January Viewing Recap, Quick Thoughts on SAG Awards + A New Crush

JanuaryRecap

Well, the first month of 2016 has come and gone. After two weeks Christmas break, work was quite hectic. Somehow I didn’t get as much time to write either, and it seems the closer my script is to *completion* the more I feel like rewriting. I suppose that’s what they say, writing is 90% rewriting.

In any case, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

(in order of viewing)

Rewatches

Belle (2014)

Anna Karenina (2012)

Sense & Sensibility 

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Notting Hill
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MOVIE OF THE MONTH

SicarioMovieOfTheMonth

I’m kinda late to the party but it’s easily the BEST film I saw this month. It would’ve made my top 10 of 2015 if I had seen it sooner.


SAG AWARDS

I didn’t watch it but based on the articles and tweets I’ve read, it seems that the big takeaway from the night is the focus on diversity, as was Sundance Awards the same night, which seems to sending a big message to the Academy. Idris Elba, who was overlooked by Oscars this year, took home two SAG awards, one for Beast of No Nation and the other for his TV work in Luther. (view complete SAG winners at THR), whilst similarly-named that also have a mostly-Black cast Birth of a Nation swept top awards at Sundance, winning U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award.

Glad to see the terrific ensemble cast of Spotlight won SAG, too. Woo hoo! As for Leo and Brie, methinks there’ll be a repeat at the Oscars, don’t you? Check out Brittani’s post on SAG winners.

 


Play it again Sam ;)

So I saw Pride + Prejudice + Zombies which I actually enjoyed quite a bit [review upcoming]. It was as entertaining as I expected, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I um, enjoyed seeing Sam Riley as the leather-clad, musket/samurai-wielding zombie killer extraordinaire Mr. Darcy!

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So yeah, suffice to say I’m besotted by this 36-year-old Yorkshire man ;)

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I’ve been familiar with him for a while but for some reason I hadn’t seen anything Sam’s done before (what a shame!) so I have a lot of catching up to do (yay!). So I saw Byzantium Saturday night, the Neil Jordan’s unconventional vampire drama that’s been in my Netflix queue for some time. Then Sunday afternoon I watched the sex-drenched road movie On The Road based on Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name.

The film is as aimless as the character but it was immensely watchable thanks to Sam’s narration with that irresistible raspy voice and soulful performance. He’s the character we the audience live vicariously through, as the film was seen through his eyes.

I can’t wait to catch up on more of his work, especially his breakthrough role Control about the UK band Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis.

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Well that’s my recap of January. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

November Viewing Roundup + What I watched during my hiatus

NovRecapHello hello! Miss me? Well I’m not exactly back yet, I’m extending my hiatus probably until after Christmas. I’ve been diligently working on my script daily and I don’t want to lose momentum. I might still do a post here and there if I have time and feel like doing it, so don’t forget me ;)

Well, we’ve been watching a ton of great movies, both new releases and rewatches, thanks to the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. Here they are in alphabetical order…

New Releases

  • Disney Short Films Collection
    DisneyShorts
    Worth seeing if you love Disney and short films. It’s a pretty eclectic collection and some of them you might’ve seen. The Little Matchgirl one got me bawling, it’s such a heartbreaking story. I remember seeing a stage adaptation of that as a kid and even that stayed with me for years!
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
    MockingjayPart2
    This was one of the craziest press screenings ever with thousands of people, mostly teens, lining up for hours at a local IMAX theater. But the movie was so ho hum, I could barely remember anything about it now and it was so darn predictable. It just reinforced me what a terrible actor Liam Hemsworth truly is and honestly I’m bored at seeing Jennifer Lawrence‘s face, which was practically in every single scene. It still pains me to watch the late Philip Seymour Hoffman though.
  • Legend

    If I were to review this movie, it’d just be a collection of pictures of how Bond-like Tom Hardy looked in most of the scenes, well when he’s playing Reggie that is. Ron, not so much. But he’s really the reason to see it, otherwise it’s a pretty standard gangster flick.

  • Mr Holmes
    MrHolmes
  • Night Owls
    NightOwlsmovie
    A witty indie comedy/drama that takes place over a single night. The dialog is sometimes raunchy, but there’s a genuine chemistry between the two leads and the script is refreshingly honest and has a natural flow to it. Definitely worth a look. Stay tuned for my interview with writer/director Charles Hood on Wednesday!
  • Spectre
    SpectreMovie
  • Spotlight
    Spotlightmovie
    This film about the uncovering of the sexual abuse scandal by Catholic priests in Massachusetts will certainly rile you up and stay with you for days. This fine ensemble cast certainly lives up to its stellar reviews. It’s a riveting, disturbing, and emotionally-gratifying from start to finish. Terrific script and top notch cast that’s thankfully NOT wasted. Definitely one of the best investigative journalism film of all time, right up there with All the President’s Men.
  • Trumbo
    TrumboMovie

    I LOVE films about Classic Hollywood and if you’re a fan of Bryan Cranston, then it’s an absolute must-see. He’s electrifying as Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood 10 screenwriters who were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.

Theater

CoriolanusTomHiddleston

I had the pleasure of seeing Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus during a National Live Theater presentation at a local cinema last week. It was a powerful and mesmerizing performance from the Shakespearean actor. I wish I could’ve seen it live on stage, which would’ve been amazing to watch considering how intimate the Donmar Theatre was, it seats only 250!

TV Series

Man in the High Castle (season 1)

MITHC

I have to do a whole post on this series as I have a lot to say about this Philip K. Dick’s adaptation. But for sure Rufus Sewell is one of the highlights here, if only the producers realized that and give him more screen time in future seasons.

Rewatches

I rewatched a ton of movies this past month, which turns out to be quite an eclectic collection now that I think about it. Hey, I love the action stuff as much as the romantic love stories ;)

  • Anna Karenina
  • Batman Begins
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Cinderella
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Not Another Happy Ending

 


Movie of the Month

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Well, that’s my November update. What about you, what’s your favorite film you saw last month?

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.

Sedona_moonpeek

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? 

Weekend Roundup + a preview of the TCFF 2015 film lineup

How’s your weekend everyone? It’s been quite a whirlwind one for me even with Friday off, as I pretty much spent most of Friday preparing for the filmmakers interview scheduled for all day Saturday. More on that in a bit.

In about a month, October 21 to be exact, another fun-filled film festivities will be underway. 11 days, nearly a hundred films, plus Midwest premieres, film educational panels, after parties, and more will pack the ShowPlace ICON Theatres at the West End Shoppes in St. Louis Park. I’m so excited for the new venue for our mixers (after party) which is just a few doors down from the theaters. The TCFF Preview Gala on Friday night took place in what used to be the Love Culture store, and the space is simply gorgeous!


On Saturday, I got a chance to chat with some MN-based filmmakers/actors/producers whose films will screen at TCFF.

Every year I’m thrilled to see such a great variety of films in the TCFF lineup. The trailers below are just a sampling of some of the trailers being shown at the preview night, ranging from studio features, documentaries, MN-made films as well as shorts.

I’m excited to see quite a few female filmmakers being represented this year: Patricia Riggen (The 33), Stéphanie Joalland (The Quiet Hour), Emily Ting (It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong), just to name a few, as well as Vanessa Horrocks (MN-made indie Keepsake) whom I got a chance to chat on Saturday. Apart from Riggen, all of these filmmakers are debuting their first feature film!

Check out some of the trailers below:

FEATURES

Brooklyn

Director: John Crowley
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Michael Zegen, Julie Walters

In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Ellis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries.

 

Youth

Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano

A retired orchestra conductor is on holiday with his daughter and film director best friend in the Alps when he receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform for Prince Philip’s birthday.

 

The 33

Director: Patricia Riggen
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Byrne

Based on the real-life event, when a gold and copper mine collapses, it traps 33 miners underground for 69 days.

 

The Quiet Hour

Director: Stéphanie Joalland
Cast: Dakota Blue Richards, Karl Davies, Jack McMullen

In the aftermath of an alien invasion, a feisty teenage girl sets out to protect her farm from human scavengers who will stop at nothing in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

 

 

It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

Director: Emily Ting
Cast: Jamie Chung, Bryan Greenberg, Richard Ng

An attraction forms when a Chinese American girl visiting Hong Kong for the first time meets an American expat who shows her the way, but timing may not quite be on their side.

 

Too Late

Director: Dennis Hauck
Cast: John Hawkes, Rider Strong, Crystal Reed

Told in non-linear fashion, TOO LATE explores the tangled relationship between a troubled private investigator and the missing woman he’s hired to find.

 

DOCUMENTARY

Jug Band Hokum

A 2015 feature-length documentary film by Jack Norton which follows the eccentric lives of band members competing in the annual Minneapolis Battle of the Jug Bands.

 

In Football We Trust

“In Football We Trust” captures a snapshot in time amid the rise of the Pacific Islander presence in the NFL.

 

SHORTS

Moving On

A short film written and directed by Marcia Fields & Mike Spear, is about what happens when you wake up to the news you need to move on and move out… at exactly the same time.

 

The Caper

Two women bond over dating fatigue and a love of film noir, created by the writer/director Matthew G. Anderson who made the Theater People web series.

….


Well, as far as weekend viewing in concerned, not much to report as we only managed to see one film, Star Wars: A New Hope. We’ve been planning to do a marathon of the original trilogy before The Force Awakens is released this December :D

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So what are your thoughts on these films? And did you see anything good this weekend?

Labor Day Weekend Roundup: a goofy comedy, a road trip doc + a fantasy romance

It’s been quite a nice and mellow three-day weekend for me… the calm before the *storm* as it were, as the later part of September is going to be a pretty busy one for me. Twin Cities Film Fest is just a month away, but we’ll get a preview of the film festivities this coming Friday with the Fundraising Gala. I have a friend from out of the country staying with us the following week and then we’ll be taking a trip to Sedona, AZ and hopefully meet up w/ my pal Cindy C.!

Well, a good part of my weekend is full of script writing… AND dreaming of Deauville — Deauville American Film Festival that is…

Of course THIS is who I’d most like to meet…

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One lucky lady got to meet my French crush, Stanley Weber

Anyhoo, I didn’t go to the cinema all weekend but I must say my home viewing can only be described as eclectic.

Zoolander (2001)

At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

ZoolanderFinally got around to seeing this movie. I’m familiar w/ the premise and it’s become such a pop culture phenomenon of sort that a sequel is in the works. I thought I’d watch it before it comes out next year. Crazy that it’s been 15 years since this came out and I think both Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson still look pretty much the same.

They’re both hilarious in this satire of the fashion modeling industry. There are actually some famous male models, like the outrageously gorgeous Tyson Beckford and Claudia Schiffer. In fact, this movie is worth seeing just for the cameo, esp. David Bowie! I expected it to be goofy good fun and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 

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Long Way Round (2004)

This documentary series follows actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on a motorcycle trip around the world. The two friends will travel through such places as Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Alaska, before finally ending the journey in New York.

LongWayRoundMy hubby was watching this when I went downstairs to our entertainment room and we ended up watching a couple of episodes. I thought it was fascinating AND quite hilarious as the Scottish actor and his buddy prepare to go on this crazy motorcycle journey around the world for three months!

They also interviewed their wives (as well as their parents) and their reaction of this trip. But the funniest bits are all the challenges of all the logistics and training (medical, even self defense) as they’d go into some dangerous territories like Ukraine.

Of course the main draw initially is the fact that Ewan is a big film star, but after a few minutes we forget about that as he’s such a real and down-to-earth guy and this film is as much about Ewan & Charlie’s friendship as it is about the motorbike roadtrip.

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The Age of Adaline (2015)

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A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After many solitary years, she meets a man who complicates the eternal life she has settled into.

I’ve been wanting to see this film for ages. There’s something about this romantic premise that beguilles me. I’m a huge fan of period dramas a la Jane Austen, so more on the old school romance so long as it doesn’t have the name Nicholas Sparks attached to it [shudder]. I have my full review ready so I’ll post that sometime this week.
….

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I also rewatched BELLE on Labor Day as I’m in the mood of period dramas. I absolutely LOVE this movie. I’ve seen it a dozen times and it gets me every single time… I have SO many favorite scenes from this film, I wish I could find the one where Davinier declared passionately, ‘I love her, I love her with every breath I breathe!‘ in that carriage [swoon] :P

But I also LOVE this scene between Belle and John… Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid are absolutely perfect together [le sigh]


Well, that’s about it for my weekend. How ’bout you? Seen anything good?

AUGUST 2015 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

August2015Recap

Well, we are officially entering the ‘ber’ month which means ‘brrrrr’ months are upon us. But I do love Autumn here in Minnesota though so let’s not think about Winter yet.

The highlight for me this month is that I’ve kept up on my script and it’s about 70% done now. I mean obviously there’s going to be a ton of rewrites and polishing but I’m just glad I’ve kept up with it almost daily, and thus I haven’t been blogging [and visiting others’ blogs] as much lately. In any case, I might blog even less in the future, but I don’t plan on giving that up completely, at least not yet.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Liebster Award

A Trio of Casting News
I’m Excited About

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

five_newtomeactors_2015Music Break: Pride & Prejudice and
Fave Scores from Dario Marianelli

Interview with the filmmakers of
NO ESCAPE: John Eric & Drew Dowdle

Blogathons

Against the Crowd:
a battle of two sword-n-sandals movies

The Five Emotions Blogathon

Thursday Movie Picks #56:
Alien Invasion of Earth

Reviews

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The Man From U.N.C.L.E

Dark Places [guest review]

The End of the Tour

Solomon Kane

Casting By Documentary

No Escape

New-to-me Movies:

Hitman: AGENT 47 (2015)

Seeking A Friend For the End of the World (2012)

La Banda Picasso (2012)

The Last Flight (2009)

Two Days One Night (2014)

I tried to watch CHERI with Michelle Pfeiffer but just couldn’t finish it. I just think Rupert Friend is so awkward in the title role. Heh, his character is supposed to be a young French Casanova, wish they had cast Stanley Weber who’d be more age appropriate AND perfectly seductive in the role.

Rewatches:

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Pride & Prejudice TV miniseries (1995)

Persuasion TV movie(2007)

Sword of Vengeance (2014)

Top Secret! (1984)

Hot Fuzz (2007)

TV Shows:

Dancing on the Edge

Movie of the Month

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I had been waiting to see Two Days One Night for ages. I thought this was going to hit Netflix back in June. Well, it was well worth the wait. It’s such a compelling human drama, right from the start the story truly sucked you in and Marion Cotillard gave such an amazing performance. It’s an understated role and they made her look so plain her as a young Belgian mother Sandra who discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus in exchange for her dismissal. So the title refers to the time she has to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.

This is the second film by the Dardenne Brothers‘ work after The Kid with the Bike and it’s definitely a superior one. It’s such a minimalist film in terms of style, the performances are naturalistic, but the story REALLY packs a punch. I was fully invested in the character’s journey and it really pays off in the end. It’s certainly one of miss Marion’s most astounding work in her already illustrious career. I can’t recommend this one enough folks, see it pronto if you haven’t already.

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

Weekend Roundup: Solomon Kane, Dancing on the Edge miniseries + Casting By doc

Happy Monday everyone!

Hope you had a nice weekend. It was a nice, mellow one for me, just enjoying the last few weeks of the fleeting Minnesota Summer. We had yummy Lebanese food for dinner and took a stroll by Mississippi River just before sunset… it was a warm night with a slight breeze. PERFECT.

My hubby took this on our stroll in St. Paul at dusk

My hubby took this on our stroll in St. Paul at dusk

I did fit in a few movies, one of them I’ve been wanting to see for some time…

SOLOMON KANE

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A ruthless mercenary renounces violence after learning his soul is bound for hell. When a young girl is kidnapped and her family slain by a sorcerer’s murderous cult, he is forced to fight and seek his redemption slaying evil.

I’m not going to review it again as my pal Becky has done a comprehensive review/tribute to the massively underrated sword & sandal film. She had the dvd so I saw it on Friday night at her place, and boy am I glad I finally did. I’ve been a fan of James Purefoy since his fearless performance in HBO’s ROME, and I’m constantly astounded why he’s not more famous than he is now. The man has the looks, talent, charisma, but maybe he lacks the one thing most stars have to have that they have no control over: luck.

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Director Michael J. Bassett and the producers had planned Solomon Kane to be a trilogy. It’s a bummer that it didn’t happen as it was a darn good film, it probably just wasn’t marketed very well. It’s got the swashbuckling action that looks gritty and raw with little CGI, and the supernatural elements of the story work for the adventure fantasy story. I find the story to be emotional engaging as well, especially between Solomon and the Puritan family led by the late character actor Pete Postlethwaite. English actress Rachel Hurd-Wood is quite good in a key role in the story, and it’s also got Max Von Sydow in a brief supporting role.

If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s definitely worth a rent.


DANCING ON THE EDGE miniseries (2013)

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A black jazz band becomes entangled in the aristocratic world of 1930s London as they seek fame and fortune.

I’m glad Netflix added this recently. I think I heard about it when Jacqueline Bisset won a Golden Globe for her performance, but I kind of forgot about it. But really, with a cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor AND Matthew Goode, I knew I had to see it.

I’ve only seen two out of the six episodes and I love it so far. The 30s jazz music is fantastic, but I like the glamor of the British aristocracy of that era and the mystery aspect of it that really sucks you in. There’s also the obvious racial issues given the Louis Lester Band is perhaps the first black band to ever perform for the British royal family. John Goodman has a key supporting role as an enigmatic American businessman, I can’t wait to see what he’s all about but he’s quite sinister.

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The set design and 30s costumes are beautiful to look at. It’s definitely an ear & eye candy + a gripping, historically-tinged story. Can’t wait to finish ’em all. If you’re looking for something to watch on Netflix streaming, can’t go wrong with this one.


CastingBy

This documentary focuses on the role of the casting director in movie making and particularly on Marion Dougherty. She began work in the late 1940s sending up and coming young actors to be cast in the then new medium of television. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the contribution on casting directors was recognized in film credits and even today there is no Oscar awarded for that role in filmmaking.

If you know me at all, you’ll know how much I’d love to be a casting manager. So naturally I find this documentary utterly fascinating. I talked about this briefly here, but somehow I just haven’t got around to seeing it. Casting is so crucial and can make & break a film, so people like Marion Dougherty is really an unsung hero in Hollywood.

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Anyone who loves movies should check out this HBO documentary, as it shows how some of Hollywood legends like James Dean, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, etc. get their start. There are also stories about actors getting second chances after a not-so-memorable first start, most notably from Jon Voight and Jeff Bridges. Some of the people interviewed include directors the likes of Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Peter Bogdanovich. It also proves that Michael Eisner is a jerk, I mean he’d rather have Suzanne Sommers over Meryl Streep??! Mel Gibson was ready to drop out of Hollywood and raise organic vegetables and beef cattle before Dougherty suggested him to Richard Donner for Lethal Weapon. She also told Donner about Danny Glover… “He’s black, so what?” – Y’see, the part wasn’t written for a black actor, so obviously miss Dougherty was far more progressive than most Hollywood folks.

There’s no Academy Award category for casting director, and so in 1991, there was a campaign started by a bunch of actors to get her an honorary Oscar. Well, the fact that women mostly make up the job of casting, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they’re overlooked in this male-dominated industry.

Thanks to filmmaker Tom Donahue for shining a light on this under-appreciated profession that’s so crucial in the filmmaking process. This documentary is available on Netflix Streaming, so definitely worth checking out!


Well, that’s my viewing recap. So what did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

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Weekend Roundup + The End of the Tour review

Happy Sunday all! Summer in Minnesota is fleeting so we try to do outdoor stuff as much as we can. Suffice to say we barely had time to watch any movie, we were too tired for home cinema but y’know what, we’ll have plenty of time for home movies later in the Fall & Winter.

I did get a lot of script writing done this week, which is always a GOOD thing. The highlight of my weekend was attending the MN Irish Fair at Harriet Island. MNIrishFest2015

We purposely got there a bit later in the day but managed to catch a couple of great Irish bands: Young Dubliners and Wild Colonial Bhoys. We even saw a booth selling some Outlander merchandise, complete with a poster of Jamie & Claire :D

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Last Thursday I went to a press screening of The End of the Tour at Mall of America, with actor Jason Segel in attendance for the Q&A afterwards. He was cordial and really fun to listen to. I didn’t know much about him but let’s just say I have a new respect for the actor.

He shared some tidbits about filming in Mall of America, and it’s interesting that the exact theater we were in is also the same one they filmed one of the scenes in the movie!

Here’s my review:

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I have to say I’m not familiar with the subject matter. I haven’t read anything by David Foster Wallace, nor did I know about David Lipsky’s book based on his interview with the famed author. The film opens with news of Wallace’s death, a suicide, which prompted Rolling Stone’s reporter David Lipsky to listen to the interview tapes and reminisce on the five-days they shared at the end of Wallace’s book tour.

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The film mostly takes place in flashback, which took place in 1996 after Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel Infinite Jest. The 1000+ page book takes place in North America dystopia, and deals with themes of addiction, recovery, entertainment and film theory, among others. It was Lipsky idea to interview Wallace and it certainly has become one of his most important reporting work in his career.

I must give kudos to director James Ponsoldt and screenwriter Donald Margulies for tackling such a challenging project such as this one. There’s not much happening in this film, mostly it’s just two people talking and so if you’re not engrossed in the characters’ journey from the start, most likely you won’t enjoy this film at all. Thankfully that’s not the case here and both Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg practically lost themselves in the role. Most especially Segel, who gained about 40 pounds to portray Wallace and he’s almost unrecognizable under that unflattering bandana.

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The film consist mostly of conversations between these two men, it certainly helps that there’s a convincing chemistry between the two actors. They seem to get along well and there’s a mutual admiration, but there’s also inevitable tension. Humor also plays a part in making the exchange fun to watch, especially the parts in Mall of America, one of which involves them watching the action movie Broken Arrow in the exact same theater I was sitting in.

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There’s something so natural in the way the dialog and scenes play out, as if the two actors have known each other for ages. It also feels as if we’re eavesdropping on their conversation at times, there’s a bit of a documentary feel to the way it’s filmed. For a film about a writer, and getting into the psyche of his writing process, I think the film did a wonderful job in inviting even non Wallace fan like I am to appreciate him for who he is. The existential quality of the conversation also offers interesting insights into what Wallace thinks about the entertainment world and fame.

I’m glad I got to see this film. As an aspiring writer myself, it’s always fascinating to get a glimpse of the life of a successful writer, and more importantly, what he thinks about such a success. If you’re slightly more familiar with David Foster Wallace than I am, then it’s a must-see. If not, it’s worth seeing to see comedic actor Jason Segel in a serious role, no doubt a career high for him that might even garner him some nominations come award season.

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So what did you see this weekend? Anything good?

JULY Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

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How in the world is July over already?!?! Seriously, this past month has been a total blur to me. I feel like I haven’t done anything worth writing about the entire Summer! I mean we’re finally gonna go for a bike ride outside of town with some friends, something we’ve been meaning to do since the beginning of Summer but just never got around to it, heh.

Well, the one thing I love about July was writing my birthday tribute to my beloved Stanley Weber and getting a thank you tweet! Yes I’m still giddy just thinking about it ;) On a related note, I finally got around to writing my first ever script. It’s going well so far, I just hope I can keep the momentum and actually FINISH it.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Supporting cast you wish got the leading role

Musings on the Han Solo spinoff &
who we’d like to see as young Solo

The Dream Vacation Blogathon

Favorite directing duos & their film(s)

Thursday Movie Picks: Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)

Music Break: Top 5 Fave Soundtracks from Henry Jackman

Thursday Movie Picks: Sequels

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

TIFF 2015 Picks

Reviews

Ant-Man (2015)

Cartel Land (2015)

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

ONCE (2006)

Self/less (2014)

Song of the Sea (2015)

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

Ondine (2009)

A Promise (2014)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Minions (2015)

What We Did on Our Holiday (2014)

Rewatches:

Sabrina (1995)

Clueless (1995)

Notting Hill (1999)

Not Another Happy Ending (2013)
I pretty much watch this one every other week, sometimes I just
have it running in the background whilst I’m working on
my laptop just to have Stanley to keep me company ;)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

TV Shows:

Saw one episode of BBC’s Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express

I’m currently juggling a few British series:
Downton Abbey | The Fall | Any Human Heart

Movie of the Month

MIRogueNationIt’s an easy pick this month. I absolutely LOVE this latest Mission Impossible movie, even more than the fourth one which was my fave until this one. I LOVE Rebecca Ferguson here, I’d love to see her replace Tom Cruise‘s Ethan Hunt for future MI movies! I mean if they can’t have a female Bond, why not have the protagonist of MI movies be a female spy?

I’ll be reviewing it this weekend, but for now, I’ll just say that ROGUE NATION is one of the most entertaining movie I saw all Summer and would likely end up on my top 10 of the year. There’s apparently plenty of juice left in the franchise!


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

Weekend Roundup: Quick thoughts on BBC’s The Fall, ONCE (2006) & Blindspot Series Update

Happy Monday all! Hope you had a relaxing weekend. I didn’t go to the movies but had time for some home cinema. My co-worker and I swapped dvds, I lent him Rocknrolla and he lent me ONCE, I think I got the better end of the bargain ;)

I saw Clueless on Friday and did this writeup on it yesterday, and also managed to see one episode of BBC’s The Fall. I’ve been curious about it for some time, partly curious to see if pretty boy Jamie Dornan actually have acting chops. I’ve only seen him in Once Upon A Time and he didn’t impress me there. Well he’s nice to look and he portrayed a sociopath pretty well, I kind of see why he was chosen as Christian Grey though I have no desire whatsoever to ever see it.

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Gillian Anderson is excellent as the detective, her British accent is very convincing too. So far the first episode is a bit on the slow side, though it’s interesting that the serial killer’s already known so it’s more of a psychological thriller from both the killer & the detective’s perspectives, not a who-dun-it type of thriller. Not sure I want to keep watching this series though, I might watch a few more episodes to see if it’s worth continuing. So far it’s not as good as Broadchurch so maybe I might as well continue with season 2.

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Before I get to my mini review of ONCE, I just want to give you a quick update on my Blindspot series. At this point I still have seven films to watch before the end of the year, but given that I want to have more time devoted to my script, I’m only going to watch half of that, not sure yet which one but I really want to see A Place in the Sun and The Big Sleep. I won’t have a Blindspot review this month, but hopefully later in August.

ONCE Well, as for ONCE, I’m glad I finally saw it! I saw Begin Again which was written/directed by John Carney a few months ago and loved it, so naturally everyone recommended that I checked out ONCE. I didn’t realize it was made in 2006, I thought it was released just a few years before Begin Again for some reason. It’s a much smaller film but has similar characteristics in that they feature some great music and centered an unlikely relationship between two musically-gifted people. Both also feature recording session scenes and a ton of great music!

I LOVE the naturalistic setting in Dublin, Ireland. I hadn’t heard of either Glen Hansard nor Markéta Irglová but apparently both of them are singer/songwriter themselves. It’s as if they’re playing themselves as Glen is Irish and Markéta is Czech, exactly like in the film. From the moment they met, there’s an effortless chemistry between them and you’re immediately swept up in their journey in realizing the dream of making a record. The music is absolutely fantastic… it proves that no matter what background you have, even if you’re not speaking the same language, music has a way to connect you in such a deep emotional level.

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I’ve heard the song Falling Slowly before and it’s even more beautiful now that I’ve listened to it in context of the story. But there are a few other wonderful songs I enjoyed, like When Your Mind’s Made Up and the one Markéta sang at the piano in one particularly heartfelt moment between the two protagonists. I have to do a Music Break post on this film real soon.

It’s a small film with a big heart. Perhaps it’s on the melancholic side but the story is bittersweet and romantic. I’ve always loved an unconventional love story and this one is un-Hollywood as it gets. I was quite engrossed in it that I didn’t realize until later than neither one of the protagonists have a name. They’re simply billed as Guy and Girl! It’s amazing that they have such a genuine emotional bond… as the title says, something THIS special must only comes once in a lifetime. But the film is something I would probably enjoy watching more than once.

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Excited for Mission Impossible: ROGUE NATION tonight, woo hooo!! In case you haven’t seen it, check out this featurette w/ Tom Cruise hanging off the side of an airplane. THIS is why you go see a Mission Impossible movie!


So that’s my weekend recap folks! How ’bout you? Seen anything good?