Showing posts with label jacki weaver. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jacki weaver. Show all posts

17 September 2014

Film Review - Magic In The Moonlight (2014)

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Genre: Comedy, Romance
Distributor: 19th September 2014 (UK)
Rating: 15
Running Time:97 Minutes
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater

After the sensational Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's latest feature sees him returning to the sort of nostalgic, charming and ever-so-slight fare that he seems to adore making. Taking us back to the 1920s, Magic in the Moonlight is a tale packed with a sumptuous visual aesthetic and absorbing performances - but little real substance.

Allen's latest settles in a wealthy estate in the South of France where Stanley (Colin Firth) an English illusionist goes undercover to unmask Sophie (Emma Stone), a suspected American swindler who claims to be clairvoyant. However, personal feelings get in the way of this dynamic and Stanley finds his judgement becoming cloudy as he falls for the young American.

Opening with a sprightly Cole Porter number, Allen starts as he means to go on by crafting the light and breezy, ever-charming tone that we have come to expect from his period features. This welcoming atmosphere is also bolstered by the appearance of Firth's Stanley, a man touring the country posing as Chinese conjurer Wei Ling Soo - when we first see him out of costume, Firth delights, arriving like a steam-train of dry sarcasm and snappy wit.

Upon shifting the narrative to Stanley's travels in France, Allen and cinematographer Darius Khondji pack the tale with a fairytale like aesthetic beauty - from the greenery of the rich country estates to the dazzling pastel colours of the cliffsides and seas. Combined with dazzling period costumes from Sonia Grande, Magic in the Moonlight is a visual feast that fully transports us back to a more appealing, carefree world of 1920s characters and whimsy.

Emma Stone brings a welcome sparkiness to the fold, with Allen's sharp dialogue flowing effortlessly from the wide-eyed, energetic actresses' tongue. There is an initial likeable simplicity to Sophie, yet it is always clear that there is slightly more depth to her occasionally suspect motivations. Paired with a savvy, sharp turn from Firth, Magic in the Moonlight should work effortlessly - and undeniably there is an amusing battle of personalities between the pair, however, this is squandered by a misjudged romantic turn in the narrative.

Whilst there is a watchable chemistry between the pair, this is not a convincing romantic chemistry - with the relationship never feeling particularly authentic (perhaps this is Allen's intention?). This is most likely due to the blatant age-gap between the pair and the fact we never quite believe that Firth's Stanley is head over heels for the near-thirty years junior Sophie. Given that this takes up such a vast part of Allen's narrative, this romantic angle brings a severe dip in quality.

Saving graces are provided by the delightful aesthetic, breezy humour and occasional sparks of dry brilliance in the dialogue. There are welcome supporting turns by the ever brilliant Eileen Atkins and Simon McBurney, and likeable appearances from Jacki Weaver and Marcia Gay Harden. However, unlike the magnificent Blue Jasmine, there is never anything particularly substantial (like Cate Blanchett's performance) for us as viewers to hold onto and be engrossed by.

Magic in the Moonlight is light, carefree and whimsically charming. With sumptuous visuals and period details, but little real substance, this is Allen at his most frustratingly pleasant and mediocre.

Andrew McArthur

Abig thanks to Andrew for letting us use his Culture Fix review

14 November 2013

Top American History Dramas (Parkland Feature)

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PARKLAND is a historical drama recounting the chaotic events that occurred in the Parkland hospital and elsewhere in Dallas following John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In anticipation of the release of the new movie, we are taking a look at the top American historical drama films in cinema.

LINCOLN (2013)

Directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln is a historical drama that follows the final four months of Lincoln’s life, primarily focusing on his efforts to have the thirteenth amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the House of Representatives. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards winning Best Achieving in Production Design and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

Argo (2012)

This nail biting thriller follows a CIA agent as he instigates an undercover mission to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. The film is based on the CIA operative Tony Mendez’s book The Master of Disguise and The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman. Argo received widespread acclaim and seven Academy Award nominations and won three, for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Picture. The film also won five Golden Globe Award nominations, winning Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director.

The Patriot (2000)

The Patriot is an American historical war film depicting the story of an American, widowed, father of seven as he is swept into the American Revolutionary War when his family threatened by the British. The protagonist, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), is a composite character based on four real American Revolutionary War heroes. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and became a classic American film.

Apollo 13 (1995)

The incredibly journey of Americas’ third Moon landing aboard Apollo 13 is portrayed through this docudrama film directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton. Surviving an on-board explosion which deprives the spacecraft of most of its oxygen supply and electric power, forcing an abort mission and struggling to get home, the film is packed with non-stop suspense. Apollo 13 received critical acclaim and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning two. The film grossed over $335 million worldwide during its theatrical release and is an American classic.


One of the most shocking moments in TV history, and a major event in the history of the United States and the wider world, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy set in motion events that would change lives, and the world, forever. The new film Parkland retraces the actions of some of the lesser-known players on that fateful day in 1963 – the staff of the Parkland Hospital, some of the bystanders, and members of the FBI and Secret Service. A must-see, delving into the details of the people behind the scenes, Parkland is the latest film to show an important drama in US history.

PARKLAND is released in the UK on November 22nd.

29 June 2013

Stoker DVD Review

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Rating: 18
BD/DVD Release Date: 1st July 2013
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Cast: Mia Wsikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman
Buy StokerBlu-ray / DVD

If you can avoid the trailer, then for God’s sake do because here’s a film that benefits from going in blind. Park Chan Wook’s Stoker is a thing of undeniable beauty; a carefully crafted piece of art, and there’s a word I don’t go throwing around too often. Essentially it’s a story about sexual awakening against a backdrop of dysfunctional family politics, but as with most great films, it’s not in the idea: it’s the execution.

The first half hour may strain patience, but it’s worth it. Wook takes time to set up his near epic tales, but after that slow start the film starts winding tighter and tighter, releasing brief flurries of energy whilst maintaining the illusion of a melodrama.  Here is a film horrific and deeply unsettling, without giving itself over to the horror genre.  Early scenes of India in the basement are thick with suspense, and moments of mystery call up Hitchcockian influences.You’ll spend a lot of time wondering just what in buggery is going on until finally Wook delivers a fantastic phone-box realisation scene and the film, rather than falling into place, lifts.

Important to the horror aspect is Mathew Goode’s electrifying performance as India’s estranged uncle, a man who appears just after her father’s death and upsets the balance of the household. To be fair I had expected Goode would be on top form, but this is something different.  There’s so much going on under the surface, so many silent and manipulative glances that you need a second viewing to catch the subtlety, Goode’s performance is the prize of the piece. Wasikowska’s India is something of gothic beauty also, shifting from what could have been a tired Burton character to a solid Angela Carter heroine.  We should be hearing a lot more from her in the future if this is anything to go by.

As with every Clint Mansell soundtrack Stoker is a thing to behold, furthering those Hitchcock influences with epic strings whilst digging deeper into India’s slowly dawning mind state with heartfelt piano.

Wook’s keen sense of style and image are fantastic , perhaps even a career best. The Gothic grandeur of the colonial house is captured with apparent ease, every frame looks like a painting, every image is a goldmine, there’s enough symbolism here to fill a hundred books. Repetition and explanation of certain details allows Wook’s film to achieve a bizarre nostalgic quality. This works hand-in-hand with the vicious and cold quality of the night time sequences allowing the horror to take shape.

Kidman’s performance fits in somewhere here; as a detail. And a fine one.  Just as important as India or Charlie, Kidman’s performance is seductive, pathetic, and heart-breaking: her’s is the damaged thread that winds throughout, adding the most pure strain of heart-ache to Stoker.

Macabre, erotic, visually seductive, perfectly cast and performed, and flaunting a plot so thick with mystery and meaning you’ll feel your brain swell. Stoker may just be a genuine masterpiece from a genuine master.


Scott Clark

[This is a repost of the Glasgow Film Festival review]

21 January 2013

GFF2013 - New Trailer And Clip For Park Chan-Wook's Stoker

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At last week's Glasgow Film Festival launch the film that stood out for me was the inclusion of Park Chan-Wook's Stoker and even last night's Sundance premier fairly mixed but positive reviews it's still one of our anticipated films. On this rather cold (and some places snow covered) damp afternoon  we have a new 60 second UK trailer & first clip for Stoker delivering dark, twisted creepiness in a downward spiral of mistrust and deception.

Mia Wasikowska plays India a young woman whose mourning the death of her father(Dermont Mulroney) with Nicole Kidman playing her  emotionally unstable mother Evelyn both are visited by India’s mysterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) whom she's intrigued with despite knowing about his existence. However when Charlie arrives it also marks the mysterious disappearance of many of the locals and over time India discovers her uncle may have an ulterior motive on why he’s here.

Probably out of the Korean directors making their English language debut this year Park Chan-Wook is probably the more familiar name amongst cinephiles largely thanks to the Vengeance trilogy which includes the brilliant Oldboy subject to a Hollyood remake from Spike Lee starring Josh Brolin. However the translation of Chan-Wook's storytelling to English language will be the test but as his previous films have been well received we have plenty of faith that Stoker will do the business when it's released.

In the first clip from Stoker we get see how much more unstable Nicole Kidman's character really is but also a question mark over India too, as she might be hiding something too like her Uncle Charlie! Stoker is set for a 1st March UK,Irish and US release date with the film playing at Glasgow Film Festival on 16th & 17th February. Stoker also stars Jacki Weaver, Lucas Til,Alden Ehrenreich with Tony and Ridley Scott as executive producers Trailer is courtesy of   Empire with clip from