Archives for July 2013

For the Rest of 2013 … (Coming Soon)

Yeah, summer’s barely half way though, but let’s move ahead and see what’s in store for the rest of 2013, which invariably includes the all-important awards season. Here are 10 films on my radar with a short explanation for why I want to see the film in question. Enjoy!

 

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  1. Gravity – isolation in outer space looks pretty cool, especially when it involves George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.
  2. The Counselor – trailer looked rather intriguing and expansive. Oh yeah, and Fassbender’s in it.
  3. 12 Years a Slave – well I am reading the book right now so you can imagine how excited I am about this. I cannot wait to see how Steve McQueen handles some additional light being shone upon him. And AT LAST a moment for Chiwe to have his moment in the sun.
  4. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – another personal favorite (Idris Elba) getting some lead love as the iconic anti-apartheid leader. Naomie Harris co-stars. Check out the official trailer; it looks pretty good.

 

A DEFINITE MAYBE

  1. About Time – this looks like it would be interesting; I like (director) Richard Curtis well enough. Also, Rachel McAdams seems to like these time travelling movies, doesn’t she?
  2. Thor: the Dark World – I was pleasantly surprised by the first film. Although Branagh is not heading this second installment, I think the pieces are in place for a solid and exciting follow-up.
  3. The Best Man Holiday – the first film was a personal favorite from my post-college days so I have the slightest bit of curiosity to see where the story can go from here, over 15 years later.
  4. Grace of Monaco – two words really: Grace Kelly. Now I know that this will not cover her Hollywood years, but it still looks like a fascinating.

Film Title: About Time

 

HMM … WE’LL SEE …

  1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – I have to see the first one I suppose (and finish up the book).
  2. Black Nativity – may be just what the doctor ordered for the holiday season. And, Kasi Lemmons is a good director so may be well worth a look-see.

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What are you most looking forward to seeing?

 

Trailer Check: American Hustle (2013)

Check out the trailer for the latest David O. Russell picture, American Hustle, whose cast includes Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner and Robert De Niro.

The story? Well it is loosely based on the true events surrounding the F.B.I. Abscam operation of the 1970’s.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

American Hustle is scheduled for release in December.

2013 Mid Term Report …

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I am pretty sure that I have seen more than 25 first-run films at this point of the year but for whatever reason, that is the number that sticks in my head. Many of the films I have listed you may not have even heard of; I hope some of these titles are illuminating. In addition, some movies presented have been reviewed in this space, while others did not receive the full ILC treatment.

For the purposes of my recap, I grouping these 25 films according to how strongly I liked/disliked it. Pay no attention to the order; the movies are listed and categorized as I recalled them.

 

NUTTIN BUT LOVE

Love these movies! Definitely the cream of the crop for the Class of 2013.

  1. Man of Steel
  2. Much Ado About Nothing
  3. Central Park Five (2012)
  4. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
  5. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
  6. The Sapphires
  7. Teenage
  8. I’ve Got Something to Tell You
  9. Elaine Strich: Just Shoot Me!
  10. The Heat
  11. Pacific Rim
  12. Twenty Feet From Stardom
  13. Frances Ha
  14. 42
  15. Star Trek Into Darkness
  16. Before Midnight
  17. The Reluctant Fundamentalist

 

MEH

Can go either way for me; in the end, not too hot or cold about these films. Although I clearly liked some of the films more than others.

  1. Everybody Has a Plan
  2. Therese
  3. Let the Fire Burn
  4. Byzantium
  5. Iron Man 3

 

YIKES! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

I can’t even to be honest, I just can’t even.

  1. 10 Rules for Sleeping Around
  2. I’m So Excited
  3. At Any Price

Stay tuned tomorrow for my fall picks.

 

Reasons to See “Pacific Rim”

Now I must admit that initially my interest in seeing Pacific Rim was not high at all. Initially I found the trailer a little bit confounding. Sure I knew that it was a Guillermo del Toro film that featured big robots and monsters, but I was uncertain as to whether that would be enough to pique my interest and part with my hard-earned cash. Add to that my general ignorance as to the plot. So, as the release date for this film approached, the most I knew in the lead up was that this is the film delToro did INSTEAD of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

However as 2013 rolled forward and summer blockbuster season drew nearer, I became more and more curious about Pacific Rim if for no other reason that I kept seeing the trailer in the preview of other movies I was seeing. Besides, seeing more of Idris Elba did not hurt matters. Taken in its whole, each step of the way gleaned a much clearer sense of what the film’s storyline.

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If any of you still have not seen this film and/or generally have no clue what it is about, let me borrow the movie’s official synopsis:

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Sounds like fun, eh? So you must be wondering by now what I thought (or maybe not) of it. Well, either way, here you go – all I can say is that I am glad that I bought the hype because what I saw earlier this month was one of the best movies not only for the summer, but for the year as well. My reasoning? Take a look down below for a couple of my thoughts.

 

The Ensemble Cast

This cast is an eclectic mix of performers that really work well together and leave you invested in their mission to move the plot forward. Guillermo delToro has the talent for assembling an interesting collection of people who work well as an ensemble.

 

Shout-out to An Awesome Heroine

Maybe I am biased because I am a girl but I love when women take care of business on the big screen. Mako (Kikuchi) is equally strong and lithe.  She clearly holds her own.

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Pacific Rim Knows What is Was & Still Executes it With Aplomb

I will not bother to mention the numerous variations of huge monsters and machines banging about genre of action picture that have graced the silver screen, but let’s say that at best, they are a hodgepodge of loud, spectacular audio and visuals and really not much else. For what it is worth in the case of Pacific Rim there were actually characters that were relevant and that you had some attachment to. Credit where credit is due; see note on cast (above).

Also, I think that for many folks (consciously or not), just because a film’s subject is not what one would consider award-winning cinema (at least on the surface), that thoughtful, deliberate execution should not be applied. As I stated above, just throwing a bunch of stuff at the screen that has people go OOH and AAH is not enough; a lot of movie audiences are smarter than that. Again, credit to the overseer of this endeavor, Guillermo delToro for making an actioner with a little more weight to it.

I know his vision and imagination may not be suited for everyone’s taste (heck, I am still wrapping my head around Pan’s Labyrinth), but he does have a way of blending moments of action, suspense, and emotion with the right amount of humor just for good measure. Here the humor is marked by the presence of  1) the mad scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, recalling for me classic duos like Charters and Caldicott) and 2) Hellboy himself, Ron Perlmann.

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One side note – this is yet another of those rare cases, where I really am glad that I saw the film in IMAX 3D.

 

Conclusion

In what has thus far been a rather disappointing summer at the multiplex, Pacific Rim was a fun and refreshing addition. This is one that definitely deserves to be seen.

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming …

After a brief sabbatical (feels like longer than a week), I have returned and will begin posting as soon as possible, including my complete, but much-delayed review of Pacific Rim, which, despite my contentment at viewing, has not fared as well as I would have hoped in the US box office.

Also coming soon are a couple of recommended reads, coming attractions and the like and “more than mid-year” report.

Stay tuned!

 

Kate Spade Gets All Cinematic and I LUV It!

I have always loved the whimsy of Kate Spade, particularly the tech accessories; in the past, I have purchased .

This time the company has totally outdone themselves with their newest cinema-inspired accessories. Here are set of my favorite from the collection:

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Interested in purchasing any of these (or more)? First thing, save your money; while most of the tech accessories are reasonably priced (especially for designer gear), some other items, namely the handbags and shoes, carry heavier price tags.

You can find the items at retails outlets such as Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and of course, katespade.com.

 

 

 

Summer Films (Plus My Overlooked Pick for the Week)

Folks we are truly and deeply into the summer now. So I decided to troll the internet and look at some of the lists of “best movies about summer.”

Confession Time: Dirty Dancing, a film that graces many of these lists, has never crossed my eyes. Is that a good or bad thing?

Child's Shovel and Pail at the Beach

Question: Can you think of any other films that did not make the list?

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Overlooked Film of the Week: SpaceCamp (1986)

After reviewing the list I was reminded of my one of my favorite films as a child, SpaceCamp. For a number of years, attending the real-life SpaceCamp was a dream of mine. Unfortunately that obsession eventually waned and all I was left with was the ability to live vicariously through the fictional characters. At the time, this film captured my imagination and desire to explore the stars. Even though I knew that they were not ACTUALLY in outer space, I was still quite envious of the cast’s experience in making this movie.

When it was released, SpaceCamp was both a critical and financial failure – due in part to what can only be described as bad timing: it was released six months after the Challenger disaster. In spite of this lack of fortune I think that in a world where there is a sufficient lack of young people (especially young women) pursuing STEM-based education, a movie like this can serve as an inspiration for further math, science and technology learnin’. My favorite character was/is Trish (played by Kelly Preston), who was the most remarkable (if not a bit unbelievable) genius one could possibly imagine. (Side Note:  they have SpaceCamp for adults, so the dream is still alive folks, the dream is still alive).

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Be sure to check out more overlooked/forgotten films, by visiting Todd Mason’s blog.

 

Q&A with the New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF)

Last month, I had the privilege of attending a couple of events in conjunction with the New York City International Film Festival. As the event drew to a close, I was able to carve out some time to shoot off a series of rapid-fire questions with Loyi Mamabolo, the festival’s Press & Media Director.

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How long has the festival been around?
The festival was founded in the summer of 2010, this upcoming year (2014) will be our 5 year anniversary.
nyciff logoWhat is your organization’s mission?
The mission of the NEW YORK CITY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (NYCIFF) is to help up and coming talent in film to reach the best possible audience for their work.
In a city littered with festivals year round how do you carve out a unique position?
We are a very unique film festival in that we are absolutely drenched in international culture and art. Every year, filmmakers from all around the world come to celebrate their films. It has been incredible throughout the years to watch extreme opposite cultures collide during our events and create great relationships and even friendships. We are concentrated in bringing the world together through the art of filmmaking and exposing the message these artist reveal through their films.
It may be too early for 2014 discussion but do you have preliminary plans in the works?
– Yes! The most exciting thing about the festival is every year being able to start the plans again and correct any mistakes we have made in the past. Afterall, we wish to grow into a bigger and better opportunity for filmmakers. There are many new things in the works and we are very enthusiastic about next years events. What I look forward to the most is getting to watch this year’s submissions, see how previous filmmakers have grown and meet new filmmakers.
How would you sum up this years experience?
This year was incredible. The enthusiasm of people was astounding, I believe the moment where you could sense it the most was during awards night. It was truly a moving moment when each winner came up to the podium to accept their awards. Their words of struggling for years and to finally feel appreciated for this art that they .spend every living moment on. These actors and filmmakers went back to their native countries being received with honor and pride as their country watched them carrying their award. That is what we’re here for, to show the word these hidden talents that deserve to be seen!
Photo Source: NYCIFF

First Trailer for Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave”

Check out the trailer for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave:

The film is based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, an African American born free and through extraordinary circumstances, sold into slavery. The cast includes Chiwetel Eijofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, whose Plan B production company backed the project. 12 Years a Slave is scheduled for release in October.
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Tuesday’s Overlooked: Return to Me (2000)

For more titles be sure to visit Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom.

My selection this week came as I was passing through the channels over the long holiday weekend. My movie-loving blogging colleague Ruth of Flixchatter, has recommended this film many times over and I just never got around to watching it. The film I am talking about is the 2000 romcom/dramedy Return to Me starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, directed by Bonnie Hunt.

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If ever there was a human transplant story to make you laugh, cry and ultimately feel romantically fulfilled, this is it. On the one hand, the grief and heartache (literal and figurative) are so pronounced – the combination of: the tragedy of losing a loved one, the agony, anticipation and hope of receiving a life-saving gift and a new lease on life is balanced with the most subtle yet effective comedic touches.

Everything about this film works for me: the setting, the characters (and the wonderful cast who portray them), and the music. It’s a shame that Bonnie Hunt has not directed more feature films. I think I might start a petition of something.

On a slightly sadder note, Return to Me also marks the final film appearances of both Carroll O’Connor and Dick Cusack (father of John and Joan).

For a more thorough look at the film (from several angles), I refer you to Ruth’s site.