Random Question: What movies you wish would get a theatrical re-release?

Hello everyone! Welcome to another collaborative post with my lovely friend Paula G! This time we each came up with five movies we wish we could see on the big screen (either a repeat viewing or for the first time).

Seems like almost every other week nowadays we hear news of previously-released films being shown again on the big screen for one reason or another. Of course Hollywood is all feverish now with the 3D hype so every darn thing is getting the 3D treatment that serves no purpose whatsoever! There’ve been reports that Star Wars, Titanic and The Lion King are all being converted to 3D for a re-release in the near future… apparently both George Lucas and James Cameron are running out of hundred-dollar bills to swim in.

Now, I do think some films are meant to be seen in its big screen glory and obviously there are many we missed out on, either because they’re out before we were born or we simply didn’t get a chance to see ‘em during their theatrical run. I’m fine with digital remastering, just save the unnecessary 3D please, thank you very much!

So without further ado, here are our picks starting with …

Paula’s List:

1. Lawrence of Arabia  (1962)
I just saw David Lean’s Bridge On The River Kwai on a big screen here and I noticed a lot of things I’d missed when watching it on TV, so it’s only logical to choose Lawrence of Arabia, with its desert panoramas and perfect compositions. It’s stunning on a small screen and probably only more so when seen at its proper size.

… 

2. Black Narcissus (1947)
One of my favorite films ever, by my favorite directing duo Powell & Pressburger. The radiant colors and intricate settings would look even better larger, and the denouement would be even more tragic. Possibly some of the visual effects might be more noticeably artificial but Jack Cardiff’s cinematography would thrive.


3. Atonement (2007)
Psst…confession time…I’ve never seen all of Atonement. You know the drill…All together now…”It’s in the queue” But I have seen the 5-minute marvel that is the Dunkirk tracking shot and it deeply affects me. I’ve been known to cry. Not seeing this at a proper cinema is one of my biggest movie-viewing regrets.


… 

4. Valhalla Rising (2009)
OK, so, this film doesn’t have much dialogue. It’s about a one-eyed Viking who ends up on a ship headed for the New World. It’s paced slowly. There’s some nasty violence (though there’s way less than you’d think from watching the trailer) and some really weird stuff goes down. BUT Mads Mikkelsen plays the one-eyed Viking, and it is beautifully shot. It has gorgeous scenic vistas, both glowingly warm and gloomy cold. Between the visuals and the sound, it’s almost sensory overload on a small screen. I can only imagine what effect all of this would have on a big screen.


5. Children of Men (2006)
I have never seen this one on any screen. It may well resemble my nightmares too closely for me to ever see it. But what I have seen of it, including this 10-minute tracking shot below is disturbing and incredible. It was nominated for the Editing and Cinematography Academy Awards and it seems like it should have won.


Ruth’s List:

1. Ben-Hur  (1959)
It’s no secret that I love and greatly admire this film. The chariots scene alone is worth the price of admission, but there are lots to marvel in one of the best Hollywood epic ever. I don’t mind that it’s 3.5 hours long, I’ve seen this film multiple times and there’s not a single seen not worth watching.

… 
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Cowboys & Aliens is out tomorrow, and seeing him wearing that Cowboy hat somehow reminds me of his iconic Fedora as Indiana Jones. I was only a toddler when this movie came out so I didn’t see it until perhaps a decade later with my two twin brothers. We all absolutely loved it, and upon several viewing later, it never lost its appeal. Oh how wonderful it’d be to see Indy’s classic adventures on the big screen.

3. The Rocketeer (1991)
Ok, I’m feeling nostalgic again… especially after seeing the Captain America. I actually saw this on the big screen and I remember discussing it in detail with one of my brothers on the way home. Director Joe Johnston certainly knows how to create a stylish yet authentic retro vibe in his movies, the 1930s Hollywood era he created was awesome, complete with Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes (way more fitting than Leo was in The Aviator) and Timothy Dalton as an Errol Flynn-like movie star Neville Sinclair. They did show it at El Capitan theater with the cast & crew for their 20th Anniversary celebration last April (per HeroComplex), oh how I wish I could’ve been there!


4. Superman: The Movie (1978)
Christopher Reeve was my first ever movie crush, I think some of your already known that. I was only 4-5 years old when I saw it playing at a local cinema next door back in my home country. It was pure magic and I remember renting Superman I and II so many times from the video store that my uncle finally bought me a copy. This Lois Lane chopper scene with that iconic John Williams score never ever fails to move me. Yes, I did believe a man could fly… in fact, I still do :)


5. L.A. Confidential (1997)
I guess I have a penchant for a retro vibe in movies and this noir thriller not only looks good but it’s got one of the best script and ensemble cast ever! It was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 2 (one of them for Best Adapted Screenplay) and I think both Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe each deserved a nod for their performance. It’s such a juicy, multi-layered story full of twists and witty dialog aplenty that would be such a treat to see in a dark theater. I shall dedicate a proper post for this film, perhaps in a couple of months to coincide with its anniversary date of release.



Well, now your turn folks. What movie(s) do YOU wish would get a theatrical re-release? Better yet, share your own top five!

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First Look: Machine Gun Preacher, Shame & Margin Call

Hi all, can I just say for the record that I LOVE Twitter!! I get most of my news from there and it keeps me informed even when I’m out and about on holiday… and in turn I can also inform folks of what’s going on right at that very second something is happening (i.e. when I was at Comic-con). Ok now, before you accuse me of working for Twitter, I just wanna highlight three brand spankin’ movie updates that are worth a look.

MACHINE GUN PREACHER

I can’t believe it’s been exactly a year ago that I posted these behind-the-scene photos of Gerry Butler on the set of Machine Gun Preacher, and we still haven’t got a trailer!

The only official thing they’ve released is this photo of him in Africa as Sam Childers, the former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been kidnapped and pressed into duty as soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army. The story is based on Childer’s autobiography, Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan, and Butler has personally met with the preacher and both of them are promoting the film together, I posted a photo of both of them here.

I found the photo from USA Today, in which Butler described Childers as ‘a guy of our times.’ “There is more complexity in a modern-day character who’s a drug addict and a biker turned businessman, missionary and soldier. You don’t get roles like this very often,” the actor said. Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction) explained his rationale for picking Butler to portray the flawed hero, “He’s one of those movie stars today that I feel is a real man. There are very few around. He has this incredible rawness.” I absolutely agree! I know a lot of people doubt Butler’s talent as an actor but I feel that this year is his moment to shine and prove those people wrong.

I’m also happy to report that both his films Coriolanus and this one will premiere at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) starting September 8th, you can see the full program here. According to the film bio, Machine Gun Preacher runs 123 minutes and Butler also serves as executive producer. This film opens on limited release on Sept. 23, hope it’ll open nationwide not too long after that.

SHAME

This is another film that’ll premiere at TIFF. It stars the ubiquitous Michael Fassbender as a New York man who’s confronting his sexual compulsions and the self-destructive acts of his sister (Carey Mulligan). This is his second collaboration with Hunger director Steve McQueen (the British filmmaker, not the famous classic actor).

Check out the photos below courtesy of SlashFilm:

As you know, I like Fassbender and he’s really on a roll right now. Obviously Hollywood loves him and he’s in the right age where there are tons of roles available to him. It’s great to see him maximize his versatility to the fullest, playing anywhere from a superhero villain in X-Men: First Class, a historical character Carl Jung in Dangerous Method, a bad ass spy in Haywire and now this. I also admire Carey Mulligan after seeing her in An Education and Never Let Me Go. The subject matter isn’t very appealing, but depending on the trailer and reviews, I’d be willing to give this one a shot.

MARGIN CALL

I had never even heard of this one until I saw this trailer today.

Woof! That looks mighty intense. On initial viewing, it kinda reminds me of Wall Street + The Insider and seeing Demi Moore there, a bit of Disclosure. I always appreciate a smart, taut thriller and this one certainly looks promising I’m not good at all with numbers though, so there’s a chance the plot might go a bit over my head.

The ensemble cast is impressive: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy IronsStanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Penn Badgley, and Demi Moore. Ok so I’ve never seen anything Badgley does so he’s probably the only odd man out in this list. I had just seen Tucci in Captain America, and he’s always excellent despite his brief appearance, so he probably will be just as compelling here. Spacey seems to be drawn into ‘office’ type roles lately, I see him in business suits an awful lot, whilst Jeremy Irons seems to struggle with his American accent. He always sounds like Jeremy Irons no matter what movie he’s in :)

I find Quinto to be the most interesting one to watch here, he’s definitely the most promising actor out of NBC’s Heroes. FirstShowing said this movie is one of his favorites from Sundance, “…a dramatic thriller that does put you on the edge of your seat while waiting to see how everything plays out on the eve of a financial meltdown that we’re all very familiar with. Not only is it timely, not only is it entertaining, but it’s just riveting to watch.”

A good thriller doesn’t always need to have a car chase or shootout in it, it’s the impact of what a certain discovery might bring that puts you at the edge of your seat.


Does any one of these interest you, folks? Anyone going to TIFF this year?

FlixChatter Review – Captain America: The First Avenger

This review is courtesy of Ivan Maramis… a.k.a. ze blogger’s hubby :D

When it was first announced that Captain America would be made into the big screen, I thought it was such a preposterous proposition. I know of the comic and am familiar enough to sum it up in a :30 second elevator pitch, but never really read the comics growing up. Seriously… the name, the costume — those two alone should be enough to scare sane movie-makers away from even thinking about coming up with a decent plot. And if the previous attempts are any indication, they should pretty much forget about it.Yet as initial promos/trailers were released, the movie actually looked… promising. And guess what, the final product doesn’t disappoint, either.

Here’s the plot summary taken from the official site:
Captain America: The First Avenger will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving.)
The first thing I noticed was how the movie look resembles that of the Indiana Jones series — and that’s never a bad thing. The sepia tones and the softer, muted color rendition give a stylistic retro feel to the 1940s setting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider that director Joe Johnson directed the similarly-fashioned The Rocketeer, and was also the visual supervisor for Raiders of the Lost Ark. But incorporating this retro look to a superhero genre is especially refreshing considering most major superhero comics were written in the 40s – 60s.

There is nothing extraordinary about the story, especially if you judge it just as another “superhero” movie. It’s an origin story of our protagonist evolving from a scrawny frail guy into a government-approved-steroid-injected dude. Throw in a megalomaniac villain to fist fight with, add some humor and a pinch of love interest in the mix, and you get a pretty safe (possibly bland) formula for a superhero movie. It’s a simple good vs. evil plot. And that’s not necessarily a bad approach. This is the era where politics was much more black and white than it is today, and you know you just have beat the Nazis to win the war.

Steve Rogers... the amazing transformation

Chris Evans gives a believable portrayal as an earnest guy with a pure heart who simply want to serve and protect the country. You sympathize with the character right away, in the same way that Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) discovered him to be the perfect candidate to receive the super soldier serum. But soon after Rogers got his instant body-building look, the experiment facility was burnt down by one of the Red Skull’s men (played briefly by Richard Armitage).
Realizing that Rogers is such an expensive asset to risk in a war, the government instead use him as a celebrity mascot performing in USO tours to entertain the American troops in Europe. He’s given the costume that’s pretty much an American flag wrapped around his body, with a stage name Captain America. Die hard comic fans will immediately recognize that his stage costume IS the classic Captain America suit depicted in the comic.
///\

Remember what I said earlier about the two things that could potentially break this movie? The name and costume were half of the major issue in bringing this character to life in a believable way. But Johnston and his team solve the problem brilliantly by making our good ole’ star spangled Cap attire originated from a campy stage show. It gives a witty nod to the comic, but it also creates a sensible transition as to how Steve Rogers get to keep his identity as the Cap, and eventually wear his stage-inspired but a more practical combat suit. He also got an improved & battle-ready shield, thanks to the brilliant inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper).
Comic fans or not, you might ask why use shield as a weapon of choice? There was a scene earlier in the movie (pre-serum) when Dr. Erskine asked Steve if he is ready to go and kill some Nazis. And Steve responded by saying, “I don’t want to kill anybody. I just don’t like bullies…” Shield is primarily a device to defend and protect, though in more than occasion it served as more than combat armor. It reinforces Steve’s genuine desire to protect the weaklings now that he’s been transformed into a super soldier.

It's not easy being red ...

Hugo Weaving brings in a solid portrayal as the Red Skull. It’s not quite the same caliber as Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning the Joker where he nearly overpowered the film, but Weaving infuses enough authority, pompousness and deranged sensibility to the character (sans the over-dramatic maniacal laugh). I was afraid that his Agent Smith voice from The Matrix would echo heavily here, but his voice actually sounds quite different and his German accent is not over the top or pretentious. Weaving is the epitome of a charismatic leader — whether playing a good guy, or in this case, a bad one.
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The rest of the cast are commendable as well. Atwell’s Peggy Carter brings in a more authoritative and no-nonsense female figure, a refreshing take when compared to the typically-expected damsel in distress. Her relationship with Steve Rogers is convincingly sweet — there’s an palpable chemistry between them yet they it doesn’t move too fast to make it corny. And I can’t ask for a better actor to play Colonel Chester Phillips than Tommy Lee Jones. He’s got the look, the grit and the sarcastic wit and his scenes offer plenty of comic relief. Sebastian Stan’s role as Bucky may be a supporting one, but it plays a critical part in shaping Steve Rogers to become the person that he is. Thus, while the performances perhaps won’t win any major award, the casts work nicely as a strong unit.
Captain America: The First Avengers may not be as mind-bending as the The Dark Knight, but it delivers a satisfying and entertaining fare in the vein of Indiana Jones. The action scenes are engaging enough even without 3D — it’s absolutely unnecessary so if you haven’t seen it, might as well save your money and see it in 2D. Be sure to stay until after the credits to see some special treats from Marvel!
Closing thoughts: The movie is patriotic without being preachy nor overly political, encouraging without being overbearing. It’s simply a good, clean entertainment with a message that the basic trait of a true hero is his or her heart.
4 out of 5 reels

Well, has any of you got a chance to see this movie? I’d love to hear what you think.

Comic-con Day 2: The amazing SONY panels at Hall H

It was really a great day to be at Hall H… I somehow felt that when I was waiting in line and talking to people whilst doing so. But little did I know it was going to be amazing.

As you’ve read on Part I of the Friday coverage, by the time Fright Night panel wrapped, it was already past 4 P.M. and my hubby & I have just downed the worst junk food we could buy — cheese nachos — which was one of the very limited menu available to buy if we don’t want to lose our seat at Hall H. By now, all I really wanted to see from the SONY presentation was The Amazing Spider-man, but we had to get through three panels first before we get to that (btw, the timing here is approximate, I think some of the panels ran a few minutes late).

So, let’s get to ‘em, shall we?

4:00 – 4:30 – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Heh, this is perhaps my least favorite segment of the entire Friday schedule at Hall H. First, I really don’t care for the first Ghost Rider movie. I think it’s one of the WORST movie I have ever seen, worst acting by Nic Cage/Eva Mendez combo, worst story, worst special effect, everything. So I find the idea of a sequel quite repulsive.

In any case, the moderator was Ralph Garmin from KROQ (a radio station I presume?) and he started to introduce the filmmakers and cast for this movie, including Idris Elba and Nicolas Cage. Anyway, the only thing worth watching from this panel was the video showing the extreme directing style of the directing duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, better known as Neveldine/Taylor. Their movies are definitely not my cup of tea… Crank, Gamer (even Gerry Butler still won’t entice me to see it), think Michael Bay-style on steroids. They’re known for their “roller dolly” technique, which involves the camera shooting the film while on roller-blades, they adrenaline-junkies who love to shoot their movies as if they were performing the stunts for the action scenes themselves. Nic Cage aptly called it “daredevil camera work”

Anyway, whilst it was nice to see Idris Elba on the panel, I really just wanted to move on… fortunately this is only a half-hour segment!

4:30 – 5:00 — 30 Minutes or Less

I had missed seeing the trailer which was released before I left on vacation, so I had no idea what this was about. Turns out it’s a comedy by director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) starring Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride (who appeared via satellite video) and Aziz Ansari. Frankly, I’m not familiar with the filmmaker nor the cast (apart from Eisenberg) but y’know what, the trailer and clips were pretty darn funny. Here’s the plot: Two fledgling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery guy, strap a bomb to his chest, and inform him that he has mere hours to rob a bank or else…

The Indian-descent Ansari, who’s a stand-up comic, had the room in stitches with his witty and hilarious comments. He joked about seeing an additional 15 minutes of The Dark Knight Rises and saying how great it was, it was a real hoot. “It was right after the Inception 2 panel!” Ha! He really knew how to poke fun of all the geeks in the room :D

5:00 – 5:30 — Total Recall remake

I just realized that Colin Farrell is at Comic-con to promote not one but two upcoming movies, and both of them are remakes. Underworld director Len Wiseman was on hand again as the sci-fi helmer, along with the full cast of Farrell, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, and his wife Kate Beckinsale.

I don’t remember much of the original with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the early 90s, but the movie was a big hit. Farrell is playing the same character as Arnold, well one thing for sure, the Irish actor is definitely much easier on the eye!

The panel starts out with Wiseman introducing a real rough footage as they’re only halfway through filming, but the director wanted to show something for those who’ve been waiting in line, how nice of him! The footage, albeit rough towards the end, looks pretty cool. This movie wasn’t even on my radar at all but I love a good action sci-fi. One of the screenwriters of the project is Kurt Wimmer who wrote one of my fave sci-fis Equilibrium, so yeah, this looks promising.

Oh, just before we went inside the convention, the hover car and the futuristic Total Recall police force were on display. We had no idea what movie that was from but now we know those were from this movie.

Bryan Cranston from the hit AMC show Breaking Bad is playing villain Vilos Cohaagen. When a fan asked him if he’d be just as ‘bad’ in this movie, he replied, “I get to celebrate badness in Total Recall.” The California actor is a pretty funny guy, he’s got that deadpan humor but I could see how he could be terrifying as a villain. Sounds like this remake will not be as tongue-in-cheek as the original, at least from the footage, it looks more like Blade Runner/Equilibrium in tone.

Ok, now last but definitely not least panel of the day… which is the highlight of my entire time at comic-con!

5:30 – 6:30 — The Amazing Spider-man

The anticipation is climbing higher and higher, you could feel the feverish excitement of the room practically ricocheting through the roof!

The room grew dark and within seconds of the movie title appearing on the big screen, the audience cheers. A few minutes later (which felt like forever), the trailer rolled in, it’s the same one I posted a few days ago but in 3D.

When the trailer ended, a guy in a bright Spider-Man costume rushes to the mic. The moderator immediately said, “No, no we’re going to take questions at the end of the panel.” but the guy kept on insisting. Just like with Andy Serkis, as soon as the boy appeared on the mic I knew it was Andrew Garfield, the star of the movie. I recognized his voice and he had the exact tall, slender built of the actor and I could also see a glimpse of his wavy dark brown hair peeking from behind his mask.

Sure enough, when he took off his mask, the room went wild (including yours truly). In fact, I felt a lump in my throat as I felt the energy of the room and the fact that the day just got better and better. I mean, Thursday I got to see Captain America up close and Friday, another Marvel superhero stood mere centimeters away from me, it was just unbelievable!! [See the two people grinning in the background? See if you could spot who they were :D)

His speech was so earnest and heartfelt I got teary-eyed a bit. Ok so this is my first time at comic-con but I can’t imagine something like this happen very often over there. Alex Billington of FirstShowing said, “In all my years attending Comic-Con, I have never seen any actor, or anyone at all, introduce a panel like this and read their own speech talking about their love for the character they play… It’s one of those unforgettable Comic-Con moments that I know many people will be talking about for years to come.” Spot on, Alex!

The 27-year-old Brit started off by saying how he could truly relate to Spidey as a character… “I needed Spidey in my life when I was a kid and he gave me hope…”  You could see the full speech in the clip below (again, you could see yours truly getting pretty hysterical in the background, he..he…) Just before he ran back to the panel, Garfield threw his Spidey mask towards us, but unfortunately, the guy next to my hubby caught it. Man, that would’ve been an awesome souvenir!!

Besides the trailer, the panel showed us a bunch of exclusive 2D clips. The panel begins with a 2D clip. There are scenes of Peter Parker in his high school days, which shows him being the awkward teen who’s a bit of an outcast and is a victim of bullying. Martin Sheen and Sally Field who play his aunt and uncle also appear in the scene. My favorite part is between Parker and his high school crush Gwen Stacy (the lovely Emma Stone), they have a sweet, almost innocent chemistry as they share an adorably awkward moment.

There are also scenes of Peter after he realizes his power, scenes in the subway, and his encounters with criminals and thieves. The part when he traps a criminal to a wall with his web shows his wisecracking, whimsical side. My hubby said to me afterwards he feels more confident now after seeing the clips, as he felt it brings out the mischievous side of the character that wasn’t quite present in the darker toned- trailer.

The panel consist of director Marc Webb, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach and his co-star Emma Stone. Welsh actor Rhys Ifans joined them a few minutes later, looking disheveled and drunk, which I later learned that he was involved in a scuffle just moments earlier and was actually charged for battery! (per Yahoo! news) Well that explains his strange remark, “You never bring a monster to humanity, humanity brings a monster to you…” Huh??

Garfield on the other hand, makes an interesting analogy about these comic-book stories… “We’re approaching this like it’s Shakespeare, like a Greek myth, these comic book characters are our modern myths… “ He’s also gracious about stepping into a role that was made famous by another actor. When asked by a fan whether he talked to Tobey Maguire, he replied in his usual humble tone… “Every night, every night. He was like a hotline, a suicide hotline. [..] No, I spoke to him after but I did get an amazing message from him through Matt on the day that I got the news that I was taking on this [character] that is greater than him or me. […] But I met him after and he’s the best. I’m Team Tobey, Team Tobey totally.”

Both Emma Stone and Garfield are both lovely and affable. They’re both one of the freshest young talents working today, so I really look forward to see them together on screen. I know a lot of you guys love Emma and I can see why. She’s not just gorgeous but is quite charismatic and quick-witted, she’ll go far. As for Garfield, I’m already a fan of his before, but after this, my admiration for him just grew tenfold. He’s so darn nice that when a fangirl asked him for his name tag, he immediately responded “Oh no, it’s fine, it’s fine. No boos. You can have it.”

I’ve seen three of his movies so far so I know he’s got enormous talent, but it’s nice to see he’s a genuinely level-headed bloke on top of that. I’ll definitely be following his career for years to come.

What a fantastic panel to end the day! I still couldn’t believe how blessed we were that we’re able to get in, let alone got the best seats of the entire hall.


The one that got away…

Henry Cavill at the Immortals panel on Saturday… [sigh] Now, I’m not going to be sulking too much considering the other people I did get to see. But major bummer that Man of Steel got delayed six months from December 2012 to June 14, 2013! Now we have two full years to wait for it…  oh well, hopefully the script will be twice as good.


Well, on that note, that concludes my comic-con coverage. It’s been an exhilarating two days at SDCC and certainly we made the most of them. I hope one day you get to experience being at comic-con at least once in your life, despite the frustration that would REALLY test your patience, it truly is worth the effort and the energy of the place really is contagious and most of all, fun!

Let me know your thoughts about any of the things I talked about on this post. Once again, which movie(s) featured at comic-con are you anticipating the most?

Comic-con Day 2: A day in the life inside the coveted Hall H – Part I

Hello everybody! Pardon the late updates of my second (and last) day at Comic-con. I was hoping to be able to blog Friday night when I came back home but it was already late and our flight was super early on Saturday morning, so it just wasn’t possible. I only had time to take a bit of a nap post flight and off we went to the U2 concert that was delayed from last year for Bono’s back surgery.

In any case, I hope you’ll stay with me as I summarize everything that went on inside the mighty popular Hall H on Friday. I’m happy to report that we actually got to see most of what I had hoped to see that I listed on my Comic-con countdown post, hence the two-part post for the sake of length.

The line to Hall H – Photo courtesy of kellykilmer.tumblr.com

Well, we got there by 7:30 and the line was already quite long but the people in front of us said that the day before they were further back in the line but was still able to sit about halfway inside the hall, so that gave us hope. The hall was finally opened at 10:30 or so… but this year, the organizers were nice enough to put up tents so we didn’t have to be under the scorching hot sun for 3 whole hours! It was surprisingly bearable and actually felt pretty fast as we were chattin’ away about all kinds of movies with a couple of con-goers from Canada [too bad we didn't get their names]. I really think one of the beauty of going to comic-con is to be amongst folks who love movies as much as I do.

Photo courtesy of thechrisevansblog.blogspot.com

It really was a great decision to spend our time in Exhibit Hall on Thursday instead of lining up at Ballroom 20 or Hall H as I wouldn’t have been able to meet Chris Evans @ Marvel booth! Btw, the guy next to him, Michael, was the one holding the bucket of the raffle tickets.

Considering the lineup for Friday, it was truly worth waiting in line for 3 hours. Before I get to my summary for each of the panel, let me just tell you how gratifying it felt to even be able to get into the massive hall. I’ve read all the horror stories of people camping the night before just to get in, etc. and some who lined up for hours and still couldn’t get in. So the fact that we’re able to get a front row seat at the left section right behind the Q&A mic is a huge blessing! Hall H holds 6,500 seats, a giant stage where the panel table is and four jumbo screens so the people way in the back can see what’s happening — but from where we sat, we could actually see the panel itself with unobstructed view. Oh, and because the lights focused on the area when I was sitting during the Q&A segment, sometimes the people on the panel appears as if they’re looking directly at my husband’s camera! :D

So here’s Part I of the rundown from Hall H on Friday … read on:

11 AM – The Adventures of Tintin panel

The day started off with a big bang as one of the most iconic filmmakers, Steven Spielberg, graced Hall H to receive the Inkpot Award before the panel for his massive contribution to films and pop culture. It’s a historical event in itself as it’s also his first time ever at SDCC!! He literally brought the house down as the crowd was cheering at the top of their lungs when footage of his movies were shown during the introduction, I got a bit teary-eyed to see all the movies he did that I saw growing up, like E.T. and Raiders of the Lost ArkPeter Jackson showed up a few minutes later to join him at the panel and we’re given a trailer and some exclusive clips of The Adventures of Tintin in 3D which was awesome! The moderator Geoff Boucher (whom I follow on Twitter) thanked Spielberg for Raiders (which coincidentally is MY all-time fave Spielberg movie), and Jackson for The Lord of the Rings (also my favorite from his work!).

The Q&A section was fun as well, lots of great questions that gave insights to stuff I didn’t know before. Here’s a good question for Spielberg:

What movie did you produced that he wished you had directed?

The answer: American Beauty [wow, that's news to me, I had no idea he even produced that one!]

There’s also an interesting tidbit about Tintin that I was curious about, which is in regards to why The Secret of the Unicorn book was the one chosen for the movie treatment when there were so many other Tintin books that Hergé wrote. Jackson replied that it’s Capt. Haddock’s back story about that involves his ancestor, the 17th century Sir Francis Haddock, and the beginning of his friendship with Tintin that appeals to him.

Oh, speaking of Haddock, Andy Serkis also made a surprise appearance at the panel! A couple of minutes before Q&A session started, he took a seat on the exact same row where we sat, just a couple of people away from me! Everyone next to him were oblivious to his presence but I recognized him right away even with his dark sunglasses on. I kept looking at his direction and was really itching to say hello to him (I mean, he’s Gollum for crying out loud!!), but didn’t want to interrupt what was going on. Sure enough when he went to the mic, the moderator revealed who he was and the room went wild.

The best part of the Q&A is when a fan wearing a t-shirt that says ‘If possible I would like to meet Steven Spielberg just to shake his hand and say thank you very much.‘ When Spielberg saw it, he immediately waved to him to come to the stage. The crowd went wild as two of Hollywood’s greatest directors practically fussed over the guy and took pictures of him with their own personal camera. It was a hoot to see Jackson ‘directing’ the shot of Spielberg shaking the guy’s hand in various poses. You might’ve seen some news footage of the t-shirt-wearing fellow as news people immediately pulled him as he got off the stage and he became the subject of multiple impromptu interviews on the spot. Needless to say, not only did he get to meet his idol, the fan also got his 15 minutes of fame. Awesome stuff!!

Noon – 1 PM — Relativity Media’s The Raven and Haywire

The Raven – Neither one of these movies were on my radar before SDCC but I must say that the trailer shown at Hall H looked pretty gripping. It’s a fictionalized account of the last days of Gothic American author/poet Edgar Allan Poe’s life, in which the poet is in pursuit of a serial killer whose murders mirror those in the writer’s stories. John Cusack plays Poe, whom he called “[the] Godfather of Goth,” and Luke Evans plays detective Emmett Fields in the 19th century period thriller. All the cast and director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) were all present at Hall H. “It’s an art movie and a popcorn movie all at once,” Cusack said during the panel.

The trailer reminds me of Sherlock Holmes but darker and bloodier… “a little bit of Misery, a little bit of Seven” was how McTeigue described the film. Looks pretty good, but I think it’s too spooky for me to see it on the big screen. I’ll post the trailer once it’s available.

Nothing particularly memorable from the panel, I’m actually more interested to see what Luke Evans had to say. He’s one of the up and coming Brits on my watch list and I’m glad he’s got a bunch of projects in the pipeline, including three that I’m really looking forward to see: The Three Musketeers, Immortals and The Hobbit as Bard the Bowman.

Evans & Cusack in The Raven

Haywire – This is another Steven who’s made his debut at Comic-con besides Spielberg. Steven Soderbergh that is, who’s on hand to promote Haywire, about a black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission. So basically a Lara Croft-type who’s a super spy instead of a wealthy archaeologist-adventurer. I’ve never heard of Gina Carano, but apparently Soderbergh discovered the beautiful mixed martial art fighter when he saw her on TV and ended up building an entire script based on her. Based on the trailer below, it’s safe to say she won’t be winning any acting awards (nor would her co-star and fellow panelist Channing Tatum) but she sure is bad ass.

They also showed a clip of her super intense fight scene between Carano and Michael Fassbender (who’s sadly absent from the panel) and the director said the scene was filmed with the actual actors doing the fight sequences, not the stunts. He even said that Fassbender was knocked in the face by a vase despite having trained and warned NOT to look at the vase. Tatum also mentioned being knocked over a few times by Carano during filming. So I guess that’s cool that Soderbergh hired someone who actually could fight in real life [unlike the scrawny Angelina Jolie], but the movie itself doesn’t seem interesting to me (yes, despite Fassbender being in it).

1:30 – 2:30 Underworld 4 and Attack the Block

Underworld Awakening – There’s really not much to say here as I have zero interest to see another Underworld movie. Even my hubby who thinks Kate Beckinsale is one of the most beautiful women ever has no interest in seeing it. The first one was ok but this is really not a worthy franchise. The trailer did nothing to convince me as it only had Kate looking hot in a leather bodysuit going all bad ass doing flips and shooting up a storm. [yawn]

I have to say that director Len Wiseman is just as gorgeous as his wife Kate Beckinsale. He kinda looks like Eric Bana at times, and Kate really is a knockout in a little black dress with her luscious brown locks framing her gorgeous face.

Attack the Block – I first heard about this when my friend John from TDYLF said on Twitter that he got a free screening to see it. The movie about a teen gang in South London defending their block from an alien invasion had been winning rave reviews from various film festivals earlier this year. I can see why, even though it’s not my kind of genre, it looks really well-made and well-acted, despite having mostly young newcomers between the age of 10 and 17. British director Joe Cornish, producer Edgar Wright, and lead teen actor John Boyega were present at the panel and they were all great. Nick Frost (who’s absent from the panel) may be the big name of the movie, but Boyega is poised to steal scenes as the gang leader. He cited Season 4 of HBO’s The Wire as an acting inspiration, “Those great actors create stories through their eyes,” Boyega said. He seemed wise beyond his years, definitely one to watch from Britain.

Cornish, Boyega & Wright at Attack the Block panel

The panel itself was quite entertaining, which is to be expected considering the British humor. Cornish sounds like an impressive visionary director, he seems very confident and knowledgeable about his craft and what he wants from his films/actors. One fan at the Q&A said he had seen the film at a Los Angeles sneak preview and said it was his favorite film of the year, Wright replied, “If it’s the best film you’ve seen all year, then don’t seen any more films!” Cornish cited John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London as his main influence, looks like Attack the Block is poised to be a cult favorite as well.

Btw, the part about him teasing Wright about his silky dark hair was pretty funny, and Wright went on to say people can go touch his hair right outside Hall H after the panel or something of the sort. You know what, now that Cornish mentioned it, Edgar does have amazing hair :D

2:30 – 3:30 – Fright Night remake

This movie wasn’t even on my radar that I didn’t even mention it on my countdown post, but it was actually a pretty entertaining panel. I had seen the original Fright Night (1985) with Chris Sarandon as the scary & seductive vampire so it was great to see him moderating the panel.

This time Colin Farrell takes his place as the vampire next door, and Anton Yelchin plays Charlie, the neighbor who has to save his family from his wrath. Colin is perfectly cast as Jerry Dandrige, as Sarandon aptly said “[Colin] Farrell is feral in this movie.” The Irish actor brings his virile charisma to the panel with his shirt unbuttoned all the way down to his chest… I don’t usually find him all that irresistible on screen, but I must say I found the bloke quite sexy in person. Oh, he also showed a bit even more um, skin when a screaming fan asked for his table top name tag and Farrell went over to the edge of the stage to kneel down to sign it just before he gave it to her. Just as he did that, he inadvertently ‘half-mooned’ the camera before the cameraman realized it and panned away. The director poked fun at him about going commando and Farrell actually blushed a bit as he hiked up his pants and joked about forgetting to remove the pimple on his butt. Ahah, that was freakin’ hilarious!

Back to the panel, there’s Yelchin—who’s quite good in Terminator Salvation and Star Trek— joined by director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), lovely British actress Imogen Poots (Centurion) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad). But it’s David Tennant who stole the show via satellite video announcing the free screening of the movie later that night. The trailer showed the Scottish Doctor Who actor chewing the scenery in his role as a vampire killer masquerading as a Vegas magician Peter Vincent. For a minute there I thought he was Russell Brand with his long, black hair, wearing only black leather pants and crucifix necklace on his bare chest. The trailer also made fun of Twilight which panel had been at Hall H the day before, no surprise there.


That’s it for Part I, folks. Stay tuned for a full Captain America review coming tomorrow, as well as Part II of the SONY Pictures panel presentation that includes Ghost Rider 2 (yes I know, I WON’T be watching that), 30 Minutes or Less, Total Recall and last but definitely NOT least, The Amazing Spider-man! If you have a keen eye, you might be able to spot me and hubby in some of the pics and clips that have been circulating all over the net of Spidey star Andrew Garfield pretending to be a fan asking a question from the Q&A mic ;)

So which ones of these films are you looking forward to the most? Comments/questions welcome.

My first day at Comic-Con… and meeting Captain America!

Hello there friends, just a quick update from my first day at San Diego Comic-Con. I’m going to keep this brief as we just got back to our hotel at around 11 and we’re exhausted. But I just wanna give a quick update as promised. Pardon the lack of our own photos as we haven’t got time to load them into my laptop, yet, so I’m borrowing other people’s pics for now.

Well, we survived our first day ever at comic-con! Phew! Truthfully, even though we arrived early at the event (just before 7:30 AM), it seemed we weren’t early enough. Lots of people were already lining up for various things, registration, getting into the exhibit hall, etc. It’s quite frustrating at first as people gave us wrong information on where to get stuff, etc. I won’t bore you with the details as it’s probably just the case of us being a newbie, but I wish that all the volunteers had been more well-informed (not to mention friendlier) and have consistent information to help people like us. In any case, by around 8 or so, we’re already lining up to get to the Exhibit Hall that opens at 9:30.

As soon as the door opened, we rushed to get to the Marvel booth, or you can call it The Avengers booth as the whole stage is emblazoned with the movie’s logo and paraphenilia. There’s the Captain America uniform and boots right in front of the stage in a glass case, as well as other Marvel items. Speaking of the Captain… well, a couple of days ago I told you about the Chris Evans signing at the booth? Well, that’s the reason we rushed to get there so we could get in line for the raffle.

CapAmericaSignedPostcardGuess what friends… I WON! Thank you for your prayers, I ended up being one of the 100 lucky ones who picked up the winning ticket from the bucket! :D :D So after about two hours in line (PLUS the waiting to get inside the hall) I did get to meet Chris Evans up close and got a signed poster and postcard from him. I’m glad that I didn’t end up getting the free screening tickets for that morning or I wouldn’t have been able to get to the Marvel booth to win the signing!

I wish I could get a picture taken with Chris but the guy in front of me wasn’t able to take a clear shot, but that’s ok, I think my hubby who was in front of the stage took some pics of him up on the stage that I’ll post later. As we’re so rushed by the Marvel staff, I didn’t really get a chance to say a word to him. Partly I was also in some sort of a daze so when he said, ‘hi, how’re you doin’?’ All I said back was, ‘Good, how’re you?’ Seriously!! He handed me back the signed postcard with a friendly wink, and I was sort of speechless when I left the stage. I feel like such a dork now, I wish I had said something intelligent to him.

Ah well, in any case, he definitely looks just as handsome in person and genuinely affable. He’s got a dark navy blue sweatshirt on and khaki cargo pants (see pic of him on the right that someone took at the screening) Nothing flashy, he seems like a regular, humble guy with no superstar attitude. At the end of the signing, he made a brief speech about how proud he is of the film and that it makes it easy for him to promote the film (I think he said something about this being the first time he had to do a full promo ‘tour’ for a movie as the lead actor).

Speaking of the film itself, we just got back from seeing it over and hour ago. I’ll have my review when I get back [review is now here] but my initial reaction is I really like it! I truly sympathize and respect the man behind the hero, and he’s a much more relatable person than most superheroes out there as he starts out as such a weakling. The movie also looks good, LOVE the retro vibe but that’s to be expected from the director who made The Rocketeer. So far the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes stands at 70% and I agree with the critics’ consensus: With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment.

Of course it’s not every day that I meet the actor the morning of seeing the actual film, but I think I’d still enjoy it as much if I had seen in under an ordinary circumstance. Oh, we also scored this awesome retro Tyler Stout’s posters at the screening. Pretty awesome stuff!

Anyway, that’s all the update I can give you right now. It’s way late and I have to be up early again to hopefully get into Hall H to catch the Tintin panel and The Amazing Spider-man later in the afternoon. Stay tuned for more updates folks!

In the meantime, let me ask you this – what do you think of Captain America so far? Are you gonna see it this weekend?

THIS JUST IN! The Amazing Spider-Man Teaser Trailer

Woo hoo! The geek fever is in full swing as the first day of Comic-Con is underway. My hubby and I went to the Convention Center late afternoon to retrieve our badge for tomorrow and I must say it was quite exhilarating to see all the folks donning the ginormous Marvel backpack (it’s big enough to swallow me whole!) and people all dressed up in costumes (I’ll post pics as I have ‘em later).

It’s to be expected that we’ll be seeing a massive amount of trailers released this week to coincide with this event, but still I’m quite surprised to see this one to come out so early. Just late last week the studio released some official stills via EW, I posted one of them on my Comic-Con countdown post, and it seems as if just a few weeks ago I saw some fan-pics from various film set. Well, in any case, the teaser is here now …

My initial reaction is I dig it. I guess I’m already predisposed to liking it as I like Andrew Garfield and I think he’s a talented young actor, though perhaps he’s a bit too good looking for the role. Can’t really picture someone who looks like THAT as an awkward teen who’s not popular in high school, but I trust that he’ll make it work somehow. I also dig the origins story Marc Webb is going with this. Yes, I realize lots of people probably are muttering, ‘EVERYBODY knows Spidey’s origin, what’s the use in retelling that story over again?’ Well, be that as it may, I think there’s some potential storyline worth exploring here, such as what really happened to Peter Parker’s real parents. In the beginning of the trailer, we saw Peter’s dad talking to the him that it’d be safer for him to live with his aunt and uncle, so we’ll likely get more than a glimpse of his family’s backstory. As Spider-Man won’t be in the upcoming Marvel super combo pack The Avengers, not sure if there’ll be some references of  S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division).

Of course it’s too early to tell how the final product will turn out, but y’know, as someone who didn’t really care if I’d ever see another Spider-man movie again, I’m actually pretty intrigued now. It’s seems a lot darker, more brooding and less whimsical than the Sam Raimi versions but again, it’s only a teaser, given what Webb did in his debut film (500) Days of Summer, which is both funny and poignant, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Well, most of you probably have seen this by now, so what do you think? 

Captain America signing @ Comic-Con on Thursday!

Hi everyone! Greetings from California!

We’re en route to San Diego this morning and boy, I’m already so excited for my comic-con debut tomorrow! Well, sounds like Marvel ain’t abandoning comic-con after all, as I just saw this exciting news today just before I went to bed last nite:

Per SuperheroHype, Marvel announced the following for The Avengers at Comic-Con:

All ready for the fun and excitement that Marvel is bringing to Comic Con International in San Diego this week? Well we’re ready to turn it up a notch by announcing the signing schedule for “Marvel’s The Avengers!” Here’s your chance to meet some of the superstars involved in the highly anticipated major motion picture – only at the Marvel Booth (#2329) during the convention!

THURSDAY, JULY 21 | 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
CHRIS EVANS – CAPTAIN AMERICA

(Clark Gregg & director Josh Whedon will also be doing the signing Friday & Saturday respectively)

Woo hoo! I know it’s some sort of a raffle so I might NOT be fortunate enough to get the signing ticket but hey, everyone’s got the same chance right so wish me luck that either my hubby and I would indeed be able to get in front of Chris Evans!

I’ve read a couple of the reviews of this movie already and they both have been positive so I’m really looking forward to see this movie now. In fact, since we didn’t score the free screening at 10 on Thursday, we’ve bought tickets for later in the evening so we’ll indeed see it a day early before its official release. Can’t wait! :D

Well, that’s the update for now, folks, stay tuned for more updates of the event as soon as I’m able to. Again, say a little prayer for me that I can get the signing ticket! Thanks everyone and hope you’re all well. Cheers!

Guest Post: An in-depth look at Tequila Sunrise (1988)

Special thanks to Michael Alatorre – the sharp-witted blogger of It Rains … You Get Wet (even his blog name is clever!) » Follow Michael on Twitter


Every summer I make it a point to watch one of my favorite movies, Robert Towne‘s Tequila Sunrise. And, this year was no exception. Released in 1988, it is the second directed feature from the writer of another great Los Angeles movie classic and noir thriller, Chinatown. It is a wonderfully layered neo noir film set in the distinct South Bay area of L.A. Although, I often ponder if I hadn’t attended junior college right after high school (and spent a formative portion of my student life in and around that southern region that ends at the beach), would I care as much as I do for this film? Here, I’ll let the Captain Renault-like character from the movie answer that:

Probably not, but who knows what he’s really up to? I mean you’re snitch isn’t going to tell us… ~ Lt. Nick Frescia

Set at the end of the Reagan-era 80′s, with a soundtrack to match (like a few of us, I can’t help but associate Crowded House’s Recurring Dream with this movie), Tequila Sunrise is a brooding tale of deceit and betrayal, but primarily it is a film of friendships, set in a small corner of the Drug War between cops and smugglers. Some have criticized this film for being confusing (and its production history may have something to do with that). But at its core, it is a solid character-based melodrama that is laced with ambiguity and some ever-moving boundaries. Just about everyone in this film is not quite what you’d first assume. If you enjoy a film that needs close watching, with intricate character motives — regardless of clear moral distinctions — this one is for you.

For Tequila Sunrise, Mel Gibson plays Dale (Mac) McKussic, a retired South Bay cocaine smuggler of legendary proportions. Interestingly, Gibson was not the first choice in the antihero role — it was initially envisioned for the likes of Jeff Bridges or Harrison Ford. Certainly, I think Bridges could have pulled it off, but I have my doubts that Ford would have been as successful here as Gibson is in this character. [Note: recent train wreck behavior aside, I’m only here to speak about the actor as it pertains to this film and his role in it] For me, he was unafraid to convey the darker aspects of this part (see 1999′s Payback) — something Ford would likely have pushed to tone down. And I doubt other big name actors would have undertaken a role like this, one so on the other side of the objective. Remember, this was the period of ‘Just Say No’, and a push back on the cause célèbre for then First Lady Nancy Reagan. Here, the character wants to remain disengaged from his former living in the drug business (in a capacity that he’s been so good at for so long) and a chance at an ordinary family life. But, as he puts it:

“… nobody wants me to quit.”

Not so much opposing him, but being the flip side of a ethically dubious coin, is Lt. Nick Frescia (who at the start, newly heads up L.A. County’s drug enforcement unit). Most crime fiction (in book or film) centered in the City of the Angels, makes use of the well-known LAPD. To his credit, Towne lets the location set the story’s law enforcement entity — and it provides an absorbing contrast with the lesser-known (and larger) L.A. Sheriffs. The vastly underrated Kurt Russell plays this character as a smart, slick operator capable of breaking the law whenever it helps him enforce it. Again, Kurt was not the primary choice for this role. Now, can you imagine Alec Baldwin or Nick Nolte as this? They were up for it. Even the then L.A. Laker coach, Pat Riley, was envisioned for the role. Which by way of style and manner, Kurt pays homage to in his performance. Like Mel, Russell is quite capable of playing the ambiguous lead (see the later Dark Blue for further proof). Even when he’s not speaking Towne’s crisp dialogue, Russell is equally adept without words. His facial expressions during his wordless observation of a DEA interrogation are simply masterful. Watch him throughout and I think you’ll see why Nick’s character in a league with certain Vichy police captain.

Jo Ann: “That’s an awful lot of money.”

Mac: “Uh, fifteen million dollars.”

Jo Ann: “That is an awful lot of money.”

Mac: “Yeah, well. Money makes people predictable, at least. They’ll never be reliable.”

To really begin to understand these two characters, southern Cal-native, and renowned screenwriter, Robert Towne sprinkles his well-known and sharp dialogue throughout the movie as a way of building Mac and Nick’s history and the plot line. Hence, the reason a few quotations appear in this post. The story makes clear these two protagonists friendship is long, and probably always rivalrous, as guys are known to be. And, it is the key point of the tale. The writer/director also has a keen eye to the strangest of relationships: those life-long friendships that arise, and are tempered, in the furnace known as high school. I don’t know anyone who claims H.S. was ever a smooth and simple part of his or her life. Indeed, it provides a great springboard for the story, one that the screenwriter effectively mines quite well. The characters friendship has continued, and intertwined even more, despite their paths veering to opposing sides of the law.

Nick:” You got one chance, buddy, turn yourself in.”

Mac: ”What for?”

Nick: “What for?!?”

Mac: “Yeah, what for? I told you I had an accounting problem in the restaurant. I’ve been holding on to money for someone, and he’s here to pick it up. I mean it’s his money.”

Nick:” I wanna get this straight. You’d kill me over drug money?”

Mac: “Well… it’s a lot of money.”

The primary impetus for the trouble to come is from the outside. For Nick, it’s the unwelcome intervention by DEA agent Hal Maguire, done to slimy perfection by an extraordinary character actor who is greatly missed since his passing. J.T. Walsh built a career playing either the villain (Breakdown) or the almost invisible but vital support (A Few Good Men) in film and TV duty. In this role, he’s in top form as the smarmy Fed… and the one who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Maguire presumptuously maneuvers Nick to seek to nail his friend Mac (who he likes) to do his job for him (who he hates) so as to keep his friend out of federal custody.

Jo Ann: “What is it, Nick? You need some chapstick or lip-gloss or something cause your lips keep getting stuck on your teeth. Or, is that your idea of a smile?”

Nick: (smiling and embarrassed) “That’s my idea of a smile. Ah, man. You are… you’re tough.”

For Mac, coincidentally, it’s the complication of another friend’s arrival. In this case, the drug overlord “Carlos” is coming to town to clear up “an accounting problem.” Without giving too much away, the other greatly missed actor who co-stars, the late Raul Julia, gets to have loads of fun playing the mysterious Mexican cop Javier Escalante (brought in by Maguire to help arrest this crime lord). Julia, who once played Guido Contini in the original Broadway play of Nine, (don’t get me started on Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of same) gets to showcase why he was so good on stage and on film.

Further muddling matters are Mac’s longing for restaurateur Jo Ann Vallenari. The gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer plays her for all her smart and sexy toughness, in a befitting role for a neo noir film. And it wouldn’t be melodrama if there weren’t a triangle in there. Naturally, all of this is made even more difficult when Nick immediately sees her as someone who can help him with his case against his longtime bud. However, the lieutenant is just not prepared for his feelings, the resulting consequences for both he and Mac, and the choices true friendship sometimes demands. All will dovetail to a fiery and passionate confrontation among friends in a fog-shrouded scene in Long Beach harbor.

Tequila Sunrise is a film that has been somewhat forgotten and dismissed. Though some see it as dated, the decade of the 80s remains distinct, and this drama offers a good display of the era and its ramifications. High concept it’s not. Still, the film is nothing if not a entertaining primer on the twists and turns of the bonds that link us, and the implications of choice upon them. Of course, this movie plays better for those who watch carefully and enjoy the craft of a master scriptwriter. But, if you stick with it, by the end it is so worth it, IMO. The additional visual treat of this movie is the great cinematography on display throughout by the famed Conrad Hall. For instance, one standout scene has to be the sunset summit sequence between Mac and Nick on the beachside with a spectacular sunset going on in the background. If you listen to the top-notch commentary track by producer Thom Mount (who gives some great insight on the film’s production) on the impromptu locale of that section of the film, you’ll discover how remarkable was its result. A big credit to has to go to the late-cinematographer and crew for what they achieved in the scene that had time and that setting sun against it.

The 1997 DVD is now very long in the tooth and is certainly in need of re-issue, remastering, and new extras. Hopefully, a future disc will offer broader input from all those involved for how the film evolved to its final cut. It would be interesting to hear more from Robert Towne about the production, which this DVD lacks. However, I suspect Gibson’s current reputation is now a hindrance to a new studio disc release. There was some contention mentioned in the commentary track and at IMDb regarding the feature. While the initial ending had to be re-shot, I wouldn’t change a thing. Also, be on the watch for a wonderful cameo by the legendary western director (and Robert Towne favorite), Budd Boetticher, in the role of Judge Nizetitch. It’s a small but superb tribute for a director that deserves greater recognition. Lastly, I’ll end this post with a significantly killer piece of dialogue that serves as a great thumbnail for this underrated film, one that hits home with me:

Carlos: “You son of bitch! How could you do this? Friendship is the only choice in life you can make that’s yours! You can’t choose your family! Goddamn it, I’ve had to face that! And no man should be judged for whatever direction his dick goes! That’s like blaming a compass for pointing north, for Chrissake! Friendship is all we have. We chose each other. How could you f*** it up? How could you make us look so bad?”


Have you seen Tequila Sunrise? Please share your thoughts on the film

Guest Post: Great Director & Editor Combos

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As a film fanatic, I not only pay attention to the stars but also to the people behind the scenes. But usually the directors and writers will get all the attention when it comes to film being a success or failure. So I would like to write about the mostly unseen people in the film industry, the editors. They are probably the most under-appreciated people in the industry. Let’s face it if a film is a success, people will always say it’s the director or writer who was responsible for making a good film, of course when the film fails the director will get all the blame. But rarely you’ll ever hear someone says, wow that was great editing and the editor did such a great job.

Most of time when people say the film has great editing; they would always mention the directors’ name. True that the directors has the final say if the film is a go or not but without a good editor, most of their films will be a mess. Terrence Malick is known to twig with his films even after he handed in his final cut to studio executives. If you have the Criterion edition of The Thin Red Line on DVD or Blu-ray, watch the behind scenes section where they interviewed his three editors of the film. Great stuff there, one of the editors said Malick gave him a bunch of footage from the film and told him if he could make it work by putting all of the sequences together.

All of the successful film directors know they need a good editor and they would always try work with the same editor in each of their films. If they don’t work with an editor who shares their vision then most of the time they’ll get in a fight in the editing room. Stanley Kubrick and Sam Peckinpah were notorious for getting into fights with their editors. Stephen Norrington reportedly got into a fist fight with his editor of the first Blade film. Even a couple of famous filmmakers gave advice to film students, Francis Ford Coppola and Paul Verhoven said film directors shouldn’t try to edit their own film, get a good editor and then try to put together a good or great film.

Let’s look at some of the successful teams of director and editor:

  1. Steven Spielberg and Michael Kahn

    These guys have worked together since 1977 when they made Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Ever since then, Spielberg has let Kahn edited each of his films. He trusted Kahn so much that he put him in charge of finishing Jurassic Park in the editing room (George Lucas was there too supervising the editing process) while he went and shot Schindler’s List. Of course we all know how Jurassic Park turned out but we never heard of Kahn’s name when the film was released and made tons of cash, just Spielberg.
  2. Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker
    Scorsese and Schoonmaker first film together was Raging Bull and they have been working together ever since. Schoonmaker even edited Michael Jackson’s music video Bad for Scorsese. In every interview with Scorsese, he would always compliment Schoonmaker and her incredible talent. These two have been getting along so well and it shows in their films; you hardly ever heard bad things between them.
  3. Quentin Tarantino and Sally Menke

    QT have worked with Menke since his first film, Reservoir Dogs. Again you hardly ever heard anything bad happened between these two behind the scenes, unfortunately Menke passed away last September so I don’t know who QT will get to edit his upcoming film Django Unchained. If the film turns out to be a disaster, will QT gets the blame or he’ll just blame it on his new editor? I’m very curious to see how things will play out.
  4. Terrence Malick and Billy Weber
    Weber edited three of Malick’s films, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line and Tree of Life; the latter two he shared editing credit with a few other editors. In an interview on the Criterion DVD/BD of The Thin Red Line, he said he had to force Malick to watch the first cut of the film, which ran well over 5 hours long. He said Malick kept changing his mind about which sequence to use and how long the film should be. Weber had to bring in another editor, Leslie Jones, to help him cut the film. Even with two editors, Malick decided to hire another editor, Saar Klein, to finish film. Somehow these three editors worked their magic and put together a wonderful film. Rumors has it that Malick still wasn’t satisfied with the final film that he wanted to bring in another editor but because of time constraint, he relented and release the film to the public. If you love learning about how editing process work, watch the behind scenes features of this film, great stuff.

Well those are the great director/editor combos that have made some great films together and hopefully they’ll keep giving us more great films in the future. Now some other directors have made great films with different editors but I think the four I listed above have churned out more consistent work.

Do you have any favorite director/editor combo or you just don’t pay attention much when it comes to film editors?