Posts Tagged ‘Ed Harris’

Time is the Enemy

Top Gun: Maverick

Director: Joseph Kosinki

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Val Kilmer, Ed Harris, Monica Barbaro 

Running Time: 2 hours and 11 minutes

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Only the Brave and Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski does a sterling job directing the highly anticipated long awaited sequel to the 1986 smash hit Top Gun directed by the late British director Tony Scott. Fortunately, superstar Tom Cruise reprises his role as test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he returns to the San Diego Airforce base to train a new set of elite air force pilots including Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw the son of the original Rooster and Maverick’s wingman in the 1986 film.

This time the younger Rooster is played superbly by prolific actor Miles Teller of Whiplash fame as he tries to prove himself as a test fighter pilot while reconciling his father’s legacy and his grudge against Maverick, the less than orthodox fighter pilot instructor.

Following a glittering and highly successful film premiere at the 2022 Festival du Cannes, in which Tom Cruise and co-stars showed off Top Gun: Maverick to the Cinema world and now on world wide release, Top Gun: Maverick as a 2022 cinematic spectacle does not disappoint as the screenwriters skillfully weave elements of the original Top Gun film into this stunning adrenalin fueled film filled with bravado, awe-inspiring aviation stunts and a group of muscular and strong test pilots all vying to be the best. Watch out for the infamous beach scene.

Pete Mitchell’s only concern in teaching his new group of recruits besides building team spirit is to make sure every member of the team comes home from their nefarious mission against an omniscient and unmentionable enemy alive and kicking. Maverick, which is his call sign, tells all of the young aspiring pilots, don’t think, just do it because time is the enemy.

Throughout the story of Top Gun: Maverick there are hints to the original film which was a 1980’s smash hit blockbuster and launched Tom Cruise as a superstar.

Complete with glossy shots of Maverick riding a motorbike into the Californian sun or assisting his love interest Penny wonderfully played by Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) steering a huge yacht off the coast of San Diego, Top Gun: Maverick works as a glossy and sleek homage to the 1980’s action film and a tribute to military aviation, which does not disappoint. In fact it glows in admiration at the courage and spectacle of fighter jets doing dog fights across icy landscapes.

As a film and a fitting sequel to the original, Top Gun: Maverick excels on every level and shines through as Tom Cruise’s passion project a film that he had to get made right and with the correct co-stars.

All the supporting cast of Top Gun: Maverick are superb including Oscar nominee Ed Harris (Pollock) as Chester Cain, Jon Hamm as Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson, actor Bill Pullman’s son Lewis Pullman as Lt Robert “Bob” Floyd and of course the other alpha male of the squadron Glen Powell as Lt Jake “Hangerman” Seresin.

Audiences should watch the original film first, however Top Gun: Maverick is equally thrilling providing a stand alone big screen spectacle of flying, action and tension seldom seen in 21st century cinema.

Saturated with golden Californian sunshine and a huge dash of nostalgia, Top Gun: Maverick is a brilliant aviation film and will certainly keep audiences engaged especially in the last section of the film as Maverick and the young Rooster land in enemy territory.

As an adrenalin fuelled fighter jet action film, Top Gun: Maverick gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing only to be appreciated on the big screen.  

A Crushing Responsibility

The Lost Daughter

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Jack Farthing, Dagmara Dominiczyk

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 1 minute

Taking its inspiration right out of the equally sinister 1990 film The Comfort of Strangers, directed by Paul Schrader, actress turned director Maggie Gyllenhaal directs an entirely unsettling film The Lost Daughter all set on a remote island in Greece, populated by some fascinating characters including some menacing beach goers.

Directors seldom make purely psychological thrillers nowadays which were extremely fashionable in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is with a stroke of luck that Maggie Gyllenhaal managed to cast the granddaughter of Tippi Hendren, the star of such classic Alfred Hitchcock films such as The Birds and Marnie, Dakota Johnson (The Social Network, Bad Times at the El Royale) alongside Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) in The Lost Daughter.

This film is mostly shot in extreme close up, which gives audiences an unsettling intimacy with the characters involved all of whom are slightly off kilter particularly Leda, another stunning performance by Olivia Colman, who plays a lonesome middle age comparative literature professor who travels to Greece to take a break from her daughters back home.

On the exotic and hot Greek island, she has a sinister encounter with the highly strung Nina, a devilishly beautiful performance by Dakota Johnson and Nina’s extended family which are vaguely hinted to be part of some nefarious crime organization.

Leda is an emotionally damaged woman contemplating her own role as a mother, as she often reflects back to her younger self, which are featured in a series of raunchy flashbacks featuring an absolutely superb Jessie Buckley (Doolittle, Misbehaviour) who deserves an Oscar nomination for her role as the younger Leda as she is navigating motherhood and her fractious relationship with her average male partner Joe, played by Jack Farthing. For the younger Leda desires more and yearns for another existence than just being a mother to two very demanding young daughters.

The younger Leda embarks on a passionate affair with a fellow professor, a wonderfully erudite Professor Hardy played by Peter Sarsgaard (An Education, Jackie, Black Mass, Kinsey).

As The Lost Daughter weaves it’s complex narrative between the past and the present, the older Leda must confront her weird emotional impulses and her strange flirtations with the men on the island, particularly Lyle played by Oscar nominee Ed Harris (The Hours, Pollack, The Truman Show, Apollo 13) and the younger beach boy Toni played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Based on the novel by the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter is a brooding mix of menace and desire, a psychologically twisted tale of crushing responsibilities, abandonment and reconnection, held together by two exceptionally good performances by Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley.

Psychological thrillers generally do not have mass appeal, but director Maggie Gyllenhaal does a skilful job of dissecting a complicated issue around maternity and natural responsibility while casually mixes it up with forbidden sexual desire and pervasive fear.

The Lost Daughter gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is remarkable for its haunting unique quality as a cinematic gem.

The Dutchboy Scenario

Geostorm

Director: Dean Devlin

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Amr Waked, Richard Schiff, Mare Winningham

Scottish actor Gerard Butler (300, Olympus has Fallen) does his I will save the world routine in director Dean Devlin’s fantastic disaster epic Geostorm as Jake Lawson alongside Jim Sturgess (21, Cloud Atlas) as his younger conniving brother Max Lawson and the steely secret service agent Sarah Wilson played by Australian actress Abbie Cornish (Bright Star, Limitless, Robocop).

Romanian/ German actress Alexander Maria Lara (Rush) plays the German astronaut Ute Fassbinder while Cuban actor Andy Gracia (The Untouchables, Night Falls on Manhattan) plays the US president Andrew Palma who is trying to prevent earth from being entirely obliterated by a series of freak weather patterns mainly controlled in space by a massive orbital satellite affectionately known as Dutchboy, named after the fabled hero who stopped the Netherlands from imminent flooding.

Think Firestorms in Hong Kong, Tsunami’s in Dubai, Freezing temperatures on the Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro and Lightning strikes at the Democratic Convention in Orlando, Florida. How ironic considering that the Donald Trump led Republican administration recently pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Veteran actor Ed Harris (The Abyss, A Beautiful Mind, Pollock) recently seen in the brilliant HBO series Westworld, a remake based on the iconic 1970’s film, plays Leonard Dekkam.

While Geostorm can be seen as a veiled attempt at illustrating Global warming, it is a reminder that no matter how invincible human beings feel, nature is more powerful. Especially considering the recent geological disasters: Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, the recent devastation in Puerto Rico and the deadly earthquake in Mexico City.

Geostorm is a fun-filled, visually impressive popcorn film with some genuine fraternal conflict between the two brothers Max and Jake, the former being a smooth talking government lobbyist (Jim Sturgess) and the latter a gung-ho action man with anger management issues (Gerard Butler).

Like Moonraker meets Gravity with overtones of An Inconvenient Truth, except Geostorm is no documentary but an epic disaster film neatly packaged for American consumerism.

My only criticism is that in Geostorm, America remains relatively unscathed while Mumbai, India, Hong Kong and Dubai are subjected to severe weather patterns which makes for stunning visuals but questionable cinematic ideology.

Audiences that enjoyed The Day After Tomorrow and Armageddon, will love Geostorm. That being said, it is a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, without seriously contemplating the 21st century phenomenon of climate change coupled with rapidly developing digital technology.

The entertaining Geostorm gets a Film Rating of 7 out of 10. Recommended for audiences that like their global warming glossy and romanticized.

This film was kindly sponsored by Ster Kinekor https://movies.sterkinekor.co.za/browsing/ Musgrave Cinemas, Durban, South Africa.

 

Deconstructing Howard Hughes

Rules Don’t Apply

Director: Warren Beatty

Cast: Lily Collins, Warren Beatty, Alden Ehrenreich, Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, Annette Bening, Haley Bennett, Hart Bochner, Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Taissa Farmiga, Oliver Platt

Legendary actor Warren Beatty returns after an almost fifteen year screen absence with his Hollywood film Rules Don’t Apply as he deftly deconstructs the later years of Howard Hughes in Hollywood in the mid-1960’s.

If Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning film The Aviator about reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes is the starting point then Rules Don’t Apply should be the bookmark on an extraordinary man whose legendary eccentricity almost exceeded his insurmountable wealth.

Unfortunately despite a handsome production design, Rules Don’t Apply should have garnered more critical acclaim than it got. The Warren Beatty film got released in the midst of Hollywood’s diversity debate and then to add to unwarranted attention Beatty and Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway got caught in one of the biggest live Television mix-up’s in Oscar history – the mistaken announcement of Best Picture at the 2017 Oscar Awards when they incorrectly announced that Damien Chazelle’s La La Land had won Best Picture when in fact Barry Jenkins’s film Moonlight walked away with the coveted trophy much to the world’s astonishment.

Personally I loved Rules Don’t Apply and have always been a fan of Warren Beatty’s work from his Robert Altman film McCabe and Mrs Miller opposite Julie Christie to his later work opposite his wife Annette Bening in Bugsy.

What really shines through in Rules Don’t Apply are the outstanding performances of the two young stars Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich who was so brilliant in the Coen brothers skit film Hail, Caesar!

Beatty’s performance as Howard Hughes is superb and he captures the idiosyncratic obsessive compulsive nature of the truly eccentric billionaire who invested his inherited Texan oil drilling wealth in films and aviation, even becoming acquiring a majority share in Trans World Airlines TWA. However, Hughes developed a severely debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) so aptly portrayed by both Beatty in Rules Don’t Apply and by Leonardo diCaprio in The Aviator. Howard Hughes’s OCD  caused his lifestyle to become increasingly erratic and reclusive.

Hughes’s continuous occupation with flying around the world, his bizarre womanizing and his globetrotting adventures are all perfectly captured in Rules Don’t Apply as the film’s action moves from California to Acapulco to Nicaragua and to London then back to Washington D. C.

With his immense wealth, Hughes hired dozens of would be starlets to come to L. A. and be in one of his films, all expenses paid including accommodation at lavish Hollywood Hills homes. Lily Collins plays Marla Mabry a pampered and conservative young girl who comes to Hollywood to be wooed by Hughes and star in one of his pictures. Her natural attraction for her dashing young chauffeur is clearly evident upon their first meeting. Alden Ehrenreich plays Frank Forbes, the young entrepreneurial chauffeur who immediately takes a fancy to the naive star-struck Marla.  Although both of these young people are living in the shadow of an eccentric billionaire who is supporting their stay in Los Angeles.

A bizarre love triangle develops between Marla, Frank and Howard Hughes, the latter being three times the age of the naïve young starlet who is seduced in a bungalow at the Beverley Hills Hilton after imbibing copious amounts of champagne.

Rules Don’t Apply has a fabulous and glamorous old fashioned charm which is conveyed throughout the film ably assisted with smooth direction by Beatty who also casts some veteran supporting actors including Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), Candice Bergen (Gandhi) and an excellent performance by Matthew Broderick (The Producers).

This Hollywood biopic which deconstructs the eccentric Howard Hughes gets a rating of 9 out of 10.

Essentially, Rules Don’t Apply about an extraordinarily bizarre billionaire makes for fascinating viewing. Highly recommended especially if viewers have seen The Aviator.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Hughes

 

 

 

Freeloaders Revolt

Snowpiercer

snowpiercer_ver27

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Cast: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner, Kang-ho Song, Alison Pill, Luke Pasqualino, Tomas Lemarquis

South Korean director Joon Ho Bong creates an innovative cinematic allegorical thriller Snowpiercer based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige featuring a truly international cast headed by Captain America star Chris Evans along with Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Kang-ho Song, John Hurt and Ewen Bremner.

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Set in 2031 in a second ice age, a glacial earth has completely frozen over due to an industrial accident in a bid to stop climate change, when industrialists released a chemical CW7 into the planet’s atmosphere. The remaining survivors on earth are bound up and segregated on a fast moving train known as Snowpiercer, a futuristic and brutal version of the Ark, on a circuitous track around frozen waste land.

The train is segregated into first class, economy class and the filthy freeloaders at the tail, squashed into sordid living conditions desperate to survive and are unwittingly fed blocks of protein. Naturally an uprising ensures led by Curtis played by Evans and spurned on by Gilliam to storm the different sections and finally reach the front of the train and confront the enigmatic industrialist Wilford, who built the train prior to the post-apocalyptic freeze.

snowpiercer_ver10

Snowpiercer is brutal, truly inventive cinema, a chilling allegory on the nature of unrelenting climate change and a horrifying indictment on the nature and savagery inherent in humanity. As Curtis and his gang of misfits storm various sections of the train from a hermetic aquarium to a bizarre brainwashing kindergarten to a debauched drug fueled rave, each section unravels and the perfect order of the passengers is permanently disrupted.

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The direction by Joon Ho Bong is flawless if somewhat stylized and the sound editing is fantastic, but what really makes Snowpiercer so innovative is its unique conceptualization ably assisted by a strong cast helped by a host of best supporting actors including Swinton as the Scottish accented Mason, Octavia Spencer (The Help) as Tanya and capped off by Ed Harris (The Hours, Pollock) as the chillingly demented industrialist Wilford, who is a perfect foil to Curtis’s plan of insurrection.

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Snowpiercer is unique, violent, bizarre and utterly thought-provoking, a truly original semi apocalyptic thriller with grand Orwellian themes framing the fast speeding narrative. In the tradition of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or more recently the Denzel Washington thriller The Book of Eli, Snowpiercer fits into that strange subgenre of sci-fiction mixed with apocalyptic fantasy. Chris Evans is superb as the brave leader Curtis along with an energetic Jamie Bell as Edgar last seen as an S & M Master in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac.

Snowpiercer is riveting, strange and surreal, showing to what bloody depths humans will descend to, when their survival is threatened by a ravaged and inhospitable climate.

Houston, we have a problem…

Gravity

 gravity_ver3

Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Cast: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Ed Harris

If brevity is the soul of wit, then gravity is the point of origin. Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron’s fascinating space disaster film Gravity is brief, sublime and an inspiring cinematic message to protect and appreciate the Earth. Cuaron’s impressive filmography includes Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men and the 1998 version of Great Expectations.

Unlike his friend fellow Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, Cuaron’s elegant space adventure avoids the clunky spectacle of Pacific Rim, but retains the awe setting almost the entire ninety minutes of Gravity in space, with superb sound effects and brilliant visuals.

Director Alfonso Cuaron emphasizes not just the physical weightlessness of space, but also the terrifying silence and infinity balanced by a deep visual appreciation of Planet Earth retaining all the emotional resonance as seen through the eyes of two astronauts medical engineer Ryan Stone (played against type by Oscar Winner Sandra Bullock) and the smooth talking Matt Kowalsky (naturally played by Oscar winner George Clooney).

Houston we do have a problem as American astronauts Stone and Kowalsky have to deal with being stranded in space after debris from a Russian satellite hits their NASA space ship near the international space station.

Space, the gravitational pull of the earth and the will to survive are just as much featured characters as these two stranded astronauts grapple with an escape plan to return to Mother Earth. Cuaron deliberately avoids the sophisticated social dichotomy of rich and poor so gorgeously illustrated in Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium providing no counterpoint to Stone and Kowalski’s space adventure except the enduring will of the human spirit to survive at all costs.

Gravity is really a 3D visual spectacle with an ambient score by Steven Price and beautiful groundbreaking cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki to tell a very simple story of the emotional and physical impact of human beings stranded in space. For viewers suffering from vertigo or dizziness, Gravity is not for you, as Cuaron’s direction makes the viewer feel that they are in space throughout the film, an astounding and groundbreaking visual trick, helped by strong performances by Hollywood A Listers’ Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Images of Engineer Stone in Gravity pay homage to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and the central female character with a man’s name becomes an allegorical symbol of all mankind seemingly helpless against the celestial powers, not to mention Mother Nature’s central gravitational pull. Gravity is inspiring, underwritten yet beautifully shot.

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Fans of Moon and 2001: A Space Odyssey will find Gravity spell bounding. See Gravity in 3D to experience the visual and digital impact otherwise not at all.

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