Tag Archives: alicia vikander


John David Washington’s in the wrong place at the wrong time in this Netflix thriller.

The Premise: Beckett (Washington) is on vacation in Greece when he suffers a tragic car accident, which is only the start of all his problems. Turns out, the abandoned building he crashed into was hiding a kidnapped child, and now Beckett’s in all kinds of trouble, injured and on the run in a foreign country, chased by corrupt cops and determined criminals.

The Verdict: I feared at first that this was simply going to be one of those photo-finish races to the American Embassy: been there, done that. It wasn’t, quite, but nor did it amount to much more. Washington tries his best, and Alicia Vikander oozes enough chemistry to account for his motivation, but the film remains frustratingly underwritten, never giving us enough to fully invest in the thrill, let alone buy into just how quickly Beckett turns from simple tourist to just shy of super hero. His maneuvers are increasingly ludicrous, his luck notoriously bad, and the logic behind this whole farce is something best left unexamined. If you’re in it solely for the chase, you won’t be disappointed, but if you’ve come to expect character and story, maybe give it a pass.

The Glorias

Gloria Steinem is 86 years old; I wonder how she feels about getting the biopic treatment while she’s still alive. She was a leader for the American feminist movement in the 60s and 70s. She is a journalist, activist, and the co-founder of Ms. magazine.

At least four actors portray Steinem in the various stages of her life, including Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander. Director Julie Taymor clearly wants to impress us with a litany of Steinem’s experiences, influences, and achievements. There are a lot. So many they start to lose their power, they start to feel less real. Which is counter-productive to the goal of celebrating Steinem’s life. Reduced to a mere character, we never get a complete sense of who Gloria is as a person, Taymor gets trapped in an achievement-oriented cycle that feels more like separate segments in a shared universe than a narrative running like a river through a single life.

Individually, a lot of these chunks work. The talent is there, and the story-telling is inventive. Unfortunately, Taymor’s flair as a director doesn’t seem suited to Gloria’s no-nonsense attitude. There is almost certainly an interesting story here, I’m just not sure this script ever had a firm grip on it, despite Taymor’s accumulation of gifted actors and clever staging. It feels more invested in painting a fuller picture of history than it serves Steinem’s particular place within it.


Danielle is a privileged professor, studying the deep, deep depths of the ocean. She spends Christmas at a swank hotel in France, where she meets James on the very cold beach, and they go for a swim. James is a hydraulic engineer who drills wells in third world countries. He dreams of Nigeria, but I’m not sure they’re always sweet dreams. They fall in love, of course. Danielle (Alicia Vikander) and James (James McAvoy) have a whirlwind hotel romance, but eventually they’ve both got to go back to work.

Danielle ends up on a deep-submergence vehicle where the tiniest mistake may mean death. But she’s seeing parts of the ocean that inspire her research and scratch her science itches. It’s too bad that she’s constantly distracted – James, you see, has been out of touch for weeks, then months. She doesn’t know whether he’s dead or just ghosting her. Unbeknownst to her, he’s been taken hostage in Somalia by jihadist terrorists, who suspect he is a British spy. He suffers months of torture all the while dreaming of their idyllic Christmas refuge.

Submergence is, therefore, two very separate movies, and its only strength is the chemistry between the two leads, which is very brief indeed. Once they’re isolated, they’re very isolated – he in a windowless cell, she in submarine miles underwater. It’s lonely and cold.

Here we have a salt water spa experience called Källa . In its 12% salinity, you float, weightless. The tomb is quiet, and pure. With little other sensory input, you are alone with your thoughts, which seem to float along the surface just like you. This movie is a little like that. It’s got no real weight, just snatches of remembrances and memories that paint a lovely flashback but that’s about it.

I suppose there’s a metaphor here – how love is a refuge in a violent world – but it’s just so darn inaccessible, and frankly, it tries one’s patience. And that’s really too bad because McAvoy and Vikander are doing gorgeous work that’s just gone wasted. Sad face.

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is the tough and independent daughter of a wealthy adventurer who disappeared 7 years ago and is presumed dead. So when she learns his secret obsession with an ancient Japanese myth, she pursues him to the unknown island that seems to have swallowed him whole. It seems like a really bad decision to follow in the footsteps of a dead man, but Lara (Alicia Vikander) doesn’t just put her life on the line, she involves an innocent stranger too (Daniel Wu), just as her father did. So if you’re wondering who the Croft family is, they appear to be in it solely for themselves, and fuck every body else.

So Lara makes her way to this evil island where she meets up with a bad man named Mathias (Walter Goggins) and things go from merely murdery to a whole shit tonne MV5BMTBjZDBiNGEtYjhlMC00YmM1LThmZWEtOWE1ZjhhMDg5MDEzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODAyMDA1MDk@._V1_of worse.  And even though she’s been violently shipwrecked and then hunted, actually hunted on an island that seems intent on killing her, she somehow maintains a perfectly shaped brow and stubble-free armpits, which are constantly on display thanks to a skimpy outfit that seems particularly ill-advised when visiting malaria-infested countries. So while Lara may be about to out-box me, I’ll still take the victory because I packed the DEET. Though I suppose I should concede that the Vikander version of Lara is slightly more grounded and slightly less lustily rendered on the screen than was Angelina Jolie.

Tomb Raider is fine, I guess, except for some painful green screen moments that are ENTIRELY unconvincing. And the fact that it’s boring as shit to watch someone solve a puzzle when the puzzle is never shown or known to us. It’s just a lot of knob twisting. Vikander is tough as balls but the story is uninspired and makes no arguments for its own existence. This franchise didn’t need a reboot and it got a rather lacklustre one, despite Vikander’s charm.


The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans is a film for the literary sort. It’s poetically paced, languid in its development. It’s about a man (Michael Fassbender) who, having survived the war, is keen on some isolation and takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on a lonely island. He doesn’t count on falling in love, and is delighted to double the population of his rock when he takes a wife (Alicia Vikander). Now all they need is a baby and they’ll have a real population boom on their hands.

the-light-between-oceans-heroine-alicia-vikander-picturesBut wait. The babies aren’t coming so easily for this young couple. In fact, the only baby that comes is one that washes ashore, screaming in her dead father’s arms. It’s the lighthouse keeper’s duty to report orphaned baby to the mainland, no matter how much his distraught, infertile, grieving wife may want to keep her. Right?

The Light Between Oceans is beautifully shot by DP Adam Arkapaw; you’ll be sick of the postcard-perfect scenery by the end of the movie. We get it, it’s gorgeous. Fassbender and Vikander fit right in (once she shaves off his mustache anyway), pantomiming love so well they actually fell in love themselves, and are a couple to this day. They’re committed in their roles and aren’t to be blamed when this film ultimately falters.

What makes it stumble?  The pace may be a deterrent. While I was okay with the unhurried the-light-between-oceanspace, I worried that Sean was bored. Or asleep. He assured me he was neither, and I nearly believe him. Second, and hugely, is the contrived plot which forces the characters to behave rather stupidly. As much as you want to like them, and have liked them, you will grow frustrated. And emotional: director Derek Cianfrance is adamant that you cry. He will not be satisfied, or leave well enough alone, until you do.

Testament of Youth

See Alicia Vikander before she was famous, Dominic West in his authentic accent, and Emily Watson being stellar as always in increasingly diminished roles.

Vera Brittain was a real-life independent spirit. She vied for and won a spot at Oxford and vowed “never to marry”, even if those sounded like famous last word when uttered just as a very cute boy enters the picture. Turns out, he has Testament-of-Youth_3141581ka thing for sharp and feisty young women, and the two are a love match and plan to be at Oxford at the same time (unchaperoned, even). But every great love story needs an obstacle and feminism wasn’t enough, so along came The Great War to shake things up.

Tag line: Divided by war. United by love. Did you just puke a little in your mouth?la-et-mn-testament-of-youth-review-20150605

Luckily the tagline writer was an aberration and the film itself is quite good. Vera’s mind expands and excels at Oxford, and no one is less grateful for her education than she. Women still have to prove themselves worthy of degrees and now she’s feeling left behind again, when her brother, her friends, and her love are all leaving for the front. But Vera’s not one to take a back seat – soon she’s giving up her beloved scAlicia-Vikander-as_3141524bhool to become a nurse.

Vikander (who replaced Saoirse Ronan) is every bit the revelation that Ex Machina proved she was. She’s poised and luminous, and while the movie doesn’t contribute much that is new to the war genre, Vikander makes it more than worth a look.

Her The Danish Girl co-star, Eddie Redmayne, also starred in his own WW1 eddieepic, called Birdsong (based on the Faulks of the same name). He plays a young man who goes off to war remembering the affair he had with his French (married) sweetheart. Clemence Poesy is beautiful as ever, but this one may leave you feeling faintly unsatisfied.

Filed Under M

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – Guy Ritchie wanted to make a spy movie that was “sexy, fun, and the-man-from-uncle-alicia-vikander-armie-hammer-henry-cavillfrivolous”, harkening back to the Roger Moore era of James Bond. He got the frivolous part right. This movie doesn’t mean much. It’s got some very charismatic stars, none of whom are served well by the material, and none of whom can pull off an accent as well as they think they can (Alicia Vikander sounds Irish more than German). It tends toward flippant rather than funny. It is very stylish (and stylized), I’ll give it that, but that’s a lot of money to put on a retro fashion show. However, if you’re one of those people who love a vacuous spy movie with no action or suspense, then boy has your time come.

Max – We never would have seen this movie on purpose but it was the second movie in a double-bill at the drive-in, so that explains why we were there, though not why we stayed. We stayed mostly for the people-watching, as it turned out, since the couple in the car beside us were topless, the better for him to expunge the blackheads from her back, while their interior lights are on, for all the world to see. It really made me reflect on how I might multi-task while at the drive-in. Suggestions? My only suggestion to you is to skip this movie. Lauren Graham and Thomas max-coverHaden Church play a good old flag-waving, down home American couple who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Their eldest son dies in Iraq, and his service dog gets decommissioned from the army (sorry, marines) and comes to stay with them, to be loved and trained (and healed!) by the angry younger son. The army honours its strong tradition of turning its back on veterans with PTSD, even when that vet is a dog who just wants to serve his country and retire in peace and kibble. Convoluted plot devices ensue to really bring this family together in their grief, with heavy doses of patriotic piety that I found hard to swallow. Makes you proud to be Murican I guess. A country song plays over a memorial to dead wartime dogs at the end.

mortdecai_612x380_0Mortdecai – I think this movie was a bet. I think someone just decided to see how much weird they could cram into a movie, as long as that weird was uninteresting and unremarkable. I was embarrassed for the simpering Johnny Depp, and for his mustache.

Ex-Machina: How to Expertly Avoid Reviewing a Movie

So last week, the Assholes enjoyed a late lunch on a sunny patio, some margaritas as we planned a future trip to California, and a movie that we all admitted to thoroughly enjoying.

ex-machina-movieEx-Machina is a damn fine piece of cinema that we all came away from chittering about like we’d been starved of good film-making for centuries (and it being Avenger week, I guess it did kind of feel that way). And then we all promptly avoided writing about it.

Now why is that? Probably because I’m not interested in rehashing plot. I am, however, frothing to talk about what happens, really happens. So I’m writing two posts. This one, spoiler-free, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet: Go see it. It’s about a beautiful robot who’s (artificially?) intelligent and has a sporting vagina. How can you resist that? Answer: you can’t. See it immediately, and then come back to discuss.

And for those of you who have seen it, please follow this link to the real meat and potatoes, where we can finally get all those glorious WHAT THE FUCKS off our chests. Sound good? See you there.