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.

Hannibal Season 3: The Tooth Fairy is Coming

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My fangirly heart was beating very hard today as I read Empire magazine’s interview with Hannibal‘s showrunner Bryan Fuller and stars Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy. The interview itself reveals nothing completely new – they even talked about King Arthur… again – but it also contains a mention of Richard Armitage and his character, Francis Dolarhyde, a.k.a. the Tooth Fairy. Which is why the upcoming third season of Hannibal has become my most anticipated show in the summer.

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The Week of the Five Finales

Saying goodbye to the best of television… for now!

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Three months ago I never though I would arrive at this point: the week where five of the TV shows that I’m following will have their season finale… Broadchurch. Sleepy Hollow. Marvel’s Agent Carter. How to Get Away with Murder. They are all ending and will soon be leaving me with the biggest post-dramatic withdrawal syndrome ever.

(But I wonder why did they all have to end in the same week. I’m convinced the TV gods are punishing me.)

SPOILER ALERT: This entry contains spoiler of the finales of every show reviewed. Please proceed with caution.

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Broadchurch Series 2: Yes, It’s Still Worth Watching

It’s not Series 1, but Broadchurch’s Series 2 is not a waste of time

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Yesterday a friend asked me what I thought of the second series of ITV’s hit show, Broadchurch. The question is not out of the blue. I think she probably wants to know if it’s worth watching.

A lot of shows struggle to keep their audience in their sophomore seasons and Broadchurch in particular have been getting some criticism in the UK (I don’t know what these criticisms are – I tend to stay away from any reviews regarding the show for fear of getting spoilers – but apparently critics in the UK have had strong complaints that even one of the cast members spoke out against them.) It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for anyone who watched the first series to get disillusioned by the sequel, so I gave my friend’s question a serious consideration. Whatever her real reason was for asking, though, the opinion I gave her yesterday still stands today. That is, while I understand the concern people might have over Broadchurch in its second series, I say that it’s worth watching.

Mind you, I’m not keen on passing judgment before the second series is over but, yes, I do think that so far Series 2 has been very different from the first series.

The first series was intense: the murder mystery was thrilling with its tight plot and a cast of suspects with their own arcs, and the emotional drama was absolutely gut-wrenching. The entire show had an amazing structure that gripped you for eight whole episodes. The second series, however, is very all over the place. Each episode is well made but to say that they are gripping? That would be an exaggeration. They introduced Alec Hardy’s Sandbrook case here, but there’s barely a connective thread between that to the courtroom drama involving the Broadchurch murder. It’s not that the legal aspect of the story isn’t interesting – I’m highly curious about whether Joe Miller, like Annalise Keating, can get away with murder – but, admittedly, it just doesn’t pack the same punch as the first series’ story.

Furthermore, some of the characters I sympathized with in S1 have become so annoying (Beth, mostly) that I wish that they could just drown in the sea. Ellie and Hardy are still compelling as characters, and I still care a lot about them (and someone better give Olivia Colman every award there is on the planet for being such a marvelous actress), but I could do without the likes of Olly and the priest and those lawyers (or barristers, I should say). Well, I suppose some of them are tolerable but, really, in the end all I really want is for someone to slap Beth and tell her to get over herself.

(Also, I’m sick of the portrayal of unscrupulous journalists by English television in ever But this is a whole different discussion, which I’d rather not get into right now.)

So  Broadchurch has changed a lot… but it’s not that it’s worse than before. It’s just that it’s different. As a series that doesn’t rely on sex, gun fights, forensic science and other ridiculous Hollywood tropes to build its story, Broadchurch still works and is still above par compared to many other filth we see on TV.  Beth may annoy me to death but at least her character has changed and developed somewhat. Claire Ripley and Lee Ashworth might creep the hell out of me but they’re great foils to Ellie and Alec. And Ellie and Alec, again, are still two of my favorite characters in any shows in the world because now we’re delving deeper into their souls. At its core, Broadchurch is still a story about people, about human beings and their flaws, and how they deal with impossibly stressful situations. For that reason, I still love it. I can’t get enough of it. I want to know more about it.

Critics are going to critique, haters are going to hate, and all that crap. I, for one, am going to enjoy it while it lasts. (And so will my mom, actually. She’s become a major Broadchurch fan since I introduced her to it. Now she can’t wait to watch new episodes…) Whatever happens, no matter what the ratings are, Broadchurch still has an audience in the two of us.

Stormy with a chance of horror

The Knick on Cinemax

The Knick on Cinemax

If you’re in Jakarta and you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, and have no idea which movie to choose from, I might be able to help you with that.

First week back to work in the post-Eid holiday, I went to three media screenings. Tuesday was Into The Storm. Wednesday I had Cinemax’s The Knick. Thursday was all about TMNT. (I also finally went ahead and saw Step Up: All In.) Today, Friday, my friends and I went to see Babadook.

Of all these, the first one I would recommend to you would actually be The Knick (see above picture). It’s a TV series, actually, but it was aired in a small cinema so we got to see it in a large screen (which is divine). It’s airing in Indonesia this Saturday, at 9 PM, on Cinemax within 24 hours after its US debut. Despite coming with warnings for triggering issues such as racism and the maximum level of gore, the pilot has great music, is rich in period details and features a wonderful performance by the cast led by Clive Owen and directed by Steven Soderbergh. It is perfect for the stay-at-home-can’t-be-bothered-to-join-the-masses-in-malls type. Television Renaissance, I tell you…

The second best thing I saw at a cinema this week that I would recommend to people would be Into The Storm.

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Everything I said in this reaction post is reason enough to pick this over the rest of this weekend’s releases. Some people are comparing it with Twister (and say that it doesn’t match that old classic – probably because there weren’t enough flying cows in this Steven Quale film) but, well. Twister is not playing in cinemas right now, is it? Disaster films can also be triggering and I imagine people who live in areas in the US that are at risk from such an occurrence might not feel that this is the film for them but the movie itself is relatable, evenly paced and easy to digest.

Here’s also where I confess to something: I almost interviewed Richard Armitage for my article but didn’t.

Into The Storm Article in TFI #57
I ended up getting a generic interview file and worked that out for my piece instead. But I’m still holding out hope that I would get to interview him in person one day. Call me a hopeless optimist but I’ve already interviewed Sarah Wayne Callies (Mr. Armitage’s co-star in Storm)  and Andrew Lincoln (his co-star in Strike Back and her co-star in The Walking Dead), so one day I will. ONE DAY.

On the meantime, I’ll just watch him in the screens.

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10 Things I Love About BBC’s The Musketeers (Part 2)

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So D’Artagnan is a cheeky bastard, every week we get character development and shenanigans, the Cardinal and Treville rock my boat in Part 1… what else? Well, here comes the fun part.

Reasons 6-10 of why I love BBC’s The Musketeers

(and they are the best reasons of them all!)

Six. Catchy theme song.

Composed by Murray Gold. An absolute ear candy. I can’t get over it. Listen for yourself. (For complete opening title sequence, watch it on Vimeo.)

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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