Posts Tagged ‘Anna Kendrick’

What’s Up Bitches!

Pitch Perfect 3

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Ruby Rose, Guy Burnet, Esther Dean, Hana Mae Lee

The Barden Bella’s are back for a third instalment of the hugely popular Pitch Perfect franchise which sees the all-female a cappella singing group suffering from a mild quarter life crisis as the gang of struggling young girls all battle to hold down jobs, their fluctuating self-esteem and their friendships which were so tightly wound in Pitch Perfect 2.

While actress Elizabeth Banks directed and starred in Pitch Perfect 2 and that sequel proved to be absolutely hilarious, this third instalment doesn’t quite reach the same levels of hysteria or conformity. Most of the jokes are provided by the ever adventurous fat Amy wonderfully played by Rebel Wilson as her and the rest of the group travel to Southern Europe to help boost American troop morale at the various army bases in Spain and France, which is especially pertinent in a Trump era presidency.

Fat Army also has to content with her slimy Australian father Fergus, played with a dodgy accent by acclaimed American character actor John Lithgow who was so brilliant as Winston Churchill in the stunning Netflix series The Crown. What was he thinking appearing in Pitch Perfect 3?

Fergus, keen to get his hands on Amy’s stashed millions in the Cayman Islands, kidnaps the group of girls  and imprisons them on a luxury yacht aptly named Fat Dingo Bitch in the Mediterranean which Amy and the ever optimistic Bela played by Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) plan on rescuing the group from Amy’s evil father.

Admittedly, Pitch Perfect 3 is not as funny as the first two films but enjoyable enough and is recommended for audiences that loved the previous films.

Audiences should watch out for a cameo by Ruby Rose as the lead singer of a rival group. Unfortunately, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) does not have enough screen time in Pitch Perfect 3 to showcase her true talents, but makes the most of her fun-filled role as Emily.

The man candy is supplied by Matt Lanter as Lieutenant Chicago, a dashing army liaison officer and British actor Guy Burnet (Mortdecai) as music producer Theo who falls for Beca.

Pitch Perfect 3 is fun-filled and an ideal holiday movie especially the closing number a vibrant cover of singer George Michael’s hit song Freedom performed with exuberance by the Barden Bella’s.

Pitch Perfect 3 gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is the perfect film for taking a bunch of bored teenage girls to watch who will no doubt enjoy its delightfully comic moments.

Solving the Jigsaw Puzzle

The Accountant

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Director: Gavin O’Connor

Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jean Smart, Alex Collins

American director Gavin O’Connor likes to show the sources of fraternal fiction in his films. His most notable film Warrior was about two estranged brothers who reconnect over their hapless and heavy drinking father, in an Oscar nominated performance by Nick Nolte, who trains both his sons in a mixed martial arts tournament in New Jersey.

Now with a bigger budget and sleek production design, O’Connor teams up with A-List star Ben Affleck in the tense action thriller The Accountant set in Chicago enhanced by crisp cinematography by Seamus McGarvey.

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Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo, Good Will Hunting) plays the autistic and highly efficient Christian Wolfe, a maths savant who is hired by a shady Robotics company to do their books. While accounting does not sound sexy, The Accountant makes spreadsheets lethal and thrilling as he soon uncovers massive discrepancies in the company’s financials with the assistance of Dana Cummings played by Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air).

Meanwhile, Treasurer Financial crimes investigator Ray King superbly played by Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) enlists the help of Marybeth Medina played by British actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Colombiana) to investigate the mysterious maths savant who has a perfect shot.

Medina soon uncovers who the real Christian Wolfe is, a money launderer and racketeer to some of the most dangerous organised crime syndicates internationally, the real reason why some of Wolfe’s clients can pay him in original paintings by Renoir and Jackson Pollock.

Through a series of flashbacks, O’Connor takes audiences into the troubled childhood of Wolfe who was brought up by his military trained father in a variety of exotic cities and teaches Christian and his younger brother Braxton how to survive in a hostile world.

The Accountant is a revealing action thriller held together by a tightly wound performance by Affleck as he battles not only the demons in his past but the current enemies in the shady corporate world, who will stop at nothing to silence the financial intrigue and cover up involved in taking a robotics company onto the New York stock exchange as a lucrative initial public offering.

Audiences should watch out for inventive cameo’s by Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor as Francis Silverberg and Fargo star Jean Smart as Rita Blackburn.

This is an engaging thriller which never loses hold of its numerous plot twists. The Accountant is an edge of your seat action movie in which all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle finally fit together at the end. An absorbing and gripping film with excellent sound effects.

 

The Beautiful Barden Bellas

Pitch Perfect 2

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Director: Elizabeth Banks

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Esther Dean, Hana Mae Lee, John Michael Higgins

As an actress I first noticed Elizabeth Banks in the hilarious and very risqué comedy Zach and Mary Make a Porno and then she went onto make a string of films including The Next 3 Days before being cast as the zany Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games Trilogy. Then Banks was cast as the hilarious announcer in Pitch Perfect so is perfectly suitable that she should take over as director for the highly anticipated and hilarious sequel.

It is wonderful to see so many female directors becoming prominent recently in Hollywood especially in an international film business which is predominantly populated by men. Cinema traditionally was accustomed to seeing film through the eyes of men. But recently all that is changing.

So it’s perfect that Elizabeth Banks become director of Pitch Perfect 2 which in essence is a film about girls, aimed at girls and directed by a woman.

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The girls in question are the Beautiful Barden Bella’s, a high school a cappella singing group which affords an opportunity for a variety of talented young actresses to be seen together on screen including Anna Kendrick Oscar nominee for Up in the Air, Australian comedian Rebel Wilson and newcomer to the Barden Bella’s, Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld who was so extraordinarily impressive in the Coen brothers version of True Grit.

Pitch Perfect 2 basically picks up where the first film left off and after a hilariously funny wardrobe malfunction curtsey of Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson occurs  unexpectedly at the Lincoln Centre in front of a distinguished audience including the US President and the First Lady, the Barden Bella’s are naturally banned from performing nationally or entering competitions as they have quite literally fallen into ill repute.

This film does not dwell on their misfortunes and soon the Barden Bella’s have to regroup and practice as they plan on entering the international a cappella championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

So Banks as director, takes the audience on a self-parodying and satisfying journey of the Barden Bella’s as they attempt to reclaim their title and most importantly their dignity as well as highlighting many of the insecurities that young female school leavers face as they have to contend with choices about College, chauvinistic male bosses and a competitive workplace which is essentially still ruled by men. This is particularly highlighted in Beca experiences, (played by Anna Kendrick), as she attempts to secretly forge her own career as a music producer in a big Atlanta studio.

Hailee Steinfeld is superb and brings a certain vivaciousness to the Barden Bella’s but admittedly I could not help wondering what such a talented actress is doing in a film like Pitch Perfect 2 after seeing her in True Grit and Romeo and Juliet. Then it was her casting which is a stroke of genius as with Banks as director, she adeptly uses Steinfeld to showcase the rest of the Bella’s cast including Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson and Alexis Knapp.

The fact that Pitch Perfect 2 did so phenomenally well at the Box Office during its opening weekend is testament to the growing realization that the young teenage female cinema going audience is not a demographic to be overlooked for Box Office success.

Let’s face it most summer blockbuster films like the upcoming Jurassic World and Terminator reboots are aimed at a purely male audience.

Elizabeth Banks does an admirable job of directing Pitch Perfect 2 making a reasonably light and often hilarious comedy sequel about a group of girls aiming for international fame. Watch out for some brilliant scenes with Rebel Wilson besides the infamous opening number and also for guest appearances by various celebrities including Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine.

Pitch Perfect 2 is highly recommended viewing for a fun filled two hours in the cinema, not to be taken too seriously but to be enjoyed just enough so that Girl power in all its forms is a formidable force to be reckoned with. The songs are fabulous and I am sure even some of the guys will enjoy this hilarious and brilliant sequel. Hats off to Elizabeth Banks, as she scored a hit with the Beautiful Barden Bella’s.

 

Not So Happily Ever After…

Into the Woods

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Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, James Corden, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Lucy Punch, Tammy Blanchard, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford, Billy Magnussen, Mackenzie Murzy

Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago director Rob Marshall strikes gold with this cinematic adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical Into The Woods featuring a fabulous ensemble cast made all the better by Meryl Streep playing the meddling Witch.

Imagine Little Red Riding Hood teaming up with Jack the Giant Slayer, Cinderella and a forlorn Rapunzel, that is Into The Woods, a wonderful mixture of all the classic fairy tales thrown together in a delightful musical which is hinged with darkness and loaded with metaphors and familial moral codes about life’s unpredictability.

Director Marshall brings out the best in his cast including a superb performance by Emily Blunt as the barren Bakers Wife along with the irrepressible Meryl Streep as the evil Witch who asks the Baker, played by British actor James Corden to collect Cinderella’s golden slipper, a white cow, a lock of Rapunzel’s hair and a red cape naturally belonging to Red Riding Hood.

Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in The Air) holds her own as the doomed Cinderella who is wooed by a shameless prince played by Chris Pine (Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit, Horrible Bosses 2). Cinderella’s evil stepmother is superbly played by Christine Baranski of The Good Wife fame and The Birdcage. Audiences should also watch out for British comedian Tracey Ullman who plays Jack’s exasperated mother. Child stars Daniel Huttlestone and Lilla Crawford are amazing as Jack the Giant Slayer and Little Red Riding Hood.

Three times Oscar winner Meryl Streep reunites with her Devil Wears Prada co-star Emily Blunt, and it is clear that both these actresses keep this wonderful musical firmly rooted in brilliance. Blunt is absolutely amazing, delivering some quick witted lines and belting out some wonderful songs while Streep relishes the chance to play the blue haired vain and selfish Witch who is desperate to reclaim her lost beauty by reversing a curse placed on her. The Witch also incidentally holds her daughter Rapunzel played by Mackenzie Murzy hostage in a tower and much to her horror, has fallen for a young but clumsy prince played by the gorgeous newcomer Billy Magnussen.

Oscar nominee Johnny Depp who was spine chillingly excellent in another Sondheim musical film, Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street makes a brief appearance as the cross dressing wolf who terrorizes Little Red Riding Hood.

Even though Into The Woods is aimed at children, there are certainly slightly darker adult undertones to this extraordinary film as unlike the fairy tales, not everyone lives happily ever after. For those that enjoy expertly directed and acted big screen musicals, like Chicago, Les Miserables and Hairspray, then Into The Woods is definitely recommended viewing.

Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods is a truly imaginative, witty and fabulous fable sure to enchant both adults and children alike and as a stage production it would be equally extraordinary to watch.

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