Posts Tagged ‘Shia LaBeouf’

61st BAFTA Awards

THE  61st BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 10th February 2008 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film: Atonement

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Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men

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Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – There will be Blood

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Best Actress: Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men

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Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

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Rising Star Award: Shia LaBeouf

Best British Film: This is England directed by Shane Meadows

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Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody – Juno

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Ronald Harwood – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Costume Design: La Vie en Rose

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Best Foreign Language Film: The Lives of Others (Germany) directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Source: 61st BAFTA Awards

 

The Brutal Education of Norman

FURY

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Director: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerma, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Scott Eastwood, Jason Isaacs, Anamaria Marinca, Alicia von Rittberg

End of Watch director David Ayer tackles the war genre in the brutal drama simply entitled Fury assembling a stellar cast of great young actors including Shia LaBeouf last seen in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena (End of Watch, American Hustle) and Jon Bernthal and headed by the illustrious Brad Pitt (Legends of the Fall, Twelve Monkeys, Moneyball, The Counselor).

In a role similar to that played in Inglourious Basterds, Pitt plays Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a hardened soldier and Nazi killer who is heading up a tank squadron and who has seen his fair share of bloody battles. The tank in question is called Fury and as the Allies advanced into Germany during April 1945, these American tanks were combating the far superior designed German Panzers. As the brutal end of World War Two winds down, Hitler has ordered every last man, woman and child to defend their country against the advancing Allies.

Against this gritty theatre of war, the veteran Collier inherits a young and naive gunner named Norman Ellison superbly played by Logan Lerman who to his dismay went from being a typist in the US Army to manning a machine gun in an armoured tank. Its Collier’s job to toughen Norman up, even forcing him to shoot an unarmed German soldier as he brandishes pictures of his family to the American troops and desperately pleads for his life.

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As the five man team who drive Fury further into the German countryside, the situation gradually deteriorates as they first enter a German town obliterated by shelling casually coming across a suicide party of Nazi officers along with a scattering of scared German villagers and then near a farmhouse in the muddy countryside where they encounter an enemy infantry division marching towards them.

This is grim viewing with lots of bloodshed, superbly choreographed action sequences and unrelenting violence, cinematically brought to life with razor sharp sound effects, giving the viewer the sense of being involved in these gruesome final battles.

As opposed to George Clooney’s Monuments Men, David Ayer’s Fury deglamourizes war to its basic instinctual premise of kill or be killed and with excellent sound editing and effects, the film stands as a perfect counterpoint to The Imitation Game which elegantly showed war as a complex game of ingenuity and skill, clouded with espionage and intrigue.

Fury goes straight to the bloody and dirty heart of war and in its tag line aptly states that no war ends quietly. This is man fighting man with all the brutal savagery one has for each other’s enemies, as the victors march through the lands of the defeated.

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Fury is well acted especially by Logan Lerman (Noah) in one of his more substantial roles and definitely alludes to a talent waiting to be nurtured. The rest of the four man team adds a brave complement to Norman’s emotional and physical journey as a very young soldier who realizes he has to go to any lengths to stay alive. Fury will definitely appeal to war film enthusiasts and those viewers that enjoyed Saving Private Ryan, Lone Survivor and even the more stylized Quentin Tarantino war film Inglourious Basterds.

American director David Ayer has excelled with Fury which is highly recommended viewing aimed at a mature masculine audience that can appreciate the art of combat and the innate savagery of war itself. Fury is not for the squeamish and certainly not for those expecting a light hearted war romp like The Monuments Men.

 

 

Love = Lust + Jealousy

Nymphomaniac Vol: 1 and 2

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Director: Lars von Trier

Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgard, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, Connie Nielsen, Jamie Bell, Stacy Martin, Udo Kier

Unlike 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen’s handsome New York set film about sex addiction, the highly acclaimed Shame, starring a gorgeous yet libidinous Michael Fassbender, Danish director and auteur, Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 and 2 is on an entirely different level.

Explicit, provocative, brutal and shocking, this is von Trier’s seminal work on Freudian psycho-analytic film theory, the nature of sexuality and of society’s views on sexual deviancy and obsession. Warning these two films, making up a total of four hours viewing time is NOT for sensitive or prudish cinema goers.

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Von Trier’s favourite muse Charlotte Gainsbourg (Anti-Christ) stars as Joe, a relentless nymphomaniac who is discovered beaten in a dark city alley way by a seemingly kind mysterious bachelor Seligman played by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting, Girl with The Dragon Tattoo). As Joe recovers with copious cups of tea in Seligman’s drab apartment she frankly recounts in episodic form her life thus far as a nymphomaniac and the events leading up to her supposed downfall.

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The younger version of Joe is played by Stacy Martin who as a young licentious teenager seduces all the men on the train in a bet with her friend B, played by Sophie Kennedy Clark. The sex scenes are graphic and unrelenting. Her insatiable sexual appetite is temporarily quelled when she meets Jerome wonderfully played by Shia LaBeouf, who has definitely come a long way from his Transformers movies. LaBeouf proves to be superb as the equally lustful Jerome, who apparently sent a sex tape to von Trier as part of his audition for this part in Nymphomaniac. It proves that Shia LaBeouf is willing to take major risks as an actor and more recently as a notorious performance artist.

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Joe as a young girl displays her close relationship with her father played by Christian Slater (True Romance) and her non-existent relationship with her aloof mother played by Connie Nielsen (Gladiator). As Joe’s sexual awakening becomes more ferocious she ventures into some dark territory particularly as she resumes a relationship with Jerome and attempts to settle down and lead a normal existence. All this is shot in grey colours with lots of graphic nudity and sex, with von Trier intentionally deglamourizing sex and sensuality on screen and deliberately punctuating these pornographic images with bizarre directorial screenshots of fly fishing, predators, sunsets and forests.

In between Joe’s sexual adventures all done in flashbacks, is the frank discussion between the mature Joe a scarred Gainsbourg and the supposedly asexual Seligman, who provides some intellectual insights into her sex addiction along with Freudian psychoanalysis and historical anecdotes. As Seligman explains in Volume 2, that all children are born with polymorphic sexual perversions according to Freud which gradually are repressed or discovered  latently as the child becomes an adult and thus manifests itself in later life. This is classic Freudian psychoanalysis. Even Love is equated to Lust+ Jealousy.

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So despite all the subliminal theory and explicit pornography, is Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 and 2 any good? Volume 1 is better than Volume 2, a more superior and controlled film but the entire diatribe about Nymphomania could have been edited into a more concise and elegant film. Then again Von Trier is not one to bow to Western film aesthetics and has never done so. His film 2003 Dogville was shot without sets in a sparse Brechtian style about a close knit community who does not accept outsiders with Nicole Kidman in the lead.

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Nymphomania Volume 1 and 2 is not easy or comfortable viewing, but that its point. Especially Volume 2 where Joe’s sexual addiction takes her into the dangerous world of Sadomasochism, cue a rather sadistic master K played by Jamie Bell of The Eagle and Billy Eliot Fame. There are also brief appearances by Uma Thurman as a wronged wife Mrs H. whose husband has fallen for the nubile, precocious and younger Joe, bravely played by Stacy Martin and Willem Dafoe as Joe’s last employer a shady debt collector.

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What should really be applauded is the bravery that these actors show in starring in such an explicit, unconventional and shocking film including Stacy Martin, Christian Slater, Shia LaBeouf and naturally Charlotte Gainsbourg (Anti-Christ). Audiences might want to walk out in several particularly disturbing scenes, but it’s worth staying until the end of Joe’s confession to Seligman, as all is not what it seems… Those not familiar with Lars von Trier’s previous films should definitely stay away.

Tapping into Imagined Mythologies

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Director Steven Spielberg

Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Ray Winstone

(Review originally published in June 2008)

Almost twenty years on from the last Indiana Jones film, the fourth installment of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas original blockbuster trilogy, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival last month. The latest Indiana Jones marks the beginning of the so-called American Summer Movie Blockbuster season. Naturally many critics and viewers alike were dubious about the 65-year old Harrison Ford reprising his role as the adventurous globetrotting relic hunter and archaeologist. However, fans of the original three enormously successful films all centering on our whip-cracking hero in search of a mythical artifact at odds with a nefariously evil regime in close pursuit, while journeying to exotic locations around the globe, will not be disappointed with this latest installment.

 

Obviously, the creators both Lucas and Spielberg, the men behind such fantastic films as the Star Wars trilogy and War of the Worlds, are confident creators and know their territory well. Combining lots of fast-paced action sequences with some surprisingly consistent characterization and additions of new villains and side-kicks, along with some old-style drama, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a skillful blending of several genres from the cowboy to the science fiction, while tapping into several imagined mythologies from the ancient Inca lost cultures of the Amazon to the urban myth of Hangar 51 and the Roswell incident, involving the American government’s secretive cover-up of an alien space craft that apparently crash landed in the New Mexican desert in 1947.

 

This film is set ten years on and firmly places the period of the action in the late 1950’s a time of the Red Scare, with McCarthyism sweeping America, a daunting decade when Communist infiltration was suspected in every aspect of American life. Into the mythology of the Roswell alien sighting at New Mexico and the lost city of El Dorado, an ancient Amazon city of Gold, which was believed to have existed at the Spanish conquest of South America in the early 1500’s, Spielberg and Lucas add the Stalinist era Soviets as Indiana’s arch enemies, headed by a blue-eyed sword wielding villain Dr Irina Spalko, an energetic performance by the Oscar winning Cate Blanchett (The Aviator).

 

In a rare genius of casting, Karen Allen reprises her role as Marion Ravenwood first seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the hot new Hollywood talent, Shia La Beouf stars as the spunky and wild Mudd, sporting a look reminiscent of the young Marlon Brando from his breakthrough film in The Wild One, kitted out in black leather cap and jacket skillfully riding a Harley Davidson and shattering the tranquility of an American town.

 

Even if you are new to the mythologies of Indiana Jones, this fourth installment is a great piece of entertainment in its own right, with thrilling action sequences, minimal CGI usage and a brilliant storyline tapping into several historical and imagined mythologies, while keeping a sense of humour and retaining a long espoused theory that many of the magnificent architectural wonders of ancient civilizations, from the pyramids of Egypt to the Amazonian Temples are tied into something vastly supernatural and way beyond anything we, as mere mortals, could possibly believe. Whether it’s the quest of infinite knowledge or that promised chalice of immortality, suspend your disbelief and take two hours to see this thrilling, fascinating and much anticipated sequel. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will surely not disappoint and has already proven its worth in international Box office gold.

Violent Tendencies

LAWLESS

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The Road director John Hillcoat’s violent adaptation of the novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondourant is graphic, gritty and riveting. Featuring the bad boys of 21st century cinema, Lawless teams Shia LaBeauf (Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps, Transformers) with Tom Hardy (Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) as the true life Bondourant  bootlegging brothers of Franklin County, Virginia, circa 1920.

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Narrated by the youngest and naturally the most flashiest brother Jack Bondourant played brilliantly by La Beouf, Lawless tells of how the three brothers enter the bloody world of bootlegging during Prohibition America and how their claim to fame besides their protectiveness of each other is their invincibility. Sooner Jack goes into business with the fugitive Chicago Floyd Banner (a great cameo by Oscar Nominee Gary Oldman) and illegally transports whisky and moonshine across county lines. Up against a sadistic and vain deputy sheriff Charlie Rakes played with a subtle brutality by Guy Pierce (L. A. Confidential), what ensues is a violent turf war brought on by the prohibition and all the illegal, criminal activities which develop at an unrelenting pace.

Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), plays Maggie Beauford the storekeeper and eventual love interest for the seemingly invincible Forrest Bondourant  gruffly acted by the ever talented Tom Hardy, whilst the oldest brother Howard, played by Jason Clarke fresh from the horrors of World War 1 is the quiet and slightly sociopathic type. Lawless is a rural gangster film, which moves the action away from the major cities like Chicago,  New York and Atlantic City (as seen in the classic The Untouchables and the brilliant HBO series Boardwalk Empire) and depicts the Virginia trio as a tough, seemingly invincible band of brothers who will go to any lengths to protect their operation and survive during the 1920’s and 30’s.

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Whilst Lawless focuses too much on the violence, and not enough on the characters motivation, it is clear that all three brothers possess vicious tendencies when protecting themselves and each other in their bid for survival. Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) stars as the Quaker’s daughter Bertha Minnix, a potential love interest for Jack and it’s in scenes between Wasikowska and LaBeouf in which the script is the strongest.

Lawless is a bloody slice in more ways than one of Prohibition era American history and is not for sensitive viewers as director Hillcoat goes for more of the brutality and less of the morality in this gripping tale of brutal brothers surviving against all odds, and proving that when it comes to turf wars, blood is always thicker than moonshine.

 

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