoes, The Omen, etc. to do a write up about his trip to Bodega Bay last year to commemorate Hitchcock’s birthday on August 13.


In the fall of 2013, my wife Kristina, my sons Elliott and Ian, and myself went down to Sonoma County in California to attend my sister’s wedding. While not quite a vacation by any means, we decided to take an extra 2-3 days in the area to check out some beaches as a day treat for the boys. We chose Bodega Bay, partly because it was close (less than an hour away from Santa Rosa), but mostly because of my lifelong fascination with the Hitchcock classic The Birds which was filmed on location there back in 1961.

TheBirdsVintagePoster

On the way to the hotel, we drove down Bay Hill Road, which was the road Tippi Hedren’s character (Melanie Daniels) took into Bodega Bay with her Aston Martin. It was a nice windy 2-lane road by hillsides and plateaus. After arriving at the hotel, the friendly clerk nicely answered some questions about the movie and handed us a map of the locations used in the film. It made for easy planning the next couple of days.

On a coffee table in the hotel lobby was a laminated album of production stills from the shoot. Things I learned right away from skimming through it: The schoolteacher, Annie Hayworth’s house was only a facade and torn down after filming; that the Brenner ranch structure no longer existed; and that the Potter Schoolhouse, church, and the Tides Restaurant still stood but have undergone generational makeovers over the decades.

BodegaBay7

Bodega Bay is a very foggy area and it’s no surprise that this affected the film’s overall look. According to BodegaBay.com, much of the film had to be tinted gray because of this and probably adding to cost and production time. Along with all the special effects employed in the film, it took post three years to put the final touches on it. The movie was released in 1963.

The next day was foggy indeed and we decided to drive a bit on Highway 1 which proved scary and beautiful at the same time. There were steep drop-offs, windy roads and very strong tides along the beaches. We did find a more kid-friendly beach on our way back to Bodega Bay where we spent most of the afternoon. After the beach, we then decided to drive through town looking for some familiar movie locations. With map in hand, we drove up Taylor Street, which is where the children ran down from the schoolhouse as they were being attacked by birds in a pivotal scene.

BodegaBay1

The 3rd and final day, we drove to where the Potter Schoolhouse stood. The structure was intact, although with a slightly newer paint job. Interestingly, because of the fog the day before, we had missed it completely. It was a clear and sunny day which really detached the vibe of the movie – gray and foreboding.

BodegaBay2

Finally, we reached our final destination, The General Store, where Melanie asks the storekeeper the first name of the ‘little Brenner girl’ in her attempt to play a prank on Mitch Brenner played by Rod Taylor.

BodegaBay3

The store, now called the Bodega Country Store was a visitor center of sorts, with memorabilia from the film, publicity stills, dolls, toys, postcards, film books etc. The store also was a genuine general store, with canned goods, soft drinks and food. Kristina bought me “Blackie”, a replica of one of the magpies from the movie and has since found its home near my station at work.

BodegaBay4

The country store also had a replica of the telephone booth in that iconic scene where Melanie is trapped inside it with seagulls crashing into the glass. What a scene that was! Here I am reenacting it – with a stranger’s help in taking the photo.

BodegaBay5

As we were checking out of the Bodega Coast Inn, I was dismayed to find out that just a week ago, Tippi Hedren had come back to visit the town for the film’s 50th anniversary. I had just missed her. The hotel clerk said she was a very nice woman and still beautiful. On the clerks counter was an autographed publicity still of Tippi with Mr. Hitchcock along with a Barbie rendition of her as Melanie.

BodegaBay6

It didn’t take much to cheer me up though as the town’s charm and the film itself kept my imagination as vivid as ever. If you haven’t seen The Birds I highly recommend it. And while you’re at it, consider visiting this now legendary location.


So have you seen The Birds and/or been to Bodega Bay?

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite contemporary black & white films?

This week’s question is inspired by Sin City: A Dame to Kill For screening Tuesday night. Boy it’s been ages, almost a decade to be exact, since the first film was released.

SinCityDameToKillFor

To be honest with you, I don’t remember much about the story but the visual certainly is striking. The graphic novel came to live onto the screen, the term ‘graphic’ here has double meaning as the violence truly was quite explicit. Yet the stylish way it was filmed somehow made it somewhat more palatable if you will, enhancing that fantasy element to the noir story. So I kind of expect more of a visual feast with this sequel and not much else, but who knows it might surprise me.

So it got me thinking about other contemporary black/white films released in the past decade. Naturally the first thing that came to mind is Schindler’s List, but that was over twenty years ago. If we’re looking at just in 2000s decade alone, there are nearly 250 films in either partial or entirely done in black & white (per Wiki). Here are a some of beautifully-shot B&W films I’ve seen just in the past 10 years:

Memento

Memento (2001)

AngelA

Angel-A (2005)

SinCity

Sin City (2005)

TheArtist

The Artist (2005)

CaesarMustDie

Caesar Must Die (2012)

Nebraska

Nebraska (2013)

There are some recently-released ones I still want to see like Control, Persepolis, Blancanieves, Much Ado About Nothing, Frances Ha, Ida, etc. Hopefully I’ll get to those soon.


So what’s YOUR favorite modern Black & White films you saw recently?

[Slow] Weekend Roundup, X-Men 2 & Musings on Expendables 3

It’s been a slow weekend for me in terms of movie watching but a hectic one otherwise. My hubby & I hosted a potluck Saturday night which was a ton of fun. There was a ton of food as well, three different kinds of curry dishes, a Kim-chee dish, coconut rice, tofu w/ peanut sauce, etc. and I haven’t even talked about desert yet :D

Sunday afternoon I went to the second staff meeting for the fifth annual Twin Cities Film Fest! It’s coming up in less than two months (October 16!) and I’m waiting with bated breath which movies we’ll be getting this year! Film fans who live in the area, please consider supporting this amazing event tailored for cinephiles like you. We’ve got a special Member Drive where you can catch a sneak preview into films premiering at TCFF, see info below or click the graphic for more info.

TCFFMemberDrive

So this weekend I didn’t go to the cinema at all. In fact I only saw one movie and that’s a rewatch of X-Men 2. I was inspired by this Superhero Blog Relay last week, and the fact that it’s perhaps my favorite from the franchise before X-Men: Days of Future Past came along. I still loved it as much as I did before, perhaps one day I might do a full review of it.

X-Men2

My favorite scenes are the Magneto prison escape, anything with Brian Cox as the villain William Stryker, and that awesome finale with Jean Grey turning into Phoenix. After seeing this, my hubby said how much he hated Brett Ratner for ruining her character in X-Men 3, especially after such a breathtaking cliffhanger!  There’s so much potential for her character arc that wasn’t explored well at all by that hack director. Heh, I sure hope he won’t ever be back working on another X-Men movie ever again… or any good franchise for that matter.

Quick notes on this weekend’s box office. WOW, the power of Bayhem is really something! Those Ninja Turtles won again, practically beating every new movies opening this week. Even those Geriatric action heroes in Expendables 3 can’t overpower those ninja turtles?! Only the Guardians of the Galaxy in its third week was a close match!

1. Ninja Turtles $28,400,000
2. Guardians of the Galaxy $24,735,000
3. Let’s Be Cops $17,700,000

Earlier this year, I asked if people still love geriatric movie stars blowing stuff up in action flicks. Majority of the commenters said yes, they still do love ‘em aging stars, but maybe not enough to see ‘em on the big screen?

Expendables3Cast

Expendables 3 made only $16 mil, which was only about half of what the second movie made two years ago. Hmmm, so maybe this franchise is on its last leg eh? Same could be said about most of the cast anyway. Really, Sly should stop now anyway, I mean stretching this bombastic shoot-em-up party to a trilogy is already well, quite a stretch as it is. But what I didn’t know until an hour ago was that apparently the entire movie got leaked online three weeks before its release. According to Variety, as of July 27, there’s been 1.13 million illegal downloads of Expendables 3 worldwide!!

Though I hated the first movie, and I’ve only seen the Chuck Norris part of the 2nd movie, part of me actually still curious to check this one. So *maybe* I’ll go to a matinee showing ;) After all Wesley Snipes is back! I’m curious to see this just for him, plus we’ve got Harrison Ford & Mel Gibson!

This week I’ll be going to Sin City 2: Dame to Kill For screening on Tuesday. Boy it’s been almost a decade since the first movie was released. I barely remember what it’s all about but I do remember liking the visual style.


So that’s it for the roundup. What did YOU see? Anything good?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week on Tom Hiddleston as Ben Hur

Happy Friday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone again today in combining two post *series* in one.

EvrybodysChattin_Banner1

Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past week:

  • RIP_RobinWilliamsIt’s been quite a very sad week for film fans… we lost two beloved actors within days of each other. I’m still reeling from Robin Williams‘ sudden passing, which is very tragic indeed. It’s nice to see people’s outpouring of tributes to the comic genius whose lives have been touched by a certain role he did throughout his illustrious career:
    Alex did an In Character post, Andrew and Steven paid tribute listing their favorite roles, Kristin highlights a wonderful scene from his Oscar-winning role Good Will Hunting, and Mark took a break from blogging hiatus to dedicate a Trivia Tribute filled with interesting tidbits. Lastly, Dan posted Top 10 Films of the late actor, whilst Nostra made a Many Faces Of post which illustrates his amazing versatility.
  • RIPLaurenBacallThis week we also lost a beloved classic actress Lauren Bacall. I wish I had seen more of her work, so far I have only seen her in Designing Woman. Well, Keith wrote a lovely tribute filled with beautiful photos and lots of recommendations on her work.
  • On a more cheerful note, Lady Sati shone a spotlight on rising star Chris Pratt, whilst Terrence posted a bunch of new trailers to get excited about some upcoming releases.
  • Michael highlighted a favorite scene from one of my favorite sci-fi movies The Abyss, Mark reviewed a neo noir crime drama Cold in July, whilst Tom ventured out of his comfort zone by watching the period drama Belle, bravo Tom! :D
  • Tyson‘s been back blogging again and posted some of the Desert Island Classic posts. This time it’s Abbi‘s turn to pick which movies she’d take when she’s stranded.
  • Josh posted his 1971 CinSpec Awards, apparently a great year for movies and I like how The French Connection got plenty of mentions. Meanwhile, Rodney reviewed Transcendence which I still hasn’t got time to check out, and Eric reviewed Sideways, the 2004 dark comedy by Alexander Payne as part of his annual 50 Movie Project.
  • Last but not least, my pal Raul wrote a piece on the Film Inquiry site about Steve McQueen’s Trifecta. Of course we’re talking about the British director, not the classic actor :D

Now for Question of the Week!

A whole bunch of tweets and casting news have been circulating lately that Tom Hiddleston is wanted for the leading role in the upcoming Ben-Hur adaptation. Now, as a fan of the 1959 film with Charlton Heston, which is actually a remake of a silent 1925 film, I wasn’t immediately keen on this project. Now, I LOVE Biblical epics but it seems that the trend in Hollywood is to forgo the source material and only use the character/story as a base to launch something else entirely *cough* Noah *cough.* You can read my thoughts about Biblical screen adaptations here.

But you know what, the casting of Hiddleston did pique my interest. It’s not final yet but I really hope he’d do it. I think the classically-trained actor would be wonderful in the role. We all know he’s got screen charisma and surely he could play a hero as well as he did a villain.

Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London

Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London

I’m slightly more hopeful about this project as according to Collider, this film will heavily incorporate the story of Jesus Christ from the book (Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ), which runs parallel to the actions of Judah Ben-Hur throughout the film. What I LOVE about the 1959 film is the spirituality aspect, and the portrayal of Christ is subtle but powerful. In fact, it’s far more affecting than the entire film of Son of God, which brings me to the interesting group of behind-the-scene talents.

We’ve got Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) set as director, with Keith Clarke (The Way Back) and John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) penning the script, AND Mark Burnett & Roma Downey, the pair behind The Bible miniseries & Son of God as producers. Heh I really don’t know what to make of this group. Bekmambetov isn’t the first name on my wish list for a project such as this, and Burnett & Downey’s Son Of God, despite their best intentions, lack a sense of mystique and grandeur that Christ’ story so deserved. So I guess I’m cautiously optimistic with this one. I’d think it’s still tough to top William Wyler Roman epic, even that chariot scene alone with incredible set pieces, thousands of extras and no CGI whatsoever was still one of the most amazing scenes ever filmed.

In any case, if Hiddles accepts this role, it’s already a plus on the casting front. Hopefully we’ll know in a few weeks if he says yay or nay to this. The film’s been scheduled for release on February 26th 2016.


So my question to you is:

What do you think of Tom Hiddleston as Ben-Hur? Thoughts on this project in general?

The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Blog Relay

superhero-movie-relay

Yet another Blog Relay is circulating on the blogosphere! When I first saw this awesome relay idea on Bubbawheat’s Flights, Tights and Movie Nights Blog, I thought boy that’s something I’d love to participate. Well, waddayaknow, the fantabulous Andrew from A Fistful of Films passed the baton to me, hurray! :D

The rule here is slightly different than a typical blog relay you might’ve seen in the past, so I’ll let Bubbawheat explain it in his own words:

Now the first thing you might be asking is “why are there 12 movies in this top 10 list?” Well there are a couple changes that I’m making to the typical blog relay. Here are the rules for my relay.

1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.
2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.
3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it is locked into place.
4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be chosen by someone else.
5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies.
6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie.
7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

I will keep the current status of the relay here and you can also follow the steps of the relay as it goes along.

Check out the original relay post to see which initial 12 films made the list.
Andrew removed Hellboy 2, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and X-Men.
He then added Chronicle, Mystery Men and The Rocketeer.

So here’s the list as it currently stands:

The Avengers
SuperheroesRelay_Avengers

The Dark Knight
SuperheroesRelay_TDK

Superman
SuperheroesRelay_Superman1

Spider-Man 2
SuperheroesRelay_Spidey2

The Incredibles
SuperheroesRelay_Incredibles

Iron Man
SuperheroesRelay_IronMan

Blade 2
SuperheroesRelay_Blade2

Batman Returns
SuperheroesRelay_BatmanReturns

Unbreakable
SuperheroesRelay_Unbreakable

Chronicle
SuperheroesRelay_Chronicle

Mystery Men
SuperheroesRelay_MysteryMen

The Rocketeer
SuperheroesRelay_Rocketeer

The three I’m removing:Chronicle_Blade2_MysteryMen Chronicle | Blade 2 | Mystery Men

Sorry Drew for removing two of the ones you added, no hard feelings? ;) As I often say in other blog relays, I’m not so much removing them as I’m just moving them down the list if this were a top 2.

Now, I like Chronicle a lot (I gave it a 4/5 in my review) and if I only need to take out two instead of three movies, I might’ve let that in. I do think that even though it’s inventive, there are plot holes abound and the finale might’ve been a bit too bombastic that it felt like an abrupt shift in tone. As for Blade 2, I LOVE Wesley Snipes in the role but I just don’t know if any of the Blade movies deserve to make the top 10. I hardly remember much about them, so they didn’t leave a lasting impression to me other than Snipes look cool as a bad ass ninja vampire. Lastly, I took out Mystery Men because I haven’t seen it yet. Sorry again Drew, but I really tried to see if there’s another movie on the list I could take out but  in the end I had to let this one go. But since you included it, I might give it a rent :D

The three I’m adding:

BatmanBeginsWinterSoldierX2Batman BeginsCaptain America: The Winter SoldierX-Men 2

I’m a huge fan of Nolan’s first entry to the Batman trilogy. In fact, I dare say that Batman Begins is as good as The Dark Knight and sets the bar high for a superhero film. I like that it focuses on the hero instead of the villain, and Christian Bale makes for a caped crusader who’s truly worth rooting for. I love it so much I’d even be willing to forgive the Katie Holmes casting! Now The Winter Soldier is still quite fresh in my mind and I do believe it deserves to be in the final top 10 because it has everything you’d want in an entertaining superhero flick and then some. It’s a successful genre-mashup, mixing the traditional superhero genre with a Cold-War espionage story, that expands the characters’ arc and takes the story forward in a thrilling way. As for X-2, well I think at least ONE X-Men film deserved to be on the list and I agree with Drew’s rationale that X-Men 2: X-Men United is a better film than the first film. The opening scene at the White House is fantastic and Brian Cox is one of my fave superhero movie villains as covert government operative Stryker. The multi-layered story combined with great performances gave the film a dramatic weight that transcend beyond fun entertainment. Not to mention the most indelible and emotional finale involving one of my favorite X-Men characters Jean Grey, as mutant vs. human struggle continues… ever closer to the brink of war. Powerful stuff!


Well I hope that at least one of my three pics would stay to the end ;)

I’m passing the baton to my pal & fellow superhero movie fan Terrence of The Focus Filmographer! I’m pretty sure he’s seen all or most of these movies so I’m VERY curious to see how he’d shake up the list.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on my picks. Agree/disagree? Well, let’s hear it!

FlixChatter Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

TedSaydalavongBanner

TMNT2014bnr

For anyone who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, you probably heard of the Ninja Turtles even if you were not a fan. As a young boy back in those days, I was a huge fan of the turtles, my brother and I used to watch the morning cartoon show every day and I’ve watched the original film countless times on VHS. The first film released back in 1990 was a huge hit but unfortunately the two sequels that followed were quite awful and the franchise went on hiatus for a few years. The studio tried to restart the film franchise with a CG animation and released an animated movie simply called TMNT back in 2007. Even with voices by well known actors such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chris Evans and Patrick Stewart, the movie never caught on with the public. For a while many thought the franchise was dead, at one time John Woo was attached to produce and direct another film version but of course that never happened. The franchise ended up in the hands of Michael Bay and now we’re finally got to see another live action movie version.

With a comic book style introduction, this new movie takes us right into the chaos. Apparently Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his foot clan army have been terrorizing the citizens of NYC for a while and it seems to no one can stop or find him. Young reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is eager to become a real reporter and wants to find out who these foot clan are and what they’re planning to do next. One night she ran into the clan’s illegal activity and then witnessed the clan being took out by some mysterious figures. This scene was basically a rip-off of scene from Nolan’s Batman Begins when Batman was introduced, in fact the whole “plot” of this turtle movie was a rip-off of Nolan’s first Batman flick. Of course those mysterious figures turned out to be our heroes the Ninja Turtles. O’Neil wants to break the story about how someone is fighting back against Shredder and his army but without any proof her boss (Whoopi Goldberg) refuse to run the story. In fact she fired O’Neil because she’s becoming an annoyance. Now jobless and still wants to prove that the Turtles do exist, she decided to confide in her late father’s co-worker Eric Sacks (William Fichtner) and told him about the Turtles. Well wouldn’t you know it, Sacks happens to be the minion of Shredder and of course this leads to O’Neil being in danger and our heroes in the half shell came to her rescue.

I went into this movie with very low expectations since it’s directed by journeyman Jonathan Liebesman, the same man who directed some awful flicks including Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and Battle: Los Angeles. Also, any movie with Michael Bay‘s name attached to it, I just don’t think it will be any good. Surprisingly I thought Liebesman did a pretty decent job with this movie, he remember to hold the cameras steady for most of the action scenes and staged one pretty awesome action sequence. A chase scene with our heroes being pursued by the foot clan army down a snowy mountain, seeing that sequence in 3D was quite great. Unfortunately though, the script by Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty was quite dreadful. As mentioned earlier the whole plot of this movie was a rip-off of Batman Begins but it’s also full of amateurish humor that only teenage boys will enjoy. One thing I really hated about the script was how they decided to change the origins of the turtles and their master Splinter. It’s so idiotic that I almost laughed out loud when that scene appeared.

Performances wise, you can’t really judge the actors who voiced the turtles so I’ll just focus on the human characters. As we all know Megan Fox can’t act and it’s quite painful watching her “act” in this movie, she’s asked to carry the movie for the first 40 minutes or so and it wasn’t fun watching her trying to act. William Fichtner and Tohoru Masamune didn’t have much to do except playing the straight one dimensional evil characters. Will Arnett showed up as the sidekick to April O’Neil and unfortunately his comedic role was just that, a comedic sidekick. I thought they might make him into Casey Jones by the end but I’m glad that never happened.

The movie wasn’t as bad I expected but it’s still not something adults will enjoy but I’m pretty sure most teenagers will have a great time with this one. I enjoyed some parts of the movie but in the end, it’s just another loud action/adventure movie from Mr. Bayhem.

tworeels

TedS_post


Have you seen this one? Well, what did you think?

RIP Robin Williams… oh how you will be sorely missed.

RIPRobinWilliams

I can’t believe I had to do another in memoriam posts when the sting of the last one hasn’t quite left me yet. I was just about to get on the elliptical machine at my gym when I saw my friend texted me: “Robin William died. OMG.”

Then I looked up at the rows of TV sets above the gym equipments, and sure enough… his face was splashed on the telly, along with the indescribable and incomprehensible caption: Robin Williams Dead at 63 in apparent suicide.

My heart sank.

In fact, it’s now four and a half hours after I learned of his passing… and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. How could a man who brought up so much joy and laughter to so many people… could not find anything in his heart to be cheerful about? This was after all the same man who made his best friend and former Julliard School roommate Christopher Reeve laughed for the first time after his horse-riding accident that left him paralyzed. It was he who inspired Reeve to embrace life during the darkest moments of his life. Williams too was the go-to comic relief that even Steven Spielberg relied on to cheer up his cast during filming of Schindler’s List [per IMDb]

But I don’t pretend to know anything about depression and how it could overpower even the unlikeliest person, those we THINK didn’t have a care in the world, those with a seemingly la di da attitude… As someone who grew up with a mother who suffered from mental illness, I knew that the outside world never thought she was depressed or had a mental imbalance of any kind. She was a vivacious, cheerful, life-of-the-party type who seemed to have it all together. The fact is, nobody knows just what goes on inside a person. No one. At times not even the person in question… The fact that Mr Williams lived his life in the public eye must have made it all the more difficult.

I just want to take a brief moment to reminisce on what an amazingly gifted performer he is… truly one of a kind in every sense of the word. My first intro to the ferociously funny man wasn’t actually a full-on comedic role, though of course his comic timing was still on display. It was his role in Dead Poets Society as English teacher John Keating, a warm and passionate mentor who inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day. Carpe Diem! I knew what that word represent before I fully knew what it meant. It’s eerie to think that he’s succumbed to the same fate as one of his students in that film.

RobinWilliamsDeadPoetsSociety

As I mull over his sudden passing this evening… I watched a bunch of clips of him in various movies and interviews, often with tears in my eyes… tears of sadness mixed with tears of laughter as I watched him being his crazy, zany self. I can’t count how many of his roles have become my favorites: Mrs Doubtfire, Nine Months, What Dreams May Come, The Birdcage, Good Will Hunting, and so on… he’s a lovable comedian to be sure, yet his villainous roles also made an impression, i.e. Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia.

Spanning over a hundred projects he’s completed, including voice work for TV & movies, he never seemed to run out of steam. Even as he underwent heart surgery and multiple rehabs, whenever he’s back on screen, he’s always in ‘firing all cylinders’ mode, never missing a beat. Oh how he will be missed. One thing for sure, I will treasure the wonderful performances Mr. Williams had blessed everyone, ardent movie fans and casual movie goers alike.

My heart goes out to his wife and three children. I will keep them in my prayers.


Thank you Mr. Williams for all the gifts of laughter and joys you’ve bestowed upon us. Your life was truly extraordinary… if only it weren’t gone too soon.

[Eclectic] Weekend Roundup: Private Lives play, Starz OUTLANDER, Into The Storm & Zodiac

WeekendViewingRoundupAug10
How’s your weekend everyone? Did any of you see any new releases this weekend? I skipped the cinema again this weekend, but looks like Michael Bay wins again as his Ninja Turtles movie made $65 mil, ah geez! Well I guess it didn’t have much competition this weekend other than a couple of smaller budget films like Into The Storm  [mini review below].

On Friday I had a fabulous Movie Nite w/ two of my friends and FC contributors Becky & Ashley! We saw Toby Stephens‘ in Noël Coward’s Private Lives via Digital Theatre, which was as wonderful as I had thought it would be.

Check out the Digital Theatre trailer:

OMG, just when I thought I couldn’t love Toby more, his incredible performance here just prove how versatile and chameleon-like he is as an actor. He does this play the same time he’s filming his role as Captain Flint in Black Sails! I mean Noël Coward and pirates couldn’t be more different from each other, yet Toby inhabited both roles so perfectly that it was like watching two completely different actors!

PrivateLivesTobyAnna

I love Anna Chancellor in this as well, both of them are fantastic in delivering the witty lines as well as performing the physical comedy required for the roles. They have an amazing chemistry as well, definitely one of the most fun plays I’ve seen so far, so bravo director Jonathan Kent! If only I had been able to see this LIVE on stage!

5reels


After the play, we caught one episode of Starz’s new show OUTLANDER. Ashley’s already a big fan of the show and I’d be keen on watching more of this if I had cable! I mean the lush Scotland scenery is gorgeous, not to mention the hot men in kilts, he-llo Sam Heughan! ;)

OutlanderJamieFraser

You already know I have a penchant for the Scots, and this kind of historical fantasy is so right up my alley. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Battlestar Galactica‘s producer Ron Moore is behind this. I LOVE BSG but instead of a space opera, we’ve got adventure + romance with time travel thrown in. The voice over narration is a bit excessive tho, but I’m still keen on watching the rest of the season when it becomes available.

3.5 reels


As for Into The Storm, aka Twister 2.0. I have to admit that initially I was intrigued to see this because of Richard Armitage in the lead role. Though you can’t really call it a lead role as all the human characters are dwarfed by [pardon the pun Thorin!] by the humongous monster tornado, or I should say tornadoes as there are a bunch of them popping up at a given time, and some of them are on fire [yikes!]

IntoTheStormMovie

Seeing this with Dolby Atmos sound [but sans 3D thank goodness!], it really felt like you’re in the eye of the storm and there’s this one scene where one character inside this Batman Tumblr-like vehicle called Titus is swept up into the biggest tornado ever. The brief floating moment felt as if he were flying inside that Titus, which actually looked pretty cool, but of course you know what happens next. What goes up, must come down, ouch! Aside from some exhilarating special effects though, there’s little to recommend it. Cliched script laden with clunky dialog, one-dimensional characters and cheesy human drama fit more for a Lifetime TV movie all play second fiddle to the storm scenes. Apparently screenwriter John Swetnam also wrote Step Up All In which also opened this weekend.

Sorry Armitage fans, I wish I could say that his presence saved this movie. Alas, I doubt ANY actor could elevate a role so poorly written. I’d say if you want to see his acting prowess, I’d rather watch his BBC shows like Spooks, North & South, Strike Back, etc. or if you’re lucky enough to see him live on the London stage in The Crucible, surely you’d see what he’s truly capable of.

Director Steven Quayle was the second unit director for Titanic and Avatar and clearly the visual effects stuff is his forte. For those who are curious about the SFX, it might be worth renting, or you could just rewatch Twister again. That 1996 movie might not be perfect either but at least the human drama was a little more engaging AND it had a sense of humor. Instead of flying cows, here we’ve got flying… airplanes?? Hmmm, it just didn’t have the same impact for some reason, no matter how realistic they made those storms to be.

tworeels


Now, I finally caught this David Fincher’s ZODIAC. I’ve heard great things about it but I just never got around to it for some reason. Well I’m glad I finally did. It’s billed as a crime thriller but it’s more of a slo-burn drama that focus on the lives of the detectives and newspaper folks who cover the serial killings instead of a straight whodunnit type film. It’s even more sinister the fact that this film was based on real events in the San Francisco Bay area, as the script was adapted from Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book of the same name. Graysmith is played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the film.

ZodiacMovie2007

At 157 min, I was a bit worried it would drag a bit but fortunately, under Fincher’s deft hands, even the slower moments are brimming with suspense. I like the psychological aspect of how the newspaper cartoonist became so obsessed with the case that affect his relationship with his family and co-workers. There are some gruesome violence in the first act but it’s thankfully not as terrifying as SE7EN, in fact, most of the film is more of a character study filled with a lot of dialog. I like this type of thrillers so it definitely kept my attention. Great acting from the tremendous cast too, particularly Gyllenhaal, Anthony Edwards and Mark Ruffalo as the cartoonist and two detectives, respectively. Gyllenhaal is one of those actors who’s growing on me as he seems to pick more interesting roles now after taking daft roles like Prince of Persia.

It’s too bad that this film apparently tanked at the box office. Heh, clearly people are more inclined to watch thrillers with a lot more action than an intelligent and immersive version like this one. Zodiac was thoroughly gripping — a superb direction from Fincher and aided by intriguing camera work and an eerie score.

four reels



Well, that was my weekend folks! So what did you see, anything good?

FlixChatter [Guest] Review: HERCULES (2014) & Spotlight on Rufus Sewell as Autolycus

PrairieGirlBanner

I love going to a movie when I’m really not going there to see the movie. This can only mean one thing – Rufus Sewell is once more on the big screen. He played one of Hercules’ band of mercenaries, Autolyclus, and wow, did he ever buff up for this role. He also got to shed his typecast “bad guy” role that he’s keen to be rid of. You gotta love men’s Grecian/Roman wardrobe, Ruf wears them well. Too bad I missed out on bidding for his costume on ebay. The winning bid only $1,090? I would have easily coughed up more than that  ;-D.

Rufus himself on his character, Autolycus

I promised Flixy this review would be short, but when I found this excerpt from the film’s production notes on The Rooftop where Rufus talks more about his role, that promise just went out the window:

Autolycus might lack for Hercules’ astonishing strength, but he has more than made up for it with the sharp blade of his wit, ultimately becoming Hercules’ master strategist. Rufus Sewell, the English actor recently seen in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” takes on the role of Hercules’ wisecracking friend.

“Autolycus and Hercules go way back, and they’ve got each other’s backs,” Sewell explains. “They have a kind of communication that goes beyond words. They’ve always worked together, and that’s a source of great pride to Autolycus, that he knows Hercules better than anyone else.” At the same time,

Autolycus has a cheeky side Sewell found a lot of fun. “He’s a bit of a wheeler dealer,” Sewell confesses. “He’s got a sarcastic tongue and a real sense of humor with Hercules. He not only is the brains of the operation but he’s also the one who is always thinking about the gold coinage. He does have a good heart, but he often keeps it hidden.”

HerculesMovie_Rufus1

In battle, Autolycus utilizes a series of blades to his advantage – which for Sewell, meant he knew he had to start training the minute he accepted the role. “You know there’s going to be a lot of training when you have to stand next to Dwayne Johnson, and be even remotely believable as the same species,” jokes Sewell. “I did fight training, weight training and weapons training. Since we’re mercenaries, the fighting in the film is very much to the point. There isn’t a lot of fancy footwork. At the same time, what I love about the film is that it has so much humor and humanity.”
“Every set was like something out of Cecil B. DeMille, with that kind of scope,” recalls Rufus. “It makes a big difference to actors because you’re reacting to a real environment.”

More on Autolycus

Oh, and what about his acting, you say? His character is not a cliche, but one with strong emotions: sincerity to rage, matter-of-fact to tongue-in-cheek. He likes playing well-rounded characters, so I imagine this one fit the bill for him perfectly. Rufus, along with Ian McShane, provide comic relief. He does love his gold, which causes him to almost abandon the cause, but in the end he stays loyal. Favorite line from Autolyclus: “Don’t just stand there… kill someone!”

HerculesMovie_Rufus2

On the Movie

And just in case you think I’m writing this only to talk up Rufus, you’re almost correct, but here’s what I actually thought about it. Since I didn’t go in with ANY expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. The plot is perfectly uncomplicated but never boring, the battle scenes weren’t “shaky” and included battle strategies that were quite unique to me, and the wide-shot aerial cinematography was sweeping and scenic and CGI didn’t seem to be overused. Hercules’ superhuman strength is illustrated by a horse and rider being tossed into the air, not by any mythical creatures.

HerculesMovieStill

I don’t really go out of my way to see Dwayne Johnson flicks, but he really was perfect for this role. And boy, do I ever like his look when he’s got beard and hair. The rest of the cast fill their roles well. To hear more about the them, check out this video feature with director Brett Ratner and Dwayne:

Bottom Line

I don’t go to many summer PG13 action adventure films so Hercules may be lacking for some more jaded and sophisticated movie goers (Yes, Ted S., I know who you are… you’re at the very top of this list!), but Hercules gets a solid 3.5 reels from me. And even though Flixchatter ratings only go up to five, Rufus, of course, as usual, gets a perfect 10.

3.5 reels

PostByBeckyK


Now, what do you think of Hercules?