Weekend Roundup: The Edge of Love, The Young Victoria and Avatar

Two indie flicks and a giant blockbuster, that’s the three movies I watched this weekend. It may seem absurd to you but I just finally signed up with Netflix again after 2+ yrs of terminating its membership. Vanessa wondered how I filled my time before that, and the answer is, well, the old-fashioned way. I’m probably the only movie blogger in the blogosphere who still go to the local Blockbuster to rent a flick. But now I’m gonna find out what’s the fuss about this ‘watch instantly’ feature Rockerdad kept raving about.

  • FRIDAY – The Edge of Love
    The first movie on my Netflix queue is the indie WW II period drama. I thought the movie was okay, its first hour was quite promising but overall it just felt neither cohesive nor memorable. Keira Knightley proves she not only has acting chops to go with her gorgeous face, she’s a pretty good singer, too. She played a torch singer Vera Phillips with uncommonly bright white British teeth, deep red lips and melancholy eyes, shot in almost surreal-like theatrics. Though billed as a movie about poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), the movie is essentially about the unlikely friendship between the two women who loved him. Vera is his first love who happens to cross-path with him one fateful night, and Caitlin (Sienna Miller) is Thomas’ fiery wife. Knightley and Miller play off each other well and their bond amidst bouts of jealousy and adversity is convincing. The three of them formed a peculiar threesome (not in a sexual way, mind you), but as soon as trigger-happy soldier William Killick (the soulful Cillian Murphy) enters the picture, it’s apparent four is a crowd. The movie seemed to have a lot going for it, but the script (written by Keira’s own mother Sharman Macdonald) simply can’t decide what he wants to focus the story on, so it aimlessly shifts back and forth between the four characters. Not bad I guess for a Friday night, and at the very least least I get to enjoy the Welsh countryside scenery, Keira’s singing and the elegant 1940s costumes … oh, and Cillian’s mesmerizing blue eyes!
  • SATURDAY afternoon – The Young Victoria (read my full review)
    I’ve been wanting to see this film for months, so I’m glad my friend Corinne and I finally find the time to catch this one. It’s late January and it’s pouring rain outside, few things on earth is as unpredictable as Minnesota weather. But at least it makes for a good time to go to the movies. For the first time in a long time, I actually see TWO movies at the theater in a single day, The Young Victoria at 2:00 and Avatar at 6:30. Set three centuries apart, the two movies can’t be even more different from each other, but hey, in a way the Na’vi is a monarchy, too. How about that for stretch 🙂
  • SATURDAY evening – Avatar IMAX 3D
    I don’t think there is any doubt by now that this movie will shatter James Cameron’s own box office record of Titanic. As of Sunday 1/24, THR reported that in its sixth week, Avatar‘s overseas box office has surpassed the shipwreck epic’s international cume by $46 million. But domestically, it’s got several hundred million to go to beat the Titanic‘s $600.8 million gross, which I don’t think they’ll have a problem with. I guess the Canadian über director has achieved his goal of bringing people back to the cinemas. We almost went to see The Book of Eli on Friday night when it was sold out, and Saturday, we got to the theater half an hour before it started and the place was packed! We had to sit all the way in the back by the handicapped section with the black railing right blocking part of my view!

    Thankfully, the movie itself is still impressive the second time around. Blogger Katie said in her Theory of Second Viewing post that she is of the belief that one cannot form a proper opinion about a movie until you’ve seen it twice. Well, I already loved this movie on first viewing but the second time confirmed my feelings about it. I was still in awe of the spectacular world of Pandora, and the plot, however simplistic, was still engaging. And the fact that I’m already familiar with the story kind of helps me pay more attention to things I missed. It’s interesting that I still marveled and laughed at the same scenes as I did before, i.e. when the phosphorous flying jellyfish landed on Jake, and the first time Jake had a wedgie in the Na’vi’s skimpy wardrobe. Sam Worthington’s endearing portrayal of Jake’s child-like naiveté really wins me over this time that I’m willing to overlook his strong Aussie accent.

    I know I sound like a broken record but even if this isn’t your kind of movie (I’m looking at you Prairiegirl 🙂 ), Avatar simply has to be seen on the IMAX 3D theater. Even if you just see if for the special effects alone, it’s still worth your money. Btw, Yahoo! Movies released a 22-minute making-of featurette that shows what the techie mumbo-jumbo like ‘simul-cam’ and ‘motion capture’ really means. It’s cool to see that the actors still have to physically prepare for their role and the length Cameron went to create a ‘real’ environment and something tactile for them to react to. The motion-capture technology doesn’t replace the actor’s work, but I can see that makeup artists might be a bit worried if this becomes a trend in the near future. Anyway, I wish they had shown how they made Jake’s paralyzed leg so realistically skinny though, given that it’s been the subject of people’s curiosity all over the net.
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So how about you folks? Catch any good movie this past weekend?

Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood Flix

Russell Crowe as Robin Hood
Russell Crowe as Robin Hood

Russell Crowe, arguably the most talented actor working today is hoping reclaim the magic that was last seen in Gladiator. This time he’ll be playing Robin Hood in his fifth collaboration with Ridley Scott.

Originally titled Nottingham, Crowe was going to play dual roles as both the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood, in which Robin isn’t as noble as we thought, and the sheriff isn’t as bad as he’s been previously portrayed. But now it looks like that script has been scrapped, and the flix was ‘nameless’ for awhile. There was even rumor of a love triangle story between the two men and Maid Marion, but last I heard, Scott has decided to just do a straight Robin Hood remake. In any case, this can’t possible be worse with the Kevin Costner version (he can’t even do a decent British accent, for cryin’ out loud!).

The flix has been plagued with numerous production/casting issues that delay the flix from being released this November. There were reports of a feud between Scott and Crowe, which Crowe brushed off as being exaggerated by the press, saying that they both have always had a fiery relationship. Then there were casting problems, the biggest casting hiccup being replacing Sienna Miller with Cate Blanchett (yay!) as Maid Marion. The real reason as to why Miller was ousted remains unclear, alegedly she was deemed too youthful & petite compared to the older & burly Crowe, or it could be that her affair with married man Balthazar Ghetty has cost her this high-profile role. Either way, I’m psyched to see fellow Oscar-winner Blanchett opposite Crowe, she’s in a far higher league acting-wise, which will elevate the quality of any flix she is involved in. Both Aussie thespians are supported by an excellent cast of Mark Strong, Danny Houston and William Hurt playing Sir Guy of Gisbourne, King Richard and William Marshall respectively. Oh, I read that before Crowe was going to tackle the dual roles, Christian Bale (his co-star in 3:10 to Yuma) was ‘penciled in’ to play Robin opposite Crowe as the sheriff. Hmmm, I wouldn’t mind seeing these two fine actors battling each other again. 

Several on-set photos have surfaced, including one where an actor was injured in the battle scene (reported by UK’s DailyMail). As for the costume, it’s less ‘men in tights’ but more medieval looking (see on-set pics here), with Crowe sporting a Maximus-like crop. Fitting I suppose, as Crowe has revealed this is going to be a gritty and ferocious portrayal of Robin Hood (what do you expect from the maker of Gladiator?). Looks like Crowe also pulls a ‘Chris Bale’ move with his yo-yoing body weight. His diet of muffins and burgers to bulk up for his role in Body of Lies (also directed by Ridley) has been replaced by peanuts and porridge to get him into the svelte hero of Sherwood. He’s also been put into a cycling regiment to help speed up the slim-down process.

Currently shooting in Wales, the big-budget flix ($170 million) is now set to open in May 2010. Can’t wait!