Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Rampling’

Raunchy Russians

Red Sparrow

Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthais Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds, Mary-Louise Parker, Joely Richardson, Sakina Jaffrey, Douglas Hodge

Based upon the novel by former CIA Jason Matthews and adapted into a screenplay by Justin Haythe, Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence starts off Red Sparrow promisingly splicing a dodgy spy deal in Gorky Park with a fantastic ballerina sequence clearly inspired by Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.

Set in Moscow and Budapest, Red Sparrow has a robust cast which should have delivered a lot more.

Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) stars as ballerina turned spy Dominika Egorova who is coerced into joining the SVR (Russian intelligence) by her creepy uncle Vanya played by Matthais Schoenaerts (Far From the Madding Crowd) if she wants to keep looking after her sick mother Nina played by an unrecognizable Joely Richardson.

Dominika is sent to Sparrow school supervised by the manipulative Matron played by Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) where she is vigorously taught the art of seduction and psychological warfare. Joel Edgerton plays Nate Nash an American CIA operative whom Dominika has to get close to.

What follows is a raunchy and long two and 20 minute tale about double crossing spies in Budapest and Moscow, with enough undercurrent tones which makes this film distinctly anti-Russian.

What bothered me is that the Russians actually make brilliant films, see Burnt by the Sun and there are some talented Russian screen actors out there but to populate an entire film about Russians with American, British and Australian actors is always questionable.

Red Sparrow would have been an engrossing spy drama if the script was more illuminating and resorted less to gratuitous sex scenes to spice up a convoluted story line.

The only actor who made a distinct impression, besides the remarkable Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as the scheming General Korchnoi, was Mary-Louise Parker as the vodka swigging double agent Stephanie Boucher who audiences briefly glimpse in a London hotel room.

Red Sparrow despite some definable onscreen chemistry between Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Lawrence, plays like a bad 1980’s spy drama, without a hint of nuance or narrative thrust. Director Frances Lawrence could have also toned down the torture sequences which were embellished for dramatic effect much like the steamy nudity.

Red Sparrow was entertaining but could have been so much better, but also the timing of this film being released just after the Oscar season is unfortunate marketing.

Red Sparrow gets a Film Rating of 6.5 out of 10 and could have been edited by at least 30 minutes.

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.

 

2015 Berlin Film Festival

2015 Berlin International

Film Festival Winners

 65B Film Festival Poster 2015

The 65th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from 5th to the 15th February, 2015

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

The Opening Night film was Nobody Wants the Night directed by Isobel Cioxet starring Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Byrne, Rinko Kikuchi and Matt Salinger.

Nobody wants the Night

Winners of the five main prizes at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

taxi

Golden Bear (Best Film): Taxi directed by Jafar Panahi

Aferim_film_poster

Silver Bear (Best Director): shared between – Radu Jude for Aferim!

Małgorzata Szumowska for Body

(No Poster Available for this film)

Best Actor: Tom Courtenay – 45 Years

45_years_ver2

Best Actress: Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Silver Bear for Best Script: Patricio Guzmán for The Pearl Button

Pearl Button

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/65th_Berlin_International_Film_Festival

 

Intimacy without Intricacy

Deception

deception Poster

The 2008 film Deception is a subtle psycho-sexual thriller, directed by Marcel Langenegger set in the corporate world of New York City, starring Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams interweaving themes of illicit anonymous dating, with identity theft and corporate money laundering.

It is by no means a particularly bold film, but will nevertheless keep the viewer entertained with a sinister love triangle that is hinted at between McGregor, Jackman and Williams’s characters as they enter into a series of deceptive encounters and sexual intrigues stretching from New York to Madrid surrounding a corporate dating agency called the List, which promises the hard-working corporate clients late-night hook-ups with anonymous respondents. No names, no conversations, just murky and unquestionable sexual desire being completely gratified.

swimming_pool

Charlotte Rampling, the queen of psycho-sexual thrillers, so disturbingly good in such movies as Swimming Pool and Basic Instinct 2, makes a far too brief appearance as one of Ewan McGregor’s first encounters, who tells his character Jonathan McQuarry, that anonymous dating provides the clients with intimacy without the intricacy.

As the film progresses first impressions are ultimately deceiving and the shadowy midnight world of corporate sexual encounters develops into a far more sinister tale of murder and international financial embezzlement. All the scenes in New York City are mostly shot at night, with locations in bleak office buildings, pale apartments, dingy subway stations or dimly lit hotel bars and bedrooms. McGregor’s character McQuarry transforms from a dull introverted external auditor to a cunning and resourceful anti-hero.

With hints of the 1980’s classic thriller Bad Influence and the more recent film with Jennifer Anniston and Clive Owen Derailed, Deception is certainly not an original story, but its fascinating film noir qualities combined with themes of sexual intrigue, and the undertones of corporate power and identity make the film a worthy cinematic visit. By the end, you won’t want to trust that casual acquaintance you have made at work or indulge in any seemingly anonymous sexual activities. Deception definitely and darkly reveals that in most cases intimacy without the intricacy is really an illusion.

 

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