An unusually inventive approach brings this story to life, as the filmmakers get into the mind of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson to reveal how he created those unforgettable songs. Even more impressive is the depiction of Wilson's troubled personal life, which plays out with an unnerving resonance rarely matched by rock-star biopics. This is due to artful direction and writing plus committed performances from Paul Dano and John Cusack, who play Wilson at two key points in his life.
As a young man in the 1960s, Brian Wilson (Dano) is a prodigious genius, preferring to stay in the studio while his brothers Dennis and Carl (Kenny Wormald and Brett Davern) and their bandmate Mike Love (Jake Abel) head out to meet girls on tour. They don't understand Brian's obsession with oddball sounds, but let him do his thing until it becomes clear that he's mentally unstable. Years later, in the late 1980s, Brian (now Cusack) falls for Cadillac saleswoman Melinda (Elizabeth Banks), who realises that he is being over-medicated and possibly abused by his controlling psychiatrist guardian Eugene (Paul Giamatti). And instead of leaving, as Eugene orders her to do, she fights for Brian.
These two time periods are interwoven together in a strikingly seamless way, shifting back and forth to build a potent dramatic and emotional momentum. By seeing everything from Wilson's perspective, the filmmakers are able to take the audience on a remarkable journey through his life, avoiding the usual predictable formula. Wilson's life may follow the usual trajectory of success followed by drug abuse, but his mental illness adds an involving angle that's depicted with sensitivity by Dano and Cusack, as well as director Bill Pohlad and writers Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner. Even more impressive is Banks' performance, which is the key that takes us right into the story. It's a beautifully textured turn that reminds us that she can do a lot more than steal movies in comical roles (see Pitch Perfect, Magic Mike and The Hunger Games).
Continue reading: Love & Mercy Review
The Beach Boys songwriter is portrayed by Paul Dano and John Cusack in this moving biopic.
The full story of The Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson is finally hitting the movies in the form of Bill Pohlad's challenging, life-spanning biopic 'Love & Mercy' which stars Paul Dano and John Cusack as the respective younger and older Wilsons.
Paul Dano stars as a young Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy'
While being responsible for writing one of the most important rock albums in history, 1966's 'Pet Sounds', Brian Wilson was at the most fragile stage of his life during that decade. Dragged down mentally and emotionally by the stress of song-writing he took comfort in drug use and was subsequently forced to seek a range of psychological treatments. As tensions within the band grew, he became more and more erratic and lost in a confusing world of hallucinations and psychosis. Paul Dano plays Wilson's enthusiastic younger self, while John Cusack takes on the role of the broken man that came decades after. Paul Giamatti also makes an appearance as Wilson's crooked psychologist Eugene Landy who fed him excessively high dosages of medicative drugs and prevented him from seeing his partner Melinda Ledbetter (who is played by Elizabeth Banks).
Dave (Harrelson) is struggling to hold his fractured family together while covering up his dodgy activities as a cop in L.A.'s rough Rampart district. He lives with his two ex-wives (Heche and Nixon) and two daughters (Larson and Boyarsky), while developing a tentative relationship with a lawyer (Wright).
But his vigilante-style approach to his job leaves him with few friends, while his addiction to prescription drugs is sending him into a downward spiral. And now he's being harassed by the D.A. (Weaver) and her investigator (Ice Cube).
Continue reading: Rampart Review
In the midst of the 1990's Rampart Scandal, Dave Brown works for the LAPD and is the most corrupt cop you're ever likely to meet. He is racist, homophobic and chauvinistic and that's just the tip of the iceberg. In his mind, he thinks he is an action hero and he has dedicated himself to doing 'the people's dirty work'. In his personal life, he has two ex-wives - both of them sisters - and has fathered two daughters between them.
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Will (Foster) is just out of military hospital after being injured while serving in Iraq; his relationship with his girlfriend (Malone) is strained, and he's not happy about his new assignment informing families about the deaths of loved ones in the warzone. His mentor for the job is the jaded Tony (Harrelson), who survives by maintaining his distance from the families: "Don't touch the NOK" (next of kin), he tells Will. But Will can't help but reach out to them, and one widow (Morton) makes a particularly strong impression on him.
Continue reading: The Messenger Review
Ben Foster, Oren Moverman and Woody Harrelson - Ben Foster, Oren Moverman, Woody Harrelson New York City, USA - The New York premiere of 'The Messenger' held at Clearview's Chelsea Cinema Sunday 8th November 2009
What's pleasurable about this film, and the way the story unfolds, is its elegant simplicity. No more than ten minutes into the movie, Sachs and his co-screenwriter Oren Moverman have skillfully limned each of the main characters' hopes and ambitions and set in motion the levers of conflict that drive the story forward. Harry wants to experience the type of romantic love that has long since vanished, if it ever existed, from his marriage with Pat (Patricia Clarkson), while she, for her part, longs for greater passion and the adolescent thrill of sex. Kay (Rachel McAdams), Harry's mistress, seeks true love for the second time after losing her husband in World War II, and Richard, a womanizing bachelor, hopes to discover the ability to form an emotional connection with a woman.
Continue reading: Married Life Review
At first, he's a young, train-hopping wanderer who has taken the name Woody (Marcus Carl Franklin), from his hero Woody Guthrie. He also plays a guitar with "This Machine Kills Fascism" painted on it. Later, the man appears as an aged Billy the Kid (Richard Gere) who can't understand why the locals are being bullied out of their land by a decrepit Pat Garrett (Bruce Greenwood). Fitfully, the sequences are shot in the dusty browns of Peckinpah and the hippie westerns of the late 1960s and 1970s. Both stories, along with the others, are consistently interrupted by a press conference with poet Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw), who speaks in a particularly American sarcasm while scrutinizing everyone who questions him, half-mumbling with cigarette in hand.
Continue reading: I'm Not There Review
After several shots of rotgut to wash down the uppers, downers and endless fuel of smack, bleary eyed Wayne asks FH if he wants to make a couple bucks to pay for the drinks they're gonna have later (we realize it's only mid-afternoon by this point.) They meander off to a nearby house and proceed to rip the copper wiring out of the walls. "Yep," Wayne chuckles. "This ought to be worth forty bucks - enough to get drunk tonight. Heh heh."
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The life of demure, respectful teenager Kim (Bai Ling) is forever altered when, after being raped by acquaintance Daniel (Will Yun Lee), she discovers she's pregnant and is forced by her mother Mrs. Lieu (Kieu Chinh) - who blames Kim for the situation, and who's eager to minimize her own dishonor - to marry her spiteful attacker. Desperate to escape this miserable betrothed life, Kim eventually snaps, leaving the baby girl in her mother's care before fleeing for Hong Kong. Nineteen years later, Kim returns to Queens to attend her resentful daughter Genie's (Kristy Wu) high school graduation, only to find tradition-rejecting history repeating itself. Ignoring her grandmother's disapproving stance toward anything modern or American, Genie surreptitiously wears belly shirts that display her forbidden naval piercing, hangs out with non-Chinese friends, and has begun dating Michael (Anthony "Treach" Criss, frontman for Naughty by Nature), an African-American DJ whose skin color makes him, in the eyes of Genie's elderly guardian, an unacceptable boyfriend.
Continue reading: Face (2002) Review