Five Notable Ensemble-Cast Movies in the Last Decade

Well, whaddayaknow, Takers, the movie that was never on my radar is the box office winner this weekend. The first time I learned this movie existed was when seemingly the entire movie blogosphere cried foul over how bad their poster were. There’s bad, and then there’s BAD Photoshop job, and this one was beyond dreadful. Ok, so if you’re going to copy and paste Paul Walker’s head onto another person’s body, how hard can it be to find one that fits?? The other two guys next to him don’t fare better either as their necks seem to have been, um, taken? But hey, apparently the ‘takers’ got the last laugh. Maybe all that lousy buzz was helping them after all, y’know, I guess all buzz is a good buzz in Hollywood.

In any case, there’s been quite a few of ensemble-cast movies this Summer: The Losers, A-Team, and of course the mother load of them all: The Expendables. An ensemble cast is a cast in which the principal performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production. Of course, though the lineup alone might entice one to see a given movie, not all ensemble-cast movies are created equal. Sometimes they don’t live up to the cast it’s made up of, no matter how spectacular it is. Case in point: NINE, which is too bad considering the people involved. But it’s nice to see when the cast works more than just getting ‘butts in seats,’ but actually elevate the story. Well, I think these five are good examples of that:

1. Paris je t’aime (2006)
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Natalie Portman, Nick Nolte, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Rufus Sewell, Emily Mortimer, Willem Dafoe, Gena Rowlands

A love letter to the city of love, this film offers an amalgam of love stories from twenty different filmmakers. Its success sets a bunch of copycats (New York, I Love You; Valentine’s Day, etc.), but the concept alone doesn’t make a great movie. Paris, je t’aime still sets the bar high in creating a cohesive piece out of a myriad of unique and sometimes bizarre short stories. I enjoy most of the short stories, but if I have to pick a favorite, I love the Quartier Latin segment with Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazarra, directed by Gerard Depardieu. It tells the story of a married couple on their final night together as they’re about to sign their divorce papers, and they share a bittersweet moment as they reflect back on their relationship.

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Elijah Woods, Sean Bean, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Karl Urban, Miranda Otto, and Christopher Lee.

The cast wasn’t what drew me into this masterpiece epic, in fact, because a lot of them were relatively unknown at the time, I see them as the characters they’re playing, not actors playing a role. And that is the beauty of Peter Jackson’s casting. I can’t imagine anybody else playing the roles of Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, etc. other than the actors in this movie. Each actor seems tailor-made for the role they’re playing that it’s such a seamless experience. It’s amazing the kind of unity a movie of this scale can have, perhaps it helps that the cast members have become a ‘family’ after nearly a decade of filming together.

3. Gosford Park (2001)
Cast: Clive Owen, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Helen Mirren, Emily Watson, Jeremy Northam, Ryan Philippe, Kelly MacDonald, Derek Jacobi

A mostly-British cast always appeals to me, so when I saw the poster for this movie I was hooked! Fortunately, the Robert Altman lives up to amazing cast. Set in the 1930’s, the story takes place in an old fashioned English country house where a family has invited many of their friends up for a weekend shooting party. It’s less about the main premise of murder mystery, but more about the relationship of the characters. What’s going on with the house staff and valets below the stairs are just as dynamic and engrossing as the elite socialites. So even though the pace is slow, the well-written characters and witty dialog keep it entertaining. Andrew at Encore Entertainment wisely regards this as one of his best movie cast in his meme. The casting is indeed flawless!

4. Love Actually (2003)
Cast: Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Rodrigo Santoro, Alan Rickman, Andrew Lincoln, Billy Bob Thornton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

I just saw this one again recently and I must say the casting is just darling for this movie, even if the movie as a whole isn’t exactly a masterpiece. Again, largely British actors make up the cast of eight very different couples dealing with their own love issues that are loosely interwoven with each other. The Christmas theme in London makes it sound like a holiday movie, but the themes of unrequited love, infidelity, second chances, etc. resonate all throughout the year. It’s perhaps one of Hugh Grant’s most charming roles, though my favorite characters are definitely Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman as a couple dealing with temptation and infidelity. When I saw this with my girlfriends, we’re all swooning over the geeky-but-drop-dead-gorgeous Rodrigo Santoro as the object of Laura Linney’s affection. But fans of Mr. Darcy would surely fanning themselves seeing Colin Firth as the lonely widower finding love again after being cheated on. Bill Nighy also provides an amusing comic relief as the outrageous aging rocker.

5. CRASH (2004)
Cast: Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Don Cheadle, Thandie Newton, Ryan Philippe, Jennifer Esposito
This movie won several Best Ensemble Cast awards, and rightly so. They aren’t all big names like in those Ocean’s movies, but the key is finding the right actor for the role and trust them enough to interpret the characters. Paul Haggis did that very well and the result is a fascinating interwoven story that takes place in the course of just 2 days in Los Angeles. Obviously 112 minutes is such a short time frame to tell the story, and it sort of leaves the audience wanting for more. But it’s enough for us to grasp the concept/moral of the story Haggis is trying to say, and the compelling characters are so memorable that their stories linger long after the film ends.


Well folks, I’m sure I’m missing a few here. Let’s hear your favorite ensemble-cast movie(s)!

31-Days Movie Meme: Final Three

Day 27 – Best villain

Now, this is a tricky one, what constitutes ‘best’ villain? Are we grading ’em based on entertainment factor, as they’re naughty but oh so much fun to watch? Now those I’ve covered in this post of charming bad boys. Or the most evil? In which case they get under our skin so much we wish we could forget them (i.e. Schindler’s List’s Amon Goeth, The Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter, Cape Fear‘s Mac Cady, and the baddest of all, the face I wish I could un-see, Regan from The Exorcist).

Well, for this meme, I decided to go with the most amusing: Castor Troy – Face/Off.

This John Woo’s movie is one of my all time guilty pleasures, and Castor Troy is such a juicy role that BOTH of the main leads, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage get to play him. ‘In order to catch him, he must become him‘ – the tag line refers to FBI agent Sean Archer undergoing a risible medical procedure to literally don his nemesis’ face. It’s hard to pick whose of the two portrayal I like best, as both actors did an awesome job and brought some memorable scenes as the deranged, peach-lovin’ villain.
Here he is, played initially by Cage, introduced to the screen with Woo’s signature slo-mo. Flowing long black coat, fancy specs, and those twin golden guns, he’s a bad-ass psychopath who enjoys his jet-setting life, as much as he does destroying those who get in the way.

[SPOILER ALERT!] And one of my favorite scenes is when Travolta’s Troy (wearing Sean Archer’s face) visits the real FBI agent in prison.
Castor Troy: Wooowhee. You good lookin’
[approaches Archer]
Castor Troy: It’s like looking in a mirror, only, not.
As Troy tells him what happened to his colleagues, the only two who knew about the procedure, and the fact that he’s now living at his home with his wife and daughter, the look on Archer’s face is gut-wrenching.He gives a whole new meaning to evil has many faces!

Day 29 – Movie you have watched more than 10 times

This is an easy one. Obviously this is one I wish I’d have with me if I were stranded on a desert island, as I’ve seen this countless time and am still enamored by it. I also listen to its soundtrack in my car, really, there’s few movies I love as much as this one. No doubt you know what movie it is from this collage.

Day 30 – Saddest death scene [spoiler alert, obviously]

As I was thinking about which movie death scene that never failed to move me, these three comes to mind.
  1. Moulin Rouge – Satine dies in Christian’s arms
    This is such a devastating and tear-jerker scene as the scene that preceded it was so jubilant and full of hope as Christian finally gets the girl of his dreams and the bad guy/rival has lost. Alas, his biggest enemy is one he cannot defeat…

  2. The Man in the Iron Mask – D’Artagnan’s death
    D’Artagnan is my favorite character in this movie, as I revealed in details here. He dies in the midst of saving the life of his own son… at the hand of his other son. Ok, so the script isn’t the greatest, but Gabriel Byrne‘s performance was so full of heart that I cried every time I saw that scene. Sadly the very scene has been removed, but this supbar trailer is still online, so I’m afraid that’s all I can show you.

  3. The Lion King – Mufasa’s death
    Again, a father dies in the midst of saving his own son from danger, also at the hand of his own family member. Perhaps one of the most dramatic death scene ever in movies is the form of an animated film. I wince at the scene when Mufasa’s own brother Scar grabs his paws with his sharp claws and Mufasa yelps in pain. And in almost Shakespearean-tragedy fashion, Scar stares down at him and says, ‘Long, live the king.’ before tossing him down to his death.

    I just realized Jeremy Irons is present in the last two death scenes. In The Man in the Iron Mask, he watches his friend D’Artagnan dies and this time he’s the voice behind Mufasa’s malicious brother Scar.


And this concludes the (partial) 31-Days movie meme posts for the month!

On that note, care to share your version on any of today’s meme?

Cool Inception Info Graphic – have you seen it?

Happy Friday all! I for one am glad the weekend’s around the corner. It’s been a tough week at work as I’m buried with piles of work. So pardon me for a lack of real post today, but I do want to share this super cool chart my husband showed my a couple of days ago.

If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know any spoiler, then move away from this page.

It’s part of a contest by Fast Company‘s Co.Design website asking readers to create an infographic explaining Inception. “The movie needed it, given how complex it was,” it said. Well, behold the winner, created by Rick Slusher, a graphic-designer based in New York:

Image courtesy of

You can see the full details, as well as explanation from the artist himself, on this page. I must say I’m very impressed by the elegance and simplicity of the chart, but yet it illustrates the dream-within-a-dream layers concept pretty well. Of course, the fact that the chart suggests that Leo’s character Cobb back to the real world is debatable. When I finished watching, I immediately thought that he must still be in the dream because one, his totem keeps on spinning, and two, his kids are still wearing the same clothes as in the dream.

In any case, the movie’s plot might be purposely inconclusive, but it’s safe to say this infographic is quite brilliant. Don’t you agree?

31-Days Movie Meme Day #24 & 25 — Fave movie quote & Movie I plan on watching

Day 24 – Quote you use most often

Well, I don’t use it too often, but I guess more often than others: “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”

I find that I use a lot of quotes from Gladiator a lot, there so many memorable ones as well as one-liners from that movie! In fact, there should be a meme for “Movies with the most memorable quotes”, and that one ought to be on the list. Obviously the ones uttered by Maximus are the most popular (i.e. “What we do in life… echoes in eternity” and the one on this list), but I LOVE this one by Senator Gracchus, not so much the quote itself, though it’s a good one indeed, but more about of the way Derek Jacobi delivered it. It was just… sublime.

And here are five other memorable movie quotes:

  • Batman Begins
    Alfred Pennyworth:
    Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.
  • Ben-Hur
    Judah Ben-Hur:
    Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
    Esther: Even then.
    Judah Ben-Hur: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.
  • Multiplicity (one of my comedy guilty pleasure!)
    Doug Kinney – clone #3, referring to clone #4: You know how when you make a copy of a copy, it’s not as sharp as… well… the original.

    Jonny Lee Miller & Frances O’Connor
  • Mansfield Park (one of my favorite period dramas!)
    Edmund Bertram [when asked whether he loved Fannie Price]:
    There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.
  • Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
    Professor Henry Jones: I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne. Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky…

    Since it was Sean Connery’s 80th birthday yesterday, I thought it’s fitting to include this awesome scene from that movie in his honor!


Day 25 – A movie you plan on watching (old or new)

Well, in my recent weekly poster post featuring Woody Allen’s new movie, a few people suggested Purple Rose of Cairo. So that’s what I just received in the mail today. Can’t wait to see it!

A few other ones in my Netflix queue are: The Beat that My Heart Skipped, An Education, Spirited Away (another suggestion from the comments section), V for Vendetta (a great thriller my husband and I want to watch again), and West Side Story (a classic I’m ashamed I haven’t watched. So thanks Andrew for the inspiring me to finally rent it because of this meme post!).


Well, let’s hear your favorite movie quote(s). I’m sure everyone has at least one.

Hollywood’s Fantasy Draft: My dream cast

Happy Wednesday all! In lieu of my scheduled posts that I have yet to finish, let me just take the time to share the mega blog-a-thon project I’m currently participating in. It’s a fantastic game from the genius mind of my buddy Castor Troy of Anomalous Material (a fantastic blog btw if you don’t already know) called Hollywood Fantasy Draft.  It’s like Fantasy Football for movie lovers, yay!

So we get to be a producer and we could make any movie we want, with the cast we want, one round at a time. Oooh, the inner casting director in me is jumping for joy and I must say I’ve been quite obsessed with this super addictive game. In fact, I’ve been mulling over the plot for my movie day and night. The genre of my choosing is romantic thriller set in the UK, but that’s all I can say for now, the rest of my pitch shall be revealed Sunday, Sept. 5! I must say I’m quite happy that I got all the cast I needed (I had initially wanted Christian Bale before Castor snatched him, but come to think of it, I think James McAvoy actually is a better fit for my story after all. So here they are:

Round 1

My director pick is Ridley Scott. He’s one of the hardest working directors in Hollywood and is so darn prolific it’s hard to imagine he’s in his 70s! Gladiator is one of my fave movies of all time, so naturally he gains my respect, though sci-fi fans will regard Blade Runner or ALIEN as his crowning achievement. Even with his already stunning resume, looks like there are still more great projects in store for us from this British auteur, just check out his extensive possible project list.

Round 2

My first actor pick is Lee Pace! Haven’t seen the show Pushing Daisy but those who have know he’s a funny guy, but I like him from The Fall and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and this talented, handsome, & versatile guy is grossly underused! Well, I hope to change that. Oh, the fact that he can pulls of a convincing British accent is a major plus!

Round 3

Before someone else snatches her, I better pick my fave actress now: Cate Blanchett. The great Cate is without a doubt one of the best actresses of her generation. She really can play anyone believably (even a different gender, i.e. Bob Dylan in I’m Not There) and always shines brightly even in less stellar movies. Since I’m not sure yet what movie genre I’m doing, at least I know it’ll be a good one with Blanchett in it

Round 4

James McAvoy: “McAvoy is quickly becoming one of my fave Brits with his consistently convincing and affecting performances. His role in Atonement won me over and definitely Oscar worthy, and having just seen The Last Station, I’m even more impressed by his immense talent. He’s also proven he can pull off an American action blockbuster with Wanted, and a romantic lead in Becoming Jane. Doesn’t hurt that he kind of resembles Gerry Butler a little, those eyes, man I guess I’ll always have a thing for the Scots :)”

Round 5

Timothy Dalton: The Shakespearean-trained actor has been away from Hollywood for far too long. One of my favorite seasoned thespian, his screen presence and commanding voice are his signature. Most people know him as the gritty Bond, but he’s done plenty of dramatic roles on stage. As he often steal scenes in supporting roles, I’d love to see him in a leading role with a killer script, a great director and equally-brilliant actors.

Round 6

My next pick is Eva Green. The sultry French actress first came to my attention as my fave Bond girl Vesper Lynd. She’s breathtakingly beautiful but definitely not a bimbo. Her flirtatious banter with Daniel Craig on the train was so seductive without either one of them showing much skin! That’s the kind of love interest I need for my movie. There’s something mysterious about her, something unpredictable, which adds to her allure.

Round 7

Ok, my 7th round pick is Dame Helen Mirren. Is an explanation necessary? I think not. The beautiful 65-year-old is one of the best actresses working today (of any age!) I feel like I’ve been seeing her a lot lately: The Queen, State of Play, The Last Station, RED… and I’m constantly amazed by her performance. She’d be a wonderful addition to my cast and a suitable mother figure to 41-year-old Cate Blanchett.

Round 8

Gerard Butler
I know what you think, predictable casting, huh? But I have a good reason, no REALLY 🙂

If you’ve seen him in BBC miniseries The Jury where he plays a forlorn alcoholic, that’s the type of dramatic performance I’m looking for from him. Besides, as I mentioned here I’ve always wanted top pair GB and Eva Green as a couple, and the fact that he resembles James McAvoy just makes the casting all the more perfect!

Round 9

Daniel Henney
There’s hardly any male heartthrobs of East Asian descent here in Hollywood, but from what I’ve seen so far (Wolverine, CBS canceled show Three Rivers), the Korean-English actor would fill that deficit VERY nicely 🙂 He’d make a fine detective partner to Lee Pace’s character.

I will add a couple of additional cast to play Mirren’s father and Dalton’s late wife: Michael Gambon and Julia Ormond respectively.

Well, what do you think of my picks so far? Would you be interested to see a movie with this kind of cast?

Conspicuous Trailers of the Week: The Romantics, Heartbreaker, Cairo Time

I realize I haven’t had a trailer post in the entire month of August so I’m playing catch up! Well, I like having some sort of a theme and these three trailers are all about romanza … yet each tells a very different love story and of course, not all trailers are created equal.


Over the course of one raucous night at a seaside wedding seven close friends, all members of a tight, eclectic college clique, reconvene to watch two of their own tie the knot. Laura (Katie Holmes) is maid of honor to Lila (Anna Paquin), her golden girl best friend. The two have long rivaled over the groom, Tom (Josh Duhamel). Friendships and alliances are tested and the love triangle comes to a head the night before the wedding, when the drunken friends frolic in the nearby surf and return to shore… without the groom. Based on the heralded novel by producer, novelist, director Galt Niederhoffer, THE ROMANTICS is a Zeitgeist love story and generational comedy that breathes new life into the genre and recaptures the camaraderie of youth.

The cast leave much to be desired for me (well ok, so Elijah Wood isn’t too bad), but despite that tall, hunky-ness going for him, Josh Duhamel doesn’t have much to offer as an actor. But that’s just my opinion, no offense if you think he’s fantastic in er, Win a Date with Thad Hamilton or even Transformers 🙂 Katie Holmes is better than say, Jennifer Aniston, ’cause at least she tries to do something different from time to time (i.e. Thank You for Smoking), but for some reason I just haven’t warmed up to her, yet. The premise does seem interesting though, but the faux-indie vibe of this trailer seems rather forced. I still might check it out on dvd though.



Charming, funny and effortlessly cool, Alex (Duris) is a professional heartbreaker who for a fee can turn any husband, fiance or boyfriend into an ex. Alex has one ironclad rule: He only breaks up couples where the woman is unhappy. His latest job will put that rule to the test. The target is Juliette, a beautiful heiress who is set to marry the man of her dreams. With ten days until the wedding, Alex has been hired by her father to carry out his most daring seduction yet that risks him being caught by his ruthless personal creditors, angry exes, and the beautiful and independent Juliette herself. But worst of all, will he discover to his own cost that when it comes to love, the perfect plan doesn’t exist?

If this had been a Hollywood rom-com, I might not even bother with it. But the fact that it’s in French and set in the city of love is just magnifique! The premise is a formulaic one and obviously predictable, but yet, the delivery is so charming that this is a chick-flick I could get behind. I haven’t seen anything French actor Romain Duris is in yet, but I’ve always wanted to see The Beat That My Heart Skipped and it’s on my Netflix queue now. I think the fact that he’s not the quintessential pretty boy makes it all the more effective, sub him with some perfect-looking Hollywood stud-muffin (I’m looking at you McConaughey!) and it’ll just be awful! Vanessa Paradis (a.k.a Mrs. Johnny Depp) has quite a gift for comedy as well, she’s obviously beautiful but has an earthy glamor about her. Love the Dirty Dancing reference and that George Michael song, again, the delivery doesn’t make ’em look contrived at all. I might suggest this one for our monthly gals movie night when the dvd comes out.



Oscar®-nominee Patricia Clarkson stars as a beautiful American abroad in Egypt, who finds herself enamored by more than the sunswept vistas of Cairo. Juliette (Clarkson), a fashion magazine editor in her 40s, travels to Cairo to meet her husband for a three week vacation. When he is unavoidably delayed, he sends his trusted friend Tareq (Alexander Siddig) to keep her company. As he guides her through the sights, sounds and unique customs of the exotic city, unexpected feelings emerge leading to an awakening of emotion that takes Juliette by surprise.

The first time I saw this poster a few weeks ago, I was smitten! Everything about it just spells lovely, exotic, enchanting… well, the good news is, so is the trailer. Patricia Clarkson is one of those indie darlings who should have more leading roles. She looks radiant in this movie, and her chemistry with the dapper Egyptian man (played by Sudanese-English actor Alexander Siddig) feels real and sweet, and thankfully schmaltzy-free. The movie won Best Canadian Feature Film at Toronto International Film Festival last year. Directed by writer/director/producer Ruba Nadda, it’s said to be her love letter to the city and a sweeping romantic travelogue with the West-meets-East theme of unrequited love. I’m prepared to be swept away indeed!


Well folks, any of these trailer piqued your interest at all?

31 Days Movie Meme Day 20 & 21: Favorite Kiss and Romantic Couple

Another two-fer today, folks, as I’m a bit behind on this 31-days movie meme.

Day 20
Favorite kiss: The train station scene of BBC’s North & South miniseries

Well, as this past Saturday was Richard Armitage’s 39th Birthday, it is fitting to post this very scene, which happens to be one of my favorite movie kiss of all time!

It remains as one of my top 20 favorite scenes and trust me, when you see this movie you’ll understand why. Set in the industrial North in the mid-19th century, the story centers on two characters who couldn’t be more different from each other, Margaret Hale from the South and cotton-mill owner John Thornton. Based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, it’s as romantic and enchanting as they come, definitely topple Pride & Prejudice in my book (sorry Mr. Darcy, but Thornton is my favorite literary romantic hero!). Daniela Denby-Ashe portrayed such a sympathetic heroine miss Hale who finally softens Thornton’s heart. When I watched it for the umpteenth time with my girlfriends, we’re all swooning over the way he looks at her, and the slow, scrumptious kiss framed by the camera so beautifully 🙂 I’ve seen a bazillion romantic period movies, but none had a kiss THIS bewitching!

Day 21
Favorite romantic couple: John Thornton & Margaret Hale, BBC’s North & South

I’ve already listed ten of my all time favorites more than a year ago, as well as my fave unconventionally-romantic movies, but if I have to pick just one, I guess the couple above takes the cake.

A good love story is never contrived or unfaithful, as much as the latter makes for a good drama, it’s not one that usually linger in my mind for long. Slow-burn romance doesn’t get any better than this and trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Well, let’s hear your pick of favorite on-screen kiss and romantic couple!