FINALLY! I’ve been waiting for this ever since a bunch of sites/blogs announced that the 3.5-minute trailer will be released in theaters. I wish they’d just circulate it online at the same time, alas the bootlegged version hit the web a few days ago but I refused to see it. I’d rather see the full glory of the HD version, without the Thai subtitle that some blogs have embedded.
I’ve been psyched about this James Cameron’s movie for quite a while. I’m probably one of the few people who actually dug the clips they showed on AVATAR Day last August (boy, has it been that long?). Ok so the teaser trailer was rather underwhelming, but the 3-D footage on the big screen truly blew my mind!
In any case, this new trailer definitely invigorates my interest in the movie BIG TIME. It sets up the storyline nicely, as well as reveal a bit more of the characters and the real issues brewing between humans and the Na’vi people they call ‘savages.’ The lead character Jake Sully really came into focus here. The wheelchair-bound marine gets a fresh start and finds that ‘single thing worth fighting for.’ Little did he know it would take place remote from earth, in a distant world called Pandora where he later commiserate with and eventually love. Worthington’s definitely got a screen presence in the vein of fellow Aussie Russell Crowe, no wonder he’s been offered so many high-profile roles including rumors he’d be in the 4th installment of Mad Max, the post-apocalyptic action saga.
The music by Titanic’s composer sounds rather familiar to Gladiator, but you know what, it fits the movie somehow so I’m not going to complain. This is the kind of fantastical, film spectacle escapism I go to the movies to experience. Even with some cliched bits here and there, overall the trailer fills me with a sense of wonder.
What do you think folks? Are you as psyched as I am on this one?
Welcome to FlixChatter’s Classic Flix category debut, featuring this blog’s first ever guest blogger, Vince ‘Rockerdad’ Caro, whose passion and extensive knowledge of the genre never cease to amaze me!
I’m honored to include his in-depth reviews of Hollywood classics and reading ’em definitely inspire me to start watching those flicks and see what I’ve been missing!
Rebecca review by Vince C.
I’ve had many intriguing and enlightening conversations with the venerable RTM concerning our love of motion pictures, Hollywood and it’s history over the decades. While she has kept track of the film world’s current events, I have (in my adult years) remained anachronistic about movies – often stuck with the escapism and simplicity of black & white noir films of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
So, when RTM asked me to write a classic film review, I jumped at the opportunity – in part because she maintains one of the coolest and smartest film blogs in existence but also to reflect on a film that started it all for me. Late one Saturday during my teens, while tuning in to AMC (the original classic movie channel), I came across an old Hitchcock film. Something in its presentation caught my eye and I was hooked. It was the narrator’s voice – and it said:
Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again…
This is how the narrator, played by the excellent Joan Fontaine, opens this classic, haunting noir thriller, Rebecca (1940), based on the Daphne du Maurier book of the same name and directed by Alfred Hitchcock in his first American film. (This is his second treatment of a du Maurier novel – the first being Jamaica Inn in 1936 and later, The Birds in 1963.) The line encompasses the overall feel of the film, a gothic dream, rolling fog and all, with Franz Waxman’s overwhelming crescendos of flutes and strings and George Barnes’ Oscar winning cinematography – setting us up for the drama and suspense to follow.
Fontaine plays the unnamed protagonist in flashback, a timid, shy, orphaned heroine and paid companion to the rich, incorrigible Mrs. Edythe Van Hopper (Florence Bates). While vacationing in France, she comes across a brooding, and mysterious Max de Winter (Laurence Olivier) who seemingly is about to jump off a seaside cliff to his death. After this chance meeting, Maxim courts her to be the next Mrs. de Winter amid Van Hopper’s snide reservations. It is here that Mrs. Van Hopper uses the name Rebecca, Maxim’s beautiful and deceased first wife, to compare and humiliate Maxim’s new bride – adding to her already fragile self-esteem.
Maxim takes her back to Manderley, his large estate in Cornwall. It is here where she meets the intimidating Mrs. Danvers (played by Judith Anderson in her most memorable role), the head housekeeper of the estate. Danvers and her staff are puzzled by the new lady-of-the-house’ lack of self-confidence. Overwhelmed by the scope of her new role, she discovers that Rebecca’s personal artifacts are eerily preserved and untouched by Mrs. Danvers. In a classic scene where Danvers shows Mrs. de Winter Rebecca’s private room, the housekeeper’s dark Machiavellian, motherly (and lesbian) obsession with Rebecca is revealed.
Consumed by forever being in Rebecca’s shadow, everything falls apart during an ill-fated costume ball. Mrs. de Winter, in trying to impress Maxim, is manipulated by Mrs. Danvers into wearing Rebecca’s costume, angering him. Distraught and defeated, Mrs. Danvers convinces Mrs. de Winter she could never take Rebecca’s place and quietly opens a window for her to jump out and end her life. This is however, interrupted by a seaside flair and the announcement that a shipwreck has been discovered – Rebecca’s boat in which she drowned in. A body is found which brings the authorities to question whether it really is Rebecca buried in the family crypt. More clues are revealed about Rebecca, her trysts and infidelities. Did Maxim murder her or did she commit suicide?
The film won Best Picture in 1940 for David Selznick but Hitchcock lost the Best Director award to John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath), the first of many disappointments Hollywood would bestow on the British auteur. Although he would later disown this movie, it is undeniable proof of Hitchcock’s mastery of the suspense genre. While mostly humorless and understated, Rebecca’s atmospheric and dreamy quality is a rewarding and compelling escape into the gothic psychological thriller – 1940 style. Lacking the toughness of characters of Double Indemnity and the sappiness of Capra and Sturges for example, it is overall a contemporary romance or rather an updated Jane Eyre of the late 30s albeit an artfully detached one. Not surprisingly, Fontaine would later play Eyre in the 1944 film version. Maxim’s character is arguably a contemporary Rochester with perhaps a touch of Heathcliff.
Hitchcock did his best to own this movie by using In-Camera Editing, a process where only necessary shots are filmed for a scene – limiting the amount of alternate or excess footage Selznick could get his hands on to interfere with Hitchcock’s final cut. This experience with the Selznick studio prompted Hitchcock to fully control the final edit of his later films and we have Selznick to thank. Kubrick would have a similar epiphany after filming Spartacus with Kirk Douglas. As with Kubrick, Hitchcock proved he could be a big-time Hollywood director and handle big-time budgets with A-list Hollywood actors. It is a shame he never garnered a Best Director Oscar. The Academy tried to make it up by giving him a Lifetime Achievement Award but by then his career was over.
While not his first or best film, Rebecca is a landmark of a prestige that only Selznick’s Hollywood could offer – an elegant, gothic, romantic thriller – a far cry from Selznick’s 4-hour soap opera Gone With The Wind the previous year. It still mystifies some that Hitchcock bears his name on it – it shouldn’t. Any other director would make it too weepy and too melodramatic. Its detached and haunting nature is all Hitch. One of his best (and there are many) – and yes, he even appears in it.
The Clint Eastwood-directed flick tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match.
Morgan Freeman looks just like Mandela it’s uncanny, either the make-up people are amazingly good or they actually used a real photo of the former president himself. Although in the trailer Freeman doesn’t resemble him much, but he’s probably the best choice for the role. Damon once again proves he’s more than a Bond-like action hero. Kudos for attempting to pull off a South African accent, though I can’t understand a darn thing he’s saying.
In the trailer, Mandela keeps chanting the words, ‘I am the captain of my soul.’ Thanks to Yahoo Answers, here’s a brief history where that came from: Invictus was a short poem written by a british poet by the name of William Ernest Henley and was first published in 1875. The word invictus is latin meaning “unconquered” but the poem in itself no one is quite sure the meaning behind it. You can read the poem and its analysis here.
I’m always drawn to an uplifting underdog story, and the fact that it’s based on a true story makes it even more compelling. I’m not too crazy about the trailer personally, I agree with FilmJunk‘s assessment that “Eastwood’s films always seem to walk a thin line between real drama and cheesy sentimentality, and this one looks like it could go either way.” Still, it doesn’t stop some people from declaring this Oscar-worthy. It’s fair I suppose, considering the last sports-themed movie Eastwood did, Million Dollar Baby, collected honors for best picture, best director and best supporting actor nod for Freeman. Let’s see if this will indeed rise above a typical feel-good sports movie.
So, what do you think, folks? Are you excited to see this one?
In its fourth episode, Three Rivers is showing a strong rhythm with the most pulsating episode yet. It starts with an uplifting note of a high-school football game, but of course, as this is a medical drama, we know disaster is lurking around the corner. The bus carrying 40+ students blew a tire, injuring all of the passengers and the driver, most critically except for one lucky student. The hospital suddenly went into ‘code green’ alert mode as the massive casualties began to swarm the facility. This is a well-executed show both in and out of the hospital. It seems like CBS allocated a pretty decent budget to create each episode and it showed.
The Three Rivers blog has a pretty thorough recap/review, so this is just my two-cents on the episode as a whole.
The good: The lead actors have been quite believable as doctors from the start, but this episode definitely proves it even more. Dr. Lee’s got a bit more screen time — always a plus — and his emotional performance in the saving-the-driver’s-life scene was great to watch. His encounter with Dr. Jordan is affecting, and their scenes felt realistic and natural.
I like the one where Lee was watching Rose the bus driver from behind the glass, happy that she’s finally breathing on her own after 20 minutes of CPR, which is something of a miracle. If Dr. Jordan hadn’t demanded for him to continue the CPR, she’d have lost her life. Lee asked her how she knew. She didn’t, the head surgeon said, it was only because there was no other critical patient behind her that she let him keep trying before declaring her death. What a sad reality, but I guess that’s what hospital staff must face day after day. Dr. Lee’s expression when he realized that was priceless. It’s as if he knew how blessed Rose was and that no matter what he did, a lot of it was out of his control. Ironically, when something good did happen, they hardly even had time to savor the moment.
One thing for sure, I have even more appreciation for the organ-transplant aspect of the medical field after watching this show. It’s mind boggling the process of securing an organ. It’s hard enough to find a match for a specific patient, but they still have to account for unforeseen scenarios of actually ‘obtaining’ the organ itself once they have the organ. In a matter of minutes, someone could lose a body part they’ve spent years waiting for, and that devastating reality is at the core of this episode. Brandon, whose wife was pregnant, was in dire need of a heart transplant. He’s already in ECMO treatment, which is a last-resort option for someone with his condition. At best, he could live for up to a week without a new heart. So when Ryan finally got a call from UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) there’s a heart available for Brandon, he was more than excited. But he did something he weren’t supposed to, that is tell a family member of the good news before the actual procurement team is in place to retrieve it. Sure enough, they hit a snag when the donor located 200 miles away turned out to be unstable, which means the procurement team had to get it within 90 minutes. As soon as Andy learned the good news, Dr. Jordan told him he couldn’t leave to get it, and no other surgeon was available. The tension built as Ryan admitted to Andy he’d screwed up by telling Brandon’s wife that he got a heart. For the first time, the usually laid-back Andy chewed him up. I find his character a bit too reserved in this show, so this is definitely a nice change! I’ve enjoyed watching Alex get all riled up in Moonlight, he’d curl his lips and all the veins start protruding from his neck in raging fury. Call me crazy but I find that kind of sexy. I don’t miss the fangs and white eyes though, but I wish I could see more of the passion and brooding sensibilities that Mick possessed.
The bad: Even with such a riveting plot, this show still leaves me wanting more. As I mentioned in the episode 3 review, my biggest complaint about the show is the character development of the main characters. We get even less details about the doctors’ personal lives, overwhelmed by the patients crisis story line. I understand it’s a medical drama, but if I wanted to see the day-to-day “reality” life of a hospital, I could’ve just rented a documentary on the subject. I put a quote on the word reality as I don’t even know how accurate all the facts are as I’m not in the medical profession. But as with any TV show, a certain suspension of disbelief is acceptable, so I’m not even going to go there. What I do want to know by now is what makes each of this doctors tick. What are their passion, their pursuits, personal life crisis, anything beyond their life in the scrubs. I mean, Dr. Lee’s described as a ladies-man, but other than a couple of insinuations, they never actually show us that trait and let us draw our conclusion based on what we see. As for Andy, it’s as if Alex O’Loughlin gets the short end of the stick here when it comes to how his character is written. I find it hard to really connect with this amazingly gifted doctor. Yet I really, really want to, which is nothing short of frustrating. But you know what, I’m going to stop right there because the short preview for next week’s episode just might be the one I’ve been waiting for! How would the normally unflappable doctor would behave when his estranged wife show up? And the racial bit about a patient calling Dr. Lee ‘Yo Yo Ma?’ Intriguing to say the least!
In conclusion, I haven’t given up yet. I just hope I don’t have to repeat the same points again after next week’s episode.
As is often the case when I’m on YouTube, when I was browsing around to find Keira Knightley’s clip for yesterday’s post, I got sidetracked watching other similar clips. She’s just one of a handful of actors who surprisingly has a pretty decent singing voice. So I decided to list 10 of them that I think are particularly noteworthy. Now, I’m not talking about actors who may have some vocal training unrelated to a film role. Emmy Rossum, for example, who played Christine in Phantom of the Opera, she blew me away with her amazing Soprano but apparently she was trained at the NY Metropolitan Opera. I’m also excluding actors who double as singers/musicians, such as Scarlett Johansson, Russell Crowe with his The Ordinary Fear of God band, Keanu Reeves with Dogstar, and others listed here. But these are contemporary actors who blew us away with their singing voice, despite any vocal training prior to their given movie roles. So here goes:
Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman I was totally dazzled by both of them in Moulin Rouge, especially by McGregor’s stunning voice. If he were to record an album one day, I’d definitely be the first to buy it! He’s got such amazing control for a non-singer, even during the high notes. His voice is the reason the movie’s soundtrack remains one of my favorites!
…… Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon
Not only did Joaquin and Reese have to sing all the Johnny Cash songs themselves, they also had to learn how to play the musical instruments from scratch. I thought they sounded really good together, not to mention the amazing chemistry between them. According to the movie’s trivia on IMDb, when Joaquin was learning how to sing and play guitar like Johnny Cash in the months following the start of filming, his voice was too high and the band had to learn how to play Cash’s songs in a higher key. But then just before they started filming, Joaquin’s voice dropped closer to John’s level and the band had to re-learn the songs in their original key.
I guess he is destined for a musical career after all, but I never thought in a million years it’d be rap! I certainly hope he’d come to his senses and return to the acting business.
…… Gwyneth Paltrow I actually never saw Duets, but I heard this song she did with Huey Lewis on the radio and later learned it was indeed her own voice! I thought she sounded far better than actual singers. It’s interesting that she ended up marrying a lead singer of Coldplay. Wonder if she’d ever do a duet with Chris Martin? Nah, I doubt it.
…… Kevin Spacey
We know he’s a great actor, but when I saw him in Beyond the Sea, I thought he could definitely have a musical career if he wanted to. I’m sure the real Bobby Darin (pardon the misspelling earlier) would’ve been proud, though he apparently died before he reached the actor’s age at the time he played him (44). I recently learned Spacey’s a great impersonator as well. He did a bunch of impersonations (Pacino, Brando, Chris Walken, etc.) during Inside the Actor’s Studio interview, and completely nailed every single one of them.
…… Gerard Butler I’ve been listening to Andrew Llyod Webber’s music for as long as I can remember, but the second I heard Gerry sing the Music of the Night, I was done for. He may not have the best vocal chops, but there’s something about the way he sang each song that was so mesmerizing. In fact, I now prefer Gerry’s version of the Phantom songs than that of Michael Crawford’s!
He’s said in many interviews that he took vocal lessons as soon as he was considered (though not yet confirmed) for the role, and continued practicing the songs even during filming Dear Frankie. My favorite part is in the DVD deleted scene when he sang No One Would Listen.
Here’s also a clip from P.S. I Love You where he sang I Love You ‘Til The End. I don’t care what critics say about this film but I LOVE this film, and it’s one of Gerry’s best roles IMO (yes, playing a character also named Gerry no less!)
…… Val Kilmer Most people probably know Kilmer is a good singer from playing Jim Morrison in The Doors. But I first heard him sing in this WWII spy movies parody Top Secret! where he played an American rock and roll singer Nick Rivers. His comic skills and vocals are amazing, he even got the Elvis moves down pat!
…… Kate Winslet Apparently there’s few this multi-talented actress can’t do. Winslet sang this beautiful, melancholic song in Sense & Sensibility, where Col. Brandon first saw and fell in love with her. I thought she sounded really good even without a full orchestra behind her. She also sung in the musical comedy Romance & Cigarettes along with James Gandolfini.
…… Johnny Depp Though he’s been a guitar player in several bands, according to IMDb, Sweeney Todd marked the first time he’d ever publicly sung in his life. This wasn’t Depp’s first musical, but his voice was actually dubbed in Cry Baby. To prepare for Sweeney’s role, he often practiced singing the songs during filming the third Pirates movie.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some important people here. Please do chime in if you think of other actors that belong in this list.
Edit:As of mid January 2010, it turns out that miss Knightley has withdrawn from this project even, and according to AceShowbiz, Carey Mulligan is said to be in the running for the role of Eliza. That’s too bad as she’d have been a terrific choice!
Wow, I must’ve been living under a rock as I had no idea they’re doing a remake of one of my beloved classics. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise, what else are they NOT remaking these days?
The UK Telegraph reported that Keira will re-team with Joe Wright, who has directed her twice before in Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Emma Thompson will pen the script, which is great news indeed given that she won an Oscar for writing the screenplay of my all-time favorite drama, Sense & Sensibility.
On the casting front, apparently Keira has been fighting to get the role that she eventually won. Guess who she’s competing against? I immediately thought it’d be Natalie Portman, who shares her gamine figure, but it’s actually Scarlett Johansson! Huh? I’d never picture her in that role at all. I’m not saying whoever plays Eliza must resemble waif princess Audrey Hepburn, but she should at least look physically believable to portray a destitute, Cockney flower girl. No offense, Scarlett, but you might be better off vying to play Marilyn Monroe if they’re doing her biopic.
I think Keira is a pretty good choice, but the big question for me is whether she’s whimsical enough as Eliza. What I love about Hepburn is that she’s as genial and funny as she is elegantly beautiful, and her comic timing is what makes Eliza so wonderful to watch. I’m also curious if she’d be doing her own singing in the movie, as 90% of Hepburn’s singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon, despite her lengthy preparation for the role. I haven’t heard of Keira’s singing before, but she actually played a singer in the WWII drama based on poet Dylan Thomas, The Edge of Love. Here’s a clip of her singing, she actually doesn’t sound too bad.
What’s questionable however, is the rumor about Daniel Craig as Professor Henry Higgins. Though the 41-year-old Brit is the right age opposite Keira who’s 23 (the age difference between Eliza and Henry is about 20 years old), I don’t know if he’s the right choice for the role. I’d pick someone like Kenneth Branagh or Alan Rickman, even if they’re much older than Keira. Or perhaps even Hugh Jackman or Jason Isaac?
In any case, I definitely hope they do a good job with this version. Wonder if they’d include the horse-race scene where Eliza yells, ‘Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ arse!’ That scene never fails to amuse me!
Hubby’s out on a company event, so it’s been a rather mellow Friday nite. Perfect timing to catch up on Three Rivers that I missed last weekend due to the NFL programming overrun.
I must say I quite enjoyed this episode called Good Intentions. All three story lines of the donor/patient were compelling and touching, I even shed a tear for the first time whilst watching this. The most touching story centers on the Romeo & Juliet heart-transplant patients who’ve been in the hospital for so long, which is where they met and fell in love. Scott (played by a young actor with an uncanny resemblance to Joaquin Phoenix), a bit of a bad boy with a dark past of drug addiction, is quite a contrast to the sweet girl Brenda, but they adore each other. Their stolen time together is quite sweet, and Andy’s pretty much playing chaperon the entire time, but his concern for Scott is genuine.
I’m not going to write a recap of the entire episode, for that you can find it here or on the CBS site. Here’s some of the highlights of the show:
Andy & Scott’s conversation on the hospital roof, after disappearing right before his heart transplant surgery. Scott feels he doesn’t deserve the heart when Brenda is still waiting for hers. Andy shares a bit about his past about how he didn’t have it all together then and almost ended up in jail. He tells Scott that he ought take the heart so he could be there when Brenda get hers.…..
Lee and the young girl whose parents are comatose from carbon monoxide poisoning. Lee and another doctor has given her mother a shot of something that could possible cure her, based on something he found during surgery of her brain-dead husband. Lee stays with the girl as she desperately waits for some positive reaction from her mother. Nice to see the sympathetic side of Lee, and the emotions displayed by both actors are heart-wrenching. I lost my mother when I was about the girl’s age so this scene really resonated with me.…..
Ryan finally muster up the courage to talk to her crush, as he brings her lobster from his assignment in Maine. Turns out she’s Jewish who doesn’t eat bottom-feeder creatures! It’s a cute, comic-relief scene that gives the serious subject matter a nice break.
Dr. Jordan’s scenes with the workaholic lawyer Karen who threatens to sue the head surgeon for making a decision to save her uterus, which prolongs her recovery time. Alfre Wooddard is such a fantastic actress that she definitely elevates the show with her heartfelt performance.
This is by far the best episode of the three I’ve watched so far. The plots are engaging, with talented supporting actors and genuine, relatable scenarios. Well … I wish I could just end there and just say there’s nothing wrong with the show whatsoever, but I feel that I have to be fair despite my initial excitement for the show.
My friend called me right after I watched this episode and we ended up talking about it. We both liked it a lot, in fact, she said she almost always cried watching Three Rivers (which is a compliment to any drama), and this one was no different. We liked the same parts about the show too, but interestingly, though we both thought Alex looked particularly good here, we also agree that his acting was probably the weakest. Sorry Alex fans, but you know what, I like the guy too, I mean he is the reason I tuned as I was a Moonlight regular. My friend and I kept calling him ‘Mick’ every time we talked about the show and I had to remind both of us there is no more ‘Mick the vampire’ anymore! But the thing is, his expressions doesn’t change very much from his vampire detective days: same melancholic, thoughtful glance, gestures, and winsome smile. I guess there’s no surprise we still call him Mick =) Now, this isn’t so much a criticism, just an observation. He’s certainly still very, very easy on the eyes, just don’t ask me to say his Dr. Yablonski is a compelling character. This makes me wonder, if Sophia Myles hadn’t been Beth to Alex’s Mick, would Moonlight be as enjoyable?
Oh, that brings me to another ‘weakness’ of Three Rivers. There’s little character developments, especially concerning Alex’s who is the lead role, that makes me look forward to the next show, eager to see what unfolds. I’m going to use Moonlight again in relation to Alex, where each episode reveals just a bit more progress between Mick and Beth. Of course there are going to be scenarios where we’re introduced to guest roles, but at the core, it’s the recurring cast and what’s going on with them that make me want to tune in. It’s that ‘addictive’ factor that I find lacking with this medical drama. Though the patient stories are affecting, there’s got to be something, anything that would make me care about the doctors as much as the patients. In this episode for example, Scott the young Romeo practically overshadows Mick … er Andy’s character every time the two share a scene together. That’s because I know more about the kid than the lead character, even within just a few minutes. The intro scene when one of Andy’s rugby playmates wanted to pick a fight with him was promising, I thought, hmmm, perhaps I’d learn something more about Andy’s past. But there’s no follow-up to that story, which makes the whole thing kind of irrelevant and pointless.
Perhaps I’m being picky, but I guess I need more than just watching these unbelievably good-looking doctors playing ‘saviors’ day after day. People with ‘issues’ are always more interesting to watch. Based on what I read, Andy’s supposed to have some shadowy past I’m eager to uncover. I just wish CBS doesn’t wait too long to reveal before I lose interest in the show entirely.