Posts Tagged ‘Kayvan Novak’

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.

Trust in the Universe

Men in Black International

Director: F. Gary Gray

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Kayvan Novak

The Fate of The Furious and Straight Outta Compton F. Gary Gray desperately tries to reunite the Men in Black franchise first initiated by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. The long awaited reinvention, Men in Black International is a slight misnomer as the two Men in Black are Agent H for Henry played by Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Thor, The Avengers) and Agent M for Molly played by Hemsworth’s Thor Ragnorak co-star Tessa Thompson.

Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Howard’s End, Sense and Sensibility) pops up periodically as Agent O who promises Agent M that they are working on The Men in Black title? A possible feminist reinvention?

While director F. Gary Gray methodically ticks all the right boxes in this bizarre space action film which moves swiftly from New York to London, Paris and Marrakesh, he fails to uplift this film to the quirky originality of the first Men in Black possibly because of the over-exposure of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

Their onscreen chemistry worked in Thor: Ragnarok but starts to wear dangerously thin in Men in Black International.

Thompson lands up playing the smart New Yorker next to Hemsworth’s dashing clean shaven pin up boy Agent H who feels nothing at sleeping with aliens or wearing pink trousers in a rather bizarre sequence on an Italian island with a vampish Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Fallout, The Greatest Showman) as a three armed intergalactic weapons dealer Riza.

Men in Black International is a fun film, but the aliens play second fiddle to the real conflict between the humans in a fairly predictable story about a malevolent force planning on attacking planet Earth. Naturally the new 21st century Men and Women In Black are suited and booted to protect the population from the scum of the universe.

Men In Black International gets a film rating of 6 out of 10 and could have been so much smarter, funnier and inspiring, but instead comes off as a paint by numbers diversity sci-fi action comedy which ticks all the boxes even those that don’t exist.

MIB International is saved by Rafe Spall (Life of Pi) and Liam Neeson (Cold Pursuit, The Commuter, Taken) although even their performances are lacklustre in a messy storyline saved by exotic locations and slick gadgetry.

Audiences should not expect a return to form or onscreen chemistry which the original 1997 film produced or the 2002 and 2012 sequels all directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.

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