Posts Tagged ‘hugo weaving’

hacksaw ridge

When Desmond Doss (Darcy Bryce, Andrew Garfield) was young he got into a fight with his brother , Hal (Roman Guerrero, Nathaniel Buzcolic) and hit him in the head with a rock.  Desmond prays for Hal’s recovery and he eventually recovered.  Desmond’s father, Tom, (Hugo Weaving) is a World War I veteran, but he is also an alcoholic, who beats Desmond’s mother,  and threatens her with a gun.  One of these altercations almost ends with Desmond shooting Tom, and so Desmond becomes a pacifist and vows never to touch a gun again. At the same time that Desmond is realizing his pacifism, World War II is raging in the Pacific, and Desmond wants to join the fight as a medic.  There is no law against contentious objectors joining the military, but Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover  (Sam Worthington) conspire to get Desmond discharged on a section 8, but Desmond is not crazy.  Later, the military ties to court-martial him for insubordination, for refusing to carry a firearm.  Does Desmond beat the court-martial?

Hacksaw Ridge is a story well worth telling, about a pacifist who still wants to serve his country by healing soldiers and not killing people.  But instead of making Desmond a hero, the writers make Desmond a superhero, he is perfect, faultless, and blameless in every way, and that makes Desmond too good to be true, and the rest of the characters are stereotypes of solders that are overdone in films.  The Sergeant is loud, and overbearing, the Captain just wants Desmond out of his hair.  All of Desmond’s fellow privates deride Desmond and haze him for his religious beliefs, and the Japanese are nothing more than screaming dehumanized hoards.

Andrew Garfield does as well as he can with this role.  He is boxed in by the writing, Garfield is only allowed to show anger at his fellow soldiers once in the whole film.  And he overcompensates with his Southern accent to hide his British accent.  Vince Vaughn plays Sergeant Howell like Sergeant Carter of Gomer Pyle fame, barking out orders and heaping abuse on helpless privates.  Vaughn should really stick to comedies, at least he has shown he can be funny.  Sam Worthington struggles the most with his British accent, and that neutralizes the effectiveness of his character.  Hugo Weaving is given the most complex character to play, and he does it well, he stands out in a relatively small role.

Mel Gibson directed this movie and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work.  I’m not sure he deserved a nomination.  The pacing was slow, and he didn’t edit enough.  His overuse of a certain special effect became an annoyance. Gibson was visually trying to prove that war was a dirty, bloody, hell on earth.  But the violence was staggering and the level of violence was repellant.  If Gibson had stuck with the story of Desmond Doss the pacifist during World War II, and cut down on the eye popping violence, Hacksaw Ridge would have been a better film.

Hacksaw Ridge:  Mel Gibson does a hack job as a director.

Advertisements

CLOUD ATLAS

In 1849 Adam Ewing (Jim Stugess) goes on a journey on a slave ship.  His father-in-law, Haskell Moore, (Hugo Weaving) makes a lot of money from the slave trade.  When Adam feels empathy for  a slave on the ship, Autua  (David Gyasi), Dr Henry Goose (Tom Hanks) tries to kill him.  Does he succeed?

In 1936, Robert Frobisher (Ben Wishaw) is a gay music composer in love with Rufus Sixsmith (James D”Arcy) Frobisher wants to work with Vyvan Ayers, (Jim Broadbent) on his musical master opus, “Cloud Atlas Sextet” and make himself famous in the process.  Robert sleeps with Ayers’ wife, Jocasta (Halle Berry), but is distraught that he can’t spend his life with Sixsmith.  He writes to Sixsmith that he is going to kill himself, does he do it?

In 1973, a young reporter, Luisa Ray (Halle Berry) is covering a story about the dangers of nuclear power.  She gets stuck on an elevator with a much older Rufus Sixsmith, who’ a physicist now.  Ray also meets Isaac Sachs (Hanks) who takes her on a tour of the plant.  They feel a connection to each other and plan to meet later.  Sixsmith ties to get a damning report about the plant.  Plant manager, Lloyd Hooks (Hugh Grant) wants Ray and Sachs out of the way and hires Bill Smoke (Hugo Weaving to kill Luisa Ray.  Does he succeed?

In 2012, Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent) is a book publisher, trying to sell the latest book of author Dermot Hoggins (Hanks) Hoggins is a brutish type who threatens a reviewer who wrote a bad review of his book.  The book becomes a best-seller, but Hoggins wants more money from Cavendish.  Cavendish needs to escape because Cavendish doesn’t have money.  Timothy turns to his brother Denhome, but Denhome traps Timothy in a nursing home, run by a sadistic nurse, named Nokes (Weaving)

In the year 2144, in Neo Seoul, a fabricant, a clone bred for servitude named Sonmi. (Doona Bae) Soonmi is tired of conforming to a consumer based society.  Sonmi finds Hae Joo Chang (Sturgess) a human born in a womb, they fall in love but can they escape this authoritarian society?

In 2346, humans living on a planet that is not earth, live in a very primitive fashion.  Zachary (Hanks) is trying to protect his family from an intra-tribal war.  The other chief is called the Kona Chief, (Grant)  and he is a bloodthirsty cannibal.  Suddenly a stranger named Meronym (Berry)  appears from a different part of the planet.  She is technologically advanced, and tells Zachary to follow her, but there is a voice in Zachary’s head (Weaving) that tells Zachary to kill Meronym, does he listen to that voice?

I did not like Cloud Atlas.  The basic themes were alright, freedom from an autocratic society, and non-conformity in the face of intense pressure to conform.  But then it strays into past lives, and new age doctrine, and I’m sorry, but that turns me off.  The stories are all supposed to be interconnected , but the connections are tenuous at best.

The vignettes borrow heavily from other movies First off the interconnectedness of the storylines reminded me of Babel, the  journey on the slave ship is reminiscent of Amistad, the Halle Berry investigating a nuclear accident was like Coffey meets China Syndrome, the nursing home story feels like  One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the futuristic Korean story is Blade Runner meets 2046 meets Soylent Green, and the thing is all the original movies that this movie borrows from are better than this movie. The fourth and fifth stories are my favorites, because the fourth one is good comedy relief and the fifth one is good science fiction, but 2/6th of a good movie is a pretty bad movie.

The movie is written by the Wachowski siblings, and has all the strengths and weaknesses of their Matrix movies, some good science fiction and a lot of mushy sentimentality that boils down to the phrase “Why can’t we all get along?”  Cloud Atlas was a book, so I will blame some of the shortcomings of the movie on the book, but since I never read the book, I don’t know where the book goes off the rails. And three hours is too damn long for any movie.

The acting is good, but not by the big stars, Hanks and Berry just embarrass themselves trying different accents and hiding behind prosthetic make-up.  Broadbent, Ben Wishaw, and James D’Arcy are very good. Doona Bae is a revelation, until she tries to play a Mexican woman in the 70’s, then she embarrasses herself.  Similarly, Wishaw and Darcy embarrass themselves playing Koreans, it is cringewothy. Hugo Weaving is great, but he is always great.

There is nudity and violence, so keep the kids away, and maybe Cloud Atlas will put the adults to sleep.

Cloud Atlas:  A roadmap to nowhere.

v-for-vendetta

In the near future, Britain is the last remaining superpower, America has been saddled with an ongoing civil war and is no longer the dominant power in the world.  Unfortunately, England has turned into a dictatorship, enforced by Fingermen, armed, roving, extensions of the surveillance state.  Evey (Natalie Portman) is walking down the street when she is accosted by three Fingermen, but she is saved by V, (Hugo Weaving) a man in a Guy Fawkes mask, who kills the Fingermen, and saves Evey.  It is November 4, and V invites Evie to watch him blow up the Old Bailey as a sign of defiance against the dictatorship of Adam Sutler. (John Hurt)  After the Old Bailey is blown up, the police want to track down Evey as a witness to the destruction. V promises to blow up Parliament in a year, as Guy Fawkes tried to, the race is on to stop him, but V has a plan to bring down the corrupt government.

V’s next target is Lewis Prothero (Roger Allam) a tv show host, who was also in charge at the Larkhill resettlement camp, a camp for anyone the current regime deems unacceptable.  Prothero ends up dead, as does Father Lilliman, (John Standing) a pedophile priest, who was also at Larkhill.  When V kills Delia Slurridge (Sinead Cusack), a scientist at the resettlement camp, Chief Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) is intent on arresting Evey, thinking that she will lead him to V.  Evey is detained at Larkhill, will she give up V?  What happened at Larkhill that set V on his murderous course against corrupt dictator Sutler?  Does V keep his promise to blow up the Parliament building?

I love this movie.  The reason why is that it asks a very intriguing question, is it justifiable to use violence to bring down a violent autocratic dictatorship?  The answer is no, in my humble opinion, history is replete with examples of situations where non-violence brought down corrupt leaders or systems.  Gandhi ended British colonialism in India, Martin Luther King ended segregation in the American South, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were relatively non-violent and even the sectarian strife in Ireland ended as a result of peace accords.  Nonetheless, the question is an interesting one, as are the stories of the people deemed unacceptable at Larkhill, there are effective echoes of concentration camps in Nazi Germany.  Where the story goes a bit off the rails is when it engages in a conspiracy theory involving the dictator Sutler.  Conspiracy theories always make me wince, this is no exception.  What makes me think this is a classic is the excellent acting of Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, both who make the viewer believe there is no alternative to bring down this corrupt government.   Weaving delivers his lines with an almost Shakespearian cadence, and his voice is almost lyrical.  Portman sometimes lays the British accent on a bit too thick, but she gives a very emotional and wide ranging performance.  There are a lot of very good supporting performances by Stephen Rea, as Finch, and Roger Allam as a loud-mouthed tv host.

The violence, and there is a lot of it is a product of the Wachowski brothers, who became famous for their over-the-top violence in the Matrix trilogy.  If you have a problem with violence, and lots of people do, please do not watch.  I believe that there are enough redeeming elements in the other parts of the story to make a certain amount of violence acceptable.

V for Vendetta.  V for Very good.