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The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923. Turkey has long denied that this took place, so the filmmakers take a rather soft approach to the story, setting out a romantic plotline with the genocide as a backdrop. So the resulting drama is somewhat uneven, but the events are so powerful that the film can't be ignored.
It opens in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire is collapsing. Mikael (Oscar Isaac) is a young Armenian studying medicine in Constantinople with a promised fiancee Maral (Angela Sarafyan) back home. Even so, he falls for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), who shares his rural Armenian background. But she has a boyfriend, Chris (Christian Bale), who is investigating rumours of war as the Germans arrive to help the Turkish government round up its ethnic minorities. Mikael is soon arrested, but escapes from the work camp to return to his parents (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Kevork Malikyan) and Maral. Meanwhile, Chris and Ana are trying to report the story of what's really happening, and Mikael joins them to help a group of orphan refugees.
Yes, this is a sweeping epic in which there's a lot going on, and it's filmed on a lavish scale. The characters' lives continually intersect throughout the story, and the intensity of the wartime atrocities is seriously powerful. On the other hand, this makes the four-sided romance feel like a melodramatic distraction. The actors are solid, but the earnest tone undermines any real emotional edge. Isaac is sincere and decent, Le Bon is strong and wilful, Bale is solid and cynical, and Sarafyan is lost in the shuffle. Aghdashloo, as always, provides wrenching support.
Continue reading: The Promise Review
Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943 Prague to assassinate a top Nazi official. Certainly the material is perfect for a big-screen thriller, and filmmaker Sean Ellis (Metro Manila) has filmed it with a documentary-style urgency that's edgy and exciting. He also has a sharp attention to detail, so the film is bracingly realistic, carrying a strong emotional kick in the final act.
In 1938, Western Europe's leaders handed Czechoslovakia over to Hitler when he promised not to start a war. But of course he invaded Poland the following year. So in 1941, the British military parachutes a team of Czech exiles back into their country to help the resistance. Two of these men, Jan and Josef (Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy), are on a secret mission to kill Reinhard Heydrich, the third in Nazi command after Hitler and Himmler. Known as the Butcher of Prague for his ruthless methods, it was Heydrich who devised the plan to exterminate the Jews. The resistance leader (Toby Jones) offers assistance for this mission, while two young women (Charlotte Le Bon and Anna Geislerova) pose as Jan and Josef's girlfriends. But with heavy security around Heydrich, carrying this off is not going to be easy.
Ellis impressively manages to tell this story without present-day hindsight, seeing all sides of the situation from the perspective of the people involved. In other words, it's not just a matter of killing a historical villain: everyone knows that the repercussions of such an act would be horrific as the Nazis exacted brutal revenge. But they also knew that, within this small window of time, they had a chance to deliver a serious blow to the enemy. Ellis structures this carefully, building up to the assassination in a way that develops almost unbearable levels of suspense. The complexity of each scene is remarkable, and the film's final act is a stunning explosion of desperate violence.
Continue reading: Anthropoid 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
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
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
Idris Elba looks good topless. He certainly knows it and he wants to make sure everybody else does too!
Idris Elba has been in serious training for his upcoming role in the film Bastille Day and he's been sharing his work out with his fans on Instagram. He just happens to be topless too.
Idris Elba at the Global Citizens Awards in New York in September 2014.
A relentlessly smiley-glowy tone threatens to undo this film at every turn, but it's just about rescued by a spiky script and the adept cast. Director Lasse Hallstrom has been indulging in warm-fuzzy filmmaking since 2000's Chocolat, and this story (based on the Richard Morais book) seems set in the same fanciful, far too-cute France, created with digital effects rather than cinematography. Nothing is remotely realistic, but the characters are engaging and the food looks absolutely delicious. This is definitely not a film to see on an empty stomach.
The central character is Hassan (90210's Manish Dayal), who was born in India and developed his prodigious gift as a chef with his late mother. Now refugees in Europe, Hassan's Papa (Om Puri) is on a quest to establish a restaurant with his five children. They settle on an impossibly quaint French village, and set up their Indian eatery just across the road from the Michelin-starred restaurant run by the imperious Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who of course immediately declares war on these interlopers. Meanwhile, Hassan begins exploring French cookery with Mallory's sexy sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). And his innate expertise catches Mallory's attention.
This simple twist helps propel the story and draw us in, as Hassan proves that he can teach Mallory a thing or two. Where this goes is played out in a simplistic way, but for audience members who are looking for meaning there's quite a bit of insight scattered around the script. Otherwise, Hallstrom is far more interested in superficial imagery, never quite letting the actors dig deep into their characters. Dayal shows some real texture as Hassan, but is reduced in the editing to merely smiling or frowning to show the character's frame of mind. And his relationship with Le Bon's impossibly perky Marguerite is almost painfully predictable.
Continue reading: The Hundred-Foot Journey Review
After a string of projects in America (including the masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), French filmmaker Michel Gondry returns home to let his manic imagination run wild. This film is a riot of movement, as the sets themselves seem to be alive, packing every moment of the film with visual absurdity, witty gags, colourful characters and soulful music. And while the mayhem is sometimes a bit overwhelming, the story's romantic moods resonate deeply, turning a silly movie into something surprisingly moving.
It's based on Boris Vian's 1947 novel L'Ecume des Jours, which has been adapted into two previous films and a Russian opera. In Paris, Colin (Romain Duris) is an independently wealthy bachelor whose friend Nicolas (Omar Sy) cooks and cleans and keeps music echoing around his chaotic flat. But when Nicolas admits that he's falling for their friend Isis (Charlotte Le Bon), and Colin's best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh) announces that he has a new girlfriend Alise (Aissa Maiga), Colin decides maybe he should find a woman himself. Then he meets Chloe (Audrey Tautou), and the spark between them is instant. But just as they get married, Chloe becomes ill when a tiny waterlily takes root in her lung, and the only treatment is to encircle her with flowers.
As Chloe's condition deteriorates, so does the state of Colin's entire apartment, and eventually the colour begins to drain from all of Paris as well, while friendships are strained by the possibility of death. It's a startling on-screen transformation, as Gondry keeps everything in motion, using any kind of visual trickery imaginable, mainly effects that take place right on the film set, like puppetry and stop-motion. The zaniness continues in the background even after the characters' stories steal focus from them. Yes, the cast members are so strong that they manage to rise above the chaos. As always, Duris brings real charm to the whole film, generating sparky chemistry with everyone around him, and his chemistry with Tautou is seriously sweet.
Continue reading: Mood Indigo Review
Talking about upcoming restaurent drama 'The Hundred Foot Journey', producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, director Lasse Hallstrom and star Helen Mirren reveal their thoughts in a short featurette.
'This really is a story about the fusion between two opposite cultures', says Steven, with Oprah explaining of the film's plot: 'The icy Madame Mallory, the owner of the very proper Michelin-starred French restaurent, doesn't allow for any kind of competition whatsoever.' Helen reveals that within the clashing of two food cultures 'it's a feud that becomes a war - and no holds barred actually'.
The Hundred Foot Journey is a drama directed by Lasse Hallström (Dear John/Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and written by Steven Knight.
Based on the novel of the same name by Richard C. Morals, The Hundred-Foot Journey sees an Indian family start a new life in France, where they intend to open a family business in the form of a restaurant, however the top restaurant in the south of France is opposite the restaurant the family buy, owned by the fiercely competitive Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). This gives the family little chance of being successful, yet they persist with it exposing the French to food they won't have tasted before. When Mallory becomes aware of this, she bitterly attempts to slow down business for their restaurant, i.e. by making snide remarks about the restaurant to her customers. Over time though, the two restaurants become friends, with Mallory even offering Hassan (Manish Dayal) of the Indian family, a job at her restaurant. But how will his father (Om Puri) feel about this?
The film came about when producer Oprah Winfrey became a fan of the script, and encouraged Steven Spielberg to make an adaptation of the novel, who she knew from working with on The Color Purple. Spielberg searched for a director he thought would be good for the role and so he found Hallström, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his adaptation of The Cider House Rules, by John Irving.
Date of birth
4th September, 1986
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The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...
Michael is a promisingstudent living in Armenia during the Ottoman Turkish Empire, who agrees to...
Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...
Reinhard Heydrich was one of the fiercest anti-Semitic officers in the Nazi army. He authored...
An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...
Paris is known to have problems with pickpockets and Michael Mason is one of the...
After the Oscar-winning 2008 documentary Man on Wire told this story with such energy and...
Philippe Petit is a young French high-wire artist, passionate about his tightrope dream and determined...
On 7th August, 1974, one man chose to walk a high-wire between the two buildings...
French artist Philippe Petit made history in 1974 for his death-defying high-wire feat in New...
A relentlessly smiley-glowy tone threatens to undo this film at every turn, but it's just...
After a string of projects in America (including the masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless...
Talking about upcoming restaurent drama 'The Hundred Foot Journey', producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey,...