John McBurney is a Union soldier who is found injured in the grounds of a Mississippi Confederate all-girls boarding school in 1863. The girls and their headmistress Miss Farnsworth take him inside to care for him, locking him in a room to keep him separated from the girls, but during his stay he manages to charm the likes of teacher Edwina Dabney and one of the elder students, Alicia, not to mention Martha herself. John's presence in the house disrupts the once quaint atmosphere, and it soon becomes thick with deceit and jealousy. As each of the girls turn on one another one by one, they begin to realise who the real enemy is. And John finds himself in far more danger than he ever was in the ongoing Civil War.
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Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's novel Gone Baby Gone, and he now returns to the author to adapt this Prohibition-era gangster drama. It's a big, beefy story with colourful characters and a snaky, expansive plot. And it's beautifully assembled by a skilled cast and crew. Even so, the film never quite generates quite enough energy to engage properly with the audience.
In 1927 Boston, Joe (Affleck) is a war veteran who has turned to crime to survive. But problems arise when he launches a torrid affair with the moll (Sienna Miller) of the Irish mob boss (Robert Glenister). With his life in danger, he turns to the rival Italian mafioso (Remo Girone) for a job, and is sent to Tampa to run their rum-smuggling operation. Working with his pal Dion (Chris Messina), Joe makes a success of a string of speak-easy bars and finds love with a the sister (Zoe Saldana) of a Cuban gangster. Then as he plans to open a huge casino, his gentlemanly agreement with the local police chief (Chris Cooper) is threatened. And it doesn't help that the boss in Boston begins to meddle.
Everything is assembled with a sumptuous sense of style, from the cool cars to the epic suits and hats. The film looks gorgeous, shot with muted colours that echo the subdued emotions of people who never quite say what they think. Of course, this creates a big problem, because it leaves Affleck's Joe looking like a blank slate, intriguing to watch but impossible to sympathise with. Nothing feels properly developed, with romances that seem to exist for no real reason and business relationships that appear to be based on some sort of unexplained subterfuge. The most riveting element of the story is Joe's clash with the KKK, a powerfully bull-headed group that refuses to play by the usual mob rules.
Continue reading: Live By Night Review
Félicie and Victor live in an orphanage, they're best friends and rely on one another for support, Victor has always dreamt of becoming a famous and inventor - though he's still yet to create his 'big' invention and Felicie loves nothing more than to dance, it's all she does, if she's doing chores she's usually attempting a pirouette at the same time.
Both the youngsters know that they won't be able to fulfil their dreams whilst living in the remote town they've been brought up in and Victor suggests they make a break and escape the confines of the orphanage and make their way to the capital city of Paris; Victor is sure he'll be able to make a name for himself there and knows that it could give Felicie the big break she has always needed - after all the renowned Opéra De Paris is located there and they have the highest calibre of dancer. Victor's belief in his best friend is enough to convince her that this is the right move.
The pair see sights unlike any they've previously experienced and luckily Felicie finds herself being taken in by a caretaker called Odette. Felicie can finally enrol in dance school and finally start her journey to become the dancer she's always felt she should be.
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Joe Coughlin was born and raised in a good family, his father was the police captain and they were a respected family in the neighbourhood. Joe was the dark horse and fell in with the wrong crowd from an influential age. It was 1920's and Joe and the rest of the Coughlin family lived in the thriving city of Boston. Joe constantly seemed to be pulling in a different direction to that of his father and mixed with some of the town's most feared bosses responsible for any number of crimes from running alcohol to robbery.
Caught in the middle of a war between mob bosses, Joe ends up ripping off the wrong guy in more than one way as he also steals his woman. Everything appears to be going for Joe and his small gang but their next heist is a chance too far and sees Joe being put in prison for robbery. Once again, Joe finds himself falling in with another powerful boss who offers him protection in prison - but at a cost.
With his eventual release, Joe moves to Florida to begin over seeing a rum smuggling operation but as Joe finds love he begins to realise that there's more to life than working on someone else's terms but perhaps he's too deeply connected to ever be able to give up the life he's made for himself.
It was a very different experience for the young actress.
In his new horror movie The Neon Demon, Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) takes on the vicious side of the fashion industry, telling the story of an aspiring teen model. Played by Elle Fanning, she becomes an object of jealousy and desire for a group of beauty-obsessed women.
Elle Fanning stars in 'The Neon Demon'
Fanning said she was drawn to the project by Refn's previous work. "I hadn't read the script and didn't know the story at all, and he asked to meet me," she says. "Right away, we talked about trust. He films in chronological order, and you're constantly discovering things. So because something happened yesterday we can't do this anymore. We have to change it. You're on this ride together."
The Neon Demon follows the journey of its protagonist Jesse (Elle Fanning) when she makes the move to Los Angeles as an aspiring model. Jesse is a young female that has been recruited by a fashion designer, as the typical girl from a small town with big dreams who wants to make it big in the modelling industry. However Jesse is not your typical model as she is described as a dangerous girl in the sense that the narrative soon takes a sinister turn.
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Ray is, in many ways, a regular New York teenager who enjoys skating, goes to school and is being raised by a single mother. The only unusual thing about him is that he was born female. Now he's hit puberty, he wants to under-go hormone replacement therapy and his mother Maggie is behind him one-hundred per cent. She may be grieving for the daughter that she's lost, but all she wants is for Ray to be happy and feel whole. The news that Ray wants to become a boy doesn't sit well with everyone, however. Her lesbian grandmother Dolly, for example, with whom he and his mother lives is dismissive of the idea of transitioning, and when the time comes to sign the parental consent form from the doctor, Maggie struggles to get her estranged husband to agree too. Ray isn't backing down without a fight; he refuses to go to school until he can start afresh in a boyish body, having undergone years of bullying. But it's going to take some serious discussion for him to be accepted for he is by the people around him.
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'Dalton Trumbo had gone from novelist to a successful career as a Hollywood screenwriter which saw him become one of the town's highest paid writers and even earn an Academy Award nomination. But his bright career came to a crushing end in 1947 after he was one of nine people who refused to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. This led to Trumbo being blacklisted from Hollywood and effectively ending his movie career. But despite being blacklisted Trumbo refused to give up and instead continued to write, often under pseudonyms, working on films such as Oscar winner Roman Holiday. His fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses over his freedom to write and work entangled everyone in Hollywood from gossip writer Hedda Hopper to Kirk Douglas who would call on Trumbo to pen the scrip for his epic drama 'Spartacus' and help bring about the end of the Hollywood blacklist.
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A triumph on a variety of levels, this staggeringly detailed stop-motion animation has a wonderfully deranged story packed with spirited characters. It also takes on some seriously important issues without ever getting heavy-handed about it. So while we're laughing at the astounding visual mayhem, there's plenty of depth to keep our brains spinning. And what the film has to say about communal paranoia is vitally important in today's world.
The story takes place a decade after a baby was kidnapped by the Boxtrolls, nighttime scavengers who prowl by night. Over the last 10 years, their legend has grown, and the people are now terrified of being eaten. So the red-hatted Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and his sidekicks (Richard Ayoade, Nick Frost and Tracy Morgan) set a goal to exterminate the trolls in exchange for prestigious white hats, which will let them join Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) for his evening cheese-tasting events. Then Portley-Rind's daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) spots a boy among the Boxtrolls, learning that Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is actually the kidnapped baby. And that Boxtrolls aren't actually villains at all. But can she get her father to pay attention to her for even a moment, so he can understand that Snatcher is the real bad guy?
Everything on-screen is in constant motion, with cluttered scenes that are a feast for the eyes. Action sequences are complicated and layered, drawing the eye all over the screen as the stakes grow higher with each scene. The mechanical climax feels like one step too far, but the filmmakers keep the focus tightly on the characters, each of whom has a bundle of quirks and obsessions that make them flawed and likeable. Even the nefarious Snatcher has a soft side, and Kingsley has a great time bringing out each aspect of the hilariously vile character, including his scene-stealing alter ego, the fabulous drag queen Madame Frou Frou.
Continue reading: The Boxtrolls Review
Date of birth
9th April, 1998
John McBurney is a Union soldier who is found injured in the grounds of a...
Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...
Félicie and Victor live in an orphanage, they're best friends and rely on one another...
Jamie doesn't live a normal life, he's raised by his single mom and lives in...
Joe Coughlin was born and raised in a good family, his father was the police...
The Neon Demon follows the journey of its protagonist Jesse (Elle Fanning) when she makes...
An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...
Ray is, in many ways, a regular New York teenager who enjoys skating, goes to...
'Dalton Trumbo had gone from novelist to a successful career as a Hollywood screenwriter which...
A triumph on a variety of levels, this staggeringly detailed stop-motion animation has a wonderfully...
Eggs is a young boy living in the dairy loving, wealthy town of Cheesbridge. He...
Disney rewrites its own history again with this revisionist version of its 1959 classic Sleeping...
'Maleficent' stars Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning talk about the upcoming fairytale movie alongside screenwriter...
The Boxtrolls are odd underground creatures that wear cardboard boxes as if they were shells....