Posts Tagged ‘Glenn Close’

Behind the Facade

The Wife

Director: Bjorn Runge

Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close, Max Irons, Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern

Oscar nominee Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons) gives a highly nuanced performance as The Wife opposite Carrington star Jonathan Pryce in a film directed by Bjorn Runge.

Pryce plays acclaimed Connecticut based novelist Joe Castleman who receives news that he is to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature for his life’s work. Castleman is egotistical, vain and still relishing in the literary glory which is about to be bestowed upon him in the Swedish capital Stockholm.

Glenn Close is utterly brilliant as his wife Joan, a subtle performance which is stylish and challenging and proves that she is more than capable of acting opposite men that assume they are much bigger stars than she is.

Close should have won an Oscar years ago and is an exceptionally talented actress especially for her dynamic roles in Stephen Frears’ acclaimed French period drama Dangerous Liaisons (1989) opposite John Malkovich and later in Rodrigo Garcia’s superb 2011 film Albert Nobbs.

Opposite Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close revels in all the attention, particularly in the second half of The Wife, whereby the marital strains of a literary relationship unravel during a glittering European awards ceremony, revealing an extraordinary secret.

The Wife is a fascinating portrayal of glory bestowed upon a man that clearly does not deserve the accolade and a vengeful wife who is determined to expose her husband’s flaws without exposing the cracked marriage to their children, particularly their rebellious son David, wonderfully played by Max Irons, who is the son of Oscar winner Jeremy Irons.

Incidentally is quite ironic that Glenn Close who acted opposite Jeremy Irons when he portrayed Claus von Bulow in director Barbet Schroeder’s fabulous 1990 film Reversal of Fortune, a performance which won him an Oscar, is now acting opposite his son Max.

Audiences should look out for brief cameos by Oscar nominee Elizabeth McGovern (Ragtime), who more recently appeared in the hit BBC show Downton Abbey penned by Julian Fellowes and Christian Slater as a persistent journalist who is determined to uncover the truth about Joe Castleman’s literary legacy.

The Wife is a complex portrayal of a marriage unravelling at the critical point when the couple should be solidifying their lifetime achievements.

The Wife gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing.

Parental Misguidance

Father Figures

Director: Lawrence Sher

Cast: Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, Ving Rhames, J. K. Simmons, Christopher Walken, June Squibb, Kat Williams, Ryan Cartwright and Ryan Gaul

Considering how packed the cinema was on a Sunday afternoon, one would have expected Father Figures to be a really funny family comedy.

Unfortunately, first time director Lawrence Sher’s Father Figures is very lightweight and not nearly as hilarious as such classic films as The Hangover despite pairing Owen Wilson and Ed Helms together as non-identical twins who go on a quest from Columbus, Ohio via Miami to upstate New York in search of who their biological father really was.

As brothers, Peter and Kyle Reynolds they couldn’t be more different.

Dr Peter Reynolds is a conservative surgeon who has to contend with a failed marriage and a teenage son who doesn’t communicate with him. Ed Helms (The Hangover) plays Peter Reynolds perfectly while Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris, The Internship) plays the blonde Hawaiian Kyle Reynolds who supposedly made his fortune off a BBQ sauce recipe and is now chilling back living off the imagined royalties.

The premise for the two brothers to go on a trans-America road trip is when their mother Helen, a briefly seen Glenn Close, whose presence in the film adds some credence to the otherwise inane plot of Father Figures. Maybe the Oscar nominated star of Dangerous Liaisons and Albert Nobbs decidedly to play comedy for a change.

Although it is wonderful to see Glenn Close on screen in a maternal role especially to two forty something men who are desperate to discover who their biological father is.

What follows is a episodic journey around America whereby Peter and Kyle get to know each other as well as an assortment of fatherly figures ranging from the shady con-man Roland Hunt played by Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) who is still living with his own mother played by Oscar nominee June Squibb (Nebraska) to veterinary doctor Dr Walter Tinkler played by Oscar winner Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter).

Kyle and Peter also land up on a train track with an unsuspecting hitchhiker played by Katt Williams as well as being caught up in a family brawl with Irish brothers Liam and Sean O’Callaghan played by Ryan Cartwright and Ryan Gaul.

Despite, the acting talent and the normally funny Ed Helms and Owen Wilson, Father Figures fails to lift off as a truly believable story – the only relatable part was the constant sibling rivalry between brothers and genuine conflict which ensues.

Father Figures is an extremely lightweight comedy which doesn’t take itself or the characters too seriously. The film gets a rating of 5.5 out of 10. Recommended for audiences that enjoy low brow jokes and some contrived comic situations which do not come across as original or particularly witty but are merely inserted into the plot to create some generated and thoughtless laughs.

Saving Azeroth

Warcraft

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Director: Duncan Jones

Cast: Travis Fimmel, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Toby Kebbell, Daniel Wu, Ben Schnetzer, Glenn Close, Anna Galvin, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Ruth Negga

Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones who incidentally is the son of the late pop icon David Bowie takes on a big budget action fantasy in the highly anticipated Warcraft featuring some dazzling motion capture technology which even gives Dawn of the Planet of the Apes credible competition.

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Featuring an all-star cast including the roguishly handsome Travis Fimmel of Vikings TV fame as Anduin Lothar, warrior of the fictional world of Azeroth who has to contend with the orc’s arriving en masse from their dying world of Draenor through a visually spectacular portal which causes worlds to collide.

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On the orcs side, Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Plant of the Apes), plays Durotan who soon realizes that the orcs mission is doomed to fail and Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) plays Garona a conflicted and gorgeous looking half orc, half human who becomes a prisoner of the Azeroth warriors.

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On the human side, there is the dashing Dominic Cooper (The Duchess, Devil’s Double) as King Llane Wrynn and the brilliant Ben Foster (Kill Your Darlings, The Finest Hours) as the mercurial magical protector Medivh who are all tasked with protecting Stormwind Keep from the invading Orcs and their malevolent leader.

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Ben Schnetzer (The Riot Club, The Book Thief) pops up as a gifted young wizard named Khadgar who assists in protecting Stormwind Keep while discovering the significant source of the Orc invasion in Azeroth. Audiences should also watch out for a brief uncredited appearance by Glenn Close.

Based upon a series of extremely popular real time strategy computer games created by Blizzard entertainment, Warcraft is a superbly produced, visually spectacular fantasy film catering to a wide audience including those that are not even familiar with the apparently addictive and highly entertaining PC games which opened up entire realms of imagination.

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As the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor collide, there are epic battle scenes, visually impressive fight sequences and a twist in this fantasy drama which is enough to even cater for hard core Game of Thrones fans. Warcraft is surprisingly brilliant, a superbly directed epic fantasy which is sure to attract a loyal fan base especially if there are sequels in the pipeline.

Highly recommended viewing for those that relish the world of fantasy and the eternal battle between good and evil in whatever form it takes, both beautiful and hideous.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warcraft

 

Foreign Liaisons

5 to 7

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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.

 

 

 

Gamora and the Infinity Stones

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, Lee Pace, Brad Cooper, Dave Bautista, John C. Reilly

Marvel’s sci fi action adventure Guardians of the Galaxy is like Star Wars on acid with an exceptionally cool soundtrack, featuring some 70’s and 80’s classics. Part comedy, part adventure, director James Gunn successfully mixes comic adventure with intergalactic chaos and mischief.

Featuring a suitably toned down Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty) superbly cast as rebel Starlord, Peter Quinn who while rummaging on an abandoned planet discovers a mysterious orb which soon elicits a whole bunch of ragtag and riotious characters from all corners of the Galaxy as they race to claim the orb for themselves. The Guardians of the Galaxy featuring the amiable and funny Peter Quinn with some serious mommy issues, along with green skinned Gamora, played by Avatar star Zoe Saldana along with a talking racoon (yes you read that right) voiced by Bradley Cooper and a walking tree, with a severely limited vocabulary, voiced by Vin Diesel.

Guardians of the Galaxy is psychedelic sci-fi and not visionary like Elysium or Blade Runner, making no attempts to conceal its main target audience – teenage boys who have followed the comic book series of the same name. The film even retains a comic book feel and with some exceptionally interesting visual effects, Guardians certainly does make use of its 3D appeal.

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This is like Star Wars on LSD for a younger generation, but hugely enjoyable, thanks to the casting of comic actor Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldanha as Gamora, who are both after the powerful and illustrious infinity stones, which they soon hand over to the Collector, a wonderful cameo by Benicio del Toro, who was also seen in the closing credits of Thor: The Dark World.

Veteran actress Glenn Close (101 Dalmations) makes a camped up appearance as Prime Nova, a cipher of her Cruella de Ville character along with John C. Reilly and Djimon Hounsou of Blood Diamond fame.

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Lee Pace plays the evil Ronan who with his extraordinary makeup and pharaoh like costume is hellbent on destroying the Universe along with his adopted daughter Nebula played by Karen Gillian. Naturally the ragtag bunch of Guardians band together and fight the onslaught of the Kree against the fabulous planet Xander, which looks like Dubai on steroids.

Guardians of the Galaxy must have been a massive hit at San Diego’s Comicon and it’s not difficult to see why, humour mixed with romance, good versus evil all enveloped in a wildly over the top action adventure which makes the first Star Wars positively tame. Except that Star Wars was a classic and this sci-fi is not aiming to be anything more than merely fun and amusing much like the comics the story is based on. Marvel definitely got the concept right.

Recommended viewing for geek freaks and not to serious sci-fi fans, making Guardians definitely fall into the frivolous popcorn fodder category. Hugely enjoyable, with lots of implied moral messages, but this film does not aspire to be Alphonso Cuaron’s Gravity, this is Guardians of the Galaxy featuring Gamora and the infinity stones! Besides who can take this film seriously when there is a talking racoon and a tree in it?

 

Dublin Dreams Disguised

Albert Nobbs

We are all disguised as ourselves

We are all disguised as ourselves

Directed by Rodrigo Garcia (son of Colombian Magic Realist author Gabriel Garcia Marquez) the extraordinary film Albert Nobbs see Glenn Close play the title role along with an equally impressive performance by Janet McTeer as the mysterious painter Hubert Page. Both Glenn Close and Janet McTeer give startlingly brilliant performances as Nobbs and Page respectively and deservedly garnered a 2012 Oscar nomination for Best Actress for Close and Supporting Actress for McTeer.

The central tenet of Albert Nobbs is that of woman being disguised as men so that they can survive economically in 19th century Ireland and is set in the plush Dublin hotel Morrison’s with Mrs Baker being the hotel owner, played with a dramatic panache by Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine). Nobbs as a waiter has aspirations of owning his own tobacconist shop and when he meets the brash painter Mr Page who show him that despite their disguise, they can achieve their dreams. Mr Page even shares a home with his ‘wife’ Kathleen and shows Nobbs that the possibilities are endlessly disguised.

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At a time when homosexuality was reviled and Oscar Wilde would soon be sentenced to two years hard labour in 1895 for sodomy after the public exposure of his affair with Lord Alfred `Bosie’ Douglas by Bosie’s father the vile Marques of Queensberry as elegantly told in the 1997 film Wilde, Albert Nobbs shows a different side of homosexuality, lesbian women who cannot be themselves financially, sexually and socially especially in 19th century Europe and have to disguise themselves as men in order to survive.

All the extraordinary complex relationships which the Morrison’s Hotel have are gradually revealed as the film progresses and even the one so called traditional relationship between Helen, the Hotel maid played by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids are Alright, Jane Eyre) who falls for the charms of the rough boiler maker Joe played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson(Anna Karenina, Savages) is steeped in deceit and disloyalty. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers makes a brief appearance as Viscount Yarrell whose preferences when staying at Morrison’s is for inter leading doors to his male lover in the adjoining suite.

At the centre of Albert Nobbs, director Garcia really emphasizes the plight of women, whether they are abandoned by an ambitious lover after becoming pregnant or having to disguise themselves as men to survive financially in a patriarchal society which stifled any form of female freedom, not to mention lesbian women who have to hide their homosexuality behind a mask of conformity even if that means dressing as a man.

Albert Nobbs is a brilliantly told film featuring a superb performance by the ever versatile Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons) as a gaunt and cautious waiter saving up his pennies to one day fulfil his dreams, and how those dreams through a series of events are tragically thwarted leaving a rather unusual scenario by the films close. This is an exceptional and thought-provoking period film, commenting not just on the period of the late 19th century but on the costumes which define the characters and the disguises people hide behind in order to survive and how those disguises define who they are.

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