Tag Archives: Charlie Hunnam

Stephen Gaghan’s Abandon

Sometime an artists whose primary output is writing tries their hand at directing, with mixed results. In the case of Stephen Gaghan’s Abandon, the results are flat out miserable, all across the board when you consider that he wrote the thing too. Katie Holmes headlines the murky tale of a girl whose mysterious ex boyfriend (Charlie Hunnam) resurfaces to creep her out after disappearing years before. The film is steeped in darkly shot, choking scenes of mumbling gloom that I suppose were an attempt at atmosphere but just cloud perceptions and numb over any chance of tension or thrills. Holmes has always been a huge talent and she does her best here but you can only do so much with material this bad. Benjamin Bratt plays a hunky detective who gets a bit too involved in her case than he probably should, and ends up standing around looking confused most of the time. Hunnam, whose acting style has always irked me, tries to do the deep dark brooding bad boy thing here, and comes across as listless and bored, his motivations never made clear beyond lurking with vague intent. Just as an example of how humdrum it all is: Fred Ward plays Bratt’s superior officer and when he’s introduced in a dimly lit precinct, he’s literally just sitting on the floor against his desk, looking like he gave up with the script, tossed it in the dustbin and is waiting for them to yell cut so he can call his agent and finally get the next Remo Williams film underway instead of appearing in gothic Hallmark trash like this. It’s interesting because Gaghan showed great promise after this by directing the phenomenal Syriana, then subsequently waded back into the mires of mediocrity with his next feature, Gold. He’s uneven as a director, and this is the lowest point for him. The whole thing fits the title, really; it’s like they Abandoned any hope of making this half decent and just cloaked it in as much hollow, portentous energy they could muster up and hoped no one would notice that there’s no substance to back up the style. The ending is as empty as the rest of it, there’s no resolution, twist or aha moment, it just ends in thin air. Avoid.

-Nate Hill

Advertisements

Deadfall

Deadfall is a dangerously sexy, offbeat snowbound thriller with a gorgeous cast, wintry photography and a hard boiled noir edge that feels almost mythical at times. Despite an ending that doesn’t come close to wrapping up its multifaceted, emotionally dense story (someone shit the bed in the editing room), I still love it, it’s wonderfully atmospheric, using character and story to transport you into the narrative, while violence and action comes second but with no less of an impact. Eric Bana gives one scary knockout performance as Addison, a charismatic sociopath on the run with his sultry, damaged goods sister (Olivia Wilde) following a casino robbery that ended in bloodshed and a statewide manhunt. After their car gets spectacularly destroyed, they’re forced through the wilderness to a small county and try to evade encroaching law enforcement. At the same time, a troubled ex-prizefighter (Charlie Hunnam) is en route to the same county to spend the holidays with his estranged parents (Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson), and the paths of these ill fated characters inevitably collide in a blood soaked blizzard of cat and mouse games. Kate Mara is also fantastic as the daughter of an asshole local sheriff (Treat Williams) who thinks that women have no business carrying a badge. There’s a lot of plot threads and elements at play, most of which the film handles with adept fluidity, except for the very end where it seems like a scene or two is missing, I could have used a bit more resoluteness in Hunnam’s arc. The film overall is too good to nitpick, especially Eric Bana’s work, the dialogue written for him has a poetic, ponderous cadence. He really sinks into the role, casting a freaky, incestuous eye towards his sister and calmly, deliberately terrorizing anyone who gets in his way, including a mysterious First Nations man (Tom Jackson) who serves to represent the esoteric nature of the landscape clashing with the materialistic, hard edged criminal element trespassing on it, or at least that’s how I saw it. A near excellent film with more going on under the surface than the mounting blanket of snow suggests (I can’t resist the winter metaphors), plenty of thrills and conflict as well as a fine cast all doing great work.

-Nate Hill

“By the look of you, you haven’t come to bob for apples.” : Remembering Sword of the Valiant with Stephen Weeks by Kent Hill

Stephen Weeks interview

“How the hell do I relieve myself in this tin suit?”

Sword of the Valiant might come across as just another Cannon curiosity, especially for the uninitiated. For the casual observer it may simply look like another film in which another director managed to con Connery into yet another pair of strange/fancy duds?

sword of the valiant

But while Boorman managed to get Sean to into his Zardoz get-up, which for my money is more so in the strange/fancy category than SOTV, the film in total is both an elegant and joyful rendition of the days of Arthurian legend from my guest in this interview, Stephen Weeks.

sword_of_valiant_poster_01

Yes before Connery got to be the king himself in First Knight, before Clive Owen and way before Charlie Hunnam – in days of old, when knights were bold, there was the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which as I discovered, is not the film I know it to be. Turns out I’ve no seen it in all its glory…

Working with Cannon was by no means a cakewalk, as Stephen shall tell you. And the subsequent release of the picture was grossly mishandled. Thus, the world has really not experienced this movie as the filmmaker’s intended, and that was one of many intriguing tales proffered me by the eloquent Mr. Weeks.

cannon-ad-variety-june-16-1986

This was not his first rodeo, having made a version of the film some years earlier, Stephen saw this as an opportunity to expanded his canvas. Unfortunately for him and what no one knew, or knew well enough, at the time, was the grimy underbelly of the behemoth at the top which sat Golan and Globus.

val2

Despite these trappings, and now knowing what I know, I still love the movie and feel privileged to have been gifted an audience with its director, who not only informed and enlightened, but also entertained.

d230ec0c3eead7851b6ec672e0c33df3

Stephen Weeks is an impressive filmmaker and now is an accomplished author (please see the link to his work below). As a fan of his work and SOTV in particular, I enjoyed and hope you too shall enjoy, this little trip back into the mists of time – to a fantasy world, and a fantastic film…

 

 

Review: Gray’s ‘Lost City of Z’ is a visual feast for the ages.

First featured on The Movie Revue, contributing critic Brian Wallinger and editor Ben Cahlamer sit down to discuss James Gray’s astounding The Lost City of Z.

BEN CAHLAMER:  Brian, thanks for joining me today.

BRIAN WALLINGER:  It’s my pleasure, Ben.

BC:  Is it safe for me to say that you enjoyed Gray’s effort overall?

BW:  Yes.  This 2016 release, based on the 2009 novel is a taught and tense adventure set in the jungles of Brazil.  All throughout the film lays an undiscovered land where danger lurks around every corner.

BC:  I too found the story telling to be riveting and adventuresome, filled with stunning locations and brilliant technical achievements.  I especially liked the acting in the film.

BW:  Both Charlie Hunnam and Robert Patinson are the true stars of the film, executing clear and sharp performances.

BC:  Hunnam as Percey Fawcett, British officer-turned-explorer and Patinson as Henry Costin were stunning, especially Patinson, who just completely immersed himself in his role.  Hunnam has a commanding presence about him, but Gray kept him in check.  Both performances are extremely strong.  They are complimented by several smaller roles featuring Ian McDiarmid of Star Wars fame, Franco Nero, Angus Macfayden, who has been nothing short of brilliant in both John Wick films, Sienna Miller who plays Nina Fawcett, Percey’s faithful wife,  and Tom Holland as Jack Fawcett. What did you think of Gray’s directorial efforts?

BW:  The direction proves that Gray is not yet a truly masterful film maker, but he surely is on the path to greatness.  The film has an uneven balance in its run time and with the overall script.

BC:  I confess to not having seeing his previous directorial efforts, but I found his direction here to be top notch, especially for something that is so reflective of glorious epic adventure films and characters of the past, such as The Bridge on the River Kwai or even, Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I didn’t have an issue with the run time, and as a matter of fact, I found it to be necessary to tell the full story.  John Axelrod’s editing kept the film’s pacing even. I felt as if I was watching a younger version of Indiana Jones thanks to Hunnam’s acting, Gray’s direction and his screenplay, based on David Grann’s novel of the same name….

BW: …The story is based on actual events depicting several attempts at an expedition ultimately leading to an unsolved mystery.

BC:  Yes, indeed.  It was David Grann’s debut novel, based on his 2005 visit to the Kalapalo Tribe that set the stage for his novel and this film effort.  The level of detail in all of the characters is a combination of the entire production’s efforts.

BW:  You have hit the nail on the head, Ben.  There is a unique style and theme that pays homage to classic adventure films you mentioned: a form that has since gone unnoticed, yet through this film, finds a breath of new life.  I found the cinematography to be visually stunning, providing a sincere essence of the peril the characters faced.

BC:  YES!  Academy Award-winning Darius Khondji’s work here is astounding, and is a hallmark of this film.  His use of shadows and light are simply stunning.  I recently watched Fincher’s Se7en on a cinema screen and fell in love with Khondji’s work there too.  He is just a magician with light in any setting and I’m looking forward to seeing his work on the upcoming Okja.

BC:  Any other thoughts, Brian?

BW:  The film has several minor technical flaws but is so much fun and sincere to its convictions that I can forgive them.  I’m Recommending The Lost City of Z.

BC:  This film was stuck in development hell for a very long time at Paramount.  I’m really glad that it got picked up by Amazon and Bleecker Street.  Although its box office was not very strong, word-of-mouth should propel this film into the minds of many moviegoers.  I also am Recommending this film. Thank you for joining me today, Brian.

BW:  Thank you, Ben.