Meet the new Man of Steel: 28-year-old Brit Henry Cavill

It’s only January, but all these superhero buzz has been traveling faster than a speeding bullet. But this weekend’s breaking news is BIG, powerful in fact, more powerful than a loco… [ok, enough with the catchphrases]. Anyway, if you’re up on movie news or happened to be on Twitter yesterday, then you’ve probably heard it… one of my favorite British actor HENRY CAVILL has been cast as Man of Steel! Woot! Woot!! YAY! Hurrah!!

That’s a steel-y gaze, Mr. Cavill

ehm, okay, sorry… now that I’ve regained my composure…

Y’see, as far back as 2002 when he had a small role as Jim Caviezel’s son in The Count of Monte Cristo, my husband and I actually said to one another, ‘this guy could be Superman in a few years’ as he was only 19 years old at the time. Even last year, when the topic of who should play the Kryptonian hero came up before Zack Snyder was announced to direct, I still championed for Cavill for he role. So it’s awesome that nine years after I first saw him on screen, he’s finally going to be a household name.

Here’s a photo of him with glasses (rockin’ the Clark Kent look I’d say!) and what he could possibly look as Superman (thanks to Superherohype.com forum):

But it wasn’t always a smooth sailing for the English actor. In fact, EMPIRE magazine actually dubbed him ‘most unlucky man in Hollywood’ and as I mentioned in this post, he’s been passed over for not one but FOUR iconic roles: James Bond, Superman, Batman (for The Dark Knight) and Edward in Twilight (despite him being Stephanie Meyer’s first choice). So for the past few years, from 2007 until last year, Cavill’s claim to fame was playing Charles Brandon in the historical bodice ripper drama The Tudors.

I’ve been cautiously optimistic — but optimistic nonetheless — of this Superman reboot. I like Zack Snyder, and with Chris Nolan as his mentor and his frequent collaborator David Goyer penning the script, how bad can it be? And now with the right actor donning the red and blue suit, it’ll be tough to keep my excitement for this movie in check :D According to SlashFilm, apparently Cavill was one of the top three contenders since day one, and was invited for a callback in January, where he met Zack Snyder for the first time.

Goode & Bomer, the two Matthews considered for Superman

The article also revealed the five other actors who were considered for the role, with two Matthews: Goode and Bomer as the top two. I like Goode and I actually suggested him for another DC superhero The Flash. Goode is said to be Cavill’s closest contender, probably because he’s worked with Snyder before in Watchmen. He reportedly declined the title role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in hopes of winning Superman. The Social Network‘s Armie Hammer (the 25-year old, 6’5″ actor playing the Winklevoss twins) was also up for the role.

Now the worst thing about this Superman reboot is the wait. Cavill’s got two movies lined up before that to get people familiar with his work. His upcoming films are Tarsem Singh’s Greek mythology Immortals and a thriller with Bruce Willis called The Cold Light of Day (you can see more on set photos here), which I hope will be released this year.


Well, what do you think of Cavill’s casting? Or perhaps you have your own pick to play Superman? Let’s hear it!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Christian Bale!

Christian Charles Philip Bale turns 37 today!

I’ve always been a fan of his work for the last two decades. Out of about 34 feature films he has done so far, I’ve seen 20 of them, even the ones that I normally would never see (American Psycho). I can’t exactly remember what was the first movie I saw him in, it could’ve been Little Women or Swing Kids, but two of his most memorable characters share similar moniker, but who couldn’t be more different from each other: American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman and Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman. Aside from both of them being wealthy blokes, Bateman is the ultimate antihero, a complete contrast to Batman’s altruistic tendencies, yet Bale play them both so convincingly.

Bale in The New World

Batman certainly made him a household name, but what I love about Bale is that even with his A-list status, he still didn’t shy away from small roles. Between the first two Batman films, he didn’t always play the lead in his movies, in fact, in many of them, he was ‘second banana‘ to other A-listers (Public Enemies, 3:10 to Yuma), even taking on a small role in The New World so he could work with well-respected director Terrence Malick. He strikes me as someone who’s really concerned about his craft, instead of being in the business for the fame and fortune. Of course a lot of actors often say that, but Bale is perhaps the only one whose words I could take stock on. Some people might say he’s ‘difficult’ or have an attitude (which is understandable judging from this recent Esquire interview), but I think he’s just really, really uncomfortable about the fame part of his profession. That’s why you never see him do the Late Night rounds. So far the only Late Night interview I could find on YouTube was on Craig Killborn back in 2002! It’s rare to see Bale in such good spirits, but of course his defiant nature still shows up at the end, which I thought is the best part of the show.

There’s so much to admire in this guy… his talent and good looks obviously, but it’s his dedication to each and every one of his roles. I don’t know any other actor who’s willing to endure constant physical transformation like he did, as displayed in this infographic. Besides the shape shifting ability, he’s also got a knack for accent. Not only can this Welsh actor do both British and American accent well, he even does a variety of American accents, with a Southern drawl in 3:10 to Yuma, Boston accent in The Fighter, etc. To say he’s a versatile actor might not get a lot of arguments from people, though I personally hope he would take a bit of a break from all those dark roles (he’s rumored to do Stephen King’s adaptation The Dark Tower after Batman 3) and do something lighthearted for once. Just look at this filmography, just the last decade alone, the only character who I can describe as a happy guy is probably John Rolfe in The New World, but he’s only got about 20-minute or so screen time! He himself admits that he’s drawn to ‘obsessive roles’ because, “… well, who isn’t?” he asked Charlie Rose in one of the interviews promoting Rescue Dawn, “Because obsessive people tend to do extraordinary things.”

Well, I still hold on to hope that one day he’ll do an unabashedly romantic film. No, I’m not talking about rom-com, but a sweeping drama that’s inherently a love story (something like The Painted Veil?). Anyway, I was going to do my Top Ten Christian Bale movies, but since I have yet to see The Machinist and a couple other important ones, I’d wait until I do. For now, I’d turn it over to you dear readers:

What are your favorite Christian Bale movies?

Question of the Week: Which actor(s) would you like to see as Bond villain?

It’s been fun reading all the Bond posts spearheaded by ParagraphFilmReviews’ James Bond January event. A few of my blog friends Marc, Ross and Darren are participating… props to all of ‘em for saying nice things about my favorite Bond :D But it’s this particular post that inspire me to write this post… “Sean Bean should be the bad guy in every Bond film,” Ross McG brilliantly quipped, and y’know what, I can’t exactly disagree w/ that idea. But of course we can’t have that, and I’ve always despised films that somehow bring back dead characters in some absurd dream sequence or something of the sort.

Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan in Goldenye

Anyways, what we already know so far with Bond 23 is that it’s finally back on track again with Sam Mendes directing. Daniel Craig will be back, as well as Judi Dench as M. Yay! (I love that the best MI-6 director is a woman). Even though I grew up watching the larger-than-life villains in various Bond films, I kind of want a more ‘realistic’ villain that’s less of a caricature like say Carl Stromberg or Hugo Drax (though I’m contradicting myself as I quite like the latter as I mentioned here). I’m thinking those more in the vein of Sean Bean‘s Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye and maybe even Robert Davi in Licence to Kill, essentially someone whom I can picture Bond actually being friendly with in another life, y’know. I’d also like to think that with an acclaimed Oscar-winning director like Mendes at the helm, why not get a real thespian to portray a more complex and intellectual baddie, but without taking the fun out of a Bond flick of course (yeah I know, aren’t I picky).

Anyhoo, here are just a few names that came to mind as I’m writing this post:

  • Alan Rickman
    Though I love Rickman in his good guy–even romantic–roles as much as the villainous ones, let’s face it, he’s such a bonafide, reliable baddie. Plus he can imbue sophistication and elegance into any role, always a nice criteria in a Bond villain IMO. I know he probably won’t go into iconic-villain territory after his classic turn as Hans Grubber in Die Hard, but oh, wouldn’t it be nice?
  • Gary Oldman
    Here’s an actor who can play practically anything believably, the ultimate chameleon. I wholeheartedly agree with this astute commenter on the post about Oldman … “He’s a brilliant actor who makes every role his own and has managed to avoid being pigeonholed by Hollywood. Yeah he often plays baddies/heavies, but he never plays a certain TYPE of bad guy, he brings something new to the table every time.” Exactly. He could be a figure that Bond looks up to, who in the end turns out to be the one who betrays him.
  • Clive Owen
    I said in Ross’ post that why not cast a villain that’s just as smooth and cool as 007 himself? With all the casting rumor and Clive being in a bunch of people’s wish list for the role (including mine), it’d be such a treat to see him on the opposite side, going toe to toe as Bond’s arch nemesis. With a shrewd script, it could be the best Bond ever. With a villain like this, it’d be tough to root for the hero!
  • Cate Blanchett
    There’s barely a memorable woman villain in a Bond flick (Elektra King is close, but not quite), but with Blanchett I think she can do the job and maybe even warrant an Oscar nomination, ha! She’d be reunited with Judi Dench, who’s her co-star in Notes of a Scandal, and maybe her character is has a connection with M somehow which creates a rift between her and Bond.

    And last but not least, my ultimate dream Bond villain:
  • Timothy Dalton
    Andy @ Fandango Groovers once had this splendid idea of casting Dalton as an older, retired Bond. Now, the chance of that dream coming true is unfortunately zilch to none. Not that this one has even a slightly bigger chance of happening either, but think about it, it really would be awesome, wouldn’t it?

    In the comment section the post, Ross lamented “… 20 odd films, and in not one of them is the audience at any stage worried about the fate of the lead character…” Well, I always thought Dalton’s Bond got that sense of danger and ruthlessness that makes us believe he’s capable of killing in cold blood. With the right direction and script, perhaps we could at least add more tension and suspense in the Bond/baddie dynamic and actually believe at least for a moment the seemingly-indestructible super spy is in serious peril.

Well, feel free to add to the list, or supply your thoughts about any of my picks.

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: SENNA documentary


I saw a tweet about Ayrton Senna’s documentary trailer being released this week and I immediately remembered how my car-enthusiast brother used to talk about him. Senna was and still is considered the greatest motor racing driver of all time… practically a Saint in his native Brazil. His sudden tragic death came on Sunday, May 1st 1994, when his car crashed into a concrete barrier at the speed of 130 MPH. He was only 34 years old.

Here’s the documentary synopsis:

Senna’s remarkable story, charting his physical and spiritual achievements on the track and off, his quest for perfection, and the mythical status he has since attained, is the subject of SENNA, a documentary feature that spans the racing legend’s years as an F1 driver, from his opening season in 1984 to his untimely death a decade later. Far more than a film for F1 fans, SENNA unfolds a remarkable story in a remarkable manner, eschewing many standard documentary techniques in favour of a more cinematic approach that makes full use of astounding footage, much of which is drawn from F1 archives and is previously unseen. – per HeyUGuys.co.uk

As I’m doing research for this post, I watched this actual BBC news clip from that sad day, the same weekend when another racer was also killed in the same circuit. Man, to say Formula 1 is a deadly sport is no hyperbole. But apparently it doesn’t stop Senna’s own nephew, Bruno Senna from following his footsteps… or tire tracks in this case.

A couple of reviews from Sundance premiere have trickled in. SlashFilm had this to say: ” Senna’s story has it all – an interesting origin, a rise to the top, a bitter rivalry, backstabbing, politics, triumph, defeat, life, death, heroes, villains, you name it and Senna lived it.”

TheFilmStage also praised the film, “Senna is a straightforward-yet-breathtaking ride whose tragedy ensures the safety of future racers and whose story will continue to inspire generations, especially those who have never heard of him in the first place.”

If they decide to make a biopic out of him, I think James Franco might be suitable to play him, don’t you think? Or maybe Andrew Garfield? Anyway, not sure when it’ll be released nationwide in the US after Sundance, but I’ll be sure to look for this on Netflix.


What do you think folks? Any F1 racing fan out there?

Musings on Oscar 2011 nominations… in pictorial

The stars are probably still either basking or sulking as a result of yesterday’s Academy Award nominations. If you’re connected with me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been tweeting about it on Tuesday morning. The noms were released at 7:30 am CT yesterday and you can see the full list here. I actually had been drafting my last-minute Oscar prediction post on Monday night but decided to talk about the Razzies instead. Now I wish I had posted it after all as now that I’ve looked at my list again (the version of the draft saved 1/24 at 20:57), I actually got ALL of my Best Picture predictions right. Imagine that! I mean, not even a SINGLE film nomination amiss. I’m quite flabbergasted by that as in the previous years, I often didn’t have a clue what some of the nominated films were about!

Anyway, now that the cat is out of the bag, I thought I’d chime in on what I think of the nominations just for the heck of it. After all, this is the first year I’m a lot more aware of the names on the ballot, even if I haven’t seen some of the films/performances nominated. Of course I don’t agree with everything the Academy picked, nothing new there, but instead of being negative, I’d rather focus on the ones I do agree with. So here they are in pictorial… ’cause we’re all visual people, right? :D

BEST PICTURE

The three I’m rooting for:

I’m totally ok if either one of these three wins as I see the merit in each of them. My favorite of these three is probably The King’s Speech, as I’m a sucker for movies about British monarch (as you can see in this list), and I adore that film so much I can watch it repeatedly. Glad to see all of the three major actors got nominated, as I really think despite Colin Firth‘s outstanding performance as the stuttering King, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter are both equally fantastic and deeply engaging as the eccentric speech therapist and the warmhearted queen, respectively.

Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter & Colin Firth at TKS premiere

BEST DIRECTOR

First let me say, where on earth is Christopher Nolan??? So his movie is good enough to be nominated for Best Picture, but the writer/director who is the mind behind the film and what makes it great is not worthy of a nomination?? I don’t understand that logic. Danny Boyle is also missing from the shortlist, though his film 127 Hours made the Best Picture noms. I had thought either one of those British directors would make the cut over the Coens, but clearly they’re one of the Academy’s favorites.

Nolan directing Leo in Inception, both notably absent from this year's Oscar noms

So I guess amongst those who did make the cut, I’d root for either one of these guys. Probably leaning more toward Fincher as he’s done a lot of exceptional work in the past and I truly respect The Social Network.


David Fincher, The Social Network | Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

 

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The pair I’m rooting for:

I’ve always liked Colin Firth and he’s done such amazing work in the past decade, so I’m totally for him taking home the golden statuette. However, I can’t discredit how good Jesse Eissenberg was as Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a more understated performance that perhaps isn’t as ‘noticeable’ as playing someone with a handicap, but I think the quieter roles often get overlooked even though to me, it seems equally (if not more) challenging to pull off.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

As I actually have not seen ANY of the performances in this category (I know, shame on me!), I can’t really say who I’m rooting for. I guess for all of the buzz Black Swan has been receiving, Natalie Portman seems like a shoo-in, but the race might come down between her and Annette Benning in The Kids are All Right. However, based on what I’ve been reading about Nicole Kidman’s captivating performance as a grieving mother in Rabbit Hole, she might very well pull an upset and win her second Oscar after she won Best Actress in The Hours in 2002. After all, the Academy usually loves an actress who de-glamorizes herself for a role, I think the more plain-jane (or even ugly), the better the chances. Just look at Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball and Charlize Theron in Monster.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The pair I’m rooting for:


I’d love for Helena Bonham Carter to win as she’s consistently been churning out noteworthy performances in various genres. Whether it’s a fantasy films like Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter or a classy period drama like The King’s Speech, she seems at ease and believable in her roles. At the same time, Melissa Leo is just tremendous as Alice Ward, the tough-talking mother of the two boxers in The Fighter. Besides Christian Bale, I think she is one of the two most-deserving actors to be recognized for their amazing performance.

Which brings me to…

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The pair I’m rooting for:


My vote goes to Christian Bale, hands down. Granted I have not seen Mark Ruffalo’s nor John Hawkes’ performances, but I can’t possibly think they would sway me to think that either of them deserve to win over Bale. Besides, this guy has been overlooked waaay too many times it’s not even funny! I mean, his work in The Machinist, Rescue Dawn and even Batman Begins are of Oscar caliber that if anything this recognition is long overdue. The only person in that list whose possible winning I probably would not be so up in arms about is Geoffrey Rush. One, because his performance is just superb and so darn delightful I wish I could invite his character to dinner, and two, because Rush is one of the best thespians working today. But even despite all that, I’d be sorely disappointed if Bale doesn’t win.

Garfield as Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network

I know one should not make silly promises like this but I seriously doubt I’d watch the Oscars again if Jeremy Renner wins over Bale! Seriously, as I said in my tweet, I haven’t the slightest idea why the Academy loves him so much. He was just ok in The Hurt Locker (good but not spectacular) and was even less memorable in The Town for which he’s nominated. I’m still scratching my head right now, maybe someone can clue me in?? Having seen both performances, I think Andrew Garfield should’ve been in his place for his engaging and expressive performance in The Social Network. Bonus points for nailing down the American accent, but the Brits seem to have less of a problem with accents than American actors doing attempting British accent.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

I think it’s a definitely going to come down between these two:

Toy Story 3 definitely has the edge as it’s also nominated for Best Picture, which really when you think about it, it has no chance of winning over the other nine. Which automatically means it’ll win this category. I guess I’m ok with that, even though I think How To Train Your Dragon is equally exceptional and totally deserving of recognition. It’s not only technically outstanding, but the story is quite charming and poignant.


Well, what do you think about the nominations? Feel free to chime in on who you’re rooting for or those who you think have been snubbed.

Musings on the Razzies 2011 nominations

Just a day before Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow morning, the Golden Raspberry Award, best known as the Razzies released their own list of *honorees* :D The third Twilight installment The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and M. Night Shyamalan’s fantasy flick The Last Airbender tied for the most nominations with 9 each. I think both of them are shoo-ins for the worst movies, as well as Sex and the City 2 and Vampires Suck (let’s face it, the filmmaker of that vampire spoof flick might actually be dismayed if it weren’t nominated!). Check out the Razzies official site for a full list of nominees (ironically, I think their site should be nominated for the worst web design!)

One name I wish I didn’t see among the nominees is my fave Gerry Butler (nominated for Worst Actor in The Bounty Hunter). Now, I think there are far worse actors that belong in that category (i.e. Sam Worthington in Clash of the Titans, Sylvester Stallone or Jason Statham in Expendables), but y’know what, I can’t exactly disagree it was just a terrible role. After all, it prompted me to write this open letter to him. I think he’ll probably just laugh this one off, but I also hope this will motivate him to be involved in much better quality stuff in the future, such as the two of his upcoming roles in Machine Gun Preacher, Coriolanus and hopefully Burns!

I personally think the Razzies is a fun diversion from all the typical award shows, and those who have a sense of humor like Sandra Bullock (who won an Oscar AND a Razzie in the same year) can appreciate and just have fun with it.  My pal and blog contributor Ted explains why he prefers to watch the Razzies over the Oscars:

I’m not a big fan of award shows, especially the Oscars. To me award shows are just pretentious and aren’t entertaining to watch. The Razzies on the other hand is a fun and very engaging show. I mean they nominate the worst of the worst in Hollywood and it’s actually entertaining to watch, well more like read about since no network on TV broadcasts it. I hope someday a network like Comedy Central will pick it up and show it, I’ll definitely tune in but I might be in the minority here.

The last time I watched the Oscars was probably back in 2000 or 2001 season and boy it felt like I was watching a UN Summit or something. I mean come on, why are these entertainers so serious on the show? I mean they’re entertainers, they’re supposed to entertain us the viewers! It’s not like they’re changing the world with their films or anything. I’m a huge film geek, but man, lighten up for once! I believe both Steve Martin and Chris Rock host the show once and never asked to come back to host again because they were criticized for being too funny, right? Someone correct me if I’m wrong since I don’t pay attention to the Oscars much.

Again, I’m probably in the minority since I’m a film geek but don’t care for the Oscars. I mean it’s great that high quality films and filmmakers are getting recognized for their work but why does it have to be so serious, have some fun. You guys are entertainers!


So what do you folks generally think about the Razzies? Thoughts on this year’s nominees and who you think deserves to be on this list?

Weekend Viewing Roundup: House of Flying Daggers, Legend of the Guardians

It’s kind of an uneventful weekend for me… it’s just another super cold January day. And when I say cold, I mean face-numbing, ears-hurtin’, still-freezing-my-@$$-off-despite-wearing-two-thick-layer-under-my-pants type of subzero temp. It’s kinda depressing when someone said on the way home from work that “hey, it’s actually 20 degrees ‘warmer’ than this morning” and it’s barely 3 degrees above zero! As if the freezing temp wasn’t enough to dampen one’s weekend, for Vikings fans it’s really quite a blow to see the Green Bay Packers make it to the Superbowl when we didn’t even make it to the Playoff! :(

So yeah, it’s another hibernation weekend for me. We were thinking of seeing that Natalie Portman movie, no, no No Strings Attached, sheesh, I was talking about Black Swan. The subject matter of that rom-com just doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever, but clearly I’m in the minority as it was the box office winner, toppling last week’s Green Hornet. In any case, we didn’t make it to the theater but we had been waiting to see House of Flying Daggers, the Zhang Zimou-directed critically-acclaimed romance drama that my friends recommended me a while ago.

Set during 829 AD China as the Tang Dynasty is in decline and political unrest is on the rise, one of the most powerful rebel groups is the House of Flying Daggers. Two local military captains, Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are ordered to capture the new leader which brings them to a local brothel where they meet a beautiful and captivating blind dancer, Mei (Zhang Ziyi). What follows is a journey through forests and meadows, with Jin posing as a lone warrior vying to gain Mei’s trust as they set out on their journey to the House’s secret headquarter. The plot thickens the further they go, with love blossoming, danger mounting, and nothing is what it seems.

Though I grew up in Asia, I’m not too familiar with Kung Fu movies, nor am I drawn to them. But this film is visually inventive and just all out dazzling, from the exquisite ‘game of echoes’ dance scene to the spectacular fight scenes in the bamboo forest as well as the blizzard battle at the end are breathtaking and a must-see for anyone who appreciates gorgeous cinematography. Apparently the use of colors is Yimou’s signature — kind of like John Woo is with his doves —  and scene after scene is drenched with dramatic colors that is nothing short of a visual feast.

Acting-wise, I think it’s decent, though I have nothing to compare it to as I’m not familiar with any of the actor’s work. Zhang Ziyi is believable enough as a blind person, and as a woman torn between two lovers. Kaneshiro and Lau also deliver strong performances and I see now what the fuss is about Kaneshiro, who’s massively popular in Asia. He’s got quite a screen presence and that valiant quality perfect for a heroic leading man role (he’s like the Asian version of Legolas in this movie with his archery skill). The main issue for me though is the overly convoluted plot and as the film reaches its climax, one revelation after another just keeps piling on top of each other that not only it’s hard to keep track, but also throws me out on a loop. Overall though, it’s more of a style-over-substance kind of film but still far more unique than most of the formulaic fares Hollywood’s got to offer. Highly recommend this one.

Three and a half stars out of Five
4 out of 5 reels


The other movie I saw over the weekend is Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians. I was mostly interested to see how the heck does a director known for violent, R-rated action movies handles an animated feature. Snyder’s style isn’t for everyone, but I happen to be a fan of his work which usually have an epic feel to them. This one is no exception. Well, I guess this is like 300 with owls, even the warrior owls have the same helmet as Leonidas… which makes it um, Le-owl-nidas? Sorry, I can’t help myself.

It starts off innocently enough with story of the legendary owls of Ga’Hoole, which are admired greatly by a young owl named Soren. But then he and his brother get kidnapped and brought to an orphanage of sort called St. Aggie to be brainwashed as soldiers. Soren manages to escape and somehow ends up finding out that the legend of the guardians aren’t a myth after all. The noble owls must fight the wicked rulers of St. Aggie and free the young owls.

This film is rated PG and rightly so, it’s dark tone and intense battle scenes would perhaps scare little children. But my husband and I were pleasantly surprised by it and enjoyed it all the way through. The visuals obviously is the main strength, in fact, as I watched it I wish I had seen it in 3D glory. The flying sequences are especially gorgeous to watch and of course, Snyder’s slo-mo signature are ever present in the various battle scenes. The pace is fast moving and once the action starts, it never lets go, which is what you’d expect from Snyder. The narrative doesn’t quite live up to the amazing visuals, so it’s not as memorable or affecting as How to Train Your Dragon. As Andrew @ theFILMblog said in his excellent review, the drama between Soren and his parents could’ve been developed a lot more. But still, it was engaging enough not to derail the entire movie

The all-star cast boast many British & Aussie thespians such as Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish and Richard Roxburgh. Overall, this is a classic story of good versus evil fantasy done in an imaginative & stylish manner.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

So folks, what movie(s) did you get to see this weekend? Or if you’ve seen either one of these, feel free to add your thoughts.

Random question of the week: Which celeb do you wish to be retweeted by on Twitter?

Happy Friday all!

Those who are a bit of a Twitter addict (like me) or have a Twitter account you visit from time to time, y’know all it’s #FF time (it’s follow friday in case you didn’t know, which is an effective way to promote friends & followers by recommending them to your own followers).

I don’t use Facebook at all, never had much interest in it and I don’t think I ever will. But I LOVE Twitter! In fact, watching the Golden Globes last Sunday was much more fun as I’m ‘conversing’ with my Twitter pals, 140 characters at a time.

Well, one of the coolest things that happens on the micro blogging site is when someone retweet your tweet so their followers can see it, too. It’s quite a compliment when someone thinks your tweet is interesting enough to share to others. It’s apparently such a phenomenon that there are even a bunch of paraphernalia out there displaying sentiments about retweet, such as this t-shirt. And given its popularity, a Twitter movie is inevitable. In fact, someone made a mock trailer of a Twitter movie, as you can see they’re poking fun at the other popular social network site ;)

Anyway, I had the idea to post this when I saw this tweet that was retweeted by director Edgar Wright whom I follow:

I thought that was amusing. Well, I guess that guy/girl got their wish after all. It’s cool that Twitter somehow allows regular folks to potentially ‘converse’ with famous people like that. I don’t follow a whole bunch of celebs as of now, but out of the ones I do, I’d love to get retweeted by Russell Crowe or Zack Snyder, or Simon Pegg. Oh and Nathan Fillion!

So my question to you folks, which celeb do you follow that you wish you’d get retweeted by?

P.S. If you haven’t already, would you follow me on Twitter? :)

Oh lookie here! Cool new X-Men First Class pics and teaser poster

Oooh, my inner fangirl has been so spoiled lately! Forget Spider-man and Captain America, the superhero movie I’m hugely anticipating this year is X-Men: First Class prequel, especially the Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy casting.

You’ve probably seen this banner with all the cast in their mutant suit. As much as I’m excited to see anything from the upcoming flick, I thought the image looks like a bad Photoshop job (that turns out to be a fan-created so that explains the dismal quality). But yesterday, a few additional photos were released that look a heck of a lot better and more realistic. I mean, these people look like they were actually being photographed together. I’m digging the retro 60s look, and I think the cast is great. I just realize Rose Byrne is in this one, I like her. And Jennifer Lawrence has been generating lots of buzz with her performance in Winters’ Bone. I’m also looking forward to seeing the talented young Brit Nicholas Hoult (the one with the glasses) as the young Hank McCoy (Beast).

All photos courtesy of LA Times’ Hero Complex Blog

X-Men: First Class Cast

To see the whole cast list, check out its IMDb page

James McAvoy as Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto

As for the teaser poster, they pretty much went with the ‘X’ emblem route that have been used for the previous X-Men flicks (this one for X:3 with Wolverine’s claws is my favorite). The only difference is this one looks a little more retro with the serif font. If you don’t know anything about this film and what ‘school for the gifted’ means, it almost look like a poster for a Roman swords & sandals film as the whole thing kinda looks like a bronze shield.

I wish they’d just release the trailer already, I mean this movie is supposed to be released June 3rd, you’d think they’ve got at least a teaser trailer of some sort. Just as a comparison, Green Lantern is released two weeks later than this one but we’ve already seen its trailer like a month ago. Well, all we got so far is this trailer description that The Daily Blam released earlier this month. Here are some of the highlights:

● Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellan voice over the opening lines about destiny and which side will you stand for as scenes of each in their previous X-Men movie roles flash until the entire screen flashes from white to black.
● A very young Xavier and Erik meet for the first time, followed by a different angle of the scene from the opening of X-Men in the concentration camp.
● Scene transitions to Erik yelling dramatically as metal tables in the room begin to float around him. Xavier and Mags shake hands with a tall man in a lab coat introduced as Dr. McCoy.
● The words “The other was too far gone” flash as a very pissed off Erik storms through a hallway killing guards as he passes them.

And for more First Class goodies, MSN also got an interview with Michael Fassbender where he discussed his role as Erik Lehnsherr (a.k.a Magneto). You can read it here. I absolutely can’t wait for this movie, though I kinda feel bad for director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake) who seemed really stressed out based on this Hero Complex article. Looks like this is the first time he’s got to work against an extremely tight deadline, whilst he’s used to working on small films that might not even find a distributor! I hope that the studios cut him some slack, I mean, I’d rather wait a few more months if need be than seeing this suffer from a rushed production.


What say you, folks? Are you as excited about this movie as I am?

Hollywood Fantasy Draft Pitch II: Last Voyage of The Valentina

LOGLINE

Based on the novel by Santa Montefiore (yup, that’s the author’s real name!), Last Voyage of The Valentina is a romance mystery taking place between war-torn Italy at the end of WWII and aristocratic London in the early 1970s. The story switches back and forth between Italy and London in the span of about 25 years.

The story begins with a brutal murder at an Italian palazzo in 1945. Twenty years later, this unsolved crime touches the live of the story’s protagonist, Alexa (changed from Alba in the book), a hedonistic but unhappy woman who lives on a houseboat on the Thames named after her mother, Valentina. Propelled by her discovery of a portrait of the mother she never knew, Alexa is determination to find out the truth, which takes her back to Incantellaria, an unexpected jewel hidden within the red cliffs and caves of the Amalfi coast where her parents first met. Themes of love, obsession, decadence and betrayal peppered the drama as she delves deeper into her forbidden past. With the ‘alluring woman of mystery’ that is her mother at the center of it all, the revelation might just be the key of finding happiness in her own future.

BACKGROUND

I picked director Joe Wright for his work in Atonement (also based on a novel), as I think he’d be able to handle a dark, mysterious tale that’s also unabashedly romantic. After only three full-length features (Hanna will be his fourth), he’s quite an accomplished director who’ve won a BAFTA and was the youngest director ever to have a film open the Venice Film Festival with Atonement. His movies are often beautifully-shot, which is crucial for this story for its depiction of the Italian setting and he’s also displayed a capable hand in handling films with multiple flashback scenes. Also, I’d like him to incorporate one of his long tracking shots, such as this continuous 4.5-minute shot of the Dunkirk evacuation.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

For the rationale of why I selected these actors for each role, visit my Dream Cast post. Special thanks to Prairiegirl for lending me the novel and for being a consultant for this pitch.

Charlize Theron as Alexa Arbuckle
The protagonist of the story. 26-year-old Alexa is the daughter of British naval officer Thomas Arbuckle and the alluringly mysterious Italian beauty Valentina. She’d also play the young Valentina during the flashback scenes (where she’ll be sporting dark brown locks), which would require Charlize to get some dialect coaching to prep for the role.

Long-legged, tanned skin, with long wavy dark hair and piercing blue-grey eyes, Alexa is strikingly beautiful and a free-spirit. Men are drawn to her like bees to honey, but her endless succession of lovers leave her empty and unfulfilled. She may be tough to root for at first due to her hedonistic nature, but she grows up as the story progresses.

Rufus Sewell as Fitzroy Davenport
Viv’s literary agent who pines for Alexa. Described in the book as attractive in a very aristocratic way: intelligent eyes that sparkled with humor; a wide, infectious smile; a strong chin and jaw line; scruffy, with dark curly hair.

Ever so charming yet kind, Fitz plays a large role in Alexa’s quest for her mother and becomes the man she deeply falls for. Rufus is no stranger to romantic roles, as well as being the heartbroken one. But he’s not all longing sigh and yearning gaze, which is why his sense of humor and playfulness will come in handy in spicing up the character.

Michael Fassbender as Gabriele Ricci
Yes I know Fassbender is German but with some tan and dark hair, I think he has no problem playing an Italian gentleman. Witty, gallant and reassuring, Gabriele is the Italian Samaritan who helps Alexa get to Incantellaria after she’s robbed penniless. His part is small but prominent, and with his smoldering quality, he is sure to leave an indelible mark to the viewers.

Alan Rickman as Thomas Arbuckle
I love Rickman’s sensitive portrayal as Col. Brandon in Sense & Sensibility. As Alexa’s estranged father, Thomas rarely speak of his lost love Valentina. Now a wealthy man after the war, the former naval captain has since been married to Margo and has additional children, but he is constantly burdened by his memory of his first love.

Emily Watson as Vivienne ‘Viv’ Armitage
Watson is a passionate and versatile actress who’ll imbue the character of a late 30s London novelist with wit and whimsy. She lives on a boat next to Alexa’s and is the one who introduces Fitz to Alexa. Though Viv is fond of Alexa, she’s also weary of her and knows what the girl is capable of. She constantly warns Fitz not to fall in love with Alexa.

Brenda Blethyn as Margo Arbuckle
As Alexa’s stepmother, Margo can never seem to compete with a dead woman. Despite Alexa’s aversion, Margo is always civil with her difficult step daughter, as well as provide the stability that Thomas needs. Blethyn has a way of portraying a sympathetic female protagonist with a heart.

Rupert Penry-Jones as the young Lit. Thomas Arbuckle
This strapping lad seems born to wear a naval uniform, ehm. Thomas falls hard and fast for Valentina the second he sees her in the crowd of the Italian harbor. After being at sea for over three years patrolling the Italian coastline, Thomas is ready to settle down with the love of his life. When he finds out Valentina is pregnant with Alexa, he’s ecstatic… until her life is robbed far too soon, leaving him devastated.

Alfred Molina as Falco Fiorelli
Alexa’s Italian uncle who’s the same age as her father, late 50s. He’s got brooding looks and formidable physique and a sadness in his dark eyes, making him appear older than he is. He and Thomas harbor a deep, dark secret about Valentina’s death which still haunts him since.

Raoul Bova as the young Falco Fiorelli
Valentina’s eldest brother who came back from the war around the same time Thomas came back to fetch Valentina to England. He’s the only person who knew the truth that Valentina isn’t as innocent as she seems.

Rosamund Pike as Caroline Arbuckle
Thomas and Margo’s eldest daughter and Alexa’s stepsister who’s three years younger than she. She works in a Mayfair art gallery owned by the Arbuckle’s close family friend. She really wants to like Alexa but can’t figure her out.

Maggie Smith as Lavender Arbuckle
Thomas’ 70+ year-old mother who took baby Alexa in when he came back from Italy and loved her as her own daughter. She acts as if she were indifferent about Alexa when in reality she’s actually bitter about being cast aside when Thomas married Margo.

Alessandro Nivola as the Italian stranger
The tall and handsome stranger that caught Alexa’s eye on the plane. He’s flirtatious and incredibly charming, the quintessential Italian playboy.

Franco Nero as Marchese Ovidio
Seventy-something Incantellaria aristocrat who lives on the mansion on a hill, Palazzo Montelimone. Strikingly handsome with slicked-back gray hair, with straight Roman nose and aquamarine eyes. Educated at Oxford, he holds himself with the poise of a prince.


The film opens in 1945 Italy with a quick scene of brutal murder at an Italian palazzo. Two men came in the thick of night armed with knifes. The victim had been expecting them, he knew why they had come and he was ready, unafraid to die. Up until his throat was sliced he was still triumphant, his last words were “Kill me, but don’t forget that I killed you first.”

ACT I

London 1971 – Viv and Fitz were standing on the deck of Viv’s houseboat on the Thames in a balmy Spring evening. They spied on Alexa who’s ‘entertaining’ one of her lovers on her houseboat. It’s right after her tryst with Rupert, one of her many lovers, that Alexa noticed a brown scroll of paper from between the slats under her bed. She stared at the portrait sketched in pastels and felt a rush of emotions overcame her, it’s like looking into a mirror and the woman’s eyes seemed to follow her as she’s unable to look away. At the bottom of the picture, written in Latin, dum spiro, ti amo (“While I breathe, I love you”) and signed in ink Thomas Arbuckle.

Alexa confronted her father about the portrait and demanded to know more about her mother she never knew. She was resentful that her father had been too busy to build a new family with Margo after Valentina died, and the more children he had, the less Alexa felt that she belonged in the traditional upper-class family. Thomas rarely talked about Valentina, though her presence was still felt in the room, in his eyes. Arguments ensued as Thomas insisted that the past should belong to the past and though he loved her mother, she’s now dead and nothing could ever bring her back. Fuming, Alexa left and vented to her neighbor Viv about her desire to find out more about who her mother was. Viv then suggested that her best friend and literary agent Fitz helped her concoct a plot to dupe her father into divulging details about her mother. Viv’s grand plan is for Alexa and Fitz to spend a weekend together as pretend couple to win the Arbuckles’ heart, and for Fitz to bond with Thomas so that he’s comfortable enough to share about Valentina’s whereabouts. As Fitz had such a huge crush on Alexa, he promptly agreed.

Off to Beechfield Park Mansion where the Arbuckles live, a red-brick and flint,300-year-old house that was passed down from Thomas’ grandfather. Though Alexa only wanted Fitz to charm her parents for her own cause, Fitz actually genuinely wanted the Arbuckles to think well of him and he hoped Alexa would return him with love. Just as Fitz had hoped, that night Thomas poured his heart out as the night wore on and the more wine they drank. As he sat in the worn leather chair in his study, Thomas revealed to Fitz who Valentina was and how she had captivated him. La bella donna d’Incantellaria, he referred to her, and that every time he looked at Alexa, he saw Valentina.

Mission accomplished. Fitz happily reported back to Alexa who was already waiting for him in bed. They didn’t make love until the following morning, and for the first time, Alexa actually spent the night with a man in bed without offering her body to him.

ACT 2

Flashback to Italy, 1944 – Young Lieutenant Thomas Arbuckle and his fellow British naval officers arrived in the Italian harbor of Incantellaria. Thomas and his naval crew was tasked to investigate about an arms dump left by the German army to make sure they didn’t fall into the wrong hands. It’s on the way to the munitions dump, on the quayside, was where Thomas first laid eyes on Valentina and fell for her instantly. At first he lost her in the crowd but later when the town carabiniere (Italian police), Lattarullo took them to the only restaurant in town, he was reunited with her, as Valentina was the youngest daughter of the trattoria’s owner, Immacolata Fiorelli. During his brief stay in Italy, Thomas and his friends were also invited to tea by the town’s aristocrat, Marchese Ovidio at his home, Palazzo Montelimone. Just as they left his house, he ran into a handsome young boy, Nero, who ran errands for the marchese.

Following a highly-superstitious ceremony that Valentina’s family attended religiously, Thomas and Valentina retreated from the townspeople to the beach where they made love. But in the morning, he had to go back to the war.

ACT 3

London 1971 – After sharing an intimate weekend together, Fitz was seemingly able to convince Alexa to be exclusive with him. Fitz had become more than a lover to Alexa, he was also her friend. For a brief few weeks, they were happy together until Alexa demanded that Fitz come to Italy with her, but he felt that’s something she needed to on her own. When Fitz refused, Alexa broke up with him. Fitz was devastated but with Viv’s encouragement, he did not relent. Alexa told her father that she was going to Italy with or without his support.

Flashback to Italy, May 1945 – Thomas returned after the war to see Valentina again. He had received a letter from Valentina nine months prior that she had gotten pregnant with their baby, which made him even more desperate to see her. When the townsfolk saw him, they were ecstatic. Valentina came to him with their 3-month old baby in her arms. Immacolata gave her blessings and they soon planned their wedding as they both took care of little Alexa. Thomas then met the rest of the Fiorelli’s family. Three of Valentina’s four brothers had come back after the war, with Falco the eldest who became the head of the family since their father died in the war. Falco didn’t warm up to Thomas right away. In fact, he seemed to be resentful of her sister Valentina as well and that night, Thomas overheard them arguing fiercely but he just shrugged it off and thought that perhaps he didn’t like a foreigner marrying his sister.

London 1971 – Alexa flew to Italy without Fitz. He tried to see her before she left but it was too late. Alexa had a tryst with an Italian stranger who caught her eye on the plane. But she found out in the morning that he had robbed her of all her money. She fled the hotel and managed to trick the ticket agent at the train station for a free ride to Sorrento. But as soon as she arrived, a moment of distraction cost her her luggage. She was robbed twice in the course of 24 hours!

As she cussed loudly in frustration, another Italian stranger noticed her. Upon hearing what had happened to her, the gentleman offered to buy her lunch as well as a boat ride to Incantellaria. Alexa was weary at first considering what she had been through, but she had no choice but to trust him. Gabriele Ricci was a Naples businessman who often spent his summers on the coast. He made good on his promise and Alexa was soon reunited with her mother’s family. Realizing he was out of place in this family reunion, Gabriele slipped away without a fuss, but not before asking Falco to give his card to Alexa.

Alexa bonded with her mother’s family who welcomed her with open arms and joyful heart, even becoming a motherly figure to her 6-year-old relative Cosima, whose mother had ran away with a tango dancer. Alexa finally found a place she belonged, something she had never found where at Beechfield Park where she grew up. But soon she learned the hard truth about her past. At the trattoria one afternoon, Lattarullo revealed that Valentina had been murdered.

ACT 4

Flashback to Italy, 1945 – The day before the wedding. At three in the morning, Thomas was awaken by a frantic knocking on the door by Lattarullo. He had brought the most harrowing news that Valentina was dead. Along with him and Falco, Thomas found Valentina’s body slumped in the passenger seat of a convertible Alfa Romeo with exquisite leather seat and walnut interior. Her throat had been slashed as blood had stained her sequined dress. At first he didn’t recognize her as she was dressed like an elegant courtesan wearing red lipstick, fur stole and sparkling diamonds.

Fast forward to 1971 Italy – Alexa demanded Falco to tell her the truth about Valentina’s tragic death, who finally revealed that Valentina had been living a double life. Her mother had been the mistress of a famous Mafia boss Lupo Bianco who was dead in the driver’s seat. As Bianco had been hunted down by the police for years, his death was a triumph for the town’s police and to them Valentina was simply a victim who was in the wrong place in the wrong time.

Months went by and suddenly Fitz showed up in a warm night in October, just as Alexa was deciding whether to call him or Gabriele. It’s as if fate made the decision for her as Fitz asked her to marry him. A couple of weeks before they went back to London, Alexa took Fitz to Palazzo Montelimoni, determined to find some answers once and for all. The place had become a ruin with walls crumbling and fallen stones swallowed by ivy and weeds. As they stumbled into the room that seemed to have been lived in, someone came behind them. He was startled to see Alexa as if he had seen a ghost as she had been the splitting image of her mother. He introduced himself as Nero, the same young boy Thomas had bumped into after having tea with Marchese Ovidio. Nero told them he was the marchese’s lover who inherited the decaying palazzo. He explained that the marchese had loved Valentina too, and before they left, he gave Alexa a scroll that apparently Valentina had given the marchese.

That day, Alexa solved the case the Italian detectives didn’t bother to crack. It turns out the marchese had wanted to have an heir with Valentina but became insanely jealous when he found out she had become pregnant with someone else’s child and wanted to leave Italy. Falco somehow found out the marchese had killed Valentina, and so he and Thomas planned to sneak into his house in the middle of the night and kill him in the same way he had robbed Valentina’s life. “It was a matter of honor,” he uttered, the same words he said after he slashed the marchese’s throat.

Alexa and Fitz went back to London. Alexa gave her father the painting that he had been looking for, the third and most intimate portrait of Valentina that he drew. But what mattered more to him was that now Alexa knew the truth and the burden has been lifted. Alexa was ready to move on and leave the dark past of Valentina behind. As a symbol of a new beginning, she and her family let her houseboat sink to the bottom of the river. As she and Fitz planned their wedding, Alexa longed for Italy, her heart ached for her new home and the people that she had grown to love, especially Cosima. With a heavy heart, Alexa told Fitz she had to return to Incantellaria.

EPILOGUE

Spring in Incantellaria. Alexa now worked at Immacolata’s trattoria – she’d been working hard buying supplies, setting tables, serving customers, even learning how to cook. As she looked out the window overlooking the beach, she heard the sound of a motorboat growing louder. She walked outside to stand beneath the awning with a basket of apples hanging on her arm. A wave of anticipation overcame her as the boat drew up and a familiar young man descended. She had been taking out and staring at his now rumpled business card she’s kept for months, and thought about the kind man who gave it to her. His dark eyes met with her piercing pale eyes. It was then when he last saw her disappear from his view as she was reunited with her family. It was then that he lost his heart, little did he know he’d ever get it back.


Well, what do you think? Would you be interested to see a movie with this kind of story and cast? Please let me know your thoughts.