Posts Tagged ‘Kristen Stewart’

2016 Cannes Film Festival

2016 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS

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Winners of the five main prizes at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival were as follows: –

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Palm d’Or:  I, Daniel Blake  directed by Ken Loach

Best Director: shared between :

graduation

Cristian Mungiu for Graduation

and

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Olivier Assayas for Personal Shopper starring Kristen Stewart

the-salesman

Best Actor:  Shahab Hosseini for The Salesman

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Best Actress:  Jaclyn Jose for Ma’ Rosa

Best Screenplay:  Asghar Farhadi for The Salesman

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Queer Palm Award: The Lives of Thérèse directed by Sébastien Lifshitz (documentary)

Love Letter from Rudolf Valentino

Café Society

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Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Corey Stoll, Blake Lively, Ken Stott, Parker Posey, Sheryl Lee, Jeannie Berlin, Stephen Kunken, Sari Lennick, Anna Camp

Opening the Cannes Film Festival in 2016 in typically whimsical fashion, Woody Allen’s Café Society is set between the golden age of Hollywood and the gangster nightclubs of New York.

Auteur director and veteran screenwriter Woody Allen like many of his previous films, decelebritizes his stars and makes Cafe Society a brilliant ensemble piece. At the centre of the witty comedy are two sterling performances by naïve Bronx youngster Bobby wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and seemingly ordinary yet duplicitous Vonnie, played by Twilight star Kristen Stewart.

Vonnie is the secretary to Bobby’s powerful uncle Marty Dorfman, played by Oscar nominee Steve Carell (Foxcatcher). The smooth talking Marty introduces Bobby to the Hollywood inset as he hires his nephew to become general gopher and invites him to sumptuous brunches at his Hollywood Hills mansion. There Bobby meets chic New York couple, Rad and Steve, played by Parker Posey (Grace of Monaco) and Paul Schneider (Water for Elephants).

It’s really Vonnie that Bobby is in love with, but Vonnie is dating a powerful married man and as a surprise for her boyfriend’s birthday she buys him a framed love letter from Rudolf Valentino. That love letter becomes the main visual key for Café Society as soon a love triangle emerges which places Bobby in an awkward familial situation.

Meanwhile, back in New York, audiences catch a glimpse of Bobbie Dorfman’s Jewish family, his dotting mother superbly played by Jeannie Berlin and his father played by British actor Ken Stott. It’s really Bobbie’s gangster brother Ben who has gone into the nightclub business who is the centre of the Bronx world. Ben is superbly played by an unrecognizable Corey Stoll who was so tremendous in the Netflix’s series House of Cards.

Bobby is crushed when Vonnie calls off their impending romance on a Malibu beach and soon returns to the glamourous world of nightlife, helping his nefarious brother Ben at one of his dazzling nightclubs. As the action of Café Society shifts seamlessly from Los Angeles back to New York, audiences know that they are back on familiar Woody Allen territory.

Part of the New York set is the fabulous Veronica Hays who Bobbie dutifully falls in love with, played by the gorgeous Blake Lively, even though he secretly pines for the more illusive Vonnie.

Wonderfully irreverent to anything vaguely serious, Café Society is a gorgeously shot comedy with gorgeous costumes and suitably fabulous production design, pointing to the fact it’s one of Woody Allen’s most expensive films.

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With a witty script and outstanding performances by an ensemble cast especially Eisenberg and Stewart, Café Society is recommended viewing in the vein of similar Allen films like Bullets over Broadway. Allen’s faithful recreation of the Hollywood golden age in Café Society certainly signifies that his European phase is over, which did produce some brilliant social comedies including Matchpoint, Vicky Christina Barcelona and his acclaimed Midnight in Paris.

Café Society is a breezy and funny affair, tinged with delightful moments of guilt mixed with old fashioned nostalgia. A refreshingly stylish visual feast especially in this age of CGI and digitally reliant cinema.

63rd BAFTA Awards

THE  63rd BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 21st February 2010 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

1 SHEET MASTER

Best Film: The Hurt Locker

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker

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Best Actor: Colin Firth – A Single Man

An Education

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan – An Education

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Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

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Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique – Precious

Rising Star Award: Kristen Stewart

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Best British Film: Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker – Mark Boal

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air – Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

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Best Costume Design: The Young Victoria

A_ProphetBest Foreign Language Film: A Prophet directed by Jacques Audiard (France/Italy)

Source: 63rd BAFTA Awards

 

From Nouns to Neurons

Still Alice

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Directors: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish

The hugely talented Julianne Moore (Shortcuts, The Hours, The End of the Affair, Magnolia) excels in this quiet film Still Alice about the devastating effects of early onset Alzheimer’s based upon the novel by Liza Genova.

Having already won a 2015 Golden Globe and Bafta award for her nuanced and crushing performance of Alice Howland, Julianne Moore’s acting talents are definitely confirmed as she takes on the complex role of this Columbia University professor of Linguistics who suddenly has to confront a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s after she forgets her running route around campus and even her lecture notes on phonology in front of her graduate students.

Still Alice sensitively portrays what this disease can do an individual so educated and whose life has been devoted to the study and assimilation of words and language. Alice’s seminal doctoral thesis was entitled from Neurons to Nouns and now this esteemed linguistics professor has to grapple emotional and spiritually with a disease which gradually erodes her much cherished brain power to a point of complete and utter forgetfulness.

Moore’s performance is utterly entrancing as she has to deal with breaking the news to her husband John Howland wonderfully underplayed by Alec Baldwin and her grown up children, the sensible daughter Anna Howland-Jones played by Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush, Straw Dogs), her doctor son Tom played by Hunter Parrish (It’s Complicated) and her wayward and artistic youngest daughter Lydia beautifully played by Kristen Stewart (Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman).

It is really the scenes between Alice and Lydia that are so touching and poignant as Lydia realizes that her mother’s reasoning powers will soon simply disappear through familial Alzheimer’s disease and offers the most support. A devastating loss indeed for an accomplished woman like Alice who is only 50 years old.

Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland ensure that Still Alice remains Julianne Moore’s film and rest of the cast are merely supporting its star as she significantly unravels despite every effort to stop the onset of this cruel disease. In one scene Alice says, “I feel like my brain is falling out”.

Like Canadian director Sarah Polley’s nuanced film Away from Her, featuring a superb performance by Julie Christie, Still Alice features a stunning and intelligently researched portrayal of a highly educated and independent woman who suffers a cruel fate indeed. Julianne Moore is phenomenal in this film and although Still Alice can be watched on the small screen, the film remains a gem of a movie exceptionally well acted by its supporting cast and by its leading star.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Away from Her, Still Alice is a nuanced and touching portrayal of a woman who slowly but surely loses her ability to remember words and pronounce them. Still Alice highlights the importance of memory, images and essential familial support when a patient, whatever their age, gets diagnosed with any form of Alzheimer’s.

 

The Evil Queen Stakes

Snow White and the Huntsman

Vicious Vanity takes no prisoners

Director Rupert Sanders visually stunning Gothic Snow White and the Huntsman channels Gullermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and the hit HBO Feudal Fantasy series Game of Thrones and ain’t no fairytale although all the elements of fantasy are evident from Trolls to Dwarves, to Knights and Fairies. The real winner of Snow White and the Huntsman is the Evil Queen Ravena played beautifully with a seriously unhinged quality by Oscar winner Benoni superstar Charlize Theron, referencing her earlier role in Monster. In Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize steals the show and is the backbone to this dark fantasy epic featuring Kirsten Stewart as the meek and anaemic Snow White and Thor’s hairy and gruff Chris Hemsworth as the sword wielding Huntsman sent to rescue the damsel trapped in the dark forest…

Mirror Mirror

This Queen ain’t no Bad Apple

Where the frivolous and occasionally funny Mirror Mirror spectacularly fails is the casting of goodie-two-shoes actress Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen in director of The Immortals Tarsem Singh’s frothy and glossy retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Mirror Mirror, which as a comedy is fun in parts namely due to the casting of genuine dwarves, along with Nathan Lane and Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins as the sweet and innocent Snow White, but the casting of Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen?Really?

Joan Rivers, Rupaul  or Kim Catrall could do a better job especially in this semi-Bollywood fantasy featuring  the buff Armie Hammer as the hapless but entirely vacant Prince. Wait for the end of Mirror Mirror to see the Dance number and the redeeming aspect is the fabulous costumes at the Queens Ball with Snow White as a Swan…

Unlike Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is pure feudal old world action with a dash of macabre incest, vanity and vicious magic realism. Charlize Theron steals the show as the completely off kilter pyschopathic Evil Queen who bathes in milk and whose gold mirror comes to life. Twilight star Kirsten Stewart only really comes into her role as the grubby Snow White in the second part of the film, but alas there is no chemistry between her and the Huntsman, played with less enthusiasm by Chris Hemsworth who really made an impact with Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.

Mirror Mirror is suitable for pretty little girls and Snow White and the Huntsman is more closer to malignant  witchcraft appealing to a more jaded generation complete with a sinister Evil Queen hell bent in her quest for the heart of a virgin at the expense of the seven dwarfs, the occasional fairy and a hapless Troll. Charlize Theron is just that much more menacing in the evil Queen stakes and film’s final show down is visually stimulating.

 

 

Claiming the Blood of a Virgin

The Twilight Saga

Teenage Love…

As the thunder rolls and the clouds are slate gray on a dark afternoon, I break my silence on the cinematic phenomenon that is the Twilight Saga, based on the teenaged marketed books by Stephanie Meyer. Starting with Twilight in 2009, and now with the release of Breaking Dawn – Part 1, the Twilight movies have made instant stars out of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, helped with a great supporting cast including Peter Facinelli, Dakota Fanning, Kellen Lutz and Michael Sheen, this saga has the world divided. You either a fan or your are not. Twilight is similar to the Star Wars phenomenon and more recently the involved and magical Harry Potter films.

While so far in the series, the first film Twilight directed by Red Riding Hood and Lords of Dogtown visionary Catherine Hardwicke, is in my opinion still the best in the series, capturing the full flush of uncertain flirtatious love between local girl Bella Swan and the mysterious and wealthy Edward Cullen, who also happens to be a friendly and nefarious vampire, whilst New Moon and Eclipse start losing their originality and their cinematic focus. The eternal love affair between Bella and Edward is further complicated by Bella’s attraction to Jacob, the hunky Red Indian Washington state local who also happens to be a werewolf.

Whilst Bella becomes the focus of both Edward and Jacob’s love, their mutual competitive hatred transforms into a fraternal bond to protect Bella in the face of all forms of danger from ancient and vicious vampires to ferocious wolves, while maintaining a fragile truce between the two opposing worlds.

Bella, a human caught in a love triangle between the vampire Edward and the werewolf Jacob, is the basis of all narrative conflicts demonstrating the oldest plot in all fairy tales, an innocent maiden caught between the dashing yet mysterious prince and the ordinary but protective woodsman. Whilst Twilight captured the anguish of the original teenage love crush and subsequent bitter feuds, New Moon and Eclipse expand the worlds of the elegant vampires and tribal werewolves respectively.

Blood Red Sky and the Dawn of Immortality

But Bella is far from innocent! She wants the best of both men, and marries one while gaining protection of the other. Breaking Dawn, Part 1 while drawn out in parts follows the progression from the wedding to the creepy honeymoon in Brazil to moonlit impregnation and subsequent labour of her first child, a union between human and vampire. While Bella’s ordeal is really the shedding of virgin blood as part of the price for being a Vampire’s Bride, the Twilight series, whilst tapping into a wealth of mythology about vampires, first love and folklore is essentially a journey of a young girl from purity and innocence to the losing of her virginity at the cost of forsaking her mortality for the love of not one but two men and her transference from her own community to a world of eternal immortality.

Don’t expect brilliant acting from any of the leads, while Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson go through the motions of a seemingly happy newly married couple, not realizing the horror they in for, which is a watered down version of Rosemary’s Baby, Taylor Lautner’s Jacob seems as confused as ever, whether he wants to run with the wolves or protect the baby in the wood is not clearly portrayed. The Twilight saga is popular for its luminous love story set against some brilliant and spectacular Washington state scenery, and like all saga films, the original film is always the best.

The Twilight saga’s hidden message of no sex before marriage is also entwined along with the pitfalls for indecisive teenage girls who are caught between two vastly different male species, the charming seductive and moody prince or the caring and earthy woodsman, a tale as old as the bride of Dracula itself… a love triangle as treacherous as when time began. Whatever the outcome, the goal for the maiden is to lose one’s virginity and shedding blood and purity whilst dialectically opposing tribal forces clash over the loss of innocence and fight to claim the prize of the vanquished virgin. As for Part two, will there be a happily ever after?

 

 

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