Posts Tagged ‘Domhnall Gleeson’

The Medellin Shuffle

American Made

Director: Doug Liman

Cast: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Caleb Landry Jones, Jesse Plemons, Jayma Marks, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez

Fair Game, Edge of Tomorrow and Mr & Mrs Smith director Doug Liman reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow blockbuster star Tom Cruise (Top Gun, A Few Good Men, The Last Samurai) in American Made giving Oscar nominee Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire, Magnolia) an opportunity to act out of his franchise restricted roles in Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher movies.

Cruise’s boyish charm and cheeky bravado is put on full display in American Made when he plays TWA pilot Barry Seal who after initially smuggling banned Cuban cigars into the US, gets recruited by a brash CIA agent Monty Schafer played by Domhnall Gleeson who asks him to run reconnaissance missions in Central America mainly in Nicaragua, Honduras and then further down to drug riddled Colombia.

Soon Barry gets caught up with the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia working for a gang of swarthy and ruthless Latino’s including Pablo Escobar and is flying drug running missions from Medellin back to America.

In the meantime, because of the associated risks involved, Barry hastily moves his wife Lucy played by Sarah Wright and children from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Mena, Arkansas.

In the quiet town of Mena, Arkansas with funding from both the CIA who want Barry to spy on the drug cartels and with exorbitant amounts of cash the Medellin cartel are paying him, the town starts booming financially until things go horribly wrong specifically when Lucy’s redneck brother JB wonderfully played by Caleb Landry Jones gets arrested by Sheriff Downing played by Jesse Plemons (Black Mass).

Mozart in the Jungle star Lola Kirke (Mistress America, Gone Girl) has a brief appearance as the suspicious Sheriff’s wife Judy Downing.

The unmanageability of Barry’s life rapidly begins to spiral out of control when he is accosted by drug enforcement agencies as well as trying to appease the brutal Medellin control in between being caught up in all sorts of international Reagan era political intrigue involving American backed rebels fighting the Communist Sandinista’s in Nicaragua. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua

Tom Cruise gives one of his best onscreen performance in a convoluted film sufficiently directed by Doug Liman while the script does not give sufficient screen time to the supporting actors of whom Caleb Landry Jones (Contraband) stands out as the reckless brother-in-law who inadvertently draws attention to the Mena Medellin drug run shuffle. The best line in the film is “I am the Gringo that delivers stuff”.

If audiences enjoyed films like Kill the Messenger, then American Made is similar viewing held together by Cruise’s flying bravado which first captivated audiences in the hit film Top Gun.

American Made gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 while the flashback structure of the narrative is cleverly crafted in a palatable cinematic style, so that the film’s ending is shocking but not unexpected. Recommended viewing.

Additional Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medell%C3%ADn_Cartel

 

The Wild Ones

The Revenant

revenant_ver2

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Lukas Haas, Paul Anderson

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Revenant means a person who has returned supposedly from the dead.

According Oscar winning Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant has a far deeper mythical connotation. After the success of Birdman, Inarritu follows up that whimsical taste of Broadway with a gruelling historical epic, The Revenant casting two of the best leading actors in contemporary cinema: Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hardy.

The Revenant is a harsh masculine film, set in the American wilderness in 1823, the early years of settler exploration along the Missouri river near the Canadian border. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant takes on a slightly Terence Malick feel in the first hour, but then the audience is thrust into a bitter tale of survival about a group of men who are not only attacked by roaming Pawnee Indians but by the neighbouring French.

DiCaprio plays a bearded and mostly silent yet skillful tracker Hugh Glass in one of his best performances for years. DiCaprio’s role is so grueling and utterly physical that is completely opposite to anything done by the actor before which makes it all the more engrossing to watch. His previous roles in The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street focused on characters that were debauched and surrounded by lavish wealth and power.

In The Revenant, this is DiCaprio laid bare both physically and psychologically as he battles the most hostile terrain in the icy parts of North America. In probably the best scene of the film, Glass is viciously attacked by a grizzly bear and severely injured, the filming of this scene deserves an Oscar in itself. Glass is left for dead by the half-scalped hunter and dangerous John Fitzgerald, in a career best performance by Tom Hardy who manages to permeate all his scenes with the same chilling sense of menace as he did, playing Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and most recently as both the Kray twins in Legend.

The tension between the two men is palpable although Hardy is the one with the most lines, while Di Caprio expresses his pain with his eyes and body, an entirely physical ordeal, a gut-wrenching soul destroying battle for survival. The environment too has own character as these two men not only battle each other but also have to survive in a semi-explored icy landscape, where settlers and native American Indians are bartering and killing each other in a continuous bloodthirsty war over land, occupation and women.

Ethnographically, The Revenant is an important film, a vivid tale about the early American settlers who encounter the other, or the savages as the French call them. A primal battle which Inarritu elevates to myth, beautifully capturing the essence of the unforgiving yet stunning landscape, while emphasizes the terrain’s nefarious creatures and events, from vicious bears to avalanches.

At two and a half hours long The Revenant is not easy viewing and, the viewer does get a sense that the second act drags a little, yet the performances are so captivating and the sound editing so brilliant, that any minor criticisms can be forgiven. Warning: this is not an easy film to watch.

The Revenant is violent, gory and at times just plain cruel, but also sets the standard high for revenge themed adventure tales. Hardy and DiCaprio are both utterly terrific. The Revenant is a highly recommended and critically acclaimed film sure to attract a cult following.

Cinematically, The Revenant is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Reconciling the Myth

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver3

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyongo’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels

Thematically set 30 years after The Return of the Jedi, director J. J. Abrams reconciles the myth of the original and iconic Star Wars Trilogy when he takes over as conceptualizer of the new Star Wars trilogy, given a touch task of remaining faithful to the original trilogy while introducing millennials to the original Star Wars iconography.

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver6

In a genius casting move, Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings all the original cast members back from the first trilogy including Harrison Ford as Han Solo, the rarely seen Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and the illusive Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker along with all the lovable companion characters including Chewbacca, and of course the droids C3PO and R2D2, which made up the original Star Wars. Even the Millennium Falcon is revived, which is enough to satisfy the original fans. Believe me, there are a lot of fans out there!

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver8

The new cast includes Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, a former Stormtrooper turned Rebel. The Empire so prominent in the original series has been replaced by a more sinister totalitarian regime called The First Order which includes the evil General Hux, played by Domnhall Gleeson (Brooklyn) and the conflicted Kylo Ren brilliantly played by Adam Driver. Oscar Isaac (Drive) stars as Poe Dameron an expert Rebel X-Wing fighter pilot who has hidden a hologram into his droid BB8 about the whereabouts of the mythical Luke Skywalker, the last remaining Jedi Knight.

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver17

As the continuous action moves from outer space to distant planets, the first of which Jukka resembles Tattoine, the desert planet in the original Star Wars, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is visually captivating, with a vast and imaginative array of droids, monsters, bounty hunters and sinister forces all beautifully orchestrated to give what audiences came to see: An adventure story set in a Galaxy Far Far Away to the memorable music by John Williams.

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver9

Oscar winner Lupita Nyongo’o (12 years a Slave) plays Maz Kanata an E.T. like creature sympathetic to the Rebel cause. The chemistry between the diverse cast is amazing and adds to the magic of The Force Awakens, most notably the newcomers Daisy Ridley as a scavenger Rey, whose own propensities for becoming a Jedi open all sorts of questions and British actor John Boyega as Finn who immediately establishes a rapport with the infamous Han Solo as well as Poe Dameron whom he rescues from a gigantic looking Death Star.

Star Wars 1977

The production design and visual effects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens are spectacular and Oscar worthy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is definitely for the fans of the original trilogy, the films directed by George Lucas which captured the imagination of a generation of boys and girls back in the late seventies and early eighties.

star_warsIf it’s any indication, I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back while on holiday in Atlanta, Georgia in America back in 1980 when it first premiered and The Return of the Jedi in 1983 in the old Embassy cinemas in central Durban.

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver10

Judging by the packed cinema and the international media hype surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens will do exceptionally well at the Box Office and this new version is recommended to fans of pure science fiction and to all those who grew up on the original series. It’s comforting to know that American director J.J. Abrams who reignited the Star Trek franchise, now in partnership with Lucas Films and parent company Disney, plans on making two more Star Wars films to complete this new re-energized trilogy and introduce Millennials to a whole new universe of Star Wars characters.

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver4

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is highly recommended viewing, brilliantly orchestrated by reconciling and paying tribute to the original mythical trilogy while seamlessly blending in an entire new batch of characters. May the Force be with us at least until 2019.

Navigating the New World

Brooklyn

brooklyn_ver2

Director: John Crawley

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Domhnall Gleeson, Emily Bett Rickards, Jessica Pare, Maeve McGrath, Eileen O’Higgins

After her sparkling debut as the precocious and misguided Briony Tallis in director Joe Wright’s handsome film Atonement, Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan has made a string of less memorable films including Hanna and The Host until appearing as the radiant lead in this 1950’s love story Brooklyn, where she dazzles as the Irish immigrant Eilis fresh on arrival in New York City.

Director John Crawley’s adaptation of the novel by Irish author Colm Toibin Brooklyn is a soft-focused, brilliantly acting and utterly charming love story. Ronan is superb as Eilis who arrives in the Big Apple and stays at a ladies boarding house run by the ever glamourous Mrs Kehoe wonderfully played by Julie Walters (Billy Elliott).

brooklyn

Soon the sensible Eilis befriends the other guests and while working at an American department store is guided by the fashionable manageress Miss Fortini played by French Canadian actress Jessica Pare who brought added style to the final two seasons of Mad Men.

At an Irish club Friday night social, Eilis meets the charming and dimple-faced Tony, an Italian immigrant, played by Emory Cohen (The Place beyond the Pines). Their initial courtship is cut short when Eilis has to unexpectedly return to Ireland for a family emergency. Back in the Green Isle, she is wooed by the handsome and eligible bachelor Jim Farrell played by Domhnall Gleeson (Anna Karenina, About Time, and Shadow Dancer) in the weeks leading up to her school friend Nancy’s wedding.

Director John Crawley and acclaimed screenwriter Nick Hornby (About a Boy, An Education) do an excellent rendition of making a good old fashioned love story in the manner of Mona Lisa Smile, Circle of Friends and is ably assisted by Saoirse Ronan superbly acting in the lead role, as her character Eilis navigates all the nuances and difficulties of life in the New World.

Audiences should look out for Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris) as the benevolent father Flood as well as Emily Bett Rickards as the cheeky companion Patty last seen on the hit TV show Arrow.

Brooklyn with its gorgeous production design, immaculate 1950’s costumes is reminiscent of a less complicated old fashioned love stories and will definitely find an appreciative audience, judging by how packed the cinema was on a Sunday afternoon. Recommended viewing for those that cherished films such as Circle of Friends, Mona Lisa Smile and more recently The Immigrant starring Marion Cotillard.

 

Bluff City, Kansas

Frank

frank_ver2

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson. Scoot McNairy, Francois Civil, Tess Harper

Director Lenny Abrahamson’s quirky film Frank which premiered at the Durban International Film Festival examines the pressures of belonging to a rock band and the celebrity status attached to its lead singer. The fact that this lead singer Frank wears a giant false head for three quarters of the film is both alienating and annoying and serves its point about the underlying pressures of mounting celebrity facing a bands lead singer or frontman. Take Adam Levine of Maroon 5 or Harry Styles from One Direction for example. Except with these bands unlike Frank’s bands obscure name, at least the music is palatable, not to mention commercially viable.

Frank as a film was so bizarre and utterly random as the narrative follows Jon played by Domhnall Gleeson (Anna Karenina, Dredd, True Grit), son of Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, an aspiring songwriter who becomes the keyboardist and journeys with the band from a remote Irish location to the hippie South by South West music concert in Austin Texas. The band members are all clearly deranged and part of some grand lunatic fringe reinforced by the irrepressible Clara, wonderfully played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (Hysteria) and by the lead singer Frank played by Fassbender, which clearly begs the question what was he thinking after being attached to such prestigious films as 12 Years a Slave, Shame and Jane Eyre.

Although parts of the film are hilarious and very funny, other parts are equally irritating and stupid which just goes to show how Youtube got such a massive following so quickly. Post any ridiculous video online as a social media experiment and there will always be a plethora of bored American teenagers waiting to watch it on Youtube. Then maybe that is the point of this film.

Only towards the films end are explanations given as to why the lead singer is wearing this massive false head as seen in the poster after Jon tracks him down to his parent’s home in Bluff City, Kansas and Frank’s mother played by indie star Tess Harper explains the singers childhood trauma which lead to some deviant form of mental obsession.

this_must_be_the_place_ver4

Frank is well executed as a film about band members on the road, but too bizarre to be taken seriously and lacks the visual punch of Paolo Sorrento’s spectacularly weird road trip film This Must Be the Place. Viewers will differ in opinion regarding Frank, as there was much laughter coming from the cinema auditorium at a DIFF http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/ screening.

Director Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank will have a very limited appeal, not helped by the onscreen presence (or lack there of) of Gyllenhaal and Fassbender, whose chemistry together is pointlessly obliterated and nullified by a giant false head. Frank will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, but will have comic appeal for those that appreciate deadpan humour and the effortless blending of banal social media.

 

Revenge is a Snake Pit

True Grit

true_grit_ver7

Joel and Ethan’s Coen rendition of True Grit is a classic Western with the cowboys unshaven, filled with whiskey swigging gun-slinging characters who all appeared to have been beaten by the harsh environment of Arkansas in the 1870s frontier towns.

True Grit is a revenge tale with pitfalls both figurative and literal and as the old Chinese saying goes, when seeking revenge, it’s always best to dig two graves. At the centre of this Western, is Mattee Ross a determined 14 year old girl who is beset on avenging the death of her father.

Hailee Steinfeld delivers a superb performance, rightfully getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Ross hires Rooster Cogburn, an unsavory US Marshal who drinks too much whiskey and is not very fond of personal hygiene. Cogburn in his rough and scraggly demeanor is brilliantly portrayed by Jeff Bridges. A third character who makes up the unlikely trio of adventurers is La Boeuf, a dandified Texas Ranger, played with panache and egotism by Matt Damon, who quite frankly looks like a fellow who takes pride in his appearance.
This darkly comic journey reminiscent of the Coen brothers earlier film Oh Brother Where Art Thou? is more richly textured with symbolism and myth, complimented by beautiful cinematography by Roger Deakins. With the occasional spats of violence which as always in Coen Brothers films are swift, untimely and always shocking are tapered down in comparison to their Oscar winning masterpiece No Country for Old Men, which was drenched in the suspense of inevitable violence and pervading menace.

A Gritty Game of Rancher and Outlaw

As Westerns goes, this is not 3:10 to Yuma, James Mangold 2007 action packed gun tottering film featuring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as the cattle rancher and captured outlaw, but True Grit is closer to a period piece, shot in sepia colours complimented with stark black costumes and musing more on the legends of the Old West as opposed to the violence that characterized the era.

True Grit is more a homage to the film genre, a respectful and beautifully directed representation of a mythical error of the Wild Frontier, where the only real law of the land was each individual’s right to seek revenge where injustice had occurred, whatever the consequences. Nominated for 10 Oscars, unfortunately True Grit was beaten at the Academy Awards by the more technically brilliant film, Inception and the popular David Fincher film, The Social Network. In the acting stakes, Hailee Steinfeld is definitely a rising star, since receiving an Oscar nomination at age 15, a testament to her talent. Of all the Oscars True Grit should have won, it should have been for cinematography which was flawless.

Besides the accolades not heaped on the latest Coen Brothers film by this past Awards season, True Grit is nevertheless a terrific film about revenge, mortality and the myth of the Wild West. Watch out for a great cameo by Barry Pepper, all disheveled and wearing sheepskin chaps as the outlaw leader Lucky Ned Pepper.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
  • VidAngel Declares Bankruptcy To Put Copyright Fight on Hold
    VidAngel, the Utah-based streaming service that filters out offensive content, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday. The filing is designed to put its copyright battle with three major studios on hold, as it seeks to expand its new filtering service. “We have millions in the bank, and we’re already making millions on the new system,” […]
    gmaddaus
  • Chelsea Handler’s Netflix Talk Show Cancelled After Two Seasons
    Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show “Chelsea” has been cancelled after two seasons. Handler tweeted the news on Wednesday. In a statement posted online, she wrote, “Like so many across the country, the past presidential election and the countless events that have unfolded since have galvanized me. From the national level down to the grassroots, it’s […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • Mindy Kaling to Produce Two Comedies in Development at NBC From ‘Mindy Project’ Team (EXCLUSIVE)
    Mindy Kaling has signed on to executive produce two comedy projects in development at NBC that hail from the creative team behind “The Mindy Project,” Variety has learned exclusively. The first is a currently untitled series from Lang Fisher, who is a co-executive producer, writer, and director on “The Mindy Project.” The series would follow the dedicated diplomats […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, More: Get to Know CMT’s Artists of the Year
    For the network’s annual Artists of the Year telecast, taking place tonight (Oct. 18) in Nashville, CMT has elected not to hand out any actual trophies on stage, in deference to the hurricanes, fires, and mass shootings that have taken a toll on the national mood and cast the distribution of celebrity honors in a […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • Frank Ocean Defeats His Father’s ‘Super Sad’ Libel Case
    Frank Ocean has defeated the $14.5 million libel suit that his father, Calvin Cooksey, filed against him earlier this year, according to Law360. A California federal judge ruled that Cooksey had not proved that Ocean defamed him with a 2016 Tumblr post, in which he recalled a childhood incident in which his father called a transgender waitress an […]
    Jem Aswad