Posts Tagged ‘Dominic Cooper’

Bella Donna

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Director: Ol Parker

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, Cher, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Jessica Keenan Wynn

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel screenwriter Ol Parker does behind the camera as director for the much anticipated sequel / prequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again featuring the original cast from Mamma Mia! (2008) including some fabulous additions such as pop diva Cher and Cinderella’s Lily James as the young Donna.

Shot mostly on location in Croatia, doubling for the Greek Isles, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is strictly for ABBA fans and those who loved the original 2008 film.

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again whose highlights included Cher’s superb rendition of the song Fernando sung to her long lost love and some crisply orchestrated numbers featuring Lily James and a plethora of gorgeous young men played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively, who all represent the younger versions of Sophie’s three Dads played in the original film by Pierce Brosnan, Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Stellan Skarsgard.

While the storyline is as haphazard as a lost yacht in the Mediterranean, the singing and the music for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is what audiences should come and see this musical comedy for.

With a bigger cast and some daring lines uttered by the wine swigging Tanya played by Christine Baranski (The Bird Cage) including “Be Still my Beating Vagina”, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a sparkling musical comedy with the pure aim of reviving all those toe-tapping ABBA songs.

There is sufficient Man Candy both young and old to satisfy a diverse range of female audiences and in the immortal words of BBC Talk Show Host Graham Norton on interviewing pop diva Cher – “This is one of the gayest films being released in 2018!”

Leave your worries at the door and enjoy Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again which gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10, held together by two sensational performances by Lily James and Cher.

Saving Azeroth

Warcraft

warcraft_ver5

Director: Duncan Jones

Cast: Travis Fimmel, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Toby Kebbell, Daniel Wu, Ben Schnetzer, Glenn Close, Anna Galvin, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Ruth Negga

Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones who incidentally is the son of the late pop icon David Bowie takes on a big budget action fantasy in the highly anticipated Warcraft featuring some dazzling motion capture technology which even gives Dawn of the Planet of the Apes credible competition.

warcraft_ver4

Featuring an all-star cast including the roguishly handsome Travis Fimmel of Vikings TV fame as Anduin Lothar, warrior of the fictional world of Azeroth who has to contend with the orc’s arriving en masse from their dying world of Draenor through a visually spectacular portal which causes worlds to collide.

warcraft_ver10

On the orcs side, Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Plant of the Apes), plays Durotan who soon realizes that the orcs mission is doomed to fail and Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) plays Garona a conflicted and gorgeous looking half orc, half human who becomes a prisoner of the Azeroth warriors.

warcraft_ver18

On the human side, there is the dashing Dominic Cooper (The Duchess, Devil’s Double) as King Llane Wrynn and the brilliant Ben Foster (Kill Your Darlings, The Finest Hours) as the mercurial magical protector Medivh who are all tasked with protecting Stormwind Keep from the invading Orcs and their malevolent leader.

warcraft_ver17

Ben Schnetzer (The Riot Club, The Book Thief) pops up as a gifted young wizard named Khadgar who assists in protecting Stormwind Keep while discovering the significant source of the Orc invasion in Azeroth. Audiences should also watch out for a brief uncredited appearance by Glenn Close.

Based upon a series of extremely popular real time strategy computer games created by Blizzard entertainment, Warcraft is a superbly produced, visually spectacular fantasy film catering to a wide audience including those that are not even familiar with the apparently addictive and highly entertaining PC games which opened up entire realms of imagination.

warcraft_ver14

As the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor collide, there are epic battle scenes, visually impressive fight sequences and a twist in this fantasy drama which is enough to even cater for hard core Game of Thrones fans. Warcraft is surprisingly brilliant, a superbly directed epic fantasy which is sure to attract a loyal fan base especially if there are sequels in the pipeline.

Highly recommended viewing for those that relish the world of fantasy and the eternal battle between good and evil in whatever form it takes, both beautiful and hideous.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warcraft

 

A Noble Vagabond

The Lady in the Van

lady_in_the_van_ver2

Director: Nicholas Hytner

Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam, Frances de la Tour, Jim Broadbent, Claire Foy, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Stephen Campbell Moore

The Madness of King George director Nicolas Hytner brings to the screen the hilarious and bizarre autobiographical stage play by Alan Bennett, The Lady in The Van about an itinerant and basically transient lady who wilfully parks her colourful van outside Bennett’s smart Victorian townhouse in Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town, North London in the beginning of the 1970’s and then stays for fifteen years.

The Lady in question is Margaret Shepherd, wonderfully played against type by Oscar winner Dame Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, California Suite) who is already garnering critical acclaim for her role. Dame Maggie Smith has more recently been reintroduced to a whole new generation of fans with her portrayal of Violet Crawley, The Dowager Countess of Grantham in the hit BBC TV series by Julian Fellowes Downton Abbey.

In The Lady in the Van, which is semi-autobiographical, the cantankerous and destitute old lady who seems to live her whole life in a van forms an unimaginable bond with famed British playwright, Alan Bennett who incidentally also wrote the screenplay for this film and the Oscar nominated Madness of King George.

lady_in_the_van

In a typically English way of dealing with the semi-transient, The Lady in the Van self-reflexively explores themes of old age, homelessness and caring whilst giving the destitute a sort of vagabond nobility, whilst Bennett and the actor playing Bennett never morally judges the situation as inexcusable despite what the neighbours think.

British stage and TV actor Alex Jennings (The Queen, Wings of the Dove, Belle) plays Alan Bennett but the film belongs to Dame Maggie whose wonderfully acerbic performance elevates her dire situation as a homeless woman living in a van to that of eternal royalty. Only Dame Maggie can pull off this type of role, with a combination of poignancy, passion and dignity, making The Lady in the Van a delightful treat for all those lovers of British cinema.

All the best lines in The Lady in the Van are naturally reserved for Dame Maggie and whilst the rest of the cast merely contribute as a collage of colourful and eccentric Londoners including cameos by Dominic Cooper, Claire Foy, Stephen Campbell Moore, Frances de la Tour, Roger Allam and Oscar winner Jim Broadbent as a corrupt cop intent on extorting money from the mysterious and often rude Lady in the Van.

Whilst the directorial embellishments of Nicholas Hytner can be forgiven, it is the masterful script by Allan Bennett, which is so witty and droll, that makes The Lady in the Van such a pleasurable cinematic experience. Of course Dame Maggie Smith fires on all cylinders in this critically acclaimed performance by an actress who has given audiences so many memorable performances in such films as A Room with a View, Ladies in Lavender, Gosforth Park, Evil Under the Sun and more recently The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

The Lady in the Van is highly recommended viewing for those that love a slightly irreverent British drama, wonderfully acted and beautifully written by the man who had to endure this mysterious woman on his doorstep for almost fifteen years.

Vlad the Impaler

Dracula Untold

dracula_untold_ver2

Director: Gary Shore

Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Art Parkinson, Noah Huntley

15th Century Transylvanian Prince Vlad is forced to protect his kingdom from the onslaught of the expanding Ottoman Empire as the Turks threaten to invade his lands enslaving teenage boys for forced conscription to the Turkish army. Through many bloody battles, Prince Vlad, suitably played by Luke Evans (The Fast and the Furious 6) gets the nickname of the Impaler who impales invading armies and unfriendly villagers on gruesome stakes.

Dracula Untold starts in 1442, the height of the middle ages, with Prince Vlad and a group of men entering broken tooth mountain, whereby hidden in a dark cave an evil force looms. That force is an immortal vampire who made a pact with a demon for his eternal bloodsucking powers.

As the Turkish forces advance on Transylvania headed by Sultan Mekmet downplayed by the swarthy Dominic Cooper (The Duchess, The Devil’s Double) threatening to enslave the male population of Vlad’s precarious kingdom and also his precious son Prince Ingeras played by Art Parkinson.

Craving supernatural powers, Vlad rushes off into the evil liar and confronts his fears by sipping from the blood of this manipulative master vampire, wonderfully played by Charles Dance (last seen in HBO’s Game of Thrones) in exchange for extraordinary strength and acute nocturnal abilities.

However like all pacts with the devil there is always a catch. If after three days Vlad drinks human blood again then he will be immortalized as a vampire forever and as per his order of the Dragon, will eternally take the title of the infamous Dracula. However Vlad the Vampire in the course of three days shies away from shining silver, sunlight and wooden crosses, revealing his true form to his disconcerted legions.

With all the mythologies and movie histories surrounding Dracula and vampire, director Gary Shore refreshingly decided not to go the gory or sexually explicit route and in turn creates a tame if not entertaining historical version of Dracula in Dracula Untold, assisted by some great visual effects especially the fight sequence between Vlad and Mekmet amongst bags of glittering silver.

Canadian star Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis, Belle) plays Vlad’s voluptuous luckless wife, Mirena who unfortunately has to become the bride of Dracula…

Whilst this film is not Twilight or the elegant Neil Jordan film, Interview with a Vampire, Dracula Untold is a mild yet enjoyable middle of the road historical epic about the origins of this mythical bloodsucker giving more credibility to his alter ego as a merciless Transylvanian Prince Vlad, who was willing to sell his soul to the devil to save his mountainous kingdom.

Unlike Francis Ford Coppola’s 1990’s film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this film is a less ambitious version of the iconic bloodsucker helped by good performances by Evans and Gadon with more seasoned actors like Charles Dance and Dominic Cooper adding some credibility whilst the film focuses more on the historical origins of Dracula than any of the contemporary post-Victorian Gothic reincarnations.

Dracula Untold is recommended viewing for vampire fans and those that like their blood sucking a little light on the veins, moving the film swiftly out of violent epic mode and more into the historical fantasy genre.

Americana Road Racing

need_for_speed_ver3

Need for Speed

Director: Scott Waugh

Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Michael Keaton, Rami Malek, Dakota Johnson, Ramon Rodriguez, Harrison Gilbert

Former stunt co-ordinator turned director Scott Waugh brings the EA video game Need for Speed to the big screen in awe-inspiring 3D. Teaming up TV actor raspy voice blue eyed Aaron Paul with the sultry more accomplished British actor Dominic Cooper in this cross-country road race thriller is big on action, devoid of any significant plot, but great on visual effects. Paul and Cooper play rival road racers Tobey Marshall and Dino Brewster who after a horrific accident in upstate New York challenge each other in flashy sports cars to an exclusive cross country road race with the finale happening in fabulous California.

Down on his luck Marshall teams up with a sassy British companion Julia Maddon played by Imogen Poots as they race across America stopping in the Mecca of Motorcars, the now debt ridden Detroit before finally reaching their destination on the West Coast, San Francisco, where Marshall, a constant fugitive will race in a private sponsored event through Northern California in terrain remotely resembling Big Sur. Michael Keaton (Robocop) plays the techno sussed race coordinator Monarch and Rami Malek and Scott Mescudi team up as Marshall’s race team assistants Finn and Benny. Watching Need for Speed especially in 3-D is like driving full throttle in a Mustang on crack!

The stunts are tremendous, the storyline dire, but then again this narrative originated on a video game, which does not always guarantee a smooth transition to cinema. The chemistry between Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots is barely palatable, made worse by a winding narrative which could have been edited to at least 90 minutes.

Naturally Waugh as director pays tribute to the 1968 film Bullitt starring Steve McQueen and Jacqueline Bissett even featuring a film clip within Need for Speed – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lbs_nYW3-o . The biggest mystery besides the outlandish stunts performed in Need for Speed, is why an accomplished actor like Dominic Cooper would appear in such a popcorn film, but clearly there is a need for him to becoming better acquainted with American audiences. After Cooper’s superb turns in Lee Tamahori’s The Devil’s Double and opposite Keira Knightley in The Duchess, he perhaps needed to expand his action repertoire.

Need for Speed is clearly aimed at young male audiences and like the hugely successful The Fast and Furious franchise involves a lot of car chase sequences that no ordinary viewer should attempt on any suburban road.

FastandFurious 6

Unlike The Fast and the Furious, whose buddy-action movie formula got better as the franchise progressed from Miami to Rio to London, The Need for Speed feels like one long video game in 3D without the emotional punch of Nicholas Winding Refn’s brilliant car chase thriller Drive. Waugh’s Need for Speed is simply  great surface entertainment without much character development, but the locations and stunts will surely keep any petrol head sated for a while. Dakota Johnson soon to be seen in Fifty Shades of Grey along with Harrison Gilbert and Ramon Rodriguez round off the cast.

 

Clashing of Vanities

My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn directed by Simon Curtis is a charming film about the clashing of vanities in a more subtle and polite society following the filming of the musical comedy The Late Prince which would become 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl teaming up the great British Theatre personality Laurence Olivier and 1950’s American screen goddess Marilyn Monroe at Britain’s legendary Pinewood Studios.

Michelle Williams takes the part of Marilyn Monroe and might not be as voluptuous physically, but her brilliant performance of the doomed and fragile screen icon Monroe who was a legendary flirt and a consummate movie star is layered and superb. Kenneth Branagh is equally brilliant as the vain and pompous Laurence Olivier whose  divergence into cinema with the Prince and the Showgirl was beset with problems on the Pinewood studios set especially made more difficult by the pill-popping, temperamental and sultry Monroe.

The clash between Monroe and Olivier went far deeper than vanity or fame, it was also a conflict of their two vastly different styles of acting. Monroe was trained in the Lee Strasberg school of method acting  popular in Hollywood, California originally pioneered by Constantin Stanislavski and refers to the method of actors drawing on their own personal emotions and memories in their onscreen portrayals.  Olivier was a London Shakespearian theatre actor and was quite unused to the medium of film.

Monroe felt and acted in the moment which worked brilliantly on the short takes of cinema, whilst Olivier was trained in the more established tradition of  Classical Theatre where thespians  rehearsed and performed a repertoire of theatre from Greek tragedy to plays by Sheridan, Shakespeare, Chekov and Noel Coward and prepared for their roles by learning their lines down to the last iambic pentameter and essentially being on time and in full costume. Their vastly different styles of acting is exemplified in the original 1957 film, The Prince and the Showgirl.

My week with Marilyn is told through the eyes of a 3rd Assistant Director Colin Clark played with surprising vigour by rising British Star Eddie Redmayne who is smitten by the tantalizing Marilyn Monroe and has a wonderful supporting cast including Zoe Wanamaker as Paula Strasberg, Dominic Cooper as Hollywood agent Milton Greene along with Julia Ormond as Laurence Olivier’s wife Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott as playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn’s husband at the time of shooting Prince and the Showgirl. Watch out for a great cameo by Dame Judi Dench playing the great Shakespearean actress Dame Sybil Thorndike. Where My Week with Marilyn excels is how beautifully it illustrates how divergent British and American cultures were especially in the 1950’s and how the clashing of vanities between the screen siren Monroe and the theatrical Olivier underlined both these stars own vulnerabilities and their strengthens.

Casting of Williams and Branagh as legendary stars Monroe and Olivier was critical in making My Week with Marilyn a lovely and substantial film about the making of film itself and the insecurities and drama that goes on between a Screen siren who knew how to titillate the public especially men and an aging theatre actor desperate to make his cinematic debut.  Both Williams and Branagh deserved earned Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor but lost out to Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady and Christopher Plummer for Beginners at the 2012 84th Academy Awards.

Military Retro Americana Reigns

Captain America: The First Avenger

From Scrawny to Super Muscular

Joe Johnston’s retro superhero film, Captain America, The First Avenger is a wonderfully evocative 1940s style Americana glamorizing the American involvement in World War II and what better way to achieve this macho propaganda than through the story of Captain America, reluctantly but brilliantly played by Chris Evans who starts the film as an underweight and scrawny all American boy Steve Rogers desperate to enrol in the US Army and contribute to the European theatre of War. A German immigrant scientist, Dr Abraham Erskine played with relish by Stanley Tucci recognizes Rogers ingenuity and enlists him in a top secret research project aimed at fighting the mysterious Nazi supernatural research unit Hydra, headed by the demonic Captain Johann Schmidt, played with sinister pleasure by Hugo Weaving.

************************************************************************************************************************

Evans character Rogers through a specially injected serum is transformed into the brawny and muscular Captain America, a super soldier who initially is used as a ridiculous propaganda figure by the US military driving up conscription and bolstering the armies psyche in their fight against the Nazi’s in a glorious cinematic pastiche of Americana complete with showgirls and wartime publicity.

As this is a comic book caper and very far from the actual reality of war, Captain America with the aid of a motley crew of trusted soldiers, an elegant British attache Peggy Carter played by Hayley Atwell of Brideshead Revisited fame and empowered with an arsenal of weapons, military transportation and the like by Howard Stark, Ironman’s father, played by the dashing Dominic Cooper from Mamma Mia, Captain America takes on the crazed Captain Schmidt whose powers derive from some Nordic mythological cube, capable of utter destruction.

Only the Brave and the Strong

Captain America is thrilling, glamorous and a great adventure film with tribute being payed to the Indiana Jones franchise whilst keeping in line with similar styled 1940s themed films from Casablanca to Bugsy. Watch out for a fantastic chase sequence in Brooklyn, a twist at the end and definitely a promise of a sequel. The supporting cast are terrific from Tommy Lee Jones as the no nonsense Colonel Phillips to Hugo Weaving bolstering up Chris Evan’s performance as the ultimate American superhero.

 

 

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
October 2018
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
  • Richard Parsons Steps Down as CBS Chairman; Strauss Zelnick to Take Role
    Media entrepreneur Strauss Zelnick replaced Richard Parsons as the chairman of the CBS Corp. board of directors Sunday, an unexpected switch as the venerable media company seeks to remake itself after the controversial ouster of former CEO Leslie Moonves. Parsons cited health reasons for his decision to step down. “As some of you know, when […]
    Brian Steinberg
  • Album Review: Lil Yachty’s ‘Nuthin’ 2 Prove’
    You could say Lil Yachty is keeping expectations low on his latest album. After all, he did name his third studio effort “Nuthin’ 2 Prove.” The Atlanta rapper’s strength has never been in lyrical abilities; rather, he’s won fans for his playful demeanor and the infectiously upbeat subgenre he’s dubbed “bubblegum trap.” Lighthearted and full […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • The Road to Gender Parity, Italian Style
    Key representatives of Italian media joined with their American counterparts in Rome Sunday morning to usher a call for greater inclusion in the local entertainment industry. During a panel on the final day of MIA hosted by Women in Film, TV & Media Italia, the group presented the tools of ReFrame, the American organization promoting […]
    John Hopewell
  • London Film Review: ‘Stan & Ollie’
    Stan Laurel, the slimmer British half of Hollywood double act Laurel and Hardy, was not one to wax lyrical about the art or mystique of comedy: “You have to learn what people will laugh at, then proceed accordingly,” he said, making vaudeville performance sound altogether as methodical and prosaic as shopping for groceries. No matter […]
    guylodge
  • Mexican Revolution: Alejandra Marquez Abella
    Six of the ten titles in Morelia’s 2018 Mexican feature competition are directed by women, likewise two of Mexican filmmakers’ five movies at Toronto.  In Mexico, as Chile or Catalonia, women are finally coming to the fore as directors and screenwriters, and making movies and TV series which position their female characters in a very […]
    John Hopewell
  • Article
    Over the past few years, several low-cost carriers have stepped up to offer competition and cheapest prices to customers looking to cut down their monthly bills. Tags: 2gmhass90