Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Connelly’

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.

Rejuvenated Web Slinger

Spiderman Homecoming

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Logan Marshall-Green, Jennifer Connelly, Laura Harrier, Angourie Rice

Young British star Tom Holland, who was riveting as Naomi Watt’s son Lucas in director J. A. Bayona’s The Impossible, takes on the iconic superhero role of Spiderman in the Sony Marvel reboot of the webslinger franchise in the captivating Spiderman Homecoming directed by Jon Watts.

Since Marvel entered into a rights partnership agreement to use the Sony copyrighted superhero in Captain America: Civil War when audiences first caught a brief glimpse of Tom Holland as the new Spiderman it was inevitable that he would get a film of his own.

Spiderman Homecoming is thoroughly entertaining augmented by Holland’s spunky performance as the brash young Peter Parker who is struggling to complete High School while also being mentored by Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jnr. The young Spidey has allusions of grandeur of being inducted into the Avengers army but Tony Stark is rather letting him prove his worth first.

In a poignant moment, Stark says to Peter Parker, if you are nothing without this suit then the suit will mean nothing. In other words, the clothes do not maketh the man.

Parker, played with humour and courage by Holland soon proves his worth and apparent screen appeal when while revealing his alter ego to his best friend also has to contend with an evil villain Vulture wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman) and his protective aunt May, whom he loves dearly played by another Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny).

While all this parental authority weighs down on the young webslinger he soon finds his own feet as he saves his science group from a diabolical end in the Washington monument whilst on a school trip to Washington D. C. The Washington monument and the action packed ferry sequences are two of the best in Spider Homecoming, both scenes being awash with symbolic American patriotism.

The irony is that Tom Holland is British is not lost on a more erudite viewer of pop culture.

Spider Homecoming has with some great cameo’s including Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Bokeem Woodbine of Fargo TV series fame as Herman Schultz, Vulture’s evil sidekick known as Shocker 2. Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) plays the ill-advised first evil sidekick Shock 1.

Parker’s love interest is high school crush Liz played by Laura Harrier which allows for the narrative to set up an interesting twist towards the end and will definitely satisfy any lack of diversity disclaimers.

Audiences should forget Tobey Maguire as Spiderman in the Sam Raimi Trilogy or the ill-fated Amazing Spiderman films starring Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland presents a revitalized savvy young superhero which will ensure the franchise’s continued survival in the cluttered Marvel universe as he will next be appearing in the anticipated The Avengers: Infinity War.

You never too old to watch Spiderman.

Spiderman Homecoming is blissfully entertaining and gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

 

55th BAFTA AWARDS

THE  55TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on the 24th February 2002 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film: The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring

Best Director: Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring

A Beautiful Mind

Best Actor: Russell Crowe – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Actress: Judi Dench – Iris

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Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent – Moulin Rouge

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind

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Best British Film: Gosforth Park

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Best Original Screenplay: Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Shrek

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Best Visual Effects: The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring

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Best Foreign Language Film: Love’s a Bitch (Amores perros)  directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Mexico)

 

59th Golden Globe Awards

The 59th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 20th January 2002 organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

A Beautiful Mind

Best Film Drama: A Beautiful Mind

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Best Film Musical or Comedy: Moulin Rouge

Best Actor Drama: Russell Crowe – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Actress Drama: Sissy Spacek – In the Bedroom

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Gene Hackman – The Royal Tenenbaums

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Nicole Kidman – Moulin Rouge

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Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent – Iris

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Director: Robert Altman – Gosforth Park

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Best Foreign Language Film: No Man’s Land (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/59th_Golden_Globe_Awards

 

 

The Creator’s Wrath

Noah

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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Douglas Booth, Nick Nolte

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Oscar winners Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Jennifer Connelly team up again after their successful onscreen pairing in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind, in Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky’s allegorical tale Noah, which has less to do with the bible story and more to do with humanity propensity for destroying the planet.

This visually packed tale of Noah, the ark and the great flood which ensues is inventive, patriarchal and slightly disappointing considering Aronofsky’s reputation for turning out shocking, if not provocative films like Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and his most successful film yet Black Swan, which earned Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar in 2011.

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Russell Crowe looks increasingly perplexed throughout the film of Noah, almost if he knew this cinematic tale might turn out controversially. The script is stilted and not thrashed out properly and even though the film is in 3D, many of the characters are one dimensional. Which is a pity considering that Aronofsky smaller films do focus on flawed characters trying to grapple with their own success or failure.

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British actor Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain and Logan Lerman as Noah’s son Ham stand out in the acting stakes in this version of Noah, while Crowe, Connelly and even Emma Watson come across as pathetic individuals caught up in an event greater than their own destinies, even though their destinies are tied in with the flood which devastated a ravaged earth, thanks to the descendants of Cain, who have wrecked havoc on the planet’s natural resource.

The whole dynamic of the creation narrative rests on  conflict. Adam and Eve enter the Garden of Eden and are confronted by temptation in the form of a serpent. Their children Cain and Abel battle jealousy and envy with Cain killing Abel, leaving a third brother Seth, of which Noah is descended to recover the familial equilibrium. Then the Creators Wrath returns and after a prophesy from Noah’s Grandfather, a wizened Anthony Hopkins that he should build an ark to survive the impending flood, Noah sets his three sons on a mission to complete a gigantic arc to save themselves and a handful of creatures so that a new population can inhabit a cleansed earth. The irony is that Director Aronofsky should not convince big budget Hollywood to give him free reign on an essentially biblical story.

Purists would not be pleased at the cinematic result which is Noah, not to mention that the narrative does not withstand the special effects and somewhere in between the flood, the entire plot is lost. Noah is an overlong allegorical and patriarchal tale with a hint of biblical connotation but is no cinematic masterpiece. Director Aronofsky should return to making small budget shocking films like the psycho sexual ballet thriller, Black Swan. Even Oscar nominated cinematography Matthew Libatique’s trademark sheen is lost on the 3D version of Noah.

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If Noah had been less about visual effects and more about a conceivable plot, then the film would have been vaguely interesting. Even Emma Watson’s (The Bling Ring) turn as Ila, Noah’s eldest son’s girlfriend and mother-to-be is not nearly as captivating. Where is all the sex, debauchery and shock value normally associated with Aronofsky films?  Noah is fascinating, but not fantastic cinema and would be better if left in 2D with a more fleshed out, stimulating narrative. Noah also stars Douglas Booth and unrecognizable Nick Nolte.

2009 Toronto Film Festival

2009 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

TIFF-2009

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: Creation directed by Jon Amiel starring Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jim Carter, Guy Henry

precious

People’s Choice Award:  Precious directed by Lee Daniels starring Monique, , Paula Patton, Mariah Carey & Lenny Kravitz

Cairo Time

Best Canadian Feature Film: Cairo Time directed by Ruba Nadda starring,

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

 

74th Academy Awards

74th Academy Awards

24th March 2002

Oscar Winners at the 74th Academy Awards

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Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind

Best Director: Ron HowardA Beautiful Mind

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Best Actor: Denzel Washington – Training Day

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Best Actress: Halle Berry – Monster’s Ball

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Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent – Iris

Best Support Actress: Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Original Screenplay – Julian Fellowes – Gosford Park

Best Adapted Screenplay – Akiva Goldsman – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Foreign Language Film – No Man’s Land directed by Danis Tanovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Best Documentary Feature: Murder on a Sunday Morning directed by Jean Xavier Lastrade and Denis Poncet

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Best Original Score – Howard Shore – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

Best Cinematography – Andrew Lesnie – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

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Best Costume Design – Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie – Moulin Rouge

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Best Film Editing – Pietro Scalia – Black Hawn Down

Best Visual Effects – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/74th_Academy_Awards

 

 

Only by Day, can the Graveyard be Seen

Reservation Road

Reservation Road is a profoundly tragic human drama about how the lives of two families are affected by a fatal hit and run accident one dark night on Reservation Road, in suburban Connecticut. Terry George best known for the harrowingly brilliant film Hotel Rwanda, brings this engrossing film version of the novel by John Burnham Schwartz to the big screen with a subtlety and sensitivity remininscent in all its despair of similar films like The House of Sand and Fog and The Ice Storm.

Colliding worlds with tragic consequences

With such talented actors at his disposal, including Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly and nominee Joaquin Phoenix, who both prove their endless range and depth of emotion and a welcome change for actor Mark Ruffalo playing the hapless lawyer who causes the accident, proceeding to pathetically endure the guilt and torment of someone that has committed an irreversible crime. Phoenix takes on the opposite male role of Media Professor Ethan Learner who desperately battles to make sense of an awesome loss, and invariably realizes that in any hit and run accident justice is never fair.

What makes Reservation Road so engaging and exceptionally sad as was the case in Jennifer Connelly’s earlier film House of Sand and Fog, was that it is the children who suffer the most. This film relies on the human emotions of loss, grief, guilt and a longed for revenge, while highlighting the difficulty of how ordinary citizens come to terms with an unexpected and tragic encounter that will irreparably change their lives forever. The eternity of Reservation Road, makes the film more compelling, for accidents can happen anywhere in the world. While even the most idyllic of places can be fraught with human suffering, sometimes its better concealed behind beautiful homes and garages in tranquil suburban Connecticut, than in other more volatile regions as illustrated in war-torn Rwanda, suffering just as universal, especially when children become the victims.

Reservation Road might appear to be another tear-inducing cinematic experience, the film also skillfully delves into the significance of loss and revenge in our contemporary worlds with a suspense so naturally frightening, where we so often seek comfort in all things technological, while grappling to deal with death and the subsequent grief it inflicts. Terry George and author Schwartz worked on the subtle script combined with some great performances especially by Connelly and Phoenix, making this film worthwhile. See it and don’t be afraid to shed a tear.

Natural Selection and the Origin of Species

Creation

Jon Amiel’s film Creation is a thought-provoking and beautifully crafted story about Charles Darwin who went up against Victorian religious principles and published the ground-breaking book entitled Origin of Species in 1859.

Darwin’s Origin of the Species was a seminal work and changed forever the way man viewed himself, his position on this planet and his relationship with his God. That is Western Man. Darwin after having traveled far and wide from Australia to Tierra del Fuego on the tip of South America and most notably to Islands near Borneo, witnessing a wide range of the most fascinating aspects of nature and of the various inhabitants of these exotic lands returned to Victorian England and expounded the theory of natural selection, how man and beast are all linked through years of gradual mutation and survival of different species. How man itself is very much part of Nature and not the masters of it.

Creation is a film that will haunt the viewer with great images, superb cinematography and taut and compelling performances by the underated Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, the devoted wife and his first cousin Emma Westwood, also mother of his children who turns to God as refuge after the death of their eldest daughter. Both of them as parents suffer themselves for the scientific theory of survival of the fittest. Bettany as Darwin is outstanding as a man who initially is grappling to come to terms with the loss of a child but also the realization that his findings and work whilst not only be true will also shake the moral fibre of Victorian society who were bound by the book of Genesis and the notion that on the 7th day God created man to be the carer of all the forms of life found on this planet.

Darwin’s theory of evolution that man had evolved over millions of years from mammals like Monkeys and Orangutans was ground breaking and opened up a whole range of scientific, religious and anthropological debates about nature versus nurture, biological similarities and eventually paved the way for man to better understand the environment he was living in and how he was an intricate part of its evolution over millions of years. Creation as a film centres on Darwin’s anguish as a father, a writer and the realization that his discoveries were groundbreaking only to be proven correct by fellow scientists in the Spice Islands, overcoming the conflicts of religion and faith allowing him to publish the Origin of Species. Jon Amiel’s filmic reference is rich taking from Jane Campion’s The Piano to similar period films about the Victorian quest for discovery such as Mountains on the Moon and Greystoke: Lord of the Apes.

Lord of the Apes

Jennifer Connelly holds her own as the wife of a genius, a role very similar to what she played in her Oscar winning performance as the wife of brilliant but delusional Princeton mathematician John Forbes Nash in A Beautiful Mind.

Creation is a period drama focusing on the anguish of writing a seminal work and the events and inner demons that a writer suffers during his own private moments of creativity, more about the anguish of writing than the repercussions that will follow publication. Stark Victorian scenery is reminiscent of Capote whilst he battles to grasp the complexity of the Clutter killings in 1950’s desolate Kansas and the effects of capital punishment. As cinema Capote is more riveting whilst Creation is certainly as compelling yet lacks in the power to make it a contender on Oscar night relegating it to that film about Charles Darwin.  Notwithstanding Creation is worth watching even as a talking point about concepts which as man, we simply now in the 21st century take for granted. Man is evolving every day and nature is keeping that evolution in check despite the advancements of technology.

Through the White Picket Fence

Revolutionary Road

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Last year there was ample hype about the Sam Mendes film, Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio. Whilst the Oscar buzz only got a best supporting actor nod for Michael Shannon, the film itself about the brittle deterioration of a marriage in 1950s suburban Connecticut was seamless and superbly acted. Kate Winslet reprised a similar role as she did in Todd Field’s brilliant 2006 film, Little Children as a anxious housewife trapped in the monotony of a soulless marriage.

The Random act of Infidelity

The Random act of Infidelity

Whilst both films are worthy of attention, more notably Little Children, the novel, Revolutionary Road is an absolute must-read. Deftly crafted with superb subtle characters whilst referring to major themes of discontent, disillusion and the nature of insanity.

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The novel, Revolutionary Road, written by Richard Yates and is an ironic, sometimes humourous and especially scathing look at the hollowness of the Great American Dream especially piognant in its depiction of a society bound by the virtues of marriage, fidelity, corporate ambition and the myth of the white picket fence. Highly recommended novel, even better than the film adaptation.

 

Revolutionary Road will resonate now, nearly  fifty years on, as when it was first praised in 1962. The prose is wonderfully crafted with such detail and poignancy that clearly aims to undercut the sophisticated era it was meant to evoke.

Both the novel and the film version of Revolutionary Road are highly recommended but its always best to read the novel first before seeing the cinematic version.

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