MAY Viewing Recap, Top 3 MSPIFF 2015 + Movie of the Month

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Well May turns out to be quite a busy movie watching month! Surprising since I only went to one press screening all month (Tomorrowland). I am looking forward to quite a few screenings in June: Spy (this Tuesday!), Inside Out, Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys. I REALLY want to see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl but that’ll be three screenings back-to-back in a week so not sure I can fit that one in.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Highlights from Wizard World 2015

Spotlight on Character Actors of Twilight Zone Series

Movie Roulette Blogathon

Music Break: Not Another Happy Ending

Rental Pick: Time Lapse

May Blind Spot Pick:

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Breathless – À Bout de Souffle (1960)

New-to-me Movies:

Paddington

Felony

The Rewrite

Far From The Madding Crowd

Tomorrowland

Mad Max: Fury Road

Thérèse Desqueyroux (2012)

Populaire (2012)

Violette (2013)

Pour Une Femme (2013)

Cheba Louisa (2013)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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After seeing the stellar Mad Max: Fury Road, my hubby and I saw The Road Warrior (1981) this weekend and we loved it! I think I’ve seen it years ago when I was a wee kid but I could remember much of the plot so it felt like new to me. Clearly the Mad Max franchise is George Miller‘s magnum opus and even though it was made over 3 decades ago, it still has a certain timeless quality about it and the action set pieces are fantastic despite the limited budget compared to this latest one. I’d rank Road Warrior as high as Fury Road, though certainly the Furiosa story adds a great deal of emotional depth to the film. But hey, 25-year-old Mel Gibson was pretty damn hot in his prime 😉

Rewatches:

Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

Sabrina (1995)

Last Night (2010)

Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

[Belated] Top 3 Picks from MSPIFF 2015

It’s a month late but I thought I’d still post my friend Josh’s and my top 3 picks from MSPIFF as some of the films are now available to rent on VOD.

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Josh’s Top 3

3: The Secrets of War
A rushed ending notwithstanding, The Secrets of War is quite good. All three child actors are solid to excellent; the thematic and dramatic heft of the narrative carry the film; and the picture’s sense of period is terrific. That there are some deeply moving moments interspersed throughout helps, as well.

2: The Keeping Room
Powered by strong performances from Brit Marling, Sam Worthington, and Muna Otaru, The Keeping Room fuses multiple genres well. At times, director Daniel Barber and writer Julia Hart make this dark civil war film suspenseful; at other times frightening; and at other times emotionally rife. Of course, it also helps that Barber’s visual aesthetics are a feast for viewers’ eyes.

1: The Connection
The Connection overcomes a predictable plot by depicting complex characters. It also capitalizes on a perfect ending that captures proper thematic heft at the same time it fittingly ends the characters’ paths. Terrific performances from Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lelouche, and Celine Sallette make this a film worth seeing, as well.

Ruth’s Top 3

3: El Critico
I enjoyed this one immensely! Being a film blogger, I definitely identified with the protagonist, and I totally share his scorn for most Hollywood rom-coms. Definitely worth your time when this movie is available to rent.

2: Clouds of Sils Maria
Seems tradition that I see a Juliette Binoche movie at MSPIFF and this is the best one yet! She came up with the premise of the film and director Olivier Assayas did a wonderful job penning the script and made the story come to life. Both miss Binoche and Kristen Stewart are tremendous here and the film work largely due to their performances.

1: Girlhood
I rewatched parts of this French drama now that it’s on Netflix and I absolutely adore this film. Thanks to this film I discovered the lovely Karidja Touré in her mesmerizing acting debut. No doubt one of the best and emotionally-compelling coming-of-age film I’ve seen in some time.

Movie of the Month

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I’ve been wanting to see What We Do in the Shadows ever since I saw the hilarious trailer months ago. Well this New Zealand mockumentary had me in stitches, it’s as hysterical as I had hoped and then some. If you’re a fan of vampire/werewolf movies, or just great comedies in general, I can’t recommend this enough. It pokes fun of the classic horror genre, but in a way it’s an homage to it at the same time. I sure wish they’re making a sequel of this as I would watch it in a heartbeat!


So that’s my May recap. What’s YOUR fave movie(s) you saw this month?

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Rental Pick: Time Lapse (2014)

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I saw this back in October when the film was screened at Twin Cities Film Festival. This film is yet another proof one does not need a big budget to create a compelling film, and a tight script certainly goes a long way. Time Lapse isn’t a time travel per se, not in the traditional sense anyway. The time aspect refers to the mysterious camera machine that takes pictures 24 hours into the future.

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The film is basically an ensemble piece of three characters living in the same apartment,  Callie (Danielle Panabaker), Finn (Matt O’Leary), and Jasper (George Finn). When one of them inadvertently stumbled into the machine during a routine property maintenance, things quickly unravel. The machine resides in the unit right across from theirs and somehow they’re the ones who end up in the pictures… only a day ahead.

I love the mystery aspect and the filmmaker creates a noir-ish ambience with the lighting and dramatic shadows. Given the low budget, the setting is constrained into this apartment and its courtyard, but that actually gives you a sense of claustrophobia that enhances the tension. The camera machine itself looks rather ominous and it made you wonder just what that thing is really capable of. What makes this sci-fi thriller intriguing is the psychology aspect of how the discovery affects each character and slowly transforms them before they realize what hits them. It amplifies the worst trait of each of them… whether it’s greed, desire or paranoia. It’s quite fun to watch how this discovery changes them and in turn their relationship with each other.

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All three actors fit the roles nicely. I’m especially drawn to Finn’s character Jasper, I suppose the bad boys always have more fun. O’Leary is perhaps a bit too reserved and melancholy as Finn, though he does present a nice contrast to Jasper’s more impulsive nature. There’s a bit of love triangle going on between the three, as Callie & Finn are an item whilst Jasper isn’t quite subtle about his [lustful] feelings for Callie. As the only girl in the group, Callie is a bit of a mystery to me, but in a way it works for the story.

The script by Bradley King and BP Cooper is pretty tightly-focused whilst somehow still maintain a level of quirks and humor throughout. Jasper sure does some dumb things as his greed overtakes him. As he tries to use the machine for monetary gain, he ended up getting involved with some shady characters and you know things won’t end well. But yet the film still manages to surprise you in one violent scene. Even that scene isn’t devoid of humor, making you wince as well as laugh at the same time.

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As with a lot time travel movies, the logic doesn’t always compute but the story is engaging and keeps you guessing right until the end. I have to admit that I didn’t see the twist coming, but once it’s revealed it made me think about some of the events that happened that lead to that point. It’s certainly in keeping with how the machine basically messes with the characters’ head, and how even they themselves were caught off guard by it in the end.

There are very few special effects in this movie, but the filmmaker did invest in creating this retro-looking camera machine that has that steam-punk quality to it. During the Q&A after the screening, King shared that he worked with a concept artist named Howard Schechtman and he made it clear I didn’t want any LEDs or lasers or computer chips, etc. They ended up using parts from an airplane junkyard, hardware stores, even those from the abandoned apartment complex itself. I thought that was pretty darn cool.

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There’s a Hitchcock-ian vibe to this film, the minimalist setting is enhanced by an atmospheric score by Andrew Kaiser. This film won Indie Vision: Breakthrough Film award at last year’s Twin Cities Film Fest. It’s a well-deserved win as I’m VERY impressed by King’s feature film debut and would keep an eye out for what he’s going to do next.

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This movie is now available on available on iTunes & Amazon.

Check out my interview with Bradley King and George Finn at 2014 TCFF


Have you seen Time Lapse? Well, what do you think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week: Favorite French Film(s)

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Glad it’s Thursday already, ya gotta love a short work week 🙂 Well it’s kinda an uneventful week in terms of movie screening. There’s the Bradley Cooper rom-com ALOHA which I’m really not interested in, and I also have zero interest in seeing San Andreas. But I am excited to see SPY next week. I’m not really a fan of Melissa McCarthy but the trailer is a hoot! Plus, there Jason Staham AND Jude Law? I’m SO there.

Ok, now let’s get to those linky dinky…

Mark and Tom have been hosting their Decades Blogathon series on their respective blogs. The reviews have been excellent, check ’em out if you haven’t already.

Jordan reviewed Gaspar Noé‘s fantasy drama from 2009, Enter the Void. He apparently’s been causing quite a stir with his latest film Love [or should it be called lust??]

Josh reviewed Tomorrowland, and he’s one of the few who actually loved the movie

Stu reviewed a John Hughes’ classic The Breakfast Club

Andrew posted one of his 4-Ways Best Picture Bloggers Roundtable, this time focusing films from 2004

Margaret highlights the awesome soundtrack of Mad Max: Fury Road

A couple of notable lists: Katy shared a great find of favorite movie travel posters, whilst Nostra continued posting his Top 100 Films in batches, check out which ones made his list from 40-31.


Time for question of the week!

I’ve quickly become a Francophile now thanks to my current crush Stanley Weber ehm… I’ve been watching a ton of French movies, some even without subtitles! [yes I’m THAT obsessed], but seriously, there’s a whole array of French Cinema out there waiting for me to discover. It just so happens I have one French New Wave film on my Blindspot list, so Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless was the perfect pick for May.

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Well, in honor of Cannes that just wrapped this past week, I’m curious how you feel about French Cinema and which are some of your favorite French movies. In the spirit of recommendation, the two I just saw recently were Thérèse Desqueyroux, Violette – where Stanley have a supporting role, and Pour Une Femme (For A Woman) which was screened at MSPFF last year. All of the movies are on Netflix and I’d recommend all three. They so happen that all three are female-centric, which is always welcome in my book.

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So what are your favorite French film(s), both classic and contemporary ones?

May 2015 Blindspot: Breathless – À bout de souffle (1960)

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One of the fun things about participating in this Blindspot series is to familiarize myself with certain genre or film movement. I actually picked this one rather randomly, not realizing this was part of the French New Wave, which happens to be the renowned French auteur Jean-Luc Godard‘s first feature film.

Films set in the City of Lights are always welcome in my book, and this one looks absolutely spectacular in black and white. I find myself paying more attention to the gorgeous city than reading the subtitles, but it seems the filmmaker seems deliberately more concerned more about the presentation than its narrative. Breathless is unabashedly stylish and cool – chock full of gorgeous scenery, good looking people and chic Parisian fashion.

Jean Seberg is simply adorable in her pixie cut and cat-like eyeliner whilst Jean-Paul Belmondo is all rebellious swagger. As the film’s antihero Michel Poiccard, he’s unscrupulous through and through, but definitely not without charm.

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A small time thief who nonchalantly kills a cop who pursues him, he just as casually hits a man and hides him in a bathroom stall without blinking an eyelid. Michel is one smooth bastard, yet somehow she gains the affection of Patricia Franchini, an American journalism student he’d met up in Nice a few weeks earlier. Their first meeting as she’s selling newspaper is infused with so much style. C’est magnifique!

There’s such a relaxed, leisurely tone to the movie that fits the message that celebrates freedom and independence. It’s apparent in their conversation and action of the leads how much they value their liberty. Some people might find this movie boring, especially the scene in Patricia’s flat where they spend 20+ minutes simply talking, and Michel trying to get under her skirt, but not much happens. Yet I’m quite enthralled by it all, there’s a certain charm in the forthright conversation between them despite its unabashed crudeness. Michel’s vulgarity and persistence in getting her to bed is contrasted by Patricia’s almost childlike innocence. She somehow remains unaffected by his mercurial mood and she has such a sweet way of rebuffing his advances.

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I find Michel’s utter ignorance and lack of culture quite hilarious.

Patricia: Do you know William Faulkner?
Michel: No. Who’s he? Have you slept with him?

I read later how this film became the quintessential film of the French New Wave, which is described in Wiki as having a documentary-style format, feature existential theme laden with irony and sarcasm. It’s clearly a risky move back then to create a film like this. Per IMDb trivia, its star “[Belmondo] was very surprised by the warm reception the film received. Immediately after production he was convinced it was so bad that he thought the film would never be released.” I don’t think even Godard or Truffaut would be so well-received, nor would they predict the film would become such a pop culture icon. I’ve been reading some articles on this that cite how influential Godard’s debut is even to this day.

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Visually the film is truly a work of art. Nearly every frame is like a postcard of Paris. It’s an amazing feat given the low budget. Apparently Godard couldn’t afford a dolly at the time, so he pushed cinematographer Raoul Coutard around in a wheelchair through many scenes of the film. I love how in many scenes I felt like I’m viewing the city through the eyes of the characters, strolling pass Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées and café terraces. I especially love the scenes as they’re driving, whether with the top down in a Cabriolet or inside a Taxi like this scene below:

I found this photo of Coutard filming on a rooftop and clearly that’s how we get the sweeping view of the magnificent city. There are also the intriguing hand-held shots roaming a room, street, elevator, etc. that gives us a sense of realism.

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I really enjoyed this one and even re-watched parts of it just before I published this review, the scene of the two leads in bed and the finale. Yes it’s perhaps simplistic narratively but Godard more than made up for it in style. This is one of those films I can see myself revisiting again later in the future and it’ll always make me reminisce about Paris. The jazzy music by Martial Solal complements it perfectly, sometimes the music even takes center stage, some scenes play out like a fashionable music video. It’s no surprise this movie’s been remade and Hollywoodized in 1983. I have no desire in seeing that one however, surely it could barely hold a candle to this original version.

Well, it’s been over a half a century since the film’s release and it’s only just my first intro into Godard’s work. I suppose better late than never, right? I’m curious to check out his other films, so if you have recommendations as to which ones I should watch next, do let me know!

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The Blind Spot series was originally spearheaded by Ryan at The Matinee, and I was also inspired by Dan’s list at Public Transportation Snob.

2015BlindSpotCheck out my list of 2015 Blind Spot Films


Have you seen Breathless? Well, what did YOU think?

Weekend Roundup: Quick thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road + Cannes 2015

Memorial Weekend came a bit early this year, but hey, a three-day weekend is ALWAYS welcome. It’s been a nice, mellow weekend for me, giving me a chance to catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in a while.

I also got a chance to finally see Mad Max: Fury Road and well, here’s my initial reaction:

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So yeah I totally agree with Ted’s review and I personally would’ve given it a 4.5/5 reels. My hubby and I have decided we’ll see this again in a bigger screen with Dolby Atmos as the visuals are simply astounding!! What surprised me most was how emotionally-gratifying the film was… the visual spectacle did NOT smother the story that it became more style over substance [I’m looking at you Tomorrowland!]

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are simply superb here, both bringing their A-game in terms of physical and emotional performance. This film is more about Furiosa’s story than it is about Max, but that’s not to say that Max was just tagging along. I think the story of a partnership between the two lost souls is beautifully realized… nobody needed *saving* but their shared journey ended up bringing redemption to both of them. The supporting characters are wonderful as well.

I found this Tumblr post and I agree wholeheartedly with what’s being said below on the relationship between Capable (Riley Keough) & Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

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I’ve been following Cannes 2015 the past week and now that it’s wrapped, so in case you haven’t been reading about it, here are some of the big winners…

The Palme d’Or winner: Dheepan by Jacques Audiard A Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris

Grand Prize runner up: Son of Saul by László Nemes – In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.

Jury Prize: The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos – In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days or are transformed into animals and released into the woods.

Best Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien for The Assassin – Based on a short story written during Tang dynasty, “Nie Ying Niang” is a story about assassin Nie’s mission to assassinate a political rival

Best Actor: Vincent Lindon for The Measure of a Man (La loi du marché)

Best Actress (tie): Rooney Mara for Carol and Emmanuelle Bercot for Mon Roi.

I can’t wait to see all of these movies, I sure hope all of them will get a decent release here. I’m surprised Macbeth or even Mad Max: Fury Road didn’t get any award, especially the latter. The reviews I’ve glanced through so far for Macbeth have been positive so I really can’t wait for that! Of course it’s never too early to talk about Oscar and this HitFix article talks about which movies are ready for Oscar close-ups.


Of course my weekend wouldn’t be complete without some Stanley Weber viewing 😉 Friday night was Movie Nite with my girlfriends and we watched Not Another Happy Ending… I lost count how many times I’ve seen it but I still love it!

I also watched The Hollow Crown: Henry V, which is the last of the four-part BBC miniseries I’ve mentioned here. I can’t believe I still haven’t seen this given how many amazing British actors are involved. I will watch all four miniseries at some point, but I couldn’t help watching this one because Stanley has a small role as the Duke of Orléans.

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He barely got any screen time in this series, which is a pity. I wish one day I’d see him be the star of his own Shakespearean production! Judging from a dozen roles I’ve seen Stanley played so far, he’s definitely a versatile and dedicated actor who’s ready for his very own closeup any day now.

Well, since I’m currently obsessed with anything Parisian, it’s easy to decide what my May Blindspot movie pick would be:

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À bout de souffle (Breathless) – by Jean-Luc Godard

Can you believe it I’ve never seen a Godard film before? It’s also written by François Truffaut too, another French filmmaker whose work I’m not familiar with… yet. Review shall be up sometime Tuesday!


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

FlixChatter Review: Tomorrowland (2015)

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I hadn’t heard much about this film until I saw the trailer a couple of months ago. Apparently it was based on a section at Disney theme parks, featuring attractions that depict views of the future. The movie opens in the mid 60s with a young boy Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) who made his way to a New York World Fair, feverishly excited to show off his flying jetpack invention that reminds me of something out of Disney’s The Rocketeer. It’s not working properly yet and so a renowned inventor David Nix (Hugh Laurie) rejected it.

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Despite his failure, Frank’s enthusiasm caught the attention of a mysterious young girl named Athena, and that’s how he ended up in this amazing futuristic city that seem to exist in a parallel dimension. I was caught up in that sense of wonder as the buildup promises something that would totally blow me away. The movie seems to have a lot going for it – an intriguing sci-fi mystery concept, a talented director and big name star. It also boasts some spectacular and imaginative visuals, which is to be expected from a budget of nearly $200 mil. Alas, I kept waiting to be completely in awe of the movie right up until the end, but that moment never came.

The only times where the movie REALLY tickle my curiosity is in that first 10 minutes with the young Frank when he first saw the futuristic city. There’s also the first few minutes after a young teen named Casey (Britt Robertson) found the mystifying pin that upon touching it transports her into the spectacular universe filled with futuristic skyscrapers, connected by a sleek-looking monorail. According to this article, ILM spent 2.5 years to produce over a thousand effects shots, employing 200 employees to create that futuristic world. Was the result something that would knock your socks off? Visually, yes. But if only Disney would invest in a script that is equally awe-inspiring.

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Even though the movie has a lot to say about invention and creativity, the script from Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird is largely uninspiring. It’s really a huge letdown as the build-up was so promising and I was really hoping to be wowed by it all. The uneven tone throughout the movie proved to be rather distracting and the movie never quite find its footing. Midway through the movie, when Casey entered an antique shop looking for answers about the pin, the film descend into a slapstick farce. The casting of comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn just seem out of place here, but then so is country artist Tim McGraw. By that point though, I was still keen on figuring out just what the heck is going on, and so I went along for the ride.

But the more the plot is unraveled, the more underwhelming the movie becomes. The finale is formulaic, even borderline absurd, and worst of all, preachy. I appreciate the message of optimism and the attempt to inspire youth’s imagination, but I really could do without the preachy-ness of taking better care of our world, etc. Suddenly I was given an environmental lecture from a rather lame villain who barely has any character development in the movie. I really don’t know what to make of Laurie‘s character but one thing for sure, the talented actor was wasted in this role.

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George Clooney adds star power in the role of the older Frank, though he spends most of the movie being curmudgeon rather than his charming self. I was more impressed by the young actors, especially Robertson who infused the role with her buoyancy and genuine optimism. English actress Raffey Cassidy is absolutely adorable as Athena who’s perhaps the heart of the movie. Together with Robertson, the two young actresses also provide some unexpected comic relief. There are fun moments scattered throughout, like the scene involving the Eiffel Tower, but overall the movie just feels haphazard and irritatingly heavy-handed. It’s disappointing given the talents involved, especially Brad Bird who’s a creative visionary behind The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. I suppose I should’ve been worried when I saw Lindelof’s name attached to the script, given what he did with Prometheus, among other things.

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Similar to another big-budget sci-fi Elysium, this movie feels like a poorly-executed ambitious concept. I wouldn’t say Tomorrowland is a terrible film or that it’s completely without merit. I think kids might still enjoy it and there are plenty of cool, shiny things to wow them. But for me, all the visual gadgetry and bombastic action involving giant robots and weird cyborgs ring hollow. At 130 minutes, there are numerous fillers that feel pointless by the end of it. It’s like an exhilarating ride that was fun for a while, then runs out juice halfway through but yet kept going on for far too long.

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Have you seen Tomorrowland? Well what do YOU think?

The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959-1964): Character Actors’ Paradise!

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Greetings all and sundry!

Having laughed uproariously over the hue and cry of the media’s perceived panic from its Meteorologists, weather people and Doomsday oracles regarding Climate Change along the nation’s East Coast. I’ve also been allotted time wisely used to suit up, dig deep and scribble notes about one of the best episodic Anthology television series of the very late 1950s and 60s.

Which graced prime time evening B&W screens for five 30 episode seasons. Allowed copious room for young and notable writing talents of Rod Serling, Richard Matheson and others to come up with the verbal grist for tales. Predominantly in the usually dark fantasy realm. Though Science Fiction would drop by from time to time. Providing a “Who’s Who” and Rogues Galley of talent from novices to seasoned veterans to deliver the consistently satisfying goods.

So, please allow me a few moments of your time. As I wax nostalgic and apply my own unique perspective in high or spotlighting these talents with:

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The Twilight Zone (1959-1964):
Character Actors’ Paradise!

Every historian, critic, blogger, geek, nerd and fan person has their own personal list. So, I expect to catch some Flak. That comes with the territory in my selections. But that is what sites like this are all about. The polite discussion of like and differing views and opinions.Though, I do claim sole responsibility for the categories and methods used in my proffered selections.

#1: Best Solo Performance:
The Invaders (Season 2, Ep. 15)

Picture a barren mountainous Outback. A lone ramshackle shack and its old, solitary and silent woman eking through evening chores in a spartan kitchen to a meal on the table. When a loud noise followed by a crash upon the roof turns the old crone’s world upside down.

The old crone is veteran actress, Agnes Moorehead. At the time, a very popular commodity and frightening voice acting talent for the radio stage play/soap opera, ‘Sorry, Wrong Number’. And later, as the evil witch and Mother In Law, “Endora” on ABC’s ‘Bewitched’. Denied the use of her pipes. Though making up for it through facial expression, gestures and Physicality. Delivering an Emmy worthy performance. As she cautiously gives into Curiosity, fear and finally, retribution as the cause(s) of the noise and crash make themselves known!

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All done on a next to nothing set better suited for a small stage play. Spartan and wanting in every respect. While speaking volumes loudly in setting mood and shadowy, sometimes dusty and lamp lit atmosphere! Also a model of frugality with the episode’s Director, Douglas Heyes providing the tinny whispered voices of what doesn’t belong.

Honorable Mentions:

Where Is Everybody? (S1.E1)
As Earl Holliman (‘The Big Combo’, ‘Police Woman’) tries to make sense of his investigation of an abandoned rural town. Searching high and low. Coming up empty while staving off panic and a possible breakdown.

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The Last Night of a Jockey (S5. E5)
Mickey Rooney as a washed up jockey in a cheap flop house room. Facing doping charges while arguing over the telephone with the reporter who broke the case. Until ironic fate intervened.

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King Nine Will Not Return (S2 E1)
Bob Cummings (‘My Living Doll’) is the sole survivor of a battle damaged B-25 medium bomber crash landed in the North African desert during WWII. The episode’s twenty five minutes is devoted to Mr. Cummings’ Capt. James Embry searching the downed plane and surrounding sands for the missing crew members. While retracing the steps of the mission and fighting heat stroke and dehydration.

Note: Based somewhat on the true story of a B-24 bomber, ‘Lady Be Good’ lost during WWII. And discovered intact during oil exploration of the Libyan desert.

#2: Episode I Most Empathize With:
Time Enough At Last (S1 E8)

Stalwart veteran of the art, Burgess Meredith is meek, quiet, henpecked at home bank teller, book keeper Henry Bemis. Of poor vision and very thick glasses, Mr. Bemis has a vice. Close to an obsession and easy form of escape. Reading.

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Books. Newspapers. Not a surfeit of magazines. Mr. Bemis can be found with his nose buried in any of them. When he should be paying attention behind the Teller’s counter to customers wanting to transact business and finances. Life is not good for Mr. Bemis. Nor is it for the rest of the world as that pesky political “Doomsday Clock” ticks and clicks closer to midnight. Which means nothing to Henry as he heads off to work. Takes his lunch in the bank’s basement vault. Contentedly reading away. Surrounded by steel and paper, Two of nature’s better insulators against blast and radiation. As the ground shakes. Dust falls and the lights go out.

Leaving Mr. Bemis alone amongst the ruins of fallen building and businesses. Intent of finding the local library. Which he pillages for stacks and stacks of authors; works. Mixed with history and other temping delights. Finding a comfortable place to sit on the library’s stone steps. Henry takes his glasses off to clean them. They drop and lenses break amongst the rubble.

Personal Note: Though I despised grade school “Dick & Jane”primers as a child. I somehow learned to love words. Their construction, music and proper spelling by age ten. I don’t know how or why. But I latched onto it. And a pair of glasses. The results has been a voracious appetite. With many more paperbacks than hard covers. As the former gave me something to be occupied with after completing maintenance tasks on aircraft assigned to dozens of flight lines around the world through a decades long career.

#3: Best Use Of Available Talent:
The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine (S1 E4)

Though this episode completely slipped through on my critique of Martin Balsam on It Rains… You Get Wet blog. I’ll give this episode its due. For excellent us of Ms. Ida Lupino as Barbara Jean Trenton. Fading, near forgotten movie star. Who spends most of her time watching herself and other actors in the “screening room” of her expansive home.

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Fate begins to intervene with the arrival of her agent, Danny Weiss (Tailor made Martin Balsam), who has a proposition for a part in an upcoming film. Opposite another older leading man, Marty Sall (Arrogant Ted De Corsia). Who now runs a chain of popular super markets. And demands a face to face interview. Which really doesn’t go very well. As the egos of two Divas clash. And Billy is left to smooth ruffled feathers. Give a few deserved verbal licks to Marty. And pick up the pieces as Barbara returns home. Sits before the screen to avoid the questioning maid. Who opens the screening room door as Danny arrives. Only to see Barbara on the screen. Gliding away into the scene. Before turning and tossing a red silk scarf that blanks out the.image. Leaving Billy to turn and enter the wide foyer and find Barbara’s scarf.

Note: Good old fashioned story telling. Highlighted by Ms. Lupino and Mr. Balsam. Aided with Mr. Serling’s bit of homage to Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. While using the film’s original composer, Franz Waxman.

Honorable Mention:

The Masks (S5 E25)

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One of the earliest, creepiest and beat precursors to the novel and later film, Daddy’s Dying. Who’s Got The Will?!. Though, in this tale directed by Ms. Ida Lupino. The location is New Orleans. And “Daddy” is wealthy industrialist, Jason Harper. Who has invited his whiny, hypochondriac daughter, Emily (Virginia Gregg). Her greedy, near sociopath husband, Wilfred (Milton Selzer). Narcissist grand daughter, Paula (Brooke Hayward) and sadistic, glutton, Wilfred Jr. (Alan Sues)… All they have to do is don and wear the masks Jason had made by “an old Cajun”and perfectly reflect their inner selves until midnight

#4: Jack Klugman:
A Passage for Trumpet (S1 E36)

Mr. Klugman plays beyond down and out, broke and proven untrustworthy trumpeter, Joey Crown. Who pawns his horn and steps in front of a speeding truck. Shaken and confused, Joey discovers that he’s not exactly dead. Nor alive, either. More like in a holding pattern until greater decisions are made. And surprised that someone else can see and hear him. A dapper well dressed gentleman with a horn named Gabriel (John Anderson). Who talks to Joey and lets him see where he screwed up his life, club owners and friends. And didn’t. Delivering the gift of optimism as Joey returns to the Pawn Shop and hears the squeal of a trucks brakes.

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Flashed back to the moment of the accident. Where he gets up from the sudden crowd around him. Dusts himself off as the truck driver hopes Joey will keep his mouth shut. Stuffs a wad a bills in his hand. And Joey ready to buy back his horn. Play it on a rooftop within earshot of a woman new to the city (Mary Webster) who likes his playing. And takes Joey a step further into his new life.

A Game of Pool (S3 E5)
Jesse Cardiff (Mr. Klugman) is a kind of sloppy, unkempt pool player/hustler with dreams of immortality. Gifted, but not quite as good as the seriously revered, James H. “Fats” Brown. Whom players and wannabes around Chicago and Lister’s pool hall keep reminding Jesse of and comparing him to. But, Jesse is just a tad wanting. Until Jesse calls “Fats” out in a pique of anger.

Surprised. Jesse turns at a sound as “Fats” (Jonathan Winters. Surprising calm, level headed and good!) introduces himself and the stakes are set… Immortality for one. Anonymity for the other. Winner take all!

In Praise of Pip (S5 E1)
Max Phillips (Mr. Klugman) is a two time loser bookie with a conscience. Suffering from a gunshot wound from a botched hit. And has received a DoD telegram informing him that his son, Pip has been seriously wounded in a far off country called Vietnam. Which doesn’t help Max’s present plight of trying to elude the persistent shooter through the arcades, rides, crowds and noise of Pacific Ocean Park.

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Turning away from a kiosk, Max thinks he see his young son, Pip (Billy Mumy) break away from a clutch of gawkers. And leads Max on a chase to catch up. Stumbling into a House of Mirrors. Max finds Pip. Who explains that he is dying. Before dashing deeper into the mirrored mystery and beyond. Unable to follow due to blood loss. Max prays to God to take his life in lieu of Pip’s.

Many years later. A grown Pip returns to the Park with the aid of a cane. To remember his father and all of the fun times shared there.

#5: Best Use Of A Well Hidden Ironic “McGufffin’:
To Serve Man (S3 E24)

To all of the true fanciers of this classic, long running series. All I have to say is: “It’s… It’s a cookbook!”

Honorable Mentions:

The Eye Of The Beholder (S2 E6)

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A woman under heavy bandages (Maxine Stuart) awakes under heavy bandages awakes from having undergone state sanctioned and mandated facial reconstructive surgery. In the hope of being beautiful. Or at least looking like everybody else. In a tale told exclusively from Ms. Stuart’s perspective. Expressing joy and anticipation. Until the bandage come off!

The Rip Van Winkle Caper (S2 E24)

An arrogant criminal “mastermind”, Farwell (Oscar Berigi Jr.) assembles three expendable accomplices. De Cruz (Simon Oakland), Brooks (Lew Gallo) and Erbie (John MiItchum) to hijack and rob an armored car shipment of gold from Fort Knox, Kentucky to Los Angeles. The robbery goes well and the gang pulls their vehicles into a cave at the base of a granite mountain. Where Farwell has arranged their “escape plan”. Four man sized cylinders to be filled gas that will put them into suspended animation for 100 years. Far exceeding any Statute of Limitation. The hired help is skeptical, especially De Cruz, but climb inside their chambers.Only to awake and find that Erbie’s chamber had been breached by a fallen rock and leaving a wretched looking skeleton.

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The pick up truck Farwell has secured still runs. And Farwell promptly runs over Brooks and over turns the transportation dodging Brooks bullets. leaving a 50-50 split of whatever gold bar De Cruz and Farwell can carry as they walk towards civilization, De Cruz starts putting high prices on sips of water from De Cruz’s one remaining canteen. Farwell has had enough and shoots De Cruz. Stumbles out onto an endless deserted highway. And if found near death and rambling about gold to an elder couple out on a Sunday Hover Car ride. George (Wallace Rooney) calls the police to report the body. As he and his wife (Shirley O’Hara) share a laugh over gold being worthless for close to a century.

#6: Best, Over The Top Chewing Of Scenery:
Nightmare At 20.000 Feet (S5 E3)

William Shatner is Bob Wilson. A businessman recovering from a nervous breakdown. Who is traveling back home with his wife, Julia (Christine White) on a Douglas DC-4 airliner. Bob also has the sad misfortune of being assigned a window seat just behind the plane’s propeller engines. Drawing the window’s blind closed as a the airliner tries climbing above a thunderstorm. Whose accompanying lightning reveals something on the left wing!

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Bob must quell the desire, the near need to absolutely lose it. Lest he return to the Sanitorium as the thing (A Gremln) toys with Bob between bouts of tearing off wing panels. Julia senses something is amiss and tries to calm Bob. Who has fifteen minutes of “logical insanity” to play with, And is even more certain of the sabotage. Even if those whom he calls to look out his window see nothing. Determined. Bob notices a uniformed cop of a holstered .38. Takes matters and the pistol into his own hands, And turns the “Emergency Exit” latch beneath his window…

Honorable Mention:

The Obsolete Man (S2 E29)

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Burgess Meredith is Romney Wordsworth. A librarian caught up in a future totalitarian society where words and their meaning have become confused, irrelevant and obsolete. Finding himself persecuted and on trial for his life. Prosecuted by the smug, arrogant and erudite “Chancellor” (Fritz Weaver). Who easily turns around every one of Wordsworth’s arguments. Wordsworth is deemed “Obsolete” and scheduled to die at midnight. By a method of Wordworth’s choosing. With the State taking advantage of present technology and broadcasting the execution live!

Now. One may expect that Burgess Meredith can chew some righteous scenery, given the opportunity. And he does get some decent licks in. But, it is Fritz Weaver’s “Chancellor” who gloats and revel in the infallibility and surety of the State who runs past the End Zone with it! So sure of himself. His position and power. As he shares Mr. Wordsworth’s last moments on earth.

But, Mr. Wordworth is content and serene. Having made his peace. Quietly reading The Bible as the hidden bomb ticks down. The Chancellor starts showing cracks and signs of weakness, cowardice. And fear! Being allowed to escape seconds before the bomb in Mr. Wordsworth’s quarters explodes. Leaving The Chancellor to face the wrath of his staff, minions and the State!

Overall Consensus

Being of a time and age when “Must See TV” of the 1970s and 80s was decades away. Certain series were given their allotted half hour or hour to be enjoyed around the television set week after week. And The Twilight Zone was one of those series. Not necessarily for a glimpse at a “Monster of The Week”, but for each episode’s stab at uniqueness and difference from competing shows. Best shown in its near forgotten Canne’s Palm D’Or winner, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (S5 E22). A superb import that deals with “What could happen against what did happen” during a Civil War attempted act of sabotage.

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Yes. Several episodes have been forgotten, but this is my thumbnail of collected works. And what offerings have stayed with me. And aided in the selection and inclusion of those exceptional pieces of work more than ready to be spotlighted and discussed.


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Check out Kevin’s other posts and reviews


Agree? Disagree? Wish to offer personal choices? The Floor Is Open For Discussion!

Music Break: Not Another Happy Ending (2012)

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I’ve been wanting to do this post for over a month now. In fact, if I had my way I’d just be blogging about this movie and Stanley Weber until my fingers bleed. But that’s what Tumblr is for 😉

Ok so you probably know by now I’ve been obsessed with this Scottish rom-com for some time. I’m gonna do a massive post on it when I can get my act together but one of the things I’m obsessing about is the songs! I love that the producers/filmmakers feature Scottish musicians which fit perfectly with the tone of the movie and the Glasgow setting.

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Thanks to NAHE for introducing me to Sandi Thom. I really like her pop/folk/rock style, so definitely an artist to watch for.

I also love the instrumental score by Scottish composer Lorne Balfe.


There’s a certain Scottish charm in this song by TeenCanteen. It fits the rather neurotic personality of Karen Gillan‘s character perfectly! I love how their thick Scottish brogue is audible in the song, too.

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Another track by Sandi Thom, a melancholy ballad that always gives me all the feels whenever I think of the male lead in the movie, ehm.

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This one is a beautiful ballad from Scottish R&B artist Emeli Sandé. I absolutely adore this song, it’s become my daily routine to listen to it.

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Now I especially love these two songs because the scenes they appear in are my favorites in the film. If you’ve seen the movie, I think you’ll know why 😛 But seriously, these songs are so awesome I’m glad I came across The Proclaimers and Twin Atlantic. Boy, the Scottish music scene must be quite spectacular!

 


Hope you enjoy this music break! Are you familiar w/ any of the songs/artists featured here?

My entry to the Movie Roulette Blogathon

movie-roulette-posterWhen I saw this blogathon that Getter over at Mettel Ray Blog is hosting, I simply had to participate! What an awesome idea, and original one at that. It must’ve taken her ages to made five of those gifs.

Here are the rules:
1. There are 25 facts, you have to pick 5 or more and for each, you drag out a movie as an answer! *Click on the gif, hold it and drag out a single movie*
2. You can only drag out one movie for each statement, no do overs,
3. Write down your answers and feel free to comment whether they make sense or not.
4. Link back to this announcement, and link to the Movie Roulette Ultimate Gif Set as well!
5. Last but not least, have fun!

This proves to be quite fun to do, though I have to admit sometimes I pick the movie first then look at the facts [hope that’s ok Getter!] 😀 Ok, here goes:

1. This movie describes my mood in the mornings the best

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You’ve Got Mail

Every morning, first thing I check is my iPad for email/twitter/tumblr, etc. In a way, my online connection is what fuels my day 😛

2. I hate the main [male] characters of this movie, but I think they [are] still very hot

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This Means War

I abhor the daft idea of this movie but I still watched it [on the plane] for these two guys. I mean Tom Hardy AND Chris Pine looking every bit as gorgeous in every scene? Heck yeah!

3. I would make love to this movie’s plot, it’s amazing

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Casablanca

Glad I saw this on the big screen, thanks to TCM Rerelease! One of the best stories about unrequited love… beautifully done all around.

4. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night thinking about this movie… it’s so good!

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The Dark Knight

As I just happened to see this interrogation scene during Christopher Nolan’s lecture earlier this month, I remember thinking about how good this scene is. It’s so well-constructed and the two actors are absolutely perfect. It was mesmerizing and it really riled me up.

5. When I think of my childhood, I think of this movie

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Superman: The Movie

Well naturally. I saw this when I was a wee girl, probably 4-5, and even at that age, I immediately fell for Christopher Reeve. Yep, he set the bar VERY high for my future crushes.

6. Every time this movie is on TV, I turn it off and sit in complete silence instead

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Friends with Benefits

This movie actually never came on TV as I barely watch any TV. But if it were, I’d rather sit in silence or watch paint dry than watch this.

7. This movie makes me so emotional I even cried while watching it

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HER

I saw this in a nearly empty cinema and I’m glad there was nobody sitting near me as I was bailing my eyes out in some scenes. It struck me hard emotionally… it was a beautiful experience.

8. If I ever made a movie, it would be something similar to this movie

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Notting Hill

I’m referring to the basic idea of this film, and I’ve been toying w/ the idea for some time. In fact, this inspires me to resurrect the Fantasy Movie Pitch blogathon that a now-defunct blog used to do a few years ago.

10. I always wanted to punch this movie’s main character(s) in the face

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Twilight

I don’t usually get such a violent reaction whilst seeing a movie but can you blame me? I actually watched some clips of this as it’s now on Netflix Streaming [not sure why since I hated it the first time]. I had such a strong reaction wanting to punch these two silly that I simply turned it off.

10. I’m going to recommend this movie to the next person who asks me to recommend them a movie! (Challenge accepted!)

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Nightcrawler

I’ve actually been recommending this to people who haven’t seen it, and will continue to do so!


Well that’s been tricky but fun! What do you think of my picks?

FlixChatter Review: Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

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I have to admit the first time I heard about this novel was a few years ago when Richard Armitage’s character in the Christmas edition of Vicars of Dibley mentioned this Thomas Hardy’s novel as his favorite. Well, I remember reaching about what that novel was about and was immediately hooked. So a headstrong woman in Victorian England attracts three very different suitors, I definitely like the sound of that.

In stories like this, casting is crucial and that’s why I approach this review more from that angle. Let me start with the heroine, Bathsheba Everdene.

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I love the fact that Bathsheba is played by Carey Mulligan who’s appropriately free spirited and convincing as an independent young woman. A woman living in 19th-century England would not straddle her horse like she does when she rides, and she works the farm just as hard as any man.

When she first encountered Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer, he’s immediately smitten and it’s easy to see why. Matthias Schoenaerts, who somehow reminds me of Viggo Mortensen in this role, portrays Gabriel with deep vulnerability. He’s all doe-eyed with a hint of smolder… not the steamy kind of smolder, but one infused with such sincerity that makes it easy to root for him.

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Their two lives somehow turned out drastically different — Bathsheba became wealthy when she suddenly inherited her uncle’s estate, whilst Gabriel came to a misfortune in one tragic night. The interesting dynamic of their circumstances only adds to the intrigue of their relationship, especially given how a female boss was quite a rare occurrence back in the day. I like how the film shows how Bathsheba tried to defy convention the best way she could, to make in a man’s world and be taken seriously as a farm owner.

The next suitor is more of Bathsheba’s equal in terms of economic status though he’s considerably older in age. Michael Sheen gives a dignified presence to William Boldwood, but also the appropriate sensitivity of someone who’s financially successful but one who’s been unlucky in love. The relationships between Bathsheba and these two men are especially engaging, it’s made a bit trickier by the fact that Boldwood likes Gabriel and appreciate his fervent loyalty.

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I’ve mentioned in this post that the casting of the third suitor is disappointing. Sergeant Frank Troy is described as a handsome, irresponsible and impulsive young man… so I imagine an actor with devilish charisma and undeniable sex appeal for the role. Well, no offense Tom Sturridge but you ain’t that person and you certainly did NOT convince me as someone Bathsheba would risk everything for. Thus, her abrupt decision seems so out of character and doesn’t feel true.

Yes, the much-talked-about swordsmanship scene in the woods was beautifully-filmed but that’s more of a testament of Thomas Vinterberg‘s directing and his ability to create such an ethereal ambiance. I wanted to THAT scene to take my breath away, to be rendered speechless and all tingly from the sheer passion of the two characters, but it just wasn’t to be. The love scene that follows also lacks any kind of eroticism, which made the entire relationship lackluster. It also didn’t help that Sturridge just doesn’t look like a soldier or someone with a hint of danger that could tame or intimidate a woman like Bathsheba. I believe that charisma, especially of a sexual nature, is not something an actor can train for.

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The way the story unfolds is rather predictable. Yes it’s based on a novel so people who’ve read it would’ve known how things turns out, but for those who haven’t, Vinterberg didn’t create any suspense that’d make us guess who Bathsheba will end up with. But Vinterberg’s strength behind the camera is creating a lush and atmospheric look that serves the story well, thanks largely to his frequent collaborator Charlotte Bruus Christensen who also did the cinematography for The Hunt.

There’s a certain melancholy in the film to be expected but it doesn’t feel corny or contrived. Mulligan and Schoenaerts who share the most screen time have a lovely chemistry… the way they steal glances every chance they get is the kind of stuff romantic dramas are made of. Apart from that, I was kind of expecting something a bit more unconventional from Vinterberg. I was so impressed by The Hunt and this one seems like a lesser film by comparison, though it’s not exactly an apples and oranges kind of comparison, but in general sense. This feels more Hollywood, safer and less edgy, but thankfully there are still things I like about it.

I have to say that the fact that sound went out for about 3-4 minutes during the final scene between Bathsheba and Gabriel! It was excruciating because it’s supposed to be a key emotional scene. The sound came back 2 minutes before the ending but still, that was awful that it happened. I’m not going to fault this film for that snafu of course, but the miscasting of Sgt. Troy is a big one for me. It did not derail the film but it prevents the film from being a truly compelling and fiery romantic drama that I had expected.

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Have you seen this film? Well, what did YOU think?