Happy New Year (Blogathon)…A Long Way Down

happynewyearblogathon5I can’t believe that we’ve already come to the end of another year. Or rather, the start of a new one. Well, bring it on…

…with The Happy New Year Blogathon hosted by MovieMovieBlogBlog.

I’m tackling A Long Way Down (not to be confused with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman‘s cyling trip Long Way Down). And…for those who glance through the story on the internet…don’t think it is dreary for New Year because of the “subject matter”.

What is it? Let me count you down:

10…Another one of those movies…the ones that I almost don’t watch, pick up when not really sure what I really feel like watching…and ending up thoroughly enjoying. This is one I went into with absolute no clue of the story.

9..The opening is what caught my attention. Not knowing who was in it or what it was about when I started out…having Pierce Brosnan show up meant it surely can’t be that bad. When his character announces that he’s decided to kill himself (on New Year’s Eve), first instinct was to switch off but shortly afterward I saw him trying to get a ladder up London’s Toppers building…and I was wondering what lay in store. Not in a morbid way.

8…The additional opening credits presenting me with Toni Collette, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul likewise promised something good. Oh…Rosamund Pike and Sam Neill too.

7…Within the first four minutes, the mood is lightened  (dare I even say that) on the rooftop with the wonderful entrance of Maureen (Toni Collette)…spoiler alert…asking Martin (Brosnan) if he will be long and if she should wait somewhere. What a brilliant scene (although, actually not something to laugh at but this is probably deemed a black comedy after all).A-Long-Way-Down-Poster

6…By the time Jess (Imogen Poots) and JJ (Aaron Paul) turn up (independently of each other) with similar fates in mind, I know that this is going to be an interesting one.

5…Clearly, the chosen spot is a bit overcrowded and after brief introductions, they all go their separate ways…well, for a few minutes anyway…until fate has them all in Martin‘s car. The four former strangers decide to make an agreement. They will work at getting through their respective problems, together, until Valentine’s Day. So unravel the respective stories while four relationships develop.

4…Based on the novel of the same title by Nick Hornby, this isn’t such a dreary movie after all. It has some dark and light comedy moments with some really beautiful ones and other quite serious ones mixed in. The topic at hand is never made a joke of.

3…Directed by Pascal Chaumeil I found this movie really beautiful despite the many negative reviews it received. Here’s the trailer to give you a taste of what it’s about:

2…Another spoiler…but the movie ends on the following New Year’s Eve. And…well, because it would be totally wrong any other way, with all four of them still friends.

1…Happy New Year (what else does one say here?)

 

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Musical Notes: Love Runs Out (OneRepublic)

Wow…another Friday. The last one of the year. Where did 2017 go??? Anyway, to end off the week, I’m giving you a song that only recently caught my attention (yes, yes, where have I been?). It is not often that I hear something on the radio and actually listen to it. This comes from a band that I knew existed (and probably will recognise some of their other pieces if I heard them) but never really took much notice of.

Here it is…Love Runs Out by OneRepublic (hope I’m writing that correctly):

Of course I’m not the owner or uploader of the clip above.

That special feeling…SMS für Dich

Do you also get it? You know? That feeling? That special high after having watched a movie* that just keeps replaying in your mind? Like you are floating. Absorbing what you’ve seen. Well, not absorbing, but savouring the effects it had/has on you. Like you almost want to climb into the movie and live it. To want to rewatch it immediately but knowing that precious impact will not be the same if you do. Gosh…I’m crazy…but honestly, every now and then a movie pulls me in emotionally and lodges a little hook that I can’t get out. It’s a wonderful feeling. I think I’ve mentioned it before. And lucky for me…it has struck again. *Sigh* this time with a romantic drama.

It started the way these things often do…something on my “To Watch List” (I’m sure you are familiar with this type of ever-growing list?) that is there but just doesn’t scream “Pick me! Pick me!”, yet somehow, not really knowing what you feel like watching, you pick it. And in the first few seconds of viewing…”yay, this looks light” but then…oh no!…I felt like the carpet had been yanked out from under me. I nearly switched it off but within a few seconds the tone changed again. And I loved every bit of it.

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It has Clara (Karoline Herfurth) still grieving the death of her fiancé (his death is the carpet-pulling-part) two years later. In an attempt to get on with life she comes across her old cellphone and to express her feelings sends an SMS to him. Having been “recycled”, the number, however, is now Mark‘s (Friedrich Mücke). So unfolds this beautiful story.

One of falling in love with a person for how they express themselves before even seeing them. One of not simply letting love go and falling for the next man who comes along. One where the leads take time they need. One where Clara isn’t rushed yet gently guided into new beginnings.

And as these two people fall in love, I had that lovely feeling that I only get when I can connect with the characters. They draw me in. They let me believe in their story. Their love. The take me with them beyond the end credits. To me, an absolutely beautiful movie.

Directed by Karoline Herfurth, it also stars Nora Tschirner as Katja, Clara’s awesome wacky friend and roommate, Frederick Lau as Mark‘s colleague and friend and Katja Riemann as “schlager” singer Henriette Boot  (who does one of the most catchy songs at the end, with great visuals from the cast integrated. Be warned, the song really is catchy…I still have it on repeat in my head since last night).

*Often one not rated very highly.

In a Nutshell: Wind River (2017)

Wind_River_(2017_film)Hunter and employee of Fish and Wildlife Services Cory (Jeremy Renner) is called out to the Wind River Indian Reservation by Martin (Gil Birmingham) to track down a mountain lion that has been attacking his livestock.  In doing so he uncovers the frozen body of a girl from the community, thus triggering an investigation. FBI Agent Jane (Elizabeth Olsen) is brought in to investigate the murder, supported by local police chief Ben (Graham Green) and with tracking experience coming from Cory. Thus unfolds a gripping and tragic tale.

It has been ages since I’ve been so engrossed in a movie and really saddened by the lack of interest shown by the authorities over such murders/missing persons (the opening titles indicate that the story is based on true events, the closing indicates statistics of such incidents).

Excellent movie directed by Taylor Sheridan that is well worth the watch.

A Strong Character…

A few (I think) years back, the following ad caught me eye on TV (and I NEVER notice ads) not because of the brand being advertised…actually…give it a watch…I won’t need to explain:

So, I take it you know where I’m heading…definitely not the car route… 😉

But more specifically…one of these “bad” men…Mark Strong. Until recently, he was typically cast in the villain roles (hence the above appropriate clip). In fact, I’m often drawn to the actors not in the lead. And, don’t think bad of me, the villains are often exactly those that catch my eye. So much more exciting aren’t they? And just possibly a means of “living a little wild” from the safety of my mind…anyway, that’s not the point…but…hmmm….I assume that explains why a particular villain (or rather, the actor behind that villain) caught my eye in Robin Hood (2010). Yes…Godfrey, played so brilliantly by Mark Strong. Cold and calculating, ok, fine, sooooo cliché, let me start again…he was a man with an agenda…and played so convincingly.

MarkStrongRobinHoodIt was also at this point it dawned on me that I’d seen this actor before. In a number of roles. Yes, definitely a familiar face. Yet the person a mystery. But finally, with his role as Godfrey, I could put a name to the face. Off to look him up…and voila….you see…I was right…I HAVE seen him before. He was Wictred in Tristan + Isolde. And yes, at the time of watching this movie I’d also wondered who the actor was (I wasn’t focusing too hard on the leads and, I digress, I didn’t really mind Isolde being won by Mark…but that’s a topic for another day), but, because I never caught the character’s name I had no way of knowing the actor. And once again, a more “unsavoury” character…back-stabing and with a lust for power. One with some “oomph”.

Then came Lord Blackwood a la Jack the Ripper in Sherlock Holmes (2010). Oh what the perfect villain he makes. (cackle, cackle)

So, by this stage, I had a particular, should I say, “expectation”, of Mr Strong. Therefore, when The Way Back came along, I had a preconceived idea that his character Khabarov would be the “usual” up-to-no-good traitor or the like. I won’t, however, tell you if he is or isn’t. That would take all the fun out of this…wouldn’t it?

Now, I must tell you something terrible…I honestly cannot remember Mark Strong being in The Eagle, but apparently he was. I’m so sorry but I just can’t remember. Although, am I forgiven for saying I can’t remember another prominent actor (and I’m not talking about the two “leads”)?

JohnCarterAnd if I’m already on confessions…the only reason I watched John Carter (yes, I cringe too)…uhm…was for Mark Strong (and James Purefoy and Dominic West). And I only got as far as I did because of these supporting actors. Definitely wasn’t because of the story. But, that said, another fine performance by the actor I’m chit chatting about.

I’ll give you points for recognising Mark Strong in the movie Sunshine (he was in two Sunshine movies…here I’m on about the 2007 one, not the 1999 one). While not a big on-screen role, his actions play quite a part in the story. Need I mention that he isn’t the good guy? Oh but what I must mention is that this is such a superb movie that seems to have slipped under the sun radar.

welcome-to-the-punch-pic04Along came Welcome to the Punch, another one that didn’t get many positive reviews, but you know what? I thought it was great! Not only was one of my favourite “villains” back but the entire movie was fun (or at least I thought it was). And somehow, Strong‘s character Jacob Sternwood didn’t feel like such a baddie…

Hmmm…it is quite strange though, that the last two roles I’ve seen him in have not fallen into this “type” (for lack of a better word). Chronologically I know that Body of Lies goes somewhere into the midst of the movies mentioned above, but in my personal viewing history, it comes very recently. Here it has him as Hani, Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate head. I kept expecting him to be the main antagonist. *Sigh*

Kingsman

And the last, wonderful role I’ve seen him in (to date. More to come)…Merlin in Kingsman: The Secret Service. I absolutely loved this “lighter” role. Oh, the characterisation of Merlin, was, delightful superb. But then, would you expect anything else from such a dynamic actor?

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Born in 1963, more specifically, on the 5th August 1963, this British actor complements any ensemble he joins. Perfect in any role. Be it the good (Merlin), the bad (need we mention roles?) or the ugly (Pinbacker). And, apologies if I have “pigeonholed” this wonderful artist….but oh how I do enjoy a good villain.

Thanks to the hosts of this wonderful Blogathon ( Outspoken & Freckled, Paula’s Cinema Club and Once Upon a Screen). This is my second time joining them and it is always a pleasure. Last year I covered Michael Wincott (here).

 

Thievery and such…

thieves71So, by virtue of entering this Blogathon, there may  be a major spoiler. So, read no further if you don’t want the key plot point to be revealed. Although, having just looked out for the movie poster, it is no real secret what the spoiler is. So, maybe it isn’t spoiler after all. Oh well….moving along swiftly…

This is one of those movies that didn’t get much publicity (if I remember correctly) and that which it did get seemed to be the negative kind. Generally not “listening to” reviews or ratings and watching movies purely because they appeal to me for whatever reason, I was keen for this one to be released. Oh….yes, I’m talking about Man on a Ledge. Minor detail.

What’s it about? Well, yes, a man on a ledge. High above the hustling bustling streets of New York. He’s threatening to jump. The crowd has gathered below…many hoping he’ll actually jump. Others just gawking. And that, my dear readers is exactly the intention of this man, Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington). You see, if all eyes are on him, they won’t be elsewhere…where a heist is underway.

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To seemingly drag it all out, Nick requests a specific negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) to come to the scene. He’ll talk to nobody else. And it’s roughly at this time that you’ll realise things aren’t actually what they seem. That this is no ordinary robbery and that it is all so very clever. So the plot thickens…as they say.

I really enjoy this movie. It isn’t a hectic action blockbuster but an entertaining heist movie that keeps you engaged at a slower pace than the car-chase type ones. Joining Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks are Jamie Bell (gosh…this was the first time I’d seen him since Billy Elliott, no more little child), Ed Harris, Edward Burns, Genesis Rodriguez and Anthony Mackie.

Join Moon in Gemini for some more thievery and robbery in her “It Takes a Thief” Blogathon.

SAM WORTHINGTON (R) and ELIZABETH BANKS (L)  star in MAN ON A LEDGE

 

Happy Birthday Meg Ryan…

Meg Ryan is forever associated with school friends and movie nights. Back in those days she was the girl we all went to see regardless of the movie because she was inevitably in a “good one”. In fact, it was a given that you’d have seen the “latest Meg Ryan movie”. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean. Right?

maggie-blogathonI was introduced to Meg Ryan, rather late…that means, NOT with When Harry Met Sally (“oh no, how could you???” you cry), which was most people’s introduction to this star, but, with Sleepless in Seattle. And from then on, we’ve probably all got similar watch lists…although, Top Gun, which chronologically comes before Sleepless in Seattle, is one I only saw relatively late in my Meg-Ryan-movie-watching-timeline. But she isn’t really in a main role here, is she?

Oh, and then came Courage under Fire. Everyone went to see it. I recall it being good. Although, I barely remember what it was about. Sorry 😦

Addicted to Love was another good one. Misunderstood and underappreciated by many I think. Unlike the popular City of Angels (which my aunt from Los Angeles couldn’t stop raving about). Although, and don’t unfollow me for this, I wasn’t the biggest fan.

Ahhh…..then came the most delightful, wonderful, feel-good, sweet, lovely (fine, I’ll stop) You’ve Got Mail. Sigh…what a cute movie that was. As for Meg, she was wonderful (but wasn’t she just always?). I dreamt of running my own book shop for a long time thereafter (but that had just as much to do with my love of books as with this little cinematic delight).

Everyone had come to think of Meg Ryan in that rom-com manner when along come Proof of Life. And my girl friends just wouldn’t watch it. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed it. And to be honest, while the overall genre and feel of this movie might have been different, Meg‘s character was still that wonderful woman who could hold her own. After all, isn’t that what she did in You’ve Got Mail and Addicted to Love? 

Sadly, the last movie I remember having watched with our birthday girl was Kate and Leopold. Another one I thoroughly enjoyed. After this, somewhere along the line, ever so quietly, Ms Ryan slipped off the movie radar. Maybe, I should say “my movie radar”. Yes, granted, we all grow older but still, I miss that youthful “bubbliness” that was Meg Ryan in her prime. OK, fine, maybe I’m wrong and just haven’t kept up with her movies but I will forever have her in mind as I had back then.

Whatever the case, here’s to a wonderful actress who was such a big part of my high-school movie days. Those fun nights out at the cinema with friends. Wonderful days. Wonderful movies. So, dear Meg Ryan, here’s wishing you a very happy birthday. You brought that special touch to romantic comedy that few others managed.

Thanks Pfeiffer Films and Meg Movies for your Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon.