My 2016 Oscar recap… in tweets, gifs and clips

OscarsTelecast2016

Ahhh the morning after… So did you see the telecast last night? I went downstairs to my entertainment room at 6:30 and was hoping the whole thing would just start at 7pm, but heh of course we had to get through all the red carpet stuff first. Someone tweeted that the Oscars is really just a whole bunch of commercials interrupted by an award show, heh isn’t that the truth!

Anyway, it must’ve been quite a whirlwind night for these four acting winners.

poses in the press room during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Photo courtesy of ABC.com

I did live tweet last night, but honestly I just didn’t have the energy (nor desire) to do a full writeup as I usually do, so I figure why not just do it w/ social media?

Red Carpet Stuff






The monologue & things…

For the most part I enjoyed the telecast, despite being so award fatigue by now. I have to say I was most curious to see how Chris Rock would fare as host. Well, I kind of have mixed feelings about it, though I did laugh at his no-holds-barred approach to the whole #OscarsSoWhite issue.

ChrisRockOscars

Right away he addressed the massive elephant in the room full of industry folks…

“You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job! You’d all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.” 

In response to those who called for him to quit the hosting gig…

I thought about quitting. I thought about it really hard. But I realized they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway. They’re not gonna cancel the Oscars because I quit. And the last thing I need is to to lose another job to Kevin Hart, okay?”

He didn’t just roast The Academy and Hollywood however, he took some jabs at his own Black peers which I thought was hilarious!

“Everybody went mad [this year] … Jada [Pinkett Smith] got mad. Jada said she’s not coming. Isn’t she on a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

“I understand you’re mad. I’m not hating. … Jada’s mad her man Will [Smith] was not nominated for Concussion. I get it … It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West, okay?”

Double ouch! It didn’t stop there for Jada and Will as later on there’s a whole segment about Black History Month and it’s as if Angela Bassett was talking about Will Smith, but it turns out the person the Academy was honoring was Jack Black. ha!


I gotta say that the skit spoofing how hard it is for black actors to land a role in white Hollywood had me in stitches! Especially this one w/ Tracy Morgan spoofing The Danish Girl. Even Eddie Redmayne was laughing when the camera panned to him.


But the most discombobulating and cringe-worthy moment of the night goes to:

StaceyDashOscars2016
“I cannot wait to help my people out, Happy Black History Month!”

Rock introduced Stacey Dash, who’s known for her role in Clueless and is now a Fox News commentator, as the “new director” of the Academy’s “minority outreach program.”

Yes I knew about her controversial remark back in January when she declared that there should be no Black History Month or BET, but somehow the joke just didn’t jibe and it seems off the mark as most people are baffled by the appearance.

So what does Rock really think about Hollywood?

Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it’s not the racist you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’”

Rock certainly didn’t shy away from tackling the race issue head on, though all of this diversity stuff seems to be more about black vs white, whilst there are a slew of other races under-represented in Hollywood… and of course it goes beyond race as women still don’t get anywhere close to the same opportunities as men.

I do hope that as much as it’s uncomfortable and perhaps annoying to some that this diversity issue keeps coming up, perhaps it’ll signal change in the ‘inclusion crisis’ (which is a more accurate term to describe this whole diversity issue) that started long before any Oscar ballot was cast.


Now about those awards…

If all you care about is the four main categories…


Best Original & Adapted Screenplay Awards

I had put these two down as the who WILL and SHOULD win the two writing awards, so yeah I’m happy w/ the results!


Not a fan of Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe combo, but…


Ugh, Sam Smith is singing that awful Spectre song!


Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress!


First of SIX awards for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Best Costume Design

///
In the end, ‘Fury Road’ won the 6 Oscars in these categories:

  1. Film Editing: Margaret Sixel
  2. Costume Design: Jenny Beavan
  3. Makeup: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
  4. Sound Editing: Mark Mangini and David White
  5. Sound Mixing: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  6. Production design: Production design by Colin Gibson; set decoration by Lisa Thompson

This i09 article describes my sentiment perfectly…

i09_FuryRoad_Oscars


So… Best Cinematography went to Emmanuel Lubezki.
He’s won THREE years in a row. Poor Mr. Deakins.


Best Film Editing


Best Visual Effects


Best Animated Feature


Best Supporting Actor

Ok so I was rooting for Sly Stallone to win this but I can’t really be disappointed by Rylance win though, it’s not like he didn’t deserve it.


Best Documentary Feature

It goes to AMY. I haven’t seen it yet but Asif Kapadia did the excellent doc SENNA. I have only seen ONE from the five docs nominated!


AlanRickmanInMemoriam


Best Presenter Duo of the Night

Beasts of No Nation‘s Abraham Attah and Room‘s Jacob Tremblay, hands down. Both delivered Oscar-worthy performances in their own right, too!

JacobTremblayAbrahamAttah


Lady Gaga performed a powerful and emotional rendition of her Oscar-nominated song Til It Happen To You from the sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground. It gives me goosebumps watching it and it deservedly received a standing ovation.


But WTF, it’s followed by one the most underserving wins of the night, ugh!

Best Original Song


Best Director

It went to Alejandro González Iñárritu once again [sigh] Soooo bummed for George Miller 😦

THIS.


Best Actress

I thought Brie looked radiant in a blue gown last night… and she gave a gracious speech, thanking everyone from her co-star Jacob Tremblay & boyfriend Alex Greenwald to the moviegoers who saw it.


Best Actor

So Leo DiCaprio finally catches a break! 😉


Best Picture


My Oscar predictions tally

Well, out of the 16 categories I predicted, I got 11 right, so not bad!

Of ALL of the categories I put down for SHOULD WIN, I’m most disappointed by George Miller losing and Roger Deakins losing yet again for the 13th time. Sheesh!!

RogerDeakins
The legendary Mr. Deakins hard at work


Some of my fave gif-worthy moments of the night:

Tremblay_SWdroids

Methinks Jacob Tremblay would like to be in the next Star Wars movie. How ’bout that Disney?

Winslet_girlscoutcookies

LOVE that whole girl scout cookies thing, it always makes for some amusing gifs afterwards!

Keaton_spotlight

LOVE Keaton’s performance in Spotlight, I suppose if Fury Road didn’t get it, I’m glad it went to this film!


That’s it folks, the culmination of Hollywood award season is now over… thank goodness!


So what did you think of last night’s ceremony? Glee, gladness & gripes? Let’s hear it!

Advertisements

The obligatory Oscar predictions post: Who will win & who should win

Oscars2016

Well, it’s that time of the year again… tax season and the Oscars. We’re in fact doing our taxes just before I worked on this post. Both are unavoidable and obligatory, well for most of us blogging/writing about movies anyway.

This is the first year I’m actually looking forward to the opening monologue more than the main event. I can’t wait to hear what Chris Rock‘s going to say about the whole diversity issue. But hopefully the whole thing won’t be too heavy handed and we get to see him poke fun at a bunch of celebs, as to be expected.

ChrisRock

To be honest with you, even though it’s Oscar week, I hadn’t really been thinking much about the Oscars. In fact, I hadn’t been seeing anything Oscar-related the past couple of weeks, though we wanted to see Shaun of the Sheep movie last night, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature but there’s a connection issue so we watched another episode of Jessica Jones instead.

oscar-ballot-2016I’ve posted my thoughts on the nominations, but now that the big event is near, I thought I’d pick who will and SHOULD win the Oscars this year. I’m not predicting ALL of the categories though, just the ones that I have actually seen. Click on this handy Oscar ballot from EW.com if you want to see the full nominees.

So here we go:

BEST PICTURE

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

No doubt The Revenant is the frontrunner this year in many categories, but once the dust of award season’s settled I think Fury Road is one people will remember more in the end. It’s such a singularly unique film that’s spectacularly-crafted all around.

=============================

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Who should win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Even without having seen his performance in full as I have yet to see the film, I think it’s safe to say this is Leo’s year.

Leo_Brie
Methinks we’ll see a repeat of Leo-Brie pairing in the leading performance category

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

 Who will win: Brie Larson, Room

 Who should win: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Having won pretty much every other award in this category, I think Brie will be this year’s Jennifer Lawrence. I still want to see Ronan win it though, as I think Ronan’s understated performance leaves a more lasting impression to me. It’s not a flashy role which takes an astute performer to pull it off so beautifully.

=============================

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Who should win: Tom Hardy, The Revenant

I had been championing Stallone from the get go and I’m not surprised he’s the frontrunner in this category. However, part of me thinks that Hardy’s been overlooked in general despite his astonishing performance in no less than three films: Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, which I read is just as compelling as Leo’s and that his character is actually more complex in the film.

=============================

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Who should win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

I have only seen two performances in this category and I for one don’t think Rachel McAdams is THAT great to be nominated. I mentioned before that I actually wished for Kristen Stewart to be recognized for Clouds of Sils Maria instead of McAdams. So I’ll pick Winslet in this lot as I was impressed by her performance.

=============================

DIRECTING

Who will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant

Who should win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

I’m going to borrow Variety‘s Justin Chang’s reasoning for what he called ‘a tour de force visual storytelling’… “[Miller] gave us far more than just a master class in how to block, frame, shoot and edit action.” Amen to that, let’s hope he’s properly recognized.

=============================

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Sicario


Fury Road
and Sicario are both spectacularly shot. But I give Sicario the edge because Roger Deakins’ visual mastery has been overlooked time and time again. This is his thirteen nominations with not a single win so far. I read this article on Deakins and his approach to his work and how his imagery is done to serve a larger purpose is why he is such a legend.

=============================

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Who will win: Inside Out

Who should win: Anomalisa

Though I wasn’t blown away by the story of Anomalisa, I think it deserves to win for being such a unique piece of art. It’s one of the most lifelike claymation and the story is unconventionally dark and moody for this genre.

=============================

COSTUME DESIGN

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Cinderella

I think Fury Road has won many awards in this category and I certainly won’t be fuming if they win again at the Oscars. But I’d LOVE to see Sandy Powell win in either category, especially Cinderella, given the incredible amount of gowns she has to design. I’m more enamored by Cate Blanchett’s dresses, though of course Cinderella’s sparkly ballgown in iconic in its own right.

CInderellaCostumes

=============================

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

I think Leo’s severe flesh wounds from the bear attack will likely garner a win for the makeup artist. But the look of the characters in Fury Road is simply astonishing and unforgettable.

=============================

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Who will win: The Hateful Eight

Who should win: Sicario

One can’t deny the masterful work of Ennio Morricone, who like Deakins have never won a single Oscar for an individual piece of work (he did won an honorary Oscar in 2007). But I was blown away by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score in Sicario, which adds so much tension and dread to the film.

=============================

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Who will win: Writing’s On The Wall, Spectre

Who should win: Till It Happens To You, The Hunting Ground


Anything other than Sam Smith’s song please!! I think the melody of Writing’s on the Wall is fine but the song w/ his whiny voice is more like writhing against the wall. I actually just listened to Lady Gaga’s song Til It Happens To You and it’s a powerful one on an important subject.

=============================

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

war_rig_FuryRoad

It’ll be Fury Road hands down in this category. I mean, the set pieces of Fury Road is unlike any other film I’ve seen. The vehicles alone are incredible, as you can see in this top 10 list. They actually built every single one of those, instead of relying on CGI effects.

=============================

VISUAL EFFECTS

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Ex Machina

Ava_ExMachina

I certainly won’t have any qualms if Fury Road wins again in this category. But I was thrilled to see the ‘little film that could’ Ex Machina, with its $15 mil budget get in the race. I’d love to see it win this thing because it’s a visually spectacular film that looks more expensive than it is. The look of the robot Ava alone is so unique in a plethora of robot movies in Hollywood. This film also happens to boast the first female nominee in the visual effects category in more than a decade!

=============================

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: The Big Short

Who should win: The Big Short

The Big Short won best adapted screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards and also took the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards, so I’d think it has a big chance of taking home the Oscar. It’s really an unconventional take of a financial crisis, but the risk paid off. I wouldn’t mind The Martian or Brooklyn winning either, esp. the latter.

=============================

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: Spotlight

Who should win: Spotlight

I was simply blown away by this meticulous, sharp and understated film. Powerful without resorting to sensationalism or emotional manipulation. This is my second pick after Mad Max: Fury Road to win Best Picture, and if it won in this category, it’ll have a major chance of winning the top prize.

=============================

 

I have a feeling this year there might not be a single film that’ll sweep all of the awards, but if that happens, I hope that’ll be Mad Max: Fury Road!

So that’s it folks. I’m only predicting 16 out of the complete 24 categories.We’ll see how many I’d get wrong tomorrow night 😉


Ok, so what are some of your Oscar winner predictions for this year?

FlixChatter Review: John Hillcoat’s TRIPLE 9 (2016)

Ted_review
Triple9Poster

I’m a big fan of crime action thrillers of the 70s, 80s and 90s, so I was excited to see this new film by Aussie director John Hillcoat. As we all know, the last decade or so the superhero genre has been dominating the box office so crime action thrillers are rarity these days.

The movie opens with a bank robbery that didn’t go as smoothly as planned. The bank robbers weren’t there to steal money but a case in the safe box. In a pretty impressive opening action sequence, the robbers were able to escape unscathed. We then learned that two of the robbers named Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Jorge Ridriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) are cops and one is an ex-cop named Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul). The rest of the robbers are ex-military men named Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Russell Welch (Norman Reedus). They were tasked to steal something very important for a Russian mob boss named Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet, sporting a very 80s hairdo and weird Russian accent). Irina has a sister named Elena (Gal Gadot), who happens to be Atwood’s ex-girlfriend.

Triple9_7

After Atwood delivered the steal goods to Irina, she told him that she has another job for him and his team. Atwood of course wasn’t interested but Irina told him she won’t pay him for the job he’d just finished unless he gets the second one done. With no other choice, Atwood got his team together again and try to come up with a plan to make the biggest heist of their lives. We then were introduced to a detective named Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), he’s in charge of finding the bank robbers. Allen has a nephew named Chris (Casey Affleck) who’s also a cop and Belmont’s new partner. As the story progresses we learned more about each of these characters and how they’re all some-how connected and we found out meaning of the movie’s title.

Triple9_1

With so many well known actors in one movie, I wasn’t sure if they’re all going to get enough screen time, but to my surprise all of the big players got equal screen time and they played their respectively role quite well. This is the kind of movie that doesn’t really have a central character you want to “cheer” for, each of the characters has their own motivation and there’s no good or bad guy in the story. I had my doubts about Casey’s casting as the supposed “hero” of the story but his character played a central role in the plot and he’s pretty convincing.

John Hillcoat is one of my favorite newer directors and he didn’t disappoint with his direction for this movie. He staged some pretty good action sequences including his signature bloody violence. What really impressed me was how he avoided making the movie into a super dark and serious tone that has plagued most action movies the last few years. This movie feels like a thriller from the 80s and 90s.


Even though I was very impressed with the performances and direction of the movie, I had some problems with the script. Matt Cook is a newcomer in Hollywood and I was surprised his script didn’t get rewrites or more polished by other screenwriters. The story is filled with so many layers that I think a well-established screenwriter could’ve made it into a great script. I’m not saying that Cook’s script is bad just that it needed a lot of fixing. My biggest beef with the script was how the story wrapped so neatly by the movie’s end. I won’t spoil anything but if you saw The Departed then you’ll know what I mean when you see this movie.

Triple 9 is a well made action thriller that could’ve been a classic had the script been more polished. Fans of the buddy cop action and crime thrillers from the 80s and 90s will be pleased with it.

3Reels

TedSPic


Have you seen TRIPLE 9? Well, what did you think?

Double Reviews: Trumbo (2015) & Hail, Caesar! (2016)

I generally love movies about making movies. Yes it’s like Hollywood taking a giant selfie and we all know there are no shortage of narcissists in the business. Nevertheless I enjoy watching movies about the tales of how a picture got made, especially set in the Golden Age of Hollywood where the behind-the-scenes drama is likely more intriguing than what’s on screen.

Trumbo_HailCaesar

These two films take place in a similar era and boast quite an ensemble cast. One is based on a true story and the other is a work of fiction that feels true, so I thought these two would make a perfect double review.

TRUMBO

Trumbo_logo

I was familiar with Dalton Trumbo’s story for some time but I never knew the details. As a huge fan of Roman Holiday, I knew he’s a great screen writer, but it turns out he was the best in the biz. At one point he was the highest paid writer in Hollywood and well-respected by studios and peers alike. The film started out in the late 40s with Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) at the height of his career, but then his life took a downward spiral when he’s subpoenaed for being a Communist, accused of using the movies to corrupt democracy and overthrow the nation. He’s later sentenced to a year in federal prison and the scenes of him being humiliated in prison is really quite heartbreaking.

Trumbo4

But what’s even worse than the jail sentence is that Trumbo and the Hollywood 10 writers were blacklisted by the Hollywood studios, and not only that, they were kicked out of the Screen Writers Guild as well, which they themselves helped built. Now, I don’t think the film is all that political, it’s more focused on the character of this extraordinary talented man and his journey in Hollywood. But he’s also not perfect, obviously he’s an eccentric man who spent most of his writing in the bath tub and he practically ignored his family unless he needs help with delivering a script discreetly to the studios. The film is quite fascinating and kept my interest throughout, all the quirks of Trumbo and his friends & foes are played wonderfully by a great ensemble of actors.

Trumbo3Trumbo2

My faves are Louis C.K. as screenwriter & Trumbo’s BFF Arlen Hird, John Goodman as a B-movie studio honcho, both had some of the funniest scenes. Dean O’Gorman as Kirk Douglas and German actor Christian Berkel as director Otto Preminger are also pretty memorable here and O’Gorman whom I knew from playing the Fili in the Hobbit movies, had a surprisingly canny resemblance to Mr. Douglas.

I love Helen Mirren in general but here I didn’t think her performance was all that great, to be honest she made a better impression in the Hitchcock film which is of similar genre. Diane Lane is quite good as Trumbo’s wife though she’s not on screen that much, as was in that era, it’s the male cast that really got to shine in this film. In any case, the real star here is Cranston and I’m not surprised he’s nominated for an Oscar. I think his performance carried the film and made it worthwhile. It’s incredible how he captured the voice and mannerism of the real life Trumbo, but more than than, I think he captured his genius as well as his eccentric personality.

Trumbo1

Despite the serious subject matter, the film’s tone is pretty light and fun. There were dark moments to be sure, but director Jay Roach made sure it never lasted for too long. I don’t think it undermines the story however, especially the speech at the end that made you really reflect on the whole ordeal Trumbo and his friends went through. For a film about the greatest screenwriters, the script by John McNamara (based on a book by Bruce Cook) was thankfully quite sharp. The costumes, set pieces, cinematography, and especially the performances, really brought the story to life and made me appreciate Trumbo, and screenwriters in general, even more than I already do.

4Reels


Hail, Caesar!

HailCaesarLogo

Now, when the trailer first dropped, I must’ve watched it half a dozen times in one day. It’s a satire of Hollywood big studios and their big stars, told in a day-in-the-life format of a Hollywood fixer called Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). Mannix is a fixer who works for Capitol Pictures in the 50s, he’s the man tasked with cleaning up after the biggest names in the industry. Ruthless though he may be, Mannix is a tormented person, so ravaged by guilt that he goes to confession more often that the priest himself care to hear. The movie pretty much picked up when the studio star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) disappears from the set of one of a huge epic movie modeled after Ben-Hur (it even had the same tagline, A Tale of the Christ). Now, the set up promises a lot of intrigue and hilarity but in the end it only partly delivered.
HailCaesar3
There are some genuinely hysterical moments, especially the exchange between Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Fiennes (as an Laurence Olivier-type director) in a film set which had me in stitches. Despite being the least known actor in the cast, Ehrenreich actually had a pretty big part in the movie and he acquitted himself well here. Heck, I think he’s better than Clooney as I actually believed him as the character, instead of just an movie star basically just playing a variation of himself. Whitlock seems like a caricature instead of a real person. I’m not sure whether or not it’s because of Clooney’s own stature and star-wattage or the way the script played out. The plot about Whitlock’s kidnapping would likely amuse (or irate) the real Dalton Trumbo, though the twist played out like something out of an SNL skit.

HailCaesar1HailCaesar2

Brolin’s Mannix is the most-developed character in this movie and the only one with a real arc. Thankfully Brolin was good in the role and made me care for his plight, but the rest of the ensemble cast filled with the ‘who’s who of current Hollywood establishment’ wasn’t given much to do. I feel like the fun moments peppered throughout just didn’t quite gel as a cohesive film. Many characters came and went without leaving any mark, and SO many actors were underutilized, even Tilda Swinton who played a dual role. Jonah Hill is basically in a blink-and-you-missed-him role, he’s only on screen as much as he was in the trailer. Those who love Channing Tatum‘s dancing will be pleased with him here, but the musical numbers here don’t make much of an impression to me. Now, the Coens’ regular Frances McDormand‘s part is basically a cameo, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable scenes.

HailCaesar5

In the end the film seems too random and frivolous, and despite those hilarious moments, ultimately it’s a rather forgettable affair . Now, I wouldn’t say it’s a big disappointment as I’m actually not a huge Coens fan if I’m honest. I actually think this could be one of their most accessible films, and the light tone made it pretty enjoyable, it just lacks the gravitas one expect from the talents involved. The ending also felt anticlimactic to me, and the emotional connection is lacking overall. On a technical level, the film is gorgeous thanks to Roger Deakins’ masterful craft, and the retro costumes are nice to look at. If you’re a big Coens fan, this one is still well worth a rent, just don’t expect this to be another one of their classic hits.

3Reels

So, have you seen either one of these films? Well, what did YOU think?

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Sam Riley, Alternative Austen & Man Up (2015) review

I cannot fix the hour or the spot, or the look or the words which lay the foundation…I was in the middle when I knew it had began…

That was a quote from Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and that pretty much applies to how I feel the same way about the actor playing him… Sam Riley.

badassDarcy

I fall even more under Riley’s spell now… [le sigh]

Ok, so yeah, about that weekend roundup, well the past couple of weeks has been filled with quite a few Sam Riley movies: Control (2007), Maleficent (2014), Byzantium (2012) and Franklyn (2008). I didn’t get to see Brighton Rock (2010) yet but hopefully later this week. I’m astonished at his chameleonic ability as an actor, my appreciation post on him will be quite massive let me tell you.


I did see one new release this past week, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and got a chance to chat w/ the author of the book it’s based on, Kim Barker. Review & interview of that coming next week.

Ok, so these are my weekend viewing roundup, starting with…

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

///
So this is the first 2016 movie I saw twice on the big screen… and I could’ve gone for a third if it’s still playing for another weekend. Alas, I’d have to settle for all the fun gifs and clips on Tumblr until the Bluray comes out. As you may’ve read in my review, I bloody love this movie and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Sam Riley & Lily James are now my favorite Darcy & Lizzie pairing amongst the plethora of P&P screen adaptations.

;;;

Austenland (2014)

///
Ok so naturally, watching an alternative Jane Austen movie makes me want to re-watch one of my faves from a couple of years ago. As far an Austen-inspired films go, I actually think this one is even sillier than PPZ movie, believe it or not. Some of the supporting characters are so out there and freakishly bizarre that it made me cringe at times (though that Captain East is one spectacular eye candy). Jennifer Coolidge is a hoot but she went waaay over the top at times, yes even by her standards. But the romance of Darcy & Jane (JJ Feild & Keri Russell) is lovely and of course all the misunderstandings and repressed emotions are all the stuff Austen movies are made of. (my full review)
///

Man Up (2015)

ManUp2015

This British rom-com has a rather unconventional pairing – Simon Pegg & Lake Bell, and that’s the reason I rented it. Bell played a single woman who inadvertently *stole* a stranger’s blind date, and the film took place over the course of a single night. Bell is a natural comedienne and here she gets to show her comedic chops, and also do a pretty convincing British accent.

It’s a pretty fun rom-com even though it doesn’t always avoid the trappings of the genre and is ultimately predictable, but the two likable leads made the movie feels fresh and genuinely funny. Rory Kinnear, who I often see in more serious movies so far, is so hilariously unhinged as Bell’s not-so-secret admirer. I LOVE the London scenery, both during the day and night, which adds to the film’s charm. The finale could’ve been a bit tighter and less verbose, but I think overall this movie is well worth checking out.

3halfReels


Well that’s my weekend recap. So what did YOU watch this weekend? Anything good?

Everybody’s Chattin’ & SPECTRE Honest Trailer

EverybodysChattin_PPZ

It’s almost Friday everybody!! Woot woot! It’s only a four-day work week for me but it felt like time was ticking so s-l-o-w-l-y I felt like I had worked a 6-day week already!

What’s happening in your world? Well for me, it’s just two words: SAM. RILEY. I’m falling even deeper under his spell after seeing the rock biopic Control.

I’m going to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies again this weekend before it’s yanked from theaters and I can’t freakin’ wait!!!! I’ve been collecting all kinds of stuff for my Sam Riley tribute but now I’ve waaaay too many articles I have no idea where to start!

In any case, let’s get to those fine links now shall we?

Margaret has been making fabulous top 10 lists this week, check out this one on 15 Best shots of 2015 

Wendell just put together The Acting Black Blogathon to coincide w/ Black History Month of February. Check out the latest links from Day 3

Chris is continuing his list of Best 80s songs, all the way to Part 12! Speaking of great music, Andrew continues his Tuesday Tunes Tastings series by reviewing a set of four new albums w/ an awesomely creative rating system!

Steven reviewed Cabaret (1972), Nostra reviewed Season 1 of Jessica Jones, and Top 10 Films UK posted a review of Anton Corbijn’s Life.

Last but not least, my dear friend Paula is hosting 31 Days of Oscars Blogathon again this year. I’m unable to take part but check out the links from a bunch of fine bloggers!

31-days-2016-02

SPECTRE’s Honest Trailer

Boy, the Screen Junkies folks absolutely nailed everything I hated about Spectre. Heh, now that I think about it, my 2.5/5 rating seems far too generous for this poorly-written and lazily-acted movie.


It’s really embarrassing that in a year where there are at least four good spy-themed movies, the granddaddy of this genre is the worst one of the lot. I LOVE that bit about re-watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier instead. I didn’t realize their plots are pretty much identical, but The Winter Soldier actually has genuine character arc AND a compelling story. I for one am ready for a new Bond so I hope this rumor that he’s quitting 007 is true!

///


So what are you gonna be watching this weekend, folks?

Acting Black Blogathon: 5 Favorite Roles of Wesley Snipes

When I first saw the post on Wendell’s blog about the Acting Black Blogathon, somehow my first inclination is to write about Wesley Snipes.

Snipes_ThePlayer

I know there are a ton of other great Black actors I admire – Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, etc. but I watched an interview w/ Mr. Snipes recently, when he was promoting his NBC show The Player (which I still might watch just for Snipes), and I was struck by how affable, charismatic and humble he is. Thankfully he got a second leash on his career after being imprisoned for tax fraud (he was sentenced on April 24, 2008) and he came back a wiser man instead of being a bitter recluse.

It reminded me how much I enjoyed watching him as an actor. He may not be an Oscar caliber performer like Denzel but he’s got immense charisma. Though he’s mostly known for his action movies, I actually like him in dramatic roles as well, which I think he should do more of. In fact, I think he’s typecast for being the tough-guy-with-a-heart but I think he’s capable for gfLooking at his resume, there are some films of his I still need to see, i.e. The Fan, The Art of War, Unstoppable, and his most recent, Chi-Raq by Spike Lee. His career definitely peaked in the 90s, hence most of my fave movies of his are from that decade.

So here are five of my favorite Wesley Snipes roles that I’ve seen so far:

1. Blade (1998)

Snipes_Blade

Before Kate Beckinsale became a sexy vampire warrior in Underworld and those emo, sparkly Twilight vampires that reportedly Snipes himself wanted to hunt down, we’ve got an uber cool, genuinely bad ass vampire hybrid. I mean, even his moniker alone sounds cool and dangerous. Deadpool is definitely NOT the first R-rated comic-book movie out there, and I remember this movie was filled w/ some bloody action scenes, just what one would expect from a vampire hunter movie. I love the look of Blade here, his uniform, his sunglasses, even his ride (1968 Dodge Charger).  But it’s Snipes as the half human/half bloodsucker who’s the star here, oozing such swagger and quiet grace as the unlikely hero worth rooting for. I also like Kris Kristofferson as his mentor, who some reviewers mentioned as having that Obi-Wan quality. I for one would love to see Blade 4 at some point.  Heck, why not? Especially since R-rated comic-book flicks are back in fashion again now.

2. Waiting to Exhale (1995)

Snipes_Bassett_WTE

For some reason his role wasn’t credited in the film, but I always remember Snipes in a brief role as James Wheeler. From the moment he appeared at a bar, approaching Angela Bassett’s character who just went through a divorce, I immediately like his character. I wish he’d do more dramatic films, even a romantic drama, as he certainly can pull off the romantic hero role. I love this film by Forest Whitaker, which I’ve rewatched a few times. Some of my fave roles are the ones of Snipes and Bassett. There’s a scene of them in a hotel room. “Lets make tonight beautiful” Snipes’ character said, which would’ve been ultra cheesy in a Nicholas Sparks’ movie, but here it’s poignant because it wasn’t sexual. It was two people who’ve been through some tough times (divorce, deceased spouse) who found a soulful connection. It was a genuinely intimate moment that’s rarely seen in cinema, it still moved me to this day.

3. Rising Sun (1993)

RisingSun

It’s been ages since I saw this but I remember really liking this thriller based on Michael Crichton’s novel. In fact, I might give it a rewatch at some point. I like the pairing of him w/ Sean Connery as the Japanese expert, which is funny when I think about it as he ludicrously tried to pass as a Japanese in the Bond movie You Only Live Twice. Some people say there’s an awkward chemistry between these two, but I think the fact that they had such different background, it’s to be expected and works well as a cultural thriller. It’s not quite a buddy-cop type movie, but the interplay between Snipes and Connery are more fun to watch than the action. I think Snipes held his own against his older & wiser co-star. Both are immensely watchable, and the mystery aspect was pretty intriguing.

4. Passenger 57 (1992)

Passenger57_Snipes

I read this article about actors who deserve a Taken-style comeback and it included Mr. Snipes. Heck, I think Snipes was one of the action stars who popularized the reluctant hero roles, those who minded their own business but ended up being dragged into some violent predicaments.

I LOVE Snipes as John Cutter, a hard-working anti-terrorist agent who boarded a plane with an international terrorist under FBI custody. I’m sure Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop is partly inspired by this w/ the action hero playing an air marshal no less. It’s interesting that because of the color of his skin, he’s not immediately believed to be the good guy who’s trying to save everyone. I think that adds a certain an intriguing edge than if the role were to be played by white action stars like Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, etc. Bruce Payne is pretty darn scary too as the villain, he reminds me a bit of Hans Gruber here and of course he’s also a Brit.

5. Demolition Man (1993)

DemolitionMan_Snipes

Snipes has played a fair share of good guys and law enforcement types, so it’s nice to see him relishing at being bad. With platinum blond Afro & half blue eyes no less! He played Simon Phoenix, a convicted crime lord who’s revived for a parole hearing well into the 21st century. Of course he immediately resumes his murderous rampage, with no one to stop him, except Sly Stallone of course, who else? Sandra Bullock is quite memorable here too in one of her earlier action roles. Yes this is a pretty cheesy action flick of the 90s but heck I enjoyed it, and I still remember that epic death scene at the end! Liquid nitrogen anyone? Snipes was deliciously over the top here with his manic energy. It’s definitely one of the most fun 90’s sci-fi action flicks.


So what’s YOUR favorite Wesley Snipes’ role(s)?

10 reasons Deadpool movie won me over

To be perfectly honest, I never thought I’d actually be writing a review of Deadpool, let alone a top 10 list praising the movie. I hadn’t been anticipating this movie at all – crass, vulgar, foul-mouthed movies aren’t my thing and I’m not exactly a fan of Ryan Reynolds as an actor. But all the massive buzz got this movie blogger intrigued, I simply just had to find out what the fuss is about. Heck, I even went to the screening twice as the first time around the film couldn’t be played.

Deadpool_fireplace

Well, it ended up being a pleasant surprise and I totally get why people are flocking to see it. It’s shattered all kinds of box office records with $150mil domestic gross ($264 mil worldwide) which is unheard of for an R-rated flick opening in the month of February!

The Guardians of the Galaxy‘s director James Gunn weighed in on its success, “Deadpool was its own thing. THAT’S what people are reacting to. It’s original, it’s damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn’t afraid to take risks.” (you can read his FB post here) Yep, I agree with him.

Here are 10 reasons why the Deadpool movie won me over:

1. The self-deprecating humor

Deadpool_Reynolds
Photo from Archonia.com

I LOVE British comedies as they rarely shy away from poking fun of themselves. Deadpool relentlessly pokes fun at himself, the actor playing him, and even the studio that made it. That bit about the studio not being able to afford more X-Men characters in the movie got the biggest laughs. There are a plethora of jokes on Reynolds himself and his failed superhero flick Green Lantern. It’s also not afraid to make fun of famous people, that bit about David Beckham’s helium voice is absolutely spot on!

2. The retro throwback to 80s pop culture

As Reynolds is close to my age, I really appreciate the references to 80s pop culture, especially the music. I mean, WHAM! was huge back in high school, and we all were crushing on George Michael. Boy I’d never be able to listen to Careless Whisper the same way again.


I also laughed so hard when You’re the Inspiration by Chicago played on, that was my brother’s favorite band and he’d listen to it endlessly in the car until my ears bled!

3. That it IS a love story

Deadpool_Vdayposter

The marketing folks over at Fox have done some genius marketing for the film. The first time I saw this V-day poster I had a good chuckle. But hey, it turns out, Wade and Vanessa are genuinely in love, imagine that! The love story is actually pretty compelling and you get why he’d do whatever it takes to protect her. Reynolds and Morena Baccarin have a fun, playful chemistry together. I also think that it’s nice to see that they opted to hire an actress close to Reynold’s age as his love interest instead of some pretty young thing like they did in his previous superhero movie.

4. There are some bad ass women in this movie

Brianna_Deadpool

Brianna Hildebrand is quite memorable as the brooding Negasonic Teenage Warhead. She didn’t have many lines in the movie, but the brief exchanges between these two are pretty funny. There’s Gina Carano as the villain’s henchwoman (natch!) There’s even a hilarious bit when she dropped to the ground forcefully like Superman, obviously poking fun at the famous superhero landing. I think it’s even funnier the fact that Gina used to date Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill. I think Vanessa herself is no damsel in distress. Even when Deadpool went to save her, she got some ass-kicking scenes of her own.

5.  I actually care about Wade Wilson

Deadpool_Vanessa

Kudos to the writers (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) as well as Reynolds himself in making a character worth caring about. The fact that Wade didn’t start out to be a superhero had a lot to do with it. [spoiler alert!] He’s also the first superhero who suffered from cancer. I actually felt really bad for him, and for Vanessa when he left her. No matter how cool a character is, if you don’t give a reason for us to care for him/her, it’s hard for us to care for the movie, too. In a way, it made me think that his crazy antics is perhaps a means to cope with his pain.

The accelerated healing powers that he got as a result of the rogue experiment could’ve been another ho-hum origins story. Yet here it felt like the hero’s earned it and we root for him after all he’s been through. That superpower isn’t just cool for the action stuff, but it also made for some of the funnies, albeit cringe-worthy, jokes in the movie.

6. The awesome opening credit

Deadpool_upsidedown

Ok, the opening credit is definitely one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie. It immediately establishes the tone and style of the movie, the extreme self-awareness and brazenness in roasting pretty much everyone involved. As we watched an action scene being frozen and played in slo-motion, we get quips like “the writers are ‘The Real Heroes Here” and “the director is ‘An Overpaid Tool” and the likes. They made fun of some of their own movie clichés like having a [one note] British villain and gratuitous cameo. It’s as if they’re making their own ‘Honest Trailer’ video of their own movie, ahah.

7. Hilarious supporting characters

Deadpool_Dopinder Deadpool_Weasel

Ok so the villain is pretty much one-note and humorless (Ed Skrein), though all the jokes about his English teeth was indeed funny. But Karan Soni as Dopinder the Indian cab driver and T.J. Miller as Wade’s BFF Weasel had some hysterical lines. I think the ‘avocado’ line that Weasel said to Wade after seeing his face after the experiment is so mean yet because they’re good friends, you can’t help but laugh while cringing at the same time. Oh, and Colossus has never been funnier here w/ his Russian accent. Most of his scenes with Deadpool are simply hysterical, and the fact that he’s so polite provides an amusing contrast to the juvenile & irreverent Wade.

Deadpool_Negasonic_Colossus

8. Biting wit delivered with fun action sequences

Ok so the R-rating is absolutely warranted and it’s definitely more violent than John Wick where a lot of the shots fired are quick and blurry. But just like that film, this film certainly had some stylish action sequences. First-time director Tim Miller, who had a background in visual effects, did a nice job staging the high-octane action throughout. But what made it even more memorable is the biting wit that accompany the action. Having the protagonist constantly wise-cracking as he shoots and make human kabobs out of people certainly makes it extra fun to watch.

Deadpool_Ajax

9. Ryan Reynolds is perfect in the role

Deadpool_RyanReynolds

You can’t make a top 10 list about Deadpool and not mention Ryan Reynolds. In many ways, he’s the reason the film worked as he & the filmmakers have fought hard to have their brazen vision of this comic-book character come to life in this adaptation. He’s played this character before in the lame X-Men Origins: Wolverine but it barely made a mark. But here, he got to showcase what he does best, that is comedy. I really don’t care for him in dramatic roles or even as a typical action hero. But here he’s so at ease at making fun of himself which is a brazen act in and of itself. Reynolds definitely got another leash on his superhero life as Deadpool will become a massive franchise after its gargantuan box office take. I’d say he should stick to this genre of action comedy as that’s what he does best.

10. The fact that it turns the conventional superhero formula on its head

Deadpool_ooops

I think the whole concept of a raunchy superhero movie alone isn’t a recipe for success. Yes it’s different from the PG-13 stuff that Marvel & DC put out there, but if that’s all it’s got going for it, I don’t think the movie would be as successful. I think the fact that the movie IS relentlessly hilarious means the humor hits the mark. The “breaking the fourth wall” style also works well for the movie, which apparently is loyal to the comics. I’m not familiar w/ it but things that work in the comic books don’t always translate well on screen, so props to the writers & filmmakers for somehow making it work. It actually creates some of the funniest bits in the movie and makes Deadpool likable as he’s sort of ‘one of us.’ The pop-culture commentary and zings also made it fresh and has huge appeal to millennials AND baby boomers alike.

Now, despite all the praise, this isn’t a movie I’d readily watch again though. The graphic violence, sex scenes, full frontal nudity, and that whole scene at the strip club are gratuitous and not something I enjoy watching. But overall, this movie is pretty darn entertaining. I give props to the filmmakers for delivering on the promise of an unconventional superhero movie. It does exactly what it says on the tin and it’s refreshingly daring in its approach.

4Reels


So, what do you think of Deadpool? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Valentine Special – Who’s your favorite romantic on-screen couples?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope it’s been a lovely day for you, wherever you are and whatever your love life is like. I actually don’t make a big fuss about V-day generally, especially the older I get. I actually told my hubby not to get me flowers this year, I mean, I still have a huge bouquet of roses from my dear brother for my birthday a few days ago, I wouldn’t know where to put another one.

MoulinRougeKiss

In any case, since I think in terms of movies, V-day always makes me think of favorite romantic pairings on screen. I’ve listed my top 10 three years ago, and the pairing of Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge! is still my fave to this day!

Well, today I’m going to highlight ten of my recent favorite on-screen romantic couples, both on film and TV. Pictures do speak louder than words, and so here we go…

Click on each image to read my review of each film

Brooklyn
Eilis & Tony – ‘Brooklyn’
IATIHK
Ruby & Josh – ‘It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong’
AgeofAdaline
Adaline & Ellis – ‘The Age of Adaline’
Belle
Belle & John – ‘Belle’
FarFromTheMaddingCrowd
Gabriel & Bathsheba – ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’
BeyondtheLights
Noni & Kaz – ‘Beyond the Lights’
Daredevil
Matt & Claire – ‘Daredevil’
Cinderella
Ella & Prince Kit – ‘Cinderella’
Creed
Adonis & Bianca – ‘Creed’
PPZ
Darcy & Lizzie – ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’


Now I turn it over to you…
Who are YOUR favorite recent cinematic romantic couples?

The Lucky 13 Film Club: 1930s British Female Protagonists

0001-60259980

My pal Cindy B. invited me to take part in the February edition of her Lucky 13 Film Club series! This month’s topic is 1930s British Female Protagonists and we’re discussing Gosford Park, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day and Being Julia. Check out the post on Cindy’s blog and take part in the discussion!

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.47.08 AM

Cindy Bruchman

WELCOME to the discussion this month as we feature three period films set in 1930s Britain. They share comedic elements, great costumes, and illustrate the economic relationship between the classes. Thanks to my friend Ruth at FLIXCHATTER, who agreed to co-host.
Ruth’s observations 
It seems that I have a fascination with the English class system and films/series about the upper crust world of nobility and their servants are in vogue again thanks to Downton Abbey. But perhaps there’s always an interest in such topic, as Upstairs/Downstairs series was popular in the 70s and remade again in 2010. Gosford Park is one of the most famous cinematic study of the class system in the 1930s, but with an Agatha Christie mystery thrown in. Julian Fellowes (the mastermind behind Downton Abbey) won an Oscar for Best Screenplay.
The cast alone makes it a MUST see for me, with the who’s…

View original post 1,002 more words