St Patrick’s Day Special: Five memorable scenes set in beautiful Ireland

HappyStPatricksDayAre you wearing green today? Today we’re all Irish, right? 😉 I celebrated last year’s St Paddy’s Day by paying tribute to some of the best Irish actors working in Hollywood today. Today I thought I’d set my eyes on some gorgeous Irish sceneries in movies, which is always one of the best things about the film itself. Ireland is one of those places I haven’t got the good fortune to visit, hopefully one day in the near future I could spend hours walking in those wonderfully lush hills. For now I guess I’d just admire the scenery on screen.

CircleOfFriends

I saw this years ago and I’ve always thought of it fondly. Set in 1950s Ireland, Minnie Driver starred in this coming of age story on an Irish university student, Benny Hogan and her circle of friends, Nan and Eve. Chris O’Donnell is quite dreamy as the handsome lad Benny’s in love with. The scene of their first kiss is wonderfully moving and sweet, you can’t help but root for the two to be together. I can’t find the exact scene but it’s in this fan-made vid below. The scenery of Ireland countryside is absolutely gorgeous, the film is set on location in County Kilkenny, Ireland.

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PSILoveYou

When I visit Ireland one day, I just might have to go on a P.S. I Love You tour. Yep it does exist! Wicklow National Park is soooo gorgeous, I LOVE the scene when Gerry & Holly first met as she was trying to get the the park she’s already on, ahah. The scenery is so picturesque it’d distract you from Gerry Butler‘s hilarious Irish accent, ha!


LeapYearI have to admit that the Irish scenery – and the beauty that is Matthew Goode – is what kept me from turning off this mawkish drivel.

Goode_LeapYearThe premise alone should put off anyone, even the most loyal rom-rom fans, I mean a girl who believes it’s tradition to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day?? [facepalm] And of course she’s gonna end up with the gorgeous Irish dreamboat 😉 But ok, let’s focus on the positive, one of which is the scenery really that makes the movie so worth watching, especially the scene at Ballycarbery Castle. 

Ondine

Ok so I’ve actually never finished watching this one, though it’s been on my Netflix queue for ages. It sounds like another one of those films to see just for the scenery and atmospheric, moody harbor in County Cork. Colin Farrell is a convincing romantic hero and here he plays an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net whom his daughter believes to be some mythical creature. The film is like a love letter to his homeland from Irish director Neil Jordan.

VeronicaGuerin

This film takes place mostly in Dublin and we get to see the less glamorous side of the Irish capital. In fact, the gritty cinematography shows the dingy streets and slums of the city as the late Irish reporter Veronica Guerin took on a dangerous cause of exposing Dublin’s powerful crime barons and drug lords in the mid 90s. It’s one of Joel Schumacher‘s better works, featuring the great Cate Blanchett in yet another chameleonic role. Being shot on location definitely adds much realism to the gripping and tragic story.


The Secret of the Kells

Even in animated form, Ireland is absolutely breathtaking to look at. This mythical, ethereal film would be a great one to watch on St. Paddy’s Day, given that the story has such deep Irish roots. Per Wiki, the story is based on the story of the origin of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament located in Dublin, Ireland. It also draws upon Celtic mythology. Apparently the filmmaker Tomm Moore and the artists who drew the film were inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s works, so they decided to do something similar to Studio Ghibli’s films but with Irish art. There are too many great scenes to mention, basically the entire film is absolutely gorgeous.

SecretOfKells4 SecretOfKells3 SecretOfKells2 SecretOfKells1


Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! So what’s your favorite film(s) set in Ireland?

Summer Flix Time! The Five to Watch in June

TGIF! Summer movie season is finally here. After a lackluster Memorial weekend (which was the worst in terms of box office in 17 years), I’m looking forward to a bunch of movies coming out in the next few months.

To get things started, here are FIVE I’d [try to] watch this month. A mix of two ‘quiet’ indies, two high-octane action flicks and one beloved Pixar animated feature. There’s something for everyone, right? So here goes:

» June 2

  • Ondine
    The story is a fairy tale centered on an Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) who catches the mysterious Ondine (Alicja Bachleda) in his nets. After falling for one another, a dark figure from Ondine’s past threatens their love. Directed by Neil Jordan (Michael Colins, The Crying Game, The End of The Affair), and also stars fellow Irishman Stephen Rea, who’s been cast in nearly all of Jordan’s films.
    ..
    I was intrigued by this movie back when it premiered at TIFF last year. This new trailer revealed a bit more yet still retains its enigmatic quality, and the glowing review from Movieline I read recently made me REALLY want to see this. The fact that the Polish actress Bachleda and Farrell now have a child together since they met on set, you can bet they have a great chemistry together 🙂


» June 11

  • The A-Team
    You know the drill, but in case you’ve been living under a rock and never heard of this TV-show-based feature film, here’s the plot: A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.

    Check your analytical/skeptical mind at the door and just simply enjoy this movie for what it is: a loud, popcorn blockbuster. Just like Jessica Biel says in the trailer: “They are the best, and they specialize in the ridiculous!” So there, the more bombastic, the better!


  • I Am Love

    I AM LOVE tells the story of the wealthy Recchi family, whose lives are undergoing sweeping changes. Eduardo Sr., the family patriarch, has decided to name a successor to the reigns of his massive industrial company, surprising everyone by splitting power between his son Tancredi, and grandson Edo. But Edo dreams of opening a restaurant with his friend Antonio, a handsome and talented chef. At the heart of the family is Tancredis wife Emma (Tilda Swinton), a Russian immigrant who has adopted the culture of Milan. An adoring and attentive mother, her existence is shocked to the core when she falls quickly and deeply in love with Edos friend and partner Antonio, and embarks on a passionate love affair that will change her family forever. (per Apple trailer site).

    I’m not too familiar with Swinton’s work. The first time I saw her was in The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio years ago, then as the villainous white witch in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The London-born actress — whose paternal ancestry is one of the oldest in Scotland – won an Oscar for her performance in Michael Clayton. She always comes across as cold and ruthless for some reason, but in this one she shows her warm, sultry side. The trailer is as exquisite as the gorgeous poster (with that romantic, swirly font), it might as well double as an Italian travel promo video with those picturesque vista of Milan.


» June 18

  • Toy Story 3
    It’s amazing that an animated feature, about toys of all things, that started fifteen years ago still generates this much interest! But the amazing thing with Pixar is, they just might be able to top the first two! Check out this retro style Groovin’ with Ken promo clip that debut in last year’s San Diego ComicCon. I’ve never even been into Barbie doll stuff, but I’m totally digging this hilarious video. Ken is voiced by Michael Keaton, it’s going to be a hoot!
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    Still, there’s no clip of Timothy Dalton’s voice as Mr. Pricklepants! [big pout] I guess I’d just have to wait a couple more weeks 😦 Anyway, you can check out the trailer on my previous post.

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» June 25

  • Knight & Day

    My colleague Ted recently quipped, ‘Tom Cruise passed on SALT to do this? It’s the same movie!’ The role then went to Angelina Jolie and the character name went from Edwin to Evelyn. Anyway, he’s got a point there, but SALT looks so darn serious, while Knight & Day looks sprightly and whimsical, a sure-fire recipe for a quintessential Summer flick. Cruise and Cameron Diaz aren’t my fave actors in Hollywood, but the trailer looks like fun and they seem to have had a blast making this. Plus, I like espionage-themed movies with car chases and outrageous gunfights. The filming locations in Austria, Spain, and Jamaica will surely provide a scenic backdrop for those action sequences.
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So what do you think folks? What are you excited to watch this month?

FlixChatter’s picks of buzz-worthy TIFF movies

The Toronto Film Festival wrapped this past weekend. The last 10 days, 250+ feature films from 60 countries had been screened there, making it a bustling marketplace for films and bidding war for studios has officially begun.

Various sites and blogs have been covering the festival from day one, blog about the most buzzed-about movies at TIFF. Cinemablend’s posted Toronto’s 5 Most Talked About Movies; Canadian’s TheStar.com news site has put their annual Chasing the Buzz poll selected by a panelist of cinephiles (which tally the votes of 56 most-anticipated flicks from the festival); indiewire listed their picks of ‘winners, losers and the Oscar worthy;’ and my personal favorite festival source The Playlist blog have all kinds of news and reviews of noteworthy TIFF movies. According to CBC news, the winner of TIFF’s People Choice Award this year is Precious, which my friend Jeannette tipped me off a couple of weeks ago (thanks J!). It’s an urban coming-of-age tale of a teen girl who tries to overcome abuse, illiteracy and teen pregnancy. Starring comedian Mo’Nique, one of the executive producers is Oprah, who got on board upon hearing its buzz at Sundance the beginning of the year. All of this reminds me I have to rent last year’s winner at TIFF, Slumdog Millionaire (yes, I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t seen that one).

In any case, out of all the buzzed-about flicks, there are probably only a handful of them I wouldn’t mind seeing. A bunch of them that got rave reviews are either too bizarre or controversial for my taste.

So here goes:

Clooney in Up in the Air
Clooney in Up in the Air

  • Up in the Air
    George Clooney stars as a downsizing expert in a dramedy by Juno director Jason Reitman. I’m no Clooney fan by a long shot, but I’m intrigued by the plot that seems very timely with all the jobs lost in the airline industry. The supporting cast are made up of real comic talents: Danny McBride, J.K. Simmons, and Jason Bateman (wow, he’s one busy dude!), and an up ‘n coming actress who drew rave reviews, Anna Kendrick.
  • Bright Star
    The life story of poet John Keats fascinates me, and I’m a sucker for unrequited love stories. The trailer looks great – Ben Wishaw & Abbie Cornish seem to have great chemistry. The Playlist calls it “… an exquisite piece of cinema, gorgeously sewn and lovingly realized...” From the director of The Piano, Jane Campion, I’m just glad there won’t be a naked Harvey Keitel in this one [shudders].
  • Leaves of Grass
    I’ve been anticipating this one since July, where Ed Norton plays identical twins: one’s an ivy league professor, the other a crooked pot dealer (is there any other kind?). The Playlist was surprised that this is more than a hilarious pot comedy: “…pot comedy, family identity drama, anti-semitism commentary, violent drug thriller and intolerance parable with deep philosophical themes...” Whoaa… I didn’t expect that, either. Leave it to Norton to flabbergast and leave us dumbfounded, wouldn’t expect anything less since I first saw him in Primal Fear.
  • The Joneses
    I’ve been a longtime fan of David Duchovny, and it’s been a while since I saw Demi Moore in a feature film. Another timely premise about all-American consumerism run amok, it looks funny yet thought provoking. Duchovny is excellent in a satire with his witty and deadpan humor. This role of husband/father in a seemingly perfect and too-good-to-be-true suburban family seems to fit him perfectly. The Hollywood Reporter had mostly great things to say about the movie, which is a debut of first-time writer/director Derrick Borte.

Collin Farrell in Ondine
Collin Farrell & Alicja Bachleda in Ondine

  • Ondine
    Now, this one took me by surprise as I haven’t heard about it until I read the buzz surrounding TIFF, but it’s one that definitely piqued my interest. The Playlist calls it a “… romantic and wondrous fairytale … about an Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) whose life is transformed when a gorgeous female sea nymph is caught in his fishing net (Alicja Bachleda)”  Shot in Ireland during the Hollywood’s writers’ strike, the Neil Jordan’s film looks lush and ethereal and well, dreamy. I recently read that Farrell fell in love with polish actress Bachelda during filming, so we can probably expect a genuine chemistry between the two.
  • The man who stare at goats
    Another Clooney movie, whaddayaknow? Hmmm, I must be warming up to him which is so unlike me… but I can’t help it after I saw the trailer. Ewan McGregor — another Scot who fails miserably attempting an American accent — plays the reporter who encounters an enigmatic Special Forces operator (Clooney). The scene of them in the desert pretty much sold me on this one, not to mention the goat-staring one. Everybody looks hilarious in this black comedy that’s interestingly enough is based on a true story! A hilarious exploration of the government’s attempts to harness paranormal abilities to combat its enemies, that’s the premise of the Jon Ronson’s best seller that inspired it. Jeff Bridges, reprising The Big Lebowski‘s dude again as psychic program founder, as well as Kevin Spacey round up the excellent cast.
  • Young Victoria
    Another costume drama based on a true story, this time with my fave actress Emily Blunt as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. The Playlist pretty much credited her and Rupert Friend — who plays Prince Albert — for carrying the movie on their shoulders, “They’re dynamite together, displaying a rare chemistry – they carry the movie on their shoulders, and you can’t fail to be moved by the strength of the relationship that the actors develop.” The trailer looks awesome — with beautiful costumes & stunning scenery — but I’ve heard that music before. Why is it that they keep using similar scores for different movies? Kind of like when Gladiator came out, almost every action films that followed use that same type of ethereal-sounding score! Sorry I digress. I’m definitely going to see this one. Instead of forbidden or tragic love story, it’s nice to see the start of an enduring and happy marriage portrayed on screen.

There are probably a few others that I’m forgetting about tonight. I’ll post ’em later as I remember them. Boy, too many flicks, too little time!