Entries in cate blanchett (6)

Friday
Dec222017

Thor: Ragnarok- review

 

“Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson

Running Time 130 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

After a gazillion Marvel movies, why not finally release a comedy.  They have, with none other than the god of Thunder and apparently the god of action humor  in “Thor: Ragnarok”.  The fact that Marvel had the cojones to enlist New Zealand independent director Taika Waititi who is responsible for “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and who I adore is an example of using their immense amount of power for the good of mankind.  Waititi mixes his dry quirky New Zealand humor with huge over the top zany belly laughs that only a Marvel budgeted film can allow.  Mix that with a giant 80’s color wheel vomiting everywhere (a good thing) and balls to the wall action, this is one of the most pleasurable films of the year.

 

Plot, schmott.  Just know that Chris Hemsworth is built like a god and is incredibly hilarious (not fair) - I need him to be successful in something else besides the Marvelverse.  Hiddleston and Ruffalo are great as Loki and The Hulk, but it’s the new additions of Tessa Thompson and Jeff freaking Goldblum that will make you swoon. Marvel once again suffers from a ‘meh’ villain, although not to the fault of Cate Blanchett who looks to be having fun in black spandex.  Even Waititi shows up voicing a gentle would be revolutionary Rock Warrior named Korg who gets some of the best lines of the movie.

I had fun at “Thor: Ragnarok” and if you’re not dead inside then so shall you.

Isaiah 45:5

 

Friday
Jan012016

Carol- review

 

“Carol” (2015)

Directed by Todd Haynes

Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

Running Time 118 Minutes, Rated R

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Todd Haynes returns to 1950’s forbidden love that he was so critically praised for in 2002’s “Far From Heaven” and is getting just as much if not more love for his latest, “Carol”.  There are great costumes, art direction, cinematography, and overall just a painstakingly great amount of detail to flesh out a story with great pain bound to it.  

Therese (Rooney Mara) is a shopgirl who chances upon the wealthy Carol (Cate Blanchett) who comes in flustered looking for a Christmas present for her little daughter.  Carol leaves her gloves (maybe on purpose, maybe not), and the transfixed Therese takes the opportunity to reach out to her resulting in Carol treating her to lunch.  Both leads quickly understand that there is an attraction to each other, and both proceed ahead despite their era's restrictions.

 

Carol has much more to risk as she’s in the middle of a divorce with her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) who has been brought to pettiness with his despair of knowing Carol’s alternative lifestyle.  Carol is threatened that she might lose all contact with her daughter because of her so-called morality clause breakage.  

The acting is superb all around.  Chandler shows a man still in love being wrongfully desperate while Sarah Paulson is soulful as Carol’s ex-love and now best friend, but it’s Blanchett and Mara who dutifully carry the heavy baggage.  I was most impressed with the two actresses timing, showing the dance choreography that is two people slowly falling in love with each other.  Mara is exquisite as someone young and caught up in the heart’s affairs, allowing that to be enough to be the compass to guide her through whatever storms may come.

“Carol” is one of the strongest films of the year.

“This” is one of the strongest films of the year.

Song of Solomon 7:6

 

Saturday
Feb152014

The Monuments Men- review

 

“The Monuments Men” (2014)

Directed by George Clooney

Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray

Running Time 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Monumentally Unexceptional

George Clooney’s WW2 drama, “The Monuments Men” was supposed to be released late last year but got pushed out of the award season and into early February 2014.  That’s usually a very discouraging sign, especially for a film with the pedigree of talent that’s billed, but director Clooney assured us that the reasons for delay were to better improve the CGI shots for the wartime picture.  I’m calling b.s. on Clooney.  He should have used that extra time to give us a story that is actually compelling and focused.

Not a horrible film by any degree, just disappointing.  Clooney has one of those ‘based on a true story’ stories where the spirit of goodness defeats Hitler’s evil intentions that audiences usually eat up.   There’s even a fascinating different take on the genre going for it that should’ve been an inspirational “home run”, but instead, the result is a “strikeout- looking” as the all star cast (Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville) is wasted on characters who are criminally underdeveloped and therefore frustratingly ineffective and a director who can’t figure out if his film should be a rousing throwback film to the yesteryear of cinema or a heartbreaking look at the horrific consequences of the Holocaust.

The War is ending, and Hitler has decreed that all of the priceless art that Germany has stolen from Europe is to be destroyed if and when the Fuhrer’s reign falls.  Clooney plays Frank Stokes, who constructs a team of art scholars who are to become a rag tag group of soldiers to round up the troves of Nazi stolen art.  Art, as we’re told repeatedly in big wordy speeches meant to build in the fact, is the spine of a people and if you destroy that, then they’ll be nothing left of their heritage and history.  That’s a concept easy to get behind, but the speeches never seem to connect.

As the film goes on, the team splits up on their own adventures.  I never felt like I really got to any of our heroes, so when Bill Murray’s architect squirts out a tear as he hears a record playing of his family playing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I can see that Murray is showing off his thespian chops, but I can’t feel it.  

My biggest complaint is Alexandre Desplat‘s score.  Desplat has a ridiculous eclectic resume that boasts “Argo, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Moonrise Kingdom” and that was just from 2012, but whether it was his lead or Clooney’s suggestion, the score betrays the film at almost every corner.  It is sluggish when the mood calls for a shot in the arm and snappy when we should reflect after darker scenes.  In what could have been the film’s most effective moment, exhibiting the monumental human loss for the Jewish people, the music negates the moment by immediately following with an upbeat mixture of horns.

This is Clooney’s fifth time behind the directors chair, and frankly I still think he was at his best in his first film, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”.  I’d love to see him return to the offbeat nature of that film and deliver something exceptional.

I’d love to see “this” return to the offbeat nature of that film and deliver something exceptional.

 

Thursday
Dec192013

Blue Jasmine- review

“Blue Jasmine” (2013)

Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Cate BlanchettAlec BaldwinPeter Sarsgaard

Running Time 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

“Blue Jasmine” opens as I’ve come accustomed Woody Allen films to do.  With his usual black and white title cards surrounded by bubbly jazz.  What follows is a knockout punch I never saw coming.  

Allen’s 48th directed film is a fine one that weighs heavier on the dramatic side than his usual comedic neurosis by using Tennessee Williams's “A Streetcar Named Desire” as a blueprint.  Not to say “Blue Jasmine” doesn’t have it’s laughs, which come in both the black and blue variety, but this is more of a moralistic tale that’s in the vein of Allen’s masterful “Crimes and Misdemeanors”.  I haven’t even told you the best part yet, what makes “Blue Jasmine such a knockout is Cate Blanchett giving the best acting performance so far this year- male or female.

Blanchett’s performance as Jasmine is a complete and tragic portrayal of a woman that is by no means even a “good” person, but the actress has the ability to make you care for her shambled life anyways (sometimes brought by the hands of others and sometimes by herself).  Jasmine, once an elite Manhattan trophy wife naive (or was she) to her slick financier husband Hal (played by a perfectly cast Alec Baldwin) who pulled a Bernie Madoff and ended up in prison for his crimes, ends up penniless and stripped of everything from the government - except for some Louis Vuitton luggage - forcing her to move in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and Ginger’s two sons in a condensed lower crust San Francisco apartment.

“Happy-Go-Lucky” actress Sally Hawkins dazzles as the apologetic grocery clerk sister who’s current guy Chili (Bobby Cannavale) is a grease monkey that is only a slight notch above Ginger’s ex-husband Augie played by Andrew Dice Clay in Jasmine’s condescending eyes.  Yeah that’s right I said Andrew Dice Clay, and in a Woody Allen film no doubt, a stroke of genius casting and surprisingly one hell of a performance from the Dice Man.

Wrecked from her relationship with Hal, Jasmine can end up talking to herself in the middle of the street without the help of her xanax and vodka martini combo platter.  Brittle and selfish don’t make for a good combination, and beware of those who get caught up in Jasmine’s grenade path.  

Men find Jasmine attractive.  The films most awkward and darkly hilarious scene comes when Jasmine’s dentist boss played Michael Stuhlbarg (“A Serious Man”, “Boardwalk Empire) inappropriately professes his affection. Later, a wealthy aspiring politician (a charming Peter Sarsgaard) is caught captive by Jasmine’s alluring presence, but will he get out in time before the grenade goes off.

The third act contains a coincidence that Allen tries to play off by calling having his characters call it out bluntly, but it’s still a coincidence that asks too much of its viewer. The famous New Yorker director, who just started branching out geographically with 2005’s “Match Point”, doesn’t seem to have a hold on utilizing San Fran’s locales like he does with the Big Apple.

Regardless, this is Cate Blanchett’s film.  This year’s Oscar front runner will amaze you.  Blanchett is so good, she could have you talking to yourself in the middle of the street.

“this” could have you talking to yourself in the middle of the street.

Mark 3:21

Monday
Apr112011

Hanna- review

“Hanna” (2011)
Directed by Joe Wright
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana
Running Time 111 Minutes, Rated PG-13
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Wow, that Saoirse Ronan is a talented young actress!  Nominated for her role in Atonement and also impressive in The Lovely Bones, Saoirse gives a curiously natural performance as a very unnatural 16-year old girl that’s been trained by her father/teacher Erik (Eric Bana) to be the perfect assassin.  Director Joe Wright, who also directed Ronan in Atonement, takes a loose adaptation of a Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale and uses European style filmmaking that’s light on the dialogue.  “Hanna” has a cool independent action feel that combined with superb acting makes for a hyper kinetic watching experience.

Ronan plays the PG-13 version of Chloe Moretz’s Hit Girl from “Kick-Ass”.  Raised in the woods somewhere near the Arctic Circle, Hanna can speak several languages, use weaponry with pinpoint accuracy, and give Keanu Reeve’s Neo a pretty good martial arts fight.  The gruffled Erik ( in that hunky kind of way that Bana does without effort) has prepared Hanna all her life for a mission of revenge.  Revenge against the woman who took her mother's life with three bullets.  That woman is Marissa, a Southern drawling CIA agent played by Cate Blanchett who appears to very much enjoy playing the very well kept villain that enjoys brushing her teeth a little too much.  With aspirations of experiencing the world outside her cabin, Hanna flips an ominous red switch that lets Marissa know where she is and can be both the cat and the mouse.    

Attention is not in the details in “Hanna”.  As nice as Wright shoots Ronan’s fight sequences, he sometimes cuts away not fully explaining how she achieved some of her feats.  These cut aways makes her look like James Bond in some instances.  When Hanna goes on the road and the sight of electricity has her perplexed in wonderment, how is it that later she’s able to figure out how to navigate Google to find out her origins with ease?  Character motives are not always clear.  I wasn’t sure by the end if Marissa wanted to kill Hanna or not.

When Wright gets it right he really gets it wright (so punny).  A showstopping adrenaline action sequence through a maze of shipping containers along a pier is perfection.  This marvelous scene got the goose bumps bumping and was well accompanied by a tempered but exciting score from The Chemical Brothers.  Even though Seth Lochhead and David Farr’s screenplay doesn’t always take time to explain its setups, I greatly appreciated the fact that they didn’t abuse action cliches.  The screenwriters tease us with a moment where our heroine passes city thugs in situations, and you think they’ll use the punks that don’t relate to story just to show off her superior butt-kicking skills; but alas she just walks right by.  Kudos.

Acting goes along way in these films.  I can’t say this with enough urgency: Eric Bana NEEDS to be more frequently and properly used in cinema!  Bana, who rocked it in Munich and Star Trek, shows us a few pages out of the man handbook.  Tom Hollander is fun to watch as a sinister little German who does the dirty work that Marissa’s government won’t let her do.  Blanchett shines again as one of the leading ladies of her craft, and, on Blanchett’s path, Saoirse Ronan will be fun to watch blossom as a future star.   

“Hanna” is a well paced action ride that had this viewer enjoying it’s tilt to the grim.  

Enjoying “this” tilt to the grim.

 

Monday
May172010

This week on Movies With Mitch: New Release "Robin Hood", "Exit Through the Gift Shop", and "Movie Snapshots" with Scott Veum

“Robin Hood” (2010) Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong

Running Time 140 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2 Mitch’s out 5

Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

ROBIN HOOD STEALS FROM THE FUN AND GIVES TO THE DULL

(take that 12th century paparazzi!)

Beautiful Medieval scenery? Check. Wonderful detailed battle sequences? Check. Epic Feel? Check. Oscar winning acting coming through? Check. Most importantly, a film that’s entertaining and fun to watch? Nope. So what gives? Boredom does in Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”, a prequel to the often-told legendary screen hero. This is a rare time that I wish I was watching the sequel.

Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his merry men have had enough of being a part of King Richard the Lionheart’s (played by the always cunning Danny Huston) crusades. When King Richard kicks the bucket they get their chance to leave, as Robin takes over the identity of a fallen soldier, Sir Robert Loxley with a promise to return Robert’s sword to his father. The Loxley home is in Nottingham Forest where taxation by Prince Jon, I mean the newly appointed jerk-wad King, is bringing England close to a civil war. Oscar Isaac plays Prince Jon in one of the few roles in the film that is allowed to have any flair. The end of the film mostly uses his character for the too little too late comedic relief in this literally very grey production.

Blah, blah, blah, Robin takes over as Robert Loxley, making a deal with Sir Walter Loxley (the legend Max von Sydow) to be the man of the house so Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett), who is no longer a maid but a widow in this version, won’t lose the farm. What I don’t understand is how none of the town members never put two and two together and figure out that Robert Loxley now looks like a completely different dude (who has a habit of fighting ‘round the world). Anywho, while this and so many other storylines are going on (Friar Tuck and his bees, Robin’s father issues, and William Hurt’s presence being wasted for the sake of exposition), we might lose focus on the important fact that one of King Jon’s trusted higher-ups Godfrey (Mark Strong) turns out to be not so trustworthy as he is making deals with France to invade England.

Ridley Scott and screenwriter Brian Helgeland strip Robin Hood of any theatrics of the yester films, stripping us of any thrills. Hopping all over France and England using would-be historical points to bring validity to the man that is Robin Hood, Scott gets so caught up making sure you feel what it was like in that era (which he does with complete success) that he fails to make us feel any adventure or fun. Kevin Costner’s 1991 “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” might have been a bit on the corny side but it was still entertaining. And not one ballad from Bryan Adams, should’ve at least gotten a heartfelt ditty from Michael Buble. Just kidding, but seriously, Crowe’s Hood until the end battle probably shot less than five arrows. What the what what! Not once did “Robin Hood” bring the excitement or feel as if any unknown layers were being peeled off like in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” origin story.

To be fair, this is no “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” either, as there is plenty going for the picture. Scott brings a crafted hand to his dazzling shots really showing amazing detail to the time. A great cast is supplied with Blanchett and Crowe bouncing well off each other. While Mark Strong, with his dark hollowed eyes is working overtime as Hollywood’s overtime villain. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get pigeonholed as the British villain and has a comparable career to Alan Rickman, who was also Hood’s nemesis in “Prince of Thieves”. It’s just too bad that the film doesn’t take off until the end where title cards declare, “And so the legend begins”.

And so “this” legend begins.