Posts Tagged ‘Lesley Manville’

Dakota Death Duel

Let Him Go

Director: Thomas Bezucha

Cast: Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Lesley Manville, Jeffrey Donovan, Kayli Carter, Booboo Stewart, Will Britain, Ryan Bruce

Thank you to United International Pictures for the UIP Film Preview of Let Him Go held on Tuesday 24th November 2020 at Suncoast CineCentre in Durban.

Director of The Family Stone, Thomas Bezucha adapts the 2013 novel by Larry Watson Let Him Go into a big screen cinematic interpretation of generational loss, blood feuds, fierce maternal love starring a superb cast headed up by Oscar winner Kevin Costner (Dancers with Wolves) and Oscar nominee Diane Lane (Unfaithful) who play a retired rural Montana couple George and Margaret Blackledge who go in search of their missing grandson.

As Let Him Go opens with a happy familial scene of a retired couple the Blackledges enjoying sometime with their only son and his new wife and young baby, this jovial scene is shattered when their only son dies suddenly leaving his new wife Lorna Blackledge and young son adrift. When Lorna played by Kayli Carter recently seen in the brilliant TV film Bad Education meets new husband Donnie Weboy played by Will Britain, she does not realize the twisted family she is marrying into.

Soon Lorna and Donnie mysteriously skip town in Montana taking the Blackledge’s only grandson Jimmy with them. Margaret persuades George to go in search of Jimmy across the border in the rough plains of North Dakota. Their journey takes them to the small remote town of Gladstone, North Dakota where they track down Donnie’s uncle Bill Weboy wonderfully played by Jeffrey Donovan (Honest Thief, Changeling) who is doing a superb job in a slew of recent supporting roles.

Bill warns the Blackledges that first they have to confront his sister-in-law the vicious Blanche Weboy, mother of the Weboy clan. In a performance reminiscent of Jacki Weaver’s Oscar-nominated turn in Animal Kingdom, Oscar nominee Lesley Manville (The Phantom Thread) proves her range as the vile blonde haired mother of a gangster family who feels nothing at asking her son to cut off the fingers of a potential threat to the Weboy existence.

Manville is so good that she makes Let Him Go worth seeing especially in the pivotal confrontational dinner scene when she first meets George and Margaret. George is immediately suspicious of this woman’s evil intentions and her desire to claim his grandson as her own.

Let Him Go is a slow-burner thriller set in the mid 1960’s and director Thomas Bezucha makes full use of the stark locations of the mid-Western plains as well as highlighting the plight of the Native American people encapsulated in the small role of Peter Dragswolf played by rising star BooBoo Stewart (Twilight).

As the film meticulously builds up tension to its fiery Dakota death battle at its conclusion, Let Him Go gives sufficient screen time to all three main leads especially Diane Lane and Kevin Costner who have acted together before as Superman’s adopted parents Martha and Jonathan Kent in director Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel.

Let Him Go get a film rating of 7 out of 10 is definitely worth seeing, a salt of the earth thriller with a surprisingly hectic ending.

Aurora’s Curse

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Director: Joachim Ronning

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Robert Lindsay, Juno Temple

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales director Joachim Ronning directs the highly anticipated lavish sequel to Disney’s 2014 fantasy film Maleficent. Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) reprises her role of Maleficent the Fey protector of Aurora in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and this time she is up against Queen Ingrith wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (Love Field, Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys).

In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Maleficent and Queen Ingrith first meet at a pre-marital dinner for Aurora played again by Elle Fanning (Mary Shelley, The Beguiled) and her beau Prince Philip played by Harris Dickinson last seen on the small screen as the kidnapped J. Paul Getty III in the excellent TV series Trust directed by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire).

Immediately Queen Ingrith and Maleficent do not hit it off, as the vivacious and calculating Queen sets a trap for the fairies at the impending wedding of Aurora and Prince Philip.

Soon Maleficent is sent wounded into the underworld where she is rescued by Conall played by Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and the hunky looking Borra played by Ed Skrein (Deadpool, The Transporter Refuelled).

British stars Juno Temple (Atonement, Wonder Wheel, Black Mass), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) and Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) reprise their roles as Thistlewit, Flittle and Knotgrass respectively.

Whilst the plot of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is certainly not as original as the 2014 film, the stunning visual effects and marvellous pace of the film make up for any shortcomings. The best casting choice was Michelle Pfeiffer playing the vicious Mother-in-Law to be much to the consternation of the utterly oblivious son and husband.

Fans of Maleficent will certainly savour this fabulous sequel even if it is to watch the gorgeous Angelina Jolie make her big screen comeback, post her highly publicized divorce from Brad Pitt.

All the secondary characters pale in comparison to the diva rivals onscreen namely Jolie and Pfeiffer as they battle it out in this glittering fantasy adventure to truly claim the nefarious title of Mistress of Evil.

While not as brilliant as the original, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil gets a Film Rating: 7 out of 10 and will surely keep audiences entertained while giving viewers further ideas for future Halloween ensembles.

The Intensity of Design

Phantom Thread

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps, Brian Gleeson, Gina McKee

Inherent Vice and The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson reunites with his Oscar winning star of There Will Be Blood which Anderson also directed, the hugely talented Daniel Day-Lewis in his new handsomely crafted film Phantom Thread.

Moving away from America, Paul Thomas Anderson sets Phantom Thread in 1950’s post-war England in the glamourous yet stifling world of British fashion as Daniel Day-Lewis plays the fastidious fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock in a fine Oscar-nominated performance.

Like The Master, Phantom Thread incisively explores the intricacy of human relationships as the film centres on the tumultuous relationship between Woodcock, who hates to be disturbed at breakfast and his young muse, turned model, Alma, a superb performance by Luxembourgian actress Vicky Krieps who fills the screen with an unrivaled radiance.

This radiance is counterpointed by the incisive performance of British actress Lesley Manville (Maleficent, Mr Turner) as the immaculate sister of Reynolds, oddly named Cyril, whose ambivalent sexuality and headstrong business sense ensues that her talented brother is seldom thrown off course. Lesley Manville is utterly brilliant as Cyril and received an Oscar nomination for her integral supporting performance.

What really makes Phantom Thread worth seeing are the beautiful costumes designed by Mark Bridges who won an Oscar for Costume Design for this film as well as for director Michel Hazanavicius’s Oscar winning film The Artist.

Central to Phantom Thread’s narrative is the intense relationship between the feisty and young Alma and the brilliant yet tortured Reynolds Woodcock who naturally displays all the obsessiveness of his craft including retrieving a gorgeous emerald dress from a drunken society lady after her wedding.

Phantom Thread is a slow moving drama, supported by exceptional performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville and will certainly appeal to audiences that have a love of fashion or have enjoyed Paul Thomas Anderson’s previous films which are at times obscure, thought-provoking and significant. His filmography includes The Master, Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice and the Oscar winning There will be Blood.

Apparently Phantom Thread is to be Daniel Day-Lewis’s last film as he hints at retirement, but hopefully it won’t be his last onscreen performance as he has enjoyed a sumptuous career starting with a minor role in the Merchant Ivory film A Room with a View and appearing as Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. The supremely talented Day-Lewis is one of only a handful of actors to win three Best Actor Oscars for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and lastly in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leaving an incomparable acting legacy behind.

Daniel Day-Lewis leaves behind an illustrious acting career in cinema and it’s for this reason that Phantom Thread is worth seeing. His performance as the creative, yet obsessive fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock is flawless, exemplifying all the intensity and pressure of design.

Phantom Thread gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is a highly recommended period drama.

 

 

Never Clip a Fairy…

Maleficent

maleficent_ver3

Director: Robert Stromberg

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Kenneth Cranham, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Leslie Manville

The classic Disney tale of Sleeping Beauty is gorgeously reinvented entirely from the perspective of the jilted fairy Malificent who after a brief romance with a young teenage boy, Stefan soon discovers humanity’s tendency for greed and ambition.

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Oscar winner Angelina Jolie’s magnetic screen presence reverberates throughout this spectacular fantasy as she transforms from an innocent though powerful fairy to an evil, caustic fairy who avenges the older Stefan, played by District 9’s Sharlto Copley, who in his ambition to become King of the Human Realms, clips Malificent’s powerful wings while she is sleeping.

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Malificent in turn seeks revenge on the nearby kingdom with a spectacular entrance at the christening of Stefan’s only baby daughter, the cute and adorable Aurora, casting a spell on the child that by the time she turns 16 she will have pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a treacherous sleep, only to be broken by the kiss of her true love. Naturally Stefan bundles the child off to a safe haven in the countryside with the help of three hapless fairy guardians, played by Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Leslie Manville away from Malificent and any lethal needles from nearby spinning wheels, most of which have been tossed into a dungeon and burned.

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Meanwhile the war between the fairies and humans intensifies as Stefan sends his burly soldiers to destroy Malificent’s magical realm only to be met by an impenetrable wall of thorns. Curiosity gets the better of the teenage Aurora, a luminous performance by the new Hollywood It girl Elle Fanning (Somewhere, Super 8, Ginger and Rosa) who ventures into Malificent’s domain and naturally meets the menacing if not curious evil fairy who soon harbours an unnatural affection for the cursed youth.

Malificent is ably assisted by Diaval, a changeling creature, played by Sam Riley which enables her to keep an eye on Stefan’s Kingdom.
The stage is set for a showdown between Malificent and King Stefan with the wandering Aurora a luscious pawn in their bitter fight representative of eternal unrequited love.

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What makes this cinematic retelling of Sleeping Beauty truly astounding is the spell bounding special effects and an astounding powerful performance by the dazzling Angelina Jolie, whose star power clearly is the main reason Disney Studios choose to reinvent a darker more accessible version of the original animated Sleeping Beauty classic.

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Malificent is dazzling, intriguing and while retaining its childhood charm, balances a subtle attraction for older audiences, who prefer their fairies darker and vengeanceful. Angelina Jolie is central to this fine balancing act and the scenes between her and Fanning as Aurora are especially infused with delicacy and dimension, making Malificent one of the more complex and sympathetic hero/villain characters ever created in the pantheon of modern day fairy and folklore tales.

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Malificent is highly recommended viewing not just for Angelina Jolie’s powerful and superb performance but also for the brilliant special effects orchestrated by first time director Robert Stromberg who served as a Visual Effects Supervisor on such films as 2012, The Hunger Games and Shutter Island. Watch out for newcomer Australian actor Brenton Thwaites as the naive Prince Phillip aka Prince Charming.

 

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