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.

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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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Question of the Week: Which conspiracy movies would you recommend?

My hubby and I opted for home cinema this weekend. Specifically we’re catching up on 70s conspiracy thrillers in anticipation for The Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Huh? Well, if you’ve been reading articles about the sequel to the First Avenger, you might’ve read that the filmmakers have said that The Winter Soldier is essentially a conspiracy thriller. I’ve read here and other sites that directing brothers Anthony and Joe Russo were influenced by the likes of Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View (check out our contributor’s Jack Deth’s in-depth review here) and Marathon Man. This article suggested 5 things to watch before watching The Winter Soldier and The Parallax View (1974) made an appearance again, as well as All The President’s Men (1976).

ParallaxView_AllPresidentsMen

Well, so we ended up watching both of those movies. All The President’s Men is on my Blind Spot list anyway, so it’s like catching two birds with one stone. I’ll have my review of that in the last Tuesday of this month. Both of these are directed by Alan J. Pakula within two years of each other. While both are excellent & thought-provoking conspiracy thrillers, I enjoyed All The President’s Men more as the pacing is a bit better. I’m just not as impressed with Warren Beaty (and his distractingly big hair) than w/ Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman, but both films are certainly worth seeing.

Now, I’ve always been a big fan of conspiracy thriller movies. On the top of my head, apart from the ones I’ve mentioned above, these are some of the best ones I’ve seen so far: The Conversation, State of Play (the 2009 movie), The Insider, The International, Michael Clayton, The Constant Gardener, No Way Out. I got some nice recommendations from this blog, and that’s just from the 70s!

Surely there are a bazillion out there I’ve missed out on, so in the spirit of recommendations between us movie fans, I ask you this:

What conspiracy movies have you seen that you’d highly recommend?

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?

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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

Question of the Week: 80s/90s aging movie stars still in action – Love ‘em or Hate ‘em?

Tonight I’m going to a screening of 3 Days to Kill. Yes the trailer looks ridiculous and the director is McG so the likelihood of this being good is pretty slim. But y’know what, I’m still going to see it for the nostalgia factor as I quite like Kevin Costner as an action hero, whom I first saw in a spy thriller No Way Out in the late 80s. I’m dating myself here, but those who grew up in the 80s like I did likely remember these stars in their prime. Costner’s getting a career resurgence since winning a Golden Globe for his performance in the TV miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. Interestingly, he’s only one of a slew of 80s/90s movie stars who’re still in demand in today’s movies.

3DaysToKill_NonStop

In fact, within a week of each other, 59-year-old Costner and 61-year-old Liam Neeson have a new movie coming out with each of them getting top billing. Both are action movies, which seem to be the genre these old, err seasoned movie stars get hired for, strangely enough. I just came across this NY Post article last night where I read about Neeson’s reaction why he took those action roles: “Because they’re dumb enough to offer them to me … It’s like, I’m 61 years of age. I mean, come on. It’s a joke. It’s like [mimes talking into phone], ‘How much? OK, I’ll be there.’” Ahah, you gotta love his honesty!

But hey, there are economic reasons why Hollywood would rather offer action roles to familiar names. That NY Post article also talked about how foreign audiences actually love ‘stars of immediate past’ and the universal appeal of an action adventure is easier to market than a decidedly more culturally-relevant comedy or drama. The Expendables 2 only grossed $85 mil domestically but made well over $200 mil in foreign markets total. Even the relative dud like Escape Plan with Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger which only earned a paltry $25 mil here in the US made over $100 mil in foreign markets. So they may be old but certainly not flat-lined yet at the box office.

There’s practically a new sub-genre of *aging stars in action* movies with a cast that pride themselves of being older, wiser and still very much bad ass. It has spun several successful franchises like Taken (Neeson’s vehicle), RED aka Retired Extremely Dangerous (Bruce Willis’ vehicle) and The Expendables, kick-started by Sly himself, easily one of THE biggest action heroes of all time, and starring the who’s who of 80s & 90s action.

Expendables3

The Expendables‘ strong point is truly in the cast [I've seen the first film, it's definitely NOT the script] and the possibilities seem endless. If you’re somewhat famous in the 90s and can still walk properly without a cane, there’s a chance Sly’d offer you a role [that is if you didn't demand $1 mil/per day pay check like Bruce Willis]. It turns out he IS expendable after all ahah, though he’s not exactly running out of work. This Summer he’s reprising his role as detective in Sin City 2, which guess what, opens just a week after Expendables 3 :D

So long as the demand is there, I think we can expect relative *young’uns* like Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves and Johnny Depp, who are in the early 50s or will hit it this year, would be around for at least another decade or so.


So what do you think folks? Do you wish these aging stars would retire already or are you loving the perpetual trend of aging stars in action?

Our casting picks for Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Parsifal Mosaic’ Film Adaptation

TedSaydalavongBanner

The recent news that one of Robert Ludlum‘s novels is getting a big screen treatment got me curious and excited. Ludlum is best known by movie goers for his Bourne series, which was one of the most successful spy franchise in Hollywood.

TheParsifalMosaicNovel

It’s one of Ludlum’s better books and also with big name talents behind the scenes, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are producing while Chinese film director Yimou Zhang will be in charge of bringing the book to life; I do hope we get to see a great spy/action thriller without the names James Bond or Jason Bourne attached to it. Also, this will be Zhang’s first American-produced film, I wonder if he can handle the pressure of producing a tent pole type of picture without losing his artistic integrity. I know many foreign born film directors just couldn’t handle the work environment in the Hollywood system.

For this post I’m just going to gloss over the plot of the book, pretty sure it won’t be a direct adaption since the book came out in the early 80s and dealt with the current political climate at the time. I’ll also give my thoughts on who should be cast the main leads and how they can make the story more relevant to our current events. I read the book in college so it’s been a while, I’ll just go over the main storyline since I don’t remember much of it and don’t worry I won’t give out any spoilers, the book has lots plot twists.

The book starts out with an intelligence officer named Michael Havelock witnessing the execution of his partner and lover Jenna Karas in Costa Brava, Spain. Havelock works for the US black ops division called “Consular Ops”, think of the group as the IMF from the Mission: Impossible films or MI:6 in the James Bond flicks. Karas has been marked for execution because she’s apparently a KGB double spy. After witnessing this tragic event, he left the intelligence world and trying to find her killers and seek revenge. He traveled all over Europe and while in Rome, he met up with a top director of the KGB named Pyotr Rostov. Havelock wanted to know why the KGB decided to execute Karas but Rostov denied that she’s even an agent of the KGB. Later he saw Karas at a train station alive and well, but when she saw him, she looks frighten and flees before he can get close to her. He pursues her but she’s nowhere to be found. Now confused and angry, he decided to reach out to his intelligence colleagues so he can find her. While on this search for his lover, he got involved in some political conspiracies, which involves assassinations, shoot outs and everything you’d expect from a spy novel.

ZhangYimou_ParsifalMosaicThe book’s storyline is obviously out of date since it dealt with the cold war of the early 80s. So I’m curious to know how they’re going adapt it into a film that would fit into our current world events. Comparing to other of Ludlum’s books, this one was more a of suspense/romance/thriller than the other books he wrote, most of them were straight up action/adventure. As mentioned earlier, this will probably be Zhang’s first Hollywood film and I think he can incorporate his talents into this movie. He’s done a lot of dramas but also he can do action scenes. Although I don’t recall the book contains any huge action scenes like the Bourne series, but I’m sure the screenwriter will come up with something. After all I’m assuming this will be a $100 mil+ action summer flick. I do hope they make into something different than another James Bond or Jason Bourne rip off, like I said the book was more of a romance and suspense than straight up action thriller.

Casting wise, I would love to see they cast Richard Armitage as Haverlock, if you’ve seen the show MI: 5 or Spooks then you know he’ll be a perfect fit as a spy. But since this is a big budget production, I don’t know if his name is well known enough to get him an audition.

Ruth’s note:

It’s at times like this that I wish I were a casting director! I absolutely concur with Ted’s pick here (natch!) and we both agree that Armitage would make a fine Bond, the ultimate super spy.

I’m re-posting this badge I made for that Bond casting article [he's now 42]:

bondactor_richardarmitage

I think the fact that he’s played Thorin in The Hobbit makes him a bit more well-known to mainstream US audiences (he’s pretty famous in the UK for his various BBC/Sky TV roles). Besides, I actually think that casting a non mega-star would work better for the role as there’s less *baggage* associated with a movie star.

RichardArmitage_ParsifalMosaic1

Richard as Lucas North in ‘Spooks’

It’s not just his brooding good looks that make me a fan, but Richard’s got an undeniable screen presence, versatility and that *tough guy with a heart* persona that would suit the romance angle here. I’m absolutely convinced Richard is more than capable to carry the role of Havelock, described per Wiki as “…an exhausted and embittered veteran operative … Brought over to the United States, he proved an invaluable operative for US intelligence.” So he’s basically a brilliant spy, not just an action guy, with a chip on his shoulder.

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Richard in ‘Spooks’ and as SAS soldier in ‘Strike Back’

Here’s a couple of clips from Spooks that prove he’s got the versatility for action as well as dramatic scenes.


Now, if they’re going to cast someone with more fame, then I think Hugh Jackman can play Haverlock. I just hope they don’t go with someone like Tom Cruise, I love Cruise but he’s already Ethan Hunt and Jack Reacher, so there’s no need for him to be consider for this role.

The book has a strong female lead and I would love if Rachel Weisz gets the role of Jenna Karas. If not her then maybe my current actress crush, Rachel McAdams.

Weisz_McAdams_ParsifalMosaic

The main villain in the book is Arthur Pierce, described in Wiki as Ludlum’s most fearsome villains. I think Gary Oldman would be perfect. Oldman’s been playing too many good guys lately, I would love to see him as a villain again.

I’m a sucker for spy thrillers so I’m looking forward to seeing this book comes to the big screen. Of course a spy movie without the names James Bond or Jason Bourne is a hard sell, for example the latest Jack Ryan movie was a massive failure, so hopefully this one won’t suffer the same faith. Now since project is still in early stages, I don’t know if we’ll get to see it on the big screen anytime soon. I mean two other projects that are based on Ludlum’s books has been announced before and they’re still stuck in development hell. One of them is The Matarese Circle which MGM hired David Cronerberg to write and direct while Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise were attached as the leads. The other project is The Chancellor Manuscript which director Marc Forster acquired the rights to direct it and Leo Di Caprio was attached to star in it. Those are two good books that I would love to see the movie version but again they’re still stuck in limbo and I don’t know when we’ll get to see The Parsifal Mosaic. Hopefully sooner than later.


Have you read The Parsifal Mosaic? Whether you have or not, based on the info above, what do you think of our casting choice?

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

Guest Post: Fixed fee – Unlimited movies. The future of movies?

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today we’ve got a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Nostra from My Film Views. It’s a fascinating topic surely us moviegoers and film fans have an opinion about, so read on …

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The internet has changed our lives, not only in regards to being able to connect with people instantly or being able to shop online, but it has also changed the world around us. Some physical stores have seen the number of customers drop and were forced to close down. Two big examples are music stores and video rental places. It is possible to get your music and movie fixes without leaving your home and even on the move it is easy to get a couple of songs on the go through your phone. It has forced record labels into changing their model and the pricing for songs has changed. Although the movie industry was also forced to change I started wondering about pricing. In the past I already wrote about the death of DVD and Blu-Ray where I mentioned fixed fee services. For movies the obvious service to mention is of course Netflix where you can watch as many movies and TV shows you want for a price which normally might buy you one “new release” on DVD/Blu Ray.
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Some cinema chains have been paying attention as well. The biggest one in the Netherlands, Pathé, has an online offering of movies (still with individually priced movies though) but also has been doing a lot to make sure people keep visiting the cinema by organising special nights (for example one for women where they will have a small market where clothes and jewelry are sold) to make it more of an experience. It is not the only thing they do however. A couple of years ago they started offering Unlimited passes. Basically they work the same as Netflix does. They cost around 20 euros a month (depending which option you take) and what that allows you to do is visit the cinema as much as you’d like. So you could just go to the cinema in the morning and stay there all day seeing the movies you like. There is no limit and the cards even allow you to buy concessions for reduced prices (10 to 25% off the normal prices). It’s a great deal for both moviegoer, who can watch all the movies he/she wants and for the cinema as well as they have a fixed income and know when people come they will probably still buy some food or drinks.
The consumer wants to be able to choose what they watch. This is already possible with on demand services and there are also initiatives to introduce that for the cinema. I bet there are a ton of older movies you wish you could see at the cinema. “We Want Cinema” is a dutch platform which does just that. On their website they have a big selection of titles to choose from. You select one of the participating cinemas you would like to see the movie and then you will have to make sure enough other people also want to see that movie. If enough tickets are sold the movie will be programmed and you can enjoy the film on the big screen again.
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I’d like to imagine about a possible future of movies. What if you would combine these things where a cinema chain or something like Netflix would have a subscription form where you have an unlimited selection of films on demand and could also head to the cinema with that same subscription? It would be an awesome offer for movie lovers (for about 30 euros/40 dollar per month). The movie companies would be able to negotiate with the provider of the service about the pricing. Since both the online service and the cinema would be run by the same company this would also open up the possibility of simultaneous releases of new movies in the cinema and on demand. It would not matter where people watched their movies. An added extra for the movie companies would be that pirating of movies could decrease because people would be able to watch the latest movies immediately.

Add to that a special section in the online service to pick movies to see at the cinema, which makes promoting events like that and it easily something to get excited about. Unlimited movies for a fixed fee has already been partly-realised, but the future could be even brighter.

Well movie lovers, what do you think of this idea? 

Guest Post: Elysium, Her & The Nature of Science Fiction

Special thanks to Conor Holt for this post. Stay tuned for my full review of Spike Jonze’s her coming this weekend!


Well, this is awkward. Science Fiction is my favorite film genre, but in 2013 one of my favorite films of the year and my least favorite film of the year…are both Science-Fiction. How could this happen?

Well, let’s go back to the Science Fiction Genre. The Science-Fiction genre is one of the more difficult genres to define, since it lacks the same visual iconography & story structure of more concrete genres, like the Western or the Gangster film (if I can remember my Science-Fiction film genre class from college correctly). The Western features cowboys, saloons, shootouts – constant, common visual cues that you’re watching a Western. A Sci-Fi film, however, could feature a time machine, or take place on a space ship, or feature a robot – any and all visuals are possible. A Gangster film almost always features the tragic rise and fall of a criminal in the urban jungle, while a Sci-Fi film could be about changing the past, or fighting aliens, or about a robot learning to be human. Science-Fiction is defined by its very diversity – any time period, any technology, any idea is possible. The only requirement is that the story address and think about that possibility.  The “what if?” of the story isn’t just a jumping off point, but the actual crux of the story.

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So, back to 2013, and two very different films. Just a few weeks ago, I saw Spike Jonze’s her, and loved it. Absolutely loved it. A tender, beautiful love story between a man and his Artificially Intelligent computer program, and the complications that arise from that. But this Summer, I saw Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium …and there’s really nothing good I can say about it. Matt Damon does his best, but even he can’t save a severely underwritten, poorly-told, simplistic, heavy-handed action film with some robots and space ships thrown in.

Both of these films are technically Science Fiction, yet I had vastly different reactions to them. Why? Well, of course, no one is going to like every film in a single genre. Hell, not every film in a genre is even going to be good – there are probably thousands of terrible direct-to-DVD sci-fi films cluttering Redboxes across the country right now. But I think an important distinction can be made between her and Elysium that address the nature of science-fiction.  “her” is about how a man could love an AI, how an AI could love a human, and the challenges they face as a couple that cannot touch each other (as well as looking at an overall world immersed in virtual activity and communication). Elysium features a floating space station for the rich, brain chips, and fancy new weapons, but it’s about a man trying to break in to a restricted area to get healed by a magical healing machine (the film never tries to explain how it works). While her makes the technology and the “science-fiction” part of the story, Elysium uses the science-fiction setting and props to dress up an action film, and a pretty silly action film at that.

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Elysium Space Station

Maybe that’s it – the fact that Elysium pretends that it’s a Science-Fiction film, but is really an action film in Sci-Fi clothing is why I hated it so much, that and the fact that it’s a poorly written, hammy over-the-top failure (such a disappointment after the terrific District 9). Good Science-Fiction takes interesting questions about technology, human nature, outer space, and seeks to explore possible answers. They can be action-packed (The Terminator) or comedic (Wall-E) or head spinning (Primer), but they have to explore possibilities in a way only Science Fiction can.

Perhaps the solution to the broadness of the Science Fiction genre is being a little bit more selective about what gets to be called “Science Fiction”. The Action-Adventure genre can have Elysium – we don’t want it. In fact, they can have Gravity too. Gravity is a tremendous film, and one of the best of the year, but nothing about it is scientifically fictitious – everything in it is real, and it takes place today. It’s not Science Fiction – it’s a survival story on a space station.

Science Fiction is a special thing – a creative space for exploring new ideas, possible technologies, unpredicted futures. If other genres want to play around in this sandbox and borrow bits and pieces, that’s fine – but the distinction of “Science Fiction” should be held only by those who truly care about and are defined by their exploration of scientific possibility.

Thoughts about the Sci-fi genre and/or the films mentioned? We’d love to hear what you think!


Conor Holt is the writer, director, and producer of multiple short films. His most recent film, A Better Life, a science-fiction drama about marriage & control, which he directed & co-wrote, played at the 2013 Fargo Film Festival and the Twin Cities Film Fest, and recently won Best Editing & Visual Effects at the St. Cloud Film Festival. He is a graduate of the Minnesota State University Moorhead Film Studies program, and currently lives in Los Angeles, working odd jobs in the film industry and volunteering at film festivals.

For more information on A Better Life, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/ABetterLifeShortFilm. Follow Conor on Twitter.

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

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

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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].

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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.

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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

First Question of the Year: Which 2013 movie(s) do you appreciate but wouldn’t watch again?

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It’s been a bitterly c-cc-cold start to the new year here in my neck of the woods! I know I seem to be obsessing over the weather a lot but really, you’d understand when the *high* only reaches -2˚F (that’s -18˚ C!) and I’m super excited that Friday is going to hit 20 degrees (woot woot!) Yeah, it’s pathetic!

But hey, it’s not a weather blog so let’s talk about movies! As I’ve been writing some reviews of 2013 releases the past few days (stay tuned for my review of Nebraska later this week), it made me think of how I view some of those films now that it’s sunk in. More often than not, the reaction right after seeing the movie is pretty different than how I feel days or weeks later. There are some films I rate highly that I wish I’d watch again, sometimes right away (Frozen comes to mind, and on varying degrees HER, Nebraska, Austenland, and of course Pacific Rim, which I had watched twice since its theatrical release).

On the flip side though, there are films I appreciate and truly respect, but not something I’d ever want to see again. This question is kind of a different twist to what I posed a couple of years ago in regard to The Hurt Locker. A couple of movies that comes to mind (which sort of sparked this post), are Inside Llewyn Davis and The Wolf of Wall Street. In fact, I was originally going to title this ‘Movies I Appreciate but NOT Love.’ That’s perhaps an equally appropriate question, though there’s perhaps other reason why you don’t want to watch something a second time around. Interestingly, those two films come from beloved and celebrated filmmakers (the Coen Brothers and Martin Scorsese) whom I respect but their work are not exactly my cup of tea. In any case, both are good films, some would even call a masterpiece. But for me, I can only appreciate some aspects of the film (i.e. the performances) but as a whole, it’s not something I’d want to see again.


What about you folks? Which movies you saw in 2013 that you’re glad you saw but wouldn’t watch again?