Tag: Cate Blanchett

MOVIE REVIEW | The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

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“You started this, you will forgive me if I finish it!”

So here it is, what I assumed would be a bloated end to a bloated series that I still kind of enjoyed. I just would have enjoyed it more, if there was less. Ever since it was announced that The Hobbit would be two movies, Peter Jackson copped a lot of criticism that there was no way such a slight book needed so much screen time. Then, it was announced that The Hobbit would be three movies, and Jackson really started copping it.


When I got to the end of the previous entry in the series, The Desolation of Smaug, I remembered the book and realised there was only one small section of it left, and it’s that one small section the supplies the subtitle of this third, and final entry, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SODERBERGH WEEK*** The Good German (2006)

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Steven Soderbergh was never predictable in the stories he chose to tell. He’s also a weird combination of classic Hollywood appreciator, lover and early adopter of all things technology. He was one of the first A-list directors to really embrace filming with digital cameras, yet he has no problem going the in the exact opposite direction in making something like The Good German. Not just an old Hollywood story, but filmed using old Hollywood technology and techniques.


It’s 1945, the war in the Pacific is still going strong, but the Germans are out for the count. The Americans and Russians descend on Germany to divide the spoils of war, and while the officials go about their diplomacy, the men on the ground are quietly looting the country for everything it has to offer. Men on the ground like Toby McGuire’s Tully. Working in the army motor pool, Tully is a big customer of and supplier to the black market. As every German is accused of being a Nazi and waits for seemingly inevitable persecution, Tully tries to secure papers to help is kraut whore girlfriend, Lena (Cate Blanchett), get the hell out of there.

It just so happens that during the war, Lena was the kraut whore girlfriend of George Clooney’s Jake, back in Berlin and stuck with Tully as his driver. Early on, Jake talks about moving on from the war with the Germans that only finished a few months earlier, and preparing for war with the Russians. When Tully shows up murdered in the Russian section of town, the cover ups, twists and double dealings start to pile up.

In true noir tradition, each solving of a crime simply leads to uncovering an even bigger one, and every character is a viable suspect. The twists and turns mount up until it’s almost impossible to keep track of everyone’s allegiances, alibies and motives. But it’s the kind of convolution that works to make The Good German better and richer as each new layer of complications is added.

The Good German opens with stock footage from Germany at the time and plenty is used throughout, but Soderbergh didn’t stop there in going for his authentic, period look. He strictly only used technology from the 40s in filming the movie. Things like camera lenses, lighting and sound recording gear were all from that time and it really does work to give the movie an authentic period feel.

With its wartime backdrop, black market dealings and talks of papers to travel across borders, The Good German has a real Casablanca feel and it’s obvious that’s no coincidence. The whole movie is a perfect example of what I love about Soderbergh. He seems to approach so many of his movies as an experiment in film making. A lot of his movies feel like he did it just to see if he could. And while that approach would feel indulgent or pretentious with most other directors, Soderbergh somehow pulls it off.

The Good German
Directed By – Steven Soderbergh
Written By – Paul Attanasio

 

***2013 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Blue Jasmine

CN_BlueJasmine_0
So it’s return to form time again for Woody Allen.  Except it’s only been two years and two movies since his last return to form, the Oscar winning Midnight in Paris.  Before that, it was 2008’s Vicki Christina Barcelona.  And before that, Match Point in 2005.  What I’m getting at is, is it really a return to form if you have one every couple of years?  Or is it just solid, consistent work, with the odd clunker (which even those, I tend to like) that’s inevitable when you’re as prolific as Allen?  Whatever it really is, according to the press, it’s another return to form for Woody Allen with Blue Jasmine.

Kate Blanchet is the Jasmine of the title.  A widow after her husband Hal, played by Alec Baldwin, killed himself on jail where he was serving time for some 2008ish, Global Financial Crisis type malfeasance.  Now she’s totally hit bottom and is forced to move in with her all but estranged sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in her small San Fan Cisco apartment.

Jasmine also has to contend with Ginger’s ex-husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), and current boyfriend, Bobby Cannavale, as the blue collared Chilli.  While a lot Blue Jasmine is built on the class struggles and clashes between the haves, like Jasmine and Hal, up against the have nots, Ginger and her circle of friends, it’s not really about a spoiled rich bitch receiving her comeuppance and learning there’s more to life than money. There are hints of that, but those without money are just as guilty of financial prejudices as those with it.

Cutting back and forth between the story of Jasmine’s old life falling apart, and her attempts to build a new one, Blue Jasmine does a great job of planting all sorts of assumptions about its characters in your mind, before totally flipping them on their heads and making you question who the heroes of the movie might actually be.  It takes a certain kind of skill as a writer and director to make a character played by Andrew Dice Clay the one you sympathise with the most, but Allen somehow manages it.

All the talk around Blue Jasmine is that Kate Blanchet is currently the front runner for the Best Actress Oscar.  Having now finally seen it, after months of praise surrounding her performance, it really did live up to the hype.  The way she plays the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, the occasional moments of questionable sanity, the stuck up snob looking down her nose, the few moments of happiness, the sad helplessness, the vindictive acts of sabotage…  Blanchet is all over the shop in this, but it’s never jarring or inconsistent.  You totally believe it when she goes form one extreme to the other.

As amazing as Blanchet is, credit has to go to everyone else around her as well.  Woody Allen’s always had a knack for building great ensembles, and here Clay, Carnnavale, Baldwin and Hawkins all play off her perfectly.  As well as Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K who also show up for small, but integral roles.

Blue jasmine isn’t a return to form for Woody Allen.  It’s just another reminder that he’s a really great writer, director and story teller, who, after almost fifty years and almost as many movies, still somehow has great stories to tell.

Blue Jasmine
Directed By – Woody Allen
Written By – Woody Allen

MOVIE REVIEW | Blue Jasmine (2013)

CN_BlueJasmine_0
So it’s return to form time again for Woody Allen.  Except it’s only been two years and two movies since his last return to form, the Oscar winning Midnight in Paris.  Before that, it was 2008’s Vicki Christina Barcelona.  And before that, Match Point in 2005.  What I’m getting at is, is it really a return to form if you have one every couple of years?  Or is it just solid, consistent work, with the odd clunker (which even those, I tend to like) that’s inevitable when you’re as prolific as Allen?  Whatever it really is, according to the press, it’s another return to form for Woody Allen with Blue Jasmine.

Kate Blanchet is the Jasmine of the title.  A widow after her husband Hal, played by Alec Baldwin, killed himself on jail where he was serving time for some 2008ish, Global Financial Crisis type malfeasance.  Now she’s totally hit bottom and is forced to move in with her all but estranged sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in her small San Fan Cisco apartment.

Jasmine also has to contend with Ginger’s ex-husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), and current boyfriend, Bobby Cannavale, as the blue collared Chilli.  While a lot Blue Jasmine is built on the class struggles and clashes between the haves, like Jasmine and Hal, up against the have nots, Ginger and her circle of friends, it’s not really about a spoiled rich bitch receiving her comeuppance and learning there’s more to life than money. There are hints of that, but those without money are just as guilty of financial prejudices as those with it.

Cutting back and forth between the story of Jasmine’s old life falling apart, and her attempts to build a new one, Blue Jasmine does a great job of planting all sorts of assumptions about its characters in your mind, before totally flipping them on their heads and making you question who the heroes of the movie might actually be.  It takes a certain kind of skill as a writer and director to make a character played by Andrew Dice Clay the one you sympathise with the most, but Allen somehow manages it.

All the talk around Blue Jasmine is that Kate Blanchet is currently the front runner for the Best Actress Oscar.  Having now finally seen it, after months of praise surrounding her performance, it really did live up to the hype.  The way she plays the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, the occasional moments of questionable sanity, the stuck up snob looking down her nose, the few moments of happiness, the sad helplessness, the vindictive acts of sabotage…  Blanchet is all over the shop in this, but it’s never jarring or inconsistent.  You totally believe it when she goes form one extreme to the other.

As amazing as Blanchet is, credit has to go to everyone else around her as well.  Woody Allen’s always had a knack for building great ensembles, and here Clay, Carnnavale, Baldwin and Hawkins all play off her perfectly.  As well as Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K who also show up for small, but integral roles.

Blue jasmine isn’t a return to form for Woody Allen.  It’s just another reminder that he’s a really great writer, director and story teller, who, after almost fifty years and almost as many movies, still somehow has great stories to tell.

Blue Jasmine
Directed By – Woody Allen
Written By – Woody Allen