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Steve Jobs Review

Extraordinary

Sidestepping arguments about accuracy, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle take an artistic, impressionistic approach to this biopic about the iconic Apple founder. Using a structure that would work perfectly on stage, the film tells his story through just three extended scenes. In the process, it reveals even more about human nature than it does about Steve Jobs or the tech business.

The first segment is set in 1984, as Steve (Michael Fassbender) is about to launch the game-changing Macintosh computer with cofounder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), marketing expert Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and developer Andy Hertsfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg). As he organises the launch event to within an inch of its life, he's interrupted by his ex-girlfriend Chrisann (Katherine Waterston), but Steve still refuses to accept that her 5-year-old daughter is his. He also has an important conversation with the Apple chairman John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) just before going on-stage. This same scenario is repeated two more times, at the 1988 launch of NeXT and at the 1998 launch of the iMac, tracing Steve's fierce business acumen, complex interaction with his colleagues, and his evolving connection with his daughter.

Fassbender bravely never hedges his bets as Jobs, finding a tricky balance in an innovator who changed the world but never quite made sense of his personal or professional relationships. This is a man who is likeable and cruel at the same time, eliciting both laughter and gasps of horror from the audience. Fassbender's kinetic energy is hugely engaging, matched cleverly by Winslet's Hoffman, the only person with whom Jobs speaks about his own flaws. With both Rogen's generous Wozniak and Stuhlbarg's determined Hertzfeld, Jobs is much more dismissive, although there's respect under the surface. And its the literate banter with Daniels' thoughtful Sculley that gives the film its brainy kick, especially as it's so inventively written and directed to weave conversations right into flashbacks.

Continue reading: Steve Jobs Review

Selma Review


Essential

One of the finest biopics in recent memory, this drama manages to present someone as iconic as Martin Luther King Jr. as a normal man anyone can aspire to emulate. Anchored by an internalised performance from David Oyelowo, the film is skilfully directed by Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere) with a sharp attention to subtle details. And the script by newcomer Paul Webb draws the characters with such complexity that the film has provoked controversy from people who like their heroes untextured.

The film enters Martin's story as he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside his activist wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo) in October 1964, just over a year after his soaring "I have a dream" speech. And a few months later, he's called to Selma, Alabama, to help blacks who are being denied the right to vote by racially motivated voter registration laws. Martin meets with President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), who has more pressing things on his political agenda, then heads to Selma to lead a march on the state capitol in Montgomery. But the peaceful protest is met with nightmarish violence, ordered by Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth). So as the protesters regroup and plan a second march, Martin heads back to Washington to challenge Johnson to set some new priorities.

Cleverly, the script just covers a few months, punctuated with a series of King's most rousing speeches. Since none of this is presented for its big inspirational value, it has a much stronger kick than we expect. The film's punchiest scenes are almost silent, as King struggles to knot his tie before an appearance or fails to find the words to confess his infidelities to his wife. Oyelowo is so transparent in the role that King emerges as an everyday man with a gift for oratory in the right place at the right time. But it's his steely desire to do the right thing that makes him inspirational. And how he reacts when he discovers the human cost of his actions.

Continue reading: Selma Review

Trance Review


Very Good

Danny Boyle is obviously having a ball with this thriller, deploying every cinematic trick he can think of to throw the audience off the track. But sometimes too much of a good thing is annoying. And while this film holds our interest, it also reveals early on that we simply can't trust anything we see on-screen. So while it's expertly shot and edited, and the actors make the most of their shifty characters, it's not easy to just sit back and enjoy the show.

McAvoy stars as Simon, an auctioneer presiding over the sale of a £30 million Goya painting, which promptly goes missing after an elaborate heist. Simon suffers a head injury in the assault, and can't remember anything, which is a problem when it turns out that he was working with criminal mastermind Franck (Cassel). Now Franck and his goons (Sapani, Cross and Sheikh) want to know where the painting is, so they enlist hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Dawson) to help Simon recover his memory using a series of unconventional methods. But she wants her share of the cash. 

Yes, the further they travel into Simon's mind, the stranger things get. McAvoy has little to do here but look dazed in between moments of lucidity that generally spark something horribly violent. Opposite his understated performance, Cassel can hardly help but be a lot flashier as a menacing charmer. And Dawson has a fierce presence as a woman who quickly takes control of every situation she's in. Although Dawson also has to contend with a couple of leery nude scenes that go further than what was strictly necessary.

Continue reading: Trance Review

Christian Colson - Saturday 22nd January 2011 at Beverly Hilton Hotel Los Angeles, California

Christian Colson

127 Hours Review


Essential
Danny Boyle brings his considerable filmmaking energy to bear on this claustrophobic true story, and the result is a bracing thriller that puts us right into the mind of a man trapped in an unthinkable situation.

In April 2003, adventure sportsman Aron Ralston (Franco) heads into Utah's Blue John Canyon for a day of hiking. He meets two girls (Mara and Tamblyn) along the way, and stops to show them a cool underwater lake. Then he heads on his own into a narrow slit in the earth where a bolder falls and pins his right arm against the wall. Unable to move, he spends the next five days pondering for the first time his own humanity and mortality. And after trying everything imaginable, he only has one option left.

Continue reading: 127 Hours Review

Centurion Review


Very Good
With a raucous, gruesome tone, this Roman-era British action movie takes us back in time in such a vivid way that we often feel a bit queasy while watching. If the story were stronger, we'd be glued to the screen.

Quintus Dias (Fassbender) seems to be an unusually lucky centurion. Stationed in the nastiest outpost on the edge of the Roman Empire in Britain, he's the only survivor of a Pict attack by the vindictive Gorlacon (Thomsen). So he teams with General Virilus (West) and heads back into the hot zone. Again, the Picts launch a devastating attack. This time seven Romans survive, and it becomes a cat-and-mouse chase as mute huntress Etain (Kurylenko) tenaciously tracks Quintus and company across the Highlands. Can they make it back to safety in the south?

Continue reading: Centurion Review

The Scouting Book For Boys Review


Very Good
Increasingly dark and involving, this British drama tells a gripping story through the eyes of an intriguing teen. Not only is he brilliantly performed by Turgoose, but the filmmakers have important things to say without ever preaching.

David (Turgoose) is the mid-teen son of a Norfolk caravan park performer (Maudsley). To survive the boredom, he bonds perhaps too tightly with Emily (Grainger), daughter of the site's shop clerk (Lynch). As they dash across caravan roofs and hang out with security guard Steve (Spall), their life is pretty happy. But Emily's when mother decides to send her to live with her father (Sidi), David helps her hide in a seaside cave. Tension builds when a police detective (Mackintosh) starts investigating. And it gets worse when a secret is revealed.

Continue reading: The Scouting Book For Boys Review

The Descent: Part 2 Review


Good
By the end of 2005's The Descent, it's hard to imagine where you could possibly go from there. But the writers of this sequel tenaciously contrive to get us back underground for more scary darkness and gratuitous grisliness.

After surviving the horrific encounter with a underground society of blind, naked carnivorous mutants, Sarah (Macdonald) is left dazed and amnesiac. But Appalachian sheriff Vaines (O'Herlihy) talks her into heading back into the cave to see if her friends are alive, taking his deputy Rios (Cummings) as well as a professional rescue team (Dallas, Skellern and Hodge). The question is whether they'll find survivors, and how long it'll take for them to become mutant food.

Continue reading: The Descent: Part 2 Review

Slumdog Millionaire Review


Weak
Slumdog Millionaire, which is based on the novel Q&A by Indian diplomat/novelist Vikas Swarup, could very well be the closest thing genre-hopping director Danny Boyle ever makes to a crowd-pleaser. It won the coveted Audience Award at this year's Toronto Film Festival and comes pre-packaged with glowing reviews from both Roger Ebert and Variety's Todd McCarthy. Written by the English screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, who many may know as the scribe behind The Full Monty, Boyle has blended this romantic fable with his own, frenetic style and some nods towards a Bollywood aesthetic in order to create the Scottish filmmaker's most accessible work to date.

On the other hand, few of Boyle's images are as instantly tasteless yet characteristic as a young Indian boy jumping into a swamp of feces in order to secure an autograph from Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan. The boy running around covered in excrement, some of which is his own, is young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar). Moments after that presentation, Jamal and his older brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) become orphaned when their mother is murdered for being a Muslim. The two boys take up with another young orphan Latika (Rubina Ali) and join up under Maman, the Fagin of this revisionist Oliver Twist. Salim saves Jamal from being blinded by Maman and the duo make off in the night, leaving Latika to fend for herself.

Continue reading: Slumdog Millionaire Review

The Descent Review


Excellent
A huge hit last summer in its native Britain, writer/director Neil Marshall's The Descent finally hits the States with a compelling mix of action and horror. Not since Aliens have the two genres fit so seamlessly, if on a much smaller scale here. Marshall throws in a few twists on convention as well, just to keep things fresh. The result is a film that gives back some meaning to the otherwise overused "thrill ride."

The film begins with extreme sports enthusiast Sarah (Shauna Macdonald, whom you'll spend most of the film convincing yourself isn't Gwyneth Paltrow) undergoing a horrible accident. Her flashbacks to the event (not to mention the event itself) provide much of the startle factor for the first third of the film, probably the cheapest ploy Marshall uses, but he has much more up his sleeve.

Continue reading: The Descent Review

The Descent Review


Excellent
A huge hit last summer in its native Britain, writer/director Neil Marshall's The Descent finally hits the States with a compelling mix of action and horror. Not since Aliens have the two genres fit so seamlessly, if on a much smaller scale here. Marshall throws in a few twists on convention as well, just to keep things fresh. The result is a film that gives back some meaning to the otherwise overused "thrill ride."

The film begins with extreme sports enthusiast Sarah (Shauna Macdonald, whom you'll spend most of the film convincing yourself isn't Gwyneth Paltrow) undergoing a horrible accident. Her flashbacks to the event (not to mention the event itself) provide much of the startle factor for the first third of the film, probably the cheapest ploy Marshall uses, but he has much more up his sleeve.

Continue reading: The Descent Review

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Steve Jobs Movie Review

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Sidestepping arguments about accuracy, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle take an artistic, impressionistic...

Selma Movie Review

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One of the finest biopics in recent memory, this drama manages to present someone as...

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Slumdog Millionaire, which is based on the novel Q&A by Indian diplomat/novelist Vikas Swarup, could...

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