Music Break: Five soundtracks from 2015 I’m currently obsessed with

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Most people who know me know I have an old school taste when it comes to music. I basically only listen to genres. One is classical music – my radio dial goes back and forth from MPR news to Classical MPR 99.5, and I’m not ashamed that I owned two Sarah Brightman CDs. The other is movie music [natch] My CD changers in my car (I’m dating myself aren’t I?) consist mostly of soundtracks (Moulin Rouge and Sense & Sensibility are on there right now). 2015 have produced some truly awesome soundtracks that I currently listen to a lot, and probably will for years to come. They’re quite an eclectic bunch, just like my taste in films, I like my period dramas to go with the high-octane action.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Composed by: Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL

I had never heard of Junkie XL before but man I LOVE this extremely energetic music that adds so much cool vibe to the movie. It perfectly complements all the crazy action that goes on in the movie and the music IS an integral part of the action as well w/ the guitar guy in red jumper on top of the convoy truck.

Brothers in Arms is one of my fave tracks from the album:

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Composed by: Joe Kramer

I LOVE Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, which was featured in the fantabulous Vienna Opera sequence early in the film. Well, three of the tracks managed to inject the famous area beautifully and mix it with the iconic Mission Impossible theme. I just LOVE it!!

I also love the music featured in the MI5 trailer by The Fugees from the mid 90s. It works brilliantly with the trailer cut and somehow sounds like it’s made just for this movie!

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Far From the Madding Crowd

Composed by: Craig Armstrong

I’ve already dedicated an entire Music Break post of this one last September and I’m still obsessed with it.

I especially love Carey Mulligan’s rendition of Let No Man Steal Your Thyme, but this opening sequence with the repetitive piano and violin melody has such a beautiful, swoon-inducing quality.

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Cinderella

Composed by: Patrick Doyle

Speaking of swoon-inducing, that’s the one essential ingredient when you’re composing a fairy tale film. Mr. Doyle’s done some of my favorite soundtracks ever, so he’s the perfect choice for this movie. I was just listening to it last night as I was working on my script, as a matter of fact. At times I’d stop and let myself be swept away by the lush & gorgeous music, just like Cinderella was by Prince Kit 😉

Sicario

Composed by: Jóhann Jóhannsson

I just watched this recently so it’s fresh in my mind. I remember vividly how the ominous score adds so much tension to already ultra-suspenseful scenes. One of the major reasons my nerve was stretched to its snapping point was because of this brilliant music. The Icelandic composer wrote such a perfect music with his minimalist electronic style, it’s as pulsating and heart-throbbing as the film itself. I can’t imagine this movie without THIS music, it’s made all the richer because of it.

 

HONORABLE MENTION:

Girlhood

I had to include this scene from one of my top 10 films of 2015. The song Diamonds is by Rihanna who I never listen to, but somehow it’s so perfect for this scene. The first time I saw it I actually rewound it as it moved me so much. It captured the sentiment the girls are feeling… every girl, no matter what background they come from, once to get all dolled up and be glamorous once in a while.

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Hope you enjoyed this week’s music break. Which of these are YOUR favorites?

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Music Break: Far From The Madding Crowd (2015)

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I’m in the romantic period drama mood this week as I’ve been listening to the beautiful scores for Pride & Prejudice, Belle (one of my top 10 scores of 2014)… and this one. Though I wasn’t as enamored as I would have with Far From The Madding Crowd (due to the Tom Sturridge miscasting as Troy), I actually want to see this again. It’s too bad because all the promos of Bathsheba and him kissing in the woods are so breathtakingly gorgeous… I think he works better in a still shot :\

But one of the things I do LOVE about this film is the absolutely gorgeous music by Scottish composer Craig Armstrong. I’m going to have to do a separate tribute for him as I love his work, esp. for Moulin Rouge!, Love Actually and The Great Gatsby. But for now, I just want to highlight his work on this film.

Here’s Hollow in the Ferns track, which reminds me a bit of John Barry’s Somewhere in Time.

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I adore Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba, she is lovely and believable as the strong yet vulnerable heroine. I’ve been a fan of her as an actress but I also love her voice! She sang in Inside Llewyn Davis but I really, really like her singing voice here. Let No Man Steal Your Thyme is featured in the trailer as well and it’s just beautiful! I definitely would include her on my list of actors who are surprisingly good singers.

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Come all you fair and tender girls
That flourish in your prime
Beware, beware

Keep your garden fair
Let no man steal your thyme
Let no man steal your thyme.

For when your thyme it is past and gone
He’ll care no more for you
And every place where your thyme was waste
Will all spread o’er with rue
Will all spread o’er with rue.
The gardener’s son was standing by
Three flowers he gave to me

The pink, the blue, and the violet true
And the red, red rosy tree
And the red, red rosy tree.

But I refused the red rose bush
And gained the willow tree
That all the world may plainly see
How my love slighted me
How my love slighted me

 


Hope you enjoy today’s Music Break. What score(s) have you been listening to lately?

FlixChatter Review: Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

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I have to admit the first time I heard about this novel was a few years ago when Richard Armitage’s character in the Christmas edition of Vicars of Dibley mentioned this Thomas Hardy’s novel as his favorite. Well, I remember reaching about what that novel was about and was immediately hooked. So a headstrong woman in Victorian England attracts three very different suitors, I definitely like the sound of that.

In stories like this, casting is crucial and that’s why I approach this review more from that angle. Let me start with the heroine, Bathsheba Everdene.

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I love the fact that Bathsheba is played by Carey Mulligan who’s appropriately free spirited and convincing as an independent young woman. A woman living in 19th-century England would not straddle her horse like she does when she rides, and she works the farm just as hard as any man.

When she first encountered Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer, he’s immediately smitten and it’s easy to see why. Matthias Schoenaerts, who somehow reminds me of Viggo Mortensen in this role, portrays Gabriel with deep vulnerability. He’s all doe-eyed with a hint of smolder… not the steamy kind of smolder, but one infused with such sincerity that makes it easy to root for him.

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Their two lives somehow turned out drastically different — Bathsheba became wealthy when she suddenly inherited her uncle’s estate, whilst Gabriel came to a misfortune in one tragic night. The interesting dynamic of their circumstances only adds to the intrigue of their relationship, especially given how a female boss was quite a rare occurrence back in the day. I like how the film shows how Bathsheba tried to defy convention the best way she could, to make in a man’s world and be taken seriously as a farm owner.

The next suitor is more of Bathsheba’s equal in terms of economic status though he’s considerably older in age. Michael Sheen gives a dignified presence to William Boldwood, but also the appropriate sensitivity of someone who’s financially successful but one who’s been unlucky in love. The relationships between Bathsheba and these two men are especially engaging, it’s made a bit trickier by the fact that Boldwood likes Gabriel and appreciate his fervent loyalty.

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I’ve mentioned in this post that the casting of the third suitor is disappointing. Sergeant Frank Troy is described as a handsome, irresponsible and impulsive young man… so I imagine an actor with devilish charisma and undeniable sex appeal for the role. Well, no offense Tom Sturridge but you ain’t that person and you certainly did NOT convince me as someone Bathsheba would risk everything for. Thus, her abrupt decision seems so out of character and doesn’t feel true.

Yes, the much-talked-about swordsmanship scene in the woods was beautifully-filmed but that’s more of a testament of Thomas Vinterberg‘s directing and his ability to create such an ethereal ambiance. I wanted to THAT scene to take my breath away, to be rendered speechless and all tingly from the sheer passion of the two characters, but it just wasn’t to be. The love scene that follows also lacks any kind of eroticism, which made the entire relationship lackluster. It also didn’t help that Sturridge just doesn’t look like a soldier or someone with a hint of danger that could tame or intimidate a woman like Bathsheba. I believe that charisma, especially of a sexual nature, is not something an actor can train for.

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The way the story unfolds is rather predictable. Yes it’s based on a novel so people who’ve read it would’ve known how things turns out, but for those who haven’t, Vinterberg didn’t create any suspense that’d make us guess who Bathsheba will end up with. But Vinterberg’s strength behind the camera is creating a lush and atmospheric look that serves the story well, thanks largely to his frequent collaborator Charlotte Bruus Christensen who also did the cinematography for The Hunt.

There’s a certain melancholy in the film to be expected but it doesn’t feel corny or contrived. Mulligan and Schoenaerts who share the most screen time have a lovely chemistry… the way they steal glances every chance they get is the kind of stuff romantic dramas are made of. Apart from that, I was kind of expecting something a bit more unconventional from Vinterberg. I was so impressed by The Hunt and this one seems like a lesser film by comparison, though it’s not exactly an apples and oranges kind of comparison, but in general sense. This feels more Hollywood, safer and less edgy, but thankfully there are still things I like about it.

I have to say that the fact that sound went out for about 3-4 minutes during the final scene between Bathsheba and Gabriel! It was excruciating because it’s supposed to be a key emotional scene. The sound came back 2 minutes before the ending but still, that was awful that it happened. I’m not going to fault this film for that snafu of course, but the miscasting of Sgt. Troy is a big one for me. It did not derail the film but it prevents the film from being a truly compelling and fiery romantic drama that I had expected.

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Have you seen this film? Well, what did YOU think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Quick thoughts on ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ + Bloggin’ Break

EverybodysChattin

Happy Thursday everyone! What a week it’s been. I went to the Christopher Nolan lecture at the Walker Art Museum on Tuesday and last night was the Far for the Madding Crowd screening. My post on both of those would have to wait until I’m back from vacation. But I have to share my first reaction about the latest Thomas Hardy’s cinematic adaptation:

In the novel, Troy is described as “handsome, vain, young, and irresponsible,” he is to be Bathsheba’s sexual awakening, but from the second Troy’s introduced on screen (played by Tom Sturridge), he just did NOT fit my idea of such a character. SPOILER ALERT [if you don’t want to know the plot, don’t read below the photo]

He looks more like someone from some boy band like One Direction with his full head of hair and effeminate-looking face and body. The swordsmanship scene is well-directed but Troy himself didn’t leave me breathless… and naturally the sex scene lacks passion. My girlfriend asked me as we walked out the theater if Troy is supposed to be some soldier wanna-be or something as he just doesn’t have that strapping look of a military man. Heh, I haven’t seen the 1967 version but Terence Stamp looked far more convincing as Troy. It’s a pity because I have no problem with other two male actors (Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Sheen), and I adore Carey Mulligan as the heroine Bathsheba.

Bathsheba_Troy_MaddingCrowdYou may accuse me of being biased given how I feel about Stanley Weber these days, but seriously, if only I had been a casting agent for the film, I’d cast him as Troy in a heartbeat. He’s played a charming, sexy bad boy with aplomb as Juan Borgia, someone SO devilishly bad but oh-so-irresistible. I’m sure he can work on perfecting a British accent, but charisma, especially of a sexual nature, is not something an actor can train for.

Now that I got that out of the way… let’s get to those great links, shall we?

Josh did his May Oscar predictions whilst Andrew posted his 4 Ways a Best Picture roundtable. Never too early to talk about awards I guess.

Tom and Mark are hosting the Decades Blogathon. Spots are filling up fast!

Andina just posted her top 10 fave movies of 2014, glad we agree on the #1 pick!

Speaking of top 10, Chris got me all nostalgic in this post of top 10 Janet Jackson songs

To celebrate her 5th blogaversarry, Mettel Ray have been posting a bunch of top 5 lists, the latest one being Top 5 Trios

Over at Dan’s Top 10 Films blog, Rodney posted his top 10 Films of cinematographer Andrew Lesnie who just passed away

On to reviews…

Margaret, Sidekick Reviews and Melissa did a recap of the latest Game of Thrones episodes

Lots of foreign movie reviews that have been popping up this week, which is interesting as I’ve been watching a ton of French movies and videos 😉

Jordan reviewed this Spanish/Danish film Jauja

Steven reviewed Au Revoir Les Enfants (Goodbye Children)

Keith reviewed L’avventura

And last but not least, Jay posted some mini reviews including some terrible movies you should avoid!


Time for a Blog Break!

Well my hubby and I be going on a week-long vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We’re going to Tampa for a few days and then Orlando to visit…

WizardingWorldHPWizardingWorldHP2I’ve been wanting to check out the Harry Potter theme park for some time. I always enjoy going to these type of stuff, makes me feel young again 😉 But I’m also looking forward for some r&r at some of the best beaches in the area, like Clearwater Beach, visit Greek town Tarpon Springs and maybe head south to Sanibel Island!


So see you in about a week, folks! If you have any travel tips for the Orlando/Tampa area, please do let me know.

Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2015 Edition

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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:

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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!

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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.”

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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!

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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! 😀