Posts Tagged ‘J. K. Simmons’

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.

Steppenwolf’s Revenge

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, David Thewlis, Billy Crudup, Ciaran Hinds

Uniformity of vision is key to director Zack Snyder’s films from his earlier films including 300, Suckerpunch and Watchmen to his onscreen tackling of the DC Comics universe starting with Man of Steel (2013) Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice (2016) and now with the latest Superhero extravaganza Justice League.

Batman aka Bruce Wayne played with a deadpan sense of humour by Ben Affleck has to assemble a team to fight the inexplicable and mythical power of Steppenwolf voiced by Ciaran Hinds as the evil underworld monster plans on destroying the Earth with enough energy to wipe out Wonder Woman’s secret Island and Aquaman’s Atlantic underwater liar.

Speaking of which Israeli actress Gal Gadot reprises her role of Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince following the hugely successful standalone film earlier in 2017 by Monster director Patty Jenkins.

New to the cast is Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa who plays Aquaman aka Arthur Curry who besides being able to control the oceans has some serious authority issues along with Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as The Flash aka Barry Alan and Ray Fisher as Cyborg aka Victor Stone.

The best scenes in Justice League are when the superheroes come together especially Batman and Aquaman who naturally have a healthy distrust for each other. The dialogue is peppered with some great lines like “Cool, like a bat, I dig it!” or when The Flash asks Batman what his superpowers are, he simply replies “I am rich”.

The good news is that Warner Brothers is set to release stand-alone films of Batman, Aquaman and Cyborg within the next three years, so fans can have a favourite superhero to themselves. Let’s hope these films do as well as director Patty Jenkins remarkable all female superhero film Wonder Woman which smashed all box office records.

Director Zack Snyder’s Justice League is slick, fast, action-packed and filled with quirky interactions between all the world’s favourite superheroes without being puerile or garish. With suitably Gothic production design by Patrick Tatopoulos, Justice League cleverly hints at the upcoming Aquaman and The Batman films. Audiences should look out for Oscar winner J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.

With a funny screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Justice League is sure to entertain audiences that loved the previous Zack Snyder superhero films and will possibly get a glimpse of the Man of Steel.

Justice League gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is thoroughly entertaining, visually rewarding and definitely worth seeing. As the tagline goes: You Can’t Save the World alone. Even Batman.

 

Notorious Norway

The Snowman

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chloe Sevigny, Val Kilmer, J. K. Simmons, James D’Arcy, Toby Jones, Jonas Karlsson, Jakob Oftebro, David Dencik

Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo’s thriller The Snowman is brought to cinematic life by Iranian screenwriter Hossein Amini and co-written by Peter Staughan. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy director Tomas Alfredson brings this bleak Norwegian thriller to the big screen with a constantly icy landscape concerning a ruthless and psychopathic serial killer who kills his victims every time the snow begins falling, which in a Scandinavian winter, would be consistently often.

Assembling an international cast including Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave, Steve Jobs) as hard-drinking detective Harry Hole opposite art house actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, the muse of Danish auteur Lars von Trier who starred in such films as Anti-Christ and Nymphomaniac as his ex-girlfriend Rakel, personally I had high hopes for this thriller being a captivating cinematic experience. My criticism is that in The Snowman, the character relationships were not clearly defined, which made navigating this thriller virtually impossible.

Having not read the Jo Nesbo novel, I found this film version slightly lacklustre especially in the slow moving first half. Despite a refreshing change of watching an entire film shot in Norway, The Snowman didn’t quite pack the same verve as David Fincher’s utterly compelling film version of Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Rebecca Ferguson who appeared in Life and Florence Foster Jenkins also stars as co-detective Kathrine Bratt who is harbouring secrets of her own especially as she tries to entice Norwegian businessman Arve Stop played by Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) into a honey trap, since he has a peculiar penchant for photographing beautiful girls. Rarely seen actor Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Heat and Pollock) makes a welcome comeback as Gert Rafto a Bergen based detective following a similar murder case years earlier.

While The Snowman’s narrative visibility is as convoluted as the blurry icy landscape of Oslo and Bergen, the acting comes off as flat and uninspired. Which is a great pity considering the film’s acting talent.

Fassbender does a reasonably good job of bringing some dimension to Harry Hole, the lonely but observant detective, however one gets the sense that he fully was committed to the role as he was in director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth.

Perhaps the reason for my lukewarm response to this supposedly icy thriller was that I had a nightmarish cinematic experience coupled with expectations that director Tomas Alfredson would make an equally impressive film as his gripping adaptation of John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

The Snowman for all its gripping plot-twists, peppered with gruesome murders, gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10.

 

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.

Anatomy of a Bombing

Patriots Day

Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, Michelle Monaghan, J. K. Simmons, Themo Melikidze, Alex Wolff, Jake Picking, Jimmy O. Yang

Lone Survivor director Peter Berg likes to stick to actual events when directing films. He is an astute presenter of the horrific tragic events which have occurred recently, deeply embedded in the American psyche.

Whether it’s the explosion of a Gulf of Mexico oil rig as documented in Deepwater Horizon or the chaotic 2013 bombing of the Boston marathon, his films are rather factual, bordering on the docudrama and definitely riveting.

His latest film Patriots Day once again features Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) as the everyday hero, a hero that the average American cinema goer can relate to, and a working class hero who manages to survive under extraordinary circumstances.

Wahlberg knows the drill and in Patriots Day he plays Boston police sergeant Tommy Saunders who is given crowd control duty at the finish line of the epic Boston Marathon. The year is 2013.  An American city is once again under attack by radicalized terrorists.

This time those terrorists are of the non-descript home grown variety, the sociopathic Tsarnaev brothers played with desperation and cool nonchalance by Georgian actor Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2).

As the events of April 15th 2013 unfold, from the horrific bombing at the finish line of the infamous Boston Marathon using pressure cooker bombs filled with nails and all sorts of nasty devices aimed at causing maximum damage and pain, director Berg keeps the pace tense and thoroughly absorbing as the FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers superbly played by a terse and efficient Kevin Bacon (Black Mass, Frost/Nixon) takes control of the city-wide investigation.

Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) plays Watertown police sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese who would ultimately be the person along with the PD that would apprehend the perpetrators as they make a desperate attempt to flee the greater Boston Metropolitan area. Audiences should look out for a brilliant scene involving the Tsarnaev brothers’ carjacking a Chinese exchange student wonderfully played by Jimmy O. Yang.

Patriots Day is an edge of the seat action thriller, meticulously recreating the week of the Boston marathon bombing from the time of the incident to the dramatic capture in the neighbouring suburb of Watertown featuring some superb sound effects and a suitably tense original score by Oscar winning film composer duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who did the haunting music for The Social Network and Gone Girl.

Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Deepwater Horizon and 13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Patriots Day will surely hold audience’s attention while they inadvertently lap up all the Patriotic images of America as Peter Berg drives home his point about the continued threat of urban terrorism as the film ends with the real life survivors accounts of their horrific experience of the Boston marathon bombing of April 2013.

In Patriots Day, director Peter Berg presents the facts in all their visceral details and lets the audience judge for themselves.

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

 

Solving the Jigsaw Puzzle

The Accountant

accountant

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jean Smart, Alex Collins

American director Gavin O’Connor likes to show the sources of fraternal fiction in his films. His most notable film Warrior was about two estranged brothers who reconnect over their hapless and heavy drinking father, in an Oscar nominated performance by Nick Nolte, who trains both his sons in a mixed martial arts tournament in New Jersey.

Now with a bigger budget and sleek production design, O’Connor teams up with A-List star Ben Affleck in the tense action thriller The Accountant set in Chicago enhanced by crisp cinematography by Seamus McGarvey.

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Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo, Good Will Hunting) plays the autistic and highly efficient Christian Wolfe, a maths savant who is hired by a shady Robotics company to do their books. While accounting does not sound sexy, The Accountant makes spreadsheets lethal and thrilling as he soon uncovers massive discrepancies in the company’s financials with the assistance of Dana Cummings played by Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air).

Meanwhile, Treasurer Financial crimes investigator Ray King superbly played by Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) enlists the help of Marybeth Medina played by British actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Colombiana) to investigate the mysterious maths savant who has a perfect shot.

Medina soon uncovers who the real Christian Wolfe is, a money launderer and racketeer to some of the most dangerous organised crime syndicates internationally, the real reason why some of Wolfe’s clients can pay him in original paintings by Renoir and Jackson Pollock.

Through a series of flashbacks, O’Connor takes audiences into the troubled childhood of Wolfe who was brought up by his military trained father in a variety of exotic cities and teaches Christian and his younger brother Braxton how to survive in a hostile world.

The Accountant is a revealing action thriller held together by a tightly wound performance by Affleck as he battles not only the demons in his past but the current enemies in the shady corporate world, who will stop at nothing to silence the financial intrigue and cover up involved in taking a robotics company onto the New York stock exchange as a lucrative initial public offering.

Audiences should watch out for inventive cameo’s by Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor as Francis Silverberg and Fargo star Jean Smart as Rita Blackburn.

This is an engaging thriller which never loses hold of its numerous plot twists. The Accountant is an edge of your seat action movie in which all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle finally fit together at the end. An absorbing and gripping film with excellent sound effects.

 

68th BAFTA Awards

THE  68th BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 8th February 2015 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

boyhood

Best Film: Boyhood

Best Director: Richard Linklater – Boyhood

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Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything 

still_alice

Best Actress: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

whiplash

Best Supporting Actor: J. K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Rising Star Award: Jack O’Connell

Best British Film: The Theory of Everything directed by James Marsh

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Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Anthony McCarten – The Theory of Everything

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero

Ida_(2013_film)

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida – Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland)

Source: 68th BAFTA Awards

87th Academy Awards

The 87th Academy Awards / The Oscars

 

Sunday 22nd February 2015

OSCAR WINNERS AT THE 87TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

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Best Picture: Birdman

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez InnarituBirdman

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Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

still_alice

Best Actress: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

whiplash

Best Supporting Actor: J. K. Simmons – Whiplash

boyhood

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Graham MooreThe Imitation Game 

Best Original Screenplay: Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo – Birdman

Ida_(2013_film)

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida – (Poland) directed by Paweł Pawlikowski

citizenfour

Best Documentary Feature: Citizen Four

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Best Animated Feature Film: Big Hero 6

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman

Best Film Editing: Tom Cross – Whiplash

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Best Sound Editing: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman – American Sniper

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Best Visual Effects: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher – Interstellar

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Best Makeup and Hair: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier – Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat – Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Production Design: Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock – Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Costume Design: Milena Canonero – Grand Budapest Hotel

Source: http://oscar.go.com/

72nd Golden Globe Awards

72nd Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 11th  January 2015 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

boyhood

Best Film Drama: Boyhood

grand_budapest_hotel

Best Film Musical or Comedy: Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Director: Richard Linklater – Boyhood

 theory_of_everything_ver2

Best Actor Drama: Eddie Redmayne – Theory of Everything

still_alice

Best Actress Drama: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

birdman

Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Michael Keaton – Birdman

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams – Big Eyes

whiplash

Best Supporting Actor: J. K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

leviathan

Best Foreign Language Film – Leviathan (Russia)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/72nd_Golden_Globe_Awards

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