Posts Tagged ‘Jack Reynor’

Terror at the Algiers

Detroit

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Cast: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jack Reynor, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Ben O’Toole, Jennifer Ehle

Oscar winning director of The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow comes with an impressive resume of films including Zero Dark Thirty. In her latest film with screenwriting partner Mark Boal Detroit, they viscerally tackle police brutality and racial tension in Motown, once the centre for the American automobile industry.

Detroit features a cleverly cast group of emerging young actors including British stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Will Poulter (The Revenant), while director Bigelow dissects in vivid and intense detail a murderous incident at the Algiers Motel on the night of the 25th July 1967.

Bigelow goes beyond racial polarities and cinematically retells a terrible incident whereby a young group of African American men were terrorized by White police men at the Algiers Motel headed by the sadistic Krauss excellently played by Will Poulter in one of his most prolific onscreen roles.

The group of African American singers headed up by Larry played by Algee Smith are equally traumatized by the lengthy incident when all they wanted to do was establish their singing group The Dramatics hoping to raise a similar celebrity status to The Supremes as they attempt to perform in downtown Detroit when a riot causes the show to be cancelled.

This was the Midwest in 1967. The American civil rights movement was in full swing as was the deployment of troops in the infamous war in Vietnam. American society was transforming exponentially.

Detroit is an extremely important film about visual identification and racial representation made pertinent by the ongoing debate about whether director Kathryn Bigelow as a white female director is the right person to be retelling the horrific Algiers incident whereby white policemen play the death game on the group of young African American men and taunt them because they are courting two young white prostitutes Julie played by Hannah Murray and Karen played by Kaitlyn Dever.

The three policemen responsible for the incident are Demens played by Jack Reynor (Macbeth, Sing Street), Flynn played by Ben O Toole (Hacksaw Ridge) and the aforementioned Krauss. John Boyega plays Dismukes a young African American man working two jobs one in a an automobile factory and the other as a night security guard who stumbles on the events at the Algiers when Carl played by Jason Mitchell shoots a toy gun at the National guard in the midst of inner city race riots.

What stood out in Detroit was how all the characters both Black and White are affected by a heightened level of inherent violence and male aggression, something which Bigelow highlights and Detroit suggests that this aggression is endemic in American society regardless of skin colour.

Framed against the incident is also the emotional story of Larry’s refusal after the event and subsequent trial to continue performing in The Dramatics at downtown nightspots where mostly white policeman can enjoy Motown music.

The racial signifiers in Detroit are complex but the narrative tension is brilliantly executed with a resonance and skill rarely seen in contemporary cinema. Detroit is an important film for everyone to watch, contributing to a cinematic study of race relations internationally and raises pertinent questions of visual representation.

Detroit gets a film rating of 8 out of 10. Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy intelligently told docudramas about the turbulent 1960’s in America.

Full of Scorpions is my Mind

Macbeth

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Director: Justin Kurzel

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris, David Thewlis, Elizabeth Debicki, Paddy Considine, Jack Reynor, David Hayman

Australian director Justin Kurzel’s bold and bloody version of Macbeth envisions a bleak and brutal landscape where Scottish noblemen plot against each other all for the right to become King.

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Possibly Shakespeare’s most bloodthirsty play about power, vengeance and fealty, Macbeth has proved to be a perennial favourite among film makers and theatre performers alike. In this version, the two pivotal roles are played by Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) and the combination of their immense talent can be relished as they present a complex interpretation of the scheming Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Soon the ambitious couple plot to murder King Duncan of Scotland, played by David Thewlis as he visits their family castle. Macbeth stabs King Duncan multiple times while he is sleeping and promptly dispatches his guards too. Macbeth blames this ungodly crime on the heir apparent, the King’s son Malcolm, played by Jack Reynor, who flees to England to gather an army.

Macbeth claims the Scottish crown for himself but soon absolute power corrupts malignantly and the callous couple plot again to kill Banquo, a friend of Macbeth’s and a rival Scottish nobleman.

During the infamous banquet scene, which is the best in the film, Macbeth in front of his royal retinue is tormented by the images of Banquo’s ghost appearing among the guests to such an extent that he breaks down in front of the Scottish court.

The tyrannical Macbeth wanders into the misty highlands and seeks solace with the three prophetic witches who tell him that his right to be king is threatened by Macduff, “Beware Macduff, Beware the Thane of Fife!”

In the most brutal scene in the film, Macbeth’s soldiers capture Lady Macduff, played by an unrecognizable Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) and her three children, whose fate is sealed upon a fiery pyre.

In the final act, Macduff, played by Sean Harris (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) returns with ten thousand soldiers and storms Macbeth’s castle and in a fiery confrontation, the two enemies seek vengeance amidst a burning and unforgiving battle, when Birnam wood comes to Dunsinane.

Kurzel’s vision of Macbeth is bloody and dark, the production design comprising strong earthy colours like deep reds, browns and shining gold. The costumes are traditional and authentic.

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Cotillard is brilliant as the deceptively innocent Lady Macbeth, a magnetic and hauntingly beautiful queen who challenges her husband to commit heinous crimes, only to discover that Macbeth is willing to go to unmentionable lengths to retain his crown.

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This 21st century film version of Macbeth is heavily influenced by HBO’s Game of Thrones and is as violent, spectacular and riveting as the hit series, making Shakespeare’s Scottish play accessible to a whole new generation of viewers. This is an epic portrayal of twisted fealty, rivalry and horrific ambition, held together by two masterful actors playing iconic characters, imbuing their scenes together with a brilliant Machiavellian mischief, bordering on insanity and unchecked bloodlust.

Visually stunning, violent and superbly atmospheric, this vivid version of Macbeth is one not to be missed by cinema lovers and Shakespeare scholars alike.

 

 

 

 

Glossy Carnage

Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles, Titus Welliver, Kelsey Grammer

Director Michael Bay extends his cinematic repertoire with the fourth instalment of the Transformers franchise – Transformers, Age of Extinction and this time goes a different route by centering the action on a more mature hero inventor Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg (2 Guns, The Fighter) who along with his daughter Tessa played by Nicola Peltz and her speed racer boyfriend played by Jack Reynor must battle out the brash and glossy war between the Deciptcons and Optimus Prime along with a band of Nefarious government agents represented by Kelsey Grammer and Titus Welliver.

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Interestingly enough with the exception of megastar Wahlberg, the rest of the cast are little known character actors, which works well for the general feel of Age of Extinction as the cast is secondary to the dazzling and superb special effects which make this sci-fi Hasbro fantasy watchable and in parts even enjoyable.

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Director Bay makes use of the fabulous and extensive locations in the film as the plot unfolds from the Arctic to Texas, from Chicago to Hong Kong. The Transformer action gets a bit much and whilst the narrative is deeply rooted in suspended disbelief, Age of Extinction is gorgeously shot with cinematic aerial shots of Chicago and Hong Kong, along with the plains of Texas and even Beijing, clearly showing a significant Chinese influence in mainstream Hollywood.

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The classic father and daughter narrative featuring Wahlberg and Peltz makes a fresh change from the Sam Wikity trilogy with various gorgeous supermodels such as Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely and Megan Fox as his impossibly beautiful but vacuous girlfriends. Besides Shia LaBeouf wants to be taken seriously as an actor now and has thus starred in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac.

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Transformers, Age of Extinction is a pastiche of all former iconic Hollywood blockbuster movies from Jurassic Park, yes there is even a dinosaur sequence, to Aliens, to the more successful 007 films such as Tomorrow Never Dies and Skyfall, which is the film’s greatest asset but also detracts from a tighter more controlled narrative. With the duration at over two and a half hours at least 30 minutes of Transformers, Age of Extinction could have been swiftly edited although the Chicago and Hong Kong action sequences are impressive, outlandish and awe-inspiring.

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Clearly director Michael Bay revels in the Hasbro universe and was given a massive budget to play with, for he is in his element recreating the fourth instalment of Transformers in a much slicker and glossier version with less focus on the human element but more on lavish spectacle of these digital machines which transform from cars and helicopters to giant menacing robots battling each other in equally spectacular urban locations like Chicago and Hong Kong.

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Look out for great performances by Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) and with Sophia Myles (Tristan and Isolde) as the more sophisticated characters who work for a shady industrial organization based in Chicago which is out to hone the power of the Transformers and create untamed malleable matter. Transformers, Age of Extinction has superb location settings, gripping action sequences but if cinema goers hate sci-fi fantasy its best to avoid this clunky two and a half hour orgy of glossy carnage.

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Watch out for loads of neatly shot product placement in the film from Budweiser Light to Armani Exchange, Victoria Secret and Goodyear definitely proving that Transformers is aimed at the younger adult male target audience.

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