Posts Tagged ‘Jack Huston’

The Vatican of Fashion

House of Gucci

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek, Camille Cottin, Reeve Carney

Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 38 minutes

Oscar winner Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) takes on the role of Patrizia Raggiani, an ambitious young woman who catches and marries the heir to the Gucci Fashion empire Maurizio Gucci expertly played with a suitable amount of noble panache by Oscar nominee Adam Driver (Marriage Story, BlackKKlansman) in the unashamedly decadent new film by director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, American Gangster, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise) simply called House of Gucci.

Despite the length of this film, it’s the brilliant casting of fellow Oscar winners Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Maurizio’s aging but elegant Tuscan father Roldolfo Gucci, Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) as Maurizio’s flamboyant uncle Aldo and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) as the crazy cousin Paolo Gucci that makes House of Gucci so utterly enthralling and entertaining.

A wonderful tale of a family dynasty that crumbles from the inside out, of a fashion empire, once sacred that gets corrupted by greed, deceit and commercialization that to such a point, the once heralded name of Gucci turns to the young and emerging Texan fashion designer Tom Ford to revolutionize their look for the late 1990’s.

At the heart of all the backstabbing, the pure malevolence and the unadulterated affluence, is two brilliant performances by Lady Gaga and Adam Driver that hold this crazy family tale together. These two actors are the emotional core of a film which at times comes across as a soap opera, quite literally and at other times like the collapse of a deliciously evil empire that let in a scheming intruder.

Audiences should look out for some excellent supporting performances by Anjelica Huston’s nephew Jack Huston as the hard-nosed business advisor to the Gucci family Domenico de Sole and Oscar nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) as the outrageous fortune teller and clairvoyant Pina Aurienna, who influences Patrizia to go to extreme lengths to take revenge on her wayward husband Maurizio.

Similar in vein to Ridley Scott’s other film about an outrageously wealthy family the Getty’s in the Oscar nominated All The Money in the World, House of Gucci is bizarre, flamboyant and entertaining as this Italian family drama of deception, betrayal and legacy extends from Milan to Switzerland to the fashionable sidewalks of New York’s Fifth Avenue.

There are some tremendously funny lines in this film and Lady Gaga and Adam Driver deserve Oscar nominations for their roles as the infamous couple Patrizia Raggiani and Maurizio Gucci, whose fame is cemented in the fashion history books, drenched in recriminations and blood.

House of Gucci is a fascinating portrait of a family collapsing from the inside, of a notorious couple whose love sours into revenge and of a distinguished fashion house which had to evolve from an Italian family business into a multinational corporation as it reached the 21st century in order to remain appealing to the immensely wealthy American and Japanese markets.

For its flaws and crazy foibles, House of Gucci gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 but audiences should see it for the electrifying performances of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver.

The duo are both Gucci guilty and gorgeous.

Betrayal and Remorse

The Irishman

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Ray Romano, Jack Huston, Jesse Plemons

Please note this film is currently only available on the Streaming Service Netflix and had a very limited theatrical release in cinemas.

When I heard that the latest Martin Scorsese film, The Irishman was only going to have a Netflix release I was deeply perplexed. Scorsese has always championed the art of cinema, of audiences watching films in a cinema. Especially his films. Scorsese is also passionate about film restoration both digitally and for preservation purposes.

Considering that The Irishman runs for 3 and a half hours, I can understand why Scorsese choose the world’s most famous streaming service to release his latest masterpiece. Most of Scorsese’s other films run for under 3 hours which is manageable in a cinematic format and palatable for audiences to sit through.

The Irishman is exceptionally long but it is worth the reward considering the talent that Scorsese procured to act in this exceptional film about the mafia, hitmen and Union boss Jimmy Hoffa. His long-time collaborator Oscar winner Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, The Godfather Part II) is sensational as Frank Sheeran who is basically in every frame of this digital masterpiece as is Oscar winner Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) who is utterly captivating as the Union Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa who mysteriously disappeared in Detroit in 1975.

Equally brilliant is Oscar winner Joe Pesci (Goodfellas) who came out of acting retirement to star as mafia heavyweight Russell Bufalino who answered to the Detroit and Chicago mafia.

Unfortunately, the part of Frank’s disapproving daughter Peggy Sheeran played by Oscar winner Anna Paquin (The Piano) is underwritten and not fully utilized especially in the crucial scenes between her and her father who is basically a hitman for the mob or as some people like to say “I Heard You Paint Houses”.

Al Pacino really steals the show as Jimmy Hoffa a larger than life character who refuses to buckle to pressure from the Mafia even when he allowed them to use the union’s immense pension money to fund the mob’s gambling operations in Las Vegas and Atlantic City in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

The Irishman could have had 30 minutes shaved off the film and Scorsese could have released it in cinemas as I personally found the last section of this epic tale dragged considerably especially when trying to view it on a mobile device.

Superb performances by De Niro, Pesci and Pacino make The Irishman worth watching but viewers be sure to have three and a half hours spare. It’s a stunning film but could have been edited sufficiently to condense the exceptionally large canvas that Scorsese always tries to paint, except in this case it’s a streaming canvas which has made Netflix even wealthier.

The Irishman gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is recommended viewing purely for the phenomenal acting of such veteran stars as De Niro, Pesci and of course Pacino who is a revelation.

Let’s see how The Irishman fares during the 2020 Awards Season although if Al Pacino doesn’t win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role, then that is a great cinematic injustice.

The Nancy Starling

Their Finest

Director: Lone Scherfig

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Richard E. Grant, Jeremy Irons, Jake Lacy, Eddie Marsan, Helen McCrory, Rachael Stirling

Danish director Lone Scherfig delivers another nuanced and unexpectedly unsettling film, Their Finest featuring a superb performance by Gemma Arterton (The Prince of Persia, Quantum of Solace) in one of her best roles yet. Director of The Riot Club, One Day and An Education, Scherfig is brilliant at capturing the peculiarities of the British social system, exemplified in The Riot Club and perfected in her latest film, Their Finest.

Set in 1940 during the Blitz, while London was being mercilessly bombed by the Germans at the beginning of World War II, Their Finest focuses on the art of propaganda about Arterton who is asked to become a scriptwriter on a film aimed to boosted the morale of the British public particularly from a woman’s perspective when most of the men were being conscripted to fight the war.

Arterton plays the feisty Welsh woman Caitrin Cole whose relationship with a struggling artist Ellis Cole played by Jack Huston (Ben-Hur, The Riot Club) is precarious at best. Caitrin’s co-writer is the cynical Tom Buckley wonderfully played by Sam Claflin (Me Before You) who keeps on advising her to trim the fat on any story which appears too verbose.

The story in question is how twin sisters managed to save some Allied soldiers off the French coast during the Dunkirk evacuation aboard their father’s fishing vessel The Nancy Starling.

The embellishment of the story and its natural progression to a morale boosting piece of cinema, aptly named The Nancy Starling is the task of Caitlyn and Tom who has to contend not only with the vested interests of the Ministry of Information represented by Roger Swain wonderfully played by Richard E. Grant but also the War Ministry represented by the Secretary of War played by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (The Reversal of Fortune).

What elevates the grim narrative of Their Finest, a city under siege with Londoners being randomly killed off during incessant bombings is the appearance of fading film star Ambrose Hilliard acidly played with dark humour by character actor Bill Nighy (Love Actually, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Pride).

There are some precious moments between Nighy and his new agent Sophie Smith played by Helen McCrory who takes over Hilliard’s career after her brother Sammy Smith, a brief cameo by Eddie Marsan, is unexpectedly killed in the bombings.

Based upon the novel by Lissa Evans entitled “Their Finest Hour and a Half”, Their Finest is a remarkably interesting war film about the art of propaganda, the process of scripting a film and a precarious love triangle, particularly noticeable when thwarted affections develop between Tom Buckley and Caitrin Cole.

The only criticism is that Their Finest could have been edited more efficiently as the dramatic pace of the film lags at times and this efficiency in getting the story across would have prevented the narrative from becoming slightly repetitive and drawn out.

Yet despite its imperfections, Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin are brilliant as the young creative screenwriters trying to negotiate a budding romance amidst their own artistic differences.

Audiences should look out for a particularly tart performance by Diana Rigg’s daughter Rachael Stirling as the propaganda film’s sharp tongued production secretary Phyl Moore.

Their Finest as a wartime dramatic comedy gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10. This witty and poignant British film will be enjoyed by those that share the English sentiment of stoically soldiering on in the face of burdening hardships without resorting to emotional melodrama. Which is what the British did during the Blitz.

 

The Libertine Circle

Kill Your Darlings

kill_your_darlings

Director: John Krokidas
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgwick

The Beat generations’ pivotal year at Columbia University in 1944 is the engrossing starting point for this literary murder story, Kill Your Darlings, featuring a superb performance by Dane DeHaan as the disturbed anarchist Lucien Carr who has been under the influence of David Kamerer played by Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame. Enter the freshman and aspiring poet Allen Ginsberg sensitively played by Daniel Radcliffe who has fled a disturbed domestic environment to attend Columbia University and study English Literature.

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Soon Ginsberg falls under the spell bounding attention of Carr and the two strike up an intensely homoerotic friendship and Carr introduces Ginsberg to William S. Buroughs wonderfully underplayed by an unrecognizable Ben Foster and Jack Kerouac, played by Jack Huston nephew of Hollywood stars Angelica and Danny Huston and grandson of legendary director John Huston.
Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac fueled by countless drugs, experimental sexuality and non-conformist attitudes attempt to liberate themselves from the pantheon of Victorian and pre-Modernist literature and invent a new type of distinctly American literary movement heavily influenced by the banned work of Henry Miller, The Tropic of Cancer along with D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover both of which was secured under lock and key in the stately Columbia Library.

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As the Second World War raged on across the Atlantic and many of their American countrymen were liberating a ruined Europe from the last throws of Fascism, The Beat Generation was germinating in the hallowed halls of Columbia University and the dive bars of jazzy Harlem. Naturally its every young man first response to rebel against society upon entering University and these four certainly do so in more ways than one, under the envious gaze of David Kamerer whose latent sexuality and jealousy threatens to destroy their unique vision that of a Libertine Circle inspired by the poetry of W. B. Yeats. Kill Your Darlings is heavy viewing and for those not familiar with the writers or works of the Beat Generation which blossomed in the 1950’s and was at the forefront to American counter-culture leading up to the youth revolt characterizing the 1960’s, should really avoid this film.

on_the_road

Kill Your Darlings refers to the breaking of all standard literary conventions like metre, narrative and plot development, something the Modernists like Yeats, Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot started doing. Central to this literary world, where creativity is fueled by drugs in Williams S. Burroughs’s case (see The Naked Lunch), or sexuality in Ginsberg’s case or recklessness in the life of Jack Kerouac whose seminal work On The Road become the literary bible for the Beat Generation is the unusual story of Carr and his ambivalent and highly influential relationship with Ginsberg. This controversial and ultimately doomed relationship would eventually be the inspiration of Ginsberg’s famous poem Howl published in 1957  as he discovers his latent homosexuality along with his distinctive voice as one of America’s most influential poets.

De Haan and Radcliffe are brave, ferocious and sexy  in Kill Your Darlings and while the murder plot tends to be slightly laboured it is their relationship with each other and also with their parents which becomes the focal point of a fascinating study of rebellion, artistic integrity in the face of conventional criticism and more significantly sacrifice. Highly recommended viewing but definitely not aimed at a broad appeal.

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