Remembering Alan Rickman – Seven favorite roles of the iconic British thespian

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It’s with a heavy heart that I write this post… I had planned on highlighting his career on his birthday later next month, as I had written this piece six years ago as a tribute. I have always loved British actors and Alan Rickman is certainly at the top of the list of those iconic Brits whose voice alone makes him so unforgettable. Few actors have such sheer screen presence as the London-born thespian, and his versatility makes him perfect for both villainous and heroic roles. Most people perhaps only know him for his bad guy roles. I don’t blame them as I first saw Rickman on screen as the bad guy. The first one was as the ruthless-but-elegant German terrorist Hans Gruber in the first (which remains the best of the franchise) Die Hard, followed by his role as the unhinged Sheriff of Nottingham. But after I watched more of his work, he shall always be Colonel Brandon, the role that made me fall in love with him and one I shall always treasure in my heart.

It’s also interesting that one of my first movies I saw when I came here to the US was Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990). In the same year Patrick Swayze became a ghost that haunted his loved one, Rickman also played one in the British indie drama with such sensitivity that proves he’s just as adept at playing a romantic hero. Over the years I read quotes from people who’ve worked with him saying that Mr. Rickman is a warm and gentle soul, known for his loyalty and kindness as much as his phenomenal talent in front and behind the camera.

As I say goodbye to one of my favorite actors, let me reminisce in the wonderful roles he’s played over the years…

Col Brandon – Sense & Sensibility (1995)

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I have made a tribute dedicated to his indelible performance. He easily tops my list of favorite period drama heroes, and has become one of my favorite film characters ever. Col. Brandon is perhaps one of the kindest, most selfless Austen character and Rickman brought that sensibilities to life. The moment he beheld Marianne and fell instantly in love with her, I too was besotted with him.

I’ve seen Sense & Sensibility over a dozen times and I melted every time I saw this scene. As Brandon’s heart was broken when Marianne picked a much younger and decidedly more charming suitor, he didn’t become bitter. As Marianne fell ill, nobody was more tormented than Brandon and that agony was so palpable in Rickman’s eyes. Such a beautiful role tailor-made for such a beautiful soul.

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Hans Gruber – Die Hard (1988)

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One of the most quotable action villains in cinematic history, Hans Gruber is one of the most exhilaratingly entertaining bad guys. If he had been played by someone other than Rickman, I doubt that he’d be as hugely popular. The movie has some bad-ass dialog, but it’s not so much just the lines, it’s the delivery. Rickman’s decidedly slow, imperturbable diction has become legendary that he’s a popular subject for fellow actors to impersonate.

He can make the most mundane dialog so utterly fascinating. He definitely gave Bruce Willis a run for his money here, it proves that once again it’s so good to be bad.

 

Severus Snape – Harry Potter series

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Apparently Rickman was hand-picked by author J.K. Rowling to play Snape. He was hesitant to accept the role until Rowling revealed the backstory of his character that wasn’t even revealed until the final novel. Those who’ve seen the film surely know that Snape was a multidimensional character who’s more than meets the eye.

In a franchise filled with British acting royalty, Rickman managed to be the most interesting and memorable of them all, as he keeps you guessing which side he’s on. Later on we find out that he’s actually one of the true heroes of the franchise. As with many roles he’s perfected though, I think the reason Snape was such an awesome character is because Alan Rickman played him.

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Harry – Love, Actually

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Now, even though Rickman’s played far more despicable characters in the past, somehow Harry, the unfaithful husband infuriates me the most. Here Rickman played husband and wife with his real-life friend Emma Thompson. This segment is definitely my favorite as it is the most poignant and heart-wrenching. The Harry/Karen proves to be one that fans of the movie are intrigued by, as revealed by the film’s script editor Emma Freud’s (who’s married to director Richard Curtis) big plot revelation last December.

Harry might be a flawed character, a scoundrel even, but Rickman made his character so human that I can’t absolutely abhor him. Of course being that it’s a rom-com, there’s that hilarious scene of him at the department store with Rowan Atkinson. His exasperated face never fails to crack me up!

Alexander Dane – Galaxy Quest

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Rickman is one of those rare actors who can make a curmudgeon attitude so endearing (the only other actor I can think of is Harrison Ford). It’s yet another example of spot-on casting here. Rickman’s character is a Shakespearean-trained Alexander Dane who plays alien Dr. Lazarus in the space opera Galaxy Quest. It’s a hilarious spoof on Star Trek and I absolutely adore his character and his apparent disdain of being a part of the show is absolutely hysterical.

There were five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it. Now look at me. Look at me! I won’t go out there and say that stupid line one more time.

Of course Rickman’s got the best lines in the movie and rightly so. His alien makeup alone is a hoot, but again it’s Rickman’s indelible and inimitable delivery that made his character so fun to watch. I owned this movie on Blu-ray and it’s largely because Rickman’s in it.

Sheriff of Nottingham – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

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I saw this movie with my brother years ago when it came out in the theaters. I remember how I thought Rickman absolutely stole every scene he’s in. At the time I had no idea who his name was, but he certainly was hard to forget. The Sheriff of Nottingham, with his lush, black mane, is such an unhinged and ridiculous character but oh so fun to watch!

Seriously, when Rickman plays the bad guy, he’s often more interesting than the hero and it’s the case here, especially against the vanilla Kevin Costner as Robin Hood! According to IMDb Trivia, Rickman turned down the role of the Sheriff twice before he was told he could more or less have carte blanche with his interpretation of the character. Glad that he did and he surely made the character iconic by doing so.

Steven Spurrier – Bottle Shock

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I have to admit that Rickman was the reason I even rented this movie. Here he plays an English wine stewart from Paris who comes to Napa Valley to take the best he can find to Paris for a blind taste test against French wine. I LOVE that he also narrates the movie with that silky voice of his. It may not be a perfect movie, but Rickman is still worth a watch and in a way he manages to make British’s hoitytoity attitude without making him such a stupid caricature. Just the scene of him eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in his car alone is a hoot! Nice to see Rickman display his comedic chops once again, definitely a must-see for Rickman’s fans.

Honorable Mention:

King Louis XIV – A Little Chaos

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This is the last film I saw Mr. Rickman in, a movie he also directed. I have to admit I never thought of him as someone suitable to play King Louis XIV but I thought he acquit himself well in the role. He might be a little too gentle and kind as the historically perfectionist and demanding Sun King, but Rickman certainly has that elegant and regal quality.

Of course I love the fact that this movie reunited him with his Sense & Sensibility‘s co-star Kate Winslet. My favorite scene is the one where Kate’s character, a landscape artist working on one of the gardens at Versailles, first met the King who was in disguise.


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I miss you dearly Mr. Rickman, but your astounding work shall live on.


What’s YOUR favorite role of Alan Rickman’s?

Somehow JJ Abrams & co. made me interested in the Star Trek universe

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Well, one of my most anticipated movies of the first half of the year has come and gone. I finally saw Star Trek Into Darkness Wednesday night and you know what, despite the huge hype machine working overtime for this film, this film somehow lives up to it. So yeah, I really enjoyed it.  Instead of doing a straight review, I feel like jotting down my change of heart of sort, in regards to this franchise.

Now, Star Trek fever has been high the past few weeks not only because of the studio’s marketing machine, but also sparked by various bloggers and sites posting all kinds of Star Trek-related stuff in anticipation for the new movie. Strangely enough, instead of being blasé or even rolling my eyes about the whole thing, for once I was actually intrigued. I guess it was started back in 2009 when I saw JJ Abrams’ Star Trek for the first time. For some reason, the whole franchise sort of eluded me when I was growing up, as I had never followed any of the TV series nor seen any of the previous films. Ok I did see clips of the 1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this Spock swimming with the Whale scene is such a hoot! It’s one of the best ‘fish out of water’ comedic scenes ever, pardon the pun 😀

Oh and I did see the comedy satire Galaxy Quest which is not only hilarious but spot on – one doesn’t have to be a Trekkie to recognize the obvious subject of its parody. Nonetheless, I was practically Star Trek virgin four years ago. The only ‘knowledge’ I knew of Star Trek is from pop culture, the iconic phrase Live long and prosper, the Vulcan salute that I have to admit I have trouble doing, that Spock & Kirk are cross-species BFF and that Klingons are their longtime nemesis. But other than that, I’ve no clue about their universe, so I’ve got to admit that whole Spock + Spock scene in the first movie was quite discombobulating for me. My hubby had to explain a lot of the basic Star Trek 101 and all the jargon, ahah. I guess perhaps his enthusiasm might’ve rubbed off on me a bit, but I think it’s more than that.

As I mentioned in my review of the 2009 version, I think the casting and the chemistry of the cast is what I really enjoyed about the film. But what I didn’t mention then is how timeless the story of Star Trek stories, depicting the adventures of this group of humans and aliens on board the Enterprise spaceship. The underlying themes war and peace, loyalty, personal courage, the role of technology, etc. are human motifs that still relevant to this day, but of course it’s now enveloped in a shiny and cool wrapping with the latest special effects and gadgetry… oh and of course, sprinkled with lots and lots of lens flares! 😉

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Thankfully Abrams’ obsession with the lens flare didn’t bother me as it did in the first movie (maybe I just chose to ignore ’em), but what we still get in this sequel is the zippy and fun tone, boosted by the chemistry of its cast and spectacular special effects. Despite the title, the movie is really not as dark as we’re led to believe. Yes it’s slightly darker than the first, but by no means grim. Everything I like about the first movie is present, the bromance between Spock and Kirk are funnier and snarkier – Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine are one of those perfect casting choice that gets even better the more I watch them together. More screen time for Karl Urban‘s McCoy (yay) and also Simon Pegg‘s Scotty relishing in his Scottish brogue whilst being in a hysterical state of panic for most of the movie.

Cumberbatch_StarTrekIntoDarknessBut really, the REAL star of Star Trek Into Darkness is the villain. Much like The Dark Knight‘s The Joker, Benedict Cumberbatch villainous turn as the intergalactic terrorist John Harrison stole all kinds of scenes every time he’s on screen! As the superior being – in every way, as the character pompously claim – Cumberbatch is such a perfect choice for the role and he brings that same cocksure swagger from his role as Sherlock Holmes. Yes his delivery is a bit too theatrical, perhaps intentionally so, but there’s no denying his screen charisma. Cumberbatch is unconventionally good looking, but he made those who are classically handsome oh so boring! Oh, and I think there should be law that require him to wear long, cape-like coat in every movie, yes?

I think in terms of the characterization of the villain, it’s definitely an improvement over the first (no offense Eric Bana!). Somehow Cumberbatch’s role isn’t the typical two dimensional bad guy hellbent on destruction, though certainly it’s not an excuse on his means he chose for his mission. What really works is how the series of destructive events truly test those in leadership roles of the Starfleet, particularly Kirk as he often has to make split-second decisions with the crew’s life hanging in the balance. Despite the eye-popping action in 3D (those warm-speed scenes are pure geek-gasm stuff), sleek set pieces and futuristic fashion, it’s not really style-over-substance (thank goodness!). I’d readily give the movie a 4.5/5 rating!

Thanks to the trio of writers Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci in creating a reboot that still pays homage to the original, but yet feels fresh and cool. In a way, it’s kind of like the motto that Gene Roddenberry created back in 1966.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Well, one thing for sure, the journey of the Enterprise crew seems endless. With a projected box office take of $100 mil in four days, even without Abrams at the helm (as he’d be too preoccupied with yet another behemoth franchise Star Wars), we’re likely to see more sequels in the works. Hey I’m fine with that, fingers crossed that somehow Cumberbatch would return as well?

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In the meantime, I’m inclined to check out previous Star Trek films, starting with the original William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (particularly The Wrath of Khan) . Then later on I might move on with The Next Generation with Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, especially since Keith highly recommended Star Trek: First Contact.

So I guess thanks to Mr. Abrams bold and exciting voyage, I just might jump into the Star Trek bandwagon after all. No, I don’t think I’ll be a Trekkie nor would I start be buying a Captain Kirk action figure any time soon, but somehow now I see this 47 year-old franchise in a whole new light 😀


So tell me where do you stand in regard to this sci-fi franchise? Let me know your thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness, too!

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Monthly Roundup: May Movie Watching Recap

Happy June everybody! Summer is officially here, yay! Summer blockbuster months are definitely upon us. I think starting this weekend there’ll be a movie worth seeing on the big screen practically every weekend!

But this month is quite lackluster for me. I only went to the cinema once the entire month, and even catching up on newly-released movies on Blu-ray has been slow. But like the last one, it’s a busy blogging time with no less than three blog-a-thons, as well as some other list-related posts I did. Here are some in case you missed them:

Ok, and here are the [paltry] list of movies I saw this past month…

Movies I haven’t seen before:

Re-watch:
Yes I know, it’s very depressing indeed, especially after seeing Eric’s and Ryan’s lists, I mean just look at all those awesome movies they watched! Hopefully I’ll have more time to watch a lot more movies this month, as this weekend alone I’ll be watching three new films starting with Coriolanus which I watched last night. I can tell you that after waiting nearly two years to see it, I wasn’t disappointed, full review coming next week. This evening we plan to watch Snow White & The Huntsman, and I also got the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus Blu-ray that my pal Vince lent me. I’ve been curious to see Heath Ledger’s last film.

Favorite May Movie:

Shouldn’t be a surprise to you eh? I still haven’t seen it again a second time, but we might do that once this arrives in the discount theater.


So, how many films did you get to watch this month and what’s your favorite?

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?

Happy Birthday Alan Rickman!

Mr. Rickman turns 64 today.

Thought I’d give a short tribute to him as he’s one of my favorite British actors. I first saw him as the captivating villain Hans Grubber in Die Hard, stealing scenes from action hero Bruce Willis. He also plays another memorable villainous role as the tyrannical Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, again nearly outshining the lead actor Kevin Costner. But he’s just as wonderful in his more tender roles, as the romantic ghost in Truly, Madly, Deeply (thanks to my ESL teacher who introduced me to that film) and of course my all-time favorite, as the noble Col. Brandon in Sense & Sensibility. How could Marianne fall for the young, impetuous Willoughby when she’s got such a regal man with silky, smooth voice like Christopher Brandon swooning over her?!

Just the way he looked at Marianne here practically melts the heart of every woman everywhere:

To prove his versatility, Rickman also shines in his comedic roles, most notably in the hilarious sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest. He’s also adept at singing in Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. Is it any wonder he’s chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#34) in 1995? We can see hear him next as the voice of Caterpillar in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Here’s wishing for a lasting acting career for Mr. Rickman!