Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist Chet Baker, combining the achingly soulful music with an equally resonant performance from Ethan Hawke. Sometimes, the film's artistic flourishes seem to strain to cover up the usual narrative of a musical artist's life. But Baker's story has a striking emotional layer to it that holds the attention. And by focussing on a pivotal period in his life, Budreau draws out some lovely themes.
It opens in 1966 Los Angeles, where Chet is starring in a movie about his life. One actress, Jane (Carmen Ejogo), is playing all of the women he loved, and of course he's now pursuing her as well. There's also the problem that he's not quite sure if he's still a heroin junkie or if he's just playing himself when he was one. Then he gets in a street fight in which thugs knock out his front teeth, and everyone tells him he will never play his trumpet again. But he tenaciously sets out to regain his embouchure, even as his parole officer (Tony Nappo) refuses to give him a break. He decides to take Jane to visit his parents (Stephen McHattie and Janet-Laine Green) back home in Oklahoma, and rebuild his life from there. Then back in California, he approaches his music producer friend Dick (Callum Keith Rennie) to help him make a comeback.
Hawke brings a terrific earthy charm to the role, conveying Baker's effortless musical gifts as well as his inner steeliness in the face of injury and addiction. The darker sides of Baker's personality simmer in the background, increasing his allure. And Ejogo is terrific opposite him. Jane is a woman who sees everything that Baker is, and she knows that she has limits to what she will let him get away with. It's easy for the audience to root for them to succeed as a couple, even though every other musical biopic has told us that a happy ever after probably isn't on the cards.
Continue reading: Born To Be Blue Review
When Chet Baker first made a real name for himself in the music industry he was labelled as 'The James Dean of Jazz', he was cool and everyone wanted a piece of him. The trumpeter from California soon became the next big sensation and played clubs all around the US. Ten years on, Baker had developed a heroin addiction, had been incarcerated for drug possession in Italy and he was far from the high life he was living years earlier.
When Baker was asked to star in a film about himself, it implanted ideas of a comeback, a new shot at glory, that accompanied by a new romance with his co-star spurted Baker into recording a new album. Whilst battling addiction, we see Baker at one of the most crucial times of his life.
Born To Be Blue is an anti-biography, it's based on the life of Baker but whilst the actual film Baker was making in the 1960's (with producer Dino de Laurentiis) didn't come to light, Robert Budreau's version of events sees Baker's film be made, a decision he made to help show the true 'improvisational nature of jazz'.
Long before Harry Potter - or his parents - took up residence at Hogwarts, there was a student called Newt Scamander. An inquisitive boy who was constantly on the lookout for new magical creatures found himself being expelled from the school for endangering the lives of the pupils. Though Newt was expelled for his actions, a certain teacher going by the name of Albus Dumbledore stuck up for the young wizard.
Carmen Ejogo - GREAT British film reception honoring the British nominees of the 87th Annual Academy Awards at The London West Hollywood - Arrivals at Academy Awards - Los Angeles, California, United States - Friday 20th February 2015
One of the finest biopics in recent memory, this drama manages to present someone as iconic as Martin Luther King Jr. as a normal man anyone can aspire to emulate. Anchored by an internalised performance from David Oyelowo, the film is skilfully directed by Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere) with a sharp attention to subtle details. And the script by newcomer Paul Webb draws the characters with such complexity that the film has provoked controversy from people who like their heroes untextured.
The film enters Martin's story as he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside his activist wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo) in October 1964, just over a year after his soaring "I have a dream" speech. And a few months later, he's called to Selma, Alabama, to help blacks who are being denied the right to vote by racially motivated voter registration laws. Martin meets with President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), who has more pressing things on his political agenda, then heads to Selma to lead a march on the state capitol in Montgomery. But the peaceful protest is met with nightmarish violence, ordered by Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth). So as the protesters regroup and plan a second march, Martin heads back to Washington to challenge Johnson to set some new priorities.
Cleverly, the script just covers a few months, punctuated with a series of King's most rousing speeches. Since none of this is presented for its big inspirational value, it has a much stronger kick than we expect. The film's punchiest scenes are almost silent, as King struggles to knot his tie before an appearance or fails to find the words to confess his infidelities to his wife. Oyelowo is so transparent in the role that King emerges as an everyday man with a gift for oratory in the right place at the right time. But it's his steely desire to do the right thing that makes him inspirational. And how he reacts when he discovers the human cost of his actions.
Continue reading: Selma Review
The New York premiere of 'Selma' was held at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 14th December 2014. The red carpet arrivals saw a host of actors and actresses posing for pictures, including English actress/actors spouses Jessica and David Oyelowo. British singer and actress Carmen Ejogo was also in attendance.
“What happens when a man stands up and says ‘enough is enough’?” So goes the question raised by Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) when President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) declines to help him in battling the race-related violence in Alabama. In retaliation, King organises a peaceful protest; he has African Americans march into Selma, Alabama, in an attempt to gain rights to vote. What follows, is a truly horrifying attack from the police on the peaceful protest which was televised and seen by millions, forcing the President’s hand, as he is forced to watch innocent people suffer.
Continue: Selma Trailer
After last year's break-out hit thriller, writer-director James DeMonaco is back with the flip-side of the story, which jettisons the irony and and thematic subtlety in favour of in-your-face brutality. This time the account of a night of lawful violence is told from the opposite perspective, poor people who are targeted by sadistic rich people who are trying to cleanse their souls with a bit of grisly murder.
It's set one year later, in 2023 Los Angeles as the annual 12-hour Purge is about to begin. The idea is to cleanse society of its violent urges, but this has turned into an all-out war between heavily armed militias hired by the wealthy to capture poor people for their own homicidal entertainment. As an underground activist (Michael K. Williams) calls for a grassroots uprising, the waitress Eva (Carmen Ejogo) is just trying to get through the night alive with her teen daughter Cali (Zoe Soul). When they're attacked, an unnamed stranger (Frank Grillo) comes to their rescue, and they're soon joined by a couple (Zach Gilford and Keile Sanchez) whose car picked the wrong time and place to break down. Together, these five attempt to escape pursuit by two vicious gangs: lowlife mercenaries looking for fresh blood to sell to wealthy clients and a high-tech army bent on all-out massacre.
It's deeply contrived that these two gangs are deliberately, tenaciously and seemingly supernaturally pursuing these five people, but DeMonaco never flinches, so the audience just has to go with it. Much of the movie consists of massive nighttime street battles, but there are some more deranged interludes that hold the attention much better. At one point, they take refuge in the downtown home of one of Eva's colleagues (Justina Machado), a drunken party that is clearly spiralling out of control even before they arrived. A little later, they are dragged right into a variation on The Hunger Games. And while four of our heroes are running for their lives, Grillo's character has something more violent in mind: he's seeking revenge against the drunk driver who killed his son.
Continue reading: The Purge: Anarchy Review
Following the disastrous events in 2013's 'The Purge' which saw a home security salesman murdered in his so-called fortress of a family home, that time of year has come round again and, for another couple, things are going to get even grislier. The pair are cutting it fine as they drive home in the evening ahead of the 12 hour annual Purge, a period in which all crimes become legal (including theft, rape and murder) and emergency services are momentarily stopped. They are confident they can get home in time to lock themselves away once again. until their car unexpectedly breaks down. The sirens blare signalling the beginning of the Purge and the couple find themselves running for lives as some masked Purgers on motorcycles chase them down. Across the rest of the city, total anarchy ensues as the country gets caught up in a patriotic, bloodthirsty fever.
'The Purge: Anarchy' is the grim sequel to 2013 horror 'The Purge' which sees the return of director and screenwriter James DeMonaco ('Little New York'). It's a dystopian thriller about the lengths governments may go to solve national issues (such as population control) and it is set to be released this summer on June 20th 2014.
We’re entering something of a pre-Christmas lull in the land of the blockbuster movie but there is still plenty of activity in the land of cinema this weekend… and not all of it is paranormal.
The film that everyone is talking about this week is The Sessions. The movie – starring Helen Hunt, John Hawkes and William H Macy - debuted at the Sundance Festival earlier this year and wowed the critics with its “profoundly sex-positive” story. The Sessions tells the tale of a man, paralysed by polio, who seeks the help of a priest and eventually a sex therapist, to help him lose his virginity. The performances are touching, the script (based on the writings of California-based journalist Mark O’Brien) is tender and funny. If critical opinion is anything to go by, The Sessions should be heading towards the top of the box office chart.
Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...
When Chet Baker first made a real name for himself in the music industry he...
Long before Harry Potter - or his parents - took up residence at Hogwarts, there...
Long before the time of Harry Potter, wizards and witches still lived their lives in...
One of the finest biopics in recent memory, this drama manages to present someone as...
After last year's break-out hit thriller, writer-director James DeMonaco is back with the flip-side of...
Following the disastrous events in 2013's 'The Purge' which saw a home security salesman murdered...
An energetic cast and some terrific music make up for the rather hackneyed plot of...
Alex Cross is a homicide detective in Washington DC who comes across a series of...
This gentle comedy examines at how we set priorities, plan our futures and make our...