Alexandra Maria Lara

Alexandra Maria Lara

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Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara attending the Closing Night Gala screening of 'Free Fire,' during the 60th BFI London Film Festival held at the Odeon Leicester Square in London, United Kingdom - Sunday 16th October 2016

Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara
Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara
Enzo Cilenti, Michael Smiley, Ben Wheatley, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Cillian Murphy, Babou Ceesay, Sharlto Copley and Jack Reynor
Enzo Cilenti, Michael Smiley, Ben Wheatley, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Cillian Murphy, Babou Ceesay, Sharlto Copley and Jack Reynor
Enzo Cilenti, Michael Smiley, Ben Wheatley, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Cillian Murphy, Babou Ceesay, Sharlto Copley and Jack Reynor

Suite Francaise Review


Excellent

Even though it's made in a style that feels familiar, this World War II romantic drama takes a much more complex approach to the period, most notably in the way that it refuses to let anyone become a hero or villain. This is because author Irene Nemirovsky wrote the source novel at the time, not in retrospect, which gives it an unusual kick. And the film also benefits from an extraordinarily textured performance by Michelle Williams.

She plays Lucille, who in 1940 is living in the French country town of Bussy with her mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas). Since her husband is missing in action at the front, Lucille is feeling trapped in her life with the madame, who cruelly increases her poor-farmer tenants' rent even during these hard times. Then the Germans arrive to occupy the town, and officer Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts) is billeted in their house. Initially a horrific presence, Bruno turns out to be a soulful young man who misses his family. As he composes music on Lucille's piano, she reaches out to him in friendship, surprised to find a spark of attraction. But things get more complicated when Lucille and the madame begin to help a neighbour (Sam Riley) who crosses the Germans and needs to be hidden from view.

Director Saul Dibb (The Duchess) shoots this in a fairly straightforward costume-drama style, with sun-dappled cinematography and lavish settings. But the film rises above the genre in the characters, who are never allowed to become the usual stereotypes. Both Lucille and Bruno are intelligent young people aware that they're in the wrong place at the wrong time, so it's hardly surprising that they are drawn to each other, and Williams and Schoenaerts spark vivid chemistry that never boils over into forbidden-love melodrama. Each of them is a bundle of contradictions, remaining sympathetic even when they make bad decisions. And Scott Thomas adds further texture as the harsh madame who reveals her own unexpected shadings.

Continue reading: Suite Francaise Review

Suite Francaise Trailer


During the Second World War, France was quickly and violently taken over by the German army. Now, under enemy occupation, the residents find themselves having to house and shelter their victorious enemies. Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams) is one of these people, having to share her house with Commander Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts). Despite being on two different sides of the conflict, the two find a strange attraction to one-another, and a romance begins to blossom. But Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lucille's mother-in-law, distrusts the German officer, leading to a series of events that will test the strength of love and trust, in a time of war.

Continue: Suite Francaise Trailer

Rush Review


Excellent

Exhilarating racing action punctuates this true story, which sharply traces the rivalry between two Formula One champs. It's superbly well-shot and edited, with engaging performances from the entire cast. And with only one moment of calculated sentimentality, it's director Ron Howard's most honest movie in years.

The story begins in the early 1970s, when two rising-star F1 drivers clash over their very different styles. Britain's James Hunt (Hemsworth) is a swaggering womaniser, revelling in the rock-star lifestyle. By contrast, Austria's Niki Lauda (Bruhl) is a fiercely detailed technician who loves pushing barriers. They clearly see things they like in each other, so their different approaches on the track develop into a competitive relationship that spurs them to the front of the pack. Over the years, both meet their wives (Wilde and Lara, respectively) and move from team to team as they rise to the top of their sport. And their rivalry comes to a head at the 1976 German Grand Prix when world champion Lauda is involved in a horrific, fiery accident.

Morgan's script is essentially two biopics cleverly woven together to let us see the push and pull between these two iconic figures. Unexpectedly, Bruhl's Lauda emerges as the stronger character, with his grounded approach and sardonic wit allowing Bruhl to play effectively with submerged emotions. By contrast, Hemsworth's Hunt is little more than a gifted good-time boy who isn't worried about his lack of substance. It's a likeable, loose performance (we barely notice the wobbly British accent). Opposite them Lara and Wilde provide solid, subtle support, as do the fine actors who fill out the pit crews.

Continue reading: Rush Review

Alexandra Maria Lara - The world premiere of 'Rush' held at the Odeon Leicester Square - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Tuesday 3rd September 2013

Alexandra Maria Lara
Alexandra Maria Lara
Alexandra Maria Lara

Alexandra Maria Lara and Sam Riley - World premiere of Rush held at the Odeon Leicester Square- Arrivals - Monday 2nd September 2013

Alexandra Maria Lara and Sam Riley
Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara
Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara
Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara
Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara
Alexandra Maria Lara and Sam Riley

Rush Trailer


James Hunt is English Formula 1 champion well-known for his hedonistic life of women, alcohol and parties and who makes for a stark contrast to his number one rival, the Austrian Niki Lauda. It's the 70s, the golden age for racing, and the pair are riled up to outrun each other in the upcoming 1976 German Grand Prix. However, no-one could predict the tragedy that would soon ensue when Lauda's car fails and bursts into flames on the track, causing him severe burns to his face and body. Hunt blames himself for the accident, as he helped encourage the race to go ahead without the suggested safety arrangements. In spite of all this, the pair are determined to become champions, against all odds but as the professional lives interrupts their personal lives, becoming a champion becomes much more complicated than just winning a race.

'Rush' is a sports drama based on the shocking true story of these two real F1 drivers when their lives took a dramatic turn at the height of car racing. It has been directed by Ron Howard ('Willow', 'Apollo 13', 'The Da Vinci Code') and written by Peter Morgan ('The Queen', 'The Other Boleyn Girl', 'The Last King of Scotland'), and it is set for release this autumn on September 13th 2013.

Sam Riley, Alexandra Maria Lara and British Academy Film Awards 2008 - Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara London, England - The Orange British Academy Film Awards 2008 held at the Royal Opera House - Arrivals Sunday 10th February 2008

Sam Riley, Alexandra Maria Lara and British Academy Film Awards 2008
Sam Riley and British Academy Film Awards 2008

Alexandra Maria Lara and Sam Riley - Alexandra Maria Lara and Sam Riley Friday 8th February 2008 at Grosvenor House London, England

Alexandra Maria Lara and Sam Riley

Youth Without Youth Review


Weak
I try to be tolerant when people insist on telling me about their dreams. You know what I'm talking about: a well-meaning friend, in the throes of self-discovery, tries to explain this revelatory dream he had the night before where he was back in grade school, but it was really his parents' living room, and his teacher wasn't actually his teacher at all, but rather his ex-girlfriend from five years ago. When faced with this situation, I try not to change the subject too abruptly. After all, the dream-teller is a friend. I ought to humor his compulsion to find meaning in nonsense.

I had a similar feeling while watching Francis Ford Coppola's newest movie, Youth Without Youth. Since he started making films in the late '60s, Coppola has given moviegoers more intense pleasures than perhaps any other American director. Films such as The Conversation, The Godfather, The Godfather II, and Apocalypse Now all stand as epic achievements of modern cinema. His more recent films -- like Jack and The Rainmaker -- are in no way recognizable as the work of a genius, but his past greatness inclines me to cut him some slack when he's struggling to say something. And Coppola is definitely struggling to say something in Youth Without Youth. It's a shame, then, that what he manages to get out is so incoherent and banal, so much like a clueless friend's stupid dream.

Continue reading: Youth Without Youth Review

Control Review


Good
Ian Curtis was only 23 when he hung himself in the kitchen of his wife's house on May 18th, 1980 in Manchester, England. His band, Joy Division, had been only responsible for one album, 1979's Unknown Pleasures, while the finishing touches were being put on the second, 1980's Closer. These two pesky albums, along with a single "Love Will Tear Us Apart," would constitute posthumous fandom unlike anyone could have imagined. Both Pleasures and Closer were futuristic pieces of musical intrigue that ignored the nostalgia boasted by the bands that influenced them; Bowie and Iggy Pop sure looked futuristic, but their music was only somewhat forward-looking. Uniformly, Anton Corbijn's Control's ostentatious demeanor belies a somewhat routine ponderance of Curtis' abruptly interrupted popularity.

When we first come across Curtis (a well-researched Sam Riley), he is rushing home with a copy of Aladdin Sane under his arm. Like any experimental teen of that era, he dances and contorts in androgynous bliss while his parents quietly read the paper and prepare dinner in the other room. His quick courtship and marriage to Deborah (the consummate Samantha Morton) quickly sticks him in a go-nowhere house with a go-nowhere job at an employment office. Curtis, like most of England, gets a kick in the knickers when he hears The Sex Pistols for the first time, immediately walking into the street and inquiring whether his friends still need a singer for their band Warsaw.

Continue reading: Control Review

The Tunnel Review


OK
This 2001 production about East Germans fleeing to West Berlin focuses on one of many tunnel-building operations when the infamous wall was built in 1961, and centers on a famous athlete who defied his Communist oppressors. Dangers and triumphs make for considerable tension, while its overextended length at 150 minutes, due to it being written as a two-part series for German TV, riddles it with slow pacing, melodrama, and viewer fatigue. Which may explain its delay in achieving a theatrical release until 2005.

Harry Melchior (a very buff and credible Heino Ferch in a part based on the real-life Hasso Herschel), is an East German swimmer and a troublesome renegade in Communist-controlled Berlin--all the more so for winning the national swimming competition. But, as much as the authorities want to use his new celebrity for propagandistic purposes, he simply won't cooperate.

Continue reading: The Tunnel Review

The Tunnel Review


OK
This 2001 production about East Germans fleeing to West Berlin focuses on one of many tunnel-building operations when the infamous wall was built in 1961, and centers on a famous athlete who defied his Communist oppressors. Dangers and triumphs make for considerable tension, while its overextended length at 150 minutes, due to it being written as a two-part series for German TV, riddles it with slow pacing, melodrama and viewer fatigue. Which may explain its delay in achieving a theatrical release until 2005.

Harry Melchior (a very buff and credible Heino Ferch in a part based on the real-life Hasso Herschel), is an East German swimmer and a troublesome renegade in Communist-controlled Berlin--all the more so for winning the national swimming competition. But, as much as the authorities want to use his new celebrity for propagandistic purposes, he simply won't cooperate.

Continue reading: The Tunnel Review

Downfall Review


OK
Is it possible to make a film about Hitler and his regime's final days without humanizing the Nazis? Oliver Hirschbiegel's Downfall (Der Untergang) proves to be a harrowing recreation of the Nazi elite's last stand trapped underground by the encroaching Red Army, but on the issue of depicting its notorious cast of characters - and the gangs all here, from Hitler and the Goebbells family to Himmler, Eva Braun, Albert Speer, and Hermann Fegelein - the film is unable to avoid sentimentalizing what is, for most of the modern world, a distinctly unsentimental moment in 20th century history. One can recognize the dramatic necessity of attempting to portray such monsters with more than a blunt brushstroke, and often, Hirschbiegel's impressively expansive drama (adapted by Bernd Eichinger from both Joachim Fest's Inside Hitler's Bunker and Traudl Junge and Melissa Müller's Until the Final Hour) eerily captures the hysterical, delusional fanaticism that gripped the Nazis - and Hitler in particular - up until the very end of April 1945. But if the sight of crying Nazis and "brave" SS soldiers is the price to be paid for such a riveting portrait, one must wonder if this well-intentioned enterprise - the first German-produced film to directly confront Hitler in nearly 50 years - doesn't sabotage its own portrait of the appalling empire's collapse.

After a brief prologue that finds Hitler (Bruno Ganz) choosing Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) - the woman who would later become the subject of the 2002 documentary Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary - as his secretary, Hirschbiegel's film whisks us away to 1945 Berlin, where der Fuhrer and company are vainly attempting to keep the Aryan dream alive from a concrete bunker deep underneath the battle-ravaged city. Hitler remains convinced, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the war remains winnable, and Ganz - an actor whose strength is usually found in contemplative silence - superbly brings the horrific fascist to maniacal life, balancing an exhausted, stooped posture and twitching left hand (always held behind his back) with sudden delusional tirades of mouth-frothing madness. Surrounded by increasingly cynical military officers, an unrepentant Hitler is agitated, desperate, and unable to relinquish the belief that his Nazi army will re-mobilize for a final, fatal strike against the Russians. Meanwhile, absurd and surreal last-gasp mini-dramas play out throughout the bunker, from Junge and her fellow secretary's attempts to remain optimistic and Albert Speer (Heino Ferch) and Heinrich Himmler's (Ulrich Noethen) eventual desertions to, most chillingly, Magda (Corinna Harfouch) and Joseph Goebbels' (Ulrich Matthes) plans to exterminate their six children should National Socialism crumble.

Continue reading: Downfall Review

Downfall Review


OK

For those not already versed in the lore of Adolf Hitler'sfinal days, the intimacy, immediacy and bunker-mentality minutia of "Downfall"may make for truly engrossing cinema. A detailed, historically accurateaccount that bears witness as the psychotic dreams of a 1,000-year ThirdReich slip away from its increasingly paranoid Fuehrer, this bravely matter-of-factGerman epic features uniformly powerful performances and is an eerie, vividrealization of gray-walled claustrophobia and the terror of saturationbombing. (The camera shakes in a uniquely unsettling, knock-you-off-your-bearingsway with each mortar shell.)

The fantastic Bruno Ganz (best known in the US for "Wingsof Desire") plays Hitler with a broken kind of humanity that makeshis evil subtler than expected, but by extension all the more chilling.His senior staff is accounted for nearly every moment of the detailed film,but none of them stands out except Ulrich Matthes as psychotically loyalpropaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and Corinna Harfouch as his wife.She has the film's most disturbing scene, poisoning her children to "save"them from growing up in a world without National Socialism.

But while director Oliver Hirschbiegel ("DasExperiment") very effectively takes youdeep inside Nazi Germany's crumbling heart and brings many infamous momentsacutely to life, his film doesn't offer much in the way of new insight.The script is more of a textbook play-by-play than an examination of impulsesand psyches, and while the Hirschbiegel and his cast add those dimensionsthrough their fine work, it seems the only way he could invest the audiencein these events was by seeking out a sympathetic minor character -- inthe person of Hitler's young secretary, Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara)-- and beef up her significance.

Continue reading: Downfall Review

Alexandra Maria Lara

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Alexandra Maria Lara Movies

Suite Francaise Movie Review

Suite Francaise Movie Review

Even though it's made in a style that feels familiar, this World War II romantic...

Suite Francaise Trailer

Suite Francaise Trailer

During the Second World War, France was quickly and violently taken over by the German...

Rush Movie Review

Rush Movie Review

Exhilarating racing action punctuates this true story, which sharply traces the rivalry between two Formula...

Rush Trailer

Rush Trailer

James Hunt is English Formula 1 champion well-known for his hedonistic life of women, alcohol...

Youth Without Youth Movie Review

Youth Without Youth Movie Review

I try to be tolerant when people insist on telling me about their dreams. You...

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Control Movie Review

Control Movie Review

Ian Curtis was only 23 when he hung himself in the kitchen of his wife's...

Control, Trailer Trailer

Control, Trailer Trailer

Control Trailer Directed by acclaimed music photographer Anton Corbijn, and based on Deborah Curtis' "Touching...

Downfall Movie Review

Downfall Movie Review

For those not already versed in the lore of Adolf Hitler'sfinal days, the intimacy, immediacy...

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