Creative Writing Ink: STEPS – a ‘Hearts Want’-related short story

Today I’m taking the time to post something a bit off-the-beaten path from my normal posts, but still movie-related of course. Those of you who’ve been around FC for a while have probably read my first fantasy draft pitch Hearts Want I wrote last September, which is a romantic thriller.

So what’s that got to do with this post? Allow me to explain.

The first time I came across this brilliant writing exercise was at Novroz’s blog and I was impressed by her short story on Alice. It turns out the idea came from Olive of Creative Writing Ink, who posts a picture each week to prompt people to write something based on it, be it a poem, short story, what have you. Well, the ‘steps’ picture she posted on April 18 somehow made me think of that movie concept, particularly the relationship between the main protagonist Spencer Wesford (Timothy Dalton) and his estranged son Jacob (Gerard Butler), the woman mentioned below refers to Spencer’s former lover Olivia (Helen Mirren), whom he had an affair when he was still married to Jacob’s mother.

Spencer instantly got all choked up as he approached the steps to the villa. The harder he tried to conceal his tears, the more he failed miserably… it’s as if someone had broken the floodgates within him and water just kept pouring out. His biggest fear all of sudden came true as Jacob placed his healthy hand on his shoulder, “What’s wrong, dad?”

Spencer leaned on the stone walls, covering his mouth as he’s practically sobbing now. He couldn’t speak, barely even able to stand up straight. He had figured he’d be a bit emotional coming here, but nothing would prepare him to be overcome by it in this way. He recalled the time he brought Olivia here, mostly during the night so she couldn’t track down the exact location. He had missed her, but the fact that his affair was the main cause of their estrangement in the first place wasn’t lost on him.

Jacob had never seen his father this way, never. The 64-year-old had always been a picture of controlled grace, almost severe in his stoicism, perhaps something he had learned in his long years in MI-5 that no amount of retirement years would ever shake it off. But in this surprisingly sunny afternoon, for the first time Jacob saw his father in a different light. It’s kind of ironic that minutes ago it was Jacob who was in a gloomy mood, remarking about how even the bluest sky accompanying their ride from the city could barely make a dent.

Jacob dropped his duffel bag on the ground and reluctantly embraced his father. Reluctant not because he didn’t love him, it’s just that they didn’t quite have that kind of relationship, not since Jacob was a wee lad, and especially not after his mother passed away. Spencer made the most of that slight gesture and held on to Jacob, holding him as tightly as he could with tears still streaming profusely out of him. Jacob was starting to feel a bit of pain on his wounded shoulder, but he didn’t want to say anything. Besides, it couldn’t be anywhere near as painful as what his father must be feeling, he thought.

Spencer finally stopped sobbing and regained his composure, wiping his nose with his jacket sleeve as he broke away from Jacob. “I’m sorry.” His voice was suddenly stern and his gesture seemed to suggest that he’s back in control again, though of course his bloodshot eyes betrayed him. “No need to be sorry… it’s… really ok…” Jacob muttered, he was going to say ‘it happens’ but it didn’t seem appropriate as it actually never happened before. “Grab your bag, we should go inside.” Spencer said, “A lot of things I have to tell you. You have the right to know.”

With those words, the two lanky father and son walked quietly up the steps and into Jacob’s safe house. Perhaps this very place could in fact bring healing to their weary hearts? Spencer could only hope.

The short story would make more sense to you if you’ve read the pitch, which you can access here or by clicking the ‘Hearts Want’ poster on my sidebar.

Well what do you think? I’d really appreciate your feedback… thank you kindly 😀


Misc. News & On-Set Photos of FC’s Anticipated Flix

As I mentioned on yesterday’s post, I was in the middle of working on this post when the Immortals trailer hit. But even within a day, there’s always new movie news to share, so read on below and hope you learn something you didn’t know before you come over here 😀

    • Firstly, I’m so excited that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, one of my anticipated movies of this year is going to open Venice Film Festival! Here’s a quote from the film’s producer Doug Urbanski via Playlist: “We’re in post-production. We’ve been invited to open the Venice Film Festival. We’ll be releasing in the U.K. probably in September. Then we’ll probably release in America in October or November… All of these things will be decided in the next two weeks but I would think that we have a very serious Oscar contender for next year.” Considering the cast that’s comprised of Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, and John Hurt, I think the Oscar buzz is totally understandable. The film is said to open sometime in December and I sure hope Gary Oldman would finally garner a nomination!

      I couldn’t find a photo with a lot of the cast members, but I did see this one of Tom Hardy sporting a blond wig and a bunch of tattoos. (Photos courtesy of JustJared)

    • Speaking of on-set photos, I also found a bunch of photos of Gerry Butler (who co-stared w/ Hardy in Rocknrolla) was also spotted on the set of his upcoming dramedy Playing the Field with Dennis Quaid, along with the female cast who play his ex-wife (Jessica Biel) and the soccer moms who have the hots for him.

      As I mentioned before here, the movie is about a former soccer star with a wild past who tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team, only to find himself tempted by the kids’ restless and gorgeous moms. Y’know, I wasn’t too enthused about it when I first heard it, but now that Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones have joined the cast, I’m really looking forward to this. There hasn’t been a great soccer comedy flick (well, since Bend It Like Beckham), so I hope this movie will change that. Plus GB looks ever so handsome in his soccer uniform 😀  (Photos courtesy of

      Butler w/ Biel | Thurman, Quaid & Zeta-Jones on the set

  • Now this one is fresh from the oven! Variety just reported this morning that the upcoming Superman film now has a villainess to go along with General Zod in fighting their ultimate Kryptonian nemesis. Thirty year-old German actress Antje Traue (Pandorum) has been cast as Superman villainess Faora, which according to the article is believed to have been the inspiration for the character Ursa in Richard Donner’s Superman films. I can kinda see the resemblance between the two, especially their striking but chilly eyes.
    Antje Traue & Sarah Douglas as Ursa

    Looks like the Man of Steel better watch out! Here’s the brief description of the character in that Variety article: Faora Hu-Ul was introduced in Action Comics #471 as a beautiful Kryptonian woman with an intense unexplained hatred for all men. She was an expert at the Kryptonian martial art of Horo-Kanu, which utilizes pressure points on the Kryptonian body and made her a dangerous foe for Superman to fight in hand-to-hand combat.

  • Last but not least, this is a pretty interesting news and I do hope it’s more than a rumor. Not contend with being one of the most talented actors in the business, Russell Crowe is seriously considering tackling on directing. What’s the movie about? Well, according to Deadline, it’s a period cop drama from L.A. Confidential‘s crime author James Ellroy in which he might also star in.

    The story “… deals with the unsolved murder of an LAPD officer, and the nationally televised shootout in South Central L.A. between the Symbionese Liberation Army and the LAPD, where 50,000 rounds of gunfire were exchanged.” Well, L.A. Confidential is one of my favorite crime dramas, so this definitely piqued my curiosity and if Russell does end up helming the project, I’d be sure to watch it.

Well, that’s the news roundup for this week folks. Any thoughts on any of these news? Feel free to also add any movie news you’ve just heard that you’re excited about.

THIS JUST IN: Immortals Trailer

I was in the midst of writing a news post when this IMMORTALS trailer arrives. It was yanked out for copyright issues earlier today, but now it’s back on. So let’s just get to it, shall we?

Well, considering how many times I’ve blogged about this movie, you probably know I’ve been anticipating this one for ages. The trailer looks stunning, but I guess I’m expecting it to look a lot more unique. After all, the director promises “… Caravaggio meets Fight Club … It’s a really hardcore action film done in Renaissance painting style…” as I mentioned in this post.

Hmmm, I’m not really seeing what he described and its resemblance to 300 in terms colors scheme and even camera angles/movements are so obvious that some movie sites even saying it’s like watching a 300 sequel. Yes I know it’s from the same producers and I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the visuals of the Zack Snyder’s movie, but I’m just expecting Immortals to have its own look as the Indian director is known for a distinctive visual flair as evident in The Fall. It could be just a marketing strategy on the studio part though, given what a smashing success 300 was given its relatively low budget. So hopefully, the actual movie won’t turn out to be too identical to 300, or Zeus forbid, Clash of the Titans! Surely the acting and storytelling style has got to be better than Clash.

So yeah, this one’s still got enough going for it to make a fan of swords & sandals genre like me REALLY want to see this. For one thing, Henry Cavill looks pretty convincing as Theseus, so I’m sold on that front and even more excited to see him as Superman.

Well, what do you think, people? Are you sold on this one?

Guest Post: Musings on Alternate Endings

So after reading Castor’s article ‘great movies … until the third act‘, I thought I should write up an article about alternative ending(s) to some well-known films. Most film fans know that directors or studio people demand a new ending if say, the first test screening didn’t go too well, or maybe the director just didn’t like the original ending from the script. The following films have a completely different ending to the ones released in the theater and these endings can’t be found on deleted scenes on DVD/BD. Some of the endings were actually filmed, but the studio or director decided to cut those scenes out and replace with a new one. Some alternative endings on certain films you can actually see on DVD/BD because the director shot it but decided to cut it from the final film, so those don’t count.

Here are the films with big alternative ending that might have changed the outlook of the film:

The Bourne Identity

Originally the film was going to end in NYC just like the novel, it was supposed to have a big shootout scene in a subway station but because of 9/11 tragedy, they decided to shoot the action scene in Paris instead. In this particular climax scene, Bourne was being ambushed by the CIA assassins and it would’ve have been a big shootout sequence, which involves machine guns, motorcycles and rocket launchers. Universal wasn’t too thrilled that during the shoot, so far the film doesn’t have a big action scene so they wanted to go out with a bang and director Doug Liman agreed. In fact, Universal was going to give him an extra $5 – 10mil to shoot the scene. But then 9/11 happened and the film’s producer Frank Marshall decided it wasn’t such a good idea to include such a violent sequence after the tragedy.

What Marshall didn’t mention was that Matt Damon refused to be involved in that big shootout scene. In an interview, Damon said he didn’t sign up to do a Rambo movie. Liman on other hand, wanted to keep that scene but he relented after he learned Damon won’t do it, obviously you can’t shoot a big action scene without your leading man. So they rewrote the script and shot the small shootout sequence in the apartment building. There’s another alternative opening and ending to this film, it’s available on DVD/BD if you’re interested.

BTW, Liman got his wish on his next film Mr. & Mrs. Smith, if you remember that film has a big shoot out at the end.

The Saint

So okay this film wasn’t a big hit or well liked but I enjoyed it and there’s a big chunk of the film that was cut out. After the film was released, a lot of people (including myself) complained that the film didn’t have enough action at the end; well the film didn’t really have any action at all for the climax scene. Per IMDb, here’s the description of original ending of the film:

In the original version of the film, Dr. Russell collapses while giving a lecture and dies in The Saint’s arms. The Saint sees Tretiak, Jr. stabbing him in the leg with the tip of his cane. Thus the final half-hour has him set to destroy the villains’ plans and avenge her death. With Dr. Botvin’s help, he switches the formulas around and humiliates Tretiak during his show trial of the Russian president. The Saint battles Dr. Russell’s killer on a stairwell as Russian tanks pound outside, exposing and setting fire to the vast stockpile of heating oil in the basement. With the stairwell disintegrating around them, the fight spills out on to the chandelier, suspended above the blazing oil.

The Saint teases Treatiak, Jr. with the disc containing the formula for cold fusion. As he reaches out for it, The Saint cuts the rope and Tretiak, Jr. plummets to a fiery death. Returning to Dr. Russell’s home, the Saint finds a letter from her, a tear fills his eye and he vows from now on to use his skills only for good. Test audiences didn’t like the way Dr. Russell died three-quarters of the way into the film. Footage from the original ending features prominently in the film’s primary trailer. Director Phillip Noyce hopes one day to be able to restore the original version for a Director’s Cut DVD.

I would love to see this version someday; maybe Paramount will let director Phillip Noyce do a director’s cut version. But I highly doubt we’ll ever see it since the film was never a big hit and not considered a cult favorite.

28 Days Later

Now, you can find alternative endings of the film on DVD/BD, one was shot while other only made it as far as story boarding. Since I’m too lazy to write, I’m referencing Wikipedia:

The “Radical Alternative Ending”, rather than a bare ending, is a radically different development of the movie from the midpoint onwards; it was not filmed and is presented on the DVD as a series of illustrated storyboards with voiceovers by director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland. When Frank is infected at the military blockade near Manchester, the soldiers do not enter the story. Instead, Jim, Selena and Hannah are somehow able to restrain the infected Frank, hoping they will find a cure for the virus nearby as suggested in the radio broadcast. They soon discover that the blockade had protected a large medical research complex, the same one featured in the first scene of the film where the virus was developed. Inside, the party is relieved to find a scientist self-barricaded inside a room with food and water. He will not open the door because he fears they will take his food, although he does admit that the “answer to infection is here.”

Unfortunately, he refuses to talk further because he does not want to make an emotional attachment to people who will soon be dead. After hours of failed attempts to break through the door or coax the man out, Jim eventually brings Hannah to the door and explains Frank’s situation. The scientist reluctantly tells them that Frank can only be cured with a complete blood transfusion, and supplies them with the necessary equipment. After learning that he is the only match with Frank’s blood type, Jim sacrifices himself so that Frank can survive with his daughter. Just as his journey began, Jim is left alone in the abandoned medical facility, and Selena, Hannah and Frank move into the room with the scientist as a horde of the infected breach the complex. The computer monitors show death and destruction come to life around a thrashing, infected Jim, who is strapped to the same table as the chimp had been in the opening scene.

Garland and Boyle explain that they conceived this ending to see what the film would be like if they did not expand the focus beyond the core four survivors. They decided against it because the idea of a total blood replacement as a cure was not credible. As Boyle said in the DVD commentary, it “didn’t make much sense” since the film had already established that one drop of blood can infect a person. “What would we do? Drain him of blood and scrub his veins with bleach?”

If you are a fan of the movie, I would highly recommend you check out this behind the scenes stuff on DVD/BD.

Patriot Games

Another of Phillip Noyce’s film has an alternative ending. This one wasn’t as big as The Saint’s ending but we it was quite different from the actual ending. In the original ending, the scene involved Jack Ryan and Sean Miller fighting on large rocks in the middle of the storm after the shoot-out in Ryan’s house. I remember Entertainment Tonight showing this particular scene during their visit to the set of the movie, but when I finally saw the film I was like what happened to the fight scene between Ryan and Miller? Well what happened was, they test-screened the film and the audience found the fight scene to be boring. So they decided to switch to the boat chase with machine guns and have Ryan and Miller fight on the boat instead.

I don’t think this film would’ve changed much had they went with the original ending but I would like to see that scene nonetheless. Unfortunately this ending is not available anywhere for us regular movie-watchers.

Well, those are some alternate endings I found interesting. Do any of these endings make you like the film more if you didn’t like ’em in the beginning? Or do those endings actually ruin the films for you?

Best Fan-Made Poster of The Dark Knight Rises… so far

Happy Monday, all! I saw this over the weekend as my hubby was browsing his iPad during dinner. Have you seen this one? The poster was featured on one of the coolest sites I follow on Twitter, BitRebels, and I agree with the article writer that fan-made art are getting even more impressive lately, that they’re often better than what the studios actually churn out (case in point: these atrocious ones from X-Men: First Class).

Naturally, superhero movies are probably going to generate a lot more fan-art creations than regular features, especially one as highly-anticipated as Christopher Nolan’s Batman 3, a.k.a. The Dark Knight Rises. There are half a dozen great ones featured on this bitrebels article, some of them featuring the possible villains for the movie, but this has got to be my all-time favorite. I mean, WOW… just WOW!

Click to see a larger version in a new window

I’m not just mesmerized by how good this poster looks, but it also captures the ending of The Dark Knight perfectly, how Batman is now on the run from authorities. That broken glass in the bat shape speaks so much his predicament, surrounded by Gotham police helicopters as he makes his escape. I loved the dark, moody TDK’s posters with the blueish hue which is also incorporated into this version. I don’t know the name of the person who did it, but I found a quote from him (or it could also be a she?) from DeviantArt site that explains his rationale for creating the poster, and I’m even more impressed by the way the broken glass effect was created. Amazing stuff.

I had an image in mind of the bat symbol assembled from shards of broken glass – possibly a prophetic vision of how Chris Nolan will open The Dark Knight Rises…but likely not. In any case, I built on that thought to make this image, of Batman viewed through a hole in a smashed window, looking out into a brighter day against the cold gray of Gotham (the first two films were seemingly color-coded sepia and blue, so maybe the third will be in gray tones to symbolize the “shades of gray” that represent the justice system…but I’m getting ahead of things again).

The broken glass effect was made by scanning pieces of plastic wrap, then using select portions of those scans. Tiring stuff.

What do you think of some of the fan-made posters for Batman 3? Or if you’ve seen some other spectacular fan-art for this movie or other superhero flicks, do share.

Three flix picks for Easter… or any other time of the year

Just want to wish everyone a blessed Easter. This weekend I’m celebrating the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… forever grateful for His atoning sacrifice.

Even those who aren’t believers might opt to watch some Christian-themed films this time of year, such as The Ten Commandments (should be on by now on one of the major network TV), King of Kings, Ben-Hur, The Passion of the Christ,  or the animated feature The Prince of Egypt for the whole family.

I truly respect ‘The Passion‘ despite all the drama surrounding the film and the filmmaker. Obviously the message speaks to me in a profound way, but even if we strip away the spiritual aspect of it for a minute and just see the movie from a film-making piece, it’s tremendous. I like what this guy said in his soulfoodmovies blog: “Simply take a moment to judge The Passion of the Christ on its merits as a film. Look at all the elements that come together to make it so effective–the performances of the actors; the exquisite cinematography; the realistic effects; and ultimately, the way Gibson structures this chapter in the life of Christ.”

The story’s not meant to be a comprehensive biopic on Jesus’ life, but serves as a harrowing and poignant depiction of the extent of Christ’s suffering and His unfathomable passion for humanity. It’s not for kids or for the faint of hearts though. Never in my life have I been so shaken and moved watching a movie… it’s definitely one of the most powerful movies ever made.

While those above are all perfectly good films that are fitting for Easter, here are three other inspirational titles I’d highly recommend, not just for the holiday, but for any other time of the year:

  • Amazing Grace (2006)

    This movie’s release coincide with the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the first anti-slave trade bill, ending 400 years of slave trading. The main protagonist, William Wilberforce is a faithful British member of Parliament. Ioan Gruffud is excellent in the title role, conveying the emotional and physical struggles battling illness and one setback after another in the two decades he fought to end slave trading in England.

    Along the way, he’s encouraged by his mentor John Newton (portrayed marvelously by Albert Finney), the author of the beloved hymn of the movie’s title, a repentant former slave trader. He’s also helped by his allies, PM William Pitt, a scholarly former slave Olaudah Equiano, as well as his loving and influential wife, Barbara Spooner (the lovely Romola Garai). Though it’s heavy on the history and political aspect, but the redemptive values aren’t lost in the process. It’s one of those rare Hollywood films with a deep passion for goodness and virtue that’s entertaining as well as inspiring. The performances of mostly-British talents (Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rufus Sewell, etc.) are top notch, but ultimately it’s the profound message and inspiring story that makes this a winning feature.

  • Bella (2006 – view trailer)

    This is an indie movie by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gomez Monteverde about an unconventional love story between a former soccer star who’ve lost everything after a tragic accident and a waitress who’s pregnant out of wedlock. The film won People’s Choice Award at TIFF in 2006. It’s not a romantic story, but definitely has plenty of heart. Beautifully acted by Mexican heartthrob Eduaro Verastequi in a personal project that reflect his new direction in life, it also boast a strong performance by Tammy Blanchard (who played Judy Garland in a TV movie Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows).

    The pro-life message and subtle message about faith is subtle and not done in a preachy way, these are two ‘broken’ people who find comfort in each other in one day, as they discuss the hardships of life and past hurts. The bond that develop between the two main characters feel natural and engaging, carrying poignant themes of family values, genuine friendship and the healing power of forgiveness.

  • The Gospel of John (2003)

    I see this film as a great feature for before or after seeing ‘The Passion’ as it chronicles Jesus’ ministry more closely in its three-hour running time. It’s a unique biopic of the life, death and resurrection of Christ in that it’s adapted precisely Word for Word from the Good News Translation Bible, unlike a lot of other adaptations that took too much liberty from the source material.

    At first I wasn’t sure how it’d sound how it would translate to the screen and whether the dialog would be awkward, but it’s actually quite effective and engaging. Told from the eyes of one of Jesus’ disciples, John — known as John the evangelist and the disciple whom Jesus loved — the film offers a very human picture of Jesus and a more intimate look of how he interacted with his disciples and people in his day.

    Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond in LOST) as Jesus is interesting casting, he’s certainly not Jewish-looking enough (but not bad compared to the blue-eyed, blond-haired Anglo-Saxon archetypal in previous Jesus’ films) and  more feisty than we’ve seen Jesus being portrayed. Yet he still conveys a compassionate man who’s personal and approachable, but yet charismatic enough to be believable that he could captivate a crowd. Narrated with Christopher Plummer’s deep, soothing voice, it also boasts beautiful cinematography of the setting in Málaga, Spain and the gorgeous music using ancient instruments to achieve the authentic sounds of the time that help takes us back in time. Whatever your belief of who Jesus is, you’d appreciate the backstory of arguably the most influential religious figure in history.

Have a wonderful Easter, everybody! Have you seen any of these titles? What do you typically watch around Easter holiday?

The Flix List: 100 Things We Love About the Movies

Thanks to my witty and über clever pal John from The Droid You’re Looking For, I’m inspired to join the fun in putting together this post. He’s passionate about movies so much that there’s already a second edition of the 100 things he loves about the movies! Something this joyful and fun should be shared, so I’ve invited two of FC’s contributors Ted and Vince to join in and list a myriad of stuff we love about the world of cinema. So here goes:

[Ted’s list in blue, Vince’s in green and Ruth’s in purple]

  1. “Bond, James Bond”
  2. Ennio Morricone
  3. “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
  4. The rain scenes in Jane Austen’s movies
  5. “Henry Jones Jr., Indiana is the name of the dog” – Henry Jones Sr.
  6. Alejandro Jodorowsky
  7. “And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.”
  8. “More human than human is our moto.” – Dr. Terell
  9. Monica Vitti swimming in the Mediterranean in L’Avventura
  10. John Barry’s theme songs (especially this one)
  11. “I’m the Dude man!”
  12. Blade Runner‘s ‘tears in the rain’ monologue
  13. Big Hollywood movies filmed with IMAX cameras
  14. Superman catching Lois falling from a chopper
  15. Yves Montand driving off a cliff with a smile on his face in Wages of Fear
  16. Spanish Buzz
  17. “You’re one ugly mother******!”
  18. “What we do in life echoes in eternity”
  19. Hitchcock cameos
  20. Audrey Hepburn’s smile
  21. Mature actors who get better with age (i.e. Helen Mirren)
  22. “Warriors – come out to playaayy… Warriors – come out to playaayy…”
  23. Gerard James Butler
  24. The big battle scene in 13 Assassins
  25. Wolfman Jack in American Graffiti
  26. Marion Cottilard’s singing in Nine
  27. Roy Scheider rear-ending a parked semi at 100mph in the Seven Ups
  28. Timothy Dalton’s Bond
  29. Peter Coyote in Bitter Moon
  30. Keanu Reeves in The Matrix
  31. “Snake Plissken, I thought you were dead.”
  32. The tantalizingly s-l-o-w doorway kiss in Dear Frankie
  33. John Williams and Hans Zimmer
  34. Marlene Dietrich to Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles): “Better lay off those candy bars.”
  35. Heath Ledger in Ten Things I Hate About You
  36. “I’m Batman!” from both the 1989 and 2005 version
  37.  Claudia Cardinale
  38. Alan Rickman’s voice
  39. “I’ll be back.”
  40. Period dramas’ men 😀
  41. Robert Blake’s giant cell phone in Lost Highway
  42. Rufus Sewell in Tristan + Isolde
  43. “Yippee-ki-yay, mother******!”
  44. Cathy Moriarty in White of the Eye
  45. David Duchovny & Minnie Driver in Return to Me
  46. Frank Booth: “F#$% this Heineken sh&%! Pabst Blue Ribbon!!”
  47. “That’s thirty minutes away. I’ll be there in ten.”
  48. “Why do we fall, sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.”
  49. Alan Alda in To Kill a Clown
  50. The colors of Zhang Yimou’s films

  51. Any scene involving tumbler/batmobile/batpod in Christopher Nolan’s Batman flicks
  52. Emmanuelle Beart in Manon of the Spring
  53. The finale of The Passion of the Christ
  54. Steven Seagal’s weird fighting style in his films
  55. Butch Cassidy to Sundance Kid: “Who are those guys?!”
  56. Sundance Kid to Butch Cassidy: “Who are those guys?!”
  57. Cate Blanchett

  58. The opening scene of The Transporter
  59. Ennio Morricone’s theme for The Man with No Name Trilogy
  60. Disney Princess movies
  61. “Do you feel lucky, well do you punk!?”

  62. Monica Vitti swimming in the Mediterranean in L’Avventura
  63. Sam Peckinpah kick started the bloody shoot’em up in Hollywood in The Wild Bunch
  64. The visual feast of Tarsem’s The Fall
  65. Lillian Gish with her Winchester in Night of the Hunter
  66. Aragorn’s sheer charisma in the Lord of the Rings …
  67. … and the amazing ensemble-cast of the Peter Jackson’s trilogy
  68. Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
  69. Roy Scheider rear-ending a parked semi at 100mph in the Seven Ups
  70. Gregory Peck & Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday
  71. Inspiring historical-based movies, i.e. Amazing Grace
  72. Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box
  73. Christian Bale’s romantic side in The New World
  74. John Woo’s action scenes in The Killer, Hard Boil and Face/Off
  75. The witty repartee between Bond & Vesper in Casino Royale
  76. Jane Fonda’s astro-striptease in the intro to Barbarella
  77. British actors
  78. The epic car chase in The Bourne Supremacy

  79. Sense & Sensibility‘s brilliant screenplay
  80. Clint Eastwood
  81. The Jesus scene in Ben-Hur
  82. Marlene Dietrich to Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles): “Better lay off those candy bars.”
  83. The Iceland scenery in Beowulf & Grendel

  84. Hearing big explosions and machine guns roar in digital sound at a big theater
  85. The ‘Phantom leads Christine to his lair’ scene in Phantom of the Opera
  86. Bobby Peru’s teeth in Wild at Heart
  87. The musical segments of Moulin Rouge
  88. David Lean’s wide shots in Lawrence of Arabia and Ryan’s Daughter, filmed in 65 mm
  89. Creative movie title sequences
  90. Max Schreck as the rat-like Nosferatu
  91. Russell Crowe’s performance in The Insider
  92. David Lynch
  93. Gabriel Byrne as D’Artagnan
  94. Movie soundtracks
  95. Saw The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen and in digital sound back in 1997
  96. Hugo Weaving’s masked performance as V
  97. The fight scene in the original Drunken Master
  98. The chariot race scene in Ben-Hur

  99. M. Emmet Walsh
  100. Movie blogs 😀

Well, that’s all folks. Thoughts on any of our picks? Also feel free to share your own list of things you love about the movies in the comments.

Happy Birthday Andy Serkis!

English actor Andy Serkis turns 47 today. Best known for playing the computer-generated character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he was easily the hardest working actor on the set due to the complexity of the creative process of bringing Gollum to the screen.

According to IMDb, Serkis spent almost two years in New Zealand and away from his family, and much of 2002 and 2003 in post-production studios for large periods of time. Before Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana did in Avatar, Serkis was already a master in motion-capture acting, which I’d imagine is just as tough, if not tougher, than standard live-action acting.

I think Gollum is easily the most iconic character in the LOTR trilogy, so all the recognition Serkis received for his groundbreaking work in that franchise is very well deserved! Check out this clip of the actor in the flesh versus his computer generated (roto-animated) version as Gollum:

It’s amazing how expressive he is, that’s definitely an art in itself. He used the same art form for his performance as Kong, once again working with Peter Jackson in King Kong, two years after The Return of the King was released. He’s not limited to only doing CGI characters though, he’s had supporting roles in 13 Going on 30, The Prestige, Inkheart, Burke & Hare, and the recently-released trailer Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Not to mention his lead role in the biopic of punk-rock star Ian Dury, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, where he nabbed Best Actor BAFTA award. I’m highly anticipating two of his upcoming movies, one is The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn that’ll be released on December 23 where he’ll play Captain Haddock. The other is The Hobbit coming in 2012. Some of you’ve probably seen Jackson’s first video journal from the set, but in case you haven’t, here it is below:

Man, as if I weren’t excited enough about this movie… this video blog got me practically drooling for The Hobbit! You can see Serkis on the make-up chair somewhere in the clip and of course, the soon-will-be-the-hunkiest dwarf ever Richard Armitage (yes Mr Thornton himself!) introducing himself to the cast and crew [sigh] Oh, and I also found this fan-made trailer on YouTube that I thought was really well-done:

Well, let’s all wish Mr. Serkis a very happy birthday! Now, are you excited about The Hobbit and Tintin movie?

Weekend Roundup: Local Film Festival News & Movies I watched

It was quite a busy weekend I just had, dampened a bit by a coating of snow on the ground Saturday morning. Our local weatherman Paul Douglas aptly called it groan-worthy, and we now have a Winter alert with possible 3-5 inches of snow in the next 36 hours! Heh, so much for Spring 😦

Anyway, why talk about the weather when we’ve got movies to talk about, right? A couple of film-event announcements I’d like to share with you:

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival opened last Friday which will go on until May 5. It currently screens 170 films from 50+ countries for three weeks. One of the independent movie screened is Cracks, directed by Ridley Scott’s daughter, Jordan. This event wasn’t off my radar somehow, but I’ll be checking the schedule and see if there is anything I’d like to see.

The other film festival in town, Twin Cities Film Fest or TCFF for short just announced its dates for 2011, it will take place Tuesday, September 20th – Sunday, September 25th, 2011! They’re currently awaiting film submissions on various categories and the festival organizers will have a booth at the 2011 The Twin Cities Actor Expo on April 30th. I’ll be sure to cover that one in the Fall like I did last year.

Did you see Rio this weekend? Once again an animated feature wins box office as people flocked to see the animated feature Rio, which looks pretty cute, especially since I was quite addicted to the massively popular Angry Birds game for quite a while, which have a cameo of sort in the movie. Animated movies continue to prove successful for Hollywood, as Hop and Rango were two of the highest-grossing movies of 2011 so far. Last year How to Train Your Dragon also pulled in impressive numbers (earning $43 mil – $3 million higher than Rio) which was also released in the Spring season (per boxofficemojo).

I didn’t make it to the theater, but managed to see a couple of movies. One was The Switch, (you can view the trailer here), which was one of the better Jennifer Aniston rom-coms, which is not saying much. I only saw this because I love Jason Bateman, and really he’s the heart and soul of this movie. Him and the little boy Thomas Robinson who plays Aniston’s son, who is just down right adorable!

The premise of a woman wanting to have a baby on her own and the male seed swap thing is a bit of a twist on the conventional genre, but in the end it still has the same ‘ol cliches. I mean, it’s exasperating to watch a supposedly nice looking, smart, and successful guy being in love with a woman for years and not have the guts to at least tell her. I mean, a woman actually had to resort to a turkey baster, for goodness sake, you’d think the guy would drop more than a hint that he actually has feelings for her?? It doesn’t help that the only reason we think they have feelings for each other is because the trailer says so (read: the chemistry between Aniston & Bateman is barely there). And from that preview, you pretty much know where the story is going and you can probably guess the ending, too, and you’d likely be right. Even the charismatic Bateman, and the occasional funny bits from Jeff Goldblum (relegated to playing the BFF) can’t elevate this from being a run-of-the-mill rom-com. Oh well, it wasn’t a complete waste, just not something I’d highly recommend.

The other movie I saw was RED, which I reviewed last year when I scored an early advance screening. I liked it then and I still do now. The cast seems to have a great time working together and it shows, I particularly enjoyed watching Helen Mirren and Brian Cox in this, they’re just so adorable as an odd romantic couple. And of course, the tall, dashing Karl Urban [sigh]… which really makes me want to start a “Karl-Urban-for-Bond!” campaign already!

Well, what movie(s) did you end up this weekend? Seen anything good?

The Flix List: 15 favorite period drama heroes – Part II

Welcome to Part II of the list. As I said in the intro of Part I, this post is a collaboration with my Twitter pal and fellow period drama enthusiast Paula G. Now here are the other seven great romantic heroes that make us swoon, and please vote for your fave at the end of the post!

9.  Edmund Bertram – Mansfield Park

PaulaThe Edmund I thought of first is Jonny Lee Miller in the 1999 production, but the character is not one of my favorites. I find him to be the most solemn of Austen’s male main characters and a bit of a hypocrite. The impression I get from the book is that he only gets together with Fanny Price because every other girl around has been shown to be completely immoral. Things aren’t much better in the film…I remember Sir Thomas ripping her down for not marrying ne’er-do-well Henry Crawford…and Edmund sitting there reading a book. She looks to him for help, but he just shrugs and goes back to reading.

RuthEdmund may not be fashionable like Darcy, but I picked him because he’s a naturally compassionate person, right from the start he befriended the poor and lonely Fanny Price. Yes perhaps there are times I wish he would stand by Fanny more, but still, he’s the only person in the Bertram’s household who truly loves and respects Fanny for who she is, even if he’s slow to admits that he is actually in love with her.

Most romantic scene: When Edmund and Fanny rides together in a carriage from her parents’ house back to Mansfield Park. They’ve missed each other so much but neither could express their feelings. One time their hands touch lightly and Edmund slowly envelopes hers with his… Fanny’s expression of inner tumult is priceless.

10. Edmond Dantès – The Count of Monte Cristo

Ruth Paula told me the only time she saw this movie was to look for Henry Cavill. I don’t blame her, Henry is one gorgeous creature even from such a young age. But it’s James Caviezel as the main protagonist whom I fell for when I saw this movie years ago. What Edmond goes through in this Alexandre Dumas’ story is heart-wrenching… the merchant sailor who’s about to marry his fiancée Mercédès but is betrayed by his friend Fernand, which sends him to prison for 13 years.

Yes, Monte Cristo is more of a revenge tale, but I feel that Edmond’s undying love for Mercédès deserves a place on the list. The moments of them frolicking on the beach in the opening scenes is definitely romantic. I also love the part when she recognizes him when he starts twirling his hair at his lavish party and then she shows him the rope ring he once gave him… it’s a beautiful and touching scene. Caviezel has such a regal presence as a count, especially the moment Edmond emerges from the hot air balloon with his cape flowing about in the wind…    b

11. Edward Ferrars – Sense & Sensibility

PaulaI fell hard for Hugh Grant’s big blue eyes, floppy hair and cute stammer in this role. i just remember the heartbreaking and sometimes funny awkwardness between he and Elinor throughout the film, particularly in the scene where Elinor plays hostess to Lucy Steele and Edward pops in to say “hi.” Everyone present knows what’s going on and no one can talk about it. Edward and Elinor are so perfect for each other but everyone & everything gets in the way until the very last. Most romantic scene: Any scene in which Edward helps Elinor with Margaret… he yanks Elinor around quite a bit but it seems like he’s got to be a good guy deep down.

Ruth I love the character of Edward more so than the actor who portrays him, but I agree with Paula that Grant’s awkwardness with his signature stammering manner is quite endearing. But when I saw the 2008 BBC adaptation, I became quite smitten with Dan Stevens’ portrayal. He plays Edward with more confidence and playfulness but still has the warmhearted affection towards Elinor. I adore the ‘beating carpet’ scene where they first met and his longing look when the Dashwood family moves to the cottage. But the juiciest scene has got to be the chopping-wood-whilst-soaking-wet-in-the-rain scene and Elinor comes to visit him. “I enjoy a bit of a sweat. A man can relieve his feelings…” he says. Well I’m sure Elinor quite enjoyed, um, watching him, too 😀

12. George Emerson – A Room with a View

PaulaA rebel and a sweetheart, unconventional George sweeps uptight Lucy off her feet. Again, we see a couple who are perfect for each other but not completely sanctioned by society. Most romantic scene: George and Lucy run across each other in a field in Italy and… well, that kissing scene is certainly one of the movie’s most memorable moments.

Ruth – Well, I haven’t read the E.M. Forsters’ novel the movie’s based on but I presume George is a whole lot more interesting than the way Julian Sands portrayed him in the movie. As I said in my review, I actually thought he just isn’t compelling enough in the role (sorry Paula!), it’s Daniel Day-Lewis as the goody two-shoes Cecil who steals the show.

13. Henry Tilney – Northanger Abbey

PaulaMy favorite portrayal is by JJ Feild [sic] in the 2007 ITV version. He and Felicity Jones have so much chemistry that seemingly straightforward dialogue is rendered suggestive by the way they look at each other. The novel is generally considered to be one of Jane Austen’s “lesser works” — can there be such a thing? — because it was written first and isn’t as polished as, say, Pride & Prejudice. And the author herself admits that Catherine Morland is no heroine. But it’s still really fun. Most romantic scene: Henry shows up at the Morland house and asks if Catherine can show him the way to the Allens’ — which is within sight.

Ruth – I only saw bits and pieces of this adaptation but Feild seems to have that mischievous nature that makes him fun to watch. I’m not as intrigued by the story compared to other Austen’s literary works though.
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14. The Captain – La Veuve de Saint-Pierre (The Widow of St. Pierre)

PaulaHe’s a handsome man of action who loves his wife enough to let her try to rehabilitate a murderer. In their house! Public scorn means nothing, as long as his wife is happy. Unfortunately for all concerned, going against the established norm has consequences, but throughout, Daniel Auteuil makes devotion sexy. The film is based on actual events on Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the French islands off the coast of northeastern Canada. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Most romantic scene: Before all hell breaks loose, the Captain & his wife only have eyes for each other at a stuffy tea party.

15. Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights

PaulaHardy once said on a talk show that he’s the go-to guy for “nutters” and although he has played his share, there’s no better example than his Heathcliff, just for sheer adherence to the book. I’ve always found the character repellent and Hardy is appropriately psychopathic for a guy who kills his wife’s dog. But somehow he makes you feel some sympathy for him, which is more than anyone else has ever done. I don’t know when Hardy got together with Charlotte Riley, who plays Cathy so excellently, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened on this set.

RuthRomantic heroes doesn’t get any more dark and brooding like Heathcliff, and which the term crazy love is absolutely fitting. It’s even harder to root for Emily Brontë’s hero as he makes even her sister Charlotte’s Rochester seems like a levelheaded guy! I have only seen the Timothy Dalton’s version so I can’t say his is my favorite rendition, but he certainly conveyed the all-consuming passion Heathcliff has towards Cathy, it proves that ‘to die for love’ that’s romanticized by lovestruck individuals aren’t always beautiful, they can be haunting and down right tragic. Still, it’s the stuff classic romance are made of. I’m still looking forward to Laurence Olivier’s and Ralph Fiennes’ version as I’m not too keen on the actress who plays Cathy in the 1970 adaptation. Most romantic scene: When Heathcliff is reunited with Cathy again after running off for several years and the two are making out on the grass, professing their love to each other even though Cathy’s now married to someone else.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the list, now please take the time to vote for your favorite period drama hero, you can also enter one that’s not on our list. Do you agree with our picks? If not, let it be heard in the comments.