Sunday, November 20, 2011

Go See: Drive

Sometimes I wonder why it takes me so long to go see a film and I must admit, "Drive" is one of those films that should take top priority in films to see this year. This film should be enjoyed on the big screen while you experience an amazing soundtrack. I directly went to itunes and downloaded this eerie and moody music, which was composed by the incredibly talented Cliff Martinez.

While you are immediately entranced by the incredibly talented Ryan Gosling, I really appreciated that the film was set in and shot in Los Angeles. I always enjoy knowing that I have been in certain places that they have filmed or are familiar with various local points of interest such as "(500) Days of Summer" and "Traffic". Yea, that's the nerd in me. I was very interested and surprised that I wasn't instantly familiar with who the director was, Nicolas Winding Refn. His shooting style didn't seem very American and well, after IMDB'ing him, I see that he's from Denmark. He directed "Valhalla Rising", "Pusher" and "Bronson". Looks he forged a strong connection with Ryan, as he is starring in one Nicolas's next films called "Only God Forgives" with Kristin Scott Thomas.

As we have been seeing lately, the talented Carey Mulligan continues to portray non-british characters, but she was perfect for this role. Other kickers for me - the actor who plays her ex-convict husband completely transformed into a gangster type of dude, who was played by Oscar Isaac. Definitely keep your eye on him as he played the ruthless doctor in "Sucker Punch" and will be in Madonna's upcoming directed film, "W.E." (which is based on the story of Wallis Simpson). It's still such a departure to see Bryan Cranston portray a non-Malcolm-in-the-Middle dad type as well as Albert Brooks playing a heavy-hitting, mafia guy. Ron Perlman plays his brother, who, in my total opinion, will always be the "Beast/Vincent" from "Beauty and the Beast" back in the 80's. And if you nearly blinked, you'd see Christina Hendricks, play an accessory to a crime.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My First Vlog Entry - British TV / Doc Martin

Well, hello there! I am finally making my debut via my first Vlog entry today. I know that I have dedicated this blog to solely discussing film but it's time to divulge my other passion which is British TV. So, without further adieu, off I go...!

And to get you started, here are some memorable quotes from Series 1 (Season 1). Doc Martin really does have the best one-liners said with a dead pan face.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rent It! - Win Win

I watched this really clever film, Win Win, over the weekend and really fell in love with it. I must say that Paul Giamatti is one of the best indie film actors around. Mind you, I know very well that he acts in mainstream flicks but man, oh man, does he know how to take an indie film and really make it his own. Shall I remind you when he portrayed Harvey Pekar in "American Splendor" or as the non-drinking merlot Miles character in "Sideways". This film had a great supporting cast such as Mike Flaherty's wife portrayed by the lovely and sassy Amy Ryan. You know who she is - was nominated for an Oscar for "Gone Baby Gone", she was also on "The Wire" for years and most recently on "The Office".

Can we talk about Bobby Cannavale. Love him and have had a crush on him since his days on the series, "Third Watch" but maybe you remember him on "Will & Grace" but I think we should all agree that the most memorable role could quite possibly have been in the SATC episode titled, "Easy Come, Easy Go", where he has a fling with Samantha and tells the girls that he has funky tasting spunk. But seriously, who is the kid who stole the show? Alex Shaffer, who has no previous acting experience but who could really wrestle as he won the New Jersey State Championship.

Melanie Lynskey plays the druggie mother of Alex Shaffer's character and perhaps she looks familiar as the stalker shrink on "Two and a Half Men" but come on, let's dig deeper. She played George Clooney's sister in "Up in the Air", and was the very first person to kiss Kate Winslet in "Heavenly Creatures" when she was sixteen. Also, Rocky Balboa's brother-in-law, Burt Young plays the kid's grandfather (loved seeing him!). And last but not least, Jeffrey Tambor plays the assistant wrestling coach, always able to deliver his comedic timing in a succint and hilarious way.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Go See: "50/50"

There is a 100% chance that you will love "50/50", even if you're not a fan of Seth Rogen. Director Jonathan Levine ("The Wackness") put together an amazing cast and of course, the multi-talented Joseph Gordon-Leavitt steals the show playing the anguished, emotionally suffering lead. I'm such a huge fan of his - ever since his "3rd Rock From The Sun" TV days, we all knew he had an amazing talent. If you saw "500 Days of Summer" or the haunting, indie flick "Mysterious Skin", you would know what I mean.

This film delicately and raw-ly showed a real side to someone who has cancer and how his family and friends react. There is a pivotal moment in the car when Adam comes to an emotional crossing point with himself and might I just go ahead and say it - I think he will be getting some nominations for his performance in this film. Adam is comforted by a Doctor-in-Training youthful Anna Kendrick, who struggles with maintaining a barrier between doctor and patient. His overbearing mother is played by Angelica Huston (amazing!) and his girlfriend is played by the lovely Bryce Dallas Howard.

I don't even want to say much more about the film because you really need to see it to understand the range of emotions covered in this film. I will say that it really touches you in trying to understand the human emotion, even when it's not spoken.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rent It! - Jane Eyre

I know when I have really taken a liking to a film, when it haunts me and I still wonder about the characters, with possible "what-if" scenarios filling my head. Blame it on a Charlotte Bronte adapted film. So, I finally rented (via Blockbuster - might as well give them a much-needed plug) "Jane Eyre", which came out last year. I was first caught by the way it was shot, so beautiful set-up shots, yet delicately edited to feel like a standard period piece film. It had a hint of modernity, to which the credit goes to Director Cary Fukunuga. He definitely knows what he's doing as he has a cinematography background in addition to his writing and directing credits.

I have never read Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre", nor her sister, Emily's novel, "Wuthering Heights", although I am inspired to now delve in this world of romance, deceit and hardship (which sounds much like an episode of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"). I love how strong-willed the main character, Jane, played by Mia Wasikowski, is in her attempt to escape a depressing childhood, then later to find herself deceived by the man she loves. Wasikowski has a history of playing characters who speak their mind - remember her in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" or the inquisitive Joni in "The Kids Are All Right". But the other person who caught my eye, for many reasons but most notably because he's nice to look at is Michael Fassbender. Now I know I knew the name but couldn't trace him so off I went to do a bit of research. You might remember him from HBO's "Band of Brothers", "X-Men First Class" or "Inglorious Basterds". And he was most recently linked with Zoe Kravitz. Lucky girl! Jamie Bell is in a grown-up role playing a preacher, who falls for Jane. And the ever faithful Dame Judi Dench, plays the house lady of Rochester's estate.

Now, let's get down to the meat of the talent who you may have barely recognized. Rising star Craig Roberts, who starred in Richard Ayoade's "Submarine" and will be in the upcoming "Red Lights" with Robert DeNiro and Sigourney Weaver. Playing Jane Eyre's evil aunt is Sally Hawkins, which you may remember in quite a few episodes of "Little Britain", "Made in Degenham", "Never Let Me Go" and she's in the upcoming "Great Expectations" as directed by Mike Newell. Very excited about seeing that! And of course, last but not least, the lovely Imogen Poots, who plays Blanche Ingram, who's best known for playing Tammy in "28 Weeks Later" and Prue Sorenson in the 2010 remake of the controversial TV drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire and as Jean Ross in the BBC's Christopher and His Kind.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Go See: "The Help"

It's been a day since I saw "The Help" and am still haunted by it. It was an incredible film which such rich historical value. It pains me to know that there was an era where we treated human beings in such an unkind way and yet I still see it happening in other ways in this day and time. I wonder when we will ever all truly get along but watching this film, perhaps shows a side of humanity that perhaps we did not realize had a voice and needed to be heard. So, off I go with my thoughts on "The Help"...

It was highly anticipated (by ahem, me!) and many others. I laughed and I cried, yes, I believe it was about four times that I caught myself with tears rolling down my face. And while you really can't fully replicate the power of an adaptation from a book to a movie, "The Help" completely delivered. An amazing cast for sure - I predict an Oscar nom for the amazing Viola Davis. That woman is incredible and I must say, there was a surprisingly strong and powerful performance by Octavia Spencer.

To have read the book and knowing the entire plot line, as a viewer of the film, your breath is still taken away from the historical references of the civil rights era, the behavior of the southern folks and racism. Bryce Dallas Howard played the epitome of the racist housewife who definitely gets it in the end. (No pun intended.) Her crazy, slightly senile mother was played by the hilarious Sissy Spacek. Well done, Sissy! There is a revealing moment between Minnie and Hilly where you find yourself nearly peeing your pants because of Sissy Spacek's character's outburst.

I thought Emma Stone was perfectly cast as the tenacious, courageous Skeeter. This is one busy girl as she's currently in "Crazy Stupid Love" and will play Spiderman's love interest in the next Spidey flick titled "The Amazing Spiderman". She is also rumored to be dating her co-star Andrew Garfield. Her mother was played by the lovely Allison Janney, who I loved as the kooky mother in "Juno" and most notably as C.J. on "The West Wing".

Keep an eye on Jessica Chastain, playing the wild and loving outsider, Celia Foote. And her gorgeous husband played by Mike Vogel. Perhaps you remember him in the hand-held shot fantasy/sci-fi film, "Cloverfield" and the comedy "She's Out of My League". And there's even a brief role of a strong-minded Harper Collins publisher played by Mary Steenburgen. Oh and how can I forget that "True Blood" was in the house as Lafayette's Nelson Ellis and the crazy pastor's wife in Season 2 who cheated with Jason Stackhouse, actress Anna Camp.

Go see this film - it is so worth it!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Go See: "Midnight in Paris"

It was movie catch-up weekend for me and I finally saw the much-anticipated Woody Allen film, "Midnight in Paris", which was a star-studded adventure. Aside from it being shot in one of the world's most romantic cities, you fell in love with the incredible cast. It was refreshing to see Rachel McAdams in a role where she's not the happy-go-lucky, nice girl next door (and a bit obsessed with wearing a belt with every outfit) and Owen Wilson's character, Gil, took on the reminiscent, overly talkative character which is found in a typical Woody Allen film.

And like Woody Allen films, he takes you on a journey through the city and through time both physically and mentally. We travel to Versailles with Gil and Inez, being educated by Michael Sheen's character, Paul, who is an uber intellect, and his girlfriend played by broadway actress, Nina Arianda. The struggling writer, Gil, discovers one drunken night, a way to transport himself (and his imagination) to the roaring 20's in Paris. Gil finds himself rubbing elbows with the likes of Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Sayre, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Man Ray - just to give you an idea. I imagine that I was sitting a couple of rows away from an art historian when I saw this film as this guy was constantly laughing throughout the film meaning the actors must have portrayed these artists to their full intentions.

Now skeptics may wonder who could have the audacity and talent to represent these iconic figures in the art world but you know me, my brain is searching for what other films these actors are in. So, let's begin with my mind wondering to who played Ernest Hemingway. Something seemed so familiar with him yet I couldn't place it but it was the actor Corey Stoll. Turns out this bloke was in "Salt" playing the russian spy "Shnaider", and then he goes and plays an LAPD Detective on "Law and Order: LA." F. Scott Fitzgerald was portrayed by the UK actor, Tom Hiddleston. He was in "Thor" and will be in a couple of films coming out over the next year, including "The Avengers". Playing his crazy, drunken lady love Zelda Sayre is the amazing Alison Pill, who I loved in "Milk" and the indie flick "Pieces of April". (And she recently became engaged to actor Jay Baruchel.) Feminist Gertrude Stein was played by Kathy Bates who has experience portraying historic characters - don't you remember her playing Molly Brown on "Titanic"? Perhaps one of my favorite portrayals (and because I am quite keen on him), was Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali. With his pencil-thin moustache and wild references to rhinos, it immediately made me log onto wikipedia to answer my curiousity. (BTW, Dali's rhino reference was symbolic to him as he believed it signified divine geometry, along with chastity and the Virgin Mary. Artists!) Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, the argentinian actor, producer and director played the anguished Pablo Picasso and the kicker...are you ready for it? His muse and mistress Adriana was played by the angelic Marion Cotillard. Need I say more?

If I missed anyone, well, it wasn't on purpose as there were so many fine actors in this film. Even the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni. So, I highly recommend this film - you will be fully entertained and maybe even a bit educated.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rent It! - The Green Hornet

Now, I like a good action flick, just like every other girl out there. I know we all may seem like we want to watch some mushy romantic comedy but there is the alter ego inside each of us girls that want to see some Jackie Chan, blow-em-up, opening of whoop asses on the bad guys. I, for sure, am one of those and was bummed that I was not able to see "The Green Hornet" when it was in the theaters. So, after a sensible Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred home workout, I decided to treat myself to an On-Demand flick. I am partial to Seth Rogen and feel like he plays the same type of slightly arrogant, smart-ass guy in every film - ummm, like in "Knocked Up", "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express" - oh, need I go on? Nonetheless, I often forget that out of this typical character stereotype that he plays, he is also a pretty damn good writer. Yes, he co-wrote "The Green Hornet" and has an impressive resume such as writing for the hit show "Da Ali G Show", "Drillbit Taylor", "Superbad" and even an episode for my old employer, "The Simpsons".

I enjoyed this film because of the genius-ness of what the co-star's (Jay Chou) character brought to the table. Of course an asian guy can build a machine to make a spectacular cup of coffee, then create and build the most technically advanced, hidden weaponed, batallion-type car which was reminiscent of a more humble version of the Batmobile. However, I was curious to see how Jay Chou would do as I know his English is or was limited when he shot this. And I know that from personal experience as I had produced a photo shoot where he was the lead talent for a Sprite ad. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he is considered the chinese Justin Timberlake.

This film was based on the original radio series, self-titled "The Green Hornet". Makes sense! I was surprised to find out that Michel Gondry directed this film which seemed such a departure from his indie, emotionally driven films such as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Be Kind Rewind". But it kept it's pace and even had some very cool special effects during the action scenes.

One of my favorite character actors in this film was Christoph Waltz, who does an amazing job of playing menacing, evil characters. I'm not even sure I would believe him if he were in a "good guy" role as he does such a good job playing a nasty scoundrel. Remember him as the abusive husband and circus owner in "Water for Elephants" or as the vindictive Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds". He can play such vile characters and still retain his native German accent, does that add to his dark sided characters? Perhaps.

Let's not forget that we have the sassy, smarty pants Cameron Diaz in this film, who plays a no-nonsense secretary to Seth Rogen's character. There was even a small role for ex-police chief in Miami Vice, Edward James Olmos. And if you blinked, you might have just missed them, which I nearly did - Edward Furlong AND James Franco were in this film. Guess Franco and Rogen have that "Pineapple Express" bond. Or it could be that mary jane connection that brought them closer together.

So, enjoy this film and allow it to take you on "The Green Hornet" ride.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Go See: "Water For Elephants"

I think I'm still on my "high" of seeing this highly emotional film, "Water For Elephants", which was based on a #1 NY Times best-selling book, written by Sara Gruen. This is yet one in a million times that I had wished I had discovered the book before the film was made. Mental note to self: Read "The Help" written by Kathryn Stockett before seeing the movie which comes out this fall starring Emma Stone and Viola Davis.

I went into this film thinking it was going to be a charming, romantic film between the two main characters, Jacob (Edward Pattinson) and Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) but there was so much more to this story - drama, touch of comedy and yes, romance (more like a love triangle). There is also a bit of animal cruelty (assimilated, of course) so if you are an animal lover, you will have a hard time stomaching some of the scenes. And, there's always a bad guy in every romance story so who better to play than "Inglorious Basterds's" Christoph Waltz. Mr. Watlz is amazing at playing a bad guy and well, let me just say that karma comes back around for his character in this film.

I won't give anything away but at the beginning of the film, it does start out with an old Hollywood icon, Hal Holbrook reminiscing about his early days, regailing his tale to a young fellow circus guy. It reminded me of "Titanic" where you hope the narrating character doesn't keel over before she finishes her epic tale of forbidden love.

Spoiler alert! (Ok, so I lied!) I will tell you this - there is one female lead in this film and she steals the show, even right out from under Reese's feet. I will say that she is 42 years old, is about 8'8" and weighs 9,000 pounds. No, I'm not talking about a cast-off from "The Biggest Loser" but I will tell you that her name is - Tai. You can read more about her here.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, step right up and feast your eyes on this amazing trailer!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can't Wait: Midnight in Paris

Sometimes Woody Allen films are like a sweet, sweet indulgence as they take you on a journey into an international fantasy world. That might sound creepy coming from an asian gal with a middle name similar to the likes of Woody's ex-adopted-stepdaughter-now-turned-wife. Oh get over it, will you?

I'm excited to see his upcoming film, "Midnight in Paris", which stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen (hmmm, now it makes total sense how him and Rachel hooked up in real life!), Marion Cotillard, Alison Pill, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody and even the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni. What a freaking kick-ass cast!

I am overall a huge fan of Woody Allen but sometimes he can go a bit far off the deep end to where I just don't have the energy to participate in. But lately, I have grown so fond of the way he brings an audience and viewer in by creating these gorgeously shot films on location in the perfect international cities. For instance, when he shot on location in Barcelona (ummm, hello - "Vicki Christina Barcelona") and shot in London for "Scoop" and "Match Point" with his muse in both films - Scarlett Johansson, you really felt like you were there in that city, experiencing what those characters felt in their own visual journey. I feel like it's similar to Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation", where in some certain scenes, she showed you a Tokyo that you might not have been familiar with.

So save the date of May 11th when this film releases in the U.S. and go see it!

Finally Saw: "Love & Other Drugs"

Aw yes, let me first start by saying that I took a hiatus away from life and writing. But I am now re-energized after taking a mini-break to London last week where in a future post(s) will explain my love for british tv sitcoms and dramas. But that's a whole 'nother time, so I digress while I sit here eating my Maltesers and Wymans Wine Gums...

...I must give a shout out to Air New Zealand as I was a bit hesitant at first with this airline, but I give them a hefty two thumbs-up if you're taking a non-stop trip from LAX to Heathrow. With it being such a long flight, you are offered a plethora of newly released films which made me salivate. I fought my chronic narcolepsy on a plane as much as I could and in the end, only one film won in it's entirety and that was "Love & Other Drugs" which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. I enjoyed this film, as I usually would enjoy any film where you might catch a glimpse of a nearly naked Jake, and found the relationship between his character, Jamie, and Anne Hathaway's character, Maggie, quite the opposite as to what happens in real romantic relationships. Never would you find the ultimate "player" guy falling for a girl with parkinson's disease who chooses to only use him for sex and denies him the right of being his girlfriend. Never would you find a girl who is afraid of commitment after this guy actively pursues this girl and even confesses that he loves her. Okay, I may sound a tad cynical but I liked this film because it showed a complete reversal of emotion in how we generally perceive how a "player" operates. This is also a fictional film, might I remind us of that.

"Love & Other Drugs" was directed by Edward Zwick and I found it a nice departure from his previous epic and profilic films such as: "Defiance", "The Last Samurai", "Courage Under Fire" and "Legends of the Fall". I enjoyed the cast which included Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria (loved him from my "Simpsons" days - yes, I used to work on the show and no, I was not the voice of Bart), Josh Gad (why does he seem familiar? He played Jonathan Ame's arch-enemy ex-BF of his lover on "Bored to Death" and was also in "21"), George Segal, Gabriel Macht and Judy Greer.

So go see this film - and thank me later.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Go See: The Fighter

On average, I am blown away by one film a year and this year, already, I nominate "The Fighter" as taking that honor. Last year it was "The Social Network" and did I not predict Oscar noms for that film. Come on, hello! I recently saw (since I'm still behind on all the Oscar nominated and Oscar winning films) what was a freaking brilliant performance by not just the ever-so-talented character actor, Christian Bale, but a kick-ass performance by Mark Wahlberg, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams.

I was surprised that David O. Russell directed this as I think of quirky comedies when he comes to mind such as "I Heart Huckabees" (wait, didn't you remember that Mark Wahlberg was also in this flick?) or the Ben Stiller comedy "Flirting with Disaster". But let's not forget that he directed the war drama, "Three Kings" starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg (Marky Mark love affair brewing non-stop here!) and Ice Cube. I noticed that Mr. Darren Aronofsky is an executive producer of this film. Come on, Darren, aren't you getting enough attention from your little ballet film, ahem, "Black Swan"?

I find this film even more intriguing as it's based on the real story of the famous boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund . Rumor has it that Christian Bale never broke character, even when he wasn't filming. And it was all worth it as he won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and Melissa Leo won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

Check out the trailer - and catch this film while it's still in the theaters.