Weekend Viewing Roundup & Musings on BAFTA Awards 2014

Hi everyone! Did you have a nice weekend? It’s another long weekend for me as I got Monday off for President’s Day. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time as Winter storm is brewing as I’m typing this, glad I didn’t have to drive in this Wintry condition.

Before I get to my thoughts on BAFTA, here’s a summary of what I saw this weekend:

How’s your Valentine weekend? Hope you didn’t have to endure see Winter’s Tale. If you’ve read my review, then consider it a warning. I know it’s early, but it could easily end up being one of the biggest duds of 2014.

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On V-day, my hubby and I opted for a simple dinner and a movie, home cinema to be exact. I’ve been wanting to re-watch Austenland since I saw it last August and so that’s what we did. I still enjoyed it and my hubby liked it, too, there’s a reason I love my man 😉

On Saturday night, we went to see RoboCop, a second time for my hubby as he went with Ted last Monday. He liked it well enough he didn’t mind seeing it again with me. Y’know what, I quite enjoyed it. It’s not as violent as the first one, and it’s not an all-out action movie either. In fact, there’s quite a lot of backstory for the character that made me care about the ‘man inside a machine.’ There’s a lot of heart in this reboot, the humanity aspect as well as his relationship with his family is explored quite well I think. Joel Kinnaman is pretty good in the lead role in that he’s got a commanding presence and effortlessly likable. I might actually give this 3.5/5 if I were to review it, and I agree with Ted that Gary Oldman is my favorite performer in the ensemble, he just always elevates everything he’s in.

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I completely missed seeing this LIVE yesterday. I was out and about that by the time I realized BAFTA’s on, it’s already too late. So this morning I was playing catch up on the winners via The Guardian. Let’s start with the acting honors:

Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

BAFTA_ActingWinners

Thrilled to see Chiwetel Ejiofor and Cate Blanchett in the Best Leading Actor/Actress category. Both did a superb performance in 12 Years a Slave and Blue Jasmine respectively. I had been rooting for Sandra Bullock before I saw the Woody Allen film, but once I saw Cate’s performance, there’s no doubt in my mind that she should be sweeping all the awards. Classy Cate paid a tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman … “Phil, your monumental talent, generosity and unflinching quest for truth in art and life will be missed by so many people. You raised the bar continually so very, very high and all we can do in your absence is try to continually raise the bar. Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard. I hope you’re proud.” [per Deadline] We truly missed a great talent, but it really took one to know one.

Congrats to Barkhad Abdi, what a year it’s been for the former Minneapolis limo driver! Though I think he did a fine job opposite Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, I had wished that Daniel Brühl would get the honor. Same with Sally Hawkins who should win instead of Jennifer Lawrence who’s absent from the festivities. I’m more disappointed in that than Brühl not winning. I’m REALLY hoping the Academy does right by Hawkins and give her the well-deserved honor.

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Oh… one of my top 3 favorite British Dames Helen Mirren was honored the BAFTA Fellowship Award, yay!! I LOVE that Prince William joked that he should call her ‘Granny,’ referring to her award-winning portrayal in The Queen. I read about her charming speech in that she offered her gratitude to a great teacher who encouraged her to be an actor.

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Now to the question of Best Film of the Year.

Best Film: 12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best British Film: Gravity

Seems that there still is no clear winner and come Oscar I think it’ll still come down to a thriller set in space and a slavery drama. Interesting that there’s a Best Film and Best British Film category, which went to 12 Years a Slave and Gravity respectively. As quoted by Deadline, Alfonso Cuarón said backstage that, “There are rules that make a film eligible for Best British Film. Gravity definitely has all the requirements, except a couple of Mexicans that came here — legally! — and a couple of American stars. It was shot in this country, developed in this country, and with cutting-edge technology developed by British artists.” I have no qualms about the eligibility stuff, obviously the BAFTA deems it eligible and that’s that. Gravity deserves all the kudos, it won six out of the possible 11 noms, including Best Original Score, Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Visual Effects, Sound AND Best Director honor for Alfonso Cuarón. It’s my number 1 film of the year so I’d be happy if it sweeps the Oscars as well!  

Other BAFTA winners I’m thrilled about: 

Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Production Design The Great Gatsby
Best Costumes: The Great Gatsby

BAFTA_JoshuaOppenheimerHuge congrats to Joshua Oppenheimer for winning Best Documentary!! It’s the only documentary that I included in my Top 10 films of the year, and Joshua was gracious enough to grant me an interview. I told him I would be rooting for him come award season, so I’m super thrilled that he’s also up for an Oscar! I love that he dedicated his award to his anonymous crew, “I dedicate this award to them. This film couldn’t be made without people who risked their safety and changed their careers to work on it. Professors, human rights leaders. … They stopped everything they were doing to work on the film, knowing they couldn’t take credit for their work.”  [per Deadline]

Yay for FROZEN, another one of my Top 10 favorites! It’s no contest they will win Best Animated Film at the Oscar, it’s a shoo-in at this point. The production design and costumes of The Great Gatsby are definitely the major highlights of the film so kudos to Catherine Martin! Seems that she’s gotten far more honors in her husband Baz Luhrmann‘s films than Baz himself.

So this is the last major award ceremony before the Oscars on March 2nd. BRING. IT. ON!


So what did you see this weekend? Thoughts on the BAFTA winners?

2014 Oscar Nominations: The Good, the Bad and the WTF

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WOW, has it been a year already?? I felt like I was just doing this Oscar prediction thing not that long ago! Well, the stars might not have even recovered from the Golden Globes, for better or for worse. Methinks there’d be a mix of old veterans and newcomers all vying for taking the golden bald dude home.

As I’ve been doing the past couple of years, this is the fun time for movie bloggers to scrutinize the nominations to death, ahah. I actually woke up extra early so I could catch the telecast of the nomination itself, with Thor erm Chris Hemsworth making the announcement with the Academy’s president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

I didn’t make a post of my nomination predictions this year, I only tweeted who’d be nominated for Best Picture. I guessed that it’d be 8 nominations instead of 9 last year, but apparently the number ended up being the same.

So apparently I was off by one and I had guessed that Blue Jasmine would make it, instead it’s Philomena. I haven’t seen either one though, so I can’t say which one I’d prefer. The other nom I haven’t seen is Dallas Buyers Club.

Oscars2014BestPicNoms

  1. Gravity
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. American Hustle
  4. Captain Phillips
  5. Her
  6. Nebraska
  7. Dallas Buyers Club
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street
  9. Philomena

 Anyway, you can see the full nominations here. Below’s my thoughts:

The Good

  • I’m most pleased seeing Spike Jonze getting three nominations: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Song The Moon Song, which was sung by Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in the film.


  • Happy to see Christian Bale getting a Best Actor nomination, didn’t see that coming. But it truly was an excellent performance and an Oscar-worthy role from the consistently stellar actor.
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  • Congrats to Barkhad Abdi for as close to being the Christoph Waltz of the year, he’s been nominated by pretty much every major awards out there: BAFTA, Golden Globes, SAG, and now Oscars! It’s even more impressive as this is his first EVER role in any format, as he’s never done a stage or even TV acting before. I sure wish him all the best and hope that this would NOT be the last time we see him on screen!
  • YES for The Hunt up for Best Foreign Language Film! Thank you the Academy for not overlooking that one, now if only we could get a win out of that one as well, it’d make up for not seeing Mads Mikkelsen in Best Actor category. I’d think he’s eligible even if the film is not amongst the main Best Picture noms? I don’t know, maybe an Oscar expert can enlighten me on this one?
  • Joshua with one of The Act of Killing's producers Werner Herzog
    Joshua with one of The Act of Killing’s producers Werner Herzog

    I’m thrilled to see The Act of Killing was shortlisted for Best Documentary! I remember talking to director Joshua Oppenheimer last August in my interview that he would be submitting his film to the Oscars. It’s one of my Top 10 films of 2013, and I can’t recommend it enough. Trust me, you’d never see a documentary like it before.

  • Overall I agree with pretty much ALL of the Best Actor nominations, though I haven’t seen Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyer’s Club (the only one I’ve missed so far), I really think he warranted the nom and perhaps the frontrunner of the pack. Of course I’d rather see Joaquin Phoenix amongst the nom, as I for one didn’t think too highly of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. Yes the physical comedy bit was hysterical but overall it’s not THAT different from other performances he did where he played an unhinged character. I think he’s done better performances in the past that might’ve merited the nom more than this one.
  • YES for Frozen in the Best Animated Feature category! It’s like last year’s Brave as my favorite animated film of the year, one I don’t mind seeing over and over again!
    Frozen_BestAnimOscars
  • I’ve seen all of the films in the Best Cinematography category except for Prisoners. Sorry Roger Deakins, I know this marks your 11th nomination, but I’d love to see Emmanuel Lubezki win this thing as his work for Gravity is absolutely superb.
  • I’m rooting for William Butler and Owen Pallett for their score for Her. I honestly didn’t think John Williams‘ work is all that great in The Book Thief , but I really respect his work as a composer so I’m not going to complain too much.

The Bad

  • As I’ve said above, I had been rooting for Joaquin Phoenix to get a nom 😦
  • EmmaThompson_SavingMrBanksOh and where is Emma Thompson?? Come on Academy! You’d rather give it to Meryl Streep for the 18th time?? Ok so she was good as the pill-popping, toxic-spewing matriarch of the Weston family in August: Osage County but there’s as much scenery-chewing in that performance than actually good acting. Thompson is more deserving to be included here! A bit of trivia here according to Josh the Oscars expert, whilst this is Meryl Streep’s 18th nomination, it would’ve been Emma Thompson’s FIRST nomination in 18 years 😦
  •  Hoyte Van Hoytema is robbed for his amazing cinematography work in Her. Seriously, it’s one of the most enchanting visual storytelling I’ve seen in a long while that enhances the story so much. I found this article talking about Hoytema’s process of capturing the right mood for Jonze’s film, “Van Hoytema used an array of glass that would allow him to capture the intimacy of the characters’ relationship, as well as the physicality of light, something the cinematographer says was integral to the character Samantha’s experiences of seeing things for the first time. I was literally in awe and mesmerized by the distinctive look of the film as I was watching it, more so than any other film nominated in this category.
  • Speaking of being robbed, seriously, where is Daniel Brühl??! Yeah I know he’s probably going to lose to Jared Leto, I mean without seeing the performance, if I were a betting woman I’d put my money on Leto. But at the very least Brühl should’ve been in the running. Even Niki Lauda himself would’ve vouched for him as he wasn’t simply imitating the F1 star with his fantastic performance. Jonah Hill‘s flashy performance is sooo overrated it’s not even funny! Heck, I’d rather see Will Forte get a nomination instead of him as he was pretty darn good in his first dramatic role in Nebraska. No scenery-chewing necessary.
  • WOW, no love at all for Lee Daniels’ The Butler?? I thought it was a solid drama, even better than Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom which I’m not surprised nor bummed it didn’t get a nomination. Hmmm, I wonder if The Weinstein Company’s snafu over the title could’ve been one of the reasons?

The WTF

I think most people who care about the Oscars are likely to care as much about who gets snubbed than those who got in. Some of them I’ve mentioned above but these list are dedicated for the dishonor of the award season. Once again, look no further than the Directing category…

  • Last year the *honors* went to Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow for being snubbed for ARGO and Zero Dark Thirty respectively. This year it’s Paul Greengrass! His excellent thriller Captain Phillips made the Best Picture list but he’s not amongst Best Director noms. Heh, good thing the American Cinema Editors recognized his work, he’s to be awarded its filmmaker of the year award on February 7 (per Variety).
    HanksGreengrass_OscarSnub
  • Speaking of the Captain, neither is Tom Hanks! I’d rather see Hanks get in than Leo personally, yes even at Joaquin Phoenix’s expense I would not have minded as much. In the same camp is Robert Redford, who everyone seems to have been praising, but I haven’t seen All Is Lost so I can’t say.
    ///
  • As for the rest of the acting snubs, according to Indiewire, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Daniel Bruhl all got nods from SAG, BAFTA, the Globes and the Critics Choice. To get all four of those and still miss out on Oscar is a very rare occasion.
  • Sad to see one of my favorite songs of the year Young and Beautiful got overlooked again! It’s such a gorgeous song… here I’m putting this again though I had posted it in my Music Break post:


  • So the F1 thriller/drama RUSH was pretty much left out of the track all together. I’m not as bummed about Ron Howard not getting a nod than not seeing Daniel Brühl, as I’ve mentioned above. He’s far better than both Bradley Cooper AND Jonah Hill!
  • OscarIsaac_OscarSnubNow, I wouldn’t have put Inside Llewyn Davis amongst Best Picture nominees, but Oscar Isaac should’ve been in the running for Best Actor! He’s an incredible actor who’s proven his talents many times before and I was hoping this would’ve been his real big break! His name IS Oscar AND capable of Oscar-worthy performances, heck he should’ve won one by now!
  • Another snub for Inside Llewyn Davis is in the Best Score and Best Song category! Man, I thought the music is phenomenal, certainly my favorite part of the film aside from Isaac’s performance.
  • Lastly, I quite enjoyed American Hustle but truthfully, I don’t know if it’s THAT good to lead the nomination pack with 10 nominations (tied with the far more deserving Gravity?!) I sure hope Jennifer Lawrence won’t win Best Supporting category.

    Yes I know it’s perhaps more far-fetched than the premise of Her, but I’d have liked to see Scarlett Johansson getting a surprise nod for her amazing voice work as the OS Samantha. It’s so integral to the success of the film. But oh well, since she’s not even in the running, I’m rooting for Lupita Nyong’o. My second preference: June Squibb.


The 86th Academy Awards will air March 2 from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, it’ll be shown live on ABC.


Well, that’s my reaction to the 2014 nominations. What are your Oscars-related delights and gripes?

The Act of Killing review and Interview with director Joshua Oppenheimer

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Before I review this film, I think it’s important to give a bit of background on how I came to know about this film. I first heard of it from an Indonesian friend of mine when I went back to Jakarta last December. At the time I hadn’t even heard of the film, but she said it was about the events in 1965, when the Indonesian government led by the first president Sukarno was overthrown in a military coup. Every Indonesian in my generation was subjected to brainwashing by the Suharto regime that the communist party (PKI) is evil and that they pose a mortal threat. Every year we had to watch a propaganda film that’s broadcasted in every single TV network so there’s no way we could’ve escaped it, whilst there’s not a single mention of this brutal massacre anywhere in our history books.

What this film exposes is that the new military dictatorship basically used any means at their disposal to get rid of anyone presumed to have any association with the communist movement. The killings resulted in one of the most brutal genocide in history, with nearly a million people slaughtered within a year. The Act of Killing is a documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish. It’s obvious some of the scenes they re-enacted are inspired by Hollywood films, as the perpetrators of the killings themselves admitted that they’re big fans of violent Brando and Pacino movies. In fact, some of the perpetrators who were ‘premans’ (street-level gangsters) used to be ticket scalpers preying on fans of Hollywood movies at their local cinemas.

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No doubt this is one of the most bizarre and frightening films I’ve ever seen, but also one of the most inventive. Most documentaries I’ve seen usually have talking heads or footage of the subject matter, but in this case, we not only get the first-hand account of the event, but the perpetrators themselves willingly re-enact the brutal events on camera. I enjoyed the fact that the dialog is in Indonesian, so that fact, along with the setting of film, gave me a sense of nostalgia. But the film is so disturbing I had to watch it in two parts. I’ve never felt so many conflicting emotions running through me as I’m watching it, and even days later, it’s all I could think about.

The documentary is so well-crafted as it really transported me to another realm. Director Joshua Oppenheimer spent nearly a decade working on this film, which grew out of another project he was working on in Indonesia [more on that in the interview below]. The Texas-born filmmaker [who currently resides in Copenhagen] had been fluent in Indonesian whilst filming this (you could hear him speaking Bahasa Indonesia to the actors in the film), and it’s apparent that he cares very deeply about the story. I’m amazed at how candid the former death squad leaders were in revealing the acts of killings they did four decades ago, down to the most gruesome details, both in words and in the form of the various re-enactments. It’s interesting that in some of the scenes they’re playing the ‘victim’ of the torture and execution. At one point Anwar said to Joshua that perhaps he could feel what his victims felt when they were subjected to such horrifying terror, but the director wisely but politely rebuked him. Obviously he could never felt what his victims felt, given that what Anwar took part in was only fiction, not the real deal.

The word ‘amusing’ perhaps isn’t what you’d expect in a documentary about mass killings… yet the re-enactments that were inspired by various Hollywood genres ranging from Cowboy movies, crime drama, and bizarre musical numbers where a member of Indonesian paramilitary Pemuda Pancasila was dressed in an ornate drag costume. Some of the scenes are actually funny, I guess maybe because they’re speaking in my native tongue I was able to pick up some of the gestures/jokes that might’ve been lost to non-Indo speakers. Yet I found myself feeling guilty when I laughed at some of the scenarios, because obviously it’s revolting that these guys are in such good spirits and joking around whilst filming such horrific acts. It’s one thing when an actor has to act out a fictional violent film, but every scenes they depicted here are based on true acts of killing that they themselves performed to hundreds of thousand innocent victims.

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Adi (left) and Anwar being made-up for one of the re-enactment scenes

The film focuses mainly on two of the most notorious death squad leaders in North Sumatra, Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry. It’s interesting to note the different reactions between the two in how they cope with their past sins. Anwar seems somewhat remorseful and honest about being haunted by his past, in the form of nightmares and psychological torment, whilst Adi is more defiant and in denial about how his past doesn’t really affect him. There’s an absurd conversation between the two when they’re talking about seeing a shrink to help alleviate their psychological issues. Ahah yeah, as if THAT would help anyone escape their conscience! One of the most intriguing character in the film is Herman, who’s dressed in drag for a good part of the film. He wasn’t actually involved in the massacre at the time as he was only about 10 years old then, but he played a prominent part in this film. His evolution throughout the film is striking as he starts out as someone who greatly admires his friend Anwar. As the film progresses, it’s as if his eyes were opened to the reality of evil that he’s somehow being shielded from all his life.

Despite all the grisly depictions, the most affecting scenes to me are surprisingly those when no words are spoken. Whether it’s a scene of Herman playing drums while wailing and screaming uncontrollably, or the deafeningly quiet moment when Anwar simply stops at the stairway as he’s going down from the rooftop where a lot of the killings happened. Both scenes rendered me speechless. But really, there are too many breathtaking moments to mention in this film. It’s truly a film one must experience, I don’t think my review does it justice as it barely scratch the surface of the depth of what’s being depicted on screen. Harrowing, shocking, and at times unbearable to watch… but it’s also surprisingly poetic and beautiful. There are few films out there that I’d call essential viewing, but I think this documentary is one of them. I’m not just saying that because it pertains the darkest history of my homeland, but as Joshua told me during the interview, this incident isn’t just about Indonesia, but it speaks volumes about our humanity and what we humans are capable of.

I hope you’d check it out when it’s out in your area or available to rent. Be sure to seek out the 159-min director cut whenever possible. I’m sincerely hoping that The Act of Killing would get a nod for Best Documentary at the Oscars, as well as other kudos come award season.

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Below is my interview with Joshua Oppenheimer. He was so gracious when we met at the lobby of W Hotel, and when I greeted him in Indonesian, he immediately started speaking Bahasa Indonesia to me so he’s obviously still quite fluent in my native language. As we sat down, he told me that I was the very first English-language interviewer who’s Indonesian. What an honor that is indeed!

Josh, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU so much for taking the time in speaking with me. Terima kasih seribu! 😀

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Photo courtesy of MPR

Please note that I had to break up the interview clips to make it more ‘digestible,’ but I did not edit anything that was being said. Click on the arrow to take a listen.

What makes you interested in this story about Indonesian history as an American?

This is not a story about Indonesian… this is a story about all of us. It’s how we as human beings commit evil, how we tell stories to justify… to lie to ourselves … So it’s not some distant reality. It’s the underbelly of our reality.

My father’s family and my step-mother’s family narrowly escaped the Holocaust. I grew up with the slogan, in the name of all culture, to prevent these things from happening.

How the film of The Act of Killing come about… which is a direct result from making ‘The Globalization Tapes’ documentary in 2001/2002:

Please come back and make a film about what happened in 1965… and about the oppression, fear, corruption, and impunity that was based on that.

The challenges in getting this film made:

The killing was the most important thing they [the perpetrators] have ever done in their whole life… and the basis for any career they’d ever have … What the perpetrators were boasting and telling things that was far more incriminating than anything the survivors could’ve said.

I felt like I’ve wandered into Germany, forty years after the Holocaust and somehow the Nazi’s still in power. And yet I recognize it’s a horrible situation, an important situation, but it’s not an unusual situation.

How did the re-enactments in the film come to be? Was it the perpetrators’ idea?

It grew organically… the whole method was a response to their openness.

When the audience see the perpetrators’ boasting, they’ll understand why we’re so afraid and the nature of this whole regime.

Photo courtesy of the AV Club
Photo courtesy of the AV Club

Filming the perpetrators… and their reaction about being the subjects of this film

Anwar was the 41st death squad member that I filmed. All of them were open and boastful, and they wanted to take me to the places they killed and show me how they did it. I was trying to understand what is the function of this openness… why and for whom are they so open?

What do you want people to get out of seeing this film?

I want the audience to see for one second… I want them to recognize a small part of themselves in Anwar. Because the moment you do that, the whole fantasy that the world is divided up between good guys and bad guys has to collapse… in that moment you can recognize that we’re much closer to these perpetrators than we’d like to think.

* The t-shirt Josh is referring to here is the $6 t-shirt he got from H&M that was made in Bangladesh, where the factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers made news back in April.

How did Werner Herzog become exec producer of this film?

Werner saw the director’s cut and said ‘do not cut this.’ But I’d be happy to watch cuts of the film, make sure you didn’t remove any ‘vital organs’ of the film.

It turns out that Joshua knew Herzog through one of the exec producers, British producer Andre Singer, has produced Herzog’s films in the past.

Did you get nightmares from filming… which part affects you the most?

It’s so irreversible what he’s done… Life is one way. That’s why we have to treat it with such care as something so precious, as we have only one chance.

The day after the interview, I attended a masterclass at Walker Art Center where Joshua did a 2-hour Q&A session about the film. I wish the recording had been available for me to link to, but I learned a bit more about the filmmaking process and how the film’s received in Indonesia, both by the perpetrators and the survivors of the victims of the massacre. If you see the end credits of the documentary, you’ll see that many of the names are listed as ‘anonymous.’ That’s because this film is such a controversial and risky endeavor for the people involved in making it. Even Joshua himself admitted that if he were to go back to Indonesia, he’s probably allowed in but not sure if he could get out safely. There are still powerful people who aren’t too keen that he made this film, nor did they ever thought this film would get such an International attention. I for one am thankful that Joshua made The Act of Killing and exposes the injustice and indescribable cruelty the perpetrators did. Even if they’d never get persecuted for war crimes, I sure hope some kind of justice will come out because of this.

Lastly, in response to my question about how the victims’ survivors respond to the film, Joshua revealed that a follow-up film is in the works on that topic. No details are available yet but for sure I’ll be on the lookout for that.


Thoughts on The Act of Killing, either the review and the interview? If you’ve seen the film, I’d love to hear what you think.

Five for the Fifth: AUGUST 2013 Edition

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Hello folks, welcome to the 8th Five for the Fifth of the year!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item, observation, trailer, actor/director spotlight, 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. August 5th is Neil Armstrong‘s birthday. The first man on the moon would’ve been 82 today. When he died almost exactly a year ago on August 25 (see my music-themed tribute here), some articles (like this one) reported on an [inevitable] biopic on his life. Not sure what have become of that project, which is baffling to me as Hollywood LOVES biopics, and Armstrong seems to have a story worth telling, aside from his accomplishments in space engineering.

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This Guardian article from 2008 had some casting ideas, but I think some of those might be moot at this point. One name they threw out was Viggo Mortensen, which would be awesome, even if at 54 he’s too old to play Armstrong when he first landed on the moon, which was 38.

Thoughts on this project? Who do you think would be a good fit to play Neil Armstrong?


2.  In my June Five for the Fifth, I mentioned about 2 Guns in my question about Mark Wahlberg. Well, that movie tops box office this weekend with $27 mil. Not bad considering its budget is only $61 mil. I guess both Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg can open a movie on their own, so combine the two together, I’m not surprised the film does well.

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The movie is more of a rental to me though. Terrence gave it a 3 out 5 stars, so it’s not horrible, but not something I have to see on the big screen. I quite like buddy action flicks though, that’s a tried-and-true genre that relies on the charm and chemistry of the cast. Some of my fave buddy action/comedy flicks are Lethal Weapons, Tango & Cash, The Other Guys, Hot Fuzz, and most recently, 21 Jump Street.

How about you, what are YOUR favorite buddy action flicks?


3. Some of you who’ve read my July Recap knows that The Act of Killing documentary is my Movie of the Month. I’m still mulling it over after seeing it last week.

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After chatting with the filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer and attending his Q&A at Walker Art Center this weekend, I have a better appreciation of the filmmaking process, though it’s certainly a film one would be hard pressed to comprehend. I will post my review and interview w/ Joshua later this week, but here’s the trailer:

So far the film has garnered all kinds of accolades and awards from all over the world. It’s Rotten Tomatoes rating is currently 97%, the summary reads like this: Raw, terrifying, and painfully difficult to watch, The Act of Killing offers a haunting testament to the edifying, confrontational power of documentary cinema. Trust me, it’s no hyperbole and it’s easily THE most haunting documentary I’ve ever seen, and I’m not saying that because the subject matter focuses on my homeland Indonesia. I can’t recommend this enough folks, especially if you like history or simply compelling stories that’s told in an inventive way. I certainly hope it’d be nominated for an Academy Awards next year.

Speaking of recommendations, what has been the most memorable documentary you saw in the last 12 months?


ChrisEvans_incar4. Actors venturing into directing films are nothing new. We’ve certainly seen some movie stars garnering accolades for directing AND starring in their films (George Clooney, Ben Affleck, etc.), and now Chris Evans is attempting to do just that. Per SlashFilm, the Captain America star reportedly will direct and star in a romantic drama called 1:30 Train. Here’s the initial plot of the film:

Two strangers who meet in Manhattan and spend one night together as the conflicts in their own lives become the basis for their exploration of each other and themselves.”

Some sites are describing it as being in the vein of Richard Linklaters’ Before Sunrise, which intrigues me, Hollywood needs more compelling romantic dramas instead of rom-coms. Now, I’m warming up to Evans as an actor, I mean he’s not a stellar actor by any means but I like that he tries to mix up different genres. He’s fitting in an apocalypse thriller Snowpiercer (hopefully it’ll get a US release date soon), and now this, in between his Avengers gig. Curious who’d be cast as the love interest, but in any case, I wish him the best of luck on this project!

What do you think of Chris Evans’ directorial debut idea? Does the film appeal to you?


5. Now, I know it’s only August, nominations isn’t going to start for another four months. But hey, since they’ve already announced that Ellen DeGeneres will host the Oscars next year (which is awesome as she’s FUNNY without being mean-spirited!), I think it’s fair game to talk about Oscar predictions… or wish list.

The one film that’s a shoo-in come award season is Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years A Slave. 

12 YEARS A SLAVE is based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.  Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity.  In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.

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The cast is incredible, but I’m especially thrilled to see Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead role!! I’ve been championing the talented Brit for years, he was on my list of foreign actors to watch (along with his co-star Michael Fassbender!). I’m sincerely hoping that this film would come to Twin Cities Film Fest in October (ahead of its limited release on December 27), as MN-native Bill Pohlad is one of the film’s producers.

Oh man, I cried just watching the trailer! I better pack a box of tissue when I watch the film. I LOVE that Benedict Cumberbatch is in this as well, this is the second time he’s doing a slavery-themed film, the first one was Amazing Grace, which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen yet.

Our resident Oscar expert Josh @ Classicblanca has put up his Oscar predictions last week, and I’m thrilled to see he’s predicting Ejiofor under the Best Actor noms. I’d love to see Fassy get a nom in Best Supporting Actor category too, since he was overlooked last year, but I REALLY want Ejiofor to finally get his dues after years of memorable, supporting performances. I know that after seeing him in Endgame, he’s definitely a capable leading man.

P.S. In the Best Actress category, I’d love to Cate Blanchett get a nom as well. I mean, just from seeing a trailer and clip of Blue Jasmine, she’s certainly in top form being the chameleon actor that she is!

Well, now my last question to you is: Which actor (or actress) would you love to getting a nomination come award season?


That’s it for the AUGUST 2013 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these subjects.

JULY Movie Watching Recap and Movie of the Month

MonthlyWatchingRecap_July

Happy August everybody! I missed June’s recap because it was such a whirlwind month for me, but it’s back now!

Whoah, it’s the last month of the year before we get to the ‘–ber’ month (or brrrrrr month if you’re in Minnesota!)… and that also means the end of Blockbuster Movies is near. I think there are only a couple of Summer movies left, Smurfs 2 this weekend, and We’re The Millers & Elysium next weekend.

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

New-to-me Films Watched:

ACatinParis

A Cat in Paris (2010)

PacRim

Pacific Rim

DespicableMe2

Despicable Me

Tremors

Tremors

RED2RED 2

TheWolverine

The Wolverine

WereTheMillers

We’re The Millers (review next week)

ActOfKilling

The Act of Killing (2012)


Rewatches:

MansfieldPark1999

Mansfield Park

XMen

X-Men (2000)

BatmanYearOne

Batman: Year One

BatmanBegins

Batman Begins

VicarsOfDibley_ChristmasSpecial

The Vicars of Dibley (Christmas Special)

July seems to have gone by pretty quickly. I didn’t see any film the first weekend of July, but I guess I was able to see quite a bit of movies in about three weeks. The surprise film of the month for me has been Pacific Rim, which I saw twice in a month, with The Wolverine being the most disappointing.


Movie of the Month:

JulyMovie_TheActOfKilling

I was going to put down Pac Rim as movie of the month but that was before I saw this film.

The Act of Killing is a chilling documentary that recounts the mass-killings in 1965, which is the darkest moments in my homeland Indonesia’s history. I saw this a couple of nights ago and well, all the adjectives you’ve probably heard about this film: harrowing, disturbing, shocking, brutal, mind-blowing, etc. are no hyperbole. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before and one that I won’t soon forget.

This is what Werner Herzog, who was one of the producers of the film, said about it:

“I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, & frightening in at least a decade.”

I’ll be interviewing director Joshua Oppenheimer tomorrow afternoon, so stay tuned for my review and the interview post next week!


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