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Posts Tagged ‘Armie Hammer’

Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer

“FINAL PORTRAIT” My rating: B 

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Genius marches to its own drummer, expecting mere mortals to keep time. And if we can’t maintain the pace, genius will  blithely leave us behind.

Stanley Tucci’s droll “Final Portrait” depicts a real-life encounter between genius in the form of artist Alberto Giacometti and a young man whose idol worship will come back to bite him in the posterior.

Based on James Lord’s 1965 memoir A Giacometti Portrait, the terse film, punctuated by deadpan comedic moments, depicts a 1964  incident in which Lord, an American journalist who often wrote about the art scene, agreed to pose for Giacometti in his Paris studio.  At the time the artist — known worldwide for his elongated sculptures — was concentrating on painting.

Lord is played by Armie Hammer as a handsome but bland young man, probably gay, who jumps at the chance to spent time in the presence of greatness. Giacometti, portrayed with rumpled self-absorption by Geoffrey Rush, says the sittings will take only a couple of days.

Maybe he honestly believes that. In any case, the three-day sitting turns into a three-week slog, with Lord dutifully showing up every day to sit while Giacometti paints, chain smokes, curses, repeatedly starts over and finds numerous opportunities to lay down his brush for alcoholic and sexual diversions. What started out as an art fan’s thrill turns into an existential dilemma.

Time after time Lord must cancel the plane tickets for his return to New York. He detects a recurring pattern in the artist’s  reluctance — refusal even — to finish a work, and begins playing mind games to nudge Giacometti toward completing the portrait.

All this unfolds in the artist’s studio, a cellar-like dustbin right out of “La Boheme” filmed in desaturated hues that cloak everything save human flesh in a gray pall.

And there are other players here. Like Giacometti’s brother Diego (Tony Shalhoub, almost unrecognizable), an artist in his own right who spends most of his time puttering around the edges of his older sibling’s environment and vaguely commiserating with Lord.

There’s Mrs. Giocametti (Sylvie Testud), who is not thrilled that her husband has become so obsessed with a local prostitute (Clemence Poesy) that he buys her a spiffy sports car.

 

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Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME” My rating: A-

132 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Call Me By Your Name” could be categorized as a coming-out story, but that’s oversimplifying things… like saying “Citizen Kane” is a movie about the newspaper business.

Director Luca Guadagnino (“I Am Love,” “A Bigger Splash”) and screenwriter  James Ivory (yes, the director of “Howards End,” “A Room with a View” and the Kansas City-lensed “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge”) are painting on an intimate canvas here, yet their adaptation of Andre Caiman’s novel is an epic of mood and emotion.

It’s about youth, sexual awakening, family love and the warm glow of summers past. It’s enough to make you swoon.

Set in the summer of 1983, “Call Me…” chronicles a lazy but significant six weeks for 17-year-old Elio (an unbelievably good Timothee Chalamet).  The son of an American father and an Italian mother, he’s been raised in Italy with all the intellectual stimulation he can handle. He’s smart, multilingual and maybe some sort of musical prodigy.

Enter Oliver (Armie Hammer), the American grad student hired by Elio’s professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) for a summer of research on Roman statuary. Oozing a big grin, Yankee self-confidence and nonchalant studliness, Oliver makes a big wave among the town’s young women.

Initially this visitor strikes Elio as arrogant. But Oliver also stirs something else in Elio. Not that Oliver seems at all receptive…if anything he appears oblivious.

Interestingly enough, it’s Elio’s father and mother (Amira Casar) who first notice the slow-burn sexual sizzle that’s been introduced to their household…not that they comment on it directly. But their sidelong looks speak volumes. (They must be the most understanding movie parents of all time. Atticus Finch could take lessons from them.)

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Left to right: Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley

“FREE FIRE”  My rating: C+

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

A dozen tough guys stewing in their own testosterone. A van packed with illegal weapons.  A briefcase full of cash. A closed environment from which there is no easy escape.

What could go wrong?

A streamlined 90 minutes of pumped-up bullet blasting (literally) and wienie waving (metaphorically), “Free Fire” is the latest from Brit action auteur Ben Wheatley (“Kill List”), but its origins are pure Quentin Tarantino, with special nods to “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Hateful Eight.”

In an abandoned umbrella factory in Boston an arms deal is taking place.

Chris (Cillian Murphy) has crossed the pond to buy automatic weapons for the IRA (the time is the mid-‘70s, judging by the dreadful fashions, hairstyles and absence of cell phones).

He’s backed by the grimly efficient hitman Frank (Wheatley regular Michael Smiley), Frank’s screwup brother-in-law Stevo (Sam Riley), and Stevo’s worthless running buddy, Bernie (Enzo Cilenti).

Selling the weapons is Rhodesian gun runner Vernon (Sharlto Copley), a world-class sleazebag whose smarmy mouth keeps writing checks his fists cannot cash.  Good thing his seemingly civilized partner Martin (Babou Ceesay) is there to keep Vernon in check.

Vernon has his own goon squad on hand:  The mountainously hairy Jimmy (Mark Monero) and the wizened Gordon (Noah Taylor).

Supervising the transaction are the two middlemen who set up the deal.  Ord (Armie Hammer) is a superslick dude in a turtleneck and blazer who oozes post-modern irony; Justine (Brie Larson) is a cool beauty sharp enough to verbally emasculate chauvinists like Vernon but willing to use her seductive skills to get what she wants. (more…)

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Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

“THE MAN FROM UNCLE” My rating: C+

116 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Having dragged down the great Sherlock Holmes to our world of short-attention-span cinema, Guy Ritchie now turns his camera on a fondly remembered TV series from the 1960s.

And, to give credit where it’s due, he has had the good sense to go easy on his usual hyperkinesis. “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” isn’t particularly memorable, but it introduces some interesting ideas and avoids the most headache-inducing elements of this director’s style.

The original was television’s answer to the James Bond craze. Unlike the overtly satiric “Get Smart,” “U.N.C.L.E.” (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) took a dry, tongue-in-cheek approach to international spying.

And in Napoleon Solo (portrayed back in the day by Robert Vaughn) the series gave us an impossibly unruffled, cooler-than-cool protagonist, who could view his own imminent demise with sardonic indifference.  The series was so huge it spawned action figures, toy guns and much more — one of the lunchboxes even has a home at the Smithsonian now.

Ritchie and a small army of writers give us an origin story that is less impressive for its dramatic elements than for its painstaking re-creation of swinging Europe in the ’60s.

Things get off to a busy start when the nattily dressed Solo (Henry Cavill, the current Superman) enters squalid East Berlin to spirit Gaby (“Ex Machina’s” Alicia Vikander), a tomboyish auto mechanic, over the Berlin Wall to freedom.

Their escape is almost foiled by a Soviet agent (Armie Hammer), who with his slow-burn,  hulking presence and almost superhuman strength seems a close relation to Robert Shaw’s assassin in “From Russia With Love.”

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