Tag Archives: Rufus Sewell

Old (2021) Review

Old

Old

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, horror scenes & content may disturb
Cast:
Gael García Bernal as Guy Cappa
Vicky Krieps as Prisca Cappa
Rufus Sewell as Charles
Alex Wolff and Emun Elliott as Trent Cappa
Thomasin McKenzie and Embeth Davidtz as Maddox Cappa
Abbey Lee as Chrystal
Nikki Amuka-Bird as Patricia Carmichael
Ken Leung as Jarin Carmichael
Eliza Scanlen as Kara
Aaron Pierre as Mid-Sized Sedan/Brendan
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

A thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day.

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Old was one of my most anticipated films of the year. I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan, I know that his movies aren’t for everyone and there are a few of his films which don’t really work for me personally. On the whole though, I like his movies. There was a lot of mystery surrounding Old but I knew it was a thriller about aging set on a beach starring Thomasin McKenzie and Vicky Krieps, and it was directed by Shyamalan, so I was interested in how it turned out. I actually really liked it a lot.

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Some have described Old as being Twilight Zone esque and while I’ve never watched the show, I can kind of get what they mean. The plot is fairly straightforward and fairly predicable at times, but has a high concept that they take advantage of, the horror of inescapable aging. The movie is about time as to be expected, with plenty of themes about growing old, experiencing major moments in life in a short time, and effectively is a meditation on time despite being a thriller first and foremost. In most Shyamalan films there is a level of sincerity to how seriously they take the story, and that goes a long way here. The movie is a family drama, and while this dynamic and concept has been in many movies (including horror thrillers), it was handled quite well here. This is one of Shyamalan’s darkest movies, but it also has a lot of heart in it, and it nails the emotional aspect of the story. I face found the story gripping on the whole. In terms of issues with the writing, it does have Shyamalan’s trademark awkward and artificial sounding dialogue as expected. However at this point I accepted it as a Shyamalan thing, if you’re used to it from his other movies, then Old won’t be too hard to get through. The movie has this general level of weirdness to it but I find that it helps the movie have an off kilter feel to it. There are some moments which are funny but some of those feel intentional. I know that a lot of people will compare Old to The Happening, but the former definitely does things a lot better. The invisible horror certainly works a lot better in Old, perhaps because of the existential nature of the rapid aging in the movie. I will say that the tone is a little messy and all over the place. There is indeed a twist as to be expected from Shyamalan, and I think the twist is just okay within the context of the story, but it is one that I’ll need to think about. It does have a big exposition dump and an odd tonal shift that makes it feel out of place, otherwise I was fine with it.

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This movie has quite the talented cast, and I thought that everyone performed their parts greatly. The main family is greatly played by Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie. They had strong chemistry between them and they really felt like a family. The rest of the cast including Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung and Eliza Scanlen were also really good in their parts. The performances of the actors playing children who age up quickly (Wolff, McKenzie and Scanlen) particularly do very well at portraying older versions of the children while believably capturing the mentality of the younger people they were hours before. Vicky Krieps, Thomasin McKenzie and Rufus Sewell were the standout performances to me.

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M. Night Shyamalan’s direction is really solid, I think this is some of the best work he’s one on a technical level at the very least. He definitely excels at his smaller scale movies, and this is certainly one of his smallest movies, with it mostly taking place on a beach. Speaking of which, the setting of the beach was great and there were some stunning shots, and certainly a notable amount of use of blocking to hide certain things and capture characters’ perspectives. Shyamalan does a lot with the claustrophobia of the setting and being trapped there, much like how the characters feel. Most of the movie doesn’t have anything overtly violent but when it does, it is effective. There’s even a surprising amount of body horror and in those moments, Shyamalan lets it loose and gets more gnarly than I was expecting it too. Finally, the score works very well for the movie.

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I have heard some people say that Old is M. Night Shyamalan at his absolute ‘most’, and I can sort of see why. If you aren’t a fan of many of Shyamalan’s movies, there might be some aspects about it that might not work with you, from some clunky dialogue, weird tonal changes, and odd story and technical choices. However, I actually quite liked the movie and found it entertaining, the actors were great, I was invested in the story, and it was very well made. It is definitely a divisive movie, but I think it’s worth checking out. It is possibly among Shyamalan’s best films.

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.

Dark City (1998) Review

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Dark City

Time: 100 minutes (Director’s Cut: 111 Minutes)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Rufus Sewell as John Murdoch
William Hurt as Inspector Frank Bumstead
Kiefer Sutherland as Dr. Daniel P. Schreber
Jennifer Connelly as Emma Murdoch/Anna
Richard O’Brien as Mr. Hand
Ian Richardson as Mr. Book
Director: Alex Proyas

John (Rufus Sewell) awakens in a hotel with no memory and learns that he is wanted for a series of murders. While seeking answers, he discovers a group of aliens called the Strangers who are controlling the city.

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I heard a bit about Dark City, the main thing I knew of it was that it was a sci-fi movie that was quite similar to The Matrix, and in fact came out a year earlier. It didn’t do well with critics or at the box office upon its release but has since become a cult classic. I went in not really knowing what to expect but I ended up loving it. There are some roughness to it for sure, but it just really appealed to me, and I found it to be a unique, engaging and visually stunning sci-fi film.

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I should mention that I watched the director’s cut of Dark City, and I highly recommend seeing this version of the movie. I’ve heard that the director’s cut fleshes things out a lot more compared to the theatrical, and having seen the former, I definitely say to watch this version. The director’s cut also doesn’t have an introduction explaining the setting and world that the movie takes place in, and that really added a lot to the experience as you (like main character John) are trying to piece together and figure out what is happening. Therefore, I highly recommend going into this movie knowing as little as possible, it makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. As that, Dark City has an intriguing plot with a great atmosphere, it is a mix of sci-fi, mystery and film noir, and that combination is guaranteed to have my attention. The mystery itself is very interesting and I found myself wrapped up with the main character as he tried to find out what was happening in this strange world he woke up in. In terms of criticisms, the characters aren’t all that great or interesting, they serve their part in the movie but that’s sort of it. It didn’t bother me too much however, I was invested enough in the plot.

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As I said earlier, the characters aren’t all that interesting, but the actors elevates them with their performances. Rufus Sewell is in the lead role and he does very well, even if his character is sort of a blank slate, with him not remembering anything and essentially serving as our entry into this strange world. The supporting cast also work on their parts, including Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt. Kiefer Sutherland is also in this, and I think this is one of his best performances, one of his most unique and different roles for sure. Additionally, there’s the villains of the movie known as The Strangers, who are effectively menacing and sinister yet intriguing characters.

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The direction by Alex Proyas is spectacular, I really liked The Crow but I’m pretty sure this is my favourite film from him. I love the style, it is visually stunning and very much noir influenced, especially with the lighting and colour pallet. The setting is so great, it’s always dark and shadowy, and while the world is familiar, it always feels off and rather alien. There is so much attention to detail, especially with the environments and production designs. Now some of the CGI don’t hold up all that well (especially with the climax in the third act) but you can accept that with it being a 1998 movie. The rest of the effects surprisingly hold up quite well. The score by Trevor Jones I thought was also effective and fitted the tone of the movie perfectly.

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Dark City is a fantastic, atmospheric and engaging sci-fi noir, that’s directed excellently, and acted incredibly well. On top of that, this movie also appealed a lot to me stylistically and thematically, and I have a strong feeling that this is going to quickly become one of my favourite movies. I highly recommend that you check it out (preferably the director’s cut) as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.

Judy (2019) Review

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Judy

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland
Finn Wittrock as Mickey Deans
Rufus Sewell as Sidney Luft
Michael Gambon as Bernard Delfont
Jessie Buckley as Rosalyn Wilder
Director: Rupert Goold

Thirty years after starring in “The Wizard of Oz,” beloved actress and singer Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) arrives in London to perform sold-out shows at the Talk of the Town nightclub. While there, she reminisces with friends and fans and begins a whirlwind romance with musician Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), her soon-to-be fifth husband.

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I’m not too familiar with Judy Garland, I knew that she was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, that she was an actress and singer, and that she was in the 1950s version of A Star is Born. So a Judy Garland biopic sounded somewhat interesting to me at least. I first heard of this movie’s existence as basically Renee Zellweger’s vehicle for her second acting Oscar award, and it seems certain at this point that she’ll certainly nab the award soon. From the looks of things, Judy seemed like a rather typical and generic biopic on Garland, and unfortunately it is that, despite a good performance at the centre of it all.

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I can’t speak as to the accuracy of the movie to what happened in real life. No matter how much or little accurate it is to true events however, it should be handled in a way that it’s able to work as a movie, and they didn’t seem to make it particularly interesting. As I previously said, Judy on face value looked very much like a typical music biopic, and one of those Oscar bait movies, unfortunately it’s both of those. It follows those familiar story beats, and ultimately feels more like a sad and safe tribute to Judy Garland instead of digging deep into her. While there are some issues that she’s dealing with and they are put on display in the movie, it feels like they are deliberately understating them, and not exploring her or them at all. While I knew more about Garland after watching the movie than before, I still feel like there’s a lot I really didn’t know about her. The most I got out of learning about her were in the few flashback scenes of her early in her career, and those were the most interesting parts of the movie. I know a lot of people really hate the use of flashbacks, but honestly a lot more of them would’ve considerably helped to show and reveal a lot more about her. Sadly much of Judy is mainly just showing her a year before her death, which isn’t necessarily bad but you’ve got to have something interesting to say or show about her if you’re going to do that. The end result is just showing her slow decline… and that’s it, not much exploration of her during this period and why things certain things are happening. You’d think that the movie would connect some of the few flashbacks to the events happening in the movie (present day in the story) in some way, but no. Not to mention it’s really slow. I don’t mind a slow moving movie as long as it has something interesting or compelling to show or say, but Judy isn’t any of that. Each scene on its own is fine, but when you’ve got all these bland scenes one after the other and at such a slow rate, it becomes rather tedious to watch. You get the feeling that this movie felt comfortable just sitting back and letting Renee do her thing, which is great for her but terrible for the rest of the movie. Even the attempts at emotion throughout just come across as hollow, and the melodrama and soap opera-ness became grating than actually affecting. The only time it even gets close to being somewhat genuine was a section with Judy and a fictionalised gay couple, which actually worked alright. Additionally the ending scene was among the best parts of the movie, it gets a little cheesy at a point, but honestly that’s still something compared to the rest of the film.

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Literally the only reason to watch the movie is for Renee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland. She’s definitely throwing everything into this role and the movie very much relies on her performance. However, she unfortunately falls victim to the typical clichés that similar roles and movies have, with a different look, doing a different voice, having large emotional moments (leaving awards shows plenty of options of clips to pick for her Best Actress clip) and her character going through the same scenes that we’ve seen plenty of other movies do before. Now they very well may have happened in real life, but the writing lacks enough depth for it to feel genuine. Thankfully, Zellweger carries much of the movie and elevated it just a little bit. Had everything around her been a lot better, I’d probably go so far as to say that she’s incredible. She handles the singing side of things reasonably well too, she’s no Judy Garland, but not many people are. The rest of the cast aren’t lacklasture or anything either. They are decent, with the likes of Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon doing well in their respective roles.

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Much of Judy is directed okay but there’s nothing that stands out at all about it. Director Rupert Goold previously made True Story, a movie I thought was pretty good and also had more to it on the directing side compared to Judy. Nothing is necessarily bad here, it’s shot and directed reasonably well, on a technical level it’s all fine (the makeup on Renee to make her look like Judy Garland was great). However everything feels like it’s on complete autopilot, and lacks any kind of energy, with maybe the exception of the last scene.

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There’s a lot of potential for a biopic of Judy Garland to be a fantastic movie from a biopic of Judy Garland, but the end result is bland, uninteresting, and not really that good. Even if you want to learn more about Judy, the film doesn’t explore her or really show enough about her for it to be satisfying. Not to say the movie doesn’t have its upsides, the acting is generally good, with the highlight being Renee Zellweger’s performance, and with her winning an Oscar, it might be worth checking it out for that. Beyond the acting however, don’t expect much more beyond that.

Gods of Egypt (2016) Review

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Gods of Egypt

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Horus
Brenton Thwaites as Bek
Gerard Butler as Set
Chadwick Boseman as Thoth
Élodie Yung as Hathor
Courtney Eaton as Zaya
Rufus Sewell as Urshu
Geoffrey Rush as Ra
Director: Alex Proyas

The survival of mankind hangs in the balance when Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, usurps Egypt’s throne and plunges the prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. Hoping to save the world and rescue his true love, a defiant mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) forms an unlikely alliance with the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Their battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens for an epic confrontation.

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Since its release, Gods of Egypt has been panned, absolutely everyone has been trashing it and calling it one of the worst films of 2016. So naturally I was curious and wanted to check it out. While others despised the movie, I personally enjoyed it, but for all the wrong reasons. It really will surprise you how bad it this movie gets, from terrible green screen and CGI, to an uninteresting and familiar story. This film doesn’t work at all. Aside from the unintentionally hilarious aspects and two of the performances, Gods of Egypt pretty much fails on every level. I almost recommend seeing it.

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The story itself isn’t really interesting at all. We’ve all seen this story and types of characters many times over, there’s nothing to really comment on. I’m finding it difficult to remember much about the plot itself. The only reason this film works in a bad way is the way they try to execute this movie. They make the film so over the top, it’s kind of a glorious trainwreck to watch. The dialogue is really bad, awkward and clunky, the romance in the movie you don’t buy at all and there is also some humour which seems really off (which is funny but not because it’s done well, it’s funny because it was so horribly and awkwardly done). Pretty much almost nothing about this film works at all.

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Hands down the best part of the movie is Gerald Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Gerald chews up the scenery as the villain and looks like he’s enjoying every second he’s on screen. Nikolaj at times looks like he’s genuinely trying to give a good performance, despite the bad material he’s given. Everyone else is forgettable, granted they didn’t have a whole lot to work with. Even some of the really good actors like Chadwick Boseman and Geoffrey Rush don’t really come away with anything. I think it is worth noting that there aren’t any Egyptian actors in this film, Gods of Egypt didn’t have any Egyptians. Not really a flaw with the performances, just thought it was worth pointing out.

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The green screen and action scenes were done absolutely horribly. Think of how out of place the green screen was in the Star Wars prequels. Only it’s 5 times worse. You can clearly see where the green/blue screen is around the actors, its kind of embarrassing. Same with the CGI, nothing feels natural. And as for the action scenes, there is so much slow mo and camera rotations used, it’s crazy. It tries to make it look epic but it ends up looking ridiculous, over the top and amateur. It’s weird because the director of Gods of Egypt made The Crow, which didn’t use a lot of CGI but still I don’t see how he could’ve made both films.

Undated Film Still Handout from Gods of Egypt. See PA Feature FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Reviews.

I didn’t give it my lowest score as I enjoyed this movie as a so-bad-it’s-good movie and Gerald Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were actually good in the movie. But it’s still so far the worst movie I’ve seen this year, with the awful CGI, greenscreen and action scenes, the mostly mediocre performances and a cliché story. Gods of Egypt really is the Jupiter Ascending of 2016. However, if you like so bad it’s good movies, you should definitely check this out when you can. This film is definitely one to remember, for all the wrong reasons.