Irish-American criminal mastermind Whitey Bulger was arguably one of the most dangerous men in America before his arrest in 2011 at the age of 81. He'd already spent time in Alcatrez as a much younger man, having spent a lot of time on the streets of South Boston. However, by the 70s he proved to be the FBI's best tool in controlling organised crime within the country, and he was eventually persuaded by his friend John Connolly to be their informant in all workings of the rival Italian Mafia. However, it's not safe business being both a highly respected gangster and a police informant, and while much of his activity is being largely ignored as he rises to become top of the Irish Winter Hill Gang, it seems he is gaining too many killings and dodgy dealings under his belt to go unnoticed.
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Jude gets the surprise of his life when his biological father Les shows up at his adoptive mother's house in Vermont, ready to take him to Manhattan and become a real father to him. Jude is reluctant, given his father's questionable lifestyle and his drug-dealing ways, but the prospect of re-connecting with his friends Eliza and Johnny is tempting. Jude has more reason than most to hate the way his father makes money; it's not long since the death of his friend Teddy, who overdosed after a night out; and it's made even worse now that Les is in a relationship with Eliza's rich English mother Di. He has one escape though; his passion for straight-edge hardcore punk is at an all-time high and now that he's back with his friends, he can seize his guitar and play away the angst. Unfortunately, his peace isn't very long-lasting, because Eliza has one bombshell to drop that no-one was expecting - and it's going to change everything.
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Sometimes, the greatest hiding place is in plain sight. For twelve years from the mid-1990s, he was the FBI's second most wanted fugitive, behind Osama Bin Laden. Throughout the 1970s, he was an FBI informant, revealing information to bring down an Italian American crime family, and he was the brother of a US senator. But really, his informant years were to stop another family from invading his own turf. Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) was one of the most brutal and violent criminals in Boston, being the secret puppet master behind one of the most dangerous crime families in history.
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Tracy Letts adapts his own prize-winning play into a blistering depiction of one of cinema's most dysfunctional families ever. It's still rather theatrical, throwing a mob of top actors into a room for what feels like a fight to the death, but it's so well written and so beautifully observed by the actors that we can't look away. And of course Meryl Streep walks off with the show.
Everything kicks off when Beverly Weston (Shepard) goes missing, leaving his ruthlessly straight-talking, pill-popping wife Violet (Streep) to assemble the family in their rambling Oklahoma home. They have three equally feisty daughters: Barbara (Roberts) is a tightly wound bundle of anger with an estranged husband (McGregor) and surly teen daughter (Breslin) in tow; Karen (Lewis) is a free-spirited floater with yet another random boyfriend (Mulroney); and Ivy (Nicholson) is fed up with being the dutiful daughter who stayed close to home. Also on hand is Violet's sister Mattie Fae (Martindale), whose husband (Cooper) is the family patriarch now that Beverly is gone, which means their son (Cumberbatch) feels even more useless than normal.
What plot there is centres on skeletons rattling out of closets and relationships imploding spectacularly. The film is a series of brutally intense encounters between people who probably still love each other in vaguely undefined ways and express it through bitter bursts of witty cruelty. Streep has the meatiest role as the imperious Violet, who knows a lot more than she's letting on. And her chief rival is Barbara, played with unnerving intensity by Roberts. The only person we even remotely like is Mattie Fae, and the always-superb Martindale finds all kinds of layers in the character.
Continue reading: August: Osage County Review
The Weston family know they are probably one of the most dysfunctional families around, but they do understand that sometimes it's best to stick together. Violet Weston is the family matriarch suffering from mouth cancer and heavily addicted to prescription drugs which only gets worse after the apparent suicide of her husband Beverly. As the funeral approaches, Violet's three daughters Barbara, Ivy and Karen and their families arrive at the house they grew up in, along with some other estranged relatives, hoping to get the whole ordeal over and done with fairly quickly. However, things don't go as smoothly as they, perhaps naively, hoped as they discover a whole load of closet skeletons they'd rather have not known about.
'August: Osage County' is a remarkable dark comedy directed by multi-Emmy winning John Wells ('The Company Men') and based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by Tracy Letts ('Bug', 'Killer Joe'). It has been produced by George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein and is a warts-and-all story about the trials and tribulations of family affairs, uncovering both the heartwarming and the heartbreaking secrets that underline all families. It is set to be released in the UK on January 3rd 2014.
Director-cowriter Sachs takes an unusually intimate look at a 10-year relationship in this beautifully shot and performed New York drama. The film has been compared to 2011's British break-out hit Weekend, but only partly because it centres on a gay couple. What makes both films notable is the way they tackle serious issues in the context of a relationship, keeping the focus tightly on complex characters who behave like real people we can identify with.
The story starts in 1998 New York, as aspiring Danish documentary filmmaker Erik (Lindhardt) fails to overcome his loneliness by using chat-lines to meet random strangers for sex. Then he meets the lawyer Paul (Booth), and their encounter evolves into a relationship. Over the next decade, Paul is frustrated by Erik's casual approach to his slow-developing career, while Erik becomes increasingly worried about Paul's casual drug use. As this boils over into full-on addiction, Erik turns to his sister (Steen) and his close friend Claire (Nicholson) for help with an intervention. But are drugs the real problem? And even if Paul goes through rehab, can their relationship survive?
Intriguingly, Sachs never lets this turn into a drug-addiction drama, carefully exploring much deeper issues without ever being preachy about it. Everything is presented as matter-of-fact, just part of life, and even the addiction problem is only an obstacle for Erik and Paul to deal with in their life together. Both Lindhardt and Booth bring a stunning transparency to their roles, keeping the characters likeable even when they do awful things to each other. Since we see everything through Erik's eyes, Lindhardt's role is much beefier, and it's also infused with his European sense of humour.
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Peter Parker is a socially unpopular high-school boy who lives with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May after his parents left him when he was very young for reasons unknown. He finds a clue to their disappearance in the form of his father's suitcase and his journey for an explanation takes him to Oscorp, the weapons manufacturer of New York, and the lab of his father's ex-business partner Dr. Curt Connors who offers him that explanation. Along his journey, the alter-egos of Connors (The Lizard) and Parker (Spider-Man) collide in a continuous battle of superpowers and Parker's feelings for his first high-school crush Gwen Stacy, whose father is a Police Captain with officers all over the city looking for Parker, intensify.
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Peter Parker, at first glance, seems like a normal high schooler. However, he is a nerd and gets picked on by other students. He lives with his aunt and uncle, after his parents abandoned him as a young boy. And the weirdest fact of them all - he got bit by a radioactive spider one day whilst exploring a science lab, which gave him super powers.
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As a young boy, Peter Parker's parents, Richard and Mary, sent their son to live with his aunt and uncle, Mary and Ben, 'for a little while'. Years later, Peter is still living with his relatives; his mother and father have not returned. He befriends and falls in love with Gwen Stacey at high school and the two of them start a relationship.
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Urban sophisticates may relate to the plight of Stuart (Justin Kirk) and Nicole (Julianne Nicholson). Set up by friends, the two feel an instant electric attraction. Stuart promotes Broadway shows for a living, while Nicole aspires to become a small-scale caterer. Since he's the better off of the two, it isn't long before she moves into his high-rise pad and gladly accepts his offer to pay off her student loans. Their first months together are a giddy dance of (full-frontal) sex and mutual admiration.
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