Posts Tagged ‘Finn Wittrock’

The Talk of the Town

Judy

Director: Rupert Goold

Cast: Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Richard Cordery, Royce Pierreson, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Darci Shaw, Gus Barry

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Based on the Stage play by Peter Quilter, End of the Rainbow, director Rupert Goold’s poignant musical drama Judy features a mesmerising performance by Oscar winner Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) as Judy Garland in the autumn of her career.

Zellweger transforms herself into Judy Garland as she becomes the film Judy with herself in virtually every scene as she battles with drug addiction and alcoholism in a desperate attempt to revive her flagging musical career in a series of shows in London in the winter of 1968 at a cabaret club in the West End, called The Talk of the Town.

With insightful flashbacks of herself as a young Judy Garland when she became the breakout child star of the 1939 hit Musical The Wizard of Oz for MGM. During this time, the young Judy played by Darci Shaw is under a strict contract by the formidable head of the studio Louis B. Mayer played by Richard Cordery. As a young star she forms an attraction to another young child star Mickey Rooney played Gus Barry. Yet the studio had the young Judy Garland on a stringent diet of appetite suppressants, uppers and downers as she always had to watch her figure, becoming a slave to the merciless studio system which exploited young actors and actresses who were under severe contractual obligations.

Fast forward to 1968, Judy Garland meets the dashing Mickey Deans wonderfully played by Finn Wittrock (Unbroken, The Big Short) at her elder and more famous daughter Liza Minelli’s house party in the Hollywood Hills. Liza is played by Gemma-Leah Devereux.

Judy is having a custody battle over her two younger children with her fourth ex-husband Sid Luft played by Rufus Sewell (Carrington, Gods of Egypt, Hercules). Her financial difficulties force her to take up a Gig in London performing at the glamorous Talk of the Town cabaret venue where she forms a veritable bond with her personal assistant Rosalyn Wilder played by Irish actress Jessie Buckley as Judy belts at some fabulous numbers on a glittering stage.

Psychologically, Judy Garland is dealing with some traumatic emotional issues while always pretending to be a consummate performer. Zellweger expertly gives a nuanced heart-wrenching performance as Judy Garland, a legendary Hollywood star in the autumn of her career who also become a champion for London’s gay community in the 1960’s.

At the centre of Rupert Goold’s film Judy is a staggeringly brilliant performance by Renee Zellweger who definitely deserves another Oscar for her excellent portrayal of a Hollywood icon. In a particularly hilarious scene with a doctor, who asks her what do you take for depression?

Judy candidly replies four ex-husbands!

Judy gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy films about Hollywood Divas. For those that enjoyed My Week with Marilyn, they will love Judy, a gem of a British film featuring a staggering performance by Renee Zellweger.

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.

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

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

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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

 

No Income, No Jobs

The Big Short

big_short

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Finn Wittrock, John Magaro, Rafe Spall, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, Jeffry Griffin, Billy Magnussen, Max Greenfield, Tracy Letts

The critically acclaimed film The Big Short is a highly inventive tale of how six men predicted the collapse of the US housing market and actually made money off this economic disaster.

Christian Bale turns in a brilliant Oscar nominated performance as the socially awkward Dr Michael Burry, a neurologist suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome who gives up medicine to become a hedge fund manager in director Adam McKay’s frenetic financial diatribe The Big Short, about the collapse of the American housing market in 2007 and 2008, which precipitated the worst international financial crisis since the Great Depression back in 1929.

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Joining Bale in the cast are Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) as Wall Street trader Jared Vennett, Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) as hedge fund manager Mark Baum and Brad Pitt (Moneyball) as reclusive banker Ben Rickett. These four men together with two young eager investors Charlie Geller played by John Maguro (Carol) and Jamie Shipley played by Finn Wittrock all predict the imminent collapse of the US housing market due to the instability of unsecured sub-prime mortgages.

Through a series of inter related events between 2005 and 2007, these guys develop a system of credit default swaps by betting against the housing market which like the Tech industry bubble, eventually burst in 2008 bringing down Lehman Brothers in September 2008, one of the world’s largest investment banks, and forcing the entire global economy into a devastating recession.

What makes the entire dodgy financing worse is that the banks and the international rating agencies collude to actually validate the profiting of these credit default swaps, causing the Biggest Short in economic history which inevitably lead to no income and no jobs for millions of people worldwide.

Best Line in the film is prophetically “In five years’ time, everyone is going to be blaming the immigrants and the poor.”

Financial films are never exciting unless the director makes the viewer totally engrossed in what they are watching. Fortunately Anchorman director Adam McKay through some inventive directing and skillful editing along with a fascinating script by Charles Randolph which makes The Big Short an utterly engrossing film.

The Big Short is anchored down by four great performances by Pitt, Carell, Gosling and particularly Bale. Christian Bale and Steve Carell are particularly good and while some of the narrative devices are quite ingenious like Jared Vennett directly addressing the audience or using celebrities like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to explain the financial fundamentals especially of synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), the latter of which ironically taking place at a Blackjack table in Las Vegas.

The Big Short is an engaging, masculine portrayal of greed and power running unabated and the most frightening part about the story is that it is all true. The effects of the 2008 global financial meltdown are still being felt around the world in 2016.

Audiences should also look out for cameos by Melissa Leo and Marisa Tomei along with Rafe Spall (Life of Pi) and Hamish Linklater (Magic in the Moonlight). Unlike Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street or Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Adam McKay’s The Big Short does not glamourize greed but rather sheds light on how reckless and unchecked rampant capitalism has its pitfalls as the entire world was to find out in September 2008.

The scary part is that, these real life characters portrayed in The Big Short made money off the eventual collapse of a national housing market and some of the larger Banks got away with dishing out unsecured loans to unsuspecting home buyers simply by restructuring the debt packages.

The Big Short is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy financial films with edge, tenacity and an inventive style without resorting to profanity or decadence.

 

 

 

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