Posts Tagged ‘Rebel Wilson’

A Night at the Egyptian

Cats

Director: Tom Hooper

Cast: Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Francesca Hayward, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Laurie Davidson, Robbie Fairchild, Ray Winstone, Steven McRae, Danny Collins

Based upon Modernist poet T. S. Eliot’s poetry collection, Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats the musical has been a Broadway and West End hit for decades.

The film version of Cats directed by Les Miserables director Tom Hooper is fascinating, surreal but also quite lacklustre and this is due to the uneven casting of the film.

Cats as a film has superb production design with brilliantly realized costumes and sets, but viewers must be familiar with the Theatre production of Cats which was primarily about movement, dancing and singing.

To turn such a successful theatrical production of Cats into a hit film is a daunting task for any director. Despite Tom Hooper’s success with such films as Les Miserables, The Danish Girl and The King’s Speech, he unfortunately misses a golden opportunity to make the cinematic version of Cats absolutely dazzling and that has a lot to do with the strange casting choices for the roles.

While Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) adds gravitas as Old Deuteronomy, Idris Elba’s green eyed Macavity is just plain weird and as for Rebel Wilson and James Corden, they should not have been cast at all as their interpretation of Jennyanydots and Bustopher Jones is utterly cringe worthy.

What saves Cats is Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s interpretation of Grizabella as her solo numbers are superb and she really anchors the film with a brilliant onscreen performance and fantastic singing.

All the professional singers cast in Cats are really good, including a mesmerizing performance by Taylor Swift as Bombalurina whose onscreen entrance is clearly inspired by Nicole Kidman’s entrance in Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece Moulin Rouge. Jason Derulo equally holds his own as Rum Tum Tigger and Laurie Davidson’s interpretation of Mr Mistoffelees is spot on and charming.

The narrative arc of Cats goes completely off track but audiences must remember that the musical was loosely based on a collection of lyrical poems, so there was never a strong story to begin with. The middle of Cats is entertaining especially the tap dance scene performed by Steven McRae as Skimbleshanks. Newcomer Francesca Hayward holds her own as the novice feline Victoria.

Unfortunately the beginning and ending are terrible and audiences get a sense that director Tom Hooper was a bit out of his depth with this film production. But perhaps if Baz Luhrmann had directed it, viewers would have gotten an entirely unique interpretation.

Cats as a film is enjoyable but not brilliant, saved by magnificent soloist performances, solid production design and generally speaking the cinematic effort should be applauded and not so universally mocked as it has been on social media.

Despite the dubious casting choices, Cats only gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is really aimed at ardent fans of the hit musical production.

What’s Up Bitches!

Pitch Perfect 3

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Ruby Rose, Guy Burnet, Esther Dean, Hana Mae Lee

The Barden Bella’s are back for a third instalment of the hugely popular Pitch Perfect franchise which sees the all-female a cappella singing group suffering from a mild quarter life crisis as the gang of struggling young girls all battle to hold down jobs, their fluctuating self-esteem and their friendships which were so tightly wound in Pitch Perfect 2.

While actress Elizabeth Banks directed and starred in Pitch Perfect 2 and that sequel proved to be absolutely hilarious, this third instalment doesn’t quite reach the same levels of hysteria or conformity. Most of the jokes are provided by the ever adventurous fat Amy wonderfully played by Rebel Wilson as her and the rest of the group travel to Southern Europe to help boost American troop morale at the various army bases in Spain and France, which is especially pertinent in a Trump era presidency.

Fat Army also has to content with her slimy Australian father Fergus, played with a dodgy accent by acclaimed American character actor John Lithgow who was so brilliant as Winston Churchill in the stunning Netflix series The Crown. What was he thinking appearing in Pitch Perfect 3?

Fergus, keen to get his hands on Amy’s stashed millions in the Cayman Islands, kidnaps the group of girls  and imprisons them on a luxury yacht aptly named Fat Dingo Bitch in the Mediterranean which Amy and the ever optimistic Bela played by Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) plan on rescuing the group from Amy’s evil father.

Admittedly, Pitch Perfect 3 is not as funny as the first two films but enjoyable enough and is recommended for audiences that loved the previous films.

Audiences should watch out for a cameo by Ruby Rose as the lead singer of a rival group. Unfortunately, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) does not have enough screen time in Pitch Perfect 3 to showcase her true talents, but makes the most of her fun-filled role as Emily.

The man candy is supplied by Matt Lanter as Lieutenant Chicago, a dashing army liaison officer and British actor Guy Burnet (Mortdecai) as music producer Theo who falls for Beca.

Pitch Perfect 3 is fun-filled and an ideal holiday movie especially the closing number a vibrant cover of singer George Michael’s hit song Freedom performed with exuberance by the Barden Bella’s.

Pitch Perfect 3 gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is the perfect film for taking a bunch of bored teenage girls to watch who will no doubt enjoy its delightfully comic moments.

Living the Dream is the Best Revenge

Absolutely Fabulous

absolutely_fabulous_the_movie_ver2

Director: Mandie Fletcher

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Julia Sawahla, Gwendoline Christie, Kathy Burke, Celia Imrie, Robert Webb, Chris Colfer, Lily Cole, Kate Moss, Joan Collins, Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson

Living the dream is the best revenge sweetie darlings especially when you apparently kill supermodel and party waif Kate Moss. Yes Patsy and Edina are back!

Its director Mandie Fletcher’s full screen film version of the hit BBC TV series Absolutely Fabulous featuring the notorious Patsy superbly played by Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Edina based on a hilarious screenplay by Jennifer Saunders who plays her in the film.

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Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious, making lots of smart references to current and past British pop culture from celebrities (look out for guest appearances by Graham Norton, Suki Waterhouse), to Technology to Fashion. Set in London, Patsy and Edina find themselves fresh out of Bolly (Champagne, darlings) and realize that their credit cards have been cut up, an oblique reference to the global recession, so naturally they have to go out and earn a living.

Edina has written a book and Patsy is still apparently running a Fashion house although it’s actually the foul-mouthed and handbag flinging Magda, a brilliant and vicious cameo by veteran actress Kathy Burke, who is really calling the shots.

At a bizarre and incredibly oversubscribed launch party for some new Fashion House, Edina accidentally bumps Kate Moss into the icy Thames River and arch PR rival Claudia Bing, garishly played by Celia Imrie, lays the blame for the supermodels apparent demise on Edina and of course Patsy – it’s guilty by association, sweetie darlings! Audiences should look out for cameos by Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) and Joan Collins of Dynasty fame.

The London fashion world plunges into a media frenzy as everyone darlings, including the gay boys and Gwendoline Christie go into mourning. Edina is vilified on Twitter, she even complains to her straight laced daughter Saffy, wonderfully played by Julia Sawahla, that she is a pariah.

Saffy asks “Do you know what a pariah is mother?” Edina answers: “Yes darling it’s a fish”.

Even designer Stella McCartney throws a brick threw their Holland Park window, and then Patsy and Edina realize after much vodka and drugs, that its best to go on the run. To where sweetie darlings?

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Cannes, on the French Riviera where everyone is a foreign yet glamourous criminal. Naturally darlings! The second half of Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious. Soon the French police track the infamous pair down to a villa belonging to the wealthiest dowager on the Riviera.

Meanwhile back in London, French designer Jean-Paul Gautier is strolling by the Thames and who should emerge from the river, still looking gorgeous, Sauvignon Blanc in one hand and cigarette in the other?

Whilst Patsy and Edina constantly lose the plot, so does the film version of Absolutely Fabulous, but nevertheless it is still a hilarious fun-filled romp, paying homage to the successful and long running TV show which became a massive BBC hit.

Absolutely Fabulous is not everyone’s glass of Bolly darlings.

Like similar transformations of 30 minute hit TV series into 90 minute films namely Entourage and Sex and the City, Absolutely Fabulous, the movie will only really appeal to those that faithfully followed the TV series and are naturally knowledgeable about current British pop culture. Nevertheless, sweetie darlings, it’s still light hearted and bloody good fun!

 

The Beautiful Barden Bellas

Pitch Perfect 2

pitch_perfect_two_ver3

Director: Elizabeth Banks

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Esther Dean, Hana Mae Lee, John Michael Higgins

As an actress I first noticed Elizabeth Banks in the hilarious and very risqué comedy Zach and Mary Make a Porno and then she went onto make a string of films including The Next 3 Days before being cast as the zany Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games Trilogy. Then Banks was cast as the hilarious announcer in Pitch Perfect so is perfectly suitable that she should take over as director for the highly anticipated and hilarious sequel.

It is wonderful to see so many female directors becoming prominent recently in Hollywood especially in an international film business which is predominantly populated by men. Cinema traditionally was accustomed to seeing film through the eyes of men. But recently all that is changing.

So it’s perfect that Elizabeth Banks become director of Pitch Perfect 2 which in essence is a film about girls, aimed at girls and directed by a woman.

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The girls in question are the Beautiful Barden Bella’s, a high school a cappella singing group which affords an opportunity for a variety of talented young actresses to be seen together on screen including Anna Kendrick Oscar nominee for Up in the Air, Australian comedian Rebel Wilson and newcomer to the Barden Bella’s, Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld who was so extraordinarily impressive in the Coen brothers version of True Grit.

Pitch Perfect 2 basically picks up where the first film left off and after a hilariously funny wardrobe malfunction curtsey of Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson occurs  unexpectedly at the Lincoln Centre in front of a distinguished audience including the US President and the First Lady, the Barden Bella’s are naturally banned from performing nationally or entering competitions as they have quite literally fallen into ill repute.

This film does not dwell on their misfortunes and soon the Barden Bella’s have to regroup and practice as they plan on entering the international a cappella championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

So Banks as director, takes the audience on a self-parodying and satisfying journey of the Barden Bella’s as they attempt to reclaim their title and most importantly their dignity as well as highlighting many of the insecurities that young female school leavers face as they have to contend with choices about College, chauvinistic male bosses and a competitive workplace which is essentially still ruled by men. This is particularly highlighted in Beca experiences, (played by Anna Kendrick), as she attempts to secretly forge her own career as a music producer in a big Atlanta studio.

Hailee Steinfeld is superb and brings a certain vivaciousness to the Barden Bella’s but admittedly I could not help wondering what such a talented actress is doing in a film like Pitch Perfect 2 after seeing her in True Grit and Romeo and Juliet. Then it was her casting which is a stroke of genius as with Banks as director, she adeptly uses Steinfeld to showcase the rest of the Bella’s cast including Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson and Alexis Knapp.

The fact that Pitch Perfect 2 did so phenomenally well at the Box Office during its opening weekend is testament to the growing realization that the young teenage female cinema going audience is not a demographic to be overlooked for Box Office success.

Let’s face it most summer blockbuster films like the upcoming Jurassic World and Terminator reboots are aimed at a purely male audience.

Elizabeth Banks does an admirable job of directing Pitch Perfect 2 making a reasonably light and often hilarious comedy sequel about a group of girls aiming for international fame. Watch out for some brilliant scenes with Rebel Wilson besides the infamous opening number and also for guest appearances by various celebrities including Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine.

Pitch Perfect 2 is highly recommended viewing for a fun filled two hours in the cinema, not to be taken too seriously but to be enjoyed just enough so that Girl power in all its forms is a formidable force to be reckoned with. The songs are fabulous and I am sure even some of the guys will enjoy this hilarious and brilliant sequel. Hats off to Elizabeth Banks, as she scored a hit with the Beautiful Barden Bella’s.

 

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