Everybody’s Chattin: Blog Series Edition

Welcome to the last day of January, folks!

Can’t believe one month in 2012 already gone by… but before we get into my birthday month of February, I thought I’d give a shout out to some of the notable blog series and new blogs I’ve been frequenting lately. Let’s get started shall we?

Trilogy Thursday
I LOVE this idea. Max @ Impassioned Cinema & Claire @ Cinematic Delights team up to discuss their favorite trilogy and they definitely started out with the best… Pixar’s TOY STORY!
Behind the Camera
Max also came up with a new series on his blog, highlighting a filmmaker of choice and he starts the series with one of my faves: Christopher Nolan, courtesy of Matt from Matt & the Motion Pictures
Duo Posts Series
Michael @ It Rains… You Get Wet has been posting a series of parallel reviews with another blogger, examining a noted book and its later film adaptation. The latest edition is on this noir classic The Maltese Falcon.
TDYLF Infographic
One of the most brilliant stuff you’ll find at John’s The Droid You’re Looking For blog is his meticulously-crafted infographics! As the Oscar’s soon approaching, check out his handy Breaking Down the Oscar chart featuring facts and figures about Hollywood’s most beloved statue!
Today’s Minnie Driver’s 42nd Birthday! I really think she’s such an underrated actress, hence my inclusion on this list. One of my favorite roles of hers is Bernadette ‘Benny’ Hogan in Circle of Friends, which happens to be one of my fave movies set in Ireland


Tuesday’s Overlooked Movies
These insightful posts are courtesy of Iba @ I Luv Cinema. Every week she reviews a movie she thinks more people should check out and it’s almost always something I hadn’t seen before. This week’s edition is Little Voice starring an all Brits cast including Michael Caine and Brenda Blethyn.
Looking Back
My matey Scott @ Front Room Cinema has been doing well on one of his new year’s resolution to feature more classic cinemas. This time he’s got help from Sam @ Duke & The Movies in reviewing Jean Paul Belmondo’s trend-setting French New Wave film Breathless.
The Story Behind Film Studio Logos
The King of all great blog series Nostra @ My Film Views has recently launched a great one that gives us an insight into the brand history of Hollywood’s famous studios. The latest one he’s featuring is 20th Century Fox.
Robert Bresson Marathon
Tyler @ Southern Vision is at it again with his directors marathon… offering great insights into off-the-beaten path works mainstream moviegoers likely overlook. This time he starts with the review of Les anges du péché (1943).
Last but not least, I’d like to give a shout out to these new blogs I’ve been enjoying the past few months. Definitely check ’em out if you haven’t already!

Paula’s Cinema Club
Aziza’s Picks
Duke & The Movies
Never Too Early Movie Predictions
Matt & The Motion Pictures
Splendid & Lovely
The Movie Lounge
All Eyes on Screen


Be sure to stay tuned for another classic flix guest review and the follow up to this favorite actors voice list later this week!

Flixchatter’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010

Please note I’ve already revised this list in October, check it out here.

Flixchatter's Most Anticipated Movies of 2010
Flixchatter's Most Anticipated Movies of 2010

IMDB’s Acura Power of Film listed their top 10 most anticipated films of 2010 a while ago, which seemed too early at the time to start thinking about next year. They’ve since replaced the page with something else so I don’t have the link. But here’s their picks:

10. The Book of Eli
9. Remember Me
8. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
7. The Green Hornet
6. The Expendables
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street
4. The Last Airbender
3. Iron Man 2
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
1. Alice in Wonderland

Heh, I only agree with one of them on that list. Now that there’s only four months left until 2010, I think it’s quite timely to release my own. Here’s Flixchatter’s Most Anticipated Films in 2010 (in no particular order):

1. Clash of the Titans (March 26th, 2010)
As a fan of swords/sandals flicks, this one looks like it’s going to kick lots of @$$! Haven’t seen the original but hope this is more  in the vein of Gladiator and Sam Worthington’ll be the hottest Aussie import since Russell Crowe.

2. War of Gods (July 16th, 2010)
Two people involved in this movie got me excited: Tarsem Singh who did the marvelous The Fall, and Henry Cavill, who finally got the lead role after failing to bag Bond/Superman/Batman roles all in the last 5 years!! Under Singh direction, it’d be visually breathtaking for sure, and methink Tinseltown could use a brand new leading man, so I sure hope Cavill delivers!

3. Inception (July 16th, 2010)
Christopher Nolan is probably the only director whose movies I’ll always watch. Ever since the groundbreaking Memento, he’s consistently done great work. Even his so-so flick like The Prestige was still far better than most. Inception is promised to be a contemporary sci-fi thriller about a CEO involved in a blackmailing scandal — and the rather bizarre & mysterious teaser trailer gets me even more fired up about it.

4. Toy Story 3 (June 18th, 2010)
Woody, Buzz and the toy gang were hugely entertaining in the first two, and judging from its trailer, they’d be just as fun in their third outing. Michael Keaton joins the cast as the voice of Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend. John Lasseter passed the directing torch to Lee Unkrich this time, who was the co-director for Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc., so we should expect the same quality craftmanship.

5. Iron Man 2 (May 7th, 2010)
This movie actually surpassed my expectation, as I was snickering (in a bad way) when I first saw the trailer. It’s now become one of my top 10 favorite super hero flicks and mostly because of Robert Downey Jr.’s performance. Mickey Rourke is scorching hot right now after The Wrestler, so I’m curious to see how he’s milking his comeback.

6. Valentine’s Day (February 12th, 2010)
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of romantic flicks out next year, which is fine by me as I usually reserve those for DVD viewing anyway. But I’m intrigued about this one set on Valentine’s day and it’s got an all-star cast which is naturally pretty fun to watch.

7. Robin Hood (May 14th, 2010)
Russell Crowe teams up again with Riddley Scott, which always brings back memory of the glorious Gladiator. I wish they had stuck with the original idea of making the Sheriff of Nottingham as the main character (see my previous post) but I’m still curious to see how this pan out. Plus, I love Cate Blanchett so I’m glad she’d be Maid Marian instead of Sienna Miller.

8. The Town (September 10th, 2010)
Ben Affleck is back in the director’s chair again in his second feature film since the excellent Gone Baby Gone. The crime thriller is set in Boston (Affleck’s hometown) which centers in a love triangle between a female bank manager, a longtime thief who stole more than her heart, and an equally smitten FBI agent trying to bust the crook and his gang before they can pull another big job. Affleck plays the thief opposite Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm as the agent. The plot sounds ok but I’d love to see these two hunky leading men square off on screen. Oh, and did I mention Chris Cooper is in it, too? Great character actor I haven’t seen in a while.

9. Leaves of Grass (TBD, 2010)
I blogged about this back in July when it was announced it’d premiere at TIFF. Edward Norton playing two very different characters is enough to get me interested, but according to IMDB, he was ‘so desperate to star in this movie that he took a pay cut, stating in an interview that he “actually got paid half what I usually make”‘ Hmmm, what is it about this role that is worth half his pay? I’m eager to find out!

10. Edge of Darkness (January 29th, 2010)
Mel Gibson’s been absent from the acting business ever since the unexpected blockbuster The Passion of the Christ. I quite like him as an actor so I welcome his comeback. In this dark thriller, he plays homicide detective Thomas Craven who investigates the death of his activist daughter. He uncovers not only her secret life, but a corporate cover-up and government collusion that attracts an agent tasked with cleaning up the evidence. Martin Campbell who successfully revived the Bond series with the hugely entertaining Casino Royale is at the helm. I never tire of a smart, solid thriller, and this one just might fit into that category.

So readers, what movie are you looking forward to next year?

Just what exactly is the Academy??

In response to my earlier post about new members added to the Academy (that is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), I thought I ought to give a bit of a history about the organization that give out the Oscars each year. Thanks Becky for asking me just who are the other members and how do they get to be one, as truthfully, I have NO IDEA. At the beginning of a new year, after the water-cooler talk about new year resolution dwindle, we can always count on the ‘Oscar talk.’ ‘Who’s getting nominated this year? Who gets robbed?’ But just like most people, I usually never paid much attention to who gets to decide all that.

I haven’t been able to find the full list of members, all 6,000 of them, but a sampling of them can be found at the Oscar official site. Here’s the gist of what makes up the elite organization: the members are divided into 15 different categories that contribute to the art form of  film making (actors, directors, cinematographers, songwriters, writers, sound technicians, etc.). Apparently it’s pretty much an elite corporation where the who’s who of Hollywood decides who’s ‘worthy’ to be a part of their über exclusive club. This is right from their site:

Membership in the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors and is limited to those who have achieved distinction in the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

A candidate must be sponsored by at least two members of the branch for which the person may qualify. Each proposed member must first receive the endorsement of the branch’s executive committee before his/her name is submitted to the Board.

Ah, now that explains why almost every single time the nominations are announced, we the average moviegoers are left scratching our heads with a big ‘huh?’ written across our faces. Not sure how the additional 134 members are going to change all that, even though at first glance the actors category does seem to represent a pretty diverse mix.

As if the membership process isn’t mind boggling enough, NPR explores the world of how the Oscar voting works here. As the article writer says, it’s all one big mystery and they probably intend to keep it that way.

Flixchatter’s Must-See Flix for the rest of ’09

The Must-See list in the order of release date:

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Who could resist that pathetic squirrel still on the hunt for his beloved acorn? I couldn’t stop laughing from the moment that thing came on the screen. There’s possible romance for this little guy as well – hilarious mayhem can’t be far behind.

Public Enemies
Depp. Bale. Michael Mann doing what he does best. The trailer looks positively awesome! Based on a true story about a charismatic bank robber set in the Depression era. It’s a wild goose chase to outgun and outwit each other. I’m so there.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
(See my post about it earlier). I’ll see this on account of Bana, and the story promises to be a gut-wrenching drama. I REALLY want to like this one, I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Avatar
Say what you will about James Cameron but he’s a moviemaking genius. A decade after Titanic, he’s back at the helm in one of the most ambitious projects to date. Set in a distant planet inhabited by a humanoid race, it’s filmed with ‘steroscopic 3D’ which basically means it mixes live-action and CGI more seamlessly. What I’ve heard so far promises this to be an epic thrill-ride. Count me in!

Sherlock Holmes
Robert Downey Jr. plays the fictional detective with Jude Law as his BFF Watson. Downey is always enjoyable to watch, and the trailer looks like fun. Sure Guy Ritchie’s done some unwatchable stuff in the past, but this very British story looks like something right up his alley.


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Honorable Mentions:
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(500) Days of Summer
We all know Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come a looooong way from his 3rd Rock From the Sun days. IHMO he’s one of the most talented young actors working today. This is an offbeat rom-com in the span of one Summer. The tagline says: “Boy Meets Girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t.” I’m hooked.

The Ugly Truth
Now, those who know me probably thinks this SHOULD have been on the main list. GB has great comedic timing and looks like he and Katie Heigl has great chemistry. But this looks an awful lot like Someone Like You (Hugh Jackman + Ashley Judd). So it depends on what the reviews say, but I’m not rushing to see this one on opening nite.

Nine
Daniel Day-Lewis in a musical by the director of Chicago? Hmmm, that I gotta see. It boast a great cast who play all the women in the protagonist’s life: Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, to name a few.

The Time Traveler’s Wife – coming in August

timetravelerswifeI noticed this movie quite a while ago when I read it in EMPIRE magazine, but sort of forgot about it. Based on a book by Audrey Niffenegger,  it’s about an adverturesome librarian, Henry (Eric Bana) and his relationship with beautiful art student Clare (Rachel McAdams). Henry has a rare genetic anomaly that causes him to involuntarily time travel, which creates complications for their marriage. Cinemablend dubbed it as the Notebook meets Ghost (minus that annoying Whoppi character), and from the trailer, this looks quite promising!

 

One look in this trailer and you’ll forget Bana was the Romulan Nero in Star Trek. I’m a huge fan of his (ya know I have a penchant for Brit & Aussie actors!) from the moment I saw him in TROY. He proved himself as leading-man worthy in Munich & Hulk (it wasn’t his fault that the film got trashed). I kept thinking Bana should’ve had the overhyped Brad Pitt’s career, most of the people I talked to agree that his Hector was far more watchable than Pitt’s bronzed drag queen Achilles. And if Bana had been Benjamin Button, I wouldn’t mind enduring the nearly 3 hours running time!

As for Rachel McAdams, she’s quickly becoming one of my fave actress (right up there with Cate Blanchett and Emily Blunt). I saw the Notebook on a plane recently and clearly she’s got the acting chops for deeply affecting love stories.

I like the gorgeous poster. Now let’s hope this one is as good as the trailer!

FlixChatter Review: Wolverine

I realize I should’ve put a spoiler disclaimer on this from the start. Sorry to all of you readers who haven’t seen the movie, this ‘review’ is meant as a post-viewing discussion/observation. I’ll make sure to be clear on that in the future, and enhance my flix reviewing skills!

Marvel and DC ought to thank Bryan Singer for resurrecting the comic-book flix franchise with the highly-rated X-Men: The Movie. If you’ve seen even just one of the series, it’s obvious Wolverine is the one character that sticks out. The then-unknown Aussie Hugh Jackman inherited the role from Dougray Scott who was bound to finish shooting Mission Impossible II. Lucky for Mr. Jackman (and women everywhere) that he did, as he was PERFECT as the brooding mutant with claws of steel.

The critics aren’t too keen on Wolverine, so I came in with a pretty low expectation. But guess what, I quite enjoyed it. The story pretty much centers on the relationship of half-brothers James and Victor, who’s later known as Wolverine and Sabretooth. The opening credit shows the journey of these two men across time and multiple wars, as their regenerative powers prevent them from being killed. Given Victor’s vicious temper, James had to constantly restrain him. In fact, it was his brutality that got them condemned to die by firing squad in Vietnam, but of course those bullets merely ‘tickled’ them and they’re back in jail again. That is until Stryker visited them and offered them to be part of an elite team of mutants, Team X. It’s pretty obvious Stryker had his own agenda and pretty soon, a group of mutans under his command were in Legos, Nigeria looking for a meteorite. Repulsed by the murders committed by his teammates, James leaves the group.

Wolverine emerged with new, shiny metal claws!
Wolverine emerged with new, shiny metal claws!

Six years later, James–now goes by his last name Logan–was now a lumberjack living peacefully with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox. That peace was soon threatened when Victor started killing his old teammates from Team X. Stryker found Logan and told him that someone’s been hunting down the now disbanded group. He asked for Logan’s help but he refused. Predictably, Victor came after Kayla and killed her. The hurt & furious Logan ran after Victor, but he wasn’t strong enough to defeat him. So when Stryker came to him a second time for help, he agreed. Next thing you know Logan is on the ‘island,’ Stryker got him into a very painful experiment in which a series of metal needles insert adamantium, an indestructible metal compound retrieved by Team X, into his skeleton system. Just watching him go through that makes my whole skin crawl! Apparently, even though Logan has strong regenerative powers, he still feels pain like anybody else. Just before the procedure started, he asked his dog tag to say Wolverine (natch), in reference to a story Kayla once told him. Wolverine nearly died in the procedure, but woke up just as Stryker ordered his memory to be erased. He emerged of the ‘aquarium’ with a ferocious growl (just as you saw in those ubiquitous movie promo pics), displaying his now shiny metal claws.  For a 41 year-old, Hugh’s physique is impressive, albeit too huge for my taste personally (are those humps on his shoulder??). Still, I commend his discipline and dedication to get so buff (and he’s obviously proud to show it off), he looked unbreakable even without the claws!!

Ok, back to the story, Wolvy (sorry, Wolverine is just too long) then fled the scene and Stryker ordered the dexterous marksman, Agent Zero, played by the hot-looking Korean-English actor Daniel Henney, to kill him. A chase ensued, and Wolverine got to show off his now indestructible claws. After some outlandish acrobatic scenes, he’s able to bring down the chopper with Agent Zero in it (darn, the eye candy is dead already?!). With the help of an escapee mutant named Gambit, Wolvy later returned to the island to confront Stryker. There, we learn who Silverfox really was, and what’s Stryker’s been working on in his lab. The final battle was pretty intense when Stryker prematurely released Weapon XI, who possesed several powers from the killed/captured mutants. Wolvy and Victor joined forces briefly to fight the mutant frankenstein monster. Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool character half made up Weapon X’s face, but with his blabbermouth sealed. There’s a funny quip by Wolvy, “Looks like Stryker finally found a way to shut you up.”

The end actually ties well with the first X-Men, with Professor X making an appearance to save the escaping mutants. Wolvy and Victor’s whereabouts are left a mystery, which we later learn in the X-Men trilogy that they end up on opposite sides once again.

Pretty cool movie overall, but the storyline is pretty complex for this type of film that the plot often get convoluted. It seems as if the film tries to do too much (romance, action, sci-fi, drama) that it sometimes lost focus. Despite the great cast led by Jackman and thespian Liev Schreiber, it just isn’t ‘sharp’ enough (pardon the pun) as the original X-Men. But if you’re just looking for fun thrill on a Saturday afternoon, it’s fairly entertaining.

Burns, baby, Burns!

GB as the Robert Burns – what better man to play Scotland’s favorite son than the very Scottish Gerard Butler?

Robert 'Rabbie' Burns
Robert 'Rabbie' Burns

Now this is as good a news as they come for Gerard Butler’s fans. Those who’ve been following his career for a while knows full well he’d be perfect for the role and allegedly, the actor himself WANTS to do it. As far back as 3 years ago, at the Red Eye premiere (that smart thriller with Cillian Murphy & Rachel McAdams), he told a reporter that he’s read the script, and in his usual gregariousness enthused how great it was. He even said Julia Stiles was interested to play Burns’ love interest, Jean Armour. Sadly, it went ‘puff’ as soon as GB got his big break in 300. Suddenly he became too busy doing everything from rom-coms to straight-to-DVD wannabe-thrillers that Burns got put in the back burner  (or more like shoved under the rug!). He blamed it on financing but methinks he just got other priorities that spell ‘ka-ching.’ Let’s face it, doing a biopic on Rabbie Burns isn’t exactly Michael Bay-type of a blockbuster.

In any case, as of January ’09, seems like the Burns biopic is finally back on! According to Filmstalker, even the Scottish Government is going to provide financial backing for the film. How cool is that? You can read more about it here.

Let’s hope that this is more than just a rumor or wishful thinking. I can’t wait to see GB’s dramatic chops nail this one, oh, and it’d be great to hear him use his own Scottish brogue for once!

In honor of Burns, here are five notable biopics worth another look:

  • Walk the Line (Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash)
  • Ray (Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles)
  • Schindler’s List (Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler)
  • The Agony & the Ecstasy (Charlton Heston as Michelangelo)
  • A Beautiful Mind (Russell Crowe as Noble Prize winner John Nash)