Tag Archives: Peter Sarsgaard

The Batman (2022) Review

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The Batman

Time: 175 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast:
Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Paul Dano as Riddler
Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon
John Turturro as Carmine Falcone
Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson
Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth
Colin Farrell as Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot/Penguin
Director: Matt Reeves

Batman ventures into Gotham City’s underworld when a sadistic killer leaves behind a trail of cryptic clues. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans become clear, he must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued the metropolis.

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The Batman has been one of my most anticipated movies ever since it was announced. I’m always interested in Batman movies, and I was particularly invested in this latest film’s development. It already had my attention with Matt Reeves directing, his work on the Planet of the Apes films showed him to be an amazing director, and that had me greatly confident in him taking on the Batman character. Then it had a fantastic cast including Jeffrey Wright and Paul Dano, but most of all it had Robert Pattinson, who’s next to helm the role of the iconic Batman character. The Batman was amazing and did not disappoint.

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The Batman is first and foremost a detective movie, taking inspiration from noirs and murder mysteries like Se7en. We’ve seen Batman doing detective work such as in The Dark Knight, but nothing quite like this. It is so committed to being a noir detective story, Batman looks through diaries, and files, searches evidence and decrypts riddles, and not just in a one off montage scene where he figures everything out instantly. There’s even narration from Batman throughout, it throws you into the noir ambience and makes it feel like a graphic novel brought to the big screen. On top of that, the detective work keeps you genuinely engaged. It is definitely a dark story, it constantly feels bleak and grungy, with scenes reminiscent of Zodiac, Se7en, and even Saw. At the same time, it is hopefully and inspirational by the end, and I love the journey that Batman goes on. Also, despite the darkness and grimness, there’s an element of embracing the goofiness that you just don’t see in most comic book movies (at least without the self-awareness and snark). There’s also a decent amount of comedy, whether that be Batman and Gordon’s interplay, some of Penguin’s lines, or the dark comedy of the Riddler. The script does an excellent job at balancing all these characters and plays its story at a steady pace, taking its time. It also helps that it feels self-contained and more concerned about being a movie over being an entry in a franchise. The first two acts are very much a detective story, but the third act does feel different as it gets larger scale and with much more action, but I still really enjoyed it, on top of being a satisfying conclusion to the story of Batman in the film. It is a very long movie at 3 hours, it potentially could’ve been trimmed, but if I had the choice to do so, I wouldn’t cut anything out. In terms of issues, there is a moment towards the end of the movie which did feel a little out of place compared to the rest of the movie, however I didn’t dislike it.

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The cast are great all round and fit their parts well. First and foremost is Robert Pattinson who plays Bruce Wayne/Batman. There was a split reaction to the casting, but as someone who’s seen some of his post Twilight movies like Good Time and The Lighthouse, I was greatly looking forward to his portrayal of the iconic character, and he did not disappoint. Pattinson here portrays a younger Batman, 2 years into his vigilante career. This is a Bruce Wayne who can’t balance Batman and Bruce, instead living as Batman most of the time and is otherwise is a recluse as Bruce. Many Batman live action stories have the whole “Batman is his true face” aspect but Pattinson’s leans into that the most. As a result, this is the most amount of time you’ll see Batman (not Bruce Wayne) on screen in a Batman movie. You could say that it is a minimalistic performance, but it is fitting for this version of the character, and Pattinson still conveys a lot, whether he’s playing Batman or Bruce. Pattinson accurately portrayed so much of the character, the torment and trauma of Wayne, as well as the physical presence and detective skills of Batman. I particularly loved Batman’s journey here and the arc he goes on, and Pattinson’s performance conveys that wonderfully.

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The rest of the cast are great too. Zoe Kravitz plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman and so far, she might be my favourite version of the character. It helps that this is the best written Selina Kyle yet and given layers and depth, and Kravitz also shares really good chemistry with Pattinson. Jeffrey Wright plays James Gordon, and is a very strong contender for the definitive version of the character. We’ve seen Gordon and Batman team up in the movies, but they have a full on buddy cop team up here, and I loved the dynamic that he and Batman have. Andy Serkis plays Alfred Pennyworth, he’s only in select scenes but makes memorable impressions in each of his scenes with Pattinson. I will say though that he doesn’t quite get enough screentime, and I would’ve liked to have seen more of him. I thought that the villains overall were effective. John Turturro was great as crime boss Carmine Falcone, quietly menacing in a rare villain role for him. Colin Farrell is an absolute scene stealer as The Penguin. He is unrecognisable both with the physical prosthetics put on him and his performance. He is entertaining and funny, and very reminiscent of a Italian gangster cartoon, while not becoming too silly. However, the main villain of the movie is Paul Dano as The Riddler. This is definitely one of the darker and more unsettling adaptations of the character, less the goofy Jim Carrey Riddler and is more of a serial killer here, even his costume is reminiscent of the Zodiac killer’s appearance. Dano gives one of the best comic book movie villain performances. He is genuinely scary, unstable and captivating, even when we don’t really get to see his face all that often. While the Riddler has often been considered a bit of a joke, I think this version will bring more respect to the character.

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I had confidence in director Matt Reeves and once again he has handled a blockbuster like this amazingly. Outside of occasional moments of using blur a bit too much, the cinematography from Greig Frasier is stunning, even giving it a comic booky look at times. The movie leans into the noir aspect, especially with the rain and darkness and I love that vibe. I really liked the representation of Gotham, especially with the production design and sets, helping to make the setting feel incredibly lived in. The Batman isn’t as focused on the action scenes compared to the other Batman movies but the action scenes are entertaining and well filmed, from the fight scenes to the car chases. There’s even some good horror elements with chilling imagery, especially with the Riddler, even some of his elaborate traps were very Saw-like. Another strong aspect is the phenomenal score by Michael Giacchino which is possibly his best work yet. It has a presence throughout and ranges from being dark and moody to uplifting and hopeful. It could very much be the definitive Batman theme, which is saying a lot.

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The Batman was phenomenal and incredibly satisfying. There’s a lot to take in from the 3 hours that I watched, but I loved it all. The whole cast were perfect in their roles, the direction from Matt Reeves is strong with a clear vision, and the overall it was an intriguing detective noire and a compelling Batman story. As someone who just about likes every version of Batman in film that I’ve seen, from Tim Burton’s films from the 80s to Zack Snyder’s from the past decade, I think this just be my overall favourite. It is a strong contender for the definitive Batman movie and the definitive Batman portrayal in Robert Pattinson.

The Lost Daughter (2021) Review

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The Lost Daughter

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Olivia Colman as Leda Caruso
Jessie Buckley as Young Leda Caruso
Dakota Johnson as Nina
Peter Sarsgaard as Professor Hardy
Ed Harris as Lyle
Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

A college professor (Olivia Colman) confronts her unsettling past after meeting a woman (Dakota Johnson) and her young daughter while on vacation in Italy. Her obsession with the woman and her daughter prompts memories of her early motherhood.

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The Lost Daughter is the third of the three movie tickets I secured as part of the NZIFF, and it’s one of my most anticipated movies of 2021. This would be Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut and would consist of a great cast including Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, and Ed Harris. I went in only really knowing the main premise, seeing a trailer, and hearing that some people had split reactions to it. I’m glad to say that I’m one of the people who really liked The Lost Daughter.

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The Lost Daughter is a bit of an unconventional movie, at least with its narrative. Essentially it follows Olivia Colman on a holiday in Greece, she meets a woman with a difficult child (played by Dakota Johnson) and that brings up her own motherhood with her two young girls portrayed in flashbacks (with the younger Colman played by Jessie Buckley). The film then jumps between past and present, revealing the regrets and reflections that Colman has. The plot definitely unravels in an unusual way but very much moves to its own rhythm and pace. It could’ve been a mess of a structure, but Maggie Gyllenhaal pulls it off, I was invested enough in the story and character to want to see and learn more. The Lost Daughter is essentially an unflinching character study following a woman thinking back on her life, and it’s also a look at motherhood which touches on the struggles of parenthood and the toll it takes on the parent. Additionally, it delves into themes like femininity and motherhood, and the feelings and regrets that come from being a mother. It’s not an easy movie to watch, I know that many viewers will struggle to stay following this protagonist with some of the things she does, and it’s a hard topic to cover (and one that a lot of people don’t like to think about). However Gyllenhaal pulls it off by remaining empathetic, not judging its characters, and handles its challenging views on motherhood with a lot of nuance. Its very honest, meditative and human as certain truths are revealed about different characters. In terms of issues with the film, the constant flashbacks can take away from the depth of character work in the present sections, and they are jarring in the first act. Also at the end, some things weren’t as tied up as greatly as I would’ve like, there was particularly one conclusion towards the end which felt a little bit of a let down.

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The acting is phenomenal and one of the best parts of the film. First of all is the lead character Leda, who is a complex character that is full of contradictions. She is selfish and unlikable at times, a very difficult character to play. However both actresses do a superb job at portraying her. The present day Leda is played by Olivia Colman, she is a quiet presence. D plays her with a lot of nuance and in a way that makes you understand her. One of her best performances, and that’s saying a lot considering a lot of her recent work. Jessie Buckley plays the younger Leda, and she was a perfect casting choice as a younger Colman. She’s more showy than Colman’s comparatively subtle performance, but she effectively portrayed her desire for an escape out of her motherly life and really plays up her humanity. Another fantastic performance from Buckley. Both Colman and Buckley are believable as the same person, while avoiding feeling like they’re trying to imitate each other. The two performances are full of empathy and fleshed out versions of the same character. Dakota Johnson is used sparingly in this film but this is very likely one of the best performances I’ve seen from her. She’s able to tell a lot without saying much, even just with her facial expressions, body language and subtle glances. Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Mescal and Oliver Jackson-Cohen are comparatively short on screentime but all do well to make their presences felt and are good in their parts.

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As I said earlier, this is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s first film as a director and she’s done a great job here. It does feel like a debut movie with some aspects with the camerawork and editing, but it’s a strong debut nonetheless. The eerie atmosphere helped the movie to dive deeper into Leda’s headspace throughout. The cinematography is also great, with making use of the locations in Greece in the present day, but are particularly effective with the close ups of the characters.

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The Lost Daughter is not an easy movie to watch and isn’t for everyone. However I thought it was great. A slowly paced yet engaging and compelling character drama, we’ll directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and with phenomenal performances, especially from Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson. The movie will be on Netflix in December, and I think it’s worth checking out at the very least.

Green Lantern (2011) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris
Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond
Mark Strong as Thaal Sinestro
Angela Bassett as Dr. Amanda Waller
Tim Robbins as Robert Hammond
Temuera Morrison as Abin Sur/Green Lantern
Taika Waititi as Thomas Kalmaku
Director: Martin Campbell

Sworn to preserve intergalactic order, the Green Lantern Corps has existed for centuries. Its newest recruit, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), is the first human to join the ranks. The Green Lanterns have little regard for humans, who have thus far been unable to harness the powers of the ring each member wears. But Jordan, a gifted and cocky test pilot, may be the corps’ only hope when a new enemy called Parallax threatens the universal balance of power.

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2 years before the DCEU was started with Man of Steel, WB tried to create a DC cinematic universe with 2011’s Green Lantern. It had all the makings of a good comic book movie, you have a great cast including Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong and on top of that, its directed by Goldeneye and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell. Green Lantern however ended up being way worse than it should be, it fails to entertain or interest on any level, and just feels like wasted potential in the end.

First thing to note is that Green Lantern has a very silly tone. It feels like WB was trying to replicate the Marvel films with DC, and with the MCU running a good few year at the time of GL’s release, that could very well be what happened. It’s quite comedic and ridiculous at some points oddly. Unfortunately despite the light and almost cartoonish tone, it’s not very entertaining, not even on a so bad it’s good level. On top of it being too silly, it’s also not very interesting. Despite it being an hour and 45 minutes long, Green Lantern drags a lot. I’m not sure what happened with the script. It just feels empty, they throw a lot of lore at you but none of it really sticks, there’s nothing about the way that the film told the backstory of the Green Lanterns that made me interested in them. Honestly they sound more interesting on paper than how it’s presented in the actual movie. There is no emotional connection to what’s going on, things just happen, and you watch them happen but you don’t care about any of it. By the end it didn’t feel like much has happened. There is a lot of wasted opportunities as well, for example a big part of the film is these Green Lantern rings which allow the people who use them to create anything they can imagine, however nothing that creative even comes of that. It’s such a shame that Green Lantern really doesn’t get much right, it’s not entertaining, it’s not interesting, it’s rather empty and feels much longer than it actually is.

There is a lot of talented actors here and many of the casting decisions are great. Unfortunately they aren’t enough to elevate the film in an immense way. Ryan Reynolds to be fair is actually a great pick for Hal Jordan/Green Lantern and Reynolds does his best with what he was given. He is however let down by the material given to him. The supporting actors with Blake Lively, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison, Taika Waititi and others are fine enough but really don’t give that great performances, it’s not on them though and they are fine enough. Mark Strong is a perfect casting choice for Sinestro but he’s not even the main villain, and he doesn’t get as much screentime as he should. I guess he was being set up to be a villain in later movies but as sequels didn’t happen he just feels wasted. He was really good in his scenes though. The actual villains were really bad. Peter Sarsgaard I’ve heard is a good actor and I don’t blame him for his performance here. In short he’s some random guy who gets a big head and powers and is over the top and goofy, terrible performance, again not putting this on Sarsgaard. He’s not even the main villain, it’s this CGI creature thing called Parallax. I’ve seen many bad comic book movie villains, from Nuclear Man, to Poison Ivy to Incubus. But I think Parallax is the worst comic book movie villain I’ve ever seen. The CGI on him was awful but also there’s absolutely nothing to the character and we don’t see too much of him anyway.

This film is directed by Martin Campbell but you wouldn’t be able to tell by watching the movie. The filming of the action sequences is fine enough but it’s not that great. It doesn’t help that the CGI is so awful it’s actually unbelievable, everything from the CGI suits, to the backgrounds, Parallax and beyond, everything looks bad. The decision to have the suits be CGI was particularly poor, they even gave Ryan Reynolds a goofy CGI eye mask. Nothing feels real and I know that most of what happens can’t be created in reality but they could’ve at least made it better so that the special effects don’t constantly feel artificial and fake.

I personally think that Green Lantern is the worst comic book movie of the 2010s thus far, though there are worse comic book movies that have been released overall. Some aspects are fine like most of the actors are well cast and do the best they can in their roles but they are ultimately let down by the writing and material given. The vast majority of the story aspects falls flat and all the potential with all these characters and the world is wasted. Not only that but it’s not even entertaining, even the technical aspects such as the CGI are astoundingly poor. Green Lantern was an unfortunate misfire and really didn’t work at all. Let’s just hope that the DCEU’s version of Green Lantern is solid (though it will likely be much better by default).

Jackie (2016) Review

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jackie

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Peter Sarsgaard as Robert F. Kennedy
Greta Gerwig as Nancy Tuckerman
Billy Crudup as The Journalist
John Hurt as Father Richard McSorley
Director: Pablo Larrain

After her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy’s (Natalie Portman) world is completely shattered. Traumatized and reeling with grief, over the course of the next week she must confront the unimaginable: consoling their two young children, vacating the home she painstakingly restored, and planning her husband’s funeral. Jackie quickly realizes that the next seven days will determine how history will define her husband’s legacy – and how she herself will be remembered.

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Jackie was a movie I was curious about. Along with Natalie Portman and the story about Jackie Kennedy, I heard a lot of great things about it. After seeing it, I can say that Jackie is overall a solid biopic with a decent plot, good direction and great performances, Natalie Portman’s of course being the standout. It might not be one of the all time best biopics but it is absolutely worth seeing.

This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy, left, and Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in a scene from "Jackie." (Bruno Calvo/Fox Searchlight via AP)

The story of Jackie is pretty good. The movie is a character study of Jackie Kennedy and it goes into the things and situations that Jackie Kennedy had to deal with and what she was going through emotionally and mentally after the assassination of her husband. It jumps between time, between the interview between Kennedy and the interviewer (played by Billy Crudup) and the past before and after the assassination (and even after that they jump times throughout the film as well). I felt like it was a unique way of telling the story and made things more interesting than just putting it in chronological order. As for accuracies to real life, I have no idea. It seems somewhat accurate from watching the movie but that’s all I can really say, I’m not a historian. The story didn’t exactly blow me away, it wasn’t one of the all time best biopics but the story overall is decent and worked very well for the movie.

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The highlight of this movie of course is Natalie Portman and I have to say, this is one of Natalie Portman’s all time best performances, she is absolutely incredible in this movie. Much of the movie is focussed on her and her reactions to all these situations. She expresses what Jackie Kennedy is feeling so well without even having to speak. She steals the show from everyone else. The supporting cast was also pretty good. Peter Sarsgaard is also really good as Robert Kennedy, Billy Crudup was also effective as the journalist interviewing Jackie Kennedy. John Hurt is also a nice addition as a priest, he was very effect. The scenes between him and Portman were some of the best in the film. Every actor worked for what they needed to in this movie.

This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, and Billy Crudup in a scene from the film, "Jackie." (William Gray/Fox Searchlight via AP)

Directionwise this movie is good. The cinematography was fitting enough for the movie. Sometimes there are shots which are okay but not anything special. Other times the cinematography was truly great. The editing was a bit interesting, it jumps around in time in its scenes, which got a little bit jarring. I don’t know what it is meant to do but something about it really worked for me. The music by Mica Levi was a standout aspect of the film, it ranged from being dreamlike to being eerie, and it really helped enhanced the scenes.

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Jackie is a solid biopic about Jackie Kennedy which was pretty good overall, the highlight being the great performances, especially from Natalie Portman. You should watch the movie even just for Natalie’s performance honestly. The rest of the film is good in regards to its story, direction and acting from its supporting cast, but Natalie Portman really makes the movie. Definitely check out the movie as soon as you can.

R.I.P. John Hurt

22 January 1940 – 27 January 2017