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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Pattinson’

Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson

“THE LIGHTHOUSE” My rating: B

109 minutes | MPAA rating: R

With Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” we don’t so much watch a couple of men go crazy as experience that craziness with them.

The film has been beautifully photographed, but beware…it is disconcerting, perplexing  and alienating. Eggers, who burst upon the scene a couple of years back with “The Witch,”  is less interested in solving mysteries than in creating visual and aural conundrums. We’re expected to come up with our own answers.

At the turn of the last century two men — the salty old Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and the much younger Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) — take up their duties at a lighthouse on a remote island somewhere off the American coast. They are to be relieved in four weeks.

There’s friction from the start.  The experienced and dictatorial Thomas gives his newcomer partner the lousiest housekeeping jobs: cleaning out the cistern, emptying overflowing chamber pots, whitewashing the lighthouse while dangling in a harness, stoking the furnace that creates the steam to power the deafening foghorn. The old man claims the light itself as his special concern;  Ephraim is steer clear of the tower unless specifically ordered to climb those winding stairs.

This is bad enough. But Thomas is an irritating old coot, a monumental farter and snorer who insists on telling boring tall tales of sea life in a Long John Silver voice.

Ephraim has his own issues. He refuses to drink with Thomas…it seems likely that he is an alcoholic whose misbehavior on the mainland has led to a self-imposed exile.

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Jessie Ross, Robert Pattinson

“HIGH LIFE” My rating: C

113 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Claire Denis’ “High Life” takes place almost exclusively on a spaceship millions of miles from Earth and heading toward a black hole.

Those expecting a high-tech geek out should curb their expectations. This is outer space on a limited budget.

The interior of the ship resembles nothing so much as a suburban office park fallen on hard times; even the computers seem early 2000s.  We get only a couple of glimpses of the craft from the outside, and it looks like box.  Once in a very rare while a character pulls on a space suit, but mostly they wander around in red/orange prison-type jumpsuits.

Which is only fitting, since they are all condemned criminals — though we don’t learn that until later on (“High Life” is maddeningly reluctant to give up its secrets…most of the characters don’t even have names). Apparently these travelers were given a chance to leave prison and go on an intergalactic adventure.

As the film begins Monte (Robert Pattinson) is sharing the craft with a baby girl he calls Willow.  The rest of the crew are MIA (at one point he jettisons a few corpses) and Monte has his hands full feeding an infant (there’s a misty greenhouse on board that grows food) and fixing the ship’s systems as they fail. To the extent possible under the circumstances he’s a good father — cuddling and talking to the baby.

The film then flashes back to earlier in the voyage.  Monte and a half dozen other inmates take their orders from Dibs (Juliette Binoche), a lab-coated doctor who is, in a very real sense, a mad scientist.  We never do learn what the mission is about, but Dibs has highjacked it for her own science project.  She seems to have been driven mad by her inability to conceive, and she’s hatching a plot to breed her minions, who spend much of their time drugged into complacency.

Oh, yeah,  there’s also a pleasure room onboard where the residents can go for mechanically-stimulated sexual release. Romantic it isn’t.

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Charlie Hunnam

“THE LOST CITY OF Z” My rating: B

141 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

There are really two movies at work in James Gray’s “The Lost City of Z.”

One unfolds in the well-appointed parlors, bucolic fields and imposing halls of turn-of-the-last-century England.

The other plays out in a world of daunting jungles,  piranha-infested rivers and unpredictable Amazonian cannibals.

Holding those two realities together is the real-life figure of Percy Faucett, an Englishman who embodied his era’s spirit of discovery, scientific exploration and a seemingly superhuman need to experience physical challenges and personal perils.

“The Lost City of Z” (the Z is pronounced “zed,” Brit-style) is the most expansive, grandest vision of writer/director Gray’s career (“Little Odessa,” “The Yards,” “The Immigrant”), achieving at times the sweep of a David Lean epic.

And as is the case with Lean, it sometimes seems that the epic overpowers the human elements.

We first meet Faucett (Charlie Hunnam, about 180 degrees away from his biker Hamlet in cable’s “The Sons of Anarchy”) as a struggling young military officer whose prospects are limited, in the words of one aristocratic snob, because he has been “rather unfortunate in his choice of ancestors.”

Faucett gets a shot at fame and glory when he’s asked by the Royal Geographic Society to travel to the Amazon to prevent a war.  Seems the Bolivians and the Brazilians cannot agree on an official border between their two nations; Faucett is to survey the impenetrable jungle and set a boundary that will ensure the peace.

Accompanied by his equally adventurous assistant, Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson in full beard mode), the two not only accomplish their mission but stumble across tantalizing evidence that somewhere deep in the wilderness are the ruins of a centuries-old city, a metropolis that would have been bigger and more sophisticated than anything in Europe at that time.

Returning to Britain a national hero, Faucett touts his belief in the lost city, leading to accusations that he has fallen for an “El Dorado”-type myth. That attitude is as much racist as it is scientific…Faucett’s belief that the Amazon Indians once had a world-class civilization doesn’t go down well with imperialists who embrace the white man’s duty to raise and/or exploit the world’s great unwashed. (more…)

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Nicole Kidman

“QUEEN OF THE DESERT”  My rating: C+

129 minutes | MPAA rating PG-13

“Queen of the Desert” is quite possibly the oddest film of director Warner Herzog’s wildly idiosyncratic  career.

A mash-up of woman’s picture, real-life biography and sweeping  “Lawrence of Arabia” images, it stars Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell, a British adventuress, diplomat, archaeologist and feminist who became an expert on the Middle East in the years before World War I.

We first encounter our heroine in 1888. The daughter of a steel magnate, she’s being groomed for a fitting marriage.

“You will not scare the young men with your intelligence,” her mother warns, but Gertrude is having none of it. She’s too independent, too strong willed to endure simpering aristocratic society.

(Kidman, now 49, plays Bell from age 21 to 40. Remarkably, she pulls off the youthful Gertrude, thanks to great makeup and God-given bone structure.)

Her exasperated father finally agrees to let her join the British embassy in Teheran where she soon finds herself falling for Henry  Cadogan (James Franco, struggling to maintain a Brit accent), a low-ranking staff member assigned as her escort. Henry’s prospects aren’t promising, but like Gertrude he loves the desert. And he’s not afraid of her independent streak.

Daddy, however, nixes this liaison, and a heartbroken Gertrude turns her back on romance, devoting herself to travels in the Middle East, crossing vast deserts with a handful of faithful local guides.

During her travels she runs across a young T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson), working on an archaeological dig at Petra in Jordan. Years away from his exploits among the Arab tribes in the Great War, Lawrence already wears the native costume that will become his trademark.  He and Gertrude flirt innocently, but neither is looking for a relationship.

Over years Gertrude is befriended by the Bedouin. She also finds a lover — platonic — in married British statesman Charles Doughty-Wylie (Damien Lewis).

Eventually Gertrude is recognized by her government and with Lawrence is part of the commission that divides up the Middle East in the wake of the war.

 

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Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

“MAP TO THE STARS” My rating: C

111 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There have been plenty of great movies about Hollywood.

“Sunset Boulevard.”

“The Bad and the Beautiful.”

“The Player.”

David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars” is not one of them.

It’s got a terrific cast (including recent Oscar winner Julianne Moore) and offers many observations about the pathetically fragile egos of those caught up in the celebrity/career cycle, and of the moral vacuum in which the entertainment industry operates.

What it hasn’t got is one character — just one — who isn’t either homicidal, mental, or otherwise set apart from the rest of us average folk. Now this may be a perfectly accurate reflection of life in LaLa Land,  but it makes for an uninvolving movie experience.

The screenplay by Bruce Wagner (“Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills”) follows the template of a classic Robert Altman film.  Take an evocative setting (Hollywood, Nashville, a wedding, a health food convention) and toss into it a dozen or so characters whose trajectories intersect at various points.

It begins with the arrival in L.A. of Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a fresh face from Middle America seeking her future and fortune in the city of angels. Did I say she had a fresh face? Not pecisely. Agatha has a huge scar on her left cheek and wears old-fashioned over-the-elbow lady’s gloves to hide what she says are burn marks.

She hires a limousine driver (Robert Pattinson, late of the “Twilight” franchise) to give her a tour of the sights and of celebrity residences. He’s actually an actor, he says, and is contemplating Scientology. “I was thinking about converting. Be a good career move.”

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Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson in "The Rover"

Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson in “The Rover”

“THE ROVER”   My rating: B- (Opening Jan. 20 at the AMC Town Center)

102 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There must be something about the wide open spaces of Australia’s outback that drives its filmmakers to post-apocalyptic nihilism.

George Miller and the “Mad Max” films.   John Hilcoat with “The Road” and “The Proposition.”

And now David Michôd with “The Rover,” a sweaty, dusty saga about a man in search of his kidnapped car.

Michôd scored a minor coup in 2010 with “Animal Kingdom,” an intimate portrait of a low-level Aussie crime clan that introduced to American audiences the great Jackie Weaver (who nabbed an Oscar nomination). It  was a dark, generally hopeless look at the ties that bind its characters to an evil enterprise.

Now  Michôd goes full-tilt dystopia. The opening credits of “The Rover”  informs us that the story takes place 10 years after “the collapse,” a worldwide economic meltdown that has left most of humanity struggling with chronic poverty.

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