Thursday Movie Picks #54: Sequels

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 

Sequels!

Since I have to pick only three out of a possible 10-20 sequels that have become my favorites, I have to set some sort of parameter to narrow things down. So for this particular list, I’m focusing on live-action movie sequels of the last decade. So that means I’ll be excluding some great animated movie sequels like Toy Story 2 and How To Train Your Dragon 2, as well as some of my all time favorites like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman II, X-Men 2, Terminator 2, The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, or even Spider-man II as that was released eleven years ago. Interestingly, I ended up picking three that are part of a trilogy (the final film of the rebooted ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, War of the Planet of the Apes, is in the works for 2017).

So without further ado, here are my picks of three favorite sequels of the last 10 years:

Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
TMP_Sequels_Bourne3

Jason Bourne dodges a ruthless CIA official and his agents from a new assassination program while searching for the origins of his life as a trained killer.

For some reason I had not reviewed any of the original Bourne trilogy but they certainly are superior than Bourne Legacy. For one thing, Jeremy Renner just isn’t charismatic or intriguing enough as a super spy. Matt Damon on the other hand, somehow fits the role of Jason Bourne perfectly. I actually wasn’t a big fan of the actor until I saw Bourne Identity, but Damon absolutely killed it as a trained killer. The final third chapter of Bourne’s journey is one relentless thrill ride, featuring some of the craziest car chases ever filmed thanks to Paul Greengrass’ phenomenal camera work. The film also benefited David Strathairn and Joan Allen’s performances in the supporting role. Plus the music by Moby is awesome, I’ve done a Music Break on that a couple of years ago.

s I….

The Dark Knight (2008)TMP_Sequels_TheDarkKnight

When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the caped crusader must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice.

When you’re talking about best sequels of the last decade, you can’t possibly overlook this masterpiece by Christopher Nolan. I have seen it half a dozen times and I’m always in awe every single time. It’s SO much more than just popcorn entertainment, though there are fun action scenes abound like the awesome truck-flip sequence (one of those scenes I could watch over and over). But what really riled me up and stayed with me for days after is THIS interrogation scene between Batman & The Joker. Two of this generation’s finest actors together in one room, Christian Bale & Heath Ledger were in top form here, each giving an Oscar-caliber performance. Ledger won a Best Actor award posthumously, but even if he hadn’t passed away, he deserved at least a nomination for that riveting performance.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)TMP_Sequels_DawnPlanetApes

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.

I never thought I’d like this *intelligent apes* story when I saw the first film, as I hadn’t even seen the original Charlton Heston movie by then. But I was so taken by Caesar’s story, played brilliantly by mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis. The second film proved to be an even more emotional journey for Caesar, I teared up on that scene when he saw the house he grew up in. The film isn’t perfect, i.e. what’s up with Gary Oldman’s screaming matches, but overall it was a truly immersive experience. Matt Reeves created a wonderfully atmospheric loaded with genuine suspense and terror, as gripping as it is emotionally-gratifying. [my full review]. Glad he’ll be back for the third film.

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What do you think of my SEQUELS picks this week? Have you seen any of these films?

Thursday Movie Picks #53: Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 

Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)

It’s interesting that the requirement for this sci-fi genre is no space/aliens as a lot of my favorites in this genre aren’t the ones with aliens in them. In fact, I love sci-fis that don’t look or feel science fiction-y, in fact, intriguing sci-fis are those with rich layers of human drama that remind us what it means to be humans.

I immediately thought of including Ex Machina here, but I decided not to include something from this year. Instead, I’m selecting three from the past few years that have a small/modest budget (under $25 mil) that have made a big impression on me:

Predestination (2014)

The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

TMP_Predestination

As I mentioned in my review, the less you know about the plot the better the experience. Since I was just talking about directing duos, I have to mention the Spierig Brothers who also made this vampire sci-fi Daybreakers. The premise is rather bizarre and definitely not an easy one to grasp, but it’s well worth a watch. I like how the film started out with a bang but then the pace slows down considerably in the first act as we’re introduced to the characters played by Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook. The odd pacing seems deliberate and I actually think it’s pretty effective and engrossing in getting us to care about their journey. Snook is quite a revelation here and I kept hoping to see her getting prominent roles.

s I….

HER (2013)

A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

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Once in a while, a film you hadn’t heard much about suddenly sneaked in and took your breath away. In 2013, that film for me was HER. That’s what I wrote in my review over a year ago, and there’s still very few films that affected me emotionally the way this one did.

There are many robot/human *love* stories that’s been done time and again but what Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) experienced with Samantha (voiced brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson) is quite unlike any other. For one, there’s no physical presence of Samantha in the film but yet her presence is felt so viscerally. I’m going to borrow my from my own review… This is the kind of thought-provoking science fiction story that I wish Hollywood would make more of. Sci-fi is not always about aliens or cool-looking futuristic equipments or cars or what have you, but a good sci-fi should actually makes us ponder about our own humanity. I realize this film isn’t for everyone as there are a few people I recommended this to that aren’t wowed by it. That said, I think you owe it to yourself to at least give this one a shot.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

A love triangle develops between three friends who came of age at a mysterious, secluded boarding school and are destined to lead brief lives.

TMP_NeverLetMeGo

This is another film where the less you know about the plot the better. If you just look at still photos or even the poster (which you can see on my review post), you’d never thought this is a sci-fi. It looks more like a mystery drama, and I think that’s the vibe director Mark Romanek was going for. Working from Alex Garland’s script, who later made his directorial debut in Ex Machina, the pace is decidedly slow and graceful in the way things unfold. The romantic drama sensibilities offer a stark contrast to the cerebral sci-fi nature of the story. I really need to watch this again, but I remember being really absorbed by this film. Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield are excellent here, it’s still one of my favorite performance from both of them even after seeing more of their work. It’s also exquisitely-shot in muted hues that perfectly match the somber tone of the film.

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What do you think of my sci-fi picks this week? Have you seen any of these films?

 

My entry to the Dream Vacation Blogathon

DreamVacation

When I found out that Katy over at Girl Meets Cinema is hosting this awesome blogathon, I knew I had to participate! I LOVE travel, it’s really one of the best things in life to be able to see different parts of the world and experience other cultures, it enriches you in ways nothing else could. So here’s the gist of the blogathon:

If you could travel to any place in the film universe with any of your favorite characters or love-to-hate villains, what kind of a vacation would you take? Post your choice(s) of a destination(s), and at least three characters who would tag along.

I’m blessed that I have an awesome travel buddy that is my dear hubby, but of course we’re talking about a dream vacation here so why not indulge in our fantasy a bit, right? ;)

I was going to pick a totally fantastical place like Aasgard [with Loki as my travel companion of course] but in the end I decided to go with real places, two of which I have visited before but would return in a heart beat. Oh how I wish I could be transported to one of these places right about now…

Not Another Happy Ending – Glasgow

Certainly you can’t be surprised by this. I’ve always been obsessed with all things Scottish and then THIS movie happens. I fell in love with two things from this movie, the French Adonis that is Stanley Weber… AND the city of Glasgow, which was beautifully-captured here. I wish more movies would be set in Scotland’s largest city as it’s really as picturesque as London, which is such a popular city used in movies.

Glasgow during the day… [click image to see a larger version]


Glasgow in the night time…

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Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

FrenchClarkKent

Tom Duval – the publisher

Obviously I’d want Tom Duval, the French publisher, to be my travel companion. As he’s not a Scottish native, there might be areas of Glasgow we both can discover together. Plus, he can help me refine my novel and later publish it… nothing like a gorgeous man who loves books ;) He practically looks like a rugged French Clark Kent [swoon]

TomRoddy_NAHE1NAHE_TomRoddy1Ideally it’d just be me and Tom spending a whole day [or year] together in Glasgow, but Roddy is Tom’s BFF and he’s such a hoot! I love watching these two goofing off with each other.

AnneDarsie_NAHE

I’ll invite Anne, Tom’s business advisor, along for the ride too, it’s be nice to have a gal pal to gush about Tom with ;) And Darsie is technically an imaginary character but she’s a lot of fun so she’s welcome to show up anytime to spice things up!


Notting Hill (1999) – London

There are a bunch of great movies set in London but this is one of the first ones I saw that made me totally in love with the city of London. Notting Hill itself is a district in central London, a cosmopolitan neighborhood that host the famous Portobello Road Market. My husband and I went there in 2010 but I’ve always wanted to return to this charming city!

London_Vacation1

I didn’t get a chance to ride those iconic red double-decker bus as we rode the tube everywhere, but it’s gotta be fun to see the city above ground.


Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

London_Vacation2

I think William would just be preoccupied with Anna Scott so I’ll invite Bernie, Spike, and Honey to be my travel companion! Bernie has such a stressful job that I think he ought to have a little fun, something neither Spike nor Honey would have a problem with. I want to visit the posh stuff like Harrod’s and the Savoy Hotel where Anna was staying, but Honey would also take me to the off-the-beaten areas of London away from the tourists.

Sabrina (1995) – Paris

Aaaaah Paris… naturally I want Stanley Weber to be my own personal tour guide but he’s not exactly a film character ;) I knew I had to include the City of Light and this is one of my favorite movies that made me fall for Paris every time I watch it.

Paris_Vacation1

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Sabrina

Indeed Sabrina… I’m right there with you. First time I visited Paris was when I was only 13, and I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the place until I returned last year with my husband. Needless to say, I fell in love with this city and seeing it on film always makes me feel so nostalgic.

Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

Paris_Vacation2

I’d take Sabrina and her two Parisian friends Louis and Irene. Every time I watch this movie, which is quite often, I enjoy seeing Sabrina’s interactions with both of them. They’re her first real friends who took her under her wings, so to speak, when she’s just starting out.

I LOVE Fanny Ardant as Irene, Sabrina’s mentor at Vogue. I always remember her wise words to Sabrina, “You seem embarrassed by loneliness, it’s only a place to start.” and my personal favorite: “Illusions are dangerous people, they have no flaws.”

SabrinaLouis

I kind of have a crush on Patrick Bruel as Louis, and his character as a fashion photographer is so affable and cool. I’d LOVE to have someone like him show me his Parisian hang out and give me some photography pointers while we’re at it.


So that’s my dream vacation based on some of my favorite movies. Where would YOU like to go on YOUR dream vacation?

Thursday Movie Picks #49: Animated Movies

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today the theme is… 

Animated Movies

I grew up watching so many Disney animated movies [mostly those Princess movies] and in the 90s, starting with Pixar’s first movie Toy Story, I quickly became a huge fan of their work as well. But Disney and Pixar films are massively popular so for the purpose of this list, I’m selecting three animated films I love that are made outside of those two studios. There are quite a few out there that are worth exploring, and I’m always astonished at the huge amount of work that go into making animated features.

So here are three that left a big impression to me and worth watching over and over:

Chicken Run (2000)

When a bird “flies” into a chicken farm, the fellow chickens see him as an opportunity to escape their evil owners.

ChickenRun

I saw this Aardman animated feature years ago but I still remember it fondly. It’s such a bonkers idea to sort of remake The Great Escape but with chickens, yet it works brilliantly. Peter Lord and Nick Park’s claymation style is so unique and fun to look at, in fact the shape of the chickens alone are hysterical. I giggle just looking at them! I adore the characters, especially Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha) who’s the smartest of the bunch. She and Rocky the circus Rooster (Mel Gibson) didn’t exactly get off on the right foot, but they end up becoming close and believe it or not, their chemistry is so endearing. It’s such a hilarious and action-packed adventure that’s fun to watch over and over. It’s also got some of the funniest lines… “I don’t want to be a pie! I don’t like gravy.” Ha!

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How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.

HTTYD

I have to admit the idea of this Dreamworks Animation didn’t immediately appeal to me, so I was so surprised how much I absolutely LOVED it! Of course by the time I saw it on Blu-ray, I kicked myself for not having seen this on the big screen! The flying sequence alone would make the admission price worthwhile. I did see the sequel on the big screen but I still have a fondness for the first movie when Hiccup and Toothless first met.

It’s one of the most memorable depiction of unlikely friendship that’s funny and heartwarming. Visually it’s breathtaking, as I mentioned the flying sequence is a marvel to behold. The music by John Powell has also become my personal favorite amongst a bazillion soundtracks I hear year after year. I re-watched it just before the sequel came out and I still enjoyed it immensely. Who knew a movie about dragons could have so much heart? [read my full review]

Song of the Sea (2014)

Saoirse, a little girl who can turn into a seal, goes on an adventure with her brother to save the spirit world and other magical beings like her.

SongOftheSea

Having just seen this recently, it’s still fresh in my mind [review coming next week]. Made by Cartoon Saloon, an Irish-based animation studio, this is Tomm Moore’s second directorial effort. I immediately wanted to see it after watching The Secret of Kells. Just from the visual standpoint, it’s an amazing work of art, gorgeous and ethereal, and the movie itself has such a mythical quality. The story based on an Irish mythology certainly has a deeper meaning than the typical kids entertainment. In fact, this one might appeal to adults as much as kids.


What do you think of my picks this week? Have you seen any of these films?

 

Thursday Movie Picks #42: All in the Family Edition – Father-Daughter Relationships (Biologically Related)

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today the theme is… 

Father/Daughter Relationships (Biologically Related)

I actually don’t really have much experience or memories of father/daughter relationship, as my dad was never really part of my life after my parents split when I was three. I was raised by my late mom and strong-willed grandma, the latter was a successful businesswoman revered by her family and peers. So in a way she’s as close to a father to me given her strict rules and occasional anger outbursts that used to petrify me but now that I look back, I find it kind of endearing.

Despite not having a biological father present in my life, I certainly appreciate father/daughter relationships in movies, here are three that left a big impression to me:

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

ToKillAMockingbirdI didn’t get to see this film until my intense Gregory Peck obsession days, but it’s truly the moment when the actor became the character. Talk about a dream dad. No matter how busy he is, town attorney Atticus Finch always have time for his kids and he genuinely enjoys their company — he doesn’t see time for family as a chore.

I remember tearing up a few times as I watched Atticus interacting with his vivacious young daughter Scout (Mary Badham), displaying his affection and sharing his wisdom in the most natural way. It’s obvious that Scout needs her dad just like any young kid needs their father, but I think those moments are crucial for Atticus too, beyond just the familial bond. Being with his young daughter must’ve reminded Atticus of the purity and goodness of life amidst the darkness and brutality he faces every day in his job. I live vicariously through Scout in her moments with her beloved dad, and I certainly take his wise words to heart…

“…you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them…”

Apparently the father/daughter bond between Peck and Badham carried over beyond the film set. The two became close in real life and kept in contact for the rest of their lives, Peck always called her Scout.

Regarding Henry (1991)

RegardingHenry

People remember Harrison Ford mostly for his iconic action roles as Han Solo or Indiana Jones and granted he’s fantastic in those roles. But I absolutely love his performance in Regarding Henry, which is a wonderful story about second chances. One of my favorite moments in the film are the ones Henry spend with his young daughter Rachel (Mikki Allen).

In his *old* life prior to the event that transformed him, Henry barely had time for his family. Suffice to say he didn’t really know his one and only daughter, he’s too busy being a hot shot lawyer and having affairs with his secretary. Interesting that Henry’s also a lawyer like Atticus but clearly he’s got his priorities out of whack. But he’s given a second chance to make it right and his daughter helps him do that. I LOVE all the scenes where she teaches him the most basic things like reading, as he’s back to being a kid again, literally. Ford and Allen have a wonderful chemistry, their scenes together are endearingly funny and so full of heart.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)
PridePrejudice_FatherDaughter

Whenever one hears Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, naturally we think of Elizabeth & Darcy’s relationship. But in Joe Wright’s film adaptation, I love the depiction of Lizzie (Keira Knightley) and her dad Mr. Bennett (Donald Sutherland). Clearly she’s her father’s favorite and he understood her much better than her mother ever did.

I LOVE this quote when Lizzie’s mother insisted that she married Mr. Collins…

Mr. Bennet: Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins… And I will never see you again if you do.

The scene towards the end when Lizzy asked her father’s permission to marry Darcy is also wonderful…

Lizzy: He and I are so similar.. we’ve been so stubborn

Mr. Bennett: You really do love him don’t you?

Lizzy: Very much

Mr. Bennett: I can’t believe that anyone can deserve you.  It seems I am overruled.  So, I hardly give my consent. I could have not parted with you my Lizzy to anyone less worthy.

Veteran actor Sutherland portrayed Mr. Bennett so perfectly, with such calming wisdom and compassion. The scene of him crying is so utterly moving, once again the chemistry of the cast work beautifully here.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films?

 

My entry to the Five Senses Blogathon

FiveSensesBlogathonIn association with Dutch moviepodcasters MovieInsiders (who inspired this blogathon) and Karamel Kinema, who did the stunning logo, Nostra of My Film Views spearheaded The Five Senses blogathon.

Here’s the idea in his own words:

As you know the body has five senses (although some movies might suggest there is a sixth one): Sight, Sound, Taste, Smell and Touch.

So what’s the idea behind this blogathon? For each of these senses you will have to describe the movie related association you have with it. This can be a particular movie or even a scene, but also something having to do with the movie going experience (so for example the smell of popcorn in the theater).

So here are my pick of movies/movie related things I associate with each of the senses?

 

SIGHT

Avatar

Despite the lack of original story and other quibbles I have about this film, when it comes to visual effects, it’s tough to beat this one. I remember back in 2009 I got one of those advanced previews dubbed Avatar Day to see this and I was so excited! Seeing Pandora for the first time on the big screen was quite a thrill, but not until I saw the full film that my jaw was on the floor. I remember ooh-aahing during the chopper scene through those flying mountains… the reaction of Jake & his friend pretty much echo how we all felt in the movie theater.

But the most breathtakingly-beautiful scene of all, that remains a visual marvel to this day, has got to be all the night scenes in Pandora…

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SOUND

Jurassic Park

It’s no surprise this Spielberg film won two Oscars for Best Sound Editing AND Best Sound Mixing. The sound truly made the experience and I’ll never forget the first time the T-Rex made an appearance when the park’s electricity went kaput. Starting with vibrating water scene in the car, the mysterious thumping that gets more and more pronounced… all the way to that first roar. OH MY, that’s quite an adrenaline rush unlike any other.

The sound work in the kitchen scene is incredible as well. It REALLY made you feel as if you’re there with these poor kids! It’s hilarious but terrifying at the same time.

 

TASTE

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Naturally I pick a scene from a film about food, but I have to pick this under-appreciated one I saw recently. I LOVE breakfast food, especially Omelet, so I could practically taste the yummy-ness of this very scene.

HundredFootJourneyOmeletSceneI love Helen Mirren’s expression after she took the first bite, oh man, I was salivating as I was watching this!

 

TOUCH

Hand-touching scenes in period dramas

I’m such a hopeless romantic. There’s something about hand scenes in period dramas that always gets me. Given how restrictive the customs in those days was, even the smallest physical expression means SO much. I felt a tingle in my own hands whenever I watched each of these scenes…

The first time Margaret & John’s fingers touch ever so briefly when she handed him the tea cup…

When Marianne’s and Willoughby’s fingers brush lightly against each other’s as they went up the stairs…

I’ve mentioned the ‘Mansfield Park’ one in this list, but it bears mentioning again because it’s just such a beautiful & emotional scene. Neither Fanny nor Edmund could speak of how they feel about each other, but a simple touch speaks more than a thousand words…

Of course the finale of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ has to be mentioned here… I love Darcy’s reaction when Lizzie took his hand and kisses it… no words need to be spoken to say how she feels about him.

 

SMELL

Coco Before Chanel

chanelno5I have to admit I struggled a bit to come up with this one, but for some reason I kept going back to this. As I was watching the film starring Audrey Tautou, I reminisced on the first perfume I was ever given. My globe-trotting auntie gave me a CHANEL No. 5 mini perfume when I was about 14 and it was the first perfume I ever owned. My late mother was a big CHANEL perfume fan and I still remember quite vividly how much I love the scent. I guess smell is such a sentimental thing, as it could really take you back to a certain time and place.

CocoBeforeChanelI’ve used many different perfumes since then, but this classic Chanel perfume will always have a special place in my heart. I even dedicated a post for the exquisite Chanel No.5 ads, inspired by the film.

 …


Well, that’s my picks for the Five Senses Blogathon, what do you think?

10 Perfect Cinematic Moments – Part II

AFistfulOfMomentsI LOVE Andrew of A Fistful of Films’s blogathon idea so much that I invited my pal Kevin G. aka Jack Deth to join in on the fun!

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Greetings all and sundry!

Having been given an oblique invitation to participate in such an intriguing concept days ago from our hostess, Ruth. I would be remiss if I did not open long ago forgotten vault doors and peer within. Searching for that moment that make a film’s tale complete. Its raison d’etre. Establishing or unearthing a character. Or the adventure’s well hidden “McGuffin” before shocked and suddenly interested eyes.

To that end. Please allow me a few moments to rummage around. Make a few discoveries and bring those to well deserved attention an light with…

A Fistful Of Moments Blogathon!

Having chosen the nice round number or ten. My choices will be in increasing range, strength power, or “Throw Weight”, From least to most powerful or memorable.

#10 – Opening Sequence. Strangers On A Train (1951)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Classic Hitchcock being Htchcock. Playfully setting up the audience with the juxtapositions of randomness, perhaps fate. And opposites attracting. As depicted so well with Robert Walker and his Bruno Anthony’s rather snazzy, foppish, two toned Fleur di Lis wingtip shoes. With what could also be built up heels. Opposite Farley Granger and his, we imagine; tennis playing Guy Haines’ less well cared for and comfortable brown Broughams.

Creating a mysterious opening gambit in what will prove to be less than “a beautiful friendship,”!

#9 – Kilvinsky’s Law. The New Centurions (1972)

Director: Richard Fleischer

This scene sets up “Grand Old Man”, George C. Scott’s twenty year Uniform Patrolman Kilvinsky to a T. And offers sound advice with his wise words regarding Police intervention and “interfacing” with the public. Words leaned through hard knocks and the disadvantage shared by those whose trade is inserting themselves where they are often needed, but rarely wanted.

Especially when offered against Stacy Keach’s fresh from the Academy, rookie Roy Fehler. Who may not be ready for the reality of the street.

#8 – “Fire One!” The Bedford Incident (1965)

Director: James B. Harris

This is why bright and shiny new, scared to death of Captain graduates of the Naval Academy (James MacArthur. ‘Hawaii Five-O’) should never be allowed on a ship’s bridge. Let alone shiny, large numbered buttons!

Sub hunting is a specialized art and filled with volumes of unwritten rules both sides obey. Which is why each ASW ship has a Russian speaker to signal intentions. Verbally coax the enemy sub to the surface. And keep “Incidents” like this from ever happening.

Though, those rules are thrown away by Captain Finlander (Richard Widmark) in quest of recognition and perhaps, promotion in bringing another sub to the surface within Territorial Waters. Creating a cautionary tale from one of Stanley Kubrick’s more notable alums.

#7 -“Sherry Baby!” The Killing (1956)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

This is the scene where languorous, conniving Femme Fatale Sherry Peatty starts to see and gently apply pressure to the hairline cracks in her husband, George and his four “friends” plan to make a lot of money. Quickly! While allowing “The Grand Master of Sapdom” (Elisha Cook Jr.) to quietly, uncertainly flounder about and do what he does best!

A great piece of subtle cinema in a tale that is all too familiar with violence and irony.

#6 -“Little Birds”: Black Hawk Down (2001)

Director: Ridley Scott

This is what happens when Army Rangers have to clean up a previous controversial U.N. rocket attack and mess. And those Rangers are denied the use of AC-130 “Specter” gunships, Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles already in country and ready to respond. By then Under Secretary of State, Morton Halperin. For fear of “upsetting the locals”.

A powerful scene that brutally depicts the awesome marriage of firepower with modern technology!

#5 – “This Chess Thing”: Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993)

Director: Steven Zallian

This scene pulls the film’s tale together relatively early on. For Joe Mantegna’s sports writer, Fred Waitzken was originally skeptical of his young son, Josh’s talents. Though, with watching Josh play against all comers and making strong “Father & Son” time with out off state tournaments. Mr. Mantegan’s Fred is righteously entitle to “Go Full Mamet” on the unsuspecting teacher, Laura Linney!

#4 – Tango: Scent Of A Woman (1992)

Director: Martin Brest

This scene proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Al Pacino’s Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade is the smoothest, coolest man in any room! While also showing Charlie (Chris O’Donnell) the patient ease in gaining trust and winning people over by opening up senses to surroundings and beyond. Not an easy task for the uninitiated.

It’s interesting watching Donna’s (Gabrielle Anwar) apprehensions at first on the dance floor smooth out as the Tango ends.And her facial responses to Michael (David Lansbury) proving himself to be a rude and utter jerk. And that Donna may not be the best chooser of men, after all.

#3 – “Duty”: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Director: Steven Spielberg

A neat little scene that delivers glances at the cast’s characters. With the discussion being held in almost a classroom manner. Are there better, more action and suspense filled scenes? Certainly. But, this one works for me in character introduction. Defining the mission and setting up the next series of scenes!

#2 My Post. My Call. A Tie With Orson Welles!

#2B -Opening Sequence. Touch of Evil (1958)

Director: Orson Welles

Still one of the best tracking shots in cinema! Made even better by the removal of title, credit and cast throughout.Also one of the most efficient uses of “Making the fist scene the most interesting” and in this case, telling. Serious Skullduggery is afoot with the placement of the bomb in couple’s convertible. With the next obvious questions being, “Who placed it?” and “Why?”

An exceptional three and three quarters minutes of film. That should have gone another half minute longer to introduce Orson Welles’ corpulent, crooked Police Captain Hank Quinlan.

#2A -Harry Lime’s Entrance. The Third Man (1949)

Director: Carol Reed

Quite possibly, the best, most clever and efficient entrance in film. With only a pair of shoes peeking beneath deep alcove shadows and betrayed by Harry’s Calico cat. And even more with the echo of retreating, running footsteps. But, it is those few seconds when we see Harry’s face and smile where a very large piece of the puzzle of Harry Lime is revealed in a stream of light!

#1 Minnesota Fats. The Hustler (1961)

10 Perfect Cinematic Moments – Part II http://wp.me/pxXPC-9C7  Thanks to my loyal contributor Kevin aka Jack Deth! @fististhoughts

There’s a reason why I chose this film long ago as my first guest post and critique for Ruth and this site. And this clip, though brief lays out Paul Newman and his “Fast Eddie” Felson’s immediate future in no uncertain terms. There’s no disagreement that Jackie Gleason, rarely known for drama delivers with amazing calm and confidence as “Minnesota Fats” as he sees shots invisible to others as he waltzes around the pool table!

JackDeth_post


Check out Ted & my Top 20 Perfect Cinematic Moments


Agree? Disagree? Have A Personal Choice? The Floor Is Open For Discussion! 

20 Perfect Cinematic Moments – A Fistful of Moments BLOGATHON

AFistfulOfMomentsI LOVE this idea of blogging about our favorite scenes, so I’m glad Andrew from A Fistful of Films Blog turned this into a blogathon! Here’s what he has in mind as to the kinds of scenes he’s referring to:

We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think “man, this is what the movies are all about”. We relive those moments in our mind’s eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies. It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it’s edited together. It could be the way the moment uses it’s actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us. It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question. It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange. It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.

Before I get to my – and Ted’s – list, I thought I’d mention about this two-part post I did back in 2009 (click on each image below to see the full list w/ youtube clips). Essentially those 20 scenes are perfect cinematic moments to me, that’s why I LOVE watching them over and over.

Top 20 movie scenes I could watch over and over again – Part 1 Top 20 movie scenes I could watch over and over again – Part 2

It’s interesting how some scenes still resonate with us so much and that you’ll treasure them forever. But for this blogathon, I will not pick scenes I have included in those two lists, but I might still pick a scene from the same film.


Glad to have Ted joining in on the fun, so let’s start with his list!

TED’s PICKS

1. Bond standing on top of MI6 building in SKYFALL

SkyfallRooftop

Skyfall is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite Bond films and this scene near the end is just breathtaking. After failing to save M’s life, Bond looking over the city of London and realizes that he’s meant to be a secret agent to not only saves his city from the bad buys but also accepting the fact this is he’s meant to be for the rest of his career. Casino Royale was about rebooting the franchise and Skyfall was about rebooting James Bond himself. It’s not just a great Bond film but also a great action/adventure film of all time.

2. Opening sequence of Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Instead of a photo, this sequence can only be appreciated when you see the actual scene.  When I first saw this film I was very young and this opening scene gave the creeps. The music starts, we see the credits and Malcolm McDowell’s Alex is staring straight at the camera and Kubrick then slowly zooms the camera out showing Alex and his gang. You know you’re going to see one messed up film with that opening. Alex is one of the most villainous characters in film history, reportedly Heath Ledger model his Joker after Alex.

3. The wedding dance sequence in ‘The Godfather’

WeddingDanceTheGodfather

I don’t know why I love this sequence at the beginning of the film so much but I can’t get enough of it. I love how Coppola shot this scene; especially Brando was dancing with his daughter. The Godfather is one of my all time favorite films and I love so many scenes in it but this one’s probably my absolute favorite.

4. The Joker shows his face in the opening scene of ‘The Dark Knight’

TDK_JokerBankRobberyScene

The opening bank robbery scene of The Dark Knight was one of best opening sequences of all time in my opinion. The Joker unveil himself after killing all of his henchmen and stole $64 mil of the mob’s money to start his chaotic plans of destroying Gotham and toying with Batman. Nolan shot this entire sequence with IMAX cameras, the first in film history and when I saw the Joker’s scarred face on the giant screen, it’s kind of frightening.

5. Clint Eastwood’s William Munny shoots a bunch of people in a bar in ‘Unforgiven’

Eastwood’s Unforgiven is one of the best westerns and one of my all time top 10 favorite films. I love this climatic shootout scene, especially the scene where he raised the shotgun and shot the unarmed bar owner. There are so many beautifully shot scenes in this film but I love this one.


RUTH’s PICKS

1. Her – Theodore and Samantha singing together

I saw this film in a practically empty cinema, which is nice so I don’t have to worry about balling my eyes out watching this film. Her was one of the most emotional film-watching experience and this is such a sweet moment in the unlikely bond that form between human + machine.

2. Moulin Rouge! – Tango scene

Sooo many wonderful scenes to choose from this superb musical, but if I had to pick just one, it had to be this one. The dark, sultry atmosphere of the tango scene, meshed together with the scene of Satine being kept captive by the Duke is simply intoxicating. Ewan McGregor’s Christian never looked so appealing and his voice laden with anger and desperation.

3. The Dark Knight – Interrogation scene

Christopher Nolan’s Batman films formed one of cinema’s BEST trilogy ever and though I have a special fondness for Batman Begins, which is a superb origin story, The Dark Knight is arguably the best of the three. THIS scene in particular, was mind-blowing when I first saw it… and still riveting with each rewatch. I’ve featured it in this post a while back, and not surprisingly, it’s also Nolan’s favorite scene from the film.

4. Bourne Supremacy – car chase with Krill

There have been tons and tons of car chase scenes in movies and though a lot of them have been entertaining, none is as memorable and riveting as this one. Matt Damon’s Bourne met his match in the equally relentless Krill (Karl Urban, lethal but oh-so-gorgeous!). Paul Greengrass infused the action with such kinetic energy, everything from the camera angle, the music, and the brief eye contact between the two actors made for one electrifying scene. My muscles literally felt a bit sore after watching this from all that tension!

5. Sense & Sensibility – Marianne thanking Col Brandon after she’s ‘out of danger’

SenseSensibilityThanksBrandon1SenseSensibilityThanksBrandon2SenseSensibilityThanksBrandon3SenseSensibilityThanksBrandon4I have included the scene when Brandon first beheld Marianne in  this list, so I thought I’d include my second favorite. Brandon’s love for Marianne is so vast and pure, altruistic in its nature that he’d have been content that she was out of danger and she’s reunited with his mother. So this acknowledgment from her must’ve meant the world to him. Even Eleanor recognized the significance of this moment and I love how the camera somehow captured that moment as Brandon quietly left the room. All the emotion is palpably written on his face… such a subtle facial gesture but it hit me like a ton of bricks that I never ever NOT cry watching this scene. Is it any wonder I LOVE Alan Rickman?

6.  Spider-Man 2 – train sequence

Truly one of the best and most memorable moments out of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. The pure adrenaline rush of the train-stopping action is followed by an emotional rush of seeing the people help their savior who’s identity’s been revealed. One Subway rider remarked, “He’s just a kid…” as they all gathered around his unconscious body. Hard not to get choked up watching this scene…

7. The Passion of the Christ – resurrection

I’m not including this scene just because it’s Easter Sunday this weekend. I saw this film on the big screen and it was perhaps one of the most emotionally-rattling experience that my body was physically shaken by the end of it. As a Christ-follower, the story deeply resonated with me. There are numerous depictions of Christ’s suffering but it’s the resurrection scene that’s rarely depicted more memorably. John Debney’s score is such a crucial element in this particular scene, as far as cinematic moment goes, few is as perfect to me as this one.

8. Jurassic Park – Welcome to Jurassic Park!

I was watching the Jurassic World trailer on IMAX just before Furious 7 the other night and while I really want to see the new movie, it made me think of how the first Jurassic Park movie affected me. THIS scene is what started it all… how awestruck the two Dino-obsessed scientists Alan and Ellie were the moment they saw Brachiosaurus for the first time. For a few moments, we don’t see just what made them so thunderstruck, but we know from their expression that it was something special. Of course we’re oooh-aahing like they did when we finally saw them with our own eyes… and John Hammond’s welcoming words ‘Welcome… to Jurassic Park!’ still gives me goose bumps!

9. Pride & Prejudice – Darcy helped Elizabeth to her carriage

The best period dramas are full of subtle gestures that made a huge impact. Darcy and Lizzie tried their best to convince themselves they’re so wrong for each other, but failing miserably. I believe it’s THIS fleeting moment that each of them knew they realize that, try as they might, they simply couldn’t deny the attraction. Joe Wright captured this unexpectedly romantic moment so beautifully… especially the close up of Darcy’s hand as he walked away from the carriage. The expression of both actors are simply perfect… this is the moment that made me adore this Austen adaptation the more time I watch it.

10. Pacific Rim – Introducing Gypsy Danger

I have no qualms admitting I LOVE this movie! My hubby and I have seen it half a dozen times since and we actually saw it twice on the big screen, one of them at IMAX. We bought the 3D Blu-ray, too, but haven’t got around to watching it. I remember how thrilling it was seeing the two pilots operating a Jaeger called Gypsy Danger and to see it in action during a stormy night. Ramin Djawadi’s awesome music gets the heart pumping as we see the giant robotic weapon goes out to sea.

11. Mansfield Park – I’ve missed you… 

MansfieldParkHoldingHandsI couldn’t find the exact scene, but it’s part of this fan video between 1:33 – 1:44. Fanny’s loved Edmund all her life and by this moment he’s engaged to someone else. Yet there’s this tender moment between them in the carriage as he takes her back to Mansfield Park. Edmund: “I’ve missed you…” Fanny: “And I you.” Fanny placed her hand next to his and he promptly took it and held it firmly. Fanny’s expression in this moment always gets me every time. Who hasn’t love someone and desperately wants that person to love you back?

12.  Gravity – final scene

It’s been over two years since I saw Gravity but I still remember how THIS finale hit me with such an emotional rush when I saw it on the big screen. After having spent 90-min in space, cooped up in the dark, cold and desperate realm with Sandra Bullock’s character… seeing earth was such a welcome sight. The immersive experience made me feel as if I was right there with Dr. Ryan Stone… breathing oxygen, feeling the sun and wind against the skin, the kind of stuff that we take for granted every day suddenly seem like such an amazing privilege. Steven Price’s score adds so much to the whole cinematic experience, making this astounding finale all the more powerful.

13. How To Train Your Dragon – unlikely friendship blossoming

Animated films have the emotional power as any live action film and so I was contemplating of doing a list of just from the animation genre. I always said I prefer Pixar to any other animation studio, that is until Dreamworks came up with THIS movie. I fell in love with the lead characters Hiccup and Night Fury dragon Toothless, and the moment they became unlikely friends is such a memorably heartfelt one. I always tear up right at the scene when Toothless puts his head on Hiccup’s hand.

14. Belle – meeting John in the garden

Belle_GardenEncounter

I knew I wanted to see Belle when I first saw the still photo above. There’s something that stops me in my tracks about the way they looked at each other, and I didn’t even know who they were yet. So when the scene finally appeared on screen, I was left breathless. The lighting in the garden, the classical music playing in the background, and the way the camera captures each detail of this encounter … it’s got everything I want in a romantic scene. I love the passionate chemistry between Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid. The sexual tension is so thick you could cut with a knife, but it’s also deeply soulful.

15. The Machine – dance scene

If only I had seen this small-budget indie sci-fi on the big screen. It’s one of the most visually-arresting films I’ve ever seen and this dance scene is one of the highlights. The lighting and special effects worked wonderfully to create this magical scene and the atmospheric soundtrack complements is perfectly. The scene above cuts off the part when The Machine walks over to Vincent, her creator who’s been watching her dancing, and embraces him. Superb performance by Toby Stephens and Caity Lotz here, it’s become one of my all time fave scenes of man & machine. The film is not flawless but this scene truly is.

TheMachineDanceScene


Well, those are our picks of 20 perfect cinematic moments. Thoughts on any of these scenes? 

Thursday Movie Picks #37: All in the Family Edition – Mother-Daughter Relationships (Biologically Related)

ThursdayMoviePicks

Happy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today the theme is… 

Mother/Daughter Relationships (Biologically Related)

This week’s TMP topic is a bittersweet one for me. I had a loving, albeit brief relationship with my late mother. In fact, we were very close up until she died on my 16th birthday. I have to admit at times I feel a pang of sadness whenever I see a mother and daughter depicted on screen, I often still wonder how life would be life if she were still around. In any case, for my three picks, I try to have a variety of mother/daughter relationship, so here are my three picks:

BRAVE (2011)

Brave_Queen_Merida

Pixar’s first *Princess* movie centers on a headstrong n spirited girl who like many of today’s girls her age tend to rebel against what’s expected of her. I love that the movie is centered on her relationship with her equally headstrong mother, Queen Elinor, instead of the typical romantic pursuit. I LOVE Kelly Macdonald and Emma Thompson who provide the voice work for Merida and Elinor. In case some of you still has seen this movie, let’s just say there’s a magical physical transformation that happens that drastically changes how they have to relate to one another. Through it all, the two end up forging a bond that’s even stronger than ever before. It’s quite an adventure that’s full of humorous & even peculiar moments, but also poignant ones that made me laugh and cry. It’s definitely one of my fave cinematic mother/daughter relationship that truly moved me.

1000 Times Good Night (2013)

1000TimesGoodNight_MomDaughter

Juliette Binoche plays a war photographer who often risks her life on the job, but even after a nearly fatal accident, she still can’t give up her career. Her eldest daughter Steph looks up at her and is obviously drawn to her mom’s globetrotting career that certainly looks cool and glamorous on the outside. The daughter in this film is a young teen and so immediately picture myself in her shoes, as my late mother was an amateur photographer. She kind of had the same free spirit personality and I always thought my mom was fearless. One key scene is when she ended up tagging along with her mom to Africa, much to the chagrin of her marine biologist dad. A traumatic incident made Steph realize just how dangerous her profession really is. The mother/daughter moments in the scene that followed really connected with me, and there’s a wonderful chemistry Binoche and Lauryn Canny who plays Steph. Here’s my full review of the film, which is now on Netflix.

August Osage County (2013)

AugustOsageCounty_Family

Now this is an example of the kind of mom I’m glad I didn’t have. Meryl Streep‘s Violet Wetson is a venom-spewing, pill-popping mother of three daughters who seem hellbent on driving a stake between her and everyone around her. That also includes her own husband, and the film takes place during his funeral. Violet has mouth cancer, partly due to her years of chain smoking, but even so it’s really hard to sympathize with her. Out of the three, Julia Roberts’ Barbara is the one who has the biggest conflict with her mother. The fact she herself is dealing with her own issues with her estranged husband and angsty teenage daughter adds to her exasperation. The Wetson family is as dysfunctional as they come  – they constantly bicker with each other, and the more things are said, the more secrets are revealed that made things worse. The screaming match are quite overwhelming, and it made me appreciate my own family. The craziest scene is when Barbara literally hurls at her mother trying to prevent her from taking any more pills, it was pretty bizarre and quite hilarious. I think it’s an especially interesting film to watch for mother and daughter, if anything, it’d make each of them think of what NOT to do to one another.

BONUS PICK:

Beyond the Lights

BeyondTheLightsMotherDaughter

This is one of my fave films I saw last year, and the casting of Minnie Driver and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as mother/daughter is one of the reasons I love it. Glad Paskalis included this movie on his list, I couldn’t believe I almost didn’t include that here. An ambitious and driven single mother who wouldn’t take failure as an option, Macy succeeds in turning her daughter into a star. But at what cost? Macy’s controlling behavior ultimately drives Noni away and there’s a heart-wrenching moment when Noni finally said enough is enough. It’s not that Macy didn’t love her daughter, but sometimes, some people just don’t know how to love. Apparently, writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s search for her own birth mother was the catalyst of the mother/daughter story in the film (per this indiewire article).


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films?

Thursday Movie Picks #36: Movies adapted from a Young Adult Novel

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple:
Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Today the theme is… 

Movies adapted from a Young Adult Novel


How I Live Now (2013)

HowIliveNow_Still

An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

I saw this film three years ago at TCFF. It’s definitely one of the darker young-adult adaptations that sort of flew under the radar. I didn’t give it a stellar review as it seems more elusive than suspenseful but I think it’s worth a look for it’s intriguing survival story in a doomed distant future based on a YA novel by Meg Rosoff. I’ve always been impressed by Saoirse Ronan and her casting was the main draw for me to see it. She didn’t disappoint, even if the uneven tone of the film prevents this from being a truly compelling film.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

ChroniclesOfNarnia_MrTumnus

Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

Seems that it’s been ages since I saw this movie but I remember being enchanted by it. There’s mystery, adventure and magic, a proper fantasy film of good vs evil filled with interesting characters. One of those characters is no doubt Mr. Tumnus, played by then-unknown James McAvoy. The child actors were wonderful but it’s the supporting cast who are the truly memorable, especially Tilda Swinton as the White Witch and Liam Neeson‘s voice lending gravitas to the godly lion Aslan. This is director Andrew Adamson‘s live-action debut, but I think he did C.S. Lewis’ beloved work justice.

Harry Potter films (2001-2011)

HarryPotterPrisonerAzkaban

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

I got into the Harry Potter franchise rather late, in fact it was around the time the first of the two final movies was released that my hubby and I started watching. Well, the first few were good but thankfully they got better in future installments, and I’d say my favorite is The Prisoner of Azkaban when Sirius Black appeared. Even amongst a stellar all-British cast, Gary Oldman still stood out in the role. It doesn’t hurt that the film was directed by Alfonso Cuarón. I have to give props to Daniel Radcliffe and the rest of the young cast for being so watchable across 8 movies and made me care about their journey. The last two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows final films are adventurous, properly dark and emotionally-engaging. I might revisit these movie again and this May I’m actually visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Universal Studios :)


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films?