All posts by The Pal Gals

About The Pal Gals

Two sisters bringing you TV Reviews, Movie Reviews, Book Reviews and lots of random rambling when watching and rewatching things! Follow us on Twitter too -- @ThePalGals!

Sholay 40th Anniversary

  

One of the greatest movies ever made is celebrating its 40th anniversary today. Sholay is counted as one of top films on both Bollywood and mainstream movie lists. The story is one that has been told before (Seven Samurai, Magnificent Seven), but this was something different. The raw, brooding and even frightening (I was terrified of Gabbar!) characters are not what anyone expects from a Bollywood film. The chemistry between the cast is off the charts. The fun parts are really fun and the serious parts are so intense. If you have not seen Sholay I highly, highly suggest you stop what you are doing and watch it. Now. 

http://youtu.be/6PCxTGZynpo

20-Hours of Harry Potter – FOR CHARITY!

Hello everyone!

This Friday – July 31st – Sunipal and I are going to be doing a movie marathon, but not just ANY movie marathon, a Harry Potter movie marathon… For charity!!

For about 20 hours, from 6am until 2am straight, we will be watching all 8 Harry Potter films back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-(*gasp*)-back-to-back-to-back-to-back!!

Even though as movie nuts, this would have been fun to attempt for no reason, we thought it’d be more fun to do this marathon for charity!

In honour of (the cctual haracter) Harry Potter’s 35th birthday and JK Rowling’s 50th (both July 31st!), we are raising money for Lumos – JK Rowling’s own charity, which helps children around the world in poor living conditions and institutions.

If anyone stumbles on this and would like to donate, please do check out our fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/Pamela-Pal/

In preparation so far, Sunipal is knitting a Hogwarts House colours blanket, my Hogwarts house nails are half-done and I tried making these “Butterbeer Bites” that I found through Pinterest: http://thebigmansworld.com/2014/12/05/butterbeer-energy-bites/

Mine kind of look more like chicken nuggets… 😛 (But the little bits I’ve eaten so far taste amazing!!)

I am hoping to try out a recipe for actual Butterbeer on Friday too. We are also planning to make ourselves some Harry Potter-themed shirts, so suggestions are welcome!

Follow along with our marathon on Twitter and YouTube and — Happy Birthday Harry Potter!! (Oh, you too, JK Rowling! 😛 )

R.I.P. Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

Christopher Lee played some of the most iconic characters in movie history, including Dracula, Saruman and Count Dooku.  And he also had a few Heavy Metal albums on top of that!  The last single he released was announced on his 90th birthday!
Christopher Lee played some of the most iconic characters in movie history, including Dracula, Saruman and Count Dooku. And he also had a few Heavy Metal albums on top of that! The last single he released was announced on his 90th birthday!

To say Christopher Lee had a full life would probably be an understatement.  He lived to be an amazing 93 years old, and in that time he accomplished more than many of us could ever really hope to.

He fought in World War II as a Flight Lieutenant and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2010.  Through his mother’s side of the family, he was actually related to the infamous Borgia family – his mother was, in fact, a Contessa, which would explain the regal quality and air he always seemed to have.

But… did that stop him from making a lot of ridiculous and campy movies?  Hardly!  By the time he passed, Christopher Lee had starred in over 200 films (almost 300, really!) and even still had 3 films listed as being in the works.

Christopher Lee was probably best-known to the world – up until the 21st century, at least – for the work he did with Hammer films in the 50s-70s, particularly playing Count Dracula.

Photo 2015-06-11, 9 40 13 AM
Even though Bela Lugosi is (rightfully) known as the classic Dracula, Christopher Lee is a close second, having played Dracula 9 times!

Once the 21st century did come along, most of us – myself included – became more familiar with him through his playing Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels and Saruman in the Lord of the Rings (as well as a number of roles in Tim Burton movies over the years).

DookuGold
Count Dooku is definitely the best part of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Wonderful delivery of his lines and an all-round great character.
Saruman_Palantir
Christopher Lee was a huge Tolkien buff, so being part of the Lord of the Rings films meant a lot to him. He played Saruman in five films – the three in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (his Return of the King scenes are on the Extended Edition only) and two in The Hobbit trilogy (An Unexpected Journey and Battle of the Five Armies)

One of the most interesting things I recently found out was that he actually had a number of Heavy Metal albums!

I highly doubt we’ll ever come across another entertainer/performer – or person – quite like Christopher Lee again.  He was a legend, an icon and one-of-a-kind.

I keep saying that even though I know he was 93 (just a few weeks ago on his birthday I sent my sister and brother a message telling them it was and rejoicing at what a fantastic age he’d reached), and that he accomplished so much and had such a full and great life, I am still very saddened by his death.

He was one of those people I just always thought would be around (he did, after all, play Dracula!).

But, my, what a wonderfully amazing life he did lead.

R.I.P. Christopher Lee.  Thank you for all of your accomplishments and sharing your talents with all of us.  You will be missed.

– PJ

Happy Birthday James McAvoy!

Hello, Sunipal aka IMG_4029 here to say – Happy Birthday James McAvoy!

Apparently today is James McAvoy’s birthday, so I thought it might be fun to introduce some of you to one of my many favourite actors of late.  Most of you will know him from the most recent X-Men movies, but for those of you who haven’t heard of James McAvoy, it’s about time you became acquainted with him.

Why is he one of my favourites?  Just look at him!  He’s adorable!

jamesy1

Alright, maybe that’s not reason enough.  So then just listen to him!  His Scottish accent is adorable!

All of that aside, he is actually a really great actor.  I have seen most of his movies (yes, I’ve even seen Bollywood Queen and Becoming Jane) so I thought I’d suggest some movies for you to watch to see his range and to witness for yourself what a good actor he actually is.

Below are my top 5 James McAvoy performances, in no particular order.

Wanted (2008)

wanted

I’m not sure, but this may actually have been the first movie I watched with James McAvoy.  He is so young in this movie, but he really holds his own against Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.  The story is ridiculous, but there is some good action in this movie and James does a great job as both the guy who’s down on his luck and the action star.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493464/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_16

Atonement (2007)

Atonement

Another movie with a younger James, but oh what a movie.  It has its annoying parts, but James McAvoy and Keira Knightley have amazing chemistry and the story is quite unique.  Again, James’ performance surprised me, as I didn’t really know much about him nor had I seen him in many films before this.  James was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe for his performance, but he lost to Daniel Day Lewis (of course!) for There Will Be Blood.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0783233/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_17

Last King of Scotland (2006)

last king of scotland

This is an intense movie!  James’ character is quite annoying, but he plays the character so well.  Forest Whitaker steals the film as Idi Amin, but James really holds his own up against such a powerful performance.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0455590/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_21

Trance (2013)

Trance

This was one strange film, but I am definitely adding it to the list because James is just fantastic.  The range of emotions he shows in this film was surprising.  He plays someone who is involved in a mystery involving a crime, the mob, an art heist and he has amnesia on top of it all.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1924429/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_9

X-Men: First Class (2011) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

First Class DOFP

I have lumped these two together because the contrasting performances from one film to the next is quite extraordinary.  What they did with Professor X in Days of Future Past was unexpected, at least for me, and I feel that they needed an actor like James McAvoy to bring that side of Professor X to light.  James’ Professor X goes from being this young, green, flirty upstart to a mature mentor in First Class, only then to take the character further and to darker places in Days of Future Past.  Never mind that, but James had to hold his own against Patrick Stewart in DOFP!  Patrick. Stewart.  The very first scene they filmed for DOFP was the scene of young Xavier meeting the elder Xavier.  It is a powerful and pivotal scene.  And for those of you that don’t know, James McAvoy is a total Star Trek geek who was freaking out to be working with Captain Picard!  He held it together pretty well. 🙂

First Class:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270798/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_12

Days Of Future Past:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1877832/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_4

Special mention goes to Welcome to the Punch (2013).  Nothing spectacular about James’ performance here, which is why I didn’t list it above, but I just enjoyed that movie.  I have still to see The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Filth and I am very much looking forward to the new X-Men film that will start filming later this year in Montreal, but the new James McAvoy film I am most excited for has got to be Victor Frankenstein!  Set to be released in October of this year (which is never a good sign for a film, as some of the worst films are released in October), it is a new perspective on the classic Frankenstein story.  Can’t wait!

If none of this is enough to get you on team McAvoy, allow me to introduce you to McFassy.  That’s right, James McAvoy is one half of the most fun duo to watch in interviews.  He and Michael Fassbender provide endless entertainment during their press junkets.  Just go to youtube and type in McFassy and enjoy!  Here’s a taste:

And there you have it!

Past Reviews – Star Trek Into Darkness

Hello All!    (Sunipal) here!  A while back I had started a different reviews blog, but that fell by the wayside…mostly because I forgot my account information and couldn’t log back in. LOL Anyhoo, I thought maybe I’d post a review or two from back then onto our new blog.  I had to post the following rant because any time I think of this movie it just aggravates me to no end and that needs to be shared.  The original blogpost was from May 2013.  I’ve made a few modifications/additions to the original review in bold.  So, check out my review of Star Trek: Into Darkness below:

startrek-vozmezdie-1

I have a lot to say about the newest Star Trek film, but I feel as though if I start I won’t be able to stop.  Here goes anyway:

                The film began with a lot of promise, but it is a big disappointment.  It has a lot of action and looks great and fits in well with what we know of this new Star Trek universe, but they tried too hard to connect back to the Trek we know and love and that was a huge mistake.  It wasn’t a mistake to try, it was a mistake in the way they did it, which was a total RIP-OFF of a classic!  It was ridiculous!  I was loudly scoffing towards the end.

                Let’s go through this little by little, shall we?  Here are some of the good things from this film, in no particular order:

–          Love Chris Pine.  He is a natural and a good fit as a young, arrogant Kirk. (He was a tad more annoying on a 2nd viewing.)

–          Like the chemistry between these characters and actors.  It is because of the chemistry that a lot works in this and the previous film.

–          The action is fast and exciting and there’s lots of it.

–          There were a few little bits put in specifically for Trek fans (Ketha province, mentioning Nurse Chappell, Dr. Marcus and mentioning Daystrom, though this one kinda irked me.  If you know who he is then you’ll figure out why. )

–          The soundtrack is very good. (Though, not at all memorable after the fact.)

Here are some of the qualms I had with the film, again, in no particular order:

–          The film was SO predictable!  There was nary a surprise to be found!  And I went in virtually spoiler free!  Sure, some of the aforementioned throw-backs to other Trek characters, places, etc. were fun, but story-wise it was not surprising at all.

–          Before my next point let me say how much I dislike Zachary Quinto as Spock.  He’s horrible.  Reprehensible, really.  He is a TERRIBLE Vulcan!  I understand that they are trying to make this Spock different, with his anger management issues and his relationship with Uhura (something else I’m not really a fan of), but Zachary Quinto is just awful as is his Spock. (Sing it, Sister!)

–          Aside from the little nods to the Trek universe, their attempt to connect this film to an already existent and awesome universe as we know it was just ridiculous.  The very emotional, climactic scene at the end was a total RIP-OFF of  Wrath of Khan!  Ripped it off!  Completely!  Cue my scoffing.  It wasn’t just annoying and lazy, it really angered me.  I can see why they did this, because on the one hand they think us Trekkies will eat it up and be so happy to see such an homage (not homage, buddy, this was a total rip-off), while still pleasing the general fan by giving them a gut-wrenching moment between two friends and what’s supposed to be a sad death scene.  The problem?  The friendship between Kirk and Spock is hardly developed, the “death” of Kirk is stupid because you obviously know they’ll bring him back (and who couldn’t figure out how?!) and Zachary Quinto portrayed Spock as a blubbering fool (I’m sorry, but there’s NO WAY Spock would ever have cried like that and then lost it).  Having that jackass yell the classic line of “KHAAAAAAAAN” just made my blood boil.

–          Speaking of not developing character relationships very well, let’s talk about the fact that this movie only centred around Kirk, Spock and Uhura.  Sure, I know that you can’t focus on all characters all the time (but you can have screen time for all characters while focusing on the majors…Trek 3 anyone?…Trek 4 anyone?….Trek 5 anyone?), but they effectively banished all other characters into their respective corners for the duration of this movie!  Having Scotty abruptly resign takes him out totally, then sending Chekov (albeit a very bright young man, but he’s a flippin’ ensign!) to take over Engineering took him away from the bridge and the action and Bones was nowhere to be found and when he was there it was only to throw out cheesy, but entertaining, one-liners (where’s the development of his friendship with Spock and Kirk?!).  This brings me to Sulu…they threw him into the command chair simply because we all love Captain Sulu so much.  Yes, this made me giggle and I was happy that John Cho’s Sulu got some good screen time, but what of the other characters?  (This really irritated me more and more after the fact.) I was really annoyed with the lack of Bones. (Man! You have no idea!)

–          As I’ve already said, I love original Spock, but having him make a useless cameo in this film was cheap and unnecessary.

–          One of my biggest issues with this film was the gratuitous bra and panties scene.  Unnecessary and un-Trek like.  Sexiness and scantily clad women are not some unchartered territory, especially by Jim Kirk, but there’s a time and place and way to show skin.  Green alien girls dancing around or in bed, as in the first film, showing the two girls with tails in this film, etc., but showing Dr. Marcus changing her clothes in some lame attempt to force chemistry between Kirk and her was not to my liking. (Argh!  SO unnecessary!)

–          They killed Pike.  How hard would it have been to keep him alive and then in a wheel chair?

–          I both liked and hated that they were on the ground at Starfleet so much, but my first instinct was “What the?!  This is Trek!  They’re supposed to be in space!”

–          There was not nearly enough space!  They take on trip to Kronos and that’s it! (Actually, I don’t even think they called it Kronos in this movie…but I may be mistaken.)

–          The aliens were all over the top and weird.  They didn’t have to be.  My sister made the good point that Gene Roddenberry never wanted actor eyes to be covered up when playing aliens, but in this film they were all covered.  Every. Single. Alien.  Even the Klingon had contacts to give him weird eyes.

–          The story itself was stupid.

–          Khan.  That’s it.  I had a problem with Khan.  I had a problem that they even tried to tackle the character of Khan and I had a problem that this was the guy that ended up being Khan.  They also didn’t mention the Eugenics War once.  (Unless I missed it?)

–          Khan wasn’t at all Punjabi.  I didn’t think of this until after we left and my sister mentioned it to me, but it’s true.  They actually could have made him Punjabi!  Seeing as how they cast a virtual nobody in the role anyways, how hard would it have been to have cast someone with a bit of a tan? (The fact that they could’ve made him Punjabi isn’t at all a big deal and something they obviously don’t need to do to please anyone.  I went back and watched this movie a 2nd time to give it another chance and did so after watching lots of Sherlock and loving Benedict Cumberbatch.  I thought, perhaps, my like for him would rub off onto this 2nd movied watching experience.  It did not.  This movie was WORSE the 2nd time around.)

–          One of my biggest issues was that the Enterprise looked all wrong!  My brother was really bothered by the Spidey costume in that lame-ass Spiderman film they released last year and now I understand how he felt because I reeeeally didn’t like what they did to the nacelles!  Never mind that, the entire time the Enterprise was being destroyed in the final sequence I was getting so upset because this would allow them to “fix” it however they liked!  This is the ENTERPRISE!  You don’t mess with that.

I know that every complaint I’ve had here can be countered with either:

Relax, it’s a movie – nope, sorry, this is trying to become a part of the Trek ethos and is held to a higher standard than other films

Well, they did something similar in past films – i.e. destroying the Enterprise to make a new one – I don’t care.  It is too early for them to be doing anything that would result in major changes.

Let it go, it’s an alternative universe – And this, my friends, is the ONLY reason I was okay with this film and was able to enjoy it as I watched it. (Although my sister will always remind me that if we accept this alternate universe then that means we accept the planet Vulcan we’ve watched and known is totally destroyed…hmm…)

That having been said, I enjoyed it as I watched it, but liked it less and less the more I thought about it.  My immediate reaction was “Meh, it was o…kay…but there were lots of things that bugged me and it was way too predictable.” (NOPE.  NOT OKAY.  NOT IN THE LEAST.  This movie is terrible.)

There you have it.

– ☀️

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Who Should Play Newt Scamander?

After seeing the news last week of Gaston and the Beast’s casting in the upcoming live-action version of Disney’s Beauty and the BeastI started thinking about other popular future movies that have yet to be cast.

If you know me even just a bit, you’ll know that I absolutely love Harry Potter. I was late in coming to the Potter-party. Despite constant attempts at convincing me to read the books from my best friend and my sister’s best friend, I didn’t actually get around to it until my second year of University and BOY, am I glad I did!

In 2011, the world thought it had had its last glimpse of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the big screen with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Then, in September 2013, we were treated to the exciting news that Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, producer David Heyman, and director David Yates would be giving the big-screen treatment to her book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which takes place in the same universe as Harry Potter, but does not have the same characters.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was originally written in 2001 by J.K. Rowling to raise money for Comic Relief, a charity that fights poverty around the world.

The world that Rowling created for the Harry Potter books has been fleshed out in her mind so well, that even a seemingly one-shot character like Newt Scamander, the protagonist of FBaWtFT, is actually tied right back in with the main characters of the original Harry Potter series in some way.

***SPOILER-ALERT***

Note: The following spoiler does not actually take play in the Harry Potter books, but was confirmed by J.K. Rowling in a chat post-Deathly Hallows:

Newt’s grandson Rolf Scamander, Rowling said, marries Luna Lovegood, one of Harry’s best friends.

Sorry Luna/Neville shippers, it was great to dream up the two of them together, but I, personally, think they were just too good as friends to make a relationship work… not to mention that Luna probably needs someone a bit more kooky like her.

***SPOILER ENDED***

And this brings me back to why I’m writing this post – we’re going to get our chance to see Newt Scamander on the big screen either in late 2016 or early 2017.

The casting director did a fine job with the eight Harry Potter movies (with some minor issues here and there), but I’d like to take my shot at playing casting director and tell you some of the actors who I think could play Newt Scamander.

First things First:

What Do We Know About Newt?

Who could ever play this super-stylish wizard? :P
Who could ever play this super-stylish wizard? 😛

So far this is what we know about Newt Scamander, on a fictional character-level:

– he was born in 1897
– his mother bred hippgriffs
– he’s a “Magizoologist” — meaning, a zoologist who works with magical creatures
– he worked for the Ministry of Magic in the “Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures”
– he wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book that goes on to be used by Hogwarts’ students
– he wrote it in 1927
– he has a wife named Porpentia
– he has at least one child and a grandson named Rolf
– he lived at least into the 1990s

This all means, if this movie (and any subsequent sequels) take place in the years leading up to his writing of the book and/or around when we wrote it, we need:

– a British or Irish actor (students of Hogwarts are from Great Britain or Ireland)
– in his mid-twenties to early-thirties

There was only one person who sprang to mind when I first heard about this movie:

MY Newt Scamander:

TOM HIDDLESTON

Obviously this is Newt Scamander right here, am I right?
Obviously this is Newt Scamander right here, am I right?

D.O.B.: February 9, 1981
Place of Birth: Westminster, London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: **/5

Why do I think Tom Hiddleston should be Newt Scamander?  Okay, let’s be fair, I think Tom Hiddleston should be cast in most everything so I have a chance to see him in more.

But, my actual reason for choosing him is because he embodies my imaginary picture in my mind of Newt Scamander – lanky, charming, a bit goofy, and able to pull off 20s gear like nobody’s business.

hiddles

Add to that, that Tom has already proven he can do the roaring twenties by playing F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris (2011), so we know he fits the decade well…

midnight in paris
Tom (as F. Scott Fitzgerald) with his co-star, Alison Pill (as Zelda Fitzgerald) in 2011’s Midnight in Paris

…And that he’s just one of the best up-and-coming actors at the moment, and you have my #1 choice for Newt Scamander.

Even though it seems to be a no-brainer, there are a few things standing in the way of him being cast in the role, though – namely the fact that he’s already very well-known as Loki in the Marvel Universe.

I’m not sure that they’d go with someone who is so recognizable as another character, no matter how wonderful he is.

Since he is such a great actor and quite popular, I do still have hopes that he could be cast, which is why I put his likelihood at two out of five stars.

My new favourite choice:

JULIAN MORRIS

julian morris
D.O.B.: January 13, 1983
(Fun fact: Also Orlando Bloom’s birthday (1977) – what a day for attractive people!)
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: *1/2 /5

If you haven’t heard of Julian Morris, I wouldn’t blame you.

I first saw him on Pretty Little Liars, as Wren Kingston – a mysterious and shady character, as most characters on that show are.

Sure, Wren just seems like an awesome, sweet, romantic doctor, but he's about to kiss his fiancee's younger sister here!  *GASP*
Sure, Wren just seems like an awesome, sweet, romantic doctor, but he’s about to kiss his fiancee’s younger sister here! *GASP*

He followed that up with a role as Prince Phillip on Once Upon a Time. Where he really caught my attention, though, was just recently as Ryan, the love interest of Zooey Deschanel’s Jessica Day on New Girl.

I think he could be the perfect mix of bumbling and gentleman, but at the same time, since he proved he can play someone a bit more questionable on Pretty Little Liars, there’s a bit of an edgy side there – like someone who just might want to mix with dragons, basilisks and hippogriffs!

Also, on a purely superficial level – he’s just adorable!

Wooing Jess - and us impressionable viewers - on New Girl
Wooing Jess – and us impressionable viewers – on New Girl

The reason I only gave him a one-and-half star chance though, because I’m not sure how well known he is.. Having really only been on TV shows in the last couple of years, he may only be at “TV Star” level right now.

He’s my dark horse, long-shot hope though!

The guy that I thought Julian Morris was when he first came on New Girl, until I realized they were different people:

BEN BARNES

Is it just me, or do they look at least a bit alike?
Is it just me, or do they look at least a bit alike?

D.O.B.: August 20, 1981
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: **/5

To be totally honest, when I was watching New Girl, it really didn’t click for me that Ryan was played by the same actor who was Wren. Instead, for a little while, I thought he was Ben Barnes, who I remembered from the film Stardust.

Ben Barnes, I feel, is the movie-equivalent of Julian Morris. He has been in a few different fantasy movies by now (Stardust, two Chronicles of Narnia films), so we know he’d be fine with possibly working with a lot of CGI and green screens.

As much as I'd like to believe Liam Neeson is just THAT good as an actor that he turned himself into a lion... he did not, and the lion is most certainly computer-generated.
As much as I’d like to believe Liam Neeson is just THAT good as an actor that he turned himself into a lion… he did not, and the lion is most certainly computer-generated.

The troublesome part with him – and what knocked him down to a two out of five rather than two-and-a-half or higher – is that the most recent movie he headlined, Seventh Son, didn’t do all that well critically or at the box office, and, frankly, it really did look pretty terrible.

On top of that, there still seems to be another Narnia movie in the works (even though the last one was over five years ago), so if he’s signed on for more of those that’d complicate things.

And continuing with the actors from Stardust:

CHARLIE COX

charlie cox

D.O.B.: December 15, 1982
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: */5

I honestly don’t think Charlie Cox has a chance whatsoever, particularly because he is now the lead in his own show – Daredevil – which is premiering next month.

I thought I’d still add him in though on the off-chance that Daredevil doesn’t fare well (we know it didn’t for Ben Affleck!) and because, funnily enough, when I saw Stardust years ago, I was much more enamored with Ben Barnes than Charlie Cox (even though he was only in the movie for, maybe, twenty minutes? But now I have seen Charlie Cox in more).

Now, years later, Charlie Cox is still doing quite well for himself in the entertainment world.

I was impressed with him most when he came on Boardwalk Empire as Owen Sleater.

On a show where it was easy to get irritated with characters, he was one of the likable ones. Much like Tom Hiddleston, he’s proven he can do twenties style from his time on there, so that’s a definite plus for him.

He also did a fine Irish accent, should they want an Irish Newt Scamander!
He also did a fine Irish accent, should they want an Irish Newt Scamander!

But, because of his good fortune of landing the role of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, I think he’s the longest of my long-shot choices.

If we’re talking British people, who’s more British than The Doctor?!

MATT SMITH

matt smithD.O.B.: October 28, 1982
Place of Birth: Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: */5

Speaking of long-shots…

The chances that Matt Smith would be picked to play Newt Scamander are very low because he is another one of those actors who was only just very recently tied to a beloved series – Doctor Who.

Matt Smith played Eleventh Doctor from 2010-14, and was my personal favourite incarnation of The Doctor.
Matt Smith played Eleventh Doctor from 2010-14, and was my personal favourite incarnation of The Doctor.

As the Eleventh Doctor, though, he embodied a lot of what I’d like to see in Newt Scamander – curiosity, fun and a healthy dose of silliness.

There's a reason he's known as a Discombobulated Cat or Drunk Giraffe...
There’s a reason he’s known as a Discombobulated Cat or Drunk Giraffe…

I’m not exactly sure why I think Newt Scamander will be a bit of a goof or that the movie might have some zaniness to it, it might be because of J.K. Rowling’s hint at a synopsis:

Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours.

Somehow, that has led me to believe he is going to get himself into some madcap adventures. (This may also be influenced by my love of Silent Movies and that one of my favourite parts of the twenties is the one and only, Buster Keaton).

With that being the case, and these thoughts of a wild ol’ time in the Roaring Twenties in my head, Matt Smith could be a perfect choice.

But after years of playing the Eleventh Doctor, he may want to just move on to more stand-alone roles rather than another lofty series with a huge heaping of eager fans, in which case, this wouldn’t be the role for him.

A suggestion I saw online that I kind of got on-board with:

HARRY LLOYD

harry lloydD.O.B.: November 17, 1983
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: ** 1/2 /5

Interesting fact about Harry Lloyd – he is the great-grandson (a few times over, great-great-great-grandson?) of Charles Dickens! If you’re going to turn a literary character into flesh and blood, a relative of a Charles Dickens probably isn’t a terrible way to go.

My only experience with Mr. Lloyd is the few episodes that I watched of Game of Thrones, where he sported a platinum wig that would make Lucius and Draco Malfoy jealous.

Seriously, we got ourselves another Malfoy with this hair...
Seriously, we got ourselves another Malfoy with this hair…

With that in mind, when I read an article where someone else had suggested him, I couldn’t really see it… But then I saw what he looked like in real life and could see the possibility a bit more.

Aside from his playing Viserys Targaryen and a guest spot on two episodes of Doctor Who, I can’t comment on his acting ability, but he’s got the look that I imagine.

If he isn’t busy doing anything else in the next couple of years, he could be a contender.

Might I also add, he wins points from me for having a name very similar to silent movie actor, Harold Lloyd.

Now the problem with my choices is that on the scale of mid-twenties to early-thirties, I skew a bit more to the later half, likely because I am in the middle of this scale myself (…okay, I’m inching toward the older side *shudder*), so am drawn to the actors in their thirties.

Unfortunately, curmudgeonly old-folk as I am, I don’t know very many up-and-coming 22 to 25 year olds off the top of my head who could play Newt convincingly and possibly hold up an entire series. The only one I could think of was Nicholas Houltbut much like Tom Hiddleston, he’s already tied to a super-film series in the X-Men, so I don’t know that that’d allow for time for a whole new series in the next few years.

Another young actor I’ve heard rumblings about, though, is: Luke Newberry.

The one I just found out about:

LUKE NEWBERRY

luke newberry2

D.O.B.: February 19, 1990
Place of Birth: Exeter, Devon, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: ***/5

The interesting thing about Luke Newberry is that he was originally cast as a character in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows: Part 2, but his part was cut.

He already seems to have Hedwig's stamp of approval!
He already seems to have Hedwig’s stamp of approval!

SO, he is already known to the Harry Potter family, and he didn’t get a chance to strut his acting chops yet.

Could this mean he’s a front-runner? Possibly so!

If they already know him and like him, they may want to give him a fair shot.

There is apparently also already a massive fan base online rooting for him, so if the casting directors take fan-favourite into consideration, he definitely seems to be it.

I’m not sure when the actual casting announcement will be made, but I am eager to see if I got anywhere close.  Maybe they’ll decide to go the same route as the Harry Potter movies and bank on a totally new and fresh face, but, as you can see from my choices above, they do have a lot of great talent to choose from…

Are there any actors who you think should be cast in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?  Let us know in the comments or on twitter.

Until my next post!

-PJ

Oscars 2015 Review

Hello All!    here!  So, another year of the Oscars has come and gone.  This year’s show actually felt like it lasted forever that many years of Oscar may have come and gone for all I know!  Although there were a few fun moments, I did not enjoy this year’s Academy Awards broadcast. Believe it or not, the awards themselves don’t ever really matter. They are not what make or break the show itself. So what worked and what didn’t? What needs to go and how can they improve? Get ready to read a long rant! Let’s go through it, shall we?

The Host

 NPH

I did not have any expectations, high or low, for Neil Patrick Harris as the host. I had heard he had done a great job hosting the Tony’s so I was confident he could sing, dance and put on a show. However, I was a tad irked that once again they chose someone who was more of a television and stage actor to present movie awards. However, Ellen worked out a lot better than I thought she would have last year, so I was sure he would’ve been good enough.

I was wrong.

The show started off well enough with a great song and dance number (although, the use of the phrase “moving pictures” was way overused for some reason), but things quickly fell apart after that. From lame jokes and terribly conceived gags (i.e. the locked box of predictions that no one cared about) to a complete lack of stage presence, the host was just doomed. The second he tried to call out Oprah as a part of his opening jokes and she was not really playing along I had horrible flashbacks of David Letterman and his unforgettable (and not for good reasons) “Uma-Oprah” bit )*shudder*) and knew Neil Patrick Harris needed to hop on a sled because he was going downhill fast.   Still, I held out hope.

     Sadly, Neil Patrick Harris was a terrible host. Some of the blame lies with him, but most of the blame lies with the producer and the writers. What was supposed to be a lot of tongue in cheek and less of a stuffy show just ended up being very awkward and unfunny. I felt as though they thought Ellen’s interaction within the crowd went over so well last year that they needed to do more of the same this year.   Problem is that Neil Patrick Harris did not have the same spark going with the members of the audience there or the members of the audience at home.

ellen_selfie_oscars

     The throws and introductions were just written so terribly and NPH’s timing just seemed off so many times. His quick wit should’ve helped him, but instead I found it a bit insensitive and even offensive. Making a joke about that woman’s puff-ball dress (“It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that”) immediately after she had just finished talking about her son who had committed suicide was in unbelievably bad taste!

The Show

First things fist in this section, why in the world did they keep referring to theses awards and this ceremony as The Oscars? They didn’t once call them The Academy Awards. Were they trying to relate more to the common man and seem less stuffy? Umm, they’re called The Academy Awards. It’s OKAY to call them that. I found that very strange.

Now, an issue I have every year is the amount of time wasted on the SONGS. Yes, I realize you want to be able to have some sort of a show going on to entertain people because your actual awards show is so terribly boring, but this is not the way. These are an awards show about MOVIES. You want to be more entertaining? How about some montages and clips about movies.   There’s a novel idea! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a song or two here or there or even an entire 5-8 minute segment where there is a medley of all nominated songs, but what I do NOT like is stretching an already long and tedious awards show even longer for the sake of “entertainment” provided by live singing performances. Enough already.

It was completely unnecessary to have Jennifer Hudson singing a song after the In Memoriam montage. If they really wanted to have her singing they could’ve had her doing it over the montage. In my opinion, it wasn’t needed at all, really.

87th Annual Academy Awards - Show

Quick Aside – While we’re on the point of In Memoriam, I am one of those people who can’t believe they left out Joan Rivers. I was not a fan of Rivers, but she basically created this red carpet phenomenon that most awards shows are based on. Gone are the days when the awards shows were actually about the awards and it’s mostly because of Joan Rivers. I understand many people in the Academy probably didn’t like her and it’s easy to justify not including her, but she did work in a few movies and she was a pioneer in the world of female comics, so they really should have included her.

Back to the songs, I have a bit of a beef with one of the most fun performances of the night – Everything is Awesome. After being snubbed by The Academy, I feel like the Lego people shouldn’t have helped to make such a great performance for The Oscars. Yes, I know that’s just me being spiteful and that the Everything is Awesome performance was one of the best parts of the show, but why should the Lego people help The Oscars to put on a good show at all after being snubbed?

 lego

     Going back to NPH for a second, I thought it was very strange how he kept making these quips throughout the show, I assume they were supposed to be funny, that would purposely point out the Academy’s flawed choices. Case in point, The Lego Movie. When it came time for Best Animated Feature he introduced the category by saying if anyone was with the Lego people at a party it would be a good time to distract them. It was supposed to be funny that he was aware and pointing out that the Lego movie was snubbed. He was making fun of the very awards show he was supposed to be hosting. Okay, fine, I get it.

This sort of “joke” happened many times throughout the night and each time it did I didn’t find it comical. I thought it was pretty dumb of the writers to be pointing out what terrible choices The Academy has made. For example, when Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo came out NPH made it a point to say, “Two people who absolutely deserve to be here tonight.” Oh, he’s pointing out they were also snubbed and didn’t get a nomination.  Funny?  Not so much.

 david oyelowo

What about the fact that this year’s Oscar nominations got so much flack for not being racially diverse enough? Oh, they tackled that too in their own tongue in cheek, let’s-make-fun-of-ourselves way. NPH went down into the crowd or he called out to a lot of people from the stage and many times it was to talk to some of the African American people in the crowd.  That’s not to say he didn’t talk to other people as well, it just felt a bit contrived when Ocativa Spencer was put in charge of that ridiculous predictions box and called upon many, many, many…too many times or when he asked David Oyelowo to read out something unfunny off of a card. Granted, he did talk to other people in the crowd as well…seat fillers. Who thought this stuff would be funny or entertaining?!

John Travolta

Yes, he needs a section all his own. What in the world was up with him?! The bit with him and Idina Menzel was a perfect opportunity for John Travolta to redeem himself and for the entire world to laugh WITH HIM instead of AT HIM…but…Travolta happened. Why in the world was be being so touchy-feely with poor Idina Menzel’s face?   I feel like she’s probably still washing her face after that bit.

 idina

As if that wasn’t weird enough, his red carpet antics were even worse!

 scarjo

He looked weird, he acted weird, he was just weird.

Sound of Music

My favourite, and one of the only real highlights of the night for me, was the surprise that:

(a) Lady Gaga cleans up real nice

(b) There was a Sound of Music tribute!

(c) Lady Gaga can sing so well!

(d) JULIE ANDREWS!!!!!!!!

 ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

     The Sound of Music tribute was unexpected and perfect. I’m glad I had no idea it was coming. It was simple, well executed and everything I had wanted The Academy to do for Gone With the Wind when it turned 75 last year, but instead they COMPLETELY IGNORED IT! Instead, we got a lame Wizard of Oz tribute. Wizard of Oz didn’t win the Oscar, Gone with the Wind did. I understand many people love it and it deserved to be acknowledged, but not at the cost of ignoring Gone With the Wind, one of the greatest films ever made. But, I digress.

 don't give a damn

(Except, I do! Lol)

How to Fix the Show

First off, let me produce it. I’d be great at it. On the off chance they don’t choose me for next year, here are some suggestions to make it quicker, snappier and to bring back some more emotion and feeling to the show:

  • – Start the show at 8pm instead of 8:30pm
  • – Schedule it for 3.5 hours and stop pretending you can get it into 3 hours.
  • – If you want to get it into 3 hours then cut out the songs. Make one medley performance of songs.
  • – Have a few short tribute montages throughout the show for entertainment factor since you’ve now gotten rid of the songs.
  • – Bring back the honourary Oscars to the main show.
  • – Allow proper time for heartfelt speeches because those actually mean something and that’s what you remember.
  • – Get rid of the host, or use the host minimally. Have the host do one kick off number, a short monologue of jokes and then simply use them to introduce the presenters and nothing more.   Better yet, no host at all. Use various celebrities to do the initial kick off number since that’s what they seem to do anyways for a successful start.   Have a voice-over introduce the presenters.
  • – Present a few awards at a time so it actually feels like an awards show (They presented ONE award in the first 25 minutes yesterday).

There you have it. That’s my rant. Agree or disagree? Let me know!

–  

Ranking of Best Picture Oscar Winners

Sunita aka   here!

With the Oscars airing tomorrow, I thought I would try to rank all the Best Picture winners from least enjoyable to watch to the greatest picture I have ever seen. I have seen all but 4 of the best picture winners from the past, so those four will not be included in the list.

Ranking Criteria, as thought up with the help of my counterpart, PJ:

  • How much I liked it
  • Re-watchability
  • How much I actually remember it
  • Nostalgia factor

Nothing really technical, nothing really over the top. They are mostly being ranked based on how much I liked it. Here goes:

Not included:

1928/1929 – “The Broadway Melody”

1932/1933 – “Cavalcade”

1948 – “Hamlet”

1980 – “Ordinary People”

 

 

Listed from least liked to most:

82 – 1963 – “Tom Jones”

81 – 1938 – “You Can’t Take It with You”

80 – 1998 – “Shakespeare in Love”

79 – 1996 – “The English Patient”

78 – 1930/1931 – “Cimarron”

77 – 1944 – “Going My Way”

76 – 1971 – “The French Connection”

75 – 1983 – “Terms of Endearment”

74 – 1969 – “Midnight Cowboy”

73 – 1929/1930 – “All Quiet on the Western Front”

72 – 1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer”

71 – 1999 – “American Beauty”

70 – 1977 – “Annie Hall”

69 – 1984 – “Amadeus”

68 – 1990 – “Dances With Wolves”

67 – 1936 – “The Great Ziegfeld”

66 – 1942 – “Mrs. Miniver”

65 – 1985 – “Out of Africa”

64 – 1958 – “Gigi”

63 – 1986 – “Platoon”

62 – 2009 – “The Hurt Locker”

61 – 1995 – “Braveheart”

60 – 1991 – “The Silence of the Lambs”

59 – 1951 – “An American in Paris”

58 – 2000 – “Gladiator”

57 – 1968 – “Oliver!”

56 – 2001 – “A Beautiful Mind”

55 – 1981 – “Chariots of Fire”

54 – 1952 – “The Greatest Show on Earth”

53 – 1961 – “West Side Story”

52 – 1978 – “The Deer Hunter”

51 – 1989 – “Driving Miss Daisy”

50 – 2005 – “Crash”

49 – 1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives”

48 – 1956 – “Around the World in 80 Days” 

47 – 1964 – “My Fair Lady”

46 – 1975 – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

45 – 1988 – “Rain Man”

44 – 1945 – “The Lost Weekend”

43 – 1960 – “The Apartment”

42 – 2007 – “No Country for Old Men”

41 – 2012 – “Argo” 

40 – 1935 – “Mutiny on the Bounty”

39 – 1970 – “Patton”

38 – 1950 – “All About Eve”

37 – 1967 – “In the Heat of the Night”

36 – 1966 – “A Man for All Seasons”

35 – 1973 – “The Sting”

34 – 2004 – “Million Dollar Baby”

33 – 1937 – “The Life of Emile Zola”

32 – 1941 – “How Green Was My Valley”

31 – 1949 – “All the Kings Men”

30 – 2006 – “The Departed”

29 – 1934 – “It Happened One Night”

28 – 1953 – “From Here to Eternity”

27 – 1940 – “Rebecca”

26 – 1947 – “Gentleman’s Agreement”

25 – 1931/1932 – “Grand Hotel”

24 – 2011 – 12 Years A Slave

23 – 1957 – “The Bridge on the River Kwai”

22 – 2010 – “The King’s Speech”

21 – 1987 – “The Last Emperor”

20 – 1954 – “On the Waterfront”

19 – 1955 – “Marty”

18 – 1962 – “Lawrence of Arabia”

17 – 1927/1928 – “Wings”

16 – 1993 – “Schindler’s List”

15 – 1959 – “Ben-Hur”

14 – 1992 – “Unforgiven”

13 – 2011 – “The Artist”

12 – 2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire”

11 – 1974 – “The Godfather Part II”

10 – 1994 – “Forrest Gump”

9 – 2002 – “Chicago”

8- 1965 – “The Sound of Music”

7 – 1976 – “Rocky”

6- 1943 – “Casablanca”

5 – 2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

4 – 1997 – “Titanic”

3 – 1939 – “Gone with the Wind”

2 – 1982 – “Gandhi”

1 – 1972 – “The Godfather”

Does Boyhood really deserve an Oscar?

With the Academy Awards airing this Sunday, there’s always one big question on everyone’s minds:

What will win Best Picture?

The last 40 years Oscar-winning Best Pictures.  But how many truly deserved to win?
The last 40 years of Oscar-winning Best Pictures (minus last year’s “12 Years as Slave” which had yet to win).  How many truly deserved to win?

This year there are two clear front-runners: Birdman – a tale of a washed-up star trying to make his way back into the limelight after his past fame portraying a superhero, and Boyhood – the story of a boy, his family and his adolescent life.

boyhood
“A moving 12 year epic” …that felt like it took 12 years to watch.

Both borrow from real life in a sense. Birdman stars Michael Keaton, who once played a superhero himself  – Batman.  Boyhood shows glimpses into the relatively normal life of a (fictional) boy over twelve years.

The story of a star making his way back up in the ranks is an obvious one that Hollywood would take to, but what makes Boyhood so special? Why has it been getting so much praise and so many accolades?

The reason is that director Richard Linklater actually shot the film over the course of twelve years.

Every year, for just over eleven years — from May 2002 to August 2013 — the cast – Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater and the leading “boy” of Boyhood, Ellar Coltrane, would get together for a few days, shoot some scenes and that is how this film was born.

It was a huge and interesting endeavor, but is that a good enough reason to give a film a Best Picture Oscar?

In my opinion, no.

Whether a film deserves an award depends on the film and the product that comes out of those eleven or twelve years of filming, not just the novel fact that it was filmed over that time-frame.

Personally, I found that Boyhood isn’t a sparkling piece of art, so much as just random moments and snapshots in a boy’s life.

We rarely ever get a true sense of how he really feels or what he wants out of his life. When there actually are traumatic events happening around him, we get no sense of how he is reacting inside to them because he very blandly just passes from one phase to the next.

To be honest, the film is called “Boyhood,” but could have just as easily been called “Family Life.”  There is little to make the title boy character, Mason Jr, stand out.  There is no real internal monologue for him, so we never really get a good sense of who he is inside and how the changes in his life are impacting him, anymore than we do his sister or mother.

If this was a movie made in one year with different actors for each stage of life, it likely would be getting less than half the attention that it is now.  The editing was choppy, the story was non-existent and the premise – if shot in a year – would just be silly and mocked for not actually having a purpose or premise.

The best way for me to put this is in the frame of my past as a History major: the movie lacked a thesis.

There was no real cohesive idea that we could hold to about where this was heading or why we were watching it. The random glimpses of Mason’s life, to me, were akin to piling a bunch of snippets of facts and quotes into a paper without actually telling us what you were hoping to prove with all of that.

Maybe Linklater and others would argue that that’s precisely the point of the film – to not have a neat and tidy “thesis” or “point” because life, itself, isn’t like that…

But, if you ask me, life may not be like that, but an interesting movie should be!

So, will Boyhood win on Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.

About a month ago, when the Golden Globes happened, everyone seemed quite enamored with it.  But, over the past few weeks that love seems to have cooled.  Many people are opening up more about the same types of criticisms I drew above, which means that the shiny novelty and excitement over a movie that was shot for more than a decade may have actually worn off.

I’ve only seen one of the other nominees at this point – The Grand Budapest Hotel so I can’t make a judgement on what I think deserves to win of the nominees. I can safely say, though, even having not seen the other six, that I’m sure at least one of them outdoes Boyhood in overall movie-making. (Even The Grand Budapest Hotel, with it’s sometimes convoluted and difficult-to-follow plot, was much more interesting, beautifully made and entertaining, to say the least).

I will agree, though, that Richard Linklater deserves the Oscar for Best Director for coming up with this ingenious and creative idea to film a movie with the same actors over twelve years.

[As an aside, I did wonder from the get-go if he got this idea from realizing we’d be watching the adolescent cast of the Harry Potter films grow up over the decade spanning 20012011, but have yet to find any proof of this fact. Linklater DID include Harry Potter a number of times in his film, which leads me to believe that maybe it WAS a bit of an inspiration…]

Even though I do not believe it necessarily deserves an Oscar, part of me hopes Boyhood will win because… well… now I’ve seen it and I’d like to add another movie to the list of Oscar-winning films I’ve seen!

-PJ