Thursday Movie Picks #49: Animated Movies

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. Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today the theme is… 

Animated Movies

I grew up watching so many Disney animated movies [mostly those Princess movies] and in the 90s, starting with Pixar’s first movie Toy Story, I quickly became a huge fan of their work as well. But Disney and Pixar films are massively popular so for the purpose of this list, I’m selecting three animated films I love that are made outside of those two studios. There are quite a few out there that are worth exploring, and I’m always astonished at the huge amount of work that go into making animated features.

So here are three that left a big impression to me and worth watching over and over:

Chicken Run (2000)

When a bird “flies” into a chicken farm, the fellow chickens see him as an opportunity to escape their evil owners.

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I saw this Aardman animated feature years ago but I still remember it fondly. It’s such a bonkers idea to sort of remake The Great Escape but with chickens, yet it works brilliantly. Peter Lord and Nick Park’s claymation style is so unique and fun to look at, in fact the shape of the chickens alone are hysterical. I giggle just looking at them! I adore the characters, especially Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha) who’s the smartest of the bunch. She and Rocky the circus Rooster (Mel Gibson) didn’t exactly get off on the right foot, but they end up becoming close and believe it or not, their chemistry is so endearing. It’s such a hilarious and action-packed adventure that’s fun to watch over and over. It’s also got some of the funniest lines… “I don’t want to be a pie! I don’t like gravy.” Ha!

….

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.

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I have to admit the idea of this Dreamworks Animation didn’t immediately appeal to me, so I was so surprised how much I absolutely LOVED it! Of course by the time I saw it on Blu-ray, I kicked myself for not having seen this on the big screen! The flying sequence alone would make the admission price worthwhile. I did see the sequel on the big screen but I still have a fondness for the first movie when Hiccup and Toothless first met.

It’s one of the most memorable depiction of unlikely friendship that’s funny and heartwarming. Visually it’s breathtaking, as I mentioned the flying sequence is a marvel to behold. The music by John Powell has also become my personal favorite amongst a bazillion soundtracks I hear year after year. I re-watched it just before the sequel came out and I still enjoyed it immensely. Who knew a movie about dragons could have so much heart? [read my full review]

Song of the Sea (2014)

Saoirse, a little girl who can turn into a seal, goes on an adventure with her brother to save the spirit world and other magical beings like her.

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Having just seen this recently, it’s still fresh in my mind [review coming next week]. Made by Cartoon Saloon, an Irish-based animation studio, this is Tomm Moore’s second directorial effort. I immediately wanted to see it after watching The Secret of Kells. Just from the visual standpoint, it’s an amazing work of art, gorgeous and ethereal, and the movie itself has such a mythical quality. The story based on an Irish mythology certainly has a deeper meaning than the typical kids entertainment. In fact, this one might appeal to adults as much as kids.


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

 

Exclusive Deleted Scene of ‘Not Another Happy Ending’ featuring Stanley Weber via We Are Colony

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You already know how much I adore this movie. If I had to do a list of top favorite cinematic discoveries by year’s end, surely Not Another Happy Ending AND Stanley Weber would be at the top of the list. I’ve seen this charming Scottish rom-coms more than a dozen times and it still feels fresh to me every time I watch it. Karen Gillan is lovely in the lead role, supported by a set of wonderful Scottish actors: Iain De Caestecker, Henry Ian Cussick, Kate Dickie and Gary Lewis. But having a French actor as Karen’s co-lead adds an international flair to the movie, plus Stanley’s got a great comic timing and works so well together with Karen.

I bought the bundle from We Are Colony a few weeks ago. It’s so well worth it as I can watch the movie over and over, plus there are tons of behind the scenes goodies to complete the experience. So when a rep from We Are Colony contacted me to collaborate on a post on this exclusive deleted scene featuring Stanley Weber himself, of course I’d be happy to do it! Check out this newly-released clip below:

Frustrated by Jane’s defection to prestigious publishers Klinsch & McLeish, Tom (Stanley Weber) does his best to poach one of their leading writers Glen Buchan (Tom McGovern).

So get your Not Another Happy Ending bundle and enjoy this charming movie time and time again! Also check out the We Are Colony website to get exclusive access on a ton of great independent films that include exclusive extras, including ‘making of’ documentaries, behind-the-scenes interviews, deleted scenes and much more!

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Win Karen Gillan signed press book (and signed posters for runner-ups) + limited edition jewelry from Bonnie Bling!

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Competition closes June 21, 2015
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Check out the film’s trailer:

 

Weekend Roundup + Casting news I’m excited about

Hello everyone! I’ve been away for most of the weekend and away from my laptop so not much to report here in terms of movie watching. My mother in-law and brother in-law are visiting in town so we’ve been playing tourist around MN since Friday. I was able to finish my Jurassic World review before they arrived though, but I did not see a single thing since Thursday night when I saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

I don’t know when I’ll have time to reviewMeEarlDyingGirl_Pic it, but I urge you to check it out if it’s playing in a theater near you. It was a Sundance hit, winning the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, and rightly so. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll definitely appreciate life as you have it and the friendship you have in your life. Plus, if you love foreign movies, you’ll absolutely adore this movie!

Well, even though I didn’t have much time to watch movies nor blog this past few days, I did make a bit of progress on my next novel or more appropriately, my narrative endeavor. I’m not revealing any details just yet as it’s still in its infancy, but I’m happy just to be working on something new as it’s been over three years since I came up with this movie pitch! Let’s just say my crushing on Stanley Weber hasn’t been in vain as it’s mostly inspired by him, as well as my girl crush Gugu Mbatha-Raw ;)

Instagram_logoOh and I also joined the Instagram party just for the heck of it. So if you have an IG account, let’s connect there!

Ok, so here’s the casting news I’m super excited about!

Per TheWrap, Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac will star in The Promise, an epic love story that Oscar-winning filmmaker Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) will direct from a script he co-wrote with Robin Swicord (Memoirs of a Geisha).

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Heh, they should do something about that name eh? It’s so darn generic and wasn’t there a period piece with a similar name just released a couple of years ago with Alan Rickman & Rebecca Hall? I blogged about it here but doesn’t look like anyone (including me) saw it.

In any case, I do love the gist of this upcoming project:

Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, “The Promise” follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, and Chris — a renowned American journalist based in Paris. Bale will play Chris, an AP reporter in love with both a woman and the danger of being in a combat zone amidst a world that is falling apart. Isaac will play Michael, a medical student in love with the same woman but conflicted by old-world traditions and his heart.

The Ottoman Empire was dissolved in 1922 following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which resulted in an estimated death toll of between 800,000 and 1.5 million people. The subject has been near and dear to George, who in March 2013, was a guest of the Armenian State Pedagogical University, where the Irish filmmaker compared the Armenian genocide to the Rwanda genocide that he chronicled in Hotel Rwanda.

Boy, who’s going to be the lucky lady who will be *trapped* in THIS juicy love triangle? Whoever it’ll be, I’m already sold on the two male leads who are both gorgeous AND talented. I’m glad Isaac’s career is on fire right now and he’ll get his own Oscar to go with his name very soon too I hope.

JackHustonOn the flip side, I just learned on TheWrap as well that Jack Huston is no longer attached to play The Crow in the remake. Now, I think Brandon Lee had huge shoes to fill in the role and it’s going to be tough to top that film, but I like Huston and I think he could do a fine job. Plus I’d love to see him on screen with Andrea Riseborough who’s cast to play Sgt. Albrecht.

I’ve only seen him in American Hustle and Night Train to Lisbon, but most of you who watch Boardwalk Empire would notice him as Richard Harrow. I’m not too sad about it though, Jack is a talented young actor whom I hope would go on to star in better things. I’m looking forward to seeing him as Ben-Hur as well as Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies next year!

 


So that’s my weekend & casting roundup. How about you, seen anything good?

FlixChatter Review: Jurassic World (2015)

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It’s been twenty two years since the release of Jurassic Park, the phenomenal sci-fi thriller that’s still as timeless as ever when I saw it recently. So even though Steven Spielberg is no longer in the directing chair (but still served as executive producer), I was still anticipating my return to Isla Nublar.

This time around we’ve got a sprawling dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as envisioned by John Hammond. It’s been fully operational for about a decade but even with a giant shark-eating Dino-Shamu attraction, visitor rates is on the decline. So of course a new, shinier attraction is created to entice the masses.

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I have to say that there’s not much of the way of surprise or even suspense in Jurassic World. When they engineered a bigger, louder and scarier dino called Indominous Rex, you know it will somehow escape and wreck havoc on the park. There are thrills and special effects extravaganza when that happens and that’s really the reason to see a dinosaurs movie, but for me, it’s not enough for a movie to only succeed on a technical level.

I miss the wit and emotional depth of the original film. Richard Attenborough’s Hammond had such warmth when he first welcome us into the park… and he loved the creatures he built in that park so it was not just about profit. There’s also an intoxicating and contagious energy as the group begin their journey to Isla Nubar that just wasn’t present in this film. This time around we’ve got billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the Bollywood actor adds gravitas to the film despite not having much to do. Simon doesn’t really have emotional investment in those dinos other than what they could do to his pocket books. Same could be said about his employee Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who’s portrayed as an ambitious go-getter who’s all business and no time for *frivolity* like spending time with her two young nephews visiting the park.

The only person who seem to have a semblance of relationship with the lab-engineered creatures is Owen (Chris Pratt), a former navy who’s been working as a velociraptor trainer at the park. He even gave them cutesy names: Charlie, Echo, and Blue. The scenes involving him and those raptors are pretty cool. He had no idea the park is engineering this monstrous creature called the Indominous Rex, part T-Rex, Raptor, cuttlefish and frog which gives it all kinds of superpower like chameleon camouflage. The monstrous beast is truly the star of the show, not even Pratt’s charisma can compete with THAT. More of that later.

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So it’s during its paddock inspection when all hell broke lose. As if that mammoth lab rat weren’t vicious enough, the fact that it was bred in captivity means it’s got zero social skills and loves ‘killing for sport.’ The scene inside his paddock is the moment with genuine spine-chilling terror in the film, and the first time we get a sense just how horrible things would get in the park. The rest of the movie is pretty much a series of chase and action sequences, with the most thrilling parts involving dino vs dino fights. Seems that the Indominous Rex is kind of an analogy for the movie itself. Yes, it is bigger and louder, but bigger does not always mean better or more exciting. It doesn’t help that some of the human story is so lackluster and cheesy.

The romance between Owen and Claire falls flat for the most part and I cringe during the brotherhood story of the two young boys trapped in the park. It’s supposed to be heartwarming but it feels so forced that it comes off as hackneyed and annoying. It’s too bad because I really like Nick Robinson in the indie flick The Kings of Summer and Ty Simpkins seems like an adorable child actor. Don’t even get me started with Vincent D’Onofrio as the bad guy Hoskins, head of InGen’s Private Security division. He’s just irritatingly verbose and not nearly as sinister as his turn as Fisk in Netflix Daredevil. Omar Sy and Judy Greer are completely wasted here so not much for me to say about either of them. Jake Johnson basically served as comic relief in this movie and not much else, but at least he made me laugh a couple of times.

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Back to Mr. Pratt, Hollywood’s Boy Du Jour who’s charismatic and sexy in this movie. He’s definitely my first choice to play Indiana Jones, and here he even looks the part. But he’s not given much to do in this movie and most of the time his alpha male character across smug, not charming. I like Dallas Howard as an actress but her character is kind of tough to root for, which is the problem with the way she’s written. I mean, why the heck would they have her running around in heels the entire movie?? It’s not a question of whether she can pull it off [she did], but why?? Apparently that was the actress’ choice according to this article, “… those heels were her shield in a certain way as a woman. She felt like surrendering the heels felt like surrendering the femininity of the character…” Huh??

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But in any case, that’s one small quibble as the movie has other issues. Despite some of the spectacular action, the movie felt pretty boring at times. Even the most thrilling moment involving the Indominous Rex still didn’t hold a candle to the moment the t-rex escaped from captivity during a power outage in Jurassic Park. I suppose it’s not fair to compare it to the original and most of us knew it’s never going to top that first film. But at the same time, this seems to have a lot going for it to be much more memorable than it is.

Similar to a recently-released blockbuster Tomorrowland, this film has an intriguing concept and lots of attention to detail, but the movie as a whole just doesn’t gel as well as I had hoped. The emotional connection is non-existent either, despite the ever increasing peril the humans are subjected to. Humans are either being gobbled up like a piece of meat or thrown around like mere playthings, but it hardly matters because they didn’t earn our sympathies. Heck, the most emotional moment for me actually involves an injured dino as a result of Indominous Rex’ killing spree.

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It’s interesting that the producers hired director Colin Trevorrow, who only has one feature film credit under his name, the charming & quirky sci-fi comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. So this is his first foray into blockbuster territory, and though I think he is talented, I wonder if he’s really the right fit for this job. At times this movie plays like an action comedy, instead of a mystery thriller with some comedic elements. We’ve got the visual and effects spectacle, but yet the sheer terror and that sense of wonderment Spielberg gave us in the first film is largely absent.

Final Thoughts: Jurassic World is nothing more than popcorn cinema and no less disposable as the nameless extras gobbled up by Indominous Rex. I suppose if you go in expecting a ton of dino-chomping action and all kinds of chase scenes, then you probably enjoy this movie immensely. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this film, it just doesn’t leave a lasting impression to me. I’ve rewatched Jurassic Park countless times and still in awe, but I doubt I’ll be revisiting this film anytime soon. The only thing that remains epic, evocative and powerful is John Williams‘ score, even when a few notes came on in the beginning of the film, it made me feel nostalgic about the Jurassic universe. It speaks volumes about this movie when the classic score is still the most spectacular and memorable piece about it.

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Have you seen Jurassic World? Well, what did YOU think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + This Week’s Questions on Top 3 films of 2015 so far

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Happy Thursday everyone! Crazy how time flies, we’re already smack dab in the middle of Summer. So some of the biggest Summer movies have been released: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland and Jurassic World this very weekend. July will give us Terminator Genisys, Antman, Minions and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Hmmm, I don’t know about you but it hasn’t been a stellar year for Summer movies eh? Apart from Fury Road, no big tentpole movie has REALLY impressed me yet.

There are perhaps more smaller/indie movies that made an impression, that’s why I’m excited for tonight’s screening of the Sundance hit Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. [For Twin Cities film fans, check out my FB for an advance screening pass offer]

Ok, now let’s get to those linky dinky…

Nostra gives us another great ‘Many Faces Of’ post, this time on the versatile & handsome thespian Oscar Isaac 

Speaking of Oscar Isaac, check out Cindy‘s commentary on his and Al Pacino‘s career

Mark finally saw Mad Max: Fury Road and gave an appropriately glowing review

Speaking of which, Jordan gave a high praise to The City of the Lost Children (1995) from his fave directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet

On the flip side, Jay warned us not to bother with Unfinished Business

Wendell went down memory lane and posted about the movie he grew up with, The Last Dragon

Steven started his new Auteurs Series, this time shining the spotlight on Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu – check out the full post on Cinema Axis

Last but not least, Irene reviewed the latest Nicole Kidman + Colin Firth’s collaboration Before I Go to Sleep


Time for question of the week!

Well, as I mentioned above, I haven’t been all that impressed with most big tent-pole movies that’s been released so far. In fact, if the first five months is any indication, it’s a rather lackluster year for blockbuster movies. I can’t even pick my top 5, let alone 10 as of yet, but I think I can pick three. I’m picking those that I know I want to see again, preferably even later this year. So here goes:

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  • Cinderella
    I don’t know yet if this will end up in my final top 10 but it’s definitely my fave of this year so far. It was delightful and enjoyable, something I don’t mind rewatching over and over. So yeah I can’t wait to get the Bluray!
  • Ex Machina
    No doubt this one will make my top 10, maybe even top 5! Masterful work by Alex Garland… stylish, provocative and haunting. Plus it’s got Oscar Isaac in one of his most fun roles to date.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
    Well, what else is there to say? Fury Road is awesooooome!! A thrilling, fun ride with plenty of heart. As Mark said in his review, see it on the biggest screen possible. I intend to do so and hopefully this time I can find one with Dolby Atmos!

Let’s hope there’s more gems in store for 2015 and that the best is yet to come!


So what would you top 3 favorite movies of the year so far?

Music Break: Jurassic Park Soundtrack (1993)

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Well, I saw Jurassic World last night. It was one of my most-anticipated movies of the year and one of the most evocative thing to me is STILL John Williams’ score. It’s one of my top 10 favorite scores from this legendary composer, out of a long list of phenomenal work. The score played within the first 15 minutes of the film and I immediately felt nostalgic about the first Jurassic Park movie that opened in 1993. That was 22 years ago and boy the score still felt as fresh and powerful as ever. I’ll save my thoughts about the new movie for my review but since I’ve been humming this score all day today, I thought I’d highlight it on today’s music break!

Apparently Williams began writing the Jurassic Park score at the film at the end of February of 1993, and it was conducted a month later (per Wiki). WOW! Can’t imagine it only took him a month to come up with something so iconic and legendary. Even just hearing a few notes, the score is immediately recognizable and so evocative that it REALLY takes you to Isla Nublar in Central America.

There’s a sense of adventure that’s simply intoxicating in the score. That chopper scene on the way to the island is full of excitement and hope, completely unsuspecting of the danger in store for them once they get there. There’s a slight ominous tone in the score below, but only briefly, as then the music swells up again with that iconic theme that makes you even more excited to see those dinosaurs!

This gentle and sublimely gorgeous score is not as popular as the main theme, but I absolutely love it. It fits the gentle nature of the largest known dinosaur, the Brachiosaurus.

Per Wiki, similar with another Steven Spielberg film he scored, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Williams felt he needed to write “pieces that would convey a sense of ‘awe’ and fascination” given it dealt with the “overwhelming happiness and excitement” that would emerge from seeing live dinosaurs.

I’m glad they still use this iconic score for the new film. I can’t imagine topping this masterful work.


Hope you enjoy this Music Break. Do you love this score as much as I do?

FlixChatter Review: SPY (2015)

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I have a confession to make. I haven’t seen Bridesmaids nor any of Melissa McCarthy’s R-rated comedies The Heat, Identity Thief, and Tammy. I’m not exactly fond of raunchy comedies with all the foul language and gross situations that I don’t find the least bit funny. But somehow when I saw the trailer for SPY, I was laughing so hard I actually watched it several times before the screening. I guess I love the spy action genre, and the casting of Jason Statham and Jude Law didn’t hurt either. Once the movie starts though, it’s clear that it’s McCarthy who’s the STAR of the show, she’s effortlessly hysterical and here she’s instantly likable. I was rooting for her character Susan Cooper right from the start, when she’s merely a desk-bound CIA analyst who’s desperately in love with a handsome spy (Jude Law).

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The story itself is pretty basic. When an operation goes bust, Cooper ends up volunteering to be a field agent and of course, hilarity ensues as she goes undercover to infiltrate the dangerous world of a deadly arms dealer. Just like any Bond or Bond-like movie, of course her mission is to prevent a psychopath villain from getting their hands on a nuclear weapon and save the world. But the plot hardly matters in a movie like this, so long as they keep the comedic moments coming and thankfully they did! Perhaps the fact that I’m not all that familiar with Paul Feig‘s brand of comedy works in my favor as at least it felt fresh to me.

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McCarthy herself is such a hoot here, she delivers the laugh from start to finish. It helps to see her paired with someone equally hilarious. Not sure why English comedienne Miranda Hart looks familiar to me as I’ve never seen her before, but I hope she’d get her own movie in the future. She’s simply hysterical and they have such a fun rapport together. If they ever do a movie or TV show with Melissa & Miranda together, I’d so watch it!

As a big 007 fan, of course I love all the Bond references, down to the moment when they go to the Q-branch to get her spy gadgets. The movie’s villainess comes in the form of gorgeous Rose Byrne. I’ve only seen her in a couple of non-comedic roles but she definitely has genuine comic timing. I remember McCarthy said in one of her interviews that Rose’s hair is basically a character in itself and it sure is! Her character is deliberately over the top but she also has some of the funniest bits in the movie “It’s the Bulgarian clown in you.” Ha!

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The casting of Jason Statham may seem odd but he got his start in an Guy Ritchie’s action comedy (Lock, Stock Two Smoking Barrels & Snatch) so he’s actually quite a natural here. Of course it’s a hoot seeing him poking fun at himself and a bunch of preposterous action scenes he’s been in. The bit where he’s bragging about surviving all kinds of ridiculous calamity is pure comedic gold! Allison Janney with her deadpan expression is pretty funny too as the no-nonsense CIA boss.

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Now, I’ve mentioned that I’m not fond of raunchy, foul-mouthed comedies and so of course there are scenes here I don’t care for. Seriously, those selfies of male genitalia is imbecile, gross and utterly unnecessary. I really don’t think it adds anything to make the movie funnier, and neither are the excessive f-bombs though sadly most people have become desensitized to such things these days. I’m also not that impressed by Bobby Cannavale (Byrne’s real life boyfriend) as this suave but deadly arms dealer. His character is too much of a caricature, so I guess I have more of an issue about how he’s written. Byrne’s character is definitely far more memorable and more fun to watch.

Despite those quibbles, I had fun with this one and I might even rent this later.I might also give The Heat a watch as it also has Sandra Bullock who’s always fun to watch. This movie made me like Melissa McCarthy and I think it’s great that her movies are box office hits! It’s about time we see guys like Statham and Law playing second and third bananas to her, and that we see more and more female-centric movies in general.

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Have you seen SPY? Well, what did YOU think?

Weekend Roundup: In a Period Drama Mood

Happy Monday everyone! Another full week in store for me this week, but I’m excited for the Jurassic World and Inside Out screenings back to back Tuesday and Wednesday.

This weekend ends up being rather busy but I managed to fit in a couple of rewatches and a new movie I haven’t seen before, the Irish animated fantasy Song of the Sea (review upcoming). My tumblr feed has been filled with all kinds of Jane Austen gifsets lately and so it puts me in a period drama mood.

BBC Sense & Sensibility (2008)
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Most Austen fans would say that their favorite is Pride & Prejudice but for me, Sense & Sensibility reigns supreme, followed by Persuasion. So nearly every year I have to watch at least one version of this adaptation. The Ang Lee version is still superior on the whole, it’s after all one of my top five favorite films of all time. But there are quite a lot of things I love about this version, especially in the casting of Hattie Morahan & Dan Stevens as Elinor Dashwood & Edward Ferrars, respectively. Oh and I also love Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood. Hard to beat Alan Rickman but David Morrissey is more than adequate as Col. Brandon and I’ve grown to like his portrayal more and more. I didn’t care for Dominic Cooper as the dashing cad Willoughby though, and still don’t this time around.

Bride & Prejudice (2004) 

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This is a Bollywood version of Austen’s most popular novel. I’ve reviewed it here, and this is such a fun movie to watch over and over. So goofy and at times hilarious, but I think it captures the essence of the story as Austen intended. Aishwarya Rai is mesmerizing as Lalita Bakshi (Lizzie Bennett) despite being far too beautiful in the role. Martin Henderson provides quite an eye candy as Darcy with his dimpled good looks, and fellow Aussie Daniel Gillies makes quite a charming Wickham. Gurinder Chadha did a nice job adapting the classic story and somehow fit it into the Indian culture. I thought that the portrayal of Lizzie’s parents are spot on, especially Mrs. Bakshi who’s unabashedly eager to marry off their daughters. Naveen Andrews makes for the most charming version of Mr. Bingly, can’t imagine any of the British actors be up for THAT kind of vigorous dancing, ahah.

North and South(2004)

I’ve dedicated a post for Richard Armitage‘s performance as John Thornton in this amazing BBC miniseries a while ago. It still stands as one of my top five period dramas of all time!

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From time to time I’d watch clips of this on Netflix streaming, but this weekend I watched the last two episodes… and of course the ‘Look back… look back at me‘ scene gets me every time! Nothing like a gorgeous tortured soul to stir my heart and Armitage looks positively gorgeous as the venerable & vulnerable Mr. Thornton.

The Rise & Fall of Versailles (2009)

Speaking of gorgeous, of course not a weekend passes by these days without at least one Stanley Weber viewing ;) And because of the recent casting news that Stanley will be portraying a French nobleman in Outlander season 2, I re-watched this documentary on King Louis XV. It’s also available in the full French version called Le Soleil Noir (The Black Sun) which I’ve also seen despite not having English subtitles.

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For anyone who’s into French history, this three-part documentary that goes all the way to the French revolution is fascinating and insightful, not to mention damn right sexy! The French sure knows how to make history lesson so titillating by casting such hot young actors as their monarchs, ahah. Louis XV is known for being quite a virile King with a colorful sexual history and this documentary doesn’t shy away from that. The set pieces and cinematography is fantastic for a TV documentary and it was filmed on location in Versailles. It’s especially fun to watch this as I was just there last year. So Outlander fans curious to see Stanley in French aristocracy regalia, be sure to catch this one and it’s on youtube and Hulu!

 


Well that’s my weekend, what did YOU watch?

FlixChatter Review: ENTOURAGE (2015)

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When Entourage aired on HBO from 2004-2011, I used to watch it religiously. In fact, I thought it’s one of the best shows on TV at the time. But just like most great shows, the last couple of seasons just went downhill. Nevertheless, when the producers announced that a film version was going to come out right after the show ended, I can’t help but get excited about it.

Unfortunately it took them 4 years to get the film to the big screen and now the boys are back. For those who’ve never seen the show, it’s loosely based on the show’s producer Mark Walberg’s early career in Hollywood. It celebrates and at the same time, mocks the excess life style of the celebrities and filmmakers in Hollywood. The show’s also well known for its famous cameos from celebrities, athletes, musicians and filmmakers. Even A-list directors such as James Cameron and Martin Scorsese appeared on show.
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The film picks up just a few weeks after the show ended. Ari (Jeremy Piven) is now running a big Hollywood movie studio. Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his best pal/manager Eric “E” (Kevin Connolly) are now single again. Vince’s brother Johnny “Drama” (Kevin Dillon) is still trying to make it as an actor even though he’s well into his 40s. While Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) became super rich after he started his liquor business with Mark Cuban. Since Ari is close with Vince, he offered him to star in his first big tentpole picture for the studio. Vince said he’ll do it only if he can direct it too; this of course made everyone nervous since no one knows if he can direct a film or not. The story then jumps 8 months ahead and Vince’s film is almost done, but he’s yet to show it to Ari because he needs more money to finish the visual effects.

In order to get more money, Ari has to go to Texas and beg the studio’s co-financier billionaire businessman named Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) to write him another check. McCredle is not happy because he’s invested a lot of money to the studio and he’s yet to see his returns. Vince’s new film will make or break a lot people’s careers, including Ari’s. McCredle will give Ari more money only if his spoiled and obnoxious son Travis (the unrecognizable Haley Joel Osment) likes the movie. This creates a problem because Ari has yet to see a single frame of Vince’s film.

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This kind of storyline would’ve been great had the filmmaker stuck with it, but unfortunately the rest of the movie is all about the boys’ usual shenanigans. I don’t want to see another lame storyline of Eric having more girl issues, Drama embarrasses himself again and Turtle trying to get laid with a hot chick. And the supposed star of the show, Vince, didn’t have much to do throughout the film. Why didn’t they write up a story of Vince’s struggle to make his first film and the responsibilities of directing a tent pole picture? That would’ve been a great story to tell; unfortunately this film’s just a longer version of the bad TV episode from the show.

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The only saving grace for this film was Jeremy Piven’s performance, I’m glad they made him the lead. The rest of cast were fine, I mean they’re so comfortable with their respective characters that no one could screw up. Pretty much all of the familiar faces showed up in this film and of course the endless cameos.

Most fans of the show will probably love it but for me it’s quite disappointing. It has so much potential but they’ve decided to just make another bad episode, just two hours longer.

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Have you seen the Entourage movie? Well, what did you think?

Five for the Fifth: JUNE 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, gotta start with the most exciting casting news I’ve heard in a good long while. My dahling Stanley Weber has just been cast in Outlander season 2 – Dragonfly in Amber! Yippeeeeeeeee!!! [happy dance]

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Apparently a great deal of the second book takes place in Paris during King Louis XV era, which is interesting considering Stanley’s played the French monarch in the Le Soleil Noir documentary. His character is called Le Comte St. Germain, dayum even his character’s name is sexy. Now, I don’t read the books, but per Outlander Wiki, Le Comte 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 wonder if he’ll be speaking in his native tongue or French-accented English, which hardly matters as he’s swoon-worthy no matter what language he’s speaking.

I’m so over the moon for this casting and you can bet I’ll be watching season 2 religiously! I just hope now that he’s noticed by a major US TV series this will lead to more prominent roles here in the States.

So what TV/film casting news excited you lately? 

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2. On related news, well I think 2015 just might be the year we say sayonara to cable subscription as more channels are offering stand-alone services. I know one of my co-workers has just canceled his cable and got the HBO streaming service for $15 bucks/month.

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Well, Showtime will offer its programming over the Internet via a standalone service starting in July for 4 dollars less, $10.99. No doubt other premium cable service will follow suit. I’m just waiting for Starz to do the same, hopefully soon so by the time Outlander Season 2 comes out I can definitely watch it on its premiere day!! Not sure why it hasn’t happened yet as they’ve been reporting about it as far back as October of last year.

What are your thoughts about this a la carte premium channel? Have you gotten rid of your cable subscription recently?

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3. A couple of brand new trailers caught my attention this week. First one is this upcoming British drama SUFFRAGETTE starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep and Anne-Marie Duff

The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.

The trailer gives me all the feeeels. But seriously, it’s such an important story to be told and we’ve got an amazing female-led cast to bring it to life. It’s definitely got Oscars written all over it with Meryl’s involvement, but I’d love to see more attention for Mulligan, as Drew would agree. Anne-Marie Duff is an underrated actress as well. Duff was good in Nowhere Boy and The Last Station where she shared some scenes with her hubby James McAvoy.

Speaking of films I’d watch just for the cast, this one just hit less than 24 hours ago: EVEREST. That’s quite an ensemble!

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Per IMDb, this movie is based on the worst disaster to ever occur in the Mount Everest region in Nepal but a striking coincidence occurred when this movie was being shot in Nepal. An avalanche on April 18, 2014 killed 16 people on Everest and the casualty was higher than the 1996 disaster which this movie is based on. The shooting had to be postponed and the disaster took the most lives ever taken in an Everest Disaster mostly Sherpas (all Nepalese) who were preparing ground work for the upcoming climbing season.

What’s your initial thoughts of Suffragate and Everest?

4. Ok I’ve sort of been tuning out all the Star Wars news because well, there are just too many of them. Well, the one rumor that’s now swirling around again is one involving Ewan McGregor reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in not just one movie but a trilogy.

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Per Cinemablend, “the Scottish actor is reportedly in talks with Disney for an unknown project… the discussions are specifically about him reprising his role as the venerable Jedi Knight… A trilogy of films like this could serve to fill in some knowledge gaps in the franchise, which is something many of the new Star Wars properties seek to accomplish, as well as give fans more from one of their favorite characters.”

Well, I honestly don’t really have an opinion personally, as I’m not really into Star Wars generally. I just think they’re just milking this franchise for all its worth, but I suppose if they can find an audience, there’s always money to be made.

What are your thoughts about this Obi-Wan spin-off trilogy rumor?

5. This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Chris from Movies and Song 365 blog!

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The Australian action series Mad Max just got rebooted with Mad Max: Fury Road. The movie’s made $285 million worldwide so far, and I think George Miller has promised more Mad Max films, yay!

So in Mad Max honor, which is your favorite Aussie movie?


Well, that’s it for the June 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