Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning gems like Hidden, Amour and The White Ribbon. So this French film may be as close as he'll get to making a comedy. Indeed, it's a witty exploration of family and societal dysfunction that sometimes borders on farcical. But it's also a story about people grappling with suicidal and murderous urges. And the wry performances of its superb cast make it jarringly unforgettable.
It's set in Calais, where Anne (Isabelle Huppert) runs the family construction business and lives with her forgetful father Georges (Jean-Louis Trintingnant), her doctor brother Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz and his shy wife Anais (Laura Verlinden). But Anne's slacker son Pierre (Franz Rogowski) is struggling in his role as company manager, especially in the wake of an accident on one of their building sites. And Thomas now needs to care for his 13-year-old daughter Eve (Fantine Harduin) from a previous marriage. Meanwhile, dark thoughts are swirling, as Eve is posting death-obsessed videos on social media, and George is planning a startling suicide attempt.
These are all complex, layered people who are so consumed by their own issues that they often fail to notice what's happening with the people around them. And this echoes the film's larger themes about the wealthy residents in this area who are trying to ignore the surging population of desperate immigrants amongst them. Haneke orchestrates all of this in his usual dryly involving way, but this time adds a playfulness amid the disturbing interaction. Huppert is particularly good at injecting a sardonic wit beneath Anne's glacial expressions. This is a woman who won't let anyone see how annoyed she is, weathering the bigger storm to proceed with both a company merger and her own engagement to her lawyer (Toby Jones).
Continue reading: Happy End Review
Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are partners. Skilled government agents whose job it is to protect the human race and uphold the law on an intergalactic basis, they defy orders to seperate when they are sent by their commander Arün Filitt (Clive Owen) to visit a utopian city named Alpha. Housing 17 million residents of every alien species in the known universe, it's a sprawling metropolis where creatures of all races share their varied knowledge and their skills and help each other in creating the most technologically advanced and peaceful place in existence. However, the fact that Valerian and Laureline are on their way there means that something evil is afoot; somebody wants to destroy the cross-cultural harmony and threaten the safety of all races not just in Alpha, but in every corner of the universe.
For Luc Besson's latest foray into the sci-fi stratosphere, he has decided to bring the popular graphic novel 'Valérian and Laureline' to life in a screen adaptation; Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne have been cast in the lead roles of Valerian and Laureline respectively.
A remix of The Beatles' much loved track 'Because' from their 1969 classic album 'Abbey Road' can be heard sound tracking the trailer.
Set thousands of years in the future, Valérian and Laureline journey far and wide around the universe at the behest of the government in charge of the human territories. Their mission is to keep the peace and make sure order is continually maintained. Valérian can't help but be enamoured by Laureline obvious beauty and strong mentality but she is hesitant toward his advances and tries to keep their relationship as professional as can be.
By Rich Cline
French actor-filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) takes on a major event in his nation's colonial history with this true action-adventure set on the lush South Pacific island of New Caledonia. It's a muscular, harrowing military thriller that has echoes of Zero Dark Thirty in its urgent story's drive to a big action climax. And it was made a year earlier.
The events take place in 1988, as politicians in France are preparing for general elections when an uprising breaks out in New Caledonia and several people are taken hostage by Kanak islanders. So French special forces captain Philippe (Kassovitz) assembles a crack team to diffuse the situation. Their goal is to facilitate talks to find a peaceful solution, but the local French politician (Martin) and military bosses are keen on a much more aggressive approach to crush any percieved rebellion. This is especially frustrating to Philippe after he meets the Kanak leader (Lapacas) and discovers that they also want peace, and that the whole situation is the result of panic and inexperience.
As the military and government pushes violence over peace, the story becomes increasingly intense. The political gamesmanship is shocking, as candidates falsely label the Kanaks as "savages" to get votes while arrogant leaders make snap decisions thousands of miles away in Paris. So the film begins to feel like a real attempt to right France's colonial wrongs, and it's infused with the righteous anger of centuries of mistreatment of indigenous peoples. It even opens with the caption, "The truth hurts, but lies kill".
Continue reading: Rebellion [L'Ordre Et La Morale] Review
By Rich Cline
It's hardly surprising that Soderbergh takes such a bracing approach to the action thriller genre. What makes this film stand out from the crowd is its insistence on making sure that the action is grounded in human physicality, internalised drama and the laws of gravity.
Mallory (Carano) is a former military operative who's now a private contractor.
After working with Aaron (Tatum) on a rather dodgy kidnap-rescue in Barcelona, her U.S. Government boss Kenneth (McGregor) sends her to Dublin on an assignment with British agent Paul (Fassbender). But things quickly get messy and, when she ends up on the run, she desperately grabs a passerby (Angarano) and tells him her tale while figuring out what to do. The only men she trusts are a political puppet-master (Douglas) and her ex-military guru dad (Paxton).
Continue reading: Haywire Review
Mallory Kane is a highly trained freelance covert operative who works for the American Government in some of the most dangerous corners of the world. One day, she gets an assignment which is described to her as being 'like a trained holiday': she must go to Barcelona and free a Chinese journalist who is being held hostage there.
Continue: Haywire Trailer
By Rich Cline
Harrowing, violent and deeply disturbing, this realistic drama about children fighting in Liberia's grisly civil war (1999-2003) is not only a strong story, but it has wide resonance as a look at young people living without limits.
Mad Dog (Minie) is the 15-year-old commander of a group of boy soldiers, all stolen from their families and turned into ruthless killers by the age of 10.
Operating in a world with no moral centre, they rape and pillage their way through the country challenging everyone with big guns and macho posturing, including the UN peacekeeping force. Mad Dog is also on a collision course with 16-year-old Laokole (Vandy), who has lost her little brother and is trying to get help for her wounded father.
Continue reading: Johnny Mad Dog Review
By Bill Gibron
In the movie critic handbook (yep, we all get one), there are certain assured signs that a movie is going to tank and tank hard. Sometimes, all it takes is a name over a marquee (Rob Schneider!). In other instances, the format (mindless Movie lampoon) foreshadows the flop sweat. Perhaps the surest indication of some certified crap comes from the studio itself. When they fail to screen a film before it opens, even cancelling pre-planned previews to avoid that deadliest of PR pariahs (bad word of mouth), you know you're in trouble. After the 90 soulless minutes that make up Mathieu Kassovitz's Babylon A.D., you'll never doubt that tome again.
Toorop (Vin Diesel) is a mercenary hired by an old ally, Gorsky (Gerard Depardieu) to transport a young girl named Aurora (Mélanie Thierry) from Eastern Europe to New York City. In the violent, dystopic world which is the future, she needs someone with Toorop's skills as a smuggler. Along with Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh), the trio must traverse crowded train depots, perilous border checkpoints, a trip aboard an old Soviet sub, and a snowmobile ride across a security drone-policed arctic tundra. Once they arrive in America, Toorop finally discovers the purpose of his mission. Aurora is either carrying a deadly disease... or the new messiah. In either case, the evil High Priestess (Charlotte Rampling) will stop at nothing to get her hands on them.
Continue reading: Babylon A.D. Review
It's been a long, tough road watching Steven Spielberg grow up. Too often, the great Hollywood money machine seemed to flip self-consciously back and forth between his serious work (Schindler's List) and the popcorn flicks (The Lost World, The Terminal). For better or for worse, though, 2005 will be remembered as the year when Spielberg finally and resoundingly merged these twin desires into unified works of serious entertainment, first his stunning War of the Worlds, and now Munich, a less complete piece of work, perhaps, but the most ambitious of Spielberg's career and truly something to behold.
What makes Munich even more ambitious than films like List or even Empire of the Sun is that it's not as recognizable a film as those classically-structured epics. This film is part spy thriller and part meditation on violence but not completely either. The result comes out as somewhat scrambled by the end, with the pieces of about a half-dozen lesser movies mixed around inside, but there's rarely a moment when it's not grabbing you by the collar and demanding your undivided attention. We should have more of this kind of thing.
Continue reading: Munich Review
By David Levine
At one point toward the end of Birthday Girl, Ben Chaplin's defeated character sits in front of a campfire looking at the woman who transformed his lonely but successful life into that of a criminal. For the first time in the film, I could finally relate to him. I too felt beaten down. The connection I felt was not because I'm a nice guy facing similar woman troubles, but because neither Chaplin's character nor the movie itself bear the slightest amount of common sense.
Chaplin plays John, a British bank clerk who has accomplished everything in his life except for finding true love. As the film opens, he is rehearsing his life script in front of a Webcam for a Russian online mail-order bride service. He's finally had enough of the dating world, so he reaches out halfway across the globe to find a wife.
Continue reading: Birthday Girl Review