Posts Tagged ‘Elle Fanning’

2017 Cannes Film Festival

2017 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS

Winners of the five main prizes at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival were as follows: –

(No film poster available for The Square)

Palm d’Or:The Square directed by Ruben Ostlund

Best Director:  Sofia CoppolaThe Beguiled starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning

(No film poster available for You Were Never Really Here)

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here

Best Actress:  Diane Kruger –  In the Fade

Best Screenplay:  prize shared between  Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for The Killing of a Sacred Deer

(The Killing of a Sacred Deer stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell)

Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here

(You Were Never Really Here also stars Alessandro Nivola, John Doman and Ekaterina Samsonov)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Cannes_Film_Festival

California Dreaming

20th Century Women

Director: Mike Mills

Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann, Alison Elliott

Beginners director Mike Mills dramatic comedy 20th Century Women featuring a brilliant performance by Oscar nominated star Annette Bening as a single mother Dorothea Fields in Santa Barbara in 1979 struggling to raise a teenage son who does not have a paternal influence in his life comes off as long winded and self-indulgent.

The biggest problem with 20th Century Women is that while Mills effectively catches the zeitgeist of the late 1970’s as the decade is edging into the 1980’s and the sexual freedom of the seventies is being replaced by the punk rock hard core attitude of such bands as The Sex Pistols, the film itself does not sustain in terms of script for two hours especially with only five characters and less than clever dialogue.

What does come through clearly in 20th Century Women is that Jamie played Lucas Jade Zumann is being influenced by too many varying female perspectives which naturally causes friction among Bening’s character and her zany young lodger Abigail Porter played by Greta Gerwig who is recovering from ovarian cancer. Then there is Hollywood it girl Elle Fanning (Live By Night, Malificent) as the sexually promiscuous and outspoken teenager Julie who befriends Jamie yet does not offer any of the promised sexual pleasures which she so often hints at. This leaves him as a young teenage boy frustrated and confused.

Alison Elliott has a brief appearance as Julie’s mother. Elliott is best known for her roles in Birth and as the dying heiress in the stunning film The Wings of a Dove.

Whilst he tries to understand Feminism including reading The Politics of Orgasm and is introduced to drugs, alcohol and the legendary Californian free-spirited living, what he really desires is a strong maternal bond with his mother, who emotionally cannot deal with her teenage son.

Instead of being a mother to Jamie, the unconventional working mother Dorothea gives him free rein and he in turns sees her as lonely chain-smoking single mother who grew up in the Great Depression.

Despite superb performances by Bening and Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women is a feminist film from a man’s perspective that of the director Mike Mills and does not delve into the emotional crux of motherhood too deeply.

If audiences expect an eventful trajectory of a dysfunctional family drama, 20th Century Women does not deliver mainly due to a lacklustre script and a story line which essentially doesn’t really go anywhere significant beyond catching the mood of a decade which is about to close while the world is rapidly transforming into the consumerist 1980’s where the sexual liberties of the 1970’s are severely curtailed by the AIDS pandemic.

If a film is going to only have five characters in the story, the script better be absolutely superb and whilst 20th Century Women has its definable moments nothing stands out as particularly brilliant in the tradition of the recent film by Kenneth Lonergan, the Oscar winning Manchester by the Sea or even the riveting Stephen Frear’s French period drama Dangerous Liaisons which quite frankly is in a league of its own.

20th Century Women gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and one hopes that the extraordinarily talented Annette Bening can once again achieve onscreen recognition as she once did in her career defining performances in such Oscar nominated roles in Being Julia, American Beauty and The Grifters.

A Fallen World

Live By Night

Director: Ben Affleck

Cast: Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller, Chris Messina, Chris Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Remo Girone, Titus Welliver, Max Casella, Clark Gregg, Anthony Michael Hall

Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo, Good Will Hunting) approaches another passion project with the cinematic adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s riveting gangster novel Live By Night about the rise of Irish mobster Joe Coughlin.

Set in Prohibition era America in the mid 1920’s, Live By Night features Affleck as the main character as well as him adapting the screenplay and directing the film version. To his credit, Affleck assembles a fine cast including an unrecognizable Sienna Miller as the gangster’s moll with a strong Irish accent, Emma Gould who Coughlin first meets in Boston.

Also in the cast are Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) as Coughlin’s father Thomas who happens to be Boston police chief, Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation) as Tampa police chief Figgis, Elle Fanning (Trumbo, Maleficent) in a stand out role as a recovering heroin addict Loretta Figgis and Zoe Saldana as Cuban beauty Graciela whom Coughlin eventually falls in love with after he moves to Tampa, Florida after fleeing Boston.

If viewers have not read Lehane’s book they might find the film version of Live By Night drawn out with a screenplay which delivers but doesn’t elevate the film to such genre classics as The Untouchables, Casino or even Goodfella’s.

Whilst the gorgeous period production design of Live By Night can be applauded as well as some stunning sequences in Florida, where after the initial gloom of Boston, the film definitely brightens to show a much more diverse and fascinating world in the deep South, the overall effect of Live By Night is laboured but not exhilarating.

Personally I loved the film, but I had read the novel so knew ahead what was install.

Ben Affleck’s ambitious plans to write, direct and star in a big screen adaptation of the novel might fall short, although his effort in doing so is admirable. What does elevate Live By Night are the superb supporting cast including Sienna Miller who after Burnt and Foxcatcher has an ability to disappear into any screen role and certainly is one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood. Fanning as a bible preaching morally conflicted young woman comes across as sacrificial, yet her performance is brilliant despite the minimal screen time.

The best scenes in the film are between Affleck and Chris Messina who is wonderful as Coughlin’s best friend and crime partner, the wise cracking Dion Bartolo, a role which he played against type. It is refreshing to watch Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) play in a period film as the gorgeous Cuban business woman Graciela although her role in the film is not as detailed as it is in the novel.

What Affleck does successfully is portraying America as a Fallen World, where as prohibition ends, there is nothing left except repression, bigotry and violence. Live By Night is a gritty, stylish and violent gangster film similar to Gangster Squad but not as brilliant as Bugsy or Public Enemies.

Audiences should only see Live By Night if they are ardent fans of gangster films, a genre which is difficult to get right at the best of times. Despite Affleck’s talent as a director, he is no Martin Scorsese or Brian de Palma. Although his evocative visual efforts should be commended.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Gangster Squad.

 

Demonizing Dalton

Trumbo

trumbo_ver2

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Louis C. K. Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Stephen Root, Roger Bart, Dean O’ Gorman, Alan Tudyk, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Director Jay Roach really gives audiences an opportunity to witness Bryan Cranston’s acting talents first hand as Cranston plays the Oscar nominated role of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in California in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950’s.

With the rise of McCarthyism in the early 1950’s and the vindictive Committee on Un-American Activities whose sole aim was to root out the perceived communist threat within Hollywood and many other facets of American society, the anti-communist witch hunt become notorious for ruining reputations and lives of artists, actors, directors and screenwriters. Even the famous playwright Arthur Miller was perceived as a threat and his persecution was illustrated in his classic play The Crucible.

trumbo

Dalton Trumbo, wonderfully played by Cranston, is an unconventional yet brilliant screenwriter who becomes one of the Hollywood Ten perceived by the Committee as harbouring Communist sympathies. Trumbo was, as his friend Arlen Hird played by Louis C. K. said, a Socialist with Champagne tastes. His flamboyant cigarette smoking, his unusual method of writing screenplays in the bath, his reliance on Benzedrine were all traits of a fierce creative genius who was ripe for prosecution.

Michael Stuhlbarg also gives an impressive performance as Edward G. Robinson who will do anything to maintain his lavish lifestyle.

In one of the great artistic injustices, Trumbo is found in contempt of the Supreme Court and sentenced to a Kentucky penitentiary for close to 18 months. Upon Trumbo’s release he is faced with the prospect of supporting his wife Cleo played by Diane Lane (Unfaithful) and three growing children, one of which is his feisty daughter Nicola superbly played by Elle Fanning (Maleficent).

Trumbo approaches a B-Grade studio, King pictures and soon does rewrites under a pseudonym under the guidance of the studio boss, Frank King boisterously played by John Goodman (The Gambler, Barton Fink). Helen Mirren (Woman in Gold, The Queen) pops up looking suitably glamorous as the Hollywood actress turned gossip columnist Hedda Hopper who ambivalently supports the Communist witch hunt and soon suspects that Trumbo is indeed writing Oscar winning screenplays under another screen writer’s name.

roman_holiday

The Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck romance Roman Holiday was credited to Ian McLellan Hunter, played by Alan Tudyk in Trumbo, but was actually written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. Roman Holiday won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and went to McLellan Hunter acting as Trumbo’s front.

In steps Kirk Douglas played by Dean O’ Gorman who secretly approaches Trumbo to write a screenplay about a man taking on the world. That film was to become the blockbuster Spartacus.

spartacus_ver2

Besides the cinematic historical value of Trumbo, the injustices he suffered both personally and artistically, what carries Jay Roach’s film, is Bryan Cranston (Argo) who never falters in his brilliant portrayal of the legendary Dalton Trumbo.

Trumbo is a brilliant film, perhaps slightly uneven at times, but a fascinating portrayal of one man’s quest to get his name cleared and eventually receive the recognition from Hollywood that he deserves, especially for his talented contribution to film.

Trumbo is highly recommended viewing especially for cineastes and film historians, a brilliant portrayal of Hollywood in the 1950’s and the persecution of intellectuals by the American government of the time, whose paranoia concerning the cold war with Russia reached unreasonable proportions.

 

Never Clip a Fairy…

Maleficent

maleficent_ver3

Director: Robert Stromberg

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Kenneth Cranham, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Leslie Manville

The classic Disney tale of Sleeping Beauty is gorgeously reinvented entirely from the perspective of the jilted fairy Malificent who after a brief romance with a young teenage boy, Stefan soon discovers humanity’s tendency for greed and ambition.

maleficent_ver13
Oscar winner Angelina Jolie’s magnetic screen presence reverberates throughout this spectacular fantasy as she transforms from an innocent though powerful fairy to an evil, caustic fairy who avenges the older Stefan, played by District 9’s Sharlto Copley, who in his ambition to become King of the Human Realms, clips Malificent’s powerful wings while she is sleeping.

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Malificent in turn seeks revenge on the nearby kingdom with a spectacular entrance at the christening of Stefan’s only baby daughter, the cute and adorable Aurora, casting a spell on the child that by the time she turns 16 she will have pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a treacherous sleep, only to be broken by the kiss of her true love. Naturally Stefan bundles the child off to a safe haven in the countryside with the help of three hapless fairy guardians, played by Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Leslie Manville away from Malificent and any lethal needles from nearby spinning wheels, most of which have been tossed into a dungeon and burned.

maleficent_ver9

Meanwhile the war between the fairies and humans intensifies as Stefan sends his burly soldiers to destroy Malificent’s magical realm only to be met by an impenetrable wall of thorns. Curiosity gets the better of the teenage Aurora, a luminous performance by the new Hollywood It girl Elle Fanning (Somewhere, Super 8, Ginger and Rosa) who ventures into Malificent’s domain and naturally meets the menacing if not curious evil fairy who soon harbours an unnatural affection for the cursed youth.

Malificent is ably assisted by Diaval, a changeling creature, played by Sam Riley which enables her to keep an eye on Stefan’s Kingdom.
The stage is set for a showdown between Malificent and King Stefan with the wandering Aurora a luscious pawn in their bitter fight representative of eternal unrequited love.

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What makes this cinematic retelling of Sleeping Beauty truly astounding is the spell bounding special effects and an astounding powerful performance by the dazzling Angelina Jolie, whose star power clearly is the main reason Disney Studios choose to reinvent a darker more accessible version of the original animated Sleeping Beauty classic.

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Malificent is dazzling, intriguing and while retaining its childhood charm, balances a subtle attraction for older audiences, who prefer their fairies darker and vengeanceful. Angelina Jolie is central to this fine balancing act and the scenes between her and Fanning as Aurora are especially infused with delicacy and dimension, making Malificent one of the more complex and sympathetic hero/villain characters ever created in the pantheon of modern day fairy and folklore tales.

*
Malificent is highly recommended viewing not just for Angelina Jolie’s powerful and superb performance but also for the brilliant special effects orchestrated by first time director Robert Stromberg who served as a Visual Effects Supervisor on such films as 2012, The Hunger Games and Shutter Island. Watch out for newcomer Australian actor Brenton Thwaites as the naive Prince Phillip aka Prince Charming.

 

Born Radicals

Ginger and Rosa

ginger_and_rosa

Director: Sally Potter

Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Jodhi May, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt

British director Sally Potter renown for such art house films as the brilliant Orlando starring Tilda Swinton and The Tango Lesson, comes up trumps with her latest film Ginger and Rosa, featuring the uber-cool cast of Elle Fanning as the vulnerable Ginger, Alice Englert as the seductive Rosa, along with a supporting cast of Christina Hendricks (Drive) Alessandro Nivola (Coco Avant Chanel) as Ginger’s father Roland along with Oliver Platt, Timothy Spall and the always brilliant Annette Bening (Being Julia, Bugsy, The Kids are Alright).

Ginger and Rosa follow the entwined story of two girls born in 1945 as Hiroshima was decimated by a Nuclear Bomb ending World War II and traces their radical progression into adulthood in London in 1962, characterized by a growing social disenchantment with the establishment. The fact that Ginger’s Mom Natalie an aspiring painter turned housewife played superbly by Hendricks and her pacifist and ultimately selfish father Roland played by Nivola are not exactly conventional, helps in Ginger realizing her taste for social activism drawing her to the CND. As both teenage girls experiment with sex, booze and drugs, Ginger turns more to the growing Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) which was fuelled by her awareness of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Ginger whilst reading T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, soon finds herself got in a private crisis as her promiscuous friend Rosa puts their relationship in a delicate and complex situation. Rosa’s absence of a father figure spurs an inner sexual rebellion as her seldom seen working class mom Anouska played by Jodhi May last seen in the World War II drama Defiance, leaves Rosa feeling neglected and continually searching for love.

Sally Potter is clearly enchanted with Elle Fanning the younger sister of Hollywood actress Dakota Fanning and her performance in Ginger and Rosa is flawless conveying a wondrous vulnerability about the challenges of youth. Elle Fanning has become the darling of Art House cinema being cast in Sofia Coppola’s tale of a father and daughter’s relationship in a celebrity obsessed world in Somewhere and now Ginger and Rosa. Elle Fanning first came to attention in J.J.Abrams brilliant homage to Sci-Fi in the film Super 8 and has since caught the attention of cinema’s more influential female directors like Coppola and Potter.

Whilst the supporting cast in Ginger and Rosa are superb, especially Hendricks and Nivola as Ginger’s Bohemian parents and the rare glimpses of Annette Bening as a hardened radical feminist Bella who eventually coaxes the truth out of Ginger’s psychological and social dilemma, the film remains Elle Fanning’s with the cinematography capturing the intensity of activism versus vulnerability on the young Ginger as she negotiates a more complex environment both domestically and socially.

Ginger and Rosa is an intelligent exploration of betrayal, activism and social comprehension in a world which has become increasingly turbulent especially in the face of growing distrust of established social conventions governing family, relationships and role models in the light of a broader context of a society which is turning to radical activism as the main form of protest against Western governments using its nuclear power to obliterate cities and the pure carnage of war as illustrated in the post-World War I T. S. Eliot poem The Wasteland published in 1922.

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