REVIEW: “THE REVENANT” ~ POST Q & A ~ LEONARDO DICAPRIO/DIR: ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU/PROD: STEVE GOLAN & MARY PARENT

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Since I was lucky enough to be part of the first ever audience to see this remarkable picture with Leonardo DiCaprio & Alejandro González Iñárritu doing the post Q & A along with producers Steve Golan & Mary Parent ~ I think I can safely tell you all…Prepare to be blown away as I’ve personally never seen a film of this magnitude in my life. And here I thought Alejandro couldn’t outdo last years epic ‘Birdman’, well I was wrong. He can and he did.
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Along with the sure-fire Oscar gold performance of Leo DiCaprio here, ‘The Revenant’ follows the true story of the epic adventures of frontiersman Hugh Glass. It is also about someone trying to survive using the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of uncharted America back in the fur trading days, legendary explorer Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), is brutally mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own team. the revenant 7

In an effort to survive, and with a full heart of unimaginable grief and betrayal of trust by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) for the death of his son, Glass is buried alive with injuries most would not be able to withstand. Full of anger he goes to the end of what is uncharted wilderness to find Fitzgerald and Bridger. Guided by sheer will and love for his son, Glass navigates a severe winter in the relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. And revenge. Yes, revenge, because make no mistake about it..this is a film of someone seeking revenge in it’s purest form. the revenant 4

While there are some tough-to-watch graphic scenes in this film, it’s a spectacle that really must be experienced both visually and story-wise. While you can pick up the book and spoil it for yourself – don’t!!!! – this is truly something that must be experienced completely on your own. the revenant 3

The no longer-young boy from Titanic, DiCaprio’s phenominal performance here, in which his character is alone and doesn’t speak for much of the two and a half hours of running time that he carries the film, is joined in tandem by the remarkable Tom Hardy. Here again, the man of many accents has another one, not sure where he picks them up, but they do serve him well. He is the villian of sorts here, but is it that or is he just trying as they all are, to survive the harshness of life in these times. With a supporting cast of Domhnall Gleason as Andrew Henry, Brendan Fletcher as Fryman and Grace Dove to name just some of the mixed cast of French, Native American and American actors that provide the makeup of this of ensemble cast.
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This film is as big as it is bold and like nothing I’ve ever seen before, with many a dark and brutal moments that might be to much for some in the audience. Take that as a serious warning as I saw many seat squirmings and some scenes stayed with me for some time after, but I also loved every minute of this film and for me,  I see #OSCAR#OSCAR#OSCAR written all over it.

Grade: A+

Screening: Sunday, November 22, 2015 ~ Courtesy of the Producers Guild of America & 20th Century Fox.
And a quick shoutout to my movie-going BFF – Jason Watters for only with his invitation was I able to be part of the 1st audience and wonderful experience. Thank you so much!!!
Nationwide release: Friday, January 8, 2016

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POST Q & A WITH Leonardo DiCaprio/Alejandro González Iñárritu/Steve Golen and Mary Parent

Starting off with many questions to regarding the film’s production that has already attracted controversy after reports that it became “a living hell”, with some members of the crew quitting and being fired. Iñárritu noted “As a director, if I identify a violin that is out of tune, I have to take that from the orchestra,” “I have nothing to hide,” the director said. “There were problems, but none of them made me ashamed.” The budget also swelled from $60m to $95m.

In the Q & A, Iñárritu described making the film as “almost like an impossible task” — and when asked about his first day on the set, DiCaprio smiled and said, “To tell you the truth, it’s all a beautiful blur to me.”
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Leo noted that while the book is based on a true life story..but the stories being those told around the campfires of those days in time also can be full of embelishments etc.. it’s like when you tell a story to a person and it travels through 10 people it becomes a different story. There is no way to verify it and he could only read for reference stories told and written by these men. DiCaprio described it as “almost a silent movie performance from me” it’s a father/son story..a love story and a ‘bear’ of a story all wrapped in one.

The script had been floating around for some time but no one could picture how they could possibly make a film of this magnitude with Iñárritu originally passing on the project some time ago. Iñárritu said some days they only had 45 minutes of workable shoot time, other days an hour and a half tops with hours sometimes being take to intricately set up the shot required. They were at the mercy of the weather, which at one point dropped to 40 degrees below zero.
Alejandro noted that the pressure on Leo was immense as once everything was set up..it was up to him to carry it out and lead the way in the short time span avail to them. If he didn’t, then they would have to start all over again the next day. leo & alejandro 1
Rehearsals, they said, took months, with elaborate camera moves worked out with the actors before they ever went to the wilderness locations, many of them near Calgary, Canada. “You felt an intensity, and a unity with the whole crew that you had to grasp the entire shot every day,” said DiCaprio.
Probably my favourite quote by director Alejandro González Iñárritu in answering a question regarding the beauty and harshness of the wilderness in which they shot he noted: “the sky is omnipresent.”

REVIEW: “THE DANISH GIRL” (2015) POST Q & A W/DIRECTOR TOM HOOPER

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“The Danish Girl” is not just a altogether different love story, but it’s inspiration comes from the lives of artists Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). Einar/Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate what can only be called a groundbreaking journey, even in this day & age, with Lili becoming a transgender pioneer.
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While the film is slow-moving, I honestly found it quite touching, beautiful and sweet. It is delicate in the way it treats difficult subjects as sexuality and the discovery of one’s identity in what is surely an even more hostile period than we live in now. The fact that it is a true story makes it a bit more involving.

I don’t think the film is perfect – but the acting, cinematography, the screenplay are done well. The middle part – where all the characters try to find a way out of the problem and when for the first time they seem to be facing a fracture between them is it’s most moving.
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Obviously, no one knows how well Lili Elbe passed for a woman, but no one, and I mean absolutely no one, would mistake Redmayne’s Lili for anything else especially at first where he is mostly an awkward, clumsy male in a bad wig. However, I was impressed with Redmayne’s portrayal of the transition and transcendence and being that he is of small stature he did well here. I must say, while I don’t think this will win Eddie another Oscar, it is deserving of a nomination for me as I watched, I am impressed lately by Redmayne’s choices of roles. Truly wonderful & different for the most part.
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There were a few heart-tugging emotional scenes in the movie where I was quite struck by Vikander’s acting, being full of some raw emotion.
The rest of the cast, in particular one of my favourite actors of the past few years, Matthias Schoenaerts as Einar’s childhood friend Hans Axgil. He is a breath of fresh air in almost everything he touches for me. Amber Heard as the wild & fun, Ulla and Ben Whishaw as Henrik, add to the mystery and complicated nature of Lili’s existence.

Through a beautifully tangled love story this film opens the eyes and hearts of the audience to the harsh reality a trans-person is born into. A world that clearly is of misunderstanding, ignorance and flat out discrimination.
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As you know, many will be angered about the context of the film because they think by spewing hatred for the person portrayed in the film will make them not exist. Those same people are usually fans of Donald Trump. Enough said.

Grade: C

Screening: Thursday, November 19, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Deadline Awardsline screenings.
Playing nationwide as of Friday, November 27, 2015

POST Q & A WITH DIRECTOR TOM HOOPER/SCREENWRITER LUCINDA COXON/PRODUCER ANNE HARRISON:
Alicia Vikander was also supposed to be part of the post Q & A, but we were told to blame Matt Damon 😀 as she was held over on shooting that day of the new Bourne film. Attached is the link to the video of this wonderful post-discussion.
http://deadline.com/2015/11/danish-girl-movie-transgender-response-tom-hooper-video-1201636101/