American Pastoral is based on Philip Roth's 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning novel which follows the life and Seymour Levov and his observations on his fellow man and the inevitable fake veneer many of us build to masquerade their real personalities.
Seymour Irving Levov has always lived a quiet life, he takes over his family business and marries a woman he loves very much. They have a large house and live a very comfortable life. They have a beautiful daughter called Meredith and up until her teenage years, Merry is much like any other kids but there's a turning point.
Various social influences - in particular the war - make a huge impact on Merry's life and she soon becomes an extremist, after growing more and more weary of her voice not being heard, Merry plants a bomb in a local post office and she becomes a wanted person.
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A badly under-developed script leaves a fine cast without much to do in this sequel to the 2012 hit. Reuniting in India, the actors find moments of comedy and emotion that help make the film watchable, and the big Bollywood-style finale leaves the audience with a smile on its face. But the simplistic plot-threads never amount to much at all, which leaves the project feeling like a missed opportunity to deepen the characters and push the premise in more interesting directions.
Business at the hotel in Jaipur is booming, so managers Sonny (Dev Patel) and Muriel (Maggie Smith) are looking for investors to expand into a second property. But this distracts Sonny from his upcoming wedding to Sunaina (Tena Desae), and she's not too happy about that. There are also two new guests (Richard Gere and Tamsin Grieg) who may be important. Meanwhile, Evelyn (Judi Dench) is offered a new job just as she realises she might like to pursue a relationship with Douglas (Bill Nighy), whose ex-wife (Penelope Wilton) turns up unexpectedly. Madge (Celia Imrie) is struggling to choose between her many suitors. And Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are having relationship issues due to their lack of communication.
All of these momentous plots, and a few more, swirl around over the course of about a week, which means that none ever has a chance to develop. It also means that the characters are all so busy with their own stories that they don't interact very much, and what contact they do have feels rather contrived. As a result, the film feels like an awkward mix of disconnected slapstick, farce and melodrama. That said, these high-powered actors can hold together even the flimsiest scene. Dench and Nighy generate some lovely emotional resonance in their contrived storyline, while Smith finds some quiet pathos in Muriel's own journey, even if the filmmakers seem to have forgotten to hire someone to do her costumes, hair and make-up.
Continue reading: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review
Set eight months after the 2012 original film, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees the majority of the cast return India for this sequel from director John Madden. In the run up to Sonny's (Dev Patel) wedding to Sunaina (Tena Desae), he is struggling to find the time to work at his hotel. With only one room left in the hotel, Sonny is confronted with an interesting situation when two new arrivals turn up - Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). With help from Murial (Maggie Smith) acting as the co-manager, will Sonny will be able to juggle his personal and working lives?
For a blockbuster about gigantic radioactive monsters, this is a remarkably humane movie. But then that's no surprise for a film from Gareth Edwards, whose micro-budget Monsters (2010) showed that effects-based movies don't need to sacrifice characterisation and real emotion. So while this film is still a big action romp, it's also cleverly grounded by believable people.
It centres on Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), whose life was upended in 1999 by a nuclear accident in Japan that killed his scientist mother (Juliette Binoche) and turned his father into a conspiracy-theory nutcase. Now just as Ford returns from military service to his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and young son, he's called back to Japan as his dad spots tremors similar to those 15 years earlier. And as three terrifying creatures rise out of the earth, Ford is drafted in to help protect humanity. Following the beasts via Hawaii and Las Vegas to an epic confrontation in his hometown San Francisco, Ford works with scientists (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins) and military commanders (David Strathairn and Richard T. Jones), eventually realising that the big-daddy monster Godzilla might actually be trying to help.
One of the more interesting aspects of Max Borenstein's script is that it reveals fairly early on that humanity is responsible for all of this and also helpless to avert the coming cataclysm. And yet the military machine does what it can, firing pathetic bullets and mobilising nuclear warheads because that's all it knows how to do. This approach adds a moral complexity that plays out in the decisions the characters have to make along the way. Taylor-Johnson is fine as the bland but muscled everyman at the centre, but Cranston steals the film with a far more textured role. Watanabe proves to be a master at the distant stare, while everyone else just runs and/or yells like real people would.
Continue reading: Godzilla Review
Joe Brody and his wife Sandra are working at a nuclear power plant when disaster strikes. The building collapses, forcing an immediate evacuation of employees due to a radiation leak - but when Sandra doesn't make it out, Joe decides to find out what caused the tragedy. When the government inform the media of a severe natural disaster, he is angered because he knows they are harbouring a dangerous secret. When a series of other calamities, such as a devastating tidal wave, hits New York City, it becomes almost impossible to hide the fact that there's a giant reptilian creature hellbent on destruction heading towards the city; a monster later dubbed Godzilla. The US military set out on a mission to save the world along with a surge of new recruits, but their chances of surviving at the hands of this merciless beast are looking horrifically minimal.
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Following a series of disastrous calamities in New York, the government are desperately trying to cover up the cause by insisting that major earthquakes and typhoons are to blame for the demolished city. However, it soon becomes clear to everyone that the damage was caused by a less than natural threat, as a colossal reptilian beast makes itself known to the world; a creature the media has dubbed 'Godzilla'. The US military set out to face the threat in the most dangerous mission of their lives as the origins of Godzilla become known. It is mankind's own destructive nature that has brought this menace to Earth, a fact that is concluded when evidence of Nuclear material is found amongst the wildlife of the Pacific. Can mankind save themselves and rectify their own mistakes? Or are they about to make things a helluva lot worse?
'Godzilla' is the epic re-boot of one of the most iconic sci-fi films ever released. Originally a 1954 Japanese film directed by Ishiro Honda, 'Godzilla' was later adapted into a 1998 motion picture by Roland Emmerich. The 2014 incarnation has been directed by Gareth Edwards ('Monsters', 'End Day') with a screenplay by Max Borenstein ('Seventh Son', 'Swordswallowers and Thin Men') and Dave Callaham ('The Expendables', 'Doom'). The film will hit theaters on May 16th 2014.
While the government go about trying to pass off a series of catastrophic events as natural disasters, the US military are forced to take to Manhattan to rescue New York's ravaged city from a gargantuan menace intent on destroying the world. It is soon discovered that mankind's own irresponsible desire for weaponry and destruction has brought the threat upon them, after evidence of Nuclear chemicals are found around the Pacific. It becomes clear that these radioactive materials have had a genetic impact on the local wildlife, so when an enormous, malformed, reptilian monster dubbed Godzilla takes to the city, armed forces scarcely have a chance at defending their people. Does the human race have the strength and intelligence to survive their biggest threat yet? Or will their past mistakes bring about the apocalypse?
The brand new re-boot of the world's most iconic monster film 'Godzilla' serves as the second Hollywood version since it was first adapted by Roland Emmerich in 1998 from the 1954 Japanese film directed by Ishiro Honda. 'Godzilla' 2014 has been directed by Gareth Edwards ('Monsters', 'End Day') and written by Max Borenstein ('Seventh Son', 'Swordswallowers and Thin Men') and Dave Callaham ('The Expendables', 'Doom'), with an expected release date of May 16th 2014.
US troops are sent in to Manhattan via HALO jumping to save the ravaged city from a monstrous threat that appears to have been caused by mankind's own reckless nature lust for destruction. Nuclear chemicals have caused significant radioactive damage to the genetics of some animals and wildlife, and New York finds itself under attack from an enormous, malformed, reptilian beast that the media subsequently dubs as Godzilla. The creature seems almost unstoppable as it easily wipes out the helplessly floundering human beings around it who never thought their scientific research could backfire so apocalyptically. Can it be stopped by human endeavour? And, more importantly, will it be a lesson learned for modern day human beings?
The world's most iconic and recognisable monster returns in 'Godzilla', the second Hollywood incarnation of the creature after Roland Emmerich's 1998 film and based on the 1954 Japanese film of the same name directed by Ishiro Honda. This time, it has been directed by Primetime Emmy nominated Gareth Edwards ('Monsters', 'End Day') and written by Max Borenstein ('Seventh Son', 'Swordswallowers and Thin Men') and Dave Callaham ('The Expendables', 'Doom'). The 'Godzilla' re-boot is set to come crashing into UK cinemas on May 16th 2014.
A historic epic from Steven Spielberg carries a lot of baggage, but he surprises us with a remarkably contained approach to an iconic figure. What's most unexpected is that this is a political drama, not a biopic. It's a long, talky movie about back-room deal-making on a very big issue: ending slavery in America. It also has one of the most intelligent, artful scripts of the past year, plus a remarkably wry central performance.
Daniel Day-Lewis constantly grounds Abraham Lincoln in his earthy humanity, good humour and tenacious desire to do the right thing, no matter what it takes. The film essentially covers just one month in which Lincoln works to outlaw slavery before ending four years of civil war. Secretary of State Seward (Strathairn) reluctantly supports this plan, enlisting three shady negotiators (Spader, Nelson and Hawkes) to convince wavering members of Congress to vote in favour of a constitutional amendment. Meanwhile at home, Lincoln is under pressure from his wife Mary (Field) to keep their oldest son Robert (Gordon-Levitt) off the battlefield.
All of this political wrangling makes the film feel like a 19th century version of The West Wing, and Kushner's script crackles with wit, nuance and passion, clearly echoing today's political debates about issues like gun control and human rights. We find ourselves wishing that our own politicians were this creative about getting the votes they need on important issues. This meaty approach gives the cast terrific dialog to bite into, although Spielberg never lets anyone run riot with scenery-chomping antics. The closest is probably Jones, as the fiery anti-slavery supporter Thaddeus Stevens. He's terrific in this role. And Field shines too in as the spiky Mary. Even if she's about a decade too old for the character, she brings intelligence and emotion to every scene.
Continue reading: Lincoln Review
Dan Stevens, Jessica Chastain, David Strathairn and Judith Ivey - Dan Stevens, Jessica Chastain, David Strathairn and Judith Ivey Thursday 1st November 2012 on stage during the Broadway opening night curtain call for The Heiress at the Walter Kerr Theatre
'Lincoln' will show the last four months of President Abraham Lincoln's life as he campaigned for freedom before he was tragically assassinated in 1865. It will reveal in detail the extent of his conflict with various members of the cabinet over his decision to abolish the slave trade towards the end of the American Civil War. His very close success in the House of Representatives over the proposition of the Thirteenth Amendment which outlawed slavery is portrayed as one of the most crucial steps in his work against the trade. The last months of his life also saw him fail to negotiate an end to the War and saw the Union's ultimate victory.
This drama-fuelled biopic is the important story of one of the most influential and inspiring presidents of the United States that have ever been in office. It has been based on some of the biography 'Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln' by Doris Kearns Goodwin with an adapted screenplay by Oscar nominee Tony Kushner ('Munich') and the directing genius of the legendary Steven Spielberg ('Jaws', 'E.T.', 'Jurassic Park', 'Schindler's List', 'War of the Worlds') who wanted to show Lincoln 'at work' and not just 'posing for the history books'. Spielberg has described the former president as 'arguably the greatest working President in American history'. The movie is set for release in the UK on January 25th 2013.
Starring: Daniel Day Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones , Michael Stuhlbarg, Jackie Earle Haley, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Sally Field, James Spader, Julie White, John Hawkes, David Strathairn, Bruce McGill, Hal Holbrook and Adam Driver.
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