FlixChatter Review: Self/less (2015)

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You know when you watch a trailer and you sigh because not only does the trailer practically gives away the entire movie, you also wish that the supporting actor played the lead role. Well, Self/less is such a movie and the actor I wish had played the lead is Matthew Goode. More on that later.

A couple of people pointed out to me on Twitter that the premise of this movie is practically identical to the John Frankenheimer-directed Seconds. I haven’t seen it once I checked it on IMDb, it’s indeed the same story! I don’t know if the screenwriting brothers David and Alex Pastor acknowledged that, but I have a feeling the 1966 film is far more compelling than this one.

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So the gist of the story is that Damian (Ben Kingsley), a wealthy magnate who’s dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. He’s just ‘an empty vessel,’ Doctor Albright (Goode) assured Damian as he gave him a tour around his highly-secret lab. The reason why Damian would want to go through such an extreme procedure isn’t explored well here but then again if you’re expecting a deep and thought-provoking film, well you won’t find it here.

The machine for such a radical procedure looks nothing more than modified medical CT scanners. It’s rather preposterous premise but it’s a fantasy sci-fi so you’re just expected to just suspend your disbelief and go along with it. It reminds me a bit of the procedure of John Woo’s Face/Off, alas the movie itself isn’t half as entertaining. When Damian wakes up, poof there goes Sir Kingsley from the movie, never to be seen again. In his place we’ve got the tall and buff Ryan Reynolds. It’s interesting that though the older Damian is British, his new self now speaks with an American accent. Now, you’d think that language is stored in the brain/consciousness, so wouldn’t you think that’d be transferred to his new body??

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In any case, no time to be concerned with that because the movie moves along at breakneck pace to get to the part where Damian 2.0 is enjoying life to the fullest. Placed in this huge house in New Orleans set up by the secret organization, Damian fills his new days partying and shagging every hot girl he fancies, powered by the red pills that block the hallucinations that plague him. These scenes are set in a series of montages set to some fast-paced music that are neither entertaining nor particularly memorable.

Of course Damian can’t live the good live forever, and a procedure this radical surely has extreme consequences. Damian soon finds out just how bad things get and *immortality* comes with a high cost… for him and the new body he now occupies. The more he discovers about the truth, the more he’s ravaged by guilt and our hero goes on a quest to set things right, as it were. There’s really no suspense as you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next. When Damian missed just one dose of that red pill, the hallucination became so vivid he simply couldn’t just dismiss it. By the time he ends up in St. Louis, the movie quickly descends into an action thriller.

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I kept waiting for some really fascinating stuff happening but that moment never came. Now, I said that I had wanted Matthew Goode in Reynolds’ role and I bet he could easily pull it off. But come to think of it, I can’t imagine the opposite. I just don’t see Reynolds possessing the elegant countenance nor the sheer intellect of Goode’s character. But what Reynolds is capable of is kicking ass, I mean he’s played several superheroes in his career after all. The filmmaker constantly zooms in on his massive biceps and athletic physique, as if we need to be more sold on that front. Yet what I’d like to see in this protagonist [well any protagonist for that matter] is charisma and wits, none of which is on display here. Therein lies the main issue I have with this movie.

Now, the script is hardly original nor imaginative, but the movie could still be more watchable if we have a charismatic lead. Alas, on top of having to witness two talented British actors being completely wasted, I was stuck watching an insipid *hero* for two hours. I’d also mention Natalie Martinez and Victor Garber but they’re not really given much to do here, either. To add insult to injury, this movie is devoid of style director that usually comes from director Tarsem Singh. I LOVE The Fall, which had style AND heart, and even the rather vapid Immortals has the self-described ‘Caravaggio meets Fight Club’ style to make up for it. But this movie is just bland in substance AND style.

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I’d say unless you’re a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds, I’d say skip this one. Instead of focusing on the cerebral aspect of the concept, Self/less is nothing more than just a standard shoot-em-up – predictable, laden with clichés and anchored by a totally dull lead. I read a review somewhere that said the slash in the film’s title is perhaps the most inventive part of the movie and that about sums it up.

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

Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: Supporting cast you wish got the leading role

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I can hardly believe half of the year’s already come and gone! It’s been a rather odd month for me, but in terms of movie watching, it’s rather uneventful. I sure hope the later part of 2015 have better films in store for us… and looking at Katy’s list of highly-anticipated movies for the rest of 2015, I think the chance of that is VERY promising! I’d add Southpaw to the list, which I’ll be seeing on the third week of July, and The Man from UNCLE which looks like fun!

Ok so about those links…

Since I’m currently embarking on my first screenplay project, this post on opening sentences in fiction from my pal Cindy, who happens to be a novelist herself, is definitely an inspiring read

I won’t have a Music Break post this week, so take a listen to Josh‘s pick of Movie Song of the Week

Khalid reviewed Terry Gilliam’s comedy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Andrew is back with his Oscar series 4 Ways a Best Picture, and the year is 2009

Jay just reviewed a film I still haven’t got around to but will have to soon, Calvary

Though Summer’s just starting here in the States, Michael‘s veering into cold, dark horror territory with his book-film duo post on The Shining

And last but not least, Eddie‘s talking about Orphan Black season 3, a series I’ve been curious about for some time.


Time for question of the week!

So this week’s question is inspired by my recent viewing of Self/less. My review of it is done in my draft folder, but there’s one thing that’s stuck with me whilst I was watching it. In fact, I kept thinking about it as I was writing my review. Why isn’t a perfectly talented actor like Matthew Goode leading this movie? Now I’m not saying the movie would’ve automatically been stellar as no matter how good an actor can’t overcome a bad script, but at least Goode would’ve been more enjoyable to watch for two hours than Ryan Reynolds!

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I had the same feeling when I watched Tristan + Isolde a few years ago. I kept wondering why they cast James Franco being all sullen and morose as Tristan whilst the much hunkier Henry Cavill was stuck playing third banana. Now I’m not saying Franco is a terrible actor, I just think Cavill would’ve suited the role better. Heck, even Rufus Sewell who’s another supporting actor in the film left a more lasting impression to me than Franco did. I even dedicated a post here.

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The New World is another one that came to mind as I think Christian Bale would’ve been great in the lead role instead of Colin Farrell. The last 20 minutes of the film with Bale is the highlight of the film for me and I actually bought the DVD because of it.

Interesting that both Cavill and Bale have ended up becoming Superman and Batman, respectively, I didn’t purposely select them because of it, but clearly both have leading-man qualities.

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I’m sure there are others but let’s just start there. I bet you’ve also felt the same when you watch certain films.


So tell me, which films have you seen where you wish one of the supporting cast got the lead role?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: R.I.P.D and interview w/ extra Tim Jacobs

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Summer is a great time for action comedies! When I first saw this trailer earlier this year, I thought this is a crazy mash-up of Men In Black (but with dead people) meets Ghostbusters… with The Dude and Green Lantern, no less.

After Detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is killed by accident, he is recruited into the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) and partnered with veteran officer Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges). The R.I.P.D. is an organization of dead police officers tasked with protecting the living from arrogant, malevolent, bloodthirsty evil spirits who refuse to move into the afterlife

Apparently the story is based on a comic book by Peter M. Lenkov. The movie’s directed by Robert Schwentke who apparently passed on directing the sequel of another action comedy RED, and also stars Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker. Interestingly, both Reynolds and Parker have two movies coming up in the same weekend, Reynolds lends his voice in the animated feature Turbo and Parker is also in RED 2 (review coming soon).

Check out the latest trailer…

… and featurette w/ the cast:

Today we’ve got a special guest on this post…

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Tim Jacobs, a stage actor who worked as extra on the film – check out his profile on IMDb. Thanks to my friend Ashley (aka Tim’s girlfriend) for introducing us. Tim played one of the evil souls (deados) share some of his experience on the set. Check out our interview below:

1. Tell us what your role is in R.I.P.D and how you ended up getting involved with this project

R.I.P.D. is about of evil souls (deados) that escaped judgement and are hiding out on earth. The R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department) is in charge of finding and arresting these offending souls. In the movie, I was one of the Deados that worked closely with Hayes (Kevin Bacon) to bring about the end of the world as we know it.

 The casting process for this movie was unlike any audition I’d done before. Boston Casting, an incredible casting agency in (you guessed it) Boston contacted me about the audition. They were looking for a very specific type of person. They had to be over 6 feet tall and physically fit. The auditions themselves were incredible! You know you’re going to have fun when they don’t give you specifics, but tell you to wear “clothes you can move in.” The actual audition consisted of push-ups, pull-ups, jumping rope, box jumps, and various other physical activities including showing off some stage combat skills. Things went well and they picked a small group of us that day.

2. Did you get to work with any of the main cast?

The part of the story that I’m a part of is kind of the climax of the movie. It takes place on the roof of a building that was meticulously replicated in a giant warehouse. The set was entirely surrounded by green screen. It felt like we were in a giant green circus tent. The actual set was the exact size of the building it was modeled after, and with all the people on it, you could find yourself next to any number of cast members.

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Reynolds, Bacon and Bridges on set

We worked mostly with the main cast (although the stand ins were used from time to time) but we were instructed to maintain professionalism and not get all googly eyed when they walked by. They were all very nice. Jeff Bridges seemed to be one of the nicest guys around, Ryan Reynolds was very focused on the work, and Kevin Bacon was hilarious! We were with them for a good portion of our shoot and we did chat in between takes or sitting outside.

3. What’s a day on the set like? I learned that you have to wear a certain costume to play one of the dead monsters (Deado)?

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Tim in full costume

I maintain relationships with several of them on Facebook even now. Once the call comes though, we would have to quickly move into position as they set up the shot. When you are actually on set, everything moves very quickly and you always have to be aware of the people, cameras, and your Assistant Director.

Everyone was wicked nice though. The director (Robert Schwentke) was very good at letting the actors know what he wanted and how to better achieve it. The entire crew would help you out and answer any questions you had about anything. It was a wonderful work environment because everyone seemed to be on the same page.

The costume I wore was not much more than somewhat formal street clothes. But on certain CGI shots, we got to wear the “grey suits” (see below). These icons of the fashion world were made of a nice stretchy material and had the one size fits most feel to them. Luckily we didn’t have to wear these very often.

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4. I understand you’ve done a lot of stage work in various Shakespearean plays? Tell us what project you’re working on right now.

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Tim in a stage adaptation of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

The Director (Dan Beaulieu) has taken this show and spun it around much like a DJ remixes a song. In fact, we refer to the show as #Ahranjay (R+J) the remix. The show is a lot more intense and interesting than most of the productions of Romeo and Juliet that I have seen. It features Dubstep and live music as the heartbeat and driving force of the action. Among other things, we will be live tweeting during the shows, and finding all sorts of fun ways to interact with the audience. You can find more information on the show at prescottpark.org or find Seven Stages Shakespeare Company on Facebook. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth the $5 donation. Also, it is outdoors so there’s that.

5. What’s next for you? More stage work or are you looking to venture out into TV or films?

There is nothing like live theatre. There are no second takes when you are onstage in front of hundreds of people. What you do is what you get. The adrenaline (butterflies) I get during a live show can’t be compared with being on a movie set. But movies have their own fun. You don’t get the instant feedback like in theater, but instead there is a long wait to see your art. It is truly a lot of fun, even as an extra, to be part of a movie. I will keep auditioning for all sorts of performing arts, and whoever wants to work with me ultimately decides the steerage of my course.


Thanks again Tim for the interview! Check out Tim on Facebook.


Hope you enjoy the interview. Thoughts on this post, well let’s hear it!

Ted’s Picks of Worst Films of the Year so far

Just yesterday I saw this info-graphic that Hollywood’s creativity is waning. I mean, zero original movie in 2011?? WOW! I wonder how 2012 fares, but there sure are a bazillion remakes, sequels, prequels, what have you, and that trend isn’t likely to end anytime soon. Well, Rodney at Fernby Films are currently doing Worst Film Week series, so it seems fitting that Ted takes the time to share the worst of what he’s seen this year.

I just realized that I’ve seen more films this year than I did at the same time a year ago and even though none of them I would consider great, some are quite entertaining. Of course I also saw some really bad ones along the way. I read that many film bloggers and critics dubbed this year as the year of disappointments and I think I have agree with that statement.

Below are my top 4.5 worst films I’ve seen so far this year.

4.5. John Carter 

I don’t know if I should even put 4.5 for this movie since I only watched about 45 minutes of it. I had to turn it off because there’s nothing in the film that interests me, Taylor Kitsch has zero screen charisma and I have no desire to see him in any other films from now on. The film was such a box office failure that Disney actually had to tell their share holders that they lost money on it, ouch!
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4. The Bourne Legacy

I was really looking forward to seeing this film, a new leading man and director behind the cameras so I was hoping to see a new take on the franchise, sadly that was not the case. I like Jeremy Renner as an actor but I don’t think he’s the leading man quality that Hollywood is pushing him hard to be. I thought he did a descent job as the new “Jason Bourne” in this film so he’s not the reason why this film failed. I blame all of the mishaps on the film’s writer and director, Tony Gilroy. True that Gilroy also wrote the first three Bourne films but the directors of those films brought in a few writers to tweak his script. But now he’s totally in charge of the fourth film, he only brought in his brother to help him write the it. I understood what the Gilroys were trying to do with this new chapter of the Bourne franchise but I think had they brought in another writer or two to tighten up the script, it could’ve been a good movie.

Directing wise, Gilroy loves to have scenes with long dialogue (for example Michael Clayton), that’s fine as long as what the characters were saying are interesting but unfortunately in this film, none of the dialogues were interesting nor do we care what they were talking about. Since this is an action film, we the audience expects to see action, well Gilroy failed on delivering that part too. Although I did enjoy the shootout scene at the big house but the big motorcycle chase near the end of the film just went on too long and most of time we couldn’t see what the hell was going on the screen. Also, where was the big hand-to-hand combat? The first three films had a huge fight scene and I expected to see the same in this one.

Apparently Universal will continue to make another Bourne film even though this one will be the least successful at the box office. I just hope they hire a new director and have a better script, I think Tony Gilroy might be a one hit wonder when it comes to directing. I love Michael Clayton and I thought for sure Gilroy will make more great films; sadly Duplicity and this film were dreadful. Check out my full review of this movie here.
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3. Red Tails

A friend of mine got some free passes to an early screening of this film and invited me to see it with him, I decided to check out back in January. Well I wish I hadn’t, if not for the many war veterans who were at the attendance and a free pass from my friend, I would’ve walked out half hour into the film. This was such a shame because The Tuskegee Airmen deserves a better film to tell their story. This film was filled with so many bad clichés that my eyes hurt from rolling them throughout the film. Shame on George Lucas for making this Star Wars mixed in with Top Gun turkey, instead of giving us a great story of one of the finest US fighter groups in WW2. If you really want to see a better film about this group of men, I urge you to see the 1995 movie The Tuskegee Airmen. It’s 10 times better than this awful film.
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2. Total Recall (2012)

This film may have been the most unoriginal remake since the remake of The Getaway back in 1994; I know it’s sounds weird since it’s a remake but at least most remakes tried to bring something new to table. Not this film, it’s a great example of lazy writing and lack of creativity by the filmmakers. Yes, the film looks great but if we don’t care about the story or any of the characters, then what’s the point? If you’ve never seen the original, please see that version and skip this one. If you like, you can read my full review here.

1. Safe House

Speaking of lazy and unoriginal filmmaking, this film is a great example of that. Not only did director Daniel Espinosa copied the look and feel of Greengrass’s two Bourne films, he even hired cinematographer Oliver Wood to shoot the film for him as Wood shot the first three Bourne films. Seriously, watch Greengrass’s Bourne films, particularly The Bourne Supremacy and then watch this film and you’ll see how similar they are to one another (except The Bourne Supremacy was great and this one’s awful).

I read an interview with screenwriter David Guggenheim who said he wrote an original script and wanted to tell a great espionage story just like films of the 70s. I had to laugh at that because there’s nothing original about his script. Now he may have written an “original” story and the producers may have hired more writers to tweak his original script but still, to come out and say that his script was so original after the film came out with a straight face was comical to me.

The unoriginal script was bad enough but the direction by Espinosa was even worst. Seriously, does this man even know how to shoot a film? Now I’ve never seen his other films so I don’t know much about his work but after seeing this movie, I have no interest in seeing his upcoming films or his earlier ones. I wrote a piece about how I wish action directors would stop shooting action scenes with that hand held/fast editing style and this film is a great example of how bad action scenes look when not staging them well and just shake the cameras. I can forgive directors for shooting bad action scenes if I was involved in the story (Batman Begins for example, bad action scenes but I love the story). Well unfortunately, I didn’t care about the plot here, in fact I figured out who the real bad guy was in just a half an hour into it. Espinosa also doesn’t seem to know how to create or build up tension leading up to action scenes.

I haven’t even talked about the two leading men yet and you know what, there’s not much to talk about. Washington looked bored, he’s basically playing another version of Alonso from Training Day, except here he’s the “good” guy. Ryan Reynolds, well he’s playing Ryan Reynolds. I don’t buy him as an action hero and he didn’t do much to convince me in this one. Don’t waste your time and money on this film.

– post by Ted S.


Well those are some bad films I saw so far this year, I’m pretty sure I’ll see more bad ones in the next three months so I may have to tweak the list comes January. Feel free to list your worst films so far this year in the comments section.

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!

Yesterday Sandra Bullock turned 46, so happy belated birthday, Sandy!

This has been quite a year for the affable actress, winning an Oscar and losing a marriage in the same year, which is tough enough in and of itself even without a heinous scandal associated with it. Yet, the gorgeous actress continues to carry herself with grace and class through it all. I’ve always liked Sandra, even if I don’t always like her movies, and that’s because in a town where narcissism run amok, she still comes across as a genuinely nice and humble human being

The night before she won her Best Actress Oscar on March 7th, she actually showed up at the Razzie to accept not one, but two Raspberry trophies she ‘earned’ for both Worst Actress and Worst On-Screen Couple for All About Steve. You’ve probably seen the video at the Razzie award where she hauled a wheeled wagon full of the chastised All About Steve dvds and delivered a speech equally gracious as the one she delivered for the real honor! You’ve got to hand it to her for that self-deprecating sense of humor and her ability to laugh at herself.

As my tribute to the lovely actress, here five of my favorite Sandra Bullock movies (in order of release):

  • Speed (1994)
    This is one of the movies Bullock and Keanu Reeves will be remembered for. I love this action flick when it first came out, it was so much fun to watch and both of the leads have a nice chemistry together as they flirt their way through the terrorist scheme of the late Dennis Hopper. I did swoon over Reeves in his hunkiest role, but Sandra is so darn likable as the ordinary hero Annie, it’s no surprise this movie made her a star.
  • The Net (1995)
    This movie is so dated now, and it’s asking a bit much to have us believe that someone as pretty as Bullock is a reclusive geek who has no friends or boyfriend. But if you can just get past that absurd notion, the movie itself is quite enjoyable. Of course having a baddie in the form of the tall, dark & handsome Brit Jeremy Northam can’t hurt 🙂 Sure this movie doesn’t hold up well now, but Bullock’s sincere performance and non-stop action sequences kept me in suspense.
  • While You Are Sleeping
    I’m not a huge rom-com fan, but this one still gets me every time it came on TV. The movie truly hinges on Sandra’s likability factor, but it was so easy to root for her character, even if we don’t agree with everything she does. A train fare collector who’s a hopeless romantic, she has a massive crush on a dashing commuter, and pretends to be his fiance when he was knocked unconscious. With a premise like this, you need a leading actress who can sell it. Sandra definitely passes with flying colors. Heck, she’s able to make even Bill Pullman seems so irresistible! 🙂
  • The Proposal (2009)
    Another rom-com, I know. But this one actually comes pretty highly recommended that I was curious enough to check it out. One thing I notice is Sandra definitely ages well, this is over a decade after Speed and she still maintain that youthful radiance and lithe figure. The movie also benefits from Ryan Reynolds’ casting, an actor equally affable and funny, and though I don’t quite buy the chemistry between the two, it’s still fun to watch the two banter with each other, not to mention the hilarious scenes between her and Betty White!
  • The Blind Side (2009)
    This is one that I’d get flak for even including in my list. Yeah, I know a lot of people are still enraged over her winning Best Actress Oscar, but it’s a given that moviegoers disagree with what the Academy picks. I for one thinks it’s well-deserved, it might not be the best performance of the year, but it was Bullock’s strongest and most nuanced role yet. As I said in my review, the movie works thanks largely to Sandra Bullock’s assertive but guarded performance, and again she comes across very genial and relatable.

Well folks, what are your favorite Sandra Bullock movie(s)?