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Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Fiennes’

Whilst watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them I rapidly came to the conclusion that Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Kowalski (Dan Fogler) are more interesting than the main characters.  This got me thinking of the supporting characters that have enhanced movies this year:queenie-alison-sudol-and-kowalski-dan-fogler

Rocky: Let’s start with the strangest, Rocky as a supporting character in a Rocky movie! Creed is a Rocky movie, but it’s also its own beast and Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Adonis Johnson/Creed and was unlucky not to receive an Oscar nomination, but Sylvester Stallone was fantastic as Rocky and truly was a supporting character.sylvester-stallone-creed

Ringer: The 5th Wave was a poor film with little to recommend it but Maika Monroe was brilliant as ever playing the most fun character in the movie.ringer-the-5th-wave-maika-monroe

Sheriff Chris Mannix: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is a truly ensemble movie and it is hard to call any of the characters supporting, however, in a dialogue heavy movie one of the less well known actors stands out: Walton Goggins. Anyone who has seen Justified won’t be surprised.sheriff-chris-mannix-walton-goggins

Penelope Lannier: Like many people the first I heard of Dakota Johnson was Fifty Shades of Grey, like many people I thought she was the only good thing about the film.  In A Bigger Splash not only does she stand out, but she does it against some seriously amazing actors: Tilda Swinton, Marianne Lane, Ralph Fiennes.penelope-lannier-a-bigger-splash-dakota-johnson

Howard: 10 Cloverfield Lane: is a seriously leftfield sequel.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic in the lead but the film would have fallen apart without the brilliant John Goodman.howard-10-cloverfield-lane-john-goodman

Isabelle: In Louder Than Bombs, Isabelle Huppert is never less than sensational and has therefore set the bar pretty high for herself.  playing a dead character, we only see her in flashbacks, but she is the focus of the film and it wouldn’t work unless she is good.  The film is mesmerising and she is monumental.isabelle-huppert-louder-than-bombs

Tanya Vanderpoel: Margot Robbie‘s best moment in Whisky Tango Foxtrot is in the trailer.  To add to this she is supporting the brilliant Tina Fey in the first movie role worthy of her talents in years.  To be honest the offhand delivery of her line in the trailer is enough to give her a place on this list, but she also provides great support in to Fey’s lead.tanya-vanderpoel-margot-robbie-whisky-tango-foxtrot

St Clair Bayfield and Cosmé McMoon: If Meryl Streep gets within a mile of a movie she picks up an Oscar nomination, it is therefore hard to stand out in her presence, however, in Florence Foster Jenkins two performances stand out; Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg.st-clair-bayfield-and-cosme-mcmoon

Jane Clayton: The Legend of Tarzan: is a good old-fashioned action adventure film that was unfairly derided on release.  Alexander Skarsgård is good as John Clayton / Tarzan, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson do a really good job playing Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.  However, I would happily have watched a movie about Jane played by Margot Robbie in one of three standout performances this year.jane-clayton-the-legend-of-tarzan-margot-robbie

Jillian Holtzmann: Ghostbusters is a week film.  Its problems have nothing to do with the casting or the gender of the stars and has everything to do with flabby direction and a week unfunny script.  To give an actress as talented as Kristen Wiig such a poor part is a crime .  There is one good thing about the film and this comes from the one actor I had never heard of; Kate McKinnon.jillian-holtzmann-ghostbusters-kate-mckinnon

Jake: Star played by Sasha Lane is the star (pun intended) of American Honey but the standout performance comes from the supporting cast as Shia LaBeouf finally fulfils the promise of the talented young actor we saw in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and glimpsed in Nymphomaniac: and The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.american-honey-shia-labeouf

Miss Peregrine: Eva Green was the only good thing about Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, although she plays the eponymous role, she is a supporting character in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but a memorable supporting character.MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

Bobby Andes and Ray Marcus: Amy Adams is the focus of Nocturnal Animals, it will be a crime if she doesn’t pickup her sixth and seventh Oscar nominations for this and Arrival, but there are other standout performances that really make the film tick: Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.michael-shannon-aaron-taylor-johnson-nocturnal-animals

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Following my post about who might be the next Bond, here are a few people who could have been Bond.  I have stuck to British and Irish actors who have been in contention or mentioned since Timothy Dalton hung up his dinner jacket and Walther PPK in the late 80’s.

Ralph Fiennes: There was a time, around 1993 to 1996 (Schindler’s List – Strange Days – The English Patient) when Fiennes came from almost nowhere to become one of the best actors around.  In the last few years he has also added comedy to his repertoire.  He could have been the perfect Bond.  He was under consideration in both 94 and 04.  Did his appearance as John Steed in the terrible The Avengers 1998 end his chances?  He eventually became M, a character with enough hints at his back story to warrant his own movie.Ralph Fiennes james bond

Colin Firth: I have never considered Fiennes’ English Patient co star a contender for Bond, however, I was wrong so wrong.  Anyone who has seen him as Harry Hart in Kingsman will wonder what he he would have been like as Bond.Colin Firth James Bond

Idris Elba: Still in contention and would made a great Bond but as I mentioned in my last post, I think he is too old to get to get the chance now.Idris Elba james bond

Clive Owen: Made his name in the TV show Chancer (1990-91).  He was allegedly on the short (or possibly long) list when Pierce Brosnan got the part in the mid 90’s.  His name came up again in 1998 when he donned a dinner jacket for the film Croupier.  The part as The Driver in a series of BMW commercials cemented him as a fan favourite.  Now 51, he is probably too old, his last chance came and went when Daniel Craig was cast a decade ago.Clive Owen James Bond

Hugh Grant: His name came up a few times but he was never a serious contender.  Had he not become a star playing light comedy he could have been a good dramatic actor, the failure of Extreme Measures (1996) put an end to roles like that.  The Man From Uncle is a close as he is ever likely to get to Bond.Hugh Grant james bond

Liam Neeson: Reported to have turned the role down in 1994 because he wasn’t interested in making action movies.  He must have had a change of heart when he was offered Taken.Liam Neeson James Bond

 

 

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Dom 5We have had the BAFTA’s, The Globes and the awards for every guild you have heard of (and a few you haven’t), this weekend sees the main event, The Oscars.  But before that we have the Dom’s, The Fourth Annual Groovers Awards.  All awards are chosen by me and the criteria for eligibility is decided by me.  The award, is called the “Dom”, if you understand the relevance you need to watch Fandango. 

Best Movie: Boyhood

Easily my favourite movie of the year. boyhood-poster

Best Director: Richard Linklater

One of my favourite directors for two decades wins his first Dom for his masterpiece  Boyhood.richard linklater boyhood

Best Actor: Ralph Fiennes

Anyone who has seen In Bruges will know that Ralph Fiennes  can be funny but I never imagined that he could be anything like as funny as he is in The Grand Budapest Hotel. ralph fiennes the grand budapest hotel

Best Actress: Patricia Arquette

A supporting role in other awards but the centre and heart of my favourite film of the year, Boyhoodpatricia arquette boyhood

Best Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness

Funny clever and utterly brilliant, everything that is great about The Grand Budapest Hotel starts with the script. Wes Anderson Hugo Guinness

Best Documentary: 20,000 Days on Earth

Not actually a documentary by traditional definitions but the award winner is the fictionalised account of Nick Cave’s 20,000 days on earth:20,000 Days on Earth poster

Best Looking Movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel

A combination of photography, production design and all the other things that go into putting the directors vision on screen.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is a truly stunning film.  The Grand Budapest Hotel

Movie star of the year: Mia Wasikowska

Returning after appearing in the first Groovers Awards,  movie star of the year goes to Mia Wasikowska: After appearing in Stoker my favourite film of 2013 Mia Wasikowska is rapidly becoming one of my favourite actresses with fantastic performances in Maps to the Stars, The Double, Only Lovers Left Alive and Tracks in 2014.Mia Wasikowska

Fandango Award: Dan Gilroy. 

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: Dan Gilroy, the younger brother of writer director Tony Gilroy.  Dan Gilroy’s first credit was as a writer on Freejack in 1992.  More than twenty years and a handful of screenplays later he came up with Nightcrawler, a debut feature directed with the swagger and confidence of a veteran director. dan gilroy nightcrawlerDom 5

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The British Academy Film Awards will be awarded on Sunday.  Here are my predictions along with what I would like to see win in the major categories:

Best Film

  • My Choice: Boyhood
  • Prediction: Boyhood
  • Other nominations: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Theory of Everything, Birdman, The Imitation Gameboyhood-poster

 

David Lean Award for Direction

  • My Choice: Richard Linklater for Boyhood
  • Prediction: Richard Linklater for Boyhood
  • Other nominations: Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman, Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Damien Chazelle for Whiplash, James Marsh for The Theory of Everything:richard linklater boyhood

 

Best Leading Actor

  • My choice:  Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Prediction:  Michael Keaton for Birdman
  • Other nominations: Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game, Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything, Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler.ralph fiennes the grand budapest hotel

 

Best Leading Actress

  • My Choice: Reese Witherspoon for Wild (I haven’t seen still Alice)
  • Prediction: Julianne Moore for Still Alice
  • Other nominations: Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl, Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Amy Adams for Big Eyes.Wild

 

Best Supporting Actor

  • My Choice: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash
  • Prediction: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash
  • Other nominations: Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, Ethan Hawke for Boyhood, Edward Norton for Birdman, Steve Carell for Foxcatcher.j k simmons whiplash

 

Best Supporting Actress

  • My Choice: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
  • Prediction: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
  • Other nominations: Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game, Emma Stone for Birdman, Imelda Staunton for Pride, Rene Russo for Nightcrawler.patricia arquette boyhood

 

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer

  • My choice: Stephen Beresford & David Livingstone for Pride (I haven’t seen Kajaki but have heard great things about it)
  • Prediction: Stephen Beresford & David Livingstone for Pride
  • Other nominations: Elaine Constantine for Northern Soul, Yann Demange &Gregory Burke for ’71, Hong Khaou for Lilting, Paul Katis & Andrew de Lotbiniere for Kajaki.Pride

 

Best Original Screenplay

  • My Choice: Richard Linklater for Boyhood
  • Prediction: Richard Linklater for Boyhood
  • Other nominations: Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Damien Chazelle for Whiplash, Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman.richard linklater boyhood

 

Best Screenplay (Adapted)

  • My Choice: Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl
  • Prediction:  Graham Moore for The Imitation Game
  • Other nominations: Jason Hall for American Sniper, Graham Moore for The Imitation Game, Anthony McCarten for The Theory of Everything, Paul King for PaddingtonGillian Flynn

 

Best Cinematography

  • My Choice: Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman
  • Prediction: Dick Pope for Mr. Turner
  • Other nominations: Hoyte Van Hoytema for Interstellar, Robert D. Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ryszard Lenczewski for Ida: Lukasz Zal,emmanuel lubezki birdman

 

Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film

  • My Choice: Pride or Under the Skin
  • Prediction: Paddington
  • Other nominations: ’71, The Imitation Game, The Theory of EverythingUnder The Skin

 

EE Rising Star Award

  • My Choice: Jack O’Connell
  • Prediction: Shailene Woodley
  • Other nominations: Miles Teller, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Margot RobbieJack OConnell

 

Best Film Not in the English Language

  • Unfortunately, being the only one shown at my local cinema Trash is the only film I have seen so have no opinion on this category.  The nominations are: Ida, The Lunchbox, Two Days, One Night, Leviathan, Trash.Trash

 

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In the early 90’s Ralph Fiennes, then in his early 30’s became an apparent overnight star. after years on stage his first big break was in the TV show Prime Suspect. he then went on to a lacklustre adaptation of Wuthering Heights with a sadly miscast Juliette Binoche who was far too French for the part. Then out of nowhere came his career defining performance of Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List (1993). He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, I have never been able to comprehend how he didn’t win. This was followed by a starring role in Robert Redford’s Quiz Show (1994) and Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days 1995. Both of these were interesting parts that demonstrated Fiennes’ range. He came to the attention of a lot of people with The English Patient (1997), the second of three movies he appeared in to win best picture Oscar, the others being Schindler’s List. The film also reunited him with Wuthering Heights co star Juliette Binoche. I am happy to report both were perfectly cast this time. Ralph Fiennes Schindler's List

In 2005 he reached a whole new audience when he played Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a role he would reprise in all the remaining film series. The interviews that he did around the films suggested he had little knowledge or interest in phenomenally successful film franchise. His directorial debut came with Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus. Fiennes also took the leading role, a man with a great dislike of being praised, a trait that it has been suggested comes from the belief that the acceptance of praise may be an admission that he places value on others opinion of him! An interesting character for Fiennes to chose. Despite this varied array of work, one thing he has never been accused of is being funny. Having heard him in many interviews he clearly hates the publicity machine that goes with the industry, preferring to let his performance do the talking. In fairness he was very funny as Harry in, In Bruges. This however was achieved by playing the part deadpan straight complete with a preposterous accent. He also had some funny moments in Strange Days, but that was more an uncomfortable laugh out of pity and despair.Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus

None of this prepaid me for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. totally camping it up, Fiennes gives a note perfect performance. The history of movies has shown that comic actors taking on serious roles (Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, Bill Murray in Lost In Translation, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society) has been far more successful than straight actors trying to be funny. I don’t know and will probably never know if his impeccable timing is down to Fiennes’ performance of Andersons direction and editing. The film is hugely over stylised and is all the better for it, this is probably what allows Fiennes to escape the shackles and confines of the parts he normally platys. Allowing his young co-star Tony Revolori to play the straight role Fiennes appears to be having fun with the part.GHB_9907 20130130.CR2

I’m not sure Ralph Fiennes can step effortlessly from comic to dramatic performances like Jack Lemmon and Alec Guinness did but I would certainly like to see him in a few more comic roles if the results are anything like The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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Yet another Bond/Skyfall post, in my defence as a huge fan I write about James Bond all the time, I‘m not jumping on the bandwagon. In a variation on my recurring Drinks in Movies thread I am going to look at the drinks in Skyfall. There are films that are full of nuanced symbolism and metaphors, in other movies what you see is what you get. I could be cracking open the secrets of the film or reading too much into it you decide. Whatever your thoughts, there are lots of spoilers here so don’t read unless you have seen Skyfall.

As I have mentioned before Bond drinking a vodka martini is a bit of a cliché that is only partly true. In the Ian Fleming novels Bond invents the Vesper in Casino Royale but drinks various different things but favours Scotch Whisky, no great surprise, his farther is from Glen Coe after all. Around the half way point of the movie Silva (Javier Bardem) gives Bond (Daniel Craig) a glass of his favourite Whisky, a Macallan 1962 Fine and Rare Vintage, he describes it as being a 50 year old. Most likely a reference to the 50th anniversary of Bond rather than the drink itself. So what can we read into this? Silva knows everything about Bond, something thay he prides himself on. We also see M (Judi Dench) drinking the same Brand of whisky, something that I am sure hasn’t escaped Silva’s notice. Does it go deeper? Is it also the Writers (Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan) or the director (Sam Mendes) telling us they know there character, they aren’t filmmakers for hire, paid to churn out the next Bond film, they know their character inside out.  Its one of those great little touches that fans will appreciate but many people won’t notice like giving Bond a midnight blue dinner jacket instead of a black one.  

We do see Bond drinking a martini in the Macau casino but we never hear the shaken not stirred line or the Vesper recipe. This is still the Bond we have known for 50 years (longer in the books) and we aren’t going to forget that, but he is moving on. This works in the same way as the exploding pen conversation with Q (Ben Whishaw) being a reminder of the past and a signpost to the future.

There has been a lot of fuss over Bond drinking Heineken, this is unfounded as he is no stranger to beer having drunk it many times in the books and films. As a product placement Heineken has appeared in several films including Craig’s other two outings as Bond. Product placement is certainly nothing new to Bond, in the books he has drunk more champagne than anything favouring Taittinger. In Cassino Royale he remarks that “[1943 Taittinger] is probably the finest champagne in the world” but a long standing placement deal means he has drunk little but Bollinger since Live and Let Die 1973). I wouldn’t read much into beer or the product placement, but it is worth considering when he drinks it. In the scenes where Bond is “dead” he is living away from his spying world as a broken man, an ordinary man and not the supper hero that Bond has become, beer as the great leveller of men, a memento mori.

Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) pours M (Judi Dench) a glass of cognac, Courvoisier VSOP, this is a gesture seen many times in Bond films where M gives Bond a drink. A possible hint towards Mallory being the new M as he does at the end of the film. It actually goes a stage further than that. In GoldenEye Bond (Pierce Brosnan) meets the new M (Judi Dench’s first appearance) for the first time. When she offers him a drink he tells her “Your predecessor kept some cognac in the top drawer of…” she tells him that she prefers bourbon (She actually gives him Jack Daniel’s, a Tennessee Whiskey rather than a bourbon, but a common mistake in England). Later in the movie we see Mallory as M in an office more reminiscent of the one inhabited by previous M’s Robert Brown and Bernard Lee than the modern one Dench uses, the office and the return to Brandy could just be a further reference to Bonds past in his 50th year on screen, but it could also be a suggestion of a return to classic Bond of the 60’s.

As mentioned I am probably reading too much into this, but next time you watch Skyfall take a look and see what you think. And while you are at it look out for the scrabble score mug Q (Ben Wishaw) drinks his Earl Grey in. 

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Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred,Lord Tennyson. quoted by M

(I have attempted to limit spoilers to things seen in trailer)

M16 have lost a computer hard drive containing the true identities of NATO agents undercover in terrorist organisations. James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Eve (Naomie Harris) are in pursuit until Bond is shot and presumed dead. Held responsible for losing the drive, M (Judi Dench) is under political pressure when things take a dramatic turn for the worse. Bond returns, a shadow of his former self and sets about tracking down the person responsible, it soon becomes clear the answers lie close to home for M.

Die Another Day marked the 40th anniversary of the Bond movie series. Packed with nods to earlier movies some of which worked better than others but the film was terrible. I’m happy to report that isn’t the case here. For every nod to the past (The Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5) there is a reminder that this is a new modern Bond that exists closer to the real world than ever before (Q (Ben Whishaw) telling Bond they don’t go in for gadgets like exploding pens anymore). It is also a more serious film than we have come to expect, concerned with threats to national security not mad men bent on world domination. Another notable thing about Skyfall is how much of it is set in the UK. Although largely set oversees, Ian Fleming’s novels did spend a significant amount of time in England. The movies dispensed with this in favour of ever more exotic locations. Aside from the golf match at Royal St George’s in Goldfinger there is little of significance set in the UK. The travelogue of exotic settings helped cement Bonds image but in the ever shrinking world populated by increasingly well travelled people it takes more than that to impress viewers.

Bond movies live and die on the strength of their villains, the best villains are often the ones that are a reflection of Bond having a similar skill set but less honourable motivations. Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga rescued the otherwise poor The Man with the Golden Gun. Goldeneye took things up a notch by making the villain former 006 Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean). So how does Javier Bardem stack up? Anyone who has seen him as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men would know he was born to play a Bond villain. There are elements of his character and appearance that are typical archetypes of a Bond Villain, but there are also some new things thrown in. The most notable of the henchmen in Patrice (Ola Rapace) who doesn’t say much but shares some great action scenes with Bond.

To craft a beautiful looking film isn’t new for Bond, whatever you may think of Quantum of Solace, there is no denying that director Marc Forster and director of photography Roberto Schaefer’s film was stunning to look at. Skyfall improves on this, to make a desert landscape or an old DC-3 plane flying over it look good is one thing, but the drab underground interiors of Skyfall look as good as the bleak Scottish landscapes. It isn’t just the way the movie looks that sets it apart the, director Sam Mendes and writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan have achieved the near impossible, a modern day reinvention of Bond set in the present day but that feels live a Fleming story from the 60’s.

A staple of the Bond movies, is the so called Bond girls, they often fall on both sides of right and wrong and often straddle the fine line. Skyfall has just two such woman, Eve (Naomie Harris) a field agent working with Bond, who I expect to see again in future films. Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) who Bond comes across in the course of his investigation. But the greatest amount of screen time is given to Judi Dench’s M, the pair share a history and respect that along with comments on Bonds age suggests a lot has happened since Quantum of Solace. This is a Bond that would fit in well sometime after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a damaged forty-something Bond that picks up after the last of the Ian Fleming novels. And that’s the interesting thing in three movies Craig has gone from newly promoted 00 to older more jaded version of the character than we expected. In short Craig has a greater character arc than all his predecessors put together. The cast is rounded of by a perfectly cast Albert Finney who lends a link to Bond’s rarely discussed past and Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, again a character we will most likely see again.

Well paced with the right blend of action and intrigue, is it the best Bond film ever? I am actually not sure, it has gone so far from what we have come to expect of Bond that I hesitate to call it the best Bond film of all time, but it is certainly one of the best films to feature Bond. Best of all it suggests the new beginning and a new direction will continue in future films. Craig is signed on for another two films but who will direct them? The franchise has a history of bringing back successful directors to direct multiple movies, Sam Mendes is one director really should come back to continue what he has done with Skyfall.

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