Posts Tagged ‘Miles Teller’

The Granite Mountain Hotshots

Only the Brave

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Cast: Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly, Andie MacDowell, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, Jeff Bridges, Ben Hardy, Josh Hopkins

Based on the GQ article No Exit written by Sean Flynn with the assistance of fellow screenwriters Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, Only the Brave is an extraordinary tale of bravery, courage and heroism, illustrating the eternal battle of Man Versus Nature.

Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski using the cinematic motif of a grizzly bear running through the forest engulfed in flames, Only the Brave is a remarkable film held together by solid acting especially by Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (Milk) and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind).

Set in the North American summer of 2013 and focusing on the small town of Prescott, Arizona near Phoenix, Only the Brave follows the story of a group of municipal firefighters that are deployed to help fight runaway forest fires in the canyons and mountainous regions in Arizona.

At times, sublime and dangerous, all the men realize that their jobs are extremely risky fighting unpredictable fires which can engulf entire forests in a matter of minutes depending on the wind speed and air temperature.

Brolin plays Eric Marsh, supervisor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who has to look after a team of 18 men and train them into fighting one of nature’s most unpredictable beasts: wildfires. Marsh takes a chance on Brendan McDonough, a recovering addict superbly played by rising star Miles Teller (War Dogs, Whiplash) while also dealing with his own relationship issues with his headstrong wife Amanda, a standout performance by Jennifer Connelly.

To add gravitas to the cast, Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) plays Marsh’s mentor Duane Steinbrink. James Badge Dale (The Departed, The Walk) plays Marsh’s deputy Jesse Steed while Taylor Kitsch (Savages, Lone Survivor) plays McDonough’s friend and fellow firefighter Christopher MacKenzie.

What is most impressive about Only the Brave is the haunting cinematography by Oscar winning Chilean cinematographer Claudio Miranda who won for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Cinematically this film is excellent from vast aerial shots of the dramatic Arizona topography to the inner anguish of the team’s social dynamics as they navigate their own fears and dreams in light of a grueling occupation which seldom takes survivors when the fires rage out of control.

Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski really does his best work with Only the Brave assembling a muscular cast to tell a robust narrative filled with searing bravado.

Only the Brave gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Lone Survivor, Dunkirk and the 1991 Kurt Russell film Backdraft.

Bullets and Bravado

War Dogs

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Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Pollak, Julian Sergi, Ana de Armas, Shaun Taub, Mehdi Merali, Wallace Langham

The Hangover director Todd Phillips tries to emulate Scorsese or de Palma in his latest film War Dogs about two twenty something misfits David Packouz and Ephraim Diveroli played by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill respectively, who inadvertently become arms dealers for the US. Government in the twilight of the Bush administration’s War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.

Unlike Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street or even Brian de Palma’s Scarface, War Dogs does not pack the same visceral shock value. Punctuated by a set of script markers, War Dogs plunders along with a terrible script and a director who clearly should have stuck to comedy.

As an audience member watching Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in this film, one can be forgiven for feeling slightly embarrassed for them. Both actors have produced better work especially Jonah Hill in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street, while Teller was suitably terrified opposite the superb J.K. Simmons in Damien Chazelle’s Oscar winner Whiplash.

The problem with War Dogs, as the action moves from Miami Beach to Amman to Tirana to Las Vegas and back again, is that the film starts off with so much promise, but then fails to deliver. Unlike the marginally better Andrew Niccol’s film Lord of War, War Dogs does not give up its moral compass or ask the audience to judge but merely shows two ambitious young men desperate to earn a fast million in America’s war-mongering capitalist economy prior to the financial crisis hitting in late 2008.

What War Dogs does provide is a theory that war is never about the human conflict but more about the financial business of providing weapons for soldiers fighting in foreign lands. War is a big business, less so in recent years as it has given way to sinister urban terrorism.

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Packouz and Diveroli appear naïve about the ethical implications of the illegal arms business especially when their dangerous dealings get increasingly complicated as they try to supply the US government with Albanian bullets which are actually Chinese through a shady arms dealer Henry Girard played against type by a barely recognizable Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper, Joy, The Hangover). War Dogs also features Cuban actress Ana de Armas as Packouz’s girlfriend Iz.

Despite Jonah Hill emulating his character in The Wolf of Wall Street, his version of Ephraim Diveroli comes off as a fast talking foul-mouthed con-man with a penchant for screwing his partner and having absolutely no moral fibre.

With bullets and bravado, War Dogs fails to deliver, leaving these talented actors floundering with a bad script and a morally skewed film which could have been so much better, not to mention insightful.

Zero Superheros

Fantastic Four

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Director: Josh Trank

Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson

The reboot of Fantastic Four featuring the extras of House of Cards and the stars of That Awkward Moment could have been so much better. Director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four is stilted, vaguely unimaginative and not even remotely thrilling considering all the acting talent he had at his disposal.

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Miles Teller who was so brilliant in the Oscar winning film Whiplash holds his own as does Kate Mara, but Jamie Bell star of The Eagle and Billy Eliot and last seen in Lars von Triers Nymphomaniac Volume II is lost in this comic book reboot. Frankly Jamie Bell’s unique acting talent is unfortunately wasted.

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Michael B. Jordan as the rebellious Johnny Storm is remarkably better and definitely on the verge of superstardom after his hilarious performance along with Miles Teller and Zac Efron in That Awkward Moment.

Unlike the original more comic Fantastic Four (2005) which clearly did not take itself too seriously, this version is darker more sombre and in parts tries unsuccessfully to emulate Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Dark Knight Rises.

In this version of Fantastic Four, the superheroes and the actors playing them do not take their powers or their characters seriously enough and that is no fault of the talent involved but rather of a tawdry script, bad directing and general narrative arc which suddenly seems to end too quickly, with a finale that appears rushed and clumsy.

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Unlike the phenomenally clever Antman, which taps into a far broader humour and the Avengers universe, The Fantastic Four seems to be lost which is a pity considering the actors involved. Kate Mara was so exceptional in the Netflix series House of Cards but then again she was acting opposite Kevin Spacey.

Even Dr Doom played by Toby Kebbell is not villainous enough and his main motive for sucking the earth into an intergalactic vortex is not sufficiently illustrated beyond pure jealousy for Susan, played by Kate Mara who is infatuated with Reed Richards, the chief scientist, played by Teller, who continuously looks slightly confused in this role.

Fantastic Four is not a brilliant film, and should actually not have been remade as the original colourful films including the sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer was zany and entertaining, everything that this cinematic reincarnation lacks. Not Recommend Viewing despite the initial part of the film showing promise. Unfortunately these superhero’s have zero appeal in a market saturated with reboots and reinventions of comic book films.

 

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