The Guest List: The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger: Volume 2

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The Guest List is thrilled to have its first ever returnee, the magnificent, the lovely, Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger! If you don’t already follow/subscribe to her brilliant blog, I must insist you do so immediately. There’s no shortage of interesting, funny, informative posts that differ vastly in topics. Additionally, there’s always a few ingenious blog-a-thons that find their way into Zoe’s posts. Which brings me to my last compliment, Zoe is as punctual as they come. So whether you’re looking for something challenging, laid-back, or hilarious, you’ll never be disappointed!

The Guest List is always looking for future contributors, so if you want to know how you can submit your very own list, here’s how!

All you need to do is shoot me an e mail (thecinemamonster@gmail.com) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s and other Guest List entries as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish!

I’m going to shift things over to Zoe now, enjoy!

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So I am sure by now most of you know that I have something of a cape fetish…yes, I truly do. I won’t even defend it, I will just state it as the fact that it is. I thought that I would take the time and compose a list of ten capes that thrill me and that I love, they’re just splendid and deserve some recognition. This may not be the definitive list, but I truly do love seeing these on screen!

Superman:

I need to get fussy on this and point out that I mean this as Man of Steel. While the movie had its issues and what not, one of those issues was definitely not the cape that Superman dons. From the trailer I knew that I was just in love and that there were certainly no two ways about it. Red, graceful, rich, gorgeous… yes. Winner.

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Darth Vader:

No way was Vader not going to make my list… I mean have you seen that cape? All black and swishy and dark side. I love it, really I do. He has one of the most awesome costumes ever, and that cape that just billows out, dark and threatening, sort of just makes it that much more awesome each and every time.

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Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr:

I find Magneto’s cape to be very unique, something different, and I love the colours used in it. I thought his cape was really distinctive when he was younger (running at an angle). Later, when he is older, there are some really cool ones, including long black ones with red inners as well as full black ones… either way, Magneto has a seriously remarkable collection of capes.

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The Witch King of Angmar:

A formidable character, no doubt, and one that had an amazing costume. But moving on from that, the shredded black cape hanging from his shoulders was just wicked, completing him in more ways than one could imagine. Very imposing.

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Spawn:

I don’t even know what to say when discussing this, except wow, it is really cool and absolutely stunning. It is enthralling, vast and red, ripped and torn, and is just really, really exceptional when all is said and done. It also does some cool things.

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Batman:

When Christopher Nolan stepped up and redid Batman, we were all thrilled with the end result. Then there was the cape that came in with the revamping, and oh my soul, was I ever delighted?! It’s damn near perfect, and has plenty of trippy things that it can do. And it’s huge. It just spreads out everywhere with such style, and it is a knockout. Wow… really.

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Jamie Lannister:

This was just one of those breath-taking moments. The purity, the beauty, the length, the detail, all hanging from the Kingslayer’s shoulders, a shattered oath swathed in purity, but undeniably something spectacular. I think it’s such a good look for him.

Loki:

See now, I am a huge fan of green. So when there was this green cape, I fell in love with it immediately. The cape is flattered immensely by Loki’s outfit, further (though not the dastardly helmet so much), and it all came together. But that cape… just going back to it… flowing, green, demanding, and mesmerising. I am a fan!

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Dracula:

The infamous blood drinker has to be on the list. One of the original capes, it needs to be acknowledged for all that is awesome, dark, gothic, and truly vampiric.

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Faora:

Again, we are going Man of Steel here. My heart almost gave out watching this, so many stunning capes making their appearances! Now, Faora definitely had a stunner with her. Black, solid, forbidding, it was thrilling. Zod’s was like hers; also exciting, but I cannot find a nice picture of it. But between them, they had lovely capes.

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I Origins (2014)

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The cleverness of Mike Cahill’s latest, “I Origins” stretches way beyond the title itself, but it’s as good a place to start as any. Presenting the fairly new prospect of cataloging the entire human race through iris recognition, “I Origins” takes a fantastical twist into much more profound philosophical territory. An arduous trek for validation to all that we consider hallow and priceless. A search for individual definition and a unanimous understanding of our universe, both spiritually and scientifically.

Looking through a lens of such broad, unfathomable depth, it feels down-right irresponsible to define “I Origins” by the placement of this witty, otherwise utterly precise homophone, but if the contact fits… Regardless, I’m sure this relative synopsis of “I Origins” will only further discourage those intimidated by the sheer magnitude of what Cahill proposed with “Another Earth,” from ever seeing it. You know, alternate universes, tears in the very fabric of space and what not. If these topics flabbergast and frighten you, what’s beyond will surely send you into fits of cardiac-arrest, as I assure you the scale of “I Origins'” grasp couldn’t possibly reach any further.

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It’s difficult to break-down what Cahill is proposing with “I Origins” into manageable portions while trying simultaneously not to get caught up in their scope. I mean, we’re literally left to decipher the direction of our compass as a conscious being. That being said, one can’t help but become transfixed by what’s on display here. The science of it all is enough on its own to discombobulate and overwhelm, like a virus. And that’s a mere superficial blemish compared to where “I Origins” delves. A place where belief and fact collide like charged particles in an acceloator. Leaving us aware of our predetermined doom, scattered about desperately searching for answers to unanswerable questions. Yet, perhaps what’s most engaging, conversely infuriating about “I Origins” is that it doesn’t exactly provide a formidable solution. However, much like the things we cling to for meaningless solace during our brief existence, it does act as a sedative, a distraction, a numbing agent.

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This war between religion and science is nothing new and as a result, predictably so, “I Origins” offers nothing imperative to its resolution. “I Origins” simply explores where either road will lead you. That said, one must invest genuinely to reap its benefits. If there’s been one thing consistent about Mike Cahill’s body of work it’s that the viewer must be willing, at any given moment, to entrust their experience entirely to Cahill and his vision. We might be asked to skip a few steps along the way, forgive the occasional absence of slight details or the probability of suspect coincidences. In the end however, our reward outweighs the risk.

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The performances aren’t imperative to a successful experience here. One can’t help but feel that “I Origins” would’ve been better off as a documentary rather than a romantic drama infused with frequently incomprehensible elements of sci-fi. But, each character does come off as believable, creating the right amount of sympathy and intrigue. Michael Pitt keeps getting stronger, Brit Marling is as entrancing as ever, Steven Yeun will have to settle for ‘Walking Dead’ fame at the moment, and Astrid Berges-Frisbey is surprisingly memorable. Most importantly though, it’s clear that each cast member understood the insignificance and subtlety that defined their respective characters. Yes, they’re to represent humanity, but buy and large, they’re a progressing agent.

Without question, “I Origins” is Mike Cahill’s most visually impressive picture to date. Where his previous efforts, such as “Another Earth” tackled the macro universe, “I Origins” is a veritable microscope. Cahill has really solidified his delicate touch and flaunts it. Some might find the visual contrasts too dissonant, ranging from cringe-worthy dismemberment to angelic symbolism, but there’s no denying the stimulation that accompanies it. Yet, perhaps the biggest surprise of Cahill’s latest is the musical accompaniment composed by Will Bates and Phil Mossman. A film that can barely keep grounded is lifted to even dizzier heights by a soundtrack of such epic proportions.

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I choose to believe that too much ambition is never a bad thing. I applaud Mike Cahill endlessly for the leaps of faith and fact he took to arrive at his fully formed vision and will never condemn him for exercising it. It’s a cloudy, often beautiful, yet oddly empty vision, but something to marvel nonetheless. Unfortunately, we live within the bounds of reality, so at its core, “I Origins” is mere assumptions and hypothesis. There’s a lot of material to digest split by merit and belief. Coincidentally, what this concoction of opposites accomplishes is a hollow victory. Easy on the eyes rather than thought-provoking fodder. However, it’s occasional spurts of brilliance rooted in research and passion makes “I Origins” noteworthy, watchable. Nevertheless, tackling the human eye’s ‘Irreducible Complexity’ head on is admirable no matter which way you slice it.

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I ORIGINS: 8 OUT OF 10

TIFF 2014: Masters, Midnight Madness, and Vanguard Unveiled

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One of my favourite things about the Toronto International Film Festival is the diversity.

TIFF announced a relatively large chunk of its line-up last Tuesday which featured some early award-season frontrunners and a slew of high-profile talent. Now, a week later, TIFF heads in a completely different direction with its Masters, Midnight Madness, and Vanguard programmes. This announcement is for all the die-hard horror fanboys and edge-of-your-seat thrill seekers out there! That said, we haven’t forgotten the art-house hunters and idol chasers.

As always, I’ve provided synopses and trailers/images for the flicks that caught my attention. You can check out the full list of films announced today by clicking the corresponding programme title: MastersMidnight MadnessVanguard. If you’re interested in seeing our TIFF post from last week, simply click here! Finally, for the full list of films screening at this year’s festivities, click here!

The remainder of TIFF’s 2014 lineup will be released in the coming weeks and will feature films from such programmes as Discovery, Mavericks, and Wavelengths…to name a few. There is still a ton of films to be revealed and I’ll be posting accordingly so keep it locked here at The CInema Monster!

VANGUARD:

Over Your Dead Body: Takashi Miike, Japan

A theatre troupe rehearsing a classic play of murder, betrayal and phantasmagorical vengeance find life bloodily imitating art backstage, in this wild cinematic detour from madly prolific Japanese auteur Takashi Miike (13 Assassins).

MASTERS:

The Face of an Angel: Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom

Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglourious Basterds) star in this fictionalized version of the notorious Amanda Knox murder case from ever-adventurous director Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, 24 Hour Party People, The Trip to Italy).

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Adieu Au Langage 3D (Goodbye to Language 3D) Jean-Luc Godard, France

Winner of the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the new film by Jean-Luc Godard is a visually sumptuous and richly complex meditation on history and eternity, being and nothingness, desire and death.

MIDNIGHT MADNESS:

[REC] 4: Apocalypse: Juame Balaguero, Spain

Confined to a high-security quarantine facility in the bowels of an ocean liner, a ragtag group of survivors fights for their lives against infected zombie hordes, in the long-awaited climax to the spectacularly popular Spanish horror franchise.

Big Game: Jalmari Helander, Finland/Germany/United Kingdom

Trapped in the wilderness after Air Force One is forced down by a terrorist attacked, the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) must rely on the survival skills of a 13-year-old woodsman, in this thriller co-starring Ray Stevenson, Jim Broadbent and Felicity Huffman.

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The Guest: Adam Wingard, USA

Writer-director duo Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next) serve up a slick, eighties-style action thriller with this story of a mysterious and devastatingly charming visitor (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens) who arrives at the home of a bereaved family claiming to be the best friend of their dead son.

Tusk: Kevin Smith, USA

Kevin Smith brings his comedic chops to a disturbing new milieu in this Canuck-baiting chiller about a popular podcast host who descends into straight-up madness when he heads north of the 49th parallel.

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A BIG thank you to TIFF for providing a majority of the content in this post.

TIFF 2014: Galas and Special Presentations Announced

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Yes, I’ll wait patiently for you to scroll through the list of galas and special presentations announced today that kicked off TIFF 2014… Okay, Ready?

Today was the first of several press conferences scheduled to unveil the slate set to take over Toronto from September 4th to the 14th at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival! With rumours swirling and early award season buzz-buzzing, TIFF CEO and Director Piers Handling and Artistic Director Cameron Bailey took to TIFF Bell Lightbox and informed all those in attendance and tuning in online exactly what they’ll be watching come September. As I mentioned earlier, only the festival’s galas and special presentations programs were announced today. The remainder of TIFF’s 2014 lineup will be released in the near future and will feature films from such programs as Masters, Discovery, Mavericks, Vanguard, Midnight Madness, and Wavelengths, just to name a few. There is still over 200 films to be revealed and I’ll be posting accordingly so keep it locked here at The CInema Monster!

Below you will find what I feel to be the highlights of the TIFF line-up thus far. You can find the full list of Galas and Special Presentations by clicking the corresponding title. If you’d like to check out each programme individually, click here!

GALAS:

Escobar: Paradise Lost: Andrea Di Stefano, France

An American surfer (Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games) meets the girl of his dreams — but gets a brutal (sur)reality check when he meets her uncle, Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Benicio del Toro).

The Forger: Philip Martin, USA

Released from prison so that he can spend time with his dying son (Tye Sheridan, Mud), an expert art forger (John Travolta) is coerced into participating in a major museum heist, in this dramatic thriller co-starring Christopher Plummer, Abigail Spencer and Jennifer Ehle.

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Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller, USA

Based on true events, this film tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Redgrave, and Mark Ruffalo.

Laggies: Lynn Shelton, USA

Following a dismal high school reunion and a disastrous proposal of marriage, a going-nowhere twentysomething (Keira Knightley) falls in with a carefree teenager (Chloë Grace Moretz) and takes a week off to reassess her life. Also starring Sam Rockwell.

Maps to the Stars: David Cronenberg, Canada/Germany

David Cronenberg forges both a wicked social satire and a very human ghost story from today’s celebrity-obsessed culture. Starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, Sarah Gadon, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson.

This is Where I Leave You:  Shawn Levy, USA

Shawn Levy’s dramatic comedy follows four adult siblings who return home after their father’s death to spend a week with their over- sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and frayed relationships among those who know and love them best, they reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways. Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll and Kathryn Hahn.

Wild: Jean-Marc Vallée, USA

After years of reckless behaviour, a heroin addiction and the destruction of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed makes a rash decision. She sets out to hike more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Michiel Huisman, Gaby Hoffmann and Kevin Rankin.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS:

99 Homes: Ramin Bahrani, USA

After his family is evicted from their home, proud and desperate construction worker Dennis Nash tries to win his home back by striking a deal with the devil and working for Rick Carver, the corrupt real estate broker who evicted him. Starring Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern and Michael Shannon.

Before We Go: Chris Evans, USA

Chris Evans makes his directorial debut with this winning romance about two strangers (Evans and Alice Eve, Star Trek: Into Darkness) who spend a long, magical night in NYC after missing the last train at Grand Central Terminal.

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Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas, France/USA

A veteran stage star (Juliette Binoche) turns to her assistant (Kristen Stewart) for solace as she jousts with an arrogant younger actress (Chloë Grace Moretz), in the brilliant new film from French auteur Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Something in the Air).

The Drop: Michael R. Roskam, USA

The Drop follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski through a covert scheme of funnelling cash to local gangsters in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv, Bob finds himself at the centre of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighbourhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living — no matter the cost. Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and James Gandolfini.

Hector and the Search for Happiness: Peter Chelsom, Germany/Canada

A dissatisfied London psychiatrist (Simon Pegg) embarks on a continent-crossing trip to discover the secret of happiness, in this globe-trotting comedy that also features Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Stellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Christopher Plummer.

The Imitation Game: Morten Tyldum, United Kingdom/USA

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Turing went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal.

The Keeping Room: Daniel Barber, USA

In this stunning suspense drama, three women (Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld and Muna Otaru) left alone on an isolated farm during the last days of the American Civil War are besieged by a pair of murderous Yankee scouts.

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Manglehorn: David Gordon Green, USA

Left heartbroken by the woman he loved and lost forty years ago, an eccentric small-town locksmith (Al Pacino) tries to start his life over again with the help of a new friend (Holly Hunter), in the new film from David Gordon Green (George Washington, All the Real Girls).

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Miss Julie: Liv Ullmann, Norway/UK/Ireland/France

Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton star in this stunning adaptation of the classic August Strindberg play directed by legendary actress and filmmaker Liv Ullmann.

Mommy: Xavier Dolan, Canada

The hotly anticipated new film from Québécois wunderkind Xavier Dolan shared the Special Jury Prize at Cannes.

Nightcrawler: Dan Gilroy, USA

Lou Bloom, a driven young man, discovers the nocturnal world of L.A. crime journalism. Joining a group of freelance camera crews who film marketable mayhem, Lou makes his own place at the table, aided by Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news. Blurring the line between observer and perpetrator, Lou finds his calling in a murderous world reduced to transactions. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton.

Still Alice:  Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, USA

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested. Alice’s struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Starring Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Julianne Moore.

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The Theory of Everything  James Marsh, United Kingdom/USA

The extraordinary true story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Hawking receives an earth-shattering diagnosis at age 21. Together, Stephen and Jane defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis and Emily Watson.

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While We’re Young:  Noah Baumbach, USA

Noah Baumbach’s exploration of aging, ambition and success, stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a middle-aged couple whose career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives. Also starring Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver, Charles Grodin, Maria Dizzia and Adam Horovitz.

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What do you think of TIFF’s 2014 line-up so far? What’s at the top of your must-watch list? Join the conversation below!

A big thank you to The Film Stage and TIFF for providing a majority of the information!

 

The Best Films of 2014 (So Far)…

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Well, it’s that time of year again. We’ve reached the halfway point of 2014 and I am pleased to present my top 5 films of the year thus far! Click the link below and you’ll be redirected to my personal list along with my fellow CineKatz film lovers. Be sure to leave a comment/like!

The Best Films of 2014 (So Far)…

In other news, I’m hoping to have a few reviews posted directly on The Cinema Monster later this week or early next, so look forward to that. The films include “The Rover,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and “Happy Christmas.” Also, I’m seeing an advance screening of “I Origins” next week, so keep an eye out for that write-up as well. Additionally, I’ll have a brand new VOTE! ready to go soon, so get ready!

Boyhood (2014)

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A little over a week ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the Canadian premiere of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” at NXNE. Picking up quite a bit of steam during its festival run early in 2014, “Boyhood” is receiving tons of critical acclaim, and as a result, skyrocketed to the top of cinephiles most anticipated films of 2014. You can read my full review by clicking the link below which will redirect you to the article over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer! Please feel free to drop a like/comment.

Boyhood (2014)

The Guest List: Digital Shortbread

Today, I am thrilled to have Tom from Digital Shortbread contributing to The Guest List! If you haven’t been following what Tom’s been doing over at DSB, you’ve seriously been missing out! Aside from his incomparable insight, you’ll be greeted with plenty of interesting tidbits and a chuckle or two over at DSB. So make sure you head on over and subscribe/follow!

Meanwhile, here at The Cinema Monster, we’re always looking for Guest List contributions. So, if you feel the need to partake, the instructions and criteria are posted below!

All you need to do is shoot me an e mail (thecinemamonster@gmail.com) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s and other Guest List entries as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish!

I’m going to hand things off to Tom now, enjoy!

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As of late, and much to even my own surprise, I have had my nose stuck in a book. That’s right. A book. I . . . am . . . I am reading, I do read. . .yes, although the activity is far too much of a rarity for me these days. At least, when it comes to good old fashioned paperback-reading. The lovely blogs out here on the internet are mostly where I spend my reading time now, and everything out here is constantly so addicting it’s kind of easy to forget there are other forms of reading to engage in.

Finally, I am getting around to contributing something to one of these great pages I keep in my routine perusings. Joseph’s Guest List is something I’ve been trying to contribute to for some time now, but I’ve just never found the most inspiring topic to talk about, until now. Seeing that I’m deep into the book at this point, I’d figure this would be a good opportunity to take a look at some of the moments from Martin Campbell’s 2006 incredible adaptation of Casino Royale, stand-out moments in the film that I find truly represent James Bond, both the character and the story. Not only does this film qualify as one of my favorites in the Bond franchise, it’s one of them due to it’s successful and total reboot of the character itself, going back to before Bond earned his status as a Double-O agent. In fact it was done so well as to place the film on a short list of my favorite action films of all time. It really is that excellent. Without further ado, here are those scenes:

(These are in no particular order. . . because they are all just equally awesome moments.)

1) Catch me if you can: Sebastien Foucan (“Mollaka”)’s incredible athleticism in the film’s first blood-pumping action sequence marks a new level of ridiculous in movie stunt reels. His pivotal role as an unidentified bomb-maker attracts the attention of Bond, who must stop at nothing to track the man down and attempt to bring him into custody. That unfortunately will not be quite so simple. This scene is not only one of the first action sequences in the movie, it’s one of the best and a simply magnificent combination of using the skill of this unique athlete and a great temperature tester for the film that is to come.

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2) “That last hand nearly killed me. . .” While Casino Royale is littered with moments that demonstrate very clearly that we have a tougher, grittier Bond on our hands, there is arguably no moment that accents his hardened characteristics better than when he gets slipped a drink by one of Le Chiffre’s men during a round late in the poker game. This moment is desperate but it is also 100% 007 material. Daniel Craig in this moment is everything I’ve envisioned the guy being.

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3) After hours questioning: Mark Casino Royale down as being the movie that features arguably the best and most stunning Bond girls ever. Yes, I’m willing to start that argument right now, and yes I’m prepared to defend my position. Need I mention anything more than the dazzling Eva Green as Vesper Lynd? Or how about earlier in the film, when we are introduced to Caterina Murino’s Solange? Is it fair to say that these two top them all? Probably not. But I’m saying it anyway. Between the two of them, Casino Royale possesses some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve had the pleasure of ogling for a long long time.

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4) “Utter another syllable and I’ll have you killed.” No Bond film is ever complete without a moment of tension between 007 and his superior, M, played with gleeful acerbity by Dame Judi Dench. Shared writing duties amongst Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade seemed to pay off as they really nailed the relationship between these two, and no moment is better than when M discovers Bond in her apartment, casually browsing on her personal computer. What a cheeky bugger.

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5) Two orphans, a train and a half-decent plan: There are many things I love about this scene in the high-speed train en route to the high-stakes poker game set to take place in Casino Royale. But it’s the fact that the dialogue that flies between James and his most worthy female adversary in the gorgeous Vesper Lynd, a representative of the British Treasury on this risky mission, is some of the best dialogue found in the entirety of the Bond franchise. As the prickly accountant — who, by the way, isn’t entirely sold on the idea of MI6 pitting 007 in the game to begin with — and an always over-confident Bond get to know one another, words are weapons — they stab like knives and tear into one another’s psyches like bullets out of a chamber of a Walther PPK. It’s brilliant stuff.

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6) “Now the whole world’s gonna know you died scratching my balls!” Again, this is one of those scenes I have many, many reasons for declaring it as a top 7 scene in Casino Royale, but. . .ultimately this comes down to the sheer intensity of Mads Mikkelsen’s increasingly desperate and vicious Le Chiffre. The obligatory torture scene is handled with aplomb, rendering it one of the more gut-wrenching yet refreshingly simple scenes in the entire ordeal. And there’s nothing quite like James’ ability to throw out some quips while Le Chiffre sets about busting his balls.

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7) Cold-hearted bastard, or bound by duty? This is what we always wonder about the often-ruthless, occasionally affectionate James Bond. A man with a sensitive trigger finger with a strong patriotic compass binding him to his missions. Where does he draw the line though? After he strangles one of his assailants in a hotel hallway, he leaves Vesper in a very fragile mental state and later discovers her breaking down in front of his eyes. It gives him pause, and it opens our eyes to the first moment of Bond finally being aware of his brutal actions. This scene is both beautiful and heartbreaking, and is among the top reasons I think so highly of Casino Royale.

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Tracks (2014)

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In case you missed the news, I’ve started contributing to The Cinematic Katzenjammer, in addition to Gone With The Movies. Of course, The Cinema Monster will still remain my home. That being said, it’d mean the world to me if you could head on over to The CK and give my latest review (Tracks) a gander. And while you’re there, feel free to drop a like/comment, seeing as the site is also run through WordPress! So logging in and such won’t be a hassle. Just click the link below!

Tracks (2014)

If you did happen to miss the notice last week, you might have missed out on my review of “The Trip to Italy.” Don’t feel left out, it’s very easily rectified. Simply click on the link below and it’ll immediately direct you to the article!

The Trip to Italy (2014)

The Guest List: Cindy Bruchman

The Guest List is back! Yes, you read that correctly. After a long hiatus, the first ever segment created here at The Cinema Monster has returned and it’s better than ever! Today we have Cindy Bruchman offering up her entry to The Guest List gods in hopes of bringing the segment back from the dead! If you don’t already follow/subscribe to Cindy’s outstanding site, you are seriously missing out. Honestly, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more in depth, excellently written blog, and I’m sure this article will further cement that notion. The link to her site is above, so be sure to click on that and head on over!

Additionally, if you’re looking to submit your very own list to the segment, here’s how!

All you need to do is shoot me an e mail (thecinemamonster@gmail.com) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s and other Guest List entries as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish!

Next week, we have Tom from Digital Shortbread featured on The Guest List, so look forward to that! Now, without further delay, I will now hand things over to Cindy!

Best Production Design in Film:

Production Design in film is the place to where the audience escapes. Creating the visual backdrop and supplying the context that moves the narrative forward, it’s the art behind the film.

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Thanks to Joseph at http://www.cinemamonster.com for accepting my “Top 10″ list about the history of Production Design in film. Shouldn’t a cardinal rule in films be to offer great artistic design? After all, film is a visual experience that clings to your consciousness; the chance to create an alternate reality is a powerful medium. When I think of beautiful films, the ones that pop into my head are settings which showcase the grandeur of nature. Flawed films are elevated when breathtaking natural settings such as Legends of the Fall or The Last Samurai surround mediocre scripts. Take a strong script and watch the film catapult to near-perfection like Last of the Mohicans. Some criticize directors for providing style over substance like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, but they get away with it because they create artistic wonderlands.

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Originally called “Best Art Design” the category was renamed in 2012. Since 1947, it has shared the award with “Set Decorator”. Looking at the Academy Award winners, I’ve tried to narrow down the ‘Best of the Decade’ from 1920s to the present. Since it’s my list, feel free to disagree. I’m just sticking with Oscar winners. Your favorite film might never have been nominated and unjustly so. Here’s my Top 10 by decade:

One: 1920s

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There were only two years to choose from, 1927/28 and 1928/29. I picked The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929) released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It’s a remake of the Thorton Wilder Pulitzer winning book. A great read. Have you seen the 2004 version starring Robert DeNiro?

Two: 1930s

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In 1938, Warner Brothers released this swashbuckling classic starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, and Basil Rothbone (What a name!) Filmed in Technicolor, the original men in green tights never looked so good.

Three: 1940s

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Now it gets harder. Citizen Kane and Rebecca were nominated but did not win. Those that did win, Gaslight, Anna and the King of Siam, and The Yearling had memorable art design. But, I’m going to pick my favorite ballet film, The Red Shoes (1948).

Four: 1950s

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Oh, boy. Look at these mighty contenders: Ben-Hur. On the Waterfront. Gigi. A Streetcar Named Desire. Sunset Boulevard. An American in Paris. How can I pick only one?

I’m going to go for my personal favorite. Dr. Nemo’s underwater world mesmerized me. That organ! Remember Bach’s Taccata in D? How perfect for the mysterious journey. My bet goes to the Jules Verne classic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and Peter Lorre.

Five: 1960s

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Anthony Masters is the man. 2001: A Space Odyssey was nominated but did not win in 1968. Other winners throughout the decade included Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, and Camelot, but I have to go with my heart and proclaim West Side Story the winner of the decade.

Six: 1970s

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With grand choices like Cabaret, The Sting, and Patton to choose from, I opted for my film favorite, Star Wars.

Seven: 1980s

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This decade was easy to pick. Dangerous Liaisons was a perfect period piece.

Eight: 1990s

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A fabulous decade for film, I suggest a tie for 1993, Schindler’s List and 1997, Titanic.

Nine: 2000s

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Okay, I know I’m supposed to pick Avatar, but I don’t want to. I’m not really a fan of the film. With CGI in full swing, worlds are magical places. It makes it harder to pick from Memoirs of a Geisha, Moulin Rouge! Chicago, Lord of the Rings I – 3, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I vote for the stunning world of the 1920s and classic Hollywood, The Aviator.

Ten: 2010s

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This should be easy, right? There’s only four choices: Alice in Wonderland, Hugo, Lincoln, and The Great Gatsby. Since I just picked Leo and the 1920s, I’ll skip it. Though I can do without Johnny Depp in make up, wonderland was a magical place and worthy of the award.

Would you dare to pick an overall winner from the 1920s to the present? CGI seems like cheating to me. It was harder to create colorful, magical places that were believable back in Hollywood’s classic era. That’s why The Red Shoes wins for me.

The Trip to Italy (2014)

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Since I started blogging a little over a year ago, I’ve been fortunate enough to make a ton of new friends, simply through a reciprocated love of film and television. Additionally, I’ve been given more opportunities to expand my craft and following through new outlets. The Cinematic Katzenjammer and its wonderful staff welcomed me and my contributions with open arms and I am eternally grateful. So please, head on over and check out my latest review, and while you’re there, be sure to have a look around! It’s run on WordPress, so please login and drop a like and/or comment. You can find my review and be redirected to the site by clicking below. Thank you!

The Trip to Italy (2014)

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