Favorites of the Year 2015: Movies, Series, Books & Talents

It’s that time of the year where I share my favorite everything. Without further ado, here they are!

Happy New Year!

Movies

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Scene from a Movie

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Everything that involves Luis telling a story about something somebody said! (And pretty much all of Michael Peña’s scenes in Ant-Man.)

Also: EVERYTHING in Mad Max: Fury Road but especially the final chase sequence that ends with Immortan Joe’s death; the Ares III Crew’s rescue of Mark Watney with that near miss at the end; Bing Bong’s disappearance in Inside Out; the ‘head popping’ scene in Kingsman; Thomas the Tank Engine’s cameo in Ant-Man; old Sherlock Holmes’ break down in Mr. Holmes‘ most emotional scene; Tom Hardy fighting Tom Hardy in Legend!

Series

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Last year Fargo was my top favorite TV series. This year, it’s my favorite series on TV as well. The second season of Fargo is, in fact, much crazier and more violent than the the first season with the same level of script cleverness from the writers and acting brilliance from the cast. The one area where it’s better than the first season is the soundtrack. Also, it’s proving to be a show driven by amazing female performers: Alison Tolman won the first season for me, now it’s Kirsten Dunst’s turn. Her character is annoying (you wish you could just stab her repeatedly) but Miss Dunst just SHINES in this role. All the awards (again)!

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My absolute favorite web series, Sense8 was worth all the effort I made to watch it. All the characters are interesting, although not too developed that there’s no room for them to grow. In fact, the main attraction of the show is to see how the eight of them grew into their own skin after the troubles they faced. The number of characters also mean that some of them aren’t as prominent as the others but the concept is mind-blowing and the execution is flawless. Plus, it has a great opening credits and shiver-inducing music. Perfect.

Also: Marvel’s Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, London Spy, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Hannibal series finale, Wolf Hall, How to Get Away with Murder, Jekyll and Hyde, Poldark, Grimm, Galavant, Blindspot, Broadchurch and Quantico!

Books


I spent the entire year reading Joseph Delaney’s Wardstone Chronicle (with fear and trepidation from all the horror). But reading the book successfully erased my severe disappointment with the movie version. Despite that, I still use the still from the movie to illustrate my love for this series because without that disappointment, I wouldn’t have been driven to read the entire series. Book reviews are available at Bookerie.


I don’t usually listen to audiobooks but this one is one of my favorites this year. OBVIOUSLY.:)

And the rest…

Talent Interview

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Obviously this year is a FANTASTIC year in terms of interviewing talents. Pixar’s Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen come to mind, and Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar and the cast of Halfworlds as well. But of course the best was getting to talk to Mads Mikkelsen and Richard Armitage for the last season of Hannibal. The best of them all, however, was Mr. George Miller – director of my favorite movie of 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road – by phone. He indulged me for a 45-minute conversation and answered all of my ridiculous questions (because I’m a Mad Max novice!) He was very, very friendly and nice and articulate. I love these great taltens and I love my job.

Favorites of the Year 2014: Movies, TV Series & Books

Every year I make a list of favorite things. It’s fun to review what I watched, listened to, and read all year long… 2014 was a great year of movies and TV series, but not so much with books (although I still managed to come up with a Top 10 list of favorites!)

Here they are, my Favorites of the Year list!

Movies

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Scene from a Movie

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I want you back, Baby Groot!

Also: Tom Hiddleston’s Adam licking blood on a stick; the Society of Crossed Keys helping out M. Gustive; the White Council storming Dol-Guldur in the most BAMF way; and all the way Tom Cruise lives, dies and repeats.

TV Series

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Fargo was the best because watching this limited series of 10 episodes in which the people in it – with the exception of very few – do some incredibly stupid things, every single time, has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my TV watching activity this year. The cast is absolutely stellar (Allison Tolman pretty much wins 2014), not just in reputation but also in performance, and I can barely think of a murder mystery that is so finely done as this one.

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Ripper Street‘s return after its ‘cancellation’ is also exciting. Sorry, Mr. Holmes, but this year I think I like my detectives broody, in awesome hats, and named Bennet Drake, Edmund Reid and Homer Jackson. Plus, this show has Long Susan. That wins the contest from every angle.

AlsoThe Musketeers for all the men and Peter Capaldi in costumes; Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. for Director Coulson; The Strain because it’s from one of my favorite book trilogies; The Fall S2 because Stella Gibson and Paul Spector bring on the creepy all the time; 24: Live Another Day because of the stellar ensemble cast and the addictive feeling it brings; Jane The Virgin for all the hilarity (and the narrator); How To Get Away With Murder because Viola Davis is a goddess; and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey for all the SCIENCE!

Books

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(Bonus point for anyone who can spot the two M/M novels in this list!)

Talent Interview

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Interviewing Viola Davis, Hugh Jackman and James Gunn made my year. Three incredibly talented people who inspired me so much this year. They deserve all of our respect and admiration… I am so proud to call myself their fan.

10 Things I Love About BBC’s The Musketeers (Part 1)

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Among many of the literature adaptations that movies and TV serve to us, Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers must be one of the more prevalent ones. The most recent one came to us not so long in the past – in 2011, Paul W.S. Anderson directed a version of Dumas’ classic novel with Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz and Orlando Bloom in it. Going further back, in 1993, Disney Musketeered with Chris O’Donnell, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Oliver Platt. So when, in 2014, BBC threw us another version of Dumas’ story – created by Adrian Hodges and entitled The Musketeers – one of my complaints was: AGAIN? REALLY?

I was ready to hate it. I went into it with no enthusiasm whatsoever. I had zero expectation when I decided to try out the first episode, out of boredom (not even curiosity!) Despite having Luke Pasqualino, whom I thought was a gorgeous eye candy from Snowpiercer, and Maimie McCoy, whom I became a fan of in Endeavour, I really had not thought to pick up this series for watching.

Oh, how wrong I was!

Instead of being bored by The Musketeers, I was thoroughly entertained by it. It’s not even the same case as BBC’s Atlantis, which entertained me through its addictive cheesiness and sheer balls for wrecking Greek mythology. I was seriously entertained by The Musketeers to the point of looking forward to it as my weekly dose of fun and recommending it to others. It’s mindless entertainment, yes, and it’s probably only half historically accurate but it’s definitely more inventive and imaginative than what W.S. Anderson gave us in 2011 with his movie… perhaps it’s precisely the lack of ‘Americanism’ in this show (it is, after all, made by the BBC) that I find enjoyable. To be fair, for being a French story, this show is lacking a lot of Frenchism as well, but what the heck. At least it feels European, instead of American, this time.

In short, this is a period costume drama with attractive people and adventurous plots in it – all the recipes for a good popcorn excitement in front of the TV. For me, that’s just wonderful! It keeps me from getting bored anyway.

Now that the show is coming to an end (season finale is on Sunday, 30 March 2014 in the UK), I’ve decided to sit down and properly think of the reasons why I like this show so much. As a result, I came up with a list of 10 reasons why I love it. My goal is to convince more people to watch it – either by tuning into it via BBC iPlayer or buying the DVD/Blu-ray that’s coming out soon. (Or, hey, torrent. I’m not judgmental.)

For reading convenience, I split the list into two parts. You are warned for ramblings, fangirling and possible spoilers  in each of the points. Enjoy! And hopefully you’ll be convinced to watch the show. Continue reading

Mark Gatiss Reigns Over Television with 3 Hit Shows

First appeared in totalfilmindonesia.com as “Mark Gatiss Menguasai Dunia TV dengan 3 Acara Besar“.

Mark Gatiss Reigns Over Television with 3 Hit Shows

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It’s 2014 and your television will seek to occupy more of your time with top notch series. A couple of those coming to viewers in Indonesia are the planet’s biggest shows on TV: Sherlock (a BBC production that is broadcast in Indonesia via AXN Asia) and Game Of Thrones (HBO’s original production broadcast via HBO Asia). Some might wonder, what do these two disparate shows – one is a modern detective story and the other is a historical fantasy drama – have in common besides having hoards of fans? As it turns out they have English actor and writer, Mark Gatiss, in common.

Total Film Indonesia recently talked to the Sherlock co-creator who is about to make his Westeros debut as Tycho Nestoris, a character from the book who is a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos, coming to collect royal debts, in the fourth season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones.

“I might be coming back later on [to GoT] but this is just brief [turn],” says Gatiss by phone from Liverpool.

Playing Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes, the actor also says that his character was inspired by the same characted played by Christopher Lee in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and decided not by Stephen Fry’s Mycroft in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011). “Stephen’s version of Mycroft is totally different to mine. There’s no need to compare, really, it’s just a different universe,” Gatiss insists. “Stephen’s a very old friend of mine and I know how thrilled he was to be asked to do it. He used to be the youngest member of the Sherlock Holmes society when he was a child. It was a dream come true for him to do it. It’s lovely to think that the world has as many Sherlocks and as many Mycrofts in it.”

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Scenes Of A Sexual Nature

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I watched Scenes Of A Sexual Nature the other day, in order to write about Andrew Lincoln’s performance in there, and I surprisingly liked it quite a lot. It’s a very low key movie with not much happening except people talking about relationships, which should be very boring, but there are some funny bits and amazing performances by some of the actors we’ve come to know as mainstream stars these days.

Lincoln, in particular, shows off a finely tuned comic timing. He’s always been a great comedic actor, which was why he wanted to do Strike Back at that time, because he wanted to play a badass role in something not comedy. He got his wish, of course, playing Rick Grimes but it’s been almost four years since he first took on Rick and now I miss his romcoms and funnier roles. Seeing him in a humorous act in this movie was so refreshing that I just wanted to back some more and watch all of his old movies.

But Tom Hardy.

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I swear this man is a genius. First, he’s got a great range. He can play anythingbecause he can do it all. Secondly, he’s got a way with voice. I mean, whatever accent he needs to do, it never seems to bother him because everything flows just right in the perfect pitch from him. And finally, there’s the looks. That he is good-looking, there is no doubt, but he’s no classic beauty. He’s got a distinctive look but he can always transform his face and his entire body to suit the characters that he plays. Here, you get his real face but with a slightly different hairstyle and wearing tight polo tee and tight jeans and boom, he transforms. (Does any of this make sense?)

I just love to see him perform because he always loses himself completely in those roles and manage to sell those characters to us. The only other British actor I’ve seen who can do this is Martin Freeman. Martin, too, is an actor who can convincingly sell a character to us – no matter what the setting or the background is – and he loses his own personality in the roles he plays. Guys like Hardy and Freeman are always fun and exciting to watch because when I watch them, I get preoccupied in their characters’ stories and plight. In Tom Hardy’s case, I can name a few of my favorites: Stuart, Handsome Bob, Eames, Tommy Conlon and Ricki Tarr. And now there’s Noel from Scenes Of A Sexual Nature.

Films like Star Trek: Nemesis and The Dark Knight Rises didn’t give him enough to work with so his performances in these two franchises are probably more forgettable than others but he truly shines in character-driven films.

TLDR: I love Tom Hardy. I adore him. I can’t wait to see what he does next (i.e.Locke and Child 44).

Scenes Of A Sexual Nature: Recommended. Watch it for the performances, not for the story.

Favorites Of The Year 2013: Movies

It was tough picking my favorite movies of 2013. The problem is not because there aren’t any films to choose from, but I feel that 2013 has not been a very festive year for movies. For example, there weren’t many good animation and musicals. Most of the sci-fi films  were a disappointment despite this year’s unprecedented number of original and adapted sci-fi scripts. And let’s not even talk about Indonesian films – none of them made it into my list this year.

The ones I did pick, however, to be in the Top 10, I believe to be truly in a league of their own. The rest are okay; some are guilty pleasures and many others are important movies that I felt were educational for myself personally. What’s interesting is that I have movies in this list played by the same actors. Martin Freeman, Luke Evans, Vin Diesel, Chris Hemsworth, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba. Apparently, my taste is kind of obvious!

Favorite Movies of 2013

Note: The movies listed here aren’t all released in 2013, but I watched them all this year.

1. Gravity

Despite having only watched it once, Gravity tops this list simply because it’s a stunning movie. It has the guise of a scientific story with shiny and highly advanced special effects but the story is really about loss and grief, accepting and overcoming it, and then finally moving on. With a terrific performance by Sandra Bullock (if she doesn’t win an award for this role, I will hate award committees everywhere), and an entertaining turn by George Clooney, Gravity is a thrilling space adventure and a truly inspirational story. As brilliant as the sweeping 13-minute non-stop opening shot is, my favorite bit is the ending. Truly brilliant. I salute you, Alfonso Cuarón!

2. Pacific Rim

The Mexican domination continues in this list as Guillermo del Toro gives me my first favorite movie of the year. Pacific Rim is, on top of all, an achievement of vision, innovation and ideas. This is the movie that teaches us to dream so big, so crazy, that it makes sense. It is also a love letter to the mecha and Kaiju genre that del Toro and many of his fans, myself included, grew up with. I will be forever grateful to him for giving us Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi), one of the most badass female characters in an action movie ever. And good Lord, all those beautiful Jaegers… move over, Transformers! Clearly, you don’t stand a chance against Gipsy, Striker, Crimson and Cherno!

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Star Trek Into Darkness: TF (Indonesia) Interview: Benedict Cumberbatch

THE TOTAL FILM (INDONESIA) INTERVIEW: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

Scientist. Dragon. Spy. Name the role and he’ll be on a roll (brilliantly, too). As one of the most talented British actor of today, Benedict Cumberatch has stolen a million hearts as Sherlock Holmes. Now he’ll steal a lot more as the main villain in Star Trek Into Darkness. But he denies, “I don’t feel like a villain…

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PORTRAIT BRIAN BOWEN SMITH

KHAAAAAAN! Khan? Not quite. John Harrison? Debatable. You’ll have to forgive us if even until now we still can’t believe the name of the character Benedict Cumberbatch plays in J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi extravaganza Star Trek Into Darkness, a sequel to the franchise’s 2009 reboot Star Trek, is actually called John Harrison. Considering this is a movie by the master of twisted turns such as Abrams, we reserve the right to remain skeptical until we sit inside a cinema and directly watch the film.

But what we’ll never be skeptical about is the actor acting the villain. Cumberbatch, with acting blood in his veins, is not just any actor. If he’s got a legion of female admirers (and perhaps a few male ones too), we are entirely unsurprised. His eyes and cheekbones can really cut through the heart of many… and who doesn’t like a charming, intelligent Brit man with plenty of wit? Which is why it comes as a surprise that this London-born thesp (born 19 July 1976) built the earlier part of his career out of playing prats, like that pompous windbag Patrick Watts in Starter For 10 and molester Paul Marshall in Atonement. Even now, his new roles are still leaning towards the evil: recently Islington in BBC 4 Radio Extra’s Neverwhere, Smaug the dragon and The Necromancer in The Hobbit, and of course ‘John Harrison’.

When we first saw him in BBC’s Sherlock, we almost couldn’t believe that this detective was fleshed out by the same man who brought scientist Stephen Hawking in Hawking (2004). The transition from a smart and sympathetic figure like Hawking to an arrogant investigator with little to no moral conscience, though, does prove one thing: that despite having an army of fans as widespread as NATO’s military units (maybe even beyond), Cumberbatch has given evidence that he is a quality actor rich in experience, range and particular charisma.

Watching him act is a one of a kind experience (when we watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where he assisted Gary Oldman that hit Tom Hardy and making small talk with Colin Firth, our row was shamelessly noisy, doling out praises), and John Harrison – or whoever his name is – appears set to be his most entertaining role ever since Sherlock Holmes. It is ironic, then, that his actor parents (Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham) wanted their son to be a lawyer. What would cinema be without Cumberbatch? Although, from the way he evades STID spoilers, we’re very sure he’d make a good lawyer too… Continue reading