FlixChatter Review: Blinded By The Light (2019)

When American rock star Bruce Springsteen wrote the lyrics to his song Blinded by the Light, as a part of his 1973 debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., Springsteen probably didn’t think that his lyrics would be inspiration for a British teenager of Pakistani descent, growing up as an immigrant in 1987 Britain controlled by Margaret Thatcher’ ruling Conservative Party. Yet, this is precisely what happens to Javed (Viveik Kalra) as he is growing up in Luton, England, amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the later 198o’s Britain. Javed has a very traditional family, with his strict, blue collar father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), his stay-at-home-but-working mother Noor (Meera Ganatra), and his two older sisters Shazia and Yasmeen (Nikita Mehta and Tara Divina).

Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and co-written by Sarfraz Manzoor, who’s critically acclaimed personal memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll details Javed’s struggles of writing poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditional father. But Javed feels too ashamed to share his poetry with anyone, including his amiable teacher Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell), until his friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) introduces him to the music of The Boss – the one and only Bruce Springsteen! The lyrics have a profound effect on Javed, as he consistently quotes Bruce’s lyrics, with his other friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman) who is not quite as impressed with Springsteen’s music as Javed. He doesn’t only find solitude and release from the stresses of daily life listening to The Boss, but also the confidence to fight for the things he previously didn’t believe were worth fighting for. Example: Javed has a fight with his activist girlfriend Eliza (Nell Williams) but learning to control his own emotions so he doesn’t let it be a justification to become selfish, Javed wins back Eliza, who’s always been in his corner.

Viveik Kalra does a wonderful job making you believe that Javed is hearing Bruce Springsteen’s music for the first time, and you feel immediately drawn to his character. He then masterfully articulates just how it is affecting him and his trajectory in life. His tearfully delivered speech towards the end of the film, with his parents watching with tears of their own, is one of highest points of emotion for Javed, his family and the viewing audience alike. He embodies a person who is very easy to root for, despite his faults, sometimes minor, other times much larger (i.e. running away from home and disrespecting his father).

Blinded by the Light is also very true to the way people in 1987 Britain were living under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. There were very few jobs to be had and some naturally born Brits were less than welcoming to other minorities who had immigrated to Britain, especially those who were of Muslim faith and came from Pakistan. Javed’s father loses his job at a car factory in Luton, and this mother is left to do double to in home work, just to support the family. There is also tension between Javed and his father when he tells Javed that he must get a job (and stop listening to the music of Bruce Springsteen, whom he believes to be Jewish (probably because of the last name).

Overall, Blinded by the Light takes the music and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen to a whole new country and it’s embraced by the next generation of young people who can resonate with it. Especially for Javed and Roops, who pops Javed’s “Bruce cherry”, they feel empowered by the music and lyrics enough to confront a group of white nationalist teenagers at a restaurant by quoting one of Springsteen’s words (in this case it was lyrics from the song Badlands). The culmination of Javed’s efforts come to be when he delivers that speech (referenced earlier) to his classmates and his family. He tells them; “My hope is to build a bridge to my ambitions but not a wall between me and my family.” We also get the pleasure of seeing Javed and Roops take a trip to America – specifically to Asbury Park, Long Branch and other part of New Jersey. The pleasure seen in their eyes is clear and the joy the experience during this trip makes everything that they’ve fought to overcome worth it in the end.


Have you seen Blinded by the Light? Well, what did you think? 

Musings on TV Series Recently Watched: Howards End + Call My Agent! (Dix Pour Cent)

Ok so before we close out the month, I thought I do another quick review/commentary of some shows I’ve been enjoying. As most of us in the Upper Midwest are forced to hibernate thanks to the darn Polar Vortex, well, here are shows well worth binging on. Yes I’m well aware most of the shows I’ve been watching are European shows… as you know I’m a self-proclaimed Anglophile, and at times Francophile 😉

HOWARDS END

If you read my blog, you’d also know there are few period dramas I do not like, esp. those set in Britain! But believe it or not, I actually have not seen the film version of Howards End, despite my longtime love & admiration for Emma Thompson.

Howards End examines “the changing landscape of social and class divisions in turn-of-the-century England through the prism of three families: the intellectual and idealistic Schlegels, the wealthy Wilcoxes from the world of business and the working-class Basts.”

Well in a way that is a good thing as I’m largely unfamiliar about the story, based on the much-revered book by E. M. Forster. What intrigues me about this series was that it’s adapted by American writer/playwright Kenneth Lonergan and one of my all time fave British actress Hayley Atwell.

Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen

Besides Atwell, the film is boasted by a strong cast of Philippa Coulthard, Matthew Macfadyen & Tracey Ullman. Julia Ormond also has a small but important role as Ruth Wilcox, a conventional woman who’s the matriarch of the Wilcox family. I love that the story is encompasses SO many social themes and is so expertly-written that almost every dialog is captivating. I am constantly in awe of Atwell as I’m watching this, and Hettie MacDonald‘s direction of Lonergan’s story structure is simply marvelous. People who love constant action on a show/film might argue that few things happen in this movie, but for me, I appreciate the intricate layers of complexity the key characters face. The sharp contrast between Atwell’s Margaret Schlegel and Macfadyen’s Henry Wilcox is palpable and often frustrating to watch,  but the character transformation/redemption in the end is quite heart-wrenching.

Philippa Coulthard & Hayley Atwell as the Schlegel sisters

If I had to nitpick however, I’m not too fond of Joe Bannister as Charles Wilcox. Yes I know the character is supposed to be unsympathetic but must the actor also be utterly loathsome to watch? I’d also like to see a stronger actor than Joseph Quinn as Leonard Bast, overall he’s not memorable given how crucial his role is.

Overall I think the cast is really strong however, esp. the mesmerizing Hayley Atwell. As much as I’m a big fan of romantic period dramas, I also appreciate the fact that they downplay the romance here. Instead it’s more of a character study and astute commentary of social themes of the time (beginning of the 20th century), which deals with women’s emancipation as well as economic prejudices, etc. that are still relatable to today’s climate. I also appreciate the ‘color blind casting’ as they employed actors of color in traditionally white roles. Overall it’s a gorgeous miniseries that’s well-written and beautifully-filmed. In fact I don’t even mind rewatching it at some point as I might’ve missed some of the nuances of this complex story.


Call My Agent! (Dix Pour Cent)

Dix pour cent plunges us into the intense and madcap world of talent agents as we meet four colleagues who struggle to save their agency’s reputation after its founder’s death. With humor and wit, the agency partners juggle their chaotic personal lives with the needs of the demanding celebrities they represent.

I couldn’t find a trailer with English subtitles but you should get the gist. The Netflix show has subtitles of course.

I started watching this show late last year and we immediately binged on two seasons within a week. A feast of cameos, esp. if you enjoy French cinema. But even if you aren’t you’d likely recognize big names like Monica Belluci, Isabelle Adjani and Jean Dujardin, Oscar-winner for The Artist.

Super agent Gabriel and his client miss Belluci

The cameos are fun as they’re basically playing themselves, but even without them, the show itself is well worth a watch. The show is apparently produced by former agent-to-the-stars Dominique Besnehard so he’s got the insider knowledge of what it takes to manage the careers of some of the top French talents/filmmakers. The lives of these agents at ASK here seem ‘stranger than fiction,’ probably more over-the-top and hysterical than the movies their clients star in. Some of the storylines may seem absurd, well some are inherently absurd, i.e. the constantly-overbooked Isabelle Hupert. But many actually have genuine intrigue and emotional resonance. A method actor who can’t escape a role as a woodsman, an older actress fighting a director set on filming her nude, a wanna-be agent maneuvering his career and his desire to be loved… and perhaps the most dramatic of all, a pregnant agent trying to comfort her lover as their daughter’s biological dad want more control. There’s even a childbirth scene right in the office!

Never a boring day at the ASK office

Even from season 1, I have come to adore the main characters. We get to know them more in season 3 and it’s tough to pick a favorite. I’m always amused by the shenanigans of super-agents Andréa Martel (Camille Cottin) and Mathias Barneville (Thibault de Montalembert), but I really feel for the plight of Gabriel Sarda (Grégory Montel) and Mathias’ daughter Camille Valentini (Fanny Sidney) who’s getting a hang on becoming an agent. Arlette Azémar (Liliane Rovère) continues to surprise me, and hunky-boss-from-hell Hicham (Assaad Bouab) is perhaps not as bad as we think. This season, there’s also more drama involving the agents’ assistants Hervé (Nicolas Maury) and Noémie (Laure Calamy) who are just as neurotic as their bosses.

The assistants’ lives are just as complex as their bosses!

All of this drama, humor and bizarre scenarios are fun escapist stuff. At times it made me think how fun would it be to be agents to the stars, but they practically have no personal life as they’re on call 24/7 and these stars can be such babies! The setting is mostly in Paris which means the setting and fashion alone is fun to watch. This is such an addictive show that I hope there’ll be season 4 and more in the future!


Have you seen either one of these shows? I’d love to hear what you think!

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Spin-Off Blogathon: 5 minor/supporting characters I want to see a spin-off on

SpinOffBlogathon

Thanks to Margaret aka Lady Sati over at Cinematic Corner for this awesome blogathon idea. Here’s the gist:

Choose a [supporting] character (Movie or TV) that you love and would like to see as a leading character in the movie and write why you chose this character and what that movie would be like. Don’t choose leading characters or supporting characters with lots of screen time, the goal is to focus on minor characters who have between 1-5 scenes. However if you really loved a character who is on screen for more than that, go for it.

Now, there are a bunch of memorable minor movie characters that I can list here, but not all of them I want to see an entire movie on. But these five minor/supporting characters are so fascinating, in some cases even more so than the hero, that I’d be willing to pay a movie solely focused on them! I originally had only three characters in mind but I just couldn’t resist adding the last two (plus a BONUS TV character). So without further ado, here they are:

Tom Bertram (James Purefoy) in Mansfield Park

Tom is the elder son and heir of the wealthy landowner Sir Thomas Bertram who took in the story’s protagonist Fanny Price to live in Mansfield Park. He’s shown in his brief scene as a drunken and careless man who has no regard for Fanny nor to his father. He’s often away in Antigua on his family’s estate and he obviously despises his father’s business that involves slavery, but the strain seems to be deeper than that. The way Purefoy plays him is so intriguing that every time I saw this Austen adaptation, I wanted to know more about Tom and why he behaves the way he does. He’s dark, mysterious, with a seething rage that could explode at any moment. Certainly he’s a sexier and more riveting persona than the principled but dull brother Edmund.

TomBertram

I’d love to see a movie, or even a TV miniseries that focuses on his character. It’d be an extension (with some artistic liberties taken) of what’s written about him in the book, recounting his younger days being taken to Antigua by his father, and his days of living an extravagant life amusing himself. In the book, it’s described that Mary Crawford, who with his brother lives in the Bertram’s parsonage was initially interested in Tom but he does not response, so I’d like to see that being explored in the film as to why he refuses her. The risque Lovers’ Vow play would definitely be one of the movie’s highlights.

It’s too bad that in Mansfield Park, Tom’s spent half his already brief screen time bedridden from his illness. He does recover eventually and later on, Fanny’s younger sister Susan comes to live with the Bertram family also. Though it’s not in the book, it’d be nice to see that perhaps Tom would finally find love with Susan.


Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in Captain America: The First Avenger

There are barely any cinematic super-heroine in Hollywood, and I don’t mean the bad ass but cheesy warrior variety like Elektra (no offense Jennifer Gardner!). From the first time I saw Captain America, I’ve got a girl crush on Peggy Carter. She is by far my favorite Marvel female character, yes she even beats Black Widow and Lady Sif! Atwell’s performance is one of the major reasons I LOVE LOVE Captain America: The First Avenger as she’s just as fun to watch as the Captain himself. She’s beautiful, witty, and spunky. She’s no damsel in distress, no siree. She’s a trained fighter who’s more than capable to hold her own. She’s a damn good shot too, as evident in the action scene with the villain Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage, who gets another mention below) 😉

PeggyCarter

There’s a Marvel One Shot of Agent Carter which I have yet to see except for a couple of clips. Apparently the short film takes place a year after the events of The First Avenger, and features Carter as a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve and dealing with the sexism of that era. Now I’d even pay to see a film version of Agent Carter. It could include with some flashback scenes of her younger years as in the comics she apparently joined the French Resistance as a teen, which was how she became a skilled gun-woman.


Col. Brandon (Alan Rickman) in Sense & Sensibility

This should come as no surprise to anyone given how much I adore Alan Rickman‘s portrayal of Colonel Brandon. He’s one my picks of Favorite Period Drama Heroes and he’s easily my favorite male character in Jane Austen’s adaptations, yes he even beats every woman’s favorite Mr. Darcy any day. He’s a far more interesting character because he has been through a lot before we’ve come to know him as a wealthy officer at 35. He’s a sensitive man, a tortured soul perhaps (oh how I love these types of characters), who’s lost his love when he returned from the army and found that the woman he loves was with child and living in a poorhouse.

His entrance in Sense & Sensibility is one of the most memorable and emotionally-charged for me… Brandon’s expression as he was transfixed by Marianne is palpable. It’s got to make you wonder, is it simply just love at first sight? It can’t just be Marianne’s beauty and beautiful voice that captured him so, there’s gotta be something deeper than that. Later on we learned that Marianne reminded him of his lost love of his youth, his father’s ward whom he was prevented from marrying. Every time I watched this film, I’d so want to see more of Brandon’s early life.

Thank you Tumblr!
Thank you Tumblr!

I’ve been wanting to pick up Amanda Grange’s book Colonel Brandon’s Diary which is part of her Jane Austen retelling adaptations. I did read the Captain Wentworth’s Diary one, now I’d pay to see that one too, but I think Colonel Brandon’s dark past would make an even more riveting period drama. Now the challenge is to cast an actor even half as charismatic as Rickman, but perhaps Tom Hiddleston or Richard Armitage would be more than up for the task? The latter has never done an Austen adaptation, that is a travesty!


Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale

As a massive Bond fan ever since I was a wee girl, never have I been so fascinated by the Bond girl until I saw Vesper in Casino Royale. Like Agent Carter, Vesper is no damsel in distress, and she has quite a mysterious past that rivals our favorite super spy. She’s obviously an intelligent woman, having been trusted by MI6 to oversee Bond in his high-stake gamble with Le Chiffre. “I’m the money,” she says, and the banter between her & Bond is no doubt one of the most riveting scenes in the movie, one I still love to watch over and over.

I’d love to see a movie on her where we get to see how she became a double agent for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and her former lover who gave her that Algerian love knot necklace that Bond tracked down in Quantum of Solace. I think the film would only work with Eva Green in the role though. She’s obviously extremely sexy and can make an entrance like no other (that purple dress is an utter knockout), but I think her sensuality and mystique is what made the character so beguiling. There’s something so unpredictable behind those piercing green eyes, and an icy quality about them. The scene where she professes her love for Bond is beautiful but with a tinge of mystery and even suspense as we’re not sure what she’s capable of.

VesperLynd

According to Wiki, in the Casino Royale novel, she was born on a “dark and stormy” night, and her parents named her “Vesper” after the Latin word meaning evening to commemorate the night. Fleming created a cocktail recipe in the novel that Bond names after her. The “Vesper martini” became very popular after the novel’s publication, and gave rise to the famous “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase immortalized in the Bond films.

It’d be cool to see Eva Green reprising her role in a prequel spin-off of Vesper, I think she’s the only Bond girl deserving of her own movie!


John Rolfe (Christian Bale) in The New World

I’ve mentioned Christian Bale‘s role as John Rolfe many times in my blog already, most recently in this Breaking Emotion post. Bale only appeared in the last 25 min or so of the 2.5 hours Terrence Malick’s retelling of the Pocahontas story, yet he’s far more fascinating than Colin Farrell in the lead role John Smith. In fact, I’d buy this film just to see him here. His chemistry with Q’orianka Kilcher is so sweet, it’s perhaps one of the most romantic roles Bale’s done, which is already so rare to begin with.

JohnRolfe

Now, the story of John Rolfe, an early English settlers of North America might not be as passionate or intriguing as John Smith’s, but Bale portrayal made me want to see more of Rolfe character. Perhaps the film can show his days as a tobacco businessman in Jamestown, Virginia and more details on his meeting and romance with Pocahontas, as well as his life after her death.


Special TV Dream Spin-Off

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) in BBC Robin Hood

What’s more riveting than a great hero? A great antihero. And every time I saw BBC Robin Hood, I always think ‘with villains like this, who needs a hero?!’ No offense to Jonas Armstrong as the titular hero but really he’s just meh next to Richard’s undeniable charisma and sex appeal. The guy just oozes virile masculinity and pent-up passion [wowza!] Clad in form-fitting black leather from head to toe, he’s the epitome of tall, dark and dangerous, even his hair is jet black to match his dark past and personality.


GuyOfGisborneRA

But instead of making him a straight-out villain, what’s more intriguing about Guy is the complexity of his character, he’s not just evil for the sake of it, but there’s a vulnerability to him, especially in regards to his unrequited love for Marian, once the hope to his redemption. Again there’s that tortured soul quality that I can’t resist!

I love how Richard explains his character in this behind-the-scene clip. “If he can’t be good and be popular, be bad…” YES please 😉

If they were to do a Guy-centric series or even a miniseries on, I’d have a different girl than Lucy Griffiths though, I’m not terribly fond of her. Holliday Grainger in Season 3 is quite good however, I’d love to see more of their relationship being explored in Guy’s life. But of course I’d ONLY see a Guy of Gisborne movie/series IF Richard Armitage plays him. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone else in the role who could top his portrayal.


What do you think of my picks, folks? Would you watch a movie dedicated to these characters?

Indie Review: I, ANNA starring Charlotte Rampling & Gabriel Byrne

IAnnaPoster

I must say that the main draw for me to this film is are the pairing of Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne. As it turns out, the casting remains to be the strongest thing about this film from newbie director Barnaby Southcombe, who happens to be Rampling’s own son.

The film opens with the protagonist Anna, a beautiful but lonely divorcee living with her daughter and granddaughter, on yet another singles night event. There’s a humorous exchange in the ladies room between Anna and an older lady who happens to be Honor Blackman (a.k.a. Bond’s Pussy Galore!) We later learn that her daughter has been encouraging her to get out there and meet someone new. The two seems to have a friendly relationship but at the same time there’s a certain distance I can’t put my finger on, but then again, Anna is such a mysterious figure and continues to be as the film progressed.

Her story is interwoven with a pending murder case, which is where Detective Bernie Reid (Byrne) comes in. Reid is an insomniac dealing with his own relationship problems, in fact he’s living in a hotel since his marital separation. So when the two lost souls meet, it seems inevitable that they’d somehow connect later on. They meet by chance, in the elevator of the building where the murder case happens, and for a while, it seems nothing more than a coincidence. Or is it?

IAnna_Pics

As a slow-burn mystery, the film does work in keeping us in suspense, or at least in a state of curiosity, as the truth of what’s happening is slowly revealed in a series of hazy vignettes. At times the film plays like a procedural TV episode with the cops getting a lead on the suspects, etc. though the notion that ‘things are not what it seems’ plays out in a rather predictable way.

As I said before, the strength of this film is in the performances. Rampling and Byrne both brought their A-game to this film. Byrne is appropriately grizzled as a jaded detective who’s clearly smitten by this mysterious woman. It’s always a delight to watch the talented Irish thespian on screen, though this isn’t his best role by any stretch. The star of the film is definitely Rampling—who was 66 when she made this film. She still looks perfectly believable as a femme fatale, her steely gaze and seductive smile are contrasted by a palpable vulnerability. She carries the role with absolute conviction right down to the emotional finale. Though I never quite warmed up to Anna, she was certainly captivating to watch. Hayley Atwell is completely wasted as Rampling’s daughter, however. It’s a shame that she wasn’t given hardly anything to do here, and neither was Eddie Marsan as another detective working on the case.

Sometimes a certain expectations can greatly affect how we feel about a film and this is one of those occasions. The plot synopsis that reads like this “A noir thriller told from the point of view of a femme fatale, who falls for the detective in charge of a murder case.” Boy, that just sounds so juicy, and yes the film seems to have the elements of a noir, right down to the classic trench coat of the protagonist. I also appreciate the fact that a mature woman, and not just some pretty young thing, is at the center of the story. Alas, the idea of this film ends up being far more riveting than the film itself.

Though I didn’t know that this was Southcombe’s feature film debut, I kind of sense that from the way this film was directed. The pacing was much too slow for my liking and whilst the atmospheric cinematography style was intriguing at first, I felt like it was overdone, perhaps to cover up its thin plot. I suppose it’s still worth a watch if you’re a fan of the noir genre, I just wish it could’ve been a lot more compelling given the cast involved.


3 out of 5 reels


Have you seen this one yet? Well, what did you think?

A Trio of Casting News I’m Excited About: Viola Davis + Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Lee Pace

Now, if only the three of them would actually be starring in ONE film, that’d be an even more spectacular casting news. But hey, I’m just glad that those three are getting more prominent roles and I’m particularly excited about Viola’s news because it involves one of my favorite directors!

Viola Davis & Chris Hemsworth – Michael Mann’s untitled Cyber Thriller

DavisHemsworth_Casting

Now, the concept of the film itself sounds intriguing and it’s something right up Mr. Mann’s alley. He hasn’t done a feature film since Public Enemies back in 2009. That film was sadly quite disappointing, but I still very much regard him as one of my favorite directors. I’ve seen seven out of ten of his feature films, with Heat, The Last of the Mohicans and The Insider being my all time favorites.

According to the Playlist, the film “…will follow a Balkan hacker operating out of South Asia who has an American and Chinese task force on his tail.” Sounds intriguing and with this cast and filmmaker, I’m so game! Not sure which role Chris Hemsworth will play, but I’ve been reading that the Oscar nominee Viola Davis might play an FBI agent. I do hope she’s got the lead role instead of just a supporting character, she’s certainly a charismatic actress with a chameleon-ability to play just about any kind of roles. The hot and in demand Aussie Hemsworth is always watchable in my book, so yeah, I’ll be keeping an eye on this project!


Now, I didn’t mean this to be a THOR reunion of some kind, ahah, but Hemsworth brotherly nemesis in that film is equally in demand. Btw, check out the latest Thor: The Dark World trailer on Tim’s blog.

Tom Hiddleston in The Crow and Robert Capa biopic?

Hiddleston_TheCrow

Looks like Mr. Hiddleston might be clad in skinny leather pants once again, not that I’m complaining 😉 Truth be told, I wasn’t really paying attention to all the rumors about The Crow reboot, though I’m surprised it’s taken them so long to do so. Surely it’ll be tough to forget Brandon Lee in that role, who was tragically shot during filming, but the concept of The Crow is an intriguing one and with Hiddleston [possibly] on board, naturally I’m intrigued. I certainly would rather see him than Bradley Cooper as Eric Draven!

According to The Wrap, “Hiddleston recently had dinner with producers and sent them a makeup test that he did on his own in London. He will undergo a proper makeup test in the coming days, as the character’s appearance is important to fans of the franchise…”

Fingers crossed this will actually happen!

Hiddleston_Atwell_CapaBiopic

Now, this one sounds like a done deal and the concept is more grounded in reality. Hiddleston will play renowned war photographer Robert Capa in the pending biopic, with Paul Andrew Williams directing. Interesting that I had just seen the film by Williams, Unfinished Song. Whilst it’s not a bad film, I sure hope this one would be a lot more compelling.

I’m particularly intrigued by the romantic theme of the film, as the story will focus on Capa’s two-year romance with Spanish war photographer Gerda Taro, which will be played by Hayley Atwell. I really like this casting, Atwell certainly looks the part and no doubt the two would have a nice chemistry together. Funny enough, I actually saw Capa being portrayed on screen not too long ago (by Venezuelan actor Santiago Cabrera) in Hemingway & Gellhorn, and I remember thinking how his life deserved a biopic on his own, ahah.


Lee Pace lands the villain role in The Guardians of the Galaxy

LeePace_GuardiansGalaxyI ‘ve mentioned some casting in this film a while back in the Five for the Fifth post. On that post, I said that I’m not exactly interested in that movie yet, but if Lee Pace ends up being cast, now that’s a different story. Well, talk about dreams come true!! I know a fellow blogger who’s just as enthused about this news.

The Playlist reported that the gorgeous Oklahoma native is indeed going to play the main villain of the Marvel superhero series. Now, I still would prefer that he plays The Flash as he’s my top casting choice and he certainly has the look and personality to pull it off, but hey, just seeing him getting prominent role is always good news to me.

Of course I’m also looking forward to more screen time of him as Thranduil the last two Hobbit films: Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again. So there’s at least two movies I’ll be looking forward to from Pace, wahoo! I’m still hoping that he’d also land a real career breakthrough in the future though, I’d love to see him lead a drama or thriller as he’s definitely got screen charisma, talent AND rugged good looks like his peers Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling who’ve made it big. In fact, I’d rather see Pace ten times over than those two!!


Well, which one of these casting news intrigue you? Feel free any other recent casting news that make you jump for joy!

Five for the Fifth: End of the Year Edition

fiveforthefifth

Hello folks, welcome to the very last edition of 2012 Five for the Fifth!!

To those who’ve never missed a single FFtF post, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for making this my most popular blog series!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Well, it’s only three weeks away to 2013. I think it’s been quite a year for movies, hasn’t it? I mean we’ve got major blockbusters for super lucrative franchises – The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall AND The Hobbit all in the same year! Yes, it’s a big year for Twi-hards as well but for the rest of us, aren’t you glad the franchise is [almost] over? All together now: free at last!! 😀

Thanks to TCFF though, I’ve also got a chance to view some awesome indie movies as well, which balance things out nicely. I will do my Top 10 of 2012 at the end of the month, but I think Argo, Skyfall and The Sapphires might make my list.

So my first question is: What’s YOUR top five favorite films of the year (so far)?

……
2. Ok, 2012 is barely over and I’m already looking forward to June 14, 2013! Yep, that’s the US release date for Man of Steel. If you’re on Twitter on Monday, most likely you’ve seen it but just in case you haven’t. Behold…

ManOfSteelTeaserPoster2


‘Oooh lookie here, sexy Henry in handcuffs!!’ 😉 Ehm, sorry, now that we get that out of the way. Most people were baffled as to ‘why is Supes a villain?’ and just the general logic [or lack thereof] that you can’t technically confine Supes with all his mighty powers behind bars, that is unless the prison is made of kryptonite of course. But judging from the look of Supes’ expression, looks like it’s a voluntary decision on his part to be led by the military convoy. I kind of like the departure from tradition, in fact, Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder seems to be set on defying tradition even from the costume alone. As EMPIRE mag says, “…a little originality is good for the soul.”

So what do you think of the teaser poster, folks? Thoughts about this reboot so far?

3. It’s been a while since I blog about Rufus Sewell, one of my favorite hunky Brits. But I want to let you know on his Sundance Channel two-part miniseries Restless he’s currently starring in, along with Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon.

RestlessMovieStill

Adapted from William Boyd‘s spy novels that Boyd himself is adapting, it’s set during the early days of World War II and follows a Russian spy who tries to infiltrate the British Secret Service with the goal of influencing U.S. power brokers and swinging American public opinion in favor of fighting the Nazis.

SundanceRestless_Stills

Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery plays Ruth Gilmartin, who, in 1976, visits her mother Sally (Rampling), and is handed a diary recounting her colorful past. Turns out mom was actually born Eva Delectorskaya (Atwell), having emigrated from Russia to France. In the wake of her brother’s death in 1939, she’s recruited by British agent Lucas Romer (Sewell) to spy for the U.K. on the eve of World War II. (per Variety) Judging from the picture above, there’s likely some smoldering romance involved as well. Check out the awesome extended preview/featurette below with the ensemble cast:


The premise sounds intriguing and I like the look of this miniseries. Plus the cast is excellent! Rufus and Hayley certainly look fabulous in period costumes.

The first part of the miniseries begins this Friday at 9P E/P on the Sundance Channel. Can’t wait to see this one when it’s available to rent!

Well, what do you think of the trailer? Would you watch this one if you have the Sundance Channel?

4. Well, one of the biggest movie of 2012 has just come out in Blu-ray. Some of you might already pre-order The Dark Knight Rises and even seen it all over again a few times by now? 😀 Well I might get a copy too but not in a hurry to do so. One thing that I find amusing lately is the emergence of these Honest Trailers by the Screen Junkies (the trailers are made by Break Media digital company. You’ve likely seen their parodies of popular movies like Hunger Games, Prometheus, Avengers and my favorite of all, Twilight on YouTube. Well, Nolan’s final Batman trilogy no exception, check out their latest work below. As you probably guess, these honest trailers do have plot spoilers on them, but really, if you haven’t seen this movie by now, you probably aren’t that interested in Nolan’s Batman movies in the first place.

These guys definitely don’t pull any punches on their parody, but y’know what, it addresses a lot of the questions I had with the movie I wrote in my review. No matter though, this movie is obviously flak-proof anyway as the Blu-rays are likely going off the shelves as we speak.

How many honest trailers have you seen and which one(s) do you like best?


5. Ok, my last question is not exactly movie-related but you are free to make it so if you like. Well, I’ll be off to my two-week vacation on Friday. I don’t usually go on vacation during the holiday season but our schedule just works out that way this year. I haven’t been in any major vacation in over a year, but I’ve been blessed with a lot of memorable one in my lifetime. I think my favorite one is a tossup between the trip to Italy and the UK a few years back. I’m more of a city girl so I love exploring the enchanting cities like Rome, Florence and London that’s so full of history and full of life.

ILoveLondon

I still dream to go to Scotland, Australia and Eastern Europe (especially Prague), hopefully one of them would happen in the near future.

So my last question to you is, what’s your most memorable vacation you’ve ever had? I’d also love to hear about your dream vacation 😀



Well, that’s it for the last 2012 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. There’ll be more coming next year for sure!

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

FlixChatter Review – Captain America: The First Avenger

This review is courtesy of Ivan Maramis… a.k.a. ze blogger’s hubby 😀

When it was first announced that Captain America would be made into the big screen, I thought it was such a preposterous proposition. I know of the comic and am familiar enough to sum it up in a :30 second elevator pitch, but never really read the comics growing up. Seriously… the name, the costume — those two alone should be enough to scare sane movie-makers away from even thinking about coming up with a decent plot. And if the previous attempts are any indication, they should pretty much forget about it.Yet as initial promos/trailers were released, the movie actually looked… promising. And guess what, the final product doesn’t disappoint, either.

Here’s the plot summary taken from the official site:
Captain America: The First Avenger will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving.)
The first thing I noticed was how the movie look resembles that of the Indiana Jones series — and that’s never a bad thing. The sepia tones and the softer, muted color rendition give a stylistic retro feel to the 1940s setting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider that director Joe Johnson directed the similarly-fashioned The Rocketeer, and was also the visual supervisor for Raiders of the Lost Ark. But incorporating this retro look to a superhero genre is especially refreshing considering most major superhero comics were written in the 40s – 60s.

There is nothing extraordinary about the story, especially if you judge it just as another “superhero” movie. It’s an origin story of our protagonist evolving from a scrawny frail guy into a government-approved-steroid-injected dude. Throw in a megalomaniac villain to fist fight with, add some humor and a pinch of love interest in the mix, and you get a pretty safe (possibly bland) formula for a superhero movie. It’s a simple good vs. evil plot. And that’s not necessarily a bad approach. This is the era where politics was much more black and white than it is today, and you know you just have beat the Nazis to win the war.
Steve Rogers... the amazing transformation
Chris Evans gives a believable portrayal as an earnest guy with a pure heart who simply want to serve and protect the country. You sympathize with the character right away, in the same way that Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) discovered him to be the perfect candidate to receive the super soldier serum. But soon after Rogers got his instant body-building look, the experiment facility was burnt down by one of the Red Skull’s men (played briefly by Richard Armitage).
Realizing that Rogers is such an expensive asset to risk in a war, the government instead use him as a celebrity mascot performing in USO tours to entertain the American troops in Europe. He’s given the costume that’s pretty much an American flag wrapped around his body, with a stage name Captain America. Die hard comic fans will immediately recognize that his stage costume IS the classic Captain America suit depicted in the comic.
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Remember what I said earlier about the two things that could potentially break this movie? The name and costume were half of the major issue in bringing this character to life in a believable way. But Johnston and his team solve the problem brilliantly by making our good ole’ star spangled Cap attire originated from a campy stage show. It gives a witty nod to the comic, but it also creates a sensible transition as to how Steve Rogers get to keep his identity as the Cap, and eventually wear his stage-inspired but a more practical combat suit. He also got an improved & battle-ready shield, thanks to the brilliant inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper).
Comic fans or not, you might ask why use shield as a weapon of choice? There was a scene earlier in the movie (pre-serum) when Dr. Erskine asked Steve if he is ready to go and kill some Nazis. And Steve responded by saying, “I don’t want to kill anybody. I just don’t like bullies…” Shield is primarily a device to defend and protect, though in more than occasion it served as more than combat armor. It reinforces Steve’s genuine desire to protect the weaklings now that he’s been transformed into a super soldier.
It's not easy being red ...
Hugo Weaving brings in a solid portrayal as the Red Skull. It’s not quite the same caliber as Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning the Joker where he nearly overpowered the film, but Weaving infuses enough authority, pompousness and deranged sensibility to the character (sans the over-dramatic maniacal laugh). I was afraid that his Agent Smith voice from The Matrix would echo heavily here, but his voice actually sounds quite different and his German accent is not over the top or pretentious. Weaving is the epitome of a charismatic leader — whether playing a good guy, or in this case, a bad one.
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The rest of the cast are commendable as well. Atwell’s Peggy Carter brings in a more authoritative and no-nonsense female figure, a refreshing take when compared to the typically-expected damsel in distress. Her relationship with Steve Rogers is convincingly sweet — there’s an palpable chemistry between them yet they it doesn’t move too fast to make it corny. And I can’t ask for a better actor to play Colonel Chester Phillips than Tommy Lee Jones. He’s got the look, the grit and the sarcastic wit and his scenes offer plenty of comic relief. Sebastian Stan’s role as Bucky may be a supporting one, but it plays a critical part in shaping Steve Rogers to become the person that he is. Thus, while the performances perhaps won’t win any major award, the casts work nicely as a strong unit.
Captain America: The First Avengers may not be as mind-bending as the The Dark Knight, but it delivers a satisfying and entertaining fare in the vein of Indiana Jones. The action scenes are engaging enough even without 3D — it’s absolutely unnecessary so if you haven’t seen it, might as well save your money and see it in 2D. Be sure to stay until after the credits to see some special treats from Marvel!
Closing thoughts: The movie is patriotic without being preachy nor overly political, encouraging without being overbearing. It’s simply a good, clean entertainment with a message that the basic trait of a true hero is his or her heart.
4 out of 5 reels

Well, has any of you got a chance to see this movie? I’d love to hear what you think.