Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Foxx’

The Tale of a Thief

Robin Hood

Director: Otto Bathurst

Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Paul Anderson, Tim Minchin, F. Murray Abraham, Scot Greenan

A revisionist retelling of Robin Hood for the Instagram generation gets a thrilling thumbs up.

With the gorgeous Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle) as Robin, Lord of Loxley teaming up with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) as Little John, director Otto Bathurst sets Robin Hood at the time of the crusades when Robin Hood is conscripted to fight in the holy wars in Arabia leaving his young girlfriend Marian behind.

Marian is played with panache and feisty femininity by Irish actress Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies). While Robin is away fighting the crusades Marian meets the equally dashing but politically ambitious Will Scarlet played by Jamie Dornan (The 9th Life of Louis Drax, Fifty Shades of Grey).

Heavily influenced by Little John, Robin of Loxley with assisted training by the hunky Moor is roped into stealing from the rich to give to the poor. In this case the rich are represented by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham played with suitable menace by Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, A Star Wars Story).

The powerful Sheriff answers to an equally corrupt cardinal played with vigour by Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus).

Robin Hood is an ideal escapist action adventure film with some brilliant fight sequences and excellent special effects held together by some incisive editing and a catchy score. Produced by Leonardo di Caprio, this Robin Hood perfectly played by Taron Egerton looks like there could be a franchise in the making.

Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson plays the ruthless sidekick to the Sheriff, Guy of Gisbourne, who feels nothing at executing prisoners of war or burning down the commoner’s dwellings.

Robin Hood is a fun filled action adventure film quite slim on storyline and historical accuracy but definitely catering for the 21st century audience that is not too worried about authenticity as long as there is sufficient action.

Certainly entertaining, Robin Hood gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and scores an extra point for the really cool graphics that appear in the closing credits. Recommended viewing for light holiday fare.

For the Young and The Fast

Baby Driver

Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Lily James, Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal

While the trailer is cool and the cast is hip, Baby Driver delivers some cool stunts as a sequential car chase film with its sweet looking leads Baby played by Ansel Elgort and Debora played by rising British star Lily James.

With a fabulous soundtrack, Edgar Wright’s crime caper Baby Driver, clearly inspired by Pulp Fiction is thrilling to watch, with a great fast-paced narrative, transplanting the action from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Georgia it does get weigh down by its own super-cool importance and could have been edited by at least 20 minutes.

Oscar winner Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects, American Beauty) plays crime boss Doc who hires Baby played by Ansel Elgort as a bank robbery get a way driver because of his fast skills behind the wheel. That and the fact that Baby doesn’t get fazed by the traffic, the cops or his fellow henchman. Baby starts re-evaluating his crime driving does when he meets the sweet Southern diner waitress Debora played by Lily James (Cinderella, Wrath of the Titans).

Soon Baby wants out but has to contend with a new and vicious crew headed by the psychopathic Bats wonderfully played by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) and equally threatened by the crazy gun-wielding Buddy played by Mad Men star Jon Hamm (The Town, Million Dollar Arm).

Audiences should expect lots of car chases, a really cool soundtrack and a crime caper with as many twists and turns as a Southern freeway. Despite the hype surrounding Baby Driver and its ode to all things Americana – The Cars, The Diner, the Freeway, director Edgar Wright places too much emphasis on trying to encode the narrative with a moral undertone which doesn’t quite work especially towards the end of the film.

Basically, despite all the violence, money grabbing and loads of action, the end result is crime doesn’t pay – which is ultimately a bizarre sentiment to portray in a film such as Baby Driver which glorifies crime, violence and greed, making all three look hip, cool and attainable especially in a fast car.

Baby Driver is a stylish and entertaining ride, but don’t expect the cinematic journey to live up to the hype. Nevertheless its still a fun way to spend an afternoon at the movies.

For the young and the fast, Baby Driver gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and recommended for audiences that enjoyed Pulp Fiction and all sorts of sleazy, pulpy crime thrillers which the Americans are so fond of making. The irony is that director Edgar Wright is British…

The music is the best thing in this action flick!

 

 

58th BAFTA Awards

THE  58TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 12th February 2005 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film: The Aviator

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Best Director: Mike Leigh – Vera Drake

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Best Actor: Jamie Foxx – Ray

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Best Actress: Imelda Staunton – Vera Drake

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Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen – Closer

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Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett – The Aviator

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Best British Film: My Summer of Love directed Pawel Pawlikowski

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Best Original Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Sideways by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor

Best Costume Design: Vera Drake

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Best Foreign Language Film: The Motorcycle Diaries directed by Walter Salles

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/58th_British_Academy_Film_Awards

It’s a Hard Knock Life!

Annie

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Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, David Zayer, Cameron Diaz, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

The 21st century film version of the hit Broadway musical Annie is no match for the 1982 cinematic treatment of the musical by director John Huston. In the 2014 version, director Will Gluck has chosen to rather focus too much on making it a contemporary New York tale and less of a classy musical.

Although that does not distract from the onscreen sparkle of the lead actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who embraces the role and become famous for being one of the youngest performers to ever be nominated for an Oscar for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The updated version of Daddy Warbucks, is a cellphone billionaire Will Stacks, wonderfully and almost gleefully played by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx who embellishes the role with humour and charisma.

The supporting cast is equally good including the rising actor Bobby Cannavale as Stack’s scheming publicity driven press officer Guy and his real life wife Rose Byrne who is brilliant as Grace. The casting of the film was diverse and brilliantly done with the exception of Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan, whose performance was jarring and questionably overplayed.

Audiences should expect all the wonderful songs of the Broadway musical with a more edgy tunes thrown in along with every available social media innovation that has beset American urban life in the last ten years including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram woven into an increasingly frenetic social narrative.

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This Annie is no down and out orphan in Depression era America, but a rising vivacious star in a 21st century post-recession America, emphasizing that the gap between the rich and the poor has widened considerably in the last eighty years.

Excluding any social commentary, the 2014 Annie is a great feel good film and director Gluck makes fill use of the Big Apple as his primary location especially the spectacular scenes at the Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Bridge and stunning aerial shots of the New York skyline.

If audiences are expecting a polished and flawless musical such as Into The Woods, then Annie is not for them. Will Gluck’s Annie is a much thinner, at times disjointed  and very light hearted version which comes off slightly messier as the rags to riches storyline gets updated from its original 1930’s period setting to appeal to a the millennial generation.

Whilst the effort can be applauded and the production design including Stacks’s smart internet connected New York penthouse is a must-see, this Annie remains a tamer version of the 1982 classic film. Definitely suitable for children and those that want to avoid a hard knock life!

 

 

 

62nd Golden Globe Awards

62nd Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 16th January 2005 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama: The Aviator

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Best Film Musical or Comedy: Sideways

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Best Director: Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby

Best Actor Drama: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator

Best Actress Drama: Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Jamie Foxx – Ray

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Annette Bening – Being Julia

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Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen – Closer

Best Supporting Actress: Natalie Portman – Closer

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Best Foreign Language Film – The Sea Inside (Spain)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/62nd_Golden_Globe_Awards

The Sequel Syndrome

Horrible Bosses 2

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 Director: Sean Anders

Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx

The original comedy Horrible Bosses was hugely hilarious, so the question begs why spoil it with a sequel?

Especially in light of the 2008 economic recession, Hollywood has increasingly fallen prey to the sequel syndrome as a way of generating additional work for actors and more profits for the main film studios. Not every successful original comedy or action film needs to be made into a sequel. Horrible Bosses 2 and Red 2 are example of this money making cinematic phenomenon which started in the 1980’s. Think The Lethal Weapon, Rambo and Die Hard franchises.

Director Sean Anders’s Horrible Bosses 2 has very little to do with Bosses and a lot to do with three losers Dale, Kurt and Nick played with great glee by Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day and Jason Bateman who after appearing on Good Morning Los Angeles TV show get conned into selling their shower buddy product to a wealthy but unscrupulous industrialist Bert Hanson played by Oscar Winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) and his spoiled playboy son, Rex wonderfully portrayed by Chris Pine (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Star Trek).

So begins a rather lame ploy on the classic Stockholm syndrome plot as the gang of three attempt to kidnap Pine and in a rather strange twist of events gets manipulated by him into extorting a huge ransom sum for his so called release. The dialogue is not that funny, the script lazy, not to mention the appearance of highly talented Oscar Winner Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects), who was one of the original Horrible Bosses, is completely underutilized.

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Even Jennifer Aniston (We are the Millers, The Bounty Hunter) reprisal of her role as a nymphomaniac dentist Dr Julia Harris, also one of the original Horrible Bosses does not save the blighted plot. The best scenes in the film are actually provided by Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) as MotherF*cker Jones and of course Pine who has a field day as the manipulative kidnap victim.

This sequel is really cashing in on the success of the first film and let’s hope that Hollywood does not make a third without there being a more credible and inventive storyline. Audiences who loved the first film, might be disappointed, so save Horrible Bosses 2 for some lazy Saturday afternoon viewing.

 

Evading the Threat Matrix

White House Down

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Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Jason Clarke, Jimmi Simpson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nicholas Wright, Richard Jenkins, Lance Reddick, Matt Craven

Historians have concluded that the decline of the Roman Empire happened from within due to the increasing barbarization of the army protecting its vast borders. In Roland Emmerich’s impressive White House Down, the same can be said for the paramilitary group which attack America’s presidential palace with impunity in retaliation for the President pulling out all US armed forces from the Middle East.

Although this Decline of the American Empire is nowhere near as subtle or brilliant as the Canadian film version by Denys Arcand, White House Down is a more intricately plotted action thriller than Antoine Fugua’s thematically similar film Olympus Has Fallen. Both films, have similar plot points and follow an almost identical narrative except that in White House Down, the enemy is not a bunch of gun totting Koreans, but a right wing American paramilitary group who have slipped through the threat matrix.

What makes Emmerich’s White House Down a better picture than Olympus has Fallen, is that there is more background characterization making the motives for such an attack on the White House infinitely more credible thanks to the inventive screenwriting of James Vanderbilt. Whilst Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart do not have as much bonding time in Olympus Has Fallen, the two stars of White House Down, Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, The Vow) as wannabe secret service agent John Cale  and likeable African American president Sawyer, played with a humorous twist by the ever watchable Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, Collateral), make for the teaming of two brilliant leading men. The rest of the cast consists of the experienced Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty, James Woods as Walker head of the Secret Service and the brilliant Richard Jenkins as the Speaker Raphelson.

Emmerich also manages to capture the historical significance of the White House as Cale and his news savvy daughter are first taken on a tour of the White House, during which the vicious paramilitary group lead by the ubiquitous Australian actor Jason Clarke (The Great Gatsby, Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty) playing ex-special ops strongman Stengz start planning their Coup d’Etat.  In a precursor of what’s install, there is even a painting showed in one scene of the film, showing the newly built 19th century White House up in flames during the Burning of Washington by the British Army in 1812, the only time a foreign power has ever occupied the American capital – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_Washington.

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Whilst the characterization and historical back story of the first half of White House Down make for fascinating viewing, the second half of the film transcends all sense or sensibility as all the American presidential icons from Air Force One to the famed White House are blown to smithereens. The action is nevertheless stimulating whilst the film does appear to veer towards a very unsubtle level of American patriotism not seen on the big screen since Olive Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July. White House Down is sure to keep audiences spellbound by the fantastic special effects and brilliantly orchestrated bid budget action sequences which is expected from the director of such blockbusters as Independence Day, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow.

White House Down like Emmerich’s previous films is not without some wonderful comic touches, making the characters human in times of a crisis, despite some of their intentions, from the White House tour guide Donny played by Nicholas Wright to the diabolical techno guru Tyler, played by Jimmi Simpson (Zodiac) hacking into Presidential compound’s mainframe computer whilst listening to Beethoven’s 5th, or the sneaker clad US President Sawyer arming himself with a rocket launcher as they race around the White House’s pristine lawn in one of the film’s best chase sequences. Just imagine Obama doing that?

Recommended viewing for lovers of big budget action films, and unadulterated American patriotism. See White House Down to believe it!

 

77th Academy Awards

77th Academy Awards

27th February 2005

Oscar Winners at the 77th Academy Awards

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Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby

Best Director: Clint EastwoodMillion Dollar Baby

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Best Actor: Jamie Foxx – Ray

Best Actress: Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby

Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman – Million Dollar Baby

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Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett – The Aviator

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Best Original Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor – Sideways

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Best Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside directed by Alejandro Amenabar (Spain)

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Best Original Score: Jan A. P. Kaczmarek – Finding Neverland

Best Documentary Feature: Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids directed by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski

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Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson – The Aviator

Best Costume Design: Sandy Powell – The Aviator

Best Film Editing – Thelma Schoonmaker – The Aviator

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Best Visual Effects: Spiderman 2 directed by Sam Raimi

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/77th_Academy_Awards

 

 

 

 

Slave to the Rhythm

Django Unchained

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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Don Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Bruce Dern, Kerry Washington, Robert Carradine, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, James Russo

Django Unchained can be compared to a three act Southern Opera and whilst Tarantino’s distinctive style comes through, his real intention is to invert the Cowboy myth so associated with the American Wild West, channeling spaghetti Western Sergio Leone films and tackling a very prickly subject of slavery prior to the American Civil War without much sensitivity.

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Django Unchained, loosely based on the 1966 Sergio Corbucci Western Django, starts off in Texas in 1858, two years before the outbreak of the American Civil War and features the eloquent and unorthodox Dr King Schultz played with superb panache by Christoph Waltz, who won a Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for 2009’s Inglourious Basterds who frees Django from a chain gang as he needs him to identify three brothers which have a mortal bounty on their heads. Jamie Foxx (Collateral, Ray) is wonderfully cast as Django and throughout the two and a half hour film really displays his range as an actor complimenting the always competent Waltz as the German speaking bounty hunter.

Together Schultz and Django go in search of Django’s entrapped and estranged wife, oddly named Broomhilda, as she was bought as a slave by German immigrants. Broomhilda is now the possession of sadistic cotton plantation owner Calvin Candie, played with flourish by Leonardo di Caprio whose Mississippi plantation aptly named Candieland provides the final act in an utterly bizarre and bloody showdown between Django, Schultz and Candie.

For sheer originality, Tarantino’s films are always enjoyable and never dull, but like Inglourious Basterds and his most famous film Pulp Fiction, along with profanity there is a serious dose of vicious bloodshed. Django Unchained lacks some of the brilliance of the first two films, but the startling sound effects, outlandish scenes and revisionist plot is enough to make Django Unchained Oscar worthy especially the two central performances by Waltz and Foxx. Two criticisms’ of the film is the overuse of racist profanity which the plot revolves around especially being set in the Slave trade of the Deep South and also the film’s considerable length.

Django Unchained has some startling scenes but one got the sense that because of Tarantino’s previous successes, Harvey Weinstein has given Tarantino free reign. Free reign on the subject of the America’s Deep South from Texas to Mississippi and their sanctioning of slavery as a form of economically binding both master and slaves into a hideous socio-geograhic relationship of brutal proportions demonstrated in the cotton and tobacco plantations below the Mason-Dixon line.

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Django Unchained has a fantastic musical score and soundtrack along with brilliant sound effects and sound editing especially noticeable in the showdown at Candieland. Tarantino’s old favourite Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) is wonderfully cast as Calvin Candie’s butler Stephen and look out for Don Johnson as Big Daddy and of course the versatile Kerry Washington (The Last King of Scotland) who undergoes all sorts of torture as enslaved Broomhilda, Django’s estranged wife. Watch out for a brief appearance by Jonah Hill (Moneyball) as part of inadequate group of Ku Klux Klan members.

Warning this film is not for sensitive viewers and Django Unchained could be Tarantino’s most controversial film to date especially as he recasts the mythical American cowboy as a sharp shooting freed slave from Texas. Yet Quentin Tarantino won the 2013 Golden Globe  and BAFTA Awards for Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained so his talent is definitely acknowledged in both America and Britain.

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