FlixChatter Review: Ant-Man (2015)

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Marvel has been dominating the box office with their superhero flicks for almost a decade now and it’s inevitable that they’re going to bring out some of the lesser-known superheroes to the big screen. Even though it’s not well known to non comic book readers, Ant-Man movie has apparently been in development for many years. For anyone who’s been following the movie business, you’ve probably read the development dramas of this movie, from director Edgar Wright leaving the project to script changes and so on.

Personally I didn’t know anything about Ant-Man, the idea of a superhero the size of an ant just sounds too silly to me and didn’t really care about the movie version. Fortunately, the movie was very entertaining and I don’t mind seeing it again.    AntMan1AntMan2

After being released from prison, Scott Lang (perfectly-cast Paul Rudd) is trying to go straight because he wants to spend more time with his daughter. Lang was sent to prison because he tried to do the right thing, but in life doing the right thing doesn’t mean you’re going to be appreciated. He met up with is buddy Luis (Michael Peña) who tells him that he’d found a new gig that will make them a lot of money. Lang declined the offer because he wants to find an honest job but because he’s an ex-con no one will hire him. So after couldn’t find a steady job, Lang finally agreed to listen to Luis’ gig. According to Luis’ sources, there’s a house that belongs to a retired old man who’d stashed away some valuable items in his safe. All Lang has to do is break in and take whatever is in the safe and they’ll be rich.

Unfortunately when Lang got into the safe, all he could find was a weird looking suit, which he took. The suit and the house belongs to a man named Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Pym has been following Lang for years because of his skills as a thief. He and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) are trying to break into a highly secured building and they need Lang’s help. Unlike other Marvel’s superhero flicks, the scope of this film was quite small and the whole plot is actually a heist rather than a full-blown superhero story we’re use to seeing. We still get to see the usual hero learning to control his new power and so on. But the tone of this film was definitely on humor and lighter side and I’m glad they went that route.

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All the performances by the actors were great, I mentioned that Rudd was perfectly cast and he truly embody this character. He’s charming, quick witted and you want to see him succeed. Instead of the usual hero whose motivation to save the world was because he lost something important to him, here Lang is just a guy who wants to do the right thing and see his daughter. Douglas was also great as Pym, he has the same amount of screen time as Rudd, I didn’t want to talk too much about his character because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who wants to see this film.

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Lilly played the tough female lead and I thought she did a good job; I’m so glad the filmmakers didn’t make her into another damsel in distress type. Of course in this kind of movie, there’s always going to be the token minority/comic relief character and here I thought Michael Peña was very funny. Some of the jokes didn’t work but most of them had the audience laughing. The villain in the film is played by Corey Stoll, even though they tried to give him some motivations as to why he’s evil, he’s still a one dimensional bad guy.

This is still a Marvel comic book film so they need to show us some big action sequences and director Peyton Reed delivered on that end. I was surprised because his background is mostly in comedy but I thought he did a great job of staging the cool and kind of inventive action sequences. If you’re on the fence about seeing this film in 3D, I highly you seek it out in that format. Once Lang became the Ant-Man, the film showed some really eye-popping 3D effects.

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I didn’t really have any expectations for this film and I’m glad I saw it because it’s very entertaining and a lot of fun. In fact, I think this maybe the only comic book film from Marvel that the whole family can enjoy. Color me impressed.

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So have you seen Ant Man? Well, what did you think?

Thursday Movie Picks #53: Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 

Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)

It’s interesting that the requirement for this sci-fi genre is no space/aliens as a lot of my favorites in this genre aren’t the ones with aliens in them. In fact, I love sci-fis that don’t look or feel science fiction-y, in fact, intriguing sci-fis are those with rich layers of human drama that remind us what it means to be humans.

I immediately thought of including Ex Machina here, but I decided not to include something from this year. Instead, I’m selecting three from the past few years that have a small/modest budget (under $25 mil) that have made a big impression on me:

Predestination (2014)

The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

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As I mentioned in my review, the less you know about the plot the better the experience. Since I was just talking about directing duos, I have to mention the Spierig Brothers who also made this vampire sci-fi Daybreakers. The premise is rather bizarre and definitely not an easy one to grasp, but it’s well worth a watch. I like how the film started out with a bang but then the pace slows down considerably in the first act as we’re introduced to the characters played by Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook. The odd pacing seems deliberate and I actually think it’s pretty effective and engrossing in getting us to care about their journey. Snook is quite a revelation here and I kept hoping to see her getting prominent roles.

s I….

HER (2013)

A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

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Once in a while, a film you hadn’t heard much about suddenly sneaked in and took your breath away. In 2013, that film for me was HER. That’s what I wrote in my review over a year ago, and there’s still very few films that affected me emotionally the way this one did.

There are many robot/human *love* stories that’s been done time and again but what Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) experienced with Samantha (voiced brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson) is quite unlike any other. For one, there’s no physical presence of Samantha in the film but yet her presence is felt so viscerally. I’m going to borrow my from my own review… This is the kind of thought-provoking science fiction story that I wish Hollywood would make more of. Sci-fi is not always about aliens or cool-looking futuristic equipments or cars or what have you, but a good sci-fi should actually makes us ponder about our own humanity. I realize this film isn’t for everyone as there are a few people I recommended this to that aren’t wowed by it. That said, I think you owe it to yourself to at least give this one a shot.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

A love triangle develops between three friends who came of age at a mysterious, secluded boarding school and are destined to lead brief lives.

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This is another film where the less you know about the plot the better. If you just look at still photos or even the poster (which you can see on my review post), you’d never thought this is a sci-fi. It looks more like a mystery drama, and I think that’s the vibe director Mark Romanek was going for. Working from Alex Garland’s script, who later made his directorial debut in Ex Machina, the pace is decidedly slow and graceful in the way things unfold. The romantic drama sensibilities offer a stark contrast to the cerebral sci-fi nature of the story. I really need to watch this again, but I remember being really absorbed by this film. Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield are excellent here, it’s still one of my favorite performance from both of them even after seeing more of their work. It’s also exquisitely-shot in muted hues that perfectly match the somber tone of the film.

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What do you think of my sci-fi picks this week? Have you seen any of these films?

 

Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: Favorite directing duos & their film(s)

EverybodysChattin

Hello, hello! How’s everybody doing today? I’m still basking in the all the feels I got yesterday from THIS lovely tweet from my gorgeous cinematic sweetheart…

I spent a couple of days working on my tribute post for him but it’s so freakin’ cool that the man himself acknowledged it… it made all that effort so worthwhile, plus it was fun doing all those research on Stanley ;)

Ok so about those links…

Keith posted his thoughts on the Comic-con Batman Vs Superman trailer, I gotta say I agree w/ a lot of his points. The key word here is cautiously-optimistic.

On a related note, Margaret posted the brand spankin’ new trailer of Suicide Squad. Though I like the casting of Viola Davis and Margot Robbie, as of right now I can’t say I’m anticipating this one.

On the TV front, Brittani posted her thoughts of True Detective, Orange is the New Black and more

Abbi reviewed three films for his Film Friday series, one of which is Magic Mike XXL that I have absolutely zero interest on. I’d rather watch fully-clothed Stanley Weber reading a book for two hours than these vapid, gross men gyrating their bodies, blechhh!

The Signal is a sci-fi movie I’ve been curious about. Dell‘s review confirmed that I should give it a shot.

I LOVE when bloggers talk about their favorite composers, and Cindy highlighted the underrated Rachel Portman who made such gorgeous music, including my recent favorite, Belle.

Steven posted part 3 of his 150 Favorite Films from 2000-2015


Time for question of the week!

So this week’s question is inspired by the recent news that directing duo Chris Miller and Phil Lord will be helming the Han Solo movie, one of the many Star Wars spin-offs to come. I love The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street was fun, but it remains to be seen how Miller/Lord would fare directing an action sci-fi genre.

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There are quite a few directing duos in Hollywood. Another duo (who happen to be siblings) Anthony & Joe Russo, have been doing well for Marvel/Disney with the success Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Of course, the most famous duo siblings are the Coens. Seems that Joel & Ethan Coen almost always work together, and hey, two brains are always better than one right?

Fans of foreign art house films would likely cite the Dardenne Brothers (Luc & Jean-Pierre) from Belgium as one of their faves. I’ve only seen The Kid With the Bike from the Dardennes, but I REALLY want to see Two Days, One Night with Marion Cotillard. On a different spectrum, we’ve got The Wachowskis (Lana & Andy) and The Farrellys (Bobby & Peter).


So tell me, who are your favorite directing duos… and which of their films do you like best?

An Appreciation + Birthday Tribute to Stanley Weber

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If you read my blog regularly, hopefully you won’t go ‘Stanley who?’ He’s my first French actor crush and I think it’d only fit to give him a proper birthday tribute!

The Parisian-born actor Stanley Weber turns 29 today and it’s just the perfect time to give him a proper tribute. It’s always a joy for me to give a tribute to my favorite actor… even if at the moment most people have no idea who he is yet.

I’ve mentioned in several posts that I fell for Stanley in the Scottish rom-com Not Another Happy Ending. He really took my breath away in that movie, much like Christopher Reeve did in Superman: The Movie, Gregory Peck in Spellbound, and Toby Stephens in The Machine, just to name a few. Obviously these are all incredibly beautiful men, but it takes much more than a handsome face for me to be so bewitched by an actor. After watching more of his work and reading from a handful of interviews [thank God for Google Translate!], I’ve come to respect him more as an actor… a man with substance who truly cares about his craft, instead of merely seeking fame and fortune.

I hope that by the end of the post, you’ll see what I see in Stanley… why he’s an actor whose work I appreciate and whose career I will follow for years to come.

Stanley’s Acting Background

The son of renowned French actor Jacques Weber, Stanley spent much of his childhood wandering the theater and film sets. It’s when he was 14 years old, when his dad staged Cyrano De Bergerac in a theater in Nice that it clicked for him and he decided he wanted to become an actor. I love that he didn’t rely on his dad’s fame and pedigree to get ahead and he’s said that he had to work a lot harder to prove his chops.

2010/2011 CNSAD – 3e Année –
2010 LAMDA London (UK)
2009/2010 CLASSICAL ACTING COURSE
2006/2008 CLASSE LIBRE
2004/2002 COURS FLORENT

I’ve always gravitated to actors with theatrical background and Stanley is no different. In fact, he co-wrote/directed two plays with his classmate Pierre Giafferi, L’Eepouvantail (The Scarecrow) and Falstaff, during his Free Class session. He later joined the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris, and finished his classical training in LAMDA, London.

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Stanley’s early stage work: [top] Marius, Fanny and César w/ his dad Jacques [bottom l-r] Fallstaff, The Scarecrow

Photos courtesy of Stanley’s FB page.


Stanley in his own words

La Madeleine de Proust (Remembrance of things past)?
Sailing

The film about your life?
The Goonies

Your favorite book?
Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Your beauty secret?
I never shave

Your anti-stress?
Rugby

Fashion trend you hate?
The slim jeans

[from the BLIND Mag]

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Your definition of success?
Knowing that I have work all next year and I can afford to go two weeks on a boat, cutting the phone. That said, it’s like that, last year, I almost missed BORGIA as they had tried to reach me without success, and they were about to give up!
[per Optimum mag]

 Outside of acting, with whom and where do you feel this connection to life?
By sail, the boat – I am more and more – and rugby. The boat is the only place in the world where I reach a kind of serenity and a rare quiet home.

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Stills from Thérèse where Stanley played a young sailor

Personal hero:
Eric Tabarly – French Navy officer and yachtsman
When I was working on, I watched five … ten times the documentary on Tabarly. I was absolutely inspired by this guy, who speaks very little, hyper taciturn and has trouble expressing his feelings. This is something I too find in myself, and that’s why I do theater.

[per Fancy Glossy Trendy blog]


Ever since April 5, the day I fell madly for Stanley, I’ve seen pretty much everything I could get my hands on, including the French movies he did with NO English translation, i.e. Cheba LouisaI wish I could see more of his work, but sadly most of them are not available to see in the US. Hopefully that’ll change in the future.

Five Favorite Roles

Tom Duval – Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

StanleyNAHEStanley replaced Scottish actor Emun Elliott in the role of Karen Gillan’s publisher. Sometimes the actor replacing the original cast member ends up making the role even more memorable. Think Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in LOTR and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Ok so Tom Duval isn’t exactly an iconic role, it is a small movie after all. But to me, I LOVE that the fact that they made the character a Frenchman, he adds so much flair to the movie. Stanley’s positively swoon-worthy as Tom Duval, who’s a bit of a scoundrel. He displays his comic timing as well as his romantic vulnerability in the role.


Juan Borgia – BORGIA: Faith & Fear (2011-2013)

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Of course after seeing Stanley in NAHE, I had to see everything Stanley’s in. The first thing I checked out was this CanalPlus miniseries BORGIA: Faith & Fear. In the age of Da Vinci and Michelangelo, of enlightened creativity and unparalleled intellectual achievement, we’ve got the original Italian mafia family, led by Rodrigo Borgia. Juan Borgia is the eldest who’s described as an unscrupulous sexual predator.

It was one of his biggest roles straight out of his classical training, and Stanley carried this challenging role with aplomb. He held his own against more experienced actors like John Doman and was quite fearless in the most vicious and violent scenes of the series. It was quite a revelation to see his sinister side which both thrilled and scared me. He really got to display his range here given the volatility of Juan’s character. I’m grateful to Tom Fontana for discovering Stanley and giving him something really meaty to chew on.

Jean Azevedo –Therese Desqueyroux (2012)

Stanley_ThereseThis film was chosen to close the Cannes Film Festival of 2012 and it was director Claude Miller’s last film. Though Stanley only had a brief screen time with Audrey Tautou who’s the protagonist, he was not only memorable but adds so much energy to the film whenever he’s on screen. There’s a mischievous charm about his character, as Jean is a bit of a bad boy as he’s involved in a forbidden romance of sort with Tautou’s young sister-in-law. The French scenery is so beautiful and I particularly love the scenes near Jean’s shack by the water and the sailing scenes pictured above.

King Louis XV – Le Soleil Noir (2009)

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In one of the interviews I read, Stanley’s described this role as one of the most challenging as he had to portray the French monarch from age 16 all the way to 64. It’s one of three-part French TV-movie/documentary focusing on three of the most famous French monarchs. It’s done with lavish production quality and exquisite costume design. Shot right in Versailles, it showed the splendor and extravagance of the day.

Even in the midst of his classical training when he did this role, Stanley’s natural gift and versatility as an actor was in full display. He’s got that regal and dignified sensibility to make us believe he is a King, and he can be convincingly playful and seductive in one scene and deeply tormented in the next. Seeing pictures of the real Louis XV, of course he wasn’t nearly as gorgeous as Stanley, but his casting certainly makes learning history a heck of a lot more entertaining!

Renee – Violette (2013)

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Stanley only appeared briefly towards the end of the film, but it’s yet another memorable role. Like in Therese, Stanley’s paired with a more experienced French actress, César Award winner Emmanuelle Devos but he’s more than able to hold his own. It’s quite a sexy scene and I wish he had more screen time here.


Wish I had a time travel machine…

… to see Stanley on stage with Melanie Thierry in Anna Christie

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Photo by Kim Weber

I’d LOVE to have seen this Eugene O’Neill adaptation. Stanley played a young sailor who falls in love with a former prostitute who struggles to turn her life around. From some of the reviews I’ve read, Stanley displayed ‘sensitivity and passion’ the role requires.


Upcoming Projects:

Outlander season 2 – Dragonfly in Amber

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Stanley as Louis XV – I wonder if he’ll don a powder wig again as Le Comte

The Comte St. Germain is a wine merchant who is a competitor of Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) cousin, Jared Fraser. Jared is the relative that Claire and Jamie set sail to meet with in the season finale. St. Germain is a French nobleman who seeks retribution against Claire after she costs him an entire shipload of goods, and who may be involved with even more sinister activities.

I can’t wait to see Stanley in French monarchy regalia once again. I was hoping they’d show a preview of season 2 featuring him as the Comte St. Germain. Well once I have that I will post it here. I sure hope he’s got a decent screen time on this series and lots of sexy scenes with the beautiful Caitriona Balfe [fingers crossed]. I sure hope this role would open more doors for Stanley in Hollywood!

Pilgrimage

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In 13th century Ireland a group of monks must escort a sacred relic across an Irish landscape fraught with peril.

Stanley plays the Cistercian – Brother Gerladus, one of monks escorting the relic, along with Jon Bernthal and Tom Holland. I LOVE that Stanley doesn’t always go for glamorous roles, as he had to chop that gorgeous hair of his for the role. He posted a video on his Instagram showing his co-stars, including the newly-cast Spider-man Tom Holland, shaving his head off! Of course Stanley still looks so gorgeous with a bald head.

L’origine de la violence

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During a school trip to Germany, a young teacher, Nathan Wagner (Stanley) discovered a photograph of a prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp who bears an uncanny resemblance to his father Adrien. Returning to France, he spends time with his father and his family, but the memory of photography haunts him. He decides to embark on a search that will change his life forever. [per the film’s FB page]

This is Stanley’s first lead role in a French feature film from writer/director Élie Chouraqui. I’m sincerely hoping this movie gets an international release, with proper English subtitles for his non-French speaking fans like moi! I love the premise of the film, ripe for an emotional human drama filled with mystery and suspense. I know Stanley would be fantastic as the protagonist.


Joyeux Anniversaire, Stanley!

Many happy returns + may we see more exciting projects from you in the future!

FlixChatter Review: Self/less (2015)

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You know when you watch a trailer and you sigh because not only does the trailer practically gives away the entire movie, you also wish that the supporting actor played the lead role. Well, Self/less is such a movie and the actor I wish had played the lead is Matthew Goode. More on that later.

A couple of people pointed out to me on Twitter that the premise of this movie is practically identical to the John Frankenheimer-directed Seconds. I haven’t seen it once I checked it on IMDb, it’s indeed the same story! I don’t know if the screenwriting brothers David and Alex Pastor acknowledged that, but I have a feeling the 1966 film is far more compelling than this one.

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So the gist of the story is that Damian (Ben Kingsley), a wealthy magnate who’s dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. He’s just ‘an empty vessel,’ Doctor Albright (Goode) assured Damian as he gave him a tour around his highly-secret lab. The reason why Damian would want to go through such an extreme procedure isn’t explored well here but then again if you’re expecting a deep and thought-provoking film, well you won’t find it here.

The machine for such a radical procedure looks nothing more than modified medical CT scanners. It’s rather preposterous premise but it’s a fantasy sci-fi so you’re just expected to just suspend your disbelief and go along with it. It reminds me a bit of the procedure of John Woo’s Face/Off, alas the movie itself isn’t half as entertaining. When Damian wakes up, poof there goes Sir Kingsley from the movie, never to be seen again. In his place we’ve got the tall and buff Ryan Reynolds. It’s interesting that though the older Damian is British, his new self now speaks with an American accent. Now, you’d think that language is stored in the brain/consciousness, so wouldn’t you think that’d be transferred to his new body??

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In any case, no time to be concerned with that because the movie moves along at breakneck pace to get to the part where Damian 2.0 is enjoying life to the fullest. Placed in this huge house in New Orleans set up by the secret organization, Damian fills his new days partying and shagging every hot girl he fancies, powered by the red pills that block the hallucinations that plague him. These scenes are set in a series of montages set to some fast-paced music that are neither entertaining nor particularly memorable.

Of course Damian can’t live the good live forever, and a procedure this radical surely has extreme consequences. Damian soon finds out just how bad things get and *immortality* comes with a high cost… for him and the new body he now occupies. The more he discovers about the truth, the more he’s ravaged by guilt and our hero goes on a quest to set things right, as it were. There’s really no suspense as you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next. When Damian missed just one dose of that red pill, the hallucination became so vivid he simply couldn’t just dismiss it. By the time he ends up in St. Louis, the movie quickly descends into an action thriller.

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I kept waiting for some really fascinating stuff happening but that moment never came. Now, I said that I had wanted Matthew Goode in Reynolds’ role and I bet he could easily pull it off. But come to think of it, I can’t imagine the opposite. I just don’t see Reynolds possessing the elegant countenance nor the sheer intellect of Goode’s character. But what Reynolds is capable of is kicking ass, I mean he’s played several superheroes in his career after all. The filmmaker constantly zooms in on his massive biceps and athletic physique, as if we need to be more sold on that front. Yet what I’d like to see in this protagonist [well any protagonist for that matter] is charisma and wits, none of which is on display here. Therein lies the main issue I have with this movie.

Now, the script is hardly original nor imaginative, but the movie could still be more watchable if we have a charismatic lead. Alas, on top of having to witness two talented British actors being completely wasted, I was stuck watching an insipid *hero* for two hours. I’d also mention Natalie Martinez and Victor Garber but they’re not really given much to do here, either. To add insult to injury, this movie is devoid of style director that usually comes from director Tarsem Singh. I LOVE The Fall, which had style AND heart, and even the rather vapid Immortals has the self-described ‘Caravaggio meets Fight Club’ style to make up for it. But this movie is just bland in substance AND style.

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I’d say unless you’re a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds, I’d say skip this one. Instead of focusing on the cerebral aspect of the concept, Self/less is nothing more than just a standard shoot-em-up – predictable, laden with clichés and anchored by a totally dull lead. I read a review somewhere that said the slash in the film’s title is perhaps the most inventive part of the movie and that about sums it up.

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Have you seen this movie? Well, what did YOU think?

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

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So a couple of days ago when Twitter was all abuzz with news of the upcoming Han Solo spinoff movie, I was rather ho-hum about it. I’m not exactly clamoring to see this, nor the throng of other spin-offs as Disney’s milking the Star Wars franchise for all its worth. $4 Bil is really chump change considering the potential it could rake from it.

ChrisMillerPhilLordI suppose out of all the inevitable spin-offs, the Han Solo movie could be a fun action/adventure movie, that is if they get the casting right. Before I get to that, at least on paper they seem to get the directing pick right. The LEGO Movie directors Chris Miller & Phil Lord are going to be helming this, and it seems that directing duos seem to have worked well for the company [i.e. Anthony & Joe Russo w/ the excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier]. The also have a father/son duo Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan to pen the script, the former has written Star Wars Episode V and VI, as well as Raiders of the Lost Arc. According to THR, Miller was apparently an intern at Lucasfilm, and he was once asked to step into a Stormtrooper costume for one of George Lucas’ Special Edition Star Wars movies. How cool that life seems to have come full circle for him!

Now on to casting!

There have been a bazillion posts in the past couple of days and frankly, some of the choices they listed on some major sites are so preposterous. I mean Shia LaBeouf? Dave Franco? Zac Efron?? [smh] EW even suggested Ted and my worst nemesis, Jai Courtney, who’s more wooden than the Pechanga Oak Tree!

Now, I texted my pal Ted what his thoughts are on this whole project, so let’s start with that…

Ted’s thoughts

Like many Star Wars fans, Han Solo is my favorite character from the original trilogy. Personally I don’t really have the urge to see a film about Solo, even though he’s my favorite character from the franchise, I don’t know if his back story would be that interesting since he wasn’t involved with saving the universe until he met Obi-Wan and Luke years later. I’ll have an open mind and hope that the writers can come up with some good story about Solo’s past but till then count me as one of the people who don’t really have that much interest about this potential franchise for Disney.TaronEgerton2

Of course people have already about which actor should be playing young Solo, I’ve read somewhere that Aaron Paul is the favorite? Well I’m in the minority here and say that he would be an awful choice if he was cast in the role. Nothing against Aaron, he’s great in Breaking Bad and I can never see him as any character but Jesse.

I think they should go with an unknown for the role and my choice would be Taron Egerton. He’s not that well known yet and I thought he’s great in Kingsman: The Secret Service. If Disney decides to go with a better known actor then my choice would be the current golden boy Chris Pratt.


Ruth’s Thoughts

Funny that as I was driving home, I was exactly thinking that they should cast an unknown. I mean, Ford was still a carpenter when Lucas hired him to read lines for actors auditioning for parts in Star Wars! [per Wiki] Now, I’m not suggesting they cast some dolly grip or something, after all Ford did have supporting roles already by the time he was cast.

Well, the first person that came to mind was the same one that Ted suggested. We thought Taron Egerton has that mischievous, rebellious quality that fit the role of the space scoundrel. Solo is one of the great leaders of the Rebel Alliance so he should have that commanding presence but doesn’t take himself so seriously. The 26-year-old Taron is Welsh, but hey, it never stops Hollywood from casting UK actors in quintessentially American roles.

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Now, my second choice is an even more obscure actor who’s actually been in a film with Ford himself. Anthony Ingruber played the younger version of Ford’s character in The Age of Adaline and his resemblance to Ford is uncanny! I literally yelped when I first saw him in the trailer, I thought they did a ‘digital facelift’ technique or something like they did with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in X-Men 3.

AnthonyIngruberHanSolo

He’s also done amazing impressions of Solo in this video he posted back in 2008, but now seven years has passed so he’s more mature looking and hopefully has more acting experience as well. Anthony is 25 and 6-feet tall (a mere inch shorter than Ford) and if you watch the video, even his voice is so similar to Ford’s.

I hope they’d at least consider inviting this guy for an audition. I realize that good acting takes more than just the ability to do impressions of the original actor, but hey it’s a good start.

Another young actor that might fit the part is Ansel Elgort whom I’ve met when he was promoting Divergent. He’s only 21 though, so a little on the young side, but he’s got quite a swagger and ‘old soul’ quality about him even when two years ago. He’s a NYC native, VERY tall (6’4″) with a rather deep voice. He’s quite popular with the teen crowd I reckon, thanks to The Fault in Our Stars, and I think he’s a decent actor.

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Another name that keep getting a mention every time there’s a reboot of one of Ford’s many lucrative franchises is Chris Pratt. Now, I think he’s practically already playing a Han-Solo type role in The Guardians of the Galaxy, I’d rather see him as Indiana Jones.

The project is now set for a May 25, 2018 release, so we’ll probably be hearing casting news in the next few months.

 


So let the casting discussion commence… who would YOU like to see cast as Han Solo?

My entry to the Dream Vacation Blogathon

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When I found out that Katy over at Girl Meets Cinema is hosting this awesome blogathon, I knew I had to participate! I LOVE travel, it’s really one of the best things in life to be able to see different parts of the world and experience other cultures, it enriches you in ways nothing else could. So here’s the gist of the blogathon:

If you could travel to any place in the film universe with any of your favorite characters or love-to-hate villains, what kind of a vacation would you take? Post your choice(s) of a destination(s), and at least three characters who would tag along.

I’m blessed that I have an awesome travel buddy that is my dear hubby, but of course we’re talking about a dream vacation here so why not indulge in our fantasy a bit, right? ;)

I was going to pick a totally fantastical place like Aasgard [with Loki as my travel companion of course] but in the end I decided to go with real places, two of which I have visited before but would return in a heart beat. Oh how I wish I could be transported to one of these places right about now…

Not Another Happy Ending – Glasgow

Certainly you can’t be surprised by this. I’ve always been obsessed with all things Scottish and then THIS movie happens. I fell in love with two things from this movie, the French Adonis that is Stanley Weber… AND the city of Glasgow, which was beautifully-captured here. I wish more movies would be set in Scotland’s largest city as it’s really as picturesque as London, which is such a popular city used in movies.

Glasgow during the day… [click image to see a larger version]


Glasgow in the night time…

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Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

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Tom Duval – the publisher

Obviously I’d want Tom Duval, the French publisher, to be my travel companion. As he’s not a Scottish native, there might be areas of Glasgow we both can discover together. Plus, he can help me refine my novel and later publish it… nothing like a gorgeous man who loves books ;) He practically looks like a rugged French Clark Kent [swoon]

TomRoddy_NAHE1NAHE_TomRoddy1Ideally it’d just be me and Tom spending a whole day [or year] together in Glasgow, but Roddy is Tom’s BFF and he’s such a hoot! I love watching these two goofing off with each other.

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I’ll invite Anne, Tom’s business advisor, along for the ride too, it’s be nice to have a gal pal to gush about Tom with ;) And Darsie is technically an imaginary character but she’s a lot of fun so she’s welcome to show up anytime to spice things up!


Notting Hill (1999) – London

There are a bunch of great movies set in London but this is one of the first ones I saw that made me totally in love with the city of London. Notting Hill itself is a district in central London, a cosmopolitan neighborhood that host the famous Portobello Road Market. My husband and I went there in 2010 but I’ve always wanted to return to this charming city!

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I didn’t get a chance to ride those iconic red double-decker bus as we rode the tube everywhere, but it’s gotta be fun to see the city above ground.


Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

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I think William would just be preoccupied with Anna Scott so I’ll invite Bernie, Spike, and Honey to be my travel companion! Bernie has such a stressful job that I think he ought to have a little fun, something neither Spike nor Honey would have a problem with. I want to visit the posh stuff like Harrod’s and the Savoy Hotel where Anna was staying, but Honey would also take me to the off-the-beaten areas of London away from the tourists.

Sabrina (1995) – Paris

Aaaaah Paris… naturally I want Stanley Weber to be my own personal tour guide but he’s not exactly a film character ;) I knew I had to include the City of Light and this is one of my favorite movies that made me fall for Paris every time I watch it.

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“Paris is always a good idea.” – Sabrina

Indeed Sabrina… I’m right there with you. First time I visited Paris was when I was only 13, and I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the place until I returned last year with my husband. Needless to say, I fell in love with this city and seeing it on film always makes me feel so nostalgic.

Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

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I’d take Sabrina and her two Parisian friends Louis and Irene. Every time I watch this movie, which is quite often, I enjoy seeing Sabrina’s interactions with both of them. They’re her first real friends who took her under her wings, so to speak, when she’s just starting out.

I LOVE Fanny Ardant as Irene, Sabrina’s mentor at Vogue. I always remember her wise words to Sabrina, “You seem embarrassed by loneliness, it’s only a place to start.” and my personal favorite: “Illusions are dangerous people, they have no flaws.”

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I kind of have a crush on Patrick Bruel as Louis, and his character as a fashion photographer is so affable and cool. I’d LOVE to have someone like him show me his Parisian hang out and give me some photography pointers while we’re at it.


So that’s my dream vacation based on some of my favorite movies. Where would YOU like to go on YOUR dream vacation?

FlixChatter Review: Song of the Sea (2014)

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Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

I’ve been wanting to see this since I saw the trailer exactly a year ago. I was so impressed by the visuals of The Secret of Kells (2009), I adore the hand-drawn animation style where virtually EVERY single scene is worth framing. Five years later, filmmaker Tomm Moore is back with another mythical tale, this time it’s based on an ancient Celtic myth of the selkie, creatures that live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land (per Wiki).

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Brendan Gleeson is also back as one of the voice cast, but it’s David Rawle as the young boy Ben who’s the lead of the film, along with his younger sister Saoirse who’s mostly silent throughout the film. The story begins with a young boy losing his mother and later on, which prompts his dad Conor (Gleeson) to place Ben and Saoirse with their grandmother in the city. But from there, he ends up embarking on an adventure of his life.

I have to admit the story isn’t too easy to follow at times, but the visuals are so breathtakingly-beautiful I don’t mind so much. I’m not saying this film is more style than substance, as there’s a deep and magical quality of the mythical tale that once you grasp what’s going on, it’s really quite an emotional ride. I admire the tremendous craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating each animated piece. The vibrant colors and ethereal quality, paired with the lush Celtic music, it’s like a beautiful lullaby of a movie that transports you into an otherworldly realm.

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Like in The Secret of Kells where you could practically smell the trees and the ground the characters walk on, there’s something so evocative about the ocean landscape in this movie. I could practically feel the sea breeze, the chilly wave and wind of the Irish coast. The visuals is truly a feast for the eyes that the slower pace actually gives you room to appreciate the artwork before you.

This is an absolute must-see for any fan of animated features, or anyone looking for something unique and magical. There’s a heartwarming familial theme makes this a perfect film to watch with the whole family, even though there are perhaps some scenes that might spook really young children.

This movie was among the nominees for Best Animated Features at last year’s Oscar which went to Big Hero 6. Now if I had seen this last year, I would’ve been torn to pick between the two. Both are worthy contenders to be sure, though in terms of visuals, I think this one is more unique. Props to Tomm Moore for creating yet another animated masterpiece. This is only his second directorial project, so I can’t wait to see what else he’ll tackle next!

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What do you think of Song of The Sea?

Five for the Fifth: JULY 2015 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. Well, since this is Fourth of July weekend, a lot of my fellow Americans are celebrating all kinds of festivities, be that a 4th of July parade, barbecue, or fireworks at the park.

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But for some of us, it likely include getting together with friends and watch old favorites that celebrate the holiday, i.e The Patriot, Top Gun, Saving Private Ryan, Captain America or um, Team America: World Police? America F-yeah! :D But there are a bazillion of patriotic movies out there, and it doesn’t have to be all about the good ‘ol USA.

So what’s your favorite patriotic movie, be it US-related or about your home country?….

2. Now, I’ve sort of been holding off on blogging about Batman vs. Superman but with the release of a few new photos courtesy of EW, I can’t help being mildly intrigued.

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Are they flirting or plotting against Superman??

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“I am Batman!” [Supes is like, yeah dude, I know who the heck you are]

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Lex Luthor has surfer hair? What’s wrong with THIS picture?

I’m liking Gal Gadot more and more as Wonder Woman, in fact I think I’m most excited to see her than her fellow male superheroes. Ok yesterday I came across this whilst browsing the net. Den of Geek reported the origin story that led to Dawn of Justice movie happening sooner than perhaps even the filmmakers themselves anticipated:

It was while making his Superman reboot, Man Of Steel, that Snyder approached the producers of the film, Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer, with a suggestion. “I said ‘what about at the end of the movie we do a scene where there’s a crate full of Kryptonite delivered to Wayne Manor?”

The response? “Everyone was like… ‘okaay’. Once you say it out loud, it’s a problem, because you can’t unsay it.”

Now, I’m still not super excited yet for this film… but I have to admit I’m more on board with this than I was say, a year ago. Surely it can’t be worse than Man of Steel?

What are your thoughts about Dawn of Justice and/or these new pics?

….

3. Lots of new trailers hit the past week, here are three that caught my eye.

First one is this upcoming *epic* drama based on a true story, directed by Werner HerzogQueen of the Desert starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis and Robert Pattinson

A true story of the life of British explorer and adventurer, Gertrude Bell, QUEEN OF THE DESERT chronicles her journeys of love and loss in the Middle East during the early 20th century.

I have to say I’m mildly intrigued by this given Herzog’s directing, though I have reservation regarding the melodramatic tone of the film, not to mention the trailer itself is so darn sappy. It seems like it’s striving to be Lawrence of Arabia and though I like the fact that it’s from the female perspective, I’m tired of seeing Nicole Kidman in something resembling Australia. And what’s with James Franco?? He seems miscast right off the bat, I just don’t see him in a romantic role like this. Plus that music towards the end uses familiar music from Hans Zimmer’s The Thin Red Line. I swear that music’s been used by a bazillion other trailers and though it’s beautiful, the effect just isn’t as impactful anymore.

Then we have a remake of an Argentinian drama, Secret in Their Eyes. We have quite a cast here: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman [again].

A tight-knit team of FBI investigators, along with their District Attorney supervisor, is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered.

I still haven’t seen the 2009 Argentine film El secreto de sus ojos so I immediately watched the trailer of that one. Well I might give the original film a watch, it looks more mysterious and given that it doesn’t have the star power of the Hollywood version, I bet it’s a better film overall.

 

Now, last but not least, we’ve got Creed which is a spin-off of the Rocky films, and Sylvester Stallone is a cast member and also one of the producers.

The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Creed, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Michael B. Jordan‘s a talented up-and-comer who’s been getting lots of prominent roles lately. He looks good here and though I’m not really into boxing movies, I did like the first Rocky film and so I might watch this one. Scottish actor Graham McTavish (The Hobbit, Starz’s Outlander) is in this also.

What’s your initial thoughts of these three movies?

4. Another first look on a movie I’ve been curious about ever since it’s announced six years ago: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At the time, Natalie Portman was going to play Elizabeth Bennet, and now we’ve got Cinderella‘s Lily James in the lead role. She’s quoted as saying: “She’s the most badass zombie slayer there is.” Okay then, bring it on!

Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge — an army of undead zombies.

I know that Jane Austen purists probably aren’t keen on this twisted idea from Seth Grahame-Smith who penned the novel of the same name. But as a fan of period dramas, I get a kick out of classic re-imagining, and this idea is so bizarre it could actually be a lot of fun. Then again, I was one of those people who enjoyed the heck out of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was also borne out of Grahame-Smith’s novel. Check out the pics also from EW:

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This blissful image of a wedding at Darcy’s Pemberley is about to get bloody interesting

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Uh-oh… a lady isn’t supposed to devour a man in THIS way

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Jane & Lizzie equipped themselves for the zombie battle

I like the cast of this movie: Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, Douglas Booth as Mr Bingley and best of all, Jack Huston as the devilish cad Mr. Wickham. I’m not familiar at all with the director Burr Steers however, so hopefully he has the chops to pull off this crazy concept.

So what do you think of this classic-reimagining idea for a movie?

5. This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Katy from Girl Meets Cinema:

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I was thinking about Terminator Genisys reboot, it’s alternative timeline to bring back the original characters and how the story confused movie goers/critics. So my question would be:

Do you think reboots have to center around the original characters or OR can a franchise continue on successfully with brand new characters?


Well, that’s it for the July 2015 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: Terminator Genisys (2015)

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I initially had no desire to see this new Terminator flick; from the trailers that I saw I thought it lacked creativity and originality. But then a couple of weeks ago, James Cameron gave his blessings and said fans of the franchise will enjoy it. Being that I’m a fan of Cameron and love his two Terminator flicks, I decided to give this new sequel a chance.

Ignoring the events of the previous two films, things kick off in the future where John Connor (Jason Clarke), his best pal Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and a bunch of soldiers are battling the evil Skynet’s cyborgs. Connor has found a way to defeat the cyborgs and shut down Skynet permanently. But Skynet has a plan in place to win the war, they have created a time machine and sent one of their terminator cyborgs back in time to 1984 to kill Connor’s mom. In order to stop the cyborg and help Conner’s mom, Reese volunteered to go back in time.

Basically this opening scene was meant as a prologue to the first film. Then the film jumps to 1984 where they recreated the opening scene of the first film, we see the Terminator (young Arnold Schwarzenegger) just arrived in L.A. and was just about to kill the three punks but an older Terminator (old Arnold) came to their aid. A fight between the two Terminators ensues and then the younger cyborg was put down.

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We then see Reese arrived at another location in Los Angeles; he’s also met with another Terminator, the T-1000 (Byung-Hun Lee). When he’s about to get killed by the T-1000, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and the old Terminator came to his rescue. If you’ve seen the trailers then you pretty much knows how the rest of the movie will play out, our heroes gets chased by the evil cyborg and they have to destroy Skynet. The only difference here is that Sarah already knows what’s going to happen and she’s already prepared for Judgment Day. This is one of those films that think it’s smarter than it actually is. The writers came up with alternate timeline and time travel and just assume that the audiences have seen the previous movies. Sadly none of it made any sense and frankly I just didn’t care. The point of a reboot is to come up with something new and refreshing, here they just rehash elements of the first two films and threw in some “new” ideas. None of it worked and I was bored halfway through the movie.

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Even though he gets top billing, Arnold was just there to be the action hero and comic relief. The main leads are Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke. We’re supposed to care about these two characters like the first film but the two actors have zero chemistry. Jai might be the blandest actor since Hayden Christensen; he’s one of the current young actors that Hollywood is trying to make into the next big action hero. Clarke is no better, she’s trying to channel the brave and tough version of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah from the second film, but sadly she couldn’t convince me that she’s badass. As for the main villain, well if you’ve seen the trailers then you’ve already know that John Connor is the antagonist in this one and he’s also quite bland. If there were a great example of miscasting actors in prominent roles in a big film, this would be it. None of the actors fit into their respective roles. The only person belongs in the movie is Arnold and he’s great.

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On the technical side, the movie is flawless. Director Alan Taylor and his cinematographer did a great job of capturing look and feel of Cameron’s previous Terminator pictures. The 3D effects were very effective; the action scenes were well staged and best of all, no hand held shaking cam action sequences. Speaking of action, the franchise is known for its long action sequences but Taylor somehow decided to edit down the length of each action scenes, with the exception a helicopter chase, many of the action scenes were short and not really creative at all. Again here they tried to rehash elements of Cameron’s films and nothing else.

I guess the trend of this summer’s big films are reboots/sequels and Terminator Genisys is no different. While I thought the concept worked for Mad Max: Fury Road, it didn’t work for this movie. If you’re fan of the franchise then you might enjoy it, for newcomers you might get confused by all the references to the previous events in the past films. My two-and-a-half stars are only for the movie’s excellent Dolby Atmos surround sound and very cool 3D effects. I think it’s time for this franchise to get terminated.

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So have you seen Terminator Genisys? Well, what did you think?