Archive for the ‘Yorgos Lanthimos’ Category

Carving with Compassion

Poor Things

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Margaret Qualley, Christopher Abbott, Jerrod Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter

Running Time: 2 hours and 21 minutes

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Please note this film contains explicit sex and nudity

Think Mary Shelley’s cinematic version of Frankenstein with Salvador Dali as the production designer and that is how one should view the gorgeous and gawky masterpiece that is Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos latest Gothic Victorian dark comedy Poor Things starring an absolutely superb Emma Stone in the role of a lifetime as the creation Bella Baxter, a recreated creature with the impulses of a child and the body of a lithe, sexually rapacious young woman.

At the heart of Poor Things is the sexual, sociological journey of Bella Baxter, a Victorian experiment who gets whisked away from her macabre overprotective creator and keeper Godwin expertly played by Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Shadow of a Vampire) by the dashing cad Duncan Webberburn, a star performance complete with a posh accent a desire to please polite society by Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) as he takes her sometimes forcibly from a grey and grim London to an iridescent and lavish Lisbon and then from Lisbon aboard a ship to Alexandria.

While Bella is entranced initially by the elegant Duncan Webberburn particularly in the film’s iconic dance sequence which is absolutely enthralling, Bella soon learns that Duncan actually starts behaving like every other man in her life so far, over-protective, possessive and deeply controlling. Duncan starts acting petulant when Bella takes his money and unknowingly gives it away, supposedly to the destitute in Alexandria and soon they both literally become poor things.

While landing up penniless in Paris, Bella discovers the economic advantages of a Parisian boudoir where she can get paid for sex so that she can become her own economic entity.

Back in London, Godwin creates another creature lacking in emotional while him and his protégé Mark McCandles played by Ramy Youssef pine for Bella’s illustrious return and soon via letters she learns that she needs to return to London while abandoning the overtures of a demented rejected Duncan. It is at this juncture that the brilliant and wacky storyline, takes a bizarre turn, thanks to a superb screenplay by Tony McNamara and Alasdair Gray whose novel the film is based upon.

With captivating production design by Shona Heath and James Price and beautiful cinematography by Robbie Ryan, Poor Things expands on some of director Yorgos Lanthimos fascination with female emancipation and male folly which he began so cleverly in The Favourite and now expands with a broader, brighter and utterly bizarre canvas. This surrealist film is filled with illustrious characters, beautifully mingling fantasy with sexual emancipation, death with desire and revenge coupled with a coroner’s careful carving up of cadavers with compassion and medical ingenuity.

Poor Things is certainly not a film for everyone, it will fascinate viewers and repel them in equal measures but as a mesmerizing cinematic experience it is dazzling, daunting and delightful. At the heart of this unique, bizarre Victorian melodrama are three exceptional performances by Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe. Ultimately Bella Baxter gets her revenge and becomes her own means of production.

Poor Things gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is utterly bizarre, repulsively fascinating and a cinematic experience that no one will forget. Recommended for those that love challenging films.

2018 Venice International Film Festival Winners

Venice International Film Festival, known as La Biennale di Venezia takes place annually in late August, early September and is regarded as the oldest Film Festival in the World

Golden Lion (Best Film): Roma directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Grand Jury Prize: The Favourite directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Silver Lion (Best Director):  Jacques Audiard – The Sisters Brothers

Best Actor: Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate

Best Actress: Olivia Colman – The Favourite

Best Screenplay Award – Joel and Ethan Coen – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Regal Revenge

The Favourite

 

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Joe Alwyn, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss, James Melville, Timothy Innes, Basil Eidenbenz

When Queen Mary II died in 1694 and her husband King William III died in 1702, the British throne passed to Mary’s sister Queen Anne in 1702 who bore 17 children through her marriage to Prince George of Denmark all of whom died in childbirth. The reign of Queen Anne was short lived, having only occupied the throne for 12 years.

Greek art house director Yorgos Lanthimos provides a bizarre parody of royal favouritism, jealousy and court rivalry in his lavish critically acclaimed period film The Favourite set during Queen Anne’s reign at the beginning of the 18th century. Audiences should note that this is not an accurate historical drama in the vein of director Shekhar Kapur’s epic films Elizabeth and Elizabeth, The Golden Age in which Cate Blanchett played the Virgin Queen. The Favourite is meant to be viewed as a parody.

The Favourite is a spiteful royal romp which has three deliciously brilliant portrayals of different women at its core.

Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardner) is absolutely superb as the manipulative and influential Lady Sarah who is usurped in her position at the court by her young cousin a feisty Abigail wonderfully portrayed by Oscar winner Emma Stone (La La Land).

Both women are trying to gain favour with the sickly and constantly bored Queen Anne beautifully played by British actress Olivia Colman who gives a career best performance as a Queen who is both commanding and fickle, a female regent constantly plagued by the death of all her children and her inability to produce a viable heir.

With gorgeous costumes by Sandy Powell and a brittle inventive script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, Yorgos Lanthimos’s inventive portrayal of British Royalty is both cheeky, outrageous and utterly thought-provoking, a vicious parody of those who hold power and the others who circle precariously around the centre of that regal orbit.

Beautifully constructed and wonderfully filmed, The Favourite is not going to be everyone’s cup of perfectly brewed tea but it will certainly challenge viewers’ perception of the pedestal that royalty places itself on.

Love it or hate it, The Favourite is a challenging and lavish film about vile characters, utter debauchery and a satirical look at how powerful women can outwit each other, while the vain and ineffectual men particularly Harley played by Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Masham played by Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) are mere pawns in this whimsical game of deception and influence over a powerful Queen that was equally swayed by her closest companions.

The Favourite gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is utterly bizarre, a ravishing parody of royalty which will leave an inedible impression on the viewer.

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