Guest Review: Bleed For This (2016)

guestpostbleedforthis

I was a little nervous to write this review. My first two posts for FlixChatter (Ouija and The Eyes Of My Mother) were for horror movies-a genre I enjoy and feel comfortable writing about- so being assigned a movie outside of my wheelhouse was a little daunting, especially considering this one is a boxing movie. I am not remotely a sports person. When I voiced my concerns to my sister, she pointed out that regardless of the subject, a good movie should make me empathize with the main character. I should be able to relate to their struggle and their eagerness to achieve their goals. Was I able to do that in Bleed for This? No. Not really. And for a movie like this, that is really a problem.

Bleed for This tells the true story of Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), a world champion boxer who suffers a near-fatal car crash, breaking his neck and being told he may never walk again, let alone fight. Despite this major injury, concern from his parents (Katey Sagal and Ciaran Hinds), and lack of support from his manager (Ted Levine), he works relentlessly to not only heal, but return to his former strength and fight again.

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A story like this should be tense and emotional, but it was surprisingly underwhelming. This mostly has to do with poor pacing. A substantial amount of the first half of the movie was dedicated to introducing Vinny and establishing his identity as a boxer, but the events following his car crash-specifically, his journey to recovery- were rushed, showing very little of his physical challenges or his emotional turmoil over potentially never boxing again. We see him struggle to lift a barbell in his parents’ basement which created a moment of suspense (would he be able to even move it? Would he injure himself further?), but the subsequent training montage with trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) is brief and shows virtually no extreme effort, so when he finally enters the ring again, it doesn’t feel like as enormous of an achievement as it should.

bleedforthis_milesteller

Vinny’s feelings about his boxing career possibly ending could have been addressed better as well. Before the accident, his manager suggests he consider retiring, infuriating Vinny; he can’t imagine ever not being a boxer, but when he’s presented with that very real possibility after the car crash, we don’t really see him explore his feelings about it, which seems strange after making such a big deal about his commitment to boxing in the first act.

That’s not to say the movie didn’t have its good points. It had a strong cast, and the chemistry between Teller and Eckhart was especially impressive. There were a few moments of genuine tension toward the end of the film- but not enough to save it from being boring overall.

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I’m sure the real Vinny Pazienza’s recovery was incredibly difficult. I’m sure the training was exhausting and painful and required unbelievable self-discipline, and the idea that he might not reach his goal was probably terrifying. But if none of that is conveyed, what’s the point of making a movie about it at all?


laurasLaura Schaubschlager is a Winona State University graduate with a B.A. in English, which is seldom put to use in my health insurance career (outside of cringing at the grammatical errors my superiors make in their emails). I’m an avid horror fan (movies, novels, video games- anything that makes me hesitate when I go to turn off the light at night), and I’m always looking for writing opportunities, although my current portfolio is made up of partially-completed short stories and an occasionally-updated blog: schaublahblah.wordpress.com.


Have you seen ‘Bleed For This’? Well, what did 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 😀

GuinessStorehouseSign

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.
    ….
  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.
    ….
  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.
    ….
  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?
    ….
  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.
    ….
  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.
    ….
  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.

….

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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FlixChatter Review: John Carter (2012)

This is one of those movies I just didn’t really care for from the first time I heard about it, and the trailer didn’t really convince me otherwise. But my hubby really wanted to see it and I must admit I became more curious after reading some positive reviews, such as this one from my pal Terrence.

Just as I enjoyed Hunger Games more having read the book, perhaps it would’ve helped me understand the film better if I had done the same here. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ adventure novel was apparently massively popular and the story has inspired many filmmakers like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. I heard some reviews that says the movie is ripping off Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Avatar, etc., when in fact, it’s really the other way around. Even the filmmakers themselves, even the creator of Superman, admitted that they were inspired by Burroughs’ work. Why they didn’t leverage that point in the film’s marketing is beyond me. This article even cited George Lucas describing described his Star Wars story as being set “in the grand tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars.” 

It’s the kind of review where I have to turn to Wikipedia to make sure I get the details right. The story takes place in the late 1800. Former Civil War captain John Carter somehow ended up in a cave of gold whilst on the run from a group of Cavalry officers and Apache Indians. It’s there that he encountered a strange figure whose medallion accidentally teleported him all the way to Mars. In the intro, it’s explained that Mars (called Barsoom by the inhabitants) is not a “dead planet”, but rather a dying one inhabited by warring civilizations with great airships.

The various ethnic groups of Mars

There are the four-armed green Martians called the Tharks, a White Martian called Therns and the two Red Martians cities Helium and Zodangas whose natives are akin to the Elves in The Lord of the Rings in that they’re full of beautiful people (hello James Purefoy!), except they’ve got a natural tan. So basically John goes from one civil war on earth, to another epic one in a distant planet.

In the book, apparently John Carter is described as an immortal being. I can’t remember the movie depicting him that way but for sure he’s got some great powers due to his high bone density and the planet’s low gravity (not sure how the science works out but hey, it’s a fantasy film so certain suspension of disbelief comes with the territory). What I didn’t realize from the trailer laden with strange-looking creatures like the great white apes etc., is that John Carter has got a love story at the heart of it. John Carter meets Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), a stunning but rebellious Princess of Helium who’s apparently also a scientist (take that Dr. Christmas Jones!) It’s utterly predictable that they both would fall in love, though of course they still have to banter with each other first (a la Princess Leia and Han Solo and Na’vi Princess Neytiri and Jake Sully in Avatar).

This movie was declared a major box office bomb even by Disney itself. I think having seen it now, I gather that poor marketing was largely to blame for it. Sure, the reviews weren’t stellar, but it’s not terrible either with about 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. There are far, far worse films have made way more money than this, just look at those Transformer flicks! So perhaps it’s just really poor timing that this movie came out after 50 years of similarly-themed sci-fi movies have been released, which makes it ironically derivative.

In any case, I actually quite enjoyed this film. Actor Dominic West (who played Zodangas’ leader) told BBC  that “… the story sometimes difficult to follow, but I don’t think it was boring.” I think I’d agree with him. Though there are some slow parts and the pacing could be much improved, there are a lot to appreciate here. The movie kept me engaged for the most part, and the action scenes with all the weird-looking creatures actually don’t dominate the movie the way the trailers make it out to be. The visuals are marvelous to look at, what with all the meticulously-crafted spaceships and other flying objects.The action sequences are pretty fun to watch, though very reminiscent of The Phantom Menace especially in the pod-racer scenes.

I’d guess that a lot of the $250-million budget goes to the set pieces as there isn’t any big-name actors in the movie. The world that director Andrew Stanton built are a dazzling technical achievement, but the main problem for me is the pacing, just like any piece of music relies on good rhythm. It’s too bad because the story itself is quite engaging, and no surprise there considering Stanton has written and directed Pixar’s masterpieces like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall*E.

Lastly, the cast turns out to be a pleasant surprise. I was quite harsh on Taylor Kitsch initially as I was unimpressed with his performance in Wolverine, but he actually makes for a pretty convincing lead here. He’s got the looks (and a nice, deep voice), as well as confidence to pull off a heroic role. Another Wolverine alum Lynn Collins is all right as the Princess, she’s obviously beautiful but can also be pretty bad ass in the action sequences. Both of them are not as experienced as the rest of the supporting cast but they’re more than serviceable I think.

The rest of the supporting cast are largely British except for the ubiquitous Bryan Cranston as the leader of the Cavalry that pursued Carter. Both Mark Strong and Dominic West are in familiar territory playing unsympathetic characters, but at least they do it well. Interesting to see James Purefoy and Ciarán Hinds revisiting their Julius Caesar and Mark Antony roles in HBO’s Rome as their characters remind me so much of the historical duo. Purefoy seems to have the most fun here, I just wish he had a bigger role in the movie.

Final Thoughts: I’m glad I was able to catch this movie on the big screen before its last week of its theatrical run. I do think it looks marvelous visually and overall a pretty entertaining fare that’s worth at least a matinee price. Definitely check this out if you’re a fan of the fantasy sci-fi genre. I skipped the 3D though, and I don’t think it’ll add that much to the movie.
four and a half stars out of five
4 out of 5 reels


Thoughts about this movie? Do you have a theory why it flopped at the box office?

THIS JUST IN! Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Trailer

Woo hoo! Another preview to one of my anticipated movies this year.

Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6′s echelons.

Wow, that is one suspenseful trailer, but man it looks sooo good! I love spy thrillers and this one looks realistic and intense. Espionage is serious business, none of that Bond frivolity, who has time for sipping martinis and shagging women when you’ve got a crisis! I almost didn’t recognize Tom Hardy w/ his blond looks, but he sure looks good! Swedish director Tomas Alfredson who did the critically acclaimed vampire film Let the Right One In is directing this one. The story is based on the 1974 British spy novel by John le Carré that was adapted into a BBC miniseries back in 1979 with Alec Guinness, which I have yet to see. “Le Carre’s spies live in a world of shades of grey – none of the good guy/bad guy clarity of the James Bond world,” Mark Phillips said on his CBS interview article with the author.

If there is a best ensemble cast award, this one containing some of the best UK’s dramatic actors is certainly a shoo-in! 😀 Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, and John Hurt. OH MY! The only thing is, where is the female cast?? On the IMDb page, there are only two actresses listed and I’m not familiar w/ either one of them.

Oldman plays George Smiley, a middle-aged, taciturn, perspicacious intelligence expert in forced retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service.  As I said before on my Gary Oldman spotlight post, I am pulling for him to get at least a Best Actor Oscar nomination!


What do you think folks? Is this one on your radar?

Random Thoughts: The Chameleon vs. Perpetually-Typecast Actors

Well, clearly we have winner on the movie battle of the muscled men vs. Julia + her men vs. a nerd boy hero. The Expendables exploded at the box office with $35 million, with Eat, Pray, Love came out in a distant second with about 10 million less. I guess Sly’s gamble paid off, it could’ve easily gone completely the other way. Well, whilst Sly and Julia are going ka-ching, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim only came up at 5th place with a dismal $10 million. That’s a long ways away from its $60+ production budget, yikes!

The movie’s not on my radar until its marketing was kicked into high gear and suddenly it’s everywhere. Sounds like an original concept and even the critics embraced it, but why did it tank despite all the hype at ComicCon? HitFix had a long analysis as to what possibly went wrong, and at the top of the list is the lead actor: Michael Cera. Perhaps he just wasn’t ‘likable’ enough to audiences or as Julian observed from an Entertainment Weekly’s article comments section, it’s that perhaps people are tired of seeing him in a string of repetitive roles (as this article also suggests). Now, I haven’t seen enough any of his movies to offer an insight on that topic, but it brings up an interesting notion. This morning a local radio DJ mentioned a list of Terminally Typecast Actors, she didn’t say where the list is from, but it sounds a whole lot like this one. Well, guess who’s at the top of that list?

Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar in HBO's ROME

Obviously such lists are extremely debatable, I mean this one from ScreenJunkies even included beloved thespians the likes of Pacino and De Niro. I for one wouldn’t dispute such picks, but I know a bunch of people would. I guess when it comes to actors, consistency isn’t always such a virtue. It’s not like a restaurant where we expect our favorite food to be cooked the same way every time we go there. We don’t want our Pad Thai or what have you to suddenly be super spicy one day and utterly bland the next. But with actors, though we expect a consistent quality of performance, we generally want to see Actor A brings out a different set of characteristics from role to role. We want to see him/her be all bad ass in one movie, but then vulnerable and despondent the next. My friend Becky were talking about Irish character actor Ciaran Hinds the other day as she has just seen Persuasion. I bet most of you have seen the Irish actor in several movies, but don’t realize right away who he is. Those are the chameleons who ‘disappear’ into any roles. For me, those that fit into such category are Gary Oldman, Cate Blanchett, Edward Norton, Sam Rockwell, the list goes on…

Mark Strong as a Jordanian Prince in Body of Lies

Yet, there are actors who consistently deliver great performances playing a certain type of roles. One thing that came to mind right now is Mark Strong. He’s a great actor, but he’s become everyone’s favorite villain and by his own admission, he actually likes playing bad guys. When someone asked him, “Are you stuck in the villain roles?” He said, “Absolutely not. Swap the word ‘stuck’ for ‘enjoying.’ I’m enjoying them because they give me leeway to make them all different.” And it doesn’t even have to be a certain role category, it could be more of the essence of a character, i.e. tortured soul type or the brooding anti-hero. There are a certain set of actors that we prefer playing such roles because they do them very, very well. To me that would be Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Day-Lewis, etc. Just to clarify, by no means do I suggest that these three actors are in the same category as those who play ‘repetitive’ roles. In fact, they’re proven to be adept at showcasing their range even if some of the roles they play share similar personalities.

So in that sense, ‘typecast’ doesn’t sound so bad. There’s nothing wrong with putting a fresh spin to a ‘classic’ role. I think as long as Actor A can still bring something new to the table even if the character is essentially the same, I don’t mind it so much.

Well, what do y’all think? Would love to hear your take on the topic… or perhaps you have your own theory why Scott Pilgrim bombed.

Memorial Weekend Roundup

Haven’t done a weekend roundup for a while, but this long weekend seems like a good a time as any to do so. Firstly, I just want to thank IMDb again for featuring my post London Tube & The Movies on Friday. It’s been a dream of mine to be featured on the Friday HitList (as it last through the entire weekend), and it came true nearly 2-weeks shy of FlixChatter’s birthday! Thanks for those who’ve stopped by and dropped a comment, always appreciate that!

I must say the new releases this memorial weekend is pretty lame, neither of the two major new releases (featuring a gravity-defying video-game prince and a quartet of glitter-loving, proud hedonists) is something I’d ever watch even if someone paid me. So, it’s a good thing I haven’t seen Robin Hood yet, so we finally caught up to it on a Saturday matinee show. Sure enough it didn’t come close to the glory of the first Scott/Crowe collaboration Gladiator. It’s safe to say this version of the medieval hero is a bit Gladiator-ized, and it’s as though Scott aimed the theme to be ‘The Outlaw that defied a Kingdom.’ I might review it sometime later, but let me just say that I’d have been happy if the title had been Robin & Marian, because Cate Blanchett’s performance tramples that of the brutish Crowe, and her Marian really ‘saves’ the movie for me.

Before I go on, I’d like to point out that yet another fun blog event is brewing, folks, and this one is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone (or get you all worked up in a tizzy depending on how you look at it). Red at the movie blogging community Anomalous Material is hosting the Greatest Comedy of All-Time Tournament. Check out the ever-growing list of nominees out there, it’s really a reader/fellow bloggers-driven list which makes it all the more fun! Starting sometime after next week, Red & co. will be conducting an interactive 128 movie tournament to try and decide the greatest comedy out there. Get your game on, folks!

After a hectic Sunday and active Monday morning, I finally had a chance to catch my breath last night to watch a period drama I’ve wanted to see for ages: Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It stars the fabulous character actor Ciarán Hinds as Capt. Frederick Wentworth and Amanda Root as the story’s heroine Anne Elliot. It’s a heartfelt and profound love story about second chances…summarized beautifully in this memorable quote:

All that I claim for my own sex… is that we love longest after all hope is gone.

Mr. Darcy welcomes you to the Jane Austen Centre

Persuasion is actually the only Austen book I managed to finish not too long ago. I started Pride & Prejudice but never got around to wrapping it up, but the story and character of Anne Elliot resonates more with me. I must say that after watching this adaptation, this has become my second favorite Jane Austen adaptation after Sense & Sensibility (sorry Mansfield Park!). It’s pretty cool to see shooting locations in Bath with all the beautiful limestone, Georgian architecture, as  I was just there a few weeks ago. I managed to go to the Jane Austen center where we’re given a quick history lesson of the life of the author. Apparently Persuasion was written in the last few years of Jane Austen’s life, and published only after her death in 1817. It’s no secret that miss Austen herself didn’t really like Bath, and from what I gathered from the local tour guide – as well as this movie – it’s easy to see why.

Those unfamiliar with the story, here’s a quick plot (courtesy of IMDb): Eight years earlier, Anne Elliot, the daughter of a financially troubled aristocratic family, was persuaded to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a young seaman, who, though promising, had poor family connections. When her father rents out the family estate to Admiral Croft, Anne is thrown into company with Frederick, because his sister is Mrs. Croft. Frederick is now a rich and successful Captain, and a highly eligible bachelor. Whom will he marry? One of Anne’s sister’s husband’s sisters? Or will he and Anne rekindle the old flame?

Funny, I’ve been kind of delaying my Top Ten Period Drama list in case I need to include this for some reason, and boy, was I right! This is a far superior version than the 2007 Masterpiece adaptation where they had Anne run around Bath to catch up with Wentworth, as if to catch up with the lightning pace of the whole adaptation! The pace of this 1995 version is just right, and best of all, the two leads have a nice chemistry together even with just a knowing glance.

So there, if you haven’t seen this movie and you’re in the mood for an understated but moving period drama, I can’t recommend this movie enough to you.

Top Ten Chat-Worthy Irish Actors

I haven’t done a top-ten list in a while. I meant to post this last week around St. Paddy’s day, but took me a while to finish it. Well, as the green dye in the Chicago river hasn’t completely washed out, I hope you don’t mind reading another Irish-related post. Here’s my list of ten Irish actors that have done some buzz-worthy projects (including TV work) in the past decade, as well as those ‘rising stars’ that I really hope to see more of. I’m going to limit my list to just those 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.

Here they are in random order:

  1. Colin Farrell
    Of 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). He recently had a small-but-memorable role in Crazy Heart, and a lead role in the Irish drama Ondine.
    ….
  2. Liam Neeson
    Probably 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.
    ….
  3. Saoirse Ronan
    She may be only sixteen, 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. She’s currently re-teaming with her Atonement director Joe Wright in Hanna as a 14-year old assassin, talk about range!
    ….
  4. Cillian Murphy
    Most 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 Inception.
    ….
  5. Michael Fassbender
    (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 currently starring in a Roman actioner Centurion where he again displays his versatility. His next projects are definitely chat-worthy, there’s that darker Jane Eyre adaptation where he’ll play my favorite literary hero Rochester, and the historical drama The Talking Cure where he’ll play psychoanalyst Carl Jung alongside Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud.
    ….
  6. Gabriel Byrne
    I 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) The charismatic 60-year-old actor definitely still got the looks and is currently starring in the well-received HBO drama In Treatment as a psychotherapist where he won a Golden Globe last year. I certainly hope he’ll do more movies in the future!
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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.
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  8. Kenneth Branagh
    For 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. Surely he’ll inject some of that artsy and sophisticated sensibilities to a comic book adaptation, Thor, that he’s currently helming.
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  9. Pierce Brosnan
    He may not be my favorite James Bond, but Brosnan has proven before and after his 007 role that he’s not to be type-cast. He balances the ‘suave, elegant, sophisticated men in suits’ roles (Bond, Thomas Crown Affair) with small indie dramas (Evelyn, Married Life), quirky comedy (The Matador), gritty Western (Seraphim Falls), even musical (Mama Mia!). He’s currently starring as a British PM in Roman Polanski’s latest The Ghost Writer, which was lauded by the critics.
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  10. Jonathan Rhys Meyers
    I first noticed Meyers in the wholesome soccer flick Bend It Like Beckham as Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra’s coach. But he rose to fame as soon as he’s cast as the ruthless, womanizing King Henry VIII in Showtime’s The Tudors. His confidence swagger and devilish charm makes him a perfect seducer and unabashed casanova (Match Point). His recent foray into blow-em-up action From Paris With Love bombed, but it’s more of a reflection of John Travolta’s box office clout than his. His next project At Swim-Two-Birds is definitely an Irish production. It’s fellow Irishman Brendan Gleeson’s writing/directing debut about a playwright who begins to mingle with the fictional characters he has created. His co-stars all appear on this list: Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell and Gabriel Byrne!

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HONORABLE MENTIONS: Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn, Michael Gambon


Again, with this kind of list, it’s likely that I’m forgetting someone, so please do clue me in, readers 🙂

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