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Posts Tagged ‘Lena Olin’

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I remember watching this film in the cinema, which was 26 years ago (!!) I didn’t remember much about it other than it centred on a man suffering with bi-polar disorder – and one of the first scenes, where he walks out on a piece of wood over a construction site, endangering his own life, although he clearly thinks he is invincible. Anyway, something about the film must have stuck in my memory enough to make me want to watch it again.

Richard Gere is the titular Mr Jones (we never discover his first name) whose illness means that he suffers from very extreme mood swings. He gets treatment from psychiatrist Dr Libbie Bowen, herself somewhat vulnerable after a relationship breakdown.

Mr Jones is an undoubtedly charismatic character and Dr Bowen finds herself drawn to him, despite professional ethics and personal doubts.

I enjoyed the movie on second viewing; to me, Richard Gere did seem to somewhat overplay the role, but I have no personal experience of bi-polar disorder, and reviewers who DO have such experience have said that he was brilliant, so I concede to their superior knowledge. In any event, whether he overplayed it or not, it did not detract from my interest or enjoyment. Lena Olin was excellent as Dr Bowen, and her feelings towards her patient are believable. When he is ‘up’ he is lots of fun, hugely intelligent, but also dangerously unpredictable. When he is ‘down’ he is vulnerable and introspective; it’s a heady combination.

Anne Bancroft is also in the film as Libbie’s boss, but I felt that for such a great talent, she was underused. However, Delroy Lindo was my favourite character as Mr Jones’s friend Howard. Kudos also to Lauren Tom as fellow patient Amanda Chang.

The only thing that didn’t sit right with me was the convenient Hollywood ending, which felt wrong to me and all too easy. But it’s a quick ending, and thankfully didn’t spoil the rest of the movie.

Overall, worth a watch if you are a fan of any of the actors (or watch it for Delroy Lindo’s small but excellent role), or if you have an interest in the disorder from which Mr Jones suffers.

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Year of release: 1993

Director: Mike Figgis

Writers: Eric Roth, Michael Cristofer

Main cast: Richard Gere, Lena Olin, Delroy Lindo, Tom Irwin, Lauren Tom

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Before anyone watches this film they should probably know that it in no way attempts to tell the story of Giacomo Casanova; instead this is a fictionalised account of a specific period in Casanova’s life.  It’s full of historical inaccuracies, but it’s clearly not trying to present any semblance of truth, and instead is more a comedy of errors, with plenty of visual gags.

In essense, the infamous seducer Casanova (Heath Ledger) is ordered to wed a virgin, or else be arrested on crimes of fornication.  He quickly proposes to a young girl who is smitten with him, but then he meets the headstrong and intelligent Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller) and falls for her.  However, she is not aware of his true identity, and to complicate matters, she is engaged to a distant relative who she has never met.  Casanova pretends to be the fiance, while in the meantime, the young girl who he previously became engaged to is the object of affection for Francesca’s brother – who also has no idea of Casanova’s real identity.  Sounds complicated, but on the screen it all plays out well, with plenty of moments of humour.  Throughout all this, Bishop Pucci (Jeremy Irons) is on Casanova’s tail and is also trying to find a famous heretical writer – but further identity mix ups get in the way…!

The film is strictly played for laughs and on the whole it works well.  Heath Ledger looks nothing like how I would expect Casanova to look, but he plays the role well and with considerable charm – and looks like he’s having great fun doing it.  Jeremy Irons seems to positively revel in playing the evil Bishop who wants to capture and kill Casanova, and Oliver Platt is also wonderful as Francesca’s unknown fiance.  Omid Dajlili plays Lupo, Casanova’s manservant, and provides many laughs.  Mention should also be made of Lena Olin, as Francesca’s mother.  She was very funny and looked absolutely beautiful.  The only slightly weak link in the cast was Sienna Miller, who was never really convincing enough as the feisty woman who Casanova falls for.  However there was plenty enough in the film to make up for that.

Venice itself looked gorgeous, and is shown off to its best effect here (it made me want to visit there!), and the costumes were also terrific.  The classical musical score, including some of Vivaldi’s work was perfect for the film, and so nice in fact that I would like to buy the soundtrack to the film.

This film is basically an old fashioned romp through 18th century Venice.  Low on accuracy, but high on laughs with a smattering of romance (although the emphasis is definitely on comedy), and a nice twist at the end.  Overall, an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.

Year of release: 2005

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Writers: Jeffrey Hatcher, Kimberley Simi, Michael Cristofer

Main cast: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Oliver Platt, Jeremy Irons, Lena Olin, Omin Djalili

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Gary Oldman is Jack Grimaldi, a dirty cop who is playing the FBI off against the Mafia. While the Feds want him to protect Russian gangster Mona Demarkov (Lena Olin), the Mafia want him to kill her and will pay him handsomely for doing so.  However, Demarkov is a sexy femme fatale who proves to be more than a match for Grimaldi, and he ends up finding himself in all manner of dangerous situations, and unintentionally placing his girlfriend Sherri (Juliette Lewis) and his long suffering wife Natalie (Annabella Sciorra) in danger.

I felt that the movie took a little time to get going, but once it did, there was no let up!  Oldman is superb as always; he is an actor that can seemingly portray any character and do it brilliantly.  He seemed to have his tongue planted firmly in his cheek for much of the movie, perhaps acknowledging that certain scenes were ludicrous although very entertaining.  Lena Olin also has great fun with the psychopathic Demarkov, although she spends much of the movie flashing her underwear and much of her body.

This movie is a thriller and definitely comes under the heading of Film Noir – however it does have some very comical undertones.  Be aware though, that it does have a lot of sexual content and violence.

Year of release: 1993

Director: Peter Medak

Writer: Hilary Henkin

Main cast: Gary Oldman, Lena Olin, Annabella Sciorra, Juliet Lewis

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