The Revenant

images20th Century Fox (2015) 156 min. R

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Screenplay: Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu; based in part on novel by Michael Punke

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Editing: Stephen Mirrione

Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Caitlin Jane Parsons & Hamish Purdy; Costumes: Jacqueline West; Score: Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio (Hugh Glass), Tom Hardy (John Fitzgerald), Domhnall Gleeson (Cpt. Andrew Henry), Will Poullter (Jim Bridger), Duane Howard (Elk Dog), Forrest Goodluck (Hawk, Glass’ son), Arthur Redcloud (Hikuc), Melaw Nakehk’o (Powaqa), Kristoffer Joner (Murphy), Paul Anderson (Anderson), Lukas Haas (Jones)

  1. rev·e·nant (noun) a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead. A revenant is a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living. The word “revenant” is derived from the Latin word, reveniens, “returning” (see also the related French verb “revenir”, meaning “to come back”).

Based on the novel by Michael Punke, director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant is the (relatively) true story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a frontiersman in 19th ct. America who was mauled by a grizzly bear, and left for dead by companions John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Will Poullter) after they prematurely buried him alive.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Witch

the witch (179)A24 (2016) 93 min. R

Director: Robert Eggers

Screenplay: Robert Eggers

Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke; Editing: Louise Ford

Production Design: Craig Lathrop; Set Decoration: Mary Kirkland

Costumes: Linda Muir; Score: Mark Korven

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy (Thomasin), Ralph Ineson (William), Kate Dickie (Katherine), Harvey Scrimshaw (Caleb), Ellie Grainger (Mercy), Lucas Dawson (Jonas), Bathsheba Garnett (The Witch), Sarah Stephens (Young Witch), Julian Richings (Governor), Wahab Chaudhry (Voice of Black Phillip)

A true sleeper creeper, promos state The Witch is like watching something we shouldn’t be seeing, but see it for goodness sake! Having kept a low profile, the appeal of this movie should spread by word of mouth, the same way witch hunting hysteria did back in the day. One of the few horror films of recent vintage to genuinely unnerve viewers had to reach all the way back to the foundations of the country to find its scares.

Continue reading

Bridge of Spies

bos-posterTouchstone (2015) 142 min. PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

Screenplay: Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen

Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski; Editing: Michael Kahn; Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo & Bernhard Henrich; Costumes: Kasia Walicka-Maimone; Score: Thomas Newman

Stars: Tom Hanks (James B. Donovan), Mark Rylance (Rudolf Abel), Amy Ryan (Mary Donovan), Sebastian Koch (Wolfgang Vogel), Alan Alda (Thomas Watters), Austin Stowell (Francis Gary Powers), Scott Shepherd (Hoffman), Dakin Matthews (Judge Byers), Billy Magnussen (Doug Forrester), Will Rogers (Frederic Pryor), Mikhail Gorevoy (Ivan Schischkin), Jesse Plemons (Joe Murphy)

At the height of the Cold War, insurance lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is assigned the case of Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet spy apprehended in the act of espionage. Though he’s pressured not to put together much of a defense, Donovan believes not to do so would be unethical. Arguing for imprisonment rather than execution, he convinces the feds Abel could be used as a bargaining chip with the USSR at some point in the future. Not long after, U-2 spy Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down and another American, college student Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) apprehended on the East German side of the Berlin Wall. Asked by his country to intercede on America’s behalf, Donovan attempts to negotiate an exchange of prisoners.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The Imitation Game

igWeinstein Co. (2014) 114 min. PG-13

Director: Morten Tyldum Screenplay: Graham Moore; based on novel Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

Cinematography: Óscar Faura; Editing: William Goldenberg

Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald

Costumes: Sammy Sheldon Differ; Score: Alexandre Desplat

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing), Keira Knightley (Joan Clarke), Matthew Goode (Hugh Alexander), Mark Strong (Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies), Charles Dance (Cdr. Alastair Denniston), Allen Leech (John Cairncross), Matthew Beard (Peter Hilton), Rory Kinnear (Det. Nock), Alex Lawther (Young Turing), Jack Bannon (Christopher Morcom)

This British tale of Alan Turing, the English mathematician who masterminded a way to crack the WWII German encryption device known as Enigma, laying the groundwork for the modern fields of computer science and digital technology, is an intriguing story that’s been begging to be told and was, at least once before, in the far more fictionalized Enigma (2000). This version, based on the Andrew Hodges biography Alan Turing: The Enigma is slightly more faithful to the facts, but has still been criticized for its historical inaccuracies.

Continue reading

Howards End

he poster

Sony Classics (1992) 140 min. PG

Director: James Ivory

Screenplay: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala; based on novel by E.M. Forster

Cinematography: Tony Pierce-Roberts; Editing: Andrew Marcus

Production Design: Luciana Arrighi; Set Decoration: Ian Whittaker

Costumes: Jenny Beavan & John Bright; Score: Richard Robbins

Stars: Anthony Hopkins (Henry Wilcox), Vanessa Redgrave (Ruth Wilcox), Helena Bonham Carter (Helen Schlegel), Emma Thompson (Margaret Schlegel), Samuel West (Leonard Bast), James Wilby (Charles Wilcox), Nicola Duffett (Jacky Bast), Barbara Hicks (Miss Avery), Prunella Scales (Aunt Juley)

Merchant Ivory’s moody 1992 masterpiece is an intensely observed examination of intersecting classes in an Edwardian England poised on the cusp of change. The comfortably situated, middle class Schlegel sisters, Margaret (Emma Thompson) and Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) are emancipated women at a time when equal rights were becoming the new fashion. However they find themselves in increasing conflict with an influential, upper class family headed by conservative Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins), who will contest their claim to Howards End, the country estate bequeathed to Margaret by Henry’s first wife, Ruth (Vanessa Redgrave). Taken from E.M. Forster’s carefully plotted novel by longtime Merchant Ivory scenarist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, this erudite literary adaptation retains the compulsive fascination of a well spun yarn.

Continue reading

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

The Woman in Black

Momentum Pict./CBS Films (2012) 95 min. PG-13

Director: James Watkins

Screenplay: Jane Goldman; based on The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 

Cinematography: Tim Maurice-Jones; Editing: Jon Harris

Production Design: Kave Quinn; Set Decoration: Niamh Coulter

Costumes: Keith Madden

Score: Marco Beltrami

Stars: Daniel Radcliffe (Arthur Kipps), Ciarán Hinds (Sam Daily), Janet McTeer (Mrs. Daily), Liz White (Jennet), Sophie Stuckey (Stella Kipps), Misha Handley (Joseph Kipps), Jessica Raine (Nanny)

Standard-issue spook fare that never amounts to much but is still promisingly atmospheric in spots, distinguished by its unusual, turn of the century setting. Many horror movies are set in old dark houses, few on the other hand are set in the old, dark superstitious past itself which is odd since, for all our Amityville Horrors, I imagine most people still tend to psychologically associate ghosts and haunted houses with the Victorian past. The primary distinction of The Woman in Black lies in its being placed in that transitory time-frame when the horse and buggy era was making way for the mechanized age of the automobile. Continue reading