Tag Archives: Dan Stevens

Her Smell (2019) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Cast:
Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something
Amber Heard as Zelda E. Zekiel
Cara Delevingne as Cassie
Dan Stevens as Danny Something
Agyness Deyn as Marielle Hell
Gayle Rankin as Ali van der Wolff
Ashley Benson as Roxie
Eric Stoltz as Howard Goodman
Virginia Madsen as Ania Adamcyzk
Dylan Gelula as Dottie O.Z.
Director: Alex Ross Perry

Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss) is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.

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I heard about this movie a little while ago, mainly the cast, the premise and that it was shown at the TIFF film festival and received some good reviews. Outside of that, I didn’t know what I was really in for. Her Smell is what I’ve heard people say it is, chaotic, grimy and hard to watch at times. However, it is still really good, led by a really great performance by Elisabeth Moss.

Much of the structure of this movie is quite similar to Steve Jobs, and apparently writer/director Alex Ross Perry had said that it really was an inspiration for the structure here. Her Smell is very dialogue based, focussing on 5 particular moments with main character Becky over the course of 10 years. Getting this out of the way, it’s not an easy movie to watch, the primary reason being the main character Becky herself, who is currently on a downward spiral. With this being a dialogue driven movie, the dialogue itself would need to be well written and it definitely was. As good as the writing and acting was, for a while I didn’t really know what I would think about the movie. However, it finally worked for me when it came around to the last third of the movie, the more uncomfortable aspects seems to go away and isn’t as in your face. It really showed a different side of the lead character, which improved the overall movie. The whole movie really was emotionally genuine and very well put together. I didn’t know this going in, but Her Smell really is a reverse rise and fall story, and in that it suceeds. You could also see the last third as like a reward for being able to endure the first two third of the movie. This movie is long at around 2 hours and 15 minutes long and you really feel the length, I feel like it was a little too long and it might’ve been better if 15 minutes or so were cut out.

I haven’t seen Elizabeth Moss in much, I’ve heard of her from Mad Men and The Handmaiden’s Tale but I haven’t seen them. After seeing Her Smell however, I can tell that she is very talented, because her performance here is truly amazing. This movie is really riding on her and she’s fantastic, very offputting at yet times, yet raw, complex and all around incredible. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the year this still ends up being one of the best performances of 2019. The supporting cast don’t get the focus that Moss does, but they still are quite good in their parts. Dan Stevens, Cara Delevingne, Amber Heard, Ashley Benson, Eric Stoltz and others may not be the focus of the movie, but they all do some really great work here and make themselves stand out even when Moss is the forefront of the whole movie.

This is the first film by Alex Ross Perry that I’ve seen, and he’s directed this film quite well. I’ve seen some people say that the way this movie looks is reminiscent of a Gaspar Noe film (without the extreme violence and sex of course) and I can see the comparisons, yet it’s done in a way that it feels like its own thing and not copying other films. It’s very close up and intimate with the characters, really making you feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable (at least for the first half), even when nothing extreme is going on. For a film focussing on a punk rocker, there isn’t a ton of focus on the music over the course of the movie, however when it’s there (whether it’s the soundtrack by Keegan Dewitt or the music that’s actually played), it is great and adds a lot to the movie.

Her Smell is not a movie that will work for everyone. For 2 thirds of the movie, it’s a very visceral experience and I can see how some people would find a large portion of the film to be obnoxious. However it’s a very well written and directed character study that works extremely well for what it is, and it all comes together at the end. I’d say that you should see it at the very least for Elizabeth Moss’s extraordinary performance, it really needs to be seen.

Apostle (2018) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Dan Stevens as Thomas Richardson
Michael Sheen as Malcolm Howe
Mark Lewis Jones as Quinn
Paul Higgins as Frank
Lucy Boynton as Andrea Howe
Bill Milner as Jeremy
Kristine Froseth as Ffion
Director: Gareth Evans

London, 1905. Prodigal son Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) has returned home, only to learn that his sister (Elen Rhys) is being held for ransom by a religious cult. Determined to get her back at any cost, Thomas travels to the idyllic island where the cult lives. As Thomas infiltrates the island’s community, he learns that the corruption of mainland society that they claim to reject has infested the cult’s ranks nonetheless – and uncovers a secret more evil than he could have imagined.

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I had been meaning to get around to Apostle for some time. I was aware that Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen but most of all that Gareth Evans, director of The Raid movies, would be taking on a horror movie. While I only saw the first Raid, it was such a solid action movie, and it would be interesting to see him doing a horror movie. While it’s not one of the best horror movies to come out in recent years, Apostle is still a really solid one.

The movie around 2 hours and 10 minutes long and it is a bit too long. On top of that the pacing, especially at the earlier parts of the movies, can be a little too slow. The decision to make this a slow burn kind of horror movie is respectable but in that first half there isn’t enough interesting things happening, the attempt of dissection of cults wasn’t deep enough, the characters don’t have enough to them and some plotlines aren’t all that interesting or necessary (especially one involving a romance even though that eventually pays off later in the movie). After a while though, Apostle picks up in the second half, had the entire movie been pretty much what happened the second half of the movie, I would’ve liked the movie a lot more. The finale makes it all worth it, with it being brutal and satisfying for the most part. I feel like the ending was a bit abrupt though, and could’ve been a little longer even though I was fine with the direction it was taking.

The acting all round was pretty good, even if the characterisation isn’t all that deep. Dan Stevens is good as the lead, I haven’t seen Stevens in much but he always seems to act differently in everything that he’s in, and Apostle is no exception. The whole thing about his character trying to find his sister was fine enough, but you don’t overly care about it, you just sort of go along with it. Michael Sheen was the standout of the movie performance-wise, as the lead prophet of the cult. Other performances like from Lucy Boynton were also very good.

As previously mentioned, Gareth Evans had directed The Raid movies, which were filled with some fantastic action scenes. Apostle however is very much not an action movie, there are only a few fight scenes in the movie, though all these fight scenes are great. Apostle primarily is a slow building horror movie, and Evans actually does pretty well with the horror aspect. I wasn’t really scared throughout the movie but there are some freaky imagery. Also this movie can be unflinchingly brutal, way more than you’d initially think it would be. The whole production design is good, you really feel just on this island isolated from the rest of the world.

Apostle is a solid horror movie that has some setbacks that work against. While it starts off being reasonably okay, it’s all worth the watch for the second half and especially with the climax (the movie really isn’t for the faint of heart though). It’s a brutal movie that doesn’t quite deliver as well as it was aiming to be, but it’s nonetheless pretty good. As far as Netflix movies go, this one is actually on the better end of the spectrum.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Emma Watson as Belle
Dan Stevens as The Prince/Beast
Luke Evans as Gaston
Kevin Kline as Maurice
Josh Gad as LeFou
Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza
Ian McKellen as Cogsworth
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts
Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette
Director: Bill Condon

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

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Although Beauty and the Beast was on my most anticipated films of 2017 list, it was a movie I was feeling mixed about. It had a lot of potential with it having a good cast. At the same time though, it’s yet another live action adaptation of a Disney movie, which feels like just another cash grab. Overall that’s pretty much what this movie is, it’s not necessarily a bad movie though. On the contrary actually, it’s a pretty decent movie. The acting and most of the execution worked really well. However some of the directional decisions made were rather questionable and took me out of the movie.

The story was good overall, I had no real problems with it. With that said, from what I can tell, this story follows the original story quite closely. So, I don’t take much issue with the story itself, it was some of the decisions made in delivering that story that I felt a little mixed about. I personally liked the second act the most (though again that’s most likely due to the directional decisions being the best).

The acting was generally good all around. Emma Watson did a pretty good job as Belle, I still saw her as Hermoine Granger as Belle, but she did well in her role. Dan Stevens was also really good. Most of the time he is under a lot of makeup and costume but yet is able to convey emotion underneath all that. Luke Evans was great as Gaston, it was a larger than life performance, it was very over the top, which it did take me out of the movie. But from what I can tell it is still less over the top than other versions of Gaston. I will say that Evans fully embraced the role. The standouts to me were Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan, they were voicing Lumiere and Cogsworth respectively and were quite entertaining.

I like most of the directional decisions made. The effects involving the Beast were very effective, I’m not sure how they did it, but they managed to make it so that Stevens could be able to express his emotions through it. The costume design was great overall. The CGI was effective for the most part, although some of the CGI in the last act was a little fake. I liked most of the musical number. Despite many of the directional decisions I liked, there were some very over the top elements that took me out of the movie, such as the opening Belle song and the last act. Now I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t tell if some of the decisions were to pay homage to the original film. But either way with some I just couldn’t get into it.

Beauty and the Beast was a pretty good movie overall, with the acting and most of the directional decisions made being decent. I did however have a lot of issues with some of the directional ideas chosen, these ideas really took me out of the movie. As I said, it was not necessary for this movie to exist, it’s yet another okay enough live action Disney adaptation. But despite it being unnecessary, I still think that overall I think it’s a decent movie and if you are a fan of the original film and are interested in seeing this version, see it. You’ll most likely like it a lot.