Posts Tagged ‘Juno Temple’

Aurora’s Curse

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Director: Joachim Ronning

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Robert Lindsay, Juno Temple

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales director Joachim Ronning directs the highly anticipated lavish sequel to Disney’s 2014 fantasy film Maleficent. Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) reprises her role of Maleficent the Fey protector of Aurora in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and this time she is up against Queen Ingrith wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (Love Field, Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys).

In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Maleficent and Queen Ingrith first meet at a pre-marital dinner for Aurora played again by Elle Fanning (Mary Shelley, The Beguiled) and her beau Prince Philip played by Harris Dickinson last seen on the small screen as the kidnapped J. Paul Getty III in the excellent TV series Trust directed by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire).

Immediately Queen Ingrith and Maleficent do not hit it off, as the vivacious and calculating Queen sets a trap for the fairies at the impending wedding of Aurora and Prince Philip.

Soon Maleficent is sent wounded into the underworld where she is rescued by Conall played by Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and the hunky looking Borra played by Ed Skrein (Deadpool, The Transporter Refuelled).

British stars Juno Temple (Atonement, Wonder Wheel, Black Mass), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) and Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) reprise their roles as Thistlewit, Flittle and Knotgrass respectively.

Whilst the plot of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is certainly not as original as the 2014 film, the stunning visual effects and marvellous pace of the film make up for any shortcomings. The best casting choice was Michelle Pfeiffer playing the vicious Mother-in-Law to be much to the consternation of the utterly oblivious son and husband.

Fans of Maleficent will certainly savour this fabulous sequel even if it is to watch the gorgeous Angelina Jolie make her big screen comeback, post her highly publicized divorce from Brad Pitt.

All the secondary characters pale in comparison to the diva rivals onscreen namely Jolie and Pfeiffer as they battle it out in this glittering fantasy adventure to truly claim the nefarious title of Mistress of Evil.

While not as brilliant as the original, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil gets a Film Rating: 7 out of 10 and will surely keep audiences entertained while giving viewers further ideas for future Halloween ensembles.

66th BAFTA Awards

THE  66th BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 10th February 2013 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

argo

Best Film: Argo

Best Director: Ben Affleck – Argo

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Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

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Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

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Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

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Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables

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Rising Star: Juno Temple

Best British Film: Skyfall directed by Sam Mendes

Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

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Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina

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Best Foreign Language Film: Amour directed by Michael Haneke

Source: 66th BAFTA Awards

 

 

The Winter Hill Reign

Black Mass

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Director: Scott Cooper

Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Juno Temple.

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Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper brings to life a gripping and violent cinematic adaptation of the 2001 non-fiction book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill based upon the exploits of Irish-American crime lord and fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger played with a menace not seen on screen since Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by Oscar nominee Johnny Depp.

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Cooper assembles an all-star cast including Benedict Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate) as Whitey Bulger’s brother and senator William Bulger, Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Warrior) in a career defining performance as conflicted FBI agent John Connolly, Dakota Johnson as James Bulger’s wife Lindsey and David Harbour (Quantum of Solace) as Connolly’s co-worker John Morris.

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Audiences should look out for Kevin Bacon as FBI boss Charles McGuire and a stunning cameo by Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine) as coked up Florida businessman Brian Halloran and Corey Stoll as the non-nonsense prosecutor Fred Whysak.

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James “Whitey” Bulger superbly played by Depp in his most menacing performance yet, is a pure psychopath whose relentless ambition is to rid his own South Boston gang, known as the Winter Hill gang not only of informants, who he casually kills at the drop of a hat but of their main opposition the Italian mafia in the form of the Angiulo Brothers which control North Boston.

Bulger and his band of thugs control South Boston and he soon becomes a so-called informant at the request of oily FBI agent Connolly whose childhood loyalty to Bulger is blinded by the real monster that Bulger has become. This is a man who strangles a prostitute with his bare hands, who casually shoots his friend in the head after a bar room altercation, yet will simultaneously sit down and play cards with his elderly mother. Insight in to the source of Bulger’s psychopathic behaviour comes from a line in Black Mass, when he admits to doing trials for LSD during an eight year prison stint in Alcatraz and Levenworth.

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The tipping point in Bulger’s blood thirst occurs when his young son unexpectedly dies from Reyes syndrome after an allergic reaction to aspirin. Bulger’s manipulation of his alliance with Connolly is brilliantly portrayed in Black Mass with Australian actor Joel Edgerton giving a remarkable performance akin to that of Matt Damon in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Connolly is heavily beholden to Bulger and his professional and personal judgement suffers after his close association with such a violent mobster, highlighting the extent of corruption endemic in American cities in the 1980’s. Even Connolly’s wife Marianne played by Julianne Nicholson last seen in August: Osage County remarks on her husband’s new clothes and his flashy almost cocky swagger.

Joel Edgerton deserves an Oscar nomination for his role in Black Mass as does Johnny Depp, although at times the menace portrayed by Depp obliterates any audience empathy for his character. For James “Whitey” Bulger is a true psychopath, blood thirsty, unpredictable, paranoid and completely ruthless. Audiences should be warned of some exceptionally violent scenes in Black Mass, akin to Scorsese’s Goodfellas or Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

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Scott Cooper skilfully directs Black Mass and uses the multi-talented cast to bring to cinema the true story of American gangsters in South Boston in the 1970’s and 1980’s while remaining faithful to the source material, based on a meticulously researched screenplay by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk.

Whether Black Mass will garner nominations in the upcoming awards season remains to be seen, but as a film it is worth watching and brilliantly acted. Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Kill the Messenger and The Departed.

 

Rivals for her Affection

Far From the Madding Crowd

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Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple, Matthias Schoenaerts, Bradley Hall, Jessica Barden

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg who gained international attention with his Oscar Nominated film The Hunt, takes on a cinematic adaptation of the 19th century classic Thomas Hardy novel Far From the Madding Crowd and what a superb piece of cinema it is.

The high production values and the crackling onscreen energy between Carey Mulligan who plays the headstrong heroine Bathsheba Everdene and the handsome yet rugged farm manager Gabriel Oak is played by Belgian rising star Matthais Schoenaerts who both make this film captivating.

At the centre of Thomas Hardy’s novel was a rather unconventional idea for its time that of a female heroine taking charge of a large farm in rural Dorset in the 1870’s. Far From the Madding Crowd published in 1874 at the height of the Victorian era become an instant classic and since the twentieth century has been turned into many cinematic adaptations most notably the 1967 classic film of the same name with Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates and Terence Stamp as well as a modern day variation Tamara Drewe (2010) with Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper.

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Vinterberg’s version of Far From the Madding Crowd is a handsomely produced, exceptionally acted and beautifully shot in which he extracts genuine performances out of Mulligan and Schoenaerts along with the rest of the supporting cast including Michael Sheen (The Queen), as the prosperous bachelor William Boldwood and the audacious and reckless Sergeant Troy, played with a sort of hint of danger by Tom Sturridge (Being Julia and On the Road). Even Juno Temple as the befallen young damsel, Fanny Robbin is equally good.

What elevates Vinterberg’s film is an intelligent screenplay by David Nicholls and sumptuous cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen together with wonderful costumes by Janet Paterson. Shot mainly in Buckinghamshire, Far From The Madding Crowd will be sure to illicit a renewed interest in Hardy’s novels and especially in the many film adaptations of his work including the 1979 film Tess directed by Roman Polanski featuring Nastassja Kinski.

Bathsheba has to deal with the business of running a farm, which was naturally male dominated as well as warding off possible suitors from the likes of Boldwood and the arrogant Sergeant Troy, whilst her sturdy farm manager, Gabriel Oak, remains loyal to her even when she makes mistakes. The ending of Far From the Madding Crowd is truly sublime and each character is perfectly cast in their roles.

Thomas Vinterberg’s ravishing and gripping rural drama should surely garner some awards at least for the handsome production design and for expertly recreating such a literary treasure on the big screen, making the film just as relevant in an age filled with multimillion dollar CGI laden blockbusters.

Far From the Madding Crowd is an exceptional film and highly recommended for those that enjoyed Jane Campion’s The Piano, Joe Wright’s 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and more recently Cary Fukunaga’s superb film Jane Eyre featuring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.

Never Clip a Fairy…

Maleficent

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Director: Robert Stromberg

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Kenneth Cranham, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Leslie Manville

The classic Disney tale of Sleeping Beauty is gorgeously reinvented entirely from the perspective of the jilted fairy Malificent who after a brief romance with a young teenage boy, Stefan soon discovers humanity’s tendency for greed and ambition.

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Oscar winner Angelina Jolie’s magnetic screen presence reverberates throughout this spectacular fantasy as she transforms from an innocent though powerful fairy to an evil, caustic fairy who avenges the older Stefan, played by District 9’s Sharlto Copley, who in his ambition to become King of the Human Realms, clips Malificent’s powerful wings while she is sleeping.

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Malificent in turn seeks revenge on the nearby kingdom with a spectacular entrance at the christening of Stefan’s only baby daughter, the cute and adorable Aurora, casting a spell on the child that by the time she turns 16 she will have pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a treacherous sleep, only to be broken by the kiss of her true love. Naturally Stefan bundles the child off to a safe haven in the countryside with the help of three hapless fairy guardians, played by Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Leslie Manville away from Malificent and any lethal needles from nearby spinning wheels, most of which have been tossed into a dungeon and burned.

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Meanwhile the war between the fairies and humans intensifies as Stefan sends his burly soldiers to destroy Malificent’s magical realm only to be met by an impenetrable wall of thorns. Curiosity gets the better of the teenage Aurora, a luminous performance by the new Hollywood It girl Elle Fanning (Somewhere, Super 8, Ginger and Rosa) who ventures into Malificent’s domain and naturally meets the menacing if not curious evil fairy who soon harbours an unnatural affection for the cursed youth.

Malificent is ably assisted by Diaval, a changeling creature, played by Sam Riley which enables her to keep an eye on Stefan’s Kingdom.
The stage is set for a showdown between Malificent and King Stefan with the wandering Aurora a luscious pawn in their bitter fight representative of eternal unrequited love.

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What makes this cinematic retelling of Sleeping Beauty truly astounding is the spell bounding special effects and an astounding powerful performance by the dazzling Angelina Jolie, whose star power clearly is the main reason Disney Studios choose to reinvent a darker more accessible version of the original animated Sleeping Beauty classic.

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Malificent is dazzling, intriguing and while retaining its childhood charm, balances a subtle attraction for older audiences, who prefer their fairies darker and vengeanceful. Angelina Jolie is central to this fine balancing act and the scenes between her and Fanning as Aurora are especially infused with delicacy and dimension, making Malificent one of the more complex and sympathetic hero/villain characters ever created in the pantheon of modern day fairy and folklore tales.

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Malificent is highly recommended viewing not just for Angelina Jolie’s powerful and superb performance but also for the brilliant special effects orchestrated by first time director Robert Stromberg who served as a Visual Effects Supervisor on such films as 2012, The Hunger Games and Shutter Island. Watch out for newcomer Australian actor Brenton Thwaites as the naive Prince Phillip aka Prince Charming.

 

How to capture a King…

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl is a faithful and condensed film adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s engrossing novel about Mary and Anne Boleyn, the sisters whose fateful and tragic involvement in King Henry VIII, not only changed the course of the British monarchy, but also established a Tudor dynasty.

In the wake of similar films and series about this fascinating and intriguing period of English history, namely the raunchy TV series The Tudors and the most recent sequel to Elizabeth, Shekhar Kapur’s lavish Elizabeth, the Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, may not appear as spectacular but was certainly as entertaining for anyone who has a keen interest in the historical events of the sixteenth century. The equally talented Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman take the roles of sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn respectively. Johansson reprising her doleful yet stoical performance similar to her earlier role as Vermeer’s muse in Girl with a Pearl Earring, while Portman is splendidly belligerent and regal as Anne Boleyn, capturing the self-important air of an ambitious Queen, reminiscent of her portrayal of the young Queen Amidala in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

While the intrigues of the British monarchy some four hundred years ago, may not appeal to everyone’s taste, first time film director Justin Chadwick swiftly moulds The Other Boleyn Girl into a fast-paced, costume drama, filled with ruthless Dukes, and unforgiving nobility, who centre their power-hungry plans on King Henry VIII, a despotic and fickle monarch, whose attentions dangerously shift from his Queen, to his mistresses and who eventually become notoriously famous for, discarding, wedding and even beheading many of his six wives. Monogamy was never his strongest feature.

King Henry VIII, such a mythical figure in the annuls of British history has been portrayed by many onscreen, so it is with obvious difficulty that the Australian actor, Eric Bana had in capturing the essence of this potent King’s spoilt and almost tyrannical character. His efforts do not go unnoticed, however, Bana fails to reflect the truly conflicted nature of Henry as the complex ruler he was. While the novel of The Other Boleyn Girl fills one with all the intricate details of his splendid court and the complex relations within the Boleyn family, whereby woman were used as pawns to further a family’s status in the Kingdom, the film is given some grounding by a strong performance by Kristin Scott Thomas as the sisters mother, Lady Elizabeth, who is savagely critical of the manipulations of her brother, the sisters’ uncle, the influential Duke of Norfolk.

With the intelligent casting of such rising stars as Johansson and Portman, the film will hopefully appeal to a younger generation of viewers, in an effort to make history and royal courtship so infinitely attractive. After all, both sisters were barely out of their teens when their affairs with King Henry began, and they like everyone else fell prey to the whims of a supremely powerful figure, the equivalent to a modern day tyrant.

Sexy and lush menage a trois

Sexy and lush menage a trois

Eventually both sisters capture the King’s affections and lose them again, with disastrous consequences for one, and fortunate, yet ironic consequences for the other. Both the film and the novel of The Other Boleyn Girl are worth investing some effort in, demonstrating that while society has advanced considerably from the 1500s, we, as human beings are still driven by such forces as greed, ambition, lust and betrayal and unfortunately, even nowadays, tyrants still linger unhindered in forgotten regions of the world.

A Lost Chance at Amendment

Atonement

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Joe Wright’s sumptious cinematic version of the acclaimed novel Atonement by Ian McEwan is really worth viewing a second time round…

Having read Atonement in 2007 and waited for the big screen version of the tale about real and imagined crimes, war and the devastation of innocence, I was suitably impressed by Wright’s cinematic version of a complex novel by author McEwan. Only on a second viewing do I fully appreciate the intricate variations of a grand tale about innocence, loss and the absolute devastation of World War II on all nations concerned. With a brilliant screenplay by the masterful Christopher Hampton, who brought us Dangerous Liaisons and the elegant film Carrington about the life of Lytton Strachey, Wright propels the viewer into an elegant scene of the snobbish society of English country life that is soon transformed forever at the approaching threat of war… showing both those that profits off war’s destruction and those that lose everything by the infinite devastation of endless violence.

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What makes Wright’s film version so brilliant, is his effective use of water as a motif both for purification and as a form of atonement and cleansing, whether its the illicit sexual encounters of a lazy English sultry summer afternoon or the sponging of blood and grime from the wounded soldiers as they return from the Theatre of war, that was France in 1940.  From the retreat at Dunkirk to the blitz of London and the losses suffered by all, Atonement paints a grim and prophetic picture of a world without order, direction or compassion, where many must suffer for the mistakes of the few. Wright’s cinematic achievement is that wonderfully long tracking shot on the beaches of France as the English forces prepare for an initial retreat, and the wake of devastation left behind, as one of the central characters Robbie turns and survey the catastrophe of confusion and anarchy. A society on the brink of collapse, seemingly without redemption.

Atonement focuses also on conflicting narratives, embellishments and the dangers of an imagination too rampant to remain real, only realised through the loss of innocence and that inexhaustible sense of wasted time. Besides alternative settings of elegance and destruction, are poignant performances by a superb cast that tackle the subject matter with an earnest command of look and suspense. The original score by Dario Marinelli is brilliant and exceptionally evocative, and is in line with similar films about war, love and lost chances in the tradition of The English Patient and The Remains of the Day.

Audiences should watch out for a superb performance by Saoirse Ronan as the precocious and prying Briony Tallis, who sets in motion a series of misguided accusations which can never be rectified. Saoirse Ronan deservedly received an Oscar nomination for her role as the imaginative 13 year old girl, who does not fully grasp the motives or desires of adults, particularly those of her sister Cecilia played by Keira Knightley and Robbie Turner played by James McAvoy.

Ian McEwan’s novel, Atonement is a multi-layed superbly descriptive account of the erosion of social stability in the face of a world inevitably altered by the onset of the most dramatic event in the 20th century…

The novel  is a thought-provoking and intelligent study of English society on the brink of a significant historical turning point, the affects of which still resonate today…

Even if you have seen the film,  the novel is worth reading and then set aside a luxurious afternoon to afford yourself a second viewing of Atonement.  Both endeavors are enriching and speculative, not to mention thought-provoking… After all, how is a person to atone for an accusation that irrevocably changes the course of a families history forever…

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