Posts Tagged ‘Sally Hawkins’

Seducing an Amphibian

The Shape of Water

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stulbarg, David Hewlett, Martin Roach

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro reinvents cinematic magic realism in this darkly sublime fantasy adventure The Shape of Water featuring a stand out performance by British actress Sally Hawkins and character actor Michael Shannon.

Set in a covert government laboratory in Baltimore in the early 1960’s at the height of the cold war, The Shape of Water deftly weaves an extraordinary and compelling story of a young mute woman Elisa Esposito played by Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky, Blue Jasmine) who along with her co-worker Zelda Fuller played by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) play observant cleaners in this secret facility ruled by the vain and cruel manager, Richard Strickland, wonderfully played with an ambivalent menace by Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, Revolutionary Road).

Elisa lives with a repressed homosexual Giles who is struggling to reignite his graphic design business. Giles is played with an exuberant flair by Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor).

What is so magnificent about The Shape of Water is the brilliant script co-written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor and the intriguing plot is underscored by a tantalizing musical score by Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat who also provided the fantastic original score for director Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Highlighting the duplicitous Cold War, is the fastidious scientist Dr Robert Hoffstetler beautifully played by character actor Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Trumbo, Miles Ahead).

Eliza, the sexually charged mute cleaning lady develops a sensual bond of the most unusual nature with the Amphibian man played by Doug Jones, who is both exotic, dangerous and restorative. This Amphibian was discovered in the South American jungle and worshipped as a God by the indigenous tribes only to be snatched by sinister American agents to be used as a guinea pig in a space race against the murky and nefarious Soviets.

The Shape of Water is an intelligently woven allegorical tale about the exotic entering a decade of American consumerism which was as paranoid as it was dictatorial: the 1960’s. Set against the Cold War, this augmented paranoia is heightened through various well placed TV images of the rising tensions of the civil rights movements permeating in the background, along with many other counter-cultural movement which eventually undid the 1960’s completely and changed America forever.

Visually, The Shape of Water is rich with symbolic imagery and director Guillermo del Toro relishes in mixing the brutal with the gorgeous.

The love of cinema shines through in The Shape of Water, which I consider to be del Toro’s best work with the exception of his Oscar winning foreign language film, Pan’s Labyrinth.

The performances by a mostly ensemble cast are exemplary in a film that will dazzle the senses aided by exceptionally high production values and a quirky story which is both lyrical and tragic.

Highly recommended viewing, The Shape of Water gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

 

 

66th Golden Globe Awards

66th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday  11th January 2009 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

slumdog_millionaire

Best Film Drama: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director: Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire

vicky_cristina_barcelonaBest Film Musical or Comedy: Vicky Christina Barcelona

untitled

Best Actor Drama: Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler

revolutionary_road

Best Actress Drama: Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road

in_brugesBest Actor Musical or Comedy: Colin Farrell – In Bruges

happy_go_lucky

Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Sally Hawkins – Happy Go Lucky

dark_knight_ver7

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

reader_ver2

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet – The Reader

waltz_with_bashir_ver2

Best Foreign Language Film: Waltz with Bashir (Israel)

Gigantic Nuclear Proportions

Godzilla

godzilla_ver4

Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn

At the heart of any disaster film, is the struggle of a nuclear family to survive the impending devastation. The brilliant film The Impossible directed by J. A. Bayona about the 2005 Boxing Day Tsunami which wrecked Thailand and beyond proves that.

The Original 1956 Godzilla film

The Original 1956 Godzilla film

In the 2014 remake of the Japanese director Ishiro Honda’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishir%C5%8D_Honda original 1956 classic Godzilla, King of Monsters, director Gareth Edwards retains the Japanese mythology of Godzilla setting the 21st century Godzilla in a range of Asian Pacific rim cities from San Francisco to Honolulu to Tokyo. Assembling an all star and eclectic cast similar to Guillero del Toro’s Pacific Rim, director Edwards adds a global flavour to this ultimate retro Asian inspired disaster movie.

With an international mix of supporting stars like Bryan Cranston (Argo), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Great Expectations), little seen Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (The English Patient), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) and David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck), Godzilla boasts an impressive cast to support the rising stars Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Anna Karenina, Savages) who star as Elle and Ford Brody who have a young son Sam, played by Carson Bolde.

As the looming threat of nuclear transformed monsters emerging from the depths of the Pacific Ocean looms, it is this nuclear family that Godzilla focuses its narrative on, not that there is much deep characterization necessary or acting to make Godzilla credible. Serving as a historic metaphor for the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ending World War II and permanently etched in the Japanese psyche, Godzilla become a symbol of all that was wrong with nuclear energy and its transformative effects on the natural world, creating gigantic monsters as a horrific by product of nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

Director Gareth Edwards as a former visual effects artist for a range of scientific TV series (Perfect Disasters, Space Race), naturally in this version of Godzilla, the monsters and special effects take precedence over the acting, leaving the talented cast literally dwarfed by the sheer scale of Godzilla and its two malignant monsters the Moto. Visually this is where Godzilla excels especially in 3D maybe not to the imaginative scale of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, but definitely in the set design and the sheer scope of this disaster film, as the action moves swiftly from the Philippines to Japan to the Californian Coastline and beyond. Even sin city, Vegas is not spared by the wrath of these  destructive creatures.

godzilla_ver3

Godzilla will surely impress audiences with all the mayhem, dazzling visual effects and sheer destruction on screen, however the second half of the film is literally overshadowed by utter devastation to such an extent that it does not make the action seem plausible. Whole cities from Honolulu to San Francisco and parts of Tokyo are destroyed inconsequentially as these monsters play havoc with nature and humanity.

Unfortunately the action erases any attempts at credible acting but then again this is a fantasy disaster movie of nuclear proportions. Cranston and Binoche are underutilized and Taylor-Johnson and Olsen are left struggling to survive this horrific assault on themselves and their city, whilst protecting their only son. The action sequences are incredible especially the Hawaii and Honoulu devastation which is like a combination of Jurassic Park and The Impossible on acid.

For viewers that enjoy big budget disaster movies like Pacific Rim, then Godzilla is not to be missed. What is noteworthy is the allusion in Godzilla to the many natural disasters that Japan has suffered recently from the Fukushima nuclear leak in 2011 following the devastating earthquake which destroyed Sendai.

Director Gareth Edwards does his best to maintain a balance between the characters survival narrative, and a visually impressive disaster film which pays homage to its unique Japanese heritage. Its Godzilla which ultimately triumphs leaving the cast a little underutilized and at times superfluous to the incredible spectacle of the King of Monsters battling its alien nuclear usurpers against an obliterated urban landscape.

 

The Unravelling Socialite

blue_jasmine_ver2

Blue Jasmine

Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Max Casella

Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) gives a tour-de-force performance as the lead character in Woody Allen’s brilliant new American drama Blue Jasmine. Audiences get introduced to Jasmine French a blue-eyed blond hair designer clad Park Avenue socialite as she flies first class to San Francisco to stay with her sister Ginger. Jasmine is all Xanax-popping, Vodka drinking glamour but underneath all the loquaciousness is a woman who has clearly unravelled from a series of financial and social setbacks. Director Allen gradually peals back the layers of Jasmine through a series of flashbacks to her former life in Manhattan and New York where she shared a sumptuous marriage with her shady hedge fund manager cheating husband Hal played by Alec Baldwin and an event which has caused Jasmine to lose everything from her social status to her mind as she clearly flees the East Coast to seek refuge with her non-biological sister Ginger wonderfully played by British actress Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky, Great Expectations) in Northern California.

The contrast between Jasmine and Ginger soon becomes apparent in their diverse taste of men amongst other things. Where Jasmine is clearly drawn to the smooth talking affluent alpha males who will shower her with gifts so as long as she does not need to care about anything embodied by the slimy Hal  (Alec Baldwin), Ginger on a far reduced significant living standard is clearly drawn to the more working class, emotional men from her ex husband Augie played by Andrew Dice Clay and to her new more passionate boyfriend a car mechanic named Chili in a superb performance by Bobby Cannavale (from Boardwalk Empire fame).

Jasmine that has lost everything financially while still retaining her designer wardrobe and always attempts to look glamorous as she clearly delusional realizes that her life has irrevocably changed forever. Soon she is forced to take a job as a receptionist in a dentist surgery in San Francisco with an amorous dentist played by Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) while attempting to improve her computer literacy skills. Her down to earth impoverished sister Ginger carries an affair with Chili as she works in a suburban grocery store.

Director Woody Allen shows a very incisive portrayal of two women, one constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown while the other is happy to pursue an elusive yet sustainable dream of survival and happiness. Blue Jasmine clearly belongs to Cate Blanchett as she is almost in every scene of the film and this is a new collaboration between Allen and Blanchett which has proved to be quite masterful, a legendary film director who has rediscovered a more sophisticated and brilliant muse who tackles the flawed but vulnerable Jasmine.

vicky_cristina_barcelonaAfter the recent success of Woody Allen’s European films, mainly Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris and Matchpoint, the famous and hugely talented director turns back to his first love Manhattan, but viewed through an angle of San Francisco, an oblique and poignant point of view that is almost showing signs of a farewell. What makes Blue Jasmine so masterful is Blanchett’s wonderfully poignant portrayal of the unravelling of a socialite, a performance that is Oscar worthy to say the least, not to mention absolutely riveting. Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen at his best directing one of the most talented actresses of the 21st century, Cate Blanchett, who I was fortunate to see years ago in a London West End production of David Hare’s play Plenty.

A highly recommended film, Blue Jasmine is sure to garner both Blanchett and Hawkins much praise and attention at the imminent 2014 awards season.

Eccentric Lesson in Etiquette

Great Expectations

great_expectations

Director: Mike Newell

Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Holliday Grainger, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Flemyng, Ralph Fiennes, Sally Hawkins

Charles Dickens published Great Expectations in 1860 just ten years before his death in 1870 at the height of his literary fame. Naturally over the past half century there has been several film versions of this classic realist novel, but Four Weddings and a Funeral director Mike Newell has captured the essence of Dickens in the new film version of Great Expectations starring Oscar nominated British actors Helen Bonham Carter (Les Miserables, Wings of a Dove) and Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, The Duchess) as Miss Havisham and Abel Magwitch respectively.

Newell’s triumph in this version of Great Expectations is capturing the essential British aspect of the story about Pip, a poor orphan who is rescued from the fate of becoming a rural blacksmith and elevated into London’s fashionable high society by a mysterious benefactor whose fate he is inextricably entwined with right from the beginning.

The other great triumph of this version of Great Expectations is the superb casting of energetic young and gorgeous actor Jeremy Irvine as the twenty-something Pip who has to negotiate rite of passage in London’s high society inevitably through his men’s club the Finches with the help of his tutor the practical solicitor Mr Jaggers beautifully played by Robbie Coltrane.

Pip through the eccentric Miss Havisham, eternally bedecked in a spidery wedding gown, wonderfully played by Helena Bonham Carter is first introduced to her ward Estella, who soon grows up into a magnificent young woman, wonderfully played by Holliday Grainger and over the course of the two hour film, Pip and Estella’s lives interlink through past connections and present repercussions.

great_expectations 1998

Besides Alphonso Cuaron’s 1998 version of Great Expectations modernized and set in Florida and New York starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow, the previous version of this novel was filmed by the great director David Lean back in 1946. With the current trend for traditionalist entertainment especially in light of the success of British TV series Downton Abbey, director Mike Newell’s significant decision to leave Great Expectations in its rightful Victorian setting is an important and ultimately shrewd choice. From the gorgeous sets to the fantastic male costumes of the young Victorian dandies, enough to inspire a flamboyant range of Vivienne Westwood menswear collection, this version of Great Expectations will make all period purists rejoice at its elegance and simplicity.

great_expectations 1946

Naturally in line with similar Dickens novels Great Expectations is populated with an eccentric and unique range of delightful Victorian characters one of the reasons which have made his novels so evocative and enduring. Pip is surrounded by his simple country Uncle Joe Gargery played by Jason Flemyng and Mrs Joe played by Sally Hawkins and in London is guided by Mr Jaggers’s generous assistant Wemmick played by Ewen Bremner of Trainspotting fame. The alpha male in the young gentleman’s club, the Finches of Avery Square and Pip’s nemesis is the ruthless Bentley Drummle played by Ben Lloyd-Hughes.

Great Expectations like any rags to riches story, similar to Vanity Fair and My Fair Lady places its narrative arc firmly in the tough lessons of Life and Etiquette and is essentially a wonderful coming of age story of a young person who is mysteriously placed in opulent circumstances only to discover the sinister motives behind such an unexpected social elevation. The costumes are superb, the acting brilliant, helped especially by Fiennes and Bonham Carter and made more palatable by the enthusiasm of screen newcomer Jeremy Irvine who embodies everything the hapless handsome hero should be: innocent, impressionable and ultimately fated to discover his true origins.

The only criticism of Great Expectations is that the first part of the film is severely dark and also the editing and cinematography could be better, whilst the narrative and rich characterization makes this version of the English literary classic worth watching on the big screen, hopefully reintroducing 21st century film audiences to the wonder of Dickens as its never seen before.

2008 Berlin Film Festival

2008 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

BIFF 2008

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

Elite Squad

Golden Bear (Best Film) – Elite Squad directed by Jose Padilha

there_will_be_blood_ver2

Silver Bear (Best Director) – Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood

The_Song_of_Sparrows,_2008_film

Best Actor – Reza NajiThe Song of Sparrows (Avaze gonjeshk-ha)

happy_go_lucky

Best Actress – Sally Hawkins – Happy Go Lucky

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
February 2018
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728  
  • Berlin: Kim Ki-duk Beats Back #MeToo Accusers, Talks Violence in Movies
    For the often controversial Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk, his first press event in Berlin since a court ruling on the assault of an actress was a case of mission accomplished. Kim was in Berlin to present his Panorama-selected film “Human, Space, Time and Human.” But he became a target of the #MeToo anti-sexual violence cause […]
    Patrick Frater
  • Berlin Film Review: ‘Dovlatov’
    The struggles of dissident writers in the Soviet Union will likely always remain a key theme of Russian cinema, ripe for ruminating on unappreciated artists in society and the fight for recognition notwithstanding power concentrated in the hands of apparatchiks. Maverick director Alexey German Jr. brings his signature dreamlike vision to the subject with “Dovlatov,” […]
    jayweissberg
  • Berlin: Fox’s ‘Lino 3D’ Closes Italy with Sony, France (EXCLUSIVE)
    FilmSharks Intl. has closed Italy with Sony and France with ProgramStore, among new major territories, on Rafael Ribas’ animated feature “Lino 3D,” a comedy-adventure produced by Brazil’s Start Anima and Fox Intl. Prods. The licensing pacts add to announced deals for Russia/CIS (Big Film) and South Korea (Hammer Pictures). Greece (Tanweer), Turkey (Sinema) and Vietnam […]
    John Hopewell
  • Europe Doubles Down on Remakes (EXCLUSIVE)
    Europe is revving up its remake business. As in the U.S., where Lionsgate launched local production-distribution outfit Globalgate in 2016, the companies leading the remake effort in Europe are among those producing the continent’s most commercially aggressive international titles: Dimitri Rassam’s Chapter 2, Germany’s Constantin, Italy’s Medusa and Spain’s Telecinco Cinema. Paris-based Rassam is a […]
    John Hopewell
  • Haley Bennett, Matthias Schweighoefer in Talks to Join ‘Resistance,’ Starring Jesse Eisenberg
    Haley Bennett, who gained acclaim for “The Girl on the Train” and “The Magnificent Seven,” and German star Matthias Schweighoefer are in talks to take key lead roles in writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s “Resistance,” alongside Jesse Eisenberg. The movie follows the life of mime artist Marcel Marceau (played by Eisenberg) and his involvement in the French […]
    Leo Barraclough