Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I haven’t done a new flick spotlight in a while, and the last time I did it was on Cloud Atlas, which had quite an ensemble cast. Well, the fantastic British cast is what initially grabbed my attention about Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know I love all things Brits and most of my favorite actors are from across the pond. Well, this one is chock full of them! Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, and John Hurt.

I put this movie on the list of most-anticipated movies of 2011 back in March, but now it’s been generating some serious buzz all over, thanks to the impressive set of enigmatic character posters

… and trailer, like this new International version that’s just been released yesterday.


It shows just a bit more clips than the first trailer, but retains that same creepy, sinister vibe. It’s particularly interesting that it uses the same score as in the X-Men: First Class, and the fact that both are set in the 60s. I love the retro look and the music is certainly effective.

Based on John le Carré’s 1973 novel of the same name, this movie is a remake to the 1979 British miniseries starring Sir Alec Guinness as espionage veteran George Smiley. Set in the bleak days of the Cold War, the plot centers on a middle-aged spy who’s forced out of retirement to uncover a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The minute we hear the words ‘British spy’ most of us automatically think of 007, but the gritty and realistic portrayal of the espionage world in this one is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle depicted in the Bond movies.

Author John le Carré

According to FilmStage, Le Carré actually has a cameo in the film. The British spy novelist has also seen the film and has high praise for it… “Through my very personal prism… it is a triumph. And if people write to me and say, ‘How could you let this happen to poor Alec Guinness,’ I shall reply that, if ‘poor Alec’ had witnessed Oldman’s performance, he would have been the first to give it a standing ovation. I’m very proud to have provided [director Tomas] Alfredson with the material, but what he made of it is wonderfully his own.” Wow, that’s quite a compliment coming from the author himself!

Speaking of Alfredson, he’s said to have brought a horror sensibility to the film, even comparing it to his last feature, the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In. In the Independent article, he’s quoted as saying ” … horror is 90 per cent inside people. The gap between reality and what’s happening in their mind — that’s what creates the horror. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a horror precisely because you do not know how far the conspiracies and lies stretch — it could be much worse than you think.”

I’m so glad to see Gary Oldman in a leading role in a pretty high profile project. He’s done other leading roles of course, but this is perhaps one of the most prominent with high visibility. I’m pulling for him to finally nab at least an Oscar nomination for the role. Can you believe it he has NEVER been nominated?? It’s ludicrous really considering his resume. I’ve listed five of my favorite Gary Oldman roles, but I have a strong feeling I’d have to make room for his role as Smiley once I’ve seen this film. He even sounds different somehow, but then again great actors are often able to alter their speaking voice.

And of course there’s the eye candy factor, ehm. Tom Hardy is not the primary reason I want to see this movie, but his presence certainly can’t hurt. He looks so darn appealing sporting blond locks. Even amongst THIS cast, I have no doubt he’ll be stealing scenes with his seductive glances and well, looking like Tom Hardy 😀

I know it’s perhaps premature to say this, but I can’t imagine this one NOT living up to the hype. I sure hope this will be released nationwide come November 18!


What do you think folks? Is this high on your must-see list?

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?

Ross vs Ross’ Best Picture Fight Club is Up – The King Speech Review

Counting down to the Oscar this coming Sunday, and the boys from rossvross.com have gone a little Oscar crazy this week. A couple of weeks ago, Ross McG rounded up nine other bloggers (including his partner in crime Ross McD) for a ten-way Best Picture Oscar battle. Because there are so many movies – and because it will go in the newspaper edition of the Metro in Dublin – the word count is quite restricted. Each battler will have about 75 to 100 words to put their argument across, as well as choose a ‘battle-y’ type quote from your movie to stick at the top of your argument. The movie each guest battler would have to do is drawn out of a hat, and fortunately I got the movie I REALLY enjoy and root for, The King’s Speech!

Check out the Best Picture Fight Club Page and vote for your favorite!


Below is my full review of the film before I narrowed it down to 100 words:

Lionel Logue: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.

King George VI: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Lionel Logue: They’re idiots.
King George VI: They’ve all been knighted.
Lionel Logue: Makes it official then.

The hardest part of this assignment is finding the ‘battle quote’ from this film as there are too many good ones to choose from! I ended up choosing the one I did because it made me laugh so hard in the theater.

This film has swept all kinds of major awards left and right… so seriously, all those award voters can’t possibly be wrong. No, scratch that. They often do. In fact, it’s rare that I actually agree with the ‘best picture’ choice of a given year, but this time I’m glad that I can say ‘I concur!’

This film is so much more than about a king with a debilitating impediment. It’s a ‘buddy’ comedy-drama about two very different people forming an unlikely friendship that change their lives forever. Now, under less-capable hands, this could easily be a run of the mill period drama, but Tom Hooper‘s direction gives this such a fresh and modern feel to it that it won’t feel tedious even if British period drama isn’t your cup of tea.

There are so many things praise-worthy about this film, it seems to have all the ingredients of a first-rate feature. But the two strongest things going for it are the brilliant script that peppers scene after scene with wonderfully-memorable dialog, and the equally-adept actors who deliver them. The entire cast are noteworthy: Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall and Derek Jacobi are all great in their roles, but without a doubt The King’s Speech belongs to Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

The unlikely buddies – Bertie and Lionel

Both Firth and Rush delivered masterful performances on their own right, but combine the two thespians together on screen and it just spells magic. Their scenes together are enchanting to watch from the start, right from the moment they met all the way to the very last scene. Whether they’re getting along swimmingly or swapping sarcastic, even scathing remarks at each other, the chemistry between them always feel right. The therapy scenes are by far the funniest. It’s great to see that humor is not lost on Hooper despite the serious subject matter. In fact, there are plenty of rib-tickling scenes, especially the one that garnered the R-rating from MPAA.

Besides the performances, the gorgeous yet intimate cinematography by Danny Cohen and lush music by Alexandre Desplat are also noteworthy. Everything just works nicely in creating a wonderful and warm atmosphere for the film.

Final thoughts: A film doesn’t have to be dark, brain-twisting or nightmarish to be engaging. The King’s Speech is a warm and poignant film about a king with a story well worth telling. Tom Hooper’s adept direction combined with a brilliant script and masterful acting equals a first-rate feature. Scene after scene is peppered with memorable dialogue and captivating chemistry between the actors, especially Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. It made me laugh and cry throughout, and by the end I really was ready to give a standing ovation.

This is why this is in my top five favorite of 2010 and the one to root for come Oscar night!


Feel free to add your thoughts about the film, and of course, don’t forget to cast your vote!

Musings on the 2011 Golden Globe Noms: The Good, the Bad and the WTF

Well, you’ve probably read the full Golden Globes nominees by now (if not, head over to this post). The usual suspects of buzzed-about movies of the year once again make an appearance. In fact, all five nominees in the Best Motion Picture Drama: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, Social Network, and The King’s Speech are hardly surprising.

The King’s Speech reigns with seven nods, including Best Picture. Though I haven’t seen the film, I find myself rooting for this one. I’ve always loved royal period dramas and the fact that this one isn’t about romance makes it all the more interesting. It’s probably going to be the Award-winning movie that I’d enjoy watching over and over again, one that is impressive as an art form but also warms the heart.

But as I made my way down the list, as Univarn astutely foresee in his GG post, I went “Yay, good pick… good pick… good… WTF!!?!?!… good pick… good pick… WTF!?!?!?” 😀 Well, since I’ve got nothing better to do, why not make a list of ’em? It’s not so much a grumble as my way of ‘venting’ about the HFPA picks 🙂 So here goes…

The Good:

  • Seeing Christian Bale on the list of nominees! Man, it’s about darn time! I sure wish Oscar will follow suit.
  • Colin Firth is the industry award darling for 2 years in a row, wow! But hey, can’t happen to a nicer fellow. I hope he wins this time.
  • Yay for Andrew Garfield getting recognition alongside Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network. Both young actors are phenomenal and have proven their chops time and again. Curious as to why Never Let Me Go is absent from the list given all the buzz surrounding it, hmmm. In any case, I’ve got Boy A next in line from Netflix, looking forward to seeing more of the young Brit’s fine body of work.

    The future Spiderman Andrew Garfield
  • It seems it’s been ages ago since I saw Inception. I obviously love that movie so it’s cool to see the movie and Christopher Nolan on the list, though it’s such a tough competition this year that it’s probably not the favored to win. Glad that Leo DiCaprio is NOT nominated, as his acting really wasn’t all that spectacular.
  • I absolutely adore two of the animated features nominated: How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3. Impossible to decide which one I like better! But if I absolutely must choose, I probably go with Dragon as it’s not a sequel and the story is so original. But I definitely won’t cry foul if TS3 wins… I hope it’ll came down to these two.
  • This is the sixth time Helena Bonham-Carter is nominated for Golden Globes, but she hasn’t walked away with the statue! Perhaps the Susan-Lucci streak will end this year if King’s Speech ends up sweeping all of the awards.

    On the TV Front:
  • Glad to see the massively talented Toni Collette is nominated again for The United States of Tara. She’s already won last year playing a woman with multiple personalities.
  • Scott Caan

    As one of my favorite shows this season (well, one of only three shows I watch actually), Hawaii Five-O, Scott Caan is one of the major reasons why I love the show! He’s such a comic relief as the smug, tie-loving, Jersey-native Dano. Happy to see he’s getting recognition for the role, so hopefully Five-O won’t suffer the early ax like the previous two Alex O’Loughlin shows 🙂

  • I was beginning to wonder whatever happen to such a talented young actress like Julia Stiles. She seemed to have disappeared from the big screen, but glad to hear she’s doing well on the TV world. Stiles is nominated for her supporting role in Dexter, which seems to be an HFPA favorite as it’s never been absent from nominees list since 2007.
  • Pillars of the Earth (POTE) has been on my radar for a while, and though I’ve only seen Part I, it certainly is a pretty gripping period drama worth being nominated. The same goes for Ian McShane who’s nominated for the juicy role of the sinister bishop Waleran.

The Bad:

  • Happy to see POTE nominated… but no nod for Rufus Sewell?? Come on! He was fabulous as Tom Builder as the honorable but conflicted stonemason who’ve always dreamed of building a cathedral. Right from the start, one can’t help but empathize and feel for his character, and not just because I’ve admired his work as an actor. I also enjoy Matthew MacFayden’s sensitive portrayal as Prior Philip, I’d be equally happy to see him being shortlisted.
  • Boyle directing James Franco in 127 Hours

    With all the buzz surrounding the Aron Ralston biopic 127 Hours, I’m stunned the movie and Danny Boyle aren’t nominated. Now, I’ve been curious about it but I’m too chickened to see the amputation scene of the big screen… but from what I’ve read, it’s a film that’s very well-received by both critics and audiences alike. But no, apparently this isn’t as good as um, The Tourist [shrugs]

    Which brings me to…

The WTF:

  • Well, the first WTF reaction on the list goes to The Tourist nomination. WOW, Seriously??! I don’t always agree with critics but I’ve seen it and ‘award-worthy’ never came to mind as I watched it. I mean, it probably doesn’t deserve a Razzie but Best Musical or Comedy?? Come on! The only thing probably worth any sort of award is its gorgeous cinematography. It’s probably news to director Donnersmarck as well as I’m not sure he had ‘comedy’ in mind when making this flick. As if that weren’t absurd enough, BOTH Jolie and Depp are nominated, too. Geez louise, since when is posing equals acting? If there’s a Best strut or Best red lipstick category, then I have no doubt Jolie would win hands down. I’m not as appalled (but still shocked) with Depp getting a nod, but it’s hardly one of his strongest roles. Plus, it seems excessive to give him TWO nominations when there are dozens of other actors more worthy to be included (i.e. Jeff Bridges in True Grit perhaps?).
  • Jeff Bridges & Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

    Speaking of which, where is True Grit?? Now, the movie hasn’t come out yet and one ought not judge a movie by its trailer but isn’t the Coens brothers normally an award-favorite? It’s probably one of the more well-received remakes, which is quite a feat in itself considering the original with John Wayne is a classic. Even as a non Western fan, I thought the preview looked pretty darn good and the early reviews seem to indicate as such. Look for my True Grit post sometime later this week as it’s become one I’m anticipating for this year.

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All right, that’s my list. What’s your delight and gripes about this year’s GG noms? Let’s hear it!

Poster of the Week: The King’s Speech

I love quad posters. They’re usually more interesting that the typical vertical format and this one is no different. I thought that the first official poster looked terrible, it’s definitely one of those cases when bad posters happens to good movies. This one however, is regal looking version worthy of an Oscar contender!

The historical drama Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped the King overcome a stammer as he led the country through war. I’ve been wanting to see the movie ever since the trailer came out last month. I was hoping to squeeze this movie in over the Thanksgiving break but it wasn’t playing anywhere near me. Bummer! Everything I’ve been hearing about this movie just fuels my anticipation. It currently stands at 92% on rottentomatoes which seems to be in line with the stellar buzz coming out of film festivals all year. If only this had premiered at TCFF last Fall 😦

Well, has anyone seen this film? If so, what did you think?

Conspicuous trailers of the Week: Alien comedy PAUL & The King’s Speech

Since I didn’t post any new trailer all last week, I thought I’d make up for it this week. Both have British actors in the lead roles, but they can’t be more dissimilar from each other.

PAUL

I’ve been anticipating this flick for a while now, as I’m a big fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They’re back together again since the comedy hits Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Last April I dedicated an entire upcoming-flix-spotlight post with some stills and behind-the-scene video.

The concept just sounds like a hoot and tailor made for real-life BFFs: Two British comic-book geeks traveling across the U.S. (to attend the San Diego Comic Con, no less) encounter an alien named Paul outside Area 51 and ended up helping him run from the US government. Now tell me that doesn’t have the perfect recipe for comedy! And with a cast that includes Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, Seth Rogen (as the voice of the alien), AND Sigourney Weaver, what’s not to love? The last time Weaver was in a sci-fi comedy was the wonderfully zany Galaxy Quest.


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Now the teaser trailer definitely got me even more excited! I was laughing right from the moment that Dr Evil & Mini Me dance song came on… I don’t know but I’ve always found that song hilarious ever since Austin Powers!  This promises to be a stellar entertainment for geeks and non-geeks alike. Too bad we have to wait until March 18 of next year!

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THE KING’S SPEECH

I first heard of this movie when Hollywood Spy posted a photo of Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in a period costume. I’ve always liked period drama based on the English royal, something about them just fascinated me. This time it’s based on the true story of King George VI (the father of the current queen Elizabeth II), who unexpectedly and reluctantly assumed the throne when his brother Edward abdicated the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stutter and considered unfit to be king, George “Bertie” sought the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie was able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.

The cast also includes major British and Aussie thespians: Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall and Derek Jacobi. Oh, Jennifer Ehle also has a small part as Logue’s wife Myrtle. All you Jane Austen or Colin Firth groupies would recognize her as the Elizabeth Bennet to Firth’s Mr. Darcy in the famous BBC miniseries Pride & Prejudice.



The King’s Speech‘s got all kinds of buzz around film festivals this year, including winning the Top Audience Award at TIFF. Firth is now considered a shoo-in for Best Actor and the film itself a major contender in next year’s Oscar race. Oscars love awarding actors who portray real-life heroes and especially those with disability (Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Jamie Foxx in Ray, Geoffrey Rush in Shine, etc), and the fact that a lot of people think Firth was robbed of his Gold Statuette last year, perhaps 2011 is his year. I really like this trailer, it’s a tearjerker but looks funny as well. That scene where he stuffed his mouth with marbles and told to enunciate reminds me of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. I might try to catch this in the theater around Thanksgiving. It’s released in the US on November 26th.

Well, anybody else anticipating either or both of these films?

Just for fun: Top Five Movie Tango Scenes

My friend took me to a Zumba class last night for the first time, it’s a cardio class fused with Latin and International music and dance moves. I can’t dance worth a damn so I usually stick with more of a card kickboxing type of classes but I found Zumba to be a lot of fun! Time flew as it didn’t feel quite like a regular workout, though the moves were pretty fast that it was tough to follow at times. I was so energized that I thought I’d have a dance-related post for today. Among various dance styles, the Tango is probably one of the most dramatic.

So here are FIVE of the most memorable movie Tango scenes:

Moulin Rouge – el Tango de Roxane


The crème de la crème of all movie Tango scenes, this one still gives me goosebumps every time I watched it! I love how Baz Luhrmann makes this emotionally-charged dance number part of an integral plot. It’s one of the most creative way of illustrating what is going on with Satine at that given moment, and how it breaks Christian’s heart. It’s got to be a challenging scene to film with so many dancers, but Luhrmann pulled it off brilliantly. The contrast between the Argentinian guy’s gruff voice and Ewan McGregor’s smooth tenor is just beautiful and adds so much drama and suspense to the scene. Bravo!

Easy Virtue

You know, I’d never picture Jessica Biel and Colin Firth in a movie together, but she held her own surprisingly well amongst the all-British cast (read my full review). This Tango sequence happens towards the end of the movie, and it’s a great scene not only for the dance itself but what it represents. It’s Biel’s character Larita’s final goodbye so to speak as she’s about to move on from the society that’s suffocating her, and when Firth joins in, he’s making a statement to everyone in the room that she’s sticking by Larita. They’re defiant, and doing it in style!

Scent of a Woman

One of the memorable scenes in this 1992 drama is when Pacino’s character, the blind Col. Frank Slade, observed a beautiful young woman (Gabrielle Anwar) waiting for her date and proceeded to lead her to a spectacular tango on the dance floor. Whoo-hah! 🙂


Mask of Zorro


Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have amazing chemistry in this movie, seems as if they’re ready to tear each other’s clothes off every time they meet. So no doubt this Tango scene is muy caliente! Rrrrrrr! 😀


True Lies

According to IMDb’s True Lies‘ trivia, “Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biggest challenge for the movie was not doing all the physical stunts, but dancing a tango.” Ha! You think? That guy is as stiff as a tree trunk! It’s funny how Tia Carere kind of have to be extra sensuous to balance Arnold’s stoic face and movement. But still, just seeing Arnold do the tango is such a hoot that I have to include this scene. Plus, True Lies is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine.

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Oh I feel like dancing now 🙂 Now, feel free to add your own favorite movie dance sequence!