Posts Tagged ‘Dane DeHaan’

The Conception of an Affair

Tulip Fever

Director: Justin Chadwick

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Judi Dench, Jack O’Connell, Kevin McKidd, Holliday Grainger, Tom Hollander, Zach Galifianakis, Joanna Scanlan, David Harewood, Sebastian Armesto, Matthew Morrison, Douglas Hodge

British director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, The First Grader) tackles a cinematic version of Deborah Moggarch’s novel Tulip Fever with the literary assistance of Anna Karenina screenwriter Tom Stoppard.

Assembling an international cast including Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) and fellow Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Tulip Fever is set in Amsterdam in 1623 at the height of the Tulip trade which flourished in the Netherlands and was in essence the first stock market which blossomed illicitly behind Tavern doors and co-opted by solicitous nuns who grew the beautiful flowers in sacred abbeys away from the hustle of Dutch city life.

With sumptuous costumes by Michael O’Connor and suitably dark production design by Simon Elliott, Tulip Fever focuses on the young orphan Sophia Sandvoort superbly played by Vikander who is forced to marry the wealthy yet childless Burgermeester (local mayor) Cornelious Sandvoort played by Waltz.

Like all Dutch noblemen, Sandvoort commissions a young and impoverished painter to paint the couple’s portrait, a 17th century trend which made Rembrandt famous. In steps the exuberant and excitable Jan van Loos played by Dane DeHaan (Valerian, Kill Your Darlings).

Soon van Loos falls for the ravishing Sophia and deception is conceived mainly for her to escape from her pompous husband who really wants to impregnate her with his preferably male heir.

In a parallel narrative, Sophia’s devoted maid, Maria played by British actress Holliday Grainger (Jane Eyre, The Finest Hours, Cinderella) has fallen for the charming if not smelly fishmonger Willem Bok played by Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) who aspire to get married and have six children together.

In a bizarre twist both Bok and van Loos, two young men desperately trying to increase their liquidity embark on making money on the booming tulip trade, in which the precious bulbs fluctuated in price depending on their rarity and natural beauty of the elusive flower.

Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) plays the Abbess who has to sternly guide the young men in the flourishing yet turbulent tulip trade while the Netherlands was expanding its colonial empire to the Dutch East Indies and South Africa.

Despite the slightly convoluted plot and frenetic story line, Tulip Fever is an enjoyable and raunchy period drama held together by amazing performances by the four main leads which serves as a Dutch version of Twelfth Night.

Audiences that enjoyed Girl with a Pearl Earring and Shakespeare in Love, will undoubtedly love Tulip Fever, which provides a fascinating cinematic perspective on the brief but flourishing Tulip trade which made the Netherlands one of the riches countries in Europe especially in the 17th century, establishing their own national stability and making them the money lenders of Europe.

With all the deceit, obsession and money trading, Tulip Fever is a riotous period drama and gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Tulip Fever is recommended viewing as a historical drama with a uniquely Dutch twist.

Magellan’s Curve

Valerian and

the City of a Thousand Planets

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Rihanna, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer, Kris Wu, Herbie Hancock

French director Luc Besson attempts to re-enact his Sci-Fi success of his hit film The Fifth Element with a sparkling and innovative new space adventure film set in the 28th century Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets starring Dane DeHaan (Life, Kill Your Darlings) as Major Valerian and British fashion model turned actress Cara Delevingne (Paper Towns, Suicide Squad) as his sidekick stroke lover Sergeant Laureline.

After an impressive Virtual Reality sequence in a universal market, Valerian comes face to face with the Pearls a luminescent race whose planet accidentally got obliterated during a celestial conflict.

The Pearls, initially a harmonious alien race soon realize that dark forces are at play in the Universe and seek shelter in an abandoned space ship which is transported to the vast city of a Thousand Planets called Alpha.

The attractive duo Valerian and Laureline play the ever bickering lovers of this bizarre space opera have to report to the crafty Commander Arun Filitt played by Oscar nominee Clive Owen (Closer). As the duo have to discover what is really behind the malignant threat growing within the City, they come into contact with a collection of utterly bizarre CGI creatures and a guest appearance by superstar Rihanna as Bubble who appears in a Cabaret like moment as a glambot nicknamed Bubble.

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day) appears all too briefly as the crazy pimp Jolly in Paradise Alley where he attempts to entice Valerian in all sorts of virtual lascivious entanglements with Bubble.

While the pace of Valerian slackens in the second half of the film, the visual effects are utterly mind-blowing and since the majority of the film’s financing came from BNP Paribas let’s hope director Luc Besson gets a return on his box office both in France and internationally.

With fabulous onscreen chemistry between DeHaan and Delevingne, audiences should completely suspend their disbelief as they watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets which will certainly appeal to fans of comic book Sci-Fi. The funky score by Alexander Desplat and the gorgeous cinematography by Thierry Abrogast make Valerian cinematically palatable and infinitely beautiful despite some extremely imaginative sequences.

The voices of Elizabeth Debicki and John Goodman also feature in Valerian.

The story of home planets being destroyed is nothing original and has been done before in Star Trek Beyond and Star Wars, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is recommended viewing for hard core fans of Sci-Fi and gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Audiences should watch out for a cameo by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer as President of the World State Federation who appeared in the original Blade Runner film directed by Ridley Scott in 1982.

 

The Cusp of Fame

Life

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Director: Anton Corbijn

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Robert Pattinson, Joel Edgerton, Stella Schnabel, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ben Kingsley, Peter Lucas

Like Simon Curtis’ s film My Week With Marilyn, director Anton Corbijn’s handsomely made film Life offers a glimpse into a slice of iconic screen legend James Dean’s life, a couple of months before his untimely death on the 30th September 1955 as seen through the lens of acclaimed photographer Dennis Stock.

Corbijn’s films including The American and A Most Wanted Man are considerably measured in approach and give the actors a chance to inhabit their characters on screen. The casting of Dane DeHaan (The Devil’s Knot, Lawless) as the reluctant star James Dean and Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis, Twilight) as the struggling photojournalist Stock who sees in Dean a potential symbol for the rising counter-culture in the American society exemplified in the Beat Generation especially writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg who become infamous in the latter years of the 1950’s.

DeHaan who also starred as Lucien Carr in Kill Your Darlings, which also focused on this particular era is beautifully cast as the selfish, enigmatic and moody James Dean who is literally on the cusp of fame.

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Life, which takes place in 1955, as Dean has just starred in Nicholas Ray’s film East of Eden and is on the brink of getting the part in Rebel Without a Cause.

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DeHaan intensely inhabits the role of James Dean and Pattinson is brilliant as the struggling photographer Stock who on a whim decides to follow his itinerant subject from Los Angeles to New York and then to his home town of Marion, Indiana.

Its James Dean’s encounter with Jack Warner of Warner Brothers where he first realizes that he is a pawn in the powerful studio system. Warner is played with panache and brutality by Oscar Winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Sexy Beast) who even says to Dean “You belong to me now.”

DeHaan superbly shows James Dean’s reluctance at being controlled as he mysteriously leaves New York to visit his relations in Indiana, not before Stock poignantly manages to capture that iconic black and white image of James Dean, wearing a trench coat, strolling nonchalantly through Times Square New York in the rain, smoking a cigarette.

Whilst the script of Life is by no means as witty as My Week with Marilyn, causing the narrative to meander considerably in the middle act of the film, it does offer viewers a glimpse at an enigmatic superstar who after three films become such a Hollywood icon just as his life was cut short in a fatal car crash: Life of James Dean.

giant_ver3Ironically Dennis Stock’s images of James Dean were immortalized much like the star he was photographing. Audiences should look out for cameo appearances by director Julian Schnabel’s daughter Stella Schnabel as Norma and Italian actress Alessandra Mastronardi as Dean’s initial love interest, actress Pier Angeli along with Joel Edgerton as John Morris.

What is clearly emphasized in Life, was James Dean’s ambition to be an actor which he was passionate about without wanting to participate in his film’s publicity, premieres and red carpet obligations that he would notoriously shy away from.

Watching Life in a 21st century, celebrity obsessed context, James Dean would never have survived had he been born half a century later, despite his immense talent and gorgeous baby-faced good looks. Life is a fascinating portrait of two men, of subject and photographer, who both at some point realize that their unique friendship would be fleeting, yet have a lasting impact on the public perception of what constitutes a screen icon.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoy languid biopics without the wit or profound resonance often associated with films about hugely famous people. By no means a masterpiece, Life is certainly fascinating viewing and affords a moody opportunity to see DeHaan and Pattinson onscreen together.

 

The Libertine Circle

Kill Your Darlings

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Director: John Krokidas
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgwick

The Beat generations’ pivotal year at Columbia University in 1944 is the engrossing starting point for this literary murder story, Kill Your Darlings, featuring a superb performance by Dane DeHaan as the disturbed anarchist Lucien Carr who has been under the influence of David Kamerer played by Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame. Enter the freshman and aspiring poet Allen Ginsberg sensitively played by Daniel Radcliffe who has fled a disturbed domestic environment to attend Columbia University and study English Literature.

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Soon Ginsberg falls under the spell bounding attention of Carr and the two strike up an intensely homoerotic friendship and Carr introduces Ginsberg to William S. Buroughs wonderfully underplayed by an unrecognizable Ben Foster and Jack Kerouac, played by Jack Huston nephew of Hollywood stars Angelica and Danny Huston and grandson of legendary director John Huston.
Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac fueled by countless drugs, experimental sexuality and non-conformist attitudes attempt to liberate themselves from the pantheon of Victorian and pre-Modernist literature and invent a new type of distinctly American literary movement heavily influenced by the banned work of Henry Miller, The Tropic of Cancer along with D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover both of which was secured under lock and key in the stately Columbia Library.

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As the Second World War raged on across the Atlantic and many of their American countrymen were liberating a ruined Europe from the last throws of Fascism, The Beat Generation was germinating in the hallowed halls of Columbia University and the dive bars of jazzy Harlem. Naturally its every young man first response to rebel against society upon entering University and these four certainly do so in more ways than one, under the envious gaze of David Kamerer whose latent sexuality and jealousy threatens to destroy their unique vision that of a Libertine Circle inspired by the poetry of W. B. Yeats. Kill Your Darlings is heavy viewing and for those not familiar with the writers or works of the Beat Generation which blossomed in the 1950’s and was at the forefront to American counter-culture leading up to the youth revolt characterizing the 1960’s, should really avoid this film.

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Kill Your Darlings refers to the breaking of all standard literary conventions like metre, narrative and plot development, something the Modernists like Yeats, Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot started doing. Central to this literary world, where creativity is fueled by drugs in Williams S. Burroughs’s case (see The Naked Lunch), or sexuality in Ginsberg’s case or recklessness in the life of Jack Kerouac whose seminal work On The Road become the literary bible for the Beat Generation is the unusual story of Carr and his ambivalent and highly influential relationship with Ginsberg. This controversial and ultimately doomed relationship would eventually be the inspiration of Ginsberg’s famous poem Howl published in 1957  as he discovers his latent homosexuality along with his distinctive voice as one of America’s most influential poets.

De Haan and Radcliffe are brave, ferocious and sexy  in Kill Your Darlings and while the murder plot tends to be slightly laboured it is their relationship with each other and also with their parents which becomes the focal point of a fascinating study of rebellion, artistic integrity in the face of conventional criticism and more significantly sacrifice. Highly recommended viewing but definitely not aimed at a broad appeal.

Victims and Heroes

The Place Beyond the Pines

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Director: Derek Cianfrance

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Bruce Greenwood, Mahershala Ali, Emory Cohen

Critically acclaimed Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance’s absorbing and poignant three act family drama, The Place Beyond the Pines is almost Shakespearean in nature as the narrative delves into the psyche of contemporary masculinity and the legacy that men leave behind for their sons. That legacy is naturally shaped by the actions and deeds that a man did whose triumphs or sins will haunt the next generation.

The film opens with a motorbike stunt sequence in a metal ball in which three stunt riders’ ride around in a seeming and noisy symmetry. Ryan Gosling (Drive, Gangster Squad) is introduced as Luke who as a down on his luck, tattooed stunt driver earns money at the local fairs in upstate New York, Schenectady to be exact. After a brief one night stand with a local waitress Romina played by Eva Mendes, the itinerant stunt rider Luke returns to the town a year later to discover that he has fathered a one year old son.

Cash-strapped and desperate, he befriends a local two bit mechanic who says that the quickest way to make some serious cash is to rob a couple of local banks using his unique stunt riding skill set. Desperate to offer some form of financial support to Eva and his newborn baby, Gosling soon goes on a Bank robbing spree. After a serious of successful stints, one last job goes horribly wrong and Gosling’s fate as a man and a father gets inextricably tied in with a young and ambitious local cop Avery Cross, superbly played by Bradley Cooper (who really has excelled in the serious acting stakes since his remarkable Oscar nominated performance in Silver Linings Playbook).

The Place Beyond the Pines is an intimately shot and skilfully directed study of masculinity by Derek Cianfrance and the intricate sprawling story line is both riveting and powerful as the actions of both men, Gosling and Cross reverberate for the next two decades.

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This is a brilliant piece of film noir assisted by a remarkable supporting cast including a wonderfully menacing performance by Ray Liotta as a corrupt cop Deluca and Dane DeHaan as Gosling’s confused but vulnerable teenage son Jason. Whilst the female characters are intentionally underwritten, it really is Mendes who excels in a grittier role as a mother who has to bring up a son whilst keeping a secret about his real father’s criminal past.

The Place Beyond the Pines is about legacy, betrayal, corruption, aggression and ambition in a small town American community which sees two men from opposite social spectrums both portrayed alternatively as victim and hero in the narrative who make the wrong choices for all the supposedly right reasons, only to have those choices impact their own son’s destinies.

Cianfrance deserves an Oscar nomination for his gripping direction as he deftly captures the intensity and brooding atmosphere of small town America where every man is angling for a better life despite the consequences and their own circumstances. The Place Beyond the Pines is a highly recommended film which will firmly elevate Oscar Nominees Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper as two of the most promising actors of their generation. This gripping crime drama also stars Rose Byrne as Avery Cross’s wife Jennifer and Bruce Greenwood as District Attorney Bill Kilcullen.

Violent Tendencies

LAWLESS

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The Road director John Hillcoat’s violent adaptation of the novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondourant is graphic, gritty and riveting. Featuring the bad boys of 21st century cinema, Lawless teams Shia LaBeauf (Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps, Transformers) with Tom Hardy (Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) as the true life Bondourant  bootlegging brothers of Franklin County, Virginia, circa 1920.

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Narrated by the youngest and naturally the most flashiest brother Jack Bondourant played brilliantly by La Beouf, Lawless tells of how the three brothers enter the bloody world of bootlegging during Prohibition America and how their claim to fame besides their protectiveness of each other is their invincibility. Sooner Jack goes into business with the fugitive Chicago Floyd Banner (a great cameo by Oscar Nominee Gary Oldman) and illegally transports whisky and moonshine across county lines. Up against a sadistic and vain deputy sheriff Charlie Rakes played with a subtle brutality by Guy Pierce (L. A. Confidential), what ensues is a violent turf war brought on by the prohibition and all the illegal, criminal activities which develop at an unrelenting pace.

Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), plays Maggie Beauford the storekeeper and eventual love interest for the seemingly invincible Forrest Bondourant  gruffly acted by the ever talented Tom Hardy, whilst the oldest brother Howard, played by Jason Clarke fresh from the horrors of World War 1 is the quiet and slightly sociopathic type. Lawless is a rural gangster film, which moves the action away from the major cities like Chicago,  New York and Atlantic City (as seen in the classic The Untouchables and the brilliant HBO series Boardwalk Empire) and depicts the Virginia trio as a tough, seemingly invincible band of brothers who will go to any lengths to protect their operation and survive during the 1920’s and 30’s.

Boardwalk Empire

Whilst Lawless focuses too much on the violence, and not enough on the characters motivation, it is clear that all three brothers possess vicious tendencies when protecting themselves and each other in their bid for survival. Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) stars as the Quaker’s daughter Bertha Minnix, a potential love interest for Jack and it’s in scenes between Wasikowska and LaBeouf in which the script is the strongest.

Lawless is a bloody slice in more ways than one of Prohibition era American history and is not for sensitive viewers as director Hillcoat goes for more of the brutality and less of the morality in this gripping tale of brutal brothers surviving against all odds, and proving that when it comes to turf wars, blood is always thicker than moonshine.

 

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