In the Heart of the Sea

ItHotS poster Warner Bros. (2015) 121 min. PG-13

Director: Ron Howard

Screenplay: Charles Leavitt; based on story by Rick Jaffa, Charles Leavitt & Amanda Silver & novel by Nathaniel Philbrick

Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle; Editing: Dan Hanley & Mike Hill

Production Design: Mark Tildesley; Set Decoration: Dominic Capon; Costumes: Julian Day; Score: Roque Baños

Stars: Chris Hemsworth (Owen Chase), Benjamin Walker (George Pollard), Cillian Murphy (Matthew Joy), Brendan Gleeson (old Thomas Nickerson), Ben Whishaw (Herman Melville), Tom Holland (young Thomas Nickerson), Frank Dillane (Owen Coffin), Michelle Fairley (Mrs. Nickerson)

The aged survivor of a maritime disaster, Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) recounts his tale of woe to a young Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw). When a boy (Tom Holland) in 1819 Nantucket he signed aboard the whale ship Essex, under the inexperienced command of George Pollard Jr. (Benjamin Walker). Having been promised the post himself, resentful first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) has little respect for his captain, and the two men clash constantly over discipline and protocol.

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Unbroken

Unbroken posterUniversal (2014) 137 min. PG-13

Director: Angelina Jolie

Screenplay: Joel & Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese & William Nicholson; based on novel Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Cinematography: Roger Deakins; Editing: Tim Squyres; Production Design: Jon Hutman; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson; Costumes: Louise Frogley; Score: Alexandre Desplat

Stars: Jack O’Connell (Louis Zamperini), Domhnall Gleeson (Phil), Finn Wittrock (Mac), Miyavi (Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe), Garrett Hedlund (Fitzgerald), Alex Russell (Pete Zamperini), Jai Courtney (Cup), C.J. Valleroy (Young Louie), Shinji Ogata (Japanese Translator), Taki Abe (Radio Tokyo Man)

From the title alone I should have had an inkling of what to expect from this Angelina Jolie directed adaptation of Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 bestseller about Italian-American bombardier Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) and his POW experiences in a Japanese internment camp on Tokyo during WWII.

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Game of Thrones (Season One)

o-official-poster-for-hbo-s-fantasy-series-game-of-thronesHBO (2011) 60 min. TV-MA

Creators: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss; based on A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin 

Cinematography: Matthew Jensen, Marco Pontecorvo & Alik Sakharov; Editing: Martin Nicholson, Oral Norrie Ottey & Frances Parker; Production Design: Gemma Jackson; Costumes: Michele Clapton; Score: Ramin Djawadi

Stars: Sean Bean (Ned Stark), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark),  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Mark Addy (King Robert Baratheon), Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)

I know I’m way late to this party, but thanks to three free months of pay cable granted me gratis for being such a loyal FIOS customer, I recently started catching up with Game of Thrones, the hour-long HBO fantasy series, the first few seasons of which are available for download on premium pay-per-view. I never considered myself a fantasy fiction fan before. Maybe it was all the lewd illustration art featuring barely concealed buxom beauties suggestively brandishing heavy swords and surrounded by leering dragons. I was fool enough to believe this geekish world of Dungeons and Dragons was strictly for the enjoyment of horny teenage gamers. 

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The New World

New Line Cinema (2005) 135 min. PG-13

Director: Terrence Malick

Screenplay: Terrence Malick

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Editing: Richard Chew,  Hank Corwin, Saar Klein, Mark Yoshikawa

Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Costumes: Jacqueline West; Score: James Horner

Stars: Colin Farrell (John Smith), Q’orianka Kilcher (Pocahontas), Christian Bale (John Rolfe), Christopher Plummer (Captain Newport), August Schellenberg (Chief Powhatan), Wes Studi (Opechancanough), David Thewlis (Wingfield), Jonathan Pryce (King George)

The New World is a cornucopia spilling over with such visual richness that it reminds me of that celebrated line Howard Carter uttered upon uncovering King Tut’s tomb. The first to enter and gaze on magnificent sights buried for nearly 3,300 years, when asked by his anxious benefactor if he saw anything, his awestruck response was “Yes, wonderful things.” Watching this Terrence Malick movie is like that – a bedazzling aesthetic experience that just leaves one enraptured. Painstakingly pieced together, it’s a finished masterpiece of found footage that retains its director’s intuitive appreciation for the unexpected, the accidental, the chance discovery. The New World is permeated by Malick’s own sense of wonder. Continue reading

The Eagle

Focus Features (2011) 114 min. PG-13

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Screenplay: Jeremy Brock; based on The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle; Editing: Justine Wright

Production Design: Michael Carlin; Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway

Costumes: Michael O’Connor

Score: Atli Örvarsson

Stars: Channing Tatum (Marcus Flavius Aquila), Jamie Bell (Esca), Donald Sutherland (Uncle Aquila), Mark Strong (Guern), Tahar Rahim (Seal Prince), Denis O’Hare (Lutorius), Aladár Laklóth (Flavius Aquila)

The Eagle is well crafted, perfectly respectable popcorn entertainment. The majority of the movie was taken on location in Scotland (Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Summer Isles, Achnahaird Bay, etc.) by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, the Oscar-winning cameraman who also shot director Kevin Macdonald’s previous The Last King of Scotland. For The Eagle Mantle has photographed a beautiful expanse of the country, offering a wide variety of scenery, from grassy glens to the snowy Highlands. The result is a variety of gloriously breathtaking vistas. Continue reading

Wrath of the Titans

Warner Bros. (2012) 99 min. PG-13

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Screenplay: Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson; Story: Greg Berlanti, David Leslie Johnson and Dan Mazeau; based on Clash of the Titans (1981) by Beverley Cross 

Cinematography: Ben Davis; Editing: Martin Walsh

Production Design: Charles Wood; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

Costumes: Jany Temime; Score: Javier Navarrete

Stars: Sam Worthington (Perseus), Liam Neeson (Zeus), Ralph Fiennes (Hades), Rosamund Pike (Andromeda), Toby Kebell (Agenor), Édgar Ramírez (Ares), Bill Nighy (Hephaestus), Danny Huston (Poseidon)

 

This redundantly titled sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans opens with the narration of Zeus as he recaps events forgetful viewers need to be apprised of from the first film as if priming them for the latest installment of a chapter serial (Part 3 is currently in the works). For some reason all this is played out against images of cave paintings instead of the more age appropriate black silhouette figures that decorated Grecian urns and earthenware, and the confusing artistic choice associates the tale with an even earlier, Paleolithic time period than needs be.

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