Five for the Fifth: APRIL 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s one and only blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. April Fools was just four days ago, man it seems like it was ages ago for Unbreakable_Postersome reason. Some of you caught the prank I pulled that day, and surely the interweb was full of fake news. One of them I read was this article listing three fake news stories we wish were real. One of those fake headlines says that M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable 2 Confirmed for 2015.

Per the article, ‘the studio indicated that the sequel will be set well after the events of the original film, and will follow Willis’ character as he learns more about his powers and the responsibility that comes with them.’ Oh man, if only that were true!! I’ve long been awaiting to see Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles, Unbreakable is my favorite M. Night’s film and one I’d wish to see a follow-up on. It’s been 14 years since its release and I still think it’d be worth revisiting the first truly *dark* superhero film.

Did you read any April Fools fake news you wish were real?
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2. Switching gear to a superhero follow-up that’s been breaking box office record [pardon the pun]. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is poised to be the biggest movie of 2014 so far. According to Box Office Mojo, the Friday take of $37 mil would likely wind up to about $110 -$120 mil final weekend tally. I’m glad it’s doing well as I’ve said in my review it’s my favorite Marvel stand-alone movie yet, though I still have a special fondness for the first film.

MarvelStudiosFilms

Surely everyone’s going to have a different opinion on this. So, just for the heck of it, how about we rank 10 Marvel Studios movies from 2000, but only those involving character that appear in The Avengers. That means we’re NOT counting the X-Men movies, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, etc. Here they are alphabetically:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  3. Hulk
  4. The Incredible Hulk
  5. Iron Man
  6. Iron Man 2
  7. Iron Man 3
  8. Thor
  9. Thor: The Dark World
  10. The Avengers

So how would you rank these 10 Marvel movies?

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3. Right now I’ll be watching a bunch of indie films at MSPIFF  2014. One of them I sadly have to miss because of a scheduling conflict is Tom Hardy‘s LOCKE.

LockePoster

A successful construction manager’s life is drastically changed by a series of phone calls while he drives.

Now this film that puts one actor in a confined location, more of a one-man-show for the entire film if we’re to judge from the trailer that I posted here. We’re only seeing Hardy as Ivan Locke as he takes a series of phone calls as he’s driving in a car, but boy is it gripping! I really think that the casting is what make or break this types of films, as that actor would have to be charismatic enough to hold our attention whilst seemingly not much is happening. As I’m a big fan of Hardy, naturally I’m intrigued.

My question is two fold: What do you think of Locke? And which actor would you like to watch in a similar confined setting like this one? 


4. Any casting news involving Chiwetel Ejiofor always makes me smile as I’ve been championing him for some time. Last time he was rumored in Star Wars also made a Five for the Fifth subject, if only that were true! Now as a massive Bond fan, of course this casting news piqued my interest!

ChiwetelEjioforBONDvillain

Seems that lately, or at least since Sam Mendes was on board, the new plan seems to be only to hire Oscar winners/nominees as Bond villain, ahah. In Skyfall we’ve got Oscar winner Javier Bardem, and now, Ejiofor is reportedly the top choice for Bond 24 which is currently in production. I’m definitely stoked if he were cast, though my initial thought was that fellow Black Brit Idris Elba would also make a great choice, given he’s got that devilish charm about him. I’ve never seen Ejiofor’s sinister side on screen before but I’m sure the massively talented actor is more than up for the task! With Ralph Fiennes and Naomi Harris returning, boy this is going to be one heck of a Bond cast. This might be the case where I’d love the villain more than the hero, ahah.

Thoughts on this casting rumor? Who would YOU like to see cast as Bond villain?

5. What a perfect segue to the last topic as we’ve got a former Bond villain in this one. I just backed this Kickstarter project ENEMY OF MAN, starring Sean Bean, Rupert Grint, James D’Arcy, Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance.

EnemyOfManMovie

Enemy of Man is an ambitious feature length retelling of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Macbeth.

This will be the feature directorial debut of actor Vincent Regan. I really like him in TROY and 300, I thought he gave one of the best performances in 300, as well as the most heart-wrenching. Regan is no stranger to Shakespeare, he’s a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare and National theaters. Sean Bean apparently played Macbeth on London West End and this gave him a chance to revisit the character for a larger audience.

All money raised from this campaign will go towards taking the film into pre-production. You can read the details on the Kickstarter link above as well as a preview to the teaser trailer. Below is Sean Bean talking about his involvement in this project:

This looks pretty promising and the talented British actors involved are quite underrated. I hope they’ll meet their goal and get this film made! As of right now, there is only 15 hours left and they still need about $33K to meet their goal.

Whether or not you choose to back it, what do you think of this project and the cast involved?


Well, that’s it for the APRIL 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

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MSPIFF 2014 (April 3-19) The films I’m excited to see!

MSPIFF_StoneArchCinema

Photo courtesy of mspfilm.org

Another film-filled event is just around the corner! I really feel so privileged to live in a city where we’ve got not one but TWO film festivals, one in Spring and the other (TCFF) in the Fall. Founded in 1962, The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul is Minnesota’s foremost film exhibition organization, and a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Presented every April, The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) is the largest spring arts event in the region, showing more than 200 films from some 60+ countries each year! Check out the awesome MSPIFF official trailer done by Crash + Sues & audio by Echo Boys Music:

On Thursday April 3, MSPIFF will host its Opening Night Presentation with a special screening of Amma Asante’s BELLE, followed by its opening night party at the Festival Pavilion across the street from the St. Anthony Main Theatre.

Unfortunately I can’t make the opening night festivities, though I’ve been looking forward to seeing Amma Asante‘s period drama Belle for some time. I’ve even posted the trailer here back in November, but here it is again:


More than 200 films are presented this year from over 70 countries, and it’s quite a lineup! I’ve picked up my Press Pass as well as about a dozen tickets earlier this week, woo hoo!

MSPIFF_PressPass

Here are the movies I’ll be seeing in the next three weeks:

FEATURE FILMS

Half of a Yellow Sun
Nigeria | 106 min | English
Directed by: Biyi Bandele
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton

Joe
United States | 117 min | English
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: Nic Cage, Tye Sheridan

The Grand Seduction
Canada | 115 min | English
Directed by: Don McKellar
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch

Words and Pictures
United States | 111 min | English
Directed by: Fred Schepisi
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Clive Owen

Breathe In
United States | 98 min | English
Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones

A Thousand Times Goodnight
Norway | 111 min | English
Directed by: Erik Poppe
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The Last of Robin Hood
United States | 88 min | English
Directed by: Richard Glatzer
Starring: Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon, Dakota Fanning

No trailer available yet

No trailer available yet

I REALLY want to see Locke, which is a one-man show with the charismatic Tom Hardy (also starring Ruth Wilson), but I might not be able to see it as it conflicts with the Transcendence screening. If there’s an additional screening for that one, I’ll definitely check this one out! Here’s the trailer:

 

DOCUMENTARIES

Beyond the Edge
New Zealand | 90 min | English
Directed by: Leanne Pooley

Brave Miss World
United States | 90 min | Hebrew
Directed by: Cecilia Peck

Charlie Victor Romeo
United States | 90 min | English
Directed by: Robert Berger

Google and the World Brain
United Kingdom | 90 min | English
Directed by: Ben Lewis

 

I’m also thrilled to see my friend (and FC contributor) Conor Holt’s sci-fi short film A BETTER LIFE screening on Thursday, Apr 10 | 6:30 PM.

ABetterLifeShortFilm

It’s one of my favorites at TCFF last year, you can check out my mini review of it here.


AdmitOneTicketGet your tickets and MSPIFF passes before they sell out!

$12 General Admission | $10 Film Society Members* | $6 Students w/ Student ID

The MSPIFF website is a great resource for the lineup, schedule, tickets, etc. You can download the 2014 Official Guide which has all the details about each film featured at MSPIFF.


What do you think folks, does any of these films interest you?

Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s one and only blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

VeronicaMarsPoster1. With March here, it’s the start of Spring movie season. Well, one of the eagerly-anticipated movie this month is Veronica Mars. I never watched a single episode of the show nor do I know how massively popular it was until I read their record-breaking Kickstarter campaign! Per IMDb trivia, it was the fastest project to reach $1 million and then the fastest to reach $2 million! It also got the most project backers (91,585) of any project in Kickstarter history!

The film itself was shot in 23 days, exactly 11 months later after the Kickstarter campaign was launched. Apparently the Kickstarter idea came from the meeting between Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas, who was the executive producer of the series and now directed the film, and Warner Bros. WB gave their blessing to the project and agreed to help distribute the movie, apparently they said, “if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.” Well, they certainly did with $5,702,153 pledged of the $2,000,000 goal!

I’m curious which TV show’s Kickstarter project would you happily donate to?

……
2.  My hubby and I was catching up with trailers on our Apple TV and came across this indie thriller The Retrieval.

TheRetrievalPoster

On the outskirts of the Civil War, a boy (Ashton Sanders) is sent by a bounty hunter gang to retrieve a wanted freedman (Tishuan Scott) and bring him back to the South, but as they begin to form an unexpected bond, the boy must face a gut-wrenching decision.

The trailer looked quite gripping, but I like that it’s not just an action film with shootouts and chase scenes, but there seems to be an emotional story between the boy and the man he’s supposed to retrieve. The film by Chris Eska has won several film festival awards (including the White Sands International Film Festival), and Tishuan Scott won Breakthrough Performance Award at SXSW Film Festival last year. Looks like the young boy also turned in a good performance. Check out Terrence’s review from WSIFF last year.

So what do you think folks, intrigued?

3. I’t been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on Batman vs Superman. To be honest, I kind of tuned it out after Ben Affleck was cast, seems like it was ages ago. The casting sparks one controversy after another. It almost seemed that poor Henry Cavill‘s been all but forgotten in his own project, I mean when was the last time the news actually involved him?? So the latest casting news was Jeremy Irons is cast as Alfred [though I'd have been thrilled to see Timothy Dalton in the role], and we’ve got The Fast & Furious Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and The Social Network‘s Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. I read this article that Kevin Spacey, who played Lex in Superman Returns, endorsed Eisenberg’s casting, “I think [Jesse Eisenberg] is a remarkable actor. He’s just going to f**king own it. I think it’s a great idea and I wish him the best with it.” Check out these fan art of the two of them in the role:

WonderWoman_LexLuthor

Now of course we don’t even know if Luthor would actually be bald in this movie, given that Zack Snyder‘s been quoted as saying this movie’s “…not as tied to the mythology” in this recent LA Times interview. In the beginning of the interview, he went all geeky about the Batsuit and the Superman suit, and really who wouldn’t be considering the historical significance that for the first time, Superman and Batman would actually exist in the same frame together in the movies. I know there’ll be a plethora of fan art/posters of this flick, probably more than any other comic-book adaptations out there. This is one of my favorites of the ones I’ve seen:

BatmanVsSupermanFanPoster1

Back to the interview, this is how Snyder responded to the whole casting uproar: “… We know the material. Unfortunately, the fans don’t know the material. So, we’re casting according to what’s happening in the script … I understand the canon. I’m not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint.” 

Ok fine, the casting just might work fine, but this next quote is what really worries me: “[The movie] literally takes the “Man of Steel” and “Batman” universes and explodes them. You’re not as tied to the mythology.”

Heh, I sure hope he really does know what he’s talking about as right now, even as a huge Superman fan, I’m far less interested in seeing this flick as I ever was. I sure hope he doesn’t literally mean *exploding universes* the way he destroyed Metropolis to shreds in Man of Steel [face palm]. Apparently filming is supposed to start next month for this, so they’ve got about a year to shoot the film until it opens on May 6, 2016.

So what do you think about Zack’s latest quotes, are you still excited for this project?

4. Now what award season is over, I’ve got just one more *award* to talk about, but no worries this is a fun one that surely EVERYONE would have an opinion on. The 34th RAZZIE “Winners” have been unveiled!

RazzieAward

Fortunately I haven’t seen a single movie from the Worst Picture nominees: After Earth, Grown Ups 2, The Lone Ranger, A Madea Christmas and Movie 43. But still I was aghast to learn that Adam Sandler didn’t *win* a single Razzie, what what??! I’m saddened to see Naomi Watts was one of the nominees for Diana AND Movie 43, oh no!! But y’know what, even without seeing the movie, I’m super glad that Will and Jaden Smith won multiple awards.

AfterEarthPosterJaden was named Worst Lead Actor, and the combination of father & son, described in the ceremony as being “stranded on Planet Nepotism”, took the award for Worst Screen Combo! [per Razzie Press Release]

Are you happy with the Razzie *winners*? Who do you think should have been nominated?

VeronicaRothDivergent5. Now last but not least. Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Divergent‘s author Veronica Roth, as well as cast member Ansel Elgort, as part of their press tour to promote the film. I’ve never interviewed an author before so I’m very excited.

Who hasn’t dreamed of having their literary work not just published, but being adapted into a movie! It made me think of which other authors I’d love to have the chance to interview about their work. Right of the bat I think of Jane Austen as she’s the one author whose work I’m most familiar with. As far as living authors, perhaps J.K. Rowling or Stephen King just to find out what makes them tick.

Now, my last question is, which author (living or dead) do you wish to interview, and what would your question be?


Well, that’s it for the MARCH 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Advanced Screening Passes to DIVERGENT in Minneapolis, MN + Red Carpet Screening with Veronica Roth

Divergent_Poster

Hello fellow Twin City cinephiles! Local moviegoers and DIVERGENT fans are invited to check out the red carpet event happening before the DIVERGENT advanced screening this Wednesday (3/5) at the Theatres at Mall of America. Passes are required to see the film, but not to be at the red carpet, which opens at 6:00pm. Veronica Roth (author) and Ansel Elgort (cast member – Caleb Prior) will be walking the red carpet to speak with press and sign autographs.

FCInterviewBannerCheck out my interview with Veronica and Ansel

Author Veronica Roth & Ansel Elgort w/ Shailene Woodley in a still from DIVERGENT

Author Veronica Roth & Ansel Elgort w/ Shailene Woodley in a still from DIVERGENT

Check out the trailer of the film:


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Free Advanced Screening Passes

Enter to win passes to attend an advanced screening of the highly anticipated DIVERGENT on Tuesday, March 18 at the ShowPlace ICON theater at 7:00pm. To enter go to https://www.gofobo.com/rsvp and enter the code FC2YTG; winners will be notified Saturday, March 15. Please be advised that seating will be first come, first served so it is recommended to arrive early.

DIVERGENT Screening
ShowPlace ICON
March 18 at 7:00pm

Divergent is an sci-fi action adventure set in futuristic dystopia where society is divided by five factions based on virtues. The story’s protagonist Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy the Divergent kind, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes them dangerous before it’s too late.

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Maggie Q, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn

Check out the featurette below on Factions:

U.S. release via SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT on March 21, 2014.


Stay tuned for my interview with Veronica Roth and Ansel Elgort!


Are you excited for Divergent?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: The LEGO® Movie Fun Featurettes

Oh who doesn’t love LEGO®. The colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears are perhaps one of the most universally-loved toys in the world. I actually saw a documentary of LEGO on the inception of that company in Billund, Denmark in 1949. I doubt inventor Ole Kirk Christiansen would ever imagine that his creation would be a worldwide phenomenon!

LEGOmovie_banner

I’m surprised it took 65 years to finally have the first full-length theatrical LEGO adventure. But the advanced animation technology with 3D rendering allows this toys to REALLY come alive on screen.

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) the original 3D computer-animated story follows Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as The Special, the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously under-prepared.

It’s tough not to be perked up by its buoyant spirits. The voice cast is simply stellar!

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Will Ferrell is the voice of President Business, aka Lord Business, an uptight CEO who has a hard time balancing world domination with micro-managing his own life, and Liam Neeson is the voice of Lord Business’s loyal henchman, Bad Cop/Good Cop, who will stop at nothing to catch Emmet. Then there are Morgan Freeman as the ancient mystic Vitruvius; Elizabeth Banks as tough-as-nails Wyldstyle, who mistakes Emmet for the savior of the world and guides him on his quest; Elizabeth Banksas the mysterious Batman, a LEGO minifigure with whom Wyldstyle shares a history; Nick Offerman as the craggy, swaggering pirate Metal Beard, obsessed with revenge on Lord Business; Alison Brie as the sweet and loveable Unikitty and Charlie Day as Benny, the 1980-something Spaceman.

Check out the featurette on how they created the lego movie.


I love the main song Everything is Awesome! Can’t help humming it as it actually makes me feel happy, ahah. LOVE this cute Behind the Bricks featurette, with each LEGO character talking about the actors *playing* them, ahah. What a fun universe to be transported to.


I saw the movie last Saturday and had a blast. I’d have to agree with the critics on this one, so far it’s garnered 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes! The theme of *master builder* fits what the LEGO product is all about, and the sense of adventure will definitely please kids and the kids in all of us. It’s really a joyful film that also has a good message in the end about spurring creativity on kids and for parents to build them up instead of restricting them. I think the studio is confident this movie will do well that there’s already a sequel in the works.


What do you think folks? Are you going to see the LEGO movie?

Five for the Fifth: February 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s one and only blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Whether you like it or not folks, movie franchise is a trend that’s here to stay in Hollywood, especially when it comes to the young adult demographic. As soon as a YA novel hits it big, you can bet a movie, no franchise is in the works.

So, let’s start this month’s edition with a trailer of another young adult franchise hopeful. In case you’ve never heard of this before, DIVERGENT is the first of a trilogy of books by a New York author Veronica Roth. Here’s the premise:

Beatrice Prior, a teenager with a special mind, finds her life threatened when an authoritarian leader seeks to exterminate her kind in her effort to seize control of their divided society.

Check out the new trailer just released yesterday:


Now, I barely remember what being a young adult feels like, it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this genre, i.e. The Hunger Games. I must say I’m more intrigued the more I hear about this dystopian actioner, looks like it has potential and I think that has a lot to do with the actress playing the young protagonist.

DivergentStills

I’ve only seen Shailene Woodley as George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendants, in which she impressed me. I’ve also been reading rave reviews of her performance in The Spectacular Now, and she also has another indie drama in the works called The Fault of Our Stars. The 22-year-old seems to be *groomed* to be one of Hollywood’s next leading lady, and I think she has the chops. But what this film will attest is whether she can be a box-office draw. Kate Winslet lends some sophisticated menace as the film’s antagonist, whilst Theo James (another Brit who’s easy on the eyes) plays Woodley’s mentor/love interest.

Thoughts on DIVERGENT and/or Shailene Woodley as a leading actress?

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2.  Switching gears to one of cinema’s biggest leading man Russell Crowe who’s trying his hand at directing his first feature.

CroweDirectorialDebut

Per Variety, we’ve got the first look of The Water Diviner, which is filming in Australia and later in Turkey. Here’s the premise:

The film is set four years after the devastating battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Australian farmer Connor (Crowe) travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his sons, reported missing in action, where he forges a relationship with the beautiful Turkish woman (Olga Kurylenko) who owns the hotel in which he stays. Holding on to hope, and with the help of a Turkish officer, Connor embarks on a journey across the country to find the truth about the fate of his sons.

Some of the supporting casts include Turkish actors and some relatively well-known Aussie actors like Jai Courtney (A Good Day To Die Hard) and Isabel Lucas (Immortals), hmmm not exactly screaming quality ensemble at this point, plus the executive producer is… Brett Ratner?? But y’know, I’d be willing to give Crowe the benefit of the doubt. If his directing skills is even half as good as his acting, it’d still be a decent film, ahah.

So what do you think of Crowe’s debut?

3. A pair of actor and director named Michael is having a birthday today.

Director Michael Mann turns 70 & British actor Michael Sheen turns 44.

Michael_Mann_Sheen

Some of you might know Michael Mann is one of my favorite living directors. He may not be the most prolific, having only done less than a dozen feature films, but he’s certainly one of the best. Heat, The Insider, The Last of the Mohicans and Collateral are some of my absolute favorite films. I’m looking forward to his mystery thriller Cyber starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis about what else, computer hacking. Apparently some of the filming locations include my native hometown Jakarta, according to this Indonesian article. Can’t wait to see that!

As for Michael Sheen, it’s interesting but two of the roles I remember him most are Tony Blair in The Queen and as a vampire breed Lucian in the Underworld franchise with his former wife Kate Beckinsale. He’s also memorable even in supporting roles like in TRON Legacy and Midnight in Paris. I still need to see Frost/Nixon, but I’ve heard he’s excellent in that one. I’m looking forward to seeing him in Far from the Madding Crowd, a drama directed by The Hunt‘s director Thomas Vinterberg.

What’s your favorite film[s] from each birthday fellow?

NicCage_pondering4. Good ol’ Nic Cage is always making the rounds in casting news. Hopefully his mountains of debts is getting shorter that he can finally make some decent films again. He’s reportedly in talks to do a heist thriller called Men with No Fear [per Deadline] Well it sounds right up his alley as Nic seems like the kind of *fearless* actor in that he doesn’t seem to care what people think, ahah. Here’s what it’s about:

The movie centers on Marty ‘The Mule,’ newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss Frank, a small-time neighborhood crook. While Mule was locked up, Frank went big time and became a ruthless drug kingpin. But Frank also took Mule’s most precious item — his son, raising him like his own. But now Mule is back on the streets and ready for revenge.

Bryan Singer is apparently producing this through his production company Bad Hat Harry. It doesn’t strike me as a challenging or career-making kind of role for Nic, but at this point, we can only hope anything is better than Stolen [facepalm]

What do you think of this casting news… or better yet, what role would YOU suggest Nic Cage to take on?


5. Now lastly, since Oscar is less than a month away… Morgan compiled a whole bunch of interesting Oscarama stats about what kinds of films get nominated by the Academy.

  • OSCARBestPictureEnvelopeComedy only makes 7% of the nominees
  • Romantic dramas really do seem to be popular with the Academy
  • Only eight foreign films have been nominated for Best Picture [Wish this year's one of them as The Hunt deserves to be in the main Best Picture category]
  • Once in a while, sequels do make it to the Oscars. These are the eight movie sequels that were nominated for Best Picture:
    Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
    The Bells of St. Mary’s
    The Godfather Part II
    The Godfather Part III
    The Silence of the Lambs
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Toy Story 3
  • This is quite startling to me… 60 (or 11 %) of Best Picture nominees have been remakes.

Morgan came to an astute conclusion… The Academy doesn’t just like to keep nominating the same type of film, it likes to keep nominating versions of the same film.

Now, my last question to you are two-fold: Do you think Oscar should nominate more comedic films? If so, which ones do you think deserve to be nominated for Best Picture?


Well, that’s it for the FEBRUARY 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Five for the Fifth: First of the Year (2014) Edition

Hello folks, welcome to the FIRST edition of 2014 Five for the Fifth!!

FiveForTheFifth2014

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. As I was thinking for all the questions for this post, I was humming some of the songs from FROZEN so naturally my mind turns to soundtracks. I listen to basically only a couple of genres: classical and soundtracks, with other genres I listen to only when I come across to on the radio. I haven’t decided whether I want to make a top 10 list of favorite soundtracks yet, but if I did, I think these five will surely make the list: The Great Gatsby, The Sapphires, Pacific Rim, Gravity, and of course, FROZEN. That last one is especially addictive, just like a lot of other Disney music, I just can’t get ‘em out of my head! The Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel’s version of The First Time of Forever is my absolute favorite.

So my first question is: What’s your favorite soundtrack/song of 2013?

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2. I’d like to single out an actor/filmmaker whose birthday falls on Five for the Fifth Day. Well today’s Bradley Cooper‘s birthday, and he and I are apparently only a month apart in age [I'll let you Google it yourself how old that is, ahah].

BradleyCooperBday

I haven’t always been fond of Cooper, though with his tall, lean figure, dark hair and beautiful blue eys, you’d think he’d be my type. The thing is, I kind of find him to be a little too pretty, which actually has the opposite effect. In any case, ever since Silver Linings Playbook, and most recently American Hustle, I’ve warmed up to him more. At least he has a pleasant countenance, though not the most charismatic actor in my opinion.

So what do you think of Bradley Cooper? Are you a fan?

3. The trend in Hollywood with film adaptations is they come in twos. And so is this year with two Biblical epics, one for Easter (NOAH – March 28) and the other just before Christmas (EXODUS – December 12). As much as I LOVE stories from the Good Book getting some attention, granted there are a bunch of them that are worth exploring, I’m more curious rather than excited about these two. My hope is that they’d stay true to the source material and that God doesn’t end up simply being an afterthought.

CroweNOAHvsBaleEXODUS

Russell Crowe w/ Jennifer Connelly in NOAH & Bale as Moses

Last week we got a FIRST LOOK of Christian Bale in the role of Moses. So apparently it’s not enough that he’s played the Ultimate Savior of Humanity (as Jesus in the TV movie Mary, Mother of Jesus) back in 1999. Not the greatest casting call ever IMO. Now, as much as I love Bale and he’s a terrific actor, I feel that he’s rather ill-suited for this role as well, it’d be nice to see Hollywood at least attempt to cast someone ethnic looking even if they couldn’t find an actual Jewish actor. I’d think Guatemalan-descent Oscar Isaac would’ve been a better choice and he’s a very good actor in his own right. Yes I know he doesn’t have the star power yet, and something with a huge budget like this is unlikely to get greenlit without a major star.

Anyway, that official photo shows Moses still leading a comfortable life as the adopted member of the Egyptian royal family. But here are some set photos with lookie here… Aussie Joel Edgerton as Ali Baba, er I mean Rhamses! In the photo of Bale with Ridley Scott, the costume look like it’s a recycled version from his Robin Hood film. Mr. Scott hasn’t captured the glory that was Gladiator since its release 14 years ago, we’ll see if he’d finally do so with this one.

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Well, what do you think folks? Thoughts on the EXODUS film?

4. I heard about A Promise a couple of months ago and being a fan of period dramas, naturally it piqued my interest. But with a cast that include Alan Rickman, Rebecca Hall AND former Game of ThronesRichard Madden (this ultra gorgeous hunk of a man happens to be Scottish, natch!), I definitely want to see this! Check out the trailer:

A romantic drama set in Germany just before WWI and centered on a married woman who falls in love with her husband’s protégé. Separated first by duties and then by the war, they pledge their devotion to one another.

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Ok so I’ve read some not-so-stellar reviews from Venice Film Festival that mentioned the lack of chemistry. Heh, I guess I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt, I mean, being torn between Rickman and Madden? A girl can only be so darn lucky! Ah well, I doubt this movie will make it to my city anyway, but I’ll be sure to rent it when it comes out.

What do  you think of this one, folks?


5. Now lastly, since the first week of the New Year isn’t over yet, some of you are probably still working on your New Year’s resolution. Some might’ve actually broken one too, am I right? ;) I actually don’t really have one, I just never bothered with it, but this year, as it relates to my blog and my love for movies, my resolution is to catch up on more classic movies. I’ve been saying that a lot in the past but this time, I’ve got a plan! I’ve signed up for the BlindSpot blogathon, as you can see on my list I posted last week, I’d at least hit 12 of them I’ve been meaning to see. Perhaps you have similar goals, i.e. tackle a certain genre/filmmaker or maybe you want to catch all of AFI’s Top 100 Movies, etc.

So, what’s YOUR movie-related goal in 2014?


Well, that’s it for the first-of-the-year edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Counting down to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Finally the wait is almost over! The movie opens here next Friday but I don’t have to wait much longer as I’ll be seeing it tomorrow night! :D

I quite enjoyed the first movie [read my top 10 list why I think it was a worthwhile journey] and I’m one of the few people who actually don’t mind seeing The Hobbit extended in three films as I just love the Middle Earth universe, especially filled with my favorite actors! Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, oh my!

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Some of the ensemble cast at the L.A. premiere earlier this week

Well, just for fun, here are some interesting trivia and fun marketing campaign:

BY THE NUMBERS

1 Hobbit – Bilbo Baggins

1 Dragon – Smaug

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1 Crew member whose sole job on set was to look after prosthetic hands

1 Elvenking – Thranduil

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2.5 Number of years the textures department at Weta Digital worked on Smaug’s skin

2 Wizards – Gandalf and Radagast

3 Number of children belonging to Bard

3 Films in the Trilogy

4 Inches that 15-year-old actor John Bell (Bain) grew over the length of production

4 Tons of silicon used to generate the facial prosthetics

5 Hours to complete hair, make-up, prosthetics and wardrobe for each of the 13 Dwarves

5 Average number of doubles used for each main character, including scale, stunt and riding doubles

6 Number of weeks it took to build Beorn’s house

BeornHouse

7 km Length of toupe tape used to attach beards to faces

8 Legs on the giant Spiders infesting Mirkwood Forest

9 Weeks of location filming on the Trilogy

10kg Human hair for wigmaking

104 Average days it took to renew a studio with a new set

13 Dwarves – Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Bofur, Bombur, Bifur, Oin, Gloin, Dori, Nori and Ori

13 Empty wine barrels in which the Dwarves escape Thranduil’s Realm

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14 Tons of silicone used to mold all of the armor and weapons for all cultures

26 Average days shooting on a single set

32 Polystyrene trees, used in various configurations, to make the Mirkwood set

40 Buildings on casters that make up the Lake-town set

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48fps Higher frame rate used for the Trilogy

60 2nd unit studio crew

65 Number of people it took—including actors, doubles and stunt men—to portray 13 Dwarves

80 The age of the oldest vintage microphone used to record the score for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

88 Microphones used in the film’s scoring session

91 Wigs created for the Dwarves

94 Set models created for the Trilogy

95 Number of musicians in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra recording the film’s score

99 Number of studio sets built for the Trilogy

100+ Hobbit feet for Bilbo

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Even Smaug couldn’t resist Bilbo’s feet! [Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman on set]

Check out this hilarious Yahoo! video Guess the Feet, too bad I can’t embed it directly to this post, but trust me, it’s a hoot!

100 Total 2nd unit location crew

100 Total costume department crew

115 Number of drivers needed to transport the cast and crew to New Zealand locations

250+ Approximate population of the Trilogy’s art department

263 Beards made for the production

300 Bottles of spirit gum used in the production

350 Off-set crew

400 Costumes created for Lake-town

450 Main unit studio crew

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547 Traveling weapons for the 13 Dwarves

800 Crew traveling on location between two units

860 Bottles of isopropyl alcohol used to remove prosthetics

752 Wigs. Nearly everyone in the film is wigged

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1200 ‘Extras’ that needed to be cast for the Trilogy

2000 Hand-spun goblets created for Smaug’s Lair

3000 Props recorded in the furniture catalogue for Lake-town

5000+ Approximate population of Lake-town

8900 Approximate number of continuous hours the art department worked to build, decorate, and tear down sets. This involved different crews working 24/7

11,862 Prosthetics made for the Trilogy

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140,000+ Cups of coffee made by craft services throughout production

170,000 Punched aluminum gold plated coins trickled over Smaug’s Lair

Air New Zealand

This was released in mid November along with a contest to win a 5 night trip for two to Middle-earth itself! Oh man, that would’ve been sweet! That’s one of the dream places I’d love to visit, hopefully someday I could make it there as well as visit my dear aunt in Sydney, Australia!

Here in Middle-earth, everyday tasks can reveal out of this world surprises and before you know it everything can turn a bit Hobbit-shaped.

And one of my favorites about Peter Jackson‘s films are the plethora of video blogs and behind-the-scenes footage he readily share to his fans. Here’s the latest Production Diary which focuses on filming with Smaug the Dragon. Now I could watch an entire video just on Benedict Cumberbatch on set:


And here’s a 13-minute video of filming, I wish there are more specifically on the Barrel escape scene!

Well, the reviews I’ve been reading so far has been positive, so I’m even more excited about it than ever. I LOVE the world of Middle Earth so I really can’t wait to go back and be immersed in that universe once again!


Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Thoughts on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug?

TCFF Opening Night featuring Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA premiere

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Twin Cities’ cinephiles rejoice! Twin Cities Film Fest annual film festivities is upon us again, can’t believe it’s our fourth year already.

10 Days, 75 Films, 8 Top Awards Contenders & 22 Red Carpet Events. World premieres, Minnesota breakthroughs, one-of-a-kind treasures and Oscar front-runners.

Yes, TCFF is back!

But on top of all those movies, TCFF also feature educational panels, Q&As with filmmakers, as well as special events and after parties! All taking place at the SHOWPLACE ICON THEATRE at The Shops at West End. Special thanks to Wade Financial Group who’s our Auditorium Sponsor.

I’m thrilled to be the official blogger again and this year I’ve got two blogging volunteers, Sarah Johnson and Adam Wells, so stay tuned for reviews and other coverage from the three of us throughout the film fest!

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If you live in the area and you haven’t visited the TCFF Official site by now, well what are you waiting for? The full schedule is online, complete with info and trailers. Getting your tickets have never been easier and more affordable. The more you watch the more you save with TCFF passes, available from Silver to Platinum.

In case you haven’t seen the awesome trailer yet by WonderVision, check it out below:

This year we open the film fest with a film that’s been receiving Oscar buzz! In fact, the 76-year-old lead actor Bruce Dern won Cannes’ Palme d’Or, whilst director Alexander Payne garnered a nomination.

NebraskaPoster

After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father (Bruce Dern) thinks he’s struck it rich, and wrangles his son (Will Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Shot in black and white across four states, Nebraska tells the stories of family life in the heartland of America.

Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk

Here’s a clip from the Cannes premiere:

When I saw the trailer (which you can see on the TCFF page), I wondered why it was shot in B&W. Well, this is what Payne had to say when asked the inevitable question at the Cannes’ press conference:

“It just seemed like the right thing to do for this film,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful form, and it’s really left our cinema because of commercial, not artistic, reasons; it never left fine-art photography. This modest, austere story seemed to lend itself to being made in black and white, a visual style perhaps as austere as the lives of its people.”

Source: Vulture

It’s also been 25 years since Dern was the first-billed star of a major motion picture, having worked with auteurs such as Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, Douglas Trumbull, Francis Ford Coppola, and Quentin Tarantino in his long, illustrious career. I was quite impressed with Payne’s last film The Descendants, so I’m looking forward to seeing this one tonight!


TCFFTickets

Ticket Prices are as follows:
General Admission $10; Opening/Closing Gala $20; Centerpiece Gala $20; Sneak Preview Galas $20. Festival Passes can also be purchased: Silver $50 for 6 films; Gold $70 for 10 films; or Platinum $120 for 12 films + 2 tickets to Opening, Closing or Gala. (Silver and Gold Packages do not include Opening, Closing or Gala Tickets).

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.twincitiesfilmfest.org.


Stay tuned for more TCFF coverage folks! So which of the TCFF films are you looking forward to most?

Musings on Bong Joon-ho’s sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer & How I hope we get to see the director’s cut for US release

I saw the beautiful International poster of Snowpiercer today, a film I’ve been looking forward to for some time. The film’s been breaking all kinds of box records in Asia, especially in South Korea, Bong Joon-ho‘s native country. Unfortunately for most of us in the West, we probably won’t get to see it until next year… and which version of that film we’d end up seeing is still unknown.

Anyway, before I get to that, here’s the poster and latest International trailer:

SnowpiercerIntlPoster

In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.

I’m so stoked for this film as I’m intrigued by the premise and early look of the film. Plus, just look at the cast: Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans, Alison Pill, as well as some Korean actors Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung. Chan-wook Park, who directed Stoker, is one of the eight producers in the film. The story is actually based on a French graphic novel Le Transperceneige.

Per THR, Snowpiercer was sold to 167 countries, the most territories a Korean title was sold to prior to its release. The Weinstein Co. (TWC) had acquired the US rights of the film. Now, those who keep up with film news probably have read news about über mogul Harvey Weinstein‘s desire to cut 20 minutes of the film to make it more ‘marketable’ for English speaking territories. This is what Twitch.com reported about a month ago on the matter on the reason for the cuts:

According to film critic and programmer Tony Rayns “TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma.’”

Oh, and voice overs will reportedly be added to the opening and closing of the film for the US version too [face palm]. Of course, cutting International films for Western release is nothing new, we’ve seen Asian films like John Woo’s Red Cliff and recently, Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster (check out Steven’s review of both cuts) being edited down for US release. I get it that with Red Cliff, the original film is about four hours long, so the cuts might have been warranted, but in regards to Snowpiercer, cutting 20 minutes from a 126-min film AND adding VO is so unnecessary. If the reason is to make it ‘less dark’ and turning it into a mainstream apocalyptic action movie, that’s just disheartening and insulting!

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Recent Updates from director Bong Joon-ho

JoonhoBongWell, as of late August, the director himself said the cuts would be minor. He’s been promoting the film all over the world and this is what he said during one of the press conference (per Bleeding Cool):

I came here after editing for the American version. I’ve never produced a new version for overseas premieres, and this is the first time I’m making a new version. Weinstein is actually being pretty soft toward editing, probably because it’s noticed how critics have praised the film and know how angry movie fans get over new edits. They even asked me which parts I want to include in the film.

Heh, of course I’d rather the studio would just leave it alone and let the audience see the director’s cut as it’s intended. I really don’t get the notion of tailoring a film for certain audience. I mean, I’m from Indonesia who watch 99% Western movies. I don’t expect ANY film to be tailored to my cultural background, that is just absurd. Besides, it’s not like the premise is really THAT difficult to understand, if anything doomsday is a universal theme, as is class system and the struggle for survival.

Tilda Swinton, an actress whose work I respect, makes her views known about this editing hoopla at the Deauville American Film Festival in France (per The Playlist): “There’s no question that all English speaking audiences deserve to see director Bong’s cut, and we hope very much that we will all see it,”

Asked about the film’s effect, she replied, “Maybe an effect of the film, it just occurred to me, is that when one has spent two hours in the claustrophobia of this train we can leave the cinema and feel the relief that we can make life wider, so maybe it’s a sort of aversion therapy to sit in the train for two hours. … That’s two hours, not one hour and forty minutes.” Nice! Thanks you miss Swinton! She’s almost unrecognizable in the trailer, which further proves what a versatile actress she is.

I REALLY hope we’ll get to see the original director’s cut of this. I’d LOVE to see it this year too. So Harvey, would you just release it this Winter, pretty please?


Anyway, what are your thoughts about this film and the whole editing scenario?