Posts Tagged ‘Frank Langella’

The Radical Left

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Michael Keaton, Ben Shenkman, Alex Sharp, John Carroll Lynch

Pacifists, Hippies and Black Panthers converge on Chicago in the summer of 1968 during the Democratic National Convention and are confronted by the police and naturally riots break out. Are the police to blame? Are the protesters to blame? It is the summer of love, anti-Vietnam protests and significant social upheaval worldwide.

This is the premise of West Wing and The Social Network Oscar winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s new film in which he directed and wrote. The Trail of the Chicago 7 was originally set for a theatrical release in October 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, Paramount sold the rights to the streaming giant Netflix for a cool $56 million dollars. Which explains the reason why this great film can only be found on Netflix when in fact it was best suited to a proper cinematic release.

Especially with Sorkin’s witty dialogue and his fantastic cast that he managed to assemble for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

The cast includes Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as liberal pacifist and anti-war activist Tom Hayden, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) as defence attorney William Kunstler, Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as the non-nonsense but bigoted judge Julius Hoffman, Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (Succession) as hippie Jerry Rubin and a stand out performance by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as the fast talking defiant hippie leader Abbie Hoffman.

Also in the cast are John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Panther leader Bobby Seale who also got charged along with the original seven for incitement to start a riot and public disturbance.

While the first half of Aaron Sorkin’s film is confusing and needs to be anchored, the second half is brilliant as he clearly shows you what actually happens even if as a screenwriter he does get historically creative with the real facts.

Speaking of the real facts, as a viewer it is best to look up the actual story of the Trial of the Chicago 7 and the context in which the riot occurred. As Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Abbie Hofmann so eloquently says, “Everyone was in the Haymarket Tavern at the Chicago Hilton like the Sixties never happened until it came crashing through the window.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a great film, very dialogue heavy but it stands together through some superb ensemble acting especially from Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the prosecuting attorney Richard Schultz and a fine performance by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale who actually lands up getting bound and gagged in an American courtroom.

Nominated for 5 Golden Globes in 2021 including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Song, Best Supporting Actor for Sacha Baron Cohen and Best Screenplay, Catch The Trial of the Chicago 7 now on Netflix. This courtroom drama gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Foreign Liaisons

5 to 7

five_to_seven

Director: Victor Levin

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Berenice Marlohe, Glenn Close, Frank Langella, Olivia Thirlby

Written and directed by Victor Levin, 5 to 7 is a charming romantic drama set in New York in spring time. Anton Yelchin plays lonely and struggling writer Brian Bloom who one Friday casually offers a beautiful woman a light for a cigarette outside a swish Manhattan restaurant. The lady in question is the gorgeous former Bond girl, French actress Berenice Marlohe (Skyfall), who plays a diplomats young wife, Arielle.

Soon Bloom is captivated by Arielle and she informs him that they can only see each other between 5 to 7pm in the evening. Surprisingly, Arielle’s husband Valery is played by Lambert Wilson and he even acknowledges his wife’s much younger lover. As the relationship develops so does their cultural exploration of each other’s different background, with Levin frequently comparing the best of French culture with the worst of American culture.

Apparently in French society extramarital affairs are the norm as long as the respective mistresses and lovers obey the rules laid down before them. In Bloom and Arielle’s case this is a 2hour gap mainly in which they take in some of New York’s most beautiful sites including the Guggenheim Museum and Central Park along with some elegant Manhattan hotels including The St Regis and The Carlyle.

Arielle is taken to meet Bloom’s doting parents expertly played by Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons, Meeting Venus) and Frank Langella (Frost/ Nixon, Grace of Monaco) who are slightly exasperated by their son’s romantic entanglement. Bloom, wonderfully played by Anton Yelchin even seeks the advice of Valery’s American mistress Jane played with tenacity by Olivia Thirlby (Juno, Dredd and No Strings Attached).

As this romance runs its course, Bloom soon matures into an established writer after one of his short stories is selected for the prestigious literary magazine The New Yorker.

Arielle naturally becomes Bloom’s writing muse and once the relationship starts to fade, he is forced to move on with a sort of nostalgic complicity which forces him to write his great novel, entitled The Mermaid.

5 to 7 is a charming Audrey Hepburn style romance seldom seen onscreen these days and more significantly is a sophisticated cinematic tribute to New York itself, which as a city has been the setting for many great romances including Autumn in New York and One Fine Day. Highly recommended viewing, intelligently written and beautifully acted. A rare cinematic treat to be cherished as much as the delights of the Big Apple itself.

 

 

 

A Heartless Kingdom

Grace of Monaco

grace_of_monaco_ver2

Director: Olivier Dahan

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Paz Vega, Frank Langella, Robert Lindsay, Parker Posey, Milo Ventimiglia, Derek Jacobi, Robert Lindsay, Roger Asthon-Griffiths, Geraldine Somerville, Nicholas Farrell

French director Olivier Dahan who directed Marion Cotillard to an Oscar win in La Vie en Rose about the life of Edith Piaf, turns his focus on the more glamourous life of Princess Grace of Monaco, better known as Oscar Winner Grace Kelly who at the age of 26 turned her back on Hollywood and married Prince Rainer of Monaco and soon become embroiled in the politics of that luxurious principality on the edge of the French Riveira. Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) returns to a more accessible role as the gorgeous Grace of Monaco after appearing in several darker films including Stoker and Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy. Kidman’s utter versatility as an actress is clearly evident in this fabulous often sensitive portrayal of Grace Kelly in the transitional years soon after her marriage into the House of Grimaldi and her reluctant turn away from lucrative Hollywood roles including the lead in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Marnie, a role which eventually went to Tippi Hedren who starred opposite Sean Connery.

Marnie

Instead in the tumultuous years of the early 1960’s with France threatening Monaco’s sovereignty, Grace Kelly decides to play the more difficult role of a Princess, one who certainly captured the hearts of the French, Americans and the Monagasque. Princess Grace and her erratic Prince Ranier underplayed by Tim Roth, mix with a very wealthy set in the late summer of 1961 including Greek Shipping Tycoon Aristotle Onassis played by Robert Lindsay and his girlfriend opera diva and celebrated Greek soprano Maria Callas, a wonderful turn by Spanish actress Paz Vega (Spanglish), while adjusting to the rigid formality of becoming a European princess. In the especially well-scripted scenes between Grace and her Palace confidant Father Francis Tucker superbly played by Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) who describes the House of Grimaldi as a heartless kingdom.

Soon Grace Kelly has to transform into the luminous and sumptuous Grace of Monaco a dazzling if heartbreaking transformation which director Olivier Dahan emphasizes in every extreme close up shot of Kidman’s gorgeous yet conflicted face. Her intelligent eyes peaking out from a veneer of diplomacy and unhappiness, conveying the depth of an actress who has traded the thrilling life of a film star for the more elegant yet equally scrutinized life of the Princess of Monaco. Grace of Monaco’s legacy is undeniable and this film is out to prove that especially as it recently opened the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Nicole Kidman’s performance is flawless and while the rest of the tale of Grace of Monaco borders more on sentimentality than substance, it is still a stylish and enjoyable film which carefully blends the glamour of Hollywood with the legacy of old fashioned European tradition.

Grace Kelly's Oscar winning role in The Country Girl

Grace Kelly’s Oscar winning role in The Country Girl

Whilst Monaco now has cemented itself a tax haven for the super rich, a reason why Onassis was initially so interested in maintaining  its sovereignty and the source of the enchanted principality much publicized pending conflict with France, back in the summer of 1961, Grace of Monaco‘s skewers the political agreements reached at that time in favour of the charm of the new and practical American actress who become a princess and her increasing involvement with the International Red Cross.

The politics might be questionable in Grace of Monaco, but Kidman’s superb portrayal of this iconic film star turned princess is pivotal to this charming film’s sumptuous appeal. American indie actress Parker Posey stars as Madge Tivey-Faucon the secretive private secretary to the princess along with Milo Ventimiglia as the dashing press secretary Rupert Alan and Shakespearen actor Derek Jacobi’s flamboyant turn as Count Fernando d’Aillieres, Grace’s etiquette coach.

Audiences that loved films like My Week with Marilyn, The Queen and The Aviator will certainly enjoy Grace of Monaco although this film is by no means in that league in terms of script and overall conception. An enjoyable if not too short cinematic outing nevertheless, Grace of Monaco could have added more substance to the thinly plotted storyline, but that was not Dahan’s intention, which remains an incomparable film to his previous success of La Vie en Rose.

 

 

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