Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Seyfried’

Bella Donna

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Director: Ol Parker

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, Cher, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Jessica Keenan Wynn

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel screenwriter Ol Parker does behind the camera as director for the much anticipated sequel / prequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again featuring the original cast from Mamma Mia! (2008) including some fabulous additions such as pop diva Cher and Cinderella’s Lily James as the young Donna.

Shot mostly on location in Croatia, doubling for the Greek Isles, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is strictly for ABBA fans and those who loved the original 2008 film.

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again whose highlights included Cher’s superb rendition of the song Fernando sung to her long lost love and some crisply orchestrated numbers featuring Lily James and a plethora of gorgeous young men played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively, who all represent the younger versions of Sophie’s three Dads played in the original film by Pierce Brosnan, Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Stellan Skarsgard.

While the storyline is as haphazard as a lost yacht in the Mediterranean, the singing and the music for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is what audiences should come and see this musical comedy for.

With a bigger cast and some daring lines uttered by the wine swigging Tanya played by Christine Baranski (The Bird Cage) including “Be Still my Beating Vagina”, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a sparkling musical comedy with the pure aim of reviving all those toe-tapping ABBA songs.

There is sufficient Man Candy both young and old to satisfy a diverse range of female audiences and in the immortal words of BBC Talk Show Host Graham Norton on interviewing pop diva Cher – “This is one of the gayest films being released in 2018!”

Leave your worries at the door and enjoy Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again which gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10, held together by two sensational performances by Lily James and Cher.

A Nigerian in Mexico

Gringo

Director: Nash Edgerton

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo, Thandie Newton, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, Sharlto Copley, Alan Ruck

Joel Edgerton’s brother Nash Edgerton directs this colourful and crazy action comedy Gringo about drug running, kidnapping and evil American corporates. Set in Chicago and Mexico, Gringo plays on all the usual preconceptions about America versus Mexico.

Edgerton plays the obnoxious and self-obsessed American boss Richard Rusk who along with the fiesty blonde man eater Elaine Markinson played by South African Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster) who together with fellow employee and fall guy Harold Soyinka, an American Nigerian wonderfully played by David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, The Paperboy) travel to Mexico to conclude a rather shady drug deal only for Soyinka to be left across the border.

Harold Soyinka ingenuously fakes his own kidnapping only to be really kidnapped not once but twice by a nefarious Mexican drug cartel and Rusk’s brother Mitch, a gung ho mercenary played by another South African star Sharlto Copley (Maleficent, District Nine).

What follows is a dangerous action adventure with enough plot twists to entertain audiences punctuated by some truly witty dialogue, all held together by an hilarious performance by David Oyelowo.

His character Harold Soyinka also crosses paths with a naïve Californian couple Miles and Sunny played by Harry Treadaway and Amanda Seyfried. The best scenes in Gringo are between Seyfried and Oyelowo as they both try and figure out what mess they have got themselves into.

Westworld star Thandie Newton (Jefferson in Paris) has a brief part as Bonnie Soyinka who is not only cheating on her husband but ruining him financially.

Gringo is by no means an excellent film but if audiences don’t take the story too seriously then they should enjoy it. Director Nash Edgerton blends equal part action with comedy creating a serious crime caper with a unique twist. Although he doesn’t necessarily paint Mexico in a flattering light. Think kidnapping, tequila and drug running.

For all its faults, Gringo is a fun film to watch and gets a rating of 7 out 10. The plot is convoluted and at times confusing but the action is sudden and unexpected.

 

 

 

Sumptuous Misery

Les Miserables

 les_miserables_ver3

Watching Tom Hooper’s sumptuous film version of Les Miserables, I felt like I was back in a Theatre in London’s West End witnessing the spectacular musical which has been a hit in both the West End and Broadway for decades. Director Hooper’s insistence that all the actors sing every song and not do any lip-syncing pays off making Les Miserables a magnificent emotionally charged film never straying far from the theatrical version. See Les Miserables on the biggest cinema screen available and with all the brilliant Dolby surround sound and viewers will experience the true beauty of such  ambitious musical theatricality.

From the Oscar-winning director of the King’s Speech, this film version of Les Miserables was in brilliant hands and he has chosen a superb cast to star in the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s early 19th century novel about the perils and poverty brought on in France as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.  Not since Rob Marshall’s stunning cinematic version of Chicago, have I enjoyed a film version of a West End musical so much.

Valjean

Valjean

Hugh Jackman who is no stranger to Broadway is perfectly cast as the embittered reformed thief Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway is superb as the tragic Fantine, a seamstress who turns to prostitution to survive and protect her daughter Cosette from impoverishment. Both Hathaway and  Jackman have deservedly won 2013 Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Actor in a musical or comedy. Hooper shoots all the great songs of Les Miserables close up capturing the raw emotion of the actors turned singers as they perform I Dreamed a Dream, Master of the House and Suddenly.

Fantine

Fantine

Les Miserables is big on emotion, epic in scale especially the production design and the faithful early 19th century costumes and director Hooper has skilfully managed to create the perfect blend of romance, sorrow, heroism and injustice, painting a distinctly French cinematic canvas enough to make Victor Hugo proud. Rising British star Eddie Redmayne last seen opposite Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn and Amanda Seyfried are gorgeous as the young lovers:  the revolutionary Marius and the demure yet mature Cosette.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen provide some comic relief amidst all this sumptuous misery as the scheming tavern owners out to deceive Valjean. Oscar Winner Russell Crowe plays Javert the treacherous constable out to finally catch up with the ever illusive Valjean.

Javert

Javert

With a brilliant score by Claude-Michel Schonberg and expert direction by Tom Hooper, Les Miserables is a must see for any musical lover and is breathtaking in its scope, brutality and visual imagery especially the rousing depiction of the 1832 Paris uprisings. All the cast are perfect and it’s no wonder that the film has received such critical acclaim so far.

For those that are unsure of seeing a two and a half hour film of Les Miserables, I never looked at my watch once, being completely enthralled in this gorgeous, emotional and spectacular cinematic masterpiece, successfully bringing the theatricality of a West End musical to the Big Screen. Highly Recommended!

Darwinian Capitalism Out of Time

IN TIME

Amanda Seyfreid and Justin Timberlake star in the futuristic thriller In Time, written and directed by Andrew Niccol. While the concept is fresh and the look is retro-futurism, In Time does not fully develop into maturity and that is not just because all the characters most of whom are beautiful are not older then 25 years. It is set in mythical Los Angeles which is transformed into the opposing worlds of the downtrodden industrial Dayton and the chic and affluent New Greenwich whereby no one ages older than 25 years.

The Future is on your Hands


After the characters reach 25 years they live on time credit and everything is paid for in time, not money. While the story is largely allegorical about how the present generation is struggling to survive in a global culture of Darwinian Capitalism, whereby it surely is the survival of the fittest or in this case the richest, Timberlake and Seyfreid play Will Salas and Sylvia Weiss a Bonnie and Clyde duo who go about robbing time banks and redistributing centuries back to the poorer classes. In Time is a unique, yet under explored concept lacking depth but making up in style. As sci-fi films go In Time is no match for any of the retro-futuristic classics like Minority Report or Blade Runner or even The Adjustment Bureau, but still fun to watch.

The best part of the film besides the suave looking cast is the film noir feel of the movie, with Nichols creating a retro yet stylish futuristic world with cool cars, stylish wardrobe and a storyline which resembles more a Raymond Chandler novel than a 21st century sci-fi thriller. Seyfried and Timberlake make a fine couple, although their on screen chemistry wanes towards the climax of the narrative. Watch out for a balanced performance by Cilllian Murphy playing the timekeeper trying to maintain the system and Alex Pettyfer as the local gangster Fortis.

In Time ‘s best line which rings true as we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century – “Its about Darwinian Capitalism”. See the thriller and make sure you not with anyone over 45, they will feel ancient!

 

What Big Eyes You Have…

red_riding_hood_ver2

Catherine Hardwicke’s film version of Red Riding Hood remains firmly in the realm of fantasy. With soft focus cinematography, clever use of primary colours, lush woods, breathtaking landscapes and a pale Valerie, donning her red hood, the teenage marketed fantasy tale is as entertaining as it is enduring.

The ever alluring Amanda Seyfried reprises a similar role to that in Diablo Cody’s film Jennifer’s Body as an innocent girl caught up in a community governed by terror. In Red Riding Hood, the village is terrorized by a werewolf whose first victim is Valerie’s sister.

Werewolf hunter Solomon and self proclaimed protector, played with relish by Gary Oldman arrives in the village to hunt the werewolf following the initial attack. Valerie known as Red Riding Hood played by Seyfred is torn between the Woodcutters son Peter played by Shiloh Fernandez and Henry, a nobleman son’s played by Max Irons, son of actor Jeremy Irons. This love triangle so similar to Hardwicke’s previous film Twilight is further complicated by the revelation that the werewolf in its human form is one of the villagers, and more closely hinted that that person comes from Valerie’s lineage. Virginia Madsen plays Valerie’s mother and Twilight saga star Billy Burke reprises a similar role to Bella’s father in the Twilight series and is given much more character development as an actor as Valerie’s uncontrollable father, Cesaire.

Suspicion is cast upon the reclusive Grandmother to Valerie, a wonderful cameo by veteran actress Julie Christie. Solomon uses Valerie who can communicate with the werewolf as bate in a wonderful midnight fire-ringed offering, red cape and all.

All folklore aside, the sacrificial offering of a Virgin to qualm the evil powers that threaten a community’s livelihood is found in many ethnographic communities mythology and in the case of Red Riding Hood, the origins of this Fairytale are grounded in the hapless virgin being ravaged by the brutal force of nature, symbolic in the werewolf or its human male form, with the spilling of first blood thematically tied up with the red cloak of Valerie as a dazzling signifier.

In Red Riding Hood, Hardwicke’s emphasis is firmly placed on the symbolism of the Red hood, looking ever more dazzling against the translucent face of Valerie especially in the scenes shot against the white snow covered slopes and helped by Seyfried’s superb eye popping performance as the only maiden able to lure the werewolf to reveal its human identity.

Hardwicke keeps the action fast paced and there is an economy of dialogue, characterization and setting, which makes Red Riding Hood an entertaining tale all packed into a 90 minute of film.

Fans of Twilight will no doubt love Red Riding Hood, but most notably the tale is brought vividly to the screen by a director who understands the complexities of the teenage film audience, an age group so brilliantly tackled and explored in Catherine Hardwicke’s previous films Lords of Dogtown and the Oscar nominated Thirteen.


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