"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Thursday, December 4, 2014

And the 24th Bond film will be called....

Photos Source:

Lots of James Bond news coming out of UK's Pinewood Studios today.  Like huge news!  The 24th Bond film will be titled Spectre and most of the cast and crew from Skyfall returns to continue the legendary spy's adventures.

Director Sam Mendes was on hand today to divulge new information about Bond 24.  First up, the film's name is officially confirmed.  It's Spectre, which stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge And Extortion, a terrorist organisation which was around in the earlier Bond films. Makes sense as the newest films have been quite interested in Bond's past.

Also revealed was the cast with Daniel Craig back as Bond, Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as the new M (I miss you already, Judi Dench!). Now to the newcomers, the Bond ladies include Monica Belluci and Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista from Guardians of the Galaxy as Mr. Hinx and two more cast additions that are bound to raise eyebrows, Andrew Scott (Sherlock) as Denbigh and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser.

For you car aficionados out there, a new Aston Martin was also announced.  What intrigues me is the official synopsis: “A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”  Raise your hand if you're already thinking MOLE!! Spectre hits theatres less than a year from now on November 6, 2015.  

TV Movie Review: Toy Story That Time Forgot

The newest TV special featuring those loveable toys from the Toy Story universe with Toy Story That Time Forgot is yet another win for the franchise.  The holiday event shows us why we can't get enough of these characters and why it warrants another feature film with Toy Story 4. Pixar head John Lasseter returns to directing for the film due to release June 16, 2017.  While the story for the new feature is by directors Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, the screenplay will be written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack who wrote Celeste and Jesse Forever.

Coming back to Toy Story That Time Forgot, this time around, the much neglected dinosaurs Rex (voiced by Wallace Shawn) and Trixie (voiced by Kristen Schaal) step into the limelight when they accompany Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen) and their pal Bonnie (voiced by Emily Hahn) to a post-Christmas play date.  While Bonnie and her friend Mason get distracted playing video games, the toys go off exploring on their own and they discover the new world of Battlesaurs who really dig being Battlesaurs. Translation: They don't know they're toys. "Incredible, isn't it?" states Buzz.

Led by the power-hungry Cleric (voiced by Steve Purcell), the Battlesaurs pit Mason's toys in an arena against each other.  These dinosaurs aren't messing around. You fight to the death.  As Woody, Buzz and Rex's lives are on the line, it's up to Trixie (questioning her own dinosaur-ness) to find Bonnie and be the heroine.

I don't know how Pixar manages to add new and interesting characters to this decades old franchise like the Angel Kitty (voiced by Emma Hudak) who is at once hilarious and adorable and Reptillus Maximus (voiced by Kevin McKidd), the new love interest for Trixie.  The story manages to serve both the old and new characters well.

For those of you who may have had enough of Toy Story, don't give this funny and sweet holiday special a miss.  For long-time Toy Story fans, there's so much these characters have yet to say and I look forward to seeing these new characters (hopefully) in Toy Story 4 too.  Especially Angel Kitty! Her words of wisdom need to go on some motivational posters.

Written and Directed by Steve Purcell; Edited by David Suther; Music by Michael Giacchino


New Character Posters and Videos from Pixar's Inside Out

It's time to meet the five emotions that take centre stage in next June's Inside Out, the first original outing for Pixar since 2012's Brave. Have a look at Disgust, Anger, Fear, Sadness and Joy, the little voices who reside in young Riley's head.

Meet Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling)

                     Meet Anger (voiced by Lewis Black)

               Meet Fear (voiced by Bill Hader)

            Meet Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith)

          And finally, meet Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens Trailer

It's not coming out until after a year from now but the first teaser from the ongoing saga of the Star Wars has made its presence felt. And how! I was excited in anticipation all day knowing it was coming tonight (early US morning) and now it's finally here, well, I've got to say, I'm not on the fence anymore on whether we needed another Star Wars movie.  These are the original sci-fi heroes and heroines of our childhood, and now we'll have new heroes and heroes to meet.

The first face we see (literally) is John Boyega (Attack the Block) in Stormtrooper outfit after a voice intones "There's been an awakening. Have you felt it?" What's that about? Well, no time to process info because the next shots come at us fast and furious: there's a cute little robot, Stormtroopers, the new 'Leia' maybe with Daisy Ridley playing an unknown character escaping from someone, Oscar Isaac as a pilot, the Sith with a completely badass lightsaber and the shot we've all been waiting for, the return of the beloved Millennium Falcon set to that familiar John Williams composed theme for Star Wars.  And then the title, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a long wait... December 2015.

No appearances as yet from other key actors like Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Lupita N'yongo or Max Von Sydow who are also cast in The Force Awakens. Oh, and apparently some older actors named Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are also part of this film.  I wonder how Luke, Han and Leia fit into this new universe. We have to lots to guess before the next trailer hits.

So folks are you officially excited that a new Star Wars universe film will greet us next Christmas? Thoughts?

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, it struck me how faithful to the book and the characters the movies remain. More so than even the Harry Potter series. Don't get me wrong, I thought the Harry Potter movies were great but I was always glad I had the books to return to.

In the case of The Hunger Games, no little detail goes unmentioned. And the characters remain true to the books. I could see Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss wrestle with her inner demons and fears just as I could imagine Katniss struggling in the books. I've said it with the previous films as well that Lawrence is the glue that holds the series together. We are centred through her experiences in this journey to make it to the other end, alive.

When we last left Katniss rescued by the rebels from the Quarter Quell had just been told that her district, the only home she's ever know, has been destroyed and she's now in District 13. Needless to say, Katniss has many questions and so do we. Here in 13, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is in charge, flanked by Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright). They try to convince her to join the fight against the Capitol but Katniss refuses to budge until she knows what happened to Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).

Of course, Katniss does agree to be their Mockingjay eventually once she realizes she can bargain with Coin for Peeta and the rest of the tributes' lives.  From therefore, we are launched into a full-fledged uprising as the citizens and top brass of District 13 try to reach out to the other Districts to unite against President Snow (Donald Sutherland).  Snow is just as callous and evil as other film installments of this series. While he wants to quash the rebels, he is also involved in a battle of wills with Katniss.  He knows her deepest fears and attacks them ruthlessly. 

We are also updated into the lives of the other non-Tribute characters.  Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) is reduced to wearing grays, a colour that she probably knew existed.  Primrose (Willow Shields), Katniss's younger sister, is training to be a doctor.  And Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is training for war.

War is completely at the forefront in this film.  Katniss is held up by Coin and Heavensbee as the symbol of hope, the reason to keep fighting.  As we read about citizens protesting for basic human and civil rights around the world in 2014, the events of Mockingjay set in probable dystopian future does resonate.  Could this be the future we one day inherit if we are not careful? This does require a lot of pondering. 

However, the Mockingjay Part 1 is setting up the scenario for the final battle. And leaving a lot of questions up in the air.  How will Katniss get her Peeta back? How will the Districts rise up to take down the Capitol? What will their future entail? And will any of them make it out alive?

The A-list cast (most of them Academy and Emmy winners and nominees) are top-notch.  I thought the scenes negotiating Katniss's Mockingjay terms with Moore and Hoffman were wonderful. The film is dedicated to Philip Seymour Hoffman, he will deeply missed.  Moore is a welcome addition as the unreadable but tough President Coin. 

Jennifer Lawrence knows Katniss like a second skin, Katniss is much more vulnerable in this film, she not only has to worry about her friends and family. She now holds the burden of what happens to other Districts as well.  Woody Harrelson as Haymitch is completely underused and I wanted more scenes with Effie, she brings some humour to very serious film.

Director Francis Lawrence is much more comfortable in the world and characters in his second film in this series and it shows.  The details of the underground world of District 13 were just as I imagined them while reading.  Though aboveground, District 13 boasts of lush green forests and soothing rivers, it wasn't quite the broken, barren District reduced to rubble from the books.  Most of the cast also spends a majority of time in dull grays, browns and black uniforms.  Those eye-popping costumes from the previous films, (RIP Cinna), are sorely missed as well.  

Fans of The Hunger Games series will no doubt like the film but like I rushed through reading Mockingjay in one go when I got the book, I wished the film wasn't broken down into parts. But then again, it does leave you wanting more.  

Directed by Francis Lawrence; Screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong; Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins; Cinematography by Jo Willems; Edited by Alan Edward Bell and Mark Yoshikawa; Music by James Newton Howard

Additional cast: Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer


What I'm Thankful for in 2014: Movies Edition

There's so much to be thankful about every year: family, friends, your health.  But I always make it a point to make a list of movies I'm thankful for. Why? As Mel Brooks once said, "Movies saved my life. They rescued my soul."  I feel the same way.  Through the good times and the bad times, they've been my companion in life.  So without further ado, here's my list of top 5!

1) Book adaptations: There were some great book to film adaptations out this year from Gone Girl to The Fault in Our Stars to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.  And while they stayed faithful to the original material, they have retained their voice.  All of these films debuted at number one at the box office, a pretty impressive feat.  Who says the book is better?

2) The LEGO Movie: I'm still humming the crazily catchy 'Everything is Awesome' from the extremely funny and clever The LEGO Movie from co-directors and writers, Chris Miller and Phil Lord.  With a surprisingly emotional core and hilarious interpretations of iconic characters (I loved Will Arnett's angsty Batman), the animated film was meta to the extreme. But hey, it worked, I can't remember another film where there were more adults for an animated film than children.

3) Comic book adaptations: From March until the end of summer, you couldn't go far without bumping into a comic book film.  They were everywhere, from the universes featuring Spider-Man, some Avengers, X-Men and even some new Guardians of the Galaxies.  And there's here to stay, as is evidenced by both Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios both unveiling a superhero franchise lineup that goes deep in 2020. And I'm afraid that's only the start as The Guardians of the Galaxy proved with claiming the number one this summer season.  Clearly, this audience wants more.

4) Time Travel: This oft used trope was back early this summer in two highly enjoyable films, The Edge of Tomorrow (a clever sci fi Groundhog Day starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt for 2014) and X-Men: Days of Future Past where the X-Men generations past and present collided in an A-list bonanza that audiences loved.

5) Hiccup and Toothless: It was a long wait but 2014 featured the return of one of my most favorite animated duos, Hiccup and Toothless, older and wise, but just as adorable in How to Train Your Dragon 2.  Their friendship goes through some pretty difficult tests in the second film from the trilogy and that ominous line about Toothless's future has me pretty worried for the finale.  But, until then, let's enjoy the lovable antics these two get into up high in the skies.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The host of the 2015 Oscars is...

Multi-talented, multi-hyphenated Neil Patrick Harris is the new host of the 2015 Oscars. This is pretty awesome.  This will be the first time the actor is hosting the Oscars, although he has hosted the Emmys twice and the Tonys four times.  He also an Emmy and an Tony.  Hmmmm, methinks he aiming for the EGOT of hosting AND winning.  That Barney Stintson always was an overachiever.  Harris is currently starring in David Fincher's Gone Girl which could quite possibly be nominated for some awards itself come Oscar day.  The Academy Awards airs live worldwide on February 22, 2015.  

New Trailers: Tomorrowland, Foxcatcher and Focus!

Shortly after the first images were released from Disney's Tomorrowland (2015), the first teaser was unveiled too. Starring Britt Robertson as Casey as young girl who stumbles across a secret world (aka Tomorrowland) by possessing a very special pin. This first teaser shows us how Casey comes about that pin. Also making an appearance in the trailer is George Clooney as former boy-genius Frank Walker who promises "a secret place, where nothing is impossible. A miraculous place where you could actually change the world." I'm ready to go, Frank! Tomorrowland releases worldwide on May 22, 2015.


Director Bennett Miller's (Capote, Moneyball) next is based on the true story of millionaire Jon du Pont (played by an unrecognisable Steve Carell) and his involvement with the Schulz brothers, Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo).  This longer trailer shows how du Pont's sponsorship of Mark for national and international competitions complicates relationships between them all.  And spoiler alert, things do not end well!! Miller has already won the Best Director award at Cannes this year and big things are expected from Foxcatcher this awards season.  Foxcatcher releases November 14, 2014.

There was a time when Will Smith dominated the box-office with his films. But since taking a four-year hiatus from films and coming back with less than stellar cinema (Men in Black 3, After Earth), Smith needs to bring back some of his old mojo. Focus, a romantic thriller, pairs him with Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) as two con artists who were once romantically involved. Three years later, they meet again in Buenos Aires and throw a wrench in each other's con games. Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Recqua (Crazy, Stupid, Love.), Focus releases next year on February 27, 2015. I've missed a good Will Smith movie and this one hopefully shows Smith back in form. Unfortunately, the release date (right after the Oscars) is maybe not the best opening for the film. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Images from Disney's Tomorrowland

My favorite place in Disney's Epcot Center is Tomorrowland. Always has been. As a child, I thought it was the coolest 'lands', mainly because of the future it promised.  Oh, think of the flying cars!! It's one of life's greatest disappointments that there are no flying cars.  Disney's big summer tentpole for 2015, Tomorrowland, hopefully has some flying cars.  The mysterious project, directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), has long been under production without much information... until now!

Entertainment Weekly has some cool new images - showing the concept art and stills from the upcoming film.  

Concept Art from Disney's Tomorrowland (2015)

Britt Robertson as Casey Newton in Tomorrowland (2015)

George Clooney as Frank Walker with Britt Robertson in Tomorrowland (2015)
A quick look on Disney's website brings up this synopsis of the film:

From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever. Featuring a screenplay by “Lost” writer & co-creator Damon Lindelof & Brad Bird, from a story by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird & Jeff Jensen, “Tomorrowland” promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.

Most intriguing is Lost co-creator and writer (who also co-wrote this screenplay) Damon Lindelof's take on the film. He says, “What Hogwarts is to magic, Tomorrowland is to science: They are both easy to find if you are a wizard and very difficult to find if you’re a Muggle."  Curiouser and curiouser.  I'm loving the Potter references and adding this to next year's list of eagerly awaited films.

Tomorrowland also stars Hugh Laurie, Judy Greer and Keegan-Michael Key and releases on May 22, 2015.  Check out the Entertainment Weekly article on Tomorrowland to read more of what the filmmakers have to say about the film.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

First Teaser Trailer for Pixar's Inside Out

It feels like it's been such a long time since we've seen a Pixar film and looking at some old friends (Dory, Woody, Remy, Merida and more) at the beginning of the first teaser trailer for Inside Out, the next offering from the famed animation studio, those old emotions are coming back again.  Did I say emotions? That's funny! Because director Pete Docter's Inside Out is all about emotions. Specifically, the emotions that reside inside 11-year-old Riley, who wrestles with Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) in her head.  The film takes us through Riley's journey as she adjusts to a new life in a new city after her father moves their family to San Francisco.  Inside Out releases on June 19, 2015.  My question: Why do we have to wait that long? I want to see this now!

The Theory of Everything Trailer

The second trailer for the keenly anticipated biopic The Theory of Everything, based on the extraordinary life of Dr. Stephen Hawking hit the web yesterday. The film highlights Hawkings's days at university, his theoretic work and research of the black holes, time and relativity and of course, the relationship with his wife Jane Wilde. The Theory of Everything stars young British thespians Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as his wife Jane. I've wanted to see this ever since I saw the first trailer and this second trailer only solidifies my interest even more. The film, directed by James Marsh, releases on November 7, 2014.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Trailer

"It's the things we love most that destroy us." Poor Katniss Everdeen! All she ever wanted to was keep her sister safe and keep Peeta alive in the Hunger Games. Instead, she's involved in an all-out war against the Capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland).  In the newest trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is the Rebels' Mockingjay as the stakes have been escalated and no one is safe this time around.  While the Rebels have Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman), we get a first look at President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Cressida (Natalie Dormer).  Old and familiar characters are much changed as well.  Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) looks absolutely unrecognizable without her customary colorful flair and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) seems quite unlike himself too.  But with the Mockingjay at the helm, we all have faith that it's all going to turn out okay.  Eventually.  With the Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence back for another installment and a screenplay by Danny Strong (Lee Daniels' The Butler) and Peter Craig, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will release in theaters around the world on November 21, 2014.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's Bill Murray Day at TIFF!

Today is 'Bill Murray Day' at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). What an incredibly cool day!  His iconic movies including Ghostbusters will be screened and the premiere of his upcoming film St. Vincent will be held. The usually reticent Murray will also participate in a Q & A afterwards.  There's even a Bill Murray costume contest! This is has to be made into an annual event.  My favourite Bill Murray is, of course, Groundhog Day. What's your favorite Bill Murray film?

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Trailer: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The surprising sequel that most people didn't see coming, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has a brand new trailer.  Returning director John Madden and cast Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton from 2011's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are joined by newcomers Richard Gere, David Straithairn and Tamsin Greig.  Taking place eight months after the first film, we check in with the guests and staff of the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and the Beautiful (great hotel name, by the way) and how they're doing.  It's seems they're all doing well now that Richard Gere has joined them. Of course, they are!  Though I had to sigh at that random shot of an elephant in the trailer.  Yes, we have elephants in India, Hollywood! Please get over it by now.  The film releases on March 6, 2015.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Movie Review: Like Father, Like Son

The above poster features the tagline 'At what point does a father truly become a father?'.  Hirokazu Kore-eda's Like Father, Like Son (Soshite chichi ni naru) explores themes of family and fatherhood in this extremely moving film that just might have you reaching for the whole box of the tissues and not just a single tissue.  

As much as I love French comedies for their absurdities and boisterousness, I love Japanese dramas that quietly bring home the point with beautiful storytelling and emotions.  I expected no less with Kore-eda's latest.  The story deals with two vastly different families - the Nonomiyas and the Saikis - who have two young boys just about to start school.  When the Saikis discover through a blood test, that their son and their DNA doesn't match, it all leads to a possible accidental swap at the hospital the day he was born.  Suddenly, the Nonomiya's orderly world is threatened as well and their fears come true.  Their son is not their biological son.

Both families are devastated to learn this and at the first meeting negotiated by the hospital, awkwardness and anger ensues. Though not at each other but at the strange turn of circumstances.  The hospital would like them to swap children as soon as possible as the boys are still young and might not be affected much once they get older.  However, the parents are much more reluctant.  The situation is unique and the wounds are still raw.  They decide to meet frequently to get to know each other more. 

Thorough these meetings, the differences between the two families are never more evident.  The Nonomiyas are the wealthier of the two and live in a modern high-rise apartment building in the city while the Saikis live in a small cramped house two hours from the city and behind their hardware store.  The contrast between the two little boys is more so.  Keita Nonomiya is a thoughtful, quiet only child and Ryusei Saiki is the playful eldest of three. They are the reflections of two opposite styles of parenting.

Ryota Nonomiya (Fukuyama Masaharu) is at times cold, demanding workaholic who believes that one should be independent.  Therefore little Keita learns the piano even though he's only fair at it, attends a top-end school and has impeccable manners.  Ryusei is more outgoing, chews through his straw while sipping a drink and focuses all his attention on his handheld video game.  In short, the boys have much to learn from each other.

But they never do get that much time to as their parents decide on swapping them on weekends as they ease into swapping them for good eventually.  Keita and Ryusei are bewildered at this sudden change and look upon it initially as a mini-vacation that suddenly turns into a permanent situation.  They have now to call these strangers 'father' and 'mother' and get used to a whole new way of life. 

As do their parents, having prepared for their future in one way and have to rethink how to approach their own sons.  Writer-director Kore-eda chooses to hones in on the two fathers, Yukari and especially Ryota.  Ryota is a self-made architect while Yudai (Lily Franky) is more fun-loving and has a more hands on approach to raising his three children.  He fixes toys, takes them to fly kites and is an equal hand to raising his kids with his wife Yukari (Maki Yoko).  Meanwhile, Midori Nonomiya (Ono Machiko) might as well be raising Keita alone for all the time he spends at work.

Like Father, Like Son won the Jury Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.  The jury featured directors Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee, both of whom have explored the often difficult relationship between fathers and sons.  In fact, the Spielberg-owned DreamWorks has officially commissioned a Hollywood remake of the film.  But I urge you to first watch the original because I am sure that much will be lost in the cultural transfer.  

Kore-eda's editing has fewer cuts and gives the movie a slow pace that most Western audiences won't be used to.  But I enjoyed the camera lingering on its subjects and showing the action from the viewpoints of the little boys as well.  The children in this feature, especially little Keita with his expressive, emotional eyes, are the big reason to tune in to this film.  And unlike Hollywood, here the dramatic outbursts are kept to a bare minimum.  It takes many things to become a father, one of which is unconditional love, as the characters find out themselves in their own sweet time.  That's a good thing, a really good thing. Like Father, Like Son joins my list of favourite Japanese films alongside Tokyo Story, Rashomon, Departures and more.  Do watch it if you can.  

Written, Edited and Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda; Cinematography by Takimoto Mikiya; Music by Takeshi Matsubara, Junichi Matsumoto, Takashi Mori


Monday, July 7, 2014

Gone Girl: Teaser Evidence Posters

The last time I blogged (3 months ago!) it was about Gone Girl. So it's only fitting that my return post should also be about one of my most long-awaited films of the year.

The David Fincher-directed film has a clever marketing campaign. Ahead of its first trailer release, four different 'evidence' posters have been released online as teasers on popular websites for film news.  The first of which appeared on Huffington Post, the second on Awards Daily, the third on Indiewire and the final and fourth on Hitfix.  Have a look at the intriguing posters below:

Source: Awards Daily

Source: Hitfix

Source: Indiewire

If you've read the novel on which the film is based, these posters should make you very happy because this means the film is on the right track.  It has captured the right tone of the book.  It makes me very happy indeed and very much like a student who is sitting for an exam I have actually studied for.  Can't wait for the new trailer to arrive on July 7th.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gone Girl Trailer: Have you seen Amy?

"I did not kill my wife. I am not a murderer." Those chilling words at the end of the first trailer released today for David Fincher's upcoming adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel, Gone Girl sum up the feel of the movie. Starring Ben Affleck as Nick and Rosamund Pike as Amy, the trailer is set to the track of 'She' sung by Charles Aznavour underlying the major cracks in their relationship leading up to Amy's disappearance and the emergence of Nick as the likely and only suspect.  Dark, chilly with hints of the menace yet to come, this is what we expected of Fincher and this film.  Gone Girl also stars Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Scoot McNairy and will release in theatres on October 3, 2014.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie Review: Veronica Mars

“A long time ago, we used to be friends… “ Stop me if this theme song is familiar to you in any way, because a long time ago, you used to be a marshmallow. Yes, Marshmallows, it’s our time in the spotlight as Veronica Mars, the feature film, finally landed on March 14, 2014, a year after its historic and game-changing Kickstarter campaign. The most popular girl-detective (sorry, Nancy Drew!) is back with a new saga for the big screen that not only changes her life but has potentially life-changing decisions for several other characters in Neptune verse.

For the uninitiated, Veronica Mars was the titular lead character on a not-so-successful series of the same name on The CW. Set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, Veronica (played by the winning Kirsten Bell) is the daughter of the disgraced sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Conlatoni) who finds herself ostracized from her school, her community and her best friend’s family during a murder investigation of said best friend Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried). Of course, this unique genre of high school noir became instantly likable with its snarky dialogue (a la Joss Whedon), great storytelling across seasons and some amazing guest stars (two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, Academy Award winner Melissa Leo and Emmy winner Aaron Paul all had small parts on the show). The series regulars, were just as talented, as most of them have gone on to successful film and TV careers. Yet I imagine they were always associated with their parts on Veronica Mars, the TV show which was cruelly canceled due to low numbers in 2007.

But here we are seven years later, with a triumphant return on silver screen as we meet Veronica and her Scooby gang reunited in Neptune as a murder investigation and a high school reunion loom large among other unresolved issues. To recap, Veronica has moved on since college and is about to join a prestigious law firm. She has a supportive boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell) who, if you can recall, she also dated in college. But that's where the California ties end for Veronica. No more investigations, no more stakeouts, no more dangers. So she thinks.

Veronica gets pulled back in the game as her other ex-boyfriend, a certain Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is accused of murdering his musician girlfriend, Bonnie DeVille aka Carrie Bishop, a girl they both went to high school with. Once Veronica is back in Neptune, no matter how she tries, she falls into the rhythms of the past much easier than she or anyone else expected. There are fake identities, suspects to be interrogated and sheriffs to piss off. In short, it's the good old days.

Old friends and foes, such as Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Mac (Tina Majorino), Eli (Francis Capra) and Madison are back as are fan favourite characters, Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield) and Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) delighting us with their brief appearances. This is the reason why the film exists in the first place, because the fans weren't done with Veronica and her world just as yet. So the reunions are brief as multiple plot lines are introduced, with several character's futures at stake. The solving of the murder mystery is pure Veronica at her best, recruiting her friends and stepping up her game to find out who wants to harm Logan.

Team Logan fans will be delighted with young Echolls' maturation since college, he's now in the Navy and trying to leave his wild days behind him. I said, trying... there is a roaring fistfight at the reunion that echoes Season 1 Logan nicely. But I must say, I wavered briefly and over onto the Team Piz borderline for a bit. But then, all it took was a Logan smoulder by his car and I was back. The rest of the Neptune gang has little time onscreen on a 107 minute film and the celeb cameos (including James Franco and Dax Shepard) will give you a quick chuckle, but the film ends, promisingly and tantalisingly, with the hope of future installments in Veronica-verse.

Veronica Mars is meant strictly for fans for original series who love the throwaway references and hints to the show's previous seasons but I hope it also tunes fans in to watching the series for the first time. And I strongly hope this isn't the last we've seen of Veronica and that it doesn't take another seven years or a college reunion to see her again.

Directed by Rob Thomas; Screenplay by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero; Cinematography by Ben Kutchins; Editing by Daniel Gabbe; Music by Josh Kramon

Additional cast: Krystan Ritter, Ryan Hansen, Gaby Hoffman, Jerry O'Connell, Martin Starr, Jamie Lee Curtis


Monday, March 3, 2014

My Oscar Picks 2014

Another year, another wonderful year for films! It has been touted as one of the competitive years where there is no clear frontrunner.  The acting categories are pretty much a lock but the rest of categories could go any way.  Read on for my picks for the 86th Academy Awards below.

Christian Bale in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” (Paramount)
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

Should win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Will win: Matthew McConaughey. As much as I want Leo to finally, finally one of these sometime in his career. McConaughey has an amazing past couple of years and his performance in Dallas Buyers Club is the culmination of his recent career choices. It would be pretty unbelievable if he wins her on his first try.

Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

Should win: Jared Leto
Will win: Jared Leto. He looks rock solid in this category. I'd be really surprised if he loses.
Amy Adams in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sandra Bullock in “Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Judi Dench in “Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)

Should win: Cate Blanchett
Will win: Cate Blanchett. If anyone can upset Blanchett here is Amy Adams who, on her fifth nomination, might breakthrough.

Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)
June Squibb in “Nebraska” (Paramount)

Should win: Lupita Nyong'o
Will win: Lupita Nyong'o.  The category has had many surprise winners in the past and possibly some one other than Lupita Nyong'o or Jennifer Lawrence might win. But really it is between the two of them and Lawrence stands to become the youngest actress with two Oscars before she turns 24 and also win consecutive Oscars.  Can she do it?

“The Croods” (20th Century Fox)
Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
“Despicable Me 2” (Universal)
Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
“Ernest & Celestine” (GKIDS)
Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
“Frozen” (Walt Disney)
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
“The Wind Rises” (Walt Disney)
Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

Should win: Frozen.
Will win: Frozen. The only real competition for Disney's buzzworthy and acclaimed winter hit is Hayao Miyazaki final masterpiece, The Wind Rises.

“The Grandmaster” (The Weinstein Company) Philippe Le Sourd
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Emmanuel Lubezki
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films) Bruno Delbonnel
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Phedon Papamichael
“Prisoners” (Warner Bros.) Roger A. Deakins

Should win: Roger A. Deakins.  His cinematography in Prisoners added so much texture to the mood and tone of the film.  
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki.  His innovativeness in his work on Gravity is astounding.  

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Michael Wilkinson
“The Grandmaster” (The Weinstein Company) William Chang Suk Ping
“The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Catherine Martin
“The Invisible Woman” (Sony Pictures Classics) Michael O’Connor
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Patricia Norris 

Should win: The Great Gatsby
Will win: The Great Gatsby.  If The Great Gatsby wins any Oscar, it's this one.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David O. Russell
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Alexander Payne
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Steve McQueen
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount) Martin Scorsese 

Should win: Alfonso Cuarón
Will win: Alfonso Cuarón.  I've read people predicting a possible upset by Steve McQueen in this category but I don't know, Gravity was completely his vision (he also wrote and edited the movie) so I really believe like Ang Lee last year, the most technically complicated film will be honored.

“The Act of Killing” (Drafthouse Films)
Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
“Cutie and the Boxer” (RADiUS-TWC)
Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
“Dirty Wars” (IFC Films)
Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
“The Square” (Netflix in association with Worldview
Entertainment and Participant Media)
Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
“20 Feet from Stardom” (RADiUS-TWC)
Nominees to be determined 

Should win: The Act of Killing.
Will win: The Act of Killing.

Jeffrey Karoff
“Facing Fear”
Jason Cohen
“Karama Has No Walls” (Mudhouse Films)
Sara Ishaq
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”
Edgar Barens

Should win: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Will win: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.  

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Joe Walker

Should win: Gravity.  It was the perfect film, all wrapped in 90 minutes.
Will win: American Hustle. Something tells me, it's either going to be this or Captain Phillips that will win here.

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (Tribeca Film) – Belgium
“The Great Beauty” (Janus Films) – Italy
“The Hunt” (Magnolia Pictures) – Denmark
“The Missing Picture” (Strand Releasing) – Cambodia
“Omar” (Adopt Films) – Palestine

Should win: Italy's The Great Beauty 
Will win: Italy's The Great Beauty 

“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” (Paramount) Stephen Prouty
“The Lone Ranger” (Walt Disney) Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Should win: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. I dissed its nomination earlier but the makeup is pretty impressive in the film.
Will win: Dallas Buyers Club. Simply because I keep reading everywhere about this $250 budget for makeup everywhere.  I want to see receipts, people!


“The Book Thief” (20th Century Fox) John Williams
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Steven Price
“Her” (Warner Bros.) William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company) Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Walt Disney) Thomas Newman

Should win: Thomas Newman for Saving Mr. Banks.  I really loved the score in the film.  
Will win: Gravity.  The music in Gravity was the third unseen character in the film.  The music evokes very strong emotions in it.

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” (Universal)
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from “Frozen” (Walt Disney)
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from “Her” (Warner Bros.)
Music by Karen O Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (The Weinstein Company)
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Lyric by Paul Hewson

Should win: Let It Go
Will win: Let It Go. This is the category I'm most emotionally invested in simply I want to watch an EGOT being crowned live.  I will be most upset if anyone else wins.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
“The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Catherine Martin; Costume Design: Beverley Dunn
“Her” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

Should win: Her.  I want to live in the world created by Her and its retro meets the future world. 
Will Win: The Great Gatsby. Okay, The Great Gatsby could also win its second Oscar here.  

Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
“Get a Horse!” (Walt Disney)
Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
“Mr. Hublot”
Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
Shuhei Morita
“Room on the Broom”
Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

Should win: Get a Horse!
Will win: Get a Horse! Can Disney make it a clean sweep with best animated feature and short film? I really think it has a great chance.

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” (FREAK Independent Film Agency)
Esteban Crespo
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”
Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
“The Voorman Problem”
Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

Should win: Helium.
Will win: Helium.  I heard the most about this film online so this becomes my default choice.

“All Is Lost” (Lionsgate & Roadside Attractions) Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Oliver Tarney
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Glenn Freemantle
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor” (Universal) Wylie Stateman

Should win: Gravity.
Will win: Gravity. I'm putting all my chips in the Gravity bag this time around with my fingers crossed. I hope this goes well.

“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges,
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films) Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor” (Universal) Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Should win: See above.
Will win: See above

“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3” (Walt Disney) Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger” (Walt Disney) Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (Paramount) Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Should and will win: Gravity is a definite lock here.

“Before Midnight” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount) Screenplay by Terence Winter

Should win: Before Midnight.
Will win: 12 Years a Slave.  Out of all the books in the categories, I feel 12 Years a Slave was the hardest to adapt, John Ridley has done an impressive job.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Woody Allen
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
“Her” (Warner Bros.) Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Written by Bob Nelson

Should win: Her.  My favourite screenplay from 2013.
Will win: American Hustle. I'm going to be devastated if Her and Spike Jonze doesn't win but something tells me that David O. Russell is not going empty handed at the 86th Oscars.  This seems the most obvious category.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)
Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
“Her” (Warner Bros.)
Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
“Nebraska” (Paramount)
Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Nominees to be determined

Should win: Gravity.  It's time that a intelligent and innovative film set in space should finally win and Gravity should be that film. I don't see The Avengers: Age of Ultron ending up in the Best Picture race, do you?
Will win: 12 Years a Slave. If not Gravity, then the only other best film of 2013 has to be 12 Years a Slave.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Movie Review: The LEGO Movie

There's been an influx of sequels and franchises in animation for the past few years so it's always great to welcome the new kid of the block when it comes to original content.  The LEGO Movie, the brainchild of filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller whose Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (a delightful and puntastic sequel) released a few months ago, is made up of 100% awesomeness.  This is a fact, you can go look it up.

Based on the toy building blocks that defined most of our childhoods, the film pits the free thinkers vs. the rule followers.  All of this combined in a clever package of humour, the right amount of pop culture and a small dash of emotion makes it hard to resist.  This oft-heard tale of an ordinary hero's epic journey opens with an old man proclaiming a prophecy about the "Special" one and a piece of resistance (Yes, really!). The wise one Vitruvius is voiced by Morgan Freeman (Who else?) states that one "most interesting and special" will save the world from the Kragle and liberate the rest of the MasterBuilders.

Enter Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt, who's adorably clueless in the part), an ordinary construction worker who's like the rest of the citizens of Bricksburg and just longs to be a part of a group to belong to.  He has lived his whole life by the rules, doesn't question authority and is pretty much a nobody.  Until the day he runs into Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) aka the girl of his dreams (we know this to be true because she is introduced in slow-motion closeup) at the construction site where he works after hours.

He is then sucked right into an adventure he would dare not dream himself as Wyldstyle believes him to be the Special and takes him to the rest of the surviving MasterBuilders and Vitruvius as they band together to take down President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) who wants to end the world on Taco Tuesday.  The horror!  Emmet tries to fit in but it is soon obvious to everyone that he does not exhibit the skills of the chosen one.  The scene where the MasterBuilders figure out this is hilarious.  Imagine disappointing a group that includes Gandalf, Dumbledore, Superman, Wonder Woman and Abraham Lincoln!

Seriously, The LEGO Movie had me the moment I heard the prophecy by Vitruvius.  The laughs started and did not end until the movie ended.  Emmet gets his chance to shine and prove to everyone especially Wyldstyle that there is something about someone who follows the rules and she as a free thinker comes to understand where Emmet comes from.  That's a lot of deep thinking for a movie based on LEGO toys.

But that's the beauty of the film that at once is both meta and wholly original at the same time.  The supporting characters, a brooding and boastful Batman (voiced perfectly by Will Arnett), a 1980s spaceman Benny (voiced by Charlie Day) who just really wants to build a spaceship, the ever-chipper Unikitty (voiced by Alison Brie) and the conflicted good cop/bad cop (voiced by Liam Neeson) will have you in stitches.  Even the cameos by Superman (voiced by Channing Tatum) and his nemesis Green Lantern (voiced by Jonah Hill) will make you want more.

Many films based on childhood toys have tried to cash in its familiarity and make something cinematic out of it.  Some have succeeded and others have failed.  But no other movie revels in as much as The LEGO Movie does.  I have to admit, I've a bit of Emmet in me, knowing that an instruction manual is there to guide me.  I like using my imagination after all but I like have a manual in front of me as I start.

The LEGO Movie is far and above, the best movie of 2014 for me.  Others may come and win me over later on as more films release in the year.  And if the theme song "Everything is Awesome" is not firmly embedded in your brain after seeing the film, then you need to watch it again.  I know I can't wait to see it again and again.

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller; Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, from a story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller; Cinematography by Barry Peterson and Pablo Plaisted; Editing by David Burrows & Chris McKay; Music by Mark Mothersbaugh


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