Posts Tagged ‘Jacki Weaver’

Dollar Signs and Empty Promises

Widows

Director: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver, Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Duvall, Jon Bernthal, Carrie Coon, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Brian Tyree Henry, Garrett Dillahunt, Cynthia Erivo

In a labyrinth tale which at times is difficult to follow, 12 Years a Slave and Shame director Steve McQueen weaves a tangled web in the contemporary Chicago crime drama Widows featuring an outstanding ensemble cast including a brilliant Viola Davis, Oscar winner for Fences, Oscar nominees Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) as a ruthless hitman, Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) as a pushy Polish mother along with Oscar winner Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies) as Colin Farrell’s hectic father Tom Mulligan.

What sets Widows apart is that McQueen frames the film as a gritty more complex version of Oceans 8 with pivotal roles for Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki (The Tale) and Michelle Rodriguez as three widowed woman who decided to band together and conspire to do a heist to rob from alderman Mulligan played by Colin Farrell who is in a turf war with his contestant a rising African-American politician Jamal Manning played by Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis).

Daniel Kaluuya plays the insanely evil and vindictive younger brother Jatemme Manning who feels nothing as he tortures a snitch in a wheelchair or makes victims sing before executing them at point blank range.

Director Steve McQueen frames every shot with a keen eye for detail especially the excellent scenes with Viola Davis as she comes to terms with her husband and thief Harry Rawlings explosive demise, shot in a series of intimate flashbacks scenes made more poignant that action star Liam Neeson plays the street savvy thief Rawlings.

What Widows does offer is a sophisticated treatment of contemporary American race relations, inner city corruption, poverty and crime of which there is plenty in this film.

McQueen lets certain scenes linger too long while allowing others to be cut so short that their explosive nature is electrifying. Where he is excels is at is controlling this massive and diverse ensemble cast.

Veteran star Robert Duvall has a fairly major role as the paternal Trumpesque figure Tom Mulligan who is trying to retain his family’s supremacy in the political environment despite his son Jack’s dubious double dealing whose only achievement is offering dollar signs and empty promises.

Equally refreshing is to see Fast and Furious star Michelle Rodriguez in a more substantial role as she battles to keep her family together after her Latino husband Carlos, a briefly seen cameo by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo perishes in Rawling’s heist that goes terribly wrong.

Widows gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and has a massive twist which should keep audiences riveted in a sprawling crime drama held together by superb acting. Highly recommended viewing.

La Cote d’Azur

Magic in the Moonlight

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Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Jacki Weaver, Simon McBurney

In the tradition of Bullets over Broadway and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, director Woody Allen returns to the period piece in the gorgeous and witty Noel Coward inspired drawing room comedy Magic in the Moonlight set on the French Riviera.

After the success of Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen returns to Europe and in a sublime casting match has Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) simply incisive and caustic as Stanley Crawford a cynical British magician who at the request of his friend Howard Burkan travels to the French Riviera to uncover the true intentions of a young and beguiling spiritualist Sophie Baker superbly played by Emma Stone. Naturally Sophie is preying on the good intentions of an extremely wealthy American family who are spending the summer at their villa on the La Cote d’Azur.

With a vibrant dose of jazz, sparkling costumes and vintage cars, Magic in the Moonlight sets the lavish scene for a truly witty melodrama inspired by playwright Noel Coward and definitely influenced by the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The year is 1928, a year before the Great Depression and smart society is still abundantly hopeful and rich. This is Tender is the Night without the drama.

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Sophie has befriended the naïve and wealthy Brice played by Hamish Linklater who at the request of his bejewelled mother, a brief cameo by Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) invokes the art of séances and acts as a sort of naïve, yet beautiful medium to the dead, more specifically her late husband, a billionaire Pittsburgh industrialist.

Emma Stone is wonderful and crafty as Sophie who soon falls in love with Stanley after a failed trip to Provence whereby the couple are trapped in a celestial observatory to avoid a torrential downfall. There in this observatory they gaze at the moonlight over a luminous Mediterranean sea, a scene which surely inspires the film’s whimsical title.

This is an elegant, witty and utterly charming period piece with Woody Allen writing intelligent and naturally comic dialogue without the angst characteristic of his contemporary American films featuring neurotic Manhattan ramblings.

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That’s because in a wise casting decision the famous actor/director does not feature in Magic in the Moonlight and leaves all the brilliant acting to his shining ensemble cast, especially Firth who reverts back to his egotistical slightly arrogant roles that he is so good at playing like Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Firth delivers the lines with a crisp diction and the best scenes are with him and fellow British thespian Eileen Atkins who gives an astonishing performance as his affectionate but wise Aunt Vanessa.

Magic in the Moonlight is whimsical, beautifully constructed and wonderfully acted in a lovely Sunday afternoon sort of way, showing that Allen can still make films which delight audiences as he sheds the angst and focuses on the inexplicable energy of human society and their coy yet quirky interactions.

Whilst the rest of the cast make up a glittering ensemble, including Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater and Catherine McCormack, it is really the sparkling onscreen connectivity of Firth and Stone as the two foils of their own deceptions, two semi-sophisticated adults thrown together in paradise whose romance blossoms despite their age difference and respective ambitions.

Magic in the Moonlight evokes a romantic era long since vanished and is highly recommended viewing for those that relish nostalgic cinema.

 

Trauma of an Assassination

Parkland

parkland_ver3

Director: Peter Landesman

Cast: Zac Efron, Tom Welling, Billy Bob Thornton, James Badge Dale, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giametti, Jacki Weaver, Ron Livingston, Colin Hanks, Jackie Earle Haley, Gil Bellows

Investigative journalist and screenwriter Peter Landesman makes his feature film debut with the harrowing reenactment of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on that fateful day on the 22nd November 2963 and how this pivotal event affected not only the lives of those working at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas but also of those that were caught up in the trauma of the event from the FBI that almost had the assassin in their grasp, to the Oswald family who were shunned by society as relatives of the man who shot JFK.

Parkland, based upon the book Four Days in November by Vincent Bugliosi is an absorbing and graphic retelling of this assassination and features an all star ensemble cast including Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo TV Series), Zac Efron (The Paperboy), James Badge Dale (The Lone Ranger) who is particularly good as Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother Robert, Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) as Oswald’s mother Marguerite Marcia Gay Harden as the trauma nurse Doris Nelson along with Paul Giametti as Abraham Zupreder the man who unwillingly films the horrific assassination and then sells the footage to Life magazine. James Badge Dale and Jacki Weaver are particularly good as brother and mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy who subsequently gets shot on live television two days after the assassination by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby pointing to a much larger possible conspiracy which was elaborately explored in Oliver Stone’s film J. F. K. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Harvey_Oswald

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Viewers can be forgiven for thinking that this film is a segment from the History channel, but with all the great character actors at hand, they do their best to make Parkland an absorbing and graphic, almost shocking retelling of one the 20th centuries most famous assassinations in Dallas, Texas in 1963. An assassination which awoke America out of a cathartic state and catapulted contemporary Western society further into a culture of violent paranoia and media speculation, something which audiences watching it fifty years later are more accustomed to especially since witnessing the destruction of the New York twin towers on live television on 9/11.

Parkland is recommended viewing and perhaps too short for a 90 minute film as aspects about this historical day could have been fleshed out further beyond the initial shock and trauma of a bloody assassination in the heat of a Texan day. A riveting and engaging film which was possibly made to coincide with the 50th anniversary of this tragic event. Watch out for a cameo by Tom Hank’s son Colin Hanks as the Chief of Surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital Dr Malcolm Perry.

 

 

 

2012 Toronto Film Festival

2012 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

TIFF2012

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: – Looper directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt & Bruce Willis

Silver Linings Playbook

People’s Choice Award:Silver Linings Playbook directed by David O. Russell, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Jacki Weaver & Chris Tucker

Laurence Anyways

Best Canadian Feature Film: Laurence Anyways directed by Xavier Dolan, starring ,

Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

 

Parlay of Silver Linings

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

A parlay is money won on a bet to increase the stakes. David O. Russell’s brilliant and feisty family drama Silver Linings Playbook won People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and teams up Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence with Bradley Cooper as Patrick (The Hangover, Limitless) along with Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) and Oscar winner Robert de Niro (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) as Patrick’s doting parents. Russell directed the Oscar winning 2010 film The Fighter and delivers another quirky brilliant scripted and at times frenetic portrait of a dysfunctional American family set in suburban Philadelphia.

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Cooper plays Patrick who is released by his determined mother Dolores from a court-ordered stay in a Baltimore Psychiatric Institution after serving eight months for a violent episode where he beat up his wife’s lover after walking in on them in the shower. Patrick at 37 has to go back and live with his parents which in these economic times are far from unusual. Patrick has a severe bi-polar disorder and needs to be on chronic medication to prevent any further violent outbursts. His estranged wife has a restraining order against him.

de Niro is superb as Patrick, senior the OCD father who besides dealing with his bi-polar son has problems of his own as a bookie, with no pension and is desperately trying regain the dwindled family fortune through betting on the local football matches, but is banned from the stadium. Weaver is Dolores, the doting mother who tries to maintain stability in a disorderly household coping simultaneously with a son with mental health problems and a husband with obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Patrick first plan besides getting fit is to read his estranged wife who is an English teacher’s high school syllabus starting with Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, but unlike Hemingway, Patrick is always searching for the silver lining something enforced while he was in rehabilitation and is determined to reunite with his wife.

Into this dysfunctional family enters Tiffany, beautifully portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, a promiscuous young woman who is traumatized by the sudden death of her husband.  Tiffany persuades Patrick to enter a Dancing with the Stars type competition in exchange for assisting him in delivering letters in an attempt to win back his wife. Silver Linings Playbook has a tightly woven script written by David O. Russell adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick and gives Cooper an opportunity to display his acting range as the frenetic obsessive and maladjusted man trying to put his life back together amidst the sometimes claustrophobic environment of his family home.

Jennifer Lawrence steals the show as the socially inept Tiffany who despite the psychological setbacks of both her and Patrick’s characters is determined to use dancing as a means of constructive therapy.

Silver Linings Playbook is more drama than comedy but Russell’s direction is imbued with a sensitivity and pace that allows the audience to sympathize with the dysfunctional characters Tiffany and Patrick amidst a community that does not quite grasp the complexities of people suffering from mental health problems such as post traumatic stress syndrome and bi polar.

The dance contest towards the end really is brilliant and offers a stage to resolve all domestic conflicts along with bringing a silver lining to this unique cinematic drama where the stakes are doubled (a parlay) and the characters are far from conventional. Chris Tucker, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz and Julia Stiles round off the quirky cast. Silver Linings Playbook is highly recommended for first rate acting a sure reason why there is such an Awards buzz. Jennifer Lawrence won a 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and walked away with the Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards in February 2013.

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