Film Review: TULIP FEVER (UK 2016) **

tulip fever.jpgAn artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.

Director: Justin Chadwick
Writers: Deborah Moggach (screenplay), Tom Stoppard (screenplay)
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell

Review by Gilbert Seah

The press is having a field day with the news of the new film TULIP FEVER based on a scandalous affair set in 17th Century Amsterdam. When the film critics were asked to sign an embargo for their reviews to appear no earlier that 1 pm of Friday, the film’s opening day, something must be afloat. The film was expiated to be awful. In addition, rumours were going around that TULIP EVER had been siting on the shelves for 3 years.

To be fair to the film, the film was in production in 2014 and the film was scheduled for a 2016 release. So, the film was on the shelf for a year and not 3. As for the embargo, the studios have their reasons. The film is not that bad, though it is not that good either. Despite the film’s flaws, it is quite watchable and pleasant viewing.

For one, the film has an impressive cast that includes Oscar Winner Judi Dench, hardly recognizable in cloister apparel. She is the Abbess who specializes in growing tulips. The film also stars rising start Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell and Christoph Waltz. This is Waltz in his strangest role not as an antagonizer but as a victim of various plots. DeHaan, who has become quite the household name now with this third big expensive flop in a row after A CURE FOR WELLNESS (in turn quite a good film despite flopping at the box-office) and the same could be said for VALERIAN.

The film is told from the point of view and voiceover of a maid, Maria (Holly Grainger). She works hard for her mistress Sophia (Vikander) who was bought from the orphanage for a wealthy Cornelis (Waltz) who is desperate to have a son. Maria has an affair with a fishmonger (O’Connell) who delvers fish to the household. Sophia has an affair with a painter, Van Loos (DeHaan) behind Cornelis’ back. When Maria becomes pregnant ,s he blackmails her mistress as she knows of Sophia’s affair with Van Loos. Sophia decides to have Maria’s baby as her own to fool her husband. Complications arise in this complicated tale of deceit, with tulip truing brought into the picture.

It is are to market a film in which those who plot and have various affairs flourish and the poor faithful and believing husband doesn’t. He ends up, forgiving his transgressors and even grating them his residence.

The film is set in Holland, in the 17th century when tulips were the talk of the town. Business people were trading on tulips, very similar to the stock market at present. As expected, while many may make their fortunes, oner less fortunate ones stand to lose everything.

TULIP FEVER benefits from an interesting though hardly credible story. The period setting in Amsterdam helps too, despite the film shot totally in English with largely English and European actors. TULIP FEVER ends up an interesting failure. It costs only $25 million to make, so it might just make a little profit.


Happy Birthday: Jack O’Connell

jackoconnellJack O’Connell

Born: August 1, 1990 in Derby, England, UK

What’s important to me is the longevity. I want to create a body of work that is entertaining and speaks to people for a long time. Longer than my life span. They’re the real goals for me as an actor, not the fame side of things.




dir. Noam Murro
Sullivan Stapleton
Rodrigo Santoro

HARRY BROWN Movie PosterHarry Brown
dir. Daniel Barber
Michael Caine
Eden Lake
Directed by James Watkins
Kelly Reilly
Michael Fassbender
THIS IS ENGLANDThis is England
dir. Shane Meadows
Thomas Turgoose
Stephen Graham


Movie Review: MONEY MONSTER (USA 2016) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:

moneymonster.jpgMONEY MONSTER (USA 2016) ****
Directed by Jodie Foster

Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito

Review by Gilbert Seah

MONEY MONSTER is a star-studded sharp Hollywood satire/drama that is as current as the stock prices on the stock market charts. Financial TV personality Lee Gates (George Clooney), who offers up stock advice on his hit show “Money Monster”, is held hostage by a viewer, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’ Connell). Kyle had lost all of his money, following a bad tip from Lee during his show. Kyle wants answers. As the police surround the TV studio, Lee eventually sympathizes and takes Kyle’s side in discovering the truth about the company’s $800 million loss explained on TV as a glitch in the company’s financial algorithm.

MONEY MONSTER is a odd film in that its middle portion is better than the end. The story is predictable enough once naive Kyle takes Lee hostage. It does not take a genius to figure out that Lee will take Kyle’s side and that the villain of the piece is the CEO of the company (Dominic West) who eventually confesses to his embezzlement. But as they say, the devil is in the details. It is all the little observations and various incidents that make the movie totally watchable thus covering up the predictability complaint of the story.

Directed by Jodie Foster (THE PANIC ROOM), the film contains strong feminine roles. The most obvious is Julia Robert’s Patty Fenn, a more than able producer. She is Lee’s neglected girlfriend who proves she that she is able to control the hostage situation as well as their relationship. The other is that of Molly (Emily Meade), Kyle’s girlfriend. Molly’s speech to Kyle, on the air, on how much a loser he is, is the arguably funniest to be found in a film this year: As in recent ‘female’ films, the males (Lee, Kyle, the show producer, Walt) are all egocentric ‘idiots’. But by putting them up high on the pedestal and making it all funny, Foster gets away with it.

Performances are top notch. Clooney and Roberts work their chemistry but top marks go to Brit actor Jack O’ Connell (STARRED UP) , playing the straight role of the victim/antagonist. He demonstrates how to keep attention from waning even when the limelight shifts to another character. The other supporting roles are well performed by Dominic West as the financial villain, Walt Camby and Caitriona Balfe as Diane Lester, the whistle blower.

The incidents leading to the expected results are however genuinely inventive. The parody on found footage is take up another level with a network camera following the hostage and kidnapper down the elevator and into the street, still shooting. Lee raps on stage and offers stock tips also satirizes the financial world well. The script by Alan Di Fiore, Jim Kouf and Jamie Linden is smart enough to include clips of “The View” as everyone watches the takedown on television. Walt’s defence statement that all these would not have happened if events had worked out with the stock going up instead of down rings so true. When something illegal occurs and everyone benefits, no one says anything.

For a thriller, editing is crucial. The camera shots of the snipers crawling into position, the movement of the target, the shots of the crew behind and in front of the camera and the dance routine (to show just enough but not too much) are close to perfect.

MONEY MONSTER ultimately satisfies as it delivers what it is supposed to – a sharp and witty satire on the financial world that is both funny and smart at the same time. It features Hollywood’s top and upcoming stars at their best. Highly recommended – take this as as a movie tip!

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out:

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: