Tag Archives: Jeffrey Wright

Confirmation

IT ONLY TAKES ONE VOICE TO CHANGE HISTORY.

confirmationIn 1991, President Bush nominates Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) for the Supreme Court, but a law professor (Kerry Washington) steps forward, claiming that Thomas sexually harassed her. The Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas controversy is an epic he said-she said story where we still don’t know which one of them lied. The film walks a fine line, clearly on Hill’s side but still refusing to paint Thomas as guilty, instead attacking the Senate’s proceedings at a time when it was still largely a boys club. That part is interesting, and it’s fun watching Greg Kinnear do an OK Biden imitation, but on the whole the film is a bit ineffectual.

2016-U.S. Made for TV. Color. Directed by Rick Famuyiwa. Teleplay: Susannah Grant. Cast: Kerry Washington (Anita Hill), Wendell Pierce (Clarence Thomas), Greg Kinnear (Joe Biden), Jeffrey Wright, Zoe Lister-Jones, Grace Gummer… Treat Williams, Dylan Baker, Jennifer Hudson.

AVERAGE

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

THE REVOLUTION IS ABOUT ALL OF US.

hungergames4Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her allies prepare to liberate the people of Panem and defeat President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his troops once and for all. The fourth and final chapter in this franchise is largely an overblown war movie, with scenes that might remind audiences of Full Metal Jacket and Aliens. Far from a family-friendly experience, in spite of its PG-13 rating, the film does offer a lot of excitement in 3D (especially a scene where mutated animals attack) and a gruesome twist near the end that ups the stakes even more. Impressively staged, but less satisfying in its quieter, emotional moments.

2015-U.S. 137 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Francis Lawrence. Novel: Suzanne Collins. Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore… Sam Claflin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, Mahershala Ali.

Trivia: Hoffman’s last film.

5 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

FIRE BURNS BRIGHTER IN THE DARKNESS.

hungergames3After surviving another Hunger Game, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is in District 13 where the rebel leader, President Coin (Julianne Moore), wants to turn her into the Mockingjay, a symbol of the resistance. The third and fourth films in the franchise cut the last novel into two. A pointless decision creatively (as we know from earlier Harry Potter and Twilight examples), but this first part still makes everything work, as it skilfully brings emotional depth to a story that also has a lot of action. Once again it benefits from a strong performance by Lawrence, but Moore is also good as the rebel leader, unable to become the inspiration people need.

2014-U.S. 123 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Francis Lawrence. Novel: Suzanne Collins. Song: “Yellow Flicker Beat” (performed by Lorde). Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman… Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Jena Malone, Mahershala Ali.

Trivia: Released in 3D in selected areas. Jodie Foster was allegedly considered for a role. Followed by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015).

5 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Boardwalk Empire: Bringing Back the Booze

 

boardwalkempireThis period gangster show was created by a man who cut his teeth as a writer and producer on the seminal HBO mafia saga, The Sopranos (1999-2007). With lots of attention preceding its premiere, and the Emmy-winning pilot episode directed by none other than Martin Scorsese, it would be easy to just kneel before Boardwalk Empire and let it get away with anything. But that never happened. Over its five-season run, many critics found plenty to grumble about and after the series finale some of them waxed nostalgic about “what might have been”. Still, it was always better than that.

A real-life figure, Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, who became a powerful political boss and racketeer during the Roaring Twenties in Atlantic City, inspired Steve Buscemi’s character on this show. The story began in 1920 as Prohibition went into effect; when Atlantic City Treasurer “Nucky” Thompson gets into the bootlegging industry he starts dealing with men who will go on to become legendary gangsters in New York City and Chicago, including Arnold Rothstein, “Lucky” Luciano and Al Capone. “Nucky” is assisted by the sheriff, Eli (Shea Whigham), who is also his unreliable brother, and Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), a young war veteran with ambitions. At this time, “Nucky” is also taken by Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) who asks him to find a job for her abusive husband. As a a criminal empire is born, federal agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) comes a little too close for comfort…

Deserved to be seen on a big screen
Terence Winter and his team of writers delighted in staying as close to the look and feel of the Prohibition era as possible. Every new episode made you feel like this deserves to be seen on a big screen, from the smallest of costume details to grand shots of what the Atlantic City boardwalk looked like in those days, with “Nucky” taking strolls and receiving bows of reverence. There was a lot of ambition in how Winter’s team planned the structure and narration of the show, even to the extent that it was easy to lose interest because of the complicated relationships between characters, and the meticulous pacing. But those who stayed faithful were amply rewarded, especially in the last season where the writers tied everything together in a brilliant series of episodes that covered “Nucky’s” life in the Depression years as well as his rise to prominence in the late 1800s. Above all, the show was a relentless tragedy, revealing heartbreak, grief and mental illness in most of its characters. Among the most memorable were Van Alden, the religious agent who later ended up on the run, adopted an alias and became a bootlegger with no hope for redemption.

A streak of ruthlessness and sadness ran through many other characters, as if they and we fully expected a bloody outcome that seemed to be the only possible one; that was particularly true of Bobby Cannavale’s no-holds-barred portrayal of an outrageously cruel gangster in season three. This was indeed an outstanding cast, headed by Buscemi who evoked a sense of humor as well as world-weariness. Far from compelling at times, Boardwalk Empire still stands as one of few depictions of the Prohibition era that deliver thrills and eye-candy while also digging uncomfortably deep into the ugly psyches of those who made it so mythic. 

Boardwalk Empire 2010-2014:U.S. Made for TV. 56 episodes. Color. Created by Terence Winter. Cast: Steve Buscemi (Enoch “Nucky” Thompson), Michael Shannon (Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller), Shea Whigham (Elias “Eli” Thompson), Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Stuhlbarg, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Kelly Macdonald, Gretchen Mol, Paul Sparks, Michael Pitt (10-11), Jack Huston (10-13), Anthony Laciura (10-13),  Jeffrey Wright (13-14), Bobby Cannavale (12), Aleksa Palladino (10-11), Paz de la Huerta (10-11), Charlie Cox (11-12), Dabney Coleman (10-11), Ron Livingston (13).

Emmys: Outstanding Directing 10-11, 11-12; Supporting Actor (Cannavale) 12-13.

Last word: “What made it interesting for me is that I had just spent eight years of my career telling a story about the end of organized crime basically on ‘The Sopranos’, and this was literally the beginning of organized crime. Prohibition was the single event that made organized crime possible — it made millionaires out of criminals overnight — so it was really the chance to explore the flip side of ‘The Sopranos’. These are the events that conspired to create the world I had just spent the last eight years writing about… And the ability to do it as a long-running series, where you get to spend dozens of hours with these characters who were really in their infancy, was just irresistible. You get to meet young Al Capone before he became Al Capone. You get to meet a young Lucky Luciano and these guys still trying to figure out who they were.” (Winter, Esquire)

ABOVE AVERAGE

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

EVERY REVOLUTION BEGINS WITH A SPARK. 

hungergames2After winning the Hunger Games, tributes Katniss and Peeta (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson) inspire rebellions in several districts, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) comes up with a new version of the games. The sequel has a new director and a somewhat darker shade of colors, but it is also obvious that a successful formula is repeated. Still, the games in the film’s second half are exciting and handsomely staged; long, but fans get what they expect and the mechanics of a dictatorship are explored in effective ways. Good cast, with an ambiguous performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

2013-U.S. 146 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Francis Lawrence. Novel: Suzanne Collins. Song: “Atlas” (performed by Coldplay). Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman… Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci, Lennie Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Toby Jones, Jena Malone.  

Trivia: Followed by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014).

5 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Broken City

PROOF CAN BE A POWERFUL WEAPON.

brokencityFormer NYC cop turned private eye Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is hired by Mayor Nicholas Hofstetler (Russell Crowe) to spy on his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones); is she being unfaithful? As you might guess, there’s a lot more beneath the surface in the director’s first big picture without his brother Albert. Wahlberg and Crowe are solid as the investigator and the slick, soft-spoken but very authoritative mayor, but Zeta-Jones’s part is underwritten and the intricate political game where Taggart learns that he’s merely a pawn is contrived and lacks real tension.

2013-U.S. 109 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Allen Hughes. Cast: Mark Wahlberg (Billy Taggart), Russell Crowe (Nicholas Hostetler), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Cathleen Hostetler), Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler… Griffin Dunne. 

Trivia: Michael Fassbender was allegedly considered for the lead role.

6 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Source Code

MAKE EVERY SECOND COUNT.

sourcecodeArmy pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) learns that he’s been thrown into an alternative timeline where he’s bound to experience another person’s last eight minutes alive over and over until he can stop the bombing that killed the person. Director Duncan Jones’s Moon (2009) was an original piece of sci-fi; this one has an unconventional Groundhog Day-like concept, but its execution is fairly standard. There are touches of Hitchcock to the train ride that Colter is doomed to repeat and the film is both exciting and good-looking, with a solid lead performance, but it’s all a little too hard to swallow.

2011-U.S. 94 min. Color. Directed by Duncan Jones. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal (Colter Stevens), Michelle Monaghan (Christina Warren), Vera Farmiga (Colleen Goodwin), Jeffrey Wright, Brent Skagford, Cas Anvar.

Trivia: Topher Grace was allegedly considered for the lead role.

5 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Only Lovers Left Alive

onlyloversleftaliveAdam and Eve (Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton) are vampires who have been married for ages; during a stay in Tangier, Eve senses Adam’s depression and goes to see him in Detroit where he’s gained a reputation as an underground rock genius. When Jim Jarmusch makes a romantic film about vampires, the results are neither horror nor Twilight, but a slow, caring portrayal of love through the ages and a couple that has learned to respect life as well as the finer aspects of human culture. The two leads deliver understated, delicate performances. No story, but plenty of atmosphere; also works as a comment on Detroit’s decline.

2014-U.S.-Britain-Germany-France-Cyprus. 123 min. Color. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Cast: Tilda Swinton (Eve), Tom Hiddleston (Adam), Mia Wasikowska (Ava), John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright.

Trivia: Michael Fassbender was allegedly considered for a lead role. Jarmusch’s band Sqürl contributes music.

5 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Cadillac Records

FOLLOW THE BEAT TO ITS SOURCE.

cadillacrecordsIn 1940s Chicago, Polish immigrant and jazz club entrepreneur Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) gets involved with a record label and starts signing black artists that will change the history of rock ‘n’ roll… Darnell Martin’s chronicle of the rise and fall of Chess Records invites us into the lives, joys and sorrows of people like Muddy Waters and Etta James (both very well played by Jeffrey Wright and Beyoncé Knowles, who also do their own singing) and shows how South Side violence threatened the company. Bites off a lot to chew, but Martin can handle it well enough, and the music is skillfully recreated.

2008-U.S. 108 min. Color. Widescreen. Written and directed by Darnell Martin. Music: Terence Blanchard. Song: “Once in a Lifetime” (performed by Beyoncé Knowles). Cast: Adrien Brody (Leonard Chess), Jeffrey Wright (Muddy Waters), Beyoncé Knowles (Etta James), Gabrielle Union, Cedric the Entertainer, Columbus Short… Mos Def, Eric Bogosian. Cameo: Vincent D’Onofrio.

Trivia: Co-executive produced by Knowles. Matt Dillon was allegedly first considered for the role of Chess.

5 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Presumed Innocent

ATTRACTION. DESIRE. DECEPTION. MURDER. NO ONE IS EVER COMPLETELY INNOCENT.

 

presumedinnocentWhen a prosecutor (Greta Scacchi) is found raped and murdered in her apartment, a colleague (Harrison Ford) takes charge of the investigation… even though he had an affair with her. Alan J. Pakula’s first thriller since the 1970s is reminiscent of those films, with an unholy combination of paranoia and corruption in its portrayal of the judicial system. We also remain uncertain of whether Ford had anything to do with the murder or not right up until the (very intense) denouement. The dark cinematography and melancholic music score lend the movie a tragic tone. Ford is very effective in the lead and supported by a strong cast, including Bonnie Bedelia and Scacchi as his women.

1990-U.S. 127 min. Color. Produced by Sydney Pollack, Mark Rosenberg. Directed by Alan J. Pakula. Screenplay: Alan J. Pakula, Frank Pierson. Novel: Scott Turow. Cinematography: Gordon Willis. Music: John Williams. Cast: Harrison Ford (Rozat “Rusty” Sabich), Brian Dennehy (Raymond Horgan), Raul Julia (Alejandro “Sandy” Stern), Bonnie Bedelia, Paul Winfield, Greta Scacchi… John Spencer, Jeffrey Wright.

Trivia: Some of the characters returned in the miniseries The Burden of Proof (1992) and the TV movie Innocent (2011).

Last word: “Well, I think one of the blessings that I’ve had in watching, you know, films be made now from four of my books is to realize that it’s a separate thing. It’s a separate work. You know, I really believe that the movie will never be as good as the book, both because the book goes on longer – a movie is basically an abridgment of a book – and because books are internal. But they are incredibly powerful. The visual format is, you know, amazing. And it’s true that after Harrison played Rusty Sabich so well, when I thought about Rusty Sabich I saw Harrison’s face.” (Turow, NPR)

4 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Chicago 10

SPEAK YOUR PEACE.

 

This is undeniably an original way to tell the story of the Chicago Eight and their lawyers. Director Brett Morgen’s partially animated documentary portrays the chaos surrounding the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago where police and protesters clashed violently in Grant Park, but it also dramatizes the subsequent trial against some of the movement’s leaders, based on court records. The filmmakers have an eye for the absurd, especially in the trial where the age difference between the judge and the defendants becomes painfully obvious. Entertaining, and the voices are well cast, but the severe impact of these events are not lost either as the filmmakers point out several instances where both the police and the judge helped fuel hostilities.

2008-U.S. Part Animated. 110 min. Color. Produced by Graydon Carter, Lewis Kofsky, Brett Morgen. Written and directed by Brett Morgen. Voices of Hank Azaria (Abbie Hoffman/Allen Ginsberg), Dylan Baker (David Dellinger/David Stahl), Mark Ruffalo (Jerry Rubin), Roy Scheider, Nick Nolte, Liev Schreiber… Jeffrey Wright.

Last word: “I didn’t want to make a valentine to the important events of the 1960s. I didn’t want to make a movie about a bunch of people talking about how great they were back then, and how meek and apolitical Americans are today. I decided, let’s do it in a language kids understand, and let’s do it without talking heads and a narrator and all the other trappings of non-fiction works.” (Morgen, EmanuelLevy.com)

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Some time after the death of his father (Tom Hanks) at 9/11, young Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) finds a key inside an envelope marked with the word “Black”, and embarks on a quest to find the right “Black”. Considering the talent involved here, this is a huge disappointment, especially from a director who made The Hours (2002) work so beautifully. The story about a boy dealing with grief after 9/11 has good moments (especially a scene with Jeffrey Wright), but is awfully burdened by its many contrivances; the boy’s precociousness is also tough to take.

2011-U.S. 129 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Stephen Daldry. Screenplay: Eric Roth. Novel: Jonathan Safran Foer. Music: Alexandre Desplat. Cast: Tom Hanks (Thomas Schell), Sandra Bullock (Linda Schell), Thomas Horn (Oskar Schell), Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman… James Gandolfini, Jeffrey Wright.

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

The Ides of March

AMBITION SEDUCES. POWER CORRUPTS.

 

idesofmarchShortly ahead of a Democratic presidential primary in Ohio, Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris’s (George Clooney) junior campaign manager (Ryan Gosling) learns a few lessons about the difference between ideology and politics. Clooney and his crew expanded Beau Willimon’s play (which was based on the 2004 Howard Dean campaign) and turns it into an exciting and relevant portrayal of innocence lost. Brilliantly cast throughout; Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti make the most out of their seasoned, cynical campaign operatives and Clooney is the right person to play this governor. Well-directed, but its central conflict is a little too familiar.

2011-U.S. 101 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Brian Oliver. Directed by George Clooney. Screenplay: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon. Play: Beau Willimon (“Farragut North”). Cast: Ryan Gosling (Stephen Meyers), George Clooney (Mike Morris), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Paul Zara), Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei… Jeffrey Wright.

Trivia: Co-executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, who was originally considered for the lead role. Several real-life media personalities play themselves.

Last word: “I suppose if you’re a Democrat you’ll like the beginning of the movie best, and if you’re a Republican you’ll like the end best. It walks that line of picking on everybody. If it is a political movie, it’s a political movie without pressing a specific agenda, and that was what was important to us.” (Clooney, Emanuel Levy)

4 kopia

 

IMDb

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)