Happy Father’s Day – Top 10 favorite cinematic father figures

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Now, I’ve done a couple of father’s day list before (here and here), but this year I thought I’d pay homage to non-biological fathers who have made a big impact in the lives of their *adopted* kids. Since I grew up without a father myself, I often wish I had a father figure whom I could look up to as a kid. With that in mind, I’m going to leave out these three wonderful characters I’ve mentioned before, but they remain my all time favorites:


Whether it takes place over the course of a lifetime or just a short period of time, these father figures certainly left a big mark in the kids’ lives… and some change their lives forever. Here they are, in random order because you can’t really rank these things:

Alan Grant – Jurassic Park

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What makes the first (and still the best) Jurassic Park so great isn’t just the special effects. It’s the wonderful characters, such as paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (the always wonderful Sam Neill) who just isn’t a kids person. I can totally relate as I’m not huge with kids either. Heck, Dr. Grant would rather spend time with a Triceratops’ manure all day than even 10 minutes with these kids. Yet the kids just flock to him and he ended up bonding with them through the scary ordeal being chased all over the park by angry dinos. I LOVE the scene at the end when the kids fall asleep on his shoulder. His expression, and that of his wife Ellie, is priceless!

Alfredo – Cinema Paradiso

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Alfredo and Toto… one of my all time favorite cinematic duo from Giuseppe Tornatore’s Italian drama. From the time he was six years old, projectionist Alfredo’s taken Toto under his wings and became the father he never had. All the way through Toto’s teenage years, Alfredo’s always been his wise confidant. In fact, if it weren’t for Alfredo, Toto might not have been the successful filmmaker he later became. This movie boasts one of the most moving finale ever, it’ll make you cry as well as puts a smile on your face as you recall the significance of that scene. Alec Guinness obviously made the character iconic.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Star Wars

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Well this one is a no brainer. Clearly we know Luke’s real dad has um, issues. Obi-Wan has always looked after the ‘chosen one’ since even before he was born. On top of introducing the ways of the Jedi, Obi-Wan is much more than a wise mentor. Heck, even when he can’t be physically present, Obi-Wan still nurtures and encourages Luke throughout his life. Just like a real dad would do out of love for his child, Obi-Wan shelters Luke from certain truth which in turn proves to be hurtful to him. But you can’t doubt how much Obi-Wan does love Luke as if he were his own.

Joe – Great Expectations (1998)

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This one isn’t the most obvious pick and this Alfonso Cuarón’s adaptation of Dickens’ classic is problematic. But Joe the fisherman is one that leaves a big impression on me. He’s Finn’s sister’s boyfriend who ends up taking care of the young boy when she runs off. I love Chris Cooper and he’s got such effortless warmth and kindness in this role. The scene when he’s reunited with Finn (Ethan Hawke) at an art gallery is quite heartbreaking.

Will Freeman – About A Boy (2002)

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Having just seen it recently, in fact the same weekend as Great Expectations, it’s still fresh in my mind. The ultimate coming-of-age story as it’s the adult who needs to grow up and 12-year-old Marcus is the one who helped 38-year-old Will do just that. I guess Will is more of a friend than a dad to Marcus, but still I think over time he’s become a positive father figure that’s been absent from the boy’s life.

Stacker Pentecost – Pacific Rim (2013)

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From the first time I saw this, I’ve always loved the Stacker Pentecost-Mako story. When the little Mako looked up at Stacker as he arises from the Jaeger, she was in awe of her savior. It’s an unconventional father/daughter relationship, and Stacker becomes a strict and protective father. As most real fathers with their daughters, they’re afraid she’d get hurt, and that’s why he forbids her from piloting a Jaeger. But that moment when he gave her the red shoe, I always get emotional. Yes it’s a movie about big robots, but one can’t overlook the small touches of humanity in this big-hearted action flick.

Sirius Black – Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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There are plenty of father figures in the Harry Potter films. I was debating whether I should include Dumbledore on here, but the more I think about it, I think I love Sirius Black (played by the venerable Gary Oldman) more despite not being in as many scenes as Dumbledore. This site lists all five father figures in HP movies, and makes an excellent argument as to why Sirius comes at #1. I agree that Sirius loved Harry so much he’s risked his life many times before he finally sacrificed himself for his godson, and he’s certainly instilled words of wisdom that we all take learn from, “…the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

Walt Kowalski – Gran Torino (2008)

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I saw this film quite a while ago and one of the main draw for me besides Clint Eastwood is that it had some Hmong actors from St. Paul Minnesota! This is a father/son pairing that’s as unlikely as they get, given that Clint’s Walt Kowalski is a bitter Korean War veteran and the two met when the Hmong teen Thao tried to steal Kowalski’s prized possession, a 1972 Gran Torino. But Walt ends up becoming Thao’s friend and mentor, and Thao in turn helps Walt overcome his own anger and prejudices. The interactions between the two are quite amusing given their background, cultural and age differences. Some critics have issues w/ the ‘white savior’ theme of the film, but I’d say Thao (and his family) have *saved* Walt and help him find redemption.

Uncle Ben – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002)

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The man whose iconic words of wisdom “Remember, with great power. comes great responsibility.” is a father we all wish we had. I especially love Cliff Robertson’s Uncle Ben in the Raimi’s versions and his demise is surely one of the most emotional moments of all Marvel movies. The character of Peter Parker is pretty much shaped by the upbringing of his uncle and aunt May. It ranks up there with DC’s ultimate father figures Jonathan Kent and Alfred Pennyworth, even if that’s not reflected in the character’s screen time.

Athos – The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

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Ok, this movie is one of my guilty pleasures and it’s immensely watchable thanks to three of supporting actors: Gabriel Byrne‘s D’Artagnan, Jeremy Irons‘ Aramis, and John Malkovich‘s Athos. I especially love the relationship between Athos and Philippe (the oddly-cast Leo DiCaprio). The scene when Athos is teaching Philippe the way of the king is quite moving, as Athos is still haunted by the memory of his lost son. It’s perhaps one of the most gentle role I’ve seen Malkovich does and it makes it all the more memorable.


What do you think of this list? Who’s YOUR favorite cinematic father figures?

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Weekend Roundup: Fast Five & Ronin reviews

How’s your weekend everyone? Weather-wise we’ve got a touch of Autumn this weekend with temps in 60s and 70s. It’s just PERFECT in my opinion, I LOVE the cooler Autumn weather. I don’t even mind if temps just stay this way all year long 😀

Well some of you know I saw The Family last week, which was dismal through and through. Of course it had no chance to beat Insidious 2 as most people probably flock to a horror movie given that it was Friday the 13th weekend. So is Patrick Wilson the King of Horror now, what with The Conjuring and now the Insidious franchise? Interesting that I first saw him as the oh-so-lame Raoul who stole Christine from the oh-so-sexy Phantom (Gerry Butler, natch!) in Phantom of the Opera 😉

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Anyhoo, it’s quite a prolific home-theater time as I ended up watching three movies, including a rewatch of one of my all time guilty pleasure The Man in the Iron Mask, which I featured a couple of years ago. I primarily love this movie for the the four actors playing d’Artagnan and the three Musketeers: Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu. Byrne stole my heart as the courageous but conflicted d’Artagnan and he remains my favorite character. I also enjoyed the music by Nick Glennie-Smith, I still hum it from time to time.

Speaking of old favorites, I also watched my favorite John Woo movie and surely one of my favorite 90s action flicks Face/Off. Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are both electrifying as each play the hero and villain of the film. Preposterous, yes, absurd beyond comprehension, but heck if it isn’t fun! Both actors clearly are having a blast playing Castor Troy and Sean Archer, and Woo also shot this beautifully, complete with his trademark slo-mo and of course, flying doves! Oh, I even love the music by John Powell, so all in all, a 90s classic!

Here are my mini reviews of the other two:

Fast Five

FastFivePosterWe’re in the mood for some action flick so my hubby and I picked Fast 5. We actually like Fast 6, which was the first of the franchise we actually saw. Ok so the plot is really not that different from the last movie, but really, I don’t think that matters here. Basically it’s an over-the-top heist movie against a Brazilian drug lord, whilst the team is also on the run from the Feds. I was expecting high-octane and ridiculous action sequences and that’s pretty much what I got… and then some!

Now, what I enjoyed most about these two movies so far are  1) the fun car chases that really got your movie adrenaline going, and 2) the unexpected familial bond between the main characters, Dom & Mia Toretto (Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster) and the former-cop-turned-conman Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker). The song ‘We Are Family’ could’ve been playing in one of these movies (maybe it did?) as Dom treats the team like family, which I thought was pretty cool. Diesel is actually capable of being sympathetic and he actually has a lot of heart beneath that massive pecks and stony exterior. Just don’t expect any top notch acting in movies like this as you won’t find it anywhere. I love what The Guardian said about Walker, “…an actor with the emotional range of a blown carburetor” Ahah, I couldn’t say it better myself!

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Dwayne Johnson plays federal agent Hobbs who’s hot on the trail of Dom & co. It’s always fun to watch him and he’s certainly in good company with Diesel in terms of acting range, ahah. He’s got charisma to make up for it though 😉

I had a great time with this one, especially the third act involving a scene of two cars dragging a massive vault through the streets of Rio, wrecking everything – cars, patio restaurants, even a bank! – in its path. That’s even more absurdly entertaining than the scene early in the movie where the car Dom & Brian’s riding went off the cliff! Justin Lin sure knows how to stage action sequences and I think that’s the recipe of success for this franchise. Now, since I haven’t seen the franchise from the beginning before Lin took over, but seems that the franchise actually got better and more profitable. Fast 6 actually made over $200 mil, while this one made about $150 mil.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


RONIN

RoninPosterSo I ended up watching two Robert De Niro movies set in France but boy, the caliber couldn’t be more different. His role here almost made me forget the one in The Family, well almost.

Ronin is the Japanese word used for Samurai without a master. In this movie, a team of outcast specialists make up for the Ronins, hired to retrieve a mysterious suitcase wanted by the Irish and the Russians. It’s more of a cerebral thriller that’s not all about action, action, action. In fact, the long opening scene where almost nothing happens in a sleepy town in France is full of suspense! John Frankenheimer did a good job creating tension without always resorting to high-octane action. But of course, when the action scenes happen, especially the pulse-pounding car chases, it was incredible to watch!

So it’s also a weekend chock-full of car chases, but those in Ronin feels different than in the Fast & Furious movies, though they’re just as preposterous and of course, fun! I especially love it when the cars weave in and out of such narrow European streets and corners, it’s just a lot more breathtaking to watch! Per IMDb, more than 300 stunt drivers were employed to give the real-time chases scene an air of metal-crunching realism. Well it certainly worked beautifully. De Niro’s face looks like he’s constipated the whole time he’s driving, but that’s probably more realistic than the unruffled look of Natascha McElhone. It’s perhaps one of the best and most memorable car chase scenes ever filmed to date!

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The third act feels a bit like a buddy action flick as De Niro and Jean Reno worked together quite a bit. It’s fun watching both of them as they had a good chemistry. The supporting cast are excellent too, Stellan Skarsgård and Natascha McElhone are quite memorable here. Oh and for 007 fans out there, you might recognize that three of the actors here have played Bond villains: Sean Bean in GoldenEye, Michael Lonsdale in Moonraker and Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies. Pryce is a lame villain here, but slightly better than his take of a Bond villain that’s neither intimidating nor charming. I like the look of the film with its muted colors and the setting itself certainly adds to the edgy mood of the film.


4 out of 5 reels

Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. What did YOU watch this weekend?

Friday Guilty Pleasure Flix: The Man in the Iron Mask

Happy Friday, everybody! It’s a short week since I got Monday off but boy has it been a hectic one.

Back in November, I revealed one of many guilty pleasure flix, and since Shutter Island opens today in theaters after being delayed for four months, I thought it’d be fun to feature one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s work. In anticipation of the Scorsese’s film, my blogger friend M. Carter has started a countdown ten days ago, Rotten Tomatoes featured DiCaprios’s top ten best movies and another blogger wrote a fan-appreciation post for the 35 year-old actor. Now, The Man in the Iron Mask is unlikely to end up in such best list, or even merit an honorable mention. But isn’t that the point of a guilty pleasure? You love it anyway even if it’s ‘rotten’ 🙂

Anyway, if you haven’t seen this one, the story is basically a follow-up to the legendary tale of The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas where Leo plays a dual role of the cruel King Louis XIV as well as the imprisoned secret twin brother Phillipe. Curiously, this is his follow-up movie right after Titanic, when he was pretty much the Rob Pattinson of his day. What’s impressive about this movie is the cast. I mean, it’s mind-boggling how many Oscar and Golden Globe winners/nominees are in this flick: Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu make up the musketeers: Aramis, Athos, Porthos; Gabriel Byrne as the courageous d’Artagnan; Hugh Laurie as the King’s advisor and Peter Sarsgaard as Raoul, Athos’ only son.

I gotta admit I saw this movie because of Leo Jack Dawson (like most girls I too fell under his spell, just briefly though, I find him too boyish looking now). But in this flick, I totally fell for Gabriel Byrne as the dashing and regal d’Artagnan. Though billed as a DiCaprio movie due to his massive popularity, Byrne’s the heart & soul of the movie, his performance as the conflicted man carrying a pivotal secret is absolutely terrific, he brings a surprising depth to this archetypal character. The rest of the cast was great too, John Malkovich is a bit over-the-top at times but hey, it’s John Malkovich, what do you expect? Jeremy Irons play his Jesuit priest with wit and whimsy and Depardieu is the fun comic relief. Leo himself is pretty convincing playing the tricky dual roles, especially as Louie where he often has to act with his eyes alone. It’s not Oscar worthy by any means, but enough to prove he is one pretty boy with acting chops to boot. It also proves DiCaprio can’t do accent, a French king with barely a hint of a French burr, and he sounds exactly the same as both characters.

The script is cliche-laden and the story is all too familiar, but there are some amusing dialogue here and there, especially between the three musketeers who have good chemistry with each other. The movie’s also gorgeous to look at (except perhaps Leo’s ghastly haircut), lush setting + beautiful costumes, especially at the grand masquerade.

I find this movie highly entertaining and the soundtrack is pretty great, too. Hmmm, I wouldn’t mind re-watching this one again soon!



Have you seen this one folks? Well, what did you think?