Tag Archives: Olivia Williams

The Father (2021) Review

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The Father

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Anthony
Olivia Colman as Anne
Rufus Sewell as Paul
Imogen Poots as Laura
Mark Gatiss as The Man
Olivia Williams as The Woman
Director: Florian Zeller

A man (Anthony Hopkins) refuses all assistance from his daughter (Olivia Colman) as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

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The Father was a movie I had been hearing about for a long time, ever since it had its premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in 2020. It was about an old man with dementia that stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. On face value, The Father looked like textbook Oscar bait. It looked like a slow burn movie about old people that would no doubt have good performances from its Oscar winning actors, and from the subject matter did seem to fit into the category of misery porn. The marketing and the posters certainly didn’t help. However, from hearing some of the reactions, not only did some people declare Hopkins’s performance one of his best (if not his best), but there’s a lot of praise for the actual movie itself. So even before it received its Oscar nominations I was curious to check it out. I was lucky enough to watch it myself in the cinema and it ended up being fantastic.

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The Father is based off the director’s play, and you can sort of tell from the movie that it was based off a play, from the dialogue, to the contained nature of the story, to the placing of the scene in a singular location for the most part. However, this movie does things with that, which really elevates it and takes advantage of it (mostly to do with the direction). Much of the movie actually feels like a nightmare or horror movie even though at its core it is a drama. It plays from Hopkins’s perspective like a psychological thriller in slow motion, which as it turns out was an incredibly effective way of depicting something as disorienting and torturous as dementia. Hopkins is an unreliable narrator here, but unlike other movies, it isn’t used to make the movie more thrilling or exciting. The reveals and ‘twists’ aren’t just there to throw you off and confuse you, it’s also telling a story. It also easily could’ve just been misery porn, but it’s handled with a lot of genuine care and consideration. You really experience the events from the main character’s point of view, showing his disorientated confused point of view with outstanding effect. The story is sometimes circular and there are events that are similar to each other, we get lost in Anthony’s confusion along with him. For example, sometimes characters are represented by different actors, I won’t say much more than that. You are confused, but it’s not confusing in a bad way, we are trying to figure out who is who and what is happening along with him. It is heartbreaking and tragic to watch, but it isn’t just your standard story. It was quite creative because of how the movie tells its story. It isn’t just an exterior observation of a man’s life with dementia, but rather an interactive experience as the viewer feels everything he feels. Not only that, but we also see how dementia has an effect on the people around them. I never felt like the story was dragging for me, each scene and moment serves its importance. At the same time, it isn’t an easy movie to sit through, as you would expect given the subject matter. It is definitely a movie where you have to focus in on the details, this isn’t a movie that you should just have on in the background. It’s short at 97 minutes, but that’s the right length for the story I’d say.

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The acting is what the movie is getting the most recognition for, and for good reason. First of all, Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins has a long and remarkable acting career. Now in his 80s, he delivers what I consider to be his best performance yet. He’s phenomenal, breathtaking and heart-wrenching in the lead role. Despite being such a recognisable actor, his performance feels incredibly real. It would be easy for any actor to overplay his role given that he’s playing someone with dementia, but he is flat out pitch perfect from beginning to end. It might actually be one of the best performances I’ve seen. Hopkins is getting a lot of well-deserved acclaim, however it’s not just him who should be receiving praise for acting here. Olivia Colman as usual delivers an amazing performance as the daughter of Hopkins. She’s so incredibly believable as this realistic and empathetic character, as she’s trying to grapple with what her father is going through. Like Hopkins, she feels completely real, and really does convey what you would expect some people would go through and feel when watching loved ones go through dementia. Other actors like Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell and Olivia Williams provide some solid support work too.

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This movie is directed by Florian Zeller, and from looking at the premise and at the images, you would initially expect a very static and standard direction. However, it’s anything but that. As said previously, the movie puts you in the headspace of Hopkins, and the direction plays a large part in that. The editing, arrangement of the scenes and more, all of it is handled in a way that confuses us along with our protagonist. The music and sound mixing were incredibly effective too.

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The Father really does deserve all of the acclaim and awards attention it has been receiving. It’s a tragic and heartbreaking, yet unique, well-constructed and greatly made movie and portrayal of dementia. Even if you aren’t as into the movie or story as I was, the performances along make it worth watching, with Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman being absolutely tremendous (with Hopkins delivering some career best work here). It’s not a movie I want to revisit but it’s one I’m glad I saw, and I think it’s worth watching.

Hanna (2011) Review

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Hanna

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Saoirse Ronan as Hanna
Eric Bana as Erik Heller
Vicky Krieps as Johanna Zadek
Cate Blanchett as Marissa Wiegler
Tom Hollander as Isaacs
Olivia Williams as Rachel
Jason Flemyng as Sebastian
Director:  Joe Wright

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan), a 16-year-old raised to be the perfect assassin, is sent on a mission, which takes her across Europe. She is shadowed by an intelligence agent and her team.

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I only knew some things about Hanna going in. I knew it was an action thriller directed by Joe Wright and starred the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett. It turned out to be pretty good, and even way better than I thought it would be.

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As far as thrillers go, it works for what it is. At hour and 51 minutes long, it keeps you generally invested. The premise is very straightforward, character motivations are clear cut, and the plot is pretty simple, but at the same time makes Hanna difficult to categorize as is, because it presents us a coming of age tale in the form of revenge. A lot of the charm from Hanna and what makes it distinct as a movie drives from the fact that it feels like a fairy tale. There are a lot of fairy tale and adventure references and imagery throughout. When you take into consideration the symbol presented by a Grimm fairy tale that Hanna reads, it also shows a perfect reflection of the sort of the person that Hanna has grown up to become. It’s not just Hanna who helps to create the metaphorical fairy tale presented as a cat and mouse thriller, Cate Blanchett comes along the way to present a wicked witch sort of figure in the story. Fairy tale tributes aside, the movie is character focussed, especially with the lead character, and is less action orientated. I found that this worked for the film. Despite the familiarity of the actual plot, it isn’t unpredictable, and I was pretty riveted with the story. Hanna becomes a distinct morality tale, it’s a fairly straightforward narrative that manages to mix this, a coming of age story, and a road movie all at once while remaining an action film at heart. It has an odd mix of tones here but strangely it works without issue, while also playing out in a subversive manner. There’s a bit of an open ending, which sort of worked but it did feel abrupt.

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Saoirse Ronan is in the lead role as Hanna, and she’s once again good as to be expected. She carries much of her movie herself and is a step above the others in this cast. Having been trained to defend herself and growing up in an isolated environment, her character goes through an arc as she goes to different places. She manages to be convincingly ruthless and dangerous, while also being naïve and innocent. It really wouldn’t have worked as well without her. She also very believable in the action scenes. The rest of the supporting cast are good. Eric Bana is good in his screentime as Hanna’s father (who also trained her), and Cate Blanchett is very effective as the scene chewing main antagonist of the film, who is hunting Hanna down over the course of the movie. Tom Hollander is also solid as an eccentric assassin also hunting Hanna.

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Joe Wright has directed this quite well, he’s a more than capable filmmaker. This is his first and currently only action movie (having been known at this point for making costume and period dramas), and he did a good job on that front. The action is snappy, crisp and fast paced, with good choreography. The action isn’t glamourised either, it’s dark and brutal while being entertaining. The score from the Chemical Brothers works quite well too. The editing, chorography and pacing all work in Wright’s favour. He doesn’t particularly do anything to reinvent the genre, but it created a bizarre and distinct mix of tones that works well.

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Hanna is worth watching for sure, from Joe Wright’s great direction, to the simple yet subversive story and the performances, particularly Saoirse Ronan in the title role. As far as action movies go it’s not special, but it’s very well made, and it’s one of the more underrated action movies from the past 10 years.

Rushmore (1998) Review

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Rushmore

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains low level offensive language
Cast:
Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer
Bill Murray as Herman Blume
Olivia Williams as Rosemary Cross
Seymour Cassel as Bert Fischer
Brian Cox as Dr. Nelson Guggenheim
Mason Gamble as Dirk Calloway
Director: Wes Anderson

Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a student at Rushmore Academy, excels at everything except academics. He meets and falls in love with a teacher, Ms Cross (Olivia Williams), but later discovers that his mentor (Bill Murray) is also in love with her.

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I’ve heard about Rushmore for a while, all I knew about it was that Wes Anderson directed it (one of his earlier movies), Bill Murray was in it, and it was meant to be great. Having watched Bottle Rocket a day earlier, I found that movie to be a pretty good start for Anderson as a director, even though it performed poorly at the box office. However, his second film with Rushmore is definitely a step above his previous movie, which was really great all round.

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Rushmore is a coming of age movie, sometimes they can be hit or miss for me, but this film really worked for me, and this probably ranks among my favourites of the subgenre. The writing is truly great, and the script has been finely tuned to near perfection, with some exceptional dialogue. The movie is very funny and entertaining, yet it’s more deeper than it initially appears, even emotionally resonant. It’s also got a good range when it comes to its tone, with it bouncing between being comedic, pessimistic, hopeful, sad, and more, and it is all balanced quite well, never feeling like a mess at all. Like with Bottle Rocket, Anderson focuses his attention more onto his eccentric characters instead of the visual style, and it does work to some great effect here. The characters are particularly a shining point in the movie, quirky but quite endearing and memorable. At an hour and half long, Rushmore is paced extremely well, with never a dull moment.

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The cast are all great on their parts. Jason Schwartzmann shines incredibly well in the lead role of Max Fischer, and he portrayed this character pretty much perfectly, couldn’t have imagined anyone else in the role. Bill Murray was also a highlight, giving probably one of his best performances, and that’s saying a lot. Having seen him in some of his other major roles, by comparison he was rather quiet and understated here, he was fantastic. The pairing of Schwartzman and Murray was particularly great, and they contrast each other perfectly. This movie would start a long running collaboration between Murray and Wes Anderson, where he would be appearing in every single one of his movies from that point forward. Olivia Williams was also great in her part. Other cast members including Brian Cox play their parts well.

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After Bottle Rocket, Wes Anderson has definitely advanced as a filmmaker since that point. He’s definitely more confident in his direction here and starting really forming his own style. From the unique aesthetic, the transitions, the use of colours, the montages, and the soundtrack, all of it works greatly. At this point of his career he hasn’t reached the style that’s present in most of his later movies, he’s still evolving and honing it, and as I said earlier, there’s still more focus on the characters than the style. Another thing I can say is that it is unique while never feeling overbearing, and so if you want to get into some of Wes Anderson’s movies but worried that his more recent movies just won’t work for you because of his style being so different than what you’re used to, Rushmore would be a perfect place to start with his filmography. Back to that soundtrack, all of it was great, and each song choice was perfect.

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Rushmore is funny, sentimental, and very well written and directed by Wes Anderson. It’s quite entertaining and is greatly acted, particularly by Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. It is definitely worth watching for sure if you haven’t checked it out already, and I get the feeling I’m going to revisit this movie a number of times.

Sabotage (2014) Review

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Sabotage

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence, Drug Use, Offesnive Language and Sexual Material.
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as John “Breacher” Wharton
Sam Worthington as James “Monster” Murray
Mireille Enos as Lizzy Murray
Olivia Williams as Investigator Caroline Brentwood
Terrence Howard as Julius “Sugar” Edmonds
Joe Manganiello as Joe “Grinder” Phillips
Harold Perrineau as Investigator Darius Jackson
Martin Donovan as Floyd Demel
Max Martini as Tom “Pyro” Roberts
Josh Holloway as Eddie “Neck” Jordan
Director: David Ayer

A DEA special ops unit becomes involved in a large scale bust involving tens of millions of dollars. The bust becomes interesting when the group decides to take 10 million dollars for their own use. Things go sour when the money which was hidden turns out to be missing. The group eventually recovers from an internal investigation with another chance to salvage their reputation. But which organized drug group would forget about 10 million dollars? The bigger mystery is where did that money go?

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David Ayer is a filmmaker known for making great movies with his very realistic style. I was initially curious for Sabotage, it’s an action movie directed by David Ayer and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately Sabotage was a tremendous let down. It does have some decent action and Arnold Schwarzenegger does give a great performance, however the writing was pretty bad and didn’t really give much Ayer to work with.

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This film was co-written by Skip Woods who previously wrote Hitman, X-Men Origins Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard. I have a feeling that’s the reason for a lot of the flaws in the movie. The plot for Sabotage is quite convoluted and for a large portion it wasn’t moving fast enough and not a lot was happening. Also, according to David Ayer, the film was heavily cut by the studio in favour of having more of an action based film rather than a mystery thriller. The original cut of Sabotage was rumoured to be close to 3 hours. After hearing about that fact, it all makes sense. The only parts of the writing I liked was Arnold’s character and his past. Nearly all of the other characters are completely unlikable and annoying.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger actually gives one of the best performances of his career. He plays a much darker character and it shows that he can actually do quite well in dramas if he’s given the right character to work with. This is more than I can say for the other characters. Aside from Arnold, almost everyone else is completely unlikable, Olivia Williams was the only other person in this film that was likable. On top of that, only Arnold’s character is given any history, nothing is given about the rest of the team. So when a lot of these people are being killed off, I didn’t really feel much sympathy because that’s what I’ve been waiting to happen for a while.

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I liked the action but sometimes the hand held camera really didn’t work for me. This film, like Ayer’s other work (End of Watch and Fury) tries to have a realistic style. Sometimes in the movie it really does that and sometimes that’s effective. But the gruesome and over the top violence really felt out of place. I understand that violence can be bloody and gory but this was at an unbelievable level. There’s one death where a person is found nailed to the ceiling with blood dripping down. It was the cartel who did that and it’s hard to imagine them killing that person and then taking the time to nail him up there. It felt like a completely different movie and it got ridiculous at times.

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Sabotage for the most part is a dragging movie with unlikable characters and a plot that’s impossible to follow. It was Arnold and some of the action scenes that made me give this a slightly higher score than most people would give. Despite Sabotage, I still really excited for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, especially with the latest trailer out. As for Sabotage, this is David Ayer’s weakest work and it’s disappointing. It’s hard to see how this film with so much talent behind it could’ve ended up like this.