JUNE Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

June2015Recap

I was contemplating about taking a blogging break as I’ve mentioned here that I’m hoping to start writing my first script [so yes I’ve decided that’s the format instead of a novel]. But I think I’d miss it too much so I’ll probably just blog less and will also reduce my time visiting people’s blogs.

Needless to say, I didn’t really have much time for movie watching either this month. I only went to four press screenings: SPY, Jurassic World, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl and Self/less. There were two scheduled screenings for Magic Mike XXL, but honestly I can’t be more disinterested in seeing that flick if I tried. Was planning on seeing Terminator Genisys but decided against it due to threat of severe weather. That movie just isn’t worth getting hail damage on my car. I am looking forward to seeing Southpaw [Jake Gyllenhall looks positively Oscar worthy just from the trailer alone!] and MI5: Rogue Nation. Oh I also signed up for Ant Man too, though I’m kind of meh about Marvel stuff these days.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

In a Period Drama Mood

Music Break: Jurassic Park

Thursday Movie Picks: Animated Movies

Music Break: Top 10 James Horner’s Scores

Guest Post: Gender and Hollywood Screenwriting

5 Fave Quotes from 5 Inspiring Female Characters

Reviews

I’ve been feeling burnt out lately in review writing, so there are a slew of stuff I saw I haven’t got a chance to review yet. Interestingly enough, this weekend had been quite a prolific one as I actually did finish three reviews in a matter of 48 hours! We’ll see how long that’ll last, but so long as the passion is there, I’m gonna ride it until it’s gone :D Here are some that’ve been posted already:

Entourage (2015)

SPY (2015)

Jurassic World (2015)

A Coffee in Berlin (2014)

P.K. (2014)

Inside Out (2015)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2014)

Rewatches

Chicken Run (2000)  |  Man of Steel (2013)  |  Roman Holiday (1953)  | Bride & Prejudice (2004)  |  Mansfield Park (1999)  |  BBC’s North & South (2004)  |  BBC’s Sense & Sensibility (2008)

June Blind Spot Pick:

New-to-me Movies (that I haven’t reviewed yet):

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Self/less (2015)

The Words (2012)

TV Series:

ABC’s Galavant

Downton Abbey Season 3

It’s been slow going on catching up with TV series, but I hope to finish all of season 3 by end of Summer. We’ll see how it goes!

Movie of the Month

InsideOut_poster

It’s an easy pick this month. Inside Out is truly one of Pixar’s best, entertaining as well as heartwarming and insightful. Spy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl are both VERY good though, those would make my top 3 of the month.


So that’s my June recap. What’s YOUR fave movie(s) you saw this month?

Weekend Roundup: Quick Thoughts on Inside Out & Mini Reviews of ‘A Coffee in Berlin’ + Bollywood sci-fi comedy P.K.

How’s your weekend everybody? To all you dads out there, hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day and that your family spoiled you rotten :D

Well I ended up seeing three new films and re-watched parts of Roman Holiday this weekend so it’s quite a busy movie-watching weekend for me, though not much time for blogging.

InsideOutMovie

I missed the press screening for this as I spent some time with visiting family last weekend. I’m glad I finally did, here’s my initial reaction to Pixar’s latest:

It’s definitely another winner from Pixar and Joy could very well be one of my favorite Pixar characters now! Seems that this is the weekend everyone went to the movies as Inside Out made $91 mil yet it’s STILL didn’t beat the juggernaut box office prowess of Jurassic World which made $102 mil, wow! My full review of this is coming soon.

So here are my mini reviews of the two foreign movies I saw:

CoffeeInBerlin2012

A self-ironic portrait of a young man Niko who drops out of university and ends up wandering the streets of the city he lives: Berlin.

I was curious to check this out as I quite like the poster and I only had time for a shorter film under two hours. Well, this German drama proved to be pretty quirky and quite funny at times, but it’s quite boring at times too. There are some interesting moments, such as the plot involving Niko’s former female schoolmate he used to bully who somehow still has a crush on him. There’s also a scene on the set of a Nazi-themed film which concept sounds like it could make for an intriguing feature film. That scene was perhaps the highlight of the movie for me.

I wish I could like this movie more, but perhaps people who identify with the protagonist’s life might find this movie more interesting. Tom Schilling looked like a German version of James McAvoy that it’s a bit distracting, but overall I’m not all that impressed by him here.

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PK_IndianScifi

A stranger in the city asks questions no one has asked before. Known only by his initials, P.K.’s innocent questions and childlike curiosity will take him on a journey of love, laughter and letting-go.

My mother in-law was the one who tipped us about this movie. I’ve never heard of it before, but then again I’m not exactly well-versed on Indian cinema. So this also marked the first Indian sci-fi movie I’ve ever seen, not sure how many Indian films have been made in this genre.

Apparently this stands as the highest grossing Bollywood film ever, earning over $100mil in worldwide box office. Aamir Khan‘s a pretty famous Indian actor apparently, but this is the first time I’ve heard of him so I was quite flabbergasted that he’s 50 years old! He certainly looked much younger than his age and he’s quite hilarious as the P.K. with green contact lenses and ears sticking out sideways. Once you see the film you’ll find out what that name stands for. It’s a decidedly quirky scifi comedy, which started off with an alien being dropped from a spaceship and then the film moved to Bruges! This could be the first Indian movie set in that picturesque Belgian city, so it’s quite funny to see the classic Bollywood musical scenes being filmed here.

PKmovie_BrugesScene

But the spiritual message of this film turns out to be pretty bold and thought-provoking. I’d imagine this was quite controversial in India given its sensitivity to religious matters and this film wasn’t afraid to question the various religious traditions, from Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, as well as Hinduism. But the main target was really this religious cult led by a massively popular leader.

Anushka Sharma as the female lead is beautiful and charming, she definitely is the heart of the film here. The key scenes between her and P.K. are funny but not without substance. So yeah, I quite enjoyed this movie, I really think people who aren’t usually into Bollywood movies should check it out.

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So what did you watch this weekend? Seen anything good?

Weekend Roundup + Casting news I’m excited about

Hello everyone! I’ve been away for most of the weekend and away from my laptop so not much to report here in terms of movie watching. My mother in-law and brother in-law are visiting in town so we’ve been playing tourist around MN since Friday. I was able to finish my Jurassic World review before they arrived though, but I did not see a single thing since Thursday night when I saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

I don’t know when I’ll have time to reviewMeEarlDyingGirl_Pic it, but I urge you to check it out if it’s playing in a theater near you. It was a Sundance hit, winning the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, and rightly so. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll definitely appreciate life as you have it and the friendship you have in your life. Plus, if you love foreign movies, you’ll absolutely adore this movie!

Well, even though I didn’t have much time to watch movies nor blog this past few days, I did make a bit of progress on my next novel or more appropriately, my narrative endeavor. I’m not revealing any details just yet as it’s still in its infancy, but I’m happy just to be working on something new as it’s been over three years since I came up with this movie pitch! Let’s just say my crushing on Stanley Weber hasn’t been in vain as it’s mostly inspired by him, as well as my girl crush Gugu Mbatha-Raw ;)

Instagram_logoOh and I also joined the Instagram party just for the heck of it. So if you have an IG account, let’s connect there!

Ok, so here’s the casting news I’m super excited about!

Per TheWrap, Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac will star in The Promise, an epic love story that Oscar-winning filmmaker Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) will direct from a script he co-wrote with Robin Swicord (Memoirs of a Geisha).

Isaac_Bale_ThePromise

Heh, they should do something about that name eh? It’s so darn generic and wasn’t there a period piece with a similar name just released a couple of years ago with Alan Rickman & Rebecca Hall? I blogged about it here but doesn’t look like anyone (including me) saw it.

In any case, I do love the gist of this upcoming project:

Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, “The Promise” follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, and Chris — a renowned American journalist based in Paris. Bale will play Chris, an AP reporter in love with both a woman and the danger of being in a combat zone amidst a world that is falling apart. Isaac will play Michael, a medical student in love with the same woman but conflicted by old-world traditions and his heart.

The Ottoman Empire was dissolved in 1922 following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which resulted in an estimated death toll of between 800,000 and 1.5 million people. The subject has been near and dear to George, who in March 2013, was a guest of the Armenian State Pedagogical University, where the Irish filmmaker compared the Armenian genocide to the Rwanda genocide that he chronicled in Hotel Rwanda.

Boy, who’s going to be the lucky lady who will be *trapped* in THIS juicy love triangle? Whoever it’ll be, I’m already sold on the two male leads who are both gorgeous AND talented. I’m glad Isaac’s career is on fire right now and he’ll get his own Oscar to go with his name very soon too I hope.

JackHustonOn the flip side, I just learned on TheWrap as well that Jack Huston is no longer attached to play The Crow in the remake. Now, I think Brandon Lee had huge shoes to fill in the role and it’s going to be tough to top that film, but I like Huston and I think he could do a fine job. Plus I’d love to see him on screen with Andrea Riseborough who’s cast to play Sgt. Albrecht.

I’ve only seen him in American Hustle and Night Train to Lisbon, but most of you who watch Boardwalk Empire would notice him as Richard Harrow. I’m not too sad about it though, Jack is a talented young actor whom I hope would go on to star in better things. I’m looking forward to seeing him as Ben-Hur as well as Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies next year!

 


So that’s my weekend & casting roundup. How about you, seen anything good?

Weekend Roundup: In a Period Drama Mood

Happy Monday everyone! Another full week in store for me this week, but I’m excited for the Jurassic World and Inside Out screenings back to back Tuesday and Wednesday.

This weekend ends up being rather busy but I managed to fit in a couple of rewatches and a new movie I haven’t seen before, the Irish animated fantasy Song of the Sea (review upcoming). My tumblr feed has been filled with all kinds of Jane Austen gifsets lately and so it puts me in a period drama mood.

BBC Sense & Sensibility (2008)
SenseSensibilityBBC2008

Most Austen fans would say that their favorite is Pride & Prejudice but for me, Sense & Sensibility reigns supreme, followed by Persuasion. So nearly every year I have to watch at least one version of this adaptation. The Ang Lee version is still superior on the whole, it’s after all one of my top five favorite films of all time. But there are quite a lot of things I love about this version, especially in the casting of Hattie Morahan & Dan Stevens as Elinor Dashwood & Edward Ferrars, respectively. Oh and I also love Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood. Hard to beat Alan Rickman but David Morrissey is more than adequate as Col. Brandon and I’ve grown to like his portrayal more and more. I didn’t care for Dominic Cooper as the dashing cad Willoughby though, and still don’t this time around.

Bride & Prejudice (2004) 

BridePrejudice2004

This is a Bollywood version of Austen’s most popular novel. I’ve reviewed it here, and this is such a fun movie to watch over and over. So goofy and at times hilarious, but I think it captures the essence of the story as Austen intended. Aishwarya Rai is mesmerizing as Lalita Bakshi (Lizzie Bennett) despite being far too beautiful in the role. Martin Henderson provides quite an eye candy as Darcy with his dimpled good looks, and fellow Aussie Daniel Gillies makes quite a charming Wickham. Gurinder Chadha did a nice job adapting the classic story and somehow fit it into the Indian culture. I thought that the portrayal of Lizzie’s parents are spot on, especially Mrs. Bakshi who’s unabashedly eager to marry off their daughters. Naveen Andrews makes for the most charming version of Mr. Bingly, can’t imagine any of the British actors be up for THAT kind of vigorous dancing, ahah.

North and South(2004)

I’ve dedicated a post for Richard Armitage‘s performance as John Thornton in this amazing BBC miniseries a while ago. It still stands as one of my top five period dramas of all time!

NS_Thornton

From time to time I’d watch clips of this on Netflix streaming, but this weekend I watched the last two episodes… and of course the ‘Look back… look back at me‘ scene gets me every time! Nothing like a gorgeous tortured soul to stir my heart and Armitage looks positively gorgeous as the venerable & vulnerable Mr. Thornton.

The Rise & Fall of Versailles (2009)

Speaking of gorgeous, of course not a weekend passes by these days without at least one Stanley Weber viewing ;) And because of the recent casting news that Stanley will be portraying a French nobleman in Outlander season 2, I re-watched this documentary on King Louis XV. It’s also available in the full French version called Le Soleil Noir (The Black Sun) which I’ve also seen despite not having English subtitles.

LeSoleilNoir2009

For anyone who’s into French history, this three-part documentary that goes all the way to the French revolution is fascinating and insightful, not to mention damn right sexy! The French sure knows how to make history lesson so titillating by casting such hot young actors as their monarchs, ahah. Louis XV is known for being quite a virile King with a colorful sexual history and this documentary doesn’t shy away from that. The set pieces and cinematography is fantastic for a TV documentary and it was filmed on location in Versailles. It’s especially fun to watch this as I was just there last year. So Outlander fans curious to see Stanley in French aristocracy regalia, be sure to catch this one and it’s on youtube and Hulu!

 


Well that’s my weekend, what did YOU watch?

MAY Viewing Recap, Top 3 MSPIFF 2015 + Movie of the Month

May2015Recap

Well May turns out to be quite a busy movie watching month! Surprising since I only went to one press screening all month (Tomorrowland). I am looking forward to quite a few screenings in June: Spy (this Tuesday!), Inside Out, Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys. I REALLY want to see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl but that’ll be three screenings back-to-back in a week so not sure I can fit that one in.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Highlights from Wizard World 2015

Spotlight on Character Actors of Twilight Zone Series

Movie Roulette Blogathon

Music Break: Not Another Happy Ending

Rental Pick: Time Lapse

May Blind Spot Pick:

Breathless_Still1

Breathless – À Bout de Souffle (1960)

New-to-me Movies:

Paddington

Felony

The Rewrite

Far From The Madding Crowd

Tomorrowland

Mad Max: Fury Road

Thérèse Desqueyroux (2012)

Populaire (2012)

Violette (2013)

Pour Une Femme (2013)

Cheba Louisa (2013)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

MelGibsonMadMaxRoadWarrior

After seeing the stellar Mad Max: Fury Road, my hubby and I saw The Road Warrior (1981) this weekend and we loved it! I think I’ve seen it years ago when I was a wee kid but I could remember much of the plot so it felt like new to me. Clearly the Mad Max franchise is George Miller‘s magnum opus and even though it was made over 3 decades ago, it still has a certain timeless quality about it and the action set pieces are fantastic despite the limited budget compared to this latest one. I’d rank Road Warrior as high as Fury Road, though certainly the Furiosa story adds a great deal of emotional depth to the film. But hey, 25-year-old Mel Gibson was pretty damn hot in his prime ;)

Rewatches:

Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

Sabrina (1995)

Last Night (2010)

Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

[Belated] Top 3 Picks from MSPIFF 2015

It’s a month late but I thought I’d still post my friend Josh’s and my top 3 picks from MSPIFF as some of the films are now available to rent on VOD.

MSPIFF15ReviewsSidebar


Josh’s Top 3

3: The Secrets of War
A rushed ending notwithstanding, The Secrets of War is quite good. All three child actors are solid to excellent; the thematic and dramatic heft of the narrative carry the film; and the picture’s sense of period is terrific. That there are some deeply moving moments interspersed throughout helps, as well.

2: The Keeping Room
Powered by strong performances from Brit Marling, Sam Worthington, and Muna Otaru, The Keeping Room fuses multiple genres well. At times, director Daniel Barber and writer Julia Hart make this dark civil war film suspenseful; at other times frightening; and at other times emotionally rife. Of course, it also helps that Barber’s visual aesthetics are a feast for viewers’ eyes.

1: The Connection
The Connection overcomes a predictable plot by depicting complex characters. It also capitalizes on a perfect ending that captures proper thematic heft at the same time it fittingly ends the characters’ paths. Terrific performances from Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lelouche, and Celine Sallette make this a film worth seeing, as well.

Ruth’s Top 3

3: El Critico
I enjoyed this one immensely! Being a film blogger, I definitely identified with the protagonist, and I totally share his scorn for most Hollywood rom-coms. Definitely worth your time when this movie is available to rent.

2: Clouds of Sils Maria
Seems tradition that I see a Juliette Binoche movie at MSPIFF and this is the best one yet! She came up with the premise of the film and director Olivier Assayas did a wonderful job penning the script and made the story come to life. Both miss Binoche and Kristen Stewart are tremendous here and the film work largely due to their performances.

1: Girlhood
I rewatched parts of this French drama now that it’s on Netflix and I absolutely adore this film. Thanks to this film I discovered the lovely Karidja Touré in her mesmerizing acting debut. No doubt one of the best and emotionally-compelling coming-of-age film I’ve seen in some time.

Movie of the Month

WhatWeDoShadows

I’ve been wanting to see What We Do in the Shadows ever since I saw the hilarious trailer months ago. Well this New Zealand mockumentary had me in stitches, it’s as hysterical as I had hoped and then some. If you’re a fan of vampire/werewolf movies, or just great comedies in general, I can’t recommend this enough. It pokes fun of the classic horror genre, but in a way it’s an homage to it at the same time. I sure wish they’re making a sequel of this as I would watch it in a heartbeat!


So that’s my May recap. What’s YOUR fave movie(s) you saw this month?

Fun in the Florida sun, Wizarding World of Harry Potter & What I watched during my vacation

Hello everyone! So I’m kinda back from vacation though I haven’t blogged a single thing since I’m back, well except for this post. I’m hoping to start in the swing of things and write reviews again before I forget how, ahah. I have like five reviews I still have to write hopefully by end of the month. I literally had to write a note on my phone last night which movies I saw in the last three weeks that I haven’t reviewed yet:

  • The Water Diviner
  • The Woman in Gold
  • Far From the Madding Crowd
  • Felony
  • Paddington

We’ll see which one I’m in the mood to write next :)

Ok so, the Florida trip… well it was a blast!! We pretty much got to everything we set out to do, except for Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the forecast said it might rain that day. So here’s my recap:

Clearwater Beach

We kinda started late in the day and it was about an hour drive from our hotel in Tampa. By the time we got there it was mid afternoon and the place was packed!! We didn’t swim – I’m actually not a big ocean swimmer, if I want to swim I’d hit the pool – but we did walk around barefoot on the soft, white sand beach and dip our feet in the ocean to cool off.

ClearwaterBeach

Tarpon Springs

I’m so glad we managed to fit in this small Greek town about 40-min north of Clearwater. It’s such a picturesque little town with a small harbor. The town has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US and the historic downtown is lined with Greek restaurants/bars and shops. We had one of the best Greek food for dinner with one of the best views!

NASA Kennedy Space Center

On our way to Orlando from Tampa, we fit in a visit to the Kennedy Space Center. There wasn’t a crowd at all on Sunday so it was perfect.

NASA

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The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

We took on a bus tour around the vast NASA facilities, including some of the rocket launch sites at Cape Canaveral. We didn’t get inside the VAB building though, just went around it. It didn’t seem THAT big but apparently you could fit three Empire State Buildings comfortably inside this, wow!

My favorite part is the new Atlantis exhibit. I think if you’re a space nut or someone who’s really into sci-fi would get a kick out of this one.

Universal Studios – Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Monday was Harry Potter day! We could see the Hogwarts Tower from our hotel window as Universal Studios is only about a mile away.

The place was packed and it was well worth getting the Park-to-Park tickets so we could get to both Harry Potter sites: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. The latter is no doubt my favorite and it’s a bit cooler in there. We spent the most time at Diagon Alley and we had lunch at Leaky Cauldron in which was a rustic tavern like place with a kind of a communal seating area with long tables and benches.

One of the highlights was definitely riding the Hogwarts Express itself that takes us from Hogsmeade right to Diagon Alley!

I’m quite impressed with these two parks. Seems that they went to great lengths in creating a fun experience for HP fans and paid attention to the small details from the architecture, down to the food and beverage – those BUTTERBEER seems to be quite a hit! I especially love the architecture of Diagon Alley with all the shops. I’m not as huge a fan of HP to fully appreciate every detail but I still enjoyed them. The only disappointing thing for me was there’s nothing on Snape at all, not a single statue or even Snape-related souvenir item. Trust me, I actually asked a couple of people about that.

Second best part of the HP experience is the Escape from Gringotts ride. It’s my fave ride of the entire Universal Orlando, and we went to about five of them including the Transformers and Spiderman rides. The wait was the longest too, but the inside of the ride was beautifully decorated and as you entered the Gringotts Bank, there were lifelike goblins working at their stations and sometimes they look up from their papers to stare at people waiting in line. Creepy but fun!

If you’re ever in the Universal Walk area, make sure you stop by The Crowfish which is a fusion type bar/restaurant for their awesome sushi and burger fusion dishes. I actually had the delicious Bento box and my hubby had sushi w/ burger meat that’s absolutely smashing! Great ambience too, definitely our favorite restaurants from the entire trip!

TheCrowfish

Downtown Disney

On our last day in Orlando, we just spent our time in Downtown Disney. Now that we think about it, we really should’ve gone to Animal Kingdom instead as the rain was kind of sporadic anyway.

It’s kind of disheartening to see all the bastardization of the Star Wars paraphernalia. I mean, they basically added Mickey Mouse ears to most of the iconic SW characters. Needless to say, we didn’t buy anything at the plethora of Disney stores.

Leia_Vader

Vader and Leia w/ Mickey Mouse ears! My hubby’s not impressed.

Movies/TV Watched During Vacation

I only had time to watch stuff on the plane or when we’re bat at the hotel.

Nazi/Hitler documentary on American Heroes Channel

It’s a rather dark subject to watch during vacation but my hubby ended up watching a couple of hours worth of Hitler documentary, mostly concentrating on his youth and how he became the monster that he was. It’s more of a re-enactment documentary, not just talking heads. Interesting though that it’s in a channel called American Heroes (??)

The Rewrite


TheRewrite

I saw this on the plane and mostly because I love Marisa Tomei. It actually turns out to be pretty good for a rom-com. I mean it’s kinda predictable but sweet, and it was rather fun seeing Hugh Grant poking fun at his previous roles as a Jane Austen hero. Not a bad rental if you like this kind of stuff.

Frozen (rewatch)

I can’t help rewatching this one on the plane ride back. It just always puts me in a good mood. Funny but Let It Go is actually my least fave song of the whole movie! Olaf’s In Summer song however, never fails to put a smile on my face!

SHOWTIME’s Penny Dreadful Season 2 (2 episodes)

PennyDreadfulSeason2

I don’t know which episodes they are but since I’ve read a few articles/reviews on the show (yes because of Timothy Dalton’s involvement), I pretty much knew what the show is about. Boy is it ever terrifying, I don’t think I could watch this alone in my basement without my hubby in the room. The violence is really quite brutal and the satanic stuff is REALLY creepy, but the production design is top notch. Seriously they threw money at this show like nobody’s business, they certainly don’t skimp on the set, costumes, ambience, etc.

 


Hope I didn’t bore you with my recap folks… So how’s your week been, seen anything good lately?

APRIL Viewing Recap, Movie of the Month + Looking forward to 2015 Wizard World Minneapolis!

Monthly2015RecapAprilWhoah, April’s been a freakishly busy month thanks to MSPIFF! Check out the banner below to check out our reviews from the Minneapolis/St Paul Film Festival, I have this image widget on my blog sidebar for easy access as well. I’ll have my MSPIFF recap next week as well as my and Josh’s picks top three movie picks.

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Posts You Might’ve Missed

MSPIFF 2015 Film Spotlight: The Center
Interview with filmmaker Charlie Griak & lead actor Matt Cici

The Longest Ride interview with cast member
Scott Eastwood & Britt Robertson

Wordless Wednesday:
the unrequited love of The Age of Innocence

BLOGATHON:

20 Perfect Cinematic Moments – A Fistful of Moments

The Five Senses Blogathon

Thursday Movie Picks #42: Father-Daughter Movies

April Blind Spot Pick:

A Space Odyssey (1968)

New-to-me Movies (non-MSPIFF related):

Avengers: The Age of Ultron

Furious 7 (2015)

Ex Machina (2015)

Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

Thérèse (2012)

Documentary – The Rise & Fall of Versailles: Louis XV

I think if I were to sum up the month of April, you could say it’s basically a split between MSPIFF and my new obsession Stanley Weber.

TomDuvall_NAHE

Yes I’m officially afflicted by the #StanleyWeber bug. Watched #NotAnotherHappyEnding a dozen times in just under 2 weeks!! #madcrush

— FlixChatter (@FlixChatter) April 21, 2015

Needless to say, there’s barely time for any other rewatches :P

TV Series:

Netflix’s Daredevil (season 1)

BORGIA: Faith & Fear (season 1)

Movie of the Month

ExMachinaPosterI’m excluding MSPIFF films here as I’m going to do a separate recap. So this was an easy choice, Ex Machina is simply an excellent sci-fi… well, an excellent film in general.

Avengers: Age of Ultron was the last film I saw in April, and though there are some fun moments like the attempt to lift Mjölnir scene, overall it’s pretty forgettable. I don’t know when I’ll have time to review this movie but let’s just say I agree with Kenneth Turan I heard on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning: “Age of Ultron is made for the ‘instant gratification’ culture… It disappears without a trace as soon as it’s consumed.” Yep, that pretty much sums up my sentiment.

What I look forward to in May

WizardWorld2015MplsIt’ll be a fun weekend at Mpls Comic-Con starting tomorrow! Full programming all day Saturday, these are some of the panels I’ll definitely take part in:

11:30-12:15 – WETA workshop: character creation through prosthetics, hair & make up

2:00-2:45 – No “bones” about it: Karl Urban

4:00–4:45 – The truth is out there: Gillian Anderson

 

WalkerArt_NolanLectureMy hubby and I got tickets to attend this quickly sold-out lecture at Walker Art Center with Christopher Nolan! I sure hope there’ll be a Q&A segment at the end!

In celebration of 25 years of Walker Dialogues, the Walker presents acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, one of the most innovative directors working today, in discussion with Variety chief film critic Scott Foundas. The lecture is followed by a nine-film retrospective May 7–24, 2015.


Whew, so that’s my April recap. What’s YOUR fave movie(s) you saw in April?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + MARCH Viewing Recap

EverybodysChattin

Happy April everyone!!

Let’s start off with some lists and non-review posts

  • Chris is back with his ‘What is’ series, this time he posted about Aspect Ratio
  • Sati posted 11 things she looks forward to in Game of Thrones 5
  • Mike posted about the superb contemporary noir that is Michael Mann’s HEAT, part of his Looking Back 20 Years series
  • The entries to Andrew’s A Fistful of Moments blogathon‘s been popping up a lot this week, I really love Irene‘s and Anna‘s lists, which include two films that’ll surely be on my own list!
  • Speaking of lists, Dan just posted about Top 10 Crazy Movie Doctors

Now on to reviews!

  • Mark reviewed Inherent Vice
  • Stu reviewed Animal Kingdom
  • Cindy reviewed Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 classic Some Came Running
  • Jordan posted his Bite Sized Reviews on Digital Shortbread, including Russell Crowe’s scariest performance as a skinhead in Romper Stomper
  • Steven just reviewed one of 2015 Oscar’s Best Foreign Language nominee Wild Tales
  • Last but not least, Michael just reviewed a space film classic Apollo 13


Before I get to my March recap, I simply have to share this awesome video mash-up…  SUPERMANDREAS. A guy by the name of Nick Acosta decided to re-edit the San Andreas trailer to take out Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and put in Christopher Reeve as Superman in the 1978 film. It’s such a hoot!!


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MarchRecap2015I saw a dozen new-to-me movies this month, quite an improvement over January and February. Minneapolis-StPaul Film Fest (MSPIFF) is coming in mid April so I hope I’ll see more movies this month! Plus the weather’s getting nicer, MUCH nicer than it was around this time last year, so I think I’ll be getting Spring Fever in no time!

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Music Break: 5 Fave Sci-fi Scores About Robot

Music Break: Disney’s Animated Classic Cinderella

St Patrick’s Day Special: 5 Scenes set in Ireland

BLOGATHON:

Thursday Movie Picks #35: Fairy Tale Adaptations

Thursday Movie Picks #36: Movies adapted from Young Adult Novels

Thursday Movie Picks #37: Mother-Daughter Movies

March Blind Spot Pick:

WINGS (1927)

New-to-me Movies:

Antarctica: A Year on Ice (2013)

Cinderella (2015)

Coherence (2013)

Furious 7 (2015)

Lucy (2014)

Royal Deceit (1994)

Shaft (2000)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

The Congress (2013)

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

The Two Faces of January (2014)

Woman in Gold (2015)

I’m so behind on new releases reviews, I’m more caught up on writing the ones I saw on rental. I have both The Congress and Shaft reviews done in my draft folder, but I’m planning on writing my review of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Woman in Gold this weekend. I enjoyed both though neither is far from perfect, but I think the casting of three of my favorite Dames: Judi Dench & Maggie Smith in Marigold Hotel, and Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold made me like ’em more. Well, I saw Furious 7 on IMAX last night and here’s my initial reaction:

Rewatches:

Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Mansfield Park 

BBC’s North & South (2004)

BBC’s Jane Eyre (2006)

Movies of the Month

MarchMoviesOftheMonthI can’t pick between these two, so it’s a tie! I’ve been lucky in picking my Blindspot films as Wings is yet another classic that lives up to the hype… and then some. As for Cinderella, well what can I say? I enjoyed it and it’s definitely a movie I’d add to my collection once the Blu-ray is released.


Hope you enjoyed today’s post… stay tuned for our list of ‘Perfect Cinematic Moments’ sometime tomorrow!

 

Weekend Roundup: Coherence (2013) Review

Happy Monday everyone! Well, in case you noticed, I haven’t been blogging much lately as I’ve been sick with a stubborn cold for over a week now. One of my coworkers apparently got pneumonia and he has to be off work for a whole week. So just for precaution, I was at urgent care Thursday night for 3.5 hours checking to make sure I don’t have it. Well now I’ve passed on my cold on to my hubby, so we’re both sick during one of the warmest and gorgeous Minnesota Spring :(

Well suffice to say, I didn’t really get much blogging done, but I did get to rewatch Stardust last night which was more fun than the first time I saw it. Boy the cast is really amazing in that one and they’re all fun to watch. Interesting to see baby-faced Charlie Cox is playing Daredevil and in the beginning of the movie he had a fight with another British cutie Henry Cavill aka Superman ;)

I also saw two sci-fi movies from 2013 this weekend. Here’s a review of one of them:

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Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

This movie came highly recommended from my husband’s coworkers and I have to say the premise sounds intriguing. It starts with a woman driving in a car whilst she’s on the phone with who appears to be her boyfriend, then when she hangs up, the phone suddenly cracks. Does the comet passing overhead have something to do with it? Well, that’s the question everyone, both on and off screen, are wondering about.

I wish I could get into the story more but the camera work is so nausea-inducing it’s hard to concentrate on what’s going on where you’re trying not to vomit. In fact I had to close my eyes several times to reduce my headache but the hand-held camera bounces around the entire time, blurring and focusing, zooming in and out, often so close you could practically see the actor’s pores. I don’t know why filmmakers think this found-footage style would add anything to the story.

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Now, even if the camera work weren’t an issue, I’m not sure that I’m all that impressed with this film. I’m surprised of the high rating to be honest. I mean yes, the story has potential and there are some really creepy and eerie moments, but overall it’s quite tedious. The strange happenings get weirder and weirder and the entire dinner party were gripped with paranoia and started freaking out. With the right cast, it might’ve been fun and amusing, but I find myself being irritated by most of the rather unlikable characters or trying to figure out where I’ve seen some of the actors before. I might’ve recognized one of them from Buffy but not sure about the rest.

It’s billed as a sci-fi thriller but it’s more of a drama as hardly anything happens, mostly people chatting during a dinner party. The third act is slightly more interesting when one of the characters realized what’s going on and decided to do something about it. The movie is only about an hour and a half long, though it felt slightly longer than that. The finale felt rather anticlimactic but by that point I was glad the film was over. I kind of think that the story might’ve worked better as an episode of Twilight Zone or something like that.

Now, given that this is a low-budget indie film, I don’t want to be too harsh on it as I think the filmmaker have potential and this story could’ve been quite gripping. Interestingly, writer/director James Ward Byrkit was the writer of the animated film Rango which I quite enjoyed. If only this film had a bit more wit and humor, perhaps it might’ve been more palatable.

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So what did you see this weekend? If you seen Coherence, curious to hear what you think!

Weekend Roundup & Kingsman: The Secret Service review

Valentine’s Weekend is awesome this year as it’s a company holiday on Monday for President’s Day, who doesn’t love a three-day weekend right? Hope you had a lovely V-day wherever you are. It was super cold Saturday night so we opted for some scrumptious Thai take-out and watched Nightcrawler, that’s the kind of perfect *night in* for us. I’ll have my full review of the Jake Gyllenhaal film but suffice to say it lives up to all the great reviews I’ve been reading.

It’s not surprising that the Fifty Shades movie shatters box office record, though it’s kind of sad such a movie is so wildly popular. There is no way I’d ever subject myself to what Aussie anchor Lisa Wilkinson calls ‘domestic violence dressed up as erotica’ and I’m convinced her review is far more entertaining that the film:


I re-watched two of my favorite period dramas, Belle and Pride & Prejudice, and my love for both films just keep growing. I did go to the cinema Friday night to see Kingsman: The Secret Service and here’s my review:

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I have to admit that the first time I knew about this movie was from this cool poster I saw at a local cinema. It has no info of the director nor the cast but the visual of an elegant closet is so Bond-like and ever so British. But by the time the trailer came out I thought it looked a wee bit silly, and so it wasn’t until the positive reviews coming out that I was excited to see it.

Well, the movie is VERY British indeed, both an homage AND a spoof to the 007 movies, and as a fan of the genre, that definitely appeals to me. Refined British gent Colin Firth plays as one of the Kingsman agents, Harry Hart, who’s as proper as he is bad ass. The first act was basically him recruiting a replacement for his fellow agent who died on a mission in the Middle East. Harry (aka Galahad) owed his life to Lancelot (another code name inspired by British Knights) and thus he felt compelled to recruit his friend’s teenage son, Eggsy (Taron Egerton). The film moved along swiftly and director Matthew Vaughn infused it with tongue-in-cheek humor and a huge dose of riotous fun from start to finish. The whole sequence at a ski resort is very Bond-like, but think Roger Moore instead of Daniel Craig in tone, complete with a gorgeous female assassin wearing razor-sharp blades as prosthetic legs.

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Apparently this was based on a comic-book written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons (the two also collaborated on Wanted). The story itself is actually pretty solid and not all about silly good fun. There’s a bit of a father/son bond between Harry and Eggsy, and a bit of a coming-of-age story in regards to Eggsy. During one of the intense Kingsman training, Mark Strong‘s character told him to ‘get rid of the chip on his shoulder,’ and Eggsy’s slowly coming into his own as the film progresses.

As the film’s master villain is Samuel L. Jackson, as internet billionaire Richmond Valentine that’s a heck of a lot more entertaining than Tomorrow Never Dies‘ lame media mogul Elliot Carver. He even has his very own henchwoman deadlier than Jaws & Oddjob combined, in the form of dark-haired beauty Sofia Boutella. Jackson is obviously having a good time playing Valentine. He speaks with an amusing lisp (which the actor apparently had in real life) and can’t stand the sight of blood. Of course he has to be some kind of a psychopath hellbent on *saving the planet* as it were, but in his own twisted way. It’s an interesting social commentary on how our addiction to our handphones just might lead us to our own demise. Apparently, the broadcast signal sent by Valentine to those hand phones cause people to become extremely violent.

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It’s yet another fun collaboration between Vaughn and Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class). This could very well be Vaughn’s version of a Bond flick, that is if the Bond producers would allow him to make a hyper violent R-rated film. I knew this would be violent but I didn’t know it’d be THIS violent, I mean there are some intense and extremely bloody fight sequences that made even John Wick seems tame. One sequence inside a church reminds me of this scene in 300 when Leonidas single-handedly fought all those Persians, but without the stylized slo-mo. I do think the foul language & violence are excessive, gratuitous and more graphic than it needs to be, even if the fight sequences are well-styled. There’s one crazy head-explosions scene that’s absolutely bonkers, set to the Pomp and Circumstance Marches no less! You can’t help but laugh in its absurdity and the fact that the filmmakers had the balls to do it. SPOILER ALERT: We’ve seen plenty of scenes of the White House exploding on screen, but never the Commander in Chief himself, especially one who is still in power!

I think what makes Kingsman works is its self-awareness and that it doesn’t to be a heavy movie. It’s ‘boys just wanna have fun’ type of flick, packed with wit, dry humor and of guns & gadgetry. The set pieces are great to look at, especially the Kingsman headquarter that resembles Drax’ mansion in Moonraker. And of course, those sleek, sharp suits that’s practically a character in itself. I saw Sam Jackson in a talk show the other day wearing one of the Kingsman menswear line that’s crafted especially for the film, dang that is some exquisite tailoring. It was fun seeing Mr. Darcy being so ridiculously bad ass here. I read that Colin Firth did most of his own stunts, which is quite impressive and somehow he still looked quite elegant doing it. “Manners maketh man” is his motto after all. I quite like newcomer Taron Egerton here as well, I actually think he might fit the role better than Kick-Ass’ star Aaron Johnson who was offered the role initially. It’s always nice seeing the always-reliable Mark Strong having a bit of fun here and there are also some amusing cameo from Mark Hamill and Michael Caine.

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Overall it’s definitely a fun spy flick that works in a guilty pleasure kind of way. Kingsman is gleefully over-the-top, relentlessly boisterous and unapologetically un-PC. If you’re a fan of Vaughn’s or Guy Ritchie movies, you should enjoy this entertaining twist of the spy genre. Though the ultra violence and some offensive content is definitely not for the faint of heart.

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So what did you see this weekend? If you’ve seen Kingsman, what did YOU think?