Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Pryce’

Behind the Facade

The Wife

Director: Bjorn Runge

Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close, Max Irons, Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern

Oscar nominee Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons) gives a highly nuanced performance as The Wife opposite Carrington star Jonathan Pryce in a film directed by Bjorn Runge.

Pryce plays acclaimed Connecticut based novelist Joe Castleman who receives news that he is to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature for his life’s work. Castleman is egotistical, vain and still relishing in the literary glory which is about to be bestowed upon him in the Swedish capital Stockholm.

Glenn Close is utterly brilliant as his wife Joan, a subtle performance which is stylish and challenging and proves that she is more than capable of acting opposite men that assume they are much bigger stars than she is.

Close should have won an Oscar years ago and is an exceptionally talented actress especially for her dynamic roles in Stephen Frears’ acclaimed French period drama Dangerous Liaisons (1989) opposite John Malkovich and later in Rodrigo Garcia’s superb 2011 film Albert Nobbs.

Opposite Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close revels in all the attention, particularly in the second half of The Wife, whereby the marital strains of a literary relationship unravel during a glittering European awards ceremony, revealing an extraordinary secret.

The Wife is a fascinating portrayal of glory bestowed upon a man that clearly does not deserve the accolade and a vengeful wife who is determined to expose her husband’s flaws without exposing the cracked marriage to their children, particularly their rebellious son David, wonderfully played by Max Irons, who is the son of Oscar winner Jeremy Irons.

Incidentally is quite ironic that Glenn Close who acted opposite Jeremy Irons when he portrayed Claus von Bulow in director Barbet Schroeder’s fabulous 1990 film Reversal of Fortune, a performance which won him an Oscar, is now acting opposite his son Max.

Audiences should look out for brief cameos by Oscar nominee Elizabeth McGovern (Ragtime), who more recently appeared in the hit BBC show Downton Abbey penned by Julian Fellowes and Christian Slater as a persistent journalist who is determined to uncover the truth about Joe Castleman’s literary legacy.

The Wife is a complex portrayal of a marriage unravelling at the critical point when the couple should be solidifying their lifetime achievements.

The Wife gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing.

A Dazzling Restitution

Woman in Gold

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Director: Simon Curtis

Cast: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Katie Holmes, Daniel Bruhl, Jonathan Pryce, Frances Fisher, Max Irons, Elizabeth McGovern, Charles Dance, Tatiana Maslany, Moritz Bleibtreu

My Week with Marilyn director Simon Curtis, follows up the success of that film with the brilliant Woman in Gold about art restitution based on a true account of how Maria Altmann an Austrian refugee fought to get Gustav Klimt’s famous and dazzling portrait of her aunt, Woman in Gold restored to her as the rightful owner after it was illegally seized by the Nazi’s in Vienna during the rise of the Third Reich in Europe.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen) heads up an eclectic cast as Maria Altmann who approaches a young lawyer also of Austrian descent, Randy Schoenberg wonderfully played by Ryan Reynolds in one of his best screen performances to date to take on the Austrian government in reclaiming the gorgeous painting, which is in fact a family heirloom, now hanging in the Belvedere gallery in Vienna, Austria.

Woman in Gold is set in 1998 in Los Angeles with frequent flashbacks to the late 1930’s in Vienna which also charts the daring escape of young Maria, boldly played by Tatiana Maslany and her fiancé played by Max Irons (The Riot Club) from the Nazi’s who eventually flee to America, leaving her parents and all their wealth and possessions behind.

Director Simon Curtis deals with the thorny and sensitive issue of Art restitution in a nuanced and intelligent way which gives balance to both sides of this deeply complex case. Like George Clooney’s Monument’s Men which dealt also with the Nazi’s sacking Europe of its artistic treasures, Woman in Gold specifically focuses on this case and the exquisite painting Woman in Gold by the illustrious Austrian Cubist artist Gustav Klimt, which is like the Mona Lisa of Austria and a sign of national identity.

The fact that the value of the painting is worth well over R100 million dollars also adds impetus to Randy’s fight but more than that is the emotional toll it takes on both characters as they fight for justice amidst contemporary bigotry and the rightful ownership of a hugely recognizable painting.

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Woman in Gold is ably assisted by a wonderful supporting cast including Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Katie Holmes (Pieces of April), Frances Fisher (The Lincoln Lawyer, Titanic), Charles Dance (White Mischief) and Jonathan Pryce (Carrington, Tomorrow Never Dies) but it is essentially held together by the superb performances of Mirren and Reynolds who despite their age difference make the film a fun, informative and deeply emotional quest to correctly addresses the wrongs of the past, in the name of art restitution and justice.

The fact that the international legal fight goes to the Supreme Court, which takes both Schoenberg and Altmann to Washington DC raises the level of the film along with the apparent assistance of the heir to the Estee Lauder fortune.

Woman in Gold is a fascinating, must see film for art lovers, and lovers of intelligent historical films which addresses a very topical and complex issue of restitution, which in this case dazzles with beauty. Highly recommended viewing.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

GI Joe: Retaliation

All Braun and no Brains

All Braun and no Brains

Following on the success of 2009 GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, featuring Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller, comes the delayed release of GI Joe: Retaliation directed by Jon M. Chu teams Dwayne Johnson with Bruce Willis along with some newcomers including D. J. Cotrona as Flint and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and is supported by Ray Stevenson (fresh from playing a Ukranian gangster on the series Dexter) as a fiendishly deranged Southerner, Firefly the muscle for the Cobra group and a little seen Channing Tatum as Duke, one of the original GI’s and Ray Park as Snake Eyes.

With a convoluted plot involving an imposter American president played with evil cynicism by Jonathan Pryce, reprising his megalomaniac villain Elliot Carver from the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, this film is nothing more than a homage to all the weapons of mass destruction, and to a male-orientated obsession with weaponry, arms and naturally testosterone fueled combat. All types of weapons are on display in this film from samurai swords to high-calibre machine guns and whilst GI Joe: Retaliation is a great action packed film to watch, one hopes that it does not inspire some unwanted teenager to randomly gun down a group of strangers in a Mid-Western American mall. Sadly in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Connecticut and the massacre at the Aurora Theater in Colorado both in 2012, Gi Joe: Retaliation‘s overemphasis on weaponry surely points to a society which is unwilling to relinquish its right to bear arms despite the many casualties.

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Gi Joe: Retaliation action spans the globe from Pakistan to North Korea, from Washington DC to South Carolina, and whilst the plot resembles a twisted version of Diamonds are Forever without the glamour and whilst there are some great moments provided by Willis and Stevenson, most of the film is filled with explosions, knife fights, infinitely explosive gun battles, exhilarating boat and car chases and perfectly provides a cinematic reason to showcase all the weapons of retaliation stockpiled by any of the G8 nations, a fill arsenal of destruction, capable of flattening any major capital city in the globe, from London to Tokyo.

Fun to watch, without much thought behind it, GI Joe Retaliation will definitely find a following in its target audience and is not as good or slick as the original film, the slightly more sophisticated GI Joe, Rise of the Cobra. GI Joe: Retaliation has some fantastic sequences in it especially the ninjas on a Japanese mountain and the odd quirky dialogue naturally involving Bruce Willis, but the script is a bit too outlandish to be taken seriously and should really be viewed in the context of a some fun Saturday afternoon entertainment. Definitely recommended mainly for bored teenage boys and young men who like the action thick and fast without much thought.

 

Vibrating the Victorians

Hysteria

 

Tantalizing Indeed!

Hysteria is a hilarious romantic comedy set in Victorian London in 1880 about a struggling and well-meaning young Doctor, Dr Mortimer Granville played by the ever dashing Hugh Dancy (Evening)who joins up with a prominent Doctor whose medical practice’s sole aim is to treat bored suburban Victorian housewives of the so-called elusive feminine condition of Hysteria. Dr Granville whose under the patronage of wealthy entrepreneur Lord Edmund St John-Smythe, beautifully down played against type by Rupert Everett (Another Country, An Ideal Husband) and is fascinated by all modern electrical inventions which were increasingly surfacing in Victorian London at the ripening of the Industrial Revolution.

Dr Granville is taken in with board and lodging by an unorthodox Dr Dalrymple who is a widower with two very different daughters, the plain and simple Emily played by Felicity Jones and the hugely volatile and passionate Charlotte wonderfully played by the very talented Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Crazy Heart).

Hysteria works because of the fantastic on screen chemistry between Dancy and Gyllenhaal and is helped by a superbly witty script which highlights not only the bizarre inventions of late 19th Century England but also the more serious plight of women during the Industrial Revolution. Charlotte Dalrymple is a headstrong nurse and teacher who assist at a community school and shelter in the poorer East End of London, much to her pompous father’s disgust.

Charlotte is deeply involved in the ever growing suffragette movement http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffragette_movement which aimed to eventually give women in Victorian England the right to vote in a unusually patriarchal society ironically ruled by the steadfast Queen Victoria which left women suppressed by controlling men and often viewed as commodities to be traded in a marriage contract reflected in Dr Robert Dalrymple’s view of his daughters, played with an underlining misogyny by the hugely talented British actor Jonathan Pryce (Carrington, Tomorrow Never Dies).

Hysteria in women, whilst manifesting in a variety of symptoms is according to these Victorian doctors basically caused by a lack of sex. Comic moments abound as while the dashing Dr Granville is relieved to give women a helping hand, he eventually turns to his outrageous patron Lord St John-Smythe and between the two of them they perfect the world’s first mechanical vibrator minus the feathers.

Whilst the subject matter might be provocative, Hysteria manages to be an engaging and often hilarious comedy from a uniquely feminine perspective. The onscreen chemistry is fantastic, the cast top notch and the fashions to die for. Hysteria is recommended for all those lovers of period drama yet has all the proper doses of comedy and romance without descending into farce. Tanya Wexler directs and while the editing is not top notch, the script and story line is truly enlivening and not to mention based on historical fact. Really!

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