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The Virtuoso | Review

The Virtuoso can’t even get the basics of filmmaking right–which proves for a terribly tedious watch.



Anson Mount and Anthony Hopkins in "The Virtuoso" (2021, Lionsgate)

If there’s one thing that five years of film school taught me, it is that every director should adopt a “show, don’t tell” approach as much as possible. Alfred Hitchcock even went out and developed a quasi-theory based on the Kuleshov effect called “pure cinematics,” in which one gaze or look from an actor can convey so much more than any dialogue spoken by any of them. He dubs it “pure cinematics” because it’s the purest cinematic expression you can ever achieve with the camera’s power, editing, and how the actor perceives the camera he’s looking at. Look at his remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much as an example and Doris Day’s magnificent reaction when she sees the gun being pulled out of the curtain—no words, just an agonizing scream, and fright on her eyes to convey the expression of fear and anguish.

Nick Stagliano certainly didn’t listen to Hitchcock when he made The Virtuoso, starring one of the greatest expressive actors of our time, Anson Mount, the only good part of Marvel’s disastrous Inhumans series. In that show, he represented many expressions only from his non-verbal emotions since his character’s voice can end the world. In The Virtuoso, Mount’s titular character has to painstakingly explain everything through inherently pointless voiceover, as he completes a mission from his mentor (Anthony Hopkins) to assassinate someone named “White Rivers”—whom he has no idea what/who he/she is. But guess what? It doesn’t really matter because before you can grasp what’s going, The Virtuoso will put you to sleep quicker than you can say “White Rivers.”

Anthony Hopkins Plays the Villain in New Trailer for The Virtuoso

Oh, God, oh God. It’s been a while that a film has been more tedious than this—hell, the last time I was this bored at a movie was during James Gray’s Ad Astra, another movie that doesn’t know how to use voiceover in a thoughtful light (it made everything sound like Willem Dafoe’s parodic Carson Clay’s Playback Time in Mr. Bean’s Holiday). When you overexplain every minute detail of The Virtuoso’s operations, it makes it look as if you don’t trust the audience’s intelligence. You already know he’s doing a mission to kill someone (visual cues tell us that he’s a contract killer)—why do we need to know everything about him, even the most baffling, fruitless moments? The Virtuoso walks into a house’s parking lot and babbles, “Your first concern on a night assault is dogs. The fact that it’s been quiet so far can be misleading. On nights like this, only the most cruel of owners leave their dogs out.”

Film Review - The Virtuoso (2021)

All of that could be fine if a dog were showing up, but there isn’t sooooooooooooooooooo why talk about it, then? There might be a dog? Is that it? Who cares?!? No, really, who cares? Even if there were a dog (and if there was no voiceover), the tension would’ve been amplified a tad more. The film already has a cold atmosphere, evidently exposed by its brooding cinematography; it doesn’t need any voiceover narration pronounced by any character. Heck, the characters are already explaining the plot as it goes along, so why must we know everything that’s going on in the protagonist’s mind every two seconds? If your voiceover will add nothing to our appreciation of the movie or will worsen the overall atmosphere, don’t use it. Scrap it. Already you have a somewhat interesting shell of a movie if the narration was stripped from it—I mean, the plot isn’t any good, but it would’ve held my attention.

Look at Ridley Scott’s theatrical cut of Blade Runner, an infamously terrible cut, botched by a phonetic voiceover narration from Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, because the studio didn’t think the audience would be able to understand what was going on, solely through expressions. When the Director’s Cut (and Final Cut) hit shelves, it was reappraised and lauded as a sci-fi masterpiece, compared to its initial release—and Scott only made minor changes to the story (he removed the “happy ending” and stripped the narration). Stripping the voiceover made for a better film, where audiences could interpret what was conveyed visually rather than orally. The same thing could’ve been used with Ad Astra and The Virtuoso, whose voiceover narration botches the entire quality of the film.

THE VIRTUOSO Trailer: Anthony Hopkins hires assassin Anson Mount to Kill a  Mysterious Target in Nick Stagliano's 2021 Movie | FilmBook

Anson Mount has proven himself a skillful (and highly expressive) actor from his tenure in Inhumans and Star Trek: Discovery. He and Anthony Hopkins are the only good parts of this terribly drab movie. Hopkins has one incredible 10-minute monologue sequence where he continues to prove he’s one of the greatest actors working today (who highly deserved his Academy Award for The Father, even though whatever happened that night wasn’t his fault). Mount superbly holds his own during many sequences, particularly when he has to confront one of his targets (played in a fun cameo by Eddie Marsan), as he laces his drink with…Viagra (don’t ask). It’s still a terribly anticlimactic film, particularly when you see the big “twist” coming from a mile away. As soon as Mount enters a diner and sees Abbie Cornish as a waitress, you almost certainly know that it’s WHITE RIVERS. Hell, they could’ve just written it on her forehead because of how terribly obvious it is. Stagliano and co-screenwriter James C. Wolf don’t even make any effort to hide it—as they’re too busy giving endless amounts of dialogue for The Virtuoso to blabber on and on to put their audience to sleep.

Minus one memorable action sequence, packing the extreme grittiness and schlock-like qualities reminiscent of S. Craig Zahler’s extreme-violent pictures, The Virtuoso is a terribly uneventful (and predictable) bore, ruined by a terrible voice-over narration that undermines every single thing happening in the movie. Anson Mount, Anthony Hopkins, David Morse, Eddie Marsan, and Abbie Cornish are all great actors who all deserve better than whatever they thought The Virtuoso offered them…oh, probably a big paycheck. That usually does the trick.

The Virtuoso is now playing in select theatres and available to rent on video-on-demand.

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Chloe Domont’s ‘Fair Play’ Is A Spellbinding Debut That Challenges Gender Dynamics



Alden Ehrenreich as Luke and Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in 'Fair Play'. (Netflix)

Chloe Domont’s debut film, Fair Play, opens with a captivating scene that foreshadows the thrilling and thought-provoking journey ahead. A deeply in love couple, caught up in the excitement of a wedding, find themselves in a bathroom, passionately kissing. As their intimacy escalates, there is a surprising twist—blood stains their clothes. They share a giggle amidst the exhilaration, and their eyes land on a ring on the floor. With blood on their hands and a murder yet to be revealed, they go down on their knees once more, this time for a proposal. The scene sets the stage for a story that combines elements of romance, finance, and psychological intrigue.

Domont skillfully ventures beyond the trappings of a typical workplace affair and delves into the dark world of financial thrillers through a mesmerizing psychological puzzle. By taking a subtle narrative twist, she explores the fragility of gender dynamics. In a perfect love story, had Luke been promoted, everything would have been idyllic. However, Emily’s success and her private chamber disrupt their relationship, unveiling its underlying fractures. Overwhelmed with guilt, Emily immediately apologizes to Luke for achieving professional success. This familiar dynamic unfolds, highlighting society’s conditioning of women to downplay their achievements.

Alden Ehrenreich as Luke and Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in ‘Fair Play’. (Netflix)

Unlike traditional didactic tales, Fair Play abstains from presenting a clear moral center. Luke is not portrayed as a monster. Initially, he expresses pride in Emily’s success. However, something within him snaps as he faces the corrosive atmosphere of men assuming that Emily slept her way to the top. Emily, too, is drawn into the boys’ locker room conversations, refusing to concede her hard-earned accomplishments.

With astute storytelling and a refusal to pause for respite, Domont takes Fair Play on an unexpected trajectory. The film’s pacing mirrors the emotional claustrophobia of a chamber drama, intensifying the toxic power dynamics that shift nauseatingly fast. The narrative highlights how even well-intentioned condescension can overshadow narratives of men advocating for their female partners. It underscores the reality that equality in love, within heteronormative relationships, relies on unequal gender politics.

Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in ‘Fair Play’. (Netflix)

Cinematographer Menno Mans contributes to the film’s tension through tight close-up shots of the characters. This visual approach accelerates the emotional intensity woven into their relationship. The exceptional performances of the film’s two lead actors further complicate a linear reading of the story, lending an additional layer of ambivalence. The bathroom scene at the beginning recurs in a darker context near the film’s climax, showcasing the dramatic shift in the actors’ body language. Dynevor expertly weaponizes the fragility of her frame, while Ehrenreich masterfully adapts to his character’s evolving mentality. The film progressively transforms Luke from a genuinely loving and lucky man into a familiar representation of a man that resonates with the experiences of many women.

The return of blood on the floor symbolizes an undisclosed satisfaction, leaving the audience captivated by the film’s powerful exploration of gender dynamics and the human psyche.

Alden Ehrenreich as Luke and Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in Fair Play. (Netflix)

To be honest, FAIR PLAY is not what I expected and I enjoyed it very much. A captivating thriller that explores how power, gender roles, and workplace relationships interact.

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Prime Video

Gen V Season 1 is Bloody and Disgusting, Yet Utterly Compelling



Ever since The Boys premiered on Prime Video in 2019, it has consistently dropped jaws and blown people’s minds with its weirdly whacky, bloody and horny storytelling about corrupt superheroes. Hollywood had never seen anything quite like this. It is developed by Eric Kripke and creative forces such as Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were also involved. Three incredible seasons have made it into one of the biggest shows right now. It was no surprise that Prime Video would expand such a beloved universe and greenlight a spinoff series titled Gen V which is finally coming to Prime Video.


Gen V is focused around teen supes studying at Godolkin University, who strive to make their careers in crime fighting and potentially join the seven one day. This 8-episode series is set after the events of The Boys Season 3. This series is developed by Eric Kripke, Craig Rosenberg, and Evan Goldberg. It stars Jaz Sinclair, Chance Perdomo, Maddie Phillips, Lizzie Broadway, and Patrick Schwarzenegger among others.


If anyone was worried that this series would not be as wild and horny as The Boys just because it is set around teens, let me put those worries to bed because this series stays true to every aspect of its predecessor and maintains the unfiltered storytelling throughout. The tone is as outlandish as always and keeps up all the horniness in the characters, including the obsession with penises. It is very much a hard R-rated show, so it might be safe to think about who you recommend it to.

Chance Perdomo (Andre Anderson)

The performances here are excellent, by everyone. Jaz Sinclair who plays Marie Moreau, and Chance Perdomo who plays Andre Anderson are particularly great. They have an emotional vulnerability that makes them totally convincing and makes the viewer sympathize with them. Shelley Conn is mysterious and shrewd as Dean Shetty. Maddie Phillips and Lizzie Broadway are good too. But there isn’t a powerhouse performance such as Antony Starr as Homelander.

The story still revolves around supes, though this time a younger generation of them, and the overall world-building of this franchise but it is surprisingly deeper and more mature than most would expect. At its core, there is a meaningful coming-of-age story about dealing with loss, power and the pressure of high expectations. Every character has interesting arcs and the character development is very smooth. The writers also managed to juggle so many subplots at the same time and managed to keep most of them intriguing. The pacing is also very consistent and rarely slows down.

Several people just find The Boys too disgusting and can’t stand the extreme and explicit nature of the narrative. Gen V also runs on a very similar track in terms of storytelling. So those who did not enjoy The Boys, will most probably not enjoy the new spin-off either. But this show will definitely delight the die-hard fans of this iconic franchise. Gen V does take a lot of shortcuts in its narrative and I wish they let the relationships between characters marinate for a little while longer. The plot may also seem overstuffed at times and there is arguably a lack of action so far.

Gen V embraces the outrageousness of The Boys while delivering an engaging coming-of-age story and manages to stand out on its own. It is as bloody, horny, crudely funny and dramatic as you would expect. The series finds new energy and carries the legacy of its predecessor. The first six episodes are thoroughly engaging and get you invested in the characters and their motivations. Expect to have a blast and see a lot of cameos.

Episodes Viewed – 6 out of 8.

Gen V episodes 1-3 will stream on Prime on September 29 with the finale on November 3.

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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Is Wes Anderson’s Delightful Take On Roald Dahl’s Sweet Story



Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in Roald Dahl's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (Netflix)

Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson have both left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of generations. Dahl’s timeless stories have enchanted readers for decades, while Anderson’s groundbreaking films have pushed the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. Their unique talents and shared appreciation for the power of literature have now converged in Anderson’s latest masterpiece, the modern short film adaptation of Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson, known for his extraordinary attention to detail and distinctive visual style, brings Dahl’s adult-friendly tale to life in a truly captivating way. With a star-studded cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, the film stays true to the author’s original text, with the actors delivering their lines directly from the page. This dedication to the literary essence of the story sets the stage for Anderson’s exceptional storytelling.

Dev Patel as Dr. Chatterjee, Sir Ben Kingsley as Imdad Khan and Richard Ayoade as Dr. Marshall in Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Following his previous successful adaptation of Dahl’s work with the Oscar-nominated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is poised to once again captivate audiences with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. In a mere 37 minutes, this short film manages to deliver a delightful and heartwarming experience that can beat any full-length feature film. The commitment and power of the A-list cast shine throughout, ensuring a resounding success on multiple levels.

From the very beginning, Fiennes embodies Dahl himself, narrating the tale as he seamlessly transitions between the comfort of his home and the picturesque outdoors.  By applying freeze-frame techniques and cleverly staged tableaus, Fiennes and his fellow actors walk through different sets that are magically transformed by on-screen “stagehands” right before our eyes. This dynamic interplay between reality and cunningness is a testament to Anderson’s growing fascination with the theatrical aspects of filmmaking.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar not only captures the imaginative essence found in Dahl’s works but also showcases the filmmaker’s mastery of visual storytelling. Each scene is meticulously crafted, with Anderson’s staging drawing heavily on theatrical influences. Costume changes happen seamlessly on camera, resulting in Ben Kingsley’s Khan humorously questioning the whereabouts of his mustache. Furthermore, practical effects, including a delightful box trick, add to the mesmerizing experience of witnessing the film’s creation unfold before our eyes.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar and Ralph Fiennes as the policeman in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Anderson’s choice to create a short film rather than a feature-length production proves to be a stroke of genius. The pacing remains consistently engaging, ensuring that viewers remain captivated from start to finish. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a visual feast, an entertaining experience, and, above all, a whole lot of fun.

When it comes to acting, it’s so hard to pick a standout because whenever an actor comes on the screen, he or she gives a performance that stays with you. Benedict Cumberbatch is magnetic in his portrayal of Henry Sugar and mesmerises you with a performance that shows his acting prowess. Ben Kingsley shows us why he is one of the greatest actors of all time. His monologues are truly special. Meanwhile, Dev Patel and Richard Ayoade are the magical new entrants in Anderson’s world of magical stories. Both of them are brilliant in their respective roles.

On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes showcases his versatility by embodying Roald Dahl in the most fantastic way possible.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Roald Dahl’s rich storytelling finds new life through Wes Anderson’s innovative cinematic techniques. Their creative collaboration results in a short film that is visually pleasing, emotionally compelling, and brimming with the charm and magic that have made both artists legends in their respective fields. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is not to be missed, as it brings together the best of Dahl and Anderson, leaving audiences enraptured by its undeniable allure. Experience this enchanting journey, and let yourself be swept away by the power of imagination.

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