Posts Tagged ‘Carey Mulligan’

Beautiful Bernstein

Maestro

Director: Bradley Cooper

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Matt Bomer, Sarah Silverman, Vincenzo Amato, Maya Hawke, Matt Bomer

Running Time: 2 hours and 9 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Please note this film is only available on Netflix

With acclaimed directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg acting as executive producers, Bradley Cooper’s Maestro about the extraordinary life of American composer Leonard Bernstein features a deftly performed triple act with multiple Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, A Star is Born, Silver Linings Playbook) acting as director, writer and as the leading man, ably assisted with Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education, Promising Young Woman) as Bernstein’s long suffering wife Felicia Montealegre.

Both Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan are absolutely superb in Maestro, binding this film together as they perfectly portray the complex façade of a marriage that the Bernstein’s had, particularly Felicia’s artistic and sacrificial decision to turn a blind eye to her husband’s rampant homosexuality often bringing lover’s home and entertaining them in front of their children.

There is a particularly brilliant scene towards the end of Maestro whereby Leonard and Felicia have a terrible fight in a New York apartment which is overlooking the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, in which the marital veneer is cracked and all the resentment and anger boils over.

Bradley Cooper literally disappears into the role of Leonard Bernstein thanks to the extraordinary makeup by Japanese American prosthetic make up artist Kazo Hiro who won Oscars for Bombshell and Darkest Hour.

Mulligan is excellent as a broadway actress Felicia who takes a decision to put her career on hold while Leonard Bernstein’s musical career flourishes during the 1960’s as he is made musical director for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Leonard Bernstein is an icon in the classical and theatrical music world having penned the music for the Stephen Sondheim hit musical West Side Story and the film score for the Marlon Brando film On The Waterfront.

Bernstein’s sexual relationship with David Oppenheim flamboyantly played by out gay actor Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart, Boys in the Band, The Nice Guys) is comfortably portrayed in Maestro as Bernstein feels nothing at introducing his beloved wife Felicia to his starry eyed gay lover.

At the heart of this complex artistically compatible marriage is the toll that two creative and volatile parents have on their three children particularly their oldest daughter Jamie Bernstein played by the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, Maya Hawke (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Asteroid City) who often has to discover through gossip the sexual indiscretions of her father, the world famous conductor Leonard Bernstein.

Essentially, Maestro is an art film and it is filled with beautiful music, talented people and a toweringly famous artistic conductor who was passionate about classical music, conducting and leaving an indelible mark on the canon of America’s 20th century contribution to the history of music.

Maestro shot in black and white and colour, is a complex and slightly off kilter biopic about an extremely charismatic conductor whose sexual proclivities detonated the marriage in which Felicia was the main casualty. Fortunately, Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan are both excellent as husband and wife in a film which re-examines their relationship in the context of Bernstein’s massive fame and creative contribution, which was both controversial and significant.

Maestro is Bradley Cooper’s languid love letter to Leonard Bernstein, a formidable task to encapsulate in a unconventional biopic which should have been released in theatrical cinemas to attain the full effect.

Featuring highly skilled acting, cinematography and direction, Maestro gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is recommended for viewers that love the music of Leonard Bernstein.

Source material: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Bernstein

Nursing a Vendetta

Promising Young Woman

Director: Emerald Fennell

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Max Greenfield, Clancy Brown, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Molly Shannon, Emerald Fennell

Actress Emerald Fennell who ironically played Camilla Parker-Bowles on the hit Netflix series The Crown has turned writer and director and created an original piece of cinema, Promising Young Woman with a film’s ending that no viewer will guess.

Casting British actress and Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) in the lead role of Cassandra, a young 30 thirty year old gorgeous woman who gets her kicks out of harassing young men after they have tried to pick her up while playing drunk, is a master stroke. Mulligan channels every controversial female role from Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction to Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey.

Set in a nameless Midwestern city, Cassie still lives with her doting yet confused parents played by Jennifer Coolidge and Clancy Brown after dropping out of med school due to her best friend Nina Fisher suffering from a horrific sexual assault incident at the medical school while they were both in their second year.

The best statement Fennell makes is that the perpetrators of sexual assault are not necessarily wealthy and powerful old men, but they can also be young professional men who behave badly at university and still manage to maintain a lucrative postgraduate career. Cassie witnessing her friend Nina’s life falling apart due to sexual assault, decides to blame all young men and tricks them into taking her home, only to turn on them in their own environment.

Cassie’s revenge really starts getting going when she meets Dr Ryan Cooper, wonderfully played by Bo Burnham, who appears to be a sweet, charming and humorous paediatrician and is attracted to Cassie. Ryan mentions to Cassie that he still sees a lot of their old medical school classmates including Al Monroe and Madison, played respectively by Chris Lowell and Alison Brie, both of whom were directly and indirectly responsible for Nina’s sexual assault.

The beauty of Emerald Fennell’s script is that there is not a lot of details given to the viewer, so Cassie’s actions and her peculiar relationship with men hints at a feminist revenge fantasy. The garish costumes adds to the dark psychology of this thriller, which leaves viewers intrigued.

One by one Cassie hunts down all those responsible for the sexual assault of her best friend and finally lands up at the foot of the bed of the real perpetrator Al Monroe on the night of his bachelor’s party dressed as a kinky nurse.

Promising Young Woman is a tour-de-force of acting for Carey Mulligan who effortlessly transcends from a demure blonde girl behind a coffee counter to a vicious sociopath who is on the hunt for vengeance.

For its sheer originality, Promising Young Woman gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 but as a feminist revenge fantasy it’s going to be divisive and controversial especially with its shocking ending.

63rd BAFTA Awards

THE  63rd BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 21st February 2010 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

1 SHEET MASTER

Best Film: The Hurt Locker

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker

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Best Actor: Colin Firth – A Single Man

An Education

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan – An Education

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Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

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Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique – Precious

Rising Star Award: Kristen Stewart

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Best British Film: Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker – Mark Boal

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air – Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

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Best Costume Design: The Young Victoria

A_ProphetBest Foreign Language Film: A Prophet directed by Jacques Audiard (France/Italy)

Source: 63rd BAFTA Awards

 

Rivals for her Affection

Far From the Madding Crowd

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Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple, Matthias Schoenaerts, Bradley Hall, Jessica Barden

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg who gained international attention with his Oscar Nominated film The Hunt, takes on a cinematic adaptation of the 19th century classic Thomas Hardy novel Far From the Madding Crowd and what a superb piece of cinema it is.

The high production values and the crackling onscreen energy between Carey Mulligan who plays the headstrong heroine Bathsheba Everdene and the handsome yet rugged farm manager Gabriel Oak is played by Belgian rising star Matthais Schoenaerts who both make this film captivating.

At the centre of Thomas Hardy’s novel was a rather unconventional idea for its time that of a female heroine taking charge of a large farm in rural Dorset in the 1870’s. Far From the Madding Crowd published in 1874 at the height of the Victorian era become an instant classic and since the twentieth century has been turned into many cinematic adaptations most notably the 1967 classic film of the same name with Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates and Terence Stamp as well as a modern day variation Tamara Drewe (2010) with Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper.

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Vinterberg’s version of Far From the Madding Crowd is a handsomely produced, exceptionally acted and beautifully shot in which he extracts genuine performances out of Mulligan and Schoenaerts along with the rest of the supporting cast including Michael Sheen (The Queen), as the prosperous bachelor William Boldwood and the audacious and reckless Sergeant Troy, played with a sort of hint of danger by Tom Sturridge (Being Julia and On the Road). Even Juno Temple as the befallen young damsel, Fanny Robbin is equally good.

What elevates Vinterberg’s film is an intelligent screenplay by David Nicholls and sumptuous cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen together with wonderful costumes by Janet Paterson. Shot mainly in Buckinghamshire, Far From The Madding Crowd will be sure to illicit a renewed interest in Hardy’s novels and especially in the many film adaptations of his work including the 1979 film Tess directed by Roman Polanski featuring Nastassja Kinski.

Bathsheba has to deal with the business of running a farm, which was naturally male dominated as well as warding off possible suitors from the likes of Boldwood and the arrogant Sergeant Troy, whilst her sturdy farm manager, Gabriel Oak, remains loyal to her even when she makes mistakes. The ending of Far From the Madding Crowd is truly sublime and each character is perfectly cast in their roles.

Thomas Vinterberg’s ravishing and gripping rural drama should surely garner some awards at least for the handsome production design and for expertly recreating such a literary treasure on the big screen, making the film just as relevant in an age filled with multimillion dollar CGI laden blockbusters.

Far From the Madding Crowd is an exceptional film and highly recommended for those that enjoyed Jane Campion’s The Piano, Joe Wright’s 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and more recently Cary Fukunaga’s superb film Jane Eyre featuring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.

Lavish, Lustful Long Island…

The Great Gatsby

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Director:  Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan

The much anticipated glitzy remake of the 1974 film, The Great Gatsby by Australian director, Baz Luhrmann is spectacular to watch, wonderful to marvel at, yet ultimately flawed much like its central character, Jay Gatsby.  Based upon the American classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby published in 1925, chronicling America and specifically New York’s Jazz Age, Prohibition and the excesses of wealth prior to the Great Depression in 1929, Luhrmann expertly captures the era with gorgeous costumes designed by Catherine Martin and supplied by the Italian Luxury Fashion House Prada along with suits by Brooks Brothers, the 21st century film version of Gatsby is brash, excessively long and gorgeous to look at, with fabulous over the top parties, superb music and lots of creative divergence as expected from the director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet.

At the centre of the 21st century version of The Great Gatsby are three fine performances and that is the ménage trio of Jay Gatsby, played with a slightly Howard Hawks neurosis by Leonardo di Caprio, (The Aviator, Django Unchained, Romeo and Juliet), the Louisville heiress Daisy Buchanan played with a slight childish melancholy by the ever charming Carey Mulligan (Wall Street 2, Money Never Sleeps) and then her brutish, polo playing husband Tom Buchanan, an outstanding performance by screen newcomer Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Animal Kingdom).

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Luhrmann and costume designer Martin do a superb job of luring the audience into a decadent world of the bootlegging roaring 1920’s New York with the lavish excessive parties, the ensuing deviance that prohibition encouraged and naturally the modern jazz age. The film is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin and neighbour to the initially enigmatic Gatsby, played with the usual awe and wonder of Tobey Maguire, of the original Spiderman Trilogy, who facilitates a meeting between Daisy and Gatsby over tea in one of the film’s more memorable scenes with flowers and decadent cakes at his Long Island cottage.

The Long Island-Manhattan social scene becomes more intricate as Tom’s mistress Myrtle wonderfully played by Isla Fisher and first introduced at in a raucous party at a Manhattan apartment hinting at the excesses which the sexually ambivalent Nick Carraway is seduced by both in terms of drugs, alcohol and loose morals, yet it is really Carraway’s enchantment with Gatsby himself which really plays into the subtext of such a fascinating portrait of lust and decadence, that eventually leads him to later write the story of the huge influence Gatsby had on his now destroyed life. As Carraway is drawn into the opulent world of the super-rich and of the myriad possibilities, betrayals and affairs that this affluent society leads him to witness, it is Gatsby himself who leaves Carraway with an impressionable dream of “You can do anything if you set your mind to it”.

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Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is flawed and uneven, especially noticeable in the second half of the film as he goes beyond the spectacle of the age and grapples with the deceit and lies that his main characters are capable of. The infamous scene at the Plaza Hotel, where all is revealed is really expertly played by Joel Edgerton as the jilted yet scheming playboy husband, who treats all his possessions including his lovely wife with a sort of contemptible jealousy. Luhrmann’s directorial trademarks are evident in The Great Gatsby, but not nearly as tightly pulled together as his brilliant Moulin Rouge which saw stunning performances by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, yet he still manages to recreate The Great Gatsby in a style any other film director could not have imagined.

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The Great Gatsby is recommended for the fantastic costumes and sumptuous production design, but not where literary traditionalists are concerned, the film is clearly aiming at a much younger glitzier and more diverse audience, notably succeeding in its lavish portrayal of excess. The only criticism is that more editing was required to cut The Great Gatsby into a perfect diamond and not as a sparkling flawed gem.  The film is a celebrated depiction and inventive homage to the Jazz Age, without much substance, but loads of style. Personally I would like to see Luhrmann tackle the rather more brilliant novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, but that would see the director venturing too deeply into the complexity of human relationships without the added glamour.

Recommended for lovers of Gershwin music and for an aesthetic appreciation, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is sure to divide and impress audiences simultaneously, much like he did with revisionist adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in 1997. Also starring Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim.

Scorpion and the Frog

Drive

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Nicholas Winding Refn’s noir cinematic version of the James Sallis novel Drive is an intoxicatingly brutal thrill ride, with superb stunts, minimal dialogue and hectic violence. Machismo has always been linked with knifes, guns and naturally cars symbolizing the American culture of survival, greed and the right to bear arms.

Drive is set in urban Los Angeles and follows the bizarre story of Driver played with a cool lethal charm by Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March, Blue Valentine) who befriends a next door neighbour sultry diner waitress Irina played by Carey Mulligan (An Education). Driver becomes the protector of Irina and her young son Benicio while the father is away in prison. Upon the father’s return, Standard played by Oscar Isaac (W/E) persuades Driver to help him out with one last heist of a pawn shop in the San Fernando Valley in a bid to pay off some protection money. The heist goes horribly wrong and much blood is shed and in a series of horrifically violent scenes, Driver goes to any lengths to protect the girl from the vicious mob boss Mr Rose played with an elegant urbanity by Albert Brooks.

Nicholas Winding Refn scooped the Best Director prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and upon a second viewing of Drive it is easy to see why. Each shot is gorgeously framed, from the car chases to the aerials shots of Los Angeles at night. As the first half of the film moves from a romance and some character building the second half of Drive is thrilling to watch with some unbelievable sequences especially the nefarious nightclub sequence whereby man’s capacity for violence is framed against beautiful shots of voluptuous strippers and Nino’s restaurant sequence whereby Driver donning the mask from his former stunt car driving days eerily takes a glimpse inside the pizzeria before preparing for the kill.

In the final sequence of the film, Driver in his blood spattered scorpion jacket, framed by a city skyline tells Mr Rose of the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog. Drive is pure 21st century film noir with just the skilful balance of violence, suspense and drama, making it one of the most engaging films about man’s obsession with cars and his primal need for violence and survival. Riveting and memorable, Drive also stars Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston as Driver’s boss Shannon.

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