With its grindingly low-key tension and unusual perspectives, this Western has a chance to revamp the genre in intriguing ways. The first-rate cast adds plenty of depth to the usual roles, including a strong female point-of-view from Natalie Portman, who also produced the film. But some rather simplistic thematic touches undermine the originality, and the film never quite cracks through the surface to become something meaningful.
It's set in 1871 New Mexico, where Jane (Portman) lives on a hidden ranch with her outlaw husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) and their young daughter. But Bill's been badly injured, and the notorious scoundrel Bishop (Ewan McGregor) has vowed to track him down. For help Jane turns to her ex-fiance Dan (Joel Edgerton), an angry gunslinger who has never got over being abandoned by Jane all those years ago. He agrees to help her, and of course Bill isn't too happy about this, but he's too injured to protest. And Jane is so fiercely independent that she refuses to let her history with these two men define her future.
The premise is packed with all kinds of intriguing layers, but the script continually over-explains everything with a series of flashbacks to Jane's earlier encounters with Dan, Bishop, Bishop's hotheaded brother (Boyd Holbrook) and a particularly brutal desperado (Rodrigo Santoro). Not one of these people has even a hint of morality about them, which gives the actors a chance to inject a lot of complex texture into their performances. These are tough-minded men who never stop to think about the rule of law. And Portman's Jane is steelier than all of them, a woman who makes her own hard decisions in a place that doesn't let anyone off easily. Portman is terrific in the role, even if director Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) undermines her with his rather straightforward approach. Even so, her scenes with Edgerton and McGregor crackle with subtext.
Continue reading: Jane Got A Gun Review
Jane Hammond has always been an independent woman, but living in the developing West is precarious even for her. After a treacherous few years and constant aggravation from a nasty gang called The Bishop Boys, Jane marries a man by the name of Bill 'Ham' Hammond and things settle down.
However, when Hamm returns home badly injured after running into The Bishop Boys, Jane decides there's no other option but to face her past and take on the Colin McCann and the rest of the infamous gang. Jane contacts the only person she knows who she thinks will be able to help her, her ex-fiance and gunslinger Dan Frost. Recruiting Frost and returning to the family home, the three await the arrival of the gang. One way or another score will be settled.
Jane Got A Gun will be released in the UK from Spring 2016.
Frank is a remarkable cop with a lot to look forward to in his life, but as happy as he is, he still has major worries for the people around him. His brother Chris has just been released from prison after a gang-related murder several years ago. Frank wants to make sure Chris stays on the straight and narrow as he rebuilds his shattered life, and offers him shelter, a job and an opportunity to restore his relationships with his former wife Monica and his children. However, Chris also finds himself reconnecting with some old 'friends' and it soon becomes clear that he has no intention of living straight. All Frank wants is a happy and secure family, but if he keeps trying to save his wayward brother's back from the law, he could find himself facing an uncertain future in the force.
'Blood Ties' is the Hollywood re-make of Jacques Maillot's 2008 French film 'Les liens du sang' which is also adapted from the novel by Bruno and Michel Papet. It has been directed by Guillaume Canet ('Little White Lies', 'Tell No One', 'Whatever You Say') and co-written by James Gray ('Two Lovers', 'We Own the Night', 'The Yards') and is due to appear in theatres on March 21st 2014.
In 1979 Ohio, Joe (Courtney) is struggling with the fact that his mother has died in an accident. But it's summertime, so he and his pal Charles (Griffiths) decide to make a zombie movie with their friends (Lee, Basso and Mills).
Enlisting the help of their hot schoolmate Alice (Fanning), they are shooting a scene when they witness a train crash and some suspicious ensuing military mayhem. Suddenly the town is under the control of a harsh general (Emmerich), while Joe and his friends know a lot more than he thinks.
Continue reading: Super 8 Review
Valerie Plame (Watts) is a high-level CIA operative juggling teams in a variety of locations. In the wake of 9/11, her focus is on investigating Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons programme. Her husband, Joe Wilson (Penn), is the expert sent to Niger to investigate uranium rumours, but he finds no evidence.
And this is backed up by Valerie's discoveries from scientists in Iraq. So when Joe hears George W Bush lying in a State of the Union address, he writes a rebuttal. Enraged, Bush administration official Scooter Libby (Andrews) releases Valerie's identity.
Continue reading: Fair Game Review
In a small Northeastern community, Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) secretly has a huge cult following. A gaggle of housewives, including obvious peculiarity Sarah (the consistently outstanding Kate Winslet), adore Brad from afar as he takes his son to the playground (he's a stay-at-home dad) each day, whispering his nickname between them: "The Prom King." After a dare that leads to a small kiss, Sarah and Brad start spending time together at the town pool with their kids. Rumors fly and the neighborhood becomes a cauldron of suspicion as the town learns that a reformed pedophile named Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley) has just moved back to the neighborhood.
Continue reading: Little Children Review
The plot is so simple as to defy description: A lot of New York cops live across the water in Jersey, and it turns out they are all beholden to the mob. It's up to fat, half-deaf Sheriff Freddy (Sly) to expose this atrocity!!! Would that there were more to say, Cop Land builds its "mystery" by simply not telling you what's going on. Only after an hour or so do you piece together the whole mob angle, and then the audience realizes, "Hey, there's nothing happening here!" Note to Mangold: Watch L.A. Confidential a few times if you want to see how clever plot structure goes, not to mention throwing in a little wit here and there.
Continue reading: Cop Land Review
Miracle's focuses falls heavily on coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), both in how he chooses his players and how he re-trains them to play his way en route to the winter Olympic games in Lake Placid, N.Y. Brooks preaches team chemistry to his players, but it's the cast that catches on. Miracle isn't a movie of individuals, it's the perfect combination of unknown actors and veteran stars.
Continue reading: Miracle Review
During the war, the Japanese were masters at stealing and translating the codes used by U.S. troops to communicate messages to and from the front lines. There was a huge loss of life as a result of these interceptions. In response, the Marines recruited Navajos to act as code talkers, and used their intricate tribal language as a new, unbreakable code. Woo's Windtalkers is an intense and emotional look at the critical role the Navajos played in the United States' success in the war.
Continue reading: Windtalkers Review
The Navajo code talkers who are the ostensive focus of the new John Woo World War II movie have so little to do with the story that calling the picture "Windtalkers" feels like a sham.
Sure it opens with a breathtaking shot of rock formations in the Arizona's Monument Valley, giving the film an immediate sense of place and spirituality. But it's essentially the same shot Woo used to open "Mission: Impossible 2," minus a rock-climbing Tom Cruise and plus a touch of reverent native flute music on the soundtrack.
Sure one of the main characters is a Navajo named Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) who has a hard time fitting in with his Marine unit, which is teeming with countrified Southern bigots. And sure, once the Pacific island combat scenes get rolling Ben calls in a few air strikes using the never-broken Navajo language-based code that helped win the war.
Continue reading: Windtalkers Review
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