Tag Archives: Matthias Schoenaerts

The Drop (2014) Review

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The Drop

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski
Noomi Rapace as Nadia Dunn
James Gandolfini as Marvin “Cousin Marv” Stipler
Matthias Schoenaerts as Eric Deeds
Director: Michaël R. Roskam

Follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funnelling cash to local gangsters – “money drops” – in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost.

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I remember I once saw The Drop many years ago, and I remembered liking it back then. I didn’t remember much of it however, so I had been meaning to see it again. Watching it again I liked it even more, a gritty crime drama, well paced, written and directed, with a solid cast, that is rather underrated.

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The Drop is based off a Dennis Lehane short story called Animal Rescue, and he actually adapted his own novel for the big screen, to some great results. It’s a good story and script, with some very naturalistic and well written dialogue. Make no mistake, this is a character driven story. Despite it being a crime movie, it’s not really a thriller, it’s actually a bit of a slow burn but I don’t mean that in a bad way by any means. I was personally invested from beginning to end, but just so you know it’s not a very active movie, moving at a calm pace. There happens to be some storylines and aspects related to crime but it’s about characters first and foremost. There aren’t many moments of violence but when they are present, they’re quite sudden and shocking, and pack the punches that the movie intends them to be. The Drop is an hour and 45 minutes or so long, and that was about the right length of the movie. With it being a slow paced drama you’d think that it would be rushed or something, but ultimately it’s a tightly written movie with a well handled story overall.

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The cast are among the best part of The Drop, each of them were great in their respective roles. Tom Hardy gives quite possibly his most subtle performance of his career as a soft spoken bartender named Bob. I won’t reveal too much of the movie but for at least most of the movie, he’s very unassuming, simple and naïve, and he absolutely works wonders in this role. Hardy manages to convey so much with just his facial expressions and eyes it’s incredible. Also, if you just want to see a movie where Tom Hardy is taking care of a dog for under a couple of hours then The Drop is right up your alley. The supporting cast are all good too. Noomi Rapace was good in her part too, and she and Hardy shared convincing chemistry (although she was slightly underused). Notably, The Drop is the last performance from James Gandolfini before his untimely death, and he was really great in his final role. A naturalistic performance with a lot of presence, he too works especially well in the scenes with Hardy. Matthias Schoenaerts is also in a supporting role as someone who threatens Tom Hardy’s character, Schoenaerts’s character is really meant to be a minor antagonist towards Bob and as that works as an easy person to dislike.

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This is the only film I’ve seen from Michael R. Roskam, and he actually directed this movie quite well. The Drop has got quite a great look to it throughout, especially the use of colour. The score by Marco Beltrami is also really good.

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I’ve noticed that The Drop has been overlooked quite a bit, and really deserves a lot more attention than it has been receiving. It’s not a particularly fast paced movie, but instead it’s a slow burn and investing drama, with a well written story, topped off with great performances from Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini. It’s really worth a watch whenever you get a chance.

A Hidden Life (2019) Review

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A Hidden Life

Time: 174 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
August Diehl as Franz Jägerstätter
Valerie Pachner as Franziska Jägerstätter
Karin Neuhauser as Rosalia Jagerstatter
Michael Nyqvist as Bishop Joseph Fliesser
Jürgen Prochnow as Major Schlegel
Matthias Schoenaerts as Captain Herder
Bruno Ganz as Judge Lueben
Director: Terrence Malick

Based on real events, A Hidden Life is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War 2. When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner), and children, that keeps his spirit alive.

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A Hidden Life was a movie I was paying attention to for a while. Terrence Malick is a divisive filmmaker, but I’ve seen almost all of his movies (not gotten around to The New World yet) and I liked most of them. After Tree of Life which most people liked, Malick got a little more experimental and loose with his narrative, and not everyone has warmed to his next few movies. A Hidden Life however seemed to be a lot more focused and conventional in terms of story, and I was curious what he’d be doing with this movie, especially with one based on a true story. Having seen it, this might actually be one of Terrence Malick’s best movies.

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First thing to note is that A Hidden Life is nearly 3 hours long. While I really like Malick, I always get the feeling of his movies being stretched out, and this is indeed one of his longest movies. I will say that you do feel the runtime here and I wish this movie was trimmed down just a little bit (probably mainly some parts with the main character’s family in the second half as it begins to be a little repetitive, but otherwise the length didn’t bother me too much, I was pretty invested. It doesn’t do that thing where it meanders like Knight of Cups, Song to Song or To the Wonder, it seems pretty steady with its focus on the story. The story is deeply emotional and reflective, and unlike some of his other movies, there is a strong dramatic backbone throughout. It’s also thematically strong, about right and wrong, faith, and the like. Although it was a long experience, I really felt it was all worth it.

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The acting from everyone is good, but it’s the two main performances that are particularly incredible. That is of August Diehl who plays the main character, and Valerie Pachner as his wife. Both gives generally internalised but very emotional and believable performances, deserving of very high praise. I do think it’s worth noting that this film also features the final on-screen appearances of Bruno Ganz and Michael Nyqvist.

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Terrence Malick as usual directs beautifully. You do get the familiar Malickisms, the beautiful music, the shots following people, the usual editing, voiceovers, if you’ve seen his other movies, you know what to expect here. While his style isn’t for everyone, I liked it, and he’s done some great work here. While Malick films are typically shot by Emmanuel Lubezki, this time the cinematography is done by Jörg Widmer, and it’s a gorgeous looking movie, making great use of the locations and environment. Definitely among some of the best cinematography in a 2019 film. It’s such an intimate movie and not on such a large scale like some of Malick’s other movies, but it’s directed just as well. While some have called some of his most recent uses of voiceovers to be bordering on self parody, with A Hidden Life, it definitely has a strong purpose. The music by James Newton Howard is also great and works perfectly for the movie.

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A Hidden Life is an emotional, at times harrowing, yet beautiful and excellently well made film, and a stand out from 2019. A Hidden Life probably won’t work for those who haven’t seen a Terrence Malick movie before, or aren’t a fan of any of his movies. However to those who are, it’s really worth checking out.

Red Sparrow (2018) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, rape, cruelty and offensive language
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika Egorova
Joel Edgerton as Nate Nash
Matthias Schoenaerts as Ivan Vladimirovich Egorov
Charlotte Rampling as “Matron”
Mary-Louise Parker as Stephanie Boucher
Jeremy Irons as General Vladimir Andreievich Korchnoi
Ciarán Hinds as Colonel Zakharov
Joely Richardson as Nina Egorova
Bill Camp as Marty Gable
Director: Francis Lawrence

Prima ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) faces a bleak and uncertain future after she suffers an injury that ends her career. She soon turns to Sparrow School, a secret intelligence service that trains exceptional young people to use their minds and bodies as weapons. Egorova emerges as the most dangerous Sparrow after completing the sadistic training process. As she comes to terms with her new abilities, Dominika meets a CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) who tries to convince her that he is the only person she can trust.

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Red Sparrow is a movie I was aware of. It went through a lot of development, from Darren Aronofsky in talks to direct it, then David Fincher was in talks to direct with Rooney Mara to star in the lead role, before finally ending with Francis Lawrence set to direct and Jennifer Lawrence set to star in the lead role. Not going to lie, hearing the prospect of David Fincher directing a spy movie, only for Francis Lawrence to get the job let me down a little (no disrespect to Lawrence, he’s made some good movies). I still had interest in the film but I really didn’t know what to expect. Red Sparrow was actually better than I thought it would be. It had a riveting plot, was well directed and had some good performances, especially from Jennifer Lawrence.

Red Sparrow is based on the book of the same name by a retired CIA operative named Jason Matthews. However I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on any potential differences from the book. Red Sparrow is 2 hours and 20 minutes long and while it did really feel it’s length, the story really did have my interest. You have to know that this is a slower paced spy thriller, not a straight up action spy movie. There are plenty of twists and turns from start to finish and involved with every character. Whether or not said twists will hold up on a rewatch remains to be seen. The second half of Red Sparrow oddly seemed slower paced than the first half. Part of why this movie was so divisive is the hard R content, with the violence and sexual violence. While I can see why this turned a lot of people off, I felt that it was handled well, it was brutal enough and didn’t shy away from it, yet it wasn’t too over reliant or self indulgent on it. I think Francis Lawrence has shown himself to be at his best when he’s allowed to go into R rated territory, films like The Hunger Games, I am Legend and maybe even Constantine might be even better had he been allowed to go into those levels. The film ends with a possible set up for a sequel, I do hope that this ends up happening.

The cast all do well here. Jennifer Lawrence is the lead of Red Sparrow and this is one of her best performances yet. She really throws herself into this character who goes through a lot over the course of the movie and she gives it her all. Her Russian accent at time doesn’t always work and can slip out from time to time but it’s passable enough, and her performance aside from that is fantastic. Joel Edgerton was also really good in his role as a CIA operative who comes across Jennifer Lawrence’s character. Although Lawrence and Edgerton are great in Red Sparrow, I really didn’t buy their relationship, I could buy them working together but I never bought them actually falling in love with each other, and I know that’s what the movie was trying to show. It may well be that the writing for them wasn’t strong enough. Supporting actors like Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeremy Irons all play their roles well.

I was really impressed with Francis Lawrence’s direction here, on top of this movie being his best film, it’s the best direction of a movie I’ve seen from him. Red Sparrow looks visually great and is well put together. Also as I said earlier, the more intense scenes are handled quite well, with the right amount of brutality that’s needed. The score by James Newton Howard is also really good and adds to the movie.

Red Sparrow deserved more praise than it received. It’s really not for everyone, it is brutal and it is a long watch. But for me, the film is well directed, had my attention and had some really good performances, particularly from Jennifer Lawrence who is great here. I do hope we get a sequel and eventually a trilogy, adapting the 2 other books in the series. I’m not sure how different the first movie is from the first book but I’m sure that there’s a way to continue the series. Francis Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast and crew did a great job here and I’d love to see them return again to this series and these characters.

The Loft (2015) Review

The Loft

The Loft

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, Sexual Violence, Drug Use, Offensive Language and Sex Scenes
Cast:
Karl Urban as Vincent Stevens
James Marsden as Chris Vanowen
Wentworth Miller as Luke Seacord
Eric Stonestreet as Marty Landry
Matthias Schoenaerts as Philip Williams
Rhona Mitra as Allison Vanowen
Rachael Taylor as Ann Morris
Isabel Lucas as Sarah Deakins
Director: Erik Van Looy

For five men (Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts), the opportunity to share a penthouse in the city — in which to carry on extramarital affairs — is a dream come true, until the dead body of an unknown woman turns up. Realizing that her killer must be one of their group, the men are gripped by paranoia as each one suspects another. Friendships are tested, loyalties are questioned, and marriages crumble while fear and suspicion run rampant.

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The Loft had a good Hitchcockian premise and great cast with actors like Karl Urban and James Marsden being a part of the movie. The cast couldn’t however rise above the terrible material that they had to work with. The plot holes, the uninteresting story and just the overall script let every aspect of the film down. There are glimpses of a potentially good film at times but for the most part this movie fails on every level. The Loft isn’t one of the worst films I’ve ever seen but it is definitely a bad movie.

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Hands down the worst thing about this movie is the script. First of all: the characters, not only is there a lack of likable characters, the main characters are so despicable, and to make it worse, we’re supposed to care about what’s happening to them and it’s so hard to when we not only don’t care about them, we want bad things to happen to them. They aren’t even written that interestingly. Another problem is the pacing, it was so slow in many scenes of the movie. This film has a non-linear way of telling its story, flashing back to relevant parts that happened in the past, however these flashbacks are so long and the relevant information takes up only small parts of those flashbacks, so it just gets boring in these scenes. Also the film shoves so many plot twists, to the point where the film becomes so convoluted and doesn’t make sense. It’s one of those mystery stories that after watching it, you begin to notice plenty of plot holes and inconsistencies.

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This movie had a great cast with Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller and many others. I can tell that they are trying to give good performances and they have moments where they could show off their talent but they have horrible characterisation, dialogue and are playing completely unlikable characters, so they aren’t given much to work with. The blame shouldn’t really fall upon them.

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The direction is fine for the most part but there are times when the director makes it overly stylistic. Sometimes out of nowhere he uses awkward close ups, tilted camera angles and pans, for no reason at all. It felt really awkward and distracting but this only happened a few times and for the most part this film looked fine.

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The Loft had so much potential to be a great film with its premise and its talented cast but for whatever reason, that didn’t come across on screen. The script had so many plot holes, the pacing was off, just everything was let down by the script. The funny thing is that this movie is a remake of a Belgian film called Loft (2008) which was apparently great. Guess what both films had? The same director, Erik Van Looy. He did an American remake of his own film. It’s strange that A. he would remake his own movie, and B. he didn’t get it right. The Loft wasn’t an unbearable movie but I don’t think it’s worth watching.

The Danish Girl (2015) Review

Eddie Redmayne stars as Lili Elbe, in Tom Hooper’s THE DANISH GIRL, released by Focus Features. Credit: Focus Features

The Danish Girl

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Nudity and Sex Scenes
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener
Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener
Matthias Schoenaerts as Hans Axgil
Ben Whishaw as Henrik
Amber Heard as Ulla
Sebastian Koch as Dr. Warnekros
Director: Tom Hooper

After standing in as a female model for a painting by his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), Danish artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) becomes enamored with his feminine identity and begins living as a woman named Lili Elbe. Although their marriage becomes strained, Gerda stands by Lili as she explores her true self and eventually undergoes one of the world’s first gender-reassignment surgeries in the 1930s.

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Ever since the first image of Eddie Redmayne in this movie came out, I was intrigued. This sounded like an interesting movie, as well with Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander’s and Tom Hooper’s involvement. While it’s not great, I do think that The Danish Girl is worth seeing for its performances from its lead actors. The production design and direction of the scenes are still pretty good as well and the overall direction of the scenes from Hooper was decent. However its writing didn’t quite hold up, and unfortunately does bring down the movie a little bit from what it could’ve been.

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As I just mentioned, I felt that the writing was the weakest aspect of the movie. I don’t think it’s bad by any means and it gets the job done in moving the plot and characters along. I did hear that it was inaccurate from the original story but I don’t know of the original story. I will say that I thought that Redmayne’s change and how that affected his and Vikander’s relationship was handled well. But the writing did fall short of what it could’ve been. The movie despite being 2 hours long did feel like 2 hours and a half, I think it was stretched out a little too much. I also thought that the film really didn’t explore who these two characters actually were. After the seeing the movie I realised that apart from their place in the plot, I didn’t really know much of who they are. There was some emotional component that was missing from this movie, I can’t exactly determine what it is.

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Eddie Redmayne is again incredible and made up for his disastrous performance in Jupiter Ascending. I thought his transition and discovery was very believable, he manages to portray both Einar and ‘Lili’, and seemed totally different from one another, this must’ve been a very difficult role to pull off. The fact that when Eddie Redmayne is dressed up as a woman, actually looked like a woman helped, in fact he looked more out of place when he wasn’t dressed up as a woman, both physically and emotionally. Alicia Vikander is also great, she gets a lot to do in this movie as a wife seeing her husband slowly disappearing and coming to terms with his transformation. Although I felt that the characters didn’t have that much depth in terms of the writing, both Redmayne and Vikander made them seem like real people and elevated themselves above the material given.

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The production designs and value was great and I thought that it reflected the 1920s time period quite well. The soundtrack by Johann Johansson was also great. The scenes and the overall film were directed well by Tom Hooper, my problem is really not with his visual direction, it was the script that had the most problems.

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The Danish Girl isn’t that great of a movie and doesn’t hold up as well on its own. The writing could’ve been better, the pacing could’ve been handled better and the characters weren’t as well written as they should’ve. But it’s the performances from Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander that make the film worth watching. Sure the movie on the whole could’ve been better, especially with the writing, but the performances are good enough for me to recommend this movie.