Posts Tagged ‘Katie Holmes’

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.

The Prince of Gotham

Batman Begins

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Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Watanabe, Liam Neeson, Rutger Hauer, Linus Roache

To create a successful trilogy a director has to start with the mythology, the background of a story and the childhood trauma of what moulds a hero. To appreciate the mythology one should always start at the beginning. The Origins of a Superhero.

Having afforded director Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins a second viewing, and being hugely impressed by the two brilliant sequels The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, a retrospective review of the film is in order.

Christian Bale (Empire of the Sun) is superb as Bruce Wayne and in Batman Begins, the origins of the superhero Batman are extensively explored from his falling into a bat cave as a young boy, to his maturity as Billionaire playboy who eventually recaptures his own dynastic inheritance and forges a vigilante alter ego to reclaim the city that he initially abandons.

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Batman Begins reignited the mythology of the League of Shadows, with not one but three villains in the form of Liam Neeson as Decard, Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow and the irrepressibly brilliant Tom Wilkinson as Gotham gangster boss Carmine Falcone.

Nolan’s vision of Gotham is heavily influenced by Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner, even casting Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner in the role of Earle who plans on taking over Wayne Enterprises. What makes Batman Begins so timeless and watchable is the witty repartee between Wayne and his trusted manservant Alfred, wonderfully played by Oscar winner Michael Caine.

The onscreen chemistry between Caine and Bale is the groundwork which makes the two sequels work so wonderfully. The two actors went onto make Nolan’s magical masterpiece The Prestige in 2006 along with Hugh Jackman after the success of Batman Begins.

After all, who is Bruce Wayne, after his parents were brutally murdered?

A Billionaire orphan cared for by his manservant, who transformed into the caped prince of Gotham. A dynamic completely explored in Bruno Heller’s superb TV series Gotham, which evidently was inspired by the Dark Knight Trilogy.

The love interest in Batman Begins is Rachel Dawes played by Katie Holmes although there is no hint of romance more of affection. Holmes holds her own in a male dominated film about the moulding of a superhero. Gay Oldman is reliably good as Detective Gordon, a character also featured in the series Gotham, but it is Liam Neeson who is exceptional as the mysterious Decard who initially encourages the itinerant Bruce Wayne to embrace his fears, little realizing that the instruction comes from his own enemy.

Visually, Batman Begins sets the tone for a gripping and enduring trilogy which only proved more watchable with the release of the stunning Oscar winning sequels. Director Christopher Nolan clearly was the right man for the task of recreating the Gotham mythology judging by the success of this trilogy and also his later films including Inception and Interstellar.

Batman Begins is worth watching again for establishing a mythology and also recreating the origins of a superhero, which although might appear timeless will ultimately be reinvented by DC Comics with the release of the forthcoming Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016.

Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises are indispensable films to own for any cineaste to understand the progression of a blockbuster trilogy and the birth and rebirth of a seemingly immortal superhero. Batman Begins is guaranteed recommended viewing again and again, destined like its superhero to become a cultural classic.

 

 

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.

Utopia Unraveled

The Giver

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Director: Phillip Noyce

Stars: Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan

Australian director Phillip Noyce (Rabbit Proof Fence, Salt) takes on the big screen adaptation of the 1993 Lois Lewry allegorical Sci-Fi novel The Giver.

Shot mostly in Cape Town, with the iconic Greenpoint stadium as its main focal point, The Giver follows a Utopian society on a mesa, a sort of elevated plateau where a seemingly perfect yet ominously drugged society exists. Imagine a society with no colour, no differences, no desires and no envy, a society in which all the deeper human emotions have been eradicated.

Brenton Thwaites last seen in Maleficent, has a more prominent role as Jonas a young man who definitely realizes that this version of Utopia in which he graduates into is not quite as it seems. The Utopian Society is presided over by the Elder, in a strange casting choice for Meryl Streep to appear in a sci-fi thriller. Naturally Streep inhabits the role with just the right amount of malice and omniscience to scare the citizens of this perfect world.

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Upon his graduation, Jonas is assigned to be the receiver of knowledge and must leave his constructed parents played in a deadpan fashion by Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard and visit The Giver, a bearded and wise Jeff Bridges, who transports all of the society’s so called memories, painful and exhilarating to Jonas via human touch.

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The Giver being the keeper of knowledge naturally lives in a library called The Edge, beyond which is Elsewhere. This film is purely allegorical and philosophical and whilst Jonas’s courageous attempt to escape the Utopian society are fraught with potential danger and deception, his rebellion is not based on a motivated counterpoint, nor for that matter is the real reason for creating such a bland uniform society. In essence Jonas is escaping a bizarre pristine gated community.

The Giver could have been a real significant sci-fi thriller yet despite some flamboyant directorial embellishments which include a whole series of memory flashbacks of human emotions, wars and iconic leaders, the film does not live up to its hype as something truly astounding unlike the Tom Cruise sci fi Oblivion. There are no twists or turns, more an allegorical tale about the importance of celebrating difference and appreciating individuality, two aspects which this Utopia suppresses ultimately leading to Jonas’s rebellion.

Despite the casting of Oscar heavy weights Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, The Giver comes off as a mediocre version of The Hunger Games without the intensity or the violence. Thwaites as an actor holds his own as Jonas while the rest of the cast seem to pale literally in comparison except for the baby Gabriel, whom Jonas is desperate to save.

Then again babies don’t need to act, they are spontaneous. Its only constructed organized society which restricts adult individuality and creates a utopian order which given time will always unravel naturally. The Giver is bland viewing shot alternatively in black and white with dashes of colour, a narrative without much cathartic release, leaving lots of implausibility and questions. The film also stars Country Music Singer Taylor Swift as the mysterious Rosemary, Odeya Rush as Jonas’s love interest Fiona and Cameron Monaghan as his dubious friend Asher.

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