Posts Tagged ‘Geoffrey Rush’

The Quest for Poseidon’s Trident

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Directors: Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg

Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, David Wenham, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stephen Graham

Viewers can be forgiven for thinking that they are on a spectacular Disney theme park ride, when watching the highly entertaining opening sequence of Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge co-directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge was released in South Africa, Europe and the UK under this title but is also known as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in America possibly for trademark reasons.

This fifth installment of the hugely successful Pirates franchise which made stars out of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, not to mention cementing Johnny Depp’s status as a massive box office drawcard, is maximum entertainment. Depp’s performance as the wayward pirate Captain Jack Sparrow was Oscar nominated back in 2003 for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

As the film opens we see Australian actor Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent, Gods of Egypt) as Henry Turner conversing miraculously underwater with his trapped father Will Turner played again by Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End).

Henry makes a pact to find Poseidon’s Trident which will undo all the curses which have befallen pirates and sailors alike in the turbulent waters of the Caribbean, thus freeing his father from his watery confinement.

Under another such curse is Salazar, the archetypal villain wonderfully played with a Spanish accent by Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) who is a ghostly pirate trapped for eternity in an unholy state keen on exacting revenge on every pirate and sailor he encounters, more specifically Captain Jack Sparrow who he blames for tricking him into sailing into the Devil’s Triangle, cursing his Spanish crew forever.

After an attention grabbing opening sequence involving a chaotic bank robbery on the British controlled island of Saint Martin, Captain Sparrow reluctantly gathers his crew again including Henry Turner and newcomer Carina Smyth played by Kaya Scodelario as they escape the island and set sail in search of the elusive Poseidon’s trident. The bloodthirsty Salazar has made an unlikely pact with another of Sparrow’s enemies Hector Barbossa wonderfully played by Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine).

While Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is fantastic entertainment with alluring special effects, the plot and direction is occasionally ambivalent lacking a unity of vision in certain sequences.

Besides the swashbuckling, the cameo appearances and a relentlessly fast narrative which taps into a pervasive Pirates mythology which subscribes to the notion that they are outlaws, reckless and merciless, this version of Pirates of the Caribbean is worth seeing especially since it deftly introduces the franchise to a younger audience with the love affair between Carina and Henry, promising of more sequels to come.

Perhaps the action might seem implausible or downright fantastical, but Pirates delivers on its franchise promise and gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Fans of the previous films, will enjoy this version especially the welcome re-appearance of its most notable anti-hero, the rum-sipping, wise-cracking and perverse Jack Sparrow played with suitable delinquency by Johnny Depp.

Egyptian Escapism

Gods of Egypt

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Director: Alex Proyas

Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Bryan Brown, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler, Emma Booth, Chadwick Boseman, Geoffrey Rush, Courtney Eaton, Elodie Yung

Escapist cinema is fun but often its never particularly good, just merely entertaining. This is the case with the latest film from Knowing director Alex Proyas who imaginatively captures the golden world of Egyptian mythology in the action adventure swashbuckler, Gods of Egypt.

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After a fabulous introduction to the Egyptian Gods and their hierarchy, a muscular Horus, son of Egyptian God Osiris, played by Game of Thrones hunk and Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau finds himself at the centre of a bitter family feud between his father, Osiris played by Australian actor Bryan Brown (Australia, Gorillas in the Mist) and his evil brother Set, the God of Darkness, wonderfully played with just the right dash of malevolence by Gerard Butler (Olympus has Fallen, 300).

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There is inevitably a spectacular clash of the Gods witnessed by the mere mortals, ancient Egypt is plunged into slavery and servitude and one mortal, the brave and ambitious Bek played by the young actor Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) befriends Horus after he assists the blighted God with his eyesight. The malicious Set blinded Horus and plucked out his eyes, hiding one in the cavernous centre of a pyramid.

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Horus and Bek embark on a journey of revenge and aim to overthrow the almighty Set whilst, even appealing to the supreme deity Ra, the Egyptian Sun God, lavishly played by Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech). British actor Rufus Sewell makes a brief appearance as Egyptian obelisk builder Urshu who serves as Set’s henchman. Audiences should also watch out for Chadwick Boseman in a rather camp portrayal as Thoth, the vain God of wisdom.

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In the meantime, Bek has to save his love, the ravishing Zaya played by Courtney Eaton (Mad Max: Fury Road), from plunging eternally into the seven circles of the Egyptian underworld after she is mortally wounded. Set has his own plans of upsetting the underworld’s delicate balance and plunging both mortals and Egyptian Gods into abysmal chaos.

If this all sounds a bit much, it probably is. This is Egyptian Escapism at its best. Whilst the cast do a fair good job of bringing the glamorous CGI laden adventure story up to a believable level of interest, the plot falters as much as the landscape and pure escapism does not quite hold up so well.

Unlike Star Wars: The Force Awakens which already has a cult following and is pure Sci-Fi, Gods of Egypt is in the precarious realm of fantasy, and unfortunately the cast are not mainstream enough to sustain the believability of the plot.

Whilst the costumes and production design would appeal to any budding Egyptologist, Gods of Egypt does not elevate itself as a fascinating mythical adventure but more as an escapist adventure story. While Gods of Egypt is fun to watch, it is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Clash of the Titans, Hercules and Tarsem Singh’s The Immortals, but unfortunately not as good.

 

 

 

 

64th BAFTA Awards

THE  64th BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 13th February 2011 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film: The King’s Speech

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Best Director: David Fincher – The Social Network

Best Actor: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech

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Best Actress: Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech

Rising Star Award: Tom Hardy

Best British Film: The King’s Speech directed by Tom Hooper

Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler’s – The King’s Speech

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin – The Social Network

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Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland

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Best Foreign Language Film: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden)

Source: 64th BAFTA Awards

Death as the Narrator

The Book Thief

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Director: Brian Percival

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse, Kirsten Block, Nico Liersch, Rainer Bock, Ben Schnetzer

The cinematic adaptation of Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel The Book Thief by screenwriter Michael Petroni retains the central theme of Death as the Narrator, particularly appropriate as it follows the life of Liesel as she is adopted by a German family in a smaller village on the brink of World War II and the encroaching tide of Nazism which was to engulf Germany and lead it into War.

The BBC hit series Downton Abbey British director Brian Percival’s adaption of The Book Thief like the novel focuses on the story of Liesel Meminger beautifully played by Sophie Nelisse and her friendship with a local German boy Rudi Steiner wonderfully played by Nico Liersch and essentially the narrative is framed by a child’s vision of a brutal and cruel world in which books are being burned and oppression is rife.

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Percival sticks to framing the fortunes of Liesel and her adopted parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann superbly played by Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) and Emily Watson (War Horse) and the young girls desire to become completely literate discovering words as a means to heal the loss of her brother and make sense of the anarchy and horror of approaching war which is about to disrupt their tranquil existence.

To complicate matters, the Hubermanns harbour a Jewish refugee Max played by Ben Schnetzer as part of a debt that Herr Hubermann had to a deceased German Jewish man who saved his life during the First World War, bringing the sense that War begets War. Liesel strikes up a friendship with the youth in the cellar, wonderfully sensitive performance who soon realizes that by remaining there he is putting the lives of the entire family at risk as the Nazi’s edge closer to the final solution, Hitler’s plan to exterminate all the Jews in the Nazi Reich, which included all German occupied territories and those countries like Poland conquered during the German invasion during World War II. In a reverse of the bombing of wartime London in Stephen Frears’s magnificent film Mrs Henderson Presents, The Book Thief shows the average German civilian population also being stuck in bunkers as the Allies bombed their towns and cities.

The Book Thief is not about taking sides or points of view whether German or Allied, but effectively illustrates the inevitability of death, especially as it narrates life more poignantly and aggressively in times of war and the tragic effect it has on children. Death in this case is a voice over throughout the film, narrated by Roger Allam, discussing quite elegantly the taking of souls as people die. Grim stuff indeed, but made so lyrical by the hauntingly beautiful musical score by John Williams, The Book Thief‘s only Oscar nomination for 2014.

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The film is lyrical, irrepressible, sad and brilliantly acted especially by the young stars Nelisse and Liersch as the adult actors (Rush and Watson) stand back and allow these thespian proteges to shine so beautifully in such a sombre story of repression, devastation and loss. Recommended viewing for cinema lovers that enjoyed films like Stephen Daldry’s Oscar winning film The Reader or Michael Haneke’s excellent Austrian foreign language film The White Ribbon. German film actors Kirsten Block (The Reader) and Rainer Bock also from War Horse round out the cast.

2010 Toronto Film Festival

2010 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

TIFF 2010

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

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Opening Night Film: Score, A Hockey Musical directed by Michael McGowan starring Nelly Furtado, Olivia Newton-John, Stephen McHattie & Noah Reid

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People Choice Award: The King’s Speech directed by Tom Hooper starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pierce, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle

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Best Canadian Feature Film: Incendies directed by Denis Villeneuve starring , &

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

 

Elusive as a Mermaids Tear

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seems to be weighted down in the middle by a plot which falters considerably in managing the antics of Captain Jack Sparrow competing against Blackbeard in their quest for the fountain of youth without the support of his original team. Johnny Depp reprises his role as the outrageous pirate which garnered him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in the first film in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. While On Stranger Tides is in the hands of Chicago and Nine director Rob Marshall and not Gore Verbinski who directed the first three Pirates films, is lighter in tone, the action less dramatic and a meandering storyline which is as elusive as a mermaids tear.

Captain Jack is Back

Gone are Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom who did not sign up for the fourth film leaving Captain Jack Sparrow adrift in a new version fighting Blackbeard and wooing the mercurial Angelica, played by Penelope Cruz, who looks equally surprised at being cast in a Walt Disney film. Cruz is far better suited to art house films like Vicky Christina Barcelona and Volver, than in a Hollywood Blockbuster, although her rendition of Angelica as a fiery counterpoint to Sparrow’s wild antics  is certainly worth the praise.

Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Captain Barbarossa and Ian McShane plays Blackbeard with an elegant malice, emanating villainy and evil in all his immoral endeavours. Johnny Depp does not manage to top his original performance in the first Pirates film, as by now his Keith Richards style take on Jack Sparrow as over the top has been all too familiarized. From such a versatile actor like Depp, he requires exciting characters to stretch his formidable talents, which director Tim Burton understands beautifully casting him in most of his films from Edward Scissorhands, to Sweeney Todd and more recently Alice in Wonderland.

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides should have been called the Fountain of Youth, while the entire characters quest for the illustrious fountain whose powers can only be harnessed with a mermaids tear has a plotline dangerously close to Raiders of the Lost Ark. After a brilliant start in the grimy streets of Georgian London and a daring and explosive action sequence, On Stranger Tides becomes adrift both figuratively and literally as the search for the fountain of youth is misguided by a floundering subplot of a Christian missionary being seduced by a coy mermaid, one can’t help feel that Sparrow was the only one carrying the voyages further without support from his winning team. The success of the first three films hinged on the brilliant combination of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly as the trio who bravely battle pirates on the high seas from Captain Barbarossa to Davy Jones to monsters and sea goddesses like Calypso.

In this fourth installment, although Cruz and Depp are tantalizing in the main roles there is not enough screen time for both these highly competent actors to truly develop a brilliant repartee. Much of the witty and comic  dialogue is smothered by the action sequences which had the timing been perfect, On Stranger Tides would have shared the success of the preceding Pirates films, which is more to do with director Rob Marshall whose talents are more adept at directing musicals and historical epics than a Hollywood special effects laden blockbuster. Director Rob Marshall vision of Pirates is more lavish, sexier and less action packed.

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides will surely draw the crowds but is in no way a superior film when viewed as part of a Franchise, and while it begins brilliantly, the middle seems bogged down with subplot and the ending lacks any spectacular finale demonstrated in At World’s End. Disney seems to be taking all the viewers for a long and illustrious journey on a voyage which is in danger of losing its lustre and originality. Bring back Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann to help Jack Sparrow reinvigorate the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Transforming a Future King

The King’s Speech

In the age of radio and the approaching storm clouds of World War II, King George VI takes over the British throne after his elder brother King Edward VIII abdicates in favour of marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Tom Hooper’s superb drama The King’s Speech is remarkable in the three central performances by the fantastic Colin Firth as King George VI, Helena Bonham Carter as his wife Queen Elizabeth and Geoffrey Rush as an exuberant and unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Coupled with a brilliant score by Alexandre Desplat who did the music for Stephen Frears’s drama The Queen and using an evocative and almost gloomy backdrop of post-depression London, The King’s Speech is a film that deftly combines the historical enormity of the abdication crisis and the approaching war, with a far more personal affliction of a reluctant King who has suffered since childhood with a terrible speech impediment.

In the intelligently scripted scenes, written with panache by David Siedler between Lionel and Bertie as King George VI was known, Siedler portrays an unconventional Antipodean speech therapist who recognizes the potential of a prickly nobleman destined to become a great King and gives him back the confidence to rule a nation at a time of immense uncertainty. Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth are in top form as commoner unleashing the potential of a King and slowly uncovering the psychological stumbling blocks associated with such a speech disability as a Prince suffering the effects of a strict Victorian upbringing and weighted with the destiny of being 2nd in line to the British Throne.


Director Tom Hooper not only shows the historical developments of late 1930s Britain but also the rapid and transforming power of radio and the potential of this new medium to address all corners of the then expansive colonial Empire. Much was at stake for Bertie to conquer his affliction and give Britain and its colonies hope and inspire confidence through the power of radio as the storm clouds gathered with the rapid brutal expansion of the Third Reich, culminating in the outbreak of World War II in September 1939.

The Kings Speech is funny, immensely moving and by far the best film about the British Monarchy to be made in recent years and can stand proudly as a companion to such classics as The Madness of King George and The Queen.

The Kings’ Speech is just the right vehicle to recapture the imagination of audiences worldwide to the powerful allure and the enduring reign of the British monarchy. Colin Firth deserves all the accolades already heaped on him for his subtle and multi-layered performance as Bertie and is supported brilliantly by Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter along with stolid cameos by Michael Gambon as the patriarchal King George V and Claire Bloom as the stoical Queen Mary.

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