Tag Archive: Olga Kurylenko


A new political satire film is coming to U.S. theaters next week–The Death of Stalin.  Ahead of its U.S. release, it has already caused controversy in Russia and other former Soviet Union states, and it’s been banned in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.  Russian leadership has stated, “The Death of Stalin is aimed at inciting hatred and enmity, violating the dignity of the Russian people, promoting ethnic and social inferiority, which points to the movie’s extremist nature.  We are confident that the movie was made to distort our country’s past so that the thought of the 1950s Soviet Union makes people feel only terror and disgust.”  The Death of Stalin is based on a French graphic novel by writer Fabien Nury with artwork by Thierry Robin and Lorien Aureyre.

Sounds like something worth reading, right?

Nury’s The Death of Stalin is a dark comedy take on befuddled Russian leadership in the 1950s.  Strangled by Joseph Stalin’s paranoia and violent extremism, his lieutenants can barely function enough to call for a doctor when he suffers a heart attack that strikes him following his reading of a letter insulting him.  Who will lead after his death and how many Russians will die as power is re-aligned?  The story plays like a Quentin Tarantino film–think of the bulk of the political machinations in Inglourious Basterds mixed with Seth Rogen’s The Interview, plus the absurdity of Doctor Strangelove set against the historical visuals and serious edge of Valkyrie.  And it’s all a very British comedy.

Sourced with a handful of well-known British comedic actors, the film stars Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series, Star Trek Discovery), Steve Buscemi (Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski), Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion, Quantum of Solace), Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion, Never Let Me Go), Michael Palin (Monty Python & The Holy Grail, A Fish Called Wanda), Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), and Jeffrey Tambor.  Armando Iannucci (Veep) directs with cinematography by Zac Nicholson (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables, The Scarlet Pimpernel) and costumes by Suzie Harman (The Bourne Ultimatum).

Check out this preview of the graphic novel The Death of Stalin and a trailer for the film:

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Erased movie poster

The movie trailer.  It’s the video “cover” you’re not supposed to judge a movie by.  But sometimes a movie trailer gets it all exactly right–setting the correct expectation with viewers without over-hyping or over-emphasizing only the best parts of the film it is promoting.  Take the trailer for Aaron Eckhart’s Erased as an example.

From the beginning, Erased (originally titled The Expatriate, but renamed for the U.S. release) appeared to be a blend of a summer action flick like The Bourne Identity (with Eckhart playing an ex-CIA agent on the run), the Robert Redford espionage thriller Three Days of the Condor (where one day all his co-workers turn up dead and his world upside down), and Liam Neeson’s Taken, since he has to protect his little girl along the way.  Eckhart’s role also seemed to echo that of Ben Affleck’s role in Eckhart’s prior film Paycheck, since he appeared to create some future technology that leaves him to unravel what happened to his stolen life.   Well, what you see is what you get.  And it’s all very satisfying.


Aaron Eckhart is an under-rated lead.  If you put aside the dud that was I, Frankenstein, Eckhart delivers an emotional performance every time.  As adman Nick Naylor trying to save big tobacco in the brilliant Thank You for Smoking, as the guy that had us all wearing “I Believe in Harvey Dent” badges after his performance as Two-Face in The Dark Knight, after his almost unrecognizable performance opposite Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich.  And as the vile mastermind opposite Ben Affleck in the superb Philip K. Dick adaptation Paycheck.  With Erased, a flick with a botched release schedule back in 2012 and 2013, he could have had his break-out role.

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Oblivion or Top Gun 2

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re in sync with Joseph Kosinski’s latest science fiction flick Oblivion, you may find yourself thinking about it days after you watched it.  Who exactly was (or will be) Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), his companion Vica (Andrea Risenborough), and the new arrival Julia (played by Bond girl Olga Kurylenko?  How do you know what is real and what is not?  A science fiction film can do something entirely new, or it can mix together quintessential science fiction elements in a new way.  Last summer’s moderately well-received Oblivion, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, is the latter.  It is a good mix of many things that ultimately serve to continue to prove that Tom Cruise knows how to pick scripts that entertain.  

Oblivion is post-apocalyptic, but without the dismal brown tones of most films in that genre.  It contains typical science fiction warning signs, including the age-old “beware of technology,” but also asks the question “are you sure you want to promulgate drone technologies?”  It mixes action and sci-fi in a visually impressive way.  But it does a lot more.

Oblivion clip A

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Expatriate Erased original poster

When was the last time we saw Aaron Eckhart as lead actor in a movie?  As adman Nick Naylor trying to save big tobacco in the brilliant Thank You for Smoking? Eckhart is such a great lead actor-type that you wonder why he isn’t headlining more movies.  He’s the guy that had us all wearing “I Believe in Harvey Dent” badges after his performance as Two-Face in The Dark Knight.  He drew some critical acclaim for his role opposite Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich.  And he served as a great bad guy opposite Ben Affleck in the superb Philip K. Dick adaptation Paycheck.  Finally Echkart gets his own action movie in Erased, a flick whose launch date was originally set for last year but now seems to be finally set for May 10, 2013.

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Tom Cruise as mega-hit actor pretty much can do no wrong.  Where Kevin Costner excels at boyish buffoonery, Tom Cruise plays cocky like no other.  Where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the ultimate action hero, Tom Cruise’s trademark parts are fiercely determined and angry.  Like Arnold, if you can put aside and ignore his personal antics, his films always entertain.  Whether it’s Cruise in a small role like way back in Taps and The Outsiders, or the usual leading man role, as with A Few Good Men, Rain Man, Top Gun, War of the Worlds, the Mission: Impossible films, Minority Report, Jerry Maguire, The Last Samurai, The Color of Money, Far and Away, The Firm, or Valkyrie, his films just don’t disappoint.

Oblivion B

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