Blogathon Relay: 10 Most Iconic Movie Characters

10IconicFilmCharacters

Woo hoo! Nostra from My Film Views is at it again. I crowned him King of Blog Series a couple of years ago and clearly he deserves that title 😉 Here’s the gist of the Blogathon Relay:

A list of 10 iconic movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think it should not be on the list) and replace it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger. After you have posted your update leave the link in the comments here and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post.

Now, the first baton went to my friend Keith, one of my favorite bloggers whom I admire and respect. If you haven’t visited his awesome blog before, well you’re missing out big time! He had the arduous task of being the first to remove and replace one iconic movie character from the original 10, and I think he made a great choice! Check out the reasoning behind his decision in this post. I love this brilliant blogathon idea, but like Keith said, it’s a REALLY tough one! I’m up for the challenge though, so let’s take a look at the current Top Ten as it stands now, with Keith’s pick at the very end, followed by MY subtraction and addition:

Indiana Jones

Ellen Ripley

Terminator

Darth Vader

James Bond

The Tramp

Tony Montana

E.T.

Rocky Balboa

“Dirty” Harry Callahan

DIRTY HARRY


Who I’m removing: TONY MONTANA

RemovingTonyMontanaSorry Scarface fans, please don’t shoot me! Yes I know he’s got the highly-quotable ‘say hello to my little friend’ quip. At this point though, we’re arguing not whether he’s an iconic movie character, obviously he is but just how iconic is he compared to the other nine on this list.

When I think of ICONIC, I think of a character that needs no explanation, not only in the US but internationally. It’s the kind of character anyone from any continent in this world would instantly recognize, or at least which movie they’re from even if they don’t know that character’s name. I’m not sure that Al Pacino’s most famous role fits that category. Great and memorable yes, but I don’t know if he deserves to be in the Top 10 MOST iconic list. He might make my Top 20 though, but that’s not the assignment of this blogathon, folks. So after much deliberation, he’s the one I have to say goodbye to.

My addition: Princess Leia 

Top10IconicCharacters_PrincessLeia

Now, I know there’s already a character from Star Wars but there’s no rule we can’t add more than one character from a given film or franchise. Given that Star Wars is THE biggest and most enduring franchise in Hollywood history, we could probably make up half of this list just from that franchise alone!

Princess Leia is not just one of the coolest female movie characters but she’s a film AND pop culture icon. I mean, if you just draw a silhouette with her hair buns on each side of her head, I think people young and old would instantly know who that is. From the baby boomers all the way to Millennials, it’s interesting to see fans still dressing up as Princess Leia at Comic-con and various other conventions. I remember at SDCC 2012 my hubby taking pictures with a bunch of girls in Leia’s equally iconic teeny bikini, with little regard whether they look like Carrie Fisher circa 1977 or more like she is now in her mid 50s. I’m actually not a huge Star Wars fan, but I do get the appeal and why it remains so popular to this day. I’m glad George Lucas wrote such a strong female character who’s beautiful, witty and spunky. She’s a fiery rebel who’s able to hold her own amongst the rest of the mostly-male cast. We need more strong female icons like her in Hollywood!


Passing the baton to:

AFistfulOfFilmsBlog

I’ve been following Andrew‘s blog for some time now and I love his reviews and personal & passionate style in blogging. Do yourself a favor and check out A Fistful of Films Blog!


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

FlixChatter Review: SABOTAGE

TedSaydalavongBanner

SabotagePoster

Just like his pal Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzegger is trying to reclaim his glory days as the box office king of the 80s and 90s by starring in action films again in the 21st century. So far though, both them have had more duds than hits and I’m afraid this trend will continue with Arnold’s latest action thriller.

The movie opens with a group of elite DEA agents being lead by John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnie) raiding on some drug dealers’ fancy mansion. They found at least $100mil cash stashed away in the lower level of the mansion and the team decided to steal $10mil of that money and burn the rest so no one at the DEA will know they took the cash. Of course things didn’t turn out as planned, when they tried to retrieve the cash later, it’s nowhere to be found. Things got worse when the DEA found out that the $10mil is missing and they accuse Breacher and his team of stealing the money. All of them were under investigation and Breacher lost his team. About six months later, the DEA couldn’t find enough evidence to build a case against Breacher and his team, so the case will be close.

After the good news, Breacher tracked down his old teammates and try to get them back to doing what they do best, kill lots of bad guys. Unfortunately things didn’t come back to normal for the team, three of them were killed and this lead to the involvement of a homicide detective Caroline (Olivia Williams). Caroline suspects the drug cartel is behind the killings but Breacher and his team aren’t willing to help her with the investigation. The trailers let us to believe that this was a non-stop action adventure but it’s really a procedural thriller with some shootouts and a car chase. Not the usual Arnold’s flicks from the past.

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The script by Skip Woods and David Ayer was pretty good, nothing too deep or over the top. Instead of giving us one liners after another, some of the dialogs were quite witty and Arnold delivered them perfectly. The script might think it’s smarter than it’s actually is but I went along with the plot. Ayer made a name for himself by writing Training Day and the first Fast & Furious film, so don’t expect anything new or original from this movie. I’m not the biggest fan of his directing style though, he basically incorporated the look and feel of his last movie (End of Watch) into this one. I’m sort of getting annoyed by some directors who think that by shooting their movie digitally, they think it will look more “realistic”. I don’t get why they couldn’t add some effects in post production and make the movie look more cinematic, I can’t stand watching a movie that looks like it’s shot with a home camcorder. Despite the flat and uninspired cinematography, Ayer did shoot some good action scenes, particularly the climatic car chase and shootout.

Performance wise, I thought Arnold did a pretty good job, again it’s Arnold we’re talking about here so don’t expect an Oscar caliber acting. Olivia Williams pretty much played the second lead and I thought she’s good in the role, I couldn’t remember the last time I saw her in a movie. The rest of the cast including Sam Worthington (I guess he’s already lost his leading man status now), Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello and Josh Holloway did a serviceable job in their respective roles.

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For a movie like this, I think most people expect to see lots of shootouts and explosions, so it’s a nice surprise that it does have some sort of a plot and kept my attention without something blowing up every 10 minutes. I think I might give it a higher rating had Ayer and his team made the movie look more like a real movie instead of home video. But I’m glad they didn’t scale back the blood and violence, I think this is a good rental.

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What do you think of Sabotage?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Previews of Into The Storm & SHOWTIME’s Penny Dreadful

EverybodysChattin

Hello everyone! As promised, here’s the second Everybody’s Chattin’ post to make up for the one I missed last month.

So here are 10 of my favorite post from fellow bloggers from the past week:

Now this is a post every movie blogger should read and undoubtedly can relate to … Dan wrote about this thought-provoking article on finding a voice in film criticism.

Ryan of The Matinee, the original founder of The Blindspot Series posted an intriguing Canadian-made film I’ve never heard of before: Jesus of Montreal. I’m definitely intrigued!

Bowie_ThePrestigeIf you haven’t checked out Cindy’s blog, consider this your recommendation. She’s always got great film observations and commentaries, like this one about Musicians Who Become Actors. Surely you have your favorites?

Speaking of favorites, have you checked out Sati’s 10 Favorite Female Characters from both TV & Movies?

And since I just posted my entry to Sati’s Spin-off Blogathon, check out which character Chris (Terry Malloy Pigeon Coop) and Mark (Marked Movies) wanted a spin-off on. Both are such cult favorites!

Now, speaking of blogathons, the reigning King of such blog event Nostra is at it again with his Blogathon Relay! This time the focus is on 10 Most Iconic Movie Characters. The first blogger he passed the baton to is my pal Keith of Keith & the Movies, drop everything now and see which one he’s taken out & add to the list!

Last but not least,  Biblical films seem to be the genre du jour in Hollywood this year, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah opens this weekend and Ridley Scott’s Exodus w/ Christian Bale as Moses opens later in December. I haven’t seen it yet but A Fistful of Films’ Andrew has, check out what he has to say.


Now, before you’re off, check out these previews of my two crushes’ next film/TV show:

IntoTheStormTrailer

Richard Armitage‘s disaster thriller INTO THE STORM with The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne Callies is released on October 8. Nice to see Richard in the lead role, yay! That last part with all those Boeing planes are too darn eerie given what’s happened with the Malaysian Airlines though, I’m quite surprised they didn’t take that out of the preview.

 

PennyDreadfulShowtime

And for you horror lovers out there, this SHOWTIME series Penny Dreadful should be right up your alley. I blogged about this one a while back when Timothy Dalton was cast. I don’t have cable but once it’s out on iTunes or Netflix I’ll watch it for Dalton who plays Sir Malcolm, a hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest. I’m glad he’s not playing one of the demons, ahah. He still looks sooo good and it’s interesting to see him alongside my favorite Bond girl Eva Green here.

Created by John Logan  (screenwriter of Gladiator, The Aviator, Skyfall) and produced by Sam Mendes, seems like the Bond connection is quite strong here, ahah. Check out the hair-raising trailer:

 


Stay tuned for Ted’s review of Sabotage tomorrow!


Thoughts on Into The Storm and/or Penny Dreadful?

Spin-Off Blogathon: 5 minor/supporting characters I want to see a spin-off on

SpinOffBlogathon

Thanks to Margaret aka Lady Sati over at Cinematic Corner for this awesome blogathon idea. Here’s the gist:

Choose a [supporting] character (Movie or TV) that you love and would like to see as a leading character in the movie and write why you chose this character and what that movie would be like. Don’t choose leading characters or supporting characters with lots of screen time, the goal is to focus on minor characters who have between 1-5 scenes. However if you really loved a character who is on screen for more than that, go for it.

Now, there are a bunch of memorable minor movie characters that I can list here, but not all of them I want to see an entire movie on. But these five minor/supporting characters are so fascinating, in some cases even more so than the hero, that I’d be willing to pay a movie solely focused on them! I originally had only three characters in mind but I just couldn’t resist adding the last two (plus a BONUS TV character). So without further ado, here they are:

Tom Bertram (James Purefoy) in Mansfield Park

Tom is the elder son and heir of the wealthy landowner Sir Thomas Bertram who took in the story’s protagonist Fanny Price to live in Mansfield Park. He’s shown in his brief scene as a drunken and careless man who has no regard for Fanny nor to his father. He’s often away in Antigua on his family’s estate and he obviously despises his father’s business that involves slavery, but the strain seems to be deeper than that. The way Purefoy plays him is so intriguing that every time I saw this Austen adaptation, I wanted to know more about Tom and why he behaves the way he does. He’s dark, mysterious, with a seething rage that could explode at any moment. Certainly he’s a sexier and more riveting persona than the principled but dull brother Edmund.

TomBertram

I’d love to see a movie, or even a TV miniseries that focuses on his character. It’d be an extension (with some artistic liberties taken) of what’s written about him in the book, recounting his younger days being taken to Antigua by his father, and his days of living an extravagant life amusing himself. In the book, it’s described that Mary Crawford, who with his brother lives in the Bertram’s parsonage was initially interested in Tom but he does not response, so I’d like to see that being explored in the film as to why he refuses her. The risque Lovers’ Vow play would definitely be one of the movie’s highlights.

It’s too bad that in Mansfield Park, Tom’s spent half his already brief screen time bedridden from his illness. He does recover eventually and later on, Fanny’s younger sister Susan comes to live with the Bertram family also. Though it’s not in the book, it’d be nice to see that perhaps Tom would finally find love with Susan.


Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in Captain America: The First Avenger

There are barely any cinematic super-heroine in Hollywood, and I don’t mean the bad ass but cheesy warrior variety like Elektra (no offense Jennifer Gardner!). From the first time I saw Captain America, I’ve got a girl crush on Peggy Carter. She is by far my favorite Marvel female character, yes she even beats Black Widow and Lady Sif! Atwell’s performance is one of the major reasons I LOVE LOVE Captain America: The First Avenger as she’s just as fun to watch as the Captain himself. She’s beautiful, witty, and spunky. She’s no damsel in distress, no siree. She’s a trained fighter who’s more than capable to hold her own. She’s a damn good shot too, as evident in the action scene with the villain Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage, who gets another mention below) 😉

PeggyCarter

There’s a Marvel One Shot of Agent Carter which I have yet to see except for a couple of clips. Apparently the short film takes place a year after the events of The First Avenger, and features Carter as a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve and dealing with the sexism of that era. Now I’d even pay to see a film version of Agent Carter. It could include with some flashback scenes of her younger years as in the comics she apparently joined the French Resistance as a teen, which was how she became a skilled gun-woman.


Col. Brandon (Alan Rickman) in Sense & Sensibility

This should come as no surprise to anyone given how much I adore Alan Rickman‘s portrayal of Colonel Brandon. He’s one my picks of Favorite Period Drama Heroes and he’s easily my favorite male character in Jane Austen’s adaptations, yes he even beats every woman’s favorite Mr. Darcy any day. He’s a far more interesting character because he has been through a lot before we’ve come to know him as a wealthy officer at 35. He’s a sensitive man, a tortured soul perhaps (oh how I love these types of characters), who’s lost his love when he returned from the army and found that the woman he loves was with child and living in a poorhouse.

His entrance in Sense & Sensibility is one of the most memorable and emotionally-charged for me… Brandon’s expression as he was transfixed by Marianne is palpable. It’s got to make you wonder, is it simply just love at first sight? It can’t just be Marianne’s beauty and beautiful voice that captured him so, there’s gotta be something deeper than that. Later on we learned that Marianne reminded him of his lost love of his youth, his father’s ward whom he was prevented from marrying. Every time I watched this film, I’d so want to see more of Brandon’s early life.

Thank you Tumblr!
Thank you Tumblr!

I’ve been wanting to pick up Amanda Grange’s book Colonel Brandon’s Diary which is part of her Jane Austen retelling adaptations. I did read the Captain Wentworth’s Diary one, now I’d pay to see that one too, but I think Colonel Brandon’s dark past would make an even more riveting period drama. Now the challenge is to cast an actor even half as charismatic as Rickman, but perhaps Tom Hiddleston or Richard Armitage would be more than up for the task? The latter has never done an Austen adaptation, that is a travesty!


Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale

As a massive Bond fan ever since I was a wee girl, never have I been so fascinated by the Bond girl until I saw Vesper in Casino Royale. Like Agent Carter, Vesper is no damsel in distress, and she has quite a mysterious past that rivals our favorite super spy. She’s obviously an intelligent woman, having been trusted by MI6 to oversee Bond in his high-stake gamble with Le Chiffre. “I’m the money,” she says, and the banter between her & Bond is no doubt one of the most riveting scenes in the movie, one I still love to watch over and over.

I’d love to see a movie on her where we get to see how she became a double agent for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and her former lover who gave her that Algerian love knot necklace that Bond tracked down in Quantum of Solace. I think the film would only work with Eva Green in the role though. She’s obviously extremely sexy and can make an entrance like no other (that purple dress is an utter knockout), but I think her sensuality and mystique is what made the character so beguiling. There’s something so unpredictable behind those piercing green eyes, and an icy quality about them. The scene where she professes her love for Bond is beautiful but with a tinge of mystery and even suspense as we’re not sure what she’s capable of.

VesperLynd

According to Wiki, in the Casino Royale novel, she was born on a “dark and stormy” night, and her parents named her “Vesper” after the Latin word meaning evening to commemorate the night. Fleming created a cocktail recipe in the novel that Bond names after her. The “Vesper martini” became very popular after the novel’s publication, and gave rise to the famous “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase immortalized in the Bond films.

It’d be cool to see Eva Green reprising her role in a prequel spin-off of Vesper, I think she’s the only Bond girl deserving of her own movie!


John Rolfe (Christian Bale) in The New World

I’ve mentioned Christian Bale‘s role as John Rolfe many times in my blog already, most recently in this Breaking Emotion post. Bale only appeared in the last 25 min or so of the 2.5 hours Terrence Malick’s retelling of the Pocahontas story, yet he’s far more fascinating than Colin Farrell in the lead role John Smith. In fact, I’d buy this film just to see him here. His chemistry with Q’orianka Kilcher is so sweet, it’s perhaps one of the most romantic roles Bale’s done, which is already so rare to begin with.

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Now, the story of John Rolfe, an early English settlers of North America might not be as passionate or intriguing as John Smith’s, but Bale portrayal made me want to see more of Rolfe character. Perhaps the film can show his days as a tobacco businessman in Jamestown, Virginia and more details on his meeting and romance with Pocahontas, as well as his life after her death.


Special TV Dream Spin-Off

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) in BBC Robin Hood

What’s more riveting than a great hero? A great antihero. And every time I saw BBC Robin Hood, I always think ‘with villains like this, who needs a hero?!’ No offense to Jonas Armstrong as the titular hero but really he’s just meh next to Richard’s undeniable charisma and sex appeal. The guy just oozes virile masculinity and pent-up passion [wowza!] Clad in form-fitting black leather from head to toe, he’s the epitome of tall, dark and dangerous, even his hair is jet black to match his dark past and personality.


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But instead of making him a straight-out villain, what’s more intriguing about Guy is the complexity of his character, he’s not just evil for the sake of it, but there’s a vulnerability to him, especially in regards to his unrequited love for Marian, once the hope to his redemption. Again there’s that tortured soul quality that I can’t resist!

I love how Richard explains his character in this behind-the-scene clip. “If he can’t be good and be popular, be bad…” YES please 😉

If they were to do a Guy-centric series or even a miniseries on, I’d have a different girl than Lucy Griffiths though, I’m not terribly fond of her. Holliday Grainger in Season 3 is quite good however, I’d love to see more of their relationship being explored in Guy’s life. But of course I’d ONLY see a Guy of Gisborne movie/series IF Richard Armitage plays him. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone else in the role who could top his portrayal.


What do you think of my picks, folks? Would you watch a movie dedicated to these characters?

Captain America Blogathon Part II – Ted’s and Ruth’s List

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Andy over at Fandango Groovers’ Blog was inspired by the latest Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer in which we see Steve Rogers make a note in a pocket note book. It’s a list of things he missed out on in the time he was frozen that people have recommended he should catch up on.

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So the idea is to list ten movies we’d recommend to a person who had been frozen between 1943 and 2011. We modified it to 15 as Ted and I teamed up to make up this list.

 Ted’s List

Here’s what Ted recommends, broken down by decades:

1960s:

Lawrence of Arabia
For someone who’s never seen an epic story, this would be a great film to show him. The huge scope of this film done years before CGI could never be replicate again in today’s modern day filmmaking.

LawrenceArabia_2001

2001: A Space Odyssey
Another film that push the limit of visual spectacle several years before the use of CGI were introduced to filmmakers. This film have influence other memorable films such Star Wars and the recent space adventure hit Gravity. For someone who have never seen it, they would marvel at the visual of this classic sci-fi adventure.

1970s:

Star Wars: A New Hope
Just for visual spectacle, this would be a great film to show it someone from the 1940s or earlier.

SWANewHope_ApocalypseNow

Apocalypse Now
Since Steve Rogers fought in war, he might appreciate a film that shows the horror of fighting in a war.

1980s:

BladeRunner

Blade Runner
Another great sci-fi film that would marvel anyone who’d never seen such a huge visual spectacle.

1990s:

PulpFiction

Pulp Fiction
Might be too harsh for someone who grew up in the 1930-40s but I think he/she would appreciate the unconventional story telling of this film.

2000s:

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Batman Begins & The Dark Knight
The two films that basically changed how super hero films are made today. Films about good vs. evil, anyone can enjoy that. Heck if he/she can see The Dark Knight at an IMAX theater, I have no doubt they would love it.

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Ruth’s List

Now, to complete the 15 movies, here are seven movies I’d recommend. Now, my list is more tailored for Steve Rogers himself, or someone with a similar military background and dedication to serve his/her country.

All the President’s Men

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Since this one is still fresh in my mind, I just think someone in Captain’s position would find the whole Watergate scandal fascinating. As someone who’s so patriotic who’s currently dealing with government conspiracy in his mission post-frozen existence, this film might be a riveting as well as sobering experience to see a commander in chief behaving badly.

Schindler’s List

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As someone who’ve fought the Nazis, Cap would no doubt have an interesting perspectives on the Holocaust. Spielberg’s masterpiece shows the *face* of the enemy and the victim, as well as an unlikely hero who fought with his heart and kindness as his weapons against evil.

Gladiator

Gladiator

One of the best films about the ultimate personal betrayal and a hero who manages to rise above it. Maximus’ journey is inspiring for virtually everyone, but given that he is also a military man, Cap can certainly connect with him in that sense. There’s also a bit of unrequited love story here that he can also relate to.

The Social Network

SocialNetwork

Now one of the things in Cap’s list that we glimpsed in the trailer is Steve Jobs. Now I was going to recommend the Jobs biopic w/ Noah Wyle (as the Jobs movie was crap), but this David Fincher’s film about the *birth* of Facebook is far more fascinating. It might make him less inclined to join social media though, ahah

Wall Street

WallStreet

Cap might be very familiar with the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and perhaps even heard personal stories from his parents or family members. The world of finance and its power to corrupt the human soul should be an intriguing subject for anyone, and this Oliver Stone film remains one of the best on that subject IMO. I doubt Wall Street lifestyle would be appealing to Cap, and he’d be glad he didn’t have to endure 80s fashion!

Wall-E

WallE_Eve
I wanted to include an animated feature to recommend, even if it’s just for Cap to marvel at the visuals and animation technology. Can’t go wrong with Pixar but this one in particular is a must-see. Entertaining, imaginative and thought provoking with its social commentary, but it’s also got so much heart with an unlikely romantic pairing.

Encino Man

EncinoMan
Ok now this one is purely for comic relief of the guilty pleasure variety. In case you haven’t seen this 90s goofy comedy, Brendan Fraser played a cave man who’s found frozen in a backyard of a couple of high school outcasts. Just like Cap, the hero of the story is also trying to grasp the basic concept of modern life. Just something for him to laugh himself silly, a brief respite from all that exhilarating business of saving the world 😀


What do you think of Ted’s and my recommendations?

March 2014 Blind Spot: All The President’s Men (1976)

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This month’s Blind Spot is a ‘hit two birds with one stone’ type of a thing in that it’s part of the conspiracy movies I’ve been bingeing on in anticipation of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s something I’ve been wanting to see for ages, glad I finally got around to it.

I wasn’t even born yet when the scandal happened in 1972, starting with a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in D.C. I’ve seen Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on TV over the years and I think I may have known they’re the journalists who first uncovered the scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation, but I never realized just how they got there.

It’s a testament to Alan J. Pakula‘s shrewd direction and Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman‘s excellent performances that this film remains as gripping as ever, even watched for the first time 38 years after its release. It’s the quintessential political conspiracy drama that earns its ‘true classic’ label, it currently sits at #77 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Films list. I actually watched this film just a day after Pakula’s other conspiracy movie made just two years earlier, The Parallax View, but I enjoyed this one a whole lot more. Obviously I already know that Woodward and Bernstein survived the whole ordeal, but that fact in no way lessens the suspense of the film. It’s perhaps the best film about investigative journalism, and no doubt it’s the film shown in every journalism class in America. Believe it or not, I actually wanted to be a journalist when I first came to the States, so I might’ve seen some clips of this in my Broadcast Journalism class in college.

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Woodward & Bernstein: In the movie & in a real life photo

I was completely engrossed in the story, but not only in terms of the scandal itself, but in the realistic depiction of how the journalists work on their story, as a lot of the film take place within The Washington Post. There’s a scene where the veteran Bernstein started making revisions of Woodward’s drafts without first consulting him. “I don’t mind that you did it,” Woodward said, “I just mind how you did it.” Clearly they didn’t get off on the right foot, but they soon bonded over their tenacity to get to the bottom of this story. There’s a nice rapport between the two actors that worked well here. Clearly the two reporters are such workaholics and became so consumed with the story. I’d think that real journalists have a bit of that obsessive streak in them when they’re following the trail of a story, especially something as important as this one. Little did they know where the story would lead, as the trail just kept getting higher up the chain of the Republican Party and eventually all the way to the White House!

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All the dialog between Woodward & Bernstein and the editors, played by Jack Warden and Jason Robards are quite fascinating, as it shows how risky it was to break a story like this. Amongst the supporting cast, Robards was particularly memorable as Benjamin Bradlee, the then executive editor at the Post. He’s very convincing as a seasoned journalist and has the gravitas required for the role. The scenes in a parking garage where Woodward held his secret meet-up with Deep Throat (a pseudonym the journalists give to the secret informant) is rife with tension, handled brilliantly in an eerie, atmospheric way. Hal Holbrook is perfectly effective in his brief appearance, adding so much to his character and making it practically iconic. “Follow the money,” he says, in one of the most memorable quotes in William Goldman‘s Oscar-winning screenplay.



The scenes where Bernstein coerced his sources to talk are particularly intriguing, especially the one with the book keeper of Committee to Re-elect the President (with an appropriate acronym of CREEP). Jane Alexander was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and I agree that’s quite a fantastic performance. She only had about 8-minute screen time in the entire film, about the same number of minutes Dame Judi Dench appeared in her Oscar-nominated turn in Shakespeare in Love. Truly, there’s really not a boring moment here even during the most seemingly mundane stuff like typing or people talking on the phone. There’s a six-minute continuous tracking shot of Redford being on the phone, according to IMDb trivia, DP Gordon Willis did that in one take!

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I’m surprised Willis was not nominated for an Oscar for his work here, though later on he received an Honorary Academy Award in 2010. I love how he used a variety of creative shots, such as the one where the two reporters were doing meticulous research at the Library of Congress. The camera shot them from above, starting with a close up of their hands sifting through a mountain of library slips and it slowly pulls away, accompanied by the sound of rustling paper and very subtle background music. No words are spoken but it’s a powerful scene. I found this wonderful Mise-en-scène article on this exact scene where the author astutely observed that … “The scene symbolically represents the story of the film, that of two men against an entire administration. It expresses the immensity of the task that lay ahead for the reporters, not just in searching through library cards, but in revealing the truth behind the misdeeds of the administration.”


I love the attention to details of this film, the clothes, the sets, and all the details within The Post headquarter. Apparently the design department of the film even made a replica of the out of date phone books to make it even more authentic! I’m sure there are countless details that I failed to catch. This is definitely the kind of film that warrants subsequent viewings in order to get the details I’ve missed on initial viewing.

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I’ll end this review with one last observation. I like how the story stays focused on the journalism aspect of the scandal and how the Post finally got to publish it, there’s no unnecessary subplots about the personal lives of the leads or anything of the sort. What an intriguing slice of American history, and as someone who’s not born in the US, it’s especially fascinating to see. To this day, every political scandal is tagged with the “-gate” suffix because of this, which adds to the timeless aspect of this film. Thanks to Redford for acquiring the rights to Bernstein’s and Woodward’s memoir and for Mr. Pakula for bringing this engrossing political history to life.

4.5 out of 5 reels


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 All The President’s Men? I’d love to hear what you think!

[Full] Trailer Spotlight – X-Men: Days of Future Past

WHOAH!! I haven’t posted a trailer spotlight in ages but I just HAD to post this one today folks, this is one of my most anticipated movies of the year and despite this awful poster, the trailer definitely gets me super excited!

Patrick Stewart’s voice over alone gets me all hypnotized… this is the kind of trailer where the narration works so well in setting the tone for the film.

Professor X: “You need to go into the past … “
Magneto: “… to end this war before it ever begins”

This film is supposed to act as a sequel to both 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand and 2011’s X-Men: First Class, as well as a follow-up to 2013’s The Wolverine (per Wiki) I think this time travel premise is the first of its kind in ANY franchise (as far I can remember anyway), as the characters from the original movie join forces with their younger selves from First Class to change the past and save their future. Seems like a hugely ambitious project in which I’m glad Bryan Singer is back at the helm. He’s the one filmmaker that gave us the first X-Men film in 2000 that pretty much launched the superhero franchise. Before Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy even entered the picture, X-Men was the first comic-book-based film that is more than just a standard action-adventure, as it metaphorically deals with deeper issues of racism, anti-semitism and outcasts of society. This one is poised to be a mindf*ck that promises to discombobulate as well as enthrall us at the same time.

Morphing Xaviers (McAvoy & Stewart)
Morphing Xaviers (McAvoy & Stewart)
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Morphing Magneto (McKellen & Fassbender)
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Thanks Yahoo UK for the GIFs!

Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart from the first X-Men movie are back, joining First Class cast of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult. Peter Dinklage is one of the new cast member here as Bolivar Trask, a military scientist and the head of Trask Industries who created a range of robots called Sentinels whose purpose is to hunt and destroy mutants. The Intouchables’ Omar Sy also played one of the mutants from the future with the ability to absorb energy to redirect it in kinetic blasts  Seriously, this is the kind of movie to watch even just for the cast!!

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I have to admit I get chills and a bit teary eyed watching this. I LOVE Henry Jackman’s music in the first film, and I was bummed that he’s not back to score this… but now I’m loving John Ottman’s ominous yet thrilling music he’s doing here. It hits the emotional high notes of this epic mutant saga and battle against extinction. That last scene of the two Xaviers facing off each other, oh man, that moment of the younger Xavier shedding a tear always gets me. I’ve been sold on this movie from day one, now I’m officially in agony waiting for this film to open in the US on May 23!


Are you as excited for this one as I am, folks?

Captain America Blogathon Part I – Jack Deth’s List

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Andy over at Fandango Groovers’ Blog was inspired by the latest Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer in which we see Steve Rogers make a note in a pocket note book. It’s a list of things he missed out on in the time he was frozen that people have recommended he should catch up on. So the idea is to list ten movies we’d recommend to a person who had been frozen between 1943 and 2011.

Greetings all and sundry! When one receives an invitation from Ruth to aid in a Blog-A-Thon. Due diligence, patience and thought is required in the assembly of, layout and dissertations of probable, then solid selections.

Being a fan of the late, great Jack Kirby. And his handling of the recently thawed out Captain America/Steve Rogers. And his association with the eye patched, Jack Kirby and Steve Streranko. Robert Culp like Colonel (formerly Sgt.) Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law Enforcement Division) of 1965..

I opened up vast volumes and tomes of cinematic history. For both entertainment and acclimatization’s sake. Since I’m sticking with the cinematic premise of finding Cap frozen outside the Arctic Circle by a new and improved, contemporary S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) of the Samuel L. Jackson.

To that end. Allow me to align my selections in chronological order and introduce:

Ten Films for Captain America: (1943-2011)

#10: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

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Very possibly the best film focusing around returning veterans of World War II. And their adjusting to a world they had left only years before.The film focuses on a decorated bombardier (Dana Andrews), an Army Infantry Squad Leader (Frederic March) and an enlisted sailor (Harold Russell) who lost both of his hands when his ship was shot out from under him.

The tale is not just restricted to the men returning to their Ohio home towns. The director (William Wyler) goes out of his way to see the points of view of their wives (Who give and get as good as their men!) and families are examined as well.

A near perfect film for either Rogers or Cap to enjoy. While understanding that he is not so unique or alone after all.

#9: The Graduate (1967)

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Few films describe the given everything, lazy and spoiled “Baby Boom” generation and the changing mores, culture and morals of the 1960s than this touch stone, Buck Henry comedy.

A well fleshed out and executed thumbnail of the next generation Cap fought for. And what many believe is the decade that changed the world.

#8: The Night of The Living Dead (1968)

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The crème de la crème of low budgeted, back yard horror films! That introduced the mystique of slow moving, cannibalistic, brain eating zombies just under a half century ago While creating a fairly decent analogy for Cap’s arch nemesis, Hydra in regards to ever increasing opposing numbers in a never ending war of attrition.

No frills? You bet! Claustrophobic? Absolutely! In a film that slowly builds, fear, suspense, tension and “Bang for the Buck!” into a finale no one sees coming!

#7: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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The richly opulent and wondrously detailed look at what might have been. Had not “The Great Society” and its first steps of income redistribution been given precedence.

More science fact of the day, than science fiction. Director Stanley Kubrick and author/scientists, Arthur C. Clark go to great lengths in authenticity in this cinematic landmark. A distinctly possible double bill with director, Ron Howards’ Apollo 13, from 1995.

#6: The French Connection (1971)

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This gritty little gem provides one of the most unflattering look at the five boroughs in film. Becoming an uncredited player in a Cat and Mouse game of veteran narcotics cops trying to get ahead of and nail down a then record breaking amount of high grade, near pure heroin as it comes into New York City. In one of the first and best “partner films”to grace the big screen.

Both Steve Rogers and Cap should appreciate and empathize with detectives Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Russo (Roy Scheider) working against the bureaucracy, feds and a god awful winter in their pursuit of the elusive, elegant Frenchman, Charnier (Fernando Rey).

#5: Vanishing Point (1972)

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This would be a pleasantly intriguing pallet cleansing road trip with a mission film. Wrapped around a fully blown 440 big blocked 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T piloted by the stoic, near silent Kowalski (Barry Newman in his first film role). Former Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, uniformed cop and recent Benzedrine aficionado delivering a black Chrysler Imperial to a garage in Denver, Colorado. Then wagering that he can deliver the Challenger to San Francisco in 18 hours.

While offering some superb on location racing between the Charger, Jaguar and other road trekking competitors. The film also reveals an interesting loo at the American Midwest, post Woodstock. As Kowalski and his Dodge elude motorcycle cops and speed traps with the aid of blind African American disc jockey, “Super Soul” (Cleavon Little).

In an impeccable tale of the classic anti-hero going against the system as more and more people hear of Kowalski and his trek through “Super Soul”. And the local police set up a large and unique roadblock outside Cisco, California.

#4: Pat Garrett And Billy the Kid (1973)

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A Western is called for. Though not your John Wayne, John Ford or Howard Hawks kind of Western. One has its roots in history and lore. And told in a slower, more sedate than most.

With the master of the “South of The Border” tales, Sam Peckinpah spinning his sweeping book balancing, payback and redemption yarn in a near Antonioni pace. Amongst a “Who’s Who” of veteran supporting actors sharing action with lush and splendid backdrops. As James Coburn delivers his best underplayed role. Opposite a younger, equally talented Kris Kristofferson.

#3: Young Frankenstein (1974)

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What “kid from Brooklyn” wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to see a cleverly comedic take of a the film that starred Colin Clive as the doctor with a “God Complex” and Boris Karloff as his creation. No doubt seen in countless matinees.

Mel Brooks sticks with the original B&W and used several laboratory sets from the 1935 classic. While pulling out the stops for Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Cloris Leachman as “Frau Blucher”. And Peter Boyle as the intelligent, opinionated monster. Where no classic scene is beyond lampooning and the patter between Wilder and the cast is inspired.

#2: The Usual Suspects (1995)

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Cap may need a refresher in the ancient saw: “Nothing is as it seems!”. In a subtly executed crime film. Told mostly in flashback during an impromptu, recorded interrogation between sole survivor, Verbal Kint (Calmly confident Kevin Spacey) and U.S. Customs Agent David Kujan (Chazz Palmenteri in peak form!). As the “Who?”, “What?” and “Where?” of criminal mastermind, Kayser Soze.

In a film that demands attention as proven and just starting out actord and their characters are introduced and do what they do best. At possibly the behest of the enigmatic, invisible Mr. Soze.

Leaving the Number One spot open for a different and somewhat more historic take on a possible contender to add to Cap’s list of Rocky and Rocky II.

#1: Cinderella Man (2005)

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With Russell Crowe as New Jersey lightweight champion turning heavyweight, James J. Braddock during the Depression of 1929. Suffering from a broken hand and finding work in unions and heavy machinery. Doing what his can to make ends meet for his wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger) and his sons and daughter.

Salvation takes place when Braddock’s old manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) sets up a bout that Braddock wins in a third round knockout. Which blazes a trail to fight heavyweight contender, Max Baer (Craig Bierko).

In a deftly executed period piece that will have the audience cheering in the final reels!


Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews


What do you think of Jack’s recommendations?

FlixChatter Double Review: DIVERGENT

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I thought I’d post a double reviews as we have different perspectives coming into the film. Ashley has read the book by Veronica Roth, but I haven’t. Did we end up with the same or very different conclusions? Read on.

Ruth’s Review

Set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, society has been divided into five factions based on virtues: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Someone is considered divergent when the results of their required aptitude test show that they don’t fit neatly into one faction, which is considered a threat by the leaders who want to maintain a perfectly controlled society. When Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior (Shailene Woodley) finds out she is divergent, she’s warned by the test administrator (Maggie Q) to keep it a secret. On Choosing Day, where every 16-year-old must choose which faction to belong to, Tris chooses to be in Dauntless. The film pretty much focuses on how Tris and fellow new faction members undergo the extreme physical and psychological training in Dauntless, the military-like group that’s assigned to defend threats from outside the city walls.

It’s a lot to take in but somehow director Neil Burger makes it quite easy to follow. It also helps to that right away I can identify with Tris, thanks to Woodley‘s engaging portrayal. Though in the promo materials she’s shown like this tough, bad ass heroine in skin-tight outfit, she actually appears far more human and therefore relatable in the film. The long exposition does a sufficient job developing the main characters, that is Tris and her mysterious faction trainer called Four (Theo James).
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I like the fact that Tris is realistically shown as being vulnerable and out of her element, as one would imagine if you’re thrown into a faction like Dauntless. There’s an interesting dynamics between Tris and fellow Dauntless members, most notably the bully (Miles Teller, who interestingly played her love interest in The Spectacular Now), and the best friend (Zoë Kravitz). Thankfully the romance didn’t become the main focus in the film, and I’m glad Tris wasn’t made out to be this clingy, lovelorn ingenue. There’s enough chemistry between Woodley and James, and if the romance feels unconvincing at times, I think it’s intentional as the characters are still trying to trust each other.
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As the male lead, 29-year-old Theo James proves to be another fetching, crush-worthy Brit who projects a ‘manly tough guy with a heart’ persona. I’ve only seen him as the indelible Mr. Pamuk who seduced Lady Mary in Downton Abbey, but I certainly would like to see more of him in Hollywood. Ansel Elgort is quite effective in his brief scene as Woodley’s brother Caleb who chooses to be in Erudite. The ‘faction over blood’ revelation is handled quite nicely here in their brief but important scene together. The supporting cast are pretty good overall. The casting of Ashley Judd as Woodley’s mother is so spot on as they have such a strong resemblance, and their scene together toward the end is perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching in the film.
The third act is the most action-packed, involving hostile coup d’etat by drugged-up troops, as well as hand-to-hand fight sequences. A lot of it reminds me of the futuristic actioner Equilibrium in which independent will/thought is forbidden under an authoritarian government, but without the over-the-top Gun Kata martial arts that ended up taking over the story. The filmmaker seems to care and respect Roth’s vision of a flawed dystopian society, instead of just setting out to make a cool action adventure. The cinematography is quite beautiful, especially the scenes from above the Ferris Wheel. Plus, as I’ve visited Chicago often, it’s nice to see it being prominently featured on a film as the city itself, instead of as a sub for something else, i.e. Gotham.
Now, the main issue I have with the film is the pacing. It starts rather too slow for my liking and it didn’t quite pick up until the third act. The script by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor spends most of the film expounding the idea of what these factions is all about and Tris’ struggle to find her identity. I don’t know if the book is the same way, but the film barely explains the bigger picture of the society we’re dealing with and what’s outside the city walls. We’re only told briefly that wars have destroyed most of the world, but how and what really happened was never mentioned. Another weak aspect is the main villain Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), an Erudite leader who adamantly believes Divergents must be eradicated. Now, I’m a fan of Winslet as an actress, and granted she has the presence to elevate the material, yet I don’t find her to be menacing nor sinister enough to be effective. In a story like this, I think a strong adversary would help convey what’s really at stake for these characters.
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In the end, it’s the earthy and affable Woodley that keeps the film afloat because I’m invested in her story and her journey. It’s inevitable that given the young adult target audience, the dystopian setting and the fact that it also features a young female protagonist, Divergent will always be compared to The Hunger Games. But having seen the film, I think it has enough distinguishing features to set itself apart and stand on its own two feet. It’s by no means perfect, but despite the flaws, I quite enjoyed it. The ending explicitly sets up a sequel and you know what, I’m actually curious to see what happens next for Tris and Four.

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FREEBIE FRIDAY!

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Giveaway Details: The first 50 people who leaves their email address in the comments will be put into a drawing to win the prize pack. The sole winner will be notified via email on Monday March 24. Contest closes on Sunday March 23, 11:59 pm CST. Contest opens to Minnesota residents only.  Contest is now closed. Winner will be notified by Monday 3/24 at 6pm CST.


Ashley’s Review

Just a fair warning, I tried my best to keep my indifferent feelings about the novel separate from my feelings about the film adaptation. While the film followed the novel fairly closely, I wasn’t blown away by their interpretation. When I saw Catching Fire I felt so engrossed in the world and drama, it felt like I was actually right there with Katniss and Peeta; however, in Divergent I truly felt more like a spectator rather than a participant.  I’ve decided to break my review into three points: casting, score and cinematography.

Casting

This was my first encounter with Shailene Woodley (Beatrice Prior) and I have to say I was really impressed. Divergent explores the limits of a person’s mental and physical toughness, so needless to say they needed someone who could portray Tris’ struggles as she begins her training. In the novel Tris is described as being physically weaker than her other initiates and, according to her, plain. While I wouldn’t call Woodley plain, I think she fit the bill perfectly. I was continually surprised by Woodley’s range of emotions. She proved she can handle comedy by delivering perfect biting one-liners, we see raw and tender moments as it becomes clear she’s not the ultimate warrior (quite the opposite from Hunger Games) and her struggles to separate herself from the connection to her previous faction (Abnegation). However, I wasn’t convinced by her romantic portrayal with Four/Tobias (Theo James).

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As much as I enjoyed James for the eye candy (you’ll know when you see it), I honestly felt like he was too old. Especially since they tried to make Woodley look very frail and innocent, their pairing just seemed creepy. Here’s where the novel and film have a major difference. We’re given more scenes, stolen looks and inner dialogue to see a romantic relationship start to bud, but in the film everything felt forced, awkward and rushed.

I agree with Ruth about Kate Winslet’s performance (Jeanine). In the novel she’s supposed to be a threatening and controlling totalitarian leader, but instead Jeanine comes across as arrogant. I didn’t have the same fear instilled in me like I did with Donald Sutherland’s portrayal of President Snow.

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Another big miss was the tension between Eric (Jai Courtney) and Four. In the film Eric is portrayed as this meathead, where in the novel he’s much lankier and values brains over brawns. We learn the rules for Dauntless initiation are changing and are more cut-throat, leaving the unsuccessful factionless. Four is a big proponent of the traditional ways, but in the film we only see glimpses of their discord. Not enough to justify Eric’s attempted murder towards the end of the film.

Score vs. soundtrack
I thought the techno-vibe score (composed by Junkie XL) was well done. It really seemed to match a futuristic setting and the sometimes abrasive mannerisms of the Dauntless. However, I had some qualms about the soundtrack. I’m a big fan of Ellie Goulding and realize she was selected to help produce the soundtrack, but it was Goulding overload. I enjoy her music but after featuring three or four songs, it felt like I was listening to her on repeat. It was enough to pull me out of the film. This might not matter so much to you, but I’m a big believer in a score or soundtrack’s ability to intensify a film’s emotions. To me it’s just as important as acting.

Cinematography

While there aren’t as many fantastical scenes as The Hunger Games trilogy, I think it could’ve been very easy to create the action scenes in CG, and I’m glad they refrained. There are still some elements, but I felt like they relied upon unique camera angles and amazing props instead. And it paid off. However, the film’s pacing felt rather slow. I can understand they were trying to adhere to the novel as much as possible, but I didn’t start to feel engrossed until 2/3 of the way in.

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One particular scene that comes to mind is when Tris takes her aptitude test. She awakes in a room made entirely of floor length mirrors. I thought this was brilliantly done because each time Tris turned, multiple versions of herself would appear, slowly, which really added to the panic, claustrophobia and confusion this scene was trying to convey. I was really impressed by how the film handled the fear landscape simulations. Again, this could’ve been very cheesy, but it definitely lived up to my imagination. I think fans of the novel will appreciate it as well.

As far as young adult dystopian film adaptations go, I felt like the Divergent did a really nice job of incorporating the big elements from the novel. I was really excited to see how they handled Tris begin her training in Dauntless, the Ferris wheel war games scene and finally the fear landscape simulations. To be fair, I think this is one of those films where it’s better upon second review (as was my first impression with The Hunger Games). Overall, I think this captured the tone of the novel and leaves you with anticipation with what’s to come.

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Well, that’s our thoughts on Divergent. Let us know what YOU think of the movie.

Wordless Wednesday: 5 Clips with Emma Thompson

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Hello everyone! I’m not the best person to keep up with blog series, but I’m hoping to try do this once a month. As a respite from blogging five days a week, I’ll choose a random Wednesday of the month to shine a spotlight on or pay tribute to something/someone with clips and/or gifs I find on Tumblr.

Well, since Saving Mr. Banks is out on DVD/Blu-ray yesterday, in honor of Emma Thompson‘s fantabulous, shoulda-been-Oscar-nominated role as Mary Poppins‘ author P.L. Travers, I just want to highlight some of my favorite performances of the English actress. So, without further ado, here they are…

Responstible – Saving Mr Banks

Meeting Harold – Stranger Than Fiction

Beatrice & Benedick Banter – Much Ado About Nothing

Karen confronts Harry – Love, Actually

Resignation & Acceptance – Sense & Sensibility


These are just a sampling of my favorite Emma Thompson performances, what are yours?