An arch approach makes this bonkers thriller rather enjoyable, even if it never quite cracks the surface. The story comes from the Edgar Allan Poe story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, written in 1845, so director Brad Anderson (The Call) has fashioned the movie as bit of riotous Victorian mental institution nuttiness. Cue the mad-eyed acting, gothic production design and ludicrously batty plot. But if you take it for what it is, it's pretty entertaining.
It takes place in December 1999, as the new century is about to dawn and young doctor Edward (Jim Sturgess) arrives at Stonehearst Lunatic Asylum in a freakishly isolated corner of England. Instantly smitten with the inmate Eliza (Kate Beckinsale), Edward struggles to concentrate on the tasks given to him by his sinister boss Silas (Ben Kingsley), while being constantly watched over by the glowering groundsman Mickey Finn (David Thewlis). Silas' revolutionary system of treatment involves indulging the patients in their specific delusions, which has created a deranged sense of community in the sprawling hospital. Then one night stumbling around in the darkness, Edward discovers a group of people locked in prison cells in the basement, and their leader Benjamin (Michael Caine) claims to be the true head doctor. Yes, the inmates have taken over the asylum!
This premise allows the cast to indulge in a variety of hilariously shifty performances, hamming up every scene with constant innuendo. There isn't anyone in this place who looks remotely sane. Sturgess is fine as the dull Edward, while Beckinsale keeps her character's madness just out of sight, so both of them pale in this colourful company. Kingsley and Caine camp it up marvellously, while Thewlis adds a strong sense of menace and Sophie Kennedy Clark almost steals the film as an amusingly sex-mad virginal nurse. It's also worth watching the background players, as each has a ball his or her brand of craziness.
Continue reading: Stonehearst Asylum Review
Bizarrely, this Dutch film tries desperately to wedge true events into the shape of an American thriller, but the action sequences are so lacklustre that a fascinating story ends up feeling dull and pointless. It's even been rewritten in English, using a random range of British, Australian and European accents. So while the plot manages to just about hold the interest, the film drags out the story and struggles to find any point of emotional resonance.
This is about the largest ransom ever paid, in 1982 Amsterdam. Faced with the collapse of their construction company, Cor, Willem, Jan and Frans (Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten and Mark van Eeuwen) make a desperate decision to risk everything by kidnapping the billionaire head of the Heineken beer empire, Freddy (Anthony Hopkins), demanding a $60 million ransom. They manage to get him into their hideout, but are frustrated as the days drag into weeks while the police fret about the case, believing that they are dealing with a major international crime ring. The question is whether these amateurs can maintain their cool and pull this off.
Further wrinkles are supplied by the fact that Cor is expecting a baby with his girlfriend (Jemima West), who happens to be Willem's sister. This creates an intriguing dynamic between the two men, so the relationship depicted by Sturgess and Worthington is by far the most compelling thing about the film. Meanwhile, Hopkins does his best to walk off with the movie in a superbly relaxed turn as a cocky, demanding victim who's more concerned about his also-abducted chauffeur (David Dencik) than himself. All of these elements have the potential to add tension and intrigue to the movie, but British writer William Brookfield and Swedish director Daniel Alfredson never bother to properly deepen most of the characters or situations, while continually watering things down with under-powered chase sequences.
Continue reading: Kidnapping Freddy Heineken Review
Chris Pratt is bulking up for his role in the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Chris Pratt, the 34-year-old actor who has bagged himself some pretty tasty roles in recent years, is bulking up for his role in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Pratt is the latest movie star to undergo a dramatic physical transformation and posted his progress in an Instragram photo this week.
It's not the first time the Parks and Recreation actor has changed weight for a movie role - he sported a hugely toned physique for his role as a member of Seal Team Six in Kathyn Bigelow's Osama Bin Laden movie 'Zero Dark Thirty' last year.
Continue reading: Guardians of the Galaxy: Is Chris Pratt The Next Big Hollywood Star?
Glenn Close will play a role similar to Samuel L Jackson's in The Avengers.
Well this is a surprising casting, though one that sort of makes a ton of sense. According to the Deadline.com, Marvel Studios has landed Oscar winning actress Glenn Close to play a major new role in its latest franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy. The actress will reportedly play a leadership role in Nova Corp, the intergalactic space control.
The new James Gunn-directed movie goes into production next month, so Marvel have left it late to cast what is essentially a major role. The movie already boasts a pretty decent looking cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker and John C. Reilly. Pratt landed the lead role following a search that included Marvel looking at Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Jim Sturgess and Eddie Redmayne.
Sources tell Deadline that Close's role will be the closest thing to the one that Samuel L. Jackson plays in The Avengers, though perhaps with more of an edge. Close has proven she can play the hardnosed character in the likes of Damages, Fatal Attraction and, err, 101 Dalmatians and we see her being a real hit in Guardians.
Continue reading: Glenn Close To Play Top Cop In Marvel's 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'
Mad geniuses Tom Tykwer (Perfume) and the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) boldly take on David Mitchell's layered epic novel, which connects six generations through the power of storytelling. The film takes so many huge risks that it's breathtaking to watch even when it stumbles. And as each tale is passed on to the next generation, the swirling themes get under the skin.
The six stories are interlinked in a variety of ways, transcending time to find common themes. On a ship in 1849, a seriously ill American lawyer (Sturgess) shows kindness to a stowaway ex-slave (Gyasi). In 1936 Edinburgh, a great composer (Broadbent) hires a musician (Whishaw) to transcribe his work, then tries to steal the young man's magnificent Cloud Atlas symphony. In 1973 San Francisco, a Latina journalist (Berry) gets a tip about dodgy goings on in a local nuclear power plant. In present-day London, a publisher (Broadbent) is trapped in a nursing home by his brother (Grant) and plots a daring escape. In 2144 Neo Soul, an official (D'Arcy) interrogates a replicant (Bae) who started a rebellion alongside a notorious rebel (Sturgess). And in a distant stone-age future, an island goatherd (Hanks) teams up with an off-worlder (Berry) when they're attacked by a warlord (Grant).
While the themes in this film are eerily involving, what makes this film unmissable is the way the entire cast turns up in each of the six story strands, changing age, race and gender along the way. Even so, they're essential variations on each other. Weaving is always a nemesis, whether he's a hitman, a demon or a nasty nurse. Hanks' characters are always strong-willed and often badly misguided. Grant goes against type to play sinister baddies. And D'Arcy is the only actor who plays the same character in two segments, as Whishaw's 1930s young lover and Berry's 1970s elderly informant. Meanwhile, each segment plays with a different genre: seafaring epic, twisted drama, political mystery, action comedy, sci-fi thriller and gritty adventure.
Continue reading: Cloud Atlas Review
The makers of Cloud Atlas have come under fire from the Media Action Network For Asian Americans after applying make-up to white Caucasian actors to make them appear more Asian in spite of the film being set in South Korea, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The storyline is set in the year 2144, but we’re pretty sure South Koreans will still be South Koreans then, and not Americans living out there having to apply make-up every morning. The MANAA fumed “In the modern age of movie make up, it is disturbing to see poorly done Asian eye prosthetics to make Caucasian men look Asian.” Continuing, they added "Cloud Atlas missed a great opportunity. The Korea story’s protagonist is an Asian man - an action hero who defies the odds and holds off armies of attackers.”
"He’s the one who liberates [a clone played by actress] Doona Bae from her repressive life and encourages her to join the resistance against the government. It would have been a great, stereotype-busting role for an Asian American actor to play, as Asian American men aren’t allowed to be dynamic or heroic very often." In the film it is actually Jim Sturgess who plays the lead, whilst Hugo Weaving and James D’Arcy have also been cast as Asian actors. It is baffling that, considering blacking up was deemed distasteful years ago, there’s been less of a grumble about this.
With his upcoming film, Cloud Atlas ready for release later this month, one of the film’s stars, Tom Hanks, has alluded to the deep plotline that runs through the book adaptation and said that the film is as “risky as Inception” was when it was release in 2010.
Hanks was plugging his new film during a chat with Canadian paper The Montreal Gazette, when he brought up the Christopher Nolan film, suggesting that it was the closest thing to compare to his latest movie outing. Cloud Atlas follows the intertwining lives of a massive cast that drifts between centuries both past and present, examining the impact of fate on good and bad behaviour.
In his discussion, he not only had praises to sing for Brit-director Nolan, but also his three “bold” directors for the upcoming project; Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski. And if three directors were a lot to take on board, then the number of characters the actors have to transform themselves into throughout the film will take some effort to get your heads round too, with Hanks alone taking on 6 different roles.
Continue reading: Cloud Atlas Is As Risky As Inception, Says Tom Hanks
On St Swithin's Day, 15th July, in 1988, Emma (Hathaway) meets Dexter (Sturgess). Both are university students in Edinburgh, and there's a clear spark between them, but circumstances prevent them from becoming a couple. The years pass. Dexter moves from being an annoying TV host to a chef and has a daughter with Sylvie (Garai). Meanwhile, Emma has a career as a teacher and maintains an unsatisfying relationship with Ian (Spall). And they keep running into each other along the way, wondering what might have happened - and may yet happen - if they got together.
Continue reading: One Day Review
In 1939 Poland, Janusz (Sturgess) is charged by the Soviets with spying and sent to a Siberian gulag. In the middle of the bitter winter, he and six other prisoners manage to escape: veteran American (Harris), hothead Russian criminal (Farrell), helpful comic (Bucur), artist (Potodean), nice-guy Latvian (Skarsgard) and night-blind youngster (Urzendowsky). The first 300 miles to Lake Baikal almost kills them, but they've only just begun the 4,000-mile trek to freedom in India. And they've also picked up a young Polish girl (Ronan).
Continue reading: The Way Back Review
Date of birth
16th May, 1981