FlixChatter Review: Song of the Sea (2014)

SongOftheSea

Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

I’ve been wanting to see this since I saw the trailer exactly a year ago. I was so impressed by the visuals of The Secret of Kells (2009), I adore the hand-drawn animation style where virtually EVERY single scene is worth framing. Five years later, filmmaker Tomm Moore is back with another mythical tale, this time it’s based on an ancient Celtic myth of the selkie, creatures that live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land (per Wiki).

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Brendan Gleeson is also back as one of the voice cast, but it’s David Rawle as the young boy Ben who’s the lead of the film, along with his younger sister Saoirse who’s mostly silent throughout the film. The story begins with a young boy losing his mother and later on, which prompts his dad Conor (Gleeson) to place Ben and Saoirse with their grandmother in the city. But from there, he ends up embarking on an adventure of his life.

I have to admit the story isn’t too easy to follow at times, but the visuals are so breathtakingly-beautiful I don’t mind so much. I’m not saying this film is more style than substance, as there’s a deep and magical quality of the mythical tale that once you grasp what’s going on, it’s really quite an emotional ride. I admire the tremendous craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating each animated piece. The vibrant colors and ethereal quality, paired with the lush Celtic music, it’s like a beautiful lullaby of a movie that transports you into an otherworldly realm.

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Like in The Secret of Kells where you could practically smell the trees and the ground the characters walk on, there’s something so evocative about the ocean landscape in this movie. I could practically feel the sea breeze, the chilly wave and wind of the Irish coast. The visuals is truly a feast for the eyes that the slower pace actually gives you room to appreciate the artwork before you.

This is an absolute must-see for any fan of animated features, or anyone looking for something unique and magical. There’s a heartwarming familial theme makes this a perfect film to watch with the whole family, even though there are perhaps some scenes that might spook really young children.

This movie was among the nominees for Best Animated Features at last year’s Oscar which went to Big Hero 6. Now if I had seen this last year, I would’ve been torn to pick between the two. Both are worthy contenders to be sure, though in terms of visuals, I think this one is more unique. Props to Tomm Moore for creating yet another animated masterpiece. This is only his second directorial project, so I can’t wait to see what else he’ll tackle next!

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What do you think of Song of The Sea?

Five for the Fifth: JUNE 2014 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Happy June everybody! So Summer Movie Season is officially underway now, starting with one of the biggest blockbusters of the year X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s one of my most anticipated films of 2014 and I’m glad to say I LOVED it! I reviewed it just before I left for holiday, you can read it here in case you missed it.

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Just looking at June, here are some of the films that are coming out this month:

  • The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
  • The Rover (June 13)
  • Jersey Boys (June 20)
  • Snowpiercer (June 27)
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

Now, Keith has given you his take on what to flaunt or flush from the Summer movies. As for me, another highly-anticipated movie out this month would be Snowpiercer! Seriously I’ve blogged about that one since August 2013 and it seems like we in the US are the last to catch this apocalypse thriller after the whole editing debacle (heh, thanks Harvey Weinstein!). I can’t freakin’ wait to finally see it and hopefully the Bong Joon-ho’s original version. They just released a new trailer, see below:

So which June movie(s) are you most anticipating?
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2. Yesterday (June 4) is Angelina Jolie‘s birthday, she’s born the same year as moi. The year has been kind to miss Jolie, she seems to get even better with age, looking even more stunning now than ever.

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I first saw her in Gia (1998), as the tragic 70s supermodel Gia Carangi who died of AIDS at the age of 26. It was such a raw performance from Jolie, and she seemed to have embodied the role so well for a while I feared she might’ve ended up as messed up as the character she portrayed. Thankfully that’s not the case and she seemed to have blossomed since then to become not only a good actress but a philanthropist and humanitarian. Jolie is quite a force to be reckoned with in the industry, I admire her even if I don’t always like her movies. I haven’t seen her directorial efforts yet, but of the movies she’s starred in, I think my favorite would be Beyond Borders, heck I even like her as bad ass Lara Croft & an assassin in Wanted. The absolute worst would be The Tourist as she treated the movie like a fashion photoshoot!

What’s your favorite Angelina Jolie’s film (whether it’s the one she directed or star in)?

……
3. I just stumbled upon this new poster and trailer for Song of the Sea and I knew I had to share. It’s from the same filmmakers as The Secret of Kells which I adore. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2010, along with Up (which took home the award), Fantastic Mr Fox, Coraline and The Princess and the Frog.

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Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

Directed by Tomm Moore, the voice cast includes Brendan Gleeson (who was also in The Secret of Kells), Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Pat Shortt.

The trailer is just so gorgeous, the visuals and animation is so unique and fresh, unlike anything done by Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks. I think it’s more akin to Studio Ghibli’s style.  I like the fantastical and ethereal quality of the story, check out the trailer below:

My question is two fold: Have you seen The Secret of Kells? What do you think about this new movie?


4. Quite a few casting news I read the past couple of days, but I’m focusing the ones with actors re-teaming for a new project. At the top of the list is two Brits I love who’s got legions of fans: Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston. Based on this Radiotimes article, the two talented Brits are rumored to star in Journey’s End, based on R.C Sherriff’s 1928 play about a group of officers in the last year of WWI. Cumberbatch is rumored for the role of Captain Stanhope whilst Hiddles could be playing Lieutenant Osborne. I’d love it if the two are collaborating again, as their screen time together is way too short in Spielberg’s War Horse. If this happens, I sure hope there’d be lots of dialog as I can listen to these two for hours!

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Another duo who might be working together again are Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in a 19th century period thriller The Revenant (per FirstShowing) and Mark Wahlberg with Will Ferrell in what looks to be an R-rated comedy, Daddy’s Home (per Deadline). I love Hardy so any casting news with him sounds good to me, he’d probably steal scenes again from Leo like he did in Inception, ahah. As for Wahlberg/Ferrell, well I loved them both in The Other Guys so yeah, that project sounds like it could be fun.

Which two actors do you wish would collaborate again, either for TV or movies?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet.

TCM last night broadcasted something different than their usual fare. Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic of sci-fi/horror, Alien.

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Michael has seen it a half a dozen times but this is one of those movies that seem to retain its impact even with multiple viewings. I saw it on video years ago, but I still remember it being so terrifying. And who could forget THAT stomach-bursting scene with John Hurt?

With that in mind, what was last film, near or far, at home or at the cinema, that caused you to literally toss your popcorn?


Well, that’s it for the JUNE 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Friday Special: Five Movies. In Five Words.

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HAPPY FRIDAY all! For this Friday, I’m inspired by my friend Josh’s newest idea of doing a minimalist but thought-provoking post…

Five Movies. In Five Words.

I’ve sort of have a thing with the number five so hey, why not try this out. I know Fassy, er Magneto would agree 😀

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

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The Secret of Kells

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The Heiress

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Crestfallen

Legally Blonde

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Vivacious

Le Samouraï

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Well, I try to mix up the genres and capture the essence of the film, or at least one of the main themes, in one word. Thanks again Josh for coming up with the idea! 😀


Well, any thoughts on these films and/or the five words?

Weekend Roundup: The Secret of Kells and Gladiator re-watch

The calendar says it’s April. Spring? What Spring??

Hope it’s much sunnier where you are as it’s quite wet and gloomy here. In fact, looking at the 10-days forecast is quite depressing, full of rain/snow mix with temps barely making it out of 50 degrees! 😦

In any case, I didn’t make it to the theaters this weekend. As you know, I’d never go see Evil Dead 2 even if someone paid me! So here are what I saw this weekend:

The Secret of Kells (2009)

SecretOfKellsFor some reason this Irish-French-Belgian animated feature eluded me, even though it was one of the Best Animated Feature nominees in 2010. It definitely deserves such kudos!

Set in the eighth century, this film is a fictionalized account of the creation of the Book of Kells, the illustrated manuscript of the four Gospels. The story follows 12-year-old Brendan (voice of Evan McGuire) as he battles Vikings and confronts an ancient serpent god on a mission to locate a legendary crystal and complete the mythical Book of Kells.

A rare spiritually-tinged animated feature that’s rich in Celtic mythology and folklore. It’s so beautifully-crafted and instantly involving that within seconds I was whisked away into Brendan’s world. I love the flat look of the hand-drawn animation, somehow it adds to its ethereal quality. After having seen the more slick animated features with all the bells and whistles, it’s actually refreshing to see the simplicity of this feature, it’s just mesmerizing and beautiful to behold. Some of the drawings are as intricate as churches’ stained glass windows, which is appropriate given the subject matter.

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Brendan lives a sheltered life, forbidden by his uncle, Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) to go outside the gateway. But when he secretly sneaks into the forest to look for gall nuts to make ink, that’s when his adventure begins. There he meets Aisling (pronounced like Ashley), a fairy of sort who’s able to take many forms. She’s ever so cute and bewitching, and their friendship is sweet and lovely. The story at times descend into surreal, even abstract form, and though I don’t always understand the details of what’s happening, I still enjoyed the ride. The Celtic music has a transcendental quality about it, especially the Aisling song “You must go where I cannot…” composed by Bruno Coulais.

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There are some tense and perhaps even terrifying moments that might scare off the very young ones though, the black and red color schemes during the attack scenes conveys the darkness of the moment. I love that this film is not just beautiful to look at but it also speaks about an inspiring message of devotion, bravery, sacrifice and forgiveness. If you’re in the mood for a charming animated feature hat carries a deeper meaning than what’s typically offered in this genre, definitely give this one a shot. It’s available on Netflix Streaming too!


4.5 out of 5 reels


Since Sunday was Russell Crowe’s birthday, I thought it was time for another Gladiator re-watch.

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I’m still as enamored by this film as I did the first time I saw it over a decade ago. I’ve written all kinds of posts on this, including this essay on how this film launched thousands of imitation (part of the Movies that made going to the movies suck blog-a-thon). But even with countless Gladiator wanna-be out there, there is still nothing quite like the story of the wronged Roman General Maximus.

There are sooo many memorable scenes in this film, and certainly the one where Maximus revealed his identity to Commodus rates high up there. It stands as one of those scenes I could watch over and over again. But upon my nth re-watch, this scene after Maximus survived a particularly gruesome game with the tigers that’s been *arranged* specifically by Commodus is down-right heart-wrenching.

Time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end… your Highness.

Crowe’s expression as he uttered the line, his voice almost crumbling as he used every bit of willpower from ripping Commodus apart… it moved me to tears every time.


Well, what did you see this weekend? Anything good?