Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Burstyn’

Intimate Portrayal Of Loss

Pieces of a Woman

Director: Kornel Mundruczo

Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Ellen Burstyn, Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Snook, Benny Saldie, Iliza Shlesinger, Molly Parker

This film is only available on the streaming service Netflix

Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo’s immersive portrayal of a mother giving birth is the spell bounding opening scene of Pieces of a Woman which premiered at the 2020 Venice International Film Festival in which its star the supremely talented Vanessa Kirby walked away with the Best Actress prize at Venice.

Pieces of a Woman is brilliantly acted and beautifully directed.

The Emmy nominated star of The Crown, Vanessa Kirby is amazing as the pregnant Martha, an affluent young woman who decides along with her partner Sean wonderfully played with trapped aggression by Shia LaBeouf (Fury, Charlie Countryman) to have a home birth with the assistance of a midwife Eva played by House of Cards star Molly Parker. This controversial scene was shot with minimal editing and is graphic, visually impressive and holds the emotional crux of this film together.

Director Kornel Mundruczo cleverly uses a cinematic metaphor of a bridge being built over the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts, which is in fact the bridge that construction foreman Sean is working on before his life completely unravels.

To add more emotional depth to the film, legendary and Oscar winning actress Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) is cast as Martha’s wealthy and controlling mother Elizabeth. The confrontational scene at the end of the film between Burstyn and Kirby is electrifying and a master class in screen acting.

Kirby tautly presents an intimate portrayal of loss, of a woman who gives birth and then loses everything and how her male partner and family react in different ways to this unprecedented tragedy. Vanessa Kirby’s nuanced and deeply complex approach to such a challenging portrayal of a woman will definitely earn her Golden Globe and Oscar buzz during the 2021 awards season.

Ellen Burstyn is equally superb as the mother Elizabeth who watches her daughter disintegrate emotionally and thinks that money and legal justice is the only solution to assuage the guilt and loss.

Succession star Sarah Snook has a brief role as a callous Boston lawyer who becomes too involved in Martha and Sean’s legal case. Pieces of a Woman is a superb film, beautifully written and absolutely riveting, an intelligent insight into a deeply taboo subject matter, which has not been tackled frequently in world cinema.

Pieces of a Woman gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended but not for sensitive viewers.

Damaging Boundaries

The Tale

Director: Jennifer Fox

Cast: Laura Dern, Ellen Burstyn, Common, Jason Ritter, Elizabeth Debicki, Frances Conroy, Isabelle Nelisse, John Heard

Spoiler Alert Valid until airing on M-Net on Monday 6th August 2018

Please note that this is a Made for TV film and will not be released in commercial cinemas.

Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Fox creates a searing autobiographical film called The Tale which had its South African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival DIFF 2018 https://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/.

The Tale features a superb performance by Emmy and Golden Globe winner Laura Dern (Big Little Lies) who plays a fictionalized version of director Jennifer Fox who has to confront strange and uncomfortable memories of her past as a young girl, when her mother played by Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) discovers a story she wrote when she was thirteen about an illicit affair that she had with a creepy gym coach, 40 year old divorcee Bill played with suitably skin-crawling detail by Jason Ritter.

As the narrative of The Tale unwinds through a series of carefully constructed flashbacks, Jennifer is forced to confront the fact that while she was doing horse riding on a farm in the Carolina’s with the strict Mrs G, crisply played by The Night Manager star Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) she was not only groomed for child abuse but becoming the victim.

The Tale confronts in horrific detail the strange and bizarre almost Lolita like affair that Bill initiates  with the young Jennifer expertly played by Isabelle Nelisse in many scenes that would be deeply disturbing to sensitive viewers.

Released by HBO films, The Tale is a made for Television film. Director Jennifer Fox beautifully reveals to audiences the nature of memory and the action taken by the grown-up Jennifer to confront her abuser. This significant film is a harrowing and brave account of child abuse which is especially pertinent in the era of the #MeToo Campaign.

Anchored by nuanced performances by both Dern who is nominated again at the 2018 Emmy Awards and Ellen Burstyn, The Tale is highly recommended viewing and intelligently explores the elusive nature of forgotten childhood memories which frequently blur the lines of morality and shows that any form of abuse damages boundaries both psychologically and sexually.

The Tale won Best Screenplay at DIFF 2018 and is also nominated for Best Limited Series or TV Movie at the Primetime Emmy Awards which is taking place in September 2018. The Tale will be aired on the South African subscription channel M-Net on Monday 6th August 2018.

The Tale gets a film rating of 8 out of 10.

 

 

 

Immune to the Ravages of Time

The Age of Adaline

age_of_adaline

Director: Lee Toland Krieger

Cast: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman, Kathy Baker, Ellen Burstyn, Amanda Crew, Mark Ghanime, Peter J. Gray

Set in San Francisco, The Age of Adaline gives Blake Lively a chance to play her hand at romance after being seen in Oliver Stone’s film Savages. It’s also the first major commercial film for rising Dutch star Michiel Huisman who has become famous for his sexy appearances in HBO’s Game of Thrones and Nashville.

Huisman and Lively make a beautiful couple onscreen even if there is no real tangible chemistry between them. It also does not help that The Age of Adaline is trying to emulate David Fincher’s Oscar nominated film about aging The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which while beautifully shot was really a homage to New Orleans.

age_of_adaline_ver13

In this rather sepia light, director Lee Toland Krieger’s romantic drama The Age of Adaline is a homage to probably the most romantic city in America, San Francisco, as the film beautifully captures some wonderful aerial shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Early on in the film due to a unique scientific accident, the heroine Adaline Bowman discovers quite extraordinarily that she is immune to the ravages of time.

The ageless Adaline due to her gorgeous appearance is forced to change her identity every ten years which is going swimmingly well until she meets a tall dark handsome stranger Ellis Jones, sensitively played by Huisman, who let’s face it, like Lively, looks stunning onscreen.

The determined Ellis Jones encourages Adaline to come home with him one weekend to meet his parents and celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. In an entirely contrived and almost implausible Danielle Steele sort of way, upon their arrival at the upstate home of Ellis’s parents, his father suitably played by Harrison Ford (Regarding Henry, Star Wars) recognizes Adaline as the girl he once fell in love with back in the early 1960’s in England.

In the hands of a more skilled director, The Age of Adaline would have become a very intriguing romantic drama, but unfortunately the central contrivance of the entire narrative is so glaringly obvious that only for the sake of vanity could this film conclude with a happy ending. Vanity and memory are two themes that the film explores in depth.

Nevertheless, despite the plot shortages on both sides of the San Francisco Bay, The Age of Adaline is a stunning film to watch and will appeal to all lovers of romance and those that enjoyed such films as the quirky Richard Curtis comedy About Time and of course The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Unfortunately, such talented actresses as Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Requiem for a Dream) and Kathy Baker (Jacknife, The Cider House Rules, Saving Mr Banks) are wasted in this foggy romantic drama, which is as vague as the sighting of a comet near earth in the distant future.

The Age of Adaline had two gorgeous stars, plus an A-List megastar like Ford but unfortunately while beautiful to watch, lacked a firmer direction, which is a pity since the film did not fulfill its complete potential.

The Lazarus Missions

Interstellar

interstellar_ver3

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn, David Oyelowo, Topher Grace, Timothee Chalamet

Memento meets Gravity in director Christopher Nolan’s epic space opera, Interstellar, a convoluted time travel astrophysical fantasy about a NASA astronaut who gets caught up in a mission to travel to an alternative Galaxy in a bid to save the remaining humanity on earth from a dwindling supply of oxygen.

2001 a_space_odyssey_ver2

Assembling an all star cast is what director Nolan does best at insuring that his films have credibility as a blockbuster and with a range of stars, yet unlike Inception or The Prestige, his earlier films which dealt with dreams and magic, Interstellar tends to emulate the great director Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece: 2001: A Space Odyssey, yet falls short of its celestial aspirations, by not being a touch more sinister.

In parts, Interstellar is brilliant and ambitious, wonderfully scored with atmospheric music by Hans Zimmer and incredibly shot with those signature spiralling shots that Nolan is so fond of. However, Interstellar suffers from two shortcomings, taking the films weighty significance too seriously and secondly a serious lack of editing. The first and last sections of Interstellar weighs down the brilliance and absolute clarity of the middle section.

interstellar_ver2

With McConaughey fresh from his Oscar win on Dallas Buyers Club coupled with Hathaway fresh from her win in Les Miserables it seems like a perfect casting choice, but it’s flawed by its very contrivance. The part which does stand out so brilliantly is that of Murphy superbly played by the underrated Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as Cooper’s grownup and embittered daughter who is hell bent in following in her father’s footsteps and traveling beyond the black hole to discover the reason for the earth’s imminent demise. Watch out for cameo appearances by Ellen Burstyn, Wes Bentley and David Oyelowo.

Fellow Oscar nominee Casey Affleck is also good as the stubborn yet stoical brother of Murphy in a part which is severely underwritten along with that of Oscar winner Michael Caine as Professor Brand who plays Hathaway’s enigmatic father, a scientist who masterminds the space exploration from the outset knowing that the intended consequences of such a doomed mission are dire and certainly revelatory at best.

Interstellar ‘s post-structural narrative gets more blurred, the further the astronauts travel through a celestial wormhole, around a vast system known as Gargantuan, soon realizing that their mission much like their own destiny is doomed to fail, resulting in a multitude of Lazarus missions.

The only subversive element is a rescued astronaut Mann, wonderfully played by Matt Damon, found on a frozen wasteland of a planet which seems to be the only alternative to the dust clad environment of a doomed earth, who is wily in his attempts to escape his icy predicament.

With a script by Jonathan Nolan, Interstellar suffers from too little said and not enough explained, while most of the narrative rests on some remarkably clever visual clues which only make sense in the last section of the film, which resembles a pastiche of Inception mixed with an unquantifiable mystical factor.

The cast with a threadbare script had little else to work on besides their own doomed destinies and the terrors of space. Thus there is loads of human anguish thrown in along with some stunning visuals, but at nearly three hours long Interstellar could have been expertly edited to make a more concise tale of 21st century doomed space exploration. Besides Anne Hathaway just doesn’t cut it as an astronaut and should stick to period dramas, where at least the claustrophobia is explained by historical context and not subliminal infinity.

inception

As an avid fan of Christopher Nolan films and trust me I loved The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, I personally found Interstellar fascinating yet an ultimately flawed and slightly contrived piece of cinema crippled by its unendurable length, without enough plot twists to generate sufficient audience excitement. Like Inception, Interstellar will certainly be open to discussion.

 

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
January 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
  • BBC Studios Takes Outright Ownership of ‘End Of The F***ing World’ Producer Clerkenwell
    BBC Studios has increased its investment in “The End of the F***ing World” producer Clerkenwell Films, becoming an outright owner with a 100% stake. Founded in 1998 by Murray Ferguson, Clerkenwell Films is one of the leading scripted producers in the U.K. The outfit produced “The End of the F***ing World” for Netflix and the […]
    Naman Ramachandran
  • Subscription Video Surging in Indonesia, Research Shows
    Indonesia, one of the world’s least-penetrated large media markets, is finally tuning in to subscription video services. The total number of paying subscriptions has reached seven million, according to new research. According to new data from consultancy and research firm Media Partners Asia, paying subscriptions surged from 3.4 million to 7 million in the four […]
    Patrick Frater
  • ‘Margrete – Queen of the North’ Teaser, Poster Unveiled by REinvent, SF Studios (EXCLUSIVE)
    Nordic production and distribution powerhouse SF Studios and sales agency REinvent International Sales have revealed a sneak peek of Charlotte Sieling’s epic period drama “Margrete – Queen of the North,” starring Trine Dyrholm, a Berlin Silver Bear winner for best actress with Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Commune.” Dyrholm, whose credits also include Susanne Bier’s Oscar winner […]
    elskes
  • Global TV Players Poised for COVID Rebound as Streaming Boom Revs Content Marketplace
    The global television marketplace has come through an unprecedented 18-month period of moving and shaking as the structural shift to direct-to-consumer streaming collided head-on with pandemic lockdown conditions around the world. As the industry regroups for 2021 and gathers this week for the annual NATPE conference, held in virtual form this year, the largest U.S.-based […]
    Cynthia Littleton
  • ‘Lupin’ Will Be Seen By 70 Million Subscribers, Netflix Claims
    Netflix’s French original “Lupin” is the streamer’s latest international hit, and poised to pull in eye-watering numbers for the service. The SVOD giant projects that the clever Omar Sy-fronted crime caper will be watched by 70 million members within its first 28 days on the platform. The drama launched on Friday and has already nabbed […]
    msravindran
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90