Finally… Hearts Want Short Film shoot begins!

It says ONE MORE DAY above but as I’m writing this post, it’s actually less than NINE hours until cameras are rolling!! 😬

As you can imagine, my hubby Ivan Maramis and I likely won’t get much sleep much tonight. We’ve been making a ton of lists… and checking ’em twice (or more) to make sure we don’t miss anything. From props, snacks, call sheets to contracts for all cast/crew… there are SO many little details to go over my head’s spinning! Being this is my first time in making a film, naturally I’m super nervous but extremely excited at the same time. But I’m confident in my cast/crew, that they will BRING IT and do a stellar job! In fact, I KNOW they will!

The fact that today is EASTER sure keeps things in perspective. I feel ever so blessed to be given this opportunity of a lifetime to make our first film… I firmly believe we wouldn’t have gotten here without the Lord’s blessings.

For updates on the film, check out Hearts Want FB page… I’ve been updating the page with photos from our blocking rehearsal…

… as well as a video snippet of my two phenomenal leads practicing a scene.

I’ve also been meaning to post this a while back, but check out the trailer from the amazing short film Sad Clown, directed by Jason P. Schumacher, a seasoned Minnesota filmmaker who’s directing Hearts Want!

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Besides my two talented (and gorgeous) leads Sam SimmonsPeter Christian Hansen, I’m also blessed with a seasoned, hard-working 18-people crew! Most of them have been making quite a few of films, in fact some have won some awards from film festivals. But aside from that, they’re also the nicest, fun-loving and gracious bunch of people that I know it’ll be a joy working with them! So yeah, I fully believe my project is in good & capable hands.


THANKS to all of you blog readers who have been following my passion project. Please pray and send well wishes our way as we’ll be filming 10-14+ hour days both Monday & Tuesday!

I shall have more guest reviews in the coming weeks, including The Fate of The Furious, The Promise as well as a review from 2017 Minneapolis/St.Paul Film Festival (MSPIFF) that begins last week!

 

Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2017 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. I know it’s been over a week since the death of Bill Paxton, who passed away on February 25 at the age of 61 from surgery complications. As this and many other tweets pointed out… Paxton was the only man to face off against a Terminator, Alien, and a Predator. He’s certainly famous for his sci-fi genre roles, but boy he’s done SO many memorable roles in his illustrious career. He’s such a consummate character actor who’s convincing playing anything… the ultimate ‘everyman’ in most of his movies as he’s so darn likable.

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I pretty much grew up with Paxton in the 90s too, with movies like True Lies, Apollo 13, A Simple Plan, Titanic and of course Twister, where he got the lead role. It’s hard to pick which is my fave role of his, but certainly Twister is in my top 3.

What’s your fave Bill Paxton movie(s)?

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2. I got a chance to see an adaptation of Shakespeare’s epic tragedy King Lear at the Guthrie Theatre. One of the main reasons for me to see it is because Blood Stripe‘s lead actress Kate Nowlin plays Goneril, one of Lear’s three daughters.

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It was a brilliant stage performance, with great lighting effects and sound design. I actually hadn’t seen any film version of the movie, not the 1971 movie nor the 2009 PBS’ Great Performances version with Ian McKellen. So I saw it fresh for the first time and was quite riveted by it.

What’s your favorite film based on a play… and which play would you like to see made into films?

3. Ok switching gears drastically… I hadn’t even been paying much attention to this sequel but when I saw the teaser last night I knew I had to include it here. Behold the Deadpool 2 teaser …

Ryan Reynolds and his Deadpool team has done it again! They’ve been very savvy w/ their promotional efforts for the first one and looks like their crazy, unhinged brand of humor is in full display! I wonder how much they had to pay DC to get the rights to use John Williams’ Superman music but man was it awesome!! It’s the kind of teaser I could watch over and over, let’s hope the sequel is as funny as this teaser!

Thoughts on the teaser? Are you excited to watch the Deadpool sequel?

4. Well, some of you might’ve read that LOGAN is my pick of February Movie of the Month. I hadn’t been anticipating it much, my hubby was more psyched about it than I did, but I was blown away by the film.

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It’s incredible that the 48-year-old Aussie actor has played the role for 17 years in various X-Men films and their spin offs. It’s rare for any actor to have played the same role that long, so it’s no surprise that Logan marks he last time he’ll reprise the role.

Let’s walk down memory lane and watch this audition tape from back in 1999 when he first audition to the role that made him famous…

It proves that scheduling conflict can be a good thing for some actors… most of you know that Dougray Scott was originally cast as Wolverine, but he had to bail as Mission: Impossible II (2000) required more filming time. Well I can’t imagine anyone else but Hugh as Wolverine now.

What are your thoughts on Hugh Jackman retiring as Wolverine… and who do you think should play the role next?

5. Ok, since this might be my last Five for the Fifth post in a while (given I’ll be filming my short film in mid April and the following months I might be tied up with post-productions), so I decided to come up with all five questions 🙂

I got a press release email in early February about The Ottoman Lieutenant I hadn’t even heard before. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard of it too? I also got another email from the press rep that there’s a possible phone interview with the lead actor Michiel Huisman, who I loved in Age of Adaline. We’ll see if that pans out. In any case, check out the trailer:

The Ottoman Lieutenant is a love story between an idealistic American nurse and a Turkish officer in World War I.

Well, I might check it out when it opens later this month, interesting to see Minneapolis native Josh Hartnett in it as well. It’s a pretty crowded Spring though with a bunch of big-budget releases like Kong: Skull Island, Beauty & The Beast, as well as smaller fares like Wilson,Kristen Stewart’s Personal Shopper and T2 Trainspotting.

So what’s the one movie you can’t wait to see this Spring?


Well, that’s it for the MARCH edition of Five for the Fifth. Hope you’ll take part!

Five for the Fifth: FEBRUARY 2017 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Whoa, the first month of 2017 has come and gone! Well, I actually almost forgot to do this month’s edition as I’ve been busy finishing my short film script. Well, so this February edition will be more of a reflection piece, if you will, so no First Look or new trailers. With that in mind, I’d like to pick your brains a bit to get to know you better as a cinematic blogger/reader friends!

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What single movie do you believe has had the single biggest impact on making you into a film buff and why?

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2. Thanks to SlashFilm for this awesome find of a video! When I saw this beautiful video compiled of clips from every film to have won best cinematography at the Academy Awards, from 1927 to 2015, I knew I just had to feature it here. Interesting to see the evolution of cinematography over the years… crazy that the last three years had been dominated by Emmanuel Lubezki, and yet not a single clip from Roger Deakins!! 😦

What’s your favorite(s) from this amazing cinematography collection?

3. It’s only just one month into 2017 and we’ve already lost yet another acting legend 😦 The venerable John Hurt , the gravelly-voiced British actor who garnered Oscar nominations for his roles in Midnight Express and The Elephant Man, has died at the age of 77. He’s done so many varied roles in his illustrious career, but perhaps best known for the chest-busting scene in Alien.

johnhurtquote

The roles I remember him most are in V For Vendetta, Harry Potter, Brighton Rock, Immortals, Snowpiercer, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The quintessential character actor, he always turned in a memorable performance even in small roles.

What’s your favorite John Hurt film(s)?

4. Since my head has been buried in screenplays lately (and hopefully forever), I paid more attention to that category more than the others. Out of the ten nominations in original and adapted screenplay categories, there are four I still haven’t yet: Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women and Fences. 

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Now I personally think Loving deserved a nom, more so than La La Land. Glad to see The Lobster getting recognized, now THAT is an original idea, bizarre, heartfelt, provocative AND funny!

Which 2016 movie you think deserve an Oscar Best Screenplay nomination?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is another great blogger from Down Under, Richard from CineMuse. I love his thought-provoking and ever-so-timely question…

Given the peculiar trait in American culture that makes certain topics appropriate for public discussion only if a movie is made about them…one often feels that the Academy Awards offer opportunities for expressing political sentiments that otherwise remain repressed.

(“The Politics of the Oscars”, Jonathan Rosenbaum)

The politics surrounding the Oscars threaten its legitimacy and is triggering an existential crisis: “The widespread protest over lack of diversity among this year’s acting nominees all but drowned out the usual pre-awards frivolity, and with no-shows, boycotts and “tune-outs”, on top of already declining TV viewing figures, the Oscars was, for the first time, contemplating its own irrelevance.

(The Guardian)

It is often argued that the Oscars is the most self-aggrandising and politically-loaded ritual of the film year. The reason is that the Oscars does not know if, as the Harvard Political Review puts it, “is it to recognize art or entertainment value.”

What’s your thought on that sentiment?


Well, that’s it for the FEBRUARY edition of Five for the Fifth. Hope you’ll take part!

A quick blog update… and my first script reading session

Happy Monday everyone! As you might’ve noticed, I haven’t been blogging much. Well, this weekend I caught a nasty cold… y’know, the constant sneezing, runny nose, etc. Luckily I don’t have a fever or cough but still it sucks and my nose is raw as I forgot to buy Kleenex w/ lotion on them :\

Well, some of you might’ve heard about my screenplay that I finished last July. On the spur of the moment I made this graphic just for the fun of it… little did I know I end up using them for the script reading months later.

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So, I thought I’d share a bit about the reading. It pretty much came about when I met Joanne (JoJo) Liebeler at one of the TCFF after parties, who happens to be the president of MNWIFT (I mentioned in this TCFF recap) She kindly offered her beautiful home for the reading and almost immediately we started planning for a reading in mid January. Thanks to my dear friend Kirsten Gregerson who helped me with casting, and she also did a splendid job reading a few supporting roles!

I had gone to only one reading before and it was a pretty big one. I’m glad my friends and I decided to do a small reading, there were only about 23 people, including the talents. It’s such a privilege to have Lucinda Winter from MN Film & TV Board, and Andrew Peterson from IFP MN among the audience. I had been fretting about the weather as MN Winter is so unpredictable, but thank the Lord that Sunday ended up being pretty warm and sunny!

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Top (from left to right): Shawn, Peter, David, yours truly, Kirsten, Sam, Holly, Noah and the narrator, Remy) – Thanks to my hubby Ivan for taking the photos!

We were so blessed to have been able to cast the seven talents plus one narrator. I’m especially thrilled to have Remy Auberjonois, an accomplished actor/filmmaker who’ve been in major Hollywood films and did theatre on Broadway with the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman narrated the reading. I had featured him on my blog when he did the MN indie feature Blood Stripe (in which Kirsten also had a supporting role), one of my top 30 picks 0f 2016. I’ve also just seen him as Col. Brandon in Guthrie Theatre’s Sense & Sensibility last October. Remy added such gravitas to the reading with his commanding voice. The narrator is such a crucial role in the reading, and I couldn’t imagine anyone better to do the job.

The female lead Lily was played by Sam Simmons, a local tv host for EVINE Live whom I met back in April at MSPIFF. She happens to be from the UK who moved to MN a year ago. My story is set in the UK w/ British characters so it’s cool to get an actual native Brit as one of the leads. She’s absolutely brilliant as Lily. Not only does she look like who I pictured Lily to be, she also sounds lovely and conveyed the emotions of the character very well.

The handsome leading man Peter + gorgeous leading lady Sam
The handsome leading man + gorgeous leading lady

Again, thanks to Kirsten we somehow landed a massively talented Twin Cities actor Peter Christian Hansen as the male lead, Jacques. He’s starred in a bazillion plays in town in which he won two Ivey Awards, as well as a few film projects. He did such an amazing job as Jacques… he’s got a bit of a bad boy edge that makes him perfect for the role. Given his extensive theatrical background, he also gave a very expressive performance, complete with gestures, instead of just reading the script! There’s such a scorching chemistry between Sam and Peter too, which is electrifying to watch.

If you’re interested about the actors bio, you can view the flyer here

I absolutely LOVE every single actor who read the script… THANK YOU Peter, Sam, Kirsten, David Coral, Noah Gillett, Shawn Dunbar and my lovely friend Holly Peterson! It’s quite surreal to see my story came to live thanks to their performances. Thanks to Ted and D.J. for taping the reading. I’ve watched it a couple of times already and I’m still amazed at even the subtle performances of the supporting cast… even just saying a simple line of ‘Would you like a playbill?’ gets everyone laughing, well done Holly! 👍

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Now my plan is to make a short film of Hearts Want… hopefully to have it wrapped this year yet. It’d be awesome have the same cast from the reading, so fingers crossed that would happen.

Update:

We did shoot the short film in mid April. Here’s the blog update… and you can always follow the Hearts Want journey on Facebook!

In terms of blogging, well I will try to keep posting about once a week. But you will see more guest reviews for the coming months. Suffice to say, I may not be blogging about Oscar nominations tomorrow… it’s just too much going on for me right now to do so.

Wish me luck with the short film project, we will likely do the crowd-funding route to help with financing, so hopefully I can count on you kind and generous people to help out 🙂


Well that’s the scoop folks. You could say I have my work cut out for me.

Five for the Fifth: JANUARY 2017 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Well HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! (I think you can still say this for at least another week 😉 ) Hope you had a great Christmas break. I barely had any vacation left but I did take the last Friday of the year off, and since Monday was a company holiday it was nice to get four days off. It ended up being a pretty productive time as we were able to binge on Westworld! So yeah we’re done with all of season 1 and boy that season finale is phenomenal!!


We got a free trial month subscription on HBO, but since we already got Netflix and Amazon Prime, we’re not gonna pay another $15 bucks to continue. But since we still have 3 weeks left, we’re hoping to catch up on season 1 of True Detective. We’re 2 episodes in so far and we loved it.

So did you binge on any TV show(s) this holiday season?  

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2. It seems easy to poke fun at the superhero genre. Veteran filmmaker Ridley Scott’s recently quoted as saying “Superhero movies are not my kind of thing — that’s why I’ve never really done one… [I’ve been asked] several times, but I can’t believe in the thin, gossamer tightrope of the non-reality of the situation of the superhero.” [per The Wrap] He went on to say, “I’ve done that kind of movie: ‘Blade Runner’ really is a comic strip when you think about it. It’s a dark story told in an unreal world. You could almost put Batman or Superman in that world, that atmosphere, except I’d have a f—ing good story, as opposed to no story!”

ridleyscott

No story. Ouch! Though it made me laugh when he said about the non-reality bit, I mean Alien and Prometheus aren’t exactly steeped in realism now are they? I agree BVS is shiat but he clearly hasn’t seen the Captain America trilogy.

Another slam to DC superhero universe comes from the Batman himself. It seems Ben Affleck isn’t too sure about directing the Batman films for DC. Asked by The Guardian about directing The Batman, he replied “That’s the idea. But it’s not a set thing and there’s no script. If it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great I’m not going to do it.” Heh, he certainly doesn’t sound like he’s clamoring to save the DC universe, does he?

Thoughts on Scott’s and Affleck’s comments?

3. After seeing Knight Of Cups, I felt inclined to just give up on Terence Malick altogether. I mean, a visual poetry should not be confused with feature films, and I bet even poetry has more to say than a film with no script. But dayum, does the guy knows how to get actors to star in his films, even despite not knowing if they’d actually end up in the final cut!

So apparently his latest film Song To Song (previously titled Weightless) is scheduled to be released in mid March. Here’s a first look image courtesy of Collider:

songtosong_still2

“In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress whom he ensnares (Natalie Portman) — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.”

I also found this image from IMDb … is Bale wearing the same black shirt from Knight of Cups??

songtosong_still2

The film also stars Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, Benicio Del Toro, Cate Blanchett, Haley Bennett, and a slew of music artists: Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Florence Welch of Florence And The Machine, and all of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Are you a Malick fan? Whether or not you are, thoughts on Song To Song?
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4. It’s just my luck that I always fall for actors whose work aren’t readily available in the US :\ I’ve been waiting for this BBC series for over a year now, and there’s barely any news on it! Well finally I got a glimpse of my darling Sam Riley on this BBC trailer…

RadioTimes also posted this article 17 TV dramas everyone will be talking about in 2017. Thrilled to see SS-GB on there. I’ve read the book, as I’ve mentioned about it here, and I knew Sam would be perfect in the role!


Based on the 1978 novel by Len Deighton, SS-GB is a dystopian thriller set in an alternative 1940s London, where the Germans have won the Battle of Britain, and the capital is under Nazi occupation. Sam Riley stars as Douglas Archer, a Scotland Yard detective who’s torn between co-operating with the SS or joining the resistance. He becomes embroiled in a sinister underworld while investigating what appears to be a simple black-market murder.

Joining Riley is Kate Bosworth, as American journalist Barbara Barga, who finds herself linked to the case Archer is working on. SS-GB is written by James Bond movie writers Robert Wade and Neal Purvis, and other cast members include Jason Flemyng, James Cosmo, Aneurin Barnard and Maeve Dermody.

What do you think of SS-GB? What new/returning show(s) are you most looking forward to in 2017?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Jordan from Epileptic Moondancer Blog! Well, given US/Russia relations seem to harken back to the Cold War era, his question is ever so timely.

I love cold-war era films, with that paranoia always in the background. Some of my favorite cold war era paranoia/thrillers are ‘The Conversation’, ‘Seconds’, and to a more obvious extent, stuff like ‘The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.’
Richard Burton in 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold'
Richard Burton in ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’

So what do you think is the best cold-war film that was made during the cold-war?


Well, that’s it for the JANUARY edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Take part by picking a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 

Bye bye 2016! End of year recap & musings on favorite things we saw this year

2016recap

Whaddayaknow… it’s the last day of 2016. It’s been a tumultuous year to say the least… definitely a hectic one for obituary writers. I know many people have said that 2016 is cursed because so many famous people died. Well I certainly don’t believe that. Yes, many of those celebs passed away too soon, and some might think it’s the most death we’ve had in the year, but no, I don’t think any particular year is ever cursed. Still, I am saddened by the death of those who’ve made an impact on me… the likes of Alan Rickman, Prince, Charmian Carr, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, and George Michael 😦

I guess I’m an optimist as I’d rather not dwell on the negatives and try to see the good side of things. There are things I’m thankful for, some I’ve mentioned here… I don’t know how much longer I’d keep on blogging but as of right now, I’m still thankful for being a part of the film blogging community and the fun & privileges it’s afforded me.

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Speaking of which, it’s as good a time as any to thank my fellow bloggers who’ve commented on my blog for their support…

Jordan, Cindy, Margaret, MarkMichael, Steven, CourtneyKeith, Brittani, Getter, Allie, Nostra, Tom, Chris E., Esther, Eddie, Dan, WendellVinnie, Jay/Sean and Katy.

I usually post my top 10 list of the year later in January, but I did make a top 10 list of favorites from the first half of 2016… out of that list, Love & Friendship and Captain Fantastic will likely be on my final top 10 BEST list. As for worst, well, I’ve been fortunate to avoid a bunch of stinkers this year, so right now I can only think of two abominables that deserve to be on my WORST list… London Has Fallen and Passengers.

Just for fun, I thought I’d do a top 10 random favorites from the past year, like I did for my 2014 Farewell post:

Favorite leading female performance: Amy Adams (Arrival)


Favorite supporting female performance:
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

Favorite leading male performance: tied – Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) & Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash)

Favorite supporting male performance: Mahersala Ali (Moonlight)

Favorite 2016 TV series: Westworld

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Favorite performance by kid actors (under 15): tied – the kids in Stranger Things & Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople)

Favorite film posters: La La Land


Favorite filmmaker discovery:
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Favorite talent(s) discovery: Ruth Negga (Loving) & Dominic Rains (Burn Country, Funeral Day)


Favorite director/writer duo
: Remy Auberjonois and Kate Nowlin for Blood Stripe

Favorite film setting: New Zealand in Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Favorite film/tv soundtrack: Sing Street and Westworld

Favorite cinematic crush: Sam Riley (natch!)

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Can’t wait to see BBC’s SS-GB and Free Fire next year!!


Now, I thought it’d be fun if this year I ask my blog contributors to do a brief recap of some of their favorites. I can’t thank them enough for being a part of my wee blog, so check out what they have to say…

Laura’s recap

I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to write for this blog. It’s been fun having an excuse to write (outside of my mostly-neglected personal blog), I’ve gotten to see movies I might not have chosen to go to otherwise, and it’s provided multiple cheap date nights. It’s also given me a few of my favorite movies for the year, from major blockbusters to indie films from up-and-coming talent.

  • Ouija 2: Origin of Evil. As a lot of my readers know, I love horror, and while I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one at all (because the first one was super boring), I was so pleasantly surprised when it turned out to actually be really good. It was legitimately scary, which hasn’t been the case with a lot of horror movies released over the past few years, and it was well-done overall, from the acting to the cinematography. Its score on Rotten Tomatoes was incredible, especially for a horror movie sequel, and it was well-earned.
  • The Eyes of My Mother. Keeping with the horror theme, this Twin Cities Film Fest submission was excellent. It was stylistic and unnerving and I could not believe that this was writer/director Nicolas Pesce’s first film, especially at the ridiculously young age of twenty-six. After such a strong beginning, I can’t wait to see more in what will hopefully be a long, illustrious career.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yes, I had issues with this movie. The writing could have been much better, especially from such a normally talented individual. But as a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I was still so happy to hear the first few notes of Hedwig’s Theme played over the WB logo, and getting to see all of these incredible creatures I’d been imagining since childhood so beautifully rendered on the big screen was so satisfying.

As for my favorite discovery, it’s definitely Nicolas Pesce, the writer/director of Eyes of my Mother. I was amazed that this was his debut as a filmmaker and especially blown away by how young he was to have such an incredible first movie. Considering how much I loved Eyes of My Mother, I can only imagine what else he’ll come up with as his (hopefully illustrious) career progresses.

Vince’s recap

Vince shared his top 5 films he saw in 2016:

  • Cleo from 5-7 (1962): I’m still mourning the absence of the Criterion Collection from HULU. This was one of the last I saw from Criterion that made me ask myself, “Why hadn’t I seen this before?” More engaging than the usual French new wave and a lot less pretentious in my opinion. A great intro to the work of Agnes Varda.
  • Arrival (2016): I was very impressed with this low-key gem. As a devout fan of Amy Adams (minus her forgettable Lois Lane roles) this did not disappoint. Already looking forward to Villeneuve’s Bladerunner sequel.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings (2016): I wrote a review of this earlier this year for Flixchatter and it gave me some hope for the state of animation for the coming year. Good story, some creative risk-taking and beautiful design are standards to live up to.

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  • Storm in a Teacup (1937): One of the few classics remaining in HULU, this one stars Vivien Leigh (who is gorgeous as usual) and a young Rex Harrison in an everyman role as an idealistic journalist meddling in small town politics. No Henry Higgins here but this light comedy has some things to offer in film world full of melodrama and skepticism.
  • Sing (2016): I screened this with my two young boys (courtesy of Flixchatter) and even though it is full of the usual song and dance populating most average animated films these days, they managed to do it right this time without the annoying shadow of American Idol or the Voice. Not too heavy but quite entertaining. My boys loved it. (Full review to follow)

Ted’s recap

2016 was kind of a disappointing year for me when it comes to entertainment. I love seeing big summer blockbuster films at the cinemas but for the first time in many years, I’ve skipped quite a few of them this past summer. With the exceptions of Captain America: Civil War, Jason Bourne and Star Trek: Beyond, I didn’t bother with other big summer releases. Thankfully those three big summer films were very entertaining to me. I hope next summer; Hollywood will release quality summer blockbusters instead of just lame sequels. I’m glad I saw a couple of smaller films at the theater that were quite good, Hell or High Water and Don’t Breathe came out of nowhere and were very successful with both critics and audiences.

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While the summer season was forgettable to me, the fall/winter movies were much better. I really enjoyed Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Sully and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I have yet to see my most anticipated movie of the year, Martin Scorsese’s Silence, I hope it won’t be a disappointment like this year has been so far.

Television shows have been quite good the last few years and with the popularity of Netflix original shows, I thought both DareDevil and Luke Cage were some of the best shows on TV this year. Another show on Netflix that I can’t get enough of is House of Cards, season 4 was an improvement because I was very disappointed with how season 3 turned out.

Blog Plans for 2017:

52FilmsByWomenWell, I made a pledge to watch 52 FILMS By Women, part of WomenInFilm.org but I’m about 10 films short, and that includes rewatches of films by women, i.e. Belle, Bride & Prejudice and You’ve Got Mail. So I definitely plan to watch more films written and/or directed by women in the new year and beyond!

I don’t know if I’ll participate in Blind Spot series again this year, but I might take part in Wandering Through The Shelves’ Thursday Movie Picks more often to give me a break from reviewing films. I also want to do more Music Break posts next year.


Well that’s FlixChatter’s year-end recap folks! Here’s to a more joyful, blessed & prosperous NEW YEAR… cinematically and otherwise.

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Merry Christmas! Five Favorite Christmas Moments in Movies

christmasmoments

It’s Christmas eve and my hubby and I just came back from spending one night in Duluth, which is a couple hours north of Twin Cities. We specifically went there to see Bentleyville right at Canal Park, the largest FREE Christmas lights display in the USA (perhaps even the world) where you could tour over 4 million lights in a 20-acre park along Lake Superior. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, they also gave away free cookies and hot chocolate. Bless Mr. Bentley and the town of Duluth for such an annual holiday treat!


Well, I thought I’d celebrate Christmas with a few of my favorite things. And y’all know I love movies so here are five of my favorite Christmas scenes over the years.

You gotta start w/ the classics… and It’s A Wonderful Life is definitely my favorite Christmas-themed film that can be appreciated any day of the year. It’s such a joyous and rousing finale, complete with the Christmas/New Year’s staple songs Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Auld Lang Syne. Is it any wonder people love returning to Bedford Falls at the end of every year?

Of course when it comes to the most romantic scene of Love, Actually, one would likely think of Andrew Lincoln’s ‘To me you are perfect’ declaration to Keira Knightley… but as far as the most memorable Christmas scene… it’d have to be this one. Not only did Olivia Olson have a glorious voice singing Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit, it’s also a sweet, romantic yet cheeky scene that makes this British ensemble holiday flick a joy to watch year after year.

A message of hope and peace doesn’t get more poignant than this one set during wartime. I’d say this is a film that should be a Christmas staple given the historical significance. Joyeux Noël is an underrated 2005 film about the World War I Christmas truce of December 1914, depicted through the eyes of French, British and German soldiers. Starting with the Scots with their bagpipes, all the way to the moment a German soldier singing Adeste Fideles holding a small Christmas tree, it’s hard not to tear up watching this amazing scene.

Christmas is also a pretty romantic time of the year. There’s something about the snow and twinkling lights that make you all warm and fuzzy. This scene from an unabashedly sweet rom-com While You Were Sleeping utilizes a Wintry Christmas scenery beautifully as the two leads first realize they have feelings for each other. Who doesn’t love Sandra Bullock, and though I don’t normally picture Bill Pullman as a go-to romantic lead, he’s got such an aw-shucks charm here that made me root for these two to be together.

Many of you already knew that I lost my mother when I was sixteen (on my 16th birthday to be exact). It’s been over two decades now but one never gets over such loss and it’s especially tough during the Christmas season. That’s why this scene in You’ve Got Mail gets me every time. Meg Ryan’s Kathleen is reminiscing on her late mother as she decorates her Christmas tree in her shop… wishing her mother were still alive to counsel her. “I’m missing her so much I almost couldn’t breathe…” It always hits me hard as growing up in Jakarta, my late mom and I always decorated our Christmas tree together every December… and I’ll cherish those wonderful memories forever.


Here’s wishing you all

a BLESSED & JOYFUL CHRISTMAS…

wherever you are.


Now that I’ve shared mine, what’s your favorite Christmas movie scene(s)? 
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Five for the Fifth: DECEMBER 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. We’re now on the last FFTF edition of 2016, wow! Well, just this past week, Netflix Offline was trending on Twitter and it was the biggest news on Flipboard that week. I actually haven’t been desperately wishing to download Netflix movies as even when I’m on the plane where there are no Internet, I usually just watch what’s available on the airline entertainment channel. But I could see that it’s a dream come true for many of you who’ve been wanting to watch movies anywhere on their smartphone or tablet offline. I’d also think it’d have greater appeal in international markets such as Africa and Asia, where internet service is less ubiquitous than it is in the United States.

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Now, not everything on its vast library is available to download, but surely all the Netflix Original series/movies would be available. Just don’t expect any of the Disney stuff to be downloadable anytime soon, or ever.

So which films or TV shows have you downloaded or planning on downloading straight away? 

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2. Boy, James Gunn has been quite busy lately. On top of working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, he actually had time to write the script of this action thriller. One commenter on Youtube dubbed ‘Office Space meets The Purge, yikes! The Belko Experiment isn’t exactly my cup of tea, despite the pretty good cast, but surely it’ll find an audience.

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Now, switching gear to the follow up to yet another reboot of a franchise nobody is really clamoring to see. I gotta admit though, the cast of Tom Cruise AND Russell Crowe, and the fact that Christopher McQuarrie directs it, intrigues me a bit. Behold the first trailer of The Mummy:

It might as well be titled Mission Impossible: Paranormal. Cruise is on the run once again with a pretty girl (half his age) in tow. But is Cruise the mummy?? He’s shown waking up on a morgue after a horrific plane crash with not a scratch on him! That would be a fun twist wouldn’t it? But what is Crowe supposed to be in this story?? Well I’m sure we’ll have more trailers until its June 2017 release.

Anyhoo, thoughts about either one of these trailers?

3. On Saturday mornings my hubby and I usually sleep in a bit and would watch some stuff on our iPad in bed. We ended up watching the entire episode of Variety’s Actors On Actors series featuring Taraji P. Henson and Ryan Reynolds. 

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It was really fun to watch these tête-à-têtes as various actors get candid about their struggles and triumphs in the business. There’s quite a lineup in this year’s series, so I plan on watching a bunch of them later.

Have you watched these? Which episode and/or actor pairings are your fave?
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4. Ok, for the fourth question, let’s discuss about cinematic discoveries. It’s up for debate whether 2016 has been a good or mediocre year for movies. But every year I’m always grateful for new talent discoveries… actors who either have been acting for a while (Mahershala Ali) or those who’ve made their debut (Julian Dennison).

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As you can see, I’m eternally grateful to Moonlight for introducing me to SO many great talents! I have to mention the trio of actors portraying the protagonist as well. I might do a full post on this topic later, but for now I’d like to know…

Who’s your favorite talent(s) you discovered in 2016?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Cindy from Cindy Bruchman’s Blog! It’s about a show on Netflix I’ve been curious about… and its leading man (Alexander Dreymon) sure looks very crush-worthy 😉

So here’s Cindy’s question:

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While a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m impressed with ‘The Last Kingdom.’ It simulates the historical culture of Britain circa 800 A.D., and I love the authentic touches of the filming, the plot, and the acting. It doesn’t have the magical realism of GoT, but I have to say I prefer it.

So have you seen “The Last Kingdom”? What do you like about and/or who’s your favorite character?


Well, that’s it for the DECEMBER edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Take part by picking a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 

Five Movies. Five Words – Vol. 5

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Well, it’s been more than a year since I did the last edition of Five Movies in Five Words. Seems that the only blog series I managed to keep up with is Five for the Fifth 🙂

I really should do this more often, maybe a few times a year, as it’s a fun challenge to capture the essence of a film, or whatever that comes to mind when I think of that film, in just a single word. As a general *rule* I’m picking films (old or new) I saw in the last few months that I haven’t had the chance to review yet.

So here we go:

The Eagle Huntress (2016)
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LION (2016)5movies_liontearjerking

Cairo Time (2009)
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The Shallows (2016)
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Allied (2016)
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Have you seen any of these? How would YOU describe them in one word?

A Thanksgiving Post: 24 cinematic things I’m thankful for in 2016

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To all my friends celebrating Thanksgiving today… I hope that you’re all enjoying yourselves, whether it’s time spent together with family/friends or just chillin’ with your loved ones (like my hubby and I). It’s nice to be able to sleep in today and going to dinner/movies later today. To those in other parts of the world, I bid you happy-almost-weekend day 🙂

This has been quite a tumultuous year to say the least… but I always try to focus on the positive side of things. As this is a film blog, I thought I’d take the time to express my gratitude for blogging/cinematic-related things I’ve been blessed with this year… so naturally I have to start with…

1. My blogging friends who’ve supported my blog and comment regularly… Jordan, Keith, Cindy, Steven, Michael, Margaret, Jenna/Allie, Courtney, Nostra, Dan, Jay/Sean, Brittani, etc.

2. Living in a city with not one but TWO robust film festivals… TCFF and MSPIFF!

3. Being a part of TCFF staff as the official blogger, which allows me to meet wonderful filmmakers and talents.

4. Discovering indie gems at film festivals (esp. Blood Stripe and Moonlight at TCFF, and Beeba Boys and The Fencer at MSPIFF)


5. The wonderful opportunity to meet Lea Thompson and director Jim Hemphill during the MN screening of The Trouble With The Truth.

6. Discovering awesome new actors I’d love to see more of (I’ll be blogging separately on this later next month), special shout out to Kate Nowlin & Dominic Rains!


7. Getting an interview with the composer of Age of Adaline, Rob Simonsen, one of my favorite soundtracks I recently discovered.

8. The breathtaking New Zealand scenery in one of my fave films of the year, Hunt For the Wilderpeople.

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9. The amazing trifecta performance from the actors portraying Chiron in Moonlight

10. Wonderful classic films like Casablanca, which I rewatched on Thanksgiving eve.

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11. Female filmmakers in Hollywood & beyond…  here’s hoping to see even more of them in years to come!

12. Amy Adams’ performance in Arrival

13. Sam Riley‘s wonderfully-amusing performance as Mr Colonel Darcy in Pride + Prejudice + Zombies

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14. Aneurin Barnard‘s soulful performance as Richard III in The White Queen miniseries (that spurred my obsession on the last Plantagenet King.

15. The delightful Love & Friendship & discovering the droll Tom Bennett as the scene-stealing Sir James Martin.

16. Awesome Marvel series on Netflix: Daredevil + Jessica Jones (hoping to catch Luke Cage soon!)

17. The Wonder Woman trailer… which I’m feverishly anticipating to see come Summer 2017!

18. The fun cast of The Magnificent Seven remake

19. The wonderful,  music of Sing Street… a love letter to the 80s and the power of music.

20. Viggo Mortensen‘s bravura performance in Captain Fantastic.

21. The arresting beauty of Jeff Nichols’ film LOVING, and the affecting performances of Ruth Negga + Joel Edgerton.

22. The wonderfully uplifting Queen Of Katwe, featuring wonderful performances of Lupita Nyong’O + David Oyelowo.

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23. The originality and thought-provoking concept of The Lobster

24. Last but not least… I’m thankful that I finished my script this year… plus having the opportunity to do a script reading later in January! 🙂

 


What are some of the things you are THANKFUL FOR this year?