Monthly Viewing Roundup & Favorite Film of January 2013

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Last day of the month already and I must say I’m glad January is over. It’s been one of the coldest Winter months yet with up to a week (maybe more) of subzero temps! I hope only one more month left of this brutal frigid weather.


As is customary for the beginning of the year where people make their new year resolutions, the gym I go to has been so much busier and the classes are more packed than usual. Now I wish my blog hits has the same effect, but I find that FC’s been getting a significantly less traffic in January. I don’t know why that is as my blogging pattern (5 days a week) and commenting frequency across the blogosphere remains relatively the same as it’s always been. Am I the only one experimenting this? Or maybe I should start something new? Perhaps some of you could share how your blog traffic has been like in January?

In any case, I’ve had 22 posts so far this month, 23 including this one. Here are some of the posts and reviews you might’ve missed:

I also introduced a new monthly series… Traveling Through Cinema… starting with In Bruges! I might venture to Italy for the next one 😉

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It’s been a pretty good mix of new releases and older movies, though I only managed to see one classic movie this month, for shame!

Movies I haven’t seen before:

Rewatches:

  • Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
  • The Living Daylights
  • The IT Crowd


So 14 movies in January. That’s not a bad month for me considering I usually only had time for about 10 or so a month and January is kind of the dumping ground for movies anyway. Hopefully I get to see more in Spring, though there’s no movie I’m anticipating in February and the only planned screening I’ll be going to next week is A Good Day To Die Hard.

Favorite Movie Seen in January:

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I know some of you aren’t surprised considering I’m a James Bond aficionado 😉 But seriously, this is one of the most insightful and entertaining documentaries ever. I highly recommend this for anyone who likes documentaries and an intriguing story, regardless of how you feel about 007. Of course if you are even slightly into the franchise, this is absolutely essential viewing!


So, what movies did you get to see in January and which one is your favorite?

The Flix List: Pompous Jerks in Cinema

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Having seen many hours of cinematic entertainment, I’ve developed a rather discerning pallet in regard to actors and the various roles they play. And have noted a few here for mass discussion and dissertation. Tough guys. Femme Fatales. Saps. The Superb Louse and the like. There is one classification the has both eluded and annoyed me for some time. To the point where over time, a vast array has been whittled and winnowed down to a mere single digits.

To that end. Allow me to reminisce. And possibly vent while noting with dignified praise.

Pompous Jerks in Cinema:

Everyone has seen at least one example of this variant of this petty annoyance in one film or another. The overbearing boss who has to have things done his way. As with Everet Sloane’s heartless, hard as nails Walter Ramsey in Rod Serling’s Patterns. Or Louis Calhern’s scheming, almost high society bank roller of diamond heists in John Huston’s premiere The Asphalt Jungle. Even William H. Macy’s Vice Principal, and later Principal Wolters in Steven Herek’s Mr. Holland’s Opus comes close but does clear the bar I’ve set quite high.

This time I am skimming the crème de la crème from the top of this petulant June bug of characters. And the actors who proudly wear its mantle of ill timed and impolite words, arguments and actions as a second skin and custom fitted suit. Waving their shortcomings for all to see. Not caring if you wince or not. And sometimes creating a lucrative cottage industry from their less-than-attractive labors.

#3: Joe Pantoliano

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Caught my attention two decades ago as a guest star on NBC’s superb cop show, Hill Street Blues. Where Mr. Pantoliano played a rather sleazy, low level fence paying protection to two dirty cops from another precinct. Forced to wear a wire to entrap the corrupt cops in an intervention that doesn’t end well. Mr. Pantoliano’s resulting beat down and visit to a clinic whining to the Hill’s plain clothes detectives, Washington and LaRue marked this rising upstart as one to watch.

And he didn’t disappoint. Turning in a memorable role as Bail Bondsman, Eddie Moscone. Whose store front business holds the $100, 000 paper (Bail Bond) on Mafia accountant, Charles Grodin’s Jonathan Mardukas in Martin Brest’s Midnight Run, four years later. A laid back, yet born conniver, Eddie has his best bounty hunter, Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) jump through hoops on a cross country jaunt from New York to L.A. to collect the full sum. Unbeknownst to Walsh. Eddie has also sold the paper to a competing bounty hunter, Marvin. (John Ashton) as the Mafia and FBI strain at the leash to intercede. In one of the best road trip comedies of the 1980s!

A respite of sorts was needed as Mr. Pantoliano honed his oily sleaziness in television as obnoxious grown up street punk, turned informant, Vinne Greco in N.Y.P.D. Blue after making his mark in 1993. As Tommy Lee Jones’ wizard Tech Guy, Cosmo Renfro in The Fugitive. Full of himself, yet constantly seeking vindication from Jones’ Deputy Sam Gerard. Mr. Pantoliano is a wonder to watch as he is constantly, effortlessly put in his place. Only to return for more of the same.

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Leaving Mr. Pantoliano wide open for his role as family flunky, money launderer and never to be right hand man, Caesar. In the Wachowski’s Bound from 1996. Wrapping himself in the robe and garments of pompous jerk-dom, Pantoliano’s Caesar is forever stuck as a central cog in a lucrative machine. With no chance at all of advancement and enjoying the illegal, protected fun that his rival, Johnnie Marzzone (Christopher Meloni. Even more spolied and sleazy!) indulges in as the Boss’s ‘made’ and only son.

An opportunity arrives in the form of $2,000,000 in just laundered cash. Which Caesar wishes to make a gift of to his Boss, Gino. (Noisily played by Richard Sarafian). In the hopes of buying some esteem. While being nervously unaware that his stunningly sexy, clever and loose wife, Violet (Jennifer Tilly. Enough said!) and her ex-con girlfriend, Corky (Gina Gershon. Rarely better!) have other plans for Caesar’s big night.

Boys will be boys. And have their own little formalities and rituals for greetings and drinks and such. And Violet has a rough idea of how long each will take. As Corky finds and steals the Samsonite cased money. Violet watches from a safe distance. As Caesar, already a bit hammered, is asked by Gino to give obnoxious Johnnie the same respect he gives him. Things start heading south in a hurry from there. As arguments ensue, egged on by Johnnie. As words, then fists fly and pistols are drawn. Johnnie is dropped first. Then Gino. And Caesar is left to in a panic to clean up the mess.

Creating another window of opportunity for Mr. Pantoliano to ply his craft in another Wachowski project, The Matrix. As the always wise cracking, constantly under appreciated, treasonous, Cypher. Who knows the inner working of The Matrix intimately, but still has dreams of a much more affluent, better life within it. As he feeds information and plots with the much smarter and glib, Agent Smith. Only to lose it rather messily in the third turn before the big subterranean showdown between Neo and Agent Smith.

Leaving the middle slot open for:

#2: Steve Buscemi

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A long suffering Sensei of Pompous Jerkdom. Who started getting noticed in small roles in King of New York, Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink. Mr. Buscemi firmly planted his feet into this realm of character as Mr. Pink within the first ten minutes of Quentin Tarantino’s updated, 1992 French New Wave heist gone bad premiere, Reservoir Dogs. Going above and beyond in his ridiculous, roundabout, and verbose refusal to add to the crew’s collected tip for their waitress. Only to finally concede to the crew’s money man and boss (Lawrence Tierney) , Joe Cabot’s demand to “Cough up a buck you cheap bastard.”

Setting the stage for a long day’s journey into darkness. As the proposed diamond heist turns into a shooting galley that sends the crew’s five members scattering in all directions with the police close behind. Buscemi’s Mr. Pink has a close quarters shoot out with two foot patrolmen. Takes a car and gets away with the satchel of diamonds. While novice, Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) and veteran. Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) abandon their getaway car and the recently deceased Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino). Make their way on foot. Ambush and blast a responding patrol car in a hail of bullets. Steal another. Only to have Mr. Orange be gut shot for their efforts.

It is in the following passage of time where Mr. Buscemi revels in his character. More than a bit scared and coming off an adrenaline rush. Not really caring as Mr. Orange slowly bleeds out. Comparing notes with Mr. White while trying to figure out what went wrong and why? As Mr. Orange pushes his oily hair away from his face. Continually claiming to be “a professional” while his words and actions reveal otherwise. As a shouting contest become a fist fight and devolves into a pistols drawn standoff before Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen. Never more psychotic!) makes his entrance. And things start to get really interesting!

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Mr. Buscemi’s next sojourn into the realm of the annoyingly absurd would be under the Coen brothers guidance in Fargo four years later. As three time loser and criminal klutz, Carl Showalter. Who has the bad luck of teaming up with Peter Stormare’s psychotic, homicidal hockey fan, Gaear Grimsrud. While constantly falling prey to rapidly running his mouth while his brain is not engaged. Often in a ‘rat-a-tat-tat’, circling around the point, but never getting to it fashion that would make Jack Lemmon smile. All signs of a damaged schlub who has achieved the zenith of his pitiful existence. Trying to make sense of and hold together a kidnapping gone wrong and collect its ransom. While the light at the end of the tunnel recedes and glows ever dimmer.

A tolerable enough situation. Especially opposite Stromare’s Gaere Grimsrud. Who speaks, if ever; in monosyllabic brevity. Until Carl gets shot in the face and events slowly spiral out of control from there.

Mr. Buscemi’s next drive into the deep end of the pool, as “Map of the Stars Eddie” in John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. later that year. A role that leans far more towards pomposity than being a jerk. With the former writ large. In that Mr. Buscemi’s Eddie knows every inch of post-quake L.A.. And Kurt Russell’s “Snake” Plissken does not, and needs a road map. Eddie’s inner jerk comes out as well. Oil glazed and adorned in a snap brim fedora and two bit, chili mac pimp shark skin. Giving Snake a verbal, never ending run around the razed L.A. city scape. While constantly scheming to sell Snake to the highest bidder as the clock ticks down.

Setting the table for probably Mr. Buscemi’s most memorable role. As Theodore Donald “Donny” Kerabastos. The annoying third wheel, friend and bowling buddy of Jeff Bridges’ incredibly laid back and and equally unwitting “The Dude” Jeffrey Lebowski. And John Goodman’s noise and bluster, Walter Sobchak. In the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski two years later. A masterpiece of mistaken identities. A kidnapping often too convoluted to follow. Low rent, new wave L.A. culture wars. A stolen rug that really tied The Dude’s room together, and of course. Bowling.

Giving Mr. Buscemi’s Donny every opportunity to offer often useless advice. When not inanely questioning everything. While resoundingly being told by Walter to “Shut the f**k up, Donny!” A hapless role, but one given an unique kind of terrier tough dignity for his time on the screen. In a subtle mix of drama, mystery, self medicating musical, surrealism and comedy that bears several viewings to completely understand and appreciate.

Now. Many are probably asking, Who could possibly be a bigger pompous jerk than Joe Pantoliano and Steve Buscemi?!!!” And more than a few may disagree, but that is what this site is for. The polite discussion of film. Its characters and execution. And how those films made their marks.

Okay. Here goes!

#1: Richard Dreyfuss

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First caught my attention in a big way as the insufferably conceited, Thompson-sub-machine-gun-toting gangster, Baby Face Nelson in the John Milius written and directed Dillinger from 1973. A film that for its small budget still has more “Bang for the Buck!” and is more faithful to locations and history than Michael Mann’s recent Public Enemies.

For a relatively wet behind the ears neophyte with some television and meager, walk on film time under his belt. To hold his own and make his character memorable against stalwarts Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and Harry Dean Stanton takes courage and confidence. To pull it off takes talent. And Mr. Dreyfuss does have talent. Which will be explored even further in.

George Lucas’ superbly sound tracked and edited, near documentary, American Graffiti later that same year. Mr. Dreyfuss’ Curt seems oddly out of place and playing younger than the rest of the cast as he rides around with his buddies. Contemplating his future when not falling instantly in love with Candy Clark’s mysterious Marilyn Monroe behind the wheel of a classic White T-Bird hardtop. Or pulling off a rear axle yanking prank on a traffic cop’s patrol car and being initiated into Bo Hopkin’s local gang of street toughs, the “Pharaohs”. When not riding around. Watching “Ozzie & Harriet” through a department store window. Or trying to get together with old flames. Curt’s world is all about Curt. And he lets everyone know it. A constant down beat to a final cruise along the L.A. strip before the uncertainty of growing up in the last days of Camelot. Thankfully, Mr. Dreyfuss had the wisdom to avoid a second trip to the well in More American Graffiti six years later.

In the interim, Mr. Dreyfuss drew attention and credibility to himself in Ted Kotcheff’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Where his younger son, Duddy tries to make a name for himself through land ownership in post WWII Montreal. Chutzpah replaces innate pomposity in a time where Anti-Semitism was still alive and well. As his anger rises and Duddy lashes out and hurts himself and his family’s standing on more than one occasion. In an intriguing, well detailed film well worth its kudos and awards.

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Though there is still room for pomposity as Robert Shaw’s Quint is added to the mix. And the old sea captain goes out of his way to show Hooper that he is not impressed. On land and on the water.

Which brings Mr. Dreyfuss back under Spielberg’s reins for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Where his pompous jerk rises to the occasion in a few notable, confrontational scenes with the federal government. Commenting on a photo of The devil’s Tower in Wyoming. “Yeah, I have one in my living room just like it.” Before trying to get some answers from those who have no intention of giving any.

Mr. Dreyfuss’ next project. Herbert Ross and Neil Simon’s collaboration in The Goodbye Girl allows his character, Elliot Garfield to positively revel in being a pompous jerk for about two thirds of the film. Being an out of work, often egotistical New York actor is to many that phrase’s definition. And Mr. Dreyfuss runs beyond the bleachers with it. Turning Marsha Mason’s single mom, Paula McFadden and her precocious daughter, Lucy’s (Quinn Cummings) lives upside down without a moment’s notice. Storming through their small apartment in a continuous monologue that leave Paula and Quinn rattled until questions are asked and answered late into the night.

Things improve only slightly as domesticity is sought. Though never really attained until after what is possibly the worst stage adaptation of Richard III is endured and Elliot hits rock bottom. Pulls his head  from his backside. And decides that things can only get better with time, Paula and Lucy.

I’m going to combine Mr. Dreyfuss’ next two outings. The Competition from 1980. And Whose Life Is It Anyway the following year. Mr. Dreyfuss’ penchant for being a pompous jerk actually works to his benefit in both. In The Competition, his character, Paul Dietrich is a very talented concert pianist who’s approaching the end of the line, career wise. A solid competitor for grant money, who always comes in second or third. With one final chance at greatness. The problem is Amy Irving’s Heidi Schoonover, whose equally, if not slightly better. Mr. Dreyfuss dial both back as he falls in love with Heidi. And it all boils down to two memorable piano movements.

While in John Badham’s Whose Life Is It Anyway, Mr. Dreyfuss plays sculptor Ken Harrison. Who’s paralyzed from the neck down after a tragic car accident. One moment, the world is your oyster. And the next, bedridden and immobile. What else does Mr. Harrison have left in his arsenal besides his mordant, sometimes morbid wit to berate doctors, nurses and pass the time. In a film that was asking questions about life and dignity thirty years ago. That are still being struggled with today. Kudos to Mr. Dreyfuss, Badham and a superlative cast for taking on such a project!

Which brings us to Mr. Dreyfuss’ most recent indulgence in jerky pomposity. His role as political, world events bad guy, Alexander Dunning in RED. Playing a medium-sized fish in a very large pool with gusto and elan. Who thinks he’s more clever, smarter and well-protected from those he’d done wrong than he truly is. Arrogant, conceited and always believing he has the upper hand. Until confronted by Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich. Mr. Dreyfuss isn’t on the screen for long, but those moments are golden!

Overall Consensus:

The three actors mentioned have exceptional bodies of work. With Mr. Pantoliano and Mr. Buscemi finding comfortable niches in television. Specifically, HBO’s The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. Which does not detract from their abilities in earlier and hopefully future roles to be fascinated and repulsed by their characters and performances. One of the reasons we go to films. To be amused, entertained and sometimes shocked. And these three hold that banner high.

With Mr. Dreyfuss leading the pack in consistently make my eyes roll back as I whispered “Aw, Jeez!” at his occasional blatant audacity. Only to make it something of a trademark to look forward to with the passage of time.


Check out Jack’s profile page and links to his other reviews



Well, what do you think of Jack’s picks of pompous jerks in cinema? Do share your thoughts about this list in the comments.

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: British Crime Drama ‘All Things To All Men’

A new contractor at my office who just started last week made an observation the other day when he stopped by my cube. “Are you a bit of an Anglophile?” I asked him why he thought so, then he pointed out to my Skyfall poster, London desktop pics, and other British-related memorabilia all over my desk. Well, considering my penchant for British cinema and actors, I guess I’ve been suffering from a seemingly-incurable case of Anglophilia 😉

The point of that story is that I LOVE movies set in Britain, and I’ve been waiting patiently for All Things To All Men for quite some time. I mentioned it nearly a year ago on this ensemble cast post, and for a while all I’ve got to go on is this photo:

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Gabriel Byrne & Toby Stephens

Well, finally we’ve got some great news about its release date… well for my friends across the pond that is. It’s set to open nationwide across the UK on March 8, no news on the US release yet, though 😦

Special thanks to Stella from Byrneholics for the tip, we’re both thrilled that Irish thespian Gabriel Byrne has the lead role, with two equally hunky Brits Rufus Sewell and Toby Stephens. Before we get to the synopsis, lets look at some official first pics first, shall we?

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Here’s the synopsis:

When Riley (Stephens), a professional thief, is hired to pull off the ultimate sting, he is unwittingly drawn into a deadly cat and mouse game between maverick police detective Parker (Sewell) and renowned London crime lord Joseph Corso (Byrne). Parker is determined to bring down Corso and do whatever it takes to end his reign, but when the sting backfires and stakes get higher, Riley finds himself at the centre of a battle where the line between the law and crime are blurred beyond recognition.

Per Empire, the film’s written and directed by George Isaac, who’s already a successful producer with Kidulthood and Adulthood and a BAFTA nominee for short film Nits, and also stars Elsa Pataky (Chris Hemsworth’s wife), James Frain, Julian Sands and Leo Gregory.

Byrneholics site has the full press release, which states that the film is shot entirely in London. I found some pics of Rufus on the set last year:

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Sorry, no larger pics available without watermark, photos are from CapitalPictures.

Man, I absolutely can’t wait for this movie! I love crime dramas and the premise sounds intriguing. The fact that this is a smaller production and set on location makes me want to see it all the more. Of course the cast is just splendid! I’ve always thought Byrne is perfect in a noir crime drama, and this role is similar to the one I cast him in this Moran’s Epilogue movie pitch as a former gangster. Sewell is a massively underrated actor, but I hope he gets a role he could really sink his teeth into. I’m not as familiar with Stephens’ work as a whole, though I adore his mum, Dame Maggie Smith. Unfortunately I’m not fond of the only two roles he did that I saw, Bond villain in Die Another Day and Rochester in 2006 BBC’s Jane Eyre, but I give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll be good here.

Man, I hope the trailer’s going to be released soon… and more importantly, this will get a cinema release here in the US, even if it’s a limited one.


Well, thoughts on this movie and/or cast? Would you go and see this?

Weekend Roundup: Puncture & Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, BBC’s Emma (2009)

Happy Monday all! It’s been a quiet weekend for me, I barely went out on Sunday as we’ve got everything old man Winter has got to offer. Frigid temp is not enough apparently, so we’ve got dumped with snow, sleet and freezing rain all afternoon. Perfect weather for staying in however.

Apart from going to Side Effects screening on Thursday [review later this week], I pretty much turned to Netflix and some borrowed movies from friends. Here are my mini reviews:

Puncture (2011)

PuncturePosterAs this comes out the same year at Captain America, no wonder this B movie gets lost in the shuffle. I remember seeing the trailer and I thought this must be a way for Chris Evans to show he’s got acting brawn on top of his physical one. I’ve got to admit I was curious to see how Evans fare as a drug-addicted lawyer who takes on a health supply corporation on behalf of a nurse who got punctured by a contaminated needle and contracted HIV.

It’s a David and Goliath legal drama that resembles the battle between a whistle blower and the tobacco giant in The Insider, but unfortunately the similarities ends there. The direction style is far less inferior, not exactly as gripping as the based-on-a-true-story premise. Apparently Evans’ co-star Mark Kassen directed the movie with his brother Adam, and this was their first feature film. Evans himself is quite convincing in his role, though his training as the First Avenger makes him look much too buff to play a junkie.  I really doubt the real-life Mike Weiss has a ripped 8-pack abs as he spent all his days either studying his case or snorting cocaine. Interesting to see Vinessa Shaw twice in one week [she has a small role in Side Effects], she was pretty good here as the HIV-infected nurse. The casting of Michael Biehn here is very baffling as he’s not given hardly anything to do at all, and his character’s portrayed as being so mysterious for no good reason.

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Despite the heartbreaking premise and a well-intentioned effort, the movie is pretty forgettable. Some scenes were over-dramatized and others are not substantial enough. The film also seemed to suggest the fate of Mr. Weiss is not as simple as an overdose, but there’s no follow up of that. I don’t think the ambiguity serves the film well at all. In any case, under a more experienced filmmaker, this could’ve been more engrossing.

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2.5 out of 5 reels


Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012)

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As a massive Bond fan, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this documentary until my hubby told me about it a few days ago! I’m also ashamed to say that I just realized what EON Productions stand for, and it’s really an apt title considering the length the producers had to go through in bringing the Bond books to the big screen. Here’s the full synopsis per 007.com:

Everything Or Nothing focuses on three men with a shared dream Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and author Ian Fleming. Its the thrilling and inspiring narrative behind the longest running film franchise in cinema history which began in 1962. With unprecedented access both to the key players involved and to Eon Productions extensive archive, this is the first time the inside story of the franchise has ever been told on screen in this way.

The producer of this doc is John Battsek who also produced the Oscar-nominated Searching for Sugar Man, and I’m happy to say that this film absolutely delivers. It was not only well-done in terms of productions, filled with fun footage from various Bond films and accompanied by John Barry’s fantastic Bond music, this has become my favorite documentary ever. Yes of course the subject matter is of great interest of mine, but there’s much to be said about its production quality and exceptional access to the inside story of the key players.

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Broccoli, Connery, Fleming and Saltzman

Though I’ve heard about the split up of Broccoli and Saltzman, it’s still quite tragic to see. The same with how George Lazenby threw fame away as quickly as he gained it, and the rift involving Connery and the producers, especially between him and Saltzman. It’s such a treat to see all Bond actors appear in the film to talk about their Bond role, interesting that all of them has their share of struggle surrounding it. The film paints a very sympathetic picture of the late Cubby Broccoli in particular, but his history certainly checks out, without a doubt he loved the character of Bond all the way back to how he’s written by Ian Fleming. It would seem that his involvement in this lucrative franchise went above and beyond the chase for profit.

Kudos to director Stevan Riley for crafting a compelling documentary that’s as thrilling and entertaining as the Bond adventures. Certainly there’s as much at stakes unfolding behind the camera as in front of it, the drama involving Kevin McClory, one of the producers of the oh-so-ill-advised Never Say Never Again is especially riveting. I had just seen the documentary on Ian Fleming that’s included in The Living Daylights Blu-ray recently, so some of the details on the famed author was already known to me. Yet it’s still fascinating to learn about it, I’d certainly be interested in seeing his biopic. This film definitely enhances my appreciation for one of my most favorite movie franchises. A must-see for anyone who’ve seen at least one Bond movie, and absolutely essential for any Bond fan.

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4.5 out of 5 reels


BBC TV’s EMMA (2009)

BBC_Emma2009I’m quite fond of Romola Garai, whom I think is one of the most underrated British talents ever. So when my co-worker lent me the dvd of the 2009 BBC adaptation of Emma with her in the starring role, I couldn’t wait to watch it. I always felt that the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow to be just ok, well apart from Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley of course. Oh how I’d love to see him as Knightley in THIS adaptation.

Emma is not my favorite of the Jane Austen’s collection, that would be Sense & Sensibility. Yet I quite like this adaptation largely because of Garai’s casting. Though she was 27 at the time, she looked believable as the 20 year-old Emma Woodhouse, a pretty & privileged girl who loves finding suitors for her friends. She portrays Emma as suitably vivacious and naive, as well as a bit of a spoiled brat. We like Emma despite some of her blunders and careless decisions, and Garai’s able to capture her remorse as well as her bubbly nature. Of course this being a miniseries, her character development is far superior than the film version.

Some thoughts about the rest of the cast. Michael Gambon is an interesting choice as Emma’s father who always assumes everything is hazardous to one’s health, he somehow makes his fussy nervousness as something endearing. As I’ve mentioned above, I love Northam’s interpretation of Knightley. I think Jonny Lee Miller is not bad, but I wonder if someone else in the role would’ve been a better choice as he doesn’t seem to be much older than Garai (there’s supposed to be a 17-year difference in age) Plus, I kept thinking of him as Edmund Bertram, the role he played in 1999’s Mansfield Park (one of my fave period drama heroes). Interestingly enough, Blake Ritson who played Mr. Elton also played Edmund in the 1997 BBC version! Certainly BBC has a pretty small pool of actors to choose from, ahah. Ritson is a far better casting choice than Alan Cumming in the film version. I mean, he was just so darn creepy, plus it’s really too much of a stretch to imagine him as a vicar.

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Overall this is a lovely adaptation with fun dialog and gorgeous scenery. Kudos to the production quality, the color scheme, costume, music, etc. that makes for a very enjoyable watch. That said, I still much prefer the Masterpiece Theater’s production Sense & Sensibility as the story is inherently more heart-wrenching to me. It’s worth noting that the screenwriter Sandy Welch also wrote the 2004’s North & South, which is by far my favorite BBC miniseries ever.

4.5 out of 5 reels


Well, that’s my weekend viewing roundup. How ’bout you, seen anything good?

January Weekend Viewings & Everybody’s Chattin’

Happy Friday everyone, and welcome to another edition of Everybody’s Chattin’!

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It’s been a week filled with sub-zero temps here, and indeed it’s been brutal waking up to – 12˚ F in the morning but hey, it makes us all Minnesotan tough! I’ve lived here about a year longer than anywhere else in the world, including my home country, so I count myself a Minnesotan now 😀

Well, we’re still smack dab in the middle of movie dumping grounds of the Winter months, so I’ll definitely be skipping all of the new releases this weekend. Yet another Hans Christian Andersen’s butcher-job adaptation Hansel & Grentel: Witch Hunters, Jason Statham’s Parker and the Farrelly brothers’ star-studded Movie 43 all looks like they’re only worth a rental, at best.

I plan on watching the BBC’s Emma starring the lovely Romola Garai that my co-worker lent me, and hopefully catch up on a Jimmy Stewart movie and more of The IT Crowd!

Now it’s time for links!

ApocalypseNowPosterYou know I adore my pal Michael‘s TMT series and this week he reviewed Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam-war themed classic Apocalypse Now. I’m not a war movie buff, but I might have to give that a watch at some point.

Another classic review of a film I haven’t seen yet, but I’m definitely intrigued as I quite like Chuck Heston. Jeff of The Stalking moon recently wrote an in-depth review of The Omega Man (1971). This one also deals with the ‘apocalypse’ but this time involving a plague caused by biological weapons! Reminds me of 28 Days Later, but with Moses, er I mean Heston being the only one left to save the human race. Yeah, I’m game for that!

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AnthonyMackieManyFacesAnother favorite blog series of mine is Nostra‘s ‘The Many Faces’ and today he’s highlighting one of my favorite actors, Anthony Mackie. I’ve only seen about five of his films so far, and though he didn’t have a leading role in most, he’s always great to watch. I missed Night Catches Us at TCFF a couple of years back where he’s actually the lead, so I have to catch that soon. I’m thrilled that the 33-year-old Louisiana native will be in Captain America: Winter Soldier!

Eric just posted a few rental mini reviews and I’m glad to see he has some nice words for Headhunters! That’s one of my favorite films of 2012. Haven’t seen the other three though, I’m pretty sure Killer Joe is not my cup of tea.

UpstairsDownstairsPosterYou can always count on Terrence to post the latest movie trailers every week, but this sci-fi drama is one I’ve been wanting to see: Upside Down. I love a sci-fi star-crossed romance, which is why the premise of this one intrigues me. Check out the latest poster and trailer of the movie starring Jim Sturgess and Kristen Dunst. I really hope this turns out good!

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Floppy
I carry this picture with me always… that’s Floppy sitting on my lap

Lady Sati recently reviewed another winning clay-mation feature from Tim Burton, Frankenweenie. The premise should appeal to every dog lovers, and as someone who lost my beloved Floppy in grade school, I know it’ll be quite emotional for me. Sati actually rated it higher than Corpse Bride which I like, so I definitely need to rent it soon!


Keith is apparently a huge fan of French Cinema. His recent review of Girl on the Bridge sounds quite intriguing. What he said here really sold me “… the real magic of this picture lies in the unusual relationship between these two lost souls.” The film stars Daniel Auteuil and Vanessa Paradis (Johnny Depp’s former flame).


Now lastly, I’d like to highlight a new blog I discovered recently. Mr Rumsey happens to be a fellow Bond fan as well, so it’s been fun ‘chatting’ with him about Bond, even though I need to get him to come around on his thoughts on Dalton, ahah. In any case, check out Mr Rumsey’s Film Related Musings blog.

MrRumseyBlog

He recently did a sweet review of one of my 2011 favorites, Warrior.

I’ll be doing this for future Everybody’s Chattin’ post whenever I come across a new blog I like.


So what are you going to see this weekend? Whatever you do, hope it’s a good one!

007 Chatter: Bond 50th Anniversary Minimalist Posters

007CHATTER

I haven’t done a 007Chatter nor poster post in a while, so might as well hit two birds with one stone. Besides, when I saw this last week I just couldn’t resist sharing them. Thanks to The Huffington Post for the tip. These minimalist posters were designed by the creative duo Clif Watson and Maria Taylor of Herring & Haggis design company.

23 James Bond Films,
23 Days,
23 Poster Designs.

Each day, leading up to the U.S. premiere of Skyfall, we watched a film from the 50th Anniversary blu-ray collection and created a poster design for it.

Here’s what they came up with for Skyfall:

Skyfall_MinimalistPoster

I LOVE the organic simplicity of the design, it’s decidedly un-Bond-like, forgoing the usual stereotypes of the glitz and glamor of the super spy. Watson was quoted by the HP article said this about their approach on the design: “We agreed early on that we would avoid the typical Bond marketing subject matter. No girls, cars, guns or martini glasses allowed!”

Primarily a typographical and color exercise, each design utilizes a map to highlight the key location from 007’s mission. What a brilliant idea! Very clever and creative, I love how the use of colors also convey the mood of each film.

Here are additional favorites of mine from their collection [click on thumbnail to see a larger version]:

The posters are no longer available to purchase, unfortunately. But you can view the entire poster collection on their site: 007.herringhaggis.com.

Fans are getting more and more creative in designing posters of their favorite films. Here are more beautiful fan-made ones I found on Skyfall:

I also love this illustrations of all the Bond actors I found on Filmofilia site. Not sure who created it, but it’s one of the best I’ve seen and each Bond sketch actually resembles the actual actor, which is quite a feat. Even in a form of a drawing I still love Timothy Dalton most 😉

BondActors_Illustrations

Anyway, I’m quite looking forward to the Bond 50th Anniversary tribute at the Oscar ceremony this year. Not sure what’s actually going to be featured or whether all of the Bond actors will be there [oh wouldn’t that be nice?], but for sure new mama Adele is going to sing the Skyfall theme song! Does this mean Roger Deakins would finally win an Oscar in his 10th nominations? I sure hope so!


Well hope you’ve enjoyed these posters. Which ones do you like best?

The Flix List and a Poll! Vote for your five favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies

Top5AhnuldMovies

The Austrian former body-builder has got 50 titles under his belt…  though the only one stretching his acting skills is probably playing the Governator of California, ahah. But after a decade since he played his iconic role that catapulted him to stardom, Schwarzenegger has reportedly confirmed he’ll be back for the next Terminator movie. I thought his comeback in The Last Stand was fun to watch, harkening back to his action hero roles of the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately it tanks at the box office, earning a paltry $7 mil so far. Don’t cry for him though, I don’t think Ahnuld’s going to let his career go down without a fight 😀

So just for the fun of it, I partnered with my pal Ted S. to list our top five fave of Arnie’s movies all the way back to the early 80s.

Please vote at the end of the post for YOUR top five favorites!

Ted’s Picks

After several years of serving the public as the governor of CA, Arnold’s back on the big screen and as a fan of his work, I’m pretty excited to see him kicking ass on the big screen again. I’ve seen every single one of his films, even the awful Hercules in NY, that’s the film I wish I hadn’t seen, seriously don’t ever see it.

Anyway, here are my favorite films he starred in:

5. Conan the Barbarian

Arnold_ConanBarbarianJohn Milius’ 1982 film is kind of underrated when it comes to Arnold’s filmography. It has everything you want in this kind of genre, magic, swords play and lots of blood. Also, Basil Poledouris’ score was pretty great.

4. True Lies

Cameron and Arnold teamed up for the third time in this loosely remake of a 1991 French film, La Totale! As with most films directed by Cameron, it was the most expensive ever produced around that time, the budget was around $120mil. The film wasn’t as big hit as the studio had hoped but it was a fun action/adventure summer tent pole. Plus Arnold played a super spy and blew a lot of sh*t up; you can’t go wrong with that.

3. Predator

Arnold_PredatorThis was Arnold’s first major big box office hit and it’s one hell of a film. Under the direction of John McTiernan (Die Hard 1 & 3), this modern day telling of The Most Dangerous Game was filled with big shootouts and explosions. Keep an eye out for young writer/director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon series, Iron Man 3), he played one of the soldiers on Arnold’s team and he told a pretty funny and dirty joke in the movie.

2. Total Recall (1990)

Originally David Cronenberg was going to direct this film and Patrick Swayze was in talks to play the lead role. But when the producer couldn’t raise enough money, Arnold decided to buy the script and brought Paul Verhoeven on board to direct it. In an interview Verhoeven said he decided to ditch the more serious tone of the script because he knows that Arnold doesn’t have much range when it comes to acting, so he decided to make the film a little campy yet fun. Filled with shootouts, blood and a three breasts mutant hooker, the film was one of the biggest hits in the summer of 1990.

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Arnold_T2posterJames Cameron’s epic sequel to his first sci-fi hit, The Terminator, is one of my favorite films ever! I’ve seen it countless times and bought many editions on home video, from VHS, DVD and Blu-ray. The film was filled with great special effects, long and spectacular car chases and shoot outs; it’s truly a great summer event film.


Honorable mentions:

  • The Terminator: This one didn’t make my top 5 because well, Arnold’s the villain and he’s hardly in the movie. Originally Cameron wanted OJ Simpson to play The Terminator and Arnold was going to play the hero Kyle Reese, but upon reading the script, Arnold wanted The Terminator part. In a documentary about this film, there’s a funny story of how both Cameron and Arnold agreed that he should be The Terminator, give it a watch if you some free time.
  •  Red Heat: Walter Hill’s version of buddy cop action of the 80s, Arnold played a hard-nosed Russian cop who came to Chicago and had to team up with Chicago detective, James Belushi, to track down a Russian drug dealer who killed his partner. I thought Belushi was pretty funny as the not so friendly side kick and of course the film contained some good shootouts and a crazy bus chase on the streets of Chicago.
  •  Eraser: Warner Bros. thought they could start another famous one liner by having Arnold utter the words “You’ve been erased”, fortunately it never took off because when the trailer of the movie came out and audiences heard Arnold said that line, they bursts out laughing. So Warner decided not to use it as part of the promotion for the film. Besides that bad one liner, the film was actually a lot of fun. Filled with big stunts and shootouts, it’s the usual Arnold’s summer flick. Unfortunately it didn’t do as well as the studio had hoped since it opened in the busy summer of 1996 against heavy weights such as Mission: Impossible, Twister, The Rock and ID4. It was actually the last film of Arnold that earned $100mil domestically.


Ruth’s Picks

5. Kindergarten Cop

Arnold_KindergartenCopI quite like Arnold in action comedies, he should stick to this genre. Something about his acting style just lends itself to hilarious moments! He plays a tough city cop who has to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to catch a drug dealer. The moment he went berserk watching kids being well, kids, yelling ‘SHUUUUUUUUUUT UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!’ is quite a hoot.

4. The Last Stand

As you’ve perhaps read in my review, I enjoyed this movie and it’s one I actually don’t mind watching again. Ahnuld is not the usual invincible action hero, unabashedly poking fun at the fact that he’s no spring chicken anymore. Fun action filled with plenty of humor, I thought it was a pretty decent comeback vehicle for Arnold. I really think action comedies suit Arnold the best, I do hope this wouldn’t be his last in this genre.

3. Eraser

Arnold_EraserI know it’s not the most brilliant action thrillers out there, but I quite enjoyed this one. It’s Ahnuld doing what he does best, that is to protect a damsel in distress, even if that means fighting a slew of bad guys… and an alligator? Once again an evil corporation is involved, with James Caan as the villain. The damsel is played by Vanessa Williams, she’s not a good actress obviously, but she was sympathetic enough to make you care. I’m glad they didn’t force a romance between the two of them though. The special effects team was actually nominated for an Oscar, and the shootouts and car chases make for a pretty fun thrill ride. Plus I like the ending… yes the “You’ve just been erased” line isn’t quite as iconic as his other lines, but it actually works to great effect here.

2. Terminator 2 (1991)

This is easily the best Terminator movie of the bunch and perhaps one of the best sequels ever in the history of movie franchises. It’s got everything we love about the first movie and more! I like the relationship between Sarah Conor (the bad ass Linda Hamilton) and her son John (Edward Furlong), and the unlikely father/son bond between John Connor and the Terminator himself. There’s a lot of humor, such as when John teaches him phrases that became iconic, like ‘Hasta la vista, baby.’ Plus we’ve got a fantastic and terrifying villain in the form of a more advanced and deadlier T-1000, played in a scene-stealing performance by Robert Patrick. This is one of those classic sci-fi movies that not only entertain but actually make you think. “It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves.” Sadly, that’s not far from the truth.

1. True Lies (1994)

Arnold_TrueLiesThis is easily one of my favorite movies from the 90s as it’s so wildly entertaining. It’s yet another Arnie’s collaboration with James Cameron. It’s decidedly more lighthearted than the Terminator franchise, but just as action packed and packed with humor as well. Jamie Lee Curtis is perfectly cast as Arnie’s wife who’s kept in the dark as her husband leads a double life. There are tons of memorable scenes between this husband and wife, and Arnie + Jamie Lee share a strong chemistry! Plus there’s Moses himself Charlton Heston as the secret agency’s big boss!

This is a quintessential big, loud, popcorn Summer movie, and it absolutely works. It’s a fun thrill ride from start to finish, even though the terrorist villains are hilariously cartoonish. I also love the Tango he did with Tia Carrere, even though she does most of the dancing, ahah. It remains one of my favorite movie Tangos of all time!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Conan The Destroyer
    This is one of my childhood favorite, I don’t know why I loved it so much. I must’ve watched it over a dozen times! I haven’t watched it since though, but I put it here for nostalgia sake.
  • The Last Action Hero
    The fantastical time travel element makes this a fun action flick, and Arnie’s never been shy of self-parody. It’s a great spoof of his go-to action genre, playing on all the cliches and stereotypes. He plays a larger-than-life action hero Jack Slater, worshiped by a young boy who ends up being transported into Slater’s world where the good guys always saves the day. John McTiernan of the Die Hard fame directed this and it has a similar absurd rock ’em, sock ’em sensibilities that please action fans. I remember seeing this on the big screen with my brother and we both had a good time.
  • The Terminator (1984)
    As Ted said, Arnold didn’t have as much screen time here compared to the second movie. Still, it’s one of the most iconic action sci-fis – full of memorable over-the-top scenes and one liners. “Come with me if you want to live.” I love Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese in this one, and of course Linda Hamilton is just perfectly cast. The idea that humans would be overtaken by the very things they created is intriguing and it’s been used many times over in various medium, but this franchise shall remains a classic even to this day. I haven’t seen this in a while, so I might rewatch this and T-2 sometime soon!


Now it’s YOUR turn! Cast your vote below.


Thoughts on our picks? Feel free to chime in about Ahnuld and his movies in the comments!