Tag Archives: Saoirse Ronan

Interview: Violet & Daisy Writer-Director Geoffrey Fletcher

Violet_and_Daisy_PosterPrior to skyrocketing to fame courtesy of an Academy Award and “Precious,” Geoffrey Fletcher had another feature brewing, and one of an entirely different genre and tone at that.

“Violet & Daisy” stars Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan as the title characters, a pair of best friends who also happen to be a team of teenage assassins. When they’re not gossiping about their favorite celebrity, they’re armed, dangerous, and meticulous about their hits. Locked and loaded, the girls frolic off to what they think will be a short and sweet gig, but it turns out that taking down Michael (James Gandolfini) is no easy task and not for the reason they’d expect.

With the film due for a June 7th limited release, Fletcher took the time to sit down and discuss the transition from this to “Precious” and back again, the challenge of making a film that mixes drama with comedy while infusing it with a fairytale-like quality too, making the decision to nix a digital format and shoot on film, and more. You can catch everything Fletcher had to say about making “Violet & Daisy” as well as an update on “Attica,” a film about the 1971 Attica Prison riot to be directed by Doug Liman, in the video interview below.

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Tribeca Review: Byzantium

Byzantium_PosterSaoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton are captivating enough, but this hybrid drama-period piece lacks the zest, pace and tension you’d expect from a film digging into the repercussions of vampirism.

Clara (Arterton) and her daughter Eleanor (Ronan) may be able to conjure their pointy nails, draw blood, and suck a victim dry, but making enough money to put a roof over their heads is a different story. Over two centuries after leaving their humanity behind to become vampires, the pair is still on the run, struggling to support themselves and keep their condition a secret. While Clara resorts to former human habits, making a living via prostitution, Eleanor consoles the elderly, putting those who are ready out of their misery.

When a run-in with someone connected to their past turns bloody, Clara uproots Eleanor yet again and the two set out to find a new home. Having just lost his mother, Clara befriends the lonely Noel (Daniel Mays) and convinces him to let her and Eleanor live with him at the property he just inherited, a hotel called Byzantium. While Clara runs her brothel out of their new abode, Eleanor reluctantly strikes up a relationship with Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), a connection that tempts her to finally reveal her unique history.

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Review: The Host

The-Host-PosterThe author of “The Twilight Saga” and the director of “Gattaca” just had a baby – an unintentionally laughable, nonsensical, ugly baby.

“The Host” takes place in a future time when an alien race called the Souls invade Earth. Rather than blow up the White House or zap people with lasers, the Souls take over human bodies and use them to turn the planet back into a clean, safe place. They may have good intentions, but clearly claiming bodies without human consent doesn’t fly and the few that manage to escape the colonization form a resistance.

Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is part of that resistance until she’s captured by a Seeker (Diane Kruger) and fitted with her very own Soul, Wanderer. Wanderer assumes control, but Melanie isn’t about to give up that easily and while Wanderer tries to obey the Seeker and use Melanie’s memories to track down the remainder of the resistance, those memories and Melanie’s powers of persuasion make Wanderer doubt the Soul’s cause. Using their shared body, the two team up to find Melanie’s little brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), and boyfriend, Jared (Max Irons), and do what they can to keep as many people and Souls alive.

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Review: Hanna

After Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, it was quite clear that director Joe Wright was capable of great things, however, nothing can prepare you for the greatness that is his latest feature film, Hanna. It’s a visual and mental action adventure film packing enough energy and suspense to blow you right out of your seat and the best part about it is none of those effects are achieved using cinematic copouts, cheesy effects or any stale parlor trick. Hanna is powered by all-around genuinely thoughtful filmmaking and one heck of a performance from Saoirse Ronan resulting in a tense, funny, touching and, overall, wildly enjoyable experience.

Deep in the frigid forest of North Finland, Hanna (Ronan) lives with her father, Erik (Eric Bana), in a primitive cabin without a trace of modern technology. Rather than surfing the Internet and hanging out with friends, this teenager is learning to fight, hunt and speak Spanish, Italian and Arabic amongst other languages. Erik’s methods can be a bit callous, but they’re rooted in his deep love for his daughter and for her safety. However, eventually the day comes when Hanna must leave this life behind, enter the real world and demonstrate that she really is a perfect assassin.

Without her father’s guidance, Hanna is forced to complete her mission alone. She must travel through foreign lands with nothing except what her father taught her while a hardened intelligence operative, Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), and her coldblooded associates follow right behind. The closer Hanna gets to her destination the more she discovers about her father, her pursuer and herself, all of which boil over into an extremely trying revelation.

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Review: The Way Back

No, it’s not right to knock a film for a lengthy runtime, but if a movie is pushing two hours, it better be able to justify it. In The Way Back’s case it does – kind of. While the first portion of the film drags considerably despite impressively effective imagery, it isn’t until over an hour into it that things really become compelling. There’s nothing wrong with a film that saves the best for last, but it still needs to be entertaining while you’re waiting for the good stuff and The Way Back comes a little too close to missing that mark.

In the midst of Stalin’s Reign of Terror, Janusz (Jim Sturgess) is sent to a Siberian gulag after his wife is coerced into convicting him of espionage and criticizing the Communist Party. It doesn’t take long for Janusz to realize he’ll never survive his 20-year sentence and dreams of freedom. As the conditions worsen with the prisoners being forced to brave terrible blizzards and live on measly portions of food, other inmates become aware of Janusz’s plan and together they make their escape.

There’s Mr. Smith (Ed Harris), the stoic American, Valka (Colin Farrell), one of the few real criminals in the camp, Zoran (Dragos Bucur), a former accountant, Tomasz (Alexandru Potocean), a sketch artist who survived in the camp by selling pictures of naked women, Voss (Gustaf Skarsgard), a priest and Kazik (Sebastian Urzendowsky), the youngest of the bunch who suffers from night blindness. Together they must brave the wilderness, the elements and the Communist regime in order to trek south to safety in Mongolia.

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Review: The Lovely Bones

Put a fantastic novel in the hands of an Academy Award winning director and what do you get? Maybe not another award-winning masterpiece, but at the very least a good movie. Well, don’t expect either from Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. If anything, The Lovely Bones will be remembered as one of the most disappointing productions of the year.

On one fateful afternoon, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) walks home from school and right into the clutches of her neighbor George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). What Susie first expects to be an innocent encounter winds up being a malicious ambush ultimately sending her to the afterlife. Rather than making a B-line to heaven, Susie’s attachment to activities on earth lands her in a realm in between mortal life and the pearly gates. From there, she looks down on her family and watches her passing tear them a part.

Her sister and brother, Lindsey and Buckley (Rose McIver and Christian Thomas Ashdale), are heartbroken, but, naturally, it’s her parents that suffer the most. While her mother Abigail (Rachel Weisz) shuts down and neglects her family, her father Jack (Mark Wahlberg) rages out of control in search of Susie’s killer. The only person keeping the Salmons from crumbling completely is the booze-loving, yet caring Grandma Lynn (Susan Sarandon).

The Lovely Bones is an incomplete story. The only people capable of finding any enjoyment in this film are those who’ve read the Alice Sebold novel the film is based on and that’s only if they’re not completely turned off by its poor adaptation. As for the moviegoers unfamiliar with the material, little to nothing will make much sense.

The film starts off promising. When Susie is alive, so is the story, but once Jackson relocates her to his imaginary world of trippy CGI landscapes, you become completely detached. Co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson appear to have just flipped through the book and extracted the scenes most suitable for the big screen treatment without any concern for the grand story that would result.

Not one character is developed enough to be convincing, even the ominous George Harvey. Tucci does a fantastic job at making you extremely uncomfortable and comes the closest to making a significant impact, but in the end, becomes swallowed up by his blatant branding as the villain. Grandma Lynn finds herself in a similar predicament. She has the potential to be a very endearing character, but becomes a caricature in Jackson’s attempt to have her fit a very specific role.

Both Weisz and McIver are victims of plain old shoddy characters. Lindsey doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as she deserves, but at least has one that provokes you to root for her. Abigail Salmon might as well have been removed completely for she makes absolutely no effect on the film and takes away from the more successful characters. When a child dies and her mother fails to make an emotional impact, you know something is seriously wrong. In the context of the film, her actions are completely unjustified and downright ridiculous.

The most poorly casted and painful to watch is Wahlberg. Jack Salmon is a role that calls for an actor with an extreme emotional range capable of portraying a man that loses the thing he loves most. Wahlberg has the emotional range of a stick. If his baby talk voice isn’t making you feel feeble it’s because he’s too busy throwing an unfounded temper tantrum to talk.

The worst part of this film’s failure is that these problems could have easily been avoided. Jackson has fantastic source material in the palm of his hand, but gets far too carried away and completely strips it of any meaning. Jackson’s heaven could have been passable if the audience wasn’t drowned in it. Far too much time is spent showing off cheesy computer tricks when the live action events call for so much more attention. Not only does the misallocation of consideration completely thin out the profound story unfolding on Earth, it makes Jackson’s heaven laughable. Nothing works in The Lovely Bones. It will be a grand disappointment for fans of the book and completely incomprehensible for the rest.

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