Question of the Week: Which films with great ensemble cast that fail to deliver?

It really pains me that the movie that *inspired* me for this edition of Question of the Week is one I’ve actually been looking forward to for some time. When I first blogged about it in January 2013, I was super duper excited about the cast. The movie is called The Deadly Game in the UK, complete with an even cheesier poster. I much prefer the Paul Shipper version on below right, if only the film itself is even half as intriguing.

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I never thought a British thriller starring Gabriel Byrne, Rufus Sewell AND Toby Stephens be so insufferably dreary. Even the actors look bored here, only Rufus seems to be having a bit more fun than the rest. My hubby actually fell asleep halfway through and I didn’t bother waking him up. If it weren’t for these three of my favorite Brits, well four if you count London which is practically a character in itself, I would’ve turned it off within 10 minutes. I don’t really feel like reviewing it, but I agree with these reviewers:

All Things to All Men is the latest attempt to make a British Michael Mann-style crime epic based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what Michael Mann actually does as a filmmaker. – The Scotsman

“Despite Sewell’s laconic ruthlessness, Stephens’s steely taciturnity and Byrne’s world-weary arrogance, there’s an all-round lack of conviction.”Radio Times

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Now this one sums my feelings exactly:

“[George Isaac's] dizzying array of double-dealing gangsters, cops, hoodlums and hit men seem to be weirdly obsessed with taking in the sights. Issac describes his film as “a love letter to London”. Seriously, they should just get a room.”

So the only *character* that’s not wasted is London, but even so, the setting seems has no purpose. There’s a great shot of Stephens inside the London Eye but all he does is take a phone call! There is really no reason to have that scene shot there other than for pure visual spectacle. It’s a shame really, this could’ve been so much better and more gripping when you’ve got THIS kind of talents involved. It made me think of other movies that didn’t deliver despite the great cast, in fact you could say the cast is completely wasted. And I’m talking terrible films here, not just middling. Just from the past couple of years alone, we’ve got Gangster Squad, Now You See Me, The Monuments Men. Fortunately I skipped some of those Love, Actually copycats like Valentine’s Day or New York, I Love You (which I turned off after about 5 minutes). Oh and I avoided Movie 43 like the plague, I mean I don’t think ANY actor could’ve possibly saved such a movie.


So now your turn… what’s the worst movie(s) you saw with a great ensemble cast?

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Weekend Roundup & MSPIFF14 double reviews starring Juliette Binoche

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend.

I took a bit of a break from blogging this weekend, but this week has been pretty busy in terms of movie watching. It’s the last week of the MSPIFF 2014 and I saw three more films, one short of what I intended to see but fortunately there’ll be a press screening of Locke next Monday. As the film fest continues with Best of Fest screenings all week, there’ll be more reviews coming from both me and Josh ;)

Here are the three new movies I saw over the weekend:

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I’ve blogged about All Things To All Men quite a while ago and finally it’s available on Netflix streaming. Remember how I always say some movies are well worth seeing just for the cast. Well, in this case, the ONLY thing worth seeing is the three actors: Toby Stephens, Rufus Sewell and Gabriel Byrne in that order [I'm having a serious crush on Toby, didn't you notice?] Alas, the film itself left so much to be desired, and leaves me scratching my head why these actors signed on to do such a project. Did they lose a bet or something? I’m not sure I could even review it, but let me just say that unless you’re absolutely in love with any of the cast, I can’t exactly recommend it.

These two from MSPIFF, on the other hand, is well worth a look.

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A Thousand Times Good Night

Rebecca is one of the world’s top war photographers. She must weather a major emotional storm when her husband refuses to put up with her dangerous life any longer. 

This is one of those dramas that at times play out like a thriller. Even from the first moments when the protagonist is witnessing a ceremonial custom of an Afghan suicide bomber being prepped for self sacrifice, it’s quite an emotional roller coaster all the way to the very last scene.

For Rebecca (Juliette Binoche), covering the war is not just a job, it’s her way of life. When she comes home injured from Afghanistan, it’s apparent that it’s just as tough for her family to deal with her dangerous job. It’s apparent that her husband Marcus is constantly worried sick for Rebecca and this incident puts him over the edge which compels him to give her an ultimatum. It’s her family or her job. At first I felt that it’s not fair of him to do so, but as the film progresses, we’re shown how her two young daughters are dealing with her absence whilst she’s away in a war zone. It’s a tricky dilemma that I find myself grappling with as I watched this film. I read that this film is semi-autobiographical as Norwegian director Erik Poppe was a war photographer himself. No doubt this story is quite a personal one for him.

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The main quibble I have with the film is the slow pace. I don’t mind quiet moments on film, but at times it felt a bit too indulgent that it threatens to grind the film to a halt. The metaphor of Rebecca drowning/suffocating by her life dilemma also grows repetitive. But the cinematography is simply stunning, nearly every shot is like a work of art. It’s also very atmospheric and the conflict felt genuine. The sense of authenticity comes from a committed performance from the always-reliable Binoche, as well as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays her sensitive & caring husband. I’ve always been a big fan of Nikolaj from his short TV stint in New Amsterdam, long before he played Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones, and he proves himself once again to be a capable and versatile actor. Lauryn Canny as Rebecca’s eldest daughter Steph is also quite good. When they’re in Africa, something happened that was quite traumatic for Steph. Some of the most emotional scenes in the film feature the two of them.

The heart of the film is no doubt Binoche. She conveys so much even in scenes where no words are spoken. This is the first of two films I saw her in and she’s absolutely excellent in both of these. There’s a certain aura of mystique about her that seems unreachable, and she’s very convincing as an fiercely idealistic woman. There is a fine line between bravery and recklessness and I think this film often blurs that line. There is a hint at the finale where Rebecca is back in Afghanistan that perhaps she’s a changed person after what happened between her and Steph, but the film lets us interpret that for ourselves.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Words and Pictures

An art instructor and an English teacher form a rivalry that ends up with a competition at their school in which students decide whether words or pictures are more important.

Romance that’s sparked out of rivalry has been done many times before, but with the right cast, it can still feel fresh. The pairing of Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche is what intrigues me about this film and they’re still the reason to watch to movie.

Owen is Jack ‘Mr Mark’ Marcus, a gifted English teacher at an upscale prep school. His best days as a published author seems to be behind him and he’s got a drinking problem. Perhaps that’s a result of his disillusionment with his life, as he seems to have lost his mojo, as well as in danger of losing his job. Meanwhile, a renowned painter Dina Delsanto (Binoche) has just been hired at the school. Her nickname is icicle for obvious reasons, but her coldness seems to also stem from her disappointment that she can no longer paint as much as she did due to her server Rheumatoid arthritis.

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The two couldn’t be more different from each other, but as they say, opposites attracts. It’s fun to watch Owen in a softer role like this where he’s not firing a gun every two seconds, but his intensity is still there as he bud heads with the school principal and board members. He’s a deeply flawed character and in the most vulnerable moments, especially between him and his estranged son, is where I enjoyed his performance most. I wish the film would focus more on these two characters, as all the drama with the students are not as intriguing to me, and they don’t really add much to the story. The whole school competition of Words vs Pictures is more of a personal *war* for Marcus and Delsanto, and though it’s predictable that they’d end up together, it’s still fun to watch their banters. I personally like the pairing of Owen and Binoche more than him and Julia Roberts in Duplicity, which I find rather contrived. The only other actor I like in this movie is Bruce Davison as one of the more sympathetic faculty members.

Binoche is lovely here and it’s a testament to her versatility that she is also very convincing as a painter. I didn’t know that she’s an artist herself but in the credits I noticed that the Delsanto’s work is by Binoche, wow! I think out of the two films I saw last week, her dramatic chops perhaps suits something like A Thousand Times Good Night better. I like the idea of two broken people finding each other and to see a romantic film between people over the age of 40. Alas, I think the ending is almost as rough as Owen’s unkempt stubbles. Even the finale of the competition just didn’t have the oomph needed to make the story soar. Overall it’s an enjoyable dramedy though, eons better than a lot of the rom-coms are churning out these days. If you’re a fan of these two actors, this one is definitely worth a look.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


So what did you see this Easter weekend? Anything good?

Music Break: Philip Glass’ The Illusionist score

As tonight I’ll be seeing Now You See Me tonight, a crime thriller about a team of illusionists pulling off bank heists during their performances, I thought this week’s music break would have a similar theme of magic. The Illusionist is essentially a love story based on Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist.

TheIllusionistScore

The film tells the story of Eisenheim, the the son of a cabinetmaker in Vienna, who uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.

Before I get to the music, I’m quite fond of this period drama. The cast is wonderful, especially Ed Norton who carried the film with his affecting performance. I also love Paul Giammatti and Rufus Sewell here, both are terrific character actors who rarely disappoint. Even Jessica Biel, who’s not typically a strong actress, seems to acquit herself well here as Norton’s long lost love, though at times she did seem to be out of her elements amongst other more experienced actors. Visually it’s quite beautiful as well, shot by cinematographer Dick Pope who deservedly nabbed an Oscar nomination for his work.

Now, I think Philip Glass should’ve been nominated for his work here as well, as his score is no doubt one of the strongest artistic elements of the film.


I love Philip Glass‘ musical style, he’s actually my dream composer for my romantic thriller movie pitch Hearts Want. I first heard his beautiful score for The Hours a few years ago, and I also love his work in The Truman Show. Glass was nominated for three Oscars for his work in The Hours, Notes on a Scandal and Kundun. The Baltimore-born composer utilizes the repetitive structures that some critics would label ‘minimalist style.’ Now, I’m no musical critic, so for me, I’m a fan of his work as his music have a distinct sound unlike any other, and they’re pleasing to the ear.

In this one, he wonderfully captures the romantic sensibility as well as the mysticism and magical tone of the story. According to PhilipGlass.com, Michael Riesman is the conductor and producer of nearly every Philip Glass soundtrack recordings. And here he conducted the Czech Film Orchestra to bring the score to life beautifully.

Another one of my favorites from the score is the Orange Tree track, and the scene in the movie is also one of the major highlights.



Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s music break. What do you think of Philip Glass and/or The Illusionist’ score?

Traveling Through Cinema: London

TravelingThruCinema_London It should not be a surprise that I’m an Anglophile, seeing how many British-related stuff I put on this blog :D Well, since my good friend Becky (aka Prairegirl) is visiting London in a few weeks, I thought I’d feature one of my all time favorite cities for my Traveling Through Cinema series. Yes, I kind of drop the ball with this series as my first one set in Bruges was back in January, but I’m going to try to do this once a month. OldTimesPlayOne of the reasons for Becky’s visit is to go see Harold Pinter’s theatrical play Old Times at the Harold Pinter Theater starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Rufus Sewell and Lia Williams. Yes I know, lucky girl!! I mean she’ll get to see Rufus LIVE in person on stage! I wish I could go along with her to London, but for now I’d have to live vicariously through her.


By the way, I’m excluding the London tube scenes as I’ve already made a post specifically on that in London Tube and the Movies post.


So with that in mind, here are some of my favorite London scenery from contemporary films (90s and beyond):

28 Days Later (2002)

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I found a great blog post describing the scene above so perfectly…

The setting of the film is … 28 days after a devastating plague swept through England. Jim (Cillian Murphy) is a London courier who was previously struck by a car on his route and plunged into a deep coma before the world came crumbling down around him. The world he awakens to is vacant madness, as the hospital he finds himself in is trashed and abandoned. He cries out for anyone still around. He’s weak and disoriented and hasn’t eaten for quite a while. Some sugary sodas give him some strength as he leaves the hospital, only to find more emptiness. London has been abandoned completely, with not a soul in sight. His cries go unanswered as debris gives him a hint as to what has happened. Missing people. Vigils for those departed. Old newspapers telling of a mysterious infestation.

An Education (2009)

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A coming-of-age tale set in 1960s London

Batman Begins (2005)

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Alfred Pennyworth: Took quite a fall, didn’t we, Master Bruce? Thomas Wayne: And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Bridget Jones Diary (2001)

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Bridget: I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. Well, I meant it, but I was so stupid that I didn’t mean what I meant… After all, it’s only a diary. Everyone knows diaries are just… full of crap. Mark Darcy: Yes, I know that. I was just buying you a new one. BridgetJonesDiaryKissFinale Bridget: Wait a minute… nice boys don’t kiss like that. Mark Darcy: Oh, yes, they f***ing do.

Children of Men (2006)

ChildrenOfMenLondon

The explosion scene as the film’s protagonist Theo (Clive Owen) exits a cafe is one of the most harrowing and memorable opening sequence I’ve ever seen. I could even hear the ringing sound after the explosion happen on screen, which I heard is a deliberate effect the filmmaker did to give the effect of what a loud explosion may do to your ears.

Finding Neverland (2004)

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Beautiful scenes of J.M. Barrie & Sylvia Llewelyn Davies’ family in Kensington Gardens

Harry Potter

There are too many great London scenes in this franchise that I have to break them down to several collages.

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Harry through the years… at the train station

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In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Harry fled a wedding after learning that the Death Eaters were coming for them, and ended up in Piccadilly Circus.

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Death Eaters attack the Millennium Bridge

The police are continuing with the investigation into the cause of the Millennium Bridge disaster. River traffic has been halted as police search for survivors. The surrounding area remains closed. The Mayor has urged Londoners to remain calm…

— A Muggle radio broadcast

Love, Actually (2003)

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Notting Hill (1999)

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Nowhere Boy (2009)

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Retro London – John Lennon’s early years from the mid 40s and 50s

John: Why couldn’t God make me Elvis? Julia: ‘Cause he was saving you for John Lennon!

Rocknrolla (2008)

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A beautifully-shot, memorable scene in a fabulous London museum

..

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

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I love the art direction of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. The Oscar nomination for this category is absolutely well deserved. I love how the CGI somehow still look and feel organic, and it captured the gritty atmosphere of the time and place. The incomplete Tower Bridge looked spectacular in the finale battle between Holmes and his nemesis Lord Henry Blackwood. This article by setdecorators.org says Ritchie brought a new, energetic perspective to the enduring adventures of Sherlock Holmes, “While our story is rooted in London of the 1890s, we have tried to make it as contemporary as we possibly can,” Ritchie said.

Skyfall (2012)

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A reflective scene of Bond on a rooftop overlooking his beloved city

The King’s Speech (2010)

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Lionel Logue: What was your earliest memory? King George VI: I’m not… -here to discuss… -personal matters. Lionel Logue: Why are you here then? King George VI: Because I bloody well stammer!

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Shaun of the Dead (2004)

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Zombies attacked London! Thank goodness for Shaun and co!

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

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A frill-free spy thriller in 1960s London

Control: All I want from you is one codename: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier… George Smiley: …Spy.

X-Men First Class (2011)

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Erik Lehnsherr: After tomorrow, they are gonna turn on us. But you are blinded because you believe they are all like Moira. Charles Xavier: And you believe they are all like Shaw. Listen to me very carefully, my friend: killing Shaw will not bring you peace. Erik Lehnsherr: Peace was never an option.

V for Vendetta (2005)

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The Parliament goes ka-boom!

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot… – Evey

The Young Victoria (2009)

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Love rules all. Queen Victoria & Prince Albert.

Now, this movie has not been released yet but based on the trailer, looks like All Things To All Men would have a TON of great London scenes (and gorgeous Brits), especially the ones in the London Eye! I’m a bit obsessed with that Ferris Wheel, if I lived in London I probably would go on there every weekend, ahah.

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Toby Stephens in a scene at the London Eye


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Well, hope you enjoy my favorite London scenery in the movies. Certainly it’s not a comprehensive list by any means, so please feel free to add YOUR own favorite in the comments.

Trailer Spotlight: British Crime Thriller ‘All Things To All Men’

Wahoo!!! Thanks to my friend Stella over at Byrneholics for the tip. This is THE trailer I’ve been waiting for, even though there’s not a confirmed US release date yet for this movie. Though for my lucky UK friends, this movie opens on April 5.

For those who missed my spotlight post for this crime thriller, I’m super excited for this mostly for the high caliber cast: Rufus Sewell, Gabriel Byrne and Toby Stephens. Oh man, talk about massive eye candy all around, and I haven’t even mentioned the gorgeous London scenery ;)

Now check out the trailer:

I have seen this trailer half a dozen times since this morning, so can’t you tell I’m excited for this? :D I love crime dramas and the London setting is especially intriguing for an Anglophile like me.

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Here’s the official synopsis:

When Riley (Stephens), a professional thief, is hired to pull off the ultimate sting, he is unwittingly drawn into a deadly cat and mouse game between maverick police detective Parker (Sewell) and renowned London crime lord Joseph Corso (Byrne). Parker is determined to bring down Corso and do whatever it takes to end his reign, but when the sting backfires and stakes get higher, Riley finds himself at the centre of a battle where the line between the law and crime are blurred beyond recognition.

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Leo Gregory

I really like the look of this, as my friend Stella said to me, it’ll be a testosterone-filled ride… and I’m more than game to tag along. This is George Isaac‘s directorial debut (he produced British dramas Kidulthood and Adulthood) so I don’t really know how well he’ll do behind the camera. But due to the premise and cast, I have high hopes for this.

I’m so thrilled to see Rufus getting top billing here, and nice to see Leo Gregory getting a bigger part in this as well. I’m going to try again via Twitter if I could get an interview with him. Oh btw, the girl in the trailer with no speaking parts is Spanish actress Elsa Pataky (Fast Five), who happens to be Chris Hemsworth’s wife. Boy, looks like she’s surrounded by hunks, on AND off the set, lucky gal!

I hope this film will find a US distributor, even for a limited release. Come on Hollywood, I REALLY want to see this on the big screen!


So what do you think of the trailer folks? Any fan of the cast?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: British Crime Drama ‘All Things To All Men’

A new contractor at my office who just started last week made an observation the other day when he stopped by my cube. “Are you a bit of an Anglophile?” I asked him why he thought so, then he pointed out to my Skyfall poster, London desktop pics, and other British-related memorabilia all over my desk. Well, considering my penchant for British cinema and actors, I guess I’ve been suffering from a seemingly-incurable case of Anglophilia ;)

The point of that story is that I LOVE movies set in Britain, and I’ve been waiting patiently for All Things To All Men for quite some time. I mentioned it nearly a year ago on this ensemble cast post, and for a while all I’ve got to go on is this photo:

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Gabriel Byrne & Toby Stephens

Well, finally we’ve got some great news about its release date… well for my friends across the pond that is. It’s set to open nationwide across the UK on March 8, no news on the US release yet, though :(

Special thanks to Stella from Byrneholics for the tip, we’re both thrilled that Irish thespian Gabriel Byrne has the lead role, with two equally hunky Brits Rufus Sewell and Toby Stephens. Before we get to the synopsis, lets look at some official first pics first, shall we?

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Here’s the synopsis:

When Riley (Stephens), a professional thief, is hired to pull off the ultimate sting, he is unwittingly drawn into a deadly cat and mouse game between maverick police detective Parker (Sewell) and renowned London crime lord Joseph Corso (Byrne). Parker is determined to bring down Corso and do whatever it takes to end his reign, but when the sting backfires and stakes get higher, Riley finds himself at the centre of a battle where the line between the law and crime are blurred beyond recognition.

Per Empire, the film’s written and directed by George Isaac, who’s already a successful producer with Kidulthood and Adulthood and a BAFTA nominee for short film Nits, and also stars Elsa Pataky (Chris Hemsworth’s wife), James Frain, Julian Sands and Leo Gregory.

Byrneholics site has the full press release, which states that the film is shot entirely in London. I found some pics of Rufus on the set last year:

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Sorry, no larger pics available without watermark, photos are from CapitalPictures.

Man, I absolutely can’t wait for this movie! I love crime dramas and the premise sounds intriguing. The fact that this is a smaller production and set on location makes me want to see it all the more. Of course the cast is just splendid! I’ve always thought Byrne is perfect in a noir crime drama, and this role is similar to the one I cast him in this Moran’s Epilogue movie pitch as a former gangster. Sewell is a massively underrated actor, but I hope he gets a role he could really sink his teeth into. I’m not as familiar with Stephens’ work as a whole, though I adore his mum, Dame Maggie Smith. Unfortunately I’m not fond of the only two roles he did that I saw, Bond villain in Die Another Day and Rochester in 2006 BBC’s Jane Eyre, but I give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll be good here.

Man, I hope the trailer’s going to be released soon… and more importantly, this will get a cinema release here in the US, even if it’s a limited one.


Well, thoughts on this movie and/or cast? Would you go and see this?

Five for the Fifth: End of the Year Edition

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Hello folks, welcome to the very last edition of 2012 Five for the Fifth!!

To those who’ve never missed a single FFtF post, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for making this my most popular blog series!

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

1. Well, it’s only three weeks away to 2013. I think it’s been quite a year for movies, hasn’t it? I mean we’ve got major blockbusters for super lucrative franchises – The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall AND The Hobbit all in the same year! Yes, it’s a big year for Twi-hards as well but for the rest of us, aren’t you glad the franchise is [almost] over? All together now: free at last!! :D

Thanks to TCFF though, I’ve also got a chance to view some awesome indie movies as well, which balance things out nicely. I will do my Top 10 of 2012 at the end of the month, but I think Argo, Skyfall and The Sapphires might make my list.

So my first question is: What’s YOUR top five favorite films of the year (so far)?

……
2. Ok, 2012 is barely over and I’m already looking forward to June 14, 2013! Yep, that’s the US release date for Man of Steel. If you’re on Twitter on Monday, most likely you’ve seen it but just in case you haven’t. Behold…

ManOfSteelTeaserPoster2


‘Oooh lookie here, sexy Henry in handcuffs!!’ ;) Ehm, sorry, now that we get that out of the way. Most people were baffled as to ‘why is Supes a villain?’ and just the general logic [or lack thereof] that you can’t technically confine Supes with all his mighty powers behind bars, that is unless the prison is made of kryptonite of course. But judging from the look of Supes’ expression, looks like it’s a voluntary decision on his part to be led by the military convoy. I kind of like the departure from tradition, in fact, Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder seems to be set on defying tradition even from the costume alone. As EMPIRE mag says, “…a little originality is good for the soul.”

So what do you think of the teaser poster, folks? Thoughts about this reboot so far?

3. It’s been a while since I blog about Rufus Sewell, one of my favorite hunky Brits. But I want to let you know on his Sundance Channel two-part miniseries Restless he’s currently starring in, along with Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon.

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Adapted from William Boyd‘s spy novels that Boyd himself is adapting, it’s set during the early days of World War II and follows a Russian spy who tries to infiltrate the British Secret Service with the goal of influencing U.S. power brokers and swinging American public opinion in favor of fighting the Nazis.

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Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery plays Ruth Gilmartin, who, in 1976, visits her mother Sally (Rampling), and is handed a diary recounting her colorful past. Turns out mom was actually born Eva Delectorskaya (Atwell), having emigrated from Russia to France. In the wake of her brother’s death in 1939, she’s recruited by British agent Lucas Romer (Sewell) to spy for the U.K. on the eve of World War II. (per Variety) Judging from the picture above, there’s likely some smoldering romance involved as well. Check out the awesome extended preview/featurette below with the ensemble cast:


The premise sounds intriguing and I like the look of this miniseries. Plus the cast is excellent! Rufus and Hayley certainly look fabulous in period costumes.

The first part of the miniseries begins this Friday at 9P E/P on the Sundance Channel. Can’t wait to see this one when it’s available to rent!

Well, what do you think of the trailer? Would you watch this one if you have the Sundance Channel?

4. Well, one of the biggest movie of 2012 has just come out in Blu-ray. Some of you might already pre-order The Dark Knight Rises and even seen it all over again a few times by now? :D Well I might get a copy too but not in a hurry to do so. One thing that I find amusing lately is the emergence of these Honest Trailers by the Screen Junkies (the trailers are made by Break Media digital company. You’ve likely seen their parodies of popular movies like Hunger Games, Prometheus, Avengers and my favorite of all, Twilight on YouTube. Well, Nolan’s final Batman trilogy no exception, check out their latest work below. As you probably guess, these honest trailers do have plot spoilers on them, but really, if you haven’t seen this movie by now, you probably aren’t that interested in Nolan’s Batman movies in the first place.

These guys definitely don’t pull any punches on their parody, but y’know what, it addresses a lot of the questions I had with the movie I wrote in my review. No matter though, this movie is obviously flak-proof anyway as the Blu-rays are likely going off the shelves as we speak.

How many honest trailers have you seen and which one(s) do you like best?


5. Ok, my last question is not exactly movie-related but you are free to make it so if you like. Well, I’ll be off to my two-week vacation on Friday. I don’t usually go on vacation during the holiday season but our schedule just works out that way this year. I haven’t been in any major vacation in over a year, but I’ve been blessed with a lot of memorable one in my lifetime. I think my favorite one is a tossup between the trip to Italy and the UK a few years back. I’m more of a city girl so I love exploring the enchanting cities like Rome, Florence and London that’s so full of history and full of life.

ILoveLondon

I still dream to go to Scotland, Australia and Eastern Europe (especially Prague), hopefully one of them would happen in the near future.

So my last question to you is, what’s your most memorable vacation you’ve ever had? I’d also love to hear about your dream vacation :D



Well, that’s it for the last 2012 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. There’ll be more coming next year for sure!

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

The London List Part II: Sixteen favorite actors born in the UK capital

The Happy and Glorious 2012 Olympics have come to a rocking end earlier today with a celebration of British pop-culture. Just because the Olympics is over though, doesn’t mean the London appreciation has to. The UK capital is one of my favorite city I have been blessed to visit.

Now for Part II, I decided to go with a top 16 instead of 10 for each day of the London 2012 Olympics, and also partly because there are too many London-born actors I love that it’s agonizing to keep it just 10. By the way, I’m including some of the nearby Suburbs of London as well.

Though I may not have seen ALL of their work, I am fond of these actors from seeing their performances in a number of projects [at least three in order to be eligible for this list]. So here they are in ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Emily Blunt

Born on February 23, 1983, in Roehampton, South West London. I first saw her in The Devil’s Wear Prada when she practically stole every scene. I’ve since seen her in half a dozen films and I think my favorite role of hers are in Jane Austen Book Club [I love her outfits in this movie too!], The Young Victoria, and Salmon Fishing in Yemen. There’s something about her demeanor that makes me connect with her right away. Did you know that she had a stammer when she was a kid? Apparently a teacher asked her to play a character with a different voice and it did the trick and her stammer disappeared.

Michael Caine

Born 14 March 1933, Rotherhithe, London. Who doesn’t love Michael Caine with his cockney accent? It’s practically iconic! I don’t know which is the first film I saw him in, it might’ve been Deathtrap with Christopher Reeve. But it’s his roles in Christopher Nolan’s movies [the Batman trilogy and The Prestige] that perhaps make him become a mainstream star. He’s one of those actors that is always watchable even in not-so-good movies [Miss Congeniality anyone?] My fave roles of him are Alfred, Jasper in Children of Men and Dr. Larch in The Cider House Rules. Did you know his real name is Maurice Micklewhite?

Dominic Cooper

June 2, 1978 in Greenwich, London. In the Liebster post, I asked which actor whom you initially don’t care for but somehow slowly warmed up to. I answered Matt Damon, but I could say the same about Dominic as I did not like his performance as Willoughby in the recent BBC adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, but then he started to pop up in all kinds of movies like An Education, Captain America, My Week with Marilyn, and most recently Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. You know what, I started enjoying seeing him on screen and I have to admit that he’s quite talented.
,,,

Benedict Cumberbatch

Born July 19, 1976 in London. I first noticed the unconventionally-handsome bloke with a peculiar name as a cad in Atonement. But no doubt it’s his role in BBC’s Sherlock that impressed me and it no doubt opens a lot of doors for him as well. He was excellent in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Amazing Grace and even in his brief scenes in War Horse. With his upcoming roles in The Hobbit and Star Trek, it’s safe to say Benedict’s moment has definitely arrived.

Idris Elba

Born 6 September 1972, Hackney, London. It’s hard not to notice this tall, hunky East-Londoner when he comes into the screen. Though when I first saw him in some clips of The Wire, I thought he was American (his parents are from Sierra Leone and Ghana). His first role I saw was Rocknrolla, where he just lights up the screen as Gerry Butler’s partner in crime, Mumbles. He’s got such screen charisma and his Cockney accent is to-die-for, though I often just gaze at the way he speak that I don’t pay attention to what he had to say, ahah. I’ve since enjoyed seeing him in Thor and Prometheus, and even in an under-written role in The Losers, he’s still fun to watch. Glad to see him thriving in Hollywood and getting more roles, I think his leading role in Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi adventure Pacific Rim would likely make him an A-lister, if he isn’t already by now.

Tom Hardy

Born September 15, 1977 in Hammersmith, London. As they say, no matter how small a role is, it’s up to the actor to make it memorable. That’s what Hardy did in his scene-stealing performance in Inception with that awesome quote about ‘dreaming a little bigger.’ He has done a few exceptional performances before that though, his role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson shows his dedication to his craft and his range. Just like Cumberbatch, he impressed me in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy despite his limited screen time, and his heartfelt performance in Warrior should’ve been recognized in last year’s award season.

Tom Hiddleston

Born February 9, 1981 in Westminster, London. I’ve mentioned it several times before that his breakthrough role in THOR is what made me notice him. His Loki is perhaps one of my favorite superhero villains, but this RADA-trained actor’s certainly capable for more. I’ve since seen him in bit parts in War Horse and Midnight in Paris and I just love his gorgeous voice and charming screen presence. His impersonations are awesome, which are all over YouTube if you’re curious. I’d love to see more of him in Hollywood, he’ll be starring as a love-struck vampire in Jim Jarmusch’ Only Lovers Left Alive.

Jude Law

Born December 29, 1972 in Lewisham, London. One of the most gorgeous Brits with to-die-for green eyes are actually more versatile than I thought. I think The Talented Mr. Ripley was one of the earliest roles I saw him in, but he’s since starred in a whole bunch of films playing a variety of characters. I think I’ve seen him in about a dozen films now, but I don’t know what my favorite role of his would be. Surely one of his memorable is his villainous turn in Road to Perdition.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Born April 29, 1957 in Greenwich, London. I heard that he’s often referred to as the English Robert De Niro. I don’t know about you, but I think he’s far more consistent than his acting hero. The celebrated actor isn’t the most prolific due to his exhaustive preparations for his roles. His intense performance in The Last of the Mohicans and heart-wrenching one The Age of Innocence blew me away, though a few of his key roles such as My Left Foot and The Crucible still eluded me. Did you know that Day-Lewis actually pursued the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction after Michael Madsen wasn’t available?

Alfred Molina

Born May 24, 1953 in London. Believe it or not, I first noticed Mr. Molina years ago in a very unsympathetic role. He played a brutish Iranian husband in Not Without My Father with Sally Field. His Spanish/Italian heritage makes him so versatile that he could play almost any ethnicity, but it’s also his screen presence that makes him so compelling to watch. I like him in Chocolat, An Education and as a sympathetic villain in Spider-man 2.

Carey Mulligan

Born May 28, 1985 in Westminster, London. I’ve only just seen her less than 2 years ago in her breaking role in An Education. But immediately I like seeing her, she has this sympathetic vibe about her and she’s less pouty than her co-star in Pride and Prejudice and Never Let Me Go. In fact, it’s Carey’s role in that heartbreaking film that made me a fan, she has this very soothing voice as well. Looking forward to seeing her in The Great Gatsby, too bad that movie got delayed until next year.

Gary Oldman

Born March 21, 1958 in New Cross, London. He’s friggin’ Gary Oldman. Need I say more? Well, I will say a bit more. His villainous role in The Professional certainly is not easy to forget, he’s one of those memorable bad guys you love to hate. Then he blew me away as Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, but like Michael Caine, his roles in the Batman trilogy and Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azkaban also shows he’s just as compelling in blockbuster films. I’m not as enamored with the film but his role as a seasoned spy in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was definitely Oscar-worthy. [related post: Chat-worthy Thespian Gary Oldman]

Alan Rickman

Born February 21, 1946 in Hammersmith, London. Wouldn’t you believe it that the first time I saw him in Truly, Madly, Deeply I was not smitten with him? I was only 18 then so what did I know, right? But then his deliciously evil performance as Hans Gruber makes him a favorite amongst action fans, including yours truly. Yet Rickman is perhaps the few actors whose bad guy roles such as in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves are equally as memorable as his good ones. After all, he is one of my favorite period drama heroes. I also love his comedic chops in Galaxy Quest and the enigmatic Severus Snape is definitely my top favorite Harry Potter characters.

Rufus Sewell

Born October 29, 1967 in Twickenham, suburban London. This is an obvious one as I’ve mentioned the gorgeous Brit often in this blog. Why he’s not more famous and often relegated to supporting roles is beyond me. Sewell is not only VERY easy on the eye but he’s immensely talented and versatile. Whether it’s sci-fi (Dark City), period dramas (Dangerous Beauty, Tristan + Isolde), a Shakespeare adaptation [Shakespeare-Told's The Taming of the Shrew] or a James Bond-like detective (BBC’s ZEN), we can expect a top notch performance from this raspy-voiced actor. Oh, he makes for a juicy vampire too! Can’t believe he had not played one before Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter as he sure is one sexy prince of darkness! [related post: 44 Reasons We Love Rufus Sewell, Spotlight on BBC Zen]

Mark Strong

Born August 30, 1963 in London. The Italian/Austrian actor (whose real name is Marco Giuseppe Salussolia) first came to my attention as the creepy, limping bloke who beat up my Gerry Butler in BBC’s miniseries The Jury. Yep, that was before he co-starred with GB again in Rocknrolla. Like Molina, Strong also had that ‘ethnic’ look that allow him to play characters of various ethnicity, including a Jordanian Prince in Body of Lies. I feel that he’s got the chops and charisma to play leading roles, but for some reason he’s typecast as villains or unsympathetic supporting roles. I read that he doesn’t mind it though and if you’re looking at his IMDb resume, he’s busier than ever with about five films coming out in 2013, and that’s not counting his TV projects. Good for him! [related role: Actor Spotlight: Mark Strong]

Emma Thompson

Born April 15, 1959 in Paddington, London. I think the fact that she wrote the script for one of my all time favorite film Sense & Sensibility will automatically places her in my good graces forever, but she is also a wonderful actress. Interesting that she used to be married to one of my top 10 Irish thespians Kenneth Branagh. It’s in one of his films, Much Ado About Nothing, that I first noticed her in. Her subsequent roles in The Remains of the Day, Love Actually, Stranger Than Fiction and Last Chance Harvey, Brave (voicing Merida’s mother Elinor)are all wonderful, but S&S‘ Elinor Dashwood shall always be my personal favorite.

Honorable Mentions:

Special Honorable Mention: Sophia Myles
*She was originally on the main list but I had to swap her with Idris Elba who I inadvertently left off the list as I thought he was not born in London.

Born May 18, 1980 in London. Sophia is the only actor here where I noticed from a TV show. I LOVE Sophia as Beth in Moonlight, one of my guilty pleasure show about vampires that’s prematurely canceled. She really is one of the best things on that show. She reminds me a lot of Kate Winslet, especially in the Jane Austen adaptation Mansfield Park in a small role. For some reason, her career didn’t take off after her leading role in Tristan + Isolde. It’s too bad as I think she’s quite talented. I hope she’ll get another big break one of these days.

Other awesome Londoners who’ve made it in Hollywood:

  • Hayley Atwell
  • Helena Bonham-Carter
  • Rebecca Hall
  • Emily Mortimer
  • Thandie Newton
  • Andy Serkis
  • Rachel Weisz


Check out Part I of Favorite London Scenes if you haven’t already



So what’s YOUR favorite London-born actor(s). Do fill me in if they’re not on this list and share your favorite role of him/her.

The year of ensemble-cast movies – which one is your favorite?

With The Avengers kick-starting the Summer movie season, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of blockbusters. The year of ensemble cast blockbusters to be exact, as The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit are all vying to be amongst the ‘billion dollar club’ of the decade.

Avengers’ cast in the London premiere

An ensemble cast: a cast in which the principal performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production.

A couple of years ago I listed my top five ensemble cast films from the past decade. Now, it’s not as simple as just hiring a bunch of actors in one movie, as some dismal movies like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve did. A good ensemble formula is when the assembled players actually work well together and elevate the story, instead of just getting ‘butts in seats’ for their name’s sake.

The ensemble cast films aren’t limited to just the mega blockbusters, however, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love also boast a large troupe of actors for their films. There’s also the 80s action heroes ensemble that is Expendables 2, and comedy ensembles What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Movie 43 from the Farrelly Brothers which I talked about last March [it's apparently has been pushed out 'til next January]. On a smaller scale, there are these two independent projects I’m highly enthusiastic about:

  • At Swim Two Birds with the Irish ‘dream team’ of Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, and Jonathan Rhys Meyersthat’s hopefully out this year as well.
  • All Things to All Men with Gabriel Byrne, Rufus Sewell, Toby Stephens, Elsa Pataky (Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth’s wife), Leo Gregory, Julian Sands and James Frain. I will blog about this as soon as I have more info about the project, but in the meantime, check out this comprehensive post on Byrneholics site.

Ok, these three films represent three of my favorite ensemble cast from this year’s release (apart from The Avengers that is):

Moonrise Kingdom

  • Edward Norton
  • Bruce Willis
  • Bill Murray
  • Tilda Swinton
  • Harvey Keitel
  • Jason Schwartzman
  • Frances McDormand

Norton, Willis and Murray… what a trio! The trailer looks like a hoot as well. This might be another Wes Anderson movie I like since The Royal Tennenbaums!

The Dark Knight Rises

  • Tom Hardy
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Christian Bale
  • Liam Neeson
  • Anne Hathaway
  • Gary Oldman
  • Marion Cotillard
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Michael Caine

The Dark Knight‘s cast is already ace, but the additional cast (especially Hardy and Gordon-Levitt) just makes it even better!! I’ve never even heard of Josh Pence before (last photo on the 2nd row) but curious how he’d fare as young Ra’s Al Ghul.

The Hobbit

Click image to see a larger version

  • Luke Evans
  • Hugo Weaving
  • Elijah Wood
  • Martin Freeman
  • Cate Blanchett
  • Evangeline Lilly
  • Orlando Bloom
  • Christopher Lee
  • Ian McKellen
  • Andy Serkis
  • Richard Armitage
  • Ian Holm
  • Lee Pace
  • Billy Connolly

Now, is it any wonder I actually dreamed about being on the set of this movie??! Again, I already LOVE the cast of the Lord of the Rings trilogy but Peter Jackson seems to have upped the ante even more as The Hobbit is chock full of my favorite UK/Aussie actors!! A lot of them are from UK TV shows so I wonder if PJ are a big fan of BBC? :D You already know this but I’m looking forward to seeing Richard Armitage as Thorin the most, but also Lee Pace as Thranduil the Elven King!

Added 12/3

HONORABLE MENTION:

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – I LOVE the all-British cast, especially the two Dames: Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. But it’s also nice to see the likes of Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy amongst the cast as well.


Inspired by my pal Terrence’s Time to Vote Tuesday, I figure it’d be fun to have an interactive post for today :)

So which of these ensemble cast is your favorite? Please cast your vote below (you can pick 2) and do share why in the comments :)

… 

THIS JUST IN: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter First Trailer!

Here’s one of those movies with an idea so bizarre it’s bound to get you at least curious enough to check it out. One of America’s legendary presidents is a highly-trained vampire assassin?? What? What? When I first heard about it back in April when Rufus Sewell was cast as the lead vampire, I learned that the movie is based on a historical fiction of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, the same author of the equally wacky Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Relative newcomer Benjamin Walker who actually played yet another US president in the rock stage musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is playing Lincoln.

Behold the International Trailer (updated 2/15):


Here’s the full synopsis per Daily Blam!:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a re-imagining of the 16th President’s life that depicts him as an axe-throwing, highly accomplished killer of vampires — an obsession of his since those bloodsuckers supposedly took the life of his mother. Lincoln eventually learns that the vampires have fled to the southern states of the U.S. and are concocting a plan to conquer and enslave the entire country — this in turn leads to the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy, the latter of which the vampires are aligned with.

Directed by Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) and produced by Tim Burton, it’s a return to the vampire genre for Bekmambetov who made two vampire thrillers set in Moscow, Night Watch and Day Watch. The gothic atmosphere set by the poster is certainly very Burton-esque, and it’s likely to be full of brutal, slo-mo Matrix-style action sequencesmixed with 19th-century period set pieces. Well whether Timur does a good job with this remains to be seen, but one thing for sure, you probably never saw this bad ass, axe-throwing side of Lincoln before.

Here’s more info about the cast:

  • Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double) – Abraham Lincoln’s mentor
  • Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) – Will, Lincoln’s best friend
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgim VS The World) – Mary Todd, Abe Lincoln’s love interest and eventual wife
  • Andy Tudyk (Firefly) – Stephen A. Douglas, a strong but respected adversary of Lincoln within the Republican Party.

I can’t see most of the cast in this first trailer as there are just so much going on and the cuts are just too fast, but I guess this is more of a teaser to get us a glimpse of what to expect.

Updated 2/15: 20th Century Fox now has also released the Featurette, check it out below:


So folks, are you game to see this one in 3D come June 22?