41 favorite cinematic things to celebrate my b’day

So today’s my birthday. I’ve been blessed to have been alive for 41 years! I have no qualms about admitting how old I am, heck you’re only as *old* as you feel and I feel forever 21 ;)

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I was wondering what post to do for my b’day. I did a list of Favorite Films from Each Decade I Live Through last year and y’know what, I still love a bunch of stuff on that list. Just like many things in life, over the years you may feel differently about certain things and the same with cinema. You may grow to love something you weren’t into, or the other way around. So today, I want to highlight the enduring cinematic things that I still love to this day (and probably forever) … as well as new faves I discovered recently ;)

1. The oh-so-heartbreaking unrequited love in The Age of Innocence

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2. Timothy Dalton as James Bond

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3. Nora Ephron’s rom-coms… esp. Sleepless in Seattle & You’ve Got Mail

4. Spellbound… for introducing me to the impossibly beautiful Gregory Peck
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5. Casino Royale & Eva Green as Vesper

6. Period dramas based on the works of my literary heroines: Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell (North & South) & Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)

7. Emma Thompson’s brilliant screenplay for Sense & SensibilityElinorQuote

8.  Roman Holiday (1959)

9. Gladiator (2000)

10. Sam Riley as leather-wearing, Samurai-wielding, bad-ass Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)

11. Tango scenes in movies

12. Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon (Sense & Sensibility)

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13. Superman: The Movie… Christopher Reeve shall always be MY Superman

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14. John Williams’ Jurassic Park‘s score

15. The Gods Must Be Crazy… movie from my childhood that still makes me laugh

16. Phantom of the Opera (2004)

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17.The beautiful period drama Belle… and its star Gugu Mbatha-Raw 

18. Harrison Ford & Sean Connery pairing in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade

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19. Julia Ormond’s Sabrina

20. Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester (BBC’s Jane Eyre 2006)

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21. The immensely under-appreciated Return to Me (2000)

22. Casablanca (1942)… a classic epic I’m glad I got to see on the big screen

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23. Fiona in Four Weddings and a Funeral

24. One of the first Hollywood films I ever saw… Gone with the Wind (1939)

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25. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) … guaranteed to make me laugh for years to come

26. The exquisite scenery of Not Another Happy Ending… Glasgow AND Stanley Weber

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27. Great journalism movies… i.e. All the President’s Men

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28. The Bourne Trilogy

29. John Barry’s music for Somewhere in Time

30. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959)

31. Heath Ledger & Christian Bale in The Dark Knight

32. Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton (BBC’s North & South 2004)

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33. The musical scenes of The Sound of Music (1965)


34. Awesome movie car chases

35. Idris Elba (’nuff said)

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36. These 10 James Bond’s songs 

37. Hand-touching in period dramas


38. Disney Princesses Movies, especially Sleeping Beauty

39. Evocative rain scenes in movies i.e. this one from the sci-fi drama Franklyn (2008) w/ Sam Riley and Eva Green

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40. Paris in the movies

41. Last but not least… movies about writers, i.e. Sam Riley as Sal Paradise in On The Road

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Hope you enjoy walking down memory lane w/ me on my b’day. 

Five for the Fifth: FEBRUARY 2016 Edition

FiveForFifthVday

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.

TheChoice1. Well, it’s February and V-day is next weekend. It seems that there are always a slew of romance-themed films coming out in February — and it’s the month that’s undoubtedly cornered by Nicholas Sparks. He’s got yet another one of his romance drivel drama out called The Choice, and it made me realize that I’ve only seen ONE film based on his books, The Notebook and since then I have no desire to see another project of his again.

Heck I’d rather watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ten times over before I rent, oh I dunno, Dear John? [Interestingly enough, the actor who’s in the choice was in Seth Grahame-Smith’s crazy mashup Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, ahah] But hey, obviously Sparks must’ve strike a chord with people otherwise his movies won’t continually get made.

So out of curiosity, do you like Nicholas Sparks’ movies? 
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2. Speaking of February, glad there are definitely alternatives to romantic films. Yes I know many of you are excited for Deadpool [which I had just watched last night], but another movie out later this month that’s somehow escaped me is Triple 9. My goodness, how in the world have I not blogged about this movie before? This is a movie I’d watch just for the cast! Casey Affleck, Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot, Clifton Collins Jr. and Aaron Paul. Check out the character posters below:

A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.

Check out the trailer:


Now granted I haven’t seen any of director John Hillcoat‘s films yet (The Proposition, Lawless, The Road) which all sound so dark and bleak, but I’m looking forward to seeing this one. I always love a good heist movie!

Will you be watching Triple 9? 

3. Apparently February 4 is PIXAR’s 30th Birthday!


Since 1986, Pixar has made so many great animated classics, most have stand the test of time. There are 16 total Pixar films so far, three of them are sequels (per Wiki). With the exception of Cars, Cars 2 and the latest one, The Good Dinosaur, I have seen ALL of Pixar movies and pretty much love them all in varying degrees. Though I’ve been watching Pixar films for a couple of decades, it’s cool that some people have just discovered them. Jordan just posted his review of Inside Out which he loved, and he’s never seen a Pixar movie since he was a kid.

Now, would you name three of your absolute favorite Pixar movies? 
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4. I’m so bummed that I missed Hail, Caesar! press screening last Tuesday thanks to the darn snow storm. Now, I’m not one of those people who anticipate the Coens’ movie every time it comes out, but I couldn’t wait to see this one so we’ll definitely go see it on Friday night.

I was reading an interview with the Coens on Variety and one of the questions was the frequent collaborations with the same people. Ethan said they’ve done four films with George Clooney and three with Josh Brolin, and probably a dozen with Joel’s wife Frances McDormand.

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The Coens on set w/ Josh Brolin & George Clooney

Here’s Ethan’s answer as to why they tend to work with the same actors:

It’s a combination of things. Personally liking them figures into it. You got to not only work with them, but also have lunch; you’re spending time with them. When they are good at what they do, you want to spend more time with them. It’s self-perpetuating. But frankly, it’s also a bit of a crutch. If you know them well, you think: “What would be interesting for them to play?”

I personally don’t mind the frequent collaborations of the Coens and some of his actors. Some other fruitful director/actor collaborations I like are Christopher Nolan + Michael Caine/Christian Bale, Wes Anderson + Bill Murray and Ridley Scott + Russell Crowe, just to name a few. But even after three films, I’m already sick of seeing David O. Russell movies with Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence combo [shrug]

What director/actor collaborations you think you’d never grow tired of?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Tiffany from Presents from the Past blog! It’s a site dedicated to modern reimaginings of the fashion and beauty of period dramas, so naturally her question revolves around costume design.

Some of her favorite costumes are from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the TV movies Lady Chatterly’s Lover and The Go Between. Click each thumbnail to see a larger image:


For me personally, since I’m also a big fan of period dramas, I LOVE Carey Mulligan’s clothes in Far from the Madding Crowd, especially this one:

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So which 2015 film(s) you think have the best costumes?


Well, that’s it for February 2016 edition of Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Five for the Fifth: JANUARY 2016 Edition

FiveForFifth2015

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 it’s the first Five of the Fifth of 2016, I’ll just start with something easy as I reckon it’s still fresh in your mind.

For me, the last one I saw last year was The Force Awakens and the first one of the year was this masterfully-crafted German noir drama Phoenix that I saw on Netflix. I still can’t get it out of my head how beautiful and mesmerizing it was, I can’t recommend it enough folks!

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A disfigured concentration-camp survivor (Nina Hoss), unrecognizable after facial reconstruction surgery, searches ravaged postwar Berlin for the husband (Ronald Zehrfeld) who might have betrayed her to the Nazis.

What’s the last film you saw in 2015 and the first film you saw in 2016? 
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2. Now that I’ve posted my Top 10 films of 2015, it made me think about films that early in the year I thought would likely make my list. Of course we have our list of most-anticipated movies, and we set our expectations high on them. But then as the year wind down, those films barely even crack your top 20!

MacbethStill3For me that film was Macbeth which I thought I’d love given that I usually enjoy Shakespeare. But I find it too tedious and didn’t have the emotional oomph I was looking for. As a friend said to me after the screening, ‘beautiful but boring.’ Oh and Spectre, given that Skyfall was in my top 10 of 2012 the fact that it doesn’t even merit an Honorable Mentions is disappointing.

On the flip side, there are films that critics absolutely loathe than I actually didn’t think was all THAT bad. Case in point: Agent 47. I actually had a good time watching that and liked it more than the first remake from a few years ago.

So, what’s the biggest film surprise of 2015, either good or bad?

3. Five days into the new year, I’m already setting my sights on 2016 films! Despite being dismayed time and time again by my own expectations, I still can’t help anticipating upcoming movies!

Well, it should be no surprise to anyone that the Star Wars fever is as high as ever, just like many things in life, everything old is new again ;) According to Fandango survey, apparently Star Wars: Rogue One, a spin-off of the saga already tops the list of most anticipated movies of 2016! (per Variety)

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I’m surprised that Dawn of Justice is more anticipated than Captain America Civil War [huh?]  As for ‘Most Anticipated Comic Book Character Debuting in a Major Role,’ at the top of the list is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and I’m on board with that. I think she’ll be good in the role, but she probably won’t get to do much until her standalone film in 2017.

I’ll be making a list of movies I’m anticipating later this year, but the films I look forward the most in 2016 is pretty much anything my crush Stanley Weber is in [natch!], I don’t care if he’s sporting a dorky haircut as a Cistercian priest!Pilgrimage_still

Stanley’s supposedly got a few films out that’s due out later this year but the most likely one I’ll be seeing first is Pilgrimage with Richard Armitage, Jon Bernthal (who’s playing the Punisher in Daredevil) and Tom Holland (aka the new Spider-man).

Let’s put the big-budget ones aside for a moment, what’s an indie film you look forward to the most this year?
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4. Ok now we’d have to wait two years to see this one but I was excited about it when I read this during my vacation in late December. Even though I wasn’t totally blown away by Interstellar, but Christopher Nolan is still one of my fave directors so naturally I’m still curious what he’ll tackle next.

Apparently French newspapers first reported the news upon learning that Nolan and his brother, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, had been scouting location in Dunkirk. Per Variety, Nolan will direct Dunkirk from his own original screenplay as his next project. Nolan will also produce the film with his longtime producing partner and wife, Emma Thomas.

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The story is set during the legendary evacuation of the northern French city during WWII. Nolan and his casting department recently began testing teenagers in London for lead roles, but the director also wanted to nail down some choices for the few adult roles in the film before the holiday.

Now, the adult roles casting certainly piqued my interest greatly. Three of them are on my MVP list of 2015, with Kenneth Branagh as director of Cinderella. Anything with Tom Hardy is fantabulous in my book, this will mark the third time he’ll be working with Nolan after Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. Mark Rylance is phenomenal in Bridge of Spies. He’s a versatile actor who I think will elevate everything he’s in. I’d love to see a strong female performer (or two) among the cast as well, hopefully the script isn’t just strictly ‘boys only’ story.

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Warner Bros. has dated the film for July 21, 2017. It’s certainly a project I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Thoughts about this project and its casting?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is my pal Ted S. It’s a two-part question, so here goes.

What are your favorite TV shows that don’t have re-watchable appeal? For example, I love The Walking Dead, Justified, Breaking Bad and The Americans but I have no desire to watch the episodes I already saw.

On the flip side, I can re-watch many of my favorite films. So for the second part question, what are your favorite films that you can watch over and over again?


Well, that’s it for first 2016 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

Christmas in New York – pics from my NYC trip

Hello everyone! Greetings from New England! Hope y’all had a lovely Christmas w/ your family and friends. I had been in NYC for most of last week, we stayed at a loft on 34th street, but no there’s no Miracle on 34th Street ;) , though we felt very blessed to have spent a festive and safe Christmas in the Big Apple with no major incidents.

We’re now in New Hampshire where my in-laws resides, but I thought I’d share some pics from our Christmas in New York. Most of these are my Instagram pics, with a couple shots taken by my hubby.

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As for movies, well I haven’t seen anything since The Force Awakens before we left, not sure if we’ll fit in movie viewing before the year’s done. In any case, I’ve got my Top 10 of the Year post ready to go for Dec 31, so stay tuned! :D


So did you see anything on Christmas Day folks? Well, hopefully it was a good one!

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Five for the Fifth: DECEMBER 2015 Edition

FiveForFifth2015

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. Can’t believe the end of the year is upon us folks! As we anticipate December movies, I can’t help but setting my sights into movies opening in the Spring. Well, it looks to be a battle of Marvel vs DC, in which the two movies will consist of their own heroes fighting each other, ahah. Batman vs Superman aka Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War are initially going to open on the same day, before Zack Snyder moved the release date of Dawn of Justice to March 25.

So here are the two recently-released trailers:

Heh, they pretty much given up the entire movie in the trailer! And despite all the hoopla of Batman fighting Superman, they practically downplayed the most intriguing aspect of the movie to introduce the huge monster Doomsday as the main villain. That’s just idiotic, why not build up more of the tension between the two behemoth heroes? I thought the 50-second teaser was far more interesting and ominous (see below), but the tone of the trailer is too playful it’s almost comedic which is just so messed up.

The only cool part of trailer 2 is seeing Wonder Woman in that last still shot, but man Jesse Eisenberg wins Most Annoying Villain ever as Lex Luthor.

On the other hand, I’m even more pumped to see the battle that goes down between Captain America and Iron Man!

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The Captain America franchise has become my favorite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the story arc is definitely the most interesting. I LOVE seeing Bucky in the trailer back on Capt’s side again. The reason why Capt. and Tony Stark are fighting each other make total sense and it’ll be a bad ass and emotional battle for both parties.

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Nice seeing Black Panther here and his ambiguous allegiance makes his character all the more intriguing. May 6th can’t come soon enough!!

So what’s your thoughts on each of these trailers?
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2. Switching gears to one of the most anticipated TV series returning next year. Both are supposed to be premiering in SPRING!!

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One is Netflix’s DAREDEVIL… the teaser is over a month old but it’s still cool to see it again. Between Elektra and Punisher, Matt Murdoch’s got his work cut out for him! BRING. IT. ON.

As for the other series, well most of you who know me well should know by now how much I’ve been anticipating Outlander season 2, given how huge my crush is on hunky Frenchman Stanley Weber ;)

So yeah, one of the biggest reasons I look forward for season 2 is Comte St Germain. But I mean seriously, can you blame me? He still looks so damn hot in powdered wig, but I sure hope the producers know how to make the most of his talents. He’s largely unknown in the States but based on what I’ve seen him in so far, he’s SO much more than a pretty face and be both charming AND menacing at the same time. Can’t wait to see that staredown scene between Le Comte and Claire.

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What’s YOUR most anticipated returning TV series?

3. In the next few weeks I hope to do a Top 10 MVP of both male and female performers of 2015 (in a separate list). I might wait until January though so I can see as many new releases as possible. But I have a pretty good idea who would surely make my list based on what I’ve seen so far, these two would certainly make my top 10:

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Thank you George Miller for making Mad Max: Fury Road a female-driven film and infused it with the most breathtaking, fun and emotional cinematic ride I’ve seen on the big screen all year. Charlize Theron is so freakin’ bad ass as Furiosa that it’s definitely one of the most memorable female performances of 2015.

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Ahhhh Tom Hardy… the scene stealer in practically everything he’s in gets to show his chops playing TWO characters as the Kray Brothers in LEGEND. He’s really the only reason to see the film. Absolutely mesmerizing despite the so-so script, and practically Bond-like as Reggie Kray. Please Broccolis, you’ve GOT to offer him 007 post Daniel Craig!

So if you could just name one male & female MVP of the year, who would they be?
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4. Now, this question might be an easy or a tricky one. But I hope this topic will spark some discussions amongst you movie lovers.

Do you think 2015 has been a good year for movies? Please let me know your rationale regardless which is your answer.

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Keith from Keith and Movies Blog!

The question relates perfectly to the one above, as each of us certainly bring different expectations to certain films. I think for me, given how I feel about the recent Bond movies, I’d think Spectre is one of my biggest disappointments of the year.

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With the movie year winding down, what was your biggest movie disappointment of the past year?


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

Five for the Fifth: Special James Bond Edition

FiveForFifth_Bond

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.

Well, since SPECTRE is released this weekend here in the US, I’m dedicating this month’s edition to be ALL THINGS James Bond!

007chatter1. As I grew up watching Bond movies, I have a special fondness for the franchise. Even though I haven’t always loved all the movies, I always look forward to seeing a new one whenever it comes along. If you’ve read my blog long enough, surely you’ve noticed that this is a pretty frequent topic here, I even have a special category for it… 007 Chatter.

My twin brothers and I would watch Bond movies on VHS (yes I’m that old) over and over, and we’d always watch ’em when they’re on TV.  I actually don’t remember which Bond film I saw for the very first time, I just know it was a Roger Moore film.  Now, he’s not my favorite Bond (some loyal readers know it’s THIS guy), but I always have a fondness for some of his movies, especially For Your Eyes Only.

So tell me, how did you first discover the Bond franchise?

2. One of the things I LOVE about the franchise is that it’s pure escapist entertainment. Yes, we’ve got the guns, gadgets and girls, but for me, it’s location, location, location. You can always count on Bond movies to be shot on location in the most exotic places in the world.

There are SO many places in Bond movies I’d love to visit, but you’d have to be a billionaire to have THAT kind of bucket list. So I were to pick only six Bond locations to travel to in my lifetime, I’d choose these from each of the six Bond actor’s film:

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So what’s your favorite Bond film setting?

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3.  As the saying goes, “a hero is only as good as their villain”. It’s true for most great stories, but it’s extremely crucial when it comes to the Bond franchise. The worst Bond movies is often as a result of a weak villain, whether it’s in the writing or in the casting, but I think the latter plays an even crucial role.

The topic of Bond villains have been covered several times here. We’ve talked about the best and worst villains, as well as who I’d like to see as a Bond villain a while back. In regards to that last one, I still stand by these choices as none of them have ever been cast yet (what a shame!)

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L-R: Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen and Timothy Dalton

Oh man, it’d be a dream to see Timothy Dalton be cast as the next Bond villain. I mean he’s contracted to do three Bond films before the MGM legal woes basically caused Dalton to walk out, so casting him as a Bond villain would just be the perfect *atonement.* If you’ve seen him in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, you’ll see he’s still got the chops, not to mention he still looks pretty damn good in his 70s! If only Penny Dreadful‘s creator John Logan, who’s also one of the writers of Skyfall and Spectre would agree with me, he could pitch that to the Broccolis! :)

Which actors/actresses are on your wish list as a Bond villain?


4.
I’m not going to talk about who should replace Daniel Craig as Bond at this point. There’s just been way too much talk on that topic and Craig is supposedly under contract for at least another Bond movie anyway. I already talked about who I think would be great to play 007, but what I haven’t ever really discussed is Craig himself… apart from his role as Bond.

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I’ve only seen Craig in a handful of non-Bond roles, the first one being Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Yep, he was Lara’s um, boy toy before Gerard Butler got the *honor* in the sequel. I haven’t seen any of the Dragon Tattoo movies nor Layer Cake, but I did see him in supporting roles in The Road to Perdition and Munich. That’s about it. So I really don’t know how good an actor he is apart from the Bond films, which doesn’t exactly show his range.

I’m curious, what’s your favorite Daniel Craig role apart from 007? 

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5. 
This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is a longtime friend and fellow Bond fan Dan from Top 10 Films site! Dan’s posted a myriad of Bond-related top 10s, including top 10 Bond gadgets from contributor Rodney aka Fernby Films, so it’s no surprise that his question would be gadget-related. Check out this awesome infographic on this very topic!

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So what’s your favorite James Bond gadgets? Is there a memorable moment(s) when Bond uses one of his gadgets to get out of a sticky situation?


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

Five for the Fifth: OCTOBER 2015 Edition

FiveForFifthAutumn2015

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. I feel like I just did my Five for the Fifth not too long ago, September practically ran away from me. But Autumn is my all time favorite season. Not only is the crisp, cool weather is just perfect and refreshing, I also love Fall fashion and the fact that there’s TCFF to anticipate in October as well as a slew of great Fall films to look forward to.

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It made me think of films set in Autumn. Right off the bat I think of When Harry Met Sally, but films like Dead Poets Society, St Elmos Fire, Class, The Village, and another one starring Meg Ryan You’ve Got Mail all have scenes involving gorgeous foliage that put me in an Autumn mood.

So what’s your favorite movie(s) set in the Autumn season?

2. I haven’t done a spotlight on an actor in my FFTF in a while but since yesterday is Liev Schreiber‘s birthday, I thought I’d highlight this underrated but talented actor. I actually haven’t seen too many of his work, to be honest, but of the ones I have seen, I enjoyed his performance, i.e. The Manchurian CandidateThe Painted Veil, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and The Butler. I even saw his directorial debut Everything is Illuminated at TIFF in 2005, which I thought was very good.

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When I checked on his Wiki page, I was surprised to learn he has won a Tony in 2005 for his performance in the play Glengarry Glen Ross. Right now he’s juggling film roles as well as his Showtime series Ray Donovan. Wow, talk about a versatile talent who can wear many hats. He apparently can speak Russian, too, as he’s playing Russian chess grandmaster Boris Spassky in the upcoming film Pawn Sacrifice. Check out this clip:

What’s your thoughts on Liev Schreiber? Which of his performance(s) is your favorite?

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3. I gotta include some new trailers and I thought I’d highlight two very different films just to keep things interesting. First off, we’ve got the latest one from SPECTRE that finally puts Daniel Craig face to face and bantering with Christoph Waltz.

Well I wasn’t enthused with the new Bond theme song Writing on the Wall which sounds more like writhing against the wall from the excruciating pain of having to listen to Sam Smith’s whiny voice. But I sure hope that the film will be much better!

Now, the second trailer that caught my eye recently is A Bigger Splash that has a rather intriguing premise: The vacation of a famous rock star and a filmmaker is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter. It also has quite a cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson.

It looks like a lot of fun but things are likely about to turn real ugly real fast. But hey, Fiennes looks like he’s relishing in his comedic side again.

So what are your thoughts on either one of these films?


4.
I was going to do a separate post on this and I still might do that later in the year. Having just seen ROOM last night and was very impressed by Brie Larson‘s performance, it made me think of other strong female performances of the year so far.

On the top of my head, I immediately thought of these fine ladies…

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  • Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina
  • Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Karidja Touré in Girlhood
  • Carey Mulligan in Far From the Madding Crowd
  • Juliette Binoche + Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria
  • Rebecca Ferguson in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Now, I haven’t seen Sicario nor Brooklyn yet, but I’ve heard lots of great things about the performance of Emily Blunt and Saoirse Ronan, respectively.

If you had to pick just three, who would make YOUR list of best 2015 female performers?

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5. 
This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Anna from Defiant Success Blog!

BooksToFilms

There are so many movies (and potential award candidates) based on books being released in the coming months, i.e. Carol, Brooklyn, The Revenant, The Martian, Macbeth, In the Heart of the Sea, among others. would you read the books as well as seeing the movies?

So would you read the books as well as seeing the movies? If so which one(s)?


Well, that’s it for the October 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

Seven things I learned from my Sedona vacation

Hello folks! Miss me? ;) Well I just got back from Sedona Sunday night and took an extra day off Monday just to recoup my energy.

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Being off social media for about a week was quite refreshing. I actually did stay off the blog and Twitter, but believe it or not, I got a lot of [script] writing done on the plane, as well in the shuttle to & from Phoenix – Sedona on my iPad. So obviously I can’t REALLY turn off technology entirely, not even for a day. But hey, I spent more times outdoors in one weekend than I do in a given month. Suffice to say, I didn’t see a single movie either, not even in the hotel or on the plane.

Here are 7 things I learned from my extended weekend Sedona trip:

1. Firstly, my blog friend Cindy Bruchman is simply awesome!! Not only does she run a terrific blog that I visit on a regular basis, she’s even more warm and wonderful in person. She took us hiking on the Airport trail, which was literally just yards away from the Sedona airport, so we could get 360˚ view of the red rocks canyon. I got a bit of a heat stroke or maybe just dehydration, so we stopped and sat down under a shade for about 10 min or so and she kindly gave me her apple that definitely helped get my blood sugar level up again. What a true friend she was!

So THANK YOU Cindy for one of the best blogger meet-ups ever, and for a phenomenal hiking experience like no other.
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2. You REALLY can’t take a bad picture in Sedona, so obviously my amateur photographer hubby (who I think could go pro if he wants to, and I’m not just saying that ’cause he’s my hubby) had a field day. There was a wedding going on as we climbed higher and the guide commented that the wedding photographer had it made as he simply couldn’t take a bad picture up there.

The red rocks around us are so majestic that my neck is still sore from just turning every which way just trying to take in the view. Here are two my hubby posted on his Instagram:

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Can you spot the couple on the cliffs?

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3. Dry heat is definitely more bearable. Even though it was a little over 100˚ while we’re out and about, it was surprisingly more comfortable than I thought. I was pleasantly surprised my hair didn’t turn into a pile of goo as it usually would under the extreme humidity of Minnesota Summer, so thank God for that! Of course the breeze whilst we’re on the Jeep also helped a ton. The sun is scorching though, I must’ve easily turned three shades darker in just a matter of minutes!

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4. Speaking of the Jeep, one of the best things we did in Sedona was doing not one but two Pink Jeep Tour excursions. The first one was the Scenic Rim Tour which was definitely the bumpiest ride as we got on the off-road trail where the elevation changes vary from 500 to 1500 feet. The view is absolutely spectacular, especially from Schnebly Hill Road as we looked down on the town of Sedona and saw the entire Verde Valley spilling into the horizon.

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5. I always love learning a bit about history, so for the second Pink Jeep Tour, we chose the Ancient Ruin Tour to visit this Honanki Heritage Site to look at 700-year-old Sinaguan cliff dwelling. Located about 16 miles from town, we then spent a half hour on the ¾ mile walk through the ruins and see the pictographs and petroglyphs up close. It was wildly interesting as well as impressive to learn just how advanced and obviously intelligent the Sinaguan tribes were. Those who are into UFO stuff would also find some of those pictographs VERY intriguing ;)

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Oh, on the way to the ancient ruin, we passed by this 1,100 year-old tree called the Alligator Bark Juniper, as the bark literally looked like Aligator skin. So it sort of contradicted the name Sinagua which is a combination of the Spanish words “sin agua,” which means “without water,” as there seemed to be an evidence that this could very well be a water source of some kind.

Sedona_AlligatorBarkJuniper

tarantulahawk6. I literally never heard of this insect before this trip. Most people know — and are terrified of — Tarantulas, and really, who isn’t? Well, apparently there are more commonly found in hot places like Arizona, and there were warning signs (with pictures!) just before we hiked to the ancient ruin. Yes, extremely comforting indeed, not to mention the threat of rattle snakes which the guides named Jake [shudder].

But apparently, there’s an insect that scared the s#%* out of tarantulas, imagine that. It’s called the Tarantula Hawk. It’s a spider wasp which hunts tarantulas. According to Wiki, the female tarantula hawk captures, stings, and paralyzes the spider, then either drags her prey back into her own burrow or transports it to a specially prepared nest, where a single egg is laid on the spider’s abdomen, and the entrance is covered. As the guide was explaining this, I actually feel sorry for tarantulas… or anyone who’s unlucky enough to ever got bitten by this damned thing.

7. Sedona is charming even as the sun goes down. The moon is often visible just before the sun goes down and it’s so lovely to look at it peeking from behind those red rocks. Simply breathtaking. The temperature went down pretty fast as the sun goes down too, it was very comfortable around 6 o’clock or so when we’re done w/ the Jeep tour, so we got some chilled coffee drinks and just took in the amazing vista all around us.

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BONUS:
Ok so this is not really Sedona-related but close. There are great places to eat in Phoenix. It so happens that our pal Tony picked the best places to eat whilst we’re there. He lives in Tempe but commutes to Phoenix all the time. On the first night he took us to a great Korean BBQ place, but my fave place is definitely The Henry. Awesome bakery and breakfast food, plus I LOVE the decor and ambiance!


Hope you enjoyed my non-movie related post from my weekend vacation. We’re definitely going back to this picturesque town and maybe visit the neighboring towns, including the historic mining town Jerome which is close to where Cindy lives.

Have you been to Sedona? 

Five for the Fifth: SEPTEMBER 2015 Edition

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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. Since this is Back to School week for many of you, or will be after Labor Day weekend, I figure I’ll borrow the question of this week’s Thursday Movie Picks topic. Since I didn’t participate, I figure I’d name three movie teachers who made an impression on me:

  • Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) – Dead Poets Society
  • Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  • Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris/Michael Gambon) – Harry Potter series

So what’s your favorite teacher(s) in movies?

2. September is a boon for film lovers as there are a plethora of film festivals going on. The big ones like TIFF, Venice, Telluride, etc. are going on this month, but this one you might not have heard of: The Deauville American Film Festival (Festival du cinéma américain de Deauville). It started on the day I was born, 1975, and took place in Deauville, the closest seaside resort to Paris in Northwestern France.

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I actually heard of this film fest thanks to my dahling Stanley Weber who’s a member of the The Révélation Jury this year. There are tons of my most-anticipated films premiering there as well: Knight of Cups, 99 Homes, Sicario, Everest, etc. I had to laugh at their picks of this year’s honorees though. I mean Michael Bay?? Orlando Bloom?? Seriously?? Though I have no problem that they’re honoring Keanu Reeves though.

What’s your most memorable film and/or moment at a film festival? Local or otherwise.

….

3. FIRST LOOK of a couple of films I can’t wait to see that I’ve talked about off and on on this blog. First, we’ve got the trailer of the sci-fi romance comedy The Lobster starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw.

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

The trailer made me laugh so hard! The idea is absolutely bonkers which would make for an amusing comedy, so hopefully the funniest bits aren’t all in the trailer. I’m especially curious to see Weisz, Seydoux and Whishaw who I normally associate with serious films.

KnightOfCups

Now, the Terrence Malick drama Knight of Cups that I’ve been waiting for over four years now is getting closer to be released. Well by close I mean within a year, we are talking about Malick after all. A new featurette is just released, including interviews with some of the cast, but no Christian Bale who’s the lead.

Rick (Bale) is a screenwriter living in LA tries to make sense of the strange events occurring around him.

In typical Malick fashion, the movie looks exquisitely-shot, again working with his regular DP, Emmanuel Lubezki. Per IMDb trivia, there was apparently no script and all of the scenes were improvised. Only Malick could get three Oscar winners to do his movie with no script, wow! So does that mean the film would not be eligible for a Best Screenplay award then? Not that I’m suggesting there’s ever a chance it would be nominated. I just think it must be quite an adventure working for this eccentric filmmaker, but hey, it’s got Bale AND Cate Blanchett so I’m still highly anticipating this one. Plus Bale looks so damn hot in this film, ehm :P

So what are your thoughts on either one of these films?

Lucy_Desi4. Gotta have a casting news update on FFTF, especially when it concerns the incomparable miss Blanchett! Per Variety, she’s set to play the comedic icon Lucille Ball in a biopic that’s being produced by her two children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. Aaron Sorkin is in talks to pen the script, which will center on Ball’s 20-year marriage to Desi Arnaz. She eloped with the Cuban bandleader in 1940, and the two created the massively successful sitcom “I Love Lucy” — in which she won four Emmys — in 1951 through their Desilu Productions.

I think this is great casting as Blanchett can pretty much tackle any role. They haven’t cast the actor to play Desi yet but I’d LOVE to see Guatemalan-born Oscar Isaac in the role. I think the role should be filled by a Latin actor and I’d love to see Isaac do a comedic role. Plus I think he’d be smokin’ paired up with Blanchett. Both are massively talented actors, so please Hollywood, make it happen!

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Thoughts on Blanchett’s casting and who should play Desi?

>>>
5. 
This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Margaret from Cinematic Corner!

Margaret was inspired by the fact that Mad Max: Fury Road finally won something and soon it’s gonna be Oscar season.

Are people going to forget all about the great movies we had in the first 9-10 months of the year? So before the Oscar season starts, I thought it would be fun if everyone shared their line up for Picture and Actor/Actress/Supporting Actor & Actress categories before the big Oscar baits start premiering.

So if the Oscars were to be handed out this month, which film and the four major acting awards would you pick to win?


Well, that’s it for the September 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

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?

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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!