NOVEMBER 2016 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

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Well I guess we better get used to saying ‘see ya next year’ now that we’ve only got a month left in 2016! Of course now that award season is officially in full swing, there’s a slew of new film screenings coming in December! I sure hope next month isn’t going to be too snowy. I don’t mind cold temps so long as it won’t cause traffic havoc, which always happen whenever there’s a snowstorm.

After a hectic October, I only watched a third of what I did last month. But I had been busy planning a script reading in January and I also did a phone pitch to a producer in the UK for the first time. I bought a pitch session via Stage 32 site just to see if I could do it, it was nerve-wracking!

In any case, stay tuned for some of the interviews from TCFF I haven’t posted yet, i.e. my chat w/ indie comedy Funeral Day‘s director Jon Weinberg and star Dominic Rains.

Here are movies I saw in October:

New-to-me Movies

(Click on the underlined titles for a full review)

drstrange

Doctor Strange (2016)

xmenapocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

arrival

Arrival (2016)

welltakemanhattan

We’ll Take Manhattan (2012)

allied

Allied (2016)

wilderpeople

Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016)

littleprince

The Little Prince (2015)

loving

Loving (2016)

fantasticbeasts

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016)

theshallows

The Shallows (2016)

cairotime

Cairo Time (2009)

talesbylight

Tales By Light documentary (2016)

We also got to see season 1 of this amazing Netflix Original documentary. It follows five photographers around the world documenting their approach to photography and story telling. A must for photography lovers, or those who appreciate beautiful imagery (and who doesn’t?)
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Movies I look forward to in December

So far I’ve RSVP-ed to see Miss Sloane, Jackie, Passengers, and Rogue One in the next couple of weeks. My blog contributor Laura S. will be watching/reviewing Office Christmas Party, Why Him?, and Collateral Beauty. There are even screenings scheduled for January and I can’t wait to see Hidden Figures!


Rewatches


Casablanca
| Sing Street | Love and Friendship

After watching the sputtering Allied (thanks for that description Cindy!) which has many scenes in Morroco, I’ve convinced my hubby to finally watch the masterful classic WWII romance Casablanca! Well let’s just say it was still amazing and though it looked beautiful, it wasn’t style over substance. The other two films were in my top 10 fave movies of the year. I’m glad Sing Street is on Netflix now, and I watched Love & Friendship on the plane back from Vegas.


MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

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We have a tie again this month! I have written a review of Hunt For the Wilderpeople and Arrival that I’ll be posting next week. They’re two very different films in terms of tone and plot, but both are excellent in their own right. You can rent ‘Wilderpeople’ now and Arrival is in theaters, so I highly recommend both of these if you haven’t seen them already. Both will surely make it to my top 10 BEST of the year!


Well that’s my viewing recap of NOVEMBER. What’s YOUR favorite film(s) of the month?

FlixChatter Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

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I have to admit I wasn’t really anticipating this movie at all. I wasn’t familiar with this character at all and honestly, I have grown a bit tired of seeing Benedict Cumberbatch, though I did like him before he was super famous from playing Sherlock. Now it’s no fault of his but I tend to lose interest fast when an actor becomes overexposed.

In any case, I still went into the screening expecting to be entertained. To a degree, Doctor Strange was a pretty fun movie with some humorous moments. Yet I feel that it treads such familiar grounds. It’s basically similar to Iron Man‘s origin story, but with magic thrown in. We also got a hero who started out as a rich, arrogant genius who suffered a major accident. They also extend their hand just so to exert their power. Perhaps because Iron Man was still a bit of a novelty when it came out 8 years ago in 2008, it made a lot more impact to me and Robert Downey Jr’s performance was quite indelible.

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Stephen Strange’s journey all the way to the Himalayas also reminds me of Batman Begins. But instead of an East-Asian character as The Ancient One, Strange’s spiritual mentor is now a bald woman of Celtic origin with posh British accent (Tilda Swinton). To be honest, all the quantum physics and mysticism concept are lost on me. It was some gobbledygook that never became involving enough to me, though I did get a kick out of the rather comedic Cloak of Levitation. I think my favorite part in the entire movie is when the cloak attaches itself to Strange as he walks on, it was a moment he sort of becomes a superhero.

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Just like the lead, the supporting cast are full of massively accomplished actors. Fellow Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and British actor Benedict Wong are both in the camp of the Ancient One who became Strange’s allies. It’s rare to see an actor named Benedict to begin with, let alone having TWO of them in the same movie! I love the interactions between the two Benedicts, though the Beyonce/Adele joke seems rather out of place in this universe. There’s also the talented Mads Mikkelsen, once again sporting weird eye makeup as a villain, but he’s nowhere near as menacing nor effective as he did in Casino Royale. There is very little character development in this movie and none of the relationships elicit any kind of emotion, especially the one between him and fellow surgeon Christine (a wasted Rachel McAdams). That said, Cumberbatch himself acquits himself well in the role. He certainly has that ‘cocky genius’ thing down pat, though I wouldn’t call Doctor Strange my fave Marvel superhero by a long stretch.

As for the visual effects. I think it’s to be expected that a $165 mil movie would deliver something great to look at. The space visuals is reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy, whilst the whole folding architecture thing is slightly more robust than what we’ve seen in Inception. The movie has a a Groundhog day-style finale with a character encountering death over and over again, going against an entirely CG character, a nemesis called Dormammu that’s apparently also voiced by Cumberbatch. It was kind of a ho-hum ending to me, it was neither intriguing nor emotional in the slightest. The plot seems predictable and seems rather ‘convenient,’ and not once do I feel that the hero was in any great danger.

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I generally like Marvel movies, even those I was initially skeptical about like Thor. But overall I was underwhelmed by Doctor Strange. I think it could’ve been a much better film, or at least just a tad more thought-provoking instead of just mildly entertaining. The script (partly written by director Scott Derrickson) just wasn’t provocative, thought provoking nor memorable. I’m feeling generous in rating this one because I do like the cast, though the movie probably more of a 2.5/5 for me. I think it’s one of the weakest MCU movies so far, and I’m honestly flabbergasted by the high Rotten Tomatoes rating! (But then again I think their algorithm is botched. I mean the same exact rating from two reviewers can be fresh or rotten, huh??) In any case, there’s a post-credit scene but by then I have lost interest in this inevitable franchise entirely.

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So, what are your thoughts on ‘Doctor Strange’?

Five for the Fifth: November 2016 Edition

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. Hello everyone! As I’m posting this, I’ve just finished packing for a quick trip to Zion National Park, UT and Las Vegas! I’m in desperate need for a break after a super busy October, so suffice to say I’m taking a bit of blogging break as well.

Well, I occasionally like to highlight my vacation destination on my blog, and there are tons of movies set in Las Vegas. Here are just a sampling of some of memorable movies set in Sin City:

So what’s your fave film(s) set in Vegas? 

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2. One of my most-anticipated movie of 2017 (if not THE most) is Wonder Woman. Well the second trailer just wet my appetite even more!! Seriously, it’s been over 120 years since the invention of the motion picture and FINALLY we get a feature film of a female superhero!

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I know this is just a trailer, but it’s enough to get me all verklempt on Thursday when I first saw it… thank you Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot, who looks phenomenal as the bad-ass Amazonian princess!! This movie is poised to be the BEST DC superhero movie to date… but not the worst part is the wait! The movie will be released in June, 2017.

 

Now, switching gear to a fun Honest Trailer on BBC’s Sherlock, which is perfect timing considering Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Doctor Strange opens this weekend.

I had a good chuckle watching this, it’s pretty spot on! Watson as the original cumberbitch, ahah! I used to like Benedict before he became ultra-famous, as you know I have a penchant for the more unknown, underrated actors. Not saying Benedict isn’t talented but really Hollywood, there are a plethora of equally talented Brits out there too [hint: Sam Riley] 😉

Anyhoo, thoughts about either one of these trailers?

3. We’re just about three months away from Oscar telecast on Feb. 26, 2017, and award season has pretty much started with TIFF, so it’s never too early to talk about Oscar contenders! Since I just came out of Twin Cities Film Fest, I’ve mentioned on my recap post that one of the films that resonated with me most is Moonlight. I had read several reviews as well as interviews with writer/director Barry Jenkins, particularly this one in Esquire.

… Moonlight is neither a black film nor a gay film. “We’re not reaching for this great statement about [race or] sexuality,” Jenkins said. “What we’re reaching for is a portrait of people who are just trying to get through life.”

It’s so refreshing that Moonlight isn’t a big political/social agenda, it feels grounded and personal and that’s why it resonates so much with me. I think anyone of all races who loves great storytelling should absolutely see this and THIS is the film I’ll be rooting for on Oscar night!

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Mahershala Ali in ‘Moonlight’

I’d be seriously miffed if this film wasn’t at least nominated, I mean if there is justice in this world, Barry Jenkins should be getting multiple noms for writing & directing, and it’d be a bonus to see Mahershala Ali up in the Best Supporting Actor category! I remember seeing him in the last Hunger Games movie and groaned to see an actor of his talent so wasted. It’s great to see him in a meaty role for once.

So guys, which film(s) are you rooting for this award season?
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4. I grew up watching Disney Princess animated films and lately we’ve got an endless supply of live-action versions. Well, out of those Princess movies, Beauty & The Beast is one I’d think would be challenging to film. But so far the casting and production stills have only made me anticipate it all the more. Behold…

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I was swooning hard looking at these pictures… surely on the visual front, it looks absolutely gorgeous and magical. I love how spot-on the casting are, esp. Belle, Beast and Gaston, which I’ve talked about here. Emma Watson looks like she’s born to play this role. Sounds like they’re going to be faithful to the animated version, and I sure hope they use the same music by Alan Menken!

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Images courtesy of EW.com

Updated 11/14: Now we’ve got its first full trailer!!

Are you as ready as I am to be swept away by this fairy tale?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Khalid from The Blazing Reel! His question couldn’t be more timely considering this coming Tuesday, November 8 is US election day and this has been, shall we say, a most unusual election year!

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So here’s Khalid’s question:

With the 2016 Presidential Election nearing close, what is in your opinion is the best election movie? Your choice doesn’t necessarily have to be about a film that focuses on a Presidential election.

Well, I’m sure you have an opinion on this topic, So let’s hear it!


Well, that’s it for the NOVEMBER edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Take part by picking a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!