This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with the weight of its themes. It may be fiction, but the film's exploration of the power of language raises fascinating ideas about the human mind. It's also produced to an extremely high standard, with striking effects and sumptuous cinematography and editing. And as played by Amy Adams, the movie also carries a surprising emotional kick.
Adams plays linguistics expert Louise, who is asked by the American government to help decode the language of aliens who occupy gigantic monolithic ships that appear suddenly, floating over various locations around the globe. So she heads to the American site in Montana and begins working with scientist Ian (Jeremy Renner) under the watchful eye of Colonel Weber (Forrest Whitaker). And of course she's taken aback by these seven-legged creatures who communicate with odd tones and swirling symbols. When coordinated efforts with other teams around the world begin to descend into mistrust, everyone stops sharing their data, and the military leaders decide to take matters into their own hands and destroy the ships. But Louise begins to believe she is onto something important, and she tenaciously pursues a course of action that terrifies everyone, including her.
Expertly directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario), the film never lapses into sensationalistic action, and it's even more gripping as a result. Several scenes generate goosebumps for their inventive visual flourishes, including the surprising gravitational twists and the face-to-face interaction with two freaky but oddly endearing aliens Louise and Ian name Abbott and Costello. Special effects are seamless, grounding everything that happens as something eerily believable. But the emphasis is on the emotional drama surging within Louise, and the huge implications it has for the entire world.
Continue reading: Arrival Review
As Guardians of the Galaxy did two years ago, this action romp comes at the Marvel universe from a witty angle that makes it a lot more fun than the overcrowded Avengers movies. This film has a strong central character, a boisterous sense of humour and a relatively simple plot that never gets bogged down in explaining its mythology. Most of all, it's hugely entertaining, with a great cast and head-spinning kaleidoscopic effects.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a top New York neurosurgeon. Arrogant and dismissive, he maintains a friendship with his ex, fellow surgeon Christine (Rachel McAdams). But a car crash puts an end to his rock-n-roll lifestyle when his hands are seriously injured. After medicine fails to heal him, he turns to eastern mysticism, travelling to Kathmandu to study under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). She opens his mind to the magical power around him, and as he develops his powers with the serious, more experienced Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Stephen is pulled into an epic clash with the rebel sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who wants to heal humanity by sending it into a dark, timeless parallel universe.
Despite the gloomy plot, Scott Derrickson directs the film with a very light touch, bringing out cheeky humour in every scene as these whip-smart characters interact with each other. Cumberbatch has probably never had a role that so fully draws on his real-life charisma and wit, and he shines as the swaggering, cocky doctor who has to rebuild his life in unexpected directions. For much of the film he's way out of his depth, which means that the supporting cast get a chance to steal scenes from him.
Continue reading: Doctor Strange Review
Michael Stuhlbarg - 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall - Arrivals at Shrine Auditorium, Screen Actors Guild - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 30th January 2016
Michael Stuhlbarg - 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall - Arrivals at The Shrine Expo Hall, Screen Actors Guild - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 30th January 2016
Steve Jobs is widely regarded as a pioneer in the age of technology, making the computer accessible to all with his billionaire organisation Apple Inc. Though as much as he was a genius, he made a lot of enemies on his way to fame, fortune and recognition while relying on his skilled best friend Steve Wozniak. He refused to co-operate with much of the staff at Apple including CEO John Sculley, and henceforth detached himself from the company, but meanwhile his personal life was no more amicable. Refusing to be a father to his college girlfriend Chrisann Brennan's daughter Lisa and denying all paternity shone a bad light on him in the eyes of his family, his colleagues and the public especially when paternity was proven. But upon his return to Apple came a new man, humbled by his previous behaviour and willing to be both a father and a fair businessman. But of all the sacrifices he made to make Apple great, his health suffered most of all.
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Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber and Peter Sarsgaard talk about Bobby Fischer, the main inspiration and character in their new film Pawn Sacrifice. It's the 1970's and the relationship between Russians and the US is still very volatile. Bobby Fischer is a chess player at the top of his game, many consider him the finest Chess player to have ever lived, though away from the public eye, Fischer faces a battle of his own with inner demons and paranoia.
Continue: Pawn Sacrifice - Featurette
'Dalton Trumbo had gone from novelist to a successful career as a Hollywood screenwriter which saw him become one of the town's highest paid writers and even earn an Academy Award nomination. But his bright career came to a crushing end in 1947 after he was one of nine people who refused to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. This led to Trumbo being blacklisted from Hollywood and effectively ending his movie career. But despite being blacklisted Trumbo refused to give up and instead continued to write, often under pseudonyms, working on films such as Oscar winner Roman Holiday. His fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses over his freedom to write and work entangled everyone in Hollywood from gossip writer Hedda Hopper to Kirk Douglas who would call on Trumbo to pen the scrip for his epic drama 'Spartacus' and help bring about the end of the Hollywood blacklist.
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Sometimes, the greatest conflicts and clash with smaller and internal conflicts in a major way. Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) is the greatest chess player in the United States, and he is desperate to seek out the greatest players in the world. The problem is, they happen to be Russian, and with the Cold War at its height, the American government steps in to inform him that his game will be used as propaganda. This sends him down a path of introspection, as the pressure of a simple chess match holds the weight of the Cold War upon his shoulders.
Continue: Pawn Sacrifice Trailer
Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur from the day of his birth and became one of the biggest technology pioneers the world has ever seen. Without any prior knowledge of programming, engineering or, indeed, any technical/computing experience of any kind, he set out to launch a computer with bucket loads of promise - all with the help and expertise of his friend Steve Wozniak. Little did they know of the tumultuous times that lay ahead, of how the resulting business would shape and damage Jobs' social and family life, and indeed his health.
Continue: Steve Jobs - First Look Trailer
Dwayne McLaren is an ambitious high school graduate, whose success on the football field led him to hope for a bright future. However, his dreams are far from reached and he now works as a car mechanic in the sleepy town of Cut Bank, Montana. Nothing of interest ever seems to happen there, but his life is set to change forever when he unwittingly films an apparently fatal shooting in the middle of a field, where an elderly mailman is seemingly murdered. Meanwhile, a man of deceptively timid disposition named Derby Milton is expecting a package, and he'll do just about anything to get it. While Dwayne decides to search for the murderer (and the mainman's body) himself in a bid to win the $100,000 reward and start afresh in another town, it becomes clear that this case is a lot more complicated (and dangerous) than it initially appeared.
Continue: Cut Bank Trailer
Jasmine is an aristocratic New York housewife whose luxurious lifestyle and marriage to the wealthy Hal has been snatched away from her leaving her with quite literally nothing but the clothes on her back. She is forced to fly to San Francisco to move in with her sister Ginger whose apartment is well below her usual standards, as is her boyfriend Chili who is equally as resentful of Jasmine. It doesn't take long before Jasmine starts to plummet emotionally and mentally and only just manages to keep herself sane with several handfuls of anti-depressants a day. In a bid to get her life back on track, she takes a job as a dental receptionist while pursuing a career in interior design. Suffering from a serious breakdown, things are looking dark for Jasmine's future, but do things begin to look up when she meets the sophisticated Dwight?
Continue: Blue Jasmine Trailer
What could have been an intriguing look at how Alfred Hitchcock created one of his most iconic masterpieces is instead turned into a gently entertaining romp. We may enjoy watching the twists and turns as this troubled project takes shape, but the script simply never breaks the surface or gives its stars any real depth to play with. So in the end, the most engaging thing about the film ends up being the portrayal of Hitchcock's marriage.
The story starts with the 1959 premiere of North by Northwest, a hit that critics dismissed as more of the same from a master resting on his laurels. So Hitchcock (Hopkins) decides to give them something unexpected, and takes his first foray into horror based on the little-known novel Psycho, a fictionalised story about a real serial killer. Working closely with his wife Alma (Mirren) on every aspect of the film, he is in constant conflict with the studio chief (Portnow) and the chief censor (Smith), who both believe the material is too strong. Meanwhile, Alma is tired of him flirting with his leading ladies (Johansson and Biel), so she takes a side job with a writer (Huston) who wants to be more than friends.
Oddly, neither director Gervasi (Anvil) nor writer McLaughlin (Black Swan) seems interested in getting beneath the surface of their central character, so Hitchcock is little more than the jovial caricature we saw in his TV anthology series. Hiding under layers of prosthetic face and body fat, Hopkins is good but never seems to break a sweat in the role. Which leaves Mirren to steal the film as Alma, mainly by departing from reality to create a more intriguing movie character instead. And Collette adds some spice as Hitchcock's assistant. But as the cast of Psycho, Johansson (as Janet Leigh), Biel (Vera Miles) and D'Arcy (Anthony Perkins) are only given small details to define them, which leaves them lurking uninterestingly around the edges.
Continue reading: Hitchcock Review
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