Belated Birthday Tribute to Sam Riley

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I can’t believe I missed my darling Sam’s birthday yesterday!! My favorite actor turned 37 on January 8… and since he made his breakthrough debut in Control in 2007, he doesn’t seem to have aged a day!

He was born on January 8, 1980 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. I love his Yorkshire accent, spoken with his signature husky voice. He’s a chain smoker which likely contributes to that… and he’s got that devil-may-care attitude paired with self-deprecating wit that’s so irresistible!

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Oh Sam Riley… how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Yes I know the word ‘underrated’ is not a popular word to use right now, but I really do think Sam is grossly under-appreciated as for whatever reason, he’s simply hasn’t gotten as much work as his fellow Brits. Maybe because he lives in Berlin, away from Tinsel Town or even the UK’s movie scene in London. And he’s a happily-married man, he’s been married to Romanian/German actress Alexandra Maria Lara for 8 years (a lifetime by Hollywood standards) and has a young boy together.

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Sam w/ Alexandra on the premiere of Free Fire, Fall 2016 – photo courtesy of SamRiley.org

They met on the set of Control, which is kind of a fairy tale romance in itself, and they worked together again in Suite Francaise in 2014.  Look at these two, such a gorgeous couple!!

I was literally hyperventilating last week when I saw BBC ONE’s preview featuring SS-GB … can’t wait to get my copy of the February edition of EMPIRE magazine. Lookie here, Sam in a glorious spread as a Scotland Yard detective, decked in a dapper suit and fedora? YES PLEASE!!

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Courtesy of @CarryOnScarlett tweet

I’m also super excited to see Sam in Free Fire! I’ve posted the first trailer here, which looks like a hoot w/ a terrific cast! So there are at least two of Sam’s work I’m looking forward to in Spring, hopefully more to come later in the year.


Photos courtesy of AdoroCinema

Well, I did a Sam Riley marathon last year which made me appreciate him even more as an actor. He’s so self-deprecating that he often says in interviews that they only hire him ‘to blow smoke rings and cry’ as his debut role as Ian Curtis is a forlorn, suicidal tortured soul who smokes like a chimney. But clearly he’s more versatile than that, having played a psychopath (Brighton Rock), Beat Generation pioneer Jack Kerouac (On The Road), a naval vampire (Byzantium), an Austrian cowboy (The Dark Valley), a man bird (Maleficent), a French farmer (Suite Française), and of course, Colonel Darcy (Pride + Prejudice + Zombies)… the role I fell head over heels in love with.

So in my tribute to the phenomenal actor who I think should get more leading roles… here are five key roles that will forever mark me as a Sam Riley fan.

CONTROL (2007)

A profile of Ian Curtis, the enigmatic singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23.

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Since January 8th was also the birthday of rock icon David Bowie, it’s only natural I include THIS very scene from Sam’s debut role in a feature film. It’s been a decade since that film came out and I think it’s still regarded as one of the greatest, most poignant rock biopic ever made. Sam’s devastating performance doesn’t just capture Ian as a musical genius, but he captured the enigma and inner pain of the young man, who’s dealing with epilepsy and depression as his band gained fame beyond his control.

On the Road (2012)

Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.

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Sam once again portrays a real-life persona, as his character Sal is basically Jack Kerouac. He sports an effortless American accent as a quiet, reflective writer observing his wild and carefree friend Dean. He works well with Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, who at the time was at the height of Twilight’s mass hysteria. He’s the kind of actors who can disappear into his roles, he has an earthy every-man quality about him, yet he makes even the most mundane activity like typing or just scribbling in a notepad seems so darn sexy.

 

Byzantium (2013)

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Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

Sam didn’t have a big part in this film but his role of Darvell is an important one to the story. Like the rest of the cast, the actors portray their roles in two separate timelines centuries apart. I’ve done a full review of it here, it’s quite a mesmerizing film by Neil Jordan… eerie, ethereal and mysteriously romantic. Wish I could find the exact clip, but I love all the scenes between Sam and Gemma Arterton. It’d be cool to see them do a film together again one day.

The Dark Valley (2014)

Through a hidden path a lone rider reaches a little town high up in the Alpes. Nobody knows where the stranger comes from, nor what he wants there. But everyone knows that they don’t want him to stay.

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This is the film I tell everyone to see if they’ve only seen Sam in Control. It’s an excellent Schnitzel Western (read my full review) shot entirely in the Austria Alps where the characters are Austrian/German except for Sam. He learned German when he married his wife, and to me he sounds very much believable as a taciturn, lone-ranger type who exacts vengeance on a group of townsfolk in a meticulously-calculated way. I always love actors who could convey a lot of emotions with his eyes and facial expressions alone, and Sam certainly got to do that here, whilst also being a bad-ass cowboy at the same time!

Check out my Music and Cinematography appreciation for this film here.

Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (2016)

Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies.

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Well, THIS is the role that got me to notice Sam, which is a major reason why PPZ is on my top 10 list of the first half of 2016. Though I’m a huge period drama fan, for some reason I’ve never been into Mr. Darcy. Give me Captain Wentworth or Colonel Brandon any day over Darcy, but that is until Sam’s COLONEL DARCY came along. From the moment Lizzy saw him arriving at the ball (beginning at 01:48 in the clip below) I was a goner!

Then of course there’s the initially-awkward proposal scene that ends in a glorious, sexually-charged battle between the two… woo wee… THIS is the kind of Darcy I’ve ever hyperventilated over. The chemistry between him and Lily James is off the charts!

Some might say Sam isn’t as dastardly handsome as Colin Firth (which I beg to differ), but he certainly imbued his Darcy character with an extra dose of badassery without sacrificing his romantic side. In fact, in his second proposal scene, he’s perfectly swoon-worthy!

Favorite Sam Interviews

Well I always say that I can’t fall for any actor who lacks personality… no matter how good looking *cough* Henry Cavill *cough* But Sam’s interviews are a hoot, they’re almost as entertaining as watching him act.

His voice is music to my ear too, and he’s just as entertaining to listen to in a podcast interview!


I literally could go on and on in this post about Sam… but I better wrap it up and post this. I hope you learned a bit more about the talented actor, and hopefully check out more of his work!


What film(s) have you seen Sam Riley in? 

Five for the Fifth: AUGUST 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. I’ve been excited about Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK for some time and the teaser couldn’t have arrived at a better time… that is as I’m prepping my FFTF post 🙂

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I think most of you already knows what this is about. Now, I’m not always into war movies, mostly because it tends to be way too violent. But man, this looks so darn epic and with Nolan at the helm filming this on 70mm, I’m SO THERE!

Behold its epicness…

The cast is pretty amazing, some of which have been in Nolan’s previous movies… Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh… AND my new Welsh crush Aneurin Barnard!! One thing I wish Nolan hadn’t done is hire that kid from One Direction as I guarantee there’s gonna be a bunch of teenybopers swarming this just to get a glimpse of him. I mean I can’t even google this movie without seeing his face! In any case, we still have a year to wait for this as Dunkirk isn’t released until July 2017!

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Now, this one apparently has been released for some time but I had just seen it for the first time thanks to my daily lunch-hour reading of BBC news, I found it in the culture section. It’s the world’s first feature-length painted animation!

Per its official site, Loving Vincent features over one hundred and twenty of Vincent Van Gogh’s greatest paintings. The plot, drawn from the 800 letters written by the painter himself, lead us to the significant people and events in the time leading up to his unexpected death. Every frame in the Loving Vincent movie is an oil painting on canvas, using the very same technique in which Vincent himself painted. Check out the amazing trailer, I sure hope it’ll get a decent release worldwide.

Thoughts on either one of these projects? 

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2. This week we also got a first look at romance war drama ALLIED. I didn’t even know is in the works but hey, anything with miss Cottilard gets my attention!
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The synopsis per IMDb:

Allied takes place in 1942. Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) are undercover allies who begin to fall for each other. Max is a British intelligence officer sent to Casablanca to plan an assassination attempt. He works with Marianne, a French Resistance fighter who goes undercover as his wife.

I kind of like the pairing of Cotillard and Pitt, and Pitt actually looks decent without all the weird facial hair he’s been supporting for a while. This film seems so under the radar despite the cast though, I mean I haven’t heard a peep and no trailer yet even though the release date is November of this year.

The rest of the cast include Matthew Goode (yay!), Lizzy Caplan, and Jared Harris. The director is Robert Zemeckis whose last two features, Flight and The Walk, I haven’t seen yet.

Are you excited for this one?

3. Speaking of trailers… ahhh what we’d do for our movie crushes [sigh] I followed this twitter account for trailer updates and it says there’s supposed to be a trailer for Ben Wheatley’s FREE FIRE attached to Star Trek Beyond. So naturally I was super excited and while initially I was fine waiting a week or two to see it, I immediately booked Friday night showing. As you know, my dahling Sam Riley is in Free Fire, though he’s probably only gonna be in the trailer for all but 5 seconds. But no matter, that’s enough to persuade me to actually see a movie on the big screen. Alas, the trailer was NOT shown at STB 😦 There were more than a half dozen trailers in front of it but none of it was Free Fire! Suffice to say I’m no longer following that trailer account. Heh, I wish I lived in London!!!

I’m curious, have you ever been compelled to see a movie on the big screen because a certain trailer is attached to it? 
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4. Ok this question is inspired by this weekend’s release of Suicide Squad. I’ll be writing the review this weekend but for now I can say that I enjoyed it, definitely not as bad as what the critics made it out to be.

It’s no surprise DC fans are up in arms about the negative reviews. Heh, every day there’s always news about people getting angry about the most trivial things. This time the subject of DC fans’ wrath is the Rotten Tomatoes site:

Actually, last time I checked the petition‘s got 18,495 supporters. The guy who started the Change.org petition wrote: “We need this site to be shut down because critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust, bad reviews. And that affects people’s opinion even if it’s a really great movie,”

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RT score as of 10pm US Central Time

Now, I don’t really trust these critics aggregator sites anyway, because their algorithm is just baffling to me. Sometimes I’d click a rotten review that actually gives a movie 3/5, now I wouldn’t exactly categorize that as rotten. I’d think 3/5 is average and even 2.5/5 is below average, so not exactly in the horrible category. But to think that they’re biased against a certain film company is just absurd. Ok so I was left scratching my head that Age of Ultron got 75% fresh rating. I think that bloated movie is a big fat meh, not to mention the cringe-inducing Hulk/Black Widow *romance.* But I think it was still better than Batman V Superman, which got 27%, the exact RT score of Suicide Squad right now. If that’s the final score I think people are gonna think it’s a giant conspiracy, ahah.

What do you think about this supposed Marvel vs. DC *bias* and/or your thoughts about film critics site in general?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Ian from Ian the Cool Blog! He actually left a comment on my review of The Secret Life of Pets and it’s a great question that I asked him if it’s ok that I included it here. Here it is in his own words:

You confirm a lot of what I’m hearing, that [the movie] is really unoriginal and we’ve seen it all before. I guess the question is, does that matter for a kids movie? Kids won’t know its being unoriginal, because they don’t have the same film background we do. They will care about having funny characters they care about. Then again, should family movies have the bar set lower? When there are movies like Inside Out raising that bar, is the family argument an excuse anymore?

Well, what do you think? Should kids movies have the bar set lower compared to movies for adults?


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

Everybody’s Chattin’ + First Look of ‘Queen of Katwe’ + ‘Free Fire’

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Happy Wednesday everybody! I’m still high from seeing the first look of my dahling Sam Riley in Ben Wheatley’s new movie (more of that below). It’s been ages since I see anything new with him on social media… ah the peril of loving an underrated actor. But y’know what they say, you can’t choose who you love.

So about those links…

Jordan reviewed a terrific film Mia Madre, that’s perfect for Mother’s Day [or any day]

Everyone’s fave series Game of Thrones is back, and so is Margaret‘s awesome episodic reviews!

Steven lamented on Brian de Palma’s Bonfire of the Vanities

Speaking of lamenting, Mariah posted her thoughts on the whitewashing in Hollywood, most recently the casting of Ghost in the Shell

Thursday Movie Picks are still going & going… Dell just posted on his three fave droids/cyborgs

Eddie‘s entry to the Rob’s Genre Grandeur series talks about how Fast Five holds up 5 years later

Now here’s a real head scratcher, Paul asks which body of work you prefer Michelle Pfeiffer vs Meg Ryan

Mickey reviewed one of my fave films out TCFF last year – Room

Last but not least, don’t forget to stop by Mark’s blog on Monday for his Decades Blogathon!


Time for a couple of First Looks…

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Ok so I’m a sucker for inspirational true stories. This one is based on a book of the same name by Tim Crothers. Though there have been films made about chess champions before, I actually haven’t seen any of them. The fact that this one tells a non-American story makes me more interested in it. The film, shot in Uganda and South Africa is directed by Mira Nair (a female director is always a plus in my book!) I had only seen Vanity Fair and The Reluctant Fundamentalist from Nair, but most people are probably more familiar with her famous film Monsoon Wedding.

Here’s the synopsis per Screenrant:

The film tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a chess prodigy from Uganda who earned Woman Candidate Master status in 2012, following the deaths of her father and brother.

I love both David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o, so that’s another big plus. It’s one of those stories you likely can predict how it’ll turn out, but still intriguing nonetheless. I’m already tearing up watching the trailer so I’ve got to bring tissues when I do watch the movie.


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I’m still so very giddy just from seeing the first photo of this gangster flick, I don’t know what I’ll be when the trailer comes out!

I had already heard of this when Sam mentioned it in a couple of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies interviews. He called it a 1.5 hour gang shootout, which sounds epic cool! The filmmaker du jour Ben Wheatley, fresh from all the buzz of High Rise is directing this, AND it’s executive produced by Martin Scorsese!

The synopsis per EMPIRE:

Free Fire is set in Boston in 1978. The story, which Wheatley is pitching as a muscular crime flick in the spirit of Melville, Hawks, Scorsese himself and Walter Hill, charts the fallout from a gun-running hook-up orchestrated by Larson in a deserted warehouse. At its centre are two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley), on a connect with a pair of arms traffickers, Ord (Armie Hammer) and Vernon (Sharlto Copley), but soon wishing they’d given the whole enterprise a wide berth when the bullets start flying.

The film also stars new Oscar winner Brie Larson, Noah Taylor and of course, my darling Sam Riley!

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Look at the mustaches + 70s outfits on these guys!

Per EMPIRE article: “The idea for Free Fire came from my love of hard-boiled crime movies,” Wheatley tells Variety. “The Asphalt Jungle, The Big Sleep,The Killing and The Big Combo through The Driver, Le Samourai andThe French Connection, to the modern cycle of GoodFellas, Casino,Hard Boiled and Reservoir Dogs.”

“It will take you and stick you in the middle of the action,” he elaborates. “I want the film to have the stylish, no-nonsense feel that you get in [Sam] Peckinpah’s The Getaway. It’s a modern ‘70s movie. Muscular, tough and spare.”

Hmmm, I actually didn’t care for The Getaway, but maybe because I didn’t really like Steve McQueen who’s just so damn smug, but I do like the cast here and it looks more of an ensemble piece than just centered on a single hero. And of course seeing Sam Riley (with 70s ‘tache AND glasses? Oh my!) on the big screen again is a major plus! A24 has acquired the US rights, so I can’t wait to see a trailer soon.

Both of these films are scheduled to be released later in the Fall.


So what do you think of either one of these new films?