Posts Tagged ‘Peter Sarsgaard’

City of Vengeance

The Batman

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Rupert Penry-Jones

Running Time: 2 hours and 56 minutes

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves goes full out for the highly anticipated Batman remake simply called The Batman featuring Robert Pattinson as the stubbled caped crusader ready to fight off all Gotham’s evil creatures. In this case there are several.

Drawing massive inspiration from such films as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and David Fincher’s Seven, Matt Reeves paints Gotham as a dark and seedy metropolis filled with particularly twisted individuals, corrupt politicians and a serial killer that leaves cryptic clues while he livestreams killing his victims.

Gotham becomes a City of Vengeance as The Batman has to battle the entirely twisted The Riddler superbly played with a particular sinister panache by Paul Dano (There will be Blood, 12 Years a Slave, Little Miss Sunshine). Paul Dano’s The Riddler accurately rivals Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar winning portrayal of Joker in 2019.

Besides The Riddler that Batman has to contend with, there is the slinky Catwoman wonderfully played with a nefarious independence by Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road). The onscreen chemistry between Kravitz and Pattinson is electrifying as they reluctantly band together to track down The Riddler while also dealing with The Penguin played by an unrecognisable Colin Farrell (In Bruges, The Gentleman, The Beguiled) who is the henchman to the reclusive city gangster Carmine Falcone superbly played by John Turturro (Barton Fink, Quiz Show, Jungle Fever).

Screenwriters Matt Reeves and Peter Craig delve into all the Bruce Wayne mythology, including the dark and treacherous past of Bruce Wayne’s wealthy parents and their link with the Arkham asylum.

Robert Pattinson comes across as a less confident Batman, a Billionaire cape crusader less comfortable with becoming the saviour of the city, until he reconciles that this is his destiny. Pattinson’s Batman is far different from Ben Affleck as the arrogant Batman or Christian Bale as the wealthy, snobbish Batman who feels that it his right to defend the city because he inherited billions.

Pattinson is brilliant in the role of The Batman giving the iconic screen character a three dimensionality never seen before especially when forced to deal with the criminally insane but ingenious The Riddler who Paul Dano portrays as an extraordinary orphan with a meticulous grudge to bear against the rich, corrupt and powerful. 

From the seedy nightclubs of Gotham including 44 below, from Zoe Kravitz’s excellent interpretation of Catwoman, from the brilliant pacing of the film, from the quietly dark periods before the explosions rock the outskirts of Gotham and all hell breaks loose, The Batman gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10.

This is a long film but director Matt Reeves gives every cinema goer their money’s worth. This interpretation of The Batman is enthralling, gothic and grungy. Highly recommended viewing.

A Crushing Responsibility

The Lost Daughter

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Jack Farthing, Dagmara Dominiczyk

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 1 minute

Taking its inspiration right out of the equally sinister 1990 film The Comfort of Strangers, directed by Paul Schrader, actress turned director Maggie Gyllenhaal directs an entirely unsettling film The Lost Daughter all set on a remote island in Greece, populated by some fascinating characters including some menacing beach goers.

Directors seldom make purely psychological thrillers nowadays which were extremely fashionable in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is with a stroke of luck that Maggie Gyllenhaal managed to cast the granddaughter of Tippi Hendren, the star of such classic Alfred Hitchcock films such as The Birds and Marnie, Dakota Johnson (The Social Network, Bad Times at the El Royale) alongside Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) in The Lost Daughter.

This film is mostly shot in extreme close up, which gives audiences an unsettling intimacy with the characters involved all of whom are slightly off kilter particularly Leda, another stunning performance by Olivia Colman, who plays a lonesome middle age comparative literature professor who travels to Greece to take a break from her daughters back home.

On the exotic and hot Greek island, she has a sinister encounter with the highly strung Nina, a devilishly beautiful performance by Dakota Johnson and Nina’s extended family which are vaguely hinted to be part of some nefarious crime organization.

Leda is an emotionally damaged woman contemplating her own role as a mother, as she often reflects back to her younger self, which are featured in a series of raunchy flashbacks featuring an absolutely superb Jessie Buckley (Doolittle, Misbehaviour) who deserves an Oscar nomination for her role as the younger Leda as she is navigating motherhood and her fractious relationship with her average male partner Joe, played by Jack Farthing. For the younger Leda desires more and yearns for another existence than just being a mother to two very demanding young daughters.

The younger Leda embarks on a passionate affair with a fellow professor, a wonderfully erudite Professor Hardy played by Peter Sarsgaard (An Education, Jackie, Black Mass, Kinsey).

As The Lost Daughter weaves it’s complex narrative between the past and the present, the older Leda must confront her weird emotional impulses and her strange flirtations with the men on the island, particularly Lyle played by Oscar nominee Ed Harris (The Hours, Pollack, The Truman Show, Apollo 13) and the younger beach boy Toni played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Based on the novel by the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter is a brooding mix of menace and desire, a psychologically twisted tale of crushing responsibilities, abandonment and reconnection, held together by two exceptionally good performances by Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley.

Psychological thrillers generally do not have mass appeal, but director Maggie Gyllenhaal does a skilful job of dissecting a complicated issue around maternity and natural responsibility while casually mixes it up with forbidden sexual desire and pervasive fear.

The Lost Daughter gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is remarkable for its haunting unique quality as a cinematic gem.

History, Identity, Beauty

Jackie

Director: Pablo Larrain

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Richard E. Grant, John Hurt, John Carroll Lynch, Caspar Phillipson, Beth Grant, Max Casella

Producer Darren Aronofsky and Chilean director Pablo Larrain bring an exquisite and heart wrenching portrait of Jackie Kennedy just moments after her husband President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas on the 22nd November 1963 in Jackie.

Oscar winner Natalie Portman (Black Swan) is sublime as Jackie and considering that she is in virtually every frame of the film, shot in mostly extreme close up, Portman delivers a poignant portrait of Jackie as she is suddenly stripped of her position as first lady while also dealing with suddenly becoming a young widow to two small children, John and Caroline Kennedy.

Simultaneously, Larrain explores the mythical concepts of History, Identity and Beauty as Jackie has to boldly deal with the aftermath of an assassination and the claustrophobia of grief intertwined with state politics and diplomacy.

Jackie has to decide what type of funeral she would like for John F. Kennedy and amidst the security concerns following her husband’s dramatic assassination, she opts for a full length funeral parade, which symbolically become the most watched event on American Television in the early 1960’s.

Screenwriter Noah Oppenheimer’s seductive script pulls viewers into the traumatic world of Jackie Kennedy, deconstructing the myth of a debutante stripped of her power, yet ironically her glamour and poise managed to embed itself in the American psyche for decades after her role as the First Lady of the United States.

Jackie is a stunning, visually dazzling historical portrait of a very specific moment in American history, the aftermath of one of the most pivotal assassinations, which irreparably changed the course of American politics and society redefining the 1960’s as a tumultuous decade. Cleverly what the film does not do is delve into any conspiracy theories surrounding the infamous assassination, but exclusively focuses on how Jackie deals with the funeral and subsequent interviews afterwards.

Audiences should look out for strong supporting roles by Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine) as Bobbie Kennedy, Greta Gerwig as loyal assistant Nancy Tuckerman and John Hurt as unnamed priest who Jackie confides in. Incidentally Jackie was one of Hurt’s last films before he died in 2017.

The costumes by Madeline Fontaine, which she won a 2017 BAFTA Award for, are gorgeous clearly recreating the iconic style of Jackie Kennedy and the production design by Jean Rabasse (The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen) is equally fitting.

What makes Jackie so inspiring is the unconventional approach of Larrain’s direction as he inter cuts scenes of the massive funeral march in Washington DC with the graphic violence of the actual assassination in the backseat of a convertible sedan speeding along a Dallas highway, blood stains on Jackie’s pink Chanel suit.

Like director Barry Jenkins’s Oscar winning film Moonlight, Jackie intensely captures the audience’s attention and never let’s go, anchored by a brilliant performance by Natalie Portman who in my opinion should have won the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 2017 Oscars, although perhaps the odds were stacked in favour of Emma Stone winning for La La Land.

Gorgeous, riveting and emotionally draining, Jackie is a vivid and intricate tour de force of an iconic figure who used her widowhood to become more famous, made all the more touching by the scenes with her two very young children.

My film rating for Jackie is 9.5 out of 10. Having directed an exceptionally vivid film, director Pablo Larrain is a talent to watch out for.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_John_F._Kennedy

 

 

Reclaiming the West

The Magnificent Seven

magnificent_seven_ver5

Director:  Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer, Martin Sensmeier, Cam Gigandet

Antoine Fuqua gathers his favourite actors into his latest impressive film.

In Fuqua’s bespoke remake of John Sturgeon’s 1960 classic film The Magnificent Seven, as an African American film director he reclaims the Western genre in a bold step towards reimagining American Western mythology which will surely shape how cinema goers view the Western film genre.

Gone are the days of Western films primarily being made up of morally dubious cowboys mostly played by dashing European actors fighting savage Red Indians or each other in high noon stand offs.

Director Fuqua’s superb The Magnificent Seven is as diverse as Westerns come, showing that while perceptions of the American West have largely been Eurocentric, the real history of the American West was far more complex.

The setting is Rose Creek, California in 1879. A small dusty town a three day ride away from the Californian state capital Sacramento, at the height of the Gold Rush.

Rose Creek is being tormented by a malicious industrialist Bartholomew Bogue wonderfully played against type by character actor Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine), who not only burns down the moral centre of the town, the church, but casually kills some its town folk, much to the horror of the remaining witnesses.

Rose Creek’s town representative, a feisty widow Emma Cullen, played by rising star Haley Bennett enlists the help of sharp shooter Chisolm, expertly played by Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory).

magnificent_seven

Chisolm gathers a motley crew of cowboys and one red Indian, consisting of the heavy drinking Irishman Josh Faraday, comically played by Chris Pratt, sharp shooter Goodnight Robicheaux played by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Before Sunrise), lonesome tracker Jack Horne played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Rocks played by Korean star Byung-hun Lee, Vasquez, played by rising Mexican star Manual Garcia-Rulfo last seen in Cake opposite Jennifer Aniston and finally Native American actor Martin Sensmeier who plays Comanche Indian Red Harvest.

With the gang in tow and the town folk galvanized for action, audiences should expect the final gun battle of Rose creek to be thrilling. Fortunately this is where The Magnificent Seven delivers as the final act of the film is truly brilliant, with superb sound editing and haunting production design, Fuqua pays homage to the original version and to the genre as a whole while deftly reimagining Westerns as a more diverse and multi-cultural affair.

Not since the Coen brothers reworking of the Oscar nominated True Grit, have I enjoyed a Western as much. The Magnificent Seven does justice to its genre assisted by superb performances by Washington and Sarsgaard as opponents with a vicious score to settle.

Audiences that enjoyed James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers True Grit, will love Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven as he reclaims the Western genre and hopefully opens the doors for this much loved film genre to be bravely re-explored in the 21st century. This is a genre which desperately needs a Hollywood resurgence.

Now if only a director could tackle a film version of Cormac McCarthy’s brutal tale of the Mexican frontier wars in his gripping Western novel, Blood Meridian, then that would be a film worth seeing.

The Winter Hill Reign

Black Mass

black_mass_ver3

Director: Scott Cooper

Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Juno Temple.

black_mass_ver4

Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper brings to life a gripping and violent cinematic adaptation of the 2001 non-fiction book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill based upon the exploits of Irish-American crime lord and fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger played with a menace not seen on screen since Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by Oscar nominee Johnny Depp.

black_mass_ver6

Cooper assembles an all-star cast including Benedict Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate) as Whitey Bulger’s brother and senator William Bulger, Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Warrior) in a career defining performance as conflicted FBI agent John Connolly, Dakota Johnson as James Bulger’s wife Lindsey and David Harbour (Quantum of Solace) as Connolly’s co-worker John Morris.

black_mass_ver9

Audiences should look out for Kevin Bacon as FBI boss Charles McGuire and a stunning cameo by Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine) as coked up Florida businessman Brian Halloran and Corey Stoll as the non-nonsense prosecutor Fred Whysak.

black_mass_ver10

James “Whitey” Bulger superbly played by Depp in his most menacing performance yet, is a pure psychopath whose relentless ambition is to rid his own South Boston gang, known as the Winter Hill gang not only of informants, who he casually kills at the drop of a hat but of their main opposition the Italian mafia in the form of the Angiulo Brothers which control North Boston.

Bulger and his band of thugs control South Boston and he soon becomes a so-called informant at the request of oily FBI agent Connolly whose childhood loyalty to Bulger is blinded by the real monster that Bulger has become. This is a man who strangles a prostitute with his bare hands, who casually shoots his friend in the head after a bar room altercation, yet will simultaneously sit down and play cards with his elderly mother. Insight in to the source of Bulger’s psychopathic behaviour comes from a line in Black Mass, when he admits to doing trials for LSD during an eight year prison stint in Alcatraz and Levenworth.

black_mass_ver5

The tipping point in Bulger’s blood thirst occurs when his young son unexpectedly dies from Reyes syndrome after an allergic reaction to aspirin. Bulger’s manipulation of his alliance with Connolly is brilliantly portrayed in Black Mass with Australian actor Joel Edgerton giving a remarkable performance akin to that of Matt Damon in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Connolly is heavily beholden to Bulger and his professional and personal judgement suffers after his close association with such a violent mobster, highlighting the extent of corruption endemic in American cities in the 1980’s. Even Connolly’s wife Marianne played by Julianne Nicholson last seen in August: Osage County remarks on her husband’s new clothes and his flashy almost cocky swagger.

Joel Edgerton deserves an Oscar nomination for his role in Black Mass as does Johnny Depp, although at times the menace portrayed by Depp obliterates any audience empathy for his character. For James “Whitey” Bulger is a true psychopath, blood thirsty, unpredictable, paranoid and completely ruthless. Audiences should be warned of some exceptionally violent scenes in Black Mass, akin to Scorsese’s Goodfellas or Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

black_mass_ver8

Scott Cooper skilfully directs Black Mass and uses the multi-talented cast to bring to cinema the true story of American gangsters in South Boston in the 1970’s and 1980’s while remaining faithful to the source material, based on a meticulously researched screenplay by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk.

Whether Black Mass will garner nominations in the upcoming awards season remains to be seen, but as a film it is worth watching and brilliantly acted. Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Kill the Messenger and The Departed.

 

The Unravelling Socialite

blue_jasmine_ver2

Blue Jasmine

Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Max Casella

Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) gives a tour-de-force performance as the lead character in Woody Allen’s brilliant new American drama Blue Jasmine. Audiences get introduced to Jasmine French a blue-eyed blond hair designer clad Park Avenue socialite as she flies first class to San Francisco to stay with her sister Ginger. Jasmine is all Xanax-popping, Vodka drinking glamour but underneath all the loquaciousness is a woman who has clearly unravelled from a series of financial and social setbacks. Director Allen gradually peals back the layers of Jasmine through a series of flashbacks to her former life in Manhattan and New York where she shared a sumptuous marriage with her shady hedge fund manager cheating husband Hal played by Alec Baldwin and an event which has caused Jasmine to lose everything from her social status to her mind as she clearly flees the East Coast to seek refuge with her non-biological sister Ginger wonderfully played by British actress Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky, Great Expectations) in Northern California.

The contrast between Jasmine and Ginger soon becomes apparent in their diverse taste of men amongst other things. Where Jasmine is clearly drawn to the smooth talking affluent alpha males who will shower her with gifts so as long as she does not need to care about anything embodied by the slimy Hal  (Alec Baldwin), Ginger on a far reduced significant living standard is clearly drawn to the more working class, emotional men from her ex husband Augie played by Andrew Dice Clay and to her new more passionate boyfriend a car mechanic named Chili in a superb performance by Bobby Cannavale (from Boardwalk Empire fame).

Jasmine that has lost everything financially while still retaining her designer wardrobe and always attempts to look glamorous as she clearly delusional realizes that her life has irrevocably changed forever. Soon she is forced to take a job as a receptionist in a dentist surgery in San Francisco with an amorous dentist played by Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) while attempting to improve her computer literacy skills. Her down to earth impoverished sister Ginger carries an affair with Chili as she works in a suburban grocery store.

Director Woody Allen shows a very incisive portrayal of two women, one constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown while the other is happy to pursue an elusive yet sustainable dream of survival and happiness. Blue Jasmine clearly belongs to Cate Blanchett as she is almost in every scene of the film and this is a new collaboration between Allen and Blanchett which has proved to be quite masterful, a legendary film director who has rediscovered a more sophisticated and brilliant muse who tackles the flawed but vulnerable Jasmine.

vicky_cristina_barcelonaAfter the recent success of Woody Allen’s European films, mainly Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris and Matchpoint, the famous and hugely talented director turns back to his first love Manhattan, but viewed through an angle of San Francisco, an oblique and poignant point of view that is almost showing signs of a farewell. What makes Blue Jasmine so masterful is Blanchett’s wonderfully poignant portrayal of the unravelling of a socialite, a performance that is Oscar worthy to say the least, not to mention absolutely riveting. Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen at his best directing one of the most talented actresses of the 21st century, Cate Blanchett, who I was fortunate to see years ago in a London West End production of David Hare’s play Plenty.

A highly recommended film, Blue Jasmine is sure to garner both Blanchett and Hawkins much praise and attention at the imminent 2014 awards season.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
May 2022
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
  • ‘Hunt’ Review: Trust No One in This Unpredictable Korean Spy-vs.-Spy Game
    On Oct. 26, 1979, South Korean president Park Chung-hee was assassinated by the chief of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency — a coup that ended the autocrat’s 16-year grip on a country that has wrestled with corruption and scandal ever since. The still-mysterious circumstances of that inside job (which inspired 2005’s “The President’s Last Bang”) […]
    Peter Debruge
  • ‘Money Heist Korea’ Trailer Dropped by Netflix Ahead of June Release
    A crew of thieves including Tokyo, an ex-soldier, unite under the leadership of a mastermind known as the Professor to plan an unprecedented heist – stealing money yet to exist! If that sounds familiar, it should. The twist is that Netflix hit series La Casa De Papel (Money Heist) has been given a cool Korean favor. […]
    Patrick Frater
  • Renée Zellweger Says ‘The Thing About Pam’ Prosthetics Caused Her to Break Out in Rashes
    Judy Greer admits seeing Renée Zellweger for the first time in full makeup, prosthetics and wardrobe as convicted murderer Pam Hupp while shooting “The Thing About Pam” presented a a unique set of challenges. “We both looked at each other and started laughing,” Greer, who plays controversial prosecutor Leah Askey in the true-crime series, said […]
    marcmalkin
  • PhilmCo Media Backs ‘1660 Vine’ Movie Musical About Social Media Influencers
    Sixth months after Peter Samuelson and Jonathan Prince launched PhilmCo Media, the production banner is gearing up its first project “1660 Vine,” a musical film that producers hope to adapt as a Broadway show. “1660 Vine,” follows a group of influencers who move into a Hollywood apartment complex to help each other pursue social media […]
    Wilson Chapman
  • The Long Road to ‘Spinning Gold’: Why It Took Three Decades to Bring the Story of Six Decadent Disco Years to the Screen
    The story of Casablanca Records has been told by many — in books, articles and by the larger-than-life characters who lived through the salad days of mid- to late-1970s rock and disco music. Its ascent as a hit factory — home to KISS, Donna Summer, the Village People and Parliament Funkadelic — was short and […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90