Posts Tagged ‘Rebecca Ferguson’

Of Your Best Intentions

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Sean Harris, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Wes Bentley, Michelle Monaghan, Angela Bassett, Frederick Schmidt

If the formula works, stick to it. Better yet, embellish on it and make it superb. If this is the maxim that brought superstar Tom Cruise to work again with writer director of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, then it proves that it works in the highly thrilling adrenaline fuelled sequel Mission Impossible: Fallout set mainly in London and Paris.

Cleverly bringing elements of the original 1996 Mission Impossible, the tightly controlled script adds some new characters in the form of the gorgeous blond femme fatale White Widow wonderfully played with suitable panache by The Crown star Vanessa Kirby who plays the daughter of the elusive espionage facilitator Max, played by Vanessa Redgrave in the original Mission Impossible.

Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Michelle Monaghan reunite with Tom Cruise once again reprising his role as the IMF agent Ethan Hunt in a convoluted double crossing narrative in which arch enemy Solomon Lane played by Sean Harris is extracted in a daring sequence on the Parisian streets.

Newcomer to the franchise is Henry Cavill (The Man from U.N.C.L.E) as CIA assassin August Walker who brings a whole new level of male rivalry in the testosterone fueled action sequences containing Walker and Hunt.

Rebecca Ferguson returns as the lethal Ilsa Faust who is moonlighting as a Mi6 agent but secretly helping Ethan Hunt and his team.

From a spectacular rave sequence in Paris to the exteriors of The Tate Modern in London, Mission Impossible Fallout is a brilliant, gritty action film which proves that the combination of McQuarrie as writer and director and Tom Cruise as star is a winning formula.

Unbelievable helicopter stunts over Kashmir and a chase sequence in Paris, makes Mission Impossible: Fallout a must see action films especially recommended for fans of Rogue Nation and Ghost Protocol.

Ethan Hunt’s best intentions fallout as everything goes south literally in this superb sixth installment of the hugely successfully spy series.

Highly recommended viewing and possibly one of the best so far, Mission Impossible Fallout gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

 

 

Celebration of Humanity

The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Paul Sparks, Sam Humphrey

Set in the Victorian age, director Michael Gracey’s exuberant and brilliant film, The Greatest Showman is an outstanding musical inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.

Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) gives an inspiring performance as circus founder P.T. Barnum whose poverty stricken childhood stoked his ambitions to make something of his life. Barnum meets the wealthy Charity wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn, Manchester by the Sea).

Audiences should go into The Greatest Showman expecting superb musical numbers similar to Damien Chazelle’s La La Land without the contemporary Hollywood twist.

Barnum soon collects a host of freaks and outcasts to star in the Greatest show ranging from the Bearded Lady wonderfully played by Keala Settle to a Napoleonic dwarf played by Sam Humphrey, all the time justifying his curious show to outspoken critic James Bennett played by Paul Sparks from the Netflix series House of Cards.

To add credibility to the motley crew of performers, Barnum persuades the aristocratic and dashing Philip Carlyle wonderfully played against type by the blue eyed Zac Efron (The Paperboy) to join him as a junior partner in the entertainment business relinquishing Carlyle’s chance of a massive inheritance.

Soon the Barnum entourage are invited to visit Queen Victoria where Barnum meets the dazzling Swedish Opera singer Jenny Lind superbly played by Rebecca Ferguson, who I am glad to see is displaying her electrifying singing talents in The Greatest Showman and certainly makes an eye catching onscreen debut in the opening number in the New York performance scene.

The Greatest Showman is a wonderful musical featuring crisp cinematography by Oscar nominated cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, Anna Karenina).

When the narrative needs some dazzling pace, the characters break out into song and audiences that enjoyed some of the best onscreen musicals including Rob Marshall’s Chicago and Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, will love The Greatest Showman.

The Greatest Showman gets a film rating of 9 out 10 and is highly recommended viewing. Let’s see how this musical fares at the upcoming 2018 Awards Season.

Notorious Norway

The Snowman

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chloe Sevigny, Val Kilmer, J. K. Simmons, James D’Arcy, Toby Jones, Jonas Karlsson, Jakob Oftebro, David Dencik

Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo’s thriller The Snowman is brought to cinematic life by Iranian screenwriter Hossein Amini and co-written by Peter Staughan. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy director Tomas Alfredson brings this bleak Norwegian thriller to the big screen with a constantly icy landscape concerning a ruthless and psychopathic serial killer who kills his victims every time the snow begins falling, which in a Scandinavian winter, would be consistently often.

Assembling an international cast including Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave, Steve Jobs) as hard-drinking detective Harry Hole opposite art house actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, the muse of Danish auteur Lars von Trier who starred in such films as Anti-Christ and Nymphomaniac as his ex-girlfriend Rakel, personally I had high hopes for this thriller being a captivating cinematic experience. My criticism is that in The Snowman, the character relationships were not clearly defined, which made navigating this thriller virtually impossible.

Having not read the Jo Nesbo novel, I found this film version slightly lacklustre especially in the slow moving first half. Despite a refreshing change of watching an entire film shot in Norway, The Snowman didn’t quite pack the same verve as David Fincher’s utterly compelling film version of Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Rebecca Ferguson who appeared in Life and Florence Foster Jenkins also stars as co-detective Kathrine Bratt who is harbouring secrets of her own especially as she tries to entice Norwegian businessman Arve Stop played by Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) into a honey trap, since he has a peculiar penchant for photographing beautiful girls. Rarely seen actor Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Heat and Pollock) makes a welcome comeback as Gert Rafto a Bergen based detective following a similar murder case years earlier.

While The Snowman’s narrative visibility is as convoluted as the blurry icy landscape of Oslo and Bergen, the acting comes off as flat and uninspired. Which is a great pity considering the film’s acting talent.

Fassbender does a reasonably good job of bringing some dimension to Harry Hole, the lonely but observant detective, however one gets the sense that he fully was committed to the role as he was in director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth.

Perhaps the reason for my lukewarm response to this supposedly icy thriller was that I had a nightmarish cinematic experience coupled with expectations that director Tomas Alfredson would make an equally impressive film as his gripping adaptation of John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

The Snowman for all its gripping plot-twists, peppered with gruesome murders, gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10.

 

Goodbye Moon, Goodbye Stars

Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare

What made director Ridley Scott’s The Martian such an enjoyable film was the emotional tension between Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney stuck on Mars and the ground crew desperately trying to return him safely back to earth. This emotional tension is lacking in Safe House director Daniel Espinosa’s sci-fi thriller Life, which has an unimaginative title.

This sci fi thriller Life should not be confused with the 2015 Anton Corijn film Life about James Dean or the earlier film 1999 Eddie Murphy film also called Life. Seriously, couldn’t the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick think up a more imaginative title?

Except for the onscreen chemistry between Rebecca Ferguson (Florence Foster Jenkins) as Dr Miranda North and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) playing Dr David Jordan on board the doomed International Space Station circling above Earth, Life relies too heavily on the storyline of Ridley Scott’s Alien film franchise without delivering any of the inherent shock value.

Life centres on a multinational group of astronauts who inexplicably bring back a living organism from Mars which is initially carefully nurtured by Hugh Derry played by Ariyon Bakare. The organism is affectionately nicknamed Calvin and only through a brief sequence shot in Time Square in New York featuring children looking forward to humanity’s future with this alien life form still supposedly being cultivated safely on the space station above our planet.

Soon things go horribly wrong as Calvin turns into a malevolent starfish which transforms into a bloodsucking slimy creature intent on destroying all humans on board the spaceship. As each of the crew members starts dying off, Life tries to keep the visual intensity going with some superb camera work yet fails to deliver an original storyline.

Set almost entirely on board the spaceship, Life is as bland as the visually impressive Morten Tyldum film Passengers. Both films just fail to engage although at least with Passengers the sexy chemistry between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence was far more palpable.

Daniel Espinosa’s Life is watchable viewing held together by a brilliant twist at the end but unfortunately the story line is nothing original even lacking in orchestrated suspense. Ultimately, Life suffers from falling under the shadow of a far more superior horror film, Ridley Scott’s 1979 smash hit Alien featuring a breath taking performance by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.

A watchable but not brilliant film, Life unfortunately succumbs to an overpopulated film genre which has been outstripped by the Alien franchise and more recently Alphonso Cuaron’s Oscar winning Gravity.

Despite the inventive camera work, Espinosa’s Life gets a rating of 6.5 out of 10.

 

 

Off the Rails

The Girl on the Train

girl_on_the_train_ver2

Director: Tate Taylor

Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Pepron, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow

The Help director Tate Taylor tackles the cinematic adaptation of Paula Hawkins shocking suburban thriller The Girl on the Train which had book clubs the world over guessing what really occurred.

Golden Globe nominee Emily Blunt plays the prying and lonely Rachel, a boozing thirtysomething woman who is recovering from her failed marriage to the malevolent Tom, played by the rakish Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive).

As Rachel travels the trains between suburban New York and the city, she watches Megan Hipwell, wonderfully played by the gorgeous rising star Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven, The Equalizer) as she pouts from her sumptuous home while playing coy with her hunky husband, Scott played by Luke Evans.

The action of the novel takes place in suburban Oxford which is Americanized to suburban upstate New York in the film. Soon the plot begins to unravel as Megan through a series of flashbacks is portrayed as a mixed up bored housewife who appears to be having an affair with her dashing psycho therapist, played by Edgar Ramirez (Point Break, Zero Dark Thirty).

The manipulative Tom has moved on from the sad and pesky Rachel and is now living with the doll-faced Anna, played with an uncharacteristic blandness by Swedish star Rebecca Ferguson who was so brilliant in Florence Foster Jenkins and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Then the unthinkable happens in a seemingly ordinary suburb: the beautiful Megan goes missing and Rachel for her desire to get involved in a mystery besides the real reason she is sipping martinis all day, is soon embroiled in a dangerous murder where she can’t quite remember what really happened on that fateful night when Megan Hipwell disappeared.

girl_on_the_train_ver4

The Girl on The Train is a book club novel made into a Book club film, with a brilliant performance by Emily Blunt and suitably adequate performances by all three of the hunky male co-stars. However the best performance is certainly by Haley Bennett as the doomed but utterly sultry Megan Hipwell, who is the victim of a terrible crime.

Audiences should watch out for great supporting roles by Allison Janney as a tough cop and Lisa Kudrow as the woman who unlocks the real reason why Rachel and Tom’s marriage went off the rails.

The Girl on the Train is recommended viewing but audiences should be warned this film is not as gripping as the brilliant David Fincher suburban thriller Gone Girl, which featured an Oscar nominated performance by Rosamund Pike. Nevertheless this is an entertaining and watchable thriller saved by excellent performances by Emily Blunt and Haley Bennett.

 

 

Heroic Heiress

Florence Foster Jenkins

florence_foster_jenkins

Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Christian McKay, John Sessions

No actress plays a diva quite like Oscar winner Meryl Streep. First it was her brilliant portrayal of the Fashion Editor Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada. Now in the capable hands of The Queen director Stephen Frears, Streep plays the delusional American heiress Florence Foster Jenkins opposite British star Hugh Grant.

For once Grant holds his own opposite Streep and as a rather stylish couple in Florence Foster Jenkins set in lavish New York musical circles in 1944 as the Second World War is drawing to a close.

Jenkins who unfortunately had an awful singing voice but believed that she could sing beautifully, enlists the help of accompanying pianist Cosme McMoon wonderfully played by Simon Helberg from the hit TV series The Big Bang Theory. Helberg acts with his eyes and his expressive disapproval of Jenkin’s awful voice is soon transformed into a fondness for the eccentric heiress who genuinely thinks her voice is superb.

florence_foster_jenkins_ver2

Naturally her singing ambition is encouraged by her husband St Clair Bayfield fabulously played by Hugh Grant (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sense and Sensibility). In a complicated arrangement Bayfield enjoys his conjugal activities with the gorgeous Kathleen, played by Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) who isn’t impressed with Jenkins rise in popularity.

florence_foster_jenkins_ver3

Three time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady) nails her interpretation of Florence Foster Jenkins as a lonely American heiress who due to an unfortunate illness, namely syphilis, is never able to have children so she sets her sights on conquering the fickle and snobbish world of classical music and in turn believes she has the makings of a star.

Her crowning achievement came during the infamous concert at Carnegie Hall where to bolster audience numbers she gave free tickets to inebriated American soldiers about to embark on a foreign war. Remember this is the golden age of radio and Jenkins exploited this medium to its fullest, soon becoming a favourite for her willpower rather than any inherent lyrical traits.

Assisted with a witty script by Nicholas Martin, Frears approaches the tale of Florence Foster Jenkins in a high camp fashion, making the film a poignant and hilarious tale of the diva whose fabulous costumes and awful singing made her the heroic heiress of New York.

Florence Foster Jenkins is a delightful film and will sure to garner some recognition for the sumptuous production design and brilliant costumes in the approaching awards seasons.

florence_foster_jenkins_ver4

Simon Helberg is particularly superb as McMoon who is mesmerized and scandalized by the life force that was the flamboyant Florence Foster Jenkins https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Foster_Jenkins.

This film is highly recommended viewing, a wonderfully acted tale of an heiress who certainly made the most of her fifteen minutes of fame despite popular opinion.

Manifestation of Destiny

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

mission_impossible__rogue_nation_ver9

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Sean Harris, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hollander, Ving Rhames, Simon McBurney

Tom Cruise reunites with Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie in the fifth instalment of the hugely successful Mission Impossible franchise with the latest film, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Unlike the Brad Bird directed Ghost Protocol, which was lavish and outlandish, Rogue Nation is a more grittier and muscular spy thriller, both written and directed by McQuarrie, with pristine cinematography by Robert Elswit and returns to a more European feel which the original Mission Impossible film had back in 1996 classically directed by Brian de Palma.

mission_impossible__rogue_nation_ver4

Cruise is joined again by Jeremy Renner (Ghost Protocol, The Avengers), Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible 1,2 and 3) and Simon Pegg (Ghost Protocol, Star Trek Into Darkness).

mission_impossible__rogue_nation_ver5

The female role is brilliantly taken up by the blue-eyed Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) as the femme fatale British agent Ilsa Faust who gives her male counterparts a run for their money.

mission_impossible__rogue_nation_ver6

Sean Harris (Prometheus) plays the sinister silver-haired villain Soloman Lane with a steely reserve and a distinctly British coldness, who is the mastermind behind the syndicate controlling several rogue agents hence the term rogue nation.

mission_impossible__rogue_nation_ver3

Alec Baldwin (The Cooler, Still Alice) plays the exasperated IMF chief who has to answer to the bigwigs at Langley, Virginia and orders Brandt played by Renner to find the elusive Ethan Hunt, still expertly played by Cruise who is on a covert mission in Vienna, Austria to uncover the sinister syndicate, a supposed spook organization made up of international ex-spies which are responsible for all sorts of nefarious worldwide events from plane crashes to assassinations. The Vienna sequence during a performance of Turandot at the Opera House is clearly inspired by The Quantum of Solace, and earlier Bond films and is superbly choreographed.

The action moves swiftly to the exotic location of Casablanca, Morocco to what must be one of the best sequences in the film, the breaking in at a desalination plant on the outskirts of the city, which naturally leads to a spectacular chase sequence involving BMWs and motorbikes ending up along a desert highway.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation has all the hallmarks of a classic British spy thriller and as the nail biting narrative returns to London in the closing section of the film, the brittle spy jargon is superbly written by McQuarrie with such lines as “Ethan Hunt is the Manifestation of Destiny”.

mission_impossible__rogue_nation

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is highly recommended, beautifully paced, eloquently written and the muscular action sequences will not disappoint right up to the suspense filled climax. Fans of the previous films will enjoy Rogue Nation and hope that this is surely not the end of a hugely successful and fascinating film franchise which has always had amazing stunts, brilliant action sequences and exotic locations, the bespoke ingredients of any spy thriller.

 

 

Thracian Turmoil

Hercules

hercules_ver2

Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, John Hurt, Reece Ritchie, Joseph Fiennes, Tobias Santelmann, Ingrid Borso Berdal, Rebecca Ferguson, Aksel Hennie

After Hercules completes the 12 labours, the demi-god gets involved with a civil war in Thrace http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrace. Based upon the graphic novel, Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore, director Brett Ratner (After the Sunset, Tower Heist, The Rush Hour Trilogy) brings to glossy cinematic life this ancient loincloth adventure which shows Hercules played by Dwayne Johnson (GI Joe, Rise of the Cobra) along with a band of mercenaries including Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Amazon archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and his nephew storyteller Iolaus played by Reece Ritchie in various Thracian turmoils.

Hercules and his bloodthirsty and feral band of misfits are approached by Ergenia played by upcoming Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson on behalf of her father, the duplicitous Lord Cortys played by veteran British actor John Hurt to quell a civil war brewing in Thrace, supposedly led by the gruesome insurrectionist warlord Rheseus played by Norwegian actor Tobias Santelmann.

As the battle ensues it soon emerges that Lord Cortys has a secret alliance with the evil King Eurystheus who is wonderfully played by Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) who tormented Hercules with the notion that he was responsible for the murder of his own wife and children, which resulted in his subsequent exile.

Painted by Pieter Paul Rubens

Painted by Pieter Paul Rubens

With superb cinematography by Dante Spinotti, director Brett Ratner brings a lavish eye to these mythological battles and while Johnson might not be as believable as Hercules, he is in terms of acting, he is so in terms of strength and brute force, quite opposite to the scantily clad Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules.

Viewers shouldn’t expect Game of Thrones or 300 style gore or bloodshed in the battle scenes, as Ratner has deliberately chosen to make Hercules palatable to a teenage audience and has spared scenes of gratuitous nudity and gruesome violence.

Unlike the earlier film The Legend of Hercules, this version of Hercules portrays the man as more mature and hardened warrior famed for completing the 12 labours of Hercules and now embroiled in what is seemingly a Grecian civil strife.

Reece Ritchie 10 000 BC and The Lovely Bones fame does a superb job as the loquacious storyteller Iolaus, nephew of Hercules and the acting stakes are held up by British actor Rufus Sewell (Carrington, Tristan and Isolde) along with Scottish actor Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), who seamlessly blend humour and bravado as they embark on their less than gruesome Thracian battles.

Hercules is a well narrated fun filled mythological adventure film with some stunning action sequences especially the closing battle and the toppling of the massive statue of Hera. Lovers of mythological films such as Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans, will definitely enjoy Hercules, even if Dwayne Johnson’s acting leaves much to be desired.

This version of Hercules is recommended viewing and suitably classical complete with Grecian costumes and fantastic scenery where myth and legend blend to become a more plausible historical reality.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
August 2018
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
  • San Sebastian: Films in Progress Picks ‘Los Fuertes,’ ‘The Prince,’ ‘Sirena’
    MADRID — Omar Zuñiga’s “Los Fuertes,’ Sebastián Muñoz’s “The Prince” and Carlos Piñeiro’s “Sirena” have been selected for the 34th, twice-yearly, Films in Progress, a Latin American pix-in-post competition which runs Sept.24-26 at Spain’s San Sebastián Festival, representing one of the event’s biggest industry attractions for arthouse sales agents and distributors. Strong on co-productions – […]
    John Hopewell
  • ‘Prisoners of War’ to Be First Hebrew-Language Show to Roll Into India
    Keshet International’s Israeli series “Prisoners of War” (“Hatufim”) is set to be the first Hebrew-language series to roll into India. In a landmark deal, Tata Sky, India’s leading content distribution platform, has just acquired the first and second season of the show. “Prisoners of War,” which is best known for having inspired the Golden Globe-winning […]
    elskes
  • Mike Leigh’s ‘Peterloo’ Sets London Film Festival First With Manchester Premiere
    Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo” is set to have its U.K. premiere as part of the BFI London Film Festival, but in an unusual move, the Oct. 17 gala screening will take place in the city of Manchester, where the film’s events take place, rather than in London. It will be the first time one of the […]
    Robert Mitchell
  • Sarajevo Film Festival Signs Gender-Parity Pledge
    The Sarajevo Film Festival has signed the 5050×2020 Charter, the latest festival to adopt the plan for narrowing the gender gap. Organizers in Sarajevo said the move was the festival’s “contribution to the establishment of gender parity and inclusion in the film industry.” Sarajevo director Mirsad Purivatra signed the charter Wednesday. First introduced this year in […]
    Henry Chu
  • ‘Candy Crush Saga’ Creators Just Released Your Next Addiction
    The next major game from the people behind massive mobile hit “Candy Crush Saga” is a surprisingly deft mix of role-playing, strategy, and puzzler; casual and hardcore. A mobile game that sends players across a frozen tundra battling through a menagerie of enemies plucked from Nordic folklore as they try to stave off Ragnarok. “Legend […]
    Brian Crecente
  • Article
    Over the past few years, several low-cost carriers have stepped up to offer competition and cheapest prices to customers looking to cut down their monthly bills. Tags: 2gmhass90