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Posts tagged ‘Ralph Fiennes’

“Grand Budapest” Upsets Ahead at Golden Globes!

Fiennes 1Budapest with TildaExpect there to be multiple upsets at the Golden Globes tomorrow night (is it time for the Golden Globs already?!?). With the ELEVEN astounding BAFTA nominations under its’ flashy, bejeweled belt “The Grand Budapest Hotel” could very well win not only Best Screenplay for its writer/director Wes Anderson, but also win in their Best Musical/Comedy category for Best Picture! Yes! It could. These are the Hollywood FOREIGN Press after all remember who give out this award. And don’t be surprised if Ralph Fiennes also nominated for “Budapest” wins Best Actor over favorite Michael Keaton again in the Musical/Comedy category which they are both in.. It could happen. “Grand Budapest Hotel” is a runaway train at this point. A runaway AWARDS train!

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The Absolutely Grand “Grand Budapest Hotel”! A screwball comedy with real screwballs!

I am going to go on record right now and say that this new year’s Oscar race, yes, 2014’s, has already started in earnest because Fox Searchlight has just released what I think is for SURE going to be a major topic in the Oscar conversation all year-long, Wes Anderson’s absolutely grand “Grand Budapest Hotel.”

How often does a WITTY comedy open these blockbuster days and become a record-breaking box-office blockbuster itself? Unheard of! Astounding! When everything is a comic book or a sequel that makes me gag, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” towers above all others in laughs, style and brain-i-ness, and oh yes, all the good guys are inexplicably wearing moustaches and Tilda Swinton is an 84 (or is it 83?)-year-old love interest to Ralph Fiennes’ sublime comic creation M. Gustav H.

And as Gustav says himself “She’s dynamite in the sack.” He shrugs,”I’ve had older.”

The concierge M. Gustav is so grand himself, it’s like he’s the hotel manager, in this pink and red-hued fantasy that goes beyond camp into whimsy of the giddiest and most original kind. It’s the kind where you can say “Thank god, there are still films like this being made!”

A screwball comedy with really screwballs! Divine!

And Madame Tilda’s murder sets in motion a dense plot of A-listers-in-cameos all fighting over the dead woman’s money.

And of course, she’s left it all to M.Gustav, and of course, hilarity ensues.

The cast is a who’s who of International Hollywood starting with Ralph Fiennes himself giving the performance of his career, comically speaking. Who knew he had this kind of expert comic timing in him? Anderson’s lines are putting it mildly often tongue-twisters and that fine actor Fiennes is having a fine time getting them all out in that perfect British upper crust accent and hitting the ball out of the proverbial comic park every time.

And Swinton has never been better, or should I say, never been funnier. I always felt she had a penchant for British drawing-room comedy that has never been tapped. Until now. She’s hilarious!

And a new discovery as the perennial Anderson innocent Zero, Tony Revolori of Anaheim, California holds his own against Fiennes and Swinton and Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe and Bill Murray, as he romances Agatha, a kitchen maid played beguilingly by Irish actress Soairse Ronan, who has a large disfiguring birth mark on one side of her face, in that shape of Mexico. This, in pure Anderson style, is never even referred to. It’s just THERE. One side of her face is perfectly classically beautiful and the other side is just well, beautiful, too, because she is.

The film for all of you dear readers, dear cineastes, is in three different aspect ratios, which are too complicated to explain here and spoil all the egg-headed fun as “Grand Budapest Hotel” keeps flash-ing backwards in time from the not-so-grand semi-now, Tom Wilkenson narrates, to F. Murray Abraham, who now is Mister Moustafa and OWNS the “Grand Budapest Hotel”. A journalistic Jude Law asks him how he got it, and as Abraham explicates, we jump back in time again, and it turns out he is Zero, the Lobby Boy, we’re going to be spending a lot of time with as does Ralph Fiennes’ M. Gustav.

For M.Gustav takes on the hapless Zero, who has to draw HIS moustache in with a dark pencil, as his protegee and partner in crime, as they try to well, you have to see the film.

All the villains in the film, like Dafoe, are strangely clean-shaven. Only good guys have moustaches.

I will spoil no further. But suffice it to say that it’s Anderson’s best film by far, and he’s now launched himself into the cinematic stratosphere of THIS year’s Oscar race, which will garner nominations across the board. The visuals being as sumptuous as the acting is delicious.

I can’t wait to see it again! Let the Oscar conversations begin! And the often nominated, but never awarded composer Alexander Desplat, may very well be getting his first Oscar here for his hilarious score keeps the hi-jinks high.

The number of A-list stars director Anderson has pulled into to flash by in the smallest of parts, like, as I said, Academy Award-winner Tilda Swinton, as the grand octogenarian Madame, who Gustav is romancing. Her every tremble is a delight, and who is suddenly found dead.

He says to her corpse, lying in state, “I don’t know what kind of facial cream they’ve used on you, darling, but I want it. You’ve never looked lovelier.”

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Teen Stars Saoirse Ronan & Tony Revolori Rock “The Grand Budapest Hotel” with laughs!

Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan is all grown up now in the hilarious heist romp “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and she is joined in merriment with Tony Revolori who aces the leading role of “Lobby Boy” Zero! Enjoy!

Editing ~ Paolo Pellegrino

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Ralph Fiennes is Smashing in the new “Grand Budapest Hotel”!

The great Ralph Fiennes is in magnificent form as the sly conceierge at “The Grand Budapest Hotel” which is a comic delight and my favorite Wes Anderson film to date. Ralph just shines, shines, shines in it as Monsieur Gustav, who has got be be one of his greatest roles to date, certainly in an out-and-out comedy! He’s delightful! And so is the whole marvelously baroque movie around him!

Editing by Paolo Pellegrino

TIFF ’11 Lists, Best, Worst, Couldn’t Get In To See, etc.

So, in short form,(I hope) some TIFF lists ~

Best Film – Machine Gun Preacher

Runner-Up- The Artist, Drive, The Skin I Live In, Coriolanus

Best Actor – Gerard Butler in “Machine Gun Preacher”

Runner-ups- Ryan Gosling “Drive,” Ralph Fiennes in “Coriolanus”, Jean Dujardin “The Artist”

Best Actress – Elena Anaya “The Skin I Live In” (Pedro Almodovar’s hot new film)

Runner-Up- Tilda Swinton “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin,; Rachel Weisz “The Deep Blue Sea”

Best Supporting Actor- Gerard Butler “Coriolanus”

Runner-Up – Tom Hiddleston & Simon Russell Beale in “Deep Blue Sea”, that adorable  little dog in “The Artist”

Best Supporting Actress- Vanessa Redgrave “Coriolanus”

Runner-Ups – Marisa Peredes in “The Skin I Live In”, Tammy Blanchard in “Union Square,” Berenice Bejos “The Artist”

Worst TIFF “Rendition”-like Bomb (It died in one TIFF screening) – “A Dangerous Method”

Films I Tried to See, But Couldn’t – “Shame”, “Descendants”, “Albert Nobbs”

Hoping to See Soon – “The Ides of March”

Couldn’t Care Less About Seeing – “Moneyball”

TIFF begins before it starts. Coriolanus’ Ralph Fiennes Masterpiece

As I quoted John Steinbeck earlier, before I left for Montreal, “Trips begin before they start.” And now TIFF has begun with a BANG! as I got to see a pre-TIFF screening of “Coriolanus,” which is the great Ralph Fiennes directorial debut as well as perhaps the best he’s ever been as an actor, which is saying A LOT .

As Coriolanus, himself, one of Shakespeare’s most troublesome heroes or anti-heroes or a character who heretofore has been virtually un-classifiable as well as over-looked. In doing all this re-imagining so magnificently, Fiennes has created his own masterpiece. It’s the absolute pinnacle of his career as an actor, and he’s the pretty damn good first time director, too!

Shakespeare’s great leading men were all supposed to be characters who had ONE tragic flaw, and Coriolanus’ was that he was supposedly “too proud.” And that has been the long and the short of it for centuries. Until now.

Ralph Fiennes has brilliantly re-thought and re-configured this tragedy and made it something very, very modern and timely and something that is definitive and totally his own. It’s an overwhelming Shakespearean as well as cinematic achievement.

In setting it in some kind of war-torn Eastern Europe setting -Bosnia? Serbia? and loading the first half hour up with almost unbearably unwatchable bloodshed, explosion, bombs, etc., he effectively illustrates that THIS is what Coriolanus can do. Make war. Kill people. Destroy every thing in his path. He’s the ultimate adrenaline junkie, like Jeremy Renner’s indelible soldier/killer character in “The Hurt Locker.”

And after that bloody initial first section of the film, which I thought was a tad overdone and overlong and not Shakespearean at all, and goes on forever, “Coriolanus” settles down to become what I have always believed it to be, Shakespeare’s only play about MOM.

Whether this is a veiled portrait of his own mother, Mary Arden, who was a staunch Catholic, in the Elizabethan days, when that meant death, Volumnia, always a good part, to my mind, here in the hands of the great Vanessa Redgrave, becomes one of Shakespeare’s most frightening and powerful villianesses. She practically tops Lady Macbeth here in that she’s Coriolanus’ MOM. The all-powerful, passive-aggressive military MOM, she  is as blood-thirsty and dangerous as any she-wolf-hound and as any of Shakespeare’s great bad gals.

Redgrave’s chilling performance vaults Volumnia into the ranks of one of the best characters that Shakespeare ever wrote, simply and forever.

And as she utters the foulest and most outrageous of Shakespeare’s dialogue, she is ever-so elegant and o so charming and as sweet as apple crumble  pie. She’s utterly, completely reasonable. Every inch a lady. She’s never a shrew, and she’s FRIGHTENING!

Shakespeare never really wrote about the topic of MOM so completely before or after. And Coriolanus, as Ralph Fiennes’ plays him so persuasively, is one sick puppy. A military one-man killing machine, he cannot deal with people or politics and gets ousted as consul by the people of Rome in mere hours or days after he is elected, because he simply can’t speak to them. He refuses to show them his wounds, literally, and the Roman rabble turns on him, in a split second and he is ousted from his home, his family, his country and labeled a traitor, simply because in modern terms, he has no social skills whatsoever.

He’s a great soldier, a great general, but all he can do is fight, fight, fight. He’s not humble about anything. And when the battle is over, he can’t stop fighting, with everyone around him, until the only person he has left to fight with is himself. As Fiennes’ character begins to lose it you realize that he is playing a self-destructive, mentally ill man. A paranoid, certainly. A schizophrenic, yes, perhaps.

But Fiennes’ in his interpretation, places all the blame for Fiennes’ descent into hell, squarely on the broad shoulders of  MOM, Vanessa. And Ms. Redgrave, now well into her later years, shows time does not stop for genius, as she lays her great actress’ s hands on Volumnia and shakes her and inflates her, until she grows and grows in to this GIANTESS of all-devouring, but socially sweet matron/dragon. She scares even as she charms, and her ultimate scene, the scene where outside the walls of Rome, she pleads for her city and for her vengeful, bat-shit crazy, beautiful son to come back to her. Come back to Rome! and Shakespeare and Fiennes has her kneeling over and over again pleading, cajoling, manipulating, begging, and that scene alone, says Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!

Redgrave also speaks Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter as if it were conversational speech. Another achievement. And since Volumnia’s lines and character are not as well-known as, say Lady Macbeth, every word she utters, every moment she has, seems absolutely FRESH.

I think one of the greatnesses of this instant classic of film, is that it redefines both Coriolanus and Volumnia as two of Shakespeare’s greatest characters, though until now they never appeared as such. The over-possesive mother and the wounded, crazy child.

Coriolanus’ problem was not that he was “too Proud”. It was his mother!

And Redgrave may very certainly be looking at another Oscar here. It’s going to be hard for any of the other ladies, who may be nominated as Best Supporting Actress(though in this film, she’s really the co-lead) to come up to ,or top this towering actress’  career-capping achievement in “Coriolanus.”

So what Fiennes has done is make this not a play about a patrician soldier, a play, or rather, a film about a play about a man at war with himself, and actually, a film about a man at war with his mother.

A mother who completely mis-reads and over-pushes and over-dominates her war-talented son. Fiennes and Redgrave do a memorable pas-de-deux here on Shakespeare’s only really stab at motherhood, literally. And stab at it, he does.

And with Harvey Weinstein as producer, you can be pretty sure both Fiennes and Redgrave are going to the Oscar dance this year. And Redgrave is certainly now the front-runner in her category. And how! And I hope she staggering achievement as Volumnia doesn’t overwhelm Fiennes’ Oscar chances as Best Actor. Or Best Director. Or both. It could. And it might. And his expert Voldemort in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt.2” may hurt him here. Or help him. It certianly could be confusing to Oscar voters. Maybe he’ll be nominated for BOTH performances!

Jessica Chastain as Coriolanus’ weepy, weak wife has virtually nothing to do except cry. And Gerard Butler is OK, but not Oscar worthy as Coriolanus arch-enemy, the king of the Volscians. (sp?)

More complex as more aptly a possible Supporting Actor nominee is British actor Brian Cox, who FINALLY gets a part he get sink his teeth into, as Coriolanus’ mediator, explicator and finally tragic go-between.

But the film is Fiennes’ and certainly Redgrave’s. Vanessa is the one to beat. But Fiennes is fine, fine, fine, too. The envelope, please…

Redgrave’s only Oscar blockage is her previous win decades ago for Julia, and her politics, but the Academy may overlook all this because her Volumnia is  so stupendous, charismatic overwhelming and frightening. She LOVES war more than any of the men in the film, and she has brought up her only son to be a killing machine, but she has not been able to make him a man.

And in Shakespeare’s play about a war against MOM, who do you think wins?

Irene, after…

Well, Hurricane Irene is allll over and the air is fresh. The sky is an incredible blue, the type of blue most seen in the Rockys. No clouds whatsoever, just this pure, clear blue, and New Yorkers are walking around again and they’re smiling.

And the city looks like somebody just took it out and washed it throughly which is exactly what Irene just did.

The subways are running. The buses are running. The taxis were ALLLLWAYS running. And everything looks strangely new. And everyone looks very well rested.

Which shut up in their apartments, they all were.

A cleaner New York…and no one was killed or injured…Now THAT is amazing…

As I prepare to dive into pre-TIFF movie screenings here in NYC before I leave…I hope they are going to be good….There are soooo many films and sooo many titles…Well, it takes awhile to sort them all out…but “Coriolanus” tomorrow night, looks to be a good one. Directed by and starring that helluva nice guy Voldemort, I mean, Ralph Fiennes, and a Volumnia that is said to rank with Vanessa Redgrave’s best and may garner her ANOTHER Oscar…We shall see.

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