Posts Tagged ‘Cate Blanchett’

Deconstructing a Maestro

Tar

Director: Todd Field

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, Julian Glover, Mark Strong, Noemie Merlant, Sophie Kauer

Running Time: 2 hours and 38 minutes

Film Rating: 9.5 out of 10

This film is in German and English

Director Todd Field came out of seclusion after making two excellent films in the early 2000’s In The Bedroom and Little Children, to make his masterpiece, a brilliant and vicious social commentary about celebrity, cancel culture and power dynamics in his new film Tar.

Tar premiered at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival to much critical acclaim with the lead actress, Cate Blanchett taking the prize for Best actress. Since its illustrious reception, Blanchett has received awards and praise for her brittle and beautiful performance of legendary yet fictional musical conductor Lydia Tar who heads up the prestigious Berlin Symphony Orchestra.

Field sets his masterpiece in New York and Berlin and opens the film by building Lydia Tar up to be a master conductor defying convention by being one of the first female conductors in the contemporary orchestral music world.

In the opening scene, Tar is being interviewed by a reporter from the New Yorker magazine at a public event. Tar is praised and glorified. In New York at the Julliard school of music Tar tries to lecture on what it means to be a famous composer like Bach, Mahler or Elgar to a group of woke non-binary millennials who continue to challenge the pantheon of music conductors by questioning their relevance in the 2020’s. It’s a terrific scene, prophetic and scathing.

Tar, using private jets and personal assistants, is whisked off to Berlin to her resident orchestra and her plush apartment that she shares with her girlfriend and first violinist Sharon Goodnow wonderfully played by German actress Nina Hoss.

In Berlin everything seems perfect until Tar’s prestigious world and status starts unravelling. Tar takes risks, flirting with the new Russian soloist Olga Metkina played by Sophie Kauer while back in New York the unexplained suicide of Krista Taylor, an aspiring musician starts to haunt Tar and allegations are made. Allegations which are taken seriously by trust funds sponsoring major orchestras and corporate shareholders who demand answers from Lydia Tar who is the face of the orchestra, the arrogant leader which commands the symphonies.

In some really brilliant scenes with Tar and her mentor Andris Davis played by Julian Glover (For Your Eyes Only), Tar offloads some of the professional and personal pressures onto Andris who has survived Berlin in her complex political phases as the German capital city.

What Tar is really about, and certainly director Todd Field’s main critique is the Western world’s ability to build someone up as a celebrity through social media and hype, a demi-god only to tear them done again when their expectations are not met or when that celebrity’s actions contradict their dazzling talent.

At the centre of Tar, is a truly mesmerizing performance by Cate Blanchett who is literally in every single frame of the film. Blanchett is a master class in acting, from speaking German to internalizing all the frailties and trauma of her character’s rapid descent into anonymity and her rebirth into a bizarre more exotic culture somewhere in South East Asia, possibly Laos or Cambodia, a location so far removed from affluent Germany or politically conscious New York.

Tar is a tour de force in social commentary of our contemporary age, a director whose vision is astute and specific, knocking down all the gods of high culture and reconfiguring them into a future world, in which the maestro is sacrificed and reborn.

Tar is a complex film which demands complete attention from the viewer and gets a film rating of 9.5 out of 10, a truly insightful and superb cinematic revelation.

76th BAFTA Awards / The British Academy Film Awards

The 76th British Academy Film Awards, also known as the BAFAs, were held on 19th February 2023 at the Royal Festival Hall in London, honouring the best national and foreign films of 2022

Best Film: All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Director: Edward Berger – All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Actor: Austin Butler – Elvis

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – TAR 

Best Supporting Actor: Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Supporting Actress: Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin

Best British Film: The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Adapted Screenplay: All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Costume Design: Elvis

Best Foreign Language Film: All Quiet on the Western Front

Rising Star Award: Emma Mackey

80th Golden Globe Awards

Took Place on Tuesday 10th January 2023 in Los Angeles and hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Beverly Hilton Hotel – Here are the 2023 Golden Globe Winners in the Film Categories:

Best Film Drama: The Fabelmans

Best Film Musical or Comedy: The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Director: Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans

Best Actress Drama: Cate Blanchett – Tar

Best Actor Drama: Austin Butler – Elvis

Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Michelle YeohEverything Everywhere All At Once

Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Supporting Actress: Angela Bassett – Wakanda Forever

Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy QuanEverything Everywhere All At Once

Best Foreign Language Film – Argentina 1985 directed by Santiago Mitre

This isn’t a Carnival Trick

Nightmare Alley

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Toni Colette, David Strathairn, Ron Perlman, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Anderson, Holt McCallany, Clifton Collins Jr

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Based upon the pulp fiction novel by William Lindsay Graham, Nightmare Alley, Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) turns his deft hand to the genre of film noir in this 1941 American thriller featuring brilliant performances by Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett.

Starting in the mid-west, we follow a low life con artist Stanton Carlisle expertly played by Cooper who gets off a train and follows a dwarf into a Carnival where he meets an assortment of weird and equally morally subversive characters from the sultry Tarot Card reader Zeena played by Toni Colette to Clem Hoatley played by Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Shadow of a Vampire, The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate) who controls a man in a cage who eats live chickens.

The first half of the spooky Carnival scenario is vividly captured on film by del Toro as Cooper’s character proves that he is a fast talker and a suave mentalist, easing gullible folk out of their money but he has bigger dreams. He yearns for the big grift: the wealthy clients of the urban metropolis.

Dragging his equally suspicious girlfriend Molly Cahill wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Rooney Mara (Carol, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) along to Chicago, they decide to turn their glamourous tricks on wealthy city folk until he is caught in the cross hairs of psychiatrist Dr Lillith Ritter, the ultimate femme fatale in a brilliant and sassy turn by double Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), who wears brilliant red lipstick and carries an ivory handled pistol in her evening gown.

Dr Ritter psychoanalyses the suave Stanton skilfully manipulating him into going after some wealthy clients including the eccentric recluse Ezra Grindle superbly played by Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water, The Visitor) who is paying him a fortune to conjure up the image of his dead wife.

From the authentic production design, to the expert pace and tension of the film, director Guillermo del Toro delivers a first rate film noir thriller about the rise and spectacular fall of mentalist and trickster Carlisle played by Bradley Cooper in his career best performance.

Cooper does a superb job of holding this entire film together from the seedy Mid-Western Carnival scenes, which are both dazzling and daunting to the exquisite scene between himself and Dr Ritter in one of the best scenes in the film, in which the dialogue crackles with manipulation, seduction and desire amidst temptation and cigarette smoke.

Nightmare Alley is a long film, in which the first half entirely foreshadows the second half but the talented ensemble support the two stars of the show in this riveting, psychological thriller which eventually leaves blood on the passageways. From the gorgeous golden Art Deco interiors, to the beautiful costumes, Nightmare Alley leaves nothing to chance.

This isn’t a carnival trick, it’s authentic cinematic entertainment which the supremely talented director Guillermo del Toro excels at delivering. In this case, it’s a pure cinematic homage to the original 1947 film starring Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell and Helen Walker.

Strictly for sophisticated cinema goers, soak up the atmosphere of sinister intentions in 1941 America and watch the film noir Nightmare Alley, which gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

Definite Oscar nominations for Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and David Strathairn as the drunkard trickster Pete.

Extinction Event Deluxe

Don’t Look Up

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Melanie Lynskey, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel

Film Rating 5.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes

This film is only available to watch on the Netflix streaming service.

Similar to the absolutely disastrous 2019 film Cats in which The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper assembled an A list cast with high expectations, only for the film version of the musical Cats to absolutely flop at the box office and be completely ridiculed, director Adam McKay’s 2021 film Don’t Look Up is as big a disaster as the comet which threatens to obliterate earth and kill everyone including the vacuous media personalities, the egotistical politicians and the general American population encapsulated by a stoner performance by Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) as Jude.

Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice) unfortunately fail to lift this disastrous black comedy. Don’t Look Up just proves the theory that Netflix can attract A List stars to act in dreadful films. Next time all their agents should be shot at dawn.

Thankfully I never watched this film in a cinema.

With the exception of director Jane Campion’s excellent The Power of the Dog, Netflix films do not have that much to offer. Let’s face it the streaming service is facing a content crisis, now that everyone is back in cinemas watching Spiderman, Dune and No Time to Die.

Back to Don’t Look Up, while aspects of the script were rather funny, it really just shows how vacuous and gullible the American public are, believing everything they see in the media and on Television. That’s according to Adam McKay’s script and not my personal opinion.

Unlike Adam McKay’s brilliant take on the 2008 financial crisis in the critically acclaimed The Big Short and his even better take on politics in 2018’s Vice, Don’t Look Up falls way short of these two superior films. Even the satire and black comedy is not written with intelligence or an ounce of wit.

Don’t Look Up appears to be a spiralling pastiche of an impending extinction event in which everyone from the crazy politicians embodied by Meryl Streep’s American President Orlean and her ambitious son and chief of staff Jason wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Jonah Hill (Moneyball, The Wolf of Wall Street) to the incredibly vacuous cougar and TV presenter Brie Evantree in the Daily Rip brilliantly played by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, all of whom seem blissfully unaware of a large meteor heading towards earth and wiping out humanity.

While Leonardo DiCaprio seems to just replicate his anxiety ridden performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to a much lesser degree in Don’t Look Up and Jennifer Lawrence looks slightly confused at being in the presence of such big name stars in a film which is essentially going to be watched on an Iphone, unfortunately this deluxe extinct level event fizzles out despite the ensemble cast. Don’t Look Up is everything that genuine cinema shouldn’t be.

Don’t Look Up gets a film rating of 5.5 out of 10 and thankfully one doesn’t need to purchase a cinema ticket to watch this disaster. You can just pause the film and look away.

Diamonds are A Girl’s Best Friend

Oceans 8

Director: Gary Ross

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Elliott Gould, Richard Armitage, Dakota Fanning, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina

Pleasantville director Gary Ross assembles a truly star studded female cast in the feminine version of Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans 11 starring Oscar winners Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) alongside Oscar nominated British actress Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove), Rihanna and Sarah Paulson (Carol, 12 Years a Slave) as together they pull off a daring jewellery heist during the prestigious Met Gala held annually by Vogue Magazine at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, a newly paroled con artist who teams up with the streetwise New Yorker Lou played by Blanchett as they devise a cunning plan to rob the Met Gala and place the blame on Debbie’s egotistical art dealing ex-boyfriend Claude Becker played by Richard Armitage.

In short, Oceans 8 is a cleverly written revenge flick with lots of diamonds, a fabulous cast and glamorous settings beautifully assisted by comedian James Corden as the extremely thorough insurance investigator John Frazier, who adds some dry British humour to the entirely fashionable affair.

Audiences should watch out for some well-placed cameo’s by veteran Oscar nominated star Elliott Gould (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice) as Reuben and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, War of the Worlds) as Penelope Stern.

What holds Oceans 8 together is the fantastic onscreen chemistry between Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, all of whom make this fashionable heist film thoroughly entertaining.

Oceans 8 is an enjoyable con film with a refreshingly female take on the heist genre, proving that women can do it just as brilliantly as men, which is especially pertinent in the wake of the momentous MeToo movement which rocked Hollywood in 2017 amidst a series of sexual abuse scandals.

Definitely a glittering film for the ladies, Oceans 8 is an ideal girls night out adventure heist with beautiful clothes, diamonds to die for and an inside peak at possibly one of the most glamorous events on the American social circuit, the incredibly gorgeous Met Gala.

Oceans 8, with its slick cons and twisting narrative definitely proves the line immortalized by Marilyn Monroe that Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend. The film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Neon Inspired Family Feud

Thor: Ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Ray Stevenson, Scarlett Johansson, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Taika Waititi

New Zealand director Taika Waititi was Oscar nominated back in 2005 for his Live Action Short film Two Cars, One Night.

Marvel Studios recruited him to inject new life into the Thor films and that he certainly does with Thor: Ragnarok, a neon inspired family feud of mythical proportions featuring Thor played again by hunky Australian actor Chris Hemsworth along with his pesky brother Loki played by Tom Hiddleston and new addition to the family Hela played with vampish delight by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine).

Thor returns to Asgard only to discover that Loki has banished Odin, their father to a virtual retirement home. Upon a brief visit, the brothers discover that Odin, wonderfully played with a sombre delight by Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) has got an elder daughter Hela who was banished from Asgard for being the Goddess of Death and wreaking havoc on the nine realms.

Cate Blanchett relishes her role as Hela, the Goddess of Death, inspired by Maleficent and certainly quite intent on destroying her defiant younger brothers.

Thor and Loki land up on a weird dystopian outer planet overseen by the demonic Grand Master, a superbly camp performance by Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), who immediately instructs Thor to fight in a massive arena against a formidable beast: The Hulk. Enter Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, played with bewildering amusement by Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Foxcatcher, Spotlight).

Eventually Thor gets Loki, The Hulk and a hard-drinking Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson last seen in the HBO series Westworld, to return to Asgard to defeat the demonic Hela who is assisted by a reluctant henchman Skurge played by Karl Urban (Dredd, Star Trek and The Loft).

The only criticism is that the middle section of Thor: Ragnarok detracts from the film’s central narrative, which is essentially a legendary family conflict.

Thor: Ragnarok is a fun-filled comic book film which thankfully does not take itself or the characters too seriously and is a clear indication that Marvel films are definitely trying to create memorable characters for the lucrative toy manufacturing market just before Christmas.

As with all the latest Marvel films, franchise opportunities abound. Thor: Ragnarok is light-hearted and hellishly entertaining. Audiences should look out for a great cameo by Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as the illusive Doctor Strange.

If audiences enjoyed The Avengers and the first two Thor films, then they will definitely savour Thor: Ragnarok which is comically inspired from another Marvel hit franchise, The Guardians of the Galaxy.

Thor: Ragnarok gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Martini’s and Cigarettes

Carol

carol

Director: Todd Haynes

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, Cory Michael Smith

Far From Heaven director Todd Haynes adapts the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt for the big screen in the visually beautiful and meticulously directed film Carol featuring Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine) and Oscar Nominee Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as unlikely lovers in New York during Christmas in 1952.

Similar to Far from Heaven which also featured a love story which was socially prohibited back in the 1950’s, Carol focuses on a love affair between an affluent married woman Carol Aird and a young shop assistant Therese Belivet wonderfully played by Mara. Blanchett brings a nuanced perspective to the role of Carol, a strong willed and affluent woman whose sexual desires for the same sex are severely limited by the narrow social attitudes of the early 1950’s America, particularly mirrored in the attitude of her affronted soon to be ex-husband Harge Aird superbly played by Kyle Chandler, who typically views his wife and daughter as his patriarchal properties which need to be possessed.

Carol has to be viewed through the long struggle for international LGBT rights which is now enjoyed by many but wasn’t the case some sixty years ago. Carol like Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain depicts a socially taboo homosexual love affair which affects not only the lovers involved but also their respective partners or suitors. In this case, it is Therese’s suitor Richard Simco played by Jake Lacy who is mystified as to why Therese is constantly rebuffing his advances.

Carol’s situation is more complex as she is married with a husband and a little daughter, which really speaks to the emotional pull of the entire film. As Carol and Therese embark on a cross-country jaunt from New York to Chicago, their travels reflect their own emotional and sexual journeys as they soon realize how deeply they have fallen for each other despite the consequences.

After their initial encounter in a swanky New York department store whereby shop assistant Therese persuades the chain-smoking and glamourous Carol Aird to rather buy a train set than a doll for her daughter as a Christmas present, Haynes makes a valid point about the perceived gender typical socialization of children and how sexuality itself is in fact a social construct.

carol_ver2

Their scandalous affair is assisted by Carol’s ex-lover Abby Gerhard played by Sarah Paulson and as those they affect soon realize what has occurred, it’s the peripheral characters conservative viewpoints on morality which frames this tender and beautifully constructed love affair characterized by Martini’s and cigarettes.

far_from_heaven

Carol has generated a lot of critical acclaim because Blanchett and Mara both have the acting abilities to pull off such nuanced and complex performances especially in the hands of a brilliant director like Todd Haynes who after his stunning mini-series Mildred Pierce and his earlier films Far From Heaven and I’m Not There is an artist at the peak of his creative powers, both in terms of semiotics and visual arts.

Carol is highly recommended viewing, extraordinarily acted, beautifully designed and most notably directed with a flair for detail which is rarely glimpsed in the 21st century’s era of effects laden contemporary cinema.

Viewers that enjoy a mature adult drama, should definitely watch Carol, a film which does not resort to explicit nudity or shock value but critically evaluates an extraordinary love affair taking place in an exceptionally conservative era of American history.

67th BAFTA Awards

THE  67th BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 16th February 2014 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

12_years_a_slave_2

Best Film: 12 Years a Slave

gravity_ver3

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave

blue_jasmine_ver2

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

captain_phillips_ver2

Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

american_hustle

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Rising Star Award: Will Poulter

Best British Film: Gravity

Best Original Screenplay: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell – American Hustle

philomena

Best Adapted Screenplay: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope – Philomena

gatsby-poster

Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby

Great Beauty - la_grande_bellezza_ver3

Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty directed by Paolo Sorrento (Italy)

Source: 67th BAFTA AWARDS

 

 

58th BAFTA Awards

THE  58TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 12th February 2005 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

aviator

Best Film: The Aviator

vera_drake

Best Director: Mike Leigh – Vera Drake

ray_ver2

Best Actor: Jamie Foxx – Ray

vera_drake

Best Actress: Imelda Staunton – Vera Drake

closer

Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen – Closer

aviator_ver5

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett – The Aviator

My_Summer_of_Love

Best British Film: My Summer of Love directed Pawel Pawlikowski

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Best Original Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

sideways

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sideways by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor

Best Costume Design: Vera Drake

motorcycle_diaries_ver2

Best Foreign Language Film: The Motorcycle Diaries directed by Walter Salles

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/58th_British_Academy_Film_Awards

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