Music Break: Top 10 Favorite Bond Songs

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This Music Break is so long overdue! I listen to basically two music genres regularly: classical and soundtrack. And growing up the James Bond soundtrack got a lot of play in my house as my two brothers love ‘em too and my penchant for them continue to this day. Over the years I don’t know how many Bond CDs I’ve bought as they keep updating their collections [just like they do with their box-sets, heh]. From the classically-tinged ones to the more contemporary sounds, I love most of the Bond songs from the 23 films, with only a few exceptions (i.e. Die Another Day by Madonna, ugh). This list consist of the Bond songs, not themes by John Barry, David Arnold, etc. So far, my absolute favorite Bond theme is City of Lovers from Casino Royale that I featured a while back.

The other day I was thinking how it’s been ages since I made a Bond-related post. Well, inspired by last Monday’s birthday of the jazz great Louis Armstrong, as well as my pal Michael’s Songs on My iPod series, post #6 specifically, it’s time to reveal my top 10 favorites! I actually made a top 5 back in 2010, but I decided to expand my list to 10. So here goes (in order of release):

1. From Russia with Love (Matt Monro) – From Russia with Love 1963

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2. We Have All the Time in the World (Louis Armstrong) – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 1969

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3. Moonraker (Shirley Bassey) – Moonraker 1979

4. For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton) – For Your Eyes Only 1981

5. All Time High (Rita Coolidge) – Octopussy 1983

6. The Living Daylights (A-Ha) –The Living Daylights 1987

7. Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crowe) – Tomorrow Never Dies 1997

8. The World Is Not Enough (Garbage) – The World Is Not Enough 1999

9. You Know My Name (Chris Cornell) – Casino Royale (2006)

10. Skyfall (Adele) – Skyfall (2012)


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey) – Goldfinger (1964)
  • Nobody Does It Better (Carly Simon) – The Spy Who Loved Me 1977
  • Goldeneye (Tina Turner) – Goldeneye 1995
  • License to Kill (Gladys Knight) – License to Kill 1989

So are you a fan of any of these Bond songs? Which one(s) are YOUR favorite?

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The Flix List: Five Movies Suffering From Identity Crisis

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Many filmmakers tried to mix several genres in one film, sometime it works nicely, i.e. Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is a superhero movie mixed with Cold War-era espionage intrigue. But most of the time, it turns out to be a disaster. Just look at Cowboys & Aliens, mixing Sci-fi with Westerns sounds like a crazy idea, but maybe it’s crazy enough that it could work. Alas, it turned out to be a bomb for Universal, as it barely made close to its $163 mil budget domestically.

So Ted comes up with five other films suffering from identity crisis which are also box office duds:

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The Lone Ranger

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This box office dud tried to be too many things and in the end it just didn’t work. The film sort of reminded me of some of Buster Keator or Charlie Chaplin films from the 30s but then it also tried to be this serious western action/adventure of the 60s and 70s. I understand what Johnny Depp and the filmmakers were trying to do, but I think they should’ve picked a genre and stuck with it. Despite so many bad reviews it received last summer, I still thought it was an entertaining flick (check out my review) and I think it might have a cult following the years to come.

Tears of the Sun

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Antione Fuqua tends to mix genres in his films and this one was a good example of how NOT to do it. Originally the script was written as a Die Hard sequel but then things didn’t work out and Willis decided he wanted to make it a separate film. He even persuaded the studio executives to hire Fuqua to direct the film. Well, Willis ended up regretting that decision. When Fuqua took over the project, he decided to make it more into political drama instead of just straight up action/adventure. Apparently both Willis and Fuqua argued with one another during the entire shoot and vowed to never work with each other again. By combining real life tragedies and over-the-top action sequences, the film just didn’t work and when it opened in March of 2003, it failed miserably. The film only earned about $40mil at the box office and it cost around $70-90mil to produce, ouch!

The Devil’s Own

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This big budgeted action/drama was plagued with behind-the-scenes drama. It seems Brad Pitt loves to be involved with films that has troubled production, (the infamous World War Z behind the scene issues and the ongoing arguments on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith), in this film the dramas involved Pitt and Harrison Ford. Both stars wanted the film to focus on their character, apparently Pitt was pissed when studio hired Ford to be in the film.

In the original script, Pitt’s character was the main focus and Ford’s character was just a supporting role. But when Ford read the script and demanded that he gets the cop part, the studio executives were more than happy to hire him, this was when Ford was still a box office champ, he had just starred in The Fugitive, Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games, all were box office hits. There were reports that Pitt wanted to leave the production of the film because he thought the film was going downhill fast after several rewrites. He even bad mouthed the film in an interview with Newsweek magazine, calling it “the most irresponsible bit of film-making.” He was unhappy with how the script has changed so much from the one he fell in love with, it was originally a dark and brutal drama thriller but then it switched into more of an action/thriller. And that was the problem with the film, it couldn’t decide if it wants to be drama or action, and it failed by combining both. The film reportedly cost $90-100mil to make and it only made about $40mil back.

Hancock

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Well this film actually was a huge hit when it came out but I thought it didn’t work at all, I actually named it one of the worst films from 2008. The original script was a much darker story about a superhero who hates saving the world and Michael Mann was attached to direct it in early 2000s. But with several rewrites and delays, Mann gave the job to his protégé Peter Berg. Berg wanted to make it close to the original script but pressures from studio heads forced him to make it into a mixed of light comedy and action/adventure but also with some dark moments. Seriously the tone of this film was so uneven, I wanted to walk out of the theater. I think this was a huge missed opportunity to make a film about a “real” superhero living in our society and sick of saving idiotic people but again it’s all about making money for studios so what they made was a crappy wannabe film.

Random Hearts

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This film maybe the prime example of how not to mix several genres into one film, was this film supposed to be police drama thriller, mystery suspense or romantic drama? What’s so surprising was that the film was directed by Sydney Pollack, who was considered one of the good directors at the time. The behind-the-scene drama was more well known than the actual film, apparently Pollack and his leading man Harrison Ford constantly argued during the production of the film. It got so bad that they stopped talking to one another and vowed to never work with each other again. It’s kind of funny because while making Sabrina together a few years prior, they were good buddies. The film opened in the fall of 1999 with little fanfare and the studio hardly promoted it, probably because they saw it and decided it was a turkey and didn’t want to spend any money on promotions.


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Have you seen any of these? If so what do you think? Feel free to list of other films you think suffer from an identity crisis.

Five for the Fifth: AUGUST 2014 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary 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. As customary with Five for the Fifth, I’d like to highlight a filmmaker/actor who’s having a birthday today. Well, it so happens that two talented-yet-underrated British actors have a birthday today: Mark Strong and Janet McTeer. They turn 50 and 52 respectively.

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You might not know these two actors by name but surely you have seen them in a film or TV show. I can’t remember where I first saw Mark Strong but he’s been in so many films and he’s always memorable even in small supporting roles. My favorite of his roles would be Rocknrolla, Robin Hood, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Zero Dark Thirty. He’s quite a versatile actor and he has a rather chameleon face where you can’t tell what ethnicity he belongs to. I mean he could play a Jordanian prince as effortlessly as an English lord.

As for Janet McTeer, I really should see more of her work. I’ve only seen the two-time Oscar nominees in the BBC Sense & Sensibility as Mrs. Dashwood. I know my pal Ashley loves her as she’s her favorite actress. The statuesque actress (she’s 6’1″) is a graduate of RADA and can effortlessly juggle TV and film work. She’s starring in The Honourable Woman BBC miniseries with Maggie Gyllenhaal and a Victorian-era thriller Angelica with Jena Malone and Ed Stoppard.

So what’s your favorite from both of these fine actors?
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2. My hubby and I were watching a bunch of new trailers on iTunes on Friday and we came across Into The Woods. For some reason I hadn’t heard of this movie before, either that or I just forgot about it.

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Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel — all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.


As someone who grew up watching Disney fairy tale movies, this immediately intrigues me. The cast is awesome too, boy is there anything Meryl Streep can’t do? Never mind, clearly there is none. I like the Emily Blunt and James Corden pairing, and Anna Kendrick is inspired choice as Cinderella. Though I’m usually not enamored by Chris Pine, I must say he looks mighty dashing as Cinderella’s Prince, yowza!! Ask my hubby, I actually rewound the trailer and paused it a few times when he appeared ;) Can’t wait to hear Chris’ singing voice, as he’s displayed on Jimmy Kimmel a while back, he actually has a great set of pipes!

I had no idea there’s actually a musical on Broadway featuring music by Stephen Sondheim. Now, Rob Marshall directing is a bit worrisome however, considering what a mess NINE was despite the stellar cast, but hey hopefully this will be good. It’s set to open on Christmas day, competing with Unbroken and Exodus. But considering the subject matter, this should be a hit with the kiddies at least.

Does this one interest you, folks?

3.Ok so this weekend I finally saw the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven, thanks to my pal Ted who kindly lends me a bunch of Blu-rays. It’s been ages since I saw this film, I honestly can’t remember a lot of it, so I can’t really say what’s different from the theatrical version.

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Boy I forgot how amazing the cast was, well everyone except for the lead Orlando Bloom. To be fair, I think he’s not as horrible as I thought he was but still the movie would’ve been a heck of a lot better with a stronger lead actor IMO. I mean he looks good here but he barely his face is so expressionless and he barely has any gravitas required for the role. The supporting cast is spectacular though: Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, Eva Green, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, and Edward Norton whose face is hidden behind a mask the entire time. Oh I’m quite impressed by Alexander Siddiq who really should be in more films! Did you know his real-life uncle is Malcolm McDowell? Sorry I digress. Watching this makes me think of other Director’s Cut versions out there and how many of them are superior to the theatrical version.

So my question to you is, do you watch Director’s Cuts of a movie if they’re available? If so, which one(s) are your favorite?

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4. Director Colin Trevorrow sure knows how to get fans’ attention and capitalize on the success of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Last week he tweeted a photo of Chris Pratt looking hunky and very Indiana-Jones-y in Jurassic World.

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Now I have completely forgotten about this movie, which apparently is not a reboot [thank goodness] but set about 20 years after the events in the original Jurassic Park. Pratt’s sure to be a bonafide star after this weekend, so I think the movie surely would benefit from having him in the lead. I’m mostly curious as I LOVE the original Steven Spielberg film, but the cast they’ve assembled is pretty good so far. In addition to Pratt, we’ve got Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer, Nick Robinson (whom I liked in The Kings of Summer), Irrfan Khan, and Vincent D’Onofrio. The film is set to open next Summer, June 12, 2015 to be exact. I hope it’ll live up to the original, but I suppose we’ll have a better idea about it once we see a trailer.

Have you been anticipating Jurassic World?.

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is my pal Fernando from Committed to Celluloid Blog. So here it is in his own words:

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One of my favorite things in the last few months has been following Netflix’s House of Cards and watching Frank and Claire Underwood (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright) being absolutely ruthless and expertly manipulative, so my question is:

What’s your favorite villainous couple (they don’t have to be married to each other) in TV or film?


Well, that’s it for the AUGUST 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

FlixChatter Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

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I have to admit that I wasn’t remotely interested in seeing this one from the moment I first heard about it. For one thing, I was beginning to get bored of yet another Marvel superhero movie, and another reason is I have never even heard of who these characters are. Though it seems that a lot of my fellow bloggers are getting superhero fatigue, clearly the average movie goers are still gung ho about them, as GOTG has proven itself to be another big hit for Marvel. According to Box Office Mojo, by Friday estimates, it already out-earned two of Marvel’s sequels: Captain America 2 and Thor 2 and on its way to make close to $100 mil by the first weekend, wow!

The audience in the packed advanced screening on Tuesday seemed to have a good time with this movie, and I was surprised too how entertaining it was. The protagonist this time isn’t a superhero, he’s a regular boy-next-door human named Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who got abducted by a space ship just minutes after his mother died at a hospital. Fas forward twenty six years later, we see Peter on planet Morag stealing an orb that turns out to be a highly-coveted artifact wanted by the master villain Ronan (Lee Pace). The scene is reminiscent of Raiders Of The Lost Ark opening sequence and you could say Peter has the kind of swagger and cheeky attitude of Indiana Jones. Needless to say, Peter then gets embroiled in a manhunt, not just from Ronan but also from a group of space pirates led by Yondu (Michael Rooker) who apparently the same folks that snatched young Peter from earth years ago.

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I think people who read the comics would appreciate this movie more, as they’d be more familiar with the cosmic universe where everything takes place. A lot of the things happening here baffles me but I went along for the ride anyway. Peter suddenly ends up in planet called Xandar and ends up getting arrested by Nova Corps, the space militia led by Glenn Close, sporting similar hairdo as in 101 Dalmatians. It’s in the Xandar prison that Peter meets his would-be teammates: a wisecrackin’, gun-toting, raccoon called Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a tree-like humanoid named Groot (Vin Diesel), bad-ass assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has a personal vendetta against Ronan. It’s an unlikely quartet that constantly bicker and fight, but of course they have no choice but to work together.

Guardians of the Galaxy is more of a space action comedy, akin to Galaxy Quest or The Fifth Element. But the irreverent and at times cheesy humor works here and there’s such a fun spirit throughout that is contagious. The one-liners are packed with goofy 80s pop-culture references (Kevin Bacon, John Stamos) to self-satirical ones like “I’m gonna die, surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.” Director James Gunn and writer Nicole Perlman (first female writer of a Marvel movie, yay!) are certainly aware of the its inherent silliness and the movie definitely works because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Perhaps this is an antithesis of sort to the standard superhero fare as none of the characters here possess any kind of super powers. But what the characters have in spades is humor, charm and even warmth, as the unlikely group slowly bond together.

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Now for the cast, I have to say that Chris Pratt [now part of the Marvel trifecta of Chris-es w/ Chris Hemsworth & Chris Evans] is a hoot and no doubt this movie will launch him to be a star. There’s a scene where a space henchman calls him Star Lord and Peter quips ‘finally!’ It’s almost art imitating life as Pratt has been in a bunch of major movies in supporting roles, in fact, three of them were nominated for Oscar 3 years in a row: Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball, and Her. But now it’s his moment to shine and he’s such a charming, affable dude you can’t help but root for him. The rest of the cast is pretty good in their roles and I have to say Cooper as the fast-talking raccoon with a chip on his shoulder is quite the scene-stealer! I wonder just what the heck Cooper was thinking taking this job after a two Oscar nominations back to back, as he could easily play Peter Quill as well, but y’know what, I think he did a smashing job as Rocket. Diesel too, surprisingly makes the most of his only one line in the movie, ‘I am Groot’ all the way to the end.

It’s always nice when a movie surprises you in a pleasant way when you have such little expectations about it. But still I’m surprised by the stellar reviews that seem to surpass even Captain America: The Winter Soldier which I think is a better movie. Yes of course GOTG is a lot of fun and I was genuinely entertained, but it’s hardly flawless. Some critics call it edgy but the plot is not exactly fresh, we’ve got a space psychopath hellbent on destroying the world and it’s up to these unlikely heroes to save everyone, nothing new there. It doesn’t help matters that the villains are pretty ho-hum and lacking real menace. Poor Lee Pace is rather wasted here as Ronan is as boring as the villain in Thor 2. Same could be said for his female sidekick Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Thanos (uncredited Josh Brolin), which to me makes more impact in The Avengers‘ post-credit scene than here. I do like Rooker as Yandu, his performance reminds me of Michael Wincott who’s no stranger to playing bad guys.

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So the good guys definitely have more fun, even John C. Reilly is a hoot as a Nova Corpsman, especially in the hilarious finale. For sure the heroes were never in any danger in being upstaged by the villains. Visually speaking it’s as good as I expect from a big-budget Marvel movie, the 3D is pretty good but at the same time I honestly can’t think of an action scene that stand out to me. What’s truly awesome is the soundtrack! As a big fan of 80s music, the retro soundtrack is pure nostalgic fun! The gist is that Peter’s mom made an Awesome Mix Vol. 1 tape for him that he constantly plays on his walkman. Most Millennials probably think of it as some ancient artifact ahah, but hey I definitely remember those and making tapes of songs from the radio [oh boy am I dating myself or what?] The song played in the trailer, Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling, will be forever associated with this movie, and there are others I definitely recognize even if I can’t remember them by name.

Amidst all the clutter of all the goofy actions, there’s actually a bit of emotional touches here and there. So overall this movie proves to be a pleasant surprise and one I don’t even mind watching again. Not as spectacular as people led you to believe, but still worth a look if you’re initially skeptical. Everyone of all ages should enjoy this, just don’t expect too much in the way of plot and you’ve got yourself two hours of a rollicking good time.

3.5 reels


So what do YOU think of Guardians of the Galaxy? 

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?

Question of the Week: How do you [REALLY] feel about the endless supply of superhero movies?

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today’s question is inspired by my viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy last night, and also the recent festivities of San Diego Comic-con.

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I also just read this article written by my friend Raul Marin at Film Inquiry where he talks about Marvel vs. DC and who will win in the end. Now here’s my answer I left on the post:

Even with the fervor of San Diego Comic-con of late, I’m not as excited as I once was for either Avengers or Batman vs Superman. I mean it’s cool seeing those actors on stage and stuff but I’m not as gung-ho about the movies as I did a few years back. I’m still excited for certain stand-alone films, i.e. The Winter Soldier but that’s only because the espionage aspect intrigues me. So at this point, I don’t really care which one will win in the end, tho looks like Marvel still has the upper hand.

So I guess you could say I’m getting superhero-fatigue. I know some people probably already reached that point much sooner than I did, but clearly there are still more who haven’t or these movies won’t perpetually get made. I used to get super excited over Superman, I mean I did all those countdown posts for Man of Steel, but my excitement for its sequel has dropped significantly, as you can see I barely blog about it any more. Raul stated in his post that “…three of the top ten highest-grossing films of all-time are from the superhero genre” and before we know it, all of the top 10 highest grossing would be made up by this super lucrative genre.

GOTHAM_FoxFallI just read this article posted by Screenrant that says Marvel Studios Has Mapped Out Films All The Way To 2028! And that’s just ONE studio, I’m sure DC is not far behind and SONY milking the Spider-man franchise for all its worth down to its last web, as they’re now spin-offing Spidey’s villains. Sinister Six is apparently set for 2016 with its sequel in 2018 [face palm]. I’m so bored with the Spidey franchise already, as I skipped The Amazing Spider-man and probably won’t even rent it. I think my excitement for the first Spidey reboot was highly influenced by seeing Andrew Garfield up-close at Comic-con.

It’s not just the movies, television is bursting with superhero-themed shows with no sign of slowing down. The most-buzzed about new Fall show is the Batman prequel GOTHAM, which seems to be getting positive buzz so far. I might check it out simply out of curiosity, but who knows how long I will keep tuning in, as I got tired of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D after just half a dozen episodes.

So clearly the superhero genre is flexing their Thor-sized muscles even more than before. Is the superhero bubble at its tipping point now and ready to burst at any moment? It seems far-fetched now but it’s happened to other popular genres before so I don’t think any genre is exempt from falling out of mainstream’s market. To say the superhero market is over-saturated is putting it mildly, but hey, Hollywood loves money so they’ll do whatever it takes to keep this craze going and going and going …


So what say you folks? How do you [REALLY] feel about the superhero movies? Are they becoming ho-hum or are you still gung-ho for ‘em?

July 2014 Blind Spot Film: Purple Noon / Plein Soleil (1960)

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It’s been over three years since I saw an Alain Delon film, that was  Le Samouraï  where he played a silent-but-deadly assassin. Well as Tom Ripley, he isn’t quite as taciturn but he’s just as deadly. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, I was familiar with the story from the 1996 film version. I can’t remember much of the details of that one thankfully, so when I watched it, the story still felt fresh to me. Though it’s based on the same novel, the two films were pretty different. There’s a homo-erotic undertones in the 1996 version that wasn’t present in this one, and the ending is also very different.

SPOILER ALERT!
Just like other Blindspot entries, this review may contain some plot discussions.

Right away I thought Delon was a far more appealing and at the same time more sinister version of Tom Ripley than Matt Damon was. With his razor-sharp cheekbones and steely gaze, Delon possesses a certain coldness, that dangerous undercurrent lurking beneath his impossible good looks. Sent to Italy by a wealthy Mr. Greenleaf to retrieve his playboy son Philipe and bring him back to San Francisco. Though Delon essentially plays an American, he barely spoke a word of English as this is a French film.

Tom is to be paid $5000 for his services but later the offer is retracted when Mr Greenfield realizes Tom fails to do his mission. By the time we see him hanging out with Philipe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet), the two are like inseparable friends. Even as Philipe’s longtime friend Freddie (Billy Kearns) resents Tom for being a moocher, Philipe enjoys spending time with him … for a little while at least.

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Philipe’s fiancee Marge (Marie Laforêt) feels sorry for Tom but at the same time she’s not comfortable having him around. Well, can’t say I blame him, especially when it’s someone who obviously doesn’t mind spending other people’s money and wears her fiance’s clothes. There’s a really disturbing scene where Ripley is mimicking Philipe in front of the mirror whilst wearing his clothes and shoes. What’s more disturbing is that Philipe is well aware that Tom is lusting after his lavish lifestyle, yet he still lets him hang around with him. They even go on a yacht trip together, the three of them. Whilst Philipe is making out with the beautiful Marge under the scorching Mediterranean sun, Tom’s lustful eye follows every inch of them.

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Director René Clément filmed the psychological thriller in an expertly manner. The tension isn’t overt but it’s always lurking, waiting for the right moment to strike. The dialog at the yacht between Philipe and Tom is particularly fascinating as Tom jokingly tells him about his whole plan about killing him and taking his identity. At first Philipe seems nonchalant about the joke, even pointing out the weak points about Tom’s plan and all that. He gradually begins to suspect it wasn’t a joke after all, but by then it was too late. This is the most action-packed scene in the whole film, and Clement doesn’t overwhelm us with ominous score, instead he lets the natural elements like the choppy waters and high winds build  tension. Delon’s shirtless tanned body as he vigorously grabs the yacht steering wheel in this scene definitely sticks with you. An iconic combination of sex appeal and disquieting menace set in a panoramic vista.

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The cinematography by Henri Decaë is absolutely striking, whether it’s the narrow, cobblestone streets or the vast blue ocean, every frame is postcard-worthy. This movie could practically double as a Italian tourism video, especially mixed with Nino Rota‘s jazzy score. Best scenery of all is in Delon himself, what with cheekbones you could cut yourself on and those chilling, penetrating blue eyes that Decaë often frame in extreme close-ups. The devil comes in attractive packages and there are few men more attractive than the French actor. All the beautiful people and striking scenery gives a staggering contrast to the ugly-ness and darkness of the human soul. Even Philipe who’s the victim in the story is not a sympathetic character as he’s a hedonist and a bully. In a strange way, as wicked as Tom was, there’s a bit part of me that’s curious if he would get away with it. I’m not saying I sympathize with him, but like any great cinematic villain, he remains magnetic and captivating despite his vice.

Delon practically outshines everyone in the film as you can’t take your eyes off him. Obviously he’s devastatingly beautiful, but looks alone isn’t enough to carry a role like this. Peter Bradshaw’s review at the Guardian says it best “… his almost unearthly perfection is creepy itself, as if he is imitating a human being.”

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Now, about that ending. I found out after watching the film that in the book, Ripley did get away with his crime, but he becomes haunted with paranoia that he would be caught. But the ending in the film implies that Ripley was arrested when the policemen discovered Philipe’s decomposed body still tied to the anchor cable that’s tangled around its propeller. I do think the book’s ending is far more intriguing and audacious, it seems that the censorship code is to blame for the more tame finale. But still, it was a memorable ending with the sun-drenched Ripley sipping cocktails on the beach… the tranquil sight of the beautiful Riviera contrasted with a stomach-churning shot of a decomposed hand peeking out from a body bag.

If you have seen The Talented Mr. Ripley, I highly recommend you to check out this one. I’ve never seen Mr. Clément’s work before but I definitely should check out more. I’m also curious to see other roles by Delon as the two I’ve seen so far depict him as this cool and calculated persona, which he obviously excels at. He’s the perfect Tom Ripley here, far more effective than Damon and even John Malkovich in Ripley’s Game. Clément’s been called the French Hitchcock and it’s definitely fitting, yet his direction is still unique in that somehow the suspense is more subtle and there’s even a laid-back approach, keeping us mesmerized and on edge at the same time.

4.5 out of 5 reels


This is the fifth 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 .


What do you think of  Purple Noon? I’d love to hear what you think!

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?

Blogathon Relay: TEN Most Iconic Female Movie Characters

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Yet another blog relay! Well most of you should get the idea by now, it’s a relay race of a list of who bloggers think are ten most iconic… this time it’s focused on Female Movie Characters. Thanks to Dell from Dell on Movies for shining the spotlight on the fairer sex, and certainly he picked some great characters on the initial top 10 list!

What are the rules?

A list of 10 iconic female 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 she should not be on the list) and replacing 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 below and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post.

Thanks to Jaina at Time Well Spent for passing the baton to me! These nine remain on the list as it stands right now, scroll down below which director I have to let go and his replacement:

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Clockwise from top left:
Ellen Ripley | Princess Leia | DorothyMarge Gunderson* | Foxy Brown
Sarah Connor
| Holly Golighty | Scarlett O’Hara | Lisbeth Salander

*Marge Gunderson was the last one added by Jaina. 

I have to confess that there are a couple of characters here from films I haven’t seen before (Foxy Brown and Lisbeth Salander). As Jaina said,  the fact that I know who they are just shows how iconic those characters are. However, there’s one I absolutely have no idea who it is without googling about her, and I feel that she’s perhaps not iconic enough to be in the top 10. So…

Who’s Out?

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Nurse Ratched

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the many Oscar-winning films I haven’t seen yet, so I literally had to google who Nurse Ratched is. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, there are other characters on the list I’ve never seen before on screen, but yet I knew who they are and which movies they’re in. So I feel that even if Louise Fletcher’s performance as that character was indeed excellent and Oscar-worthy, she might not be iconic enough to be in the Top 10.

Who’s In?

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Mrs. Robinson

When we’re talking about an iconic role, I think of someone who’s become a pop-culture phenomenon. The ultimate cougar, aka older women who like to seduced younger men, I’d think even people who haven’t seen The Graduate would know who Mrs. Robinson is or what she represents. She’s one of those rare female antiheroes, complex and incredibly flawed, but definitely indelible. I actually became familiar with the character before I saw the 1967 film, it was from the popular song dedicated to her by Simon & Garfunkel.

And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Hey, hey, hey

Anne Bancroft‘s Oscar-nominated performance is a big part of what makes her character so iconic. Then there’s that famous shot that’s used in the poster of her nylon-covered leg, that becomes synonymous with illicit seduction. There’s even a stage version of The Graduate, with Linda Gray (whose leg is actually used in the famous poster), Kathleen Turner, Jerry Hall playing the titular role, among others. So I think Mrs. Robinson deserves a spot on this list.


I’m passing the torch to Eric, who runs the awesome blog The Warning Sign which has a nice mix of classic and contemporary films.

Previous relay contributors:
Dell on Movies
Nostra
Jaina


So folks, agree/disagree with my picks? Well, let’s hear it!

Everybody’s Chattin’ & Music Break – Black Sails Theme

Happy Thursday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone again this time by combining two series in one. Surely you don’t mind that right? :)

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Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past couple of weeks:

  • UndertheSkin2014It seems that Jonathan Glazer‘s indie sci-fi which stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien with a penchant for Scottish men have captivated many. I’d say this alien has a great taste in men, ahah. Check out Sati‘s and Andrew‘s ‘hit me with your best shot’ posts on Under the Skin.
  • There have been some fun blogathons circling the blogosphere so far! There’s one from the King of Blog Series Nostra: Six Degrees of Separation and Wendell: Against The Crowd Blogathon which asks participants to list movies they love that others don’t and vice versa.
  • Ckckred asks what people think of the use of voice overs in films.
  • After being sidelined by the mammoth event that was the World Cup, avid soccer/football/futbol/futebol fan Niels finally had time to catch up with some movies and posted his one-sentence review of a bunch of them!
    ///
  • BonjourTristesseAs far as classic movies go, be sure to check out Josh‘s picks for the 1941 CinSpec Award and Steven‘s review of Bonjour Tristesse (1958). Meanwhile, Dan reviewed a coming-of-age classic Stand By Me (1986), whilst Eric just saw the first Karate Kid movie from 1984, which some people might call a classic :)
  • This is a very cool series by Michael that you should check out if you haven’t already: Same Song, Different Movie – this time it’s This Must be the Place.
  • Fernando‘s been on a list roll lately. Check out his latest one on top 10 actors he’d see in pretty much anything.
  • Now last but not least, both Ryan and Joseph are excited for TIFF 2014, and rightly so! Check out the film fest line-ups they’ve posted and prepare to drool away! ;)

Now for this week’s Music Break!

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Boy it’s been ages since I posted on Opening Title Sequence. I just stumbled upon an old list I made four years ago on 10 of my favorites, and I immediately thought of the one for Black Sails! When I caught up on the Starz pirate show extravaganza earlier this month, I was blown away by how awesome the opening title is [well aside from Toby Stephens' Captain Flint of course] ;)

The Art of the Title site has an extensive behind-the-scenes look of the making of this spectacular work using real-life sculptures designed by Imaginary Forces. Combined with the rousing score by Bear McCreary, who also did the amazing score for the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica), this opening title is quite a masterpiece! Both the opening title AND the score have deservedly been nominated for Emmy Awards this year, woo hooo!

I LOVE this video of McCreary explaining how he envisioned the theme that’d fit the gritty world of piracy, not the cliched and romanticized version of pirates you’ve seen before. It also shows the making of the score in multiple recording sessions. This is the first time I’ve even seen a Hurdy Gurdy. WOW, now THAT’s creativity, well done Mr. McCreary!


I also found a couple of great Flint-centric fan videos featuring fantastic music by composer Mark Petrie who’s done a bunch of TV work. OperaGhost, whoever and wherever you are, THANK YOU for these awesome videos, hope you continue making them!


Hope you enjoy this music break!

So which score/opening title(s) from recent TV shows are your favorites?