Posts Tagged ‘Brian Gleeson’

The Intensity of Design

Phantom Thread

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps, Brian Gleeson, Gina McKee

Inherent Vice and The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson reunites with his Oscar winning star of There Will Be Blood which Anderson also directed, the hugely talented Daniel Day-Lewis in his new handsomely crafted film Phantom Thread.

Moving away from America, Paul Thomas Anderson sets Phantom Thread in 1950’s post-war England in the glamourous yet stifling world of British fashion as Daniel Day-Lewis plays the fastidious fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock in a fine Oscar-nominated performance.

Like The Master, Phantom Thread incisively explores the intricacy of human relationships as the film centres on the tumultuous relationship between Woodcock, who hates to be disturbed at breakfast and his young muse, turned model, Alma, a superb performance by Luxembourgian actress Vicky Krieps who fills the screen with an unrivaled radiance.

This radiance is counterpointed by the incisive performance of British actress Lesley Manville (Maleficent, Mr Turner) as the immaculate sister of Reynolds, oddly named Cyril, whose ambivalent sexuality and headstrong business sense ensues that her talented brother is seldom thrown off course. Lesley Manville is utterly brilliant as Cyril and received an Oscar nomination for her integral supporting performance.

What really makes Phantom Thread worth seeing are the beautiful costumes designed by Mark Bridges who won an Oscar for Costume Design for this film as well as for director Michel Hazanavicius’s Oscar winning film The Artist.

Central to Phantom Thread’s narrative is the intense relationship between the feisty and young Alma and the brilliant yet tortured Reynolds Woodcock who naturally displays all the obsessiveness of his craft including retrieving a gorgeous emerald dress from a drunken society lady after her wedding.

Phantom Thread is a slow moving drama, supported by exceptional performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville and will certainly appeal to audiences that have a love of fashion or have enjoyed Paul Thomas Anderson’s previous films which are at times obscure, thought-provoking and significant. His filmography includes The Master, Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice and the Oscar winning There will be Blood.

Apparently Phantom Thread is to be Daniel Day-Lewis’s last film as he hints at retirement, but hopefully it won’t be his last onscreen performance as he has enjoyed a sumptuous career starting with a minor role in the Merchant Ivory film A Room with a View and appearing as Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. The supremely talented Day-Lewis is one of only a handful of actors to win three Best Actor Oscars for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and lastly in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leaving an incomparable acting legacy behind.

Daniel Day-Lewis leaves behind an illustrious acting career in cinema and it’s for this reason that Phantom Thread is worth seeing. His performance as the creative, yet obsessive fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock is flawless, exemplifying all the intensity and pressure of design.

Phantom Thread gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is a highly recommended period drama.

 

 

The Hillbilly Heist

Logan Lucky

 

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Sebastian Stan, Katherine Waterson, David Denham

Director Steven Soderbergh has an inventive filmography including Contagion, Side Effects and the Oscar winning films Traffic and Erin Brockovich.

He returns to the big screen with the redneck caper film Logan Lucky starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as unfortunate West Virginia brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan who together with their younger sister Mellie played by Legendary singer Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, Magic Mike) who concoct a plan to steal cash from the Nascar Speedway during a major Racing event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In order to break into the air locked vault of the cash rich Speedway, the Logan brothers enlist the assistance of incarcerated Joe Bang wonderfully played in a stand out (possibly Oscar worthy) performance by James Bond star Daniel Craig who obviously was desperate to breakout of  the 007 image.

Which is what makes Logan Lucky all the more fascinating. Soderbergh’s uncanny ability to assemble a really good cast to tell an extraordinarily clever story almost rival’s that of the cinematic auteur Woody Allen in his comic films like Café Society.

Except that Logan Lucky is a far cry from the glamourous Golden age of Hollywood of Café Society. Logan Lucky is an exceptionally funny film and almost bizarrely told with a deadpan sense of timing that makes the heist which they seemingly pull off even more unbelievable.

In order for Joe Bang to assist the Logan brothers he has to enlist the help of his own two hillbilly brothers Fish and Sam Bang, superbly played by rising stars Jack Quaid (son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) and Brian Gleeson (The Eagle, Snow White and the Huntsman) son of Brendan Gleeson.

The unbelievably stupid Bang brothers unlike the Logan brothers feel that committing a crime would be immoral but when the lure of big cash is promised their assistance is secured unequivocally.

What follows is an ingenuous heist film centred on the Nascar Car Racing Event in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the South, below the Mason-Dixon Line where the Southern drawl is pronounced and patriotism to the American flag is unwavering.

With Soderbergh’s trademark use of cameo appearances of big stars including Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Sebastian Stan and Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby) as FBI Special Agent Sarah Grayson who post-heist desperately tries to catch the culprits only to land up at a West Virginia bar being served by a one armed bartender, Logan Lucky is a character driven film about ordinary citizens wanting to better themselves in a semi-impoverished backwater.

Audiences would have to watch Logan Lucky to enjoy Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and an excellent Daniel Craig in a hillbilly heist comedy about outback losers who plan on getting back at the system which has kept them downtrodden and unemployed. Highly Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed the Ocean’s Eleven Trilogy without the glamour.

Logan Lucky gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is immensely enjoyable.

The Cure for Violence

Assassin’s Creed

Director: Justin Kurzel

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K. Williams, Denis Menochet, Khalid Abdalla, Callum Turner, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Gleeson.

Whilst Australian director Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed does not match up to the theatricality of his cinematic version of Macbeth featuring the same two leads, Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), the film version of the popular videogame Assassin’s Creed is by no means boring.

Assassin’s Creed like Warcraft does justice to the videogame and with glossy production values and a superb supporting cast including Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Rikkin and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (45 Years, Angelheart) as High Priest of the Knights Templar Ellen Kaye, the film has an atmospheric quality as the action shifts from contemporary Madrid to the Spanish Inquisition in Seville to a gloomy rain drenched London.

Fassbender all muscled and taut, plays convicted murderer Callum Lynch who is about to be sentenced to death via lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas only to wake up in a specialist facility run by Abstergo Industries on the outskirts of Madrid where the gorgeous and sleek, Sofia Rikkin played by Cotillard administers him in a bizarre program to cure him of his inborn tendency for violence. The program includes the hunky and shirtless captive (Fassbender) being plugged into the animus which allows Lynch to channel the vivid experiences of his violent ancestors.

As for the rather confusing time-jumping narrative, the whole story hinges on the Assassins protecting the key to freewill the Apple of Eden from the Knights Templar, whose contemporary equivalent appears to be the shady corporation behind Abstergo Industries headed up by the mysterious Rikkin, who Irons embodies with a silky velvet voice filled with menace reminiscent of his creepy portrayal of Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune.

As video game adaptations go, Warcraft was a better film, while Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed does justice to the genre although the film would only really appeal to fans of the game familiar with the basic premise of the elaborate sword wielding fight sequences which are mostly set in 15th century Seville.

Whilst it is a cinematic pleasure to see Irons, Rampling, Fassbender and Cotillard all share the same screen, one wishes it was for a masterful spy drama or a film about political intrigue rather than a video game adaptation. Fassbender and Cotillard acting abilities are naturally not put to such good use as they were in Kurzel’s visionary production of Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed will no doubt appeal to the gamers most of whom are male, judging by the patriarchal nature of the plot.

After all, Man’s free will was exercised by his taking of the apple in the Garden of Eden which the voluptuous Eve offered to him according to biblical legend. The key to freewill and the power to control it is all that the Knights Templar are after.

Assassin’s Creed is recommended for those gamers which enjoy a cinematic pastiche of the future and the ancient worlds moulded together in a Spanish setting as the Assassins battle the Knights Templar in a vicious bid to halt the cure for violence. Audiences should look out for cameo appearances by Brendan Gleeson as Callum’s father Joseph Lynch and Michael Kenneth Williams as Moussa.

 

The Evil Queen Stakes

Snow White and the Huntsman

Vicious Vanity takes no prisoners

Director Rupert Sanders visually stunning Gothic Snow White and the Huntsman channels Gullermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and the hit HBO Feudal Fantasy series Game of Thrones and ain’t no fairytale although all the elements of fantasy are evident from Trolls to Dwarves, to Knights and Fairies. The real winner of Snow White and the Huntsman is the Evil Queen Ravena played beautifully with a seriously unhinged quality by Oscar winner Benoni superstar Charlize Theron, referencing her earlier role in Monster. In Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize steals the show and is the backbone to this dark fantasy epic featuring Kirsten Stewart as the meek and anaemic Snow White and Thor’s hairy and gruff Chris Hemsworth as the sword wielding Huntsman sent to rescue the damsel trapped in the dark forest…

Mirror Mirror

This Queen ain’t no Bad Apple

Where the frivolous and occasionally funny Mirror Mirror spectacularly fails is the casting of goodie-two-shoes actress Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen in director of The Immortals Tarsem Singh’s frothy and glossy retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Mirror Mirror, which as a comedy is fun in parts namely due to the casting of genuine dwarves, along with Nathan Lane and Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins as the sweet and innocent Snow White, but the casting of Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen?Really?

Joan Rivers, Rupaul  or Kim Catrall could do a better job especially in this semi-Bollywood fantasy featuring  the buff Armie Hammer as the hapless but entirely vacant Prince. Wait for the end of Mirror Mirror to see the Dance number and the redeeming aspect is the fabulous costumes at the Queens Ball with Snow White as a Swan…

Unlike Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is pure feudal old world action with a dash of macabre incest, vanity and vicious magic realism. Charlize Theron steals the show as the completely off kilter pyschopathic Evil Queen who bathes in milk and whose gold mirror comes to life. Twilight star Kirsten Stewart only really comes into her role as the grubby Snow White in the second part of the film, but alas there is no chemistry between her and the Huntsman, played with less enthusiasm by Chris Hemsworth who really made an impact with Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.

Mirror Mirror is suitable for pretty little girls and Snow White and the Huntsman is more closer to malignant  witchcraft appealing to a more jaded generation complete with a sinister Evil Queen hell bent in her quest for the heart of a virgin at the expense of the seven dwarfs, the occasional fairy and a hapless Troll. Charlize Theron is just that much more menacing in the evil Queen stakes and film’s final show down is visually stimulating.

 

 

Honour Beyond Hadrians Wall

The Eagle

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In the 1st Century AD, the Roman Empire extended into southern Britain and up to the borders of Scotland. The Eagle directed by Kevin Macdonald who brought us the impressively brilliant Oscar winning Last King of Scotland, stars a surprisingly capable Channing Tatum along with Jamie Bell is an engaging period tale about this expansionist phase of the Roman Empire and its stronghold in Britain.

Tatum, who has come a long way as an actor from Step Up to play Marcus Aquila, a Roman lieutenant who goes to the then savage lands of Britain and extend the rule of the Roman Empire and regain the lost standard with the assistance of his all too savvy slave Esca. Twenty years earlier a standard, a gold eagle was lost in the Scottish highlands, by a Roman legion said to be slain by the savage tribes that inhabited the north beyond Hadrian’s Wall, a fortification erected in 122 AD along the North of England, also used as a means of taxation for those caught within the realms of the Roman Empire. Hadrian’s Wall was one of the most heavily fortified border in the entire Empire, separating Roman controlled Britain with the wild Scottish Highlands.

That legion was lead by Marcus Aquila’s father and the tale of the lost gold standard has haunted Marcus Aquila and tainted his family’s honour. Marcus after sustaining a leg injury in a battle with local Druids is sent to recover at his Uncle’s villa in Southern Britain, who is guided by his more cautious relative, a wonderful cameo by the veteran actor Donald Sutherland. Near his uncle’s villa, Marcus saves the life of Esca in a primitive battle with a second rate gladiator and Esca, in a superb and wry performance by Jamie Bell who has also filled out considerably since his debut in the hit ballet film Billy Elliot, becomes Marcus’s slave but also his able-bodied companion.

In a bid to search for the lost Eagle, the gold standard, Marcus and Esca embark on a treacherous journey beyond the boundaries of the known world or the Roman world that is and there the colonizer becomes the colonized by the savage and ruthless seal tribe. In order to survive Esca makes Marcus his slave in the face of the savage tribe who have taken the gold standard as their own, a glorified object to be worship in pagan rituals. Although not entirely historically accurate, The Eagle is very engaging ethnographically recreating a world of Britain centuries before William the Conqueror invaded the island in 1066, displaying a barbaric land inhabited by various druid and Celtic tribes who were adverse to their Roman colonizers seizing their land especially those in ancient Scotland.

The Eagle is about men conquering other men through violence and colonization, about honour lost and dignity regained. It’s a male bonding journey about a master and servant who through their journey beyond Hadrian’s Wall help each other gain both honour, respect and freedom.

While all this sounds vaguely homoerotic, it certainly is. Especially with Channing Tatum as the muscular and brawny Marcus being assisted by the instinct driven and supple Esca, as they battle savage tribes, their own repressed longings for each other and their respective dead fathers is played out in a bitterly cold and vicious but breathtaking landscape of Scotland, a land well beyond the borders of the Roman Empire and beautifully captured by director Kevin Macdonald, showing his passion for his native Scotland.

The Eagle does not fare as well as Ridley Scott’s masterpiece Gladiator, but with all the sword fighting, bloodletting and adventure is well worth watching if not for a peek into a little documented epoch of the Roman conquest of Britain before the realm of monarchy and the equally savage rules of subsequent Kings and Queens from the despotic Richard III to Henry VIII, from the victorious Elizabeth I to Victoria. Like all magnificent and faded empires, both Roman and British alike, have suffered their decline by the infiltration of barbarians and the inability to keep such a vast colonial Empire eternally fortified.

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