Archive for the ‘Will Gluck’ Category

It’s a Hard Knock Life!

Annie

annie_ver3

Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, David Zayer, Cameron Diaz, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

The 21st century film version of the hit Broadway musical Annie is no match for the 1982 cinematic treatment of the musical by director John Huston. In the 2014 version, director Will Gluck has chosen to rather focus too much on making it a contemporary New York tale and less of a classy musical.

Although that does not distract from the onscreen sparkle of the lead actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who embraces the role and become famous for being one of the youngest performers to ever be nominated for an Oscar for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The updated version of Daddy Warbucks, is a cellphone billionaire Will Stacks, wonderfully and almost gleefully played by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx who embellishes the role with humour and charisma.

The supporting cast is equally good including the rising actor Bobby Cannavale as Stack’s scheming publicity driven press officer Guy and his real life wife Rose Byrne who is brilliant as Grace. The casting of the film was diverse and brilliantly done with the exception of Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan, whose performance was jarring and questionably overplayed.

Audiences should expect all the wonderful songs of the Broadway musical with a more edgy tunes thrown in along with every available social media innovation that has beset American urban life in the last ten years including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram woven into an increasingly frenetic social narrative.

annie

This Annie is no down and out orphan in Depression era America, but a rising vivacious star in a 21st century post-recession America, emphasizing that the gap between the rich and the poor has widened considerably in the last eighty years.

Excluding any social commentary, the 2014 Annie is a great feel good film and director Gluck makes fill use of the Big Apple as his primary location especially the spectacular scenes at the Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Bridge and stunning aerial shots of the New York skyline.

If audiences are expecting a polished and flawless musical such as Into The Woods, then Annie is not for them. Will Gluck’s Annie is a much thinner, at times disjointed  and very light hearted version which comes off slightly messier as the rags to riches storyline gets updated from its original 1930’s period setting to appeal to a the millennial generation.

Whilst the effort can be applauded and the production design including Stacks’s smart internet connected New York penthouse is a must-see, this Annie remains a tamer version of the 1982 classic film. Definitely suitable for children and those that want to avoid a hard knock life!

 

 

 

Terrific on Screen Chemistry

Friends with Benefits

 

A complicated relationship

From LA to the Big Apple, Friends with Benefits is a quirky 21st century comedy which pokes fun at romantic comedies but ultimately succumbs to the formula which has made this genre so popular. Mila Kunis from Black Swan is utterly delightful as the street savvy New York head hunter for the Olive Branch Recruitment agency who organizes a job for Dylan Harper played with his usual boyish charm by Justin Timberlake seen in The Social Network, arriving fresh off the plane from LA as art director for GQ. While Timberlake is coming into his own as an actor and is appearing in many more films, it is certainly Kunis who steals the show in this 21st century digitized urban jungle of the New York magazine industry. The on screen chemistry is brilliant between Kunis and Timberlake helped by a witty, sometimes rude but very direct script.

As Timberlake and Kunis become good friends in NYC, they decide to play tennis in other words have sex, hence the friendship with a nudge and wink on the side. Friends with Benefits mid way through the film was giving the impression that it was just about its two leading stars, then the scriptwriters bring in Kunis’s dilly mother played by A-class character actress Patricia Clarkson and Timberlake’s father, played by the equally talented Richard Jenkins from Eat, Pray, Love and The Visitor.

New York and LA feature as cities with their own distinct character, with New York outshining in terms of the most attractive destination. Friends with Benefits features some wonderful scenes including a flash mob dance sequence in Times Square, a great cameo by Woody Harrelson as the gay sports editor for GQ and gorgeous shots of the Big Apple’s skyline and a wonderfully comic scene at the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. Besides the friendship, this is sex in both cities with Timberlake and Kunis doing a fine job at turning the romantic comedy drama literally upside down, with loads of filmic and digital references for the internet generation. Worth watching!

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