Living the Dream is the Best Revenge

Absolutely Fabulous

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Director: Mandie Fletcher

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Julia Sawahla, Gwendoline Christie, Kathy Burke, Celia Imrie, Robert Webb, Chris Colfer, Lily Cole, Kate Moss, Joan Collins, Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson

Living the dream is the best revenge sweetie darlings especially when you apparently kill supermodel and party waif Kate Moss. Yes Patsy and Edina are back!

Its director Mandie Fletcher’s full screen film version of the hit BBC TV series Absolutely Fabulous featuring the notorious Patsy superbly played by Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Edina based on a hilarious screenplay by Jennifer Saunders who plays her in the film.

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Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious, making lots of smart references to current and past British pop culture from celebrities (look out for guest appearances by Graham Norton, Suki Waterhouse), to Technology to Fashion. Set in London, Patsy and Edina find themselves fresh out of Bolly (Champagne, darlings) and realize that their credit cards have been cut up, an oblique reference to the global recession, so naturally they have to go out and earn a living.

Edina has written a book and Patsy is still apparently running a Fashion house although it’s actually the foul-mouthed and handbag flinging Magda, a brilliant and vicious cameo by veteran actress Kathy Burke, who is really calling the shots.

At a bizarre and incredibly oversubscribed launch party for some new Fashion House, Edina accidentally bumps Kate Moss into the icy Thames River and arch PR rival Claudia Bing, garishly played by Celia Imrie, lays the blame for the supermodels apparent demise on Edina and of course Patsy – it’s guilty by association, sweetie darlings! Audiences should look out for cameos by Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) and Joan Collins of Dynasty fame.

The London fashion world plunges into a media frenzy as everyone darlings, including the gay boys and Gwendoline Christie go into mourning. Edina is vilified on Twitter, she even complains to her straight laced daughter Saffy, wonderfully played by Julia Sawahla, that she is a pariah.

Saffy asks “Do you know what a pariah is mother?” Edina answers: “Yes darling it’s a fish”.

Even designer Stella McCartney throws a brick threw their Holland Park window, and then Patsy and Edina realize after much vodka and drugs, that its best to go on the run. To where sweetie darlings?

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Cannes, on the French Riviera where everyone is a foreign yet glamourous criminal. Naturally darlings! The second half of Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious. Soon the French police track the infamous pair down to a villa belonging to the wealthiest dowager on the Riviera.

Meanwhile back in London, French designer Jean-Paul Gautier is strolling by the Thames and who should emerge from the river, still looking gorgeous, Sauvignon Blanc in one hand and cigarette in the other?

Whilst Patsy and Edina constantly lose the plot, so does the film version of Absolutely Fabulous, but nevertheless it is still a hilarious fun-filled romp, paying homage to the successful and long running TV show which became a massive BBC hit.

Absolutely Fabulous is not everyone’s glass of Bolly darlings.

Like similar transformations of 30 minute hit TV series into 90 minute films namely Entourage and Sex and the City, Absolutely Fabulous, the movie will only really appeal to those that faithfully followed the TV series and are naturally knowledgeable about current British pop culture. Nevertheless, sweetie darlings, it’s still light hearted and bloody good fun!

 

Overdue but worth the wait

Bridget Jones’ Baby

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Director: Sharon Maguire

Cast: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Joanna Scanlan, Sarah Solemani, Celia Imrie

Oscar winner Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) after a six year screen absence reprises her role of Bridget Jones in the third instalment of the hit film franchise, simply entitled Bridget Jones’ Baby. The first two films were based on the bestselling novels by Helen Fielding. Zellweger tackles her role of Bridget Jones with familiar vigour and she is joined onscreen for continuity purposes by Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) as uptight London lawyer Mark Darcy and new comer Patrick Dempsey as dating expert Jack Qwaint.

Zellweger and Firth have matured as actors which is evident onscreen, for the best scenes in Bridget Jones’ Baby is shared between them.

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Bridget Jones finds herself at 43, working as a TV assistant producer for a zany London talk show which is being threatened by a group millennials. She begins to question whether she will ever have a baby, because let’s face it her biological clock is ticking. Never fear!

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With the help of her new best friend the naughty TV host Miranda, wonderfully played by Sarah Solemani, Bridget Jones soon lands up having amorous relationships first with Jack at a music festival which strongly resembles Glastonbury, shorty followed by a similar sexy scene where Jones and Darcy rekindle their much repressed love for each other at a Christening of a mutual friends baby.

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As per the film’s title, Bridget Jones soon finds herself knocked up but not quite sure who the father is. Enter a delightful cameo by Emma Thompson as her droll doctor who plays along for the sake of decency.

Bridget Jones also has to break the news of her pregnancy to her parents. Her mother who is running for some minor political office is superbly played by Gemma Jones and her father once again played by Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris) is naturally supportive of his daughter carrying their first grandchild despite her not quite knowing who the father is.

I would be lying if Bridget Jones’ Baby is not aimed at a female audience, as the primary narrative in the film is about the main characters pregnancy and her impending birth, as well as trying to survive the pregnancy with the help of two potential fathers who naturally see themselves as rivals. There is a hilarious scene when Bridget Jones has to be rushed to the hospital only to eventually be carried by both of them, Mark Darcy and Jack Qwaint.

With the help of a delightfully witty script, director Sharon Maguire does justice to the Bridget Jones franchise even leaving the possibility open for a fourth film since Jones’ other main suitor the devilishly handsome Daniel Cleaver who was played by Hugh Grant in the first two films is feared dead, but body yet to be recovered…

Whilst the first half of Bridget Jones’ Baby is fun and quirky, with lots of hilarious moments, the second half does drag a bit, which was done intentionally so that the audiences could appreciate the baby when he finally arrives. Essentially, Bridget Jones’ Baby is highly recommended viewing, and should be a hit with the gang of book club ladies both young and old who seemed to pack the cinemas, shifting the film to number one at the box office.

Eliminating the Competition

Mechanic: Resurrection

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Director: Dennis Gansel

Cast: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, Toby Eddington, John Cenatiempo

Viewers of Mechanic Resurrection could be forgiven for thinking they are watching a retro 007 film. As German director Dennis Gansel’s film opens in Rio de Janeiro, it is reminiscent of Moonraker then as the next sequence moves to the South China Sea, the location is directly out of The Man with the Golden Gun.

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Action man Jason Statham reprises his role of Arthur Bishop in the sequel to the 2011 film The Mechanic, this time Bishop is courted by nefarious arms dealer Crain played by British actor Sam Hazeldine (The Huntsman: Winters War), to carry out a series of assassinations around the globe, which should look like freak accidents.

As Mechanic Resurrection moves from Rio to Bangkok, to a prison island off the Malaysian city of Penang then onto a glossy highrise in Sydney Harbour, director Ganzel makes the most out of every exotic location. Surprisingly none of the locations are in the US, which adds to the originality of the film.

In Thailand, Bishop meets the pawn in the game, Gina, played by the voluptuous and feisty Jessica Alba, and then both are involved in a dangerous game of intrigue, as Bishop is sent by Crain to kill these criminal monsters. The last of which is Max Adams played by an unrecognizable Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, Jason Bourne), who is hiding out in a Soviet era monument in the outskirts of the Bulgarian resort city of Varna.

Soon Bishop and Adams make an unholy alliance to take Crain down and the rest of Mechanic Resurrection is an old style action film, as bad guys are dispatched in the hundreds, particularly in a scene on a luxurious yacht on the Black Sea. Bishop literally eliminates the competition.

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The most dazzling scene in the film is the cantilever swimming pool which juts out of a Sydney Harbour apartment building which Bishop sabotages to kill arms dealer and child trafficker, the suave Adrian Cook played by Toby Eddington.

Mechanic Resurrection is an old style action film, the kind film studios used to make between the mid-1980 and 1990’s. Think Rambo, Die Hard or True Lies. It’s a great popcorn film.

The stunts are outrageous, the locations out of a bond film and naturally the buff Jason Statham is perfect as the fit action hero ready to save the gorgeous Gina held captive on a yacht fill of thugs.

Clearly inspired by the Bond franchise, director Dennis Gansel pays homage to some of the classic 007 films giving the look of Mechanic Resurrection that fabulously exotic retro feel. Even former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) stars as Mei, Bishop’s friend and confidant in the South China Sea.

Mechanic Resurrection is 90 minutes of pure action, fabulous locations and complete escapism, sometimes it’s just what audiences need to escape the mundane realities of daily life. Go and see it. It’s fun and certainly entertaining!

Bullets and Bravado

War Dogs

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Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Pollak, Julian Sergi, Ana de Armas, Shaun Taub, Mehdi Merali, Wallace Langham

The Hangover director Todd Phillips tries to emulate Scorsese or de Palma in his latest film War Dogs about two twenty something misfits David Packouz and Ephraim Diveroli played by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill respectively, who inadvertently become arms dealers for the US. Government in the twilight of the Bush administration’s War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.

Unlike Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street or even Brian de Palma’s Scarface, War Dogs does not pack the same visceral shock value. Punctuated by a set of script markers, War Dogs plunders along with a terrible script and a director who clearly should have stuck to comedy.

As an audience member watching Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in this film, one can be forgiven for feeling slightly embarrassed for them. Both actors have produced better work especially Jonah Hill in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street, while Teller was suitably terrified opposite the superb J.K. Simmons in Damien Chazelle’s Oscar winner Whiplash.

The problem with War Dogs, as the action moves from Miami Beach to Amman to Tirana to Las Vegas and back again, is that the film starts off with so much promise, but then fails to deliver. Unlike the marginally better Andrew Niccol’s film Lord of War, War Dogs does not give up its moral compass or ask the audience to judge but merely shows two ambitious young men desperate to earn a fast million in America’s war-mongering capitalist economy prior to the financial crisis hitting in late 2008.

What War Dogs does provide is a theory that war is never about the human conflict but more about the financial business of providing weapons for soldiers fighting in foreign lands. War is a big business, less so in recent years as it has given way to sinister urban terrorism.

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Packouz and Diveroli appear naïve about the ethical implications of the illegal arms business especially when their dangerous dealings get increasingly complicated as they try to supply the US government with Albanian bullets which are actually Chinese through a shady arms dealer Henry Girard played against type by a barely recognizable Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper, Joy, The Hangover). War Dogs also features Cuban actress Ana de Armas as Packouz’s girlfriend Iz.

Despite Jonah Hill emulating his character in The Wolf of Wall Street, his version of Ephraim Diveroli comes off as a fast talking foul-mouthed con-man with a penchant for screwing his partner and having absolutely no moral fibre.

With bullets and bravado, War Dogs fails to deliver, leaving these talented actors floundering with a bad script and a morally skewed film which could have been so much better, not to mention insightful.

Heroism on the Hudson

Sully

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Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Valerie Mahaffey, Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Anna Gunn, Holt McCallany, Sam Huntington, Max Adler

Clint Eastwood has turned into a brilliant director. At the age of 86 after a successful career in iconic films, Eastwood has shown a deft and experienced hand behind the camera. Just think Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino.

Now Eastwood as director turns in another remarkable cinematic achievement in the riveting retelling of the fateful day on the 15th January 2009 when an experienced airline pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger makes a decision to land an airbus on the icy Hudson River and by doing so avoids an aviation calamity. As a film Sully is helped by the innovative script by Todd Komarnicki, who employs a non-linear approach to the narrative.

Sully is a top notch portrayal of a good news story, a superb retelling of a bizarre incident which caused 30 years of human experience and a huge desire to save everyone on board, into an unrivalled act of heroism. The feat was stunning. In the shadow of 9/11, for once an aircraft disaster did not end in tragedy over the Manhattan skyline.

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Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forest Gump) in one of his finest portrayals onscreen since Bridge of Spies, plays Chelsey Sullenberger, or Sully as the film title suggests who despite saving all 155 passengers and crew on board a USAirlines flight from La Guardia to Charlotte, North Carolina, goes horribly wrong when the plane hits a bird strike and both engines are destroyed. Sully has to land the airbus in the Hudson River on a freezing January day.

What Eastwood does so cleverly is he sets up doubt immediately in the audiences mind as Sully opens with potential scenarios of what could have gone wrong, the airbus crashing into a skyscraper or worse.

Then besides the doubt and aviation investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the cause of the crash and whether as aircraft captain, he made the right judgement call, Sully faithfully recreates all the events of that miraculous day from the plane taking off and its descent into the river separating New York from New Jersey.

Hanks is superb in this role, choosing to downplay all the traumatic emotions which usually spring from such a courageous event and focus on his own conviction that whatever could have been simulated would never have occurred in real life, involving experienced human beings dealing with an exceptional situation. What saved all 155 passengers on board that flight was a confluence of timing, experience and intuition.

For what Sully does point out is that most aircraft water landings end in tragedy or worse absolute disappearance like flight MH370 which vanished into the South Indian Ocean soon after take-off from Kuala Lumpur en-route to Beijing in 2014. The wreckage of that aircraft is still being searched for to this day.

Sully is a genuine rendition of a miraculous and courageous event, a well-crafted and mature film cleverly directed by Clint Eastwood and beautifully acted by Tom Hanks. As Oscar season is on the way, then Sully should be one of its first contenders for Best Director and Best Actor. Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney have supporting roles as loyal co-pilot and anxious wife respectively.

Highly recommended viewing. Sully is a must see film.

Blood Money

Our Kind of Traitor

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Director: Susanna White

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Pawel Szajda, Marek Oravec, Alicia von Rittberg, Jana Perez, Khalid Abdalla, Mark Stanley, Alec Utgoff

Based upon the bestselling novel by John le Carre, Iranian screenwriter Hossein Amini’s (Drive, The Two Faces of January) adaptation of Our Kind of Traitor to the big screen is spotless, peppering most of the dialogue with that dry British repartee.

British director Susanna White turns Our Kind of Traitor into a glossy cat and mouse game of international intrigue choosing to rather hint at bloodshed than actually portraying it.

Except for the opening sequence where a Russian money launderer, his wife and daughter are brutally murdered by the Blue Eyed killer played by Pawel Szajda (Under the Tuscan Sun), Our Kind of Traitor effortlessly shifts to a glamourous Moroccan resort in Marrakech where British couple Perry and Gail Makepeace expertly played by Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Spectre) are unwittingly drawn into a murky world of international intrigue when Perry befriends the exuberant Dima colourfully portrayed by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard.

Dima gives Perry a flash drive containing names of the Russian mob who are planning on setting up a shady Cypriot bank in London and Dima as money launderer for the head of the Russian mob, Prince, played by Grigoriy Dobrygin (A Most Wanted Man), knows that his family are under imminent threat.

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As the action moves from Marrakech to London, Perry is detained at Heathrow by suave Mi6 agent Hector, elegantly played by Damian Lewis of Homeland fame.

In the shadowy world of international money laundering Hector uncovers that there are indeed links between corrupt British MP Aubrey Longrigg played by Jeremy Northam and Russian mobster the Prince. In order to prove these links exist, Hector uses Perry and Gail to get close to Dima so that they can prove that such dubious transactions exist between Russian organized crime and the London financial district. Blood money as Hector so bluntly puts it to a genteel British government committee.

The action moves swiftly to Paris and then onto Bern, Switzerland, where Perry and Gail under orders of Hector make contact with Dima in order to secure the safe passage of Dima and his family out of Europe safely to British custody.

Our Kind of Traitor is an engaging and evenly paced thriller with just the right dash of exotic intrigue, hinting at a broader criminal conspiracy involving the Russian mob and London’s financial district whilst underlining the strain this covert involvement takes on the marriage of a seemingly affluent British couple.

With stylish production design by Sarah Greenwood and a polished script by Amini, Our Kind of Traitor manages to deliver a sophisticated and suspenseful thriller which most John le Carre stories are known for.

Viewers that enjoyed A Most Wanted Man and The Constant Gardener will love Our Kind of Traitor especially in the wake of a revival of most of Le Carre’s recently published novels to glossy film and television productions which recently includes the excellent AMC series The Night Manager starring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston.

Our Kind of Traitor is highly recommended viewing for a superbly adapted thriller to the big screen with a particularly brilliant performance by Stellan Skarsgard as the brave but vicious Dima who will go to any lengths to protect his family.

 

Nashville Neurosis

What’s the Matter with Gerald?

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Director: Matt Riddlehoover

Cast: Jacob York, Kathy Cash, Jonathan Everett, Angel Luis, Daniel Choico, Claudia Church, Dan Carter

Taking inspiration from Woody Allen, director Matt Riddlehoover writes and directs an amusing social comedy What’s the matter with Gerald? which recently opened the 6th Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival http://www.dglff.org.za/ after its world premiere at the Nashville Film Festival in 2016.

The film centres on wealthy Gerald, a Hush Fund man who is basically paid by his father to keep a low profile about his sexuality. Slightly overweight and completely neurotic, Gerald is in a comfortable relationship with the business orientated gay republican Charles, played by Jonathan Everett. They live a bourgeois life in contemporary Nashville, Tennessee.

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At the suggestion of a friend at a cocktail party, Gerald seeks the advice of a mysterious jeweller May wonderfully played by the wise-mouthed and unconventional Kathy Cash. Soon Gerald’s spiritual and sexual reawakening begins as he soon uses crystals to enhance his life and broaden his horizons. Those horizons include eyeing out a gorgeous young jogger played by Daniel Choico.

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Gerald’s complicated and slightly dependent relationship with his wealthy and snobbish mother Doris played by Claudia Church is soon another problem that he has to solve. Let’s face it – which gay men do not have an overly complicated relationship with their mothers?

What’s the matter with Gerald? is a delightful Nashville comedy about one thirty something man’s reawakening through a series of events brought on by his chance meeting with the wise cracking May whose best line is “Most men don’t reach maturity until they are fifty!”.

A humorous and witty comedy about Gerald’s reawakening and his transformation into a gay man who takes control of his destiny and ultimately moves out of his comfort zone. Let’s face it, how long could he go on dating a Gay Republican?! Talk about Nashville Neurosis.

An enjoyable comedy which opened to a packed audience at the 6th annual Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. We hope to see more of director Riddlehoover’s quirky films at the Durban festival in the future.

Strippers and Chorus Boys

Waiting in the Wings

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Director: Jenn Page

Cast: Jeffrey A. Johns, Adam Huss, Rena Strober, Lee Meriweather, Christopher Atkins, David Pevsner, Mitch Poulos, Matt Wool, Harrison White

Director Jenn Page’s hilarious romantic comedy Waiting in the Wings is a cross between Magic Mike and A Chorus Line.

A case of mistaken identities lands a stripper Tony played by the beautiful Adam Huss last seen in the Mediterranean short film Foreign Relations being cast in an off Broadway musical and a wannabe chorus boy Anthony played by Jeffrey A. Johns being cast in a male strip show at the Banana Peel club. Waiting in the Wings had its South African premiere at the 6th Annual Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival http://www.dglff.org.za/and is a witty musical played with fabulous vigour by the two leading actors Huss and Johns.

Audiences should look out for a cameo by Christopher Atkins as a conservative Montana priest at the start of the film. Atkins made his cinematic debut in the controversial film Blue Lagoon opposite Brooke Shields back in 1980.

Set in the off Broadway theatre district of bustling New York City, Waiting in the Wings features some exuberant performances by Rena Strober as Rita a dazzling singer and Harrison White as a Drag Queen in charge of the group of male strippers.

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Tony has to learn to sing and Anthony has to learn to dance. Both scenarios of strip club and musical theatre provide some really entertaining musical numbers and the plot involving mistaken identity is soon resolved by the ever resourceful Rita who brings the two together.

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Waiting in the Wings is a fun, exuberant comedy about mistaken identity, Broadway dreams and strippers realising that they can do more with their bodies. Naturally the script is loaded with huge doses of sexual innuendo and if audiences don’t know what that means then its best to see the film.

Highly recommended viewing, with some outrageous musical numbers especially the song about matinees this is a Gay version of A Chorus Line with ample doses of hot bodies, drag queens and dumb but gorgeous male strippers. There is eye candy for everyone plus a musical number to match!

Over the top and camp, Waiting in the Wings will be sure to put any gay audience in an even happier mood especially as it features an abundance of strippers and chorus boys.

And the good news is there is a sequel coming out soon: Waiting in the Wings: Still Waiting.

 

 

Heroic Heiress

Florence Foster Jenkins

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Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Christian McKay, John Sessions

No actress plays a diva quite like Oscar winner Meryl Streep. First it was her brilliant portrayal of the Fashion Editor Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada. Now in the capable hands of The Queen director Stephen Frears, Streep plays the delusional American heiress Florence Foster Jenkins opposite British star Hugh Grant.

For once Grant holds his own opposite Streep and as a rather stylish couple in Florence Foster Jenkins set in lavish New York musical circles in 1944 as the Second World War is drawing to a close.

Jenkins who unfortunately had an awful singing voice but believed that she could sing beautifully, enlists the help of accompanying pianist Cosme McMoon wonderfully played by Simon Helberg from the hit TV series The Big Bang Theory. Helberg acts with his eyes and his expressive disapproval of Jenkin’s awful voice is soon transformed into a fondness for the eccentric heiress who genuinely thinks her voice is superb.

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Naturally her singing ambition is encouraged by her husband St Clair Bayfield fabulously played by Hugh Grant (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sense and Sensibility). In a complicated arrangement Bayfield enjoys his conjugal activities with the gorgeous Kathleen, played by Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) who isn’t impressed with Jenkins rise in popularity.

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Three time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady) nails her interpretation of Florence Foster Jenkins as a lonely American heiress who due to an unfortunate illness, namely syphilis, is never able to have children so she sets her sights on conquering the fickle and snobbish world of classical music and in turn believes she has the makings of a star.

Her crowning achievement came during the infamous concert at Carnegie Hall where to bolster audience numbers she gave free tickets to inebriated American soldiers about to embark on a foreign war. Remember this is the golden age of radio and Jenkins exploited this medium to its fullest, soon becoming a favourite for her willpower rather than any inherent lyrical traits.

Assisted with a witty script by Nicholas Martin, Frears approaches the tale of Florence Foster Jenkins in a high camp fashion, making the film a poignant and hilarious tale of the diva whose fabulous costumes and awful singing made her the heroic heiress of New York.

Florence Foster Jenkins is a delightful film and will sure to garner some recognition for the sumptuous production design and brilliant costumes in the approaching awards seasons.

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Simon Helberg is particularly superb as McMoon who is mesmerized and scandalized by the life force that was the flamboyant Florence Foster Jenkins https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Foster_Jenkins.

This film is highly recommended viewing, a wonderfully acted tale of an heiress who certainly made the most of her fifteen minutes of fame despite popular opinion.

Lunacy Prevails

Suicide Squad

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Director: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Jared Leto, Cara Delevigne, Common, David Harbour, Scott Eastwood, Ezra Miller

After David Ayer’s impressively realistic war film, Fury, it was announced that he would be directing the highly anticipated and edgy superhero film, Suicide Squad.

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Assembling an international cast would be easy. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman and Oscar nominee Viola Davis were all on board but the real casting coup was having Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) play the Joker.

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Big crazy shoes to fill for Leto considering Oscar winner Heath Ledger did such a sterling job of playing The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s visually impressive The Dark Knight in 2008. And then there was Oscar winner Jack Nicolson’s wacky portrayal of Gotham’s most deranged villain in Tim Burton’s Batman back in the 1989.

So Suicide Squad is finally released with huge expectations including a brilliant trailer but is this new superhero film that mind-blowing? If viewers watch this film as a precursor for Warner Bros’s DC Comics expanding their cinematic universe following Batman versus Superman and the highly anticipated The Justice League to be released in 2017, then Suicide Squad will satisfy fanboys globally.

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What saves Suicide Squad is Margot Robbie’s exuberant performance as the psychopathic killer Harley Quinn who also happens to be The Joker’s deranged girlfriend.

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Equally good in Suicide Squad is Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) who plays a hard-nosed and ruthless head of a covert government organization and the brainchild behind assembling such a crazy bunch of humans and meta-humans to save Midway City, where the only bond tying the psycho killers together are a shared lunacy and the prospect of continued incarceration.

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What works against Suicide Squad is having such a young villain, model turned actress Cara Delevigne as the evil Enchantress whilst Leto’s crazy Joker has diminished screen time, but then again Leto is returning in The Justice League, so we shall see.

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Suicide Squad does lose the plot slightly, but as a superhero film especially with David Ayer at the helm, it could have been far edgier and definitely much sexier. This is where Deadpool got it right. If you are going to subvert the superhero genre do it properly especially with such a deranged cast of characters. The use of continued flashbacks in the narrative also detracts somewhat from the primary storyline.

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Despite the steam punk production design, Suicide Squad is not a brilliant film and certainly does not live up to its hype, but will be savoured by all superhero fanboys and if one views the film as a precursor to great things to come then it is outrageously entertaining. Audiences should definitely stay seated beyond the final credits.

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Unfortunately Will Smith and Joel Kinnaman seem to fumble in the film but that is primarily because they do not have sufficiently grittier and bloodier material to work with, a style which director David Ayer is more accustomed to.

See Fury to appreciate where Ayer’s real talent lies.

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