Weekend Roundup: Ex Machina, more Daredevil, BORGIA (2011) & a new obsession

I thought I’d take a bit of a break from MSPIFF to give you a bit of a rundown of how last week’s been going so far, which is perhaps one of my favorite weeks so far in terms of movie-viewing.

In case you’re wondering what those three movies are… well, I’ve reviewed two of them: Clouds of Sils Maria, Girlhood and the third one is Ex Machina, which turned out to be even better than I expected.

3Fave_2015Movies

It’s also cool to have Ex Machina‘s director Alex Garland actually answered my question hours before I saw the screening, thanks to IMDb’s Twitter Q@A using the hashtag #ExMachinaChat.

This is Garland’s directorial debut and it’s certainly one of the best sci-fis dealing with the ‘what does it mean to be human’ theme. Visually it looks cool and the story is genuinely thought-provoking. I’ll review that when MSPIFF is over, but if you haven’t seen it yet, l can’t recommend it enough!


I also saw more episodes of Netflix’s Daredevil, we only have two more episodes to go and the waiting for second season will be agonizing! Man, episode 10 and 11 were especially phenomenal. I love the Nelson vs Murdock one as it showed the back story of how they’ve become friends since becoming room mates in law school. It’s an emotionally-gratifying and revelatory episode whilst the action scene continues to be as phenomenal as ever.

Daredevil_ep10_11The spirituality aspect of Matt Murdock’s story is intriguing as it’s perhaps the first superhero who’s faith is integral in his role and the show doesn’t shy away from it. I find the dialog between Matt and his priest/personal confidant and their discussion about whether the devil truly walks amongst earth fascinating and insightful in terms of the protagonist’s motivations. Nice to see Claire (Rosario Dawson) making an appearance again in episode 11: The Path of the Righteous. I’ve always found Charlie Cox to be a gorgeous Brit but he looks REALLY good on this show, and he’s clearly worked out a lot for this role, ehm. I LOVE Claire’s comment about seeing Matt shirtless again. Amen to that, sista 😉


Speaking of REALLY gorgeous man… I have a new obsession… some of you on Twitter might’ve noticed it 😉 It happened almost instantly when I saw Not Another Happy Ending precisely two weeks ago and ever since then I have watched that Scottish rom-com over a dozen times, I think that’s a record!

NotAnotherHappyEnding_CafeNotAnotherHappyEnding_finaleI will have to do a Stanley Weber appreciation post at some point, he’s the first French actor I’ve ever had a massive crush on … as you know I almost always go for the Brits. But the second I beheld his c’est magnifique physique (and THAT irresistible wavy hair!) and heard him speak, I was a goner [le sigh] My penchant for the criminally-underrated AND the unjustifiably-obscure actors continues… why hasn’t Hollywood discover him yet? Come on!!!

Ehm, now that I got that out of the way …. inspired by Margaret’s awesome list post of cinematic/TV gems she saw because of her actor’s crushes, I just might have to do one of my own. One of those gems is definitely this Canal+ production of BORGIA, not to be confused with Showtime’s The Borgias that’s also about the notorious Italian family in the 15th and 16th century. This is the one created by Tom Fontana (Homicide, HBO’s Oz) with John Doman as Rodrigo Borgia.

BORGIA_Canal+BORGIA_JuanBorgiaStanley plays one of Rodrigo’s son, Juan. I’ve only seen four episodes so far and oh boy, Juan Borgia is one naughty, naughty boy. Basically his character is a psychopath and a sexual predator, which is completely different role from what I’ve seen him in Not Another Happy Ending. The entire BORGIA clan is morally bankrupt all around, and the actors portray them VERY well. The most infamous chapter of the history of the Catholic church certainly made for some fascinating historical drama.


What I’m looking forward to this week:

WaterDivinerScreeningBeen waiting to see Russell Crowe’s directorial debut for ages.
I first posted the trailer here over a year ago!


So that’s what I’ve been watching & obsessing about. What about you?

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Five for the Fifth: February 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s one and only 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. Whether you like it or not folks, movie franchise is a trend that’s here to stay in Hollywood, especially when it comes to the young adult demographic. As soon as a YA novel hits it big, you can bet a movie, no franchise is in the works.

So, let’s start this month’s edition with a trailer of another young adult franchise hopeful. In case you’ve never heard of this before, DIVERGENT is the first of a trilogy of books by a New York author Veronica Roth. Here’s the premise:

Beatrice Prior, a teenager with a special mind, finds her life threatened when an authoritarian leader seeks to exterminate her kind in her effort to seize control of their divided society.

Check out the new trailer just released yesterday:


Now, I barely remember what being a young adult feels like, it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this genre, i.e. The Hunger Games. I must say I’m more intrigued the more I hear about this dystopian actioner, looks like it has potential and I think that has a lot to do with the actress playing the young protagonist.

DivergentStills

I’ve only seen Shailene Woodley as George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendants, in which she impressed me. I’ve also been reading rave reviews of her performance in The Spectacular Now, and she also has another indie drama in the works called The Fault of Our Stars. The 22-year-old seems to be *groomed* to be one of Hollywood’s next leading lady, and I think she has the chops. But what this film will attest is whether she can be a box-office draw. Kate Winslet lends some sophisticated menace as the film’s antagonist, whilst Theo James (another Brit who’s easy on the eyes) plays Woodley’s mentor/love interest.

Thoughts on DIVERGENT and/or Shailene Woodley as a leading actress?

……
2.  Switching gears to one of cinema’s biggest leading man Russell Crowe who’s trying his hand at directing his first feature.

CroweDirectorialDebut

Per Variety, we’ve got the first look of The Water Diviner, which is filming in Australia and later in Turkey. Here’s the premise:

The film is set four years after the devastating battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Australian farmer Connor (Crowe) travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his sons, reported missing in action, where he forges a relationship with the beautiful Turkish woman (Olga Kurylenko) who owns the hotel in which he stays. Holding on to hope, and with the help of a Turkish officer, Connor embarks on a journey across the country to find the truth about the fate of his sons.

Some of the supporting casts include Turkish actors and some relatively well-known Aussie actors like Jai Courtney (A Good Day To Die Hard) and Isabel Lucas (Immortals), hmmm not exactly screaming quality ensemble at this point, plus the executive producer is… Brett Ratner?? But y’know, I’d be willing to give Crowe the benefit of the doubt. If his directing skills is even half as good as his acting, it’d still be a decent film, ahah.

So what do you think of Crowe’s debut?

3. A pair of actor and director named Michael is having a birthday today.

Director Michael Mann turns 70 & British actor Michael Sheen turns 44.

Michael_Mann_Sheen

Some of you might know Michael Mann is one of my favorite living directors. He may not be the most prolific, having only done less than a dozen feature films, but he’s certainly one of the best. Heat, The Insider, The Last of the Mohicans and Collateral are some of my absolute favorite films. I’m looking forward to his mystery thriller Cyber starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis about what else, computer hacking. Apparently some of the filming locations include my native hometown Jakarta, according to this Indonesian article. Can’t wait to see that!

As for Michael Sheen, it’s interesting but two of the roles I remember him most are Tony Blair in The Queen and as a vampire breed Lucian in the Underworld franchise with his former wife Kate Beckinsale. He’s also memorable even in supporting roles like in TRON Legacy and Midnight in Paris. I still need to see Frost/Nixon, but I’ve heard he’s excellent in that one. I’m looking forward to seeing him in Far from the Madding Crowd, a drama directed by The Hunt‘s director Thomas Vinterberg.

What’s your favorite film[s] from each birthday fellow?

NicCage_pondering4. Good ol’ Nic Cage is always making the rounds in casting news. Hopefully his mountains of debts is getting shorter that he can finally make some decent films again. He’s reportedly in talks to do a heist thriller called Men with No Fear [per Deadline] Well it sounds right up his alley as Nic seems like the kind of *fearless* actor in that he doesn’t seem to care what people think, ahah. Here’s what it’s about:

The movie centers on Marty ‘The Mule,’ newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss Frank, a small-time neighborhood crook. While Mule was locked up, Frank went big time and became a ruthless drug kingpin. But Frank also took Mule’s most precious item — his son, raising him like his own. But now Mule is back on the streets and ready for revenge.

Bryan Singer is apparently producing this through his production company Bad Hat Harry. It doesn’t strike me as a challenging or career-making kind of role for Nic, but at this point, we can only hope anything is better than Stolen [facepalm]

What do you think of this casting news… or better yet, what role would YOU suggest Nic Cage to take on?


5. Now lastly, since Oscar is less than a month away… Morgan compiled a whole bunch of interesting Oscarama stats about what kinds of films get nominated by the Academy.

  • OSCARBestPictureEnvelopeComedy only makes 7% of the nominees
  • Romantic dramas really do seem to be popular with the Academy
  • Only eight foreign films have been nominated for Best Picture [Wish this year’s one of them as The Hunt deserves to be in the main Best Picture category]
  • Once in a while, sequels do make it to the Oscars. These are the eight movie sequels that were nominated for Best Picture:
    Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
    The Bells of St. Mary’s
    The Godfather Part II
    The Godfather Part III
    The Silence of the Lambs
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Toy Story 3
  • This is quite startling to me… 60 (or 11 %) of Best Picture nominees have been remakes.

Morgan came to an astute conclusion… The Academy doesn’t just like to keep nominating the same type of film, it likes to keep nominating versions of the same film.

Now, my last question to you are two-fold: Do you think Oscar should nominate more comedic films? If so, which ones do you think deserve to be nominated for Best Picture?


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

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