Posts Tagged ‘Gwendoline Christie’

Strengthening the Universe

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyongo’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Maria Tran

Looper director Rian Johnson draws significant parallels between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back even including such iconic characters as Yoda and featuring a substantial role for Luke Skywalker played again by Mark Hamill.

At two hours and 32 minutes Star Wars: The Last Jedi could have been cut by half an hour. Which is my only criticism. After all The Empire Strikes Back made in 1980 was just over two hours long.

While the second half of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is absolutely thrilling particularly the final battle sequence on a white salted mining planet complete with red earth reminiscent of the battle between the Empire and the rebels on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

The first half drags a little, particularly the Jedi scenes between the reclusive Luke Skywalker and Rey wonderfully played by Daisy Ridley, who is battling to grasp the extent of the force.

John Boyega reprises his role of Finn with the help of a feisty newcomer Rose wonderfully played by Kelly Maria Tran which should appeal  to a diverse audience which is exactly Disney’s cleverest marketing ploy since buying the rights to George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise and effectively reinventing the Galaxy and strengthening this cinematic universe.

Notable cameo’s include a superb performance by Oscar winner Benicio del Toro (Traffic) as DJ who certainly injects some life into the extremely long narrative especially when Finn and Grace meet him when they go in search of the elusive Master code breaker, a briefly glimpsed Justin Theroux, safely ensconced on a decadent casino resort planet, a vibrant episode in the film.

Another notable scene stealer is Oscar nominee Laura Dern (Rambling Rose) as Vice Admiral Holdo who frequently clashes with the bravado of flyboy Rebel poster pilot Poe Dameron wonderfully played again by Oscar Isaac.

The most poignant scenes are played by the late Carrie Fisher reprising her role for the last time as the iconic Princess Leia just wiser and with a more sensible hairstyle, guiding the resistance like a faded debutante. Look out for a nostalgic reunion scene between Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi delivers remarkably on the action front and director Rian Johnson should be particularly commended for also writing the screenplay, no easy feat considering the weight of the franchise and the expectations of the fans.

Yet despite the length, Johnson rises to the challenge and delivers an absorbing sci-fi epic which will satisfy the legions of Star Wars fans globally, judging by the record breaking opening weekend internationally of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is highly recommended viewing best to be experienced in true cinematic splendour with surround sound and some like minded companions. The film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

 

Living the Dream is the Best Revenge

Absolutely Fabulous

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Director: Mandie Fletcher

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Julia Sawahla, Gwendoline Christie, Kathy Burke, Celia Imrie, Robert Webb, Chris Colfer, Lily Cole, Kate Moss, Joan Collins, Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson

Living the dream is the best revenge sweetie darlings especially when you apparently kill supermodel and party waif Kate Moss. Yes Patsy and Edina are back!

Its director Mandie Fletcher’s full screen film version of the hit BBC TV series Absolutely Fabulous featuring the notorious Patsy superbly played by Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Edina based on a hilarious screenplay by Jennifer Saunders who plays her in the film.

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Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious, making lots of smart references to current and past British pop culture from celebrities (look out for guest appearances by Graham Norton, Suki Waterhouse), to Technology to Fashion. Set in London, Patsy and Edina find themselves fresh out of Bolly (Champagne, darlings) and realize that their credit cards have been cut up, an oblique reference to the global recession, so naturally they have to go out and earn a living.

Edina has written a book and Patsy is still apparently running a Fashion house although it’s actually the foul-mouthed and handbag flinging Magda, a brilliant and vicious cameo by veteran actress Kathy Burke, who is really calling the shots.

At a bizarre and incredibly oversubscribed launch party for some new Fashion House, Edina accidentally bumps Kate Moss into the icy Thames River and arch PR rival Claudia Bing, garishly played by Celia Imrie, lays the blame for the supermodels apparent demise on Edina and of course Patsy – it’s guilty by association, sweetie darlings! Audiences should look out for cameos by Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) and Joan Collins of Dynasty fame.

The London fashion world plunges into a media frenzy as everyone darlings, including the gay boys and Gwendoline Christie go into mourning. Edina is vilified on Twitter, she even complains to her straight laced daughter Saffy, wonderfully played by Julia Sawahla, that she is a pariah.

Saffy asks “Do you know what a pariah is mother?” Edina answers: “Yes darling it’s a fish”.

Even designer Stella McCartney throws a brick threw their Holland Park window, and then Patsy and Edina realize after much vodka and drugs, that its best to go on the run. To where sweetie darlings?

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Cannes, on the French Riviera where everyone is a foreign yet glamourous criminal. Naturally darlings! The second half of Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious. Soon the French police track the infamous pair down to a villa belonging to the wealthiest dowager on the Riviera.

Meanwhile back in London, French designer Jean-Paul Gautier is strolling by the Thames and who should emerge from the river, still looking gorgeous, Sauvignon Blanc in one hand and cigarette in the other?

Whilst Patsy and Edina constantly lose the plot, so does the film version of Absolutely Fabulous, but nevertheless it is still a hilarious fun-filled romp, paying homage to the successful and long running TV show which became a massive BBC hit.

Absolutely Fabulous is not everyone’s glass of Bolly darlings.

Like similar transformations of 30 minute hit TV series into 90 minute films namely Entourage and Sex and the City, Absolutely Fabulous, the movie will only really appeal to those that faithfully followed the TV series and are naturally knowledgeable about current British pop culture. Nevertheless, sweetie darlings, it’s still light hearted and bloody good fun!

 

Reconciling the Myth

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyongo’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels

Thematically set 30 years after The Return of the Jedi, director J. J. Abrams reconciles the myth of the original and iconic Star Wars Trilogy when he takes over as conceptualizer of the new Star Wars trilogy, given a touch task of remaining faithful to the original trilogy while introducing millennials to the original Star Wars iconography.

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In a genius casting move, Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings all the original cast members back from the first trilogy including Harrison Ford as Han Solo, the rarely seen Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and the illusive Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker along with all the lovable companion characters including Chewbacca, and of course the droids C3PO and R2D2, which made up the original Star Wars. Even the Millennium Falcon is revived, which is enough to satisfy the original fans. Believe me, there are a lot of fans out there!

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The new cast includes Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, a former Stormtrooper turned Rebel. The Empire so prominent in the original series has been replaced by a more sinister totalitarian regime called The First Order which includes the evil General Hux, played by Domnhall Gleeson (Brooklyn) and the conflicted Kylo Ren brilliantly played by Adam Driver. Oscar Isaac (Drive) stars as Poe Dameron an expert Rebel X-Wing fighter pilot who has hidden a hologram into his droid BB8 about the whereabouts of the mythical Luke Skywalker, the last remaining Jedi Knight.

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As the continuous action moves from outer space to distant planets, the first of which Jukka resembles Tattoine, the desert planet in the original Star Wars, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is visually captivating, with a vast and imaginative array of droids, monsters, bounty hunters and sinister forces all beautifully orchestrated to give what audiences came to see: An adventure story set in a Galaxy Far Far Away to the memorable music by John Williams.

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Oscar winner Lupita Nyongo’o (12 years a Slave) plays Maz Kanata an E.T. like creature sympathetic to the Rebel cause. The chemistry between the diverse cast is amazing and adds to the magic of The Force Awakens, most notably the newcomers Daisy Ridley as a scavenger Rey, whose own propensities for becoming a Jedi open all sorts of questions and British actor John Boyega as Finn who immediately establishes a rapport with the infamous Han Solo as well as Poe Dameron whom he rescues from a gigantic looking Death Star.

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The production design and visual effects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens are spectacular and Oscar worthy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is definitely for the fans of the original trilogy, the films directed by George Lucas which captured the imagination of a generation of boys and girls back in the late seventies and early eighties.

star_warsIf it’s any indication, I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back while on holiday in Atlanta, Georgia in America back in 1980 when it first premiered and The Return of the Jedi in 1983 in the old Embassy cinemas in central Durban.

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Judging by the packed cinema and the international media hype surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens will do exceptionally well at the Box Office and this new version is recommended to fans of pure science fiction and to all those who grew up on the original series. It’s comforting to know that American director J.J. Abrams who reignited the Star Trek franchise, now in partnership with Lucas Films and parent company Disney, plans on making two more Star Wars films to complete this new re-energized trilogy and introduce Millennials to a whole new universe of Star Wars characters.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is highly recommended viewing, brilliantly orchestrated by reconciling and paying tribute to the original mythical trilogy while seamlessly blending in an entire new batch of characters. May the Force be with us at least until 2019.

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