Posts Tagged ‘rachel weisz’

the favourite

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) ruled England in the early 1700’s.  Anne presided over a war with France, the second of the French and Indian wars, and there were two factions, Robert Harley, (Nicholas Hoult) leader of the opposition Tory party, wants to sue for peace.  Lord Marlborough’s wife, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is in favor of continuing the war with France, and Queen Anne is closer to Lady Sarah than anyone else so the war continues.  But Queen Anne is quite sick and obese, so a new chambermaid is sent for, Abigail Hill, (Emma Stone) who was left destitute by her father’s financial speculation, seems to want to return to her former high station, so she begins a charm offensive to win the confidence of Queen, does the Queen let Abigail into her inner circle, or continue to be influenced by Lady Sarah?

The Favourite is pretty historically accurate, but it strays from historical accuracy when it illustrates the more salacious aspects of the film.  There was a war with France, there were two women bidding for Queen Anne’s attention, they were rivals, both looking to increase their own power and influence, but that’s where the similarities and movie ends.  The salacious parts of the movie are obviously written to add spice to the film, and generate a buzz.  It works to an extent, as does the addition of humor, but this is a period piece, after all, and if the viewer has no interest in this period of history, no amount of humor or sensationalism of events will pique the interest of a social media crazed populace. And whether one of the favourites actually influenced Queen Anne to the extent that this movie implies is an open question.

The acting is good, very good in some instances.  Olivia Colman won the Best Actress Academy Award for Best Actress, and deservedly so.  She handled both comedy and drama adroitly, and the way she could switch from comedy to drama effortlessly and at a moment’s notice was an incredible thing to watch.  She was also very good as one of the detectives on the BBC television show Broadchurch. Rachel Weisz was also very good as the caustic, catty, ambitious Lady Sarah.  Weisz brings a sense of entitlement to the performance, and it fits thee character perfectly. Emma Stone is less convincing as Abagail, she does a pretty good British accent, but she didn’t seem to bring enough gravitas to the role when acting with the likes of Colman and Weisz.  Nicholas Hoult didn’t seem like the best choice either, he seemed to be more play acting at a role that should have been played by someone older and more seasoned.  It seems like some of the casting was based on appealing to a younger demographic.

The director tries to bring some visual flair to the film, using some kind of fish-eye lens in some of the scenes, which definitely makes things more interesting, but the pacing is awfully slow, and that makes the viewer think why he/she is watching this slow ponderously paced film, the answer is the acting, but  the viewer might not last past the first hour.  The performances are good, how much credit does an unknown director get for good performances?  That is another open question.

The Favourite.  Do yourself a fovour and watch it.


The Lobster

David’s (Colin Ferrell) wife has fallen out of love with him, so he goes to a hotel to meet a new partner.  If he can’t meet a partner in 45 days, he will be transformed into an animal, and sent away.  David chooses to be a lobster.  David meets other men who are desperately trying to meet women, like the Lisping Man (John C Reilly) and the Limping Man, (Ben Wishaw) who meet women with varying degrees of success.  David meets a woman called The Biscuit Woman (Ashley Jenson) who will do anything to please him, but he’s simply not interested.  Every evening, the guests in the hotel are invited to go into the wilderness and hunt The Loners, a group of people who live in the wilds alone with no partners.  If the guests tranquilize a loner with their dart gun they are given an extra day to stay at the hotel and find a partner.  David is no good at hunting, but realizes time is flying and he must find a woman quickly.  He inexplicably chooses the Heartless Woman, (Angeliki Papoulia) who after a short time, kills David’s dog, Bob.(Ryac,Jaro)  David cannot live with this woman one second longer, but where can he go in a society as rigid as this one, and will he ever find true love?

It’s anybody’s guess what the lobster is about but it seems to be about finding love in a repressive society, and being a non-conformist in a society that stresses conformity above all.  Because all the characters are repressed, love is expressed in the most mundane, pedantic, unromantic way, that even love, the most joyous of all emotions loses all its magic.  The hotel guests seem like those poor people on those singles cruises, desperate to find love in the worst way, and they do find it in the worst way. There were a lot of good ideas in this film and some humor, but the film is presented in such a hyper dramatic avant-garde way, that it soon becomes as joyless as its characters.  More humor would have definitely made this film more enjoyable, and less of an endurance test. The ending is so abrupt, and ambiguous that the viewer is left to decide how the movie should end.

Colin Ferrell delivers his lines in a droll, deadpan way, but it wears thin after a while, and soon the viewer is pleading for just a hint of emotion, anything to show he’s alive, and he gained a lot of weight, so he looks like a middle aged loser with nothing left to lose.  Rachel Weisz similarly delivers her lines with the joy of somebody reading a phone book, and is saddled with reading some sophomoric voice-over narration, surely she can do better this this role.  John C. Reilly is wasted here as a simpering wimp with a lisp.

The director apparently thinks he’s Fellini reborn, but he isn’t.  When the first shot is a shot of a woman shooting a donkey, the viewer knows he’s in for two hours of arthouse hell, and there are many strange scenes here.  Tranquilized people stacked like cordwood after being shot with dart guns, people voguing in the woods, the strangeness doesn’t end. The music especially makes this movie much darker than it should be, even what should be the joyful moments in this film are punctuated by foreboding, ominous classical strings.  The actors deliver their lines just as the director wants them to, and the pacing is uneven.  The film is much too long at nearly 2 hours, this premise could have been neatly wrapped up in an hour and a half.   The Lobster won three awards at Cannes.

The Lobster:  Left me crabby.



Oz (James Franco) is a carnival magician in Kansas, and a bit of a con-man.  He’s in love with a girl named Annie (Michelle Williams) who has been proposed to by another man.  After a seemingly successful levitation trick, a little girl in a wheelchair (Joey King) asks him if he can make her walk.  When he says he can’t the people of Kansas run him out on a rail, and he barely gets out of town on a hot air balloon.  The balloon is caught up in a tornado, and by the time Oz wakes up, he is ironically in a land called Oz, where he meets Theodora. (Mila Kunis)  Theodora tells Oz that he fulfills the prophecy of a great leader who comes from the sky to save the Land of Oz from disrepair.  Theodora and Oz fall in love instantly, and she happily introduces him to her sister, Evanora. (Rachel Weisz) Evanora shows Oz the castle in the Emerald City where Oz is to reside, and shows him a room full of gold.  All he has to do to get this gold is kill a witch in the Dark Forest.  Oz decides to go to the forest, with newfound friends Finley the flying monkey (Zack Braff) and China Girl. (Joey King) What does he find in the Dark Forest?

There  is one rule in movies or music, if you’re going to remake a movie or a song, it has to be better than the original.  Technically Oz, the Great And Powerful is not a remake of the Wizard of Oz, it’s a prequel, but the same rule should apply.  This movie isn’t better, it’s far worse than the original.  It borrows too much from the original, Oz is from Kansas, he get swept up in a tornado, and taken to Oz, where he meets most of the characters from the Wizard of Oz. The beginning of the film is even shot in black and white, just like the original, more of a cheap copy than homage.  There’s not only one clunky love story, there’s two to contend with, in what’s essentially a kids story.  Bad idea.  Oh and when it’s not borrowing from  the Wizard of Oz, it borrows from Snow White.  In its rush to try to make a stunning visual movie, Oz forgets some of the most endearing parts of the original story.  The original story was about believing in yourself, the Oz in the original had no powers at all, so all the magic came from inside Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, the phrase, the man behind the curtain, means a charlatan in today’s society, precisely because of the Wizard of Oz, this movie talks about redemption, but only pays lip service to it.

The acting is only so-so.  James Franco is ok, as Oz he tries to be witty and charming, he tries really hard, but this is a retread of a story and not really worth the effort.  Mila Kunis is overwrought as Theodora, all emotions all the time, crying, falling in love, it’s all too much.  Michelle Williams plays her character with such disinterest, it’s hard to care about what happens to her.  After starring in movies like Blue Valentine and My Week With Marilyn, this performance was a disappointment.  Only Rachel Weisz gets it right as Evanora, she is evil, but subtlety so, even seductive in some scenes.  It is a good performance in a movie populated by bland performances.

But what really disappointed me about this movie was the inordinate amount of special effects, and CGI.  This movie was overwhelmed by CGI, any ideas it may have put forward are drowned out by the numerous special effects. Two of the characters, China Doll and Finley are all CGI, all of Oz is CGI, what should have been an uplifting child’s tale becomes an inauthentic cyber-film, dazzling to the eye, but with an empty soul.  The movie is also much too long, and parts much too scary for little kids.

Oz the Great and Powerful, lost in a blizzard of special effects.

definitely maybe

Maya (Abigail Breslin) wants to know how her father, Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) met her mother, and she wants to know the true story.  The true story is complicated.  Will is a political consultant from Wisconsin, in love with Emily (Elizabeth Banks) his college sweetheart.  He is called to New York to work on the Clinton campaign in 1992, and that means time away from Emily.  Emily asks will to drop off a package to her friend Summer (Rachel Weisz) who lives in New York.

Summer is living with her college professor, Hampton Roth (Kevin Kilne) but she kisses Will all the same.  While working on the campaign, Will meets April, (Isla Fisher)  who is really not interested in politics and is just working on the campaign for the money.  They fight, because will is an idealist, and April is a realist.  Will says he’s going to propose to Emily, and he practices on April.  April hates the wishy- washy way he proposes to her as Emily and tells him so.  They appear to have a good friendship going, but then April’s boyfriend cancels a date and Will steps in, they talk, and then they briefly make out.  Will is clearly on the horns of a dilemma, he is about to propose to Emily, but is undoubtedly attracted to both Summer and April.  Who does he choose?  Emily, Summer or April? Who is Maya’s mother?

I love this movie, it’s a complete story, and for a change I like the ending, I like how all the characters are smart, and have their own lives outside their relationships, Emily could have used a little more character development, but that’s a small issue.  I liked how they integrated politics into the story, and I loved how they referenced Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books throughout the film.  The acting is great, Ryan Reynolds is as good as I’ve ever seen him, funny, sweet and vulnerable.  Rachel Weisz is beautiful sophisticated yet funny and approachable.  Elizabeth Banks does her best with an underdeveloped role, but Isla Fisher is an absolute revelation as April, she is intelligent, tough, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and the screen crackles with chemistry whenever she is onscreen with Reynolds.  I thought she would be a huge star when I first saw this movie.  I still think she can be.  Abigail Breslin is perfect as Maya, she is precocious without being obnoxious, and as she hears more of her dad’s story, she really only wants him to be happy.  It’s really a complex role and she pulls it off.  Kevin Kline is funny as a lecherous college professor, and Derek Luke is good as Russell, Will’s friend and eventual consulting partner.  This is one of my favorite romantic comedies, because its truly funny, and sometimes touching and sad.  This and Bridget Jones Diary, are right up there in the rom-com department.  In a genre where movies are churned out and predictable, this one is distinctive and unique.  Even the soundtrack is outstanding.

Definitely Maybe.  Definitely.

the brothers bloom


Stephen (Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) are orphans.  They don’t stay in foster homes for very long, they don’t make friends easily, they move around a lot, so they form an unnatural reliance on each other.  Because they don’t have friends and become jealous of the kids in each town, they start conning the kids.  The brothers lead one group of kids into a cave in search of a whippoorwill, not only do the kids pay the brothers Bloom, but they make an agreement to split half the cleaning bill with the local laundry.

As adults Stephen and Bloom set their eyes on a new mark.  A lonely young heiress from New Jersey, named Penelope (Weisz) who learns other peoples hobbies and makes them her own.  The con involves Bloom falling for Penelope, them getting Penelope to buy a rare book, which isn’t rare at all, giving the money to an associate of the brothers called the Curator,(Robbie Coltriane)  and ditching Penelope in Mexico.  The plan hits a snag when Bloom really starts to fall for Penelope?  Will Bloom tell Penelope that they are con-men?  Or will he and Stephen make off with Penelope’s money?

I didn’t like this movie.  I don’t like Mark Ruffalo, something about his face and voice together annoy me.  I don’t like Adrien Brody, his whiny voice and deadpan delivery drive me up a wall.  Rachel Weisz is starting to bother me too, playing a dimwitted American heiress, who seems to be up for anything to escape her boredom.  I kept waiting for her American accent to slip, it never did, but I could tell it was phony. The story moves along crisply enough, and I wanted to see if there was a twist to the con game, there never was.  There were however, two false endings and a story long on style, but short on substance.  The last half hour was positively sleep inducing.  My favorite con artist movie was not the Sting, it was Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Steve Martin and Michal Caine.  This movie doesn’t even approach the Sting or the hilarity of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, I wish it did.

The Brothers Bloom.  It wilts.