Monthly Roundup & Favorite Movie of SEPTEMBER 2014

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Welcome to October, folks! Autumn is officially here, though yesterday morning felt like Winter with temp in the 40s already, ugh. Autumn in Minnesota is rather unpredictable. We went from mini dress + sandals weather to jacket + boots in the span of 18 hours! I sure hope we still get some Indian Summers in October though, fingers crossed.

It’s yet another slow month for press screenings for me. Either the timing doesn’t work out or I’m simply not interested enough in seeing them. I also didn’t watch a lot of new stuff, but did see a lot of old favorites, some are Toby Stephens-related [natch!] But hey, October is TCFF month so there’ll be a heck of movies to watch this month, yippee!!

Posts you might’ve missed:

Blogathon:

Fisti Recastathon: Recasting 3 Oscar-nominated roles w/ 3 actresses of color

New-to-me Movies/TV:

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)

Gotham Series – Pilot 

Ladies in Lavender (2004)

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The main draw for me was of course the two female leads. I LOVE seeing real-life Dame BFFs Judi Dench and Maggie Smith together on film, and they played sisters in this one. Their lives was turned upside down when a mysterious foreigner washed up on the beach of their 1930’s Cornish seaside village. Daniel Brühl played the young stranger whom Dench became infatuated with. It’s a sweet and touching film, though there’s a 30+ age gap between Dench and Brühl, it’s not at all creepy and their bond is more of a soulful nature. The pace is a bit on the slow side though, but the actors were able to keep my interest. There’s drama with a bit of mystery here as Brühl‘s character befriends a Russian woman, played by Natascha McElhone. Game of Thrones‘ actor Charles Dance actually directed this one and I think he did a great job! There’s gorgeous violin music here too, courtesy of Joshua Bell, though Brühl did a convincing job pretending to be a maestro violinist. (3.5 out of 5)

Beginners (2010)

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I’ve been wanting to see this for ages, glad we finally did. It’s quite a moving story about father/son relationship, and how a young man named Oliver deals with his dad, Hal, coming out as gay AND he also has terminal cancer. The story weaves back and forth between the time they spent together and the time following Hal’s death. I thought all the relationships presented in the movie was dealt in a touching, funny and poignant way. Christopher Plummer won an Oscar for his performance and rightly so. But I have to say Ewan McGregor‘s sensitive performance was terrific as well, and so was Mélanie Laurent and Goran Visnjic in the supporting roles. (4 out of 5)

September Blindspot: Double Indemnity (1944)

Rewatches:

Favorite Movie Seen in September 2014:

This is an easy pick for this month. It’s definitely going to be on my Top 5 Favorite Blindspot films of the year. It’s my first viewing of Barbara Stanwyck but certainly won’t be the last! I need to check out more Billy Wilder’s work, too!

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What I’m looking forward to in October:

TCFF2014bannerOctober is always an exciting time for me because of TCFF. Hope you’ll stay tuned for the coverage and reviews!

What you won’t see here this month is any kind of horror/slasher marathon of any kind. I’m not a fan of that genre nor do I generally celebrate Halloween, so this site will remain relatively horror-free.


So, what movies did you get to see in September and which one is your favorite?

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A lovely weekend in the Big Apple + Thoughts on 2014 Les Miz on Broadway

Hi everyone! I’m back. Well, s-l-0-w-l-y. I was blissfully *disconnected* for about 5 days, other than checking news on my iPhone occasionally, I didn’t write or visit any blogs at all. It felt pretty good actually, I guess I was feeling a bit burned out so that was a much-needed break.

Well, I didn’t see any movies at all this weekend. I don’t usually go to the cinema when I’m out of town. Not sure why I just prefer spending my time seeing the place I’m visiting, but of course I made time to see a show since we stayed near the Theatre District.

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Can you believe it I never actually saw Les Misérables until this weekend? I almost didn’t make it as TKTS ran out of tickets (only singles were available), but glad I persisted and went directly to the Imperial Theater directly. We ended up with one of the best seats ever, four rows from stage right in the center!

This play a re-imagining by the same producer who revamped The Phantom of the Opera, Cameron Mackintosh. I knew I had to see it the fact that Phantom himself is playing Jean Valjean! ;) Ramin Karimloo played The Phantom in both the West End’s POTO and its sequel Love Never Dies (which I reviewed a few years back). I LOVE his booming tenor as Phantom, and boy did he impress me once again as Valjean.

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Photos from Broadway.com – clockwise from bottom left: Ramin singing ‘Bring Him Home,’ Ramin as prisoner 24601, Building the Barricade scene, Marius & Eponine & Javert’s singing ‘Stars’

Ramin was a brilliant Phantom but I’d say his performance is even more electrifying as Valjean. His voice is just incredible from start to finish, but the ballad Bring Him Home is particularly moving. He’s definitely got stage charisma as well as the physicality and emotional gravitas to mesmerize an audience. Now I’m actually curious to see the film version and see how Hugh Jackman fares in the role of Valjean. Yep I haven’t seen the film either, believe it or not. From the trailer though, I definitely prefer Anne Hathaway’s performance to Caissie Levy as Fantine. I mean, I almost always cry whenever I hear her sing the iconic I Dreamed a Dream, but the stage rendition didn’t get me all emotional. My hubby joked that instead of Les Miserables, the way Fantine was portrayed here was less miserable :D

I like Earl Carpenter‘s voice and performance as Javert as well. Interestingly he had played Phantom before in the London production with Ramin as Raoul. I especially love the technique used when Javert threw himself into the Seine river. Overall, the male cast fared much better than the female ones. I’m not that impressed by all three main female characters (Fantine, Éponine, Cosette), both in terms of vocal and acting performance. The love triangle of sort between Marius, Éponine and Cosette fell rather flat, but I guess I wasn’t expecting high romance the way of Phantom & Christine in POTO.

So what’s the verdict? Well, despite some of the *flaws*, I enjoyed it tremendously. I certainly don’t mind seeing it again but only with Ramin as Valjean. He truly made the show for me and was always the highlight every time he appeared on screen. When he sang Bring Him Home, which is a prayer to heaven to save Marius, it’s as if he lifted the entire production to a whole new heights with his soulful and rich rendition that gave me goose bumps!! I’d think that any other production I’d see without him would be slightly less epic.

Check out the trailer below:

A Fab Weekend in the Big Apple

Well, the rest of the time we just did the tourist-y thing as we’ve got the NYC Pass. But of course we had to make a stop at Dominique Ansel bakery for their famous Cronuts [croissant donut in case you didn’t know)! We got there at 9 right as they opened but still had to wait an hour as they only allowed 20 ppl in at a time and there were about 3 times the number of people in line by that time! It was well worth it though, YUM! Thank the Lord for the fantabulously sunny weather. It only rained on Saturday which wasn’t a total wash-out, and the rest of the time we’re treated to a gorgeous & warm weather!

Ok folks, that’s it from the NYC trip. I’ll return to my regular blogging schedule later this week, starting with posting my interview with a cast member from Starz’s Black Sails, South African-based actor Sean Cameron Michael. So stay tuned! :D


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Weekend Roundup: TCFF Sneak Peek, a French comedy & the Great Gatsby

Happy Sunday everyone!

Well it was a rather packed weekend starting with the a TCFF Insider Series event on Friday night. It was the perfect venue for early September as a touch of Autumn filled the air as we gathered poolside at the University Club in St Paul on top of Ramsey hill, whilst sipping cocktail & munching delicious hors d’oeuvres.

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We watched a compilation of 12 trailers of some indies/docs/features films that’ll be showing at the film fest in mid October. One of the features are already on my most-anticipated Fall movies list, yay! I can’t tell you yet which films are playing as details are still being finalized, but let’s just say I’m super excited!

Well I only got to see two movies this weekend. Somehow my hubby and I have been in the mood for French comedies lately. Last week we saw The French Minister, well this weekend we saw…

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

I’m not always a fan of Luc Besson movies but this one turns out to be entertaining. It’s got a bit of Indiana Jones/The Mummy but with a female heroine instead. But this movie is more of a zany fantasy-comedy with some laugh-out-loud moments involving mummies being brought back to life. Louis Bourgoin as the protagonist is fun to watch. She reminds me a bit of Katherine Heigl with dark hair but with more spunk and likable presence. Mathieu Amalric (who I remember as the villain in Quantum of Solace) has a small role but entirely unrecognizable here under heavy *ugly* makeup.

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The movie is loosely based on a French comic of the same name that takes place in in 1910s Paris which features some gorgeous scenery of the city of Light. Some of the movie’s more fun and fantastical part involves a large Pterosaurs that hatched when a Professor uses a telepathic technique. The CGI looks pretty good and definitely enhances the fantasy element of the story. I was quite surprised however, that the reason for all those adventures Adèle went through turns out to be quite a heart-wrenching, albeit there were some creepy moments involving Adèle’s sister. Besson made some hilarious *historical* reference as to the origin of the pyramid in front of the Louvre, though the cliffhanger involving a doomed ocean liner is rather odd.

Overall I enjoyed it, I think if you like the two action-adventure movies I mentioned above, you might enjoy this one too.

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Sunday night is usually reserved for some Toby Stephens watching and this time I chose this TV Movie of …

The Great Gatsby (2000 TV Movie)

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I’ve seen this movie three times so far and I enjoyed it every single time. Sure it didn’t have the lavish style of Baz Luhrmann’s version nor its budget to depict the lavish, over-the-top parties in Gatsby’s house, but it certainly didn’t put me to sleep like the 1974 version with Robert Redford. I wish this adaptation had captured the manic energy of the roaring 20s though, even the music was a bit melodramatic. But the two performances, Toby as Jay Gatsby and Paul Rudd as Nick Carraway, won me over. In fact, just like in the 2013 movie, there’s more chemistry between Jay & Nick than Jay and Daisy.

Toby made for a charming & suave Gatsby, with that signature smirk of his and looking dapper in those tailored suits, but what I like about his performance was how emotional and real it was. The way he looked at Mira Sorvino’s Daisy made you believe he truly was infatuated with her, that he was besotted beyond reason. I’ve grown to like Rudd’s performance here as well as the story’s most relatable character. I’ve seen him mostly in comedies but he certainly had dramatic chops and he makes for a compelling and sympathetic narrator of the story. What’s more important than the visual style and costumes, which this adaptation lacked due to budget constraints, it does capture the tragic story of Gatsby and like Nick, I certainly was on Gatsby’s side.

Since I bought the dvd, it came with a great biography of its author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who undoubtedly has lived an intriguing life that rivals his most famous literary hero.

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Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. So what did you see, anything good?

Monthly Roundup & Favorite Movie of AUGUST 2014

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I can’t believe we’ve reached the ‘ber’ month already which soon will turn to ‘brrrrr’ months :( It’s really quite depressing to see fashion magazines AND stores are now full of sweaters and coats once again. I’m holding off on buying ANYTHING with long sleeves until at least end of September! [yes I'm in denial Summer is basically over].

Ok, on to the monthly recap!

It’s a rather slow month for press screenings as some of them were held in the morning or I’m simply not interested enough in seeing them. But I think the next few months will hopefully be a lot busier. August is definitely a sad month for film fans & beyond. We lost the great Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall and Sir Richard Attenborough :(

Posts you might’ve missed:

Blog Relay & Blogathons:

That last blogathon was a lot of fun to work on all weekend and I REALLY took my time writing and finding photos of Toby Stephens ;) Speaking of the handsome devil, I started August by finally catching up with Noël Coward’s Private Lives starring well, you know, which I enjoyed tremendously!

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New-to-me Movies:

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Into The Storm (2014)

Zodiac (2007)

Aug Blindspot: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
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There’s nothing amazing about this one, in fact I’m glad I never bothered seeing it on the big screen. I didn’t care for the Peter-Gwen romance and the villains are laughably bad. Dane Dehaan was okay before he turned into Green Goblin, blech (2 out 5)

Enemy (2014)
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I expected this one to be a weird film and it certainly was. It’s not as disturbing as I thought but it’s definitely a strange film, though the story itself isn’t that groundbreaking. People with arachnophobia should steer clear of this movie though. Jake Gyllenhaal is good playing a dual role, but the pace is far too tedious for my liking. (3.5 out of 5)

Gambit (2012)
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Ok so I’ve been warned by the terrible 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but I figure a movie starring Colin Firth and Alan Rickman (one of my fave actors ever) in a script written by the Coen Brothers can’t be THAT bad. Alas, despite some comic moments (mostly from Firth in a slapstick mode), there’s very little to recommend this one. Plus Cameron Diaz is as annoying as ever here. (2 out of 5)

The French Minister (2013)
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We’re in the mood for a comedy Sunday night and the trailer for this one piqued our interest. It’s similar to In the Loop but set in France instead of England, with a heck of a lot less swearing. I think it was pretty hilarious and the main actor who plays the Minister’s speech writer, Raphaël Personnaz, reminds me a bit of Jason Bateman with his constantly baffled expression. Highly recommended if you’re in the mood for a zany foreign comedy. (4 out of 5)

Rewatches:

Favorite Movie Seen in August 2014:

This is an easy pick for this month. Though I’m not in love with this movie as most people are, I still think it’s a fun & enjoyable comic-book flick with an absolutely awesome soundtrack. I definitely will rent this later when it’s out on Bluray!

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So, what movies did you get to see in August and which one is your favorite?

Weekend Roundup – ‘Sin City: A Dame To Kill For’ review

Happy Monday everyone! It’s a sweltering HOT Summer weekend and those who know me well know I’m not a big fan of heat and humidity so I actually spend a lot of time indoors and got to see quite a lot of new movies as well as rewatches.

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You could say it’s a pretty eclectic weekend viewing given the variety of movies we saw the past four days. On Friday night we ended up watching The Amazing Spider-man 2 [which wasn't at all amazing], the psycho thriller ENEMY with Jake Gyllenhaal [as weird as I had expected], and The Philadelphia Story for this month’s Blind Spot. I also rewatched my old fave The Phantom of the Opera, yep the movie that made me fall hard for Gerry Butler oh so many years ago.

I didn’t go to the cinema this weekend, but boy seems that lots of people went to see The Guardians of the Galaxy again as it’s now back on top with $17 mil, beating all the new releases, including Sin City: A Dame to Kill For which bombed big time with only $6 mil, ouch! Well, having seen it, I really think this sequel is utterly unnecessary and after nine years, it seems much too late for a follow-up. Here’s my review:

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I was curious to see this one mainly because of the striking visuals, which was pretty much all I could remember from the first film. That, and how cool, sexy and mysterious Clive Owen was and the stylized brutal violence, especially the bits involving Elijah Wood in a role as far away as Frodo as it could get. This time Frank Miller is back in the directing chair with Robert Rodriguez.

This time, we’ve got Josh Brolin as Owen’s replacement in the role of Dwight, a pity as Brolin doesn’t come close in terms of cool factor as the brooding, hunky British actor. Well, the same could be said about the movie as a whole. The novelty factor of the color palette of black & white with a touch of red is wearing thin, plus the plot is even thinner this time around, chock full of clichéd dialog that ultimately renders the whole thing pointless.

The tagline refers to the main character in one of the four entwined story lines, and admittedly, it’s the more intriguing one simply because of Eva Green. Oh how I’d have loved to have seen her on screen with Clive Owen, she’s my favorite Bond girl and Owen’s an actor who’d make an awesome 007. In any case, Green plays a femme fatale type role in which she played as effortlessly as she ditched her clothes in the film. Being French she’s clearly comfortable with nudity. The stylish lighting and camera angle captured her allure beautifully as she devoured every scene she’s in with aplomb.

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The rest of the story lines are pretty boring by comparison, my least favorite is the one involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt as he seems miscast in the role, especially against Powers Booth who fits the noir genre perfectly. He’s quite sinister here with his deep, gravely voice, but his character is as one-dimensional as the rest. The father/son story is nowhere near as clever or intriguing as it wants to be. Jessica Alba reprises her role as Nancy and with all of her gyrating body as a stripper, she is just so lightweight that she comes across so ho-hum next to Eva Green. Mickey Rourke’s back again as Marv, perhaps the film’s comic relief, even in the most violent parts of the movie.

The movie is only 1 hr 42 min long but it started to drag pretty quickly. The stylized violence and all that nudity + sex scenes felt more like a gimmick that became more ho-hum as the movie progressed. As I came out of the theater I thought, it took them 9 years to come up with THIS? [shakes head] Despite the beautiful 3D, the film falls exasperatingly flat. Proof that visual flair alone doesn’t make a movie.

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So that’s what I saw this weekend folks, what about you? Seen anything good?

[Slow] Weekend Roundup, X-Men 2 & Musings on Expendables 3

It’s been a slow weekend for me in terms of movie watching but a hectic one otherwise. My hubby & I hosted a potluck Saturday night which was a ton of fun. There was a ton of food as well, three different kinds of curry dishes, a Kim-chee dish, coconut rice, tofu w/ peanut sauce, etc. and I haven’t even talked about desert yet :D

Sunday afternoon I went to the second staff meeting for the fifth annual Twin Cities Film Fest! It’s coming up in less than two months (October 16!) and I’m waiting with bated breath which movies we’ll be getting this year! Film fans who live in the area, please consider supporting this amazing event tailored for cinephiles like you. We’ve got a special Member Drive where you can catch a sneak preview into films premiering at TCFF, see info below or click the graphic for more info.

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So this weekend I didn’t go to the cinema at all. In fact I only saw one movie and that’s a rewatch of X-Men 2. I was inspired by this Superhero Blog Relay last week, and the fact that it’s perhaps my favorite from the franchise before X-Men: Days of Future Past came along. I still loved it as much as I did before, perhaps one day I might do a full review of it.

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My favorite scenes are the Magneto prison escape, anything with Brian Cox as the villain William Stryker, and that awesome finale with Jean Grey turning into Phoenix. After seeing this, my hubby said how much he hated Brett Ratner for ruining her character in X-Men 3, especially after such a breathtaking cliffhanger!  There’s so much potential for her character arc that wasn’t explored well at all by that hack director. Heh, I sure hope he won’t ever be back working on another X-Men movie ever again… or any good franchise for that matter.

Quick notes on this weekend’s box office. WOW, the power of Bayhem is really something! Those Ninja Turtles won again, practically beating every new movies opening this week. Even those Geriatric action heroes in Expendables 3 can’t overpower those ninja turtles?! Only the Guardians of the Galaxy in its third week was a close match!

1. Ninja Turtles $28,400,000
2. Guardians of the Galaxy $24,735,000
3. Let’s Be Cops $17,700,000

Earlier this year, I asked if people still love geriatric movie stars blowing stuff up in action flicks. Majority of the commenters said yes, they still do love ‘em aging stars, but maybe not enough to see ‘em on the big screen?

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Expendables 3 made only $16 mil, which was only about half of what the second movie made two years ago. Hmmm, so maybe this franchise is on its last leg eh? Same could be said about most of the cast anyway. Really, Sly should stop now anyway, I mean stretching this bombastic shoot-em-up party to a trilogy is already well, quite a stretch as it is. But what I didn’t know until an hour ago was that apparently the entire movie got leaked online three weeks before its release. According to Variety, as of July 27, there’s been 1.13 million illegal downloads of Expendables 3 worldwide!!

Though I hated the first movie, and I’ve only seen the Chuck Norris part of the 2nd movie, part of me actually still curious to check this one. So *maybe* I’ll go to a matinee showing ;) After all Wesley Snipes is back! I’m curious to see this just for him, plus we’ve got Harrison Ford & Mel Gibson!

This week I’ll be going to Sin City 2: Dame to Kill For screening on Tuesday. Boy it’s been almost a decade since the first movie was released. I barely remember what it’s all about but I do remember liking the visual style.


So that’s it for the roundup. What did YOU see? Anything good?

[Eclectic] Weekend Roundup: Private Lives play, Starz OUTLANDER, Into The Storm & Zodiac

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How’s your weekend everyone? Did any of you see any new releases this weekend? I skipped the cinema again this weekend, but looks like Michael Bay wins again as his Ninja Turtles movie made $65 mil, ah geez! Well I guess it didn’t have much competition this weekend other than a couple of smaller budget films like Into The Storm  [mini review below].

On Friday I had a fabulous Movie Nite w/ two of my friends and FC contributors Becky & Ashley! We saw Toby Stephens‘ in Noël Coward’s Private Lives via Digital Theatre, which was as wonderful as I had thought it would be.

Check out the Digital Theatre trailer:

OMG, just when I thought I couldn’t love Toby more, his incredible performance here just prove how versatile and chameleon-like he is as an actor. He does this play the same time he’s filming his role as Captain Flint in Black Sails! I mean Noël Coward and pirates couldn’t be more different from each other, yet Toby inhabited both roles so perfectly that it was like watching two completely different actors!

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I love Anna Chancellor in this as well, both of them are fantastic in delivering the witty lines as well as performing the physical comedy required for the roles. They have an amazing chemistry as well, definitely one of the most fun plays I’ve seen so far, so bravo director Jonathan Kent! If only I had been able to see this LIVE on stage!

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After the play, we caught one episode of Starz’s new show OUTLANDER. Ashley’s already a big fan of the show and I’d be keen on watching more of this if I had cable! I mean the lush Scotland scenery is gorgeous, not to mention the hot men in kilts, he-llo Sam Heughan! ;)

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You already know I have a penchant for the Scots, and this kind of historical fantasy is so right up my alley. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Battlestar Galactica‘s producer Ron Moore is behind this. I LOVE BSG but instead of a space opera, we’ve got adventure + romance with time travel thrown in. The voice over narration is a bit excessive tho, but I’m still keen on watching the rest of the season when it becomes available.

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As for Into The Storm, aka Twister 2.0. I have to admit that initially I was intrigued to see this because of Richard Armitage in the lead role. Though you can’t really call it a lead role as all the human characters are dwarfed by [pardon the pun Thorin!] by the humongous monster tornado, or I should say tornadoes as there are a bunch of them popping up at a given time, and some of them are on fire [yikes!]

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Seeing this with Dolby Atmos sound [but sans 3D thank goodness!], it really felt like you’re in the eye of the storm and there’s this one scene where one character inside this Batman Tumblr-like vehicle called Titus is swept up into the biggest tornado ever. The brief floating moment felt as if he were flying inside that Titus, which actually looked pretty cool, but of course you know what happens next. What goes up, must come down, ouch! Aside from some exhilarating special effects though, there’s little to recommend it. Cliched script laden with clunky dialog, one-dimensional characters and cheesy human drama fit more for a Lifetime TV movie all play second fiddle to the storm scenes. Apparently screenwriter John Swetnam also wrote Step Up All In which also opened this weekend.

Sorry Armitage fans, I wish I could say that his presence saved this movie. Alas, I doubt ANY actor could elevate a role so poorly written. I’d say if you want to see his acting prowess, I’d rather watch his BBC shows like Spooks, North & South, Strike Back, etc. or if you’re lucky enough to see him live on the London stage in The Crucible, surely you’d see what he’s truly capable of.

Director Steven Quayle was the second unit director for Titanic and Avatar and clearly the visual effects stuff is his forte. For those who are curious about the SFX, it might be worth renting, or you could just rewatch Twister again. That 1996 movie might not be perfect either but at least the human drama was a little more engaging AND it had a sense of humor. Instead of flying cows, here we’ve got flying… airplanes?? Hmmm, it just didn’t have the same impact for some reason, no matter how realistic they made those storms to be.

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Now, I finally caught this David Fincher’s ZODIAC. I’ve heard great things about it but I just never got around to it for some reason. Well I’m glad I finally did. It’s billed as a crime thriller but it’s more of a slo-burn drama that focus on the lives of the detectives and newspaper folks who cover the serial killings instead of a straight whodunnit type film. It’s even more sinister the fact that this film was based on real events in the San Francisco Bay area, as the script was adapted from Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book of the same name. Graysmith is played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the film.

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At 157 min, I was a bit worried it would drag a bit but fortunately, under Fincher’s deft hands, even the slower moments are brimming with suspense. I like the psychological aspect of how the newspaper cartoonist became so obsessed with the case that affect his relationship with his family and co-workers. There are some gruesome violence in the first act but it’s thankfully not as terrifying as SE7EN, in fact, most of the film is more of a character study filled with a lot of dialog. I like this type of thrillers so it definitely kept my attention. Great acting from the tremendous cast too, particularly Gyllenhaal, Anthony Edwards and Mark Ruffalo as the cartoonist and two detectives, respectively. Gyllenhaal is one of those actors who’s growing on me as he seems to pick more interesting roles now after taking daft roles like Prince of Persia.

It’s too bad that this film apparently tanked at the box office. Heh, clearly people are more inclined to watch thrillers with a lot more action than an intelligent and immersive version like this one. Zodiac was thoroughly gripping — a superb direction from Fincher and aided by intriguing camera work and an eerie score.

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Well, that was my weekend folks! So what did you see, anything good?

Monthly Roundup & Favorite Movie of JULY 2014

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WHOAH! We’ve reached the last month of Summer already! Ok so September is still pretty warm but once we reach the ‘ber’ months, it’s all downhill from here :( Ok let’s not think about it for now. In a way I’m kinda glad Blockbuster Season is [nearly] over though. Though there are a few that end up in my Top 10 Fave of the year so far, there are still a lot I’m anticipating for the rest of 2014! I’d say, the best is yet to come and I sure hope there are a couple films I wasn’t anticipating that sneak in to end up being a pleasant surprise!

Ok, on to the monthly recap!

I finally got through season 2 of Downtown Abbey, yay! It’s really tough for me to be discipline with TV shows but I hope to get through all four seasons before season 5 starts in January. Oh man, soooo much drama in Season 2, but it ends on such a lovely & romantic note [swoon].

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Posts you might’ve missed:

Blogathon Relay:

New-to-me Movies:

Not a lot of rewatches or even new movies this month. Somehow there aren’t a lot of press screenings that I was interested in this past month, in fact I only went to two of them all month!

  • Snowpiercer (2014)
  • Dawn to the Planet of the Apes (2014)
  • The Guardian of the Galaxy (2014) – review coming soon
  • Torn Curtain (1965)  – review coming soon
  • Planet of the Apes (1968)
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    Thanks to my pal Ted for lending me the Blu-ray! I was curious to check this out as I really like the last two reboot films. Despite the dated visual effects, etc. it’s still entertaining and thought-provoking, and glad I didn’t know about the twist in the end as I really didn’t see that coming!
  • Purple Noon/Plein Soleil (1960) – July BlindSpot
  • Sex Tape (2014) – Ashley’s review
  • Jersey Boys (2014) – Sarah’s review

Rewatches:

Not a lot of rewatches or even new movies this month. Somehow there aren’t a lot of press screenings that I was interested in this past month, in fact I only went to two of them all month!

  • Gladiator (2000)
  • Bed of Roses (1996)
  • It Could Happen to You (1994)
  • Jane Eyre (2006 BBC miniseries)

Favorite Movie Seen in July 2014:

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This is an easy pick for this month. I’m hugely impressed with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and definitely will be seeing it again when it’s out on Blu-ray. It’s a technical and visual marvel but the story is engaging and heart-wrenching, it’s got all the ingredients that make a film epic and memorable. Hail Caesar!


So, what movies did you get to see in July and which one is your favorite?

Weekend Roundup: Farewell My Queen, Purple Noon & Wishing I were at San Diego Comic-con!

Well my weekend is pretty uneventful really. I didn’t even go to the cinema nor watched too many movies. Friday night was a fun Movie Night with my girlfriends, which we haven’t done in almost a year since one of them had a baby. We’ve decided on the movie weeks ago, Farewell My Queen, which is fitting since I’ve been obsessing over the French Revolution since my Paris trip in early June.

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The film focuses on the relationship between Marie Antoinette and one of her readers Sidonie Laborde during first days of the French Revolution. The whole movie takes place in Versailles which is beautifully shot. Now believe it or not, I have not seen a single movie about Marie Antoinette nor the French Revolution. Though the film looks authentic and well-acted, the film barely pays any attention to the real issues that led to the revolt. The Revolution only serves as a backdrop, focusing more on the obsession, loyalty and betrayal of the three main characters.

As I’m now watching Downton Abbey, the upstair/downstairs lives of the servants, courtiers and the royals in that lavish palace is fun to watch. The scene when the courtiers find out about the list of the 300 targets of the guillotine is pretty intriguing and you could really feel the tension brimming in that dark corridor. The performances are quite good, I’m especially impressed by Lea Seydoux as Sidonie, who’s really the lead of the film. She has a certain vulnerability about her that makes you sympathize with her right away, and she’s a stunning actress who definitely looks more interesting the more you look at her. Diane Kruger is quite effective as the Austrian-born queen, whilst Virginie Ledoyen is as beautiful as she is aloof, which is fitting as she’s the object of the queen’s affection. Overall though, the film is just ok, perhaps not the best films out there on the topic of the French Revolution, but it’s not a bad one to start with.

PurpleNoonCriterionFor my July Blindspot, I watched Purple Noon (Plein soleil) starring Alain Delon. I’ve seen the remake The Talented Mr Ripley years ago so I knew the gist of it but honestly I’ve forgotten most of the details from that one. One thing for sure Matt Damon is not nearly as appealing as Delon in the role of Tom Ripley, even though it’s funny that Delon barely spoke any English in this film despite being an American character.

Delon with his razor-sharp cheekbones and steely gaze possesses a certain coldness, that dangerous undercurrent beneath such an impossible good looks. I’ll save the full review until Tuesday but suffice to say I’m glad I finally saw this one. I’ve been wanting to see more from Delon after seeing him in a taciturn role in Le Samouraï.


Now, the rest of my weekend is filled with a lot of drooling over Comic-con in San Diego. My dear friend Melissa of Snap Crackle Watch was there with her girlfriend, lucky gal! Here’s her recaps – Part I and Part II. I was following her fun tweets all weekend, can’t wait to read her recaps whenever she gets around to posting it. Man, I could see why it’s getting more difficult impossible to get to SDCC, I mean the kind of films being covered there is incredible! Interstellar, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Batman vs Superman, The Hobbit 3, etc. Here are my favorite photos from the four-day festivities!

A bunch of trailers debuted at SDCC, but I refuse to post those grainy, shaky-cam versions shot by fans in Hall H. I’ll wait for the official one, thank you very much. But hey, the one I’ve been waiting for, Mad Max: Fury Road, has released its first trailer online!

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I didn’t see any photos of Tom Hardy so he might not have been at the Mad Max Panel but here’s the new trailer. Interesting to see him with his Bane-like mask, ahah. So far it looks very cool though I expect the second trailer to actually show more of the story than just a mash-up of action sequences in dystopian Australian dessert.


Well that’s my weekend roundup, folks. What about you, seen anything good?

Weekend Roundup: Catching up on Downton Abbey + a ho-hum Hitchcock film

Happy Bastille Day Monday everyone!

Man now I wish I were back in Paris again [sigh] So how’s your weekend? It was another glorious Summer day on Sunday, ahead of the Polar Vortex (or you can call it the cool Canadian air) that keeps temps only in the 60s today. Yep, I actually have to wear a light jacket today, heh.

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I guess he has every reason to feel triumphant

So it seems that a lot of you saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes this weekend. ‘Apes’ Goes Bananas says Box Office Mojo [though we never saw any of the apes actually ate a banana], and the mojo is definitely with director Matt Reeves as the sequel brought in a whopping $73 mil domestically, and it’s already over $100 mil internationally. It’s the only tentpole film opening this weekend so basically there’s no competition. Besides who in the right mind would want to see those dreadful robots over these intelligent & emotive apes?

Well, if you’ve read my review then you already know I LOVED it. I actually don’t mind renting that again when it’s out on Blu-ray, maybe a double feature w/ the 2011 reboot. I sure hope Reeves will be back at the helm for the third film, man it’s poised to be one heck of a sci-fi trilogy!

DowntonAbbeySeason2

My weekend viewing is mostly home cinema. After nearly a year, I finally caught up with Downton Abbey again. Yes I know, my TV viewing is quite pathetic, I’m still on season 2! I don’t know if I’ll finish all four seasons by year’s end but I sure will am gonna try.

Well, everything I loved about it that I wrote last year is still true. I love all the characters, there are a lot of them but even the minor characters like Mr. Lang is intriguing. Dame Maggie Smith still has the best lines, and I LOVE seeing dashing Iain Glen as a newspaper mogul Sir Richard Carlisle. It’s a testament to his versatility that he’s starring in Downton Abbey AND Game of Thrones around the same time, the two couldn’t be more different from each other.

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There are lots going on this season! What with Downton being turned into a hospital & all the intricacies that brings, Anna and Mr. Bates, not to mention the scandals of Lavinia and Sir Richard. Plenty of juicy scenes awaits!

***

As part of my Hitchcock catch-up, I also saw a lesser-known film Torn Curtain (1966) as part of this Hitchcock Blogathon by Rob & Zoe. I learned about the blogathon pretty late so the films are all picked over. Still I was curious to see this one because the premise sounded intriguing and so is the casting of Paul Newman + Julie Andrews. Heh, I wish I had picked another film, it was such a bore!

TornCurtainPoster

As I read the IMDb trivia, apparently Hitchcock himself didn’t like the film. So much so that he didn’t even want to appear in the trailer. He’s apparently unhappy with the screenplay and Newman’s performance but my main beef is with Julie Andrews’ casting. Well I’ll spare you the detailed review until August, but suffice to say I’d never watch it again.


Well so that’s my weekend viewing folks. How about you? Seen anything good?