May Movie Watching Recap & Movie of the Month

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Can’t believe it’s June already! Summer is finally here, yay! Well, the temp isn’t exactly Summer-y yet here, but I have to think positive that Summer weather IS indeed on its way [sigh] Well, it’s been kind of an uneventful month for movie watching, but I think y’all know June is a BIG month for me 😉

Now, here are some of the posts you might’ve missed from this past month:

New-to-me Films Watched:

The Great Gatsby

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Jack Reacher

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Bernie

Bernie

Muriel’s Wedding

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The Cabin in the Woods

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Star Trek Into Darkness

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William Shatner’s The Captains

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Epic

Epic

Fast & Furious 6

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Now You See Me

NowYouSeeMe

The Kid with a Bike

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It’s been a slow month for Blu-ray/Netflix watching. I actually didn’t have even a single movie rewatch all month, and also didn’t get around to watching any classic movie 😦 It’s slow on TV watching too, though I did watch some Frasier episodes (LOVE that show) but that’s about it! I wish the old NBC series Wings were on Netflix, that was one of my favorite shows in the 90s. Stay tuned for mini reviews of some of the movies I saw this past month, and of course, more Man of Steel countdown posts 😀


Movie of the Month:

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Now, I’m not saying this is THE best film I saw in May, but in terms of re-watchability, this one would probably take the cake. It’s also the only movie I’d likely get on Blu-ray.


Well, that’s my monthly recap folks. What’s YOUR favorite film you saw in May?

Weekend Roundup: Jack Reacher and Muriel’s Wedding

Happy Tuesday all!

It’s quite a memorable weekend for me as my hubby and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on Friday. We had a wonderful dinner Friday night and went shopping for a new ring on Sunday afternoon as my anniversary present 😀

Since we’ve already seen The Great Gatsby early in the week (check out my review), it’s home cinema time. Looks like a lot of you did go see Baz Luhrmann’s literary adaptation as it managed to make about $50 mil (which is about half of its production budget), but not great enough to top Iron Man 3 which made $72 mil to top box office for its second week.

Anyway, I’m only going to do a mini review of both of these films. So here goes:

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Jack Reacher (2012)

I’ve been wanting to check out Jack Reacher for a while and it’s finally available to rent this weekend. I’m not going to review it here as Ted already written one here. Here’s an excerpt:

In the end I thought it was a well made action thriller that didn’t take itself too seriously and I like the fact it has that old school 70s thriller feel to it. I would definitely love to see more of Jack Reacher films in the future.

I think I’d agree with Ted’s 4/5 rating. I thought it was an engaging thriller that’s more focused on the who-dun-it story instead of just some overly fast-paced but vapid shoot-em-ups. I agree that the action scenes were well-directed and that you could actually SEE the action as director Christopher McQuarrie  didn’t employ the overused fast-cuts with dizzying blurry effect. I think Cruise’s performance here is much stronger than in Oblivion, but then again, there’s more focus on character development here than simply showing pretty visuals.

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Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo and Werner Herzog

It’s interesting casting to see two Brits playing American in this movie: David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, who are both pretty good here. I’d say Oyelowo even upstaged Richard Jenkins but can’t really fault Jenkins as his role is actually pretty boring. But the scene-stealer is Werner Herzog, simply because he just lends such as sinister portrayal of the main villain who was a former POW at a Soviet Gulag. He’s menacing but more in an amusing kind of way.

Muriel’s Wedding (1994)

We didn’t plan on watching a wedding-themed movie for our anniversary, but we ended up seeing an Australian coming-of-age comedy Muriel’s Wedding. I’ve been wanting to see this for a while as I quite like Toni Collette as an actress. She’s so talented but quite underrated IMO, as you probably could attest if you’ve seen her performance in Emma, The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine, etc. This is the first of her earlier roles that I saw, which not only displayed her versatility but also her dedication to her craft as she had to gain 40 pounds to play Muriel!

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Set in Australia, the protagonist is a misfit girl named Muriel who always wants to escape her miserable life in a fictitious town called Porpoise Spit. The title of the movie refers to Muriel’s obsession with getting married, even to the point of snapping photos of herself in wedding gowns. Collette owns her role as Muriel, featuring a bravura, no–holds–barred type of performance from start to finish. Despite some cheesy and even cringe-worthy moments, overall this movie is an amusing journey about self-acceptance and also a celebration of friendship. Rachel Griffiths is wonderfully spunky as Muriel’s BFF Rhonda, who endured a pretty drastic sudden change that’s heart-wrenching to watch.

One of the major highlights is of course, the wedding scene. If I had seen it before I made my top 10 movie wedding list, I’d have included the one here. I’ve always wondered why the groom has that befuddled look on his face in all the photos from this scene, and now I know why!! If you’re a fan of 70s music, particularly the Swedish band ABBA, then you’ve got to rent this movie. I find myself humming Dancing Queen and Fernando a lot the past couple of days, ahah.

I’d readily recommend both of these movies so give it a go next time you’re looking for something to rent!


Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. What did you see this weekend? Anything good?

Top 10 favorite Tom Cruise’s film/performance … and vote for your own top 3

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When people ask me who’s my favorite actor, I would always say without hesitation that Tom Cruise is my favorite. Then people would ask why or say that’s gotta tough liking Cruise. I respond back and say, why is that? He’s one of the most prolific leading men working in Hollywood today. But ever since the couch jumping incident on The Opera Show and his interview with Matt Lauer a few years back, it’s very fashionable to dislike him now. People tend to forget that many of his films in the 80s, 90s and early part 2000s were event films. In fact, studio would always release in films in either the prime summer or holidays season. Sure his box office power is not what it used to be now but he’s one of the few actors in Hollywood who can still convince any studio big wigs to green light a film if he’s involved in it. It took several years before Jack Reacher made it to the big screen and the reason why was because Cruise had agreed to star in it. In an interview with Reacher’s author, Jim Grant, he and the film’s producers tried many years without any luck to get the first Jack Reacher film into the cinemas. Finally Cruise got a hold of the script, he liked it and convinced Paramount to invest in the film.

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I feel Cruise never gave less than 100% in all of his films, even the bad ones, I thought he tried his best to give the film some life and that’s why I really like him as an actor. A good example was Knight & Day, a dreadful film but you can tell Cruise really tried hard to save that movie. You can’t say that to a lot of actors in his age group nowadays (Mr. Willis are you listening?) With his new film, Oblivion, opening later this week, I’ve decided to come up with my ten favorite films he starred in. I’ve seen all of his films except two, Rock of the Ages and Lions for Lambs. The criteria for this list doesn’t have anything to do with box office numbers or Oscar nominations but let’s face it, most of these films were either huge of office hits or received many Oscar nominations.

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10. Jack Reacher in Jack Reacher

I went into this movie with no expectations what so ever and was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. Yes Cruise’s not the Jack Reacher fans of the book wanted but I thought he was great in the role and without him, the film would’ve been just another average action thriller. (Note: I haven’t read any of the Jack Reacher books so I can’t comment on how good or bad Cruise was compare to his character from the novels.)

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9. Dr. William Hartford in Eyes Wide Shut

This may have been the most un-Tom Cruise role he’d ever played. His character is someone who’s obsessed with sex and well the whole film was about sex. My favorite part in the film is when his wife told him she had a fantasy about having sex with another man and would leave him and their daughter just to be with this man. The expression on Cruise’s face was pretty darn accurate of how a man would feel if his wife/girlfriend would confess something like that to him.

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8. Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man

I think this is the role he’s born to play. A young selfish, arrogant and all around douchebag. The film came out during the prime of his career and it made over $170mil at the box office! I highly doubt the film would’ve made that much without him, yes Dustin Hoffman was still a big named star back then but I don’t believe the film would’ve been as successful without Cruise.

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7. Mitch McDeere in The Firm

Another film I believe wouldn’t have been as successful if not for Cruise’s involvement. The film was based on a hugely popular novel by John Grisham. When the film version was announced and Cruise got the lead role, Grisham was not too happy about it. In the book, McDeere was a tall, blonde and blued eyes; someone how looks more like Matthew McConaughey. Of course when the film came out and was a box office gold, Grisham changed his tone a bit and said Cruise did a great job.

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6. Lt. Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men

Okay I don’t like to repeat myself but without Cruise, this film wouldn’t have earned more than $140mil at the box office. No doubt the film’s a great court room drama and his scene with Jack Nicholson was truly a classic scene. But I guaranteed if the lead role was played by someone else, the movie wouldn’t have a huge hit.

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5. Cole Trickle in Days of Thunder

This film was one of most highly anticipated summer flicks of 1990 and unfortunately it tanked at the box office. It’s Cruise’s first box office disappointment but I still thought he’s great in the role. I used to watch this film constantly when I was younger, I just love those racing scenes and car crashes. I know it’s a silly movie and very cheesy but it’s a reunion of the crew of Top Gun, directed by Tony Scott and produced by the powerful team of Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson.

A little fun fact, the crew was also set to reunite again in the late 90s for Enemy of the State but because Cruise was stuck shooting Eyes Wide Shut with Kubrick, he had to back out. It’s too bad that he never got to do a movie with Tony Scott again.

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4. Stefen Djordjevic in All the Right Moves

High school drama was a quite popular genre back in the 80s and here Cruise played a high football star who’s desperate to leave his hometown. The writing and directing weren’t that great but I thought Cruise carried the entire movie even though he’s so young. I particularly like the scene when his team just loss a heartbreaking game and his confrontation with his coach played by Craig T. Nelson was quite excellent. If you’re a fan of Cruise, I highly you seek this movie out if you’ve never seen it.

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3. Ethan Hunt in all of the Mission: Impossible films

One of the most popular franchises in films and I felt Cruise always gave his best even for action genre. I mean who’s crazy enough to climb the tallest building the world without a stunt double? I don’t think many actors would do that. After the disappointment box office of the third film, many thought the franchise was dead but Cruise was smart enough to bring in Brad Bird to re-energize the franchise and M:I-4 was a big success. I’m looking forward to the fifth film.

CruiseRole_JerryMaguire

2. Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire

Another role that he’s born to play, an arrogant sport agent who’s all about the money. But I think the chemistry between him and Renee Zellweger that mad this film a fun watch. Of course who can forget the “Show me the money!” scene with Cuba Gooding Jr.

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1. Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July

I think Cruise should’ve won an Oscar for his performance in this film. It’s powerful and great performance, I don’t remember who were the other actors he was up against in that year’s Oscar but I thought he got robbed. I hope he’ll get to play a role like this again soon and maybe he’ll finally get that Oscar statue that he truly deserves.

– Post by Ted S.


Ruth’s note:

I agree with most of Ted’s picks here, but my top ten would definitely include these roles that aren’t on Ted’s list:

  • Vincent, Collateral
  • Chief John Anderton, Minority Report
  • Nathan Algren, The Last Samurai

Those are our favorite Tom Cruise’s films/performances, do share yours in the comments section. Of course if you’re a Cruise hater, then feel free to trash his films too. 🙂


Now your turn! Pick three of YOUR favorite Tom Cruise roles out of over three dozens of his feature films!

5 Films That Are Better Than the Books They Are Based On

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Every time Hollywood studios turn popular books into films, most fans of the books will always coin the term “The book is better”. I’m quite sure fans of The Hobbit and Jack Reacher books are already saying that. Most of the time they’re right, as an avid reader myself, I used that term many times after I saw a film based on a book that I read and liked. I believe some books just aren’t meant for the big screen, for example Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was an excellent novel but the film version was average at best. I think the story just fit better in the written form and just didn’t transfer well onto the big screen. Then there are Stephen King’s epic The Dark Tower books which Ron Howard is still trying to get off the ground. I’m a huge fan of the books but I just don’t know if it will translate well into films.

Once in a while though, Hollywood actually made films that ended up being better than its original source. Below are the films I thought were better than the book version.

 

5. The Hunt For Red October

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This film was based on Tom Clancy’s popular book was one of the biggest hits of 1990. I have to confess that I saw the film version first before reading the novel, but usually I ended up loving the book more. But for this one I firmly believe the film version is superior. To me the book has too much going on with introduction to so many characters while the film only focuses on the hunt for the submarine, Red October. Also, with the excellent performances by Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Scott Glenn, Sam Neil and James Earl Jones and a tight direction by John McTiernan, it’s a great thriller.

4. Misery

Misery

Stephen King was one of my favorite writers growing up, I think I’ve read most of his novels, even the bad ones. So when it was announced that the film version of Misery was coming out, I decided to read the book before seeing the film. I thought it’s an excellent novel but I had second thought about seeing the film version. If you read the book then you know how gruesome it was. To my surprise when I finally saw the film, most of the gruesome stuff was never shown and I think that made the film much better than the book. Kathy Bates was perfectly cast as the crazy Annie and James Caan was excellent as the helpless Paul Sheldon. Rob Reiner decided to turn it into a psychological thriller instead of horror worked perfectly in my opinion. Yes he showed us the infamous leg smashing scene but in the book, Annie chopped off one of Paul’s legs with an axe, so yeah I did not want to see that on the screen.

3. Children of Men

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Based on P.D. James’ 1992 novel The Children of Men, director Alfonso Cuarón did a wonderful job of capturing what James wrote on the pages and also injected his own interpretation to the story. The book start out kind of slow but once the plot kicked in, it’s very similar to the film version. Of course the film cut out a few things from the book, for example in the book, all young people was viewed as celebrities because of their youth and that old people were forced into committing suicide. I was hoping to see that get a mention in the film. But the main reason I thought the film version was better is because it didn’t have a clichéd Hollywood ending, while the book’s ending has this sort of high noon standoff shootout that I didn’t think fit the story whatsoever. I’m glad Cuaron changed it and made it into sort of open to interpretation as to what’s going to happen to that society.

2. No Country for Old Men

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I’m a big fan of Cormac McCarthy and I’ve never thought that anyone could ever turn one of his books into a great film, let alone made it better than his written words. But that’s what happened here. The Coen Brothers’ film version is to me a near masterpiece, they were able to translate McCarthy’s beautiful written words into an almost flawless motion picture. The casting of Tommy Lee Jones as the old man who can’t seem to grasp the ever-changing violence in modern day society is pitch perfect. Then of course the performance by Javier Bardem as the unstoppable killer Anton Chigurh was pretty incredible. I can watch that scene where he picked on the clerk at a gas station over and over again. I went back and read the book again after seeing the film and I still believe the film’s better.

1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? a.k.a Blade Runner

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I’ve read a lot of Phillip K. Dick’s work and this book may have been his most straightforward story. In the film, Ridley Scott was able to expand some of the concepts in Dick’s book and made them even better in my opinion. I think one of the main reasons why I prefer the film version is because the book has too much religious theme for my liking. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; just that I’m not a religious person. Also, in the book the Replicants or robots that Deckard was hunting for didn’t have a personality, while in the film they acted and talked like humans. But the main reason why I prefer the film is because I believe it has a deeper meaning than the book. What I got out of the film was that we as human takes life for granted while these Replicants would do anything, including murder, to live longer. The tears in rain speech Roy gave to Deckard near the end sums up nicely of why he saved Deckard’s life, a beautiful scene.

[rtm note: Check out my related Blade Runner musings… What Does It Mean to Be Humans?
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– Post by Ted S.
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So those are some films I thought were better than their original source, do you have other films you’d like to add to the list?