Resolutions 2015: Anna Karenina

No post today up till now?
Yes! Thats because I was waiting for Cara at Silver Screen Serenade’s Resolution series to go up. Today was my contribution.

A huge thanks to Cara for thinking up this genius idea and putting it together. My choice for Resolutions is a movie I have owned in my collection for over 2 years and have never found the moment to watch until this series came around. That movie is period drama and movie adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel with the same name, Anna Karenina. Head over to Silver Screen Serenade and check it out. I did enjoy it quite a bit and you can see why.

While you are there, remember to check out the other Resolutions series posts from other bloggers and remember to look around a little. Cara writes amazing reviews of movies, TV and has thought up a few segments that are pure awesomeness! 🙂

Happy Wednesday!!

Silver Screen Serenade

anna karenina resolutions

Another day, another film resolution conquered! That’s right, I’ve got another guest here today for my Resolutions series, which is going swimmingly so far! Today’s resolution fulfiller? That would be the lovely Miss Kim of Tranquil Dreams, a blog which is officially celebrating its FOURTH ANNIVERSARY!! How awesome is that?! Congrats, Kim!!

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The Hole (2001)

Another movie from my 8 movie pack that had Ritual in it! This one didn’t make the Shitfest either.  Consider me slightly disappointed although I never figured I would put a movie with Keira Knightley in there.  Let me say, this movie pack has a lot of misleading covers…

the hole posterDirector: Nick Hamm

Cast: Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Keira Knightley, Laurence Fox, Daniel Brocklebank, Embeth Davidtz

Four teenagers attending a British school are approaching the end of the school year.  They do not want to join the other students in going to the school field trip.  Through certain connections, they end up hanging out in The Hole, which is a previous underground war bunker for 3 days, until they go back to reunite and head home for good.  However, things go wrong and they end up getting locked underground for unknown reasons longer than expected.  Liz (Thora Birch) is the only one that escapes and makes it out alive. She has a psychologist Dr. Philippa Horwood (Embeth Davidtz) sent to try to get her to recount what happens to her and the others: popular girl Frankie (Keira Knightley), popular athletic Mike (Desmond Harrington) and his best friend Geoff (Laurence Fox), in the hole.

the hole beginning

I still don’t really get why this is part of the horror collection because its a psychological thriller for the most part.  Its not scary and after a certain point, I guessed what was the highest probable outcome.  However, the story concept itself was pretty good.  The opening sequence where we see a stumbling Liz, played by Thora Birch walking down the street then screaming into the phone at the school really builds the mood.  The setup of the story was pretty good.

the hole group

Thora Birch playing the sole survivor of The Hole among her friends is the main actress in this.  She has to retell the story and for the most part, we need to figure out who caused them to be locked in the hole in the first place, how did they get there, and who arranged it all for them.  What is the real story? She plays her part really well as the scared and healing teenager who is shocked from her friends dying in front of her one by one until she finds the way out.  However, some parts weren’t thought through enough to make it flawed and predictable.  We are able to the slip-up on her character portrayal which changes the feeling of the movie for the most part. In the second half, because the story is built better, Thora Birch’s character is able to shine through and make up for what the movie lacked.

the hole keira knightley

Playing opposite her are the other 3 friends. Other than Keira Knightley, I don’t know the guys that well but everyone did their parts really well. For the most part, the recount of the underground hole scenes were quite fun to watch.  Keira Knightley even flashes her breatsts (maybe that will interest you, maybe it won’t, just a random fact). Thats the extent of nudity that happens here! OH WAIT, there is also a completely naked Laurence Fox in the shower, but then I don’t know who he is so I didn’t really think that scene was necessary anyways.  However, as I was saying, they did do a good job in the respective parts.  Embeth Davidtz is also a bit more known as well.  I recognized her but couldn’t pinpoint where I saw her.  As the police psychologist, I did find her a tad stupid but I believe its a character design flaw.

the hole guys

The reason this took me so many days to write was mostly because I couldn’t really decide if I liked it or not.  I enjoyed a good part of it even though it was predictable but there was a part in the middle where I found it a bit blah.  It was missing something in the story and there were some parts that seemed either unnecessary or just didn’t seem to make too much sense. Although, is it a bad movie concept? Maybe if the script was written better, it would reach its full potential.  It does have the right idea for the most part!

Don’t get me wrong. Its a decent thriller.  It all depends if you figure out the ending before the big finale hits or not.  It has a good concept and convincing acting.  This movie did cost me 50 cents so the expectations were also really low.  However, I did enjoy it.  There was a part in the middle which felt a bit long but it was effective.  Thora Birch is definitely a great actress.  There’s sex, nudity, party and games and some screaming, crying, blood and death.  Its not perfect but definitely won’t be a waste of your time  if you ever decide to see it 🙂

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

Moving along with the marathon, we arrive at the 3rd instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean with At World’s End.  If you haven’t read my reviews on the first two, you can check it out HERE and HERE! I saw this one in theatres with my mom in Hong Kong back in 2007 when I was in Asia for the entire summer.  Hong Kong had made its main promotion with Chow Yun-Fat‘s role as Sao Feng so my mom was interested as he was popular in her generation.

poc 3 posterDirector: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Tom Hollander, Chow Yun-Fat, Bill Nighy, Geoffrey Rush, Naomie Harris

Dead Man’s Chest left us with a cliffhanger ending and this one picks up pretty much right after it.  Out comes Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) leading the crew along with Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) in search of a new ship and help from Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), a ruthless Chinese pirate, in order to save Captain Jack Sparrow (each for their own reasons) from Davy Jones Locker. With the “song” being sung, Sao Feng and Barbossa has to find Jack Sparrow in order to have their meeting for the Brethren Court at Shipwreck Cove, and at the same time, not fall for another game of deceit/betrayal set up or manipulated by others controlled by East India Company and Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) and as well as not fall prey to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his Flying Dutchman.

poc 3 final showdown

At World’s End is somewhat hard to pinpoint as to whether I like it or not.  For one, the movie itself is very long and the plot keeps switching and switching from one betrayal, to another deceit to something else.  It seems like they wanted to wrap up the series desperately (but then they came out with On Stranger Tides which I will watch tonight probably). The plot becomes  a bit more serious with a few scenes of more dumbed down humor compared to before. Jack Sparrow’s appearance is kept to be the same craziness but it has less wit than before.  However, some characters did rise up to a better development.


For one, Orlando Bloom is always charming but before, his goal was just always Elizabeth and Elizabeth and even more Elizabeth.  This time, he’s got a brain of his own and his own agenda.  This makes him have a totally and completely renewed (and attractive) vibe to his character making him the one I loved seeing on screen.  Then, we have this whole fresh vibe between him and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth.  On that same note, Elizabeth Swann really developed as well. She now has to tough up and face her choices with how things ended in Dead Man’s Chest and how to deal with the events to come in this one.  Both of them was a joy to watch on screen 🙂

poc 3 sao feng barbossa sparrow

Now lets look at the other tidbits! Chow Yun-Fat wasn’t on screen a whole lot (so much for the Hong Kong promotion, my mom felt cheated).  He was alright though as he usually is. That little part didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  This movie had a lot of not very useful parts.  Maybe because the plot was all over the place and sometimes I wasn’t really sure where everything or anything was going.  On a side note, Davy Jones was still pretty awesome plus we saw more of Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma who is mysterious and dark so she adds a bit of darkness.  Hmm…and the whole thing was very CGI, good or bad depends on the person 😉 I found it fitting, fun, thrilling.

At World’s End is still quite a thrilling adventure to watch however, what makes it lose its steam a bit is the mass amount of plot with so many characters brought back or added in with more screen time.  What does help is that there are characters that develop and they bring on a different vibe to the whole story along with some darkness.  Overall, its a decent movie for the Pirates series.  I loved the first two and this one I occasionally watch as well, just because of the length I usually split it in various parts throughout the day or maybe two days. Not the best in the series but still enjoyable!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Pirates marathon officially continues! After the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, we have the sequel followed up by Dead’s Man Chest. Johnny Depp returns as the rogue Captain Jack Sparrow to explore and conquer difficulties in the Caribbeans with yet another set of adventures. I saw this one in theatres back in 2006 when it first released with my best friend.

poc dead man`s chest posterDirector: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Stellan Skarsgard, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Tom Hollander

Gore Verbinski is back with this second instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest! After the previous instalment with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) helps Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from being hung, they now are separated on their wedding day and held in jail under the order of  Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander).  However, he gives Will a deal that if he can bring back Jack’s compass then he will give them back their freedom.  When Will finally catches up with Jack Sparrow, he gets deceived into getting caught in the way to cheat his way out of Jack Sparrow’s release from the pursuit of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), the captain of Flying Dutchman that homes a bunch of pirates living in the middle of life and death.   On the pursuit of a key that opens something, they end up going through a lot of fights and frantic escapes with each having their own agenda.

poc dead man`s chest group

Dead Man’s Chest is the one in my memory that I loved the most! Gore Verbinski did a fantastic job in the first one and coming back as the director in the second one helps this one out a lot.  This time, he brings in a whole lot more fun and action.  What really catches me is the action mixed with funny moments.  The interaction is hilarious even the sword fights are hilarious. Plus, maybe its the initial thought of when I first saw this  movie in theatres, I was with my best friend and it had some really memorable moments that makes this movie feel even closer to my heart.

poc dead man`s chest sword fight

One thing that works for this sequel is the cast.  We have a lot of the initial cast sticking around but after the first’s quest, they have grown and matured.  I’m all about character development and if anything, as much as it was a development in Jack Sparrow’s character, we also see the deeper side of Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, not together but being independent of each other. Jack Sparrow is still the crazy, unexpected pirate who is obsessed over rum, lies about everything to everyone and is confused as always.  This time around, I started feeling that Jack Sparrow in Pirates is equivalent to John McClane in Die Hard.  Its what keeps the audience intrigued because he not only brings us action but he also brings us laughs 🙂

poc dead man`s chest elizabeth

Another reason that I love Pirates is because yes, Orlando Bloom is hot but I do love Keira Knightley.  She is an awesome actress and I possibly own *almost* all of her movies.  I haven’t seen them all but she’s always quite impressive as her roles vary in character and style.  In this one, she starts off as the rebellious governor’s daughter and eventually finds that her true nature is quite like a pirate but then, she still finds the men around her quite silly at times, and childish.  Its a really charming and likable character.

poc 2 davy jones

Additonal mentions go out to Bill Nighy who plays Davy Jones.  What actually makes me laugh when I watch this movie is remembering how my best friend’s comment that Davy Jones was attractive. LOL! Weird tastes! Even Bill Nighy in real person would not make me connect with “attractive” but he was a mean and awesome character.  I love Davy Jones! He made the movie even better than it already was in my book 🙂 Plus, we have Stellan Skarsgard.  He`s not in it a whole lot but he plays a pretty awesome Bootstrap Bill and Will’s father.

So far, on this rewatch, Dead Man’s Chest is still more entertaining than the first one.  I love them both a lot but this one seems more fun and I really loved this villain a whole lot more.

I know there’s a lot of mixed reviews on this one.  What do you think about Dead Man’s Chest? Do you think the original is better?

Reboot! Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Back in April, I posted up this review as a guest contributor over at Tyson`s Head in a Vice.  However, as he has changed the direction of his blog and decided to take down that project.  I have carried over the review over here! If you haven`t read this, then here is your chance! If you have read it, please had on over to Head in a Vice because its an awesome blog! You will love every minute of it 🙂

Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl poster

Director: Gore Verbinski
When a young boy Will is picked up by a government ship by Commissioner Swann and his crew, his daughter Elizabeth Swann hides the pirate golden coin around his neck to protect him.  Years later when they are older, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) looks at this secret coin and chooses to wear it around her neck, which sends off an invisible signal to the pirate ship, Black Pearl and causes her to be kidnapped.  Amongst the chaos, Will (Orlando Bloom) teams up with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who was left marooned on an abandoned island because of the captain of the Black Pearl and is on a quest to seek it as well.  On the Black Pearl, Elizabeth meets Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and learns that the crew is cursed because of their greed and this is why they need to get back the last coin to undo the curse.
pirates jack elizabeth
I love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Its always fun and it has Johnny Depp in one of his best roles.  He has some epic lines and he’s so happy-go-lucky and does some of the most surprising things.  Bring in Orlando Bloom fresh out from after handsome Legolas from Lord of the Rings trilogy and one of my favorite actresses, Keira Knightley and you’ve got me deeply in love with this series.  The fun factor gives me the opportunity to watch it over and over again.  Its somewhat turned into an annual marathon event.
pirates barbossa
Although this one isn’t my favorite in this franchise, it does give a good start.  We get to see everyone and how they are built in the characters they become.  The characters in the most part are very witty and enjoyable.  They have very catchy dialogue especially Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow and he matches it up with this awesome pirate accent.  Its has a great balance between adventure and humor. On the other hand, it also brings in questions of honesty and integrity and how far you would go to get what you want.
The Curse of the Black Pearl sword fight
This review took me ages to write and its mostly because I loved it but I wasn’t really sure why I did and how to write it out. Its really fun, adventurous and funny.  Although in my opinion, the second one is the funniest one (but I know people might disagree with me).  However, this one really sets up the right path for the next one and that makes it total awesomeness.  Along with a great cast and we’re on our way to a great flick! Props to Disney for this one and giving us an iconic character in Jack Sparrow! Definitely one that I’d recommend for a fun time.
Just a little additional update…
Back in April, I had wanted to initiate a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon but I didn’t get to it! Just a heads up that I’ll be doing it soon! I already popped in the Pirates 2 into my player already 🙂 Just need to get a few reviews thats been sitting around up and then we’re in business to finish this up!

Valentine’s Marathon: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Pride and Prejudice is the second movie in my Valentine’s marathon. I almost thought I wouldn’t get past it.  By the time, I’m writing this review, I have watched it 3 times in a row. Even after this 3rd time, my hands are itching to play it a 4th time…

pride and prejudiceDirector: Joe Wright

Cast: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfayden, Simon Woods, Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland, Judi Dench

I really don’t know if anyone hasn’t heard of Pride and Prejudice even if you haven’t read the book.  In any instance of doubt and to not leave anyone out, I’m going to give you a little plot. We start with seeing the Bennets who have 5 daughters: Jane (Rosamund Pike), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Kitty (Carey Mulligan), Mary and Lydia .  Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) and Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland) are looking out for the future of their daughters. When Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) arrive in Hertfordshire with his sister, Caroline (Kelly Reilly) and his proud and handsome best friend, Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), Mrs. Bennet takes this opportunity to introduce her daughters to Mr. Bingley to see if one of them could marry to a better family. Mr. Bingley becomes attracted to their eldest beautiful daughter  Jane during the first public dance.  However, the focus of this movie revolves around Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. The best way to describe this would be as my DVD box description says: “When Elizabeth Bennet meets the handsome Mr. Darcy, she believes he is the last man on earth she could ever marry.  But as their lives become intertwined in an unexpected adventure, she finds herself captivated by the very person she swore to loathe for all eternity.”

I don’t even know how to start this review.  How about by saying that I LOVE this movie.  My love just grew even more.  I think its because its because its the first time I’m seeing this movie again after I’ve seen the novel. It is a different adaptation that focuses a lot on the romances. And frankly, I’m a romantic, and I’ve been especially in that whole romantic mood.

First of all, what is absolutely wonderful about this movie is the cast itself.  I love Keira Knightley and she was amazing in her role of being Elizabeth who slowly accepts as her love grows for a man that she swore to hate for eternity as the love and misunderstanding between them started to fade in and fade out respectively.

mr. darcy and elizabethNow, I don’t think Matthew Macfadyen is an amazingly handsome man BUT, he is extremely charming as Mr. Darcy.  His lingering glances at Elizabeth and his lost of words and just the passion that he emits from his uncontrollable love for Elizabeth just reaches out and grabbed me.  I hadn’t felt all giddy about romantic movies in forever and watching this, I felt that way every time there was some witty dialogue exchanged between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth or when he would look at her while she was playing the piano or from a distance or just staring at Elizabeth and not exactly knowing the words to start a conversation. An impressive Mr. Darcy is all I have to say.

pride-and-prejudice-mr. darcy

Aside from that, I love Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet because he was hilarious.  And the last scene with him and Elizabeth, for the first time it gave me tears of joy.  Maybe I’m sappy from the stressful week but my goodness, I had tears of joy and if you’ve seen the movie you probably know the last scene between Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth.

Aside from the charismatic cast, I loved the music and the scenery.  For one, the music was some beautiful classical music.  The main theme is called Dawn which I’ve been trying to learn for the last while and I was hoping to be able to eventually post it up with the review but its not perfect yet so maybe another time.  As for the scenery, if England in general, outside of London, looks like that…I’m about to book my next vacation right now.  It was just so captivating and mesmerizing.

This romance drama movie adaptation just grabs you for an epic romantic ride between love and misunderstanding between two people and the loved ones around them.  In the end, I started cheering for them to get together because of all that they’ve gone through.  It turns in a beautiful, sweet love.  Its everything you can ever dream about for the search for the love of your life with an ending that feels amazing and as they say, you can feel that they are “perfectly, and completely, and incandescently happy”.

Christmas Marathon: Love Actually (2003)

love actuallyLOVE ACTUALLY

Director: Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio or The Boat That Rocked)

Cast: Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Rowan Atkinson, Laura Linney

I’d like to start this off with the quote that starts off the movie because I find it best describes the whole concept of this movie.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

That is what this movie is about.  Love actually is all around us, especially in London.  It is promoted as the ultimate romantic comedy filled with separate stories from all the cast that we see in the beginning of the movie either in a wedding and the others in a funeral.  The wedding is for Peter and Juliet (Keira Knightley) and we see how it rolls into the story of unrequited love of Peter’s best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) for Juliet.  This event brings together Jamie (Colin Firth) who we see ends up falling out of love with his cheating girlfriend and flying to France to spend his holidays where he meets a young Portuguese housekeeper, Aurelia.  At that same wedding, we also see Sarah (Laura Linney) who we get introduced to her not so secret crush to her co-worker, Karl and how sometimes you have to make choices for family that we love.  In her office, we see the relationship of her boss, Harry who is tempted to cheat with a younger employee while his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson) tries to rekindle their relationship and keep her own family together.  Her brother, the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) starts his position and meets his lovely “catering manager”, Nathalie.  The funeral however is where we get the shot of Karen who is there for Daniel (Liam Neeson) who has lost his wife and must take care of his stepson, Sam and help him get the love of his life who is a girl in school that will be going back to  America.  In the background, we have a old rock and roll singer, Billy Mack (Bill  Nighy) who tries to get top spot on the billboard.  Lots of love stories all twisted together is what makes up Love Actually.

Love Actually is one of those movies that I know is very awesome to watch, (however I forget during the year its awesomeness).  I love watching every minute of it because it makes me laugh and smile and then by the end, I get tears of joy because of all the sweet moments.  Here’s one of the especially sweet moments of Mark’s unrequited love for Juliet.  Of course, its only one of the many but I thought it was sweet and original.

The cast is just beautiful and charming and you start getting attached to all the love that is around during Christmas in this.  It consists of such a perfect group of actors and actresses that I adore like Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Liam Neeson.  On top of that, we also had a few cameos of Rowan Atkinson.  I love him in general and in this one, he’s just the spectacular even for that little moment he’s on screen.  Maybe some stories could’ve been more elaborate if there were less put together but I think the point is to show the simplicity of each situation, how love is just very simple and we can find it when and where we least expect it.  We’ll do things that we don’t expect ourselves to do for it.  So great concept and great little stories, I loved them all.  However, I found that the key to the success was the soundtrack that they put together to support everything that was happening.  Just listen and look at the beginning song that pops up at the wedding.

Its some fun stuff when you find that perfect song that gets the viewers moving.  Especially when another song had Hugh Grant dancing through his Prime Minister headquarters.  We had the hilarious Bill Nighy doing his best routine of laid back old rock and roll star and swearing here and there with “Christmas is All Around”. Then we have “All I Want for Christmas” also one of my favorite songs.  There’s just so much more.  This definitely enhances the movie.

I may forget about Love Actually and its awesomeness throughout the year but whenever I see it, it just makes me feel so good.  Acknowledging that love actually is everywhere and all around is something we all want to remember when Christmas and the holidays comes around.