Archive for the ‘Eddie Redmayne’ Category

poster_fantasticbeastsI just can’t get into this type of movie. I’ve tried, and I DO enjoy the Harry Potter series. However, I am not fanatical about them. My biggest problem with fantasy type films is the verbiage. There are so many terms of beasts and locations and spells that its difficult for me to understand what is being said half the time, let lone be able to identify with the characters and feel engaged.

In this work written directly for the screen by Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling, Hogwarts alum Newt, played by Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), brings his collection of magical beasts to New York City where one breaks loose at a bank and causes a scene for the wizard and an American non-magic amateur baker named Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury). An exiled agent Tina, played by Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs), of the American wizarding community takes the Brit into the authorities for his antics while eventually more beasts get out into the “no-mag” world.

Now Newt and Tina must work together along with her sultry sister Queenie, played by Alison Sudol (The Lucky One) and Kowalski, now illegally exposed to all the magic of his surroundings to prove the escaped beasts are not the culprit of repeated dark magic taking the lives of a handful of Americans no-mags.

I’ll start with what I enjoyed about the film; Redmayne, Waterston, Fogler and Sudol. These four characters were well created by their actors. Redmayne was extremely consistent, while Waterston made it easily to see what her inner motivation and conflicts were as we kearned more about her. Fogler had probably my favorite character as Kowalski. I’ve only seen him in movies which were outlandish comedies or the over-the-top bestfriends characters. This role was a character performance but on a more subtle scale than I’ve seen him before. Queenie was hard not to fall for, as Kowalski did.

I also loved the visual effects the film used to create prohibition era New York City; model T cars, pin-striped suits, etc. It looked quite like the real deal and added to the experience.
Before I get into my issues with the film, I’ll last mention I adored the dyamic of the four mentioned characters. Kowalski’s love of the magical world which grows once his eyes are open to it. Queenie’s adoration of him. Newt’s love of animals who are banned from ownership despite having practical uses in the wizarding world and Tina’s passion for making things right and loyalty for those who appreciate her. I loved their storylines between each other. It kept me involved, while the remainder of the film would have lost my interest otherwise.

Now, don’t expect a Harry Potter movie when you see this, despite being a part of that universe set 70 years prior to where the first HP film lands on the universal timeline. The only thing that connects this story to HP is a couple of last names like Dumbledore, L’Estrange and Grindewald. Oh and the sign of the Deathly Hallows. There were no familiar locations since its set in NYC. There were no creatures identifiable to the previous eight HP films. Although I enjoyed the film making itself its own independent franchise for the most part, I just feel die hard HP fans need to realize they may be severely disappointed expecting something similar.

I hated the screen time spent on certain aspects of Newt’s back story. I agree we need to know more about him as a person and a wizard, but honestly what they shared was stupid, and without visuals I really couldn’t care about his days at Hogwarts. I also thought the script attempted to set the character up as an annoying British Sheldon of sorts. At least there was dialogue to say such, but to be honest, even though Newt was a little socially awkward and better with beasts, he wasn’t altogether bad with people nor was he at all unlikable. He was actually charming in his simply way.

Lastly, I think the design of the dark force which threatened lives has been done before. This dark cloud that resembles trying to comb gum out of the carpet has been done before several times; the most recent was Marvel’s Thor: The Dark Age, same effect. I’m waiting for a new way for fantasy filmmakers to present dark forces without a visage in a new way because this dark cloudy thing has gotten old for me.

Overall, I liked the movie. I’ll own it because the four main characters were good and well acted, which is important for a fantasy film I feel. You need your actors to sell it first. However, I feel the writing is generally weak and simply uses “Harry Potter” as a marketing technique. Comparing this movie to Harry Potter is like comparing Saving Private Ryan to Schindler’s List. Same war being represented but far from similar movies.

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I was fine with this movie until the end. It wasn’t a terrible disappointment like the ending of The Departed or the end of The Happening, but rather the post-script of the movie which suggests the main character has become an icon of the transgender community kind of soured the whole thing for me.

The worst part is, the movie doesn’t really do that. In fact, the movie completely makes a diversion from the factual elements of the marriage of its true-life inspirations.

Set in the late 1920’s in parts of Western Europe, The Danish Girl is REALLY about Gerda Wegener, an American portrait artist played by Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), and her marriage to Einar Wegener, a landscape painter played by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). Gerda uses her husband Einar as a female model for a new series of paintings, calling her Lili. What starts as a game between the couple turns troublesome as Einar starts to Flex His X (my term for a man exhibiting more feminine tendencies) and soon his personality splinters into the two persona’s with Lili taking over quickly.

Eventually, Lili decides to literally cut Einar out of her in an extremely risky operation (for that time) for the ultimate “I’d rather die as myself than live as someone else” ending…I think.

Here’s where the film fails to make Einar/Lili a heroic icon of the transgender community. First, it didn’t really show how Lili was received by the society around her. Even more shots of judge mental looks and whispering a would have been good, but rather Gerda had to deal with that FAR MORE than Lili ever did. Lili got a little harassed and beat up in a park. That’s about it.

Second, the film spent so much time on Einar going to different doctors trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with him, baiting schizophrenia and other mental disorders that its easy for the viewer to start to believe Einar/Lili does in fact suffer from multiple-personality disorder. In which case, surgery may be the worst thing for him. It was confusing in that respect.

I know this movie was based on a book by David Eberschoff which completely butchered the true life accounts of its inspirational characters, but the movie could have incorporated more of the facts regarding these two. One missed fact was “Einar” was diagnosed as being intersexed and found to have both male and female sex organs and XXY chromosomes (aka Klinefelter’s Syndrome). This actually wasn’t medically recognized until 1942. This little tidbit would have portrayed Redmayne’s character as having a gender crisis rather than appearing to have multiple-personality disorder. It would also show him as making a brave decision and working through his crisis rather than a mentally ill person making an ill-advised decision.

If there is any hero in this movie it’s, Gerda. She stood by her husband through every step of this unusual situation and came to terms that she only wanted him to be safe and happy. Although it was hard to understand where this strength was coming from, Vikander’s performance helped sell it. She ran the gambit with her inner conflicts; joy, confusion, bitterness, sadness. I’m just glad her performance wasn’t all victim mentality, tear-filled eyes in every scene. Some of that was in there but her role was far more dynamic.

In fact, she carried the movie. Redmayne was also amazing but his character was so confusing to me, it soured his performance as well for me. This movie is Gerda’s story not Lili’s. She had more dialogue. She has more screen time. I don’t even know how she didn’t get nominated Best Actress rather than Best Supporting Actress. I read Focus Features campaigned her for that award to give her a better chance of winning but who knows.

I’ll also say the visual telling of the story was also good with Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) at the helm. There moments I was watching Danish Girl and thought This movie completely LOOKS like King’s Speech. So I looked it up and behold, Hooper as director. He has a very recognizable style which I enjoy. I just wish his material for this was a little more clear than it was.

Overall, The Danish Girl was decent but not stellar. With no political agenda on the subject in either direction, it was okay at best.

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