Everybody’s Chattin + Casting News w/ Idris Elba, Jessica Chastain & Jake Gyllenhaal

EverybodysChattinJuly

Happy Thursday, everyone! The nice thing about going to a work conference on Monday & Tuesday is the week feels shorter than it is, so tomorrow is Friday already, yay!

I got to see Jason Bourne press screening last Tuesday. I enjoyed it quite a bit though I think it falls short of the excellent trilogy. I’ll review it next week but I’m still a bit giddy for THIS scene in Vegas, whoah!

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Ok how about those links!

I’ll be seeing Suicide Squad next Tuesday, and Harley Quinn is likely going to steal every scene. Check out Margaret‘s tribute for Margot Robbie‘s character.

Jordan reviewed a new Aussie Western Goldstone

Boy I had no idea this movie even existed! Allie talks about Star Wars Holiday Special as part of Christmas-In-July blogathon

Mark and Getter‘s reviewed Independence Day: Resurgence. Not surprisingly, neither was impressed with this movie though I was surprised to learn Getter actually think Liam Hemsworth was good in it

Having just seen Jason Bourne, I totally agree with Nick that the Bourne movies are equally defined by the obligatory government antagonist. Check out the five actors he’d like to see in the role.

Steven reviewed Richard Linklater’s latest Everybody Want Some!

Let’s top it off with two awesome list posts! Alex posted his top 10 films of 2016 so far, whilst Dan posted his picks of 10 favorite French rom-coms of the 21st century.


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Life must be good to be Jessica Chastain. I love her, she’s gorgeous, talented and a bit underrated. Glad to see her continue getting roles and man does she have the best male co-stars or what! Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac… just to name a few, and now Idris!!! [yes clearly I’m green w/ envy] I’d LOVE to see her co-star with my crush du jour Sam Riley one day 😛

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Per The Playlist, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is going to have his directorial debut and he’ll also write the screenplay. His film is titled Molly’s Game and Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba have been cast as the leads!

Molly’s Game is the true story of Molly Bloom (Chastain), a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally is her criminal defense lawyer (Elba), who learns that there’s much more to Molly than the tabloids lead us to believe.

I really like the sound of this! Chastain and Elba such talented actors and it’s a role that would suit them both. No talks of romance between the two but that’s actually refreshing! Though the idea of a love scene between the two sounds pretty scorching 😉 I just hope they won’t ever hide that gorgeous face of his under a ton of makeup like they did in Thor or Star Trek Beyond.

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Now this one doesn’t seem exciting on paper as I don’t really care for video game movies. But with this cast it just could be watchable. Per Variety, Jake Gyllenhaal is producing a video game adaptation based on Ubisoft’s The Division.

Set in a dystopian New York City in the aftermath of a smallpox pandemic, the player is an agent of the Strategic Homeland Division. That agent is tasked with helping to rebuild the Division’s operations in Manhattan, investigating the nature of the outbreak and combating criminal activity in its wake.

Not sure which roles Jessica Chastain will be playing. Of course it’d be neat if Jessica is the agent and Jake plays her ally, or villain? Speaking of video game movies, we have Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender out in December and Tom Hardy’s Splinter Cell out next year. It remains to be seen if any of those would actually be worth watching.


What are your thoughts about the projects and/or casting news?

FlixChatter Review: Zootopia (2016)

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Ever since Pixar’s been making movies, I always thought that their stories are superior compared to Disney in that they appeal to adults as well as children. Well, Disney’s clearly been improving year after year. Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Frozen, they all have pretty mature, thought-provoking themes with teachable moments for people of all ages. This time with Zootopia, its themes of overcoming prejudices feels as timely as ever, whilst still being an enjoyable ride from start to finish.

It starts out typical enough for a Disney movie. A smart and ambitious rabbit named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) dreams of becoming a police officer despite the fact that no bunnies ever did. Even her own parents didn’t initially believe she’s got what it takes and encourage her to follow her family tradition and be a carrot farmer in rural Bunnyburrow. Thankfully, Judy’s resolute enough to defy them and against all odds she does become a police officer. She’s an instantly likable character and right away I was invested in her journey.

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The story pretty much begins on the first day Judy’s as an officer in Zootopia, a city filled with anthropomorphic animals. Though she’s relegated to parking duty by Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), somehow she ends up solving a crime. That leads to yet another mission to rescue a missing the husband of a female otter who’s been pleading with the police force to help her. Judy’s not only defied the odds that a rabbit can be a competent officer, but she’s proven to be a valuable asset to the force with her resourcefulness.

I love that Zootopia is NOT an animated musical that occasionally burst into songs. It even takes a little zing at Disney itself when Chief Bogo said to Judy ‘Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.’ Ha! The plot is more of an action mystery thriller that is as clever and quick-witted as the movie’s protagonist. The team of writers (at least seven of them credited on IMDb!) keep playing with my expectations throughout, cleverly weaving the themes of widely-held stereotypes and discrimination without taking away the fun of an animated adventure. Just when I thought the story is going one way, it turns out to be another. I love being surprised when watching movies, and this movie does that time and again, and I was left in awe every time.

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The strength of Zootopia also lies in the chemistry of the two leads, Judy and the sly fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). Disney’s no stranger to putting together unlikely pairings and this latest one is as delightful as ever. They end up finding similarities in regards to defying stereotypes of their kind, and the developing bond between them is fun to watch. Some of the funny scenes in the trailer, i.e. the one with the Sloth, is still hilarious in the movie, but I think there are even more memorable scenes than that one.

There are interesting characters we meet throughout their journey, I especially love the scene with Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche) and his introduction is a hoot! Elba’s voice is always a highlight in any movie and he’s memorable here too as Chief Bogo. Jenny Slate‘s Bellwether and Alan Tudyk‘s Duke Weaselton round up the excellent voice cast. Despite not having a big musical number, it does have a fun song Try Everything featuring Shakira, who also has a cameo as popstar Gazelle.

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Just what I expect from Disney with its $150mil budget, the cinematography is absolutely spectacular. The five boroughs of Zootopia are beautifully rendered, and each has a fitting name that describes its own unique characteristics: Savanna Central, Sahara Square, Tundratown, Little Rodentia and Rainforest District. The chase through all the different boroughs are a ton of fun that made me wish I had seen it on the big screen!

Kudos to the trio of directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush for creating such a fun, enjoyable ride of a movie that’s also smart AND has a big heart. This is another winner from Disney that I don’t mind watching again and again.

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Have you seen ‘Zootopia’? Well, what did you think?
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Everybody’s Chattin + Best casting news in ages: John Boyega in Pacific Rim 2!

EverybodysChattin

Heh, why is it only Wednesday :\ It’s a pretty busy week at work and June is looking to be a hectic one, which is unusual for Summer. In any case, I’m also gonna be blogging a bit less as I’m REALLY trying to get my script done but the race the the finish is usually the toughest and I’m finding that w/ mine, especially the dialog of the final scene.

But hey, there’s always time for community links… so here we go!

I’ve missed a few of Dan Stephens‘ awesome top 10 lists… LOVE this one on Vengeful Vigilantes.

Nostra reviewed Midnight Special which I can’t wait to see once the blu-ray is out in a couple of weeks!

On the other hand, I think I’m gonna skip The Brothers Grimsby even though Dan O. didn’t hate it.

Brittani reviewed the French film Mustang. Given how much I LOVE the female-led Girlhood that’s also directed by a woman, I can’t wait to see this one!

Steven reviewed The Martian which made me want to see it again pronto!

Now, given her baby is due soon, we may not get to see many more of Film Fridays from Abbi, so check out her latest post that include reviews of Sing Street & Florence Foster Jenkins.

Now, we’ve got a cinematography and scene spotlight on two of my favorites. Keith posted great images from Inception, and Zoë posted the awesome club shootout scene from John Wick. Can’t wait for the sequel!


Now, speaking of a sequel I can’t wait to see…

It’s been a while since I’m actually excited for any sequel, but I’m a huge fan of Pacific Rim and I was so bummed that it’s been stuck in development hell for some time. For a while it seems it might not even get made at all for one reason or another. But looks like it will happen after all, wahoo!!! And what could be better than an awesome casting bit to go with it…

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John Boyega, one of today’s rising stars out of Star Wars: Force Awakens has been cast as the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost! What an absolutely brilliant casting!! I was literally in glee when I heard it and it just couldn’t be more perfect. Boyega and Elba are born & bred in London and they’re both super charismatic! I’d love to see him use his natural accent in Pacific Rim 2, as he used an American accent as Fin in the Force Awakens.

I have to say I’m even more excited to see Pacific Rim: Maelstrom than the Star Wars sequel. I have to say I’m still going to miss Idris in THIS getup [yowza!]…

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… but I’m hoping he’d have a small part maybe in Flashback scenes? Man it’d be cool to see him & Boyega on screen together. But for sure I’m excited to see Boyega as a Jaeger pilot and keep on cancelin’ the apocalypse!

Guillermo del Toro isn’t directing this one though he’d still serve as producer. Steven S. DeKnight (who directed an episode of Netflix’s Daredevil as well as executive-produced the series) is helming this one. Per EW, del Toro said this:

“I am very proud and happy to welcome John into a fantastic sandbox. The Pacific Rim universe will be reinforced with him as a leading man as it continues to be a multicultural, multi-layered world.”

I love how diverse the cast of the first movie and so if Rinko Kikuchi is back again with Charlie Hunnam, I’ll be a happy camper!


What do you think of this casting news? Are you excited for Pacific Rim 2? 

FlixChatter Review: Disney’s The Jungle Book (2016)

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It’s been ages since I saw the cartoon version of The Jungle Book. I have to admit I wasn’t too keen on this remake idea when it was first announced, despite the amazing voice cast. But I love when films I wasn’t even anticipating end up being such a pleasant surprise, and The Jungle Book did exactly that.

There’s always something intriguing about unlikely friendships, especially amongst humans and animals, so there’s definitely a big market for such genre movies. But seeing them in an animated format and live action automatically gives the story a different feel. A fellow blogger asked me if she could bring her 4-year-old niece to it and my first instinct is that some of the darker scenes might be too scary for her. So yes, it’s still family entertainment, but it certainly has a big appeal to adults as well.

The fact that I don’t much remember the original story perhaps made me enjoy the movie more. Yet for the most part I think this remake stays true to Rudyard Kipling‘s written text. We’re first introduced to the man-cub Mowgli in an exhilarating chase through the jungle that immediately showcased the movie’s spectacular 3D visual prowess. I was immediately transported to the jungle as Mowgli is on the run. It turns out to be a training sequence as he’s being mentored by Bagheera the panther to be more like his wolf brothers he’s raised with. It also didn’t take long for the movie to introduce the villain, the tiger Shere Khan, who looks and sounds menacing, thanks to the deep & mesmerizing voice of Idris Elba.


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, a 12-year-old kid of Indian descent who lives in NYC is perfectly cast as Mowgli. He may not have the acting experience for some of the dramatic scenes, but still convincing in the role and made me feel for his character. Besides, he’s surrounded by top-notch voice cast, some are acting legends like Ben Kingsley who provided the voice of Bagheera. But the scene stealer is Baloo, voiced by the inimitable Bill Murray. As soon as Baloo enters the picture, the movie’s entertainment quotient goes up a few notches. I love how he cajoled Mowgli to get his supply of honey and convinces him to stay in the jungle (instead of going to the man village) after discovering the kid’s resourceful-ness. It’s certainly one of the most fun pairing of human/animal since Hiccup and Toothless in the animated feature How To Train Your Dragon.

Scarlett Johansson‘s perfectly cast as the seductive snake Kaa. It’s a brief scene but a pretty memorable one. Christopher Walken, whose distinct speaking voice is endlessly entertaining, is fun to watch as the 10-foot-tall Gigantopithecus aptly-named King Louie. So instead of an orangutan, we’ve got this gigantic ape whose face is made to resemble Walken a bit and he got to sing a bit as well. The scenes with King Louie in his *temple* is one of the most action-packed in the film, but there are no shortage of action in this movie. Which takes me to the phenomenal visuals. From the opening sequence down to the fiery finale between Mowgli and Shere Khan, this film surely sets the bar high for live-action CGI movies. I think the last time I was truly in awe by a film’s 3D visuals was Avatar back in 2009. The way the animals look so realistic, and the excruciating details of the forest Mowgli lives in is breathtaking to behold. It’s an immersive experience as it felt as if you could smell and touch the lush trees in the jungle!

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But it’s also nice that the movie isn’t just all style-over-substance. It’s a testament to how wonderful the original story is, but director Jon Favreau and screenwriter Justin Marks made the classic tale come alive again and feels new. Even the musical numbers were fun and not at all distracting or annoying, which is another pleasant surprise. I find Mowgli’s journey quite moving and I really do love all the characters. Favreau is definitely a force to be reckoned with, which seems relatively under the radar compared to say, Zack Snyder, but he churns in good work far more consistently. The first Iron Man was utterly entertaining and Elf is practically a Christmas classic. But even his smaller fare like Chef (in which he starred in) is an indie gem.

The Jungle Book is another huge hit for Disney. It’s nice that a behemoth movie (with $175 mil budget) is also massively entertaining, so I think its success is well-deserved. I don’t even mind seeing this again in IMAX as I much prefer seeing it in a larger screen with great sound than in 3D. Pure escapism stuff that Disney’s known for and the colossal studio delivered once again.

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Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary 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. Ok let’s start off with the casting news that’s likely still on everyone’s minds. I know it must be on my pal Ted S.’s mind as he’s a huge fan of of the book, right Ted? The forever-in-the-works adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower finally has casting in place: Idris Elba will play the gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey will play the villainous Man in Black.

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King himself has confirmed the casting:

I know there’ll be fuss about the race thing just like when Elba played Norse god Heimdall in Thor, but I personally think Elba’s one of those actors that can pull off ANY role, regardless of what skin color the character’s supposed to be. But I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if he’d actually fit the character of Roland in terms of personality, etc.

So what do y’all think about this casting news? 
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2. Now, a lot of you already know I’m currently into British actor Sam Riley. I’ve also been obsessing over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where he played a charming but dangerous Mr. Darcy [the only Darcy I ever hyperventilate over 😉 ]. If it’s still playing in theaters near me, I’d gladly go again for a third time!

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This epic fight that takes place after Mr. Darcy’s first proposal scene is nothing short of epic. Riley and Lily James have such a scorching chemistry, and they’re now my favorite Lizzie & Darcy. It’ll definitely make it to my top 10 favorite scenes I’d watch over and over again from 2016… and beyond!

So tell me, which film(s) you’ve seen more than once in the theater this year? Feel free to share your favorite scene from that movie, too.

3. Last Wednesday I saw Knight of Cups… I mentioned in this post that I knew going in that the latest Terrence Malick’s film has no script. I’m still curious about it because of the cast.

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Well, suffice to say, if you’ve never been into Malick’s style, I’d say best to avoid this one. It’s basically a 2-hr visual poetry set to classical music. As beautiful the visuals is, lensed by Malick’s regular, triple Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki. But y’know what, his cinematography work here actually made me nauseous! I had to close my eyes several times to keep from hurling. I generally like most of his films, save for Badlands and To The Wonder which I haven’t seen yet. But I’m kind of put off by this one that I don’t think I want to watch ANY film without a script ever again. Heh, screenwriters exist for a reason Mr. Malick. I’m hoping his next film Weightless actually has a script, as it’s really hard to resist THIS ensemble cast!

What are your thoughts about Terrence Malick’s style? Yay or nay?
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4. Per tradition, there are a couple of trailers I want to highlight today. Both are female-driven, though they couldn’t be more different in terms of genres.

Let’s start with Despite the Falling Snow, which I had been anticipating for some time. I had blogged about it when I posted about 5 new-to-me actors I’d like to see more of, as Rebecca Ferguson plays the lead in this one. It also has one of my new fave actors Sam Reid from Belle, woo hoo! There are so few romantic thrillers out there and I LOVE the premise of this. Forbidden romance set in wartime setting, with intrigue and suspense thrown in, I’m SO there. Plus it’s also directed by a woman, UK-based filmmaker Shamim Sarif.

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In Cold War Moscow, a female spy steals secrets from an idealistic politician – and falls in love with him.


Now THIS is a reboot I’m actually looking forward to: GHOSTBUSTERS! This is likely to be one of Summer’s biggest hits. I LOVE the female cast, it just looks like such a hoot. This will be Melissa McCarthy‘s fourth time with Paul Feig, after starring in Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. I’ve only seen the last one which was a blast, and Kate McKinnon is my fave SNL cast member from the current season.

30 years after Ghostbusters took the world by storm, the beloved franchise makes its long-awaited return. Director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today.

Thoughts about either one of these trailers?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is my pal Wendell from Dell on Movies.  Blockbuster season will begin in earnest in March, starting with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice later this month, The Jungle Book in April and Captain America: Civil War + X-Men Apocalypse in May.

Which 2016 blockbusters do you absolutely have to see and which will you skip?


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

41 favorite cinematic things to celebrate my b’day

So today’s my birthday. I’ve been blessed to have been alive for 41 years! I have no qualms about admitting how old I am, heck you’re only as *old* as you feel and I feel forever 21 😉

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I was wondering what post to do for my b’day. I did a list of Favorite Films from Each Decade I Live Through last year and y’know what, I still love a bunch of stuff on that list. Just like many things in life, over the years you may feel differently about certain things and the same with cinema. You may grow to love something you weren’t into, or the other way around. So today, I want to highlight the enduring cinematic things that I still love to this day (and probably forever) … as well as new faves I discovered recently 😉

1. The oh-so-heartbreaking unrequited love in The Age of Innocence

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2. Timothy Dalton as James Bond

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3. Nora Ephron’s rom-coms… esp. Sleepless in Seattle & You’ve Got Mail

4. Spellbound… for introducing me to the impossibly beautiful Gregory Peck
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5. Casino Royale & Eva Green as Vesper

6. Period dramas based on the works of my literary heroines: Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell (North & South) & Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)

7. Emma Thompson’s brilliant screenplay for Sense & SensibilityElinorQuote

8.  Roman Holiday (1959)

9. Gladiator (2000)

10. Sam Riley as leather-wearing, Samurai-wielding, bad-ass Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)

11. Tango scenes in movies

12. Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon (Sense & Sensibility)

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13. Superman: The Movie… Christopher Reeve shall always be MY Superman

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14. John Williams’ Jurassic Park‘s score

15. The Gods Must Be Crazy… movie from my childhood that still makes me laugh

16. Phantom of the Opera (2004)

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17.The beautiful period drama Belle… and its star Gugu Mbatha-Raw 

18. Harrison Ford & Sean Connery pairing in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade

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19. Julia Ormond’s Sabrina

20. Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester (BBC’s Jane Eyre 2006)

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21. The immensely under-appreciated Return to Me (2000)

22. Casablanca (1942)… a classic epic I’m glad I got to see on the big screen

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23. Fiona in Four Weddings and a Funeral

24. One of the first Hollywood films I ever saw… Gone with the Wind (1939)

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25. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) … guaranteed to make me laugh for years to come

26. The exquisite scenery of Not Another Happy Ending… Glasgow AND Stanley Weber

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27. Great journalism movies… i.e. All the President’s Men

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28. The Bourne Trilogy

29. John Barry’s music for Somewhere in Time

30. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959)

31. Heath Ledger & Christian Bale in The Dark Knight

32. Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton (BBC’s North & South 2004)

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33. The musical scenes of The Sound of Music (1965)


34. Awesome movie car chases

35. Idris Elba (’nuff said)

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36. These 10 James Bond’s songs 

37. Hand-touching in period dramas


38. Disney Princesses Movies, especially Sleeping Beauty

39. Evocative rain scenes in movies i.e. this one from the sci-fi drama Franklyn (2008) w/ Sam Riley and Eva Green

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40. Paris in the movies

41. Last but not least… movies about writers, i.e. Sam Riley as Sal Paradise in On The Road

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Hope you enjoy walking down memory lane w/ me on my b’day. 

January Viewing Recap, Quick Thoughts on SAG Awards + A New Crush

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Well, the first month of 2016 has come and gone. After two weeks Christmas break, work was quite hectic. Somehow I didn’t get as much time to write either, and it seems the closer my script is to *completion* the more I feel like rewriting. I suppose that’s what they say, writing is 90% rewriting.

In any case, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

(in order of viewing)

Rewatches

Belle (2014)

Anna Karenina (2012)

Sense & Sensibility 

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Notting Hill
mmm

MOVIE OF THE MONTH

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I’m kinda late to the party but it’s easily the BEST film I saw this month. It would’ve made my top 10 of 2015 if I had seen it sooner.


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I didn’t watch it but based on the articles and tweets I’ve read, it seems that the big takeaway from the night is the focus on diversity, as was Sundance Awards the same night, which seems to sending a big message to the Academy. Idris Elba, who was overlooked by Oscars this year, took home two SAG awards, one for Beast of No Nation and the other for his TV work in Luther. (view complete SAG winners at THR), whilst similarly-named that also have a mostly-Black cast Birth of a Nation swept top awards at Sundance, winning U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award.

Glad to see the terrific ensemble cast of Spotlight won SAG, too. Woo hoo! As for Leo and Brie, methinks there’ll be a repeat at the Oscars, don’t you? Check out Brittani’s post on SAG winners.

 


Play it again Sam 😉

So I saw Pride + Prejudice + Zombies which I actually enjoyed quite a bit [review upcoming]. It was as entertaining as I expected, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I um, enjoyed seeing Sam Riley as the leather-clad, musket/samurai-wielding zombie killer extraordinaire Mr. Darcy!

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So yeah, suffice to say I’m besotted by this 36-year-old Yorkshire man 😉

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I’ve been familiar with him for a while but for some reason I hadn’t seen anything Sam’s done before (what a shame!) so I have a lot of catching up to do (yay!). So I saw Byzantium Saturday night, the Neil Jordan’s unconventional vampire drama that’s been in my Netflix queue for some time. Then Sunday afternoon I watched the sex-drenched road movie On The Road based on Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name.

The film is as aimless as the character but it was immensely watchable thanks to Sam’s narration with that irresistible raspy voice and soulful performance. He’s the character we the audience live vicariously through, as the film was seen through his eyes.

I can’t wait to catch up on more of his work, especially his breakthrough role Control about the UK band Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis.

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

Thursday Movie Picks #56: Alien Invasion of Earth

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. This Thursday’s theme is… 

Alien Invasion of Earth

This month’s theme turns out to be pretty easy as there are actually not that many to pick from for me. A lot of the scifis I like are more about humans & robots, not aliens.

So without further ado, here are my picks:

Independence Day (1996)

The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind’s best weapon is the will to survive.

When someone says ‘alien invasion movies,’ the first thing that came to mind is this. In fact, I asked my hubby and that’s the first thing that came to his mind as well. It’d also my pick for apocalyptic blockbuster as it’s just so much fun! I remember when I saw it on the big screen for the first time, there’s a sense of awe and intrigue when those big spaceships first appeared hovering above the sky.

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I mean, all the action set pieces like the White House blowing up, Will Smith punching the ugly, slimy alien in the face, and that bombastic aerial battle at the end are still memorably epic to this day! It’s an awesome ensemble cast too, Jeff Goldblum has the snark and swagger to make any role memorable. And of course there’s that rousing, albeit corny, presidential speech from Bill Pullman… “We won’t go quietly into the night!” There’s nothing quiet about this flick and I love it all the better for it!

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SIGNS (2002)

A family living on a farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields which suggests something more frightening to come.

Let me preface this pick with the fact that despite the atrocity of The Happening, I actually still have hope for M. Night’s career. He’s made two excellent films you could consider a classic (The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable) and the other two in his resume, The Village and Signs, left a lasting impression that I thought about them for days after seeing them. I know his films have their share of ardent fans and equally passionate detractors.

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I’m not saying SIGNS is a perfect film, there are some preposterous, even laughable moments. But I like that it’s really not so much about alien invasion, but he took some of the classic elements of that genre and turn it on its head. In the same way that Sixth Sense isn’t your typical ghost story and Unbreakable offers a compelling twist in the crowded superhero genre, Signs deals with a broader theme. It’s an intimate film about a close-knit family, led by a former pastor dealing with a crisis of faith. The mystery and suspense surrounding the aliens themselves was pretty fun to watch the first time around, but it isn’t the heart of the film and it’s not what stuck with me afterwards. I like the emotional and spiritual aspect, and how a dire predicament actually helps restore a man’s soul and brings his family together. It’s been ages since I saw this but I definitely want to see this again. Excellent acting all around too by Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.

Pacific Rim (2013)

As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

I love LOVE this movie! I never thought I’d love a big monster movie THIS much but what can I say, it’s awesome. Or as one character in the movie said, “That’s two-thousand five-hundred tons of awesome!’😀 I don’t think it’d be a major spoiler to say that it’s as much an alien invasion movie as it’s a big monster flick. The Kaijus are obviously not from this world, they’re mammoth biological weapons sent by an alien colony through a portal for a specific mission: wipeout humankind. Guillermo del Toro did an amazing job making these creatures look organic like a dinosaur, but with thick, gunky blue blood that actually looks cool the bloodier the darn thing is.

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All the fight scenes between the Kaijus and the massive human-powered robots called Jaegers are wonderfully staged. But I love that we constantly see the humans powering these machines and some of the scenes are actually quite emotional. I like the father-daughter dynamic between Idris Elba‘s and Rinku Kikuchi‘s, and a flirty banter between Rinku and hunky Charlie Hunnam, as well as a slew of fun supporting characters that enrich the movie. Just like ID4, this movie doesn’t take itself seriously, there’s something so giddily-amusing about the fight scenes, like when a Jaeger named Gypsy Danger swung a huge, Titanic-sized ship and hurl it at the Kaiju. You just want to get up and cheer when those moments came on!

I saw this movie twice on the big screen and loved every minute of it. I’ve since bought the Bluray and it’s gotten a lot of play in my house.

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What do you think of my alien-invasion movie picks this week? Have you seen any of these films?

FlixChatter Review: The Gunman (2015)

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Sean Penn has been out of the limelight for a few years, so in order to get people talking about him and promotes his new movie; he decided to tell some lame joke at the Oscars. Kudos to his PR team, after the so-called “offensive” joke, Penn is relevant in Hollywood again. Now it remains to be seen if his off color joke will get people to go see his new action picture.

The movie opens with a flashback to 2006, Jim Terrier (Penn) is a humanitarian working in Congo with his buddies Felix (Javier Bardem) and Cox (Mark Rylance). Terrier also has a girlfriend named Annie (Jasmine Trinka), she’s also part of his team of do-gooders. What she doesn’t know is that Jim, Felix and Cox are a bunch of assassins working undercover. They’ve been assigned to take out an important political figure that their boss wanted to get rid of. After he assassinated Congo’s Minister of Mines, Jim disappeared and told Felix to look after Annie.

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Fast forward to present day, Jim is still working as a do-gooder in Africa, but things got dicey when some armed men came after him, of course being a super assassin, he took them out easily. Alarmed after the attack, Jim sets out to London to see his old buddy Cox, who’s now working as a top executive at some big corporation. Jim suspects that their mission back in 2006 has been compromised and it’s the reason why he’s being targeted. Cox is skeptical but assured Jim that he’ll look into this matter. After a brief stay in London, Jim heads to Spain to see Felix, who’s now married to Annie. Things got messy when assassins showed up at Felix’s house and now Jim and Annie are on the run. The rest of the movie is about Jim trying to figure out who’s after him and keeping Annie safe. This being an action movie, there has to be some shootouts and explosions between the boring scenes. And that’s the problem with this movie, it’s so boring! There’s nothing interesting about the plot or any of the characters, by the time the true villain is finally revealed, we the audience already figured out before the hero did. Not only was the movie boring, it also took itself way too seriously.

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Not known for being in action pictures, Penn was actually decent as an action hero. It’s obvious he worked out for a long time to prepare for this role, because he can’t seem to keep his shirts on in a lot of scenes. He also looked good in fight scenes, particularly a brutal hand-to-hand combat in the climatic sequence. But again he seems to take the role too seriously and doesn’t look like he has any fun with it. Being that he’s also the producer and co-writer, he must’ve demanded that he’s on the screen 99% of the entire run of the movie. I’ve never seen Jasmine Trinka in anything before this movie and she was okay as the damsel in distress, but it’s kind of creepy seeing her as the leading lady to a man who’s old enough to be her father. Bardem pretty much phoned in his role since it’s nothing more than a cameo. Ray Windstone might be the only one who seems to get what the movie should be about and had a lot of fun with his sidekick role. Fans of Idris Elba will be disappointed, he didn’t show up until the last 20 minutes or so of the movie and he’s more like a cameo. Although for those who wants to see him as 007, the filmmakers did give a little wink by naming his character with initials JB.

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I don’t know how much control director Pierre Morel has during the production, but he was going for the 70s espionage thrillers mix in with the Jason Bourne flicks and the result was a disaster. The pacing was very slow, about 20 to 30 minutes should’ve been edited out. What’s worse was that he shot most of the action scenes in that shaky cam up close style that I can’t stand. I still don’t understand why some directors still uses this kind of style, what’s the point of making action movies if you’re not going to show the action? The only good action sequence was the bloody hand-to-hand combat between Penn and an assassin. I won’t even go into the script because it’s so generic that most people can figure out what’s going on.

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This could’ve been a good action thriller if it didn’t take itself too seriously because I think Penn was believable as the action hero. But it’s obvious he has hidden agenda by making this movie. By masking it as an action picture, he probably thought he could get the message out to a wider audience. Unfortunately though, the movie was poorly written and directed. With a better script and tighter editing, it could’ve been good.

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Have you seen The Gunman? Well, what did you think?

Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2015 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary 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. First things first… well, Twitter erupted with geekgasm yesterday when the third Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer dropped. I have to admit I dug it enough I watched it three times in a row during my lunch break. I’m lucky to have the 23-inch Apple Cinema HD Display at the office 😉

I wasn’t super excited about the first two trailers but now I’m slowly getting more enthusiastic about this sequel. Though I’m much more excited about Captain America 3 that opens May 2016.

For those who’re averse to comic-book stuff, no fret. Far from the Madding Crowd also opens on the same weekend (May 1).

In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.


I never read Thomas Hardy’s famous novel that the movie’s based on but I like the look of this one, sounds like something I’d enjoy. Carey Mulligan is lovely & talented, and this is from the director of The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg, which was one of my top 10 films of 2013.

So are you excited for either one of these?

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2. Check out the FIRST LOOK of Oliver Stone’s thriller SNOWDEN. The film is currently shooting in Munich, before moving to locations around the world.​ Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Snowden before he became the NSA whistle-blower – Edward was an ordinary man who unquestioningly served his country.

Levitt_SnowdenThe movie also stars Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant … and Nicolas Cage! Hmmm, I wonder which role he’d play, and most importantly which hairdo he’ll be sporting 😉

In any case, I’m not convinced yet about Levitt as Snowden, here’s what my casting wish for the role:

I knew the chance of Richard being cast is slim to none, he’s just a big enough name yet for such a role. Now, I’m not exactly a big Oliver Stone fan as director, we’ll see how much creative liberties will be taken for this movie. I think if you want to see the real Snowden, just watch the excellent doc Citizenfour instead.

What’s your initial thoughts of SNOWDEN?

3. Well, Cinderella hasn’t even opened yet and the interweb has been abuzz with the casting of yet another live action Disney adaptation, Beauty & The Beast. Apparently it’ll be a musical, with Emma Watson as Belle, who was cast months ago. Well, this week we’ve got casting news of the Beast himself AND its villain, Gaston: Dan Stevens and Luke Evans respectively. Behold the gorgeous all-Brits main cast:

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I actually just rewatched some clips of the animated feature not that long ago and looking at the drawings below, I’d say the casting is pretty spot-on physically. Though Stevens would likely have to undergo long hours in the makeup chair to get all big and furry as Beast, which is too bad that they have to cover up that handsome face!

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I personally like this casting. These are impossibly beautiful actors but fortunately they can act and have charismatic screen presence. It’d have been horrid if they cast say, Alex Pettyfer and Liam Hemsworth for example. Not convinced with Bill Condon as director though, but I haven’t seen Dreamgirls yet, so I suppose he has experience directing a musical.

What do you think of this casting bit?

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4. Oh for the times they are a-changin. Nothing could be truer for media distribution landscape, as companies like Amazon and Netflix are entering the foray. Well, this is creating some interesting *shake-up* as four major theater chains are refusing to show Beasts of No Nation, the Cary Fukunaga drama starring Idris Elba that Netflix bought this week for $12 million, because the company is debuting the film simultaneously on its streaming service (per Variety).

Apparently the reason is that “… they do not want to provide screens to films that do not honor what is typically a 90-day delay between a theatrical debut and a home entertainment release.”

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A drama based on the experiences of Agu, a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country.

NetflixLogoWell, since I have Netflix, it doesn’t bother me much, but this news certainly made me pause a bit. What if it’s the kind of movie I’d LOVE to see on the big screen? There’s only a handful of indie theaters near me, so there’s a likelihood none would even show such films. How big of a game changer this will become remains to be seen, but we might know sooner rather than later. Netflix also announced similar plans to the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that’s supposed to be out in August. It’s also partnering with a bunch of celebs on various projects, the latest is a partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio on documentaries that will premiere exclusively on Netflix.

What are your thoughts on this development?

5. The first 2015 Five for the Fifth’s guest is Natalie from Writer Loves Movies blog!

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We’re seeing some interesting Artificial Intelligence films lately (Her, Ex Machina). Chappie is out soon too. As a kid I loved Johnny 5 from Short Circuit! But as a grown up I’d have to pick Her‘s Samantha, such a clever film.

So, what’s your favorite cinematic AI?


Well, that’s it for the March 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀