Wow, the first half of the year has come and gone! I don’t know about you but 2016 felt like a blur to me for some reason. I gotta do a list of the best 2016 movies so far.
Well, it has been a relatively busy month for me that I was unable to make a few screenings, i.e. Central Intelligence, Finding Dory. But I am looking forward to Captain Fantastic, Ghostbusters, Absolutely Fabulous and Suicide Squad later this month!
Look for Ted’s review of The Purge: Election Year, as well as my reviews of The BFG and The Legend of Tarzan next week!
Starz/BBC’s The White Queen (2013) The series that got me all obsessed over Richard III…
and Aneurin Barnard! 🙂
BBC Three’s Thirteen Miniseries (2016) I ended up watching all five episodes on my laptop
in just three days. Again, thanks to Aneurin!
BBC One’s War & Peace (2016) I haven’t finished this yet, just watched ep. 3 last night.
All three of these series have Aneurin in it 😉
Once I finish War & Peace, I might get into Mr. Robot!
So basically my rewatches consist of Sam Riley in period costumes being all sexy and bad ass! He played a vampire, a zombie hunter and a vengeful American cowboy in these three movies, respectively. Talk about being versatile! …
Learning history hasn’t been this much fun. I’m almost done w/ The Daughter of Time, and of course I picture Aneurin as Richard whenever I’m reading it 😉
MOVIE OF THE MONTH
It’s an easy pick this month. Zootopia is by far the best new release I saw this month, and will likely end up in my top 10 best list. Judy Hopps is such an awesome character, perhaps one of the best from Disney yet! …
Well that’s my viewing recap of June. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?
Time for another monthly recap, folks. Well, May is actually not a really great movie-watching month for me after a very busy April. I was pretty busy with my script and also my trip to Montréal/Québec City took up a lot of my time. But hey, I did manage to see Captain America: Civil War twice, and plenty of great rewatches too!
I went to see this again last night with my hubby and I still loved it!
As I mentioned in my review, this is such a delightful adaptation. Another Austen movie I could watch over and over for years to come.
Speaking of an Austen adaptation…
Of course I immediately purchased a Blu-ray copy of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies as soon as I left work. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more ardently in love with Sam Riley’s Darcy [le sigh] I know I’ll work that one to the ground in no time [not to mention my remote pause & rewind buttons, ehm] So yeah, suffice to say this is my favorite rewatch 😉 …
Well that’s my viewing recap of May. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?
Happy Midweek everybody! Well after a balmy March, April has been pretty darn cold, windy and downright blech! I can’t believe I had to wear my parka today and still I’m freezing my pants off. Well, I remember a snow storm a couple of years ago made me miss the screening for Mud during MSPIFF, so hopefully there won’t be any weather-related fiasco this year.
Speaking of MSPIFF, stay tuned for a wonderful interview post for one of the indie films (made in Minnesota!) I’m looking forward to this weekend. But in the meantime…
Let’s get to those awesome blog posts…
Looks like I’m not the only one excited about a local film festival. Jordan just posted about the French Film Festival in his town of Adelaide and looks like we’ll be seeing a couple of the same films.
Meanwhile, Khalid reviewed one of the films playing at MSPIFF, Dheepanwhich won a Palme d’Or at Cannes
Batman V Superman might’ve been awful, but the reviews have been entertaining. Such as this one by Margaret. And I so agree w/ what she said about Henry Cavill’s Superman!
Mark reviewed 10 Cloverfield Lane, which sounds like a pleasant surprise to many
Table9Mutant reviewed The Outsiders (1983) which I haven’t seen in ages, but she made me want to rewatch it!
Abbi posted four reviews in her Film Friday series, including The One I Love which sounds the most intriguing of them all.
Steven reviewed The Driver (1978) which was apparently inspired by Le Samourai
On the TV front, Nostra reviewed season 4 of House of Cards
Well, since I’m doing a music break today, I LOVE this Same Song, Different Movie series from Michael. This time it’s the lovely song Theme From A Summer Place by Max Steiner.
Really though, there are sooo many things to love about this movie. In fact the Art of the Title site just posted about the fantastic opening title sequence. Sam Riley’s Colonel Darcy isn’t the only one I’m crazy about, the movie is truly an eye AND ear candy! The score from Spanish composer Fernando Velázquez is absolutely lush and gorgeous, with a touch of dread which is just a perfect combination for a genre mashup movie. He’s done quite a lot of horror films in the past, including Guillermo del Toro produced The Orphanage and Crimson Peak, as well as the disaster drama film The Impossible.
I’ve literally been playing PPZ soundtrack every single day, even at the gym during warm up (I told you I’m obsessed!). The visual soundtrack gives you an idea the tone of the entire album. From the music alone, the refined & genteel Regency era meshes very well with the high action of zombie slaying!
Obviously I LOVE the Colonel Darcy intro and the music is just perfect to accompany his badassery. Right from the moment he steps off his horse in that long, leather duster, my heart was irrevocably gone 😉
These two tracks are simply gorgeous, just what one would expect from an Austen period drama… but with a slight twist.
Thanks Mr. Velázquez, this is now one of my favorite movie soundtracks!
As PPZ is more Austen than a zombie flick, it stays true to the core love story in Jane Austen’s classic romance. The music in this scene is beautiful and Riley’s raspy voice is music to my ear.
Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s music break, folks! What’s your fave 2016 soundtrack so far?
I cannot fix the hour or the spot, or the look or the words which lay the foundation…I was in the middle when I knew it had began…
That was a quote from Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and that pretty much applies to how I feel the same way about the actor playing him… Sam Riley.
I fall even more under Riley’s spell now… [le sigh]
Ok, so yeah, about that weekend roundup, well the past couple of weeks has been filled with quite a few Sam Riley movies: Control (2007), Maleficent (2014), Byzantium (2012) and Franklyn (2008). I didn’t get to see Brighton Rock (2010) yet but hopefully later this week. I’m astonished at his chameleonic ability as an actor, my appreciation post on him will be quite massive let me tell you.
I did see one new release this past week, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and got a chance to chat w/ the author of the book it’s based on, Kim Barker. Review & interview of that coming next week.
Ok, so these are my weekend viewing roundup, starting with…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
So this is the first 2016 movie I saw twice on the big screen… and I could’ve gone for a third if it’s still playing for another weekend. Alas, I’d have to settle for all the fun gifs and clips on Tumblr until the Bluray comes out. As you may’ve read in my review, I bloody love this movie and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Sam Riley & Lily James are now my favorite Darcy & Lizzie pairing amongst the plethora of P&P screen adaptations.
Ok so naturally, watching an alternative Jane Austen movie makes me want to re-watch one of my faves from a couple of years ago. As far an Austen-inspired films go, I actually think this one is even sillier than PPZ movie, believe it or not. Some of the supporting characters are so out there and freakishly bizarre that it made me cringe at times (though that Captain East is one spectacular eye candy). Jennifer Coolidge is a hoot but she went waaay over the top at times, yes even by her standards. But the romance of Darcy & Jane (JJ Feild & Keri Russell) is lovely and of course all the misunderstandings and repressed emotions are all the stuff Austen movies are made of. (my full review) ///
Man Up (2015)
This British rom-com has a rather unconventional pairing – Simon Pegg & Lake Bell, and that’s the reason I rented it. Bell played a single woman who inadvertently *stole* a stranger’s blind date, and the film took place over the course of a single night. Bell is a natural comedienne and here she gets to show her comedic chops, and also do a pretty convincing British accent.
It’s a pretty fun rom-com even though it doesn’t always avoid the trappings of the genre and is ultimately predictable, but the two likable leads made the movie feels fresh and genuinely funny. Rory Kinnear, who I often see in more serious movies so far, is so hilariously unhinged as Bell’s not-so-secret admirer. I LOVE the London scenery, both during the day and night, which adds to the film’s charm. The finale could’ve been a bit tighter and less verbose, but I think overall this movie is well worth checking out.
Well that’s my weekend recap. So what did YOU watch this weekend? Anything good?
Jane Austen’s brilliant work has endured over two centuries so far and it’s as relevant as ever. I’m not a purist Austen fan, as I actually enjoy alternative/re-imagining of her work, i.e. Lost in Austen, Bride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones Diary, Austenland, etc. But none are as outlandish as what Seth Grahame-Smith’s done in his book. I hadn’t read it, but when I first heard of the film adaptation back when Natalie Portman was supposed to play Elizabeth Bennet, I was already sold. Fast forward 6 years later, Portman is still attached as a producer but this time we’ve got an ensemble of up-and-coming British actors.
As with any mashup, it ought to offer a good balance of the two genres. Whilst I think it has a good mix of both, I do think that this might offer more for fans of period dramas as it might not be bloody/gory enough for zombie lovers. It’s heavy on action with a few jump scares and less on the horror side, which suits me just fine. It’s especially thrilling that director Burr Steers (who also wrote the script) is loyal to Austen’s text and the story is grounded in the timeless romance of Lizzie and Darcy. The social class commentary is also preserved, but of course we’ve got yet another layer beneath the lowest class, that is the undead.
The movie opens with the dashing Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley, perfectly-brooding AND bad-ass) who’s now a Colonel, visiting a wealthy estate in search of recently-turned zombies hiding amongst the living. Within minutes, we see Darcy’s decapitating an undercover zombie in his typical unperturbed stoicism. That scene is followed by a crafty storybook opening credit sequence that explains the fact that in lieu of the Napoleonic Wars, 19th century England is now overrun by hordes of the undead. In this universe though, people who’ve been bitten by the undead don’t immediately turn into full-on zombie until they’ve consumed human brains, hence they can still somehow hide in plain sight.
In order to survive in the world plagued by zombies, they had to be trained in weaponry and martial arts. Apparently the upper class folks have been trained in Japan, whilst those of lesser means, like the Bennet sisters, were trained in China. There’s an amusing bit where Lizzie speaks in Chinese to prove to Darcy that she’s read the proper text of The Art of War. As they say, all is fair in love and war, and thus the zombie apocalypse certainly ups the stakes for everyone involved.
Faithful to the Pride & Prejudice text, the film still has the scenes that Austen fans would expect to see. We still have the Bennet sisters spending time with the family, except that instead of knitting, they’re polishing their muskets and swords. “My daughters are trained for battle… not the kitchen,” Mr Bennet says at one point, played with dignified grace by Charles Dance. We’ve also got the formal ball where Lizzie and Darcy first meet, and it’s played out just like in the original in that they did not get off on the right foot. I must say Lily James is one formidable Lizzie Bennet, even if she is still too pretty for the role just like Keira Knightley was. Miss Bennet is already a feminist icon to begin with, here the female empowerment element is pumped up even more as she’s a Kung-fu warrior who defiantly says that she’d “never relinquish her sword for a ring” and that the right man wouldn’t ask her to.
But of course, the two headstrong pair soon find themselves attracted to each other. It’s crucial in any Pride & Prejudice adaptation that Lizzie and Darcy has chemistry and here they have that in spades. Lizzie is no damsel in distress, and by the time she and her four sisters slash a throng of zombies in slo-mo fashion, it’s Darcy who’s hyperventilating. The entire Bennet sisters are pretty bad ass, even Jane (lovely Bella Heathcote) is no shrinking violet and gets to save Mr. Bingley’s (Douglas Booth) life here. The numerous battle of wits are intact, with some intense physical battles thrown in to spice things up even more. The epic duel between Lizzie and Darcy is definitely my favorite part of the film, it’s immensely fun to watch these typically demure characters kick and hit each other senseless, and undoubtedly release their repressed sexual frustration in the process.
This review from SFGate remarked that the zombies give Darcy a reason to brood about, and I wholeheartedly agree. I have to admit one of the issues I have with Mr. Darcy is that he’s just so enormously wealthy that he doesn’t need to work, and has little reason to justify his somber mood. But here, the titular character is given an intriguing backstory that naturally made him seem less preoccupied with finding a wife given the matters of life and death he has to face daily. There’s also an even more compelling reason why he absolutely detests these zombies (AND Mr. Wickham). I’ve never been one of those Mr. Darcy groupies, but THIS leather-clad, Samurai-wielding zombie killer extraordinaire is a hero worth swooning for, ehm. Speaking of Mr. Wickham (a charming Jack Huston), I think the major twist in Austen’s text involves his character. I won’t go into detail about his character but lets just say he’s quite um, friendly with the zombies. Heck, he even took Lizzie to a church where the patrons are not entirely alive.
I do have a few quibbles about the poor action sequences though. The blurry sequence during the zombie attacks/fight scene get irritating after a while, and there is some inconsistencies about the nature of the zombies as some can seem less *dead* than others. I also think Charles Dance wasn’t given enough to do and neither was his Game of Thrones’ co-star Lena Headey as eye-patch wearing Lady Catherine du Bourgh (Darcy’s aunt). She’s made out to be a fierce zombie warrior, yet we didn’t see a single scene of her battling zombies! The whole sequence of her going after Lizzie in protest of her union with Darcy is rather silly as she brought along a henchman. You’d think a woman of such stature would never be in need of one.
Despite those flaws, overall I had a lot of fun with this one. The actors are fully committed to their roles and they play it straight throughout, no wink-wink nudge nudge as if they’re doing a SNL skit. The deadpan humor is interwoven in the inherently bizarre plot and I was more than along for the ride. I think you’d enjoy this movie more if you accept the sheer audacity of mashing up these two genres from the get go. The fact that the most preposterous scenes are done with a straight face makes them even funnier. Matt Smith steals every scene he’s in as the ridiculous Mr. Collins, though he’s playing him far more flamboyantly than the previous versions. There’s always been a hint that Collins might have a thing for Darcy and it’s played up even more in this movie.
The set pieces and gorgeous costume design by Julian Day is delightful to look at. The soundtrack by Fernando Velázquez is also suitably elegant but with a touch of ominous brood. For fans of rom-coms, this is one where there is both romance AND comedy in equal measure. I definitely will watch this again, and on the big screen! I’m glad the movie ends on a cliffhanger as I wouldn’t even mind seeing a sequel, but only if we have Lily James and Sam Riley back as Lizzie and Darcy. I like James more here than in Cinderella and she certainly can handle the action as well as the drama. I thoroughly enjoyed Sam Riley‘s portrayal of Darcy, he might not be as refined as Colin Firth but he plays up the strong-silent-type hero perfectly. He’s said in interviews that if Firth is the Sean Connery of Darcys, he’s the Roger Moore. But considering his bad-assery and special skills in weaponry, he’s more akin to Daniel Craig’s Bond mixed with Taken‘s Bryan Mills!
So yeah, I find this unlikely mashup more than a little agreeable. I do think the reason this movie works is a testament of the genius of Austen’s writing. Not only does it stand the test of time, the core of the story is intact no matter what backdrop it’s set against.
Have you seen this movie? I’m curious to hear what YOU think!