Posts Tagged ‘Emma Stone’

The Virginia Slims

Battle of the Sexes

Directors: Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton

Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Elisabeth Shue, Alan Cumming, Bill Pullman, Eric Christian Olsen, Wallace Langham, Austin Stowell

Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks directing duo Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton take on the extremely pertinent subject of gender inequality in sports in their latest film, Battle of the Sexes, a highly entertaining cinematic recreation of a historic tennis match which took place between the brash egotist and compulsive gambler Bobby Riggs and tennis women’s superstar Billie Jean King at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas in 1973.

Oscar winner Emma Stone (La La Land) plays Billie Jean King a tennis champion at the top of her game who is married yet battling with her own sexuality as she meets the provocative Californian hairdresser Marilyn Barnett wonderfully played by Andrea Riseborough (Nocturnal Animals, Birdman).

Oscar nominee Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) plays the exuberant Bobby Riggs, the fiftyish tennis pro and self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig who is having a last gasp at his youth and decides to provoke Billie Jean King into a publicity tennis matched aptly named Battle of the Sexes. Riggs who is a sports hustler and whose lavish career is supported by his wealthy wife Priscilla Riggs superbly played against type by Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas).

Comedian Sarah Silverman stars as the outspoken Gladys Heldman who champions Billie Jean King and a collection of aspiring female tennis players to start their own female tennis match sponsored by Virginia slims cigarettes. This is in response to the chauvinism and unequal pay dispute between the women players and the exorbitant salaries that their male tennis players get which is almost ten times the amount.

The reason for this inequality, as sports commentator and organizer Jack Kramer played by Bill Pullman gives is that the tennis watching public love men’s tennis and that the male tennis players have ten times the stamina, strength and speed to sustain an exciting match unlike their less competitive female counterparts. Naturally this outdated mode of thinking has thankfully be reversed by the recent star power of such female tennis champions as Venus and Serena Williams.

Battle of the Sexes is a relevant film not only in terms of recent sexual harassment scandals which has rocked the Hollywood establishment but also in terms of LGTQ rights in sports, a controversial subject which has barely been explored in contemporary cinema.

As Billie Jean King’s husband Larry, played by Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies), says to her lover in one poignant scene, all that sponsorship of hotel rooms, flights and TV coverage would evaporate if King came out as a lesbian. Which she eventually did in the wake of the 1970’s queer rights campaign that activists like Harvey Milk and Cleve Jones fought for so vehemently, brilliantly illustrated in the Oscar winning Gus van Sant film Milk.

Battle of the Sexes is a thoroughly entertaining film about two tennis professionals who not only stake the reputations on a publicity tennis match. Battle of the Sexes is peppered with some flamboyant supporting roles including Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming as Cuthbert Tinling whilst held together by exemplary performances by Stone and Carell.

Battle of the Sexes gets a film rating of 8 out of 10, featuring wonderful seventies tennis costumes by Costume Designer Mary Zophres capturing the zeitgeist of the decade, adding to a thoroughly slick and entertaining sports film.

89th Academy Awards

The 89th Academy Awards / The Oscars

Sunday 26th February 2017

OSCAR WINNERS AT THE 89TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

Best Picture: Moonlight

Best Director: Damien Chazelle La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis – Fences

Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney – Moonlight

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren  – La La Land

Best Costume Design: Colleen AtwoodFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Make up & Hairstyling: Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher NelsonSuicide Squad

Best Visual Effects: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan LemmonThe Jungle Book

Best Sound Editing: Sylvain BellemareArrival

Best Sound Mixing: Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter GraceHacksaw Ridge

Best Film Editing: John Gilbert – Hacksaw Ridge

Best Production DesignDavid Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-WascoLa La Land

Best Documentary Feature:  O. J. Made in America directed by Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman directed by Asghar Farhadi (Iran)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/89th_Academy_Awards

70th BAFTA Awards

THE  70th BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 12th February 2017 in London at the Royal Albert Hall

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

Best Film: La La Land

Best Director: Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Supporting Actor: Dev Patel – Lion

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis – Fences

Best British Film: I, Daniel Blake directed by Ken Loach

Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Luke Davies – Lion

Best Costume Design: Madeline Fontaine – Jackie

Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul – directed by Lazlo Nemes

Best Animated Film: Kubo and the Two Strings

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/70th_British_Academy_Film_Awards

 

Here’s to the Dreamers

La La Land

Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J. K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend, Josh Pence

After the success of Whiplash, writer and director Damien Chazelle achieves the virtually impossible, a magnificent and dazzling modern day musical set in Los Angeles which is fresh, original and utterly captivating. La La Land pairs two of Hollywood’s hottest stars the dapper and ever charming Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys, The Big Short) with the quirky and talented Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight) in one of the best on screen pairings ever seen on film.

La La Land is superb, a gorgeous brightly coloured ode to all those that have ever dreamed, that have harboured artistic expression, to those that have repeatedly been told to relentlessly follow your dreams. If you are talented and passionate then they will come true. But like all dreams, however magical there is always a price to pay.

Unashamedly, La La Land is also a tribute to Los Angeles, a glorious picture perfect film to all the major attractions of the magical city of stars where dreams come to be realized or dashed, where glamour is epitomized, where everyone wants to sing and dance and act on film.

La La Land sets the tone for a lavish musical, with the opening number starting as a traffic jam on one of the city’s major highways transforming into an extraordinary sing and dance number. Soon Mia an aspiring actress played with relish and nuance by Oscar nominee Emma Stone (Birdman) surrounded by a bevy of beautiful flat mates unexpectedly meets Sebastian a jazz-obsessed pianist whose dreams entwine in a seasonal musical which pays homage to Casablanca and Singing in the Rain.

Chazelle’s directorial style pays tribute to auteurs such as Robert Altman, David Lynch and Pedro Almodovar and his superb sense of timing is matched by his brilliant screenplay especially in the romantic scenes between Mia and Sebastian as they both embark on a romantic affair which is impulsive and beautiful from their first date watching Rebel without a Cause at the Rialto to their dancing under the stars at the iconic Griffin Observatory.

With an original score by Justin Hurwitz and some catchy tunes like City of Stars, La La Land will captivate audiences with its fanciful colours, its bold delight at music and refusal not to become too serious. In fact, La La Land is simply masterful in every way from the beautiful costumes mostly in primary colours to the fabulous production design, this film is like a tonic for everything cruel and horrible that is happening in the world.

Like a cinematic soufflé, La La Land hits all the right notes made all the more poignant by the fantastic performances by Gosling and Stone assisted with some wonderful cameo’s by John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt and Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash).

La La Land is the third collaboration of Stone and Gosling after Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad and clearly this Hollywood chemistry is working judging by all the critical acclaim.

This is cinema at its best. La La Land is utterly phenomenal, a marvellous musical which is just what audiences are longing for: a visually spectacular tribute to the dreamers which makes living purely inspirational.

74th Golden Globe Awards

74th GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 8th  January 2017 hosted by

the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in Beverly Hills, California

GOLDEN GLOBE WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORIES:

Best Film Drama: Moonlight

Best Film, Musical / Comedy: La La Land

Best Director: Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Best Actor Drama: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress Drama: Isabelle Huppert – Elle

Best Actor M/C: Ryan Gosling – La La Land

Best Actress M/C: Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Supporting Actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals

Best Support Actress: Viola Davis – Fences

Best Foreign Language Film: Elle directed by Paul Verhoeven (France)

 

 

2016 Venice Film Festival

2016 Venice International Film Festival Winners

venice-poster-2016

Venice International Film Festival, known as La Biennale di Venezia takes place annually
in late August, early September and is regarded as the oldest Film Festival in the World

woman-who-left

Golden Lion (Best Film): The Woman Who Left by Lav Diaz

Silver Lion (Best Director):  shared between –

Amat Escalante for The Untamed  (No film poster available)

paradise

Andrei Konchalovsky for Paradise

the_distinguished_citizen

Best Actor:  Oscar Martínez for The Distinguished Citizen

la_la_land_ver3

Best Actress: Emma Stone for La La Land

jackie

Best Screenplay Award: Noah Oppenheim for Jackie

 

2016 Toronto Film Festival

2016 Toronto International

Film Festival Winners

tiff-2016

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

magnificent_seven_ver5

Opening Night Film: The Magnificent Seven directed by Antoine Fuqua starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke

la_la_land_ver3

People’s Choice Award: La La Land directed by Damien Chazelle – starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Finn Wittrock, J. K. Simmons & Rosemarie DeWitt

Best Canadian Film: Those who make Revolution only Dig their Graves Halfway directed by Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie

 

Performance Anxiety

Birdman

Or

The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

birdman_ver3

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, Lindsay Duncan

Mexican film director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu whose previous films include the critically acclaimed Babel, Buitiful and 21 Grams, delivers another cinematic magic realist masterpiece in the electrifying film Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance about the crazy antics which occur backstage on a Broadway production of a play adapted from a Raymond Carver story.

Birdman is comical, fantastical and brilliantly acted by a great ensemble cast but particularly by Michael Keaton as the central character Riggan, a washed up 1990’s superhero film star who is desperate to revive his acting career on Broadway.

Michael Keaton delivers a crackling performance as the erratic Riggan, an aging actor on the verge of a nervous breakdown, whose alter ego the superhero film character Birdman keeps whispering in his ear that he should not be taking to the stage but rather resuscitating his failed film career. Riggan also seems to be constantly hounded by a multitude of neurotic woman throughout the film which feeds his own performance anxiety.

Joining the energetic Keaton who just won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy is an impressive ensemble cast including the hugely underrated Edward Norton as Mike Shiner a younger more precocious actor, Emma Stone as Riggan’s snappy daughter Sam, Andrea Riseborough as Riggan’s neurotic girlfriend Laura, Amy Ryan as Riggan’s ex-wife and stabilizing influence on his life, Sylvia. The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis as the exasperated bearded theatre producer Jake and Naomi Watts as a drama queen Lesley.

birdman

What makes Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance so utterly absorbing and in parts quite delirious is that Inarritu chooses to film the entire movie as one long tracking shot which keeps the momentum of this frenetic story alive and fresh. Besides the extraordinary direction, a very witty script, there is of course the superb performances by the entire cast who really excelled in a very difficult and strenuous acting stretch reminiscent of Luigi Pirandello’s play Six Characters In Search of an Author with a massive dash of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Magic Realism thrown in.

Visual clues abound along with multiple references to the 21st century super saturated media world of the 21st century. In one of the best scenes of the film Sam (superbly played by Emma Stone) tells her father Riggan that he has lost touch with the world, he does not even have a Facebook Page or a Twitter account and is rarely on social media. As Birdman progresses and in a hilarious sequence with Riggan running through New York’s Times Square dressed only in white underpants, which is naturally captured on YouTube, his digital success changes instantly.

Then after a near meltdown with a bottle of Whisky and after Riggan tells the influential theatre critic Tabitha (a superb cameo by Lindsay Duncan) that he should be taken seriously as a stage actor, the opening night of the play arrives and no one can anticipate the final reaction or the review in the New York Times theatre page entitled The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.

For anyone that has studied drama or been in a stage production, Birdman is a must see film, as Inarritu expertly captures the confidence, chaos and utter lack of self-consciousness of the wild and crazy cast of this production, as they strip for scene changes, fight with their fellow actors and generally are quite debauched in all sorts of ways unique to the Theatre world.

Birdman imaginatively emphasizes that despite all the social media around especially in 21st century contemporary America, there is nothing quite as exciting as Live Theatre.

Keaton, Norton and Stone are absolutely superb and this film is highly recommended viewing, worthy of all the attention it is currently receiving, much like what every actor in the world constantly craves: rave reviews and becoming a celebrity!

 

 

 

 

 

La Cote d’Azur

Magic in the Moonlight

magic_in_the_moonlight_ver2

Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Jacki Weaver, Simon McBurney

In the tradition of Bullets over Broadway and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, director Woody Allen returns to the period piece in the gorgeous and witty Noel Coward inspired drawing room comedy Magic in the Moonlight set on the French Riviera.

After the success of Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen returns to Europe and in a sublime casting match has Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) simply incisive and caustic as Stanley Crawford a cynical British magician who at the request of his friend Howard Burkan travels to the French Riviera to uncover the true intentions of a young and beguiling spiritualist Sophie Baker superbly played by Emma Stone. Naturally Sophie is preying on the good intentions of an extremely wealthy American family who are spending the summer at their villa on the La Cote d’Azur.

With a vibrant dose of jazz, sparkling costumes and vintage cars, Magic in the Moonlight sets the lavish scene for a truly witty melodrama inspired by playwright Noel Coward and definitely influenced by the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The year is 1928, a year before the Great Depression and smart society is still abundantly hopeful and rich. This is Tender is the Night without the drama.

bullets_over_broadway_ver1

Sophie has befriended the naïve and wealthy Brice played by Hamish Linklater who at the request of his bejewelled mother, a brief cameo by Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) invokes the art of séances and acts as a sort of naïve, yet beautiful medium to the dead, more specifically her late husband, a billionaire Pittsburgh industrialist.

Emma Stone is wonderful and crafty as Sophie who soon falls in love with Stanley after a failed trip to Provence whereby the couple are trapped in a celestial observatory to avoid a torrential downfall. There in this observatory they gaze at the moonlight over a luminous Mediterranean sea, a scene which surely inspires the film’s whimsical title.

This is an elegant, witty and utterly charming period piece with Woody Allen writing intelligent and naturally comic dialogue without the angst characteristic of his contemporary American films featuring neurotic Manhattan ramblings.

curse_of_the_jade_scorpion

That’s because in a wise casting decision the famous actor/director does not feature in Magic in the Moonlight and leaves all the brilliant acting to his shining ensemble cast, especially Firth who reverts back to his egotistical slightly arrogant roles that he is so good at playing like Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Firth delivers the lines with a crisp diction and the best scenes are with him and fellow British thespian Eileen Atkins who gives an astonishing performance as his affectionate but wise Aunt Vanessa.

Magic in the Moonlight is whimsical, beautifully constructed and wonderfully acted in a lovely Sunday afternoon sort of way, showing that Allen can still make films which delight audiences as he sheds the angst and focuses on the inexplicable energy of human society and their coy yet quirky interactions.

Whilst the rest of the cast make up a glittering ensemble, including Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater and Catherine McCormack, it is really the sparkling onscreen connectivity of Firth and Stone as the two foils of their own deceptions, two semi-sophisticated adults thrown together in paradise whose romance blossoms despite their age difference and respective ambitions.

Magic in the Moonlight evokes a romantic era long since vanished and is highly recommended viewing for those that relish nostalgic cinema.

 

Hollywood Hard Hitters

Gangster Squad

gangster_squad_ver2

Based upon the fascinating non-fiction book, Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman, the beautifully yet violent cinematic rendition of the story of how an elite group of LA cops formed a Gangster Squad to tackle the effects of organized crime in post-wars Los Angeles, is thrilling to watch, engrossing and thoroughly entertaining. Featuring an all star cast including Ryan Gosling as Jerry Wooters, Josh Brolin as Jack O’Mara, Emma Stone as Grace Faraday and Sean Penn as the malevolent gangster Mickey Cohen who terrorized the Hollywood Boulevard in the early days of the city of angels growth is both visceral and heartfelt.

Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Pena also star as electronics expert Conwell Keeler and Officer Navidad Ramirez respectively in this brotherhood tale of elite cops fighting the influences of organized crime in the form of the vicious New York immigrant Mickey Cohen. Whilst Paul Lieberman’s novel goes into a truly in depth analysis of the origins of organized crime in Los Angeles, before and after the 2nd World War especially as California and Nevada become ripe for the East Coast families to increase their criminal activities. In this case Chicago crime emissary Jack Dragnet, played by Jon Polito is soon wiped out by Mickey Cohen who will go to any lengths to become Los Angeles’s crime boss.

gangster_squad_ver6

Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Gangster Squad skips over much of the social history in favour of making a sleek, glamorous and violent film about the sharp shooting and mischievous Squad which successfully undermined Mickey Cohen’s grip on the city of Angels in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Not nearly as measured and brilliant as Barry Levinson’s film Bugsy about Bugsy Seigel’s establishment of Las Vegas in the late 40’s, Gangster Squad comes off more as a nostalgic pastiche of all great Gangster films from the same genre most notably The Untouchables, Bugsy and the brilliant L. A. Confidential.

la_confidential

Gangster Squad features a smooth talking Ryan Gosling in what is really an ensemble piece about a group of men who go to any lengths to undermine the mob king in their town often at their own personal costs. Gosling’s screen time with Emma Stone is fabulous along with some particular brilliant and captivating action sequences, Gangster Squad is held together by a brilliant cast, fabulous sets and a superb retelling of an emerging city out of the clutches of crime and into those of glamour and cinema, which is what Los Angeles is more famous for today.

Recent more grittier films about Los Angeles downtown crime film like End of Watch also starring Michael Pena shot in a Southlands TV series style has not changed the image that LA is still a city plagued by foreign criminal organizations or crazy criminals as immortalized in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and not so much by East Coast immigrants as it was in the first half of the 20th century.

pulp_fiction_ver2

Paul Lieberman’s book Gangster Squad is a brilliant read as his detailed history of the city of Angels in the mid 20th century is perfectly captured and exceptionally well researched.  The Hollywood film version of Gangster Squad is by all respects a brilliantly recreated 1940’s handsome cinematic experience complete with Slapsy Maxies also starring Nick Nolte as Chief Parker and Anthony Mackie as Officer Coleman Harris and worth watching for the quirky dialogue, well orchestrated action sequences,  and will surely delight those fans who loves similar styled mobster movies!

 

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
  • Refinery29 Lays Off 34 Staffers in Latest Sign of Digital-Media Malaise
    Refinery29 has pink-slipped 34 employees, with the digital media player citing a “challenging” advertising environment for the layoffs. The New York-based company said the cuts represent 7.5% of its workforce, leaving it with around 420 employees worldwide. Refinery29 targets young female audiences with a mix of news, lifestyle, and video content. Refinery29 co-founders and co-CEOs […]
    Todd Spangler
  • London Film Festival Director Clare Stewart to Take Year-long Sabbatical
    Clare Stewart will take a break from running the BFI London Film Festival, with Tricia Tuttle filling in as artistic director in 2018. Stewart has run six editions of the London fest but will miss 2018 as she takes a year-long sabbatical. In other moves sparked by Stewart’s year out, Anne-Marie Flynn, currently head of business […]
    Stewart Clarke
  • China’s Wanda Ready to Sue Over Financial Allegations
    China’s Dalian Wanda group has rebuffed social media suggestions that it is in financial difficulties. And it pulled back the curtains on new backlots at the Wanda Qingdao Studios. Wanda said that it had reported blog Baoyouqu to the police for slander. The site recently published an article headlined Wang Jianlin Meets his Waterloo. Wanda […]
    Patrick Frater
  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Gianfranco Rosi Booked for Qumra
    Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose “Loveless” is among nine titles shortlisted in this year’s foreign-language Oscar race, is one of three acclaimed helmers scheduled to give master classes and mentoring sessions during the Doha Film Institute’s annual Qumra event. The other Qumra “Masters” are Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or winner for […]
    nvivarelli
  • Berlinale 2018: Panorama Section Focuses on ‘Body Politics’ and ‘Resistance to Machismo’
    The 2018 Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section will focus on body politics and – with Harvey Weinstein and harassment still front-page news – “resistance to machismo.” The upcoming edition of Panorama, which is dedicated to controversial and unconventional features, will be the first to be overseen by Paz Lazaro, alongside Michael Stütz and Andreas Struck. […]
    Stewart Clarke