Guest Post – Musings from a part-time cartoon artist: Maybe some comics shouldn’t be movies

Special thanks to guest contributor Rich Watson from the film blog
Wide Screen World for today’s post.


During the opening weekend of the new Fantastic Four movie, I saw a discussion on Facebook in which people were putting it down, and more importantly, praising the original incarnation – the comic book created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961 which signaled a sea change in the industry. Among the comments included one by my cartoonist buddy Scott Roberts, whom I’ve talked about before on my blog. He questioned a notion that, in this age of comic book superhero movies, we’ve perhaps taken for granted:

“Maybe some properties are better left as they were. We’ve become conditioned to thinking that everything that was ever written, drawn, sung or even thought MUST MUST MUST be made into a movie (or “the” movie) ASAP, or it will never be an official, top tier part of our pop culture.”

F4Movie

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Fantastic Four was the comic that got me into comics, long ago during my youth – the art, the writing, the cosmic-scale adventure and the unique family dynamic all appealed to me from the start – and like many fans, I had hoped that this new movie, directed by young turk Josh Trank, would be an improvement over the Tim Story duology from less than a decade ago. It mattered to me, for what amounts to the same reason that Scott brought up, though I never admitted it to myself: I wanted it to be “legitimate” somehow. I wanted an FF movie that I could hold up next to Avengers, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man and Superman and have it judged as good as those movies, for the sake of my childhood memories of enjoying the comic. Instead, it looks like it’s going to be one of the year’s biggest bombs.

On the one hand, this attitude is indicative of the exalted place movies still hold within our culture. In a time in which television and video games have improved their standing in the eyes of Fandom Assembled, movies are still considered the gold standard. Even with the prose novel I’m currently working on, in the back of my mind, I’ve thought about who would play which character if it ever became a movie. However, are we so in thrall to the spell movies cast on us that it blinds us to the inherent value of “lesser” media – especially when comics are concerned?

F4ComicsComics were considered “lesser” for years, looked down upon by many as juvenile and inferior. Then groundbreaking titles like The Dark Knight Returns, Maus and Sandman got noticed outside of the industry, and the way the public thought about the medium began to change. When more fans permeated Hollywood, the current wave of comic book adaptations took off: superhero material like Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man; avant-garde films like American Splendor, A History of Violence and Ghost World; and small-screen adaptations like The Walking Dead, Agents of SHIELD and Daredevil. Even Broadway has caught the bug now, with the lavish spectacle Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the Tony-winning Fun Home. Still, for many fans, movies are the default medium of choice when imagining live-action adaptations. But why do we expect Hollywood to come calling for every hit comic?

Watchmen scribe Alan Moore has said that when he created that book with artist Dave Gibbons, he did it with an eye towards taking full advantage of the strengths of the medium – things like the deliberate nine-panel-per-page pacing, the visual transitions from one scene to the next, the way words can tell one story and pictures another simultaneously, etc. – and the result was a work that was resistant to a movie adaptation for many years, though Hollywood tried its best. Director Zack Snyder finally succeeded in 2009, and while certain elements were unable to make the original theatrical cut, such as the comic-within-a-comic “Tales of the Black Freighter” – which ran throughout Watchmen and provided a counterpoint to the main story – he came about as close as any filmmaker possibly could to capture the book’s spirit. And the film’s existence, while it may be anathema to some, doesn’t negate that of the book.

WatchmenWas it inherently wrong of Snyder to have made a Watchmen movie? Moore thought so; he had his name taken off the credits. And while some have mocked him for what could be considered an absolutist view, he’s been burned by Hollywood before. He saw no need for a Watchmen movie, but many people, many fans of the book, did. Personally, I was ambivalent at most on the matter. I didn’t really believe it would happen, and once it was announced, I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of Snyder directing it – his heavily stylized visual aesthetic, to me, seemed all wrong for an adaptation of a book by Moore, whose work is highly cerebral – but once I saw the first teaser trailer, I was as eager to see it as everyone else. Why? Because I was in thrall to the idea of a Watchmen movie, too – no matter how questionable an idea it may have seemed.

I think what it comes down to is the simple excitement one gets upon seeing what used to be static images on paper come to life – especially images first encountered as a child. That’s a terrific experience, no doubt about it, but what has happened within the past fifteen years or so is that we’ve become like the kid who loves ice cream so much, he pigs out on gallons of the stuff. We’ve become spoiled from so many successful film adaptations of beloved comics, plus adaptations in other media – but not every comic book film is an Avengers, or an American Splendor, or even a Watchmen. Sometimes we get a Fantastic Four, and when that happens, the disappointment seems more acute – especially when all three FF films have been underwhelming at best (four if you count the Roger Corman movie). And yet, Fandom wails, if only they would get X director and Y writer who will do A, B and C, they’d have the perfect FF movie! How hard can it be?

WatchmenMovie

We expect that comic-as-movie. We demand it. Appreciating comics as comics – appreciating the things they can do that set them apart from other media, like we did with Watchmen – is no longer enough anymore, in part, because we come from a very recent history of comics being under-appreciated and disrespected. I could be wrong, but I believe the idea that comics are “less” than movies remains within our collective psyche today, if only on a subconscious level.

So do we need to take a step or two back from this insatiable demand for our favorite comics to become movies? Do we need to rebuild our self-esteem when it comes to our faith in comics-as-comics? Maybe, though given how profitable comics-as-movies (and television) have become, and continue to be, for Hollywood – due partially to the slow increase in quality – this would be difficult to achieve. Fandom Assembled pores over the tiniest aspect of the development of each new comic book movie, dissecting each detail down to the microscopic level. The studios know this, and it’s not likely to change anytime soon.

And while there will always be those who don’t need a movie adaptation to love a particular comic… is it possible this notion is beginning to become a quaint one?


Rich Watson is entering his sixth year as the creator of the film blog Wide Screen World. As a writer, his work has been recently published in the anthology magazine Newtown Literary. As a part-time cartoonist, his works include the graphic novella Rat and the comic strip City Mouse Goes West. He can be reached at ratzo318@yahoo.com.


Well, any thoughts on this topic? Let’s hear it!

Everybody’s Chattin + Trailer Spotlight: Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

Happy Midweek everyone! Two more days until Friday :D How’s your week so far? It’s kind of a s-l-o-w week for me and there’s been no Instagram updates from my dahling French crush so I’m missing him so much I could barely concentrate on anything today. Yes I live for Stanley Weber these days [sigh]… he is EVERYTHING!!!!

ehm, now that I get that out of the way…

… about those links…

Cindy posted a heartfelt tribute to the late author David Foster Wallace a while back, the subject of the recent film I saw, The End of the Tour

Mark wrote a retrospective piece on Top Gun that got me all nostalgic

In response to the recent box office bomb Fantastic Four, we’ve got a review from Keith that confirmed my dread, whilst Eddie offers up some suggestions on how to fix the franchise.

Two directorial debuts from excellent Aussie actors: Josh wrote about Russell Crowe’s debut The Water Diviner, while Tom wrote about Joel Edgerton’s The Gift

Meanwhile, Natalie reviewed this New Zealand horror comedy Housebound

Last but not least, Chris lists his picks of Best Songs of the Decade so far.


Time for question of the week

The Hateful Eight almost didn’t happen due to a script leak in 2014 by Gawker. If you follow this news, you’d likely know that QT ended up withdrawing the lawsuit against Gawker. At Comic-con last July, Tarantino said that “…it was the first draft that leaked online and he expected to write two more to get to a point where he was ready to shoot” (per THR).

Hateful8Poster

In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?

Check out the brand new trailer:

Image Source: The Playlist' Tumblr

Image Source: The Playlist’ Tumblr

I’m not a big fan of Westerns, but this one looks intriguing. QT sure knows how to cut a trailer, and the visuals look fantastic, as to be expected. The only thing is, I don’t know if I want to see Wintry scenes right smack dab in the middle of Winter when this movie’s released.

The cast is astounding… We’ve got QT’s perennial favorite Samuel L. Jackson, plus Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Amber Tamblyn, Walton Goggins, etc. Channing Tatum gets top billing on IMDb but I barely see him in the trailer (?) I’m bummed that Viggo Mortensen didn’t end up joining the cast because of scheduling conflict.

Fans of 70mm format rejoice! [I’m looking at you Ted ;)] as the film will be shown in its Ultra Panavision 70 presentation. Per IMDb, the film will be released on December 25 of this year as a roadshow presentation in 70mm format theaters only before being released in digital theaters on January 8, 2016.

Hateful8_70mm


So are you excited for The Hateful Eight?

Five for the Fifth: AUGUST 2015 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary 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. Thank you thank you Netflix for adding more Stanley Weber‘s movies available to stream [happy dance] So this first question is inspired by my recent watch of  Sword of Vengeance over the weekend, which is a sword-and-sandals movie is set in 11th century England.
SOV

Here’s the trailer:

Though it’s not really my genre, I actually enjoyed it more than I thought. Yes of course having the charismatic French actor in the lead naturally adds the enjoyment factor for me, but the cinematography is quite beautiful to look at despite the small budget. I’m also diggin’ the music, I liken it to John Wick if it were set in the Middle Ages. It’s a no-frill plot and not much dialog but for a violent vengeance flick, it’s pretty effective. This THR review states that the filmmaker’s influenced by Japanese samurai epics and the Italian spaghetti westerns, hence the protagonist is suitably taciturn.

So what’s your favorite vengeance movie?
….

2. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Relativity Media, which up until recently was the third largest mini-major film studio in the world (per Wiki). It was founded in 2004 by Ryan Kanavaugh and was quite prolific for the past decade or so, co-financing movies like Pinneaple Express, Fast & Furious, The Social Network, The Bourne Legacy, Les Misérables, Oblivion, etc. Well, reportedly it’s filed chapter 11 bankruptcy, which THR said as one of the biggest bankruptcies in Hollywood history.

RelativityStudios

Now, whilst two films from its slate are still on schedule to be released, a heist comedy Masterminds starring Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson, and the thriller Kidnap starring Halle Berry, there are quite a few movies that are now on limbo. Some of those are …

  • Jane Got a Gun, a Western starring Natalie Portman
  • Collide, the action-thriller starring Felicity Jones, Nicholas Hoult and Anthony Hopkins
  • The Tribes of Palos Verdes, the YA adaptation starring Jennifer Garner and Tye Sheridan

And it seems that The Crow reboot probably isn’t meant to be as it’s also one of films caught in Relativity’s fallout. They should just pull the plug on that once and for all!

I’m curious if any of you’ve been following the news about Relativity, and if so, what are your thoughts?

….

3. No new trailer piqued my interest in the past few days. I couldn’t care less about Deadpool‘s trailer, I have no interest in watching that movie anyway.

This FIRST LOOK however, did caught my eye and I hadn’t even heard of it before. TRUTH is a political drama starring Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett. Well, the casting alone is awesome.
Truth_FirstLook

Per Variety, the film is based on the Mary Mapes book Truth and Duty, and Blanchett plays Mapes, a CBS News journalist and Rather’s producer. It follows Mapes and Rather as they uncover allegations that George W. Bush may have been AWOL from the U.S. National Guard for over a year during the Vietnam War. Four documents were presented as authentic in a “60 Minutes” broadcast aired by CBS on Sept. 8, 2004, less than two months before the 2004 election, but it was later determined that CBS had failed to authenticate the documents. The ensuing scandal ruined Rather’s career — he stepped down six months later — and caused profound changes at CBS News. The network fired Mapes, several senior news executives were asked to resign, and CBS apologized to viewers.

It’s to be writer James Vanderbilt’s directorial debut also stars Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss and Dennis Quaid. Well, the only good film Vanderbilt’s written is Zodiac, so hopefully his directorial debut is a good one.

What’s your initial thoughts of this one?

4. Just saw this yesterday and I have to say I was geeking out so much even though I’m not even a Trekkie. But come on, who wouldn’t want to win this thing!!  Check out this Star Trek Beyond Walk-On Role Contest video…

I’ve watched the video repeatedly just for Idris Elba breaking into a dance (breakdance?) at the end… [swoooon]. Man, I’m drooling over this so much, I mean I don’t really care about the walk-on role, I just want to hang out with THIS cast on set all day!

StarTrekWalkOnRoleContest

So did you/would you enter this contest? 

5. This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Adam from Consumed by Film:

I’ve recently been reading Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film as well as Mark Kermode’s Hatchet Job, the former about the history of cinema and the latter Kermode’s take on the future of film criticism.

StoryOfFilm_HatchetJob

Do you have any favourite non-fiction movie-related books that you’ve spent countless hours peering over?


Well, that’s it for the August 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: 7 films to see at TIFF 2015

EverybodysChattin

Happy Tuesday everyone! Well I’m still high from the pure adrenaline rush of watching Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Boy was than fun! I’ll post a full review but in the meantime, here’s my initial reaction:

Ok so about those links…

Michael reviewed a book on a topic I’ve been fascinated by lately, The Cartel by Don Winslow

Keith reviewed my new comedy favorite What We Do in the Shadows. My own review should be up later this week!

Margaret and Mark posted more favorable reviews on Ant-Man

I always look forward to Abbi’s mini reviews on Film Friday for recommendations and what to avoid

One of my fave blog series is The Many Faces Of by Nostra, this month he shone the spotlight on mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis

Last but not least, if you haven’t already, check out Jordan’s Philip Seymour Hoffman Blogathon to celebrate the phenomenal work of the late thespian

There are still so many of PSH’s films I need to see, one of them is Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, reviewed by Cindy


Time for question of the week!

TIFF15

I was gonna make this a separate post but y’know what, I don’t want to wait another day so I’ll just hit two birds with one stone w/ my community blogging series. The TIFF 2015 full lineup has just been released today, so in case you haven’t read the list, you can hit up The Film Stage or Variety to see what films have been selected.

Wish I could return to TIFF again, it’s been ten years since I visited Toronto in 2005, which was quite an experience. Now, obviously if I were there I’d try to see as many films as I could, but say you only had seven films you could get tickets for, which ones would you see? Here are my seven picks:

Demolition

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Naomi Watts

An investment banker, struggling to understand his emotional disconnect after the tragic death of his wife, begins to tear apart his life in an effort to see where he went wrong and is ultimately rescued by a woman he meets in a chance encounter.

Jake G. can’t do no wrong these days and the premise sounds really intriguing. I’m always intrigued by a human drama type of stories, something that could happen in real life, even people around you. Apparently the screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

Eye in the Sky

Director: Gavin Hood
Cast:
Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi and Iain Glen

London-based military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists at their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The mission suddenly escalates from a capture to a kill operation, when Powell realizes that the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission.

Anything with Dame Mirren is automatically in my must-see list, and this sounds like a really juicy role for her! Plus Alan Rickman AND Iain Glen? I’m SO there. Nice to see Captain Philips‘ Barkhad Abdi is still getting jobs in Hollywood.

LEGEND

Director: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Tom Hardy, Taron Egerton, Emily Browning


The true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, brothers Reggie and Ron Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in an amazing double performance. LEGEND is a classic crime thriller that takes audiences into the secret history of the 1960s and the extraordinary events that secured the infamy of the Kray twin.

One Tom Hardy is good enough, but TWO? A dual role is always intriguing and if there’s one actor who can pull it off it’s Tom. Plus I like Taron from the Kingsman movie.

Victoria

Director: Sebastian Schipper
Cast: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski


A movie shot in a single take about Victoria, a runaway party girl, who’s asked by three friendly men to join them as they hit the town. Their wild night of partying turns into a bank robbery.

I actually just saw the trailer this weekend. Whoa, it looks like an intense and wild ride, I have no idea how they pulled off doing this in a single take!

Sicario

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro


In Spanish, Sicario means hitman. In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elite government task force official to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past, the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive.

Miss Blunt is another actress I’d watch in practically anything, and the drug war has been on the news so much lately which adds to the intrigue.

Spotlight

Director: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup.

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Ruffalo AND Keaton in a film together? That alone is a reason to see this despite the icky subject matter. Great supporting cast too, Stanley Tucci is solid in everything he’s in.

The Dressmaker

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Cast: Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook

A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

Sarah Snook!! I immediately want to see this because of her as she impressed me so much in Predestination. It’s been ages since I saw Winslet in anything, and the premise intrigues me. LOVE Hugo Weaving too, but the casting of Liam Hemsworth worries me though. Yes he’s hunky but the pretty boy simply can’t act.

Other notable TIFF screenings:

I’m anticipating Cary Fukunaga’ Beasts of No Nation too, which I’ve mentioned here, but since it will premiere on Netflix I’d rather watch it at home. Starring Idris Elba in the role of Commandant, a warlord who takes in a child soldier and instructs him in the ways of war.

Here’s the trailer:

I also have to mention Brooklyn which screened at Sundance earlier this year. It stars Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey, a young woman from Ireland sent across the sea to find a new life in the land of opportunity. My friend Iba saw it at Sundance and really liked it, check out her review.

 


So tell me, if you could only choose SEVEN films to see at TIFF this year, which films would you get?

Musings on Clueless – random observations on the iconic 90s movie 20 years later

CluelessPoster So apparently Clueless just hit its 20th anniversary this month, as suddenly there are a plethora of references on from the movie all over social media. In fact, my hubby was perplexed by some of them as he hadn’t seen it before. So we thought, why not watch the movie Friday night since it’s on Netflix streaming. To be honest, neither my hubby and I are into high school movies. I mean, of course I enjoyed John Hughes movies when I was actually still in high school, and occasionally there are good ones from the genre, like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek them out. I can’t remember when I saw Clueless, but it must’ve been at least a decade ago. My memory of it is a bit hazy so it felt like seeing the movie for the first time.

So what’s the verdict?

Well, for one thing he didn’t hate it. He said it actually didn’t make him cringe as he had feared, and overall it was enjoyable. I mean, for one thing the movie is hysterical! The movie obviously didn’t take itself seriously and made fun of the characters’ own preposterousness but yet it’s not mean-spirited that it’d leave a sour taste in your mouth. Cher’s driving test scene alone is a hoot… Cher-Driving-Test-Clueless …but her BFF is an even worse driver, which made for one of the funniest scenes in the movie! a95f5745222c63b9668c36e1cd2186fb When my hubby and I discussed it afterwards, we were wondering about, because neither of us went to high school in the US, was whether teenagers actually spoke like that back in the 90s as they seem to still have that same speaking style now. The constant use of the word ‘like’ is practically like ‘as if’ and ‘whatever’ in the film, and even those are probably not entirely absent from teens’ vocabularies now as the movie still resonates to this day.

A Cultural Touchstone

I read this Vanity Fair article on the oral history of Clueless. Apparently the movie was a surprise hit back in 1995. The movie opened at No. 1 the weekend of its release on July 19, and went on to earn $56 mil in the US/Canada (a figure that the movie data-tracking site Box Office Mojo equates to $105.7 million in contemporary, inflated dollars). Not bad considering the budget was only $12 – $13 million. The movie definitely was a ‘cultural touchstone’, as EW pointed out in this article pondering what it’d be like if the movie’d been made today. Surely the age of selfies, social media and celebrity worship of today isn’t all that different from 20 years ago, and maybe that’s why the movie still resonates to this day. There are lots of gems in this movie that understandably become part of pop culture to this day. Ok so I’m not fond of Cher’s outfits but clearly it was a hit for teens as they raid the local malls for plaid skirts and knee-high socks. I went to an all-girl Catholic school and those were our uniform so I’d never ever want to wear those combo nor would I consider those fashionable. asif But the movie is so darn quotable with tons of hilarious lingo that will forever be associated with this movie.

Clueless_Terms

Source: Vanity Fair

Talk about great casting!

I can’t imagine anyone else but Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz, though the VF article did mention they were thinking of Reese Witherspoon at some point. Alicia’s goofy facial expressions alone is a hoot to watch, she has one of those expressive faces that you can’t take your eyes off. It was a no-holds-barred performance that to this day it’s impossible to separate Alicia from her breakout character. Cher was an inherently ridiculous and obviously flawed character but there’s something so sincere and straightforward about her, that she didn’t care what people think. It’s quite refreshing and amusing, that you quickly stop judging her and just accept her for who she is. I guess it’s the same thing that happens to Cher herself in how she comes to terms with the people in her life. 

Cher_gum

The supporting cast was equally fun to watch, and they’re pretty racially diverse which is pretty progressive for the time. The fact that the non-white characters, are in the same social class as the white, blond, rich protagonist would be considered progressive even by today’s standards. Dionne (Stacey Dash) and her boyfriend Murray (Donald Faison) are both black, but both are equally as popular as Cher in school and there are also some Asian American girls in Cher’s social circle. It’s sad that Brittany Murphy is no longer with us, her portrayal of Tai is just as entertaining and iconic.

Tai_BrittanyMurphy

And of course there’s Paul Rudd as Cher’s stepbrother Josh. The VF article talked about how he almost didn’t get to play Josh as he took another role (Halloween movie) and had his head shaved. Thankfully it ended up being a long journey to cast that particular role and casting director Marcia Ross said ‘he never went out of consciousness.’

PaulRuddJosh

It’s funny too that the same month this movie turns 20 years old, the 46-year-old Paul Rudd is a bonafide superhero himself with Ant-Man, and he still hasn’t aged a day!! Need proof? Just take this Vulture quiz and see if you can guess how old he is from certain photos. If they made this movie today, Rudd could still totally play Josh!

Cher_Josh

Why the movie was sort of ahead of its time… and culturally-relevant to this day

As Jane Austen’s work still resonates even two hundred years later, it’s not surprising that writer/director Amy Heckerling was inspired by Emma, the novel she read as a teenager. The plot/characters/themes and values are all based on Austen’s novel, as Emma too was clueless about her own feelings and the business of match-making. But like the Austen heroine, deep down she’s a good person and her heart was in the right place. I love stories where the protagonist actually evolves throughout the course of the film. In her own cute and endearing way, Cher had some growing up lessons and disappointments just like the rest of us, she just had better more expensive clothes to go through them in. For how beautiful and privileged she is, Cher is surprisingly relatable. I mean who hasn’t fawned over a guy and make a complete fool of herself? cher_seducing_christian I thought it was interesting that they made Cher a virgin, which was rare then and still rare now amongst teens. The movie touched upon serious issues about chastity/abstinence but they didn’t make her someone who’s holier-than-thou kind of character. It’s just another thing that made Cher unique, so the issue wasn’t done in a preachy way. clueless-like-its-a-bad-thing clueless-cher-picky-about-shoes1 You’d think that this movie is all style and no substance, but that’s actually no the case. As this Grantland article points out, despite the fact that the protagonist and her friends are all rich, “…the movie’s messages are anti-capitalist: Money can’t buy you love, and caring about other people is cool.” Thanks partly to Josh, Cher realized her own ignorance and prejudices and genuinely made an effort to make a difference by volunteering and donating her stuff. She didn’t just think differently, but she actually took action and do something about it. And she does it all by still being herself, which in and of itself is quite inspiring. clueless_cher1 There’s also the genuinely heartfelt father/daughter relationship throughout the movie. Dan Hedaya is perfect as the workaholic dad who’s tough but yet loving. Heck, raising a girl like Cher as a single dad can’t be easy but somehow they made it through, and there’s a sweet moment towards the end that show they have a pretty good relationship. It’s also another proof that Cher isn’t a heartless creature as she actually takes care of her own dad. DanHedaya Buzzfeed calls Clueless the best movie of all times and they sure made a compelling argument with all those hilarious gifs. I wouldn’t go that far, but I wouldn’t argue its special place in our pop culture and that it’d probably be iconic even a decade from now. Glad I saw this again. Certainly a movie worth revisiting and if you haven’t seen this yet, well, give it a shot. You’d be surprised how much you’d enjoy it!


Have you seen Clueless? What do you think of this movie?

Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: Favorite directing duos & their film(s)

EverybodysChattin

Hello, hello! How’s everybody doing today? I’m still basking in the all the feels I got yesterday from THIS lovely tweet from my gorgeous cinematic sweetheart…

I spent a couple of days working on my tribute post for him but it’s so freakin’ cool that the man himself acknowledged it… it made all that effort so worthwhile, plus it was fun doing all those research on Stanley ;)

Ok so about those links…

Keith posted his thoughts on the Comic-con Batman Vs Superman trailer, I gotta say I agree w/ a lot of his points. The key word here is cautiously-optimistic.

On a related note, Margaret posted the brand spankin’ new trailer of Suicide Squad. Though I like the casting of Viola Davis and Margot Robbie, as of right now I can’t say I’m anticipating this one.

On the TV front, Brittani posted her thoughts of True Detective, Orange is the New Black and more

Abbi reviewed three films for his Film Friday series, one of which is Magic Mike XXL that I have absolutely zero interest on. I’d rather watch fully-clothed Stanley Weber reading a book for two hours than these vapid, gross men gyrating their bodies, blechhh!

The Signal is a sci-fi movie I’ve been curious about. Dell‘s review confirmed that I should give it a shot.

I LOVE when bloggers talk about their favorite composers, and Cindy highlighted the underrated Rachel Portman who made such gorgeous music, including my recent favorite, Belle.

Steven posted part 3 of his 150 Favorite Films from 2000-2015


Time for question of the week!

So this week’s question is inspired by the recent news that directing duo Chris Miller and Phil Lord will be helming the Han Solo movie, one of the many Star Wars spin-offs to come. I love The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street was fun, but it remains to be seen how Miller/Lord would fare directing an action sci-fi genre.

DirectingDuos

There are quite a few directing duos in Hollywood. Another duo (who happen to be siblings) Anthony & Joe Russo, have been doing well for Marvel/Disney with the success Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Of course, the most famous duo siblings are the Coens. Seems that Joel & Ethan Coen almost always work together, and hey, two brains are always better than one right?

Fans of foreign art house films would likely cite the Dardenne Brothers (Luc & Jean-Pierre) from Belgium as one of their faves. I’ve only seen The Kid With the Bike from the Dardennes, but I REALLY want to see Two Days, One Night with Marion Cotillard. On a different spectrum, we’ve got The Wachowskis (Lana & Andy) and The Farrellys (Bobby & Peter).


So tell me, who are your favorite directing duos… and which of their films do you like best?

Five for the Fifth: JULY 2015 Edition

FiveForFifth_July4th2015

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary 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. Well, since this is Fourth of July weekend, a lot of my fellow Americans are celebrating all kinds of festivities, be that a 4th of July parade, barbecue, or fireworks at the park.

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But for some of us, it likely include getting together with friends and watch old favorites that celebrate the holiday, i.e The Patriot, Top Gun, Saving Private Ryan, Captain America or um, Team America: World Police? America F-yeah! :D But there are a bazillion of patriotic movies out there, and it doesn’t have to be all about the good ‘ol USA.

So what’s your favorite patriotic movie, be it US-related or about your home country?….

2. Now, I’ve sort of been holding off on blogging about Batman vs. Superman but with the release of a few new photos courtesy of EW, I can’t help being mildly intrigued.

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Are they flirting or plotting against Superman??

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“I am Batman!” [Supes is like, yeah dude, I know who the heck you are]

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Lex Luthor has surfer hair? What’s wrong with THIS picture?

I’m liking Gal Gadot more and more as Wonder Woman, in fact I think I’m most excited to see her than her fellow male superheroes. Ok yesterday I came across this whilst browsing the net. Den of Geek reported the origin story that led to Dawn of Justice movie happening sooner than perhaps even the filmmakers themselves anticipated:

It was while making his Superman reboot, Man Of Steel, that Snyder approached the producers of the film, Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer, with a suggestion. “I said ‘what about at the end of the movie we do a scene where there’s a crate full of Kryptonite delivered to Wayne Manor?”

The response? “Everyone was like… ‘okaay’. Once you say it out loud, it’s a problem, because you can’t unsay it.”

Now, I’m still not super excited yet for this film… but I have to admit I’m more on board with this than I was say, a year ago. Surely it can’t be worse than Man of Steel?

What are your thoughts about Dawn of Justice and/or these new pics?

….

3. Lots of new trailers hit the past week, here are three that caught my eye.

First one is this upcoming *epic* drama based on a true story, directed by Werner HerzogQueen of the Desert starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis and Robert Pattinson

A true story of the life of British explorer and adventurer, Gertrude Bell, QUEEN OF THE DESERT chronicles her journeys of love and loss in the Middle East during the early 20th century.

I have to say I’m mildly intrigued by this given Herzog’s directing, though I have reservation regarding the melodramatic tone of the film, not to mention the trailer itself is so darn sappy. It seems like it’s striving to be Lawrence of Arabia and though I like the fact that it’s from the female perspective, I’m tired of seeing Nicole Kidman in something resembling Australia. And what’s with James Franco?? He seems miscast right off the bat, I just don’t see him in a romantic role like this. Plus that music towards the end uses familiar music from Hans Zimmer’s The Thin Red Line. I swear that music’s been used by a bazillion other trailers and though it’s beautiful, the effect just isn’t as impactful anymore.

Then we have a remake of an Argentinian drama, Secret in Their Eyes. We have quite a cast here: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman [again].

A tight-knit team of FBI investigators, along with their District Attorney supervisor, is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered.

I still haven’t seen the 2009 Argentine film El secreto de sus ojos so I immediately watched the trailer of that one. Well I might give the original film a watch, it looks more mysterious and given that it doesn’t have the star power of the Hollywood version, I bet it’s a better film overall.

 

Now, last but not least, we’ve got Creed which is a spin-off of the Rocky films, and Sylvester Stallone is a cast member and also one of the producers.

The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Creed, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Michael B. Jordan‘s a talented up-and-comer who’s been getting lots of prominent roles lately. He looks good here and though I’m not really into boxing movies, I did like the first Rocky film and so I might watch this one. Scottish actor Graham McTavish (The Hobbit, Starz’s Outlander) is in this also.

What’s your initial thoughts of these three movies?

4. Another first look on a movie I’ve been curious about ever since it’s announced six years ago: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At the time, Natalie Portman was going to play Elizabeth Bennet, and now we’ve got Cinderella‘s Lily James in the lead role. She’s quoted as saying: “She’s the most badass zombie slayer there is.” Okay then, bring it on!

Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge — an army of undead zombies.

I know that Jane Austen purists probably aren’t keen on this twisted idea from Seth Grahame-Smith who penned the novel of the same name. But as a fan of period dramas, I get a kick out of classic re-imagining, and this idea is so bizarre it could actually be a lot of fun. Then again, I was one of those people who enjoyed the heck out of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was also borne out of Grahame-Smith’s novel. Check out the pics also from EW:

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This blissful image of a wedding at Darcy’s Pemberley is about to get bloody interesting

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Uh-oh… a lady isn’t supposed to devour a man in THIS way

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Jane & Lizzie equipped themselves for the zombie battle

I like the cast of this movie: Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, Douglas Booth as Mr Bingley and best of all, Jack Huston as the devilish cad Mr. Wickham. I’m not familiar at all with the director Burr Steers however, so hopefully he has the chops to pull off this crazy concept.

So what do you think of this classic-reimagining idea for a movie?

5. This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Katy from Girl Meets Cinema:

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I was thinking about Terminator Genisys reboot, it’s alternative timeline to bring back the original characters and how the story confused movie goers/critics. So my question would be:

Do you think reboots have to center around the original characters or OR can a franchise continue on successfully with brand new characters?


Well, that’s it for the July 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: Supporting cast you wish got the leading role

EverybodysChattin_Movies

I can hardly believe half of the year’s already come and gone! It’s been a rather odd month for me, but in terms of movie watching, it’s rather uneventful. I sure hope the later part of 2015 have better films in store for us… and looking at Katy’s list of highly-anticipated movies for the rest of 2015, I think the chance of that is VERY promising! I’d add Southpaw to the list, which I’ll be seeing on the third week of July, and The Man from UNCLE which looks like fun!

Ok so about those links…

Since I’m currently embarking on my first screenplay project, this post on opening sentences in fiction from my pal Cindy, who happens to be a novelist herself, is definitely an inspiring read

I won’t have a Music Break post this week, so take a listen to Josh‘s pick of Movie Song of the Week

Khalid reviewed Terry Gilliam’s comedy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Andrew is back with his Oscar series 4 Ways a Best Picture, and the year is 2009

Jay just reviewed a film I still haven’t got around to but will have to soon, Calvary

Though Summer’s just starting here in the States, Michael‘s veering into cold, dark horror territory with his book-film duo post on The Shining

And last but not least, Eddie‘s talking about Orphan Black season 3, a series I’ve been curious about for some time.


Time for question of the week!

So this week’s question is inspired by my recent viewing of Self/less. My review of it is done in my draft folder, but there’s one thing that’s stuck with me whilst I was watching it. In fact, I kept thinking about it as I was writing my review. Why isn’t a perfectly talented actor like Matthew Goode leading this movie? Now I’m not saying the movie would’ve automatically been stellar as no matter how good an actor can’t overcome a bad script, but at least Goode would’ve been more enjoyable to watch for two hours than Ryan Reynolds!

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I had the same feeling when I watched Tristan + Isolde a few years ago. I kept wondering why they cast James Franco being all sullen and morose as Tristan whilst the much hunkier Henry Cavill was stuck playing third banana. Now I’m not saying Franco is a terrible actor, I just think Cavill would’ve suited the role better. Heck, even Rufus Sewell who’s another supporting actor in the film left a more lasting impression to me than Franco did. I even dedicated a post here.

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The New World is another one that came to mind as I think Christian Bale would’ve been great in the lead role instead of Colin Farrell. The last 20 minutes of the film with Bale is the highlight of the film for me and I actually bought the DVD because of it.

Interesting that both Cavill and Bale have ended up becoming Superman and Batman, respectively, I didn’t purposely select them because of it, but clearly both have leading-man qualities.

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I’m sure there are others but let’s just start there. I bet you’ve also felt the same when you watch certain films.


So tell me, which films have you seen where you wish one of the supporting cast got the lead role?

Five Favorite Movie Quotes from Inspiring Female Characters

FiveFaveFemaleQuotes

I’m taking a bit of a blogging break and throughout the Summer I’m actually going to blog a bit less as I’m working on my novel/script [still deciding which format it’ll end up to be], plus I just need a break from review writing.

But as I mull over the topic presented by guest blogger Izzy on this post about Gender & Hollywood Screenwriting, it made me feel compelled to write a reaction post of sort. Izzy’s post made me ponder of some of my favorite movie quotes uttered by female characters. As Izzy pointed out, there are far fewer of memorable movie lines by female characters than the male counterparts, even fewer when it’s not romance related or about wanting something from the male co-star of the film. For example, take these two quotes from one of Hollywood’s biggest leading ladies, Julia Roberts:

“I want the fairy tale.” – Vivian, Pretty Woman

“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” – Anna Scott, Notting Hill

For me, some of the truly memorable quotes are those that represent the strength of the character, those that display their feisty-ness, survival prowess or willful defiant against what society dictate them to be.

Well, after raking my brains, here are five quotes I love from some of my favorite female characters of all time:

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All About Eve – It was based on the 1946 short story The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr, although screen credit was not given for it (per Wiki)

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Gone With the Wind – 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name.

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Now, this one I had to put the scene before it to put it in context. Eowyn is perhaps one of the most well-rounded supporting female characters in blockbuster films. It’s no doubt one of the highlights of the final Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King:

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FannyQuote

Both Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park were based on Jane Austen’s famous novels, which always feature strong female protagonists. I LOVE how both Elinor and Fanny are not defined by romance nor the men in their lives. Though they are in love with men who seem to be unattainable due to the societal norm of the day, they stick to their principles even if they have to emotionally suffer from it.

It’s no surprise that four of the films above are based on narrative stories written by women. And nobody could argue that there’s a shortage of female screenwriters [or female anything for that matter] in Hollywood. It’s a pity because just in the past few years, the movies that made a big impression on me happen to be written and/or directed by women, i.e. In A World, Belle, Beyond the Lights, Brave, Gone Girl, Girlhood (Bande de Filles), not to mention these three French films I saw recently that are women-centric: Thérèse Desqueyroux, Violette and Pour Une Femme (For A Woman). I like them because the protagonists break the female archetypes of women being defined by men, but show women as being the complicated, flawed and conflicted beings that we are.

As my friend Cindy wrote in her comment in Izzy’s Post, women are as complicated as men and their characters should represent that. Let’s hope we’ll see more women being active parts of Hollywood filmmaking process, both in front and behind the camera.

 


So what are some of YOUR favorite movie quotes by female characters?

Guest Post: Gender and Hollywood Scriptwriting – “Houston, we have a problem”

Happy Thursday everyone! Today we’ve got a special guest post from Yorkshire. Izzy is writing about a topic that’s dear to my heart and an important discussion point.

So without further ado, let’s dive into Izzy’s post…

GenderAndHollywoodScriptwriting

How many times in a day do you quote the lines of a TV program or movie? Personally I wouldn’t be able to count the number as my days are littered with “Houston, we have a problem” (Apollo 13, 1995) and “I’ll be back.”  (The Terminator, 1984) sometimes I don’t even realise I’m doing it and I bet you’re the same!

So, when this quiz landed in my inbox:  I thought nothing of it other than ‘I love quotes! I’ll be good at this!’ (As it turns out I didn’t score as well as I’d hoped but that’s irrelevant for now.)

It wasn’t until I was thinking about the quiz a few hours later that I put my literature degree head on (I only recently graduated) and began to analyse the quiz how I had been taught by lecturers, in a way that delves deeper than face-value.

What did I discover?

Well, after some further Googling I compiled this:

MovieMemorableLines

The most obvious revelation is that male characters are written more memorable lines.

My second discovery was that a high proportion (but by no means all) of the famous lines spoken by male characters are fueled with aggression, whereas five out of the seven most memorable female lines are projected through love of either a man or family life. 

The questions is, ‘Why?’

In 2014 only 15% of Hollywood film script writers were female (with numbers fluctuating around that figure, if not lower, for decades). Again in 2014, females made up only ‘12% of protagonists featured in the top 100 grossing films.’ Again, this percentage seems to have always been the norm.

Those stats can help to explain my findings.

• If 80-90% of Hollywood film script writers are male then it is understandable that they will write male-centric stories with male protagonists.

• If 80-90% of protagonists are male then they are likely to have the most lines in a movie, therefore increasing their chances of having a memorable one.

• We can also assume that 80-90% of characters in Hollywood have had their lines written by a man. This may explain why famous female lines are written with the intention of underlining their affectionate personality- because women are stereotypically affectionate and as a male writer it is easier to write stereotypes than it is to dedicate time to researching the female psyche.

My last thought is a little more obscure and far more open to debate.

HeresJohnnyJack Nicholson came up with ‘Here’s Johnny’ (The Shining) on the spot, as did Robert De Niro with his famous line “You talkin’ to me?” (Taxi Driver). This opens the debate of if male actors embody their characters with more vigour and intensity than their female counterparts. Do they ‘feel’ their characters on a more personal level? Do they have a closer relationships with the people they are playing? Or, as only 2 out of the 18 male lines equals to 11% and 11% of the 7 female lines is 0.77, maybe an incredible, unscripted female line is yet to come…..

This article by Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Labrecque [in regards to Maggie Gyllenhaal being deemed too old to play the love-interest of a 55-year-old man – ed] highlights that male ‘tastes,’ i.e. a preference to date significantly younger women, is embodied across the cinematic world in terms of casting. It can then only be assumed that male scriptwriters also write female character’s lines in relation to their ‘taste’, as well as based on assumptions as mentioned earlier.

NannyMcPhee

I have great respect for the likes of Emma Thompson who write screenplays such as Nanny McPhee presumably so that she has the opportunity to play a leading Hollywood role regardless of her age, and most definitely without a male screenwriter’s sexual agenda. I cannot wait to see more of the same and experience Hollywood productions written by women for female actors of ‘a certain age’ or otherwise. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, writers of Saving Mr Banks, wrote their P.L. Travers beautifully- highlighting their female characters’ insecurities as well as defiance, likeability as well as unpleasantness. It is safe to say that they wrote a well-rounded and very human character, and the sooner this sort of female characterisation becomes the Hollywood norm the better.

Sources:

 


IzzyS


Izzy S. is a drama graduate with an interest
in literature and screenwriting

Check out Izzy’s blog
Follow her on Twitter


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