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The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman Review


Good

Shia LaBeouf is well-cast in this freewheeling combination of comedy, romance and action. He plays a scruffy guy with no plans and nothing to lose, lost in a strange culture while falling in love with the wrong woman. It's not a particularly original premise, and much of what happens feels wildly improbable, but the characters and situations are so entertaining that we can't help but hold on for the ride.

It opens in Chicago, where Charlie (LaBeouf) watches helplessly as his mother (Melissa Leo) dies in hospital, asking her what he should do next. Then there she is appearing to him, telling him to visit Bucharest. "That's weirdly specific," he replies, but he follows her advice, and on the flight over has another encounter with a dead person. This one asks him to look up his daughter Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood) and give her a message. Of course, Charlie is instantly smitten, but tries to ignore the fact that Gabi's psychopathic husband Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen) looks easily capable of murder. As does the mobster club owner Darko (Til Schweiger) Charlie has a run in with while out on the town with his youth hostel roommates, two chucklehead Brits (Rupert Grint and James Buckley).

As the title suggests, Charlie feels like death is inevitable for him, especially now that he seems to have caught whatever that kid from The Sixth Sense had. LaBeouf gives Charlie just the right mix of hapless loser and quick-thinking resourcefulness, and his chemistry with Wood is tetchy and fun to watch. Meanwhile, the scene-stealing supporting stars Mikkelsen, Schweiger, Grint and Buckley add a terrific mixture of comedy silliness and dark peril. This seems to be director Fredrik Bond's main goal here: to blend genres from grim drama to sweet romance to goofy slapstick to Taken-style action violence.

Continue reading: The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman Review

'August: Osage County' Actress Misty Upham Found Dead in Seattle


Misty Upham Meryl Streep Melissa Leo

Police is Seattle have discovered the body of a woman, thought to be that of the missing actress Misty Upham. The 32-year-old Native American actress was found in a ravine near the White River on Thursday, with police spokesman Steve Stocker confirming that items confirming Upham's identity were found nearby.

Misty UphamA body believed to be that of Misty Upham was found in a ravine near Seattle after family and friends conducted a search

Officials are still waiting for the medical examiner to make a positive identification, Stocker noted.

Continue reading: 'August: Osage County' Actress Misty Upham Found Dead in Seattle

The Equalizer Review


OK

Little more than a paint-by-numbers action thriller, it's anyone's guess why the filmmakers have bothered to make a connection with the 1980s TV series of the same name. Because this film bears almost no resemblance to it. Instead, this is a reunion of Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua, who last collaborated on the Oscar-winning Training Day. And since it's packed with brutal violence and questionable morality, that's clearly where this movie's roots truly lie.

Washington stars as Robert, a meek shelf-stacker at a DIY warehouse store in Boston. He can't sleep at night, so he heads to the local diner to read classic novels. That's where he meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teen hooker who is having problems with her psychotic Russian pimp (David Meunier). Ever so quietly, and clearly relying on some external source of income, Robert goes about helping Teri secure a free future. But when he offers to settle her debts, the pimp and his thugs just laugh at him. So Robert mercilessly kills them all, drawing on his secret past as a black-ops agent. The problem is that this puts Robert at odds with the top Russian boss Teddy (Marton Csokas), who heads to Boston to get even.

In standard action movie tradition, Robert works his way right through the entire Russian mob, along the way cleaning up Boston's corrupt police force before the requisite final confrontation. His only distraction is a brief visit to his old CIA boss (Melissa Leo) and her husband (Bill Pullman) for a bit of moral support and added starry cameo value. Yes, there isn't much about this movie that doesn't feel concocted for the box office, which means that the story is both achingly predictable and littered with gaping plot-holes. And with Washington in the focal role, everyone else fades into the woodwork. Moretz is excellent but badly underused, while Csokas is never given much to do with his one-note villain.

Continue reading: The Equalizer Review

The Equalizer - Featurette and Clip


Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen) talks about what makes The Equalizer (Denzel Washington) different from other action movie heroes. The name comes from how he spends his days as a "regular Joe", but uses hand-to-hand combat in order to fight his way through legions of bad guys "levelling the playing field". Producer Todd Black (A Knight's Tale, The Pursuit of Happiness) goes on to explain The Equalizer's skill set. He uses impeccable awareness of his surroundings to manipulate his environment into a weapon - this leads to stunt coordinator Keith Woulard discussing Washington's desire to make the fight scenes "dirty and gritty, but he want[ed] it smart". 

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The Judge - Trailer


Hank Palmer is a ruthless but excellent lawyer, despised by many of his peers for his habit of representing often blatantly guilty criminals. One day mid-trial however, he receives a call from home informing him of his mother's recent death. Reluctantly, he ventures back to the town of Carlinville, Indiana where he grew up to convene with his family ahead of the funeral. As he expected, the greeting between himself and his father - the local Judge Joseph Palmer - is particularly frosty. As a young college graduate, Hank was desperate to leave the harsh and unfriendly grasp of his father but when the town's sheriff tells him that Joseph is now a murder suspect, he begins to feel a grudging obligation to cast their differences aside and help him protest his innocence.

Continue: The Judge - Trailer

The Equalizer Trailer


Robert McCall has a modest job at a hardware store in Boston where he longs for a peaceful life on his own to live out the rest of his days. He is a retired black ops commando and, unfortunately for him, that part of his life is not over - merely laying dormant. After meeting a young girl named Teri and seeing her trapped in a circle of abuse and danger within what appears to be a gang of pimps, he vows to help her. However, after taking them down with an extraordinary amount of grace and dexterity, he discovers that they are in fact part of the powerful Russian mafia who are hellbent on killing him. The odds aren't looking good for McCall, whose sense of justice and responsibility has been quickly reignited, but when it really comes down to it, it's difficult to tell who should be afraid of whom.

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Jersey Boys New York Special Screening - Arrivals

Melissa Leo - Jersey Boys New York Special Screening held at the Paris Theatre - Arrivals. - New York, New York, United States - Tuesday 10th June 2014

Melissa Leo

NYRP 13th Annual Spring Picnic - Arrivals

Melissa Leo - NYRP 13th Annual Spring Picnic held at the General Grant National Memorial - Arrivals. - New York, New York, United States - Thursday 29th May 2014

Opening Night of A Raisin in the Sun - Arrivals

Melissa Leo - Opening night of A Raisin in the Sun at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre - Arrivals. - New York, New York, United States - Thursday 3rd April 2014

Melissa Leo

The Annual Make-Up Artists And Hair Stylists Guild Awards

Melissa Leo - The Annual Make-Up Artists And Hair Stylists Guild Awards - Hollywood, California, United States - Sunday 16th February 2014

Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo

Annual Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards

Melissa Leo - The Annual Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards honoring excellence in Make-Up and Hair Styling in motion pictures, television, commercials and live theater - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 15th February 2014

Video - 'Gravity' Producer David Heyman Appears At The National Board Of Review Awards - Part 4


It wasn't all about the onscreen stars at the 2014 National Board Of Review Awards Gala in New York; a few highly respected directors and producers also showed their faces at the event including 'Gravity' producer David Heyman and 'Her' director Spike Jonze.

Continue: Video - 'Gravity' Producer David Heyman Appears At The National Board Of Review Awards - Part 4

Charlie Countryman - Red Band Trailer


When Charlie Countryman boarded a plane to Bucharest in Romania after a hallucination of his late mother told him to, it became both the best and worst decision he'd ever make. He becomes embroiled in the life of a middle-aged man who dies beside him on the flight and is forced to meet his daughter; a strikingly beautiful cellist named Gabi; with whom he sets out to uncover the mysteries he left behind. Along the way he meets her party-loving friends who welcome him with open arms and he finds himself falling increasingly in love with her. However, things take a turn for the worst when her crime boss husband Nigel shows up on her doorstep with no intention of letting Charlie take her off his hands. Charlie can do nothing but fiercely protect his lover, but to do that, he is forced to lay down his life. 

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Charlie Countryman Trailer


Charlie Countryman is a regular guy who is prompted to travel to Bucharest in Romania after experiencing a vision of his deceased mother. However, along the way, fate intervenes when a middle-aged man dies in his sleep while seated beside Charlie, and he is suddenly embroiled in the case of his death. He meets his striking musician daughter Gabi who he vows to help find out what happened to her father, while getting involved with her party-hard, drug-taking friends. The pair begin to fall head over heels in love with each other, but when her crime boss husband Nigel appears, things take a turn for the worst for Charlie. Attempting to stand up for himself and protect his new lover, he endures several emotional and physical attacks from the ruthless Nigel before realising the only way he can save Gabi; he must die for her.

Continue: Charlie Countryman Trailer

Prisoners Review


Extraordinary

What makes this thriller extraordinary is its willingness to make us scratch our heads and ask questions as the tense, fable-like story patiently unfolds. This creates an almost unbearably involving vibe, from the slow-burn pacing to the unusual character detail. And all of this allows the cast members to dig deep inside their characters.

It starts as two families in rural Pennsylvania get together to celebrate Thanksgiving, then discover that their two young daughters are missing. Keller and Grace Dover (Jackman and Bello) and Franklin and Nancy Birch (Howard and Davis) search the neighbourhood frantically, then try to help local detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) with his investigation. He settles on an oddball (Dano) who seems unable to provide any information at all. With no evidence against him, he's released. But Keller can't bear to think of this man being free while the girls are missing, so he hatches his own plan to sort things out.

There's a lot of symbolism in this screenplay, as everyone reacts to the situation in his or her own way (clearly echoing the world's response to the War on Terror). But it's also a riveting personal story of the desperate need for justice and revenge. Jackman is terrific as the deeply religious man whose love of guns informs his decision-making. He impulsively reacts like Liam Neeson in Taken, charging to the rescue. By contrast, Gyllenhaal's Loki is more measured and observant, while Howard's Franklin struggles with his own moral decisions. The women are a completely different story, and equally provocative: Davis is feisty but helpless, while Bello crawls into her shell.

Continue reading: Prisoners Review

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