[Eclectic] Weekend Roundup: Private Lives play, Starz OUTLANDER, Into The Storm & Zodiac

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How’s your weekend everyone? Did any of you see any new releases this weekend? I skipped the cinema again this weekend, but looks like Michael Bay wins again as his Ninja Turtles movie made $65 mil, ah geez! Well I guess it didn’t have much competition this weekend other than a couple of smaller budget films like Into The Storm  [mini review below].

On Friday I had a fabulous Movie Nite w/ two of my friends and FC contributors Becky & Ashley! We saw Toby Stephens‘ in Noël Coward’s Private Lives via Digital Theatre, which was as wonderful as I had thought it would be.

Check out the Digital Theatre trailer:

OMG, just when I thought I couldn’t love Toby more, his incredible performance here just prove how versatile and chameleon-like he is as an actor. He does this play the same time he’s filming his role as Captain Flint in Black Sails! I mean Noël Coward and pirates couldn’t be more different from each other, yet Toby inhabited both roles so perfectly that it was like watching two completely different actors!

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I love Anna Chancellor in this as well, both of them are fantastic in delivering the witty lines as well as performing the physical comedy required for the roles. They have an amazing chemistry as well, definitely one of the most fun plays I’ve seen so far, so bravo director Jonathan Kent! If only I had been able to see this LIVE on stage!

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After the play, we caught one episode of Starz’s new show OUTLANDER. Ashley’s already a big fan of the show and I’d be keen on watching more of this if I had cable! I mean the lush Scotland scenery is gorgeous, not to mention the hot men in kilts, he-llo Sam Heughan! ;)

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You already know I have a penchant for the Scots, and this kind of historical fantasy is so right up my alley. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Battlestar Galactica‘s producer Ron Moore is behind this. I LOVE BSG but instead of a space opera, we’ve got adventure + romance with time travel thrown in. The voice over narration is a bit excessive tho, but I’m still keen on watching the rest of the season when it becomes available.

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As for Into The Storm, aka Twister 2.0. I have to admit that initially I was intrigued to see this because of Richard Armitage in the lead role. Though you can’t really call it a lead role as all the human characters are dwarfed by [pardon the pun Thorin!] by the humongous monster tornado, or I should say tornadoes as there are a bunch of them popping up at a given time, and some of them are on fire [yikes!]

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Seeing this with Dolby Atmos sound [but sans 3D thank goodness!], it really felt like you’re in the eye of the storm and there’s this one scene where one character inside this Batman Tumblr-like vehicle called Titus is swept up into the biggest tornado ever. The brief floating moment felt as if he were flying inside that Titus, which actually looked pretty cool, but of course you know what happens next. What goes up, must come down, ouch! Aside from some exhilarating special effects though, there’s little to recommend it. Cliched script laden with clunky dialog, one-dimensional characters and cheesy human drama fit more for a Lifetime TV movie all play second fiddle to the storm scenes. Apparently screenwriter John Swetnam also wrote Step Up All In which also opened this weekend.

Sorry Armitage fans, I wish I could say that his presence saved this movie. Alas, I doubt ANY actor could elevate a role so poorly written. I’d say if you want to see his acting prowess, I’d rather watch his BBC shows like Spooks, North & South, Strike Back, etc. or if you’re lucky enough to see him live on the London stage in The Crucible, surely you’d see what he’s truly capable of.

Director Steven Quayle was the second unit director for Titanic and Avatar and clearly the visual effects stuff is his forte. For those who are curious about the SFX, it might be worth renting, or you could just rewatch Twister again. That 1996 movie might not be perfect either but at least the human drama was a little more engaging AND it had a sense of humor. Instead of flying cows, here we’ve got flying… airplanes?? Hmmm, it just didn’t have the same impact for some reason, no matter how realistic they made those storms to be.

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Now, I finally caught this David Fincher’s ZODIAC. I’ve heard great things about it but I just never got around to it for some reason. Well I’m glad I finally did. It’s billed as a crime thriller but it’s more of a slo-burn drama that focus on the lives of the detectives and newspaper folks who cover the serial killings instead of a straight whodunnit type film. It’s even more sinister the fact that this film was based on real events in the San Francisco Bay area, as the script was adapted from Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book of the same name. Graysmith is played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the film.

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At 157 min, I was a bit worried it would drag a bit but fortunately, under Fincher’s deft hands, even the slower moments are brimming with suspense. I like the psychological aspect of how the newspaper cartoonist became so obsessed with the case that affect his relationship with his family and co-workers. There are some gruesome violence in the first act but it’s thankfully not as terrifying as SE7EN, in fact, most of the film is more of a character study filled with a lot of dialog. I like this type of thrillers so it definitely kept my attention. Great acting from the tremendous cast too, particularly Gyllenhaal, Anthony Edwards and Mark Ruffalo as the cartoonist and two detectives, respectively. Gyllenhaal is one of those actors who’s growing on me as he seems to pick more interesting roles now after taking daft roles like Prince of Persia.

It’s too bad that this film apparently tanked at the box office. Heh, clearly people are more inclined to watch thrillers with a lot more action than an intelligent and immersive version like this one. Zodiac was thoroughly gripping — a superb direction from Fincher and aided by intriguing camera work and an eerie score.

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Well, that was my weekend folks! So what did you see, anything good?

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Everybody’s Chattin’ + Previews of Into The Storm & SHOWTIME’s Penny Dreadful

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Hello everyone! As promised, here’s the second Everybody’s Chattin’ post to make up for the one I missed last month.

So here are 10 of my favorite post from fellow bloggers from the past week:

Now this is a post every movie blogger should read and undoubtedly can relate to … Dan wrote about this thought-provoking article on finding a voice in film criticism.

Ryan of The Matinee, the original founder of The Blindspot Series posted an intriguing Canadian-made film I’ve never heard of before: Jesus of Montreal. I’m definitely intrigued!

Bowie_ThePrestigeIf you haven’t checked out Cindy’s blog, consider this your recommendation. She’s always got great film observations and commentaries, like this one about Musicians Who Become Actors. Surely you have your favorites?

Speaking of favorites, have you checked out Sati’s 10 Favorite Female Characters from both TV & Movies?

And since I just posted my entry to Sati’s Spin-off Blogathon, check out which character Chris (Terry Malloy Pigeon Coop) and Mark (Marked Movies) wanted a spin-off on. Both are such cult favorites!

Now, speaking of blogathons, the reigning King of such blog event Nostra is at it again with his Blogathon Relay! This time the focus is on 10 Most Iconic Movie Characters. The first blogger he passed the baton to is my pal Keith of Keith & the Movies, drop everything now and see which one he’s taken out & add to the list!

Last but not least,  Biblical films seem to be the genre du jour in Hollywood this year, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah opens this weekend and Ridley Scott’s Exodus w/ Christian Bale as Moses opens later in December. I haven’t seen it yet but A Fistful of Films’ Andrew has, check out what he has to say.


Now, before you’re off, check out these previews of my two crushes’ next film/TV show:

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Richard Armitage‘s disaster thriller INTO THE STORM with The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne Callies is released on October 8. Nice to see Richard in the lead role, yay! That last part with all those Boeing planes are too darn eerie given what’s happened with the Malaysian Airlines though, I’m quite surprised they didn’t take that out of the preview.

 

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And for you horror lovers out there, this SHOWTIME series Penny Dreadful should be right up your alley. I blogged about this one a while back when Timothy Dalton was cast. I don’t have cable but once it’s out on iTunes or Netflix I’ll watch it for Dalton who plays Sir Malcolm, a hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest. I’m glad he’s not playing one of the demons, ahah. He still looks sooo good and it’s interesting to see him alongside my favorite Bond girl Eva Green here.

Created by John Logan  (screenwriter of Gladiator, The Aviator, Skyfall) and produced by Sam Mendes, seems like the Bond connection is quite strong here, ahah. Check out the hair-raising trailer:

 


Stay tuned for Ted’s review of Sabotage tomorrow!


Thoughts on Into The Storm and/or Penny Dreadful?

Spin-Off Blogathon: 5 minor/supporting characters I want to see a spin-off on

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Thanks to Margaret aka Lady Sati over at Cinematic Corner for this awesome blogathon idea. Here’s the gist:

Choose a [supporting] character (Movie or TV) that you love and would like to see as a leading character in the movie and write why you chose this character and what that movie would be like. Don’t choose leading characters or supporting characters with lots of screen time, the goal is to focus on minor characters who have between 1-5 scenes. However if you really loved a character who is on screen for more than that, go for it.

Now, there are a bunch of memorable minor movie characters that I can list here, but not all of them I want to see an entire movie on. But these five minor/supporting characters are so fascinating, in some cases even more so than the hero, that I’d be willing to pay a movie solely focused on them! I originally had only three characters in mind but I just couldn’t resist adding the last two (plus a BONUS TV character). So without further ado, here they are:

Tom Bertram (James Purefoy) in Mansfield Park

Tom is the elder son and heir of the wealthy landowner Sir Thomas Bertram who took in the story’s protagonist Fanny Price to live in Mansfield Park. He’s shown in his brief scene as a drunken and careless man who has no regard for Fanny nor to his father. He’s often away in Antigua on his family’s estate and he obviously despises his father’s business that involves slavery, but the strain seems to be deeper than that. The way Purefoy plays him is so intriguing that every time I saw this Austen adaptation, I wanted to know more about Tom and why he behaves the way he does. He’s dark, mysterious, with a seething rage that could explode at any moment. Certainly he’s a sexier and more riveting persona than the principled but dull brother Edmund.

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I’d love to see a movie, or even a TV miniseries that focuses on his character. It’d be an extension (with some artistic liberties taken) of what’s written about him in the book, recounting his younger days being taken to Antigua by his father, and his days of living an extravagant life amusing himself. In the book, it’s described that Mary Crawford, who with his brother lives in the Bertram’s parsonage was initially interested in Tom but he does not response, so I’d like to see that being explored in the film as to why he refuses her. The risque Lovers’ Vow play would definitely be one of the movie’s highlights.

It’s too bad that in Mansfield Park, Tom’s spent half his already brief screen time bedridden from his illness. He does recover eventually and later on, Fanny’s younger sister Susan comes to live with the Bertram family also. Though it’s not in the book, it’d be nice to see that perhaps Tom would finally find love with Susan.


Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in Captain America: The First Avenger

There are barely any cinematic super-heroine in Hollywood, and I don’t mean the bad ass but cheesy warrior variety like Elektra (no offense Jennifer Gardner!). From the first time I saw Captain America, I’ve got a girl crush on Peggy Carter. She is by far my favorite Marvel female character, yes she even beats Black Widow and Lady Sif! Atwell’s performance is one of the major reasons I LOVE LOVE Captain America: The First Avenger as she’s just as fun to watch as the Captain himself. She’s beautiful, witty, and spunky. She’s no damsel in distress, no siree. She’s a trained fighter who’s more than capable to hold her own. She’s a damn good shot too, as evident in the action scene with the villain Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage, who gets another mention below) ;)

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There’s a Marvel One Shot of Agent Carter which I have yet to see except for a couple of clips. Apparently the short film takes place a year after the events of The First Avenger, and features Carter as a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve and dealing with the sexism of that era. Now I’d even pay to see a film version of Agent Carter. It could include with some flashback scenes of her younger years as in the comics she apparently joined the French Resistance as a teen, which was how she became a skilled gun-woman.


Col. Brandon (Alan Rickman) in Sense & Sensibility

This should come as no surprise to anyone given how much I adore Alan Rickman‘s portrayal of Colonel Brandon. He’s one my picks of Favorite Period Drama Heroes and he’s easily my favorite male character in Jane Austen’s adaptations, yes he even beats every woman’s favorite Mr. Darcy any day. He’s a far more interesting character because he has been through a lot before we’ve come to know him as a wealthy officer at 35. He’s a sensitive man, a tortured soul perhaps (oh how I love these types of characters), who’s lost his love when he returned from the army and found that the woman he loves was with child and living in a poorhouse.

His entrance in Sense & Sensibility is one of the most memorable and emotionally-charged for me… Brandon’s expression as he was transfixed by Marianne is palpable. It’s got to make you wonder, is it simply just love at first sight? It can’t just be Marianne’s beauty and beautiful voice that captured him so, there’s gotta be something deeper than that. Later on we learned that Marianne reminded him of his lost love of his youth, his father’s ward whom he was prevented from marrying. Every time I watched this film, I’d so want to see more of Brandon’s early life.

Thank you Tumblr!

Thank you Tumblr!

I’ve been wanting to pick up Amanda Grange’s book Colonel Brandon’s Diary which is part of her Jane Austen retelling adaptations. I did read the Captain Wentworth’s Diary one, now I’d pay to see that one too, but I think Colonel Brandon’s dark past would make an even more riveting period drama. Now the challenge is to cast an actor even half as charismatic as Rickman, but perhaps Tom Hiddleston or Richard Armitage would be more than up for the task? The latter has never done an Austen adaptation, that is a travesty!


Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale

As a massive Bond fan ever since I was a wee girl, never have I been so fascinated by the Bond girl until I saw Vesper in Casino Royale. Like Agent Carter, Vesper is no damsel in distress, and she has quite a mysterious past that rivals our favorite super spy. She’s obviously an intelligent woman, having been trusted by MI6 to oversee Bond in his high-stake gamble with Le Chiffre. “I’m the money,” she says, and the banter between her & Bond is no doubt one of the most riveting scenes in the movie, one I still love to watch over and over.

I’d love to see a movie on her where we get to see how she became a double agent for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and her former lover who gave her that Algerian love knot necklace that Bond tracked down in Quantum of Solace. I think the film would only work with Eva Green in the role though. She’s obviously extremely sexy and can make an entrance like no other (that purple dress is an utter knockout), but I think her sensuality and mystique is what made the character so beguiling. There’s something so unpredictable behind those piercing green eyes, and an icy quality about them. The scene where she professes her love for Bond is beautiful but with a tinge of mystery and even suspense as we’re not sure what she’s capable of.

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According to Wiki, in the Casino Royale novel, she was born on a “dark and stormy” night, and her parents named her “Vesper” after the Latin word meaning evening to commemorate the night. Fleming created a cocktail recipe in the novel that Bond names after her. The “Vesper martini” became very popular after the novel’s publication, and gave rise to the famous “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase immortalized in the Bond films.

It’d be cool to see Eva Green reprising her role in a prequel spin-off of Vesper, I think she’s the only Bond girl deserving of her own movie!


John Rolfe (Christian Bale) in The New World

I’ve mentioned Christian Bale‘s role as John Rolfe many times in my blog already, most recently in this Breaking Emotion post. Bale only appeared in the last 25 min or so of the 2.5 hours Terrence Malick’s retelling of the Pocahontas story, yet he’s far more fascinating than Colin Farrell in the lead role John Smith. In fact, I’d buy this film just to see him here. His chemistry with Q’orianka Kilcher is so sweet, it’s perhaps one of the most romantic roles Bale’s done, which is already so rare to begin with.

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Now, the story of John Rolfe, an early English settlers of North America might not be as passionate or intriguing as John Smith’s, but Bale portrayal made me want to see more of Rolfe character. Perhaps the film can show his days as a tobacco businessman in Jamestown, Virginia and more details on his meeting and romance with Pocahontas, as well as his life after her death.


Special TV Dream Spin-Off

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) in BBC Robin Hood

What’s more riveting than a great hero? A great antihero. And every time I saw BBC Robin Hood, I always think ‘with villains like this, who needs a hero?!’ No offense to Jonas Armstrong as the titular hero but really he’s just meh next to Richard’s undeniable charisma and sex appeal. The guy just oozes virile masculinity and pent-up passion [wowza!] Clad in form-fitting black leather from head to toe, he’s the epitome of tall, dark and dangerous, even his hair is jet black to match his dark past and personality.


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But instead of making him a straight-out villain, what’s more intriguing about Guy is the complexity of his character, he’s not just evil for the sake of it, but there’s a vulnerability to him, especially in regards to his unrequited love for Marian, once the hope to his redemption. Again there’s that tortured soul quality that I can’t resist!

I love how Richard explains his character in this behind-the-scene clip. “If he can’t be good and be popular, be bad…” YES please ;)

If they were to do a Guy-centric series or even a miniseries on, I’d have a different girl than Lucy Griffiths though, I’m not terribly fond of her. Holliday Grainger in Season 3 is quite good however, I’d love to see more of their relationship being explored in Guy’s life. But of course I’d ONLY see a Guy of Gisborne movie/series IF Richard Armitage plays him. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone else in the role who could top his portrayal.


What do you think of my picks, folks? Would you watch a movie dedicated to these characters?

Our casting picks for Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Parsifal Mosaic’ Film Adaptation

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The recent news that one of Robert Ludlum‘s novels is getting a big screen treatment got me curious and excited. Ludlum is best known by movie goers for his Bourne series, which was one of the most successful spy franchise in Hollywood.

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It’s one of Ludlum’s better books and also with big name talents behind the scenes, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are producing while Chinese film director Yimou Zhang will be in charge of bringing the book to life; I do hope we get to see a great spy/action thriller without the names James Bond or Jason Bourne attached to it. Also, this will be Zhang’s first American-produced film, I wonder if he can handle the pressure of producing a tent pole type of picture without losing his artistic integrity. I know many foreign born film directors just couldn’t handle the work environment in the Hollywood system.

For this post I’m just going to gloss over the plot of the book, pretty sure it won’t be a direct adaption since the book came out in the early 80s and dealt with the current political climate at the time. I’ll also give my thoughts on who should be cast the main leads and how they can make the story more relevant to our current events. I read the book in college so it’s been a while, I’ll just go over the main storyline since I don’t remember much of it and don’t worry I won’t give out any spoilers, the book has lots plot twists.

The book starts out with an intelligence officer named Michael Havelock witnessing the execution of his partner and lover Jenna Karas in Costa Brava, Spain. Havelock works for the US black ops division called “Consular Ops”, think of the group as the IMF from the Mission: Impossible films or MI:6 in the James Bond flicks. Karas has been marked for execution because she’s apparently a KGB double spy. After witnessing this tragic event, he left the intelligence world and trying to find her killers and seek revenge. He traveled all over Europe and while in Rome, he met up with a top director of the KGB named Pyotr Rostov. Havelock wanted to know why the KGB decided to execute Karas but Rostov denied that she’s even an agent of the KGB. Later he saw Karas at a train station alive and well, but when she saw him, she looks frighten and flees before he can get close to her. He pursues her but she’s nowhere to be found. Now confused and angry, he decided to reach out to his intelligence colleagues so he can find her. While on this search for his lover, he got involved in some political conspiracies, which involves assassinations, shoot outs and everything you’d expect from a spy novel.

ZhangYimou_ParsifalMosaicThe book’s storyline is obviously out of date since it dealt with the cold war of the early 80s. So I’m curious to know how they’re going adapt it into a film that would fit into our current world events. Comparing to other of Ludlum’s books, this one was more a of suspense/romance/thriller than the other books he wrote, most of them were straight up action/adventure. As mentioned earlier, this will probably be Zhang’s first Hollywood film and I think he can incorporate his talents into this movie. He’s done a lot of dramas but also he can do action scenes. Although I don’t recall the book contains any huge action scenes like the Bourne series, but I’m sure the screenwriter will come up with something. After all I’m assuming this will be a $100 mil+ action summer flick. I do hope they make into something different than another James Bond or Jason Bourne rip off, like I said the book was more of a romance and suspense than straight up action thriller.

Casting wise, I would love to see they cast Richard Armitage as Haverlock, if you’ve seen the show MI: 5 or Spooks then you know he’ll be a perfect fit as a spy. But since this is a big budget production, I don’t know if his name is well known enough to get him an audition.

Ruth’s note:

It’s at times like this that I wish I were a casting director! I absolutely concur with Ted’s pick here (natch!) and we both agree that Armitage would make a fine Bond, the ultimate super spy.

I’m re-posting this badge I made for that Bond casting article [he’s now 42]:

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I think the fact that he’s played Thorin in The Hobbit makes him a bit more well-known to mainstream US audiences (he’s pretty famous in the UK for his various BBC/Sky TV roles). Besides, I actually think that casting a non mega-star would work better for the role as there’s less *baggage* associated with a movie star.

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Richard as Lucas North in ‘Spooks’

It’s not just his brooding good looks that make me a fan, but Richard’s got an undeniable screen presence, versatility and that *tough guy with a heart* persona that would suit the romance angle here. I’m absolutely convinced Richard is more than capable to carry the role of Havelock, described per Wiki as “…an exhausted and embittered veteran operative … Brought over to the United States, he proved an invaluable operative for US intelligence.” So he’s basically a brilliant spy, not just an action guy, with a chip on his shoulder.

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Richard in ‘Spooks’ and as SAS soldier in ‘Strike Back’

Here’s a couple of clips from Spooks that prove he’s got the versatility for action as well as dramatic scenes.


Now, if they’re going to cast someone with more fame, then I think Hugh Jackman can play Haverlock. I just hope they don’t go with someone like Tom Cruise, I love Cruise but he’s already Ethan Hunt and Jack Reacher, so there’s no need for him to be consider for this role.

The book has a strong female lead and I would love if Rachel Weisz gets the role of Jenna Karas. If not her then maybe my current actress crush, Rachel McAdams.

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The main villain in the book is Arthur Pierce, described in Wiki as Ludlum’s most fearsome villains. I think Gary Oldman would be perfect. Oldman’s been playing too many good guys lately, I would love to see him as a villain again.

I’m a sucker for spy thrillers so I’m looking forward to seeing this book comes to the big screen. Of course a spy movie without the names James Bond or Jason Bourne is a hard sell, for example the latest Jack Ryan movie was a massive failure, so hopefully this one won’t suffer the same faith. Now since project is still in early stages, I don’t know if we’ll get to see it on the big screen anytime soon. I mean two other projects that are based on Ludlum’s books has been announced before and they’re still stuck in development hell. One of them is The Matarese Circle which MGM hired David Cronerberg to write and direct while Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise were attached as the leads. The other project is The Chancellor Manuscript which director Marc Forster acquired the rights to direct it and Leo Di Caprio was attached to star in it. Those are two good books that I would love to see the movie version but again they’re still stuck in limbo and I don’t know when we’ll get to see The Parsifal Mosaic. Hopefully sooner than later.


Have you read The Parsifal Mosaic? Whether you have or not, based on the info above, what do you think of our casting choice?

Life, Love and the Movies BLOGATHON

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It took me a while to finally get my entry done, and since today is my birthday, I figure it’s as good a time as any to post it now :D

Thank you Nostra for creating another fun blogathon we can all take part in. Also thanks to Karamel Kinema for the awesome blogathon graphic. Now, the idea of the blogathon is to share our personal connection to movies by answering these questions below.

So without further ado, here’s my answers. I think those of you who’ve read this blog for a while already know about some of my answers ;)

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1. What was the first movie you saw in the cinema and what do you remember about that visit?

I’ve shared this on my Superman and Me post, so you guessed it, it was Superman: The Movie. It came to Indonesian cinema months later after it’s released in the US and I remember going to this rinky-dink cinema next to the house I grew up in. I couldn’t remember who I went with but needless to say, even at a wee age of four, I fell in love with Superman … AND the tall, dark and well, super Christopher Reeve. That’s quite a high bar that he set in terms of movie star crushes :D

Ok, my hubby just showed me this video to me of this toddler’s reaction to Man of Steel‘s flying sequence. Ha! That must be how I have reacted seeing Christopher Reeve’s rescuing Lois in Metropolis!

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2. Are there any movies you have very strong memories of which are not because of the movie (for example something which happened at the time you were watching it)?

When I was a young teen my mom brought back three films from a European vacation and those were My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind.

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I didn’t realize this until much later that each film had a strong female protagonist in it. Out of the three, GWTW perhaps left the most lasting impression as my mom had to pretty much translate a lot of the dialog for me and explained the history about the Civil War era, etc. I guess Hollywood movies served as my early intro to learning English and a bit about American culture as well.

3. Which movies had a big impact on you and changed a (small) part of your view on life?

Hmmm, tough question. I don’t know if there are specific ones but the three films above were inspiring to me as there are a lot of strong women in my own family as well. I think some eye-opening documentaries do change my outlook on certain things, i.e. The Cove discouraged me from ever going to a Sea World-type of places, and Gladiators Football doc about concussion made me think of American football in a whole new light.

4. Do you have any comfort movies which you return to because you are in a specific mood (for example if you are feeling down/nursing a heartbreak)?

The two movies I can always rely on to lift up my up are Return to Me and Sense & Sensibility (both the 1995 and the BBC 2008 version). Both have the kind of heart-warming story that inspires and entertain. Since it’s almost Valentine’s day, I highly recommend Return to Me as most of you probably haven’t seen it. It’s one of the few rom-coms I love, along with You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle & The Holiday that are made by female directors!

5. If a movie would be made about your life, what type of movie would it be and who would you like to portray you?

RashidaJonesWell considering there is barely any Asian actress who resembles me in Hollywood, I really can’t picture who could play me. Maybe Rashida Jones as she’s petite and has olive skin … of course we want someone far prettier than ourselves to play us right? ;)

I had quite a dramatic childhood – sent to a boarding school at the age of 7 for 5 years, then losing my mother on my 16th birthday are pretty unusual for any kid. Let’s just say I saw a lot of funerals growing up, as my uncle took his own life a few months after my mother’s passing, and my grandma (whom I lived with after my mom’s death) also died 3 years later. So needless to say, the movie wouldn’t be a rom-com ahah, maybe a dark comedy as there were times my family reminds me of something out of August: Osage County, ahah.

6. Which existing movie best represents you?

Hmmm, none from that I have seen. I have to think this through a bit and maybe update this post when I have the faintest idea, ahah.

7. If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be the last movie you would want to see?

Ahah well I don’t want to be thinking about death on my birthday, even if it has happened before (see above). Last movie… maybe Amazing Grace, because it’s such a beautiful and inspiring story and one of those films I’d recommend people to see before they die.

8. If you can spend your life working in the film industry, what would you be and why? (you know, director, producer, actor, cinematographer, costume designer, sound designer etc?)

Ever since I was a kid, every time my teacher asked ‘what would you like to be when you grow up?‘ I always answered screenwriter. So I’m going to stick with that… or casting director would be a fun job as well I’d imagine.

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1. Did you ever have a first kiss with someone while at the cinema and if so which movie was playing?

Nope. I go to the cinema to watch a movie. Thankfully my husband feels the same way.

2. What is your favorite movie relationship and why?

I like the playful banter between Joe and Kathleen in You’ve Got Mail, but in terms of marriage in films, my favorite is between Paul & Julia Child in Julie & Julia as they’re so sweet and supportive to each other. I’m fortunate that I’ve found an equally supportive and sweet hubby in life, hence I dedicated this post to him.

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3. When did your love for movies start and how has it grown?

Film is in my blood as my late dad worked in the film industry before I was born, both as a screenwriter and director. He also did some poster art as well I believe. Though I credit my late mother because since they divorced when I was three, she was the one who introduced Hollywood films to me. I wasn’t that into movies in high school and college however, not sure why, but shortly before I started this blog, I started getting into it again and writing about film definitely fuels my passion for film.

4. If you have to choose one film to watch with your loved one, what would it be and why?

It’s either Captain America or The Rocketeer (both happen to be directed by Joe Johnston!) as we’re such a big fan of both films.

5. If you can choose one character from a movie to be your significant other who would it be and why?

Right of the bat I go with John Thornton from BBC North & South as he’s not only gorgeous but responsible and hard working. Even though he appears tough and even callous at times, he’s a big softie in the inside and he’s capable of loving a woman with all his heart.

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But in terms of feature film character, I’d go with superhero [hey why not right?]. Instead of Batman or even Superman, I’d choose Captain America/Steve Rogers because even with all that power and being THE first Avenger, he remains humble and a gentleman. Plus it’d be interesting to hear his retro stories from his pre-frozen days and helping him adapt to the new world.

6. What was the first movie that made you fall in in love with film and cinema?

I think this has been covered by a couple of earlier questions above (see #1 & #2 under Life). I think the Disney Princess movies also made me love film at an early age and appreciate the beauty in its creativity and power of escapism. Thankfully it didn’t skew my outlook on romance though, I knew even early on there’s no such thing as a Prince Charming.

7. How did your passion for movies turn you into a movie blogger?

Well, I’ve always been talking about movies in a very passionate way to my friends and co-workers that some of them urged me to just start a blog. But it didn’t take an assignment to help design a WordPress blog that finally push me to start one. This blog is the perfect outlet to combine my love for writing AND movies.

8. What is your favorite date from a movie?

I know I already said I wouldn’t have chosen Superman as my significant other, but if it were just for a couple of dates, nothing beats flying with the most powerful and gorgeous alien in the universe. So for the ultimate fantasy, I’d go with the Can you read my mind scene from Superman: The Movie, but in terms of something closer to earth, I’d go with Roman Holiday. Ok so it’s not a *date* per se but I’d love to explore a romantic city like Rome with a gorgeous creature like Gregory Peck as my date ;)

Well, that’s my answers! Click on the logo below to the main Blogathon Overview page.

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Monthly Viewing Roundup & Favorite Film of January 2014

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Good riddance January!! Boy it’s truly THE coldest month I’ve had in my 20+ years living in MN, though December 2013 is not any warmer at all either! On Groundhog day yesterday, Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pa. so I guess we have six more weeks to contend with of this dreadful Winter. Heh, I don’t mind so much if we could do away with the crazy subzero temps.


In any case, time for the recap.

I’ve had 23 posts so far this month, some of which are guest posts from my awesome collaborators. Thanks Ted, Jack aka Kevin, Conor, Sarah and Dave W!

Here are some posts you might’ve missed:

Film Reviews: Nebraska | 12 Years a Slave | Her | August: Osage County
TV Review/Commentary: The Returned | Early 2014 TV Season

The list of all list … my picks of

TOP 10 FILMS of 2013 and The Worst/Most Disappointing Films of the Year

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Award Season Coverage:

Blogathons: The Alphabet Movie MemeLCR’s Recast-Athon

New Films Watched:

Rewatches:

  • BBC Sense & Sensibility (2008)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I’ve been um, preoccupied by Richard Armitage [yes I know, that’s putting it mildly] so I’ve been catching up on some BBC Robin Hood solely for Sir Guy of Gisborne ;)

Yes I realize it’s a pretty s-l-o-w start in 2014 in terms of movie-watching. I only went to one advanced screening which was the new Jack Ryan movie, but hey, looking ahead to February, it’s already a pretty darn good start as I saw The Lego Movie and also saw Cate Blanchett’s phenomenal performance in Blue Jasmine this weekend.

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I’ve got three screenings scheduled for the next two weeks: The Monuments Men on Wednesday and Winter’s Tale next Monday. As the Robocop remake is scheduled the same day as Winter’s Tale, Ted will be seeing that one in my place.

Favorite Movie Seen in January 2014:

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Glad I finally saw this classic Capra rom-com (view my full review). It’s easily my favorite viewing of January, so that’s definitely a fabulous choice for my BlindSpot list! Not sure which one I’ll watch next, perhaps a Jimmy Stewart film as I’ve been wanting to see more of his films for ages.


So, what movies did you get to see in January and which one is your favorite?

LCR’s Recast-Athon – Recasting characters of 2013 Films

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Jack from Lights Camera Reaction recently invited fellow bloggers to participate in ‘Recast-athon’, where we’d recast characters of 2013 that we either hated or liked, but think that the role(s) could have been done better by another actor. The rule is to pick a minimum of three performances and explain the reasons. 

So here are my picks and for the fourth one, I include one from 2012. Hey, rules are meant to be broken right? In this case I simply bent it a bit. So here we go!

The Great Gatsby

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Tom Hiddleston & Jessica Chastain replacing Leo DiCaprio & Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby

Now, it’s not that I dislike Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan as Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Both are excellent actors but somehow their pairing just lacks ooomph, for a lack of a better word. I’d love to see someone like the inherently classy Tom Hiddleston try this role on for size. Hiddles seems to come from money himself, having gone to Eaton and Cambridge, and he’s got the versatility to be both charming and mysterious.

For Daisy, I was thinking of a delicate beauty who’s got a bit of an icy quality about her. Jessica Chastain may be eight years older but I think she still looks youthful enough for the role, plus she seems capable of being more seductive than Mulligan. Both actor have theatrical pedigree, Chastain went to Juilliard whilst Hiddleston went to RADA. I’d love to see these two light up the screen as lovers one day.

The Wolverine

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Rinko Kikuchi replacing Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine)

One of my biggest issue with The Wolverine is that I think Wolvie’s love interest is entirely miscast. Sure miss Tao Okamoto is beautiful, she is a fashion model after all, but unfortunately she has no charisma nor the dramatic chops to give her character even an iota of realism. Not to mention the utter lack of chemistry with Hugh Jackman. I think Rinko Kikuchi would’ve been a much more compelling substitute had she not been too busy working on Pacific Rim. I’d even think even Koyuki, another Japanese actress who had a sweet chemistry with Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai would’ve been a better choice if she were slightly younger.

12 Years A Slave

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Greg Kinnear replacing Brad Pitt (12 Years A Slave)

Speaking of weak link, Brad Pitt is the least convincing performer in an otherwise fantastic ensemble in 12 Years A Slave. When his character showed up, it took me out of the movie a bit as he practically looked like a mega movie star playing a role. To make matters worse, he’s got the worst lines in the script, preaching to us how we should feel as if it weren’t obvious enough. As Pitt was the producer, I wish he had cast someone else in that role, perhaps an equally talented actor who’s not quite as famous. I’d suggest Greg Kinnear, who’s exactly the same age as Pitt (50). I think he’d be much more convincing and likely get the Canadian accent right, too.

Jack Reacher (2012)

Now, this one is from 2012, but I saw the movie last year so I thought I’d throw it out there as well who I’d love to see as Jack Reacher. Now, I think Tom Cruise did a decent job and I think the film is decent, but when I read the description of the character in the book, I always get a good chuckle as Cruise’s physicality is so ill-suited for the role.

Reacher is 6’5″ tall (1.96 m) with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds (100–115 kg). He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He has very little body fat, and his muscular physique is completely natural (he reveals in Persuader, he has never been an exercise enthusiast). (per Wiki)

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An actor’s physique is crucial for certain roles, especially when the novelist outline it so specifically in the book. So Tom got the hair color right but that’s like the least important thing and they can just easily lighten an actor’s hair if necessary.

Richard_StrikeBackNow, Richard Armitage is 6’2-1/2″, obviously much closer to the novel version of Reacher than the 5’7″ Cruise. He’s done a lot of military-type roles so no doubt he’s got what it takes to play a former Major in the US Army. He may not have the 50-inch chest but he can easily bulk up his lean-but-muscular frame. But more importantly, he’s got the intensity and bad-assery for the role, just watch BBC Spooks and the original Cinemax’s Strike Back if you need some convincing. Age wise, Richard (42) is also closer in age than Cruise (50) as Reacher is supposed to be in his late 30s.

Fame at times works against an actor as Cruise has done so many famous roles that it’s hard to see him as Jack Reacher (especially since he looks pretty much the same as he is in other action hero roles), so a lesser-known actor would actually be a more prudent choice.


Well, what do you think of my replacement picks? Also, who which role(s) would YOU re-cast from 2013 movies?

The Alphabet Movie Meme

AlphabetMovieMeme Boy it’s been a while since I did a movie meme, but this idea by Katy at the Drama Llama is just too fun to resist. Thanks Karamel Kinema for the awesome banner image. Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory what this meme is all about, so lets just get started.

Anticipating Movie of 2014

XMenDaysOfFuturePast

I was going to answer Interstellar but that Nolan movie isn’t out until November so I set my sight to something a bit closer that’s out in May. The trailer for X-Men Days of Future Past makes my head spins but it also gets me super psyched to see it!

Book Adaptation I’d Love To See

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A couple of years ago I posted this list of books my pal Ted and I would like to see being adapted on screen. I haven’t read hardly any good book since (yes I wish I were a voracious reader) but out of those, I’d think this one would’ve been adapted by now. It’s an unusual love story in that it’s not just between a man and a woman, and it’s got a slight throwback to Hollywood’s golden era that I think would be cool to see on screen.

Celebrity I’d Most Like To Meet

Male

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I simply have to find out if Richard Armitage actually looks THIS perfect up close. He seems like an intelligent bloke, so I’m sure he’d make a fascinating company over coffee … and I wonder if I could ever beat him in a staring contest ;)

Female

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I bow to the great Cate Blanchett. She is such a phenomenal actress whose beauty, intellect and immense talent makes her a modern screen legend.

Dream Director-Actor Pairing

Michael Mann and Tom Hiddleston

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I love Michael Mann’s cerebral thrillers. I’d love to see the exquisite Tom Hiddleston tackles something like Heat, The Insider or even playing a chilling baddie like Tom Cruise in Collateral. The versatile Brit can do anything, I’d love to see him display his range.

Essential Classic Film

Roman Holiday

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It remains one of the most romantic and beautifully-shot film ever, starring two of my all time favorite movie couple. I’ve listed 59 reasons why it’s awesome. I’m sure I can come up with more.

Favorite Film Franchise

The Lord of the Rings

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One of these days I have GOT to find time to watch the extended version. It’s nothing short of astonishing how Peter Jackson has brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s stupendous literary work to life.

Genre(s) I Watch The Most

Action Thriller and Period Drama

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I think I watch these two genres as frequently. It should be no surprise that most of them have a British cast ;)

Hidden Gem

Dear Frankie

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There are many other movie gems I could recommend but I always go with this one as it was made with a itsy-bitsy budget, but the story, Scottish setting, and acting are all superb that I wish more people would see it.

Important Moment in My Film Life

FlixChatterLOGOMy passion for movies practically soars exponentially after I started blogging. Thanks to fellow cinephiles who inspire me every day and makes me love movies all the more!

Just Right for A Rainy Day

Sleepless in Seattle

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“It rains nine months of the year in Seattle.” Well if one day I move to Seattle, I’d be happy to still be watching this whilst I’m vegging out on the sofa. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie, Nora Ephron’s script is so brilliant that it kept this movie from being unbearably sappy. If only rom-coms today are half as good as this.

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy

Sleeping Beauty

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I’ve loved this as a kid and Briar Rose/Aurora is my favorite Disney princess! Even to this day, before all the CGI technology in animation, the visuals are still amazingly beautiful, and the music based on Tchaikovsky’s ballet is equally enchanting.

Location I’d Most Like To Visit

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No doubt it’d be Middle Earth, especially if Aragorn or Thorin would be willing to be my tour guide ;)

Marathons I Watched

Gregory Peck Movie Marathon

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Some of you likely remember when I was besotted by this Hollywood’s classic leading man. I blogged about some of ‘em already, that’s perhaps the last extensive movie marathon I did, which was well worth the effort!

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched

I have Netflix Streaming which is one my the primary sources to rent movies from. This is the last one I rented as they’ve got quite a nice selections of documentaries. Clearly I’m fascinated by all things Middle Earth.

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One Movie I Saw In Theaters More Than Once

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I’ll go with the latest one I saw twice in the theater in 2013, and that’d be Pacific Rim. I’m not ashamed to say that I LOVE that movie, and really, when you’ve got exhilarating action, great music PLUS sexy Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost in his smashing black armored Jaeger suit, what’s not to love?

Preferred Place To Watch A Movie (Cinema or at home)

Either place is fine by me. As much as I love the comfort of watching films whilst vegging out on my sofa, some films are meant to be seen on the big screen. Unless of course I have a home cinema like THIS.

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Quote that Inspires Me

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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Samwise Gamgee, is one of the most selfless and wisest movie characters ever brought on screen. The unsung hero of the LOTR trilogy always puts others first before his own. Apparently when Tolkien wrote him, he was inspired by the character of English soldiers he met during World War I.

Remakes (Friend or Foe?)

Generally speaking… foe. But not every remake is terrible. I actually like the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, Sydney Pollack’s Sabrina, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, James Mangold’s 3:10 To Yuma, just to name a few.

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Heck, even one of my favorite films of all time, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a remake of the 1925 silent film with the same name.

Snack I Enjoy Most

Peanuts

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Twist(s) That Boggles My Mind

Sixth Sense & Unbreakable

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Whatever has happened to M. Night now, it doesn’t change the fact that Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, which he made back to back, are both phenomenal films. Both endings floored me, and it was such a great feeling when a film managed to surprise you in such a big way.

Unapologetic Fanperson For

Timothy Dalton

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Dalton seems to have always marched to the beat of his own drum and I love him for it. He’s so criminally underrated and I’m front of the line in the Dalton-is-Best-Bond brigade. He’s obviously fantastic as a hero, byronic (Jane Eyre) or otherwise, but also as a villain (The Rocketeer).

Very Excited For Award Show Season?

Sure, why not. Bring. It. On.

Wish I Never Watched…

The Exorcist

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I really wish I hadn’t seen this. THAT face still haunts me to this day. I remember that after watching it in college, I asked my then boyfriend (now my hubby) to sleep in the living room as I didn’t dare to be alone in my apartment!!

XXX Movie I First Watched At A Young Age (R or NC-17!)

I don’t remember the name of it, as all I remember was that it has ‘Girl’ in it in the title. It could’ve been a foreign film as it was in black and white. I must’ve been only 11 or so, but that was the first time I saw full frontal nudity on screen!

Your latest movie-related obsession

Hmmm, does Richard Armitage count? He’s my latest obsession and he’s a movie actor so yeah, that’s my answer right now. My formerly-Gregory-Peck-filled Tumblr‘s been pretty much been taken over that beautiful man. Yes, I think I’m secretly moving up the rank in the Armitage Army ;)

ZZZ-Catchers (name a movie that has put you to sleep)

The Great Gatsby (1974)
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Say what you will about the Baz Luhrmann’s film but at least it wasn’t boring! I was thinking of comparing this one to the contemporary version but I couldn’t even go through it! I finally turned it off after I dozed off a couple of times.

Well that’s my Alphabet Movie Meme, folks! Feel free to continue this movie meme (make sure you link back to Katy’s post). I’d love to see the answers you come up with!

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014! Year-end recap, Favorite Things, Blindspot and a note of THANKS

NewYear2014Another year has come and gone! Wow, what a year 2013 has been. There’s been ups and downs in my personal life, with me losing my dear brother this past Summer being one of life’s biggest blows. But I believe God never gives us more than we can bear, and there are certainly many, many things to be thankful for. It was such a blessing to see my sister in-law got married this year, and I also got to spend Thanksgiving with my best friend in San Diego which was awesome.

Blogging-wise, it’s been a pretty busy and fruitful year. Thanks to the press screenings via ALLIED Integrated Marketing, plus the two film festivals in town, I got to see over 65 new releases from 2013, not counting some films released prior to this year that were screened at TCFF or MSP Film Fest. There are dozens of older films plus all the rewatches that I simply can’t keep track on, yes even with a movie blog, ahah.

JoyeuxNoel_2005This Christmas weekend I stumbled onto a 2005 French film called Joyeux Noël which was about the truce that took place on December 24, 1914 during World War I. I don’t know why I haven’t seen that one sooner as the premise intrigued me right away and the fact that it was based on a true story made it even more worth seeing. Once again I was impressed by Daniel Brühl, so that’s three this year with RUSH and The Fifth Estate. I also love the performance of Guillaume Canet, Benno Fürmann and Diane Kruger. Such a wonderful film that shows an uplifting lesson in humanity, though the truce is such a brief one and the troops from three countries had to pay the price for their disobedience. I’m glad I finally saw it and it’s become one of my favorite Christmas-themed films!


BLOG STATS (Thanks WordPress!)


TOP 10 list is coming later in the week or this weekend. I’ve got at least five shoo-ins but I think the last half would be tough to pick. There’ll be some surprises (to those who follow my blog regularly anyway), some good, and some bad. January will be full of list posts, as I’ll be compiling Favorite Performances list, etc. from 2013. In the meantime, here’s …

Top Three Brits I Love in 2013… whom I will likely still adore in 2014 (and beyond!)

Richard ArmitageYup still obsessed w/ the dashing Richard Armitage… but really, can you blame me?
He’s moved to NYC recently so my wish for 2014 is to see more projects from Richard, TV, miniseries, movies, whatever, come on Hollywood!!

Tom Hiddleston
The oh-so-charming Hiddles… Tom Hiddleston ought to do a musical soon, the man oozes charisma… plus the dude can sing & dance! Check him out doing an impromptu Karaoke of Stand By Me!

Benedict CumberbatchIt’s Benedict Cumberbatch‘s banner year, even his voice made headlines as Smaug the dragon. Looking forward to see more of this uber-talented Brits on both movies & TV (hello Sherlock season 3!)

Suddenly obsessing again over …

2004_PhantomOfTheOperaMovieThanks to Cameron Macintosh’s new stage production of The Phantom of the Opera, which I saw twice at The Orpheum this month, I’ve fallen in love again with this gothic romance. Andrew Llyod Webber is such a musical genius, all the songs still have that power to haunt me after all these years. Though I LOVE the stage production, it also makes me appreciate the 2004 Joel Schumacher’s movie. Despite how I feel about his recent casting choices, I shall forever treasure Gerry Butler’s mesmerizing performance as Phantom. The chemistry with young Emmy Rossum (who’s 18 years apart in age!) is positively scorching and she made for an innocent yet sultry Christine.

I saw this movie three times on the big screen when it came out, and I would go again in a heartbeat if it ever got a re-release. It still captivated me so much that I too rewatched the Blu-ray twice in one weekend! Watch for a special appreciation post in the coming year ;)


BLIND SPOT series

One particular blogathon that has eluded me the past couple of years is the Blind Spot series. Originally spearheaded by Ryan at The Matinee, and so when I saw Dan at Public Transportation Snob and a few others posting their list, I thought why not join the fun?

I’ve always said that I need to catch up on more classic movies, so this is the perfect way for me to get on that. The idea of this blind-spot series is to come up with twelve acclaimed films for the year — so one film per month — and write a post on it. Ryan has designated the final Tuesday of every month to post his entries, I might as well do the same.

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1. All the President’s Men
2. Double Indemnity
3. Mr Smith Goes to Washington

4. How the West Was Won
5. Time Bandits
6. The Apartment
7. The Philadelphia Story
8. The Sting
9. Purple Noon
10. Rebel Without A Cause
11.
It Happened One Night

12. Rebecca

Btw, I haven’t decided when I’ll be seeing each of these films, so the list is set in random order. I figure I’ll surprise you which one I’d pick for the month :D


And last but certainly NOT least, I just want to say…

THANK YOU!

… to all my blog contributors this past year:

Ted S., Kevin G., Ashley S., Becky R. and Dave W.

… everyone who has visited and commented on this blog:

Shout out to my top 20 frequent commenters Keith, Mark, Fernando, Josh, Chris aka Terry Malloy,  Michael (thanks for kindly retweeting my posts, too!), Sati, Novia, Eric, Terrence, Dan aka CMrok93, Paula, Dan Stephens, Tim, Chris, Niels, Asrap, Rodney, Nostra, and Ckckred.

… new people I *met* this year whom I’ve enjoyed interacting with:

Steven (Surrender to the Void), James (JJames’ reviews), Zoë (The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger), Katy (The Drama Llama), V (The Verbal Spew), Chris W. (This is Madness), Gene (Let There Be Movies),Kim (Tranquil Dreams), Mikey (Screenkicker Blog), Mark (Three Rows Back), and Cindy (Cindy Bruchman’s Blog). Hope to see more of all of you here in the coming year ;)

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making FlixChatter one of your online spots to talk about movies! I look forward to connecting with you more in the coming year. There are a bunch of movies I’m looking forward to which I’ll surely be blogging about, and stay tuned for my Top 10 list from 2013 coming soon! :D


Here’s wishing you all the best in 2014… and beyond!

So any plans for New Year’s Eve/Day? Whatever you do, I wish you peace, love, and great movies! :D

10 Favorite Things about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Much has been debated about whether or not it’s a good idea that The Hobbit gets the same trilogy treatment as The Lord of the Rings trilogy when there is only one book being adapted. Now, I actually didn’t mind it and given how much I adore the Middle Earth universe, I welcome the extended film adaptation.

My interest in these movies increased tenfold when the casting was announced. It’s chock-full of my favorite actors, with Richard Armitage topping that list, then Lee Pace, Luke Evans, the BBC Sherlock duo Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, and of course the LOTR veteran Ian McKellen back as Gandalf. All of them did a wonderful job bringing their respective characters to life. Heck I even like Orlando Bloom as Legolas, I’m not fond of him as an actor but I can’t imagine anyone else in that role.

So here are 10 things I love about the second part of The Hobbit trilogy:

10. The livelier pace
Right of the bat, the film feels more energetic as we finally get to the quest in question. There’s a bit of a flashback scene with Thorin and Gandalf that sets everything up, and since it features my favorite Brit Richard Armitage, I certainly welcome this intro ;)

TheHobbit2_lonelymountain

There are half a dozen major action-packed sequences that really genuinely thrilling, so despite some slower moments, the 161-min running time still feels like a breeze. There is even more sense of urgency to get to Erebor and it definitely makes me even more eager to finally get there myself.


9. The fantastic special effects and set pieces
The technological wizardry is what you’ve come to expect from Peter Jackson movies. As I’ve posted the film production trivia a few days ago, you’ll see that it took a bazillion production workers nd extras, as well as props, prosthetics, sets etc. to bring the Tolkien universe to life. But it’s the endless imagination of PJ and his crews that really makes these films such a fun escapist experience. Ok so there are some sequences that look digitally animated but with a fantasy film like this, it certainly comes with the territory. I’ve also gotten used to seeing it in 3D High Frame Rate(48Frames/Second) and I have to say I enjoyed it even more this time around.

TheHobbit2_spiders

I even enjoyed the Spider attack scene in the forest though the amazing details on those giant spiders did give me the heebie-jeebies! There are so much details to creating each character and creature, as well as the new settings such as Lake Town and the dwarves kingdom of Erebor that virtually transport you to Middle Earth.

8. The adventure in Lake-town
The addition of Luke Evans as Bard definitely adds more excitement to the story and there’s more adventure in store for Thorin & co. even just getting into the fictitious community of Men upon the Long Lake.

TheHobbit2_Bard_LakeTown

They took a chance with Bard, not knowing if he’d betray him, so it adds to the suspense. It also features one of the funniest bits of the movie, which is a great continuation from the wine barrel escape (more on that later). There’s also some fun scene with always amusing Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-town, as well as some action packed sequence involving the Orcs and Elves. The town itself is beautiful to look at, apparently Peter Jackson and his crew built about 40 buildings on caster to make up the town.

7. The strong link to the Lord of the Rings story
Gandalf is separated from Bilbo and the Dwarf group this time around, working with his fellow wizard Radagast to get to The Dol Guldur. Inside the ruins is the creepiest sequence of all the film as Gandalf had to confront the Necromancer (once again voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).

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The terrifying eye of Sauron once again makes an appearance, establishing just what is REALLY at stake beyond the quest involving the Dwarves getting their gold back from a dragon. The duel between Gandalf vs. Necromancer reminds me a bit of the scene where he fought the Balrog creature in an epic battle in which he fell down the Bridge. There’s something so sinister seeing an imprisoned Gandalf watch the Orc army marching off towards the Lonely Mountain and he can’t stop them.

6. The awesomely bad-ass Elves
I always like the elves from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but here, led by Legolas and the Woodland Elf Tauriel. She’s not in the book so I think purists might have a different opinion about her (and Legolas appearing in The Hobbit), but I quite like Evangeline Lily as the warrior Elven princess. As the head of the Elven guard, she’s definitely as bad ass as Legolas, who’s even more swift and agile with his bow and arrows. They both move at breakneck speed as they fight the Orcs, yet there’s something so graceful and elegant about their moves that are so fun to watch. There’s an interesting dynamic between Legolas and Tauriel, hinting at a romance between the two (though seems like Tauriel has more of a thing with Thorin’s nephew Kili, played by the gorgeous Aidan Turner, in this movie).

TheHobbit2_TaurielLegolas
TheHobbit2_Mirkwood

One of my favorite scenes from the LOTR trilogy are those set in the ethereal Rivendell, now in this sequel, we’re taken to where the Wood-elves and its leader Thranduil live. I always enjoy the long shot of the lush and beautiful vista of the Elves’ dwelling place. Lee Pace‘s Thranduil has a bit more to do in this sequel, as there are memorable exchanges with Thorin as well as with his son Legolas.

5. Finally getting to Erebor
At the end of the first movie, when everyone was at the top of the large rock and saw the Lonely Mountain in the distance, I remember how I couldn’t wait for the gang to finally reach it. Well, it was so worth the wait!

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There’s something so emotional about the sequence when they finally reach that abandoned palace. It’s apparent that Bilbo and the band of Dwarfs are so weary after such a long journey, both physically and emotionally, so it’s such a huge joy to see them finally reaching their destination. Bilbo once again saves the day and we get to live vicariously through him as his REAL adventure begins as he reach the mountain of gold and jewels… and finally having to face the Dwarves’ arch nemesis!


4. Thorin! Thorin! Thorin!
It’s no surprise that I have a special fondness for Richard Armitage‘s character, but really, can you blame me? It’s one of the best casting choice in The Hobbit, a close second after Martin Freeman as Bilbo. Armitage has even more to do here (yay!) and he sure delivers with stately gravitas. Armitage didn’t sing again here, but he gets to showcase his thunderous deep voice of his in several occasions,  especially in the scene in Lake-town when he appeals to the Master and the people of the town about his quest. I also love that he gets to show his range here as an actor, obviously displaying leading-man charisma but also a certain vulnerability and even tenderness.

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There’s an emotional scene as the gang reaches Erebor, starting with indescribable joy that soon turns to grave disappointment. Thorin displays one of his rare smiles, he’s actually grinning ear to ear at the possibility of finally entering his palace once more, but within minutes we see how his high spirits quickly leaves him. It’s all on display on his expressive face as the camera zooms in on him. His humanity is palpable, here we really see Thorin as not just a leader on a mission, but a man on a very personal journey that means everything to him and the people he loves.


3. The Wine Barrel scene
There’s been many discussions of this escape sequence in many interviews and boy, it definitely lives up to the hype!! If you don’t remember anything about this film, you’d likely remember this one. The scene of getting into the barrel itself is a hoot, which was big enough to fit a couple of Dwarves (well one for the extremely obese Bombur). Once they get to the Celduin river, all hell break lose!

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It’s such a huge rush to watch this scene, no wonder filming this seems to be the most memorable for the cast involved! Not only do they have to survive being bounced around in the river, which runs from the Lonely Mountain south through the Long Lake with some fierce streams, they also have to battle the ugly and vicious Orcs (or Goblins as known in the Hobbit books). The fight scenes involving the three different races (Goblins, Elves and Dwarves) along that river are relentless and exciting, definitely one of the most exhilarating action sequences of the year.


2. Bilbo the hero
What I appreciate most about this film is that each challenges Bilbo, Thorin and the gang encounter built on their character. I think Bilbo’s character arc is even more fleshed out. He told Gandalf that he’s found his courage and though it was told as an alibi, he’s certainly not lying as he’s evolved to be a brave fighter of his own right. The way he rescued the dwarves from the giant spiders show his growing strength and deftness with the sword, but my favorite part is his scene in Erebor.

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He still has his whimsy intact, which makes me love Martin Freeman‘s casting even more. The way he moves and all his nervous gestures are part of his charms and why it’s so effortless to root for him. His zany-ness makes for pure comedic gold, even when he’s literally surrounded by gold trying to find the Arkenstone, which is like finding needle in a haystack!
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1. Smaug
The mythical dragon is everything it’s cracked up to be and more! When Bilbo inevitably wakes him up with all the ruckus, it turns out the lonely dragon is one chatty giant lizard. I guess he’s been all alone for so long with nobody to talk to that he simply can’t shut up, ahah. Benedict Cumberbatch did some motion capture on top of just providing the voice of Smaug, which gives it such a lifelike realism to the creature.

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We get to see every bit of Smaug in its glorious detail from head to toe, which is all kinds of awesome. He’s slithering about tormenting Bilbo with his enormous presence, but it’s the banter between the two that I enjoy the most. It’s dramatic as well as hilarious that I wish the Smaug sequence could’ve been longer! Nice to see the BBC Sherlock duo together again, Cumberbatch’s wit and that iconic voice certainly creates enough of a presence that it was fun to see him interact with Martin Freeman.

The final confrontation with Thorin & co. is thrilling as they’re trying to outwit and outmaneuver the sly Smaug. With Gandalf being away facing off against an even darker power of evil, Bilbo and the Dwarves are pretty much on their own. “If this is to end in fire, then we will all burn together,” Thorin proclaims defiantly, and the fight in Erebor is certainly a fiery one.

I really enjoyed the Smaug sequences that when he flew away and the closing credits came on, I felt like it was a tad too soon!


Kili (Aidan Turner)

Kili (Aidan Turner)

Now, I wish I could give this film a 5/5 but there are some REALLY slow moments that I feel grounds the film to a halt. One scene in particular is the lengthy flirty banter between Tauriel and Kili. Now, as Tauriel isn’t even in the book, I can”t imagine that scene is crucial to the story. It’s also odd given that there was much talk about Tauriel & Legolas romance that we barely see. Kili gets a lot more screen time in this film, so I’m curious about his character arc in the final installment.

Overall, it’s a great follow-up of an epic journey. The ending promises that even more lives are at stake in Middle Earth with Smaug being unleashed. Boy I’m even more eager to see the final film.

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4 out of 5 reels

So what do you think of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.