Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scattered Thoughts on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, or, if you're not American, a lovely week. It has been a week since I saw the latest Hunger Games film Catching Fire and it's pretty great. It improved on the first film and did justice to the book. After the jump are my bulleted list of thoughts...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Looking Forward To...

Inside Llewyn Davis
Release: December 6, 2013
Distributor: CBS Films
Director: Ethan & Joel Coen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garret Hedlund, Adam Driver, Max Casella, Alex Karpovsky, Stark Sands, and John Goodman

Spirit Awards Nominations

The announcement of the Spirit Awards nominations the have always signaled the start of awards season and it's even more apt this year with so many worthy independent films in contention for this award and beyond. So despite a few grating snubs, it's hard to complain about the nominations too much.

All is Lost
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave

The first big snub is of course Richard Linklater's Before Midnight, but apparently his earlier Before films have also failed to impress with this crowd. On the other end, 12 Years a Slave leads with 7 nominations with Nebraska surprising everyone by getting the second-most with 6 nominations. Good for Frances Ha to make it in here despite not really showing up elsewhere.

J.C. Chandor, All is Lost
Jeff Nichols, Mud
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color

Very surprised to see Joel & Ethan Coen (and Noah Baumbach to a lesser degree) not show up here, but it's a strong category regardless. McQueen is the likely winner here and is a very strong contender for the Oscars as well.

Blue Caprice
Fruitvale Station
Una Noche

I've only seen Fruitvale Station which was a very accomplished work that truly deserved this nomination. Hope I get to see the others sometime.

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffman, Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

Despite getting a Feature nod for her film, it's insane that Greta Gerwig failed to get nominated here. I mean this group nominated her for Greenberg for pete's sake. Also curious to see Julia Louis Dreyfus not here for Enough Said. Regardless, I've seen all but one (Hoffman) of the performances and it's a ridiculous great line-up. Delpy and Larson's nominations are my favorite, but it's Blanchett who'll win (and not undeservedly so).


Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All is Lost
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

These nominations were actually pretty predictable. Perhaps an errant vote for Joseph Gordon Levitt in Don Jon or Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight, but these really were the six men expected to come out on top. The only question is which 2-3 will not be Oscar-nominated? I think Ejiofor is the only one locked, but then I feel as if I'm jinxing him so forget I said that.

Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale Station
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Yolonda Ross, Go For Sisters
June Squibb, Nebraska

Many people expected to see Octavia Spencer show up here, but the committee I think made the better decision to cite her co-star Diaz. For myself, I wouldn't have nominated Hawkins for this role, but I'm not unhappy about it all. Nyong'o is fabulous and I'm very gleeful she made the shortlist (more to come)! I do wish her co-star Sarah Paulson made it in as well.

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Will Forte, Nebraska
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12

Surrounded by expected nominees (even the posthumous and deserved nomination for Gandolfini), Stanfield's nomination is a pleasant surprise. In terms of predicting the winner, this is the most wide-open race I think with the other four men as likely to win as the others. Now face it, did y'all think we'd get Tony Soprano, Macgruber, and Jordan Catalano in the same category?

Before Midnight
Blue Jasmine
Enough Said
The Spectacular Now
12 Years a Slave

Afternoon Delight
Don Jon
In a World
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

I've seen all of the first for Screenplay and only one film in First Screenplay (yay for Levitt's nomination!). I really do want to see In a World and Nebraska. As for the Screenplay awards, hard to pick a winner there since I actually found myself liking-loving all of them.

Blue is the Warmest Color
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
A Touch of Sin

I've only heard of Blue is the Warmest Color (you couldn't have avoided all the articles about it even if you wanted to) and The Hunt starring Mads Mikkelsen so I don't have much to say. Hope to see those two films though soon.

The Act of Killing
After Tiller
Gideon's Army
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Have only heard great things about 20 Feet from Stardom so I'm looking forward to watching that, but I need a primer on all of the others.

All is Lost
Computer Chess
Inside Llewyn Davis
Spring Breakers
12 Years a Slave

Frances Ha
Museum Hours
Short Term 12
Una Noche
Upstream Color

Computer Chess
Crystal Fairy
Museum Hours
Pit Stop
This is Martin Bonner


No other comments, but like any start of awards seasons, I'm hit with a multitudes of films I still need to catch up on. Thank goodness for the holidays coming up!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary

The first episode of Doctor Who aired on BBC November 23rd 1963, or 50 years ago today. It starred William Hartnell as the first of several actors to play the Doctor, a Time Lord who travels through space in time, currently being played by Matt Smith. The show is a national institution and a cultural phenomenon in its native Britain. It's the longest running science fiction television show in the world with 33 total seasons and nearly 800 episodes aired. The show ran from 1963-1989 with a TV film airing in 1996. The current incarnation of the show, which debut in 2005 and informally dubbed as "New Who," brought the Doctor and his adventures to a whole new generation.

For myself, I have only seen New Who with the Doctor being played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith. John Hurt will be playing a "version" of the Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Special titled "The Day of the Doctor" which will air live worldwide in a couple of hour while Peter Capaldi will take over the role next season making him 12 or 13 depending on what transpires in today's episode.

Is it a perfect show? Hardly. But its longevity and cultural reach really is something to be admired. The stars is its limits. Below is "The Night of the Doctor," the prequel mini episode to the Anniversary Special starring the Doctor, though not the one anyone expected:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Release: November 27, 2013
Distributor: FilmDistrict
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Hannah Simone, Michael Imperioli, Lance Reddick, Rami Malek, James Ransome, and Samuel L. Jackson

Birthday Girl: Ming-Na Wen

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago. Today she turns 50. But since it's Ming-Na Wen, is anyone really surprised she looks this amazing?

Now, I wished she did more. I've been a fan of her all the way from her Joy Luck Club/Street Fighter days and of course ER. Then she was the voice of Mulan, who is only the most kick-ass Disney princess ever. Currently she's kicking ass in Joss Whedon's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so I at least see her more regularly now.

Anyways, happy birthday to her!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Looking Forward To...

Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Release: November 22, 2013
Distributor: Lionsgate
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Jena Malone, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Amanda Plummer, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, Lynn Cohen, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Like most blockbuster films, Catching Fire has about a dozen or so posters used for its marketing. Most are character posters that highlight, you guessed correctly, the characters of said film, but everyone knows the real selling point is Katniss herself: Jennifer Lawrence. Below are two posters made to look like ads that would appear on Panem's Capitol:

Then there's the left one below which is a bit more traditional when you think of action movie one-sheets. The one next to it though is bit more interesting, which makes sense since it's the IMAX poster and they tend to be more visually experimental.

Finally, these last two are my favorites:

I just love the rich colors and painterly quality they both have. The first is part of a series of character posters with Katniss the only character standing up while everyone else is shot while sitting down. The second poster is probably my pick for best poster for the film. Again, the colors are eye-catching, and I just love how she's literally on top of the world with her bow and arrow, with the clouds looking like wings behind her.

How about you? Any favorites from this bunch? How excited are you about the film?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Philippines in Need After Typhoon Haiyan

The devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused my home country of the Philippines has been completely heartbreaking. Thankfully my immediate family and people I know over there are relatively safe/doing okay, but there are still hundreds of thousands more who have been affected by one of the strongest storms ever recorded on Earth and they need all of the help they can get.

Below are just a few links to sites which have compiled links to places where people can donate and help:

CNN World: How to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors

Huff Post Impact: How To Help Typhoon Haiyan Survivors

Tennis Guru: How to donate for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines

Tumblr: Help Philippines

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Thor: The Dark World
Release: November 8, 2013
Buena Vista
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Kat Dennis, Christopher Eccleston, Ray Steveson, Stellan Skarsgård, Jaimie Alexander, Chris O'Dowd, Zachary Levi, Rene Russo, and Anthony Hopkins

Monday, November 4, 2013

SNL: What Does My Girl Say?

With nearly 200 million views on Youtube, Ylvis' music video for their super catchy song "The Fox" is very popular. Whenever something like this happens, I'm usually out of the loop, but I actually saw the video a couple of days after it was uploaded and proceeded to forward it to all of my friends. I've since seen it more than a dozen times (probably way more) and I'm oddly still not sick of it. So just imagine my reaction when Saturday Night Live put their own twist on the viral hit over the weekend:

It was a pretty big episode for host Kerry Washington as SNL tries to deal with the fallout regarding the show's lack of diversity among its cast. Regardless, her and Jay Pharaoh really brought it for this fun music video, which I'm sure will be stuck in my head for days/weeks to come, just like the original.