Film Review: Mowgli (USA/UK 2018)***

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Poster
Trailer

A human child raised by wolves must face off against a menacing tiger named Shere Khan, as well as his own origins.

Director:

Andy Serkis

Writers:

Callie Kloves (screenplay by), Rudyard Kipling (based on the stories of)

MOWGLI is a curiosity piece, a non-Walt Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK.  Made by Warner Bros and and slotted for release in 2016 the same time as Disney’s live action THE JUNGLE BOOK, with both films based on the Rudyard Kipling stories, MOWGLI was delayed two years and in the meantime got bought over by Netflix.  After an initial November release in the theatres, MOWGLI can presently be seen on Netflix.  Needless to day, watching it on the big screen in 3-D is optimal, as expressed by director Serkis himself.  MOWGLI is a quality film like many of he new Netflix originals these days, the most notable being ROMA which is also playing and likely to be nominated for Best Foreign Film.

The story runs along the same lines as the animated Disney’s 60’s full length cartoon and its 2016 live action version.

MOWGLI begins with the appearance in the jungle of Kaa (Cate Blancette), an Indian python seer, watches as Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), a crippled Bengal tiger, breaks jungle law by hunting down a family of humans, with only the child escaping.  Bagheera (Christian Bale), drawn to the scene, rescues the man-cub, Mowgli (Rowan Chand), and takes him to a family of wolves being raised by Nisha (Naomi Harris) and Vihaan (Eddie Marsan), only for Tabaqui (Tom Haollander), Shere Khan’s hyena follower, to find the boy before he is chased off.  They take the infant Mowgli before the wolf council and Akela (Peter Mullan), the pack leader, to decide his fate, with Bagheera buying his life with a kill and Baloo strong-armed into agreeing. Shere Khan arrives to kill Mowgli, but Akela stops him, saying the boy is now a member of the pack and forces Shere Khan to leave, but not before the tiger vows to return.

The story goes on with Mowgli discovering his own kind (the man village).  The climax is the fight between MOWGLI and There Khan.  Kaa intervenes to save Mowgl near the end.

Serkis’ versions the most serious of all the JUNGLE BOOK film, undoubtedly.  There are scenes where carcasses are eaten.  The animals like the slimy python, Kaa look incredibly real and therefore scary – perhaps too scary for children under the age of 10.  A few sentimental hogwash segments like Nisha telling Mowgli that he belongs, no matter what others say, could have been dispensed with.  The film is also too playful for adults.  One wonders the target audience of the filmmakers.

The time gap between Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK and MOWGLI helps.  For one, many would have forgotten the main story- and if not at least a few key plot points.  

Netlflix buying the film from Warner Bros. is likely a good thing as this gives the film a different distribution, be in cables subscribers.  The chance of losing money on this one is less as well.  The cost of production is not listed but it must be up there in the millions, as the film’s special effects are exceptional.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB1KTG-O1V0

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Film Review: OCEAN’S 8 (USA 2018) ***1/2

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TV Program

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Director:

Gary Ross

Writers:

Gary Ross (screenplay by), Olivia Milch (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »

 

OCEAN’S 8 (original title OCEAN’S EIGHT) has almost nothing in common with the other OCEAN movies.  There is no casino, no rat pack and no Steven Soderbergh directing, though Soderbergh has producer credit.  Matt Damon of the OCEAN films makes a quiet cameo while the atmosphere of the crime caper is kept intact.  As most are aware of by now, OCEAN’S EIGHT is a female spin-off of the rat pack OCEAN films.  The female rat pack rob the prize jewels during the annual Mets benefit gala dinner.

The film opens with Debbie Ocean (Oscar Winner Sandra Bullock) released from jail when she promises to live the simple life.  Yea, right.  She has no intention whatsoever to alter her life of crime.   Inspired by her brother, Danny Ocean, Debbie attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala.  Her first step is to assemble the perfect crew (which the film introduces one by one): Amita (Mindy Kaling), an Indian jewel expert, Tammy, (Sarah Paulson), a now housewife, previously Debbie’ crime partner, best friend, Lou (Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett), Asian thief, Constance (Awkwafina), Tech savvy genius, Nine Ball, (Rihanna) and Rose (Helena Bonham Carter).   Bell will wardrobe mega-star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) who will be wearing $150 million worth Cartier necklace that they will steal together with other assorted jewellery at the Met Museum.   More fun is entered into the proceedings with insurance investigator, John Frazier (late night show host James Corden) behaving like an efficient but sarcastic Sherlock Holmes.

The actors appear to be having a really good time particularly Carter,  Hathaway and Corden and their enthusiasm rubs off well on the audience.

In these times of female equality, it is good to see a solid well-made female crime caper.  What is immediately notable is that there are no fights, firepower, pyrotechnics or car chases. It is a tough task to keep audience attention from waning and suspense sustained.  The script co-written by Olivia Milch and Ross (director of SEABISCUIT, PLEASANTVILLE, THE HUNGER GAMES and writer of BRUBAKER, BIG) and direction by Ross achieve the rare feat.  The film runs over two hours and the only time I glanced at my watch was tat the 2-hour mark.

Those who are in the know of the haute couture industry (sorry – you are not, if you do not know who Anna Wintour or André Leon Talley are) will enjoy this film more for the appearances of cameos, the familiarity of fashion events and a few fashion inside jokes.  The filmmakers have assembled a stunning cast of cameos, like Matt Damon, Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould as well as a whole lot playing themselves such as  Anna Wintour, Zayn Malik, Katie Holmes, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, Kylie Jenner, Alexander Wang, Kendall Jenner, Olivia Munn, Zac Posen, Hailey Baldwin, Derek Blasberg and `Lauren Santo Domingo.

Don’t expect any life lessons or messages as the film does the reverse, promoting theft and embezzlement as well as promoting the satisfaction from exacting a revenge. But the film, provides classy, sophisticated entertainment in place silly fodder like BLOCKERS, LIFE OF THE PARTY and I FEEL PRETTY that have fart and shit (though there are puke) jokes.

Female version of Hollywood blockbusters have done critically like the recent female GHOSTBUSTERS.  OCEAN’S 8 cost a hefty $70 million.  The former film was the most successful comedy at the box-office of that year but only made a tiny profit due to its huge cost.  OCEAN’S 8 might be in the same boat.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFWF9dU5Zc0

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Film Review: THOR: RAGNAROK (USA 2017) ***

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Thor: Ragnarok Poster
Trailer

Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

Director:

Taika Waititi

The third THOR film, the sequel to THOR:THE DARK WORLD and the seventeenth (not that anyone can really keep count) film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the massive $180 million production arrives with all the extravaganza expected.  With a host of top Hollywood and British stars, lots of characters and action super heroes and tons of special and visual effects, THOR: RAGNAROK should please fans of the MCU but for the more serious cineaste, it is quite the chore to watch.

To recap who this Thor (Chris Hemsworth) person is…  Thor is the crown prince of Asgard based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name, who has become a “lone gunslinger” while solving universe-ending perils in his search to learn more about the Infinity Stones.

The filmmakers have decided to make a few changes to the THOR universe.  Immediately recognizable is Thor’s new look which includes his shorter hair and new outfit.  He is more vulnerable in the third film with him plunged to the ground many times including the loss of his hammer.  His enemy and half-brother Loki is now his aide and friend as also seen in the last scene when they ponder on how Earth will accept both of them when they arrive.

When the film opens, it is two years after the Battle of Sokovia,  Thor’s quest for information about the Infinity Stones leads him to the fire demon Surtur, from whom he learns that his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been impersonating their father Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) since the Dark Elf conflict.  Surtur taunts Thor with knowledge of the coming Ragnarok, the foretold end of Asgard that Surtur will bring about when he unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns beneath the city, but Thor defeats Surtur and claims his crown, seemingly forestalling the prophecy.  And this is just 5 minutes into the film.  Thor then returns to Asgard and exposes Loki’s treachery, before travelling with him to Earth to recover Odin.  The story goes on and on with Thor’s eventually battle with his sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) and his saving of his people.  What is good about the script by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost is that it can be complicated that one can have a fine time dissecting the story, or one can totally ignore it and still enjoy the grandiose battles in the film.  Pearson ties into the picture a multiple of other action heroes that include the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Skurge (Karl Urban), Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) among others. 

A fair share of the budget must have gone into the CGI and special effects.  It shows!  The film looks amazing and is visually stunning.  The music is by Mark Mothersbaugh and the soundtrack is not too loud to give anyone a headache.

The film is predicted to  take in $100 million plus the opening weekend and to eventually gross domestically a goal of $250 million bringing Disney and Marvel a hefty profit.  So that it is a big win against the serious cineaste who basically can be told to take a hike.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?>

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Film Review: MANIFESTO (Australia/Germany 2016) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

manifesto.jpgCate Blanchett performs manifestos as a series of striking monologues.

Director: Julian Rosefeldt
Writer: Julian Rosefeldt
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Erika Bauer, Ruby Bustamante

Review by Gilbert Seah
 

 It is best to know the definition of the term MANIFESTO before seeing this movie. According to Wikipedia, a manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual’s life stance.

Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds.
The film integrates various types of artist manifestos from different time periods with contemporary scenarios. Manifestos are depicted by 13 different characters, among them a school teacher, factory worker, choreographer, punk, newsreader, scientist, puppeteer, widow, and a homeless man. All the characters are performed by 2-time Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett, as was envisioned to be performed by a female performer by German writer/director Julian Rosefeldt.

Visual artist Julian Rosefeldt crafts 13 distinct, vignettes that incorporate timeless manifestos from 20th century art movements weaving together history’s most impassioned artistic statements in this stunning and contemporary call to action.

From the press notes: “Art history is a derivation of history and we learn from history,” says Rosefeldt. “And in a time where neo-nationalist, racist and populist tendencies in politics and media threaten again democracies all over the world and challenge us to defend our allegedly achieved values of tolerance and respect, Manifesto becomes a clarion call for action.

There are a few scenes that though watchable, are difficult to make sense of. One best example is the one occurring right in the middle of the film where Blanchett plays a Russian diva choreographer. The segment begins with the tracking camera revealing several unconnected images including one with a man in a bear costume sitting on a bench with the head off. The camera then moves backstage and finally rests on the choreographer and assistant as she blurts out manifesto prose (while smoking a cigarette on a long cigarette holder, often flicking her ashes on her assistant’s clip board). The troupe she is choreographing perform magnificently, but she keeps screaming, in her Russian accent, words that often mean nothing in context.

Watching MANIFESTO is an art experience unless you enjoy sitting for days watching Cate Blanchett. Is this an intellectual experience? Maybe, if you have the patience to decipher what is happening on screen. But the film has been very well put together in all departments from sound to set design to writing and execution.

One has to pay careful attention and follow the logic and flow of the dialogue. Often too, after concentrating for a few minutes, listening to the poetry of words, the dialogue mean nothing – like the quips on dreams, children and worry. This is that rare film that one has to work to earn the pleasure, but it will be one definitely unforgotten.

Though made in 2015, the film originally premiered as a 13-channel film installation at the Australian Centre of the Moving Image. The 90-minute feature version premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk1HosLWM0o

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: VOYAGE OF TIME: LIFE’S JOURNEY (Germany 2016)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

voyage_of_time_lifes_journey_poster VOYAGE OF TIME: LIFE’S JOURNEY (Germany 2016) **
Directed by Terence Malick

Starring: Cate Blanchett

Review by Gilbert Seah

From the director of THE TREE OF LIFE, this film has Malick at his most personal, which might not be a film for everyone.

Many segments will only make sense to Malick. The film is reported to be a years-in-the-making ode to the wonder of creation. The wildly ambitious Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey, according to Malick, leads the audience on a temporal trip through the history of the universe.

The film begins with light and darkness and explosions interpreted to be the birth of stars and the evolution of life on Earth. The film is then set in the inky depths of the oceans, where incandescent creatures float in the darkness.

The poetic narration written by Malick is voiced by Cate Blanchett. But not all the segments are original.

Some like the funnel of thousands of small fish devoured by other bigger fish and diving birds have been shown on Disnyeworld films. Also warning: the soundtrack is crisp clear. Anyone eating popcorn can be heard. I had to tell the person behind me to stop eating!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVyWObJY9FQ

Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.

Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

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Happy Birthday: Cate Blanchett

cateblanchettHappy Birthday actor Cate Blanchett

Born: Catherine Elise Blanchett
May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Married to: Andrew Upton (29 December 1997 – present) (4 children)

2 time Oscar Winner

Reviews and pics of the best of the actor:

cate_blanchettTOP 20 CATE BLANCHETT Movies

videoWATCH – TOP 20 CATE BLANCHETT VIDEOS
MOVIE POSTEROSCAR AND LUCINDA
1997
dir. Gillian Armstrong
Stars:
Ralph Fiennes
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERELIZABETH
1997
dir. Shekhar Kapur
Stars:
Geoffrey Rush
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERAN IDEAL HUSBAND
1997
dir. Oliver Parker
Stars:
Rupert Everett
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERPUSHING TIN
1999
dir. Mike Newell
Stars:
John Cusack
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERTHE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
1999
dir. Anthony Minghella
Stars:
Matt Damon
Jude Law

MOVIE POSTERTHE GIFT
2000
dir. Sam Raimi

Stars:
Cate Blanchett
Katie Holmes
MOVIE POSTERTHE SHIPPING NEWS
2001
dir. Lasse Hallstrom
Stars:
Kevin Spacey
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERBANDITS
2001
dir. Barry Levinson
Stars:
Bruce Willis
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERCHARLOTTE GRAY
2001
dir. Gillian Armstrong
Stars:
James Fleet
Cate Blanchett

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2001
dir. Peter Jackson
Starring
Elijah Wood
THE TWO TOWERSLord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2002
dir. Peter Jackson
Starring
Sean Astin

MOVIE POSTERHEAVEN
2002
dir. Tom Tykwer
Stars:
Giovanni Ribisi
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERVERONICA GUERIN
2003
dir. Joel Schumacher
Stars:
Colin Farrell
Cate Blanchett

THE RETuRN OF THE KINGThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003
dir. Peter Jackson
COFFEE AND CIGARETTESCoffee and Cigarettes
2003
dir. Jim Jarmusch
Starring
Roberto Benigni
Cate Blanchett

The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
2004
dir. Wes Anderson
starring
Bill Murray
Blanchett
Aviator
2004
dir. Martin Scorsese
starring
Leonardo DiCaprio
Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERTHE GOOD GERMAN
2006
dir. Steven Soderbergh
Stars:
George Clooney
Cate Blanchett
MOVIE POSTERNOTES ON A SCANDAL
2006
dir. Richard Eyre
Stars:
Cate Blanchett
Judi Dench

MOVIE POSTERBABEL
2006
dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Stars:
Brad Pitt
Cate Blanchett
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
2007
Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Starring
Blanchett
Geoffrey Rush

I'M NOT THEREI’m Not There
2007
dir. Todd Haynes
Cast
Christian Bale
Blanchett
Benjamin ButtonThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2008
dir. David Fincher
Starring
Brad Pitt
Blanchett

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2008
dir. Steven Spielberg
Starring
Harrison Ford
Shia LaBeouf
PONYO Movie PosterPonyo
2009
dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Voices by
Blanchett
Matt Damon
Liam Neeson

ROBIN HOOD Movie PosterRobin Hood
2010
dir. Ridley Scott
Stars
Russell Crowe
Cate Blanchett
hannaHANNA
2011
dir. Joe Wright
Stars:
Saoirse Ronan
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERTHE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
2012
dir. Peter Jackson

Stars:
Martin Freeman
Ian McKellen
MOVIE POSTERTHE HOBBIT: The Desolation of Smaug
2013
dir. Peter Jackson

MOVIE POSTERBLUE JASMINE
2013
dir. Woody Allen
Stars:
Cate Blanchett
Alec Baldwin
MOVIE POSTERTHE MONUMENTS MEN
2013
dir. George Clooney
Stars:
Cate Blanchett
Matt Damon

MOVIE POSTERHOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
2014
dir. Dean DeBlois
Stars:
Jay Baruchel
America Ferrera

SEE TOP 100 CATE BLANCHETTS

and Andrew Upton

and Bill Murray

and Brad Pitt

and George Clooney

and Harrison Ford

and Husband

and Matt Damon

and Woody Allen

as Annie Wilson

as Bianca

as Bob Dylan

as Charlotte Gray

as Claire Simone

as Connie Falzone

as Daisy

as Galadriel

as Irina Spalko

as Jasmine

as Kate Wheeler

as Katharine Hepburn

as Lady Gertrude

as Lady Tremaine

as Lena Brandt

as Lucinda Leplastrier

as Magdalena Gilkeson

as Marion Loxley

as Marissa Wiegler

as Meredith Logue

as Nazi

as Petal

as Queen Elizabeth I

as Sheba Hart

as Susan Jones

Bald

Bangs

Bazaar

Beautiful

Black and White

Blonde Hair

Chin

Cleavage

Curly Hair

Dimples

Elle

Empire

Eyes

Face

Feet

Glasses

Hot

in An Ideal Husband

in Babel

in Bandits

in Benjamin Button

in Blue Jasmine

in Bordertown

in Cinderella

in Coffee and Cigarettes

in Elizabeth

in Elizabeth: The Golden Age

in Family Guy

in Hanna

in Heaven

in Hot Fuzz

in I’m Not There

in Indiana Jones

in Knight of Cups

in Little Fish

in Notes on a Scandal

in Oscar and Lucinda

in Philippa

in Pushing Tin

in Robin Hood

in The Aviator

in The Gift

in The Good German

in The Hobbit

in The Life Aquatic

in The Lord of the Rings

in The Missing

in The Mounuments Men

in The Shipping News

in The Talented Mr. Ripley

INStyle

Jewelry

Lips

Lipstick

Makeup

Naked

Nose

Purple Dress

Red Carpet

Red Hair

Sexy

Smile

Straight Hair

Vanity Fair

Vogue

Wallpaper

White Dress

Young