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Rosewater Review


Extraordinary

A harrowing true story infused with sharp humour and bristling intelligence, this riveting film is an auspicious writing-directing debut for TV news comic Jon Stewart. It's based on London-based journalist Maziar Bahari's book Then They Came for Me, a strikingly intimate memoir about being imprisoned in Iran. But the film never becomes a rant at an unjust society. Instead, it digs deep beneath the surface to find much more resonant, and more important, themes.

Maziar (Gael Garcia Bernal) left his pregnant wife (Claire Foy) at home in Britain to travel to Tehran to cover the contentious 2009 elections, after which the streets broke out in protests at what people saw as a rigged victory for Ahmadinejad. Maziar stays to report on this, and does a comical interview with a member of Stewart's team at The Daily Show. But the regime sees this as cooperation with an enemy, and arrests Maziar in his mother's (Shohreh Aghdashloo) home, charging him with espionage. While held in the notorious Evin Prison for nearly four months, Maziar is subjected to psychological torture at the hands of an interrogator (Kim Bodnia) he names "Rosewater" because of his scent. And the memories of similar experiences endured by his father and sister (Haluk Bilginer and Golshifteh Farahani) help Maziar survive his ordeal.

As a director, Stewart continually finds clever ways of revealing the inner workings of Maziar's mind, revealing his thoughts in inventive imagery and sounds. For example, one sequence beautifully weaves in Leonard Cohen's Dance Me to the Edge of Love, which holds a powerful memory for Maziar and also echoes the music and movies Iran's religious regime has strictly forbidden. Even the ghostly appearances of Maziar's father and sister are seamlessly integrated into the story. And the other significant achievement here is a refusal to make anyone a villain. As played by Bodnia, Rosewater is a man doing what he believes to be right, with pangs of conscience that eerily echo the news headlines about how American interrogators mistreated prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Bagram.

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Mortdecai Review


Terrible

Despite a superior cast and terrific-looking production values, this mystery romp is a misfire on every level. The only vaguely entertaining moments come in some snappy wordplay that's presumably all that remains of Kyril Bonfiglioli's beloved novel Don't Point That Thing at Me. Otherwise, the film feels clumsy and outdated, and even Johnny Depp's quirky schtick seems halfhearted. So even though it looks great and elicits a few giggles, it's such a mess that it's hard to imagine why anyone got involved.

Depp plays Lord Charlie Mortdecai, an art expert whose immaculately kept manor house is at risk of foreclosure due to unpaid taxes. So he leaps at the finder's fee when his old pal MI5 Inspector Martland (Ewan McGregor) asks him to investigate a murder linked to a missing Goya painting. The problem is that Martland still holds a torch for Charlie's wife Joanna (Gwyneth Paltrow), a brainy bombshell who launches her own investigation into the case. With his trusty manservant Jock (Paul Bettany) by his side, Charlie is taken to Moscow and Los Angeles in search of the Goya. And it all boils over in a chaotic encounter with a smirking art collector (Jeff Goldblum), his man-crazy daughter (Olivia Munn) and a sneaky killer (Jonny Pasvolsky).

Despite quite a lot of adult-aimed innuendo and violence, director David Koepp (Premium Rush) shoots the movie as if it's a hyperactive kiddie flick, all bright colours and shameless over-acting, with whooshing digitally animated transitions and a series of awkwardly staged car chases. None of this is remotely amusing. Even the constant double entendres are painfully overplayed, while the cartoonish Received Pronunciation accents put on by Depp, Paltrow and McGregor are more distracting than humorous. All of this leaves the characters impossible to engage with on any level; they aren't funny, endearing or even interesting.

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Ender's Game Review


Good

Since this entire story centres on virtual-reality gaming, it's tricky to feel any sense of what's at stake here. But a strong cast and above-average effects work help hold our interest until the requisite dramatic shift takes hold. Along the way, the movie explores some punchy issues such as the nature of true leadership and the morality of war.

It's set in a distant future: Earth has regrouped after an alien invasion, turning to children to harness their quick gaming reflexes and inner fearlessness. Ender (Butterfield) is a 12-year-old who's sure he'll crash out of training like his older sister Valentine (Breslin). But Colonel Graff (Ford) and Major Anderson (Davis) see something in him and send him on to battle school in an orbiting space station. As he shows true leadership potential and a sharp mind for warfare, he's promoted even further, training with iconic hero Rackham (Kingsley) on one of the aliens' former planets. And as he approaches his final exam, there's the sense that the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.

Yes, everything Ender does throughout his training is game related, either with digitally created environments or in a weightless battle globe with other cadets. This adds huge possibilities for the script to grapple with moral issues as Ender faces some staggering decisions. But since it's just a simulation, does it really mean anything? Thankfully, Butterfield is a terrific actor who lends the character a steely interior life that catches our interest. And being surrounded by the terrific Ford, Kingsley and Davis helps. As do some intriguing fellow recruits played by Steinfeld, Arias and others.

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'Ender's Game' Fan event and photocall - Arrivals

Gigi Pritzker and Bon Orci - 'Ender's Game' Fan event and photocall - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Monday 7th October 2013

Gigi Pritzker and Bon Orci

Drive Review


Extraordinary
Based on the James Sallis novel, this lean, stylish thriller is confidently assembled to pull us into an outrageous series of events. And it's no surprise that Refn won best director at Cannes for his fine work here.

A young Hollywood stunt driver (Gosling) moonlights as a getaway driver, overseen by his mentor Shannon (Cranston), who has just negotiated a partnership with businessman Bernie (Brooks) and his shady partner Nino (Perlman). But the driver's isolated life is breached when he gets to know single mother Irene (Mulligan) and her young son (Leos) who live in his building. And when Irene's husband (Isaac) is released from prison, the driver offers to help clear an old score so he can start with a fresh slate. Of course, nothing goes as planned.

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Rabbit Hole Review


Extraordinary
After two iconic films (Hedwig and Shortbus), Mitchell deploys his distinctive directorial style to adapt Lindsay-Abaire's play for the big screen. And he brings a remarkably light tough to the heavy subject matter, creating a film that deeply moves us.

Becca and Howie (Kidman and Eckhart) are a wealthy couple in the New York suburbs, but their life is coloured by intense grief after the accidental death of their 4-year-old son. Unable to move on, they struggle to integrate their loss into their daily routine, attending group-counselling sessions that Becca can't bear due to other parents' religious platitudes. Meanwhile, her mother (Wiest) and sister (Blanchard) add both comfort and stress, and Becca's chance encounter with the teen (Teller) who was driving the fateful car sparks her to take unusual action.

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The Spirit Review


Excellent
It's been too long since we've had a proper comic book superhero on the screen. There's been enough of them running around and bashing up the bad guys in a CGI-enhanced fashion, that's for sure. But it's hard to look at the recent cinematic incarnations of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne and call them "superheroes;" even if they keep their identities secret and have nifty outfits. "Billionaire action figures" would be more appropriate, what with all their high-priced gadgetry and super-duper hideouts. Whatever happened to the caped heroes who kept an eye on the city's dark alleys and took out the bad guys with nothing more than a sock to the jaw?

Frank Miller's jazzy The Spirit answers that question with a cocky wink and a grin. The streets of Central City are almost always dark and threatening, but they're watched over by a guardian who used to be a cop named Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht, wonderfully deadpan). One near-death experience later and Colt has dug himself out of his own grave. He then decides to serve the city as a masked avenger known as The Spirit, whose only weapons are a newfound ability to absorb ridiculous amounts of punishment and his fists.

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Suburban Girl Review


Grim
I'll be honest. The only reason I am bothering to write this review is to complain: Why would you take a pretty cool title like The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing and sub in a generic, borderline-lame one like Suburban Girl? I mean, there's not even anything remotely cool about the suburbs. Why would I want to watch a movie about a girl from them?

Well, you wouldn't, which is why Suburban Girl went straight to video, despite starring megawatt powers Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec Baldwin. Gellar is Brett Eisenberg, the Suburban Girl of the title, though she lives and works in Manhattan as that age-old vocation of many a rom-com: book editor. Her exploits include a new boss (she's mean!) and a new lover (he's old!), played by Baldwin. Writer/director Marc Klein relies on two stories from Girls' Guide to intertwine her dealings with both: Old man Archie gives Brett career advice, then gets drunk and cheats on her. Almost as an aside, Brett's dad gets sick and dies. That's pretty much the

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Green Street Hooligans Review


Weak
Lately, Elijah Wood has been very busy trying to establish himself as an actor apart from his role as Frodo in the obsessively popular Lord of the Rings phenomenon. Portraying peculiar supporting characters in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sin City, and Spy Kids 3-D, he's definitely made a valiant effort. He continues with Green Street Hooligans, this time attempting to play a tough guy. This is a first for Wood... and, hopefully, a last.

Originally titled just Hooligans, the film begins as a Harvard journalism student named Matt (Wood) is wrongfully expelled. To escape from his father's judgment, he jumps aboard a plane headed to London to visit his sister (Claire Forlani) and her husband Steve (Marc Warren). Almost immediately -- maybe out of rebellion, maybe out of curiosity -- he ditches sis and her hubby to hit the local pubs and football games (soccer for Americans) with Steve's irresponsible brother, Pete (Charlie Hunnam), and his band of hard-edged, hooligan friends.

Continue reading: Green Street Hooligans Review

Green Street Hooligans Review


Weak
Lately, Elijah Wood has been very busy trying to establish himself as an actor apart from his role as Frodo in the obsessively popular Lord of the Rings phenomenon. Portraying peculiar supporting characters in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sin City, and Spy Kids 3-D, he's definitely made a valiant effort. He continues with Green Street Hooligans, this time attempting to play a tough guy. This is a first for Wood... and, hopefully, a last.

Originally titled just Hooligans, the film begins as a Harvard journalism student named Matt (Wood) is wrongfully expelled. To escape from his father's judgment, he jumps aboard a plane headed to London to visit his sister (Claire Forlani) and her husband Steve (Marc Warren). Almost immediately -- maybe out of rebellion, maybe out of curiosity -- he ditches sis and her hubby to hit the local pubs and football games (soccer for Americans) with Steve's irresponsible brother, Pete (Charlie Hunnam), and his band of hard-edged, hooligan friends.

Continue reading: Green Street Hooligans Review

The Wedding Planner Review


Grim
Ah, welcome to San Francisco, the place I call home. It's a city of exorbitant housing costs where we're facing two years of electricity blackouts, and it's home to some of the most ridiculously magical romances ever conceived. (See also: The Bachelor.)

In what is either a sassy updating of the fable of marriage or a vicious lambasting of its sanctity, depending on your point of view, The Wedding Planner presents us with Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey as an unlikely pair who somehow manage to get together -- against all odds, of course.

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Ricki And The Flash - Trailer

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