Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Taika Waititi breathes life – and plentiful humour – into Thor: Ragnarok, a fun, yet patchy entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor, who must make peace with brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in order to stop Hela (Cate Blanchett), their evil, long lost sister who’s sent them packing from Asgard in the hopes of wreaking destruction. Continue reading “Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)”

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Review: Carol (2015)

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Carol, adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian romance The Price Of Salt, is in terms of its performances and sublime execution, one of the most beautiful films of the year. Therese (Rooney Mara), a smart shop clerk with aspirations, falls for an alluring woman (Cate Blanchett) whose marriage is in demise. Continue reading “Review: Carol (2015)”

Review: Cinderella (2015)

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Part of Disney’s money-making formula to make live-action versions of its animated classics, Cinderella repeats the classic story virtually word for word, not always to its benefit. Ella (Lily James) leads a happy life in company of her mother and father. But when her parents die one after the other, Ella is left in the care of her stepmother (Cate Blanchett), a wicked woman who treats her terribly. Her luck changes for better, however, when she happens upon a stranger (Richard Madden) in the woods. Continue reading “Review: Cinderella (2015)”

2013 In Review: Top Ten Films

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2013 was a fantastic year for film. It’s as simple as that. Technological boundaries were broken, Disney made a triumphant comeback with not one but two wonderful animated releases, Noah Baumbach proved what could happen when you make a film on a shoestring budget and in black-and-white, and Steven Soderbergh bid a fond farewell to the cinematic world with the fantastic one-two punch of pharmaceutical drama Side Effects and outlandish Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra. Continue reading “2013 In Review: Top Ten Films”

Review: Blue Jasmine (2013)

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Woody Allen’s career over the past two decades has been a mixed bag at best. For every Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight In Paris (both of which earned Academy Award recognition), there’s been an Anything Else or a Scoop. It would seem though, that with Blue Jasmine, Allen has crafted a sharp, perceptive and deeply honest drama with a realistic sprinkling of humour that represents the ageing filmmaker at his most inspired. Continue reading “Review: Blue Jasmine (2013)”

Cate Blanchett And Mia Wasikowska To Topline Carol

In a press release, Number 9 Films have today revealed that Cate Blanchett (Notes On A Scandal) and Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) have signed on to star in a new adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price Of Salt, tentatively titled Carol.

Phyllis Nagy, the screenwriter responsible for TV film Mrs. Harris, will pen the adaptation, which will then be helmed by Boy A and Is Anybody There director Continue reading “Cate Blanchett And Mia Wasikowska To Topline Carol”

Sally Hawkins In Talks For Woody Allen’s Next Film

Sally Hawkins (Submarine) is in talks to star in Woody Allen’s next, as-yet-untitled film, Variety are reporting.

Hawkins, who picked up a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, will play one of the two female leads in Allen’s follow-up to this summer’s To Rome With Love.

Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Bradley Cooper Continue reading “Sally Hawkins In Talks For Woody Allen’s Next Film”

Review: Hanna (2011)

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA operative. Living a life unlike any normal teenager, her upbringing and training have all geared towards making her the ideal assassin.

The turning point in her adolescence is unquestionably acute: sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys covertly across Europe while deceiving agents sent after her by a adamant intelligence officer (Cate Blanchett). As she closes in on her ultimate target, Hanna faces terrifying revelations about her existence.

Hanna is a cross between fantastical fairytale odyssey – with multiple references being made to The Brothers Grimm – and an action-thriller in the vein of Bond or Bourne. It’s an amalgamation that sounds like it shouldn’t work, but thanks to an on-form Joe Wright (who surprisingly doesn’t look out of his comfort zone), it holds together brilliantly.

Ronan delivers yet another exceptional performance as Hanna, and admirably proves herself to be the most versatile actress of her age-range. She’s entirely believable as both an assassin and as a vulnerable, innocent young girl facing the harsh truths of reality for the very first time. Not only does Ronan kicks ass in her fervid action scenes, but she also captures the vulnerable side beautifully, which is wonderfully represented in the sweet yet irresolute relationship she strikes up with a vacationing family.

Blanchett is equally impressive as Ronan. She plays the ruthless CIA agent Marissa Wiegler with an astonishingly cold, suitably heartless zeal. It’s a real thrill to see her inhabit a supporting role so assuredly. Bana, on the other hand, brings humility to what is essentially a harsh and coercive character, but it isn’t enough to make Erik feel as essential to the narrative as he should.

Jessica Barden, as Ronan’s unlikely friend Sophie, injects a much-needed touch of humour and candor, showing exactly how naive people can be when they’re oblivious to the horrors of the world. Olivia Williams pops up as Sophie’s mother, and shares a delightfully testy exchange with Blanchett’s Marissa.

The plot does contain a few pitfalls, inconsistencies and hokum analogies, but they never become too much of an issue. The relentless pace, subtly witty dialogue and surefire levelheadedness that never takes itself too seriously let the viewers choose whether or not to dig deeper, and it is this that helps skip swiftly over the flaws.

Wright’s direction is utterly dazzling. He finds the right balance over a range of camera angles: from the sweeping long shot to intense, hand-held photography, blending the visceral action with the in-depth character-based drama.

By indulging in consistently sharp and comic-book like editing, Wright is able to enhance the velocity of the action and tenacious mood of the film, intercutting it with bewitching scenery shots.

Along with cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler, he also uses some very unique set pieces to stage the films penetrating action sequences, including sewers, underground bunkers, and an abandoned amusement park. This works a treat as it makes the film feel more pragmatic, rather than something too science-fiction. In addition, by using off-key lighting and wondrous editing techniques, the fantastical feel is left to flourish, but in a way that maintains the mystery and element of intrigue.

The Chemical Brothers’ score brings all the incredible elements together magnificently, strikingly capturing the stamina, acuity and ruthlessness of the piece as a whole.

Hanna is a superb adrenaline-fuelled action-thriller come fantasy tale, with assured direction, solid acting, stylish cinematography and a blistering score to boot.