This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of the divisions that define society. It's an engaging film, sharply written and directed by actor Nate Parker to pull the audience into the world of a black preacher whose conscience simply can't take the injustice any longer. Some of the themes feel a little pushy, but the film has real power.
It opens in 1809 Virginia, where the soft-spoken Nat (Parker) works as a slave for benevolent owner Sam (Armie Hammer). The two grew up together, so Sam is familiar with Nat's intelligence and passion, and also with the fact that Sam's mother (Penelope Ann Miller) encouraged Nat to read and study the Bible. In fact, Nat is such a great preacher that Sam loans him to fellow slave owners to convey the Old Testament "slaves obey your owners" message. But Nat realises that he can't continue with this after his wife Cherry (Aja Naomi King) is brutally attacked by the cruel slave tracker Cobb (Jackie Earle Haley). And once Nat decides he can no longer support the immorality and injustice of the system, he has little choice but to lead a slave revolt.
Parker's script recounts Nat's life story with telling details, contrasting his engaging courtship with Cherry with the series of insults they suffer at every turn. Living amid such systemic degradation, exploitation and violence simply gnaws away at Nat, and Parker underplays him beautifully, letting the charisma surge quietly under the surface. Hammer is solid as Sam, although his innate compassion leaves Haley to play the villain of the piece. As always, Haley is great at this, igniting loathing from the audience with his first appearance. All of the surrounding characters are played with a lovely sense of realism, adding hints of texture to each scene but never too much personality.
Continue reading: The Birth Of A Nation Review
After taking Sundance by storm in January, Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation was engulfed in a scandal, as a report revealed that a woman who falsely accused him of rape in 1999 then committed suicide in 2012.
Parker immediately expressed "profound sorrow" when he heard about her death, and has added that he was "devastated" by the news. Now that the film is coming into cinemas, he is finally prepared to speak openly on the painful topic, appearing on 60 Minutes this week and granting an interview to Variety. As he explains: "Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That's that. Seventeen years later, I'm a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is, I can't relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.
Nate Parker plays Nat Turner in The Birth Of A Nation
"I do think it's tragic, so much of what's happened. And the fact that the family's had to endure with respect to this woman not being here. But I also think that - and I don't want to harp on this and I don't want to be disrespectful of them at all - but at some point I have to say it: I was falsely accused. You know, I went to court. And I sat in trial. You know, I was vindicated. I was proven innocent."
Continue reading: Nate Parker Faces His Personal Past While Talking The Birth Of A Nation
A riff on the 1983 classic The Big Chill, this ensemble drama's reunion of old friends differs because Alex's suicide fails this time. It's also, of course, filtered through a very different cultural landscape, with characters born at about the time the earlier film was released. This is a strikingly warm exploration of friendship, with light comedy and very dark emotions along the way. And even if it sometimes feels a little sloppy about its big themes, it has a lot to say.
After Alex (Jason Ritter) attempts suicide, his best pal Ben (Nate Parker) calls the old gang and asks them to come to Upstate New York and offer some support. Ben brings his girlfriend Siri (Maggie Grace), who's also part of the group. But they're grappling with some big issues in their relationship, since he's a blocked writer and she has just had a job offer in Los Angeles. The cynical Josh (Max Greenfield) arrives at the same time as the charmer Sarah (Aubrey Plaza), and they can barely conceal the waves of loathing and lust between them. Finally, Isaac (Max Minghella) brings his younger girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy). As these people reconnect, the awkwardness is made even more intense by the question of how they can help Alex.
It's intriguing to see a movie made about 30-ish characters by 28-year-old Jesse Zwick, son of filmmaker Edward, who made the seminal TV series Thirtysomething. The film refreshingly avoids stereotypes, populating scenes with realistic people who are still hung up on the same issues they faced while in university, including quite a lot of soapy "he likes her but she likes him" melodrama. But as the weekend progresses, the thoughtful conversations lead to revelations and confessions, spurred on by some pot-smoking, game-playing, dancing and noisy sex. All of which gives the actors plenty to play with.
Continue reading: About Alex Review
Datari TurnerNoni Jean has always been an immensely talented singer and performer, winning local talent competitions at a very young age with the encouragement of her pushy mother Macy. Needless to say, she quickly becomes a world famous popstar as she hits her teens, playing to crowds of thousands every night and jetting all over the globe. As much as this may seem like any young girl's dream, Noni just wishes she could stop for a minute and also that she could escape the often degrading and frequently pressured life of stardom she leads. She reaches breaking point eventually, planning to jump to her death from a multi-storey building, but she is saved mid-jump by a caring officer named Kaz Nicol who she immediately connects with. He wants to protect her from the pressures of her chaotic life and gives her the strength to take control of her world once again.
Continue: Beyond The Lights - Alternative Trailer
With a premise not much more believable than Snakes on a Plane, this slickly made thriller entertains us from start to finish by never flinching once. It may be utterly ridiculous, but it's played with full-on dedication by a gifted cast and a filmmaker who knows how to ramp up tension out of thin air, so to speak. Yes, it's utterly idiotic, but it's so much fun that we want a sequel even before this film crashes to the ground.
Relapsed alcoholic Air Marshal Bill (Neeson) has far too much personal baggage as he heads to work on a trans-Atlantic flight. Still grieving over his daughter's death as he drinks a bit of coffee with his whiskey, his hopes of a quiet flight are soon dashed when he receives an in-flight text threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes if he doesn't pay a huge ransom. So he kicks into action-man gear. But things start getting seriously surreal as he struggles to find anyone on the plane who doesn't look shifty. He seeks assistance from steely stewardess Nancy (Dockery) and too-helpful passenger Jen (Moore). But everyone begins to wonder if Bill might be the real villain here.
Filmmaker Collet-Serra packs the screen with red herrings, as all of the passengers fire wary glances at each other, moan about the general chaos of the flight and do all of those stupid things that make air travel so tiresome. The only thing missing is a screaming baby. Not that you'd hear it above the crazed panic this cat-and-mouse situation induces. It's so frantic that we barely have time to wonder how someone could get on a plane with a briefcase full of cocaine. Or a bomb. So we just hang on as the turbulence escalates.
Continue reading: Non-stop Review
Bill Marks is a U.S. federal air marshal who ironically can't stand plane journeys. His hatred for flying is only about to get a lot worse when an anonymous person breaks through the secure network on his phone to send him a threatening text explaining that they're going to kill a person on the plane every twenty minutes unless $150 million is transferred to an offshore account number. With the crew sceptical that anything's amiss and insisting that no-one could get away with murder on a 6 hour flight between the States and the UK, Bill is forced to search for the culprit alone - but time is running out as the first victim is discovered. When it is revealed that the account number is actually in his name, news spreads across the world that he has hijacked the flight and he is forced to defend himself while keeping everybody else from being harmed.
This high-action mystery thriller will have you on the edge of seat this winter with an almost impossible to believe cat and mouse chase. 'Non-Stop' has been directed by Jaume Collet-Serra ('Orphan', 'Unknown', 'House Of Wax') and written by Ryan Engle ('On a Clear Day') and John W. Richardson and Christopher Roach in their feature screenwriting debuts. It is set to be released in the UK on February 28th 2014.
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Continue: Non-Stop Trailer
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie are a young couple desperately in love but living a dangerous life of crime. When one day they are cornered by a group of cops after Ruth seriously injures one of them, they are arrested and Bob insists it was he who fired the shot. Ruth is let off to carry on with her life, intent on waiting for her lover while pregnant with their first child. Four years later, Bob manages to make an escape, and sets out on a journey to be reunited with Ruth and the daughter he has not yet had chance to meet, while being pursued by every cop in the county. He has had a lot of time to yearn for things to be back the way they were, but life has changed for Ruth; will Bob's return be the repose she's been hoping for, or will it just bring more drama?
Continue: Ain't Them Bodies Saints Trailer
Richard Gere delivers such a charming, layered performance that he overcomes a contrived plot that piles too many financial and personal crises on the central character. But Gere is magnetic, and the film's themes resonate at a time of economic difficulty, most notably in the idea that all major world events revolve around money.
Gere plays 60-year-old financial mogul Robert, who lives the high life with a private jet, glamorous philanthropist wife Ellen (Sarandon) and sexy French art-dealer mistress Julie (Casta). He seduces the press with his intelligent wit, and has managed to conceal the fact that he's in severe money trouble. Everything hinges on selling his company, but the buyers are dragging their feet. Then he is involved in a fatal car crash that could undo everything. He turns to an estranged friend (Parker) for help, but a tenacious police detective (Roth) is beginning to piece it all together.
Having Gere in the central role makes all the difference here, because he is able to add the subtext and moral ambiguity that's lacking in the script and direction. Otherwise, it's shot like a too-obvious TV movie with close-up camerawork, a bland Cliff Martinez score and constant moralising about family values. By contrast, Gere is a shady character who is up to all kinds of unethical things and yet holds our sympathies because we can see that he's not all bad. Even so, the script puts him through the wringer, with a never-ending stream of personal and professional problems.
Continue reading: Arbitrage Review
Robert Miller is billionaire hedge fund businessman who at first glance seems to have the perfect life; successful, plenty of money, a supportive wife and a daughter/ business partner willing to take on the company when he retires. However, something much darker is going on underneath as he is struggling to cover up many years of fraudulent activities while trying to sell away his business to a bank. Not only this, but he has also embarked on an illicit affair with the young and beautiful Julie Cote who he attempts to whisk away with him for a while. As fate would have it, Robert finds himself drifting off to sleep in the car as they drive out of town and subsequently fails to prevent a crash that instantly kills Julie. As he attempts to cover his tracks by setting fire to the vehicle, his whole life is on the line with suspicious police officers, a mistrustful wife and a daughter with an unfortunate eye for detail threatening to collapse the empire he has worked so hard for.
This gripping thriller drama premiered in the US in September 2012 and serves as the full-length feature directorial debut of Nicholas Jarecki ('The Informers' screenwriter) who was also responsible for writing the fantastic screenplay.
Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Nate Parker, Stuart Margolin, Chris Eigeman, Graydon Carter, Bruce Altman, Larry Pine, Curtiss Cook, Reg E. Cathey, Felix Solis, Monica Raymund, Gabrielle Lazure, Shawn Elliott, Maria Bartiromo, David Faber, Josh Pais, Alyssa Sutherland, Paula Devicq, Zack Robidas & Betsy Aidem.
Continue: Arbitrage Trailer
During WWII, black pilots trained in Tuskegee, Alabama, were sidelined in the segregated US forces. But Colonel Ballard (Howard) gets them an assignment accompanying bombers on raids in Italy. Led by Major Stance (Gooding), the team includes hot-shot Lightning (Oyelowo), self-doubting Easy (Parker), eager Junior (Wilds) and the even less-defined Smoky (Ne-Yo) and Joker (Kelley). As they square off against their Luftwaffe nemesis (van Riesen), the Tuskegee airmen's distinctive red-tailed planes develop a first-rate reputation that begins to break down racial barriers.
Continue reading: Red Tails Review
This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...
Nat Turner was a former slave who on witnessing the scope of slavery across America...
A riff on the 1983 classic The Big Chill, this ensemble drama's reunion of old...
Datari TurnerNoni Jean has always been an immensely talented singer and performer, winning local talent...
With a premise not much more believable than Snakes on a Plane, this slickly made...
Bill Marks is a U.S. federal air marshal who ironically can't stand plane journeys. His...
Although set in the 1970s, this dramatic thriller has a distinctly Western vibe to it,...
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie are a young couple desperately in love but living a...
Richard Gere delivers such a charming, layered performance that he overcomes a contrived plot that...
Robert Miller is billionaire hedge fund businessman who at first glance seems to have the...
Flik Royale is a sullen, thirteen-year old boy from middle-class Atlanta, Georgia, who is sent...
An inspiring true story from American military history provides plenty of drama and adventure, even...