Posts Tagged ‘Lily Collins’

The Organ Grinder’s Monkey

Mank

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Tom Burke, Ferdinand Kingsley, Arliss Howard, Charles Dance, Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton, Toby Leonard Moore, Monika Gossmann, Joseph Cross

This Film is only available on NETFLIX

The Social Network director David Fincher returnswith the unbelievably brilliant story of the screenwriter Herman Mankiewizc in the 2020 film about 1930’s Hollywood Mank starring Oscar winner Gary Oldman as the erudite, heavy drinking screenwriter who become extraordinarily famous when he won the best original screenplay for the most iconic film ever made, director Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941) inspired by the real life story of American media billionaire William Randolph Hearst and his illicit romance with the gorgeous silent screen film star Marion Davies, 30 years his junior.

Fincher cleverly frames every alternate scene in Mank with the formatting for writing screenplays, however what really dazzles is the superb script written by Fincher’s father Jack Fincher.

What is especially thrilling to watch is Gary Oldman delivering another superb performance as the tortured screenwriter who after breaking his leg in a car accident is confined to a ranch in California to finish the original screenplay for the demanding Orson Welles played by Tom Burke.

Oldman’s performance is a companion piece to his Oscar winning turn as Sir Winston Churchill in 2017’s film Darkest Hour. The frame of his character is the same. Mank has young women assisting him, in this case Rita Alexander played by Lily Collins and Fraulein Frida played by Monika Gossmann. Then there is Herman Mankiewizc’s long suffering wife Sara, wonderfully played by British actress Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game, The Current War).

Amanda Seyfried as silent screen actress Marion Davies

What is so masterful about Mank are the fabulous flashback scenes to Mank’s platonic enchantment with the dazzling silent screen diva Marion Davies, superbly played by Amanda Seyfried, who loves to make an impressionable exit especially out of a studio lot.

In these brilliantly executed scenes, Mank and Marion are seen conversing amidst drinks and cigarettes on Hearst’s massive estate, on his bankrolled film sets and more significantly in the social shadow of William Randolph Hearst’s friendship with studio executive Louis B. Mayer who founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or better known as MGM studios a rival to Paramount.

Hearst is played with a regal elegance by famed British character actor Charles Dance (White Mischief) while Mayer is played with an unrecognisable talent by Arliss Howard. Toby Leonard Moore plays David O. Selnick, the producer of Gone with the Wind.

By far the most extraordinary scene in Mank is the fancy dress dinner party in 1937 whereby Mank, utterly drunk, storms into the lavish setting and proceeds to lambast the most important guests at the table including Hearst, Mayor and Marion Davies.

Hearst after Mank’s tirade coolly escorts the inebriated screenwriter out of his mansion reciting the story about the organ grinder’s monkey, alluding to what Mank really is: a clown in a major larger circus. That circus is and always will be show business.  

Any aspiring filmmaker or film analyst studies Citizen Kane, and Mank is a very specific film, a cineaste’s tribute to the Golden age of Hollywood in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It’s best to research the period between 1934 and 1942 in Hollywood to appreciate Mank’s extraordinary elegance and cleverly crafted story.

Mank is sumptuous, intelligently told and Gary Oldman holds the entire film together in his witty and cantankerous fashion giving Mankiewizc a quality of genius bordering on the tragic.

Mank gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is a film lover’s tribute to cinema, ironically streaming on Netflix and not available in cinemas.

Another Handsome Stranger

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Director: Joe Berlinger

Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, John Malkovich, Angela Sarafyan, Jeffrey Donovan, Haley Joel Osment , Brian Geraghty, Terry Kinney, Kaya Scodelario, Jim Parsons

Based on the memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile stylishly directed by crime documentary film maker Joe Berlinger is a fascinating and deeply disturbing portrait of a devilishly handsome sociopath, the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy superbly played by the gorgeous Zac Efron (The PaperBoy, The Greatest Showman, We are Your Friends) in a determined departure from his comic roles.

Elizabeth Kendall is played by Rules Don’t Apply star Lily Collins who gives a mesmerizing performance as a young girl captivated by Bundy’s killer good looks, his charm and his demonic charisma. Kendall first meets the handsome stranger in a bar in Seattle in 1969 and Berlinger’s film is told from her perspective and rather than focus on the heinous crimes that Bundy committed in several states across America from Utah, Colorado to Florida.

Always maintaining his innocence even when he was arrested for multiple murders in Florida, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile chooses rather to focus on the glamourous media attention that Bundy received both in the Florida courthouse and earlier in Aspen, Colorado where he brazenly escaped from a courthouse in broad daylight in 1977.  

It is really the Florida trial where Bundy even was allowed to defend his own innocence against a unimpressed judge Edward D. Cowart wonderfully played by Oscar nominee John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons) where Berlinger’s film comes into sharp dramatic focus and where Efron excels in some superbly written dialogue between a clearly delusional and narcissistic Bundy and Judge Cowart who is desperately trying to avert the trial from becoming a sensationalist media circus.

As serial killer films go, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is original in the way it handles its subject matter but is no means gripping or scary like Jonathan Demme’s Oscar winning fictional film The Silence of the Lambs which won both Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s Oscars for Best Actor and Actress respectively back in 1992.

What is so disturbing besides Zac Efron’s handsome movie star face masquerading as the real Ted Bundy is the apparent ease with which Bundy eluded law enforcement agents in several states and managed to kill, decapitate and rape over 20 young women in the 1970’s before eventually being caught and sentenced to death. Viewers have to bear in mind this was decades before DNA analysis and pervasive social media.

Nevertheless Zac Efron does give a brilliant performance as Bundy aided by Lily Collins as the denial ridden ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall who once trusted Bundy with her young daughter.

Worth seeing for its originality and audacity, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is helped by a fantastic supporting cast including Jim Parsons, Jeffrey Donovan and Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense).

Read more about the terrible crimes of Ted Bundy –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy

Deconstructing Howard Hughes

Rules Don’t Apply

Director: Warren Beatty

Cast: Lily Collins, Warren Beatty, Alden Ehrenreich, Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, Annette Bening, Haley Bennett, Hart Bochner, Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Taissa Farmiga, Oliver Platt

Legendary actor Warren Beatty returns after an almost fifteen year screen absence with his Hollywood film Rules Don’t Apply as he deftly deconstructs the later years of Howard Hughes in Hollywood in the mid-1960’s.

If Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning film The Aviator about reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes is the starting point then Rules Don’t Apply should be the bookmark on an extraordinary man whose legendary eccentricity almost exceeded his insurmountable wealth.

Unfortunately despite a handsome production design, Rules Don’t Apply should have garnered more critical acclaim than it got. The Warren Beatty film got released in the midst of Hollywood’s diversity debate and then to add to unwarranted attention Beatty and Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway got caught in one of the biggest live Television mix-up’s in Oscar history – the mistaken announcement of Best Picture at the 2017 Oscar Awards when they incorrectly announced that Damien Chazelle’s La La Land had won Best Picture when in fact Barry Jenkins’s film Moonlight walked away with the coveted trophy much to the world’s astonishment.

Personally I loved Rules Don’t Apply and have always been a fan of Warren Beatty’s work from his Robert Altman film McCabe and Mrs Miller opposite Julie Christie to his later work opposite his wife Annette Bening in Bugsy.

What really shines through in Rules Don’t Apply are the outstanding performances of the two young stars Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich who was so brilliant in the Coen brothers skit film Hail, Caesar!

Beatty’s performance as Howard Hughes is superb and he captures the idiosyncratic obsessive compulsive nature of the truly eccentric billionaire who invested his inherited Texan oil drilling wealth in films and aviation, even becoming acquiring a majority share in Trans World Airlines TWA. However, Hughes developed a severely debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) so aptly portrayed by both Beatty in Rules Don’t Apply and by Leonardo diCaprio in The Aviator. Howard Hughes’s OCD  caused his lifestyle to become increasingly erratic and reclusive.

Hughes’s continuous occupation with flying around the world, his bizarre womanizing and his globetrotting adventures are all perfectly captured in Rules Don’t Apply as the film’s action moves from California to Acapulco to Nicaragua and to London then back to Washington D. C.

With his immense wealth, Hughes hired dozens of would be starlets to come to L. A. and be in one of his films, all expenses paid including accommodation at lavish Hollywood Hills homes. Lily Collins plays Marla Mabry a pampered and conservative young girl who comes to Hollywood to be wooed by Hughes and star in one of his pictures. Her natural attraction for her dashing young chauffeur is clearly evident upon their first meeting. Alden Ehrenreich plays Frank Forbes, the young entrepreneurial chauffeur who immediately takes a fancy to the naive star-struck Marla.  Although both of these young people are living in the shadow of an eccentric billionaire who is supporting their stay in Los Angeles.

A bizarre love triangle develops between Marla, Frank and Howard Hughes, the latter being three times the age of the naïve young starlet who is seduced in a bungalow at the Beverley Hills Hilton after imbibing copious amounts of champagne.

Rules Don’t Apply has a fabulous and glamorous old fashioned charm which is conveyed throughout the film ably assisted with smooth direction by Beatty who also casts some veteran supporting actors including Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), Candice Bergen (Gandhi) and an excellent performance by Matthew Broderick (The Producers).

This Hollywood biopic which deconstructs the eccentric Howard Hughes gets a rating of 9 out of 10.

Essentially, Rules Don’t Apply about an extraordinarily bizarre billionaire makes for fascinating viewing. Highly recommended especially if viewers have seen The Aviator.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Hughes

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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