Posts Tagged ‘Pablo Schreiber’

To the Moon and Back

First Man

Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Ciaran Hinds, Kyle Chandler, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott, Olivia Hamilton, Pablo Schreiber, Shea Whigham, Lukas Haas, Corey Michael Smith

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see director Damien Chazelle’s highly anticipated Neil Armstrong biopic First Man starring an excellent Ryan Gosling and Golden Globe winner Claire Foy as his wife Janet Armstrong.

First Man was based on an intelligently written screenplay by Josh Singer based upon the James R. Hansen book First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong.

In the space race between America and the Soviets in the 1960’s, there was a desperate bid to successfully land a man on the moon, a pledge that iconic President John F. Kennedy made to the American public which in turn put pressure on NASA to not only train astronauts but successfully prepare them physically, psychologically and emotionally for a lunar trip.

What the Oscar winning director of La La Land Damien Chazelle does so beautifully is contrast the massive effort and technical implications of sending men to the moon with a complex family drama about Neil and Janet Armstrong as they desperate recover from the death of their young daughter Karen from a Brain Tumour.

Not only does this tragedy pull on the fabric of their marriage, but its Neil Armstrong’s absolute determination that he is going to be the first man on the moon and be the best astronaut America has ever seen. Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Half Nelson) gives a nuanced performance as Neil Armstrong, a father continually haunted by the death of his young daughter while the moon taunts him every evening, as if to say when are you actually coming to visit me?

Janet Armstrong superbly played by Claire Foy who deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance grows increasingly frantic at the prospect that while she has to be a mother to two young boys, there is a real danger that her husband might not return from a dangerous mission to the moon because of the infinite dangers involved.

In contrast to the familial tension at home, the actual attempts to get to the moon are impressively captured onscreen with mesmerizing sound effects suitably accompanied by an incredible musical score by Oscar winner Justin Hurwitz (La La Land) which truly makes First Man a remarkable and utterly impressionable film – This is truly great cinema held together by cerebral images and perfect on point portrayals of Neil and Janet Armstrong by  Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, who both brilliantly hold the film together emotionally and psychologically.

Audiences should watch out for a superb cameo by Corey Stoll as the outspoken Buzz Aldrin who feels nothing about remarking about an astronaut’s failure at his own funeral or how he was not a good pilot.

First Man is a complex, intelligently directed portrayals of one of the defining moments of the 20th century – Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the Moon and the build up which preceded this significant event.

Highly recommended viewing, First Man receives a film rating of 9.5 out of 10 and is truly a cinematic achievement that will take audiences literally to the moon and back. Utterly superb.

 

 

Pearl of Destruction

Skyscraper

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, Roland Moller, Tzi Ma, Byron Mann

How do you make an American action star appeal to an Asian market? Cast Dwayne Johnson in an action thriller entitled Skyscraper set in Hong Kong.

Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer an American security expert who is hired by a Hong Kong Tech billionaire to assess the security of his latest project – a 220 story skyscraper named the Pearl built in Kowloon, Hong Kong, a sophisticated high rise which dwarfs other structures of its size like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Empire State Building in New York.

Before the upper levels of the lavish Pearl can be occupied, extortionist terrorists led by Kores Botha played by Roland Moller set fire to the 96th floor. Sawyer’s wife Sarah played by Neve Campbell (The Company, Scream, 54) and young children are trapped in the upper floors.

Despite having a prosthetic leg and not completely physically able, Sawyer manages to hijack a crane and enter the skyscraper to find out exactly what plot is afoot.

If this plot sounds far-fetched it probably is, but director of Easy A and We’re the Millers Rawson Marshall Thurber does not give the audience time to contemplate the technicalities as he gleefully recreates a fusion of Die Hard and The Towering Inferno in the action packed and sure to thrill, Skyscraper aided by exquisite cinematography by Oscar winner Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood).

Den of Thieves star Pablo Schreiber has a brief appearance as Sawyer’s friend Ben, but the main hero besides Dwayne Johnson in this film, is the actual skyscraper itself an elegantly designed super structure with a pearl at the top which miraculously turns into a visual hall of mirrors surely inspired by the opening sequence from the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

Audiences should leave their self-doubt at the door and go and watch the action packed Skyscraper which effectively makes use of the 3D viewing to give cinema goers a justified sense of vertigo.

Skyscraper is packed with brilliant sequences that are sure to leave audiences gasping, neatly wrapped up in under two hours and perfectly set in an exotic location like Hong Kong. Cleverly plotted, well-filmed and superbly marketed Skyscraper is another reason why Dwayne Johnson has become one of the 21st century’s leading action stars.

Skyscaper gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and will definitely be a hit with action fans that love a certifiable thrill ride.

Californian Honour

Den of Thieves

Director: Christian Gudegast

Cast: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, Curtis Jackson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Brian van Holt, Evan Jones, Kaiwi Lyman, Dawn Olivieri

First time director Christian Gudegast who was one of the screenwriters on another Gerard Butler film London has Fallen recasts Butler as the tough talking LA cop in the Californian crime drama Den of Thieves which is heavily influenced by the far superior Michael Mann directed thriller Heat.

Gerard Butler plays Big Nick O’Brien who heads up an elite team of L. A. detectives who are hell bent on busting a sophisticated crime ring which robs banks headed up by Merriman wonderfully played by Orange is The New Black’s Pablo Shreiber (13 Hours, The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi).

Merriman along with his second in command Enson Levoux played by Curtis 50 cent Jackson (Get Rich or Die Trying) put in place an elaborate plan to rob the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve Bank where they not only print new dollar bills, but also destroy old money, hoping to steal $30 million dollars before it gets incinerated.

What follows is a fascinating cat and mouse game between Merriman and O’Brien, which director Gudegast teases out the plot for maximum tension to create a gritty crime film that stretches from the seedier sides of L. A. to Long Beach, where there is no honour among thieves.

All the while, there comes between the two main protagonists, a nonchalant middleman and occasional barman Donnie Wilson wonderfully played by O’Shea Jackson Jr, (son of rapper Ice Cube), clearly taking inspiration from Kevin Spacey’s Oscar winning turn in Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects.

If audiences are looking for a macho action film, then go and see Den of Thieves.

There is a sufficient amount of action, plot twists and bromance to keep the action going, particularly the malevolent rivalry between O’Brien and Merriman which propels the crime caper to a tantalizing and violent climax shot in a Los Angeles traffic jam on a sun-drenched Californian underpass.

Den of Thieves gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is worth seeing particularly aimed at male viewers.

 

Benghazi Backlash

13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

thirteen_hours_the_secret_soldiers_of_benghazi

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale, Toby Stephens, David Denham, David Costabile, Matt Letscher, Alexia Barlier, Max Martini, Dominic Fumusa, Pablo Schreiber

Bad Boys and Transformers director Michael Bay turns to more recent geopolitical turmoil in the excellent and absorbing film 13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi about the deadly attack on an American temporary diplomatic post in Benghazi in Libya on the night of 11th September 2012. This attack had such devastating consequences both diplomatically and politically that the Americans were forced to re-evaluate the postings of their diplomats abroad.

thirteen_hours_the_secret_soldiers_of_benghazi_ver4

Comic actor John Krasinski beefs up in his first action role as Jack Silva a married man who does one last security mission abroad for a contract security company in Benghazi only to survive a horrendous night in which the worst possible attack occurred.

Other security personnel in 13 Hours include James Badge Dale as Tyrone Woods, Pablo Schreiber from Orange is the New Black as Kris Paronto along with David Denham as Dave Benton and David Costabile last seen in Showtime’s Billions as the commander of the security forces, Bob. Audiences should also look out for Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) as a Global Response Staff officer Glen Doherty.

What becomes apparent in 13 Hours, is that the Americans grossly underestimated the security situation in Libya post the fall of Gaddafi, who was toppled in a civil war in October 2011, the result of which was a sweeping tide of change across North Africa and the Middle East, now referred to as the Arab Spring. The American ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, played by Matt Letscher in the film, was actually killed in the attack on the Benghazi compound by a group of heavily armed extremists.

Director Michael Bay sets the scene in Libya post Gaddafi as a powder keg, a dangerous power vacuum which occurred following the Libyan dictator’s death resulting in a stock pile of weapons being seized by warring militia groups who constantly battled each other on the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is based upon the book 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff and is a riveting and controversial account of what actually took place in the chaotic events which lead to the vicious attack on the American Compound and the adjoining annex by a group of Islamic militants.

As a visual documentary of recent history, 13 Hours naturally comes off as an American tale of bravado and patriotism against a foreign enemy which is far more complex, lethal and indistinguishable. What the film does point to especially concerning the current conflict in Syria and the collapse of an ordered government in Libya is the cause of the dramatic influx of migrants to Western Europe from war-torn countries in North Africa and the Middle East mainly due to their geographic proximity.

In the tradition of the excellent Lone Survivor, 13 Hours is a riveting action film retelling a very recent historical event whose geo-political ramifications go far beyond the borders of Libya.

As 13 Hours points out, the Benghazi attack was a tragic American diplomatic event questioning who was really responsible for the security of American citizens in such a dangerous city when the threat matrix had been severely under estimated. Recommended viewing and sure to provoke ample discussion.

Source: Libya

 

 

 

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