Posts Tagged ‘Joel Fry’

Divas and Dalmatians

Cruella

Director: Craig Gillespie

Cast: Emma Stone Emma Thompson, Mark Strong, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, John McCrea, Emily Beecham, Kayvan Novak, Kirby Howell-Baptiste

Disney’s retelling of 101 Dalmatians paid off in the lavish and expertly crafted live action film Cruella featuring Oscar winner Emma Stone (La La Land) channelling her inner psycho diva as the fashion mad anti-heroine  Estella who becomes the villainous Cruella de Ville.

I, Tonya director Craig Gillespie sets Cruella in the vicious fashion world of the 1970’s as Cruella and her arch rival the narcissist and extremely evil Baroness wonderfully played against type by another Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Howard’s End, Sense and Sensibility) as she draws inspiration from Meryl Streep’s performance in The Devil Wears Prada. In this Avant-Garde and fabulously retro Cruella, the battlefield is the infamous Liberty’s department store in Central London, the playground of 1970’s fashion.

Thompson and Stone are perfectly cast as arch rivals who are determined to rip each other to shreds both figuratively and physically using everything at their disposal from Dalmatians to deception.

With double Oscar winner costume designer Jenny Beavan (A Room with a View, Mad Max: Fury Road) creating the most outrageous costumes for both Cruella and The Baroness, the costumes and makeup are unbelievable and absolutely amazing. The musical score is another winner, adding to the film’s funky and swanky feel.

The male actors in Cruella take a notable backseat to the main plot of a rag to riches Cruella who fights her way literally to the top of the London fashion scene.

There is the exception with Cruella’s fellow thieves Jasper expertly played by Joel Fry (Yesterday) and Horace played by extremely talented character actor Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya; BlackKklansman; Richard Jewell). Both Horace and Jasper become Cruella/Estella’s aides and assistants as she effortlessly slips between two opposing personalities, one good and the other evil, almost like a fashionable female version of Joker which garnered an Oscar win for Joaquin Phoenix in 2020.

Naturally evil triumphs over good as Cruella soon realizes that to beat a formidable opponent like the vile Baroness who treats all her staff as lowly minions, you have to become a cold hearted and ruthless Diva. Something which Cruella can relate to.

British actor Mark Strong (1917, Shazam!, Zero Dark Thirty) who plays the obsequious and loyal valet represents the stabilizing force in both Cruella and the Baroness’s lives as he delicately shifts the war between the two powerful female forces in favour of the younger, while revealing a devastating family secret.

Disney hit gold with this lavish version of Cruella thanks to two equally brilliant performances by two exceptional actresses: Emma Stone and Emma Thompson.

Cruella is tantamount to the Joker seizing editorial power over Vanity Fair. This elegant Disney version gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is insightfully directed by Craig Gillespie.

A World Without The Beatles

Yesterday

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Ellise Chappell, Ed Sheeran, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kate McKinnon, James Corden 

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see Oscar winning director Danny Boyle’s latest film Yesterday with a screenplay by Love Actually writer Richard Curtis.

Imagine a world without The Beatles Songs? Or a world without Coca-Cola and Cigarettes? Or Even Harry Potter?

This is the premise of screenwriter Richard Curtis’s latest romantic musical comedy Yesterday directed by Oscar winning director of Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle and starring Himesh Patel as Jack Malik a struggling musician and Lily James (The Darkest Hour, Cinderella) as his long suffering manager Ellie Appleton set mainly in Suffolk, England.

After an inexplicable worldwide blackout, Jack gets hit by a bus and wakes up missing two teeth and in a sort of alternative reality whereby he soon realizes that this world does not know any of The Beatles songs including Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Hey Jude, All You Need is Love and Back in the U.S.S. R.

As Jack played with a sort of goofy naivety by East Enders star Himesh Patel starts initially playing a Beatles song to his parents Sheila and Jed played by Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar (London Boulevard, The Kumars at No. 42), he is astonished that they have never heard of the most influential and greatest pop band in the world, The Beatles. Then Jack has to remind himself that he is living in an alternative universe which distracts him from the real love of his life Ellie who has constantly supported him throughout his struggling music career. 

Lily James is brilliant as Suffolk maths teacher Ellie and she lifts the film from being a completely contrived musical fantasy into a semi-believable cinematic offering which allows director Danny Boyle to use all his artistic embellishments to make Yesterday more invigorating than what it really is.

Yesterday is a 21st century slightly contrived musical tribute to The Beatles set in the Instagram age of political correctness and diversity where even the likes of singer Ed Sheeran cannot lift the humour in this film with the exception of one funny scene when Sheeran visits Jack late at night at his family home and encounters his irritating yet lovable dad Jed, wonderfully played with comic timing by Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Ultimately, Yesterday is about a lingering love affair between Ellie and Jack as he is seduced by the fame and fortune associated with lucrative streaming contracts in California in the form of a vampish American music manager Debra Hammer played by Kate McKinnon.

Despite the musical tribute to the Beatles and the quirky plot, Yesterday didn’t quite resolve itself as a satisfying film even with some comic moments. Yesterday gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy a light romantic musical comedy.

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