Film Review – MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)

The Jam Report | REVIEW – 'Murder on the Orient Express'MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017, USA/Malta) ***
Crime, Drama, Mystery
dist. 20th Century Fox; pr co. Twentieth Century Fox / Genre Films / Kinberg Genre / The Mark Gordon Company / Scott Free Productions / Latina Pictures / The Estate of Agatha Christie; d. Kenneth Branagh; w. Michael Green (based on the novel by Agatha Christie); exec pr. Matthew Jenkins, Dillon Kivo, James Prichard, Aditya Sood, Hilary Strong; pr. Kenneth Branagh, Mark Gordon, Judy Hofflund, Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott; ass pr. William Moseley; ph. Haris Zambarloukos (Colour. 70 mm (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema. ARRIRAW (6.5K) (source format) (some scenes), Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format), Dolby Vision, Panavision Super 70 (source format). 2.39:1); m. Patrick Doyle; ed. Mick Audsley; pd. Jim Clay; ad. Dominic Masters; set d. Rebecca Alleway, Caroline Smith; cos. Alexandra Byrne; m/up. Chiara Ugolini, Luca Saccuman; sd. James Mather (Dolby Atmos | DTS 70 mm (70 mm prints)); sfx. David Watkins; vfx. Helen Judd, Veronique Messier Lauzon, Josiane Fradette, Jacinthe Côté, Mary Meng, Tim Pounds-Cornish, Peter Hume, Patrick Ledda, George Murphy, Sylvain Theroux, Vincent Poitras, Mathieu Raynault; st. James O’Donnell; rel. 3 November 2017 (UK), 10 November 2017 (USA); cert: 12; r/t. 114m.

cast: Kenneth Branagh (Hercule Poirot), Penélope Cruz (Pilar Estravados), Willem Dafoe (Gerhard Hardman), Judi Dench (Princess Dragomiroff), Johnny Depp (Edward Ratchett), Josh Gad (Hector MacQueen), Leslie Odom Jr. (Dr. Arbuthnot), Michelle Pfeiffer (Caroline Hubbard), Daisy Ridley (Miss Mary Debenham), Tom Bateman (Bouc), Derek Jacobi (Edward Henry Masterman), Lucy Boynton (Countess Elena Andrenyi), Olivia Colman (Hildegarde Schmidt), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Biniamino Marquez), Gerard Horan (Aynesworth), Sergei Polunin (Count Rudolph Andrenyi), Phil Dunster (Colonel John Armstrong), Miranda Raison (Sonia Armstrong), Hayat Kamille (Susanne), Marwan Kenzari (Pierre Michel).

Branagh directs and leads an all-star cast in this mystery based on the best-selling novel by Agatha Christie. Everyone’s a suspect when a murder is committed on a lavish train ride, and a brilliant detective must race against time to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again. This is the second big screen adaptation of Christie’s celebrated, but heavily manufactured mystery. Branagh dons a bewilderingly large moustache but manages to capture the essence of the Belgian detective. However, in the director’s seat, he falls short of adding the required slow burn tension and instead focuses on the visuals, which are heavily digitised giving the scenery the look of a painting. He also embellishes the story with a couple of action sequences that do not serve the plot and merely seem designed to change the pace and fill the Hollywood quota. That said the basic story is adhered to and even though a tendency toward melodrama often creeps in, there is enough here to hold the interest, if not to match Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation. Also previously filmed for TV in 2001, 2010 and 2015.

Film Review – TO ROME WITH LOVE (2012)

Image result for to rome with loveTO ROME WITH LOVE (USA/Italy/Spain, 2012) ***
      Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics; Production Company: Medusa Film / Gravier Productions / Perdido Productions / Mediapro; Release Date: 22 June 2012 (USA), 14 September 2012 (UK); Filming Dates: 11 July 2011 – 31 August 2011; Running Time: 112m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35 mm (spherical) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (source format); Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Woody Allen; Writer: Woody Allen; Executive Producer: Jack Rollins; Producer: Faruk Alatan, Letty Aronson, Giampaolo Letta, Stephen Tenenbaum, David Nichols, Helen Robin; Director of Photography: Darius Khondji; Music Supervisor: Michelle Dickson Fine; Film Editor: Alisa Lepselter; Casting Director: Patricia DiCerto, Beatrice Kruger, Juliet Taylor; Production Designer: Anne Seibel; Art Director: Luca Tranchino; Set Decorator: Raffaella Giovannetti; Costumes: Sonia Grande; Make-up: Alessandro Bertolazzi; Sound: Maurizio Argentieri; Special Effects: Daniel Acon, Stefano Corridori; Visual Effects: Fabio Bianchi.
      Cast:Hayley’s Story“: Alison Pill (Hayley, Michelangelo’s fiancée), Flavio Parenti (Michelangelo Santoli, Hayley’s fiancé), Woody Allen (Jerry, Hayley’s father and Phyllis’ husband), Judy Davis (Phyllis, Hayley’s mother and Jerry’s wife), Fabio Armiliato (Giancarlo Santoli, Michelangelo’s father). “Leopoldo’s Story“: Roberto Benigni (Leopoldo Pisanello, a clerk and temporary celebrity), Monica Nappo (Sofia Pisanello, Leopoldo’s wife), Cecilia Capriotti (Serafina, a secretary), Marta Zoffoli (Marisa Raguso, an interviewer for Leopoldo). “Antonio’s Story“: Alessandro Tiberi (Antonio, Milly’s husband), Alessandra Mastronardi (Milly, Antonio’s wife), Penélope Cruz (Anna, a prostitute), Simona Caparrini (Joan, Antonio’s aunt), Ornella Muti (Pia Fusari, a famous actress), Antonio Albanese (Luchina “”Luca”” Salta, a famous actor), Riccardo Scamarcio (hotel thief), Roberto Della Casa (Uncle Paolo), Giuliano Gemma (hotel manager). “John’s Story“: Alec Baldwin (John Foy, successful architect and Jack’s acquaintance and adviser), Jesse Eisenberg (Jack, Sally’s boyfriend), Greta Gerwig (Sally, Jack’s girlfriend and Monica’s best friend), Ellen Page (Monica, Sally’s best friend), Lino Guanciale (Leonardo).
      Synopsis: The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.
      Comment: Uneven but fun collection of four distinct, but interwoven stories. Allen’s gift for comic absurdity is exemplified by the opera singer who can only perform in the shower (“Hayley’s Story”) and the Italian clerk who wakes up one morning to find he is famous and hounded by the press and public (“Leopoldo’s Story”). “Antonio’s Story” is more of a bedroom farce, whilst “John’s Story” is a typical Allen tale of lust and regret. Taken in isolation each has its merits, but as a whole, they fail to hang together in a cohesive way, although themes of the effects of fame, manipulation and surrender to one’s baser instincts are a clear thread. Allen and Davis spar wonderfully as parents meeting their daughter’s fiancée for the first time. The Eisenberg/Page segment, however, comes across as forced and contrived. A mixed bag then, but enough to satisfy Allen’s fanbase.

Film Review Round-up – VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (2008); OBLIVION (2013) and THE PLUNDERERS (1960)

51xPGEYMi7L._SY300_Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008; Spain/USA; DeLuxe; 96m) ∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Javier Aguirresarobe; ed. Alisa Lepselter.  Cast: Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson, Christopher Evan Welch, Chris Messina, Kevin Dunn, Julio Perillan, Zak Orth, Pablo Schreiber, Josep Maria Domenech, Abel Folk, Carrie Preston, Manel Barcelo. Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. Allen explores various themes around infidelity in this well-acted, but somehow unfulfilling story. Cruz is a knockout in an Oscar winning performance as Bardem’s temperamental ex-wife. [12]

mm00205587Oblivion (2013; USA; Colour; 124m) ∗∗∗  d. Joseph Kosinski; w. Karl Gajdusek, Michael DeBruyn; ph. Claudio Miranda; m. Anthony Gonzalez, M.8.3, Joseph Trapanese; ed. Richard Francis-Bruce.  Cast: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Zoe Bell, Melissa Leo, Lindsay Clift, Jaylen Moore, Julie Hardin, Paul Gunawan, Jay Oliver, Jason Stanly. A veteran assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself. Engaging sci-fi which is visually impressive. Initially intriguing it settles into more traditional fare, but solid performances help to overcome some of the conventions in the script. Originated as an 8-page treatment written by Kosinski which was pitched as a graphic novel. [12]

the-plunderers-movie-poster-1960-1020254032Plunderers, The (1960; USA; B&W; 94m) ∗∗∗  d. Joseph Pevney; w. Bob Barbash; ph. Gene Polito; m. Leonard Rosenman; ed. Tom McAdoo.  Cast: Jeff Chandler, John Saxon, Dolores Hart, Marsha Hunt, Jay C. Flippen, Ray Stricklyn, James Westerfield, Dee Pollock, Roger Torrey, Vaughn Taylor, Harvey Stephens. When four rowdy cowhands ride into a small town and make trouble, no one seems willing or able to take them on, not even the toughest man in town. But then there is a murder. Interesting psychological Western is well-directed and acted raising it above the routine. Chandler’s final Western. [PG]