Archive for June, 2018

Diamonds are A Girl’s Best Friend

Oceans 8

Director: Gary Ross

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Elliott Gould, Richard Armitage, Dakota Fanning, Mindy Kaling

Pleasantville director Gary Ross assembles a truly star studded female cast in the feminine version of Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans 11 starring Oscar winners Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) alongside Oscar nominated British actress Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove), Rihanna and Sarah Paulson (Carol, 12 Years a Slave) as together they pull off a daring jewellery heist during the prestigious Met Gala held annually by Vogue Magazine at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, a newly paroled con artist who teams up with the streetwise New Yorker Lou played by Blanchett as they devise a cunning plan to rob the Met Gala and place the blame on Debbie’s egotistical art dealing ex-boyfriend Claude Becker played by Richard Armitage.

In short, Oceans 8 is a cleverly written revenge flick with lots of diamonds, a fabulous cast and glamorous settings beautifully assisted by comedian James Corden as the extremely thorough insurance investigator John Frazier, who adds some dry British humour to the entirely fashionable affair.

Audiences should watch out for some well-placed cameo’s by veteran Oscar nominated star Elliott Gould (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice) as Reuben and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, War of the Worlds) as Penelope Stern.

What holds Oceans 8 together is the fantastic onscreen chemistry between Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, all of whom make this fashionable heist film thoroughly entertaining.

Oceans 8 is an enjoyable con film with a refreshingly female take on the heist genre, proving that women can do it just as brilliantly as men, which is especially pertinent in the wake of the momentous MeToo movement which rocked Hollywood in 2017 amidst a series of sexual abuse scandals.

Definitely a glittering film for the ladies, Oceans 8 is an ideal girls night out adventure heist with beautiful clothes, diamonds to die for and an inside peak at possibly one of the most glamorous events on the American social circuit, the incredibly gorgeous Met Gala.

Oceans 8, with its slick cons and twisting narrative definitely proves the line immortalized by Marilyn Monroe that Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend. The film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Reinventing Sandra

Finding Your Feet

Director: Richard Loncraine

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley, John Sessions, David Hayman, Phoebe Nicholls

Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) plays Sandra in the British comedy Finding your Feet directed by Richard III and Wimbledon director Richard Loncraine.

Sandra discovers during her husband’s retirement party that he has been having an affair for five years which sends her on a journey of self-discovery as she gradually shrugs off the snobbery of her former life and moves in with her hippie older sister Bif played by Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Cure for Wellness).

Bif leads a completely unconventional life with the help of her friend Charlie played by British star Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) and soon the pair introduce the uptight Sandra to dance classes and a flash mob dance contest in Piccadilly Circus to create awareness for the aged.

With the able assistance of Bif’s hilarious friend Jackie wonderfully played by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, Sandra soon takes up dancing and discovers an entirely different world made all the more charming by the blossoming courtship with Charlie as they wonder down Oxford Street to see the Christmas Lights.

Finding your Feet is a truly delightful British comedy set mainly in London and also in Rome, which adds to the glamour of the film, held together by superb performances by Imelda Staunton and Celia Imrie who play sisters rediscovering their sibling relationship after years of estrangement.

Highly recommended for audiences that enjoyed such films as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Tea with Mussolini and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Finding Your Feet proves that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself and discover romance again.

Finding your Feet gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is a charming British comedy with a sufficient dash of poignancy to satisfy the tastes of more mature audiences.

 

Origin of Several Species

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Director: J. A. Bayona

Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Rafe Spall, Jeff Goldblum, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Geraldine Chaplin, Ted Levine, BD Wong, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith

Spanish director J. A. Bayona brings an impressive sense of Gothic Horror to the sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World, in the his latest film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which is both riveting and tantalizingly watchable without reverting completely into blockbuster CGI overload. Although that said, the volcanic sequence on Isla Nuba off the coast of Costa Rica is brilliantly staged.

Familiar cast members return including Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dering who teams up with macho dinosaur wrangler Owen Grady wonderfully played by Chris Pratt whose phenomenal career path as rocketed since his casting as Peter Quill aka Star-Lord in Marvel’s The Guardians of the Galaxy.

Rafe Spall (Life of Pi) plays the villainous Eli Mills assistant to the immensely wealthy Benjamin Lockwood, played by James Cromwell (The Queen). Audiences should look out for a stand out performance by Isabella Sermon as Lockwood’s tenacious granddaughter Maisie who has to eventually contend with some monsters in her own childhood bedroom.

Watching over young Maisie is her guardian Iris played by the daughter of silent screen star Charlie Chaplin, Geraldine Chaplin (The Impossible, The Wolfman, The Age of Innocence) whom it is so refreshing to see on the big screen again.

As the dinosaurs of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are consequently rescued just as the volcano at Isla Nuba threatens to make these ancient creatures extinct, a new threat develops on the massive Lockwood country estate in Northern California whereby director J. A. Bayona skillfully uses all the traits of Gothic Horror to add a fascinating twist to a blockbuster sequel with enough suspense to keep audiences entertained while also emphasizing the perennial issue of endangered species, something which endangered wildlife are constantly at risk of becoming in the increasingly technological 21st century.

Audiences that enjoyed the 2015 Jurassic World, will undoubtedly love this authentic and imaginative sequel.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and recommended for audiences that harbour an abiding fascination for dinosaurs.

 

The Fourth Son of a Political Dynasty

Chappaquiddick

Director: John Curran

Cast: Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Olivia Thirlby, Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffagan, Taylor Nichols, Lexie Roth

Many films have been made about the Kennedys or those related to them, most recently being Pablo Larrain’s beautiful film Jackie featuring an Oscar worthy performance by Natalie Portman.

While The Painted Veil director John Curran’s film Chappaquiddick is no masterpiece and is quite slow moving, it nevertheless remains a fascinating account of one of the Kennedy’s lesser known political scandals.

This involved Senator Edward Kennedy, superbly played by Australian actor Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby), who was the fourth son of the Kennedy clan and the only surviving son after his three older brothers died successively.

Chappaquiddick takes place in Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1969, two days before American astronaut Neil Armstrong successfully landed on the moon. Edward Kennedy and his cousin Joseph Gargan played by The Hangover star Ed Helms host a small decadent party on Chappaquiddick an island off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Among the guests is Mary Jo Kepechne played by former House of Cards star Kate Mara who gets fatally entangled with Senator Edward Kennedy.

As the evening progresses Edward and Mary Jo go on a moonlight drive around the island but this romantic venture turns into tragedy when after becoming intoxicated Edward unknowingly drives the car off a low bridge and it plunges into a river and he escapes the accident unscathed, while poor Mary Jo gets trapped in the drowning automobile and dies. The worst part is that Edward Kennedy walked away from the scene of a fatal accident and then later tried to cover it up using his family’s considerable political influence.

Chappaquiddick deals with the aftermath of the tragic event and the engulfing political scandal it could have for the ambitious Senator Edward Kennedy who is desperate to follow in his two older brothers’ political careers with JFK becoming US president and Robert Kennedy becoming a US senator, both of whom got assassinated during the turbulent 1960’s.

What makes Chappaquiddick so fascinating is the way in which Edward Kennedy, with a cool emotional detachment and often seeking advice from his wheelchair bound father Joseph Kennedy, wonderfully played by veteran actor and Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska) whose only word of wisdom is alibi.

The patriarch of the powerful political dynasty which is the Kennedys, based at their family compound in Hyannis port, Massachusetts, is determined to protect the Kennedy legacy, despite numerous tragic events and subsequent scandals.

Chappaquiddick is a riveting historical drama about a political scandal which literally gets eclipsed by the men landing on the moon on the same weekend. As compared to Jackie, Chappaquiddick lacks grandiosity and elegance, but remains relevant as to how political scandals are essentially covered up and the flow of information is conspicuously controlled.

Recommended for viewers that enjoy American historical films, Chappaquiddick gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. My only criticism is that sections of the film could have been edited to avoid repetition and the script required insightful dialogue.

 

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