Tag Archives: Julianne Moore

Children of Men (2006) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and drug use
Cast:
Clive Owen as Theo Faron
Julianne Moore as Julian Taylor
Clare-Hope Ashitey as Kee
Michael Caine as Jasper Palmer
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Luke
Charlie Hunnam as Patric
Pam Ferris as Miriam
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

When infertility threatens mankind with extinction and the last child born has perished, a disillusioned bureaucrat (Clive Owen) becomes the unlikely champion in the fight for the survival of Earth’s population; He must face down his own demons and protect the planet’s last remaining hope from danger.

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I’ve been meaning to rewatch Children of Men for a while. I watched it years ago and I remember myself finding it to be good. As I was watching Alfonso Cuarón’s films recently however (Roma and Y Tu Mama Tambien), I had an urge to see this movie again, just to refresh it in my mind. I’m not quite sure why I wasn’t in love with this movie when I first saw it, but Children of Men is truly spectacular. As acclaimed as the movie is, I still feel like it isn’t as appreciated as much as it should be, it needs to be talked about a lot more.

I actually didn’t know of this until recently but Children of Men is based on a book of the same name. The writing here is excellent. They really created a unique dystopian concept and made it feel and seem so real. Unlike some other sci-fi movies, much of what happens here feels very plausible, making it a very timeless and relevant film today over a decade later. At the same time, they also deliver on creating a deep and emotional story, with very real, greatly written and fully realised characters. It takes less than 10 minutes to already invest you in this world. You feel a sense of dread throughout and the stakes are high, however it’s in a way that feels genuine and human. This film is under 2 hours long and from start to finish (at least on my rewatch) I was hanging onto every single moment. I’ll even admit that the last 20 minutes of the movie had me quite emotional, Children of Men is very powerful throughout but it is particularly in this portion.

As previously mentioned, all of the characters are very well written and memorable, and the cast are all great playing their respective roles. Clive Owen gives one of his all time best performances here, if not his best. Here he’s playing a reluctant hero character of sorts, forced into getting involved with a cause bigger than himself. We’ve seen this with lead characters many times before but with the writing and Owen’s fantastic performance, it just feels so real here. Julianne Moore is really good in the screentime that she gets. Clare-Hope Ashitey is also really great as the only woman in the world who isn’t infertile and is currently pregnant, holding possibly humanity’s last remaining hope for survival. It’s also fun watching Michael Caine as a hippie character of sorts, and he too does add to the movie quite a bit. The rest of the supporting cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor and Charlie Hunnam also are great in their roles.

Alfonso Cuarón as usual directs incredibly well, and this is probably his best film to date. The story and setting already feels very plausible but add upon the fantastic production design and it really feels timeless. His work with cinematographer Emmanuelle Lubezki was spectacular, there are so many phenomenal cinematic moments, most of them featuring long tracking shots, that you just wonder how exactly they managed to shoot it. A famous example being in the first quarter of the film, featuring a very long tracking shot that takes place in a car. Another example is a very long shot following Clive Owen for a very long time towards the end of the movie, really all of it is amazing filmmaking, it’s overwhelming at times.

Children of Men isn’t just one of the best science fiction films released, it’s one of the greatest films of the 21st Century. I’m not sure why it didn’t receive more awards attention, because it really deserves it. Everything here is perfect, the characters and cast, the fully realised story and world, and the fantastic direction by Alfonso Cuarón. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure that you see it as soon as possible, it’s a masterpiece.

Psycho (1998) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates
Anne Heche as Marion Crane
Julianne Moore as Lila Crane
Viggo Mortensen as Sam Loomis
William H. Macy as Milton Arbogast
Director: Gus van Sant

Marion Crane (Anne Heche) steals a lot of cash from a man whom her boss is in business with. On the way to see her boyfriend (Viggo Mortensen), she stops off by an old motel, run by the odd Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn). She is murdered in the shower. Her sister (Julianne Moore), boyfriend, and a private investigator (William H. Macy) try to find out where she is, while we learn more about Norman Bates.

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Remakes of movies generally are a bad idea, remakes of classics are often a terrible idea. There really was no reason to remake Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, it was such an iconic film that changed film forever. With that said, when it comes to remakes, if they can find a way to make some change to make it stand out from the original, it could be something. I think one of the worst sins for a remake to do is to stay too close to the original, so that there was no point for said remake to happen in the first place. Gus van Sant’s Psycho did something worse however, it wasn’t just too close to the original, it was literally a shot by shot remake. Aside from some two good performances, this remake really has nothing to offer that the original didn’t already have.

This movie literally a shot by shot remake by Psycho. If you’ve seen the original, there’s nothing interesting you’ll find here. The only difference is that its done much more poorly. Honestly there’s really nothing to say about the writing, the structure and scene order is the same, the dialogue is the same, the characters are the same, it does absolutely nothing new with the material. Even a different portrayal on some of the characters would’ve been somewhat interesting but nothing like that is present.

Vince Vaughn despite most of his performances, is a talented actor and I respect him for going against type but he really didn’t work here as Norman Bates. While he certainly pulls off being crazy, there is no subtlety to his performance at all and just becomes laughable, especially when compared to Anthony Perkins’s performance in the original. Anne Heche plays Marion Crane and she’s not that great, to be fair to her all the direction she’s given is to pretty much just act like Janet Leigh in the original Psycho, so I don’t blame her or really anyone who acted in this movie. The best part about this movie is Julianne Moore and Viggo Mortensen, they were actually quite good in their roles, maybe even slightly better than the actors in the original. Other performances from actors like William H. Macy were fine but really nothing special.

Gus van Sant is a talented director but none of his talents shown in his other films are apparent here. Again, the entire film is just a recreation of the original movie and there’s nothing that great. It feels like a bunch of film students tried to recreate the original movie in colour instead of an established director. The original had some degree of tension, there is no tension whatsoever here. The recreations of some sequences like the shower killing sequence can be absolutely laughable at times because of how poorly done they were. The shower scene was particularly weird because during it, it was cutting to random things like clouds. Another thing worth noting is that this movie is in colour, this really took away from the tension. Ironically for the major issue of the movie being the lack of new creative decisions, the distinct changes from the original actually works against the remake.

There’s really no point in watching the remake of Psycho. The original is much better and the remake is pretty much just the original, just done poorly. Sometimes there can be some unintentional comedy with how poorly the recreations can be, and Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore were actually quite good in their roles (maybe even slightly better than the original) but that’s it. I guess if you’re curious enough check it out but you should watch the superior original film first, then again I don’t exactly know why you would want to watch the remake afterwards.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Review

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language, drug use & sex scenes
Cast
Colin Firth as Harry Hart/Galahad
Julianne Moore as Poppy Adams
Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin/Galahad
Mark Strong as Merlin
Halle Berry as Ginger
Elton John as himself
Channing Tatum as Tequila
Jeff Bridges as Champagne “Champ”
Pedro Pascal as Whiskey
Edward Holcroft as Charles “Charlie” Hesketh
Director: Matthew Vaughn

With their headquarters destroyed and the world held hostage, members of Kingsman find new allies when they discover a spy organization in the United States known as Statesman. In an adventure that tests their strength and wits, the elite secret agents from both sides of the pond band together to battle a ruthless enemy and save the day, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy (Taron Egerton).

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. I’m a huge fan of the original Kingsman, it was fun, violent, different, and was well executed by director Matthew Vaughn. With the sequel introducing the American equivalent of the Kingsman (Statesman) and including some top notch actors, of course I was excited to see it. Having finally seen it I can say that I liked The Golden Circle… but I was slightly disappointed. On its own, it is a fun movie with actors having a lot of fun in their roles and some entertaining action sequences. However, there were some odd choices made with story and character, and at times is a little too over the top for its own good.

I was consistently entertained throughout the 2 hours and 20 minute runningtime of The Golden Circle, I was interested in the plot or entertained in what was going on. This movie does have one of my concerns in the lead up to its release, which was that it would feel a little too much like the original Kingsman. Not that its bad, if it aint broke don’t fix it, its just that I would’ve liked some more differences. There were some differences that were for the worst. The original Kingsman was both good at poking fun at the spy genre, while still being its own thing. The sequel however falls into self parody at times, going so over the top that its borderline Austin Powers territory, and not necessarily in a good way. There is also a sequence with Poppy Delevingne’s character which was just completely random and pointless, and it is definitely the worst part of the whole movie. Think of Kingsman 2 as being Kingsman, just not done as great. However, I almost have to give credit to Matthew Vaughn ‘s willingness just go out there and make whatever he wanted to do, despite how bonkers it can get. Silliness aside I didn’t have too many problems with the plot, there were some decisions with some of the characters that were rather questionable however (and I can’t go into that too much because that’s spoiler territory).

Taron Egerton returns once again as Eggsy, who’s now a Kingsman agent. Taron is flawlessly charismatic and likable as ever. Usually I wouldn’t mention this up because it may be a spoiler but since the marketing seemed to show it, so I guess we can talk about Colin Firth returning. As usual, Firth is effortless as Harry Hart in both his action and non action scenes. I’m not a fan of characters in big franchises being brought back from the dead, but I have to admit it’s nice seeing Colin again. Also, the explanation for Harry returning is fairly good. Mark Strong also returns as Merlin, getting even more to work with than in the original.

One of the reasons I was so hyped for Kingsman 2 was the talented actors involved with Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal. I wouldn’t say that they are used to their fullest potential in this movie but they do very well to leave an impression in their scenes. Don’t let their talent fool you, in the film they are very much supporting characters, some only appearing in a few scenes. With that said, apparently the original running time of The Golden Circle was 3 hours and 40 minutes, so who knows, maybe they originally had bigger parts to play. The standout of the newer cast to me was Pedro Pascal, there is something that they do with his character at a point though which still kind of irks me. I also think Sophie Cookson’s Roxy (who was in the original Kingsman) should’ve been used a lot more. Julianne Moore is the villain as Poppy Adams, a drug lord. Moore is a fantastic actress but for whatever reason, her character really didn’t do anything for me. Samuel L. Jackson’s villain in the original film was silly and not threatening but he actually seemed to work for the movie. Moore’s character… not so much. She was crazy while acting all sweet and I get that’s what they were going for, but she didn’t really leave an impression on me at all. I didn’t find her entertaining or interesting, not to mention Poppy has some very weak motivations. Moore definitely did as well as she could with the role and she looked like she was having some fun, but overall her villain felt quite underwhelming, though I wouldn’t call her bad. Also Elton John is in this movie, I am feeling quite mixed about him. At times he was fine and even funny, but at times he was given way too much screentime and became just rather distracting.

Matthew Vaughn’s direction and style really worked in the original Kingsman and he thankfully returns here, in fact its his first attempt at a sequel. The action like in the previous Kingsman was pretty good and entertaining. The action with Pedro Pascal’s Agent Whiskey character is particularly great, including a scene in a bar. If you remember from the original Kingsman, there was this sort of hypercam that was used in the church scene. Well it appears here many times, and it really wasn’t always utilized the best. A good example is the opening action sequence, the action is good but the way it was filmed was rather distracting. It wasn’t terrible but it did take me out of the movie a bit. The CGI like in the original Kingsman is a little fake at times. The score from Henry Jackman like in the original Kingsman was great.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not as good as the original. It’s decent, has some good performances, its enjoyable if silly but it has some issues with regards to the plot and some of the characters. However it is so much fun to watch that I’m willing to overlook some of the issues. If you don’t like the original Kingsman, I don’t see this one being any different for you. For everyone else, give it a go and see it for yourself whether it does it for you, I know it did it for me. I’m perfectly willing to give Kingsman 3 a shot, despite some issues in this instalment of the surprise franchise.

Hannibal (2001) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling
Gary Oldman as Mason Verger
Ray Liotta as Paul Krendler
Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
Giancarlo Giannini as Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi
Director: Ridley Scott

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) escaped from custody. The doctor is now at large in Europe. Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) remembers Lecter too, and is obsessed with revenge. Verger was Dr. Lecter’s sixth victim, and though horribly disfigured, has survived. Verger realizes that to draw the doctor into the open, he must use someone as bait: Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore).

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On paper, Hannibal looked like it would be something fantastic. Everything looked great, it’s a sequel to the iconic Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and many other talented actors are involved and Ridley Scott is directing. It’s a shame really, since despite all that this movie didn’t turn out all that great. It’s not bad and it does have a lot of good elements to it but it could’ve and should’ve been a lot better.

I haven’t read Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal, so I don’t know how much they changed from the original source material aside from them removing one character and changing the ending. All I can comment on is what is in this movie, and I have to say that sadly, the story and writing for Hannibal was rather underwhelming and messy. The scenes with Clarice and Hannibal’s perspectives each feel like they are in completely different movies, and felt out of place whenever the film changes locations. I found the plot to move a little slow, it wasn’t boring but at times it was close to being that. It wasn’t as captivating as some of the other Hannibal movies. Another issue I had was the way they decided to portray Hannibal. I’ll get into detail later about what I mean, but to sum it up, he’s no longer unique, he becomes a typical over the top serial killer. Sure, we get more focus on Hannibal as a main character instead of being a supporting player, but he’s ironically less compelling in this movie despite that. As mentioned earlier, the movie does change the ending from the book, some will like it, others won’t. As someone who doesn’t like the direction that the book ending took, I liked the movie ending more, the book ending wouldn’t have worked at all for the movie with the way they decided to depict certain aspects (no spoilers).

Jodie Foster unfortunately didn’t return for this movie (for whatever reason) so Julianne Moore instead plays Clarice Starling and she does a really good job in her place. I get the feeling that her part wasn’t written as well as it should’ve (Clarice really doesn’t get to do anything until later in the movie) but Moore definitely added a lot to the role. The most stand out performance to me however was Gary Oldman as Mason Verger, who once again is incredible in another unrecognisable role. The makeup on him really was great and enhanced his performance. He’s completely covered in this makeup and looks nothing like himself but the way he acts and speaks made his performance really work. Giancarlo Giannini is also good in his role. Ray Liotta is a great actor but he was just annoying when he was on screen, I wouldn’t blame him though, his character really was the problem and he just acted what was given to him.

Now there’s one major performance that I’ve held off talking about, and that is Anthony Hopkins as the titual character. Hopkins was great in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon but here… he wasn’t that great. While he felt unique in both of those films, he was incredibly hammy in this movie, going quite over the top and seeming more like a parody of Hannibal than actually Hannibal Lecter. It is often hard to take him seriously at points. The relationship between Clarice and Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs worked well but here it’s typical laughable serial killer obsession kind of stuff, it’s almost sexual and is just sort of weird rather than being captivating. It’s sad that Hannibal ironically is one of the biggest flaws in Hannibal. Not to say that Hopkins/Hannibal don’t have any good moments in the movie, but most of the time he wasn’t that great.

The direction by Ridley Scott is really good and one of the highlights of the movie. Something consistent throughout all of the Hannibal movies, no matter how good or bad they are, is that they all look beautiful. Hannibal is no exception, this film looks really good especially when the film is Italy. If there’s an aspect of the direction which wasn’t handled that well it was the violence. It’s not necessarily the level of violence (as the Hannibal show has even more violent moments but yet have executed those sequences excellently) but it’s how it’s presented. A good example is a scene involving a brain in the last act. It was so cartoonishly violent that I just found it funny rather than terrifying and horrific. A lot of the moments of violence just feel rather forced and over the top, though to be fair, I can’t blame Scott for the way these scenes turned out here. The scenes that they are adapting from the book aren’t easy to portray on screen without going too over the top and violent or too tame. Even Jonathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs) decided not to return to direct this movie because he found the Hannibal novel too violent and unadaptable. So I give Ridley credit for at least trying. It is nevertheless something that really stands out as an issue with the movie. The music by Hans Zimmer is great as usual, and works very well in the movie. This movie’s atmosphere is also great, and the soundtrack played a part in that as well.

Overall the movie is a mixed bag. The story itself was a bit messy and unfocused and it wasn’t as interesting, and it goes way too over the top at times. Even Anthony Hopkins was hammy and unfortunately rather silly, difficult to take seriously. Despite all that, the movie still has some really good stuff. The acting from most of the actors (Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Giancarlo Giannini) is great, the direction from Ridley Scott is solid, so this movie is not without some high quality aspects. Hannibal is an okay film overall. If you liked the other Hannibal movies I recommend at least giving it a look, but don’t expect anything on the level of Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon.

Carrie (2013) Review

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Carrie (2013)

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]Violence, Horror, Offensive Language and Sexual Themes
Cast:
Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie White
Judy Greer as Miss Desjardin
Portia Doubleday as Chris Hargensen
Alex Russell as Billy Nolan
Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell
Julianne Moore as Margaret White
Director: Kimberly Peirce

High school can be tough for many teenagers, but for Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz), it’s especially hellish. A shy and awkward teen being raised by a religious zealot (Julianne Moore), Carrie is frequently the target of bullies. But Carrie has a secret talent: She can make things move with her mind. One fateful night, an especially cruel prank at her senior prom pushes her over the edge, and Carrie unleashes her telekinetic powers on all who get in her way.

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If you’ve read my review on the 1976 Carrie, you know that I wasn’t a big fan of it. Everything seemed dated so I was interested in what they were going to do with the remake. People seem to find this 2013 film to be a bad remake. Although I don’t think it’s that far off from the original, I will say that it is bad remake in that it’s pretty much the same movie. It barely improves much over the original and was pretty much pointless being created.

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If you watched the original movie then there’s no reason to watch the remake. Pretty much everything is the same, all the plot points are the same and everything is going in the same direction with barely any changes. Another thing to note is that the plot moves a lot faster, I don’t really know how to feel about it. On one hand the plot is moving faster than the original so I’m not as bored but on the other, it feels watered down and empty. The plot for me is as flawed as the original film.

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Chloe Grace Moretz did a pretty good job as Carrie, however I felt that she didn’t feel socially awkward enough. She seemed a little shy but that was it, Sissy Spacek managed to actually make Carrie different from others around her. I think it’s more likely the fault of the direction than her performance however. The best part of this movie is Julianne Moore, who did much better as the mother over the original. Piper Laurie’s performance was very over the top and at times laughable. Moore however actually gives a pretty scary performance and the film also handled her much better. The bullies are as one dimensional as they were in the original, however they are somehow worse. That’s probably because the film felt very Hollywoodized, which probably led to these cliché bullies which are somehow lazier put together.

Julianne Moore takes on the problematic-parent in the remake — complete with long wild hair and a white nightgown reminiscent of Piper Laurie's in the original fil

This film definitely uses CGI more and when it is used for Carrie’s powers, there’s no subtlety whatsoever. The greatest disappointment for me is the prom scene. In this version there were too many special effects, it was over the top and it doesn’t feel the slightest bit threatening. The 1976 original had Carrie’s powers seem a little scary because of the subtlety used. Here, Carrie just seems like one of the X Men and there is no subtlety. It doesn’t help that some of the deaths were very Final Destination esque.

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I’m not going to act like the original Carrie is a masterpiece, just look at my review of it. However this remake commits probably the worst sin that a remake can commit, not have a lot of changes or improvements over the original. A lot of the elements are fine like Chloe Grace Moretz was decent and Julianne Moore was great in her role but other than that this remake feels completely pointless. It doesn’t improve on the flaws of the original, and aside from 1 or 2 good things, the film just generally feels mediocre. I feel like the story of Carrie isn’t a book that can be adapted that well, even though I liked the book I don’t think it makes good movie material. Overall this remake isn’t bad but it was a little forgettable.