Believe it or not, Disney's watery version of the classic play and true story is not as bad as you'd think. While Eisenberg grates, at least she doesn't get to speak. Alison Elliott, so memorable in films like The Wings of the Dove, plays the titular worker of miracles Annie Sullivan as angry and almost mean, but in the end she is called upon to carry the picture, and she mostly does. David Strathairn's turn as Captain Keller (also angry and mean) is forgettable, but it's the small performance by Lucas Black (All the Pretty Horses) as Helen's brother that is actually the best part of the movie.
Continue reading: The Miracle Worker (2000) Review
Oh: But watch for Jared Harris's Walken impersonation at the 42 minute mark.
Continue reading: The Eternal (1998) Review
Birth hangs its hat on a delicate premise that demands kid gloves if it seriously hopes to sustain the already shaky credibility. An elegant transition of life forces starts the film. Physician Sean dies while jogging. Simultaneously, a baby is born. Fast forward 10 years, where a cave-eyed child coincidentally named Sean (Cameron Bright) claims to Upper West Side basket case Anna (Nicole Kidman) that he is her reincarnated ex-husband. Anna's humorless fiancée (Danny Huston) scoffs at the idea. Her mother (a neglected Lauren Bacall) displays indifference. ("I never liked Sean, anyway," she articulates.) But Anna's not so quick to write the boy off.
Continue reading: Birth Review
Michael is an ex-compulsive gambler, returned to his Austin hometown ostensibly to turn his life around and get a real job, but in reality having some less savory motives. His ex-wife, Rachel (Alison Elliott), is in town and attached to a local, small-time hood. When Michael tries to patch things up with Rachel, a plot suddenly (and quite inexplicably) develops between the three to rob the armored car that Michael drives. The plan is hatched, and the fun begins.
Continue reading: The Underneath Review
"Birth" opens with a scene of surprising emotional magnitude that is driven entirely by its score. Instantly and viscerally evocative, the elaborate orchestration -- which plays over a long tracking shot following an anonymous jogger through Central Park during a beautifully moody snowfall -- is a curious, captivating combination of flute, triangle, French horn and (quite startlingly) tympani that has an uplift and an ominousness at the same time.
This gripping music, by the brilliant Alexandre Desplat ("Girl With a Pearl Earring"), does all the work in this scene until the man -- seemingly young and healthy from behind, which is all we see of him -- pauses suddenly, then collapses under a bridge.
The next scene takes place 10 years later. The jogger's widow, Anna (played by a serious, sophisticated, melancholy, unabashedly pushing-40 yet intriguingly elfin Nicole Kidman) is about to get married again, to Joseph (subtle, pensive Danny Huston), a man who is really more a hopelessly devoted dear friend than he is a lover. Soon after their engagement party, a somber 10-year-old boy (Cameron Bright) sneaks into their grand Park Avenue apartment and refuses to leave. "You're my wife," he tells Kidman. "It's me -- Sean."
Continue reading: Birth Review
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