Five for the Fifth: APRIL 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

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

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

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

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

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

MarvelStudiosFilms

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

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

So how would you rank these 10 Marvel movies?

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

LockePoster

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

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

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


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

ChiwetelEjioforBONDvillain

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

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

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

EnemyOfManMovie

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

About these ads

FlixChatter Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

CapAmerica2Banner

It’s always nice when a movie lives up to one’s expectations, even better when it exceeds it. As a big fan of the first film, I’m already invested in the character of Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. I think director Joe Johnston did an outstanding job in introducing a superhero who’s not inherently cool like most of his peers, but his origins story has its undeniable charm and intrigue, not to mention that it perfectly sets up the larger universe of The Avengers. Naturally I was slightly dismayed that Johnston was replaced by a relatively *unknown* pair of directors, Joe & Anthony Russo have done mostly TV work, but as it turns out, I needn’t worry.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up where the first film left off and immediately hits the ground running. Literally. Cap and his future ally Sam ‘The Falcon’ Wilson (Anthony Mackie) *meets cute* during a morning jog near the Washington Monument. It’s a humorous scene filled with all kinds of patriotic symbolism and an efficient throwback to our formerly frozen hero adjusting to modern society, what with his notebook filled with pop culture references he’s missed out on and his ride Black Widow calling him a old fossil. It’s tough living as a man out of his time, the only place he’s most familiar with is the Smithsonian which puts the bygone era on display. The ideals Rogers fought for and believed in has been long gone. “S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the world as it is, not as we’d like to be!” Nick Fury tells him, and he’s given a tour to the monstrous helicarrier hangar that reminds me of the Shatterdome (Jaeger-making factory) in Pacific Rim.

CapAmericaWinterSoldierStills1

The conspiracy theory stuff harkens us to the 70s paranoia thrillers, which also borrows some themes from Minority Report when Cap quipped ‘I thought the punishment usually came AFTER the crime.’ Yet somehow the story feels so timely thanks to the Edward Snowden NSA scandal about how the Big Brother style government is still very much with us.

Fans of espionage movies like me would love the story arc here where Cap struggles with a moral dilemma and trust issues, but action fans should be pleased with the amount of exciting fight sequences, hand-to-hand combat, and one of the most relentless car chases in history! It’s an exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping scene of the geek-gasm variety. Nice to see Samuel L. Jackson given more screen time here, instead of merely showing up to berate the Avengers or give out orders. But he also gets to do his usual scenery-chewing best. The dynamic between Cap and Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson sporting a sleek new haircut) is fun to watch as well. They couldn’t be more different from each other. Cap with his straight-as-an-arrow sensibilities where he sees things as black or while, whilst ex-KGB Romanoff practically lives in a gray area all her life. It’s an unlikely Avenger-pairing, as she also volunteers to be his matchmaker, that works quite well here as she unrelentingly tries to brings Cap out of his shell. Anthony Mackie is delightfully charming as The Falcon, I secretly cheer every time he came on screen. The interaction between him & Cap provides some of the biggest laughs, but there are also moments that highlights our hero’s humanity.

I overheard someone complain right after the screening that there were too much drama and not enough action. Now I couldn’t disagree more with whoever said that, as I definitely think there’s a nice balance of thrilling action and engaging dramatic tension throughout. Even the decidedly quieter moments has its purpose, and without giving anything away, it’s one I was particularly looking forward to. Even during the most action-packed fight scenes, there’s emotional moments that keeps the blam, whack, pow punches from ringing hollow, especially the moment Cap realizes who The Winter Soldier turns out to be. The action stuff looks quite spectacular all around, which I’ve come to expect from the $170 mil budget. I’m glad to say I didn’t get dizzy from slo-mo or shaky-cam techniques and there’s just the right amount of CGI as the fight sequences felt pretty realistic.

CapAmericaWinterSoldierStills2

Kudos to Chris Evans for truly bringing the character to life in such a compelling way. He seems far more confident in the role as well as an actor, which makes Steve Rogers’ journey all the more intriguing. He comes across as someone who’ve seen a lot and been through a lot, a broken-hearted man who somehow doesn’t become embittered by it all. He’s not just a hero because he’s a super soldier with perfect human specimen physique, but it’s his unapologetic goodness and abiding principles that makes him truly worth rooting for. That said, we still get to see plenty of cool scenes that shows what Cap is really capable of physically that’s amplified even more than the first film. He and his seemingly indestructible shield are truly pushed to their limit this time around. There are lots of action-packed scenes worth rewinding for once I get my hands on the Blu-ray!

The supporting cast is first rate all around. Robert Redford effortlessly adds gravitas as the S.H.I.E.L.D. big honcho Alexander Pierce. It’s shrewd casting given how a few of his early espionage films inspired the screenwriters of this film. He serves as a nice contrast to the more larger-than-life villain [but perhaps deemed too cartoonish] of the first Captain America film. Nary of a maniacal laugh or anything of the sort, Pierce is quite a sinister figure. There is one particular scene in his house that actually makes my blood run cold. Sebastian Stan gets most of the action scenes and perhaps not as much of the dramatic stuff, but I do think he has the chops. That’s a good thing as the actor signs multiple-picture deals with Marvel as the inevitable successor of the franchise. I also have to mention Frank Grillo who elevates his character way above the typical thug-ish bad guy. He’s one reliable character actor who I wish would get more prominent roles in Hollywood.

CapAmericaWinterSoldier_Redford

I think it’s brilliant that this sequel is set in the political thriller genre and not focusing too much on the fish-out-of-water cliché of Cap’s existence. I applaud the studio for making bold choices in the plot, which has been aptly called ‘a game changer’ in terms of its effects to the future Marvel movies. The story gives a nod to his past but also boldly moves the story forward.  I feel that there’s truly something huge at stake here, not just for Cap but for everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Final Thoughts: Thanks to screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and the spirited direction of the Russo brothers, this has become my favorite Marvel stand-alone feature and Cap my favorite Marvel superhero. It’s nice to see that the story and character still take center stage here and not get drowned out by ultra-bombastic and unnecessary action scenes. I’m thrilled that the Russos will be back for the third film. I think by the time that one wraps, the Captain America franchise could be the most cohesive one as its storyline flows as one unit from one to the next. Hail to the Cap!

four and a half stars out of five
4.5 out of 5 reels

P.S. Make sure you stay until the second post-credit scene. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!


What do you think of this movie? Did you like it more or less than I did?

MSPIFF 2014 (April 3-19) The films I’m excited to see!

MSPIFF_StoneArchCinema

Photo courtesy of mspfilm.org

Another film-filled event is just around the corner! I really feel so privileged to live in a city where we’ve got not one but TWO film festivals, one in Spring and the other (TCFF) in the Fall. Founded in 1962, The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul is Minnesota’s foremost film exhibition organization, and a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Presented every April, The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) is the largest spring arts event in the region, showing more than 200 films from some 60+ countries each year! Check out the awesome MSPIFF official trailer done by Crash + Sues & audio by Echo Boys Music:

On Thursday April 3, MSPIFF will host its Opening Night Presentation with a special screening of Amma Asante’s BELLE, followed by its opening night party at the Festival Pavilion across the street from the St. Anthony Main Theatre.

Unfortunately I can’t make the opening night festivities, though I’ve been looking forward to seeing Amma Asante‘s period drama Belle for some time. I’ve even posted the trailer here back in November, but here it is again:


More than 200 films are presented this year from over 70 countries, and it’s quite a lineup! I’ve picked up my Press Pass as well as about a dozen tickets earlier this week, woo hoo!

MSPIFF_PressPass

Here are the movies I’ll be seeing in the next three weeks:

FEATURE FILMS

Half of a Yellow Sun
Nigeria | 106 min | English
Directed by: Biyi Bandele
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton

Joe
United States | 117 min | English
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: Nic Cage, Tye Sheridan

The Grand Seduction
Canada | 115 min | English
Directed by: Don McKellar
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch

Words and Pictures
United States | 111 min | English
Directed by: Fred Schepisi
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Clive Owen

Breathe In
United States | 98 min | English
Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones

A Thousand Times Goodnight
Norway | 111 min | English
Directed by: Erik Poppe
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The Last of Robin Hood
United States | 88 min | English
Directed by: Richard Glatzer
Starring: Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon, Dakota Fanning

No trailer available yet

No trailer available yet

I REALLY want to see Locke, which is a one-man show with the charismatic Tom Hardy (also starring Ruth Wilson), but I might not be able to see it as it conflicts with the Transcendence screening. If there’s an additional screening for that one, I’ll definitely check this one out! Here’s the trailer:

 

DOCUMENTARIES

Beyond the Edge
New Zealand | 90 min | English
Directed by: Leanne Pooley

Brave Miss World
United States | 90 min | Hebrew
Directed by: Cecilia Peck

Charlie Victor Romeo
United States | 90 min | English
Directed by: Robert Berger

Google and the World Brain
United Kingdom | 90 min | English
Directed by: Ben Lewis

 

I’m also thrilled to see my friend (and FC contributor) Conor Holt’s sci-fi short film A BETTER LIFE screening on Thursday, Apr 10 | 6:30 PM.

ABetterLifeShortFilm

It’s one of my favorites at TCFF last year, you can check out my mini review of it here.


AdmitOneTicketGet your tickets and MSPIFF passes before they sell out!

$12 General Admission | $10 Film Society Members* | $6 Students w/ Student ID

The MSPIFF website is a great resource for the lineup, schedule, tickets, etc. You can download the 2014 Official Guide which has all the details about each film featured at MSPIFF.


What do you think folks, does any of these films interest you?

Monthly Roundup & Favorite Film of March 2014

March2014Recap

Welcome to April everybody! I finally got my flip-flops out yesterday for the first time in … well I can’t even remember! Temperature actually reached 60˚F on Sunday! I saw a bunch of people in shorts either jogging or on their bikes. It’s just a tease though as we’ll be back in the 30s again tomorrow, complete with SNOW! :(  Thank goodness blogging is something I can do indoor or there’d be only like two posts a month, ahah.

Now, before I get to the recap, I just want to make a small but significant announcement:

APRIL FOOOOOOLS!

This past weekend I rewatched The Notebook again (in tandem with Drive) and now I’ve fallen madly in love with Ryan Gosling! YES I know, I know, better late than never right? I felt like I have been missing out that I have not blogged about the oh-so-hunky & massively talented movie star. So to make up for lost time, I will be dedicating the entire month of April to Ryan Gosling and his films. I even made a special header to commemorate this special occasion!

Ahah sorry to those who fell for my April Fools prank, I wanted to do something cheeky and my hubby helped me come up with the idea. So don’t expect me blogging about Gosling anytime soon. No hard feelings ok, friends? ;)


Ok now that we’ve got that out of the way… here are some posts from March you might’ve missed:

Lots of Blogathons I participated this month, here are three I participated in:

New Releases:

Rental:

Rewatches:

March Blindspot Film: All The President’s Men (1976)

Favorite Movie Seen in March 2014:

FaveMarchMovie_CapAmerica2I happen to enjoy the first Captain America movie, even more so every time I watched it. Yet this one managed to surpass it. The conspiracy theme they promised us definitely delivered, and Chris Evans is much more comfortable in the role and he absolutely rocked it. Review coming later this week!


What I’m looking forward to in April:

mspiff2014_smallbold

Just got my Press Pass yesterday so I’ll be posting which films I’ll be seeing. Stay tuned!


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

Blogathon Relay: 10 Most Iconic Movie Characters

10IconicFilmCharacters

Woo hoo! Nostra from My Film Views is at it again. I crowned him King of Blog Series a couple of years ago and clearly he deserves that title ;) Here’s the gist of the Blogathon Relay:

A list of 10 iconic movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think it should not be on the list) and replace it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger. After you have posted your update leave the link in the comments here and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post.

Now, the first baton went to my friend Keith, one of my favorite bloggers whom I admire and respect. If you haven’t visited his awesome blog before, well you’re missing out big time! He had the arduous task of being the first to remove and replace one iconic movie character from the original 10, and I think he made a great choice! Check out the reasoning behind his decision in this post. I love this brilliant blogathon idea, but like Keith said, it’s a REALLY tough one! I’m up for the challenge though, so let’s take a look at the current Top Ten as it stands now, with Keith’s pick at the very end, followed by MY subtraction and addition:

Indiana Jones

Ellen Ripley

Terminator

Darth Vader

James Bond

The Tramp

Tony Montana

E.T.

Rocky Balboa

“Dirty” Harry Callahan

DIRTY HARRY


Who I’m removing: TONY MONTANA

RemovingTonyMontanaSorry Scarface fans, please don’t shoot me! Yes I know he’s got the highly-quotable ‘say hello to my little friend’ quip. At this point though, we’re arguing not whether he’s an iconic movie character, obviously he is but just how iconic is he compared to the other nine on this list.

When I think of ICONIC, I think of a character that needs no explanation, not only in the US but internationally. It’s the kind of character anyone from any continent in this world would instantly recognize, or at least which movie they’re from even if they don’t know that character’s name. I’m not sure that Al Pacino’s most famous role fits that category. Great and memorable yes, but I don’t know if he deserves to be in the Top 10 MOST iconic list. He might make my Top 20 though, but that’s not the assignment of this blogathon, folks. So after much deliberation, he’s the one I have to say goodbye to.

My addition: Princess Leia 

Top10IconicCharacters_PrincessLeia

Now, I know there’s already a character from Star Wars but there’s no rule we can’t add more than one character from a given film or franchise. Given that Star Wars is THE biggest and most enduring franchise in Hollywood history, we could probably make up half of this list just from that franchise alone!

Princess Leia is not just one of the coolest female movie characters but she’s a film AND pop culture icon. I mean, if you just draw a silhouette with her hair buns on each side of her head, I think people young and old would instantly know who that is. From the baby boomers all the way to Millennials, it’s interesting to see fans still dressing up as Princess Leia at Comic-con and various other conventions. I remember at SDCC 2012 my hubby taking pictures with a bunch of girls in Leia’s equally iconic teeny bikini, with little regard whether they look like Carrie Fisher circa 1977 or more like she is now in her mid 50s. I’m actually not a huge Star Wars fan, but I do get the appeal and why it remains so popular to this day. I’m glad George Lucas wrote such a strong female character who’s beautiful, witty and spunky. She’s a fiery rebel who’s able to hold her own amongst the rest of the mostly-male cast. We need more strong female icons like her in Hollywood!


Passing the baton to:

AFistfulOfFilmsBlog

I’ve been following Andrew‘s blog for some time now and I love his reviews and personal & passionate style in blogging. Do yourself a favor and check out A Fistful of Films Blog!


Well, what do you think of my decision? Agree/disagree, let’s hear it!

FlixChatter Review: SABOTAGE

TedSaydalavongBanner

SabotagePoster

Just like his pal Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzegger is trying to reclaim his glory days as the box office king of the 80s and 90s by starring in action films again in the 21st century. So far though, both them have had more duds than hits and I’m afraid this trend will continue with Arnold’s latest action thriller.

The movie opens with a group of elite DEA agents being lead by John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnie) raiding on some drug dealers’ fancy mansion. They found at least $100mil cash stashed away in the lower level of the mansion and the team decided to steal $10mil of that money and burn the rest so no one at the DEA will know they took the cash. Of course things didn’t turn out as planned, when they tried to retrieve the cash later, it’s nowhere to be found. Things got worse when the DEA found out that the $10mil is missing and they accuse Breacher and his team of stealing the money. All of them were under investigation and Breacher lost his team. About six months later, the DEA couldn’t find enough evidence to build a case against Breacher and his team, so the case will be close.

After the good news, Breacher tracked down his old teammates and try to get them back to doing what they do best, kill lots of bad guys. Unfortunately things didn’t come back to normal for the team, three of them were killed and this lead to the involvement of a homicide detective Caroline (Olivia Williams). Caroline suspects the drug cartel is behind the killings but Breacher and his team aren’t willing to help her with the investigation. The trailers let us to believe that this was a non-stop action adventure but it’s really a procedural thriller with some shootouts and a car chase. Not the usual Arnold’s flicks from the past.

SabotageStills1

The script by Skip Woods and David Ayer was pretty good, nothing too deep or over the top. Instead of giving us one liners after another, some of the dialogs were quite witty and Arnold delivered them perfectly. The script might think it’s smarter than it’s actually is but I went along with the plot. Ayer made a name for himself by writing Training Day and the first Fast & Furious film, so don’t expect anything new or original from this movie. I’m not the biggest fan of his directing style though, he basically incorporated the look and feel of his last movie (End of Watch) into this one. I’m sort of getting annoyed by some directors who think that by shooting their movie digitally, they think it will look more “realistic”. I don’t get why they couldn’t add some effects in post production and make the movie look more cinematic, I can’t stand watching a movie that looks like it’s shot with a home camcorder. Despite the flat and uninspired cinematography, Ayer did shoot some good action scenes, particularly the climatic car chase and shootout.

Performance wise, I thought Arnold did a pretty good job, again it’s Arnold we’re talking about here so don’t expect an Oscar caliber acting. Olivia Williams pretty much played the second lead and I thought she’s good in the role, I couldn’t remember the last time I saw her in a movie. The rest of the cast including Sam Worthington (I guess he’s already lost his leading man status now), Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello and Josh Holloway did a serviceable job in their respective roles.

SabotageStill2

For a movie like this, I think most people expect to see lots of shootouts and explosions, so it’s a nice surprise that it does have some sort of a plot and kept my attention without something blowing up every 10 minutes. I think I might give it a higher rating had Ayer and his team made the movie look more like a real movie instead of home video. But I’m glad they didn’t scale back the blood and violence, I think this is a good rental.

threereels
3 out of 5 reels


TedS_post


What do you think of Sabotage?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Previews of Into The Storm & SHOWTIME’s Penny Dreadful

EverybodysChattin

Hello everyone! As promised, here’s the second Everybody’s Chattin’ post to make up for the one I missed last month.

So here are 10 of my favorite post from fellow bloggers from the past week:

Now this is a post every movie blogger should read and undoubtedly can relate to … Dan wrote about this thought-provoking article on finding a voice in film criticism.

Ryan of The Matinee, the original founder of The Blindspot Series posted an intriguing Canadian-made film I’ve never heard of before: Jesus of Montreal. I’m definitely intrigued!

Bowie_ThePrestigeIf you haven’t checked out Cindy’s blog, consider this your recommendation. She’s always got great film observations and commentaries, like this one about Musicians Who Become Actors. Surely you have your favorites?

Speaking of favorites, have you checked out Sati’s 10 Favorite Female Characters from both TV & Movies?

And since I just posted my entry to Sati’s Spin-off Blogathon, check out which character Chris (Terry Malloy Pigeon Coop) and Mark (Marked Movies) wanted a spin-off on. Both are such cult favorites!

Now, speaking of blogathons, the reigning King of such blog event Nostra is at it again with his Blogathon Relay! This time the focus is on 10 Most Iconic Movie Characters. The first blogger he passed the baton to is my pal Keith of Keith & the Movies, drop everything now and see which one he’s taken out & add to the list!

Last but not least,  Biblical films seem to be the genre du jour in Hollywood this year, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah opens this weekend and Ridley Scott’s Exodus w/ Christian Bale as Moses opens later in December. I haven’t seen it yet but A Fistful of Films’ Andrew has, check out what he has to say.


Now, before you’re off, check out these previews of my two crushes’ next film/TV show:

IntoTheStormTrailer

Richard Armitage‘s disaster thriller INTO THE STORM with The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne Callies is released on October 8. Nice to see Richard in the lead role, yay! That last part with all those Boeing planes are too darn eerie given what’s happened with the Malaysian Airlines though, I’m quite surprised they didn’t take that out of the preview.

 

PennyDreadfulShowtime

And for you horror lovers out there, this SHOWTIME series Penny Dreadful should be right up your alley. I blogged about this one a while back when Timothy Dalton was cast. I don’t have cable but once it’s out on iTunes or Netflix I’ll watch it for Dalton who plays Sir Malcolm, a hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest. I’m glad he’s not playing one of the demons, ahah. He still looks sooo good and it’s interesting to see him alongside my favorite Bond girl Eva Green here.

Created by John Logan  (screenwriter of Gladiator, The Aviator, Skyfall) and produced by Sam Mendes, seems like the Bond connection is quite strong here, ahah. Check out the hair-raising trailer:

 


Stay tuned for Ted’s review of Sabotage tomorrow!


Thoughts on Into The Storm and/or Penny Dreadful?

Spin-Off Blogathon: 5 minor/supporting characters I want to see a spin-off on

SpinOffBlogathon

Thanks to Margaret aka Lady Sati over at Cinematic Corner for this awesome blogathon idea. Here’s the gist:

Choose a [supporting] character (Movie or TV) that you love and would like to see as a leading character in the movie and write why you chose this character and what that movie would be like. Don’t choose leading characters or supporting characters with lots of screen time, the goal is to focus on minor characters who have between 1-5 scenes. However if you really loved a character who is on screen for more than that, go for it.

Now, there are a bunch of memorable minor movie characters that I can list here, but not all of them I want to see an entire movie on. But these five minor/supporting characters are so fascinating, in some cases even more so than the hero, that I’d be willing to pay a movie solely focused on them! I originally had only three characters in mind but I just couldn’t resist adding the last two (plus a BONUS TV character). So without further ado, here they are:

Tom Bertram (James Purefoy) in Mansfield Park

Tom is the elder son and heir of the wealthy landowner Sir Thomas Bertram who took in the story’s protagonist Fanny Price to live in Mansfield Park. He’s shown in his brief scene as a drunken and careless man who has no regard for Fanny nor to his father. He’s often away in Antigua on his family’s estate and he obviously despises his father’s business that involves slavery, but the strain seems to be deeper than that. The way Purefoy plays him is so intriguing that every time I saw this Austen adaptation, I wanted to know more about Tom and why he behaves the way he does. He’s dark, mysterious, with a seething rage that could explode at any moment. Certainly he’s a sexier and more riveting persona than the principled but dull brother Edmund.

TomBertram

I’d love to see a movie, or even a TV miniseries that focuses on his character. It’d be an extension (with some artistic liberties taken) of what’s written about him in the book, recounting his younger days being taken to Antigua by his father, and his days of living an extravagant life amusing himself. In the book, it’s described that Mary Crawford, who with his brother lives in the Bertram’s parsonage was initially interested in Tom but he does not response, so I’d like to see that being explored in the film as to why he refuses her. The risque Lovers’ Vow play would definitely be one of the movie’s highlights.

It’s too bad that in Mansfield Park, Tom’s spent half his already brief screen time bedridden from his illness. He does recover eventually and later on, Fanny’s younger sister Susan comes to live with the Bertram family also. Though it’s not in the book, it’d be nice to see that perhaps Tom would finally find love with Susan.


Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in Captain America: The First Avenger

There are barely any cinematic super-heroine in Hollywood, and I don’t mean the bad ass but cheesy warrior variety like Elektra (no offense Jennifer Gardner!). From the first time I saw Captain America, I’ve got a girl crush on Peggy Carter. She is by far my favorite Marvel female character, yes she even beats Black Widow and Lady Sif! Atwell’s performance is one of the major reasons I LOVE LOVE Captain America: The First Avenger as she’s just as fun to watch as the Captain himself. She’s beautiful, witty, and spunky. She’s no damsel in distress, no siree. She’s a trained fighter who’s more than capable to hold her own. She’s a damn good shot too, as evident in the action scene with the villain Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage, who gets another mention below) ;)

PeggyCarter

There’s a Marvel One Shot of Agent Carter which I have yet to see except for a couple of clips. Apparently the short film takes place a year after the events of The First Avenger, and features Carter as a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve and dealing with the sexism of that era. Now I’d even pay to see a film version of Agent Carter. It could include with some flashback scenes of her younger years as in the comics she apparently joined the French Resistance as a teen, which was how she became a skilled gun-woman.


Col. Brandon (Alan Rickman) in Sense & Sensibility

This should come as no surprise to anyone given how much I adore Alan Rickman‘s portrayal of Colonel Brandon. He’s one my picks of Favorite Period Drama Heroes and he’s easily my favorite male character in Jane Austen’s adaptations, yes he even beats every woman’s favorite Mr. Darcy any day. He’s a far more interesting character because he has been through a lot before we’ve come to know him as a wealthy officer at 35. He’s a sensitive man, a tortured soul perhaps (oh how I love these types of characters), who’s lost his love when he returned from the army and found that the woman he loves was with child and living in a poorhouse.

His entrance in Sense & Sensibility is one of the most memorable and emotionally-charged for me… Brandon’s expression as he was transfixed by Marianne is palpable. It’s got to make you wonder, is it simply just love at first sight? It can’t just be Marianne’s beauty and beautiful voice that captured him so, there’s gotta be something deeper than that. Later on we learned that Marianne reminded him of his lost love of his youth, his father’s ward whom he was prevented from marrying. Every time I watched this film, I’d so want to see more of Brandon’s early life.

Thank you Tumblr!

Thank you Tumblr!

I’ve been wanting to pick up Amanda Grange’s book Colonel Brandon’s Diary which is part of her Jane Austen retelling adaptations. I did read the Captain Wentworth’s Diary one, now I’d pay to see that one too, but I think Colonel Brandon’s dark past would make an even more riveting period drama. Now the challenge is to cast an actor even half as charismatic as Rickman, but perhaps Tom Hiddleston or Richard Armitage would be more than up for the task? The latter has never done an Austen adaptation, that is a travesty!


Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale

As a massive Bond fan ever since I was a wee girl, never have I been so fascinated by the Bond girl until I saw Vesper in Casino Royale. Like Agent Carter, Vesper is no damsel in distress, and she has quite a mysterious past that rivals our favorite super spy. She’s obviously an intelligent woman, having been trusted by MI6 to oversee Bond in his high-stake gamble with Le Chiffre. “I’m the money,” she says, and the banter between her & Bond is no doubt one of the most riveting scenes in the movie, one I still love to watch over and over.

I’d love to see a movie on her where we get to see how she became a double agent for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and her former lover who gave her that Algerian love knot necklace that Bond tracked down in Quantum of Solace. I think the film would only work with Eva Green in the role though. She’s obviously extremely sexy and can make an entrance like no other (that purple dress is an utter knockout), but I think her sensuality and mystique is what made the character so beguiling. There’s something so unpredictable behind those piercing green eyes, and an icy quality about them. The scene where she professes her love for Bond is beautiful but with a tinge of mystery and even suspense as we’re not sure what she’s capable of.

VesperLynd

According to Wiki, in the Casino Royale novel, she was born on a “dark and stormy” night, and her parents named her “Vesper” after the Latin word meaning evening to commemorate the night. Fleming created a cocktail recipe in the novel that Bond names after her. The “Vesper martini” became very popular after the novel’s publication, and gave rise to the famous “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase immortalized in the Bond films.

It’d be cool to see Eva Green reprising her role in a prequel spin-off of Vesper, I think she’s the only Bond girl deserving of her own movie!


John Rolfe (Christian Bale) in The New World

I’ve mentioned Christian Bale‘s role as John Rolfe many times in my blog already, most recently in this Breaking Emotion post. Bale only appeared in the last 25 min or so of the 2.5 hours Terrence Malick’s retelling of the Pocahontas story, yet he’s far more fascinating than Colin Farrell in the lead role John Smith. In fact, I’d buy this film just to see him here. His chemistry with Q’orianka Kilcher is so sweet, it’s perhaps one of the most romantic roles Bale’s done, which is already so rare to begin with.

JohnRolfe

Now, the story of John Rolfe, an early English settlers of North America might not be as passionate or intriguing as John Smith’s, but Bale portrayal made me want to see more of Rolfe character. Perhaps the film can show his days as a tobacco businessman in Jamestown, Virginia and more details on his meeting and romance with Pocahontas, as well as his life after her death.


Special TV Dream Spin-Off

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) in BBC Robin Hood

What’s more riveting than a great hero? A great antihero. And every time I saw BBC Robin Hood, I always think ‘with villains like this, who needs a hero?!’ No offense to Jonas Armstrong as the titular hero but really he’s just meh next to Richard’s undeniable charisma and sex appeal. The guy just oozes virile masculinity and pent-up passion [wowza!] Clad in form-fitting black leather from head to toe, he’s the epitome of tall, dark and dangerous, even his hair is jet black to match his dark past and personality.


GuyOfGisborneRA

But instead of making him a straight-out villain, what’s more intriguing about Guy is the complexity of his character, he’s not just evil for the sake of it, but there’s a vulnerability to him, especially in regards to his unrequited love for Marian, once the hope to his redemption. Again there’s that tortured soul quality that I can’t resist!

I love how Richard explains his character in this behind-the-scene clip. “If he can’t be good and be popular, be bad…” YES please ;)

If they were to do a Guy-centric series or even a miniseries on, I’d have a different girl than Lucy Griffiths though, I’m not terribly fond of her. Holliday Grainger in Season 3 is quite good however, I’d love to see more of their relationship being explored in Guy’s life. But of course I’d ONLY see a Guy of Gisborne movie/series IF Richard Armitage plays him. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone else in the role who could top his portrayal.


What do you think of my picks, folks? Would you watch a movie dedicated to these characters?

Captain America Blogathon Part II – Ted’s and Ruth’s List

CaptAmericaBlogathon15

Andy over at Fandango Groovers’ Blog was inspired by the latest Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer in which we see Steve Rogers make a note in a pocket note book. It’s a list of things he missed out on in the time he was frozen that people have recommended he should catch up on.

CaptainAmericaNotebookList
So the idea is to list ten movies we’d recommend to a person who had been frozen between 1943 and 2011. We modified it to 15 as Ted and I teamed up to make up this list.

 Ted’s List

Here’s what Ted recommends, broken down by decades:

1960s:

Lawrence of Arabia
For someone who’s never seen an epic story, this would be a great film to show him. The huge scope of this film done years before CGI could never be replicate again in today’s modern day filmmaking.

LawrenceArabia_2001

2001: A Space Odyssey
Another film that push the limit of visual spectacle several years before the use of CGI were introduced to filmmakers. This film have influence other memorable films such Star Wars and the recent space adventure hit Gravity. For someone who have never seen it, they would marvel at the visual of this classic sci-fi adventure.

1970s:

Star Wars: A New Hope
Just for visual spectacle, this would be a great film to show it someone from the 1940s or earlier.

SWANewHope_ApocalypseNow

Apocalypse Now
Since Steve Rogers fought in war, he might appreciate a film that shows the horror of fighting in a war.

1980s:

BladeRunner

Blade Runner
Another great sci-fi film that would marvel anyone who’d never seen such a huge visual spectacle.

1990s:

PulpFiction

Pulp Fiction
Might be too harsh for someone who grew up in the 1930-40s but I think he/she would appreciate the unconventional story telling of this film.

2000s:

BatmanBeginsTDK

Batman Begins & The Dark Knight
The two films that basically changed how super hero films are made today. Films about good vs. evil, anyone can enjoy that. Heck if he/she can see The Dark Knight at an IMAX theater, I have no doubt they would love it.

TedS_post


Ruth’s List

Now, to complete the 15 movies, here are seven movies I’d recommend. Now, my list is more tailored for Steve Rogers himself, or someone with a similar military background and dedication to serve his/her country.

All the President’s Men

AllPresidentsMen

Since this one is still fresh in my mind, I just think someone in Captain’s position would find the whole Watergate scandal fascinating. As someone who’s so patriotic who’s currently dealing with government conspiracy in his mission post-frozen existence, this film might be a riveting as well as sobering experience to see a commander in chief behaving badly.

Schindler’s List

SchindlersList
As someone who’ve fought the Nazis, Cap would no doubt have an interesting perspectives on the Holocaust. Spielberg’s masterpiece shows the *face* of the enemy and the victim, as well as an unlikely hero who fought with his heart and kindness as his weapons against evil.

Gladiator

Gladiator

One of the best films about the ultimate personal betrayal and a hero who manages to rise above it. Maximus’ journey is inspiring for virtually everyone, but given that he is also a military man, Cap can certainly connect with him in that sense. There’s also a bit of unrequited love story here that he can also relate to.

The Social Network

SocialNetwork

Now one of the things in Cap’s list that we glimpsed in the trailer is Steve Jobs. Now I was going to recommend the Jobs biopic w/ Noah Wyle (as the Jobs movie was crap), but this David Fincher’s film about the *birth* of Facebook is far more fascinating. It might make him less inclined to join social media though, ahah

Wall Street

WallStreet

Cap might be very familiar with the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and perhaps even heard personal stories from his parents or family members. The world of finance and its power to corrupt the human soul should be an intriguing subject for anyone, and this Oliver Stone film remains one of the best on that subject IMO. I doubt Wall Street lifestyle would be appealing to Cap, and he’d be glad he didn’t have to endure 80s fashion!

Wall-E

WallE_Eve
I wanted to include an animated feature to recommend, even if it’s just for Cap to marvel at the visuals and animation technology. Can’t go wrong with Pixar but this one in particular is a must-see. Entertaining, imaginative and thought provoking with its social commentary, but it’s also got so much heart with an unlikely romantic pairing.

Encino Man

EncinoMan
Ok now this one is purely for comic relief of the guilty pleasure variety. In case you haven’t seen this 90s goofy comedy, Brendan Fraser played a cave man who’s found frozen in a backyard of a couple of high school outcasts. Just like Cap, the hero of the story is also trying to grasp the basic concept of modern life. Just something for him to laugh himself silly, a brief respite from all that exhilarating business of saving the world :D


What do you think of Ted’s and my recommendations?

March 2014 Blind Spot: All The President’s Men (1976)

AllThePresidentsMenBnr

This month’s Blind Spot is a ‘hit two birds with one stone’ type of a thing in that it’s part of the conspiracy movies I’ve been bingeing on in anticipation of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s something I’ve been wanting to see for ages, glad I finally got around to it.

I wasn’t even born yet when the scandal happened in 1972, starting with a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in D.C. I’ve seen Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on TV over the years and I think I may have known they’re the journalists who first uncovered the scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation, but I never realized just how they got there.

It’s a testament to Alan J. Pakula‘s shrewd direction and Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman‘s excellent performances that this film remains as gripping as ever, even watched for the first time 38 years after its release. It’s the quintessential political conspiracy drama that earns its ‘true classic’ label, it currently sits at #77 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Films list. I actually watched this film just a day after Pakula’s other conspiracy movie made just two years earlier, The Parallax View, but I enjoyed this one a whole lot more. Obviously I already know that Woodward and Bernstein survived the whole ordeal, but that fact in no way lessens the suspense of the film. It’s perhaps the best film about investigative journalism, and no doubt it’s the film shown in every journalism class in America. Believe it or not, I actually wanted to be a journalist when I first came to the States, so I might’ve seen some clips of this in my Broadcast Journalism class in college.

WoodwardBernstein_MovieVsRealLife

Woodward & Bernstein: In the movie & in a real life photo

I was completely engrossed in the story, but not only in terms of the scandal itself, but in the realistic depiction of how the journalists work on their story, as a lot of the film take place within The Washington Post. There’s a scene where the veteran Bernstein started making revisions of Woodward’s drafts without first consulting him. “I don’t mind that you did it,” Woodward said, “I just mind how you did it.” Clearly they didn’t get off on the right foot, but they soon bonded over their tenacity to get to the bottom of this story. There’s a nice rapport between the two actors that worked well here. Clearly the two reporters are such workaholics and became so consumed with the story. I’d think that real journalists have a bit of that obsessive streak in them when they’re following the trail of a story, especially something as important as this one. Little did they know where the story would lead, as the trail just kept getting higher up the chain of the Republican Party and eventually all the way to the White House!

AllThePresidentsMen_RobardsHolbrook

All the dialog between Woodward & Bernstein and the editors, played by Jack Warden and Jason Robards are quite fascinating, as it shows how risky it was to break a story like this. Amongst the supporting cast, Robards was particularly memorable as Benjamin Bradlee, the then executive editor at the Post. He’s very convincing as a seasoned journalist and has the gravitas required for the role. The scenes in a parking garage where Woodward held his secret meet-up with Deep Throat (a pseudonym the journalists give to the secret informant) is rife with tension, handled brilliantly in an eerie, atmospheric way. Hal Holbrook is perfectly effective in his brief appearance, adding so much to his character and making it practically iconic. “Follow the money,” he says, in one of the most memorable quotes in William Goldman‘s Oscar-winning screenplay.



The scenes where Bernstein coerced his sources to talk are particularly intriguing, especially the one with the book keeper of Committee to Re-elect the President (with an appropriate acronym of CREEP). Jane Alexander was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and I agree that’s quite a fantastic performance. She only had about 8-minute screen time in the entire film, about the same number of minutes Dame Judi Dench appeared in her Oscar-nominated turn in Shakespeare in Love. Truly, there’s really not a boring moment here even during the most seemingly mundane stuff like typing or people talking on the phone. There’s a six-minute continuous tracking shot of Redford being on the phone, according to IMDb trivia, DP Gordon Willis did that in one take!

AllThePresidentsMen_Library

I’m surprised Willis was not nominated for an Oscar for his work here, though later on he received an Honorary Academy Award in 2010. I love how he used a variety of creative shots, such as the one where the two reporters were doing meticulous research at the Library of Congress. The camera shot them from above, starting with a close up of their hands sifting through a mountain of library slips and it slowly pulls away, accompanied by the sound of rustling paper and very subtle background music. No words are spoken but it’s a powerful scene. I found this wonderful Mise-en-scène article on this exact scene where the author astutely observed that … “The scene symbolically represents the story of the film, that of two men against an entire administration. It expresses the immensity of the task that lay ahead for the reporters, not just in searching through library cards, but in revealing the truth behind the misdeeds of the administration.”


I love the attention to details of this film, the clothes, the sets, and all the details within The Post headquarter. Apparently the design department of the film even made a replica of the out of date phone books to make it even more authentic! I’m sure there are countless details that I failed to catch. This is definitely the kind of film that warrants subsequent viewings in order to get the details I’ve missed on initial viewing.

AllThePresidentsMen_ThePost

I’ll end this review with one last observation. I like how the story stays focused on the journalism aspect of the scandal and how the Post finally got to publish it, there’s no unnecessary subplots about the personal lives of the leads or anything of the sort. What an intriguing slice of American history, and as someone who’s not born in the US, it’s especially fascinating to see. To this day, every political scandal is tagged with the “-gate” suffix because of this, which adds to the timeless aspect of this film. Thanks to Redford for acquiring the rights to Bernstein’s and Woodward’s memoir and for Mr. Pakula for bringing this engrossing political history to life.

four and a half stars out of five
4.5 out of 5 reels


This is the first entry to my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee, and continued by Dan Heaton at Public Transportation Snob .

Here’s my full Blindspot List.


What do you think of All The President’s Men? I’d love to hear what you think!