Happy Birthday to one of my fave directors – Peter Jackson!

I know today’s Halloween but I really don’t care for this pagan holiday and horror flicks aren’t my forte, so I’d rather wish one of my fave directors, Peter Jackson, a happy 50th birthday instead.

It’s an interesting coincidence that the actress I featured yesterday made her debut in his film, Heavenly Creatures. I haven’t seen that one but it’s Jackson’s later films that really left a lasting impression for me.

I’ve updated my sidebar with Peter Jackson’s trivia today, who’s born as an only child in a small coastal town near Wellington, New Zealand. Apparently his love for film-making started out when he was only eight years old when a friend of his parents bought him a super 8mm movie camera. It reminds me of the Spielberg film Super 8 (perhaps Peter was the inspiration for the chubby kid Charles? :D)

I love a lot of Peter Jackson’s films, and I’m also thankful for his technological contribution to the film industry. His company Weta Digital is behind the technology that has created the new generation 3D special effects used in groundbreaking movies like his own Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as Avatar and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. So here are five movies I’m thankful for having Peter Jackson’s involvement. There’s a reason why he’s one of my 15 favorite film directors ever!

The Lord of the Rings

I was gonna list one of the best scenes, but really, that’s impossible. Besides, I’ve kind of done it in Viggo’s post not too long ago. So instead, I thought it might be fun to post this one of PJ doing a cameo in one of the LOTR movies, dressed like someone out of Battlefield Earth? I didn’t notice him in the battle scenes, well there’s always a reason to re-watch those LOTR movies!

King Kong

It’s a bummer that this film wasn’t as commercially-successful as they had hoped. I saw this on the big screen and was blown away by it. It’s technically-impressive — the SFX, the art deco look & feel, and of course, with his muse Andy Serkis embodying the giant ape with even bigger heart, we’ve got quite a monstrous epic of a film. Anyone who did not at least get a lump on their throat watching this ending really need to check their pulse!

District 9

Ok so PJ didn’t direct this one but he was one of the executive producers. In fact, if it weren’t for Jackson giving newbie director Neill Blomkamp $30 mil to make the movie he wanted, this movie might not have seen the light of day. I saw this on the big screen and was utterly blown away by it. It’s a gritty sci-fi that stayed with me long afterwards (read my full review). I was impressed by Sharlto Copley’s performance and I look forward to him teaming up w/ Blomkamp again for Elysium. This is by far one of the most heart-wrenching scenes from the film:

The Adventures of Tintin

As a big fan of the comics, I’m thrilled to see two directing legends are adapting this to the big screen! Yes I have high expectations for this one, but I do hope Spielberg and PJ won’t disappoint! So far the film has been quite successful overseas, earning about $55 mil in its first week. I wish it’d open sooner here, you’d think sometime around Thanksgiving would be perfect as a family-friendly feature. In any case, though I’m not typically a big fan of mo-cap technology, what I’ve seen so far gives me hope that there won’t be any ‘dead eyes’ syndrome in this one.

And last but not least … to the most-anticipated movie of 2012:

The Hobbit

Really, the worst thing about this LOTR prequel is the long wait! But I reckon it’ll be worth every second as PJ will take us back to the journey to Middle Earth. Forget The Avengers, I’d say The Hobbit won best ensemble cast in my book, what with the mix of LOTR alums: Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Elijah Woods, etc. and new cast members that include some of my favorites: Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, and James Nesbitt. Oh man, I told my friend Claire that if I had all the money in the world, I might just move there for the entire time they’re filming The Hobbit. I’ll even work for free! 😀 These video journals definitely get me salivating even more!

So happy birthday Peter Jackson! What’s your fave film(s) from this directing genius?

Chat-worthy Thespian: Kate Winslet & my top five roles she’s played

Welcome to another edition of Chat-worthy thespian! This is part of The LAMB’s Acting School featuring the great Kate Winslet. Interestingly enough, the last actress I featured in this series was another great Cate with a ‘C’ that is Cate Blanchett.

Kate Elizabeth Winslet was born the same year as yours truly, and just recently celebrated her 36th birthday on October 5th. The English actress was born into a family of thespians — parents Roger Winslet and Sally Bridges-Winslet were both stage actors, maternal grandparents ran the Reading Repertory Theatre, and uncle Robert Bridges was a fixture in London’s West End theatre district (per IMDb), so Kate seems destined to make it in show business.

I first saw Kate in Sense & Sensibility, which still remains one of my top five favorite films of all time. Though I have not seen her debut role in Heavenly Creatures (will have to do that soon!), I have saw her in eight feature films since and was always impressed by her strong performance. No matter what role she tackles, whether in a period drama or contemporary rom-com, she always turns in a memorable and exceptional performance. Her classic beauty and sheer talent never ceases to amaze me, more so because there is such an effortlessness to her acting that makes you forget she’s playing a part. As of January 2009, she is the youngest actress to garner six Oscar nominations, and her career is far from slowing down. This year she added her collection of acting trophies by winning an Emmy for her role in Mildred Pierce.

Some girls do have it all… not only is Kate massively talented, she is also supremely beautiful. Even in less-than-glamorous roles (i.e. The Reader, Little Children), her transcendent beauty still shines through. And she’s got curves!! I love the fact that she is not rail-thin like most of of Hollywood starlets and she’s proud of her body. I think her voluptuous figure is A+ perfect, I mean she’s a REAL woman. Though her weight has fluctuated through the years, she is never going to be a stick.

I think her career is just going to get better and better. I’m looking forward to see her in Roman Polanski’s dramedy Carnage with fellow Oscar nominees/winners Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly.

Now here’s a look at my top five favorite roles of Kate Winslet:

  1. Marianne – Sense & Sensibility
    Well if you know me at all, there is no way this one wasn’t going to be on the list. I so adore this film and Kate’s sublime performance as Marianne Dashwood is one of the many reasons why. Even at a young age of 20, she showed such an extraordinary maturity for her part. She was convincingly giddy in love with Willoughby, her passionate Juliet-like character is such a perfect contrast to the sensible Elinor. Most of the memorable roles in this movie are of Marianne’s… from the moment she captured Brandon’s heart to her severe heartbreak when Willoughby revealed his true colors. Oh, not to mention those fabulous rain-scenes involving Marianne and her two hunky suitors 😀
  2. Rose – Titanic
    I have to admit that the reason I saw this James Cameron epic twice in the theater was because of Leo DiCaprio (hey, I was in my early 20s!). But after I re-watched it later, it’s Kate’s performance that still wowed me. I feel that though Leo might’ve brought in the business, it’s Kate who anchored the film as the feisty, sensual aristocrat. Her hollow stare as she dined with her mother was heart-wrenching as you knew she felt so trapped in her family’s decision to have her marry a rich man. She truly came alive when she meets Jack, and it’s one of those doomed-romances one can’t help but root for.
  3. Sylvia – Finding Neverland
    This is such an enchanting film and the first time I saw Kate Winslet played a mother… a widow with four children! Sylvia and her four young sons strike up a friendship with J. M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) when they met at Kensington Garden. Barrie became a surrogate father to Sylvia’s kids (especially Peter, performed brilliantly by Freddie Highmore) which in turn inspire him to write the famous Peter Pan tale. Winslet skillfully mixes joy & pathos as the sickly mother, which truly brings the humanity in this heart-warming story that some fairy tales do come true.
  4. Ophelia – Hamlet
    I’ve just recently seen this one, and as I said in my review, Kate’s portrayal of Ophelia is nothing short of phenomenal. Yes even amongst acting greats like Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, etc., her performance was such a scene-stealer. There’s not many actresses out there who could give such a fearless, all-out performance like Kate. I remember being in awe of her acting as I was watching this film, absolutely brilliant! Whether it’s physical or emotional nakedness, she’s always willing to go the distance. She really was robbed of an Oscar or BAFTA for this performance.
  5. Iris – The Holiday
    Ok so the film itself perhaps isn’t in the same league as the other four, but I LOVE Kate’s lighthearted performance as Iris, an English girl who swaps house with an an LA-based trailer maker, Amanda. The scene of her geeking out in Amanda’s mansion is adorable to watch, such a contrast to her usually-gloomy characters. Though still more stunning than most women I know in real life, Kate was convincing as a self-deprecating ‘every woman’ who’s unlucky in love. Her scenes with Jack Black is sweet and funny, but it’s her friendship with her 90-year-old neighbor Arthur, once a celebrated Hollywood screenwriter, that gives the film its heart.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Reader
    This is Kate’s first Oscar win and I think she deserves it. It’s a non-glamorous role and perhaps one of the most complex characters she’s tackled. Hanna Scmidt isn’t exactly sympathetic but despite her heinous crimes, I can’t completely abhor her.
  • Romance & Cigarettes
    I saw this at TIFF back in 2005 and director John Turturro who introduced the film actually called this a ‘dirty little movie.’ It’s a bawdy musical with a great ensemble cast that include James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken, and Susan Sarandon. But again Kate steals the show as a fiery red-head hussy, showing off her knack for comedy as well as her fearlessness in playing against type. This quirky film is not for everyone, but worth a watch just for Kate’s performance alone. Watch for her slutty song & dance number, definitely unlike anything I’ve seen her in.
  • Finding Neverland [added 10/13)
    I hadn’t seen this when I first made my list but I really enjoyed Kate’s performance as the lovely but tragic widow Sylvia Davies. It’s perhaps the first time I saw her play a mother in film and she certainly is believable in her relationship with her four young sons. She also has a sweet chemistry with Johnny Depp who’s astounding as Sir James Matthew Barrie. It just further proves how versatile Winslet it, as she’s able to tackle practically any role.

So what are your thoughts of this talented star? Please do share your own favorite Kate Winslet roles.

A Birthday Tribute – 44 Reasons We Love Rufus Sewell

On Saturday, 10/29, one of my favorite actors Rufus Sewell is turning 44! So in honor of his b’day, my pal Becky (a.k.a. Prairiegirl, Roof’s number 1 fan) and I thought it’d be fun to list 44 reasons why we love the guy, starting with Becky’s list…

  1. Believe it … he’s just as hot as a cross-dresser in a skirt and knee-high, high-heeled boots (Taming of the Shrew, TV, 2005) as he is in a sharp Italian suit and Persol sunglasses (Zen, TV, 2011)
  2. He is very generous with his time and attention to his fans.
  3. He has no problem baring his lovely bum (Gone to Seed, (TV 1996), Dark City (1998), Helen of Troy (1999)
  4. Because he had a leading role in one of my favorite films ever – A Knight’s Tale (2001) which also includes a hunky bonus in the form of James Purefoy.
  5. He will compel me to watch a genre I rarely, if ever watch: vampires! (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, coming in 2012).
  6. He has one of the most distinct, easy-to-listen-to voices ever (narration of 12 of Ian Fleming’s James Bonds books, among many of his voice-over projects).
  7. He has one of the best fan sites, with the best fans, with the best name: The Rooftop
  8. There’s no way you can’t fall in love with him as the benevolent Lord Marke during the Bridge scene in Tristan and Isolde (2006). And that scene is more than halfway through the film… whatever took me so long? ;-D

  9. He really mixes up the type characters he plays, and does them effortlessly, even though most don’t know this… everyone thinks he is only a period player or the bad guy.
  10. He’s had three films set in one of my favorite places, Italy. Dangerous Beauty (1998, Venice), The Tourist (2010, Venice)  and, of course, Zen(TV, 2011, Rome). It’s hard to think of a better combination than Rufus AND Italy.

    Rufus as Aurelio Zen
  11. Speaking of The Tourist, another classy bonus along with Ruf in the film was Timothy Dalton.
  12. Even though Eleventh Hour (TV, 2009) only lasted one season on CBS, and Ruf’s part of Dr. Jacob Hood could have had been written with more impact and emotion, I have all eighteen episodes to see him in almost every scene on DVD whenever I need another dose of Dr. Ruf.
  13. Because I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him in his very first role in a film, Twenty-One (1991). As Bobby, he’s one, very, very convincing drug addict.
  14. He has the most amazing, expressive, wide green eyes.
  15. One of his most quoted sayings is “my favorite day is a happy accident.” My favorite day was discovering Rufus!
  16. He makes me laugh out loud when he is woken from a sound sleep by the Italian prosecutor, Nadia Pirot in Zen, the Cabal episode. She asks him if she woke him, and he says, not entirely convincingly, “no, no, I just got back from the gym.”
  17. He looks protective and caring holding a newly-acquired puppy.
  18. He’s as comfortable on a theater stage as he is in a film or on TV.
  19. He can play an addict, a working-class bus driver, renaissance royalty, a Dark Ages king, an adventurous entrepreneur, a scheming knight, an inconsiderate ex-boyfriend, an early American statesman, a detached husband, a brilliant scientist, a Medieval stone mason, an honest but slightly flawed detective, and a vampire… whew!
  20. He has a wonderful sense of humor.  When asked the question, “Looking at your own life, what would most like your legacy to be? Answer: I’d like an omelet named after me.” 😀
  21. He’s hot, hot, HOT in an elevator. (Taming of the Shrew, Zen)
  22. He keeps getting better with age. A very happy 44th birthday, Rufus!
  23. All right, those high check bones certainly deserve a mention. His features look as if they’re carved by Michelangelo!
  24. The soulful and emphatic way he narrated the 9/11 poem Out of the Blue
  25. He was swoon-worthy as Kate Winslet’s crush in The Holiday… he’s a cad yes, but a juicy one at that!
  26. His sexy, throaty voice to match that smouldering look.
  27. I read an article describing his character in Zen as possessing an enigmatic charisma, the same can be said about Rufus himself.
  28. I love how self-deprecating and humble he is. In his interview with Telegraph for Zen, he was asked if he fly economy? ‘Absolutely!’ he says with no hint of shame.
  29. Some men can pull off wearing eyeliners, and Rufus is one of them, as displayed in his drag outfit in BBC’s The Taming of the Shrew.
  30. I kind of like the name Rufus. It actually means “red-haired” in Latin.
  31. Speaking of hair, I LOVE his dark, wavy hair and he looks good w/ pretty much any hairstyle.
  32. Even in a brief cameo (i.e. The Tourist), he still manages to steal scenes and made even a banal movie worthwhile.
  33. He was a vile count in A Knight’s Tale but he you really can’t take your eyes off him… whenever he’s on, he made me forget about the leading man Heath Ledger.
  34. As many British actors do, he’s got stage-cred on top of his movie career. He earned rave reviews in his performance in Tom Stoppard’s Rock and Roll, which he played both at the Royal Court Theater in London and on Broadway.
  35. He looked like a Greek god in the miniseries Helen of Troy… he’s perhaps too ridiculously good looking as Agamemnon, but hey, I’m not complaining!
  36. His dark, almost exotic look makes him versatile enough to play people of different ethnic groups believably.
  37. He proves to be a capable romantic leading man in Dangerous Beauty. I’d love to see him in a sweeping period drama like that again in the future.
  38. There’s a regal air about Rufus that I don’t find in other actors of his caliber.
  39. He’s got an exquisite taste in automobile. Check him out looking like James Bond in his vintage red Alfa Romeo Spider convertible!
  40. He can pull off both a clean-cut look and a full beard one, such as the one he’s sporting in The Pillars of the Earth miniseries
  41. He was perfectly cast in one of the most underrated sci-fi, Alex Proyas’ Dark City
  42. He’s got such an expressive, melancholic eyes… perfect for romantic roles, thus I cast him as a British suitor in my fantasy romantic drama Last Voyage of the Valentina.
  43. I love his professional attitude… it’s as if no job is too small for him. No matter how low-budget the movie, he always gives his all.
  44. And lastly, since this job is not on IMDb yet, I’ll take the time to announce Rufus’ latest movie project!

    I first heard about this project from Leo Gregory’s tweet, a British actor who has a supporting part in the film. Rufus will co-star with Gabriel Byrne and Toby Stephens in newcomer George Isaac’s directorial debut.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rufus has agreed to play the maverick law enforcement official. Byrne signed on to play the sadistic crime boss. And Stephens is all set to play Riley, a criminal trying to play both sides of a dangerous situation.

    I LOVE the cast and UK crime thrillers sounds awesome!! Check out the on-set picture of Rufus in London, click on the photo to see more pics. I’ll be sure to blog about this once we hear more about this movie.

So happy, happy birthday, Rufus!! Please join me in wishing this talented actor many happy returns!

Exclusive interview with Elise Plakke — director of ’14 Minutes’ Shorts

Hello everyone! As promised today we’ve got an exclusive post courtesy of Filmmaker Elise Plakke. Her short film won Best Short Film Award at Twin Cities Film Fest last September, and have won several other festival awards since. She even had her film screened at Cannes earlier this year!

I met Elise at the Women Filmmaker panel at TCFF and asked her if I could interview her about her film. Check out the film poster & trailer below and read about her journey to film.

14 Minutes:
An engaged American girl sets off on a road-trip to decipher her decision to get married in a few weeks by meeting up with a gruff, Canadian photographer whom she has never met to assist her in questioning standard notions of happiness.

At TCFF you mentioned that your profession has been a creative director. Then in 2009 you entered the Manhattan Short Screenplay competition where you won first place. So is writing been a longtime passion for you?
Since I was a child I have always enjoyed writing and have kept a journal. Since 2000 I have established an unpublished personal blog for poetry and short stories. I started writing 14 Minutes as a novel but my experience with the power of imagery from my graphic design and photo art direction lead me to want to show the story more than to describe it. After reading Syd Fields’ Foundation of Screenwriting, I turned my novel into my first screenplay, which won first place in the Manhattan Short Screenplay Contest. So yes, I have always enjoyed writing but screenwriting is new terrain for me.

What made you decide you wanted to make a short film out of your screenplay? Is it meant to be a stepping stone to a feature film in the near future? 
I decided to make the short to show my talent as a filmmaker before venturing into feature territory. I’m using it as a calling card for the feature, I’ve written the feature version of 14 Minutes and am seeking investors and striving to make the full next year.
Even from the trailer, it seems like it’s a deeply personal film… how did you come to write a screenplay from your own life experience?
Writing the script was a creative exercise that was cathartic. I came to realize what I thought I wanted in a relationship was not what I wanted at all. I began questioning what is considered standard notions of happiness, a marriage and a white picket fence at an early age was not my version of happiness. Moreover, I began to realize that in accepting relationships that would provide me the idealized notion of happiness — I was losing my voice in relationships. This became the theme of the film, to challenge people in relationships that are safe but not satisfying and to encourage them to listen to inward to themselves. The story line came from my own experience in meeting with a photographer who became my catalyst for change. People can enter your life for a very short amount of time and impart influence on our personal choices because they hold no preconceived narratives of us that would impede their judgement.
What has been your most memorable experience from making this film?
I had already had many opportunities directing large photo shoots from my experience at Hanson Dodge Creative in Milwaukee as a Sr. Art Director and as Sr. Photo Art Director at L.L.Bean in Maine. While these experiences were great, they were always for a corporation and the primary goal was to sell products. Directing my film was the journey to a new personal expression of my ideas armed with the experience of creating compelling imagery. Leaving behind the myopic revenue-generating corporate focus to fully pursue a creative endeavor has been fulfilling to myself and an unexpected payoff, it has served an inspiration to others who admire my leap of faith and are taking bold new steps in their lives.

What was the Cannes experience like? Was it a dream come true for you?

Yes, Cannes was an event I previously only followed through the media. It was an amazing hub of creative people and likely the largest international party scene. What I enjoyed the most was the networking day and night with the opportunities to interact with all levels of filmmakers, actors, writers, producers, executive producers. You were free to mingle in and out of pavilions for each country all along the beach. We were at the Calvin Klein party, Uma Thurman walks by — it’s just like that at every moment there is a celebrity or a whirlwind excitement of activity. Even with the all the excitement of seeing celebrities it wasn’t the reason I was as excited, I was excited to have my film there.

I believe you’ve just wrapped your feature film script for 14 Minutes, what’s the next steps for you to get the film off the ground? Who’s funding the film and do you have a cast in mind or will you be using the same cast as in the shorts?
We are working on the breakdown of the script to create Union and Non-Union budget. We are looking at shooting the film potentially internationally and comparing states to gain the best tax credits or rebates. The cast still remains in question but Jessica Embro is on the top of my list.
Now, as a female filmmaker, what do you think of the state of women filmmakers in Hollywood? It seems as if there just isn’t enough women filmmakers working today. What’s your reaction to such a sentiment?
I recently read that women now outnumber men at both medical school and law school. It is taking a lot longer for women to catch up in filmmaking than in medicine or practicing law those examples give me hope.  I am also optimistic because women tell different stories and we tell them differently. There have been many films expressed by men in every genre and an enormous amount of money used to create “masculine” films with insane action and special effects. As stunning as they are, it’s as if they have mollified an audience to an expected boredom. I feel the public is ready for different cinematic voices to beckon them to the theaters and provide thought-provoking, relationship-based stories. Now with opportunities for independent filmmaking it is truly a more accessible field for women to bring their fresh cinematic voices as feminine story-telling to make their films.

On a side note, although I didn’t intend to hire a majority female crew, it made more sense to be telling a “women’s narrative” to hire women. The women that were key talent on my film were Writer/Director, Cinematographer, 1st Ad, Lead Production Coordinator and let’s not forget Jessica Embro, lead actress.

Lastly, please share your top five favorite feature films directed by women and why.

  1. Lost in Translation directed by Sofia Coppola
    Having travelled to Japan in college I could relate to the anonymous feeling of “being” half way around the world and not being able to participate in the language and the sense of how it alienates you to a state of non-stop thinking without being able to talk to others. I connected with the searching that both main characters were going through — a search for a more involved partner and/or more nurturing, fulfilling relationship. Sofia Coppola shows how lonely someone can be even in a stable relationship and starved for affection in a way that has nothing to do with sexuality but an ambiguous calling to another fellow (random) human being for emotional understanding.
  2. An Education directed by Lone Scherfig
    This film tells a familiar story of a girl planning her life’s goal to enter college and study a subject that will (hopefully) become a career path and at the very same time shows the dream of a young girl falling in love for the first time. Lone Scherfig masterfully shows the naivety of young minds wanting to be independent but getting caught in the web of love. This film is placed in England in the 1960’s but is relevant today for all women who have had to self-sacrifice a career to be in love. By Lone putting this story in the past she creates objectivity and shows how confined women’s roles were then (their education consisted of gender-identifying roles of domesticity, dancing, proper etiquette, and posture) and calls us to look at the confinements today on women striving to have both careers and relationships. It’s a positive story that shows in retrospect how far females’ education have been equalized; and secondly provides the lesson how women should not rely on another person to bring them happiness and not reduce their own ambitions for love.
  3. Boys Don’t Cry directed by Kimberly Peirce
    The courage to tell an authentic story, and one that showcases desires from an under-represented population (in film) is why I admire Boys Don’t Cry. Kimberly Peirce brilliantly directs this film so that the audience finds compassion and begins to understand people with different sexual orientations than what our society is more familiar with understanding. The haunting performance delivered by Hillary Swank and Chloë Sevigny build fear, acceptance, rejection of many stereotypes that should be questioned in our society. Because this film challenges what we think we might have known to be true and creates empathy for people who would otherwise be less “relatable to ourselves”, it is one of my favorites.
  4. Whale Rider directed by Niki Caro
    Whale Rider is a favorite flick of mine due to it’s unique questioning of roles men and women play in society. In any society, the rituals for a culture have been established over hundreds or thousands of years and has deeply shaped our expectations for the traits and behavior pattern of our gender. Niki Caro beautifully portrays the quest of Pai to be the next whale rider when in the past it has only been a boy. She lures us into an important cultural rite of passage to be chosen as the next successor by the tribe as well as a whale by showing the continual determination Pai must face to be accepted in this traditional male role. She paints a picture to root for anyone with the gift who is overlooked due to gender biases. I commend the magnificence of this story previously only passed on verbally or in words, Niki creates a remarkably beautiful film that maintains it mysticism as an ancient fable that still holds lessons for modern society.
  5. Folle Embellie directed by Dominique Cabrera
    This film in English translated, Embellished Mad, takes place in France where an asylum opens it doors to evacuate its patients during WWII and the patients leave the chaperoned group to begin a misadventure of their own. The film has a sense of fairy tale unwinding as the characters walk into their unknown future. It shows hunger for exploring limits in one person’s capacity against another, as well as the wants and unknown desires felt as human beings for love, loyalty, independence, dependence, and self expression.

    The director, Dominique Cabrera, shows how ambiguous human beings are at having a double-sides; wanting freedom but needing protection, yearning for companionship but needing to follow your own compass, having habits and memories shape our present life more than the potential of what the future could bring. She intertwines our spirituality versus our nature or destiny. She leads the audience to root for people written off from the norms of society and how they hunger to reacquire what is interpreted as a “normal working life”. This feature builds vast emotions within all the characters without a lot of dialog, but with subtle expression and human gesture. I feel this a feminine interpretation of showing human nature, and teaches us how much we can learn by observation.

Check out 14 Films on Facebook or email Elise if you’re interested to see the full short film

What do you think of 14 Minutes’ trailer and poster? Please share your thoughts on her top 5 list as well.

Musings on Short Films — What are some of your favorites?

Hello all, in light of an upcoming interview with a short film director I met at TCFF, I thought I’d switch the focus from feature films to short films today.

Per Wikipedia, a short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.”

Historically, shorts were the norm before the 1920s, when longer films were still rare. My mom used to bring Laurel & Hardy films back when I was a wee kid, and along with Charlie Chaplin films, comedy shorts were popular back then before they became feature films. Nowadays, shorts generally rely on various film events to reach a larger audience. Most film festivals have a special category for them, as do the Academy Awards. Of course the Internet is a medium that short films thrive on. There are a plethora of sites dedicated for shorts, i.e. Short of the Week, The Smalls, Atom, etc. and my hubby goes to Vimeo often to watch shorts. I think he watches them more than I do. Judging from the impressive quality of a lot of short films, I really should watch more of them.

For the filmmakers themselves, making short films could lead to a breakthrough in their career when their work gets noticed. I posted this one called The Gift by Carl Rinsch on this post last year which is an impressive sci-fi short about a futuristic robot butler who flees the police. Granted Rinsch already had a successful career as a commercial director, but this short might’ve boosted his career big time and now he’s directing 47 Ronin, a samurai thriller with Keanu Reeves.

Short films I’m most familiar with are those by Pixar as they’re always shown at the beginning of their feature films. My favorite one is For the Birds… I mean it’s just so darn adorable!! It just proves not only the technical prowess of Pixar, but also their keen storytelling ability and in creating such fun characters. A few years ago, I also watched a bunch of those BMW short films, a series of eight shorts called The Hire starring Clive Owen. It’s a very clever way to market their luxury cars, and expensive too I reckon, as all of them are directed by famous directors such as Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Alejandro González Iñárritu, etc. Most of them are very impressive, they could almost work as a feature film as well if they’d invest on building the script.

I find that shorts are often more creative than feature films. Perhaps because a lot of them are created without the influence of studios, the purse-strings that dictate what the films are supposed to be. Creative freedom seems rather scarce these days, I mean just look at most of the mainstream offerings at your local cineplex.

So anyway, here are my five favorite shorts that I can think of at the top of my head. I posted Please! a couple of years ago but I watched it again recently and the ending still gave me chills. Some of these are whimsical and some are serious & heart-wrenching stuff, the World Builder one actually made me cry!

The Raven

Pixar’s For The Birds

World Builder

Please! starring Gerry Butler

BMW Films – The Follow starring Clive Owen


So are you a big fan of short films? Please do share some of your favorite short films you’ve seen.

Guest Post: Role Reversals – One Actor’s Misfortune is Another Actor’s Gain

Most of us know that actors turned down roles that would make the ones who accepted it become famous. There are many reasons why they didn’t accept these now famous roles, the main reason is probably they the film wouldn’t be a hit and probably their agents told them not to take it. Below are some well-known roles that were offered to different actors than the ones ended up playing the part and reap the benefits.

• The Bourne Identity (2002) Jason Bourne

Brad Pitt was actually the studio first choice to play the amnesiac spy but he turned it down so he could work on Spy Game with Robert Redford. Here’s the funny thing, Matt Damon was first offered Pitt’s role in Spy Game but he declined and decided to play Jason Bourne instead. I’m always wonder what The Bourne films would have been like had Pitt starred in them. Of course we all know both actors are doing fine but for comparison sake, I think Damon made the right choice since The Bourne Identity was a box office hit while Spy Game didn’t do that well in theater.

• Batman (1989) Bruce Wayne/Batman

So when Michael Keaton was cast as The Caped Crusader back in the 80s, a lot of comic book fans weren’t too thrill about it. The thing is though, he wasn’t Tim Burton’s first choice. Burton actually offered the Dark Knight role to Ray Liotta but he turned it down so he could star in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Even though I enjoyed both of Burton’s Batman films, I never like Keaton as The Dark Knight, I think Liotta would’ve been good in the role.

Michael Keaton definitely benefited from taking Batman role, besides playing the Dark Knight, he starred in quite a few films in the 90s. Liotta on the other hand, he played mostly supporting character or the villain.

• The Hunt For Red October (1990) Jack Ryan

Tom Clancy’s first novel was such a huge hit that when Hollywood was ready to adapt it for the big screen, they offered the prime role of Jack Ryan to the young and on the hot streak Kevin Costner. He turned it down so he could start working on a little film called Dances with Wolves. Of course the role went to Alec Baldwin and I think everyone was happy with the results. Costner won the Oscar for directing Dances with Wolves and the film was a huge box office hit.

Baldwin on the other hand though got screwed out of reprising his Jack Ryan role in the sequel Patriot Games, to read about it more go here. It’s a good read of what really went on the behind the scenes before cameras started rolling on Patriot Games.

First Blood (1982) John Rambo

There were quite a few actors who were considered for the role of Rambo, they include Clint Eastwood, John Travolta, Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman but Steve McQueen was the producer’s first choice from the beginning. But because of his crazy demands, the producers decided to not pursue him. McQueen was asking $1mil for his salary, a crazy number back in the late 70s and early 80s for an actor’s salary. Not only that but he said he’ll only read the script if the producers pay him $500,000 up front, of course they said no. I would love to have seen McQueen playing John Rambo but around that time, he was so anti Hollywood that he might’ve just phoned in the role had he accepted it. Of course we all know Stallone benefited from it since he owned the 80s with his Rambo and Rocky franchises.

Apocalypse Now (1979) Capt. Willard

Well Steve McQueen was also offered the lead role in this film and again he turned it down. Even though I thought Martin Sheen did a good job in the film, I always wish McQueen accepted the role. It would have been great seeing him going toe to toe with Marlon Brando. Of course it would’ve been a nightmare for Coppola, he’d have to deal with two big stars with huge ego.

Blade Runner (1982) Rick Deckard

Believe it or not Dustin Hoffman was actually the first choice to play Deckard and was even offered the role. He turned it down because he believed he didn’t fit the role and he was right. Maybe I’m a little bias since I love Blade Runner but I could never see anyone but Harrison Ford as Deckard, I know people always think of him as Indiana Jones or Hans Solo, but I think  of him as Deckard first before those other two roles.

Die Hard (1988) John McClane

Fox planned a sequel Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando, but Arnold didn’t want to do sequels at the time so they turned Commando 2‘s script into Die Hard and offered the role of John McClane to him; but he declined. Eventually Bruce Willis took the role after Sylvester Stallone, Richard Gere, Burt Reynolds and Mel Gibson all passed on starring in this film. I think we’re all grateful that Willis got the part right? Can you imagine seeing Arnold say the line: Yippee-ki-yay, motherf**ker.

(Sources: imdb.com, Cinescape magazine, behind the scenes documentary of each film)

[rtm’s note: Also check out my previous post Famous Roles That Got Away for more casting tidbits and find out which actor turn down the most high profile roles]

So those are the now famous roles that were turned down by some famous actors, do you prefer the original actor for the part or are you happy with one who accepted it? Also, if you know of any other roles that were turned down by famous actors, feel free to share with us.

700th Post! Thanks for all of your support!

Happy Monday, everyone!! I’m thrilled to tell you that you’re reading FlixChatter’s 700th post!

I’ve always loved movies, but ever since I started this blog, I’ve grown to appreciate films even more and have learned so much from fellow cinephiles. Blogging has given me something to look forward to every day, which is such a blessing!

I want to take the time to thank my loyal supporters… those who’ve not only made blogging the past couple of years worthwhile but also fun and rewarding! I started this blog on a whim so to have made 700th post is just friggin’ awesome!

Firstly, let me thank my fabulous contributors Ted S., Paula G., Becky a.k.a Prairiegirl and Vince C. who’ve kindly shared their love of movies with me this past year… as well as give me a blogging break once in a while. Thanks for your comments here as well, friends… really, comments are what make the blogging world go around right? My eyes always light up every time I see a new comment when I check my email, so with that, I want to say a BIG THANKS to my loyal commenters the past year:

Also special thanks to the two who’ve always made my day whenever they stop by: Jack Deth & Dave (ackackattack). I always learn new things from each one of your comment, keep ’em coming, guys! 😀

Lastly, I also want to give shout outs to some of my new friends who’ve enriched my blogging experience: Claire, Tyler, Lesya, Andina, Markus, Iba, Nostra, Max, Amanda, etc.

Well, with this blogging milestone, I also would like to know what made you come back to FC… and what feature(s) would you like to see more of here? Please let your voice be heard and once again… THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!