Posts Tagged ‘Robert Duvall’

Dollar Signs and Empty Promises

Widows

Director: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver, Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Duvall, Jon Bernthal, Carrie Coon, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Brian Tyree Henry, Garrett Dillahunt, Cynthia Erivo

In a labyrinth tale which at times is difficult to follow, 12 Years a Slave and Shame director Steve McQueen weaves a tangled web in the contemporary Chicago crime drama Widows featuring an outstanding ensemble cast including a brilliant Viola Davis, Oscar winner for Fences, Oscar nominees Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) as a ruthless hitman, Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) as a pushy Polish mother along with Oscar winner Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies) as Colin Farrell’s hectic father Tom Mulligan.

What sets Widows apart is that McQueen frames the film as a gritty more complex version of Oceans 8 with pivotal roles for Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki (The Tale) and Michelle Rodriguez as three widowed woman who decided to band together and conspire to do a heist to rob from alderman Mulligan played by Colin Farrell who is in a turf war with his contestant a rising African-American politician Jamal Manning played by Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis).

Daniel Kaluuya plays the insanely evil and vindictive younger brother Jatemme Manning who feels nothing as he tortures a snitch in a wheelchair or makes victims sing before executing them at point blank range.

Director Steve McQueen frames every shot with a keen eye for detail especially the excellent scenes with Viola Davis as she comes to terms with her husband and thief Harry Rawlings explosive demise, shot in a series of intimate flashbacks scenes made more poignant that action star Liam Neeson plays the street savvy thief Rawlings.

What Widows does offer is a sophisticated treatment of contemporary American race relations, inner city corruption, poverty and crime of which there is plenty in this film.

McQueen lets certain scenes linger too long while allowing others to be cut so short that their explosive nature is electrifying. Where he is excels is at is controlling this massive and diverse ensemble cast.

Veteran star Robert Duvall has a fairly major role as the paternal Trumpesque figure Tom Mulligan who is trying to retain his family’s supremacy in the political environment despite his son Jack’s dubious double dealing whose only achievement is offering dollar signs and empty promises.

Equally refreshing is to see Fast and Furious star Michelle Rodriguez in a more substantial role as she battles to keep her family together after her Latino husband Carlos, a briefly seen cameo by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo perishes in Rawling’s heist that goes terribly wrong.

Widows gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and has a massive twist which should keep audiences riveted in a sprawling crime drama held together by superb acting. Highly recommended viewing.

2014 Toronto Film Festival

2014 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

TIFF2014_poster

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

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Opening Night Film: The Judge directed by David Dobkin starring Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Dax Shepard, Billy Bob Thornton, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio

imitation_game

People’s Choice Award: The Imitation Game directed by Morten Tyldum starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Tom Goodman-Hill

Best Canadian Feature Film: Bang Bang Baby directed by Jeffrey St. Jules starring Jane Levy, Peter Stormare and Justin Chatwin.

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Arsenal of Intrigue

Jack Reacher

Get Jack Reacher!

Get Jack Reacher!

Tom Cruise returns to the big screen as Jack Reacher in the title role, a less glamorous version of  Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible Franchise a untraceable drifter who gets called to Pittsburgh following a multiple sniper shooting incident leaving four people dead. Jack Reacher is directed by the screenwriter of Valkyrie Christopher McQuarrie and based upon the book by Lee Child who turns out an evenly paced suspense thriller with Reacher teaming up with the District Attorney’s daughter Helen Rodin played by Rosamund Pike to help solve a seemingly senseless crime leaving five innocent people dead expertly shot in broad daylight in Pittsburgh.

Jack Reacher uses military training and a quirky way to get to solve the crime and find out who really is behind the seemingly sense killings. Unlike the horrific real-life massacre at Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, there does appear to be a motive behind the senseless act of violence in downtown Pittsburgh which occurs in Jack Reacher as the film not only looks at the alleged perpetrator but also at the victims. Soon the real criminals are exposed along with a dodgy Georgian (ex-Soviet Union) corporation taking over the American construction industry.

Whilst Jack Reacher is a well-timed suspense thriller, one gets a feeling that Tom Cruise’s days playing an action hero are numbered. Although that said Bruce Willis is still churning out Die Hard sequels. Despite the random violence explored, there is underlying sense in the film that America is never going to allow its citizens to forfeit their right to bear arms, as outlined in the second amendment.

Jack Reacher is an engaging action film especially as a crime reconstruction thriller, with Cruise naturally holding his own as the unconventional recession-hit action hero, using other people’s cars and catching buses. Watch out for a brief appearance by German film director, actor and screenwriter Werner Herzog as the arch villain. Interesting casting to say the least and unfortunately the talented Richard Jenkins is underutilized in Jack Reacher, but remains necessary as does Robert Duvall to create a strong supporting cast.

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