With a huge budget and a relatively small story, this is an intriguingly offbeat blockbuster that might struggle to find an audience. Basically, it's aimed at fans of more thoughtful, personal stories of tenacity and survival, but it's shot with a massive special effects budget that sometimes seems to swamp the drama. Still, it's involving and moving. And it's also fascinatingly based on the true events that inspired Moby Dick.
The story is framed in 1850 as novelist Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) visits an ageing sailor named Tom (Brendan Gleeson) to quiz him about a momentous event in his past that he has never spoken of. Flash back to 1820 Nantucket, and Tom (Tom Holland) is a rookie crew member on the whaling ship Essex, working under the posh, privileged Captain George (Benjamin Walker) and his able but low-class first mate Owen (Chris Hemsworth). As these these two leaders clash against each other, the ship sails off for what will be a very long journey. Eventually they head into the Pacific in search of a mythical pod of whales. But when they find it, they run afoul of a gigantic white whale that takes their arrival personally, sinking their ship and pursuing the survivors in their lifeboats.
All of this is staged as an epic battle between humanity and nature, with layers of interest in the way these men strain to survive against unimaginable odds. It's a riveting story, beautifully shot and rendered with immersive effects. And the cast members create complex characters who are profoundly changed by their experience. Not only is there mammoth action, but there's plenty of barbed interaction and even some strongly emotional moments that bring the themes home to a modern audience. Sometimes this aspect feels a bit corny, as clearly whalers at the time wouldn't feel remorse about killing one of these majestic creatures. But we would.
Continue reading: In The Heart Of The Sea Review
A sparky ensemble helps make this film entertaining even if the plot is simplistic and the themes very tame for a movie that is trying so hard to be anarchic. August: Osage County this isn't! Instead, it blends warm comedy, silly slapstick and a heavy dose of sentiment to tell a story that's engaging but never remotely surprising. But the terrific cast makes it well worth a look.
It opens as Judd (Jason Bateman) sees his life go from bad to worse: he catches his wife (Abigail Spencer) in bed with his boss (Dax Shepard), then learns that his father has died. Back home for the funeral, his mother (Jane Fonda) announces that she wants Judd to sit shiva, seven days of mourning, with his three estranged siblings: frazzled housewife Wendy (Tina Fey), frustrated Paul (Corey Stoll) and party boy Phillip (Adam Driver). Everyone in this family is dealing with relationship issues, so they all get involved in each others' lives again, even though none of them likes to talk about these things (except their hilariously over-sharing mother). So as Judd and Wendy reconnect with old flames (Rose Byrne and Timothy Olyphant, respectively), Paul and Phillip have to clarify things with their partners (Kathryn Hahn and Connie Britton).
Each of the various subplots touches on a big issue, although Jonathan Tropper's script never digs too deeply, relying on superficial comedy and simplistic emotion rather than anything too provocative. This is an odd approach for a film that is essentially trying to say that life is messy. Even the funeral and grieving are used more for laughs than emotion, as are old rivalries and perceived betrayals. Much of the brawling, insulting and teasing is genuinely funny, but only because the cast members have so much fun with it all. Bateman offers his usual likeable everyman, generating terrific chemistry with Fey, Stoll and Driver, as well as some jagged wit in his scenes with the always superb Byrne. And Fonda steals the show as an unapologetic woman who says the wrong thing at just the right time.
Continue reading: This Is Where I Leave You Review
Isabella Hatkoff, Jane Rosenthal, Paula Weinstein and Hannah Rosenberg - Stars turned out in numbers for the Tribeca Film Institute's Annual Bennefit Gala for an Exclusive screening of upcoming comedy drama movie 'This is Where I Leave You' starring Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda and many more - Manhattan, New York, United States - Tuesday 9th September 2014
Jane Rosenthal and Paula Weinstein - 2013 Tribeca Film Festival - 30th anniversary restoration of 'The King of Comedy' - Festival Closing Premiere - New York City, NY, United States - Saturday 27th April 2013
Bobby Walker (Affleck) is a high-flying shipping executive stunned when he's fired after 12 years on the job. Company founder Gene (Jones) is furious at the CEO (Nelson) for sacrificing thousands of employees to guarantee bigger profits for stockholders and executives. And his 30-year-veteran colleague Phil (Cooper) is worried that he might get the chop in the next wave of cuts. While Bobby struggles to accept his unemployment, his wife (DeWitt) is more realistic, suggesting that Bobby take a job with her builder brother (Costner) to tide them over.
Continue reading: The Company Men Review
Brooks is back with another warm, smart romance along the lines of As Good As It Gets. The snappy characters are well-played by a strong cast, which makes it steadily entertaining even if it's not hugely believable.
Professional softball player Lisa (Witherspoon) and businessman Paul (Rudd) are strangers who are set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. But they discount the possibility of even meeting because Paul has become serious with his girlfriend (Conn) and Lisa is seeing a star baseball player (Wilson). Then their lives both take a turn. Lisa is cut from her team, and Paul becomes the target of a Federal investigation into the business he runs for his father (Nicholson). As their paths keep crossing, they begin to see each other in a different light.
As usual, Brooks writes extremely clever dialog that blends brainy sassiness and emotional resonance, and the film is packed with scenes in which characters have all kinds of lucid insight into the nature or relationships, usually in contrast to someone who's extremely clueless. The formula is a bit of a strain, but it keeps us engaged, mainly because the script crackles with hilariously incisive one-liners and comical gags.
And the cast members all play their roles as if they're sliding into comfy slippers. Witherspoon and Wilson are funny and laid back as well as effortlessly astute and oblivious, respectively. Rudd is breezy and adorable even as his life is flooded with sadness. Nicholson squirms a bit in an against-type role but comes up with some fine comical moments. And everyone is hugely likeable, even when two of them do rather nasty things to the other two.
Although actually they only think nasty thoughts, because the film never gets very down and dirty about the story's dark corners. It's one of those films that skims happily across the surface while making pointed observations that catch us off guard because they seem to reveal something about the nature of relationships. This leaves us feeling warm and thoughtful, even if the film ultimately fades from memory in about the time it takes for the lights to come up in the cinema.
Paula Weinstein, AFI and The Company - Paula Weinstein and daughter Hannah Hollywood, California - AFI Fest 2010 - 'The Company Men' screening held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre - Arrivals Wednesday 10th November 2010
The overly cutesy name refers to a man who is both a farmer and named Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton), a rancher in a small Texas town who never gave up his youthful dreams of becoming an astronaut, and so continues pursuing them in his spare time. Out in his barn, he's spent years building a rocket out of salvaged parts in order to finally get himself into outer space. Farmer's entire family revolves around his dream: His 15-year-old son runs mission control, his adorable little girls play moon games, and his family ranch is mortgaged to the hilt to pay for it.
Continue reading: The Astronaut Farmer Review
Headstrong Eva (Union) repeatedly interferes in her three sisters' romantic relationships. Hoping to get her off their collective cases, three frustrated friends hire ladies man James (LL Cool J) to seduce the manipulative minx. But James and Eva fall in love despite their obvious differences, and everyone comes to discover that a satisfied Eva causes more problems than an irritated one.
Continue reading: Deliver Us From Eva Review
Djimon Hounsou plays Solomon Vendy, a fisherman who just wants a better life for his son. But when the rebels come, he is unwillingly thrust into the midst of the violence -- his family is scattered, he is captured, their village is decimated. He is working the diamond mines at gunpoint when he catches, and hides, an epic stone -- huge, flawless, and slightly pink.
Continue reading: Blood Diamond Review
It begins with two working stiffs, Tim (Ben Stiller) and Nick (Jack Black) plodding their lives away at a 3M facility. By-the-book Tim is creeping into middle management while dreamer Nick wallows on the factory floor concocting wacky ideas for useless products. All of that changes when one of Nick's hare-brained schemes, a spray that dissolves dog excrement called Vapoorize (No. Stop. I think I'm gonna bust a gut.), pans out and makes millions.
Continue reading: Envy (2004) Review
While it might make a charming book-on-tape for the Oprah crowd, this "love loves to love love" hokum masquerades as a real movie. The present day academics exist in counterpoint to the period movie flashbacks (basically Jeremy Northam donning his suit again and looking forlorn, intercut with shots of his beautiful mistress Jennifer Ehle looking voluptuous and forlorn). And they talk, talk, talk about subtext within the letters; but they're actually talking about each other. Yes, it's When Harry Met Sally in the Library. So help me God, Eckhart's emotional revelation is when he asks Paltrow, "Is there an Us in You and Me?" (If I were Paltrow, I'd say, "I'll call you.")
Continue reading: Possession Review
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