Tag Archives: Rosamund Pike

[Review] – Jack Reacher

5 Jan

Jack Reacher

Title: Jack Reacher
Year: 2012
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, based on the novel by Lee Child
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall, Jai Courtney
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence, language and some drug material
Runtime: 130 min
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Metacritic: 49

Tom Cruise is staging a comeback as of late. Sure, he’s never really been away for that long, but it seems now that he’s just seriously trying to retake the title of world’s biggest action star that once so certainly belonged to him. That started, of course, with last year’s stellar Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth entry in that franchise and also the best one in the series which I ranked as the 21st best film of 2011. He was then seen in the disappointing Rock of Ages this year, but that wasn’t his movie so I don’t count that towards his comeback track record.

Continue reading

Advertisements

[Trailer] – Jack Reacher

17 Oct

Watch the new trailer for the upcoming December release Jack Reacher below.

Continue reading

[Trailer] – Jack Reacher

3 Jul

The trailer for Jack Reacher, the December offering starring Tom Cruise, has just been released and you can watch it after the cut.

Continue reading

Johnny English Reborn

26 Nov

Title: Johnny English Reborn
Year: 2011
Director: Oliver Parker
Writers: William Davies and Hamish McColl, based on the characters by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Daniel Kaluuya, Richard Schiff
MPAA Rating: PG, mild action violence, rude humor, some language and brief sensuality
Runtime: 101 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

 

If you count yourself amongst the fans of 2003’s Johnny English, the first time we saw Rowan Atkinson spoof the spy genre, mainly the James Bond movies, then you will most likely find yourself liking this sequel to it, Johnny English Reborn. I personally didn’t particularly care for the original, it was a fun time at the movies but the spoofs weren’t particularly clever or original, and so I thought pretty much the same thing about this one, in which Rowan Atkinson’s comedic genius is wasted on gags that, mostly, are pretty uninspired. But, that being said, this is still Rowan Atkinson we’re talking about, the guy that made Blackadder and Mr. Bean and who created a very distinctive and effective style of comedy, so this movie does have some good moments just on the talents and charm of its star alone.

The thing with pretty much all movies that act as James Bond spoofs, and certainly this one, is that, quality of their jokes aside, they never really spoof today’s gritty Daniel Craig Bond films, nor do they make fun of the lighter fare of the Pierce Brosnan era but instead seem to target exclusively the Bond films of three decades ago or so in which it was all about the martinis and the gadgets. So it’s not as though young moviegoers who’s Bond experience may be limited to The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and/or Quantum of Solace will get how Mr. Atkinson is making fun of Roger Moore. But still, this one will still make money because even if Mr. Atkinson isn’t as well known Stateside he’s a huge global star, and this one’s already made nearly $160 million against a $45 million budget.

As for how this one compares to its predecessor, I think they’re just about the same quality-wise or, if anything, this one may actually be a tad better. It’s actually a bit more dark than the first one was, though of course it’s still rated PG, but in the eight years that have passed between films its as though this film series has established a very definite personality, which makes the jokes funnier and knows how to exploit Mr. Atkinson’s incredibly hilarious facial expressions, which is where his best comedy usually comes from. He’s back as the titular character, obviously, who’s had to go into seclusion someplace in the Far East after a mission goes wrong. But, as it usually happens in films that use that, he’s pulled back from that exile to help with one big job, this time that job is taking down an evil organization that’s been implanting moles into the world’s top spy agencies. As I write this right now I actually don’t know if I’ll give this one a B-, which would mean I barely recommend it, or a C+, which means I barely don’t. The thing is that while there’s stuff in this that’s actually sharp and I like the tongue-in-cheek vibe the whole film has, I just didn’t think it was that great, and I could’ve skipped the film and I would be more than fine with it.

But anyways, back to the plot, you have the always-awesome Gillian Anderson, rocking a British accent, in full deadpan mode as the agency’s new boss who sends Johnny to Hong Kong where he’s to prevent the assassination of the Chinese premier the new rival organization has plotted out. This new introduction of Johnny into the spy world provides one of the better moments in the film as he has to take this facial scan test from the agency’s psychologist. Not just because that means close-up time with the aforementioned hilarity that always ensues from watching Mr. Atkinson’s elastic face do its magic, but because that psychologist is played by the lovely Rosamund Pike (who was indeed a Bond girl in Die Another Day), and I think she’s brilliant. Another new character we’re introduced to here is Tucker, a guy who’s quite intelligent and who happens to be black, so you can imagine how pairing him with Johnny goes, considering he’s pretty racist and thinks he always has the right answer. Oh, and The Wire‘s Dominic West is also here, as Ambrose, the smoothest spy you’ll see in the whole movie.

Mr. Atkinson is indeed quite good at his particular brand of comedy, and the set-pieces Johnny English Reborn constructs in order for him to excel at that are sometimes really witty and well-done, but there’s no real laugh-out-loud moment, no hilarious climax that will leave you wiping tears away from your eyes. That’s not to say the film is not funny, but it’s the sort of funny that’s consistently funny and will get a smile on your face throughout, but not the sort of fine that will buildup to big laughs and then start back up again. I’m not favoring one over the other, but I’m just used to laughing like crazy with Rowan Atkinson films, and the fact that this one didn’t achieve that for me I guess means it’s just not good, not even if he’s trying his best to make it so.

Grade: C+

The Big Year

20 Nov

Title: The Big Year
Year: 2011
Director: David Frankel
Writer: Howard Franklin, based on the book by Mark Obmascik
Starring: Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, Jim Parsons, Rosamund Pike, JoBeth Williams, Brian Dennehy, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Anderson, Tim Blake Nelson, Joel McHale
MPAA Rating: PG, language and some sensuality
Runtime: 100 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 5.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 39%

 

I had some really conflicting feelings going into The Big Year. On the one hand the posters and the trailers did nothing to reel me in, nor did the premise dealing with three friendly rival birdwatchers, each going through a crisis of sorts in their lives, competing to sport the rarest birds at a competition. And yet, I took a look at the talent involved here and I couldn’t help but hold out some hope for this film.

The director is David Frankel, the guy who had previously given us The Devil Wears Prada, which I’m a total sucker for, and Marley & Me which is quite good and one of the most effective tearjerkers in recent years. Then look at the actors, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black as the three leads, those are all great comedic actors, and supporting turns by the likes of Rashida Jones, Joel McHale, Jim Parsons and Dianne Weist added to the deep talent pool. I had to believe this one would make it on the strengths of its cast and crew alone.

And even though this is a film that I would actually go ahead and somewhat tepidly recommend, it just isn’t anything close to something great, which I thought was a real pity considering the folks that assembled themselves to make this film. I mean, you get the sense that Mr. Frankel and his talented group of actors really cared for this film, and their portrayal, along with Howard Franklin’s adaptation of the Mark Obmascik book, offers up a nice and careful exploration of these characters. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel as though this film just kind of dully dragged along and, most importantly, it never once got to be really funny, sure it got some giggles and chuckles, but considering the cast it had it should have been hilarious.

Yet even if it’s not super funny, there’s still stuff to like here. I mean, even though the fact that it’s a family comedy about birdwatchers sounds kind of iffy, and it many times is, it’s exactly that what lends The Big Year a kind of whimsical sense of humor that it uses quite well. Not to mention that in this day and age in which most of the comedies are R-rated and try to push the boundaries, I actually thought it was kind of nice to have a big PG-rated film that’s just a pleasant hour-and-a-half designed with all the fluff you would imagine and aimed just to make you have a good time.

Not to mention that you kind of learn about birdwatching while watching this film, which you may like or dislike, but at least you learn something new from watching this movie. You learn about their competitions, about their code of honor that trusts that they won’t lie about the number of birds they see, about what having a big year entails, and you will get a lot of jokes using terminology that only birdwatcher, or birders as you should preferably call them, will understand. Make of that what you may, but in this film we get thrown right into that level of competition with these birders trying to score a big year.

But those are kind of the only good things I can say about The Big Year, that it provides a rather earnest family comedy in our times that are filled with dirtier comedy and that it informs us about a rather peculiar hobby. But those feel kind of like excuses to make for stuff it lacks, actually. I mean, yes, it informs us about something we probably didn’t know about, but you would have been just as fine if you were left uninformed and the movie better if it had been about something else. And making this one so PG and family friendly means that you have a trio that would have excelled at giving us an edgier feature reduced to a more bland kind of comedy that, like I said, will make you giggle but not fight back laughter-induced tears from your eyes like it had the potential to do.

Mr. Wilson plays Kenny, the defending champion, while Mr. Black and Mr. Martin play Brad and Stu, respectively. And, in case you were wondering, they play their prototypical roles, Kenny is your typical Owen Wilson character which has a lot of charm, Brad is super-energetic and makes a fool of himself by falling down a lot like many other Jack Black creations, and Stu has that brand of earnestness that Mr. Martin has perfected over the past few decades. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that it’s not a new thing either, and it’s not played as well as we have seen it been done in the past.

Still, I would actually tell you that watching The Big Year would make for a decent escape from your daily routine at the movies. I mean, it’s not a comedic gem by any means, but there’s still a lot of harmless fun to be had while watching it, and the scenery is really gorgeous to take in. Not to mention that even in a just-okay film like this one, it’s always pretty fantastic to watch these people have fun together.

Grade: B-

Barney’s Version

11 Feb

Title: Barney’s Version
Year:
2011
Director:
Richard J. Lewis
Writer:
Michael Konyves based on the novel by Mordecai Richler
Starring:
Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Rachelle Lefevre, Scott Speedsman, Dustin Hoffman
MPAA Rating:
R, language and some sexual content
Runtime:
134 min
Major Awards:
1 Golden Globe
IMDb Rating:
7.4
Rotten Tomatoes:
80%

Barney’s Version was eligible for the 2010 awards season, but got its actual limited release only this year, so I’m counting it towards the 2011 rankings. But, for that, I already know that this film got Paul Giamatti a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Motion Picture, as well as it did receive a nomination for Best Makeup for the Oscars in a few weeks from now. So yeah, I guess I was sort of going into Barney’s Version with somewhat heightened expectations, at least for Mr. Giamatti’s performance. And he delivered, this is another amazing performance by a guy who always seems to be nothing short of remarkable. And the film itself, well it’s pretty damn good, too.

I’ve read the Mordecai Richler novel that serves as the source material for this movie, and I always imagined it would be a tough one to adapt, but you watch it unsprawl on-screen here, for over two hours, and everything just seems to fit perfectly. It’s not a perfect adaptation of the novel’s essence, but it’s very well done and quite thoughtful, and it really does work extremely well. But then again, with the level of talent involved in this film, I guess that shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise.

Joining Mr. Giamatti are three lovely ladies, one of them is Rosamund Pike, who we all probably remember best from her appearance as Miranda Frost in 007’s 2002 film, Die Another Day, but who has also been amazing in films such as An Education, Pride & Prejudice and last year’s Made in Dagenham. There’s also Minnie Driver, who’s awesome and was one of the main reasons for my love of The Riches. And Rachelle Lefevre also makes an appearance, this being the film that made her leave the Twilight franchise, something that was, I think, a good decision, because, sure, that franchise will definitely get her more attention because it’s insanely popular, but she’s already been in two of those films, and rode the wave of success it brought into a starring role on ABC’s Off the Map, and this film lets her show how good an actress she actually is.

There’s also two other male actors sharing the spotlight with Mr. Giamatti here. One of them is Scott Speedsman, a guy who I really like since his days on Felicity, and an actor that I can’t really get why he hasn’t exploded into much bigger stardom since those days, the guy is likable and has a very cool presence along with solid acting chops. And, last but certainly not least, we also have Dustin Hoffman here, who gives a stellar performance, full of energy and that dry humor that man can handle like few can, just amazing.

And I’ve done these two paragraphs listing the players we see in Barney’s Version so that you can see just how many amazing people were involved in this film, and when you see it you can fully appreciate just how much they all bring to the final product, it’s because of them that this one feels so damn amazing. But as amazing as all of these supporting performances may be, especially Mr. Hoffman’s, when you talk about Barney’s Version you’ll come back time and time again to Mr. Giamatti, who just owns the screen every frame he’s in.

For those of you who don’t know the story Barney Panofsky, the chain-smoking, bald-headed, heavy-drinking, hockey-fanatic, TV-producing slouch of a man, you’re missing one hell of a tale, and should buy the novel right about now. He’s just one seriously fun character to read and, thanks to Mr. Giamatti’s perfect impersonation, to watch. He plays him exceedingly well, he embodies all of these unlikable emotions to perfection, while also embedding in Barney that charm and sweetness that make the three lovely ladies I listed above find him desirable.

The story of Barney’s life is really amazing, we follow this character through many episodes throughout his life’s duration, and it’s all beautifully shot, masterfully acted and just impeccably told. The episodes in Barney’s life I won’t spoil, some are too delicious for me to take away the pleasure, but just see how his relationship with Miriam, Ms. Pike’s character, unfolds. It’s all wonderfully told, and just acted insanely well by Mr. Giamatti, who portrays this drunken mess of a man flawlessly, a sort of man he has made a career of playing, the kind of man who’s ordinary and yet fascinating. And it was also acted incredibly well by Ms. Pike herself, who’s beautiful and is just a perfect Miriam, a woman who was patient as can be with the man who fell in love with her the second he saw her and his own previous wedding’s reception.

Again, this isn’t better than the novel. But the novel was one I doubted could have been made into a successful film in the first place, the sheer fact that this was the result is something I’m still in awe of. Yes, there’s a lot of stuff in the novel that’s not here, not necessarily moments but complex emotions (the novel’s told by Barney), but with such an empowering lead performance by Mr. Giamatti, and stellar supporting ones from everyone else involved, the film achieves a very very solid adaptation, one that I’ll recommend to pretty much everyone.

Grade: B+

Made in Dagenham

27 Nov

Title: Made in Dagenham
Year:
2010
Director:
Nigel Cole
Writer:
Billy Ivory
Starring:
Sally Hawkins, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Jaime Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Richard Schiff, John Sessions, Kenneth Cranham, Daniel Mays
MPAA Rating:
R, language and brief sexuality
Runtime:
105 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.9
Rotten Tomatoes:
82%

 

I guess I always knew Made in Dagenham was going to be good, there was a nice amount of buzz surrounding the project early on which has subdued a bit by now, but still, the thing is, while I knew this was going to be good, which it really was, I wasn’t anticipating it be this fun and entertaining as well. And those two qualities add a lot to the film, and are attributed in their entirety to Sally Hawkins, who delivers a killer performance here. The buzz on the film was mostly surrounding Ms. Hawkins, who was poised as a contender early on, and was coming off her star-making performance in Happy-Go-Lucky a couple years ago, that amazing performance granted her the Golden Globe but the Academy failed to even nominate her, so a redemption vote for this one was thought to be in order. Now, after having seen Made in Dagenham I’m not entirely sure if she’ll get the nod, the performance is great and everything, but not like the one in Happy-Go-Lucky, and I can think already of some five other performances that in my opinion are more deserving of the nod by the Academy. But, nevertheless, this is still a darn good movie.

And it’s not just Ms. Hawkins who knocks it out of the park in this one, but rather every single actor involved, the film is just well-acted by every single player. This is, of course, a very feminist film, and it focusses on the real-life strike of the Ford sewing machinists in Dagenham, one that was absolutely vital in the Equal Pay Act in the beginning of the 70’s that ensured equal pay for both sexes. The film sees these women, who were really good workers, pissed off about making less than their male counterparts, and deciding to go on strike, against the desires of the general public, which included their own husbands.

Ms. Hawkins’ character is quite cool, and she makes her even cooler. She plays Rita O’Grady, who works under not-so-great conditions at the Ford plant in Dagenham sewing seat covers to cars. And the other characters are also very cool and, as I said, are played remarkably well by a slew of seriously talented actors. Bob Hoskins is amazing as Albert, the union organizer who actually sympathizes and respects the women workers, and knows deep down that they should be getting equal pay and helps their in their journey. Miranda Richardson also appears as the Labor minister who turns out to be one of the surprising supporters of Rita and her cause. And then there’s also Rosamund Pike, who delivers a fantastic performance as Rita’s unlikeliest supporter, a wealthy high-class woman married to one of the top executives at Ford.

And so we see Rita’s story unfolding. See how she, initially a rather quiet woman, eventually turns into the leader of this group of women who just wanted fairness in a world dominated by men. She’s confronted by her husband who doesn’t agree with her, she’s confronted by many more when the strike becomes the subject of media attention around the world, this would be, after all, the one that would change work conditions for women all over the globe, and it all started with a group of women working at a car manufacturer a small ways outside of Dagenham.

We all love these sort of stories when they’re real, when a huge historical breakthrough was started in the unlikeliest of places and led by the most unlikely of faces. These were women who were paid  unjustly and worked in a really hot sweatshop that got them all stripping to their underwear while the male workers did their jobs in much better conditions. And as I said, the magic of Made in Dagenham lies in the fact that it’s an honestly entertaining film, that’s thank to Ms. Hawkins who’s always so cheery and fun, and thanks to the director, Nigel Cole, who did this film a huge favor by not going into the darker territory that he could have so easily chosen to tread, but instead keeping this one light and fun, even the cinematography has a sort of fresh and light vibe that really works.

Maybe Ms. Hawkins will now be the go-to British actress for sweet and optimistic roles, and maybe she should be because she’s just really good at playing those roles. And the casting in this film is genius, not only is Ms. Hawkins perfect for the role of Rita, but Mr. Hoskins, Ms. Richardson and Ms. Pike all give wonderful performances. And if Ms. Hawkins ends up getting the Oscar nomination I will be very happy for her, not only will de Academy be atoning for their mistake two years ago, but it will also be rewarding a lovely performance, by a woman who makes Rita’s journey so damn good for us. However, as I said, my money for the five slots is different and goes: Bening, Portman, Lawrence, Kidman and Manville. But if there’s a Hawkins in there, I’ll be the first one clapping along.

Grade: B+