The London List Part II: Sixteen favorite actors born in the UK capital

The Happy and Glorious 2012 Olympics have come to a rocking end earlier today with a celebration of British pop-culture. Just because the Olympics is over though, doesn’t mean the London appreciation has to. The UK capital is one of my favorite city I have been blessed to visit.

Now for Part II, I decided to go with a top 16 instead of 10 for each day of the London 2012 Olympics, and also partly because there are too many London-born actors I love that it’s agonizing to keep it just 10. By the way, I’m including some of the nearby Suburbs of London as well.

Though I may not have seen ALL of their work, I am fond of these actors from seeing their performances in a number of projects [at least three in order to be eligible for this list]. So here they are in ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Emily Blunt

Born on February 23, 1983, in Roehampton, South West London. I first saw her in The Devil’s Wear Prada when she practically stole every scene. I’ve since seen her in half a dozen films and I think my favorite role of hers are in Jane Austen Book Club [I love her outfits in this movie too!], The Young Victoria, and Salmon Fishing in Yemen. There’s something about her demeanor that makes me connect with her right away. Did you know that she had a stammer when she was a kid? Apparently a teacher asked her to play a character with a different voice and it did the trick and her stammer disappeared.

Michael Caine

Born 14 March 1933, Rotherhithe, London. Who doesn’t love Michael Caine with his cockney accent? It’s practically iconic! I don’t know which is the first film I saw him in, it might’ve been Deathtrap with Christopher Reeve. But it’s his roles in Christopher Nolan’s movies [the Batman trilogy and The Prestige] that perhaps make him become a mainstream star. He’s one of those actors that is always watchable even in not-so-good movies [Miss Congeniality anyone?] My fave roles of him are Alfred, Jasper in Children of Men and Dr. Larch in The Cider House Rules. Did you know his real name is Maurice Micklewhite?

Dominic Cooper

June 2, 1978 in Greenwich, London. In the Liebster post, I asked which actor whom you initially don’t care for but somehow slowly warmed up to. I answered Matt Damon, but I could say the same about Dominic as I did not like his performance as Willoughby in the recent BBC adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, but then he started to pop up in all kinds of movies like An Education, Captain America, My Week with Marilyn, and most recently Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. You know what, I started enjoying seeing him on screen and I have to admit that he’s quite talented.
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Benedict Cumberbatch

Born July 19, 1976 in London. I first noticed the unconventionally-handsome bloke with a peculiar name as a cad in Atonement. But no doubt it’s his role in BBC’s Sherlock that impressed me and it no doubt opens a lot of doors for him as well. He was excellent in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Amazing Grace and even in his brief scenes in War Horse. With his upcoming roles in The Hobbit and Star Trek, it’s safe to say Benedict’s moment has definitely arrived.

Idris Elba

Born 6 September 1972, Hackney, London. It’s hard not to notice this tall, hunky East-Londoner when he comes into the screen. Though when I first saw him in some clips of The Wire, I thought he was American (his parents are from Sierra Leone and Ghana). His first role I saw was Rocknrolla, where he just lights up the screen as Gerry Butler’s partner in crime, Mumbles. He’s got such screen charisma and his Cockney accent is to-die-for, though I often just gaze at the way he speak that I don’t pay attention to what he had to say, ahah. I’ve since enjoyed seeing him in Thor and Prometheus, and even in an under-written role in The Losers, he’s still fun to watch. Glad to see him thriving in Hollywood and getting more roles, I think his leading role in Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi adventure Pacific Rim would likely make him an A-lister, if he isn’t already by now.

Tom Hardy

Born September 15, 1977 in Hammersmith, London. As they say, no matter how small a role is, it’s up to the actor to make it memorable. That’s what Hardy did in his scene-stealing performance in Inception with that awesome quote about ‘dreaming a little bigger.’ He has done a few exceptional performances before that though, his role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson shows his dedication to his craft and his range. Just like Cumberbatch, he impressed me in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy despite his limited screen time, and his heartfelt performance in Warrior should’ve been recognized in last year’s award season.

Tom Hiddleston

Born February 9, 1981 in Westminster, London. I’ve mentioned it several times before that his breakthrough role in THOR is what made me notice him. His Loki is perhaps one of my favorite superhero villains, but this RADA-trained actor’s certainly capable for more. I’ve since seen him in bit parts in War Horse and Midnight in Paris and I just love his gorgeous voice and charming screen presence. His impersonations are awesome, which are all over YouTube if you’re curious. I’d love to see more of him in Hollywood, he’ll be starring as a love-struck vampire in Jim Jarmusch’ Only Lovers Left Alive.

Jude Law

Born December 29, 1972 in Lewisham, London. One of the most gorgeous Brits with to-die-for green eyes are actually more versatile than I thought. I think The Talented Mr. Ripley was one of the earliest roles I saw him in, but he’s since starred in a whole bunch of films playing a variety of characters. I think I’ve seen him in about a dozen films now, but I don’t know what my favorite role of his would be. Surely one of his memorable is his villainous turn in Road to Perdition.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Born April 29, 1957 in Greenwich, London. I heard that he’s often referred to as the English Robert De Niro. I don’t know about you, but I think he’s far more consistent than his acting hero. The celebrated actor isn’t the most prolific due to his exhaustive preparations for his roles. His intense performance in The Last of the Mohicans and heart-wrenching one The Age of Innocence blew me away, though a few of his key roles such as My Left Foot and The Crucible still eluded me. Did you know that Day-Lewis actually pursued the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction after Michael Madsen wasn’t available?

Alfred Molina

Born May 24, 1953 in London. Believe it or not, I first noticed Mr. Molina years ago in a very unsympathetic role. He played a brutish Iranian husband in Not Without My Father with Sally Field. His Spanish/Italian heritage makes him so versatile that he could play almost any ethnicity, but it’s also his screen presence that makes him so compelling to watch. I like him in Chocolat, An Education and as a sympathetic villain in Spider-man 2.

Carey Mulligan

Born May 28, 1985 in Westminster, London. I’ve only just seen her less than 2 years ago in her breaking role in An Education. But immediately I like seeing her, she has this sympathetic vibe about her and she’s less pouty than her co-star in Pride and Prejudice and Never Let Me Go. In fact, it’s Carey’s role in that heartbreaking film that made me a fan, she has this very soothing voice as well. Looking forward to seeing her in The Great Gatsby, too bad that movie got delayed until next year.

Gary Oldman

Born March 21, 1958 in New Cross, London. He’s friggin’ Gary Oldman. Need I say more? Well, I will say a bit more. His villainous role in The Professional certainly is not easy to forget, he’s one of those memorable bad guys you love to hate. Then he blew me away as Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, but like Michael Caine, his roles in the Batman trilogy and Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azkaban also shows he’s just as compelling in blockbuster films. I’m not as enamored with the film but his role as a seasoned spy in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was definitely Oscar-worthy. [related post: Chat-worthy Thespian Gary Oldman]

Alan Rickman

Born February 21, 1946 in Hammersmith, London. Wouldn’t you believe it that the first time I saw him in Truly, Madly, Deeply I was not smitten with him? I was only 18 then so what did I know, right? But then his deliciously evil performance as Hans Gruber makes him a favorite amongst action fans, including yours truly. Yet Rickman is perhaps the few actors whose bad guy roles such as in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves are equally as memorable as his good ones. After all, he is one of my favorite period drama heroes. I also love his comedic chops in Galaxy Quest and the enigmatic Severus Snape is definitely my top favorite Harry Potter characters.

Rufus Sewell

Born October 29, 1967 in Twickenham, suburban London. This is an obvious one as I’ve mentioned the gorgeous Brit often in this blog. Why he’s not more famous and often relegated to supporting roles is beyond me. Sewell is not only VERY easy on the eye but he’s immensely talented and versatile. Whether it’s sci-fi (Dark City), period dramas (Dangerous Beauty, Tristan + Isolde), a Shakespeare adaptation [Shakespeare-Told’s The Taming of the Shrew] or a James Bond-like detective (BBC’s ZEN), we can expect a top notch performance from this raspy-voiced actor. Oh, he makes for a juicy vampire too! Can’t believe he had not played one before Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter as he sure is one sexy prince of darkness! [related post: 44 Reasons We Love Rufus Sewell, Spotlight on BBC Zen]

Mark Strong

Born August 30, 1963 in London. The Italian/Austrian actor (whose real name is Marco Giuseppe Salussolia) first came to my attention as the creepy, limping bloke who beat up my Gerry Butler in BBC’s miniseries The Jury. Yep, that was before he co-starred with GB again in Rocknrolla. Like Molina, Strong also had that ‘ethnic’ look that allow him to play characters of various ethnicity, including a Jordanian Prince in Body of Lies. I feel that he’s got the chops and charisma to play leading roles, but for some reason he’s typecast as villains or unsympathetic supporting roles. I read that he doesn’t mind it though and if you’re looking at his IMDb resume, he’s busier than ever with about five films coming out in 2013, and that’s not counting his TV projects. Good for him! [related role: Actor Spotlight: Mark Strong]

Emma Thompson

Born April 15, 1959 in Paddington, London. I think the fact that she wrote the script for one of my all time favorite film Sense & Sensibility will automatically places her in my good graces forever, but she is also a wonderful actress. Interesting that she used to be married to one of my top 10 Irish thespians Kenneth Branagh. It’s in one of his films, Much Ado About Nothing, that I first noticed her in. Her subsequent roles in The Remains of the Day, Love Actually, Stranger Than Fiction and Last Chance Harvey, Brave (voicing Merida’s mother Elinor)are all wonderful, but S&S‘ Elinor Dashwood shall always be my personal favorite.

Honorable Mentions:

Special Honorable Mention: Sophia Myles
*She was originally on the main list but I had to swap her with Idris Elba who I inadvertently left off the list as I thought he was not born in London.

Born May 18, 1980 in London. Sophia is the only actor here where I noticed from a TV show. I LOVE Sophia as Beth in Moonlight, one of my guilty pleasure show about vampires that’s prematurely canceled. She really is one of the best things on that show. She reminds me a lot of Kate Winslet, especially in the Jane Austen adaptation Mansfield Park in a small role. For some reason, her career didn’t take off after her leading role in Tristan + Isolde. It’s too bad as I think she’s quite talented. I hope she’ll get another big break one of these days.

Other awesome Londoners who’ve made it in Hollywood:

  • Hayley Atwell
  • Helena Bonham-Carter
  • Rebecca Hall
  • Emily Mortimer
  • Thandie Newton
  • Andy Serkis
  • Rachel Weisz


Check out Part I of Favorite London Scenes if you haven’t already



So what’s YOUR favorite London-born actor(s). Do fill me in if they’re not on this list and share your favorite role of him/her.

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: The Great Gatsby

One of my new year resolutions this year is to read more. Currently I’m still trying to finish up Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which is quite challenging, but I’m determined to get through the whole thing.

The next one I’ll be tackling on is The Great Gatsby. I don’t know why but ever since I saw Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris, I had been reading more about the author. Then a couple of days ago I saw this trailer of Fitzgerald’s biographical drama Beloved Infidel, based on the memoir of his mistress Sheilah Graham. Toward the end of his life, Fitzgerald was writing for Hollywood studios to be able to afford the cost of an asylum for his wife Zelda, all the while battling against alcoholism. With Gregory Peck as the author and Deborah Kerr as Sheilah, I’m adding this one to my GP collection 🙂

Now, back to The Great Gatsby, which is considered Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. Here are some of the reasons I’m looking forward to this film:

The story

In case you’re not familiar with the basic premise of the novel:

Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.

I can see why this novel was so well-received and has that timeless quality about it. This Washington Post reviewer said “… no American novel comes closer than “Gatsby” to surpassing literary artistry, and none tells us more about ourselves… Fitzgerald gives us a meditation on some of this country’s most central ideas, themes, yearnings and preoccupations: the quest for a new life, the preoccupation with class, the hunger for riches…”  Wow, I can’t wait to finally start reading it!

The Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio: Jay Gatsby
Carey Mulligan: Daisy Buchanan
Tobey Maguire: Nick Carraway
Joel Edgerton: Tom Buchanan

Luhrmann has assembled a pretty decent cast here. Before James Cameron made into a mega movie star, Luhrmann already tapped on Leo’s heartthrob potential in his modern Shakespeare adaptation Romeo + Juliet. I think Leo has the looks and perhaps the charm to pull off the aloof and elusive Jay Gatsby. He’s ok as Howard Hughes in The Aviator, but I’d say his performance was serviceable, not great. He’s grown quite a bit as an actor since though, so I’m hopeful he can do this role justice.

Apparently every young actress in Hollywood was vying for the role of Daisy, I mean check out this list of names per IMDb trivia: Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, Abbie Cornish, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Eva Green, Anne Hathaway, Olivia Wilde, Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson were considered to play Daisy Buchanan. Well I’m certainly glad Mulligan got the role, the Brit certainly has the range to portray a young American debutant. As Daisy’s obsession with money and luxury doesn’t exactly make her a likable character, it’s critical to cast an an actress who’s inherently sympathetic as well as beautiful.

Now I think Tobey Maguire is perfectly cast as the quiet, reflective Midwesterner (from Minnesota to be exact, just like the novel’s author) who’s drawn to the fun, lavish lifestyle of the rich New Yorkers. Not sure if they’re going to use Nick as the narrator like in the novel, but I think Tobey’s got the right disposition to portray the inner conflict of this character. In a way he is Gatsby’s antithesis, which I find interesting as both Gatsby and Carraway seem to represent the dual personality of Fitzgerald himself.

Though Tom Buchanan is more of a supporting role, I think Edgerton has the chops to make the character memorable. I was really impressed with him in Warrior, so I’m glad he’s cast in more prominent projects.

The Director

The Great Gatsby has been filmed six times before, with the most famous one to date being the 1974 film version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. I actually haven’t seen ANY adaptation of The Great Gatsby, though I might rent the 1974 version before this film opens.

This seventh motion picture adaptation will be at the helm of Aussie director Baz Luhrmann. I think Luhrmann would do well projects like this, he’s got an artistic eye for a costume drama, and he’s proven that he could craft an engaging romance (i.e. Romeo + JulietMoulin Rouge!). This is Luhrmann’s first big-budget production since the disappointment of the $130-million Australia. The Hugh Jackman/Nicole Kidman starrer was not a critical nor financial success, earning only a third of of the production cost. Luhrmann aimed for something akin to Gone With the Wind but it was more like the overblown Duel in the Sun. Let’s hope he’s learned some things from that experience to put to good use on this project.

The Setting

There is something so enchanting about the 1920s. No wonder Gil in Midnight in Paris is so obsessed with that era. The cars, the clothes, the jazz music… I guess they don’t call it the Roaring Twenties for nothing. A period of sustained economic prosperity in the wake of WWI and pre-Great Depression sure makes for intriguing tales of lavish proportion.

Moulin Rouge! won two Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction, and rightly so. The turn-of-the-century set pieces and clothing in that movie are gorgeous to behold. I have faith that Luhrmann would bring the same kind of artistry and meticulous craftsmanship to this film. As pictures from the set have surfaced, the cast look beautiful in their 1920s costumes.

The filming is currently taking place in Australia. According to the Daily Telegraph, Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin will re-create famous New York and Long Island landmarks from the 1920s.

Now, as beautiful as those set pieces are, it’s the story and performances that what would make a lasting impression. Which brings me to…

One area of concern…

Luhrmann is shooting this movie in 3D!! What, what?? Goodness me, I think Fitzgerald might be squirming in his grave. I think I can speak for most people that we want the right mix of visual appeal and rich human drama. Now, it’s highly likely that the movie would look good, but would the use of 3D actually help enhance the human drama?? I doubt it.

I think this quote from Dave Calhoun, film editor of Time Out, in this Guardian article said it best, “If you’re spending time worrying about how to make Gatsby’s hat poke out of the screen or Daisy’s necklace float in front of your eyes, what else are your spending time not worrying about,” he said. “Story? Dialogue? Pace? Acting? Character?”

I truly hope that Luhrmann could add some value by using 3D here, that it’d be worth the extra cost for us to see this. It’d be a shame if it actually distracts from the story, especially one as intriguing as The Great Gatsby! I guess we’ll find out on Christmas day this year.


Any thoughts on this film? Is this one a must-see or meh in your book? I’d also like to know if you’ve seen a previous adaptation of this famed novel.

First Look: Machine Gun Preacher, Shame & Margin Call

Hi all, can I just say for the record that I LOVE Twitter!! I get most of my news from there and it keeps me informed even when I’m out and about on holiday… and in turn I can also inform folks of what’s going on right at that very second something is happening (i.e. when I was at Comic-con). Ok now, before you accuse me of working for Twitter, I just wanna highlight three brand spankin’ movie updates that are worth a look.

MACHINE GUN PREACHER

I can’t believe it’s been exactly a year ago that I posted these behind-the-scene photos of Gerry Butler on the set of Machine Gun Preacher, and we still haven’t got a trailer!

The only official thing they’ve released is this photo of him in Africa as Sam Childers, the former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been kidnapped and pressed into duty as soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army. The story is based on Childer’s autobiography, Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan, and Butler has personally met with the preacher and both of them are promoting the film together, I posted a photo of both of them here.

I found the photo from USA Today, in which Butler described Childers as ‘a guy of our times.’ “There is more complexity in a modern-day character who’s a drug addict and a biker turned businessman, missionary and soldier. You don’t get roles like this very often,” the actor said. Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction) explained his rationale for picking Butler to portray the flawed hero, “He’s one of those movie stars today that I feel is a real man. There are very few around. He has this incredible rawness.” I absolutely agree! I know a lot of people doubt Butler’s talent as an actor but I feel that this year is his moment to shine and prove those people wrong.

I’m also happy to report that both his films Coriolanus and this one will premiere at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) starting September 8th, you can see the full program here. According to the film bio, Machine Gun Preacher runs 123 minutes and Butler also serves as executive producer. This film opens on limited release on Sept. 23, hope it’ll open nationwide not too long after that.

SHAME

This is another film that’ll premiere at TIFF. It stars the ubiquitous Michael Fassbender as a New York man who’s confronting his sexual compulsions and the self-destructive acts of his sister (Carey Mulligan). This is his second collaboration with Hunger director Steve McQueen (the British filmmaker, not the famous classic actor).

Check out the photos below courtesy of SlashFilm:

As you know, I like Fassbender and he’s really on a roll right now. Obviously Hollywood loves him and he’s in the right age where there are tons of roles available to him. It’s great to see him maximize his versatility to the fullest, playing anywhere from a superhero villain in X-Men: First Class, a historical character Carl Jung in Dangerous Method, a bad ass spy in Haywire and now this. I also admire Carey Mulligan after seeing her in An Education and Never Let Me Go. The subject matter isn’t very appealing, but depending on the trailer and reviews, I’d be willing to give this one a shot.

MARGIN CALL

I had never even heard of this one until I saw this trailer today.

Woof! That looks mighty intense. On initial viewing, it kinda reminds me of Wall Street + The Insider and seeing Demi Moore there, a bit of Disclosure. I always appreciate a smart, taut thriller and this one certainly looks promising I’m not good at all with numbers though, so there’s a chance the plot might go a bit over my head.

The ensemble cast is impressive: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy IronsStanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Penn Badgley, and Demi Moore. Ok so I’ve never seen anything Badgley does so he’s probably the only odd man out in this list. I had just seen Tucci in Captain America, and he’s always excellent despite his brief appearance, so he probably will be just as compelling here. Spacey seems to be drawn into ‘office’ type roles lately, I see him in business suits an awful lot, whilst Jeremy Irons seems to struggle with his American accent. He always sounds like Jeremy Irons no matter what movie he’s in 🙂

I find Quinto to be the most interesting one to watch here, he’s definitely the most promising actor out of NBC’s Heroes. FirstShowing said this movie is one of his favorites from Sundance, “…a dramatic thriller that does put you on the edge of your seat while waiting to see how everything plays out on the eve of a financial meltdown that we’re all very familiar with. Not only is it timely, not only is it entertaining, but it’s just riveting to watch.”

A good thriller doesn’t always need to have a car chase or shootout in it, it’s the impact of what a certain discovery might bring that puts you at the edge of your seat.


Does any one of these interest you, folks? Anyone going to TIFF this year?

Weekend Roundup: Never Let Me Go review

Welcome to May, everybody. For having endured a pretty cold and snowy Winter, I’m certainly glad Spring has arrived and Summer is upon us! I was fortunate enough to watch not one but two excellent sci-fi movies this weekend, a genre I like especially if it’s the thought-provoking kind. And both Never Let Me Go and Source Code (to be reviewed at a later date) definitely fit that category.

NEVER LET ME GO

I first heard about this film when I saw the absolutely gorgeous, evocative poster for it and it’s one of my top ten fave posters last year. I was so intrigued when I saw the mysterious trailer that I had to find out what the Kazuo Ishiguro‘s novel is all about. All I can tell you is that the trailer did a fantastic job in keeping the twist under wraps.

The film tells us right away in its opening text that there has been a medical breakthrough in 1952 that is key to expanding the human lifespan beyond 100 years. Carey Mulligan narrates the story with an ever soothing voice as 28-year-old Kathy H. (It’s reminiscent of Cate Blanchett’s as Galadriel in the Lord of The Rings) and the film is seen through her viewpoint. The film then goes into flashback mode into Kathy’s childhood in an idyllic English boarding school named Hailsham, where she befriended Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield).

The kids at Hailsham, live in a world and time that seems familiar to us, but yet as the scenes unfold, we have an inkling that it’s quite unlike anything we know or experience. For one, none of us have to scan our wrist going in and out a building. The headmaster tell the kids that they are ‘special’ and keeping themselves healthy is a paramount importance, which should clue you in about the very purpose of their existence. Words like ‘completion’, ‘deferral’ and ‘carer’ all have totally different meaning when used in the context of their situation. The reaction of the outside world, such as the way the delivery people look at them, also provide clues to the kind of realities Kathy, Ruth and Tommy face.

The monumental question of ‘what does it mean to be human?‘ isn’t something new, plenty of other films before it such as Blade Runner have made us ponder about the ‘who, what, where and why’ of our existence and its fleeting nature. But what’s unique about Mark Romanek‘s direction from Alex Garland’s script is that the film doesn’t feel like you are watching a sci-fi. The subtle way the haunting realities are revealed are ever so subtle, but the impact are no less pungent. Yes, the pace is decidedly s-l-o-w, but I actually appreciate its gracefulness and understated elegance. The romantic drama sensibilities offer a stark contrast to the cerebral sci-fi nature of the story.

This film is achingly painful to watch at times… and stays with me long after the credits roll. Though the author and filmmaker don’t spoon-feed their opinions on the matter, it’s arguably a cautionary tale against science in the absence of ethics, no matter how ‘noble’ the cause seems to be. I hope people who watch this realize what happens when they try to play God. The unnerving part for me is how the subjects themselves react to the fate they’re subjected to before they’re even formed, even when Tommy screams of injustice (in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes), that’s as far as it goes. The same way when Kathy experiences a personal betrayal from someone closest to her, there’s not a hint of retaliation on her part. Perhaps that’s how they’re ‘wired’… I don’t know, but it’s heartbreaking to watch.

It’s hard to say that I ‘enjoyed’ this film because of the reasons stated above, but I have to say I admire and appreciate it immensely. Beautifully-shot in muted hues that perfectly match the somber tone of the film, it also boast top notch performances. As Paolo noted in his comment on the poster post, I too am glad that Knightley plays second fiddle to Mulligan here, and not the other way around. I compared Mulligan’s voice to Blanchett’s above, and I could easily say the same thing about her nuanced acting. I’m already impressed by her performance in An Education, and she proves once again she’s one of the best young actresses working today. Garfield and Knightley are both good and affecting in their roles, and Izzy Meikle-Small is brilliant as well as the younger Kathy. But it’s Mulligan who carries this movie with her refined poise, she truly is the heart and soul of the movie. Charlotte Rampling and Sally Hawkins also turn in memorable performances as teachers of Hailsham who ultimately don’t see eye to eye about the mission of the school.

Overall, it’s a rather bleak piece but one that’s worth a watch for those on the lookout for an exquisitely-done sci-fi drama that packs an emotional wallop. This one definitely won’t be just a fleeting existence in my cinematic memory.

4halfReels


Well, what did you end up seeing this weekend? Or if you’ve seen Never Let Me Go, I’d love to hear what you think.

Musings on An Education

Jenny, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student has her world turned upside down when she meet a worldly suitor, David, who seduces her with her glamorous lifestyle and charming existence. Set in early 60s London, both Jenny and her parents are in for ‘an education’ when David’s true nature is finally revealed.

  • Though dealing with a disturbing subject matter,  this movie is as charming as the main character, wooing the audience with gorgeous cinematography of London and Paris, stylish clothes, beautiful music and even more splendid performances. It’s a good looking movie that captures the 60s era nicely and presents a stark contrast between the rather stodgy UK and the lively, joie de vivre French sensibilities.
  • It’s an unlikely ‘feel-good’ drama that still feels romantic even though you know there’s something unsettling brimming under the surface. Something that’s too good to be true usually is, and our naive protagonist ends up learning the hard way.
  • Carey Mulligan is sublime. She is in almost every scene and truly carries the movie in her delicate shoulders with her mesmerizing performance as both an innocent and serious schoolgirl and that of an elegant socialite.
  • I have seen Peter Sarsgaard in various things before, but I’ve always remembered him as John Malkovich’s virtuous son in The Man in the Iron Mask. But his performance here is noteworthy not only because he pulls off a believable British accent (he’s from Illinois).
  • The devil comes in attractive packages indeed, disguised as a cultured, charismatic, soft-spoken gentleman by the name of David Goldman. Sarsgaard plays the scoundrel in such a way he comes across like a monster that he is… not because the character is trying so desperately to hide it, more so because he doesn’t think he is a monster. But the fact is, guys who prey on girls half their age are creepy, and the more sophisticated they are, the more reason to beware. Especially one who has the power not to only seduce a teenage girl but her supposedly wise middle-aged parents in the process!
  • An Education is filled with fine performance all around. I just LOVE Alfred Molina! Even playing an infuriatingly strict father of Jenny, he refuses to simply give a one-note portrayal. Dominic Cooper & Rosamund Pike are both effective as David’s friends and partner in crime in his shady business practices. And the always watchable Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams were excellent in their brief appearances, though I feel they’re somewhat underused here.
  • We all know book education is VERY different from life education and there is no shortcuts for either in order to get it right. This isn’t just a moral lesson for the young though, even those who think we’re older and wiser may still may fall prey to deception when they’re not careful.
  • Author/screenwriter Nick Hornby is no stranger to a coming-of-age story, he dealt with that in About A Boy. Though the boy in the title actually helps a 38-year-old man who needs some growing up to do. Just as he did in there, Hornby peppered this movie with witty dialogue and
  • Wonderful story that seems to end too soon, it felt rushed towards the end when the flow had been right up until she found out who David really is. At 1 hour 35 minutes, I wish they spend a bit more time towards the end as Jenny deals with the ramification of her decision. Instead, there are far too many in the Deleted Scenes list that could’ve been incorporated into the movie.

Glad I finally saw this movie, it’s definitely worth watching though hardly a perfect film. As Peter from Magic Lantern Film said in the comments last Monday, it’s a strong film but perhaps not worthy of a Best Picture nominations. I share that sentiment, though after seeing Mulligan’s performance here, I do think she was totally robbed of an Oscar!

Have you seen this movie? Well, what did you think?

Poster of the Week: Never Let Me Go

Upon seeing this lovely poster, I just might make a weekly Poster Feature post from now on. There is always a new being released every day and it’s fun to look at them. But every once in a while, a poster catches your breath away, not so much for how it looks—though it’s indeed gorgeous–but for the evocative tone it sets. Where a lot of posters tend to want to jam everything in, not to mention the floating head syndrome that bug the heck out of me, the simplicity of this poster is just striking. It feels blissful and innocent, yet somehow you know there is more to it than meets the eye. The fact that the lower part of the word GO is cut off is like a little clue.

Per Wikipedia, Never Let Me Go is based on a novel by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize (an award Ishiguro had previously won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day), and was named best novel of 2005 by TIME magazine.

The movie stars Carey Mulligan (An Education), Andrew Garfield (the young Brit who’s recently cast as Spiderman), and Keira Knightley, as Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, respectively. The three of them live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart. – description per Filmofilia.

Its trailer’s just been released also, I’ll post that sometime later today here it is below:

I said above that ‘…there’s more than meets the eye’ in the poster, well, the trailer definitely alludes to the fact that this isn’t an ordinary school, the kids aren’t who you think they are, basically, this movie isn’t a typical coming-of-age story at all. Those who’ve read the book or familiar with the story already knew this, but I absolutely had no idea what it was really about until I read Wikipedia and some reviews about the book. Whoa, suffice to say I was flabbergasted. Kudos to Ishiguro and the filmmaker in keeping it so enigmatic and ever so subtle. I guess I should’ve guessed when it’s billed as a sci-fi novel, but nope, didn’t see that one coming.

Yeah, I’m definitely intrigued.

TEN Notable Foreign Actors to Watch

I love lists. Don’t you? I consider myself sort of a list-a-holic, well as far as movies are concerned of course.

As with any list, it’s a matter of opinion/preference, and it’s impossible to please everyone, as is often the case with my other top ten lists. This one in particular is not meant to be a prediction of ‘the next big thing,’ whatever the heck that means, but more of an indication that these non-American actors have been generating some buzz for current or upcoming flix, or accolades for their performance in the past year. The criteria is that they’re virtually unknown to the average moviegoing public (even if they have seen their movies), but are definitely on the radar of cinephiles and movie bloggers alike. I’m also excluding those who’ve won or been nominated for major Hollywood awards such as Golden Globes or Oscar as that means they have ‘graduated’ from this list (i.e. Marion Cottilard, who won Best Actress Oscar for La vie en rose last year).

Anyhoo, I’m sure there are far more than 10 people that belong on this list, so I’m keeping the age range between 20-40 years old and that they’ve at least been on my radar. So, without further ado, here they are:

FlixChatter's Top Ten Foreign Actors to Watch
FlixChatter’s Top Ten Foreign Actors to Watch
  1. Tom Hardy (Bronson, Rocknrolla)
    This 32-year-old actor first came to my attention in Rocknrolla and got rave reviews for playing Charles Bronson in Bronson. He’s got good comic skills but can pull off a drama/thriller convincingly. That versatility will surely keep him from being typecast in a given role. We’ll see him next in Chris Nolan’s Inception and the new Mad Max action adventure Fury Road, two projects that’d surely put his name on the Hollywood map.
    ….
  2. Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation, Avatar, Clash of the Titans)
    I’m beginning to sound like a broken record when it comes to this Aussie thespian. My friend Mike asked me a few months ago who’s the next big thing when it comes to actors, and my answer remains the same today. This rugged actor’s got an undeniable charisma and intelligent strength in the vein of Russell Crowe and Gerard Butler. He’s the reason I haven’t ruled out seeing Terminator Salvation on DVD (eclipsing even the great Christian Bale!) and a big factor why I can’t wait to see Avatar. Hollywood’s definitely fallen in love with him, as evidenced in the barrage of roles poured upon him. No surprise there. Surely I’m not the only one who’d rather pay 10 bucks to see this guy than Brad Pitt any day! He’s quite a fascinating guy off-screen too, just check out the bad-ass Esquire interview.
    ….
  3. Carey Mulligan (An Education)
    I hardly noticed her as Kitty Bennett in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, but the movie blogs and sites have been abuzz with praises for her performance in An Education. She’s won all kinds of breakthrough awards — including Berlinale‘s Shooting Star Award —and she could very well be a shoo-in for next year’s Oscar. Her next projects are a good mix of more mainstream stuff (Wall Street sequel), as well as smaller artsy one (Never Let Me Go with Keira Knightley). With talent like this, we’ll be seeing more of miss Mulligan.
    ….
  4. Tobey Kebbell (Rocknrolla, Prince of Persia)
    I just realized that three actors on this list have been in Rocknrolla! Pure coincidence really, but it goes to show how Guy Ritchie’s pretty good at spotting real talents (as he pretty much ‘discovered’ Jason Statham). Like his co-star Mark Strong, Kebbell is quite a versatile character actor with serious screen presence. He’ll appear in the Bruckheimer’s Prince of Persia movie, and was recently cast as John Wilkes Booth in Robert Redford’s The Conspirator.
    ….
  5. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Inside Man, American Gangster, Children of Men)
    I always calls him the guy with the impossible name to pronounce but I sure notice him every time he comes on screen. I particularly liked him in Children of Men, such passion in his performance, but you can say that in almost any role he’s in (well, except perhaps Love, Actually). The handsome London-born actor could very well be the next Denzel, oh and if the Broccolis are ready to make a Black James Bond, he would be an excellent contender.
    ….
  6. Michael Fassbender (300, Hunger, Inglorious Basterds)
    300 sure made Gerry Butler a star, but the flick’s got quite a few other talented actors as well. Vincent Regan, Dominic West, David Wenham … but it’s Fassbender who got the best lines as Stelios with his ‘Then we’d fight in the shade’ and ‘Beautiful death’ quips. This German-born actor who grew up in Ireland has been catching all sorts of buzz for his notable turn in Fish Tank, Inglorious Basterds and Hunger. In the last one, he dropped down to 130 pounds (he’s 6-feet tall!) to play Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands. I always admire actors who willingly suffer for their art like that. I’m intrigued by his upcoming Roman-themed actioner with 300 alum Dominic West called Centurion. I guess I have a penchant for men in leather skirts =)
    ……..
  7. Abbie Cornish (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Bright Star)
    She’s perhaps known in the gossip columns as the actress that broke up Reese Witherspoon/Ryan Phillipe’s marriage. Be that as it may, the Aussie actress is definitely buzz-worthy for her acting. She stole scenes in Elizabeth, and that’s saying a lot given that Cate Blanchett is the lead actress! She also drew rave reviews for her performance in Candy with Heath Ledger, as well as in the recently released  Bright Star — an aptly named film indeed as her co-star Ben Whishaw is another talent whose star will shine brightly for years to come.
    ….
  8. Sharlto Copley (District 9)
    If you have any qualms why he’s on this list, just check out District 9. I’ve been touting this South-African actor ever since that sci-fi flick came out this past Summer. The fact that he’s got virtually zero acting experience made his haunting performance even more fascinating. It remains to be seen if he could act sans his thick Afrikaans-English accent though. So far he’s only got The A-Team reboot listed for his next project, but I sure hope he’s got more dramatic roles lined up soon.
  9. Gemma Arterton (Rocknrolla, Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia)
    Like his Clash of the Titans co-star Sam Worthington, Arterton has been offered a plethora of high profile roles in the past couple of years. Her diverse resume include everything from literary adaptations (Wuthering Heights, Lost in Austen) to big-budgeted fantasy flicks like the two mentioned above. The prestigious RADA grad’s career is so enviably juicy right now it’s mindboggling the fact that her first acting role was only as far back as 2007!
    ….
  10. Ben Whishaw
    I have to admit I have not seen one film of his, but I’m going to make an exception because well, it’s my blog darn it =) I first saw him in the creepy Perfume trailer, then Brideshead Revisited, and most recently Bright Star. There’s a calm intensity & understated sexiness about him that’s quite magnetic. The fact that he’s not exactly movie-star handsome actually makes him more all the more interesting.

Honorable mentions:

Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, 21, Fifty Dead Men Walking)

Rupert Friend (Cheri, The Young Victoria)

Idris Elba (Rocknrolla, Obssessed)

Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, Dorian Gray)

Ben Barnes (Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Dorian Gray)


Well, what do you think folks? Any new talent you noticed recently? Would love to hear from you.