Based on the events documented in West of Memphis and the Paradise Lost trilogy, this drama takes an almost clinical approach to the story. By filling in so many details and covering so many perspectives, skilled Canadian director Atom Egoyan sometimes loses the emotional connection, simply because there are too many punches to the gut. But it's utterly riveting.
The events took place in 1993 in rural West Memphis, Arkansas. After three 8-year-old boys go missing, suspicion immediately falls on four goth 16-year-olds: Chris (Dane DeHaan) has just left town, but the fiercely charismatic Damien (James Hamrick), hapless Jason (Seth Meriwether) and mentally disabled Jesse (Kristopher Higgens) are arrested and charged with murder. The victims' parents (including Reese Witherspoon, Alessandro Nivola and Kevin Durand) band together in outrage. But private investigator Ron (Colin Firth) thinks the police have wrongly accused these teens of being killers.
The story is a shocking account of a miscarriage of justice, as the community turns on kids who simply look a bit funny and the police and judicial authorities refuse to admit that they may have made some serious mistakes. The rush to judgement is terrifying, accompanied with explanations that falsely link the teens to satanic rituals and death-metal music. Egoyan cleverly builds a sense of outrage from the start, as the film mourns not only the young boys' death but also the horror of carelessly ruining three innocent teens' lives in response.
Continue reading: Devil's Knot Review
This remake strips away everything that made the 1981 Brooke Shields romance so scandalous. Re-designed for 12-year-old girls, this version of Scott Spencer's novel plays like a dreamy Nicholas Sparks-style fantasy. There's no sense of urgency or danger, and not a single whiff of actual love, despite a lot of heaving sighs and longing glances. Everything on-screen feels like a predictable cliche yearning to pull our heartstrings, but these tricks only work on young teens who haven't seen many movies.
The story centres on good-guy David (Pettyfer), raised by his working-class single dad (Patrick). At his high school graduation, David finally gets up the nerve to talk to the class wallflower, beautiful rich girl Jade (Wilde), who is still grieving over the death of her big brother. There's a spark between them, but Jade's harsh dad (Greenwood) dismisses David as unworthy, then sets out to crush their blossoming romance. Jade's mother (Richardson) and brother (Wakefield) are more supportive, but Dad is so determined to get David out of Jade's life that he inadvertently pushes them even closer together. Surely a happy ending is out of the question.
Only of course it isn't, because we can see that this film doesn't have the nerve to get very dark. Filmmaker Feste only toys around with the nasty side of the story. She can't even let Greenwood play a properly conflicted man; he's essentially bipolar, veering wildly from understanding to maniacal in his reaction to the relentlessly lovely David. Pettyfer's one-note performance merely reminds us of Channing Tatum, but at least he registers on-screen, unlike the vaguely beautiful Wilde. The only performers allowed any complexity are Richardson and Patrick.
Continue reading: Endless Love Review
The trailer for the remake of Endless Love has hit town
You know the drill; a film is released on Valentines Day – it’s really bad but attracts plenty of couples looking to check out a goofy love story with no real meaning.
David and Jade kick off their Endless Love
It’s tradition. But could Endless Love be the film to throw the odds books into the fire? It certainly looks like another sloppy romantic drama, if you watch half of the trailer, but the second half plunges us into some sort of Shakespearian thriller.
Continue reading: Could 'Endless Love' Be A Good Valentines Day Movie? [Trailer]
Bruce Greenwood and Susan Devlin - Los Angeles Premiere of Paramount Pictures' "Star Trek Into Darkness" held at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood - Los Angeles, CA, United States - Wednesday 15th May 2013
After his successful re-imagining of the Star Trek universe four years ago, Abrams dives even deeper into the mythology, which is thrilling for fans but might leave newcomers feeling a bit lost. This sequel surges forward with action, drama, romance and a lot of comedy while constantly nodding back to the earlier TV series and films. And the smart screenplay finds ways to deepen all of the characters along the way, as well as offering an unusually complex villain.
The action picks up soon after the first film ends, as Kirk (Pine) is once again in trouble for disobeying the Prime Directive not to interfere with a planet's culture. But his punishment is short-lived, as Starfleet becomes the victim of brutal attacks in London and San Francisco, sending Kirk, his first officer Spock (Quinto) and the gang (Saldana, Urban, Yelchin and Cho, with Pegg following later) into enemy space to chase the villainous John Harrison (Cumberbatch). But of course, there's a much bigger story going on, and Harrison has a reason for his violent behaviour, leading to a series of terrifying showdowns as they all return to earth.
While the script is packed with shadowy characters, there's not much actual "darkness" in this movie. It's a pretty bouncy, energetic ride, continually making us laugh at tetchy interaction and throwaway one-liners, all of which are cleverly character-based rather than merely silly gags. This gives each actor a chance to shine, with Pegg and Urban offering much of the humour with their amusing crankiness, while Saldana provides the stereotypical female emotional beats. As usual, the strongest scenes are between Kirk and Spock, and their shifting bromance is well-played by Pine and especially Quinto. But dominating the whole film is a meaty turn from Cumberbatch as a particularly fearsome nemesis who also happens to be both brainy and openly emotive.
Continue reading: Star Trek Into Darkness Review
Mainstream audiences may be disappointed that this isn't a gritty thriller pitting the acting talents of Gosling and Cooper against each other, as it's instead a boldly artful, often moving drama. The three-part structure may soften the emotional punch, but a raw script and intimate direction let the actors find real resonance in every scene.
The title is a loose translation of the Mohawk word Schenectady, the New York town where the story is set. In the first section, carnival stunt rider Luke (Gosling) returns to town and tries to rekindle a previous fling with Romina (Mendes). When he discovers that his last visit produced a son, he decides to leave the circus and settle down, taking a job with a local mechanic (Mendelsohn). To make some extra cash, the two team up to rob banks, which puts Luke on a collision course with beat cop Avery (Cooper), who has a wife (Byrne) and young son of his own. Years later, their now-teen sons Jason and AJ (DeHaan and Cohen) discover a past connection they knew nothing about.
To explore the generational ramifications of these men's actions, the film switches perspective twice, first from Luke to Avery and finally to Jason and AJ. But the script never simplifies anyone into "good" or "bad": these are complex people facing difficult situations the best way they can. And sometimes their choices lead to tragic consequences. With this structure, though, the characters are somewhat fragmented, and only Avery emerges as a fully rounded figure, giving Cooper the best role in the film as he becomes unable to work out what is right and wrong, even though he knows it in his gut.
Continue reading: The Place Beyond the Pines Review
Oscar hopeful Flight has it's long-awaited box office unveiling today (Feb 1) in the UK and if critical reception and US box office takings is enough to go by then Paramount shouldn't have too much to worry about when it comes to audience numbers.
The film's star, Denzel Washington, delivers yet another powerhouse of a performance that makes his entry into the Best Actor category at the Oscars totally justified as he takes on the role of a veteran commercial pilot who fills his days with women, alcohol and drugs. Supporting Denzel in the flick is Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood and Melissa Leo, as well as John Goodman who both delivers a scene-stealing performance - as he so often does.
Whilst Contact Music's own review of the film isn't wholeheartedly positive, the singling out of Denzel's performance is a mainstay among contemporary reviews, such as Rolling Stone and The Guardian, who single out the performance for being "detailed, depth-charged, bruisingly true" and maintaining Washington's "natural gravitas" respectively.
Continue reading: 'Flight' Expected To Take Off At UK Box Office This Weekend
With another deeply committed performance, Washington brings badly needed complexity to what is otherwise a contrived, overstated drama about addiction. It helps that the film is directed by Zemeckis as a kind of companion piece to his last live-action movie, 2000's Cast Away, another film about a man whose life is dramatically changed by a plane crash. Although here he's lost in a wilderness of substance abuse.
Washington plays Whip, a veteran commercial pilot who fills his days with women, alcohol and drugs. Even when he's flying a plane full of passengers. On a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta, a catastrophic malfunction sends his airliner hurtling toward the ground, prompting an outrageously inventive reaction that saves 96 of the 102 lives on board. Then the investigators discover that he had both alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time. His union rep (Greenwood) hires a high-powered lawyer (Cheadle) to represent him, but Whip doesn't even try to straighten up until he meets young junkie Nicole (Reilly), who's serious about cleaning up her life.
The main problem here is that Gatins' script completely misses the point of his own story, never remotely touching on the central theme of a flawed hero who has no real moral compass. So drugs are the villain; it has nothing to do with Whip's personal failings. Instead, the script just uses a variety of contrived characters to confront him with his drug problems until he finally cracks under all this pressure. Fortunately, Washington is excellent as the high-functioning addict, and the supporting cast is solid in providing whatever element Gatins needs at the moment: Cheadle's straight-arrow efficiency, Reilly's hopeful anguish and Greenwood's steadfast friendship, plus scene-stealer Goodman as Whip's hilariously honest dealer-buddy and Leo as a ruthlessly tenacious investigator.
Continue reading: Flight Review
Denzel Washington’s latest film, Flight, has garnered much praise already – and for all the right reasons too – with Washington already tipped for Oscar glory for his staring role.
The film itself, directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by John Gatins, tells the story of an airline pilot who saves a flight from crashing, however the post-flight investigation into the plane’s malfunctions reveals some worrying revelations. Washington stars as said pilot, Whip Whitaker, who on top of being a veteran of his trade is also a serious alcoholic. The film also stars Bruce Greenwood as the character Charlie Anderson.
Whilst still a newcomer to the box office, critics look as though they can’t get enough of Washington and his performance, and betting sites have already placed the double-Oscar winner among the top contenders to achieve Oscar glory at next years ceremony.
Continue reading: Denzel Washington Set for Oscar Success with ‘Flight’?
In 1979 Ohio, Joe (Courtney) is struggling with the fact that his mother has died in an accident. But it's summertime, so he and his pal Charles (Griffiths) decide to make a zombie movie with their friends (Lee, Basso and Mills).
Enlisting the help of their hot schoolmate Alice (Fanning), they are shooting a scene when they witness a train crash and some suspicious ensuing military mayhem. Suddenly the town is under the control of a harsh general (Emmerich), while Joe and his friends know a lot more than he thinks.
Continue reading: Super 8 Review
In the Oregon territory in 1845, three couples are travelling through the unmapped wilderness with their guide Meek (Greenwood), a woolly veteran with an endless stream of colourful stories. Emily (Williams) is more open-minded than her husband (Patton), the group's natural leader. The pregnant Glory (Henderson) is tending to both her husband (Huff) and their pre-teen son (Nelson). And young Thomas (Dano) is trying to assure his wife fearful Millie (Kazan). When they encounter an Indian (Rondeaux), everyone disagrees about whether or not to trust him.
Continue reading: Meek's Cutoff Review