Ralph Fiennes

Tilda Swinton in Burn After Reading

2011 and 2012 were tough years. Before then, things were plentiful, as every year a new Coen Brothers film would release right on schedule. No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man and True Grit. Truly, it was a great time to be alive. But the next two years after True Grit were a desert. No Coen films. No Coen anything. Not a single trace of dryly broad (or broadly dry?) comic sensibilities, nor the gentle pop of John Goodman’s vocal chords exploding after one screamed line too many. Those were dark times. And when Inside Llewyn Davis swooped in to remind us that Joel and Ethan Coen were both still alive and still capable of putting story to celluloid, things got a little lighter. But still the question remained: when would the Coens return to hibernation? We should be in the clear for now. Their latest film has progressed enough to call it quits on the Coen slumber party. It’s got a title (Hail Caesar!), two cast members (George Clooney and Josh Brolin), and a vague outline of the story. It’ll follow Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer in the moviemaking salad days of the 1950s. Mannix will have to juggle the lives and careers of various hyperactive Coen movie moguls. And now, according to Variety, the film’s got cast member number three: Channing Tatum.

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Grand Budapest Hotel

It’s funny to think one of the most honest movies about families stars stop-motion foxes. Then again, when you know Fantastic Mr. Fox was helmed by none other than Wes Anderson, it’s no surprise that the ins and outs of family have been explored with wit and earnestness. His newest movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, doesn’t have any foxes voiced by George Clooney, but that doesn’t mean Anderson doesn’t strive again for the same nuance underneath the grand theatrics. The magnificence of the acclaimed filmmaker’s eighth feature film comes from both onscreen and off. Some critics have called this his most ambitious work to date, covering various time periods, a huge ensemble cast, and heavy themes reinforced by a sharp sense of humor. It’s also his bloodiest movie yet, which Anderson finds amusing. With all the fascists at this party — attended by a stellar cast too long-winded to namecheck — it makes sense there’s more blood drawn in this crime picture than any of his previous movies.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

As proven by all of his previous films, Wes Anderson understands comedy, drama, music, writing, and structure. He’s been lauded as having an original voice for comedy and drama, but one thing he doesn’t get enough credit for? His action chops. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and his newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, all have their share of action, and each one of their set pieces are wonderful. They came in small doses usually, but The Grand Budapest Hotel is a full on action thriller, completely done with Anderson’s sensibilities. And an action movie from Wes Anderson is as delightful, and as busy, as it sounds. The film jumps around a few different moments in time, but it’s mainly set in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka during the 1920s. Zubrowka is the home of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a lavish establishment visited by old ladies who come solely for Monsieur Gustave H.’s (Ralph Fiennes) companionship. Gustave is the smoothest hotel concierge in all of Europe, and it’s easy to see why: he’s charming, he treats his clientele with the utmost respect, and, at least in some cases, he genuinely loves his guests. One of his most beloved is Madame D., a woman in her 80s who’s at her liveliest when she’s with Gustave. Soon after her visit she’s murdered, and Gustave is the #1 suspect in the case. Chased by Madame D’s son Dmitri (Adrien Brody), his ruthless sidekick Jopling (Willem Dafoe), and fascists led by a typecast Edward Norton, Gustave is forced […]

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joanna-scanlan-in-the-invisible-woman

Over the weekend, our own Christopher Campbell went to bat in a big way for The Wolf of Wall Street co-star Margot Robbie, campaigning to well, start a campaign to get some awards season love for the breakout star in a film laden with talent. Campbell’s claims that Robbie is deserving of recognition for her work in the film are spot-on, as the emerging actress really makes her role as Jordan Belfort’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) second wife her own, turning a bleached-out bimbo into a flinty, funny lady who is one of the few people to get out from underneath Belfort’s abusive thumb by her own agency. Robbie, however, isn’t the only supporting star to endure domestic abuse on the big screen this year in a highly memorable way – elsewhere, Welsh multi-hyphenate Joanna Scanlan worked similar magic in another period piece about a wildly out of control man who ruins lives left and right. In Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman, the personal affairs of Charles Dickens (Fiennes) might not have the same financial implications as Jordan Belfort in WOWS, but the emotion runs deep – at least as it applies to his wife, Catherine Dickens (Scanlan).

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The Invisible Woman

*Editor’s note: Our review of The Invisible Woman originally ran during this year’s NYFF, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens Christmas day in limited theatrical release.* It’s best to assume that when Ralph Fiennes took on the story of Charles Dickens (Fiennes) and his teen lover Ellen “Nelly” Ternan (Felicity Jones) for his The Invisible Woman, he didn’t intend for the film’s big takeaway to be that the beloved British author was basically a big jerk, at least when it came to matters of the heart. And yet, that’s the unexpected result of the apparently fact-based tale, a “romance” devoid of emotion that fails to capture any of the spirit or intelligence of Dickens’ own works. While the film has some very compelling source material, including a book by Claire Tomalin and a script from Abi Morgan (who penned the wonderful Shame and the laughably bad The Iron Lady), it ultimately falls spectacularly flat. Cold, emotionless, and strangely paced, the film thankfully features breathtaking cinematography and one hell of a supporting performance by the real invisible woman in Dickens’ life – his own wife. But this is meant to be a film about a life-changing romance, and it simply doesn’t deliver on that front, no matter how many times Jones wanders a beach with a haunted expression on her face or Fiennes acts out in a horrible way simply because he’s a man in love.

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Great Expectations Trailer

Call it “lowered expectations” or a “great mistake” or just answer that titular question with a big “it already happened, and just last month” – but yes, Mike Newell, Helena Bonham Carter, and Ralph Fiennes made a movie and none of you bothered to see it. That’s perhaps a bit hyperbolic as some people saw it, but the odds that you, the one reading this right now, didn’t see it are exceedingly high. And no, I’m not getting high and mighty on this one – even I didn’t see the film, and that’s entirely the point here. It was called (or, well, still is called, I guess) Great Expectations, and no one cared to see it when it finally hit the American box office in November. Guess the high schoolers haven’t hit that part of their syllabus yet. Earlier this year, I examined whether or not the modern box office (or, at the very least, this season’s box office) was in need of both a new Romeo and Juliet and a new Great Expectations. Curiously, I determined that, sure, a new Great Expectations could be okay (bonus – Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham) and that Romeo and Juliet was a nonstarter. That determination was wrong, at least as it applies to audience turnout.

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The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel-Poster_header

Wes Anderson‘s latest foray into the world of forbidden love is a little more off-kilter than 2012’s sweet childhood romance Moonrise Kingdom. It’s not that Sam and Suzy’s budding union was all sunshine and butterflies; it’s just that The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s events are set off by a mustachioed Ralph Fiennes having relations with an 84 year-old Tilda Swinton. Fiennes plays a top-notch concierge named Gustave H., who takes on an apprentice and confidant to shadow him in all his endeavors. When Swinton’s wealthy heiress suddenly dies, all hell breaks loose as her gang of relatives come after him (“I go to bed with all my friends,” he purrs to her son Adrien Brody. Brave man.) as they realize she’s left some very valuable assets to him in her will. There’s also a small predicament that some believe that he may have murdered her as well. The film appears to be told through the eyes of Gustave’s apprentice, meaning we’re getting a look at a very ridiculous world of adults, even if he truly believes it to be serious and respectable. In true Andersonian fashion, the landscapes are lush, the hotel is ornate and the colors are vibrant; even if the situation is grim, it’s kind of a world you want to be immersed in. Favorite shot of an adult doing a silly task: Willem Defoe riding a motorbike with tiny goggles. Check out the trailer here:

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Celebrity seems to be the same no matter what century we’re in. Be you Charles Dickens, Elvis Presley, or Miley Cyrus, you’ll be mobbed by regular folk just wanting to say “hi” or to shake your hand or to steal a lock of your hair for some secret voodoo shrine. The opening moments of The Invisible Woman‘s trailer sum this up neatly – Dickens may have died over 140 years ago, but even he lived his life almost entirely in the public eye. Yet from there, The Invisible Woman seems to follow a pretty standard course. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy risks his life and reputation for girl, boy slowly spirals into madness to the sound of foreboding classical music. Title cards proclaiming “He was the greatest writer in the world,” and “His greatest story was the one he could never tell” aren’t winning any novelty points anytime soon. But judging by the strength of Ralph Fiennes as an actor (and now, director) and considering that The Invisible Woman will likely see Fiennes reciting a whole lot of Dickens in fancy Shakespearean tones, expect to be wowed (or at least suitably entertained) by The Invisible Woman. The one drawback? No actual invisible women. That’s flagrant false advertising. Go ahead and watch the trailer below:

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Maggie Gyllenhaal

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that’s been out of work since casting agents seem to be treating the week between Christmas and New Years as one prolonged food coma. If there’s one thing that Jurassic Park taught us, it’s that nature finds a way. Well, casting finds a way too. In a week where there isn’t any news getting leaked to the trades, leave it to Albuquerque Business First to break a new scoop. The eagle eyes over at The Film Stage noticed that, in an article about how that Michael Fassbender-starring rock and roll comedy called Frank is coming to town to shoot, the local source managed to break the news that Maggie Gyllenhaal is coming to town with it. Her involvement in the film sees her joining a cast that includes not just Fassbender, but two of the young MVPs of 2012, Domhnall Gleeson and Scoot McNairy, as well. Which, you know, makes her one of the luckiest ladies in the world.

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A Look Back at the Cinematic Facial Hair of 2012

The movies released in 2012 have been notable for many reasons, impacting or reflecting news events both positively and negatively. It’s also seen new innovations, the most notable being the first release of a film in 48 frames per second. However, cinematic historians will also look back on 2012 as being a banner year for facial hair. The entire crew of Film School Rejects relishes glorious facial hair (and yes, that also includes the ladies on staff). We all wish we could have half the style that characters in the movies this year displayed on their lips, chins and cheeks. Now, as the year draws to a close, we reminisce on the many styles we’ve seen on movie screens in 2012, and maybe give some tips on how to grow your own face so glorious.

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Skyfall

Skyfall feels, in many ways, like the last film in Daniel Craig‘s tenure as James Bond. It’s only his third go round as the British secret agent, but he’s already haggard, unshaven and tired of the back-stabbing, gun-toting rat race. When a list of MI6’s undercover agents is stolen (that’s right, it’s the old NOC list chestnut!) Bond and Agent Eve (Naomie Harris) are tasked with recovering it, but the mission goes awry and Bond is left for dead. He’s not, obviously, but he’s enjoying the peaceful anonymity and seaside screws too much to give a damn about anything else. But when MI6 is attacked back in London Bond rises from the dead and returns to duty. He tries to anyway, but injuries, indifference and a battered spirit threaten to keep him on the bench. It’s only when the stakes get personal for him and M (Judi Dench) that he musters the will needed to fight back. But will it be too late? Skyfall is big, beautiful entertainment that delivers the expected action set-pieces but adds truly artistic visuals and multiple odes to Bond films of the past fifty years. It’s never dull, occasionally surprising and unafraid to delve into Bond’s life more than any film since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Unfortunately (and unnecessarily), all of that comes at the price of gaping plot holes and staggering lapses in logic.

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Daniel Craig Skyfall

God help whatever poor soul is given the task to follow up Sam Mendes‘s work on Skyfall. Mendes has brought the James Bond franchise to a level beyond what we would hope and expect from a fifty-year-old series. Most characters couldn’t endure that lengthy amount of time, but Mendes and the brass behind the franchise have made a bold reason to believe that Bond is far from dead. Even looking past Roger Deakins‘ rich cinematography, Thomas Newman‘s intense but subtle score (which I’m listening to/fawning over as I write these words), and the magnificent locations milked for all their beauty, there’s still plenty more to love about Skyfall. Mendes has brought his voice to the franchise while also preserving Bond’s greatest traits, making the film one hell of a character-driven action movie. But just how did he do it?

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Jason Schwartzman

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom followup, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is a movie that’s shrouded in a (relatively thin) veil of secrecy. Sure, we know that it’s going to be about a hotel, and we know that it’s going to feature an ensemble cast, but as far as specifics regarding who exactly will be in the cast and what specifically the story is about go, Anderson is keeping his lips sealed. Despite his unwillingness to spill any of the precious beans, however, a couple names have been confirmed over the past few days.

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Great Expectations Trailer

Seeing as we already got a version of Charles Dickens’ assigned-to-you-freshman-year-of-high-school classic “Great Expectations” that was adapted by a Harry Potter director (Alfonso Cuarón) back in 1998, some might be under the impression that we don’t need another. But Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell would beg to differ, so he’s put together his own film version of the much-loved-except-by-high-school-freshmen story, and he’s challenged Cuarón to a secret benefactor showdown. For those of you (us) who slept through your high school English classes, Great Expectations centers on the character of Pip (War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine), a young boy of meager means who nevertheless befriends a creepy old rich lady named Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter), falls in love with her beautiful but twisted young ward Estella (Holliday Grainger), and eventually becomes a young gentleman with a bursting pocketbook and a wealth of potential due to the generosity of an anonymous benefactor (identity withheld). How does this all hash out in regards to Newell’s new film? If its new UK trailer [via Empire] is any indication, it gives Newell the chance to distance himself from the miserable failure that was his last film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, re-embrace the spooky mood-building that made him a good fit for the Harry Potter franchise, and work with respected actors like Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, and Sally Hawkins.

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One of this fall/winter’s more anticipated films for action junkies is the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. This time around, Bond’s 23rd to be exact, the titular agent is tasked with protecting M and looking cool while doing it. He may also get to slip in a quick shower or two with an attractive woman between all the shooting, running and falling out of things. The official synopsis is here: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.” Sam Mendes directs Daniel Craig in his third go round as Bond, and they’re joined by Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw. Check below for the new Skyfall teaser that aired during last night’s Olympic Games opening ceremonies. It was a nice pairing with the Bond-themed video featuring Craig escorting the Queen to the games by helicopter before the duo skydived down to join the masses.

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Big James Bond action, big screen, it’s a natural fit. Oh, and MGM probably needs the money that an IMAX release will pull in. IMAX, Eon Productions, MGM, and Sony announced today that their upcoming James Bond installment, Skyfall, will also be available on IMAX screens in tandem with the film’s wide release. The film has not been lensed for IMAX screens or sound, but it will reportedly be “digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology.” So it’s going to be big and loud and probably just really kickass. Skyfall will be the first James Bond film to be available in IMAX, and its release marks the fiftieth anniversary of the franchise and the twenty-third film in the series. Directed by Sam Mendes, the film will see Daniel Craig back as Bond and Judi Dench returning as M – an important casting note, as the film will reportedly center on the relationship between Bond and M, as “Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.” Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, and Naomie Harris round out the film’s cast, which will be a more classic standalone film, after the last two Craig-starrers (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) all worked within the same story. You can read the full press release after the break, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Could a first-look photo be more dull than this? It’s just James Bond sitting poolside, like any other Joe Shmoe. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the guns? Where’s, I dunno, James Bond’s face? This is a photo which could be from almost any type of film, nothing screams “Bond.” It’s such an odd photo to release, but, then again, it’s a still for a film almost a year away. By looking at this photo, a part of me can’t help but to imagine the parody version of Sam Mendes‘s Bond outing, since it only features the character staring down all sad-like. Imagine Bond narrating, “My name is James Bond. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life. I’m 42 years old. In less than a year, I’ll be dead,” as a whimsical but sad Thomas Newman score abruptly plays over Bond’s snark. If the franchise character gets even an inch mopier than what we saw in Quantum of Solace, I could see it being something along those lines. Or maybe Mendes will get the franchise back on the right track, which I feel fairly confident about. Take a look at Bond seriously debating if he should go back in the pool or not:

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The Must See Movies of January 2012

With the gut-wrencher Shame, an uncomfortably funny Young Adult, Spielberg’s heart-string pullin’ War Horse, a high-flying Tintin adventure, the shining return of Cameron Crowe, the oversized popcorn blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the overlooked hilarity of Carnage, the pulpy thrills of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the subdued near-masterpiece that is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, last month was a pretty fantastic time at the movies. Now we’re entering January. While this time of the year is usually a dumping ground — and we’ll be getting plenty of films of that low-caliber — there’s a surprising amount of films to check out this month, mainly the award-ready expanding releases.

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This might be the kind of casting rumor that some might see as a spoiler so be forewarned. MovieWeb is reporting that they’ve heard through the questionable, pinch of salt-style grapevine that Ralph Fiennes‘s claim that he’s “a government agent,” in the new Bond film Skyfall means a lot more than he’s allowed to say. Their estimation, and confirmation (for what it’s worth) from an insider source at EON, is that Fiennes will be playing M as a replacement for Dame Judy Dench who is bowing out after this installment. Doing the math, that means they’ve gotten a younger M, a much younger Q (Ben Whishaw), and that the whole thing is sponsoring Sesame Street. If this is true, it comes as bittersweet news because Dench and Fiennes are both amazing in different ways. It was refreshing to see a strong female presence commanding respect over Bond, and it’s about to turn back into a Boy’s Club, but there’s no denying the forcefulness of Fiennes. Which is the new fragrance he’ll be putting out next year. Seriously, it’s good news/bad news, but hopefully the movie involves a knife fight between the two of them. Don’t let us down, Mr. Mendes. The people demand a knife fight between Queen Elizabeth and Lord Voldemort.

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Let me start by confessing that I was a Theater and English major and have spent much of my academic career studying the works of the bard. William Shakespeare‘s plays were written as entertainment for the everyman and perhaps it does say quite a bit for the dumbing down of human civilization that work once enjoyed by the average Elizabethan “Joe” is now considered incomprehensible – but that doesn’t mean they are incomprehensible. Shakespeare’s been ruined for too many people who sat through interminable high school classes listening to their peers try to read it out loud. Director and star Ralph Fiennes has made his Coriolanus, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, very accessible and very relevant. Maybe because I live in the land of Occupy Wall street, but scenes of heavily armed police ready to bash citizen protesters are chilling for me. There’s nothing really foreign about the language of the film (lifted straight from the stage play); it is still English for goodness sakes. Sometimes, it is a good thing for people to stretch their brains and challenge their minds. Yet, even so, the poetry of the film is used in a very natural way, making it very accessible to an audience not familiar with it. The story is hardly tough to follow, and the updating of the setting is not only effective, but really makes knowledge of Roman history unnecessary. The rise and fall of a stubborn, powerful man who seeks revenge against those who betrayed him […]

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
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