One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events from the news headlines to tell a raw, deeply involving story that's unnervingly personal. Irish director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Emma Donoghue bring these events to life with uncanny skill, using a young child's perspective to give it an extra-strong kick. And Brie Larson's central performance is so powerful that she's become the one to beat on Oscar night.
She plays Joy, a young woman who was abducted at 17 by a man she only knows as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). The story opens as her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) celebrates his fifth birthday in the single room where he was born and has spent his entire life. There isn't even a window to look out of so, to help him cope, Joy explains that there is no life outside the room, and everything they see on television is fake. She also gets Jack to hide whenever Nick visits, so they can't develop any kind of relationship. But as he grows up, Jack's curiosity demands more answers, and Joy finally decides to tell him the truth in the hope that he can help them escape.
Its halfway into the film when Jack's world is suddenly opened up around him in a rescue sequence that's exhilarating, terrifying and literally breathtaking. And from here, the film gets even more punchy, as Joy and Jack struggle to adapt to life in what seems like an alien landscape. Joy's parents (the great Joan Allen and William H. Macy) have split up, and her mother has a new partner (Tom McCamus), and their reunion is watched closely by the media, police and psychologists. All of this is seen through Jack's curious, observant eyes. Everyone is worried about him, but he perceptively notices that his mother is having even more trouble coping than he is.
Continue reading: Room Review
A young woman and her 5-year-old son Jack live together in a confined, sound-proofed room in the outhouse of Old Nick's backyard. There is nothing but a bed, a bathtub and a few household items inside, with Old Nick making occasional visits when Jack hides away in a wardrobe. The woman was kidnapped seven years ago by Nick, and subsequently raped by him, meaning that Jack knows nothing of life outside the room. He's content with life with his mother, but she has never given up hopes to escape their prison. She hatches a plan for Jack to escape and seek help and the pair are eventually re-united with her mother and father, and given temporary accommodation in hospital. But Jack is barely able to comprehend all the new experiences and longs for the comfort of his dark former home.
Continue: Room Trailer
Joan Allen - A host of stars were photographed as they attended the 2015 Disney Media Distribution International Upfronts event which was held at The Walt Disney Studios Lot in Burbank, California, United States - Monday 18th May 2015
Slick and haunting, this film delves into the things that hold a marriage together in a way only Stephen King would even begin to attempt. It's an involving, clever idea, never quite as deep as it seems to be, but elevated by sharply honest performances by the terrific Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia, with an additional bit of spice from Stephen Lang, playing far against type. Although in the end, it's hard to escape the fact that this is actually just a simplistic, nasty little thriller.
It centres on Darcy and Don (Allen and LaPaglia), a blissfully happy middle-aged couple with grown children (Kristen Connolly and Theo Stockman) who are on the verge of starting families of their own. Then Darcy makes a discovery in the garage that links Don to a series of serial murders terrorising New England. When Don realises that she knows, he says he'll stop the killing if she lets their life go back to normal. But how can it, when she's having terrified fever dreams every night? She can just about hold it together for their kids, but she keeps seeing opportunities to take matters into her own hands. Meanwhile, a shady figure (Lang) seems to be following them.
Yes, King's screenplay is less interested in carrying on with a probing, blackly witty exploration of the stresses of long-term relationships than in making viewers squirm in their seats. And the film certainly does this thanks to another remarkably offhanded performance from Allen. While she sometimes seems a bit panicky and arch, there's real edge to her screen presence. And LaPaglia is superb as the likeable killer who should probably be stopped but is nice to have around the house. Intriguingly, the film doesn't end when we think it will, as the characters have a bit further to go on this grisly little journey.
Continue reading: A Good Marriage Review
The CIA is confronted with the consequences of previous events that have taken place involving Jason Bourne. They decide that they must shut down Operation Outcome (the subsequent operation to Operation Treadstone) which will involve the assassination of Outcome agent Aaron Cross and Doctor Stephanie Snyder who helped produce the agents. They must find an escape or be killed.
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Technically, it's a remake of Paul Bartel's schlocky Death Race 2000 from 1975. But director Paul W.S. Anderson also uses his gig as an excuse to revisit every innocent-man-behind-bars cliché that has been introduced from then 'til now.
Continue reading: Death Race Review
With Nixon, Stone struggles to present a thoughtful biography of one of history's most reviled leaders and the only President in modern times to voluntarily leave office before the end of his term. Richard Nixon of course needs no introduction, and Stone takes a much different approach to the material here than he did with JFK, which remains one of my favorite films ever. Rather than focus on a single incident -- Watergate -- Stone endeavors to encompass Nixon's entire life and career, from his days as a young Quaker (complete with dying brothers) to two big failed runs at political office to the entirety of his troubled political career. All the highlights are here, at least in part: Kent State, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, and of course the tragic events of Watergate.
Continue reading: Nixon Review
In Peter Askin's eponymous paean to Trumbo (based on son Christopher Trumbo's play, which starred Nathan Lane), Trumbo's prickly letters, mined from the 1940s to the 1960s (extracted from the published collection Additional Dialogue), are read by a legion of actors including Lane, Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas, Josh Lucas, Liam Neeson, Brian Dennehy, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, and Paul Giamatti. Interspersed with the recitations are recollections from Trumbo's family, Christopher and daughter Mitzi, and supporters like Kirk Douglas, along with blurry film clips and extracts of interviews with Trumbo himself.
Continue reading: Trumbo Review
A schizoid doppelganger mind-bender wrapped around your standard ticking-bomb scenario (it's hidden somewhere in Los Angeles and could take out the whole basin if detonated -- or something), Face/Off is an utterly lunatic film in the best possible way. Originally a futuristic thriller, the script was retooled for a modern-day setting, keeping several of its sci-fi elements but focusing more intently on its personality-shifting aspects which seemed to come straight out of Woo's international breakthrough, The Killer. An FBI agent, Sean Archer (John Travolta) has been hunting jet-set super-criminal Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) for years. For Archer, it's gone beyond personal to haunted obsession, particularly after Troy tried to shoot Archer but missed and killed his son instead. After a gonzo opening sequence involving a Humvee/private jet showdown on a runway and about ten thousand expended rounds (mostly fired by people flying sideways in slo-mo, of course), Archer's team brings down Troy.
Continue reading: Face/off Review
Coming off last year's abysmally underrated United 93, director Paul Greengrass thankfully returns for his second film in the series about the titular amnesiac CIA-trained assassin (Matt Damon) with identity issues. Although the resulting film is not nearly up to the hard-to-match bar set by the preceding film, The Bourne Supremacy, it's hard to imagine any other director currently working who would be able to keep the relentless pace delivered by Ultimatum. Unfortunately, it's also all too easy to see that the filmmakers and Damon are coasting when they could be soaring.
Continue reading: The Bourne Ultimatum Review
In yet another robust female role, Allen plays Terry Wolfmeyer, a mother of four grown daughters who is consumed with anger after her husband mysteriously abandons his family. Terry's convinced that he's left her for his younger, more beautiful Swedish secretary. Paralyzed by her outrage, the only way Terry is able to deal with the situation is by drinking. Each day, from the time she takes her morning shower to the time goes to bed, Terry has a glass of vodka in her hand ready to drown her sorrows.
Continue reading: The Upside Of Anger Review