Tag Archive: jessica chastain


The Appeal of Emma Stone

Born Emily Jean Stone the young actress took on the name Emma when registering with the Screen Actors Guild due to there already being an Emily Stone registered. That’s a nice little fact not many people will be too aware of. Anyway, Emma Stone is just one of a new wave of actresses who are currently winning critics over and gaining fans with every performance they put in. In this category I place Stone with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan among others. But there is something different that sets Emma Stone apart from the rest; she has a very distinct and intriguing appeal.

Emma Stone got her first leading role in 2010’s Easy A, a film which focusses on the novel A Scarlet Letter and parallels that with the main character’s life: Olive, played by Emma Stone. I believe that Stone’s performance here is a clear example of just what a wonderful actress she is to watch. Olive is caught up in a web of lies after just trying to shut her friend up by telling her that she has lost her virginity, when in fact she has not. All of this gets out of hand and pretty much ruins Olive’s life. But the way the story is told is from Olive’s first person perspective, already giving us Stone’s narration. As well as this the film uses the narrative device of Stone talking into her webcam (which becomes the screen). This makes Stone’s performance just seem incredibly relaxed and natural and allowing the audience to see her in this way brings us a lot closer to the character and, in effect, Emma Stone herself. Her performance is full of vibrancy and sarcastic humour, outshone only by the frankly quite incredible Stanley Tucci.

Before Stone’s Golden Globe nominated performance in Easy A she was already making a name for herself in the comedy genre. Stone’s first film role was in Superbad, a film that began a new era of comedy films. After Superbad she appeared in a few, shall we say interesting films: The Rocker, The House Bunny and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (but let’s not judge her) before getting back on the right track with Zombieland. Also worth noting, Stone actually auditioned for the role of Claire Bennett in Heroes but obviously lost out to Hayden Panettiere who really impressed casting directors: I would have much preferred to have seen Stone in the role though. But anyway…

Emma Stone’s career has continued to go from strength to strength and she has proven that she is not just a one trick pony, despite being more than comfortable and one of the funniest women in comedy film at the minute. She had supporting roles in Friends With Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love (where she would work with Ryan Gosling for the first of quite a few times over the next couple of years) before joining The Help. The Help features an ensemble cast of actresses, not one of whom puts a foot wrong in terms of their performance here. Stone joins the likes of Jessica Chastain (another relatively new actress who is just exceptional at her craft), Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Viola Davis. Stone’s performance helped The Help win many nomination and awards for it’s cast’s performances.

With The Amazing Spider-Man, Emma Stone became the latest actress to join the superhero film genre. However, unlike the latest incarnations of Pepper Potts, Lois Lane and Rachel Dawes we have seen, Stone’s Gwen Stacy was not the typical damsel in distress as she could more than hold her own; standing up to Flash, being incredible stubborn in an attempt to save New York that could have seen her killed as well as smacking The Lizard over the head during a fight with Spider-Man. Then Stone joined a much more testosterone fuelled ensemble in Gangster Squad, joining Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie. She recently lent her voice to the prehistoric animation film from DreamWorks: The Croods.

I think you would have to go a long way to find any young actress working today with the combination of talent and on screen charisma that Emma Stone has. She has a wonderful presence on screen with a beautiful charm about her and her career shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Next year will see her reprise her role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while Birdman (from the director of 21 Grams and Babel) is in pre-production. She is also signed on to star in Guillermo Del Toro’s exciting Crimson Peak which is snapping up a superb cast in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain.

Hopefully we will get to see Emma Stone taking the lead in more and more films over the next few years but for now I am happy enough seeing her play supporting roles if she continues to be as good as she is right now!

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I’m pleased to see Affleck getting the recognition he deserves as a director.

The Golden Globes took place last night and Argo was the hit of the night winning Best Drama and won Ben Affleck Best Director. This would suggest that Argo is now the favourite to pick up the Best Picture Oscar (it was already many people’s favourites and this will just strengthen arguments) but will that be the case?

Argo will face tough competition at the 85th Academy Awards from Les Miserables in particular which picked up the Best Musical or Comedy Golden Globe last night. I’m not sure why the Golden Globes feels the need to separate films into drama and musical/comedy but that’s what they do and they infer that Argo will be going head to head with Les Miserables. The cynic in me still thinks that something like Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty will get the win thanks to their very strong pro-American vibes. Last year, The Descendants and The Artist were the winners of Best Motion Picture Golden Globes and The Artist went on to stuff its face with more and more awards in the following weeks, I can’t see the same happening for Argo to the same extent but I wouldn’t say an Oscar is beyond doubt.

However, Ben Affleck is not even nominated for Best Director at the Oscars! I think the Best Director Oscar is well up for grabs and any of the five nominees (Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke, David O. Russell, Benh Zeitlin) could easily win it. But surely it says something that the winner of the Golden Globe for direction is not even nominated for the Academy Award? Personally, I though Affleck’s direction was one of the best features of Argo!

Lawrence is one of the youngest actresses to be nominated for an Academy Award and the Golden Globes suggest this could be her year.

The Best Actor Oscar looks set to be between Hugh Jackman and Daniel Day-Lewis and these are the two people I would have been backing before last night. I do hope that Daniel Day-Lewis wins the Oscar as he is clearly one of the best actors that his generation has seen, and I would go so far as to say he will go down as one of the greatest of all time. Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain will compete for the Best Actress award and Lawrence is nailed on favourite so it’s hard to look past her for this one.

The rest of the Golden Globes correctly predict the winners for me: Christopher Waltz for Best Supporting Actor, Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress, Adele to win for Best Original Song for Skyfall and Quentin Tarantino to win Best Screenplay.

In terms of the acting awards last year the Golden Globes were a certain prediction of the Oscar Awards but only time will tell if this year will follow suit.

Can Shia LaBeouf really act? How much does Gary Oldman need to be in a film to make a lasting impression? How tough can a man in a cardigan really be? These are all questions that Lawless poses and answers in it’s running time. Lawless is a post-western gangster flick based on the novel The Wettest County in the World: during the prohibition era the Bondurant brothers run a liquor bootlegging operation but new crooked Special Deputy Charles Rakes is after a share of the profits. The backbone of the story is the coming of age journey of the youngest brother, Jack Bondurant.

Jack Bondurant is played by Shia LaBeouf and this performance soon put to bed any doubts I had about his ability to be taken serious as an actor, I think that Lawless will be the film that builds the bases for LaBeouf’s future audition tapes because he is surprisingly good! However, he isn’t good enough to steal the show, despite being the main character. Guy Pearce was the stand out performer among an all star cast as the villain Charles Rakes; Pearce is incredibly good that as the film goes on you just can’t help but actually be filled with genuine hate towards his character. Gary Oldman manages to make sure his part of the film, although small, is unforgettable; Oldman pretty much picks up a check for shooting a car to pieces and hitting someone in the face with a shovel. Job done. Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska do their jobs well to stand up well in a very testosterone driven film and the latter is definitely going to steal some hearts with this performance.

Tom Hardy who is having a terrific career puts in a performance just as good as any he has done before. He doesn’t have a lot to say as his character, the leader of the Bondurant boys Forrest Bondurant, isn’t much of a talker but as everyone soon finds out, if you anger him you will know about it. It is Tom Hardy that really proves that even though a man is wearing a cardigan he can still kick your ass ten times over before you even have time to raise a fist in defence. The real quality of Hardy’s performance comes in his timing and delivery which is perfect all the way through the film. There is a running joke (sort of a myth or a legend rather than laugh out loud puns) that the Bondurant boys are invincible, immortal or indestructible and after a few scenes with Forrest Bondurant you certainly believe this to be true.

I have read that the script has been accused of being lazily written in places but I found Lawless to be very well written; it was slow paced that led up to a big ending in the final act with enough action in between to keep everyone happy. Guy Pearce and Shia LaBeouf have a great fight scene which is one of the best and most genuine I have seen for a while. The relationships between the Bondurant brothers and their dynamic is really what makes Lawless interesting and the character development throughout is wonderful.

The final act comes down to what most gangster films end with. A gun fight. A lot of the time I am not a big fan of a shoot out because I don’t really find them that exciting, I would much rather see people going toe to toe in hand to hand combat but I found that the amount of care you had invested in the central characters did enough to make the shoot out a riveting watch as you jump around in your seat hoping and praying that none of your favourite characters are going to die and you can do nothing but wish and wish and wish that Pearce’s villain finally gets his comeuppance.

Lawless isn’t for everyone, but it was certainly for me.

My Rating: 8/10.

Let’s start with some great news for fans of Pixar. For a while it has been thought that there would be a sequel coming up to Finding Nemo, which is probably my favourite Pixar movie there has been so far. No plot details have been released yet but surely it can’t just be Nemo getting lost again and needing to be found? They could go the ‘Taken 2‘ route and have Marlin needing to be found instead this time but that would just be ridiculous too. Pixar don’t usually screw up so fingers crossed but the news this week about the sequel is that Ellen DeGeneres is back for the sequel. DeGeneres played Dory who is often thought of as the most popular character of the first film so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Lawless is hitting the cinema screens next week and with the cast it boasts (Hardy, LaBeouf, Oldman, Chastain, Pearce) it should surely be a hit. The western is the oldest genre in cinema and is still one of my favourites to this day and I am glad that some big name actors are trying to bring the genre back to the forefront of cinema. Natalie Portman is producing and also starring in a film called Jane Got A Gun where she plays a woman whose husband comes home pumped full of bullets so she reaches out to a former lover to protect her homestead from the criminals who are on the way to finish off her husband. Michael Fassbender is in talks for the role of the former lover! Brilliant news, this could well be another mark of how versatile Fassbender really is.

Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire are set to team up for a new film with a strong message which takes aim at the horrible world of animal trafficking. DiCaprio and Maguire have long been friends with very strong animal rights opinions and DiCaprio has done plenty of work campaigning for better animal rights. Hardy has recently been fully informed of the actions by friends of his that used to be in the Special Forces but now work as anti-poaching fighters across the world. As of now the trio is only producing the film but with all three having such strong opinions on the subject I wouldn’t be surprised to see one, two or all three of them taking a starring role too.

Space Jam was released way back in 1996 and revolved around Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes friends recruiting basketball superstar Michael Jordan to play in a basketball match between the Looney Tunes and a group of aliens who stole the talent of some NBA heavyweights. Modern day Miami Heat star LeBron James has said that he is a huge fan of the film and has expressed interest in teaming up with Bugs, Taz, Daffy Duck and the rest for a sequel. Warner Bros. aren’t actually developing a sequel yet but James’ interest could be the push they need: Warner Bros. always want to make money, the Looney Tunes are guaranteed to pull audiences and sportsmen always want to be actors these days so I would suggest everything is already in place to get it going!

And finally… Tom Hanks has become a viral sensation this week and has earned the respect and adoration of thousands of new fans because of a set of pictures that have appeared on the internet. Tom Hanks is known for being pretty easy going and having a quirky and fun personality and now he has proven it once more as three pictures arrived of him pretending to be drunk and have his glasses stolen by a fan of his. Hanks shows he never gives acting a break and really plays up for the camera! See the pictures below…

 

 

Stars: Kathryn Bigelow (director), Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Scott Adkins, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Harold Perrineau.

Plot: The Navy SEAL Team 6 tracks down wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Two years after becoming the first woman in history to win the Oscar for Best Director ( for The Hurt Locker, which also won Best Film) Kathryn Bigelow teams up again with writer Mark Boal to bring this dramatisation about the monumental day in history when arguably one of the most infamous international criminals and terrorists was killed in what the trailer describes as ‘the greatest manhunt of all time’.

There are a few recognisable faces among the cast but not many names people will be familiar with; the most notable probably being Jessica Chastain (who will be appearing later this year in the highly anticipated western Lawless). Mark Strong seems to be Hollywood’s go to guy for a villain so it will be interesting to see who he plays. I was surprised to see Harold Perrineau among the cast as he is just one of the many men who has to live his life always being known as “that guy from LOST“. However, with The Hurt Locker relatively unknown actors were used and Jeremy Renner is now a wanted name in the movie industry so it will be good to see if there is a break out star from Zero Dark Thirty too.

The story is one that people want to know of course. The world rejoiced when Bin Laden was killed and no sooner had his death been reported had Hollywood began plans to turn it into a film, to direct I think Bigelow is a very good choice. However, I am very sceptical about how true to life the film will be as it is very unlikely that the general public will ever really know what happened and it seems very unlikely that they would show the American government in a bad light.

As for the trailer itself I think it is very promising; it is only a teaser but it has made me very interested. Not a lot of footage is shown but you can tell there will be a thriller element to it and I would expect it to be as good, if not better, than The Hurt Locker which I very much enjoyed!

Lawless [Trailer]

UK Release Date: 7th September 2012.

Stars: John Hillcoat (director), Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska

Plot: Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.

The Western looks set to make a glamorous return to the cinema screens later on this year when Lawless is released. Directed by John Hillcoat and packed with more than enough big names to overlook the fact that the cast list includes Shia LeBeouf (who will never do anything near as good as Even Stevens in his entire career) Lawless was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes film festival, therefore proving it must have some merit.

Brits Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman work together again (both will appear in The Dark Knight Rises) and are joined by Guy Pearce as his career continues to have somewhat of a resurgence over the past year or so. The female representatives in Lawless come in the form of critics favourite Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska who are both talented enough to more than hold their own among the male heavyweights here.

Lawless is based on novel The Wettest Country in the World by Matt Bondurant who wrote the book based on his own grandfather and great-uncles. This movie seems to have everything the critics will adore, but will audiences feel the same way? Unfortunately I doubt that this will hit big mainstream numbers as the success of Westerns have been limited over the past decade or more. However, with the stellar cast and the gangster aspect to the film if it is marketed right it could cause a big surprise at the box office!