Posts Tagged ‘Salma Hayek’

The Vatican of Fashion

House of Gucci

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek, Camille Cottin, Reeve Carney

Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 38 minutes

Oscar winner Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) takes on the role of Patrizia Raggiani, an ambitious young woman who catches and marries the heir to the Gucci Fashion empire Maurizio Gucci expertly played with a suitable amount of noble panache by Oscar nominee Adam Driver (Marriage Story, BlackKKlansman) in the unashamedly decadent new film by director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, American Gangster, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise) simply called House of Gucci.

Despite the length of this film, it’s the brilliant casting of fellow Oscar winners Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Maurizio’s aging but elegant Tuscan father Roldolfo Gucci, Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) as Maurizio’s flamboyant uncle Aldo and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) as the crazy cousin Paolo Gucci that makes House of Gucci so utterly enthralling and entertaining.

A wonderful tale of a family dynasty that crumbles from the inside out, of a fashion empire, once sacred that gets corrupted by greed, deceit and commercialization that to such a point, the once heralded name of Gucci turns to the young and emerging Texan fashion designer Tom Ford to revolutionize their look for the late 1990’s.

At the heart of all the backstabbing, the pure malevolence and the unadulterated affluence, is two brilliant performances by Lady Gaga and Adam Driver that hold this crazy family tale together. These two actors are the emotional core of a film which at times comes across as a soap opera, quite literally and at other times like the collapse of a deliciously evil empire that let in a scheming intruder.

Audiences should look out for some excellent supporting performances by Anjelica Huston’s nephew Jack Huston as the hard-nosed business advisor to the Gucci family Domenico de Sole and Oscar nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) as the outrageous fortune teller and clairvoyant Pina Aurienna, who influences Patrizia to go to extreme lengths to take revenge on her wayward husband Maurizio.

Similar in vein to Ridley Scott’s other film about an outrageously wealthy family the Getty’s in the Oscar nominated All The Money in the World, House of Gucci is bizarre, flamboyant and entertaining as this Italian family drama of deception, betrayal and legacy extends from Milan to Switzerland to the fashionable sidewalks of New York’s Fifth Avenue.

There are some tremendously funny lines in this film and Lady Gaga and Adam Driver deserve Oscar nominations for their roles as the infamous couple Patrizia Raggiani and Maurizio Gucci, whose fame is cemented in the fashion history books, drenched in recriminations and blood.

House of Gucci is a fascinating portrait of a family collapsing from the inside, of a notorious couple whose love sours into revenge and of a distinguished fashion house which had to evolve from an Italian family business into a multinational corporation as it reached the 21st century in order to remain appealing to the immensely wealthy American and Japanese markets.

For its flaws and crazy foibles, House of Gucci gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 but audiences should see it for the electrifying performances of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver.

The duo are both Gucci guilty and gorgeous.

Have a AAA Day

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Director: Patrick Hughes

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson, Antonio Banderas, Frank Grillo, Morgan Freeman, Richard E. Grant, Tom Hopper, Caroline Goodall, Rebecca Front

It’s always good to get the same director and writer back for the sequel. In this case director Patrick Hughes reunites with screenwriter Tom O’Connor for the even crazier sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard with 2021’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard reuniting the cast of the original: Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek and Samuel L. Jackson who star in what is best described as a globetrotting action movie on speed.

If viewers need pure and unadulterated escapism, then get to the cinema now and watch The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard with a supporting cast that includes Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) as Reynold’s character Michael Bryce’s mentor Senior and Oscar nominee Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) as the evil Greek Villain Aristotle Papadopoulos.

This crazy foul-mouthed action films starts off with Michael Bryce having therapy for his trauma after realizing that he is a failed bodyguard and then soon Bryce is reunited with Sonia Kincaid, played with a mad cap brilliance by Salma Hayek on the Italian resort island of Capri. Sonia is desperate to find her estranged hitman husband the equally foul-mouthed and violent Darius Kincade played by Samuel L. Jackson who had no trouble reprising this role.

The violence and mayhem inducing trio are soon recruited by an Interpol agent Bobby O’Neil wonderfully played by the macho Italian-American actor Frank Grillo (The Grey, Captain America and the Winter Soldier) to stop psycho Greek shipping tycoon Papadopoulos played with a lavish sophistication by Banderas who is intent on destroying Europe’s complex digital infrastructure, causing the EU economy to collapse.

The action in this film is completely over the top, punctuated by some really cool plot points such as the continually battered Michael Bryce sending voice notes to his future self, wishing him a AAA day.

As the outlandish story jet sets around Italy from Portofino to Florence to Rome, the action sequences are crazy and unoriginal, even borrowing an exact series of action scenes from The Spy who Loved Me.

Besides the bad language and often incoherent script, the only other highlight are the brief scenes that Hayek and Banderas share together reigniting their blazing screen presence first developed in their 1995 film Desperado directed by Mexican director Robert Rodriguez. Then of course there is the ultra-funny Ryan Reynolds who is hilarious as the bruised Michael Bryce who appears to survive every assassination attempt under the Tuscan sun.

Catch this crazy spy spoof The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard only in cinemas now which gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10. This is classic Millennium studio content which sells box office tickets and attracts the big stars to their action adventure films.

Transactional Dynamics

Beatriz at Dinner

Director: Miguel Arteta

Cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, Chloe Sevigny, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky

Puerto Rican director Miguel Arteta directs Oscar nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) in an insightful comedy of manners Beatriz at Dinner which also stars Connie Britton, Chloe Sevigny and John Lithgow.

It is so refreshing to see Salma Hayek take on a more unconventional role in an arthouse film which had its premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival http://www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/

Beatriz is a struggling massage therapist, a Mexican immigrant to a California who also works at a Cancer centre in Santa Monica. Beatriz loves animals and is deeply distressed when her goat dies, supposedly killed by a neighbour. After spending most of the day at the Cancer centre she has one last appointment: at the home of a wealthy woman Kathy’s whose plush and spacious residence in a gated community overlooking the Pacific in Newport Beach, California, which proves to be Beatriz’s emotional untangling.

Connie Britton from the hit TV show Nashville plays sickly sweet Kathy who initially treats Beatriz as one of her special paid friends even though she is essentially her Mexican massage therapist.

Things go haywire when Beatriz’s old car fades on her and she is left stranded at this gorgeous home where Kathy insists she must stay for a very glamorous dinner party. Caterers have been brought in, the Mexican maid is ready to answer the door and the well-heeled guests include ruthless property developer Doug Strutt wonderfully played with that obnoxious temperament by Oscar nominee John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment).

Among the other guests are Alex played by Jay Duplass and his fabulous wife Shannon played with the cool American chic by Oscar nominee Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry).

Kathy’s husband Grant is hosting Doug Strutt to celebrate the ground breaking of a massive property development. As the evening progresses, Beatriz, a cat among the pigeons, sets everyone’s affluent artificiality on edge when she begins questioning their extravagant lifestyles and dubious moral choices.

The scenes between Salma Hayek and John Lithgow are particularly illuminating and form the backbone of a razor sharp film about class and socio-political transactional dynamics. About them and us.

About Beatriz realizing that in corporate America, ruled by a Trump presidency, there exists ruthless businessmen who will stop at nothing to obtain obscene wealth despite the environmental impact of building commercial resorts and hotels in poverty-stricken paradises like Guatemala and parts of Mexico, which have absolutely no benefit to the indigenous communities.

Salma Hayek is sensational in Beatriz at Dinner a return to her dazzling ability to portray eccentric characters like she did as the title role of Frida, director Julie Taymor’s colourful film about the acclaimed Mexican artist and revolutionary Frida Kahlo. Salma Hayek definitely needs to make more arthouse films whereby her unique acting abilities can really shine through.

Beatriz at Dinner is a wonderfully poignant film, a gentle reminder that when seated at a dinner table everyone’s true identity is revealed especially after a three course meal coupled with several glasses of Californian chardonnay.

Despite the contrived plot device of a broken down car, Beatriz at Dinner is an insightful portrayal of contemporary America and receives a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

 

 

Amsterdam Kill Run

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Director: Patrick Hughes

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Sam Hazeldine, Rod Hallett, Richard E. Grant

Despite an international cast, director Patrick Hughes stylistically violent action film The Hitman’s Bodyguard becomes a warped buddie movie with Samuel L. Jackson starring as Darius Kincaid a foulmouthed assassin who unwillingly teams up with the executive protection agent Michael Bryce played by Canadian Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds.

After an explosive opening sequence in Manchester, England and then followed by an equally hectic sequence in Coventry, Bryce is tasked with transporting Kincaid intact to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands to testify against evil Belarussian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich played by Oscar nominee Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) complete with dodgy accent.

What was Gary Oldman thinking appearing in such a film?

Then again what was another Oscar nominee Mexican star Salma Hayek (Frida) thinking appearing as the equally foulmouthed Honduran jailbird Sonia Kincaid wife to Darius?

Even the two sequences with Hayek and Jackson are drizzled in bloodshed which is pitiful considering that it detracts from any potential onscreen chemistry.

Clearly all the stars involved in The Hitman’s Bodyguard did not act in this film to further their careers.

Then again, obviously the director of The Expendables 3, Patrick Hughes knows that his audience is not going to take the film too seriously if he packs The Hitman’s Bodyguard with excessive violence that the film becomes stylistically nauseating especially considering the events that are currently happening in 21st century Europe including multiple random acts of terror in every city from London to Barcelona.

The only redeeming feature of The Hitman’s Bodyguard besides the onscreen sparing between Reynolds and Jackson is the multi chase sequence in Amsterdam involving a ski boat, motorcycle and various vehicles along the Dutch canals.

Action fans will be satisfied as basically every city featured in The Hitman’s Bodyguard gets shot at and blown to smithereens from Manchester to Amsterdam to The Hague.

Unlike director Edgar Wright’s excellent Southern crime caper Baby Driver, the action sequences in The Hitman’s Bodyguard is repulsively manufactured and the violence is deliberately pornographic. The story is definitely thin on content which underscores the question why such normally bankable stars including Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson would consider acting in such an excessively violent film without a pause to think what the real cinematic message conveys: That violence is acceptable internationally?

Even the brief appearances by character actors Richard E. Grant and Portuguese star Joaquim de Almeida as a sinister Interpol agent do not redeem the narrative in any significant way.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is big on action, violence, bloodshed and a massive body count (mostly of mean looking Belarussians) and low on nuanced content. Entertaining to an extent but way over done.

Vicious Laguna Lunacy

SAVAGES

Acclaimed director Oliver Stone (Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July) paints a lush, brutal and stylistically rich portrait of drug running along the Californian and Mexican border in his latest film  Savages  set between Laguna, California and Tijuana in Mexico and is almost Shakespearean in tone and plot. Savages assembles a fabulous cast including Taylor Kitsch last seen in Battleship and John Carter and Aaron Johnson, soon to be seen in the new version of Anna Karenina along with the blonde beauty Blake Lively (The Green Lantern) and a ludicrously well-cast group of veteran and independent actors including Academy Award winner Benicio del Toro, Academy Award nominees Salma Hayek, John Travolta and Demian Bechir.

Savage Shakespeare Surfer Style

While the vibrant poster for Savages suggests an intricate web of characters dealing in a Mexican-Californian trade-off, Oliver Stone imbues this complex plot of brutal treachery, violence, drug smuggling, sex and murder with an array of visual flourishes which makes Savages stand out as a unique and twisted drug running thriller making the most of the beautiful surfing paradise of Laguna, California while brilliantly contrasting that with all the devotional religious iconography so often associated with Catholic Mexico embodied in Tijuana and the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead

Oliver Stone, clearly influenced by his contemporaries Baz Luhrmann (Romeo and Juliet) and Steven Soderbergh  (Traffic) and not one to edit his narrative gives each of his main cast members enough screen time to flex their acting muscles interspersed with some exceptionally violent and brutal images of decapitation, torture and murder all adding to the central theme of beautiful savages.

Savages focuses on best friends Chon and Ben who not only share the same girlfriend Ophelia but also run a profitable and successful dope peddling operation in Southern California with the muscular Chon played by Taylor Kitsch as an aggressive Gung-Ho war veteran fresh from the horrors of Afghan conflicts and also exposed to one of the largest  opium growing region in the world. Buddhist leaning Botanist Ben comes up with a brilliant plan of producing the best cannabis in California and teams up with Chon to make sure the operation is successful with Ben as the brains and Chon as the brawn of the lucrative yet illicit narcotics operation.

Enter the Mexicans from Baja California headed by the flamboyant yet ruthless matriarch of a Tijuana drug cartel Elena played with relish by Salma Hayek with that flair which she so deftly illustrated in the remarkable film Frida. Supported by Lado,  a demonically mean killer and her trusted enforcer played with ambivalent psychopathic menace by Benicio del Toro and Demian Bichir (Che and A Better Life) as Alex the front man for the Mexicans in Laguna who are keen to infiltrate Chon and Ben’s mellow yet sophisticated dope peddling enterprise in the Surfer’s Paradise of Laguna.

What follows is an intricately plotted yet violent narrative of kidnapping, extortion, murder and vengeance which begs the question is humankind’s innate savagery endemic in a population in which survival of the species is paramount at whatever the cost? Given the right circumstances and in this film these are ruthless, every characters inner savagery is revealed in one form or another.

Savages is not for sensitive viewers and whilst Oliver Stone could have edited parts of the film one gets the visual impression that he was so caught up in the brutal Shakespearan tragedy of the entire narrative of Californian-Mexican drug running that too cut a scene would be murder. Watch out for some particularly brilliant scenes between  Lively and del Toro as captive and torturer and between Lively and the ever beautiful Salma Hayek. John Travolta’s turn as Dennis a middle income DEA officer playing both sides of the vicious Laguna turf war proves that he is still a brilliant actor.  While the ever versatile Emile Hirsch makes a small appearance as the Californian’s money launderer aptly named Spin.

As for the conclusion of Savages, its best expressed in Spanish, todo es posible – anything is possible….

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