Weekend Roundup: The Raid: Redemption and My Week with Marilyn reviews

Happy Tuesday folks, a bit late on the weekend roundup as I just wanted to get my Hunger Games review out of the way. Well, I managed to see four movies last week which to some of you is on the low side but it’s actually more than what I usually have time for. I saw Casablanca on Wednesday (which I still plan to blog about in the near future), a re-watch of Gregory’s second film (and his first Oscar-nominated performance) The Keys to the Kingdom, Hunger Games, and late Sunday night I finished the week with My Week With Marilyn.

This week we also have a special guest review from my Twitter pal Cecilia Rusli who saw the uncensored version of THE RAID (which I mentioned here) at iNAFFF (Indonesia International Fantastic Film Festival), the only genre film festival in South East Asia. She actually got to meet some of the cast, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Joe Taslim, Tegar Satrya at the special screening!

So let’s get to the reviews, shall we?

THE RAID: Redemption

I was impressed on the first time I saw the fights between Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian in an Indonesian action movie directed by Gareth Evans titled Merantau. It finally put my expectation pretty high on The Raid: Redemption which has the same director and some same casts too. The Raid: Redemption basically is about a group of SWAT which are on a mission on raiding a drug lord on his safe house. They find out that they were trapped there and the only way out is by fighting those dangerous killers and drug lord floor by floor.

I’m personally not impressed by the storyline and it’s the kind of story I will forget in few weeks. However, Ray Sahetapy and Yayan Ruhian, the villains, are having strong characters which made me love them much than the other casts, even Iko Uwais could not beat my impression to their characters. They both managed to look real snob, but hilarious at the same time. I think I’m officially more into the villains of The Raid: Redemption.

The hype is true. The Raid: Redemption offers a  non stop action pack which hardly gives us room to breathe. The thing which I hardly find on the other action movies is the Indonesian martial arts known as Pencak Silat. They do use some guns, knives, and explosions. And I would prefer watching The Expendables if I’m into those things. But The Raid: Redemption managed to actually shows us how to kill people with hands, and only hands. Iko Uwais is brilliant on that point. Again, not only by his character, Yayan Ruhian steal my most attention on the action parts. Yes he looks small if being compared with most fighters on action movies who are tall and having big muscles. But his superb fights on The Raid: Redemption actually made me say “When will this guy be dead?”

Some people might say that The Raid: Redemption is just a video-game like. I personally amused by the violence. Blood and fights between tough guys have never been so much entertaining like this before.
4 out of 5 reels

Thanks again Cecilia for her wonderful review!

My Week With Marilyn

I don’t usually begin my review with a confession but I feel that I must admit that I have never seen a Marilyn Monroe film before seeing this one. But yet I’ve always been intrigued by her glamorous persona and this film offers a tiny glimpse of what’s life is like for Hollywood’s most iconic movie star.

The ‘my’ in the title belongs to an Englishman named Colin Clark, whose two books are the film’s inspirations. Despite his lack of experience, the 23-year-old Clark’s determination (and family connection) got him a seemingly thankless job as third assistant director in The Prince and the Showgirl’s British production, directed by Lawrence Olivier who also starred in the film. It doesn’t take long before Clark completely fell under Monroe’s spell, as she had such an effect on people. The British Press, the cast and crew and the townsfolk were all in awe of her beauty and movie star image, all except Mr. Olivier, who’s frustrated and infuriated by her work ethic, or lack thereof. Marilyn was constantly late to the set and always insisted on bringing her acting coach Paula Strasberg, though it didn’t seem to help as she constantly flubbed her lines.

Colin summed up the dilema between Monroe and Olivier perfectly… “It’s agony because he’s a great actor who wants to be a film star, and you’re a film star who wants to be a great actress…” 

Despite her beauty and fame, Marilyn had zero self confidence and Olivier’s no-nonsense attitude and blatant discontent only exacerbates her poor morale. At first I thought that Marilyn was such an irritating primadonna, but as the film went on, I felt increasingly sorry for her. When her husband briefly went back to New York, Marilyn turns to the warm and compassionate Colin. Though Marilyn’s name is in the title, Colin is arguably the heart of the film as he took us through a roller-coaster ride of pure euphoria and heartbreak, all in a week’s work.

Michelle Williams is sublime as Marilyn, offering us something more than just plain imitation of the iconic actress’ coquettish sensibilities. Her blond locks and voluptuous figure certainly look the part, but she also captured Marilyn’s emotional vulnerability and her desperate yearning to be accepted and loved. Now I can’t tell you if Kenneth Branagh‘s performance as Olivier is spot-on or not as I’m not acquainted at all with the late actor, but in the context of the film, I think his performance was excellent. Both he and Williams definitely deserve all the accolade, including their Oscar nominations, for their respective roles.

I’m also impressed by Eddie Redmayne as Colin, he’s got that earnest look about him that makes me immediately identify with his character. I noticed him in The Pillars of the Earth before this, but this is definitely a much more memorable turn from him and certainly don’t mind seeing more from this actor. It’s also nice to see Judi Dench, a welcome presence in any film, and her Dame Sybil is wonderfully sympathetic. The rest of the supporting cast including Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper, Julia Ormond and Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller also turn in a pretty decent performance.

The film doesn’t offer much depth into what caused Marilyn’s insecurities and even her marital troubles with Arthur Miller wasn’t adequately explored, hence it felt a bit superficial at times. I wonder at times if this story would’ve worked better as a miniseries instead. In any case, I did enjoy it for what it was and director Simon Curtis did a marvelous job capturing the mood of 1950s England, especially the stunning wardrobe. The music is also wonderful, I was especially dazzled by Nat King Cole singing Autumn Leaves as Marilyn and Colin enjoyed a blissful day visiting the Windsor Castle which ended with the two skinny dipping together.

It’s a worthy glimpse into the life of a movie star… and it certainly made me glad that I’m just a regular gal.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

What did you watch this weekend? If you’ve seen either one of these films, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Five for the Fifth: March 2012 Edition

Hello folks, welcome to the March 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

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. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. This film has been catching all sorts of buzz all over the film sites/blogs. It’s won the Audience Award at TIFF and has been well-received all over film festivals such as SXSW and Sundance. This movie is definitely NOT my cup of tea, I actually read a review that described the non-stop action as being so brutal that it makes Oldboy looks like a Pixar film. Oy.

But what caught my attention is that, this is actually set in my hometown Jakarta and starred mostly unknown Indonesian actors. The director is Welsh-born Gareth Evans was working on a documentary called The Mystic Arts of Indonesia: Pencak Silat for a production company owned by Christine Hakim (Indonesian’s version of Meryl Streep) when he met the lead actor Iko Uwais. He was so impressed with Uwais that he cast him in his first Indo-production Merantau.

Well what do you know, this movie hasn’t even hit US shores yet (it opens in limited release on March 23) and US studio Screen Gems has already been planning for an American remake [heh, what else in new]. Anyway, check out the featurette below:

Have you heard of this movie folks? Would you watch it?

2. I saw a photo of Jude Law recently in the upcoming Anna Karenina adaptation in which he’d play Anna’s high-ranking Russian government official Alexei Karenin. My first reaction is that how in the world are they going to make one of Britain’s most beautiful actors look dour and not-much-to-look-at as Alexei’s described in the book?? But after seeing the first still from the Joe Wright’s movie, well clearly the makeup people somehow made it happen! I almost didn’t recognize Jude in this photo!!

Anyway, Jude’s been busy this past year (though not as busy as Ewan McGregor, but then who is?). A lot of you might have seen him in no less than three films, Contagion, the Sherlock Holmes sequel, and HUGO. I kind of appreciate him more as he seems to tackle quite a diverse types of films, going from one genre to the next and he doesn’t capitalize on his good looks.

I’m curious, what are your thoughts on Jude? What’s your favorite Jude Law film(s)?

3. Now for this next question, I actually borrowed it from Sunday’s #MTOS (Movie Talks on Sunday) session on Twitter, hosted by PopFeelings blog. It’s a fascinating question that no doubt will get different answers from movie fans, so here goes:

What genre seems to generate the most terrible films and why?

4. All right, casting news time! Thanks to my pal Dezzy the Hollywood Spy for bringing this to my attention. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend, The Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man) is writing the script and will be making his directorial debut in A Winter’s Tale (no, NOT the Shakespearean version). Will Smith and Russell Crowe are set to play a ruthless mobster and a judge, respectively and Tom Hiddleston is currently in talks to join the cast (per THR).  Wahoo, I definitely love the idea of Crowe and one of my new favorites Hiddleston appearing in a movie together!

Here’s the plot: A sweeping drama about reincarnation, the story is set in the early 20th century and focuses on a thief on the run who, when breaking into a wealthy man’s home, strikes up a relationship with the man’s terminally ill daughter. A flying horse and a time-shift 100 years also figures into the equation.

What do you think about this film’s concept & this cast?

5. Lastly, this is an upcoming project that the first time I heard it I was like, what?? Another remake to Hitchcock’s classics? Fortunately it’s NOT a remake. The film is called Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho which according to SlashFilm will be about exactly what the title suggests. I’m more psyched about the senior cast members Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren who’ll play Hitchcock and his wife Alma, respectively. In the role of Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, they’ve cast Scarlett Johannson and British actor James D’Arcy.

Heh, I always thought that Andrew Garfield would be the perfect choice to play Perkins as when I saw Perkins in On the Beach recently I kept thinking that they could practically be twins! Both are lanky with dark hair, and their facial structure are so similar.

I’m not as familiar with D’Arcy’s work having only seen him in Master & Commander, so I can’t say much about his casting. As for Johansson, well I haven’t been impressed with anything she’s done lately but I suppose she has that retro look that might work for this casting, though her um, busty figure probably is more suitable to play Jayne Mansfield.

Anyway, what do you think about this project? And who would you prefer to play Leigh and Perkins?

Well, that’s it for the March edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!