Posts Tagged ‘Paul Anderson’

The Tale of a Thief

Robin Hood

Director: Otto Bathurst

Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Paul Anderson, Tim Minchin, F. Murray Abraham, Scot Greenan

A revisionist retelling of Robin Hood for the Instagram generation gets a thrilling thumbs up.

With the gorgeous Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle) as Robin, Lord of Loxley teaming up with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) as Little John, director Otto Bathurst sets Robin Hood at the time of the crusades when Robin Hood is conscripted to fight in the holy wars in Arabia leaving his young girlfriend Marian behind.

Marian is played with panache and feisty femininity by Irish actress Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies). While Robin is away fighting the crusades Marian meets the equally dashing but politically ambitious Will Scarlet played by Jamie Dornan (The 9th Life of Louis Drax, Fifty Shades of Grey).

Heavily influenced by Little John, Robin of Loxley with assisted training by the hunky Moor is roped into stealing from the rich to give to the poor. In this case the rich are represented by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham played with suitable menace by Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, A Star Wars Story).

The powerful Sheriff answers to an equally corrupt cardinal played with vigour by Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus).

Robin Hood is an ideal escapist action adventure film with some brilliant fight sequences and excellent special effects held together by some incisive editing and a catchy score. Produced by Leonardo di Caprio, this Robin Hood perfectly played by Taron Egerton looks like there could be a franchise in the making.

Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson plays the ruthless sidekick to the Sheriff, Guy of Gisbourne, who feels nothing at executing prisoners of war or burning down the commoner’s dwellings.

Robin Hood is a fun filled action adventure film quite slim on storyline and historical accuracy but definitely catering for the 21st century audience that is not too worried about authenticity as long as there is sufficient action.

Certainly entertaining, Robin Hood gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and scores an extra point for the really cool graphics that appear in the closing credits. Recommended viewing for light holiday fare.

The Wild Ones

The Revenant

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Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Lukas Haas, Paul Anderson

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Revenant means a person who has returned supposedly from the dead.

According Oscar winning Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant has a far deeper mythical connotation. After the success of Birdman, Inarritu follows up that whimsical taste of Broadway with a gruelling historical epic, The Revenant casting two of the best leading actors in contemporary cinema: Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hardy.

The Revenant is a harsh masculine film, set in the American wilderness in 1823, the early years of settler exploration along the Missouri river near the Canadian border. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant takes on a slightly Terence Malick feel in the first hour, but then the audience is thrust into a bitter tale of survival about a group of men who are not only attacked by roaming Pawnee Indians but by the neighbouring French.

DiCaprio plays a bearded and mostly silent yet skillful tracker Hugh Glass in one of his best performances for years. DiCaprio’s role is so grueling and utterly physical that is completely opposite to anything done by the actor before which makes it all the more engrossing to watch. His previous roles in The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street focused on characters that were debauched and surrounded by lavish wealth and power.

In The Revenant, this is DiCaprio laid bare both physically and psychologically as he battles the most hostile terrain in the icy parts of North America. In probably the best scene of the film, Glass is viciously attacked by a grizzly bear and severely injured, the filming of this scene deserves an Oscar in itself. Glass is left for dead by the half-scalped hunter and dangerous John Fitzgerald, in a career best performance by Tom Hardy who manages to permeate all his scenes with the same chilling sense of menace as he did, playing Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and most recently as both the Kray twins in Legend.

The tension between the two men is palpable although Hardy is the one with the most lines, while Di Caprio expresses his pain with his eyes and body, an entirely physical ordeal, a gut-wrenching soul destroying battle for survival. The environment too has own character as these two men not only battle each other but also have to survive in a semi-explored icy landscape, where settlers and native American Indians are bartering and killing each other in a continuous bloodthirsty war over land, occupation and women.

Ethnographically, The Revenant is an important film, a vivid tale about the early American settlers who encounter the other, or the savages as the French call them. A primal battle which Inarritu elevates to myth, beautifully capturing the essence of the unforgiving yet stunning landscape, while emphasizes the terrain’s nefarious creatures and events, from vicious bears to avalanches.

At two and a half hours long The Revenant is not easy viewing and, the viewer does get a sense that the second act drags a little, yet the performances are so captivating and the sound editing so brilliant, that any minor criticisms can be forgiven. Warning: this is not an easy film to watch.

The Revenant is violent, gory and at times just plain cruel, but also sets the standard high for revenge themed adventure tales. Hardy and DiCaprio are both utterly terrific. The Revenant is a highly recommended and critically acclaimed film sure to attract a cult following.

Cinematically, The Revenant is nothing short of a masterpiece.

The Treacherous Twins

Legend

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Director: Brian Helgeland

Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Taron Egerton, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald, Sam Spruell, Christopher Eccleston, Nicholas Farrell, Colin Morgan, Paul Bettany

Tom Hardy delivers a suitably menacing performance playing both the Kray Twins, Ronald and Reggie Kray, the 1960’s gangsters who ruled London nightlife and definitely had links to American organized crime in the violent biopic Legend.

Screenwriter turned director Brian Helgeland (Payback) brings to life the true life account of the Krays based upon the book The Profession of Violence written by John Pearson in Legend and in a stroke of genius has British actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, The Drop, Warrior, Mad Max: Fury Road) play both twins, distinguishable only by Ronnie’s thickset glasses, with an equal amount of menace, mayhem and murder.

Hardy’s performance is captivating especially in his portrayal of Ronald Kray who was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, psychopathic gangster with homosexual proclivities. Ronnie liked to organize orgies at his East End flat involving rent boys and prominent British Lords, which naturally led to several political scandals.

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Reggie, on the other hand, initially appears to be the sensible twin, as he courts and marries an East End girl, Frances Shea, wonderfully played by Emily Browning. Reggie will never abandon Ronnie despite his often despicable and unpredictable behaviour which often exploded into bouts of extreme violence in public places, namely the nightclubs and bars that the twins owned.

As The Krays rise in notoriety becomes more noticeable they move from London’s East End to the casinos and nightclubs of the swankier West End, particularly the glamourous Esmeralda’s Barn in Knightsbridge.

In their attempt to attract credibility within upper class British society, their nightclubs soon had politicians rubbing shoulders with film stars such as Joan Collins along with gangsters.

Underneath the veneer of glamour is a more sinister propensity for unrestrained violence, which director Helgeland captures beautifully in the films best scene when Ronnie and Reggie fight each other like brothers, who are bound by blood and loyalty, without matching temperaments. This particular scene is so captivating specifically because it occurs in front of their gang as well as Reggie’s wife Frances, made even more compelling because it is played by one actor making it Hardy’s undisputed Oscar worthy moment.

At times, Legend appears as a parody of the gangster genre, so effectively done by Scorsese in Goodfellas, but in other ways the film is a peculiar love triangle between Frances Shea and the conflicted Reggie Kray which she has to share with his psychotic twin brother, Ronnie.

Best line in the film is when The Kray twins meet the American mob’s representative Angelo Bruno played by Chazz Palminteri who inquires after Ronnie’s sexual preference and Ronnie casually replies:

“I prefer boys, Italians. Sometimes Greeks. I am not prejudiced.”

Legend is a sleazy version of the rise of gangsters in the swinging sixties, and is more a biopic about the treacherous twins that ruled the London underworld until their power engulfed them in a dazzling yet brutal fall from grace. Audiences should look out for superb cameos by Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs Shea who is completely opposed to her daughter marrying a gangster. She even wears black to the wedding.

Rising star Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) is cast as the gorgeous Mad Teddy Smith who is Ronnie’s casual boyfriend, although the sexuality is hinted at instead of explicitly portrayed. Christopher Eccleston plays the hapless cop Nipper Read who is both obsessed and entranced by the Krays rise to power.

Legend is highly recommended viewing for those that love factual gangster films such as Goodfellas, Bugsy and Public Enemies, yet has a more British scallywag twist assisted by a phenomenal career best performance by Tom Hardy. This is dazzling, daunting cinema at its best.

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