Posts Tagged ‘Rhys Ifans’

Fortune Favours the Bold

The King’s Man

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Daniel Bruhl, August Diehl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Tom Hollander, Alison Steadman, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Topping the two previous Kingsman films, this highly anticipated prequel simply titled The King’s Man follows the adventures of Orlando Oxford, or the Duke of Oxford wonderfully played with a nuanced panache by Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The English Patient) as we track his valiant attempt to protect his son Conrad Oxford from harm.

The King’s Man fortunately is steeped in historical references and is set between 1902 and 1918. Director Matthew Vaughn places the story between the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa whereby the British were brutally confining Afrikaners in concentration camps to the outbreak of the 1st World War in Europe which was sparked off by the untimely assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.

Orlando Oxford is ably assisted by Shola played by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America) and Polly played by Gemma Arterton (The Quantum of Solace).

As World War I breaks out, the Duke’s son Conrad played by Harris Dickinson who was brilliant as the kidnapped J. Paul Getty III in Danny Boyle’s excellent TV series Trust, is desperate to fight in the front line. The Duke of Oxford in the meantime is trying to find a way of ending World War One, this atrociously bloody conflict as started by 3 first Cousins, all grandchildren of Queen Victoria: King George of Great Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia all of whom are dexterously played by Tom Hollander (Gosford Park, Pride and Prejudice).

In a particularly bizarre scene at a Russian ball, The Duke of Oxford and his son battle the outrageous Grigori Rasputin expertly played with sinister flamboyance by Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Anonymous).

As the action shifts around the world and director Matthew Vaughn efficiently cuts through all the historical cobwebs to reignite the story of The King’s Man with some stylishly entertaining action scenes, it is Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Oxford who becomes the action hero in a role which he clearly delighted in playing.

Audiences should look out for some great cameo roles, particularly veteran British actor Charles Dance (The Imitation Game, White Mischief) as Kitchener, Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited, A Single Man) as Morton and German actor Daniel Bruhl (Rush, Inglorious Basterds) as the shady Erik Jan Hanussen a malignant advisor to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.

Historically, The King’s Man is an intriguing action film, thoroughly entertaining and as a prequel it is sophisticated without taking itself too seriously.

If audiences enjoy a dazzling swashbuckler then The King’s Man which gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is far better than the other two Kings Men films Kingsman: The Secret Service and the outlandish Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

This time director Matthew Vaughn does this franchise justice and reiterates the motto that Manners Maketh Man.

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Spiderman: No Way Home

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Benedict Wong, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Charlie Cox, J. K. Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Angourie Rice, Rhys Ifans, Thomas Haden Church, Tom Hardy, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori

Film rating: 7.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 28 minutes

Director Jon Watts went all out in the third Spiderman film to feature Tom Holland in Spiderman: No Way Home, capitalizing on both the success of all the previous Spiderman films and expertly capitalizing on Sony’s new deal with Marvel Studios to incorporate Spiderman into The Avengers as part of a multi-million dollar trademark agreement between Sony and Disney Studios.

The sprightly Tom Holland reprises his role as Spiderman, but now he has completed school and him and his friends are applying to go to MIT which is the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

Before Peter Parker aka Spiderman can enter college, he has to deal with the immense media fallout of his alter ego being blown wide open by the previous villain Mysterio played by Jake Gyllenhaal in 2019’s Spiderman: Far From Home.

With pure imagination and skill, director Jon Watts makes Spiderman: No Way Home a far darker comic book adventure as Peter Parker has to contend with some uninvited guests from his previously unknown past, courtesy of a spell which he requested the pompous wizard Doctor Strange to cast on everyone forgetting that Peter Parker is in fact Spiderman. The spell obviously goes terribly wrong….

Much to his horror, some past evil villains emerge to take revenge again on Spiderman including Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) as Electro; Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Shadow of a Vampire, The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate) as the Green Goblin and Alfred Molina as Doc Octopus.

Spidey has to contend with these new villains as well as pressure from an increasingly gruff Doctor Strange played again by Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) who continually treats the young Peter Parker like an irresponsible college kid, which he essentially is.

Without giving any spoilers away, Spiderman: No Way Home is a fun filled Super hero film which will be sure to satisfy all the fans of the previous films. Audiences must stay beyond the closing credits to catch a glimpse of another Marvel monster who is desperate to meet the wayward web slinger.

Tom Holland does a wonderful job as Spiderman and even looks quite buff in the role compared to the first to films, but it is really director Jon Watts that makes the entire 2 and a half hour spectacle visually impressive channelling all that influence which acclaimed British director Christopher Nolan had on him. Clearly, Inception played a big part in Jon Watt’s directorial maturity.

Spiderman: No Way Home gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is immensely enjoyable family viewing.

Judging by how full the cinema was, this film is the theatrical blockbuster that 2021 so desperately needs. Watch it in cinemas now.

Manipulated Intelligence

Official Secrets

Director: Gavin Hood

Cast: Keira Knighley, Matthew Goode, Matt Smith, Rhys Ifans, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Northam, Indira Varma, Tamsin Greig, Jack Farthing, Conleth Hill

Set in London in 2003, South African director Gavin Hood’s British political film Official Secrets revolves around the complex story of Katherine Gunn who broke the Official Secrets Act and leaked highly classified Government information on British and American efforts to sway the vote in the UN in favour of a resolution legitimizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq on the dubious premise that Saddam Hussein was harbouring chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction.

Oscar nominee Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) stars as the morally conflicted Katherine Gunn who despite working for a highly classified division of the British Foreign Office and Mi6 deliberately leaked a politically sensitive memo to The Observer newspaper in London whereby political news reporter Martin Bright played by The Crown star Matt Smith.

Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Schindler’s List) reunites with Keira Knightley onscreen after their starring roles in director Saul Dibb’s magnificent costume drama The Duchess as he stars as human rights lawyer Ben Emmerson who decides to take on Gunn’s case in which she could be charged by the Crown prosecution for treason and for being a spy.

Official Secrets was Britain’s entry into the recent European Film Festival https://www.eurofilmfest.co.za/ which had recent screenings in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria in November before being released on the general circuit in December 2019.

Official Secrets is an engaging political thriller about manipulated intelligence and about the length powerful nations will go to, to legitimatize a foreign invasion even if the premise for such an invasion are both legally and morally flawed.

Featuring an array of British stars including Downton Abbey star Matthew Goode and Rhy Ifans along with Jeremy Northam and Poldark star Jack Farthing, Official Secrets is an engaging if slightly dark political thriller about recent events that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan by American and British forces.

Recommended for those that enjoy murky political thrillers, Official Secrets gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is interesting but not nearly as brilliant as such films as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or The Constant Gardener.

Time is on our Side

Alice Through the Looking Glass

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Director: James Bobin

Cast: Mia Waskowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lindsay Duncan, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall, Michael Sheen, Richard Armitage, Andrew Scott, Alan Rickman

Contrary to popular belief the author of Alice Through the Looking Glass was not high on drugs although the latest film version by James Bobin seems to suggest otherwise. Victorian author Lewis Carroll was prone to doses of Laudanum but certainly not to hallucinations due to any mind altering drugs. Carroll whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dawson did hang out with the Pre-Raphaelites and obviously possessed a vivid imagination.

Following the immense success of director Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010, Alice Through the Looking Glass fortunately reassembles the same cast with a much larger part for Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

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Additions to the new film, include British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (Hugo, Borat, The Dictator) as Father Time and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) as the misplaced father of the Mad Hatter, Zanik Hightopp.

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Mia Wasikowska reprises her role as Alice Kingsleigh and Lindsay Duncan (Birdman) stars as her mother Helen Kingsleigh.

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Visually, Alice Though the Looking Glass is a real treat, a sublime and whimsical journey into a fantasy world in which Alice must travel through time and a looking glass and not only battle Father Time but the evil Red Queen of Hearts, wonderfully played again by Helena Bonham Carter.

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This time the evil Queen seeks vengeance upon her sister Mirana, played with virginal innocence by Anne Hathaway, plunging Wonderland into chaos as the Queen of Hearts against the warnings of Father Time, confronts a past version of herself, a jealous little girl who was blamed for her sister’s naughty tricks of stealing tarts.

Whilst Alice Through The looking Glass will certainly appeal to a younger female audience, its themes are certainly of an adult nature – never regret the past, never try and take revenge on your family and most importantly always strive for what is your rightful inheritance. Mia Wasikowa is utterly believable as the headstrong Alice who in the prologue of the film is battling to save her late father’s ship from being taken away by greedy Victorian creditors.

Alice Through the Looking Glass, despite some big names in the cast is a brilliant ensemble piece, beautifully told and superbly directed by James Bobin under the guidance of Tim Burton.

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Naturally Depp is completely whacky and delightful as the incorrigible mad hatter, but it’s really Sacha Baron Cohen who steals the show as the ubiquitous Father Time who proves that time is really on our side, despite the proverbial warning.

This rewarding sequel is fun, visually fantastic and highly recommended viewing, a whimsical journey through the looking glass into a parallel universe in which time paradoxically becomes an embodiment of both past regrets and future reconciliations.

The Ultimate Social Climber

Becky’s sharp rise to Fame and Fortune

Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackeray is best known as the author of the seminal novel about British life during and following the Napoleonic Wars in the wonderfully descriptive, incisive and popular novel Vanity Fair. Published in 1877, the novel remains as relevant today with language and style which is as accessible in the early 21st century as it originally was in the 19th century. Vanity Fair was not a Dickens or an Eliot novel, all social realism and stark morals but light, sharp and ironic with Thackeray weaving a vast plot with a huge collection of characters with flair and dexterity always keeping the reader in his sardonic sights, whilst remaining poignant, acerbic and darkly entertaining.

Vanity Fair follows the fortunes of Becky Sharp, the heroine a governess who becomes an artful social climber and marries into the wealthy Crawley family, illustrating how unscrupulous and brilliantly wicked and willful a heroine can be. The novel is episodic by nature and weaves many tales surrounding Becky’s rise and fall and rise again in the colourful and notorious Regency period in England, when as a nation, the British were establishing themselves as an Imperial power to be reckoned with.

Renowned Indian film director Mira Nair who brought the colourful and joyous Monsoon Wedding to international cinema, was at the helm of the film version of Vanity Fair, featuring the surprising but clever casting of American sweetheart actress and star of Legally Blonde and Cruel Intentions, Reese Witherspoon as Becky Sharp supported by a vast sea of British actors from Oscar Winner Jim Broadbent to Jonathan Rhys-Meyers of The Tudors fame to a lesser known Robert Pattinson, now famous as Edward Cullen in the Twilight Saga.

Whilst novel and film are two entirely different mediums both can be appreciated the first being a great social commentary of the emerging British Empire and the film as a sparkling and lavish period tale with exotic settings from Belgium and Bath to Baden-Baden ending with a vibrant colourful elephant ride in India.

Rereading Thackeray’s Vanity Fair certainly reveals how little has changed in high society over the centuries with nations still as obsessed with wealth, pride, status and ambition while stronger individuals take advantage of the weak for the benefit of securing more power and fame.

 

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