Tag Archive: Matthias Schoenaerts


Review by C.J. Bunce

On the heels of heavy-hitting, big-budget, high-energy, and fun Netflix direct-to-TV action movies as good as theatrical releases like 6 Underground and Extraction, it’s a shame Netflix’s next direct-to-TV release action movie is more misfire than fireworks.  Academy Award-winning actor Charlize Theron stars as a leader of the next take on Assassin’s Creed in Skydance Media’s The Old Guard, with a script by Greg Rucka based on his comic book mini-series (with artist Leandro Fernández), directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees).  Unfortunately poor dialogue, a weak script, slow pacing, and uninspired execution in the face of so much good alternative content available makes Netflix’s latest one easy to skip.

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Your next shelter-at-home action movie has a second trailer this week.  It’s again coming to Netflix, the one venue reliably delivering movies this year with the pandemic still spiking at new highs across the country.  In The Old Guard, Charlize Theron headlines what looks like Atomic Blonde meets Assassin’s Creed, with a pinch of Aeon Flux, Mad Max: Fury Road, 6 Underground, and Extraction.  Consistently building on her last action hero performance to create the next, best action heroine, Theron’s new film is a mash-up of action and fantasy.

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Who knew audiences would be more excited about the next Netflix movie than whatever is coming to theaters?  Shelter at home is changing a lot of things, but one thing for certain is Netflix can hardly fill the ongoing demand this year for the next theatrical quality movie release.  Charlize Theron headlines what looks like Atomic Blonde meets Assassin’s Creed, with a pinch of Aeon Flux, Mad Max: Fury Road, 6 Underground, and Extraction in her next action movie, The Old GuardConsistently building on her last action hero performance to create the next, best action heroine, Theron’s new film is a mash-up of action and fantasy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As dramas about the current problems in the world are concerned, it doesn’t get much better than The Laundromat, one of the many direct-to-Netflix dramas premiering this year.  It’s full of genre favorite actors and the subject is that “ripped from the headlines” variety.  The film begins with a couple celebrating their 40th anniversary with a trip to Niagara Falls.  Unfortunately they do like many do on any vacation, they take local transportation.  Here that is a small commuter boat.  When a minor wave hits the side, the boat rocks and sinks.  The man, played by James Cromwell, dies, and his wife, played by Meryl Streep, lives.  We then meet the crooks of the story, two law partners in Panama played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, breaking the fourth wall to explain the rules of modern finance, and ultimately a step-by-step guide to international money laundering via the U.S. tax code.  The duo is perfect, dressed to the nines to reflect their wealth, courtesy of costume designer Ellen Mirojnick (Starship Troopers, The Chronicles of Riddick).  Like every villain in any story, these villains see themselves as the victims.  Director Steven Soderburgh then spins a story requiring some bizarre worldbuilding–in our own world–that recounts only a few of the many strange aspects of the real-life Panama Papers scandal, which ultimately took down all sorts of politicians and multi-millionaires.

Unlike any other good film about an actual historical event that follows the basic sequential framework, like, as an example, The Post, which also starred Meryl Streep, the value of this film is in its style and design and the way it tells the story.  It’s also an educational tool that explains the realities of “wealth management,” but it doesn’t do it in a bland way, incorporating the law partners like the stage manager in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, but because of the actors’ charm, it’s handled much better than previous similar efforts, like, say, The Wolf of Wall Street or Goodfellas.  As good as Soderburgh’s The Informant!, the style of his Ocean’s 11 series, and the gravity of his Erin Brockovich, this should be counted as a big film for 2019.  It’s funny when it needs to be, but its scope is real and grave, highlighting the fragility of life with not only the story it tells, but the precariousness of every player as they go to and fro in the film, all one slip from becoming Streep or Cromwell’s character at any point.

The Laundromat has an all-star cast of genre favorites, featuring great work from the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Robert Patrick, Nonso Anozie, Will Forte, Chris Parnell, Rosalind Cho, David Schwimmer, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Sharon Stone.

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Jessica Barden Far from the Madding Crowd

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Anyone familiar with Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd knows that the story begins when an impetuous young sheepdog accidentally herds his flock over a cliff, killing them all… and then things rather go downhill (ahem) from there.  That’s Thomas Hardy, after all.  But Far From the Madding Crowd is widely considered one of Hardy’s “happier” stories, a happy-ending (except for the sheep) romance about another impetuous youngster, farm heiress Bathsheba Everdene, and her stubborn attempts to hang on to her independence, despite the attentions of three (three!) suitors.  It all takes place in the bucolic English countryside, at the height of the Victorian era, with Social Consequences and Brooding Heroes, Headstrong Heroines, Disastrous Misunderstandings, Crimes of Passion, and Anonymous Love Letters. What’s not to love?

Well, in Thomas Vinterberg’s new adaptation of the story, pretty much everything.  Okay, to be fair–there is actually a lot not to love about the novel.  Heroine Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan, Doctor Who “Blink”, Never Let Me Go, The Great Gatsby), for one; she is at times thoughtless, clueless, senselessly cruel, and relentlessly bullheaded.  But Hardy also meant her to be sympathetic and inspiring, driving forward in a man’s world that thinks little of a woman’s independence.  Along the way, she wins the affections of no fewer than three men–men who see her for much more than her valuable land.  But the latest film version brings none of Bathsheba’s passion, conviction, and nuance to screen, relying only on Mulligan’s befuddlement and tousled tresses, and a confused wardrobe (by designer Janet Patterson) that looks like clothing from a Soviet propaganda poster.  She’s a better actor, and we’ve seen it.

Michael Sheen and Carey Mulligan Far From the Madding Crowd

Somewhere along the way, the love quadrangle of the tale gets muddled, and one can’t quite figure out how itinerant soldier Frank Troy (Thomas Sturridge, The Hollow Crown, Pirate Radio) fits in–let alone manages what devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak (Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, from the upcoming Lewis & Clark) has continually failed at: securing Bathsheba’s hand in marriage.  But by that time, the only thing we’re sure of is that Bathsheba has poor judgement… so we just sort of go with it.  Perhaps because we’re still hanging on for gorgeous glimpses of the English countryside (which never arrive).

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Mulligan and friend in Far from the Madding Crowd

If you haven’t yet seen Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow in the David Tennant era Doctor Who episode “Blink,” then you haven’t seen one of the top episodes of television from any genre.  We placed it in our Best of the Best category here at borg.com back in 2012.  Mulligan went on to star in another critically acclaimed genre film, Never Let Me Go, where she played one of several clones created solely to serve as a supply of replacement organs should the original person ever need them.  It’s a must see if you’re a fan of Gattaca or The Handmaid’s Tale.  She’s also starred in Inside Llewyn Davis with Star Wars Episode VII star Oscar Isaac, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in An Education.

Mulligan has taken on plenty of historical costume drama films, and adaptations of classic novels in particular, including Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  This year Mulligan adds Thomas Hardy to her repertoire with the big-screen adaptation of his 1874 novel Far from the Madding Crowd.

far-from-the-madding-crowd

Check out this first trailer for Far from the Madding Crowd, after the break:

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