This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written, directed and acted that it's impossible not to be pulled into its powerfully wrenching drama. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (see also 2011's sleeper masterpiece Margaret) creates characters so vivid that they get deep under the skin, and he allows his actors to so fully inhabit them that they become unforgettable.
This is the story of Lee (Casey Affleck), a janitor who is hiding in Boston from his past. When his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has a heart attack, he returns to his hometown Manchester to take care of Joe's 16-year-old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges), who isn't remotely happy about this set-up. But Joe's estranged wife Elisa (Gretchen Mol) has vanished, and Lee's ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) has started a new life. So while Patrick struggles to maintain his independence, Lee tries to build some sort of relationship with him. But both are still reeling with pain over things that happened to them over the years.
Yes, the central theme here is grief, and Lonergan piles mountains of it onto these characters. As details about their back-stories are revealed, the intensity of the emotions becomes nearly unbearable, and yet neither Lonergan nor the actors ever give into sentimentality or trite sermons. This is achingly realistic, an exploration of how people survive even the worst things life can throw at them. And Affleck delivers his best performance yet in the role, a devastatingly transparent turn that holds the audience in rapt attention. Newcomer Hedges matches him beat for beat as a deeply likeable teen whose prickly reactions make him even more sympathetic. And both Williams and Mol add some blistering electricity as women struggling to reinvent themselves. In just a few scenes, Williams very nearly steals the film.
Continue reading: Manchester By The Sea Review
The cast and crew of upcoming drama 'True Story', including Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones and director Rupert Goold, take us through the plot of the film in a new featurette. They discuss the unlikely relationship between a disgraced journalist and a convicted killer, and what it's like to take on such a sensitive story.
Continue: True Story - Featurette
In 2001, Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) was fired from his job at the New York Times for creating fictitious characters and using them in an article he published. Not long afterwards, he discovered that Christian Longo (James Franco) had used his name as an alias while on the run after murdering his wife and three children. Finkel confronted Longo in jail, whereupon Longo began to explain what happened and who was really to blame for the murder. As Finkel began to go deeper and deeper into the case, he realised that while this posed a chance to be his comeback, it could also ruin his reputation and career. He desperately hope that he was preparing to publish the true story.
Continue: True Story Trailer
Keira Knightley continues to open up as an actress with this sparky comedy. As in Begin Again and The Imitation Game, she taps into her own lively personality to create a punchy character who's loose, likeable and prickly. And while the film has a warm, engaging tone that's often both honest and funny, it also feels somewhat contrived as it pushes Knightley's character into corner after corner. As with films like Humpday and Your Sister's Sister, director Lynn Shelton takes a spirited idea and ends up playing it oddly safe.
It's set in Seattle, where Megan (Knightley) is in her late-20s, horrified to see her close circle of friends settling down into predictable lives involving marriage and children. So when her longtime boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) proposes, just as she discovers that her dad (Jeff Garlin) has cheated on her mom, Megan makes a run for it. At a convenience shop, a group of teens asks her to buy some alcohol, and suddenly she has a new best friend in Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz). As they bond, Annika invites Megan to stay at her house. So Megan invents a story about attending a self-help conference and lays low, hanging out with her new teen gang like it's the good old days. But Annika's single dad Craig (Sam Rockwell) begins to challenge Megan to realise that perhaps there are benefits to growing up.
Yes, it's obvious from the moment Megan and Craig start bickering where this is headed. And these predictable plot turns feed into the standard rom-com structure of the screenplay, right up to climactic scenes at both an airport and the prom. There isn't a single surprise along the way, but Knightley's breezy performance is more than enough to carry the audience with her on this odyssey. Effortlessly charming even when she's being a jerk, she develops a wonderful improv-like chemistry with both Moretz and Rockwell, while the bit players add plenty of texture to each episodic sequence.
Continue reading: Say When [Laggies] Review
Gretchen Mol, Kimberly Senior, Ayad Akhtar, Karen Pittman and Hari Dhillon - Stars were photographed arriving at the Opening night of 'This Is Our Youth' at the Cort Theatre in New York City, New York, United States - Thursday 11th September 2014
Megan (Keira Knightley) is 28-years-old and she still hasn't got any sort of long term plan for her future. She earns a living as a sign flipper at her dad's business and is still dating her boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) from high school. After attending a school reunion, the realisation that her life appears to be at a standstill grows in intensity when he tries to propose marriage. After escaping the party, she bumps into Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz); a 16-year-old girl trying to find someone whose willing to buy them alcohol. She decides to stick around with her and moves in with her for a week to clear her head after lying to her boyfriend about business trip. Annika's father Craig (Sam Rockwell) makes his reservations about a woman in her late twenties hanging out with his teenage daughter known, but soon warms to her as a spark ignites between them.
Continue: Laggies Trailer
The long awaited Boardwalk Empire season 3 finale aired last night, giving us closure on what has been a tense and sometimes tedious season from HBO's prohibition drama. And while it didn't arrest our expectations, 'Margaret Sands' was a finely tuned conclusion to an increasingly teetering plotline: Gyp Rossetti v Nucky Thompson.
I mean, who really thought Nucky would be overcome, relinquishing control of his beloved Atlantic City? Perhaps the sudden death of Owen Sleater, just before he was set to live his long and happy life with Margaret in the penultimate episode served a welcome shock, but in reality, this finale simply played out a story we all would have guessed. The cunning Nucky wriggled his way out, Rossetti's bullish and impatient style proved his downfall, and Richard Harrow saved the son he never had, Tommy, from a life of drugs, sex and death.
Continue reading: Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Finale Recap; Spoilers Everywhere!
Whether she knew it or not, Bettie Page was breaking a lot of taboos when she started posing in bondage films and photos (maybe she knew but just decided to not care?). Current trends in modeling, including Dita Von Teese and Suicide Girls, often cite Page as an inspiration for their work. In Von Teese there is a certain comparison, but Suicide Girls, whether they like it or not, are not celebrating taboo. If anything, they are destroying taboo and making everything normal, even the strange and macabre. The trick with Page was that she didn't really see it as a bad thing; she never had it in her mind to exploit the idea of "the bad girl." Whether this was on director Mary Harron's mind when she opted to take on the life story of Bettie Page is up for debate.
Raised in Tennessee to a strict, religious family and a father with a fondness for bathing suit areas, Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) is set to become a teacher at college when she marries an army man and promptly leaves him when he hits her. After being sexually assaulted by a group of men, she makes her way to New York City to become an actress. The moment of fate comes when an off-duty police officer and amateur photog decides to take her picture. Soon enough, she's being sought out by famous photographers like Bunny Yeager (Sarah Paulson) and specialty photography siblings Irving and Paula Klaw (Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor, respectively). Her friends, mostly male, are astonished by her nonchalant attitude towards nudity and bondage. She just sees it as "silly pictures," but the Senate, led by Senator Estes Kefauver (David Strathairn, absolutely wasted), thinks it's warping the youth of America. Mostly, Bettie just wants to make a nice, God-fearing life for herself with a man who doesn't judge her.
Continue reading: The Notorious Bettie Page Review
As the story goes, Matthew (Matthew Settle) just can't get over his ex-girlfriend Liz (Gretchen Mol), which sees him drinking heavily and attempting to beat down Liz's door in the hopes of getting her back. (Never mind that Matthew's job is being a radio psychologist...) Fortunately, Liz's friend Corey (Samantha Mathis) enters his life, and maybe Matthew will be able to move on, right? Alas, he continues stalking Liz while he's banging her friend. And to throw another twist on you, Matthew's co-worker Garrett (Tom Everett Scott), decides he now loves Liz, and he's going to return the favor by stalking Matthew and Corey.
Continue reading: Attraction Review
Continue reading: Forever Mine Review
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