FlixChatter Origins Project

Happy Friday, everyone!
One of my blog friends Marshall from Marshall and the Movies has recently asked me to be a part of his awesome blog event dubbed “The Origins Project” or how I’d like to call it The Blog Begins 🙂 It’s been great to read about how my fellow bloggers got started and the ups and down of being a blogger, so check out the other entries over at his own terrific movie blog. Thanks for letting me participate, Marshall!

Today’s entry into “The Origins Project” comes from Ruth of “FlixChatter,”who writes one of the classiest blogs out there.  Some complain about WordPress’ boring themes, but I just get this professional vibe from her site design.  Looks aren’t everything, though.  Her content is great too.
  • What movie began your love affair with cinema?
    I’d like to think that movies is in my blood, as my late dad was a screenwriter/director back in the 60s and early 70s in my home country Indonesia. But the credit really should go to my late mom who took me to see Superman when I was a wee girl and I just fell in love with it. She was a movie buff also who would bring home various VHS movies from her vacation abroad, which fueled my early love for cinema.

  • When did you start blogging?
    June 9th, 2009.

  • Why did you start blogging?
    I got an assignment to design a blog for my client, which finally compelled me start my own movie blog, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I actually started jotting down the name I wanted for my blog (luckily FlixChatter was still available at the time!) and what I want to put in it. Seems like I had always been emailing people about all sorts of flicks news/commentary so a blog is the perfect venue to combine my passion for writing and the movies.
  • What has kept you going?
    Well for one, I’ve come to really enjoy blogging. But the biggest motivator to me is getting responses from readers and fellow bloggers alike. My eyes light up every time I see a comment on my post, not much else perks up a blogger’s day quite like it 🙂
  • Has there been a particular person (or people) that has helped you along the way?
    I have to say my friends at work Becky (Prairiegirl) and Mike B. were my supporters from the get go, they had bookmarked my blog when I was still struggling to get barely 50 hits a day. I’ve also learned a ton from fellow movie bloggers who encouraged as well as challenge me to be better every day. My husband’s been a great supporter also, for putting up with the seemingly endless time I spend in front of my laptop! 🙂
  • What’s the best part of being a blogger? The worst?
    Best part? Being a part of a community of people who share a similar passion and making friends along the way. It’s also a great feeling when someone tells you they like a movie you recommend, or seeing your post get quoted or referenced by other sites, it may seem trivial to some, but it’s huge for a wee blogger like me. The worst? Well, the time it consumed! I wish I were a better writer that I could write things, especially reviews, in half the time! Oh, and when you spend so much time writing a post and nobody comments on it 😦
  • Has blogging increased or diminished your passion for movies?
    Definitely increased. The more I write about them, the more I appreciate it more as an art form rather than simply a piece of entertainment. For sure, it has broaden my movie ‘horizon’ if you will, as I learn about certain genres that weren’t on my radar. Of course, there are still movies I simply refuse to watch out of principle, and nothing would ever get me to enjoy horror/slasher flicks.
  • What’s your proudest moment as a blogger?
    Seeing my post(s) referenced (or linked to) by other blogs or professional sites are always thrilling, not to mention being asked to participate on a blog event (so thank you Marshall!).

    IMDb has been kind to me for featuring several of my posts on the HitList section, especially the few times when I hadn’t submitted my posts via the HitList forum. The first time it happened I jumped up and down in my cube and ran over to Mike and Becky to share the good news, I could hardly contain my giddy excitement 🙂 It’s awesome to get recognition from a site that I visit every day, and seeing my blog stat shoots up never fails to add an extra spring in my step.
  • What advice would you give to someone looking to follow their passion?  To someone starting a blog of their own?
    Go for it! It’ll make your life all the richer and more fulfilling because of it. Blogging has certainly make me happier as I get to channel my creativity and passion, and gives me something to look forward to every day. If you’re inclined to start your own blog, write what you love and write from the heart. Be patient when things don’t take off right away, I didn’t let lack of hits/comments stop me from writing the first few months. Eventually people will find you and you’ll watch your blog grow in no time. Oh, and for any blog, content is KING, that’s what keeps me coming back to other blogs!

Poster of the Week: Never Let Me Go

Upon seeing this lovely poster, I just might make a weekly Poster Feature post from now on. There is always a new being released every day and it’s fun to look at them. But every once in a while, a poster catches your breath away, not so much for how it looks—though it’s indeed gorgeous–but for the evocative tone it sets. Where a lot of posters tend to want to jam everything in, not to mention the floating head syndrome that bug the heck out of me, the simplicity of this poster is just striking. It feels blissful and innocent, yet somehow you know there is more to it than meets the eye. The fact that the lower part of the word GO is cut off is like a little clue.

Per Wikipedia, Never Let Me Go is based on a novel by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize (an award Ishiguro had previously won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day), and was named best novel of 2005 by TIME magazine.

The movie stars Carey Mulligan (An Education), Andrew Garfield (the young Brit who’s recently cast as Spiderman), and Keira Knightley, as Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, respectively. The three of them live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart. – description per Filmofilia.

Its trailer’s just been released also, I’ll post that sometime later today here it is below:

I said above that ‘…there’s more than meets the eye’ in the poster, well, the trailer definitely alludes to the fact that this isn’t an ordinary school, the kids aren’t who you think they are, basically, this movie isn’t a typical coming-of-age story at all. Those who’ve read the book or familiar with the story already knew this, but I absolutely had no idea what it was really about until I read Wikipedia and some reviews about the book. Whoa, suffice to say I was flabbergasted. Kudos to Ishiguro and the filmmaker in keeping it so enigmatic and ever so subtle. I guess I should’ve guessed when it’s billed as a sci-fi novel, but nope, didn’t see that one coming.

Yeah, I’m definitely intrigued.

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: Soul Kitchen

I caught a glimpse of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking reality show Master Chef and it inspired me to pick this movie for my weekly trailer post. Soul Kitchen is a German independent ensemble comedy from German-Turkish director Faith Akin.

Here’s a brief description from TIFFreviews.com: From the director of Head-on comes the story of a young restaurant owner Zinos is down on his luck. His girlfriend Nadine has moved to Shanghai, his Soul Kitchen customers are boycotting the new gourmet chef, and he’s having back trouble. Things start looking up when the hip crowd embraces his revamped culinary concept, but that doesn’t mend Zinos’ broken heart. He decides to fly to China for Nadine, leaving the restaurant in the hands of his unreliable ex-con brother Illias.

At the top of the poster, sits the John Lennon quote “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans” in German, and as you can see in the trailer below, it looks like an engaging urban comedy full of quirky people and life’s little eccentricities.

The 37-year-old Akin actually won Special Jury Prize at the Venice Festival last September, and the movie was nominated for the Golden Lion Award. The Huffington Post has much great things to say about the film, “…Soul Kitchen is not a standard Hollywood-type romantic comedy; the story is much grittier, the passions are earthier, and the people are much rougher around the edges.” Kind of what you expect from most foreign films. The reviewer even compared Akin to Hitchcock in terms of how he uses his camera to frame a scene. I’m not familiar with any of the actors, I only notice this guy Moritz Bleibtreu from Munich and Run Lola Run, if you haven’t seen the latter, I highly recommend the excellent thriller.

Soul Kitchen will be screened at this year’s Toronto Film Festival in mid September, but the movie should be available on dvd by the end of August. Speaking of TIFF, the lineup has just been announced recently, so my top-picks post like the one I did last year is forthcoming.

What do you think folks? Any thoughts about this movie?

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!

Yesterday Sandra Bullock turned 46, so happy belated birthday, Sandy!

This has been quite a year for the affable actress, winning an Oscar and losing a marriage in the same year, which is tough enough in and of itself even without a heinous scandal associated with it. Yet, the gorgeous actress continues to carry herself with grace and class through it all. I’ve always liked Sandra, even if I don’t always like her movies, and that’s because in a town where narcissism run amok, she still comes across as a genuinely nice and humble human being

The night before she won her Best Actress Oscar on March 7th, she actually showed up at the Razzie to accept not one, but two Raspberry trophies she ‘earned’ for both Worst Actress and Worst On-Screen Couple for All About Steve. You’ve probably seen the video at the Razzie award where she hauled a wheeled wagon full of the chastised All About Steve dvds and delivered a speech equally gracious as the one she delivered for the real honor! You’ve got to hand it to her for that self-deprecating sense of humor and her ability to laugh at herself.

As my tribute to the lovely actress, here five of my favorite Sandra Bullock movies (in order of release):

  • Speed (1994)
    This is one of the movies Bullock and Keanu Reeves will be remembered for. I love this action flick when it first came out, it was so much fun to watch and both of the leads have a nice chemistry together as they flirt their way through the terrorist scheme of the late Dennis Hopper. I did swoon over Reeves in his hunkiest role, but Sandra is so darn likable as the ordinary hero Annie, it’s no surprise this movie made her a star.
  • The Net (1995)
    This movie is so dated now, and it’s asking a bit much to have us believe that someone as pretty as Bullock is a reclusive geek who has no friends or boyfriend. But if you can just get past that absurd notion, the movie itself is quite enjoyable. Of course having a baddie in the form of the tall, dark & handsome Brit Jeremy Northam can’t hurt 🙂 Sure this movie doesn’t hold up well now, but Bullock’s sincere performance and non-stop action sequences kept me in suspense.
  • While You Are Sleeping
    I’m not a huge rom-com fan, but this one still gets me every time it came on TV. The movie truly hinges on Sandra’s likability factor, but it was so easy to root for her character, even if we don’t agree with everything she does. A train fare collector who’s a hopeless romantic, she has a massive crush on a dashing commuter, and pretends to be his fiance when he was knocked unconscious. With a premise like this, you need a leading actress who can sell it. Sandra definitely passes with flying colors. Heck, she’s able to make even Bill Pullman seems so irresistible! 🙂
  • The Proposal (2009)
    Another rom-com, I know. But this one actually comes pretty highly recommended that I was curious enough to check it out. One thing I notice is Sandra definitely ages well, this is over a decade after Speed and she still maintain that youthful radiance and lithe figure. The movie also benefits from Ryan Reynolds’ casting, an actor equally affable and funny, and though I don’t quite buy the chemistry between the two, it’s still fun to watch the two banter with each other, not to mention the hilarious scenes between her and Betty White!
  • The Blind Side (2009)
    This is one that I’d get flak for even including in my list. Yeah, I know a lot of people are still enraged over her winning Best Actress Oscar, but it’s a given that moviegoers disagree with what the Academy picks. I for one thinks it’s well-deserved, it might not be the best performance of the year, but it was Bullock’s strongest and most nuanced role yet. As I said in my review, the movie works thanks largely to Sandra Bullock’s assertive but guarded performance, and again she comes across very genial and relatable.

Well folks, what are your favorite Sandra Bullock movie(s)?

Weekend Roundup: Flugtag, Ridley Scott’s Filmmaking Contest, Pillars of the Earth Debut

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope y’all had a smashing weekend. Mine ended up being quite hectic that I didn’t get to see The Prestige that I rented again. As I said in my Top Five Nolan flicks post, I’m curious to see if I understand it better the second time around.

  • I had the pleasure of attending the Red Bull Flugtag event on Saturday, a first for the Twin Cities. What’s Flugtag? Well, it means “flying day” in German, but the Red Bull Flugtag is a competition that challenges teams of everyday people to build homemade, human-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight! Well, team Major Trouble and the Dirty Dixies set a world record, as they flew 207 feet, beating the previous record of 195! Woot woot! You can watch the awesome team soared to victory here. Too bad we missed seeing this one as we were stuff in traffic and trying to find parking! But still it was fun to enjoy a day in the sun along with a bazillion people.
  • My friend and blog contributor Ted Saydalavong (who recently gave us Batman Begins & Superman Returns Vision-to-Film posts, the latter happens to be featured on IMDb today!) tipped me a short while ago about this Philips Cinema collaboration with Ridley Scott, called the Tell It Your Way contest. It’s based on the Philips company’s campaign “There are millions of ways to tell a story. There’s only one way to watch one.” What each contestant has to do is create a short film to go along with Philips’ Parallel Lines short films series available on their YouTube Channel. Five very different short films, five different genres, five different directors, but one unifying dialogue. So the challenge is to come up with your own 3-minute version, no matter what storyline, but using the same 6-lines of dialogue provided (i.e. It’s a Unicorn, Never seen one up close before).
    Ted’s one of the aspiring filmmaker hopefuls who’s vying to win the Grand Prize which includes a week’s worth of work experience at Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) in one of their worldwide offices (all expenses paid), as well as one of these magnificent Philips Cinema 21:9 HDTVs. “I’ve decided to enter into this film competition because I wanted to showcase my movie directing abilities, I’m a film fanatic and wanted to tell a good story in 3 minutes. Also, Ridley Scott is one of the judges on this competition and I hope he likes what I created and if I win I get to meet him in person. Scott is one of my favorite film directors, he has such a great visual on all of his films, bad and good ones,” Ted said, “I thought this competition is a great challenge to amateur filmmakers out there, you have lines of dialog to follow but you can tell it in anyway you wish. As a filmmaker wanna be, this is a great opportunity to showcase my talents and I think my team accomplished that with our film.”

    “It’s the competition to find the next Ridley Scott,” says Fame Magazine UK, where three rounds of judging will be held including public voting via YouTube. Ted told me Carl Erik Rinsch’s The Gift, about a futuristic robot butler who flees the police, is his favorite, and I can see why. It’s a gorgeously-shot and meticulously crafted sci-fi short, see it for yourself below:

    It is so impressive in fact, that Warner Bros. and Fox were apparently got into a bidding war in their quest to turn this into a feature film (per HeatVision blog). Though well-known in the commercial world, Risch’s name will soon be known to moviegoers, too, as he’s reportedly working on Keanu Reeves’ samurai film 47 Ronin, and possibly helming the remake of the 1976 Logan’s Run sci-fi adventure-drama next.

    Back to the contest, finalists will be judged on criteria including creative storytelling, use of dialogue, and technical achievement.This sounds like a super fierce competition, but of course with a prize like that, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime! So best of luck to you, Ted!
  • Speaking of sir Ridley, I wish I could watch his epic miniseries Pillars of the Earth, produced by his Scott Free production company. As I said in my previous post on it, the six-part, eight-hour miniseries is based on an International best-seller novel by Ken Follett, which tells a story about building a cathedral set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles in the Middle Ages (you watch the trailer here).
    Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder

    Starz premiered the show over the weekend and it generated pretty good reviews according to MetaCritic. Prairiegirl and my favorite Brit Rufus Sewell was often praised for his performance as Tom Builder, who apparently lives up to his name as a master builder for this massive Cathedral project. This one particular review even said Sewell pretty much stole the show. Well, I don’t expect anything less from the stunningly-handsome and talented actor! The show’s also got a stellar cast that include Ian McShane, Donald Shuterland, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfayden, Tony Curran and Hayley Attwell.

    Those who have cable, the premiere last Friday will be followed by one-hour segments until the two-hour conclusion on August 27. I’ll be sure to rent this once they’re available on dvd and write my review of it then.

Upcoming Flix Spotlight » TRON: Legacy

I wish I could be in San Diego this week, ComicCon sounds like a lot of fun, and it’s increasingly becoming as much for movie lovers as comic book fans. One of the most buzzed about upcoming movie this year is Disney’s Tron: Legacy. I’ve become increasingly intrigued by this movie, and the new trailer just shot my excitement up through the roof. Check it out:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As I said in my previous post, this is the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi film Tron, starring a much younger Jeff Bridges. Instead of a dream world a la Inception, this time much of the movie takes place in a digital world created by Bridges character Kevin Flynn, a former premier video-game developer. Flynn’s been missing for 25 years and his estranged son is pulled into the virtual game world as he searches for him, a mesmerizing cyber universe full of neon lights and shiny objects! LOVE that Lightcycle, forget Batpod, I want one of those! According to the Collider, this movie’s broken a record for being present at the conference three years in a row! But this year’s the first time Con-goers are shown actual footage from the film (the previous two years they were presented with only the 2D and 3D test footage, probably to test people’s interest?). The cast and crew were present in the film’s panel Q&A session, including Joseph Kosinski, producer Sean Bailey, TRON creator Steven Lisberger, and stars Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, and the dude himself, Jeff Bridges! I’ve never heard of Kosinski before, but according to this FastCompany article, sounds like he knows what he’s doing despite his lack of filmmaking experience. He apparently has a master in architecture design from Columbia and also founded a Web-design firm where he created short-films made entirely on the computer.

Kosinski directing his cast on set

As for casting, Bridges actually plays the same role twice, well, kind of. When I saw the trailer, there’s a guy who bears an uncanny resemblance to him but looks half his age of 61, and I wondered who the actor is. Well, guess what, Matt Goldberg at Collider is saying that character is actually CGI, “…I don’t want to jump the gun, but from what I saw today, it looks like they’ve cracked the technology to de-age actors digitally.” THR HeatVision also mentioned about the ‘de-aging’ technology, here’s what Bridges himself thought about it: “One of the things that always bothered me as an actor was when you have to play your self at different ages is that you have an other actor playing you. Now that’s no longer the case. You can play yourself at any age. To be in this groundbreaking movie, where it’s done for the first time, is cool.”

I’m not sure the story will be a compelling one, but visually speaking I’m hooked. I was practically ooh-aah-ing as I’m watching this trailer, like a fly mesmerized by bright lights 😀 Now this is one that’s meant to be seen in 3D come December 17th.

How about you, is this one in your must-see list?

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: The Debt

Seems like every trailer I’ve posted has Helen Mirren in it, the dame is one versatile actress! But this movie’s actually been on my radar for a while, but then the whole Disney vs. Miramax debacle threatened to send this straight to dvd. So I was tickled pink when I saw the trailer and the release date listed on IMDb is August 11 (US release). The trailer looks pretty intense, and so is the plot:

In 1965, three young Israeli Mossad agents on a secret mission capture and kill a notorious Nazi war criminal. Now, thirty years later, a man claiming to be the Nazi has surfaced in the Ukraine and one of the former agents must go back undercover to seek out the truth. (IMDb plot summary)

This has a Munich vibe to it, the Steven Spielberg movie about the aftermath of what’s called Black September of 1972, when 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. Well, that one starred one of my fave actors from Down Under Eric Bana, and now we’ve got another Aussie Sam Worthington in the lead. We’ll see if he can hold his own against thespians like Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds. As I said in my post yesterday, I’d love to see more of his dramatic side. Getthebigpicture.net thinks this is more of a Helen Mirren vehicle though, she plays Rachel Singer, an ex-Mossad agent in charge of tracking down the Nazi war criminal known as The Surgeon of Birkenau, whom everyone thought was dead but suddenly turned up in Ukraine. Jesper Christensen (Mr. White in Casino Royale) plays the hunted criminal, Jessica Chastain (who’s been doing mostly TV work) plays Mirren’s character’s younger self, while the older character of Worthington is played by Hinds. Huh? I don’t see any resemblance at all between these two, but whatever.

The movie is directed by John Madden (Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown; Shakespeare in Love), with Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn (who penned the script for Kick-Ass) as two of the team of writers. I wonder how complex is the story that it needs five writers? Well at least the trailer keeps it under wraps enough and didn’t reveal way too much.

What do you think folks, would you see this one?