It's the early 1940s and World War II is in full swing. Bombs are raining down on London in the Blitzkrieg threatening to tear the country in two, but the British are made of sturdier stuff. Catrin Cole is a writer who comes to realise that the absence of ambitious young men in the workplace due to recruitment into the army has opened a door for her. She is appointed by the film division of the Ministry of Information to write the supplementary women's dialogue of a new propaganda film about Dunkirk, however she is told that she'll get no screen credit and won't be paid as much as her male counterparts. She goes one step further and writes the whole script, impressing all involved if leaving them a little indignant. Plus, she finds an unlikely ally in an aging film star named Ambrose Hilliard, who longs for the days he had major roles.
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Elizabeth Sloane is a lobbyist and often finds herself facing off against some of the most important politicians in America. She's a consummate professional and is often taken as cold and calculating but these elements of her personality only work to her benefit.
In many ways, being a successful lobbyist is like being a chess champion, you always must have the foresight to be at least one step ahead of your opponent and making sure they don't see your moves coming - and if they do, making equally sure that you have a counter measure in place.
After years of success, Elizabeth decides that her time has come to take on one of the biggest challenges; the Gun control laws and Elizabeth soon becomes aware at just what lengths people will go to in order to protect their second amendment right.
There isn't much originality in this rude female-led comedy, but its observations on single life are a nicely updated twist on the Sex and the City formula. The film is also often very funny, keeping the energy levels high while refusing to go down the usual narrative route in each of the loosely intertwined plot-strands.
It's set in New York, of course, where Alice (Dakota Johnson) is newly single and starting a new job. Her colleague Robin (Rebel Wilson) takes her under her wing, teaching her how to be single in the big city. Alice's sister Meg (Leslie Mann) is a maternity doctor who's suddenly feeling the need to have a child of her own. Then just as she becomes pregnant using a sperm bank, she meets the outrageously charming Ken (Jake Lacy), who she thinks might be too young for her. Meanwhile, Alice's neighbour Lucy (Alison Brie) is flirting with the womanising local barman Tom (Anders Holm) as she looks for her perfect man.
Yes, this is another movie in which women define themselves by their aching need for a man. This kind of undermines the "you have to be happy on your own" message, although at least the three main romantic-comedy plots don't fit into the usual cliched structure. The film is packed with frank, girly conversations, exploring how it feels to be single in a society in which coupling up is seen as the ultimate goal. So while commenting on every possible aspect of sex and relationships, the script also tries to say that it's perfectly fine to remain happily unattached. Thankfully, the cast is grounded enough to balance the comedy and romance in realistic situations. Johnson, Brie and Mann all deliver funny, revealing performances as smart women who make silly decisions. Wilson, by contrast, is mere comic relief in the same role she always plays.
Continue reading: How To Be Single Review
This may look like it's going to be a zany Christmas romp, but it's really a warm exploration of family connections, essentially an American take on Love Actually's multi-strand comedy-drama. At least it has an unusually strong cast and moments of hilarity scattered throughout the story. And while it's never very deep, the themes are strongly resonant.
The Cooper family is gathering for what Charlotte (Diane Keaton) hopes will be one last perfect Christmas together. She knows that her 40-year marriage to Sam (John Goodman) is on the brink, but is ignoring that to plan a massive dinner. Their son Hank (Ed Helms) is stinging from divorce and unemployment, while daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) has picked up a hunky soldier (Jake Lacy) in the airport and asks him to pose as her boyfriend so her family will stop asking about her love life. Meanwhile, Charlotte's father Bucky (Alan Arkin) is trying to cheer up his favourite waitress (Amanda Seyfried), and Charlotte's sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) is delayed when a cop (Anthony Mackie) arrests her for shoplifting.
Narrated with wry joviality by Steve Martin, the interwoven stories are fairly simplistic, but each touches a raw nerve. And the above-average cast brings out the underlying themes without overplaying their scenes. Keaton and Goodman add subtle shades to the slightly undemanding central roles, while Arkin finds a couple of new textures to his usual twinkly grandad persona. Helms and Wilde strike the right balance in their intriguingly unlikeable roles, while Tomei gets the most complex character as a woman who feels like she's merely watched her life drift along. By contrast, the outsiders played by Seyfried, Lacy and Mackie are much less defined, but each actor brings just enough magnetic energy. The most wasted performer is June Squibb, as a ditzy old aunt who's little more than the requisite gross-out relative.
Continue reading: Love The Coopers (aka Christmas With The Coopers) Review
As in his gorgeous film Far From Heaven and TV series Mildred Pierce, filmmaker Todd Haynes tells a simple story with visual impact and thematic resonance. All three of these projects centre on characters who feel like outsiders in their societies, offering staggeringly complex roles for Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet and now Cate Blanchett. This one is also based on a Patricia Highsmith novel (published originally as The Price of Salt), so it has an added layer of underlying intensity.
The story is set in the run-up to Christmas 1952, as New York department store clerk Therese (Rooney Mara) becomes intrigued by Carol (Blanchett), a glamorous customer who seems unusually attentive. Therese finds a reason to contact her, and the two become friends despite the difference in age and class. Meanwhile, Carol is trying to extricate herself from her marriage to Harge (Kyle Chandler), who is still feeling wounded by Carol's relationship with another woman (Sarah Paulson) and threatens to use her friendship with Therese to deny custody of their young daughter. And Therese also has a nice-guy suitor in Richard (Jake Lacy), who is becoming increasingly suspicious. With all of this pressure on them, Carol and Therese make an impulsive decision to take a road trip together.
The events unfold with delicate precision, as Phyllis Nagy's script smartly allows these woman to circle around each other trying to work out how they feel. There's a gun-in-the-suitcase element that adds a bit of spark, but the real story here plays out between the lines in exquisite performances from Blanchett and Mara, who convey most of their feelings through offhanded glances and subtle gestures. This adds beautifully to the depiction of the period's repressive attitudes without ever being obvious about it, and it also reveals the deep emotions that come with feeling like you don't fit in with what society expects of you.
Continue reading: Carol Review
Jake Lacy, June Squibb, Jessie Nelson, John Goodman, Blake Baumgartner, Anthony Mackie, Olivia Wilde, Alex Borstein, Diane Keaton , Dan Amboyer - Premiere Of CBS Films' "Love The Coopers" at Park Plaza - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 12th November 2015
Charlotte Cooper is the family matriarch and all she wants is for her family to be together at Christmas. All her children are now grown up and some have kids of their own. Like most families, their bond over the years might've loosened slightly as day to day life gets in the way but Christmas is different, it's a time to reunite and enjoy the holidays together.
Easier said than done with the Cooper's. Charlotte and her husband have decided to divorce (a secret they plan on keeping from the family as to not destroy the family break) their oldest daughter lives in another state, is out of work and has been dumped by her partner and is hates the idea of going home and facing the family whilst their son is currently dealing with his daughters back-chatting ways. As many problems are there are, there must be a way through in the spirit of Christmas.
Director Jessie Nelson has described The Coopers as The Christmas Von Trapp family commenting: "I like to say The Coopers are The von Trapps of this Christmas. They are the von Coopers,"
Charlotte Cooper is determined to make this Christmas the best holiday the family has ever had, given that it's the only time of year when everyone's together. But, of course, while she and husband Sam are struggling to get everything perfect, everyone is equally struggling with other areas of their lives. Daughter Eleanor has been single for a while now, and the last thing she wants to do is arrive home without a boyfriend - again! And so, she convinces a soldier she meets at the airport to accompany her to her Christmas family reunion and pretend to be her partner, to which he reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, the other daughter, Emma, gets in trouble with the police for jewel theft, and their son Hank has his work cut out when it comes to caring for his young daughter Madison alone; especially when she starts to learn some seriously unfriendly words.
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Therese Belivet is just starting out in life, bored by her simple job in a department store and even more so by her relationship with Richard. She dreams of bigger things; a career as a set designer and experiencing true love. Love has never found its way into Therese's life, that is until she meets a privileged and sophisticated older woman named Carol with whom she immediately bonds. While Carol's life is the opposite of Therese's in that she enjoys luxury on an everyday basis, she is equally dismayed by her love life; trapped in a marriage with a man she does not love, so that she may continue seeing her young daughter. As her relationship with Therese deepens, their attraction for each other becomes clear to everyone else, as well as Carol's intriguing friendship with close companion Abby, and she faces losing everything in her quest to discover herself once and for all.
Continue: Carol Trailer
It's 1952 and 20-something Therese Belivet is struggling to contend with her humdrum life working in a New York department store, repulsed by her relationship with a man named Richard and dreaming of a career in set design. Soon she meets a customer named Carol; an older, refined and supremely elegant woman who she immediately forms a connection with. Carol herself is in a marriage that brings her no joy and is hoping desperately for a divorce, but this only seems to threaten her relationship with her daughter, whom she cannot afford to lose. Meanwhile, Therese is struggling to control her feelings for Carol; torn between admiration, deep sexual attraction and jealousy over Carol's history with her best friend Abby. It's a difficult time for both parties as they attempt to find order in their feelings in a decade not altogether supportive of their closeness.
Continue: Carol - Clips
An inventive take on the rom-com genre, this genuinely hilarious film is even more engaging because its characters and premise are unexpectedly honest. It also has a level of realistic unpredictability, as the feisty characters refuse to behave like the people we normally see in the movies. And the story is consistently laugh-out-loud funny even as the plot is essentially very serious.
It centres on struggling stand-up comic Donna (Jenny Slate), whose regular venue is an open-mic bar in Brooklyn where she's offered moral support by her sparky pals Nellie and Joey (Gaby Hoffmann and Gabe Liedman). She may not make much money, but she has a great life. Her boyfriend (Paul Briganti), on the other hand, is tired of being the butt of all of her best jokes. So he dumps her. Donna reacts by having a meltdown on-stage and then getting drunk in another bar with Max (Jake Lacy). He may be a stranger, but he seems like a nice guy, so she takes him home. A few weeks later she discovers that she's pregnant, and her emotionally supportive friends and parents (Polly Draper and Richard Kind) can't help her make the big decisions ahead of her.
This is a film about a young woman finally taking responsibility for her own life, facing up to some difficult responsibilities and moving forward. But since this is a comedy, it's of course not very smooth sailing. Slate plays the role with impeccable comical timing, somehow making the rather pathetic Donna thoroughly likeable. And the actors around her add crisp humour exactly where its needed, providing much more than mere comic relief: each one is an integral element in Donna's journey. One of the most cringe-inducing sequences features the terrific David Cross as a predatory old friend who offers Donna a riotously messy distraction.
Continue reading: Obvious Child Review
It's the early 1940s and World War II is in full swing. Bombs are raining...
Elizabeth Sloane is a lobbyist and often finds herself facing off against some of the...
There isn't much originality in this rude female-led comedy, but its observations on single life...
When Alice finds herself single after her last relationship comes to an end, her friend...
This may look like it's going to be a zany Christmas romp, but it's really...
As in his gorgeous film Far From Heaven and TV series Mildred Pierce, filmmaker Todd...
Charlotte Cooper is the family matriarch and all she wants is for her family to...
Charlotte Cooper is determined to make this Christmas the best holiday the family has ever...
It's 1952 and 20-something Therese Belivet is struggling to contend with her humdrum life working...
An inventive take on the rom-com genre, this genuinely hilarious film is even more engaging...
Donna Stern is a comedienne from Brooklyn who has a very unfunny meltdown on stage...