Films

In a Nutshell: La Reine Margot (1994)

la_reine_margotBased on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, La reine Margot (Queen Margot or Die Bartholomäusnacht) is quite a movie.

On the evening of the forced marriage between Margot (Isabelle Adjani) of France and Henri de Navarre (Daniel Auteuil) in a political move amidst the religious war between Catholics and Protestants, what is meant to be a wedding party is turned into a massacre (well, the guests were strategically invited) of the Protestants.

Margot finds herself under house arrest and struggles to juggle the agendas of her brothers and mother, keeping alive her husband and satisfying her own lover La Môle (Vincent Perez).

Coming in close on 3 hours, this is definitely not a light watch with Catherine de Médicis (Virna Lisi) instigating trouble wherever she can with poisonings, incest, murder and so on. With graphic violence and sex, this may not be for sensitive viewers.

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In a Nutshell: Venom (2018)

venomWell, well, well…I never thought I’d ever watch this one. And I can’t tell you why I even switched it on…maybe holiday boredom…but actually…

…not at all what I expected. Not as bad as I expected. So yes, at the beginning I was thinking that this is just another action movie. Besides, I’m not really a supporter of villains. But little by little, I was won over…not sure if it was by Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock (or just Tom’s acting) or the dry humour that slowly seeped through. I quite enjoyed the Eddie/Venom combo.

Oh…the story…Eddie, a hard hitting journalist loses everything for a potentially big story but gains a symbiote (I have since learnt that this is a Marvel race who require a host with which they become one entity). Of course, the reason he picks up this “parasite” (ah, love that constant argument) is because of some power-hungry guy wants to exploit the possibilities and create a new life form and so brings these gooey gunky extraterrestrial things back from a mission. Naturally they escape…naturally, things go wrong…

…but, sit back and enjoy. Don’t think. Don’t reason. Just sit and watch.

Just love that final dialogue scene about eating the bad guys…not the good guys.

Have fun!

In a Nutshell: Lawless (2012)

lawless_posterWow…what an excellent movie I’ve just watched. And to think I avoided it…somehow it just hadn’t appealed but for some reason I was meant to watch it these holidays.

Let me introduce Lawless. The story of three bootlegging brothers and their fight with the law. In Franklin County, Virginia, the Bondurant brothers have always managed to get by with their illegal Depression-era business with even the local law contributing to sales…until corrupt Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce, oh how shady he can be), comes along and makes it very clear that “I’m the one who’s going to make your life real difficult from now on if you don’t tow the line, country boy”. And that he does. What a bastard. But the Bondurants don’t just give in like the rest of the residents. Nope…and boy does it get brutal.

Based on a true story, Nick Cave brings alive Matt Bondurant‘s novel about Jack, Forrest and Howard played by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke respectively. Joining the cast are Jessica Chastain,Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman amongst others. All to make for one impressive performance by all involved.

Absolutely brilliant. Just don’t expect light escapism…

Here’s the trailer:

 

 

Before…Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight

Back in 1995 Before Sunrise totally passed me by. Never heard of it…therefore, never seen it.

But then, somewhere around 2004 (probably 2005/2006 by the time it was released down in the far southern hemisphere), I watched Before Sunset and really enjoyed it. It has Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy), who met 9 years earlier in Before Sunrise, meet again as Jesse promotes his latest book in Paris. They spend time together casually catching up about their lives as they became and slowly their encounter those years before comes to the surface again. I remember people commenting that this movie was boring but somehow I felt not. It was so real, a reflection of two people remembering, mulling over decisions made and the pathes taken. For me, the real-time story (Jesse has only an hour before he is due to catch a plane) adds to the realism.

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Naturally, I had to go find Before Sunrise. The story that started it all. How Jesse and Céline met in Vienna. How that wonderful night, that first encounter, inspired the bestselling book being promoted in 2004.

before sunrise

And that was that for a while. I was satisfied how the two stories worked together.

Then, the 2013 Before Midnight came out. Once again Jesse and Céline and their current lives. 9 years after their second encounter, which was 9 years after their first encounter. While this one left me slightly despondent it still worked for me due to the elapsed years since the previous one and thus the contemplation around how time impacts relationships. The realism of it all.

before midnight

What makes this “Before trilogy” stand out is the approach in terms of the number of years that have passed both within (or should I say, between) the stories but also within the actual filming/release times. It adds a genuine touch. That we grow up or mature with the characters and the actors.

YearafterYear

But, I think this wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t have Richard Linklater writing and directing all three of them. And, we consistently have Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Céline. They also add their writing skills to Before Sunset and Before Midnight. So, from viewer to director to writer to actor to character…we’ve all grown together, we’ve all changed but our core is still the same.

If you would like something slightly different, something where you feel like you are accompanying a couple sharing their thoughts, something thought provoking, then give these three movies a go. In chronological order though.

Head on over to MovieMovieBlogBlog for the Year after Year Blogathon where the entries have to deal with a time span of at least one year.

 

Unexpectedly…great…

unexpected41Yes, so, well, isn’t it strange how the movies you nearly pass by often end up being in your favourites list? Not sure if it comes down to expectations…or, rather, the lack of expectations? Or, simply the nature of things? Whatever it boils down to, I guess, doesn’t really matter…what counts is that they become your own personal greats and unexpectedly so…thus making their way into Taking Up Room‘s The Unexpected Blogathon.

Now, because I couldn’t make up my mind on which unexpectedly super movie to write about, I thought I’d just tell you about a three that immediately come to mind. Here they are in no particular order.

Vir Altyd (2016)

I’d done something we shouldn’t do…pre-judge. And I’d pre-judged South African movies. Until recently I only had some dodgy comedies to go on and that Oscar winner looked like it would hit home too hard, so I avoided it. I just couldn’t be convinced. Until, somehow I had Afrikaans movie Vir Altyd showing. And I totally fell in love. After getting used to the South African accents (I’m not used to hearing my own accent on the screen) I simply savoured every moment of this one.

We have Nina (DonnaLee Roberts) about to walk down the aisle on the day that her closest childhood friend Hugo (Ivan Botha) comes back to town for the first time in years. Circumstances on the wedding day (no, he has not come to break up the ceremony) have these two embark on an adventure which is absolutely delightful to watch.

vir-altyd

I can’t believe it took me so long to catch on to these Afrikaans movies. Didn’t expect to have this one amongst my favourites. With Pad na jou Hart, another teaming up of DonnaLee Roberts and Ivan Botha, close on its heels.

Centurion (2010)

2852-FINAL_CENTURION 70x100op 50 %.inddI clearly remember walking into the local Video Store (remember those?) to find something to watch. I had no idea what I was in the mood for. By this stage, however, the store owner had gotten to know me and pulled out Centurion. “No way” (or something along those lines) is what I told him. I didn’t feel like some random action movie. I can’t remember how but convince me he did (I do know he just checked it out for me at some point and told me to trust him)…I walked out the store with soon to be one of my favourites.

Centurion, yes, it is an action movie and a very simple one. A game of cat and mouse. A small band of survivors of Rome’s famous Ninth Legion find themselves on the run, behind enemy lines. But, the dynamics within the group fleeing for their lives together with those they encounter make this an interesting one.

Oh, and of course, being me, I just can’t resist that understated romance…*sigh*…I have a weakness for these romantic moments in “non-romantic” genre movies.

Michael Fassbender leads the flight to safety with Olga Kurylenko being one mean Pict (well, technically Roman) tracker who never once eases up on the relentless chase. We also have Dominic West, Imogen Poots, JJ Feild, Lee Ross, David Morrissey, Liam Cunningham, Noel Clarke and a whole lot more join in.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

This one utterly and truly blew me away on first viewing. Oh my! I was in this daze for days (ha ha – that wasn’t intended). I couldn’t function…all I had was “car” chases, dust, bizarre masks, blood bags, electric guitarists and such going round and round and round in my mind. It was like I’d stepped into another dimension. The night I’d watched it was totally sleepless…or, rather, it felt like I was awake but obviously not because I was in the Mad Max world. Basically, this one was such a warped, wonderful, weird visual trip that just couldn’t be switched off with the credits rolling. It had caught me so by surprise…it needed lots and lots of processing.

MadMaxPosterOnce again one I’d no intention at all, ever, EVER to watch it. I mean, “everyone” told me that the Mad Max movies were such a load of rubbish. Yet, as is human nature, the more I was told it was a waste of time, the more I was in some way intrigued. Especially given the fact that I’d never seen a Mad Max movie before. All I knew was one of the posters with Mel Gibson on it. That was it. One evening, I was like a kid…I’d just peek at the first few seconds…huh, fat chance…I watched the whole thing and could have gone for round two.

Hmmm, I’ve just realised that this is another “chase” movie with Furiosa (Charlize Theron), against the dictatorial system in a futuristic wasteland world, on the run with Max (Tom Hardy), just trying to stay out of the system he’s escaped from. Joining their cause in an attempt to restore humanity and order are Nicholas Hoult,  Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton  and with Hugh Keays-Byrne  leading the tyrannical world.

Thinking of it…I need another “Mad Max fix”…I know what I’m about to start watching again. And ooh, ooh, I believe there is a Chrome version – that must be absolutely gorgeous.

So, that’s it for now. The three movies amongst my favourites that totally unexpectedly ended up there.

Head on over to Taking up Room for more entries in her Blogathon.

And here are the trailers:

Proof of Life…Meg in a different role

meg-blog3Way back when, Meg Ryan was the light-hearted romantic lead. And she fitted it perfectly. Any RomCom that came out with her in it was an automatic “watch”. Well, that was the case for me and my circle of friends. And tucked in somewhere between the delightful You’ve Got Mail and Kate & Leopold was a more serious Proof of Life.

And you know what? She pulled off this role very well. I really enjoyed her out of that light-hearted stereotype we’d gotten to know her as.

Here she is Alice Bowman, living in South America with her husband Peter (David Morse), who is kidnapped by guerillas opposing the pipeline plan he is working on. Desperate to get him back, she hires negotiator Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) to try secure Peter‘s release.

Having had some marital tensions leading up to the kidnapping, she is placed in a full stress situation of getting him back but at the same time spending many long hours with Terry. This stirs up some interesting situations. Which Meg Ryan pulls of so convincingly. What I enjoy about her role here is how she manages to pull us into her conflicting emotions of being the concerned wife but also feeling an attraction to the rescuer. And not once do we “see” her RomCom persona in Proof of Life as can tend to happen when actors focus on one type of role. This just shows how wonderful Meg Ryan was as an actress (“was” because I haven’t seen her in anything since Kate & Leopold).

That final scene always leaves me wondering how things would have turned out if circumstances had been different.

So, here’s to you Meg Ryan. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday for Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies “The Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon”.

The Greatest Film I’ve Never Seen…

the-greatest-film-ive-never-seen-blogathonRephrase that…”I’d never seen”. “Greatest”, that I might need some convincing of but hey, I’ll get back to that later.

Who doesn’t at some point or another say, in a deep, creepy Schwarzeneggerian/Terminatorian voice…”I’ll be back”? Come on, admit it. And if you aren’t going to, then at least just come out with it that you’ve heard that line used many a time. I’m just going to come straight out and admit it. Together with…I’d never seen The Terminator (1984) until today. Yep. It’s true. Although, funny enough, because it is deemed such a, dare I say, classic, I have had the DVD for a number of years now. Cellophane still on. And I finally watched it.

What was I expecting? Actually, I don’t really know. I’d obviously picked up from pop culture musings that there was a terminator (yes, yes, cyborg, I know) who wrecks some havoc on earth. Why and where and how everything unfolds, well, there I had no clue. Like most of us, I think, all I had was this:

the-terminator-poster

Right?

And then maybe this…

Terminator

..which I have since learnt is a cyborg. A cybernetic organism covered with living human tissue. In this case, a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). It has been sent to earth to terminate Sarah Connor. Sent to protect her is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). That’s pretty much the jist of the story. But there’s a catch to it…a really good one. One I didn’t see coming and one that I’ve been mulling over the whole day. Or rather, trying to get my mind around the whole day…almost a chicken and egg situation. I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen this movie. Besides, I need to ponder the situation a bit more.

Anyway, all-in-all, not a bad movie. One I’m enjoying more and more as I rewind it in my mind and as I re-watch snippets of it. Knowing the end (a very tender one for me), the events leading up to it take on a new dynamic which wasn’t there on first watching.

Is it one of the greatest movies I’d never seen? Well, I’m not sure yet. It definitely wasn’t bad. And definitely deserves its status. I’ve been told I need to see the next two in order to better appreciate it. But whatever it is (or isn’t), I did actually enjoy it (80s feel and all) and must thank Moon in Gemini for hosting this Blogathon without which I probably still wouldn’t have gotten around to watching this one.

For more revelations on movies that hadn’t been seen, head on over to Moon in Gemini. You’ll be amazed that you are not alone with some of them. Whew. But one thing is for sure, I need to catch up with more of these “greatest” movies I’ve never seen.