Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

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

VeronicaMarsPoster1. With March here, it’s the start of Spring movie season. Well, one of the eagerly-anticipated movie this month is Veronica Mars. I never watched a single episode of the show nor do I know how massively popular it was until I read their record-breaking Kickstarter campaign! Per IMDb trivia, it was the fastest project to reach $1 million and then the fastest to reach $2 million! It also got the most project backers (91,585) of any project in Kickstarter history!

The film itself was shot in 23 days, exactly 11 months later after the Kickstarter campaign was launched. Apparently the Kickstarter idea came from the meeting between Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas, who was the executive producer of the series and now directed the film, and Warner Bros. WB gave their blessing to the project and agreed to help distribute the movie, apparently they said, “if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.” Well, they certainly did with $5,702,153 pledged of the $2,000,000 goal!

I’m curious which TV show’s Kickstarter project would you happily donate to?

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2.  My hubby and I was catching up with trailers on our Apple TV and came across this indie thriller The Retrieval.

TheRetrievalPoster

On the outskirts of the Civil War, a boy (Ashton Sanders) is sent by a bounty hunter gang to retrieve a wanted freedman (Tishuan Scott) and bring him back to the South, but as they begin to form an unexpected bond, the boy must face a gut-wrenching decision.

The trailer looked quite gripping, but I like that it’s not just an action film with shootouts and chase scenes, but there seems to be an emotional story between the boy and the man he’s supposed to retrieve. The film by Chris Eska has won several film festival awards (including the White Sands International Film Festival), and Tishuan Scott won Breakthrough Performance Award at SXSW Film Festival last year. Looks like the young boy also turned in a good performance. Check out Terrence’s review from WSIFF last year.

So what do you think folks, intrigued?

3. I’t been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on Batman vs Superman. To be honest, I kind of tuned it out after Ben Affleck was cast, seems like it was ages ago. The casting sparks one controversy after another. It almost seemed that poor Henry Cavill‘s been all but forgotten in his own project, I mean when was the last time the news actually involved him?? So the latest casting news was Jeremy Irons is cast as Alfred [though I'd have been thrilled to see Timothy Dalton in the role], and we’ve got The Fast & Furious Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and The Social Network‘s Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. I read this article that Kevin Spacey, who played Lex in Superman Returns, endorsed Eisenberg’s casting, “I think [Jesse Eisenberg] is a remarkable actor. He’s just going to f**king own it. I think it’s a great idea and I wish him the best with it.” Check out these fan art of the two of them in the role:

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Now of course we don’t even know if Luthor would actually be bald in this movie, given that Zack Snyder‘s been quoted as saying this movie’s “…not as tied to the mythology” in this recent LA Times interview. In the beginning of the interview, he went all geeky about the Batsuit and the Superman suit, and really who wouldn’t be considering the historical significance that for the first time, Superman and Batman would actually exist in the same frame together in the movies. I know there’ll be a plethora of fan art/posters of this flick, probably more than any other comic-book adaptations out there. This is one of my favorites of the ones I’ve seen:

BatmanVsSupermanFanPoster1

Back to the interview, this is how Snyder responded to the whole casting uproar: “… We know the material. Unfortunately, the fans don’t know the material. So, we’re casting according to what’s happening in the script … I understand the canon. I’m not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint.” 

Ok fine, the casting just might work fine, but this next quote is what really worries me: “[The movie] literally takes the “Man of Steel” and “Batman” universes and explodes them. You’re not as tied to the mythology.”

Heh, I sure hope he really does know what he’s talking about as right now, even as a huge Superman fan, I’m far less interested in seeing this flick as I ever was. I sure hope he doesn’t literally mean *exploding universes* the way he destroyed Metropolis to shreds in Man of Steel [face palm]. Apparently filming is supposed to start next month for this, so they’ve got about a year to shoot the film until it opens on May 6, 2016.

So what do you think about Zack’s latest quotes, are you still excited for this project?

4. Now what award season is over, I’ve got just one more *award* to talk about, but no worries this is a fun one that surely EVERYONE would have an opinion on. The 34th RAZZIE “Winners” have been unveiled!

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Fortunately I haven’t seen a single movie from the Worst Picture nominees: After Earth, Grown Ups 2, The Lone Ranger, A Madea Christmas and Movie 43. But still I was aghast to learn that Adam Sandler didn’t *win* a single Razzie, what what??! I’m saddened to see Naomi Watts was one of the nominees for Diana AND Movie 43, oh no!! But y’know what, even without seeing the movie, I’m super glad that Will and Jaden Smith won multiple awards.

AfterEarthPosterJaden was named Worst Lead Actor, and the combination of father & son, described in the ceremony as being “stranded on Planet Nepotism”, took the award for Worst Screen Combo! [per Razzie Press Release]

Are you happy with the Razzie *winners*? Who do you think should have been nominated?

VeronicaRothDivergent5. Now last but not least. Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Divergent‘s author Veronica Roth, as well as cast member Ansel Elgort, as part of their press tour to promote the film. I’ve never interviewed an author before so I’m very excited.

Who hasn’t dreamed of having their literary work not just published, but being adapted into a movie! It made me think of which other authors I’d love to have the chance to interview about their work. Right of the bat I think of Jane Austen as she’s the one author whose work I’m most familiar with. As far as living authors, perhaps J.K. Rowling or Stephen King just to find out what makes them tick.

Now, my last question is, which author (living or dead) do you wish to interview, and what would your question be?


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

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

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Weekend Roundup Reviews: Now You See Me & The Kid With a Bike

First weekend of June and apparently the box office came crashing down after a strong Memorial weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, Fast & Furious 6 fell 65% to about $34 mil, but yet it still took the top spot with Now You See Me ($28 mil) and After Earth ($27 mil) rounding up the top three. I had no interest in seeing the Will Smith (& son) movie, so even with two press screenings, I didn’t attend either one of them. Anyway, here are my reviews of the two I saw this past weekend:

NowYouSeeMePosterNow You See Me (2013)

An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

This movie wasn’t even on my radar until I saw the trailer in front of Oblivion last month. It looks like a fun caper with a pretty decent cast, though I was mostly amused by the fact that Christopher Nolan’s Batman alums Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are together again on screen. Well, after seeing the movie, I actually find this interview of the two of them where Freeman dozed off right in the middle of it far more entertaining, ahah.

The movie started off promising enough, with a brief ‘origin’ story of sort how the world’s most popular team of illusionists The Four Horsemen came into being. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Woody Harrelson made up the four of them, with Harrelson being the most amusing of them all by a small margin. The first magic trick that takes place certainly piques your interest and makes you go, ‘how the heck did they do that??‘ If you’ve seen the trailer, you might’ve seen the clip of thousands of dollar bills showering the audience of a live magic show. Well, the trick is a pretty cool one involving a French guy being teleported to his bank in Paris! A theft this big surely gets the attention of the FBI and the agent assigned to the case, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is hot on their trail. He gets help from pretty Interpol agent Alma (Mélanie Laurent) and there’s a hint of romance in their interaction which falls flat to me.

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The last movie by French director Louis Leterrier was the horrible Clash of the Titans. Now this isn’t as bad as that one but really, that’s not saying much. I usually like caper action films and with the whole magic theme interwoven in it, the story is definitely promising. But Leterrier’s direction is so scatterbrained that the movie elicits eye rolls and gaping yawns [no wonder Freeman dozed off promoting this movie, ahah]. A few times during the movie I whispered to my hubby that this movie has a serious identity crisis. I mean, it’s trying to hard to be a mystery thriller, fast-paced action, romance drama, but it fails in all fronts. It also shifts its focus from the various characters in such a frenetic fashion that I barely care just who’s tricking who and what’s really at stake here. Then, as the heists gets even more daring and the action more bombastic, the film throws this big twist at the end that’s supposed be this huge shocker. Unfortunately, I’ve stopped caring by that point. The climax just isn’t all that rewarding after all the disconcerting ride this movie’s put us through. Plus, the flashback reveal is so lame and preposterous I practically threw my hands up in the air.

There are some cool scenes here and there but overall Now You See Me‘s is such a big waste of talents and material. I don’t care about any of the characters either. I mean, the fact that I kept referring to Freeman and Caine’s characters as Lucious Fox and Alfred should tell you just how memorable these characters are. I only remember Ruffalo’s character’s name as it’s cool enough to be a superhero alter ego, but Rhodes is so daft that his superiors must’ve been in a trance when they hired him, ahah. Apart from some cool scenes of the magic show that made me feel as if I were actually in Vegas watching a show, there’s barely any cinematic magic to speak of here. Even the action scenes are nothing groundbreaking, even the rather long car chase scene is nowhere near as exciting as the one Leterrier did in the first Transporter movie. Eisenberg’s character said that the first rule of magic is always be the smartest person in the room. Well, seems like such a person went ‘poof’ in the making of this movie!


2 out of 5 reels


TheKidwithaBikePosterThe Kid With a Bike (2011)

Abandoned by his father, a young boy is left in a state-run youth farm. In a random act of kindness, the town hairdresser agrees to foster him on weekends.

This film came highly recommended by a few of my closest bloggers. The story definitely appeals to me and right of the bat it reminds me of one of my favorite indie Dear Frankie as the protagonist is also abandoned by his father. The difference is, the 11-year-old Cyril doesn’t have a mother either and he reluctantly lives at a foster institution. Kids like Cyril are so broken that a life of delinquency seems inevitable, even if the stubborn and impulsive boy is actually a good kid at heart.

Seemingly by chance, Cyril runs into Samantha [literally!] as he was running away from his foster counselors. He’s been looking for his missing dad and his bike. Samantha (Cécile De France), a hairdresser in town, somehow finds out where his bike was sold and buys it back for Cyril. Her kind gesture doesn’t end there, she even offers to take Cyril with her on weekends, and she even agrees to take Cyril to find his dad.

What strikes me about this French film is how matter-of-fact the story goes right from the beginning. It doesn’t pull any punches on showing the pain and despair Cyril (Thomas Doret) goes through in his young life, and the cruelty of his own father in when he gives him up in order to start a fresh new life. Even as someone who grew up without a father myself, I don’t think I could fathom being deserted by my own parent in this manner. The scenes of Cyril and his dad who’s now moved to another town and works at a restaurant is heart-wrenching. It’s not just painful to see how his dad blatantly rejects him, but more so because Cyril refuse to accept that fact and is denial that his dad no longer wants him in his life.

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It’s almost inevitable that a kid like Cyril would fall into a bad crowd. So when a charismatic gang leader known as The Dealer practically recruits Cyril, I was terrified for what’s in store for this young boy. Thankfully, the film didn’t descent into some real sinister territory, and the resolution proves to be quite a turning point for the young protagonist. Even though it has an open-ended finale, I think we could guess just which path Cyril is finally on to. It’s nice to see something of substance after the vapid one I saw days before. It’s a simple film with barely any frills, but the story is really the *star* of the film.

I must admit though, that I didn’t quite connect with Cyril as much as I had hoped I would. I find myself quite frustrated with Cyril as he doesn’t warm up to Samantha despite her kindness towards her, and Doret’s not an expressive performer (I guess this being his first film is understandable). I do appreciate the fact that the filmmaker is perhaps presenting his character just the way he is, without manipulation or making him to be a sympathetic character. As with Samantha, I wish there’s more background on her character as there could be more time spent on why she was so adamant to help Cyril.

That said, I’m curious to see more from the Belgian filmmaker duo, brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne. Since making films in the late 70s, they’ve been garnering numerous awards and multiple Palme d’Or honors. This film won the Grand Prix at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe in Best Foreign Language Film. The cinematography of the city of Seraing (which happens to be the birthplace of the Dardennes), a French-speaking region in Belgium, is pretty scenic. Now, the use of music is so sparse that when it appears it almost took me out of the movie. From what I read about the filmmakers, they apparently rarely use music in their films which I find quite odd.

According to Wikipedia, the screenplay had a structure inspired by fairy tales. No wonder Samantha is portrayed like a fairy godmother. Yet the message of humanity in this film is quite inspiring, we could use more people like her in this world.


4 out of 5 reels


Have you seen either one of these films? I’d love to hear what you think!