Liza Chasin

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Everest Review

Good

With visually stunning imagery and a solid A-list cast, this film just about transcends its oddly uninvolving story. Based on true events, the scenes are harrowing and emotive, but spreading the story among an ensemble obscured by mountaineering gear and snowstorms makes it difficult to engage with anyone. And the plot-strands that do find emotional resonance feel like they've been manipulated.

In the early 1990s, companies began selling Everest expeditions to wealthy clients, and by the spring of 1996 there were 20 teams of climbers jostling for position on the slopes of the world's highest peak. Kiwi guide Rob (Jason Clarke) opts for a cautious approach with his team, which includes impatient Texan Beck (Josh Brolin), journalist Jon (Michael Kelly) and the nervous Doug (John Hawkes), who only just failed to reach the summit on his previous attempt. Rob's base camp manager Helen (Emily Watson) keeps everything running smoothly and, since the mountain is so overcrowded, Rob coordinates the climb with a rival guide (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his team. On the day of the final ascent, the skies are clear, but delays along the way and an approaching storm threaten the climbers.

Since the is a true story, it's clear from the start that some of these people won't make it home. And Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur lays on the emotion thickly, with an overly pushy-majestic score by Dario Marianelli and several sentimental phone calls home. Rob's wife is played by Keira Knightley, and you can almost hear the ominous chord when she reveals that she's pregnant. A bit subtler is Beck's interaction with his wife, played with insinuating bitterness by the always terrific Robin Wright. Meanwhile, Clarke's sensitive leader and Brolin's bullheaded alpha male contrast nicely with Gyllenhaal's cool dude, while Sam Worthington is almost lost in the shuffle as a friend who's climbing a neighbouring peak.

Continue reading: Everest Review

We Are Your Friends Review

Good

Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of youthful energy, but not much authenticity or depth. The plot traces a young aspiring DJ trying to make his mark on the music world, and his struggle isn't exactly gruelling. But what the movie lacks in realism it makes up for in melodrama, keeping the audience involved simply because the characters are relatively enjoyable company.

Zac Efron plays Cole, a smart young guy who spends his days and nights hanging with his chucklehead pals Mason, Ollie and Squirrel (Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez and Alex Shaffer), playing music, doing drugs and tormenting the girls. But Cole has skills mixing tracks to keep a dance floor busy, and one night he's noticed by his idol James (Wes Bentley), a star DJ with a hot girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski). James helps Cole discover his own distinct voice, while Cole can't help but fall for Sophie. Meanwhile, Cole and his buddies need to make some cash, so they take a job with a dodgy property developer (Jon Bernthal). But Cole is determined that this kind of work won't be his future.

Director-cowriter Max Joseph never really bothers to develop any of this properly, letting the film glide along on Cole's cool beats while indulging in arty touches like an animated drug trip. There isn't much complexity to any of the characters, but the actors add interest in the way they interact, developing camaraderie that says a lot more than their relentless macho swagger. Efron is the only actor who is allowed to offer a glimpse beneath the surface, and he navigates Cole's darker emotional moments nicely. But the script continually undermines him. For example, there are constant references to his strong moral code, and yet he seems utterly unbothered about seducing his mentor's girlfriend. Opposite him, Bentley gets to do some ace scene-stealing, but everyone else fades into the wallpaper.

Continue reading: We Are Your Friends Review

NYU Tisch School Of The Arts Annual Benefit Gala

Georgia Velkes, Liza Chasin and Matthew Velkes - Celebrities attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Honor Oliver Stone and Liza Chasin at Annual Benefit Gala at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel. - Los Angeles, CA, United States - Monday 28th October 2013

Georgia Velkes, Liza Chasin and Matthew Velkes
Liza Chasin
Liza Chasin, Mary Schmidt Campbell and Oliver Stone
Liza Chasin and Donna Langley
Liza Chasin, Mary Schmidt Campbell and Oliver Stone
Liza Chasin

Big Miracle Review


Very Good
A grounding in the real-life story makes this film much less sentimental than it looks. Strong characters, some surprisingly dark touches and a genuinely thrilling series of events helps to engage us right to the end.

In 1988 Barrow, at the top of Alaska, aspiring reporter Adam (Krasinski) stumbles across three whales trapped beneath the icecap. Unable to reach the open sea, there's just a tiny hole in the ice that lets them breathe. Adam's report goes viral, grabbing the attention of America's press as well as his Greenpeace-activist ex Rachel (Barrymore). And the rescue effort will require an L.A. journalist (Bell), military pilot (Mulroney), Inuit boy (Sweeney), whale expert (Nelson), oil baron (Danson), White House rep (Shaw), two chuckleheads from Minnesota (LeGros and Riggle) and the Russian Navy.

Continue reading: Big Miracle Review

Elizabeth: The Golden Age Review


OK
Of the more than 15 sequels already released this year, Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden Age is by no means the most unnecessary (that remains a three-way tie between Evan Almighty, Rush Hour 3, and Are We Done Yet?), though it could be considered the most improbable.

For one thing, historical costume dramas rarely spawn second chapters, particularly ones that struggle to make back their production budgets. Kapur's critically acclaimed original Elizabeth earned multiple Oscar nominations but was largely overshadowed (at the ceremony and in the public eye) by John Madden's opposing Golden Age tryst Shakespeare in Love.

Continue reading: Elizabeth: The Golden Age Review

Pride & Prejudice (2005) Review


Very Good
English students of the world rejoice - another reason not to read Jane Austen. Joe Wright's latest incarnation of Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice is a mostly blissful time-traveling bus tour through a giggly and gorgeous English countryside. To your left note the lovely ladies Bennet, all sideways glances, blushing cheeks and innuendo. To your right, lenses at the ready for the dapper, tall, dark, and handsome objects of their affection, Darcy, Bingley, and Wickham! Swoon... Watch them as they play and woo, mismanage and miscarry, repress and reveal. This flighty matrimonial preamble is the pleasure of Wright's adaptation, briskly played in balls and manors. When at its playful best, it dances lightly with humor and delight. However, the film's occasional missteps, rhythm-less moves into the shadows of darker and more serious emotional territory, threaten to sink rather than anchor Wright's film with any of the depth they intend to provide.

For those who are unaware of Austen's novel (it might be helpful to consider that The Lion King is to Hamlet as Bridget Jones' Diary is to Pride & Prejudice), Pride & Prejudice is the story of the Bennet sisters, and particularly, second eldest child Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). These desperate housewives-to-be are in dire pursuit of a man. For the younger girls, and Elizabeth's squawking mother (a superbly erratic Brenda Blethyn), a man's greatest endowment is his wallet. However, for Elizabeth and oldest sister Jane (Rosamund Pike) love is the only currency in which they wish to deal. Convenient then that the objects of their affections, Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) for Jane, and the infamously standoffish Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) for Elizabeth, are moneyed up to the kilt when they ride into town to stir trouble and steal hearts. Elizabeth's very cinematic blindness to Darcy's very British advance is the centerpiece of both novel and film, with all suspense drawn from the "will they or won't they" dilemma.

Continue reading: Pride & Prejudice (2005) Review

Smokin' Aces Review


OK
A double-decker, monster-man sandwich of a movie with all the condiments dripping off and the tomatoes soaking through the bread, Joe Carnahan's Smokin' Aces grabs you by your lipstick-smudged collar and chucks you headfirst into a car-crash dizziness of crime, punishment, and bureau hobgob.As with most directors, Carnahan is eager to put the giddiness of his debut, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, on top of the professionalism of 2002's brooding Narc, only too happy to throw in a who's-who of dynamite character actors to add flavor. Flipping scene-to-scene with a racecar driver's patience, Smokin' Aces quickly engages the viewer but just as quickly stuffs the plot with enough peripheral storylines to garner an Advil intermission. Carnahan, however, seems only the merrier to turn the mayhem up to eleven.Here's the scoop: Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven) has turned states evidence and has been marked to be deposited in an unmarked grave, heart removed and in the hand of the invalid Don of the Las Vegas mafia. Quicker than you can say Vincent Vega, a plethora of gun-totting, knife-brandishing assassins are descending on the Lake Tahoe hotel where Israel has commandeered the penthouse suite and filled it with enough blow and prostitutes to garner a Motley Crue reunion gig. There's a sexually-ambivalent pair of Jackie Brown's (scene-stealers Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson), a trio of Nazi-punk, south-bred Mad Max's (led by dirtied-up pretty-boy Chris Pine), a relentless torture artist (Nestor Carbonell), and a superbly vicious Ethan Hunt-type mask-wearer named Lazlo Soot (Tommy Flanagan). Oh, and not to mention a bail bondsman and two ex-cops (Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, and Martin Henderson) hired by a Herpes-positive lawyer (Justin Bateman).Israel's right-hand man Sir Ivy (hip-hop ingénue Common in a solid acting debut) has suspicions on Buddy's loyalty as the bureau chief (Andy Garcia, his cheeks tight enough to brandish a diamond ring from a lump of coal) deliberates on whether Buddy is essential to the FBI's case or not. To fast-track the proceedings, two FBI agents are sent to pick Israel up, played with welcome integrity by Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds. This is all confounded by a paint-by-numbers mystery about the Las Vegas Don's origins and his hand in an FBI agent's death.Not for nothing, Carnahan's big mess has a stunningly concise tone to it, not trashy enough to be campy and not serious enough to be harshly considered. There's no denying, however, that Smokin' Aces is a backpedal from the grimy cop paranoia of its predecessor. Ultimately, many of the characters are superfluous to the kinetic frenzy of the film and come off as cameos (Bateman, Affleck, and a surprise Matthew Fox head the list). This also lends itself to a problem of absurdly curt storylines that seem to mass into a rubber-band ball of narratives. That being said, it's still a kick to watch Carnahan go all in, pulling out some primo action scenes including a climactic shoot-out that ends with an assassin taking a chainsaw up the keister. The effect sprays about as much bodily fluid to the ironically-named Nomad hotel as one could imagine from a Tarantino disciple with time and money on his hands.Aces high.

Pride & Prejudice Review


Very Good
English students of the world rejoice - another reason not to read Jane Austen. Joe Wright's latest incarnation of Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice is a mostly blissful time-traveling bus tour through a giggly and gorgeous English countryside. To your left note the lovely ladies Bennet, all sideways glances, blushing cheeks and innuendo. To your right, lenses at the ready for the dapper, tall, dark, and handsome objects of their affection, Darcy, Bingley, and Wickham! Swoon... Watch them as they play and woo, mismanage and miscarry, repress and reveal. This flighty matrimonial preamble is the pleasure of Wright's adaptation, briskly played in balls and manors. When at its playful best, it dances lightly with humor and delight. However, the film's occasional missteps, rhythm-less moves into the shadows of darker and more serious emotional territory, threaten to sink rather than anchor Wright's film with any of the depth they intend to provide.

For those who are unaware of Austen's novel (it might be helpful to consider that The Lion King is to Hamlet as Bridget Jones' Diary is to Pride & Prejudice), Pride & Prejudice is the story of the Bennet sisters, and particularly, second eldest child Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). These desperate housewives-to-be are in dire pursuit of a man. For the younger girls, and Elizabeth's squawking mother (a superbly erratic Brenda Blethyn), a man's greatest endowment is his wallet. However, for Elizabeth and oldest sister Jane (Rosamund Pike) love is the only currency in which they wish to deal. Convenient then that the objects of their affections, Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) for Jane, and the infamously standoffish Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) for Elizabeth, are moneyed up to the kilt when they ride into town to stir trouble and steal hearts. Elizabeth's very cinematic blindness to Darcy's very British advance is the centerpiece of both novel and film, with all suspense drawn from the "will they or won't they" dilemma.

Continue reading: Pride & Prejudice Review

Thirteen Review


OK
You can't argue that the film Thirteen doesn't know its teenagers. It gets all the obsessions and silly little dramas just right - the autobiographical script was written by one of the film's stars when she herself was thirteen - but just knowing the milieu isn't always going to create gripping drama.

After an opening scene in which 13-year-old Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) and her friend Evie (Nikki Reed, the writer) suck gas from a can of compressed air, laugh hysterically, and slap each other senseless, Thirteen flashes back to four months earlier, in order that we can get an idea of how Tracy got this way. Tracy's family situation is nothing spectacular, what with a distant father who only occasionally pays child support and a flaky mom (Holly Hunter) who scrapes by as a hairdresser and keeps letting Brady, her former cokehead boyfriend (Jeremy Sisto), sleep over. Her life seems pretty dull and irritating, so when Tracy ditches her nerdy friends to suck up to Evie, the lead Heather in the school's hottest clique, it makes an adolescent kind of sense. But when that friendship quickly morphs into an unending stream of shoplifting and drinking, Tracy also starts lashing out at her mother and pretty much everyone else around her, except Evie, who has essentially moved herself into Tracy's bedroom.

Continue reading: Thirteen Review

Wimbledon Review


Very Good
Unless you play the sport, tennis ranks right up there with golf as one of the most boring sports to watch on television. And with a few minor exceptions, the same can be said about these sports' big screen counterparts. Anticipating that Wimbledon would serve up little more than a predictable romantic comedy, I hoped the film's setting would provide a few more aces than foot faults to compensate. Much to my surprise, Wimbledon exceeds meager expectations.

As the world's 119th ranked player, a tired Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) has long been the doormat for the younger, flashier players on the professional tennis circuit. But when Peter gets an unexpected wild-card invite to play at Wimbledon, few give him any chance of making it out of the first round - including himself and his brother who wagers against him with a local bookie.

Continue reading: Wimbledon Review

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Liza Chasin Movies

Everest Movie Review

Everest Movie Review

With visually stunning imagery and a solid A-list cast, this film just about transcends its...

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...

Big Miracle Movie Review

Big Miracle Movie Review

A grounding in the real-life story makes this film much less sentimental than it looks....

Elizabeth: The Golden Age Movie Review

Elizabeth: The Golden Age Movie Review

Of the more than 15 sequels already released this year, Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden...

Advertisement
Pride & Prejudice (2005) Movie Review

Pride & Prejudice (2005) Movie Review

English students of the world rejoice - another reason not to read Jane Austen. Joe...

Smokin' Aces Movie Review

Smokin' Aces Movie Review

A double-decker, monster-man sandwich of a movie with all the condiments dripping off and the...

Thirteen Movie Review

Thirteen Movie Review

You can't argue that the film Thirteen doesn't know its teenagers. It gets all the...

Wimbledon Movie Review

Wimbledon Movie Review

Unless you play the sport, tennis ranks right up there with golf as one of...

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