Tag Archives: James Nesbitt

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

THE DEFINING CHAPTER. 

hobbit3The dragon Smaug flies to Esgaroth to destroy the town, but greater challenges await in the shape of a coming battle for Lonely Mountain. The final part of this trilogy is the shortest film Peter Jackson ever made about the Middle-Earth, but maybe that’s because it is so completely dominated by that five-army battle. Often brilliantly executed in 3D, there’s still a certain sense of emptiness lingering, a clear sign of the padding that has haunted the whole trilogy. Still, it’s interesting to see how darker the film is compared to the first one, and how lovingly and cleverly it sets up the Lord of the Rings series.

2014-U.S.-New Zealand. 144 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Peter Jackson. Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens. Novel: J.R.R. Tolkien. Song: “The Last Goodbye” (performed by Billy Boyd). Cast: Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly… James Nesbitt, Billy Connolly, Stephen Fry, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mikael Persbrandt.

Trivia: Also released in a 164-min. version.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

FROM THE SMALLEST BEGINNINGS COME THE GREATEST LEGENDS.

Gandalf the wizard (Ian McKellen) convinces a hobbit, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), to join his party of 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim a treasure that was stolen by a mighty dragon. Set sixty years before the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson’s grand return to the same territory (now in 3D) feels more like a dreary afterthought. Benefits from Freeman’s charming performance, a few truly engaging scenes (the stone giants, Gollum’s guessing game), but a little too cute, insanely protracted, and the 48 fps format makes the film look a bit cheap.

2012-U.S.-New Zealand 169 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Peter Jackson. Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens. Novel: J.R.R. Tolkien. Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie. Music: Howard Shore. Cast: Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Sylvester McCoy… Barry Humphries, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Trivia: Del Toro was originally considered for directing duties. The first major release to be filmed in the 48 fps format. Also released in a 183-min version. Followed by two sequels, starting with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).

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Coriolanus

Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

As food riots shake Rome, the fiercely independent Caius Martius (Ralph Fiennes) squares off with the Volscian army and its leader (Gerard Butler); after being hailed as a hero, Martius is soon betrayed. The first feature film adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy is also Fiennes’s directing debut. His passion as an actor (and filmmaker) shines through this project, which is set in the present but maintains most of the original dialogue. Intense and bloody, the movie sometimes struggles with its own ponderousness, but has a great Vanessa Redgrave performance and effectively plants a third world conflict in a Western society.

2012-Britain. 122 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Ralph Fiennes, John Logan, Gabrielle Tana, Julia Taylor-Stanley, Colin Vaines. Directed by Ralph Fiennes. Screenplay: John Logan. Play: William Shakespeare. Cast: Ralph Fiennes (Caius Martius), Gerard Butler (Tullus Aufidius), Vanessa Redgrave (Volumnia), Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain, John Kani… James Nesbitt.

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Bloody Sunday: A Date in Infamy

 

bloodysundayPaul Greengrass has quickly become one of the finest directors in the first decade of the 21st century for his ability to make reality-based dramas that look like documentaries but have the kind of tension that is usually created in Hollywood’s finest thrillers. He first showed his knack for it in this film, a dramatization of the landmark event that helped strengthen the IRA and became one of the British army’s most embarrassing moments. It also inspired U2 to write one of their most famous songs, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. It may sound like a simple thing, but the tune has become a stirring symbol for The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

On Sunday, January 30, 1972, thousands of civil rights protesters in Derry began a peaceful demonstration led by Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt), a Member of Parliament of Northern Ireland. Cooper wanted to show the Brits, and the IRA, that non-violence was the ticket to independence for Northern Ireland. British troops stood by, prepared to quell any outburst of violence. Things quickly got out of hand. Young protesters broke off from the march and started pelting stones at the army barricades and the military responded with the expected rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. There were rumors of IRA snipers and the order to fire live rounds was eventually given, resulting in one protester being shot dead as he ran for his life. That only served to increase hostilities between the soldiers and the protesters and parachuters started firing indiscriminately into the fleeing crowds. All in all, 26 protesters were shot and 13 of them died (a fourteenth victim succumbed later). The army subsequently stated that the soldiers only acted in self-defense, firing at IRA activists who were armed and carried nail bombs. However, no bullets or bombs were found and no soldiers were injured. To this day, the army is widely considered to carry the sole responsibility for these deaths, but the British government won’t recognize it.

Sticking to the facts
Forgive me if that last statement sounds like I’m definitely assigning blame, but it’s hard not to. Director Greengrass nevertheless does an admirable job of sticking to the facts – that’s all he needs to show how individual parachuters lost their cool and started killing people for no reason, and how their officers lacked the courage and ability to control the situation. The film also shows how intimidating a crowd of thousands can be – not that that’s an excuse. The filmmakers truly take us to this place and time and put us smack in the middle of events (not least thanks to Ivan Strasburg’s shaky camera and gloomy January cinematography) making us feel the fear, anger and sense of hopelessness that these people must have felt on that fateful day. Some viewers might dislike the initial confusion, but the bits and pieces create an overwhelming whole.

The film ends with Cooper at the press conference where he stated that the British government now has given the IRA its biggest victory with the destruction of the civil rights movement. Greengrass’s film has the power to make the government take responsibility for what it did in 1972. It could still happen.

Bloody Sunday 2002-Britain-Ireland. 110 min. Color. Produced by Mark Redhead. Written and directed by Paul Greengrass. Cinematography: Ivan Strasburg. Cast: James Nesbitt (Ivan Cooper), Tim Pigott-Smith (Robert Ford), Nicholas Farrell (Patrick Maclellan), Gerard McSorley, Kathy Kiera Clarke.

Trivia: The film was shown on British and Irish TV the same night as it also opened in theaters, thereby ruining any chances of being nominated for Oscars. Co-executive produced by Jim Sheridan.

Berlin: Golden Bear.

Quote: “I just want to say this to the British Government… You know what you’ve just done, don’t you? You’ve destroyed the civil rights movement, and you’ve given the IRA the biggest victory it will ever have. All over this city tonight, young men… boys will be joining the IRA, and you will reap a whirlwind.” (Nesbitt at the press conference)

Last word: “I would not have done this film had I not thought it was a truthful account of what happened that day. I realized very quickly that Greengrass was trying to make a film in the spirit of reconciliation.” (Nesbitt, SF Gate)

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