Archive for February, 2019

91st Oscar Awards

The 91st Academy Awards took place on Sunday 24th February 2019 at the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Best Picture: Green Book

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron – Roma

Best Actor: Rami MalekBohemian Rhapsody

Best Actress: Olivia ColmanThe Favourite

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali – Green Book

Best Supporting Actress: Regina KingIf Beale Street Could Talk

Best Original Screenplay: Green Book

Best Adapted Screenplay: Spike Lee – BlackkKlansman

Best Cinematography: Roma

Best Costume Design: Black Panther

Best Make up & Hairstyling: Vice

Best Visual Effects: First Man

Best Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Sound Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Production Design: Black Panther

Best Documentary Feature:  Free Solo

Best Original Score: Ludwig GoranssonBlack Panther

Best Original Song: Shallow from A Star is Born

Best Animated Feature Film: Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

Best Foreign Language Film: Romadirected by Alfonso Cuaron


When Dignity Prevails

Green Book

Director: Peter Farrelly

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, P. J. Byrne, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov, Paul Sloan, Anthony Mangano

Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic, Eastern Promises) and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) give top notch performances as Tony “The Lip” a working class Italian American bouncer from the Bronx and a classical music pianist, the erudite Dr Don Shirley in the superb road film Green Book directed by Peter Farrelly.

When Tony the Lip, a loud mouth, aggressive and compulsive eater bouncer finds himself out of work at a New York nightclub he takes the job as a hired driver for the sophisticated and refined Dr Don Shirley who has an itinerary of classical concerts to perform in the deep South from Raleigh in North Carolina to Birmingham in Alabama in 1962 at the height of racial segregation and tensions in the American Southern States.

Mortensen gives one of his best on screen performances in a reversal of the classic Bruce Beresford film Driving Miss Daisy, as the crass chauffeur for the cool and occasionally collected Dr Shirley beautifully played by Mahershala Ali who expertly masks deeper resentments at having to play for these wealthy white audiences in Country Clubs in the deep South yet knowing that he will not be treated as an equal.

Often the managers offer him separate amenities such as change rooms or even a linen closet to utilize highlighting the hideous social repercussions of racial segregation not to mention the obvious hypocrisies inherently contained in such an absurd policy. While Tony is quick to protest this treatment, Dr Don Shirley insists that dignity must prevail and they must not lose their cool.

The title of the film, Green Book refers to an American road user’s guide for Negroes as they travel through the Deep South even offering alternative places of accommodations and what rules to comply with.

Director Peter Farrelly never overemphasizes the theme of racial segregation but rather subtly hints at it through many humorous scenes as the two men from vastly different backgrounds form an unlikely bond especially when Tony has to somehow curb Dr Shirley self-destructive streak and pluck him from some rather awkward situations.

The onscreen chemistry between Mortensen and Ali is beautiful and makes Green Book shine as a fascinating portrait of male friendship struck up through a thoroughly historical and unusual set of social circumstances in 1962.

Green Book has fantastic music, a wonderful supporting cast including a lovely performance by Linda Cardellini as Tony’s patient wife Dolores who Dr Shirley assists Tony in writing beautiful love letters to while the duo are on the road in hostile territories.

Green Book is highly recommended viewing and both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deserve Oscars for their brilliant performances.

Green Book gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is all the more relevant since it is based on a true story.

72nd BAFTA Awards

THE  72nd BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 10th February 2019 in London

at the Royal Albert Hall

BAFTA Winners in the Film Category:

Best Film: Roma

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Best Actor: Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Actress: Olivia Colman – The Favourite

Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz – The Favourite

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali – Green Book

Best Original Screen Play: Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara – The Favourite

Best Adapted Screenplay: BlackkKlansman

British Rising Star Award: Letitia Wright

Best British Film: The Favourite

Best Cinematography: Roma

Outstanding Debut Film: Beast

Best Foreign Language Film: Roma

Best Costume Design: Sandy Powell – The Favourite

Best Visual Effects: Black Panther

American Take on a French Tale

The Upside

Director: Neil Burger

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Kevin Hart, Tate Donovan, Julianna Margulies, Golshifteh Farahani, Aja Naomi King

Limitless director Neil Burger gives an American spin on the remake of the superb 2011 French film The Intouchables starring Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet about a billionaire quadriplegic striking up an unlikely bond and friendship with his down and out carer.

This time the parts are played by Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) and comedic actor Kevin Hart as Dell Scott the paroled carer who gets the unlikely position of becoming a full time male nurse to art collector and writer Philip Lacasse wonderfully played by Cranston in The Upside.

The Upside aims to make audiences feel all warm and fuzzy, about the underlying compassion which should be instinctive in human nature. In this respect, The Upside is a perfectly well-directed American Take on a French Tale.

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) plays the Harvard educated Yvonne who is Lacasse’s personal sectary who is initially aghast at her employer’s decision to hire the rough around the edges Dell Scott who is desperate to earn some cash to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-wife Latrice played by Aja Naomi King.

While The Upside doesn’t quite capture the quirky relationship between Billionaire and poverty stricken carer as it did in the original French film The Intouchables, there are some funny moments particularly played by Kevin Hart who does not usually play serious roles.

The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies (Snakes on a Plane) makes a cinematic appearance as Lily an epistolary flame that Philip has been dutifully corresponding with.

Tate Donovan appears as the snobbish Manhattan neighbour Carter and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani plays the practical physiotherapist Maggie who expertly advises Dell on how to insert a catheter and generally care for the wheelchair bound angst ridden Lacasse.

Cranston holds the film together, acting mostly with his expressive eyes.

Viewers that have not seen the original French film will enjoy this light hearted comedic drama, but those that saw The Intouchables will feel that The Upside doesn’t possess that emotional gravitas which was central to the French version. In any events, The Upside is a light hearted look at the complexity of unique human relationships and will be sure to find a suitable audience.

Recommended viewing, The Upside gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On The Basis of Sex

Director: Mimi Leder

Cast: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Chris Mulkey

Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) takes on the role of gender activist lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg in director Mimi Leder’s informative if slightly over talkative legal biography On The Basis of Sex.

Armie Hammer (The Social Network, Call Me By Your Name) stars as her supportive lawyer husband Martin Ginsburg.

Also in the cast are Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train) as Mel Wulf a fellow human rights lawyer and Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery) as Dorothy Kenyon a lawyer that unsuccessfully tried to challenge the state and federal laws which discriminate against people on the basis of their gender.

Pay it Forward and Deep Impact director Mimi Leder does a reasonably good job of handling the legal subject matter although the material does not dazzle onscreen and this film will really only appeal to those interested in the legal precedent that Ruth Bader Ginsburg won and how she successfully reversed gender discrimination.

Felicity Jones does a brilliant job of portraying Ruth Bader Ginsburg, yet unfortunately On The Basis of Sex which was released amidst all the Oscar nominated films for 2019 does not shine as a particularly memorable film. On the Basis of Sex is a fascinating if slightly too talkative portrayal of a female lawyer who challenged the American legal established and reversed most federal and state laws which were based on pure gender discrimination, unfairly favouring men over women.

Jack Reynor (Detroit, A Royal Night Out, Macbeth) and Sam Waterston (Miss Sloane, The Killing Fields) play chauvinist lawyers Jim Bozarth and Erwin Griswold who are attempting to rebuke Ginsburg legal argument.

On The Basis of Sex gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and given the acting talent in this film, this legal biographical drama could have been brilliant but falls short of the mark.

Yet, the film remains a fascinating portrait of a female lawyer who fought the establishment in the early 1970’s and irrevocably altered the legal precedent in America just as the climate of social change was sweeping through this influential democratic country.

Regal Revenge

The Favourite

 

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Joe Alwyn, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss, James Melville, Timothy Innes, Basil Eidenbenz

When Queen Mary II died in 1694 and her husband King William III died in 1702, the British throne passed to Mary’s sister Queen Anne in 1702 who bore 17 children through her marriage to Prince George of Denmark all of whom died in childbirth. The reign of Queen Anne was short lived, having only occupied the throne for 12 years.

Greek art house director Yorgos Lanthimos provides a bizarre parody of royal favouritism, jealousy and court rivalry in his lavish critically acclaimed period film The Favourite set during Queen Anne’s reign at the beginning of the 18th century. Audiences should note that this is not an accurate historical drama in the vein of director Shekhar Kapur’s epic films Elizabeth and Elizabeth, The Golden Age in which Cate Blanchett played the Virgin Queen. The Favourite is meant to be viewed as a parody.

The Favourite is a spiteful royal romp which has three deliciously brilliant portrayals of different women at its core.

Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardner) is absolutely superb as the manipulative and influential Lady Sarah who is usurped in her position at the court by her young cousin a feisty Abigail wonderfully portrayed by Oscar winner Emma Stone (La La Land).

Both women are trying to gain favour with the sickly and constantly bored Queen Anne beautifully played by British actress Olivia Colman who gives a career best performance as a Queen who is both commanding and fickle, a female regent constantly plagued by the death of all her children and her inability to produce a viable heir.

With gorgeous costumes by Sandy Powell and a brittle inventive script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, Yorgos Lanthimos’s inventive portrayal of British Royalty is both cheeky, outrageous and utterly thought-provoking, a vicious parody of those who hold power and the others who circle precariously around the centre of that regal orbit.

Beautifully constructed and wonderfully filmed, The Favourite is not going to be everyone’s cup of perfectly brewed tea but it will certainly challenge viewers’ perception of the pedestal that royalty places itself on.

Love it or hate it, The Favourite is a challenging and lavish film about vile characters, utter debauchery and a satirical look at how powerful women can outwit each other, while the vain and ineffectual men particularly Harley played by Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Masham played by Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) are mere pawns in this whimsical game of deception and influence over a powerful Queen that was equally swayed by her closest companions.

The Favourite gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is utterly bizarre, a ravishing parody of royalty which will leave an inedible impression on the viewer.

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