Posts Tagged ‘August Diehl’

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The King’s Man fortunately is steeped in historical references and is set between 1902 and 1918.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.

Nazi Neo-Noir

Allied

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, August Diehl, Lizzy Caplan, Marion Bailey, Matthew Goode, Simon McBurney, Josh Dylan

Flight director Robert Zemeckis’s hopes to rekindle the World War II genre with the Nazi thriller Allied pairing Oscar nominee Brad Pitt (Twelve Monkeys, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) are severely dashed.

Whilst Cotillard holds her own as femme fatale Marianne Beausejour speaking French in the stunning Moroccan opening sequence, it is Brad Pitt who looks forlorn as the flaky Canadian spy Max Vatan as he parachutes into the Sahara desert to enter an intriguing plot in Casablanca to assassinate the Nazi German ambassador to the Vichy occupied French Morocco.

The most engaging sequences in Allied is the first act, all set in exotic Morocco, but if the film is aiming to recapture the allure of Anthony Minghella’s Oscar winning masterpiece The English Patient, it falls short of the mark. Despite a competent script by Steven Knight although not his best work (Eastern Promises, Locke), Allied fails to deliver as a riveting war drama mainly due to the surprising lack of screen chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard.

Unlike in director David Ayer’s blood-soaked Fury, Brad Pitt wasn’t on his best acting form, pre-empting the drama of the Brangelina breakup which overshadowed the post-production publicity of Allied to such an extent that Marion Cotillard had to issue a press statement denying that she was the cause of the split between Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Publicity aside, the second half of Allied set in rain-drenched London during the Blitz is far more dreary than its spectacular opening sequence despite a strong group of British supporting actors including Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited, Stoker), Marion Bailey (Mr Turner) and Simon McBurney (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Last King of Scotland).

Audiences should look out for two superb cameos by German actor August Diehl as the Nazi commander Hobar who incidentally also acted with Pitt in Tarantino’s revisionist war drama Inglourious Basterds and Lizzy Caplan (The Interview) as Max’s bohemian sister Bridget.

As Max Vatan and the mysterious Marianne Beausejour marry and set up home in Hampstead during the war, there are rumours circulating that Beausejour is a double agent, secretly working for the Nazi’s and that the entire Casablanca affair was a ruse to get Vatan to trust her. As Marianne states in the opening scenes, “I keep my emotions real. That’s why it works” which beguiles Max into falling in love with the sophisticated yet steely eyed Frenchwoman.

Whilst Allied is an engaging film in the first half, with stylish 1940’s costume to match, the second half fails to keep the audience interested and develops into a slightly soppy second half as the truth emerges.

Allied is an average war drama from a screenwriter that could have delivered far better and from two stars that required a more dynamic plot to compensate for their dismal lack of onscreen chemistry.

Mata Hari Jolie Style

Salt

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Salt is a fast paced action thriller which is intriguing and admirable for the wonderful casting of Angelina Jolie as the title character and Liev Schrieber so refreshing in this female version Mission Impossible style thriller set in Washington DC and New York, shot with the same vigour and energy as the Bourne trilogy less the exotic locations.

Australian Director Philip Noyce whose impressive credits include the brilliant Rabbit Proof Fence and The Quiet American directs Salt with panache and a strong control of the pace, plot and environment of shady double agents and counter-intelligence. Noyce has worked with Jolie before on the serial killer thriller The Bone Collector back in 1999, so he returns to familiar territory with the new thriller Salt set in the murky world of US counter-espionage with a superb supporting cast including Liev Schrieber and the hugely underrated Chiwetel Ejiofor of the famed Stephen Frears film, Dirty Pretty Things and Ridley Scott’s American Gangster.

Salt is a combination of the Boys from Brazil and In the Line of Fire with a fast-moving plot and fantastic action sequences reminiscent of Angelina Jolie’s earlier roles in Tomb Raider, Wanted and Mr and Mrs SmithSalt is a riveting thriller and worth the twist in the tale.

Revisionist Cinema from Hell

Inglourious Basterds

She is watching us... the Voyeur as Killer

She is watching us… the Voyeur as Killer

A Revisionist look at World War 2 with all the German angst, French charm and American parody…

Sooner or later Tarantino was bound to approach the territory of the 2nd World War. While there has been a plethora of World War movies since the mid 1940s onwards, many have tackled the War from a purely Euro-American perspective focusing on the Nazi’s simply as the enemy. From Great battle films, like Saving Private Ryan to the more personal and heart-rendering stories of Sophie’s Choice and Schnindlers List and more recently Atonement.

The Rot started from within...

The Rot started from within…

Valkyrie arrived, Tom Cruise’s fascinating yet doomed project about a plot to kill Hitler from within the highest rankest of the Nazi inner circle in 1944. Defiance followed, a superb story of Polish Jewish resistance set in the forests outside Krakow.  There was entertainment rumblings from Tarantino that after the Kill Bill films, he was planning a revisionist and slightly parodying version of World War 2…

Cannes Film Festival 2009

Truly original dangerous Cinema

 

Cannes Film Festival 2009 and Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino’s long awaited film featuring a band of Jewish American Nazi scalp-hunters who take revenge on the Nazi’s  in German-occupied France in the early 1940s is premiered much to every cineaste’s delight. Basterds is far more than a revenge cult film against Nazi’s, it’s a statement about Cinema being used as propaganda. The references are rife, for as in Pulp Fiction, Tarantino’s best trait is revealed, a rambling but significant knack for quirky dialogue. Except in this film, authenticity dictates –so naturally the French spoke French, the Nazi’s spoke German and the Americans spoke a range of regional accents from Brooklyn to Tennessee slang. Tarantino assembles some fantastic European stars of contemporary cinema, from Til Schwieger to Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent.

Cinema as Propaganda

Tarantino makes comparisons between Joseph Goebbels – Nazi Minister for Propoganda and the then founder of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, both as masters of cinema and naturally propaganda. More specific are the references to Leni Riefenstahl, who rose to fame in the 1930s as a significant German film-maker churning out the Nazi blueprint for propaganda – Triumph of the Will.

Truimph of the Will

Truimph of the Will

Riefenstahl, was later vilified once the war was over and went onto to become a documentary filmmaker in East Africa. There are also a sprinkling of humorous discussions about the American black athlete Jesse Owens who sparkled at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games much to Hitler’s dismay.  Watch out for a spoof on the British military featuring a contemplative Winston Churchill and a wonderful cameo by Mike Myers whose line, “we will have all the rotten eggs in one basket” is delivered with affected panache.

A French Spaghetti Western Tarantino Style

Basterds opening shots are reminiscent of the early spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone – with a scene straight out of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, except its not a dusty Mexican outback with outlaws escaping bounty hunters, it’s a pastoral scene of a French Farming countryside. This time there is no Sun-Burnt Clint Eastwood in a poncho. Enter Christoph Waltz, the urbane, elegant and lethal multi-lingual Nazi Jewish hunter. Waltz has some of the best dialogue in the film and effortlessly switches from German to French to English in order to ascertain his victims whereabouts. Yet Tarantino presents him as a man simply sent to do an unpleasant task, and one should not judge, but Waltz’s role is crucial to the films wonderful and intricate plot revolving around a cinema outside Paris and a German Film Premiere, where all plans go awry.

Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor following in the psychopathic tradition of Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men (2008) and Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight (2009). Tarantino’s find of this Austrian acting talent has Hollywood virtual blogs a buzzing.

Inglourious Basterds is long, brilliant, bloody and sophisticated with that right dose of European sensibility accurately shredded by an American’s tainted perspective on World War II and more subtly a comment on the Death of original Cinema and more about Film as a nation’s propaganda tool. If you are expecting an action-packed, traditional war film with a clear division of hero and villain, well then you are simply in the wrong movie. Tarantino tantalizes, shrills and insures that any audience seeing the Basterds will feel claustrophobic and trapped in a cinema from Hell.

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