Five for the Fifth: JULY 2014 Edition

FiveForFifth2014

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 yesterday is Fourth of July, aka Independence Day for good ‘ol USA, for some reason I always think of Roland Emmerich’s 1996 alien disaster flick: Independence Day. It is after all the quintessential Hollywood Summer tentpole flick: big, bombastic and unabashedly patriotic. Regardless how you feel about America, it’s hard not to cheer when Wil Smith punches the slimy, ugly alien or when Bill Pullman made his rousing speech (no doubt one of the most memorable movie presidents/speeches ever).

ID4SummerMovie

I bet there are folks who watch this annually on July 4th, just like it’s tradition to watch The Tenth Commandments at Easter and Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas day. And why not? It’s an absolute blast in every sense of the word, massively entertaining so long as you don’t mind suspending your disbelief for 2 hours and just go along for the ride.

So do you have a go-to Summer movie you like to watch every year? ….

2. Speaking of July 4th, check out this new thematic-trailer of the one Summer movie I can’t wait to see! Fortunately I won’t have to wait too long as I’ll be seeing it next Tuesday. So far the marketing for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has me REALLY anticipating this one, it looks even more sinister than the excellent first film. JFK’s independence day speech from 1962 makes it even more eerie, especially when one of the apes climbed over that American flag!


The early buzz I’ve read so far has been unanimously positive. Could it be one of the best movies of the year? I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. With the amazing Andy Serkis back in mo-cap performance as Caesar, the rest of the cast is pretty solid: Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Toby Kebell.

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

I also found some cool posters, both official and fan-made. Click each image to see a larger version:

Are you as excited as I am for this movie?

3. Oh man, here’s another reason why I wish I lived in London!! I just read yesterday that one of my favorite composers Hans Zimmer is planning a concert at Hammersmith Apollo in London. The concert series is titled Hans Zimmer Revealed which will include music from his vast film soundtrack collections. I LOVE a lot of his work, as I’ve highlighted in this Music Break post. Apparently Zimmer’s no stranger to performing on stage. He’s been known to perform during film premieres, such as during Inception premiere in L.A. in 2010. Here he was performing with guitarist Johnny Marr:

HansZimmerJohnnyMarr

Photo courtesy of Variety.com

Per Collider, the concert will be in two parts: the first being some of Zimmer’s classic movie scores including Gladiator, The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean, and the second featuring re-imagined versions of some classic scores such as The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception with special guests from the rock and pop world. It’d be sooo cool to hear LIVE orchestra of some of my all time favorite scores, especially Gladiator which I just rewatched last night. I think that could be considered Zimmer’s masterpiece. It’d be even more awesome if he brings his protege John Powell to perform together as well. I hope he’d consider doing concerts in the US as well, though most likely in the major cities like L.A. or New York City anyway.

What do you think of Hans Zimmer concert? Which other composer would you pay to see live on stage?
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4. Now this question is inspired by my friend Dave’s awesomely-long comment on my Transformers 4 rant post. He mentioned that he’s been binge-ing on lots of TV series lately and he’s not missing movies much at all.

This year TV has surpassed the movies for me. What with series like House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, The Americans, Halt and Catch Fire, Veep, Orphan Black, Sherlock, True Detective, Fargo, Downton Abbey… and even going back to the end of last year with Broadchurch, Top of the Lake and The Returned… I can’t say I’m really missing the movies so much. I haven’t even delved into Game of Thrones, Hannibal, or Sundance’s Rectify yet.

He also mentioned upcoming shows he’s anticipating, one of which is Cinemax’s The Knick from Steven Soderbergh, starring Clive Owen. Set in downtown New York in 1900, The Knick centers on Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Check out the trailer:

Heh, hat looks pretty darn scary but definitely intriguing. Well, having finished all 8-episodes of STARZ’s Black Sails (Season 1) last night, I totally get why people are so into TV these days and indeed, the golden age of television is going on again now. The quality of actors and script, not to mention the huge budget studios invest on these shows are astounding.

My question for you is two-fold:
Have you been watching more TV than movies lately? Which shows are you addicted to right now and/or highly-anticipating?
.

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Andrew from A Fistful of Films Blog. It’s funny how a decade of film can carry with it a certain quality.  When you think about the 80′s, you may call to mind that melodramatic, almost palpable soap opera veneer that found it’s way into so many films.

80sFilmDecade When you think of the 30′s, you may think of the countless screwball comedies and the prat falls that laced them.  Whatever the case, we tend to lump things in groups of ten, and deservedly so.

With that in mind, which decade of film have you found the most rewarding to explore, and which ‘quality’ makes it so rich??


Well, that’s it for the JULY 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D

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Question of the Week: What’s your favorite film(s) on Man-Machine relationship?

TheMachineTagline

I saw The Machine back in April and while I didn’t think it was perfect, it’s a pretty darn good sci-fi that’s worth your while. I think the concept is intriguing, with fantastic acting [Toby Stephens, natch!] and compelling direction. I have been re-watching clips of this film recently, especially the scenes between the scientist Vincent (Stephens) and his robotic creation Ava (Caity Lotz). At the core of it, it’s the relationship of man and machine that makes the story memorable.

TobyCaity_TheMachine

One of my favorite scenes in the movie

Sci-fi classic Blade Runner, which The Machine undoubtedly paid homage to, explores that man-machine relationship brilliantly. I actually love the original title of Philip K. Dick novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘ Now it doesn’t sound as cool but it’s effective as it immediately makes you think about the humanity [or lack thereof] aspect of man-made machines better than Blade Runner.

BladeRunnerTearsInRainScene

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain …

I love sci-fis, especially those that explore this topic, perhaps even more so than sci-fis involving aliens from outer space. So no doubt I love movies like Terminator, Iron Giant, The Matrix, A.I., Her and the Battlestar Galactica (BSG) TV series, which is a big space soap opera of Cylons (android race) and humans. I think there’s something about ‘men playing God’ aspect that captures my attention, as in some ways these androids are part of us humans who create them, in the same way that we’re created in the image of our Creator. But of course the fantastical aspect of seeing machines somehow developing consciousness is what I find fascinating AND entertaining.

Often the depictions of these androids actually remind us of what it means to be human, as the Blade Runner ‘tears in the rain’ scene so poignantly illustrates. In this scene in The Machine, Vincent [a scientist akin to Dr Frankenstein] asks his own robotic creation…

‘Just who are you really? How do I know that you’re alive and not just some clever imitation of life?’


Now even Vincent himself probably realizes he might never find the answer. Now another the burning question being asked time and time again is can man and machine co-exist? In the BSG series, the Cylons threaten human extinction, forcing the humans into deep space confined in a spaceship. The tagline of The Machine says ‘They Rise. We Fall.’ which suggest that the much-more advanced and powerful machines are more dominant and that the future seems uncertain for the humans.


So what are your thoughts on this topic? What’s YOUR favorite movies about man & machine?

Five for the Fifth: JUNE 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

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. Happy June everybody! So Summer Movie Season is officially underway now, starting with one of the biggest blockbusters of the year X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s one of my most anticipated films of 2014 and I’m glad to say I LOVED it! I reviewed it just before I left for holiday, you can read it here in case you missed it.

SummerMovies2014

Just looking at June, here are some of the films that are coming out this month:

  • The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
  • The Rover (June 13)
  • Jersey Boys (June 20)
  • Snowpiercer (June 27)
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

Now, Keith has given you his take on what to flaunt or flush from the Summer movies. As for me, another highly-anticipated movie out this month would be Snowpiercer! Seriously I’ve blogged about that one since August 2013 and it seems like we in the US are the last to catch this apocalypse thriller after the whole editing debacle (heh, thanks Harvey Weinstein!). I can’t freakin’ wait to finally see it and hopefully the Bong Joon-ho’s original version. They just released a new trailer, see below:

So which June movie(s) are you most anticipating?
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2. Yesterday (June 4) is Angelina Jolie‘s birthday, she’s born the same year as moi. The year has been kind to miss Jolie, she seems to get even better with age, looking even more stunning now than ever.

AngelinaJolie2014

I first saw her in Gia (1998), as the tragic 70s supermodel Gia Carangi who died of AIDS at the age of 26. It was such a raw performance from Jolie, and she seemed to have embodied the role so well for a while I feared she might’ve ended up as messed up as the character she portrayed. Thankfully that’s not the case and she seemed to have blossomed since then to become not only a good actress but a philanthropist and humanitarian. Jolie is quite a force to be reckoned with in the industry, I admire her even if I don’t always like her movies. I haven’t seen her directorial efforts yet, but of the movies she’s starred in, I think my favorite would be Beyond Borders, heck I even like her as bad ass Lara Croft & an assassin in Wanted. The absolute worst would be The Tourist as she treated the movie like a fashion photoshoot!

What’s your favorite Angelina Jolie’s film (whether it’s the one she directed or star in)?

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3. I just stumbled upon this new poster and trailer for Song of the Sea and I knew I had to share. It’s from the same filmmakers as The Secret of Kells which I adore. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2010, along with Up (which took home the award), Fantastic Mr Fox, Coraline and The Princess and the Frog.

SongOfTheSeaPoster

Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

Directed by Tomm Moore, the voice cast includes Brendan Gleeson (who was also in The Secret of Kells), Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Pat Shortt.

The trailer is just so gorgeous, the visuals and animation is so unique and fresh, unlike anything done by Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks. I think it’s more akin to Studio Ghibli’s style.  I like the fantastical and ethereal quality of the story, check out the trailer below:

My question is two fold: Have you seen The Secret of Kells? What do you think about this new movie?


4. Quite a few casting news I read the past couple of days, but I’m focusing the ones with actors re-teaming for a new project. At the top of the list is two Brits I love who’s got legions of fans: Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston. Based on this Radiotimes article, the two talented Brits are rumored to star in Journey’s End, based on R.C Sherriff’s 1928 play about a group of officers in the last year of WWI. Cumberbatch is rumored for the role of Captain Stanhope whilst Hiddles could be playing Lieutenant Osborne. I’d love it if the two are collaborating again, as their screen time together is way too short in Spielberg’s War Horse. If this happens, I sure hope there’d be lots of dialog as I can listen to these two for hours!

cumberbatch-hiddleston-interview-2

cumberbatch-hiddleston-interview-1

Another duo who might be working together again are Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in a 19th century period thriller The Revenant (per FirstShowing) and Mark Wahlberg with Will Ferrell in what looks to be an R-rated comedy, Daddy’s Home (per Deadline). I love Hardy so any casting news with him sounds good to me, he’d probably steal scenes again from Leo like he did in Inception, ahah. As for Wahlberg/Ferrell, well I loved them both in The Other Guys so yeah, that project sounds like it could be fun.

Which two actors do you wish would collaborate again, either for TV or movies?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet.

TCM last night broadcasted something different than their usual fare. Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic of sci-fi/horror, Alien.

Alien1979

Michael has seen it a half a dozen times but this is one of those movies that seem to retain its impact even with multiple viewings. I saw it on video years ago, but I still remember it being so terrifying. And who could forget THAT stomach-bursting scene with John Hurt?

With that in mind, what was last film, near or far, at home or at the cinema, that caused you to literally toss your popcorn?


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

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

Question of the Week: What’s Your Favorite Movie Set In Paris?

Happy midweek, everyone! Pardon me for being extra chirpy today as it’s only two days away before my hubby & I are off to Europe. As I’ve mentioned here, we’re going to Amsterdam – Bruges – Paris to be exact, but we’re spending the most time in Paris. We’re renting an apartment in the 15th arrondissement area for 6 nights via airbnb.com, something we’ve never done before but that’s part of the adventure as we’ll be staying away from the tourist-y area.

We wanted to visit Bruges because we saw how gorgeous it is in the 2008 movie In Bruges with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. That’s perhaps the most famous movie featuring the Belgian city, but Paris has been quite a staple in various films, Hollywood or otherwise. Just look at this super long list in Wikipedia. In fact, this weekend we saw 2 Days In Paris, which was written & directed by Julie Delphy who also starred in it with Adam Goldberg as her American boyfriend.

2DaysInParis

It’s a pretty cute movie, a bit vulgar in parts but also hilarious and has a wonderful scenery of Paris through the lens of a real Parisian, so it doesn’t look too glamorized. Well, it made me think of other movies I’ve enjoyed that’s set in the City of Light, whether in parts or in its entirety.

Midnight In Paris

Moulin Rouge

An Education

Inception

Paris Je T'aime – Père Lachaise Cemetery

Sabrina 1995

Phantom Of the Opera 2004

I know for sure I’d want to visit some of the main landmarks featured in some of my favorite movies. I’ve booked my tour to Palais Garnier where the Phantom of the Opera is set in, which is pretty close to the Père Lachaise Cemetery where Rufus Sewell and Emily Mortimer’s sequence is set in Paris Je T’aime. Of course Midnight in Paris has a bunch of great Parisian locations, and I have this site to use as a guide. But what I look forward to the most is just enjoying the ambiance and simply being in Paris, strolling through the streets and along the Seine river, people watching whilst sitting in a café, etc.


So my question to you today is, what’s YOUR favorite movie set in Paris?

Everybody’s Chattin’ & Question of the Week: What’s your favorite BIG MONSTER movie(s)?

Happy Wednesday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone today in combining two post *series* in one. I’m just afraid I’ll miss doing a community-building post this month, but I want to pick your brain on the topic of the week: Big Monster :D

EverybodysChattin

Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past couple of weeks:

  • Apparently Chris never cries at movies, but these nine films almost made him tear up.
  • sgdsd

    What is Jack Bauer doing in Pompeii??

    Mark reviewed Pompeii which I had a feeling is NOT worth your while.

  • One of my favorite Blog Series ever is Michael’s TMT (a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time). Check out his latest story on Escape from New York
  • On the TV front, Sidekick Reviews posted some thoughts on the latest Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Finale: Beginning of the End
  • Speaking of TV, Nostra discovered this TV Miniseries A Young Doctor’s Notebook I’ve never heard before, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm
  • Hildebrandt_LOTRI always like learning something new and from this week, Cindy posted about book/poster illustrators the great Hildebrandt Brothers
  • Natalie posted about The Derby Film Festival in Derbyshire, UK coming up later this month. It’s always great to participate in a local film event!
  • Last but not least, Brittani just spearheaded yet another blogathon on Favorite Movie Titles A-Z. I LOVE this idea! I can’t participate next week because of my Europe trip, so mine would be posted later in June when I return.

Now for Question of the Week!

Godzilla2014
Well, it’s inspired by my first ever viewing of a Godzilla movie last night. Yep, I’ve NEVER seen any previous Godzilla movie before, not the Japanese nor the US versions. I don’t know, I guess I’m just generally not a fan of monster movies, though of course I made an exception once in a while and in the case of Pacific Rim, I actually LOVED every minute of it! This latest Godzilla movie is not bad, it’s entertaining though it started too slow in the beginning and the human drama is pretty run of the mill, I’d even say corny with cookie-cutter characters that wasted the talents of the great ensemble cast! I don’t know when I’ll get around to do a proper review but I’d say it’s more of a 3/5 movie for me, maybe 3.5 if I’m feeling generous. Certainly the special effects are fantastic though, I saw clips of even the 1998 version and it seems light years behind compared to this! I think the earlier versions are more fun to watch for pure nostalgia value as the effects are hilarious!


So my question to you is two-fold:

Are you a fan of BIG MONSTER movies and which one(s) is YOUR favorite?

Five for the Fifth: MAY 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

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

1. Happy Cinco de Mayo! Well, per tradition on the Fifth of May, I always feature a Mexican actor/actress and for some reason I have not featured Salma Hayek before. I always think she is one of the most beautiful actresses ever, her body also seems to defy the law of physics.

SalmaHayek

Though I haven’t seen too many of her films, she’s definitely got screen presence. I remember seeing her for the first time in Desperado with Antonio Banderas. I still need to see her Oscar-nominated role in Frida though. I’m curious about her next project The Prophet, which is an animated feature inspired by the classic book by Kahlil Gibran.

What’s your favorite Salma Hayek film?
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2. Well, since it’s still May 4th aka Star Wars Day and it’s only 5 days away since the news broke, so I gotta have one related question right? Besides, the buzz surrounding Star Wars Episode VII will probably never die down until its release date in December 2015. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of this franchise, I’m mostly just curious about the cast as I know it’s a pretty big deal and it has a massive potential to launch/boost the career of the younger actors involved. Besides, even if they’re not a huge fan of the franchise, surely they’re excited to be working with the original actors like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. So the new cast members are: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von SydowI found this image on Twitter with the names of actors listed, which helps tremendously.

StarWarsEpisodeVII_CastPicWithNames

And of course it doesn’t take long for someone to create a fan poster with the old and new cast :D

StarWarsEpisodeVII_FanMadePoster

So it seems that the two actors rumored to be in the running who I wish were true: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Cumberbatch, are NOT part of the cast. But hey, nice to see Oscar Isaac and Andy Serkis on here, I’m a big fan of their work and I hope this will only boost their career even more, especially Isaac’s.

So are you happy with this announcement? Which actor/actress you wish had been cast in Star Wars Episode VII?

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3. Ok, switching gears to a black & white independent film that’s been garnering all kinds of buzz recently called Ida.

IDA_FilmPoster

Poland, 1962. Anna, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent, is a novice. She has to see Wanda, the only living relative, before she takes her vows. Wanda tells Anna about her Jewish roots. Both women start a journey not only to find their family’s tragic story, but to see who they really are and where they belong. They question what they used to believe in. Both of them are trying to go on living but only one eventually can.

Directed/co-written by Pawel Pawlikowski, it stars Polish actress Agata Trzebuchowska in her debut film. I actually heard film critic David Edelstein reviewed this film on NPR last week where he lauded the film and Agata’s performance, and I just had to check out the trailer:

 …
I literally got goosebumps just from watching the trailer. It’s been winning a slew of film festival awards all over the world, I sure hope it’ll make it over here to my city.

What do you think of Ida? 


4. Last week I heard news that Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt are teaming up again since they did Mr & Mrs. Smith back in 2005. The details of the new project is still not revealed yet, but according to Variety, it’s based on something Jolie’s written. The two seems to have been busy working on their own projects for the past decade. Pitt won his first Oscar as producer of 12 Years A Slave earlier this year and Jolie’s been busy working on the Lou Zamperini’s biopic Unbroken that’s set to open this Christmas.

Jolie-Pitt-Collaborating

Now, it made me think of other actor/actress couple who’ve worked together and whether it’s something I like to see on screen. Of course it’s nothing new, celebrity couples like Lawrence Olivier & Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor & Richard BurtonHumphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall during Hollywood Golden Age, as well as contemporary ones like Rita Wilson & Tom Hanks and former couples Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise, Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins, etc. have worked together, sometimes in multiple movies. I think my favorite real-life couple (the two were still married at the time) pairing up in films is Emma Thompson & Kenneth Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing.

What do you think of Jolie-Pitt’s teaming up again and/or which other real-life couple’s collaboration are you a big fan of? 

5. Last but not least, I’m introducing a special guest on today’s Five for the Fifth. From time to time from now on, I’ll invite one of my favorite blog friends to come up with one of the questions. This time, we’ve got Terrence from The Focused Filmographer as a special guest!

His question is inspired by the launch of FOX’s 24 series which he’s super excited about. The 12-episode “event” series 24: Live Another Day kicks off with a two-hour premiere on Fox starting Monday 8/7c and it’s set in London. Of course Kiefer Sutherland is back as counter-intelligence agent Jack Bauer, the agent with nine lives I’d say, as like James Bond (same JB initial too, a coincidence? I think not) he will never die!

24LiveAnotherDay

The movie version has been in limbo for some time since the show ended in 2010. Seems that TV is where it’s at right now anyway, with studios launching TV shows alongside their movies. Both Marvel & DC are launching shows like Gotham and Agents of Shield to expand the universe. 24 director John Cassar said this via THR: “I think 24 is probably on the edge of a new wave, and that new wave I think is you’re going to see more and more television shows coming back because for a lot of people it’s new,” Clearly, with Veronica Mars movie and apparently a revival of NBC show Heroes is coming in 2015 (per THR), this trend is definitely catching on. 

So which TV shows do you want to see a comeback, whether as a special TV event or a movie format?


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

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

Question of the Week: What’s your current cinematic obsession?

ob·ses·sion
əbˈseSHən/

  • the state of being obsessed with someone or something.
  • an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.

Ok this is not just another excuse to talk about Toby Stephens… as if I needed one, ahah. Seriously though, my weekly question is usually inspired by something that’s been on my mind. Well, I think you all know what or specifically who that is ;)

TobyTumblr

My long-lifeless tumblr’s been set ablaze again

Men like Toby ought to come with a warning label similar to those cigarette boxes: Dangerous, highly-addictive content. Proceed with caution. I have a bit of an obsessive streak in me. I don’t drink nor do drugs, seems that my *drug* of choice is British actors :P

Surely I’m not the only one, I mean tumblr is pretty much filled with obsessive people, ahah. It doesn’t have to be a person, it can be a TV show/movie/game, whatever. I know Sati’s been engrossed with Game of Thrones and Keith with the noir classic Casablanca. It doesn’t happen very often for me, well not THIS intense anyway, so when that happens I sort of relish in it. Fortunately with Toby, he’s covered pretty much every medium, theater, TV, movies and radio, and he’s a delight to watch as well as listen to. It’s funny how a new-found crush/craze adds an extra spring in your step, which helps me cope with this dreadful faux-Spring weather (complete with SNOW people!!).


So fess up folks, what/who are you obsessing about right now? And what started it all?

Question of the Week: Which films with great ensemble cast that fail to deliver?

It really pains me that the movie that *inspired* me for this edition of Question of the Week is one I’ve actually been looking forward to for some time. When I first blogged about it in January 2013, I was super duper excited about the cast. The movie is called The Deadly Game in the UK, complete with an even cheesier poster. I much prefer the Paul Shipper version on below right, if only the film itself is even half as intriguing.

AllThingsToAllMen_TheDeadlyGame

I never thought a British thriller starring Gabriel Byrne, Rufus Sewell AND Toby Stephens be so insufferably dreary. Even the actors look bored here, only Rufus seems to be having a bit more fun than the rest. My hubby actually fell asleep halfway through and I didn’t bother waking him up. If it weren’t for these three of my favorite Brits, well four if you count London which is practically a character in itself, I would’ve turned it off within 10 minutes. I don’t really feel like reviewing it, but I agree with these reviewers:

All Things to All Men is the latest attempt to make a British Michael Mann-style crime epic based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what Michael Mann actually does as a filmmaker. – The Scotsman

“Despite Sewell’s laconic ruthlessness, Stephens’s steely taciturnity and Byrne’s world-weary arrogance, there’s an all-round lack of conviction.”Radio Times

AllThingsToAllMen_stills

Now this one sums my feelings exactly:

“[George Isaac's] dizzying array of double-dealing gangsters, cops, hoodlums and hit men seem to be weirdly obsessed with taking in the sights. Issac describes his film as “a love letter to London”. Seriously, they should just get a room.”

So the only *character* that’s not wasted is London, but even so, the setting seems has no purpose. There’s a great shot of Stephens inside the London Eye but all he does is take a phone call! There is really no reason to have that scene shot there other than for pure visual spectacle. It’s a shame really, this could’ve been so much better and more gripping when you’ve got THIS kind of talents involved. It made me think of other movies that didn’t deliver despite the great cast, in fact you could say the cast is completely wasted. And I’m talking terrible films here, not just middling. Just from the past couple of years alone, we’ve got Gangster Squad, Now You See Me, The Monuments Men. Fortunately I skipped some of those Love, Actually copycats like Valentine’s Day or New York, I Love You (which I turned off after about 5 minutes). Oh and I avoided Movie 43 like the plague, I mean I don’t think ANY actor could’ve possibly saved such a movie.


So now your turn… what’s the worst movie(s) you saw with a great ensemble cast?

Easter Special – ‘God is in the Movies’ Blogathon

GodIsInTheMovies

Today is Maundy Thursday, a few days before Easter Sunday. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for such a blogathon. Well, Andrew has planned this since mid March but he was gracious enough to extend the deadline, bless his heart!

I was actually planning to do a similar post for Easter anyway so I just had to participate!

The concept is simple. I want you to rack your brains for the film that, to you, defines how the Bible (and all of its facets) should be presented in film. Do you like your scripture presented in a grand, sweeping epic like 1956’s The Ten Commandments? Do you like your scriptures tampered with, as in Scorsese’s polarizing The Last Temptation of Christ? Do you want to see an artistic approach to God’s book, like with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?  Or, do you prefer your faith handled in a more provocative and less direct way, as in the many works by Ingmar Bergman?

So Andrew’s assignment is to pick a movie (or style) and write a post explaining WHY it is your preferred dip into the Bible.

It’s a simple question but I’m going to expand on that topic a bit. as I was planning to do a post on that before I saw Andrew’s blogathon, I’m including my commentary about how Biblical movies as well as Christ’ portrayal in the movies.

I was actually re-watching Ben-Hur (1959) as I started this post… and I always rewound the Jesus scene as the enslaved Judah was bound and chained en route to the Roman galleys. He was dying of thirst when he fell to the ground and whispered, ‘God, help me…’ Almost instantly, someone came to him and gave him water.

BenHur_JesusWaterScene2

That scene alone is wonderful, but the BEST part is when one of the Roman soldiers scolds the stranger for giving Judah water and is about to whip him. The man stands up and simply looks at him.

BenHur_JesusWaterScene

The soldier’s thunderstruck expression is priceless. It’s as if he knew that the stranger could see through his entire being, and that makes him uneasy. He then starts backing away. Later Judah too looks up at the stranger and is rendered speechless. The end of the scene shows Judah looking so revitalized and full of hope that he barely noticed being whipped. He can’t take his eyes off his Savior as he’s led away, still in chains but somehow free.

So by mentioning that scene, I guess you could say that is my preferred way of God being depicted in Hollywood movies. It’s subtle but powerful and undoubtedly moving. I’d think that people who have no idea about God nor Christianity would be intrigued by the long-haired man in ragged clothing and why people react to him the way they did. Even without his face being shown, his presence is certainly felt and that’s truly one of the most memorable scenes in the entire 4-hour film. In fact, Ben-Hur is my Easter film of choice, yes even over Charlton Heston’s equally epic adventure The Ten Commandments. 

Truth be told, I felt that even with the sparse appearance of Christ in Ben-Hur, I was far more moved by those scenes than the entire film of Son of God. Now, as a Christ-follower, obviously I love films that glorify God and speak of His love for humanity. But even with the best intention of bringing the story to Jesus to mass audiences, the acting and dialog of the Mark Burnett’s film leave much to be desired and overall it just wasn’t as emotionally engaging as I had hoped. Cut from the TV-miniseries version of The Bible, the film was more of a Cliff-Notes chronicle of Jesus’ life. It also lacks any sense of mystique and grandeur, barely scratching the surface of His life on earth as uniquely extraordinary figure who’s both man AND divine. One of the main issue I had is with the portrayal of Jesus himself, which brings me to …

Christ Portrayal on Film

When we’re talking about how Christ is being depicted on film, it seems that Hollywood always subscribes to THIS classic drawing of Jesus that I often saw growing up in a Catholic household. Having seen Jesus of Nazareth and The Greatest Story Ever Told as a kid, Christ was always portrayed as tall and blue-eyed European figure. Slowly though, seems like Hollywood’s starting to concern themselves with authenticity, at least how the studio honchos see as authentic anyway. The latter portrayals of Christ is starting to look more Jewish, even Jim Caviezel wore prosthetic nose in The Passion of the Christ and had to wear brown contact lenses for the role.

Caviezel_Cusick_Morgado_Jesus

Jim Caviezel, Henry Ian Cusick, Diogo Morgado

But to me, it’s not just about what Christ look like that matters. There’s a delicate sensitivity combined with screen charisma required of any actor portraying Jesus. Out the three most recent feature film about Jesus: The Passion of the Christ, The Gospel of John and Son of God, Jim Caviezel‘s portrayal is my favorite. He has the right mix of otherworldly compassion, eternal wisdom and commanding gravitas as a leader. I often wish we got to see more of his portrayal in an extended look into Christ’ ministry instead of just the last 12 hours of his life. The brutal violence made it tough for me to revisit that film again, I was literally in agony watching it, it shook me to the core. But that was the point, Mel Gibson wanted to illustrate the extreme passion that Christ had for humanity, the length He went through to atone for the world’s sin, which was in line with what the Bible said about how Christ became horribly disfigured that he was barely recognizable as a human being.

GospelOfJohnDVDcoverAs for Henry Ian Cusick in The Gospel of John, I was skeptical about his casting at first as he seems too tough for the role. But he’s certainly got the charisma and screen presence, and portrays a more virile but also more relatable and approachable version of Christ. The adaptation itself was unique in that the dialog follows the Good News Bible, word for word, in sequential order from beginning to end. The excellent production quality + Cusick’s engaging portrayal made The Gospel of John my favorite Jesus feature film biopic so far.

In Son of God, we got a former Portuguese model Diogo Morgado, who despite his best effort is the least convincing of the three. He may look the part and has a serene and kind look about him but to me he lacks the gravitas and that effortless magnetism to make me believe he could inspire so many people to drop everything and follow him. His beatific smile seems more superficial and proved to be distracting rather than inviting.

So to answer Andrew’s question of

What movie/style is your preferred dip into the Bible?

I’ve already partly answered my question with Ben-Hur and the reason is the subtle way Christ is depicted actually made a greater impact as we saw how an encounter with Him changed a person life. At the start of the film, Judah Ben-Hur was not a believer and he became consumed with hate for Mesala after what he did to him and his family. Here we have a flawed man, just like the rest of us, being touched by God in the most unexpected way. Through a direct act of kindness (Jesus giving him water in his desperate hour), as well as seeing Him set an example of practicing what He preaches (forgiveness and loving one’s enemy) as Judah witness him being crucified, Judah’s heart is softened.

Judah Ben-Hur: Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Esther: Even then.

Judah Ben-Hur: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.

We later see his mother and sister were also miraculously healed the day Jesus died on the cross. But even before that, Judah has already let go of his hatred, which is a miracle in itself. The film never overtly displays Judah’s conversion but his transformed heart is palpable and that is deeply inspiring. We’ve all struggled with faith at one point or another, and that to me makes Judah so relatable and his story made a lasting impression to me.

Bale_Moses_ExodusI think more than the style of how God is being depicted is the intent or the essence of the film in question. It’s not just about Christianity, it applies to other Deity being depicted on screen. I feel that a filmmaker ought to at least treat a story about God or faith with care even if they don’t believe in that viewpoint. That’s why I choose NOT to watch films that I feel is deliberately blasphemous (The Last Temptation of Christ, The Da Vinci Code) or show obvious contempt for the subject matter (Religulous).

So naturally I have mixed feelings about Biblical movies that are on the rise again in Hollywood. Creative license being taken is one thing, but taking something from the source material and turn it into something else entirely (i.e. Noah) is another matter. Just in time for Christmas, we’ll have Ridley Scott’s retelling of Moses leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt in Exodus: Gods & King. Well, according to this article, [Scott] has chosen an unconventional depiction of God in the film,” and in Total Film April issue, it’s said that Christian Bale as Noah is more Maximus type warrior than the Charlton Heston’s deliver in The Ten Commandments. So it seems God is to be overlooked once again in His own story [sigh]

So pardon the elaborate essay, but some of these topics have been on my mind for some time. So back to the burning question, my favorite depiction of God in cinema is the kind that presents Him in a respectful and authentic way. I don’t think the [borrowing Josh' statement here] ‘hit me over the head with your belief’ approach appeals to me and I don’t think it rarely inspire people anyway. Subtlety paired with firm conviction can work wonders and as with the case of Ben-Hur, it proves to be quite powerful. The genre itself doesn’t really matter to me, whether it’s a grand, sweeping epic or a small indie about someone struggling with their faith, what I’d like to see is a stimulating and thought-provoking story of how God relates to man that makes me pause and reflect on our own belief, whatever that may be.


So there you have it folks. I welcome any comment you may have, and feel free to give your own answer to Josh’s question on your preference of God being depicted in cinema.

Five for the Fifth: APRIL 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

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

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

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

Did you read any April Fools fake news you wish were real?
….

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

MarvelStudiosFilms

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

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

So how would you rank these 10 Marvel movies?

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

LockePoster

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

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

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


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

ChiwetelEjioforBONDvillain

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

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

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

EnemyOfManMovie

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

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

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

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

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


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

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