FlixChatter Review: TOLKIEN (2019)

Review by Vitali Gueron

When most people hear the name Tolkien, they might think of the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, (both of which were later turned into very successful film series by Peter Jackson, earning numerous accolades and awards) or they might think of English professor J. R. R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult), a poet, philologist, and academic who grew up relatively poor, never knew his father and lost his mother at a very young age. He was looked after by Father Francis Morgan, a Roman Catholic priest and former protege of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who served as Tolkien’s guardian and father figure. He attended King Edward’s School and met three of his best friends there. They formed a semi-secret society they called the T.C.B.S. The initials stood for Tea Club and Barrovian Society, alluding to their fondness for drinking tea in Barrow’s Stores near the school and, secretly, in the school library. The film Tolkien is much more about the young Tolkien, having meetings with his T.C.B.S. friends and then having to fight in World War I, and losing most of his close acquaintances as a result.

The teenager Tolkien (Harry Gilby) was at first a shy kid at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, England. Having moved there from Bloemfontein, South Africa where the family was living prior to Tolkien’s father’s death, his mother Mabel (Laura Donnelly) and brother Hilary Tolkien (played in youth by Guillermo Bedward and as an adult by James MacCallum) were new to Birmingham and didn’t have the means to live a comfortable live but were provided assistance by the Roman Catholic church. After Mabel’s death, Father Francis Morgan (Colm Meaney) took on the responsibility of guardianship of J. R. R. Tolkien, and advised him even during his years at Exeter College, Oxford. At the age of 16, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt (Lily Collins), who was three years his senior, when he and his brother Hilary moved into the boarding house where she lived in Duchess Road, Edgbaston. Tolkien falls in love with Edith, but is soon off to fight in World War I, leaving Edith for the time being.

While Tolkien is off fighting in the battles of World War I, he experiences first had the horrors of war, the death and destruction are just beneath his feet. He is shown throughout the film in the battle trenches and on the battle fields, fighting his own battles with trench fever. The scenes of battle, fire and death are what some believe gave him the inspiration for Mordor, the dark place where the arch-villain Sauron lives in the fictional world of Middle-earth, as told in the books of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien is taken back to England and spends time at the hospital recovering and being back with Edith, but he also looses his close friends Geoffrey Bache Smith (Anthony Boyle) and Robert Q. Gilson (Patrick Gibson). His other friend and fellow T.C.B.S. member Christopher Wiseman (Tom Glynn-Carney) also comes back from war, but has many mental scars and never fully recovers from his wounds.

In the third act of the film, we see that Tolkien has married Edith and is starting to embrace fatherhood. He also meets with Geoffrey Bache Smith’s mother (Genevieve O’Reilly) and convinces her to publish some of Geoffrey’s poetry as a token to his memory. Part of Tolkien’s best memories before the war were spending time with his friends in the T.C.B.S. and forming what he later coined as the term “a fellowship” of friends. This is also the basis for the name of Tolkien’s first of three volumes in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Most casual fans of Tolkien, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, might be a little disappointed in the film because it doesn’t have any of the fairytale or imaginative qualities that the fictional volumes that Tolkien wrote have. What the film does have are two strong performances by two young but compelling actors; Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins. Their chemistry does not feel like its forced or out of place, and both help one another out by being interesting when sometimes the dialogue given to them is less so. I also especially like the moments when the young actors of Tolkien’s schoolboy life are on screen, headed by Harry Gilby, they form the Tea Club with fellow actors Adam Bregman, Albie Marber and Ty Tennant. These kids seem far more sophisticated and scholarly than normal kids, drinking tea at Barrow’s Stores and dreaming of worlds beyond their own.

Overall, this rather unimaginative film has a few shining moments, headlined by Hoult and Collins onscreen together. Strong followers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit might find deeper meaning in Tolkien’s life, but otherwise most audience members will be left empty-handed in understanding what really went on in Tolkien’s mind and how he was able to write such epic high fantasy novels. Maybe, just maybe, that part is up to us and in our imagination.


Have you seen TOLKIEN? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Giveaway – enter for your chance to win a pair of tickets to see TOLKIEN: Live from The Montclair Film Festival with Stephen Colbert

TOLKIEN From Fox Searchlight Pictures, Premieres as a One-Night LIVE Cinema Event on May 7 ahead of ‘Tolkien’ nationwide release on May 10.

Enter for your chance to win a pair of tickets to TOLKIEN: Live from The Montclair Film Festival with Stephen Colbert – an extraordinary event where you will be among the first to see the new feature film with an exclusive live simulcast Q&A with stars Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins and director Dome Karukoski.


The screening event will take place on Tuesday, May 7 at 6:30pm at Emagine Willow Creek, Plymouth, MN. Thanks to Allied Global Marketing, we have a total of 10 tickets to give away. So if you would like to win a pair of tickets to the screening, leave a comment on this blog post with your email address and tell us why you want to see TOLKIEN. The first five eligible people will be selected as winners.

*Anyone can enter the giveaway, but please be sure that you can actually attend the event on May 7th. Tickets will be held at Emagine Willow Creek Theatre, winners must arrive no later than 6:15PM to claim their tickets.


RUN TIME: 2 hours 30 minutes | Rated PG-13

“Tolkien” explores the formative years of the renowned author’s life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school. Their brotherhood strengthens as they grow up and weather love and loss together, including Tolkien’s tumultuous courtship of his beloved Edith Bratt, until the outbreak of the First World War which threatens to tear their fellowship apart. All of these experiences would later inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels.

Check out the trailer:

Directed by Dome Karukoski (Tom Of Finland), TOLKIEN is written by David Gleeson (Cowboys & Angels) and Stephen Beresford (Pride), and stars Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite) as J.R.R. Tolkien with Lily Collins (Okja) as his future wife and muse Edith.

The film also stars Colm Meaney, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney, Craig Roberts, Derek Jacobi, Harry Gilby, Adam Bregman, Albie Marber, Ty Tennant, Laura Donnelly, Genevieve O’Reilly and Pam Ferris.

TOLKIEN hits theaters May 10th.


 

 

Everybody’s Chattin + Trailers Spotlight: Jeff Nichols’ LOVING + Warren Beatty’s ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

EverybodysChattin_Movies

Happy almost Friday everyone! It’s been quite a busy week for me, in and out of work, so I’m glad the weekend is just around the corner!! I’m going to see Captain Fantastic tonight so very excited for that.

Ok, about those links…

Keith posted his Blindspot review on A Man Escaped

Dell posted his thoughts on Steve Jobs movie

Meanwhile, Courtney argued that Swiss Army Man might be the most uplifting movie yet

I love birthday tributes and Margaret just posted a massive one on the legendary Harrison Ford

Steven posted a review one of my brothers’ favorites, Smokey and the Bandit

Well, we can’t agree on everything but that’s what makes blogging fun, right? Eddie reviewed Midnight Special and Jordan reviewed Sing Street, they feel quite differently than I did about each movie.


Trailers Spotlight

This week I’m highlighting two movies that deal with forbidden romance, relationships that break the rules of sort, though both are set in very different circumstances. Whether it’s society’s rules of the time or rules mandated by strict employers, the couples in these films face challenges to stay together. Both films are released in November.

LOVING

Release: November 4, 2016
Director: Jeff Nichols
Writer: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton

LovingPoster

Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married.

Check out the brand new trailer:

“I know we have some enemies. But we have some friends too.”
– Mildred Loving

This beautifully-shot film is poised to be a real tearjerker. I love Nichols’ work, as well as Joel Edgerton and Nichols’ muse Michael Shannon. But it’s Ruth Negga‘s performance I’m most looking forward to seeing. I cried just watching this trailer, it’s certainly a timely film, especially in light of recent events in my state as well as in Texas. As a non-White person who have many friends who married people outside of their own race, this is certainly a topic I’m intrigued by. In fact, before I met my hubby who shares my Southeast Asian heritage, back in college I’ve gone on dates with a Latino, as well as Caucasian guys. I remember feeling a bit uneasy walking or dining with my White boyfriend in the small town I lived in, as some older people would stare. I don’t think they meant any harm though, so I can’t imagine what the Loving couple had to go through endure living in 1950s America!

Director Jeff Nichols was able to tell the story of the Loving family as accurately as possible by relying on Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story (2011), which captured many details of their private lives: “We had this beautiful documentary footage unearthed from the mid-’60s where we got to go into their home and see them and watch them,” Nichols said. “It’s an unusual thing to have access to.” (per IMDb)

RULES DON’T APPLY

Release: November 23, 2016
Produced and Directed by: Warren Beatty
Screenplay by Warren Beatty; Story by Warren Beatty and Bo Goldman
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Haley Bennett, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, Lily Collins, Steve Coogan, Alden Ehrenreich, Taissa Farmiga, Ed Harris, Megan Hilty, Oliver Platt and Martin Sheen
RulesDontApply

An aspiring young actress (Lily Collins) and her ambitious young driver (Alden Ehrenreich) struggle hopefully with the absurd eccentricities of the wildly unpredictable billionaire (Warren Beatty), who they work for.

It’s Hollywood, 1958. Small town beauty queen and devout Baptist virgin Marla Mabrey (Collins), under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes (Beatty), arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her driver Frank Forbes (Ehrenreich), who is engaged to be married to his 7th grade sweetheart and is a deeply religious Methodist. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes’ #1 rule: no employee is allowed to have any relationship whatsoever with a contract actress.

This one seems to have a similar comedic vibe as Hail, Caesar!, and hey, the new Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich is in this, too. Hopefully this one will be a better movie though. It’s also got has an amazing cast, interesting to see Bening & Beatty working together again (after Bugsy & Love Affair in the 90s), haven’t seen either one of them in ages. I haven’t seen Matthew Broderick in a long time either, he looks pretty funny here.

Apparently Warren Beatty first pitched a Howard Hughes biopic as early as 1973. He continually tried to get a film involving Hughes off the ground every year or two since then. One can say it’s a film 40 years in the making. (per IMDb)


What do you think of either of these trailers?

Spotlight on ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ + Interview with Jamie Campbell Bower, Lily Collins, & Kevin Zegers

I just heard about this young adult series was I went back to Jakarta last June. My 9-year-old niece had been carrying The City of Bones novel in her bag, which had a shirtless guy on it on the cover. I thought for a moment it was one of those Harlequin novels, thank goodness that’s not the case, ahah. So yeah, my three nieces, age 9, 11 and 13 are all huge fans of the books, and they can’t wait to see this film!

The Mortal Instruments is a series of six young adult fantasy novels written by Cassandra Clare, of which five have been published so far, and City of Bones is the first film adaptation of what’s positioned to be the latest young adult sci-fi franchise to hit the big screen.

CassandraClare
Author Cassandra Clare with her best-selling novels

On July 28, fans had a chance to meet three of the main stars at Mall of America. Originally author Cassandra Clare was also scheduled to appear, but she was unable to travel that weekend due to pneumonia. Now, before I get to the interviews, here is the synopsis of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones:

Set in contemporary New York City, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” tells the story of a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, as secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures.

Director: Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid)
Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Heady, Robert Sheehan, CCH Pounder, Jared Harris, Aidan Turner.
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 min.

I’ve posted the event photos in the weekend roundup post, but here they are again:

About an hour after the autograph signing, me and two other bloggers were escorted to the Mall of America Green Room downstairs for the interview. Take a listen to Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Kevin Zegers.

MortalInstruments_CharacterPosters

What’s the most interesting part for you guys to train to play shadow hunters?

Lily (Clary) and Jamie (Jace):

“I got to learn how to knife fight, which was really fun, I had done sword fighting before in other movies, so switching the blades up was pretty interesting, and in heels, the whole deal, was pretty fun.” – Lily

Kevin (Alec):

“… Shadow Hunters, the characters are so defined by fighting and by the way they fight. I really wanted to establish what, a lot of what these characters are is the way they look, the way they are, the way they walk, the way they fight, especially. So it was important to not just have some generic style of fighting …” – Kevin

MortalInstruments_Cast

You guys are getting on the ground floor of a new franchise… what was it like becoming these characters that people already love in the books?

“… I’m an actor but I’m also a fan. So it’s trying to put little bits of Lily in there, but staying true to how Cassie wrote her, but I think most of my character came into play once everyone else got into the room, you feed off of everyone else’s energy …” – Lily

“I guess what we have to do is we have to take on board what Cassie given us, the sort of bible there, for me I also wanted to please the fans, so I looked to what they wanted, and had to do stuff for me. It’s sort of those three things combined that, we worked around it and hopefully did something that was… comfortable.” – Jamie

“At the end of the day we’re making a film, and in order to, you’re not creating the exact person that was written on the page, you’re creating a person that has the same essence as that person.” – Kevin

There seems to be a lot of green screen in the filmmaking process, and also there’s a good dynamics between the three of you, so how’s the first day of filming like?

“There wasn’t too much green screen, maybe, like extending the height of the library, and there was a guy in a green suit pulling me when I was going through the portal. They pretty much had all the sets built for us, they had the characters, a lot of prosthetic work, so it wasn’t too difficult pretending.” – Lily

“… what I’m really keen to put out there that this a world that, the movie isn’t based in a world of werewolves and vampires, they’re just additions. It’s not like we’re trying to recreate the werewolf or the vampire, as an image, like some modern movies. They exist in this world but ultimately the story is about this girl who goes on this incredible journey who finds out who she is, and her heritage.” – Jamie

MortalInstruments_JamieCampbelBower

What drew you to the part that ended up being your role?

“I think to me it was an honor to be able to say “I can create this really strong, kind of badass character and have him also be gay”, and sort of kill some of the stereotype of the prototypical gay character.” – Kevin

“… there was this sort of “rock star element” that I really liked about Jace. The vulnerability about him, that I really dug…” – Jamie

MortalInstruments_LenaHeady

“I liked the fact that this series in general, it’s not about romance, it’s not about drama, it’s not about action. It really stems from, it’s an ensemble piece, but the catalyst to start this whole experiment with Clary really finding out who she is, this whole journey is her finding her mom (played by Lena Headey)... I’m really close to my mom, so that to me was something I thought was really admirable about her.” – Lily


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opens Wednesday, August 21 in the US and the UK.

(For Grace, Gina and Gladys: It opens in Indonesia on August 28 😀 )


What do you think of this one folks? Will you be seeing the movie?

Weekend Roundup: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones cast appearance & X-Men rewatch

Happy Monday everybody! Hope everyone’s had a great weekend.

CityOfBones_onesheetWell, it’s a fairly mellow one for me up until Sunday morning as I went to what’s called the the Mall-tour kick-off of the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie that’s coming out on August 21. It’s the latest movie adaptation of a popular, supernatural-themed young adult novel which my three nieces are really into right now. In fact, all they talked about when I visited them last month was Hunger Games: Catching Fire and THIS movie. They’ve read most of the books by now, by author Cassandra Clare (who was supposed to attend but had to cancel due to illness), so of course I had to be at the event on their behalf!

It was quite an experience to be amongst screaming fans at Mall of America, as hundreds of fans (mostly girls of course) have been waiting for hours. The two girls at the front of the line told me they’ve actually camped out in front of the mall since noon the previous day!! I can’t post the interview yet until closer to the film’s release, but here are some pics from the MOA event. Stars of the movie, Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Kevin Zegers were in attendance for the Q&A and autograph signing. I couldn’t stop starring at Lily’s stunning black stilettos! 😀


I didn’t see anything new this weekend, as I’ve already seen The Wolverine earlier in the week (check out my review). Apparently even with $55 mil to top the box office, it’s still the lowest opening for an X-Men franchise. Not that I’m gonna shed a tear for Wolverine though, as I’m not too impressed with the latest movie. If anything, it made me wish X-Men: Days of Future Past were to be released this year already!

XMen_charactersbanner

Now, speaking of the X-Men franchise (easily my favorite from the Marvel canon, though it’s still owned by FOX), I did rewatch the first movie from back in 2000. Bryan Singer practically kicked off the superhero genre with his compelling comic-book adaptation, and it still holds up well to this day.

I LOVE that opening scene between Professor X and Magneto at a Congressional hearing, which sets the tone for the whole film. I love how the underlying themes of racism and prejudice vs understanding and tolerance are still relevant to this day. It’s what I LOVE about the X-Men story, and despite how I feel about the latest adaptation of its most famous mutant, I’m still super stoked for Days of Future Past. I’m even more thrilled that Singer is back at the helm this time, too!

Oh, I also rewatched Batman Year One this weekend, as my pal Ted mentioned it recently. Watch for an indulgent, wish-list post based on that tomorrow 😀


Well, that’s my weekend recap, folks. What did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

The Snow White Movie Battles – which one would you rather watch?

I grew up watching Disney Princesses flicks… and to this day I still have a fondness for them. I still have Snow White and Sleeping Beauty on DVD in fact. With the success of Disney’s Tangled, clearly the fascination over them isn’t over, yet. Well, it’s been 74 years since Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs‘ was released in 1937, now the first Disney princess ever is getting not one, but TWO feature film treatment!

You’ve probably heard the buzz about the ‘Snow White battles’ as two studios — Relativity Media and Universal — are planning to release their own version in 2012, within a mere few months between them. The projects sound pretty ambitious, according to LA Times blog, the budget for the Universal’s version is $160 million, wow! I’ve been hearing casting news for both movies left and right in the past few months, but I haven’t really been paying attention as to who are doing what and the difference between two movies until today. So here are a quick guide to tell the two films apart when they’re out next year:

Untitled Snow White
March 16, 2012
Snow White & The Huntsman
June 1, 2012
Director: Tarsem Singh Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Julia Roberts (evil Queen), Armie Hammer (prince charming), Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham Cast: Charlize Theron (evil queen), Chris Hemsworth (huntsman), Sam Claflin (prince charming), Ian McShane + Eddie Izzard + Bob Hoskins + Toby Jones (dwarfs)
Plot: An evil Queen (Roberts) steals control of a kingdom, and an exiled princess (Collins) enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright in a spirited adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the imagination of audiences the world over. Plot: In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman (Hemsworth) ordered to take Snow White (Stewart) into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen (Theron).

Lily Collins as Snow White

Kristen Stewart as Snow White

Armie Hammer as Prince Charming

Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman

Well, if we’re to judge the ‘winner’ by its release date, sounds like Tarsem’s version is the frontrunner as his movie will come out first in March. Online reports say they’ve already begun filming. Check out the concept poster to the right that’s already released last week (thanks to Dezzy @ Hollywood Spy for the tip)

The Tarsem version seems more appealing to me out of the two so far, I mean, I’ve never even heard of this Rupert guy and he’s got zero feature film directing credit (apparently he’s done some commercials & shorts, check out his website). I’ve talked about him and Tarsem’s film The Fall quite often in this blog, I admire his singular visual style so for sure this movie is going to look spectacular. His story-telling ability remains to be seen though, as no matter how beautiful The Fall was, it’s not exactly the most comprehensible film to follow. Perhaps it’s not going to be too much of an issue since he tends to gravitate towards fantasy type movies, his upcoming film Immortals fits that category as well.

On top of that, I’m just not sold on Kristen Stewart’s casting as the princess. I mean, she’s pretty yeah, but I just feel like this is a similar role to Twilight‘s Bella, y’know, the naive young ‘princess.’ And I personally can’t stand how whiny Bella is, it’s so darn irritating! Now, I’ve only seen Lily Collins (yes, she’s Phil’s daughter) in The Blind Side, but I think she was pretty decent in that. She’s drop-dead gorgeous and definitely has that fairy tale princess look about her. At 22, she’s actually older than Stewart by one year, wow she certainly looks a lot younger to me, which is a good thing as I reckon Snow White is supposed to be in her late teens.

I like both Charlize and Julia as the evil queen, but I’d give Julia the edge as I’m curious to see America’s sweetheart play a classic villain icon. According to GeekTyrant, the Indian-born director has this to say about casting Roberts: “She’s the obvious choice of being goody-two-shoes, and I didn’t want an Evil Queen in the sense that already existed…. It can’t be an evil, quintessential queen. I’m looking for a likable evil queen. I couldn’t think of anybody who is more of a likable evil queen than her.”

I also like both picks of Snow White’s love interest as both Hammer and Hemsworth are the tall, dashing, prince-ly type (as these two guys are 6’5″ and 6’3″ respectively, everyone will practically look like dwarfs by comparison, ahah). In this USA Today article, at one point the likes of Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, Viggo Mortensen, Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender were in the running for the huntsman role. Wow, if either Hardy or Fassbender had been chosen, that’ll definitely give Tarsem’s version some serious competition!


Well, in the spirit of a weekly feature on my local radio station called ‘Would You Rather Wednesday,’ which of these two Snow White movies would you rather watch?