Utterly bonkers, this movie confounds any attempt to categorise it, blending comedy, romance, horror and drama to become a true one-off. And it maintains such a darkly playful tone that it's impossible not to smile even as things turn rather hideously nasty. Against all odds, these contradicting moods come together into something surprisingly involving, thanks to skilled director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) and clever writer Michael R. Perry. Their approach is so inventive that it's impossible to guess what might happen next.
Set in a small industrial town, the story centres on Jerry (Ryan Reynolds), who was set up with a job in a bathtub factory after his release from a psychiatric institute. Overseen by therapist (Jacki Weaver), Jerry is settling in nicely. He has a crush on Fiona (Gemma Arterton) in accounting, even though it's actually her office colleague Lisa (Anna Kendrick) who likes him. But no one realises that he has gone off his meds and is starting to listen to advice coming from his lovable dog Bosco and his evil cat Mr Whiskers. What they tell him to do is pretty horrific, but he thinks that this is the only way to get his life back on track.
Where the plot goes is seriously grisly, but it's played out by the cast and filmmakers in a blackly comical way that's highly stylised, seeing everything through Jerry's warped perspective. The question is whether he's a serial killer, an insane criminal or an emotionally tormented young man. Whatever, the film is a remarkably internalised exploration of mental illness, because the tone refuses to let us off the hook. And because all of the performances are riotously funny, bridging the gaps between the humour, romance and violence.
Continue reading: The Voices Review
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is just a normal guy. Well, that might not be totally correct - while he is chipper and happy, he is also incredibly mentally unstable. While the people he works with at the bathtub factory think he is just a happy-go-lucky guy, Jerry is steadily trying to stop taking his anti-psychotic medication, and this has led to him believing that his cat and dog are talking to him. After a co-worker (Gemma Arterton) stands him up for a date, Mr. Whiskers the cat convinces him to become a serial killer, despite the dog's better judgement. As Jerry steadily gets further and further down the rabbit hole, his conscience (in the form of his cat and dog) battle for control over whether or not he will just give up and go totally crazy.
Continue: The Voices Trailer
After the high of last year's Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen is back in playful mode for this rather goofy comedy, which only works for audience members willing to abandon their cynicism and just go with the flow. A solid cast makes the most of Allen's cleverly barbed dialogue, even if the performances and filmmaking sometimes feel a bit slapdash. And Allen's deeper existential themes add a hint of depth to the silliness.
It opens in 1928 Berlin, as the magician Stanley (Colin Firth) is convinced by his friend Howard (Simon McBurney) to travel to the South of France to debunk a young American mystic named Sophie (Emma Stone), who has a wealthy family in her thrall. Not only has Sophie convinced the matriarch (Jacki Weaver) that she can communicate with her dead husband, but she has also attracted the puppy-dog devotion of Brice (Hamish Linklater), the sweetly dim heir to the family fortune. But no matter how hard Stanley tries, he can't prove that Sophie is a fraud, and accepting her supernatural powers completely upends his relentlessly pessimistic view of humanity. Although it's even trickier to convince himself that he might be falling for Sophie.
Allen sets all of this up in a very simple way, prodding Firth to a hilariously ridiculous performance as a repressed Englishman for whom life has to be completely rational. Facing him off against Stone's young, free-flowing American is a bit obvious, but the script makes sure that their barbed banter overflows with witty repartee. This includes astute commentary on Allen's favourite theme: exploring the meaning of life through the contradictory blending of science, religion and human emotion. So even if the performances are rather oddly matched, Firth and Stone find some superb chemistry along the way. Although the snappiest role belongs to Eileen Atkins, as Stanley's beloved aunt, who has a wonderfully dry way of speaking the truth.
Continue reading: Magic In The Moonlight Review
Steven (Ryan Phillip) and Shannon (Rachelle Lefevre) want nothing more than to have a child of their own. After some deliberation, the couple decide to adopt a child from Haiti, although when she goes missing the same evening, they realise that things are not as they seem. After consulting the local police, they discover that this known practice of 'reclaiming' is a scam, set up to take large amounts of money from wealthy individuals. Soon, the couple begin to spiral further into the seedy underworld of child trafficking as they battle against the sinister Benjamin (John Cusack) to keep either their money or their lives.
Continue: Reclaim Trailer
Stanley is a talented magician who goes by the name of Wei Ling Soo professionally, and he is also a renowned cynic. One day, an associate enlists him to help him expose a self-proclaimed spirit medium named Sophie living in the South of France and he decides to travel over, convinced that he will easily debunk her. Despite everyone around her insisting that she has displayed psychic abilities beyond anyone's comprehension, Stanley is determined to force her to reveal her deceptive secrets, but on meeting her it seems that he also is captivated. Extremely beautiful, Sophie becomes something of a love interest for Stanley and, in spite of his initial doubts, he too finds himself unable to explain some of the extraordinary feats Sophie is demonstrating, and he starts to wonder if the world really is full of magic.
Continue: Magic In The Moonlight Trailer
Emma Stone and Colin Firth thrive in 1920s France in this sophisticated and spellbinding comedy drama.
The trailer has been released for Woody Allen's bewitching new comedy drama, Magic in the Moonlight, which stars The Amazing Spider-Man's Emma Stone alongside The King's Speech star Colin Firth in a movie set in 1920s Europe.
Emma Stone Dazzles As The Bewitching Sophie In The 'Magic In The Moonlight' Trailer.
Set for release throughout summer and early fall 2014, Magic in the Moonlight stars Firth as Stanley, a man who poses as an Asian magician whilst secretly trying to debunk fake spiritualists. He is directed to the South of France where his assignment is to unmask a purported spiritual medium named Sophie (Stone), who has been mystifying people with her seemingly otherworldly skills.
This starry drama has documentary realism going for it, although without a single well-developed character it never finds any resonance. By recounting JFK's assassination from a variety of previously unseen angles, we learn some new things about that fateful day in November 1963. Oddly, the script doesn't even focus on the hospital that gives the film its name. That might have helped give the film some focus.
We watch the shooting in Dallas through the eyes of Abraham Zapruder (Giamatti), famously the only person to capture the event on film. He is immediately contacted by a Secret Service agent (Thornton), who helps him process the film and make copies. Meanwhile at Parkland Hospital, two residents (Efron and Hanks) and a tenacious nurse (Harden) are working against the odds to save Kennedy's life. And elsewhere, an FBI agent (Livingston) is following the trail of the shooter, whose brother and mother (Dale and Weaver) have very different reactions to what has just happened.
Writer-director Landesman jumps straight into the events without properly establishing the characters. But it's impossible to feel emotion when we don't know anything about the people we're watching, and we can't feel suspense when we know what's going to happen. So we're left to soak up the details, which are often fascinating (ever wonder how to get a coffin into a plane?). And while the actors are good enough to play the intensity of each scene for all it's worth, the only ones who register with us are Giamatti and Dale, because what their characters go through is more complex than we expect.
Continue reading: Parkland Review
On November 22nd 1963 in Dallas, Texas, the hugely adored President John F. Kennedy was shot to death as he arrived in the city with First Lady Jackie Kennedy. A women's clothing manufacturer named Abraham Zapruder had no idea of the events that would unfold as he set up his camera preparing for Kennedy's arrival; no idea that his footage would be seen by millions repeatedly as the only visual evidence for what took place that day. Few people know anything about this man, or indeed the other people who ended up becoming involved in this historic tragedy, such as the doctors and nurses who were forced to perform immediate life-saving attempts even with their initial shock and devastation, and the family of alleged killer US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald.
This historical drama tells the stories of the lesser known figures who became involved with one of the most famous assassinations in the history of the world ahead its 50th anniversary. It has been directed and written by Peter Landesman who is best known for his sex slavery article 'The Girls Next Door' which was published in the New York Times. 'Parkland' will be released in UK theatres on November 8th 2013.
When Abraham Zapruder, a women's clothing manufacturer from Texas, excitedly set up his camera to record the grand arrival of the much-loved President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy in Dallas on November 22nd 1963, he had no idea that he would in fact record one of the most shocking and most watched films in history when the President was fatally shot by a nearby gunman. He became one of a string of unlikely individuals to get involved in one of the world's most publicised assassination cases, along with all the doctors and nurses who were forced to overcome the shock when Kennedy was rushed to Parkland Hospital; the family of the alleged killer, US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald; and those FBI agents who could've prevented the incident when they had Oswald in their grasp.
'Parkland' is a new historical drama about one of the most famous assassinations in history which is set for release ahead of the event's 50th anniversary. It has been directed and written by Peter Landesman who is controversially best known for his New York Times article on sex slavery 'The Girls Next Door' which he later turned into a film called 'Trades' and which was publicly accused of being at least partly fictitious. 'Parkland' is set to be released in the UK on November 8th 2013.
You could argue that this film is all lurid style over substance, but there's actually a lot going on behind the stunningly gorgeous imagery. Korean director Park (Oldboy) beings his lavish visual approach to this Hitchcockian story about a family infiltrated by a predator. Packed with references to iconic movies and books, the film is heightened and deranged, and its intense moodiness gets under the skin.
It centres on 18-year-old India Stoker (Wasikowska), distraught after the death of her beloved father (Mulroney). Without him to soften her, she's also even angrier than usual at her needy mother Evie (Kidman). Then the charming, handsome Uncle Charlie (Goode) turns up at the funeral and moves in to help them grieve. Actually he seems to be trying to seduce Evie, who is flattered by his attention. But the housekeeper (Somerville) and an auntie (Weaver) don't stick around long enough to see what's really going on, and it becomes clear that Charlie actually has his sights set on India.
Both the script and the direction continually echo familiar literary and cinematic icons, from the family's name to the Shakespearean family plot to the prowling interloper (see Robert Mitchum in the 1950s classic The Night of the Hunter). Director Park's camera prowls through the house like a ghost, catching tiny details in every lushly designed scene while finding all kinds of shadings in the performances. Wasikowska is terrific as the sensitive, rather cruel young woman at the centre of the storm, while Kidman steals her scenes with a haunted, conflicted performance. Between them, Goode is almost painfully seductive. And clearly dangerous.
Continue reading: Stoker Review