32 posts categorized "Women Filmmakers"

December 21, 2022

ELVIS — CANNES 2022

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ColeSmithey.comThis soup-to-nuts musical biopic about Elvis Presley is a stunner.

Wow!

Sit back and enjoy.

Best if you're watching "Elvis" on a big screen; this is 100% a BIG SCREEN movie.

No holding back.

Tom Hanks delivers the most superb performance of his legendary career as con-man/music agent Colonel Tom Parker.

Hanks delivers the goods in spades. This is the work of a dedicated creator of character.

Tom Hanks is truly an actor's actor.

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Likewise, “Elvis” proves to be director/co-screenwriter Baz Luhrmann’s best film by far.

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As for the film’s lead actor, Austin Butler is phenomenal in his deeply executed portrayal of Elvis Presley.

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Butler’s performance is much more than an impersonation. You feel in touch with the real Elvis Presley through Austin Butler’s dynamic use of acting craft.

Fire, baby.

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Talk about range. 

This young man has range to spare.

And yes, that's Butler singing every Elvis song with his own vocal cords and skill.

Insane in the membrane.

Shut the front door, and listen to unadorned perfection.

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Let’s just give Austin Butler his Best Actor Oscar now.

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Credit goes to co-screenwriters: Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner for authoring a truly masterful script.

Film courses will focus on this movie.

ColeSmithey.com

Mandy Walker's cinematography is strictly superb.

On fleek bitches.

 

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Elvis Presley’s personal and public story is a cautionary tale connected to the turbulent American decades that witnessed political assassinations, rampant racism, puritanical assaults on freedom, and the best voice that you could possibly imagine, namely that of one Elvis Aaron Presley.

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Baz Luhrmann and his truly gifted team of dedicated actors and filmmakers do Elvis Presley’s rich musical legacy proud.  

ColeSmithey.com

If you only see one movie from 2022, "Elvis" is the one to choose.

Rated PG. 159 mins.

5 StarsBMOD COLE2

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

October 22, 2018

OPHELIA

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Thanks a lot acorns!

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ColeSmithey.comAlthough hindered by a lack of variety in its pacing, this fragrant imagining of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” as lived through the being of Hamlet’s love interest Ophelia, carries significant dramatic weight. There are plenty of juicy surprises to savor along the way.

Naomi Watts and Clive Owen share every bit as much chemistry here (Watts as Queen Gertrude and Owen as the incoming King Claudius), as they did in Tom Tykwer’s “The International” back in 2009. Talk about a winning duo, Owen and Watts are as good as it gets.

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What Tom Stoppard did for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with his 1967 post-modern play (“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”), young adult novelist Lisa Klein has done for a beguiling character whose personal tale of woe in the Middle Ages clearly deserves its own telling. Semi Chellas’s script adaptation flirts with the intrigue of Shakespeare’s language with a refreshing sense of modern English. The dialogue rings like a bell.

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Enter director Claire McCarthy (“The Waiting City”) to helm a brilliant cast in the service of the romantic period drama at hand. Daisy Ridley inhabits Ophelia with an inspired canniness and earthly grounding that places her as an equal to George MacKay’s Prince Hamlet. For once we see Hamlet as the teenage boy that Shakespeare intended. MacKay’s youth informs the role with the energy and naïveté that supports his hot tempered nature.  

For her part, Ophelia keeps a level head in the face of much cruelty and abuses of power that attack her wherever she turns. If the movie resonates with current social and political conditions in America and abroad then so much the better for the audience to contemplate the story’s many implications.    

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The filmmakers do a good job of isolating the action within the boundaries of Elsinore’s remote mountain top village where there is truly “something rotten in Denmark.” We get the contrast of the gritty atmosphere outside the castle walls where civility dares not frequent without reliable accompaniment. Although ostensibly made on a considerably smaller budget than anything Hollywood produces, David Warren’s production designs provide an authentic backdrop to the action.

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The incestuous nature of the relationship between Hamlet’s power-hungry uncle Claudius and Gertrude is clarified in an appropriately furtive scene that Ophelia witnesses through a window. One of this film's joys is the way characters eavesdrop or spy on others. Suspense and mystery attend violent outbursts, frequently involving swords.

Naomi Watts savors her dual role as the witch Mechtild who Ophelia visits to procure drugs for the Queen. Still, you can help but wish that Watts had taken advantage of the opportunity to chew the scenery more than she does.     

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Daisy Ridley’s Ophelia invokes strains of Kiera Knightly’s feisty naturalism even if only for similar facial expressions the two actresses share. “Ophelia” is a refreshing addition to the bold sub-genre of Shakespeare-inspired plays and films that weave in and around the prolific English playwright’s esteemed works. The movie accomplishes that most coveted of dramatic goals of leaving the audience wanting more. So be it, let’s more of these female-centric genre explorations; they are a dozen times more compelling than the Star Wars films that squander the talents of such compelling actresses as Daisy Ridley.

ColeSmithey.com

Rated PG. 114 mins.

Three Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

August 03, 2018

NICO 1988

ColeSmithey.com

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

Welcome!

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot pal!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

 

ColeSmithey.comWriter-director Susanna Nicchiarelli crafts a brief biopic about Velvet Underground legend Nico that is at turns inspired, frustrating, thrilling, and inchoate. Trine Dryholm’s unvarnished performance holds the film together with a weathered beauty teetering on the edge of an abyss that only her drug-addled character can see.

One element missing from the film is any regard for the stunning beauty of Nico’s youth — she worked as a model — who captured the hearts, minds, and libidos of Jackson Browne, Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Brian Jones, Jimmy Page, and notably Alain Delon with whom she had a son named Ari. Never mind that Delon never claimed the child who Nico abandoned when he was four-years-old.

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Dryholm embodies the tone-deaf chanteuse with the same nihilistic charisma that Lou Reed freely exhibited for most of his career. Nico clearly copped Reed’s heroin habit and refused to ever let it go. Her fascination with death comes through in the songs of her later career as featured in the film.

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Audiences unfamiliar with Nico’s ‘60s era collaborations with Reed and The Velvet Underground, under the guidance of Andy Warhol, receive no hand-holding in this film. If you don’t already know the haunting sound of Nico’s baritone European accented voice on the songs “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” “Femme Fatal,” or “Sunday Morning,” then you’ve got some homework to do.

Living a junkie existence with a band of amateur musicians, save a classically trained violinist, Nico (real name Christa Päffgen) performs for small audiences around Eastern Europe. Border crossings pose imminent danger. She hates the communist youths that risk jail to host her performance. She also loathes her fans, especially if they appear in the guise of naïve young women.  

ColeSmithey.com

We get that Nico was a child of war; she carries around a portable recorder to capture source sounds from the environments she visits, in the hope of rediscovering the sound of Berlin being bombed when she was a tyke. Nico longs for annihilation.

ColeSmithey.com

Ultimately, “Nico 1988” fails because it never convinces the audience as to why we should empathize with this brutal person. That Nicchiarelli omits the moment of Nico’s lonely death on a bicycle in Ibiza, comes across as laziness on the part of the filmmaker. “Nico 1988” is a solid showcase for Trine Dryholm but it doesn’t make a case for Nico’s music. 

Rated R. 99 mins.Two Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

 

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