Top 10 Movies from the first half of 2014

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It’s been about three weeks since we passed the halfway mark of 2014, so I figure I should get this list up before the end of July. As I did the previous years, I’m including some films that might’ve opened internationally prior to 2014, but I’m including them here as I’m using the USA release dates (either wide or limited releases). These are movies that I consider a cross between a ‘best of and favorite’, so the criteria is that these films made an impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, deeply moving, thought-provoking, and indelible. Re-watchability is a big factor but it doesn’t account as high as the other virtues I’ve mentioned, because some of the films here are more of a one-time-viewing-only types (for me anyway), but I still very much appreciate the artistry and passion that goes into making them.

So without further ado, I present to you my TOP 10 list (in reverse order):

10. The Grand Seduction (full review)

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I almost missed seeing this one at the MSPIFF earlier this year but I’m glad I was able to catch the second screening. I had a lot of fun with this one and I’d be happy to watch this again at some point. You can always count on Brendan Gleeson to entertain, and here he delivers once again along with Newfoundland’s most famous celebrity Gordon Pinsent and surprisingly enough, Taylor Kitsch is fun to watch here as well. This comedy is delightfully funny, heartwarming and beautiful to look at, it could practically doubles as a tourism video for the Canadian province!

9. Edge of Tomorrow (full review)

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I’ve been seeing this movie in fellow bloggers’ favorite-of-the-year list and I can see why. I bet it was as much a pleasant surprise for them as it did for me, as I was ready to dismiss this one as yet another Tom Cruise’s meh sci-fi. Well, it ended up being massively entertaining and has a worthy female heroine in the form of Emily Blunt. The movie is not as profound as some people made it out to be, but props to director Doug Liman for pulling off the ‘repetitive’ aspect of the story that is far from boring. I certainly don’t mind a repeat experience of seeing this one again on rental.

8. The LEGO Movie (full review)

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Everything is awesome! Now that’s a bold tagline to live up to, but guess what, this movie did just that and then some! Apparently February is NOT just for duds and I’m pretty sure this one will get a nomination come award season. The LEGO Movie is easily one of the most fun experience I had in the movies in a long time, it’s every bit as cute and hilarious as the trailers and featurettes promised us. It’s the perfect geekstravaganza for everyone of all ages, an awesome escapist from the Winter Dump Months for the young and the young-at-heart.

7. The Machine (full review)

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Ok so some of you might think because Toby Stephens is in this that this movie ends up in my top 10… and well, you won’t be entirely wrong ;) But I really do think this is a worthy sci-fi that’s well-made, well-acted AND thought-provoking. Made with a shoestring budget (less than $2 mil), The Machine has more heart than its big budget sci-fi counterparts (think Elysium) which proves that it takes way more than big budget and big stars to make a memorable movie. The two leads, Stephens and Caity Lotz are impressive here, and their performances are able to overcome the flaws of the movie, and their scenes are what make this movie watchable over and over.

6. Locke (full review)

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It’s a testament of Tom Hardy‘s strong screen presence and Steven Knight‘s taut script and direction that this one-man show is gripping even when practically nothing happens on screen. The entire film takes place inside a car with Hardy’s Ivan Locke behind the wheel. It’s certainly one of the most unique cinematic experience that immerses you into the world of its protagonist. Visually it’s striking too, somehow Knight’s able to make highway driving look so dramatic and even artistic. If you ever had any doubt about Hardy’s acting prowess, well then I suggest you check this one out and prepare to be blown away.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel (full review)

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I don’t love everything Wes Anderson put out there, but this one works for me. It captivated me from the opening scene all the way until the end. It’s more fast-paced than his other films but has all the things you expect from Wes: the quirky characters, the perfect symmetry of every single scene, playful music, etc.  I was quite invested in the two lead characters, particularly Zero Mustafa (played by F. Murray Abraham and Tony Revolori), more than I’ve ever felt about previous Wes Anderson’s characters. Mischievously whimsy, but with heart. Like a charming hotel, it’s one I wouldn’t mind revisiting again and again.

4. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (full review)

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I adore the first film so I was a bit nervous this sequel would not live up to it. Well clearly I LOVE this one too as it made my top 5 so far. Despite the more complicated storyline, writer/director Dean DeBlois still made the adorable duo Toothless and Hiccup the central focus of the story. The additional character played by Cate Blanchett delves more into Hiccup’s family background, which makes you appreciate him and his father Stoick (Gerard Butler). With John Powell’s rousing score once again, this ranks high in my favorite animated features and would probably be among the nominees come award season!

3. Belle (full review)

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For a fan of period dramas, Amma Assante‘s sophomore feature has everything I could possibly want from this genre, and then some. Some critics call it ‘Jane Austen with a conscience’ as the protagonist’s story is set in the backdrop of slavery and racial injustice. Gugu Mbatha-Raw gracefully carries the film with her heartfelt performance, surrounded by a stellar cast that includes Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson. Sam Reid also impressed me with his performance as Belle’s unlikely confidante/love interest, I definitely would love to see both Mbatha-Raw and Reid get more prominent roles in the future. I can’t wait to own the Blu-ray that’s out next month, this one will definitely get a lot of play in my house!

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (full review)

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I happen to LOVE the first movie which my hubby and I have watched repeatedly. It’s rare to see a sequel that not only lives up to the original but manages to be even better! Billed as a ’70s political thriller masquerading as a superhero movie’, The Winter Soldier delivers on that front and gives us something that’s genuinely intriguing and massively entertaining. I LOVE espionage movies so the story definitely appeals  to me, but of course it also has the exciting action sequences that’s the bread-n-butter of any superhero blockbuster. It’s filled with adrenaline-pumping geek-gasm scenes without being banal or vapid. Chris Evans‘ much more confident in the role which makes him even more watchable, and Robert Redford + Anthony Mackie are great additions to an already-fantastic cast. This one has become my favorite Marvel stand-alone feature and Cap my favorite Marvel superhero!

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past (full review

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It took me a while to decide between The Winter Soldier and X-Men: DOFP as my #1 pick, but after much deliberations, this one wins by a slim margin. I give this one an edge because the time travel aspect and the back-and-forth across multiple dimensions are tough to pull off, but Bryan Singer did a tremendous job making it all work beautifully. I have a soft spot for the X-Men franchise and despite the disappointing The Wolverine, this is one of my most-anticipated films of 2014! It certainly did NOT disappoint. Glad to see Singer back at the helm for this one, after relinquishing his directorial efforts to other directors for X-Men 3 and X-Men: First Class. Now, I’m a big fan of the latter and a lot of the emotional high notes of that first prequel are carried over here as well. Emotional drama and complex relationship are mixed together well with witty humor and thrilling action. Similar to Nolan’s Batman films in some ways, it’s character & plot-driven punctuated by exhilarating action sequences. As far as superhero movies go, this one has everything that makes going to the movies so gratifying.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

These aren’t stellar by any means, but it was pretty entertaining and worth-seeing. So yeah, I’d recommend these for a rental!

 


WORST of the year so far:

I’m glad I’ve been able to avoid what’s poised to be stinkers like I Frankenstein, Blended, Pompeii, Tammy,etc. but I wish I hadn’t wasted my precious 2+ hours on these two!


So that’s my Best/Worst list of 2014 so far. Thoughts on my picks here? I’d be happy to discuss ‘em with you :D

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Special Collaborative Post: Recasting Jane Austen AdaptationPart II – Mansfield Park

Today I bring you the second one of our collaborative Austen Recasting Series with a fellow blogger, and fellow British actor aficionado, Anna from Defiant Success blog. The first one we did was Sense & Sensibility, this time we’re tackling the screen adaptation of Mansfield Park. If you haven’t read the book or seen any film adaptation of Mansfield Park, this Sparknotes article gives a good insight about its characters.

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Anna’s Picks

Sophie Turner as Fanny Price

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Admittedly, this choice is the result of watching too much Game of Thrones. Knowing what her character of Sansa Stark goes through on the show (well, at least up to “The Mountain and the Viper”), Turner seems perfect for the role of Fanny. (Then again, what Fanny goes through is practically idyllic compared to Sansa’s ordeal.)

Ben Whishaw as Edmund Bertram

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I was initially considering Whishaw for Edward Ferrars on the Sense and Sensibility casting post, but I realized he was must better suited as Edmund. A few of his roles have him as kindhearted but naive, which easily sums up Edmund.

Rebecca Hall as Mary Crawford

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It was Hall’s work in Parade’s End that made me think she’d be right for this role. Her character of Sylvia Tietjens uses her looks and charms to conceal her more deceitful nature, much like what Mary does throughout the book.

Dominic Cooper as Henry Crawford

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I must thank Andrew from Encore Entertainment for this suggestion because quite frankly it’s almost impossible to cast the men in an Austen adaptation. (Key word: almost.) Cooper could easily play a man who thinks he’s entitled to any woman he fancies, regardless whether they return the affection or not. (It doesn’t hurt that he had previously played another Austen cad.)

Stephen Dillane as Sir Thomas Bertram

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Dillane has done his fair share of authoritative roles (Game of Thrones comes to mind) and often times they’re not that sympathetic. With Sir Thomas, Dillane could continue that role and have the chance to become kinder towards the end (particularly after a “my God, what have I done?” moment).

Natalie Dormer as Maria Bertram


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Okay, last Game of Thrones actor, I promise. Anyway, Dormer could easily play a woman who’s arrogant and thinks she’s entitled to anything (or anyone) that catches her eye. (It would certainly be satisfying to see her comeuppance towards the end.)

Emily Blunt as Julia Bertram

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Similarly, Blunt could play a character like Maria albeit in a less vain manner. (At least Julia gets a happier ending than Maria.)

Emma Thompson as Lady Bertram

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There’s just something about seeing Thompson in a role that would have her being lazy and indifferent most of the time that sounds so appealing. After all, she’s played so many prim and proper roles throughout her career. It would be nice to see her to do a role like Lady Bertram.

Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Norris

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Likewise, most of the roles I’ve seen Staunton in had her as the kind matronly figure. Suffice to say, it would be a bit of a shock to see her being absolutely vile to the main character.

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Ruth’s Picks

Jessica Brown Findlay as Fanny Price

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I LOVED Frances O’Connor as Fanny in the 1999 adaptation so it’ll be hard to top her in my mind. I think of Fanny as a strong young woman who keeps to herself a lot as a result of her circumstances. Growing up in her wealthy uncle’s estate, she often gets belittled and degraded, especially by her aunt Norris, but she remains dutiful and patient. She’s gentle but does NOT mean she’s a feeble character. In fact, her strong moral compass and sound mind makes her indispensable to the Bertram family. After seeing Findlay as Lady Sibyl in Downton Abbey (and the unfortunately dreadful Winter’s Tale), I think she’d make a suitable Fanny. She’s effortlessly likable and sweet, but she’s also steadfast in her will, as evident in her refusing Henry Crawford no matter how hard he tries.

Sam Reid as Edmund Bertram

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After seeing the Belle movie twice the last couple of months, I’ve been quite taken with the 27-year-old Aussie-native. In fact, as I watched his character John Davinier in Belle, I knew immediately he’d make a fine Edmund. In the book, Edmund desires to be a clergyman and Davinier was the son of a vicar. Sam Reid is classically handsome but he has a kindness about him, an earnest demeanor that’s perfect for this character. Edmund is Fanny’s only true friend in Mansfield Park, and it’s easy to see why Fanny would fall for him.

Lara Pulver as Mary Crawford

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I LOVE Lara Pulver in BBC Sherlock and Robin Hood. I think she’s absolutely stunning and is the kind of girl that can make any man fall for her. Mary is charming and bewitching, as she practically steals Edmund’s heart. There’s a certain seductive quality about her as well that Lara would be perfect for.

Tom Hardy as Henry Crawford

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Henry is as equally charming as his sister Mary. He’s what you’d describe as a bad boy, perhaps even more so than Willoughby is in Sense & Sensibility. Tom Hardy simply oozes charisma and sex appeal, plus he has that playful quality that would make him quite an irresistible scoundrel. I think Hardy can display a certain sensitivity for the role for when Henry falls for Fanny and he ardently pursues her.

Iain Glen as Sir Thomas Bertram

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I’ve always liked Iain Glen since he played the villain in the first Lara Croft movie. Yes he even out-shined pre-Bond Daniel Craig in that one. Later on he popped up in the later season of BBC Spooks and now he’s in Game of Thrones. There’s a certain gravitas that commands respect which makes him suitable to play a wealthy landowner who’s tough on his children. His authoritarian style drives away his eldest son Tom, and he’s quite harsh to Fanny when she refuses to do what he says. But in the end he realizes the error of his ways and I think Iain can also display vulnerability when the scenes call for it.

Gemma Arterton as Maria Bertram

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Maria is described as vain and pretentious, and she’s a bit of a bully to Fanny. She’s obviously materialistic as she only marries Rushworth for his money. I could see Gemma play this role. She may look like a sweet English rose but there’s an icy quality about her that could work well for the role.

Rose Byrne as Julia Bertram

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Julia is not as mean nor cocky as Maria and deep down she resents her sister for being so over-indulgent. Seems that Rose has been in a lot of American comedies lately, I’m curious to see her in a period drama like this one.

Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Bertram

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I always see Helena being so feisty all the time, I’d like to see her play a rather lethargic character. Lady Bertram is described as neurotic as she’s dependent on her pills and all she does is lounge around in the house doing absolutely nothing. There’s something childlike about this character that I think Helena can pull off with aplomb.

Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Norris

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Having played Mrs. Benett in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, I somehow think it’d be interesting to see her play a mean-spirited character here. I absolutely loathe Mrs. Norris, especially her treatment to Fanny, always reminding her of her *place* in the family in the cruelest way. Blethyn often plays comedic character and sometimes comedic performers often make convincing villains.


Previous Jane Austen Recasting Post:

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Well, those are our picks for the main characters Mansfield Park. Let us know your thoughts and feel free to offer your own picks in the comments!

Five for the Fifth: JUNE 2014 Edition

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

1. Happy June everybody! So Summer Movie Season is officially underway now, starting with one of the biggest blockbusters of the year X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s one of my most anticipated films of 2014 and I’m glad to say I LOVED it! I reviewed it just before I left for holiday, you can read it here in case you missed it.

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Just looking at June, here are some of the films that are coming out this month:

  • The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
  • The Rover (June 13)
  • Jersey Boys (June 20)
  • Snowpiercer (June 27)
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

Now, Keith has given you his take on what to flaunt or flush from the Summer movies. As for me, another highly-anticipated movie out this month would be Snowpiercer! Seriously I’ve blogged about that one since August 2013 and it seems like we in the US are the last to catch this apocalypse thriller after the whole editing debacle (heh, thanks Harvey Weinstein!). I can’t freakin’ wait to finally see it and hopefully the Bong Joon-ho’s original version. They just released a new trailer, see below:

So which June movie(s) are you most anticipating?
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2. Yesterday (June 4) is Angelina Jolie‘s birthday, she’s born the same year as moi. The year has been kind to miss Jolie, she seems to get even better with age, looking even more stunning now than ever.

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I first saw her in Gia (1998), as the tragic 70s supermodel Gia Carangi who died of AIDS at the age of 26. It was such a raw performance from Jolie, and she seemed to have embodied the role so well for a while I feared she might’ve ended up as messed up as the character she portrayed. Thankfully that’s not the case and she seemed to have blossomed since then to become not only a good actress but a philanthropist and humanitarian. Jolie is quite a force to be reckoned with in the industry, I admire her even if I don’t always like her movies. I haven’t seen her directorial efforts yet, but of the movies she’s starred in, I think my favorite would be Beyond Borders, heck I even like her as bad ass Lara Croft & an assassin in Wanted. The absolute worst would be The Tourist as she treated the movie like a fashion photoshoot!

What’s your favorite Angelina Jolie’s film (whether it’s the one she directed or star in)?

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3. I just stumbled upon this new poster and trailer for Song of the Sea and I knew I had to share. It’s from the same filmmakers as The Secret of Kells which I adore. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2010, along with Up (which took home the award), Fantastic Mr Fox, Coraline and The Princess and the Frog.

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Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

Directed by Tomm Moore, the voice cast includes Brendan Gleeson (who was also in The Secret of Kells), Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Pat Shortt.

The trailer is just so gorgeous, the visuals and animation is so unique and fresh, unlike anything done by Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks. I think it’s more akin to Studio Ghibli’s style.  I like the fantastical and ethereal quality of the story, check out the trailer below:

My question is two fold: Have you seen The Secret of Kells? What do you think about this new movie?


4. Quite a few casting news I read the past couple of days, but I’m focusing the ones with actors re-teaming for a new project. At the top of the list is two Brits I love who’s got legions of fans: Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston. Based on this Radiotimes article, the two talented Brits are rumored to star in Journey’s End, based on R.C Sherriff’s 1928 play about a group of officers in the last year of WWI. Cumberbatch is rumored for the role of Captain Stanhope whilst Hiddles could be playing Lieutenant Osborne. I’d love it if the two are collaborating again, as their screen time together is way too short in Spielberg’s War Horse. If this happens, I sure hope there’d be lots of dialog as I can listen to these two for hours!

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Another duo who might be working together again are Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in a 19th century period thriller The Revenant (per FirstShowing) and Mark Wahlberg with Will Ferrell in what looks to be an R-rated comedy, Daddy’s Home (per Deadline). I love Hardy so any casting news with him sounds good to me, he’d probably steal scenes again from Leo like he did in Inception, ahah. As for Wahlberg/Ferrell, well I loved them both in The Other Guys so yeah, that project sounds like it could be fun.

Which two actors do you wish would collaborate again, either for TV or movies?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet.

TCM last night broadcasted something different than their usual fare. Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic of sci-fi/horror, Alien.

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Michael has seen it a half a dozen times but this is one of those movies that seem to retain its impact even with multiple viewings. I saw it on video years ago, but I still remember it being so terrifying. And who could forget THAT stomach-bursting scene with John Hurt?

With that in mind, what was last film, near or far, at home or at the cinema, that caused you to literally toss your popcorn?


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

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

FlixChatter Review: LOCKE

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When I heard the premise of Locke, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a one-man show in a confined environment. I knew it’d take the right actor, a substantially charismatic one, to pull off this role. Obviously the script and direction is just as crucial, and fortunately, those three elements work efficiently for the swift 85-minute running time.

The film is set entirely inside a BMW SUV. Within minutes of Ivan Locke climbing into his car and starts the ignition, we learn that he’s a successful construction manager and a dedicated family man. His wife and kids are waiting for him as an important soccer match is about to go on, one he and his kids have been anticipating for weeks. It also happens to be the eve of an important project, perhaps the biggest in his career, one his boss expects he’d supervise and make sure nothing goes wrong.

Seems that he’s got everything in his life under control… yet a single phone call causes him to drop everything and drive to London. Why? Well, to tell you would rob you of the experience watching this film. With every phone call Locke either make or receives, one by one the reason of his seemingly-rash decision is revealed. Yet there’s nothing impulsive about what Locke does that night, he seems to have a calculated, almost mechanical way of looking at things. It’s as if he sees things in his life, and how he responds to each conflict that arises, the same way he responds to concrete in his daily job.

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It’s quite a fascinating and well-crafted moral drama, one that really puts the audience into the roller-coaster emotional ride that our protagonist goes through. I was completely engrossed in this one man’s endeavor to salvage everything that matters to him, and I mean every single thing, this is a man who doesn’t seem to see the virtue of prioritizing. As I watch this, I kept thinking that something’s got to give, he just simply can’t have it all, try as he might.

Sorry to be so cryptic in this review but I feel that the less you know about the plot the better. So that’s a perfect segue to talk about the performances. Hardy is the only character we see in the film but there are a number of great voice actors such as Ruth Wilson, Olivia Colman and Andrew Scott as the people who interact with Hardy on the phone. I think they all did a splendid job, most of all Hardy himself in a riveting and unforgettable role that just might garner him a slew of kudos come award season.

He’s speaking with a Welsh accent of some kind, channeling Anthony Hopkins at times in his manner of speaking. This is perhaps an actor’s dream to be able to use every bit of his facial expression and communicate emotion simply with their eyes or the smallest gestures, and Hardy definitely has what it takes. There’s a certain warmth about him yet within seconds he can be ruthless and even borderline psychotic. Now, that last part is why I can’t give this film a full score. I won’t say too much about it but let’s just say there are some really weird moments that I feel could’ve been toned down a bit. There’s already a lot going on in such a small time frame that it felt a bit too indulgent.

That said, I applaud Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things) for crafting such a unique cinematic experience. The night cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos (Thor) is striking, he somehow made highway driving look so dramatic and even artistic. Some people might complain that there’s not much action, but that actually what separates this from just another thriller flicks out there. For once it’s nice to see a regular guy at the center of the story, someone relatable that we could imagine ourselves or our friends being in a similar situation. There’s no government conspiracy, terrorist/kidnapping type of crisis he has to deal with. There’s no hero nor villain, just a man grappling with one VERY stressful night of his life. I love films that give me a lot to chew on after I watch it, especially in terms of morality and what is truly the right thing to do in a given situation. Locke definitely gives me that. Highly recommended.

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Have you seen Locke? I’m curious to hear what you think.

Five for the Fifth: APRIL 2014 Edition

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

1. April Fools was just four days ago, man it seems like it was ages ago for Unbreakable_Postersome reason. Some of you caught the prank I pulled that day, and surely the interweb was full of fake news. One of them I read was this article listing three fake news stories we wish were real. One of those fake headlines says that M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable 2 Confirmed for 2015.

Per the article, ‘the studio indicated that the sequel will be set well after the events of the original film, and will follow Willis’ character as he learns more about his powers and the responsibility that comes with them.’ Oh man, if only that were true!! I’ve long been awaiting to see Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles, Unbreakable is my favorite M. Night’s film and one I’d wish to see a follow-up on. It’s been 14 years since its release and I still think it’d be worth revisiting the first truly *dark* superhero film.

Did you read any April Fools fake news you wish were real?
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2. Switching gear to a superhero follow-up that’s been breaking box office record [pardon the pun]. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is poised to be the biggest movie of 2014 so far. According to Box Office Mojo, the Friday take of $37 mil would likely wind up to about $110 -$120 mil final weekend tally. I’m glad it’s doing well as I’ve said in my review it’s my favorite Marvel stand-alone movie yet, though I still have a special fondness for the first film.

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Surely everyone’s going to have a different opinion on this. So, just for the heck of it, how about we rank 10 Marvel Studios movies from 2000, but only those involving character that appear in The Avengers. That means we’re NOT counting the X-Men movies, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, etc. Here they are alphabetically:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  3. Hulk
  4. The Incredible Hulk
  5. Iron Man
  6. Iron Man 2
  7. Iron Man 3
  8. Thor
  9. Thor: The Dark World
  10. The Avengers

So how would you rank these 10 Marvel movies?

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3. Right now I’ll be watching a bunch of indie films at MSPIFF  2014. One of them I sadly have to miss because of a scheduling conflict is Tom Hardy‘s LOCKE.

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A successful construction manager’s life is drastically changed by a series of phone calls while he drives.

Now this film that puts one actor in a confined location, more of a one-man-show for the entire film if we’re to judge from the trailer that I posted here. We’re only seeing Hardy as Ivan Locke as he takes a series of phone calls as he’s driving in a car, but boy is it gripping! I really think that the casting is what make or break this types of films, as that actor would have to be charismatic enough to hold our attention whilst seemingly not much is happening. As I’m a big fan of Hardy, naturally I’m intrigued.

My question is two fold: What do you think of Locke? And which actor would you like to watch in a similar confined setting like this one? 


4. Any casting news involving Chiwetel Ejiofor always makes me smile as I’ve been championing him for some time. Last time he was rumored in Star Wars also made a Five for the Fifth subject, if only that were true! Now as a massive Bond fan, of course this casting news piqued my interest!

ChiwetelEjioforBONDvillain

Seems that lately, or at least since Sam Mendes was on board, the new plan seems to be only to hire Oscar winners/nominees as Bond villain, ahah. In Skyfall we’ve got Oscar winner Javier Bardem, and now, Ejiofor is reportedly the top choice for Bond 24 which is currently in production. I’m definitely stoked if he were cast, though my initial thought was that fellow Black Brit Idris Elba would also make a great choice, given he’s got that devilish charm about him. I’ve never seen Ejiofor’s sinister side on screen before but I’m sure the massively talented actor is more than up for the task! With Ralph Fiennes and Naomi Harris returning, boy this is going to be one heck of a Bond cast. This might be the case where I’d love the villain more than the hero, ahah.

Thoughts on this casting rumor? Who would YOU like to see cast as Bond villain?

5. What a perfect segue to the last topic as we’ve got a former Bond villain in this one. I just backed this Kickstarter project ENEMY OF MAN, starring Sean Bean, Rupert Grint, James D’Arcy, Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance.

EnemyOfManMovie

Enemy of Man is an ambitious feature length retelling of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Macbeth.

This will be the feature directorial debut of actor Vincent Regan. I really like him in TROY and 300, I thought he gave one of the best performances in 300, as well as the most heart-wrenching. Regan is no stranger to Shakespeare, he’s a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare and National theaters. Sean Bean apparently played Macbeth on London West End and this gave him a chance to revisit the character for a larger audience.

All money raised from this campaign will go towards taking the film into pre-production. You can read the details on the Kickstarter link above as well as a preview to the teaser trailer. Below is Sean Bean talking about his involvement in this project:

This looks pretty promising and the talented British actors involved are quite underrated. I hope they’ll meet their goal and get this film made! As of right now, there is only 15 hours left and they still need about $33K to meet their goal.

Whether or not you choose to back it, what do you think of this project and the cast involved?


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

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

Music Break & Scenes Spotlight: Guy Ritchie’s Rocknrolla

RocknrollaBnr

I quite like Guy Ritchie’s frenetic style. Most of his films have a cool vibe and I think his best work is when he tackles the London underworld. His humorous gangster movies always feature a great cast and witty dialog, and Rocknrolla is no different. His movies aren’t for everyone though, I remember dragging some of my friends to see this on the big screen and half of them didn’t dig it. I think some of the conversations are tough to understand without subtitles, that’s why I actually enjoy it more when I rented it later on. I ended up buying the Blu-ray as it’s something I enjoy watching repeatedly… how could I not, it’s set in my favorite European city AND it stars a lot of my favorite actors!

Today happens to be Idris Elba’s 41st Birthday, so I thought I’d highlight the movie I first saw him in.

RocknrollaWildbunch

The Wild Bunch – comprised of three hunky Brits: Idris Elba, Gerry Butler & Tom Hardy – is no doubt my favorite group in the film. All of my favorite scenes have at least one of these guys in them. They have such great chemistry together I feel like I’m actually watching a documentary of Cockney gangsters, ahah. Oh man, I’d LOVE to see a spinoff of just these guys! I think Ritchie originally wrote this film as a trilogy and I remember seeing several interviews where all the cast are on board w/ the idea. Alas, the movie didn’t make enough money to warrant a sequel! Ritchie is quite busy these days with big-budget film, like The Man From U.N.C.L.E I talked about yesterday, well I still hope that one day he’d still revisit this story again in the future… but it has to be with THIS cast! I quite like Toby Kebell in the title role and Mark Strong in this as well.

There’s a certain style to Ritchie’s movies, down to the title sequence which I’ve featured a while back. But really, the music is one of the major highlights here, it’s almost its own character in the movie! From start to finish, the music never fails to entertain and it just adds so much to the tone of the film. The stylish rock ‘n role vibe definitely lives up to its title!

Here are some of my fave songs from the film:



Just for the fun of it, why not check out some of the great scenes with the boys of the Wild Bunch. I’m not usually fond of colorful language but Ritchie’s certainly has a gift for snappy dialogue. And with the right cast, it’s even better! Seriously, I could listen to these three guys talk all day long. The song in the dance scene of Butler and Thandie Newton is Waiting for a Train by Australian band Flash & The Pan.

Dance Scene

Mumbles & One Two – The Talk

Is This a Robbery?

Handsome Bob


Hope you enjoy the soundtrack & clips. What do you think of Rocknrolla and this cast?

TEN Notable Foreign Actors to Watch – Where Are They Now?

I first published this list back in November 2009, and I’ve been wanting to do an update in a while, thanks to the suggestion from Iba @ ILuvCinema.

As I said back then, this kind of list is a matter of opinion/preference, and it’s impossible to please everyone. This one in particular is not meant to be a prediction of ‘the next big thing,’ whatever the heck that means, but more of an indication that these non-American actors have been generating some buzz for current or upcoming flicks, or accolades for their performances as of 2009.

FlixChatter's Top Ten Foreign Actors to Watch

FlixChatter’s Top Ten Foreign Actors to Watch

The criteria was that at the time, these actors were virtually unknown to the average movie-going public (even if they had seen their movies), but are definitely on the radar of cinephiles and movie bloggers alike. To help narrow things down, I kept the age range between 20-40 years old (as of the time I made the list).

Well, so how are they doing now, almost three years later? Take a look below on how each of the talent’s career has taken them:

Tom Hardy, 34

Thanks to Christopher Nolan’s final Batman movie, Tom Hardy’s name has perhaps become a household name by now. Since I made the list, I’ve seen him in three additional films: Inception, Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises. As I said before, I quite like his comic skills in Rocknrolla, but since his roles have showcased his dramatic chops and a penchant for the theatrics for his role of Bane. No, I haven’t seen him in This Means War yet, though I have not ruled that out yet.

What’s Next? He’s currently starring in the prohibition-era thriller Lawless. I look forward to seeing him in the new Mad Max action adventure Fury Road with Charlize Theron.
….

Sam Worthington, 36

Now this is quite unfortunate. Though I was initially keen on the Kiwi actor after Terminator Salvation and Avatar, now I’m actually not as fond of him. Blame the awful Clash of the Titans for that, I guess, and also some dismal reviews for Man On Ledge, which didn’t sound too promising from the start. But no doubt Worthington’s career continues to be on the rise. I mean, heck, he’s now got another franchise besides Avatar as the sequel to ‘Clash‘ was released this past Summer.

What’s Next? He’s signed on for several movies out next year, but the one I’m most curious about is Thunder Run that’s reportedly on pre-production. The Iraq-war thriller about the surprise assault on Baghdad also stars Gerry Butler and Matthew McConaughey.
….

Carey Mulligan, 27

After seeing her fabulous performance in An Education, she wowed me again in Never Let Me Go. I haven’t seen Drive and Shame, but those two movie caught a lot of buzz with critics and moviegoers alike. Seems like the talented Londoner (one of my faves born in the UK capital) is perfectly suited for both indies and more mainstream fares like Wall Street: Money Never Sleep.

What’s Next? Too bad The Great Gatsby‘s been pushed back to next year from this Christmas. I think she’d make a compelling Daisy Buchanan in the tale of tragic romance amidst the lavish world of Jay Gatsby. On a personal front, Carey has also now been married Marcus Mumford, the lead singer of Mumford & Sons band last April.
….

Tobey Kebbell, 30

As I said before, it’s pure coincidence that three actors on this list have been in Rocknrolla! I guess Guy Ritchie’s pretty good at spotting real talents. I’ve since only seen Kebbell in one other film, War Horse, but his scene was easily one of the most memorable. Unlike Hardy though, Kebbell’s career hasn’t really quite taken off. Perhaps because his two films following Rocknrolla (The Conspirator and Prince of Persia) weren’t really well-received nor become box office hits.

What’s Next? His upcoming film The East with Alexander Skarsgård and Brit Marling sounds interesting, but I doubt it’ll be his big break as it’s a low-budget movie. Kebbell is still young though, so there’s still time for his career to hit it off.
….

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 39

Since I just saw a movie with him in the lead role in Endgame, I’m so glad I put him on my list! He had a memorable role in Children of Men and also American Gangster. Even in brief screen time as Keira Knightley’s groom in Love, Actually, it’s hard not to notice the handsome London-born actor (born of Nigerian parents). I wish he had been as prolific as fellow British/African Idris Elba, as both are charismatic and talented actors. As displayed in Endgame, I am convinced Ejiofor can carry a movie as a leading man. He’s obviously very easy on the eyes, but also got that intellectual, sophisticated vibe that’d make him suitable for a variety of roles.

What’s Next? He’s starring with Thandie Newton in a film set around Nigeria’s independence, Half of a Yellow Sun. And hopefully starring in the Steve McQueen’s historical drama Twelve Years A Slave would also boost his career even more.
….

Michael Fassbender, 35

Well I think this Irish-German actor’s career has been on a meteoric rise in the past three years, wouldn’t you say? He nabbed nominations left and right for his performance in Shame, though he was egregiously snubbed by the Academy Award. Since 300, I’ve loved his performance in Centurion, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class and Prometheus. I think it’s safe to say Fassbender has ‘arrived’ in Hollywood, and I’m glad to see him getting more prominent roles.

What’s Next? Fassbender will be collaborating with London-born director Steve McQueen for the third time in Twelve Years A Slave that I’ve mentioned above. He’s also co-starring with Brad Pitt in the Ridley Scott’s drug-trafficking thriller The Counselor set for next year.
……..

Abbie Cornish, 28

I have to admit I haven’t seen Cornish in anything new since Bright Star, apart from watching her in A Good Year with Russell Crowe. She’s obviously VERY talented, and she could perhaps have the career of fellow Aussie actresses like Naomi Watts or Mia Waskikowska, but yet she’s not as well-known. She’s quite in demand though, she’s starring in five new films in the next couple of years.

What’s Next? She’s been cast in the much-beleaguered RoboCop reboot alongside Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) and Gary Oldman. This seems to be the most high profile she’s involved in as the others seem to be small-budget fares.
….

Sharlto Copley, 38

I LOVE his performance in District 9, that’s why he’s on this list. But it seems to be a slow-burn rise for the South African actor, as he hasn’t starred in anything since the A-Team reboot a few years ago. Not sure why that is but perhaps he’s busy working on the District 9 follow-up Elysium with Neill Blomkamp, even though it seems that it’s Matt Damon who’s got the starring role in that movie.

What’s Next? He’s listed on IMDb as having five upcoming projects, including the Sleeping Beauty spin-off Maleficent with Angelina Jolie and the Korean cult favorite Oldboy remake with Spike Lee. Not sure how big his role is in those two films. I do hope he gets another starring role in a sci-fi movie, he certainly has the chops to carry a film.

Gemma Arterton, 26

Now, out of the ten actors I put on the list, Gemma is the only one I wish I hadn’t. I guess I’m just too fond of her. I probably would rather put fellow Brit Hayley Atwell in her place. It’s interesting that she was Sam Worthington’s co-star in Clash of the Titans, whom I initially liked but now I’ve grown cold on. Like Worthington, Arterton is also in quite a high demand, she even played a Bond girl in Quantum of Solace and balancing smaller-budget fares (Tamara Drewe) and blockbusters (Prince of Persia).

What’s Next? You might’ve seen her in the recently-released trailer of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (if not, you can see it here), just one of the four projects she’s got in 2013. None of them I’m really interested in however, that Hansel and Gretel one looks like crap.
….

Ben Whishaw, 31

The UK actor has since been on my radar since his leading role as John Keats in Bright Star and a small role in The International. I’ve been meaning to rent the ensemble-cast Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There in which he portrayed Arthur Rimbaud, but haven’t got around to it. Needless to say, I haven’t seen him in anything since but I’m hoping to see him in two films before year’s end: Cloud Atlas and Bond 23 Skyfall as the new, young and hip Q!

What’s Next? There’s nothing else listed for him in IMDb after Skyfall, but he’s also starring in a BBC four-part miniseries The Hollow Crown (you can read all about it here on Dezzy’s blog) Hopefully this massively talented actor gets a leading role sometime soon!


Honorable mentions:

  • Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, 21, Fifty Dead Men Walking)
  • Rupert Friend (Cheri, The Young Victoria)
  • Idris Elba (Rocknrolla, The Losers, Prometheus)
  • Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, Dorian Gray)
  • Ben Barnes (Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Dorian Gray)

Again, I made this original list three years ago. Now, with hindsight, I would’ve probably swapped a couple from the main list, such as Idris Elba and Rebecca Hall. Especially for Idris, I’m psyched that his career continues to rise now, he deserved it!!


Well, that’s it for the updates folks. Thoughts on any of these actors and/or their projects?

Musings on Hollywood Relentless Miscasting

I read the other day that Tom Hardy was being considered for lead role in the Jack Ryan spinoff Without Remorse, which prompts me to write this piece.

Filmmakers and studio executives tend to cast the wrong actor/actress for a certain role many times. Some times it works out well, but other times, not so much. For this post, I’m going to start out with my rant about Hollywood miscasting and then ask you, dear readers, some questions about casting.

With the upcoming film Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise, many fans of the books have been complaining about how Cruise looks nothing like the character from the books.

Now I’ve never read any of Reacher’s novels, but apparently he’s 6’5 and weighs well over 200lbs. (per stats on author Lee Child’s website), while Mr. Cruise is merely 5’7 and weights maybe 170lbs.? That’s definitely a miscast, but I’m still looking forward to seeing Jack Reacher this Winter. Why you ask? Well Tom Cruise is my favorite actor and I dug the teaser trailer they showed us a few weeks back.

Another book adaptation that’s coming to the big screen is Without Remorse written by Tom Clancy. I used to read a lot of Clancy’s novels and many of them were very good but my absolute favorite is Without Remorse. The book’s about a character named John Kelly who later became sort of a super spy for the CIA named John Clark; it’s basically a prequel. It tells the story of how Kelly became known as Clark, think of it as a Casino Royale type of story, instead of James Bond, it’s John Clark. His character appeared in two films, first he’s played by William Dafoe in Clear and Present Danger and then later in The Sum of all Fears, which was portrayed by Liev Schreiber. None of the actors captured the true essence of the character.

According to some reports, Paramount Pictures is trying to sign Tom Hardy for the John Kelly/Clark role. Now I like Hardy as an actor but he’s totally wrong for this part. Clark is described as lean and stands about 6’0″ to 6’4″ tall. Hardy on the other hand, is about 5’10″ and rather stocky-looking. If Hardy accepts the role then I’m sure he’ll lose some weight and look leaner; but I still don’t believe he fits the character. To me the right actor for the role would be a younger version of Bruce Willis or Clive Owen, these actors are way too old for the role now though; in the book Clark’s in his 30s. The only actor I believe fits the role right now is Michael Fassbender. He’s the right age and of course he looks the part. Back in the mid 1990s, Keanu Reeves was actually cast as Clark and John McTiernan was going to direct. Fortunately the studio that owns the rights to the book went bankrupt and the film never happened. I like McTiernan as the director but Reeves would’ve been a disaster.

This kind of bone-headed decision really tick me off as a fan, I was too young to remember but apparently there was uproar by fans of the comic books when Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman back in the late 80s. My opinion, this was one of the worst castings ever, I like Burton’s two Batman films but Keaton’s no Bruce Wayne/Batman. In fact, I thought Keaton looked kind of silly when he’s in the Batman suit, with his big head and tiny body, he did not look intimating at all. Another awful casting was Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code and Angel and Demons. Hanks a great actor but he’s no Langdon, what a idiotic decision by Ron Howard and Sony Pictures.

Howard again made an awful decision by casting Javier Bardem as Roland in The Dark Tower film adaption of Stephen King’s epic novels. Thankfully the project never took off, Bardem’s a great actor but he would’ve been awful as Roland The Gunslinger. Currently they’re having trouble getting the project green lighted and Russell Crowe is now the front runner for the part of Roland, a better choice but to me the perfect actor to play Roland is Clive Owen. Take a look this drawing of Roland, to me the only actor who fits that photo is Owen. Now I know King said he wrote the part with Clint Eastwood in mind but if you’ve read the 6th book then you know that’s not true, I won’t go into it but I’m still mad about it.

Now here’s my question to you.

Say you’ve written a great script and then you’re lucky enough to have gotten a meeting with executives at one of the big movie studios. They love your script and want to make it into a film. They even agree to let you direct your own script (it’s a dream of mine and many other film maker wannabes out there), so you’re now super excited and can’t wait to get going. But before the executives signed off on the project, they give you a list of actors they want to play the lead. Unfortunately none of the actors fit what you had in mind when you wrote the script. So what would you do? Do you tell the executives that you want a certain actor for the role and risk losing the deal? Or do you suck it up and go with one of the actors they gave you?

I’m going to use myself as an example here, I’m currently finishing up a script and the actor I want to play the lead role is Clive Owen (yes I have a man-crush on Owen), so when I look at the list of actors the executives showed me, Owen isn’t on there. What I would do is tell them I want Clive Owen for this role and not only that, my agent and I have sent the script to his people and that he wants to be in the film for a very cheap price. Of course Owen is not an A-list actor, I think he’s in the C-list category now since he hasn’t starred in any big budgeted films for a while; the studio people will for certain reject him.

So what shall I do? Well it depends, I’ve spent many years writing this script and now I’m finally close to make it into a film; I will have to think hard before agreeing to the deal. Say the list of actors were Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Leo Di Caprio and Will Smith. If I agree to cast one of these actors, I will have the budget that I need to make the film the way I envisioned. If I keep insist on casting Owen then I’ll probably lose the deal with the studio. I could shop the script around and hope one of the smaller studios would bite but I won’t have the big money to spend and I won’t be able to shoot what I wrote in the script. So in the end, I will cave and go with Mr. Cruise as my lead actor.

– post by Ted S.


So what do you think of studio keep mis-casting roles? And would have cast an actor the studio insisted or do you keep your principal and tell the executives to f-off?

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.

THIS JUST IN! John Hillcoat’s ‘Lawless’ Trailer

The first time I heard about this movie was when there’s news circulating about Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy clashing on the set and got into a bar brawl. Now, I don’t really care about what’s really going on between those two, but the movie they’re working on does sound intriguing. Formerly called The Wettest County in the World, which is a bad title but at least not as generic as this new one, is one of those movies I’d watch just for the cast! Besides the two I’ve mentioned, we’ve got Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain!

Now check out the brand new trailer:

Hardy, LaBeouf and Jason Clarke play three brothers who find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. The story is based on the true-life tales of Matt Bondurant’s own grandfather and great-uncles, who were the inspiration of the events in his novel The Wettest County in the World.

Man, that’s a pretty intense trailer! I’m guessing this’ll be a hard R like most of Hillcoat’s previous films, i.e. The Proposition, The Road. The Aussie director seems to have a penchant for the utterly dark and bleak stuff. I do like the setting in the Prohibition era, there’s something so riveting about that period and the true-story aspect of it certainly adds to the intrigue.

I think we can expect some fine performances as well as some really bad ass shoot-outs! Hardy looks like he’d steal the show here, but LaBeouf actually doesn’t look too bad. I think he gets a bad rap after Transformers like R-Patz with Twilight, but I think he’s got potential. The main draw for me are Hardy and Chastain whose career are stratospheric to say the least, as well as the two veterans Oldman and Pearce, the latter is barely recognizable here with that hideous haircut. We’ll see who’ll be chewing the scenery the most between those two.

This movie will be premiering in 2012 Cannes Film Festival this May, and the US release date is set for August 31.


What do you think of this trailer? Will you be watching this one?