Valentine Special – Who’s your favorite romantic on-screen couples?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope it’s been a lovely day for you, wherever you are and whatever your love life is like. I actually don’t make a big fuss about V-day generally, especially the older I get. I actually told my hubby not to get me flowers this year, I mean, I still have a huge bouquet of roses from my dear brother for my birthday a few days ago, I wouldn’t know where to put another one.

MoulinRougeKiss

In any case, since I think in terms of movies, V-day always makes me think of favorite romantic pairings on screen. I’ve listed my top 10 three years ago, and the pairing of Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge! is still my fave to this day!

Well, today I’m going to highlight ten of my recent favorite on-screen romantic couples, both on film and TV. Pictures do speak louder than words, and so here we go…

Click on each image to read my review of each film

Brooklyn
Eilis & Tony – ‘Brooklyn’
IATIHK
Ruby & Josh – ‘It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong’
AgeofAdaline
Adaline & Ellis – ‘The Age of Adaline’
Belle
Belle & John – ‘Belle’
FarFromTheMaddingCrowd
Gabriel & Bathsheba – ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’
BeyondtheLights
Noni & Kaz – ‘Beyond the Lights’
Daredevil
Matt & Claire – ‘Daredevil’
Cinderella
Ella & Prince Kit – ‘Cinderella’
Creed
Adonis & Bianca – ‘Creed’
PPZ
Darcy & Lizzie – ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’


Now I turn it over to you…
Who are YOUR favorite recent cinematic romantic couples?

Everybody’s Chattin + Music Break: Moulin Rouge’s YOUR SONG

EverybodysChattin

Happy Wednesday all! Boy I felt like I’ve worked five days already the way my life’s been going… SO. MUCH. TO. DO. I do enjoy all the Twin Cities Film Fest festivities though, I’ve talked to so many great filmmakers/talents, whether in person or via email, so hopefully y’all will stop by next week for the start of my TCFF 2015 coverage!

Well, I’m never too busy to do some community blogging post, hey that’s what makes the blogging world go around 😉

So about those links…

You might’ve read my thoughts on the latest Peter Pan adaptation, but hey, some people actually loved PAN, so check out Andrew‘s and Josh‘s take on it.

Meanwhile, I have yet to read a bad review of SICARIO and Mark is another blogger who loved it.

Since October is popular for horror fans, Chris posted mini reviews of a bunch of horror flicks.

My pal Cindy is hosting a discussion on the Shakespearean classic The Lion In Winter. I’m glad I got to see it in its entirety this past weekend.

On the TV front, Margaret reviewed the first episode of provocative series American Horror Story‘s fifth season and calls it a triumphant return. The Flash also just had a season premiere, its second, and Rodney has some fine praise for it.

Last but not least, Nostra reviewed another documentary on British street artist Banksy: Banksy Does New York. Boy this reminds me I still need to see Exit Through the Gift Shop!


Music Break/Scene Spotlight

I’ve been listening to Moulin Rouge!‘s soundtrack in my car lately. I used to listen to it constantly after I saw it more than a decade ago and I still loved it now. I was going to highlight Come What May but then I realize I had done that for a music break three years ago. There are SO MANY lovely scenes in this movie, but this is the first time I heard Ewan McGregor sing in the movie and I was immediately transfixed!

I love how romantic and whimsical this scene is, and Ewan has such an intoxicating earnestness whilst he’s singing it. The production design of Satine’s elephant room is so gorgeous and fun to look at. In fact, this whole sequence is perhaps my favorite romantic fantasy sequence ever put on screen. Moulin Rouge! shall remain my favorite Baz Luhrmann’s film, it never fails to put a smile on my face.


Hope you enjoyed today’s music break!

Question of the Week: What’s Your Favorite Movie Set In Paris?

Happy midweek, everyone! Pardon me for being extra chirpy today as it’s only two days away before my hubby & I are off to Europe. As I’ve mentioned here, we’re going to Amsterdam – Bruges – Paris to be exact, but we’re spending the most time in Paris. We’re renting an apartment in the 15th arrondissement area for 6 nights via airbnb.com, something we’ve never done before but that’s part of the adventure as we’ll be staying away from the tourist-y area.

We wanted to visit Bruges because we saw how gorgeous it is in the 2008 movie In Bruges with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. That’s perhaps the most famous movie featuring the Belgian city, but Paris has been quite a staple in various films, Hollywood or otherwise. Just look at this super long list in Wikipedia. In fact, this weekend we saw 2 Days In Paris, which was written & directed by Julie Delphy who also starred in it with Adam Goldberg as her American boyfriend.

2DaysInParis

It’s a pretty cute movie, a bit vulgar in parts but also hilarious and has a wonderful scenery of Paris through the lens of a real Parisian, so it doesn’t look too glamorized. Well, it made me think of other movies I’ve enjoyed that’s set in the City of Light, whether in parts or in its entirety.

Midnight In Paris

Moulin Rouge

An Education

Inception

Paris Je T'aime – Père Lachaise Cemetery

Sabrina 1995

Phantom Of the Opera 2004

I know for sure I’d want to visit some of the main landmarks featured in some of my favorite movies. I’ve booked my tour to Palais Garnier where the Phantom of the Opera is set in, which is pretty close to the Père Lachaise Cemetery where Rufus Sewell and Emily Mortimer’s sequence is set in Paris Je T’aime. Of course Midnight in Paris has a bunch of great Parisian locations, and I have this site to use as a guide. But what I look forward to the most is just enjoying the ambiance and simply being in Paris, strolling through the streets and along the Seine river, people watching whilst sitting in a café, etc.


So my question to you today is, what’s YOUR favorite movie set in Paris?

Music Break: The Great Gatsby’s Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey

I have the Moulin Rouge!‘s soundtrack frequently playing in my car, so I admire Baz Luhrmann‘s creative use of music in his films. He’s known for using contemporary music in his films set in retro setting, and this one is no different.

GreatGatsbySoundtrack

NPR calls the Aussie filmmaker “…cinema’s boldest remixer, infusing familiar works with new rhythms that refresh their relevance…” Instead of going with what the Jazz Age that F. Scott Fitzgerald prominently featured in his novels, Luhrmann boldly mixed in hip hop, R&B, indie pop, rock, etc. in the film’s soundtrack. Music mogul Jay-Z executive produced the soundtrack, so naturally it also featured his wife Beyonce’s music.

Now, I’ve been obsessed with Lana Del Rey‘s track Young & Beautiful. I’ve been listening to it endlessly, sometimes half a dozen times in a row 😀

“Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful / Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul / I know you will, I know you will / I know that you will.”

That music is used in this extended TV spot:


After seeing the film last night, I still regard this song as my absolute favorite. Del Rey wrote the track with Rick Nowels and she described Luhrmann’s take on the F Scott Fitzgerald classic as “highly glamorous and exciting”. “It was an honor to work with Baz Luhrmann on his amazing adaptation of one of the most extraordinary books ever written,” the singer said. (per Digital Spy)

LanaDelReyGreatGatsbyI LOVE the melody of the song and Lana’s evocative and seductive voice makes for a soulful yet poignant rendition… Just like Jay Gatsby’s life where he’s surrounded by so many beautiful things, the mansion, the clothes, the endless parties… he’s still aching for that something that money can’t buy. That ‘I know you will‘ line uttered over and over again perfectly captures the nature of this tragic figure… as hope and dream is the prominent theme in Fitzgerald’s literary classic.

I’m glad that this song is featured prominently in the movie, instead of only playing during the end credits. In fact, I thought the scene fits the song nicely, and it’s actually played more than once. I hope to have my review done yet this week but my initial reaction is I dug it, I think Baz’s style and his ‘more is more’ philosophy fits the theme of the story and despite my initial quibble about the 3D aspect, it’s actually one of the best use of such format I’ve seen so far.


Hope you enjoy this music break. Thoughts on this song and/or The Great Gatsby‘s soundtrack?

Top 3 Favorite Nicole Kidman Roles

This post is for the current LAMB Acting School 101 on Nicole Kidman.  As I haven’t got a chance to catch up on a ton of her work (as I’ve mentioned here), I decided to just choose the top three favorite roles of the 11 films I’ve seen her in so far.

I actually include Nicole in my Movie Alphabet I did recently as I generally quite like her and I think she’s one of the most glamorous Hollywood actress working today. I included her in the Honorable Mentions in my Top 10 Hottest Aussie Actors, but in hindsight, I’d probably swap Sam Worthington with her as I’m not too fond of him lately.

I do think Nicole should lay off on the Botox and not be so obsessed with looking perfect as she ends up looking so plastic with scary lips! I mean the statuesque 5’11” actress looked so fresh when she was starting out, with her freckles and glorious curly red hair. I mean just look at her photos from then and now…

In any case, she is a talented actress and I give her props for trying out different genres and not afraid to portray morally-ambiguous, even down-right evil characters. I thought she was pretty good in the far-more-watchable Joel Schumacher Batman movie Batman Forever with Val Kilmer. An interesting trivia – She has co-starred with four actors who’ve played Batman in a movie: In My Life (1993) with Michael Keaton, Batman Forever (1995) with Val Kilmer, The Peacemaker (1997) with George Clooney and The Portrait of a Lady (1996) with Christian Bale.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work, especially her Oscar-winning performance in The Hours, as well as her most recent ones such as Hemingway & Gellhorn with Clive Owen and her role as the eternal beauty Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks of Nicole’s Top 3 performances:

To Die For (1995)

I saw this years ago but was impressed by her fearless performance as a ruthless TV personality who’s willing to get what she wants, no matter what the cost, even killing her own husband! She’s the ultimate femme fatale: seductive and dangerous! Apparently she fought to get this role and was quite relentless in that pursuit, even tracking down director Gus Van Sant & calling him personally. Well, it paid off and I think she won a Golden Globe for her performance. Joaquin Phoenix turned in a memorable performance as well.


Moulin Rouge! (2001)

I adore this film and it stands as one of my all-time favorite musicals. I wasn’t sure about the pairing of Ewan McGregor and Nicole at first, but they both wowed me here. Not only did they sound fabulous singing together, they also have excellent chemistry here. Nicole was appropriately sultry as an elite courtesan, but she also displays her comic timing in the scene where Satine first met Ewan’s character whom she thought was the Duke in her bedroom! She also conveys believable pathos towards the third part of the film, displaying her versatility as an actress.

Far & Away (1992)

She’s done three films with her ex-husband Tom Cruise but I pick this one as I don’t think I’ll be seeing Eyes Wide Shut and I barely remember Days of Thunder. I actually saw this on the big screen with my brother years ago and I remember really enjoying it. Ok, the Irish accent is all over the place but I like the feisty chemistry between her and Cruise, she was quite feisty in her role and she still has that fresh-face look with her red curly hair.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

NINE – She’s not my favorite female actress in this film (that would be Marion Cottilard) but I thought she was pretty good as Claudia, as the muse of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Guido. She has a beautiful voice and definitely suits the glamorous but icy demeanor that her role requires.


Well, that’s my favorite list so far, I might update this once I see more of Nicole’s films. What do you think of my picks?

Music(al) Break: Moulin Rouge’s Come What May

I was dusting off my CD collection the other day and found my Moulin Rouge soundtrack I used to listen every day for like two months after seeing the movie. So I’ve been listening to the CD in my car now. I LOVE, LOVE this movie, it’s so original, artsy and passionate.

Image from Daniella’s Bureau website

In any case, the musicals genre just might be back in style, what with Rock of the Ages, Sparkle and Les Miserables coming out the same year. It’s tricky to do a good musical, but Moulin Rouge is certainly one of the most creative. Baz has a great eye for elaborate costumes and fantastical set pieces, he seems to subscribe in ‘more is more’ philosophy but it works well here. He’s also got an ear for music, even the anachronistic style of using classic songs from Elton John, Whitney Houston, etc. as a dialog between Christian and Satine is just brilliant. I adore the Elephant Medley up on the roof. The El Tango De Roxanne is absolutely thrilling, it definitely tops this list of five awesome movie tango scenes.

Ewan McGregor has never looked more bewitching and Nicole Kidman is perfect as the stunning but icy object of his affection. They both have wonderful singing voice so their duets are really great to listen to over and over Listening to Ewan singing Your Song made me wish he had recorded an album, his voice is just gorgeous, and he sings with such confidence and passion. I tell you, what is it with gorgeous Scottish actors being awesome singers? 😉

My ALL TIME favorite has got to be the love theme, Come What May


The song is composed by David Baerwald for the film, and I love how the song appears in the film as Christian wrote the song for the musical Satine is starring in. It’s his way to secretly declare their love for each other. I’m not a hopeless romantic but it certainly can turn me into one. I think this shall stand to be my favorite movie from Baz Luhrmann, he seems to have a thing for tragic love stories, doesn’t he?


Hope you enjoyed the music break. Are you a fan of Moulin Rouge?

Actors who are (surprisingly) good singers

Ewan_NicoleMoulinRouge

As is often the case when I’m on YouTube, when I was browsing around to find Keira Knightley’s clip for yesterday’s post, I got sidetracked watching other similar clips. She’s just one of a handful of actors who surprisingly has a pretty decent singing voice. So I decided to list 10 of them that I think are particularly noteworthy. Now, I’m not talking about actors who may have some vocal training unrelated to a film role. Emmy Rossum, for example, who played Christine in Phantom of the Opera, she blew me away with her amazing Soprano but apparently she was trained at the NY Metropolitan Opera. I’m also excluding actors who double as singers/musicians, such as Scarlett Johansson, Russell Crowe with his The Ordinary Fear of God band, Keanu Reeves with Dogstar, and others listed here. But these are contemporary actors who blew us away with their singing voice, despite any vocal training prior to their given movie roles. So here goes:

Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman
I was totally dazzled by both of them in Moulin Rouge, especially by McGregor’s stunning voice. If he were to record an album one day, I’d definitely be the first to buy it! He’s got such amazing control for a non-singer, even during the high notes. His voice is the reason the movie’s soundtrack remains one of my favorites!

……
Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon

Not only did Joaquin and Reese have to sing all the Johnny Cash songs themselves, they also had to learn how to play the musical instruments from scratch. I thought they sounded really good together, not to mention the amazing chemistry between them. According to the movie’s trivia on IMDb, when Joaquin was learning how to sing and play guitar like Johnny Cash in the months following the start of filming, his voice was too high and the band had to learn how to play Cash’s songs in a higher key. But then just before they started filming, Joaquin’s voice dropped closer to John’s level and the band had to re-learn the songs in their original key.

I guess he is destined for a musical career after all, but I never thought in a million years it’d be rap! I certainly hope he’d come to his senses and return to the acting business.


……
Gwyneth Paltrow
I actually never saw Duets, but I heard this song she did with Huey Lewis on the radio and later learned it was indeed her own voice! I thought she sounded far better than actual singers. It’s interesting that she ended up marrying a lead singer of Coldplay. Wonder if she’d ever do a duet with Chris Martin? Nah, I doubt it.

……
Kevin Spacey

We know he’s a great actor, but when I saw him in Beyond the Sea, I thought he could definitely have a musical career if he wanted to. I’m sure the real Bobby Darin (pardon the misspelling earlier)  would’ve been proud, though he apparently died before he reached the actor’s age at the time he played him (44). I recently learned Spacey’s a great impersonator as well. He did a bunch of impersonations (Pacino, Brando, Chris Walken, etc.) during Inside the Actor’s Studio interview, and completely nailed every single one of them.

……
Gerard Butler
I’ve been listening to Andrew Llyod Webber’s music for as long as I can remember, but the second I heard Gerry sing the Music of the Night, I was done for. He may not have the best vocal chops, but there’s something about the way he sang each song that was so mesmerizing. In fact, I now prefer Gerry’s version of the Phantom songs than that of Michael Crawford’s!

He’s said in many interviews that he took vocal lessons as soon as he was considered (though not yet confirmed) for the role, and continued practicing the songs even during filming Dear Frankie. My favorite part is in the DVD deleted scene when he sang No One Would Listen.

Here’s also a clip from P.S. I Love You where he sang I Love You ‘Til The End. I don’t care what critics say about this film but I LOVE this film, and it’s one of Gerry’s best roles IMO (yes, playing a character also named Gerry no less!)

……
Val Kilmer
Most people probably know Kilmer is a good singer from playing Jim Morrison in The Doors. But I first heard him sing in this WWII spy movies parody Top Secret! where he played an American rock and roll singer Nick Rivers. His comic skills and vocals are amazing, he even got the Elvis moves down pat!


……
Kate Winslet
Apparently there’s few this multi-talented actress can’t do. Winslet sang this beautiful, melancholic song in Sense & Sensibility, where Col. Brandon first saw and fell in love with her. I thought she sounded really good even without a full orchestra behind her. She also sung in the musical comedy Romance & Cigarettes along with James Gandolfini.

……
Johnny Depp
Though he’s been a guitar player in several bands, according to IMDb, Sweeney Todd marked the first time he’d ever publicly sung in his life. This wasn’t Depp’s first musical, but his voice was actually dubbed in Cry Baby. To prepare for Sweeney’s role, he often practiced singing the songs during filming the third Pirates movie.


……


I’m sure I’m forgetting some important people here. Please do chime in if you think of other actors that belong in this list.