Ocean’s 8 (2018) starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, & Anne Hathaway

NOTE: This post contains MILD SPOILERS for the film (now playing in theaters).

What seems like a fun, simple heist movie (female reboot of Ocean’s franchise), has layers (when you dig deeper). The dialogue and slow-ish directing style leaves much to be desired, BUT the actors pull off a LOT w/ the strength of their personalities, FAB fashion, confidence, and (off course) charisma. These women (mostly household names) are NOT afraid to poke fun at themselves. At one point, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) says: “A he gets noticed. A she is invisible. We want to be invisible.” Oooh, if that’s NOT a direct jab at major Hollywood film studios, I don’t know what is!

I haven’t seen Bullock (who plays recent parolee/younger sis of Danny) in a while; she’s had some hits (and quite a few misses) in her career. (Fun fact: He mom was an opera singer from Germany; she speaks some German at pivotal points in the film.) Cate Blanchett (Lou) is great, as usual; her platinum bob and menswear-inspired suits look V cool. I much prefer to see Blanchett in this type of strong/independent woman role, as opposed to Blue Jasmine (saw recently on Netflix w/ my mom). Her performance is compelling in that (rather lackluster) film, BUT I just like her kicking ass! There is an enigmatic nature to the relationship between Debbie and Lou.

Anne Hathaway (who steals the show) takes on the self-obsessed Hollywood star archetype. I think even Hathaway’s haters will have to take note of this performance! She is more of an earnest theater geek/English major, a far cry from Daphne Kluger, who swings from confident to insecure in the blink of an eye. Dahne’s designer for the Met Gala is Rose Weil (Helena Bonham-Carter), a broke Irishwoman near the end of her rope (until she meets Debbie and Lou). Bonham-Carter also makes fun of herself; take note the of the quirky touches (incl. hair, gloves, Victorian-inspired outfits). It’s great to see her (on the big screen) after MANY years. 

My friends and I were excited to see Mindy Kaling (now a mom- WOW); I wanted to know a BIT more re: her diamond-expert character, Amita. Awkwafina, a young Chinese-American actress from Queens, gets laughs for her deadpan performance of Constance (a skateboarding street hustler). Catch her later this Summer on Crazy Rich Asians. And who can forget Nine Ball, a young hacker played by Rihanna!? She just has the kind of screen presence that can’t be faked, even covered in baggy ponchos and working over a laptop. Sarah Paulson is the bored suburban mom, Tammy; she should’ve gotten more to do. 

Richard Armitage fans (like myself) will be V happy to see the Brit get more exposure; he plays Claude Becker (art dealer/con man). He recently tweeted that he got the role last-minute. Another Brit I’m also fan of (Damian Lewis- starring in Showtime’s Billions) had to drop out. Claude is Daphne’s date for the Gala; he has little interest in her (as a person), BUT seems to love being in proximity to celebs. (There are MANY celeb cameos in this film- FYI.) There are little moves and expressions to show Daphne that he cares, BUT this is all a performance. Richard does a great job in his (limited) role; he gets really great outfits, too. 

Sidenote: If you want to know more re: the Met Gala, check out the doc that the characters watch- The First Monday in May (Netflix). 

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Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 9 (“Battle of the Bastards”)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you haven’t seen or don’t want to know details from this episode of Game of Thrones.

Meereen

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We’re here to discuss the terms of YOUR surrender-Dany declares to the slave masters

Dany’s dragons are ALL out (YAY)!  They burn up several sailors on one of the ships in the slavers’ armada, then totally destroy that ship.  (She’ll need the rest of those ships to sail to Westeros w/ her army of Unsullied and Dothraki.)  As some viewers noted, the CGI fires were NOT as strong as they’d expected. 

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Tyrion seems to be (unofficially) the Hand of the Queen now.  Also, wasn’t it cool when gracefully/quickly Grey Worm sliced the necks of the two slavers!

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Yara and Theon get an audience w/ Dany; Tyrion is also there to advise.  Tyrion cuts down Theon, who had made fun of him WAY back in S1.  The Greyjoys let Dany know of their uncle’s (Euron’s) plans to give her 1,000 ships in exchange for marrying him.  I LOVED the chemistry between Dany and Yara (as did MANY viewers)!  The two strong women leaders form an alliance (w/ a handshake). 

Winterfell

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The day before the big battle, Jon, Sansa, Davos, and even young Lyanna Mormont (LOVED her little mean face) ride out to get the measure of Ramsay and his bannermen.  Did you count how MANY times Ramsay (who is himself a bastard) called Jon “bastard?”  It was almost in every sentence!

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Just don’t do what he wants you to do!  -Sansa warns Jon re: Ramsay’s (game-playing) mindset

Davos and Tormund have a brief talk the night before the battle.  Then Davos goes for a walk and finds the little deer that he’d carved for Shireen last season.  Uh oh, Melisandre better watch out!

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Was there ANY hope for poor Rickon!?  Hmmm… maybe for a second I thought he could make it across the field.  But we know (from previous seasons) that Ramsay is VERY accurate w/ his bow and arrows. 

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On the second watch, I realized that he was missing on purpose until the last one (which struck Rickon in the chest).  Jon rode out to try and rescue Rickon, which was exactly what Ramsay wanted! 

The battle was one of the best Medieval battles I’d ever seen… and battles in general.  Itamar Harel (GoT Academy)

The director definitely took inspiration from Braveheart (EX: Lord Umber’s battle cry) and Saving Private Ryan; several critics and viewers pointed this out.  The dead bodies of the Northmen and Wildlings getting piled up one on top of another brought to mind the crowded graves of the Civil War (as seen in Glory). 

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Wasn’t this shot (from high above the battle) just AWESOME!?  The lords of The Vale (under orders from Littlefinger) ride in and knock the Bolton soldiers (w/ the tall shields) over like dominos.  Then, they enter the center of the fight and have at it w/ ALL the soldiers.

Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear. -Sansa declares to Ramsay before his own hounds (unfed for seven days) attack him

What did you think of the (VERY satisfying) demise of Ramsay?  I thought that Jon would just punch him to death, BUT it was Sansa who FINALLY got her revenge- YAY!!! 

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (NOW PLAYING)

By now, my regular readers know that I’m watching these movies for Richard Armitage… and also Martin Freeman.  Like my lil sis and BIL (they watched w/ me, lil bro, & Mom during the holiday break) said, these don’t come close to the LOTR films. Well, at least we finished the trilogy out.  For those who wanted fighting, you won’t be disappointed here!  For those of us who wanted more characterization, our time has ended (as Elrond said re: elves). 

Bard the Bowman (and his adorable kids) create some family drama with their chemistry/dynamics.  Gandalf is a part of the film, too.  Fans of Orlando Bloom will be happy to see more (unrealistic) stunts and tricks from Legolas.  I honestly didn’t mind the Kili and Tauriel parts, though I thought she was too emotional (in the end) for an elf.  Book readers, I’m sure you didn’t want these elves around!  

Armitage does get a FEW nice moments, though I think more could’ve been explored with his dragon sickness.  As for the other dwarves, they are just hanging out in the background (too bad).  I liked the opening sequence (with Smaug).  Later on, I enjoyed the precision of the army of elves and the regular folk of the town trying to protect themselves (as best as they could).  Overall, see it for the (continuing) special effects and the deaths (NOT a shock to you, I hope)! 

 

Please Join #NS10 – A Fan-Based 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Premiere of North & South AND a Read-Along of the Book!

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Daniela Denby-Ashe (Margaret Hale) and Richard Armitage (John Thornton) in North & South. (Premiere date: November 14, 2004.) Daniela Denby-Ashe (Margaret Hale) and Richard Armitage (John Thornton) in North & South. (Premiere date: November 14, 2004.)

CELEBRATE THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF NORTH & SOUTH WITH US! The weekend of Nov. 14 marks the 10th anniversary of the BBC series North & South, and we are planning a fan-based, online GLOBAL celebration.

Thanks to Tara Jarrett for the terrific “Selfie-While-Watching” idea!

First:
The Facebook page for the initiative is here: http://bit.ly/NS10th
FB event page: http://bit.ly/NS10EVENTPAGE
Twitter Account: Twitter: NS10 @NandS10th
Email account: ns10thanniversary at gmail.com

Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. During the weekend of November 14, watch N&S and take a selfie of you watching (Shy people: if you, like me, are shy about taking a selfie that includes your face, don’t be concerned. My selfie is going to be of my TV with my legs stretched out on the coffee table in front of my sofa!).
  2. Post your photo on…

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (NOW PLAYING)

The company is getting close to Erebor...
The company is getting close to Erebor…

I saw this film during its second week, b/c I wanted to wait until my lil bro was visiting.  He said that “the first movie was slow,” an opinion shared by several friends/acquaintances of mine.  My mom mainly went to see Richard Armitage (she’s a fan, too).  I loved the LOTR films, so I continue to follow these films. 

SPOILERS: Don’t read further if you have not yet seen, or don’t want to know, details from this film.

Bilbo (Martin Freeman) fights a giant spider in Mirkwood Forest
Bilbo (Martin Freeman) fights a giant spider in Mirkwood Forest

Bilbo becomes “a more rounded character” (Freeman’s words) in this film.  He uses the ring (several times) to get out of jams, kills an orc (his first kill, I believe), and then faces off against a giant spider.  We see how his little sword, later bequeathed to Frodo,  got its name- Sting. 

The throne of the elven king, Thranduil
The throne of the elven king, Thranduil

Gandalf goes off (again) to see the gathering evil in Dol Guldur.  We hear the voice of The Necromancer (later known as Sauron), voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.  Yes, he is everywhere these days, and I’m not complaining! 

The dwarves go into Mirkwood Forest, which is not a friendly, cheery place like Rivendell.  The king, Thranduil (Lee Pace), is a very interesting character; I wanted to see a bit more of him.  He can do and say whatever he pleases in this realm.  Thranduil disapproves of his son Legolas’ (Orlando Bloom) “partiality” (perhaps love?) of Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), the captain of the royal guard. 

Thranduil (Lee Pace) talks to Thorin
Thranduil (Lee Pace) talks to Thorin

There is no love lost between Thranduil and Thorin (Armitage), since the elves didn’t come to the dwarves’ aid many years back (when the dragon attacked).  I loved the cut-down/insult scene between Thranduil and Thorin; Richard said was his favorite bit of acting in DOS

Thorin glares at Thranduil
Thorin glares at Thranduil

As I said before, great acting is the eyes.  We can see the hate/distrust between the two leaders, and their races, displayed here.   

Legolas (Orlando Bloom) listens to Tauriel & Kili
Legolas (Orlando Bloom) listens to Tauriel & Kili

On Twitter (and beyond), some book readers commented “Why is Legolas here?  He doesn’t add anything.  He takes away from Bilbo’s story.”   Since I haven’t read any of these books, I can’t comment on that aspect.  Legolas gets some cool action moments (as in the LOTR films), but doesn’t make a big mark otherwise.  Tauriel, not in the book, is a nicely-developed character.  She’s quick to act, a tough fighter, but also caring.  Tauriel wants to help the dwarves along on their quest, especially when they are overrun by orcs.   

Kili (Aidan Turner)
Kili (Aidan Turner)

Some people didn’t like the (potential?) romance between Tauriel and Kili, but I thought their scenes were very well-done.  After a while, I got tired of all the action sequences Aidan Turner (aside from being handsome/likeable) is a good actor, I realized. 

The barrel scene (the dwarves escape the dungeon)
The barrel scene (the dwarves escape the dungeon)

The barrel scene was very cool, I have to admit.  (I’d seen bits of it before on BTS clips.)  Richard said that at one point, he was “dragged under by the current” and had to be pulled out of the “freezing cold water.”

The new characters: Bard (Luke Evans) & Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly)
The new characters: Bard (Luke Evans) & Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly)

The human, Bard the Bowman, was a highlight in this film (even more that Tauriel).  Luke Evans has a very strong voice and lovely (Welsh) accent.  I loved his scene with Thorin at the foot of the mayor’s house.  Both men have fallen from what they were born to, we learn. 

Bard's kids in their Laketown home

Bard’s kids are very cute/sweet, don’t you think?  The two girls are not professional actors; they are daughters of James Nesbitt (who plays Bofur).  When orcs attack, they are very stunned, but Tauriel and Legolas come to the rescue.  Tauriel applies an herb, found by Bofur, to Kili’s leg wound and says an elvish prayer. 

At the door to Erebor (The Lonely Mountain)
At the door to Erebor (The Lonely Mountain)

Bilbo figures out another riddle, allowing the company to see the door to Erebor.  Hmmm… why did Thorin give up before Bilbo?  Some viewers wondered this.  Armitage shines in the (quiet) scene that follows- he’s feeling like more of a king. 

Sidenote: Some viewers enjoyed the fact that Thorin’s voice was not as gruff/deep as in AUJ; it was more natural.  Since Richard has such a wonderful voice, why change it? 

Bilbo meets Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch)
Bilbo meets Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Yes, Smaug is very big/impressive, as I heard!  Cumberbatch worked two weeks on the voice (which is fabulous) and the motion capture (as Andy Serkis did with Gollum).  In effect, the dragon’s expressions resemble his (to some extent).  Bilbo is scared, so he stays calm and flatters the dragon, while the dwarves go about their plans.  However, the molten gold doesn’t kill Smaug, and he flies off to attack Laketown.  Awww man, we have to wait another year!    

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Other Items:

Q&A w/ Richard & Lee

Richard’s voice on UK commercial