Christmas Weekend Viewing Roundup

Hello all, happy Monday! I hope a lot of you get today off as well as Christmas fell on a Sunday. Well, it’s been a nice, mellow Christmas weekend for me but boy did we watch quite a lot of movies!

The three new movies I saw this past week couldn’t be more different from each other… a silent film, an espionage thriller and a motion-capture adventure based on a beloved comic series. All of them are movies I’ve been waiting to see for a year or more!

Earlier in the week I got a pair of advanced screening tickets to see The Artist, thanks to my pal Ted. I’ve got the review done and ready to publish tomorrow, that’s the first film I gave a five out of five star this year. I highly recommend it if it’s playing near you, trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy lives up to the ‘smart thriller’ promise though if you don’t like a ‘quiet’ film where not a lot of things are happening, this might not be a movie for you. I watch it mostly for the top notch British ensemble cast and for that reason it did not disappoint. I should have the review up later in the week.

Now, The Adventures of Tintin is still pretty fresh in my mind as I had just seen it yesterday afternoon. As you know, I’m a huge fan of Hergé’s comics and I’ve been waiting for this movie for almost two years! The fact that I was at the Tintin panel at Comic-con made me even more excited for this, which is really quite a build-up leading up to finally seeing the movie. Well, I’ll write a full review for this also but for now I can tell you that I’m glad Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg did the comics justice! They are both fans of Hergé’s work and it shows.

Now, I also had time to watch a couple of Gregory Peck-related stuff for my Peck marathon… one is The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which was based on Ernest Hemingway’s short story. It’s the second collaboration of Gregory and his friend, the beautiful Ava Gardner.

I have to admit, that even though the story was engaging and the cast were great to watch, but the fake backdrop used in the studio-sets are quite distracting! Apparently the studios only sent the photographers to the actual locations but the actors all remained in the studio lot. What a pity considering the filming were supposed to take place in Africa (hence the title), Spain and France!

I also finished Gregory’s well-written biography by Gary Fishgall. It’s the first actor biography I ever care to read and it’s quite a page turner. It offers a pretty good history all the way to his childhood and his start on Broadway, as well as a plethora of trivia on his illustrious acting career and his numerous philanthropic efforts. Here was a man who had a big heart and admirable persona to go with that devastatingly handsome good looks. I also watched this warm and candid documentary done by his daughter Cecilia called A Conversation with Gregory Peck (part of the 2-disc of To Kill A Mockingbird), another fascinating glimpse into the life of a true Hollywood legend. You can watch the full doc on You Tube, here’s the first part if you’re interested:


l love that the opening sequence is done in the style of To Kill A Mockingbird, which understandably is the film he’s best remembered for. Oh how I wish I had been able to attend one of those Q&A sessions, but watching the doc allowed me to live vicariously through some of his fans.


So what did you happen to catch this weekend? Please share your own weekend viewing roundup in the comments.

THIS JUST IN! The Adventures of Tintin Trailer

Y’all should know by now I’m a huge Tintin fan, I own pretty much every copy of the comics translated in my native language Indonesian and still read it from time to time even today! I even read one last night after seeing the newly-released posters! Suffice to say I’ve been watching this project pretty closely for a while and it’s also one of my highly-anticipated movies this year. You can read more detailed info about the film here and here,

So finally, we’ve got a glimpse of what Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg’s been working on the past decade!


Y’know, I gotta say I’m a bit worried about the ‘dead eyes’ look of the motion-capture animated 3D films like The Polar Express which creeped the heck out of me, but I think it doesn’t look too bad here. In fact, this trailer makes me excited even more! Of course I’m naturally inclined to like this one because Tintin is just such a huge part of my childhood, so there’s the nostalgia factor. Whether or not the entire movie works and do the comics justice remains to be seen obviously. Hergé’s work are also well-written and full of great characters going about in spectacular adventures, there’s ‘magic’ every time I dove into each comic and imagine Tintin, Snowy, Haddock, etc. come to live… and now I can actually see and hear them literally come to live on screen!

Oh, here are the two posters that was just released this past weekend? I think they’re pretty elegant looking and I love the blueish gold color scheme.

I realize people in the US probably aren’t as familiar (if at all, as my colleagues keep confusing Tintin with Rintintin!) so I’m really curious to see how this movie will do in the box office here come December. I’d think kids will enjoy this and the adults might be swayed by the names of the filmmakers involved, but it probably will be more of a hit in Europe and Asia.


So what do you all think of the trailer and/or posters? Are you a fan of Tintin comics?

FlixChatter’s Most Anticipated 2011 Movies – Part II

Here’s the second part of the movies I’m anticipating this year. Again, I only list those that I’d most likely be seeing in the cinema. The release dates information is courtesy of Movie Insider and The-Numbers. I will update accordingly if there are changes, as the information becomes available.


AUGUST

August 31 – The Debt
Synopsis:
Twenty years after World War II’s end, three Mossad agents learn that a Nazi war criminal is still alive and set out to pursue him across Europe.

I’ve been anticipating this movie for a while since I saw this intriguing trailer, oh and what a cast! Relative newcomers Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain are quite privileged to be acting alongside seasoned thespians like Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds. Chastain who’s also in The Tree of Life and Coriolanus is quite possibly one of the hottest (and luckiest) young actress working today! I was afraid this movie would go straight to dvd when Miramax went kaput last year. Glad it ends up getting a theater release.

 

SEPTEMBER

September 1 – Straw Dogs
Synopsis:
James Marsden as a Hollywood screenwriter who accompanies his wife (Kate Bosworth) as she returns to her hometown in Mississippi. Her ex-boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard), a former high school football hero, sees her return as an opportunity to reclaim glory.

Wow, September is a slow month indeed, I kept looking at the list and the only one that I’m somewhat interested is the one above (as I like James Marsden). He’s back together again with Bosworth, who was his love interest in Superman Returns. Depending on the reviews, this could be worth seeing in the theater, but I’m waiting for the trailer/reviews first.

The only other one I might be interested in is Brighton Rock, a UK gangster-themed thriller starring Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Sam Riley, which probably will get a limited theater release here in the States. It’s got mixed reviews when it opened in the UK and premiered at last year’s TIFF, so it could be more of a rental-quality.

OCTOBER

October 14 – Three Musketeers
Synopsis:
A modernized re-imagining of the classic novels written by Alexandre Dumas that follow the story of a young d’Artagnan, who longs to become a great musketeer — one of the personal guards of the French crown. He encounters and befriends the contentious Athos, Porthos, and Aramis — three musketeers of legend and folly.


I’ve always had a thing for this classic tale, I mean one of my favorite guilty pleasures is The Man in the Iron Mask. Most likely I won’t be as enamored by this d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) than I was with Gabriel Byrne in the titular role, but I quite like the cast of the three musketeers themselves: Brits Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans and Matthew Macfayden. I sure hope this won’t be as bad as the other Paul W.S. Anderson‘s films and at the very least it’d be a fun swashbuckling entertainment worth a cinema ticket price.

October 21 – Contagion
Synopsis:
An action-thriller that takes place in a worst case scenario of a deadly virus.

I don’t know much about this Steven Soderbergh movie but check out the cast: Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne and recent Oscar nominee John Hawkes. I’d watch just for the amazing cast. The premise kind of reminds me of the Dustin Hoffman movie Outbreak, but I’m curious what Soderbergh has in store for us in this one.


TBA – The Rum Diary
Synopsis:
Based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson with the same name, Depp plays an American journalist named Paul Kemp, which is loosely based on the author’s own life journey. Kemp moves from New York to the Caribbean with the hope of finding adventure, but instead finds himself tangled in love, jealousy, and violence, amongst his alcoholic American peers who staff the run-down newspaper.

This movie was actually in my 2010 most anticipated movies list, but it just kept getting delayed. Not sure what the problem is, can’t imagine a Johnny Depp movie not getting a distributor?? The premise sounds interesting and tailor-made for Depp, especially his connection to Thompson. I also like Aaron Eckhart who’s his co-star in this movie. Check out some of the on-set photos that my co-worker shot whilst vacationing in Puerto Rico. Hope the trailer will be released soon.

NOVEMBER

November 11 – Immortals
Synopsis: A mythological tale set in war-torn ancient Greece where the young warrior prince Theseus leads his men in a battle against evil that will see theGods and Men fighting against the Titans and Barbarians.

Freida Pinto as Phaedra with Theseus in the background

It’s like Clash of the Titans but Kraken-free and hopefully much, much better. Indian director Tarsem Singh first came to my attention when I saw the visual feast that is The Fall, which was filmed on location in 18 countries, including Bali for the Kecak dance sequence. I have a soft spot for the leading man Henry Cavill (the new Superman) and coupled with Tarsem’s knack for a glorious visual spectacle, this is definitely one to see on the big screen.

 

TBA – Coriolanus
Synopsis: A modern Shakespeare historical thriller on a banished Roman hero (Ralph Fiennes) who allies with a sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to take his revenge on the city.

Coriolanus greets his mother Volumnia as Menenius looks on

Despite Vanessa’s dismal review from Berlinale, I’m still hugely anticipating this. Yes, I’m a big fan of Butler as y’all already know, but I’m also curious to see Fiennes’s directing debut and all the fuss is about Vanessa Redgrave’s performance as Coriolanus’ mother that there’s already talks of Oscar nomination for next year. I also love Scottish thespian Brian Cox who plays Coriolanus’ mentor Menenius.

Check out the behind-the-scene photos and additional stills and info about the movie. The screenplay is by John Logan (Gladiator, Last Samurai) so I’m still hoping the dialog would at least be pretty solid.

DECEMBER

December 23 – The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Synopsis: Tintin and his friends discover directions to a sunken ship commanded by Capt. Haddock’s ancestor and go off on a treasure hunt. Based on the Belgian comic series The Adventures of Tintin from Georges Rémi, a.k.a Herge that is beloved all over the world (but largely unknown in the US).

As a huge fan of the comic books that I still even read from time to time in my native language, I’m beyond thrilled that this is getting a big screen treatment, from Spielberg and Peter Jackson no less! I realize the motion capture thing can be a concern as it did with the ‘dead eyes’ problem with The Polar Express, as Darren pointed it out on his blog post about it. But I’m cautiously optimistic that it’ll be a huge improvement from the previous motion capture films and it’d look more realistic like Avatar.

TBA – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6’s echelons.

I’ve always had a thing about retired spy being called back to mission again, hence the protagonist in my first fantasy movie pitch Hearts Want. So the premise based on John le Carré’s novel intrigues me even before I saw the cast. But when you’ve got this kind of lineup: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock Holme), and Ciaran Hinds, it’s hard not to include this in my most-anticipated list. Oldman plays George Smiley, a middle-aged, taciturn, perspicacious intelligence expert in forced retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service (info from the Wikipedia page of the novel). There was a BBC miniseries back in 1979 starring Alec Guinness, so if any of you have seen it, I’d love to hear what you think.

I’ve been waiting for its release for quite a while but finally I heard news a few weeks ago that Universal will distribute this in the US (perhaps the fact that Colin Firth took home an Oscar had a lot to do with it?). A bit of casting trivia, Michael Fassbender was originally cast but was replaced by Tom Hardy. Not a bad trade, no, not bad at all 🙂

Maybe:

December 16 – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
I quite like the first one (read my review), I thought Guy Ritchie did a decent job adapting this with a modern feel and keeping it light and funny. I’m not a Holmes’ purist so I didn’t mind Ritchie taking a lot of liberty with the material. I think having Robert Downey Jr. as the famous character is inspired casting, and his rapport with Jude Law is Ritchie’s bromance at its most entertaining. So I might check the sequel even just to see them back together again.


Well, turns out there are more movies I want to see in the second half of the year. There might be a few I’m missing here but I’ll update this list periodically.

So, any one of these movies you’re eager to see? Do share what movie(s) you are anticipating that are not on this list.