Dr. Bennet Omalu is a pathologist who loves his job and, in many ways, the patients that he looks after. His methods are his own but they work for him and he's very successful at his job. When ex-American Football star Mike Webster turns up on his morticians table, Omalu treats his body just like he would any other. What isn't initially known to Omalu is that after years of playing professional football Webster had become something of a recluse whilst suffering with Dementia and depression.
Bennet's initial findings with the late Mr Webber is that he died of cardiac arrest, but unhappy with this conclusion, the pathologist begins to dig deeper. Looking at every possible outcome, Bennet beings to study the brain of the ex-footballer and what he discovers is a new disease that hasn't been seen before.
Before this point, people knew about a condition called Punch Drunk, a disorder often associated with contact sport such as boxing, but up until Dr. Bennet Omalu's discovery the disorder hadn't been seen as a physical effect.
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With a gentle current of comedy, this relaxed British drama finds some cleverly involving ways of approaching the concept of grief, specifically how various people need to deal with their inner pain in their own ways. It's a strikingly observant film that's also thoroughly engaging thanks to a terrific cast of actors who are given the space to develop their characters in organic ways we can easily identify with.
As a young boy, Nathan (Edward Baker-Close) folds into himself when his father (Martin McCann) is killed in a car crash. His optimistic mother Julie (Sally Hawkins) doesn't quite know how to deal with either his natural mathematical ability or his autistic inability to relate to people, but she does the best she can. And it's when he hits his teen years (now Asa Butterfield) that he begins to open up to his bristly tutor Humphreys (Rafe Spall), who encourages Nathan to travel to Taiwan to train with the British team for the International Mathematical Olympiad. In Taipei, Nathan has even more challenges as he learns to work with both the team coach Richard (Eddie Marsan) and his local study partner Mei (Jo Yang). And as Nathan begins to understand who he is, Julie also discovers that maybe she can cope after all.
Director Morgan Matthews and screenwriter James Graham have a remarkably light touch with the plot, allowing events to unfold naturally while never pushing the sentiment. They also thankfully figure out an inventive way to make a movie packed with mathematical formulae that actually feel meaningful to even the most maths-phobic member of the audience. Impressively, this lets the film get into Nathan's perspective to reveal how he sees the world and interacts with the people around him. And Butterfield plays the role with raw honesty that completely wins us over.
Continue reading: X + Y Review
Nathan (Asa Butterfield) is different. He has an amazing way with numbers - something which will one day lead him to huge success. But for now, Nathan is unable to talk to anyone other than his father, but after he is tragically killed in a car accident, Nathan feels alone. Fast forward a few years, Nathan can relate to no one and spends all his time working on maths equations. With help from his tutor, the lovable Humphreys (Rafe Spall) and his mother Julie (Sally Hawkins), Nathan gets into the prestigious International Mathematics Olympiad and takes a trip to Taiwan to train and hone his abilities. With a steadily growing relationship with Zhang Mei (Jo Yang), a fellow contestant, Nathan could be ready to learn to love.
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Despite a strong sense of the characters and the setting, this film struggles to engage viewers with its downbeat story about how tough life is. Even though the performances are powerful enough to hold the attention, the film feels like it drifts aimlessly along, never coming into focus in a meaningful way. And since everything is right on the surface, there isn't much subtext to help the events resonate with the audience.
In the God's Pocket neighbourhood in 1980s Philadelphia, everyone knows everything about each others' lives. Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works as a driver delivering meat, but spends just as much time planning small-time scams with his pal Arthur (John Turturro). Then his life is thrown out of balance when his hothead stepson Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) dies in what is suspiciously described as a workplace accident. Mickey's wife Jeanie (Christina Hendricks) struggles to cope with her son's death, so Mickey is easily pressured by the local mortician (Eddie Marsan) into buying a funeral he can't afford. To make some extra cash, he plans a heist with Arthur and their careless pal Sal (Domenick Lombardozzi), which predictably goes awry. Meanwhile, a famed local journalist (Richard Jenkins) starts looking into Leon's death.
It's not like the film is low on plot: there are plenty of story strands to push each character further into their own personal desperation. And the tightly knit setting provides an intriguing counterpoint as everyone's dirty laundry is aired for all to see, which pushes their true emotions even further underground. This lets the actors deliver riveting performances, even as they're all beaten down to mere husks of humanity. In one of his final roles, Hoffman is terrific as a guy for whom everything goes relentlessly wrong. Hendricks is pretty wrenching as the rather drippy Jeanie, whose interaction with Jenkins is both warm and depressing. Thankfully, Turturro and Marsan provide a spark of energy, as does Joyce Van Patten in a scene-stealing role as Arthur's gun-crazy aunt.
Continue reading: God's Pocket Review
God's Pocket seems to be an ordinary working class neighbourhood at face value; full of people with ordinary jobs and ordinary families. However, a dark undertone begins to show when Mickey Scarpato's insane stepson Leon dies following a so-called accident at a construction site. Mickey wants people to believe he slipped and fell to his death (not that anybody cares that the town is short of a man like Leon), but Leon's mother Jeanie is desperate to know what really happened. While Mickey tries to comfort his wife, Jeanie is approached by a shameless reporter named Richard Shellburn who is also investigating any mystery behind the death. All Mickey wants is the body in the ground and a large debt of his to be repaid - but it looks like his life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.
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As another full-on Irvine Welsh adaptation Trainspotting did in 1996, this bracingly original movie puts a new filmmaker on the map. Not only is this a loud blast of both style and substance, but it refuses to water down its subject matter, taking us through a shockingly profane story in a way that's both visually inventive and emotionally resonant.
This is the story of Bruce (McAvoy), an Edinburgh detective who's determined to beat his colleagues to a promotion. He's also a relentless womaniser, sexist, racist and drug addict. And he'll do anything to get ahead, hiding the sordid details of his private life from his boss (Sessions) while undermining the other cops at any chance while pretending to be their friends. In quick succession, he gets young Ray (Bell) addicted to cocaine, flirts continually with Amanda (Poots), has a fling with the kinky wife (Dickie) of fellow officer Gus (Lewis), torments Peter (Elliott) about his sexuality, and takes Bladesey (Marsan) on a sex-tourism holiday while making obscene calls to his needy wife (Henderson). All of this happens while Bruce leads the investigation into a grisly murder.
McAvoy dives so far into this role that we barely recognise him in there. Bruce is so amoral that we are taken aback by each degrading moment. And yet McAvoy somehow manages to hold our sympathy due to the film's blackly hilarious tone and a startling undercurrent of real emotion. Even though he's a monster, we see his boyish fragility, especially in surreal sequences involving his therapist (Broadbent), which merge with his fantasies, hallucinations and nightmares.
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After Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Wright conclude their so-called Cornetto Trilogy with yet another riotously inspired exploration of British culture: the pub crawl. And this time it's apocalyptic! But what makes the film thoroughly endearing is its focus on old friendships that are so well-played that we can't help but find ourselves on-screen even when things get very, very silly.
Pegg plays Gary, the ringleader of his band of school pals. It's been more than 20 years since their failed attempt to visit all 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. Now approaching 40, Gary hasn't grown up nearly as much as his friends, so it takes a bit of convincing to get the now-settled Andy, Ollie, Pete and Steve (Frost, Freeman, Marsan and Considine) to reunite for a renewed attempt to drink their way through town. Then after the first couple of pints, they start to suspect that something isn't quite right. People are behaving strangely, as if there are alien body snatchers taking over the town. So to avoid attracting attention, the boys just carry on getting blind drunk on their way to the 12th pub, The World's End.
As in the previous films, Pegg and Wright continue developing the characters and their inter-relationships even as everything falls apart around them. Sure, the end of the humanity seems to be upon them, but there's unfinished business between them that needs sorting out, and besides there are more pints to drink. Along the way, things are spiced up as they meet Ollie's sister Sam (Pike), who shocks Gary by refusing to pick up where they left off. They also encounter a former teacher (Brosnan), the town's crazy old man (Bradley) and a shady guy known as The Reverend (Smiley).
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The World's End was based on a real life pub-crawl in the 1990s, though Edgar Wright only managed six of the pubs.
Edgar Wright's hugely anticipated sci-fi comedy The World's End premieres in London on Wednesday (July 10, 2013) bringing together the British director, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for the final time (for the Cornetto trilogy, at least). The movie stars Pegg as an immature 40-something who persuades four friends to undertake a marathon drinking session in a small English town. 12 pubs. 12 pints.
The gang's likely unreachable goal is to make it to the final pub - The World's End - though events taken an unpredictable turn.
What audiences may not be aware of is that Wright's comedy is based on a true life pub crawl he and friends undertook in the 1990s. The filmmaker enlisted some of the finest British actors around - Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan - to play his buddies, though made sure to invite the original pub-crawl line-up to the premiere.
Continue reading: The Real Pub Crawl That Inspired Edgar Wright's 'The World's End'
Critics' reviews of Showtime's latest drama series 'Ray Donovan' suggest, if it continues in the same vein as its first four episodes, it will prove popular and highly successful.
Early reviews for Showtime's latest series Ray Donovan have been extremely favourable. Critics have said this latest offering is 'testosterone' filled, 'muscular' and with great performances by Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight.
Liev Schreiber plays Ray Donavan, a man who does the dirty work of the rich and famous. The first series centres around his antics with the L.A. elite and his relationship with his wayward father Mickey Donovan. Mickey has an equally shady past as he has recently been released from prison. Jon Voight plays Mickey and his performance has been praised with Ed Bark saying it is Voight "who gives this drama its ferocious, dangerous and sometimes creepy edge" (Ed Bark of Uncle Barky).
Liev Shreiber at the Ray Donavon premiere.
Watch the hilarious trailer below
Continue reading: The World’s End – Simon Pegg And Nick Frost Are Back [Trailer]