Posts Tagged ‘Nicole Kidman’

The Cunning Art of Thievery

The Goldfinch

Director: John Crowley

Cast: Oakes Fegley, Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson, Willa Fitzgerald, Anuerin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Luke Kleintank, Denis O’Hare

Irish director John Crowley (Brooklyn) brings to cinematic life Donna Tart’s immersive and poignant Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Goldfinch in a sprawling and beautifully acted film version featuring an international cast including Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) as Mrs Barbour, a wealthy Park Avenue woman who graciously takes in the young Theo Decker brilliantly played by Oakes Fegley, after his mother is killed in a terrorist attack at New York’s famous Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Theo having survived a thoroughly traumatic event, is introduced to the extremely wealthy Barbour family who he stays with while he awaits to hear from his wayward con-artist father Larry played by Luke Wilson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Concussion, 3:10 to Yuma). Larry eventually swoops in with his hard as nails girlfriend Xandra expertly played by Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story) to whisk Theo off to the brilliant shiny desert of Nevada away from the old world charm of New York City.

As The Goldfinch expertly weaves multiple story lines into a dazzling picaresque tale, it is more essentially about Theo’s friendship with the mysterious antique dealer Hobie beautifully played by Jeffrey Wright (Skyfall).

The Goldfinch is gorgeously photographed in all its blinding contrasts by Oscar winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner: 2049) who adds lustre to a fascinating tale of a boy who inadvertently steals a priceless Dutch painting by 17th century portrait painter Carel Fabritius a budding young student of Rembrandt.

As the actions flits between, New York, Las Vegas and Amsterdam, The Goldfinch is a gripping, fascinating tale of art theft, addiction and loss as the film examines the effects of parental loss on a young boy. Utterly superb viewing. Audiences should watch out for a rather energetic performance by Dunkirk star Anuerin Barnard as the older version of Ukrainian Gothic friend Boris who plays an integral part in achieving his destiny which is inevitably entwined with a rare painting by an early Dutch master. The older version of Theo Decker is adequately played by rising star Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver, Billionaire Boys Club).

Elegant and absorbing, with stunning performances, The Goldfinch is a sophisticated drama about the conflicts between the old and new world and the shadows that lie in between. Those that have read Donna Tartt’s brilliant novel will appreciate this gorgeous film adaptation.

Highly recommended viewing, The Goldfinch gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10.

American Take on a French Tale

The Upside

Director: Neil Burger

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Kevin Hart, Tate Donovan, Julianna Margulies, Golshifteh Farahani, Aja Naomi King

Limitless director Neil Burger gives an American spin on the remake of the superb 2011 French film The Intouchables starring Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet about a billionaire quadriplegic striking up an unlikely bond and friendship with his down and out carer.

This time the parts are played by Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) and comedic actor Kevin Hart as Dell Scott the paroled carer who gets the unlikely position of becoming a full time male nurse to art collector and writer Philip Lacasse wonderfully played by Cranston in The Upside.

The Upside aims to make audiences feel all warm and fuzzy, about the underlying compassion which should be instinctive in human nature. In this respect, The Upside is a perfectly well-directed American Take on a French Tale.

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) plays the Harvard educated Yvonne who is Lacasse’s personal sectary who is initially aghast at her employer’s decision to hire the rough around the edges Dell Scott who is desperate to earn some cash to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-wife Latrice played by Aja Naomi King.

While The Upside doesn’t quite capture the quirky relationship between Billionaire and poverty stricken carer as it did in the original French film The Intouchables, there are some funny moments particularly played by Kevin Hart who does not usually play serious roles.

The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies (Snakes on a Plane) makes a cinematic appearance as Lily an epistolary flame that Philip has been dutifully corresponding with.

Tate Donovan appears as the snobbish Manhattan neighbour Carter and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani plays the practical physiotherapist Maggie who expertly advises Dell on how to insert a catheter and generally care for the wheelchair bound angst ridden Lacasse.

Cranston holds the film together, acting mostly with his expressive eyes.

Viewers that have not seen the original French film will enjoy this light hearted comedic drama, but those that saw The Intouchables will feel that The Upside doesn’t possess that emotional gravitas which was central to the French version. In any events, The Upside is a light hearted look at the complexity of unique human relationships and will be sure to find a suitable audience.

Recommended viewing, The Upside gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10.

King of the Seven Seas

Aquaman

Director: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Julie Andrews

DC Comics highly anticipated Aquaman floods onto the cinema circuit in all its technicolour luminescent glory. Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa embodies the role of Aquaman with a muscular charm that clothes the gorgeous actor throughout this odyssey from his origins as the son of a lighthouse keeper and the Queen of Atlantis wonderfully played by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman who channels a blonde sea creature glow reminiscent of Daryl Hannah in Splash, to his showdown with evil younger brother King Orm of Atlantis.

Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna

As Aquaman grows up he learns that there is great turmoil below the seas as his wicked younger half-brother King Orm played with a camp villainy by Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Lakeview Terrace, Little Children) is about to wreak havoc on the surface people.  

Patrick Wilson as King Orm

Luckily Aquaman has the fiery red head Mera wonderfully played by Amber Heard to assist him as they embark on an epic oceanic adventure which takes them from Sicily to the depths of the hidden ocean where he must retrieve the Golden Trident so he can rightfully claim his title as King of the Seven Seas.

Fast and Furious director James Wan directs Aquaman with flamboyance and panache clearly making it an exceptionally lavish and startling superhero film aided by stunning visual effects and fabulous costumes by Kym Barrett.

Willem Dafoe as Vulko

Aquaman is equally well cast with an array of established stars including Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Shadow of a Vampire, Platoon, The Florida Project) as Vulko, Aquaman’s mentor as well as Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays the ferocious Manta out to avenge his father’s death against Arthur Curry aka Aquaman.

The onscreen chemistry between Jason Momoa and Amber Heard sizzles especially during the Sicily sequence and Nicole Kidman adds some maternal reasoning as the gorgeous Queen Atlanna who aims to restore peace between her warring sons as their battle for the supremacy to become Master of the Oceans.

DC Comics did everything right with Aquaman and the neon underwater cities add a gorgeous sparkle to the glow of this superhero universe which has seen the likes of Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman appear. Aquaman can rightfully take his place as one of the stronger and coolest members of the Justice League.

Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus

Audiences should be prepared to embark on a cinematic odyssey complete with menacing sea creatures and a ripped and muscled superhero as they watch a story laced with metaphor about rising pollution which is destroying the earth’s oceans.

This is a socially conscious and relevant superhero film with a very likeable star and no doubt there are plans for a sequel to Aquaman as we all want to see more of the tattooed Jason Momoa.

DC’s Coolest Superhero by Far – AQUAMAN

Aquaman gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and audiences should suspend their disbelief as they get dazzled by the city of Atlantis and the hidden treasures of the seven seas.

2017 Cannes Film Festival

2017 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS

Winners of the five main prizes at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival were as follows: –

(No film poster available for The Square)

Palm d’Or:The Square directed by Ruben Ostlund

Best Director:  Sofia CoppolaThe Beguiled starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning

(No film poster available for You Were Never Really Here)

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here

Best Actress:  Diane Kruger –  In the Fade

Best Screenplay:  prize shared between  Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for The Killing of a Sacred Deer

(The Killing of a Sacred Deer stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell)

Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here

(You Were Never Really Here also stars Alessandro Nivola, John Doman and Ekaterina Samsonov)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Cannes_Film_Festival

Finding Ganesh Talai

Lion

Director: Garth Davis

Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar, David Wenham, Priyanka Bose, Abhishek Bharate

If child trafficking or the plight of India’s lost street children is the point of the true life drama Lion, then first time Australian director Garth Davis achieves a momentous and riveting family film made particularly poignant by the breakout performance of the young Saroo, aged five, wonderfully played with a resilience by screen newcomer Sunny Pawar.

Hindi speaking Sunny Pawar portrays the streetwise Saroo, a young Indian boy who after losing his older brother Guddu played by Abhishek Bharate on a train platform in Khandwa, central India mistakenly gets on a decommissioned train heading for Calcultta, some 1600 kilometres away from his family and his beloved mother Kamla played by Priyanka Bose. Surviving on the overcrowded and voluminous streets of Calcutta, Saroo is eventually picked up by child services and placed in a poverty stricken orphanage.

Fortunately, Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple John and Sue Brierley, played by Australian actor David Wenham (300, Public Enemies) and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours). Fast forward roughly twenty years from 1987 to 2008 and the young man Saroo, superbly played by Dev Patel (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who burst onto international screens in the Oscar winning smash hit film Slumdog Millionaire in 2008.

In the second half of the film, set in Tasmania, Australia where the twenty something Saroo Brierley starts questioning his real identity in a move to Melbourne where his passion to find his real mother and siblings is ignited with the help of his American girlfriend Lucy, brilliantly played by Oscar nominee Rooney Mara (Carol, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

With the assistance of Google earth and threw a series of random calculations, Saroo manages to identify the exact train station in India where he first went missing and was fatefully separated from his birth family.

With a measured screenplay by Luke Davies coupled with stirring music by Dustin O’ Holloran and Volker Bertelmann, Lion is sure to pull at any audiences heartstrings, as the film intricately explores the issues of family, adopted or birth, identity and the continued quest to find answers.

What makes Lion so exhilarating is the first half of the film primarily focused on the harrowing experiences of young Saroo expertly acted by Sunny Pawar who takes on each challenge in Calcutta with a tenacity and bravery that a very smart young boy is known for. Lion is assisted by strong supporting roles particularly by the ever versatile Kidman as Sue Brierley whose intense scenes with her adopted son, played by Patel are electrifying.

Lion is a nuanced portrayal of one man’s search for his real identity, an emotional journey emblematic of the many train tracks he inadvertently stumbles on both literally and metaphorically.

Director Davis focuses the emotional crux of Lion on an overwhelming human desire to find meaning in one’s existence and a naturally passionate urge to reconnect with one’s birth family. This is a fascinating and complex film, beautifully shot and exceptionally well-acted by Kidman and Patel adding to its cross cultural appeal which is even more refreshing because it does not have an American context.

Lion is highly recommended viewing, an intelligent exploration of a truly extraordinary real life story spanning decades and two very different countries: India and Australia.

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

 

 

Look Homeward, Angel

Genius

genius

Director: Michael Grandage

Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pierce, Dominic West, Vanessa Kirby

Jude Law reunites with his Cold Mountain co-star Nicole Kidman and shares the screen with Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) in actor turned director Michael Grandage’s handsome literary film, Genius which premiered at the 37th Durban International Film Festival – http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/

Genius is based upon the biography of Max Perkins written by A. Scott Berg and transformed into an enlightening screenplay by John Logan.

Set in New York in the late 1920’s and on the brink of the Great Depression, Colin Firth gives a measured and subtle performance as the literary editor Max Perkins who has to contend with the overzealous and brilliant Carolingian writer Thomas Wolfe wonderfully played by Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley) who has written a masterpiece, Look Homeward, Angel but needs the editing skills of the diligent Max Perkins to edit the text into a readable novel.

Perkins was responsible for editing the literary works of Ernest Hemingway played in this film by Dominic West (Testament of Youth) and F. Scott Fitzgerald post his Parisian phase, played by Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential). Genius is the examination of a male bond and friendship which strikes up between the reserved and slightly conservative Perkins and the wild and exuberant Thomas Wolfe, whose patronage is supported by the jealous and possessive Aline Bernstein superbly played by Nicole Kidman (The Hours).

Genius is about the evolution of a literary text, from creation through editing to publication, and how that process can be fraught with distraction, despair and most importantly passion.

Perkins neglects his long suffering wife Louise played by Oscar nominee Laura Linney (Kinsey, Mr Holmes) and his family of daughters. Perkins unwittingly and perhaps subconsciously finds solace in the male friendship of the erratic and gifted Thomas Wolfe, although their affection for each other borders upon the homo-erotic, which both Aline and Louise can perceive and are certainly threatened by.

Firth wears a hat for the majority of the film and only at the end of Genius after he admits his true feelings for the incorrigible Wolfe, does he take it off. Perkin’s hat serves as a signifier of conformity in the film, despite the raging modernist and Bloomsbury movement which was engulfing Paris and London at the times. New York was still fairly conservative by European standards especially as the full effects of the Great Depression are realized by American society.

Despite an Oscar worthy cast and ambitious literary intentions, Genius is not a superb film in the same vein that The Hours was or Christopher Hampton’s Carrington, yet it is worth watching and would appeal to audiences who possess sophisticated literary tastes.

Nevertheless with polished production values, and brilliant performances by Jude Law and Nicole Kidman, Genius is an informative portrayal of a hugely talented writer Thomas Wolfe who never quite achieved the same international posthumous recognition as F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway.

Genius is recommended viewing and certainly a reason to rediscover the literary works of Wolfe who wrote Look Homeward, Angel  and Of Time and The River.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wolfe

Love is a Tyrant

Queen of the Desert

queen_of_the_desert

Director: Werner Herzog

Cast: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis, Jenny Agutter, David Calder, Jay Abdo, Mark Lewis Jones

German documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog directs Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours, The Paperboy) in a majestic towering role as Gertrude Bell, a fiercely independent British woman who after escaping the stifling confines of a her wealthy family estate in England travels to Arabia at the turn of the 20th century as the ruling Ottoman Empire is on the verge of collapsing.

The Arabian Peninsula especially modern day Syria and Jordan and into Iraq, 100 years ago was on the point of being carved up by the European powers with England eagerly wanting a slice of Arabia especially with their most prominent colony Egypt right next door.

Gertrude Bell, cartographer, explorer, archaeologist and traveller is first stationed in the British Embassy in Tehran, now contemporary Iran, and there she meets her escort and guardian, a junior diplomatic secretary Henry Cardogan rather underplayed by James Franco (Milk, 127 Hours) who soon declares undying love for her. Bell has to seek permission from her father for the marriage to take place and when her father refuses, Henry promptly dies in mysterious circumstances in Persia.

Bell, wonderfully played by Nicole Kidman returns to Arabia and using Amman and Damascus as a base she wilfully decides to travel through the Arabian peninsula and desert, hoping to get a more comprehensive understanding of the nomadic Bedouin tribes and who the rival Sheiks’ are.

The more Bell travels across the desert the more she realizes how complex the local political situation is. With the assistance of the quick witted and slightly effeminate T. E. Lawrence, superbly played by Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis, Maps to the Stars, Twilight), Bell becomes an expert on the Arab people and complexities of dividing up such a huge area, for geo-political purposes.

From an ethnographic point of view, Herzog’s Queen of the Desert is a fascinating film to watch and purely interesting, especially if viewed through the current political turmoil that is sweeping parts of the Middle East, namely Syria and Iraq.

The best scenes in the film are between Kidman as the fiercely brave Bell, a statuesque blond and commanding woman who swept through Arabia unafraid of the local customs or inherent dangers and the cautious British major Charles Doughty-Wylie played by Damian Lewis of Homeland and Wolf Hall TV fame.

Not to be confused with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which was about Drag Queens in the Australian outback, this Queen of the Desert is a captivating and episodic historical tale of one woman’s brave adventures across the entire Arabian peninsula and her subsequent recommendations on the division of the desert into different self-governing states, namely The Kingdom of Jordan and Iraq.

Best scene in the film is the pompous photo opportunity involving Bell and Colonel T. E. Lawrence with Winston Churchill on top of camels outside the great pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Whilst the men in Gertrude’s life fade away during the First World War, it is really Nicole Kidman’s film which makes her performance as Gertrude Bell, Queen of the Desert so admirable. Kidman’s ability to hold her own amidst such dramatic and majestic scenery, the windswept sand dunes of Arabia is reminiscent of Debra Winger’s brilliant performance in Bernardo Bertolucci’s handsome film The Sheltering Sky.

Queen of the Desert is highly recommended viewing, slightly long but nevertheless an astonishing historical portrait of a woman who shaped the future of the Arabian Peninsula.

 

Passion Drives Us

Secret in their Eyes

secret_in_their_eyes_ver5

Director: Billy Ray

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, Alfred Molina, Michael Kelly, Dean Norris, Zoe Graham, Joe Cole

Secret in Their Eyes is an American remake of the 2010 Argentinian film “El secreto de sus ojos” which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

The director of the Spanish language film  Juan José Campanella co-writes the screenplay with Captain Philips writer Billy Ray and this new version teams up the talents of Oscar winners Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and Julia Roberts  (Erin Brockovich, Charlie Wilson’s War) with Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave).

This three handed complex murder mystery is set in Los Angeles and Ejiofor plays a Counter-Terrorism detective Ray Kasten whose allegiance to an unsolved murder case involving his partners daughter Carolyn Cobb, glimpsed in flashbacks and played by Zoe Graham last seen in Boyhood, leads him and ambitious and beautiful district attorney Claire Sloane, played by Kidman to believe that Carolyn Cobb’s killer is still out there since the case was never technically solved.

Julia Roberts plays a washed out and grim-faced detective Jess Cobb, whose only daughter was the victim of a horrific crime. Secret in Their Eyes is a tense psychological thriller with a brilliant twist at the end, although at times the action could have been more captivating.

Considering the acting talents involved, Secret in Their Eyes tends to disappoint at times as the plot, stumbles along stretched between two time periods 2002 and 2014 which makes following the narrative more difficult.

The best scene in the film is when Kidman’s character Claire is questioning the main suspect Marzin played by Joe Cole with a hint of psycho-sexual paranoia thrown in. Audiences should look out for great performances by supporting actors Alfred Molina (Abduction, Prince of Persia) as Martin Morales and Michael Kelly, last seen in Netflix’s House of Cards as Reg Siefert.

One gets the feeling that the original Argentinian film was far more riveting. Secret in Their Eyes is recommended viewing but nothing spectacular and although Roberts, Kidman and Ejiofor are superb, one gets the sense that a better director would have made this English language version more riveting and less contrived. Viewers can judge for themselves.

 

 

 

56th BAFTA Awards

THE  56TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on the 23rd February 2003 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

The pianist

Best Film: The Pianist

Best Director: Roman Polanski – The Pianist

gangs_of_new_york_ver4

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – Gangs of New York

The hours

Best Actress: Nicole Kidman – The Hours

catch_me_if_you_can_ver2

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Walken –Catch Me If You Can

chicago_ver3

Best Supporting Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones – Chicago

warrior

Best British Film: The Warrior directed by Asif Kapadia

talk_to_her

Best Original Screenplay: Talk to Her (Hable con ella) – Pedro Almodóvar

adaptation

Best Adapted Screenplay: Adaptation. – Charlie and Donald Kaufman

lord_of_the_rings_the_two_towers

Best Visual Effects: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Best Foreign Language Film: Talk to Her (Hable con ella) directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain)

56th BAFTA Awards

Outback Vanishing

Strangerland

strangerland_ver2

Director: Kim Farrant

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Maddison Brown, Nicholas Hamilton, Sean Keenan

Spoiler Alert valid until date of Commercial Release

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) gives another provocative performance in her home country of Australia in the sexually charged mystery thriller, Strangerland as she plays Catherine Parker mother of two children, who one night mysteriously vanish into the Outback. Directed by Kim Farrant and co-starring Joseph Fiennes (Hercules, Elizabeth) as her husband, the straight laced, brutal tempered pharmacist Matthew Parker and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix; Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as the small town Detective David Rae who eventually gets to the heart of the mystery.

With beautiful cinematography by P. J. Dillon who captures the isolation and vastness of the Australian outback on the edge of the small town of Nathgari where the Parkers reside. As the days of the Parker’s children’s disappearance increase, town rumours run riot along with all sorts of sexual innuendo involving sexual abuse and psychological meltdown. The children Tommy and the precocious Lily are played by Nicholas Hamilton and Maddison Brown respectively.

Coupled with the blistering heat, the Parkers relationship as husband and wife, each with their own secrets is carefully dissected in a fascinating if at times slightly drawn out character study of the disintegration of a marriage.

Naturally Nicole Kidman is superb as the young and sexually frustrated mother who eventually blames herself for her children’s inexplicable disappearance yet while trying to remain actively involved in the investigation, which includes a vast manhunt in the blistering Australian manhunt.

Joseph Fiennes is equally good as the pent-up husband although he is not given as much scope as his co-star but still makes the most of his role. Fiennes is the younger brother of Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes and although he has not had as a prolific film career as Ralph, it’s wonderful to see Joseph Fiennes take on more gritty film roles after his initial success in Shakespeare in Love.

Although Strangerland could have been edited, it’s still a gripping family drama about parents dealing with loss and a sense of their own failure and is worth watching for lovers of suspense filled Australian drama in a similar vein to the brilliant Animal Kingdom.

After its debut at the Sundance Film Festival Sundance, Strangerland had its South African premiere at the 36th Durban International Film Festival DIFF. This film is another opportunity to see the immensely talented Nicole Kidman continue in her daring streak of taking on more sexually explicit film roles such as those in The Paperboy and Stoker.

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