Music Break: Oscar Isaac’s singing in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

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Boy, it’s been two months since I did a Music Break post, as I missed doing one in December! Well, now it’s the last day in January and I’ve been wanting to highlight this soundtrack for some time, so today is as good a time as any.

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that I wasn’t enamored by this film. I appreciate the character study of a down-on-his-luck folk singer set in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1961, but it feels so indulgently aimless. To be honest, the decidedly-morose tone makes this film much longer than 1 hour and 45 minutes! The pointless ending especially rubs me the wrong way. I guess I just don’t get what the point of it all is, which I find quite frustrating.

But hey, I’m not going to focus on the negative as there are two things I really enjoyed about the film (well three if I count the cat) and those are Oscar Isaac’s acting/singing and the music. According to this Rolling Stones article, the Coens thought their screenplay was ‘un-filmable’ before they saw Isaac … “Where would they find a crazy-talented singer-guitarist with movie-star presence and major comic acting chops?” Well I’m very glad that their paths crossed!

The opening sequence of Llewyn singing at the bar singing this song is exquisite, and it really makes me want to know more about the character.

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Isaac is a Guatemalan-born actor who’s been on my radar for some time ever since I saw him as the spoiled Prince John in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. He’s apparently trained Juilliard where he was encouraged to work on his voice. ‘Through doing the basic practical classes, learning how to use my diaphragm, I really figured out how to sing and what it was that I sounded like.’ [per Telegraph]. He was also in a punk bank before his dramatic training, as a frontman for a band called the Blinking Underdogs when he went through the Cure phase. He said he was a terrible singer then but surely that’s not the case as I LOVE his voice. I’m going to have to update my old list of Actors who are surprisingly good singers. I think the fact that he can actually play guitar really well AND has a naturally melodic voice adds so much realism to his character, it’s as if I was really watching a part-Welsh musician named Llewyn Davis instead of an actor playing one.

Now this clip below is one of the highlights from the film. It’s hilarious and bizarre, with great supporting turn from Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver.

Lastly, here’s a recording of Isaac with Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons:



[SPOILER alert] It’s quite amusing that Bob Dylan appears at the end of film. He’s a music legend who I’m not really fond of. I always joke that I don’t get the Coens’ style and Bob Dylan’s music, two blasphemous things for people living in Minnesota, ahahahaha. In fact, I said to my hubby afterwards that if Llewyn Davis were a real musician, I’d rather buy his records than Dylan’s 😀

So yeah, even though I won’t buy the dvd of Inside Llewyn Davis, I’d readily buy the soundtrack.


Hope you enjoy the music break today. Thoughts on this soundtrack and/or the film?

Everybody’s Chattin’ & the most fantabulous Superbowl Commercial ever!

EverybodysChattin

Welcome to the first 2014 edition of Everybody’s Chattin’! In case some of you noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve done this post. No fret though, I still plan on doing this community-building post on a regular basis. It’ll be a bi-monthly thing from now on and it’ll be posted sometime in the middle of the week.

This edition’s all about lists and blogathons, so here we go:

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James has recently seen all of the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary, and he went on to listing which one should have been nominated and which one should win the award. Check out his reviews for each of the nominees from that post.

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Keith‘s Weekly Phenomenal 5 has been taken over Top 5 lists of best performances from the 2013 movie year. This past week he posted his picks for Top 5 Performances of 2013 Leading Actress

I LOVE minimalist movie posters and Chris recently showcased some really awesome ones by designer Olly Moss.

If you love lists but you’re not following Dan Stephens‘ Top Films Blog, well then better get on that pronto! His latest list shines a spotlight on a British living legend. Yep, check out his Top 10 Michael Caine Films.

Speaking of Top 10, since it’s January, it’s still not too late to post your Top 10 Films of 2013. Eric did just that so check out which movies made his Top 10 list.

Now on to the blogathons:

LifeLoveMoviesIf you haven’t already, do join Nostra’s latest Blogathon LIFE, LOVE AND THE MOVIES

Another fun blogathon you should take part in is Lights Camera Reaction’s RECAST-ATHON

Check out some of the Recast-athon participants’ posts: Sati @ Cinematic Corner and Andina @ Inspired Ground

Superbowl2014

Ok, so it’s the Superbowl this weekend. If you’re anything like me, then you probably didn’t know about it until all those ads started popping up on social media. I don’t know yet if I’ll watch it but if I did, it’ll be for the ads and trailers!

The two new trailers I’m anticipating are Captain America and X-Men: Days of Future Past. The first two trailers had me salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. There are rumors we may see a trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy but I’m really not hugely anticipating that one at this point. There might also be a trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl which sounds like a great mystery thriller.

As far as the commercials go, boy it’ll be tough to top this Rendezvous Jaguar ad with the three fantabulous Brits known for playing villains.

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Oh yes, it’s good to be bad

I’ve already seen some pics of Tom Hiddleston on Tumblr but you should’ve seen my reaction when I first saw the whole ad. I was jumping up and down like a crazy person and grinning ear to ear. Who cares about football, I wish they’d just make a movie with Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong and one of my current crush Tom Hiddleston prancing around in their Jaguar F-Type Coupe. I might’ve subbed Kingsley with the ultimate British villain Alan Rickman though.

Creativity Online has a nice article on the making of the spot, which was apparently directed by Tom Hooper (who won an Oscar for The King’s Speech) and the score was done by Alexander Desplat, a six-time Oscar nominee) who’s Hooper’s involvement probably made it easier to persuade film stars such as Kingsley, Hiddleston and Strong to commit to the project. Check out the making of the ad below:



Talk about the ultimate show stealer!


So are you gonna watch the Superbowl… at least for the ads? 😀

In *honor* of Hollywood ‘dump months’ – 6 films that are excruciating to sit through

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So now that all of the holidays and prestige films have been released, Hollywood will dump films that they’re not too proud of in the months of January and February. In fact, the term ‘dump months’ is an unofficial term used in the film community for the period of the year when there are lowered commercial and critical expectations for new major-studio releases. [per Wiki]

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Let’s face it, most of the films coming out in the cold winter months aren’t going to win any awards or earn big money at the box office. With the exception of the new Jack Ryan film, I don’t plan to waste my money on any of them this winter, I’m looking at you The Legend of Hercules; I, Frankenstein, and the Robocop remake. Seriously those films just look awful to me, what happened to the careers of Renny Harlin and Aaron Eckhart anyway? I loved the original Robocop but the remake just look ridiculous and since the studio decided to moved it out of the prime summer release, I just don’t have much hope for it.

With so many bad looking films coming out in the next few weeks, I thought I should list some of the films that were excruciating to sit through, unfortunately some of these films were box office hits but thankfully many of them were duds. In no particular order, here they are:

The Waterboy (1998)

This was one of WaterboyPosterthe biggest box office hits of 1998 and that’s unfortunate because it’s such an awful movie. I used to be an Adam Sandler fan, really enjoyed Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison and The Wedding Singer, so of course I looked forward to seeing this one. But wow only about 20 minutes into the movie, I wanted to walk out. I didn’t crack a smile the entire time I sat in the theater, I just couldn’t believe that any studio executives thought this was a good idea to turn such an awful script into a movie. The movie was pretty mean-spirited, witless and worst of all, not funny at all.

Bad Boys 2 (2003)

BadBoys2PosterI enjoyed the silly first film but I didn’t think it deserves a sequel. The only reason why this film ever happened was because Will Smith was in a slump at the box office at the time and of course he needed a hit. I know there are people who’ll defend this film and said it’s a perfect example of Michael Bay at his best, but is that really a good thing? Now I’m one of those people who loves action films but this two and half hours of mayhem just wasn’t fun to sit through. When I go see movies like this, I expect to have fun and be transport to another world; not in this one. It took itself way too seriously and the bickering between the two leads just felt forced to me.

Apparently Sony is moving forward with a third film and I can only pray that Smith won’t come back and star in it. But he’s in another box office slump so I won’t surprise if he agrees star in another sequel.

Rollerball remake (2002)

RollerballRemakeIt’s one of the biggest box office bombs ever and it deserves it. I’ve never seen the original version but when it’s announced that John McTiernan and Keanu Reeves has signed up to do a remake, I was actually excited to see it. Well a couple of months before the cameras started rolling, Reeves decided to back out and the filmmakers has to scramble to find his replacement.

They cast Reeves lookalike Chris Klein (probably the worst actor I’ve ever seen) and somehow McTiernan still was able to keep the film’s bloated budget of $90mil. The film was scheduled to come out in the summer of 2001 but after some bad test screenings, they couldn’t even convince Harry Knowles from Ain’t It Cool News to write a good review for the film, the studio decided to dump it in the winter of 2002. There were so many things wrong with this film, from the awfully shot and direction to the badly-written script and of course the lead actor was a joke. Seriously this was directed by the same guy who made two of my favorite action films, Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October, I wonder if McTiernan was high while filming this movie. Please don’t waste your time or money on this turd.

 

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Transformers3PosterAnother Michael Bay’s film on the list and this one also made a ton of money. I mildly enjoyed the first film, the second one was junk but I thought this one was just a pain to sit through. They somehow decided to focus on the human characters instead of The Transformers, I wanted to the evil robots to kill everyone human in this movie. Seriously every characters in the film were so annoying, especially the hero Shia LaBeouf, I wanted the bad Transformers to crush his skull and shut him up. All he did throughout the film was whining and yelling. Yeah I really hated this movie. I won’t be wasting my time and money on the fourth film that’s opening this summer.

Godzilla remake (1998)

GodzillaRemake1998This film should be consider one of the most hyped up films ever. I remember after the awesome Super Bowl teaser trailer, the promotions for this film were everywhere. Internet was still new at the time so most of the marketing were used in traditional print ads: billboards, large digital displays and the non-stop TV spots. I got even more excited to see it after they released a full trailer, I thought it’s going to be one of the biggest hits ever and my favorite movie of that summer. Boy was I wrong on both fronts, the actual film was awful and it became one of the biggest bombs of the 90s. I seriously wanted to walk out about half way through but my friends were having a good time and I didn’t want to be rude. Also one of them drove so had I left the theater, I would’ve to wait outside till the movie’s over.

The film was full of clichéd characters and plot, the acting was awful and Godzilla looked silly. I actually bought a cheap blu-ray of this film last year, hoping that I was too harsh on it and maybe I might enjoy it since I haven’t seen it in over 10 years. Boy I was wrong again, I turned it off after 20 minutes and sold the BD at the pawn shop the next day.

Of course another remake is opening this summer but I don’t think it’s going to make a dent at the box office. The cool trailer was shown when I went to see The Desolation of Smaug and a lot of people burst out laughing when they saw the trailer, not a good sign when people are laughing at it. Who knows maybe the new remake could be good but I won’t see it unless it gets tons of good reviews.

Lost In Space (1998)

LostInSpacePosterAh yes, the film that’s well known for finally dethroning Titanic from the number 1 spot at the box office. The 90s were a period when many old TV shows were turned into big budget spectacle, Tim Burton’s Batman films, Mission: Impossible and The Fugitive were some good examples. New Line thought they have a winner and try to cash in on the trend by green lighting this very expensive space adventure. After a good looking trailer, I was excited to see this film even though I’ve never watched the old TV show. I saw it at the opening weekend and I actually asked the theater manager for my money back because I hated it so much; he didn’t give me back my cash. It was such a painful experience to sit through, from the lazy direction and script to the awful, even for its time, special effects.

The plot made no sense and I didn’t care for any of the characters, even the great Gary Oldman can’t save this stinking pile of turd. New Line thought the film was going to be a huge hit and if I remember correctly, the film sort of ended in a cliffhanger style. The studio thought they had a lucrative franchise in their hands. Thankfully it tanked at the box office and pretty much forgotten by most people throughout the years. The film also cost its director’s career, Stephen Hopkins was a up-and-comer director at the time and after he made this film, he’s been doing TV shows ever since.

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Those were some of the awful films I had to sit through, did you see any of them and do you agree with me? Feel free to list your own films that you thought were painful to sit through.

January 2014 Blind Spot: It Happened One Night (1934)

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Ok, it’s my first Blind Spot Film of the year. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally see this one, as it came highly recommended by so many people. The main draw for me here is to see Clark Gable in something other than Gone With the Wind as that’s the only film I’ve seen him in. It’s also the second Frank Capra film since It’s A Wonderful Life.

Now that I’ve seen the film, I noticed how similar the storyline is to Roman Holiday, but instead of a princess, the female protagonist is a spoiled heiress who’s running away from her father (Walter Connolly) who disapproves  her nuptial to a society aviator. Claudette Colbert has quite a spunk as Ellie Andrews, though I have to admit it took me a while to warm up to her as her character is such a brat. At one point her dad slaps her and she certainly had it coming. Ellie promptly jumps off her dad’s yacht and later catches a bus to New York City to return to her husband. And that’s where the ‘meet cute’ happens.

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Gable’s Peter Warne is an out-of-work newspaper reporter. He’s made quite an effort to secure the last seat on the bus, only to have it ‘stolen’ by Ellie. The bantering between these two are pretty amusing, though it’s obvious they’re attracted to one another. When Warne recognizes who she is, he offers her two choices, one of which is that he’d blow the whistle on her whereabouts to her father. Needless to say, Ellie is stuck with Peter until he can help her get to NYC. Seriously, there are worse things than being stuck with Clark Gable!

One of the main highlights is when Peter rents a small motel for the two of them. It’s quite risque for those days to show a man being shirtless, which apparently happens because Gable kept having trouble removing his undershirt whilst keeping the dialog going, so Capra decided to forgo it. Apparently the undergarment industry was largely affected by this when people stopped buying undershirt as it was deemed cool to not to wear one. That’s mind-boggling how much power Hollywood had back in the day.

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With a set of clothesline and a blanket, Peter builds the ‘walls of Jericho’ between the two beds, which was also Capra’s idea because Colbert refused to undress in front of the camera. The two also puts on quite a show in the morning when two detectives knocked on their door looking for Ellie. Pretending to be a bickering married couple, it was the perfect bonding experience as their adventure is just beginning. Though it’s a completely different role from Rhett Butler, Gable’s certainly got the swagger and charm intact.

Interesting how this film’s success undoubtedly brings about the rom-com trend. We’ve become tired of that genre these days, as most of them are neither romantic nor comedic. I think You’ve Got Mail is a wonderful contemporary rom-com that adhere to a similar pattern, with the characters start out disliking each other. The key I think is in the chemistry of the two actors, and the wit in the dialog. So even if everything else about the film seems out of date, the story still holds up and the dialog still brings a smile to one’s face.

[after Ellie stops a car by showing her leg]
Ellie: Aren’t you going to give me a little credit?
Peter: What for?
Ellie: I proved once and for all that the limb is mightier than the thumb.
Peter: Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.
Ellie: Well, ooo, I’ll remember that when we need forty cars.

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The story itself is pretty predictable. I knew at the end Ellie and Peter are going to be together, but I was still surprised by how they finally got reunited. Ellie’s father played a huge role in bringing them together, which is interesting in and of itself to see a parental figure having such a big part in the love story. In the finale, ‘walls of Jericho’ shows up again but only from the outside of the motel where presumably Ellie and Peter are now married. The sound of trumpet is heard as the walls is coming down. There are plenty of innuendos throughout, some are less subtle than others, but in this day and age where borderline pornographic content becomes ‘normal’ at the movies, it’s nice to see something THIS wholesome for a change.

ItHappenedOneNight_GableColbertWhat strikes me about this movie is the lack of any kissing scene between the two leads. I’d think the Hayes Code allowed kissing scene at the time, as Colbert did kiss Jameson Thomas who played her husband King Westley, so it made me wonder if it’s because Gable and Colbert didn’t get along during filming. All of the promos like the image on the right that suggest any kind of kissing scenes between these two are so misleading, there’s an almost kiss when the were at a barn, but that’s about it. According to IMDb Trivia, seems that neither of them were fond of making the film and didn’t think much about it. So I guess its massive success (both artistically and financially) was as huge a surprise to them as to everyone else.

So did I love this movie? Yes I did, and I’m glad I finally watched it. At the same time, I’m not as enamored with it as I did with say, Roman Holiday and Casablanca. It’s interesting that both of those films didn’t quite have a happy ending, which actually makes it even more romantic. There is something so beguiling and heart-wrenching to see unrequited love played out on screen. Another thing for me is the character Ellie itself, which is not entirely sympathetic. I mean, her rich dad worships her and she pretty much gets everything she wants. Even Roman Holiday‘s Princess Ann is far less spoiled than Ellie. Yes, Colbert makes her character fun to watch, but she’s not exactly my favorite classic characters.

Overall though, this one deserves the ‘essential classic’ status. It’s the first screwball romantic comedy that no doubt becomes the template for ‘opposites attract’ types of storyline. Of course, very few have such staying power like this one.

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This is the first entry to my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee, and continued by Dan Heaton at Public Transportation Snob .

Here’s my full Blindspot List.


What do you think of It Happened One Night? I’d love to hear what you think!

LCR’s Recast-Athon – Recasting characters of 2013 Films

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Jack from Lights Camera Reaction recently invited fellow bloggers to participate in ‘Recast-athon’, where we’d recast characters of 2013 that we either hated or liked, but think that the role(s) could have been done better by another actor. The rule is to pick a minimum of three performances and explain the reasons. 

So here are my picks and for the fourth one, I include one from 2012. Hey, rules are meant to be broken right? In this case I simply bent it a bit. So here we go!

The Great Gatsby

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Tom Hiddleston & Jessica Chastain replacing Leo DiCaprio & Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby

Now, it’s not that I dislike Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan as Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Both are excellent actors but somehow their pairing just lacks ooomph, for a lack of a better word. I’d love to see someone like the inherently classy Tom Hiddleston try this role on for size. Hiddles seems to come from money himself, having gone to Eaton and Cambridge, and he’s got the versatility to be both charming and mysterious.

For Daisy, I was thinking of a delicate beauty who’s got a bit of an icy quality about her. Jessica Chastain may be eight years older but I think she still looks youthful enough for the role, plus she seems capable of being more seductive than Mulligan. Both actor have theatrical pedigree, Chastain went to Juilliard whilst Hiddleston went to RADA. I’d love to see these two light up the screen as lovers one day.

The Wolverine

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Rinko Kikuchi replacing Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine)

One of my biggest issue with The Wolverine is that I think Wolvie’s love interest is entirely miscast. Sure miss Tao Okamoto is beautiful, she is a fashion model after all, but unfortunately she has no charisma nor the dramatic chops to give her character even an iota of realism. Not to mention the utter lack of chemistry with Hugh Jackman. I think Rinko Kikuchi would’ve been a much more compelling substitute had she not been too busy working on Pacific Rim. I’d even think even Koyuki, another Japanese actress who had a sweet chemistry with Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai would’ve been a better choice if she were slightly younger.

12 Years A Slave

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Greg Kinnear replacing Brad Pitt (12 Years A Slave)

Speaking of weak link, Brad Pitt is the least convincing performer in an otherwise fantastic ensemble in 12 Years A Slave. When his character showed up, it took me out of the movie a bit as he practically looked like a mega movie star playing a role. To make matters worse, he’s got the worst lines in the script, preaching to us how we should feel as if it weren’t obvious enough. As Pitt was the producer, I wish he had cast someone else in that role, perhaps an equally talented actor who’s not quite as famous. I’d suggest Greg Kinnear, who’s exactly the same age as Pitt (50). I think he’d be much more convincing and likely get the Canadian accent right, too.

Jack Reacher (2012)

Now, this one is from 2012, but I saw the movie last year so I thought I’d throw it out there as well who I’d love to see as Jack Reacher. Now, I think Tom Cruise did a decent job and I think the film is decent, but when I read the description of the character in the book, I always get a good chuckle as Cruise’s physicality is so ill-suited for the role.

Reacher is 6’5″ tall (1.96 m) with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds (100–115 kg). He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He has very little body fat, and his muscular physique is completely natural (he reveals in Persuader, he has never been an exercise enthusiast). (per Wiki)

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An actor’s physique is crucial for certain roles, especially when the novelist outline it so specifically in the book. So Tom got the hair color right but that’s like the least important thing and they can just easily lighten an actor’s hair if necessary.

Richard_StrikeBackNow, Richard Armitage is 6’2-1/2″, obviously much closer to the novel version of Reacher than the 5’7″ Cruise. He’s done a lot of military-type roles so no doubt he’s got what it takes to play a former Major in the US Army. He may not have the 50-inch chest but he can easily bulk up his lean-but-muscular frame. But more importantly, he’s got the intensity and bad-assery for the role, just watch BBC Spooks and the original Cinemax’s Strike Back if you need some convincing. Age wise, Richard (42) is also closer in age than Cruise (50) as Reacher is supposed to be in his late 30s.

Fame at times works against an actor as Cruise has done so many famous roles that it’s hard to see him as Jack Reacher (especially since he looks pretty much the same as he is in other action hero roles), so a lesser-known actor would actually be a more prudent choice.


Well, what do you think of my replacement picks? Also, who which role(s) would YOU re-cast from 2013 movies?

The Alphabet Movie Meme

AlphabetMovieMeme Boy it’s been a while since I did a movie meme, but this idea by Katy at the Drama Llama is just too fun to resist. Thanks Karamel Kinema for the awesome banner image. Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory what this meme is all about, so lets just get started.

Anticipating Movie of 2014

XMenDaysOfFuturePast

I was going to answer Interstellar but that Nolan movie isn’t out until November so I set my sight to something a bit closer that’s out in May. The trailer for X-Men Days of Future Past makes my head spins but it also gets me super psyched to see it!

Book Adaptation I’d Love To See

BookAdaptation_LoveWalkedIn

A couple of years ago I posted this list of books my pal Ted and I would like to see being adapted on screen. I haven’t read hardly any good book since (yes I wish I were a voracious reader) but out of those, I’d think this one would’ve been adapted by now. It’s an unusual love story in that it’s not just between a man and a woman, and it’s got a slight throwback to Hollywood’s golden era that I think would be cool to see on screen.

Celebrity I’d Most Like To Meet

Male

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I simply have to find out if Richard Armitage actually looks THIS perfect up close. He seems like an intelligent bloke, so I’m sure he’d make a fascinating company over coffee … and I wonder if I could ever beat him in a staring contest 😉

Female

CateBlanchett

I bow to the great Cate Blanchett. She is such a phenomenal actress whose beauty, intellect and immense talent makes her a modern screen legend.

Dream Director-Actor Pairing

Michael Mann and Tom Hiddleston

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I love Michael Mann’s cerebral thrillers. I’d love to see the exquisite Tom Hiddleston tackles something like Heat, The Insider or even playing a chilling baddie like Tom Cruise in Collateral. The versatile Brit can do anything, I’d love to see him display his range.

Essential Classic Film

Roman Holiday

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It remains one of the most romantic and beautifully-shot film ever, starring two of my all time favorite movie couple. I’ve listed 59 reasons why it’s awesome. I’m sure I can come up with more.

Favorite Film Franchise

The Lord of the Rings

LOTR_trilogy

One of these days I have GOT to find time to watch the extended version. It’s nothing short of astonishing how Peter Jackson has brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s stupendous literary work to life.

Genre(s) I Watch The Most

Action Thriller and Period Drama

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I think I watch these two genres as frequently. It should be no surprise that most of them have a British cast 😉

Hidden Gem

Dear Frankie

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There are many other movie gems I could recommend but I always go with this one as it was made with a itsy-bitsy budget, but the story, Scottish setting, and acting are all superb that I wish more people would see it.

Important Moment in My Film Life

FlixChatterLOGOMy passion for movies practically soars exponentially after I started blogging. Thanks to fellow cinephiles who inspire me every day and makes me love movies all the more!

Just Right for A Rainy Day

Sleepless in Seattle

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“It rains nine months of the year in Seattle.” Well if one day I move to Seattle, I’d be happy to still be watching this whilst I’m vegging out on the sofa. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie, Nora Ephron’s script is so brilliant that it kept this movie from being unbearably sappy. If only rom-coms today are half as good as this.

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy

Sleeping Beauty

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I’ve loved this as a kid and Briar Rose/Aurora is my favorite Disney princess! Even to this day, before all the CGI technology in animation, the visuals are still amazingly beautiful, and the music based on Tchaikovsky’s ballet is equally enchanting.

Location I’d Most Like To Visit

RivendellMiddleEarth

No doubt it’d be Middle Earth, especially if Aragorn or Thorin would be willing to be my tour guide 😉

Marathons I Watched

Gregory Peck Movie Marathon

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Some of you likely remember when I was besotted by this Hollywood’s classic leading man. I blogged about some of ’em already, that’s perhaps the last extensive movie marathon I did, which was well worth the effort!

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched

I have Netflix Streaming which is one my the primary sources to rent movies from. This is the last one I rented as they’ve got quite a nice selections of documentaries. Clearly I’m fascinated by all things Middle Earth.

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One Movie I Saw In Theaters More Than Once

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I’ll go with the latest one I saw twice in the theater in 2013, and that’d be Pacific Rim. I’m not ashamed to say that I LOVE that movie, and really, when you’ve got exhilarating action, great music PLUS sexy Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost in his smashing black armored Jaeger suit, what’s not to love?

Preferred Place To Watch A Movie (Cinema or at home)

Either place is fine by me. As much as I love the comfort of watching films whilst vegging out on my sofa, some films are meant to be seen on the big screen. Unless of course I have a home cinema like THIS.

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Quote that Inspires Me

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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Samwise Gamgee, is one of the most selfless and wisest movie characters ever brought on screen. The unsung hero of the LOTR trilogy always puts others first before his own. Apparently when Tolkien wrote him, he was inspired by the character of English soldiers he met during World War I.

Remakes (Friend or Foe?)

Generally speaking… foe. But not every remake is terrible. I actually like the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, Sydney Pollack’s Sabrina, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, James Mangold’s 3:10 To Yuma, just to name a few.

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Heck, even one of my favorite films of all time, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a remake of the 1925 silent film with the same name.

Snack I Enjoy Most

Peanuts

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Twist(s) That Boggles My Mind

Sixth Sense & Unbreakable

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Whatever has happened to M. Night now, it doesn’t change the fact that Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, which he made back to back, are both phenomenal films. Both endings floored me, and it was such a great feeling when a film managed to surprise you in such a big way.

Unapologetic Fanperson For

Timothy Dalton

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Dalton seems to have always marched to the beat of his own drum and I love him for it. He’s so criminally underrated and I’m front of the line in the Dalton-is-Best-Bond brigade. He’s obviously fantastic as a hero, byronic (Jane Eyre) or otherwise, but also as a villain (The Rocketeer).

Very Excited For Award Show Season?

Sure, why not. Bring. It. On.

Wish I Never Watched…

The Exorcist

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I really wish I hadn’t seen this. THAT face still haunts me to this day. I remember that after watching it in college, I asked my then boyfriend (now my hubby) to sleep in the living room as I didn’t dare to be alone in my apartment!!

XXX Movie I First Watched At A Young Age (R or NC-17!)

I don’t remember the name of it, as all I remember was that it has ‘Girl’ in it in the title. It could’ve been a foreign film as it was in black and white. I must’ve been only 11 or so, but that was the first time I saw full frontal nudity on screen!

Your latest movie-related obsession

Hmmm, does Richard Armitage count? He’s my latest obsession and he’s a movie actor so yeah, that’s my answer right now. My formerly-Gregory-Peck-filled Tumblr‘s been pretty much been taken over that beautiful man. Yes, I think I’m secretly moving up the rank in the Armitage Army 😉

ZZZ-Catchers (name a movie that has put you to sleep)

The Great Gatsby (1974)
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Say what you will about the Baz Luhrmann’s film but at least it wasn’t boring! I was thinking of comparing this one to the contemporary version but I couldn’t even go through it! I finally turned it off after I dozed off a couple of times.

Well that’s my Alphabet Movie Meme, folks! Feel free to continue this movie meme (make sure you link back to Katy’s post). I’d love to see the answers you come up with!

The Returned (Les Revenants) – Your next TV obsession

Hi everyone!
Today we’ve got a TV review from a new-ish FlixChatter contributor Dave W..
who gave us the excellent write-up of
Broadchurch last October. Thanks Dave!


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The Sundance Channel brought over the fabulous, 8-episode, French series The Returned (Les Revenants) which aired in November and December. To say it was the best new thing I saw aired on US TV, other than Broadchurch, last year is an understatement. The less you know going in the better so I won’t be giving too much away.

The story is set in a small French mountain town where people from the past suddenly start showing up on the doorsteps of their families and loved ones. The problem is they don’t know they’re dead. The reactions from the living run from thinking their prayers have been answered to the abject horror of seeing a ghost. The mystery of what is really going on is what makes this series really compelling. There is so much more going on here than just what you see in the first few episodes but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

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The show by Fabrice Gobert is a supernatural thriller that plays out more like a drama. The closest thing I can compare it to is Twin Peaks without all the wackiness. There’s even a diner, a roadhouse and mountain peaks peering out in the background. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a nod to David Lynch’s groundbreaking show. The characters are so well-drawn out and memorable that you really get wrapped up in the story especially with having unfamiliar French actors deliver such exquisite, understated performances. Add some truly beautiful, dark cinematography that would make DP, Gordon “The Prince of Darkness” Willis proud and atmospheric music from the Scottish post-rock band Mogwai and you have the winner of the International Emmy for Best Drama which sits atop of Metacritic’s TV scores with an aggregate score of 92%.

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Victor. The creepiest kid this side of Damien Thorn.

Ted S., I remember you having some frustration with a certain AMC series that just wasn’t living up to its promise. Well Ted… this is the real deal. What else can I say? The Returned is creepy, dark, intelligent, deliberately paced series that is so compulsively watchable it’s bound to become your next TV obsession.

The Returned can be found on Sundance OnDemand, Amazon Video or Blu-ray/DVD on February 11. I can’t recommend enough seeking out this version before ABC’s version comes out in March entitled Resurrection. I can’t see ABC even coming close to delivering what The Returned was able to achieve so don’t miss out on this remarkable gem. It defies expectations while rethinking what a series about the undead can be.

Check out the trailer:

PostByDaveW


Have you seen The Returned? Well, what did you think?

Early 2014 TV Season: The Same Thing… Only Different!

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Greetings all and sundry!

After putting the Holiday and New Year season safely behind. I’ve taken some time to settle in behind the television to enjoy and occasionally dissect the latest offerings of the major stations.

Any decent dissection is the natural offshoot of an in depth comparison and analysis in order to find a common thread or theme. And one doesn’t have to travel far to find one or more in the:

Early 2014 TV Season: The Same Thing… Only Different!

With the exceptional BBC mini-series, Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch as the latest incarnation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s master sleuth knee deep in modernized crimes and dramas. Backed up by Royal Army medical Corp and Afghan veteran, John Watson. Played with low keyed and occasional comic relief by Martin Freeman.

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The series basks in wondrously deft contemporary writing. With previous mysteries brought anew as only the British can. Adding such modern trappings as texts, tweets, laptops and social media to the mix. Saving time on screen for deeper character development and longer, more subtle interviews of witnesses and suspects than on this side of the pond.

Which became the impetus for two series from CBS. Person of Interest and Elementary. The former sports the criminally under rated, James Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, The Thin Red Line, Deja Vu) as former Army Special Ops guy, John Reese. Who is the very versatile dagger to the local cloak and Brainiac, Harold Finch. Marvelously quirky and eccentric Michael Emerson (Lost, The Return of the Dark Knight). Who may or may not have created the first generation of computers that knows all. Sees all. And may or may not be used for NSA surveillance today.

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The computer spits out Social Security Numbers of random individuals which are deemed in dangers. And Resse, Finch and killed off way to soon, NYPD detective, Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and her partner, Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman). In a series which has managed to recreate the best parts of  a previous 1980s classic, The Equalizer. With Edward Woodward protecting the endangered and down trodden of Manhattan.

While Elementary boasts Johnny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Hackers, Mindhunters) as recovering drug addict and former London Metropolitan Police Consulting Detective, Sherlock Holmes. Transplanted in Manhattan and in the employ of a precinct’s major Crimes Unit, run by Captain Thomas Gregson (Perpetual cop, Aidan Quinn), Detective Marcus Bell ( Newcomer Jon Michael Hill showing lots of potential) and Dr. Joan Watson, Lucy Liu. Holmes’ recovery therapist and shrink .

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The stories are well written for the 45 to 48 minute time constraints per episode. The bad guys are almost uniformly bad. With no connections to Doyle’s short stories, novels and novellas. Entwined in plots that often take a hop to left field, but are nicely reeled in before the final minutes. Though what is slowly becoming a hallmark of the series is the rapid and often offbeat repartee between Holmes and Watson when unearthing clues or comparing notes in search of a lead. And occasional quips from Detective Bell are worth their weight in gold.

Taking us further down the line in our search for subtle and not so subtle similarities between two new contenders. Fox’s Almost Human and Intelligence from CBS. Where the former pits rough hewn Karl Urban (Doom, Star Trek, RED, Dredd, Riddick) in L.A.’s the not too distant future. As Detective John Kennex. Sole survivor of an ambush and recipient of a replacement leg. Teamed up with an older, close to obsolete android named Dorian, after his model series, DRN. Cleverly played by Michael Ealy (Fast Forward, The Good Wife). Basically a walking, talking, multilingual Crime Lab.

Aided by a phalanx of rigid, polysyllabic robot uniform cops (Think the faceless robot cops of ‘TXH 1138’ multiplied en masse)  who do not possess a good batting average in survival after annoying Kennex with their incessant legalese yammering.

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In a series that shows ever evolving technology and its possible implications in countering systems (GPS, Facial Identification, hacking social media) used by police today. Also a decent amount of well executed Special Effects in regards to a crowded city scape, sidewalks and very cool looking drones.

Solid character acting sets the foundation. Buttressed with clever plots, well thought out and executed effects that live up to the future. Where programmable bullets that never miss, organ harvesting, more human looking and feeling Sex Bots and social media murder are the norm. Instead of the exception.

Which brings us to a less than spectacular offering from CBS. Intelligence. Which can trace its lineage back to the 1970s and two pilot made for TV movies, Probe, from NBC, which later evolved into a short lived series, Search. And a pilot movie and series from ABC titled, The Delphi Bureau.

The Delphi Bureau could be considered the first creaky prototype and great grandfather of Intelligence. Where a federal bureaucracy sent an investigator, glenn Garth Gregory, (Laurence Luckinbill) armed with a photographic memory to find and undo fiendish schemes involving surplus weapons systems and or missing government funding.

While NBC had Hugh O’Brien (Wyatt Earp) investigating conspiracies in Probe and Search. With the aid of a computer link in his Mastoid Sinus that fed audio and visual to an underground computer lab led by Burgess Meredith. Backed up by superior writing from Leslie Stephens. And a bevy of lab coated Tech Babes, Angel Tompkins and Jacklyn Smith included. Amongst blinking lights sets that appeared stolen from ABC’s The Time Tunnel. While countless other young viewers have likened CBS’s crown jewel to the NBC series, Chuck.

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In Intelligence, we have Josh Holloway (Lost) as former Ranger and Sec Ops soldier, Gabriel Vaughan. Who has a computer imbedded and a link to another isolated lab filled with other computers to aid in his feats of world wide derring-do. Protected by Secret Service Agent, Riley Neal (Meghan Ory). With whom Gabriel has no chemistry. And overseen by Marg Helgenberger (‘Species’, ‘CSI’). Who is so much better than the material and is wasted as Lillian Strand. The organization’s stiletto heeled boss.

Whose series’ premise is continuously sending the most expensive and technologically advanced super soldier into harm’s way. With a single Secret Service Agent as back up. And expect to succeed week after week. When any Flag or Field Grade officer at the Pentagon would opt for keeping Gabriel far in the rear. While possibly expending just as well trained and far less expensive, or embarrassing if captured Rangers to perform the dirty work.The series’ concept is flawed. Though it is kind of cool to look as Gabriels walks through previous crime scenes and opaque pop up windows as he searched for hidden answers.
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And for something completely different. There is an offering from Fox that has revealed lots of creepy mood, shadow and mystique. Sleepy Hollow. Which focuses on a recently uninterred and reawakened Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) contending with the mysteries of a modern world. With the aid of police Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Capt.Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) as they fight the forces of demonic evil personified by The Headless Horseman.

The series is not as strage as it sounds. With lots of chemistry between Crane and Abbie Mills. Reinforced by exceptional flash back segues and asides that harken back to Highlander in their use of costumes and settings.While backstopped with impeccable guest stars such as Clancy Brown, who pioneered the ground covered before Crane’s arrival. And John Nobel (Fringe, Superman Unbound). Who comes up with spells and traps in the continuing battles of good versus evil.

Overall Consensus:

Sometimes, too much of a good (or not so good) thing can be dull and repetitious. Even more so when a project lacks spirit and chemistry. Not being open to new and imaginative ideas or scenarios. And ways to set them up for execution through the actors’ spoken words.Which speaks directly to writers who lack the style, panache and polish of their predecessors. Not exactly lazy. But very fuzzy and confused over short term and long term goals.
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Of the new series mentioned and critiqued. I’ll put my money on Almost Human. For its self deprecating wit, Castle-esque drive time banter. And Mr. Ealy’s ability to bring programming and computer glitches to life with tremors and quick switches to foreign languages.

Though, I’ve little doubt that Intelligence will get at least another season on Marg Helgenberger‘s name alone.


Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews



Thoughts on 2014 TV season so far? Which show(s) are YOUR favorite?

FlixChatter Review – Jack Ryan: The Shadow Recruit

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It’s been over a decade that we saw a Jack Ryan film. Chris Pine now fills the shoes that’s been vacated by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck in the fifth feature of the long-dormant franchise. The major difference is, this is the first time that the film’s plot isn’t based on a specific novel by Tom Clancy, so in a way it’s a reboot. Before the title shows up, in roughly 20 min of so, we’re treated to an origin story of our hero. Instead of being set on the Cold War era, Ryan’s journey began post 9/11 as seeing the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers inspired him to join the army. He survived a chopper attack and had to undergo an extensive physical therapy for nearly two years, all the while a CIA agent Thomas Harper has been secretly monitoring his progress. As soon as deems Ryan is ready for action, Harper recruits him and send him back to college to finish his PhD in economics.

A decade later, Ryan working in Wall Street monitoring suspicious activity that might post terrorist threat. Soon he discovers that a stealthy Russian investment worth billions that could damage the US stock market down to the level of the great depression. The villain in question is a Soviet Army veteran Viktor Cheverin who’s none too happy about the US’ intervention of the Soviet’s invasion in Afghanistan. Posing as a broker on a mission to audit Cheverin’s account, Ryan is off to Moscow.

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The first fight sequence between Ryan and a Ugandan hired-assassin twice his size (you might’ve seen him in the trailer) packs a punch. Ryan somehow manages to outmaneuver a trained killer despite relatively limited training. After all, he’s more of an analyst than a Bourne-type killing machine, more brain than brawn but it certainly worked in his favor. Ryan’s ‘regular guy’ appeal and his humanity is what separates our protagonist from the typical action hero. After he kills someone, Ryan is in a state of shock. He doesn’t take killing lightly as if it’s ‘just a job’ like Bond would say. He’s haunted by the experience and that dread is written all over his face.

The action is not something you’ve never seen before. In fact, a lot of what happens in this film feel familiar, there’s nothing groundbreaking by any means. The most thrilling sequence involving Ryan breaking into the baddie’s office plays out like a Mission Impossible sequence, I expect the theme song to come on as I’m watching it! Even the story is somewhat predictable and not as suspenseful as one would expect, yet it’s got enough going for it to keep me tuning in. Chris Pine makes for a pretty good Jack Ryan in that he’s easy to root for in the same vein of his predecessor Harrison Ford. What he lacks in range he more than makes up in screen presence and likability. Kevin Costner has the effortless gravitas as his CIA mentor, apparently he was offered the role of Jack Ryan for The Hunt for Red October but he turned it down. I think he would’ve been excellent in the role and I must say he still looks fit enough to kick ass if need be. Which made me wish they had given him a bit more dynamic stuff to do in this movie.

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The weakest link here is Keira Knightly, who despite pulling off a decent American accent as Ryan’s girlfriend seems horribly miscast. She just isn’t believable in the role of a nurse who’s constantly worried her boyfriend is having an affair. Plus there’s zero chemistry between her and Pine. There is a pretty tense scene between her and Kenneth Branagh as Cheverin at the dinner table, and I have to say she has way more chemistry with him than with Pine. That brings me to Sir Branagh, whose direction here was the main reason I was somewhat anticipating this movie. Well, I can’t say that he acquit himself as well as a director here, compared to his previous work. I’m not too fond of his camera work here with the extensive use of unnecessary close-ups, though I’m glad he’s not a fan of the shaky cam technique. I do think he makes for a pretty compelling baddie. His scenery-chewing performance as Cheverin, complete with an over-the-top Russian accent, is quite a hoot. There’s a hint of chilling unpredictability when he stares at you with his devilish smirk, and Branagh gives himself a grand entrance if you will, the first time he comes on screen.

Overall I enjoyed this one despite many of its flaws. I think the key here is that I buy Pine as Jack Ryan, unlike Ben Affleck who lacks the confidence and charisma in the role. Though Pine plays Ryan as being unsure of his ability, he certainly has that inherent swagger. It’s also fun seeing Costner back in the action genre. It gets no point for originality however, nor does it inject as much life to the long-dormant franchise the way J.J. Abrams did with the Star Trek reboot. The score by one of my favorite composers Patrick Doyle also didn’t wow me as his last work in Branagh’s film THOR, which remains one of my fave soundtrack of recent memory. I think the script could’ve been a lot stronger to make this a memorable spy thriller. As it stands now, it’s just good enough to make me want to see what’s next.


Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


What do you think of the latest Jack Ryan movie?

MLK Weekend Roundup: a coming-of-age comedy, 1934 classic romance & a 1975 political thriller

MLKWashingtonHappy Monday all! It’s Martin Luther King Jr weekend here in the States and it’s a company holiday where I work, yay 😀 Another year and yet another snag in the long-overdue MLK biopic. I made this post last year about the status of the project that Paul Greengrass was once attached to. Well it turns out that Oliver Stone has now exited the project, taking to Twitter that his rewrite of the script, which dealt with “issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement, and King’s spiritual transformation” was not well received by producers. (per EW.com)

It’s really too bad as I’d love to see Dr. King’s biopic. Of course I realize he’s not a ‘saint’ as Stone said via Twitter nor do I expect him to be, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a great man who’s an inspiration to us all.

Now, though I didn’t go to the cinema this weekend, it’s been a wonderful movie catch-up for me. I saw The Way, Way Back on Friday which was pretty good despite the slow start.

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I LOVE Sam Rockwell who stole the film with his effortless charm, and newcomer Liam James is endearingly dorky in this coming-of-age comedy. It probably won’t have made my Top 10 list but certainly would factor in the Honorable Mention if I had seen it last year.

As for the two great classics I finally caught up with, one of them is on my Blindspot list and the other is a spy thriller that my friends have recommended me from time to time.

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I will have my full review of It Happened One Night (1934) on the last Tuesday of this month (1/28) for my Blindspot assignment but let me just say this film lives up to the hype! I’ve only seen Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, so it’s nice to see a different side to him in this role. Practically everyone I’ve talked to adore this film and I could see why.

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On Saturday night, my hubby and I were in the mood for a spy thriller, having just seen Jack Ryan: The Shadow Recruit on Wednesday (review coming tomorrow). My hubby isn’t a huge fan of older films, but I managed to convince him to rent 3 Days of the Condor (1975) as I’ve heard great things about it. I quite like 70s thrillers like Dirty Harry, The Conversation and The French Connection, no wonder my friend Michael calls it his favorite decade for movies! I quite like this one, it’s more of a slow burn but has plenty of suspense in a whodunnit kind of story filled with political intrigue as well as sexual tension between Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. It’s a smart thriller by Sydney Pollack, with a taut script and an intriguing ending where things aren’t tied up neatly with a bow. It’s loosely based on a novel by James Grady titled Six Days of the Condor.


So that’s my weekend roundup, folks. What did YOU see this weekend?