Posts Tagged ‘Rufus Sewell’

The Talk of the Town

Judy

Director: Rupert Goold

Cast: Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Richard Cordery, Royce Pierreson, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Darci Shaw, Gus Barry

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Based on the Stage play by Peter Quilter, End of the Rainbow, director Rupert Goold’s poignant musical drama Judy features a mesmerising performance by Oscar winner Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) as Judy Garland in the autumn of her career.

Zellweger transforms herself into Judy Garland as she becomes the film Judy with herself in virtually every scene as she battles with drug addiction and alcoholism in a desperate attempt to revive her flagging musical career in a series of shows in London in the winter of 1968 at a cabaret club in the West End, called The Talk of the Town.

With insightful flashbacks of herself as a young Judy Garland when she became the breakout child star of the 1939 hit Musical The Wizard of Oz for MGM. During this time, the young Judy played by Darci Shaw is under a strict contract by the formidable head of the studio Louis B. Mayer played by Richard Cordery. As a young star she forms an attraction to another young child star Mickey Rooney played Gus Barry. Yet the studio had the young Judy Garland on a stringent diet of appetite suppressants, uppers and downers as she always had to watch her figure, becoming a slave to the merciless studio system which exploited young actors and actresses who were under severe contractual obligations.

Fast forward to 1968, Judy Garland meets the dashing Mickey Deans wonderfully played by Finn Wittrock (Unbroken, The Big Short) at her elder and more famous daughter Liza Minelli’s house party in the Hollywood Hills. Liza is played by Gemma-Leah Devereux.

Judy is having a custody battle over her two younger children with her fourth ex-husband Sid Luft played by Rufus Sewell (Carrington, Gods of Egypt, Hercules). Her financial difficulties force her to take up a Gig in London performing at the glamorous Talk of the Town cabaret venue where she forms a veritable bond with her personal assistant Rosalyn Wilder played by Irish actress Jessie Buckley as Judy belts at some fabulous numbers on a glittering stage.

Psychologically, Judy Garland is dealing with some traumatic emotional issues while always pretending to be a consummate performer. Zellweger expertly gives a nuanced heart-wrenching performance as Judy Garland, a legendary Hollywood star in the autumn of her career who also become a champion for London’s gay community in the 1960’s.

At the centre of Rupert Goold’s film Judy is a staggeringly brilliant performance by Renee Zellweger who definitely deserves another Oscar for her excellent portrayal of a Hollywood icon. In a particularly hilarious scene with a doctor, who asks her what do you take for depression?

Judy candidly replies four ex-husbands!

Judy gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy films about Hollywood Divas. For those that enjoyed My Week with Marilyn, they will love Judy, a gem of a British film featuring a staggering performance by Renee Zellweger.

Egyptian Escapism

Gods of Egypt

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Director: Alex Proyas

Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Bryan Brown, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler, Emma Booth, Chadwick Boseman, Geoffrey Rush, Courtney Eaton, Elodie Yung

Escapist cinema is fun but often its never particularly good, just merely entertaining. This is the case with the latest film from Knowing director Alex Proyas who imaginatively captures the golden world of Egyptian mythology in the action adventure swashbuckler, Gods of Egypt.

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After a fabulous introduction to the Egyptian Gods and their hierarchy, a muscular Horus, son of Egyptian God Osiris, played by Game of Thrones hunk and Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau finds himself at the centre of a bitter family feud between his father, Osiris played by Australian actor Bryan Brown (Australia, Gorillas in the Mist) and his evil brother Set, the God of Darkness, wonderfully played with just the right dash of malevolence by Gerard Butler (Olympus has Fallen, 300).

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There is inevitably a spectacular clash of the Gods witnessed by the mere mortals, ancient Egypt is plunged into slavery and servitude and one mortal, the brave and ambitious Bek played by the young actor Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) befriends Horus after he assists the blighted God with his eyesight. The malicious Set blinded Horus and plucked out his eyes, hiding one in the cavernous centre of a pyramid.

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Horus and Bek embark on a journey of revenge and aim to overthrow the almighty Set whilst, even appealing to the supreme deity Ra, the Egyptian Sun God, lavishly played by Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech). British actor Rufus Sewell makes a brief appearance as Egyptian obelisk builder Urshu who serves as Set’s henchman. Audiences should also watch out for Chadwick Boseman in a rather camp portrayal as Thoth, the vain God of wisdom.

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In the meantime, Bek has to save his love, the ravishing Zaya played by Courtney Eaton (Mad Max: Fury Road), from plunging eternally into the seven circles of the Egyptian underworld after she is mortally wounded. Set has his own plans of upsetting the underworld’s delicate balance and plunging both mortals and Egyptian Gods into abysmal chaos.

If this all sounds a bit much, it probably is. This is Egyptian Escapism at its best. Whilst the cast do a fair good job of bringing the glamorous CGI laden adventure story up to a believable level of interest, the plot falters as much as the landscape and pure escapism does not quite hold up so well.

Unlike Star Wars: The Force Awakens which already has a cult following and is pure Sci-Fi, Gods of Egypt is in the precarious realm of fantasy, and unfortunately the cast are not mainstream enough to sustain the believability of the plot.

Whilst the costumes and production design would appeal to any budding Egyptologist, Gods of Egypt does not elevate itself as a fascinating mythical adventure but more as an escapist adventure story. While Gods of Egypt is fun to watch, it is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Clash of the Titans, Hercules and Tarsem Singh’s The Immortals, but unfortunately not as good.

 

 

 

 

Thracian Turmoil

Hercules

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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.

An American in Venice…

The Tourist

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Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck stylish comic thriller The Tourist is more a film to showcase some European and British talent than it is a blockbuster for the two major American stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

Jolie and Depp shine as the leading couple especially in a wonderful scene at the Hotel Daniela in Venice, when Jolie who plays Elize Ward tells Frank (the Tourist) that after a dinner out, he has to sleep on the couch in the deluxe suite. Frank imagines the glamorous Elize undressing in the next bedroom, as he curls up on the crimson sofa with his spy novel.  The next morning Frank is suddenly escaping Russian gunmen on the rooftops of  Venetian villas and falls victim to the idiosyncrasies of the Italian police force when questioned about his supposed pursuers.

Venice is a much a character in The Tourist as the rest of the cast, and the ancient Italian city built on water is murky with a seductive intrigue whilst von Donnersmarck shows off this superb location, from wide-angle shots of the Piazza San Marco to subtle references in the script. One of the characters a cameo by Rufus Sewell even says if this intrigue had happened someplace else it would not be the same as it happening Venice.

The Tourist is a tribute to sophisticated comedies of the fifties and sixties complete with gorgeous costumes, a dash of intrigue and a beautiful location to match. Depp and Jolie are a wonderful pair as foils to each other’s deceptions. There is obvious tribute to the James Bond films in the Tourist, from Moonraker and Casino Royale both set in Venice, to Timothy Dalton as the head of M16 and a sinister impressive performance by Steven Berkoff, playing the billionaire gangster Shaw, reprising the role of the villain as he did with menace in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.

The Tourist is a heady cocktail of intrigue, deception, humour and glamour letting the audience feel that like the title, they too have travelled on holiday to an exotic location and discovered a world unfamiliar to their own.

Director von Donnersmarck won the 2007 Oscar for best Foreign language film for The Lives of Others and is clearly enjoying making a less serious more glossy cinematic production whilst not compromising on the European style and sophistication of The Tourist‘s main locations, Paris and Venice.

Which always begs the question, why would a maths teacher from Madison, Wisconsin in the American mid-West be traveling alone on a TGV from Paris to Venice?

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