It's rare for an American remake to be scruffier than the original, but this film is an intriguingly messier take on the super-slick, hugely engaging 2009 Oscar winner from Argentina. Filmmaker Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) has stripped down the tone and revamped the plot considerably, replacing the original film's big emotional surges with grittier intrigue and subtle intelligence.
The story begins as New York security expert Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) returns to Los Angeles, picking up the trail of an unsolved murder he worked on 13 years earlier when he was an FBI agent. His former colleague Jess (Julia Roberts) is still in the FBI, while Claire (Nicole Kidman) is now the city's district attorney. Together, they secretly begin looking into the case again, tracking the suspect (Joe Cole) through the city and dodging interference from fellow agent Reg (Michael Kelly). But the investigation doesn't go as planned, jeopardising all of them in their current jobs. And Ray is having trouble sorting out his relational history with both Jess and Claire.
These three fine actors cleverly play with the delicate tensions both between them and in the larger picture. At the centre, Ejiofor is gripping as a man of conscience who is tenaciously hoping for justice in a seriously murky situation. Kidman adds a slightly cheeky tone as a woman who has achieved professional success but never forgets the dodgy choices she has made. And Roberts gets the showier role, losing all of her Hollywood glamour as the tomboyish Jess, a woman with layer after layer of emotional turmoil. The chemistry between them is fascinating, even if the filmmaking approach feels dry and aloof. But there's so much going on in both the story and characters that it's impossible to look away. Nothing that happens is quite what it seems to be, and the big ideas linger in the background, leaving plenty for us to chew on.
Continue reading: Secret In Their Eyes Review
Being over 40 and a female journalist in the city means you don't necessarily get the good projects to work on. Kim Barker is just one of those women and she's in need of a new dose of... something. Her relationship is static and her life hasn't exactly become the success story she hoped it would.
When her news organisation is looking for some new field reporters, Kim decides that it might be the chance she's looking for. Sure, the new job might be based in Kabul, but it's got to be better than what she's got. Arriving in the foreign land, she's sent to 'the fun house', a name given to the building where all the foreign journalists live. Learning how to report from two countries and moving back and forth with armed escorts soon becomes the norm for Kim and she develops a an affection for a country most would be wanting to distance themselves from.
As well as reporting - often menial - stories, Kim quickly becomes absorbed in the local way life as well as finding a few new friends also living in the fun house. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based on Kim Barker's memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Alfred Molina, Salma Hayek and Quvenzhane Wallis - Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet Special Screening held at LACMA's Bing Theatre at LACMA’s Bing Theatre - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 30th July 2015
In this pointed and involving New York drama, the snap of realistic dialogue more than makes up for a fundamental flaw in the premise. It helps to have first-rate actors like John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in the focal roles, and filmmaker Ira Sachs has a wonderful eye for earthy rhythms of human interaction that continually reveal deeper truths everyone can identify with. So the way the film explores a long-term relationship is revelatory and important.
The film opens as Ben and George (Lithgow and Molina) finally get legally married after 39 years together. But when they return from their honeymoon, their happiness hits a bump: George is sacked from his job as a music teacher at a Catholic school because he's now considered openly gay. Unable to afford their mortgage, they sell their flat and take a huge loss due to fees. So now they are forced to live separately: Ben moves in with his workaholic nephew Elliot (Darren E. Burrows) and his wife Kate (Marisa Tomei), sharing a bunk bed with their surly teen son Joey (Charlie Tahan). Meanwhile, George takes the sofa of noisy party-boy neighbours Ted and Roberto (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez). Neither situation is remotely ideal, but they try to make it work, knowing that it's temporary.
The problem is that none of this is actually necessary. They had much better options than this, so the continuing messiness feels like it could have been very easily avoided simply by making a few rational decisions rather than be pushed in one direction by an undercooked screenplay. On the other hand, the actors are more than up to the challenge, finding the most meaningful angles within every scene. Sachs gives his cast the space to bring these likeable people to life. Lithgow is terrific as the chatty Ben, who drives Kate crazy while creating tensions in their family. And Molina is wonderful as the more patient, open-minded George. Their chemistry together is sparky and realistic.
Continue reading: Love Is Strange Review
Romantic comedies depend on the sympathies of an audience, but in this scruffy movie actor-filmmaker Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) plays a character so relentlessly naive and self-absorbed that it's impossible to root for him. This also makes it difficult to laugh at his goofy antics, because he's more pathetic than funny. Viewers looking for something offbeat and a bit dorky may find the film somewhat charming, but it feels oddly under-developed.
Helberg plays Quinn, a 28-year-old hypochondriac who works as a florist, afraid to pursue his desired career as a jazz musician. He's only ever had one girlfriend, Devon (Melanie Lynskey), and after 10 years together feels like it's time to propose. But this thought sparks a doubt in his mind, which is fanned into a flame when his sexy work colleague Kelsey (Maggie Grace) confesses that she has a crush on him. Quinn's best pal Jameson (Zachary Quinto) isn't much help, and soon Devon has had enough with Quinn's sudden distance. So she moves to Paris to stay with family friends and get some perspective. In a state of confusion, Quinn follows her there and is shocked to discover that she has already struck up a perhaps too-close friendship with handsome violinist Guillaume (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).
Right from the start it's clear that Helberg's stammering nerd Quinn is only with Lynskey's witty-thoughtful Devon because they've known each other so long. There isn't a moment in this film when they feel even remotely suited to each other. And when Grace's slutty Kelsey throws herself at Quinn, the movie takes on a Woody Allen-style leeriness, as a geeky filmmaker makes a movie in which gorgeous women throw themselves at him. Helberg has some innate charm, but Quinn is so socially inept that it's obvious to everyone but him that he needs to go off and become a mature human being before getting into any sort of relationship.
Continue reading: We'll Never Have Paris Review
In a magical world of fairies and goblins, two worlds live secluded from each other, with neither knowing of the other's existence. But one day, a beastly creature stumbles out of the forest, causing the fairies to question just what lives in the woods. With the two societies meeting for the first time, hostilities emerge, leading to the kidnapping and ransom of one of the fairies. With all-out war on the horizon, to falls to an elite group of heroes to venture where no fairy has gone before, and prove that perhaps the two races aren't as different on the inside as they are on the outside.
Continue: Strange Magic Trailer
Watch the trailer below
Love is Strange sees Ben and George stuck with nowhere to live
The result: Ben and George must find a new place to live, but the gentrification of New York has seen the housing market become tremendously difficult to navigate, meaning the newlyweds have to shack up with friends, surviving off George’s private piano lessons and Ben’s pension.
Ben and George have been together for four years and finally decide to get married. While their matrimony may have touched the hearts of their friends and family, the archdiocese soon hears about it and George is subsequently fired from his job as a teacher at the local catholic school. The pair can't afford to live in the area any longer with only Ben's pensions and George's profits from private piano lessons as income, and so they must sell their apartment and set out on a search for cheaper housing. However, the tough New York housing market means they are forced to stay with their separate families and friends. It's not the most ideal of situations for anyone; George and Ben are struggling to cope with their separation and neither are dealing with their strange new home environments.
Continue: Love Is Strange Trailer
It's taken nearly 30 years to bring Larry Kramer's passionate, award-winning play to the screen, but this high-calibre production is a genuine stunner. Even if it was made for television, it carries the gut-punch of a great drama, adding a deeply personal perspective to recent Aids epidemic documentaries like How to Survive a Plague and We Were Here.
At the centre is the outspoken writer Ned (Mark Ruffalo), who has already ruffled feathers in the 1981 New York gay community with his rants against promiscuity. So when a close friend (Jonathan Groff) comes down with what has been labelled "gay cancer", he has a new cause to get angry about. He gathers his buddies including Bruce, Tommy and Mickey (Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Joe Mantello) to form an action group, working with Emma (Julia Roberts), a doctor who suspects that the disease is sexually transmitted. But the community isn't willing to give up its hard-fought sexual freedoms. And as Ned falls for Times journalist Felix (Matt Bomer), he becomes increasingly outraged that the government is doing nothing while thousands of people die.
Kramer's script is so intimate and raw that it brings the characters to vivid life, giving each of the actors a show-stopping scene of his or her own. Ruffalo's complex and remarkably transparent performance holds everything together beautifully. Ned's relationships and confrontations all pack a powerful punch, from the romantic scenes with Bomer's lively Felix to darker strain with his brother (Alfred Molina) or an all-out battle with a politician (Corey Stoll). And Roberts gets some pungent scenes of her own, most notably a fiery rant against a room full of callous congressmen.
Continue reading: The Normal Heart Review
The Prophet has been in development for two years and Roger Allers, Salma Hayek and co. are finally (almost) ready to unveil the fruits of their labor.
Salma Hayek took to Cannes to show and promote The Prophet this weekend – her own creative baby, based onKhalil Gibran's philosophical novel. Hayek is producing the film, with Roger Allers co-directing with a long list of creatives, including Tomm Moore, Joan Gratz, Joann Sfar, Bill Plympton, Paul and Gaeton Brizzi, Michal Socha, Nina Paley and Mohammed Saeed Harib, each of whom was in charge of a separate thematic section of the animated flick.
Salma Hayek has a personal attachment to The Prophet.
As its producer, Hayek is very dedicated to The Prophet, not least because it’s a pet project of hers and one she associates with her childhood. She talked about it at Cannes, where the film had an in-progress screening this week.
Justin and the Knights of Valour will attempt to break a challenging and competitive animation market for 2013.
It’s been a pretty solid year for animated features so far; Wreck it Ralph, Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University all performed solidly with the critics and in the box office. But it hasn’t been all plain sailing – films like Turbo and Escape From Planet Earth haven’t gone down too well.
Can Justin, voiced by Highmore, learn the ways of the Knight?
There was a time when all animated films were basically the best films ever: Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Toy Story(s), Up – but now there seems to be room for some pretty average efforts. Striking up some cute characters with big eyes, pitting them against a baddie and creating a weird little fella for comic relief just doesn’t cut it anymore.
It's rare for an American remake to be scruffier than the original, but this film...
Being over 40 and a female journalist in the city means you don't necessarily get...
In this pointed and involving New York drama, the snap of realistic dialogue more than...
After living together for 39 years, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are able...
Romantic comedies depend on the sympathies of an audience, but in this scruffy movie actor-filmmaker...
In a magical world of fairies and goblins, two worlds live secluded from each other,...
Ben and George have been together for four years and finally decide to get married....
It's taken nearly 30 years to bring Larry Kramer's passionate, award-winning play to the screen,...
Justin is an average boy with big dreams living in a Kingdom where the Queen...
Pixar revisits the characters from 2001's Monsters, Inc. for a frat-house prequel. Which is kind...
There's an intriguing premise to this snappy action thriller, but it's never properly developed by...
Nathan Harper is a popular kid, he's on the school wrestling team and like most...
After Titus, Taymor brings her unique perspective to another Shakespeare classic, although this movie feels...