Posts Tagged ‘Jack O’Connell’

The Conception of an Affair

Tulip Fever

Director: Justin Chadwick

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Judi Dench, Jack O’Connell, Kevin McKidd, Holliday Grainger, Tom Hollander, Zach Galifianakis, Joanna Scanlan, David Harewood, Sebastian Armesto, Matthew Morrison, Douglas Hodge

British director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, The First Grader) tackles a cinematic version of Deborah Moggarch’s novel Tulip Fever with the literary assistance of Anna Karenina screenwriter Tom Stoppard.

Assembling an international cast including Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) and fellow Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Tulip Fever is set in Amsterdam in 1623 at the height of the Tulip trade which flourished in the Netherlands and was in essence the first stock market which blossomed illicitly behind Tavern doors and co-opted by solicitous nuns who grew the beautiful flowers in sacred abbeys away from the hustle of Dutch city life.

With sumptuous costumes by Michael O’Connor and suitably dark production design by Simon Elliott, Tulip Fever focuses on the young orphan Sophia Sandvoort superbly played by Vikander who is forced to marry the wealthy yet childless Burgermeester (local mayor) Cornelious Sandvoort played by Waltz.

Like all Dutch noblemen, Sandvoort commissions a young and impoverished painter to paint the couple’s portrait, a 17th century trend which made Rembrandt famous. In steps the exuberant and excitable Jan van Loos played by Dane DeHaan (Valerian, Kill Your Darlings).

Soon van Loos falls for the ravishing Sophia and deception is conceived mainly for her to escape from her pompous husband who really wants to impregnate her with his preferably male heir.

In a parallel narrative, Sophia’s devoted maid, Maria played by British actress Holliday Grainger (Jane Eyre, The Finest Hours, Cinderella) has fallen for the charming if not smelly fishmonger Willem Bok played by Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) who aspire to get married and have six children together.

In a bizarre twist both Bok and van Loos, two young men desperately trying to increase their liquidity embark on making money on the booming tulip trade, in which the precious bulbs fluctuated in price depending on their rarity and natural beauty of the elusive flower.

Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) plays the Abbess who has to sternly guide the young men in the flourishing yet turbulent tulip trade while the Netherlands was expanding its colonial empire to the Dutch East Indies and South Africa.

Despite the slightly convoluted plot and frenetic story line, Tulip Fever is an enjoyable and raunchy period drama held together by amazing performances by the four main leads which serves as a Dutch version of Twelfth Night.

Audiences that enjoyed Girl with a Pearl Earring and Shakespeare in Love, will undoubtedly love Tulip Fever, which provides a fascinating cinematic perspective on the brief but flourishing Tulip trade which made the Netherlands one of the riches countries in Europe especially in the 17th century, establishing their own national stability and making them the money lenders of Europe.

With all the deceit, obsession and money trading, Tulip Fever is a riotous period drama and gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Tulip Fever is recommended viewing as a historical drama with a uniquely Dutch twist.

Trading Algorithm

Money Monster

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Director: Jodie Foster

Cast: Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham

Young British actor Jack O’Connell certainly seems to be handpicked by Oscar winner female actresses turned directors to star in their films. First it was O’Connell’s brilliant portrayal of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini turned prisoner of war in the World War two epic Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie and now he is cast as the disgruntled young investor Kyle Budwell in Jodie Foster’s live action hostage drama, Money Monster set on Wall Street, New York city.

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Echoing a similar vibe to the brilliant Spike Lee film, Inside Man, in which Jodie Foster starred, Money Monster is a gripping tale of TV show which is taken hostage by the unhinged yet scared Budwell, who holds the show’s vain TV host Lee Gates hostage. Gates is wonderfully played by Oscar winner George Clooney (Syriana) who literally has to put his life in the hands of the Money Monster show producer Patty Fenn, a sharp and sassy performance by Oscar winner Julia Roberts.

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The fact that Money Monster has Julia Roberts and George Clooney as the two main leads is testament to the film’s star power yet rising star Jack O’Connell holds his own as the desperate and slightly idiotic Budwell who has literally bitten off more than he can chew, when he creates a live hostage drama so that the show, Money Monster can ascertain the real truth behind an investment company Ibis mysteriously losing $800 million which is initially blamed on a glitch due to a trading algorithm.

As Money Monster develops, it soon emerges, that the slimy CEO of the murky multi-national Ibis, Walt Camby wonderfully played by Dominic West, last seen in the brilliant series The Affair, has done some dodgy stock manipulation as well as orchestrating some labour unrest at a platinum mine in South Africa. No surprise there.

Money Monster is a taut, watchable thriller and whilst the plot is at times contrived, it is a fascinating indictment on the power of broadcast media especially in the public’s hunger to witness a dramatic spectacle unfold, made more pertinent as the conflict being televised relates to the incomprehensible world of international high finance, where a chosen few are entrusted with the financial futures of millions of shareholders in these precarious economic times.

As a director Jodie Foster highlights the immediacy of Live Television while skilfully blending in the less than glamorous, but flawed characters behind the scenes which generate such flashy media content. Clooney and Roberts are particularly well cast as TV host and producer while O’Connell once again demonstrates that his star is on the rise.

Money Monster is highly recommended viewing, extremely watchable, unpredictable and very entertaining.

 

Bloody Visuals Detract from Ancient Legends

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300: Rise of an Empire

Director: Noam Murro

Starring: Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, David Wenham

300: Rise of an Empire lacks the visual punch of the original 300 directed by Zach Snyder which made himself and its star Gerard Butler enormously famous. In this follow up sequel, 300 Rise of an Empire looks at the fortunes of the God King Xerxes, a fabulously gold clad Rodrigo Santoro as he attempts to invade the Greek Isles and its major city states. It shows the ruthless of the invading Persians in nautical battles which took place almost simultaneously to the battle of Thermopylae when 300 Spartans saved Greece by becoming martyrs. In 300: Rise of an Empire, audiences can expect a necrophiliac lustful and sexy naval commander Artemisia wonderfully overplayed by Eva Green (The Dreamers, Casino Royale) getting off on decapitations and drowning of her own sailors as she viciously commands the Persian fleet ordering them to defeat the Greek ships at all costs. The Greeks in this case are represented by muscle bound Themistocles who just happened to be the daring soldier that killed Xerxes father King Darius with a fateful arrow that changed the course of these two ancient civilizations.

Lena Headey (now famous in the HBO Series Game of Thrones) reprises her role as Queen Gorgo of the Spartans who not only narrates the entire ancient diatribe but also features as a plot device for avenging the death of Leonidas in 300 against the invading Persians. What makes 300: Rise of an Empire worth watching is brutal sex scene bordering on sadomasochism between Artemisa and Themistocles on board a Persian vessel reminding audiences of the tangible psychological link between sex and death.

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Unfortunately the blood visuals and excessive gore featured in 3D in this sequel detracts stylistically from what could have been a really fascinating narrative about ancient civilizations battling it out on turbulent Mediterranean seas. Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton could not rival Gerard Butler in screen presence with the only redeeming feature being the audacious Eva Green making the most of her bloodthirsty and vengeful role as the kinky and sadistic Artemisia, a tragic Greek woman who has turned on her own nation after her family was brutally slaughtered.

Ancient history buffs will enjoy 300: Rise of an Empire but this is an unworthy sequel to the fabulously dazzling and original film and will land up being regarded as mere popcorn viewing. 300 Rise of an Empire is fun, sexy and slightly disturbing but not fantastic and definitely not worth it in 3D especially as Israeli director Noam Murro chose gore and bloodlust over historical accuracy. Callan Mulvey and Jack O’Connell also star as father and son team Scyllias and Calisto valiantly fighting the Persians and providing a less than emotional subplot to the real Aegean drama of the nautical battle between Persians and Ancient Greeks.

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