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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Costner’

Dom 5There is a little academy you may have heard of who plan to announce the nominees for their film awards this week, I think they call them the Oscars.  Before that we have the Seventh Annual Groovers Movie Awards.  As ever all categories, eligibility and winners are decided by me:

Best Movie: Blade Runner 2049: Blade Runner (1982) didn’t need a sequel,  not only is this movie a worthy sequel, but it continues the story that enhances rather than diminishes the original, continuing, even expanding on the themes.  As you would expect from director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins, it looks amazing.  A love it or hate it type film; like the original, it may have underperformed at the box-office, it will find its audience in time. Blade+Runner+2049-1

Best Director: Chan-wook Park for The Handmaiden.  A labyrinthine tale that never loses its focus and always holds the audience’s attention.  Based on Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith, this adaptation sees the setting change from Victorian England to Japanese occupied Korea, making the most of the setting, the film looks amazing.  Possibly Park’s best movie since Oldboy. Chan-wook Park for The Handmaiden

Best Actor/Actress: Casey Affleck won the academy award for Manchester by the Sea, a result I certainly wouldn’t argue with.  Jessica Chastain gave to fantastic performances in Miss Sloane and Molly’s Game. Casey Affleck and Jessica Chastain

Best Dialogue: Aaron Sorkin (writer/director) Molly’s Game.  In his directorial debut, Sorkin is helped by his actors: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner who makes his machine gun dialogue sound amazing. 'Molly's Game' New York Premiere

Best Editing: Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss (editors) Edgar Wright (writer/director), Julian Slater (sound designer), for Baby Driver.  I have always been an advocate of the idea that the best editing is invisible.  Baby Drive breaks this rule with very conspicuous editing; there are long takes, single take tracking shots, quick cuts all done in time with the music.  It could have been a disaster, it’s actually a masterpiece.   Baby Driver

Best Comedy: The Death of StalinArmando Iannucci made an interesting choice with his cast using a mix of British and American accents in this story of the power struggle in the days that followed the titular death of Stalin. Farce and satire in equal parts, with a really dark undercurrent, the risk pays off, it is brilliant and hilarious.The-Death-of-Staling-Banner-Poster

Special Award: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.  This special award is for making interesting movie choices.  A decade ago Stewart and Pattinson became two of the biggest stars in the world thanks to the Twilight movies.  Choosing to work with directors including: James Gray, David Cronenberg, Olivier Assayas, Kelly Reichardt and Woody Allen.  They have continued making interesting and extremely good movie:  Stewart worked with Olivier Assayas for a second time with Personal Shopper, while Pattinson made Good Time with The Safdie Brothers. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson

Fandango Award: William Oldroyd, Alice Birch, and Florence Pugh – Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. It gives its name to this award for the best breakout film-makers of the year:  William Oldroyd, Alice Birch, and Florence Pugh are director, writer and star of Lady Macbeth respectively.   The captivating movie is the first feature for Oldroyd and Birch, and the first starring role for  Pugh.William Oldroyd Alice Birch Florence Pugh

Dom 5

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I read an article about Molly Bloom a couple of years ago when her book Molly’s Game was first released.  A truly interesting story, I would have been keen to see a film based on it; but then things got interesting, it was announced that it was to be Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut. Molly's Game poster

After a freak accident caused the end of her dreams of becoming an Olympic Skier, Molly Bloom decided to take a year out somewhere warm.  Finding herself working in LA as a PA.  Her boss orders her to help run his poker game that features a few celebrities.  Before long, thanks to intellect, drive and organisation she took over the game and transformed it from a relatively friendly high stakes game into the biggest game in town.  Things go really well, until they don’t.     molly's game jessica chastain

It has been reported the real life game featured A list Hollywood stats, hedge fund managers, politicians and wealthy businessmen.  The names have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent.  Even West Hollywood’s infamous Viper Room (the venue for the original game) has been rebranded for the movie.  This anonymity becomes a far more important element of the story later on.  The most notable of the players known as Player X (Michael Cera) is portrayed as a grade one asshole, he clearly based on a real Hollywood star, do your own research if you are interested in finding out who he is, it isn’t difficult. molly's game michael cera

As you would expect in a movie written by Aaron Sorkin, the dialogue is intelligent, snappy and extremely fast paced.  It is an absolute joy to hear it spoken by supremely talented actors Jessica Chastain in the title role as Molly Bloom, Idris Elba as her lawyer Charlie Jaffey and Kevin Costner in a small but memorable part as her farther Larry Bloom.  What I didn’t expect was the structure.  Told with that rarest of things, a voiceover that works.  at first the flashbacks seemed a little disjointed, as the film found its feet at became clear that it was telling a story at three different points in time, not just flashbacks.  This was easy to follow and well balanced, as a viewer, I never wanted to be in a different part of the story. MOLLY'S GAME

I was amazed to learn that it clocks in at 2 hours 20, it felt more like 100 minutes.  With the dialogue coming at million miles an hour it packs a lot in this time.  The best of the story comes with the interactions between Chastain and Elba.  Elba even gets the obligatory grandstand Lawyers speech, this is far measured than you would expect, but no less satisfying.  It is helps that it is shot with a reasonable amount of visual flair without being overly showy.  Aaron Sorkin’s script is based on Bloom’s book so is understandably sympathetic to her.  It is also a product of its time; wrapped before the recent scandals, there is little mention of the players attitude towards women, something Bloom has mentioned in the past.  It does however have an interesting and not particularly favourable comment on how the American justice system works.

Not without problems, but all things considered a classy and impressive film elevated by fantastic dialogue and brilliant acting.  It is also great fun to watch, with some great comic moments.  On the evidence of this I am keen to see what Aaron Sorkin comes up with next and hope it is also in the director’s chair. 

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3 Days To Kill opened a couple of weeks ago to universal derision, it surprisingly isn’t that bad. With a script by Luc Besson and a plot featuring an aging CIA hit-man, comparisons with Taken are unavoidable. Kevin Costner does a good job with a flimsy and derivative story that loses its way in the middle. The action scenes and the family bonding both work on their own merits but the film fails to join the two elements together into a coherent movie. Not as nasty as Taken but also not as focused, it is worth seeing for any fans of either Costner or Besson, but we should expect so much more from Luc Besson.3 Days to Kill

Both as a director and writer/producer Besson has been responsible for some great films. Subway (1985) was the beginning of the style over substance tag (known as Cinéma du look movement ) that has followed Besson for his entire career, but with this much style how much substance do you need? Five years later came the film that introduced me to non English language cinema: Nikita (1990), I rented the VHS when I was 15 years old (I know it is an 18 and I was 15, but the video shop man didn’t notice or care!) about a year after its cinema release, I was drawn to the movie mainly because I liked the cover. Often criticised for lack of originality, Nikita has surely influenced more movies than it was influenced by. Anne Parillaud’s reluctant government assassin has spawned a Hollywood remake, two TV shows and countless imitators. Léon(aka The Professional) (1994) is widely regarded as Besson’s best film thanks to the just over-the-top enough turn by Gary Oldman and the sensational feature debut of 12-year-old Natalie Portman. It is also notable as Besson’s first film in English. Again in English, this time with an even less restrained Gary Oldman, The Fifth Element (1997) saw a new direction for Besson, a big budget Sci-Fi adventure. it has its problems but on the whole is a fun with some interesting ideas. Better know as a writer and producer in recent years, he is still able suprise as a director as he did with the bizarre but brilliant Angel-A (2005) and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010). Sadly less well know, possibly because they are in French, I would recommend both movies to anyone who hasn’t seen them.nikita

Probably the best know of his writer/producer movies is The Transporter (200, 2005, 2008), starring Jason Statham, they are exactly what you expect from Besson and Statham, slick, glossy, well made, dumb action. Also falling into that category but with more comedy is Taxi (1998) and its three sequels (2000, 2003, 2007). Also notable for early appearances from Marion Cotillard nearly a decade before La Vie en rose. I wouldn’t bother with parts 3 and four or the American remake (2004) but the first two films are great. There were three films released in the UK in 2006 to feature parkour: Breaking and Entering (2006), Casino Royale (2006) and District 13 (2004) (original title Banlieue 13, also known as District B 13). Only District 13 stars parkour founder David Belle. Belle and writer/producer returned for a sequel District 13: Ultimatum (2009) and Brick Mansions (2014), neither were as good as the exciting and innovative original film. Lockout (2012) is a B Sci-Fi starring Guy Pearce and go-to kidnap victim Maggie Grace. The story is derivative and the effects terrible, but the film itself is tremendous fun and really Enjoyable.Lockout

Working across multiple genres, Besson also wrote, produced and directed the Arthur and the Invisibles movies (2006, 2009, 2010), and the biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, The Lady (2011). I haven’t seen any of these films so can’t comment on them other than to say they were not well received critically. Returning to the director’s chair for his next film Lucy, set for release in August (in UK). Starring Scarlett Johansson in the title role it looks from the trailer like a riff on the ideas of Limitless. A return to large budget Sci-Fi and yet another film to feature a strong female lead, I am looking forward to it.the lady

All this producing isn’t an act of randomly placing his name on movies to help distribute them, in 1999 he founded the Paris based EuropaCorp, one of the few independent studios that both produces and distributes movies. As well as the films Besson has creative infuemce over, he has also produced Nil by Mouth (1997), directed by Gary Oldman; The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, by Tommy Lee Jones (2005) (and Tommy Lee Jones’ upcoming The Homesman) and Tell No One (2006), by Guillaume Canet. Three fantastic films that may not have been made if not for Besson and EuropaCorp. While I respect what Besson is doing with EuropaCorp, I would just like to see a few more great films directed by him and a few less mediocre ones written and, or produced by him.

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Dom 5As the award season hots up, its time for the third annual groovers awards. All awards are chosen by me and the criteria for eligibility is decided by me. Most of the awards are self explanatory: Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Actor and Actress, Best Screenplay (original or adapted), Best Foreign Language Film. The Best Looking Movie is just as it sounds, the movie that looks best, a combination of design and photography. The Fandango Award; Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. The Fandango award goes to a writer, director of star for a debut or breakthrough movie.

Best Movie: StokerStoker

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for GravityAlfonso Cuarón for Gravity

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett for Blue JasmineCate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers ClubMatthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

Best Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight Richard Linklater Julie Delpy Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight

Best Foreign Language Film: The Broken Circle BreakdownThe Broken Circle Breakdown

Best Looking Movie: GravityGRAVITY

Fandango Award:  The award goes to Jeremy Lovering and Alice Englert for In Fear. Although his debut movie, Jeremy Lovering has been directing for TV for 20 years. Although this is rising star Alice Englert third movie, it was actually shot before the other two. Jeremy Lovering and Alice Englert for In FearA special mention to Dustin Hoffman who at the age of 75 and after more than 50 years in the business decided to turn his hand to directing with Quartet but he didn’t win.Dom 5

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Growing up in England my first sporting love is football, I started watching American football when it was first show on British TV in the 80’s. Then a few years later a few years later I started watching NBA basketball. Now I only ever watch occasionally and then only the big the big games. But one American I watch at every opportunity is baseball. I started watching it in the late 90’s on TV but really fell in love with the sport a few years ago when I went to my first game, San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks at AT & T Park. By a mixture of luck and judgement I had a fantastic seat between home plate and first Base and was lucky enough to sit next to a season ticket holder who helped fill in the gaps in my knowledge of the game. Up until this point I had never affiliated myself to one particular team but suddenly became a Giants fan. As the season progressed and they finished with a record of 72–90 putting them fourth in the NL West I suddenly realised I was following a rubbish team.

The following season was a little better with Tim Lincecum who I had seen in the game I had been to the year before emerging as a top pitcher and taking a well deserved place in the All-Star Game. The highlight of the season came against the San Diego Padres when Jonathan Sánchez threw a near perfect “ no-hitter”. 2010 look liked like it would be more of the same, trailing the San Diego Padres most of the season, they did however come through to National League Western Division. They went on to defeated the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series, Philadelphia Phillies in the Championship Series and the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Maybe I had picked a decent team to follow after all.

This season has gone the same way, trailing to their old rivals the LA Dodgers. Just as things where starting to pick up they lost star player (and MVP at the All-Star Game) Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension. Then from august onwards everything seemed to go well as went on to win the division. The division series didn’t start well going down in the first two games against Cincinnati before coming back to win the next three games in Ohio. They started the same in the championship series going 3-1 down after for games to was years champions the St Louis Cardinals. They came back winning the next three games giving up just one run to set up a best of seven World Series against the Detroit Tigers. After coming from behind and facing six elimination games in the play-offs so far the Giants have started in style winning the first three games including back to back shutouts in games two and three. Needing just one win in the four possible remaining games its looking good for my adopted team.

So why all this talk of baseball on a movie blog? As mentioned in previous posts baseball is the most cinematic of sports and baseball movies are the reason I started watching the sport. More specifically Kevin Costner baseball movies.

Bull Durham (1988): Journeyman Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) is employed by a minor league baseball team to help educate their hotshot rookie pitcher Ebby LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), a player destined for the major-league if he can learn to control his erratic pitching. The pair don’t exactly hit it off, the problem is exacerbated by the presence of Annie (Susan Sarandon). This is the movie that first sparked my interest in baseball. The casting is perfect with genuine chemistry between the three leads and the right blend of comedy and drama. it’s a sports movie that knows which clichés to embrace and which to avoid.

Field of Dreams (1989): “If you build it, he will come” Iowa farmer Ray Kinchella (Kevin Costner) is compelled by voices he hears in his cornfield to build a baseball diamond on his land. Before long the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson and his team-mates banned in the 1919 Black Sox scandal (see Eight Men Out above) come to play there. On paper Field of Dreams a cheesy and pointless movie, in practice it is cinema perfection that gets better every time I see it.

For Love of the Game (1999): Costner plays Billy Chapel, a forty year old pitcher in his nineteenth season with the Detroit Tigers. While pitching in the final game of the season against New York we flashback to his career and his on-and-off relationship. It soon becomes evident that this will probably be his final game and it could well be a perfect game. Made by people (Director Sam Raimi as well as Costner) who clearly do love the game. Unfairly overlooked, it isn’t as good as a movie as his other two movies but it gives a very different prospective.

All three of his movies feature very different characters with varying relationships to baseball; Crash Davis is a Journeyman in the minor leagues, he operates as a catcher and mentor for a rookie pitcher, he is also closing in on the minor league record for career home runs. Ray Kinsella is a fan of the sport obsessed with the beauty and history of the game. Billy Chapel is a major-league star, prominently a starting pitcher. As he plays for the Detroit Tigers in the American League who adopt the designated hitter rule it is unlikely he spends much time at bat. I would love to see another Costner Baseball movie, at 57 he is clearly too old to make another movie as a player but there is lots of scope to play a coach or scout.

Back to 2012 World Series, game four is set for later today with remaining games on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday if needed, lets hope they are not!

 

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