New Trailer + Poster Spotlight: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch

Something super fun just arrived in my inbox today! I was in the middle of a rather long, tedious training for my new job, but upon opening this email, a huge smile formed on my face!

Ooooh!! I absolutely adore this poster, I wish I could have it to hang on my wall right now! Wes Anderson‘s upcoming movie has The Adventures of Tintin vibe to it, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé that I grew up reading religiously as a kid.

Here’s the premise…

THE FRENCH DISPATCH brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. It stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.

What a cast!! I know lots of [thirsty] people are going nuts over ‘it boy’ Timothée Chalamet writing naked in a bath tub 🤣 – I didn’t even notice him until an article specifically mentioned about it in the headline! In any case, I wonder if he’ll actually be speaking French in the movie? The internet would probably spontaneously combust!

Upon further reading, the Tintin vibe seems intentional given Tintin is a globe-trotting reporter. Per Wiki, the film has been described as “a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city”, centering on three storylines.

When speaking to French publication Charente Libre last year, Anderson noted: “The story is not easy to explain, [It’s about an] American journalist based in France [who] creates his magazine. It is more a portrait of this man, of this journalist who fights to write what he wants to write. It’s not a movie about freedom of the press, but when you talk about reporters you also talk about what’s going on in the real world.”

Per tradition of Wes Anderson’s movies, it’s another awesome ensemble cast, many of whom have worked with the Texas-born filmmaker. The screenplay was written by Anderson, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman.

Now here’s the trailer! 

It’s classic Wes w/ his usual visual flair, distinct camera work and quirks! I love it!! It looks so much like Grand Budapest Hotel and I saw some of the cast are back as well. I can’t wait to step into this world of global journalism filled w/ intrigue and idiosyncrasies.

It’s scheduled to be released on July 24.


What do you think of The French Dispatch?

FlixChatter Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

GrandBudapestHotelBnr

I came to appreciate Wes Anderson‘s films through his third feature film The Royal Tennenbaum a few years after its release in 2001. I enjoyed it but I didn’t immediately become a fan right away, his movies are definitely an acquired taste. Since then I have only seen three more from his work, The Darjeeling Limited, The Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. I never really quite anticipate Wes’ movies until this one though right from the first time I heard about the premise. I was hooked not only because of the usual stellar cast, but the story just sounds like a joyful romp.

The film centers on the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. I’ve always loved stories about unlikely friendship, and it couldn’t be more unlikely than Gustave and Zero, played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes and newcomer Guatemalan actor Tony Revolori. When you see a Wes Anderson’s movie, you’re invited to an eccentric world where everything is symmetrical and painted in a retro-looking, highly-saturated color palette. It’s within this meticulously-stylized macrocosm that he set kooky scenarios of his equally quirky characters. The film was set in an old hotel in Görlitz [on the Germany-Poland border] and there’s a whimsical cartoon quality about it despite being a live-action film. Apparently Wes did complete the animated version before he started filming this, according to this article.

GrandBudapestHotelCast

It’s a story within a story, starting with an author (Tom Wilkinson) recounting his memoir based on his encounter at the Grand Budapest Hotel, located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka in Central Europe. We then see the author as a young writer (Jude Law) staying at the hotel and ended up having dinner with the mysterious hotel’s owner Zero Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham). The movie takes place primarily in flashback mode in the early 30s, as Zero recounts the adventure he had thirty years earlier with the renowned Monsieur Gustave (Fiennes). Gustave ran the hotel almost with an iron-like precision, who’s apparently known for wooing the older ladies who frequent the hotel. It turns out most of them came to see him, including the 80-something Madame D. (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton). It’s when she passed away that the real adventure begins, involving Madame D’s huge family fortune and a priceless Renaissance painting.

It’s fun to see what Wes has in store with each of the cast member, including his BFF Bill Murray who yet again has a cameo in their seventh collaboration. I have to admit that whenever each of these well-known actors show in various scenes, it did take me out of the story a bit, but soon I was caught up in the story again. There’s an underlying dark story about war and the dramatic continental change, after all, the memoir Wes was inspired by (The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig), describes Austria at the start of the 20th century as it’s anticipating Nazi persecution. But a lot of the violence as well as sexuality are played for laughs here and they’re shown only briefly on screen. It still made me wince though seeing even a glimpse of an old woman performing fellatio on Gustave, one character losing all his fingers in a rather gruesome way, as well as a display of a severed head.

GrandBudapestHotel_Stills1

The hotel is practically a character in itself, where most of the adventure takes place. The retro-looking saturated color palette feels a bit brighter with the addition of the pink color of the hotel exterior and the box of the old-world pastry of Mendl’s bakery, which plays a pretty big part in the story. I appreciate the visual treat of Wes’ idiosyncratic camera work and the precise symmetry of each shot makes for an amusing contrast to the haphazard and chaotic scenes. There’s a journey theme here that we often seen in Wes’ films (again involving trains). Either the characters are running away from or towards something, sometimes both. This is also perhaps one of the most action-packed of all his movies — part road movie, part heist, complete with a snowy ski/sled chase scene as farcical as in the Roger Moore’s Bond flick For Your Eyes Only. Some of the action scenes, like the shootout at the hotel, felt over the top to me though.

Ultimately, the heart of the film belongs Zero Moustafa, whose loyalty, bravery and selfless-ness saves Gustave time and time again. There’s a sweet romance between him and Agatha (the always excellent Saoirse Ronan), whom the older Zero speaks of as being the love of his life. There’s a scene where Agatha is reciting poetry about her romance with Zero is a welcomed tender moment amongst all the droll and wacky scenarios. Similar to the two newbie actors playing young couple in Moonrise Kingdom, Revolori is quite memorable here even with his zany, deadpan expression. Abraham as the older Zero adds gravitas and emotional resonance to his character even in his brief scenes. I rarely see Fiennes in a comedic roles but that actually adds to the peculiarity of his character. I read that Wes wrote this role for him, which I think is an inspired choice. The rest of the supporting cast did a nice job, with Jeff Goldblum, Ronan and Adrien Brody being my favorite. Ed Norton‘s character seems quite similar to the one he did in Moonrise Kingdom, which reminds me it’s been a while since I saw him in anything but small supporting roles. Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe played the kind of tough guy persona I’ve seen in other films, but it’s still amusing to see them here.

GrandBudapestHotel_Stills2

When I look back at previous work of Wes that I’ve seen, this one perhaps rank pretty close to The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I consider my favorite of his work. I was quite invested in the two lead characters, particularly Zero, more than I’ve ever felt about previous Wes Anderson’s characters. There’s a lot of stuff happening in this movie that it was discombobulating at times, but it was an entertaining ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the pace felt swifter than his other films, so there’s not a boring moment for me here. Mischievously whimsy, but with heart. Like a charming hotel, it’s one I wouldn’t mind revisiting again and again.

4.5 out of 5 reels


What did you think of Grand Budapest Hotel?

Rental Pick: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

DarjeelingLimitedBanner

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other.

To say it’s a quirky movie is an understatement, you’ve come to expect that from Wes Anderson, but I think this one felt extra kooky as it has a bit of a fish-out-of-water tale on top of being a road movie. Peter (Adrien Brody), Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Francis (Owen Wilson) play a trio of brothers on a *spiritual* journey in India a year after their father’s funeral. Despite not looking at all alike, the three actors actually look pretty believable as a family and the peculiar dynamics among them is pretty fun to watch, at least initially. 

The *spiritual* aspect journey is not really there, as it’s used a pretext to the actual reason for the road trip. Francis didn’t tell Peter and Jack about the real reason until later in the film. Apparently a motorcycle accident where he said he nearly died made him want to reconnect with his brothers, and he planned the trip meticulously with the help of his assistant. The title refers to the train that they’re riding on, and it serves as some kind of metaphor. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it could be symbolic to each of the character’s life? Now I really want to LOVE this movie but I feel like I never felt quite invested in the story for whatever reason, and the constant bickering of the tree boys sometimes get tiresome instead of amusing.

DarjeelingLimitedStills

About halfway through, I noticed my hubby nearly falling asleep watching this. Though I was more engaged than him, I could understand why he tuned out. Nothing rarely happened in this movie, it was simply one kooky scenario after another along their journey, i.e. Peter buying a small cobra in a box (and later losing it), Francis having one of his very expensive shoe stolen, a weird ceremonial burying of a peacock feather that I have no clue what it’s about, etc. I think the only truly memorable scene, which is the most emotional one of the entire 1.5 hour running time, is the time the three brothers rescued three Indian young boys who fall into a river. It’s a moment of benevolence for all three of them that seemed quite life-changing.

Some of the metaphors range from obscure to obvious, but since I don’t really connect with the characters, it’s lacking emotional resonance for me. The Louis Vuitton luggage set with their dad’s initial on them represent an emotional baggage of some kind, though I still have no clue just who their father was other than he must’ve been well off. Towards the end, their mother (Anjelica Huston) entered the picture. I wouldn’t spoil it for you but that experience also changed the way they look at their lives and each other. By the end, their relationship had a 180-degree turn from being reluctant siblings who couldn’t stand each other. “I wonder if the three of us would’ve been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people,” Jack asked halfway through, and I think the ending answered that question for us. I do like that the story is primarily focused on these three characters from start to finish. Bill Murray‘s cameo as a businessman felt like it was well, obligatory, as I don’t think there’s really a point to his appearance.

Now, I’m glad I finally saw this as even a so-so Wes Anderson film and despite its flaws, it’s still fairly entertaining. I quite like the music here by The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and the French song in the finale Aux Champs Élysées seems to fit the mood of the scene perfectly. That said, I don’t consider this one my favorite amongst Anderson’s work. In fact, it’s just not something I’m keen on watching again, unlike The Fantastic Mr Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, or his latest one, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Stay tuned for my review of that on Friday!

threereels


What do you think of The Darjeeling Limited?

Five for the Fifth: November 2012 Edition

Hello folks, welcome to another 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

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. So let’s get started, shall we?
…..
1. Well, despite the name, Wreck It Ralph certainly is no box office wreck. In fact, the opposite is true! The movie grossed nearly $50 mil in just three days! Seems like a lot of people affected by Hurricane Sandy were looking for some fun distraction and there were reports that many kids being out of school because of the storm also help with strong matinee business on the East Coast on Friday. Well I haven’t seen it yet but my friend Terrence gave it 4/5 stars and it does sound like a lot of fun!

According to Gold Derby, this movie is one of the 21 films that have officially been submitted for consideration for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think? How does it rank amongst your favorite Disney movies?

…..


2. Y’all already know my undying love for Superman since a wee girl. So when my friend Michael tweeted a post by Flights, Tights and Movie Nights blog on this 11-min short called One on One, I was intrigued! I love it when filmmakers highlight the ‘human’ side of a superhero story, without making it too overly-sentimental. The subtle hints about the reporter’s identity is handled very well in this short, plus it’s so well-shot and well-acted all around.

Do check out Bubbawheat’s interview with Jake Thomas, the creator of the short film, on how he chose to focus more on a random Metropolis teenager and her interaction with Clark Kent, instead of the typical action/special effects/stunts style story.

Check it out below:

I should thank my hubby who saw the tweet when I woke up this morning and we both watched it twice as we’re relaxing in bed enjoying the extra one hour from the end of Daylight Savings’ Time 🙂

Well, what do you think of the short film?

….

3. November 5 is Tilda Swinton’s 52nd Birthday! Wow, I had no idea she was already in her 50s! I first noticed the Scottish actress in the first Chronicles of Narnia movie where she played the White Queen. She appeared in Danny Boyle’s The Beach but I didn’t realize who she was then. I’ve seen her in five other films since the two I mentioned, but I think my favorite role of hers is the one in Michael Clayton. It was a well-deserved Oscar win surely.

Some trivia about miss Swinton:

Her family is one of the oldest in Scotland, but her mother is Australian. Her father is Major-General Sir John Swinton, whose ancestral home has been within the family since the 9th century. She attended West Heath Girls’ School, with Princess Diana as one of her classmates, and later Fettes College. Gave birth to twins, a daughter named Honor Byrne and a son named Xavier Byrne, in November 1997. The father of her children, John Byrne, is a Scottish artist and writer.

I’m very curious about her next film Only Lovers Left Alive, about two vampires who have been in love for centuries, co-starring Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt.

What’s your favorite role of Tilda Swinton?
…..


4. Now, my fourth question is not exactly a new news. Tons of films have had advanced tickets selling weeks in advanced, so the fact that The Hobbit tickets are going to be on sale this Wednesday online and in theaters across North America, a month ahead of its December 14 release doesn’t exactly surprise me.

Just like Nolan’s Batman movies, there’s also a scheduled marathon screenings of Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy in Extended Cut editions on Saturday, December 8th, and Sunday December 9th. Oh geez, I don’t know if I could handle seeing nine-hours worth of stuff on the big screen, though if I have the fortitude I might watch my already-purchased extended edition Blu-rays in the comfort of my own home.

Now, the only advanced screening tickets I bought about a week ahead of the film’s release was The Dark Knight Rises on IMAX.

Out of curiosity, what film(s) have you bought advanced tickets for and were they worth it?
…..


5. One of the things I like about Wes Anderson’s films are the stellar ensemble cast and he seems to be doing the same thing for his upcoming feature The Grand Budapest Hotel. So far the four major stars confirmed are Wes’ regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, and two British thespians Ralph Fiennes and Jude Law (and reportedly Jeff Goldblum is now confirmed to join the cast as well). Fiennes will be playing the lead role as Mr. Gustave, and the film will focus on the troubles and tribulations of the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge. Well, thanks to Julian who tweeted me the news, my favorite Irish young star Saoirse Ronan has now joined the cast as the female lead! Anderson will once again work with Scott Rudin and Steve Rales who produced Moonrise Kingdom.

I know the film hasn’t opened until December 2014 but I definitely will be on the lookout for it. Here are additional info about the movie according to Filmofilia:

The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place 85 years ago in a Hungarian hotel, and is partly inspired by the witty films of Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch.

Oh, I like that premise already! And with this cast, it surely becomes one of my anticipated holiday movies of next year!

Well, my last question to you is: are you anticipating this one, too?


Well, that’s it for the November edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Step Up Revolution, Fantastic Mr Fox, An Affair to Remember

Hello all! Hope your weekend was lovely. Did you venture to the cinema to see some good movies? Well, we opted for home cinema this weekend, catching up on some movies we’ve missed. We were talking about Persepolis at dinner and really wanted to see it Saturday night, but it wasn’t available on iTunes! Good thing the replacement turns out to be well, fantastic. And just before this post goes up, I also watched Sherlock Holmes: Games of Shadow which was quite fun despite the plot being rather all over the place. I’ll do a mini review of that at a later time.

Oh, I also got around to finally get to the first one on the list of classic movies I promised to catch up on this confession post. The first one on that list is An Affair To Remember… oh and what an affair it was. Before I get to my reviews, here’s a guest review from my friend and FC contributor Cecilia, one franchise that’s eluded me and I’m still not sure I want to get into…

Step Up Revolution (2012)

Few weeks ago I saw Street Dance 2 at the cinemas and pretty much disappointed with it as the first movie was pretty good with it’s lovely scenery, British accent, and of course great dance moves and songs, but the sequel turns out to be disappointing. Then it just made me have this thought that Step Up Revolution must be better than Street Dance 2 for sure.

Step Up Revolution is tells the story of Emily (Kathryn McCormick), whose dad is working on some real-estate development plans which going to threaten the place where Sean (Ryan Guzman) and his dance crew usually gather around. Sean and his crew, well known as The Mob, is working on some flash-mob projects in order to win some cash. The same story as we saw on most dance movies all over again, the crew who are struggling before they lose the place where they usually practice. I actually don’t mind with the story. It is poor, both the script and the storyline. But I’ve never been looking for a good story on dance movies, as I actually looking forward to the dancing scenes and great songs.

Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D are memorable for me. Giving my salutation to Jon M. Chu as he made the dancers on his movies memorable with their own different dancing characters. Moose (Adam Sevani) is on the top of my favorite Step Up dancer list. I still can remember precisely his sweet dancing scene with Camille (Alyson Stoner) using Fred Astaire’s song I Won’t Dance on Step Up 3D. Sadly, Jon M. Chu is now being the producer on Step Up Revolution, instead of being in the director’s seat.

What I like about this movie is that it shows the brilliant ideas of flash-mobs. Huge number of people dancing in a public place unexpectedly, creating chaos and coolness that I wish would happen in real life where I live. The film still offers great dance moves and songs, the most memorable song for me is Let’s Go by Travis Barker, as it is goes well with those passionate dancers dancing in Miami’s heat. The Mob is packed with people who has different kinds of expertise, one is good at music, one at art, one at the digital stuffs. But the crew who does the dancing stuffs is not showing their various specific dancing characters. It’s not at all like what I saw on Step Up 2 and Step Up 3D.

Another disappointing part is on the 3D aspect. This movie is actually beautiful while showing the clear weather at Miami, showcasing the colors of Summer. But they don’t seem to maximize the creation of eye-popping 3D. Step Up 3D made good use of balloons, water, laser, and more, but in this one, all I can remember is the eye-popping sand. However, one good thing from this it has an even better sense of fashion. I liked how they dress Penelope (Cleopatra Coleman) up with rocking outfit as a DJ, and how they dress Emily in a silver dress on one of the dancing scenes.

The final dance scene did not wow me as I had expected, however, if you’re looking for entertaining dances and some good songs, Step Up Revolution is worth a watch. It is not as boring as Street Dance 2, but not exactly an improvement as a Step Up sequel. Still, it has its own fun factor though, thanks to the mob.

– review by Cecilia Rusli

2.5 out of 5 reels


Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

When I reviewed Moonrise Kingdom, a bunch of people were recommending more Wes Anderson’s movies, and on the top of that list is this animated feature, voiced by an ensemble cast of Wes’ regulars.

George Clooney is basically reprising his Danny Ocean role in another heist adventure, this time as a sly fox aptly named Mr. Fox. For 12 years, he and Mrs Fox (Meryl Streep) live a peaceful life with their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman). He’s long abandoned his thieving ways and now work as a newspaper columnist. But somehow that long-suppressed animal instincts is back with the arrival of his athletic young nephew Kristofferson. He’s still got what it takes, but what Mr. Fox doesn’t realize is, when he and his partner in crime Kiley decides to raid the three nastiest farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean, that the repercussion extends to the entire animal community.

I immensely enjoyed this one, perhaps slightly more so than Moonrise Kingdom. The stop-motion animation itself is fun to watch, and Wes peppers each character with its own quirks and personality. The script is as sharp as ever and their conversation is quite profound at times.

Why a fox? Why not a horse, or a beetle, or a bald eagle? I’m saying this more as, like, existentialism, you know? Who am I?

There’s also a healthy portrayal of family that’s delightful to see. Mr & Mrs Fox are so cute together, even when she was scolding him for going back to his life of crime and the realistic rivalry between cousins Ash and Kristofferson. The battle between Mr. Fox and the three farmers, led by the scariest one of all, Franklin Bean (Michael Gambon) gets to be quite fierce at times but never losing its sense of humor. What I find interesting is that the three farmers are all Brits but the animals speak with American accent, ahah. No matter though, it’s all very amusing. I especially enjoy the ‘digging’ scenes and there are quite a few of them in this movie.

Seems like the three Wes Anderson films I saw all have a familial them running through ’em. The characters also go through a growing up process, so to speak, one thing for sure, Mr. Fox won’t feel so ‘invincible’ as he did in the beginning of the movie and he also got to appreciate his family and friends at the end.

I’ve come to enjoy Wes’ Autumnal color palette and style, but fortunately, his work is more than just style over matter. Now I’m up for more of his work, perhaps Rushmore next?

4.5 out of 5 reels


An Affair to Remember (1957)

I’ve always wanted to see this film ever since the first time I saw Sleepless in Seattle, but that was years ago. I can’t believe it took me so long to finally see this one. Oh my, now I’ve really fallen in love with this one. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr shine in this ultimate classic love affair. Both playboy artist Nickie Ferrante and night club singer Terry McKay were engaged when they met in an ocean liner, but they hit it off instantly and the chemistry between them was undeniable.

I always love tales of unrequited love of sort and for a while, their romance didn’t seem to go as planned as the go off the ship. What a shame as they seemed destined for each other. Under the watchful eye of fellow passengers, the couple falls for each other in the most delightful way. Under less skillful talent, this movie could easily be overly sentimental and corny, but witty script and sharp delivery of the actors kept it from being so. In fact, there’s something so authentic about their relationship that makes you root for them to be together.

The scene at Nickie’s grandmother in Italy is especially touching as Grandmother Janou too, fell for Terry and she made not-so-subtle hints about that throughout their meeting. The scenery is beautiful, though of course I wish some of them weren’t just a backdrop. I was enchanted not just by Kerr’s performance, but also her gorgeous costumes!! This is the second film I saw her in [the first one was Beloved Infidel] and I must say I really like her as an actress. The music is of course, sublime. The main theme that shares the same name as the film is beautiful and I appreciate it even more so now that I have experienced this movie. I also love Kerr’s voice, especially when she sang this title song. No wonder the four Oscar noms were in cinematography, music and costume design.

I watched the Special Features after the movie and though the shoot wasn’t entirely smooth, the superstar couple got along well. Interesting that both were going through tumultuous relationships during filming [I had no idea Grant had an unrequited love for Sophia Loren!]. I guess that line ‘We’re heading into a rough sea, Nickie’ was spot on in real life as well.

In any case, I could see why this film is so beloved and was even referenced in contemporary films long after its release. Boy that finale was sooo heart wrenching! An accident prevents their meet-up atop the Empire State Building, and both were crushed that they couldn’t be with each other as they had promised. It was quite a build-up to get to THAT moment that made all of that waiting worthwhile. By that point, I was sniffling on my sofa as I watched that scene, just like Meg Ryan and Rosie O’Donnell did in Sleepless in Seattle! 😀

Kudos to director Leo McCarey for crafting such a beguiling love story, it’s certainly an affair to remember, in every sense of the word. This is one of those classics I wouldn’t mind revisiting again and again in the years to come.

5 out of 5 reels


Thoughts on any of these movies? Do share what movie(s) you watched over the weekend.

Weekend Viewing Roundup: 21 Jump Street + Moonrise Kingdom Reviews

Happy Monday all [well Tuesday to some of you on the other side of the world]! I have to say this has been a great week for movie watching. I actually managed to see THREE new movies [well new to me] and even sneaked in a couple of older movies for a rewatch: 300 and Spider-man 2 [I guess I was in a Spidey mood]. Well, I’ve posted my review The Amazing Spider-man last night, which according to Box Office Mojo made $140 mil in six days, but believe it or not it still falls short compared to the Sam Raimi’s versions. But it’s obviously lucrative enough to warrant multiple sequels, I think a trilogy should be a given.

Now, here’s my mini reviews of the other two films I saw this weekend.

21 Jump Street

I used to watch this show in High School so the primary reason I watched this is pure nostalgia. I didn’t want to see it on the big screen as I wasn’t crazy for the main cast [Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum] but the overwhelmingly positive reviews definitely compelled me to rent it. Well, this movie had me in stitches from the start and it never let on.

The premise is simple enough. Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Tatum) are former high school foes, it’s the stereotype of the school jock bullying the nerdy academic. As fate would have it, the two ended up enrolling in the same police academy and become unlikely friends. Though at first they seems to have caught a break when they busted some drug dealers in an unassuming park, the two over-eager young officers forgot to read the Miranda right! As punishment, both are reassigned to a special division in that famous street address which turns out to be an abandoned Korean church.

The foul-mouthed Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) told them their first mission is to infiltrate a high school following a death of one of the students after consuming a potent synthetic drugs. They go undercover as brothers and live temporarily in Schmidt’s parents house. Tatum and Hill certainly have comedic chops and just seeing both of them together just makes me laugh. Despite Tatum being soo much more mature than most high schoolers, they somehow managed to blend in and make friends. An accidental switcheroo in their faux-identity puts both undercover cops in unlikely situations, Jenko hangs out with the nerdy crowds, whilst Schmidt hangs out with the cool crowd, including the lead drug dealer Eric (Dave Franco, yep James’ younger brother).

Preposterous and crazy situations are to be expected in a story like this, but hilarity ensues with every step to get to the drug supplier. One of the most hilarious moments happens when the undercover duo had to try out the drug to prove themselves to Eric. Oh my, I was in stitches through that whole scene, but I was on the floor when they arrive in prom complete with flying white doves!! Believe it or not, there are actually some sweet moments between these two, but mostly it’s just non-stop laughter and fun right up until the wild and deliberately overblown finale. Both Jenko and Schmidt did get their wish of a life filled with car chases and explosions after all!

By the way, I don’t think I consider it a spoiler to say I’ve been waiting to see Johnny Depp’s cameo and you know what, he did not disappoint! I practically screamed when I saw him and I didn’t see it coming, which adds to the experience.

Final Thoughts: What fun! Despite being too vulgar for my taste, the writing makes for a truly hilarious action-comedy. It’s similar to Hot Fuzz but perhaps more accessible to US audiences. I’m can’t say that I’m a fan of Jonah or Channing now, but I can honestly say they both are GREAT in this movie!

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


Moonrise Kingdom

I’ve been waiting to see this one in a while (I even put it on my most-anticipated list), which is unusual as I don’t always get excited about a Wes Anderson movie. The only one I have seen before was The Royal Tennenbaums, and whilst I enjoyed that one, I can’t remember too much of the details except to say that and eccentric are the words that come to mind. It’s the same with Moonrise Kingdom, though I’d add the words endearing and delightful to describe it.

Set on an island off the coast of New England in 1965, it opens in a Khaki Scout Summer Camp on the day one of its member, Sam Shakusky, disappears from the camp. Soon they realize that a young girl from a nearby town, Suzy Bishop is also missing. Soon they discover the two had run away together and the town, led by the island police Captain Sharp goes in search of them.

Sam turns out to be an orphan whilst Suzy is not, but both Sam and Suzy feel like an outcast in their respective circle, and that’s what drew them together. The young actors, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are so endearing in their roles, and their lack of acting experience actually adds sincerity to the romance. Their scenes together remind us the delight of what innocent young love could be. These sweet moments are peppered with some dark, poignant moments, as if to illustrate the world that would await the two twelve-year-olds as they grow older.

The adult actors seem to take a back-seat to these young lovebirds, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have their moments. Edward Norton as Sam’s Scout Master is amusingly delirious to what’s happening, and seeing the usually-serious actor as a chain-smoking boy scout leader is entertaining in its own right. Bruce Willis proves once again he’s more versatile than people give him credit for. I like him in his understated roles as much as his ‘yippikaye’ bad-assery and he’s appropriately somber in this one as he secretly longs for a family to call his own. I feel that Bill Murray wasn’t given as much to do here, he’s sort of just playing his quirky-self, but I guess that works just fine in a Wes Anderson movie. The rest of the stellar cast, including Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel and the other one of Wes’ muse Jason Schwartzman, are all good but none of them particularly stood out to me.

I guess the benefit of not having seen too much of Wes’ work is that I haven’t grown accustomed to his particular style, so everything seems fresh and fascinating to me. Even the preposterous aspects and the zany-ness of the characters all add to the charm and what makes Wes’ work so unique. There’s also that particular look to the visuals of Wes’ film, my super astute friend John outlined in this *tutorial* post…  he described Wes’ films as having “… the aged look and feel.. What I’m referring to is the yellow filter, and the slight graininess that makes you, the viewer, feel like you’re in a theatre in 1970 watching a film.” I LOVE that, I think it adds something special to the whole experience.

Final Thoughts: This is a delightful movie and it’s moving along quite efficiently at only 1 hr 34 minutes. The ending is heartwarming and sweet, but never nauseatingly so. I might rent this again when it comes out on DVD. I might even venture into Wes’ other works, such as Rushmore and Life Aquatic. Whether Wes’ style is your cup of tea or not as creativity is so subjective, I’m glad there’s still a filmmaker who marches to the beat of his own drums like him in Hollywood.

4.5 out of 5 reels



What do you think of either one of these movies? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

Five for the Fifth: JUNE edition

Hello folks, welcome to the June 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

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. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. If you’ve read my Breaking Dawn and Snow White and the Huntsman reviews, you’ll know I don’t think very much of Kristen Stewart. But really I have my reasons. I know that it’s perhaps unfair to only judge her in those Twilight movies, I mean after all, R-Patz was quite good in other films so I was willing to give her a chance. But really, after seeing her as Snow White, I’m even more baffled as to why she is so in high demand.

K-Stew’s ‘signature’ expression

I mean this girl has NO range whatsoever. I mean if she has the same exact expression for every single emotion known to man. She’s not even THAT beautiful that guys would be all over themselves to go see what she’s going to do next. I’d think she’s not the prime reasons people go see Twilight nor this Snow White movie for that matter, so she’s not exactly box office gold. Or is she??

So my question is, what’s your thoughts on K-Stew? Am I the only one who thinks this way about her?

……
2. Did you guys see this yet? I just LOVE Bill Murray and here he gives some sort of a tour to his next movie Moonrise Kingdom the only way he could.


The movie is about a pair of young lovers who flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them. This is Murray’s fifth collaboration with Wes Anderson, so basically he has starred in most of his films as Anderson has only directed seven feature films so far. I have only seen The Royal Tenenbaums which I quite like, and one of my girlfriends pretty much swore by The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou so I’m curious to check that out soon.

How many Wes Anderson films have you seen and which one is your favorite?

3. I just Coriolanus which is Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut. I think he did a great job adapting a Shakespearean political play to the big screen and I’m curious to see if directing is something he’d do again in the near future.

There have been quite a few actor-turned-directors in Hollywood, and at times they could be better behind the camera than in front of it [I’m looking at you Ben Affleck]. Paste Magazine listed 15 greatest actor-directors and also mentioned two who have recently joined the actor/director club: Vera Farmiga and Paddy Considine who directed Higher Ground and Tyrannosaur, respectively.

So who is YOUR favorite actor-turned-director ever, and what’s your favorite film that he/she directed?

4. My hubby Ivan did a triathlon this past weekend and he met a couple of fellow triathletes. At brunch afterwards, he told me that one of them is a dead ringer for Tom Cruise! He said the guy had a similar long-ish hair like the one he’s sporting in MI:4 and also of similar built and height. He had his sunglasses on when he first saw the guy, and he already resembled him then. But the second he took those off, Ivan actually paused for a minute and had to tell him how much he resembled the Cruister and how he could practically be his body double, to which he nonchalantly replied, ‘yeah I get that a lot.’

In any case, that same night we saw the Rock of the Ages trailer in the theater.


As someone growing up in the 80s, I have to see this on the big screen for nostalgia sake. I mean, I used to be into hard rock bands like Warrant, Guns ‘n Roses, Skid Row, etc. and Warrant’s hit HEAVEN is one of my all time favorites! Cruise looks like a hoot as the shirtless, tattooed rock star Stacee Jaxx, I gotta give it to the man, even at 50 he’s still got it!

Any of you looking forward to this movie?


5. My pal Terrence just pointed out in his Movie News Monday about some movie reshoots that cause their releases to be delayed. Some of them are Brad Pitt’s World War Z (which needs an additional seven weeks of reshoots, yikes!), Spielberg’s Robocalypse, Thor 2, etc.

Well, one movie I have been anticipating for some time is Playing The FieldIt was actually on my most-anticipated list this year before it got pushed from March to December!! Below are a couple of on-set pics from the movie:

It stars my beloved Gerry Butler as a former soccer star with a wild past who tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team. The cast looks pretty good, well apart from Jessica Biel who I hope only has a small part, there’s Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid and Judy Greer. Can’t wait for this one!

So my last question to you is, what movie you’re most anticipating that gets its release pushed back?



Well, that’s it for the June edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀