Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) Film Review

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Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), a war hero who was badly injured rescuing his colleagues, is recruited to the CIA as an analyst. When he is sent to Russia on a mission by handler Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to look into the affairs of Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) things get messy. They only get messier when his wife, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) turns up.

It’s exciting and Jack Ryan is a great character. There was tonnes of action, all the stuff I love. Running and shooting and the like. I even didn’t mind Keira Knightly, though I’m still far from a fan. Wonderful to see Kenneth Branagh back – I haven’t seen him for ages!

 

Everest (2015) Film Review

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Based on the wonderful book Into Thin Air by John Krakauer, Everest tells of the tragic story of one season where several expeditions fell into tragedy. It follows two of the main adventure tourist groups who work together to reach the mount despite having to compete with a variety of other groups. Then they are hit by some disastrous weather and many of the climbers die.

It had been several years since I read the book, so I couldn’t quite remember the fates of the various different characters. None-the-less, I knew bad things were going to happen, and this did not make things any less tense. Plus, the cinematography is spectacular – I am aware that it is a combination of computer graphics and real shots, but it was just stunning. Oh, and the variety of different actors with their fabulous New Zealand accents – I loved that bit!

The Imitation Game (2014) Film Review

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Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a socially inept mathematician who, along with a series of other personnel, including a woman, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) break the German’s Enigma code using the first computer – a giant, electric machine. But, years later, he has some issue with the police, it is revealed he is gay and that is illegal and he is treated extremely poorly.

It’s not bad. It’s another in the category of extremely smart men with unusual habits who have beautiful women help them get through and are forever recognised as geniuses (A Beautiful Mind, The Theory of Everything). I found Benedict Cumberbatch perfect in this role, but he plays the rude upper-crust man so well (hence being a magnificent Sherlock). I was disappointed to see Keira Knightly appear, but for once, I really enjoyed her performance – she is good as the somewhat snobby but ultimately plucky English gal. And I get that the film has a whole other significant story about Turing’s sexuality and how poorly he was treated because of it. And add to that the treatment of women, and you have a film that says things about important issues. But overall, it didn’t do it for me.

The Imitation Game won an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Graham Moore) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Keira Knightley), Best Achievement in Directing (Morten Tyldum), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Picture, Original Score and Best Achievement in Production Design.

A Dangerous Method (2011) Film Review

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Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), a student and colleague of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) cures a patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) who then becomes both his student and his lover.

I don’t know how much of this story is true. What I do know is how much of the story is dull. Lots of very long conversations between the three main characters in various combinations. I felt as though it was possible that Keira Knightley may have been quite good in this performance, but I am so fed up with seeing her pouting and flouncing in so many other roles that I just can’t tell.

A Dangerous Method was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Viggo Mortensen)

 

Anna Karenina (2012) Film Review

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Set in Russia quite some time ago, Anna Karenina tells the story of Anna (Keira Knightly) who is happily married to the staid and steady (and boring) older man, Karenin (Jude Law) until she meets the charming soldier, Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). They cause a scandal in society with their flirtatious looks and dancing and eventually their love brings them both down.

This is an extremely beautiful film. Cinematically stunning, with the theatrical absurdity that I have long loved from Tom Stoppard. For me, the film was a bit long, but it was so stunning that I didn’t mind. I didn’t even mind Keira Knightly’s pouting or the long, drawn-out shots with the single tear slowly tracking down her face. It was worth it even just for the spectacular dance sequences with the languid and stunning movements. I wish I’d seen it on the big screen.

Anna Karenina won Oscars for Best Achievement in Costume Design and was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and Best Achievement in Production Design. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, won a BAFTA for Best Costume Design and was nominated for BAFTAs for Best British Film, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Film Music and Best Make Up/Hair