Posts Tagged ‘Emily Blunt’

Into the Woods: The Woods Can Be a Wonderful Place—Movie

December 29, 2014

Into the Woods” is a joyous, albeit dark, journey into the combined worlds of Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine and the Brothers Grimm. Directed by Rob Marshall, with screenplay by Lapine, based on the musical by Sondheim and Lapine, “Into the Woods” grabs you in the very first scene and never lets go.

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Through song we’re quickly introduced to a variety of familiar fairy-tale characters with some unfulfilled dreams, chief among them—the Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Cinderella’s Stepmother (Christine Baranski), Jack and his Mother (Daniel Huttlestone and Tracey Ullman) and most especially, the Witch (Meryl Streep). Yes, the Witch has unfulfilled dreams, too…dreams that only the Baker and his Wife can make happen. And why would they help the Witch? Well, as she explains, to reverse the curse they didn’t know was placed upon them…a curse that makes it impossible for them to have children. Helping the Witch puts the Baker and his Wife in contact with virtually every other character in the musical. The plot seems simple and direct, but that is not necessarily the case. As the Witch reminds them…and us…be careful what you wish for.

What helps makes “Into the Woods” so successful is that every single actor can actually act and sing. Each actor makes you believe in his or her character and is perfectly cast.

The supporting cast…and the word, supporting, is used loosely… is just phenomenal. As the Wolf, Johnny Depp is sublime. He is everything you’d want in a wolf…sly, sneaky, lithe and sexy…even with those ears and whiskers. What’s more, his voice suits his character to a tee. Depp has limited amount of screen time, but he makes the most of every single second. As the object of his “affection,” Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Hood is terrific. She conveys just the right amount of spunkiness. Crawford may be young and little, but this girl can sing…she’s a precocious belter and is fabulous. Daniel Huttlestone and Tracey Ullman as Jack and his Mother make the perfect team. Huttlestone is impishly cute with a great voice and his character’s “love affair” with his cow seems very believable. Tracey Ullman has a shockingly melodic voice. In a supporting role, we don’t see a lot of her, but she is fun to watch when she’s on the screen. Fans of “The Bold and Beautiful’s” Mackenzie Mauzy knew she could sing and as Rapunzel she doesn’t disappoint, making a beautiful and belligerent Rapunzel. Cinderella’s Stepmother, Christine Baranski, is hysterically mean. She can sing with the best of them and her role just seems meant for her.

Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince and Billy Magnussen as his brother and Rapunzel’s Prince have to be singled out for special praise, especially Pine. They are both fabulous and together are just hysterical. When they sing, “Agony,” you’ll be in anything but. Pine is the year’s comedic find. He has a bit more dialogue than Magnussen and as the slightly dim, but oh so charming prince, he just continues to astound, he is that good.

Then there are the leads…to say they are all amazing is putting it mildly. As the Baker, James Corden is so very lovable you can’t help but root for him. He might not be leading man handsome, but he is a terrific actor and with his wonderful voice, he makes you fall in love with him. His scenes with the young characters, Jack and Little Red Riding Hood, are very charismatic and his work with Blunt and Streep is especially good. Emily Blunt is extremely endearing as the Baker’s Wife. She has a delightful voice and her scenes with Corden and Pine are terrific in very different ways. Anna Kendrick gives us a very plucky Cinderella, one with a huge heart, but fierce in spirit at the same time. Her singing is amazing and she is just all-around magnificent. Finally there is Meryl Streep as the Witch. To say she is astounding and perfect in every way is an understatement. Many of us knew Streep could sing, but we’ve never heard her sing the way she does in ‘Into the Woods.” Ferocious and soft when she needs to be, she just nails it. The beauty of Streep is that her part is meant to be huge and she plays that just right without overwhelming her cast-mates. The other actors more than hold their own with her which makes the movie a well-rounded affair.

The musical takes full advantage of the screen, using special effects where it’s called for and not a bit more. The effects help the film, but never overtake it. As brilliant as “Into the Woods’” cast is, the movie would be nothing without the breathtakingly beautiful and lyrically fun songs of Stephen Sondheim. Abetted by James Lapine’s marvelous screenplay, the astute direction of Rob Marshall and the most wonderful of costumes by Colleen Atwood, “Into the Woods” is a feast for the ears and eyes.

Sometimes it’s more than ok to go into the woods. This is one of those times. Run, don’t walk.

4 nuggets out of 4

 

Edge of Tomorrow: Edge of Your Seat Today—Movie

June 8, 2014

Leave it to Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman to show with “Edge of Tomorrow” just how one does a big action picture right. Directed by Liman, with screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka ‘s novel, All You Need Is Kill, “Edge of Tomorrow” takes place in the future when the world’s countries are united (United Defense Forces (UDF) ) against a common enemy—an alien form of life called Mimics. Just how the world wins the battle…or will it…is the film’s basic plot.edge-of-tomorrow-movie-poster-01.jpg~original

The film opens with CNN footage of the ongoing battles and then goes to an interview with Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a UDF spokesman and officer in the United States Army Reserve, on CNN’s Jake Tapper’s “The Lead.” After the interview, Cage heads to London to meet with General Brigham, (Brendan Gleeson), commander of the UDF, who informs him that he has the “opportunity to be embedded with the armed forces as they prepare to fight in France. Gates, who’s never actually been in combat, balks at the assignment and threatens the General. But the General one-ups him, telling Gates he has no choice, strips Gates of his rank, and sends him out, in handcuffs no less, under the watch of Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) and his band of ragtag soldiers. To say Gates is out of his depth is putting it mildly, but the soldiers deploy and a bloody fight incurs. It’s during this battle that Gates experiences the first of his many time resets, “Groundhog Days,” if you will. It’s in one of his earlier resets that he meets up with war hero Rita Vrataski, the “Angel of Verdun” (Emily Blunt). He discovers that she had also experienced resets, just like Gates. They form an alliance and together the two try to come up with a plan full of action, fights and resets to save the world.

“Edge of Tomorrow” has its share of astounding special effects and weird, spider-like villains, but unlike other special effects-laden war/end of the world movies out this year with more to come, this film also has brains and wit. It just seems more intelligent and it’s never boring. What’s even stranger, but in a good way, is that even though scenes are repeated, the movie never feels repetitive.

Although “Edge of Tomorrow” is billed as a Tom Cruise movie, Emily Blunt has almost the same amount of screen time as Cruise and she is every bit his equal. Not one you’d normally associate with an action flick, Blunt is amazing. Her chemistry with Cruise is terrific and this lady can kick some mean butt. As one would expect, Cruise excels in the scenes which cause for him to be cocky and he’s great in all of the action sequences. But he’s also very good in the scenes in which he’s literally freaking out or when he’s dazed and somewhat confused. Giving heft to the all-around good acting are Gleeson and Paxton in their supporting roles.

Just when I was about to give up on ever watching a really good, substantive special effects, end-of-the-world film, along comes “Edge of Tomorrow.” Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt really do save the day.

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

The Wolfman—Movie

February 18, 2010

The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston with screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self, is one scary, gory, entertaining hoot or should I say “howl.”

The Wolfman, a revisiting of the classic 1941 Curt Siodmak movie screenplay, The Wolf Man, stars Anthony Hopkins as Sir John Talbot, Benicio Del Toro as his son Lawrence (his lack of English accent is explained away as the result of being sent to America as a young boy), Emily Blunt as Gwen Conliffe, the fiancé of Lawrence’s late brother Ben who’s been killed under mysterious circumstances and Hugo Weaving as Abberline, the Inspector hunting down the unknown killer.

Anthony Hopkins immediately classes up any movie in which he participates and he makes the most of every bit of screen time he has, but not in a cheesy, over the top way. If you’re expecting a Hannibal Lecter Hopkins, you will be disappointed, but his restrained performance helps the movie a great deal. Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro also treats his part seriously. He’s very convincing as a man confronting demons from his past, trying to take charge of his present and future. Emily Blunt makes the most of the little screen time she has, but her scenes with Benicio Del Toro are charged with chemistry.

Aside from the two male leads, the real stars of this movie are the English moors and the amazing special effect makeup created by Rick Baker and his team. Together they set the eery tone for The Wolfman.

For sheer imagination, nothing beats the original Wolf Man. The black and white imagery and the performance of Maria Ouspenskaya as the gypsy who explains the curse of the werewolf just can’t be beat.  But The Wolfman, judged on its own merits, makes for a highly entertaining afternoon at the movies.

3 nuggets out of 4

Young Victoria—Movie

January 8, 2010

Young Victoria, written by Julian Fellowes and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (and Sarah Ferguson as one of the producers), is a highly entertaining biopic. The film boasts a great script, interesting point of view and is terrifically acted.

Starring a fabulous Emily Blunt as Victoria, the movie follows Queen Victoria’s life from about the age of 18 into the early years of her reign and marriage. Although Victoria led a sheltered life, she was not necessarily naïve and showed a strong, assertive side against her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and the very domineering Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong in another terrific turn as the year’s leading film villain). Initially Victoria finds a confident and mentor in Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), but eventually becomes her own person with her marriage to Prince Albert (Rupert Friend).

What makes the movie very compelling from a modern standpoint is the struggle Victoria has in reconciling her duties as Queen with her marriage to a very smart man in his own right, Prince Albert. It’s a struggle that I’m sure would resonate with Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Pelosi or even today’s Queen Elizabeth.

3 nuggets out of 4


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