Belated Birthday Tribute to Sam Riley

sambdaytribute

I can’t believe I missed my darling Sam’s birthday yesterday!! My favorite actor turned 37 on January 8… and since he made his breakthrough debut in Control in 2007, he doesn’t seem to have aged a day!

He was born on January 8, 1980 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. I love his Yorkshire accent, spoken with his signature husky voice. He’s a chain smoker which likely contributes to that… and he’s got that devil-may-care attitude paired with self-deprecating wit that’s so irresistible!

culturallife_bw4

Oh Sam Riley… how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Yes I know the word ‘underrated’ is not a popular word to use right now, but I really do think Sam is grossly under-appreciated as for whatever reason, he’s simply hasn’t gotten as much work as his fellow Brits. Maybe because he lives in Berlin, away from Tinsel Town or even the UK’s movie scene in London. And he’s a happily-married man, he’s been married to Romanian/German actress Alexandra Maria Lara for 8 years (a lifetime by Hollywood standards) and has a young boy together.

sam_alex_freefirepremiere
Sam w/ Alexandra on the premiere of Free Fire, Fall 2016 – photo courtesy of SamRiley.org

They met on the set of Control, which is kind of a fairy tale romance in itself, and they worked together again in Suite Francaise in 2014.  Look at these two, such a gorgeous couple!!

I was literally hyperventilating last week when I saw BBC ONE’s preview featuring SS-GB … can’t wait to get my copy of the February edition of EMPIRE magazine. Lookie here, Sam in a glorious spread as a Scotland Yard detective, decked in a dapper suit and fedora? YES PLEASE!!

ssgb_empire

Courtesy of @CarryOnScarlett tweet

I’m also super excited to see Sam in Free Fire! I’ve posted the first trailer here, which looks like a hoot w/ a terrific cast! So there are at least two of Sam’s work I’m looking forward to in Spring, hopefully more to come later in the year.


Photos courtesy of AdoroCinema

Well, I did a Sam Riley marathon last year which made me appreciate him even more as an actor. He’s so self-deprecating that he often says in interviews that they only hire him ‘to blow smoke rings and cry’ as his debut role as Ian Curtis is a forlorn, suicidal tortured soul who smokes like a chimney. But clearly he’s more versatile than that, having played a psychopath (Brighton Rock), Beat Generation pioneer Jack Kerouac (On The Road), a naval vampire (Byzantium), an Austrian cowboy (The Dark Valley), a man bird (Maleficent), a French farmer (Suite Française), and of course, Colonel Darcy (Pride + Prejudice + Zombies)… the role I fell head over heels in love with.

So in my tribute to the phenomenal actor who I think should get more leading roles… here are five key roles that will forever mark me as a Sam Riley fan.

CONTROL (2007)

A profile of Ian Curtis, the enigmatic singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23.

sam_control

Since January 8th was also the birthday of rock icon David Bowie, it’s only natural I include THIS very scene from Sam’s debut role in a feature film. It’s been a decade since that film came out and I think it’s still regarded as one of the greatest, most poignant rock biopic ever made. Sam’s devastating performance doesn’t just capture Ian as a musical genius, but he captured the enigma and inner pain of the young man, who’s dealing with epilepsy and depression as his band gained fame beyond his control.

On the Road (2012)

Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.

sam_ontheroad

Sam once again portrays a real-life persona, as his character Sal is basically Jack Kerouac. He sports an effortless American accent as a quiet, reflective writer observing his wild and carefree friend Dean. He works well with Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, who at the time was at the height of Twilight’s mass hysteria. He’s the kind of actors who can disappear into his roles, he has an earthy every-man quality about him, yet he makes even the most mundane activity like typing or just scribbling in a notepad seems so darn sexy.

 

Byzantium (2013)

sam_byzantium

Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

Sam didn’t have a big part in this film but his role of Darvell is an important one to the story. Like the rest of the cast, the actors portray their roles in two separate timelines centuries apart. I’ve done a full review of it here, it’s quite a mesmerizing film by Neil Jordan… eerie, ethereal and mysteriously romantic. Wish I could find the exact clip, but I love all the scenes between Sam and Gemma Arterton. It’d be cool to see them do a film together again one day.

The Dark Valley (2014)

Through a hidden path a lone rider reaches a little town high up in the Alpes. Nobody knows where the stranger comes from, nor what he wants there. But everyone knows that they don’t want him to stay.

sam_darkvalley

This is the film I tell everyone to see if they’ve only seen Sam in Control. It’s an excellent Schnitzel Western (read my full review) shot entirely in the Austria Alps where the characters are Austrian/German except for Sam. He learned German when he married his wife, and to me he sounds very much believable as a taciturn, lone-ranger type who exacts vengeance on a group of townsfolk in a meticulously-calculated way. I always love actors who could convey a lot of emotions with his eyes and facial expressions alone, and Sam certainly got to do that here, whilst also being a bad-ass cowboy at the same time!

Check out my Music and Cinematography appreciation for this film here.

Pride + Prejudice + Zombies (2016)

Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies.

sam_darcy

Well, THIS is the role that got me to notice Sam, which is a major reason why PPZ is on my top 10 list of the first half of 2016. Though I’m a huge period drama fan, for some reason I’ve never been into Mr. Darcy. Give me Captain Wentworth or Colonel Brandon any day over Darcy, but that is until Sam’s COLONEL DARCY came along. From the moment Lizzy saw him arriving at the ball (beginning at 01:48 in the clip below) I was a goner!

Then of course there’s the initially-awkward proposal scene that ends in a glorious, sexually-charged battle between the two… woo wee… THIS is the kind of Darcy I’ve ever hyperventilated over. The chemistry between him and Lily James is off the charts!

Some might say Sam isn’t as dastardly handsome as Colin Firth (which I beg to differ), but he certainly imbued his Darcy character with an extra dose of badassery without sacrificing his romantic side. In fact, in his second proposal scene, he’s perfectly swoon-worthy!

Favorite Sam Interviews

Well I always say that I can’t fall for any actor who lacks personality… no matter how good looking *cough* Henry Cavill *cough* But Sam’s interviews are a hoot, they’re almost as entertaining as watching him act.

His voice is music to my ear too, and he’s just as entertaining to listen to in a podcast interview!


I literally could go on and on in this post about Sam… but I better wrap it up and post this. I hope you learned a bit more about the talented actor, and hopefully check out more of his work!


What film(s) have you seen Sam Riley in? 

Music Break: the music of Joy Division performed by Sam Riley in CONTROL (2007)

tumblr_na59z4ZEnp1rq1n6go1_500

It’s been nearly a month since I saw this rock biopic, but I’m still haunted by Control. I mentioned in this post that no other film affected me quite like this one. It’s a beautiful film in so many ways, the cinematography, the acting, the dialog… but it’s also a sad, utterly heartbreaking film that will likely stay with you for days, or in my case, weeks.

What’s incredible about Anton Corbijn‘s debut [as well as Sam Riley‘s in his first ever feature film role], is that many people become fans of Joy Division, three decades after it was formed in 1976. Even people who attended Ian Curtis’ 30th anniversary tribute admitted they were introduced to him through this film.

tumblr_o01tslI47v1r1yqj1o6_500tumblr_o01tslI47v1r1yqj1o7_500

Joy Division’s style of music isn’t exactly my cup of tea but I can’t help but being quite mesmerized by it. I’ve been listening to their music, both the original and the ones performed by the actors in Control. Strangely enough, after watching clips of the real band on youtube, I actually prefer the live performances of the film version. Even my co-worker who’s a huge Joy Division fan said the same after I lent him my dvd just days after I saw it. I was surprised he hadn’t seen Control given how big a fan of Joy Division he is.

tumblr_o01tslI47v1r1yqj1o10_500So this post is my tribute to the band’s frontman Ian Curtis, as well as Sam Riley who practically became the character. Riley and the actors portraying the band did their own singing for the film, and they did a spectacular job. Sam was in a band in his early 20s called 10,000 Things (which you can listen to in youtube), so he’s got that natural rock star vibe. But the way he conveyed Curtis’ despair and sense of isolation is incredibly convincing, quite a feat for any actor, let alone a complete newbie in his first ever film role.

In fear every day, every evening,
He calls her aloud from above,
Carefully watched for a reason,
Painstaking devotion and love,
Surrendered to self preservation,
From others who care for themselves.
A blindness that touches perfection,
But hurts just like anything else.

Isolation, isolation, isolation.

Mother I tried please believe me,
I’m doing the best that I can.
I’m ashamed of the things I’ve been put through,
I’m ashamed of the person I am.

Isolation, isolation, isolation.

But if you could just see the beauty,
These things I could never describe,
These pleasures a wayward distraction,
This is my one lucky prize.

Isolation, isolation, isolation…

I still cry every time I think about the tragic ending of Curtis’ life when he hanged himself on the eve of the US tour. Curtis’ songwriting was filled with imagery of desolation, emptiness and alienation, if only people had realized he was writing about his own pain.

This scene is undoubtedly one of the most entrancing scenes of the entire film. Not only was the song itself had me in a trance but so was the performance. The epileptic dance, that strange look in his eyes as he performed the song… it’s as if he was possessed by Curtis’ soul as he sang this.

Here’s the first live performance by the band Warsaw, so it’s before they became Joy Division.



Joy Division’s music is truly a seminal one… and it shall always live on.


Hope you enjoyed today’s Music Break. Are you a fan of Joy Division or have seen Control? I’d love to hear what you think.

February Viewing Recap + What I’m looking forward to in March

FebruaryRecap

Well, one thing for sure, I’m REALLY glad award season is over. I’ve posted my thoughts on the Oscars and all, but to be honest with you, it kinda felt like a chore. I don’t even know if I want to do it next year, I might skip blogging about award season next year, that’ll surely be quite liberating.

What I REALLY want to do is to finally write about Sam Riley… I want to talk about just what a tremendous actor he is and review all his movies! He’s a huge part of my February viewing and that’s a VERY good thing! 😀

So here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

(in order of viewing)

Unfortunately I missed the press screening of Demolition w/ Jake Gyllenhaal but hopefully there’ll be another one later this month. But I skipped Gods of Egypt because there’s no way I’m watching that rubbish, seriously how in the world did that even get made?? Its director’s born in Egypt but he cast a Scot AND a Dane as Egyptian gods??! SMH. It’s a new low even for Gerry Butler!

TV series

JessicaJones

I only have two more episodes to go. I’ll do a review of season 1 when I’m done. We wanted to finish it before Daredevil season 2 is out on March 18!!

Rewatches

Yes, I can’t get enough of Sam Riley, can’t you tell? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the first 2016 movie I saw twice on the big screen and I’d easily go for a third if they’re still running in the cinemas! #sorrynotsorry

MOVIE OF THE MONTH

ControlPoster

There’s simply no other film that affected me more than this rock biopic on Joy Division’s frontman Ian Curtis. Sam Riley‘s performance is beyond mesmerizing… to say it’s a soulful performance is putting it mildly. It’s like he became the character and I felt like I was watching a documentary.

No blindspot for this month, but since I’ve had a huge blindspot on this amazingly talented actor, it more than made up for it. In fact, Control should’ve been on my Blindspot list to begin with!


Two screenings I look forward to in March

Batman vs Superman

The press screening’s been scheduled for 3/22 in IMAX. At this point, I just want want to be proven wrong about what my gut’s been about this movie. I just hope it won’t be a load of crap the way the trailers made it look. But hey, if anything, there’s Batfleck, who just might be the saving grace of the movie. Him and maybe Wonder Woman. I have to say though, this Jimmy Kimmel’s skit made me LOL. Hot dayum Henry Cavill is one beautiful man, too bad about his utter lack of charisma.

 

Knight of Cups

I’ll be seeing this on Wednesday and I can’t wait!! I know the reviews haven’t been stellar, and Terrence Malick’s films are definitely an acquired taste, with a cast featuring Christian Bale AND Cate Blanchett, I simply cannot resist!


Stay tuned for my spotlight post on Whiskey Tango Foxtrot & my interview w/ the author whose book is the inspiration for the Tina Fey movie.


Well that’s my recap of February. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

January Viewing Recap, Quick Thoughts on SAG Awards + A New Crush

JanuaryRecap

Well, the first month of 2016 has come and gone. After two weeks Christmas break, work was quite hectic. Somehow I didn’t get as much time to write either, and it seems the closer my script is to *completion* the more I feel like rewriting. I suppose that’s what they say, writing is 90% rewriting.

In any case, here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

(in order of viewing)

Rewatches

Belle (2014)

Anna Karenina (2012)

Sense & Sensibility 

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Notting Hill
mmm

MOVIE OF THE MONTH

SicarioMovieOfTheMonth

I’m kinda late to the party but it’s easily the BEST film I saw this month. It would’ve made my top 10 of 2015 if I had seen it sooner.


SAG AWARDS

I didn’t watch it but based on the articles and tweets I’ve read, it seems that the big takeaway from the night is the focus on diversity, as was Sundance Awards the same night, which seems to sending a big message to the Academy. Idris Elba, who was overlooked by Oscars this year, took home two SAG awards, one for Beast of No Nation and the other for his TV work in Luther. (view complete SAG winners at THR), whilst similarly-named that also have a mostly-Black cast Birth of a Nation swept top awards at Sundance, winning U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award.

Glad to see the terrific ensemble cast of Spotlight won SAG, too. Woo hoo! As for Leo and Brie, methinks there’ll be a repeat at the Oscars, don’t you? Check out Brittani’s post on SAG winners.

 


Play it again Sam 😉

So I saw Pride + Prejudice + Zombies which I actually enjoyed quite a bit [review upcoming]. It was as entertaining as I expected, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I um, enjoyed seeing Sam Riley as the leather-clad, musket/samurai-wielding zombie killer extraordinaire Mr. Darcy!

tumblr_o0xkyeqpCR1qb15ujo2_500


So yeah, suffice to say I’m besotted by this 36-year-old Yorkshire man 😉

SamRiley

I’ve been familiar with him for a while but for some reason I hadn’t seen anything Sam’s done before (what a shame!) so I have a lot of catching up to do (yay!). So I saw Byzantium Saturday night, the Neil Jordan’s unconventional vampire drama that’s been in my Netflix queue for some time. Then Sunday afternoon I watched the sex-drenched road movie On The Road based on Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name.

The film is as aimless as the character but it was immensely watchable thanks to Sam’s narration with that irresistible raspy voice and soulful performance. He’s the character we the audience live vicariously through, as the film was seen through his eyes.

I can’t wait to catch up on more of his work, especially his breakthrough role Control about the UK band Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis.

Control_SamRiley


Well that’s my recap of January. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?