Five for the Fifth: APRIL 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Ok let’s start off with some on-set photos from Doctor Strange that have been bombarding my Twitter feeds this weekend…

Honestly I don’t know much about this character at all, but given the cast I’m intrigued. No I’m not one of the Cumberbitches, though I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a good actor. But I do love Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen so their involvement made me more excited about this project. The Jedi-inspired costumes are, well, interesting… they looks so bright and colorful in these pics but I’m sure they’ll darken it in post-production.

So are you excited for Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ and do you think Cumberbatch is a good casting choice?
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2. A couple of intriguing new trailers that caught my eye…

The Lost City of Z

Based on the 2009 nonfiction by David Grann, the story centers on early 20th century explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who disappeared while searching of the lost city in the Amazon in 1925, and Grann’s attempts to find out what happened to Fawcett, by visiting the Amazon himself (per Screenrant).

The pairing of Hunnam and Robert Pattinson as Grann is intriguing, both are good looking Brits who’s not afraid to take riskier roles.

LostCityZ_HunnamLostCityZ_Pattinson

Pattinson especially is keen in hiding his looks, this time under hideous facial hair. Sienna Miller plays his wife and Spider-man du jour Tom Holland also stars. Not too familiar w/ director James Gray‘s work however, as I’ve only seen The Immigrant which was pretty good but a little on the slow side.

Elvis & Nixon

Now this one I’ve blogged about back in February when the first still was released. Apparently the Nixon & Elvis photo was the most-requested photo from the US Archive. Now we’ve got a trailer! I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of movie to see just for this duo alone.

Elvis_Nixon

Ok so neither Kevin Spacey nor Michael Shannon really resemble the real people they’re portraying, esp. Shannon as Elvis, but like Michael Fassbender with Steve Jobs, the most important thing is he captured the essence of the character. It’s also directed by a woman, Liza Johnson, which is always a big plus in my book.

So what are your thoughts about either one of these trailers?

3. Ok I already mentioned this on my March recap post, but right now I’m about halfway done with the Len Deighton spy novel SS-GB that’s similar to Amazon’s Man in the High Castle but set in London. It’s an alternative history novel and the novel’s title refers to the branch of the Nazi SS that controls Britain. It’s a real page-turner and I absolutely can’t wait to watch the BBC’s 5-part miniseries with Sam Riley as the protagonist Douglas Archer, a British homicide detective assigned to Scotland Yard.

SSGB_BBCminiseries

The spy-pedigree is a strong one given that the miniseries is written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who’ve written a bunch of Bond movies. I do hope it’s more Casino Royale than Spectre though. It’s got a largely European cast, but Kate Bosworth has joined the cast as an American journalist who’s also Archer’s love interest. I’ll be sure to blog more about this once the trailer’s been released.

Of course there are a plethora of other projects out there based on a novel.

So which book adaptation currently in development are you looking forward to the most?
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4. It seems there are a lot of music biopics released around the same time. Last night I finally saw the Chet Baker biopic Born to Be Blue. The internet connection at home was terrible so the online screener kept stalling but I stuck it out and my patience was rewarded. It’s an affecting and beautifully-acted biopic, featuring stellar performances from Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo. Interestingly enough, his rival Miles Davis’ is getting a cinematic treatment as well with Don Cheadle as Miles. Both Born to Be Blue and Miles Ahead are unconventional biopics that don’t try to cram the entire span of their lives but focused on a certain timeframe.


There are female music icon biopics as well. We’ve got the documentary AMY last year and the Nina Simone movie NINA which controversial casting has been all over the media recently. Not sure what’s behind the biopic boom but I think music biopics have always been marketable.

So which musical artist do you wish would get their own biopic?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Table9Mutant from Cinema Parrot Disco blog! Well, as The Walking Dead finale just aired this weekend, and a lot of you are likely to be anticipating the latest season of Game of Thrones, it’s most appropriate to have a TV-related question this month.

WalkingDead_Negan

Now, as those two shows are known for killing off its characters, we’d like to know…

Which character would you most like to see killed off in any current TV show?


Well, that’s it for the April edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Breaking Emotions Blogathon: HATE + LOVE

BreakingEmotions_Banner

This is the last set of emotions from Mettel Ray‘s BREAKING EMOTIONS blogathon. Check out my entry on the previous two sets of emotions: Tears & Surprise and Smiles & Thrills.

HATE + LOVE

Here’s what Mettel had in mind about the set of emotions:

Finishing up the emotions are two of the most ultimate emotional states one could imagine, HATE is up first in this case because I wanted the good stuff to be the last thing everybody will read when it comes to the Breaking Emotions Blogathon. It is quite obvious that we all have those scenes that just bring up all the bad feelings and it’s not even awkward, it is just plain bad! Most of my hate is towards romantic comedies but I’m sure there are some serious scenes that have caused some of you some inner turmoil and this is the time and place to let all those emotions run wild.

And the last one, the very last emotion I’m asking you guys to break is LOVE – it doesn’t have to be a scene about love, hell no, it can be a sci-fi scenery, it can be the ending of a drama and yes, it can be a scene from Notebook as well but it’s not mandatory. I’m looking for scenes that you love and adore until the end of time, scenes that just pop up in your mind while walking to the store and are just simply awesome. What are the scenes that you love the most?

Check out Mettel Ray’s post on Breaking Emotions: HATE + LOVE


It should be obvious for posts like these, but just in case, if you haven’t seen any of these, BEWARE OF SPOILERS!

Ok, so here are my picks:

HATE

Schindler’s ListThe Balcony Scene

There are many, many instances where Amon Goeth (played with chilling realism by Ralph Fiennes) does absolutely revolting acts that makes your blood turn cold. But this is one that particularly stands out. The bloated second lieutenant just wakes up and goes to his balcony of his villa in Kraków, he nonchalantly grabs his rifle and starts shooting Jewish people at random, whoever happens to enter his eye-shot.

I so hated Goeth, but more than that, I hated Hitler and the Nazi party for corrupting people to such a degree that they lost their souls. I mean, they’re worse than alien body snatchers (if there were such a thing) as they’re SOUL snatchers, making humans worse than animals.

District 9 –  Test weapon scene

This is one of the most harrowing scene that made me so sad and so angry. I hated that the people at the lab forced Wikus to do this, it’s one of those sci-fi films that REALLY made me abhor the humans in it. I couldn’t bear watching this scene at the theater, and hearing Wikus’ pleading that he doesn’t want to shoot the aliens is so gut-wrenching. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll see the obvious allegory to racism and how the Prawns are treated like second or even third class citizens with nowhere to go. At this point, Wikus’ has been infected with the alien DNA and that’s why he’s the only one who could operate the extra-terrestrial weaponry. So he’s forced to shoot the Prawns who hasn’t done anything wrong. It’s infuriating how quickly the people at the military company turn on their fellow human being as Wikus’ been infected. On top of that, they have no qualms in manipulating him for their own gain. I hated this scene so much and it’s one that lingers with me most after the film’s over.

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Bel Ami – Robert Pattinson’s mis-casting

I’ve already made a post on this a while back on good/bad casting choices of 2012. Well I’m going to mention it again here as I really hated his performance here as R-Patz is so terribly mis-cast. Ok so teeny-boppers may think he’s like THE most beautiful man vampire in the planet in those abhorrent Twilight movies, but seeing him with the likes of the great Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman, and even Christina Ricci who’s closer to his age just highlights how ill-advised his casting was. On top of that, his character is so utterly unlikable, unsympathetic and just a plain douche bag. Now, a charismatic actor could make me like him or at least enjoy his performance but R-Patz just makes me want to punch him and kick myself for renting this [it’s on Netflix so at least I didn’t have to pay extra for it, but still!].

BelAmi_PattinsonScottThomas

The character of George Duroy from Guy de Maupassant’s classic novel is supposed to be seductive and manipulative [which is a juicy role for any actor methinks], but Pattinson’s portrayal is neither, he’s just annoying and lame. I hated what his character did to those women who loved him, but most of all, I just hated his sub-par acting that’s completely devoid of charm.

* I almost put his ex Kristen Stewart’s performance in Twilight and Snow White & The Huntsman on here, but you know what, I think I hated R-Patz’ performance here more. And that speaks volumes!


LOVE

Sleepless in Seattle – Finale

“Are you Annie?”

“Yes.”

“You’re Annie?”

“This is my dad… his name is Sam.”

“Hi Jonah… [sigh] Sam…”

SleeplessInSeattleEnding

I only love a handful of rom-coms and three of them are by Nora Ephron. Out of the three, I think Sleepless in Seattle my favorite, one that I can watch over and over. I can easily list all the things I love about this movie, but I’ll save that for Valentine’s Day. I picked this finale as this is the only time the two main protagonists actually meets and oh, what a meeting it was. It was such a satisfying ending to all that build-up throughout the film and it was as perfect as a romantic scene can be filmed without resorting to banal over-sentimentality. It’s got just the right amount of sweetness and plenty of adorable things, such as Sam’s son Jonah grinning ear-to-ear when he realized it’s the woman he wrote his letter to (and when the elevator closes). It’s as much a love story between a man and a woman as it’s a love story for a family, whose tragic loss seems too impossible to recover from. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan at their loveliest, plus the music is just so enchanting!

Beauty & The Beast – There’s something there

There may be something there that wasn’t there before.

BeautyAndTheBeast_SomethingThere

Since I just talked about Disney movies at the last Five for the Fifth, I wanted to include one that always makes my heart soar. The song is lovely and whimsical, and though it may not be the most memorable one of the entire movie, this scene is just adorable. It always puts a smile on my face every time I think of it [so I guess it would fit under the SMILE Breaking Emotions, too!]. It’s the ultimate unlikely friendship that blossomed into well, something more. You could say that Belle and The Beast are the most developed characters amongst other Disney *princess* movies as you really see the gradual progression of their relationship. The ballroom dance scene is perhaps what people remember most, but I picked this one as there’s an irresistible innocence about it and Belle’s expression as she realizes her feelings for the Beast is wonderful to behold. The scenery, song, etc. all make up for one lovely scene.

Superman: The Movie – Superman rescues Lois scene

I know it’s predictable that I put this on here given how much I loved Superman, but we are talking about a scene that I will love and adore until the end of time, so I can’t possibly exclude this one. Every time the rousing theme plays on as Lois quipped, ‘You’ve got me, who’s got you?’ I can’t help feeling nostalgic and giddy as the first time I saw this when I was a kid. This is why the Christopher Reeves will always be Superman in my heart, inimitable and unrivaled to this day.

SupermanSavesLois

There are SO many awesome things about this scene… the set-up, how Supes was introduced, the crowd’s reaction as he saw him fly [as well as the ‘that’s a bad outfit!’ quip the first time he’s seen in the red & blue suit] and of course, that iconic John Williams‘ theme song! It’s just brilliantly done by Richard Donner that is still the scene to beat even three decades later. This is what Man of Steel is lacking… at least one truly memorable scene featuring the Kryptonian hero that even if you remember nothing else about the film, you will always remember the one iconic scene. In the case of this one, it’s one I will always cherish for ever and ever, and one that never fails to fill my heart with joy.


What do you think of my picks? Which scenes would YOU pick for LOVE + HATE?

Weekend Roundup: SENNA & Breaking Dawn

Hello everyone, hope you had a nice weekend. It’s Daylight Savings Time again so most of us in the US lost an hour of sleep Saturday night. Not complaining though as that means the sun will still be up when I leave work on Monday.

Did you venture out to the cinema this weekend to see John Carter or Lorax? Well apparently a bunch of people did as the Dr. Seuss animated feature still sits on top for the second weekend with $39 mil, trumping over the sci-fi fantasy John Carter which made just a little over $30 mil. WOW, that is a major bust for Disney since the budget was a ludicrous $250 million [shakes head]. I have little interest in seeing it, looks like it’s worth a rental at best.

Well, I only managed to see two films this weekend, and yes, the stark contrast between the two didn’t escape me 😀 Anyway, here are my reviews:

SENNA

Growing up with an older brother who’s a big cars fan, I knew who Ayrton Senna is and his tragic death in 1994. But apart from that, I don’t know much about the sport and and how he’s regarded as not only the greatest Formula One champion in the world but his sainthood status in his native country of Brazil.

Seems like Billy Joel’s song Only The Good Die Young is true after all and Senna definitely was one of them, dying at at the age of only 34. The documentary by Asif Kapaida spans the decade from his arrival to F1 racing in 1984 up until his untimely death at the San Marino Grand Prix. One doesn’t have to be a fan of Formula One to appreciate Senna’s extraordinary story and the film does a great job in presenting his life on and off the track.

Forgoing talking heads and interviews typically seen in documentaries, the filmmaker instead relies on actual footage of the races and various events of the characters, including Senna himself to tell the story, so to speak. The somewhat chronological order of the events taking place creates an in-the-moment experience for the viewers which makes is all the more thrilling. A lot of the time, we actually get to see from the point of view of the driver during the race, which actually makes you feel nervous as he make the dangerous corners time and time again.

The film shows a glimpse of what Senna is like as a person. His strive for perfection on the track can be considered ruthless on occasion, but it’s clear that he’s got enormous talent to go with such tenacity. He’s also a deeply spiritual man who loved the Lord and was often seen praying in his car just before a race. He’s also a patriotic man, deeply concerned for the well-being of his country, especially the children.

Senna was one of those rare champions who was all about the sports itself. Early in the film, there’s footage of Senna entering a karting competition as a young boy. Later in the film when someone asked him who his most favorite driver to compete against, Senna replied that it was his rival at one of the Kart championship… saying that there was no money or politics involved, just ‘pure racing’ he said, which he contrasted with the F1 racing that’s rife with politics. The film also follows Senna’s rivalry with French World Champion Alain Prost. They were former teammates-turned-nemesis and a couple of times they were involved in car collisions, one of them actually resulted in Senna being disqualified from winning the race.

Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna

Though his death happened 17 years ago, it didn’t make the moment leading up to his fatal accident any less nail-biting. There’s the driver POV footage down to the last moments just before his Williams FW16 hit the concrete wall at 135 mph. I practically broke down when I saw that scene even though I had watched the footage several times before, it was definitely a very dark moment in the world of racing and for the people of Brazil. It’s so ironic that just only a day earlier, following the death of an Austrian rookie, his medical chielf Sid Watkins had suggested that Senna stop racing and go fishing instead. That same morning he also intended to work on improving the safety of F1 racing with the Grand Prix Drivers Association. His death prompted a series of safety improvements, and there has not been any more fatalities at the wheel of an F1 car since.

This film truly delivers not just the thrill of the world of Formula One, but also an emotionally-charged piece on the monumental life of a real life hero. Senna wasn’t just a champion on the track but a humanitarian champion for his generous giving to his people of Brazil.

Final Thoughts: There has been considerable hype surrounding this film and I must say it exceeds my expectation. This one is definitely snubbed by the Oscars for not even being nominated! A perfect combination of edge-of-your-seat thrills and heartbreaking moments that will tug at your heart long after the film’s over.

4.5 out of 5 reels


BREAKING DAWN

Oh ok, where do I begin? Well let me just tell you that I was loaned the Blu-ray by a colleague who’s a self-confessed Twi-hard. I had told her I had only seen the first film but I’m curious to see this one because a big event takes place here, namely the wedding between a human and a vampire and of course the honeymoon where they um, consumate the relationship.

Just like the money-moker franchise Harry Potter before it, the finale of the Twilight series is also split into two parts for ka-ching purposes. There are indeed quite a lot going on in this first part, the main protagonist Bella Swan gets married, have sex for the first time, gets pregnant within 14 days of the sexual encounter, dies and then gets rebirth. Normally I’d apologize for ruining the plot for you but I reckon you’d have predicted the outcome after just minutes after the movie starts so you won’t have to wait with bated breath to see what’s to unfold next.

For what it's worth I think he makes for a pretty decent Hulk, no?

Predictably, the film opens with the resident brooding werewolf, er shape-shifter Jacob reacting to Bella and Edward’s wedding. What kind of reaction you ask? Well he’s so upset he simply has to take his shirt off and runs off to the woods, of course (apparently his pants are made of the kind of shape-shift-enabled material that he doesn’t need to bother taking those off). Then we see the suddenly worried Edward asking Bella one last time if she’s ok with marrying a hundred-something-year-old vampire who has done his share of blood sucking in his past lives. She is only 18 after all. But Bella reasoned that ‘those you killed are all murderers who’ll do more damage to society’ so she assures him she wants to marry him. This whole thing plays out like a mopey soap opera with utterly-cringe-inducing dialog and even more awkward gestures from both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. For a couple who’re allegedly an item in real life, their chemistry just doesn’t appear that convincing to me. If it weren’t for the goth and 300-inspired of bloody corpses piled up at the altar featured in Bella’s wedding nightmare, the whole thing would be quite unbearable.

The wedding itself doesn’t strike me as romantic, well apart from the magical-looking forrest it takes place in. But what’s REALLY worth talking about is the honeymoon location. Say what you will about this pale, sparkling vampire, but my, does the Cullens have great taste and money to burn. My jaw drops looking at Isle Esme, the name of a tropical island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Heck I’d marry a vampire just to spend a weekend on that gorgeous, secluded spot… um, then again, maybe not, ahah.

Anyway, the whole honeymoon itself seems to go on forever. Ok so maybe for the faithfuls, this is the one moment they’ve been waiting forever and so no doubt the filmmakers are making them happy with countless scenes of Edward & Bella getting it on and playing… chess?? Am I missing something here? Maybe chess is an aphrodisiac for vampires? In any case, for a couple who’ve waited a long time to consumate their relationship, there’s hardly any passion in their romantic scenes. Bella always comes across so jittery and uncomfortable around Edward and for someone supposedly in a state of wedded bloss, she never looks all that happy to me [shrugs] Well, the honeymoon certainly doesn’t last long, as within a couple of weeks, Bella finds out she’s with child.

The rest of the movie pretty much deals with how Bella is coping with the extremely dangerous pregnancy that could kill her, and also what the birth of the hybrid baby means to everyone involved. Not having read the book, the whole thing is quite confusing as it’s not clear which side Jacob is on, I suppose that’s what one should expect from a shape-shifter, ahah. Taylor Lautner seems just slightly more bearable here than in the first Twilight movie, but that really ain’t saying much. His idea of being ‘expressive’ is furrowed brows and staring down intently at whoever it is he happens to be facing.

Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey) takes an already bleak subject matter and presents it in an arduous, melancholy fashion and full of unintentionally funny moments. It really is hard to take this movie seriously when you’ve got a big fight of werewolves vs. vampires with barely any blood at all, heck we barely even see Edward & co. showing their vampire teeth!

But wait, suddenly the last twenty minutes morphs into a monster/horror movie. I must say that the whole childbirth process is quite disturbing to say the least. CGI-effects made Kristen Stewart into even more skin-and-bones than she already is and the camera shows constant shots of her bloody figure. I think ghastly is a more appropriate term to describe the third act, tethering between repulsive and horrifying. The ending shot is practically identical to the ending of Avatar, in which the protagonist Jake Scully also undergoes a rebirth of some sort. But what Bella went through is undoubtedly far more agonizing and down right traumatizing.

I have to admit that now I’m mildly curious to see how the franchise unfolds in Part II. But since it’ll have the same director and screenwriter Mellissa Rosenberg, who’s responsible for writing ALL of the Twilight movies, I should proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts: Seems like a lot that come before it, this movie is highly geared for the Twi-hard only crowd. My hubby and I enjoyed it mostly for giggles and the gorgeous scenery of the majestic Isle Isme, but I probably would’ve skipped it altogether if my friend hadn’t loaned it to me.

1.5 out of 5 reels


So what movie(s) did you catch this weekend? Thoughts on either one of these, please share in the comments.

Weekend Roundup: Golden Globes 2012, Henry’s Crime, Water for Elephants

Hope y’all had a fine weekend. I skipped the Golden Globes telecast this Sunday, I only tuned in every once in a while when the winner I was rooting for did get the trophy. So I updated this Golden Globes nominees list with the winners.

Incidentally I only got two of my predictions right:

  • Best Supporting Actor in Comedy/Musical: Jean Dujardin for The Artist Love that last part of his acceptance speech when he gave a silent nod to Douglas Fairbanks. Classy!
  • Best Supporting Actress in Comedy/Musical: Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn

But Michel Hazanavicius is definitely snubbed that he didn’t win Best Director! I like Hugo but really, but let’s face it, The Artist is a far better film out of the two. I was also rooting for Viola Davis to win for The Help, but as I said, it’s really a tough call when you’re in the same category as Meryl Streep!!  Her win for The Iron Lady marks for her EIGHTH Golden Globe wins, WOW! A few of my friends have posted their predictions as well, Anomalous Material, The Focused Filmographer, or Impassioned Cinema … you can check out their posts and see how they fared.

Ok so that’s my two cents about the Golden Globes… now we can begin to speculate on the Oscar picks 🙂 The Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time.


Anyway, here are my mini reviews from this weekend:

Henry’s Crime

Since I’ve done the time, I might as well do the time. That’s pretty much the plot of this film. Henry (Keanu Reeves, in his usual stoic performance) is a lethargic toll booth attendant who somehow got sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Interestingly enough, during and after his prison time is when his new life begins, prompted by meeting his cellmate Max (the inimitable James Caan) and being ran over (literally!) by Julie (Vera Farmiga).

I only rented this ’cause I like the cast and the trailer looked pretty funny. Plus, it got pretty good review from TIFF. Well you know what, it’s actually pretty enjoyable. The tie in between the bank heist and Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard play is quite amusing, not to mention the presence of awesome character actor Peter Stormare as the stage director. The scene where he’s teaching Henry (or Keanu?) how to act is hilarious. Caan’s effortlessly adds comic relief and he’s got quite a nice rapport with Keanu. Judy Greer is kind of wasted here as Keanu’s straying wife though, which is a pity as I know she’s capable of more.

As for the romance, Reeves and Farmiga actually works well together. Even playing a supposedly cold character, Farmiga still radiates warmth, she’s always a joy to watch and playing a stage actress, I could almost picture her on stage performing in such a play! Now Keanu is as stoic as ever, there’s little insight into what’s really going on inside Henry’s head as Keanu didn’t really display any kind of emotion (save for the finale when he’s dressed as Lopakhin, one of the play’s protagonists). But it’s sort of what one would expect from this seemingly ageless actor (could you believe he’s 47 years old?!), and somehow his brand of acting works out just fine here.

Definitely not a bad movie to rent on a Friday night, especially if you’re a fan of one of the cast.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

Water for Elephants

I posted the trailer ages ago but haven’t got around to watching it. The thing that appealed to me most is the setting, there’s something beguiling about the world of the Circus. Told from the point of view of a 90-something year-old Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook), similar to how Rose in the movie Titanic reminisces on his life aboard the doomed ship, Jacob is nostalgic about the time he spent as a circus veterinarian during the Great Depression.

Following a tragic accident that killed his parents, the young Jacob (Robert Pattinson) ended up working for the brilliant but brutal head animal trainer August and his wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), the star performer. It won’t be long before Jacob falls for Marlena as they bond over their love for the adorable elephant Rosie.

Pattinson is pretty compelling here as a romantic leading man, though there are times his melancholic look reminds me a bit of Twilight‘s Edward at times. Fortunately there’s the fabulous Christoph Watlz to remind me here that it isn’t a dreadful teen vampire flick (thank goodness!) and he naturally steals the show with his performance, teetering between charming and terrorizing, both with the animals and the people around him. In a way not too different from his role as Col. Landa in Inglourious Basterds.

Reese looks the part as a circus star, which is no mean feat, but overall her performance is serviceable. She’s not bad, but not great either. Even her chemistry with Pattinson isn’t all too convincing. I could see how Jacob and Marlena would fall for each other given the circumstances, but the actors didn’t really sell the romance as well as they could. In fact, Holbrook did a better job conveying his love for Marlena in his brief scenes of telling the story about her in the present day.

Water for Elephants is a rather conventional drama, it could’ve been a great film but the way it is now, it’s enjoyable but in the end pretty forgettable. It looks beautiful but somehow the circus world created here lacks the magic and that certain charm that made me go ‘wow!’ the way Moulin Rouge! did the first time I saw it. It’s a pity as the novel by Sara Gruen is so celebrated. Given the intriguing subject matter, this movie could’ve been a classic.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


I also saw another one of Gregory Peck’s films called Mirage (1965) which is an excellent noir thriller. But instead of doing a mini review here, I’d save that for one of my classic flix reviews.


So what did you watch this weekend folks? Feel free to share your favorite part of the Globes if you’d be so inclined.

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC: Life as We Know It, Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Thin Red Line

It’s been almost a year since I had an Everyone’s a Critic post! I shall try to have this a bit more regular, perhaps more of a quarterly feature on this blog. Special thanks to Mike Beery (check out Mike’s contributor page), my Twi-mom friend Marianne Lemire, and FC’s frequent guest blogger Ted S. for their awesome reviews!


Life as We Know It (2010)

By Mike Beery

If you’ve seen the trailer on this one you know pretty much all there is to know about the story. Holly Berenson (Heigl) is a bakery owner and Eric Messer (Duhamel) is a playboy who works as a TV director for the local NBA team. Back in 2007 the couple is setup on a blind date by their best friends that goes bad fast and is never to be forgotten. These same best friends that later marry and have a super cute little baby girl. When tragedy strikes, Holly and Eric are left as guardians to the orphaned child. The will states they must live under the same roof in order to care for her. That’s when this flick kicks into overdrive.

The next hour is spent stringing together gag after gag showing how hard babies and toddlers can be to raise. How they can get in the way of your love life – if you have one to begin with! Eric is still a crazed bachelor that seems to only be doing this because he has to. Holly, a very desirable woman can’t seem to get his attention. As the movie wears on Eric is slowly transformed into this awesome Dad, that finally seems to be noticing Holly’s charms. Yes it seems that a wild ladies-man can be conquered by the lure of a good woman and “family life”.

The tension of forced parenthood and the chaos of trying to live with someone you’re not involved with climaxes just when Eric gets a job offer that takes him to the other side of the country. This is a welcomed break from all the toddler antics and it’s where the films develops some drama.

The film turns “feel good” after that conflict is resolved then quickly moves into happy ending mode. The remainder of the movie is a chick-flick fantasy come true with Eric becoming a dashing prince that has changed his player ways.

If you love babies, sexual tension, a relationship that seemed doomed but ends happily then this one if for you. As a chick-flick, this will do well as a rental. It’s got all the essential elements wrapped up into one neat package.


Twilight Saga: ECLIPSE (2010)

by Marianne Lemire

[Review may contain spoilers]

A while back my sister asked me if I wanted to read the Twilight series. I said ‘no thank you’ – I’m not interested in some teenage hype books. However, when the first Twilight movie series trailer came out – well, let’s just say my whole perception of the series changed. I watched the movie when it came out on DVD and that’s all it took for me to become a fan. I’ve since purchased the books series and read them twice. I now own all 3 movies and watch them multiple times. And I can’t wait for the two upcoming Breaking Dawn movies to come out.

Let me tell you why I love the story so much. What I see between Bella and Edward is rare and you don’t see in movies any more. A love and respect for one another. Bella Swan is a girl who is clumsy and insecure. Edward Cullen is a guy so handsome that you are not able to tear your eyes away from him. Bella and Edward are drawn to one another by an unnatural union of love. Their emotions for each other are so vivid, so intense, that you feel you are a part of their lives and you are drawn to their characters. What makes this unusual is that Edward is a vampire. There is also Jacob, someone that Bella became friends with when she first moved to Forks. Their friendship strengthened when Edward had left Bella for awhile thinking he was keeping Bella safe from the vampire Victoria. Victoria became the enemy when Edward killed her lover, James, while trying to protect Bella. During the time of Edward’s absence, Bella and Jacob’s friendship grew, but Bella couldn’t deny her love for Edward. Bella is still real adamant about Edward turning her – he would only agree to do it if she became his wife. He presented Bella with his grandmother’s engagement ring and proposed to her. Bella seemed hesitant. First, there’s the whole idea of getting married at her age and she was also concerned about the rumors going around. But it also mean that she would be with Edward forever as a vampire. So she said yes, but she wouldn’t wear the ring just yet.

Jacob was going through a rough time and was been keeping his distance, part for because of his love for Bella, but also because the turn of events in his life. Jacob is a werewolf along with the other members of his tribe. Now with the latest killings in Seattle, he has resurfaced to make sure that Bella is safe. The group behind the killings are newborns (newly turned vampires) and the person behind this new army is Victoria, her mission is to avenge James’ death. But they also had to worry about the Volturi’s involvement – the group who police the activities of all vampires – where the newborns were not hiding any of their actions. The Cullen family have come to terms with Jacob and his wolf pack to form a truce to end the killings and destroy the newborns and Victoria.

The battle between the groups was action packed, intense and engaging. While the fight was going on – there was only Edward and Seth (who is part of the wolf pack) to protect Bella in a secluded area, but Victoria along with Riley (the leader of the newborns) was successful in their quest to find them. Between Edward and Seth – they were able to fight off and kill them both – Bella is now safe. The Volturi showed up after the battle to make sure everything was taken care of – and Bella announced that a date has been set when she will be turned. Edward and Bella can now continue with their lives knowing the relationship between the Cullens and Jacob and the pack seems to be working itself out and they have a better understanding of each other and have mutual respect.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  I guess I am a hopeless romantic.


The Thin Red Line (1998)

By Ted Saydalavong

After 20 years absence, Terrence Malick came back to Hollywood and made, in my opinion, one of the best war films ever. It’s on my top five favorite films of all time. It tells the fictional story of United States forces during the Battle of Guadalcanal in WW II. The film focused mostly on the five soldiers in The C Company, these soldiers were played by Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Ben Chaplin and Elias Koteas. The men of C Company have been brought to Guadalcanal as reinforcements in the campaign to seize the island from the Japanese. The film was based on a novel by James Jones. The original cut of the film ran over 5 hours long and after trimming it down to two and half hours, the footage of the performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Sheen, Gary Oldman, Bill Pullman, Jason Patric, Viggo Mortensen and Mickey Rourke have been removed.

As with most of Malick’s films, we get to hear what each character is thinking and we see some flashbacks of their lives back in the States. Out of all the characters in the movie, I thought Nic Nolte’s character was the most important one. He played an aging Lt. Colonel Tall, who’s been passed over for promotions too many times and wants to win this battle so he can impress his superiors and maybe getting that promotion finally. Nolte’s performance was so intense that you’d think his character is a lunatic, but to me it’s his last despiration attempt to prove to his superiors and to himself that he can still command and win a battle at his age.

Jim Caviezel (left) in The Thin Red Line

There’s a great scene in the movie where he orders his captain played by Elias Koteas to attack the hills but the captain refused because his men are dying and outnumbered, the expression’s on Nolte’s face was just pitch perfect. You can tell that he can’t believe one of his men is disobeying him and that he cannot do anything about it. I thought it was Nolte’s greatest performance and he should’ve gotten an Oscar for it. There’s also another great scene by Nolte after they took over the Japanese base camp, he was sitting by himself and he looked around at the corpses and started crying. Is he crying because he won the battle or was it from regret that he pushed his men too hard and a lot of them lost their lives? I’m leaning towards the latter.

Another great thing about this movie was that Malick decided to show the horror of war through emotional and psychological side instead of gore. The film has lots of violence but it wasn’t as graphic as most war films. Also, the score my Hans Zimmer is so haunting and beautiful at the same. Last but certainly not least, is the great cinematography by John Toll. The film looked spectacular. Malick wanted to shoot the whole film on 65mm but found out that there aren’t many theaters that can project 70mm prints. So he and Toll decided to just shoot it in 35mm.

If you’re a fan of Malick and haven’t seen this film yet, please check it out. And if you a Blu-ray player, I highly recommend you get the Criterion Collection (watch for a CC related post tomorrow). The picture and sound is just amazing.


Have you seen any of these movies? Love ’em or hate ’em, chime in below.

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: Water for Elephants

Happy almost-Friday folks! Wow, I just realize I haven’t posted ANY trailer since the Jane Eyre one last November. Heh, I guess I should be more consistent, but why be predictable? 😉

This movie has been on my radar since casting began, something about the story intrigues me. The movie is adapted from a novel of the same name by Canadian author Sara Gruen. Here’s the gist of the story:

Set in the the Great Depression, the story focuses on 90-something Jacob Jankowski as he reminisces on his youth working at the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show. Upon his parents death, Jacob leaves his veterinary training and ends up becoming a vet at the circus. It’s there that he falls for Marlena, the beautiful circus performer married to the charismatic but vicious animal trainer, August. Jacob and Marlena’s shared compassion for a certain ‘un-trainable’ elephant makes for an unlikely trio and their bond becomes their only hope for survival.

Well I’m certainly glad to see Christoph Waltz in place of Sean Penn who was previously cast. Looks like August is a juicy role worthy of him instead of being a run-of-the-mill comic book villain you see him in The Green Hornet. But it seems to be a Hollywood tradition that a relative newbie is cast in a superhero movie following their award-winning turn. Go figure.

Pattinson & Witherspoon on set

Reese Witherspoon as Marlena shows that she’s a versatile actress, jumping from her typical rom-com genre (as in the generic looking How Do You Know). Robert Pattinson must be delighted to be away from the Twilight set and actually get the opportunity to actually act instead of brooding and sparkling day and night. He looks pretty good here, he obviously has screen presence and he seems to have that melancholy, love-struck look down pat which I reckon works swimmingly for this role as young Jacob. Seasoned actor Hal Holbrook plays the older Jacob. I’m not as familiar with the director, Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) as I am with the screenwriter Richard LaGravenese, who penned the script for The Bridges of Madison County, The Horse Whisperer, Beloved, Freedom Writer and P.S. I Love You, among others)

A couple of interesting trivia courtesy of IMDb:
In a deleted scene of Vanity Fair (2004), Reese Witherspoon plays Robert Pattinson’s mother., but in this movie, they play lovers. Scarlett Johansson apparently turned down the role of Marlena, that’s a good thing in my book as I like Reese better as an actor. I am however curious to see how Andrew Garfield would fare as Jacob. He auditioned for the Jacob role but I guess he’s not considered bankable enough, yet. Just wait until Spiderman comes out and he’ll be in high demand.

Well folks, any interest in seeing this one?

Welcome to September! What’s your favorite 2010 movie so far?

OMG, it’s September already!! Where did the Summer go?? It sure went quick isn’t it… once we enter the ‘_ ber’ month, brrrrrr temperature isn’t too far behind for us here in the Upper Midwest 😦

But let’s not think about that shall we? We’re here to talk about movies after all, and to start off the new month, why not talk about the movies we’ve seen so far this year and those we’re still anticipating. I wish I had seen more new movies this year, but so far, here are my favorites:

Remember Me | Iron Man 2 | Robin Hood | Toy Story 3 | Inception

Clash of the Titans and The Ghost Writer didn’t meet my expectation. The first one turned out to be utterly bad (read FC’s full review) and I found the Roman Polanski movie quite dull despite its promising premise. The Other Guys was pretty funny, but I probably won’t remember much of it later. I also got an advanced screening to see the action comedy RED which boast an excellent cast of, it was pretty entertaining, but a lot of what I remember was how gorgeous Karl Urban was 😉

And here are at least five I’m looking forward to in the next four months:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I – released Nov. 19
    As I just started watching the series a few months ago, no doubt I’m curious to see the final two installments.


  2. Never Let Me Go (view poster & trailer) – released date Sept. 15 (limited)
    First the poster piqued my interest, then I saw the trailer, which intrigued me even more. Then I read more about Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel and WOW, I’ve got to see this one!
  3. Tron: Legacy (view details) – released Dec. 17
    I’ll see it for the awesome visuals and SFX, but I hope the story doesn’t disappoint.
  4. The Tourist (view details) – released Dec. 10
    I’m more excited about seeing Timothy Dalton and Rufus Sewell in the big screen than the two leads. I seriously hope this is just the beginning of Dalton’s return to the big screen!
  5. The Debt (view trailer) – released Dec. 29
    I’m fond of Helen Mirren and the rest of the cast – Sam Worthington, Ciaran Hinds, and Tom Wilkinson – aren’t too bad, either. The premise about an ex-Mossad agent in charge of tracking down the Nazi war criminal seems like a good recipe for a taut thriller.

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Ok, now your turn to share. What’s your best or favorite movie(s) you’ve seen this year? And what movie (s) are you looking forward to the rest of the year?