Tag Archives: Jonathan Pryce

Taboo Season 1 (2017) Review

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Taboo Season 1

Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as James Keziah Delaney
Leo Bill as Benjamin Wilton
Jessie Buckley as Lorna Delaney
Oona Chaplin as Zilpha Geary
Stephen Graham as Atticus
Jefferson Hall as Thorne Geary
David Hayman as Brace
Edward Hogg as Michael Godfrey
Franka Potente as Helga von Hinten
Michael Kelly as Edgar Dumbarton
Tom Hollander as Dr George Cholmondeley
Marina Hands as Countess Musgrove
Jonathan Pryce as Sir Stuart Strange
Jason Watkins as Solomon Coop
Nicholas Woodeson as Robert Thoyt
Creator: Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy

James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) returns to 1814 London after 10 years in Africa to discover that he has been left a mysterious legacy by his father. Driven to wage war on those who have wronged him, Delaney finds himself in a fact-off against the East India Company, whilst playing a dangerous game between two warring nations, Britain and America.

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I knew about Taboo for some years, I just knew it as some period tv show with Tom Hardy in the lead role, that’s it though. Having watched a number of Hardy’s movies recently however, I thought that it would be the best time to Taboo’s first and currently only season. I eventually got around to it and I’m glad I did. Taboo may have its fair share of issues, but I really liked what I saw from this season.

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One of the biggest comparisons that has been made with this show was to Peaky Blinders, a show that Steven Knight also wrote and created. Both are period crime dramas that star Tom Hardy, but make no mistake, they are very different shows. While Peaky Blinders had its slower moments, it was much more entertaining, flashy and fast placed. Taboo is much more of a slow burn, and that’s probably the main thing that will turn some people off the show. If you intend on watching through all of Taboo going in, I highly recommend watching multiple episodes in each sitting. If you say only watch one episode a day, it more than likely feel like a drag to get through it all. I watched about 2-3 episodes a day and that worked for me. I won’t deny that it was quite slow to begin with, but the further you get into it, the more invested you become and the better it becomes. The second half in particular is better, with the last two episodes standing out the most. While the pacing doesn’t necessarily pick up, the plotlines become more interesting, it’s just that to begin with you’re not as into it just yet. There are 8 episodes in the first season of Taboo, each being an hour long, and I thought that was about the right length for this season. This show also is a little weird, mainly is that there is an element of magic when it comes to Tom Hardy’s character that’s quite present throughout the show, and he even has some visions at times. It doesn’t bother me particularly, but I thought it was worth pointing out, especially with such a gritty show like this that it’s a little stranger than it initially looks.

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Tom Hardy is front and centre for the vast majority, and Taboo is very much his show, in fact he’s the main reason most people even checked this show out. Hardy is reliant as an actor, and his work in this show is no exception. As protagonist James Delaney, Hardy has immense screen presence. Sure Delaney is yet another broody TV anti hero, cunning, ruthless and with a lot of issues, but he works exceptionally well for this show, mainly because of Tom Hardy’s work, especially with the fact that he actually is one of the creators of the show alongside his father and Steven Knight. While Hardy is fantastic as usual, the supporting cast deserve to be noted as well, even if some get more chances to shine than others. Among the highlights were Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Tom Hollander and Jonathan Pryce. Additionally, you have Stephen Graham and Mark Gattis who also work in their roles. The only character I thought was a little mishandled was that of James’s half-sister/lover played by Oona Chaplin, whose story arc was a little half baked and felt like a weak link compared to the rest of the storylines.

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Taboo is directed very well, with the first half by Kristoffer Nyholm and the second half by Anders Engstrom. The period of the 1810s is very well portrayed, from the costumes, the production design, all of it works, also excellently showcased through the cinematography by Mark Patten. Much of the show looks very muddy, grimy and dirty, and that perfectly is in line with the tone of the show. The show doesn’t feature that many scenes of violence (at least compared to the likes of Peaky Blinders), but the violence that occurs can be very brutal and gruesome, so it’s not really a show for the faint of heart. One other technical aspect of the show that is well worth noting is the great score by Max Richter, his themes really added a lot to the show and made already good scenes significantly better. It’s not surprising given that Richter is a really good composer, but this probably ranks among my favourite works of his.

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Taboo isn’t a show for everyone, it is slow, it is gruesome, it gets weird, it takes a while to really come into its own, and not everyone can really get into it. However, if you like dark movies/shows, or even if you just like Tom Hardy, I reckon that it’s worth checking out, at least watch the first 4 episodes. I have no idea whether Taboo is getting another season (with Steven Knight intending this to be a 3 season long series), apparently it is happening but for whatever reason it’s taking a very long time for it to release. As someone who liked the first season, I really want to see it happen. From the point that season 1 ended, it feels like the story of the show has only just started and I want to see where Knight is intending to take this story.

The Two Popes (2019) Review

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & content that may disturb
Cast:
Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis
Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI
Juan Minujín as Young Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Director: Fernando Meirelles

Behind Vatican walls, the conservative Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and the liberal future Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.

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The Two Popes at first didn’t sound particularly interesting to me, however I have heard some surprisingly good things about it, and I really like Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce as actors. Additionally, it was being released on Netflix, so I checked it out when it was released there and found myself pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

The screenwriter of this movie is Anthony McCarten, who has written a lot of standard (at best) biopics, with the likes of The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour, and Bohemian Rhapsody, so that doesn’t inspire the greatest confidence right out the gate. The Two Popes however is by far his best script, and it’s actually based off a play. Now to get this out of the way, there’s probably a lot of things in this movie that didn’t happen, just by doing some googling there are some things that don’t quite add up. However, I get the impression that much of what’s in this movie is meant to represent the two leads, especially the perspectives of the liberal vs conservative, and watching the two coming to an understanding. The script is rather well written, with some great dialogue, especially between the two leads. They also switch between languages quite often, from English, to Italian, to Polish, to German, and more. While a lot of people aren’t going to be interested in them ovie because it’s people talking about religion, it’s surprisingly a movie where non religious people (or even just people who aren’t interested in the topic of religion) can like and appreciate it. It is a dialogue driven movie, and if you aren’t on board with it in the first 30 minutes, you’re probably not going to like it very much. The movie is also surprisingly funny, and that certainly helped the movie a great deal, making it somewhat entertaining. A big part of the movie is about Pope Francis’s past, and some of the decisions and mistakes he’s made. This part is actually essential to the movie, but there’s a feeling that it really slows down and drags the movie a bit. I’m not sure how it should’ve been handled, but these sections needed probably should’ve been done a little differently.

Most people watching the movie are going in for Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, and indeed they are great in their roles as Pope Francis and Pope Benedict. Both seem to have represented their characters, as well as their bliefs quite well. Pryce particularly shines as Pope Francis (not just because he looks exactly like him back in 2012), he’s at the heart of the movie throughout, and indeed it’s his movie really.

Director Fernando Meirelles takes what could’ve been a very boring movie that would’ve been handled in a mediocre way, and actually does some surprising things with it. His direction is actually one of the first things you notice when the movie starts. It’s edited very well, and you notice it more than you’d initially think you would. The cinematography is mostly good, it’s a very well shot movie, and it’s got a great look to it throughout. The reason I say ‘mostly good’ however is the use of handheld cameras, like it was going for a documentary feel to it. While I at first liked the unconventional use of it, it became annoying and unnecessary at a point, and wished they would just put the cameras on a tripod or something.

The Two Popes was better than it looked like it would be at first. It’s directed quite well, the script is good, and the two leads in Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins shine. I wouldn’t say that it’s great, and there are some issues I had with it, but I think it’s worth checking out whenever you get a chance. If you have a Netflix account, set aside a couple hours for it whenever possible.

The Wife (2018) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & sexual references
Cast:
Glenn Close as Joan Castleman
Annie Starke as young Joan Castleman
Jonathan Pryce as Professor Joseph Castleman
Harry Lloyd as young Joseph Castleman
Christian Slater as Nathaniel Bone
Max Irons as David Castleman
Elizabeth McGovern as Elaine Mozell
Director: Björn Runge

Joan (Glenn Close) and Joe (Jonathan Pryce) remain complements after nearly 40 years of marriage. Where Joe is casual, Joan is elegant. Where Joe is vain, Joan is self-effacing. And where Joe enjoys his very public role as the great American novelist, Joan pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm and diplomacy into the private role of a great man’s wife. As Joe is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his acclaimed and prolific body of work, Joan starts to think about the shared compromises, secrets and betrayals.

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I hadn’t been looking forward to watching The Wife. It seemed like yet another one of those bland awards movies that only get attention because of one performance and the plot didn’t seem interesting in the slightest. Even the title was uninteresting. The only reason I watched The Wife honestly was because of the awards attention towards Glenn Close’s performance, and it was pretty much what I thought it would be. Not bad but nothing much more than above average, with the acting being really the only good part of the whole movie.

The Wife as a story just really wasn’t all that impressive. When I say that the trailer pretty much covers the extent of where the plot goes, I really mean it. I don’t mean it in as the trailer showed too much, it gives the basic idea of the movie (as it should) but the plot doesn’t really become much more than that. There are plenty of movies about a husband taking credit for the wife’s work (see Colette and Big Eyes) but The Wife seems to just be about that basic idea and nothing more. It has nothing else to offer, there is nothing different about this story from others to make it interesting. The third act is when it is when it picks up, because that’s when Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce directly address the issue and get into conflicts about it and we really get to see their dynamic and then it becomes interesting. While the idea is teased earlier on, the only time that the two characters deal with it head on is near the end of the movie. If it even started halfway through it would’ve kept my attention longer. Instead we have to wait for like 80 minutes of them beating around the bush. Even just the writing itself wasn’t all that great. The dialogue can be pretty on the nose and cliched, and some of the things that happen can be contrived and coincidental at times, an example involving a flight attendant on a plane earlier in the movie. On top of that, the story just wasn’t all that interesting and was rather dull. Again, picks up in the third act but throughout the rest of the movie I was completely uninvested. The script wasn’t terrible but was generally lacklustre until the third act.

The one thing that makes the movie better than average is the performances but I feel like even they feel somewhat held back by both the writing and direction. Their best acting moments mostly consist of them having ‘big acting moments’ (you know what I’m meaning), not that the acting is bad, it’s just that at times it feels like there are moments allocated for each actor to go really big with their acting. I’m not even sure if I’ve seen a movie with Glenn Close in it before (aside from Guardians of the Galaxy) but she was really good here. I don’t think she’s as spectacular as some people have been making her out to be and I have seen better lead actress performances last year, but she was still quite good. To be fair to her, she also does have some subtle acting moments as it builds up to the third act, and that third act is where she goes full force with her performance and just unleashes everything she has. Jonathan Pryce was also surprisingly great as the husband, given that when it came to this movie the only positive thing I heard about was relating to Glenn Close. Pryce also deserves some praise as well for his performance. Max Irons is decent enough as their son and Christian Slater is good as a biographer/journalist who is prying into the lives of the lead characters. Annie Starke (the daughter of Glenn Close by the way) and Harry Lloyd were also good as the younger versions of the lead characters.

Usually I don’t have much to say about the direction when it comes to these types of Oscar movies, usually it was competent enough and there’s not much to say about it. This time it’s different, not because it’s spectacular, quite the opposite really. Apparently Björn Runge has directed some things before, I’ve not seen his other work but his direction of The Wife is quite average really. Even with a script which isn’t great, it still could’ve been spiced things up to make it a little more interesting. There is no style whatsoever when it comes to the direction, it’s very blandly directed and all in all is rather subpar. The only thing I could say that was done well with regards to the technical elements was that the locations were pretty good.

The Wife doesn’t have much to offer outside of the performances. The direction is really bland and the writing doesn’t offer much of interest until the third act. It’s just the acting elevating things slightly, with Glenn Close of course having the spotlight. If you want to see what all the fuss about Glenn Close’s performance for awards season, then I guess you could watch The Wife. It’s not bad or anything, just not really that good either.