FlixChatter Review: Hell or High Water (2016)

Ted_review

HellHighWater_poster

When I first saw the trailer of Hell or High Water a couple of months ago, I thought for sure it’s going to be one of those late summer action films that would be shown at theaters one weekend and disappeared the next. Well as it turns out, it is one of the best reviewed films of the year, maybe the best so far. According to Rottentomatoes.com, out 134 critics who reviewed it, only 2 gave it a negative review. As of this writing, it’s currently sitting at an unbelievable 99% fresh rating on the site.

Set in West Texas, brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are bank robbers and as the film opens, we see their acts right away. They’re amateurs but desperate for money, especially Toby who wants to keep his family land from being foreclosed on by the evil banks. Texas Ranger Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his partner Parker (Gil Birmingham) are on the hunt to stop these two brothers from committing any more robberies. These four characters are the center of the picture and it’s the chess match between the brothers and Rangers that’s fun to watch. This film can be described as buddy/western/road/action/thriller, it’s quite a lot to describe a film but that’s best way to explain it to anyone.

HellHighWater_Bridges

For a film that doesn’t have a complex plot, the actors need to carry the picture and the performances by the main leads were pretty great. Jeff Bridges gets my vote for best performance of the year so far; no doubt he’ll get nominated again comes awards season for his performance here. He pretty much reprised his role from True Grit and it’s quite fun to watch. His character is on the verge of retirement and he wants to catch these thieves so he can ride out into the sunset as a hero. His constant insults on his partner Parker is hilarious and we audience know he didn’t mean what he said.

Birmingham also stood out as the partner who has to endured Hamilton’s insults but he give as much insults back to Hamilton as well. Watching these two rangers bickers gave the picture more comedic tone than you’d expect in a film like this. Pine, who probably realized he can’t rely on the Star Trek pictures to keep him relevant in Hollywood, wisely accepts this role in a smaller film. He’s very good here as a desperate man who wants his kids to have a better life than his. He also worries about his reckless brother who only decided to rob the banks just for fun. I was never a fan of Foster but he’s effective here as the reckless brother who enjoys violence and knows that his life is over once they’re done with the robberies.

HellHighWater_PineHellHighWater_Foster

The script by actor-turned-screenwriter Taylor Sheridan is pretty great. Even though it’s a simple story, he was able inject some dark humor, great dialogs and some surprises here and there. I do wish he’d toned down some of the hate directed at the evil banks; yeah we get it, many people suffered because of these greedy bankers. Some of the dialogs tend to get a bit too preachy for my liking, especially when Toby and Hamilton had their confrontation.

Director David Mackenzie also did a good job of setting moving the film along as a brisk pace. It’s obvious that he took inspirations from films of Sam Peckinpah and The Coen Brothers. Some even compare this film to No Country For Old Men. While I agree there are similarities, I still think the Coen Brothers’ picture is superior to this.

Even though it sounds like I love this film, I only liked it. I thought Mackenzie did a good job of bringing a great script to the big screen, I think had it been directed by a more polished directors like David Fincher or Alfonso Cuaron, this would’ve been a near perfect film. I didn’t see any originality from Mackenzie so I can’t call a great film, just a very good one. But it does have a great script and fine performances.

4Reels

TedS_post


So have you seen Hell or High Water? Well, what did you think?

Top 10 Favorite Movies of the FIRST HALF of 2016

top10_2014_firsthalf

This list is long overdue. I should’ve posted it sometime in July, but oh well, better late than never. This list only consist of films released between January – June 30, 2016. Some of these might’ve opened internationally prior to 2016, but I’m using the USA release dates or the fact that they opened at a local film festival.

I consider this list a cross between a ‘best of and favorite’, so the criteria is that these films made an impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, deeply moving, thought-provoking, and indelible. Re-watchability is a big factor but it doesn’t account as high as the other virtues I’ve mentioned, because some of the films here are more of a one-time-viewing-only types, but I still very much appreciate the artistry and passion that goes into making them.

So without further ado, I present to you my TOP 10 list (in reverse order):

10. Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (full review)

PPZ

As this is a list of favorites, there is no way I wouldn’t include this one on the list. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen work, but at the same time I’m not a purist and so I thought this movie was a lot of fun! This is the film that made me fall for Sam Riley, whose portrayal of badass Colonel Darcy is wildly entertaining, and he’s the only Darcy I ever hyperventilate over. The epic first proposal fight scene alone warrants a place on my top 10 list! I also love Lily James as Lizzie Bennet as well as all the Bennet sisters. This currently stands as my most-watched 2016 movies so far. Oh, I’d also list the soundtrack as one of my faves from this year, too.

9. A Bigger Splash (full review)

Abiggersplash

I hadn’t heard much about this film but was drawn by the amazing cast, especially the pairing of Tilda Swinton & Ralph Fiennes as former lovers. Well the two are definitely the highlights here, and Matthias Schoenaerts also delivered a strong performance. It’s a slo-burn, absorbing psychological drama weaving a tale of jealousy, frustrated passion that escalates to a boiling point. Amazingly-shot in the picturesque island of Pantelleria, Italy, but definitely not a case of style over substance.

8. Midnight Special (full review)

MidnightSpecial

This the kind of science-fiction that’s more concerned about the emotional impact of the characters than dazzling us with sleek special effects. Though we’re dealing with a character from another world, Midnight Special is in essence is a father/son story. It’s not a flashy film, but it grabbed me right from its rather cryptic opening scene and never let up. I’m impressed once again by Jeff Nichols’ talent as a storyteller, and his frequent collaborator Michael Shannon delivered once again. Nichols’ new *muse* Joel Edgerton is also excellent here, and neither one of these actors have disappointed me in anything just yet.

7. Captain America: Civil War (full review)

CACivilWar

It’s a testament to the prowess of Captain America franchise that once again I’ve got yet another one of its film on my top 10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one of my favorites of 2014! Civil War is an excellent film that ties all three Captain American movies superbly well and would rank amongst the best film trilogies of all time. After this, I’m even more confident in the Russo brothers’ directing talent and MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is definitely in capable hands if they continue to make Marvel movies.

6. The Jungle Book (full review)

JungleBook

Disney’s done it again! This, as well as Pete’s Dragon are two of Disney’s major remakes that I hadn’t anticipated at all until the time the film marketing was put into high gear. The CGI effects alone is a wonder, I was literally in awe of how realistic the animals were. But thankfully director Jon Favreau didn’t just make something that’s style-over-substance. He made the classic tale come alive again and feels new. I find Mowgli’s journey quite moving and I really do love all the characters, and Idris Elba‘s voice is wonderfully mesmerizing as the villainous tiger Shere Khan.

5. The Fencer (full review

Fencer

Out of all the films from MSPIFF that I saw this year, this is one that made the most impression to me. It’s the first Estonian film (that’s also filmed in Estonia) I’ve ever seen. It’s such a moving drama loosely based on an Estonian Fencer Endel Nelis who fled from the Russian secret police and became a physical education teacher at a small-town school. It’s a mix of mystery war drama and a sports underdog story that blends seamlessly. I hope you get a chance to check this out when you can, it’s a little movie with a huge heart that deserves an audience.

4. The Lobster (full review)

Lobster

It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to say this is one of the weirdest films I’ve seen in a while. I think the last film I saw that was as bizarre as this one was Holy Motors, but I rate this one much higher due to its emotional resonance. This film gets top marks for originality and thought-provoking concept, you’d be hard pressed not to think about it for days afterwards. It’s a great film to see with someone else so you can discuss it endlessly afterwards. It featured one of the best performances from Colin Farrell I’ve seen to date, and it introduced me to Greek writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, definitely a striking talent to watch for.

3. Zootopia (full review)

Zootopia

I didn’t see this movie until it’s out on VOD and I must say I was gutted I didn’t see it on the big screen. I was blown away by how good this movie was and how compelling the story was, which proves that animated films have *matured* so much over the years. The plot is more of an action mystery thriller that is as clever and quick-witted as the movie’s protagonist. I love how the story keeps playing with my expectations throughout, cleverly weaving the themes of widely-held stereotypes and discrimination without taking away the fun of an animated adventure. I have bought the Bluray as I know this will be a fun one to watch over and over.

2. Sing Street (full review)

SingStreet

John Carney‘s done it again. This is the second movie of 2016 (after PPZ) which soundtrack has become one of my all time favorites! It’s Carney’s third film (after Once and Begin Again) that I absolutely love. There’s no other filmmaker working today who integrates music into the storyline as shrewdly as Carney does. I love 80s music and this is the perfect love letter to the music of that era. Featuring a gifted young Irish singer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (who was just 15 when he was cast), it’s such a fun celebration of the power of music. I was swept away by the infectious optimism of this movie, and I can’t wait to watch this again.

1. Love & Friendship (full review)

LoveAndFriendship

Another Austen film made my top 10… though it’s based on Austen’s lesser-known work. In fact, this was based on her short epistolary novel Lady Susan that was published posthumously in 1871. This is nothing short of a masterpiece from writer/director Whit Stillman, featuring a masterful performance by Kate Beckinsale in the title role and a delightfully-hilarious turn by Tom Bennett. You’ve never seen an Austen female protagonist like this before, the beautiful Lady Susan is as deviously-cunning as she is impeccably dressed. I enjoyed this movie immensely and I think the fact that it’s more of a satire than a romance drama, it’d be as enjoyable for those who are normally not into this genre. Funny, witty, and so gorgeous to look at, this is another Austen movie I could watch over and over for years to come.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Now, I think all of these are terrific films and well worth your time. In fact, I liked Deadpool So much so that I made a top 10 list why it won me over, so it was definitely the biggest pleasant surprise for me this year. I like Beeba Boys a lot, and had the pleasure of interviewing its filmmaker Deepa Mehta at MSPIFF in April.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Let’s see which of these films would end up in my FINAL top 10 of 2016. There are quite a few films released in the latter half that I loved… Pete’s Dragon, The Light Between Oceans, Captain Fantastic, Anthropoid, etc. that might end up on my final top 10. Plus there are others that haven’t even been released yet, such as these that I’m anticipating: Loving, American Honey, The Accountant, Queen of Katwe, The Girl on the Train, A United Kingdom, Rogue One, among others.


So that’s my Best list of 2016 so far. Thoughts on my picks here? I’d be happy to discuss ’em with you 😀

Sunshine Blogger Award

SunshineBlogger

Nothing like getting an award to bring a ray of sunshine to my day. I had just gotten back from my trip and was really exhausted when I got pinged on Twitter, so big THANK YOU Getter and Margaret for nominating me 😀

As given, every award has a set of tiny rules for accepting it, here are the ones for Sunshine:

Post the award on your blog
Thank the person who nominated you
Answer the 11 questions they sent you
Pick another 11 bloggers (and let them know they are nominated!)
Send them 11 questions

I’m going to combine the two set of questions from the two ladies, so here we go…

Questions from Getter:

1. What was the last movie you saw and loved?

Well, I just saw The Light Between Oceans last night. It’s not a fun movie given the subject matter, but I love the poignant love story and of course it made me cry buckets. It’s wonderfully-directed, gorgeously-shot and expertly-acted… and the heartbreaking story lingered with me long after I saw it.

LightBetweenOceans
2. Name an actor, an actress and a director you would pair in a movie and what genre would it be?

Sam Riley + Naomie Harris in a romantic noir by Michael Mann.

SamRiley_NaomieHarris

3. Last song you listened to.

Great song by a Welsh band, and the video stars my current fave Welshman Aneurin Barnard!

4. Book to movie adaptation you would like to see happening in the near future?

DaughterOfTime RA_Aneurin_DaughterOfTime

I just finished this a couple of months ago. I’d LOVE to see The Daughter of Time adapted as a feature (or TV miniseries). The idea of Richard Armitage as the bed-ridden (ehm) inspector Grant sounds delish… and I soooo want Aneurin Barnard reprising his The White Queen role as Richard III in the flashback scenes.

5. From all the Chris’, which one do you prefer: Evans, Pine, Hemsworth or Pratt?

Though they’re all nice to look at, I don’t fancy any of them in terms of looks. But Chris Pratt has the best personality so I definitely pick him.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-chris-pratt-star-lord-chris-pratt-gif-Favim.com-3111828 rs_500x281-150520124914-DMWTWRj

6. Name your 3 movie pet peeves.

  • Rude people who uses their phone during a movie in a theater
  • Predictable, cheesy plot you can spot a mile away
  • Amazing actors being underutilized in movies [or not getting enough work!]

7. If you had to choose, what season would you live in forever?

Autumn. Especially in Minnesota with the gorgeous Fall colors!

8. Imagine your pet (or an imaginary pet) had an inner voice, which actors/actress’ voice would he/she have?

Sam Riley’s… in his native Yorkshire accent.

9. You had a really bad day, what book or movie will make you feel better?

Sense & Sensibility. Both the 1995 Ang Lee version and the 2008 BBC version.

SenseSensibilitySenseSensibilityBBC

10. If they were handing out superpowers based on your personality, what superpower would you want and what would you probably end up with?

Oh boy, that’d be a tough one! Well I have an obsessive streak in me & I’m an aspiring screenwriter, so I’d love to have a superpower where I have all the talent, clout & money in the world to make the films I want with the actors/filmmakers I want. What I’d end up with? Utter, massive disappointment that I’ll never get to do any of that 😦

11. Sleep, Marry, Kill:

This is a tough one as I actually don’t fancy ANY of these people (except perhaps Hardy circa Inception), nor do I have strong negative feelings for.

Round 1: Joel Kinnaman, Ryan Reynolds, Dave Franco

Sleep: Reynolds | Marry: Kinnaman | Kill: Franco

Round 2: Jared Leto, Chris Evans, Orlando Bloom

Sleep: Leto | Marry: Evans | Kill: Bloom

Round 3: Paul Rudd, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender

Sleep: Fassbender | Marry: Hardy | Kill: none (I mean who could possibly kill Paul Rudd??)

Round 4: Choose between three guys you picked to marry from previous rounds

Marry: Chris Evans (he seems like the most *normal* one I can imagine living with)


Questions from Margaret:

1. Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Hmmm, I’ve been asked this once before. There’s no Asian actress currently who looks even remotely like me, but hey, you always want someone 100 times prettier, smarter and wittier to play you in a movie right? In that case I picked Rashida Jones… [she’s also got a similar skin tone, height and age as me] 😀

RashidaJones

2. What is your favorite movie ending of all time?

The Dark Knight – Gordon’s speech narrating the scene + the music = absolutely perfect.

3. Who is your favorite cinematic Batman?

Wow, I hadn’t seen this question when I answered #2. So naturally… Christian Bale.

4. What is the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?

I’ll go with a recent one that’ll stand to be a comedy classic: What We Do in The Shadows

5. Your sexiest movie character ever choice?

Even 65 years later, still tough to top Brando in Streetcar Named Desire [fanself]

tumblr_nylg1cCoEk1ux7wsqo1_500

8598c6df42a39361a9ec9a91e400afca

6. What do you like most about our movie blogosphere?

The movie discussions & fangirl/boy-ing 😀

7. What is your favorite movie blog?

Oh man, too many to mention…

8. Will Sati survive Blade Runner 2?

Ahah, that’s VERY questionable. I’ve advised her to take someone who knows CPR to the movie!

9. What is your most anticipated movie at the moment?

Not a movie, but BBC mini-series SS-GB!

SSGB_BBCminiseries

10. What is the most under-seen movie you love?

Ahah, pretty much everything Sam Riley‘s been in is under-seen. But if I have to pick one, it’d be the Austrian western Das Finstere Tal (The Dark Valley) – review coming next week!

11.What movie character do you identify with?

Sense & Sensibility‘s Elinor Dashwood.


The 11 bloggers I’m nominating:

1. MichaelIt Rains, You Get Wet

2. CindyCindy Bruchman’s Blog

3. VinnieVinnieh Blog

4. Steven – Surrender To The Void

5. Khalid – Blazing Reel

6. Eddie – Jaccendo

7. Anna – Movie Nut

8. The VernVideo Vortex

9. ZöeSporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger

10. PaulPfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies

11. TiffanyPresents of the Past

Wish I could nominate more but hey fellow bloggers, if this meme strikes your fancy, feel free to take part!

My 11 questions to them:

  1. Who’s your favorite female filmmaker?
  2. Which actor/actress would you be willing to wait in line for say, 5 hours, to meet?
  3. If you could write ANY screenplay, what genre would it be? [Feel free to elaborate if you have a specific idea in mind already]
  4. Who’s your favorite male AND female film characters in the past decade?
  5. Same as above but for TV series/mini-series.
  6. What film genre you wish studios (Hollywood or otherwise) would make more of?
  7. Inspired by Dell’s recent Against the Crowd Blogathon, what critically-panned film you’d defend with a passion in the past decade?
  8. What movie you saw this year that surprised you in a big way [whether good or bad]?
  9. If you could have a single piece of clothing from any film, which one would you pick?
  10. If you could be James Corden for a day for one episode of Carpool Karaoke, which one musical artist (or actor if he/she is also a singer) would you invite?
  11. What’s your most reliable guilty pleasure movie?

Well that was fun! Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about moi 🙂

 ///

Highlights from 2016 Wizard World CHICAGO Comic-Con: Netflix’s Daredevil panel + Carrie Fisher Q&A

WWChicagobanner

Hello hello! I’m back from my mini vacation to Chicago, visiting friends, sight-seeing and topped off with a fun day at Wizard World! As I mentioned in this post, I was only able to make it to Sunday, and they sure saved the best for last. I got to see the Netflix’s Daredevil cast [minus Jon Bernthal which had to cancel due to filming], followed by the eternally entertaining Carrie Fisher right after!

So here’s my recap from Sunday:

12:00-12:45 – Netflix’s Daredevil panel

I waited in line for about an hour and a half before I finally got into the Ballroom, but it was worth the wait! The host was from Honest Trailers, and I think he was pretty good, though some of the fun moments came from questions from the audience. Everyone was understandably mum about season 3, though Charlie Cox mentioned about The Defenders a few times, so I don’t know if Netflix is gonna run that first before season 3 of Daredevil.

DaredevilPanel4

Charlie also talked about the wonderful continuity of the Marvel TV universe, as in one episode, Rosario Dawson‘s Claire showed up on set with a cut above her eyebrow. It turns out she got that injury from a scenario in Jessica Jones involving Luke Cage!

Speaking of Rosario, can I just say I have a massive girl crush on her after seeing her here! I mean, I’m already a huge fan of Claire but Rosario has such an amazing personality to match her beauty, she’s truly a fun person to watch on and off screen.

The host talked about how fun it would be to do a Daredevil/Jessica Jones musical mashup (like what CW’s The Flash/Supergirl). Rosario quipped that perhaps Kilgrave could make everyone sing in the show! Oh how fun would that be!!

DaredevilPanel2

Charlie Cox looks exactly like I’d picture him to be. Gorgeous and adorkable (he turned to Rosario when someone asked them who their favorite cereal mascot is, I suppose they didn’t have that in England, ahah). He also told a story about one of his earlier films he’s not proud of, which I think is this one, where the director didn’t speak much English and he didn’t want anyone to help fix the erroneous dialog. Now he actually made me curious to see it!!

Elden Henson who played Foggy seems very shy (or disinterested I don’t know), but he really didn’t do much during the panel. I thought he’d be as witty as his character, but meh. Despite what happened at the end of season 2, looks like Elektra will be back as Elodie Young is one of the panelists. She seems so petite and delicate, but the host reminded everyone she’s got a black belt in Karate so yeah, she definitely can beat everyone up real easy.

DaredevilPanel1

I really enjoyed Deborah Ann Woll as well, she has a fun, spunky personality but she’s also affable and sweet. The two ladies really livened up the panel, I’m certainly a fan of both of ’em now.


One of my favorite parts is when Charlie talked about the challenges of portraying a blind man on the show. He was quite elaborate describing how Matt Murdoch wouldn’t have to even look at the direction where he’d be grabbing something because of his heightened senses, which is something he’d have to train hard to do.

The panel seemed to go by in a flash, I could totally watch them for another hour!

DaredevilPanel3


1:00–1:45 – Using the force with Carrie Fisher

CarrieFisher_WizardWorld4

I am so glad I went on Sunday as the Q&A session with Carrie Fisher is an absolute blast! Of course she brought her dog Gary. In fact the first ten minutes is pretty much about Gary and the beef jerky, as she (as well as the two hosts) were feeding him the entire time! In fact one time Carrie berated Gary at one point for walking back and forth to get food.

I love how real she was and that she really didn’t give a flying fig about anything or anyone. I also respect that she’s a big advocate for mental illness and she was totally gracious towards fans who ask her about dealing with Bipolar disorder.

CarrieFisher_WizardWorld1

The hosts didn’t just ask her about Star Wars, though of course that was the main entrée, but they also asked about her experience about working with John Belushi in The Blues Brothers and The ‘Burbs with Tom Hanks. When asked about which movie(s) she regretted she turned down, she said that she was never in a position to turn down roles. But she did reveal that she wished she had been in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven.

Here are just a sampling of her funniest quotes during the panel:

“Harrison is witty. He’s not funny. There’s a big difference. Funny involves a bit of people pleasing and Harrison isn’t a people pleaser, but he people-pleased inadvertently.”

“Look, my son is Hitler!” – referring to Kylo Ren when asked about who she would ship in The Force Awakens

“In that universe it’s issues with their father. So if you have issues with your father and I must say I have, in both universes, so you don’t want to screw with me in either one.” – on why Leia is so fierce.
 …
She then asked the little girl how her father’s treating her. When she said he treats her well, Carrie said, “Well then you’re not gonna be as fierce. Ask your father to start neglecting you.”
 
“I’d make Trump go away. So I never have to hear about his small hand or small penis ever again.” – on what she’d do if she had the force
 …
“I knew Luke was my brother, so I tongued him.” – when asked if she had read that Mark Hamill’s Luke was Leia’s brother.
 ….
“John Belushi. What would I say that you’d laugh at. No, it’s Harrison, which would be funny too.” – on who’s the best kisser.
 ….
“Where the hell have you been? Did you go to a small island as you didn’t look it.” – on what she would say to Luke after he came back from his hideout.


I never laughed so much and so hard in a single hour! She had me in stitches so many times my stomach hurt after the panel was done.

Carrie Fisher is a legend, folks, I absolutely loved the Q&A. Plus, at the end she made this young girl’s day when Carrie invited her to the stage. She was the last person to ask a question and she said she’s Bipolar. She also had a service dog with her that she dressed as Leia!

LeiaDog

 

Favorite Cosplayers

One of the best parts about comic-con is the people cosplayer watching!

The Spidey photographer who I think is a press member (as he wore the same light blue wristband as I did) is both my hubby and my favorite! Not just because of the costume, but he was such a fun, obliging guy. As soon as my hubby asked him for a photo, he immediately dropped to the floor and stroke a pose!
WWChicago_Spidey

My second favorite is Kylo Ren as the guy resembles Adam Driver so much in terms of mannerism and tall, lanky figure. I wish he had a red lightsaber that could actually turn on!

WWChicago_MeKylo

Suicide Squad was a popular one, unsurprisingly, the fact that the film still tops the box office this weekend. There were multiple Jokers and Harley Quinns, and the entire gang were hanging out in the lobby the entire time. I saw one giant Batfleck walking by as I was in Starbucks, but I couldn’t find him again, bummer!

This one is for Margaret 😉
Ok he’s no Leto but I think he nailed the Suicide Squad‘s Joker look pretty well!

WWChicago_LetoJoker

Click on each image to see a larger version:

///
LOVE this Wonder Woman cosplayer who’s absolutely gorgeous and always ready to pose for the camera! We ran into her a couple of times and she truly embodied the character in her pose, plus it’s a real kick-ass costume + prop. You go girl!

Wonder Woman ready to strike!
Wonder Woman ready to strike!


That was a blast! Wizard World Chicago was definitely bigger than the one in Minneapolis, and there was still a huge crowd on the last day. I really enjoyed the two panels I attended and had a blast roaming the lobby and exhibit hall!

Big shout out to Wizard World PR people Jerry Milani & co. for your hard work organizing this wonderful event!


So that’s my Wizard World Chicago recap, folks. How was YOUR weekend, seen anything good?

Counting down to 2016 Wizard World CHICAGO Comic-Con!

Happy Friday everybody!

The fact that I’ll be flying to Chicago this afternoon certainly adds an extra spring in my step. I’ve attended the Minneapolis Wizard World event before, but this year is the first time I’ll be attending the Comic Con in Chicago! It started yesterday and it’ll go all the way through Sunday at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

chicago-comic-con-2016

The programming is pretty massive for all four days, but I can only attend one day as we’re also visiting friends who live in town. We’ve decided that day’ll be Sunday!

A SAMPLING OF PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Interactive Q&As vith Back to the Future standouts Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson (Saturday, 1 PM); X-Files stars David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis (Saturday, 2 PM), Daredevil’s headliners Charlie Cox, Rosario Dawson, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson and Elodie Yung (Sunday, 11:30 AM)
  • Solo Q&A sessions vith Carrie Fisher (Sunday, 12:30 PM); Ash vs Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell (Saturday, 3 PM); Heroes Milo Ventimiglia (Friday, 3 PM);  Arrow’s Colin Donnell (Saturday, 11 AM); iZombie’s Rose McIver (Saturday, noon); The Karate Kid’s Ralph Macchio (Sunday, noon); Boondock Saints stars Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco (Friday, 6 PM); Clerks’ Jason Mewes (Friday, 6 PM); Bill & Ted’s William Sadler (Friday, 4 PM); The Librarians’ Christian Kane (Sunday, 11 AM); and Power Rangers Megaforce Andrew Gray (Saturday, 2 PM)
  • “In the Ring” vith WWE® Superstars Becky Lynch™ (Friday, 2 PM), Seth Rollins™ (Thursday, 6:30 PM),  Dean Ambrose™ (Friday, 4 PM), Bayley™ (Thursday, 7:30 PM), and The Bella Twins™ (Saturday, 1:30 PM)
  • Celebrate 40 years of the (Wizard World) Chicago Comic Con with Mike Gold, George Hagenauer, Larry Charet, and Maggie Thompson (Friday, 3:30 PM)
  • Sessions featuring superstar creators “Spider-Man’s” Danny Fingeroth, “Gargoyles’” Greg Weisman, “The Red Hook’s” b, and “Dream Thief’s” Jai Nitz (Saturday, 6 PM), SNL’s J.J. Sedelmaier (Friday, 3 PM); and many others

I gotta admit the one panel I am super psyched about is THIS:

DAREDEVIL panel: Saving hell’s kitchen

… with Daredevil’s Charlie Cox, Rosario Dawson, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, and Elodie Yung.

WizardWorld_DaredevilCast

I LOVE the series and I’m excited to see the cast in person. It’s always fun to see the chemistry of the actors off-set, and this is an ensemble that I absolutely love. I mean I like every single one of the actors and what they bring to each of their roles.

WizardWorld_Daredevil_Cox_Henson
Is Matt & Foggy bromance for real?

Unfortunately The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal isn’t going to be coming to the event due to filming 😦 I had just seen the season 3 teaser trailer last week and now I’m salivating for it even more!


I was really hoping to see Luke Cage‘s Mike Colter also but he too, had to cancel due to filming. Same with Sebastian Stan who was originally scheduled to appear in Chicago. Ah well, I suppose these things happen and they do have work they’ve committed to.

In any case, the Luke Cage trailer is looking good! I know what I’ll be bingeing in late September 🙂

 

Using the force with Carrie Fisher

WizardWorld_CarrieFisher

Now, I’m not a massive Star Wars fan but Carrie Fisher sounds like a hoot from what I’ve seen in interviews. I wonder if she’ll bring her beloved dog Gary to the panel. It’ll be fun just to see her share some of her experiences as part of such a behemoth franchise. And who knows there might be some tidbits about Star Wars Episode VIII! 😉

The truth is still out there

Now, I wish I could make it Saturday as well as I definitely will attend the X-Files panel. I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of the series but I’m a big fan of both lead actors: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson!

WizardWorld–XFiles

I enjoyed the Gillian Anderson panel last year at WW Minneapolis, but I bet it’d be even more fun seeing David and Gillian together! They seem to have a great chemistry off-screen, and I know David’s got quite a wicked sense of humor.

There’s also a David Duchovny Book Reading on Sunday, as he recently released his second novel, Bucky F*cking Dent: A Novel, following the success of his debut Holy Cow, which landed on The New York Times’ Bestseller List.

 


Of course half the fun of attending any comic-con is the people cosplayers watching!

My hubby will surely have a field day taking pictures of them on the exhibition floor, surely there will be no shortage of Star Wars cosplayers, which seems to be eternally popular.


Have a great weekend everyone. I’ll be sure to post my recap of my day at Wizard World Chicago!

Ranking the BOURNE villains – from worst to best

Ted_reviewRankingBourneVillains

Every hero requires a villain and the Jason Bourne franchise has plenty of villains to root against. I do want to see him go up against other groups of villains though, as opposed to just CIA bigwigs and their hired assassins. Maybe for the next sequel, Bourne could take down some other group of baddies. In the meantime, here’s my list of worst to best villains of the franchise so far. Please note I’m excluding The Bourne Legacy without Matt Damon in the lead because that’s a crappy film and I don’t count it as part of the Bourne franchise.

Naturally this post contains spoilers so proceed with caution if you haven’t seen any of the Bourne films yet.

4. The Bourne Supremacy – Ward Abbot, Gretkov and Kirill

Even though it’s my favorite film of the franchise, I thought the villains were pretty weak. Abbot (Brian Cox) was just a greedy weasel who tried to cover up his mess when the shit hit the storm. Gretkov is a typical powerful businessman whose only goal was to get super rich and killed anyone who got in his way. I like Karl Urban’s assassin character here but he didn’t have much to do. He’s just another hired gun and nothing else. I would’ve loved to see more development of his character and maybe that epic climatic car chase between him and Bourne would’ve been even sweeter.

3. The Bourne Ultimatum – Noah Vosen, Ezra Kramer and Paz

I like David Strathairn as an actor but somehow I thought he’s sort of miscast here as the lead villain in this third Bourne film. Vosen is basically a Yes Man type of character whose main goal was to keep his boss out of trouble. To me he’s not menacing enough to be the lead villain in a spy film. Now the true villain in the film was actually Scott Glenn’s character but we saw so little of him that he became non-existent. Edgar Ramirez’s Paz was just another hired gun whose mission is to kill Bourne.

Strathairn_BourneUltimatum

2. Jason Bourne – Robert Dewey and Asset

In the newest Boune film, these two villains were given more to do than just trying to take down Bourne. Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) is an old school type of person and he truly believes what he’s doing is to keep the US safe from terror. He’s cunning and very manipulative and of course dangerous if you decide to cross him.

Cassel_JasonBourne

Vincent Cassel’s assassin character was given some motivation as to why he wanted to kill Bourne and I thought it worked pretty well. He’s not just another hired gun who wants Bourne dead; he got his own agenda and won’t listen to reasons until Bourne is gone. For those who’ve seen the film, you’re probably why I didn’t mention Heather Lee. Well I’m not sure if she’s truly a villainous person or someone who still wants to use Bourne to climb the CIA power ladder. I think of her as the younger version of Pamela Landy.

1. The Bourne Identity – Conklin and The Professor

Chris Cooper’s villainous turn in the first film is still my favorite. He’s got as much screen time as Bourne and also has some juiciest and fun scenes. My favorite scene is when he found out the French police has screwed up and alarmed Bourne and then Bourne was able to get away, again. He’s started screaming in the CIA operation room and everyone was silent and scared shitless. I think most of us have been in that situation when your boss loses his cool and you don’t know what to say. His confrontation scene with Bourne near the end was another one I really enjoy, I thought Cooper totally outshine Damon in that scene.

Clive Owen’s The Professor wasn’t on the screen that much but his mysterious character somehow made more impact than other assassins in the franchise. His scene with Bourne before his death (shown above) is still my favorite; it’s quite and kind of chilling as to what these assassin has to go through in their daily lives.

TedS_post


Ruth’s Take

I agree with Ted’s list though I probably would switch #3 and #4 because I think Brian Cox and Karl Urban are far more interesting than the David Strathairn/Edgar Ramirez pairing. In fact I barely remember Ramirez whilst all the chase scenes with Urban is extremely memorable.

Owen_BourneIdentity
“I always work alone.”

I totally agree with Ted’s number 1 pick, and that chilling final scene between Damon and Owen is one of my favorites of the entire franchise. Owen displays such a compelling vulnerability as an assassin that made the character human instead of just another cold killing machine.


So what do you think of this list? How would YOU rank the Bourne villains?

,,,

FlixChatter Review: Anthropoid (2016)

AnthropoidPoster

I love historical-based films that really made you want to read more about the actual events. Anthropoid, based on the true story of Operation Anthropoid to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, is one such film. WWII history buffs would surely know about the ‘Butcher of Prague’ monster that was Heydrich. He’s known as the main architect behind the Final Solution, the Nazi’s plan to exterminate all the Jews in Europe. “It’s assassination, not murder,” one main character said about Heydrich early in the film, “murder implies he’s got a life worth living.” 

To say this is a dangerous operation is putting it mildly. Now it would be appropriate to call this select group of Czech commandos ‘Suicide Squad’ because none of them have special powers and there’s no rescue mission after they carry out their operation. The film center on Jozef Gabčík (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubiš (Jamie Dornan), a pair of Czech paratroopers who were dropped in Czechoslovakia. Right from the start, this film was suspenseful and intense. As Gabčík’s foot was injured when he landed, they had to find shelter and medication, as well as face traitors who threaten to expose them.

Anthropoid_still2

The two Irish actors gave a compelling and very human portrayal of the two main paratroopers. I can’t say if their Czech accent was spot on, but at least it wasn’t distracting. I was most impressed with Cillian Murphy who always gives an understated but captivating performance. Gabčík is the more experienced of the two, and I learned later that Kubiš actually replaced the original soldier who was injured in training. I’m not as familiar with Jamie Dornan (nope I don’t care to watch that Fifty Shades movie), and at first I thought he’s too much of a pretty boy for the role. But I think he acquits himself well, showing the inner struggle and anxiety of carrying out the mission. Kubiš’ hand tremble as he tried to shoot a traitor, but later on he fought valiantly just like the rest of the resistance group.

Anthropoid is appropriately gripping and intense, but not overly somber. The two men, despite knowing it’s a suicide mission, did fall for two women whom they met during the operation, portrayed by Charlotte Le Bon as Marie and Anna Geislerová as Lenka. I was more drawn to the more restraint relationship of Gabčík and Lenka, but I’m glad the romance never overshadowed the real story or took the focus away from the main mission. Toby Jones and Harry Lloyd particularly stood out from the resistance group. It seems that Jones’ become a top choice for WWII-related roles with accents.

Anthropoid_still1

There are two main parts to the story, the events leading up to the assassination event and the aftermath. Filmmaker Sean Ellis (who co-wrote the film with Anthony Frewin) stayed true to the historical event, which some critics call boring and by-the-numbers. Now, the filmmaker might lack narrative ambition, but I have no problem with the decision to stay close to the real story. I do think there’s enough drama and stylistic elements that separates this from a documentary. I find myself on the edge of my seat practically the entire time, as even the slower moments of just people talking and planning the operation itself is brimming with suspense that they could get caught at any moment. There’s also an apparent conflict within the Czech resistance group, as some fear (reasonably so) that the Nazi would destroy their country in retaliation.
Anthropoid_Heydrich

The actual assassination itself was pretty well-staged. I already knew what happened from reading about it, but seeing it portrayed on screen was still quite thrilling. I guess one lesson from this is they ought to get a proper weapon from America instead of using the British Sten gun that’s apparently prone to jamming. The group originally thought they had failed this mission, it wasn’t until a week later that they found out Heydrich’s fate. Some historians wonder if this covert operation was worth it, considering the huge cost Czechoslovakia paid in its aftermath.

Two Czech villages are leveled to the ground and over 5000 Czech people were brutally killed following Heydrich’s death. But as the famous quote says ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,’ it’s no doubt these men were true heroes. They fought bravely for their country at the cost of their own (as well as their families) lives. Even if that mission made the Nazi top officers (even Heydrich’s bosses Hitler & Himmler) think they’re not so invincible after all, who’s to say it wasn’t worth it? The sheer brutality of Germany’s reprisal also led to the Allies to dissolve the Munich Agreement.

Anthropoid_Prague

I wouldn’t say this is an enjoyable film given the harrowing subject matter, but I was engrossed in the story throughout. There’s a particularly brutal torture scene that warrants its R-rating but overall it’s not loaded with violence or gore. The group’s last stand at the crypt of a Czech Orthodox church is especially intense but still grounded, not resorting to typical Hollywood bombast. The sepia-toned film is beautifully-shot on location in Prague and the music adds a haunting atmosphere to the whole operation.  The 1940s costumes and vintage set pieces adds authenticity to the period. I’d say this is a pretty stylish film despite its small budget of $9 million.

I’m glad I saw this film on the big screen. It’s an important subject matter that is worth learning about and it certainly made me want to learn more about the actual events. It may not be flashy or spectacular but Anthropoid is a solid and fascinating film. Apparently Ellis started working on this film in early 2000s after seeing a documentary and his passion on this topic showed on screen. This film also made me itch to go to Prague and I definitely would visit the historical locations featured in this film.

4Reels


What are your thoughts on Anthropoid?