Posts Tagged ‘Laura Dern’

73rd BAFTA Awards

THE  73rd BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 2nd February 2020 in London

at the Royal Albert Hall

BAFTA Winners in the Film Category:

Best Film: 1917

Best Director: Sam Mendes

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Best Actress: Renee Zellweger – Judy

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern – Marriage Story

Best British Film: 1917

Best Original Screenplay: Han Jan-Win – Parasite

Best Adapted Screenplay: Taika Waititi – JoJo Rabbit

Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran – Little Women

Best Visual Effects: 1917

Best Foreign Language Film: Parasite directed by Bong Joon-Ho   

Rising Star Award: Michael Ward

Marching Forward

Little Women

Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Louis Garrel, James Norton, Bob Odenkirk

Ladybird director Greta Gerwig skilfully adapts Louisa May Alcott’s bestselling 19th century American novel Little Women for 21st century audiences although her non-linear approach to storytelling could confuse viewers that are not familiar with the original story of the trials and tribulations of the March sisters in Concord, Massachusetts during and after the American Civil War.

Fortunately for Gerwig she manages to assemble an exceptional cast in her gorgeous cinematic remake of Little Women including Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Ladybird) as the headstrong writer Jo, Emma Watson (The Bling Ring) as the more grounded older sister Meg and the dazzling Florence Pugh as the younger sister Amy.

Oscar winner Laura Dern (Marriage Story) plays the four sisters mother Mamie and Bob Odenkirk briefly appears as the girls’ wayward father. Eliza Scanlen plays the youngest sister Beth who is excellent at piano playing.  

What is most impressive about Little Women is the brilliant casting of the male parts in this version, particularly Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation) as Laurie’s grandfather Mr Laurence and French actor Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Saint Laurent) as Jo March’s love interest Professor Friedrich Bhaer.

There is also British actor James Norton who was dazzling as Stephen Ward in the BBC series The Trial of Christine Keeler who is cast as Meg’s love interest John Brooke, a penniless tutor.

Little Women is gorgeously shot and the costumes are beautifully designed by Jacqueline Durran who deservedly won her second Oscar for Costume Design for this film.

Equally invigorating is the absolutely brilliant performances of both Saoirse Ronan as the headstrong writer Jo March and that of Florence Pugh as the gorgeous but spoilt younger sister Amy, who received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Little Women.

Florence Pugh is really a young star to look out for as her performance is formidable especially opposite screen legend and multiple Oscar winner Meryl Streep (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady) as the wealthy and righteous Aunt March as she accompanies the affluent relative to Paris.

Little Women is a gorgeous film, beautifully directed and should be applauded for giving so many young actresses a chance to shine in an exceptionally well-cast and directed film.

Little Women gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing for everyone. A sparkling triumph set in 19th century America where men had every opportunity and women had to fight for everything or marry a rich husband.

92nd Oscar Awards

92nd Academy Awards took place on Sunday 9th February 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Best Picture: Parasite

Best Director: Boon Joon HoParasite

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Best Actress: Renee Zellweger – Judy

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress: Laura DernMarriage Story

Best Original Screenplay: Boon Joon HoParasite

Best Adapted Screenplay: Taika WaititiJojo Rabbit

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins – 1917

Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran – Little Women

Best Make up & Hairstyling: Bombshell

Best Visual Effects: 1917

Best Film Editing: Ford v Ferrari

Best Sound Editing: Ford v Ferrari

Best Sound Mixing: 1917

Best Production Design: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Documentary Feature:  American Factory

Best Documentary Short Subject:Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You are a Girl)

Best Live Action Short Film: The Neighbour’s Window

Best Original Score: Hilda Gudnadotter – Joker

Best Original Song: Elton JohnRocketman

Best Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 4

Best Foreign Language Film: Boon Joon HoParasite

77th Golden Globe Awards

Took Place on Sunday the 5th January 2020 in Los Angeles hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – Here are the 2020 Winners in the Film Categories

Best Film Drama: 1917

Best Film, Musical or Comedy: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Director: Sam Mendes – 1917

Best Actor Drama: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Best Actress Drama: Renee Zellweger – Judy

Best Actor, M/C: Taron Egerton – Rocketman

Best Actress, M/C: Awkwafina – The Farewell

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern – Marriage Story

Best Foreign Language Film: Parasite directed by Boon Joon Ho (South Korea)

Best Original Screenplay – Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Animated Feature: Missing Link

An Interminable Battle

Marriage Story

Director: Noah Baumbach

Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, Julie Hagerty, Lucas Neff, Merritt Wever, Azhy Robertson

Please note Marriage Story is only available on Netflix and did not receive a comprehensive theatrical release.

The Squid and the Whale director Noah Baumbach brings an incisive story of a contemporary marriage disintegrating in his Netflix’s released film Marriage Story starring Oscar nominated actor Adam Driver (BlackKklansman) as Charlie the husband and Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Nicole who make up a trendy young New York couple.

Nicole is an aspiring stage and screen actress who falls in love and marries Charlie an off-Broadway theatre director. The couple have an eight year old son Henry played by Azhy Robertson (Juliet, Naked). Very rapidly and much to Charlie’s shock and surprise, their marriage starts disintegrating when Nicole discovers that her husband had a brief affair with a theatre intern.

Expertly played by Scarlett Johansson, Nicole moves back to Los Angeles where she stays with her mother Sandra played by Julie Hagerty (Flying High). There, she enlists the assistance of a hard as nails California divorce attorney Nora Fanshaw superbly played by Oscar nominee Laura Dern (Rambling Rose, Wild).

When the hard reality of divorcing Charlie comes into focus, Nicole has to grapple with all sorts of issues such as child custody and marital finances especially since Charlie has just received a massive Arts Grant to direct a Broadway production with a group of theatre actors back in New York.

Charlie, featuring an outstanding performance by Adam Driver, is suddenly forced to go to Los Angeles to also enlist a divorce lawyer, a cut-throat shark named Jay Marotta wonderfully played by Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Kill the Messenger).

Writer and director Noah Baumbach incisively dissects the dissolution of a marriage as Charlie and Nicole become embroiled in a bitter divorce battle which is overshadowed by the vicious divorce lawyers as each of their lives becomes an incriminating portrait of how a marriage, a partnership shatters into a million pieces with their son Henry caught in the middle.

In Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach perfectly examines the emotional effects of a divorce on a couple who really haven’t considered all the ramifications of a traumatic separation. Adam Driver expertly portrays the emotional toll a father has as he uproots his career in New York to try and sort out a divorce which is being sued for in a Californian courtroom.

Adam Driver is terrific as Charlie and is really a brilliant actor, whose talent was exceptionally displayed in director Spike Lee’s masterful dissection of race relations in 1970’s Colorado in his Oscar winning film BlackKKlansman.

Set between New York and Los Angeles, Marriage Story is the 21st century version of the Oscar winning 1979 film Kramer vs Kramer and is recommended viewing for those that have the Netflix streaming service. The performances are brilliant.

Marriage Story gets a film rating of 8 out of 10.

Killing Viking

Director: Hans Petter Moland

Cast: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Tom Bateman, Micheal Richardson Michael Eklund, Emmy Rossum, John Doman, Julia Jones, Gus Halper

The originality of Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland’s thriller Cold Pursuit cannot be ignored.

The revenge action film set in Colorado is an American remake of a Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance which artfully combines deadpan humour with witty one liners featuring an array of strange drug dealing gangsters in Denver, Colorado who Nels Coxman systematically takes revenge on after his son is supposedly killed by a heroin overdose.

Coxman is played by action man Liam Neeson who has reignited his career after the success of the Taken franchise and followed with such films as Non-Stop and The Commuter

Nels’s son Kyle is played by Liam Neeson and the late Natasha Richardson’s son Micheal Richardson and his wife Grace is played by Oscar nominee Laura Dern (Rambling Rose) although Dern’s scenes in Cold Pursuit are extremely minimal.

Emmy Rossum (Poseidon, The Day After Tomorrow, The Phantom of the Opera) stars as the down to earth Kehoe cop Kim Dash as she witnesses the turf war heat up between the drug gangs of the local Colorado Red Indians and a ruthless group of Denver based gangsters headed up by the psychotic Viking wonderfully played with just the right amount of nefarious imbalance by British rising star Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express).

As the bodies pile up and the vengeful Coxman slowly starts circling in on the lethal Viking, a final showdown occurs in the ski resort town of Kehoe, Colorado, where nothing really happens except wealthy Americans come and ski and get high. Until now that is.

Cold Pursuit is a deadpan revenge thriller with a Nordic twist, featuring a fascinating supporting cast of thugs and middlemen with names like Speedo, Dante and Limbo including a brief cameo by True Crime: The Menendez Murders star Gus Halper as the sex crazed Bone, who has a penchant for seducing motel maids.

Audiences that enjoyed such dark crime films as Fargo and Things To Do in Denver When You are Dead, will love Cold Pursuit, a snow covered revenge thriller with a body count to rival Taken.

Action fans who love Liam Neeson’s style of cinema, will enjoy Cold Pursuit, which gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Damaging Boundaries

The Tale

Director: Jennifer Fox

Cast: Laura Dern, Ellen Burstyn, Common, Jason Ritter, Elizabeth Debicki, Frances Conroy, Isabelle Nelisse, John Heard

Spoiler Alert Valid until airing on M-Net on Monday 6th August 2018

Please note that this is a Made for TV film and will not be released in commercial cinemas.

Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Fox creates a searing autobiographical film called The Tale which had its South African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival DIFF 2018 https://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/.

The Tale features a superb performance by Emmy and Golden Globe winner Laura Dern (Big Little Lies) who plays a fictionalized version of director Jennifer Fox who has to confront strange and uncomfortable memories of her past as a young girl, when her mother played by Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) discovers a story she wrote when she was thirteen about an illicit affair that she had with a creepy gym coach, 40 year old divorcee Bill played with suitably skin-crawling detail by Jason Ritter.

As the narrative of The Tale unwinds through a series of carefully constructed flashbacks, Jennifer is forced to confront the fact that while she was doing horse riding on a farm in the Carolina’s with the strict Mrs G, crisply played by The Night Manager star Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) she was not only groomed for child abuse but becoming the victim.

The Tale confronts in horrific detail the strange and bizarre almost Lolita like affair that Bill initiates  with the young Jennifer expertly played by Isabelle Nelisse in many scenes that would be deeply disturbing to sensitive viewers.

Released by HBO films, The Tale is a made for Television film. Director Jennifer Fox beautifully reveals to audiences the nature of memory and the action taken by the grown-up Jennifer to confront her abuser. This significant film is a harrowing and brave account of child abuse which is especially pertinent in the era of the #MeToo Campaign.

Anchored by nuanced performances by both Dern who is nominated again at the 2018 Emmy Awards and Ellen Burstyn, The Tale is highly recommended viewing and intelligently explores the elusive nature of forgotten childhood memories which frequently blur the lines of morality and shows that any form of abuse damages boundaries both psychologically and sexually.

The Tale won Best Screenplay at DIFF 2018 and is also nominated for Best Limited Series or TV Movie at the Primetime Emmy Awards which is taking place in September 2018. The Tale will be aired on the South African subscription channel M-Net on Monday 6th August 2018.

The Tale gets a film rating of 8 out of 10.

 

 

 

Strengthening the Universe

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyongo’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Maria Tran

Looper director Rian Johnson draws significant parallels between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back even including such iconic characters as Yoda and featuring a substantial role for Luke Skywalker played again by Mark Hamill.

At two hours and 32 minutes Star Wars: The Last Jedi could have been cut by half an hour. Which is my only criticism. After all The Empire Strikes Back made in 1980 was just over two hours long.

While the second half of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is absolutely thrilling particularly the final battle sequence on a white salted mining planet complete with red earth reminiscent of the battle between the Empire and the rebels on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

The first half drags a little, particularly the Jedi scenes between the reclusive Luke Skywalker and Rey wonderfully played by Daisy Ridley, who is battling to grasp the extent of the force.

John Boyega reprises his role of Finn with the help of a feisty newcomer Rose wonderfully played by Kelly Maria Tran which should appeal  to a diverse audience which is exactly Disney’s cleverest marketing ploy since buying the rights to George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise and effectively reinventing the Galaxy and strengthening this cinematic universe.

Notable cameo’s include a superb performance by Oscar winner Benicio del Toro (Traffic) as DJ who certainly injects some life into the extremely long narrative especially when Finn and Grace meet him when they go in search of the elusive Master code breaker, a briefly glimpsed Justin Theroux, safely ensconced on a decadent casino resort planet, a vibrant episode in the film.

Another notable scene stealer is Oscar nominee Laura Dern (Rambling Rose) as Vice Admiral Holdo who frequently clashes with the bravado of flyboy Rebel poster pilot Poe Dameron wonderfully played again by Oscar Isaac.

The most poignant scenes are played by the late Carrie Fisher reprising her role for the last time as the iconic Princess Leia just wiser and with a more sensible hairstyle, guiding the resistance like a faded debutante. Look out for a nostalgic reunion scene between Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi delivers remarkably on the action front and director Rian Johnson should be particularly commended for also writing the screenplay, no easy feat considering the weight of the franchise and the expectations of the fans.

Yet despite the length, Johnson rises to the challenge and delivers an absorbing sci-fi epic which will satisfy the legions of Star Wars fans globally, judging by the record breaking opening weekend internationally of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is highly recommended viewing best to be experienced in true cinematic splendour with surround sound and some like minded companions. The film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

 

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