Tag Archives: Cate Blanchett

TV Review: The Sandman

STORY

To those who are new to this Sandman world, the one fact you need to understand about this drama and comic book story of The Sandman is that the story is about a dysfunctional family called ‘The Endless‘. And they are seven siblings in different forms. And they are Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, and Dream.

‘The Sandman’ centrally focuses on Lord Morpheus, the ruler of Dreaming and the king of dreams. One day, he is captured by the occultist Roderick Burgress and is imprisoned for more than a hundred years until he gets a chance to escape and return. But when he returns to Dreaming, he witnesses it in a terrible state. Along with his only remaining loyalist and librarian Lucienne, Morpheus travels to different worlds and timelines to restore order to his kingdom, clean the mess and fix the chaos that occurred in his long absence.


PRODUCTION

After decades of pulling attempts to come up with a perfect project to execute for either film or television for one of the most acclaimed comics of all time, Netflix eventually succeeds in shaping the best possible adaptation the global audience would have ever demanded. The show has its flaws but the most important valuation to observe is the graphic detailing and writing of one of the most complex comic book stories.

The show is handled with care by some influential writers of the film and comics. Allan Heinberg is well-known for Young Avengers and JLA series while David S. Goyer is widely acclaimed for writing the Blade and Dark Knight trilogies and co. writing Call of Duty video games. The main showrunner is Neil Gaiman, the writer, and creator of The Sandman. So when the God of this universe is running this show, then there is neither a question nor disapproval about dramatizing his creation.

I am usually against taking liberty from the major elements of the original writing that includes the fundamentals of the characters. But at the same time if the author or the creator doesn’t object or holds the creative control of the film or tv show based on his/her own writing, then even if I find the changes to be in the wrong direction, I find no reason to object because the creator himself/herself is the control head and approves the developments.


PLUSSES

There were many reasons that established the theory or a prediction that ‘The Sandman’ will be praised and accepted once it is released on Netflix. One reason is that the original work has a massive following. Then, as mentioned above, Neil Gaiman himself is the showrunner so whoever the director he chooses to execute their writings, he knows the job is done with satisfaction.

Another plus is the extraordinary production budget that is quite understood after the viewers have enjoyed the luxury of watching some stunning visuals. And then the casting is excellent. Tom Sturridge as Dream and Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian are examples of accurate picks. Even for supporting but important roles, very well-known actors like Charles Dance, David Thewlis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Fry, Souad Faress, Nina Wadia, Gwendoline Christie, Meera Syal, and Jenna Coleman make rounds in a few episodes. If that wasn’t enough, we heard memorable voices of Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead too.

The continuity of the screenplay is intrigued with a thoughtful and metaphorical portion of understanding some dark elements of life. The episode with Dream’s sister Death is very touching and upsetting but is also my favorite of the show. A kind of perception in which a human is made aware of his/her death by the angel that begins with contacting them and communicating. The whole process is so well dramatized.

This is followed by Dream reminiscing about his centuries-old friendship with Hob Gadling when he grants a customer’s will to live forever back in the 14th century and keeps meeting him once every hundred years in the same bar. This idea touched me and began to question myself, what if time travel was ever true? What if all of us could travel to any timeline, meet random people, speak to them in different centuries, just like that. Those who are deeply concerned about dreams like me will agree to me that dreamers deserve to have a companion or a truly loyal friend in his/her dream. Such an idea can only exist in dreams and Lord Morpheus, the king of dreams, is the key to all this stretch.

Then there is Doctor Destiny‘s dystopian take on the human race circulating their lives around truths and lies that he tests at a diner. That whole episode is superbly stretched to make his point.


MINUSES

A few portions of writing and aesthetics are not to my satisfaction. Netflix with its cult application of political correctness makes the entire dramatizing of the original writing an agenda to moralize forced inclusivity. Although the creator Neil Gaiman has no objection at all, but this is not the first time at all. The direction clearly indicates making many characters homosexual has a purpose. I am not against this form of diversity, I support it, but there should be a method of addressing it through the story instead of dramatizing it like a protest.

Amongst all the characters, the one actor that I am not convinced of selection is Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Because she looked more angelic than the devil in the role. If the showrunners were adamant to go for a female Lucifer then they should have picked an actress with a lot darker persona. A female Lucifer had to be someone with more devil or gothic vibes. Any of Eva Green, Krysten Ritter, Cate Blanchett, or Helena Bonham Carter would have made superb Lucifer.


COMIC ADAPTATION

This is actually another ‘PLUS’ element but I want to address it separately due to a broad detailing a comic geek can speak and emphasize. We comic book readers generally have been raising this matter for a couple of decades that a television show or a film usually doesn’t do justice while translating the comic pages into this medium.

Because it is hard to deliver the same impact to the viewers that the readers had when they read that all. And it is admirable to observe how ‘The Sandman’ successfully developed a lot of moments from the graphic issues. And at some scenes, even the whole dialogue of a few particular scenes is delivered in the same way.

I wonder how every Sandman reader would have reacted when Death showed up to Dream followed by a conversation when they were sitting together.

Or when John Dee was thanked.

In a very interesting sequence, imprisoned former queen of the First People, Nada briefly appears whose eyes catch Dream’s figure passing from her prison and calls him Kai’ckul. The whole scene is pictured in the comics and will definitely proceed in the second season as showrunner Allen Heinberg has confirmed to one of the sources.

The terrible state of the Dreaming after Lord Morpheus returns is all accurately depicted.

Desire’s tall naked statue Threshold, the fortress of Desire is taken from the beginning of the second volume, The Doll’s House.

Dream’s centuries-old friendship with Hobb Gadling was well translated from the pages. The entire table-talk of centuries constitutes from issue#13.

The whole 24-hour diner episode happened in issue#6 called 24 Hours which is considered one of the darkest and the most horrific tales in comics history.

The whole Dream vs Lucifer challenge is well dramatized. In fact, comics had a lengthier challenge if I am not mistaken.

Dream’s meeting with ‘The Three‘ had a darker portrayal than comics.

Dream and Corinthian face-off exactly happened in the convention just like issue#14.

Even Corinthian stabbing Dream’s palm was covered.

Gilbert getting scared of Corinthian was different in the show. He actually lost his stature when Corinthian joins him in the elevator.


CLOSING REMARKS

There is so much to talk about ‘The Sandman’. But I hope the quality that the showrunners have settled the story in and the aesthetics that has mesmerized us audience shall be maintained for the future.

I am hoping that the show must be stretched to at least five seasons to cover all the aspects and elements of the writing. The Sandman is the best adapted comic book-based television show that I have watched. I recommend all the viewers who loved the show, to read the original content.

The Sandman is a 75-issue storyline that was written in seven years. This was followed by many spin-offs and Neil Gaiman wrote a few of them. But ‘Overture‘ and ‘The Dream Hunters‘ are those that must be read. Especially, Overture because it is the prequel of the entire Sandman story.

To those, who are very interested to watch a fantasy drama, The Sandman is currently the best I can think of to recommend.

Film Review: Don’t Look Up (2021)

Two astronomers find out that a comet is about to hit the planet in six months. So they try to explain and alarm the catastrophic situation to the president and to the media but to their shock, no one believes them or takes them seriously. Instead, Adam Mckay shows a deep disturbing materialistic world where humans are greedy, careless, and irresponsible.

Don’t Look Up is a mockumentary or an ugly horoscopic ultra-predictor of the cosmic negligence that is excessively thoughtful. The elements may connect to everything how the world revolves now like global politics or global warming. Adam Mckay since The Big Short has been pretty much critical about US politics and the new dark dramedy is a poetic way of protesting.

Don’t Look Up has a star-studded cast in Leonardo Di Caprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep but they all had an average performance besides Di Caprio, and Jennifer Lawrence. Especially Di Caprio’s display of anger on the live show was just terrific. I felt that piece of performance was a bit personal as he himself has been voicing his concerns about global warming for years.

I think the film will definitely make rounds at the Oscars. Nominations for the best editing, original screenplay, actor, actress, director, and picture look very likely to me. The final thirty minutes were simultaneously disturbing, destructive, and melancholic. Looking at the plotline, I was eager to know how the film is going to conclude and Adam Mckay perfectly put it to an end. Don’t Look Up definitely is one of the best films of the year.

Ratings: 8.7/10

Film Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Marvel readers! when you plan to watch a superhero film like Thor Ragnarok, I advice to forget what is written in the comics and just try to watch and imagine if this is not about Ragnarok to hit Asgard but a friend playing to you a parody video on YouTube to hit your brain like when you have to watch Meet The Spartans after 300.

Thor: Ragnarok is a true competitor to Guardians Of The Galaxy in Marvel Cinematic Universe in the race of colorful circus entertainment, supported by the films of Doctor Strange and Ant-Man.

And kindly do not expect any source material from Planet Hulk. It is just the costume in the combat reminding you about the comic event. I do not remember if any other element has been adapted. Perhaps the character of Korg who debuted in the storyline. And Hulk is speaking like a toddler, like Solomon Grundy, or like Eater Island Head asking for gum-gum from a new dum-dum. I really don’t know why but Hulk sounds stupid.

Grandmaster, ruler of Sakaar, one of the Elders of the Universe, the brother of Collector, one of the long-standing villains in Marvel, is ehm funny. Loki, who appeared as a threat to Asgard and almost an unbeatable villain to the assembled Avengers in the first Avengers film, is a proper clown.

Ever seen Sir Anthony Hopkins funny? No? Now you can watch him as Odin for a short scene. The news was that Odin was supposed to be shown a crazy hobo wandering on the streets of New York after what happened in Thor: The Dark World but the director found the continuity of the role very tragic and then he recreated the character to be funny until he is moved to Norway to honor the character’s origin as the king of Asgard.

In my observation, the only two characters who were not the part of this comical roller-coaster were Hela and Heimdall. And these two were actually the most impressive roles with better performances by Cate Blanchett and Idris Elba. I like the continuity of Heimdall’s heroics in this film which is where the director deserves to be praised. By the way, Hela in comics is Loki’s child whereas, in the film, she is Odin’s daughter and Thor’s older sister, oh well.

Two of The Warriors Three are in the film for *thinking* 10 seconds? The other for hardly 5 minutes. Doctor Strange has a brief ‘funny’ cameo in the storyline. Yeah, he is also funny for a funny reason. Everyone is funny in the film, everything is funny in the film. Hulk/Thor fight is funny. The opening sequence of Thor-Surtur is funny. Yeah, Surtur also. Korg is funny (but I like this character). End-credit is funny. The director Taika Waititi is funny. Hiring this guy for the film is funny. Marvel Cinematic Universe is funny. The way I am now writing this review is also funny but this is exactly how the film is presented to you.

I hear that Taika Waititi is ‘offered’ to make a Star Wars film. May the audience have the courage to watch that film then.

RATINGS: 2/10

Movies of 2013 – My Opinion, My Picks

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While I was hanging on Facebook and trying to put my effort on jumping towards the conclusions of the year 2013 and pickings from different aspects of film making, up comes the idea from my subconscious mind that why don’t I blog my choices? Sounds a great idea!!!

It is good to see that readers from many parts of the world get connect with the WordPress and by chance read my blogs. Academy Awards function will take place on March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. I was terribly waiting for most of English-language movies of 2013 to watch in good print. Downloaded the movies I needed to watch (mostly Academy Awards nominated) at minimum 720p. I have watched them in last couple of months and I sincerely am thankful to my readers and friends on Facebook recommending me the movies of last year. 

So here is my pick from 2013 English-language movies whether nominated in Academy or not:

Best Production Design: 

The Great Gatsby

We know what Baz Luhrmann is capable of. He is well-know for making stylish and very fashionable movies like Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). Here he does the same as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby always demanded a ravishing look into the lifestyles of the Buchanan’s and parties of the Gatsby. Baz left me no option to look elsewhere.

Best Production Design - The Great Gatsby
Best Production Design – The Great Gatsby

 

Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby

So I forgot to propel you that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby not only demanded a ravishing look into the lifestyles of the Buchanan’s and parties of the Gatsby, but the novel also raises the significance of the dresses, the uniforms, the wardrobes to be used as per fashion and hugely fitting into a high-society urbanized life to convince and portray how the novel grows the writings on you. Catherine Martin was the lady hugely responsible for Moulin Rouge’s success as she went on to win 2 Academy Awards for Art Direction and Costume Designing for that movie. And once again she is just beyond the class in costume designing for The Great Gatsby. Bravo!

Best Costume Design - The Great Gatsby
Best Costume Design – The Great Gatsby

 

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity

Although I didn’t like this space movie but few elements were inviting. One of them was the sound blowing in your ears. The volume at space the movie spoke produce hysteria. By listening Sandra Bullock in her misery and trying to connect with the team, you are rubbing your ears as if you are trying to connect with them. Plays a vital role and that is where Gravity convince me.

Best Sound Mixing - Gravity
Best Sound Mixing – Gravity

 

Best Sound Editing: Rush

Vrrrrrroooooooooooooommmm, gear shifting, breaks, pressing accelerator hard. An epic F1 race between two great racers need that sound. Viewers need to feel the beat. Sound engineering has been a lusty ear therapy and it grows more in your eardrums with the intensity of battle on track between the two.

Best Sound Editing - Rush
Best Sound Editing – Rush

 

Best Music, Original Score: About Time

When it comes to writing music score for the movie, then it is supposed to be musical enough to make the screenplay and scenes of the movie catchy. That is the quality the musicians like Vangelis, Gabriel Yared, Hans Zimmer and Gustavo Santaolalla have, their scores flow and grow in the movie. Chariots of Fire, The English Patient, Dark Knight trilogy and Babel are such great examples.

About Time is a British movie directed by Richard Curtis, and with a disciplined film-making as the screenplay appealed, music score needed a heavy influence. Nick Laird-Clowes satisfies my ears from act 1 scene 1, when narration and intro begins. I must mention that Gravity and Rush are the other two which impressed me in this department but About Time is my pick.

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Best Music, Original Score – About Time

 

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: The Wolf of Wall Street

If Ron Howard’s Rush was ever adapted from a memoir, I would have straightly picked it for this category. So Jordan Belfort’s book with the same title is my pick which Martin Scorsese successfully adapts and does justice. Most of the events happening in the movie is true. You can figure out yourself in http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/12/31/wolf_of_wall_street_true_story_jordan_belfort_and_other_real_people_in_dicaprio.html

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - The Wolf of Wall Street "even this scene is true"
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – The Wolf of Wall Street “even this scene is true”

 

Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Nebraska

But when it comes to original screenplay, then I find strong competition between Ron Howard’s “Rush”, Spike Jonze’s “Her” and Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska”. Rush is sports drama film based on true events while Her is sci-fi romantic comedy film not close to reality. But Nebraska is a pure leather from alligator. Making the movie in black-and-white presents a poetic theme + an amazing father-son chemistry produces a gem. Screenwriter Bob Nelson did a timeless and terrific story writing and this was his debut in movie as screenplay writer.

NEBRASKA
Best Writing (Original Screenplay) – Nebraska

 

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

She didn’t impress me in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ also directed by David O. Russell. But this movie is the real platform. JL is Rosalyn, wife of Irving played by Christian Bale. She is a mad lady who suddenly loses her temper. Mad in love with hubby will never file a divorce. Her role is shorter than the rest of all major characters in the movie but it is about influence and demand of her character developing in the script in the next half. Body language, facial variations, voice tone flexibility are just close to perfection. She richly deserves ‘Best Supporting Actress’ award on 2nd of March.

Best Supporting Actress - Jennifer Lawrence
Best Supporting Actress – Jennifer Lawrence

 

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Although I am not a lot in Jared Leto movies but by chance I watched him in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club. This was one of the best roles played in 2013. Jared Leto plays Rayon, a transgender woman, who suffers with HIV,  joins fellow HIV fellow Ron Woodroof played by Matthew McConaughey as his business partner who will bring more HIV patients to Ron to join the Dallas Buyers Club. The role of Rayon was fictional and didn’t exist in reality but there are two most important aspects in this role. First thing is body transformation, he lost 30 pounds (14 kg) for the role. Secondly, the role itself. You won’t find Jared Leto in the role, he/she played an incredible role.

Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto
Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto

 

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

How could I not pick Cate Blanchett for this category? This Woody Allen movie is not at all about his direction, it is first about her and perhaps has played her finest performance of career so far.  Jasmine is an elite Manhattan socialite who is married to 9 years elder wealthy business magnate Hal played by Alec Baldwin. Things go against her and lose a huge fortune. She is mentally broken and financial status is badly wrecked.

It is almost impossible to read or measure her mental capacity when it comes to play a character in tantrum. She beautifully manage her character when she is normal, when she is about to burst out, when she is talking to herself or when she gets angry. So many times, viewers including me won’t understand her timing, we simply are not able to analyze the whole temperament. I will be surprised if she didn’t bag ‪AcademyAward for ‎BestActress on 2nd of March‬.

Best Actress - Cate Blanchett
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett

 

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Well to be honest it was a very hard decision. I was stuck between him, Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years A Slave”, Bruce Dern for “Nebraska” and Robert Redford for “All is Lost”. Besides Robert Redford, all are nominated for ‘Best Actor’ this Academy Award, so whoever wins between the three are deserving for me. I made my mind and picked McConaughey above them.

He is Ron Woodroof, who suffers HIV and the doctor has marked his death in maximum 30 days (but actually dies in 6 years). Like Jared Leto, he has transformed his body by losing 47 pounds (21 kg) for the role. Secondly, the aggression, the accent, the body language will take you to some other heights. In short, McConaughey has produced one gem of a performance which perhaps will remain highlight of his career.

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Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey

 

Best Director: Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Need no introduction, but he produce a gem in almost every movie he directs. This time it is The Wolf of Wall Street. It is Jordan Belfort’s memoir which he adapted. It is 180-minute movie with 569 eff-words, the length you don’t expect to see in English movies but the quality is it will not bore you. The Belfort story will slowly slowly grow on you, things will be presented in such a way that you will ignite in their environment. Money, drug, sex are Scorsese’s favorite elements and will satisfy and propel you. With a critical subject, Scorsese has directed far better than other directors in my view.

Best Director - Martin Scorsese
Best Director – Martin Scorsese

 

Best Picture: Nebraska

And now my final say. Apparently the most understood movies, which I believe were the finest products of the year 2013 were Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her and Rush. I am very surprised Ron Howard’s “Rush” is nominated nowhere in Academy Awards categories. Anyhow, out of these 5 pictures, my pick is Nebraska. It is a story entirely different from the other four.

Nebraska is a case study of father-son chemistry on a simple plot. The old man is alone and he foolishly thinks he really won a million-dollar lottery. No one at his home trusts him but he is stubborn. His young son finally makes his mind to take him to Nebraska where he is supposed to collect his prize. It is a tale of a lifetime, a moment for old man to cherish once. The black and white concept of the movie produce a poetic nature.  Every scene is like a hidden message. Truly the best picture of 2013…

Best Picture - Nebraska
Best Picture – Nebraska