Trailer Spotlight: Netflix’s The Old Guard (2020)

Happy Thursday!! It’s rather gloomy here where I live, so it’s nice to see something that gets the juices flowing. Definitely something to look forward to July 10 as that’s the date it’ll drop on Netflix, yay!

A covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered.

I’m not always excited for Netflix Original Movies, I mean I haven’t seen Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction, and probably never will. But there’s SO much going for it here that makes me yell ‘yeah!!’ even as I’m watching the trailer ūüėÄ

I do love Charlize Theron in action movies. She’s great as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road and also in Atomic Blonde, she looks believable here too as Andy (is that a nickname??) the leader of immortal mercenaries who’ve been fighting to protect the mortal world for centuries. As if they weren’t bad-ass enough by the looks of it, they’re also very hard to kill! Dayum, I certainly don’t want to be on their wrong side!

I LOVE the director too, Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights), glad to see her doing an action genre! It’s apparently based on a 5-part graphic novel of the same name by Greg Rucka. Now, as for the rest of the cast, we’ve got Kiki Layne who’s lovely in If Beale Street Could Talk, and three of my fave Euro actors who are all verrry easy on the eyes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthias Schoenaerts and Marwan Kenzari.

I’m intrigued by the concept that they’re immortals. Who are The Old Guard and why they sent ancient warrior Andy to recruit the team? How do they get the immortal ability? Why are they protecting the mortals? And why they seemingly always in hiding/on the run? There’s a quick blurb about the group could potentially be weaponized, and looks like Ejiofor is their enemy here, it’s not clear exactly who his character is. One thing for sure, looks like even he’s shaking in his boots when the Old Guard are near!

Well, based on the trailer, I really can’t wait to see this!


What do you think of this trailer?

FlixChatter Review: A Bigger Splash (2016)

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When I first heard of this film, I was immediately intrigued by the premise¬†of an¬†idyllic sun-drenched holiday that’s being disrupted by an unexpected visit. The people on holiday are famous rock star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) and her lover, Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). When we’re introduced to the couple, they’re stark naked by the pool on their villa. They read books, sun bathe, make love, basically¬†enjoying a blissful time together in this picturesque remote island of Pantelleria, Italy.

Soon though, their¬†moment of euphoric existence comes at an abrupt stop when Marianne’s old flame suddenly arrives on the island. They reluctantly pick them up at the airport to find Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his¬†young¬†daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). What strikes me right away is how exuberant Fiennes was in this role, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so vivacious on screen.

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Things unfold in a rather unhurried fashion. I didn’t realize at first that Marianne is rendered practically mute as she had just undergone¬†throat surgery, so even though there are glimpses of her in rock star mode (a la Bowie), we didn’t hear her voice until later in the film. She communicates with gestures, and Paul pretty much doing the talking for her. I’m glad I hadn’t read much about this film before seeing it, and so I won’t discuss much about the plot in my review. I do however, want to talk about the acting in this film, as it’s truly the highlight.

Fiennes and Swinton are absolutely marvelous here, displaying their acting versatility and proficiency. I’ve mentioned how exuberant Fiennes was. There’s an extended dance sequence where his character express himself through music that’s truly a joy to behold.¬†In contrast, Swinton is much more reserved, communicating her emotions through subtle gestures and facial expressions. I have never seen such a romantic side of Swinton. She¬†looks absolutely sensuous and glamorous here, and casting her as a rock star is absolutely spot on. I also adore every single outfit she wore here, they’re all perfectly-tailored for her.¬†The fact that she’s unable to speak somehow creates an intriguing tension to the¬†nervous energy that’s already present in the group.¬†Every time these two are on screen, I was truly in awe.

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I had seen¬†Schoenaerts in a couple of things (Far From the Madding Crowd, Suite Fran√ßaise) and he’s certainly got a pleasant countenance about him. He displays a certain unpredictability here that the role of Paul¬†requires. As for Johnson, I have to say she’s the weakest link here but I think it’s more to do with the fact that her character is the most underwritten. Up until the end I don’t really have much of a clue what she is all about and thus it’s hard to care for her character.

Working on a script by¬†David Kajganich, Italian director Luca Guadagnino weaved a tale of jealousy, frustrated passion that escalates to a boiling point. What started out as a drama slowly unravels like a whirlwind and turns into something sinister.¬†I’m glad there’s still that element of surprise and I really didn’t know where things will lead. Unpredictability is always something I appreciate in¬†any story. There’s also a bit of humor thrown in¬†throughout, especially that bit with the local police fangirl-ing over Marianne.

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The island of¬†Pantelleria is practically a character itself in this movie.¬†The stunning cinematography by Yorick Le Saux (who also shot Clouds of Sils Maria) is definitely a plus here, but it’s the gripping story and fantastic performances that made this a memorable endeavor. Being that it’s a European production, there’s a frankness with sexuality and nudity, but yet the way it was shot it didn’t feel crude or distasteful. I wouldn’t say the film is perfect however,¬†it felt a bit tedious at times and the filmmaker luxuriate too much on in the scenery. I’ve also mentioned the part about Dakota’s character not being as well-developed. I do think her casting might be more suitable than Margot Robbie who’s initially cast, as she would’ve been too mature-looking to play a late teen.

So overall, this is quite an absorbing psychological drama.¬†I saw this film¬†at a morning press screenings and there were less than five people in the entire theater. That’s too bad as I think this film¬†deserve a larger audience. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for something off the beaten path¬†that’s superbly acted.

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Have you seen ‘A Bigger Splash’? I’d love to hear what you think!

Five new-to-me actors I’d love to see more of – based on 2015 viewings

I saw this list on Variety on 10 Actors To Watch in 2015 and I realized I dropped the ball on this Actor Discoveries post last year. I mentioned in the first post back in 2012 that one of the joys of watching movies is discovering new talents. I planned on making this post an annual thing but alas, the last time I did this post was in 2013.

On that list, I included¬†Lake Bell, Daniel Br√ľhl, Riz Ahmed, Andrea Riseborough and David Oyelowo. Since¬†then, most of them have been getting more prominent roles, with the exception of Riseborough which I think is so criminally under-utilized.¬†Since I didn’t make a list last year, certainly Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid would’ve made my 2014 shortlist.

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So, based¬†on this year’s¬†viewings (not exclusive to movies released last year) , here are five new-to-me actors I’d like to see working more in Hollywood.

[In alphabetical order]

Carmen Ejogo

Ejogo

The Oscars not only dropped the ball on several counts when it comes to SELMA last year. Much was made about the omission of Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo from the nomination list, but I think Carmen Ejogo was equally deserving to be amongst the Best Supporting Actress nominees.

Like his co-star, she’s from the UK¬†but she effortlessly portrayed an American. She’s been working in a variety of TV and film, so I feel kinda bad that I hadn’t seen her until this year. There’s a certain elegance and tortured soul about her that makes her so intriguing to watch.¬†I’m hoping¬†her career would benefit from the Oscar buzz and that she’d be getting more and more prominent roles.

What’s Next: Jazz biopic Born to Be Blue with Ethan Hawke

Jack Huston

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I noticed Jack Huston when I saw American Hustle, but it wasn’t until Night Train in Lisbon that I¬†became a fan. Huston has quite a Hollywood pedigree, being the grandson of famed filmmaker John Huston and nephew of Anjelica Huston. But the 32-year-old Londoner is a talented actor in his own right.

I like that he has one of those *ethnically hard to pin down* look about him that makes him suitable to play different kinds of ethnicity. In Night¬†Train to Lisbon he played a Portuguese doctor and an American mobster in American Hustle. As many actors who grew up in the UK, he’s got a knack for accents which makes him even more versatile. I wasn’t thrilled at all when they announced they’re remaking Ben-Hur, but since they cast Huston in the titular role, I’m actually intrigued! I’d love to see more of him in a variety of roles, as he’s far more interesting to watch than a lot of Hollywood A-listers working today.

What’s Next: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (as Mr. Wickham) and the Ben-Hur remake

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Rebecca Ferguson

Ferguson

My friend Ashley had told me about the Starz’s miniseries The White Queen a while back, but I haven’t got around to seeing it. Well, it’s on the top of my Amazon Prime queue now after I saw Rebecca in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. I really couldn’t shut up about how impressed I was with her in that role. It was surely a kick-ass performance but she didn’t just¬†pull off the physicality of the role, but she elevates the role into so much more. She’s equally as intriguing as Tom Cruise if not more so, and no doubt she’s the most memorable part about that film.

As I’ve blogged about here, I’m thrilled to see her cast in The Girl on the Train and I’m glad she didn’t end up becoming Channing Tatum’s love interest in Gambit. She’s so much more interesting to be pigeonholed into action roles, and so I hope Hollywood realizes that.

What’s Next: She’ll be in the upcoming espionage drama Despite The Falling Snow.¬†She’ll be starring with Sam Reid, wahoo!!
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Sarah Snook

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Sometimes it only takes a single film for you to become an instant fan of a performer. That’s the case with Sarah Snook, who single-handedly stole the time travel sci-fi film Predestination with her outstanding performance.

As I mentioned in my review, it was a revelatory performance from the Aussie actress whose educated at National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. It’s quite a complex role with multiple layers but it’s so rewarding to see how she tackles each one convincingly and with so much heart.

What’s Next: She has a small role in the Aussie-set drama starring Kate Winslet, The Dressmaker. She’s also in the Steve Jobs film with Michael Fassbender. I hope she lands a leading role soon, she deserves it!
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Stanley Weber

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Well I think this one doesn’t need much introduction if you’ve been reading my blog this year. I have mentioned him practically every week since I discovered him on April 5 in the Scottish rom-com Not Another Happy Ending (yes I even remembered the date!). It’s one of those spellbound moments that doesn’t happen very often, but once it did, well, it’s REALLY hard to snap out of it ūüėõ

I’ve posted a full tribute for him here that list five of my favorite roles of his so far. It takes more than a pretty face for me to be obsessed with someone, and Stanley certainly is a dedicated actor who can handle stage, TV AND film roles, in fact that’s what he’s juggling this year alone. I LOVE actors who loves to mix things up and not afraid to look unglamorous for a role. It’d be tough to make this Frenchman look ugly though, I mean he’s still so beautiful even with THIS haircut for his upcoming role as a Jesuit priest in Pilgrimage.

What’s Next: I can’t freakin’ wait to see Stanley in STARZ’s Outlander season 2, the adventure drama Pilgrimage, and the French WWII drama¬†L‚Äôorigine de la violence. Hopefully all of them will be out next year!!
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Honorable Mentions:

I hadn’t heard of any of these five impressive performers prior to 2015, but I’m glad I saw them and I hope they continue to find prominent roles in Hollywood.

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Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)

The Swedish actress seems to have had quite an astronomical rise to stardom in Hollywood.¬†She had been working in her native country until about 2012 when she was cast with Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair.¬†I didn’t see Anna Karenina until earlier this year on the plane, in which she had a small role, but it wasn’t until Ex Machina that I really took notice of her. She has this delicate physique¬†but a formidable screen charisma that makes her so lovely to watch. It’s no surprise she is one busy girl, with three more films scheduled to open later this year, as well as the untitled Bourne film with Matt Damon next year.

Grigoriy Dobrygin (A Most Wanted Man)

As I was watching the John le Carr√© spy drama, one of the performances that intrigued me was by the actor who portrayed the mysterious Issa Karpov. I found out later that Dobrygin is a Russian actor who’s a classically-trained ballet dancer. He apparently won a Silver Bear award for Best Actor at Berlin Film Festival for Russian film How I Ended This Summer.

I definitely would love to see more of him in Hollywood, hopefully he will continue acting and not go back to go back to ballet. Per The Guardian, he has just finished on Susanna White’s Our Kind of Traitor, with Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Naomie Harris.

Karidja Touré (Girlhood)

Another French actor who caught my eye and this was her feature film debut! The 21-year-old has that undeniable charm and screen presence on top of her acting talent. Her parents are from the Ivory Coast but she was born in France and grew up in Paris. I hope she’d get the same opportunities as fellow French actor from north African origin, Omar Sy, who had a breakout role in The Intouchables. He’s gone to big budget route such as Jurassic World, but I’d like to see Tour√© in smaller films that would offer her a chance to show what she’s capable of.

Maika Monroe (The Guest)

The Guest feature two awesome performances from relative newcomers. I’m already familiar with Dan Stevens from his period drama days in the UK, though most Americans probably saw him here for the first time. I hadn’t seen Monroe before however, and right away I thought she has an uncanny resemblance to Gwen Stefani. She also has that cool factor, that effortless swagger of a rock star that makes her fun to watch. She’s also in the buzzed-about horror flick It Follows, so I think the 22-year-old Californian has a long career ahead of her.

Taron Egerton (Kingsman)

Speaking of swagger, there’s plenty of that to be found on the 25-year-old Welsh native. There’s a devil-may-care attitude in him that I find endearing, which reminds me a bit of Tom Hardy when I first saw him on screen. I haven’t seen him in a serious drama yet so I’m curious to see how he fares in that. Hollywood’s certainly taken notice of him, as he’s been cast as the Robin Hood reboot. We’ll also see him along with Hardy in LEGEND later this year.

Matthias Schoenaerts (Far from the Madding Crowd)

The Belgian actor has been working pretty steadily since the early 2000s but for some reason I just never got around to seeing any of his films until earlier this year. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting him in the role of Gabriel Oak, a classic romantic hero in Victorian England, but he won me over with his sensitive portrayal.¬†He‚Äôs all doe-eyed with a hint of smolder‚Ķ not the steamy kind of smolder,¬†but one infused with such sincerity that makes it easy to root for him. I said in my review that he reminds me a bit of Viggo Mortensen, and that’s a good thing. Curious to see what role he’d tackle next, but I probably should go back and check out his older films.


Thoughts on any of these actors? Are you a fan of their work?

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FlixChatter Review: Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

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I have to admit the first time I heard about this novel was a few¬†years ago when Richard Armitage’s character in the Christmas edition of Vicars of Dibley mentioned this Thomas Hardy’s novel as his favorite. Well, I remember reaching about what that novel was about and was immediately hooked. So a headstrong woman in Victorian England¬†attracts three very different suitors, I definitely like the sound of that.

In stories like this, casting is crucial and that’s why I approach this review more from that angle. Let me start with the heroine, Bathsheba Everdene.

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I love the fact that¬†Bathsheba is played by Carey Mulligan who’s appropriately free spirited and convincing as an independent young woman. A woman living in 19th-century England would not straddle her horse like she does when she rides, and she works the farm just as hard as any man.

When she first encountered Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer, he’s immediately smitten and it’s easy to see why.¬†Matthias Schoenaerts, who somehow reminds me of Viggo Mortensen in this role, portrays Gabriel with deep vulnerability. He’s all doe-eyed with a hint of smolder… not the steamy kind of smolder,¬†but one infused with such sincerity that makes it easy to root for him.

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Their two lives somehow turned out drastically different ‚ÄĒ Bathsheba¬†became wealthy when she suddenly inherited her uncle’s estate, whilst Gabriel came to a misfortune¬†in one tragic night. The interesting dynamic of their circumstances only adds to the intrigue of their relationship, especially given how a female boss was quite a rare occurrence back in the day. I like how the film shows how Bathsheba tried to defy convention the best way she could, to make in a man’s world and be taken seriously as a farm owner.

The next suitor is more of Bathsheba’s equal in terms of economic status though he’s considerably older in age. Michael Sheen gives a dignified presence to William Boldwood, but also the appropriate¬†sensitivity¬†of someone who’s financially successful but one who’s been unlucky in love. The relationships between Bathsheba and these two men are especially engaging, it’s made a bit trickier by the fact that Boldwood likes Gabriel and appreciate his¬†fervent¬†loyalty.

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I’ve mentioned in this post that the casting of the third suitor is disappointing. Sergeant Frank Troy is described as a handsome, irresponsible and impulsive young man… so¬†I imagine an actor¬†with devilish charisma and undeniable sex appeal for the role. Well, no offense Tom Sturridge but you ain’t that person and you certainly did NOT convince me as someone Bathsheba would risk everything for. Thus, her abrupt decision seems so out of character and doesn’t feel true.

Yes, the much-talked-about swordsmanship scene in the woods was beautifully-filmed but that’s more of a testament of¬†Thomas Vinterberg‘s directing and his ability to create such an ethereal ambiance. I wanted to THAT scene to take my breath away, to be rendered speechless and all tingly from the sheer passion of the two characters, but it just wasn’t to be. The love scene that follows also lacks any kind of eroticism, which made the entire relationship lackluster. It also didn’t help that Sturridge just doesn’t look like a soldier or someone with a hint of danger that could tame or intimidate¬†a¬†woman¬†like Bathsheba. I believe that¬†charisma, especially of a sexual nature, is not something an actor can train for.

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The way the story unfolds is rather predictable. Yes it’s based on a novel so people who’ve read it would’ve known how things turns out, but for those who haven’t, Vinterberg didn’t create any suspense that’d make us guess who Bathsheba will end up with. But Vinterberg’s strength behind the camera is creating a lush and atmospheric look that serves the story well, thanks largely to his frequent collaborator Charlotte Bruus Christensen who also did the cinematography for The Hunt.

There’s a certain melancholy in the film to be expected but it doesn’t feel corny or contrived. Mulligan and¬†Schoenaerts who share the most screen time have a lovely chemistry… the way they steal glances every chance they get is the kind of stuff romantic dramas are made of. Apart from that, I was kind of expecting something a bit more unconventional from Vinterberg. I was so impressed by The Hunt and this one seems like a lesser film by comparison, though¬†it’s not exactly an apples and oranges kind of comparison, but in general sense. This feels more Hollywood, safer and less edgy,¬†but thankfully there are still things I like about it.

I have to say that¬†the fact that sound went out for about 3-4 minutes during the final scene between Bathsheba and Gabriel! It was excruciating¬†because it’s supposed to be a key emotional scene. The sound came back¬†2 minutes before the ending¬†but still, that was awful that it happened. I’m not going to fault this film for that snafu of course, but the miscasting of Sgt. Troy is a big one for me. It did not derail the film but it prevents the film from being a truly compelling and fiery romantic drama that I had expected.

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Have you seen this film? Well, what did YOU think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Quick thoughts on ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ + Bloggin’ Break

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Happy Thursday everyone! What a week it’s been. I went to the Christopher Nolan lecture at the Walker Art Museum on Tuesday and last night was the Far for the Madding Crowd screening.¬†My post on both of those would have to wait until I’m back from vacation. But I have to share my first reaction about the latest Thomas Hardy’s cinematic adaptation:

In the novel, Troy is described as “handsome, vain, young, and irresponsible,” he is to be Bathsheba’s sexual awakening, but from the second Troy’s introduced on screen (played by Tom Sturridge), he just did NOT fit my idea of such a character. SPOILER ALERT [if you don’t want to know the plot, don’t read below the photo]

He looks more like someone from some boy band like One Direction with his full head of hair and effeminate-looking face and body. The swordsmanship scene is well-directed but Troy himself didn’t leave me breathless… and naturally the sex scene lacks passion. My girlfriend asked me as we walked out the theater if Troy is supposed to be some soldier wanna-be or something as he just doesn’t have that strapping look of a military man. Heh, I haven’t seen the 1967 version but Terence Stamp looked far more convincing as Troy. It’s a pity because I have no problem with other two male actors (Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Sheen), and I adore Carey Mulligan as the heroine Bathsheba.

Bathsheba_Troy_MaddingCrowdYou may accuse me of being biased given how I feel about Stanley Weber these days, but seriously, if only I had been a casting agent for the film, I’d cast him as Troy in a heartbeat. He’s played a charming, sexy bad boy with aplomb as Juan Borgia, someone SO devilishly bad but oh-so-irresistible. I’m sure¬†he can work on perfecting a British accent, but charisma, especially of a sexual nature, is not something an actor can train for.

Now that I got that out of the way… let’s get to those great links, shall we?

Josh did his May Oscar predictions whilst Andrew posted his 4 Ways a Best Picture roundtable. Never too early to talk about awards I guess.

Tom and Mark are hosting the Decades Blogathon. Spots are filling up fast!

Andina just posted her top 10 fave movies of 2014, glad we agree on the #1 pick!

Speaking of top 10, Chris got me all nostalgic in this post of top 10 Janet Jackson songs

To celebrate her 5th blogaversarry, Mettel Ray have been posting a bunch of top 5 lists, the latest one being Top 5 Trios

Over at Dan’s Top 10 Films blog, Rodney posted his top 10 Films of cinematographer¬†Andrew Lesnie who just passed away

On to reviews…

Margaret, Sidekick Reviews and Melissa did a recap of the latest Game of Thrones episodes

Lots of foreign movie reviews that have been popping up this week, which is interesting as I’ve been watching a ton of French movies and videos ūüėČ

Jordan reviewed this Spanish/Danish film Jauja

Steven reviewed Au Revoir Les Enfants (Goodbye Children)

Keith reviewed L’avventura

And last but not least, Jay posted some mini reviews including some terrible movies you should avoid!


Time for a Blog Break!

Well¬†my hubby and I¬†be going on a week-long vacation to celebrate our¬†wedding anniversary. We’re going to Tampa for a few days and then Orlando to visit…

WizardingWorldHPWizardingWorldHP2I’ve been wanting to check out the Harry Potter theme park for some time. I always enjoy going to these type of stuff, makes me feel young again ūüėČ But I’m also looking forward for some r&r at some of the best beaches in the area, like Clearwater Beach, visit Greek town Tarpon Springs and maybe head south to Sanibel Island!


So see you in about a week, folks! If you have any travel tips for the Orlando/Tampa area, please do let me know.