Ted (Seann William Scott) is done. Since his wife left him, he has decided that there is nothing left to live for, and he is prepared to kill himself. He only has one thing he wishes to do before he ends it all: get back at all the people who have wronged him over the years. Be it an old school teacher who he felt was too hard on him, or a school bully who made his life miserable, Ted intends to give them hell. That is, until he starts to learn just how much people change over time, and how change itself is something worth living for. Now, at the darkest moment in his life, can Ted really change, and learn the truth about life, love and friendship?
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Much more than a film about 19th century slavery in America, this sharply well-told true story has a lot to say about the world we live in today. And as he did in Hunger and Shame, filmmaker Steve McQueen puts us right into the middle of the story so we live it ourselves. Watching this film is a riveting, unnerving and ultimately moving experience.
It's based on a firsthand account by Solomon Northrup (Ejiofor), a musician who is living with his family in 1841 Saratoga, New York, when two friendly men offer him a great gig. But they drug him and sell him to slave traders, who send him to New Orleans and strip him of his identity. He spends the next 12 years working for two masters. Ford (Cumberbatch) is a fair man who puts him under the watchful eye of the cruel Tibeats (Dano). Then he is sold to Epps (Fassbender), a harsh boss who sends him into cotton fields and angrily suspects that Solomon is more educated than he admits.
Made with an earthy, realistic style, there's a clear sense that McQueen and screenwriter Ridley stuck closely to the details of Northrup's memoir, which was published shortly after his release and became a bestseller at the time. By never indulging in Hollywood-style exaggeration, the events remain grounded in the characters, drawing on the spiky interaction between them. At the centre, Ejiofor is utterly magnetic, delivering a transparent performance that takes our breath away. In his terrified eyes, we experience this horror ourselves.
Continue reading: 12 Years a Slave Review
Director Steve McQueen joins the stars of '12 Years A Slave' to praise the immense level of acting skill that went into creating the movie. Among those actors were main star Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o.
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There's a subtle blast of righteous anger in this pointed drama, which finds present-day relevance in a true story that's more than 30 years old. The focus is on normal people who are caught up in an unjust system that leans toward ignorance and bigotry even if child's life is in danger. And watching them muster the strength to fight back is utterly riveting, because they're flawed and daunted exactly like we would be.
It takes place in 1979 Los Angeles, where Rudy (Cumming) works as a nightclub drag artist. When his hard-partying neighbour (Allman) abandons her Downs Syndrome son Marco (Leyva), Rudy steps up to take care of him. But he needs to find a longer-term solution, so he turns to Paul (Dillahunt), a divorced lawyer who has barely admitted to himself that he's gay. Rudy and Paul have only tentatively started a relationship, so Paul is reluctant. But Marco needs a guardian, so he helps Rudy get foster custody and moves them into his own home to help improve their legal status. But as they become a family, it becomes increasingly difficult for Paul to remain closeted, and when his sexuality emerges the court takes Marco away.
Even when the film shifts into a courtroom drama, it balances the drama with real-life humour and authentic emotional intensity. Watching these two compassionate men face systematic homophobia is pretty shocking, but filmmaker Fine never lets this become an issue movie: it's an involving story about people standing up for what's right. And by anchoring everything in the relationships, the film remains warm, relaxed and likeably awkward. This is mainly because Cumming and Dillahunt make such an unusual couple as the unapologetic queen and the strong-but-silent repressed guy.
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Solomon Northup was a well-educated man from a successful family living in upstate New York with his wife and three children. He was categorised as a free black man and made money through various jobs including as an entertainer playing the violin. In 1841, he was tricked into going to Washington DC with two white men for work where he was instead kidnapped and sold to slavery despite there being laws to protect free African-Americans. He spent twelve years on a plantation in Louisiana serving the brutal and abusive owner Edwin Epps. Determined to live his life again as a free man, he befriended a Canadian carpenter working for Epps by the name of Samuel Bass, whose high-morals turned Solomon's life around forever.
This poignant historical biopic is based on the 1853 autobiography 'Twelve Years a Slave' by the real Solomon Northup. It has been adapted to screen by writer John Ridley ('U Turn', 'Red Tails') and the BAFTA nominated director Steve McQueen ('Hunger', 'Shame'). With themes of freedom, racial inequality and the cruelty of mankind, '12 Years A Slave' could be one of the more heart-wrenching movies to kick of the year on its UK cinematic release on January 24th 2014.
For a time travel thriller, this film is remarkably free of head-scratching anomalies in the plot, instead concentrating on richly developed characters and goosebump-inducing action. This is an unusually intimate action blockbuster, which gives the cast a chance to do something more resonant than we expect. And writer-director Rian Johnson takes a Christopher Nolan-style approach to the story, using intelligence and strikingly inventive filmmaking to draw us in.
Johnson is also reuniting with his Brick star Gordon-Levitt. He plays Joe, a looper in 2044 Kansas whose job is to kill men who are sent back 30 years in time by the mob, even though time travel has been outlawed. Joe knows that one day his victim will be his older self, sent back to close his loop, giving him 30 years of retirement. But when the older Joe (Willis) appears, he escapes, and now a manhunt is on. If Joe doesn't catch his older self, his boss (Daniels) will do something even more drastic than a vicious henchman (Dillahunt) has in mind. So Joe hides out in a rural farmhouse with single mother Sara (Blunt) and her young son Cid (Gagnon), with whom Joe creates an unusual bond.
The film is beautifully shot and edited, with a noir tone established by a knowing narration and the fact that most characters are addicted to a drug they take as eye-drops. And while it opens with some lively humour and witty edginess, things become darker as the story unfolds, especially when older Joe starts hunting Terminator-style for the younger version of an evil man who has too much power in the future. The hitch is that this man is a 5-year-old in the present day.
Continue reading: Looper Review
Joe Simmons is a looper from Kansas City in 2042; a hitman hired to assassinate victims sent to him by a gang of mobsters from thirty years into the future through the outlawed method of time travel. The only rule put to him is that the targets must not escape. One day, on his regular duties, a new victim shows up who happens to be without the customary sack over his head. When he looks up, Joe recognises the man as an older version of himself and his sudden shock gives his future self the opportunity to disarm him and make a break for it. When Joe's criminal employees find out about the escape, they set out to destroy him for his failure. It doesn't take long for him to convince himself that he must kill his future self despite the fact that he is being used in order for the lawless organisation to 'close the loop'.
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After her drug-cooking dad jumps bail, 17-year-old Ree (Lawrence) is in an impossible situation: she's desperate to get out of town, but the bondsman (Taylor) is seizing her house, and she's has to take care of her nearly catatonic mother (Richards) and younger siblings (Stone and Thompson) who aren't old enough to hunt their own food. So she decides to find her father, calling on her uncle (Hawkes) for help. But her dad's disappearance is tied up in local customs, and by digging around she stirs a hornet's nest.
Continue reading: Winter's Bone Review
It's time for summer vacation and the Collingwood family -- doctor dad (Tony Goldwyn), teacher mom (Monica Potter), and daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) -- are heading to their isolated lake house for a little R&R. Sadly, the teenage girl will soon run into escaped killer Krug (Garrett Dillahunt), his son Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), the equally unhinged Francis (Aaron Paul), and gonzo gal pal Sadie (Riki Lindhome). Along with her buddy Paige (Martha MacIsaac), Mari will be tortured, abused, and left for dead. When the criminals show up at the Collingwood home looking for lodging, it's not long before the parents find out what happened... and when they do, the tables are turned and no one is safe.
Continue reading: The Last House on the Left (2009) Review
Controversy has engulfed "The Believer" since its premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize but still couldn't find a distributor because it's a frank and frightful portrayal of an angry young Jew who hates his own heritage so much he becomes a neo-Nazi.
An intense examination of faith and a challenge to the notion of blind faith, it has been misunderstood by filmgoers who can't stomach being inside the head of Danny Balint (played by "Murder by Numbers" killer Ryan Gosling). That is certainly understandable -- it's an ugly place full of intolerance and self-loathing.
The film has also been criticized over the possibility that it might find an audience among hate groups who may hear Danny's articulate, even well-argued malevolence and not see that in his obsession he's discovered a new, more profound (if twisted) devotion to his congenital creed.
Continue reading: The Believer Review
Set in the beautiful Swiss Alps, Youth sees Michael Caine & Harvey Keitel in a fine piece of work.
This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through a checklist of the major events.
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