Happy almost Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.
The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… film adaptations.
Now, it’s not specified what sort of adaptations we’re supposed to pick. So I’ve decided to select a couple of different adaptations, from books and play/stage work. I was going to do one based on video games, but there isn’t really one I’d even recommend, ahah.
In any case, here are my three picks:
Little Women (2019)
Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms.
Ok so I have not read Louisa May Alcott‘s autobiographical novel, but based on this article, Greta Gerwig adds a simple twist to the story by imagining that Jo is actually the author of the novel Little Women. This transforms the story into one about creative passion and achievement, and in one stroke makes a classic feel fresh without betraying its essential nature.’
Now, I think the film itself has much to be admired. The performances, especially Saoirse Ronan as Jo is simply marvelous. Her passionate speech that ‘she’s so sick of people saying love is a woman is fit for’ is so emotional and indelible. It’s a film with an inspiring message for girls and women alike, and a good one for boys as well to serve as a reminder that the journey for women equality still continues. The production values, set pieces, costumes, cinematography and music are all excellent, so it’s definitely one of the best literary adaptations in recent memory.
Sense & Sensibility (1995)
After the death of Mr. Dashwood, the Dashwood family takes a step down in society and faces hardship as they are four women virtually penniless. Elinor and Marianne, two sisters with different perspectives on life and interests, keep one another in line and support one another through death, hardship, love, and friendship.
I can’t possibly have a list of literary adaptation and not mention a Jane Austen film, especially one of my all time favorites!
Confession: Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, but when it comes to Sense & Sensibility, I actually like the film version by Ang Lee a bit more than the book. Emma Thompson made some changes to the script, which won her an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, but she kept the essence of the story and its um, sensibilities.
In the book, there’s no Shakespeare connection between Willoughby and Marianne, thus no scene of Marianne crying in the rain, citing the poem as she looks upon Willoughy’s estate. But it’s no doubt one of the most emotional scenes of the film…
… and of course, who doesn’t love the heroic scene of Col. Brandon rescuing Marianne, which is another beautiful and emotional moment.
The casting alone is outstanding, particularly Emma Thompson herself as Elinor and Kate Winslet as Marianne (who’s far less irritating than how she’s portrayed in the book). Alan Rickman will forever be my favorite Austen hero despite being much older than what the character is supposed to be in the book.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Snobbish phonetics Professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make flower girl Eliza Doolittle presentable in high society.
So for the movie-based-on-a-play, I’d have to go with one of the first three films my late mother bought when I was in my early teens that introduced me to big Hollywood classics. The 1964 film was adapted from the Lerner and Loewe Broadway musical starring original Broadway and London shows starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, which was originally based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. It was quite a controversy that Audrey Hepburn was cast as Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who learns manners from a phonetics professor named Henry Higgins (Harrison).
I loved this movie and as someone still learning English at the time, it was a lot of fun watching Eliza trying to pronounce things properly. There are sooo many memorable scenes, the Ascot horse-race scene still makes me grin every time I remember it “Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ arse!” [tee-hee!] The eternally classy and elegant Hepburn is so marvelously convincing as someone from a lower class, and she’s got such a delightful chemistry with the pompous Prof. Higgins. Of course the music is absolutely wonderful. To this day, I’d still hum or sing the songs from time to time.
What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?
How’s your weekend everyone? Well, it’s another warm weekend so I spent most of Saturday outside w/ hubby. I had one press screening this week, Eye in the Sky, and thankfully it’s not another bomb like London Has Fallen.
It turns out to be a double Helen Mirren week with her latest film and one of the last three Sam Riley films I haven’t seen yet, Brighton Rock (2010). She had a pretty big part in the film and she’s wonderful as always. It’s gratifying to see him as the lead AND held his own against such a screen icon like Dame Mirren (review upcoming).
So here’s my reviews of the two I saw last week:
Col. Katherine Powell, a military officer in command of an operation to capture terrorists in Kenya, sees her mission escalate when a girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute over the implications of modern warfare.
This is the kind of film I’d watch just for the cast. The main cast is chock full of British thespians I love: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Jeremy Northam and Iain Glen.
My first thought when I saw the trailer: Oh Col Brandon & Mr Knightley in the same movie! Clearly I’m an #AustenAddict 😁
It turns out there’s more Austen connection as Colin ‘Mr Darcy’ Firth is listed as one of the producers! In any case, the film couldn’t be more different from a romantic period drama as it gets.
The film promos likens this to the nuclear war satire Dr Strangelove. Now, I wouldn’t say this has quite the impact of that masterpiece black comedy, but it certainly made us think about the cost of war in our times. With drone attacks becoming more prominent in recent years, and the fact that we can’t turn on the news and not hear about it, this topic is as timely as ever.
There are some genuinely tense moments in this cerebral thriller, and to use a military term, the ensemble cast fired on all cylinders and delivered a powerful performance. Dame Mirren is convincing as a conflicted military officer who had to navigate through such maddening protocols and bureaucracy in times of war. As the drone pilot, Aaron Paul perfectly conveyed his torment to balance his military duty and doing what is right. Glad to see Oscar nominee from Captain PhilipsBarkhad Abdi working again and though he didn’t have much lines here, the Somalian actor has quite a presence on screen.
The film is far from perfect though. The way the CDE (collateral damage estimate) factor is handled, involving a 9-year-old girl selling bread just outside the gate of the terrorist compound being targeted, feels repetitive. I feel like director Gavin Hood hits us over the head with it, as if the audience were to slow to get the moral/political implication of the drone attack if the girl became a casualty.
I’m not sure that Hood also nails the tonal shift between drama, action and humor as smoothly as he could, either. The biting satire he tried to emulate from Kubrick’s antiwar film seems lost and the film seemed to descend into a farce. Thankfully he had assembled a phenomenal cast who still made the film work.
Despite the flaws though, I still think Eye in the Sky is a provocative film that lingers long after the end credits. It’s worth a watch just for Mirren and Rickman alone. It was still tough to watch Mr. Rickman on screen in his last film role he’s completed. He certainly had the most memorable line in the end, the only way he could… “Never tell a soldier he did not know the cost of war.” The way he delivered that line sent shivers down my spine.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)
Still mourning the death of Li Mu Bai, Yu Shu Lien returns to safeguard his sword, the Green Legend. Hades Dai, an underground warlord, sends his lieutenants to steal the sword , with plans to dominate the martial world. A young mysterious swords-woman and the hero with a past, Silent Wolf , comes to Shu Lien’s aid, together with a disparate band of warriors who still believe in the iron way of honor.
This is the second movie to be released on Netflix at the same time as in theaters, just like Beast of No Nation. It premiered on Netflix two weeks ago but I hadn’t even seen its trailer. I also barely remember much about the first film, as this sequel is made 16 years after its release in 2001. I did remember that Michelle Yeoh‘s character Yu Shu Lien was in love with Chow Yun Fat‘s Li Mu Bai who died in the first film.
The legendary sword adorned with Jade gemstone once again is central in the story. Yu Shu Lien is tasked to guard it and it nearly cost her life when her carriage is attacked in the beginning of the film. The cinematography is absolutely striking from start to finish, just like The Assassin was from last year, but thankfully director Wo-Ping Yuen is not so indulgent in making the film more style over substance. Whereas that one seems too self-aware of its own beautiful imagery that it overpowers the story, this one actually serves the narrative well.
I like how progressive this film is in terms of its treatment of women. Not only is Michelle Yeoh‘s character is a powerful woman and fighter, Natasha Liu Bordizzo‘s Snow Vase also has an intriguing character arc that’s pretty gratifying all the way to the end. Yes perhaps some of the acting, by Bordizzo in her debut role, and Harry Shum Jr. as Wei Fang, seem a bit stiff at times, but overall I think they fit their characters pretty well. The hint of romance also didn’t make me cringe, which is always a plus. Jason Scott Lee as the villain overacted a bit, though the hammy acting style plague most of the supporting cast as well.
Unlike the first film that’s shot in Mandarin, the fact that this is an American-Chinese production, the film’s shot in English and later dubbed in Mandarin. So it’s a bit jarring to hear Chinese-looking actors (some look obviously of mixed-heritage) speaking in various English accent, some American, some British. So I think that sacrifices authenticity and is also a bit distracting. I don’t know if that might explain the low rating (18% on Rotten Tomatoes) compared to the first one (97% RT score), which benefited from Ang Lee’s superior direction.
It’s interesting to mention the Bruce Lee connection of the two main cast, as Jason Scott Lee played Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) and Donnie Yen played Bruce Lee’s master in the IP Man franchise. I wouldn’t let the low RT score discouraged you from seeing this though. Fans of martial arts films should be pleased with the Kung Fu action sequences. I ended up quite liking this, more so than The Assassin, even if it’s not perfect.
So did you see anything good this weekend? If you’ve seen any of these movies, I’m curious to hear what YOU think.
Happy Tuesday everybody! It’s a short week with the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, and thank God we got an extra day off in the coldest weekend of Minnesota Winter. Well I sure hope this is as cold as it gets, with temps reaching double digits BELOW ZERO. We barely made it to zero the past couple of days! But hey, it’s gonna be in the 20s tomorrow, heat wave! 😛
Well, since I haven’t been doing a Weekend Roundup post in a while, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been watching this weekend…
I’m not going to review Sicario as Ted has already done it here. But here’s my reaction:
Finally saw @SicarioMovie & my nerve’s stretched to its snapping point. Gripping from start to finish, wow!
I wish I had seen Sicario sooner, it’d surely make my top 10 list! Oh, and Benicio Del Toro was surely robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nomination!
Marie Antoinette was pretty interesting but it’s way too s-l-o-w and it felt so repetitive as for a while the film just didn’t go anywhere. It seems that Sofia Coppola is a hit and miss and this is certainly no Lost in Translation. I think I probably enjoyed it a bit more as I’m intrigued by French history but under a different director I think the film would’ve been a much better film.
Kirsten Dunst was surprisingly good in the title role though, and I did like the use of modern music in some of the scenes, but overall the movie is rather meh. Wish Stanley Weber had played Marie’s lover Count Axel Fersen instead of Jamie ‘Christian Grey’ Dornan. Stanley might still be in acting school back in 2006 but heck, I think he could still pull it off, I mean he IS French and quite a seductive one, I might add 😉
No doubt it was bittersweet watching Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon once again in Sense & Sensibility. I had to admit I teared up a bit when he showed up on screen for the first time… I wrote a tribute for him this weekend, I shall miss him dearly. As for 45 Years, it’s such a delicate and beautifully-told story that shows how delicate love truly is. Charlotte Rampling is wonderful, her Oscar nomination is well-deserved.
So about those links…
Keith reviewed 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. I was as surprised as he was that this wasn’t another crappy Bayhem, I think he did the story justice. (Check out my interview w/ the three soldiers who lived it)
I’ll be participating in Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club next month, woo hoo! Check out next month’s topic and hope you’ll participate!
Reviews galore… Steven and Ian reviewed The Revenant, Mike reviewed the indie sci-fi 400 Days, and Vinnie reviewed The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Speaking of 400 Days, check out my Q&A with the writer/director Matt Osterman)
A couple of awesome music-related lists! Chrispicks his top 10 best albums of 2015 and Margaret lists her picks of 10 best film tracks of 2015.
Last but not least, Dan wrote about Tom Hardy winning Best British/Irish Actor of the Year at London Critics’ Circle Award. Woo hoo!! Definitely well-deserved, let’s hope he wins an Oscar too!
This music break is dedicated to Glenn Frey, one of the founding members of The Eagles who just passed away. Yes, another rock royalty has left us… boy it hasn’t been a good start to the new year has it? 😦
I love what the author of this CNN article (who wrote the biographic To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles) said… “The passing of Glenn Frey both recalls and closes the book on one of rock’s most celebrated rock ‘n’ roll songwriting teams, but for many of us it also signals something more personal: the passing of a time when the Eagles’ “Hotel California” was the anthem for the youth of America in the ’70s — the way Beatles music was for the children of the ’60s…[Hotel California] described both the band’s self-destruction by excess, its awareness of that self-destruction and its inability to stop it. (‘You can check out any time, but you can never leave. …’).”
… Hotel California is certainly my favorite from The Eagles, and also one of my favorite songs from the 70s. There’s something so eerie in the poetically-mesmerizing lyrics that always hypnotized me every time that song came on the radio. It also has a cinematic quality in that I somehow visualize the song every time I heard it.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this post… I had planned on highlighting his career on his birthday later next month, as I had written this piece six years ago as a tribute. I have always loved British actors and Alan Rickman is certainly at the top of the list of those iconic Brits whose voice alone makes him so unforgettable. Few actors have such sheer screen presence as the London-born thespian, and his versatility makes him perfect for both villainous and heroic roles. Most people perhaps only know him for his bad guy roles. I don’t blame them as I first saw Rickman on screen as the bad guy. The first one was as the ruthless-but-elegant German terrorist Hans Gruber in the first (which remains the best of the franchise) Die Hard, followed by his role as the unhinged Sheriff of Nottingham. But after I watched more of his work, he shall always be Colonel Brandon, the role that made me fall in love with him and one I shall always treasure in my heart.
It’s also interesting that one of my first movies I saw when I came here to the US was Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990). In the same year Patrick Swayze became a ghost that haunted his loved one, Rickman also played one in the British indie drama with such sensitivity that proves he’s just as adept at playing a romantic hero. Over the years I read quotes from people who’ve worked with him saying that Mr. Rickman is a warm and gentle soul, known for his loyalty and kindness as much as his phenomenal talent in front and behind the camera.
As I say goodbye to one of my favorite actors, let me reminisce in the wonderful roles he’s played over the years…
Col Brandon – Sense & Sensibility (1995)
I have made a tribute dedicated to his indelible performance. He easily tops my list of favorite period drama heroes, and has become one of my favorite film characters ever. Col. Brandon is perhaps one of the kindest, most selfless Austen character and Rickman brought that sensibilities to life. The moment he beheld Marianne and fell instantly in love with her, I too was besotted with him.
I’ve seen Sense & Sensibility over a dozen times and I melted every time I saw this scene. As Brandon’s heart was broken when Marianne picked a much younger and decidedly more charming suitor, he didn’t become bitter. As Marianne fell ill, nobody was more tormented than Brandon and that agony was so palpable in Rickman’s eyes. Such a beautiful role tailor-made for such a beautiful soul.
Hans Gruber – Die Hard (1988)
One of the most quotable action villains in cinematic history, Hans Gruber is one of the most exhilaratingly entertaining bad guys. If he had been played by someone other than Rickman, I doubt that he’d be as hugely popular. The movie has some bad-ass dialog, but it’s not so much just the lines, it’s the delivery. Rickman’s decidedly slow, imperturbable diction has become legendary that he’s a popular subject for fellow actors to impersonate.
He can make the most mundane dialog so utterly fascinating. He definitely gave Bruce Willis a run for his money here, it proves that once again it’s so good to be bad.
Severus Snape – Harry Potter series
Apparently Rickman was hand-picked by author J.K. Rowling to play Snape. He was hesitant to accept the role until Rowling revealed the backstory of his character that wasn’t even revealed until the final novel. Those who’ve seen the film surely know that Snape was a multidimensional character who’s more than meets the eye.
In a franchise filled with British acting royalty, Rickman managed to be the most interesting and memorable of them all, as he keeps you guessing which side he’s on. Later on we find out that he’s actually one of the true heroes of the franchise. As with many roles he’s perfected though, I think the reason Snape was such an awesome character is because Alan Rickman played him.
Harry – Love, Actually
Now, even though Rickman’s played far more despicable characters in the past, somehow Harry, the unfaithful husband infuriates me the most. Here Rickman played husband and wife with his real-life friend Emma Thompson. This segment is definitely my favorite as it is the most poignant and heart-wrenching. The Harry/Karen proves to be one that fans of the movie are intrigued by, as revealed by the film’s script editor Emma Freud’s (who’s married to director Richard Curtis) big plot revelation last December.
Harry might be a flawed character, a scoundrel even, but Rickman made his character so human that I can’t absolutely abhor him. Of course being that it’s a rom-com, there’s that hilarious scene of him at the department store with Rowan Atkinson. His exasperated face never fails to crack me up!
Alexander Dane – Galaxy Quest
Rickman is one of those rare actors who can make a curmudgeon attitude so endearing (the only other actor I can think of is Harrison Ford). It’s yet another example of spot-on casting here. Rickman’s character is a Shakespearean-trained Alexander Dane who plays alien Dr. Lazarus in the space opera Galaxy Quest. It’s a hilarious spoof on Star Trek and I absolutely adore his character and his apparent disdain of being a part of the show is absolutely hysterical.
There were five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it. Now look at me. Look at me! I won’t go out there and say that stupid line one more time.
Of course Rickman’s got the best lines in the movie and rightly so. His alien makeup alone is a hoot, but again it’s Rickman’s indelible and inimitable delivery that made his character so fun to watch. I owned this movie on Blu-ray and it’s largely because Rickman’s in it.
Sheriff of Nottingham – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
I saw this movie with my brother years ago when it came out in the theaters. I remember how I thought Rickman absolutely stole every scene he’s in. At the time I had no idea who his name was, but he certainly was hard to forget. The Sheriff of Nottingham, with his lush, black mane, is such an unhinged and ridiculous character but oh so fun to watch!
Seriously, when Rickman plays the bad guy, he’s often more interesting than the hero and it’s the case here, especially against the vanilla Kevin Costner as Robin Hood! According to IMDb Trivia, Rickman turned down the role of the Sheriff twice before he was told he could more or less have carte blanche with his interpretation of the character. Glad that he did and he surely made the character iconic by doing so. …
Steven Spurrier – Bottle Shock
I have to admit that Rickman was the reason I even rented this movie. Here he plays an English wine stewart from Paris who comes to Napa Valley to take the best he can find to Paris for a blind taste test against French wine. I LOVE that he also narrates the movie with that silky voice of his. It may not be a perfect movie, but Rickman is still worth a watch and in a way he manages to make British’s hoity–toity attitude without making him such a stupid caricature. Just the scene of him eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in his car alone is a hoot! Nice to see Rickman display his comedic chops once again, definitely a must-see for Rickman’s fans.
King Louis XIV – A Little Chaos
This is the last film I saw Mr. Rickman in, a movie he also directed. I have to admit I never thought of him as someone suitable to play King Louis XIV but I thought he acquit himself well in the role. He might be a little too gentle and kind as the historically perfectionist and demanding Sun King, but Rickman certainly has that elegant and regal quality.
Of course I love the fact that this movie reunited him with his Sense & Sensibility‘s co-star Kate Winslet. My favorite scene is the one where Kate’s character, a landscape artist working on one of the gardens at Versailles, first met the King who was in disguise.
I miss you dearly Mr. Rickman, but your astounding work shall live on.
Thank you to Lady Sati, whom I’ve been commiserating with in the agony & ecstasy of crushing over an underrated Brit, kindly passed the baton to me to join this awesome blogathon! This idea originated with Abbi at Where the Wild Things Are, and to be honest with you, it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Partly it’s because I’ve been nuts about Toby Stephens lately [haven’t you noticed?] that he’s sort of ruined it for other actors for me. So apart from Toby [who I’d watch in literally ANYTHING], the title of the post is hyperbolic of course. For the other actors, it’s not that I’d watch them in anything because there are tons of movies with them in it I haven’t seen and probably never will. But having their name in a certain film would certainly make me more inclined in watching them.
Ok now I know this is a list for LIVING actors, but if we could include deceased actors, no doubt Gregory Peck would be on the list as I’ve seen practically everything he’s in by now. Heck, I even made a tumblr because of him though now it’s dedicated to Toby [natch!]
Here they are ranked from bottom to top so #1 is my MOST favorite:
10. Tom Hardy
First saw the hunky and versatile actor in Rocknrolla, along with two other actors here on my top 10 list (Elba & Butler) where he played Handsome Bob. Incidentally, his character was a closeted gay man who’s been secretly in love with Butler’s character. One thing I noticed right away is Hardy’s gorgeous voice to go with his handsome face, and he’s got such swagger. Then I saw him in Inception where he stole practically every scene he’s in, and it’s interesting that he played a forger consider the actor’s quite a shape-shifter himself. He’s entirely unrecognizable as Bane in The Dark Knight and also in Warrior, where he bulked up considerably that he looked like he’s twice the size of his character in Rocknrolla! Hardy’s proven to be a capable actor even when all he’s got to work with is his face, as proven in the one-man-show Locke. Heck, he’s even watchable in abominable rom-com like This Means War which I saw on the plane just for him.
Favorite Role: Ivan Locke in Locke
Least Favorite Role: Tuck in This Means War
9. Idris Elba
I also first noticed the hunky former D.J. in American Gangster where I didn’t realize he was British. But I really took notice when he was in Rocknrolla as Gerry Butler’s BFF Mumbles. Like Hardy, he not only looks good but sounds good as well sporting his native Cockney accent. The next few years I saw him in The Losers, Thor, Prometheus, Pacific Rim and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Elba’s got such a magnetic persona and devilish charm, in fact I felt rather guilty drooling over him when he was playing Mandela. If only the Bond producers were daring enough to cast him as Bond, oh man he’d be a killer 007. I still need to catch The Wire soon, but he’s definitely an actor whose career I watch closely.
Favorite Role: Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim
Least Favorite Role: Roque in The Losers
8. Clive Owen
There’s something mysterious to Clive that adds so much to his allure. He smolders without even trying and he’s inherently cool because he doesn’t seem to have anything to prove. The first time I saw him was in those BMW films, which instantly wished he had been in the running as Bond. I know Clive is known for his dark, brooding roles like Children of Men and Closer, as well as in action hero roles like King Arthur, Shoot ’em Up, Sin City, The International, etc. but I also love him in dramatic roles, i.e. Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Boys Are Back and Shadow Dancer. He even shines in slightly comedic roles like the recent dramedy Words & Pictures with Juliette Bincohe.
Favorite Role: Theo in Children of Men
Least Favorite Role: Smith in Shoot ‘Em Up
7. Alan Rickman
I actually first saw Rickman in Truly, Madly, Deeply in my ESL class before I started college. Then later on I learned that he was the same actor playing Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Since then he’s become one of my all time favorite villains, but also one of my most cherished period drama hero as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. Later on I’ve loved Rickman in a variety of roles: Galaxy Quest, Love Actually, Bottle Shock, and I even rented Gambit because he’s in it. Rickman’s line delivery is just one of the things I love about him, as evident in his role as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. He’s perhaps one of the most impersonated actors out there, young British talents like Benedict Cumberbatch & Tom Hiddleston have done impressions of him. His voice is so golden that even when he voiced Marvin in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the android is my fave character in the movie.
Number of movies seen: 18
Favorite Role: Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility Least Favorite Role: Lionel Shahbandar in Gambit
6. Gerard Butler
Ok for those who’ve followed my blog from the beginning already know I’ve had a huge crush on the Scottish lad ever since I saw him in Phantom of the Opera. I definitely prefer his leaner look before he got so buff in 300, though all that crazy training shows his dedication for a role. Well, lately I was dismayed by his role choices, mostly those atrocious rom-coms he kept signing up for like The Ugly Truth and Playing for Keeps. The latter was so horrible I actually swore off Butler for a while in my open letter. But Butler’s the only one of my crushes whom I’ve actually met in real life so perhaps that’s why it’s not easy to just forget about him. To be fair though, it’s not like Butler didn’t bother to act the past few years. In fact, it’s a shame that his compelling work in Machine Gun Preacher was overlooked, and even his surfing role in Chasing Mavericks was decent even if the film wasn’t exactly great. So he still makes my list despite his terrible role choices because well, for some reason I still care for the guy and still have hopes for him, futile though it may be as his next projects are Gods of Egypt and London Has Fallen [sigh]. But then I remember him in his earlier roles in Phantom, Dear Frankie and BBC miniseries The Jury, and y’know what, I’m not quite ready to think he’s a lost cause yet.
Numbers of movies seen: 31
Favorite Role: Erik/Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera
Least Favorite Role: Mike in The Bounty Hunter
5. Keanu Reeves
Ok here’s another actor who perhaps would never win an Oscar, but one can’t refute Keanu’s unusual charm. Believe it or not I think I first saw Keanu in Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush music video, ha! I wouldn’t hold it against him though, I mean he’s probably a young struggling actor making ends meet. Of course the role that made me swoon was Speed, followed by The Matrix (though I’ve only cared to see the first one). Keanu is actually more versatile than people think and despite not being the most expressive actor, he’s just so effortlessly likable. People often forget he’s quite good in My Own Private Idaho with River Phoenix, and able to hold his own against Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate. I absolutely love him in the romantic drama A Walk in the Clouds, yes even more so than in his other romantic roles like The Lake House. Even sporting laughable British accent in Much Ado About Nothing and Dracula I still find Keanu amusing to watch, and I’ve even enjoyed watching him in the little-seen movies like Street Kings and Henry’s Crime. I also admire Keanu on a personal level, as he’s well-known for being super generous with his wealth and shunning the lavish Hollywood lifestyle. I don’t care what people say about him, I’ll always be a fan of Keanu and I don’t think there’s an actor quite like him in Hollywood.
Number of Movies Seen: 15
Favorite Roles: Jack in Speed & Neo in The Matrix
Least Favorite Role: Alex Wyler in The Lake House
4. Russell Crowe
Thanks to his tremendous performance as Maximus Decimus Meridius, I was quite obsessed with Mr. Crowe following Gladiator. I remember trying to find all his previous roles, even as obscure as his early Aussie movies in Proof, Heaven’s Burning, Rough Magic,Breaking Up, etc. Every time I saw Crowe’s name attached to something, I’m more inclined to give it a shot even if it’s for a rental. A recent re-watch of Gladiator confirmed how much I admire his acting style. He’s not only charismatic but he’s got such a certain astute way in displaying emotion with even the most subtle gesture. I think his performance as Jeffrey Wigand in The Insider is his best role to date, yes it even beats Gladiator and he should’ve won his Oscar for that role. Crowe makes a compelling hero to be sure, but his villainous turn in 3:10 to Yuma is just as intriguing to watch. Oh and regardless what critics have you believe, he’s quite good in Ridley Scott’s rare rom-com A Good Year which displays his lighthearted side.
Number of Movies Seen: 22
Favorite Roles: Maximus in Gladiator & Jack Aubrey in Master & Commander
Least Favorite Role: Alex Wyler in The Lake House
3. Christian Bale
Before Bale landed the role of Batman, Bale had made an impression of me as Bateman, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. It was such a dark and violent movie as I saw the unrated version by accident, but Bale was nothing short of electrifying. I think before that role, I had already seen Bale in Reign of Fire alongside Gerry Butler AND Matthew McConaughey, an apocalyptic sci-fi movie with fire-breathing dragons [yep, you heard it right, but it’s quite worth a look just for the cast]. Of course I LOVE Bale as Nolan’s Batman, especially in the origin story in Batman Begins where we see his transformation from a naive rich kid to a bad ass caped crusader. I also loved him in his more understated roles such as John Rolfe in The New World. Despite being there for only 20 minutes, he’s my favorite character and I bought the dvd because of him. Even in so-so movies, the Welsh thespian is often the best thing in it and makes the movie worth a watch. He’s also awesome in Equilibrium which I probably wouldn’t even bother to watch if Bale weren’t in it. His incredible dedication to his craft is incredible, talk about suffering for his art by losing/gaining ridiculous amount of weight for a role. He may not be as versatile as people think though, as I don’t think he could do full on comedy, but he seems to know how to choose roles that suits him.
Number of Movies Seen: 22
Favorite Roles: Bruce Wayne in Nolan’s Batman Trilogy
Least Favorite Role: Melvin Purvis in Public Enemies
2. Timothy Dalton
Whaddayaknow, two Welsh actors back to back in my top 5. Most of you likely know I’m a card-carrying member of the Dalton-is-best-Bond brigade. I LOVE his only two roles as 007 which made me a fan for life. But on top of that, he’s also massively awesome as Prince Barin in the sci-fi cult classic Flash Gordon and the Errol Flynn-channeling villain in The Rocketeer. Until Toby Stephens entered the picture, Dalton was my favorite Rochester amongst the ubiquitous Jane Eyre adaptations and he also made a marvelous Julius Caesar in the 1999 Cleopatra TV Movie. He also has a surprisingly great comic timing too as displayed in Hot Fuzz and the silly-but-fun Beautician and the Beast. There’s a certain intensity and passion in Dalton’s eyes that I find riveting and he’s one of the best looking 70-year-old actors out there. In fact, from the clips of the Penny Dreadful series, it’s clear Dalton seems to only get better with age. I don’t normally watch horror, but I would be willing to give it a shot when it’s available to rent. I wish he had been more prolific in his career. I’d think that Dalton could’ve done a number of roles offered to his peers like Anthony Hopkins, Michael Caine and Patrick Stewart. In fact, I’d have loved to have seen him as Alfred in the inevitable Batman reboots or even better, he’d rock a role of an older Bruce Wayne if they were to adapt Batman Beyond to the big screen.
Number of Movies Seen: 22
Favorite Roles: James Bond in The Living Daylights & Licence to Kill
Least Favorite Role: Michael Barrington in Sextette
1. Toby Stephens
Ahhhh… finally we get to the top of the list. The man who gets me all giddy like a school girl every time I watch him on screen. My Tumblr is now dedicated to this fine British thespian and I literally squeal every time his exquisite face come across my dash. There are few actors in life who generates such an extreme reaction from me, in fact so far there’s only been five of them, starting with Christopher Reeve when I was a wee girl, and he’s the first redhead I’ve ever been head over heels in love with.
As I said in my Toby Appreciation post, the reason Toby’s bewitched me so much is more than just his devastating good looks, but it’s his chameleon-like ability and incredibly expressive face that conveys so much emotion. He’s blessed with greenish-blue piercing eyes and he sure knows how to use them well in each and every role, such as below as Captain Flint in Black Sails.
Sati said about her crush Stephen Dillane that ‘…one look in his eyes is enough to tell you so much about the character he is playing’ I feel the exact same way about Toby and that’s why it’s been such a joy catching up to his work. Toby seems to fit any genre, from period dramas to sci-fi to something like a pirate which one wouldn’t normally associate such a posh, refined and cultured English gent with. Yet Toby effortlessly tackles the role whilst juggling a high-society comedic play in Noël Coward’s Private Lives at the same time.
Clearly looks + talent runs in the family as I’ve been a huge fan of Toby’s mum Maggie Smith, but I really respect Toby that he doesn’t owe his career to her. But of course having been exposed to the acting craft early on made an impact on him and made him such a multifaceted performer, excelling in every acting medium from stage, TV, film and even radio where he acts just using his voice alone. He’s also one of those actors who can master any accent, which he’s used in various roles from playing Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby TV Movie to a CIA operative in BBC’s Strike Back. Heck, he even spoke Hindi in the Bollywood historical epic The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey, right after he played Bond villain in Die Another Day no less. About half of the dialog was in Hindi whilst he had to speak with a Scottish accent the rest of the time as Captain William Gordon.
Role that made me a fangirl – Vincent in The Machine (2013) Role that officially ruined all other men for me: Mr. Rochester in BBC Jane Eyre (2006) Number of movies/TV shows I saw with him in them: 19 (so far) Favorite Roles: Rochester in BBC Jane Eyre + Captain Flint in Black Sails Least Favorite Role: Victorin in Cousin Bette (1998)
The Many Faces of Toby Stephens
(clockwise from top left: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Queen’s Sister, Wired, Jane Eyre, The Rising, Die Another Day, Cambridge Spies, Robin Hood, Black Sails, The Machine, Vexed, Possession, The Great Gatsby)
Ok I’m not ranking these, this list is in alphabetical order as it was tough enough ranking my top 10! A couple of these actors might’ve made my main list a few months ago but upon looking at some of my old favorites, only three of them made the cut. I’m still a big fan of all of them though, or they wouldn’t even get a mention. Sam Reid is the newbie here as I have only seen him in Belle so far but he really impressed me that I’d love to see more of his work! So here they are and photo shows the role that made me a fan:
Bloggers who have previously shared their almost anything actors/actresses:
Hello folks, welcome to the FIRST edition of 2014 Five for the Fifth!!
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. As I was thinking for all the questions for this post, I was humming some of the songs from FROZENso naturally my mind turns to soundtracks. I listen to basically only a couple of genres: classical and soundtracks, with other genres I listen to only when I come across to on the radio. I haven’t decided whether I want to make a top 10 list of favorite soundtracks yet, but if I did, I think these five will surely make the list: The Great Gatsby, The Sapphires, Pacific Rim, Gravity, and of course, FROZEN. That last one is especially addictive, just like a lot of other Disney music, I just can’t get ’em out of my head! The Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel’s version ofThe First Time of Forever is my absolute favorite.
So my first question is: What’s your favorite soundtrack/song of 2013?
…… 2.I’d like to single out an actor/filmmaker whose birthday falls on Five for the Fifth Day. Well today’s Bradley Cooper‘s birthday, and he and I are apparently only a month apart in age [I’ll let you Google it yourself how old that is, ahah].
I haven’t always been fond of Cooper, though with his tall, lean figure, dark hair and beautiful blue eys, you’d think he’d be my type. The thing is, I kind of find him to be a little too pretty, which actually has the opposite effect. In any case, ever since Silver Linings Playbook, and most recently American Hustle, I’ve warmed up to him more. At least he has a pleasant countenance, though not the most charismatic actor in my opinion.
So what do you think of Bradley Cooper? Are you a fan?
3.The trend in Hollywood with film adaptations is they come in twos. And so is this year with two Biblical epics, one for Easter (NOAH – March 28) and the other just before Christmas (EXODUS– December 12). As much as I LOVE stories from the Good Book getting some attention, granted there are a bunch of them that are worth exploring, I’m more curious rather than excited about these two. My hope is that they’d stay true to the source material and that God doesn’t end up simply being an afterthought.
Last week we got a FIRST LOOK of Christian Bale in the role of Moses. So apparently it’s not enough that he’s played the Ultimate Savior of Humanity (as Jesus in the TV movie Mary, Mother of Jesus) back in 1999. Not the greatest casting call ever IMO. Now, as much as I love Bale and he’s a terrific actor, I feel that he’s rather ill-suited for this role as well, it’d be nice to see Hollywood at least attempt to cast someone ethnic looking even if they couldn’t find an actual Jewish actor. I’d think Guatemalan-descent Oscar Isaac would’ve been a better choice and he’s a very good actor in his own right. Yes I know he doesn’t have the star power yet, and something with a huge budget like this is unlikely to get greenlit without a major star.
Anyway, that official photo shows Moses still leading a comfortable life as the adopted member of the Egyptian royal family. But here are some set photos with lookie here… Aussie Joel Edgerton as Ali Baba, er I mean Rhamses! In the photo of Bale with Ridley Scott, the costume look like it’s a recycled version from his Robin Hood film. Mr. Scott hasn’t captured the glory that was Gladiator since its release 14 years ago, we’ll see if he’d finally do so with this one.
Well, what do you think folks? Thoughts on the EXODUS film? …
4. I heard about A Promise a couple of months ago and being a fan of period dramas, naturally it piqued my interest. But with a cast that include Alan Rickman, Rebecca Hall AND former Game of Thrones‘ Richard Madden (this ultra gorgeous hunk of a man happens to be Scottish, natch!), I definitely want to see this! Check out the trailer:
A romantic drama set in Germany just before WWI and centered on a married woman who falls in love with her husband’s protégé. Separated first by duties and then by the war, they pledge their devotion to one another.
Ok so I’ve read some not-so-stellar reviews from Venice Film Festival that mentioned the lack of chemistry. Heh, I guess I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt, I mean, being torn between Rickman and Madden? A girl can only be so darn lucky! Ah well, I doubt this movie will make it to my city anyway, but I’ll be sure to rent it when it comes out.
What do you think of this one, folks?
… 5.Now lastly, since the first week of the New Year isn’t over yet, some of you are probably still working on your New Year’s resolution. Some might’ve actually broken one too, am I right? 😉 I actually don’t really have one, I just never bothered with it, but this year, as it relates to my blog and my love for movies, my resolution is to catch up on more classic movies. I’ve been saying that a lot in the past but this time, I’ve got a plan! I’ve signed up for the BlindSpot blogathon, as you can see on my list I posted last week, I’d at least hit 12 of them I’ve been meaning to see. Perhaps you have similar goals, i.e. tackle a certain genre/filmmaker or maybe you want to catch all of AFI’s Top 100 Movies, etc.
So, what’s YOUR movie-related goal in 2014?
Well, that’s it for the first-of-the-year edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.
Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀
Happy Monday all! It’s going to be quite a busy week for me with three screenings Tuesday – Thursday, starting with Disconnect tomorrow. I’ve got my MSPIFF press pass kit yesterday and all the tickets for the films I’ve mentioned here, well except for Kon-Tiki as it was sold out and the second screening conflicts with another film. I was thinking of going to the Screenwriters Panel but this stupid Wintry weather kept me from going. Seriously, there are icicles forming on my roof as I type this. We seem to be going backwards!! [sigh] In any case, here’s my viewing schedule this week:
Disconnect (Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgård)
Unfinished Song – or Song for Marion (Terrence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave)
It’ll take me some time to review them all so this week we’ve got a couple of special guest posts on schedule, so stay tuned! Anyway, here’s my mini review of the one film I managed to see this weekend:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
My hubby and I didn’t originally set out to see this one but it’s one of those movies we’ve been curious about for some time as it’s such a pop-culture phenomenon. Truth be told, I don’t know anything about the story, though a short stop at Wikipedia revealed that it’s a comic sci-fi series created by Douglas Adams, which started out as a BBC comedy radio program in 1978 and later adapted to other formats, including novels, TV series and the 2005 movie. When I saw the cast, Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, PLUS Alan Rickman & Helen Mirren‘s voice, I was more than intrigued! It has the vibe of the wacky sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest, one of my fave comedies ever, but I think is still far more enjoyable than this one. Now, it started out very promising, with the hilarious narration about how the dolphins has been trying to warn humans of their impending doom but they’re mistaken for playful tricks, hence all the dolphin shows in Sea World. The song So Long and Thanks for All the Fish that the dolphins sing before they leave earth is such a hoot and fun to watch. Then we meet a hapless Englishman Arthur Dent — Martin Freeman can portray utter bewilderment like no other — who wakes up to all the ruckus outside his home as it’s about to be demolished. As if that wasn’t a bad enough morning, his friend Ford Prefect (hip-hop artist Moss Def) tells him he’s actually an alien and earth is being destroyed in a matter of minutes! Before you know it, Arthur is whisked away by Ford, by hitching a ride to a spaceship (natch!), and they embark on a madly bizarre adventure! I could see how this story would become so popular, not just people who grew up listening to the radio show, as my hubby’s colleagues often reference this movie. Even Apple’s Siri refer to this giant computer Deep Thought’s answer, the number 42, when asked about the meaning of life. There are certainly some amusing parts in this film, the segment with John Malkovich as a seriously outlandish religious leader with mechanical spiders for legs and Sam Rockwell’s flamboyantly over-the-top portrayal of Zaphod Beeblebrox (I guess with a character name like that one can’t exactly underplay it, ahah) are certainly amusing. Overall though, the pacing is just off, it could be because director Garth Jennings’s lack of directorial experience. On top of that, I just didn’t connect with the story as I found myself falling asleep midway through, and didn’t wake up until Bill Nighy‘s Slartibartfast, the planet designer, gave Arthur a tour of the galaxy. Unlike Galaxy Quest where I was caught up in the characters’ journey, this one sort of become tedious over time, I’m sure the radio show/novels are far more interesting. Most of the characters, while amusing at first, just aren’t really that interesting after all, which is a shame considering the talents involved. Freeman basically playing a similar character as Bilbo in terms of being out of his comfort zone, as he’s pretty much dumbfounded and perplexed for most of the movie. I do love Marvin the Paranoid Android, he’s perhaps my favorite character of the movie, largely thanks to Alan Rickman‘s voice! I don’t know how this guy managed to be entertaining just by lending his voice alone, but all the sarcastic quips of the manically-depressed robot are truly the best lines of the movie!
Marvin: You can blame the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation for making androids with GPP…Arthur: Um… what’s GPP?Marvin: Genuine People Personalities. I’m a personality prototype. You can tell, can’t you…?
Arthur: I think that door just sighed.Marvin: Ghastly, isn’t it? All the doors on this spaceship have been programmed to have a cheery and sunny disposition.
Marvin: Freeze? I’m a robot. I’m not a refrigerator.
So even though I didn’t love this movie, I’m glad I finally saw it so I know when people make references to this story. I probably won’t rewatch the movie but I definitely would rewatch all the hilarious Marvin moments, courtesy of youtube. 3 out of 5 reels
Fun Trivia bit: The movie was first optioned in 1982 by producers Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross. Douglas Adams wrote three drafts for them per his contract. During this time, Medjuck and Gross were considering Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd to play Ford Prefect, but then Aykroyd sent them his idea for Ghostbusters and they did that movie instead. [per IMDb trivia]
Well, that’s my weekend roundup, folks. What did you see this weekend, anything good?