My most anticipated movies of 2011

Friday, December 31, 2010

In approximately an hour, it'll be officially 2011. It seemed like a good time to make a list of the ten best movies of 2010. But I failed to do so for two reasons:
1. I haven't seen all the movies, which wouldn't make my list accurate. Especially considering that a lot of those movies are considered great ('True grit', '127 hours', 'The king's speech', etc.).
2. I couldn't even come up with five memorable movies I've seen this year. It seems this year was a pretty dissapointing year. Maybe it's just me. I'm not a big fan of high tech movies which contain all the latest film tricks in the book. So that leaves out greatly received movies such as 'Inception' and 'Black swan'. Call me old-fashioned, but I like movies that contain elements of real life.

So instead of making a list of my favorite movies of 2010, I've made a list of my most anticipated movies of 2011:

10. Larry Crowne

After Larry Crowne, a middle-aged man, is terminated from his job, he goes back to college, where he unexpectedly connects with his fellow students and even starts a romantic relationship with a professor.
Though the storyline doesn't look particularly interesting, I'm curious to see the reunion between Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. For some reason, I don't like either of them as individual actors, but I think they had great chemistry in 2007's 'Charlie Wilson's war'.

9. Contagion

An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.
Very interesting and intellectual plot; not to mention the promising cast: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard.

8. The other woman

Emilia is a Harvard law school graduate and just married her boss, Jack. Unfortunately, her life takes an unexpected turn when Jack and Emilia lose their newborn daughter. Emilia struggles through her grief to connect with her new stepson William, but is finding it hard to connect with the precocious child. But the most difficult obstacle of all is trying to cope with the constant interferences of her husband's angry, jealous ex-wife, Carolyn.
I'm very curious to see Natalie Portman in this film. Even though I wasn't fond of 'Black swan', her acting was splendid. I saw the trailer and it looks really promising.

7. Hanna

An action-thriller starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana. Hanna is a teenage girl. She has been raised by her father to become the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own. As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity
Very interesting plot and cast. I just saw the trailer, which wasn't that good. But for me a trailer is more a suggestion than a turning-point. Sometimes the trailer is aweful but the movie is good, and vice versa.

6. The adjustment bureau

A science-fiction romance film set in Manhattan.
The story evolves around David Norris, a charismatic United States Congressman who seems destined for national political stardom. He meets a beautiful ballet dancer named Elise Sellas, only to find out that strange circumstances keep them from becoming romantically involved. Norris discovers forces are at work to keep them apart, and he is determined to find out why.
I think I've seen this trailer every single time I go to the cinema since september, which is a lot! Though the trailer starts to bore me, the idea of the story is intrigueing as it plays on the concept of faith and destiny. I'm waiting on this one.

5. Kung Fu Panda 2

Po (Jack Black) is now a kung fu master, fighting alongside Master Shifu  and The Furious Five—Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Viper (Lucy Lui), and Mantis (Seth Rogen). They have to join forces with another group of kung fu masters to defeat Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), a peacock, who plans to use a secret weapon that can destroy kung fu forever.
After all the serious previous movies, I can't wait for the sequel to 2008's Kung Fu Panda. Besides the fact that I love the film, I'm also very excited to hear Angelina Jolie as Tigress.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean 4: on stranger tides

Captain Jack Sparrow crosses paths with a woman from his past, and he's not sure whether it's love or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the ship of the formidable pirate Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know whom to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.
The reason why I'm so excited to see this can be summed up quickly:
Pirates of the Caribbean-Keira Knightley-Orlando Bloom-cheesy romance between a pirate and a high class woman+Johnny Depp+Penelope Cruz+love interest for Captain Jack Sparrow+awesome trailer.
That says it all, I think :)

3. New Year's eve

About various couples and singles and how they spend new year's eve.Why is this not on the number one spot you ask? Well, though I'm dying to see Michelle again, let's be honest; this is not a Michelle Pfeiffer movie. If she had the lead in it, this movie would be number 1, 2 and 3. But since she's part of an ensemble cast and the movies contains disasters like Asston Kutcher and Zac Efron, this was the highest I could rank it.

2. The tree of life

Set in the 1950's, starring superstars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, this movie looks about as good as it gets.
We trace the evolution of an eleven-year-old boy in the Midwest, Jack, one of three brothers. At first all seems marvelous to the child. He sees as his mother does with the eyes of his soul. She represents the way of love and mercy, where the father tries to teach his son the world’s way of putting oneself first. Each parent contends for his allegiance, and Jack must reconcile their claims. The picture darkens as he has his first glimpses of sickness, suffering and death. The world, once a thing of glory, becomes a labyrinth.
From this story is that of adult Jack, a lost soul in a modern world, seeking to discover amid the changing scenes of time that which does not change: the eternal scheme of which we are a part. When he sees all that has gone into our world’s preparation, each thing appears a miracle—precious, incomparable. Jack, with his new understanding, is able to forgive his father and take his first steps on the path of life.
The story ends in hope, acknowledging the beauty and joy in all things, in the everyday and above all in the family—our first school—the only place that most of us learn the truth about the world and ourselves, or discover life’s single most important lesson, of unselfish love.
The story appeals to me in a very real way. It's honest, complex and it's about every day obstacles captured in a extraordinary way; my kind of movie. I keep watching the trailer over and over again, it has to be one of the best trailers I've ever seen. Just watch it, you won't regret it:
The posters and stills of the movie are all so beautiful and I am on the very edge of my seat for the release date of this film.

1. Angelina Jolie's directorial debut.

I know, it's sad. The movie doesn't even have a title yet and I'm already all over it. I've been following every little detail on this movie, which happen to be very few.
All I really know about this untitled love story is that it's set in the Bosnian war. It's about a love between a Muslim woman and a Serbian man. There's no release date yet, so who knows, maybe my anticipation will hold out till 2012. All I know is that I can't wait to see what Angie has written and directed.

So those are my top 10 most anticipated movies. Really can't wait to see them. But for now, happy new year to all movie lovers! :)

The Tourist

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Tourist. My most anticipated movie of the year. I remember, about six months ago, I was looking up some news on movies in progress. Soon I learned that a thriller/romance starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp was to be made. Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Does it get any better than that? From that day on I could not wait for the date on which that movie was going to be released. I knew this had to be good.

There was a lot of negative commentary around this movie. If it wasn't about Angelina looking like a lifeless mannequin, it was the lacking chemistry between the two leads. Though it annoyed me at first, I decided it meant nothing. I can't even tell you how many movies that are considered commercial failures remain among my favorites.

When december 10th was finally at the door, I didn't know how fast I had to run to the movies. I was actually the first person to buy a ticket at the counter (kind of obvious considering I arrived an hour prior :p). I took the best seat in the house, waited for almost an hour (yes, I'm a geek) and finally started watching the movie I expected the world of.

This is a short summary I've put together. If you don't want any spoilers or if you're well informed by the movie, just skip this part.

It opens with Jolie's character, Elise. She's being followed by the police. They want to catch a criminal, Alexander Pearce, who has stolen a big sum of money form a gangster, Shaw. Elise was involved with him. She receives a letter from Pearce which tells her to distract the policemen by approaching a man with similar build and height to make them think it's him. So she gets on a train and approaches Frank, an American tourist (hence 'The Tourist'). They have dinner and get to know each other a little better. Through a series of events, Shaw receives word of 'Alexander' being in Venice. His man chase Frank, but he manages to escape. He gets in the hands of the local police though. He is interrogated by a policeman, who later realises he can make some money by selling Frank. Just as he exchanges the money with the buyers, Elise comes to the rescue. After a insignificant action sequence on boats, Elise tells Frank about Alexander.

The next morning, She drops him of at the airport to return to America. After she takes off, Frank says he's in love with her. Then comes a twist; Elise is an agent too. She was suspended because she wouldn't give Alexander up. But now she's willing to give him up. She is going to meet him at a ball. A man, who is assumed to be Pearce, drops another letter of for Elise. Then Frank shows up out of nowhere. He persists not to leave without her. She tells him he was just a part of a plan and leaves. Frank, interupting the plot to catch Pearce, is grabbed by Elise's colleagues. Elise opens the letter, which contains an address and a key. She leaves while her fellow agents and Frank follow. She arrives at the place and suddenly Shaw and his man drop in. They threaten her to tell them where the safe with Shaw's money is. She claims no to know. Meanwhile, the agents and a captured Frank are watching the whole thing from monitors. Frank begs them to intervene when Shaw treatens Elise with a knife. Finally, Elise gives up the safe. Just when Shaw gets mad as Elise doesn't know the code, Frank, who managed to escape, storms in. He claims to be the real Alexander Pearce. Shaw tells him to open the safe, or else Elise dies. As Frank walks to the safe (in slow motion I might add), the agents shoot Shaw and his men. Elise and Frank are left alone when the agnets are distracted by a man who poses as Alexander. Elise declares she loves both Frank and Alexander. Frank reveals he is in fact the real Pearce by opening the safe. They depart on a boat, leaving behind the exact amount of money that Alexander stole in the safe.

Things that worked:

The gorgeous setting was one of the first things that came to my attention. The breathtaking backdrop of Italy and France is definetely a ++

The best thing about this movie has to be the score. The dream sequence in which Frank kisses Elise contains one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard. It's right up there with 'Claire de Lune'. I have downloaded the soundtrack and I simply can't stop playing that track over and over again. Kudos to James Newton Howard.
Fun fact: He also composed the soundtrack for 'One fine day'.

The gorgeous actors. Though their chemistry and dialogue could've been better, I really enjoyed watching them. I mean, there are worse ways to spend 104 minutes than watching Angelina dance around in beautiful gowns and Depp climbing the roof in PJ's. Shallow, I know :p

The plot. In spite of the dialogue and action, I really liked the plot. I had not seen the original, 'Anthony Zimmer', so I don't really have anything to compare it with, but I thought the story was pretty smart. There are two twist; Elise being an agent and Frank being Alexander Pearce. When I saw the trailers, I suspected Frank to be the real Pearce, but I had fun seeing how it all unraveled.

Things that didn't work:

The chemistry between Angie and Johnny. I think my expectations were too high on that front. My reasoning that two of the best and prettiest actors must have thundering chemistry was obviously ridiculous. But I do think it could've been much better. They even seemed uncomfortable with each other in scenes where they were supposed to be in love. I think that people tend to compare Angelina's chemistry with the kind she had with Brad Pitt in 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'. I don't think she'll ever come in that range again, though (for obvious reasons).

The lack of good dialogue. The conversations between Elise and Frank don't go much deeper than "You look ravishing" and "You're the least down-to-earth person I've ever met". This causes the idea of Frank falling in love with Elise to be laughable. When he said "but I'm in love with you" when Elise left, I couldn't help but chuckle. The script overall could've been much more clever. I was shaking my head at the tacky and somewhat cliché lines such as "I have to go drag the...uhh... the thing".

The characters. Though Elise and Frank are both treats to look at, their character development is very poor. Elise basically stands around looking beautiful (it worked for me, but I'm just saying), while Frank is nothing but an ordinary guy falling in love with a extraordinary woman. Their characteristics were never really marked which made it hard for me to take an interest in them.

The action. There's actually only one part that could be called an action sequence; the boat scene. But man, that was one horrible piece of action. I don't think boats serve well in action scenes. Cars are perfect to create that suspense. Boats, on the other hand, are a bit too mundane to create the exhillaration needed in a chase scene. And the fact that the bad guys kept missing the shots fired at Elise made it all seem a tad unrealistic.

So let's get to the bottom line. No chemistry, poor dialogue and horrible action; this is technically a terrible movie. But where is it written that movies always have to be critisized technically? I have seen this movie two times and loved it every time. It's one of those movies that can be categorized in the "guilty pleasure" section. If you overanalyze this movie, you'll definitely hate it. It's more a looker than a thinker. Just enjoy the setting and the actors without too much thinking. It's simply a fun, shallow way to spend a Thursday night.
I've gotta say, I was really surprised when I heard about the Golden Globe nominations. Though I love the movie, I can see why it's unappreciated on a professional level. It's not an award kind of movie, which is fine. Also, the category doesn't really make sense. Though there were times when I laughed, I don't think it qualifies as comedy. But even though this movie doesn't really deserve the nominations, I secretly hope it does. And considering all the hate comments and negativity focused on Jolie, I especially hope she gets the award for best actress.

Favorite scenes:
* Elise telling Frank how to ask her to dinner.
* Frank's dream; the kiss
* Paul Bettany's character saying Alexander does look like Frank, only to find out Frank has escaped


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hey guys and gals :)
As you know, I've been a Pfan for some time now. I've admired and loved Michelle Pfeiffer ever since I first saw her in Grease 2. But lately, I've been really sad about the fact that there's no news on her. I mean I know that now she's probably starting a new film, and you've heard my reservations on that. But besides that, her pulicity is on such a low level. She's just completely isolated from the Hollywood scoop. And yes, that's one of the things that makes her special and yes, it's one of the things that I really admire about her. But it still sucks. I always get frustated over the silence around her. One picture each half a year is just so little...
Anyway, since there's little to no news on her, I've decided to put Pfandom on a hold. Well, not so much as a complete stop as a change in content. From now on I'll be posting articles on whatever I feel like. Mainly movies and celebrities, but other things could appear. I will of course always put effort in posting about Michelle also. She'll always be my number one girl. It's just that, the subjects run out. Each week I find myself struggling to find a topic for my blog. That's why I think it's best this way. I won't be so pressured to do a Michelle post, I'll be broadening my range and I can always go back to a solid Pfeiffer-blog whenever I feel like it.
I really hope you can respect my decision and keep following my blog.
Pfan forever,

Mamma Mia

Friday, December 3, 2010

You know when you watch a movie, unknowing of its quality? You simply watch because someone suggested it or because it was a big success. And then, once you're in the story, you get sort of sucked into loving it.

That's what 'Mamma Mia!' was like for me. Of course, I knew the movie existed; everyone knew. And I saw the ending on TV a couple of times. But I never really took the time to watch the whole thing. So, one day I had some free time and decided to download a movie. I went through some websites offering promising movie, but I still couldn't find anything good. Finally, I turned to Wikipedia to search a movie via a particular actor. I came across Meryl Streep's page and scrolled down to her filmography. That's pretty much how I came to download 'Mamma Mia!'.
So, after it got set on my computer, I click "play" and without expectations or prejudices I sit back and watch.
From the very first scenes, I knew I'd like this movie. Just the whole tone of it; light, fun, bubbly. I'm a big fan of serious dramas, but a good comedy/musical is welcome once in a while. We can't be serious our entire lives, right?
The movie owes its greatness to different factors:
1. The music.
ABBA's music has been legendary since forever. And the way the cast performes the songs is a great tribute to them. I know many people who becam ABBA-fans after seeing 'Mamma Mia!' and I'm 100% one of them! They're not immensley deep or philosophical, but they're so catchy and fun to sing along. Like I said: sometimes we need a little shallow fun :)

2. Meryl Streep.
The whole cast did a good job, but Meryl's performance defined this movie for me. I know she's not a professional singer, but I love hearing her voice. I loved all her performances in this movie. She's so ridiculously silly! She only cared about delivering the part, not about vanity. It's basically scientific fact that she's one of Hollywood's finest actresses and the fact that she can let loose and be goofy for once makes her twice the actress she already was. She's so likeable in this movie! It's really in the little things she does. The way she sings "blue since the day we parted" or her little gestures at the beginning of "Money, money, money". I always notice those things in actresses. It puts something personal in the character and that's what makes every actor unique. The performance Streep gave during "The winner takes it all" was incredible. The way she sang that song with all the emotion... And to think that she managed to do that in one, I repeat, one take! Wow, she really is amazing! This movie has put Meryl Streep on the third spot on my list of favorite actresses. I'll do a complete article on her someday.

3. The feel-good effect.
Someone on IMDB said it best: this movie is the best cure against depression. So true. This movie will, without a doubt, bring a smile to your face. I remember when I watched it that first time, how an instant smile was stuck on my face during "Dancing queen". It's just such a nutty, hilarious performance! At the end of the movie, I felt happy and carefree; it's great when a movie does that. After that first viewing, I kept watching it over and over again. Actually, I think I'm going to watch it again right after posting this :)
In short, 'Mamma Mia!' is a great movie. Guarenteed laughter and amusement! It doesn't have great depth and it doesn't make you think. But it does have an impact; it will leave you with a smile for days!

Fun fact:
Michelle was considered for the part of Donna. This post is starting to get long, so I'll forward my thoughts on that in some other post.
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