Action/Comedy Weekend – The Living Daylights, The IT Crowd & Dredd

MLKdayHappy Martin Luther King Jr Day!

It’s cool that it also happens to be Obama’s second presidential inauguration day. I posted two MLK-related movie posts [here and here] two years in a row to celebrate our hero of the civil rights movement. I don’t know if any of those films are going to be made anytime soon. I certainly hope so, I’d love to see a proper biopic made on Mr. King.

Well, this weekend I didn’t go to the movies, apart from The Last Stand screening I went to last week. Too bad that it bombed, I thought it was a fun action flick. I wasn’t expecting it to win the box office, but at the very least it’d make it to the top 5. In any case, it’s a big weekend for Jessica Chastain with TWO of her movies at number 1 and 2 at the box office. I don’t think I’ll be seeing Mama but nice to see Zero Dark Thirty is still gaining momentum.

Well, it’s been quite an action/comedy-filled week for me. Here’s a breakdown of what I saw:

The Living Daylights (1987)

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[Poster courtesy of DeviantArt – LOVE it!]

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this movie but I love it more every single time… and Timothy Dalton is the main reason for it. Every time I watch his Bond movie it’s a bittersweet moment as I miss that third outing I wish he had done… I often imagine what it’d be like to have a Skyfall-quality production with him in the role. Oh be still my heart! I’ve already posted a review of this movie a couple of years ago but I plan on doing a proper appreciation post for The Living Daylights to celebrate its Blu-ray Amazon release next month! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy 😀
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The IT Crowd (BBC sitcom, 2006-2010)

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Thanks to all who recommended this sit-com to me when I mentioned Chris O’Dowd on this ‘discovery’ post! O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson are so hilarious! The show is about a ragtag group of tech support workers who works at the basement at a large corporation. It’s classic, off-the-wall British humor which I love and everyone is just hysterically funny, even the supporting cast: the CEO Denholm (Christopher Morris) and Richmond (Noel Fielding whom I’ve just found out from Novia from the Mighty Boosh show). I’ve watched about six episodes so far on Season 1, so a lot of catching up to do as there are four years worth of stuff to watch. I’ll never get tired of Roy [or his recording] answer the phone with:

Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?


Dredd (2012)

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In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.

I LOVE Karl Urban but I knew I can’t handle this movie on the big screen, let alone watch in 3D! Seriously, this movie is so gory I’d probably pass out. It’s one of the most violent movies I have ever seen, I think I had my eyes closed a couple dozen times, at least. My hubby actually cued me when the really gruesome stuff was on as he knew it’ll give me nightmares. The movie is only 95 minutes long, though with all that slo-mo [no, I don’t mean the drug but the film-making style], it’s probably only an hour long ahah. Boy, but was it intense. Right from the opening sequence when Dredd was tailing a gang of criminals using the banned substance, the action rarely let up.

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This is quite a different movie I expected from English director Pete Travis, whose credit include Endgame and BBC miniseries The Jury [which featured one of my favorite Gerry Butler roles]. Dredd is super violent, bloody and gruesome, but yet the style & sfx is quite distinctive. I question whether it’s necessary for it to be so gory though, some of it could’ve been toned down a bit and perhaps still achieve the desired effect. I mean, I get that they’re trying to portray this tarnished, grim dystopian world, but at times the violence seems to have be done as pure shock value.

That said, I thought the script by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) is pretty good, it’s not unnecessarily convoluted, plus the self-satirical humor actually works. Yeah, I wish I could see more of Karl Urban’s gorgeous face, but y’know what, he’s VERY good in this role. He’s able to somehow act with his voice and mouth alone, and partnering him with a rookie psychic Anderson (a blond Olivia Thirlby) is brilliant as it brings a level of humanity to his robot-like persona. Stunning Lena Heady as the drug lord Ma-Ma is even more bad ass than 300‘s Queen Gorgo, sporting a huge scar on her cheek, she looks like a sadistic mutant.

The movie’s definitely not for the squeamish [and I’m one of them], but I’m glad I gave it a shot. It’s a decidedly simple story but the execution [pun intended] hits the bulls eye. I never read the comics but I read some reviews that this pleased die-hard comic fans. Well, it might’ve won over new ones, too!


Well, that’s my weekend viewings. Did you see anything good?

Musings on V-for-Vendetta: The Art of Acting Beneath a Mask

I just re-watched V for Vendetta this past weekend. I must’ve dozed off the first time around as I forgot much about the movie’s plot.

Set in a dystopian future of Great Britain ruled by a fascist government, it’s a fascinating story as the ‘hero’ is a quintessential terrorist. Morally ambiguous? That’s putting it mildly. Call him a masked vigilante, a freedom fighter, but it’s all semantics really. Let’s face it, the shadowy figure who calls himself ‘V’ is a radical extremist. Heck, he even wears a creepy-looking Guy Fawkes mask, the 17th-century British anarchist who failed to destroy the House of Parliament back in 1605. But contrast him with the Hitler-like Chancellor Sutler (John Hurt), it’s hard not to root for the guy. Natalie Portman plays the movie’s protagonist Evey Hammond, who’s rescued by V from a group of crooked policemen one fateful night. She ends up uncovering the truth about his mysterious background, as well as her own, and emerges as V’s unlikely ally in the culmination of his plot to bring down the totalitarian government.

Now, I’m not about to discuss the movie’s controversial nature. Politics aside, the movie really works as an art form, it’s beautifully made, well-written (check out V’s poetic introduction made into a kinetic typography clip at the end of the post) and impeccably acted, especially by the man under the mask, Australian actor Hugo Weaving. From start to finish, we didn’t get to see the actor’s face for even a second, and that ceramic mask means not one iota of facial movement was visible. The advantage of that is I became fully immersed in the tragic character, and often forgot there was an actor beneath that straight ebony hair and perfectly-cut black ‘uniform.’  The absence of facial expression is more than made up by the way the character expressed himself with even the tiniest movement: the way he walks, his gestures, and the manner of speaking. So Weaving pretty much acted with his body language and that signature deep voice of his, which can be all commanding, bone-chilling, and soothing depending on the circumstances.

Weaving has played many iconic roles before, he’s Neo’s nemesis Agent Smith in The Matrix and the elven Lord Elrond in The Lord of the Rings. But he’s equally compelling in small indie roles: playing a blind photographer in Proof (with a young Russell Crowe) and a desperate junkie in Little Fish with Cate Blanchett (which I had the privilege to see at 2005 TIFF). Yet I think his performance as V stands to be one of his best. I particularly love the dancing scene below, which showcased the vigilante’s tender side.

Interestingly enough, that same night I read this Karl Urban interview in ScreenRant, where he will be stepping into what Mr. Weaving has done remarkably well in this movie, that is acting beneath the Judge Dredd‘s helmet for the upcoming comic-book adaptation. According to that article, Urban appears to understand the importance of Dredd’s helmet and will be leaving his face covered for the duration of the film’s running time – but don’t expect he’ll merely rely on his tough-guy jawline for two hours.

“You’re taught as an actor that if you take away the eyes you have to think about what you’re left with – there’s the voice; there’s body language. How a character does what he does speaks volumes. So those are the tools I will have to employ.” – Urban is quoted as saying.

Judging from that statement, looks like Urban will do well in this role, though of course I would wish he’d play more roles where I could see his handsome face. [updated 4-2013, now that I have seen Dredd, check out my review]

Anyway, here’s the kinetic typography clip I mentioned above:


Any additional thoughts you’d like to add about the movie? Do share in the comments section below.

Random assortment of movie musings and news: August Edition

Happy Wednesday everyone! Well, I’ve got a few things to blog about so let’s just get to ’em shall we?

  • I got a free advanced screening to see RED yesterday, thanks to my hubby’s co-worker. It’s either this or The Last Exorcism, hiiih no way I’d see that one even if someone paid me! I’ve only been to a free screening twice in my life, and with those things you’ve got to arrive early. Good thing I did as the place was quite packed, but luckily I got a pretty good seat. Well anyway, the movie itself was pretty good, from the trailer I expected it to be bombastic, mischievous and fun. Well, that’s exactly what I got. I’ll review it later this week, but for now let me just confess that I think I’ve got a crush on Karl Urban!
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  • I first noticed the tall, dark and handsome New Zealander in The Lord of the Rings 2 & 3 as Eomer. He also impressed me as Jason Bourne’s nemesis in Bourne Supremacy (that car chase was killer!), and also as McCoy in the latest film version of Star Trek. So he’s been on my radar for a while but man, he looks absolutely dashing and dynamic as a CIA officer in RED. Every scene frames his face and his moves perfectly. As he’s running around in his suit and tie, even when he’s all bloodied up from his fight with Bruce Willis, my brain kept thinking: Bond! I know I’ve suggested a few Brits for the role, but scrap that, Urban is my top choice now. He’s got the height (6’1″), the looks and the moves to play the super spy, and at 38, he’s the right age, too! Oh, and as Willis’ character pointed out, he’s got cute hair, too. I know that’s not a necessity by any means, but hey it can’t hurt. I mean, I love Craig’s Bond, but when he emerged from the water in his Speedo in Casino Royale, I wasn’t looking at his buff physique so much as I was distracted by counting how many strands protruding from his head 😀

    Urban recently nabbed a lead role in the superhero flick Judge Dredd. I didn’t know anything about it, but from what I’ve read it sounds like it’s going to be a big departure from Stallone’s version. The producers told Empire that it’ll be “… a very hard, R-rated, gritty, realistic movie… it’s being directed by Pete Travis, we’re shooting with the people who did District 9…” It all sounds well and good, but too bad Urban’s gorgeous mug will be covered by that ginormous helmet 😦 It’s a good start though, hopefully we get to see more of this awesome actor in leading roles of various genres.
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  • Butler as Italian-American goalie Frank Borghi

    Speaking of awesome, Gerry Butler is starring in a soccer movie Slide that was originally meant to be a baseball movie. The LA Times blog (via Castor’s weekly news) stated that the project “… which was originally titled Confessions of a Little League Coach, is a character comedy that centers on a troubled father trying to make up for lost time by coaching his son’s team — but who finds himself in hot water after some of the local mothers take a little too much of a shine to him (and he to them).” Italian director Gabriele Muccino (Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness) is to helm the project and Butler will once again produce the movie under his production company Evil Twins.
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    I quite like the premise, sounds like he’ll have the chance to show both his dramatic and comedic side, and his soccer skills, too I might add. This isn’t the the first time Butler’s been in a soccer flick. He was in a small indie Miracle Match (or The Game of Their Lives), which was based on a true story of how the US soccer team beat England 1 – 0 against all odds in 1950. I also think GB is good at playing a parent, despite having no family of his own in real life. The last time he played a father figure to a young son was in the wonderful gem Dear Frankie. I love the fact that he continues to mix things up: he’s playing a Shakespeare nemesis in Coriolanus and an American preacher in Machine Gun Preacher next, so it’ll be nice to see his funny side again in this one.
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  • Last but not least, the movie I’m excited about The Tourist just got moved up from February 2011 to December 10th of this year. You can read more details about the Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp’s project in this post.
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    This article suggests that it might boost its chances in the Oscar race. Be that as it may, I’m just excited to see two of my favorite under-appreciated Brits Rufus Sewell and Timothy Dalton. I’m still not sure what roles they’re playing, but no matter, I know they’ll be terrific. The date change means that the film’s main competition will now be The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Fighter starring Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg. I’m looking forward to the latter even though I’m not a boxing fan. I’m more curious to see Bale’s performance, which has been buzzed as being Oscar-worthy. Well, he’s certainly delivered that many times before, it’s just a matter of finally getting the recognition he deserves!

Well there you go, peeps. Any thoughts about any of this topic (especially curious about what you think about Urban as Bond), please chime in below.