FlixChatter Review: Café Society (2016)

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Café Society is director Woody Allen’s latest film about old Hollywood – or sort of. Set during its golden age (30s, 40s), its main protagonist is Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), a naïve young New Yorker looking to make his way by moving to Hollywood to work under his uncle Phil (Steve Carell in a wooden performance), a high powered Hollywood agent.

Leaving a loving Jewish family in New York, which includes his mother Rose (an excellent Jeannie Berlin) and a gangster older brother (Corey Stoll), Bobby arrives in LA, and taken under his uncle’s wing. To help him get acclimated to his new surroundings, Phil tasks ‘Vronny’, his secretary (Kristen Stewart) to show him the sights. Before long, a romance ensues and some rather complicated triangles come into play.


Café Society
is watchable at best, with Vittorio Storaro’s gorgeous photography, its glamorous ensemble cast (Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Sheryl Lee) and Allen’s trademark impeccable pacing. However, the cast is mostly sidelined to the rafters.

Aiming seemingly for that classic, light, airy romantic comedy – the likes of Twentieth Century (1934), but without it’s creative punch and slapstick. It’s peppered with cynicism throughout, perhaps to intrigue a moviegoer discussion into the imagined realities of love and romance in the Hollywood jet-set. But it all feels a bit hollow and ultimately, forgettable.

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Perhaps Allen’s point is to stress the emptiness of the rich Hollywood life, but it’s hard to care for any of the main characters who don’t evolve much. It does feel a bit like Allen doing a monologue on Hollywood, love and death to himself. But that in itself, unfortunately, does not make a great, or even a good film.

The one redeeming quality about the film are the scenes with Bobby’s immediate family, which were too few and far in between. The family dynamic offered the most effective comedy throughout and reminded me bits and pieces of 1987’s award winning Moonstruck.

In the end, the Dofmans were the only characters I could sympathize with. And by film’s end, Bobby was most definitely not even a part of them at all.

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So what do you think of Café Society? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter’s 2014 Golden Globes Coverage: Predictions, Winners & Event Highlights

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The glitz and glamor of Award Season kicks off tonight with the 71st Golden Globes Awards… just four days shy of the Oscar nominations. Boy,  I didn’t realize how close the GG telecast is to Oscar noms, but hey I guess Awards chatter is already going full throttle anyway.

Despite the traditional cheers and jeers of the nominations, at least there wasn’t a real head-scratcher like The Tourist being nominated a couple of years back [thank goodness!] For some reason I completely forgot that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler also hosted last year but I’m just blasé about both of them, and all I’m watching for is the Film nominations as I barely watch any TV these days.

WoodyAllenDianeKeatonNow, before I get to my predictions, let’s talk about the honorary Golden Globes, known as the Cecil B. DeMille Award, named after its first ever honoree in 1952. Last year it was bestowed to Jodie Foster and this year, it’ll be director Woody Allen who’ll be the honorary recipient this time. Now, you might be thinking if Woody would even show up to the awards, as was I. Well, according to Deadline, the reclusive director who’s notorious for shunning award shows will NOT attend tonight’s event. It also mentions that Allen “…wasn’t present to receive any of his four Oscars out of 23 nominations and has shied away from the Golden Globes despite 13 nominations and two wins.” So his longtime friend and muse Diane Keaton will receive the award on his behalf.

Now on to the predictions… and winners!

Best Motion Picture, Drama
“12 Years a Slave”
“Captain Phillips”
“Gravity”
“Philomena”
“Rush”

My prediction: Gravity
Who I’m rooting for: Gravity
Winner: “12 Years a Slave”
Well my friend James is absolutely right that Gravity and ’12 Years’ are going to split the Best Director and Best Film win! I still think Gravity deserved to win though.


Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years A Slave”
Idris Elba, “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”
Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

My prediction: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Who I’m rooting for: Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years A Slave”
Winner: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Got it right again though I haven’t seen Matthew’s performance. I really think that the votes came down to between him and Ejiofor but award voters seem to love roles with drastic body transformation. It’s crazy that Matthew could’ve been up for his performance in MUD as well, this guy’s career reinvention is astounding. More power to him!


Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr Banks”
Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”

My prediction: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Who I’m rooting for: Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Winner: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
I haven’t seen Blanchett’s performance but she is a spectacular actress that I don’t even mind she wins this over Bullock. Now I can’t wait to see Blue Jasmine even more!


Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
“American Hustle”
“Her”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Nebraska”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

My prediction: “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Who I’m rooting for: “Her”
Winner: “American Hustle”
Sheesh, I somehow put down Wolf of Wall Street as the winner, not sure what I was thinking! Well, I was REALLY pulling for Her to win this, but I guess if it came down to between ‘Wolf’ and ‘Hustle,’ I guess I’d rather have the latter win this.


Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”

My prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Who I’m rooting for: Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”
Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Though I’m bummed Joaquin didn’t win this thing, Leo did an amazing work as Jordan Belfort, and his physical comedy performance is why he’s nominated in the Comedy category.


Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Enough Said”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

My prediction: Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Who I’m rooting for: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Winner: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Yet ANOTHER wrong prediction, but hey, the one I was rooting for win. I was afraid Meryl would nab this yet again, as HFP loves her so much. I’ve seen both performances and though Meryl is great as always, I think Amy was still more deserving.


Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”

My prediction: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Who I’m rooting for: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”


At the same time… I’m not going to hate her just because I didn’t think she shouldn’t have won. I did like her performance in American Hustle, I just think Nyong’O was more deserving.


Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

My prediction: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Who I’m rooting for: Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
Winner: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
I got this one right, but I was SO rooting for Bruhl. Ah well, I just hope his role in RUSH would bring him more prominent roles!


Best Animated Feature Film
“Frozen”
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”

My prediction: “Frozen”
Who I’m rooting for: “Frozen”
Winner: “Frozen”
Wahoo!!! Congrats Jennifer Lee & Chris Buck for making such a lovely and stirring movie! The win is so well-deserved. Even if Pixar had been nominated for Monsters University, I’d STILL be rooting for Frozen. It’s currently sitting in my Top 5.


Best Foreign Language Film
“Blue Is the Warmest Color”
“The Great Beauty”
“The Past”
“The Hunt”
“The Wind Rises”

My prediction: “Blue Is the Warmest Color”
Who I’m rooting for: “The Hunt”
Winner: “The Great Beauty”
I got it wrong once again, but I wish I could be wrong to seeing The Hunt winning. I mean Mads Mikkelsen was grossly snubbed and now the astounding film is snubbed too 😦


Best Director – Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

My prediction: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Who I’m rooting for: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
YES!! Methinks there’s no competition here but heck, you just never know! I’m just glad the HFP got it right, now let’s give Gravity Best Picture win also please?


Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Spike Jonze, “Her”
Bob Nelson, “Nebraska”
Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope, “Philomena”
John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, “American Hustle”

My prediction: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
Who I’m rooting for: Spike Jonze, “Her”
Winner: Spike Jonze, “Her”
I’m thrilled to see Jonze win this. Woo hoo!! If you’ve read my review you know why I was rooting for this.


Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Alex Ebert, “All is Lost”
Alex Heffes, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Steven Price, “Gravity”
Hans Zimmer, “12 Years a Slave”
John Williams, “The Book Thief”

My prediction: Steven Price, “Gravity”
Who I’m rooting for: Steven Price, “Gravity”
Winner: Alex Ebert, “All is Lost”
I haven’t seen the movie nor do I have a clue who Ebert is, but I’m really bummed Price didn’t win for Gravity though [sad face]


Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“Atlas,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
“Let It Go,” “Frozen”
“Ordinary Love,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
“Please Mr. Kennedy,” “Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Sweeter Than Fiction,” “One Chance”

My prediction: “Please Mr. Kennedy,” “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Who I’m rooting for: “Let It Go,” “Frozen”
Winner: Ordinary Love – “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Aaaargh!!! I so want Frozen to win but ah well, seems like I’m horrible at predicting ANYTHING, ahah.


The Tally:

So I got 7 out of 14 [FILM] predictions right, but only FOUR of the film/talent that I’m rooting for ended up winning.


Random Commentaries:

Here are some of my fave parts from the show, apart from the comments about each Film winners:

  • Even though I haven’t watched a single episode, I’m glad Breaking Bad and Bryan Cranston winning tonight. Cranston is a class act.
  • Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are pretty awesome hosts. They seem to be genuinely good friends and that rapport shows. I didn’t care about Fey’s introduction of Leo DiCaprio though. Feel free to google it yourself, not gonna repeat such an icky thing on my blog.
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  • In response to Kevin Bacon + Kyra Sedgwick‘s daughter being miss Golden Globes, Poehler dressing up as Fey’s teenage boy is pretty hilarious. LOVE that she went directly to Idris Elba, thinking he was her father. What a beautiful man!
  • Robert Downey Jr. is always fun to see in award shows. Can’t exactly remember what he said but he seemed to make some people laughing hysterically.
  • Most memorable presenter? Hmmm, I think it’d have to be Emma Thompson when she showed up barefoot with her heels on one hand and a glass of champagne on the other. Oh, and for most stirring-presentation, it’d have to be Laura Dern presenting her dad Bruce’s nominated film Nebraska. Awww…
  • MattDamon_GoldenGlobes2014I think it’s safe to say that based on the number of mentions at the event, Matt Damon (aka the Garbage Man) OWNED the Golden Globes. He’s such a good sport that guy, I like him even more for that reason. Whilst his BFF Ben Affleck, mr. Batman himself, might’ve been too busy the night before saving crime or what have you that he appeared to be in desperate need of sleep.
  • Worst faux-pas of the night: Teleprompter showed the wrong text when Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie was presenting their movie The Wolf of Wall Street. They were handed a piece of paper to read their lines so it was fine in the end. I thought it was a joke at first but it turns out that it was a real snafu, wow, that’s horrible HFP!
  • Fey’s jab at Michael Bay was hilarious! Was waiting for that to happen, heck I wonder if the teleprompter snafu was HFP’s inadvertent jab at him as well, ahah!
  • I didn’t really watch the red carpet, but I have to honor at least one winner for Best Dress… which goes to the sublime Cate Blanchett’s gorgeous Armani Privé black lace dress with a stunning high collar and subtle mermaid skirt. But it’s really the way she wears the dress that makes it even more stunning. She is a class act all the way!
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    As for WORST dress category, I’d say Jennifer Lawrence‘s white dress that looks like it’s made out of someone’s old drape doesn’t do her beautiful figure any favors! These people have money and stylists at their disposal, how could they not get the fashion right? I mean, when in doubt just go with an LBD!
  • Alfonso Cuaron‘s hilarious acceptance speech is perhaps my favorite of the night
    “Because of my accent, people ended up doing what they think I mean instead of what I actually meant.”
    “Sandra thought I said ‘I’m going to give you a hairpiece’ when I meant an earpiece” LOL!
  • I like Matthew McConaughey‘s speech. “It’s not about dyin’, it’s about livin’ & for that I say just keep.” What a great way to end a speech there man!

That’s it folks. As you can see, I’m only covering the FILM portion as I barely watch any TV 🙂


So, what are your predictions and which films/talents are you rooting for?

Musings on actors-turned-directors… who are your favorites?

Seems like every other week there’s news that another actor is trying their hand at directing. Just this past month alone, I read that James Franco is supposedly directing a Lindsay Lohan biopic (??) and Philip Seymour Hoffman seems ready to be back in the director’s chair (after Jack Goes Boating) with a Depression-era ghost story Ezekiel Moss. Dustin Hoffman—unrelated to Philip by the way, in case you’re wondering—just completed his first film Quartet, as I talked about in the TCFF lineup post.

This trend is hardly new though, after all as far back as Charlie Chaplin and Laurence Olivier, many thespians have done work behind the camera, and some have become quite successful at it. I haven’t done my top ten list yet, I might do another collaborative effort with my pal Ted at some point, but I think Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Mel Gibson, Woody Allen and Ben Affleck would probably make my list. Affleck seems to flourish under his own direction, as he seems better in front of the camera when he’s also behind the camera, case in point: The Town and the upcoming ARGO which is getting rave reviews. In the case of Allen though, I much prefer that he stays behind the camera as I don’t like his neurotic style as an actor.

Why Do So Many Actors Want to Become Directors?

Do they just like the idea of being a multi-hyphenated artist?? I’m sure there’s a certain degree of pride that comes with being a double or triple threat (if they also write their own script) in the industry. But I’d think that for most, it’s about extending one’s creativity in the film-making business. Generally speaking, directors usually have the most creative control in making a film, though of course the studio often has a lot of input that often change the direction of the final piece. Some top actors might have a close connection with the director they’re working with, offering a lot of creative input to the film, but perhaps for some, that’s not enough.

Not every actor-turned-director is created equal obviously, but I’d think that seasoned actors have the filming experience behind them to help get a compelling performance out of fellow actors. They know what it’s like being in front of the lens, what the actors might be feeling, the challenges of getting a certain emotion across, etc. better than those who have never acted before. Perhaps it’s the ’empathy’ factor is what makes them become successful directors, and some actor have become more well-known as directors than actors (Allen, Howard, Reiner), though people like Eastwood have the talents to juggle both worlds equally.

Well, now I’d like to turn things over to you and ask you to vote your favorite actors-turned-directors. Cast your vote below!


Remember, you can pick up to three. Feel free to share your top five or top 10 in the comments, and tell me which movie(s) of theirs are your favorites.

The FCM Blog-a-thon — What movie(s) will become a Future Classic?

What a brilliant idea! My pal Paula, who’s a confirmed TCM addict, have often wondered what movies from the 21st century would stand the test of time, like CasablancaGone With The Wind or Out of the PastInstead of just mulling those over on her own, she decides to get all of us movie bloggers to join in on the fun. And so the FUTURE CLASSIC MOVIES (FCM) BLOGATHON was born.

So what do we have to do? Well, we get to pick a movie (or more) from 2000 or later, and writes about why they think it will endure to become a Future Classic. 


To me, the key to a film’s endurance has to do with the main subject matter itself, whether its theme will resonate with people no matter what age/era. The reason Casablanca achieved its iconic status and can still be enjoyed by a new generation 70 years later is that the theme of lost love, patriotism and sacrifice are all something we can relate and aspire to, no matter how many years have passed since WWII.

All of these films below are visually stunning, but just like people, looks can only be interesting for so long. It’s the substance and message that makes a movie timeless. 

So with that in mind, here are three that I think has the ingredients to become a Future Classic.

It should be obvious but spoilers may be present in this post,
consider yourself warned. 

Gladiator

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’d likely know I adore this film. It’s the first film that came to mind when Paula invited me, and in my mind, it already IS a classic and I believe generations to come would still appreciate this one even decades from now.

I selected the very same film two years ago for a blog-a-thon called Movies That Makes Going to the Movies Suck as this Ridley Scott masterpiece pretty much launched a trend of swords-and-sandals flicks that threatens to tarnish the original’s legacy. One sign of an enduring film is that some of its quotes are still used even today, but of course that alone won’t make a *classic* if it doesn’t have an engrossing story and fused with a thrilling spectacle of action and memorable performances.

Brain, brawn and heart… there’s not a lot of films that capture all three perfectly, and still manage to impress us visually with its amazing cinematography. Oh, and there’s the soundtrack. I still get chills listening to Now We Are Free, it speaks so beautifully about Maximus’ humanity. Oh I long to see this film on the big screen once again in all its glory.

HUGO

A love letter to the movies, what could be more timeless? At first glance, Scorsese’s first family film seems to be about this 12-year-old orphan boy Hugo Cabret who lives in a railway station. That’s pretty much as much as I know when I went it to see it, so what a joy it is when the film takes us into a journey that ties the boy with a real life French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès.

Loneliness, abandonment, disillusionment are sentiment any of us can relate to as we’ve all felt it at some point of another. No matter how modern technology has evolved, even when we’re able to watch movies via a hologram or what have you, our humanity is what will connect us across generations. And that’s what films do in many ways. That’s why *classic* films shall always have a place in the modern world and years to come. Our great, great grand-kids will still likely be fascinated by how the past generations create the films that  become the medium they enjoy today.

The 1930s world with that marvelous vintage clock where Hugo lives in is absolutely enchanting. There’s something so magical about the way its filmed that captures your imagination. 3D will become old news one day but its charm and heartwarming story won’t likely be lost with the passing time.

[read my Hugo review]

Midnight in Paris

Here’s another one from 2011 that’s also nominated for Best Picture Oscar. I didn’t plan it that way, but I do think both films has that certain everlasting charm, and not only because they’re both set in the city of lights. The fixation with time period of past and present drives the story here and the idea of time travel certainly has a lasting effect in cinema. It’s similar to Woody Allen’s other time travel fantasy The Purple Rose of Cairo, but even more beguiling.

The protagonist Gil is obsessed with a bygone era of the 1920s, so when he’s somehow magically transported to that period at midnight, the *lost generation* looks ever so fresh and as fascinating as ever. We watch in awe just like Gil marveling at its beauty… the car, the clothes, the music… and of course the seemingly immortal personas like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso… the people in history books that we’ll always treasure for years to come.

What’s more, the predicament Gil faces is something we can all relate to. No, I’m not talking about his obsession with a certain era, but about pursuing his dreams and having the courage to break free from his stifling life to do so.

“Maybe the present is a little unsatisfying because life is a little unsatisfying” – Gil

The message about appreciating one’s life in the present will also resonate well no matter what era one lives in. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned that Paris in the rain in the finale, it doesn’t get any more timeless than this.

[read my Midnight in Paris review]


Do check out what other films people think will become a Future Classic.


Well, what do you think of my picks? Feel free to share what movie(s) you think have a long-lasting appeal.

Five for the Fifth: April 2012 Edition

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

It’s a bit early this year because tomorrow we’ve got a very special tribute post planned 😉 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. When I was watching The Hunger Games a couple of weeks ago, I kept wondering just where has Wes Bentley been all these year? He played Seneca Crane, the Panem official who ran the games, y’know the one with the awesome looking beard.

I first saw Bentley in American Beauty, which was back in 1999, and nothing else since. He was 21 then and according to this Reuters article, the Juilliard dropout apparently struggled with his newfound fame with the success of that film, and became addicted to drugs and alcohol. The article said ‘he finally overcame his addictions in 2009 and is now happily married again.’  

Well, I’m glad to hear he found his way back, as I thought he’s a pretty good actor and he’s quite good looking, kind of a cross between Jake Gyllenhaal and Christian Bale.

Well, what are your thoughts on Wes Bentley? What movie(s) of his have you seen?


2. Just a few days ago, I read a report that the inevitable movie adaptation of another DC superhero The Flash might be getting closer to production. With Batman and Superman being the two most bankable franchises, surely DC would want to add a third one after Green Lantern tanked. Now, almost two years ago I posted that I actually would love to see The Flash getting a proper feature film. At the time, the writers of Green Lantern were reportedly doing initial concepts for it. I was quite excited to hear that, I even listed my wish list as to who should don the red suit: Lee Pace, Adam Brody, Zachary Levi, Hugh Dancy and Matthew Goode. 

I do think Lee Pace would be awesome in the role. He’s tall, lanky, and has the charisma and comic timing to be able to pull off such a role. Plus, he’s not a household name yet, but a lot of cinephiles probably know who he is and average moviegoers will recognize him from the TV show Pushing Daisies.

What do you think of this particular superhero adaptation? Any thoughts on who should play The Flash?

3. This past Monday, Whitney Houston’s last film Sparkle debuted its first trailer. I mentioned that film in my Houston’s memorial tribute last February.


It’s a remake of the 1976 film by the same name, which centers on three Detroit sisters who form a successful Motown-era singing group, but quickly get swallowed up by drugs, abuse, and other pitfalls of celebrity. Houston, who’s also the film’s executive producer, plays the girls’ mother, a former singer who suffered the same plights. Given what’s happened to the real singer, to hear her say the line “Was my life not a cautionary tale for you?” is utterly heart-wrenching! Sounds like Houston’s part is actually quite small, and that the star is really Jordin Sparks, but surely

What do you think folks? Would you see this on the big screen this August?

……
4. Ok, I just saw the Italian poster of Woody Allen’s latest, To Rome With Love at Impawards.

It’s a decent enough poster I suppose, but what I’m wondering is Woody’s preoccupation with ensemble casts set in European cities. It stars Alec BaldwinPenélope CruzRoberto BenigniJesse EisenbergJudy Davis,  Greta GerwigEllen Page and Alison Pill. Check out the premise:

A story about a number of people in Italy, some American, some Italian, some residents, some visitors, and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into.

Now, I’m not as familiar with his earlier works but do you think he’s being overly indulgent of late? Or maybe he’s always been that way with his films, after all, he was obsessed with New York City as a setting for most of his earlier films, and now it’s European big cities like London, Paris and now Rome. It also marks his return to acting since Scoop in 2006.

Thoughts on Woody Allen’s latest? Are you looking forward to this film?


5. Ok, last but not least… since tomorrow is Gregory Peck‘s birthday, I thought I’d throw in a GP-related question 😀 Well, I mentioned here that I have seen 28 of his work (out of a possible 57 if we’re counting TV and miniseries). Well, I think that’s a record from just one particular actor, and the time it took (just under 6 months) sets a whole new record in itself, ahah. Check out these DVD cases that this guy Paul Champagne made, apparently he made a ton of these for different actors and directors. I’m so tempted to order a few for my GP collection 🙂

Anyway, I started counting how many films of my other actors I have seen. It’s no surprise that Gerry Butler comes second with 25 films seen, followed by Tom Cruise22 (I guess the only explanation is that the guy is now 50 and I grew up watching a ton of his movies), then Russell Crowe – 20, and Christian Bale19 to round up the top five. As far as actresses go, I think Cate Blanchett is the one actress whose work I’ve seen the most of with 17.

So which actor/actress’ works have you seen the most of? Come on, fess up folks!


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

Weekend Roundup: ‘Midnight in Paris’ review

Happy Monday, everybody! It’s actually a Columbus Day holiday here, but no, I didn’t get a day off 😦

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, wherever you are. Well, mine was quite lovely. I took a much-needed blogging/computer break on Saturday to spend the entire day outdoors starting with a jog around the beautiful Lake Calhoun with friends, then off to a small town south of the Twin Cities to go hiking and take in the gorgeous Fall colors. This has got to be the best Autumn season ever with hardly any rain and temps holding in the 70s and 80s!

But guess what, despite my hectic weekend, I actually had time to see not one but two movies, no, NOT the weekend box office winner Reel Steel, not even sure I want to rent that one. I finally caught Midnight in Paris at a local indie theater, and The Beaver that’s been sitting on our counter for a whole week.

Midnight in Paris

I feel that the less you know about this film the better, which is why I’m not going to go into the plot details too much and just leave you with this IMDb description:

A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.

For most people, the appeal of this film is likely to be the ever-so-prolific Woody Allen. But his work has been hit and miss for me so the appeal of this film for me is the enchanting city of Paris and boy, this film practically doubles as a tourism video for the City of Lights. Seems like Allen’s love affair with Europe continues [his last few films were filmed in London & Barcelona] and cinematographer Darius Khondji indulges him with gorgeous shots of his city muse.

I had some doubts about Owen Wilson in the lead role but he turned out to be perfectly cast as a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter who calls himself a ‘hack’ and longs to finally finish his novel. His comic timing as Gil generates plenty of laugh in the scenes spent during the day with his fiancée Inez’s family and friends, but his wide-eyed bewilderment when the clock strikes midnight is even more fun to watch.

Again, I’m glad I didn’t know much about the plot as what Gil encounters from midnight until the wee hours is full of surprises! Checking out the characters’ name on its IMDb would easily give it away but I suggest you refrain from doing that unless you don’t mind being spoiled.

Like most of Woody Allen’s films, this one is comprised of a large ensemble cast including Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody and also feature a small cameo of French first lady Carla Bruni. I also didn’t know Tom Hiddleston [Thor‘s Loki] is in this one, so it was a pleasant surprise! The usually likable Michael Sheen and Rachel McAdams portray their unsympathetic characters quite well, Sheen especially as the smarty-pants college professor friend of Inez. Marion Cotillard is lovely as always and her role as the free-spirited French beauty Adriana seems tailor-made for her. Her scenes with Wilson are easily the highlights of the movie for me.

I’m so glad I finally caught this film before its theatrical run is over! My hubby was initially reluctant to see it but he ended up loving it as much as I did. It’s truly an enchanting and magical film that’s full of whimsical yet poignant dialog complemented by beautiful scenery. It’s quite predictable how Gil will come to his senses by the end, but his journey to get there is wonderful to watch. I’ll definitely be seeing this one again.

4.5 out of 5 reels


What did you think of Midnight in Paris? 

Labor Day Weekend Roundup: Kick-Ass, Expendables, Purple Rose of Cairo

Happy Wednesday, folks! Hope your weekend was a good one. Well, mine was hectic to say the least, part of the weekend I was working on my fantasy movie pitch, speaking of which, have you read it yet?

Well, Clooney is box office king this weekend with The American. I didn’t see it though, I finally saw The Expendables. But just barely ten minutes in, I wish I had bought the ticket to that one instead. After the movie, half my friends who went to see The American while some of us saw the Stallone movie said that they didn’t like it, either. They said it was downright boring and the story is ‘pointless.’ One of them said he nearly fell asleep until the steamy sex scene appeared on screen, ha!

Anyhoo, I also managed to see two other movies this weekend. Instead of posting a full review of each of them, let me just jot down my thoughts on each of them in one post. (Beware, it might contain some spoilers)

Kick-Ass

Plot: Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

I admit I was excited to see it as we both have been curious given the rave reviews. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed! I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being far more violent than I thought, and most of the brutal scenes were involved Chloe Moretz who’s a mere 13 years old!!

From the get-go, this movie grabbed my attention. Both of us were very impressed by Aaron Johnson’s performance as the high school comic book geek, and was floored to learn that he’s from England! The movie is funny throughout, and watching this scrawny looking kid trying to be a superhero is endearing, I mean the idea might be ill-conceived but he definitely has a good intention. But the story turns out to be engaging and the action sequences well, kicked ass!

Aaron as the nerdy Dave, and in real life

Nic Cage was pretty darn good (a nice change after all the atrocious stuff he’s been involved in) as Big Daddy, an ex-police officer turned secret mercenary superhero who lives with her young daughter Mindy, known as Hit Girl (Moretz). Moretz is quite the scene stealer here, upstaging both Johnson and Cage in a lot of scenes. Mark Strong was playing his usual villain role with panache, and this time with a hint of New York accent?In any case, he’s always good in a role like this, not to mention he gets the best death scene in the movie (like in Robin Hood), but I gotta admit I’d love to see him be a good guy for once.

The real revelation here for me is the 20-year old Aaron Johnson. His American accent was so flawless I would never know he’s not from here, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that once again the actor I fancy happens to be a Brit 🙂 He looks so perfectly nerdy but when I Googled to find out more about him, dorky isn’t what I’d use to describe him at all, in fact, quite the opposite! Then I realized I did read about him playing John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. Looks like we have another versatile young British thespian here, no wonder Andrew from Encore Entertainment thought of him as being a noteworthy young star under 30. I’d have included him had I seen Kick-Ass at the time.

In any case, I’m even more excited about Matthew Vaughn directing X-Men: First Class now, he’s got a knack for stylized actions sequences, as well as ear for a witty dialogue. I was quite impressed with another movie of his, the fantasy adventure Stardust, so hopefully he’ll continue to get more work in Hollywood!

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The Expendables

Plot: A group of elite mercenaries, the Expendables, are deployed to the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia to halt local pirates from executing the hostages.

Well, I’m not going to say a lot about this one as I don’t even want to think about it. If you read this blog long enough you know I’ve been anticipating this movie ever since I heard about it a year ago. I went in undeterred by the critics and with a low expectation, I mean, with this cast of 80s action stars AND Arnold’s cameo, it’ll be a helluva entertainment, right? Wrong! I came thisclose to leaving the theater even after 15 minutes, which I never experienced before.

I should’ve listened to my friend and guest blogger Ted who said this movie is bloody awful. I don’t expect Shakespeare obviously, but does the dialog have to be THAT terrible? And the action sequences, the saving grace we all hope for, was pretty dismal, too. Despite being all brutal and gory, as to be expected, it just looks cheaply made, not too mention old-fashioned. I mean I get the ‘vintage’ vibe is deliberate, but I didn’t think the action stuff have to look like they’re done 3-4 decades ago.

Believe it or not though, the girls in the movie (there are only two of them) actually fare WORSE than the boys, especially Charisma Carpenter (definitely didn’t live up to her first name as she had none at all). I mean, goodness me, her scenes with Jason Statham made him look like an Oscar contender. I understand that “the appeal of Charisma Carpenter isn’t her acting!” as Andy from Fandango Groovers put it, but come on!

I mean it really is, folks, there is absolutely nothing I could praise about this movie. Sure, the “He wants to be president” line from Sly to Arnold’s character did draw a lot of laughs, but if that is all there is to it, I could’ve just waited for the dvd… or better yet, watch it on YouTube. I thought that at the very least, despite plot holes bigger than Steve Austin’s biceps, I still might get a good comedy out of this, y’know like the A-Team. To be fair though, I did like Mickey Rourke’s character, but maybe because he doesn’t seem to take this role seriously and at least I can understand every single word he is saying, unlike y’know, the leading actor!

The definition of expendable |ikˈspendəbəl| – (of an object) designed to be used only once and then abandoned or destroyed. If only Stallone would treat this movie like that definition, alas, with Expendables 2 in the works, we haven’t seen the end of this, yet 😦

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Purple Rose of Cairo

Plot: In 1930s, Depression era New Jersey, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world.

After watching two action-packed movies, I was ready to unwind with something much more mellow. This movie came highly recommended by my friend Prairiegirl as well as Peter from Magic Lantern film blog. Well, thanks to both of them that I came across this gem as it’s an utterly delightful film! I’m not exactly a Woody Allen fan, and considering how dark the themes of his movies of late (Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream), I was surprised at how ‘innocent’ this one is.

It mixes the world of fantasy and reality so seamlessly that as the audience I was swept away by the surreal world of Mia Farrow’s character Cecilia. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed about meeting their favorite character in a movie, don’t we all wish sometimes the person we’re so in love with could just, well, leap off from the screen and actually talk to you? I’m a bit of a dreamer myself, and though I don’t necessarily find solace from the world of the movies, there are times that a scene or character I’m seeing is so bewitching I wish I could be a part of it.

Jeff Daniels wooing Mia Farrow

This is the first time I’ve seen a Mia Farrow movie, but she is definitely perfect as the down-on-her-luck waitress who’s disillusioned on her marriage and living in poverty. But the star of the movie is Jeff Daniels, playing two characters—well one essentially, the actor (Gil Shepherd) and the screen persona(Tom Baxter)—but they’re totally different characters. He projects such warmth and wholesome hunky-ness that’s so endearing. That scene in the bordello is just priceless!

The romance is just endearing and lovely, and even in the short running time (about 1.5 hour), I was immersed in the characters and really wanting to see Cecillia find happiness. The dialogue is a real treat, too, especially between Cecilia and Tom Baxter, no wonder Allen was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 1985 Oscar. I’m kind of glad that Woody himself is nowhere to be found in this movie, no offense to him, but I think he’d kind of be a distraction in this movie

I wish the ending had been more of a happy ending… oh how I wish Gil hadn’t left for Hollywood. But oh well, I guess reality bites… there is no Prince Charming to rescue us like the movies want us to believe.

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So folks, what movies did you see this weekend? Or if you have any thoughts about any of these movies, let’s hear ’em!