Everybody’s Chattin + TV News Update: HBO’s Westworld & George RR Martin’s Wild Cards

EverybodysChattinAug

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are y’all watching the Olympics? I missed the opening ceremony so I only caught up w/ some clips on Flipboard. I did watch the Men’s 100m backstroke as Minnesotan David Plummer, a swim coach who’s perhaps one of the oldest at 30, won Bronze.  Woo hoo!

Well I’m super excited to see Anthropoid tomorrow. I’ve posted the trailer here and yesterday I read this awesome NY Mag article that the film shows how women helped defeat the Nazis.

Ok how about those links!

A couple of Suicide Squad-related posts: Margaret lamented on the lack of Jared Leto’s Joker’s scenes, among others, whilst Jordan actually had some praises for the movie.

Jia posted a Blindspot review on one of my favorite modern noir thrillers, L.A. Confidential

Jay reviewed a movie I missed at the theaters, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I can’t wait to rent as soon as it’s available.

I hadn’t reviewed Spielberg’s The BFG yet, but it seems Mark liked the movie more than I did, whilst Zöe pretty much agreed with me in regards to Jason Bourne.

I enjoy reading ranking lists! Keith just ranked the Marvel movies from worst to first ( I LOVE his #1 pick!)

This is a movie which trailer intrigued me… Dan reviewed Indignation

Last but not least, Cindy shared some great book recommendations.


Ok, we’ve still got a couple of months to wait yet for this upcoming series, but man, everything about this upcoming series looks really good!

WestworldHBO

A series inspired by the 1973 film of the same title written by Michael Crichton about a futuristic theme park populated by artificial beings.

Now, I’ve never seen the original series with Yul Brynner, but the idea of a western sci-fi instantly intrigues me. Ok now it doesn’t always work, as in the case of Cowboys & Aliens, but we’ve got quite a pedigree in terms of its creator.

I love that it’s a husband/wife team behind this series remake: Jonathan Nolan and fellow screenwriter Lisa Joy Nolan. Oh, and JJ Abrams also serves as executive producer along with the Nolans. Check out the trailer:

Here’s just a sampling of the impressive ensemble cast:

  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Ed Harris
  • Evan Rachel Wood
  • James Marsden
  • Thandie Newton
  • Jeffrey Wright
  • Tessa Thompson
  • Shannon Woodward
  • Ben Barnes

The 10-episode season 1 will premiere on HBO on Sunday, October 2 at 9 p.m. I can hardly wait!
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As Game of Thrones‘ fans are waiting for season 7 with bated breath, its author George R.R. Martin has long set his sights elsewhere. He just may have another sprawling fantasy world on television, according to Variety.

GeorgeRRMartin_WildCards

Universal Cable (same studio behind Mr. Robot that I’m currently watching) has purchased the rights for Martin’s work. The first volume in the book series was published in 1986, with 22 volumes released to date.

Here’s the premise:

“…the shared world of the Wild Cards diverged from our own on September 15, 1946 when an alien virus was released in the skies over Manhattan, and spread across an unsuspecting Earth. Of those infected, 90% died horribly, drawing the black queen, 9% were twisted and deformed into jokers, while a lucky 1% became blessed with extraordinary and unpredictable powers and became aces. The world was never the same.”

I quite like the sound of this, so I’ll keep an eye on this project. Surely plenty of actors are salivating to be cast in this.

 


What are your thoughts about these TV projects?

FlixChatter Review: Café Society (2016)

GuestPost_VinceCafeSociety

Café Society is director Woody Allen’s latest film about old Hollywood – or sort of. Set during its golden age (30s, 40s), its main protagonist is Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), a naïve young New Yorker looking to make his way by moving to Hollywood to work under his uncle Phil (Steve Carell in a wooden performance), a high powered Hollywood agent.

Leaving a loving Jewish family in New York, which includes his mother Rose (an excellent Jeannie Berlin) and a gangster older brother (Corey Stoll), Bobby arrives in LA, and taken under his uncle’s wing. To help him get acclimated to his new surroundings, Phil tasks ‘Vronny’, his secretary (Kristen Stewart) to show him the sights. Before long, a romance ensues and some rather complicated triangles come into play.


Café Society
is watchable at best, with Vittorio Storaro’s gorgeous photography, its glamorous ensemble cast (Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Sheryl Lee) and Allen’s trademark impeccable pacing. However, the cast is mostly sidelined to the rafters.

Aiming seemingly for that classic, light, airy romantic comedy – the likes of Twentieth Century (1934), but without it’s creative punch and slapstick. It’s peppered with cynicism throughout, perhaps to intrigue a moviegoer discussion into the imagined realities of love and romance in the Hollywood jet-set. But it all feels a bit hollow and ultimately, forgettable.

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Perhaps Allen’s point is to stress the emptiness of the rich Hollywood life, but it’s hard to care for any of the main characters who don’t evolve much. It does feel a bit like Allen doing a monologue on Hollywood, love and death to himself. But that in itself, unfortunately, does not make a great, or even a good film.

The one redeeming quality about the film are the scenes with Bobby’s immediate family, which were too few and far in between. The family dynamic offered the most effective comedy throughout and reminded me bits and pieces of 1987’s award winning Moonstruck.

In the end, the Dofmans were the only characters I could sympathize with. And by film’s end, Bobby was most definitely not even a part of them at all.

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So what do you think of Café Society? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

SuicideSquadLogo

Not every year we get not one but two highly-anticipated DC superhero films where the hype is simply overwhelming. I personally have not been anticipating either movies, and I tried with all my might to avoid watching every damn clip/trailer/featurette, etc the studio releases practically every single week. Well, you already know how I feel about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and now we’ve got the DC ensemble cast about supervillains instead of superheroes.

Now, it certainly helps if you have seen BVS, as this film starts out in the aftermath of that film. “What if the next Superman is a terrorist?” intelligence operative Amanda Waller (the always solid Viola Davis) asks a team of officers and general. She argues that mere mortals won’t stand a chance against such formidable foe, so she assembles a team of incarcerated supervillains and send them off on a deadly black ops mission in exchange for clemency.

SuicideSquad_ViolaDavis SuicideSquad_team

The first act of the movie pretty much consist of character introduction: hitman Deadshot (Will Smith), deranged former psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Aussie thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), pyrokinetic former gangster Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and monstrous cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). They’re to be placed under the command of Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), whose girlfriend June Moore (Cara Delevingne) is actually possessed by a witch known as “Enchantress.” If you think that’s already impossible to keep track, we’ve also got Flag’s bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and of course, one of the most [over]-hyped character of the year, The Joker, played by recent Oscar winner Jared Leto. Now, as tedious as the intros may be, it does help someone like me who isn’t familiar with the comics to figure out just who the heck everybody is.

SuicideSquad_Deadshot_Harley

Though billed as an ensemble cast, the two leads of the film are actually Will Smith and Margot Robbie. The rest are pretty much relegated to supporting roles, with the Joker’s role ends up being nothing more than a glorified cameo. Even as I’m watching the movie, I could just feel the wrath of the Joker’s (or Leto’s) fans seeing how little his screentime is. Now Batman is barely shown here but that’s understandable as this is a movie about the villains. It seems a ton of Leto’s scenes has ended up in the cutting room floor.

Now I wonder if the filmmaker thought that the Joker is such an an overpowering figure that he easily steals the spotlight from everyone else. The longer he’s on screen, the film might no longer be about the Squad, but more about the iconic DC villain. Even the scarce number of scenes between him and his lover Harley (a case of doctor/patient relationship gone terribly wrong) is no doubt one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. I think from those deleted scenes they could probably create a Harley & Joker movie that would likely be a massive hit.

SuicideSquad_Harley_Joker

For a movie built on ‘it’s good to be bad’ principle, I expect a lot of fun with the characters. Well, there were some amusing scenes and some that made me laugh, but overall it’s not that joyful of a ride after all. First of all, none of these supervillains are really that bad in this movie. Heck even one of them didn’t want to perform his abilities because he’s developed um, a conscience. Then there’s the drab and dour look of the movie popularized by DC’s purported *savior* Zack Snyder. Director David Ayer pretty much adopts a similar style, with occasional garish, candy-colored color-scheme in some scenes. Oh and there’s sheer lack of originality in the music department too, pretty much copying Guardians of the Galaxy in its overuse of pop music. Heck they even used the exact same song Spirit in the Sky! At least in Guardians, the music is actually part of the plot involving the lead character, but here it’s just used haphazardly seemingly just to fill up dead space.

That said, I was actually surprised that I wasn’t bored watching the movie despite its 123-minute running time. I guess that would be the one pleasant surprise about this, oh and the fact that there weren’t as many cringe-inducing scenes as BVS. Unfortunately, the more I think about this movie, the less positive I feel about it.

As for the performances, I was quite surprised that I didn’t mind Smith here despite my growing apathy towards him (interestingly enough I also quite like him in Concussion). Courtney didn’t irritate me as he usually did in other roles, and Kinnaman is pretty good despite being a rather vanilla character. It should be no surprise to anyone that the scene-stealer here is Robbie. The Aussie actress is on the brink of overexposure these days as she seems to be everywhere. But she does have talent and personality that matches her beauty.

SuicideSquad_LetoJoker

Her Harley Quinn is fun to watch when she’s bad, but she also has a certain vulnerability that she lets out when there’s no one around. Now, Leto’s Joker didn’t really wow me. He’s nowhere as phenomenal as Heath Ledger in the role, but I think that’s unfair to expect him to be, simply because the two Joker characters are quite different. Ledger’s more of a sadistic psychopath who in Nolan’s version ‘just wants to see the world burns.’ Leto’s version is a deranged maniac, more of a warped prankster than merciless criminal mastermind. For one, I can’t imagine Ledger’s Joker to ever be in a relationship with any human being, romantic or otherwise.

The third act of the movie is the most problematic. It’s ironic that in a movie about bad guys, the actual villain is irritatingly absurd. Whilst the enchantress starts out rather intriguing, it seems to have gotten more ridiculous as the movie goes on. Nary of a compelling backstory, this diminutive witch spews out an army of blob-headed creatures that are so gross to look at. The finale looks as if Warner Bros and Sony are sharing the same SFX department to create the effects as it looks so similar to the one in Ghostbusters! Just like Man of Steel and BVS, once again the final battle is nothing more than a mind-numbingly loud and bombastic CGI fest.

SuicideSquad_enchantress

Plagued by multiple reshoots, perhaps the movie was doomed from the start. As the writer and director of the movie, it was risky for WB to hire David Ayer, known for modest-budgeted, gritty crime dramas who has never done a blockbuster film. Now, hiring filmmakers with indie-cred can pay off (as in the case of the Russo Brothers for Marvel), but I don’t think it pays off as well here. I wouldn’t call Suicide Squad a huge mess, and it truly IS better than BVS, but really that’s not saying much.

But I think the most disappointing part is that for a movie that strives so hard to be different, the result is pretty much more of the same as the previous DC movies. Though I’m glad I did see it so I can judge it for myself, it’s not something I’m keen on watching again anytime soon. This one makes me dread the other DC ensemble movie Justice League even more, once again promoted in the post-credit scene featuring Bruce Wayne. I have said in the past that I’m more of a DC than Marvel fan, but sadly DC still has SO much catching up to do to match its arch rival.

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So what do YOU think of Suicide Squad?

Five for the Fifth: AUGUST 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. I’ve been excited about Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK for some time and the teaser couldn’t have arrived at a better time… that is as I’m prepping my FFTF post🙂

DunkirkTeaser

I think most of you already knows what this is about. Now, I’m not always into war movies, mostly because it tends to be way too violent. But man, this looks so darn epic and with Nolan at the helm filming this on 70mm, I’m SO THERE!

Behold its epicness…

The cast is pretty amazing, some of which have been in Nolan’s previous movies… Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh… AND my new Welsh crush Aneurin Barnard!! One thing I wish Nolan hadn’t done is hire that kid from One Direction as I guarantee there’s gonna be a bunch of teenybopers swarming this just to get a glimpse of him. I mean I can’t even google this movie without seeing his face! In any case, we still have a year to wait for this as Dunkirk isn’t released until July 2017!

LovingVincent

Now, this one apparently has been released for some time but I had just seen it for the first time thanks to my daily lunch-hour reading of BBC news, I found it in the culture section. It’s the world’s first feature-length painted animation!

Per its official site, Loving Vincent features over one hundred and twenty of Vincent Van Gogh’s greatest paintings. The plot, drawn from the 800 letters written by the painter himself, lead us to the significant people and events in the time leading up to his unexpected death. Every frame in the Loving Vincent movie is an oil painting on canvas, using the very same technique in which Vincent himself painted. Check out the amazing trailer, I sure hope it’ll get a decent release worldwide.

Thoughts on either one of these projects? 

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2. This week we also got a first look at romance war drama ALLIED. I didn’t even know is in the works but hey, anything with miss Cottilard gets my attention!
allied-first-look
The synopsis per IMDb:

Allied takes place in 1942. Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) are undercover allies who begin to fall for each other. Max is a British intelligence officer sent to Casablanca to plan an assassination attempt. He works with Marianne, a French Resistance fighter who goes undercover as his wife.

I kind of like the pairing of Cotillard and Pitt, and Pitt actually looks decent without all the weird facial hair he’s been supporting for a while. This film seems so under the radar despite the cast though, I mean I haven’t heard a peep and no trailer yet even though the release date is November of this year.

The rest of the cast include Matthew Goode (yay!), Lizzy Caplan, and Jared Harris. The director is Robert Zemeckis whose last two features, Flight and The Walk, I haven’t seen yet.

Are you excited for this one?

3. Speaking of trailers… ahhh what we’d do for our movie crushes [sigh] I followed this twitter account for trailer updates and it says there’s supposed to be a trailer for Ben Wheatley’s FREE FIRE attached to Star Trek Beyond. So naturally I was super excited and while initially I was fine waiting a week or two to see it, I immediately booked Friday night showing. As you know, my dahling Sam Riley is in Free Fire, though he’s probably only gonna be in the trailer for all but 5 seconds. But no matter, that’s enough to persuade me to actually see a movie on the big screen. Alas, the trailer was NOT shown at STB :( There were more than a half dozen trailers in front of it but none of it was Free Fire! Suffice to say I’m no longer following that trailer account. Heh, I wish I lived in London!!!

I’m curious, have you ever been compelled to see a movie on the big screen because a certain trailer is attached to it? 
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4. Ok this question is inspired by this weekend’s release of Suicide Squad. I’ll be writing the review this weekend but for now I can say that I enjoyed it, definitely not as bad as what the critics made it out to be.

It’s no surprise DC fans are up in arms about the negative reviews. Heh, every day there’s always news about people getting angry about the most trivial things. This time the subject of DC fans’ wrath is the Rotten Tomatoes site:

Actually, last time I checked the petition‘s got 18,495 supporters. The guy who started the Change.org petition wrote: “We need this site to be shut down because critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust, bad reviews. And that affects people’s opinion even if it’s a really great movie,”

SuicideSquadRT

RT score as of 10pm US Central Time

Now, I don’t really trust these critics aggregator sites anyway, because their algorithm is just baffling to me. Sometimes I’d click a rotten review that actually gives a movie 3/5, now I wouldn’t exactly categorize that as rotten. I’d think 3/5 is average and even 2.5/5 is below average, so not exactly in the horrible category. But to think that they’re biased against a certain film company is just absurd. Ok so I was left scratching my head that Age of Ultron got 75% fresh rating. I think that bloated movie is a big fat meh, not to mention the cringe-inducing Hulk/Black Widow *romance.* But I think it was still better than Batman V Superman, which got 27%, the exact RT score of Suicide Squad right now. If that’s the final score I think people are gonna think it’s a giant conspiracy, ahah.

What do you think about this supposed Marvel vs. DC *bias* and/or your thoughts about film critics site in general?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Ian from Ian the Cool Blog! He actually left a comment on my review of The Secret Life of Pets and it’s a great question that I asked him if it’s ok that I included it here. Here it is in his own words:

You confirm a lot of what I’m hearing, that [the movie] is really unoriginal and we’ve seen it all before. I guess the question is, does that matter for a kids movie? Kids won’t know its being unoriginal, because they don’t have the same film background we do. They will care about having funny characters they care about. Then again, should family movies have the bar set lower? When there are movies like Inside Out raising that bar, is the family argument an excuse anymore?

Well, what do you think? Should kids movies have the bar set lower compared to movies for adults?


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

FlixChatter Review: Jason Bourne (2016)

JasonBourne2016

As a fan of the Bourne trilogy, I was dismayed when in 2012, Universal went ahead with the sequel (Bourne Legacy) without Matt Damon. That fact perhaps made me more excited to see Damon teamed up again with director Paul Greengrass for a fifth (well, technically fourth) entry. I guess it’s inevitable that a franchise as lucrative as Bourne will keep on going and going like the Energizer bunny, it’s essentially the American version of James Bond.

This movie starts out about eight years after the events that took place in Bourne Ultimatum, where Bourne exposed CIA’s covert ops Blackfriar. As a result he’s been hiding out in Greece, and apparently does bare-knuckle boxing in his spare time. Whilst the previous three films followed Bourne on a journey to find out who he really is, this time around he’s aware of his identity. He knows his real name is David Webb and became the lethal assassin that is Jason Bourne when he joined Treadstone. But of course there are new revelations about his past that the CIA’s been keeping from him, and later we find out the matter is quite a personal one.
JasonBourne_JuliaStiles

Intense secrecy and not knowing who to trust is at the heart of any spy thriller and that’s the case here. There are obvious antagonists, CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and his henchman known only as The Asset (Vincent Cassel), but there’s Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) who heads the Cyber Ops Division who’s sort of in the gray area. On Bourne side is his longtime ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who risks herself retrieving classified files about Bourne’s late father.

Now, one major beef I have with this movie is how they handled Nicky. I feel that for someone who’s been with the franchise for that long, the writers (Greengrass & Christopher Rouse) should’ve given her a much better character arc. Heck, I’d love to see just a bit of background to her character that would at least explain why she’s loyal to Bourne. I mean, they did so with The Asset, which explains his personal vendetta against Bourne. At the very least, why not give her the same courtesy?

JasonBourne_Cassel

But what I did like is that like in previous films, Bourne is given an adversary worthy of his prowess. Jones’ Dewey is ruthless in his pursuit to eliminate him and Cassel is one menacing guy who makes The Asset a formidable foe for Bourne. Dewey’s ruthlessness isn’t just concerning Bourne, but the fact that he’s willing to sacrifice his own people, as well as civilians at large, in order to fulfill his purposes. The film also delves into the state of current tech and geopolitical climate and woven it into the plot. Things like privacy, hacking, the political instability in Greece, etc. are certainly timely things we deal with in our world today. So the subplot involving a social media program called Deep Dream is pretty relevant, and British actor Riz Ahmed is quite memorable here playing its founder.

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The movie is basically a giant chase scene. There’s not much breathing room because of the way Greengrass shot every scene. Even the mundane office scenes are shot in a frenetic style with hand-held camera that gave me a bit of a headache at first. But thankfully after a while I was able to overcome it and it didn’t bother me as much, though I still think it’s a bit excessive.

Going into a Bourne movie, of course you expect a ton of exhilarating action sequences, and this movie delivered! The motorcycle scene through narrow streets, scaling up and down steps through a Greek city gives you such a huge adrenaline rush. But that’s nothing compared to the crazy car chase in the Vegas strip involving a SWAT truck plowing through a bunch of cars. It certainly isn’t aiming for realism, but boy was it fun! Apparently the sequence took five weeks to shoot and ended up wrecking 170 cars.

JasonBourneVegasChase

Those wanting to see hand-to-hand combat won’t be disappointed though. There’s an extended scene of Bourne vs. The Asset that’s pretty darn intense. I noticed there’s no music going on during that scene, only the sound of bone crunching and flesh tearing to enhance the impact. Damon’s definitely still got it, Bourne is certainly one of my favorite roles of his. At 45 he’s looking more grizzled with bags under his eyes, but he pulls off the physically-demanding role once again. But of course like Bond, Bourne’s got stamina of super-heroic proportion and seems to be impervious to pain.

The finale suggests the strained relationship between Bourne & the Agency remains unchanged. Of course there wouldn’t be a Bourne franchise if the hero’s suddenly in good terms with a big, powerful organization notorious for overreaching its boundaries. Vikander acquits herself well here as the new face who might be present in future installments, and I have no problem with that.

JasonBourne_Vikander

I think there’s nostalgic elements here that affect my enjoyment. I love that the Moby song Extreme Ways is still used, it’s certainly the defining theme for the franchise. On the whole I think Jason Bourne is on par with the trilogy even if it isn’t as impactful. It could be because the mystery surrounding his identity is no longer there, which was the secret ingredient that makes Bourne’s journey so intriguing. That said, it’s certainly still an enjoyable action thriller because I’m a big fan of this character and Damon playing him. Unlike Bond though, it remains to be seen if this franchise can have as much longevity without Greengrass and Damon.

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Have you seen ‘Jason Bourne’? I’d love to hear what you think!

JULY 2016 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

July16Recap

I can’t believe I’m doing yet another monthly roundup. I swear I just did this not that long ago.

The last day of July also marks a milestone for me as I finally got to type those elusive two words at the bottom of my script!!!

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Now I’m going to lock it away for a month (an advice I took from a screenwriting site) before I tinker with it again… so no, I haven’t got to that coveted FINAL draft yet. But still, it took me nearly a year to finally get to this point so it’s quite exciting!

Well it turns out I did watch quite a bit of movies in July, both new-to-me and re-watches. August screenings include Suicide Squad, Florence Foster Jenkins, Pete’s Dragon, Anthropoid and The Light Between Oceans. Still hoping to get a screener link of Equals, the romance sci-fi by Drake Doremus w/ Kristen Stewart & Nicholas Hoult, so hopefully I get that soon.

So anyway, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

13movie

13 (2011)

CaptFantasticCaptain Fantastic (2016) – review upcoming

AdventurerMidasBox

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013)

SecretLifePets

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters (2016)

STB

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

AbFabMovie

Absolutely Fabulous (2016)

JasonBourne

Jason Bourne (2016) – review upcoming

Laura

Laura (1944)

LifeMovie

Life (2015)


Look for my review of Jason Bourne and a guest review of Café Society sometime next week!


Blindspot Pick

Laura1944poster


 Rewatches

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Gladiator (2000) | Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (2016) | BBC’s Sense & Sensibility (2008)  | Superman Returns (2006) | Toy Story 3 (2010) | The Dark Valley (2014) | Becoming Jane (2007) | Working Girl (1988) | The Age of Adaline (2015)

I ended up re-watching a ton of movies this past month. Most of these are on Netflix and Amazon Prime, so I might as well watch them when they’re still available. Some of them I own the Blu-ray (PPZ, Toy Story 3, Superman Returns and BBC’s Sense & Sensibility) and you know my penchant for period dramas, naturally I have to watch a few every month😉

I hadn’t watched Working Girl for at least a decade and I have to say it’s definitely shown its age but it’s still pretty enjoyable. Boy whatever happened to Melanie Griffith? I mean Harrison Ford is definitely still relevant and so is Sigourney Weaver, heck even David Duchovny who’s only credited as a guy at a birthday party still has a pretty good career now.

I’m participating in Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur and the this month’s topic is Foreign Language so of course I’m picking one featuring Sam RileyDas Finstere Tal (The Dark Valley), so watch for my comprehensive review of that in the next few weeks.


 TV Series
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I’ve only gotten to two episodes of Season 1 but I enjoyed it so far. Julia Louis Dreyfuss is a hoot as the Veep herself Selina Meyer. I didn’t realize there are 5 seasons already but the good thing is it’s only a half-hour sit-com so it’s easier to catch up on.


MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

MoviesOfTheMonthJuly

It wasn’t as easy to select my movie of the month of July. But out of the contemporary films I saw last month, Captain Fantastic is one I still think about the most. I’m hoping to review it soon, but it’s certainly one of the most unique films ever and Viggo Mortensen is well, fantastic.

I’ve been wanting to watch Laura for a long time. My friend Vince reviewed it for me back in 2011 and he highly recommended it. It’s one of the most acclaimed classic noir mystery and was nominated for five Oscars. Well, it certainly lived up to the hype. I was quite mesmerized by the beautiful Gene Tierney.


Well that’s my viewing recap of July. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

FlixChatter Review – Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)

AbFabMovie

Absolutely Fabulous (AbFab for short) is one of the most popular British comedies in the early 90s. I’ve only watched it sporadically, but I love the wacky humor of the two champagne-loving, fashion-obsessed duo Edina/Eddie & Patsy. The comedic style is in the vein of Vicar of Dibley starring Dawn French, not surprisingly, the AbFab sitcom is based on the 1990 sketch comedy French & Saunders, the other half being Jennifer Saunders.

When I heard last year that the movie version in the works, my initial thought is how it’d translate on the big screen, especially the fact that it seems two decades too late. But y’know what, I was up for seeing the shenanigans of two BFFs Eddie (Saunders), a London PR exec, and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), a fashion magazine editor. Despite the fact that it’s inherently challenging to adapt a movie based on a half-hour sitcom, I was hopeful because Saunders wrote the script and Mandie Fletcher, who’s directed some episodes of the TV show and other British comedies, was at the helm. Unfortunately, the script just didn’t have a compelling enough story to justify this movie’s existence. It pays homage to the series, but the perhaps it’s more suitable as a one-hour holiday special.

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The script by Saunders just doesn’t have a compelling enough story to justify this movie’s existence. It’s perhaps more suitable for a one-hour holiday special. The premise of the movie revolves around the supposed demise of supermodel Kate Moss, and the movie relies on a whole bunch of celebrity cameos. Jon Hamm, Graham Norton, Stella McCartney, Jerry Hall are just some of the names I recognize. Hamm’s scene is funny but it’s already in the trailer, and the bits involving Jerry Hall is just so strange and not all all comedic. Dawn French also had a brief cameo, but I wish she had a bit more screen time. The funniest cameo for me is Rebel Wilson as the exceedingly-unhelpful flight attendant.


The two main characters are pretty much the same as in the sit-coms. They’re over-privileged, glitz-and-celebrity obsessed middle-aged women who absolutely refuse to grow up. On paper they’re hard to like but yet Saunders & Lumley have a certain eccentric charm about them that makes them so watchable. Interestingly, Eddie & Patsy’s self-delusion of grandeur and narcissism is pretty much a reflection of today’s selfie-obsessed culture. There’s some amusing moments about social media and people’s obsession with it. It’s even reflected in one of the many crazy outfits, such as the one worn by Eddie’s assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks), but the social commentary on it aren’t explored much here.

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I suppose it’s naive of me to expect some kind of depth and emotional resonance from an AbFab movie, but they could’ve deepen the characters or expand some of the themes a bit. Instead, all we get is one preposterous gag after another that produces less laughs as the movie goes on. The banter between Eddie and her responsible daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha) is one of the funniest bits in the TV series because they’re such polar opposites. In this movie, Saffy is divorcee with a teenage bi-racial daughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness) and there’s a weird joke about her ex being back in Africa that’s daft and tone deaf. The whole mother-daughter relationship between her and Lola is so half-baked and just plain awkward.

What still translates well on the big screen is the friendship between Eddie & Patsy, it’s truly the best thing about the movie. Saunders and Lumley look like they genuinely love spending time together and their rapport is both heartwarming and bizarrely-amusing. All the scenes of them being stupendously-drunk, irreverent, un-hinged self are still amusing, which is the reason why the movie is still not a complete bust. But of course that’s never enough to make a good movie, so I can’t say that I love the movie overall.

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I doubt non AbFab fans would get much out of this movie though. In fact I think they might get repulsed by all the excess and the über glamorous lifestyle and endless parties. I too find the setting in the French Riviera after the recent Nice attack quite unsettling. If you’re a big fan of the series, I suggest just wait for a rental.

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Have you seen ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’? Let me know what you think!

Everybody’s Chattin + Casting News w/ Idris Elba, Jessica Chastain & Jake Gyllenhaal

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Happy Thursday, everyone! The nice thing about going to a work conference on Monday & Tuesday is the week feels shorter than it is, so tomorrow is Friday already, yay!

I got to see Jason Bourne press screening last Tuesday. I enjoyed it quite a bit though I think it falls short of the excellent trilogy. I’ll review it next week but I’m still a bit giddy for THIS scene in Vegas, whoah!

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Ok how about those links!

I’ll be seeing Suicide Squad next Tuesday, and Harley Quinn is likely going to steal every scene. Check out Margaret‘s tribute for Margot Robbie‘s character.

Jordan reviewed a new Aussie Western Goldstone

Boy I had no idea this movie even existed! Allie talks about Star Wars Holiday Special as part of Christmas-In-July blogathon

Mark and Getter‘s reviewed Independence Day: Resurgence. Not surprisingly, neither was impressed with this movie though I was surprised to learn Getter actually think Liam Hemsworth was good in it

Having just seen Jason Bourne, I totally agree with Nick that the Bourne movies are equally defined by the obligatory government antagonist. Check out the five actors he’d like to see in the role.

Steven reviewed Richard Linklater’s latest Everybody Want Some!

Let’s top it off with two awesome list posts! Alex posted his top 10 films of 2016 so far, whilst Dan posted his picks of 10 favorite French rom-coms of the 21st century.


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Life must be good to be Jessica Chastain. I love her, she’s gorgeous, talented and a bit underrated. Glad to see her continue getting roles and man does she have the best male co-stars or what! Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac… just to name a few, and now Idris!!! [yes clearly I’m green w/ envy] I’d LOVE to see her co-star with my crush du jour Sam Riley one day😛

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Per The Playlist, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is going to have his directorial debut and he’ll also write the screenplay. His film is titled Molly’s Game and Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba have been cast as the leads!

Molly’s Game is the true story of Molly Bloom (Chastain), a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally is her criminal defense lawyer (Elba), who learns that there’s much more to Molly than the tabloids lead us to believe.

I really like the sound of this! Chastain and Elba such talented actors and it’s a role that would suit them both. No talks of romance between the two but that’s actually refreshing! Though the idea of a love scene between the two sounds pretty scorching ;) I just hope they won’t ever hide that gorgeous face of his under a ton of makeup like they did in Thor or Star Trek Beyond.

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Now this one doesn’t seem exciting on paper as I don’t really care for video game movies. But with this cast it just could be watchable. Per Variety, Jake Gyllenhaal is producing a video game adaptation based on Ubisoft’s The Division.

Set in a dystopian New York City in the aftermath of a smallpox pandemic, the player is an agent of the Strategic Homeland Division. That agent is tasked with helping to rebuild the Division’s operations in Manhattan, investigating the nature of the outbreak and combating criminal activity in its wake.

Not sure which roles Jessica Chastain will be playing. Of course it’d be neat if Jessica is the agent and Jake plays her ally, or villain? Speaking of video game movies, we have Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender out in December and Tom Hardy’s Splinter Cell out next year. It remains to be seen if any of those would actually be worth watching.


What are your thoughts about the projects and/or casting news?

FlixChatter Double Reviews: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

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Ted’s Review

I don’t consider myself a Trekkie, I’ve seen all of the Star Trek films but never got into any of the TV shows. I enjoyed the first two films by JJ Abrams, even the much-maligned Into Darkness. When Abrams decided to jump ship and take over the other space adventure franchise, Justin Lin was hired to direct this third sequel. Lin made his name by retooling the Fast & Furious franchise and those films made millions. Personally I thought he’s an odd choice to take over a sci-fi franchise but thankfully he delivered one of the most enjoyable Summer films I’ve seen so far.

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Three years into their five-year mission, the enterprise crew is feeling the grind of their routine space work. As the film opens, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is giving back an artifact to a group of alien creatures but it didn’t turn out well as he’d hoped. Later the crews are heading to a new advance space station to get some R & R. While stationing at the new space station, Kirk received a new job offer and contemplating leaving the Enterprise. Before he can decide to accept the new job offer though, there was a stress call from a lone survivor who needs help. Kirk and his crew set out to rescue more lives from danger but as they approach their destination, it turns out to be a trap. In a pretty spectacular sequence, a group of aliens with advance spaceships attacked the Enterprise and broke the ship into pieces. The ship crashed landed on an isolated planet and the crew got separated. Kirk must find his friends and also figure out who these aliens are and their purpose for attacking the Enterprise.
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The script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung is pretty simple, maybe too simple for my liking. The premise is basically search and rescue and lots and lots of action. But they were able to throw in a lot of funny dialogs and lighten up the mood of the film quite a bit. Speaking of action, Lin definitely delivered on that front. The space battles were well-staged and very exciting to watch. If there’s a theater near you that has Dolby Atmos surround sound, I highly recommend you see it there. Lin also was able to move the film along at a brisk pace, never linger on any subplots that might slow the story down.

One minor complaint I have is the way he shot the climatic showdown between Kirk and the main villain. He moved the cameras way too much and I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought Abrams did a much better job in a similar scene for Into Darkness when Spock and Kahn had their showdown.

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Performances by the actors were great, since this is their third outing, I thought all of the actors look comfortable in their respective roles. Since plot have them separated from each other, many of them got equal screen time. The best pairing to me has to be Spock and Bones, their bickering were fun to watch and the two actors have good chemistry. The weakest link here though is Idris Elba’s villain Krall. He’s yet another one -dimensional evil character whose purpose is vengeance against Starfleet. Elba didn’t have much to do except scream and spouting clichéd evil dialog.

It may not be the best film in the franchise but definitely an upgrade over the too serious Into Darkness. The film contains great action sequences and a touching tribute to the two deceased actors. I’m not a trekkie but I thought this one can be considered one of the best in the franchise.

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Ruth’s Review

I wasn’t going to review this one, but seeing that I have quite a different reaction than Ted, I thought I’d post my thoughts on it as well.

Like Ted, I’m not a Trekkie either, but JJ Abrams actually managed to make me interested in the Star Trek Universe with the first film. I also enjoyed the second installment Star Trek Into Darkness that Abrams also directed, and I really dug Benedict Cumberbatch’s villainous turn as Khan. I said in that post that it was a huge improvement over Eric Bana’s role in the first film. Well, unfortunately in this third installment we’re back to another clichéd, one-dimensional villain in Idris Elba‘s Krall, as Ted has pointed out above. It’s a travesty that when they hide incredibly good looking, massively talented actors under such heavy makeup and give them banal dialog on top of it.

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It’s no fault of the insanely-charismatic Elba that Krall is such a terrible villain. But he’s so terribly-written it made me cringe. But interestingly enough, the one person I thought would be cringe-worthy turns out to be quite okay. I’m referring to Sofia Boutella‘s Jaylah (who I initially thought was Rihanna), a scavenger who rescued Scotty (Simon Pegg) and took him to her home. Her house turns out to be an early generation Starfleet vessel USS Franklin, and she needs Scotty to help her fix it.

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The moments between Jaylah and Scotty are pretty fun. I quite like Jaylah, and she’s given a pretty decent character arc. The movie’s best moments to me are in the the dueling banters, whether it’s Scotty & Jaylah, or Bones & Spock. Karl Urban‘s grumpy-ness is so endearing and he’s got as good chemistry with Chris Pine as he does with Zachary Quinto. The film did boldly go where no previous Star Trek film has gone before in making Sulu (John Cho) gay, though it only amounts to barely a minute of screen time showing him with his husband and young daughter.

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Unlike Ted though, I’m not too crazy about the frenetic action sequences. I find it to be too dizzying and goes on far too long. It seems endless to me that my mind started to wander and it actually took me out of the movie. I don’t remember feeling this way in previous Star Trek films, but this one has so much combat scenes and explosions, even the USS Enterprise was blown to bits. There’s also a ton of chase sequences, so I guess I could see why they hire Justin Lin for this movie. During one of the many extended action sequences, I whispered to my husband that this is basically Fast & Furious in Space! The one part I did enjoy was towards the end when they used loud rock music as a countermeasure against the tiny ships ‘swarm’ controlled by Krall.

I guess this movie would satisfy action fans. But for me, I expect Star Trek to be a space adventure drama, more about Starfleet’s journey and the relationships of its crew members. The film touched upon that in Capt. Kirk’s opening monologue, but that’s pretty much it. I guess there’s not much room for characterization amidst the dizzying action, apart from a few fun banters here and there. Even the quiet moments of Spock mourning the passing of Ambassador Spock doesn’t elicit much emotion as it should’ve been. It did pain me every time I saw Chekov on screen though, I still can’t believe Anton Yelchin‘s gone.

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So despite some fun moments, overall it’s just hard for me to feel invested in Kirk & co.’s journey this time around. The faster the chase scene the more tedious it becomes for me. Perhaps the movie’s aimlessness has been hinted in the intro voice over of Captain Kirk… “As for me, things have started to feel a little episodic. The farther out we go, the more I find myself wondering what it is we are trying to accomplish” Yep, that’s how I feel as the audience too, Cap. The ending also feels a little too neat, resolved perfectly just in time for yet another episode (read: sequels) in a not too distant future. Not sure I’m too excited for future Star Trek movies after this one.

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So what did YOU think about ‘Star Trek Beyond’? 

Weekend Roundup: FlixChatter on BTR radio & Trailer highlights from SDCC – Wonder Woman, King Arthur & Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

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Happy Sunday everybody!

How’s your weekend? Mine is quite a busy one. I went to see Star Trek Beyond Friday night (review coming soon) and spent most of the day at the grand opening of the new Vikings stadium (US BANK stadium) in downtown Minneapolis.

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Hey I’m on the radio!😀

Earlier this month I had a chat with BreakThrough (BTR) Radio host Taia Handlin who runs the Biology of the Blog podcast. It was an honor & privilege to talk about the origins of my blog and my passion for movies in general. So hope you take a listen…


comiccon_logoOk, I thought I’d post about a few highlights from San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. I can’t believe it’s been five years since I was at SDCC! I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get tickets to go there, nor do I have the energy to wait in line for hours again. Well I’ll always have the fun memory of being in Hall H!

I was pretty much blissfully ignorant to all the updates most of the weekend until late Saturday night when I watched some of the trailers.

Well, the two I posted here are two of the movies I most look forward to in 2017. I actually saw the Justice League trailer first but honestly it doesn’t change my mind from my ‘meh’ sentiment about it. It looks humorous but given Zack Snyder directing, can’t say I’m optimistic.

THIS trailer however, still gets me excited!

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Gal Gadot‘s Wonder Woman is one of the few best thing about Batman V Superman, and goodness it’s about time we see a feature film showcasing a bad-ass female superhero!!

Yes I realize that despite having a female director Patty Jenkins at the helm, we’ve got four male writers (including Zack Snyder, yikes!) But I’m hoping they’d do the Amazon princess’ story justice. I LOVE that the film is a period piece set in 1920s, and this is an origin story I don’t mind seeing. We’ve got a glimpse of Themyscria, home of the Amazons. Oh and Chris Pine as the human boyfriend… interesting that the trailer debuts the same weekend as Star Trek Beyond.


Nice to see Connie Nielsen as Diana’s mother, been too long since she had a prominent role since Gladiator. Oh and speaking of bad ass women, Robin Wright as an Amazonian army general, yes please! The trailer ends in a comedic note, which I take it as a good thing as superhero movies ought to have a sense of humor.


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I know it’s all about superhero and comic-book movies at SDCC, but I’ve been looking forward to Guy Ritchie‘s take on the often-told King Arthur adaptation. Well, this medieval king is more ‘street’ than any other ones we’ve seen before and y’know what, I think it looks like fun! This is a mythological figure that’s been done to death on screen, so I welcome an unconventional, edgier version. I gotta say I like the casting of Charlie Hunnam in the lead role, too.


One of the biggest announcements out of #MarvelSDCC has got to be THIS:

I have no clue who Captain Marvel is, but another female superhero? That’s always a good thing in my book and I think the lovely Brie is a fine choice! It seems Marvel is a bit behind in making a female heroine movie this time as DC’s already got Wonder Woman ready for battle next Summer. I thought that they’d spun-off Black Widow by now, alas…

The lovely Lupita Nyong’O tweeted this from SDCC… so much awesomeness in a single photo!

 


Well that’s my weekend recap folks. Thoughts on SDCC or anything you watched this weekend?