Archive for the ‘Denis Villeneuve’ Category

Replicants Rising

Blade Runner 2049

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, David Dastmalchian, Edward James Olmos, Barkhad Abdi, Sylvia Hoeks, Tomas Lemarquis, Mackenzie Davis, Sean Young

When Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner appeared on cinema screens in 1982 it was hailed as a visionary science fiction film about replicants in Los Angeles in 2019.

The film developed an instant cult following and become a prime example of Post Modern Film Noir, with its blend of 1940’s costumes coupled with a dystopian future of a vast city laid bare by global warming and sinister corporations filled with surreal images of a multi-national world overtaken by replicant animals and a rapidly depleting human population most of whom had gone off world to the colonies in outer space.

Thirty five years later, there is finally a sequel, the highly anticipated Blade Runner 2049 featuring Ryan Gosling as K and veteran actor Harrison Ford reprising his role as Deckard.

Directed by French Canadian Denis Villeneuve, who brought cinema lovers his excellent impressionistic films Arrival and Sicario, this is by far his best and most ambitious film yet.

With Blade Runner 2049 he had a lot of visionary expectations to live up to and with the able assistance of Oscar nominee cinematographer Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049 is a visual feast, a mind blowing and sophisticated contemplation on the nature of what humanity is, of what fabricated genealogy is and more significantly where our species are heading in a future increasingly popularized with invasive technology. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented operating systems to name a few.

If contemporary audiences are expecting a straight forward sci-fi sequel then don’t watch Blade Runner 2049. It’s advisable to watch the first film so that you as a viewer can understand all the cinematic references to the original that Villeneuve densely packs into this version along with some stand out performances particularly by Harrison Ford as the older Deckard as he appears exiled in an abandoned casino in a vacated Las Vegas to Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks as the uber-cool yet vicious replicant Luv along with Robin Wright as K’s LAPD hard-drinking superior Lieutenant Joshi. Cuban actress Ana de Armas (War Dogs) also stars as a virtual projection of K’s love interest Joi to compensate for his increasing alienation in this post-apocalyptic landscape.

What is most captivating about Blade Runner 2049 is the subliminal images and the dexterous use of colour filters particularly in the chic scenes with new arch villain Niander Wallace played with a psychopathic God complex by Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club).

The ratcheting up of the pace in Blade Runner 2049 is remarkable especially in the film’s second half elegantly assisted by a phenomenal original score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.

To tell audiences anything else about Blade Runner 2049, would be to reveal vital spoiler alerts and sinister plot twists.

Blade Runner 2049 is fantastic cinema on an epic, visionary scale and its magnitude would be lost if viewers saw the film on anything smaller than a massive screen complete with surround sound.

Blade Runner 2049 is superb viewing and gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

A ravishing tour-de-force in post-modern semiotic brilliance, this film is not to be missed by those that loved the original Blade Runner.

The Universal Language

Arrival

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Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stulbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma

With a screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on the story “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang, French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s latest film Arrival gives Oscar nominee Amy Adams (American Hustle, The Master, Doubt) full scope to flex her truly extraordinary acting abilities.

Adams plays a Linguistics expert Dr. Louise Banks who is enlisted by the US army, when an alien space craft lands in Montana. However as Arrival gains momentum, it appears that there are 11 other similar alien space crafts that have landed unexpectedly in places throughout the world from The Sudan to Venezuela.

Banks is joined by Ian Donnelly played by Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town) as they become the proverbial couple who must make first contact with the aliens and decipher their complicated circular means of communication and ultimately discover what their true purpose is on earth? Are they friendly aliens or have they come to annihilate earth?

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As other nations around the world become increasingly hostile to the foreign ships in their territories, mainly China and the American military is becoming more trigger happy that the aliens which take the form of giant squid have malignant intentions, Banks and Donnelly must race against time to establish a pattern of communication to discover their real intention.

Skilfully shot and mostly done in a murky light, cinematographer Bradford Young photographs Arrival very dimly at first but soon as the narrative progresses, the film becomes brighter and more explanatory.

What really makes Arrival so distinctive a film, especially about the possibility of contact with alien life forms is the skillful direction of Villeneuve who portrays the contacts between Banks and the aliens in a non-linear form.

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Secondly, it is Amy Adams superb performance as Dr Louise Banks who is desperate to not only save humanity but forge a future for herself beyond this supernatural event. Adams is brilliant in this role and most of the screen time is taken up with her contradicted thoughts and emotional turmoil as the mental toll of what she is trying to achieve is distinguishable in every frame.

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Whilst the rest of the cast including Renner and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) playing Colonel Weber along with character actor Michael Stulbarg as Agent Halpern all inhabit peripheral roles, it is Amy Adams’s performance which makes Arrival so absorbing to watch.

Visually the film is dark and almost perplexing but director Villeneuve handles the subject matter of first contact so elegantly that for moments, audiences will forget they are watching a sci-fi film.

Arrival is an extraordinary film with many intuitive moments much like the Universal Language that Dr Louise Banks discovers and ultimately ends on a poignant note, without resorting to corny or special effects laden farce. Arrival is a cinematic treat exploring how we as human beings assimilate language, despite there being so many different variations. Highly recommend viewing.

 

 

 

Trapped in Suburbia

Prisoners

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French Canadian director of Foreign language film nominee Incendies Denis Villeneuve weaves a web of intrigue in the deeply disturbing suburban thriller Prisoners extracting a brilliant performance by his two central male leads, Oscar Nominees Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) set in a wintry landscape of Pennsylvania.

Prisoners bleak story revolves around two average American families (the Dovers and the Birches) whose daughters are best friends and after a relaxing Thanksgiving lunch, the girls are playing in the street where they are snatched in mysterious circumstances. The parents of the missing girls Keller Dover and his wife Grace played by Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello and the Birches played by Terrence Howard (Dead Man Down) and Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help) are naturally beside themselves with grief and worry.

In steps the local police Detective Loki, a superb performance by Jake Gyllenhaal who goes on a desperate mission to unravel the mystery of these vanished children, uncovering a whole web of secrets in the closely knitted Pennsylvanian community. The first suspect is the shy Alex Jones, wonderfully played by Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks, There will be Blood) who was parked in a RV that the abducted girls were playing on moments before they went missing, but upon questioning turns out to have a seemingly limited intelligence, covering up an even darker secret.

To complicate the investigation even further the fathers of the missing girls Keller Dover and Franklin Birch capture the scared Alex Jones soon after he is released from police custody and then start torturing him as a prisoner in an abandoned apartment convinced that he knows what happened to the little girls. Detective Loki is meanwhile hot on the trial of another suspect Bob Taylor played by David Dastmalchian, who has a penchant for buying children’s clothes at the local Valuemart.

Prisoners is a disturbing tale of how far a father will go to find his lost daughter and the also the ramifications that an abduction can have on a small town community. This is a disturbing film, slightly depressing as most of it is shot against a slate grey sky of an approaching Pennsylvania winter, but fortunately director Villeneuve has assembled a top notch cast including Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) as Alex Jones’s mysterious aunt Holly Jones.

Viewers have to concentrate in this film as the narrative drops clues all the time about who the real culprit is and as the tension mounts a disturbing twist is revealed whereby the hunter becomes the prey, an analogy first introduced in the opening shot when the ultra prepared and slightly neurotic Keller Dover, a wonderfully different performance by Hugh Jackman is teaching his teenage son Ralph how to hunt deer.

Prisoners only crime is that the riveting, yet gap filled narrative could have been more tightly written by screenwriter and certain scenes definitely required some crisp editing  to make the emotional resonance of the film more astounding.

Prisoners runs for 153 minutes which is fairly long for a suspense drama about child abduction in a murky and seemingly soulless American suburbia. If film goers enjoyed the Oscar winning Mystic River then Prisoners is that type of film although not as good. Disturbing, compelling and scary, Prisoners will take viewers into a maze of intrigue…

2010 Toronto Film Festival

2010 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

TIFF 2010

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

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Opening Night Film: Score, A Hockey Musical directed by Michael McGowan starring Nelly Furtado, Olivia Newton-John, Stephen McHattie & Noah Reid

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People Choice Award: The King’s Speech directed by Tom Hooper starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pierce, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle

Incendies

Best Canadian Feature Film: Incendies directed by Denis Villeneuve starring , &

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

 

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