Weekend Roundup: Thoughts on Prometheus, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, BBC’s ZEN

Yo, Happy Tuesday all!

It’s been one hectic weekend for me. Saturday morning my hubby and I participated in the annual Kids Against Hunger’s Fill Their Plate 5/10k walk/run sponsored by my friend’s church. It’s raining but still a whole lot of fun to do and we were caught up in the energy of all the people at the beautiful Calhoun Lake.

That night we finally saw Prometheus. Well, I wasn’t exactly disappointed but I can’t exactly say it’s a stellar film either. I agree with my colleague Phil’s review that it’s indeed a gorgeous film, but I have sooo many issues about the plot that I’d probably give this movie a 3 out of 5 instead of 4.

Below is just my quick thoughts about the movie:

Now, Phil mentioned in his review that ‘the movie brings up an awful lot of questions that will leave you shaking your head days later and some of those questions can only be answered by a sequel.’ Now it’s to be expected that Ridley Scott would want to create another lucrative franchise out of Prometheus but I’m afraid that the fundamental questions about the story would likely still be left unanswered.

As I mentioned in Castor’s review, I mentioned that the questions begin early with the uber-ripped ‘engineer’ in the opening sequence [obviously there’s a bunch of GOLD GYM in the alien planet]. It’s never explained what the heck happened by the waterfall there that caused him to fall into a decaying creature. That’s just the beginning, but my biggest beef is with the protagonist Dr. Elizabeth Shaw’s ‘belief system.’ She wears a cross necklace and the movie alludes to the fact that she is a believer in a Higher Being in what I presume is the Judeo Christian God [her father seems to have been a missionary?]. When her boyfriend Charlie asks her at one point why she keeps wearing the cross when it’s been suggested that aliens rather than God made humans, she shoots back saying, “Yes, but who made them?” But then later on she ends up convinced the engineers are indeed her ‘maker,’ despite non-conclusive evidence a scientist like her would require before jumping into such theory. That supposed DNA match argument doesn’t really hold up either as the engineers don’t really share our likeness so to think that they created us is just laughable. I guess you can chug it to ‘that’s what I choose to believe’ [shrug]

Scott directing Rapace in Prometheus

Prometheus does work as a sci-fi thriller though, and there are a lot to be enjoyed in the movie. The suspense and eerie feeling is definitely there throughout, peppered with jump-out-your-seat moments but not too scary that would repulse someone like me. I’ve mentioned how gorgeous this movie is, the opening sequence look like something from an IMAX National Geographic film. I also enjoyed the performances of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba, in that order. Rapace’s Shaw definitely echoes the badassery of Alien’s Sigourney Weaver. Her survival instinct is just incredible, yay for woman power! Fassbender’s robotic David is wonderful to watch as well, ironically, his character is the most well-developed of all the others. Clearly Scott is far more interested in the ‘replicant’ character than the human ones. Elba is his usual charming self and you could say he’s the comic relief in the movie.

So overall I see it as a fun sci-fi but not exactly a profound one. Sure Ridley Scott did a decent effort exploring the basic questions all of us grapple with: why are we here, where are we from, etc., he just can’t follow ’em up with meaningful answers, let alone a rational one.

Another movie I saw over the weekend is The Imaginarium of  Dr Parnassus, Heath Ledger’s last film I’ve been wanting to see since 2009. Ivan and I started watching it really late so we actually have only seen the first 90 minutes. So far I really enjoyed it though, it’s a fun fantasy flick, definitely bizarre but that’s what one would expect from Terry Gilliam. Christopher Plummer is wonderful as always, but the scene stealer is Heath Ledger. He was so charismatic, a pity that he died during production of this film. I am curious to see the three actors who replaced him in the latter half: Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law. Heath actually reminded me of Depp in some scenes so it’s definitely inspired casting. Bonus that Andrew Garfield is in this as well, I adore him and he’s the reason I’m looking forward to The Amazing Spiderman.

Oh and last but not least, my pal Becky made me promise that I watch BBC’s ZEN on Masterpiece Mystery on Sunday, and really she didn’t need to ask me twice. I mean, it’s Rufus Sewell + Rome = a delectable combination! Rufus is at his most gorgeous  [those Armani suits fit him sooo well], and so is his love interest, Caterina Murino [the other Bond girl besides Eva Green in Casino Royale]. It’s a great detective drama peppered with action and wit, it’s a pity BBC didn’t make more of it. Check out this in-depth review of the series when it first premiered on PBS last year.


Well, that’s my weekend viewing roundup. What did you watch this weekend? I welcome your reaction to my Prometheus mini review.

Monthly Roundup: May Movie Watching Recap

Happy June everybody! Summer is officially here, yay! Summer blockbuster months are definitely upon us. I think starting this weekend there’ll be a movie worth seeing on the big screen practically every weekend!

But this month is quite lackluster for me. I only went to the cinema once the entire month, and even catching up on newly-released movies on Blu-ray has been slow. But like the last one, it’s a busy blogging time with no less than three blog-a-thons, as well as some other list-related posts I did. Here are some in case you missed them:

Ok, and here are the [paltry] list of movies I saw this past month…

Movies I haven’t seen before:

Re-watch:
Yes I know, it’s very depressing indeed, especially after seeing Eric’s and Ryan’s lists, I mean just look at all those awesome movies they watched! Hopefully I’ll have more time to watch a lot more movies this month, as this weekend alone I’ll be watching three new films starting with Coriolanus which I watched last night. I can tell you that after waiting nearly two years to see it, I wasn’t disappointed, full review coming next week. This evening we plan to watch Snow White & The Huntsman, and I also got the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus Blu-ray that my pal Vince lent me. I’ve been curious to see Heath Ledger’s last film.

Favorite May Movie:

Shouldn’t be a surprise to you eh? I still haven’t seen it again a second time, but we might do that once this arrives in the discount theater.


So, how many films did you get to watch this month and what’s your favorite?

Correction on ‘Dr Parnassus’ movie release date

Sorry, apparently I was misinformed about the release date of the movie. The October 16th date is the UK release but as of today, there’s no official confirmation who’ll distribute it in the US and when.

There’s rumor circulating it might be out on Christmas day, and I’ll be sure to post an update as soon as I learn more.

Cheers!

Hollywood Casting News: Flixchatter highlights

When I was little, every time the inevitable “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question came up, I always answered with all the tenacity a teeny girl I could muster: a screenwriter. A rather unusual reply for a wee kid barely able to scribble a decent sentence, let alone a paragraph. But come to think of it, you know what would be a fantastic job to have? Casting director! I mean, imagine how fun it’d be going to work every day looking at scripts and study the characters, and figure out who’s best fit this role or that role. Of course it’s not as easy and glamorous as it seems, and I presume it can be as stressful as any job, but how gratifying it would be when the person you hire — and fight for with all your might to get him/her cast in a certain project — ends up winning an award or become an unlikely movie star! (I always wonder how Robert Pattinson’s casting director feels with all the frenzy surrounding that previously obscure kid actor).

In any case, as such dream job is definitely out of the realm of possibility, I settle for just reading about casting updates. Here’s some of the highlights this past week:

  • Jackman the AVON MAN?
    If he's selling it, I'd definitely be an AVON customer =)

    Variety: Hugh Jackman has joined the cast of Avon Man. Now, don’t worry, it’s not exactly another super hero flick. It’s billed as a Monty Phyton-ish comedy about a group of men laid off from an auto dealership (how timely!). One of them, presumably Jackman’s character, is reluctantly recruited into becoming an Avon salesman. Although the experience is initially emasculating, he uses his charm and good looks to become a top seller and even manage to compell his buddies to join him in the makeup business in order to win a regional sales contest. I laughed so hard just reading the premise, with Jackman’s charm and showmanship, this sounds like a winner!

  • Digital Spy reported that Colin Farrell has been tipped to replace Johnny Depp as Toby Grisoni in Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited Don Quixote movie. The film, initially titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, originally started filming in October 2000, but it was abandoned after a series of on-set mishaps. I wonder if the fact that both Depp and Farrell are in Gilliam’s upcoming film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus might have something to do with the casting switch.
  • I didn’t even know they’re making this film, but apparently it was to star Penn, Benicio del Toro and Jim Carrey. What a strange threesome indeed. But Chron Entertainment reported that Jim Carrey has walked away from the Farrelly brothers’ upcoming remake of The Three Stooges. He was expected to take on the role of Curly, but according to The Boston Globe, Peter Farrelly has confirmed he is no longer involved in the project. Allegedly, Giamatti has now been confirmed to fill the role vacated by Sean Penn (???!!), who quit the film earlier this year citing personal reasons. Well, who’d have thought Penn would ever be interested in a Three Stooges movie!
  • Variety: Frank Langella will join the cast of Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, that’ll be directed by Oliver Stone. Michael Douglas will reprise his Oscar-winning Gordon Gekko role. Langella is in talks to play Lewis Zabel, an old-time broker who mentors Shia LaBeouf’s character, a young Wall Street broker. Ok, that’s my cue that I’ve got to watch the original movie soon.
  • Variety: Sam Worthington is in talks to join Charlize Theron in The Tourist, a remake of the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer that will be directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). Theron is set to play a female Interpol agent who uses an American tourist in an attempt to flush out an elusive criminal who was once her lover. Worthington is replacing Tom Cruise who dropped out of the project (yay!). Wow, whoever this Aussie actor’s agent is, he/she’s one busy bee!

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Heath Ledger’s last film

ledger_parnasusIn the trailer that was released last week, we get a glimpse of the last work of an actor who died way too young and with so much potential for greatness. It’s a fantastical morality tale that tells the story of a leader of a traveling troupe, Dr Parnassus, who has an extraordinary gift of guiding people’s imagination through a magical mirror. But Dr Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret after having made a deal with the devil Mr Nick a second time, this time to trade his immortality for youth. That ‘deal’ comes at a hefty price: any souls that reach the age of 16, including Parnassus’ own daughter, would become the property of Mr Nick. As Valentina rapidly approaches her 16th birthday, the doctor becomes desperate to protect her daughter from her impending fate. Enter a mysterious outsider Tony, who ends up embarking through parallel worlds of surreal obstacles to rescue Valentina, the girl he loves. He and Dr Parnassus must fight to undo the doctor’s past sins, once and for all.

British thespian Christopher Plummer (who’s always & forever Capt. Von Trapp to me) plays Dr Parnassus, and Heath played the role of Tony. According to MTV news, Heath has completed about 45 percent of the shoot for the film in London in early December 2007. By mid-January, after Ledger had filmed an eerie scene in which his character hangs by his neck off Blackfriars Bridge, production broke for a week, as planned, with the intention to resume the shoot in Vancouver. Heath died merely days later of accidental overdose. Originally director Terry Gilliam rejected the idea of recasting Heath’s role. “He finished almost everything on this side of the mirror,” Gilliam said. “What he didn’t do was what was on the other side of the mirror.” But upon the insistence of the producers of the film, he ended up having to find other actors to portray Tony once he travels through the mirror, and Gilliam called some of Ledger’s friends to see if they’d join the cast. That’s how Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law found their way into this movie. On a side note, the three replacement actors donated their paychecks to Matilda, Ledger’s three-year-old daughter, which is very cool of them to do so.

The movie was screened at Cannes to mixed reviews, and it will premiere for North American audiences at the Toronto Film Festival in less than a month. It’ll no doubt be gaining attention the fact that it’s Heath’s final film. But the trailer itself looks fascinating, it’s weirdly surreal-looking brimming with psychedelic imagination and circus-like vibe, which is expected from the director of Monty Phyton and the Holy Grail. Besides Ledger who’s perfect as Tony, it’s always fun to see Johnny Depp in yet another one of his seemingly endless fantastical roles (as he’s just last seen as Madhatter in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland). “Nothing is permanent, not even death,” Depp as Tony says towards the end. Alas, in the transient world we live in, it is indeed permanent, but once The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is released on October 16, it’ll be great to see Ledger come alive again on screen.