Posts Tagged ‘Quintessa Swindell’

Conspicuous Display

Master Gardener

Director: Paul Schrader

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton, Quintessa Swindell, Esai Morales

Running time: 1 hour 51 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Patty Hearst, Autofocus and Card Counter auteur director Paul Schrader returns with a fascinating multigenerational character study in his new film Master Gardener starring the alluring three time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl) as a prickly and difficult yet wealthy heiress Norma Haverhill who owns a beautiful estate called Gracewood Gardens.

In this lavish estate with an extensive formal garden in the French style is a meticulous horticulturalist Narvel Roth with a murky and dangerous past, whose previous life as a white supremacist is tattooed all over his chiselled body. Brilliantly played by Australian actor Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom, The Great Gatsby), Narvel is escaping his terrible past and trying to redeem himself as a horticulturalist while remaining discreet as a criminal informant who spied on his own gang and got police protection under a new identity.

Narvel Roth is tasked by the demanding and vicious Norma Haverhill to look after and employ her grand-niece, Mia a young directionless girl played by Quintessa Swindell (Black Adam, Granada Nights) who enters the privileged world of her great aunt, Norma who holds court in a beautiful mansion complete with a maid and butler.

As Mia interrupts the arrangement between Narvel and Miss Haverhill, relationships unravel and the beautifully kept gardens are subjected to disruptive elements which threaten the tranquillity of Gracewood Gardens.

Scripted by Paul Schrader and using the garden as a motif for growth and rejuvenation, Master Gardener is a seductive film about the complex issues of race relations in the United States. Schrader skilfully directs the narrative weaving in contemporary themes like racism, addiction, class and succession, but what really holds Master Gardener together are three superb performances by three actors from very different generations: Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton and Quintessa Swindell, all of whom are mesmerizing.

Premiering at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival, Master Gardener is a stylish thriller with complex character actions in which each one of them are tempted by sex and violence, two of Schrader’s favourite topics.

Schrader has always been fascinated by the murkier sides of human relationships, the illicit deceptions and the brimming rage within each character that he creates. After all, this is a screenwriter that wrote the iconic film Taxi Driver starring Robert de Niro and Jodie Foster.

If audiences are a fan of Paul Schrader’s films and love a good film noir thriller, then watch Master Gardener, which gets a film rating of 8 out of 10.

An intriguing story directed by an auteur at the peak of his creative powers investing all the characters with crisp and challenging dialogue.

Unleashing the Brutality of the Gods

Black Adam

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan, Qunitessa Swindell, Aldris Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari. Bodhi Sabongui, Henry Winkler, Djimon Hounsou, Viola Davis

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 4 minutes

The Spanish director of Jungle Cruise and The Commuter, Jaume Collet-Serra assembles an interesting cast for his first foray into the Superhero universe with his new film Black Adam featuring Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs and Shaw, Jungle Cruise) in the title role.

In a fictitious Middle East looking country named Kahndaq, which is meant to resemble Egypt, an ancient god named Teth Adam was re-awakened after 5000 years. However Teth Adam as a God is out for revenge and brutally unleashes the power of the Gods with no mercy.

When Adrianna Tomaz played by Sarah Shahi and her son Amon unleash the power of Teth Adam soon the Justice Society is re-assembled by Amanda Waller played again by Oscar winner Viola Davis (Fences) to go and investigate what this new god is and whether he can become a superhero.

The Justice Society consists of a fascinating mix of superheroes from the debonair Dr Fate wonderfully played with panache by former Bond star Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia, The Foreigner) to Hawkman played by Aldris Hodge (Hidden Figures); from the beautiful Cyclone played by Quintessa Swindell (Granada Nights) to Atom Smasher played by Noah Centiano who all arrive on Kahndaq to fight it out against an angry Teth Adam also known as Black Adam.

While the Justice Society and Black Adam battle each other in a visually spectacular scene, they really need to focus on who the real enemy is: Ishmael, a descendant of the first king of Kahndaq and leader of intergang, played by Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin). As the Justice Society and Black Adam start aligning their objectives, Adrianna’s son Amon superbly played by Egyptian Polish actor Bodhi Sabongui is kidnapped by the Intergang.

While the storyline of Black Adam is convoluted, director Jaume Collet-Serra makes the film visually spectacular grounding the film firmly in the fantasy superhero genre with excellent special effects and spell bounding action scenes.

Dwayne Johnson is likeable as Black Adam, although the superhero mantle does sit quite wearily on his head, making his casting choice questionable. However, Johnson is such a megastar that audiences will come to see him in anything.

Certainly entertaining, Black Adam is a bizarre and lavish fantasy action adventure filled with multiple superhero’s, zombies and crazy gods and gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and audiences must stay for the very end to see a cameo appearance.

Places Are Like Lovers

Granada Nights

Director: Abid Khan

Cast: Antonio Aakeel, Oscar Casas, Quintessa Swindell, Virgile Bramly, Julius Fleischanderl, Laura Frederico, Alice Sanders

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

This film is in English with minimal subtitles.

This film has not been released commercially yet and is only available to watch in South Africa as part of the Durban International Film Festival DIFF2021 online program

Writer and director Abid Khan takes the viewer through a whimsical and exploratory film about young people travelling in Southern Spain in his delightful debut film Granada Nights which follows the adventures of Ben, a young British Pakistani man who arrives in Granada in the Costa do Sol in search of his girlfriend Helen.

When Helen has moved on and at the urging of a complete stranger Amelia played by Quintessa Swindell who encourages him to live life spontaneously and not be such a tourist but a traveller. Ben decides to remain in Granada to study Spanish at the Centre for Modern Languages. He moves into an apartment and meets Lucas played by Oscar Casas; Oscar played by Julius Fleischanderl, a wealthy Scandinavian and Silvia played by Laura Frederico.

Ben soon forgets Helen and joins his new friends in an endless series of late night parties and fiestas in Granada, a decadent mix of youthful nonchalance encouraged by the drifter barman Big Dave played by Virgile Bramly.

Abid Khan’s fun loving and incredibly light film Granada Nights is a wonderful story of a young man who grows up emotionally from being a nerdy tourist to an adventurous millennial who realizes that he has to experience life and not take it so seriously.

Inspired by Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy, Khan’s direction perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the modern traveller a group of transient young people that drink, party and socialize while he demonstrates how Ben grows from being a shy young tourist who transforms into a modern traveller who soaks up all the excitement and experiences that Granada has to offer from the late night parties to the strange Catholic parades that occur on the cobbled streets of this ancient Southern Spanish town with the Alhambra at its centre.

The well-scripted snappy dialogue also captures how millennials converse without taking on the bigger responsibilities of the 40 something generation such as job status, marriage and children. 

There is a poignant scene in Granada nights when Ben has a late night discussion with a Pakistani flower seller in the Arab quarter of the Moorish styled Granada about such contemporary issues as islamophobia and the concept of being an immigrant in Europe.

A critical moment comes when Ben finally does reunite with Helen his lacklustre British girlfriend played by Alice Sanders just as he falls in love with Spanish beauty Ella played by Tabata Cerezo.

As Amelia so aptly states at the film’s beginning, places are like lovers, so Ben decides to take a chance on a more flamboyant side of Granada complete with flamenco dancing, broken hearts and late night shots. Granada Nights will make viewers want to be 20 again and travel the world. It is a carefree film without taking its storyline too seriously.

Granada Nights gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, a lovely film that beautifully embraces all the energies of the transient youth. Highly recommended viewing.

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April 2024
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