Monthly Roundup: October Movie Watching Recap

Buh-bye October. Welcome November!


Btw, I just realized after I posted it that it’s my 1000th’s Blog Post!! I guess time flies when you’re doing something you love. Thanks everyone who’ve made it so worthwhile for me to blog day after day!



Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. this Sunday! So for those who live in states that observe DST, don’t forget to set your clock back an hour! I love it ’cause we get an extra hour of sleep! 🙂

I’ve got to admit I was looking forward to doing this month’s recap as I saw the most movies in October than any other month, yay! Thanks to TCFF, I saw 13 films in just 9 days, so those combined with some new releases, I ended up seeing about 17 NEW movies!

I’ve also been blogging a ton… not just TCFF but also organizing the Small Roles… Big Performances blog-a-thon that started on October 1. Thank you everybody who have participated and those who’ve been promoting it on various social media. It was a blast reading everyone’s posts and shining a spotlight on actors who should get more recognition for their work!

Well, here are some of the posts you might’ve missed from October:

Well, what did I manage to watch this month?

Movies I haven’t seen before:

I think I’ve covered that above. I saw more indie movies during TCFF than I normally do in a given month, which is awesome. I highly recommend Things I Don’t Understand, Dead Dad, Take Care and the documentary A Place at the Table when they’re available to rent on iTunes or Netflix.

Re-watch:

  • The Hunt for Red October
  • Point Break
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

Total Movies Watched: 20

Favorite October Movie(s):

The Sapphires is my favorite movie from TCFF and ARGO tops the new releases I saw in October. Both of them are inspired by a true story, though they couldn’t be more different from each other in terms of story and tone. I highly recommend both of these, especially the first one as it’ll probably be out in limited release. I might even rent it again when it’s out on iTunes!

Now, before I let you off, check out this awesome promo video for Air New Zealand. They partnered with WETA Workshop on a brand new Hobbit-inspired Safety Video, complete with special cameos. LOVE it!!


So, what movies did you get to see in October and which one is your favorite?

FlixChatter Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas is one of those films that transcends film genres — it’s a drama, sci-fi, comedy, thriller, all wrapped into one. Based on David Mitchell’s 2004 novel, the film follows six nested stories of six characters across time and space, and explores how the characters’ lives are connected and somehow influence each other in past, present and future.

Just how are they connected exactly? Well, that’s for the viewers to find out and watching this film is like trying to put together a giant puzzle, whilst treated to a spectacular, often dizzying array of scenarios spanning hundreds of years, from the 1800s all the way to 2144.

The first character we meet, Adam Ewing, is a lawyer who’s shipwrecked in an island in the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand. In the story he ends up discovering the the enslavement of the Moriori tribe and also meeting a doctor named Henry Goose. The next character in the following story, a 1930 composer Robert Frobisher, discovers Ewing’s account as a diary on a bookshelf at the house of an aging composer he’s working for. On and on the story goes, alternating from one to the next every 10-15 minutes or so.

What’s most amusing about this film is that the main actors play multiple characters across various stories and time periods, so in one scene we see Tom Hanks in a period Victorian-era clothing to a scientist in the 1970s, to a tribesman in post-apocalyptic Hawaii. For the most part, they did a good job with the makeup work, transforming the actors across multiple races, even gender! Sometimes I got so caught up in the different look of the actors that take me out of the story, for example, young British actor Jim Sturgess made up to look like a Korean man Hae-Joo Im in the segment involving a genetically-engineered fabricant Somni-451 set in a totalitarian futuristic society, and also Hugo Weaving as a devil leprechaun haunting Hanks’ character and also the scary female Nurse Noakes who hounds Jim Broadbent‘s character a in a nursing home. It’s also odd seeing Korean actress Doona Bae as a freckled, red-headed Caucasian woman, complete with blue contact lenses! The make up of Halle Berry as a blue-eyed Jewish woman is much more seamless though.

The first thing that comes to mind as soon as I leave the theater is that it was quite a ‘discombobulating’ experience. I have to admit that it was quite tough to follow the story as it keeps changing from one to the next before I could even figure out what’s going on. It didn’t help matters that Halle Berry and Tom Hanks in the post-apocalyptic Hawaii segment are utterly incomprehensible. I kept turning to my friend next to me in frustration, just what the heck are those people saying??!

I read that the novel was quite well-received by critics who deemed that Mitchell managed to successfully interweave its six stories. I think it may take me multiple viewings for me to say whether the movie achieves that, though I wouldn’t call it a mess like some critics do. I wish it was more emotionally engaging though. I mean, the message against prejudice, slavery, corporate greed, etc. aren’t exactly subtle, but because the movie jumps from one to the next relatively fast, I wasn’t as invested in the characters as I otherwise would.

Overall, there are a lot to appreciate in this film, most notably the visual spectacle and the performances of most of the actors. The stand-outs for me are Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, and the Wachowskis’ ‘muse’ Hugo Weaving. My favorite segment is the love story set in the futuristic society Neo Seoul. It has a Blade Runner-esque feel to it, and the chase sequences are spectacular! I’m certainly glad I saw it on the big screen and from the visual effects standpoint, it actually seems like it had a bigger budget than $102 million (Just a little trivia: according to Wikipedia, this movie was actually funded by independent sources, making it the most expensive independent film ever).

Final Thoughts: I think this is a valiant effort by the Wachowski Siblings (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). There’s definitely an epic feel to it and given how challenging the material is, I think they did a pretty darn good job. In fact, now that the movie’s sat with me for about a week and I’ve read a bit more about the story, I actually like it a bit better. Oh and do stay for the end credits as they show which actors plays which roles, see if you could recognize every single one of them. I don’t know how this film would fare come award season but it should at least nab Best Makeup nomination!

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Well, that’s my take on Cloud Atlas. What do YOU think of it?

Weekend Viewings + Everybody’s Chattin’

Happy Friday everyone!

Well, Winter has definitely arrived here in Minnesota. We’ve got a sprinkle of the dreaded ‘s’ word yesterday… yep, snow! But fortunately it was just a snow mix so it didn’t stick much at all, in fact, on my way home there’s barely a trace of it. Different story if you live in Northern MN though, I think they’ve got some measurable amount up there. Folks going to Halloween parties this weekend should definitely bundle up though, brrrrr!

Anyway, I’ve actually seen two of the movies opening today, Cloud Atlas, and Chasing Mavericks on advanced screening last week, but I’m taking a bit of a break from writing reviews as I’ve been working on them non-stop for TCFF.

I definitely will review both of them next week though. Seems like neither one is getting favorable critical reviews on rottentomatoes, but with a much higher audience reviews (surprise, surprise). Cloud Atlas actually got pretty decent reviews a couple of weeks ago, but it kept dwindling down closer to the movie opening. As for Chasing Mavericks, I enjoyed it for two main reasons: Gerry Butler surfing (‘nuf said) and the beautifully-shot 40-foot waves. Man, I wish I knew how to surf!! The movie isn’t as as bad as the critics made it out to be (heck if I had a nickle for every time I said this!) Needless to say, I’m definitely on the audience side on this one, so if you’re on the fence about either movies, I’d say give ’em a shot.

Well, it’s time for links! 

Novia‘s shifting her gaze from her beloved Cillian Murphy to shine a spotlight on her second crush, Benedict Cumberbatch. Most of you know him from the excellent BBC’s Sherlock, but check out ‘Benny’ Special, consisting of reviews of three movies he’s appeared in.

Speaking of crushes, my Glaswegian friend Mark is in the midst of doing a review trilogy of Scottish films and his first two happen to star my all time favorite Scot! Check out his review of the Scottish drama One More Kiss, featuring a very young and six-pack-free Gerry Butler and one of my all time GB roles as The Stranger in Dear Frankie.

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As part of her 7 Days of Halloween special, the creative genius Lady Sati highlighted French actress Isabella Adjani in Possession as one of her favorite performances. There are sooo many movies of similar title, but this one was released in 1981 which also stars Sam Neill.

There are many reasons why I love my friend Michael’s blog, even the name It Rains… You Get Wet is just so clever! One of my fave series of his is TMT, which stands for a Theater… a Movie… and a Time. Check out those posts if you haven’t already, even if you don’t like or know the movie, his stories are fun to read… and you’ll wish you have as good a memory as he does!

Nice to see I’m not the only one having Bond fever this month! 🙂

People are doing all kinds of posts and lists to commemorate Bond month. Dan from Top 10 UK definitely lives up to his blog name as he has a plethora of top 10 007-themed lists, such as this Top 10 Bond Gadgets courtesy of Rodney of Fernby Films.

Fellow Bond fan Dan Fogarty, aka Fogs is doing all kinds of Bond lists, and a couple of days ago he listed his top 10 Bond theme songs. I agree with all but one from his list.

A couple more Bond lists I like, PG Cooper ranks 22 Bond girls, most of which I agree, especially his pick of number 1 who happens to be one of my all time favorites because she’s sexy and intelligent, definitely not a bimbo. Last but not least, growing up with two brothers, I’ve always been into cars and what’s a Bond movie without the Bond car right? John Kenneth Muir listed his top 5 Bond Cars, and I love his unconventional choice of a yellow French automobile that is far from the glamorous Aston Martin DBS!


So what are you going to see this weekend? Whatever you do, hope you have a good one!

Trailers Spotlight: Cloud Atlas, Chasing Mavericks, The Master

Hello folks! I haven’t done a trailer post since Man of Steel last weekend and this past week there have been quite a few trailers that caught my attention, so I thought I’d highlight ’em here in case some of you have not seen it.

Cloud Atlas

I’ve been quite curious about this movie for some time ever since it was reported over a year ago. I even did a spotlight post for it and boy just check out the star-studded cast! Well, this past week we got an extended trailer (5-min long!) and by golly it looks spectacular! I thought that the Tom Hanks + Halle Berry combo is rather odd, but the whole trailer is so surreal anyway. Despite the length of the trailer though, the story is as cryptic as ever. Truthfully I had no idea what it’s about but reading this description of the plot might give you somewhat of a clue:

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

The story is based on British author David Mitchell’s award-winning sci-fi novel of the same name, it was published in 2004. On top of the amazing cast from all over the world, I’m curious about it because it’s from the Wachowski siblings. It certainly is an ambitious project, let’s see if the Wachowski could pull this off. Would this be as groundbreaking as The Matrix over a decade ago?

The Master

I’ve been waiting for Joaquin Phoenix to come back to acting from his supposed *retirement.* So the moment I saw this trailer I REALLY want to see this.

A 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “the Master” whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man.

From the trailer, the faith-based organization is curiously similar to Scientology and this Daily Beast article written by someone who was a Scientologist for 15 years seems to confirm that The Master character could very well be based on L. Ron Hubbard.

Of course director Paul Thomas Anderson nor anyone from the studio is confirming that. No matter, this looks like an intriguing film indeed and both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Phoenix’s performances seems poised for major buzz comes award season.


Chasing Mavericks

I’ve mentioned this film on the Gerry Butler Special post, and here’s the official description:

CHASING MAVERICKS is the inspirational true story of real life surfing phenom Jay Moriarity (newcomer Jonny Weston). When 15 year old Jay discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, is not only real, but exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home, he enlists the help of local legend Frosty Hesson (Butler) to train him to survive it. As Jay and Frosty embark on their quest to accomplish the impossible, they form a unique friendship that transforms both their lives, and their quest to tame Mavericks becomes about far more than surfing.

Truth be told, I’m not too fond of this trailer. Jay’s story seems compelling but I’m not seeing it in the trailer, it looks bland and formulaic, though those waves do look spectacular. But hey, hopefully a meh trailer means a good movie, after all the Curtis Hanson did direct one of my favorite crime thrillers L.A. Confidential.

I do love the fact that Butler actually learned to surf for the first time for this movie, instead of just using a stand in. Those surf shots look real and Butler looks pretty convincing as a surfer mentor, so I remain optimistic about this one. Now that I think about it, this’ll be the first surfing movie since I watch like Point Break! Btw, I like the first poster that still has the old title, but this latest one is very artistic and has that ‘surfer dude’ personality.


BONUS:

Behold the power of iconic music. Someone made this Man of Steel teaser and set it to John Williams’ Superman score:

It’s got the EXACT same footage but it immediately feels sooooo much more powerful and gives you that holy goosebumps watching it. I know I should give Hans Zimmer the benefit of the doubt that he’d create something special for this film but man, you can’t deny just how amazing Williams’ score is and clearly it’s such a timeless piece of work!


Well, thoughts on any of these films folks? Which one are you anticipating most?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Cloud Atlas

I was researching about an upcoming post when I came across this project to be produced by the Wachowski siblings. The first thing that caught my eye was that Hugo Weaving will be playing six different characters in this movie. The Aussie actor seems to be the Wachowskis’ muse, having starred in The Matrix and V for Vendetta for them previously and will be seen as Red Skull in Captain America out next month. Then I went to the movie’s IMDb page and whoa… check out the rest of the cast: Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Halle Berry, and Ben Wishaw. Man, talk about a stellar cast!

Cloud Atlas is based on British author David Mitchell’s award-winning sci-fi novel of the same name, it was published in 2004. I haven’t read it, but the premise sounds really interesting. The description on Wikipedia seems convoluted, but I like this one from Corona’s Coming Attraction site:

Six seemingly unconnected stories featuring different central characters in each one, set at different time periods from the 19th century to hundreds of years into the [post-apocalyptic] future when there are only a handful of human beings left alive.

I like the sci-fi genre and seems like a good fit from the people who brought us one of the best sci-fi actioner The Matrix. Besides the story, the format of the novel sounds intriguing as well as each story breaks off half-way through, to be followed by the first half of the next one, which then ‘goes back’ in time so that in the end, the readers will end where they started. Reportedly each actor will play multiple roles in the film, which should be very interesting to watch.

I haven’t seen Mr. Hanks for quite a while, I think his last movie I saw was Charlie’s Wilson War which I rented a couple of years ago. He hasn’t been all that prolific on the acting front – his last feature film was the Da Vinci Code follow-up Angels & Demons (neither of which I have any interest in) and his upcoming dramedy with Julia Roberts, Larry Crowne, is out this July. As for Susan Sarandon, her last movie I saw was Romance & Cigarettes back in 2005 at TIFF! I figure Hanks is quite selective with his projects, so the fact that he chose this one, there’s got to be something special and will no doubt increase the visibility of this project ten-fold.

The Wachowskis will co-direct the film with German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume: Anatomy of a Murderer, The International). I haven’t seen Perfume, but I really like his other two movies. I actually made a trailer of Run Lola Run for a video production class back in college. According to Variety, the budget is set at $140 million and it’ll begin shooting later this Summer for May 4, 2012 release.


I’m quite excited about this movie now. How about you, folks?