Thursday Movie Picks #288: Films Released In 2019

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! I can’t believe it’s been five years since I participated in this weekly Thursday Movie Picks blogathon that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 2019 Releases

Well, since I am still working on my Top 10 Best of 2019 that I’m planning to post next week (as I always like to wait at least a week or two after new year before publishing), then consider this post a preview of what you’ll see either on my main list or honorable mentions. I’ll choose three that I haven’t personally reviewed it myself.

So without further ado, here are my picks:

Marriage Story

A stage director and his actor wife struggle through a gruelling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.

I saw this film back in October 2019 at Twin Cities Film Fest, and I still remember how much I was taken by it. Somehow I haven’t gotten around to writing a review of it, not sure why because I have SO much praise for it. Perhaps it’ll be too long of a review, ahah. If someone were to ask me my favorite film of 2019, I often say this one right away because it’s on my mind so much. I just LOVE Noah Baumbach‘s script, which I feel depicts a dissolution of a marriage in an unflinching-ly real and emotional way, with the actors performing in such a naturalistic way it’s as if I was watching the characters themselves, not a performance. I kind of have a thing for Adam Driver these days, and he’s absolutely phenomenal here (plus he sang, too!)

I actually have only seen one film he directed, While We’re Young, and while I like parts of it, I didn’t really love it. But I know I’ll be rooting for Baumbach to win Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars!

A Hidden Life

Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter faces the threat of execution for refusing to fight for the Nazis during World War II.

I actually just had a discussion about this film with my fellow blogger Keith who also loved this movie (check out his review of this film here). It’s definitely a return to form for Terrence Malick, which tells the true story of a conscientious objector during World War II. It’s a slow, reflective film but not-at-all boring… it’s a typical Malick film with gorgeous cinematography and long silences, but unlike his previous film Knight Of Cups (a film about a screenwriter without a script??!), this time it has such a strong emotional center. I truly felt for Franz and his wife and their struggle is so painstakingly-palpable. Truly an unforgettable film that stays with you long after the end credits roll.

Peanut Butter Falcon

After running away from a residential nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler, a man who has Down syndrome befriends an outlaw who becomes his coach and ally.

One of my awesome blog contributors Holly P. has reviewed this a while back,  but I had finally seen it this past weekend. Oh it’s such a delightful film and Zack Gottsagen will steal your heart. I think it’s wonderful that the film employed an actor with Down syndrome to portray a character with that condition and he did a marvelous job. I love the relationship between him and his co-stars Dakota Johnson and Shia LaBeouf, there are SO many scenes that pack such emotional wallop. It’s such a funny, uplifting film, definitely one of the best 2019 offerings. In fact, I think it should’ve gotten more awards love than some movies that got nominated recently.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery – Salem’s Horror Museum

Special Halloween’s Post courtesy of
LAURA SCHAUBSCHLAGER

It’s almost Halloween’s Eve and today we’ve got a special post from our horror correspondent Laura, who’s recently traveled to Salem to celebrate her birthday! While there, she got to talk with the founder/owner James about the popular attraction, which boast an amazing artistry and production details that would attract horror actors as well as horror fans.

So enjoy her writeup below from her visit to COUNT ORLOK’s NIGHTMARE GALLERY:

As most of you regular FlixChatter readers know, I’m the resident horror writer. I cover other genres, but horror is my wheelhouse. So when I visited Salem, MA over my birthday weekend and found out they had a horror movie museum, you know what was at the top of my list of things to do. Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery has been a Salem staple for the past 11 years and is a must-see for horror fans and movie buffs alike, filled with incredibly detailed wax figures of famous horror characters, from silent films to Universal Monsters to 80’s slashers and everything in between, all including plaques listing interesting production info about the movies. I thought it would be fun to visit it myself and write about it as a Halloween feature for the blog.

Even if this isn’t posted by Halloween, Count Orlok’s is absolutely worth learning a little more about. I had the immense pleasure of speaking with James, Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery’s founder, about the museum and its beginnings, the impressive list of horror celebrities who have visited it, and the horror genre in general.

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery opened in September of 2007 on Derby Street in Saelm, after having been a traveling museum based out of Newport, RI simply known as “The Nightmare Gallery.” The name was changed to Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery mostly to avoid being confused with “The Nightmare Factory,” a haunted house attraction in the same town. The name Count Orlok was chosen partially because the iconic Nosferatu villain fell under public domain, and partially because of the air of mystery the name provided; “Not many people know the name is from that movie,” James informs me. The museum moved to a new location on Essex Street just this fall, after the landlord of the first location said he might not be able to renew the lease after a couple more seasons due to a park going in next door. Fortunately, the new location has worked out well; there’s an entire basement level that hasn’t been opened yet, but will contain even more exhibits, including a collection of Hammer Horror characters.

On the topic of the exhibits, I cannot begin to describe how lifelike these wax figures are. 1990’s It’s version of Pennywise, for example, is so detailed that it’s hard to believe a 44-year-old Tim Curry didn’t time travel to the museum in his full clown garb. It turns out that this figure is actually the museum’s first one made by 3D printer; they had another excellent Pennywise statue before, but James is always making sure they have the best versions possible for whatever characters he can find. The sculptors who provide the figures are a mix of people who have worked in film, newcomers at the edge of breaking into the industry and are creating in L.A., and some who have nothing to do with the film industry and are simply very talented artists. While plenty of the sculptures are permanent fixtures, James is always looking to add new ones when he can. “In the back of my mind, I keep a vague rolodex of monsters people have wanted to see in the past,” he explains. “If I happen to find them, I will try to bring it to my museum.” In addition to the exhibits, there is a small theater in the back of the museum where they screen public domain horror movies (Vincent Price’s House on Haunted Hill had just started while I was there). James also plans on using this space for special presentations on things like how the monsters are made, how he started collecting, etc.

“Horror movies in particular give you an escape that’s not entirely comfortable, that gives you a touch of anxiety, makes your adrenaline pump.” – Museum founder/owner James

Wax sculptures aren’t the only horror figures that frequent Count Orlok’s. The museum often hosts prominent horror celebrities (my visit landed right between a visit from Friday the 13th’s Kane Hodder and Halloween’s Tony Moran, so I clearly need to plan my trip better next time). Tony Moran, the unmasked face of Michael Myers in the original Halloween, was actually the museum’s first celebrity guest in 2009, and is a frequent visitor. Other notable guests include Dee Wallace, whose horror credits are too many to list here (seriously, look at her IMDB page), and whom James effusively describes as “very sweet, such a love,” telling me about how she met with fans outside the old location on one of the very coldest nights of October, keeping a wide smile on her face the whole time despite the freezing weather. The museum has also hosted Doug Bradley, AKA Pinhead from Hellraiser (the noise I made when James told me he got to walk through the museusm with Pinhead chatting about Pinhead might not have been human). And those few are only a small handful of the actors Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery has hosted.

At the end of our interview, I asked James a question I get a lot: what is it that you like about horror movies? “It’s a very unique escape from reality,” he muses. “Horror movies in particular give you an escape that’s not entirely comfortable, that gives you a touch of anxiety, makes your adrenaline pump.” He was hooked at a young age, when as a kid, he saw a commercial (he thinks maybe for Energizer batteries) with Vincent Price that ended with Vincent’s eyes glowing green. “I was enthralled,” James says. “It was very atmospheric…the atmosphere gets people.” His love for the genre grew as he got older, beginning to collect wax monster heads at 13 or 14, after having seen a neighbor’s impressive collection at a home haunt (a haunted attraction in someone’s actual home) a couple years earlier and learning from them about how to be discerning about collecting, getting numbers of potential resources, browsing catalogues, etc. Needless to say, the guy has been in the game for a long time, and that dedication shows in every square inch of his museum.


Even if you’re not a horror fan, Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is a must-see attraction in Salem, just for the artistry alone. If you live in the area or plan on visiting the East Coast, definitely add this to your itinerary. You can learn more at www.nightmaregallery.com or follow them on Facebook under Count Orlok’s Horror Gallery.

Top 10 Best Christmas Movies Relay Race

Well happy mid December everyone! This year, time has truly ran away from me… and if you’re keeping track, my life’s pace has been at lightning speed since I decided to make a movie last January! But hey, I do miss blogging and I remember how fun it was participating in my pal Nostra’s relay race posts in the past. Plus, when a good friend tagged you to do a relay race (thanks Keith!), you make time 😉 It’s a fun topic that’s perfect for this time of year, too!

So how does this work? Here’s a rundown from Nostra himself:

The rules are, just like the past relay races, very simple: The list has 10 Christmas movies (in random order) and when the baton is handed over to a new blogger, he or she has to remove one title of the list (with an explanation why) and add one new title. Once that is done a new blogger is contacted who will take the baton and run with it, doing the same (you can reinstate a title which has been previously removed). As Christmas is in three weeks I want to ask you to publish your entry as quickly as possible to make sure the list changes as much as possible before the 25th of December. Add the logo of this relay race to your post and also add links to those who came before you making it easy for everyone to find all the entries.

So here is the list of the 10 Best Christmas Movies as it stands now:

HOME ALONE

HOME

There are a number of Christmas films that I actually watch annually and Home Alone has been one of my favorites for years. This film, written by John Hughes, has all the elements to amuse and get you in the mood Christmas. And Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are of course hilarious when the “Wet bandits” Harry and Marv.

ELF

ELF

The film is almost fifteen years old, but the timeless story of a grown man who grew up among the elves and heads to New York, looking for his father, still is very funny and entertaining. Will Ferrell is the perfect “man child” and the short animated parts are a pleasure to watch. A real Christmas classic.

A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

MUPPET

Although Charles Dickens story has been translated to film many times, this version is still my personal favorite. A film with a lot of atmosphere and the warmth of the Muppets.

DIE HARD

DIE HARD

Every year people argue whether or not Die Hard can be labeled a Christmas film. Yet it is very simple: Although there is a lot of action, the story takes place around Christmas. And Bruce Willis might play his best role ever.

 

GREMLINS

GEMLINS

Although you might not associate this horror comedy with Christmas immediately, this film is set during this period and the gremlins even sing Christmas songs. A title that can not be missed.

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

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It’s a Wonderful Life is a movie which is watched by lots of people every year. Rightly so, because it is a beautiful film that fits the Christmas period.

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

MIRACLE

Another title that I have to think about immediately during this period. Although the opinions are divided which two of the two versions is the best.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

ARTHUR

The clumsy son of Santa, Arthur, has to make sure that a forgotten package is delivered on time, doing this together with his grandfather. A very nice film from Aardman studios (also responsible for the Wallace & Gromit films).

EYES WIDE SHUT

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I’m using the same argument here that many Die Hard fans cling to. The story is set during the festive season and, in actual fact, most if not all scenes are introduced by depicting a Christmas tree. It’s fair to say, that it’s dark psychological mystery isn’t exactly in tune with the Christmas cheer but if Die Hard can be tenuously linked to this joyful season then so can Kubrick’s masterpiece.

A CHRISTMAS STORY (Keith’s addition)

RALPHIE

Few films have defined my Christmas movie watching like Bob Clark’s delightful “A Christmas Story”. Sure, I gets overplayed during the season, but it is such a fabulous concoction filled with humor and heart. So many memorable scenes, so many memorable lines, so many memorable characters. This one simply has to be here.


Deciding what to remove was a painful task. I initially considered removing Eyes Wide Shut as the blogger who chose it himself said it ‘isn’t exactly in tune with the Christmas cheer’ but I guess it can still be considered an alternative Christmas film.

So the one I’m tossing out from this list is GREMLINS. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of one of the movies but man, I can’t stand those creatures!! I think seeing them sing Christmas songs will give me nightmares. Funnily enough, my short film’s lead actor’s theatre company is called Gremlin Theatre and for the life of me I have no idea why he chose that [shrug] Sorry Nostra but if I had to choose one, Gremlins‘ definitely gotta go!

So what’s my pick to replace it?

JOYEUX NOËL

I saw it on a Christmas weekend a few years ago as it was on Netflix. It’s a 2005 French film about the truce that took place on December 24, 1914 during World War I. Now this is a film that reflect the true Christmas spirit. Such a wonderful film that shows an uplifting lesson in humanity, though the truce is such a brief one and the troops from three countries had to pay the price for their disobedience. I’m a big fan of Daniel Brühl who’s great in the film, and I also love the performance of Guillaume Canet, Benno Fürmann and Diane Kruger. I’m glad I finally saw it and it’s become one of my favorite Christmas-themed films!


Ok I’m passing the yuletide baton to…
Brittani (yes a fellow Minnesota blogger 😉 ) over at Rambling Film Blog

The sun is indeed shining… Sunshine Blogger Award

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Nothing like getting an award to bring a ray of sunshine to my day. It has been a pretty hectic few months for me and it’s only going to be crazier the closer it gets to filming time of my short in the Spring. I haven’t got time to blog but hey it’s always fun to do these types of posts, so THANK YOU Vinnie 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

Questions from Vinnie:

How often would you say you spend on your blog?

Well normally I spend 5-6 hours a week blogging, but nowadays I barely have time for that.

What has blogging taught you?

It taught me to see films with a more critical eye. I also learned a ton from filmmakers/talents I’ve had the privilege to talk to over the years. I also learn from fellow bloggers from their insightful articles/reviews.

Amy Adams or Natalie Portman?

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I like both but I find Amy Adams more interesting to watch.

Walks along the beach or romantic meal inside?

Walks along the beach, hands down.

Have you ever written in the nude?

Nope.

What film had the biggest emotional impact on you?

Can’t name just one. Jane Austen films, esp. Sense & Sensibility, always resonates with me.

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But of recent ones, Moonlight and Hidden Figures got me all emotional.

What is your fondest memory from childhood?

Memories of traveling abroad with my late mom and two brothers. She was so full of life and quite adventurous, I’ll treasure those memories forever.

Is there any scene you would love to recreate from a movie?

Interesting question as I just finished the script of my theatre-themed short film. One scene I wish I could recreate is the extraordinarily-long shot in Birdman from the stage to the dressing room done in a single take (or at least seems like it was done in one take).

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I see myself as [hopefully] a full time screenwriter/filmmaker. I’m making my first short film this year in the hope that I can turn into a feature one day.

What film have you been meaning to watch for a long time, but just haven’t got the chance to?

Boy there are tons. But the one that comes to mind is The Big Sleep, which I was supposed to watch last year as part of The Blind Spot series.

And in the style of Stuff and That, do you think I have a nice bum?

I honestly have no clue what this question is about, sorry!


The 11 bloggers I’m nominating:

  1. Jordan – Epileptic Moondancer
  2. Margaret – Cinematic Corner
  3. Shivani – Critic Corner
  4. Brittani – Rambling Film
  5. Richard – CineMuse
  6. Chris – Music & Song Blog
  7. Allie – Often Off Topic
  8. Courtney – On The Screen Reviews
  9. Katy – Oh So Geeky
  10. Alex – Alex Raphael Blog
  11. Niels – Blog of Big Ideas

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. What’s your favorite movie quote that nobody else seems to notice?
  2. If someone give you a $1 million dollar budget to do a film, what type of film or genre would you do?
  3. In relation to question 2. Which non A-lister would you cast?
  4. Weekend getaway: Paris, London or Rome?
  5. I was going to do a post on this but have no time to finish it. What’s the worst movie you saw in 2016?
  6. What’s one particular movie scene you recently saw that still sticks with you?
  7. Favorite cuisine?
  8. Chris Evans, Chris Pine or Chris Hemsworth?
  9. Name an actor/actress you’ve seen in more than 10 movies? 
  10. See above. Name the movies.
  11. Name a film you wish had a sequel.

Well that was fun! If you feel inclined to answer any of the questions, feel free to leave a comment 🙂

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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]

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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 🙂

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Genre Grandeur – Heist Movies: Ocean’s Eleven & Ocean’s Thirteen

Ted_review
Oceans11_13

This post is part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur (or Guesstimation) series. Thanks to my pal Ted S. for his review of one of his favorite films of the genre.


I lost count on how many times I’ve watched these two Ocean’s films; I’m going to pretend that Ocean’s 12 never existed; the self-indulgent film was an embarrassing to everyone who’s involved in making it. Don’t get me started on the whole Julia Roberts pretended to be Julia Roberts sequence. I wanted to punch the writers and director Steven Soderbergh for thinking that we the audience would be that stupid and thought it would be a fun scene to watch.

Well speaking of Soderbergh, in the early 2000s, he’s the director every actor wanted to work with. If I remember correctly, two of his films in 2000, Traffic and Erin Brockovich were box office hits and got nominated for best picture at the Oscars. He received the golden statue for directing Traffic. So of course there were big expectations for his next picture. Opened during the holiday season of 2001, Ocean’s Eleven was one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned two sequels. Of course the cast was probably the big draw, packed with three A-listers George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts; veterans Andy Garcia, Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould and young up and coming actors such as Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck and Scott Caan.
Oceans11_PittClooneyOceans11_cast

Recently paroled Danny Ocean (Clooney) decides to get in touch with some of his old buddies including black jack dealer named Frank Catton (the late great Bernie Mac) and Rusty Ryan (Pitt). They hatched a plan to steal money from two Las Vegas casinos during a big boxing match that could be worth more than $130mil. The casinos are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) who happens to be dating Ocean’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). In order to get their plan rolling, they need some funding from Benedict’s rival Reuben (Elliot Gould). With backing from Reuben, Danny and Rusty went and recruit the rest of the team.

What I love about this film was the chemistry with each of the actors; they were all believable to me as a team on a mission. I especially love the bickering between the Mormon twins (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan). The script was well written and the actual heist was very clever and fun to watch. Unlike some other heist genre film, there were no twists or backstabbing from someone in the team. They finished their mission and everyone got paid.

Oceans11_Caan_Affleck

After the disastrous Ocean’s 12, Soderbergh decided to fix his mistake from the second sequel and brought the team back for another heist in Vegas. In Ocean’s Thirteen, the team’s mission this time is revenge. After Reuben was left for dead by his former partner Willy Bank (Al Pacino), Danny and Rusty wanted to break Bank’s brand new casino. Unlike the second sequel where I felt the actors and filmmakers were having fun but we the audience were left out. In this film, Soderbergh brought back the fun and I had a great time with it; heck I think I liked it better than the first film. The heist itself was quite clever, instead of stealing the money from the casino for themselves, Ocean’s team decided to let everyone win big. Speaking as someone who goes to Vegas regularly and gambles there, I would have loved to be involved in this heist.

Oceans13_Barkin_Pacino
Pacino w/ Ellen Barkin who’s quite the scene stealer in the movie

These two Ocean films aren’t the best in the heist genre but they sure are fun to watch. Maybe because it’s set in one of my favorite cities to visit Las Vegas, it’s the reason why I can’t get enough of these films.

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TedSPic


Well, what do YOU think of these two Ocean’s films? Which of the trilogy is your favorite? 

The Lucky 13 Film Club: 1930s British Female Protagonists

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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!

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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…

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