Valentine Special – Who’s your favorite romantic on-screen couples?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope it’s been a lovely day for you, wherever you are and whatever your love life is like. I actually don’t make a big fuss about V-day generally, especially the older I get. I actually told my hubby not to get me flowers this year, I mean, I still have a huge bouquet of roses from my dear brother for my birthday a few days ago, I wouldn’t know where to put another one.

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In any case, since I think in terms of movies, V-day always makes me think of favorite romantic pairings on screen. I’ve listed my top 10 three years ago, and the pairing of Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge! is still my fave to this day!

Well, today I’m going to highlight ten of my recent favorite on-screen romantic couples, both on film and TV. Pictures do speak louder than words, and so here we go…

Click on each image to read my review of each film

Brooklyn
Eilis & Tony – ‘Brooklyn’
IATIHK
Ruby & Josh – ‘It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong’
AgeofAdaline
Adaline & Ellis – ‘The Age of Adaline’
Belle
Belle & John – ‘Belle’
FarFromTheMaddingCrowd
Gabriel & Bathsheba – ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’
BeyondtheLights
Noni & Kaz – ‘Beyond the Lights’
Daredevil
Matt & Claire – ‘Daredevil’
Cinderella
Ella & Prince Kit – ‘Cinderella’
Creed
Adonis & Bianca – ‘Creed’
PPZ
Darcy & Lizzie – ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’


Now I turn it over to you…
Who are YOUR favorite recent cinematic romantic couples?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + This Week’s Questions on Top 3 films of 2015 so far

EverybodysChattin

Happy Thursday everyone! Crazy how time flies, we’re already smack dab in the middle of Summer. So some of the biggest Summer movies have been released: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland and Jurassic World this very weekend. July will give us Terminator Genisys, Antman, Minions and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Hmmm, I don’t know about you but it hasn’t been a stellar year for Summer movies eh? Apart from Fury Road, no big tentpole movie has REALLY impressed me yet.

There are perhaps more smaller/indie movies that made an impression, that’s why I’m excited for tonight’s screening of the Sundance hit Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. [For Twin Cities film fans, check out my FB for an advance screening pass offer]

Ok, now let’s get to those linky dinky…

Nostra gives us another great ‘Many Faces Of’ post, this time on the versatile & handsome thespian Oscar Isaac 

Speaking of Oscar Isaac, check out Cindy‘s commentary on his and Al Pacino‘s career

Mark finally saw Mad Max: Fury Road and gave an appropriately glowing review

Speaking of which, Jordan gave a high praise to The City of the Lost Children (1995) from his fave directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet

On the flip side, Jay warned us not to bother with Unfinished Business

Wendell went down memory lane and posted about the movie he grew up with, The Last Dragon

Steven started his new Auteurs Series, this time shining the spotlight on Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu – check out the full post on Cinema Axis

Last but not least, Irene reviewed the latest Nicole Kidman + Colin Firth’s collaboration Before I Go to Sleep


Time for question of the week!

Well, as I mentioned above, I haven’t been all that impressed with most big tent-pole movies that’s been released so far. In fact, if the first five months is any indication, it’s a rather lackluster year for blockbuster movies. I can’t even pick my top 5, let alone 10 as of yet, but I think I can pick three. I’m picking those that I know I want to see again, preferably even later this year. So here goes:

Top3Films2015

  • Cinderella
    I don’t know yet if this will end up in my final top 10 but it’s definitely my fave of this year so far. It was delightful and enjoyable, something I don’t mind rewatching over and over. So yeah I can’t wait to get the Bluray!
  • Ex Machina
    No doubt this one will make my top 10, maybe even top 5! Masterful work by Alex Garland… stylish, provocative and haunting. Plus it’s got Oscar Isaac in one of his most fun roles to date.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
    Well, what else is there to say? Fury Road is awesooooome!! A thrilling, fun ride with plenty of heart. As Mark said in his review, see it on the biggest screen possible. I intend to do so and hopefully this time I can find one with Dolby Atmos!

Let’s hope there’s more gems in store for 2015 and that the best is yet to come!


So what would you top 3 favorite movies of the year so far?

FlixChatter Review: Cinderella (2015)

CinderellaPosterGrowing up watching Disney fairy tale movies, I have to admit Cinderella wasn’t my favorite heroine. Over the years though, as there are more and more adaptations of this quintessential underdog story (more so than any other Disney “princesses” it seems), the more I appreciate the animated classic. Lately the cinematic trend is reinvention, giving a classic tale a new twist or perspective, such as Snow White & the Huntsman and Maleficent, and so naturally I thought we’d see the same thing with Cinderella. Well, it turns out that this film stayed true to its classic story, you could even say it paid tribute to the animated film, with some surprises thrown in. But by going the conventional route doesn’t mean it’s dull and boring, in fact the opposite is true. There’s something so lively and refreshing about Kenneth Branagh‘s vision that even some of its most sentimental moments aren’t without charm.

Being that it’s the origin story of Cinderella, the movie begins with young Ella whose blissful existence is cut short when her dotting mother suddenly fell ill. Before she passed away, she instilled in her daughter to ‘have courage and be kind,’ a life motto young Ella takes to heart. And so, as life kept coming at her with one terrible blow after another, especially after the arrival of her stepmother and two step-sisters, Ella never gives up hope. I was skeptical at first about Lily James‘ casting in the titular role, but I quickly warmed up to her. There’s a pleasant countenance about her that makes her believable as a benevolent and sweet-tempered girl equipped with inner strength to face the cruelty inflicted upon her by her new *family.* Instead of running away from her problems, she choose to endure.

Cinderella_stills

Ella’s no damsel in distress either. I love how the sweet and swoon-worthy meet-up with the dashing Prince, who refers to himself as Kit to hide his true identity, reveals her independent spirit. “Just because it’s done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done,” she tells Kit in protest of him hunting deer for sport. The prince was immediately smitten by her, perhaps he’s also impressed that she rides her horse without a saddle! Richard Madden effortlessly steals Ella’s heart, and every maiden in the audience, with his impossible good looks and almost indecent sex appeal. As if the filmmakers weren’t sure of that, they had to outfit him in those distractingly tight white pants! I don’t know why they need to digitally enhanced his blue eyes though, I mean he’s already hunky enough with his eyes the way God made ’em!

Cinderella_PrinceCharming cinderella_prince_firstmeetIn any case, I like that he fell for her whilst Ella’s still dressed as a maid, though I actually think she’s the most attractive this way, so fresh-faced and full of life. Unlike the animated version, the Prince also gets a back-story here, and the father/son relationship depiction is quite moving. The Ella-Kit meet-up is my favorite scene of the entire movie! Yes, more so than the entire ball scene or even the transformation scene. In fact, I’m not too fond of Cinderella’s look for the ball — her hair is huge, the ball gown is huge, it’s just overwhelming. Overall there’s more chemistry between her and the Prince in that brief meet-up.

Cinderella_CateBlanchett

Of course, it wouldn’t be Cinderella without the wicked stepmother and Cate Blanchett is an absolute delight to watch in the role. Looking as stunning and regal as ever, the great Cate was scene stealing all the way through with her elegant icy-ness. The Aussie thespian is obviously having fun with the role, there’s a twinkle in her eye and sense of mischief as she relish in being bad.

Holliday Granger and Sophie McShera are ok as the two vile stepsisters, they’re a bit over the top at times, yet not nearly as memorable as Cate was even when she was standing still. It’s fun seeing Helena Bonham Carter being the comic relief as the fairy godmother and the film’s narrator. Derek Jacobi adds Shakespearean gravitas as the Prince’s ailing father, whilst Ben Chaplin is affecting as Cinderella’s doting father. In attempt to making the cast a little more diverse, Branagh cast Nonso Anozie as Captain (who’s in his previous movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and the guests at the ball are racially-diverse.

Cinderella_Anozie

The production design is really something to behold. This is easily one of the best looking movie I’ve seen in a while, and I’m not just talking about the beautiful cast. The costume design by Sandy Powell is simply amazing, especially Cate’s jewel-toned, richly-embroidered dresses, blending 1940s with 19th century style. Everyone’s talking about Cinderella’s gorgeous ball dress – and Lily James’ teeny-tiny waist – but I think Cate’s outfits are equally breathtaking to look at. Oh and those glass slippers… well, that’s fairy tale for ya, the funniest bit was when the fairy godmother say they’d be comfortable, ha! Apparently they’re made of real Swarovski crystals fit only for mannequins. So the scene of Cinderella having those on is made possible by the magic of CGI.

Chris Weitz‘s script might seem simple and conventional, but it’s quite challenging to somehow make the story fresh without making it unnecessarily dark or edgy just for the sake of it. I’ve been a longtime fan of Patrick Doyle‘s gorgeous music and Branagh’s longtime collaborator once again delivered! The music fits the genre perfectly, it has that elegant, sweepingly lush feel to it, but also with a bit of whimsy.

CinderellaBallDance

But the biggest kudos has to be given to Kenneth Branagh and his impeccable directing style. He somehow made something *old* feels new again. I think it starts with his vision for the main characters, with an empowered Cinderella who, despite being mistreated, remains true to her moral principles. In this article, “[Branagh] likened it to the nonviolent resistance of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi.” Ok so that might’ve been a bit of a stretch, but I get the point. The love story feels richer and more emotionally involving because you believe there’s more than just the obvious physical attraction. Branagh’s quoted in the article as saying, “When you watch this film, you see Cinderella is such an amazing woman. My biggest thing was how do I create a man that is worthy of her?” I came away from the movie thinking that Cinderella rescues the Prince just as much as he rescues her.

I enjoyed this movie so much I just might see it again on the big screen as it’s such a visual treat. But I wouldn’t say it’s style over substance, there’s a nice balance of drama, humor, and even action to please the young and the young-at-heart. Though the movie is infused with such an infectious sense of optimism with its bright, lush colors and lavish set pieces, there are genuine poignant moments to keep it grounded. The scene when Ella receives news of her father’s sudden passing is one of those scenes that made me tear up.

If you’re on the fence about this one, I’d say give it a try. You just might be pleasantly surprised. I think I’d get the Blu-ray as I could see myself enjoying this for years to come.

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Have you seen Cinderella? Well, did you like it more or less than I did?

Thursday Movie Picks #35: Live Action Fairy Tale Adaptations

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple:
Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Today the theme is… 

Live-Action Fairy Tale Adaptations

Well, I’ve been sick the past few days and I’ve actually written a much longer post for this but for some reason WordPress did NOT save my draft so I lost it all 😦

Ever After (1998)

EverAfterMovie

A reimagining of the classic Cinderella story – with Leonardo da Vinci as the fairy god-father

What if Cinderella were real? That’s the main premise here, showing the Brothers Grimm talking to a Grand Dame telling them the story of Danielle de Barbarac and showing them her glass slippers. I’ve always had a fondness for this movie despite Drew Barrymore‘s laughable *British* accent. But hey, she more than makes up for it w/ her charm. She has a lovely chemistry w/ Dougray Scott as the dashing Prince Henry. I like that Danielle is no Damsel in Distress, but when she absolutely needed help, there’s Leonardo da Vinci to the rescue! Anjelica Huston is fun to watch as the wicked stepmother, and

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

PansLabyrinth

In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already written a much longer stuff here but lost it in the WP snafu. This is definitely NOT a feel-good fairy tale, as it’s mesmerizing as it is terrifying. Part terror, part wonder, Guillermo Del Toro has crafted a spellbinding fable with amazing set pieces and special effects. But the story is as rich and intriguing as the visuals. As the young protagonist, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) has that wide-eyed innocence that serves as a stark contrast to the brutal world she’s trying to escape from. There’s something so wonderfully organic and mystical about this film, though the unflinching brutality warrants its R rating. There are plenty of weird and downright freaky creatures, the faun and pale man (played by Doug Jones) are key characters here, but the scariest character is no doubt Captain Vidal (Sergi López). Perhaps one of the messages is that the real *monster* of real life actually look like you and I.

Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella2015

When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger in the woods.

Yes, another Cinderella story, but as far as live-action adaptation is concerned, this could be a new favorite. I’m borrowing from Rotten Tomatoes‘ critics consensus here: “Refreshingly traditional in a revisionist era, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella proves Disney hasn’t lost any of its old-fashioned magic.” Precisely. I think Disney made the right call in NOT making this another reimagining of a classic story, thought there are some subtle *twists* about the main characters that still fit nicely into the story. It’s a gorgeous and lush production, on that front alone makes this a wonderful movie to see on the big screen. Lily James and Richard Madden fit their roles as Cinderella & Prince Charming as perfectly as those Swarovski glass slippers fit our heroine’s nimble feet. But the inspired casting is Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother, scene stealing all the way through with her elegant icy-ness.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films?