Guest Review: Beauty and The Beast (2017)

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Directed By: Bill Condon
Written By: Stephen Chbosky & Evan Spiliotopoulos
Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes

I cannot begin to explain how excited I was to get to review this movie. If I hadn’t been in a theater with about twenty-five other reviewers, I might have burst into tears as soon as the title appeared on screen. Beauty and the Beast was the first movie I ever saw in theaters, and it will always have a special place in my heart. It’s still one of my favorite movies. It’s a beautiful film, has some of the most memorable songs of all time, and features a princess whose defining characteristic is her love of reading. When I heard about the live-action remake, I was both excited and nervous. I’m not the kind of person who worries that a bad adaptation of a beloved classic will destroy my childhood, but I still wanted to like the new version. Luckily for me, I was not disappointed.

If you’ve been living under a rock your entire life and don’t know the story, Beauty and the Beast is about a beautiful bookworm named Belle (Emma Watson), who lives in a small French village with her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), where her bookish ways are misunderstood by the other townspeople, including Belle’s brawny, brutish suitor, Gaston (Luke Evans). One night, when a traveling Maurice unwittingly trespasses in a castle in the middle of the forest, he is taken prisoner by the beast (Dan Stevens), a prince who was cursed (along with his servants, who were all turned into household objects) by an enchantress. The only way to break the curse is for the beast to find true love, and to be loved in return. Belle bravely offers to trade places with her father, and, over time, begins to see what kind of man the beast can be past his appearance.

As someone who is very sentimental about the original, I can safely say this is an incredibly faithful adaptation. Much of the dialogue from the original is included verbatim in the remake, and there are lots of little moments and details from the animated version that are featured in this one, making me feel wonderfully nostalgic. At the same time, the remake offers some much-needed updates. For example, Belle is a better-developed character in this version. Besides just being a bookworm mostly interested in fairy tales, she helps her father with his creations and shows her own innovation. She’s also more relatable, showing her self-consciousness about how the other villagers view her as “odd.” The romance between Belle and the Beast is better handled as well. The movie shows how their friendship develops first, which makes the transition to romance more believable. The fact that Emma Watson and Dan Stevens have excellent chemistry helps sell it as well.

Besides the actors behind the titular characters, the rest of the cast give wonderful performances as well. Luke Evans and Josh Gad were born to play Gaston and Le Fou. Kevin Kline is a less scatterbrained (but still dreamy) Maurice, and the chemistry between him and Emma is heartwarming. The household staff all gave solid performances, and Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth were especially entertaining.

Besides the adaptation in general, I was mostly nervous about how the singing would be. Emma Watson is a fantastic actress, but I wasn’t sure how she’d do as a singer, and she had some pretty big shoes to fill. Fortunately, she did not disappoint. Watson has a lovely, bright-toned voice, and while it’s not as full-sounding as Paige O’Hara’s was in the original, it was still an excellent fit for the character. Luke Evans gives a decent performance as well; while there isn’t as much bravado in his voice during Gaston as I would like, he really shines in Kill the Beast. Ewan McGregor nails Be Our Guest with his warm, sparkling voice, although something about the number overall feels kind of underwhelming; I’m not sure if the tempo is a little slower, or if the phrasing could be tighter, or there isn’t as much background chorus as there was in the original, but it doesn’t pack the same punch the Oscar-winning number did in the animated version, although it is still enjoyable. Emma Thompson’s rendition of Mrs. Potts’s titular song holds its own against Angela Lansbury’s, which is no small feat. Naturally, Broadway royalty Audra McDonald as Garderobe is the best singer out of the cast, and while her song at the beginning isn’t particularly memorable, she still makes it sound amazing; seriously, she could sing the dictionary and make it sound good. My last music-related critique is that the orchestra is pretty overpowering and tends to drown out the singing a bit.

Lastly, the movie is visually stunning, as anyone who has seen the trailers has probably already gathered. The big group scenes are beautifully shot and reminiscent of the original. The sets are lovely, and the castle is especially breathtaking. The CGI for the beast and the other enchanted characters is very impressive. Most memorable, though, are the costumes; they remain faithful to the animated version while still adding incredible detail. While Belle’s trademark yellow ball gown is gorgeous, my favorite is the one she wears in the final scene of the movie; if I ever get married, I will walk down the aisle in a replica of that dress. 
 While I’m sure I will continue to be skeptical of this wave of live-action remakes Disney has been churning out, Beauty and the Beast is excellent, both as an adaptation of an animated film and as a movie on its own. Whether you’re a hardcore, nostalgic Disney fan like I am or a casual movie-goer, I have no doubt you will enjoy this.

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Have you seen ‘Beauty & The Beast’? Well, what did you think? 

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Weekend Roundup: In a Period Drama Mood

Happy Monday everyone! Another full week in store for me this week, but I’m excited for the Jurassic World and Inside Out screenings back to back Tuesday and Wednesday.

This weekend ends up being rather busy but I managed to fit in a couple of rewatches and a new movie I haven’t seen before, the Irish animated fantasy Song of the Sea (review upcoming). My tumblr feed has been filled with all kinds of Jane Austen gifsets lately and so it puts me in a period drama mood.

BBC Sense & Sensibility (2008)
SenseSensibilityBBC2008

Most Austen fans would say that their favorite is Pride & Prejudice but for me, Sense & Sensibility reigns supreme, followed by Persuasion. So nearly every year I have to watch at least one version of this adaptation. The Ang Lee version is still superior on the whole, it’s after all one of my top five favorite films of all time. But there are quite a lot of things I love about this version, especially in the casting of Hattie Morahan & Dan Stevens as Elinor Dashwood & Edward Ferrars, respectively. Oh and I also love Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood. Hard to beat Alan Rickman but David Morrissey is more than adequate as Col. Brandon and I’ve grown to like his portrayal more and more. I didn’t care for Dominic Cooper as the dashing cad Willoughby though, and still don’t this time around.

Bride & Prejudice (2004) 

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This is a Bollywood version of Austen’s most popular novel. I’ve reviewed it here, and this is such a fun movie to watch over and over. So goofy and at times hilarious, but I think it captures the essence of the story as Austen intended. Aishwarya Rai is mesmerizing as Lalita Bakshi (Lizzie Bennett) despite being far too beautiful in the role. Martin Henderson provides quite an eye candy as Darcy with his dimpled good looks, and fellow Aussie Daniel Gillies makes quite a charming Wickham. Gurinder Chadha did a nice job adapting the classic story and somehow fit it into the Indian culture. I thought that the portrayal of Lizzie’s parents are spot on, especially Mrs. Bakshi who’s unabashedly eager to marry off their daughters. Naveen Andrews makes for the most charming version of Mr. Bingly, can’t imagine any of the British actors be up for THAT kind of vigorous dancing, ahah.

North and South(2004)

I’ve dedicated a post for Richard Armitage‘s performance as John Thornton in this amazing BBC miniseries a while ago. It still stands as one of my top five period dramas of all time!

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From time to time I’d watch clips of this on Netflix streaming, but this weekend I watched the last two episodes… and of course the ‘Look back… look back at me‘ scene gets me every time! Nothing like a gorgeous tortured soul to stir my heart and Armitage looks positively gorgeous as the venerable & vulnerable Mr. Thornton.

The Rise & Fall of Versailles (2009)

Speaking of gorgeous, of course not a weekend passes by these days without at least one Stanley Weber viewing 😉 And because of the recent casting news that Stanley will be portraying a French nobleman in Outlander season 2, I re-watched this documentary on King Louis XV. It’s also available in the full French version called Le Soleil Noir (The Black Sun) which I’ve also seen despite not having English subtitles.

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For anyone who’s into French history, this three-part documentary that goes all the way to the French revolution is fascinating and insightful, not to mention damn right sexy! The French sure knows how to make history lesson so titillating by casting such hot young actors as their monarchs, ahah. Louis XV is known for being quite a virile King with a colorful sexual history and this documentary doesn’t shy away from that. The set pieces and cinematography is fantastic for a TV documentary and it was filmed on location in Versailles. It’s especially fun to watch this as I was just there last year. So Outlander fans curious to see Stanley in French aristocracy regalia, be sure to catch this one and it’s on youtube and Hulu!


Well that’s my weekend, what did YOU watch?

Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2015 Edition

FiveForFifth2015_Spring

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. First things first… well, Twitter erupted with geekgasm yesterday when the third Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer dropped. I have to admit I dug it enough I watched it three times in a row during my lunch break. I’m lucky to have the 23-inch Apple Cinema HD Display at the office 😉

I wasn’t super excited about the first two trailers but now I’m slowly getting more enthusiastic about this sequel. Though I’m much more excited about Captain America 3 that opens May 2016.

For those who’re averse to comic-book stuff, no fret. Far from the Madding Crowd also opens on the same weekend (May 1).

In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.


I never read Thomas Hardy’s famous novel that the movie’s based on but I like the look of this one, sounds like something I’d enjoy. Carey Mulligan is lovely & talented, and this is from the director of The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg, which was one of my top 10 films of 2013.

So are you excited for either one of these?

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2. Check out the FIRST LOOK of Oliver Stone’s thriller SNOWDEN. The film is currently shooting in Munich, before moving to locations around the world.​ Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Snowden before he became the NSA whistle-blower – Edward was an ordinary man who unquestioningly served his country.

Levitt_SnowdenThe movie also stars Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant … and Nicolas Cage! Hmmm, I wonder which role he’d play, and most importantly which hairdo he’ll be sporting 😉

In any case, I’m not convinced yet about Levitt as Snowden, here’s what my casting wish for the role:

I knew the chance of Richard being cast is slim to none, he’s just a big enough name yet for such a role. Now, I’m not exactly a big Oliver Stone fan as director, we’ll see how much creative liberties will be taken for this movie. I think if you want to see the real Snowden, just watch the excellent doc Citizenfour instead.

What’s your initial thoughts of SNOWDEN?

3. Well, Cinderella hasn’t even opened yet and the interweb has been abuzz with the casting of yet another live action Disney adaptation, Beauty & The Beast. Apparently it’ll be a musical, with Emma Watson as Belle, who was cast months ago. Well, this week we’ve got casting news of the Beast himself AND its villain, Gaston: Dan Stevens and Luke Evans respectively. Behold the gorgeous all-Brits main cast:

BeautyandBeastCast

I actually just rewatched some clips of the animated feature not that long ago and looking at the drawings below, I’d say the casting is pretty spot-on physically. Though Stevens would likely have to undergo long hours in the makeup chair to get all big and furry as Beast, which is too bad that they have to cover up that handsome face!

BeautyandBeastAnimated

I personally like this casting. These are impossibly beautiful actors but fortunately they can act and have charismatic screen presence. It’d have been horrid if they cast say, Alex Pettyfer and Liam Hemsworth for example. Not convinced with Bill Condon as director though, but I haven’t seen Dreamgirls yet, so I suppose he has experience directing a musical.

What do you think of this casting bit?

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4. Oh for the times they are a-changin. Nothing could be truer for media distribution landscape, as companies like Amazon and Netflix are entering the foray. Well, this is creating some interesting *shake-up* as four major theater chains are refusing to show Beasts of No Nation, the Cary Fukunaga drama starring Idris Elba that Netflix bought this week for $12 million, because the company is debuting the film simultaneously on its streaming service (per Variety).

Apparently the reason is that “… they do not want to provide screens to films that do not honor what is typically a 90-day delay between a theatrical debut and a home entertainment release.”

Elba_BeastOfNoNation

A drama based on the experiences of Agu, a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country.

NetflixLogoWell, since I have Netflix, it doesn’t bother me much, but this news certainly made me pause a bit. What if it’s the kind of movie I’d LOVE to see on the big screen? There’s only a handful of indie theaters near me, so there’s a likelihood none would even show such films. How big of a game changer this will become remains to be seen, but we might know sooner rather than later. Netflix also announced similar plans to the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that’s supposed to be out in August. It’s also partnering with a bunch of celebs on various projects, the latest is a partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio on documentaries that will premiere exclusively on Netflix.

What are your thoughts on this development?

5. The first 2015 Five for the Fifth’s guest is Natalie from Writer Loves Movies blog!

WriterLovesMovies

We’re seeing some interesting Artificial Intelligence films lately (Her, Ex Machina). Chappie is out soon too. As a kid I loved Johnny 5 from Short Circuit! But as a grown up I’d have to pick Her‘s Samantha, such a clever film.

So, what’s your favorite cinematic AI?


Well, that’s it for the March 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Rental Pick: The Guest (2014)

TheGuestPoster

I always enjoy seeing actors reinvent themselves and one of such actors who did a pretty phenomenal job recently is Dan Stevens. Most of you probably knew him from as Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey, but I first saw the British actor in another period drama, BBC’s Sense & Sensibility. Well, gone is his chubby cheeks and floppy hair. Here he’s sporting a lean, sinewy bod with slicked-back hair AND a Southern drawl. He’s still got those dreamy baby blues though, which he uses to great effect to portray one of the creepiest characters ever.

TheGuest_DanStevens

The story is a simple one. A mysterious stranger, David, suddenly shows up at the door saying that he’s a good friend of the the family’s deceased soldier son. Without bothering to check for his ID, the lady of the house just lets him inside AND invites him to stay the night. Despite initial hesitation (well, barely) the entire family pretty much just welcomes him with open arms and of course things slowly unravels until it completely gets off the rails.

Just like most horror/thriller movies, The Guest is filled with obtuse characters who make a series of glaring mistakes, but that’s sort of part of the fun. The movie isn’t exactly unpredictable as you’d know from the start there is something really off about *David* and that he is not who he says he is. But yet you’re in for the ride to discover just who the heck he is, and the film moves at a swiftly pace that it never overstays his welcome.

TheGuest_MaikaMonroe

Director Adam Wingard has mostly done horror films (V/H/S, You’re Next) and this one certainly has that campy horror feel to it. The style and sound is a throwback to 80s/90s action thrillers, nicely mixed with suspense and humor. Stevens seems to be having a blast being a bad ass action antihero here, and he’s proven to be versatile enough to display affable charm one minute to psychotic menace the next. Maika Monroe is quite good as the daughter in the family who’s much more shrewd than meets the eye.

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The finale in a school’s Halloween maze makeshift is cleverly executed and stylishly shot, complete with a chase through a hall of mirrors. The synth (or goth electronica as they’d like to describe it) music by Steve Moore is pure 80s nostalgia that adds a dose of excitement and amusement to the action-packed scene. I’ve featured it on a Music Break here, it’s a great example where the music sets the tone of the movie brilliantly. Glad I finally saw this one, and it lives up to the great reviews this movie’s been getting and it’s surely destined to be a cult classic. Despite some decidedly-cheesy and predictable moments, it’s definitely one of the most entertaining offerings of 2014 and I definitely want to see more of this naughty side of Dan Stevens 😉

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What do you think of The Guest?

 

Everybody’s Chattin’ and Music Break featuring THE GUEST Soundtrack

EverybodysChattinWinter

It’s already three weeks into January and I just realize I haven’t done a Community Links nor a Music Break post. So why not combine the two again, right? Having just seen The Guest, I knew I had to do a post on the awesome 80s retro soundtrack! I really enjoyed the movie too, review up sometime in the next few days.

So here are what blogger’s been chattin’ about this past week:

There are still a lot of 2014 recaps circulating on the blogosphere and I actually still have one more year-end recap list on Top 10 MALE Performances that I’m hoping to finalize this week yet.

Best2014RecapWell, speaking of cinematic recaps, Margaret and Keith just posted theirs and it’s an absolute blast reading ’em! LOVE all the creative categories highlighting the best and worst of the year.

Kudos to Eric for finishing his 50 Movies Project! Here’s how he ranked all those films, consider this a list of film recommendations too!

Now switching gears to 2015 Movie Watching plans and glad to see Melissa and Abbi joining the Blindspot series! Check out their film selections on their respective blogs.

I wasn’t going to include any more award-related stuff until Oscar telecast later in late February, but Josh just posted about how his Oscar predictions (which he started 9 months ago!) lined up with the actual nominations.

Now on to reviews!

Dell just posted his review of Selma and Andrew posted his thoughts on the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself. Meanwhile, Natalie and Mark just reviewed the surprise box office smash American Sniper.

Last but not least, Tim just reviewed T3ken which I hope Bryan Mills won’t read, ahah. Seems like it’s as hilariously awful as the trailer!


Now time for some awesome music …

theguest_danstevens2… bad ass & deliciously creepy Dan Stevens!

Here’s another fun action flick from last year besides John Wick that has a hint of 80s/90s retro, not just in terms of the film’s style but also in the soundtrack! Nerdist.com posted an interview with director Adam Wingard about how he crafted the soundtrack,

“…I was thinking more ’80s goth rock stuff like Death In June but as we made the picture, I realized the movie was going in a more poppy direction [becoming] less dark as the movie developed and that kind of evolved more into 80s goth electronica as opposed to straight up ’80s goth rock”

As with a lot of stuff, everything old is new again and the nostalgia factor is what makes it awesome 😀 My favorite track happens to be the same one that Stevens’ character David love! It’s called Anthonio by Norwegian recording artist Annie released back in 2009. I also love the ending score by Steve Moore.



Hope you enjoyed today’s Music Break!

Five for the Fifth: SEPTEMBER 2014 Edition

FiveForFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. As customary with Five for the Fifth, I’d like to highlight a filmmaker/actor who’s having a birthday today. Well, it so happens that Paddy Considine turns 41 today.

PaddyConsidine

The underrated British actor is perhaps most well-known to mainstream audiences from his brief role in Bourne Ultimatum, remember the Waterloo station scene? I actually first saw Paddy in the excellent 2002 drama In America, as well as in two of the Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy: Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. Aside from being a terrific actor, Considine is also an acclaimed filmmaker. He won a BAFTA for his directing work in Tyrannosaur starring Peter Mullan.

So what’s your favorite film from this talented English actor?
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2. I haven’t posted a trailer in a while and this one caught my attention from the past week, Escobar: Paradise Lost.

In Colombia, a young surfer meets the woman of his dreams – and then he meets her uncle, Pablo Escobar.

I thought that the casting of Josh Hutcherson as the young surfer is interesting as I’ve only seen him in The Hunger Games so far. Benicio del Toro seems suited to play the mighty powerful Colombian drug kingpin, and he looks quite menacing in the trailer.

EscobarParadiseLost

I’ve been meaning to check out this documentary called The Two Escobars that focuses on the lives of two unrelated men who shares the same last name but somehow their lives were inextricably – and fatally – intertwined. Now I’m not sure how historically-accurate Paradise Lost is, other than using Pablo’s character in the story.

Thoughts on this one? Does the trailer pique your interest?

3. Most of you are probably familiar with Dan Stevens from his Downton Abbey role as Matthew Crawley. Well, if you google him now, he looks quite different from his Downton days. He apparently lost a lot of weight and had been training extensively to look leaner and athletic. I wasn’t watching the show yet when he reportedly left the show to pursue a Hollywood career, and so far it seems, it’s paid off.

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Stevens in Downton Abbey
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Stevens in The Guest
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Stevens in Walk Among the Tombstones

The English actor seems adamant to shed his period drama image as his upcoming roles are pretty bad ass. He’s playing the lead in The Guest as a soldier who introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. It’s an R-rated thriller that looks quite sinister. Another film he’s starring that’s also out this month looks to be quite a violent one. This time he’s playing supporting role to Liam Neeson’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, as a Brooklyn drug trafficker  whose wife was murdered.

The actor’s uprooted his family to NYC as well, perhaps to make things easier for his career as Hollywood beckons. Quoted in Daily Mail, he admitted that it was the hardest decision he had to make leaving Downton, but he said ‘I’ve got an appetite to learn new things. It’s nothing more than that.’

So my question to you is, which actor/actress (be it TV or film) would you like to see reinvent themselves in a similar fashion?

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4. Ok, now some casting news that’s been circulating the blogosphere this past week. Well, this happens to be a remake of Escape from New York that’s been in development hell for some time, heh perhaps that’s a sign they should’ve left it well enough alone? Reportedly Charlie Hunnam has just been cast as Snake Plissken, a role that Kurt Russell was perhaps best known for.

Hunnam_SnakePlissken
Apparently Dan Stevens was up for the role as well, interestingly enough. I think Hunnam is better-suited as Plissken though, he’s got more of that devil-may-care grit and bad-assery about him that comes more naturally to him than Stevens. I remember a few years back there were reports that Russell was miffed that the studio was considering Gerry Butler, a Scot, to play an iconic all-American role. Ahah well, this time they gave it to an English actor anyway. Seems that Hunnam’s one busy actor, he’s also working on yet another King Arthur adaptation (directed by Guy Ritchie) with him in the title role.

In any case, here’s the rumored plot for the Escape of New York remake per Firstshowing: Rather than just focusing on Snake Plissken venturing through the prison that is New York, this time the story sees Plissken teaming with “a rogues gallery of criminals who look to leave the island-turned-prison in exchange for the rescue of the captured U.S. President.”

What do you think of this casting news and this remake project in particular?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is my pal Tim from Tim Film Reviews Blog.

TimFilmReviewsSo here it is in his own words:

It’s a question I’ve been pondering since the recent release schedule. Most people associate comic-book movies with big budget tentpole Summer movies, but there are actually quite a few small to medium budget movies made well under $100M. Dredd, Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim, Blade, Hellboy, etc. just to name a few.

Well, do you think superhero/comic book films should get a big-budget treatment?


Well, that’s it for the September 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Most-Anticipated Movies of the rest of 2014 (September – December)

most_anticipated_restof_2014

Well, since I’ve posted my Top 10 of the year so far and Summer Blockbuster Months are quickly coming to a close. I’ve already got my eyes set on what’s in store for the rest of 2014! Now, there are going to be movies I’ll be seeing next month that aren’t on this list because well, I’m not really hugely anticipating them. In fact, there is no movie that screams MUST SEE in all of August, though most likely I would be seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, Into the Storm, Expendables 3 and Sin City 3, so I’m just going to start the list with September all the way to the end of the year.

   Sept2014

A Walk Among the Tombstones (Sept 19)

WalkAmongTombstones

Private investigator Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is hired by a drug kingpin (Dan Stevens) to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, Scudder races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again.

Director: Scott Frank
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Ruth Wilson


Ok so normally this isn’t my cup of tea but I quite like this cast. Neeson is always reliable in bad ass action movies, but it’s most interesting to see Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens (who’s also in BBC’s Sense & Sensibility) and miss Jane Eyre herself Ruth Wilson. Seems that Stevens wants to break into Hollywood but I didn’t expect to see him in two R-rated thrillers in the same year, he’s also in The Guest that’s supposed to be out in the Fall as well.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Sept 26 – Limited)

EleanorRigbyMcAvoyChastain1

Once happily married, Conor and Eleanor suddenly find themselves as strangers longing to understand each other in the wake of tragedy. The film explores the couple’s story as they try to reclaim the life and love they once knew and pick up the pieces of a past that may be too far gone.

Director: Ned Benson
Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain

I’ve made a full post on this one so visit that page for more details on that movie, so you can watch the trailer there.

Mildly interested in:

The Two Faces of January (Sept 26 – Limited)

A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who flee Athens after one of them is caught up in the death of a private detective.

Director: Hossein Amini
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac

I had never heard of this before last night, but Viggo and Oscar in the same movie? Yes please! The trailer looks pretty gripping, though this is a feature film debut from a screenwriter with a rather spotty track record, so we shall see I guess. Should be worth a rental with this cast, at the very least.

The Drop (Sept 12)

Bob Saginowski finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost.

Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini

Interestingly enough, last year I had another movie with Noomi Rapace (Dead Man Down) on my most-anticipated list but I still haven’t seen that movie. Apparently this is Mr. Gandolfini’s last screen appearance, which would make this rather bittersweet. I do like Hardy but the trailer is pretty meh, but who knows, it could still be a good one.


Oct2014

Gone Girl (Oct 3)

GoneGirl

With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Missi Pyle, Neil Patrick Harris

It’s been four years since I saw anything by Fincher (The Social Network). He did The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which isn’t my cup of tea, but this who-dun-it type of thriller intrigues me. I read that Gillian Flynn, the author the novel is based on, is interested in ‘exploring the psychology and dynamics of a long-term relationship.’ To me, the slow-burn, character-driven approach is certainly far more intriguing than just a fast-paced action thriller. I always think that Affleck is a better actor than director but hopefully he does all right here. I do like Rosamund, glad she’s getting more prominent roles in Hollywood.

,,,

Birdman (Oct 17)

Birdman

A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough


Nice to see Keaton in a leading role again, and given that he did play an iconic superhero before certainly feels like it’s art imitating life. Billed as a comedy, a dark comedy no doubt, this looks as bizarre as ever! I’ve only seen Babel and 21 Grams from Iñárritu which were both dark and grim, so I’m curious to see him direct a comedy. Oh, and I also love miss Riseborough, though I’ve been hoping the talented Brit would score a leading role soon.

Mildly interested in:

The Judge (Oct 10)

TheJudge

Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.

Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga

It’s been a while since I saw RDJ on screen without his Iron Man suit, but this premise doesn’t immediately appeal to me. I’ll see what the buzz says if this one is worth seeing on the big screen.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (Oct 24)

KingsmanSecretService

Based upon the comic book by Mark Millar, and depicts a veteran secret agent who leads a young protege into the world of espionage.

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth, Mark Hamill, Mark Strong, Michael Caine

When I first saw the poster a few weeks ago at a local cinema, it definitely piqued my interest! There’s not a single name on it, but I knew Vaughn had directed X-Men: First Class. Well, now that the trailer is out, I actually don’t know what to make of it, and not in a good way. Sure the cast is awesome but I just don’t have a good feeling this would actually be an awesome movie. Still, color me intrigued, let’s hope the movie would be as good as the poster!


 Nov2014

Interstellar (Nov 7)

Interstellar

A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck


Ok so every single time I saw this trailer I kind of teared up a little. Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here, the tagline says. Just what the heck does it even mean? It’s as cryptic as ever, as most Nolan’s films that’s based on his own concepts are, but I know I can’t wait to see it! The cast is terrific, though most of them are Nolan regulars, esp. Michael Caine. I’ve been intrigued by McConaughey’s casting here, but I expect that he, as well as the film, will deliver!

Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part I (Nov 21)

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Katniss Everdeen reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the autocratic Capitol.

Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland


The promos for this one has been doing a phenomenal job in getting me pumped for this movie. The second movie ended in such a cliffhanger that got me all riled up. I still wish they hadn’t split the finale, but this cash-grab trend seems to be here to stay [sigh]. In any case, it’d be sad to see Philip Seymour Hoffman here, he’s SO good as Plutarch, he’s the one I most look forward to seeing on this final installments!

The Imitation Game (Nov 21)

TheImitationGame

A historical drama film about British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist Alan Turing, a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code that helped the Allies win World War II, who was later criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality.

Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode


Mr. Turing certainly has an incredible story worth-telling, and with Cumberbatch playing him, it naturally piques my interest. I LOVE espionage movies, even more intriguing that it’s based on a true story. The all-British cast looks great, nice to see Matthew Goode here as well. That guy is so underrated it’s criminal! I sure hope this would fare much better than Cumberbatch’s previous biopic [on Julian Assange] The Fifth Estate, but if it’s anything like the emotional & gripping trailer, I can’t imagine it’d be worse.

Mildly interested in:

Big Hero 6 (Nov 7)

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A group of six superheroes are recruited by the government to protect the nation.

Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Starring: Alan Tudyk, Jamie Chung, Maya Rudolph, Genesis Rodriguez

I had never even heard about this project before but the trailer does look funny. It has the Wreck-It Ralph! feel to it, so it should be pretty enjoyable.


Dec2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Dec 17)

The Company of Thorin has reached Smaug’s lair; but can Bilbo and the Dwarves reclaim Erebor and the treasure? And, if so, can they hold on to it?

Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage

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I know some people call this whole trilogy thing a cash grab and all but I’m not one of them. I LOVE this universe and Peter Jackson’s so committed to this whole franchise and he has a palpable love for this story. I can’t wait to see the final journey for all the characters, especially Thorin & his band of dwarves in their quest to reclaim their lost kingdom. Wish they’d release a trailer already, but hopefully that’ll happen soon!

Unbroken (Dec 25)

Unbroken

World War II hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a former Olympic track star, survives a plane crash in the Pacific, spends 47 days drifting on a raft, and then more than two and a half years living in several Japanese prisoner of war camps.

Director: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Miyavi, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund


The story of Mr. Zamperini is an extraordinary one to be sure. Not only what he has endured, to hell and back, but what he did after he survived the whole ordeal. The devoutly-Christian man actually sought out those who’ve tortured him during the war and forgave them. What a perfect story to experience on Christmas Day!

Mildly interested in:

Exodus: Gods & Kings (Dec 12)

Exodus_Moses

An interpretation of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt as led by Moses and related in the Old Testament Book of Exodus.

Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul

I’m all for Biblical stories… well, so long as it actually respects the source material. The Moses I know from the Bible  I love the actors but they all seem miscast to me and this trailer did nothing to alleviate my dread about this project. Totally agree with Drew on this: “Moses is apparently the next Maximus, which has me worried that Scott wants so badly to recreate Gladiator that he’s literally going to botch the whole thing. Moses was not a warrior. This is not scripture.” I still have a sliver of hope that Ridley Scott would somehow prove me wrong about this movie, but I’m not holding my breath.


Well, that’s just what I’m looking forward to in the next five months. Which one(s) are you most excited about?

Weekend Roundup… and it’s FlixChatter’s 4th Blog-a-versary!

Hello everyone! I trust that you had a pleasant weekend, well I hope you do anyway. The Summer season is still so very elusive, I mean I still have to wear jacket and it’s June darn it!!

So yeah, watching The Kings of Summer a few days ago was quite frustrating, I mean, as soon as I left the theater, there’s no warm, sunny scenery to match what I’ve just seen on screen 😦 But hey, I’m not gonna be too gloomy about it, after all, FlixChatter hit a milestone this weekend, well today June 9th to be exact. Thanks to WordPress notification, apparently I’ve been blogging for about four years now…

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I was quite unprepared for this blog anniversary, but I do want to take the time to …

ThankYou

Yes, THANKS to each and every one of you who’ve come and visit this week blog. To those loyal visitors and commenters (you know who you are), I’m especially grateful for your constant support.

Special thank you to Kevin a.k.a. Jack Deth and Ted S. for your awesome contributions here. I appreciate every single ‘likes’ and comment, as every blogger would tell you, it’s what makes all the work worthwhile. So keep ’em coming 😀

IpMan_posterWell, this weekend I only managed to see one new film and it was an excellent one. I’ve been wanting to see Ip Man with Donnie Yen, which is a a semi-biographical account of the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. I was curious about it as the real Ip Man (or Yip Man), in which this film was loosely based on, was credited as one of Bruce Lee’s martial arts instructors!

Someone on Twitter also recommended Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster with Tony Leung in the title role, too bad it’s not on Netflix! Anyway, I’m going to defer my review until I see the sequel, but I highly recommend Ip Man if you like great stories about an inspiring person, whether you’re into Kung Fu or not.

This weekend I’ve also been getting my period drama ‘fix’ if you will, with BBC’s North & South and Sense & Sensibility. Not only are these miniseries are so well-crafted and well-acted all around, both have such mesmerizing-ly beautiful leading men, Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars, respectively. No doubt both are on my list of favorite period drama heroes 😀

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I’m glad I own both films as they just never get old and every time I need a little pick-me-up, I can just pop ’em in to my Blu-ray player, sit back and indulge in a wonderful story telling and gorgeous scenery.


Anyway, stay tuned for my review of ‘The Kings of Summer’ coming tomorrow. So, what did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

Musings on Downton Abbey – seven things that got me hooked on the show

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Well, two years after this show premiered on PBS in January 2011, and after the urging of several friends, I finally saw my first episode of Downton Abbey. Being an anglophile AND a fan of period dramas, this show has the ingredients of the kind of show I’d be into, and I’m glad to report that indeed Julian Fellowes’ popular period drama does not disappoint!

Here are just seven things that got me hooked:

Bear in mind I’ve only seen two episodes, so these are just my first impression of the show that made me want to keep on watching.

• The story

DowntonAbbeyEstateThe social class of 20th century England makes for a fascinating drama, especially the fact that much like Gosford Park, the story focus on both the haves and the have-nots, kind of like Upstairs Downstairs but in a much bigger house, as my colleague calls it. There are just so many layers in the stories across social classes. I love how the series weave in and out of the lives of both the masters and the servants, and how money and status clearly doesn’t buy happiness as both classes have their own set of problems! Despite the fact that the masters of the house are treated like Kings and Queens, I like the fact that this show is NOT about British monarchy. It is essentially about one wealthy family, both a family by blood and marriage and also the group of servants living together like one family, all living under one roof. The servants care about the house as much as their masters do, as Carson the unmarried butler tells a fellow staff, “They’re all the family I’ve got!”

Fellowes — who won an Oscar for writing Gosford Park — certainly know how to craft a juicy story of people from all backgrounds. From sibling rivalry to servant rivalry, people of all classes plotting for and against one another to get or keep what they want, it’s a feuding frenzy with manners!

• The cast

It’s always fun to see British shows as they often recycle their actors. I’m familiar with a few of the faces in Downton Abbey even if I don’t know their names. The two I am accustomed with are Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith (collaborating again with Fellows after Gosford Park), one of my three favorite British Dames. I’m thrilled to see the always-reliable Bonneville in a leading role and a serious one at that. I’ve only seen him in comedies (Notting Hill, Mansfield Park, The Vicars of Dibley, etc.) but he definitely has the chops as a dramatic actor. He has such a pleasant countenance and dignity as Robert Crawley or Lord Grantham, the head of the massive estate and patriarch of the Crawley family.

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Another actor I’m familiar with is Dan Stevens. I featured him in the Jane Austen rain scenes list, as I adore him as Edward Ferrars in the BBC miniseries of Sense & Sensibility. I much prefer him to Hugh Grant in that role. As the presumptive heir Matthew Crawley, he’s perhaps the most relatable to most audiences as he and his mother Isobel represent the middle class, not used to living in a big castle with so many servants. It’s always amusing to see how Violet sneered at Matthew working as a lawyer and Isobel serving in the hospital because of her nursing background. Even the servants give disparaging remarks, murmuring that ‘real gentlemen don’t have an occupation.’

• The characters

Characters are the spice of any film or show. They’re the ones that stick with you long after you’re done watching ’em, and this show is chock full of great, memorable ones! I’m going to hold off listing my favorites until I see at least the first season, but the Crawley family, both Robert & Cora Crawley, the American heiress, plus Robert’s mother, Violet a.k.a Dowager Countess of Grantham are all very fascinating. The tentative relationship between Violet and Cora is fun to watch, and not only because the nature of the a wife and her mother in law is ripe of conflicts, but their different cultural background also makes it even more intriguing.

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And amongst the servants, I’m very intrigued by John Bates, the limping valet and the conniving footman Thomas who wants his job. There is something sinister simmering beneath the surface of both men, though Bates seemed like the ‘victim’ initially. Brendan Coyle is brilliant as Bates, as he was in North & South with Richard Armitage. I’m also intrigued by Lady Mary’s turbulent love life, which surely will get even more juicy as the series progresses.

• The dialog

Dame Maggie Smith seems to have the most great one-liners, and some of my friends who’ve seen the entire 3 seasons said the same thing. She’s quite the scene-stealer in this show, she’s a highlight in every episode.  There’s something about her shrewd delivery that made those lines sound even better!

Cora, Countess of Grantham: Are we to be friends then?
Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham: We are allies, which can be a good deal more effective.

When she complained about the bright chandelier is such a hoot, normally I’d be annoyed by a wealthy woman complaining about the most trivial things in life, but the way Maggie Smith delivered it is just amusing.

Violet: Oh, dear, such a glare. I feel as if I were on stage at the Gaiety.

Can’t wait to hear more memorable lines as I catch up with more episodes!

• The historical lesson

A mix of historical events with fictional stories are always fascinating to me. The series started with the shocking news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 12, 1912.

On board of the Titanic was the heir-presumptive of the Grantham estate, whom Lady Mary Crawley was betrothed to, so naturally that caused a major problem as the Crawleys have no son. Oh man, I’m glad I wasn’t born in those days. Not only that we couldn’t inherit anything, we couldn’t even earn our fortune either! In any case, Downton Abbey is essentially one big soap opera comprised of convoluted family drama, unbridled ambition and all kinds of scandals, but the historical setting and events make it feel more ‘grounded’ and not as superficial as it otherwise would.

I think season 2 would be set around World War I, which will bring a set of new issues for the Crawleys. Learning about class division and the prevalent cultures of the times couldn’t have been any more enjoyable!

• The costumes and set pieces

As a big fan of costume dramas, I expect to see gorgeous clothes and fashion of the times. Unlike in the Jane Austen era where the women’s figure is hidden under ginormous empire dresses, the clothes in post-Edwardian show more of a woman’s figure in their gorgeous gowns. Costume designer Susannah Buxton has won Emmy and Bafta awards for her astounding work.

DowntonAbbeyCostumes

There are sooo much eye candy in this series, and the costumes is definitely one of them. It’s such a treat for fashion lovers! The set design and architecture are fantastic as well, everything in and out of the estate is meticulously crafted down to its last detail which is just astounding. Just from the first episode alone, I’m in love with Lady Mary’s elaborate black choker below, soooo beautiful and such a perfect complement to her black lace dress.

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Not only are the costumes beautiful to look at, but the production team of the show seem to have done their research to ensure historical accuracy. What each servant, footman, valet wore at the time are as crucial as what the masters put on as they reflect the measure of status. Reading the PBS site of the show, apparently the footmen were hired for their good looks and height, with the taller footmen earning a higher salary.

• The music

Since I haven’t made my Music Break post this week, I’m including John Lunn’s terrific score for the show. Lunn won an Emmy for Original Dramatic Score, and it’s become one of my favorites!

In an interview with THR, Lunn shared that he didn’t want to simply use library samples chosen by programmers, he insisted on using real musicians. He’s also mindful about the strength of the show, which is the dialog: “We use a 35-piece string orchestra, a solo piano and the odd solo instrument like a French horn and that’s about it. One of the reasons for a string orchestra is that it sits well under dialogue. You can have quite a lot of underscore without swamping the dialogue.”

Great music adds so much to the tone and mood of any production. All that drama, passion, intrigue of the show is reflected in the soundtrack. It really takes me back to the era and has that lush, beautiful melody that soothes the soul.


Well, do you watch Downton Abbey? What’s YOUR favorite parts about it? No spoilers please, thank you!

Memorial Weekend Viewing Roundup and LAMMY 2012 Updates

LOVE a four-day work week, don’t you? Well for us Americans, we enjoy an extra weekend day as Monday was Memorial Day. The weather was glorious on Monday so my friends and I spent most of the day outside picnicking at a small park.

I did do some blogging over the weekend as I got tagged to do the Best Actress Relay Race thing and also the Horseathon I signed up a few weeks back. So with the FCM Blogathon last week, that’s like 3 blog events in one week! 😀 It’s all in good fun of course, I enjoyed doing all of them.

Speaking of blog events, well I want to thank all of you who have voted for yours truly in the LAMMY 2012 Awards!

The nominations are in (which you can listen here or search for ‘LAMBcast’ on iTunes). I found out today that FlixChatter was amongst the seven nominees for Best Blog! WOW, that’s the one category I didn’t even campaign for as I didn’t think this wee blog would even qualify for the Big Kahuna. So THANK YOU friends [bowing head], I’m utterly grateful for simply being nominated, especially amongst such great company…

Congrats to my fellow nominees:
Stevee, Fogs, Ryan, Castor, Dylan and John!


While we’re at it, have you checked out the latest LAMB Acting School 101 featuring one of my fave actresses Cate Blanchett? No? Well, what are you waiting for? There are tons of awesome posts on the massively talented thespian.

Now, on to the weekend roundup…

I skipped the cinema again as there wasn’t really anything I really wanted to see. Moonrise Kingdom hasn’t made its way over to my neck of the woods. Apparently a lot of people went to see Men In Black III though, it made a whopping $70 mil domestically (over $200 mil worldwide), but according to EW, considering the $230 mil budget PLUS marketing and distribution cost, MIB 3 likely needs to take in at least $650 million just to break even!

So my weekend viewing consisted mostly of movie rewatch.

My girlfriends and I saw the 2008’s BBC miniseries Sense & Sensibility as one of my friends is really into Downton Abbey which also stars Dan Stevens. I really enjoyed this miniseries and it really was a pretty decent adaptation. But after watching this one, we all concluded just how superior the Ang Lee’s movie version is (my ALL TIME favorite movie, natch), and Emma Thompson’s script is just brilliant.

We do agree that Dan Stevens is far more compelling and attractive as Edward Ferrars. But Greg Wise is still the better Willoughby compared to Dominic Cooper so I guess that even things out 🙂
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I also couldn’t resist rewatching one of my guiltiest pleasures… somewhat inspired by my pal Terrence’s Celebrity Crush Confession post 🙂 Though he’s been somewhat absent for a while on this blog, I still carry a torch for Gerry Butler and this TV miniseries from 2001, Attila, reminds me why. He’s so ridiculously hunky as the king of the huns, his grey-green eyes never looked so piercing against his dark, tanned skin and that unruly jet black hair. Yes I’m well aware that the real Attila certainly doesn’t look like the 6’2″ Scotsman, but heh, historical accuracy be damned I say 😉

Seeing him here made me think he’s destined to play King Leonidas, his formidable screen presence is undeniable and he’s got this ruggedly regal aura about him that commands allegiance. Powers Boothe is great as his Roman friend/foe Flavius Aetius and Tim Curry provides some comic relief as the sneering Theodosius.
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One of my all time favorite sci-fi comedy, Galaxy Quest, is still as funny as the first time I saw it years ago. Man the cast is just awesome. I mean anything with Alan Rickman is bound to be awesome, plus there’s Sigourney Weaver, Tim Allen AND Sam Rockwell in a brilliant spoof of Star Trek and you’ve got yourself a comedy gold! I had forgotten about Rockwell’s part but man he really should do more comedies, he was a firecracker in Iron Man 2, especially when he’s showing off all the crazy weapons.

There are so many hilarious scenes to choose from but I think my fave part is the launch sequence when the crew’s trying to get the ship off the dock and Tommy had no idea to pilot a real ship. It keeps veering off to the left and scratch the sides, making this annoying squeeeeeEEEeeeEEEEeeeeee sound. Rickman’s expression here is just priceless! I’m glad I bought the Blu-ray as I wouldn’t mind watching this one over and over.


Well, that’s my weekend roundup. What did you watch this weekend? Anything good?