Posts Tagged ‘Denis Menochet’

Operation Thunderbolt

7 Days in Entebbe

Director: Jose Padilha

Cast: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl, Eddie Marsan, Ben Schnetzer, Nonso Anozie, Mark Ivanir, Denis Menochet, Lior Ashkenzi

Robocop director Jose Padilha directs Rosamund Pike and Daniel Bruhl in the fascinating life recreation of the 1976 Hijack drama of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris which eventually lands up in Entebbe, Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin.

Pike and Bruhl play Baader Meinhof terrorists and PLO sympathisers Brigitte Kuhlmann and Wilfried Bose even speaking German which is a comfort as Bruhl (Rush, The Zookeepers Wife, Inglourious Basterds) is half Spanish half German.

It’s also refreshing to see the Oscar nominee for Gone Girl, Rosemund Pike play a role against type.

Brazilian director Jose Padilha frames the action and tension of 7 Days in Entebbe within an Israeli contemporary dance number which is inventive and clever. The Book Thief’s Ben Schnetzer plays an Israeli soldier who is tasked along with his battalion to rescue the Israeli passengers from a rundown old Entebbe airport terminal, an efficient military exercise known as Operation Thunderbolt.

Nonso Anonzie makes a brief appearance as Idi Amin, but the real star of 7 Days in Entebbe is the almost unrecognizable Eddie Marsan as the Israeli defence secretary Shimon Peres who would one become Prime Minister of Israel. French actor Denis Menochet (The Program) plays a practical Air France flight engineer who attempts to gain sympathy for the plight of the passengers from the inexperienced terrorist Wilfried Bose.

7 Days in Entebbe is a fascinating recreation of one of Israel’s most daring rescue operations which captured the world’s attention at a time when hijacking was a common terrorist threat.

The tone of the film is definitely pro-Israeli but it is refreshing to watch an action drama which is not Americanized in any way but became one of the highlights of the Israeli military back in the summer of 1976.

Director Jose Padilha effortlessly blends real documentary footage with a brilliant recreation of one of the most bizarre hijackings in aviation history in the riveting 7 Days in Entebbe.

Whilst the film could have been edited in parts, 7 Days in Entebbe is a recommended film for audiences that enjoy stories based on real international events, whatever your political views are on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Operation Thunderbolt ticks all the right boxes held together by superb performances by the films three main leads: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl and Eddie Marsan.

7 Days in Entebbe gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

 

 

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.

 

Tour de Lance

The Program

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Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Jesse Plemons, Dustin Hoffman, Guillaume Canet, Lee Pace, Bryan Greenberg, Denis Menochet

Acclaimed British directed Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, Philomena) tackles another real life media drama similarly to his Oscar winning film The Queen, in the sports expose of infamous cyclist Lance Armstrong in his new film The Program.

Based upon the novel The Seven Deadly Sins by the sports journalist David Walsh who tracked the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong from the early 1990’s to his public humiliation and eventual stripping of all seven Tour de France medals for admitting to running the most elaborate and sophisticated blood doping system in international cycling. The Program opens with a combative shot of David Walsh and Lance Armstrong playing table hockey in a French resort near the Tour de France route.

American actor Ben Foster (Kill Your Darlings) is terrific as Lance Armstrong, an ambitious cyclist who after battling and overcoming a devastating cancer diagnosis begins a record breaking winning streak by becoming the Tour de France champions seven times.

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Chris O’Dowd plays the sports journalist David Walsh who initially suspects that Armstrong’s winning streak is tainted by performance enhancing drugs and soon it is Armstrong’s own arrogance which confirms Walsh’s suspicions.

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Jesse Plemons (Bridge of Spies, Black Mass) plays the Amish cyclist Floyd Landis who initially joins Armstrong’s US Postal service team and then soon as the years progress gets caught for testing positive for using performance enhancing drugs such as testosterone as well as other barely detectable drugs such as  erythropoietin (EPO) which boost the body’s capacity for oxygen soon after being declared the winner of the 2006 Tour de France.

With the usual efficiency of editing and swift directing by Frears, The Program is an absorbing sports drama in a similar vein to Ron Howard’s Rush. What makes The Program so compelling is the immediacy of the story as the whole Lance Armstrong scandal is still fresh in the current news media, right up to the sensational interview that he gave on the Oprah Winfrey show in January 2013.

Lance Armstrong Interview with Oprah Winfrey

What is even more compelling to watch is Foster’s brilliant portrayal of Armstrong, a man whose initial devastating battle with testicular cancer turned his will to survive into an elaborate and arrogant drive to win at all costs and become an international sports icon and the brand of Lance Armstrong.

Doping scandals in sports are not new media fare but seem to be increasing reoccurring narratives in the media frenzied world of sports, where competitiveness and winning becomes the only method of establishing a celebrity status in the 21st century, which Frears skilfully emphasizes in The Program.

Whilst Frears’ earlier film The Queen about the British monarch’s response to the tragic death of Princess Diana back in 1997 is a far superior film, The Program is worth watching for Foster really inhabits the role of Armstrong, changing his physique and almost chillingly adopting his champion arrogance, which is often reflected in scenes where Armstrong is threatening other cyclists on the highly grueling and competitive Tour de France circuit.

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Audiences should look out for Lee Pace as Armstrong’s sleazy brand manager, Bill Stapleton and a brief cameo by Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (Marathon Man, Rain Man) as the team US Postal Service’s underwriter, Bob Hamman, who was initially responsible for paying out large sums of cash to Armstrong for his successive Tour de France wins. French actor Guillaume Canet plays the shady Italian doctor Michele Ferrari.

The Program is a superb portrait of international sports competitiveness, deception and how the media are implicit in making these cyclists into celebrities then breaking them down when scandal erupts.

Source:Lance Armstrong

Muscular Remake of Robin Longstride….

Robin Hood

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Ridley Scott’s Epic and muscular retelling of Robin Hood is better than expected. With Scott’s usual visual panache, 12th century England gets a grand and lush veneer along with a muscular and slightly jocular Robin Hood, played by Russell Crowe who teams up with an equally feisty Lady Marion, played with all the haughtiness of a woman trapped by her grand situation by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett.

The action is swift, gritty and visually compelling without dwelling on the gore but hinting at the brutality of the times. Robin Hood, which surprisingly opened the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and is devoutly English in its version of the pending invasion by King Philip of the brittle and precarious English realm of King John in 1199.

Supported by a wonderful cast including Mark Strong as yet another evil villian in the role of the allegiance shifting Godfrey, Eileen Atkins as the delicate but influential Eleanor of Aquitaine played by Eileen Atkins and Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley, Robin Hood is Ridley Scott back in the style of Gladiator with similar themes of an empire on the precipice of change, a slightly demented ruler and an anti-hero who leads the battle and starts a myth. Robin Hood also known as Robin Longstride is a brawny and hairy Russell Crowe who is forced to delve into the idealism of his youth where his father prophesied the Magna Carta and the saying Lambs become Lions….

Scott’s trademark elements of water and shadow are skilfully used to enhance a much larger and bolder canvas of a Kingdom ravaged by a ten year crusade to the Holy Land, rebellious noblemen and coffers which are far from full. The ever-menacing relationship with France is tested by the betrayals and ambitions of Godfrey and King Philip along with his niece Queen Isabella who is married to King John, younger brother to King Richard the Lionheart, a brief but great turn by Danny Huston brother of Angelica Huston.

Crowe and Blanchett make a fine team, both experienced actors with the right amount of gravity to pull off these mythic roles with depth and sensitivity without resorting to cliche. Had these roles been cast to lesser known stars the force of the film would have been lost. Robin Hood is an epic Historical tale which hints at the popular story of Robin Hood and his merry men, Friar Tuck and his beekeeping and the Sheriff of Nottingham, gorgeously underplayed by Matthew Macfadyen of Pride and Prejudice fame. William Hurt also makes an appearance as William Marshall to add weight to the already Oscar-laden cast. This film version is certainly not flimsy, but muscular, brawny, dark and partly comical without dwelling too much on the political intrigue, the costumes or the bloodletting of medieval England.

Robin Hood‘s arrow has the perfect shot and Ridley Scott’s film is superb, engaging and visually rewarding more as an historical epic than a special-effects laden blockbuster and will surely be noticed when awards season comes round next year. What would one expect from such an experienced film maker who has brought audiences such classics as Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise and the Oscar Winning Gladiator, which made Russell Crowe an international star.

With a sword he conquored Rome…

As for the French, Robin Hood did open at Festival du Cannes, so perhaps all that cross-channel animosity has slightly cooled! Watch Robin Longstride and his rise to iconic anti-hero and savior of the outcasts and the free…

Revisionist Cinema from Hell

Inglourious Basterds

She is watching us... the Voyeur as Killer

She is watching us… the Voyeur as Killer

A Revisionist look at World War 2 with all the German angst, French charm and American parody…

Sooner or later Tarantino was bound to approach the territory of the 2nd World War. While there has been a plethora of World War movies since the mid 1940s onwards, many have tackled the War from a purely Euro-American perspective focusing on the Nazi’s simply as the enemy. From Great battle films, like Saving Private Ryan to the more personal and heart-rendering stories of Sophie’s Choice and Schnindlers List and more recently Atonement.

The Rot started from within...

The Rot started from within…

Valkyrie arrived, Tom Cruise’s fascinating yet doomed project about a plot to kill Hitler from within the highest rankest of the Nazi inner circle in 1944. Defiance followed, a superb story of Polish Jewish resistance set in the forests outside Krakow.  There was entertainment rumblings from Tarantino that after the Kill Bill films, he was planning a revisionist and slightly parodying version of World War 2…

Cannes Film Festival 2009

Truly original dangerous Cinema

 

Cannes Film Festival 2009 and Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino’s long awaited film featuring a band of Jewish American Nazi scalp-hunters who take revenge on the Nazi’s  in German-occupied France in the early 1940s is premiered much to every cineaste’s delight. Basterds is far more than a revenge cult film against Nazi’s, it’s a statement about Cinema being used as propaganda. The references are rife, for as in Pulp Fiction, Tarantino’s best trait is revealed, a rambling but significant knack for quirky dialogue. Except in this film, authenticity dictates –so naturally the French spoke French, the Nazi’s spoke German and the Americans spoke a range of regional accents from Brooklyn to Tennessee slang. Tarantino assembles some fantastic European stars of contemporary cinema, from Til Schwieger to Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent.

Cinema as Propaganda

Tarantino makes comparisons between Joseph Goebbels – Nazi Minister for Propoganda and the then founder of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, both as masters of cinema and naturally propaganda. More specific are the references to Leni Riefenstahl, who rose to fame in the 1930s as a significant German film-maker churning out the Nazi blueprint for propaganda – Triumph of the Will.

Truimph of the Will

Truimph of the Will

Riefenstahl, was later vilified once the war was over and went onto to become a documentary filmmaker in East Africa. There are also a sprinkling of humorous discussions about the American black athlete Jesse Owens who sparkled at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games much to Hitler’s dismay.  Watch out for a spoof on the British military featuring a contemplative Winston Churchill and a wonderful cameo by Mike Myers whose line, “we will have all the rotten eggs in one basket” is delivered with affected panache.

A French Spaghetti Western Tarantino Style

Basterds opening shots are reminiscent of the early spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone – with a scene straight out of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, except its not a dusty Mexican outback with outlaws escaping bounty hunters, it’s a pastoral scene of a French Farming countryside. This time there is no Sun-Burnt Clint Eastwood in a poncho. Enter Christoph Waltz, the urbane, elegant and lethal multi-lingual Nazi Jewish hunter. Waltz has some of the best dialogue in the film and effortlessly switches from German to French to English in order to ascertain his victims whereabouts. Yet Tarantino presents him as a man simply sent to do an unpleasant task, and one should not judge, but Waltz’s role is crucial to the films wonderful and intricate plot revolving around a cinema outside Paris and a German Film Premiere, where all plans go awry.

Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor following in the psychopathic tradition of Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men (2008) and Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight (2009). Tarantino’s find of this Austrian acting talent has Hollywood virtual blogs a buzzing.

Inglourious Basterds is long, brilliant, bloody and sophisticated with that right dose of European sensibility accurately shredded by an American’s tainted perspective on World War II and more subtly a comment on the Death of original Cinema and more about Film as a nation’s propaganda tool. If you are expecting an action-packed, traditional war film with a clear division of hero and villain, well then you are simply in the wrong movie. Tarantino tantalizes, shrills and insures that any audience seeing the Basterds will feel claustrophobic and trapped in a cinema from Hell.

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April 2018
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    Daniel Holloway
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    You can’t go home again — or can you? Amy Adams reluctantly finds herself proving the old adage wrong in the first trailer for HBO’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects,” which was released ahead of the premiere of “Westworld” season 2. “Ma says she saw a ghost once,” a voice narrates, likely Adams’ character’s […]
    Erin Nyren