Posts Tagged ‘Hugh Jackman’

Celebration of Humanity

The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Paul Sparks, Sam Humphrey

Set in the Victorian age, director Michael Gracey’s exuberant and brilliant film, The Greatest Showman is an outstanding musical inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.

Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) gives an inspiring performance as circus founder P.T. Barnum whose poverty stricken childhood stoked his ambitions to make something of his life. Barnum meets the wealthy Charity wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn, Manchester by the Sea).

Audiences should go into The Greatest Showman expecting superb musical numbers similar to Damien Chazelle’s La La Land without the contemporary Hollywood twist.

Barnum soon collects a host of freaks and outcasts to star in the Greatest show ranging from the Bearded Lady wonderfully played by Keala Settle to a Napoleonic dwarf played by Sam Humphrey, all the time justifying his curious show to outspoken critic James Bennett played by Paul Sparks from the Netflix series House of Cards.

To add credibility to the motley crew of performers, Barnum persuades the aristocratic and dashing Philip Carlyle wonderfully played against type by the blue eyed Zac Efron (The Paperboy) to join him as a junior partner in the entertainment business relinquishing Carlyle’s chance of a massive inheritance.

Soon the Barnum entourage are invited to visit Queen Victoria where Barnum meets the dazzling Swedish Opera singer Jenny Lind superbly played by Rebecca Ferguson, who I am glad to see is displaying her electrifying singing talents in The Greatest Showman and certainly makes an eye catching onscreen debut in the opening number in the New York performance scene.

The Greatest Showman is a wonderful musical featuring crisp cinematography by Oscar nominated cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, Anna Karenina).

When the narrative needs some dazzling pace, the characters break out into song and audiences that enjoyed some of the best onscreen musicals including Rob Marshall’s Chicago and Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, will love The Greatest Showman.

The Greatest Showman gets a film rating of 9 out 10 and is highly recommended viewing. Let’s see how this musical fares at the upcoming 2018 Awards Season.

The Great Western Claw Slinger


Director: James Mangold

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elizabeth Rodriguez

Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) has become synonymous with the role of the mutant Wolverine since Bryan Singer’s first film The X Men back in 2000. Now seventeen years later, Jackman reprises his role in director James Mangold’s cleverly titled Logan a sort of follow up to The Wolverine back in 2013.

The year is 2029 and there appears to be an absence of mutants on Earth, an arid planet ravaged by decades of global warming. Mangold who directed the tense Western 3:10 to Yuma seamlessly blends frontier mythology into Logan right from the beginning as audiences first see Logan aka The Wolverine in El Paso, Texas as a washed up middle aged Uber limo driver, all hairy and hard to like.

Logan is taking care of a frail and delusional yet still powerful Charles Xavier, a brilliant performance by Patrick Stewart, who has reprised his role in most of the X-Men movies.

Xavier keeps telling Logan that there is still one more powerful mutant out there. In a desperate call for help, Logan gets called to the shady motel room of Mexican immigrant Gabriela played by Orange is the New Black star Elizabeth Rodriguez who pleads with him to take the mysterious young girl Laura wonderfully played with an immense screen intensity by newcomer Dafne Keen to Canada for safety.

Soon X-Men adversary Donald Pierce and his band of nefarious gang members appear intent on hunting and killing Laura. Pierce, played by Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl, The Skeleton Twins) is actually the henchman of mastermind Dr Rice wonderfully played by Richard E. Grant (Jackie, The Iron Lady) who unbeknownst to anyone has been harvesting mutant children in a dodgy clinic in Mexico City.

As Logan, Laura and Xavier head off across country from El Paso through to Oklahoma City, screenwriters Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green turn Logan into a Neo-Western road film, a more gritty adventure even referencing some classic Western films like director George Stevens 1953 film Shane and unlike the more CGI orientated X-Men films, Logan is more violent, nostalgic and resonates with a more mature audience. That predominately male audience is presumably the same viewers that started following The X-Men films back in 2000.

Jackman is suitably tough, menacing and conflicted as Logan and Dafne Keen who swops between Spanish and English is wonderful as the bratty teenage mutant, but what really gives Logan that gravitas is Patrick Stewart’s superbly dry performance as Xavier, once head of the school for mutants, but now a bitter and twisted old man being hunted by some evil cloners.

Logan is highly enjoyable and delivers on the action front with some stunning and violent action sequences especially in the first half of the film. However, the last quarter of the film could have been edited for dramatic effect despite the surprisingly poignant ending.

Walk the Line director James Mangold’s Logan gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10. Ultimately, the return of the hairy man aka The Wolverine has past his macho prime, yet his ferocious decline is highly entertaining viewing.


Dreams of an Olympian

Eddie the Eagle


Director: Dexter Fletcher

Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken, Jim Broadbent, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Rune Temte, Edvin Endre

Taron Egerton has really grown onscreen after the success of director Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service in 2015.

Now the young British actor, who was also one of the nominees for the 2016 BAFTA rising star awards, has appeared opposite Tom Hardy in Legend and Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) in Testament of Youth.

Egerton holds his own as the titular hero in director Dexter Fletcher’s humourous sports comedy, Eddie the Eagle, where he plays the hopeful and slightly gawky Eddie Edwards.

Back in the Eighties, Eddie Edwards was a young British ski jumper, who against all odds and the advice of the British Olympic committee, went on to compete in the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary and despite the setbacks managed to even garner some Olympic medals by following his constant dream of one day becoming an Olympian.

Actor and director Dexter Fletcher’s film, Eddie the Eagle is a cool, coming of age sports story about the underdog, who despite his parents protests, decides that he is going to Garmisch in Germany to compete in the European ski jumping circuit. Fletcher’s previous efforts as a director have included the heart warming Scottish film, Sunshine on Leith.

In Germany Eddie befriends the rambunctious ex ski-jumper, now snow plougher and heavy drinking Bronson Peary wonderfully played by Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), who soon mentors Eddie into fulfilling his dream.

The majority of Eddie the Eagle is set in the Alpine slopes of Western Europe from Germany to Austria and Switzerland as Eddie and Bronson train to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

However Eddie’s quirky character, which he displays after completing the 70m ski jump, soon catches the attention of the sports press and his antics during competing soon earn him the nickname, Eddie the Eagle, by a sports commentator played by Jim Broadbent.


The film belongs to Taron Egerton who superbly inhabits the role of Eddie and the rapport between Egerton and Jackman is delightful. Notable cameo’s include Oscar winner Christopher Walken as the omniscient Warren Sharp, Bronson‘s former coach who has written a bestseller about becoming a successful ski jumper and also Oscar winner Broadbent as the British Olympic sports announcer who spurs Eddie on despite the competition from within his own team.

Eddie the Eagle also stars British actors Keith Allen (Trainspotting) and Jo Hartley as Eddie’s long suffering parents, Terry and Janette. Audiences should watch out for Norwegian actor Rune Temte, last seen in the historical TV series The Last Kingdom as Bjorn the coach of the Norwegian ski jumping team as well as Swedish actor Edvin Endre, last seen in Vikings, playing Matti, The Flying Finn who proves to be Eddie’s inspirational opponent.

Eddie the Eagle is a highly inventive sports comedy, a feel good reach for an Olympic dream sort of tale, which proves that persistence, courage and determination really does pay off. Highly recommended viewing.

Source: The real story of Eddie the Eagle


70th Golden Globe Awards

70th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 13th  January 2013 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:


Best Film Drama – Argo

Best Director: Ben Affleck – Argo


Best Film Musical or Comedy – Les Miserables


Best Actor Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln


Best Actress Drama: Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty


Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook


Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained


Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables


Best Foreign Language Film: Amour (France)


Mutant Time Travel Fantasy

X-Men: Days of Future Past


Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Peter Dinklage, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Karine Vanasse, Evan Peters, Josh Helman

Which director could resist bringing such a fabulous a-list cast together in one film?

Naturally the original X-Men director Bryan Singer who takes this huge cinematic opportunity to reboot the X-Men franchise and include the original cast members in a mutant time travel fantasy which sees Wolverine, Storm, Raven and Magneto and Professor Xavier battling literally against time in a war to save the mutants from utter destruction at the hands of evil humans, represented by none other than Dr Bolivar Trask, wonderfully played by Peter Dinklage, whose star is clearly rising after the phenomenal success of the allegorical revenge fantasy series Game of Thrones.


Set between 1973 and presumably the present day of 2013, so a forty year time span, the original X-Men including Magneto and Professor Xavier played by Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart send Wolverine aka Logan back forty years to confront a younger version of themselves and change a pivotal moment in history, the capture of the uniquely chameleon Raven played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence from being captured by the duplicitious Trask. Wolverine with all the braun and charm of the original series gamely played by Hugh Jackman confronts a younger Xavier (a wonderful turn by James McAvoy) and convinces him to set Magneto free from a metal less prison in the heart of the Pentagon in Washington D. C.


In a spell bounding special effects sequence, Xavier, Beast and Wolverine with the able assistance of Quiksilver played with charm by Evan Peters free the unpredictable Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto and together they go in search of Raven/Mystique as she infiltrates a Vietnamese peace signing ceremony in Paris in 1973 in a bid to assassinate the formidable weapons specialist Dr Bolivar Trask who is hellbent on obliterating all mutants with new Transformeresque type machines known as the Sentinels.


The rest of the action packed hugely spectacular X-Men Days of Future Past is a time travel mutant orgy in the same vein as Marvel’s film The Avengers was with a bunch of superheroes coming together to battle the evil Loki. The cast is just as spectacular and director Singer gives as much screen time as possible to the prolific actors as well as to the lesser cast members but its his lingering cinematic gaze on the gorgeous male cast including Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) as Beast, Michael Fassbender (Shame) as Erik, James McAvoy (Atonement) as a younger Xavier that gives this superhero mutant fantasy a distinctly homoerotic quality seldom seen in other superhero films.


By their nature superheroes are slightly narcissistic (look at Man of Steel, Batman, Iron Man) but especially so in X-Men Days of Future Past. The female superheroes in this film pale in comparison to their attention grabbing male counterparts with director Singer even giving Wolverine a nude scene as he wakes up in a New York apartment overlooking Time Square in the swinging seventies.

Ultimately, X-Men Days of Future Past is a Hollywood vehicle to reboot the old X-Men franchise and breath fresh life into the cast of the younger selves seen in X-Men: First Class. The film is wonderfully retro in parts and adds to the glamour of recreating the 1970’s on screen with Fassbender and McAvoy looking particularly fetching as the younger Magneto and Xavier. Gone are all the dark overtones of the earlier X-Men films and in this invigorated version, all the mutants look glossy, stylized and supremely accessible. This is a Hollywood blockbuster not just for its multitude of stars but also for the riveting special effects, never mind the convoluted narrative. A must see film for all fans of the X-Men movies and those that follow such commercial gloss with vigour.



Trapped in Suburbia



Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, David Dastmalchian

French Canadian director of Foreign language film nominee Incendies Denis Villeneuve weaves a web of intrigue in the deeply disturbing suburban thriller Prisoners extracting a brilliant performance by his two central male leads, Oscar Nominees Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) set in a wintry landscape of Pennsylvania.

Prisoners bleak story revolves around two average American families (the Dovers and the Birches) whose daughters are best friends and after a relaxing Thanksgiving lunch, the girls are playing in the street where they are snatched in mysterious circumstances. The parents of the missing girls Keller Dover and his wife Grace played by Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello and the Birches played by Terrence Howard (Dead Man Down) and Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help) are naturally beside themselves with grief and worry.

In steps the local police Detective Loki, a superb performance by Jake Gyllenhaal who goes on a desperate mission to unravel the mystery of these vanished children, uncovering a whole web of secrets in the closely knitted Pennsylvanian community. The first suspect is the shy Alex Jones, wonderfully played by Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks, There will be Blood) who was parked in a RV that the abducted girls were playing on moments before they went missing, but upon questioning turns out to have a seemingly limited intelligence, covering up an even darker secret.

To complicate the investigation even further the fathers of the missing girls Keller Dover and Franklin Birch capture the scared Alex Jones soon after he is released from police custody and then start torturing him as a prisoner in an abandoned apartment convinced that he knows what happened to the little girls. Detective Loki is meanwhile hot on the trial of another suspect Bob Taylor played by David Dastmalchian, who has a penchant for buying children’s clothes at the local Valuemart.

Prisoners is a disturbing tale of how far a father will go to find his lost daughter and the also the ramifications that an abduction can have on a small town community. This is a disturbing film, slightly depressing as most of it is shot against a slate grey sky of an approaching Pennsylvania winter, but fortunately director Villeneuve has assembled a top notch cast including Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) as Alex Jones’s mysterious aunt Holly Jones.

Viewers have to concentrate in this film as the narrative drops clues all the time about who the real culprit is and as the tension mounts a disturbing twist is revealed whereby the hunter becomes the prey, an analogy first introduced in the opening shot when the ultra prepared and slightly neurotic Keller Dover, a wonderfully different performance by Hugh Jackman is teaching his teenage son Ralph how to hunt deer.

Prisoners only crime is that the riveting, yet gap filled narrative could have been more tightly written by screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski and certain scenes definitely required some crisp editing  to make the emotional resonance of the film more astounding.

Prisoners runs for 153 minutes which is fairly long for a suspense drama about child abduction in a murky and seemingly soulless American suburbia. If film goers enjoyed the Oscar winning Mystic River then Prisoners is that type of film although not as good. Disturbing, compelling and scary, Prisoners will take viewers into a maze of intrigue…

Intimacy without Intricacy


deception Poster

The 2008 film Deception is a subtle psycho-sexual thriller, directed by Marcel Langenegger set in the corporate world of New York City, starring Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams interweaving themes of illicit anonymous dating, with identity theft and corporate money laundering.

It is by no means a particularly bold film, but will nevertheless keep the viewer entertained with a sinister love triangle that is hinted at between McGregor, Jackman and Williams’s characters as they enter into a series of deceptive encounters and sexual intrigues stretching from New York to Madrid surrounding a corporate dating agency called the List, which promises the hard-working corporate clients late-night hook-ups with anonymous respondents. No names, no conversations, just murky and unquestionable sexual desire being completely gratified.


Charlotte Rampling, the queen of psycho-sexual thrillers, so disturbingly good in such movies as Swimming Pool and Basic Instinct 2, makes a far too brief appearance as one of Ewan McGregor’s first encounters, who tells his character Jonathan McQuarry, that anonymous dating provides the clients with intimacy without the intricacy.

As the film progresses first impressions are ultimately deceiving and the shadowy midnight world of corporate sexual encounters develops into a far more sinister tale of murder and international financial embezzlement. All the scenes in New York City are mostly shot at night, with locations in bleak office buildings, pale apartments, dingy subway stations or dimly lit hotel bars and bedrooms. McGregor’s character McQuarry transforms from a dull introverted external auditor to a cunning and resourceful anti-hero.

With hints of the 1980’s classic thriller Bad Influence and the more recent film with Jennifer Anniston and Clive Owen Derailed, Deception is certainly not an original story, but its fascinating film noir qualities combined with themes of sexual intrigue, and the undertones of corporate power and identity make the film a worthy cinematic visit. By the end, you won’t want to trust that casual acquaintance you have made at work or indulge in any seemingly anonymous sexual activities. Deception definitely and darkly reveals that in most cases intimacy without the intricacy is really an illusion.


Sumptuous Misery

Les Miserables


Watching Tom Hooper’s sumptuous film version of Les Miserables, I felt like I was back in a Theatre in London’s West End witnessing the spectacular musical which has been a hit in both the West End and Broadway for decades. Director Hooper’s insistence that all the actors sing every song and not do any lip-syncing pays off making Les Miserables a magnificent emotionally charged film never straying far from the theatrical version. See Les Miserables on the biggest cinema screen available and with all the brilliant Dolby surround sound and viewers will experience the true beauty of such  ambitious musical theatricality.

From the Oscar-winning director of the King’s Speech, this film version of Les Miserables was in brilliant hands and he has chosen a superb cast to star in the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s early 19th century novel about the perils and poverty brought on in France as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.  Not since Rob Marshall’s stunning cinematic version of Chicago, have I enjoyed a film version of a West End musical so much.



Hugh Jackman who is no stranger to Broadway is perfectly cast as the embittered reformed thief Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway is superb as the tragic Fantine, a seamstress who turns to prostitution to survive and protect her daughter Cosette from impoverishment. Both Hathaway and  Jackman have deservedly won 2013 Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Actor in a musical or comedy. Hooper shoots all the great songs of Les Miserables close up capturing the raw emotion of the actors turned singers as they perform I Dreamed a Dream, Master of the House and Suddenly.



Les Miserables is big on emotion, epic in scale especially the production design and the faithful early 19th century costumes and director Hooper has skilfully managed to create the perfect blend of romance, sorrow, heroism and injustice, painting a distinctly French cinematic canvas enough to make Victor Hugo proud. Rising British star Eddie Redmayne last seen opposite Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn and Amanda Seyfried are gorgeous as the young lovers:  the revolutionary Marius and the demure yet mature Cosette.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen provide some comic relief amidst all this sumptuous misery as the scheming tavern owners out to deceive Valjean. Oscar Winner Russell Crowe plays Javert the treacherous constable out to finally catch up with the ever illusive Valjean.



With a brilliant score by Claude-Michel Schonberg and expert direction by Tom Hooper, Les Miserables is a must see for any musical lover and is breathtaking in its scope, brutality and visual imagery especially the rousing depiction of the 1832 Paris uprisings. All the cast are perfect and it’s no wonder that the film has received such critical acclaim so far.

For those that are unsure of seeing a two and a half hour film of Les Miserables, I never looked at my watch once, being completely enthralled in this gorgeous, emotional and spectacular cinematic masterpiece, successfully bringing the theatricality of a West End musical to the Big Screen. Highly Recommended!

Return of the Hairy Man…

Return of the Hairy Man: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation and Zack and Miri make a Porno…

So in these time of global economic gloom, a clean-shaven, metrosexual is not your saviour. Besides all these good-looking, well-dressed beautifully groomed corporate types were the ones lending money out to those hapless citizens who were fiscally irresponsible. Investing in outlandish off-shores accounts, allowing an international unregulated banking system to flourish in a world where credit was supreme, and sensibilities had gone out the window. In the times of a crisis, strong hairy men are here to save the world!

That’s if the batch of summer blockbuster action and comedy films is anything to go from the archetypal X-Men Origins: Wolverine directed by South African Gavin Hood to the hilariously off the coffee counter, Zack and Miri make a Porno. Whether the world has come to a sticky and apocalyptic end in the monochromatic world of Terminator Salvation, with an unshaven Christian Bale as John Connor, all grown up and ready to take on Skynet or audiences discover the real origins of the gorgeously sexy hairy beast of a man, well, mutant, Wolverine who along with a band of fellow unshaven mutants is out to wreck havoc on an suspecting America, the truth be told that clearly the Hairy Man has returned!


X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a fantastic action film appealing to the younger testosterone filled male generation, which tells of how Wolverine and his brother Sabretooth, an equally hairy and deadly character played with sinister panache by Liev Schreiber fight each other, the world and all those in between, including every major world war from the Napoleonic era to Vietnam. Even the normally clean-shaven Canadian actor, Ryan Reynolds is quite revealing in his role as Wade Wilson but then let’s not discount that Reynolds did appear in the Blade Trilogy.


Terminator Salvation paints a grim and grimy picture of a post-nuclear blasted world where the Skynet controlled Robots have wrecked havoc on America with the cities resembling industrial junkyards from hell. Christian Bale returns in another blockbuster but here again, as in the far superior The Dark Knight, it is his co-star that steals the shows. The Dark Knight, such a brilliant film of anarchy reigning supreme featured the flawlessly demented performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker and now in Terminator Salvation it is the more subtle less frenetic performance of Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright who is propelled into a future abyss only to discover redemption is beyond his electronic grip…


On a lighter note, and much more grounded in the present day recession-laden America is Kevin Smith’s fantastically funny and very raunchy film Zack and Miri make a Porno, about a couple of loser flat mates in Pittsburgh that realize that the financial crisis calls for more drastic measures. Seth Rogen saves the film as the unsexy but very hairy, Zack next to the gorgeous demurely (I kid you not) Miri, played by Elizabeth Banks. Rogen plays every type of hairy anti-hero with such effortless wit and perfect comic timing, who manages to save his reputation, make some underground cash and with the help of an extra-terrestrial cast make a Porno! Watch out for superb cameos by Brandon Routh (from Superman fame) and the delightful Justin Long at Zack and Miri’s reunion…

Although all three films are vastly different, it denotes a new fashion of fury heroes ready to save us from the grim realities of the strange 21st century recession obsessed reality most Western nations find themselves in.

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March 2018
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