Bill Bryson has been living in the UK with his English wife for a long time but now feels his retirement is wasted on the luxury of home comforts. Now after moving back to the US, he wants adventure, and what better way to get it than by hiking the 2,200 mile long Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. It's a glorious woodland walk for anyone, but it's rarely finished by even the most experienced hikers and the thought of this ageing man taking on the dangers of the trail frightens his kids and his wife. It seems Bill is deadset on this challenge, and while his wife can't stop him doing it, she can at least insist he be accompanied by a friend. Unfortunately, the only person crazy enough to join him is his fat, former alcoholic buddy Katz, whose probably going to be more of a hindrance than a help, but will at least be exposed to some much needed reflection... and a few hungry bears.
Continue: A Walk in The Woods Trailer
This intriguing drama takes on some darkly resonant themes with such an oddly bright and cheerful tone that it forces the audience to pay attention. As it continues, the terrific Rosamund Pike uses conflicting emotions to explore the aftermath of a horrific assault. But while there's growing suspense in the plot, the bigger tension comes from the viewers themselves as they wonder whether it's going to unravel into melodramatic rubbish.
Pike plays Miranda, a cleanliness-obsessed nurse with ambition to get a better job and move to a bigger house, partly to stop her single dad (Nick Nolte) from worrying about her. Then a nurse colleague (Rumer Willis) sets her up on a blind date. William (Shiloh Fernandez) is flirty and sexy, but after he brutally attacks her he goes to prison, leaving Miranda to put her life back together. Surprisingly, she takes a proactive approach that includes contacting William and trying to achieve some sort of reconciliation. Miranda's father is horrified by this, especially when William is released on parole and turns up to help her fix up her house.
This insinuating set-up keeps the audience guessing whether this is a complex look at how people wrestle with the fall-out from a violent rape, or perhaps either Miranda or William are up to something more nefarious. So whether it's sparking hope or dread, it's relatively gripping. And Pike is superb as a quirky woman who continually faces her fears. This includes both connecting with William and trying to befriend her dad's scary dog Benny. "Hating him only hurts me," she says pointedly. Nolte is reliably solid as her wheezy, concerned dad. And Fernandez is utterly magnetic as the mercurial William. All of the characters are defined by rather simplistic filmmaking shorthand, but the actors give them plenty of weight.
Continue reading: Return to Sender Review
A young nurse training to work in surgery is encouraged to go on a blind date with her friend's single male friend Kevin. However, he doesn't seem at all how he was described when he shows up on her doorstep. Locking the door of her house once inside, he savagely assaults her before fleeing. It's only later, when a kind-faced man with a bunch of flowers arrives (the real Kevin), that she realises she had let a dangerous stranger into her home named William Finn. While being questioned by police, the nurse recalls seeing her attacker once before and he is soon rounded up and thrown behind bars. The attack has left her shellshocked, struggling to concentrate on her job and occasionally giving in to frenzy. She decides to start writing to William, but every letter is returned without being read. He eventually agrees to her visiting, and appears to show remorse just as the nurse appears to show forgiveness. She hasn't told anyone of her intentions, and her father is left terrified as she continues to speak to the brute as a free man.
Continue: Return To Sender Trailer
'Gracepoint' is set to drift away from the 'Broadchurch' narrative and will almost certainly feature a different ending.
Despite casting the same lead actor, those behind 'Gracepoint' - a remake of the acclaimed BBC crime drama 'Broadchurch' - insist the show will have differing plotlines to the original, as well as new characters.
Scottish actor David Tennant, who played troubled DI Alex Hardy so masterfully in Broadchurch returns for the U.S remake, alongside Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn. However, Fox executive producers Dan Futterman and Anya Epstein say they are keen to veer from the original narrative despite wanting to keep the overall aesthetics of Broadchurch intact.
Continue reading: Can Fox's 'Gracepoint' Grasp the Guile of BBC's 'Broadchurch'?
Darren Aronofsky continues to ambitiously experiment with genres in this Old Testament blockbuster, but this is his first real misstep as a filmmaker, as the impressive parts simply don't add up. Still, there are flashes of genius as the epic struggle between good and evil is echoed both in the grand spectacle and within the characters themselves.
It starts with the original sin, which divides Adam and Eve's sons - brutal killer Cain and peaceful caretaker Seth - into warring factions. A few generations later, all that's left of Seth's righteous line is Noah (Russell Crowe), his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and three sons (Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth and Leo McHugh Carroll), plus an adopted daughter (Emma Watson). After he has a vision that God is planning to cleanse mankind with a flood, Noah consults his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) and builds an ark to save his family and all of earth's animals. He also gets help from the Watchers, rock-encrusted fallen angels who previously assisted Cain's descendant Tubal (Ray Winstone), who goes into battle mode to stop Noah.
All of this is inventively set in a post-apocalyptic landscape left in ruins after generations of fighting. And Noah is the last true believer tending to creation, refusing to eat meat (although he wears leather accessories) and ruling over his family like a tyrant. This of course creates various carefully scripted conflicts for his family over the months they're stuck in the ark. But the moralising is never as deep as it pretends to be.
Continue reading: Noah Review
The Maroon 5 joked with Jimmy Kimmel about how deserving he is of the honour
Adam Levine was crowned the 'Sexiest Man Alive' by People Magazine this week, an honour that Levine himself thinks was duly deserved. Ok, he's probably not that big headed, but when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday (20 Nov.) night, he was more than happy to play along with the joke and big himself up, and his sexiness.
He's sexy and he knows it
"A lot of people trivialize this sort of thing. They say it's shallow and think it's just a media stunt used to sell magazines and perpetuate the image of Hollywood being based on looks. And that's totally true," the Maroon 5 frontman joked to his host. He continued, "But I'm completely cool with that."
The trailer for 'The Company You Keep' suggest Robert Redford has returned to form as a director.
Robert Redford appears to be back on track. Some five years after his disappointing drama 'Lions For Lambs', the Oscar winning director has returned to similar territory with 'The Company You Keep,' a slick looking drama starring an all-star cast. And when we say all-star cast, we really do mean it.
Redford stars and directs in the story of Jim Grant, a public interest lawyer and single father living in New York. Shia LaBeouf plays a scruffy intrepid journalist who exposes Grant as a man wanted for a murder he allegedly committed in his days as an anti-war radical. When another member of the Weather Underground - played by Susan Sarandon - is arrested, LaBeouf's Ben Shepard smells an opportunity to make a name for himself with a national story. The superb Stanley Tucci plays his prickly finger-pointing editor (is it us, or was he born to play a prickly finger-pointing editor?) while the excellent Anna Kendrick plays a vulnerable FBI agent. Elsewhere, there's a gruff looking Nick Nolte, the old-hand Richard Jenkins and legendary western actor Sam Elliott. Oh, and there's Brendan Gleeson. And Terrence Howard. And Julie Christie.
Ben Shepard is a young and ambitious reporter determined to make a name for himself in the media world. When Sharon Solarz, a member of the radical left organisation Weather Underground, is arrested for her involvement in a bank robbery and subsequent murder 30 years ago, Ben smells an important story that could be his big break. Meanwhile, attorney Jim Grant, a single father of an 11-year-old daughter named Isabel who was also involved in the crime, is forced on the run from the FBI as Ben sparks a new manhunt, but on the way he changes course in an effort to expose the truth and prove his innocence. Ben discovers that the whole story is more complicated than he initially thought, particularly as not everyone appears to be who they say they are.
Continue: The Company You Keep Trailer
Far better made than it has any right to be, this cheesy 70s-style thriller is given a thoroughly engaging kick by veteran filmmaker Hackford working outside his usual dramatic genre. It's predictable and far too long, but Hackford grounds everything in gritty reality, avoiding obnoxious effects work while indulging in entertaining innuendo and riotously nasty action sequences.
None of this is much of a stretch for the cast, and Statham's Parker is essentially the same character he always plays: a ruthlessly efficient, indestructible criminal with a conscience. After a gang of thugs (including Chiklis and Collins) betrays him following a fairgrounds heist, Parker miraculously recovers from his hideous injuries and heads to Florida to get revenge. He uses local estate agent Leslie (Lopez) to find the gang's lair, and she's instantly attracted to the way he fills out his designer suit. Living with her soap-addict mum (LuPone), Leslie is looking for a wealthy man to rescue her. And she's already too involved when she realises that Parker isn't who he seems to be.
There isn't much to the plot, which is packed with contrived twists and turns and never follows through the intriguing possibilities along the way. At least the film avoids the usual action cliches, as Hackford sharply orchestrates each fight sequence to make it both lucid and startlingly brutal. This earthy approach keeps things relatively believable, until Parker emerges with yet another serious injury that doesn't slow him down at all. Meanwhile, Hackford injects plenty of eyebrow-raising flirtation that keeps us smiling. Statham and Lopez may not be stretching themselves as actors, but they clearly have a lot of fun circling around each other like dogs on heat.
Continue reading: Parker Review
We Take A Look At The Biggest Oscar Upsets Over The Years
We here at Contactmusic.com really hope there's a massive upset at the Oscars on Sunday (February 24, 2013), for no other reason than it's fun to watch the actor who should have won sink into their chair and try and look happy for the surprise recipient, who is dancing in the aisle somewhere. Sometimes, you can pin-point the exact moment when the realisation of absolute failure kicks in. "I lost. I actually lost. I didn't win. Someone else won. I didn't win. I do not need to stand up."
Ok, so it looks unlikely that the 85th Academy Awards will throw up TOO many huge shocks, though should Daniel Day-Lewis miss out on Best Actor, that would certainly represent one of the biggest surprises in Oscar history. Then again, Tom Hanks was nailed on for Saving Private Ryan, and looked what happened there. We thought we'd take a look back at five unbelievable results at the Academy Awards, proving it's not always a done deal.
James Coburn Beats Ed Harris (Academy Awards, 1999)
Continue reading: Oscars 2013: Five People ROBBED Of An Academy Award
Daniel Day-Lewis will make Oscar history on February 26, 2013, when - as expected - he takes the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Steven Spielberg's critically acclaimed Lincoln. Should Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper, Joaquin Phoenix or even Denzel Washington steal away the gong, it would almost certainly represent the biggest Best Actor shock since Robert Benigni somehow usurped Tom Hanks and Nick Nolte to the award in 1999. Though Jack Nicholson was considered the favourite, Day-Lewis could have had another award in 2003, (Gangs Of New York) had Adrien Brody not upset the apple-cart for his role in The Pianist.
As 'Lincoln' prepares to hit screens in the UK, critics have seized the opportunity to laud Day-Lewis' performance - "legend", "genius" and "one of the greats" are words and phrases found in almost every review. Ian Nathan of Empire Magazine said, "As unexpected as it is intelligent, thanks to virtuoso work from Spielberg and Kushner, Lincoln is landmark filmmaking, while Day-Lewis is so authentic he pulls off that stovepipe." Matthew Turner of ViewLondon said, "Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an absorbing and enjoyable political drama with an Oscar-worthy central performance from Daniel Day-Lewis." Shaun Munro of What Culture agreed, writing, "Daniel Day-Lewis gives yet another performance for the ages in Steven Spielberg's admirably literate, thoroughly charming biopic."
Continue reading: Lincoln's Daniel-Day Lewis To Outdo Brando, Penn, Hanks With Oscar Win
This may be based on a true story, but the filmmakers never bother exploring the complexities of historical events, instead opting for a comic book-style approach that's entertaining but somewhat unsatisfying. Still, this style-over-substance approach at least produces a rollicking police thriller that's often a lot of fun to watch, packed with gifted actors who gleefully chomp through the scenery.
The setting is 1949 Los Angeles, where the notorious gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn) is launching a Chicago-style mob takeover of the city. The police chief (Nolte) is determined to stop him, but feels surrounded by corruption, so he hires straight-arrow detective John (Brolin) to head up a secret squad that will operate off the books to stop Cohen, whatever it takes. John's pregnant wife (Enos) isn't thrilled by this, but she helps him select his team: techie Conway (Ribisi), gunslinger Max (Patrick), hot-shot Coleman (Mackie) and quick-learning rookie Navidad (Pena). And then there's pretty-boy detective Jerry (Gosling), who courts danger by launching a fling with Mickey's moll Grace (Stone). Understandably, their task doesn't go smoothly.
Billed as the untold story of what really happened, the film ignores quite a few key facts while indulging in implausible plotting and overly colourful characterisations. In other words, it's impossible to believe anything we're watching, which eliminates all of the relevance and resonance that could have filled this story of police corruption, out-of-control capitalism and especially the use of illegal methods to do the right thing. Instead, the film is all shiny surfaces, with flashy production design, too-immaculate costumes and haircuts, and a plot that reduces a complex situation into a simplistic action movie narrative.
Continue reading: Gangster Squad Review