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

EndofTourQA

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.

2015BlindSpot

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?

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

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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).

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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) 

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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!

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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.

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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

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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:

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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?