A whooshing pace and snappy dialogue help bring this true story to life, tracing the triumphant and scandalous career of cyclist Lance Armstrong. And the energetic approach helps bring out several layers in Armstrong's perspective, exploring why a top sportsman would cheat to win. It also features a steely performance from Ben Foster that captures Armstrong's physicality and personality, but not in the usual ways.
When he was 25, Armstrong (Foster) was already a star, but his career was cut short in 1996 by advanced testicular cancer. After recovering, he retrained himself as a long-distance cyclist and launched a global cancer charity, then went on to win seven Tour de France titles. His friend, Irish journalist David Walsh (Chris O'Dowd) noticed that his improvement was too good to be true, and continually challenged him to be honest about his work with controversial doctor Michele Ferari (Guillaume Canet). Armstrong defended his name in court, but years later the truth came out that throughout his career he had been systematically cheating with banned drugs and blood-cleansing processes. The truth came out in 2010, but he didn't admit the deception until an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013.
Since this was so thoroughly reported in the media, and finely detailed in Alex Gibney's acclaimed documentary The Armstrong Lie, there aren't any surprises in this movie. And despite being based on Walsh's book Seven Deadly Sins, the film takes Armstrong's perspective, trying to get under his skin to reveal his motivation. John Hodge's screenplay is insightful, building some strong dramatic suspense along the way, and the film is sharply well-directed by Stephen Frears, a filmmaker better known for softer movies (like Philomena and The Queen). But he guides Foster to a strikingly physical performance that's sweaty and aggressive, and also darkly internalised. Stand-outs in the supporting cast include Jesse Plemons as a fellow cyclist haunted by his conscience and Denis Menochet as Armstrong's team manager.
Continue reading: The Program Review
Lance Armstrong was an athlete the entire world loved to support. Having beaten testicular cancer the cyclist went on to win numerous titles around the world including seven gold consecutive gold medals for the Tour De France, which has become known as the hardest bike rice in the world. He had few doubters, everyone loved the superman that he'd become and wanted to believe in the story surrounding his success.
One of those few doubters was David Walsh, a sports reporter with The Sunday Times newspaper. After digging into Lance and his team mates, Walsh began to build a case with more and more information backing his thoughts on Lance. One such piece of evidence was Armstrong's connection to an Italian doctor named Michele Ferrari. What followed was years of Walsh digging and uncovering the real truth behind Armstrong.
The Program is based on David Walsh's 2012 book 'Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong'.
Lance Armstrong is a cycling legend, with seven Tour De France wins under his belt among other accolades, feats that were made all the more impressive following his battle and subsequent recovery from testicular cancer. Despite his illness, he seemed better than ever before on the road on his return and by 2004, he had attracted the attention of reporter David Walsh, who grew suspicious that the athlete was using performance enhancing drugs, along with many of his cyclist friends. Armstrong used a genius combination of loopholes and convincing acting to make people believe otherwise but he was ultimately exposed and shamed for his tactics by a determined journalist.
Continue: The Program - First Look Trailer
While the story centres on twisted moral dilemmas, this 1970s-set thriller takes such a hesitant, internalised approach that if never lets viewers under the characters' skin. As a result, there's virtually no spark of real life here, despite the presence of several fine actors and a twisty plot that focusses on how decisions affect relationships. It's an oddly muted approach to events that really should have a much stronger emotional jolt.
It's 1974 Brooklyn, where Chris (Clive Owen) has just been released after 10 years in prison. His police detective brother Frank (Billy Crudup) offers help with finding a place to stay, getting a job and escaping his former life of crime, but the options are limited. While trying to reconnect with his junkie-prostitute ex Monica (Marion Cotillard), Chris also begins dating the younger Natalie (Mila Kunis). And he finds himself drifting back into his old gangster role. This causes a conflict of interest for Frank in his work as a cop, especially since he's further compromised by having an affair with Vanessa (Zoe Saldana), whose boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) he's just put in jail.
Filmmaker Guillaume Canet is remaking the 2008 French thriller Rivals (in which he played the Frank character), and he recreates the period beautifully, shooting the film in a grainy 1970s style that emphasises character over action. So it's odd that the characters feel so thinly written, with most of the ambiguity drained from each moral issue they face. Much of this is because everyone is pushing their emotions away and internalising their thought processes so no one else can see them. But this leaves the audience out in the cold. And as a result, everything feels obvious and inevitable, which makes it impossible to get involved as events escalate. It's as if these people are tragic losers, so no amount of sympathy will save them.
Continue reading: Blood Ties Review
Frank is a remarkable cop with a lot to look forward to in his life, but as happy as he is, he still has major worries for the people around him. His brother Chris has just been released from prison after a gang-related murder several years ago. Frank wants to make sure Chris stays on the straight and narrow as he rebuilds his shattered life, and offers him shelter, a job and an opportunity to restore his relationships with his former wife Monica and his children. However, Chris also finds himself reconnecting with some old 'friends' and it soon becomes clear that he has no intention of living straight. All Frank wants is a happy and secure family, but if he keeps trying to save his wayward brother's back from the law, he could find himself facing an uncertain future in the force.
'Blood Ties' is the Hollywood re-make of Jacques Maillot's 2008 French film 'Les liens du sang' which is also adapted from the novel by Bruno and Michel Papet. It has been directed by Guillaume Canet ('Little White Lies', 'Tell No One', 'Whatever You Say') and co-written by James Gray ('Two Lovers', 'We Own the Night', 'The Yards') and is due to appear in theatres on March 21st 2014.
James Caan, Zoe Saldana, Billy Crudup, Noah Emmerich, Guillaume Canet, Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard, Jamie Hector, Lili Taylor, Domenick Lombardozzi and Mark Mahoney - 66th Cannes Film Festival -Blood Ties - premiere - Cannes, France - Saturday 1st January 2000
The film is bookended with the wildly comical adventures of two friends who are serial cheaters: Fred (Dujardin) can separate feelings for his wife and mistresses, while Greg (Lellouche) is racked with guilt because he loves each woman. So they propose a trip to Las Vegas to get it out of their system. In other clips, Laurent (Dujardin) tries to stray while attending a conference away from home, Eric (Lellouche) struggles to cope with the partying lifestyle of his 19-year-old mistress (Ponsot), and Olivier (Dujardin) and his wife (Lamy) push each other to awkward confessions.
Continue reading: The Players Review
Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche play the unfaithful and sexually obsessed men from the romantic country of France in this racy but hilarious French comedy. With the theme of sexual infidelity being the movie's core subject, we see the primal instincts take place in every part of their lives; hotels, sex addiction clinics, glamorous nightclubs in Paris and Sin City itself, Las Vegas. From ridiculous excuses to time honoured tricks, these men will say and do anything to live a sexually absorbed life kept apart from suspicious partners.
Continue: Players Trailer
Many a confused moviegoer has already asked me what the heck this film is about, since the trailer makes it out to be something akin to, er, Lord of the Flies. The movie, based on the novel by Alex Garland, traces the Thailand trip of young Richard (DiCaprio), who in Bangkok encounters a crazy guy named Daffy (Carlyle, who has nary an understandable line of dialogue in the whole movie).
Continue reading: The Beach Review
A smash hit in its native France, "Love Me If You Dare" is a precariously bold, dark but light-hearted comedy about a boy and a girl who grow up together challenging each other to more and more outrageous -- and sometimes even dangerous -- dares.
It's a game they play throughout their lives, much to the frustration and chagrin of parents, teachers, co-workers, lovers, spouses, and increasingly, each other. But it's a game so engrained in the personalities and self-identities of intellectual Julien (Guillaume Canet) and precocious Sophie (Marion Cotillard) that neither one is willing to back down and admit what's really going on -- namely that they're in love.
Trading a knocked-about carousel candy tin back and forth as a symbol of each challenge and a trophy of its completion, the game begins as a welcome distraction from trouble in their childhoods (although every dare seems to get them in more trouble). In their teens it becomes an excuse for embarrassments, pranks and sexual provocation, and in adulthood the dares devolve into emotionally dangerous symbols of their envy, disappointment and disapproval.
Continue reading: Love Me If You Dare Review
One would think that edgy, hallucinogenic "Trainspotting" team of Danny Boyle (director) and John Hodge (screenwriter) would be a perfect pair to adapt "The Beach," prodigy-novelist Alex Garland's edgy, hallucinogenic, travelogue about Southeast Asian adventure gone awry for a GenX-er with wanderlust.
Such a marriage of sensation-spawning literary innovation and cinematic audacity should, at the very least, produce a film that is engrossing, if not hypnotic.
But it appears 20th Century Fox put Boyle on a pretty short leash after investing $20 million to secure Leonardo DiCaprio for the movie's lead, because on film the final product is an utterly common and uninvolving amalgam of paradise photography, detached pop psychology and watered-down danger.
Continue reading: The Beach Review
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