Conor's life has never been easy, his mother is loving but any other family members are distant from the young boy. He's bullied at school and is increasingly turning into a loner. One night Conor goes to sleep but it awakened by a noise at the window.
What is revealed to Conor is a monster who starts talking with the boy. He says he'll tell the boy a series of stories in return for the boy eventually telling his own. As nights pass, the monster and the boy become closer friends but as the monster begins to get Conor into trouble, he must face up to a few issues in his life that he's been avoiding.
A Monster Calls is an adaptation of the Patrick Ness book of the same name. The book was originally published in 2011 but had its roots actually came from famed children's author Siobhan Dowd who wrote Bog Child. Dowd began work on the A Monster Calls before her death but unfortunately ran out of time, at which point Ness picked the novel up.
A Monster Calls stars Liam Neeson, Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones & Sigourney Weaver.
Director JA Bayona (The Orphanage) draws out exceptional performances in his cast, as well as his technical crew, to turn a true story into a potent dramatic thriller. This is such a staggering story of survival that the title almost feels understated. And even though it has a hugely emotional tone, the film never feels mawkish, taking a gritty, intimate approach to a situation that's seriously mind-boggling.
We're talking about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which claimed nearly 300,000 lives. But this is the story of just one family: Henry and Maria (McGregor and Watts), who travel to Thailand with their three sons Lucas, Thomas and Simon (Holland, Joslin and Pendergast) for an idyllic Christmas holiday. Then the Indian Ocean tsunami tears through the landscape. Lucas manages to stay with the badly injured Maria, and they go looking for help. Meanwhile, Henry finds Thomas and Simon and sets out to reunite his family. But the devastation is total, and it will take a miracle for them to find each other in the confusion of relief efforts and medical emergencies.
Avoiding the pitfalls of the usual disaster movie, the script remains tightly focussed on these five characters, even as they meet others along the way. This lets us feel every moment along with them. Meanwhile, the soaring cinematography and seamless effects work make it feel like we're watching actual footage of the tsunami, complete with almost unnervingly realistic make-up. In the tidal wave's wake, these people are grippingly sympathetic, more concerned with helping their family members than with wiping the blood off their faces. And all five actors vividly let us feel their characters' internal journey.
Continue reading: The Impossible Review
It's December 2004 and a young mother and father take their three sons on a paradise vacation to Southeast Asia where they are not far from white sandy beaches and a clear blue ocean - a far cry from the freezing winter temperatures back home. One day, whilst the Maria relaxes by the pool, watching husband Henry play ball with the kids, an ominous, trembling noise can be heard getting closer and closer. Before the family, and other vacation-goers, have time to run for their lives, they suddenly find themselves caught in one of the most horrific natural disasters of the generation; the tsunami resulting from the earthquake of the Indian Ocean. Miraculously, the family survive; Henry drifts back to consciousness with an overwhelming fear when his children are nowhere to be seen, though it is not long before his two youngest discover him. Maria and the eldest, Lucas, have drifted elsewhere and Henry vows to search every shelter and every hospital for them. They are so far unharmed and are found by some locals who take them to a nearby hospital. Maria sends Lucas off to help people find their families and finds his own along the way.
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Left on the steps of an isolated Spanish monastery as an infant, Ambrosio (Cassel) has grown up to be a celebrated priest, wowing the population of nearby Madrid with his radical sermons. But he's haunted by visions, as well as a dark secret kept by an oddly powerful woman (Francois). Meanwhile, young Antonia (Japy) is being wooed by the sexy Lorenzo (Noaille), a match her mother (Mouchet) approves but worries about. And no one has a clue that all of their fates are intertwined.
Continue reading: The Monk [Le Moine] Review
When he was a baby, Ambrosio was raised by Capucin monks in a Spanish monastery. He becomes a devout monk and, as an adult, his sermons are among the most popular in the country, if not the most popular. However, most of his fellow monks are jealous of Ambrosio's success.
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American-raised actor Lawrence (Del Toro) returns to his family manor on an English moor, where his wild-haired father Sir John (Hopkins) lives with his Sikh servant (Malik). Lawrence discovers that his brother has just been killed in the woods by a vicious creature, which later wounds him as well, turning him into a werewolf. And on the first full moon, he finds himself on the hunt as well as chased by a Scotland Yard detective (Weaving). But maybe a gypsy woman (Chaplin) and his brother's ex-fiancee (Blunt) hold the key to his salvation.
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As actors go, Charlie Chaplin is at least a worthy candidate for a biopic. His impact on the acting profession and especially physical comedy is hard to overstate, and the man remains an icon whose face (or silhouette) embodies cinema. In the hands of Richard Attenborough, Chaplin's life is digested into the highlights -- from vaudevillian youth to his arrival in Hollywood to his amazingly fast rise to fame. Attenborough even dabbles in Chaplin's investigation by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. Naturally, the running series of Chaplin's famous romantic entanglements are carefully tallied, the actresses playing the various Mrs. Chaplins (and near misses) making up a who's who of early-'90s starlets.
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In his stealthily creepy The Orphanage, first-time director Juan Antonio Bayona makes a decent bid for being considered one of the new wave of Spanish directors, and looks likely to be soon making the hop to Hollywood in the footsteps of the film's producer, Guillermo del Toro. He's managed a very difficult task here in taking a large batch of genre tropes, from lost children to haunted houses to buried crimes and even lonely lighthouses in the foggy night, and made them all jump out of the precisely ordered mise-en-scene like they were freshly minted. Add to this the fact that his film shares so many stylistic and thematic characteristics of del Toro's (particularly The Devil's Backbone) that he had the added pressure of not aping his producer's work. Despite all this, on almost every level that it needs to, The Orphanage succeeds.
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This central focus, the platonically affectionate friendship of two men, is admirably rare to begin with. Sure, men are pals in domestic-made features, but they rarely hug or discuss emotional dysfunction because American society is so homophobic. Audiences and critics alike are attuned to the slightest hint that a film might be presenting a gay character or subplot so that it can be easy to dismiss even the most intelligent works of fiction as simply "queer" without giving it the further attention to human issues it deserves. One would think that writer/director Almodóvar would lean more towards gay/lesbian issues, being a homosexual, but he thankfully seems bent on capturing the essence of people, in all their parts, and not just whom they choose to sleep with. His consistently honest stance, both in interviews and film projects, fuels his ability to intelligently articulate heart-wrenching and heartwarming experiences with all of his creations, regardless of sexual orientation.
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Thornton Wilder's famed novel has been filmed three times, including this one. The story is interesting and its ideas on religion and corruption are certainly timely. Brother Juniper (Gabriel Byrne, wasted as a pointless framing device) has recently collected data and put it into a book about five souls who lost their lives when the Bridge of San Luis Rey collapsed. The book implicates a bit of a conspiracy concerning the bridge's collapse, but the Archbishop of Peru (Robert De Niro) sustains that it was an act of the devil and that Brother Juniper, and his book, are calculating heathens. Most of the film is a flashback to the events leading up to the bridge's failure, mainly concerning the wealthy Marquesa (Kathy Bates), a young actress Dona Clara (Émilie Dequenne), and their relationship with the Viceroy of Peru (F. Murray Abraham). The Viceroy has impregnated Dona Clara and is a bold faced hypocrite for first shunning the Marquesa and then making Dona show her respect and humility. The only one who seems to really care about the poor actress is Uncle Pio (Harvey Keitel), the head of the acting troupe that Dona Clara is in. The film leads up to both the breaking of the bridge and the court's judgment of Brother Juniper. Neither goes well, as you might imagine.
Continue reading: The Bridge Of San Luis Rey Review
Continue reading: Les Uns Et Les Autres Review
The city in question is Paris, where Max, the family patriarch and owner of a large pharmaceutical company, has traveled from Madrid seeking treatment for a tumor that has left him slightly demented and close to death. By his side is his wife Marie (the formidable Geraldine Chaplin, as thin and cold as an icicle), who clearly has something dark on her mind. She's joined by her three sons, Luis (Roberto Alvarez), Alberto (Alex Casanovas), and the youngest, Victor (Leonardo Sbaraglia), who flies in from Argentina with his girlfriend (Leticia Bredice) for what may be Max's death watch.
Continue reading: The City Of No Limits Review