Question of the week: Which seasoned director do you think has lost his mojo?

RidleyScottExodusSet
Sir Ridley couldn’t even keep Christian Bale awake on set

Though this falls under my Random Movie Question categories, you’d surmise that it’s really NOT so random. I was inspired by my friend Ted who texted me after the EXODUS screening that he was surprised the film was made by an experienced director of Ridley Scott’s caliber, he said it looked like it had been done by some newbie filmmaker.

You’ll see his full review later this week, but that confirms my dread that Sir Ridley seems to have really lost his mojo. I mean this is the same visionary director who did sci-fi classics like Alien, Blade Runner in his early 40s, then Gladiator (one of my faves of all time), Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Dawn, etc. in his 50s. A lot of people might’ve said he’s lost it long ago and perhaps the 77-year-old should’ve retired and just stick to be an executive producer. Yet I somehow still defended him when he made Robin Hood (which I still enjoyed though I wish he had stuck with the Sheriff of Nottingham concept), and I even think A Good Year has its charm. But after Prometheus, which was fun but definitely no masterpiece by a long shot, The Counselor was panned by critics and audience alike. His latest *Biblical epic* seems um, poised to fall in that same category, and not only because of his questionable casting choices.

Now, he’s certainly not the only director out there who can’t seem to follow up their past success. People have been saying that about Brian de Palma, Oliver Stone, even Francis Ford Coppola are in the same camp.


So I’m curious, which seasoned/famous director(s) you think have lost their touch in recent years?

Wordless Wednesday: 7 Favorite Scenes of the Roman Epic GLADIATOR (2000)

WordlessWednesday

This past weekend, I rewatched an old favorite. Well it’s not just an oldie-but-goodie, it’s perhaps one of my top 10 favorite of all time: GLADIATOR. It’s the one cinematic masterpiece Ridley Scott’s been trying to replicate ever since, to no avail. After seeing the trailer for Exodus: Gods and King, well it seems that Mr Scott’s glory days is behind him. Ah well, we’ll always have Gladiator. Amazing that even fourteen years later, this film still holds up extremely well, everything about it is perfect, absolutely perfect.

I’ve written an extensive appreciation post on it a few years back, as part of a ‘Movies that made going to the movies suck‘ blogathon. Yes I think that blogathon name is a hoot, but once you read people’s posts on it, it totally make sense. Anyhoo, it’s supposed to be a wordless post so I’ve said enough already. Here are some of my favorite scenes from the Roman epic:

First Battle in Germania

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius


“The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end…”


Commodus Enters Rome

“Are you not entertained?!”

…..

Ending scene – w/ Now We Are Free score

Gracchus on the Gladiatorial Games

I couldn’t find the exact scene for this but I LOVE Derek Jacobi‘s scene here. His lines is one of my favorite movie quote ever, but most importantly, it’s how he delivered it.

Gracchus_Gladiator

[SCENE: Gaius and Gracchus at a restaurant, discussing the games which Commodus revived to lure the mob. Outside can be seen a juggler, merchants calling out their wares (wine), and the crowd visiting and moving about.]

GAIUS: Games! 150 days of games!
GRACCHUS: He’s cleverer than I thought.
GAIUS: Clever. The whole of Rome would be laughing at him if they weren’t in fear of his Praetorian.
GRACCHUS: Fear and wonder. A powerful combination.
GAIUS: Will the people really be seduced by that?
GRACCHUS: I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. He will conjure magic for them and they will be distracted. He will take away their freedom, and still they will roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble floor of the Senate, it is the sand of the Colosseum. He will give them death, and they will love him for it.


These are just a sampling of my favorite scenes from GLADIATOR. What do you think? Feel free to share yours.

A-Z Favorite Movie Titles Blogathon

FaveMovieTitleBlogathon

I’m a little late to this but I promised Brittani @ Rambling Film I’d do this when I get back from holiday. I can’t possibly missed not participating in her debut blogathon! Here are the rules:

1) Going through the alphabet, list your favorite movie title beginning with each letter.

2) You don’t have to necessarily like the movie to use it’s title.

3) Use the banner at the top of this post in yours.

4) Please have submissions in by Friday, May 30th*.

Now, even though Brittani said I don’t have to like the movie to use its title, my list consist of movies I love, not always a favorite but those I don’t mind seeing more than once. Of course there are a couple of guilty pleasures thrown in. For the purpose of narrowing things down, I’m only including movies from 90s and up. So here goes:

10 Things I Hate About You

Amazing Grace

Belle

Casino Royale

A-ZBlogathon_DieHard

Elizabeth

Four Weddings and A Funeral

Gladiator

How to Train Your Dragon

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Jurassic Park

The King's Speech

Licence To Kill

The Man In The Iron Mask

Nowhere Boy

One Fine Day

Pacific Rim

The Queen

The Rocketeer

Sense & Sensibility

Toy Story

V For Vendetta

A Walk In the Clouds

X-Men 2000

The Young Victoria

A-ZMovies_Unbreakable

A-ZMovies_ZeroDarkThirty


Check out what my fellow bloggers pick for their Favorite Movie Titles here.


So that’s that folks. Are any of your favorites on my list?

Russell Crowe Birthday Tribute: Top 10 Favorite Roles of the Aussie Thespian

HappyBdayRussellCrowe

I almost missed Russell Crowe’s birthday today. On April 7, the Aussie thespian turns 49. In case you didn’t know, before Gerry Butler, I was quite obsessed with the New Zealand-born actor after seeing his performance in Gladiator back in 2000. The following year, I tried to watch as many of his older films as possible, including his obscure Aussie movies like Heaven’s Burning and Proof, and his early Hollywood role in the campy Rough Magic. Even in his slimmer days, Crowe is not exactly a matinee idol known simply for his chiseled good looks. I mean sure he’s a handsome fellow, but in a rugged, rough-around-the-edges kind of way… add to that the gruff voice and stern, piercing gaze, he’s as manly as they come.

I did a mini tribute of sort in 2010, spotlighting his superlative performance in The Insider. Samantha from Banana Oil Movies listed her top 5 Russell Crowe movies that same year, and in the comments I told her what my top five would be, but since I’ve seen nearly 20 of his films by now, I figure I’d rank my top 10 favorite roles from Crowe.

Ok, before I rank my list, I’d have to tell you that I haven’t seen his breakthrough role as a skinhead in Romper Stomper yet, somehow I just haven’t got around to it yet. I also haven’t seen Body of Lies and Les Miserables. Well, without further ado, here we go:

10. Cort – The Quick and the Dead

Crowe_TheQuickandtheDeadI’ve got to admit I saw this film for the first time for Leonardo DiCaprio, but it was Crowe’s hunky henchman-turned-reverend who made an impression. He had this sly smile the moment he entered the screen, that casual, nonchalant demeanor that Crowe pulls off so well. I think he’s never looked as sexy on screen as he was in his role as Cort, and he’s got such scorching chemistry with Sharon Stone. This movie was a flop though clearly it didn’t ruin the career of then-unknown actors as both DiCaprio and Crowe became superstars within five years after its release. This is not the greatest Westerns, but it’s still fun to see Crowe’s brooding performance and he’s easily one of the most interesting characters of the bunch.

9. John Brennan – The Next Three Days

Crowe_NextThreeDaysAnother underrated film from Crowe, as the film barely made up for even the low production budget of $30 mil. I actually got a free screening to this and I’m glad I got to see it. The crime drama centers on a married couple whose life is turned upside down when Crowe’s wife is accused of a murder. A lot of the time, Crowe’s the only one on screen in this thinking-man’s thriller. If you have seen the trailer, you’d probably think it’s a fast-paced thriller set in the vein of the Bourne movies, but as I said in my review, this film is more of a character-driven thriller anchored by Crowe’s excellent performance. He’s utterly believable alternating between a gentle, dotting dad and an unrelenting man-on-a-mission, it proves that Crowe can’t be pigeonholed into a certain type of actor. Elizabeth Banks also surprised me with her compelling turn in more serious role than what I’m used to seeing her in.

8. Cal McAffrey State of Play

Crowe_StateOfPlayBased on a six-part British TV series of the same name that aired in 2003, this is another *quiet* role for Crowe that really showed his dramatic intensity. As a road-smart reporter probing into the suspicious death of a Congressman’s mistress, Crowe’s sporting a long-ish locks and he looks disheveled throughout the film, and he’s also sporting a pretty convincing American accent. It was originally a role for Brad Pitt, but I’m glad Crowe replaced him. Crowe portrayed the gutsy, stubborn reporter with sometimes questionable ethics with such aplomb, and not without with and humor. I quite like his banter with Dame Helen Mirren, and out-acting Ben Affleck, though to be fair, Affleck is suitable as the unscrupulous Congressman.

7. Ben Wade — 3:10 To Yuma

Crowe_310YumaBen Wade stands as one of my favorite charming bad boys, perhaps the only actor who could actually outshine the likes of Christian Bale. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bale was excellent as the good guy Dan Evans who’s escorting Wade to the 3:10 train to Yuma. But Crowe played the Bible-thumping outlaw in such a charismatic way you can’t help but root for the guy. I’d love to see Crowe played more antihero roles as he bring so much layer and complexity that’s far from being one-dimensional. The battle of wills between Crowe and Bale is the highlights of the film, which stands as one of my favorite Westerns I’ve seen so far.

6. Jim Braddock Cinderella Man

Crowe_CinderellaManI think Crowe was robbed of an Oscar nomination here as Jim Braddock, a down-on-his-luck boxer who came back to become a champion during the Great Depression. It seems like a tailor-made role for Crowe that showcase his both physical and emotional strength as an actor. Portraying a real-life persona is tricky but I think Crowe was more than up for the task. The boxing stuff are incredibly-made, but the emotional scenes packed even more punch. The level of despair and extreme poverty presented in this film is visceral and gut-wrenching, and Crowe brought his A-level game to play this incredible unlikely hero. His performance made this film work so well, along with supporting performances from Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti.

5. John Nash — A Beautiful Mind

Crowe_ABeautifulMindYet another biopic that earned Crowe his third Best Actor Oscar nominations. This film got much flak for winning Best Picture in 2002. Now, I don’t know if this film deserved its win over other nominees that include LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring and Gosford Park, but I do believe Crowe’s performance as a brilliant mathematician John Nash is Oscar-worthy. Portraying someone suffering through schizophrenia certainly takes an equally brilliant actor, and it’s a testament to Crowe’s talent that though the character descend into madness, he didn’t make the performance descend into some sort of caricature.

When I saw this on the big screen, I was amazed by how authentic Crowe’s performance was, as he didn’t so much rely on the makeup to make himself look like Nash, but his gestures, manner of speaking, his walk, etc. made the character so compelling to watch. His effortless chemistry with Jennifer Connelly is the emotional center of the film as well as provide some of the most hilarious scenes in the film.

4. Jack Aubrey — Master & Commander

Crowe_MasterCommanderWhen I made my tribute three years ago, I haven’t seen this film. Well I finally did a couple of years ago and was blown away! I never thought I’d enjoy a film that takes place in a boat from start to finish, with zero romance or even a female interaction. But Peter Weir crafted such a fantastic historical drama during the Napoleonic Wars. Crowe played a strong and charismatic British captain who pushed himself and his crew to the limits. As the courageous and sympathetic Capt. Jack Aubrey, Crowe owned his role and is really the best thing to watch in this film and made the 138 running-time a worthwhile journey with nary a boring moment!

It proves that Crowe truly is one of the best leading men of the last two decades, as he commands your attention and respect every minute he appeared on screen, just like Capt. Aubrey commands loyalty and admiration from his men. I wish the two Aussies would work together again. A Weir-Crowe collaboration is one of my wish-list of director/actor reunions I’d love to see again.

3. Bud White – L.A. Confidential

Crowe_LAConfidentialOne of my favorite crime film noirs, Crowe played one of the three L.A. cops who were all investigating a series of murder in their own style. Bud White is the brute one of the three, and it’s interesting that the finest acting in this film came from the two Australian actors, Crowe and Guy Pearce. The interaction between the two is exciting to watch, as well as his romantic scenes with Kim Basinger (how’s she the only one nominated for acting, I’ll never know!). He’s a tender lover, but you don’t want to cross him… Bud’s reaction as he’s betrayed is downright terrifying.

The film works as an ensemble piece and proves that Crowe is just a fine character actor as he is a leading man. But one thing’s certain, his unflinching intensity dominates the screen and his performance is the one I remember most even amongst such a terrific ensemble delivering one of their best performances.

2. Maximus – Gladiator

Crowe_GladiatorThe role that put Crowe in the Hollywood map and beyond, this would perhaps remain as Crowe’s most memorable performance. I was mesmerized by his staggering screen presence the second he showed up on screen in the bloody battle in Germania, right up until the end at the Colosseum. I simply couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s the ultimate tough guy with a heart, as his scene mourning the slain wife and son is as riveting as his gladiatorial fights. The film is chock full of memorable scenes, but none as unforgettable as the moment where he first uttered his full name that made his enemy shudder. Maximus Decimus Meridius is one of the greatest screen names ever, and Crowe made that character into an icon.

Apparently Crowe was so unhappy with the script for the film that he often rewrote the lines to suit his style. Per IMDb trivia, he initially refused to say the lines “In this life or the next, I will have my vengeance,” telling one of the screenwriters William Nicholson: “Your lines are garbage but I’m the greatest actor in the world and I can make even garbage sound good”. Cocky perhaps, but you know what, he made every line worked even if they sounded corny on paper, as he brought so much gravitas to the role. So many of the quotable lines from the movie became so iconic largely because of the way he delivered them and his timing was always spot on.

1. Jeffrey Wigand – The Insider

Crowe_TheInsiderThis is the role that Crowe should’ve won his first Oscar for. As great as his performance as Maximus—which was decidedly more sensational—his quiet but incredibly astute portrayal of a tobacco whistle blower still stands as his greatest role to date for me. Not only was this a transformative role for the actor, having to gain 35+ pounds to play Jeffrey Wigan, he also embodied the role with his meticulous performance. It’s a prime example where the actor disappears as what you see on screen is this character, at times I felt as if I was watching a documentary. The humanity of the role is incredibly moving, as Wigand is really just a regular guy—a dotting father and loving husband—driven to the boiling point, trying his best to cope with the incredible pressure of his situation. The Insider is also one of Michael Mann’s finest directing moment, and perhaps one of Al Pacino’s best roles as well as CBS’ 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman.

This role is a must for any Russell Crowe fan, or anyone who ever doubts his acting prowess. The first of many thinking-man’s thrillers where Crowe’s immense talent is put to good use.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Proof
  • A Good Year
  • Mystery Alaska
  • Robin Hood
  • American Gangster

I look forward to more great roles from Crowe, be that as a leading man or supporting roles, such as the one as Superman’s father Jor-El in Man of Steel.


Well, those are my picks of top 10 Russell Crowe’s roles. What about you? Please list your own favorite roles in the comments.

Somewhere In Time … Everybody’s Chattin’

Happy Friday everyone!

It’s kind of a short week for me as I took Wednesday off but still it feels hectic so I’m definitely glad the weekend is just around the corner. I found time to re-watch one of my old time favorites last night, I guess I was feeling rather melancholy, but I wanted to watch something with gorgeous music and Somewhere In Time fits the bill perfectly.

I love the Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour match-up… both of them are so ridiculously stunning but it’s Chris’ earnestness that really won me over. It proves that he’s sooo much more than just a Superman actor. This gorgeous film is no doubt one of the most heartbreaking time-travel romances ever made and John Barry’s music is sooo hauntingly beautiful.

Well, it’s time for links! I’ll start with the ladies first of course…

Lesya’s New York City in Genres
I always love a great blog-a-thon and in this one Lesya @ Eternity of Dream invited a bunch of bloggers to share their recommendations of a variety of films set in New York City.
Kristin asks a great question whether comic book films should be serious, or not so serious
As a fan of superhero movies, I certainly think there are room for both interpretation. But what do YOU think?

Lady Sati’s August Movie of the Month EARRINGS
I’m attempting to hit two birds with one stone here… one of my favorite bloggers Lady Sati just posted her review of another talented cinephile and burgeoning filmmaker Alex from And So It Begins blog. Check out his short film debut EARRINGS and its production notes here. Congrats Alex!
Fogs’ Top Ten Comic-Book Superhero Movies
Now this is my kind of list!! I can’t believe I haven’t made one like it yet but I agree w/ a lot of his picks. How about you?
Michael’s review of Field of Dreams
This is perhaps the only movie about baseball that I like. I still have no clue about th sports but I like the story and Kevin Costner’s performance. Plus, a post with an awesome word like felicitous is certainly going to get a link love from me! 🙂
Mark’s gave Gladiator another shot!
Hurray! Most of you know how much I LOVE this film, so I’m so thrilled that my pal Mark was willing to give this film another go despite not being wowed by it the first time. He now has a better appreciation for it, find out why.
Ryan’s review of To Rome With Love
How does Woody Allen’s latest love-story-ensemble-cast-set-in-a-European-city fare? Is it as delectable as the best Gnocchi alla Romana on Thursdays? Ryan investigates.
Nostra summarized the results of the fun-tastic Movie Confessions blog-a-thon
Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks Meryl Streep is a bit overrated and there are others who have not seen anything by Kurosawa.


Now lastly… are you on Facebook? Then so is FlixChatter! 😀


So what are you going to see this weekend? Whatever you do, hope you have a good one!

The FCM Blog-a-thon — What movie(s) will become a Future Classic?

What a brilliant idea! My pal Paula, who’s a confirmed TCM addict, have often wondered what movies from the 21st century would stand the test of time, like CasablancaGone With The Wind or Out of the PastInstead of just mulling those over on her own, she decides to get all of us movie bloggers to join in on the fun. And so the FUTURE CLASSIC MOVIES (FCM) BLOGATHON was born.

So what do we have to do? Well, we get to pick a movie (or more) from 2000 or later, and writes about why they think it will endure to become a Future Classic. 


To me, the key to a film’s endurance has to do with the main subject matter itself, whether its theme will resonate with people no matter what age/era. The reason Casablanca achieved its iconic status and can still be enjoyed by a new generation 70 years later is that the theme of lost love, patriotism and sacrifice are all something we can relate and aspire to, no matter how many years have passed since WWII.

All of these films below are visually stunning, but just like people, looks can only be interesting for so long. It’s the substance and message that makes a movie timeless. 

So with that in mind, here are three that I think has the ingredients to become a Future Classic.

It should be obvious but spoilers may be present in this post,
consider yourself warned. 

Gladiator

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’d likely know I adore this film. It’s the first film that came to mind when Paula invited me, and in my mind, it already IS a classic and I believe generations to come would still appreciate this one even decades from now.

I selected the very same film two years ago for a blog-a-thon called Movies That Makes Going to the Movies Suck as this Ridley Scott masterpiece pretty much launched a trend of swords-and-sandals flicks that threatens to tarnish the original’s legacy. One sign of an enduring film is that some of its quotes are still used even today, but of course that alone won’t make a *classic* if it doesn’t have an engrossing story and fused with a thrilling spectacle of action and memorable performances.

Brain, brawn and heart… there’s not a lot of films that capture all three perfectly, and still manage to impress us visually with its amazing cinematography. Oh, and there’s the soundtrack. I still get chills listening to Now We Are Free, it speaks so beautifully about Maximus’ humanity. Oh I long to see this film on the big screen once again in all its glory.

HUGO

A love letter to the movies, what could be more timeless? At first glance, Scorsese’s first family film seems to be about this 12-year-old orphan boy Hugo Cabret who lives in a railway station. That’s pretty much as much as I know when I went it to see it, so what a joy it is when the film takes us into a journey that ties the boy with a real life French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès.

Loneliness, abandonment, disillusionment are sentiment any of us can relate to as we’ve all felt it at some point of another. No matter how modern technology has evolved, even when we’re able to watch movies via a hologram or what have you, our humanity is what will connect us across generations. And that’s what films do in many ways. That’s why *classic* films shall always have a place in the modern world and years to come. Our great, great grand-kids will still likely be fascinated by how the past generations create the films that  become the medium they enjoy today.

The 1930s world with that marvelous vintage clock where Hugo lives in is absolutely enchanting. There’s something so magical about the way its filmed that captures your imagination. 3D will become old news one day but its charm and heartwarming story won’t likely be lost with the passing time.

[read my Hugo review]

Midnight in Paris

Here’s another one from 2011 that’s also nominated for Best Picture Oscar. I didn’t plan it that way, but I do think both films has that certain everlasting charm, and not only because they’re both set in the city of lights. The fixation with time period of past and present drives the story here and the idea of time travel certainly has a lasting effect in cinema. It’s similar to Woody Allen’s other time travel fantasy The Purple Rose of Cairo, but even more beguiling.

The protagonist Gil is obsessed with a bygone era of the 1920s, so when he’s somehow magically transported to that period at midnight, the *lost generation* looks ever so fresh and as fascinating as ever. We watch in awe just like Gil marveling at its beauty… the car, the clothes, the music… and of course the seemingly immortal personas like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso… the people in history books that we’ll always treasure for years to come.

What’s more, the predicament Gil faces is something we can all relate to. No, I’m not talking about his obsession with a certain era, but about pursuing his dreams and having the courage to break free from his stifling life to do so.

“Maybe the present is a little unsatisfying because life is a little unsatisfying” – Gil

The message about appreciating one’s life in the present will also resonate well no matter what era one lives in. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned that Paris in the rain in the finale, it doesn’t get any more timeless than this.

[read my Midnight in Paris review]


Do check out what other films people think will become a Future Classic.


Well, what do you think of my picks? Feel free to share what movie(s) you think have a long-lasting appeal.

My Movie Year: The Year 2000

Thanks to Andy for inviting me to My Movie Year blog-a-thon. This is the second time I’ve participated in Fandango Groovers’ blog event since the massively popular Desert Island DVDs. Below is the simple rule for the post:

All you have to do is pick your favourite year for movies and back I up with five classics from that year, no more no less. You can do as much or as little as you want with your selections; a simple list, images and posters, reviews, trailers. Or anything else you can think of.

It’s quite a daunting task as most of the movies I love come from different decades. I actually didn’t see all that many movies back in college, but I pick the year 2000 as this is the year where I moved in to my first ever house after living in one apartment after another in college and shortly after graduation. I didn’t watch a lot of movies on the big screen then either, but it turns out a lot of movies released in 2000 have become one of my all time favorites. So here they are:

Gladiator

I can’t possibly NOT include this movie. I mean, I’ve always LOVED swords and sandals movie ever since Ben-Hur, and this one has such a fantastic story and wonderful performances all around. I even picked this as the subject for the blog-a-thon ‘Movies that makes going to the movies suck‘ because it’s been copied so many times and studios are launching similar type of movies to capitalize on its popularity.

But this often-quoted Ridley Scott masterpiece remains on top in this genre and to this day I’m still enamored with it as the first time I saw it. It’s one of those movies that has the whole package, everything from the story, dialog, set pieces, performances, and even the soundtrack makes up for an epic entertainment.

Russell Crowe gave an iconic performance, even his name Maximus Decimus Meridius is a classic. Equally memorable are Joaquin Phoenix as the despicable incestuous Commodus, and the more I watch this movie the more I appreciate all the character actors that make this movie great, most especially Derek Jacobi with his theatrical line delivery. It’s not as popular as the others, but I pick this line as one of my favorite movie quotes of all time.

Unbreakable

I LOVE this imaginative take of a superhero movie. People tend to mock M. Night Shyamalan’s these days but I’m still willing to give him a pass because he’s made some creative work in the past, especially this one.

An intriguing concept that’s brilliantly executed, Unbreakable is a quiet but suspenseful thriller that’s rich in character development. The astute cinematography adds so much to the eerie and mysterious tone of the film, in many occasion, it even help tells the story in such a breathtaking way. That scene where Elijah falls on the stairs of the train station is such a heart-wrenching scene… it’s as if I could feel his pain as he breaks nearly every bones in his body. It’s also one of those movies where it’s not a simple good vs. evil kind of story, and we can’t help but feel sympathy for the bad guy.

Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here. – Elijah Price

It shows that Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson certainly can act if they choose to. Both seem to gravitate more for the action-packed stuff and sure they’re good at it, but I’d love to see them do something more understated like this again.

Oh, and I actually do like the ending, it’s unexpected and definitely made you go ‘whoa’ the first time around. But unlike Sixth Sense, it doesn’t lose its impact even after repeated viewings.

Chicken Run

When I first saw this, I had never seen Wallace & Gromit before but I absolutely adore this Peter Lord and Nick Park’s creation. It’s odd since I’m usually not into claymation, but I think this movie is just so fun and joyful to watch. Inspired by The Great Escape, the chickens led by Ginger rebels against against the evil Mrs. Tweedy’s farm with the help of Rocky the rooster.

Right from the start, I was so enthralled and empathized with the poor ‘imprisoned’ chickens, as they’re depicted as having humanly activities like knitting, dance, bicker with one another, and seemingly having more lively existence than the humans at the farm.  The dialog is sharp and funny, with hilarious yet poignant lines like “I don’t want to be a pie.” or “We’ll either die free chickens or we die trying.” The voice cast are a hoot, especially Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson as Ginger and Rocky.

It’s definitely one of my favorite animated features of all time. I even feel a bit guilty eating chickens for a while after watching this, especially chicken pot pie! 😀

Return to Me

I think I’ve talked about this movie quite often. It’s always on my list of favorite rom-coms, and I even dedicated a whole post for it. This movie doesn’t follow the typical formula of a rom-com, in fact it starts out with a tragedy. But yet it’s a joyful movie despite its poignant subject matter, filled with a wonderful depiction of family live, sincere friendship and a love story between two people who’ve gone through a lot by the time they find each other.

Both David Duchovny and Minnie Driver are wonderful here, they’re not your go-to actors for this genre which is a shame as they’re so natural here. Same with director Bonnie Hunt as she is quite adept with creating wonderful characters and engagingly funny dialog. It’s too bad that this is her only feature film in her resume. Oh, and the soundtrack is wonderful, too!

Check out the trailer below:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

X-Men

I readily admit that I have a penchant for superhero movies, and the mythology and the allegory with the reality of our world of the X-Men universe is particularly fascinating to me. I absolutely loved it when it first came out and both my hubby and I were hugely anticipating it. Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint and it’s still good after repeated viewing. Bryan Singer made superhero movies not only cool but has something meaningful to say. It’s intelligent AND fun.

The casting is key here, from hiring two British thespians as the two leaders of polar opposites — Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart — to taking a chance with a then-unknown Aussie actor Hugh Jackman as the tormented Wolverine. He may be indestructible but he’s still vulnerable and Jackman’s gruff but soulful portrayal won him many fans and launched his career. He’s got an undeniable chemistry with Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey, which makes their unrequited romance quite irresistible.

It’d be nice if Singer stays on throughout the trilogy, then we’d have three solid movies in this franchise. But the consolation is that he came back, albeit as a producer, in the excellent X-Men: First Class, which has a lot of the great things I love about the original and then some!

Other great movies I like from 2000:

  • Billy Elliot
  • Chocolat
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Memento


My runner-up year: 1995

I almost picked this year because I absolutely adore Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility, plus it’s also got two other dramas I love: Circle of Friends and A Walk in the Clouds. I also like Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Usual Suspects and Se7en a lot, but in the end I feel like I have more affinity for the five movies I picked for 2000.



Thoughts about the movies listed here? Now, what year would YOU pick?