Posts Tagged ‘Penelope Cruz’

Killers in Stiletto’s

The 355

Director: Simon Kinberg

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Sebastian Stan, Edgar Ramirez, Bingbing Fan, Jason Flemying, Leo Staar, John Douglas Thompson, Sylvester Groth

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 4 minutes

If viewers don’t take this film too seriously, then they will find it extremely entertaining. The 355 is a great Sunday afternoon film to watch, with lots of action, big name international stars and enough shady villains to make a group of female spy operatives’ band together to search for a mysterious secret weapon stolen in Bogota, Colombia, which lands up going around the globe from Paris to Shanghai.

Producer turned director Simon Kinberg assembles a truly international cast of beautiful women including Oscar winners Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Graciela Rivera and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) as British operative Khadijah Adiyeme along with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help) as American operative Mace and German actress Diane Kruger (The Infiltrator, Inglourious Basterds) as Marie Schmidt.

Their search takes them to an exotic auction in Shanghai whereby audiences are introduced to the fifth member of the fabulous team, Chinese operative Lin Mi Sheng played by famous Chinese star Bingbing Fan.

The action is terrific and the film’s second half improves remarkably as the five women bond over kicking ass, eluding the bad guys of which there are many and basically sticking together so that the real villain Elijah Clarke played by British actor Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) cannot get this highly dangerous digital device and sell it to the highest bidder.

All the men in the film are portrayed extremely one dimensionally, either as frustrated house husbands whether in Bogota or London or as nasty villains as portrayed by Flemying and Romanian American actor Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya, Logan Lucky) as the murky CIA operative Nick Fowler who delivers a handsome performance dripping with swagger and menace.

Audiences should look out for a brief appearance by Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (Jungle Cruise, Point Break, The Girl on the Train) as Luis Rojas whose only scene with the phenomenal Penelope Cruz could have been more seductive.

The scriptwriters for The 355 did not provide sufficient back story for all these gorgeous ladies, except focused on the action scenes and a plot which is confusing and preposterous. 

The 355 is a fun-filled female action film about spies that can look deadly glamorous and survive in a man’s world in which they prove who is really in charge.

Considering all the talent involved, The 355 gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is enjoyable but could have been so much better.

A Tangle of Strangers

Murder on the Orient Express

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Lucy Boynton, Olivia Colman, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr. Tom Bateman

Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) both stars as the infamous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot  and directs another remake of the classic Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express featuring a stunning cast including Oscar nominees Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street) and Oscar winners Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love).

Sporting a profoundly massive mustache, Branagh takes Hercule Poirot to new extremes in this 21st century remake which is glossy and possesses sumptuous production design but like all extremely long train journeys is boring in the middle, despite the spectacular scenery.

Murder on the Orient Express is set in 1934 and starts off promisingly with a fantastic opening, attention grabbing scene at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and then moves on to the Orient Express, a luxury train service which travels from the chaotic train station in Istanbul right across Europe to Paris.

As the gangster Edward Ratchett is found murdered in his compartment, stabbed multiple times everybody becomes a suspect on the Orient Express and soon Poirot has to interview all the cast as the train is stuck in an icy tunnel somewhere over Yugoslavia. A tangle of strangers confined to a luxury train which has gone off the rails.

Everybody is not what they seems, which is natural considering this is an Agatha Christie novel and while the cast does an admirable job, it is really Michelle Pfeiffer who wows audiences with her demure yet slightly vicious portrayal of globetrotting husband seeker Caroline Hubbard who stands out among a fairly impressive ensemble cast. Pfeiffer really acts.

Dame Judi Dench’s turn as Princess Dragomiroff is hardly noticeable, while the best scenes in the film are between Pfeiffer and Branagh.

It is refreshing to see Michelle Pfeiffer making such a glorious big screen come back as she truly is a brilliant actress, not to mention singer – for she also sang the film’s original song at the end.

Without revealing who the killer is, needless to say Kenneth Branagh will be returning with another big screen adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel, Death on the Nile. Should be fascinating if only he would curb that mustache.

Audiences that enjoyed the original seventies film adaptations of the Agatha Christie novels, will enjoy this ambitious if slightly flawed remake. Think Evil Under the Sun.

Recommended viewing but whether the film will dazzle at the box-office in an increasingly cluttered 21st century CGI film line-up remains to be seen. Murder on the Orient Express gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

 

 

 

62nd BAFTA Awards

THE  62nd BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 8th February 2009 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

slumdog_millionaire

Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director: Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire

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Best Actor: Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler

reader_ver2

Best Actress: Kate Winslet – The Reader

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Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

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Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona

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Rising Star Award: Noel Clarke

Best British Film: Man on a Wire directed by James Marsh

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Best Original Screenplay: In Bruges – Martin McDonagh

Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire – Simon Beaufoy

duchess

Best Costume Design: The Duchess

I Loved You So Long Poster

Best Foreign Language Film: I’ve Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime) (France) directed by Philippe Claudel

Source: 62nd BAFTA Awards

 

2006 Cannes Film Festival

2006 Cannes Film Festival Winners

 cannes festival poster 2006

Winners of the five main prizes at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival were as follows: –

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Palm d’Or: The Wind that Shakes the Barley directed by Ken Loach

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Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu director of Babel

Days of Glory Indig-film

Best Actor:  The cast  of Indigènes  (Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Sami Bouajila, Roschdy Zem) – Days of Glory

volver

Best Actress: Penélope Cruz for Volver

Best Screenplay: Pedro Almodóvar for Volver

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Cannes_Film_Festival

81st Academy Awards

81st Academy Awards

22nd February 2009

Oscar Winners at the 81st Academy Awards

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Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director: Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire

milk

Best Actor: Sean Penn – Milk

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Best Actress: Kate Winslet – The Reader

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Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (received Oscar posthumously)

vicky_cristina_barcelona

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black – Milk

Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy – Slumdog Millionaire

departures

Best Foreign Language Film: Departures directed by Yojiro Takita

Best Documentary Film: Man on Wire – directed James Marsh

Best Original Score: A. R. Rahman – Slumdog Millionaire

Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle – Slumdog Millionaire

duchess

Best Costume Design: Michael O’ Connor – The Duchess

Best Film Editing: Chris Dickens – Slumdog Millionaire

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Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/81st_Academy_Awards

 

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.

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