Thursday Movie Picks #54: Sequels

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… 

Sequels!

Since I have to pick only three out of a possible 10-20 sequels that have become my favorites, I have to set some sort of parameter to narrow things down. So for this particular list, I’m focusing on live-action movie sequels of the last decade. So that means I’ll be excluding some great animated movie sequels like Toy Story 2 and How To Train Your Dragon 2, as well as some of my all time favorites like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman II, X-Men 2, Terminator 2, The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, or even Spider-man II as that was released eleven years ago. Interestingly, I ended up picking three that are part of a trilogy (the final film of the rebooted ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, War of the Planet of the Apes, is in the works for 2017).

So without further ado, here are my picks of three favorite sequels of the last 10 years:

Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
TMP_Sequels_Bourne3

Jason Bourne dodges a ruthless CIA official and his agents from a new assassination program while searching for the origins of his life as a trained killer.

For some reason I had not reviewed any of the original Bourne trilogy but they certainly are superior than Bourne Legacy. For one thing, Jeremy Renner just isn’t charismatic or intriguing enough as a super spy. Matt Damon on the other hand, somehow fits the role of Jason Bourne perfectly. I actually wasn’t a big fan of the actor until I saw Bourne Identity, but Damon absolutely killed it as a trained killer. The final third chapter of Bourne’s journey is one relentless thrill ride, featuring some of the craziest car chases ever filmed thanks to Paul Greengrass’ phenomenal camera work. The film also benefited David Strathairn and Joan Allen’s performances in the supporting role. Plus the music by Moby is awesome, I’ve done a Music Break on that a couple of years ago.

s I….

The Dark Knight (2008)TMP_Sequels_TheDarkKnight

When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the caped crusader must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice.

When you’re talking about best sequels of the last decade, you can’t possibly overlook this masterpiece by Christopher Nolan. I have seen it half a dozen times and I’m always in awe every single time. It’s SO much more than just popcorn entertainment, though there are fun action scenes abound like the awesome truck-flip sequence (one of those scenes I could watch over and over). But what really riled me up and stayed with me for days after is THIS interrogation scene between Batman & The Joker. Two of this generation’s finest actors together in one room, Christian Bale & Heath Ledger were in top form here, each giving an Oscar-caliber performance. Ledger won a Best Actor award posthumously, but even if he hadn’t passed away, he deserved at least a nomination for that riveting performance.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)TMP_Sequels_DawnPlanetApes

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.

I never thought I’d like this *intelligent apes* story when I saw the first film, as I hadn’t even seen the original Charlton Heston movie by then. But I was so taken by Caesar’s story, played brilliantly by mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis. The second film proved to be an even more emotional journey for Caesar, I teared up on that scene when he saw the house he grew up in. The film isn’t perfect, i.e. what’s up with Gary Oldman’s screaming matches, but overall it was a truly immersive experience. Matt Reeves created a wonderfully atmospheric loaded with genuine suspense and terror, as gripping as it is emotionally-gratifying. [my full review]. Glad he’ll be back for the third film.

……


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

Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: Supporting cast you wish got the leading role

EverybodysChattin_Movies

I can hardly believe half of the year’s already come and gone! It’s been a rather odd month for me, but in terms of movie watching, it’s rather uneventful. I sure hope the later part of 2015 have better films in store for us… and looking at Katy’s list of highly-anticipated movies for the rest of 2015, I think the chance of that is VERY promising! I’d add Southpaw to the list, which I’ll be seeing on the third week of July, and The Man from UNCLE which looks like fun!

Ok so about those links…

Since I’m currently embarking on my first screenplay project, this post on opening sentences in fiction from my pal Cindy, who happens to be a novelist herself, is definitely an inspiring read

I won’t have a Music Break post this week, so take a listen to Josh‘s pick of Movie Song of the Week

Khalid reviewed Terry Gilliam’s comedy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Andrew is back with his Oscar series 4 Ways a Best Picture, and the year is 2009

Jay just reviewed a film I still haven’t got around to but will have to soon, Calvary

Though Summer’s just starting here in the States, Michael‘s veering into cold, dark horror territory with his book-film duo post on The Shining

And last but not least, Eddie‘s talking about Orphan Black season 3, a series I’ve been curious about for some time.


Time for question of the week!

So this week’s question is inspired by my recent viewing of Self/less. My review of it is done in my draft folder, but there’s one thing that’s stuck with me whilst I was watching it. In fact, I kept thinking about it as I was writing my review. Why isn’t a perfectly talented actor like Matthew Goode leading this movie? Now I’m not saying the movie would’ve automatically been stellar as no matter how good an actor can’t overcome a bad script, but at least Goode would’ve been more enjoyable to watch for two hours than Ryan Reynolds!

Goode_Selfless

I had the same feeling when I watched Tristan + Isolde a few years ago. I kept wondering why they cast James Franco being all sullen and morose as Tristan whilst the much hunkier Henry Cavill was stuck playing third banana. Now I’m not saying Franco is a terrible actor, I just think Cavill would’ve suited the role better. Heck, even Rufus Sewell who’s another supporting actor in the film left a more lasting impression to me than Franco did. I even dedicated a post here.

Cavill_Tristan_Isolde

The New World is another one that came to mind as I think Christian Bale would’ve been great in the lead role instead of Colin Farrell. The last 20 minutes of the film with Bale is the highlight of the film for me and I actually bought the DVD because of it.

Interesting that both Cavill and Bale have ended up becoming Superman and Batman, respectively, I didn’t purposely select them because of it, but clearly both have leading-man qualities.

Bale_NewWorld

I’m sure there are others but let’s just start there. I bet you’ve also felt the same when you watch certain films.


So tell me, which films have you seen where you wish one of the supporting cast got the lead role?

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).

Isaac_Bale_ThePromise

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?

Rental Pick: John Singleton’s SHAFT (2000)

ShaftBnr

New York City police detective John Shaft (nephew of the original 1970s detective) goes on a personal mission to make sure the son of a real estate tycoon is brought to justice after a racially-motivated murder.

I’ve been curious about this movie for some time but I forgot that it’s available on Netflix streaming. As my hubby and I were in the mood for an action flick, this was a good a time as any to finally check it out. One thing I noticed right away was how young Samuel L. Jackson looked here, though this was made only a decade and a half ago. He’s basically playing the same tough guy character as Nick Fury and a bunch of other action roles – same snarky attitude and that cocky swagger.

It’s interesting to see him go after some rich SOB Walter Wade Jr. played by Christian Bale, the same year he also plays another rich psychopath in American Psycho and 5 years before he plays an even richer guy Bruce Wayne, but at least he uses his privilege for good in those Batman films. He’s quite convincing as some racist bastard, you really wants to punch his smug face every time he’s on screen. But he’s actually not the most memorable villain in this flick, that’d be Jeffrey Wright who plays a ghetto drug kingpin Peoples Hernandez. It’s amusing to see an African American actor playing a Hispanic man, he’s definitely the movie’s scene stealer here.

The rest of the supporting cast was pretty good. Toni Collette is quite memorable here too as the witness Shaft’s trying to convince to testify and rapper Busta Rhymes provides comic relief as Shaft’s frantic driver. I haven’t seen the original Shaft films, but I’m familiar with Richard Roundtree who had a supporting role as Shaft’s uncle. I also like the fact that they didn’t make the beautiful Vanessa Williams to be just the eye candy factor or damsel in distress, in fact she actually saved Shaft in one key scene.

ShaftMovie

The movie itself was pretty entertaining – good pacing, interesting characters and dynamic action scenes. Yet it wasn’t just all about car chases and shootouts, as the story was pretty involving but not overly complicated. John Singleton definitely had style and some of the camera work was pretty cool to watch. It’s also quite violent and there are as many F-bombs flying out as there are bullets, I read on IMDb that there were F-word was used 165 times in this movie, wow! At least the violence wasn’t too gratuitous. The finale also still manages to surprise me, and I remember not having recovered yet from the tense scene between Shaft and Hernandez. Not a bad rental and I’m glad I finally saw this one. I’m actually surprised there isn’t a sequel to this, I’d think that it might’ve been a hit back then.

3halfReels


Have you seen SHAFT? Well, what did you think?

Weekend Viewing Roundup + The Two Faces of January (2014) review

Well last Friday was the first weekend of Spring but Winter’s still not done with us yet as it was the Winter Wonderland again Sunday night. I didn’t think the snow was going to stick but here’s what my neighborhood looked like as I left work this morning! I do love those snow-covered branches!

WinterWonderland

Skipped the cinema again this weekend, but rented a few things from Netflix: Shaft (the 2000 version with Samuel L. Jackson – review upcoming) and The Two Faces of January. Apparently The Phantom of the Opera (2004) w/ Gerry Butler and Emmy Rossum is now on Netflix streaming so of course I had to rewatch that again. In fact, I also watched half of the 2006 BBC Jane Eyre w/ my dahling Toby Stephens. Wintry night in is meant for viewing indulgences ;)

RoyalDeceitOh, on Thursday night also rented what’s supposed to be a Danish re-telling of Hamlet called Royal Deceit. I couldn’t believe how horrible it was, it’s simply ghastly in terms of direction, script (if you can even call it that), production design, as well as acting. I only saw it because of the stellar cast: Gabriel Byrne, Christian Bale, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Tom Wilkinson AND a young Any Serkis (this was apparently his film movie), all of them were absolutely wasted in one cringe-worthy scene after another. I honestly thought the cast might’ve lost a bet or something to star in this movie, what a criminal waste of talents! If I were to rate it, it’d get a big fat ZERO reel as there is nothing redeemable about it.

Anyway, here’s my review of …

 The Two Faces of January

TwoFacesOfJanuaryBnr

A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who flee Athens after one of them is caught up in the death of a private detective.

This film seems to have the making of a great psycho thriller, given that it’s from the writer of great mystery thrillers The Talented Mr Ripley Strangers on a Train. I haven’t read Patricia Highsmith‘s novel, but I’d think the book might’ve been more exciting. It has its moments but it suffers from a rather sedate beginning and sluggish second act before it finally picks up in its third act.

I haven’t seen Viggo Mortensen in anything new in a while so it’s always nice seeing him here, playing an older, elegant businessman Chester Macfarland traveling with his young wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst). Mortensen is a solid actor and he does a great job here, but I find myself drawn to the tour guide/con-artist Rydal (Oscar Isaac) with his brooding good looks and dark, enigmatic eyes. There’s a palpable sexual chemistry between Isaac and Dunst, and Isaac also has some great dramatic scenes with Mortensen, especially towards the end.

TwoFacesOfJanuaryMovie

The breathtaking cinematography in Athens and Crete is practically a character in itself and it serves as a fine distraction during some of the film’s slower parts. The finale’s foot-chase scene in Istanbul was stylishly shot and that’s definitely the most exciting part of the entire film. Iranian director Hossein Amini made this film with a Hithcockian flair to it, and the use of light is quite dramatic, especially in the night time scene in a Greek ruin. Apparently this is Amini’s feature film debut so that might explain the uneven tone, but I think he did a pretty good job for a first timer and I’m curious what he’d do next.

I think the strength of the film lies in Mortensen and Isaac, and the film’s main conflict is ultimately between these two. Mortensen convincingly displayed the jealousy and paranoia that constantly haunted Chester, whilst Isaac’s character couldn’t seem to shake his lust for Colette that sucked him deeper and deeper into this dangerous predicament. I’ve been a fan of Isaac for some time and I sure hope he’d get more leading roles as he’s got such an effortless screen magnetism.

Given the intriguing plot and the cast, this could’ve been a really compelling and riveting noir thriller. As it is now, the film dragged in parts and felt longer than its 96-minute running time. It’s also hard to care about the unlikable characters, even if there’s a hint of redemption in the end. But overall I still think it was well-worth renting, especially if you’re a fan of Highsmith and Hitchcock and/or any of the cast.

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So did you see anything good this weekend? If you’ve seen The Two Faces of January, I’d love to hear what you think!

Birthday List Update: Favorite Films from Each Decade I Live Through

KeepCalm40th

Today I’m moving up the age bracket. I’m taking the day off because well, it’s my ME DAY and sleeping in is one of life’s greatest joys ;) Well, four years ago I did this list of favorite movies from the past three [full] decades I’ve lived through, so basically from the 1980s to 2000s. Looking at the list, not much has changed from the 80s and 90s, but I did update my 2000s list, swapping out about 5 or so movies from my list as I’ve seen more films since 2011.

Again these are a personal FAVORITE list, not a Best Of list necessarily though I’d argue that some of these are excellent classics.

1980s (in order of release)

FaveMovies_1980s

  1. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
  2. Somewhere in Time (1980)
  3. Superman II (1981)
  4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  5. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
  6. The Living Daylights (1987)
  7. The Untouchables (1987)
  8. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
  9. Licence To Kill (1989)
  10. The Little Mermaid (1989)

 


1990s (in order of release)


  1. Beauty and The Beast (1991)
  2. Jurassic Park (1993)
  3. The Age of Innocence (1993)
  4. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
  5. Speed (1994)
  6. Heat (1995)
  7. Sense & Sensibility (1995)
  8. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  9. Toy Story 2 (1999)
  10. The Matrix (1999)

 


2000s (in order of release) 

This decade is when I REALLY started watching more and more movies and saw them with different eyes, even though I didn’t start blogging until 2009. It’s agonizing to narrow them down to 25, let alone just 10, so I decided to just make it a Top 25. It’s interesting how my love for animated movies is quite persistent, as well as my taste in actors. There are three films starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale (including one with both of them together) and hey, two Gerard Butler movies still made my favorite list ;) We’ll see if he’d ever do a worthy film to be included in my future list. I own 15 out of the 25 films listed below, most of them have been re-watched repeatedly.

Here they are in order of release:

  1. Chicken Run (2000)
  2. Gladiator (2000)
  3. Moulin Rouge (2001)
  4. Minority Report (2002)
  5. Finding Nemo (2003)
  6. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  7. Love, Actually (2003)
  8. Master & Commander (2003)
  9. X-2: X-Men United (2003)
  10. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
  11. Phantom of the Opera (2004)
  12. Unbreakable (2004)
  13. Batman Begins (2005)
  14. Dear Frankie (2005)
  15. Casino Royale (2006)
  16. Children of Men (2006)
  17. The Painted Veil (2006)
  18. The Prestige (2006)
  19. Stranger than Fiction (2006)
  20. Atonement (2007)
  21. Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  22. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
  23. The Dark Knight (2008)
  24. Wall•E (2008)
  25. District 9 (2009)

2010 and beyond…

Now, we’re only about halfway through the decade, so I’m only comprising half of my top 20. I’m curious which of these will make my final 2010s list five years from now :D

  1. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
  2. Inception (2010)
  3. X-Men: First Class (2011)
  4. Midnight in Paris (2011)
  5. Brave (2012)
  6. Skyfall (2012)
  7. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  8. Gravity (2013)
  9. Her (2013)
  10. Birdman (2014)
  11. Belle (2014)
  12. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  13. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

 


So folks, what do you think of my picks? What are some of your favorite movies in the past four decades?

January 2015 Recap + Pick of Movie of the Month

MonthlyRecap2015

First month of 2015 has come and gone. Hello February! This is always a special time for me as it’s my birthday month and I reach a milestone this year [moving up the age bracket ;) ]. I don’t fret about getting older though, as I think you are only as old as you feel and I don’t feel a day over 30, he..he..

Well, it’s kinda been a rather sluggish start as I’ve only seen a paltry 7 new-to-me movies. But hey, I did get to see a lot more TV shows than I usually do in a given month.

Posts you might’ve missed:

Random Cinematic Recap of 2014

Top 10 Best + 5 Worst Movies of 2014

2014 Recap: Top Five Favorite Movie Songs

Ranking the 10 Blindspot Movies I saw in 2014

10 Favorite FEMALE Performances of 2014

Top10FemalePerformances2014

10 Favorite MALE Performances of 2014

2015 Oscar Nominations: The Good, the Bad and the WTF

7 Films Screened at Sundance 2015 I’m most curious about

Pictorial birthday tribute to Christian Bale

BdayBale

BLOGATHON:

Thursday Movie Picks #29: Married Couple Movies

New-to-me Movies:

Blackhat

The Guest

Lucy

112 Weddings Documentary

The Hundred Foot Journey

Selma

Selma is in my Top 10 of 2014 Movies, even though I saw it in early 2015 I just had to include that on my list. Blackhat proved to be a disappointment, which is a major bummer as I generally love Michael Mann’s work. The Guest, Lucy and The Hundred Foot Journey are all great rentals, definitely worth your while if you haven’t seen them.

Rewatches:

The Dark Knight Rises

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Ever After

So it seems that my hubby & I were in the mood for superhero movies this month. We actually bought the Bluray of X-Men: DOFP weeks ago, and I’m glad we bought it as that movie is as awesome as the first time I saw it. Same could be said with The Winter Soldier, though I find myself liking The Dark Knight Rises a lot more this time around.

January Blindspot:

Rear Window

TV Shows:

Broadchurch – Season 1

Black Sails – Season 2

The Honourable Woman

Galavant

The Flash – Season 2

Fleming

Fave Movie of the Month

RearWindow1954

Glad I finally got to see this Hitchcock classic. Nice to see 2015 Blindspot starts off strong, and I do have 11 more to go that I can’t wait to see.


Well, has 2015 started off great for you? What’s YOUR favorite movie of January?

Happy 41st Birthday Christian Bale! Pictorial birthday tribute to the Welsh thespian

BdayBale

Happy weekend everyone! Well, today marks the 41st Birthday of one of my favorite actors: Christian Bale. I’ve done a few posts on the Welsh thespian, including a commentary on his roller-coaster career and a Birthday Tribute post when he turned 37. I couldn’t resist doing a post on him today and I thought I’d just do a pictorial tribute that highlights his amazing versatility and incredible chameleon-like quality.

Thanks Nostra for the inspiration for my top banner from his ‘Many Faces Of…’ posts. From the time he was a child actor when he was only 12 in Empire of the Sun up until today, Bale remains one of the hardest working actors who constantly challenges himself both physically and mentally to play a variety of roles. I’ve seen about 22 of his 40+ completed TV/Film work, which is perhaps the most from any living actor, yet there are still holes in my Bale viewings that I still need to check out, esp. The Machinist. It’s incredible that in his illustrious career, he’s only been nominated for Oscar twice (The Fighter, American Hustle) and finally won in the latter.

Bale_EmpireoftheSun

1987 – Empire of the Sun

So this is a tribute to the performances I have seen over the years, broken down by decades:

1990s

Only Bale would follow up a Glamrock drama (Velvet Goldmine), where he donned heavy eye shadows & glitter AND have gay sex with Ewan McGregor, with playing Jesus Christ in a TV movie just a year later. [ It’s nuts to think it’s Obi-Wan & Batman together, and wouldn’t you know it, Ewan is also playing Jesus in Last Days in the Desert which premiered at Sundance].

2000

This is Bale’s most prolific year and also the decade when he became a household name when he’s cast as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. His breakthrough role is definitely Patrick Bateman in cult classic American Psycho, a role he nearly lost out to Leo DiCaprio [is that why the two movie stars never worked together to this day?] I think that movie became more widely seen after his Batman movies, but it shows what a committed actor he is and that he’s fearless in taking on um, batty roles like Bateman.

Not every movie he does is good however, I mean hell-o Captain Corelli’s Mandolin :P Whatever possessed him to take on that movie, I mean he’s completely wasted in that flick. Reign of Fire was blasted by critics but I actually think it’s an underrated sci-fi extravaganza set in post-apocalyptic England where people had to battle um, fire-eating dragons. It’s amusing that his BFF and dragon-battling partner was King Leonidas himself (Gerard Butler), well before he gained those 12-pack abs that’d eclipse Bale’s buff physique here. Bale’s also pretty much wasted in Laurel Canyon, though he’s so gorgeous in that movie that I didn’t mind ;) And of course Terminator Salvation is more famous for his rant to a DP who interfered him during a take of a supposedly emotional scene. I barely remembered him in Public Enemies, but the following year he emerged in top form (by losing a massive amount of weight) to play real-life boxer Dick Ecklund in The Fighter, which deservedly earned him his first Oscar.

2011 and beyond!

Bale completed his third Batman role in The Dark Knight Rises, looking appropriately world-weary.

Bale_DarkKnightRises

2012 The Dark Knight Rises

The shape-shifting continued as he gained 40+ pounds for the 70s crime drama American Hustle. Not only that, he also sported the most hilarious comb-over ever put on screen!

Bale_AmericanHustle

2013 American Hustle

Not satisfied with having already played THE main hero from the Bible in Mary, Mother of Jesus, Bale took on the role of Moses in Exodus: Gods & Kings. But even his performance couldn’t save Ridley Scott’s latest effort to reclaim Gladiator’s epic glory.

Bale_Exodus

2014 Exodus: Gods and Kings

I said on this post that I’d love for him to do an unabashedly romantic movie. It’d be great to see him in a sweeping drama with a deep love story at its core, but perhaps we might see a glimpse of that in Knight of Cups?

KnightOfCups_still1

2015 [hopefully] – Knight of Cups

I look forward to what Bale has in store next as he enters a new decade in his life. Which film would earn him his second Oscar? Whatever it is, I know I’ll continue to follow his cinematic career and may it be as fascinating (if not more) as it’s been in the past two decades.

Here’s to you, Mr. Bale. Happy Birthday!!

 


Hope you enjoyed Christian Bale’s pictorial tribute. What’s YOUR favorite roles from this fine actor?

Trailer Spotlight: Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight of Cups’ starring Christian Bale

I don’t usually post a trailer spotlight so early in the week, but I’ve been waiting for this movie since back in 2011! Knight of Cups was also on my most-anticipated films of 2013, alas it’s Terrence Malick we’re talking about here. But looks like we WILL see this one in 2015 as apparently the film will now open at Berlinale, Berlin Film Festival, next February.

I was already sold on this film when they cast Christian Bale and the incomparable Cate Blanchett. There’s something about Bale’s look in this film that really appeals to me. At the time, all that’s known about the premise is that it’s the story of a man, temptations, celebrity, and excess. Check out the trailer:


Well, per Deadline we’ve not got the full synopsis:

“Once there was a young prince whose father, the king of the East, sent him down into Egypt to find a pearl. But when the prince arrived, the people poured him a cup. Drinking it, he forgot he was the son of a king, forgot about the pearl and fell into a deep sleep. Rick’s father used to read this story to him as a boy. The road to the East stretches out before him. Will he set forth?”

I must say I’m quite mesmerized by the trailer. But then again, Malick’s films are always chock full of gorgeous, poetic and evocative imagery. He’s working with his longtime cinematographer Emanuel Lubezki again so we can expect another visual spectacle.

Somehow though, this one doesn’t seem as cryptic as his previous films. The story seems to be a cautionary tale or even just a commentary about the repercussion of hedonistic lifestyle.

“You don’t want love… you want to love… experience.”

“You have love in you… I know it.” 

Of course with Malick, he tends to communicate via metaphors and such, so who really knows how accessible and comprehensible this film is.

With the bass-heavy paired with all kinds of debauchery and decadence in the first half, and later with a more soul-stirring classical style, it’s such a beautifully-cut trailer that I hope the film itself will live up to. As I’m watching it, it made me think that Malick should perhaps do a short film. I think if you take out all the reflective long shots, this story could potentially be told under 20 min. Heck, given his penchant for leaving so much stuff in the cutting room floor, you’d think short films would be his forte.

The cast is pretty eclectic, though some of them are barely featured in the trailer. For sure we’ve got Natalie PortmanJason Clarke and I hear Antonio Banderas‘ voice on there. The rest: Brian Dennehy, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer, Imogen Poots, Armin Mueller-Stahl and apparently, the voice of Ben Kingsley.

I’ve seen four of Malick’s films so far and I actually like all of them to varying degrees. Even though I didn’t quite comprehend Tree of Life, there are still a lot to like about it and I appreciate Malick’s poetic style. That reminds me, I should rent To The Wonder at some point. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m anticipating this now, even more so than before.


What do you think of this trailer? 

FlixChatter Review: EXODUS: Gods and Kings (2014)

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Sir Ridley Scott maybe the most inconsistent successful film director ever, he first burst into fame by directing Alien in 1979 but made two big budget misfires a few years later, Blade Runner and Legend. He came back into prominence again in 1991 with Thelma & Louise, but the rest of his work in the 90s were mostly forgotten. Not until 2000 when he finally became an A-list director by making Gladiator and many of his films in that decade were very successful. He’s now back with another big budget period epic adventure, but unfortunately I think it might be one of his worst films.

Before I go into the review, I would like to note that I’m not a religious person so I don’t know the story of Moses, heck I’ve never seen The Ten Commandments so I went into this movie with zero knowledge of the subject.

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In the Egyptian city of Memphis, the film introduced us to Moses (Christian Bale) and Rhamses (Joel Edgerton), they’re preparing to go into a battle and getting a blessing from King Seti (John Turturro) who also happens to be Rhamses’ father. Right away we get the feeling that there’s some kind of animosity between Moses and Rhamses and the King seems to have more love for Moses than his own son. During the battle, Moses saved Rhamses’ life and this somehow made him resent Moses even more. In the said scene, Rhamses was so offended he even considered killing Moses. After defeating their enemies, both Moses and Rhamses were heralded as heroes back in their hometown. Again King Seti seem to be more impressed with Moses than his own son, later on he told Rhamses to go and check up on a close by city because some of the slaves aren’t behaving. Not expecting to receive this kind of menial task from the king, Rhamses was not happy. So Moses volunteered to go instead. Upon arriving at the city, Moses met with the elders of the slaves including its leader Nun (Ben Kingsley). It’s here that Nun confronted Moses and told him that he’s a Hebrew and needs to lead his people to freedom. Of course Moses didn’t believe a word of what Nun said. I think anyone who’s familiar with the story probably already know what’s going to happen so I won’t go deeper into the plot of the movie.

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Scott is known for being a perfectionist when it comes to how his films should look and here again his film looks spectacular. Shot natively in 3D, the effects were very immersive, but unfortunately he only included some few WOW 3D effects. So save yourself some money and see it on 2D instead. I haven’t mentioned about the plagues and the Red Sea parting scene because even though the effects were great, I wasn’t so into the movie so I didn’t even care about them. Aside from the visual aesthetics, the movie itself was kind of mediocre. For the first hour or so I thought this was made by a amateur director. The story narrative was all over the place and the editing was even worse. I’m quite sure we’ll get the inevitable longer “Director’s Cut” version when it comes out on video. I’m not quite sure of what he’s trying to say about the main leads, especially Moses. He started out as some kind of a non-believer but then out of nowhere became this savior who only answers to God. Maybe because I’m not familiar with the story and also a non-believer, I just didn’t buy into his transformation. For those expecting to see a Gladiator or even Kingdom of Heaven action style, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The movie contained one big action sequence but the marketing folks did a good job of promoting the movie as this non-stop action/adventure.

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There’s been a lot of controversies when it comes to the cast, the filmmakers decided to cast mostly Caucasian actors in the lead roles. Truth be told, many of them look kind of ridiculous with heavy tanning and make up, especially Joel Edgerton. Personally I don’t have any issues with the casting, I mean this is a $140mil Hollywood produced movie and they need to cast some well-known actors to get their money back. Controversies aside, most of the actors were pretty good in their respective roles. This is a Christian Bale‘s movie since he appeared on the screen 90% of the time. Even though I thought the role was poorly written, Bale did what he could with the material. Edgerton was also good playing the “villain.” I don’t think I’ve seen him in any other movie except the atrocious Star Wars Episode 2. Here he played a pretty menacing character and he even outshone Bale in a couple of scenes they appeared together.

I’m pretty sure Sigourney Weaver must’ve been quite upset when she sees the final movie since she appeared on the screen for only about 5 minutes and spoke about 5 lines of dialogs. I’m guessing most of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Ben Kingsley did a fine job as this Yoda kind of role. The oddest person in the cast here is Aaron “Jesse” Paul, he played this sidekick to Moses and I just thought he’s way out of his elements here. Another bad casting is John Turturro, he looks ridiculous in the weird make up and spoke with a weird accent that I wanted to laugh when he appears on screen.

For all the bad casting, writing and directing, the worse crime this movie committed was that it’s so boring! I actually dosed off a couple of times during the screening. This was yet another misfire from a director whose career may need to come to an end. I can forgive the bad editing and writing if the movie was entertaining, unfortunately it’s just a bad movie that can’t be saved even though it looks so good.

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Have you seen Exodus? Well, what did you think?