Weekend Roundup: Netflix’s Daredevil + MSPIFF 2015 Reviews: Secrets of War & The Dinkytown Uprising

Happy Monday everyone!

So it’s been a pretty packed weekend for me but thankfully the weather is practically Summer-like, which definitely adds an extra spring in my step. It’s the opening weekend of MSPIFF too, so I’ve watched a couple of films including Clouds of Sils Maria which was nominated for a Cannes’ Palme d’Or and a Best Supporting Actress win for Kristen Stewart. My review of it will be up tomorrow, but today we have two film fest reviews from Josh. But before we get to that, I just want to give my brief thoughts on Netflix Original Series Daredevil that premiered this weekend:
NetflixDaredevilI actually never saw the Ben Affleck version, but even from the trailer/clips I could surmise that it’s awful indeed. I have to admit that initially I was skeptical of Charlie Cox casting, as he’s such a cute face, and that isn’t exactly a glowing recommendation when you want to play a bad-ass vigilante. But y’know what, right from the get go, my doubts were erased. The British actor is quite convincing both as the blind lawyer + the vigilante.

My hubby & I have only seen 4/13 episodes so far but boy, this is definitely NOT a PG-rated Marvel adaptation. The words ‘dark & gritty’ have been used to describe a lot of stuff but it’s definitely no hyperbole when it comes to this show. In fact, it’s hyper-violent and bloody, I had to avert my eyes during the last 5 minutes of episode 4! But I like the meticulous & slo-burn pacing, the benefit of releasing all the episodes at once is that each episode doesn’t have to be ‘all-action-all-the-time’ and we actually get some character development by showing flashbacks of Matt Murdoch’s past, as well as more time with the secondary characters such as Matt’s BFF & partner in law Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). They also have two strong female characters, Karen & Claire (Deborah Ann Woll & Rosario Dawson, respectively). I like both of them in the role, especially Dawson who’s always effortlessly appealing. But one thing for sure, people who love R-rated action and fantastically-choreographed fight scenes would NOT be disappointed.

So in short, I’ll definitely keep watching! I might do a review once we get through all 13 episodes. How about you? Did you see it?


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Secrets of War (Oorlogsgeheimen)

SecretsofWarFusing two well-known stories and thereby hitting dual-genre notes, Secrets of War is a quality picture. The first, and more successful, of the film’s two stories: the ways a friendship between two newly-adolescent Dutch boys, Tuur (Maas Bronkhuyzen) and Lambert (Joes Brauers), is tested, first by a girl, Maartje (Pippa Allen), they both like, and then by World War Two, something neither child initially understands. The second story, an anti-war treatise, is slightly less successful than the first, but it still relates the ways war tears apart uninvolved lives. 

All three young actors are very good, especially Allen who convincingly shows us her secrets long before the screenplay has her tell them to us. But Secrets of War’s scene stealer is Loek Peters, who plays Tuur’s father. Peters (and the other grown-ups in Tuur’s family) is the vehicle through which director Dennis Bots and writer Karin van Holst Pellekaan show the tragedies of World War Two, but they never let him speak all that much, which means he has to communicate the gravity of the situation non-verbally. Thankfully, he does just that.

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Pellekaan’s screenplay and Bots’ direction is excellent for the first three-fourths of film, but it slips a little in the final act, when events are rushed, perhaps in an effort to speed to conclusion. A slower, more character-driven approach to the finale would have cemented the picture’s emotion and thereby helped deliver its themes.

The missteps near the end of Secrets of War do not ruin the film, however. It is still well worth viewing.

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The Dinkytown Uprising 

A documentary about a lengthy 1970’s neighborhood protest against a Red Barn fast-food restaurant entering a beloved Minneapolis community, The Dinkytown Uprising is interesting and entertaining. Interspersing modern interviews of former protestors with on-the-scene 1970 video showing the actual rallies, the film effectively informs the viewer about the protests, the protestors, and their links to the Vietnam War. It makes us care about each of the protestors, as well, ensuring that we remain interested throughout.

DinkytownUprising2 The Dinkytown Uprising is, in other words, a good film.

But it isn’t perfect, mostly because director Al Milgrom’s secondary goal is to connect the 1970 Dinkytown protests with modern efforts to preserve the historic neighborhood. More than that, it seems Milgrom wants us to agree that the neighborhood should be protected. Here he stumbles, mostly because he never draws a direct link between the picture’s informative intent and its persuasive efforts. The director might have benefited from a closer look at larger corporations’ modern efforts to enter the neighborhood. Given that he doesn’t do so, the few times he intimates concern for the community, it feels out of place with the rest of the film’s content.

DinkytownUprising1Still, while this flaw is significant, it is not debilitating. The skill with which Milgrom combines interviews, narration, and found footage is impressive. And overall, his picture succeeds.

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So what did you watch this weekend? Thoughts on Daredevil or any of these films?

MSPIFF 2015 is here once again! April 9-25: 17 days, 250+ films!

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The Film Society kicked off the 2015 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival last Thursday with the Opening Presentation, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (actor Cory Peterson attending). This hilarious Swedish comedy, the highest grossing film in the country’s history, launches 17 days of more than 250 remarkable films, visiting filmmakers, exciting parties, and enlightening panel discussions.

I’ve said this before but really, I’m fortunate to live in a city that has TWO film festivals, one in Spring and the other (TCFF) in Autumn, two of my favorite seasons! Founded in 1962, The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul is Minnesota’s foremost film exhibition organization, and a 501(c)(3) non-profit. We bring the best of international and independent film to Minnesota audiences through the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, numerous niche film festivals and series, and nightly programming 365-days a year.

Check out the awesome MSPIFF official trailer:

One of the exciting 2015 programs of MSPIFF is that the Women and Film program, featuring 40+ films under that category/genre.

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is dedicated to representing the work of women filmmakers as a critical part of its programming. Look for the Women and Film tag as you decide what to see at the 2015 Festival. It identifies the outstanding films by women directors and related events that are part of the Festival’s program this year.


Check out the full MSPIFF 2015 Schedule

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Photo courtesy of mspfilm.org

Last year’s opening night film, Amma Asante‘s period drama Belle, ended up being one of my top 10 films of 2014, and it’ll likely be one of my fave films of all time! I wonder which other films I’ll be seeing this year will also make my top 10 of the year. Unfortunately, this year I won’t have time to see as many films as I did last year, but I have Josh from JJames Reviews to help me out again like last year. So hopefully between the two of us, we’ll get to about a couple dozen films.

Here are a sampling of films we hope to catch in the next three weeks:

FEATURE FILMS

Clouds of Sils Maria
At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago, only this time she will take the role of the older woman. Seeking refuge in Sils Maria, a remote region of the Alps, to rehearse the play, she takes stock in her career and her unknown future with her young assistant. Director Olivier Assayas takes pleasure in being coy by with his two stars—Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart—as he knowingly layers references to their own lives and roller coaster careers.

USA | 124 min | English
Directed by: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz

The Center
Produced by Jonathan Demme and shot locally in St Paul, Charlie Griak’s atmospheric debut focuses on a vulnerable young man who falls into the trap of a cult-like group. Ryan is a recent college grad searching not only for a job but also for a meaning in life. When he comes across a self-help organization, simply known as The Center, with a charismatic leader, Ryan seems to have found what he has been looking for.

USA | 72 min | English
Directed by: Céline Sciamma
Starring: Matt Cici, Judd Einan, Ramon Pabon

The Connection
Inspired by true events, The Connection tells the story of real-life Marseilles magistrate Pierre Michel (played by Jean Dujardin from The Artist) and his relentless crusade to dismantle the most notorious drug smuggling operation in history: the French Connection. In his crosshairs is charismatic and wealthy kingpin, Gatean “Tany” Zampa (aka La French), who runs the largest underground heroin trade into the States. Shot entirely on 35mm, Cédric Jimenez’s The Connection is a throwback to a time when 70s Italian and American crime dramas reigned supreme.

France | 135 min | French
Directed by: Cédric Jimenez
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Ce´line Sallette

Girlhood (Bande de filles)
Oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of 3 free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to a new life. Director Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies,Tomboy) cements her cinematic expertise in exploring the many facets of young female identity with her most powerful film yet.

France | 112 min | French
Directed by: Charlie Griak
Starring: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamouh

El Critico
A playful yet heartfelt take on the rom-com genre, El Critico follows Victor Tellez, a world-weary Buenos Aires film critic who prefers to think in French and eschews romantic clichés…until he finds himself living one. Tellez drifts from screening to screening in search of cinematic perfection, casting judgment on filmmakers and their films with scathing incisiveness. But when a chance meeting throws him into the jarring world of gorgeous thrill-seeker Sofia, he starts to question his meticulous, intellectual routine and realizes there’s more to his story than he ever dreamed.

Argentina| 98 min | Spanish/French
Directed by: Hernán Guerschuny
Starring: Rafael Spregelburd, Dolores, Blanca Lewin

….

Marshland
True Detective, Spainsh-style! A series of brutal murders of adolescent girls in a remote and forgotten town bring together two disparate characters—both detectives in the homicide division—to investigate the cases. With deep divisions in their ideology, detectives Juan and Pedro must put aside their differences if they are to successfully hunt down a killer who for years has terrorized a community in the shadow of a general disregard for women rooted in a misogynistic past. Alberto Rodríguez paints a gritty noir portrait of rural Spain circa 1980, rich with style, ambience and character.

Spain | 105 min | Spanish
Directed by: Alberto Rodríguez
Starring: José Antonio Félez, Mercedes Gamero, Ricardo García Arrojo

Labyrinthus
Discovering a backpack containing a USB key and a strange old camera, 14 year-old Frikke unknowingly starts a computer game that uploads real children, animals, and objects from his world into a gigantic labyrinth in the gaming world. Ordinarily, Frikke is expert at computer games; but this one is real! Frikke’s avatar must help his friends, Nora and Marco, through the labyrinth, escape from the game’s evil creator, and break the code that will release them. At least one third of the action takes place in a CGI animated alternate reality; the rest in Ghent, Belgium. Frikke must find the connection between these two worlds, before its too late!

Netherlands | 95 min | Dutch
Directed by: Douglas Boswell
Starring: Spencer Bogaert, Emma Verlinden, Felix Maesschalck

Chagall-Mallevich
A story of love and passion, hatred and egotism, and the clash of huge creative personalities, Chagall – Malevich is based on real events that occurred during the time of Marc Chagall’s short-lived Vitebsk period (1917-18), a time in which he created an Academy of Modern Art inspired by dreams of a bright and beautiful future. More than 140 copies of paintings by Chagall and his brilliant colleague Kazimir Malevich were made for the film. Here, too, is the story of Chagall’s wife Bella and her selfless love for her husband. It’s a story further complicated by her former childhood friend and one-time suitor Naum, a bitter man who is now a Soviet Commissar.

Russia | 120 min | Russian
Directed by: Aleksandr Mitta
Starring: Leonid Bichevin, Anatoliy Belyy

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The Golden Era
Hong Kong master Ann Hui vividly brings the life of pioneering 20th century female novelist and poet Xiao Hong to the screen. Hui’s lavishly shot period piece shifts perspective, narrators, and time periods freely as it chronicles Xiao Hong’s struggles—an oppressive family, an arranged marriage, a fiery affair with fellow writer Xiao Jun, and her passion, compulsion and talent for writing—until her death at age 30 in 1942.

China/Hong Kong | 178min | Chinese (Mandarin)
Directed by: Ann Hui
Starring: Tang Wei, Feng Shao Feng

To Life! (Auf Das Leben!)
Fate has taken its toll on the aging cabaret singer Ruth and the young but terminally-ill Jonas. Yet despite their great age difference and their entirely opposite experiences in life, they form an intense bond and give each other a reason and purpose to live.

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Germany | 90 min | German
Directed by: Uwe Janson
Starring: Hannelore Elsner, Max Riemelt, Sharon Brauner

Gods
Riveting, fast paced, compelling and filled with humor, Gods is the story of the rebel cardiac surgeon, Zbigniew Religa, who performed the first successful heart transplant in Soviet controlled Poland in 1984. With the support of his renegade medical team, he battled everyone including fellow doctors, the communist bureaucracy and a shocked religious community, Religa, to make history and become a national hero.

Poland | 120 min | Polish
Directed by: Lukasz Palkowski

Secrets of War
In a Nazi-occupied Dutch village that’s slowly changing, 12 year-olds Tuur and Lambert initially incorporate the war into their childhood games. Until the boys begin to question what they see: a toy appearing out of a passing train; traces of people’s belongings in the underground caves; secretive parents. Befriending Maartje, a new girl in town, the boys’ friendship is tested when they learn a powerful secret of their own and the reality of war changes their childhoods forever.

Netherlands | 95 min | Dutch
Directed by: Dennis Bots
Starring: Maas Bronkhuyzen, Joes Brauers, Pippa Allen

… 

DOCUMENTARIES

The Dinkytown Uprising
The year is 1970 and the disastrous Vietnam War keeps escalating. Protests are erupting all over U.S. campuses. But in Minneapolis, word that the national Red Barn Restaurant chain wants to erect a new fast-food franchise in old, venerable Dinkytown, the “war at home”  takes a different turn. This stunning documentary chronicles the unprecedented 40-day, 40-night continuous Dinkytown “Occupation” to prevent construction of an unwanted hamburger joint.

https://vimeo.com/121387504

Directed by: All Milgrom

The Look of Silence

Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence focuses on a family of survivors who discovers how their son was murdered in the 1965 Indonesian genocide, as well as the identities of the killers. The youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, decides to break the suffocating silence by confronting the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions.

Directed by: Joshua Oppenheimer

 

Every Face Has a Name

In Every Face Has A Name, a sequel of sorts to Harbor of Hope (MSPIFF 2012), director Magnus Gertten tracks down and interviews survivors from German concentration camps seen in a 35mm archival film reel showing their arrival at the harbour of Malmo, Sweden on April 28, 1945.

The group includes Jews from all over Europe, Norwegian prisoners of war, Polish mothers and children, members of the French resistance, British spies, as well as a young Italian-American accused of being a spy—with personal reactions that are both powerful and moving.

Directed by: Magnus Gertten

All the Time in the World

Concerned with the fundamental disconnect of living in the city, a family of five leaves the comforts of home behind for a remote cabin in the Yukon wilderness camera in tow. Without running water, electricity, phone or even direct road access, Suzanne Crocker, her husband and three children (ages 10, 8 and 4) embark on a nine month experiment. Making do with no crew and limited equipment, Crocker skillfully chronicles her family’s unique personal discovers and turns them into a universal story on life, family, and everyday struggles.

Directed by: Suzanne Crocker

… 


Get your tickets and MSPIFF passes before they sell out!

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Regular Screenings
General Admission: $12.00
Film Society Members: $10.00
Students w/ID: $6.00

NEW! Beginning this year, tickets can be purchased online at mspfilm.org.

DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL GUIDE & FULL SCHEDULE 

 


What do you think folks, does any of these films interest you?

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Question of the Week: Who’d you pick for Best (or Worst) Casting in 2012?

Since it’s the week of the Oscars, I’ve been preparing my predictions and also an Oscar-edition of Everybody’s Chattin’ series. That’s on schedule for Friday but today I just want to pick your brain a bit today, so hope you’d indulge me.

CastingByDocI just found out about this post from Flavorwire site (thanks to @WordandFilm tweet): New Oscar Categories We’d Like to See — And Who We’d Nominate to Win Them. They have about five different category suggestions, but I really like the Best Ensemble category (like in the SAG Awards) and also honoring Casting Directors in the Best Casting category. I totally agree w/ the article in that “casting directors are the unsung heroes of the industry… The work they do is often key, yet widely devalued and misunderstood.”

From that article, I also learned about this awesome documentary Casting By that highlights the career of Marion Dougherty, who was the first casting director to receive single-card screen credit. Based on the review on IMDb, the film features a bunch of footage of first roles given to future stars, i.e. Warren Beatty, Marlon Brando, and James Dean, who was apparently one of the first actors she had cast.

Now, back to the Best Casting question. If I to take all the casting in 2012 films, obviously some worked out and some didn’t. On the top of my head I think I’d the award to the casting director(s) of Silver Linings Playbook for casting Jennifer Lawrence as an unstable young woman struggling with the loss of her husband.

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Best Casting of 2012?

I just think she’s just perfect in the role, wise beyond her years even though she’s just entered her legal drinking age of 21 when the film was made! I really can’t picture anyone else in the role that could do an equally effective job. Now, I’m sure there are others that have made an excellent casting decision – whoever cast nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild obviously has a keen eye for talent. I haven’t seen the film yet though, so can’t say much about her acting.

As for the worst, well I’m going to *honor* Hollywood’s most famous young couple Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in their roles in Bel Ami and Snow White & The Huntsman, respectively.  I’ve already made my feelings known about the vacant *acting style* of K-Stew in my review. As for Pattinson, he was so ill-fitting and utterly unconvincing as the supposedly seductive and manipulative George Duroy, the protagonist from Guy de Maupassant’s classic novel. It’s even worse seeing him [over]acting opposite real thespians Kristin Scott Thomas and Uma Thurman in the film! I’d think just by casting different [read: more capable and expressive] actors in the leading roles would improve both films significantly!

RPatzKStew_BelAmiSnowWhiteHuntsman
Worst Casting Duo in 2012

Now your turn!

If there were a Best (or Worst) Casting award, which film would you give that award to and for which actor/actress?

Movie Jail Relay Race – 12th Round

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You’ve probably seen this Relay Race been going around in the past few months. I love this brilliant idea, courtesy of my pals Nostra and Terrence which started back in late November. Here’s the gist:

It’s time to put some movie people in jail. The object is to give a prosecutor’s argument as to why these movie people belong in “Movie Jail” whether it be for violating the integrity of the content source of one their films, or being a sell-out, just making bad movies overall, getting worse as time goes on or not being in a good movie for many years.

The baton will be passed to another blogger who will have to do the following:

In order to free someone from Movie Jail they have to do 2 things
1 – Give a defense attorney argument defending the plaintiff
2 – Pay bail: the cost of which is another case for the court and a prosecutor’s argument against the actor/director of their choice that will replace the one set free.

There must always be 10 people in Movie Jail.

Thanks to Diana from Aziza’s Picks for passing this to me last Thursday. At this point, I’m the 12th person on the relay race, here are the previous participants from the starting point:

  1. My Film Views/The Focused Filmographer
  2. Cinematic Corner
  3. And So It Begins
  4. Surrender to the Void
  5. Cinematic Paradox
  6. The Cinematic Spectacle
  7. Being Norma Jean
  8. Defiant Success
  9. …let’s be splendid about this
  10. Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions
  11. Aziza’s Picks

So let’s take a look at the current 10 inmates, shall we?

JenniferAnistonMovieJail
Jennifer Aniston
MichaelBaymoviejail
Michael Bay
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Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
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Raja Gosnell
Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl
Todd Phillips
Todd Phillips
Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy
Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler
Til Schweiger
Til Schweiger
Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart

Diana rescued George Lucas [glad she did, I would’ve rescued him too] and put K-Stew in. I absolutely concur with her choice and rationale. Stewart was already a prisoner right from the original relay race but got rescued [Sati, though I enjoyed reading your argument, sadly I don’t think K-Stew deserved your eloquent defense], so I’m glad she’s back in! The thing is, I’m totally stumped as to who I should defend. As Diana said before, everyone here seemed to merit their penalty. I wasn’t aware of who Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer and Raja Gosnell before but that’s because fortunately, I have never seen any of their movies — except for Gosnell’s Never Been Kissed — but man, those are awful, awful movies.

After much deliberations, I’ve decided that I’d give my defense not for a complete release but to put said actor on probation. I simply can’t think of anyone here that I’d give a get-out-of-jail free card because their ‘offense’ is quite tremendous.

The actor I choose to defend is:

JenniferAnistonProbation
Jennifer Aniston

Yes I know, I’m quite shocked myself that I’d actually pick her as I’ve said it several times on this blog that she can’t act. But she’s generally pretty likable and I feel that she just need to find the right project and be more willing to venture out of her comfort zone [The Good Girl, Horrible Bosses]. For what it’s worth, at least she’s been consistent in her career, I mean, it’s not like she was an Oscar-winning actress who suddenly start making bad choices. Now, that doesn’t excuse her role choices – hence I still put her on probation – but I think she still could make good movies down the road and the right director could perhaps coax a good performance out of her.

The actor I’m putting in jail:

NicCageMovieJail
Nicolas Cage

It pains me to put Nic on here as I quite like his earlier roles. I mean, this guy won a darn Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, and his action movies following that was great: The Rock, Face/Off, Con Air, and his dramatic roles in The Family Man and Adaptation displayed his acting chops. But then his piles of debts pretty much reduced him to a ‘yes man’ who takes every single freakin’ role without bothering to read the script. I mean, other than maybe his supporting role in Kick-Ass, he hasn’t starred in anything decent for as long as I can remember. He’s been so prolific and not in a good way, starring in one bad movie after another, with seemingly no end in sight. I thought the first Ghost Rider was absolutely horrid and he’s made a sequel of the darn thing!! You’d think he’s hit rock bottom when he starred in a Taken rip-off called Stolen [seriously Nic, that is low even for you], but I think that’s still not his worst yet. He’s attached to no less than nine movies just in 2013 alone, according to IMDb, who knows how many of those turn out to actually be remotely watchable?? I could go on but I think most moviegoers could see he’s lost his integrity as an actor. I do hope he could still turn things around though.

P.S. I was actually considering putting Gerry Butler in jail, but I think that Nic is far more guilty than him at this point. But the fact that I’m even considering GB, it goes to show how I feel about his career right now.


Ok, now I’m passing the torch to Iba @ I Luv Cinema.
Curious what she’d do with this list 😀


Well, are you surprised by my picks? Sound off in the comments below.

Five for the Fifth: JUNE edition

Hello folks, welcome to the June 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

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. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. If you’ve read my Breaking Dawn and Snow White and the Huntsman reviews, you’ll know I don’t think very much of Kristen Stewart. But really I have my reasons. I know that it’s perhaps unfair to only judge her in those Twilight movies, I mean after all, R-Patz was quite good in other films so I was willing to give her a chance. But really, after seeing her as Snow White, I’m even more baffled as to why she is so in high demand.

K-Stew’s ‘signature’ expression

I mean this girl has NO range whatsoever. I mean if she has the same exact expression for every single emotion known to man. She’s not even THAT beautiful that guys would be all over themselves to go see what she’s going to do next. I’d think she’s not the prime reasons people go see Twilight nor this Snow White movie for that matter, so she’s not exactly box office gold. Or is she??

So my question is, what’s your thoughts on K-Stew? Am I the only one who thinks this way about her?

……
2. Did you guys see this yet? I just LOVE Bill Murray and here he gives some sort of a tour to his next movie Moonrise Kingdom the only way he could.


The movie is about a pair of young lovers who flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them. This is Murray’s fifth collaboration with Wes Anderson, so basically he has starred in most of his films as Anderson has only directed seven feature films so far. I have only seen The Royal Tenenbaums which I quite like, and one of my girlfriends pretty much swore by The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou so I’m curious to check that out soon.

How many Wes Anderson films have you seen and which one is your favorite?

3. I just Coriolanus which is Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut. I think he did a great job adapting a Shakespearean political play to the big screen and I’m curious to see if directing is something he’d do again in the near future.

There have been quite a few actor-turned-directors in Hollywood, and at times they could be better behind the camera than in front of it [I’m looking at you Ben Affleck]. Paste Magazine listed 15 greatest actor-directors and also mentioned two who have recently joined the actor/director club: Vera Farmiga and Paddy Considine who directed Higher Ground and Tyrannosaur, respectively.

So who is YOUR favorite actor-turned-director ever, and what’s your favorite film that he/she directed?

4. My hubby Ivan did a triathlon this past weekend and he met a couple of fellow triathletes. At brunch afterwards, he told me that one of them is a dead ringer for Tom Cruise! He said the guy had a similar long-ish hair like the one he’s sporting in MI:4 and also of similar built and height. He had his sunglasses on when he first saw the guy, and he already resembled him then. But the second he took those off, Ivan actually paused for a minute and had to tell him how much he resembled the Cruister and how he could practically be his body double, to which he nonchalantly replied, ‘yeah I get that a lot.’

In any case, that same night we saw the Rock of the Ages trailer in the theater.


As someone growing up in the 80s, I have to see this on the big screen for nostalgia sake. I mean, I used to be into hard rock bands like Warrant, Guns ‘n Roses, Skid Row, etc. and Warrant’s hit HEAVEN is one of my all time favorites! Cruise looks like a hoot as the shirtless, tattooed rock star Stacee Jaxx, I gotta give it to the man, even at 50 he’s still got it!

Any of you looking forward to this movie?


5. My pal Terrence just pointed out in his Movie News Monday about some movie reshoots that cause their releases to be delayed. Some of them are Brad Pitt’s World War Z (which needs an additional seven weeks of reshoots, yikes!), Spielberg’s Robocalypse, Thor 2, etc.

Well, one movie I have been anticipating for some time is Playing The FieldIt was actually on my most-anticipated list this year before it got pushed from March to December!! Below are a couple of on-set pics from the movie:

It stars my beloved Gerry Butler as a former soccer star with a wild past who tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team. The cast looks pretty good, well apart from Jessica Biel who I hope only has a small part, there’s Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid and Judy Greer. Can’t wait for this one!

So my last question to you is, what movie you’re most anticipating that gets its release pushed back?



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

Extended preview of Snow White & the Huntsman… why THIS is the Snow White movie I’m looking forward to

The battle of the Snow Whites is full on as Mirror, Mirror is scheduled to be released next Friday March 30 in the US. It’s unlikely I’ll be seeing that on the big screen but this one, heck yes!

I was already sold by the first trailer, yes despite Kristen Stewart’s casting, but this new, 5-min extended-preview promises a darker, more sinister adventure for the fair princess. This one might as well been called ‘Mirror, Mirror’ as well as the gold mirror melting and forming a human-like figure is pretty cool, but really this trailer is still all about Charlize as the evil queen.


Perhaps the studio have been hearing people’s snide remarks about Kristen Stewart being regarded as more beautiful than Charlize (yeah, uh-uh, whatev-er) so I guess they’re going with Snow White as being beautiful in the inside. Oh, o-kay. It shows her mother saying to her as a young girl, “… you possess rare beauty my love, in here…” pointing to her heart. “… she will bring an end to the darkness…” says one of the rugged-looking dwarfs (seems like they’re all Grumpy, I don’t see Bashful or Sneezy in sight, ahah).

Chris Hemsworth seems suitably gruff as the huntsman, though I doubt his ax can quite match his Thor‘s mjolnir, no matter how skillful he’s able to wield it 🙂 No sign of Prince Charming anywhere but is he really needed? Doesn’t look like the princess has much time for romance between all that horse chase and sword fights! Maybe she should hook up with the hunky huntsman instead? ehm.

I’m really curious to see what newbie British director Rupert Sanders has in store for us. Universal undoubtedly takes some risk by hiring a first time director to helm a $100 mil project, but they’re doing the same with Carl Rinsch who’s currently working on 47 Ronin with a $170 million budget, a 3D samurai revenge story starring Keanu Reeves (per THR). Well, let’s hope he delivers and won’t be the next Joseph Kosinski as the disappointing Tron: Legacy barely made up its $170 mil budget.

Anyway, June sure is shaping up to be one hectic month for movie lovers and this one hits June 1st in the US.


So what do you think folks? Which Snow White adaptation do you prefer, this one or Mirror, Mirror? 

Weekend Roundup: SENNA & Breaking Dawn

Hello everyone, hope you had a nice weekend. It’s Daylight Savings Time again so most of us in the US lost an hour of sleep Saturday night. Not complaining though as that means the sun will still be up when I leave work on Monday.

Did you venture out to the cinema this weekend to see John Carter or Lorax? Well apparently a bunch of people did as the Dr. Seuss animated feature still sits on top for the second weekend with $39 mil, trumping over the sci-fi fantasy John Carter which made just a little over $30 mil. WOW, that is a major bust for Disney since the budget was a ludicrous $250 million [shakes head]. I have little interest in seeing it, looks like it’s worth a rental at best.

Well, I only managed to see two films this weekend, and yes, the stark contrast between the two didn’t escape me 😀 Anyway, here are my reviews:

SENNA

Growing up with an older brother who’s a big cars fan, I knew who Ayrton Senna is and his tragic death in 1994. But apart from that, I don’t know much about the sport and and how he’s regarded as not only the greatest Formula One champion in the world but his sainthood status in his native country of Brazil.

Seems like Billy Joel’s song Only The Good Die Young is true after all and Senna definitely was one of them, dying at at the age of only 34. The documentary by Asif Kapaida spans the decade from his arrival to F1 racing in 1984 up until his untimely death at the San Marino Grand Prix. One doesn’t have to be a fan of Formula One to appreciate Senna’s extraordinary story and the film does a great job in presenting his life on and off the track.

Forgoing talking heads and interviews typically seen in documentaries, the filmmaker instead relies on actual footage of the races and various events of the characters, including Senna himself to tell the story, so to speak. The somewhat chronological order of the events taking place creates an in-the-moment experience for the viewers which makes is all the more thrilling. A lot of the time, we actually get to see from the point of view of the driver during the race, which actually makes you feel nervous as he make the dangerous corners time and time again.

The film shows a glimpse of what Senna is like as a person. His strive for perfection on the track can be considered ruthless on occasion, but it’s clear that he’s got enormous talent to go with such tenacity. He’s also a deeply spiritual man who loved the Lord and was often seen praying in his car just before a race. He’s also a patriotic man, deeply concerned for the well-being of his country, especially the children.

Senna was one of those rare champions who was all about the sports itself. Early in the film, there’s footage of Senna entering a karting competition as a young boy. Later in the film when someone asked him who his most favorite driver to compete against, Senna replied that it was his rival at one of the Kart championship… saying that there was no money or politics involved, just ‘pure racing’ he said, which he contrasted with the F1 racing that’s rife with politics. The film also follows Senna’s rivalry with French World Champion Alain Prost. They were former teammates-turned-nemesis and a couple of times they were involved in car collisions, one of them actually resulted in Senna being disqualified from winning the race.

Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna

Though his death happened 17 years ago, it didn’t make the moment leading up to his fatal accident any less nail-biting. There’s the driver POV footage down to the last moments just before his Williams FW16 hit the concrete wall at 135 mph. I practically broke down when I saw that scene even though I had watched the footage several times before, it was definitely a very dark moment in the world of racing and for the people of Brazil. It’s so ironic that just only a day earlier, following the death of an Austrian rookie, his medical chielf Sid Watkins had suggested that Senna stop racing and go fishing instead. That same morning he also intended to work on improving the safety of F1 racing with the Grand Prix Drivers Association. His death prompted a series of safety improvements, and there has not been any more fatalities at the wheel of an F1 car since.

This film truly delivers not just the thrill of the world of Formula One, but also an emotionally-charged piece on the monumental life of a real life hero. Senna wasn’t just a champion on the track but a humanitarian champion for his generous giving to his people of Brazil.

Final Thoughts: There has been considerable hype surrounding this film and I must say it exceeds my expectation. This one is definitely snubbed by the Oscars for not even being nominated! A perfect combination of edge-of-your-seat thrills and heartbreaking moments that will tug at your heart long after the film’s over.

4.5 out of 5 reels


BREAKING DAWN

Oh ok, where do I begin? Well let me just tell you that I was loaned the Blu-ray by a colleague who’s a self-confessed Twi-hard. I had told her I had only seen the first film but I’m curious to see this one because a big event takes place here, namely the wedding between a human and a vampire and of course the honeymoon where they um, consumate the relationship.

Just like the money-moker franchise Harry Potter before it, the finale of the Twilight series is also split into two parts for ka-ching purposes. There are indeed quite a lot going on in this first part, the main protagonist Bella Swan gets married, have sex for the first time, gets pregnant within 14 days of the sexual encounter, dies and then gets rebirth. Normally I’d apologize for ruining the plot for you but I reckon you’d have predicted the outcome after just minutes after the movie starts so you won’t have to wait with bated breath to see what’s to unfold next.

For what it's worth I think he makes for a pretty decent Hulk, no?

Predictably, the film opens with the resident brooding werewolf, er shape-shifter Jacob reacting to Bella and Edward’s wedding. What kind of reaction you ask? Well he’s so upset he simply has to take his shirt off and runs off to the woods, of course (apparently his pants are made of the kind of shape-shift-enabled material that he doesn’t need to bother taking those off). Then we see the suddenly worried Edward asking Bella one last time if she’s ok with marrying a hundred-something-year-old vampire who has done his share of blood sucking in his past lives. She is only 18 after all. But Bella reasoned that ‘those you killed are all murderers who’ll do more damage to society’ so she assures him she wants to marry him. This whole thing plays out like a mopey soap opera with utterly-cringe-inducing dialog and even more awkward gestures from both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. For a couple who’re allegedly an item in real life, their chemistry just doesn’t appear that convincing to me. If it weren’t for the goth and 300-inspired of bloody corpses piled up at the altar featured in Bella’s wedding nightmare, the whole thing would be quite unbearable.

The wedding itself doesn’t strike me as romantic, well apart from the magical-looking forrest it takes place in. But what’s REALLY worth talking about is the honeymoon location. Say what you will about this pale, sparkling vampire, but my, does the Cullens have great taste and money to burn. My jaw drops looking at Isle Esme, the name of a tropical island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Heck I’d marry a vampire just to spend a weekend on that gorgeous, secluded spot… um, then again, maybe not, ahah.

Anyway, the whole honeymoon itself seems to go on forever. Ok so maybe for the faithfuls, this is the one moment they’ve been waiting forever and so no doubt the filmmakers are making them happy with countless scenes of Edward & Bella getting it on and playing… chess?? Am I missing something here? Maybe chess is an aphrodisiac for vampires? In any case, for a couple who’ve waited a long time to consumate their relationship, there’s hardly any passion in their romantic scenes. Bella always comes across so jittery and uncomfortable around Edward and for someone supposedly in a state of wedded bloss, she never looks all that happy to me [shrugs] Well, the honeymoon certainly doesn’t last long, as within a couple of weeks, Bella finds out she’s with child.

The rest of the movie pretty much deals with how Bella is coping with the extremely dangerous pregnancy that could kill her, and also what the birth of the hybrid baby means to everyone involved. Not having read the book, the whole thing is quite confusing as it’s not clear which side Jacob is on, I suppose that’s what one should expect from a shape-shifter, ahah. Taylor Lautner seems just slightly more bearable here than in the first Twilight movie, but that really ain’t saying much. His idea of being ‘expressive’ is furrowed brows and staring down intently at whoever it is he happens to be facing.

Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey) takes an already bleak subject matter and presents it in an arduous, melancholy fashion and full of unintentionally funny moments. It really is hard to take this movie seriously when you’ve got a big fight of werewolves vs. vampires with barely any blood at all, heck we barely even see Edward & co. showing their vampire teeth!

But wait, suddenly the last twenty minutes morphs into a monster/horror movie. I must say that the whole childbirth process is quite disturbing to say the least. CGI-effects made Kristen Stewart into even more skin-and-bones than she already is and the camera shows constant shots of her bloody figure. I think ghastly is a more appropriate term to describe the third act, tethering between repulsive and horrifying. The ending shot is practically identical to the ending of Avatar, in which the protagonist Jake Scully also undergoes a rebirth of some sort. But what Bella went through is undoubtedly far more agonizing and down right traumatizing.

I have to admit that now I’m mildly curious to see how the franchise unfolds in Part II. But since it’ll have the same director and screenwriter Mellissa Rosenberg, who’s responsible for writing ALL of the Twilight movies, I should proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts: Seems like a lot that come before it, this movie is highly geared for the Twi-hard only crowd. My hubby and I enjoyed it mostly for giggles and the gorgeous scenery of the majestic Isle Isme, but I probably would’ve skipped it altogether if my friend hadn’t loaned it to me.

1.5 out of 5 reels


So what movie(s) did you catch this weekend? Thoughts on either one of these, please share in the comments.