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A Crushing Responsibility

The Lost Daughter

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Jack Farthing, Dagmara Dominiczyk

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 1 minute

Taking its inspiration right out of the equally sinister 1990 film The Comfort of Strangers, directed by Paul Schrader, actress turned director Maggie Gyllenhaal directs an entirely unsettling film The Lost Daughter all set on a remote island in Greece, populated by some fascinating characters including some menacing beach goers.

Directors seldom make purely psychological thrillers nowadays which were extremely fashionable in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is with a stroke of luck that Maggie Gyllenhaal managed to cast the granddaughter of Tippi Hendren, the star of such classic Alfred Hitchcock films such as The Birds and Marnie, Dakota Johnson (The Social Network, Bad Times at the El Royale) alongside Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) in The Lost Daughter.

This film is mostly shot in extreme close up, which gives audiences an unsettling intimacy with the characters involved all of whom are slightly off kilter particularly Leda, another stunning performance by Olivia Colman, who plays a lonesome middle age comparative literature professor who travels to Greece to take a break from her daughters back home.

On the exotic and hot Greek island, she has a sinister encounter with the highly strung Nina, a devilishly beautiful performance by Dakota Johnson and Nina’s extended family which are vaguely hinted to be part of some nefarious crime organization.

Leda is an emotionally damaged woman contemplating her own role as a mother, as she often reflects back to her younger self, which are featured in a series of raunchy flashbacks featuring an absolutely superb Jessie Buckley (Doolittle, Misbehaviour) who deserves an Oscar nomination for her role as the younger Leda as she is navigating motherhood and her fractious relationship with her average male partner Joe, played by Jack Farthing. For the younger Leda desires more and yearns for another existence than just being a mother to two very demanding young daughters.

The younger Leda embarks on a passionate affair with a fellow professor, a wonderfully erudite Professor Hardy played by Peter Sarsgaard (An Education, Jackie, Black Mass, Kinsey).

As The Lost Daughter weaves it’s complex narrative between the past and the present, the older Leda must confront her weird emotional impulses and her strange flirtations with the men on the island, particularly Lyle played by Oscar nominee Ed Harris (The Hours, Pollack, The Truman Show, Apollo 13) and the younger beach boy Toni played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Based on the novel by the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter is a brooding mix of menace and desire, a psychologically twisted tale of crushing responsibilities, abandonment and reconnection, held together by two exceptionally good performances by Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley.

Psychological thrillers generally do not have mass appeal, but director Maggie Gyllenhaal does a skilful job of dissecting a complicated issue around maternity and natural responsibility while casually mixes it up with forbidden sexual desire and pervasive fear.

The Lost Daughter gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is remarkable for its haunting unique quality as a cinematic gem.

79th Golden Globe Awards

Took Place on Sunday 9th January 2022 in Los Angeles and held virtually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – Here are the 2022 Golden Globe Winners in the Film Categories:

Best Film Drama: The Power of the Dog

Best Film, M/C: West Side Story

Best Director: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Best Actor Drama: Will Smith – King Richard

No publicity material or film poster available for Being the Ricardo’s

Best Actress Drama: Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardo’s

Best Actor, M/C: Andrew Garfield – Tick, Tick, Boom!

Best Actress, M/C: Rachel Zegler – West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor: Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose – West Side Story

Best Foreign Language Film: Drive my Car directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan)

Killers in Stiletto’s

The 355

Director: Simon Kinberg

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Sebastian Stan, Edgar Ramirez, Bingbing Fan, Jason Flemying, Leo Staar, John Douglas Thompson, Sylvester Groth

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 4 minutes

If viewers don’t take this film too seriously, then they will find it extremely entertaining. The 355 is a great Sunday afternoon film to watch, with lots of action, big name international stars and enough shady villains to make a group of female spy operatives’ band together to search for a mysterious secret weapon stolen in Bogota, Colombia, which lands up going around the globe from Paris to Shanghai.

Producer turned director Simon Kinberg assembles a truly international cast of beautiful women including Oscar winners Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Graciela Rivera and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) as British operative Khadijah Adiyeme along with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help) as American operative Mace and German actress Diane Kruger (The Infiltrator, Inglourious Basterds) as Marie Schmidt.

Their search takes them to an exotic auction in Shanghai whereby audiences are introduced to the fifth member of the fabulous team, Chinese operative Lin Mi Sheng played by famous Chinese star Bingbing Fan.

The action is terrific and the film’s second half improves remarkably as the five women bond over kicking ass, eluding the bad guys of which there are many and basically sticking together so that the real villain Elijah Clarke played by British actor Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) cannot get this highly dangerous digital device and sell it to the highest bidder.

All the men in the film are portrayed extremely one dimensionally, either as frustrated house husbands whether in Bogota or London or as nasty villains as portrayed by Flemying and Romanian American actor Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya, Logan Lucky) as the murky CIA operative Nick Fowler who delivers a handsome performance dripping with swagger and menace.

Audiences should look out for a brief appearance by Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (Jungle Cruise, Point Break, The Girl on the Train) as Luis Rojas whose only scene with the phenomenal Penelope Cruz could have been more seductive.

The scriptwriters for The 355 did not provide sufficient back story for all these gorgeous ladies, except focused on the action scenes and a plot which is confusing and preposterous. 

The 355 is a fun-filled female action film about spies that can look deadly glamorous and survive in a man’s world in which they prove who is really in charge.

Considering all the talent involved, The 355 gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is enjoyable but could have been so much better.

Fortune Favours the Bold

The King’s Man

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Daniel Bruhl, August Diehl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Tom Hollander, Alison Steadman, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Topping the two previous Kingsman films, this highly anticipated prequel simply titled The King’s Man follows the adventures of Orlando Oxford, or the Duke of Oxford wonderfully played with a nuanced panache by Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The English Patient) as we track his valiant attempt to protect his son Conrad Oxford from harm.

The King’s Man fortunately is steeped in historical references and is set between 1902 and 1918. Director Matthew Vaughn places the story between the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa whereby the British were brutally confining Afrikaners in concentration camps to the outbreak of the 1st World War in Europe which was sparked off by the untimely assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.

Orlando Oxford is ably assisted by Shola played by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America) and Polly played by Gemma Arterton (The Quantum of Solace).

As World War I breaks out, the Duke’s son Conrad played by Harris Dickinson who was brilliant as the kidnapped J. Paul Getty III in Danny Boyle’s excellent TV series Trust, is desperate to fight in the front line. The Duke of Oxford in the meantime is trying to find a way of ending World War One, this atrociously bloody conflict as started by 3 first Cousins, all grandchildren of Queen Victoria: King George of Great Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia all of whom are dexterously played by Tom Hollander (Gosford Park, Pride and Prejudice).

In a particularly bizarre scene at a Russian ball, The Duke of Oxford and his son battle the outrageous Grigori Rasputin expertly played with sinister flamboyance by Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Anonymous).

As the action shifts around the world and director Matthew Vaughn efficiently cuts through all the historical cobwebs to reignite the story of The King’s Man with some stylishly entertaining action scenes, it is Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Oxford who becomes the action hero in a role which he clearly delighted in playing.

Audiences should look out for some great cameo roles, particularly veteran British actor Charles Dance (The Imitation Game, White Mischief) as Kitchener, Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited, A Single Man) as Morton and German actor Daniel Bruhl (Rush, Inglorious Basterds) as the shady Erik Jan Hanussen a malignant advisor to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.

Historically, The King’s Man is an intriguing action film, thoroughly entertaining and as a prequel it is sophisticated without taking itself too seriously.

If audiences enjoy a dazzling swashbuckler then The King’s Man which gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is far better than the other two Kings Men films Kingsman: The Secret Service and the outlandish Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

This time director Matthew Vaughn does this franchise justice and reiterates the motto that Manners Maketh Man.

Extinction Event Deluxe

Don’t Look Up

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Melanie Lynskey, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel

Film Rating 5.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes

This film is only available to watch on the Netflix streaming service.

Similar to the absolutely disastrous 2019 film Cats in which The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper assembled an A list cast with high expectations, only for the film version of the musical Cats to absolutely flop at the box office and be completely ridiculed, director Adam McKay’s 2021 film Don’t Look Up is as big a disaster as the comet which threatens to obliterate earth and kill everyone including the vacuous media personalities, the egotistical politicians and the general American population encapsulated by a stoner performance by Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) as Jude.

Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice) unfortunately fail to lift this disastrous black comedy. Don’t Look Up just proves the theory that Netflix can attract A List stars to act in dreadful films. Next time all their agents should be shot at dawn.

Thankfully I never watched this film in a cinema.

With the exception of director Jane Campion’s excellent The Power of the Dog, Netflix films do not have that much to offer. Let’s face it the streaming service is facing a content crisis, now that everyone is back in cinemas watching Spiderman, Dune and No Time to Die.

Back to Don’t Look Up, while aspects of the script were rather funny, it really just shows how vacuous and gullible the American public are, believing everything they see in the media and on Television. That’s according to Adam McKay’s script and not my personal opinion.

Unlike Adam McKay’s brilliant take on the 2008 financial crisis in the critically acclaimed The Big Short and his even better take on politics in 2018’s Vice, Don’t Look Up falls way short of these two superior films. Even the satire and black comedy is not written with intelligence or an ounce of wit.

Don’t Look Up appears to be a spiralling pastiche of an impending extinction event in which everyone from the crazy politicians embodied by Meryl Streep’s American President Orlean and her ambitious son and chief of staff Jason wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Jonah Hill (Moneyball, The Wolf of Wall Street) to the incredibly vacuous cougar and TV presenter Brie Evantree in the Daily Rip brilliantly played by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, all of whom seem blissfully unaware of a large meteor heading towards earth and wiping out humanity.

While Leonardo DiCaprio seems to just replicate his anxiety ridden performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to a much lesser degree in Don’t Look Up and Jennifer Lawrence looks slightly confused at being in the presence of such big name stars in a film which is essentially going to be watched on an Iphone, unfortunately this deluxe extinct level event fizzles out despite the ensemble cast. Don’t Look Up is everything that genuine cinema shouldn’t be.

Don’t Look Up gets a film rating of 5.5 out of 10 and thankfully one doesn’t need to purchase a cinema ticket to watch this disaster. You can just pause the film and look away.

Choice is an Illusion

The Matrix: Resurrections

Director: Lana Wachowski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Christina Ricci, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jessica Henwick, Chad Stahelski, Lambert Wilson

Film Rating 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 28 minutes

Firstly what audiences have to realize is that director Lana Wachowski transgendered from being a man to a woman and in the original Matrix film made in 1999, her directorial credit was as Larry Wachowski. Secondly the original film won four Oscars back in the year 2000 mainly for visual effects and sound editing.

So after nearly twenty years, Neo and Trinity are back in or out of The Matrix depending on which pill you took. For Choice is an Illusion.

Superstar Keanu Reeves has had a hugely successful career ever since he first caught my eye on screen playing the young lover to La Marquise de Merteuil expertly played by Glenn Close in director Stephen Frears Oscar winning costume drama Dangerous Liaisons back in 1989.

The release of the original The Matrix film back in 1999 was utterly ground breaking, but this new reboot with The Matrix: Resurrections is equally flamboyant, visually challenging and downright entertaining.

Smith played in the original trilogy by Priscilla, Queen of the Desert star Hugo Weaving is now played by Jonathan Groff who looks like a Tom Ford model, handsome, sleek and drop dead gorgeous.

In an alternative reality we find Thomas Anderson working as a computer programmer in San Francisco where he accidentally meets Tiffany aka Trinity in a Silicon Valley coffee shop.

Through a thoroughly reflexive narrative, Thomas Anderson aka Neo gets sucked into the Matrix by Bugs with the Blue hair played by Jessica Henwick. Down the rabbit hole he goes and he reconnects with an updated version of Morpheus brilliantly played quite flamboyantly by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, The Trial of the Chicago 7).

Neo soon discovers that Trinity is back in the Matrix and that his shrink The Analyst is actually a villain wonderfully played by Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl, A Million Ways to Die in the West).

Through impressive visualizations and awe inspiring production design, Neo is guided by Sati played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (The White Tiger) while meeting some digital exiles including The Merovingian played by Lambert Wilson (The Belly of an Architect, Catwoman, 5-7).

The Matrix Resurrections can only be enjoyed if audiences have brushed up on the original films particularly The Matrix made in 1999. From a semiotic point of view, The Matrix Resurrections is rich in film symbolism and digital versions of alternative realities from a sleek San Francisco skyline to a pandemic era ride on a bullet train in Tokyo. Director Lana Wachowski makes full use of her semiotic skills which is her uncanny ability to manipulate images to tell a story using film language.

Extremely entertaining, The Matrix Resurrections gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is definitely made for the fans of the original trilogy but most significantly Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back as the digitally fated coupled and they are both kicking ass.

The highly anticipated The Matrix Resurrections is highly recommended viewing strictly for sci-fi fans only. And there will definitely be a sequel…

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Spiderman: No Way Home

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Benedict Wong, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Charlie Cox, J. K. Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Angourie Rice, Rhys Ifans, Thomas Haden Church, Tom Hardy, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori

Film rating: 7.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 28 minutes

Director Jon Watts went all out in the third Spiderman film to feature Tom Holland in Spiderman: No Way Home, capitalizing on both the success of all the previous Spiderman films and expertly capitalizing on Sony’s new deal with Marvel Studios to incorporate Spiderman into The Avengers as part of a multi-million dollar trademark agreement between Sony and Disney Studios.

The sprightly Tom Holland reprises his role as Spiderman, but now he has completed school and him and his friends are applying to go to MIT which is the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

Before Peter Parker aka Spiderman can enter college, he has to deal with the immense media fallout of his alter ego being blown wide open by the previous villain Mysterio played by Jake Gyllenhaal in 2019’s Spiderman: Far From Home.

With pure imagination and skill, director Jon Watts makes Spiderman: No Way Home a far darker comic book adventure as Peter Parker has to contend with some uninvited guests from his previously unknown past, courtesy of a spell which he requested the pompous wizard Doctor Strange to cast on everyone forgetting that Peter Parker is in fact Spiderman. The spell obviously goes terribly wrong….

Much to his horror, some past evil villains emerge to take revenge again on Spiderman including Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) as Electro; Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Shadow of a Vampire, The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate) as the Green Goblin and Alfred Molina as Doc Octopus.

Spidey has to contend with these new villains as well as pressure from an increasingly gruff Doctor Strange played again by Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) who continually treats the young Peter Parker like an irresponsible college kid, which he essentially is.

Without giving any spoilers away, Spiderman: No Way Home is a fun filled Super hero film which will be sure to satisfy all the fans of the previous films. Audiences must stay beyond the closing credits to catch a glimpse of another Marvel monster who is desperate to meet the wayward web slinger.

Tom Holland does a wonderful job as Spiderman and even looks quite buff in the role compared to the first to films, but it is really director Jon Watts that makes the entire 2 and a half hour spectacle visually impressive channelling all that influence which acclaimed British director Christopher Nolan had on him. Clearly, Inception played a big part in Jon Watt’s directorial maturity.

Spiderman: No Way Home gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is immensely enjoyable family viewing.

Judging by how full the cinema was, this film is the theatrical blockbuster that 2021 so desperately needs. Watch it in cinemas now.

Gangs Without Territory

West Side Story

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, Corey Stoll, Rita Moreno, David Alvarez, Ariana Debose, Brian d’Arcy James, Mike Faist

Film Rating 9.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 36 minutes

Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg’s cinematic adaptation of West Side Story is truly phenomenal.

A vibrant, beautifully filmed remake of the 1961 film which won 10 Oscars back then and is going to sweep the board at Oscar season in 2022. With a beautiful script by Tony Kushner, the multi award winning playwright who penned the 1990 AIDS drama Angels in America, West Side Story tells the story of two rival teenage street gangs in New York City in 1957, as their neighbourhoods are going to be torn down, to make way for the building of the now impressive Lincoln Theatre on the edge of Manhattan and Harlem.

More significantly West Side Story is a contemporary adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with all the themes of forbidden love, the individual versus society and the inevitability of fate, violence and sexual desire. Impressively, director Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is beautifully shot, with vibrant colour saturation, authentic production design and choreography and dance numbers that will dazzle the audiences and then pull them into the fate of the two star crossed lovers: Tony superbly played by Ansel Elgort (The Goldfinch, Baby Driver, The Fault in Our Stars) and Broadway star turned film actress Rachel Zegler who plays the beautiful Puerto Rican girl Maria.

In a genius stroke of casting, Rita Moreno who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the 1961 version of West Side Story is cast as Tony’s Puerto Rican boss Valentina, who also steals the show.

West Side Story sensitively addresses the contemporary issues facing most industrialized cities today: gentrification, turf warfare, gang violence, xenophobia and systemic racism with a flamboyance and a style which is both insightful and entertaining.

As Tony and Maria meet at a dance off in a beautiful colour saturated scene highly representative of the opulent Capulet Ball scene in director Baz Luhrmann’s 1997 William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, their fate is sealed forever, as Tony, a Polish ex-con falls helplessly in love with the gorgeous Maria a young Puerto Rican teenager who makes a living cleaning plush department stores by night .

From the beautiful balcony scene, with washing flying in the moonlit night, Tony climbs up to Maria’s apartment and professes undying love for her despite their opposing cultural backgrounds and that they both come from rival gangs which are fighting over a territory which will soon be demolished.

Representative of Tybalt, Maria’s hot headed brother Bernardo is played with all the machismo and bravado of a young gang leader by David Alvarez. Mercutio is represented on the other end by Riff played by another Broadway star Mike Faist, a dynamic fast talking hothead and best friend of Tony who refuses to back down against the threat of violence.

Ariana DeBose (The Prom, Hamilton) also shines in a riveting performance as Bernando’s girlfriend Anita and mentor to Maria and deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

As a film, West Side Story is truly remarkable, from the beautifully choreographed dance numbers to the stunning costumes, to the authenticity of recreating New York City in 1957, as this magical city was transforming into a new modern metropolis of the 1960’s. The film is shot with luminescent cinematography by Polish director of photography Janusz Kaminski who won Oscars for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.

Once again Oscar winning director of Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg directs a flawless film, from the way that the dance numbers are set up, to the editing and production design as he effortlessly recaptures all the vibrancy and violence of a forbidden love torn apart by rival gangs, gentrification and systemic racism.

West Side Story gets a film rating of 9.5 out of 10 and is real cinematic gem, a truly brilliant film with a superb script by Tony Kushner and a cast that is as authentic as they are talented.

This 21st century retelling of a classic musical is highly recommended viewing and remains as relevant today as it did back in 1961.

The Vatican of Fashion

House of Gucci

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek, Camille Cottin, Reeve Carney

Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 38 minutes

Oscar winner Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) takes on the role of Patrizia Raggiani, an ambitious young woman who catches and marries the heir to the Gucci Fashion empire Maurizio Gucci expertly played with a suitable amount of noble panache by Oscar nominee Adam Driver (Marriage Story, BlackKKlansman) in the unashamedly decadent new film by director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, American Gangster, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise) simply called House of Gucci.

Despite the length of this film, it’s the brilliant casting of fellow Oscar winners Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Maurizio’s aging but elegant Tuscan father Roldolfo Gucci, Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) as Maurizio’s flamboyant uncle Aldo and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) as the crazy cousin Paolo Gucci that makes House of Gucci so utterly enthralling and entertaining.

A wonderful tale of a family dynasty that crumbles from the inside out, of a fashion empire, once sacred that gets corrupted by greed, deceit and commercialization that to such a point, the once heralded name of Gucci turns to the young and emerging Texan fashion designer Tom Ford to revolutionize their look for the late 1990’s.

At the heart of all the backstabbing, the pure malevolence and the unadulterated affluence, is two brilliant performances by Lady Gaga and Adam Driver that hold this crazy family tale together. These two actors are the emotional core of a film which at times comes across as a soap opera, quite literally and at other times like the collapse of a deliciously evil empire that let in a scheming intruder.

Audiences should look out for some excellent supporting performances by Anjelica Huston’s nephew Jack Huston as the hard-nosed business advisor to the Gucci family Domenico de Sole and Oscar nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) as the outrageous fortune teller and clairvoyant Pina Aurienna, who influences Patrizia to go to extreme lengths to take revenge on her wayward husband Maurizio.

Similar in vein to Ridley Scott’s other film about an outrageously wealthy family the Getty’s in the Oscar nominated All The Money in the World, House of Gucci is bizarre, flamboyant and entertaining as this Italian family drama of deception, betrayal and legacy extends from Milan to Switzerland to the fashionable sidewalks of New York’s Fifth Avenue.

There are some tremendously funny lines in this film and Lady Gaga and Adam Driver deserve Oscar nominations for their roles as the infamous couple Patrizia Raggiani and Maurizio Gucci, whose fame is cemented in the fashion history books, drenched in recriminations and blood.

House of Gucci is a fascinating portrait of a family collapsing from the inside, of a notorious couple whose love sours into revenge and of a distinguished fashion house which had to evolve from an Italian family business into a multinational corporation as it reached the 21st century in order to remain appealing to the immensely wealthy American and Japanese markets.

For its flaws and crazy foibles, House of Gucci gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 but audiences should see it for the electrifying performances of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver.

The duo are both Gucci guilty and gorgeous.

The Suicide Widow and her Son

The Power of the Dog

Director: Jane Campion

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy, Alistair Sewell, George Mason, Thomasin McKenzie, Alice Englert

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 6 minutes

This film is only available to watch on the Netflix streaming service

After a hiatus from filmmaking for over a decade, acclaimed New Zealand film maker and director Jane Campion returns with a tightly wrought Western style family drama The Power of the Dog which recently had its glamourous world premiere at the 2021 Venice International Film Festival.

Set in Montana in 1925, The Power of the Dog is a superbly directed cinematic adaptation of a novel by Thomas Savage about Rose Gordon and her son Peter Gordon played respectfully by Kirsten Dunst (Interview with a Vampire, Marie Antoinette, The Beguiled) who gives an Oscar worthy performance and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Romeo and Juliet, The Road) who deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2022 Academy Awards.

Smit-McPhee’s performance is truly phenomenal matched only by the film’s other brilliant performance given by Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as the hyper-masculine and brutish Phil Burbank, a charismatic Montana rancher. British star Benedict Cumberbatch also deserves another Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his performance in The Power of the Dog.

When Phil’s younger brother George Burbank, played by Kirsten Dunst’s real life husband Jesse Plemons marries the fragile Rose Gordon, he attempts to introduce Rose and her son Peter into the life of the wealthy Burbank family, Montana ranchers complete with land, arrogance and an absolute disdain for the native Americans.

Rose has to contend with sharing the sprawling mansion in Montana with her vile and threatening brother-in-law Phil Burbank, who feels nothing at gelding cattle barehanded or swimming naked in a local river covered in mud. Phil is ruthless, nasty and filled with pent-up-rage. Cumberbatch’s performance is absolute startling as he plays against type and every scene with him and Kirsten Dunst crackles with tension and that underlying threat of violence.

Into this electrifying atmosphere, quietly appears Rose’s son Peter Gordon who is studying to be a surgeon, a shy and awkward young man with a sinister habit of vivisection and harbouring a covert sexual desire.

Peter Gordon is mocked openly by Phil Burbank and his gang of macho ranchers for being a nancy boy or a faggot. He wears strange shoes and displays no interest in anything physical especially tennis.

When Phil Burbank and Peter Gordon strike up an unlikely bond, Rose cannot cope with her fragile son being bullied by her brutish brother-in-law and takes to the bottle.

Despite the fact that The Power of the Dog should have been shown at cinemas and is only available on Netflix, one cannot help but imagine watching director Jane Campion’s film on a big screen for as a masterful director she paints beautiful and complex cinematic strokes, touching on such issues as sexuality, addiction, power dynamics and more significantly the devious mind of the male psyche.

Every shot of The Power of the Dog is beautifully crafted and the entire narrative which is psychological in nature is expertly acted by Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

The Power of the Dog is not going to appeal to everyone, but that wasn’t director Jane Campion’s intentions. Her Oscar winning film The Piano didn’t either.

If viewers loved The Piano then they will enjoy The Power of the Dog, a masterful tale of sinister family dynamics, of voyeurism and forbidden sexual desire, of lust and carnage with an ending that is both disturbing and brilliant.

Film Directors & Festivals
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  • WTFilms Launches ‘Apache: Gang of Paris’ at Unifrance Rendez-Vous
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  • Gaspar Noe on ‘Vortex’ and the Changing World of Cinema
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  • Jordan Cashmyer, ’16 and Pregnant’ Alum, Dies at 26
    Jordan Cashmyer, a woman who was featured on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” in 2014, died in Maryland on Sunday. She was 26 years old. News of Cashmyer’s death was shared by her mother, Jessica Cashmyer, through a post written on the Facebook account of the late Dennis M. Cashmyer Jr., her husband and Jordan’s father. […]
    J. Kim Murphy
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    Filmmaker and environmental activist Cyril Dion is planning a follow-up documentary to his Cannes-selected documentary “Animal” as well as his first fiction feature film, adapted from Pierre Ducrozet’s eco-themed novel, “Le Grand Vertige.” Dion first rose to international prominence with his 2015 environmental documentary “Tomorrow,” in which he and co-director Mélanie Laurent highlighted important initiatives […]
    Leo Barraclough
  • Olivier Dahan on Simone Veil Biopic ‘Simone, A Woman of the Century’
    Olivier Dahan’s “Simone, A Woman of the Century” completes the trilogy he began with the Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en Rose,” starring Marion Cotillard, and “Grace of Monaco,” starring Nicole Kidman. Dahan spoke with Variety during the Unifrance Rendezvous in Paris, where the film had its market premiere. “Simone,” starring Elsa Zylberstein (“Un plus […]
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    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90