Posts Tagged ‘Olivia Wilde’

Arizona under Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine, Abigail Spencer, Wyatt Russell

Originally published in August 2011

It’s like this. It’s always a one horse town, Absolution. If you love Westerns and Aliens films in the tradition of 3:10 to Yuma and all of Sergio Leone’s films like The Good, Bad and the Ugly, you will love Cowboys and Aliens, it’s a cross-genre mix without subtly and it has the star of the James Bond film franchise’s recent acquisition, Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) looking very out of place in a western. He has Harrison Ford (Star Wars) to assist him as the town sheriff. Harrison Ford, ex Solo is there to help against an awfully bizarre alien invasion in Arizona 1873. Together they battle the onslaught of an Alien invasions in outer far west.

There are lots of explosions, gunfights and alien invasions but it’s never without some form of retribution. Cowboys and Aliens is entertaining but hugely commercial film with loads of action sequences and lots of gunfights with hard-arsed cowboys and nefarious aliens that are clearly there to exploit the vulnerability of humans in an attempt  to control the Planet Earth even back in the 19th century in the outback of Arizona of all places.

See Cowboys and Aliens and don’t expect mental stimulation, but loads of popcorn fun. It’s a sleepy hit for the Northern Hemisphere summer season. Cowboys and Aliens also stars Paul Dano (There will be Blood), Sam Rockwell (Moon, Iron Man 2), Keith Carradine (Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle) and Abigail Spencer (Oz, The Great and Powerful).

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This is a cross over Sci Fi Western in the tradition of Yul Brynner’s 1973 film Westworld.

Champions of the World

Rush

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Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, James Norton, Olivia Wilde, Christian McKay, David Calder, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Natalie Dormer, Pierfrancesco Favino

Oscar winning director of A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard tackles the fast and affluent world of Formula One Motor Racing in the new biographical drama Rush centering on the brutal and brash rivalry between reckless English racing driver James Hunt, gorgeously played by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth and cautious Austrian driver Niki Lauder, brilliantly played by the European actor Daniel Bruhl.

Screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen), who first collaborated with Howard on the slick film version Frost /Nixon offers a crisply written script, as the narrative of Rush doesn’t waste time showing the glamorous international and ruthless world of Formula One racing with drivers speeding around the circuits of Monaco, Kyalami, Monza, Valencia and Sao Paolo. Yet despite all the thrill, danger and spectacle, Morgan weaves a brutal and exacting tale of professional rivalry between Lauder and Hunt framed within the media-frenzied competitive jet set world of Formula One, presenting an ego driven portrait of two men at the peak of their careers, just as he did in the exemplary Frost / Nixon.

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The film’s stunning opening scene features Hunt seducing a British nurse played by Natalie Dormer (W.E.) which immediately sets the tone for the 1970’s, a decade known for easy sex, drugs and partying, providing an insight into a carefree decadent era in which the ambitious race car drivers soon graduate to Formula One. Where Lauder is mechanically minded, disciplined and ambitious, James Hunt is reckless, celebrity driven and risk seeking, a driver who is never shy to compete in an ongoing bitter global challenge to become the Number 1 World Championship Racing Car Driver.

Lauder’s wife Marlene is played by Romanian actress Alexandra Maria Lara and the gorgeous Olivia Wilde makes a stunning appearance as beautiful swish model Suzy Miller who soon becomes James Hunt’s wife, despite his reckless lifestyle. From Ibiza to Bologna, from Sao Paulo to Germany, Rush is a superbly orchestrated biopic of the rivalry between these two Champions of the World, and for all those fans of Formula One, this film is not to be missed. Especially look out for the vividly recreated infamous crash sequence that Niki Lauder is involved in as he gets trapped in a fiery Ferrari in the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany in August 1976 along with the riveting final race of the season set on a rain-soaked Japanese track in the shadow of Mount Fiji.

Spanish-German actor Daniel Bruhl best known for Inglourious Basterds is utterly believable as the goal-driven and infamously determined Austrian racing driver Niki Lauder whilst Hemsworth (Snow White and the Huntsman, Thor) proves his worth as a versatile Shakespearean trained actor producing an upper crust English accent. The real star of Rush besides the excellent script and film direction is the unbelievable sound editing, which makes this film all the more worthwhile and gripping in a Digital Cinema. Highly recommended for the glitz bravado, the incredible speed and the blood stained price of success, Rush is a well-crafted film, a winning formula that elegantly delves into a fast paced racing arena really suitable for playboys and daredevils.

Time is of the Essence

The Next Three Days

 

Paul Haggis’s directorial debut The Next Three Days makes for an absorbing thriller about a family torn apart by the conviction and imprisonment of the mother for murdering her boss. Haggis uses his trademark non-linear structure first seen in his Oscar winning film Crash, by setting up a scene of John Brennan played with surprising coolness by Russell Crowe driving through the darkened Pittsburgh streets with a dying man in his backseat.

Elizabeth Banks plays Lara Brennan incarcerated in the County Jail in Pittsburgh without hope of an appeal for her life sentence.

Not having much faith in the Pennsylvania criminal justice system, Brennan plans a daring jailbreak for his wife and an eventual escape of them and their young son from America.

In a brief scene, Liam Neeson makes a cameo guiding Brennan in the time constraints involved in breaking his wife out of a city jail. Pittsburgh is the perfect setting for this thriller with the city’s central business district consisting of a  triangular tract carved by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Pittsburgh ‘s urban county jail where Lara Brennen is situated, makes for a more difficult escape. Neeson sketches out that in 15 minutes the inner city will be cordoned off and in 30 minutes all the major airports, and transport nodes will be shut down as the authorities search for the Brennan’s who become fugitives on the run.

The Next 3 Days is divided up into 3 sections and the pace of the film increases as the daring escape plan unfolds and takes on fruition. Whilst Banks, seen in Zach and Miri Make a Porno is essentially a comic actress does a great turn as a convicted mother, but a more accomplished actress like Naomi Watts or Nicole Kidman would have added more severity to the psychological trauma of a mother, being incarcerated and kept away from her husband and son. Haggis makes John Brennan the pivotal character, a quiet and self-absorbed Literature professor beautifully played by Russell Crowe with the story focusing more on the escape plan, than the lingering question of Lara Brennan’s innocence only to be answered in the final scenes of the film. Haggis deftly opens up a universe of questionable morality and raises the issue of how far a person would go to free their loved one in a justice system which automatically assumes guilt over innocence.

In this morality, The Next Three Days is similar to the 1996 film, Before and After directed by Barbet Shroeder, who followed on from his success of the Oscar winning film Reversal of Fortune, featuring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons.

Claus von Bulow, I presume?

All films deal with families who are torn apart by a mother, son or father who has been accused of murder and the consequent questions of guilt and innocence which naturally surround such crimes. Crime and Punishment remain an enviable topic for any filmmaker especially in the context of the modern nuclear family. Paul Haggis does not leave any loose ends plot wise making his commercial directorial debut a thrill to watch.

A Neon Coated Inception

Tron Legacy is more impressive for its fantastic digital effects and a dazzling homage to the original Tron movie back in 1982 than for any impressive plotline beyond the eternal battle of good versus an evil form of the original 3 dimensional creator.

The effects are better, the look glossier and the action captivating. This version of Tron is a neon-coated Inception without Christopher Nolan’s psychological plot twists, but retaining high production values, stylish sets and director Joseph Kosinski emphasizes the infinity of the Tron digital grid, with all its notorious battlegrounds and ravishing images.

Digital Hero with Charming Dexterity

Garrett Hedlund proves himself as a leading man, the energetic Sam Flynn opposite the versatile Jeff Bridges reprising his role as Sam’s father Kevin Flynn, mysterious founder of Tron video Games, languishing in digital exile and battling an existential identity crisis with his own nemesis. Watch out for a scene-stealing camped up performance by Michael Sheen as Zuse, a sort of Electronic Discotheque owner and dubious double-crosser. Olivia Wilde makes a wonderful appearance as the fearless warrior and digital queen Quorra.

Tron Legacy is really best suited for 3-D and definitely has to be watch in a big screen cinema, with the spectacular effects and brilliant soundtrack by daftpunk. Fans of Science fiction films be sure to watch Tron Legacy more for its dazzling production design and digital effects than any unusual surprises in plot. Tron Legacy pays homage to Star Wars, Blade Runner, Terminator and all the epic science fiction films of the eighties most importantly the original ground-breaking film Tron released in 1982.

Digital Classic for the Computer Generation

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