Tag Archives: hugh jackman

At the movies: The Top 10 of 2017

10. “The Greatest Showman” A lot of critics hated it, but I loved it. Hugh Jackman is in his element in this feel-great (albeit not historically accurate) movie about circus impresario P.T. Barnum.

9. “Coco” Disney-Pixar dazzles once more in the colorful spectacle the honors the traditions of family, music and paying respects to the deceased. The film expertly captures emotions across the board.

8. “War for the Planet of the Apes” The perfect ending to one of best movie series reboots ever. Andy Serkis is stellar in his motion capture performance as Caesar, in a medium that he has almost singlehandedly defined.

Hear Tim’s take on the year’s top 5 films with Tom Barnard on “The KQ92 Morning Show” (segment begins 9 minutes in).

7. “Logan” Hugh Jackman finally gets his wish and delivers a hard-edged, R-rated story of Wolverine, a swan song to the character flanked by brilliant performances by Patrick Stewart and newcomer Dafne Keen, and expert direction by James Mangold.

6. “The Disaster Artist” James Franco is otherworldly as the director and star in this bizarre opus about Tommy Wiseau, a mysterious film star wannabe with deep pockets who self-finances what many dubbed the “Citizen Kane of Bad Movies” — a film that went on to become the midnight movie cult classic “The Room.”

5. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” The eighth film in the Skywalker family saga not only captures the tone of the original “Star Wars” films, it elevates the franchise to a whole new level with unexpected plot turns and developments by writer-director Rian Johnson. After his stunning debut at the helm of “Episode VII,” it will be exciting to see what Johnson creates for the upcoming fourth “Star Wars” trilogy.

4. “I, Tonya” Several critics have called this movie “The ‘Goodfellas’ of figure skating,” and it couldn’t be more on the mark. Often told from a first-person perspective that breaks the fourth wall, Tonya Harding (brilliantly realized by Margot Robbie), should finally feel vindicated after becoming the most hated woman in America after the infamous Nancy Kerrigan leg-rapping incident before the 1994 Winter Olympics.

3. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” The power trio of Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell gather to realize writer-director Martin McDonagh’s riveting yet darkly comedic tale about a woman who harasses local law enforcement when they fail for years to yield any leads in her daughter’s murder case.

Gary Oldman Darkest Hour

2. “Darkest Hour” Gary Oldman gives a career performance as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in riveting historical tale recalling how Churchill stood up to all detractors as Hitler’s forces came dangerously close to seizing all of Europe and changing the face of history forever. If Oldman isn’t awarded a Best Actor Oscar for this, the Motion Picture Academy will have lost all its credibility.

1. “The Shape of Water” Guillermo del Toro meticulously constructs the most fascinating tale of the year, which feels like an homage to “Creature from the Black Lagoon” yet ventures into uncharted waters by playing up the romantic angle between two central characters that was never fully realized in the 1954 classic. Featuring affecting performances by Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins, along with an iconic turn by Doug Jones as the filmmaker’s version of the gill-man, “The Shape of Water” is easily del Toro’s best.

Honorable mentions: “Dunkirk,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Wonder Woman,” “Loving Vincent,” “Thank You for Your Service,” “IT,” “Split,” “Alien: Covenant,” “Baby Driver,” “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.

Movie review: ‘The Greatest Showman’ is dazzling spectacle

AUDIO: Tim reviews “The Greatest Showman” on the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard. Segment beings 8 minutes in.

“The Greatest Showman” (PG)

Given the number of liberties the filmmakers take with circus impresario P.T. Barnum and his work in the film, it’s hard to exactly call “The Greatest Showman” a musical biopic. Instead, it’s more of a musical drama that’s inspired by different points in Barnum’s life that’s set, naturally, in the 1800s, yet incorporates modern music. If it sounds like a massive challenge, it is — yet ultimately, “The Greatest Showman” becomes a dazzling spectacle that works wonders.

A passion project for Hugh Jackman, who sings, dances and emotes as Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” has been in development for years, and thanks to the good buzz and eventual acclaim and fortune experienced by “La La Land,” the timing is perfect for an original musical. Better yet, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriters who wrote the Oscar-winning music for “La La Land” also wrote the music for “The Greatest Showman,” which explains why the music in the film is so engaging. And while the not all the tunes in “The Greatest Showman” are stellar or destined to become standards, the songs work within the context of the film, and are the keys to its success.

If you read up on Barnum, you’ll find out that

he had a pretty eventful life apart from the circus, including that of a newspaper owner and a politician. The film, of course, focuses on the events that led up to the formation of his circus, which began as a museum for strange inanimate objects that didn’t do so well. When he introduced people of all shapes and sizes into the mix with different oddities into the mix, however, the show took off, but wasn’t entirely embraced by the public.

Directed by Jackman’s fellow Aussie Michael Gracey,  “The Greatest Showman” also focuses on Barnum’s traveling promotion of opera singer Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), which was his attempt to legitimize himself in the eyes of the hifalutins and critics, who weren’t so kind to his show of oddities. A key subplot in the film, the inclusion of the Lind story helps flesh out some of the baggage Barnum carried from his youth into his adult life, and further helps balance the film in the showman’s desperate search for acceptance.

Apart from the show’s tunes, the cast is top-notch, from Zac Efron as Barnum’s business partner and Zendaya as an acrobat. The best in show honors in “The Greatest Showman,” though, go to the always-engaging Jackman and Michelle Williams, who plays his supporting wife and greatest confidant Charity Barnum.

Lammometer: 9 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!

Review: ‘Logan’ brilliant end to Wolverine saga

“Logan” (R)

It seems that Hugh Jackman has saved his best performance as Wolverine for last.

Jackman, of course, defined the role of the adamantium-clawed mutant in 2000’s “X-Men” — and reprised the role eight more times (including the new film) in the ensuing years — is brilliant in “Logan,” which the actor previously announced would be his last turn in the movie saga.

Expertly directed by “The Wolverine” helmer James Mangold, “Logan” strips the “X-Men” mythos to the bare essentials, and in the process, results in a raw and compelling superhero adventure. Concentrating mainly on three mutants, the film easily sets itself apart from the previous “X-Men” films in story, character development and action.


Audio slideshow: James Mangold talks “Logan”

Based on the “Old Man Logan” storyline from the Marvel Comics, “Logan” is set in 2029, in a society where mutants have all but been eradicated, and Logan/Wolverine, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) take shelter in a run-down hideout on the Mexican border.

Old, cranky and sick, Logan and Charles are living a shadow of an existence, until a desperate woman tracks down Logan and pleads with him to transport a 10-year-old girl named Laura (a spectacular Dafne Keen) to a safe haven in northern part of the United States. Logan’s reluctant to do it, until a militaristic government organization shows up, seeking her capture. It turns out that the girl is a mutan

t as well, and her ties to Logan may be closer than he thinks.

Twentieth Century Fox definitely made the right move by allowing Jackman and Mangold to make “Logan” a R-rated film, the same sort of strategy that propelled “Deadpool” to worldwide blockbuster status last year. “Logan,” however, doesn’t have a wiseass tone like “Deadpool,” and is much more serious. It’s ultra-violent and bloody (what else would you expect from a guy with steely claws?), and without question earns the distinction of being the “John Wick” of superhero movies.

LINK:  See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis, Francis Ford Coppola and more on  his new YouTube channel.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its share of comedic moments, particularly between Logan and Charles, who bicker at each other like a pair of grumpy old men (or is it grumpy old mutants?). It’s a real hoot to hear Charles – the majestic professor in the previous films – drop the F-bombs like there’s no tomorrow.

WolverineSHOP: Marvel Wolverine Marvel Collectible Figure

The sad part of “Logan” is, it appears to be the end of the road for Stewart as Charles, too. You can’t help but feel a sense of sadness as “Logan” wraps up, knowing that Jackman and the always-great Stewart are hanging it up.

But as we’ve learned in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” there’s nothing ever final in the “X-Men” universe.

Lammometer: 9 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!

Interview: Director James Mangold talks ‘Logan’

Don’t kid yourself: Even though the newest entry into the “X-Men” movie saga, “Logan,” draws its inspiration from the “Old Man Logan” storyline in the Marvel Comics series, this isn’t your grandpa’s Wolverine.

Starring the man who defined the role of Logan/Wolverine — Hugh Jackman — for the ninth and perhaps final time in the “X-Men” movie saga, it’s clear from the beginning of “Logan” that Jackman and director James Mangold, his collaborator on 2013’s “The Wolverine,” were going to make a decidedly different mutant film. Rated R and presented in gritty and brutally realistic fashion, Mangold and Jackman were intent on making sure Logan — as well as Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier — had a deliberately harder edge to them.

Most importantly, however, unlike anything the saga’s fans have seen with the characters before, “Logan” finds the aging duo tired, ill and sadly, facing mortality. To do the film, Mangold said in a recent phone conversation from New York City, that sort of narrative was a must.

“I very much enjoy these movies as a whole, but I do think that they’ve gotten into a bit of a rut, in the sense that you could almost make a Mad Magazine version of these movies, where they always seem to be about some dark force arriving and is going to destroy the world,” Mangold said. “You can almost cut the trailer in your mind where some character is saying, ‘This is the worst we’ve ever faced,’ and if they don’t level a city, they level a continent, and if they don’t level a continent, they blow up the Earth, and the threats, the stakes are always so high and global.”


Audio slideshow: James Mangold talks “Logan”

Quite simply, Mangold said, a movie like that simply has to dial things back not just a bit, but a lot.

“When you’re making a movie where there are 10 protagonists, a supervillain and five, giant set pieces of action, the principal characters end up with about four minutes of trying to sketch out their character problem and eradicate it later,” Mangold said. “It’s no wonder that sometimes we feel like these movies are emotionally flat or thin in characterization. The characters have devoted all their time to other tasks and become people making cameos in these giant spectacles.”

And spreading the characters too thin is only one of Mangold’s concerns.

“At some point, I think for me, that the old adage of ‘Less is more’ comes in,” said Mangold. “It’s where I’ve started experiencing an overload, where I’m sitting in a theater with the sound blasting and spectacular, amazing, insane visual effects, and I start to feel like Malcolm McDowell in ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ and I want my eyes to just roll up in my head and pass out because I’ve had enough. We really wanted to make a different film in tone in that sense. Yes, we wanted to deal with the mortality of the characters and their fragility, but we also wanted the space to explore those ideas without the sensory overload.”

Opening in theaters and on IMAX screens Friday, “Logan” finds Wolverine and Charles in the year 2029, where mutants are virtually extinct. Along with Charles and another mutant, Caliban (Stephan Merchant), Logan is forced out of his hiding on the border of Mexico when he is suddenly tasked to protect a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), who appears to have the same mutant abilities as he does. On the run from a militaristic government organization seeking her capture, Logan must find a way to transport Laura to a safe haven in the northern part of the U.S.

LINK:  See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis, Francis Ford Coppola and more on  his new YouTube channel.

With far fewer mutants and subplots to concentrate on, Mangold had the benefit of not only making an “X-Men”-themed movie, but the opportunity to combine the mythology with the sensibilities of the previous character dramas he’s directed.

“Our real goal was to try to create enough space for ourselves, as if I were making ‘Copland,’ ‘Girl, Interrupted,’ ‘Walk the Line’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma’ or another one of my movies, and ask, ‘How can I take these really interesting characters that we have mainly only seen through the prism of these ‘Save the world’ storylines, and view them through a much more intimate storyline?’ Mangold recalled. “My initial proposal to Fox was that I wanted to make very bloody, existential version of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ with Logan and Charles Xavier.”

WolverineSHOP: Marvel Wolverine Marvel Collectible Figure

Apart from the graphic violence (Logan has adamantium claws, after all, so they’re going to cause some damage), the purposefully R-rated film has its share of F-bombs, and the explosive use of the language doesn’t come from the idea of using the word simply because they can, but because there is meaning behind it. When you see and hear, perhaps shockingly so, that the aging Charles suddenly has a penchant for dropping the F-bomb, you’ll understand why.

“Many people have gone through it — even with very graceful parents — where that moment sets in and your systems are failing you, it’s incredible sometimes to hear ‘The Exorcist’-level of obscenity to come out of an old person’s mouth where their world is losing its moorings a little bit,” Mangold said. “But the use of the language also, honestly, fits in the whole tone of the film from the beginning to the end. It’s just a little bit more raw than what we’ve seen in the other pictures. That was quite intentional.”

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

While Jackman and Stewart are naturally the names on the marquee that people will instantly recognize, there are many times where Keen, whose storyline is quite significant in “Logan,” steals the show from both of them. What’s amazing is that she commands your attention at times even in a non-verbal way, and that was only one of the many requirements Mangold had for the integral character.

“She’s incredible. We searched high and low, and it wasn’t exactly easy. I said I needed someone between 10 and 12 years of age, physically capable, brilliant actress, Hispanic descent and bilingual. Now you try that on,” Mangold mused. “Worldwide, that adds up to producing about five or six kids. When the tape arrived in an email from London of this wonderful 10-year-old at that time who was reading for this part — it was this little iPhone tape that he dad had made of her, climbing around on bookcases and doing a couple of scenes — I knew the second I saw it without even meeting her that she was the young woman for the part.”

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!