Music(al) Break: Moulin Rouge’s Come What May

I was dusting off my CD collection the other day and found my Moulin Rouge soundtrack I used to listen every day for like two months after seeing the movie. So I’ve been listening to the CD in my car now. I LOVE, LOVE this movie, it’s so original, artsy and passionate.

Image from Daniella’s Bureau website

In any case, the musicals genre just might be back in style, what with Rock of the Ages, Sparkle and Les Miserables coming out the same year. It’s tricky to do a good musical, but Moulin Rouge is certainly one of the most creative. Baz has a great eye for elaborate costumes and fantastical set pieces, he seems to subscribe in ‘more is more’ philosophy but it works well here. He’s also got an ear for music, even the anachronistic style of using classic songs from Elton John, Whitney Houston, etc. as a dialog between Christian and Satine is just brilliant. I adore the Elephant Medley up on the roof. The El Tango De Roxanne is absolutely thrilling, it definitely tops this list of five awesome movie tango scenes.

Ewan McGregor has never looked more bewitching and Nicole Kidman is perfect as the stunning but icy object of his affection. They both have wonderful singing voice so their duets are really great to listen to over and over Listening to Ewan singing Your Song made me wish he had recorded an album, his voice is just gorgeous, and he sings with such confidence and passion. I tell you, what is it with gorgeous Scottish actors being awesome singers? 😉

My ALL TIME favorite has got to be the love theme, Come What May


The song is composed by David Baerwald for the film, and I love how the song appears in the film as Christian wrote the song for the musical Satine is starring in. It’s his way to secretly declare their love for each other. I’m not a hopeless romantic but it certainly can turn me into one. I think this shall stand to be my favorite movie from Baz Luhrmann, he seems to have a thing for tragic love stories, doesn’t he?


Hope you enjoyed the music break. Are you a fan of Moulin Rouge?

THIS JUST IN: ‘Les Miserables’ First Trailer

Les Misérables is one of those Broadway plays I still haven’t got around to seeing. The acclaimed musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 French novel will probably gets a surge with the release of this latest film adaptation.

This movie adaptation does seem to have a lot going for it. I mean the male cast alone will get me to the theater pronto, I do enjoy musicals and also have a thing for tragic love stories. Behold its first trailer:

Prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). Set in early 19th-century France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the June Rebellion, or the Paris Uprising of 1832.

You all know I adore The King’s Speech, which nabs director Tom Hooper his first Oscar. Will he nab another nom with a musical? Well, if we’re to judge from this trailer, it certainly looks VERY promising indeed.

I’m not a huge fan of Anne Hathaway, but I’ve got to give it to her, that girl CAN sing! Her stirring rendition of I Dreamed A Dream rivals that of … Susan Boyle? Just kidding, Anne’s self-sacrificing Fantine sounds quite heart-wrenching. They’re definitely going with the emotional appeal here with just her singing and no dialog. I’m already tearing up watching this so I better stack up on tissues when I go see it. Apparently Hooper had the actors sing the songs live on set [as you can see in this video], which explains that high level of authenticity in the way the actors perform the song.

Props for these good looking actors on going the *ugly* route for the roles they play. I mean it’s like a bad hair day all around on the set, especially Anne and the hunky Aussie Hugh Jackman. As you’ve probably seen at the Oscars a few years back, these two can belt out a tune, all right. I’m so looking forward to seeing Jackman and fellow Aussie Russell Crowe facing off here. Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne are also part of the cast.

This movie opens the same day as The Hobbit here on December 14th. Now, of course I’ll be first in line for the LOTR prequel but I’ll definitely be checking this out on the big screen. So it’s Catwoman, Wolverine and Maximus singing together, brilliant! 😀


What say you, folks? Is this on your must-see list?

Memorial Weekend Viewing Roundup and LAMMY 2012 Updates

LOVE a four-day work week, don’t you? Well for us Americans, we enjoy an extra weekend day as Monday was Memorial Day. The weather was glorious on Monday so my friends and I spent most of the day outside picnicking at a small park.

I did do some blogging over the weekend as I got tagged to do the Best Actress Relay Race thing and also the Horseathon I signed up a few weeks back. So with the FCM Blogathon last week, that’s like 3 blog events in one week! 😀 It’s all in good fun of course, I enjoyed doing all of them.

Speaking of blog events, well I want to thank all of you who have voted for yours truly in the LAMMY 2012 Awards!

The nominations are in (which you can listen here or search for ‘LAMBcast’ on iTunes). I found out today that FlixChatter was amongst the seven nominees for Best Blog! WOW, that’s the one category I didn’t even campaign for as I didn’t think this wee blog would even qualify for the Big Kahuna. So THANK YOU friends [bowing head], I’m utterly grateful for simply being nominated, especially amongst such great company…

Congrats to my fellow nominees:
Stevee, Fogs, Ryan, Castor, Dylan and John!


While we’re at it, have you checked out the latest LAMB Acting School 101 featuring one of my fave actresses Cate Blanchett? No? Well, what are you waiting for? There are tons of awesome posts on the massively talented thespian.

Now, on to the weekend roundup…

I skipped the cinema again as there wasn’t really anything I really wanted to see. Moonrise Kingdom hasn’t made its way over to my neck of the woods. Apparently a lot of people went to see Men In Black III though, it made a whopping $70 mil domestically (over $200 mil worldwide), but according to EW, considering the $230 mil budget PLUS marketing and distribution cost, MIB 3 likely needs to take in at least $650 million just to break even!

So my weekend viewing consisted mostly of movie rewatch.

My girlfriends and I saw the 2008’s BBC miniseries Sense & Sensibility as one of my friends is really into Downton Abbey which also stars Dan Stevens. I really enjoyed this miniseries and it really was a pretty decent adaptation. But after watching this one, we all concluded just how superior the Ang Lee’s movie version is (my ALL TIME favorite movie, natch), and Emma Thompson’s script is just brilliant.

We do agree that Dan Stevens is far more compelling and attractive as Edward Ferrars. But Greg Wise is still the better Willoughby compared to Dominic Cooper so I guess that even things out 🙂
… 

 


I also couldn’t resist rewatching one of my guiltiest pleasures… somewhat inspired by my pal Terrence’s Celebrity Crush Confession post 🙂 Though he’s been somewhat absent for a while on this blog, I still carry a torch for Gerry Butler and this TV miniseries from 2001, Attila, reminds me why. He’s so ridiculously hunky as the king of the huns, his grey-green eyes never looked so piercing against his dark, tanned skin and that unruly jet black hair. Yes I’m well aware that the real Attila certainly doesn’t look like the 6’2″ Scotsman, but heh, historical accuracy be damned I say 😉

Seeing him here made me think he’s destined to play King Leonidas, his formidable screen presence is undeniable and he’s got this ruggedly regal aura about him that commands allegiance. Powers Boothe is great as his Roman friend/foe Flavius Aetius and Tim Curry provides some comic relief as the sneering Theodosius.
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One of my all time favorite sci-fi comedy, Galaxy Quest, is still as funny as the first time I saw it years ago. Man the cast is just awesome. I mean anything with Alan Rickman is bound to be awesome, plus there’s Sigourney Weaver, Tim Allen AND Sam Rockwell in a brilliant spoof of Star Trek and you’ve got yourself a comedy gold! I had forgotten about Rockwell’s part but man he really should do more comedies, he was a firecracker in Iron Man 2, especially when he’s showing off all the crazy weapons.

There are so many hilarious scenes to choose from but I think my fave part is the launch sequence when the crew’s trying to get the ship off the dock and Tommy had no idea to pilot a real ship. It keeps veering off to the left and scratch the sides, making this annoying squeeeeeEEEeeeEEEEeeeeee sound. Rickman’s expression here is just priceless! I’m glad I bought the Blu-ray as I wouldn’t mind watching this one over and over.


Well, that’s my weekend roundup. What did you watch this weekend? Anything good?

Old Hollywood Horse-a-thon: Seven Favorite Classic Scenes with Horses

Seems like there’s a bunch of great blog-a-thon lately, and thanks to Jeff Flugel from The Stalking Moon for tipping me about this one. Page from My Love of Old Hollywood is hosting this fine Horse-a-thon, click on the image below to see all the participants.

When I first signed up to do this post, I was only going to do a Top Five, but turns out there are quite a few great classic scenes involving horses so I decided to expand it to seven. I’m going to stick with Old Hollywood [with one exception] for this purpose, though I might do a contemporary list somewhere down the line. Ok, here we go:

The Big Country – Learning to ride the Old Thunder

I absolutely love this Western and no doubt James McKay is the quintessential ‘quiet hero’ that Gregory Peck does so well. This scene speaks so much about his humility but also tenacity in trying to tame his fiance’s wild horse The Old Thunder. It’s amusing to see Peck constantly being thrown off the horse but it’s also a perfect way to show just what kind of a man McKay is.

Duel in The Sun – Taming a Stallion

Ok, I’ve just got to include another scene with Peck only because the character is so very different from one another. The unscrupulous, bad-to-the-bone Lewt is as far a way from James McKay as one can get, a total opposite in every sense of the word. This scene shows how Lewt impresses the subject of his lust, Pearl, when he skillfully tames a stallion. Peck seems to revel in playing a bad boy, a role he rarely play in his illustrious career. I don’t know if they used a stunt double in this scene or not but if they did, the editing was really good as it looked as if Peck himself tamed the stallion, which is quite a feat!

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the ChristThe Sheik’s “Children”

Ok, when it comes to Ben-Hur, people naturally think of the spectacular 11-minute chariot race. And naturally, for it is the most magnificent horse-related scenes ever conceived on film. But I’d like to highlight this more lighthearted but still awesome scene of the wealthy Sheik showing off his *children*, those magnificent Arabian horses! I LOVE Hugh Griffith’s performance, he won Best Supporting Actor in this film, and deservedly so.

Gone With the Wind – “Just like Pa…”

This heartbreaking scene isn’t so much about the pony, but the impact of riding one has on the already frail marriage of Rhett and Scarlett. Scarlett’s already lost her father in a horse riding accident, so it’s harrowing to hear her say ‘Just like Pa’ as Bonnie stubbornly runs off in her pony, displaying her headstrong trait at such a young age, just like her mother. I still get chills every time I watch this scene.

My Fair Lady – ‘Move Yer Bloomin’ Arse!’

Oh who could forget this delightfully funny scene! Eliza Doolittle at Ascot being her old unhinged-self, ahah. I saw this as a young girl and my mom had to point out the class system thing. To this day I always find this scene — and Eliza herself — so darn amusing!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe Chase

There’s really not a lot of buddy duos more awesome than Paul Newman + Robert Redford combo. Both are ridiculously good looking, talented and have great on-screen chemistry to boot! This movie happens to be the horse-a-thon’s host Page’s choice so obviously she’d concur that this is an epic chase scene from one of the best classic westerns ever made.

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The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers – Gandalf’s charge at sunrise

Now I choose to include this one as I do think The Lord of the Rings trilogy is already a modern classic. There are sooo many great scenes involving horses in this franchise that we could easily do a top ten horse scenes just from the three films alone. But this one I think stands as one of the most grandiose and memorable, both in scale and in its plot significance. Peter Jackson set up this majestic scene marvelously, starting with our beloved hero Gandalf appearing on his white horse as the sun rises, glowing like an angel with hair blowing in the wind, ready to saves the day! He and King Theoden’s nephew Eomer and his army arrived in battle at just the right moment. The scene of the massive army on horseback descending down as Saruman’s evil creatures are blinded by the rising sun is just brilliant war strategy which makes for an epic scene that never fails to amaze me.


Well, what do you think of these scenes? Do share your own favorite classic movie scenes with horses.

The Ten Best Actress Of All Time Relay Race

Remember the Ten Best Actors of All Time Relay Race I did back in March? Well, The King of Blog Series Nostra @ at My Film Views is at it again, this time with the female counterparts of the race.

Here are the entries from the other participants so far in the Actresses Relay Race:

My Filmviews » The Velvet Cafe » Martin Teller » The Movie Review Warehouse » Benefits of a Classical Education » Just Another Movie Blog » Film Actually

If you’re curious to see where the Top 10 Best Actor’s race is at right now, check out Nostra’s Update
Well, I’m honored to receive the baton from my pal Dan @ Public Transportation Snob. And here are the original rules of the Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race from Nostra:

“I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actresses of all time. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actress (that is an obligation) and add his/her own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actress. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actresses. It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!”

Here is the current list of 10 actresses as it stands now:

Cate Blanchett

Katharine Hepburn

Julianne Moore

Barbara Stanwyck

Meryl Streep

Kate Winslet

Viola Davis

Juliette Binoche

Judy Garland

Ingrid Bergman

……


Now, picking who I’d like to add is easy and since the one actress I thought of right away is already on the list (hint: the only Aussie on the list), the second one I had in mind happens to be one of her co-stars. Of course, with the fun of choosing who to add comes the arduous task of having to remove one from the list. But hey, that’s what a race is all about right? So with a heavy heart, I choose to remove…

Judy Garland

I’m truly sorry to have to remove a classic actress but between her and Barbara Stanwyck whose work I have not seen, I’m afraid I have to choose miss Garland. Yes I know, most of you probably will cry foul at me for not having seen The Wizard of Oz, but it’s one of those classics that have eluded me to this day and frankly, I don’t know if I will ever see it. Interestingly enough, the 1937 original of A Star Is Born, is said to have been modeled after Stanwyck’s rise to stardom (per IMDb trivia) and Garland was nominated for an Oscar in the 1954 remake. In any case, I have no doubt Judy Garland is a great actress with a wonderful voice and an iconic role, but again, there’s only room for ten, so that’s that.

Now, the easy part.

The actress I think deserves to be on this list is…

Judi Dench

Ok, I didn’t plan on replacing a ‘Judy’ with another one with an ‘i’ but as I’m thinking of a best actress of ALL TIME, my mind just keeps going back to the Dame. She may be petite at 5’1″ but there is nothing diminutive about the 78-year-old English thespian. With six Oscar nominations and one win, plus twice as many BAFTA awards for her work in both TV and films, she is a force to be reckoned with. Not many actress, even of her caliber, could nab an Oscar for only being on screen for 8 minutes! But she did it in Shakespeare in Love in 1998.

I first saw her in Goldeneye as M [the first woman in that role, best casting ever!] but after seeing her in about 16 films, I realize that she’s as outstanding in period dramas as she is in an action thriller as those Bond films. I absolutely LOVE her performance as Queen Victoria in Her Majesty Mrs. Brown, and she often steal scenes even in brief parts, i.e. Pride & Prejudice as the high-and-mighty Lady Catherine de Bourg, the more lowly Mrs. Fairfax in Jane Eyre and also as a curmudgeonly grandmother with a secret in Chocolat. She shines even in so-so films like Nine and My Week with Marilyn, and often is one of the best things about the film.

I wish I could say that I have seen her stage performance as she’s as celebrated as a stage performer as she is a film actress, if not more so. She’s been nominated and won the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award as well as other prestigious theater honor for her stage work. I hope she will last a while in this *race* as I do believe she’s one of THE best actress in the business with 100 titles under her belt!


Who’s next?

I’d like Anna from Defiant Success to continue the relay, who’s well-versed in classic and contemporary cinema. I’m curious to see what she’ll do with the list 🙂


So, what do you think of my decision? Agree/disagree? Well, let’s hear it!

Musings on ‘The Great Gatsby’ trailer

The Great Gatsby. Even the title intrigues me. I was hoping to jump into that Scott F. Fitzgerald novel as soon as I finish Anna Karenina. But since I’ve pretty much stalled on that one, I’m tempted to abandon the Russian aristocrat doomed love story and move on to um, well another doomed love story, this time in America’s opulent society.

I’ve talked about the casting, plot, etc. in this spotlight post a while back, and generally I’m quite optimistic about this whole project. But that is before we see a trailer… behold:

With a name like Baz, he’s bound to be eccentric. And truly, this Aussie director’s work exemplifies it… kooky, anachronistic, loud, over-the-top, but always stylish. LOVE his work in Moulin Rouge!, which is one of my favorite musicals. I appreciate Romeo + Juliet but didn’t love it per se, and Australia, well, I only saw parts of it on TV and didn’t really care to see the entire thing. So will his latest wow me? I can’t really tell from the trailer, frankly, as it’s quite… um, baffling.

In case you didn’t know what the story is about:

Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.

Anyway, here’s just 10 musings about the trailer:

  1. The first thing that came to mind is… this is Moulin Rouge! in the roaring 20s. Baz likes to party… perhaps that makes him the perfect director for this? Glitz, decadence and opulence-obsession seems to be the order of the day in Gatsby’s world.

  2. Leo, oh Leo. He was Baz’s Romeo and now that he’s all grown up, he’s Jay Gatsby. He’s supposed to be this aloof, elusive multi-millionaire, but DiCaprio seems to be a picture of pent-up angst instead of cool confidence. I hardly ever see him without his furrowed brows any more, is that becoming his signature acting style?
  3. Anachronism is nothing new in Baz’s movies. He always mixes modern music with period setting which he did to great effect in Moulin Rouge!, but I’m not fond of it as much here. I mean Auto-Tune? Seriously? I don’t mind the U2’s Love is Blindness though, I mean the message fits the story, maybe a bit too obvious, but hey Baz doesn’t do subtle 😀
  4. I’ve always liked Carey Mulligan, and instantly I think she’d make a good Daisy. The 1920s dresses suit her well.

  5. I like Tobey Maguire‘s casting as Nick Caraway better than Leo as Gatsby, but still curious to see the two real-life BFFs working together on screen. Oh and Bollywood movie star Amitabh Bachchan as Gatsby business associate is inspired casting!
  6. The moment Jay meets Daisy… it reminds me of the scene when Romeo sees Juliet through the aquarium, but minus the pubescent giggles.
  7. Glad I didn’t hate Joel Edgerton‘s mustached-look as Tom Buchanan, though he looked even more like Conan O’Brien, ahah. Methinks either him or Maguire would steal a ton of thunder from Leo.

  8. Great period costumes and set pieces… Yet they don’t feel real to me, yes I know that a fantasy period drama is what Baz is going for but still. The retro vibe is there but it looks more like a bunch of contemporary folks in a huge costume ball, dressing and partying like it’s 1922.
  9. Will this be style over matter? Well that’s probably a silly question given the director’s flair but I’m still hoping there’s some substance and emotional grip amidst all the topsy-turvy.
  10. Remind me again just what could filming in 3D possibly add to this story?? Am I the only one scoffing and laughing at the same time when that 3D logo came on at the end? Seems excessive… even for Baz Luhrmann.


Ok, that’s my take. What do YOU think of the trailer and/or The Great Gatsby project?

The FCM Blog-a-thon — What movie(s) will become a Future Classic?

What a brilliant idea! My pal Paula, who’s a confirmed TCM addict, have often wondered what movies from the 21st century would stand the test of time, like CasablancaGone With The Wind or Out of the PastInstead of just mulling those over on her own, she decides to get all of us movie bloggers to join in on the fun. And so the FUTURE CLASSIC MOVIES (FCM) BLOGATHON was born.

So what do we have to do? Well, we get to pick a movie (or more) from 2000 or later, and writes about why they think it will endure to become a Future Classic. 


To me, the key to a film’s endurance has to do with the main subject matter itself, whether its theme will resonate with people no matter what age/era. The reason Casablanca achieved its iconic status and can still be enjoyed by a new generation 70 years later is that the theme of lost love, patriotism and sacrifice are all something we can relate and aspire to, no matter how many years have passed since WWII.

All of these films below are visually stunning, but just like people, looks can only be interesting for so long. It’s the substance and message that makes a movie timeless. 

So with that in mind, here are three that I think has the ingredients to become a Future Classic.

It should be obvious but spoilers may be present in this post,
consider yourself warned. 

Gladiator

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’d likely know I adore this film. It’s the first film that came to mind when Paula invited me, and in my mind, it already IS a classic and I believe generations to come would still appreciate this one even decades from now.

I selected the very same film two years ago for a blog-a-thon called Movies That Makes Going to the Movies Suck as this Ridley Scott masterpiece pretty much launched a trend of swords-and-sandals flicks that threatens to tarnish the original’s legacy. One sign of an enduring film is that some of its quotes are still used even today, but of course that alone won’t make a *classic* if it doesn’t have an engrossing story and fused with a thrilling spectacle of action and memorable performances.

Brain, brawn and heart… there’s not a lot of films that capture all three perfectly, and still manage to impress us visually with its amazing cinematography. Oh, and there’s the soundtrack. I still get chills listening to Now We Are Free, it speaks so beautifully about Maximus’ humanity. Oh I long to see this film on the big screen once again in all its glory.

HUGO

A love letter to the movies, what could be more timeless? At first glance, Scorsese’s first family film seems to be about this 12-year-old orphan boy Hugo Cabret who lives in a railway station. That’s pretty much as much as I know when I went it to see it, so what a joy it is when the film takes us into a journey that ties the boy with a real life French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès.

Loneliness, abandonment, disillusionment are sentiment any of us can relate to as we’ve all felt it at some point of another. No matter how modern technology has evolved, even when we’re able to watch movies via a hologram or what have you, our humanity is what will connect us across generations. And that’s what films do in many ways. That’s why *classic* films shall always have a place in the modern world and years to come. Our great, great grand-kids will still likely be fascinated by how the past generations create the films that  become the medium they enjoy today.

The 1930s world with that marvelous vintage clock where Hugo lives in is absolutely enchanting. There’s something so magical about the way its filmed that captures your imagination. 3D will become old news one day but its charm and heartwarming story won’t likely be lost with the passing time.

[read my Hugo review]

Midnight in Paris

Here’s another one from 2011 that’s also nominated for Best Picture Oscar. I didn’t plan it that way, but I do think both films has that certain everlasting charm, and not only because they’re both set in the city of lights. The fixation with time period of past and present drives the story here and the idea of time travel certainly has a lasting effect in cinema. It’s similar to Woody Allen’s other time travel fantasy The Purple Rose of Cairo, but even more beguiling.

The protagonist Gil is obsessed with a bygone era of the 1920s, so when he’s somehow magically transported to that period at midnight, the *lost generation* looks ever so fresh and as fascinating as ever. We watch in awe just like Gil marveling at its beauty… the car, the clothes, the music… and of course the seemingly immortal personas like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso… the people in history books that we’ll always treasure for years to come.

What’s more, the predicament Gil faces is something we can all relate to. No, I’m not talking about his obsession with a certain era, but about pursuing his dreams and having the courage to break free from his stifling life to do so.

“Maybe the present is a little unsatisfying because life is a little unsatisfying” – Gil

The message about appreciating one’s life in the present will also resonate well no matter what era one lives in. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned that Paris in the rain in the finale, it doesn’t get any more timeless than this.

[read my Midnight in Paris review]


Do check out what other films people think will become a Future Classic.


Well, what do you think of my picks? Feel free to share what movie(s) you think have a long-lasting appeal.