Julian Sands and Evgenia Citkowit - Shot of celebrities as they took to the red carpet for the 24th Annual Literary Awards Festival which were held at the PEN Center in Los Angeles, California, United States - Tuesday 11th November 2014
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) continues to explore experimental styles of cinema (see Timecode or Hotel) with this playful in-joke about the act of artistic creation. It's an ambitious idea that never quite overcomes the indulgent approach, but the gimmicky touches and mysterious noir vibe hold our interest even if the characters are never very clearly developed.
At the centre is screenwriter Martin (Koch), who lectures at a London film school as his long-awaited new script is finally going into production. His daughter Sarah (Night) has landed a lead role in the film, and Martin celebrates this with her at her 25th birthday. He also becomes fascinated by her friend Angelique (Verbeek), who turns up dead in a canal the next morning, leaving him as the prime suspect. A police inspector (Cranham) is especially suspicious since Martin's wife (Fox in flashback) went missing 15 years ago. Then Angelique's twin Therese (also Verbeek) turns up to twist things further.
Figgis continually throws us out of the story by referring to the film within the film. For example, characters are continually picking up movie scripts that describe them picking up movie scripts. And Figgis further tweaks us with on-screen captions, split-screen angles and movie-set camera gags, plus of course the fact that a central character is an identical twin. But because of all of this self-referential trickery, we can never engage with the story or characters at all.
Continue reading: Suspension Of Disbelief Review
Sadly, there has been such a glut of gun-packed London crime thrillers, that it simply isn't enough to make one that looks good and has a fierce energy: you need a solidly structured plot that goes somewhere unexpected. And that's where this film struggles. It's slick and atmospheric, with a terrific cast, but the story is so overcomplicated that it's almost impossible for us to maintain any interest in what happens.
At the centre is Detective Parker (Sewell), a shifty cop who's playing a very dangerous game as he tries to crush mobster Corso (Byrne) by undermining his cash-flow and threatening his son (Mascolo). Parker gets help from his rather reluctant partner Sands (Maynard), but rookie Riley (Gregory) is horrified to see the corruption he has wandered into. Then the efficient hitman Riley (Stephens) walks straight into the middle of everything, unaware of what's going on. He hides out with an old friend (Paraky) whose husband was also caught in the crossfire. And none of them realises that they're on a deadly collision course.
Isaac has a superb eye for catching London on-screen, using striking iconic locations and placing the action within the sweeping scale of the city. But his overuse of shoot-outs and car chases makes it feel deeply implausible. And his screenplay makes little concession to the audience, as dialog is peppered with references to earlier events we know nothing about. Clearly there are all kinds of interconnections between these people, but it's impossible to untangle them so that things make sense. Much more interesting is the way everyone gets caught up in the moral ambiguity of each decision they must make.
Continue reading: All Things To All Men Review
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist for Sweden's 'Millenium' magazine, a monthly publication that has a decent amount of readers. After publishing a shocking expos' on a billionaire businessman, he is sued for libel but loses the highly publicised case and is sentenced to three months in prison.
Continue: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trailer
If you recalled fondly the line that Nelson said in an episode of The Simpsons after Bart uses a fake ID to get into this film ("I'll tell you two things wrong with that title"), then you're like most of America. I knew a little bit more coming in: that it was based on a novel by William S. Burroughs that is the quintessence of non-linear narrative and that it was directed by David Cronenberg.
Continue reading: Naked Lunch Review
Vatel is the central character in a critical weekend in French history (way back in 1671). Played by Gérard Depardieu, Vatel is the chief steward at the mansion of the Prince de Condé, a now penniless French nobleman whose last-ditch effort is to invite King Louis XIV to his estate for the weekend, through a rager of a party, and win the king's favor in order to get the post as general in the upcoming war against the Dutch.
Continue reading: Vatel Review
Yikes! This marginal flick puts detective Mel Gibson in charge of investigating the murder of a billionnaire's son in a wacky hotel overrun by mental patients who can't afford the regular nut bin. And well, that's about all there is to tell, except that the title was once The Billion Dollar Hotel. That's a big downgrade.
Continue reading: The Million Dollar Hotel Review
At its heart, the movie is a haunted house flick in the vein of recent films like House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts, albeit one that takes a long time to get going, a long time to build up a story, and a long time to get over with. But they had a lot of commercials to sell, so who can fault them, huh?
Continue reading: Rose Red Review
Figgis, who earned a Best Director Oscar nomination for Leaving Las Vegas in 1996, appears to have gone a little funny in the head last year with his inexplicable and nearly dialogue-free The Loss of Sexual Innocence. Now he's fully gone off the deep end with what may be the most ambitious experiment ever: Time Code.
Continue reading: Time Code Review
When Jackie Chan was in his low-budget, Hong Kong action-comedy prime, it was easy to forgive his better movies for simplistic plots and mediocre (sometimes downright bad) acting because enjoying them came down to two things: Chan's comedic charm and the dangerous, awe-inspiring, ingeniously choreographed fights and stunts that he always performed himself.
When Chan started making $60- to $100- million Hollywood films, it was reasonable to begin expecting more, but the star just hasn't lived up to those higher expectations except when sharing the load with ad-libbing, scene-stealing Owen Wilson in the buddy pictures "Shanghai Noon" and "Shanghai Knights."
But "The Medallion," which is a Hong Kong production made with Hollywood money, feels like the return of good ol' cheesy, charismatic, pardonably haphazard Jackie Chan -- even if the daredevil actor has finally begun accepting the inevitable ravages of age and injury.
Continue reading: The Medallion Review
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