Currently browsing the "Ralph Fiennes" tag.

Review: The Dig

I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea where Sutton Hoo was or that it was the site of one of the great archeological finds of the 20th century. But watching The Dig certainly placed it in my lexicon. Cary Mulligan stars in this “based on a true story” period drama. She’s Edith Pretty, a young widow with a young son who lives on an estate near a village called Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, England. It’s 1939 and Britain is just being drawn into the war when she hires Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes, Harry Potter, The Grand Budapest Hotel) to excavate some ancient burial mounds on her property. He’s a local man, self-taught, but very knowledgable about archeology. He thinks the mounds could be Anglo-Saxon, but the local museum experts laugh at the idea. They don’t laugh for long.

Review: Coup 53

Looking for a political thriller to suck you in for a couple of hours? Then watch this documentary. Iranian director Taghi Amirani spent ten years filming his obsessive hunt for documents and witnesses to tell the story of the coup d’état that stopped democracy in Iran in its tracks, all because the new, democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh had the gall to nationalize the oil industry. It is common knowledge that the US and UK were behind it, and the CIA has even declassified some of the documents related to their part in it, but the UK and MI6 have never admitted their role. In the film, Amirani is reading through transcripts from a 1985 BBC series called “End of Empire” that talks about Iran when he notices that there is one interview that has been totally redacted. The transcripts are heavily edited to obscure the name. The filmed interview itself is nowhere to be found in the BBC archives. And he knows that this interview could be the key to the whole story.

Review: Official Secrets

Remember back in 2003, when US Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the United Nations to make the case for war against Iraq, basing his appeal on what later turned out to be false intelligence linking Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda and Weapons of Mass Destruction? Of course you do. Need a refresher, or a reason to get your blood boiling all over again? Official Secrets should do the trick.

Review: The White Crow

“White crow,” as the film informs us early on, is a term used to describe a person who is unusual, extraordinary, not like others, an outsider.

A Rudolph Nureyev.

For those unfamiliar with political and dance history, Nureyev was a promising young talent in Leningrad’s famed Kirov ballet company when he shocked the Soviets and the world by defecting to the West at the conclusion of a Parisian tour in 1961. The White Crow is Nureyev’s story, as told through the lens of actor/director Ralph Fiennes who pulls double-duty as Nureyev’s Russian dance instructor Alexander Pushkin. Fiennes chose a dancer over an actor to portray Nureyev – a leap of faith that ends up sacrificing story in the service of art.

The LEGO Batman Movie

“You can’t be a hero if you only care about yourself.” – Gotham City Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon to the self-absorbed, caped-crusading loner, [LEGO] Batman.

That sentiment forms the foundation – the building bricks as it were– of the new LEGO Batman Movie, a spin-off of the 2014 animated gem in which Batman delivered some of the greatest zingers in toy superhero movie history. This time around, Batman aka Bruce Wayne is front and center, voiced once again by Will Arnett (Arrested Development) with a perfect blend of snark, self-awareness, and vulnerability. The LEGO Batman Movie doesn’t quite rise to the level of its predecessor, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining – especially for the grown-ups.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Money Monster; A Bigger Splash; High-Rise

Money Monster is a satisfying crowd-pleaser that definitely benefits from the established rapport between lead actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts and the solid direction of Jodie Foster. Clooney plays an outlandish, self-centered, Jim-Cramer-Mad-Money-type financial TV host named Lee Gates who shares stock tips with what he thinks is an adoring public. Roberts plays his producer/director Patty. She’s the one who keeps Gates and the show on track from her seat in the Control Room. Their usual routine is disrupted on live television when a disgruntled investor named Kyle (British actor Jack O’Connell looking and sounding as American as apple pie) gets into the studio, straps an explosive vest on Lee, and demands to know the source of a so-called ‘glitch’ that caused a particular stock – and his investment- to implode. The result is a tense conspiracy thriller with enough light moments peppered throughout (including some funky dance moves from Clooney) to boost the overall entertainment factor. Money Monster doesn’t really need to be seen on the big screen, but it’s the best of the week’s new offerings for anyone just looking for a solid, well-paced drama with star power.

Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers are prolific filmmakers, but for me their films are hit or miss. I loved No Country for Old Men, and Fargo was amazing. But then there are those utterly forgettable flicks – The Lady Killers, or Burn After Reading. I’d put Hail, Caesar! somewhere in between. It’s plenty entertaining but it isn’t going on the shelf with The Big Lebowski. It’s a lovely walk around 50s era Hollywood with a star-studded cast having a lot of fun. And if for nothing else, you should see it for Channing Tatum’s dance number.

Spectre

Spectre is classic Bond. It’s got all the stuff you’ve come to expect from a 007 movie: the babes, the bad guys, the gadgets, the cool cars, the exotic locales, the fist fights, the gun fights and things that go boom, and of course, the martinis – shaken, not stirred. There’s a certain comfort in the familiarity, but also a bit of boredom in what’s come to be a ‘standard’ two-and-a-half-hour running time.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

In his latest fabulously outrageous film The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson introduces us to Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge to end all concierges who takes enterprising lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) under his wing. The movie is visually stunning and laugh out loud hilarious, and what totally sold me was its witty use of language and music to give another layer to its story set in a first class hotel in a fictional eastern European country in that elegant era between the wars. And the chemistry between the older, wiser hotelier and his young protégé is delicious! What begins as a mentoring relationship quickly turns to a zany buddy romp when one of the hotel’s wealthy guests (Tilda Swinton) is murdered and Gustave is thrown in jail. And only Zero can save him.

Skyfall

I’m not a huge Bond aficionado. I can probably count on one hand the number of 007 movies that I’ve actually seen in their entirety. But I can say this: Skyfall is thoroughly entertaining and Daniel Craig wears the suit extremely well. And when he’s not wearing the suit… well, even better! Okay, I’m being a tad shallow. Truth is, Skyfall is an action-packed, adrenaline-fueled adventure that embodies everything that our hero, the quintessential British spy James Bond, has to offer: suavity, dry wit, intellect, passion and virtual immortality. I mean, how many bullets can one guy take??