Cruella | Amazing Performances, Costumes and Production Designs

The third live-action adaptation of Dodie Smith‘s 1956 novel “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” was announced by Disney in 2013. I wasn’t too much into the idea since I barely remembered the animated movie or the Glenn Close ones. Then Maleficent came along and didn’t know what to expect from this movie since they did a 180 on that vilain. Casting Emma Stone (The Help) in the title role did not help in that matter because I can’t think of a movie where she is the vilain. She’s a brilliant actress but a vilain? I wasn’t sure.
However the rest of the cast is so strong that I couldn’t ignore this movie, there’s Emma Thompson (MWC, Creatures), Mark Strong (Sleep, Game), Joel Fry (Benjamin, Paddington 2, GoT), Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell, BlacKkKlansman, Kingdom), Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Killing Eve), John McCrea (Dracula, The Sandman) & Emily Beecham (Outside the Wire, Into the Badlands). I, Tonya‘s Craig Gillespie is directing with a screenplay by Dana Fox (Home Before Dark) and Tony McNamara (The Great) from a story by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), Kelly Marcel (Venom, Mr. Banks), and Steve Zissis (The Comey Rules, Togetherness).

Premise: Estella is a creative child with an interest in fashion but has a cruel streak, leading her mother Catherine to nickname her “Cruella”. After a tragic night during which Estella is orphaned, she flees to London where she meets two petty thieves Jasper and Horace. Ten years later, Estella is making ends meet as a thief with Jasper and Horace while pursuing her passion for fashion by designing their disguises. In an attempt to go straight, she eventually lands a coveted job with the Baroness, who is a renowned but authoritarian haute couture designer. Working for the Baroness something from her childhood resurfaces leading Estella to lean into her darker side.

Review: If it wasn’t for the trailers I am not sure if the first fifteen minutes of the movie would have been enough for me to keep watching. I liked the idea and how it sets up the movie but the execution was a bit rough. Once that bridge is crossed the movie gets better.

Story wise there has a lot of setup, in fact an argument could be made that this movie is all setup, since it’s an origin movie and a good amount of its runtime is on building the characters. So it might seem a bit slow to get going but that’s offset by the fashion elements that are visually striking and the comedic tone. This movie is dripping with cynicism and style, it’s darkly funny and has so many great character moments, even the CGI dogs were great.
From what I remember from The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella was just crazy, charismatic yes but cray cray. Here she’s still charismatic but more unhinged and calculating, there’s a genius to her madness. She’s ambitious and scrappy and I liked it. She’s not afraid to use her friends, and I do mean use them like tools, on her pursuit of power. And having spent time getting to know Estella with her friends Jasper and Horace, it’s more striking when that shift happens as she leans into her darker side.

The ensemble cast is great, even though Emma Stone and Emma Thompson deliver amazing performances. I love how the two women contrast each other, not in a good versus bad, more in a bad versus worse with an understanding that the bad, which is Cruella, can easily turn into the worse, which is the Baroness, because power corrupts and there’s even glimpses of this in Cruella’s behavior. I liked the begrudging respect the two had for each other, making their battle of wits more entertaining, and I love how these two women are essentially competing for a job. John McCrea‘s Artie is unapologetically queer and totally pulling a Noel Fielding and I’m here for it. Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hausser were great and kind of the heart of the movie for me because like Mark Strong‘s character they’re the goodish guys. With Fry’s Jasper being the one able to rein Cruella in a bit. And as for Anita and Roger are so smartly cast and used in this movie but they remain more of a tease to what’s to come.

Cruella is a fun dark movie which is beautifully styled from the characters, to the sets and the soundtrack. It’s worth the watch.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

If you’re interested in the source material, help us by getting them from the links below:

Beautiful Creatures | Review

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In 2013 Richard LaGavaranese’s take on Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl’s book “Beautiful Creatures” had a solid supporting cast Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, and interesting up and comers with Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich & Thomas Mann but the movie did not performed as well as expected.

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The premise follows Ethan who longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.

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Review: I remember when I tried to read the book this came out of, -_- I had to force myself to finish the book was a horrible experience for me but movies are another medium so I went with an open mind to see this movie.

I actually was charmed by it. The special effects look good, the story is interesting enough – they cut out some of the cheesiness that was gushing out of that book – it’s kind of about more than just a love story – Yay. The religious small town narrow-mindedness annoyed me a little bit because I thought it was a bit too stereotypical but as it turns out they really are people like that. I know, it’s scary right?

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Anyway, the young actors were cute and actually good, they held their own against Irons, Thompson & Davis. The story-telling though is a bit iffy, they could have done a much better job but I guess they had to please the hardcore fans of this “book” that not one but two people wrote.  

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I was pleasantly surprised by Beautiful Creatures, I’m not saying that it’s a great movie but at least it’s slightly above average, so it’s in the green. The film is charming, interesting with a solid cast and beautiful special effects. The timing of its release was probably not right for this movie to succeed, I would have loved to see a sequel because I ain’t picking up the follow up book.

Beautiful Creatures did you see it? What did you think about it?

Men, Women & Children | A Freakishly Good Movie

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Inspired by Chad Kultgen the novel of the same name and adapted on the silver screen by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the air) & Erin Cressida Wilson. The film stars Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Ansel Elgort, Rosemarie DeWitt, Dean Harris, Judy Greer & Kaitlyn Dever.

Premise: A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives.

Review: The film Men, Women & Children is another societal exploration of American / western culture by Jason Reitman. It is a freakishly good movie. I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest the trailers were not that engaging, but this character driven movie captivated me. It’s a little long and the slow pace is not helping but every minutes were worth the cramp I got on my ass from sitting too long in the movie theater.

Every character had their kinks and quirks, a singularity about them that some people might call one dimensional, I disagree. The message wouldn’t have been so loud and clear if the characters didn’t have a stereotypical aspect to them. By the way what was the message? It sure feels like there’s one but the at the same time it doesn’t feel like it’s patronizing message. I think it is whatever you feel it is, you will definitely leave with something, but it might not be the same as the people who sat next to you. In that sense the movie feels neutral, showing you how it is and how it can affect lives.

The movie is not as heavy as the trailers suggest, well it is heavy but there were light and funny moments that helped not making the film a drag. The way Reitman opened his subject made sense and it was tastefully done. Unlike the web he left some things to the imagination or implied them. The film goes to “scary” places, revealing some heavy uncomfortable things about teenagers, parents, couples, and society. You go to these places because it’s done every so slightly, tastefully, step by step.
It was a great assemble of a cast, there is not a bad performance in this movie. Each of the actors play their part on this beautiful movie that is Men, Women & Children
If you haven’t seen this movie, please check it out, and do me a solid follow me on Tumblr, Facebook and tweeter.
How about you guys? Did the movie resonated with you?

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Men, Women and Children | Trailer

Men, Women and Children, follows a group of teenagers and their parents in the many ways social media and the internet changed their relationships, the way they communicate, their love life, etc.

The movie is out on October 17th (USA), I will probably check out because the cast looks good. its stars Jennifer Garner, Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler and Emma Thompson. The movie is based on a novel – that I never heard about – by Chad Kultgen, who also wrote the controversal The Average American Male (2007) – I’ve heard of that one! I don’t know if I’ll read the book, I already have so much to read and so little time do it. What do you think?