Featurette Spotlight: Les Misérables … Can’t get ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ out of my head!

One thing for sure, there won’t be a lack of awesome films this December. There are a few I’m giddily anticipating, Gerry Butler’s soccer comedy Playing for Keeps and of course, The Hobbit!! I’m not posting the second trailer as right now I’m already sold on it long ago anyway, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s on Terrence’s Trailer Time Thursday post.

Now, I had been curious about Les Misérables, and the first trailer has certainly sold me. This new featurettes shows just another reason why this movie quickly shoots up to be my most-anticipated musicals ever!! It’s not enough that Tom Hooper has assembled a brilliant cast that seems to fit the roles, he’s also got this shrewd technique of having all the actors sing the songs LIVE on set! Check it out:

I LOVE this kind of featurette as you get a glimpse into the actors’ and filmmakers’ head and the challenges they face in portraying their roles. I’m a sucker for all the behind-the-scenes stuff that go on before the final piece is presented, and to me, for a story that’s already so well-know, the magic is not lost. I that high level of authenticity in the way the actors perform the song.

I could easily title this post ‘the year I’m warming up to Anne Hathaway‘ as I have been quite impressed with her lately, first with her performance in The Dark Knight Rises as Selina, and now this. Even before seeing the final film, she seemed to have worked her super hard on this film and obviously she’s got a great set of pipes for all that singing. The crucial part is the emotional resonance, as without that this film wouldn’t have made a dent. On that note, I think Anne pulled it off as I truly feel for Fantine’s well, misery. There’s something authentic about her portrayal that the words of the song I’ve heard over and over again somehow feels fresh and oh so heart-wrenching!! I’m a crier by nature but for the life of me I can’t stop my tears from falling even just hearing a few notes of this song!! I definitely will be packing a BOX of tissue going to the movies on Christmas day. I Dreamed A Dream has been stuck in my head since yesterday, and every few minutes I find myself humming it, just ask my poor husband, ahah!

Now, I realize you can’t compare the two stories but since both are costume dramas, I just want to say that Keira Knightley’s attempt to evoke her marital despair in Anna Karenina fails to elicit even the slightest pity from me.

Nothing much to say about the two main male cast: Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, both certainly have the charisma and showmanship to carry off the roles of Valjean and Javert, respectively. I can’t wait to see these two hunky Aussies to square off against each other, in tunes no less!

I’m also excited to see Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier, and Eddie Redmayne in the second movie I’ll see him in. He was quite good in My Week With Marilyn. Now, since I haven’t seen Victor Hugo’s stage adaptation before, this will be my first introduction to one of the most celebrated musicals of all time. Can’t wait!!


Are you excited for this one folks?

THIS JUST IN: ‘Les Miserables’ First Trailer

Les Misérables is one of those Broadway plays I still haven’t got around to seeing. The acclaimed musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 French novel will probably gets a surge with the release of this latest film adaptation.

This movie adaptation does seem to have a lot going for it. I mean the male cast alone will get me to the theater pronto, I do enjoy musicals and also have a thing for tragic love stories. Behold its first trailer:

Prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). Set in early 19th-century France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the June Rebellion, or the Paris Uprising of 1832.

You all know I adore The King’s Speech, which nabs director Tom Hooper his first Oscar. Will he nab another nom with a musical? Well, if we’re to judge from this trailer, it certainly looks VERY promising indeed.

I’m not a huge fan of Anne Hathaway, but I’ve got to give it to her, that girl CAN sing! Her stirring rendition of I Dreamed A Dream rivals that of … Susan Boyle? Just kidding, Anne’s self-sacrificing Fantine sounds quite heart-wrenching. They’re definitely going with the emotional appeal here with just her singing and no dialog. I’m already tearing up watching this so I better stack up on tissues when I go see it. Apparently Hooper had the actors sing the songs live on set [as you can see in this video], which explains that high level of authenticity in the way the actors perform the song.

Props for these good looking actors on going the *ugly* route for the roles they play. I mean it’s like a bad hair day all around on the set, especially Anne and the hunky Aussie Hugh Jackman. As you’ve probably seen at the Oscars a few years back, these two can belt out a tune, all right. I’m so looking forward to seeing Jackman and fellow Aussie Russell Crowe facing off here. Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne are also part of the cast.

This movie opens the same day as The Hobbit here on December 14th. Now, of course I’ll be first in line for the LOTR prequel but I’ll definitely be checking this out on the big screen. So it’s Catwoman, Wolverine and Maximus singing together, brilliant! 😀


What say you, folks? Is this on your must-see list?

Ten Hottest Aussie Actors/Actresses

Well, by now most of you have probably seen Avatar, and judging from the search terms people used to find my — and others’ — blog, one could deduce that Sam Worthington’s celebrity has pretty much ‘arrived.’ Ever since that flick came out, roughly 99% of the search terms listed on my blog dashboard is about the Aussie actor. It’s quite amusing that a lot of them revolves around his skinny paralyzed legs and whether that’s the actual condition the actor suffers. Seriously, Avatar is a movie where out-of-this world special effects abounds to create a make-believe world and all they’re curious about is an actor’s legs?? That’s got to be the easiest SFX to create out of the whole thing.

At any rate, what I’m getting at is that Worthington is now joining a slew of great Australian actors in Hollywood. From the moment he showed up on my radar in the from of a trailer — Terminator Salvation‘s to be exact — I immediately took notice and been championing for him ever since. I guess I always have a penchant for the Brits and Aussies for as long as I can remember. Anyway, as with any list, this is simply my pick of the ten hottest actors working today from the land down under.

  1. Russell Crowe
    He’s not just the best among fellow Aussie actors, but the whole lot of them in the movie biz today. Very few actors can really disappear into any role. Even when his personal shenanigans make him a tabloid fodder, once Crowe is on screen, we watch the character he’s portraying, not the actor. Gladiator remains one of my all-time faves mostly on account of Crowe’s brilliant performance.
    ……
  2. Cate Blanchett
    Crowe’s co-star in next year’s Robin Hood is pretty much his female counterpart when it comes to acting prowess. I’ve watched Cate in the tiniest indie flicks all the way to giant blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings and she always wows me. Whether playing a passionate journalist (Charlotte Grey), English queen (Elizabeth), or a Hollywood screen queen (as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator), she consistently delivers a believable performance. She will remain my favorite actress for years to come.
    ….
  3. Sam Worthington
    Though he’s considered a newbie to American moviegoers, the actor has made a name for himself back in his native land. Per IMDb, his film with Abbie Cornish, Somersault, won a record of 13 Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards, including Best Male Actor. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m sure that accolades will continue to pour in for him in the future.
    …..
  4. Hugh Jackman
    I’m in the camp that thinks Jackman is more than the Mr. Wolverine, as Elisabeth Rappe over at Cinematical pointed out just as I’m writing this. If anything, this guy is ever so versatile, being able to pull off such a macho, bad-ass role whilst singing and dancing away on Broadway AND host the Oscar. I agree though he hasn’t been in a decent flick of late, but I definitely won’t write off this talented actor quite yet. Not even close.
    ….
  5. Naomi Watts
    She might not be as well known as her BFF Nicole Kidman, but some might say she’s the better actress. Already rated as the ‘most bankable’ by Forbes magazine (for every $1 Watts was paid, her films earned an average of $44), she’s also earned a plethora of accolades, including a Best Actress Oscar nomination. She constantly impresses me in a variety of roles, most notably in 21 Grams, King Kong and The Painted Veil.
    …..
  6. Eric Bana
    The first time I laid eyes on Mr. Bana was in the Greek swords & sandal flick Troy. As the honorable Hector, he’s definitely the saving grace of that movie, in spite of the bronzed drag that was Brad Pitt’s Achilles. He’s also the best thing in Ang Lee’s Hulk and his soulful performance totally won me over in Spielberg’s Munich. It doesn’t hurt that this guy is sooo easy on the eye. At 6’3″ he’s the quintessential talk, dark and handsome image that could very well be the inspiration of those Harlequin romance book covers.
    …..
  7. Hugo Weaving
    Known for his trade-mark deep voice (“Hello, Mr. Anderson”), the 49-year-old actor has been in two massively successful trilogy: The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings. The two movies couldn’t be more different from each other, but Weaving shone in both, a testament to his amazing versatility. Before the major Hollywood stuff, Weaving truly impressed me in this tiny indie Proof playing a blind photographer alongside a very young Russell Crowe. He also delivered an Oscar-worthy performance as a Cate Blanchett’s drug-addicted father in Little Fish.
    ……
  8. Toni Collette
    At first I thought Collette was English when I saw her in Emma (in which she practically outshone Gwyneth Paltrow), but then she managed to pull off a myriad of American roles (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine, among others). I guess the Sydney native has a knack for pulling off all kinds of accents. Not only that, she’s also quite the shape shifter by gaining 40 pounds for her role in Muriel’s Wedding and currently puts her chameleon-like performances to good use as a woman with multiple personalities in Showtimes’ The United States of Tara.
    …..
  9. Abbie Cornish
    The blond beauty proves to be more than a pretty face. Her performance in this year’s Bright Star is gaining rave reviews and she will be seen next in the fantasy action thriller Sucker Punch — billed as Alice in Wonderland with machine guns — by visionary director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen). Looks like she and former Somersault co-star Worthington are the hottest Aussie imports right now and perhaps for years to come.
    …..
  10. Guy Pearce
    I first saw Pearce in L.A. Confidential, going toe-to-toe against Russell Crowe. But it’s his performance in Christoper Nolan’s Memento that blew me away. The low-profile actor is also known for taking acting risk with his eccentric role as Andy Warhol in Factory Girl and the cannibalism-themed Ravenous.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Mel Gibson
  • Geoffrey Rush
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Simon Baker
  • Alex O’Loughlin

What do you think folks? Any one on this list that particularly stands out to you?

Hollywood Casting News: Flixchatter highlights

When I was little, every time the inevitable “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question came up, I always answered with all the tenacity a teeny girl I could muster: a screenwriter. A rather unusual reply for a wee kid barely able to scribble a decent sentence, let alone a paragraph. But come to think of it, you know what would be a fantastic job to have? Casting director! I mean, imagine how fun it’d be going to work every day looking at scripts and study the characters, and figure out who’s best fit this role or that role. Of course it’s not as easy and glamorous as it seems, and I presume it can be as stressful as any job, but how gratifying it would be when the person you hire — and fight for with all your might to get him/her cast in a certain project — ends up winning an award or become an unlikely movie star! (I always wonder how Robert Pattinson’s casting director feels with all the frenzy surrounding that previously obscure kid actor).

In any case, as such dream job is definitely out of the realm of possibility, I settle for just reading about casting updates. Here’s some of the highlights this past week:

  • Jackman the AVON MAN?
    If he's selling it, I'd definitely be an AVON customer =)

    Variety: Hugh Jackman has joined the cast of Avon Man. Now, don’t worry, it’s not exactly another super hero flick. It’s billed as a Monty Phyton-ish comedy about a group of men laid off from an auto dealership (how timely!). One of them, presumably Jackman’s character, is reluctantly recruited into becoming an Avon salesman. Although the experience is initially emasculating, he uses his charm and good looks to become a top seller and even manage to compell his buddies to join him in the makeup business in order to win a regional sales contest. I laughed so hard just reading the premise, with Jackman’s charm and showmanship, this sounds like a winner!

  • Digital Spy reported that Colin Farrell has been tipped to replace Johnny Depp as Toby Grisoni in Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited Don Quixote movie. The film, initially titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, originally started filming in October 2000, but it was abandoned after a series of on-set mishaps. I wonder if the fact that both Depp and Farrell are in Gilliam’s upcoming film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus might have something to do with the casting switch.
  • I didn’t even know they’re making this film, but apparently it was to star Penn, Benicio del Toro and Jim Carrey. What a strange threesome indeed. But Chron Entertainment reported that Jim Carrey has walked away from the Farrelly brothers’ upcoming remake of The Three Stooges. He was expected to take on the role of Curly, but according to The Boston Globe, Peter Farrelly has confirmed he is no longer involved in the project. Allegedly, Giamatti has now been confirmed to fill the role vacated by Sean Penn (???!!), who quit the film earlier this year citing personal reasons. Well, who’d have thought Penn would ever be interested in a Three Stooges movie!
  • Variety: Frank Langella will join the cast of Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, that’ll be directed by Oliver Stone. Michael Douglas will reprise his Oscar-winning Gordon Gekko role. Langella is in talks to play Lewis Zabel, an old-time broker who mentors Shia LaBeouf’s character, a young Wall Street broker. Ok, that’s my cue that I’ve got to watch the original movie soon.
  • Variety: Sam Worthington is in talks to join Charlize Theron in The Tourist, a remake of the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer that will be directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). Theron is set to play a female Interpol agent who uses an American tourist in an attempt to flush out an elusive criminal who was once her lover. Worthington is replacing Tom Cruise who dropped out of the project (yay!). Wow, whoever this Aussie actor’s agent is, he/she’s one busy bee!

Flixchatter’s Must-See Flix for the rest of ’09

The Must-See list in the order of release date:

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Who could resist that pathetic squirrel still on the hunt for his beloved acorn? I couldn’t stop laughing from the moment that thing came on the screen. There’s possible romance for this little guy as well – hilarious mayhem can’t be far behind.

Public Enemies
Depp. Bale. Michael Mann doing what he does best. The trailer looks positively awesome! Based on a true story about a charismatic bank robber set in the Depression era. It’s a wild goose chase to outgun and outwit each other. I’m so there.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
(See my post about it earlier). I’ll see this on account of Bana, and the story promises to be a gut-wrenching drama. I REALLY want to like this one, I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Avatar
Say what you will about James Cameron but he’s a moviemaking genius. A decade after Titanic, he’s back at the helm in one of the most ambitious projects to date. Set in a distant planet inhabited by a humanoid race, it’s filmed with ‘steroscopic 3D’ which basically means it mixes live-action and CGI more seamlessly. What I’ve heard so far promises this to be an epic thrill-ride. Count me in!

Sherlock Holmes
Robert Downey Jr. plays the fictional detective with Jude Law as his BFF Watson. Downey is always enjoyable to watch, and the trailer looks like fun. Sure Guy Ritchie’s done some unwatchable stuff in the past, but this very British story looks like something right up his alley.


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Honorable Mentions:
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(500) Days of Summer
We all know Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come a looooong way from his 3rd Rock From the Sun days. IHMO he’s one of the most talented young actors working today. This is an offbeat rom-com in the span of one Summer. The tagline says: “Boy Meets Girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t.” I’m hooked.

The Ugly Truth
Now, those who know me probably thinks this SHOULD have been on the main list. GB has great comedic timing and looks like he and Katie Heigl has great chemistry. But this looks an awful lot like Someone Like You (Hugh Jackman + Ashley Judd). So it depends on what the reviews say, but I’m not rushing to see this one on opening nite.

Nine
Daniel Day-Lewis in a musical by the director of Chicago? Hmmm, that I gotta see. It boast a great cast who play all the women in the protagonist’s life: Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, to name a few.

FlixChatter Review: Wolverine

I realize I should’ve put a spoiler disclaimer on this from the start. Sorry to all of you readers who haven’t seen the movie, this ‘review’ is meant as a post-viewing discussion/observation. I’ll make sure to be clear on that in the future, and enhance my flix reviewing skills!

Marvel and DC ought to thank Bryan Singer for resurrecting the comic-book flix franchise with the highly-rated X-Men: The Movie. If you’ve seen even just one of the series, it’s obvious Wolverine is the one character that sticks out. The then-unknown Aussie Hugh Jackman inherited the role from Dougray Scott who was bound to finish shooting Mission Impossible II. Lucky for Mr. Jackman (and women everywhere) that he did, as he was PERFECT as the brooding mutant with claws of steel.

The critics aren’t too keen on Wolverine, so I came in with a pretty low expectation. But guess what, I quite enjoyed it. The story pretty much centers on the relationship of half-brothers James and Victor, who’s later known as Wolverine and Sabretooth. The opening credit shows the journey of these two men across time and multiple wars, as their regenerative powers prevent them from being killed. Given Victor’s vicious temper, James had to constantly restrain him. In fact, it was his brutality that got them condemned to die by firing squad in Vietnam, but of course those bullets merely ‘tickled’ them and they’re back in jail again. That is until Stryker visited them and offered them to be part of an elite team of mutants, Team X. It’s pretty obvious Stryker had his own agenda and pretty soon, a group of mutans under his command were in Legos, Nigeria looking for a meteorite. Repulsed by the murders committed by his teammates, James leaves the group.

Wolverine emerged with new, shiny metal claws!
Wolverine emerged with new, shiny metal claws!

Six years later, James–now goes by his last name Logan–was now a lumberjack living peacefully with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox. That peace was soon threatened when Victor started killing his old teammates from Team X. Stryker found Logan and told him that someone’s been hunting down the now disbanded group. He asked for Logan’s help but he refused. Predictably, Victor came after Kayla and killed her. The hurt & furious Logan ran after Victor, but he wasn’t strong enough to defeat him. So when Stryker came to him a second time for help, he agreed. Next thing you know Logan is on the ‘island,’ Stryker got him into a very painful experiment in which a series of metal needles insert adamantium, an indestructible metal compound retrieved by Team X, into his skeleton system. Just watching him go through that makes my whole skin crawl! Apparently, even though Logan has strong regenerative powers, he still feels pain like anybody else. Just before the procedure started, he asked his dog tag to say Wolverine (natch), in reference to a story Kayla once told him. Wolverine nearly died in the procedure, but woke up just as Stryker ordered his memory to be erased. He emerged of the ‘aquarium’ with a ferocious growl (just as you saw in those ubiquitous movie promo pics), displaying his now shiny metal claws.  For a 41 year-old, Hugh’s physique is impressive, albeit too huge for my taste personally (are those humps on his shoulder??). Still, I commend his discipline and dedication to get so buff (and he’s obviously proud to show it off), he looked unbreakable even without the claws!!

Ok, back to the story, Wolvy (sorry, Wolverine is just too long) then fled the scene and Stryker ordered the dexterous marksman, Agent Zero, played by the hot-looking Korean-English actor Daniel Henney, to kill him. A chase ensued, and Wolverine got to show off his now indestructible claws. After some outlandish acrobatic scenes, he’s able to bring down the chopper with Agent Zero in it (darn, the eye candy is dead already?!). With the help of an escapee mutant named Gambit, Wolvy later returned to the island to confront Stryker. There, we learn who Silverfox really was, and what’s Stryker’s been working on in his lab. The final battle was pretty intense when Stryker prematurely released Weapon XI, who possesed several powers from the killed/captured mutants. Wolvy and Victor joined forces briefly to fight the mutant frankenstein monster. Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool character half made up Weapon X’s face, but with his blabbermouth sealed. There’s a funny quip by Wolvy, “Looks like Stryker finally found a way to shut you up.”

The end actually ties well with the first X-Men, with Professor X making an appearance to save the escaping mutants. Wolvy and Victor’s whereabouts are left a mystery, which we later learn in the X-Men trilogy that they end up on opposite sides once again.

Pretty cool movie overall, but the storyline is pretty complex for this type of film that the plot often get convoluted. It seems as if the film tries to do too much (romance, action, sci-fi, drama) that it sometimes lost focus. Despite the great cast led by Jackman and thespian Liev Schreiber, it just isn’t ‘sharp’ enough (pardon the pun) as the original X-Men. But if you’re just looking for fun thrill on a Saturday afternoon, it’s fairly entertaining.