Red Sparrow

March 5, 2018 at 8:01 am | Posted in Dance Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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A tongue-in-cheek summary would say that Jennifer Lawrence is the body double for Isabella Boylston – a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater – who plays Boshoi prima ballerina Dominika Egorova.

After a spectacular ballet sequence, Egorova is forced to become a ‘sparrow’ – spies trained to physically and psychologically seduce their targets. Jennifer Lawrence gets most of the screen time :-).

The film is gritty: torture, beatings, assassinations, etc. Yet there is a plot with many twists and betrayals: who is telling the truth? The props and lighting is excellent – a very Gorky Park 80’s grey vibe. The sparrow training sequences are harrowing. Egorova’s operational scenes take us through parts of Europe and London.

Worth giving a go.


Dior and I

August 4, 2014 at 10:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Another ‘visit’ to the NZ International Film Festival: Frédéric Tcheng’s “Dior and I“.

This is a ‘beautiful’ film: beautiful clothes; beautiful locations; beautiful people; and no shouting, but a surprisingly collaborative creative process.

It is 2012 and Belgian Raf Simons is being welcomed as the new Creative Director at the House of Dior; with him is his “right hand man” Pieter Mulier. The pair have eight weeks to create a collection.

This film gives a wonderful behind the scenes at one of the last great fashion houses. Go-Pro cameras planted everywhere give candid access to all parts of the creative process. Frédéric Tcheng artfully weaves historic footage of Dior and words from his biography into the candid footage.

What surprised me the most was the relationship between the Raf, and Florence and Monique. The latter are the premiers – they run two teams of ateliers. It is actually the ateliers who do the detailed design on all of the haute couture: Raf sets out how the garments will look and drape, but it is the atelier who does the detailed design and chooses how to cut and assemble the garment. As, one ateliers says; “I sketch the dress, make it, and it is Raf’s interpretation of my dress”. It is Florence and Monique decide which of their ateliers is responsible for a particular garment. Florence looks after suits and Monique looks after dresses.

The ateliers are the guardians of Dior’s legacy. Many have been there for decades; some have been there for 40 years! being french, they are beautifully turned out and work in heels – even on the control pedal of the sewing machines.

There really was no shouting. There was emotion and passion.

The showing takes place in a house with each room decorated with a separate flower – so many flowers that it takes 50 men two days to install all of the flowers.

If the ateliers are well turned out, then everyone else is ‘beautiful’ everyone of them could step straight into an editorial shoot. The fit-models are tall and thin; the runway models are ‘just so’. The Managing Director is an elegant french woman.

Anna Wintour, Marion Cotillard, Sharon Stone and Jennifer Lawrence make cameo appearances at the showing. I just hope that the Dior client who spends over 330,000 Euro a year, and received a personal fitting in New York from Monique, was also there.

My only question is how do they make the model’s shoes look so small?

American Hustle

February 23, 2014 at 8:55 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I haven’t seen a con-artist movie or TV program for a while, but I recently found time to see American Hustle. It is quite good, it has a genuine surprise end – and satisfying. I enjoyed it.

Warning: Plot elements discussed.

Irving, played by Christian Bale, and Sydney/Edith, played by Amy Adams, are a team of small time con-artists caught Richie the FBI agent, played by Bradley Cooper. Richie then forces them to help him catch other con-artistis; and before you know it Operation ABSCAM was born. The film is loosely based on this 70’s FBI operation to target public corruption.

There is a fake sheik who will invest in casinos and Irving and Richie are his intermediaries. As they meet with politicians, the FBI video tapes them.

Richie spins out of control and goes after the mafia. Irving and Sydney know that if he succeeds there will be lots of bodies – starting with theirs.

Rosalyn, Irving’s wife, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a loose cannon amongst the play acting; any moment she will expose them all. She is also the other side of the love triangle with Irving and Sydney.

As the stakes get higher and higher more an more pressure piles up on Irving.

The film is morally ambiguous: would any of the politicians acted the way if the sheik was not offering money to invest in ‘jobs for Americans’; all they were doing is making things go faster – and they may never have actually taken a bribe for this particular set of circumstances. Richie is coercing Irving and Sydney to con the politicians and mafioso sails very close to entrapment; and his actions lack equity. Will he get his just desserts.

Bale, Adams, Lawrence, and Cooper turn in great performances. Bale is just great as a flawed man, with heart issues, trying to get out of a stressful high stakes situation. Adams shows she is not just a pretty face. Lawrence shows her amazing versatility.

The music is well thought out: a mixture of keynote 70’s music and jazz; Irving is jazz; and Richie is the flashy 70’s disco.

The Hunger Games: Catching the Fire

December 18, 2013 at 8:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Jennifer Lawrence :: Katniss Everdeen; Josh Hutcherson :: Peeta Mellark; Woody Harrelson :: Haymitch Abernathy; and Donald Sutherland :: President Snow are re-united for another view of life in a possible future North America (Pan-Am).

Sutherland does a great villain.

Lawrence is once more the conflicted reluctant role model; part of the conflict is what is she suppose to be modeling.

Some time in the past, the Capital won some kind of conflict with the other Districts, and has occupied them ever since with ‘peace keepers’. The Games are a tool of oppression and distraction. For a while I could not think of the Olympics as ‘just the Olympics’.

I found the second film in the series depressing.

As an indictment of 20% of the world enjoy 80% of the world’s resources – it is really in your face.

Once you suspend disbelief and enter the world of the movie, you are horrified that they have access to amazing nano-technology (and who knows what other ‘magic’), that you wonder how their world can be so set up so inequitably. A high level of technical advancement does not mean a high level of ethical and moral advancement.

Silver Linings Playbook

March 29, 2013 at 1:00 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I must admit that the only reason I went to see this at the theatre, rather than wait for the DVD at the library, was because of Jennifer Lawrence. I saw her in the Hunger Games; in Winter Bone; and she won an Academy Award for this movie.

Warning: Plot elements revealed.

The film is about two people, with mental health issues, dealing with their issues, while also dealing with life. It gets a bit intense – Bradley Cooper (Pat) and Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) develop coping strategies, all the while getting use to each other and life in general.

It is really more of a light drama than a romantic comedy.

The movie lets Lawrence demonstrate her versatility.

It is also a dance movie! Tiffany has always wanted to enter a dance competition, but needs a partner – Pat. Cooper is quite a good mover!

Robert de Niro is Pat’s dad – a man with borderline OCD! he gives a wonderful performance.

Worth a go, but it is not a funny as you might expect.

Winter’s Bone

January 18, 2011 at 12:38 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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Went to see this the other day and was very impressed by the tight story and sparse feel of the film.

Winter’s Bone follows Ree – an Ozaks teenager, played by Jennifer Lawrence – as she looks to find her father, so that the she can keep the family home. Her father has put the family home, no real palace, but better than a cave, up as surity for him appearing in court.

Ree navigates the male oriented, closed society, in the hills looking for her father. Her father is no real gem, as he is more often away, living at the edge of the law. Indeed, many of the people Ree encounters are to some degree living on the edge of the law.

People are unfaillingly polite, and direct, and everyone stands by their word – if you don’t want to, don’t say anything. A place of walk softly and be prepared to use the big stick you carry, or be prepared to be hit by the stick the other person is carrying.

Much of the people people petitions – she has no stick and no man to front for her – are related to her. Family mean obilgations, not necessarily warmth. Her uncle and cousins at times seem as brutal towards her as non-family members.

As the film develops, we see that really tricky problems are dealt with by the women – often in the shadows.

Ree needs to hang onto her home to raise her two young siblings and look after her mentally ill mother. Even the army – escape route for many in poor circumstance – is not a way out: she is too young; and the large sign-up bonus doesn’t come through immediately.

In the end her courage impresses everyone – those watching and those in the film.

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