Posts Tagged ‘Caitriona Balfe’

To All Those That Left

Belfast

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes

Director Kenneth Branagh delivers a stunning film, a cinematic ode to his childhood in Belfast in the film Belfast featuring an excellent cast including Jamie Dornan (The 9th Life of Louis Drax), Caitriona Balfe (Ford v Ferrari) Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) and Ciaran Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hamlet).

Set in August 1969, when the troubles began in Belfast, the entire film is viewed through the eyes of 9 year old boy Buddy brilliantly played by Jude Hill in his first ever cinematic role.

Shot mostly in Black and White, Belfast is an excellent film held together by superb supporting performances particularly from Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds as Buddy’s grandparents who are ultimately the ones that he will leave behind.

As buddy’s parents’ battle with the political and economic instability of Belfast at the end of the 1960’s the lure of safer work opportunities in England, Buddy has to contend with his parents making this momentous decision to emigrate and leave for a more secure future.

As emigration and exodus affects families and communities around the world even more pertinently today from the Ukraine to South Africa, Belfast is an extremely relevant story, an ode to a city that was torn apart by sectarian violence and looting. Belfast could be a stand in for any city in the world that has experienced such devastation when the root of all communities is pulled out. That root is the family.

What makes Belfast as mesmerizing as a film is director Kenneth Branagh’s unique perspective on an extremely difficult topic: a family’s decision to emigrate from their home country amidst increasing political instability.

Peppered with shots from old films and trips to the theatre, Belfast is a brilliantly poignant film, expertly captured and shot by director Kenneth Branagh and beautifully acted by the entire cast from Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe as Buddy’s parents to the sad acceptance and subtle strength of Buddy’s grandparents who soon realize that their son and his family and their grandchildren will be leaving them forever.

With a mixture of mischief and innocence, the superb performance of Jude Hill as Buddy is the emotional centre of the entire story of Belfast.

Both Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds are phenomenal as Buddy’s caring but stoic grandparents and deserve all the acting accolades already heaped upon them.

Belfast gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing, a fitting and beautiful tribute to a city torn apart by strife but then slowly re-emerging as the stable and flourishing capital of contemporary Northern Ireland.

7000 Revolutions Per Minute

Ford v Ferrari

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts, Jack McMullen, Ray McKennon, Noah Lupe, Joe Williamson

Walk the Line and Logan director James Mangold expertly tackles the world of motor racing in the exhilarating and brilliantly filmed Ford v Ferrari starring Oscar winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) as Ken Miles and Oscar winner Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) as American car designer Carroll Shelby.

Shelby and Miles form a formidable bond as they become corporate pawns by Ford Motor Company based in Detroit, Michigan headed by Henry Ford II superbly played by Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) who aided by his ambitious marketing executive Lee Iacocca played by Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street) and VP Leo Beebe played by Josh Lucas is determined to build the fastest American racing car to beat Ferrari at the international grueling 24 hour race Le Mans, in France in 1966.

Ford v Ferrari establishes the corporate politics and the sheer desire to win before the historic race at Le Mans along with the growing friendship that Shelby and Miles cement over fast cars, adrenalin and the absolute need for speed much to the amusement of Shelby’s wife Mollie Miles played by Irish actress Caitriona Balfe (Now You See Me, Money Monster).

Balfe holds her own in a predominately male film about motor racing particularly highlighted in a superb scene when her character Mollie confronts her husband Ken about his racing ambitions while she is driving the family station wagon. More significantly is the poignant relationship Ken has with his young son Peter wonderfully played by Noah Lupe as they bond over the power of speed racing and the thrill of the racetrack.

Aided by a comprehensive script by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller, Ford v Ferrari is an insightful look at the 1960’s world of professional motor racing, the Adrenalin and the human cost incurred by the drivers as they battle to win and control the cars they are driving at vicious speeds in order to impress their corporate sponsors like Ford or Ferrari.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon’s intelligent on screen performances hold this two and a half hour Adrenalin fueled period film together about the historic events that led up to the Le Mans race in 1966.

Ford v Ferrari is a powerful film expertly directed and edited and is highly recommended viewing for those that love motor car racing. It’s a beautifully crafted film in a similar vein to Ron Howard’s 2013 film Rush starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl.

Ford v Ferrari gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is worth seeing not only for the superb acting but also for the unbelievable racing supplemented by the handsome production design. Highly recommended viewing but not suitable for young children.

Ford v Ferrari won two Oscars at the 2020 Academy Awards –

Best Achievement in Sound Editing – 2020

Best Achievement in Film Editing – 2020

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Money Monster

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Director: Jodie Foster

Cast: Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham

Young British actor Jack O’Connell certainly seems to be handpicked by Oscar winner female actresses turned directors to star in their films. First it was O’Connell’s brilliant portrayal of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini turned prisoner of war in the World War two epic Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie and now he is cast as the disgruntled young investor Kyle Budwell in Jodie Foster’s live action hostage drama, Money Monster set on Wall Street, New York city.

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Echoing a similar vibe to the brilliant Spike Lee film, Inside Man, in which Jodie Foster starred, Money Monster is a gripping tale of TV show which is taken hostage by the unhinged yet scared Budwell, who holds the show’s vain TV host Lee Gates hostage. Gates is wonderfully played by Oscar winner George Clooney (Syriana) who literally has to put his life in the hands of the Money Monster show producer Patty Fenn, a sharp and sassy performance by Oscar winner Julia Roberts.

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The fact that Money Monster has Julia Roberts and George Clooney as the two main leads is testament to the film’s star power yet rising star Jack O’Connell holds his own as the desperate and slightly idiotic Budwell who has literally bitten off more than he can chew, when he creates a live hostage drama so that the show, Money Monster can ascertain the real truth behind an investment company Ibis mysteriously losing $800 million which is initially blamed on a glitch due to a trading algorithm.

As Money Monster develops, it soon emerges, that the slimy CEO of the murky multi-national Ibis, Walt Camby wonderfully played by Dominic West, last seen in the brilliant series The Affair, has done some dodgy stock manipulation as well as orchestrating some labour unrest at a platinum mine in South Africa. No surprise there.

Money Monster is a taut, watchable thriller and whilst the plot is at times contrived, it is a fascinating indictment on the power of broadcast media especially in the public’s hunger to witness a dramatic spectacle unfold, made more pertinent as the conflict being televised relates to the incomprehensible world of international high finance, where a chosen few are entrusted with the financial futures of millions of shareholders in these precarious economic times.

As a director Jodie Foster highlights the immediacy of Live Television while skilfully blending in the less than glamorous, but flawed characters behind the scenes which generate such flashy media content. Clooney and Roberts are particularly well cast as TV host and producer while O’Connell once again demonstrates that his star is on the rise.

Money Monster is highly recommended viewing, extremely watchable, unpredictable and very entertaining.

 

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