Showing posts with label jessica chastain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jessica chastain. Show all posts

19 January 2015

Film Review - A Most Violent Year (2014)

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Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Distributor: Icon Film Distribution
Release Date: 23rd January 2015 (UK)
Running Time: 125 mins
Director: J. C. Chandor
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks

1981 is on record as statistically being one of the most dangerous years for New York City.  As well as being a dangerous year, it is also my birth year, so I sat down to enjoy this film thinking about those The Year I Was Born books that you got given as ‘original’ gifts as a child, eager to find out about New York City, in the year I was born.

The film follows Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac; Ex Machina, The Two Faces of January) and wife Anna (Jessica Chastain; Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty) as they try to succeed with their oil trading business in the most violent year.  Business has been up and down for them, someone has been stealing oil from their tankers and they are being threatened with legal action from the DA for various accounts of embezzlement, but they are in the process of purchasing a large warehouse facility to greatly expand their business.

When a film is called A Most Violent Year you’re expecting a level of violence, so I spent a lot of the film waiting for something to happen, which kept me on my toes. However, the film is not about the city and the violent year, the story is more about an immigrant trying to do well in business and life, with crooked business associates, in a crooked business, in a violent city.  The nods to the violent year are achieved by radio snippets about shooting peppered throughout the film.

Jessica Chastain’s performance is standout and the highlight of the film, Anna’s moral compass slightly scewed to get the job done and to do right by the business and her family.  She skirts round questions from her husband about how legally they’ve been working with such class, very much aware that their competitors are just as crooked as they are.

One of the more interesting characters is Julian (Elyes Gabel; Interstellar, Game of Thrones), a driver who early on the film has his oil tanker stolen at gun point. He is then, after much debate, given a gun to protect himself, however he is really not emotionally ready to be back on the road. Abel is too preoccupied with financially concerns to fully sympathise with his employees state of mind, and as a result Julian handles his situation badly.  Girls fans like myself will also be pleased to see Christopher Abbott as one of the hijackers, who puts in a fine and gutsy performance.

A Most Violent Year is a subtle, suspenseful but rather slow moving at times, however an interesting portrayal of a well meaning man trying to do right in a violent and crooked world.  Though entertaining enough, I don’t think the film packs the punch which it promises.

Side Note - For old times sake I just dug out my copy of The Year I Was Born book, which tells me that on my birthday an ex-Trappist monk hijacked a Boeing 737 flying between Dublin and London.  He did this by covering himself in petrol and demanding the plane changed location to Iran, but being a short distance flight, the plane only had enough petrol to go to Paris.  When they landed in Paris, in discussions with the police the ex-monk's demands did not include any financial gain, only that Pope John Paul II make public a series of apocalyptic visions and prophecies called the Third Secret of Fatima.  I hope I’m not the only one thinking that this story would have made a far more interesting movie than A Most Violent Year.


Alice Hubley

10 June 2013

Zero Darky Thirty DVD Review

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After missing Zero Dark Thirty's theatrical run, I settled on straight to DVD alternative Code Name: Geronimo which also detailed US Navy Seal's hunt for Bin Laden as well as the political and military politics building up to this. Whilst the cheaper version was an honourable attempt to portray these events, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty will remain the definitive interpretation of one of the most prominent moments in military history.

Zero Dark Thirty follows Maya (Jessica Chastain) a CIA agent who is inherently driven by the concept of hunting down Bin Laden. We see Maya sit through brutal interrogations with suspected terrorists in her hunt for information, which ultimately leads to threats against her own life. The last segment of the feature details a US Navy Seal team using Maya's intelligence to raid Bin Laden's compound and finally take down the figure-head of Al Qaeda.

Despite a hefty runtime of 157 minutes, Zero Dark Thirty remains fast paced throughout thanks to a sharp screenplay from Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) and energetic direction from Bigelow. Boal's screenplay feels completely convincing in its portrayal of the events (whether it is or not is anyone's guess), with every information/military briefing meeting feeling grounded in tension and political gravitas. Boal's narrative gradually unwinds with every piece of information that Maya learns, allowing Zero Dark Thirty to detailing the highly dangerous world of the CIA.

Bigelow's direction is tense and hold viewer's attentions in a tight-grip throughout. Whether taking an action-centric or more dramatic approach (many of the tracking/discussion sequences are far more gripping than the action ones) Zero Dark Thirty remains completely entrancing. The raid on the compound in the film's conclusion is thrilling, despite reflecting that this was not a clean-cut mission - several innocent people were taken out. Despite this, it is hard not to feel like there is a sinister pleasure behind many of these action scenes - with the quick editing and high-octane style reflecting some form of brutal gung-ho quest for blood and revenge. This can make Zero Dark Thirty feel like a rather dubious, problematic watch.

The cast lead with utter conviction, in particular the magnificent Jessica Chastain who captures Maya's unparalleled drive to end this manhunt - which is truly showcased in the film's final sequence. Supporting turns from Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler, and Chris Pratt also round off the stellar cast. Also look out for an odd appearance from John Barrowman and Brit action favourite Scott Adkins.

There is no doubt that Zero Dark Thirty is a gripping and truly thrilling watch. Boal's screenplay feels like an accurate and detailed depiction of this military manhunt, whilst Bigelow champions this through slick, tense direction. However, it is hard to ignore these sense of gleeful brutality and bloodlust in the film's final act.


Andrew McArthur

Rating: 15
DVD/BD Release Date: 10th June 2013 (UK)
Buy:Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray + UV Copy)
Win: Zero Dark Thirty on Blu Ray (opens up on a The Peoples Movies page)

27 March 2013

BBC To Premiere Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus This April

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BBC 2 will premiere Ralph Fiennes’ BAFTA nominated contemporary version of William Shakespeare’s political thriller, CORIOLANUS, on Saturday 6th April at 21:45, which will also be simulcast on BBC HD.

Produced by BBC Films withRalph Fiennes directing and stars alongside Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox and James Nesbitt. CORIOLANUS is a tense and timeless thriller of power broking, political manipulation and the arguments and prejudices of opposing social extremes, set against a backdrop of a republic caught up in a long and bitter war.

Caius Martius ‘Coriolanus’ (Ralph Fiennes), a revered and feared Roman General is at odds with the city of Rome and his fellow citizens. Pushed by his controlling and ambitious mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) to seek the exalted and powerful position of Consul, he is loath to ingratiate himself with the masses whose votes he needs in order to secure the office. When the public refuse to support him, Coriolanus’s anger prompts a riot which culminates in his expulsion from Rome. The banished hero then allies himself with his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to take his revenge on the city.

Read our review of the film here after you check out the trailer below

19 December 2012

Official Trailer to Zero Dark Thirty

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Currently enjoying its fair share of critical praise and controversy here and across the pond, Zero Dark Thirty heads to UK cinemas on the 25th of January, and Universal has just released a new trailer to tide us over in the mean time.

In it we're introduced via brusque and chilly voiceover to Jason Clarke's character, simply named 'Dan', who appears to be addressing a terrorism detainee in a cell. "I am bad news. I am not your friend. I'm not gonna help you. I'm gonna break you. Any questions?" we hear him say, presumably foreshadowing one of the film's more controversial plot elements: systematic and US government approved torture.

Indeed, there has been a bit of a hubbub brewing over the film's handling of this sensitive subject, with some critics arguing that the film inadvertently validates the use of torture through its results-getting depiction, though just as many others have been quick to rise to the film's defence, reinforcing Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal's dense, detailed and thrilling approach to the material.

Heated moral debate around the film always seemed a given, considering the immense severity of the subject matter. Opening with reconstructed emergency calls from 9/11 and charting the ensuing investigative hunt that led to Bin Laden's cathartic demise, Zero Dark Thirty seeks to be a comprehensive document of a tumultuous and generation-defining time in American history, and as such is unavoidably emotionally charged. We'll report back with our full review of the film come January, but until then check out the new trailer below:

The hunt for Osama bin Laden preoccupied the world and two American presidential administrations for more than a decade. But in the end, it took a small, brilliant team of CIA operatives to track him down. Every aspect of their mission was shrouded in secrecy. Though some of the details have since been made public, many of the most significant parts of the intelligence operation-including the central role played by that team-are brought to the screen for the first time in a gripping new film by the Oscar®-winning creative duo of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.

Their account of bin Laden's pursuit and capture, vivid yet faithful to the facts, takes the viewer inside the hubs of power and to the front lines of this historic mission, culminating in the special operations assault on a mysterious, suburban Pakistani compound.

13 September 2012

Jessica Chastain Goes Black For Trailer For Guillermo Del Toro’s Mama

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This month Jennifer Lawrence will make her Horror d├ębut in House At The End Of The Street (21st September) In 2013 Hollywood's other it girl Jessica Chastain dawns a new look to appear in her own mandatory horror flick debut in Mama and check out the new trailer!

"What Jessica Chastain has Gone Black?!!" I'm sure that raised a few eyebrows, I'm afraid it's not a headline about the in demand actress but the new look (or wig) she has for this film, a film which is been presented by Guillermo Del Toro. Mama sees the Spanish scare master as executive producer as well as mentor for first time director Andres Muschietti whom the film is on his short film from a few years ago. Mama tells the tale of Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Annabel (Chastain) his girlfriend who end becoming surrogate parents To Lucas' nieces who were left alone in the forest after the death of their parents though they might have not been alone after all!

 Mama we first heard about a few years back thanks to cinehouse and we were impressed then as we are now for this film version. When Del Toro offers new film makers his mentor skills he does seem to get the best out of those under his wings(most of the time), Mama looks a creepy film which has Del Toro's trademark style. This type of film may not been anything original but when it's well made film fans and horror-philes will appreciate what their watching here's hoping this one is alot better than his last produced film Don't be Afraid of the Dark, and on first evidence this one looks an vast improvement.

 Mama doesn't have an official UK release date but American horror fans can catch this one on 18th January 2013.
Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their parents were killed. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night. Five years ago, sisters Victoria and Lilly vanished from their suburban neighborhood without a trace. Since then, their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), have been madly searching for them. But when, incredibly, the kids are found alive in a decrepit cabin, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home. As Annabel tries to introduce the children to a normal life, she grows convinced of an evil presence in their house. Are the sisters experiencing traumatic stress, or is a ghost coming to visit them? How did the broken girls survive those years all alone? As she answers these disturbing questions, the new mother will find that the whispers she hears at bedtime are coming from the lips of a deadly presence.