Posts Tagged ‘John Malkovich’

Another Handsome Stranger

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Director: Joe Berlinger

Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, John Malkovich, Angela Sarafyan, Jeffrey Donovan, Haley Joel Osment , Brian Geraghty, Terry Kinney, Kaya Scodelario, Jim Parsons

Based on the memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile stylishly directed by crime documentary film maker Joe Berlinger is a fascinating and deeply disturbing portrait of a devilishly handsome sociopath, the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy superbly played by the gorgeous Zac Efron (The PaperBoy, The Greatest Showman, We are Your Friends) in a determined departure from his comic roles.

Elizabeth Kendall is played by Rules Don’t Apply star Lily Collins who gives a mesmerizing performance as a young girl captivated by Bundy’s killer good looks, his charm and his demonic charisma. Kendall first meets the handsome stranger in a bar in Seattle in 1969 and Berlinger’s film is told from her perspective and rather than focus on the heinous crimes that Bundy committed in several states across America from Utah, Colorado to Florida.

Always maintaining his innocence even when he was arrested for multiple murders in Florida, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile chooses rather to focus on the glamourous media attention that Bundy received both in the Florida courthouse and earlier in Aspen, Colorado where he brazenly escaped from a courthouse in broad daylight in 1977.  

It is really the Florida trial where Bundy even was allowed to defend his own innocence against a unimpressed judge Edward D. Cowart wonderfully played by Oscar nominee John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons) where Berlinger’s film comes into sharp dramatic focus and where Efron excels in some superbly written dialogue between a clearly delusional and narcissistic Bundy and Judge Cowart who is desperately trying to avert the trial from becoming a sensationalist media circus.

As serial killer films go, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is original in the way it handles its subject matter but is no means gripping or scary like Jonathan Demme’s Oscar winning fictional film The Silence of the Lambs which won both Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s Oscars for Best Actor and Actress respectively back in 1992.

What is so disturbing besides Zac Efron’s handsome movie star face masquerading as the real Ted Bundy is the apparent ease with which Bundy eluded law enforcement agents in several states and managed to kill, decapitate and rape over 20 young women in the 1970’s before eventually being caught and sentenced to death. Viewers have to bear in mind this was decades before DNA analysis and pervasive social media.

Nevertheless Zac Efron does give a brilliant performance as Bundy aided by Lily Collins as the denial ridden ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall who once trusted Bundy with her young daughter.

Worth seeing for its originality and audacity, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is helped by a fantastic supporting cast including Jim Parsons, Jeffrey Donovan and Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense).

Read more about the terrible crimes of Ted Bundy –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy

The Well from Hell

Deepwater Horizon

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Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brein, Ethan Suplee, J. D. Evermore, Jason Kirkpatrick

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Good films often work because of professional partnerships between an actor and director. This is the case in the second collaboration between Lone Survivor director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg.

Deepwater Horizon graphically depicts the horrific events which went horribly wrong on the night of 20th April 2010, when the Transocean oil rig run by BP, Deepwater Horizon exploded and eventually caused one of the worst ecological disasters in American history as the coastline states on the Gulf of Mexico were damaged by millions of litres of Brent crude oil which washed up on the beaches from Florida to Louisiana.

As in Lone Survivor, Peter Berg likes to tackle real and recent historical events. His version of Deepwater Horizon is both visually impressive, with stunning sound and visual effects as well as absorbing to watch, without going too deeply into the ecological side of the disaster.

As a director Berg chooses to rather focus on what went wrong at Deepwater Horizon. This is graphically explained in an earlier scene with Wahlberg and his wife Felicia played by Kate Hudson (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), when his young daughter explains to Wahlberg’s real life character Mike Williams as part of a show and tell, what her father does on an oil rig. She illustrates this by using a coke can, punctuating it with a straw then filling the straw with honey. Eventually the pressure builds and the coke explodes all over the dining room table.

Without delving too deeply into the technical aspects of went wrong, basically Deepwater Horizon was a faulty rig, or as one mechanic states this is “The Well from Hell”.

Under pressure from corporate bosses, and after several negative pressure tests, they attempt to start drilling for oil and soon everything goes horribly wrong and the flammable oil starts shooting up through the rig and with a combination of leaking gas causes a massive explosion and widespread devastation.

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The best part of the film, is the actual explosion on Deepwater Horizon and how Williams and his colleague Andrea Fleytas played by Gina Rodriguez eventually escape off the oil rig, which soon resembles a floating towering inferno. The scene between Wahlberg and Rodriguez as the two have to psyche each other up to escape this disastrous oil rig which is rapidly being engulfed in flames is absolutely riveting.

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Audiences should look out for an impressive performance by Oscar nominee John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, In the Line of Fire) as a pushy corporate boss Vidrine complete with a southern drawl.

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Kurt Russell has an opportunity to act with his stepdaughter Kate Hudson in Deepwater Horizon, both actors playing supporting roles.

Deepwater Horizon is a visually impressive account of the worst oil disaster in American History which led to one of the most devastating ecological disasters planet Earth has ever had to endure. The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, eventually led BP to pay millions of dollars in damages.

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While Peter Berg chooses to focus on the actual event instead of its aftermath, Deepwater Horizon is a gripping film to watch especially considering that this disaster only occurred six years ago in 2010. In the factual film drama genre, Deepwater Horizon is highly recommended viewing, similar to Thirteen Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

 

Project Nightshade

RED 2

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Retired and Extremely Dangerous

Director: Dean Parisot

Cast: Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Neal McDonough, Steven Berkoff, David Thewlis, Byung-Hun Lee, Tim Pigott-Smith, Brian Cox

Despite the inherent violence in the film’s narrative, Red 2 is an enjoyable yet not particularly lucid sequel to the 2010 hit Red, which stands for Retired and Extremely Dangerous. Both films are inspired by DC Comics so that should give the audience an indication of what to expect: lots of action, globetrotting assassins and a convoluted story line with a dash of witty one liners.

Considering the calibre of the cast of Red 2, including Oscar Winners Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) and Helen Mirren (The Queen) along with the main stars, Bruce Willis, the fabulous Oscar nominee John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons) and Mary-Louise Parker (Red Dragon), this sequel’s script could have been sharper. Although thankfully the female stars do elevate the narrative beyond another sort of The Expendables type film, featuring all male action stars over 45 slugging it out with an armoury that could annihilate a small eastern European country. Director Dean Parisot goes for violence over sophisticated repartee, which is a great pity considering the cast he had at his disposal.

Red 2 is hugely entertaining but could have had a less complicated narrative and the action could have been diluted more effectively. There is the perennial car chase scene in Paris (straight out of A View to a Kill), the Kremlin scene in Moscow, straight out of countless spy movies and the more recent A Good Day to Die Hard and an aerial chase sequence across London’s slate grey skyline which is definitely inspired by the Bond franchise.

If audiences have not seen Red, then its best to see that first before seeing Red 2, but the premise is simply about an international group of retired spies and assassins (ex CIA, Mi6, Russian intelligence) who inadvertently stumble on a a plan to activate a so-called forgotten nuclear device in Moscow codenamed Project Nightshade after it was left there during the Cold War by a rogue American spy unit. The globe hopping from suburban America to London, Paris and Moscow is great but comically inspired and nothing as brilliant as the elegant cityscape changes seen in Skyfall.

Red 2 also features Byung-Hun Lee as a knife-wielding assassin last seen in GI Joe, Retaliation along with Neal McDonough as the vicious agent Jack Horton, but it is really Mary-Louise Parker’s performance which lifts Red 2 out of Comic book banality  as the sharp and sassy Sarah, girlfriend to Frank Moses played by Bruce Willis who is always hankering for more adventure and glamour, spicing up their crumbling romance.

Look out for a hilarious scene at the end of the film set in Caracas. Anymore details, then that would give the game away. Also featuring a briefly seen Steven Berkoff and David Thewlis as the Frog, a Wikileaks inspired classified intelligence hacker. Red 2 is fun viewing, heavy on action, light on content and plausibility!

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