Posts Tagged ‘Mare Winningham’

The Dutchboy Scenario

Geostorm

Director: Dean Devlin

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Amr Waked, Richard Schiff, Mare Winningham

Scottish actor Gerard Butler (300, Olympus has Fallen) does his I will save the world routine in director Dean Devlin’s fantastic disaster epic Geostorm as Jake Lawson alongside Jim Sturgess (21, Cloud Atlas) as his younger conniving brother Max Lawson and the steely secret service agent Sarah Wilson played by Australian actress Abbie Cornish (Bright Star, Limitless, Robocop).

Romanian/ German actress Alexander Maria Lara (Rush) plays the German astronaut Ute Fassbinder while Cuban actor Andy Gracia (The Untouchables, Night Falls on Manhattan) plays the US president Andrew Palma who is trying to prevent earth from being entirely obliterated by a series of freak weather patterns mainly controlled in space by a massive orbital satellite affectionately known as Dutchboy, named after the fabled hero who stopped the Netherlands from imminent flooding.

Think Firestorms in Hong Kong, Tsunami’s in Dubai, Freezing temperatures on the Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro and Lightning strikes at the Democratic Convention in Orlando, Florida. How ironic considering that the Donald Trump led Republican administration recently pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Veteran actor Ed Harris (The Abyss, A Beautiful Mind, Pollock) recently seen in the brilliant HBO series Westworld, a remake based on the iconic 1970’s film, plays Leonard Dekkam.

While Geostorm can be seen as a veiled attempt at illustrating Global warming, it is a reminder that no matter how invincible human beings feel, nature is more powerful. Especially considering the recent geological disasters: Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, the recent devastation in Puerto Rico and the deadly earthquake in Mexico City.

Geostorm is a fun-filled, visually impressive popcorn film with some genuine fraternal conflict between the two brothers Max and Jake, the former being a smooth talking government lobbyist (Jim Sturgess) and the latter a gung-ho action man with anger management issues (Gerard Butler).

Like Moonraker meets Gravity with overtones of An Inconvenient Truth, except Geostorm is no documentary but an epic disaster film neatly packaged for American consumerism.

My only criticism is that in Geostorm, America remains relatively unscathed while Mumbai, India, Hong Kong and Dubai are subjected to severe weather patterns which makes for stunning visuals but questionable cinematic ideology.

Audiences that enjoyed The Day After Tomorrow and Armageddon, will love Geostorm. That being said, it is a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, without seriously contemplating the 21st century phenomenon of climate change coupled with rapidly developing digital technology.

The entertaining Geostorm gets a Film Rating of 7 out of 10. Recommended for audiences that like their global warming glossy and romanticized.

This film was kindly sponsored by Ster Kinekor https://movies.sterkinekor.co.za/browsing/ Musgrave Cinemas, Durban, South Africa.

 

Mother Superior

Philomena

philomena

Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Michelle Fairley, Mare Winningham, Peter Hermann, Sean Mahon

British director Stephen Frears certainly brings out the best in his female leads in his stunning filmography. Who can forget Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons or Angelica Huston in The Grifters? Or more recently Helen Mirren in her Oscar winning performance in The Queen?

The Queen

Frears manages to bring out the subtle naivety and unearthed guilt in Judi Dench’s Oscar nominated brilliant performance in the title role of Philomena a fascinating almost picaresque account of two people Philomena Lee and Martin Sixsmith in their quest to locate Philomena’s long lost son.

Philomena terrorized by Irish nuns and who fell pregnant after a brief encounter with a young man in Limerick back in the 1950’s, unknowingly gives up her young son at a reclusive Irish convent where the nuns reigned supreme, punishing young women who succumbed to the temptations of the flesh, by forcibly removing their unwanted children. This unorthodox form of adoption involved selling the small children to wealthy Americans to financially benefit the local nunnery, a practice which Sixsmith, a former Media Liaison Officer and now freelance journalist discovers to his horror and moral indignation.

Martin Sixsmith, Cambridge educated and living in Knightsbridge, an intellectual snob has to come down a level when he takes on the case of Philomena’s abandoned son who has gone missing fifty years earlier. Sixsmith, superbly played by comic actor Steve Coogan in one of the his best onscreen performances takes the slightly naive and streetwise Philomena on a journey to Washington DC to discover where her son is.

With his persistent investigative journalism skills, Sixsmith at the coaxing of his editor Sally Mitchell played by Games of Thrones actress Michelle Fairley soon realizes that Philomena’s son who would be 50 years old, was a legal advisor to the Republican Party in Washington D.C., but more revealingly was a closeted homosexual living during the era of denialism which blighted the initial impact of the AIDS epidemic in the years of the Reagan and the first Bush administration, namely the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s.

More shockingly, Philomena and Sixsmith return to the convent aptly named the Sisters of the Sacred Heart to discover the awful truth about the fate of her son and the scandalous lengths the Catholic Church went to, to cover up not only his birth and illegal adoption, but those of many other children in the early 1950’s. An unfortunate fate which awaited all unwed Catholic girls in Ireland in that equally repressive era.

With his usual dexterity, Stephen Frears spins out an engrossing narrative around the journey that Philomena and Sixsmith embark on from Ireland to America and back again, puncturing the odyssey with nostalgic home video footage of the life of the lost son.

Dench’s  performance is subtle, gentle yet determined portraying both conviction and blind faith in Catholicism, which ironically deprived her of her only son and used shame and guilt to cover up the transaction. Sixsmith’s character also serves as a substitute son in Philomena emphasized in one hilarious scene in a Washington Hotel room where the only way to gain entry is to state that Philomena is his mother. With masterly performances by Dench and Coogan, Philomena is an acerbic, witty and tragic tale of revelation and forgiveness, expertly directed by Frears with a suitably poignant musical score by Alexandre Desplat. Highly recommended viewing and based upon the real story, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith.

 

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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