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Gary Oldman

Darkest Hour (2017)

DIRECTOR: Joe Wright

CAST: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup

REVIEW:

2017 has been a good year for the Dunkirk evacuation, a pivotal event in WWII but an incident which had previously received little Hollywood attention.  Combined with Christopher Nolan’s “you are there” docudrama Dunkirk, which took us to the beaches, onboard the ships, and into the sky, and Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest, about a British propaganda film made about the event, Darkest Hour takes us to the vantage point of 10 Downing Street and centers around Winston Churchill himself.  To this end, Darkest Hour features no real battle scenes—apart from fleeting glimpses—and its stodgy, talky tone will limit its primary audience to history buffs, especially those with a particular interest in Churchill, but for those who consider themselves in that category, Darkest Hour is an engaging docudrama about the first two weeks in office of perhaps Britain’s most famous Prime Minister, and how he almost lost the position no sooner than he’d been offered it. Continue reading

Child 44 (2015)

889372DIRECTOR: Daniel Espinosa

CAST: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Fares Fares, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Charles Dance

REVIEW:

Adapting a book can be a tricky task; change too much and outrage its adherents, but follow the text too slavishly and risk a sluggish motion picture. Book and film are different mediums and should be treated as such.  With its myriad subplots and in-depth exploration of life in the 1950s Soviet Union, Tom Rob Smith’s best-selling historical crime novel (loosely inspired by the case of 1980s Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo) doesn’t lend itself to being inherently cinematic, and director Daniel Espinosa and screenwriter Richard Price’s attempt to bring it to the screen is sometimes murky, scattershot, and difficult to follow.   Continue reading

Lawless (2012)

DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat

CAST: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Dane DeHaan

REVIEW:

Based on Matt Bondurant’s 2008 historical novel The Wettest County in the World, a semi-fictionalized account of the Prohibition-era bootlegging activities of his grandfather Jack Bondurant and his grand-uncles Forrest and Howard, Lawless doesn’t reach the level of the bootlegging film classics it aspires toward, but it’s still an entertaining and engaging, if unspectacular, outlaw adventure that’s soaked in enough blood and moonshine to appeal to fans of the genre.  Its release in late August, generally regarded as a dumping ground for films the studios are not confident enough about to release at the height of summer, is a bit of a shame.  Lawless is a well-made movie that deserves a higher profile than it received. Continue reading

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman

REVIEW:

WARNING: WHILE I HAVE ASPIRED TO AVOID OUTRIGHT “SPOILERS”, THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Along with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers earlier this summer, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has redefined the possibilities of what to expect from a “comic book superhero movie” and raised the bar to a level that future entries in the genre will be hard-pressed to equal, let alone surpass.  While The Avengers served up grand spectacle on an unprecedented scale, Nolan’s Batman films went the more thoughtful, introspective, and in many ways, more groundbreaking approach, defying the expectations and supposed constraints of the genre, approaching the material as deep, dark, serious drama, and making the likes of Spider-Man look fluffy and insubstantial in comparison.  Batman Begins was a respectable launching pad.  The Dark Knight soared above and beyond, seizing the title of, for my money and the money of many others, the most dark, ambitious, and adult-oriented comic book superhero movie ever made, and now Nolan has chosen to cap off his series with a climactic chapter, perhaps the first time a director in a superhero series has chosen of his own accord to conclude his story (as opposed to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner’s X-Men, who were robbed of intended fourth installments by the disappointing receptions of their third entries).  While in my opinion The Dark Knight remains unseated as the most impressive of Nolan’s Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises brings this solid trilogy to a respectable conclusion. Continue reading

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

DIRECTOR: Tomas Alfredson

CAST:

Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, David Dencik, Simon McBurney, Svetlana Khodchenkova

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

George Smiley, the protagonist of John Le Carre’s dense, slow-paced spy novels, could be described as the anti-Bond.  Physically unimpressive, meek, quiet, bookish Continue reading

The Dark Knight (2008)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

With Batman Begins, his 2005 reboot of the Batman film franchise, hailed as bringing the Caped Crusader back to the screen better than ever, Christopher Nolan had the green light to proceed with the highly-anticipated sequel that came to be called The Dark Knight. For most fans, Nolan’s return to Gotham City was worth the three year wait. Batman Begins returned Batman to respectability; The Dark Knight takes this capital and runs with it, crafting what is easily the most ambitious and adult-oriented comic book superhero movie ever made. As entertaining as the likes of X-Men and Spider-Man might be, The Dark Knight is on a whole other level. Continue reading

Batman Begins (2005)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe

REVIEW:

Batman is both one of DC Comics’ most recognizable and popular characters and one of the most cinematically ill-used. Originally conceived as a brooding figure on the line between hero and vigilante, the original seriousness was completely abandoned first by the campy 1960s television series starring Adam West, and then by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s series of feature films in the late ’80s and ’90s. These movies started out over-the-top and ended up downright cartoonish. The entire original conception of the character had virtually been abandoned, and as the films grew ever more patently ridiculous, even fans had had enough. Batman looked dead in the water. Then British director Christopher Nolan, coming off the thrillers Memento and Insomnia, and screenwriter David S. Goyer took on the task of resurrecting Batman, not as a continuation of the previous lackluster film series, but as a totally new narrative showing us something we’d never seen detailed onscreen before- the origins of the superhero. Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón

CAST:

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Tom Felton, Robert Hardy, Warwick Davis, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Pam Ferris, Julie Christie, Timothy Spall, Lee Ingleby

REVIEW:

Out of the three Harry Potter films that had been made at the time, Prisoner of Azkaban had been adapted from the longest book, but ended up with the shortest running time, but that’s not a bad thing. Continue reading

Hannibal (2001)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Giancarlo Giannini, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman, Frankie Faison, Zeljko Ivanek, David Andrews

REVIEW:

As a follow-up to 1991’s Oscar-winning The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal was one of the most anticipated movies of 2001, but its journey from Thomas Harris’ page to the screen was a tumultuous one. Continue reading

Air Force One (1997)

air force oneDIRECTOR: Wolfgang Petersen

CAST: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews, Dean Stockwell, William H. Macy, Paul Guilfoyle, Xander Berkeley, Philip Baker Hall, Jurgen Prochnow

REVIEW:

Air Force One, the third major American action thriller from German director Wolfgang Petersen (following In the Line of Fire and Outbreak), proves that an accomplished action director can turn a flimsy premise into an entertaining ride, smoothly distracting from some plot holes and implausibiliites to turn Air Force One into one of the better of the myriad Die Hard-esque action flicks that have come out in the years since 1988’s Die Hard popularized the basic premise.  It’s not as good as the original Die Hard, but it’s an entertaining ride if you don’t scrutinize everything too closely. Continue reading

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