Archive for the ‘James Mangold’ Category

7000 Revolutions Per Minute

Ford v Ferrari

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts, Jack McMullen, Ray McKennon, Noah Lupe

Walk the Line and Logan director James Mangold expertly tackles the world of motor racing in the exhilarating and brilliantly filmed Ford v Ferrari starring Oscar winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) as Ken Miles and Oscar winner Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) as American car designer Carroll Shelby.

Shelby and Miles form a formidable bond as they become corporate pawns by Ford Motor Company based in Detroit, Michigan headed by Henry Ford II superbly played by Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) who aided by his ambitious marketing executive Lee Iacocca played by Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street) and VP Leo Beebe played by Josh Lucas is determined to build the fastest American racing car to beat Ferrari at the international grueling 24 hour race Le Mans, in France in 1966.

Ford v Ferrari establishes the corporate politics and the sheer desire to win before the historic race at Le Mans along with the growing friendship that Shelby and Miles cement over fast cars, adrenalin and the absolute need for speed much to the amusement of Shelby’s wife Mollie Miles played by Irish actress Caitriona Balfe (Now You See Me, Money Monster).

Balfe holds her own in a predominately male film about motor racing particularly highlighted in a superb scene when her character Mollie confronts her husband Ken about his racing ambitions while she is driving the family station wagon. More significantly is the poignant relationship Ken has with his young son Peter wonderfully played by Noah Lupe as they bond over the power of speed racing and the thrill of the racetrack.

Aided by a comprehensive script by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller, Ford v Ferrari is an insightful look at the 1960’s world of professional motor racing, the Adrenalin and the human cost incurred by the drivers as they battle to win and control the cars they are driving at vicious speeds in order to impress their corporate sponsors like Ford or Ferrari.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon’s intelligent on screen performances hold this two and a half hour Adrenalin fueled period film together about the historic events that led up to the Le Mans race in 1966.

Ford v Ferrari is a powerful film expertly directed and edited and is highly recommended viewing for those that love motor car racing. It’s a beautifully crafted film in a similar vein to Ron Howard’s 2013 film Rush starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl.

Ford v Ferrari gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is worth seeing not only for the superb acting but also for the unbelievable racing supplemented by the handsome production design. Highly recommended viewing but not suitable for young children.

The Great Western Claw Slinger

Logan

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elizabeth Rodriguez

Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) has become synonymous with the role of the mutant Wolverine since Bryan Singer’s first film The X Men back in 2000. Now seventeen years later, Jackman reprises his role in director James Mangold’s cleverly titled Logan a sort of follow up to The Wolverine back in 2013.

The year is 2029 and there appears to be an absence of mutants on Earth, an arid planet ravaged by decades of global warming. Mangold who directed the tense Western 3:10 to Yuma seamlessly blends frontier mythology into Logan right from the beginning as audiences first see Logan aka The Wolverine in El Paso, Texas as a washed up middle aged Uber limo driver, all hairy and hard to like.

Logan is taking care of a frail and delusional yet still powerful Charles Xavier, a brilliant performance by Patrick Stewart, who has reprised his role in most of the X-Men movies.

Xavier keeps telling Logan that there is still one more powerful mutant out there. In a desperate call for help, Logan gets called to the shady motel room of Mexican immigrant Gabriela played by Orange is the New Black star Elizabeth Rodriguez who pleads with him to take the mysterious young girl Laura wonderfully played with an immense screen intensity by newcomer Dafne Keen to Canada for safety.

Soon X-Men adversary Donald Pierce and his band of nefarious gang members appear intent on hunting and killing Laura. Pierce, played by Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl, The Skeleton Twins) is actually the henchman of mastermind Dr Rice wonderfully played by Richard E. Grant (Jackie, The Iron Lady) who unbeknownst to anyone has been harvesting mutant children in a dodgy clinic in Mexico City.

As Logan, Laura and Xavier head off across country from El Paso through to Oklahoma City, screenwriters Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green turn Logan into a Neo-Western road film, a more gritty adventure even referencing some classic Western films like director George Stevens 1953 film Shane and unlike the more CGI orientated X-Men films, Logan is more violent, nostalgic and resonates with a more mature audience. That predominately male audience is presumably the same viewers that started following The X-Men films back in 2000.

Jackman is suitably tough, menacing and conflicted as Logan and Dafne Keen who swops between Spanish and English is wonderful as the bratty teenage mutant, but what really gives Logan that gravitas is Patrick Stewart’s superbly dry performance as Xavier, once head of the school for mutants, but now a bitter and twisted old man being hunted by some evil cloners.

Logan is highly enjoyable and delivers on the action front with some stunning and violent action sequences especially in the first half of the film. However, the last quarter of the film could have been edited for dramatic effect despite the surprisingly poignant ending.

Walk the Line director James Mangold’s Logan gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10. Ultimately, the return of the hairy man aka The Wolverine has past his macho prime, yet his ferocious decline is highly entertaining viewing.

 

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