Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Ramos’

Dominican Dreams

In The Heights

Director: Jon M. Chu

Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Dias IV, Daphine Rubin-Vega, Dascha Polanca, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Olga Merediz, Marc Anthony

Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu takes on the ambitious project of adapting a Broadway musical In the Heights into a film adaptation and unfortunately the finished product while dazzling and funky has limited appeal and should have been edited considerably.

In the Heights was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda who has a small cameo role as a cool drink seller and based upon the novel by Quiara Alegria Hudes, is set exclusively in the mainly Puerto Rican and Dominican neighbourhood of Washington Heights in Spanish Harlem, New York.

Last seen in a supporting role in the Oscar winning A Star is Born opposite Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, Anthony Ramos expertly takes on the main role of Usnavi as a young thirty something Bodega owner who runs a mom and pop store in the heights with the help of his naughty but sharp cousin Sonny wonderfully played by Gregory Dias IV. It’s refreshing to see the talented Anthony Ramos headlining a film.

Audiences should watch out for a cameo by Jennifer Lopez’s ex-husband Marc Anthony as Sonny’s drug fuelled deadbeat father.

Usnavi starts off the film by telling a story to his young children and their friends about the community of Washington Heights and soon the screen explodes into a dazzling dance sequence of exuberant characters and a community which is proud of its Latino roots even if their economic advancement is often stymied by the affluent New York establishment.

With the exception of Sonny and Usnavi’s Cuban grandmother Abuella Claudia played by the brilliant Olga Merediz, the rest of the characters are portrayed with flippant glamour and without much depth including the love interest between Benny played by Corey Hawkins (Kong: Skull Island, BlackKKlansman) and Nina Rosario played by Leslie Grace.

Even well-known actor Jimmy Smits (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Nina’s father Kevin Rosario who is desperate to uplift himself out of the Latino community he is born into, does not get enough screen time or suitable characterization. The conflict between Nina and her father is deepened by her terrible experience at Stanford, an Ivy League University in California.  

The dance numbers in In the Heights are uneven, some of them are excellent especially the sequence with Claudia on a subway train channelling her Cuban immigrant roots while others are terrible including the rap number in the communal swimming pool.

As the story unfolds, the film does not find its feet until the second half when New York is plunged into a three day blackout during a summer heatwave. When the blackout occurs, the real depth of In the Heights ironically shines through.

In the Heights is an enjoyable musical about a section of the Latino community which seldom gets a spotlight shone on them. Despite some good performances, In the Heights at 2 hours and 23 minutes could have been drastically edited.

If viewers love fun musicals then watch In the Heights which gets a film rating 7 out of 10, but this area specific musical has limited appeal.

Boston Bandit

Honest Thief

Director: Mark Williams

Cast: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan, Anthony Ramos, Robert Patrick

Director of A Family Man, Mark Williams brings macho tough guy Liam Neeson back on the big screen to star as Tom, a retired bank robber, known as the In and Out Bandit who decides upon meeting a lovely woman, Annie played by Kate Walsh (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) to announce to the FBI the location of the millions stolen over his dubious career of theft and armed robbery.

Fortunately, Annie works in a suburban Boston storage unit facility where the money is located. However, the bad apples in the FBI come to find where the money is hidden and Tom has to go up against the two rogue agents Agent Nivens wonderfully played by Australian actor Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, The Exception, A Good Day to Die Hard) and married father of two, Agent Hall played by Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born).

Agent Nivens proves to be the most ruthless of the duo when he casually shoots his boss Agent Sam Baker played by Robert Patrick (Safe House, Walk the Line) setting off a chain of events whereby Tom goes after Nivens on the Boston streets while desperately trying to save Annie from harm.

Tom’s only ally in the FBI proves to be the by the book divorced Agent Meyers expertly played by Jeffrey Donovan (J. Edgar, Changeling).

While The Honest Thief does not match up to the adrenalin fuelled excitement of the Taken films, it is a down to earth suburban thriller which is enjoyable and has some unexpected plot twists.

The Honest Thief is worth watching and gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and while the dialogue does drag in places, the action picks up and the plot is cleverly constructed.

Go and see The Honest Thief in a cinema and support the economically stressed cinema chains during these trying times of streaming and awkward social distancing.

Invasive Species

Godzilla II: King of the Monsters

Director: Michael Dougherty

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Ziyi Zhang (The Grandmaster, The House of Flying Daggers, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) , C. C. H. Pounder (Baghdad Cafe), Anthony Ramos, O’Shea Jackson Jr

Director Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla II: King of the Monsters should be viewed within the same context as Legendary pictures predecessor films Gareth Edwards’s 2014 film Godzilla and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts Kong: Skull Island

Returning to the cast are scientists Dr Ishiro Serizawa and Dr Vivienne Graham played by Oscar nominee’s Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water).

Amidst the re-emergence of Godzilla and the global threat of his fellow titans, a selection of invasive species called Mothra, Rodan and the three headed dragon Ghidorah, there is the familial conflict of the Russell family. There is the father Mark played by Kyle Chandler (Argo, Super 8, First Man) and estranged wife Dr Emma Russell played by Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) and their beloved daughter Madison played by Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown.

As Dr Russell and Madison are captured by the ruthless Jonah Alan played by Charles Dance (White Mischief), Mark Russell with the help of crypto-zoological agency Monarch scientists to unleash Godzilla who is released to fight Ghidorah from the plains of Mexico to the fiery urban landscape of contemporary Boston, Massachusetts.

If viewers are Monster movie fans, then Godzilla II: King of the Monsters is sure to satisfy them with amazing production design and dazzling visual effects as the primordial clash of the titans begins.

Also in the cast are Thomas Middleditch (The Wolf of Wall Street, Kong: Skull Island) as Sam Coleman, Oscar nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) as Admiral William Stenz who is hell bent on launching nuclear firepower at the Titans to save the earth from being ravaged by monsters.

Other supporting cast members include C.C.H. Pounder from Avatar, Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born), Bradley Whitford (The Post) and Chinese superstar Ziyi Zhang from such classic films as The Grandmaster, The House of Flying Daggers and Ang Lee’s Oscar winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

As far as plot goes, Godzilla II: King of the Monsters is basically a family drama about the Russell’s as parents fight each other for custody of Madison superbly played by Millie Bobby Brown framed within a larger war between enormous monsters including the trustworthy Godzilla as he battles Mothra, Rodan and the three-headed dragon Ghidorah who likes to devastate cities like the Dragons in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Godzilla II: King of the Monsters gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is extremely enjoyable for those that love monster movies as this cinematic piece is jam packed with crazy beasts ravaging the earth, which serves as an allegorical tale of the unprecedented effects of climate change on this planet.

You Will Never Be Alone

A Star is Born

 

Director: Bradley Cooper

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Alec Baldwin, Ron Rifkin

Three time Oscar Nominee Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper, American Hustle) gives a superb no holds bar performance as the frequently inebriated singer Jackson Maine in the third remake of A Star is Born, which he also boldly directs.

The key to the 2018 version of A Star is Born is to fill the part played by Barbra Streisand in the 1976 version in which she starred opposite Kris Kristofferson who won a Golden Globe for Best actor Musical Comedy in the 1970’s version.

Enter pop icon and music superstar Lady Gaga who plays the significant role of aspiring singer Ally who is discovered by Jackson Maine in a Gay Bar (it’s not what audiences think!) as she enters on stage amidst a bevy of Drag Queens singing Edith Piaf.

The onscreen chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sizzles and it’s what makes the 2018 version of A Star is Born so palatable and such entertaining viewing.

Besides some fantastic cutting edge cinematography by Black Swan Oscar nominee Matthew Libatique, who really captures the chaotic energy of live music performances, the actual songs, the music and Bradley Cooper’s superb Oscar worthy acting makes this version of A Star is Born worth seeing.

As the awards season approaches, I am sure that both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will get Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor and Actress in a Musical or Comedy. As for the 2019 Oscars, it’s too early to predict, but this is without a doubt the best performance I have seen Bradley Cooper do onscreen as he inhabits the complicated role of Jackson Maine a singer whose addictive personality cannot handle the sudden and glittering fame bestowed upon his protégé Ally.

Ally is egged on at every turn in her rise to fame by a ruthless music manager Rez played by Rafi Gavron. Audiences should also watch out for a solid supporting performance by Sam Elliott as Jackson’s older brother and manager Bobby.

A Star is Born is superb viewing, fantastic singing and a brilliant film to watch ably assisted by Oscar worthy performances by its two main leads whose onscreen chemistry dazzles from the first musical number.

A Star is Born gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is a musical treat. Highly recommended viewing.

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