I Am Heath Ledger review – uncommonly tender portrait avoids the hard questions 

I Am Heath Ledger review – uncommonly tender portrait avoids the hard questions

3/5stars

Naomi Watts, Ben Mendelsohn and more pay respects to the great actor, in a film that largely ignores the elephant in the room

 
 
Australian actor Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 after an overdose of prescription drugs
Australian actor Heath Ledger died in 2008 at the age of 28 after an overdose of prescription drugs. The documentary I Am Heath Ledger pays tribute to him. Photograph: Spike

IAm Heath Ledger, a new documentary about the late and great Australian actor, is quite nakedly a film about grief, grievers and grieving – though I’m not sure that was the intention.

In their estate-approved film, co-directors Adrian Buitenhuis and Derik Murray summon an array of Ledger’s friends, family and close associates, all of whom speak in the mournfully celebratory way one does when reminiscing on a loved one whose life was cut tragically short.

The first is musician Ben Harper, a close friend of Ledger’s. Harper honestly believes “the earth is off-axis” and “there is something that is universally out of alignment with what happened”, rationalising the death of the heartthrob-cum-posthumous-Oscar-winner by claiming the gods were lying down on the job.

Other interviewees are more melancholic, among them Ben Mendelsohn, Naomi Watts, Ang Lee, Djimon Hounsou and Ledger’s parents and sisters. There are many noticeable absentees, including ex-partner (and the mother of his daughter) Michelle Williams and virtually every director Ledger worked with other than Lee.

Imbued with a trove of old personal videos and low-fi behind-the-scenes footage, and chock-a-bloc with bittersweet reflections of Ledger’s character and ambition, the film has the homemade, timeworn, slightly scrappy quality of a well-used and well-loved photo album. It is sweet but desperately sad, earmarked from the start with a eulogy-like quality that makes no claim to bearing any kind of even vaguely subjective intellectual perspective.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, though it’s clear early on the approach has limitations. This is a documentary first and foremost for fans. The sheer number of people reminiscing in such sincere, unfeigned, heartfelt ways makes the film an uncommonly tender portrait of a celebrity, infused with a sense of humanity.

The downside is an unwillingness to go places the audience probably consider par for the course. The obvious example is Ledger’s death, which is barely given even cursory consideration.

Heath Ledger
‘This is a documentary first and foremost for fans.’ Photograph: Network Entertainment

The focus of the film is, quite rightly, the actor’s life and work, but to ignore the elephant in the room in such a way feels close to dereliction of duty; perhaps also a lost opportunity to inform others about issues such as consumption of dangerous prescription drugs. When Ledger’s longtime agent Steve Alexander observes that he “struggled with some demons”, that’s as far as anybody goes, the closest thing to “demons” being – according to the film – pneumonia and a lack of sleep.

The film arrives in Australian cinemas the same week as another, more inventive documentary about a great Australian artist, Whiteley, which also attempts to explore its subject’s life using his own words as much as possible. Buitenhuis and Murray almost completely ignore formal recorded interviews conducted with Ledger when he was alive, in favour of short (and frequently self-filmed) footage depicting his jocular, off-the-cuff side.

It’s easy to see the logic in showcasing unseen footage, though I wonder if the film would have been a more balanced contemplation of art and artist if it had included more of the actor seriously unpacking his craft.

I Am Heath Ledger is most persuasive as a study of an actor learning and evolving. Like Marlon Brando, Ledger began his career as a hunk but became so much more. His skills, climaxing in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight, seemed to form like the concentric growth circles of a tree, visually evolving with the passing of time.

I Am Heath Ledger plays in limited release in Australia for one week from 11 May

www.theguardian.com

Gotti – The Rise and Fall of a Real Life Mafia Don

Gotti-dvd-films-for-the-ladsGotti: The Rise and Fall of a Real Life Mafia Don is a 1996 HBO original crime drama film made for television directed by Robert Harmon. The film stars Armand Assante in the title role as infamous Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, William Forsythe, and Anthony Quinn. Assante won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special for his performance. Assante also received a Golden Globe nomination the same year.




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Sexy Beast

Sexy-Beast-films-for-the-ladsSexy Beast is a 2000 British crime film and the directorial debut of Jonathan Glazer. Glazer had previously directed music videos and commercials for companies such as Guinness and Levi’s. The film stars Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane. Kingsley’s performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  In 2004 the magazine Total Film named Sexy Beast the 15th greatest British film of all time.

Ex-con and expert safe-cracker Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone) has served his time behind bars and happily retired to a Spanishvilla with his beloved ex–porn star wife DeeDee (Amanda Redman). He also has the company of long-time best friend Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and his wife Jackie (Julianne White). Their serene life is shattered by the arrival of an old criminal associate, the sociopathic Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), who is intent on enlisting Gal in a bank heist back in London. Organising the heist is Teddy Bass (Ian McShane), a powerful crime lord, who has learned about the bank’s vault from Harry (James Fox), the bank’s chairman whom he met at an orgy.

Don-Logan-talks-to-himselfGal politely but firmly declines Logan’s many demands to join the heist, but Logan will not back down. After revealing an obsessive infatuation with Jackie, Logan also makes several unwelcome attempts at reconnecting with her. Logan eventually grows furious, hurling torrents of verbal abuse at the group while at the same time spitefully painting himself as a victim of their betrayal. After storming away in a rage, Logan boards a plane back to London, only to be kicked off for refusing to put out his cigarette. Seething with hatred, Logan returns to Gal’s home with menacing intentions, hitting a glass beer bottle into Gal’s ear. DeeDee shoots Logan with a shotgun, incapacitating him. The four friends join in their efforts to kill him, first beating him, stamping on him, shooting him again, and finally crushing his skull.

Hoping to cover up Logan’s murder, Gal returns to London to perform the job. When asked by Bass about Logan’s whereabouts, Gal feigns ignorance and claims Logan had called him “from Heathrow”. However, Bass is visibly suspicious, and Gal’s anxieties mount.

During the heist, Bass’ crew use surface-supplied diving gear to drill into Harry’s bank vault from a pool in a neighbouring bath house. The water from the pool floods the vault and shorts its security system. While helping to empty the vault’s safe deposit boxes, Gal secretly pockets a pair of large ruby earrings encrusted with diamonds. After the job is successfully completed, Gal’s lack of celebration further raises Bass’ suspicions. Bass offers Gal a ride to the airport, but along the way, stops by Harry’s home. Inside, Bass kills Harry in cold blood and immediately and pointedly questions Gal again about Logan. Gal merely responds, “I’m not into this any more.” Back in the car, Bass suggests he knows what happened to Logan, saying, “Spain, eh? I must drop in sometime. Pay my respects.” He gives Gal £10 in payment for his services, tells him to get out of the car and drives away, leaving Gal to his own devices.

In the final scene, back in Spain, Gal is again home surrounded by his friends and by DeeDee, who is seen wearing the ruby-diamond earrings that he stole. It is also revealed that Logan lies buried under the double-heart insignia at the bottom of their pool.

Cast

  • Ray Winstone as Gary “Gal” Dove, a retired safe-cracker who used to be a prominent criminal and minor celebrity in the London underworld, loved by everyone and a popular figure. He was involved in a heist that went wrong and spent nine years of his life in prison, taking the full rap for the job. Once out, he married DeeDee, the love of his life, and moved to Spain, wanting never to have anything to do with crime again. Although there are strong hints that he used to be a “hard man” back in his old life, he is now a very private person and never shows hostility, until the final confrontation with Don Logan.
  • Ben Kingsley as Don Logan, a recruiter for the London underworld, who puts people together into teams to pull off various heists. A violent, intimidating sociopath, he uses everything in his power — from manipulation to outright violence — to convince Dove to return to London to do a final job. Kingsley, on the DVD commentary, calls Logan “The Unhappiest Man in the World” and in several interviews, has claimed that he based his performance largely on his grandmother, whom he called “A vile and extremely unpleasant woman”.
  • Ian McShane as Teddy Bass, the head of a criminal empire in London. According to an interview with McShane, Bass controls a loose-knit underworld gang that commits a robbery about once every five to ten years. He is a meticulous planner and frequently uses Logan’s services to put his teams together for jobs. Like Logan, Bass does not hesitate to use violence, and shoots Harry in the head in cold blood.
  • Amanda Redman as DeeDee Dove, Gal’s beloved wife, a former porn star who is also trying to put her old life behind her. Logan later tells Dove that her old films are still very popular; it is also heavily implied that it was hard-core footage. According to Kingsley’s DVD commentary, Logan is nearly as afraid of DeeDee as she is of him.
  • James Fox as Harry, a bisexual banker who shows Bass the vault after having sex with him. Harry knows that Bass is after his vault, but believes that his bank is impregnable.
  • Cavan Kendall as Aitch, Dove’s best friend; he and his wife Jackie are happily married, which incurs Logan’s envious wrath.
  • Julianne White as Jackie, Aitch’s wife, who had a brief fling with Logan three years before the film is set.
  • Álvaro Monje as Enrique, a Spanish boy who helps Gal out around the house.
  • Source: Sexy Beast – Wikipedia

The Lads Room verdict:

First of all, don’t be fooled by the name ‘Sexy Beast’. It’s not some low budget porn film featuring animals.

Sexy Beast is a ‘good old’ British film with some ‘good old’ British actors in Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone and Ian McShane.  Ray Winstone is great as the lovable, retired villain   Ian McShane only plays a small part as the somewhat intimidating Crime Boss, but plays it very well.  The star of the show though has to be Sir Ben Kingsley as Sociopath Don Logan.  Overall a great film and well worth a watch.

The Lads Room Rating:  9/10

 

Source: Sexy Beast – Wikipedia

The 17 Highest Grossing Actors In Hollywood

 

highest-grossing-actors-samuel-l-jackson

 

With the right amount of good-looks, gravitas, and charisma, an actor can have a multi-decade movie career. People will first believe him as an impish youngster before graduating him to a smoldering leading-man, until finally relegating him to a movie’s wise elder. Consider Denzel Washington, 60 this year, who was in Carbon Copy in ’81, Training Day in 2001, andSafe House in 2012: impish, smoldering, and finally wise.

These 17 actors make so much money that they could finance an entire nation (well, their careers could.) They’re as lucrative as the manufacturing and import/export industry. Interesting to ponder, because we don’t technically “need” movies (nor do we really “need” textiles, or at least not in as a bountiful amount as we have), but they’re such a cash crop that people keep making them.

If you’re excited, get ready to find out the 17 highest grossing actors in Hollywood, who have each made the industry literally billions of dollars throughout their careers.

Please note that we’ve only provided the domestic numbers, because each studio has different contracts with foreign markets, which might falsify the intensity of some numbers.

 

Source: The 17 Highest Grossing Actors In Hollywood

Trailer for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight released

The Hateful Eight is set 12 years after the end of the American Civil War and sees Kurt Russell playing a bounty hunter who is transporting an outlaw, Daisy Domergue, who is played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, to the gallows for execution.

During a snowstorm, they seek refuge in a cabin and meet a handful of colourful characters played by a cast including Bruce Dern, Michael Madson and Samuel L Jackson.

Tarantino initially announced that the film would not be made after the script was leaked online by Gawker last year.

The film’s expected in Irish cinemas in late December of this year or early January, 2016.