Tag Archives: Shia LaBeouf

One Week with Trump: Enough Already

Last night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards was full of impassioned, political speeches defying the despotic new President of the United States and the havoc he has wreaked the past week. Just watch the amazing clip above where the Stranger Things cast have gathered to accept the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. Co-star David Harbour is on fire as he rallies “freaks and outcasts” to battle this new threat against America. Considering the pain Donald Trump has brought to his nation in a week, and the anger he has stirred, just imagine what the Oscars will be like come February 26th.

In fact, the Oscars outrage has already begun. President Trump’s illogical, cruel, racist and clumsily conceived ban against Muslims from seven countries a few days ago has caused widespread protests all over the country and abroad. More damage has been done to America’s standing in shorter time than even George W. Bush thought was possible and the morale of ISIS fighters and homegrown terrorists has likely been boosted.

One of the countries that Trump or whoever runs America these days selected was Iran, meaning that the distinguished filmmaker Asghar Farhadi ran the risk of not being let into the United States to attend the Oscars where his film The Salesman is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Farhadi has now told the Academy that he won’t come even if the Trump regime would let him. In the interview above, Farhadi talks about what it’s like to work as a director in Iran.

In a statement to The New York Times, Farhadi refused to bow to hardliners – in Iran and the United States:

Hard-liners, despite their nationalities, political arguments and wars, regard and understand the world in very much the same way. In order to understand the world, they have no choice but to regard it via an “us and them” mentality, which they use to create a fearful image of “them” and inflict fear in the people of their own countries. This is not just limited to the United States; in my country hardliners are the same.

He’s a brave man, especially in the way he opposes the dark forces in Iran. But he’s correct to point out the danger of Trump. Iranians know authoritarianism when they see it.

Of course, others are significantly more hurt by Trump’s policies than Farhadi. But he is famous around the world, has already won an Oscar (for A Separation (2011)), and this should be embarrassing to the regime in Washington D.C. I’m not sure they understand, they are after all immune to facts, but this crisis certainly rallies not just liberal forces but Hollywood in particular –  as well as the powerful tech sector in Silicon Valley that sees its businesses already hurt by the megalomaniacal president. It’s all very bad PR.

At the same time, Shia LaBeouf, bless his heart, has turned his art projects into a massive protest against Donald Trump, as always inviting controversy along the way. A few days ago, CNN reported that the actor was arrested after getting in a scuffle in front of the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. At least people are getting actively involved against this regime.

Everything moves frighteningly fast now, but we see resistance all over the place. Trump has united Mexicans who rally behind their President against the border wall. More than one million Brits have signed a petition against Trump’s coming state visit, guaranteeing Prime Minister Theresa May a lot of well-deserved headache to come. In the BBC clip above, former Labour leader Ed Miliband go after both May and Trump with great fervour. The President’s attacks against the independent media, The New York Times in particular, keep securing new subscriptions for them (I bought one yesterday), grassroots activism is on the rise and many Republicans are secretly embarrassed and worried about where their country is headed. It’s only been one week, but Trump’s disapproval rating is already over 50 per cent according to Gallup, which is historic for a fresh presidency.

So much damage has been done – but probably not enough for clueless Trump voters to notice. Most of it has been done to America’s security; the economy hasn’t been affected yet. All in due time, I guess.

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American Honey

americanhoneyStar (Sasha Lane) meets the charismatic Jake (Shia LaBeouf) by chance, is immediately intrigued and joins his free-spirited band of magazine sellers. Andrea Arnold’s first film to be shot in the U.S. takes in all the sights of rural America in its epic portrait of wayward youth and poverty. As in her Fish Tank (2009), focus lies on a teenager (a very strong performance by an amateur) who follows her instincts even if they lead her astray; Star’s easily impressed, but compassionate. Clearly a labor of love from a truly committed filmmaker, but one’s interest in Star’s journey wavers over a very long running time.

2016-Britain-U.S. 163 min. Color. Written and directed by Andrea Arnold. Cinematography: Robbie Ryan. Cast: Sasha Lane (Star), Shia LaBeouf (Jake), Arielle Holmes (Pagan), Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi, Crystal B. Ice… Will Patton.

Cannes: Jury Prize.

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Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

THE EVOLUTION OF DUMB…

dumbdumbererIn 1986, Lloyd and Harry (Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson) become best friends in high school and are drawn into a conspiracy involving the principal (Eugene Levy). The Farrelly brothers had nothing to do with this prequel to Dumb & Dumber (1994), and you can tell that it’s just a cheap knockoff. And I’m not primarily talking about the young actors who are unfortunate enough to follow in Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’s footprints. Boring story, and every joke (often relying on word puns) falls flat.

2003-U.S. 85 min. Color. Directed by Troy Miller. Cast: Eric Christian Olsen (Lloyd Christmas), Derek Richardson (Harry Dunne), Rachel Nichols (Jessica Matthews), Cheri Oteri, Luis Guzmán, Elden Henson… Mimi Rogers, Eugene Levy, Shia LaBeouf.

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A Troublemaker Turns 30

The clip above is one of the many weird things we think about these days when someone mentions Shia LaBeouf. We don’t really think of his movies or acting anymore, just crazy stunts. Tomorrow, he turns 30 years old. Congrats are in order, and let’s take a look at what he’s been up to – and what he’s doing now. At least in terms of movies.

LaBeouf broke through to a wider audience in Disturbia and Transformers (2007); his boyish charm elevated both films and continued to be an asset in several later movies. LaBeouf has always shown great talent in different ways, performing as a standup comedian at the age of ten, and creating comic books. And he’s into performance art. He got a lot of attention for his behavior in the following clip, from the 2014 Berlin film festival:

He abruptly left the stage, quoting Eric Cantona, and then showed up on the red carpet with a paper bag over his head. After a few other similar performances it became apparent that LaBeouf was trying to make a statement about himself, his career and fame in the Internet age. He did it in many different ways, jumping rope on Skype, giving lectures, arranging for skywriting over Los Angeles, among other things. The clip starting this entry is from November last year when LaBeouf live-streamed himself watching his own movies for 10 whole hours. Vulture put together some of his best reactions, which is an amusing read.

All of this was perhaps confusing to mainstream audiences, especially since they had gotten used to LaBeouf appearing mostly in typical blockbuster fodder, not art cinema. Soon, it became hard to separate the stunts from his various legal troubles, involving trespassing, assault, disorderly conduct and drunk driving.

LaBeouf’s upcoming films show an increasing interest in acting projects that are more out of the ordinary. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey was shown in Cannes and got quite some acclaim. And he’s set to play tennis legend John McEnroe in the Swedish Borg vs. McEnroe. LaBeouf has some Scandinavian experience after appearing in Lars von Trier’s Nymph()maniac films. And I’m sure he has more ideas for performance art. We’ll say this about Shia – he’s not dull.

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Nymph()maniac: Vol. II

nymphomaniaciiJoe’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) story of her days as a nymphomaniac continues, and we learn that her experiences became increasingly desperate… Darker in tone than Vol. I, this one has a grisly abortion scene, some bloody BDSM action and silly adventures among gangsters. What started out as a mildly intriguing project turns very unpleasant, with pretensions that are hard to swallow. Lars von Trier ends it by simply spelling out how we should interpret Joe, much of it rehashed from other movies he’s made.

2013-Denmark-Germany-Belgium-France-Britain. 123 min. Color. Widescreen. Written and directed by Lars von Trier. Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg (Joe), Stellan Skarsgård (Seligman), Stacy Martin (Young Joe), Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Willem Dafoe… Jean-Marc Barr, Udo Kier, Christian Slater.

Trivia: Released simultaneously as Nymph()maniac: Vol. I. The full uncensored cut runs 180 min.

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Nymph()maniac: Vol. I

FORGET ABOUT LOVE.

nymphomaniac1When Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) lying beaten up near his apartment, he brings her home and starts listening to her story; at a very early age she realized that she was a nymphomaniac… What was more or less described as Lars von Trier’s stab at full-blown pornography has its share of graphic sex, and is intriguing at first. Partly for the potential of the story and its complex portrait of a troubled woman, partly for its philosophical ambition. Well acted, but in the end not terribly interesting or shocking. But there’s a Vol. II… 

2013-Denmark-Germany-Belgium-France-Britain. 118 min. Color-B/W. Widescreen. Written and directed by Lars von Trier. Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg (Joe), Stellan Skarsgård (Seligman), Stacy Martin (Young Joe), Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman… Connie Nielsen.

Trivia: Nicole Kidman and Liam Hemsworth were allegedly considered for roles. Released simultaneously as Nymph()maniac: Vol. II. The full uncensored cut runs 145 min.

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Fury

WAR NEVER ENDS QUIETLY.

furyAs U.S. forces make their final push into Germany in April 1945, tank commander Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) and his veteran crew are saddled with a fresh-faced typist (Logan Lerman) as new bow gunner. After several brutal cop movies, David Ayer turned his attention to World War II and the results are not altogether different – this is also a movie that portrays male camaraderie on a frontline where lives are easily lost. A thin story and relentlessly grim; the filmmakers go to great muddy and bloody lengths to hammer home their points. Still, an oddly fascinating nightmare, and the cast delivers, especially Pitt.

2014-U.S. 134 min. Color. Widescreen. Written and directed by David Ayer. Cast: Brad Pitt (Don “Wardaddy” Collier), Shia LaBeouf (Boyd “Bible” Swan), Logan Lerman (Norman Ellison), Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Jim Parrack… Jason Isaacs.

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The Greatest Hits of 2014

It’s time for that annual list of this year’s highly anticipated Hollywood films. Here’s 2014 for ya.

JANUARY:

* Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – This reboot of Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst cum action hero has Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh (who’s also directing), but the trailer disturbingly shows another variation on the Jason Bourne concept.

* Labor Day – Jason Reitman returns, aided by Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. Unfortunately, what looked like a promising drama has now been dumped in the frigid January slot.

FEBRUARY:

* The Monuments Men – George Clooney directs this story about museum curators and art historians trying to rescue vital pieces of art before Hitler gets his hands on them. Starring Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Daniel Craig. Originally slated for a late 2013 release.

* RoboCop – The remake has Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman. One vital question remains: What’s the point?

Also interesting to note this month: Kevin Costner and Liam Neeson will clash in 3 Days to Kill and Non-Stop, two action thrillers that look pretty similar in style and tone. One likely hit will be Son of God, a movie based on material from The Bible as well as previously unseen footage.

MARCH:

* The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson’s new movie has a star-studded cast and an intriguing story set between the world wars.

* Grace of Monaco – Another movie originally slated for a late 2013 release, this one is hopefully better than Diana. Nicole Kidman plays the princess.

* Muppets Most Wanted – The Muppets return for a jewel-heist caper. Lots of star cameos, as expected.

* Noah – One can’t help but being intrigued by a Darren Aronofsky movie about the biblical hero. Stars Russell Crowe, and the trailer has Gladiator-esque qualities.

APRIL:

* Captain America: The Winter Soldier – A summer of big blockbusters begins with this Marvel sequel.

 

Sabotage – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to movies has been largely tongue in cheek, but the trailer for this film, directed by David Ayer of End of Watch fame, suggests a different approach.

* Transcendence – Johnny Depp stars in this sci-fi flick about a scientist who downloads his mind into a computer. Directing debut of cinematographer and Christopher Nolan loyalist Wally Pfister.

MAY:

* The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – The sequel looks like it might have the same problems as the first one. On the other hand, the first one was surprisingly good.

* Godzilla – Looks like a tired retread on paper, but director Gareth Edwards and the cast might make a difference. The trailer has the right look.

* X-Men: Days of Future Past – Bryan Singer tries to unite two franchise threads. Let’s hope it’s better than Star Trek Generations (1994).

JUNE:

* Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise fighting aliens. Again. Directed by Doug Liman.

* How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Could become the animated hit of the summer. DreamWorks will be anxious to make sure that the sequel matches the wonderful original.

* Transformers: Age of Extinction – The last time I made the mistake of giving Michael Bay the benefit of a doubt. This time I’m sure Mark Wahlberg will be lost in a flurry of incomprehensible battles.

JULY:

* Tammy – Melissa McCarthy puts her stardom to the ultimate test, being directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, in a summer blockbuster comedy that has Susan Sarandon playing her alcoholic grandmother.

* Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – The sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) has Gary Oldman (but Andy Serkis is still the star). Directed by Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame.

* Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowski Siblings return after Cloud Atlas (2012) with another sci-fi movie, this one starring Mila Kunis.

AUGUST:

* Guardians of the Galaxy – Marvel strikes back with another adventure, this one starring among others Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

* Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s follow-up to their 2005 movie. Postponed for a year after its original 2013 release date. Hardly promising.

* The Expendables 3 – I’ll mention this simply because Mel Gibson plays the villain and the cast also has Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer. I guess it has to be seen to be believed.

As a Swede, I have to highlight two world-famous fellow Swedes this month: Lasse Hallström is set to release The Hundred-Foot Journey, a film about an Indian family competing with a Michelin-starred restaurant in France, starring Helen Mirren, and Alexander Skarsgård who’s starring alongside Meryl Streep in Phillip Noyce’s sic-fi drama The Giver.

SEPTEMBER:

* The Equalizer – Another TV show gets a movie adaptation, this one directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington.

OCTOBER:

* Gone Girl – David Fincher adapted the bestseller, with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris set to put the screen ablaze.

* Get On Up – James Brown is the latest music star to get a proper screen biography. Directed by Tate Taylor (of The Help) and starring Chadwick Boseman.

NOVEMBER: 

* Interstellar – Christopher Nolan returns with one of the year’s most highly anticipated sci-fi films. Starring Matthew McConaughey, who’s clearly continuing his current brilliant streak.

* Dumb and Dumber To – Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return after 20 years. Are they getting any smarter?

* Fury – Another film by David Ayer this year (after Sabotage), a war movie set near the end of World War II. Stars Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf.

* The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Francis Lawrence directs this complex endeavor, where author Suzanne Collins’s book has been chopped into two chapters.

DECEMBER:

* Exodus – Ridley Scott mounts a comeback after the creative abyss known as The Counselor. This biblical epic, starring Christian Bale, looks more like Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

* The Hobbit: There and Back Again – The third and final chapter in Peter Jackson’s insanely protracted franchise

* Annie – Another movie adaptation of the Broadway hit, this time featuring Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis.

* Into the Woods – The Brothers Grimm fairy tales are presented with a twist in this film, directed by Rob Marshall, and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp.

* Unbroken – Angelina Jolie is set to direct this World War II story, which is based on a best-selling book and adapted by the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.

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The Company You Keep

companyyoukeepAfter the arrest of a former Weather Underground activist (Susan Sarandon) who’d been a fugitive for the last 30 years, reporter Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) turns his attention to a seemingly honest Albany lawyer (Robert Redford). The 1970s terror organization is portrayed in rather simple fashion as consisting of essentially decent people who made undeniable mistakes in their attempts to fight the power. A soft approach, seen in other Hollywood films, and this one has nothing new to say. However, the rich cast of old pros delivers and the basic story is reasonably engaging to follow.

2013-U.S.-Canada. 121 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Robert Redford. Novel: Neil Gordon. Cast: Robert Redford (Jim Grant/Nick Sloan), Shia LaBeouf (Ben Shepard), Julie Christie (Mimi Lurie), Terrence Howard, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte… Brendan Gleeson, Susan Sarandon, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci.

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Lawless

WHEN THE LAW BECAME CORRUPT, OUTLAWS BECAME HEROES. 

Three brothers (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke), who run a small bootlegging operation in Virginia during Prohibition, are targeted by a corrupt District Attorney and his ruthless enforcer (Guy Pearce). Based on a real-life story, which was chronicled by Jack Bondurant’s grandson Matt in a novel, this gangster movie has strong performances by Hardy as the grunting, virtually indestructible older brother and Pearce as the creepy agent with no eyebrows, the opposite of Eliot Ness. The story is bloody and engaging, but why hire Gary Oldman for such a small role?

2012-U.S. 115 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by John Hillcoat. Screenplay: Nick Cave. Novel: Matt Bondurant (“The Wettest County in the World”). Music: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis. Cast: Shia LaBeouf (Jack Bondurant), Tom Hardy (Forrest Bondurant), Gary Oldman (Floyd Banner), Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke… Guy Pearce, Dane DeHaan.

Trivia: Ryan Gosling, Scarlett Johansson and Michael Shannon were allegedly considered for roles.

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon

When Optimus Prime’s old mentor is pulled out of a wreck on the moon and brought back to life, the Decepticons unexpectedly find another chance to strike at mankind. The third chapter in this series boasts the finest 3D effects since Avatar (2009)… but little else. Michael Bay once agreed that he had made mistakes with the second film, but nevertheless pursues the exact same path again. Big, loud, stupid and corny with a Chicago showdown that grows dull after a while.

2011-U.S. 153 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Michael Bay. Cast: Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Carly), Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey… John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn, Buzz Aldrin, Bill O’Reilly. Voices of Hugo Weaving, Leonard Nimoy, James Remar.

Trivia: Followed by Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014).

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

REVENGE IS COMING.

As Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) prepares to go to college, the Decepticons are planning their revenge on both mankind and the forces supporting Optimus Prime. The sequel continues the battle between the machines, and it goes on and on and on; the final showdown in Egypt takes up the full last hour. LaBeouf works his charm and the visual effects are entertaining, but there’s too much of everything and too many fights are so jittery one can barely make out what’s going on.

2009-U.S. 149 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Michael Bay. Cast: Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes), Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Ramon Rodriguez… Kevin Dunn, Rainn Wilson. Voices of Hugo Weaving, John Turturro, Michael York.

Trivia: Followed by Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011).

Razzies: Worst Picture, Director, Screenplay.

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Transformers

THEIR WAR. OUR WORLD.

Two warring, intergalactic clans of robots have infiltrated Earth; one of them is here to take over it, the other one is here to save the humans. Director Michael Bay’s blockbuster version is based on the cartoon and the toys and won’t disappoint the geeks. It’s his usual formula; big, loud and dumb, it has embarrassing dialogue and a final battle that goes on forever. However, this time round the comedy bits are actually funny, Shia LaBeouf is very sympathetic in the lead and the action sequences are jaw-droppingly spectacular. Surprisingly entertaining stuff.

2007-U.S. 143 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Michael Bay. Music: Steve Jablonsky. Cast: Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes), Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson… Jon Voight, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Bernie Mac. Voice of Hugo Weaving.

Trivia: Steven Spielberg co-executive-produced the film. Peter Cullen, a veteran of the 1984-1987 animated TV series, once again voices the character of Optimus Prime. Followed by four sequels, starting with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).

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