Posts Tagged ‘Riley Keough’

The Hillbilly Heist

Logan Lucky

 

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Sebastian Stan, Katherine Waterson, David Denham

Director Steven Soderbergh has an inventive filmography including Contagion, Side Effects and the Oscar winning films Traffic and Erin Brockovich.

He returns to the big screen with the redneck caper film Logan Lucky starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as unfortunate West Virginia brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan who together with their younger sister Mellie played by Legendary singer Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, Magic Mike) who concoct a plan to steal cash from the Nascar Speedway during a major Racing event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In order to break into the air locked vault of the cash rich Speedway, the Logan brothers enlist the assistance of incarcerated Joe Bang wonderfully played in a stand out (possibly Oscar worthy) performance by James Bond star Daniel Craig who obviously was desperate to breakout of  the 007 image.

Which is what makes Logan Lucky all the more fascinating. Soderbergh’s uncanny ability to assemble a really good cast to tell an extraordinarily clever story almost rival’s that of the cinematic auteur Woody Allen in his comic films like Café Society.

Except that Logan Lucky is a far cry from the glamourous Golden age of Hollywood of Café Society. Logan Lucky is an exceptionally funny film and almost bizarrely told with a deadpan sense of timing that makes the heist which they seemingly pull off even more unbelievable.

In order for Joe Bang to assist the Logan brothers he has to enlist the help of his own two hillbilly brothers Fish and Sam Bang, superbly played by rising stars Jack Quaid (son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) and Brian Gleeson (The Eagle, Snow White and the Huntsman) son of Brendan Gleeson.

The unbelievably stupid Bang brothers unlike the Logan brothers feel that committing a crime would be immoral but when the lure of big cash is promised their assistance is secured unequivocally.

What follows is an ingenuous heist film centred on the Nascar Car Racing Event in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the South, below the Mason-Dixon Line where the Southern drawl is pronounced and patriotism to the American flag is unwavering.

With Soderbergh’s trademark use of cameo appearances of big stars including Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Sebastian Stan and Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby) as FBI Special Agent Sarah Grayson who post-heist desperately tries to catch the culprits only to land up at a West Virginia bar being served by a one armed bartender, Logan Lucky is a character driven film about ordinary citizens wanting to better themselves in a semi-impoverished backwater.

Audiences would have to watch Logan Lucky to enjoy Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and an excellent Daniel Craig in a hillbilly heist comedy about outback losers who plan on getting back at the system which has kept them downtrodden and unemployed. Highly Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed the Ocean’s Eleven Trilogy without the glamour.

Logan Lucky gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is immensely enjoyable.

The Valhalla Highway

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Riley Keough, Josh Helman

The much anticipated fourth instalment of the Mad Max series synonymous with industrial chic and post-apocalyptic desert car chase sequences arrives with a vengeance without Mel Gibson.

Thirty years from the last film, George Miller directs Mad Max: Fury Road with British actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) impressively taking over the role of Mad Max along with South African born Oscar Winner Charlize Theron (Monster) as the shaven head Imperator Furiosa, a determined woman who escapes the clutches of an evil desert war lord, Immortan Joe played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who ruthlessly guards the scarce resources of the planet’s water and food for his own anarchic empire, aptly titled the Citadel.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a brilliant energetic and subversive film, an allegorical road trip highlighting the scarcity of the earth’s resources including oil and water, but more significantly, the action and stunt sequences are truly phenomenal. As the diabolical Immortan Joe and his crazed band of war boys, white-faced and vicious chase Imperator across what is dubbed Valhalla’s Highway, a vast epic journey into the end of eternity.

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Shot in Namibia that beautiful desert African country, Mad Max: Fury Road does not disappoint especially with suitably savage and believable performances by Theron and Hardy, both whom have the enormous talent to make this film utterly believable, when even at times the stunts are so unbelievable.

In a clever plot twist, there are a bunch of supermodels and actresses cast in Mad Max: Fury Road including Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough along with Zoe Kravitz along with a frenetic Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) cast as Nux a renegade warboy who is desperate to break free from the tyranny, but gets consumed by the mayhem.

The sets, sound editing and stunts are truly amazing and should definitely be seen on the big screen especially the final chase sequence involving the war rig, a huge menacing oil tanker deftly driven by Imperator with the help of Mad Max as they desperately try to elude the menacing attempts at capture by Immortan Joe and his vicious gang of thugs.

The script is not particularly enlightening but then again this is Mad Max, but the construction of the film is impressive, like a desert opera in three acts, with each act more savage and gripping than the last, a crazed action chase film in a post-apocalyptic setting with no hints of redemption or salvation.

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Director George Miller does a fascinating job at re-imagining the Mad Max tropes for the 21st century audience, placing more emphasis on the value of scarce resources and on the fact that girls can also kick ass too, especially the formidable collective known as The Wives (Huntington-Whiteley, Kravitz and the gorgeous gang) subverting the traditional male orientated chase film and producing a more explicit and frenetic action film that will appeal to all audiences who enjoyed the original Mad Max trilogy.

Incidentally Valhalla in Viking mythology was where warriors go to die after fighting bravely in battle, in this case the chaotic Valhalla highway is paved with destructive intentions, cruelty, action and anarchy. See it to believe it! Highly recommended viewing for lovers of films like The Book of Eli and Max Payne.

 

 

 

 

Stripping for Tantalizing Tampa

MAGIC MIKE

This ain’t the village people

Before anyone reads this review, there is a confession to be made… I am a huge Steven Soderbergh fan!

As a film director he can do little wrong. Who else could turn a seemingly sordid tale of male stripping in Southern Florida into a thought-provoking work of decent cinema despite the subject matter? Steven Soderbergh can and it appears he has found his new muse in rising star, dancer turned actor Channing Tatum, in which this story of struggling male stripper turned actor is apparently based on. Magic Mike is far from amusing but tantalizing, provocative and superbly directed.

Soderbergh does for the almost closeted world of male stripping what Darren Aronofsky did for Wrestling and Ballet in his acclaimed films, The Wrestler and Black Swan. After all Soderbergh directed the Oscar winning multitextured portrayal of drug running on the US-Mexican border in Traffic and made a social political thriller in 2011’s excellent film Contagion.

With brilliant direction and solid performances by Channing Tatum in the title role along with Alex Pettyfer as novice young stripper Adam, along with Cody Horn as Adam’s responsible and disapproving sister Brooke and a charismatic and memorable performance by Matthew McConnaughey as sleazy and vain nightclub owner Dallas, Magic Mike follows the trials and stripteases of Mike and Adam in the raunchy and drugfuelled world of male stripping where the cash is easy but the credibility is often unattainable.

Magic Mike is no comedy and although there are loads of hot male bodies, both butts and torsos for female viewers to titiliate over, the film brilliantly overshadows the British comedy on the same subject The Full Monty in both flesh and substance. Its a sort of indictment of how far ordinary people will go to survive in an economically constrained era whilst also highlighting the pitfalls of being drawn into a morally dubious and nefarious glitzy world of strip clubs which is both addictive and difficult to escape from without one’s dignity completely unscathed.

Soderbergh does not sugar coat the world of male stripping nor glamorize its virtues for ultimately the cheap thrills that women receive always takes an emotional toll on the men being objectified. Stripping whether by men or women is ultimately always about sexual objectification and erotic tantalization with the ever elusive promise of forbidden fulfillment. Magic Mike has some light moments and lots of great eye-candy, but the film’s success belongs to Soderbergh’s expert direction and two surprisingly well balanced performances by Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer. Well worth the cinematic experience and not just for the gorgeous male cast! There is dancing too! Besides the film’s tagline says everything Work all Day, Work it all Night!

 

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