Poster of the Week: X-Men: First Class featuring Magneto & Xavier

Now that Oscar is over and done with (well with some tittle tattle left over it seems), I for one am looking forward to upcoming movies! I better finish my list of anticipated list soon as March is here already, man where did the time go??

Anyhow, if you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you’d know X-Men: First Class would be at the top of my anticipated list. And since in my fantasy world I sort of ‘own’ the movie, it is my duty to promote this movie, right? 😀 It certainly is hard to keep my excitement in check for this one and these two brand-spankin’ new international character posters certainly ain’t doin’ the trick.

The trailer has been focusing on the origin story of the two main X-Men characters, making sure people are aware that these are a prequel to the Bryan Singer’s series, NOT a reboot. Obviously with Singer being the exec-producer and all, I’m sure Matthew Vaughn intends to tie this one to the first two X-Men films, which were well, first class before Brett Ratner came into the picture! Well, that marketing focus has now carried over to the posters. I’m guessing these are the first of more character posters to come.

I like the contrast between the night and day of the setting, emphasizing the dark vs. light struggle between these former best friends. The reflection on the water is kind of a nice touch, but mainly it’s just awesome to see James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender portraying them!

Anyway, if you haven’t already, check out the trailer and additional photos released earlier this year.

What do you think of these posters, folks? Do you generally like character posters, if so, what were your favorites from past movies?

Musings on the 2011 Oscars… glad award season is over!

Finally it’s here… the Oscars! But I’m more excited for the fact it’s the end of award season, so we can just all move on!!

Ok, I got to admit I was quite blase about this year’s Oscar hosts, but you know what, both of them seem affable enough and the opening of them being inserted in various Best Picture nominees is actually pretty funny. That one where Anne Hathaway was quacking like a chicken in Black Swan was a hoot, but nothing compared to James Franco in that white ballet outfit, LMAO!

Lovin’ the Gone with The Wind stills and music up enveloping the entire stage… oh how I adore that film.

Now, am I the only one cringing at Kirk Douglas warbling all over, I mean, sure he’s a legend and all but it’s really hard to watch. My husband’s friend’s kid said on Facebook, ‘Is he ready to live with Jesus?’ Yikes! And he kept going on and on too, oh dear!

Melissa Leo wins Best Supporting Actress! She looked the most tense as the camera keeps panning to all the nominees. Y’know I’m glad she wins, I was rooting for her initially, but what’s with the foul language in the acceptance speech? Not classy, not classy at all.

Justin Timberlake is kinda growing on me (well not literally obviously), he seems at ease with himself, and confidence is great in a man. That Banksy joke was funny… I wonder if the graffiti artist were amongst the audience??

Lots of smugness in the Best Screenplay segment… first the presenter, Josh Brolin just always strikes me as so darn smug… and the award for Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Aaron Sorkin. So yeah, he probably deserves it, but really, smug just ain’t cool. He said something about Fincher not having to be such a nice guy as he’s so talented, now apparently he thinks if you’re talented you should be a jerk. Whateva.

Glad to see David Seidler (winning for Best Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech) is much more gracious, and boy he’s clearly a writer, that’s one fine acceptance speech.

Love dame Helen in her perfect-sounding French accent … too bad there’s that Russell Brand bloke next to her.

YAY for Christian Bale!! This is probably the one category I’d have strong emotional reaction to. I mean, I’d probably be moping around all week if Jeremy Renner wins, but glad that the one I truly want and deserve to win, finally does! Congrats Christian Bale, love you man! And your emotional yet funny speech was truly moving, love that he was giving tribute to his wife with teary eyed. So there is definitely a romantic bone in his body, now why can’t he do more romance??

Anne Hathaway is no Billy Crystal, but she’s actually doing pretty good so far. She’s got a nice voice, too, but I found his jab at Hugh Jackman kind of pointless and devoid of laughter. I give her points for at least trying to appear jubilant and at least excited to be hosting, it’s as if she were making up for Franco’s sleepy/bored/stoned/why-the-heck-did-I-sign-up-for-this-gig expression throughout, even the Marilyn Monroe drag-queen getup seemed forced.

Trent Reznor won Best Score for The Social Network. That’s actually the part of the movie I don’t remember much about… I was pulling for Alexandre Desplat for The King’s Speech… but then again , that’s more my kind of music. Well, methinks it’ll all come down between these two movies.

Glad for Randy Newman winning his second award out of his 20th Oscar nomination, I mean who doesn’t love that Toy Story 3 song? Wow, I had no idea he’s the Susan Lucci of the Oscars. I’d say he ought to have won at least half of all those noms.

Oprah?? Meh.

But at least the presence of two fine gentlemen Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, aka Holmes and Watson were great eye candy 😀

Tom Hooper won Best Director!! WOW, I LOVE The King’s Speech but I seriously thought the Oscar would’ve gone to David Fincher! But at the same time, I’m not gonna be a Hooper Hater considering how I love that movie! And his acceptance speech and tribute to his mom was gracious.

Ok now, James Franco is definitely high tonight right? I mean, he’s never quite able to wipe out that stoned look out of his face. He seemed to perk up as the event concluded though, so maybe he was just bored stiff like the rest of the audience and viewers?? 😀 Now, I hope they get somebody else for next year’s hosting gig though. I like my friend Sam from Banana Oil Movies‘ idea of RDJ and Jude Law hosting next year, now that’d be awesome! I wouldn’t mind Kevin Spacey as well, he seems at ease with himself and he’s a decent singer, too.

Now, the Best Actress and Best Actor awards are pretty much the most predictable award of an already predictable year. Congrats Natalie Portman… she even thanked Luc Besson for giving her her first ever role in The Professional (aka Leon), definitely one of her best performances ever IMO.

Lovely Sandra Bullock presents Best Actor award in her lovely red dress. Living well is the best revenge I’d say… she couldn’t look more radiant and gorgeous tonight. She said ‘Hola’ to Javier Bardem which I thought was cute… and LOL at that jab at second-time-nominee-in-a-row Jeff Bridges to share his Oscar winning. Ok now, Jesse, not everyday an Oscar nom comes your way, could you at least smile or show some kind of emotion, boyo?? I mean, even Joel Coen had a hint of a smile when the camera was on Hailee Steinfeld, who looks so darn adorable by the way.

Anyhoo… no need for drum roll for this one…

Colin Firth wins again! Yeah, I’d  be hard pressed finding someone NOT betting on him tonight. Now that’s acting for you, trying to act surprised to hear his name called… but Colin is such a classy guy and his acceptance speech always comes across so genuine and charming. True Brit, someone tweeted. I concur!

LOVE that Jurassic Park score accompanying Steven Spielberg to introduce Best Picture award… ok yeah, finally the show is coming to an end.

So the final winner is… The King’s Speech! Lots of people are bummed out by it, it was fun seeing all the rants and anger-spewing tweets on the Best Picture reaction. Seriously people, this is all subjective anyway, if you think Movie A was the BEST thing ever, then the fact that it didn’t win shouldn’t alter your opinion. I certainly didn’t think last year’s Best Picture was any better after it won an Oscar. In any case, it does feel nice the fact that the film that I did enjoy won this year. So the King reigns indeed!

So, how did my Oscar predictions from last Friday fare?
Well, I got five out of seven of my predictions right. I really thought David Fincher is gonna win for Best Director, whilst Best Picture goes to The King’s Speech. Oh well, that was that. Here is the full list of winners:

The winners

Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland

Cinematography: Inception

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo for The Fighter

Best Animated Short Film: The Lost Thing

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Best Foreign Language Film: Susanne Bier, In a Better World

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Original Score: Trent Reznor, The Social Network

Best Sound Mixing: Inception

Best Sound Editing: Inception

Best Makeup: The Wolfman

Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland

Best Documentary Short: Strangers No More

Best Short Live Action: God of Love

Best Visual Effects: Inception

Best Film Editing: The Social Network

Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

and finally…

The Best Picture Oscar winner of 2011 is… The King’s Speech

So… did you watch the Oscars? What do you think is the best/worst part of the show?

Everybody’s chattin’ about Oscar — so who will bring home the gold naked statuettes?

The climax to 2011 award season is upon us. The 83rd annual Academy Awards, will air live this Sunday, Feb. 27, at 8 p.m. ET. All the stars are busy getting their frocks/tux ready, every inch of their body from head to toe polished, and make sure every single line on their faces all Botox-ed up. Not only the stars are all dolled up. Apparently it’s time for a new red carpet this year for the Kodak Theater this year (the carpet is changed every other year), all 500 ft of that red nylon carpet has been treated just so to make sure the stars don’t trip on them or that the dye don’t rub off on the stars’ shoes (oh no, they can’t have that happen to their precious Louboutins!)

Boy am I glad I get to just sit back and relax in the comfort of my basement watching the glitz and hullabaloo unfolds. In my second year of being a movie blogger, I have been paying more attention to the movies nominated and thus it’s almost a requisite that I watch the Oscars. I always thought the telecast generally are quite ho-hum, but hopefully this year, it has at least a potential to be less predictable. I mean, just having two of Hollywood young royalties James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be interesting to watch. Neither are strangers to the Academy, Franco is among this year’s noms and Hathaway was nominated in 2008 for Rachel Getting Married, and both certainly have screen presence. Franco is probably the one I’m most curious about as he’s known to be quite candid and admirably non-chalant about stuff. According to THR, he apparently scoff at Ricky Gervais’ suggested monologue for him, saying “He did his award show and he bombed. Why is he trying to get in on ours?” Atta boy!

There’s also the big question on everyone’s mind: Will Banksy show up?? For those unfamiliar with the bloke, he’s the elusive British underground graffiti artist whose debut film Exit Through the Gift Shop is up for Best Documentary Oscar. Not sure if he would since apparently the Academy refused to let him attend in disguise for fear of impostors gatecrashing the ceremony (per Guardian)

Anyhoo, less than 72 hours to go, I thought I’d chime in on my winner predictions and who I’m rooting for. Below is a list of all the nominees with the bold red one as my predicted winners. Here goes:

Best Picture Oscar Prediction:

  1. 127 Hours
  2. Black Swan
  3. Inception
  4. The Kids Are All Right
  5. Toy Story 3
  6. The Social Network
  7. The King’s Speech
  8. The Fighter
  9. True Grit
  10. Winter’s Bone

Comments: I think the Best Picture award will come down the two movies: The King’s Speech and The Social Network. One represents convention and tradition while the other is as contemporary as they come. While ‘defining’ a generation is perhaps a bit hyperbolic, it certainly represents how this generation communicate and function in today’s world. You’ve perhaps read my battle argument in Ross vs Ross’ Fight Club article, so you know I’m rooting for the monarch movie. At the same time, I won’t cry foul if The Social Network wins.

Best Director Oscar Predictions

  • Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
  • Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
  • David Fincher, The Social Network
  • Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
  • David O. Russell, The Fighter

Comments: Though Hooper did a wonderful job with The King’s Speech, I’m actually not rooting for him to win this. Fincher’s done a lot of great movies, and managed to make a film about an uncharismatic individual and a social utility web site I hardly use surprisingly engaging and even suspenseful! My gut says this is Fincher’s year.

Best Actor Oscar Predictions

  • Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
  • James Franco, 127 Hours
  • Jeff Bridges, True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • Javier Bardem, Biutiful

Comments: This is the least predictable of this year’s noms. I’d be VERY surprised if Firth didn’t win. Not to discredit the others’ performances, but Firth really was a revelation as the stuttering monarch, though lots of people would argue that his performance in A Single Man was even more deserving to win. Thus I think he’ll be pulling a Russell Crowe (who won for Gladiator but should’ve won for The Insider the year before) and finally take home the naked gold statue. Oh, guess what, Burger King has asked Firth to design his own burger! (Thanks for the tip John) Apparently the Brit admitted to being a fan of the tasty snack, whaddayaknow!

Best Actress Oscar Predictions

  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Comments: Though I haven’t seen her performance, I’ve read enough about all the buzz on Portman to make the call. Plus, hearing Darren Aronofsky’s acceptance speech on her behalf at BAFTA makes me go ‘wow,’ she must have done a tremendous job!

Best Supporting Actor Oscar Predictions

  • Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Comments: I’ve always on Bale’s corner from the start, I mean he’s been passed over so many times it’s not even funny! In fact, the reason I’m excited for the Oscar this year is because finally the Academy wise up and recognize his performance. I’d say anyone else but him winning would be an upset (especially Renner!), though I can’t deny how tremendous and highly affable Geoffrey Rush was as Lionel Logue. But he’s got his Oscar and has been nominated numerous times, so this ought to be Bale’s year.

Best Supporting Actress Oscar Predictions

  • Amy Adams, The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
  • Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  • Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  • Jackie Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Comments: Steinfeld is the ‘upset’ potential people are talking about this year, that is if this year’s youngest nominee, 14-year old Hailee will indeed win for Best Supporting Actress. To me, age shouldn’t be a factor if the performance merits it and in her case, it does. It’s amazing to watch her carry the Coen’s western and holds her own against Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. So even though in my first Oscar reaction I was rooting for Melissa and Helena, I have a feeling the Academy might side w/ Hailee. If she did, she won’t be the youngest ever to win, Tatum O’Neal was merely 10 years old when she won in 1973 and Anna Paquin was 11 when she won 20 years later (per Wiki)

Best Animated Feature Oscar Predictions

  • How To Train Your Dragon, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
  • The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet
  • Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich

Comments: This is such a no-brainer! I mean, if this is good enough to be nominated in the overall Best Picture then it automatically implies it’s the best among any other animated movies that are nominated, duh! I haven’t seen The Illusionist yet, but I adore Dragon, but I think the Pixar flick is nothing less of a masterpiece that deserves to take top honors.

Well, that’s all the categories I’m taking a stab at predicting. Now, who else caught Oscar fever this week?

Click image to check out facts about the golden statuette
  • Well, before you do anything, if you haven’t done it already, vote for your favorite to win @ The Best Picture Fight Club over at Metro UK site
  • Mad Hatter over @ Dark of the Matinee and Andrew @ Encore Entertainment have been dissecting the Oscar noms for the past few weeks
  • Univarn @ Life in Equinox picks his top ten best from last year, see how his list fares w/ the Academy’s
  • ScarletSp1der shared some interesting facts about the Oscars and teamed up with his friend Andrew in predicting the winners
  • Castor and the gang @ Anomalous Material posted their final look at who to expect to see up on stage this coming Sunday
  • Sam @ Banana Oil Movies weighs in on award season and her predictions of the Oscars
  • Luke @ Cynicritics also has his predictions on who he thinks will win
  • Not everyone’s into this whole award stuff obviously, Richard @ Celluloid Zombie lists five things why  the Oscars leave him cold
  • And finally, Andy at Fandango Groovers asks ‘What’s the point of the Oscars?

Will you be watching this Sunday? Well, feel free to share your own thoughts and predictions about the Oscars.

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: Certified Copy

Happy Thursday, everyone! I was going to post my Oscar predictions but that’d have to wait until tomorrow. I realize I haven’t done a trailer post in a while, I guess consistency isn’t my strong suit, eh?

Anyhoo, when I saw the poster for this, I was immediately drawn to it. Fittingly, the trailer also drew me in to the enchanting yet unpredictable love story starring the lovely Juliette Binoche. It kind of reminds me a bit of Cairo Time in that the tentative romance is set in a place foreign to one of the film’s protagonists.

The premise is simple enough: In Tuscany to promote his latest book, a middle-aged English writer meets a French art dealer who leads him to the village of Lucignano. In the role of the English writer is William Shimell, who’s actually an Opera singer in his feature film debut. According to his IMG Artist’s bio, Shimell is ‘… one of Britain’s most accomplished operatic baritones. Since beginning his career in the United Kingdom he has earned an international reputation and has sung in the world’s leading opera houses.’ At first I thought he was the American actor David Strathrain (Good Night, Good Luck), he looks just like him!

The film is directed by Iranian writer/director Abbas Kiarostami, and it premiered at Cannes last year where Binoche won Best Actress award. A few reviewers likened this to the Before Sunrise, but there’s that ‘more than meets the eye’ quality about this love story that makes it all the more intriguing. I like stories that keep you guessing as you watch the events unfold, and sounds like Kiarostami does that here. The gorgeous Tuscany setting is a major plus as well, there’s something so inherently romantic about the Italian town that’ll surely sweep me away.

What do you think, folks? Compelling enough for you to see this film?

Everyone’s a Critic: Reviews of Coriolanus (2011) and Laura (1944)

Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic! Today we’ve got two special reviews from two different genres, one is a Shakespearean modern adaptation, straight from its BERLINALE premiere (thank you Vanessa, you lucky gal!) and the other an Otto Preminger’s acclaimed classic noir (Preminger was nominated for Best Director Oscar for this film). In regards to Coriolanus, you’ve probably read some of the more positive reviews I posted here, but my friend has quite a different impression about it. Anyway, read on:

CORIOLANUS (2011) – Berlinale Film Festival review

– by Vanessa Weinert of TheMovieNess

A modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus, this film is set in the Rome of today. It is not the beautiful Rome that is usually seen in movies, but rather the run down parts of the city where broken houses are plastered with graffiti. Grain is sparse and “the people” are on the streets protesting. Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes, who also directed this film) is supposed to be the hero of this city but he despises the people. After long demonstrations, he is banished from Rome and finds refuge with his mortal enemy (Gerard Butler) who he fought with, almost to the death, only months earlier.

It is not surprising that this is one of the lesser known Shakespeare plays. The story is all about war and politics, not people. It is also difficult to get involved with any of the characters: Coriolanus is extremely unlikable, his wife and son are weak and boring, his mother too dominant and controlling and his mortal enemy becomes his close friend without a moments hesitation. This leaves us with “the people” but they are too easily manipulated to be taken seriously.

The mix of the modern setting and the old language didn’t work for me in this movie. I think a total adaptation would have been better. There is a huge focus on media. Cell phones and cameras are constantly seen in shots which seems unnecessary. We get that it’s not 400 B.C. It also felt strange seeing Coriolanus being banished from Rome because that just wouldn’t happen today.

Usually I think Ralph Fiennes is a terrific actor but apparently he needs and outside perspective and directing himself was a bad idea. He is giving a theater performance which just looks over the top and silly on screen. What we end up with are two hours of rage and arrogance, which gets boring pretty quickly. Butler has a surprisingly small role in this movie. He looks amazing (of course) and doesn’t overact like Fiennes does, but he is also in a constant state of fury. Overall there is just too much rage in this film.

With a cast like this it is pretty difficult to make a bad movie but Fiennes unfortunately managed to do so. As much as I wanted to like Coriolanus, it didn’t grab my attention at all. The only reason why anyone should see this movie is Vanessa Redgrave’s performance as Coriolanus’ mother. She brings some beautiful moments into this otherwise dull movie. I am not surprised that plenty of people left the cinema throughout the screening.

2 out of 5 reels

LAURA (1944)

by Vince Caro

I had recently watched Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island – with Leonardo DiCaprio (playing a federal marshal) as a somewhat cheap imitation of Dana Andrews’ famous role of detective McPherson down to the faux New England accent and authoritarian scowl. But in sharp contrast to Dicaprio, Andrews could look relaxed even in the tensest of moments (with the help of a little hand held game). While Shutter Island is a respectable technicolor homage to 40s film noir, I couldn’t help but go back to Otto Preminger’s classic whodunit in all it’s black and white glory.

Laura is unique in that it starts off with the title character already dead – murdered in her apartment by an unknown intruder. The film opens with David Raksin’s haunting and memorable score and we see our first glimpse of the beautiful Laura Hunt (played by the stunning Gene Tierney) – a vanity portrait as the main credits roll. In classic noir fashion, we hear the narration of Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb in an Oscar-nominated performance) setting the tone – announcing Laura has just been murdered and he feels to be the “only human being left in New York”. Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is investigating the murder with a slight suspicion of everyone within Laura’s circle. This includes fiancée Shelby Carpenter (nicely played by Vincent Price) as the disreputable playboy engaged to Laura.

The film begins to gather steam as Waldo offers McPherson recollections of how he and Laura met. These scenes are shown in vivid but dreamlike flashbacks. We see Laura as a young gentle ad artist, who charms Waldo out of his cruel and arrogant demeanor. In effect, McPherson paints a portrait of Laura in his mind – a beautiful, doe-eyed, naïve girl and begins to fall for her. He obsessively continues the investigation until a bizarre twist turns the whole case upside-down.

Dana Andrews & Vincent Price

In almost Rebecca-like fashion, the charms of the deceased Laura Hunt go way beyond the grave. The difference here is that Preminger leaves nothing to the imagination, instead serving us the picturesque Tierney, who I’m convinced is one of the most beautiful actresses to ever grace the screen. It is Tierney that keeps us involved in the picture and Webb providing its weight and legitimacy with his high-brow, curmudgeon and darkly humorous performance. Andrews is our everyman in this picture – hard-nosed, blue-collar and an outsider, somebody we would hope Laura would fall for in the real world. With that said, DiCaprio’s emulation of McPherson is honorable, but I can’t see Laura Hunt falling for it. Too much color perhaps?

4.5 out of 5 reels

Any thoughts about either or both of these films? Do share ’em below in the comments.

Ross vs Ross’ Best Picture Fight Club is Up – The King Speech Review

Counting down to the Oscar this coming Sunday, and the boys from have gone a little Oscar crazy this week. A couple of weeks ago, Ross McG rounded up nine other bloggers (including his partner in crime Ross McD) for a ten-way Best Picture Oscar battle. Because there are so many movies – and because it will go in the newspaper edition of the Metro in Dublin – the word count is quite restricted. Each battler will have about 75 to 100 words to put their argument across, as well as choose a ‘battle-y’ type quote from your movie to stick at the top of your argument. The movie each guest battler would have to do is drawn out of a hat, and fortunately I got the movie I REALLY enjoy and root for, The King’s Speech!

Check out the Best Picture Fight Club Page and vote for your favorite!

Below is my full review of the film before I narrowed it down to 100 words:

Lionel Logue: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.

King George VI: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Lionel Logue: They’re idiots.
King George VI: They’ve all been knighted.
Lionel Logue: Makes it official then.

The hardest part of this assignment is finding the ‘battle quote’ from this film as there are too many good ones to choose from! I ended up choosing the one I did because it made me laugh so hard in the theater.

This film has swept all kinds of major awards left and right… so seriously, all those award voters can’t possibly be wrong. No, scratch that. They often do. In fact, it’s rare that I actually agree with the ‘best picture’ choice of a given year, but this time I’m glad that I can say ‘I concur!’

This film is so much more than about a king with a debilitating impediment. It’s a ‘buddy’ comedy-drama about two very different people forming an unlikely friendship that change their lives forever. Now, under less-capable hands, this could easily be a run of the mill period drama, but Tom Hooper‘s direction gives this such a fresh and modern feel to it that it won’t feel tedious even if British period drama isn’t your cup of tea.

There are so many things praise-worthy about this film, it seems to have all the ingredients of a first-rate feature. But the two strongest things going for it are the brilliant script that peppers scene after scene with wonderfully-memorable dialog, and the equally-adept actors who deliver them. The entire cast are noteworthy: Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall and Derek Jacobi are all great in their roles, but without a doubt The King’s Speech belongs to Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

The unlikely buddies – Bertie and Lionel

Both Firth and Rush delivered masterful performances on their own right, but combine the two thespians together on screen and it just spells magic. Their scenes together are enchanting to watch from the start, right from the moment they met all the way to the very last scene. Whether they’re getting along swimmingly or swapping sarcastic, even scathing remarks at each other, the chemistry between them always feel right. The therapy scenes are by far the funniest. It’s great to see that humor is not lost on Hooper despite the serious subject matter. In fact, there are plenty of rib-tickling scenes, especially the one that garnered the R-rating from MPAA.

Besides the performances, the gorgeous yet intimate cinematography by Danny Cohen and lush music by Alexandre Desplat are also noteworthy. Everything just works nicely in creating a wonderful and warm atmosphere for the film.

Final thoughts: A film doesn’t have to be dark, brain-twisting or nightmarish to be engaging. The King’s Speech is a warm and poignant film about a king with a story well worth telling. Tom Hooper’s adept direction combined with a brilliant script and masterful acting equals a first-rate feature. Scene after scene is peppered with memorable dialogue and captivating chemistry between the actors, especially Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. It made me laugh and cry throughout, and by the end I really was ready to give a standing ovation.

This is why this is in my top five favorite of 2010 and the one to root for come Oscar night!

Feel free to add your thoughts about the film, and of course, don’t forget to cast your vote!

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Empire of the Sun, Unbreakable

Happy Monday all, and to my American friends, Happy President’s Day! Do you get the day off today? Fortunately I do, which is perfect timing as we just got dumped on more snow again this weekend. Yesterday was practically in blizzard condition right before I went to church around 11 am CST, and the snow kept on falling hard and fast until now. Well, I opt not to do a President-related post like I did last year, but if you haven’t already, here’s my top five memorable movie presidents.

Neeson & January Jones in ‘Unknown’

Well, looks like the weekend belongs to Liam Neeson as his Unknown thriller took the top spot with $21.8 mil (per box office mojo). As I pointed out on Friday, even just looking at the posters it seems as if they’re marketing this as Taken 2, and the mojo article confirmed it. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention to the promos, but article said Neeson’s second full-action vehicle was apparently billed as “Taken” meets “The Bourne Identity.” Did any of you get to see it?

Suffice to say, the snow storm pretty much grounded us to stay indoors. Here are my reviews of the two movies I managed to see:

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Even from such a young age, Christian Bale seems destined for acting greatness. This was his second feature film (the first one was the little-known Mio in the Land of Faraway released in the same year starring Christopher Lee), but you could say this is his first major motion picture, an epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg.

13-year-old Bale shone as Jim, a young English boy in Shanghai whose privileged life is turned upside down when Japan invaded the country during World War II. According to IMDb trivia, Bale was picked for the role of Jim out of more than 4,000 who auditioned and I could see why. Though the film boasts strong performances from John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and Nigel Havers, it’s Bale who carried the film from start to finish. He believably portrayed the physical as well as psychological transformation the boy endured as a result of the war.

The film itself has quite an epic quality to it and looks gorgeous visually. But the center of it all is the story of war through young Jim’s eyes and the toll it took on him and the people around him, both the prisoners and those who hold them captive. One of the most memorable scenes for me was when the aviation-buff young boy sneaked into the Japanese airbase to touch a Japanese Zero fighter plane and as the pilots walked toward him, he stopped and saluted them. It was an emotional scene as for a moment, Jim didn’t see them as the enemy.

This film received six Oscar nominations in 1988, but there should’ve been a seventh one for Bale. I sure hope this year he finally nab the award he’s due more than two decades ago!


Unbreakable (2000)

This is definitely my favorite and arguably the best of M. Night Shyamalan’s work. I had seen this when it was first released on dvd, but upon second viewing, I enjoy and appreciate it a whole lot more. M. Night came up with an original superhero story with a twist, citing the popularity of the comic book medium with on-screen statistics as the film opens. It’s a tale of two men at the opposite end of the spectrum physically: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a football stadium security guard who’s got unbreakable bones, and the other is Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a comic book dealer with a debilitating brittle bone disease.

When Dunn comes out unscathed from a catastrophic train wreck at the beginning of the movie, it’s revealed early to us the viewers that there is something special about Dunn. Throughout the film we’re discovering more and more about him at the same time the lead character learns about himself. The pace is deliberately slow but not tedious, in fact, so few films — especially of the comic book genre — takes the time for character development such as this one that it’s become a lost art. The film boast a restrained and understated performance from both Willis and Jackson (which made me completely forget they had co-stared together in loud and frenetic Die Hard 3!), but each of their composed meeting and conversation packs a punch. The ending is also a rewarding one that is sort of expected but still makes you go ‘whoa!’

This is one of those movies that I admire more for the high concept than the production itself, especially being a superhero movie fan. Of course that is not to say that the movie doesn’t look good, in fact, it boasts a distinctive cinematography and peculiar camera angles that suit the theme nicely. I’m going to borrow the text from a UK college professor Dan North, who sent me his perceptive analysis in the comment section of my news post last year where I talked about a possible Unbreakable sequel: Several shots are taken upside down, partly to show the viewpoint of characters who are themselves upside down, but also to introduce a theme of perspective – his central characters are men who need to adjust their outlook in order to see the codes of predestination working around them. Mr. North’s astute observation on M. Night’s use of ‘patterns and portents’ in his films is spot-on and it definitely is what makes his films unique.

Despite what the critics and moviegoers think of him now, his earlier work and this one specifically makes me think Shyamalan could still make a comeback. Though I can’t dispute Ted’s reasoning why he’s on the hack directors list, I haven’t given up on him just yet. Perhaps he could seek out a collaboration with a visionary filmmaker who can take his original concept to great heights.

Now, back to that Unbreakable sequel, I’m kind of torn about that one. On the one hand, it’d be interesting to see Dunn’s journey now that he’s embraced the nature of who he really is, but on the other, the sequel could potentially be just another superhero film that’d lessen the merit of the original. I don’t know if this movie has a cult-following or not but it seems that everyone I talked to has a positive thing to say about this movie, which is quite a change since this was a critical bomb at the box office.


Anyway, what movie(s) did you end up seeing this weekend? Or if you have any thoughts about either one of these oldies, I’d love to hear it!