Ben Kingsley and Daniela Lavender at the 28th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Awards Gala held at Palm Springs Convention Center, California, United States - Monday 2nd January 2017
Using remarkably photorealistic animation, this remake of the 1967 Disney classic is warm and enjoyable, with a few moments of suspense for the kids in the audience. Loosely based on Rudyard Kipling's stories, it's a lively tale packed with memorable characters. But it feels relentlessly tamed for a family audience.
Stranded in the jungle as a baby, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) was rescued by the panther Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and raised by a pair of wolves (Lupita Nyong'o and Giancarlo Esposito). But the presence of a human in the jungle is unacceptable to tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who was injured by a man and now wants Mowgli's blood. While fleeing to the human world, Mowgli has a fateful encounter with the seductive python Kaa (Scarlett Johansson). He's rescued by the bear Baloo (Bill Murray), with whom he has a series of adventures, including being kidnapped by a gang of monkeys led by King Louie (Christopher Walken). But Shere Khan is still searching for him, and Mowgli can't hide forever.
Filmmaker Jon Favreau (Iron Man) keeps the story skimming along the surface, avoiding the darker themes woven into the premise. So instead of exploring the meaning of humanity or mankind's relationship with nature, the film is a breezy adventure romp with the usual action movie beats and some surprisingly nasty violence. And it looks utterly amazing, especially since the credits note that it was filmed completely in downtown Los Angeles.
Continue reading: The Jungle Book Review
After the Oscar-winning 2008 documentary Man on Wire told this story with such energy and suspense, it was only a matter of time until someone decided to make a full-on adventure movie. And it's no surprise that the filmmaker turned out to be Robert Zemeckis, known for putting the seemingly unfilmable on the screen, from Who Framed Roger Rabbit to Forrest Gump to The Polar Express. So even if the film feels oddly artificial, this is a rousing, thrilling movie overflowing with cheeky energy.
At the centre of the story is Philippe Petit, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a twinkle in his eye and a faintly silly French accent that works perfectly. In Paris, Philippe is working as a street performer when he sees a drawing of the planned Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center, and he immediately vows to put a wire between them and walk on it. Over the next few years, he recruits a team of accomplices, including his girlfriend Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) and his circus-performer mentor Rudy (Ben Kingsley). Then in Manhattan, they find some men (James Badge Dale and Steve Valentine) to help them on the inside. And in August 1974, just before the towers were finished, they set their elaborate plan in motion.
While other accounts of this story describe Petit's high-wire performance in words and grainy still photos, Zemeckis uses swooping camera movement and vertiginous angles to give the audience goosebumps as Petit elegantly walks back and forth more than 400 meters above the gawping crowd below. After the rousing caper that went on before, this sequence is exhilarating. And Gordon-Levitt plays it beautifully, channeling the man's mischievous passion into every step. This even helps the audience accept the silly narration segments, in which Petit describes the action while perched on the top of the Statue of Liberty with 1970s Manhattan in the background.
Continue reading: The Walk Review
Mowgli is a human boy known as a man-cub to his peers, among which are an array of jungle beasts. Left in the jungle as a baby, he was taken in by a family of wolves who raised him as their own. However, the older he grows, the more of a threat he becomes to a formidable villain named Shere Khan; a Bengal tiger with a deep fear of fire and loathing of man. Led by an impatient black panther named Bagheera, he is sent away from his jungle home to the safety of a nearby man village, though the journey becomes less straight-forward the further they stray. Mowgli befriends a fun-loving bear named Baloo, but finds Khan is not the only jungle menace as he is set upon by a gang of monkeys led by the orangutan King Louie, and hypnotised by a vicious snake named Kaa.
Continue: The Jungle Book - First Look Trailer
Beautifully written and directed, this fact-based drama is an odd mixture of excellent acting and not-quite-right casting. Anton Corbijn clearly knows the subject, since he's a celebrity photographer making a movie about a celebrity photographer. But in this case, the subject of those photos is the elusively magnetic James Dean, a tricky person to recreate dramatically.
It's set in early 1955, as James Dean (Dane DeHaan) has just finished filming East of Eden and is hoping to land the lead role in Rebel Without a Cause. No one knows who he is yet, but freelance photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) has a feeling he could become a big star. When Dennis' agent (Joel Edgerton) lands a commission from Life magazine, Dennis follows James from Hollywood to New York and home to his Indiana farm. But James is evasive and mercurial, and it takes a lot of tenacity for Dennis to crack through his shell to get the shots he needs. Eventually they even become friends, inspiring each other to pursue their dreams on their own terms.
The plot is loose, focussing more on the internal journeys these two men take than on any constructed storyline. And the film switches back and forth between their perspectives, which kind of leaves it without a point of view. But this gives both Pattinson and DeHaan the space to create authentic and complex characters. Pattinson gives his most layered performance yet, especially in scenes involving Dennis' ex-wife and young son (Stella Schnabel and Jack Fulton). Meanwhile, DeHaan creates a character who's thoughtful and fascinating, haunted by his past relationships and unafraid to stand up to the Hollywood system in the form of mogul Jack Warner (a scene-chewing Ben Kingsley). The problem is that, despite a lot of subtle (and more obvious) physical touches, DeHaan never echoes Dean's wiry, hungry energy.
Continue reading: Life Review
Philippe Petit is a young French high-wire artist, passionate about his tightrope dream and determined to find the perfect place to take the walk of his life. Soon he comes across the newly completed World Trade Centre's Twin Towers in New York; imposing edifices standing at more than 400 metres tall, larger than any man-made structures on Earth. After his first visit to the skyscraper rooftops, he knows he must do everything in his power to achieve this impossible dream - even if he risks death or prosecution in doing so. He hires some technically skilled friends who are willing to covertly set up the wire between the buildings and, after a few nervous doubts, injuries and complications with police, he takes the plunge and performs the most memorable high-wire act in history.
Continue: The Walk - Extended Trailer
James Dean is a rising superstar; handsome, slick, smart and mild-mannered, and yet rebellious with dreams of being a famous actor. For passionate Life Magazine photographer Dennis Stock, Dean poses the perfect subject for his latest project and he's determined to capture the star in all his glory ahead of the release of his break-out movie 'Easy Of Eden'. It takes little persuasion on Stock's part to get Dean to agree to the project and the pair set out on a journey from Hollywood, through New York, and over to Fairmont, Indiana where Dean was originally from. Stock's plan is to capture the raw emotion and energy of this iconic figure of angst and coolness, and it doesn't take long before the two start to build an extraordinary friendship, that's made all the more heart-breaking on screen when you consider it's the final months of his life.
Continue: Life Trailer
Manhattan book critic Wendy is forced to adjust to a dramatic life change when her husband leaves her for a younger woman, and sets out to reclaim her independence. The problem is, having lived in the Big Apple all her life, she has never learned to drive. So the fiery writer decides to take lessons from Darwan, a softly spoken, patient taxi driver from India who is about to embark on an arranged marriage. As the pair get to know each other behind the wheel, they both learn valuable lessons, and an unlikely friendship develops between these two very different New Yorkers. It's a friendship that will change their lives for ever.
Continue: Learning To Drive Trailer
He's becoming ever more versatile with his latest filmography.
As a new father, Ryan Reynolds has been re-evaluating his career even as he continues to make movies at a rather brisk pace. He has three films out this year and two more in the can. His latest release is Tarsem Singh's Self/Less, a thriller with a sci-fi twist that involves Ben Kingsley's character implanting his consciousness into Reynolds' younger, fitter body.
Ryan Reynolds' latest movie venture is this sci-fi thriller 'Self/Less'
"I think I'm in a unique position," Reynolds says, "in the fact that I get to star in dramas, comedies and suspense and action films. As I've gotten older, my career has become centred on working with people I would like to collaborate with."
Continue reading: Self/Less And Deadpool Make Ryan Reynolds Ponder Immortality
An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs out of steam. Which is far too early. Despite the always-engaging presence of Ryan Reynolds, this fantastical thriller is slick enough to hold the attention, but fails because it's unable to generate any interest in the central characters. And instead of exploring the fascinating issues the story raises, the filmmakers instead fall back on irrelevant violence.
The story opens as billionaire Manhattan businessman Damien (Ben Kingsley) discovers he has six months to live. But he has heard about a new medical procedure called "shedding", in which his mind is implanted in a lab-grown body. At $250 million, it seems like a bargain, so he signs up with Dr Allbright (Matthew Goode) and prepares to abandon his old life for a new one. He wakes up in New Orleans as Edward (Reynolds), and begins to adjust to his fit new 35-year-old body. But after he misses his adjustment meds one day he has a series of bewildering flashbacks that make him wonder about the true nature of the shedding process. Maybe his new body wasn't so "new" after all. So he goes looking for answers, which involves teaming up with Madeline (Natalie Martinez) and seeking help from his business partner Martin (Victor Garber).
There are all kinds of intriguing themes swirling through this set-up, including issues of identity and mortality. But writers David and Alex Pastor seem uninterested in exploring any of this in lieu of a much more simplistic morality tale packed with continual shoot-out and chase scenes, plus far too much body-swapping. All of this is produced to a very high standard by director Tarsem Singh, who has a reputation for seriously stylish cinema (see The Fall or The Cell). He adds a strong edge to every scene, with intriguingly haunting editing choices and camerawork that add plenty of tension and uncertainty even if the plot itself is utterly predictable.
Continue reading: Self/Less Review
On 7th August, 1974, one man chose to walk a high-wire between the two buildings of the World Trade Centre. Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an adrenaline junkie who loves to walk across the highest ropes he can, and coming from France to America shows him a new chance to start over, and break records. With the help of his team, he intends to set up something highly illegal and incredibly dangerous, to prove the possibilities mankind is capable of. But with this great feat set in motion, the question steadily begins to grow as to whether he will actually accomplish it.
Continue: The Walk Trailer
Date of birth
31st December, 1943
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