First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on a true story, he avoids the usual cliches and formulas, which makes it an unusually thoughtful film. On the other hand, this means that it lacks the excitement we expect as events spiral into some extremely stressful situations. Instead, the film relies on underlying tension, strong thematic resonance and another committed performance from Daniel Radcliffe.
Radcliffe plays Nate, an FBI agent who is a bit of a loner, teased by his colleagues for his nerdy lifestyle. But this is what his superior Angela (Toni Collette) notices about him, and she thinks he'd be perfect for an undercover assignment infiltrating a neo-Nazi group that might be planning a horrific terrorist bombing. So Nate shaves his head and studies up on the white supremacist cause, befriending a racist skinhead (Seth Numrich) and his trigger-happy pals, then meeting their leaders Gerry and Andrew (Sam Trammell and Chris Sullivan). Nate's main target is the underground radio broadcaster Dallas (Tracy Letts), who is stirring up his listeners by channelling bigotry into conspiracy theories. Is he the one planning to explode a dirty bomb somewhere in Washington DC?
The film has a dark, gritty tone that remains internalised all the way through, focussing on Nate's perilous job: if he betrays his true feelings about these reprehensible white-power ideals, it's more than likely that these men will kill him. Radcliffe is excellent in the role, quietly convincing these thugs that he's committed to the cause while still maintaining his friendly, helpful personality. Since there are no women in the movement, it's great to have Collette in such a pivotal, powerful role. Angela is a feisty blast of energy in the film. And Letts is also remarkable as a man whose complexity deepens the more we get to know him. In many ways he's the true villain of the piece, encouraging hatred among his vulnerable audience.
Continue reading: Imperium Review
Gifted Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) makes an odd misstep with this overwrought gothic horror thriller, which is so bloated that it's more silly than scary. At least it features a starry cast that has a lot of fun with the characters, providing some emotional undercurrents as things get increasingly crazed. But the truth about this film is that it's a haunted house movie with ghosts that aren't remotely frightening. And worse yet, they're essentially irrelevant to the story.
It's set in late-1800s Buffalo, as young aspiring writer Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is unsure about the romantic advances of her childhood friend Alan (Charlie Hunnam), who is now a hunky doctor. But he fades into the background when the dashing Sir Thomas (Tom Hiddlestone) arrives from England seeking funding from Edith's father (Jim Beaver) for a machine to mine valuable clay from his crumbling ancestral home. As he sweeps Edith off her feet, Thomas' sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) enters the picture with a clearly nefarious plan of her own. Sure enough, Thomas whisks Edith off to get married and return to the family mansion, a freaky towering wreck that oozes red clay. Or that might be blood. And since Edith has a history of seeing ghosts, the house feels particularly crowded to her.
The spirits are rendered as stretched-out skeletons surrounded by spidery wisps. And in England they're of course blood-red. Oddly, they merely seem to be observers to this story, never actually doing much proper menacing. And since they look faintly ridiculous it isn't easy to muster up the dread required to make this work as a horror movie. Everything else on-screen is just as absurd. The mansion looks more like an elaborately dilapidated over-sized movie set than a neglected manor house. Thankfully, Del Toro packs every scene with witty details and a lurid colour scheme that keeps the audience on its toes.
Continue reading: Crimson Peak Review
In the 19th Century in Cumbria, England, an old house stood overlooking a tremendous stretch of land. That house was Crimson Peak, inhabited by Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). When author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) marries the handsome and quite Thomas Sharpe, she moves to Crimson Peak to live with the siblings. However, upon arrival, strange thing begin to occur. Mysterious visions and terrifying objects begin to emerge, showing that the house is not as it appears. As Cushing struggles to get to the bottom of the house's dark history, the secrets of the family steadily begin to unveil themselves to her.
Continue: Crimson Peak Trailer
Exploring a year in the life of Jimi Hendrix just before he hit the public consciousness is a fascinating idea, but this biopic misses every opportunity to say something interesting. The filmmakers certainly invest this movie with plenty of stylish period detail trying to make up for the fact that they didn't secure the rights to use Hendrix's music. With a better sense of character or story, they might have got away with it. But this movie feels all wrong.
It opens in 1966, when Jimi (Andre Benjamin) is quietly working in a New York bar as a member of Curtis Knight and the Squires. One evening, he's spotted by Linda (Imogen Poots), Keith Richards' girlfriend, who thinks he should be a star. Linking him with manager Chas (Andrew Buckley), a former member of the Animals, Linda takes Jimi to London to record an album and build his reputation. Over the next year, Jimi hones his sound, puts together his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience and hooks up with local girl Kathy (Hayley Atwell). And it starts to work: the band breaks into the UK pop charts with a series of hit singles. On the other hand, across the Atlantic the Americans seem to be rather apathetic. And the organisers of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival hesitate before inviting him to perform.
The rest is history. And it's not in this film. But then the story here centres on Hendrix's pre-fame year, which allows writer-turned-director John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) to dig further into the artist's motivations than most biopics do. Hendrix's stroke of genius was to fuse rock instruments with the blues, creating all new sounds with his guitar. But then these aren't in the film either. Instead there are just sound-alike tunes, plus one audacious performance on a London stage: singing Sgt Pepper just after it was released, with the Beatles in the audience. Whether it actually happened like this is anyone's guess; like much of the film, this scene feels mythical.
Continue reading: Jimi: All Is By My Side Review
There's nothing wrong with this bright and goofy family comedy, but there's nothing much to it either. As a bit of mindless entertainment, the film is smart and funny enough to keep audiences entertained, spinning a swirling vortex of bad luck and wacky slapstick around one lively family. But it's utterly weightless, without even a hint of an edge, and anyone who loathes either nutty physical gags or sappy sentimentality should steer well clear.
Everyone in the audience can understand how Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) feels: he's fed up with the fact that no one notices that his life is just one humiliation after another, so on his 12th birthday he wishes that his family would have a taste of his misfortune. Sure enough, everything that can go wrong does. Dad Ben (Steve Carell) has to take the baby with him to an important job interview; mom Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has a work event go horribly wrong; teen brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) struggles to make prom night special for his demanding-diva girlfriend (Bella Thorne); and middle sister Emile (Kerris Dorsey) gets ill on opening night of the school play she's starring in. On the other hand, Alexander's day isn't so bad, as he finally catches the eye of cute girl Becky (Sidney Fullmer).
The plot is laid out as a series of minor calamities that escalate to crazed proportions as the day goes on, but only until the screenwriter decides to have mercy on the characters and let them bond to face the mayhem. Frankly, this is such a wildly happy family that nothing about the film is believable: their problems exist strictly for laughs. Thankful, most of the set pieces are genuinely funny due to the up-for-it actors, who make the most of their characters and the connections between them. There's also a terrific stream of cameo roles for comedy aces like Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie) and Donald Glover (Parks and Recreation). Dick Van Dyke even makes a witty appearance as himself.
Continue reading: Alexander And The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day Review
Jimi Hendrix started earning money from his musical career as a simple backing guitarist at the Cheetah Club in New York City. Soon enough though, he was brought to England by former Animals member Chas Chandler where within a year he blew up into the legend that everyone sees today; the man who spectacularly set his guitar alight on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival. Within that year he began dating Kathy Etchingham, who stuck by him throughout his rise to fame despite the immense pressure it put on their relationship as he struggled to make it as the world's greatest guitarist. His journey was tough for everyone around him, but unbeknownst to him, it was only going to get tougher as he decided to break America too.
Continue: Jimi: All Is By My Side Trailer
Andre 3000 stars in 'All Is By My Side', the soon-to-be-released biopic of Jimi Hendrix. The trailer has been released today ahead of the film's release in the UK in August.
Jimi Hendrix photographed in 1967.
Hendrix became a rock icon in the 1970s but his life was tragically cut sort in 1970 when he died at the age of 27. The cause of death cited as a lethal concoction of prescription medication which led to asphyxia, causing Hendrix to choke on his own vomit. The film has been long anticipated as Hendrix's story truly epitomises the astronomic rise and tragic demise of a hugely popular and influential figure.
Continue reading: See Andre 3000 As Jimi Hendrix In 'All Is By My Side' [Trailer]
The best thing about this massive blockbuster is the way it updates the classic Japanese monster movie to the 21st century, with a first-rate cast and staggeringly good effects. Sadly, the script isn't up to scratch, throwing in enjoyable comedy and corny melodrama while maintaining such a formulaic structure that there isn't a single moment of actual suspense. We never doubt for a second how all of this is going to end or who will survive.
It all begins in the present day, as gigantic creatures called kaiju appear through a temporal rift in the Pacific Ocean floor near Hong Kong. They start attacking cities (inexplicably starting with San Francisco), and humanity takes years to fight back, building massive robots called jaegers that are piloted by two-man teams. Over even more years of fighting, the monsters learn how to stop the jaegers, so military leader Pentecost (Elba) assembles his best jaeger pilots in Hong Kong, including the haunted Becket (Hunnam) and father-son Aussie duo Herc and Chuck (Martini and Kazinsky). And as they plan their assault, the scientist Newt (Day) makes a startling discovery about the kaiju.
Most of the film is played as a massively over-serious action movie in which manly, muscly heroes set out to save the planet. The relational melodrama always feels like a distraction, including Pentecost's assistant (Kikuchi), who wants to be a pilot and carries a torch for Becket. There's also a dose of bromance as Newt tries to loosen up his so-British sidekick (Gorman). And to help spice things up, we also get some comic relief from Perlman, who is hilarious as a swaggering black-market dealer. None of these characters is very complicated, but the gifted actors all do what they can with the roles.
Continue reading: Pacific Rim Review
After a disastrous mission in Mozambique, disgraced spy Johnny English (Atkinson) joined a Himalayan monastery. But MI7 boss Pegasus (Anderson) calls him back into service, and soon he stumbles into a nefarious plan to assassinate China's prime minister. But he's also of course causing havoc. Now the lead suspect, only the agency's sexy shrink Kate (Pike) and his sidekick Tucker (Kaluuya) still have faith in him. And as the murderous plot unfurls at a mountain-top Swiss hideaway, English makes a daring attempt to save the world and clear his name.
Continue reading: Johnny English Reborn Review
Daniel Craig is credited as "XXXX" (oh, if only he were the new "XXX"), a "businessman," as he puts it, whose name we never learn. His business just happens to be cocaine. He plays by a strict set of rules - pay connections on time; keep a low profile, etc. And, like every other lowlife with whom we're supposed to sympathize in a gangster film, he's just about to retire. Until his boss, Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) throws him two curveballs that shoot his plans all to hell.
Continue reading: Layer Cake Review
The actor says he isn't "holding out for more money or doing anything like that".
The drama will be making its return to the streaming service in the near future.
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