Posts Tagged ‘Katherine Waterston’

The Ethics of Electricity

The Current War

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Holland, Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen, Damien Molony, John Schwab, Conor MacNeill

Film Rating: 8 out of 10 – Highly Recommended Viewing

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon served as second unit director to Martin Scorsese, Nora Ephron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and follows his second feature film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl with The Current War featuring a host of British and American stars including Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as electricity inventor Thomas Edison opposite Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) as George Westinghouse.

Set in America in the 1880’s and the events leading up to the Chicago World Fair in 1893, Westinghouse develops alternative current electricity while Edison creates direct current electricity. As both Westinghouse and Edison woo the financial support of investment banker J. P. Morgan wonderfully played by Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) they develop electricity and its current at an alarming pace lighting up first the American eastern seaboard and then stretching West to the Mid-West and beyond.

Soon the ethics of producing powerful electric currents are called into question when a New York government official Rudolf Young played by John Schwab is planning the first execution via the electric chair of convicted wife killer William Kemmler played by Irish actor Conor MacNeill.

The conflict within The Current War is between Westinghouse and Edison while the eccentric and penniless immigrant Nikola Tesla wonderfully played by Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite, A Single Man) invents the capacity for electricity to be automated and used in machines. Tesla was also credited with harnessing the power of the Niagara Falls for hydroelectricity which produces limitless amounts of current.

It’s no coincidence that Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla is named after this enigmatic inventor who never received the credit due to him while alive as he got caught between the rivalry of Westinghouse, Edison and the manipulative banker J. P. Morgan who produced the capital to start one of the most famous electricity companies in the world: General Electric.

The Current War is a fast paced story of how 19th century America was electrified by Edison and Westinghouse and the rivalry which consumed them yet changed society forever.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon smartly employs fast paced editing and some stylistic flourishes to keep The Current War engaging, light and historically fascinating. Audiences should look out for Tom Holland (Spiderman, Far from Home, The Lost City of Z) as Edison’s loyal assistant Samuel Insull and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice, Fantastic Beasts) as Marguerite Westinghouse and Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game, Jupiter Ascending) as the long suffering Mary Edison.

For history buffs, catch The Current War which gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is especially relevant today considering that now the human population depend upon electricity.

The French Ministry of Magic

Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Zoe Kravitz, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Kevin Guthrie (Dunkirk), Carmen Ejogo, Callum Turner (Assassin’s Creed, Victor Frankenstein), Alison Sudol, Poppy Corby-Teuch

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows director David Yates who was at the helm of the original stylish Oscar winning Fantastic Beasts film returns to direct the highly anticipated sequel Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald featuring a star studded cast including Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne who reprises his role of the magical creature loving Newt Scamander and Oscar nominee Jude Law as a young and decidedly flamboyant Dumbledore, who makes an audacious cameo.

This time Scamander has to contend with the malignant and mysterious wizard Grindelwald wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Johnny Depp who is determined to upset the delicate balance between the real and magical realms.

Katherine Waterston returns as the elusive Tina Goldstein as does Dan Fogler as Scamander’s faithful American sidekick Jacob Kowalski. Other regulars include Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange and Alison Sodol as Queenie Goldstein along with Ezra Miller as the troubled Credence Barebone who is on a quest to discover his parentage.

Whilst the plot of The Crimes of Grindelwald is as mystifying as Credence’s real identity, Fantastic Beasts 2 is visually impressive particularly in the second half of the film.

Some of the dialogue in the film was stilted, yet Fantastic Beasts like any Franchise film speaks mainly to its fans and those that have religiously followed all the Harry Potter films will be equally satisfied with this exotic sequel set mainly in Paris. The French Ministry of Magic sequence is spectacular and a cinematic highlight.

Whether Fantastic Beasts 2 will garner any attention in the 2019 awards season remains to be seen, although the production design is beautiful, I did find the first half of the film particularly dim or perhaps it was my limited understanding of this convoluted plot which made numerous references to the original Harry Potter films.

If viewers loved Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, then they will certainly cherish this magnificent sequel especially Johnny Depp as the villainous Grindelwald whose numerous crimes include recruiting Credence for more diabolical mischief…

For purely technical reasons, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

It’s a magical and visually dazzling fantasy film hinting at many sequels in the works. Highly recommending viewing for serious J. K. Rowling fans and those that loved the first Fantastic Beasts.

The Hillbilly Heist

Logan Lucky

 

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Sebastian Stan, Katherine Waterson, David Denham

Director Steven Soderbergh has an inventive filmography including Contagion, Side Effects and the Oscar winning films Traffic and Erin Brockovich.

He returns to the big screen with the redneck caper film Logan Lucky starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as unfortunate West Virginia brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan who together with their younger sister Mellie played by Legendary singer Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, Magic Mike) who concoct a plan to steal cash from the Nascar Speedway during a major Racing event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In order to break into the air locked vault of the cash rich Speedway, the Logan brothers enlist the assistance of incarcerated Joe Bang wonderfully played in a stand out (possibly Oscar worthy) performance by James Bond star Daniel Craig who obviously was desperate to breakout of  the 007 image.

Which is what makes Logan Lucky all the more fascinating. Soderbergh’s uncanny ability to assemble a really good cast to tell an extraordinarily clever story almost rival’s that of the cinematic auteur Woody Allen in his comic films like Café Society.

Except that Logan Lucky is a far cry from the glamourous Golden age of Hollywood of Café Society. Logan Lucky is an exceptionally funny film and almost bizarrely told with a deadpan sense of timing that makes the heist which they seemingly pull off even more unbelievable.

In order for Joe Bang to assist the Logan brothers he has to enlist the help of his own two hillbilly brothers Fish and Sam Bang, superbly played by rising stars Jack Quaid (son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) and Brian Gleeson (The Eagle, Snow White and the Huntsman) son of Brendan Gleeson.

The unbelievably stupid Bang brothers unlike the Logan brothers feel that committing a crime would be immoral but when the lure of big cash is promised their assistance is secured unequivocally.

What follows is an ingenuous heist film centred on the Nascar Car Racing Event in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the South, below the Mason-Dixon Line where the Southern drawl is pronounced and patriotism to the American flag is unwavering.

With Soderbergh’s trademark use of cameo appearances of big stars including Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Sebastian Stan and Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby) as FBI Special Agent Sarah Grayson who post-heist desperately tries to catch the culprits only to land up at a West Virginia bar being served by a one armed bartender, Logan Lucky is a character driven film about ordinary citizens wanting to better themselves in a semi-impoverished backwater.

Audiences would have to watch Logan Lucky to enjoy Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and an excellent Daniel Craig in a hillbilly heist comedy about outback losers who plan on getting back at the system which has kept them downtrodden and unemployed. Highly Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed the Ocean’s Eleven Trilogy without the glamour.

Logan Lucky gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is immensely enjoyable.

Magical Manhattan

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Faith Wood-Blagrove, Zoe Kravitz,

J.K. Rowling made an absolute fortune out of the Harry Potter novels and now to capitalize on her continued success she attempts to write the screenplay for a spinoff series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The Legend of Tarzan director David Yates is pulled in to coerce all the elements of an ultimately bland screenplay into a presentable and visually impressive fantasy film.

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Yates who helmed the last three Harry Potter films, does an impressive job with Fantastic Beasts even though Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) maintains a continued perplexed expression on his face throughout this film as he plays the British wizard Newt Scamander who arrives in New York with a suitcase brimming with diabolically strange creatures.

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Redmayne is joined by British actresses Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs, Inherent Vice) as Tina Goldstein and Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (Minority Report, In America) as the cruel Mary Lou along with Colin Farrell as an American wizard Graves who is chief enforcer of Macusa or the Magical Congress of the United States of America.

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Dan Fogler plays the hapless wannabe baker Jacob Kowalski who effectively serves as a sidekick character to the infinitely cooler Newt Scamander.

Whilst Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is visually impressive and for once the filmmakers make effective use of the 3-D format and all the Beasts are both alluring and comical, the film itself suffers from a badly written script and an overdose of visual effects and a lack of critical editing.

Redmayne is far better in brilliant period films like My Week with Marilyn and The Theory of Everything and comes across throughout Fantastic Beasts with the impression of how the hell did I land up in a Harry Potter spin off franchise set in New York?

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Unfortunately the rest of the characters do not get sufficient back story including the talented Samantha Morton’s portrayal of a cruel orphanage mistress Mary Lou who constantly punishes the repressive Credence Barebone played by Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Suicide Squad).

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Colin Farrell (Total Recall, Crazy Heart) is suitably bland as Percival Graves but that is perhaps due to Rowling’s script not giving him much to work with.

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Whilst there is an inherent fan base, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is not as dazzling as one expects although the visual effects are superb. Let’s hope the Fantastic Beasts sequels which Warner Bros intends making employs a better scriptwriter. No offense to Rowling but she does not possess a talent for snappy dialogue. Then again who needs brilliant dialogue when the audience is constantly overwhelmed by magical creatures roaming 1920’s Manhattan?

 

 

 

 

The Golden Fang

Inherent Vice

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Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There will be Blood, The Master, Boogie Nights)

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Eric Roberts, Jena Malone, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benicio del Toro, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Martin Donovan, Maya Rudolph, Serena Scott Thomas

In the spirit of Magnolia and Boogie Nights, director Paul Thomas Anderson assembles an eclectic cast of stars for his cinematic adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice with Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Gladiator) as stoner private detective Larry Doc Sportello who goes on a labyrinthine search for his ex-girlfriend Shasta Hepworth played by Katherine Waterston (Michael Clayton, Taking Woodstock).

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Set in 1971, during the Nixon administration, in California, Inherent Vice is a rambling and extended tour de force of the hippie’s drug culture of Southern California involving kinky and corrupt cops especially Lt Detective Christian “BigFoot” Bjornsen wonderfully played by the orally fixated Josh Brolin, straight laced deputy district attorneyPenny Kimball played by Reese Witherspoon and an elusive government informant Coy Harlingen played by Owen Wilson.

Oscar winner for director Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic Benicio del Toro also makes a brief appearance as Doc’s legal adviser Sauncho Smilax Esq, but this is very much Phoenix’s film and he inhabits every frame with a sort of woozy ease that is at times prolonged and other times fascinating. This is by no means Phoenix’s best performance and does not match his brilliant portrayal of the boozy drifter Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s superb critically acclaimed film The Master.

At a running time of just over two and a half hours, one cannot blame the viewer for getting slightly confused and bored. Inherent Vice has an intricate plot with lots of subtexts, subplots and quirky visual references but only serious fans of Paul Thomas Anderson will appreciate his laboured approach in adapting this contemporary novel to the big screen.

The best scenes are actually between Phoenix and Witherspoon who reunite after the success of the Oscar winning James Mangold film Walk the Line. Several of the other quite bizarre sequences are truly amazing to watch but the entire story could have done with some efficient editing.

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Audiences should also watch out for cameos by Eric Roberts, Martin Donovan and a crazed Martin Short. While the costumes and production design for Inherent Vice is spot on capturing the origins of the drug fueled and nefarious 1970’s, Paul Thomas Anderson film could have used some serious editing as this languid narrative tends to bewilder and obfuscate the viewer, which the point of the story.

Inherent Vice refers to possible drugs being smuggled into America on a mysterious vessel known as The Golden Fang from Indo-China or modern day Vietnam. This film is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Magnolia and Robert Altman’s far superior film Short Cuts. Not sure if Inherent Vice will quite make it to the cult status of The Master.

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