Guest Review: ALONE IN BERLIN (2016)

guestpost Directed By: Vincent Perez
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Daniel Brühl
Runtime: 1 hr 43 minutes

War films are stories writ large about aggression between nations. Few of them explore small-scale human undercurrents of suppressed dissent inside the countries at war. Alone in Berlin (2016) does this by looking at an ordinary working-class couple and their compulsion to express feelings about Hitler’s dictatorship at time when dissent meant certain death. It is also an essay on parental grief struggling to voice pain and loss.

Based on real events, the story opens in a small flat in Berlin where Otto Quangel (Brendan Gleeson) and his wife Anna (Emma Thompson) learn that their son has died in battle. In a long marriage that is under strain, the news pushes them further apart as they cannot console each other in grief. Otto had encouraged his son to join the Nazi army and now Anna blames him for their loss. Desperate to voice his rage against Hitler’s regime, he painstakingly writes postcards and secretly leaves them on stairwells and doorways where they can be seen by passers-by: he calls them “small grains of sand in Hitler’s machine”. Initially he keeps Anna away from his dangerous mission, but she insists on being involved and they both become clandestine resistance fighters whose weapons are simple messages about the evils of Nazism. They manage to write and distribute over 260 cards despite extensive investigative efforts to stop them. In the process, they resurrect their marital relationship. After almost two years of card-writing they are caught and together face Nazi justice.

This film has two parallel narratives that start in opposition and end in convergence: one is Otto and Anna’s actions, the other is the investigation. The first is focused on the smallness of the couple’s actions in contrast to the enormous risk they are taking, like a pair of mice squeaking at roaring lions. The filming, colour palette and period setting are drab and lifeless; the atmosphere is paranoid with suspicion and mistrust; and the acting is subdued and understated. Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson are actors with broad performance repertoires but here they are minimalist in expression and Spartan in dialogue, with much being conveyed through furtive glances or avoided eye-contact. It is a slow-moving story, observant of small details in an alienated world. This has the effect of amplifying the intensity of Otto and Anna’s actions. Close-ups of a pen leaving a trail of outrage on a small white card become powerful portraits of bravery that are ultimately futile as most of the cards were handed in to authorities. The couple’s nemesis is a young German investigator (Daniel Brühl) who pursues his work with ideological fervour for the Fuhrer but whose success turns into the film’s most devastating moments of despair.

This is a joyless story about humble heroism. Otto and Anna are emblematic of ordinary people dealing with tragedy and anger inside a world of fear and danger. Far from being mere victims, their small protests seriously unsettled the Nazi hierarchy and the closing scenes are a tribute to the power of two human “grains of sand”.

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cinemuseRichard Alaba, PhD
CineMuse Films
Member, Australian Film Critics Association
Sydney, Australia


Have you seen ‘Alone in Berlin’? Well, what did you think? 

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FlixChatter Review: Song of the Sea (2014)

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Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

I’ve been wanting to see this since I saw the trailer exactly a year ago. I was so impressed by the visuals of The Secret of Kells (2009), I adore the hand-drawn animation style where virtually EVERY single scene is worth framing. Five years later, filmmaker Tomm Moore is back with another mythical tale, this time it’s based on an ancient Celtic myth of the selkie, creatures that live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land (per Wiki).

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Brendan Gleeson is also back as one of the voice cast, but it’s David Rawle as the young boy Ben who’s the lead of the film, along with his younger sister Saoirse who’s mostly silent throughout the film. The story begins with a young boy losing his mother and later on, which prompts his dad Conor (Gleeson) to place Ben and Saoirse with their grandmother in the city. But from there, he ends up embarking on an adventure of his life.

I have to admit the story isn’t too easy to follow at times, but the visuals are so breathtakingly-beautiful I don’t mind so much. I’m not saying this film is more style than substance, as there’s a deep and magical quality of the mythical tale that once you grasp what’s going on, it’s really quite an emotional ride. I admire the tremendous craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating each animated piece. The vibrant colors and ethereal quality, paired with the lush Celtic music, it’s like a beautiful lullaby of a movie that transports you into an otherworldly realm.

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Like in The Secret of Kells where you could practically smell the trees and the ground the characters walk on, there’s something so evocative about the ocean landscape in this movie. I could practically feel the sea breeze, the chilly wave and wind of the Irish coast. The visuals is truly a feast for the eyes that the slower pace actually gives you room to appreciate the artwork before you.

This is an absolute must-see for any fan of animated features, or anyone looking for something unique and magical. There’s a heartwarming familial theme makes this a perfect film to watch with the whole family, even though there are perhaps some scenes that might spook really young children.

This movie was among the nominees for Best Animated Features at last year’s Oscar which went to Big Hero 6. Now if I had seen this last year, I would’ve been torn to pick between the two. Both are worthy contenders to be sure, though in terms of visuals, I think this one is more unique. Props to Tomm Moore for creating yet another animated masterpiece. This is only his second directorial project, so I can’t wait to see what else he’ll tackle next!

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What do you think of Song of The Sea?

Everybody’s Chattin’… RIP Richard Kiel (aka 007’s best henchman Jaws)

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I have New York City on my mind today as my hubby and I are flying there tomorrow for a few days. I’ll be taking a few days off blogging as well… but hey no fret, you have my fellow bloggers to keep you company [as if you aren’t reading each other’s posts already, ahah].

So here are some awesome posts my friends have put up this past week:

Margaret (aka Lady Sati) kept up with her Fincher series with another highlights from his films, this time it’s a memorable scene from The Social Network.

Kristin took part in the Flick Chicks’ Guilty Pleasure Blogathon, check out which five movies made her list.

SpectresCatWho doesn’t love cats… on screen or otherwise. Well Nick picked six best movie cats (but where’s Puss the Boots??) 

As for Telly Chattin’, Melissa posted her August TV Favorites, Zoë reviewed Netflix series House of Cards Season 1, whilst Getter (aka Mettel Ray) set her sights on What’s New this Fall.

Michael continued his awesome TMT series with Marnie, a Hitchcock movie I’ve been wanting to watch for some time, whilst Cindy highlights her favorite stop-motion animated movies.

We can always count on Mikey to bring us the most important news updates. He took to the streets of Glasgow to chat with some movie geeks about what they think of the whole Scottish Independent issue. 

Notable Reviews, mostly of films I haven’t seen yet:

CalvaryImageNostra reviewed Zero Theorem, Steven reviewed A Love Song for Bobby Long, Irene reviewed Blue Ruin. Rodney reviewed Draft Day, and Mark reviewed another Brendan Gleeson film I’m looking forward to seeing, Calvary.Meanwhile, Wendell reviewed a recent remake which I have seen and actually quite enjoyed, Robocop.

As for mini reviews, Fernando reviewed Chef & The Maze Runner, and Tim reviewed a couple Japanese animated movies.


RIP Richard Kiel

I just found out last night as I wrote this post that a character I grew up with just died. Richard Kiel died on Wednesday at the age of 74.

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Mr Kiel w/ fellow Bond villains: Christopher Lee, Rick Yune & Toby Stephens!

I remember growing up watching Roger Moore’s Bond movies, I was quite afraid as well as amused by the steel-toothed henchman. I don’t know much about his personal life but reading his articles about him, sounds like he’s a gentle giant whose smile was always as big as his stature. I also remember him in Happy Gilmore, it was such a hoot when he showed up and of course Mr. Kiel was always a scene stealer.

As a mini tribute to the late Michigan-born actor, here are three memorable scenes of him as Jaws, the ultimate & best Bond henchman ever.

 


Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! See you sometime next week!

FlixChatter Double Review: Edge of Tomorrow

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This weekend I finally saw my first movie on the big-screen after my holiday. Ted has seen it earlier in the week, here’s what we think on Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster.

Ted’s Review

For the last 10 years or so, Tom Cruise has starred in so many big-budgeted action pictures that I lost count. I think he’s decided not to pursue the golden statue anymore and why not keep making big movies while studios are still willing to foot the bills right? His latest is another spectacle and I was surprised that I enjoyed as much as I did, after seeing the trailers and heard about the concept, I wasn’t that interest in it at all.

Set in the not too distant future, the world has been invaded by an alien race called “Mimics” and most of the western Europe has been overtaken by these aliens. After several defeats, humankind have developed new battle suits called “Jackets” and were able to fight back. As the film opens, the military are planning a surprise attack on the beaches of France and we were introduced to General Brigham (the always great Brendan Gleeson). He orders Major William Cage (Cruise) to be sent to the battlefield with a camera crew, the military is expecting a victory and want to show the world that we’re winning the war against the aliens. Since Cage’s background is in advertising, he’s never been to battle and sort of a coward. He tried to weasel his way out by trying to blackmail the General. Brigham responds by put him under arrest and knock him out. Cage was then dumped at a Heathrow base and here he meets Master Sergeant Farrell (Bill Paxton), again he tries to weasel his way out of a combat. 

Unfortunately for him, Farrell was told that Cage is deserter and a con man, so he’s forced to join J-Squad. The next day the soldiers arrived at the beach and were ambushed by the “Mimics”. Apparently they knew about the surprise attack and were waiting for the humans to arrive. Cage was able to escape unscathed when the helicopter clashed. Since he’s never been in a battle, he had no clue what he was doing. While running around in the battlefield, he saw another soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). He witness her being killed right in front of him. Then later he was killed by a Mimic but somehow he inherits the alien’s power and woke up a day earlier back at the Heathrow base. If you seen the trailers, then you pretty much know how the story will unfold, Cage will have live the same day over and over again and learn how to defeat the alien.

Three screenwriters (Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth) were credited for this film, it’s based on a Japanese graphic novel called “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Considering that the concept has been done several times before, I thought they did a good job of coming up something “new” to keep audiences interested. Personally, I don’t like this kind of concept, the idea of a character relieving the same event over and over again just doesn’t excites me. But here the writers kept me interested and threw in a couple of surprises here and there.

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I’ve always been a fan of Doug Liman, I mean here’s a man who pretty much introduced Jason Bourne to the world, well to those who’ve never read the books anyway. Sure his last couple of films weren’t that great but I still think he’s a good director. Here he crafted a good thriller that didn’t take itself too seriously, I’m getting tire of big movies the last few years trying to be too serious (I’m looking at you Godzilla and Man of Steel). In a way this film reminds me of some of the good 90s summer flicks, it’s fun and didn’t try to insult the audiences’ intelligence. With a budget of around $180mil, you can expect to see some great visual effects and action set pieces; I was particularly impressed with climatic shootout/chase.

The performances by the two leads were pretty good, Cruise was quite amusing the cowardly character at the beginning of the film. Of course as the film progresses, he becomes the tough action hero like his other roles. Blunt was quite effective as the love interest/mentor to Cruise’s character. I’m just glad they didn’t make her out to be another damsel in distress like most big action pictures of the summer.

What’s holding this film down from being great, for me at least, is that it just reminded me too much of Groundhog Day. Yes it’s not the same genre but everything that happened in this film, we’ve seen them before. Also, I was a bit disappointed with the design of the “Mimics”, they’re sort of cross between the bugs from Starship Troopers and aliens from all those Alien films.

But I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed this film and I think if you’re in the mood for a good sci-fi/action, this one is recommended. Heck if you hate Tom Cruise, you might enjoy seeing him die over and over again.

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Ruth’s Review

I have to admit that when I first saw this trailer, I thought ‘meh, this is just another Tom Cruise action flick.’ In fact, until reviews started popping up, I was set on just renting this one on a slow night. Well, I’m glad I gave it a shot.

I’m not going to rehash the plot again as Ted’s done that in his review. What I did like about this movie is the amount of humor, which I didn’t expect. I’m glad they did though, I mean this movie worked as it didn’t take itself so darn seriously (*cough* Godzilla *cough*). Also, we see a slightly different version of Tom Cruise than what I’m used to seeing in his action flicks, at least in the beginning of the film. His character looks bewildered pretty much the entire first act as he’s a self-described wimp who’s never been on any combat “I can’t stand the sight of blood. Not even a paper cut.” Ha! The always-fun-to-watch Brendan Gleeson‘s expression in this scene is such a hoot. Nice to see Cruise play a character who’s not always in control all the time, though of course by the end, he’s back to ‘savior of the world’ mode.

I really enjoyed the first act, which could be described as action comedy at times. The comparison to Groundhog Day is inevitable and actually quite fitting, as the main character had to relive the same day over and over. The sci-fi element isn’t introduced until midway through the film, which I thought is a pretty interesting, albeit not entirely original, concept. Yet the writers manage to surprise me in that the story kept me engaged throughout. I did get a bit battle fatigue after a while, especially in the third act.

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Fortunately Cruise and Emily Blunt were fun to watch. I’ve always been a fan of miss Blunt and she shines once again here. I don’t normally associate her with bad-ass heroine roles, but I guess she did show her action chops in Looper in 2012. She looked extremely fit as the super soldier, surely guys don’t mind the repeated scenes of her doing her mighty push-ups. Yet there’s still a vulnerability about her that makes her human. She’s not a Lara Croft type character who’s practically indestructible. She has a pretty decent chemistry with Cruise, at least better than in the last few female pairings he’s had lately. Speaking of Lara Croft, interesting to see Noah Taylor who was Lara’s equivalent of Bond’s Q made an appearance here playing Rita’s scientist friend.

Edge of Tomorrow is definitely a great sci-fi action, it’s funny, entertaining and definitely offers you a couple of hours of fun escapism. I wouldn’t say it’s the best movie of the year as some are saying on Twitter though. For me, a movie would have to hit the emotional high points and be really invested in the characters in order to be truly leave a mark. I would say that this one is much better than Elysium and something I’d actually recommend, but that’s it. I have to give props to Doug Liman for pulling off the ‘repetitive’ aspect of the story that is far from boring, and to Cruise for still being capable enough to carry a tentpole Summer movie with the same intensity he’s shown in nearly 40 films. Whether or not he’s still as bankable is a different story though.

In terms of special effects, I personally don’t see anything ground breaking. It serves the story but it’s not so visually-arresting that made me go ‘wow.’ I’m glad we saw the movie in 2D with Dolby Atmos sound though, that is the perfect combo as the Atmos sound definitely enhances the experience whilst most 3D offerings are so unnecessary. If you’re looking for something fun to do at the movies, you could do a lot worse than seeing this one.

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What do you think of Edge of Tomorrow? 

MSPIFF14 Reviews: Breathe In & The Grand Seduction

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Breathe In

BreatheInPosterI have to admit I’m usually not into films about infidelity as it often gets glamorized on film and those getting cheated on often appear as if they deserve what happen to them. Luckily that’s not the case here. It’s more of a character study on temptation and the fragility of people who are deeply disillusioned with their lives.

The film opens with a seemingly happy family in an idyllic suburbs in upstate NY. The dad Keith (Guy Pearce) is a music teacher who is an aspiring orchestra cellist, the mother Megan (Amy Ryan), is a housewife who sells cookie jars on the side. Their daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) is a swimming champion, blond and vivacious. They were all anticipating the arrival of Sophie, an exchange student from Britain who’s coming to stay w/ them. That part reminds me of an exchange student from Denmark who came to live with us when I was in high school. Fortunately there was no such drama like what happens to this family. But then again, the student at our house was not in the form of an attractive girl like Felicity Jones and there was no married male in my household.

The attraction between Keith and Sophie is inevitable and palpable. As soon as Keith helped her with her luggage at the airport, exchanging quick glances in the car or at dinnertime, all the seemingly innocent acts have an electric undercurrent.

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The naturalistic style of Drake Doremus‘ direction lends itself to an atmospheric and intimate setting, as well as an authentic performance from the actors. Not that their behavior is excusable in any way, but neither Keith or Sophie seems powerless to stop their attraction from getting the best of them. In Keith’s part though, it seems that it’s more about him chasing his dream of a Bohemian life, something he felt he gave up when he took on the job and move out of Manhattan. There’s no real friction between him and his wife other than the fact that she sees his aspiring career as a concert cellist as a mere hobby. Keith’s motivation in the whole affair seemed more visible, for a lack of a better word, whilst Sophie’s much more of an enigma. And that to me, felt like a crux that prevents this film from being truly compelling. The way Lauren and her teenage friends is depicted here seems rather simplistic and generalized, it certainly puts teen life in a very unflattering light.

What I do appreciate is the lack of sensational & unnecessary sex scenes which I think would cheapen the story. As my friend Ashley astutely pointed out in her comment, anyone can grind and moan but to create a real sexual tension with just the touch of a hand or even a look across the room is far more challenging. As I’ve mentioned briefly in this piano moment post, there’s not one but two memorable piano scene brimming with sexual tension. Pearce and Jones certainly have a scorching chemistry despite their 16 age gap and the build up to their first moment together was almost as tense as a suspense thriller! Pearce is one of today’s finest actors and this performance further cements his amazing versatility. Even at 30, Jones still looks believable enough as a teen, and her character is supposed to be much more mature than her age. Having seen Like Crazy, I feel like I have seen Jones in a similar role as a girl who recklessly puts desire and passion above reason.

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I have to give props to Amy Ryan for delivering a memorable supporting role to a thankless role as Keith’s wife. She somehow makes her character sympathetic and I’m glad the film didn’t turn her into nothing but *scornful wife* here. There’s also a droll, albeit creepy, scene with Kyle MacLachlan pointing out the elephant in the room to Pearce’s character.

I think people might call this film tedious or underwhelming as there’s barely anything happening. I can see where they’re coming from, and for me, if it weren’t for the excellent performances I’d probably think the same way. I do think the script is so sparse and the vague finale barely give us anything to grasp on. What happened to Sophie in the end? Is the family beyond repair at this point? There are gaps that seem to be intentionally left open here which can be frustrating. All the exquisitely shot and breathless moments are memorable in and of itself, but ultimately the film itself feels too indulgent and even morose for its own good. One thing for sure though, it’s quite a sobering picture of infidelity that temptation may be sweet but remorse never is.

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GrandSeductionPosterThe Grand Seduction

I almost missed seeing this as I couldn’t get an extra ticket for my hubby on Friday night. Fortunately there’s a second screening on Sunday night and I’m glad I made it! This is one of the most delightful and sweet comedies I’ve seen in a long while.

The tiny Newfoundland harbor called Tickle Cove was once a thriving fishing village. But now that they’re prohibited from fishing to make a living, the community is living off welfare check. So when there is an opportunity that might land a contract with a big oil corporation to build a factory, a petrochemical byproduct repurposing facility to be exact, the town realize this is an opportunity of a lifetime to save their town from complete financial ruin. What’s the catch? In order to have the factory built on their premises, the contract specifies that the town needs a permanent doctor. And that’s where the grand seduction comes in.

At first I was wondering why they choose such a sensational title but once I see the movie it perfectly makes sense! The doctor in question is a young, cricket-loving Dr. Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), is only assigned in that town for a month. And so the new mayor Murray French (Brendan Gleeson) gets the entire harbor community to seduce the doctor to stay. The length to their seduction is the heart of the story and it lends itself to grand hilarity! I think the funniest bits are when the hockey-loving town has to learn the game of cricket, from creating the uniform & paddles, building the cricket field AND of course learning the rule of the game. As soon as Dr. Lewis arrives in town, he’s welcomed by practically the entire male population in a [faux] game of cricket. That’s just a fraction of the other schemes the entire town is in on Dr. Lewis, who’s so deliriously oblivious I feel like he deserves being pranked in this way.

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I LOVE comedies that aren’t gross, foul-mouthed or just plain silly and this movie fits that description. As director Don McKellar said during the Q&A after the film, he’s drawn to the project as it’s the kind of social comedy that has a certain dignity, a certain respect for the people being depicted. There is a purpose to every gag, down to even the smallest comic scene is not a waste. There’s an obvious ethical issue with what the town is doing, I mean they’re tapping his phone and stuff, the NSA has nothing on them, ahah. Yet it’s not done in a mean-spirited kind of way and you can’t help but root for the town as well as for the young doctor.

The name of the harbor town is perfectly appropriate as it tickles your funny bone. There are plenty of gut-busting, thigh-slapping hilarity to be had from start to finish and having real life townsfolk definitely makes it feel authentic. Gleeson and Kitsch seem like an odd match and it is, but that’s kind of the point and it’s played to great effect here. Both of them are the only two actors who aren’t from easternmost province of Canada. Gleeson is Irish (which fits perfectly to the town’s Irish heritage) and Kitsch grew up in Vancouver. Gleeson is such a great actor, but I really like him in comedies [he’s much softer here though than his character in The Guard which I saw recently]. He’s is joined by Newfoundland’s most famous celebrity Gordon Pinsent (Away From Her), and the rest of the supporting cast, including comedian Mark Critch are from the area as well. All of them are so hilarious and by the end of it I fell in love with the Tickle Cove community!

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The ending is pretty predictable but in no way that it lessens the charm of the story. In fact, I don’t mind it at all that it ends on a hopeful and cheery note. I’m still gleeful just thinking about some of the funniest bits from this movie. Not only is it delightfully funny, it’s also heartwarming and beautiful to look at, it could practically doubles as a tourism video for Newfoundland. I definitely will watch it again as soon as it’s available on dvd or streaming.

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Have you seen either one of these movies? I’d love to hear what you think!

Top 10 Favorite Irish Actors working in Hollywood today

Happy St Patrick’s Day everybody! According to this Guinness Store House sign, everyone’s Irish today 😀

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I hope you don’t mind me resurrecting this oldie-but-goodie list I did a while back, but I’ve been meaning to update ’em for some time. This list is limited to performers born and bred in Ireland (at least for most of their childhood), so not those of Irish-descent as it’d take this entire blog to list them all. For the most part, my list stay the same, but you can check out the original list and see who’ve been taken out of the list 😉

Here they are in random order:

  1. Colin Farrell
    ColinFarrellOf all the vile things Joel Schumacher is known for as a director, you could say that he has an eye for talent. He cast Farrell in Tigerland which got the Dublin native noticed. I first saw him in the sci-fi action Minority Report alongside Tom Cruise, and then the Terrence Malick’s The New World. His foray into historical action hero in Alexander was ridiculed panned by critics, and he nearly became a Hollywood cliche with his womanizing ways and drug/alcohol abuse, but he manage to maneuver a career comeback with his Golden-Globe-winning turn in the Irish black comedy In Bruges (2008). His career choices haven’t always been solid (Total Recall remake, Winter’s Tale), but he’s certainly a talented actor. I think he’s wonderful in Saving Mr. Banks.
    ….
  2. Liam Neeson
    LiamNeesonProbably the most famous Irish actors of the bunch, Neeson is one of the hardest working actors right now. His diverse resume is impressive by any thespian standard. From historical figures (Michael Collins, Rob Roy, Schindler’s List), comic-book villain (Batman Begins), to playing bad-ass action star hell-bent on revenge (Taken), Neeson adds gravitas to any role he’s in. Can’t wait to see him as Zeus bellowing ‘Release the Kraken!!!’ in Clash of the Titans. The 61-year-old still looks amazing and obviously has the um, special skills to kick ass. Hollywood offered him to be the next action hero with Taken and he hasn’t looked back since. He probably will be doing action fares like Taken 254 & counting, or a variation of that genre, just like he did with Non-Stop. He’s definitely more watchable than a lot of younger action stars these days anyway, so why not?
    ….
  3. Saoirse Ronan
    SaoirseRonanShe may be only nineteen, but Ronan’s got that wise-beyond-her-years thing going for her, plus enormous talent to boot. She was phenomenal in Atonement as the little girl who couldn’t quite figure out how to channel her attraction to the opposite sex that led to disastrous consequences. She pretty much comes out unscathed even when The Lovely Bones bombed artistically and financially. Since Atonement, Ronan has worked for director Joe Wright again in Hanna as a 14-year old assassin. Boy, talk about range. She’s more than able to hold her own against the likes of Cate Blanchett. Since then, she continues to impress me in The Way Back, How I Live Now, as well as in the small role in The Grand Budapest Hotel. I wish there were more Irish ladies working in Hollywood today so miss Ronan isn’t alone on this list, but she’s the only one so far whose work I really admire.
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  4. Cillian Murphy
    CillianMurphyMost people recognize him as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, but his memorable role is perhaps in the zombie flick 28 Days Later. His impossibly chiseled cheekbones and dramatic eyes somehow make him the perfectly creepy yet sophisticated villain, as he displayed in the horror/thriller Red Eye. Renowned directors such as Christopher Nolan and Danny Boyle obviously like working with him, as he’s done two movies for Boyle (Sunshine & 28 Days Later) and Nolan also cast him in his Batman trilogy and Inception. Even in a mediocre movie like In Time, Murphy is usually the best thing in it.
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  5. Michael Fassbender
    MichaelFassbender(Ed note: Though he’s born in Germany, Fassbender is half-Irish and was raised in southwest Ireland)
    I’ve mentioned this guy A LOT on my blog lately and for good reason, he’s definitely eye-candy material but with acting chops to boot. Thanks to Zach Snyder for casting such great actors in 300 even in smaller roles, as I definitely noticed Fassbender as the loyal and valiant Stelios. He’s then proved his amazing range in transformational role in Hunger, and another indie darling Fish Tank which won him several nods from various European Film Festivals. He’s in yet another swords-n-sandals movie Centurion, but he definitely made an impression in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. He’s come a looong way since I put him on the original list 3 years ago. His versatility is always on display, whether in costume drama Jane Eyre (as the Byronic hero Rochester) or as a superhero villain Magneto in X-Men: First Class. He even garnered an Oscar nomination for his work in 12 Years A Slave.
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  6. Gabriel Byrne
    GabrielByrneI first noticed Byrne in The Point of No Return as Bridget Fonda’s sympathetic mentor. He may not always get the lead roles, but you always remember him (The Man in the Iron Mask, Little Women, The Usual Suspect, and Miller’s Crossing) The charismatic 63-year-old actor definitely still got the looks to go with all that talent, he won a Golden Globe last year for his performance as a psychotherapist in the HBO drama In Treatment. I cast him in one of my movie pitches, I think he’d be great in a crime noir like this one, wouldn’t you think?
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  7. Ciarán Hinds
    You may not know his name, but you certainly recognize this tall, dark and handsome Belfast native. His dark look makes him suitable to play people from different nationalities: English (Phantom of the Opera, Amazing Grace), (Israeli (Munich), Roman (as Julius Caesar in HBO’s Rome), Russian (The Sum of All Fears), and that’s just a sampling. His new indie flick set in his native homeland The Eclipse (NOT Twilight 3) is to be released this weekend. Glad to see him get the lead role for a change, hope he’d get another one in the future.
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  8. Kenneth Branagh
    KenBranaghFor all the Shakespearean work he’s done (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet), I initially thought Branagh was an Englishman. The RADA-educated actor had his start in theater when he joined The Royal Shakespeare Company at 23. Soon after he formed his own performance art company called The Renaissance Theatre Company, which counts Prince Charles as one of its royal patrons. He surely brought some of that artsy and sophisticated sensibilities into the comic book adaptation Thor. He’s more than capable doing double duties as actor and director, which he did in the recent reboot of the Jack Ryan movie Shadow Recruit.
    ….
  9. Brendan Gleeson
    BrendanGleesonThis character actor is always fun to watch even in a small role, i.e. as Alastor ‘Mad-­Eye’ Moody in Harry Potter series. But my favorite performance of his would have to be In Bruges with Colin Farrell. I’ve been meaning to see The Guard for ages but it’s not available to rent on iTunes, so I might have to bug my friend who has the Netflix dvd subscription to rent it for me. I’ve been dying to see what happens to At Swim-Two-Birds, which was supposed to be his directorial debut. I blogged about it 2 years ago and still no new news on that one 😦 Just check out the amazing Irish cast on that one, who wouldn’t want to see that come to life.
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  10. Michael Gambon
    MichaelGambonI first noticed the 74-year-old thespian as the evil tobacco executive in Michael Mann’s The Insider. He’s one of those actors who makes an impact even in a brief appearance. Some of his memorable supporting roles are The Wings of the Dove, Charlotte Gray, The King’s Speech and the latest one I saw was in Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet. He’s probably most well-known to mass audiences as Albus Dumbledore, when he replaced fellow Irishman the late Richard Harris in the Harry Potter series.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chris O’Dowd, Richard Harris, Ray Stevenson, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn, and Pierce Brosnan.


So, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day (or just the love for the Irish), who are YOUR favorite Irish actors?

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Introducing… Traveling Through Cinema: In Bruges

Hello everybody! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while so today I’m starting a new feature on FlixChatter! Not sure how often I’ll have this, probably once a month or a couple times a month, we’ll see 🙂

Well, since I love both movies and travel, why not combine those two passions? Inspired by my recent viewing of The Wings of the Dove which has a gorgeous scenery of Venice, I might as well start this feature this week. But for the feature debut, I want to do a movie that I saw on the plane which inspires me to actually visit later this year (God willing).

So… I present to you the beautiful scenery of …

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In Bruges was set in the picturesque city in Belgium and it’s practically one of the stars in the movie! Located in the northwest side of Belgium, the historic city center is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2000 (per Wiki). I marvel at the beautiful Medieval architecture and the gorgeous canals that were used for transportation, no wonder it’s dubbed the Venice of the North.

I love how the characters are also tourists from Belfast so we could live vicariously through them as we watch the movie. It’s a nice bonus to see such a beautifully-shot film that’s also loaded with such witty dialog (albeit too foul-mouthed for my liking, but I guess I have to live with that). Even in the opening sequence when Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) just arrive in town, the dialog is hilarious! By the order of their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), the two Irish hitmen are sent to lay low in the Medieval town in Belgium. Ken was pretty glad about the prospect of spending a fortnight there, but Ray doesn’t share his sentiment.

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Ray: Bruges is a shithole.
Ken: Bruges *is* not a shithole.
Ray: Bruges *is* a shithole.
Ken: Ray, we only just got off the f****** train! Could we reserve judgement on Bruges until we’ve seen the f****** place?

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I’ll be sure to visit this site when it gets closer to my travel date to Bruges, as it has all the filming locations and the scenes where they appear. But for this post, I just want to capture the glorious scenery of the film… both day and night.

Bruges during the day…

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Director Martin McDonaugh goofing off with his cast on set.

Yeah Brendan, I’d be laughing too if I get to spend weeks filming in Bruges!

Bruges at Night …

It’s so picturesque during the day, but at night this city is even more breathtakingly beautiful.

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This one has got to be one of the funniest scenes in the film.

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Ticket Seller: The tower is closed this evening.
Ken: No way, it’s supposed to be open until seven.
Ticket Seller: The tower is usually open until seven, yesterday an American had a heart attack at the tower, today the tower is closed.
Harry: [Harry hands ticket seller 100 Euros] Here cranky, here’s a hundred for you. Were only gonna be twenty minutes.
Ticket Seller: [crumples the money and throws it at Harry’s head]
Ticket Seller: [tapping on Harry’s forehead] The tower… is closed… this evening! Understand? English man!

The Bell Tower ticket guy obviously has no clue about Harry and what he could do, which makes the whole thing even more hilarious!! Brendan Gleeson’s expression in this whole scene is just priceless! I certainly hope when I get to the tower, the attendant wouldn’t be such a jerk, ahah.

Romance In Bruges

Since the film was set during the Christmas Holidays, the lights makes it even more stunning, not to mention romantic. Clemence Posey and Colin Farrell have an effortless chemistry… made even more bewitching by the glorious setting around them.

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In Bruges is destined to be a cult classic thanks to Martin McDonaugh‘s direction, but given the nature of the post, I have to shine a spotlight to the cinematographer: Eigil Bryld. Here’s a short bio on the Danish cinematographer per Focus Features:

Eigil Bryld previously was cinematographer on Julian Jarrold’s Becoming Jane for In Bruges producers Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin. He also shot the same director’s Kinky Boots. His other feature credits as cinematographer include James Marsh’s The King, starring Gael García Bernal and William Hurt; Hella Joof’s Oh Happy Day; and Scott Burns’ The Half Life of Timofey Berezin.

In 2003, Mr. Bryld won the award for Most Innovating Cinematography at the Madridimagen Festival in Madrid, for his work on Dariusz Steiness’ Charlie Butterfly. In 2001, he received a BAFTA Award for his work on James Marsh’s Wisconsin Death Trip.

Can you believe it he received NO award nor even nominations for his work in In Bruges?? What a travesty!

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McDonaugh at the belfry of Bruges, or Belfort, a medieval bell tower in the historical center of Bruges

If you haven’t seen In Bruges, yet. I highly recommend it. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally see it. I’d definitely re-watch this again on Blu-ray so I can really appreciate some of the details, those small TV screen on the plane just doesn’t do it justice!

Image sources: Fanpop.com, Blu-ray.com
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I hope you’ve enjoyed living vicariously through these pictures. Let me know your thoughts on the movie or if you’ve been to Bruges, feel free to share your experience there.

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Brendan Gleeson’s Passion Project At Swim Two Birds

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d highlight an upcoming Irish film starring actors and this one has been on my radar for some time, thanks to my Cillimaniac friend Novia 🙂

This project is actor Brendan Gleeson’s passion project he’s been working for quite a long time. And according to my friend Stella’s @ Byrneholics, Ireland’s Cultural Ambassador Gabriel Byrne announced that Gleeson has secured funding for the movie, yay!

Mr. Byrne himself is to be a part of the most awesome Irish ensemble cast ever! I mean we’re talking the who’s who of Irish cinema (most of whom are in my Top 10 Irish Actors list :D):

From top left: Byrne, Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Most of those actors have worked with Gleeson in various films. Gleeson’s son Domhnall (Bill Weasley in Harry Potter Part 7) has also been cast.

Whew! This is one of those movies that I’d run to the theater just for the cast and of course the Irish scenery as it’s likely to be filmed there.

The premise itself sounds intriguing. Here’s the book description from Amazon:

A wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds has influenced generations of writers, opening up new possibilities for what can be done in fiction. It is a true masterpiece of Irish literature.

Gleeson told Collider whilst promoting The Guard last August that “It’s one of the funniest and most anarchic novels I’ve ever read… It’s a great book but it’s kind of unfilmable in the way that the book was unwriteable.” But he confirmed that he’s got the script and so it’s just a matter of time for this project to be underway.

So how close to filming is this project?

“Well, fingers crossed, we’re trying to stitch it in this year. All things are going well but we’re not quite there yet. We’re hoping to be there in the next month or two to where we put a start date on it,” Gleeson said (via Irish Central). According to BBC UK back in Summer 2011, they’ve secured the funds for the project, but there hasn’t been any news since 😦

Mr Gleeson himself has been quite prolific lately, starring in three films in 2011: The Guard, Albert Nobbs, and The Cup, Safe House & The Raven in 2012  and The Calvary in 2014.

Oh man, I sure hope this film gets off the ground soon! I absolutely can’t wait to hear more about this one and hopefully filming happens soon and all the cast above will be involved!


What do you think folks? Interested in this one?