Tag Archives: Olga Kurylenko

[Trailer] – Oblivion

8 Dec

Oblivion

Tom Cruise, after the brilliant Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, seems to be on the lookout for a comeback. Sure, Rock of Ages wasn’t a worthy next step, but he’s lining up projects for him to headline and become a big action star once again. Jack Reacher will the first step towards cementing that status, but there’s also Oblivion, for which a trailer hast just been released which you can watch below.

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[Review] – Seven Psychopaths

24 Oct

Title: Seven Psychopaths
Year: 2012
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Gabourey Sidibe, Kevin Corrigan, Zeljko Ivanek, Michael Pitt, Michael Stuhlbarg, Harry Dean Stanton
MPAA Rating: R, strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use
Runtime: 110 min
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Metacritic: 66

Martin McDonagh is (inarguably, really) one of the very best living playwrights we have today. The Irishman is the author of the Leenane Trilogy as well as the Aran Islands Trilogy of plays, not to mention The Pillowman and A Behanding in Spokane, and four of his works have received Tony Award nominations for Best Play. Then in 2005 he made Six Shooter, a 27-minute short film starring Brendan Gleeson that won him an Oscar for Best Live Action Short which he would use as a launching pad for In Bruges, his first feature-length effort that would come in 2008 and that would see him reunite with Mr. Gleeson.

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[Trailer] – Seven Psychopaths

14 Aug

If I had to make a list of the ten movies left this year that I’m most highly anticipating, Seven Psychopaths would surely rank among them. Thankfully it’s only a couple of months until we get to see it, and it’s just gotten a trailer which you can watch after the cut.

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There Be Dragons

14 Jun

Title: There Be Dragons
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Roland Joffé
Writer: Roland Joffé
Starring: 
Charlie Cox, Wes Bentley, Dougray Scott, Unax Ugalde, Olga Kurylenko, Golshifteh Farahani, Geraldine Chaplin, Rodrigo Santoro, Derek Jacobi, Lily Cole
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, violence and combat sequences, some language and thematic elements
Runtime: 
122 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 
11%

 

I didn’t like There Be Dragons, there’s just no other way around it and I’m just going to go out and say it from the get-go, it just seriously did nothing for me. I mean, it actually looks pretty damn decent, and if these sort of productions values had been given to a better direction or script then I actually think this had a ton of potential in it. And it’s even more discouraging when the writer-director in question is Roland Joffé, who’s actually a two-time Academy Award nominee for The Killing Fields and The Mission, which are two very decent flicks, so it’s not as though this was an unproven new guy handling this wannabe-epic, it was a guy who’s been great before but that just did absolutely nothing worth praising in this one.

And, actually, the direction provided by Mr. Joffé is not entirely terrible, I mean, it’s pretty bad, but it’s not what made this film feel a bit unbearable to me. That would be the script, written by Mr. Joffé himself, which is a clear front-runner to win the year’s worst screenplay prize, it’s really that bad. You get him trying to mix up two stories into something cool with a lot of battle sequences just jammed up in there and doesn’t work for a second, you get him trying to be super emotional and spiritual with the stuff he’s writing, but the language he uses is just so indisputably terrible that it’s just an absolute crapfest.

The plot is basically a stab at a Spanish Civil War epic mixed with a biopic of the founder of the Opus Dei religious organisation, with an added fictitious rivalry between that man, Josemaría Escrivá, and Manolo, who was his best friend as a child. And Manolo is played by Wes Bentley, who a decade ago was part of that trio of young actors to come out of the masterpiece that was American Beauty, alongside Mena Suvari and Thora Birch, that everyone expected to go on to exceptional things, but, much like his two co-stars, just didn’t (though Ms. Birch was in Ghost World which is pretty terrific, but nothing beyond that). My guess is that the assumed greatness didn’t happen, even if the talent was there, because Mr. Bentley probably just doesn’t know how to judge a good screenplay even if he was in that one perfect film, proven by the fact that not only was he in last year’s Jonah Hex, a film even worse than this one, but that he’s actually been caught on record stating that this film rivals American Beauty in character, and I won’t even get started about how stupid that made him sound.

The story is just poorly told really, structurally it just feels like different blocks of narrative and structure that didn’t fit well together just crammed uncomfortably next to one another, and it’s pretty much all told via flashbacks. We get to see Manolo as a fascist spy and falling in love with a Hungarian revolutionary played by Olga Kurylenko who’s in turn in love with the Republic military leader played by Rodrigo Santoro, a guy I actually quite like in everything except in this film (even though he’s probably the best part about it) and in his infamously disliked role in Lost.

It really is astonishing to me seeing a director like Mr. Joffé, with two Academy Award nominations in the eighties sort of falling down this downward spiral the last few years, making The Scarlet Letter, which totally bombed, that one Elisha Cuthbert torture-porn sort of flick, and that other one inspired by and starring t.A.T.u. the Russian lesbian pop duo. Just a very bizarre turn of events for him. And in paper him tackling a historic epic about the paths two childhood friends take during the Spanish Civil War would seem like a comeback vehicle of sorts for him, but in the end it’s just as wrong as his other recent efforts, and it’s just a true pity to watch a proven director stumble so badly at this point of his career.

Maybe the failure of this film had a bit to do with the fact that the Opus Dei itself, probably still reeling after the bad image they were given with Paul Bettany’s character in The Da Vinci Code, provided some of the funding for this film and as a result, I would guess, they were hell bent on being show in a very positive light, with Escrivá, a man who was canonized in 2002, portrayed pretty much unequivocally as the saint he would later be named, totally selfless and just being very good. That means that the character is pretty uninteresting because you just know that in such times no one would be entirely like that. And of course, on the other hand, Manolo, played rather badly by Mr. Bentley, is portrayed as the exact opposite of this.

So there you have it, if you ask me then I’d advice you to avoid There Be Dragons at all costs. It’s not the worst film I’ve seen all year, but that’s because the battle sequences were actually kind of great, and from the look of it you’d guess it was a film budgeted at more than its reported $35 million, so if only for that I will give it a ‘high’ failing grade, because I liked the look of the battles. And I’d say I liked the look of everything in it, but there are scenes with Manolo as an old man and Mr. Bentley is seen in this make-up to make him look old that’s just as ridiculous as the accents and the horrible lines the characters in here spit out.

Grade: D+

The Eagle

24 Mar

Title: The Eagle
Year:
2011
Director:
Kevin Macdonald
Writer: Jeremy Brock, based on the novel by Rosemary Sutcliff
Starring:
Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, Denis O’Hare
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, battle sequences and some disturbing images
Runtime:
114 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.3
Rotten Tomatoes:
38%

 

Channing Tatum gets around quite a lot, and I’m still not sure as to whether I like him or not. After coming out big in 2006 thanks to Step Up the guy has definitely spent most of his time building up his tough guy image with films like Stop-Loss, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and the aptly titled Fighting. And he’s also tried to show range by playing Pretty Boy Floyd in 2009’s Public Enemies, a role he actually did a real fine job at, not to mention trying to establish himself as a heartthrob with last year’s Dear John, and trying to show his comedic side with this year’s The Dilemma.

So yeah, the guy has been around since he first exploded into the scenes with that dance flick, and, like it or not, the guy’s not going away any time soon, as he has three further flicks lined up for 2011 (one of which is Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire which may turn out to be pretty awesome), so yeah, he’s working his best to keep himself present in your memories.

But yeah, that’s the thing, many people seem to already know if they like this guy or not, they’ve gotten wide enough a sampling of him to form their opinion. I’m not part of that group of people, I’m not sure I dig his style and look and charm at all and I can’t help but think the guy hasn’t headlined a film I’ve graded better than somewhere in the C-range (Public Enemies was a solid B+ film but he had a supporting role there). And The Eagle won’t be the exception.

I mean, The Eagle is good enough, it won’t bore you, but you won’t necessarily come out of it calling your friends and telling them they ought to check it out as soon as possible, you’ll just tell them it was okay, because that’s exactly what it was. And what’s more is that I could have seen it turning out somewhat better than okay, and the fact that it didn’t turn out that way lies substantially on the shoulders of Mr. Tatum, who’s work here is totally uninspired.

I mean, the story itself isn’t that mindblowing, but as another action/adventure flick it will make do just perfectly, it just needed solid direction and good acting from its two leads to realize its potential. And even though Mr. Tatum’s co-star is amazing, because Jamie Bell pretty much always is, the bigger role was his, and he disappointed. As for the direction, well, it wasn’t horrible, but considering it was coming from the guy that has given us The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, two really well made and acted films, it came as a disappointment of sorts, his hand not as sensible as it has been in the past.

The film will no doubt draw comparisons to last year’s Centurion, a film I gave a strong B- to, and that was a film I at least found myself liking, and that was pretty much entirely because of how good its lead actor was, and marks the difference between these two films. I’m not saying Mr. Tatum should be as good as Michael Fassbenber, because Mr. Fassbender is just insanely great at everything he does, but he just needed to bring it to the shooting, something he evidently didn’t. Just because you’re all bulky and some teenage girls like you doesn’t mean you can play brooding and appealing in auto-pilot, Mr. Tatum.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate The Eagle, not even close, but I just thought it could have turned out way better than it ultimately did. An R-rating would have given it the chance to have more explicit actions scenes, and they don’t necessarily have to be as gruesome as the ones in Centurion were, but they would have upped the ante to proper heights.

And it also would have given them the opportunity to add some much needed sexuality to the film. I mean, this is a film all about men, and even though Centurion, to continue the comparison, was too, that one at least had the Olga Kurylenko character to amp up the sexuality. This one needed a character like that, we only see a few women in this one, and while some of them do throw wanting looks towards Mr. Tatum they are no real characters, and the film quickly reverts itself to the position its mostly in, which only focuses on the men on screen.

I won’t go ahead and tell you the story you’ll witness, if you watch the two-and-a-half-minute trailer on YouTube you’ll know everything you really need to, I’ll just tell you that The Eagle, though far from bad, is pretty forgettable. There are themes of loyalty and courage here, yes, and that’s all good and nice, but so many other issues go by unexplored. Go see The Eagle if you like these sort of films, I guess, but it will only work to reassure you that Mr. Tatum is at his best when he’s fighting on-screen, and not acting.

Grade: C+

Centurion

9 Dec

Title: Centurion
Year:
2010
Director:
Neil Marshall
Writer:
Neil Marshall
Starring:
Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Riz Ahmed, Noel Clarke, Liam Cunningham, Imogen Poots
MPAA Rating:
R, sequences of strong bloody violence, grisly images and language
Runtime:
97 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.4
Rotten Tomatoes:
56%

Neil Marshall does a good job directing Centurion, this is a huge film that he directed with just a $12 million budget, and he gets the most out of every penny, delivering some pretty nifty action scenes in the B-movie sort of style his films always seem to have. Just watch his insanely good The Descent to get to know how good this guy can be. Other than the action, however, there’s not that much to love here, because the screenplay, also written by Mr. Marshall, isn’t really good at all, the dialogue feels kinda off and the characters aren’t developed as nicely as they could have been.

Go see Centurion if you like your battles bloody and well done and if you don’t care much at all about proper character development, because that’s pretty much exactly what you’ll be getting here. And if you consider that the lead actor is Michael Fassbender then you’ll probably be thinking that this could have been quite better.

Mr. Fassbender is a guy most definitely on the rise, he came on to the scene in 2006, when he played Stelios in 300, and then a couple years later is when I started taking notice of this guy after seeing his performance in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, one of the most harrowing performances I saw in all of the past decade. Last year he was in Inglorious Basterds and this year he made an appearance in the dreadful Jonah Hex. And the guy is set to have a very busy 2011, a year in which I reckon he’ll finish cementing his status as a star. He’ll first pop up in the new Jane Eyre adaptation alongisde Mia Wasikowska, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench; then in April he’s set to appear in Haywire, Steven Soderbergh’s next film alongisde the likes of Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas; and then in June he’ll be leading an all-star cast in a sure blockbuster, appearing as the young Magneto in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class alongside James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones and a lot of other awesome people. And if you think that wasn’t enough he also has A Dangerous Method coming, that one being David Cronenberg’s next feature, starring alongisde Cronenberg’s usual collaborator Viggo Mortensen as well as Keira Knightley; not to mention the just-announced Shame which will reunite him with his Hunger director and see him next to my personal favorite, Carey Mulligan.

So yes, I’m a fan of Michael Fassbender. I haven’t had that much to judge him by, but Hunger alone makes me want to see what this guy does next, and just judging by the pedigree of the projects he’s signed on to for next year, I can tell that this guy is at least very smart when picking his projects, and that he likes to keep his plate busy, striking while the iron’s hot, wise move.

But back to Centurion, the film tells the story of a group of Roman soldiers who fight behind enemy lines in a beautiful Scottish landscape. So there’s a lot of running away from the enemies and doing their best to remain alive against the odds.

That landscape I mention is another reason for this being such a bearable film even though the characters are so one-dimensional, or in some cases pretty much non-dimensional. The Scottish highlands portrayed here are beautifully shot, the color scheme looking lovely against our tale of people running behind those shades of gray and blue, and then that lovely contrasting shade red when there’s blood involved. And when there is blood involved, it’s involved by the gallons, splattering out of the unfortunate chopped-up victims like crazy, looking cartoonish at times, but in the most awesome of ways.

I didn’t really know what to make of Centurion, I loved it when they got into the fighting scenes, and I loved how the scenery looked as they were running from the Picts that were chasing them, all shown in some pretty rad long shots. But I just couldn’t fathom how little we got to know our characters. The structure of the narrative is quite pleasing, but the dialogue just leaves too much to be desired, there’s a lot of expletives being thrown by the soldiers but there’s not much else, these guys being reduced many times to not much more than the bodies we’re seeing running along that beautiful scenery or being killed in really nifty ways. And when you have Mr. Fassbender and Dominic West, who’s from The Wire which means he can do no wrong, you just get a feeling that this could have been much more.

Grade: B-