JULY 2016 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

July16Recap

I can’t believe I’m doing yet another monthly roundup. I swear I just did this not that long ago.

The last day of July also marks a milestone for me as I finally got to type those elusive two words at the bottom of my script!!!

HW_TheEnd

Now I’m going to lock it away for a month (an advice I took from a screenwriting site) before I tinker with it again… so no, I haven’t got to that coveted FINAL draft yet. But still, it took me nearly a year to finally get to this point so it’s quite exciting!

Well it turns out I did watch quite a bit of movies in July, both new-to-me and re-watches. August screenings include Suicide Squad, Florence Foster Jenkins, Pete’s Dragon, Anthropoid and The Light Between Oceans. Still hoping to get a screener link of Equals, the romance sci-fi by Drake Doremus w/ Kristen Stewart & Nicholas Hoult, so hopefully I get that soon.

So anyway, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

13movie

13 (2011)

CaptFantasticCaptain Fantastic (2016) – review upcoming

AdventurerMidasBox

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013)

SecretLifePets

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters (2016)

STB

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

AbFabMovie

Absolutely Fabulous (2016)

JasonBourne

Jason Bourne (2016) – review upcoming

Laura

Laura (1944)

LifeMovie

Life (2015)


Look for my review of Jason Bourne and a guest review of Café Society sometime next week!


Blindspot Pick

Laura1944poster


 Rewatches

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

….
Gladiator (2000) | Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (2016) | BBC’s Sense & Sensibility (2008)  | Superman Returns (2006) | Toy Story 3 (2010) | The Dark Valley (2014) | Becoming Jane (2007) | Working Girl (1988) | The Age of Adaline (2015)

I ended up re-watching a ton of movies this past month. Most of these are on Netflix and Amazon Prime, so I might as well watch them when they’re still available. Some of them I own the Blu-ray (PPZ, Toy Story 3, Superman Returns and BBC’s Sense & Sensibility) and you know my penchant for period dramas, naturally I have to watch a few every month😉

I hadn’t watched Working Girl for at least a decade and I have to say it’s definitely shown its age but it’s still pretty enjoyable. Boy whatever happened to Melanie Griffith? I mean Harrison Ford is definitely still relevant and so is Sigourney Weaver, heck even David Duchovny who’s only credited as a guy at a birthday party still has a pretty good career now.

I’m participating in Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur and the this month’s topic is Foreign Language so of course I’m picking one featuring Sam RileyDas Finstere Tal (The Dark Valley), so watch for my comprehensive review of that in the next few weeks.


 TV Series
VEEPseries

I’ve only gotten to two episodes of Season 1 but I enjoyed it so far. Julia Louis Dreyfuss is a hoot as the Veep herself Selina Meyer. I didn’t realize there are 5 seasons already but the good thing is it’s only a half-hour sit-com so it’s easier to catch up on.


MOVIE(S) OF THE MONTH

MoviesOfTheMonthJuly

It wasn’t as easy to select my movie of the month of July. But out of the contemporary films I saw last month, Captain Fantastic is one I still think about the most. I’m hoping to review it soon, but it’s certainly one of the most unique films ever and Viggo Mortensen is well, fantastic.

I’ve been wanting to watch Laura for a long time. My friend Vince reviewed it for me back in 2011 and he highly recommended it. It’s one of the most acclaimed classic noir mystery and was nominated for five Oscars. Well, it certainly lived up to the hype. I was quite mesmerized by the beautiful Gene Tierney.


Well that’s my viewing recap of July. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

Musings on Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

TheForceAwakens

I wasn’t going to blog about Star Wars as I didn’t think I’d have time before my East Coast trip on Tuesday. But you know what, I can’t help it. Hubby and I actually watched the original trilogy a few weeks ago, just to refresh my memory as I barely remember any of the story. We even watched the last half hour of episode III around the time the final duel between Anakin Skywalker & Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin becoming Darth Vader.

Well, naturally there’s a feverish anticipation to The Force Awakens, a decade after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005. I’m glad the film is finally here so I can actually talk about it and not worry about spoilers. Given the behemoth box office take of $238+mil, surely most of you have seen it by now? I pretty much avoided reading a lot of reviews and articles before this weekend and I’m glad I did. Well, this post is not a review per se, more of my random thoughts about the film and the franchise as a whole, so SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t seen it yet.

A balance of homage & re-imagining

After refreshing the sci-fi classic Star Trek, it’s incredible that JJ Abrams ended up getting the torch to refresh yet another beloved franchise. In a way he’s the right man for the job, and he’s dealt with audience’s passion AND wrath for some of his own creation, i.e. LOST. It’s crazy to think that this is only his fifth feature film as he mostly serve as producers in a plethora of film and TV series.
ForceAwakens1

Abram’s revealed that it’s nerve-wracking to be helming such a massively popular franchise with such ardent fans who are quite tough to please. So I can see why he sort of played it safe with Episode VII and the plot was a nice continuation from where Return of the Jedi left off three decades earlier. The trio of writers, Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, were respectful to the original story whilst making it current in terms of tone and narrative for the new generation of fans.

The one major update seems to deal with the Force itself. In The Phantom Menace, the Force was measured by Midi-chlorian counts found in the cells of a human being. Anakin had a high amount of that and that’s why Qui-Gon Jinn deemed him to be the Chosen One. But he had to be trained to be able to use the force optimally, but now it seems that the Force-sensitivity is more of a mythical thing that isn’t quantifiable, as the case with Rey who doesn’t require much training to use it (more of that later).

After the Galactic Empire was defeated, a new threat emerged in the galaxy, this time it’s called the First Order. Its similarities to the Third Reich is palpable once again, down to the army formation, uniform, etc., led by the Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). It’s clear from the start who the good and evil parties are, which kind of takes away the suspense.

ForceAwakens2

What I like about it

There’s plenty of familiar faces that’s thankfully more than just for nostalgia sake, as the major players Luke & Leia Skywalker and Han Solo’s are integral to the plot. But the fresh faces add a dose of new energy to the story, and the female-driven plot is a welcome but not-surprising move coming from Abrams.

The adventure pretty much began the moment we meet Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger in the desert planet Jakku and Finn (John Boyega), a stormtrooper who found his conscience and escaped from the First Order headquarter. I love both Ridley and Boyega as the two young fresh faces, that’s inspired casting there to cast two unknowns who have a nice chemistry together. Ridley’s given the most to do here as the Chosen One character, both in terms of physicality and emotionally. I think overall she pulled it off. Boyega is an effortlessly likable lead who’s got a pretty strong screen presence, too. They’ve signed on to multiple Star Wars movies and I certainly welcome seeing more of them.

ForceAwakens3

Both of them have some funny and even sweet moments with the original cast, especially Harrison Ford who have the most screen time compared to Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, the latter had no speaking part at all. Like an old shoe, Ford filled his role of Han Solo effortlessly, complete with his curmudgeon attitude and dry wit. His loyal companion Chewie was right there beside him up until the end and perhaps the only moment I choked up a bit was when Chewie witnessed his BFF being murdered right in front of him.

Lupita Nyong’O, whose face was never seen, added gravitas as the wise Maz Kanata, a petite pirate of some kind who’s lived a thousand years. It’s a memorable motion-capture performance and her character is a pretty important one as she seems to know the whereabouts of Luke and also has his lightsaber.

ForceAwakens4

Like in Abram’s Star Trek films, there’s an underlying humor throughout. The banter between Rey, Finn and Solo are a hoot when they’re trying to operate (and fix) the archaic Millennium Falcon. I also find Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) hilarious when he’s angry. The dude has major anger management issues as he’d blast an entire control panel with his lightsaber upon hearing some bad news, ahah. He does have great hair though and what’s the secret to him NOT having helmet hair? Now that‘s a secret worth knowing about😉 I think between him and resistance fighter Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), they can practically do a Pantene commercial!

My new fave characters are definitely Rey, Finn AND the spherical droid BB 8. It’s the most adorable droid yet and he’s an absolute blast to watch! Just like Baymax in Big Hero 6, I had a big smile in my face every time the droid appeared on screen and it even knew how to give a thumbs up!! So yeah, thanks Abrams for introducing such a fun new character that made me forget about that super annoying amphibious whose name rhymes with jinx.

ForceAwakens5

When I learned that the film is 2 hrs and 15 minutes long, I was worried I’d be bored stiff but I’m glad that’s not the case at all. In fact, the film felt like a breeze thanks to the dynamic pacing and fun action scenes, especially the flying sequences. That said, I didn’t think the special effects were THAT spectacular as some people have been saying. I mean, it’s to be expected from a modern movie with a humongous budget of $200 mil. It wasn’t as jaw-dropping as Mad Max: Fury Road which was made with $50 mil less and it didn’t feel so CGI-heavy as this one.

Lastly, I have to mention about John Williams‘ score which was still as awesome as the first time I heard it. The new score is wonderful and rousing as well, which mixes the old and the new, just like the film itself.

What I’m not crazy about

I mentioned the lack of suspense, well that’s how I feel throughout the movie. I can’t tell you a moment where I was genuinely surprised, let alone shocked by it. It’s also very predictable, which takes away the impact of some of the big moments of the film. I could see the death of a major character from a mile away, and I didn’t shed a single tear when it happened (and I’m a cryer!). So you could say that the film wasn’t as emotionally gratifying as I had expected.

Now, my main *quibble* that I discussed on my way home with my hubby was the fact that there are more questions than answers after seeing it. I read this article on Tech Insider on 11 biggest questions after seeing the movie and I agree with all of them. The main one is about the protagonist Rey, who we knew nothing about when the film started and she remained a mystery up until the end. Why is she force sensitive? How does the force work within her without ANY kind of training? Yes of course given that Disney is going to milk this franchise for all its worth, I said to my hubby that we probably won’t know much about her until Episode XII! Heh.

ForceAwakens6

The other main issue I had was that it was never explained why Kylo Ren had such a major beef with his parents? I’d think they’d mention a bit of that when Han and Leia talked about him, but no, we only learned that he had been trained by Luke but then got seduced by the dark side like his granddad. I kept thinking how this seems akin to those parents who learned that their sons had secretly joined ISIS. Ren himself is far from the great villain Vader was (which is obviously the point I guess, hence his constant self doubts), and he’s far too emo and prone to tantrum-throwing to be effective as an evil leader. It made me wonder how he got to be in such a high position to begin with, is it because Snode saw a potential in him given that he’s Vader’s grandson? As much as I enjoy seeing his gorgeous hair though, I think Ren should’ve worn his mask more often as he’s not at all menacing when he takes it off.

“A soap opera about family, not spaceships”

That’s a quote from George Lucas himself I read in this article. “People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems — it’s not about spaceships.” Well, that is fine and dandy because even stories that take place in space have to be somewhat relatable for it to resonate with audiences. But do they need to have familial link for every single character though?? I think if Kylo had been someone NOT blood-related to any of Star Wars’ major character, but that he somehow received training from a Jedi (Luke), I doubt that it’d make that much of a difference in the story. Yes obviously having Han being killed off by his own son, instead of some stranger baddie who happens to be a Vader groupie, has a bigger shock value (though I wasn’t all that shocked, to be honest).

ForceAwakens7

In any case, I do think the Star Wars saga is NOT just about spaceships. It’s got some Biblical values of good and evil, generational sins, and a good message about self-control, self-sacrifice and what it means to be a hero. It’s also a story about loyalty and friendship, as with Han and Chewie, as well as those droids being so loyal to their masters. The Force Awakens introduce new best friends too, Rey and Finn, Finn and Poe, and even Rey and Chewie?

So is it a perfect film?

Well, the short answer to that is NO. As I mentioned above, Abrams took a pretty safe path and made it more of an homage with a few new things added and so I feel that it’s a bit derivative and even predictable. Just as the original trilogy were best appreciated as a whole, as a stand-alone film, The Force Awakens is good but not spectacular, but it works as a continuation of a larger story. The finale hints that Luke would have a larger role in Episode VIII alongside Rey, so it’ll be interesting where the story goes from here.

ForceAwakens8

Yes it is indeed better than the prequels, and the dialog has more zing and not cringe-inducing, thank goodness. I’m glad I saw it and I think having just seen the original trilogy helped with my enthusiasm for this new film. Having said that, my hubby and I didn’t absolutely LOVE this enough to see it again on the big screen though. We might rent it again later once it’s on Blu-ray. Thus, as entertaining as The Force Awakens was, I’m actually looking forward to talking about other movies other than Star Wars in the new year.


Well, what did YOU think? Did you share my thoughts about Episode VII?

FlixChatter Review: The Age of Adaline (2015)

AgeOfAdalinePoster

A lot of the times, I anticipate films based on its director or cast, but in this case, it’s the premise that intrigued me. I wish there are more fantasy romance like this made. It seems that a lot of romantic films are either rom-coms or something utterly tragic. Then there’s the Nicholas Sparks variety which I tend to avoid.

The fact that it’s a fantasy romance, a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy this film. But hey, we don’t have issues with a plethora of superhero movies requiring that, so why not a romantic film?

AgeOfAdaline2

Right from the start, I was intrigued by the protagonist, who basically becomes immortal after a car accident so she always looks 29 throughout the movie. We meet Adaline when she’s around 107 years old, who’s settled into her eternal existence, having to move every decade with a series of fake identities to prevent people from knowing who she is. The only person who knows about her condition is her only daughter (Ellen Burstyn) who looks like she could be Adaline’s grandma. Burstyn adds a lot of depth in her brief role here, but Lively holds her own against the experienced Oscar winner.

The way the story unfolds is pretty straightforward but it’s so beautifully-told with a series of flashbacks that are done pretty seamlessly. The use of VO narration can be irksome, but I don’t mind it so much here, even though it’s a bit overdone in the end.

AgeOfAdaline1

The first meet-up at a New Year’s Eve party is breathtakingly perfect. Two good looking strangers lock eyes from across the room that’s followed by a sweet flirtation in an elevator. Michiel Huisman‘s Ellis has all the qualities of a romantic hero – handsome, smart, successful and an old-school romantic, what more could you ask for? Surely Game of Thrones‘ fans are familiar with his um, work. Huisman is Dutch but his American accent is very convincing, but most importantly, he has a great chemistry with Blake Lively and you actually root for them to be together.

I haven’t seen anything Lively is in, apart from her brief role in The Town, but I think she did a fine job carrying this film. She’s beautiful and has a phenomenal figure that make those vintage clothes look amazing. She also has that classic look about her that fit the role. Some actresses might look too modern here, but Lively also has that quiet grace about her that is so elegant and bewitching. They initially wanted Natalie Portman in the role and she would’ve been good, but I think the fact that Lively is a bit of an unlikely casting actually works well for the film. That said, I feel that she might not have the dramatic chops to pull off some of the heavy emotional moments that a more skilled actress could bring to the role.

The supporting cast are particularly notable, especially Harrison Ford as Ellis’ father and his younger self, played by Anthony Ingruber whose physical resemblance is uncanny. Even their voice sound similar. I LOVE Ford’s performance here, he doesn’t do romantic roles often but he’s got that lovelorn look down pat here.

AgeOfAdaline_supportingcast

Now, with a romance like this one, a certain degree of schmaltzy-ness is to be expected. Yet there’s a genuine sweetness and charm in this one that swept me off my feet. Yes there are moments where the dialog comes off corny and the plot is rather predictable, but nothing that would derail the film for me.

I was convinced this film was based on a novel, as so many films like this are, but it turns out it wasn’t. It’s written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz and I love the idea of lost love interwoven here in Adaline’s enchanting long life. I hadn’t heard of the director, Lee Toland Krieger, but he’s certainly got style as this film looks positively gorgeous. The costume and cinematography are so beautiful to behold, and the set pieces fit each era perfectly. The various San Francisco locations, such as the library where Adaline works, look so charming here, especially in the night scenes.

AgeOfAdaline_SF

I also like the use of music, featuring vintage and contemporary songs over the course of Adaline’s life. It just sets the mood nicely and gives you that swoony quality the film aims for. I went into this film with neutral expectations, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. In fact I love it enough where I certainly don’t mind watching it again.

4Reels


Have you seen Age of Adaline? Well, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Musings on the Han Solo spinoff & who we’d like to see as young Solo

HanSolo_Ford

So a couple of days ago when Twitter was all abuzz with news of the upcoming Han Solo spinoff movie, I was rather ho-hum about it. I’m not exactly clamoring to see this, nor the throng of other spin-offs as Disney’s milking the Star Wars franchise for all its worth. $4 Bil is really chump change considering the potential it could rake from it.

ChrisMillerPhilLordI suppose out of all the inevitable spin-offs, the Han Solo movie could be a fun action/adventure movie, that is if they get the casting right. Before I get to that, at least on paper they seem to get the directing pick right. The LEGO Movie directors Chris Miller & Phil Lord are going to be helming this, and it seems that directing duos seem to have worked well for the company [i.e. Anthony & Joe Russo w/ the excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier]. The also have a father/son duo Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan to pen the script, the former has written Star Wars Episode V and VI, as well as Raiders of the Lost Arc. According to THR, Miller was apparently an intern at Lucasfilm, and he was once asked to step into a Stormtrooper costume for one of George Lucas’ Special Edition Star Wars movies. How cool that life seems to have come full circle for him!

Now on to casting!

There have been a bazillion posts in the past couple of days and frankly, some of the choices they listed on some major sites are so preposterous. I mean Shia LaBeouf? Dave Franco? Zac Efron?? [smh] EW even suggested Ted and my worst nemesis, Jai Courtney, who’s more wooden than the Pechanga Oak Tree!

Now, I texted my pal Ted what his thoughts are on this whole project, so let’s start with that…

Ted’s thoughts

Like many Star Wars fans, Han Solo is my favorite character from the original trilogy. Personally I don’t really have the urge to see a film about Solo, even though he’s my favorite character from the franchise, I don’t know if his back story would be that interesting since he wasn’t involved with saving the universe until he met Obi-Wan and Luke years later. I’ll have an open mind and hope that the writers can come up with some good story about Solo’s past but till then count me as one of the people who don’t really have that much interest about this potential franchise for Disney.TaronEgerton2

Of course people have already about which actor should be playing young Solo, I’ve read somewhere that Aaron Paul is the favorite? Well I’m in the minority here and say that he would be an awful choice if he was cast in the role. Nothing against Aaron, he’s great in Breaking Bad and I can never see him as any character but Jesse.

I think they should go with an unknown for the role and my choice would be Taron Egerton. He’s not that well known yet and I thought he’s great in Kingsman: The Secret Service. If Disney decides to go with a better known actor then my choice would be the current golden boy Chris Pratt.


Ruth’s Thoughts

Funny that as I was driving home, I was exactly thinking that they should cast an unknown. I mean, Ford was still a carpenter when Lucas hired him to read lines for actors auditioning for parts in Star Wars! [per Wiki] Now, I’m not suggesting they cast some dolly grip or something, after all Ford did have supporting roles already by the time he was cast.

Well, the first person that came to mind was the same one that Ted suggested. We thought Taron Egerton has that mischievous, rebellious quality that fit the role of the space scoundrel. Solo is one of the great leaders of the Rebel Alliance so he should have that commanding presence but doesn’t take himself so seriously. The 26-year-old Taron is Welsh, but hey, it never stops Hollywood from casting UK actors in quintessentially American roles.

TaronEgerton1

Now, my second choice is an even more obscure actor who’s actually been in a film with Ford himself. Anthony Ingruber played the younger version of Ford’s character in The Age of Adaline and his resemblance to Ford is uncanny! I literally yelped when I first saw him in the trailer, I thought they did a ‘digital facelift’ technique or something like they did with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in X-Men 3.

AnthonyIngruberHanSolo

He’s also done amazing impressions of Solo in this video he posted back in 2008, but now seven years has passed so he’s more mature looking and hopefully has more acting experience as well. Anthony is 25 and 6-feet tall (a mere inch shorter than Ford) and if you watch the video, even his voice is so similar to Ford’s.

I hope they’d at least consider inviting this guy for an audition. I realize that good acting takes more than just the ability to do impressions of the original actor, but hey it’s a good start.

Another young actor that might fit the part is Ansel Elgort whom I’ve met when he was promoting Divergent. He’s only 21 though, so a little on the young side, but he’s got quite a swagger and ‘old soul’ quality about him even when two years ago. He’s a NYC native, VERY tall (6’4″) with a rather deep voice. He’s quite popular with the teen crowd I reckon, thanks to The Fault in Our Stars, and I think he’s a decent actor.

AnselElgortHanSolo2

Another name that keep getting a mention every time there’s a reboot of one of Ford’s many lucrative franchises is Chris Pratt. Now, I think he’s practically already playing a Han-Solo type role in The Guardians of the Galaxy, I’d rather see him as Indiana Jones.

The project is now set for a May 25, 2018 release, so we’ll probably be hearing casting news in the next few months.

 


So let the casting discussion commence… who would YOU like to see cast as Han Solo?

Thursday Movie Picks #42: All in the Family Edition – Father-Daughter Relationships (Biologically Related)

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today the theme is… 

Father/Daughter Relationships (Biologically Related)

I actually don’t really have much experience or memories of father/daughter relationship, as my dad was never really part of my life after my parents split when I was three. I was raised by my late mom and strong-willed grandma, the latter was a successful businesswoman revered by her family and peers. So in a way she’s as close to a father to me given her strict rules and occasional anger outbursts that used to petrify me but now that I look back, I find it kind of endearing.

Despite not having a biological father present in my life, I certainly appreciate father/daughter relationships in movies, here are three that left a big impression to me:

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

ToKillAMockingbirdI didn’t get to see this film until my intense Gregory Peck obsession days, but it’s truly the moment when the actor became the character. Talk about a dream dad. No matter how busy he is, town attorney Atticus Finch always have time for his kids and he genuinely enjoys their company — he doesn’t see time for family as a chore.

I remember tearing up a few times as I watched Atticus interacting with his vivacious young daughter Scout (Mary Badham), displaying his affection and sharing his wisdom in the most natural way. It’s obvious that Scout needs her dad just like any young kid needs their father, but I think those moments are crucial for Atticus too, beyond just the familial bond. Being with his young daughter must’ve reminded Atticus of the purity and goodness of life amidst the darkness and brutality he faces every day in his job. I live vicariously through Scout in her moments with her beloved dad, and I certainly take his wise words to heart…

“…you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them…”

Apparently the father/daughter bond between Peck and Badham carried over beyond the film set. The two became close in real life and kept in contact for the rest of their lives, Peck always called her Scout.

Regarding Henry (1991)

RegardingHenry

People remember Harrison Ford mostly for his iconic action roles as Han Solo or Indiana Jones and granted he’s fantastic in those roles. But I absolutely love his performance in Regarding Henry, which is a wonderful story about second chances. One of my favorite moments in the film are the ones Henry spend with his young daughter Rachel (Mikki Allen).

In his *old* life prior to the event that transformed him, Henry barely had time for his family. Suffice to say he didn’t really know his one and only daughter, he’s too busy being a hot shot lawyer and having affairs with his secretary. Interesting that Henry’s also a lawyer like Atticus but clearly he’s got his priorities out of whack. But he’s given a second chance to make it right and his daughter helps him do that. I LOVE all the scenes where she teaches him the most basic things like reading, as he’s back to being a kid again, literally. Ford and Allen have a wonderful chemistry, their scenes together are endearingly funny and so full of heart.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)
PridePrejudice_FatherDaughter

Whenever one hears Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, naturally we think of Elizabeth & Darcy’s relationship. But in Joe Wright’s film adaptation, I love the depiction of Lizzie (Keira Knightley) and her dad Mr. Bennett (Donald Sutherland). Clearly she’s her father’s favorite and he understood her much better than her mother ever did.

I LOVE this quote when Lizzie’s mother insisted that she married Mr. Collins…

Mr. Bennet: Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins… And I will never see you again if you do.

The scene towards the end when Lizzy asked her father’s permission to marry Darcy is also wonderful…

Lizzy: He and I are so similar.. we’ve been so stubborn

Mr. Bennett: You really do love him don’t you?

Lizzy: Very much

Mr. Bennett: I can’t believe that anyone can deserve you.  It seems I am overruled.  So, I hardly give my consent. I could have not parted with you my Lizzy to anyone less worthy.

Veteran actor Sutherland portrayed Mr. Bennett so perfectly, with such calming wisdom and compassion. The scene of him crying is so utterly moving, once again the chemistry of the cast work beautifully here.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films?

 

Thursday Movie Picks #33: All in the Family Edition – Movies featuring Father & Son Relationship

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today the theme is… 

Father/Son Relationships (Biologically Related)

Well, for this edition, I decided to pick three movies that I didn’t include in my Father’s Day Special post. Besides, I think this post should focus on biologically-related father & son stories. So here are my three picks:

Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1989)

IndyLastCrusade_FatherSon

No doubt it’s my absolute favorite of the Indiana Jones trilogy and it’s largely because of the wonderfully entertaining father/son story. When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing whilst in pursuit of the Holy Grail, Indy set off to search for him and together they end up working together to stop the Nazis. It’s absolutely perfect casting to have Sean Connery to play the role, despite only being 12 years older than Harrison Ford. Both of them are equally charismatic and somehow have the perfect personality and quirks that make them a perfect match as father and son. All the highlights of the movie feature the two of them, usually in a state of peril or impossible predicament that they somehow manage to come escape from. I can’t think of a better chemistry between two actors and that’s what makes them so entertaining to watch. But it’s not just all fun and games, there’s some genuine dramatic moments that truly test the bond between the two of them and challenge Indy’s own personal belief.

Frequency (2000)

Frequency_CaviezelQuaid

Family bond can transcend time and space. A rare atmospheric phenomenon somehow enables a NYC firefighter to communicate with his son 30 years in the future via HAM radio. There are films that deal with time travel and the huge ramification of changing the past. The sci-fi logic might be questionable but what I love about this film is the father/son relationship that’s genuinely moving and beautifully acted. The film started off more as a drama but the third act becomes more of a thriller as the two work together to solve a murder case. Both Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel are fantastic as the father and son, there’s a palpable & heartfelt bond between them despite not sharing a screen pretty much the entire movie.

Nebraska (2013)

Nebraska_FatherSon

This black-and-white dark comedy tells the story of an senile, alcoholic man who insists on making a trip from Montana to Nebraska in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize. His estranged son ends up traveling with him as his stubborn dad simply refuse to believe that the sweepstakes letter was a shameless piece of scam. Despite their testy relationship, the journey gave them a chance to reconnect. Bruce Dern and Will Forte are both excellent in their roles, I’m especially impressed by the latter as I’ve only known him as a comedian. There are some extremely goofy scenes such as when the son tried to help his dad find his missing tooth around a railroad track, but there are some poignant moments between the two. It’s another wonderful family dramedy from Alexander Payne.

 


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films?

The Spielberg Blogathon: Reminiscing about Raiders of the Lost Ark & Jurassic Park

SpielbergBlogathon

This post is part of the SPIELBERG BLOGATHON hosted by Outspoken & Freckled, It Rains… You Get Wet, and Once Upon A Screen taking place August 23-24. Please visit these host blogs for a full list of participating blogs

TedSaydalavongBanner

When Ruth asked me to participate in the Steven Spielberg blogathon, I wasn’t sure what to write about so I figured I should do a write up about two films of his that I’ve watched many times. These two films also made me into a film fanatic and home theater enthusiast that I am today.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I was born in the Far East and the martial arts films was the only genre I’d watch, but after seeing this film I became a fan of American action films. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when I first saw this film, my family and I were living in the Philippines Islands at the time and I saw it at some old movie theater. I was too young to really understood what the film was about but the visual and of course the action pulled me in. I still remember that the film’s climatic scene gave me nightmares, I freaked out when I saw the villains’ faces melt off and they were burned alive.

But I still thought the film was magic and when my family and I arrived to the States a year later, I begged my parents to buy me a VHS copy of the film. What’s so funny was that I didn’t know there were sequels until I saw a TV spot of The Last Crusade the year we arrived in the States. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the third film on the big screen but watched it several times on VHS. Then a couple of years later I watched Temple of Doom on the old Sci-Fi Channel. I enjoyed the two sequels but to me Raiders is still the best in the series.

RaidersOftheLostArk

I’ve owned this film on many formats, first I had the VHS copy then later when I was able to afford a LaserDisc player, I bought a LD version of the film. When DVD became popular, I of course bought the DVD set then just a couple of years ago I got the Bluray set, unfortunately I had to buy the dreadful fourth film too.

Since Spielberg is a big fan of David Lean and Lawrence of Arabia is one of his favorite films, he even stated that the film’s script is the best ever written, so Raiders of the Lost Ark was his ultimate tribute to Lean’s classic film.

 

Jurassic Park

The summer of 1993 was dubbed Arnold vs. Sly since both of those action stars had two big films opening in the same summer and the so-called industry “experts” predicted that Sly’s Cliffhanger and Arnold’s Last Action Hero would dominate the box office. Of course Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was also one of the hyped up films but no one expected it would stomped both Sly’s and Arnold’s films. Sure I was excited to see new action films from Sly and Arnold but I super excited to see this film about dinosaurs. It’s one of the first films to have included full CGI effects in many scenes and it’s about dinosaurs!

Yes, like many kids back in those days, I was obsessed with dinosaurs and I’ve just finished Michael Crichton’s novel that it’s based on. I still remember to this day which theater I saw the film at on opening weekend and still remember how at awe I was after the film was over. The first time I saw the CGI dinosaurs, my jaw dropped and throughout the film, I had a smile on my face. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at the cinemas. I actually went to see the film twice on the opening weekend, around this time digital surround sound was pretty new in movie theaters so I wanted to hear the T-Rex’s roar in full digital sound over and over again. I was bummed that I couldn’t make it to the re-release on IMAX last year. With an opening weekend of over $50mil, it’s a record opening at that time. I think the summer of 1993 should’ve been called, T-Rex stomped Sly and Arnold.

JurassicParkStills

Like Raiders of the Lost Ark, I’ve owned this film on many formats. First VHS then LaserDisc and years later on DVD. Recently I bought it on Bluray but I have yet to watch it. Apparently Universal didn’t give the film a proper HD transfer so I was hesitant to buy it. Since I haven’t watched the film in a couple of years, I need to see and hear it in HD soon. This film also turned me into a home theater enthusiast, as mentioned earlier, I saw the film at a theater that has the new digital surround sound and after experiencing that, I wanted to have a home theater. Of course being a high school kid, I didn’t have the money to buy home theater products yet. But as I’ve gotten older and can earn bigger pay checks, I’ve invested some good amount of cash on home entertainment. In a way, I can thank and blame this Spielberg’s film for making me obsess with home theater.

Spielberg is one of the best filmmakers ever and these two films proved that he can make films that can please both the critics and audiences.

TedS_post


What do you think of these two films, were you lucky enough to have seen them on the big screen? Do share your memories on the comments section.

The Spielberg Blogathon: My Top 10 Favorite Spielberg-Directed Films

master-spielberg-banner-6

This post is part of the SPIELBERG BLOGATHON hosted by Outspoken & Freckled, It Rains… You Get Wet, and Once Upon A Screen taking place August 23-24. Please visit these host blogs for a full list of participating blogs

I first learned about this blogathon from my pal Michael’s blog, and having grown up watching a bunch of Spielberg’s films, naturally I have to take part! Steven Spielberg is such a legend because so many of his films are not only entertaining but they have such strong emotional resonance and timeless quality about them. For this list, I’m focusing on the 50+ films that Spielberg has directed, as there are nearly 150 projects that he has produced for both TV and film. I didn’t realize this until I made the list but the scores of ALL of the films on my top 10 are done by John Williams! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as a lot of the scores also made my top 10 scores by the legendary composer.

So here they are ranked from bottom to top so #1 is my MOST favorite😀

10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

AIArtificialIntelligence

Many great sci-fis dealing with artificial intelligence make us ponder what it means to be human, and this film definitely did so. The story about a robot boy who desires to be real and craves real love from his parents was poignant and emotional, it’s not a cold or distant type of sci-fi that’s more concerned about cool set pieces and futuristic designs. The moral dilemmas presented here are genuinely thought provoking, with compelling performances from Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law and Frances O’Connor.

9. The Terminal (2004)

TheTerminal

It’s a story about an immigrant from an Eastern European country finds himself stranded in JFK airport. Though the story takes a lot of liberty from the real thing, I was quite engrossed and entertained by this. It’s perhaps one of my favorite Tom Hanks‘ performance in an underrated but endearing role. Hanks is an immensely and effortlessly likable actor, which makes him the perfect actor to portray Viktor Navorski. Even with an exaggerated Russian-sounding accent, the actor is at his most charming here as he befriends the airport staff and even took a chance at romance. This is also the first time I saw the then-unknown Zoë Saldana as a Trekkie Immigration Officer, which is interesting as she later plays Uhura in the J.J. Abrams movie!

8. Catch Me If You Can (2005)

CatchMeIfYouCan

Leo DiCaprio at his most charming and, with his Jack Dawson looks and that devil-may-care swagger. I guess this is like Wolf of Wall Street lite as both Jordan Belfort and Frank Abagnale Jr are both charming con artists. I love the retro look and feel of the movie and the sense of fun in the chase as the FBI are on to catch the teenage fraudster. The dynamic between Frank and the federal agent played by Tom Hanks is fun to watch, they definitely play off each other well. There are also great supporting cast and cameo throughout, including Christopher Walken, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Garner. The lighter tone somehow work nicely here, with the darker moments only sprinkled throughout which showcase Frank’s vulnerability to great effect.

7. Empire of the Sun (1987)

EmpireoftheSun

I saw this one fairly recently and I wish I had seen it sooner. Even at such a young age, it’s evident that Christian Bale had the chops to carry a film. I’m usually not into war films but I do like it when it focuses more on a certain character’s life being affected by war and this one shows that from the perspective of a young boy named Jim ‘Jamie’ Graham. There is an epic quality to the production, as one would expect from Spielberg, yet it feels personal and intimate at the same time. I love the unlikely relationship between Jamie and the soldiers in the camp, particularly Basie (John Malkovich). It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story and a survival tale that certainly lingers long after the end credits.

6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

ET

I was pretty young when I saw this movie and it’s one of those movies that one simply doesn’t forget. It might’ve been one of the earliest movies about alien that I saw [well apart from Superman which came out a few years before] and perhaps cemented my love for sci-fi movies. There’s a sense of wonderment in Spielberg movies that definitely appealed to this wide-eyed kid filled with curiosity. The fact that I was the same age as Drew Barrymore‘s character when I saw this made me identify with her even more. I remember wondering what it would be like if there were such an alien creature living in my grandma’s garage. E.T. is the kind of film that fuels the imagination and of course it’s got so much heart, who didn’t at least tear up watching the bicycle scene as it flies across the full moon? It’s also one of the most iconic cinematic scenes ever.

5. Minority Report (2002)

MinorityReport

I regard this as one of my favorite sci-fi movies. I own the Blu-ray and on recent rewatch, I was amazed how this movie still holds up to this day. A lot of futuristic films often look dated even a few years after they’re released but somehow the concepts still feel fresh and modern. The whole *Precrime* notion doesn’t seem all that far-fetched now, not to mention having those annoying ads who know who we are. It’s interesting to see how some of the technology presented here have been realized, while some are still being dreamed up [wonder if we’d have flying cars by 2054? Wouldn’t that be nice?]. I find this movie immensely entertaining and intriguing, with Tom Cruise playing what he does best as a former cop on the run. Though I’ve seen this repeatedly, I’m still surprised by that twist towards the end, thanks to a great performance by Max von Sydow and Colin Farrell. Samantha Morton is also memorable here as one of the three Precogs who could predict the future.

4. Schindler’s List (1993)

SchindlersList

One of the most, if not THE most, essential holocaust film ever made, this film is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching. I’ve only seen Schindler’s List once but it’s one I shall never forget, in fact, some of the scenes are forever etched in my mind. It’s one of the most powerful displays of the best AND worst of humanity, as well as a testament how a single person can make a difference even in the most dire circumstances. There are so many indelible performances here, Liam Neeson as the hero is as iconic as Ralph Fiennes‘ villainous turn as Amon Goeth. John Williams‘ evocative, soul-piercing score makes the whole experience even more unforgettable. It’s not a hyperbole to call this one Spielberg’s masterpiece.

3. Jurassic Park (1993)

JurassicPark

I had just rewatched this recently and I was reminded by how wonderfully entertaining this is. Even the latest Godzilla still falls short as it lacks that sense of wonderment and sense of humor. Jurassic Park is such a thrilling ride from start to finish, filled with great, memorable characters courtesy of Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern. Of course those cloned dinosaurs are wildly entertaining, as terrifying as they are dazzling thanks to the special effects prowess of Stan Wilson & co. Too bad the sequels never measure up to this amazing original film.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

IndyTheLostArk

I’m still mad at Spielberg for ruining his own awesome franchise with that godawful fourth movie! I grew up watching the Indiana Jones movies with my two older brothers and to this day I’m still a huge fan of the first and third movies. Infused with fun action, special effects and a dose of good humor, it’s the quintessential action adventure that never gets old with multiple rewatches. Plus you’ve got an awesome heroine who’s equally charming & fun to watch, Karen Allen‘s Marion. The chemistry between the two is perfect, absolutely perfect. Speaking of perfection, Harrison Ford made the role of the archaeologist adventurer so iconic. It’s crazy to think that George Lucas wasn’t keen on casting him initially [Tom Selleck was the first choice], I really can’t imagine anyone topping Ford as Indy in the inevitable remakes.

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

IndyTheLastCrusade

This is one of my favorite movies of all time, not just from Spielberg but of ALL movies I’ve seen in my life. There are just so much to love here, even more so than the first one thanks to the inspired casting of Sean Connery as Indy’s father, Dr. Henry Jones Sr. They’ve become my favorite cinematic duo ever, apparently there was an inside joke to say that James Bond is the father of Indiana Jones, ha! There are quite a few actors here who’ve been in various Bond movies: John Rhys-Davies, Alison Doody & Julian Glover, they’re all great in their respective roles. This movie has everything I loved about the first movie, but on top of the sense of humor and rousing adventure, we’ve got that spiritual aspect going for it that fits perfectly with the familial theme of the film. That whole finale in the mysterious Holy Grail is so wonderfully-filmed and leaves a lasting impression for years to come.

 


HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

1975 Jaws
2005 Munich
2005 War of the Worlds
2011 The Adventures of Tintin
2011 War Horse

Well that’s my top 10 faves from Spielberg. Which movie(s) would be on YOUR top 10 list?

The Flix List: Five Movies Suffering From Identity Crisis

MoviesIdentityCrisis

Many filmmakers tried to mix several genres in one film, sometime it works nicely, i.e. Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is a superhero movie mixed with Cold War-era espionage intrigue. But most of the time, it turns out to be a disaster. Just look at Cowboys & Aliens, mixing Sci-fi with Westerns sounds like a crazy idea, but maybe it’s crazy enough that it could work. Alas, it turned out to be a bomb for Universal, as it barely made close to its $163 mil budget domestically.

So Ted comes up with five other films suffering from identity crisis which are also box office duds:

TedSaydalavongBanner

The Lone Ranger

LoneRanger

This box office dud tried to be too many things and in the end it just didn’t work. The film sort of reminded me of some of Buster Keator or Charlie Chaplin films from the 30s but then it also tried to be this serious western action/adventure of the 60s and 70s. I understand what Johnny Depp and the filmmakers were trying to do, but I think they should’ve picked a genre and stuck with it. Despite so many bad reviews it received last summer, I still thought it was an entertaining flick (check out my review) and I think it might have a cult following the years to come.

Tears of the Sun

TearsOftheSun

Antione Fuqua tends to mix genres in his films and this one was a good example of how NOT to do it. Originally the script was written as a Die Hard sequel but then things didn’t work out and Willis decided he wanted to make it a separate film. He even persuaded the studio executives to hire Fuqua to direct the film. Well, Willis ended up regretting that decision. When Fuqua took over the project, he decided to make it more into political drama instead of just straight up action/adventure. Apparently both Willis and Fuqua argued with one another during the entire shoot and vowed to never work with each other again. By combining real life tragedies and over-the-top action sequences, the film just didn’t work and when it opened in March of 2003, it failed miserably. The film only earned about $40mil at the box office and it cost around $70-90mil to produce, ouch!

The Devil’s Own

DevilsOwn

This big budgeted action/drama was plagued with behind-the-scenes drama. It seems Brad Pitt loves to be involved with films that has troubled production, (the infamous World War Z behind the scene issues and the ongoing arguments on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith), in this film the dramas involved Pitt and Harrison Ford. Both stars wanted the film to focus on their character, apparently Pitt was pissed when studio hired Ford to be in the film.

In the original script, Pitt’s character was the main focus and Ford’s character was just a supporting role. But when Ford read the script and demanded that he gets the cop part, the studio executives were more than happy to hire him, this was when Ford was still a box office champ, he had just starred in The Fugitive, Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games, all were box office hits. There were reports that Pitt wanted to leave the production of the film because he thought the film was going downhill fast after several rewrites. He even bad mouthed the film in an interview with Newsweek magazine, calling it “the most irresponsible bit of film-making.” He was unhappy with how the script has changed so much from the one he fell in love with, it was originally a dark and brutal drama thriller but then it switched into more of an action/thriller. And that was the problem with the film, it couldn’t decide if it wants to be drama or action, and it failed by combining both. The film reportedly cost $90-100mil to make and it only made about $40mil back.

Hancock

Hancock

Well this film actually was a huge hit when it came out but I thought it didn’t work at all, I actually named it one of the worst films from 2008. The original script was a much darker story about a superhero who hates saving the world and Michael Mann was attached to direct it in early 2000s. But with several rewrites and delays, Mann gave the job to his protégé Peter Berg. Berg wanted to make it close to the original script but pressures from studio heads forced him to make it into a mixed of light comedy and action/adventure but also with some dark moments. Seriously the tone of this film was so uneven, I wanted to walk out of the theater. I think this was a huge missed opportunity to make a film about a “real” superhero living in our society and sick of saving idiotic people but again it’s all about making money for studios so what they made was a crappy wannabe film.

Random Hearts

RandomHearts

This film maybe the prime example of how not to mix several genres into one film, was this film supposed to be police drama thriller, mystery suspense or romantic drama? What’s so surprising was that the film was directed by Sydney Pollack, who was considered one of the good directors at the time. The behind-the-scene drama was more well known than the actual film, apparently Pollack and his leading man Harrison Ford constantly argued during the production of the film. It got so bad that they stopped talking to one another and vowed to never work with each other again. It’s kind of funny because while making Sabrina together a few years prior, they were good buddies. The film opened in the fall of 1999 with little fanfare and the studio hardly promoted it, probably because they saw it and decided it was a turkey and didn’t want to spend any money on promotions.


TedS_post


Have you seen any of these? If so what do you think? Feel free to list of other films you think suffer from an identity crisis.

Music Break: 1995 Sabrina’s Soundtrack

sabrina1995posterI just realized I haven’t done a Music Break since last November! Well I’m feeling rather melancholy tonight so I watched a little bit of the 1995 version of Sabrina. I adore this movie… it’s just sooo enchanting. It’s a modern-day Cinderella story of sort. Sabrina Fairchild, the chauffeur of the billionaire Larrabee family, is a bit of an ugly duckling whose sudden transformation into a beautiful woman end up standing in the way of a Billion dollar deal.

Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear are not what one would expect as the Larrabee brothers but both worked well here. Julia Ormond is lovely as Sabrina… gorgeous but vulnerable. People who love the original probably scoff that Ormond & Ford are no [Audrey] Hepburn & [Humphrey] Bogart, I think it’s a bit unfair. I thought Ford is perfect as the workaholic, a bit curmudgeon Linus who unexpectedly falls for the carefree Sabrina. And Kinnear is surprisingly charming and affable as the billionaire playboy David. They made those roles their own and they suit the time and era they’re in. Truth be told, after seeing the original, I actually enjoy this remake better [sorry Michael!]

I never get tired of this movie… Sydney Pollack‘s direction mixes drama and comedy deftly and boy does he have an eye for scenery. This movie is just gorgeous to look at, everything from the Larrabee estates to the streets of Paris where Sabrina took her long walks are exquisite shot.

But even more beautiful that the scenery is John Williams’ music. This theme song is one of my favorites from his extensive collection, definitely made my top ten scores from this genius composer. It’s so elegant, lush, mesmerizing… and also heartbreaking.

I love Sting’s voice and it works surprisingly well for Moonlight. I listen to this track often… it never fails to sweep me off my feet. Linus tells Sabrina “It’s as though a lovely breeze has swept through this whole house” And the song has that same quality to me… it’s just mesmerizing and the melody has such a timeless feel to it.

There is another song called How Can I Remember sung by Michael Dees that is lovely as well, and I love the moment La Vie en Rose was played as Sabrina recites the quote from Gertrude Stein “America is my country, and Paris is my home town.”

Williams composed this soundtrack two years after Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, two other favorites from his work. It’s amazing how he could make one iconic score after another. Even hearing just a couple of notes you instantly know what that music is and it’d take me back to that specific movie.

Sabrina was nominated for Best Original Music and Best Original Song (Moonlight) at the Oscars in 1995, but neither one won.


Hope you enjoyed the soundtrack. What’s your favorite score by John Williams?