Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Bridges’

The Granite Mountain Hotshots

Only the Brave

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Cast: Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly, Andie MacDowell, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, Jeff Bridges, Ben Hardy, Josh Hopkins

Based on the GQ article No Exit written by Sean Flynn with the assistance of fellow screenwriters Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, Only the Brave is an extraordinary tale of bravery, courage and heroism, illustrating the eternal battle of Man Versus Nature.

Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski using the cinematic motif of a grizzly bear running through the forest engulfed in flames, Only the Brave is a remarkable film held together by solid acting especially by Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (Milk) and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind).

Set in the North American summer of 2013 and focusing on the small town of Prescott, Arizona near Phoenix, Only the Brave follows the story of a group of municipal firefighters that are deployed to help fight runaway forest fires in the canyons and mountainous regions in Arizona.

At times, sublime and dangerous, all the men realize that their jobs are extremely risky fighting unpredictable fires which can engulf entire forests in a matter of minutes depending on the wind speed and air temperature.

Brolin plays Eric Marsh, supervisor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who has to look after a team of 18 men and train them into fighting one of nature’s most unpredictable beasts: wildfires. Marsh takes a chance on Brendan McDonough, a recovering addict superbly played by rising star Miles Teller (War Dogs, Whiplash) while also dealing with his own relationship issues with his headstrong wife Amanda, a standout performance by Jennifer Connelly.

To add gravitas to the cast, Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) plays Marsh’s mentor Duane Steinbrink. James Badge Dale (The Departed, The Walk) plays Marsh’s deputy Jesse Steed while Taylor Kitsch (Savages, Lone Survivor) plays McDonough’s friend and fellow firefighter Christopher MacKenzie.

What is most impressive about Only the Brave is the haunting cinematography by Oscar winning Chilean cinematographer Claudio Miranda who won for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Cinematically this film is excellent from vast aerial shots of the dramatic Arizona topography to the inner anguish of the team’s social dynamics as they navigate their own fears and dreams in light of a grueling occupation which seldom takes survivors when the fires rage out of control.

Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski really does his best work with Only the Brave assembling a muscular cast to tell a robust narrative filled with searing bravado.

Only the Brave gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Lone Survivor, Dunkirk and the 1991 Kurt Russell film Backdraft.

The Doomsday Protocol

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Jeff Bridges, Edward Holcroft, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Michael Gambon

Director Matthew Vaughn follows up his 2015 comic book spy debut Kingsman: The Secret Service with a more robust and intensely invested sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle with a bigger cast and lavish sets reuniting Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) with his A Single Man co-star fellow Oscar winner Julianne Moore (Still Alice) who plays the delusional and garish villain Poppy.

Hot young star Taron Egerton reprises his role of Eggsy, street boy turned bespoke spy, joined by Mark Strong as Merlin who go on an international mission to discover who is destroying The Kingsman headed up by a briefly glimpsed Michael Gambon.

The Kingsman soon join forces with their American counterparts including Channing Tatum as Tequila and Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall) as Whiskey who make up the Statesmen an independent espionage agency housed in a whiskey distillery in Tennessee who come to their aid in tracking down Poppy and her evil plan of causing all drug users in the world to die through lacing their fix with a lethal concoction which causes purple veins, paralysis and death.

As Kingsman adopt the Doomsday Protocol, Eggsy and Merlin embark on a dangerous mission with the help of Whiskey as they travel to the Italian Alps to retrieve an antidote in an action packed ski cable car sequence which is clearly a skit on the 007 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Even Poppy’s drug liar deep in the Cambodian jungle, aptly named Poppyland is a skit on another Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

While the action in Kingsman: The Golden Circle is clearly hyper-visualized and the plot is completely outlandish, it’s the sort of Saturday afternoon popcorn film which is pure escapism even though its subliminal messages are morally questionable.

With Oscar winner Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) as Statesman tech genius Ginger, The Kingsman: Golden Circle is a clear skit on the 007 franchise with a more lurid twist making our dapper hero Eggsy appealing to the millennial’s and definitely is more successful as a cleverly cast spy caper.

If audiences enjoyed the first Kingsman, then they will enjoy this extravagant and better orchestrated sequel. Kingsman: The Golden Circle gets a Film Rating 7 out of 10.

 

 

They are all packing in Texas

Hell or High Water

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Director: David Mackenzie

Cast: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Dale Dickey, Gil Birmingham, Katy Mixon

British director David Mackenzie’s riveting and quick-witted Texan thriller Hell or High Water features some brilliant performances by Ben Foster (The Program, 3:10 to Yuma) and Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart).

Foster along with Chris Pine (Star Trek, Into the Woods) play brothers Tanner and Toby Howard who set out by terrorizing West Texas in a series of well-executed bank robberies in small towns only hitting the branches of the Texas Midlands Bank stealing untraceable notes. This is the same bank that is about to foreclose on their late mother’s farm, whilst there are possibly oil drilling rights on the land.

Mackenzie paints a decaying portrait of rural Texas, a backwater where everyone is struggling to make ends meet, an environment ripe with desperation and reckless activity. This would be quite an ordinary film except for the extraordinary performances by all three leads especially Bridges as Marcus Hamilton, a Texan law enforcement officer who is dreading the banality of retirement. Instead Hamilton likes teasing his half-native American partner Alberto Parker played by Gil Birmingham during a stakeout.

Ben Foster is equally striking as the hot-headed and reckless ex-con Tanner Howard, clearly not the brains behind the heists. Tanner even robs a bank while his brother Toby is being chatted up by a curvaceous waitress wonderfully played by Katy Mixon, as he finishes his steak in a diner.

With a particularly insightful and witty script by Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water is an amusing and enjoyable contemporary Western, without resorting to levels of unexpected violence so frequent in such Coen brothers’ films as No Country for Old Man or True Grit.

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Instead director David Mackenzie delivers a smartly scripted film about two brothers trying to rectify their financial situation through unlawful means whilst a patient and watchful Hamilton waits for the two to make an irrevocable mistake. That happens in the final heist in a small town called Post, Texas where even the locals give chase to the Howard brothers through the expansive and desolate terrain. For everyone is packing a gun in Texas.

A touching moment before the fatal heist the night before between the Howard brothers, is a precursor to their luck running out. Like in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, as with most cops and robbers tales, eventually the tide does turn.

From Texas to Oklahoma and back again, Hell or High Water is a thoroughly enjoyable and well scripted film, featuring superb performances by Foster, Pine and Bridges and is definitely worth watching.

67th Golden Globe Awards

67th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 17th January 2010 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama: Avatar

Best Director: James Cameron – Avatar

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Best Film Musical or Comedy: The Hangover

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Best Actor Drama: Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart

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Best Actress Drama: Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Robert Downey Jr. – Sherlock Holmes

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Meryl Streep – Julie and Julia

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Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

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Best Supporting Actress: Monique – Precious

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Best Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon (Germany)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/67th_Golden_Globe_Awards

 

 

Utopia Unraveled

The Giver

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Director: Phillip Noyce

Stars: Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan

Australian director Phillip Noyce (Rabbit Proof Fence, Salt) takes on the big screen adaptation of the 1993 Lois Lewry allegorical Sci-Fi novel The Giver.

Shot mostly in Cape Town, with the iconic Greenpoint stadium as its main focal point, The Giver follows a Utopian society on a mesa, a sort of elevated plateau where a seemingly perfect yet ominously drugged society exists. Imagine a society with no colour, no differences, no desires and no envy, a society in which all the deeper human emotions have been eradicated.

Brenton Thwaites last seen in Maleficent, has a more prominent role as Jonas a young man who definitely realizes that this version of Utopia in which he graduates into is not quite as it seems. The Utopian Society is presided over by the Elder, in a strange casting choice for Meryl Streep to appear in a sci-fi thriller. Naturally Streep inhabits the role with just the right amount of malice and omniscience to scare the citizens of this perfect world.

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Upon his graduation, Jonas is assigned to be the receiver of knowledge and must leave his constructed parents played in a deadpan fashion by Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard and visit The Giver, a bearded and wise Jeff Bridges, who transports all of the society’s so called memories, painful and exhilarating to Jonas via human touch.

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The Giver being the keeper of knowledge naturally lives in a library called The Edge, beyond which is Elsewhere. This film is purely allegorical and philosophical and whilst Jonas’s courageous attempt to escape the Utopian society are fraught with potential danger and deception, his rebellion is not based on a motivated counterpoint, nor for that matter is the real reason for creating such a bland uniform society. In essence Jonas is escaping a bizarre pristine gated community.

The Giver could have been a real significant sci-fi thriller yet despite some flamboyant directorial embellishments which include a whole series of memory flashbacks of human emotions, wars and iconic leaders, the film does not live up to its hype as something truly astounding unlike the Tom Cruise sci fi Oblivion. There are no twists or turns, more an allegorical tale about the importance of celebrating difference and appreciating individuality, two aspects which this Utopia suppresses ultimately leading to Jonas’s rebellion.

Despite the casting of Oscar heavy weights Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, The Giver comes off as a mediocre version of The Hunger Games without the intensity or the violence. Thwaites as an actor holds his own as Jonas while the rest of the cast seem to pale literally in comparison except for the baby Gabriel, whom Jonas is desperate to save.

Then again babies don’t need to act, they are spontaneous. Its only constructed organized society which restricts adult individuality and creates a utopian order which given time will always unravel naturally. The Giver is bland viewing shot alternatively in black and white with dashes of colour, a narrative without much cathartic release, leaving lots of implausibility and questions. The film also stars Country Music Singer Taylor Swift as the mysterious Rosemary, Odeya Rush as Jonas’s love interest Fiona and Cameron Monaghan as his dubious friend Asher.

Revenge is a Snake Pit

True Grit

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Joel and Ethan’s Coen rendition of True Grit is a classic Western with the cowboys unshaven, filled with whiskey swigging gun-slinging characters who all appeared to have been beaten by the harsh environment of Arkansas in the 1870s frontier towns.

True Grit is a revenge tale with pitfalls both figurative and literal and as the old Chinese saying goes, when seeking revenge, it’s always best to dig two graves. At the centre of this Western, is Mattee Ross a determined 14 year old girl who is beset on avenging the death of her father.

Hailee Steinfeld delivers a superb performance, rightfully getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Ross hires Rooster Cogburn, an unsavory US Marshal who drinks too much whiskey and is not very fond of personal hygiene. Cogburn in his rough and scraggly demeanor is brilliantly portrayed by Jeff Bridges. A third character who makes up the unlikely trio of adventurers is La Boeuf, a dandified Texas Ranger, played with panache and egotism by Matt Damon, who quite frankly looks like a fellow who takes pride in his appearance.
This darkly comic journey reminiscent of the Coen brothers earlier film Oh Brother Where Art Thou? is more richly textured with symbolism and myth, complimented by beautiful cinematography by Roger Deakins. With the occasional spats of violence which as always in Coen Brothers films are swift, untimely and always shocking are tapered down in comparison to their Oscar winning masterpiece No Country for Old Men, which was drenched in the suspense of inevitable violence and pervading menace.

A Gritty Game of Rancher and Outlaw

As Westerns goes, this is not 3:10 to Yuma, James Mangold 2007 action packed gun tottering film featuring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as the cattle rancher and captured outlaw, but True Grit is closer to a period piece, shot in sepia colours complimented with stark black costumes and musing more on the legends of the Old West as opposed to the violence that characterized the era.

True Grit is more a homage to the film genre, a respectful and beautifully directed representation of a mythical error of the Wild Frontier, where the only real law of the land was each individual’s right to seek revenge where injustice had occurred, whatever the consequences. Nominated for 10 Oscars, unfortunately True Grit was beaten at the Academy Awards by the more technically brilliant film, Inception and the popular David Fincher film, The Social Network. In the acting stakes, Hailee Steinfeld is definitely a rising star, since receiving an Oscar nomination at age 15, a testament to her talent. Of all the Oscars True Grit should have won, it should have been for cinematography which was flawless.

Besides the accolades not heaped on the latest Coen Brothers film by this past Awards season, True Grit is nevertheless a terrific film about revenge, mortality and the myth of the Wild West. Watch out for a great cameo by Barry Pepper, all disheveled and wearing sheepskin chaps as the outlaw leader Lucky Ned Pepper.

A Neon Coated Inception

Tron Legacy is more impressive for its fantastic digital effects and a dazzling homage to the original Tron movie back in 1982 than for any impressive plotline beyond the eternal battle of good versus an evil form of the original 3 dimensional creator.

The effects are better, the look glossier and the action captivating. This version of Tron is a neon-coated Inception without Christopher Nolan’s psychological plot twists, but retaining high production values, stylish sets and director Joseph Kosinski emphasizes the infinity of the Tron digital grid, with all its notorious battlegrounds and ravishing images.

Digital Hero with Charming Dexterity

Garrett Hedlund proves himself as a leading man, the energetic Sam Flynn opposite the versatile Jeff Bridges reprising his role as Sam’s father Kevin Flynn, mysterious founder of Tron video Games, languishing in digital exile and battling an existential identity crisis with his own nemesis. Watch out for a scene-stealing camped up performance by Michael Sheen as Zuse, a sort of Electronic Discotheque owner and dubious double-crosser. Olivia Wilde makes a wonderful appearance as the fearless warrior and digital queen Quorra.

Tron Legacy is really best suited for 3-D and definitely has to be watch in a big screen cinema, with the spectacular effects and brilliant soundtrack by daftpunk. Fans of Science fiction films be sure to watch Tron Legacy more for its dazzling production design and digital effects than any unusual surprises in plot. Tron Legacy pays homage to Star Wars, Blade Runner, Terminator and all the epic science fiction films of the eighties most importantly the original ground-breaking film Tron released in 1982.

Digital Classic for the Computer Generation

The Savy Super Anti-Hero

Iron Man

The superbly versatile character actor, Robert Downey Jnr has made a big screen comeback in the summer blockbuster Marvel comics’ film adaptation of Iron Man bringing a fresh twist on the superhero role. In recent years, we have seen numerous film trilogies about super heroes, from the X-Men to Spiderman become box office successes.

Downey returns to form with a Money Spinner

Iron Man opens promisingly with Downey Jnr playing Tony Stark a weapons manufacturer on a visit to Afghanistan. He is chatting boisterously with American soldiers in the back of an armoured vehicle, while sipping on a fine whisky, a decadent contrast to the passing landscape of the bleak Afghan province of Kunar. Stark poses for photographs and does not to take life seriously even though he is responsible for inheriting an empire that builds weapons of apparently mass destruction. Portrayed as somewhat of a playboy, as seen in flashbacks whereby Stark goes from gambling at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas while missing his own awards ceremony to seducing a blonde reporter at his immense Malibu mansion. All the while, drinks in hand, he casually races to his private Californian airstrip to board a luxury jet en route to Afghanistan, where he is due to present the latest product from Stark industries, Jericho, a rocket launcher with magnificent destructive capacities.

The self-indulgent Tony Stark is soon captured by a militant group of rebels, living in the Afghan mountains, certainly suggestive of the Taliban. There he is forced to build another weapon for this guerilla group, but aided by a mysterious fellow prisoner, he builds an iron suit, which is powered by a flashy blue battery that keeps shrapnel from entering his heart. The film follows similar superhero plots whereby the hero returns to his native California after annihilating his captives and finds that his very newly acquired powers are being undermined by those closest to him.

Besides the inconsistencies in storyline, evident of a group of screenwriters marrying diverging plot points, Iron Man follows most superhero storylines, from Spiderman to the more recent Ghost Rider, always ultimately rescuing the female lead, in this case, Stark’s efficient assistant Pepper Pots played with a surprising subtlety by Gwyneth Paltrow. What was so attractive in this film was this standard plot being treated with a subverted and ironically mature undertone, given that the hero is a middle-aged millionaire who draws on his own emotional vulnerabilities to eventually fuel his physical transformation from careless warmonger to conscientious saviour. Iron Man, the super hero, almost is an anti-hero, defeating the villain and saving the distressed damsel, while still retaining his own personal insecurities.

Thus, Downey’s performance fits perfectly with this subversion of a traditional superhero, as he smirks and delights in a clearly comic role, with significantly relevant undertones; especially enhanced by the fact that Iron Man doesn’t actually possess any supernatural powers, his ironclad flying suit is entirely his own creation.

82nd Academy Awards

Oscar Winners for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards: ~

Sunday 7th March 2010

The 82nd Academy Award Winners

 

Best Film – The Hurt Locker

Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker 

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Best Actor – Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart

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Best Actress –Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side

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Best Supporting Actress – Mon’que – Precious

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Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

Best Original Screenplay – Mark Boal for the Hurt Locker

Best Adapted Sreenplay – Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious based upon the novel Push by Sapphire

Secret in their Eyes

Best Foreign Language Film – The Secret in Their Eyes by Juan Jose Campanella (Argentina)

Best Film Editing – The Hurt Locker

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Best Cinematography – Avatar

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Best Costume Design – Sandy Powell – The Young Victoria

Best Visual Effects – Avatar

Best Original Score – UP

Best Original Song – Crazy Heart – The Weary Kind

Best Cinematography – Avatar

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/82nd_Academy_Awards

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