Richard Jenkins - 21st Annual SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center - Arrivals at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center, Screen Actors Guild - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 25th January 2015
Despite a strong sense of the characters and the setting, this film struggles to engage viewers with its downbeat story about how tough life is. Even though the performances are powerful enough to hold the attention, the film feels like it drifts aimlessly along, never coming into focus in a meaningful way. And since everything is right on the surface, there isn't much subtext to help the events resonate with the audience.
In the God's Pocket neighbourhood in 1980s Philadelphia, everyone knows everything about each others' lives. Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works as a driver delivering meat, but spends just as much time planning small-time scams with his pal Arthur (John Turturro). Then his life is thrown out of balance when his hothead stepson Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) dies in what is suspiciously described as a workplace accident. Mickey's wife Jeanie (Christina Hendricks) struggles to cope with her son's death, so Mickey is easily pressured by the local mortician (Eddie Marsan) into buying a funeral he can't afford. To make some extra cash, he plans a heist with Arthur and their careless pal Sal (Domenick Lombardozzi), which predictably goes awry. Meanwhile, a famed local journalist (Richard Jenkins) starts looking into Leon's death.
It's not like the film is low on plot: there are plenty of story strands to push each character further into their own personal desperation. And the tightly knit setting provides an intriguing counterpoint as everyone's dirty laundry is aired for all to see, which pushes their true emotions even further underground. This lets the actors deliver riveting performances, even as they're all beaten down to mere husks of humanity. In one of his final roles, Hoffman is terrific as a guy for whom everything goes relentlessly wrong. Hendricks is pretty wrenching as the rather drippy Jeanie, whose interaction with Jenkins is both warm and depressing. Thankfully, Turturro and Marsan provide a spark of energy, as does Joyce Van Patten in a scene-stealing role as Arthur's gun-crazy aunt.
Continue reading: God's Pocket Review
Whizzy and superficial, this isn't the most complicated animated film ever made, but it's a lot of fun if you can buy into its silly premise about a snail who moves at super-fast speed. Aside from its riotous sense of energy and thrilling action sequences, the script is also packed with enough deranged humour to keep the adults laughing along with the kids.
It starts in a normal garden, where Theo (voiced by Reynolds) dreams of racing his human idol, the Indy champ Guy Gagne (Hader). Theo even calls himself "Turbo", annoying his pragmatic brother Chet (Giamatti). Then a freak accident involving nitrous-oxide gives him lightning speed. In search of a chance to race, he meets another dreamer with a practical-minded brother: Tito (Pena) is a man who owns a taco truck with his grumpy sibling Angelo (Guzman). And it's Tito who works with local business owners (Jenkins, Jeong and Rodriguez) to help Turbo achieve his goal to enter the Indianapolis 500 and race against his hero. On the track, Turbo is assisted by a pit-crew of Tito's pet snails (Jackson, Rudolph, Dogg and Schwartz).
Yes, the plot is preposterous, but the script openly acknowledges the insanity of the "snail vs car" race, maintaining the dizzying size discrepancy as all of the characters are just as incredulous as we are. The filmmakers also create a hilarious snail underworld packed with running gags about the perils of being so little. Although they haven't included much slime, which is a strange omission for a movie aimed primarily at pre-teen boys. Still, each snail (and each human too) is such a bundle of big personality traits that we don't really mind the gender and ethnic stereotypes.
Continue reading: Turbo Review
This may look exactly like Gerard Butler's over-serious Olympus Has Fallen, but it's actually that film's smarter, sillier younger brother: the one you like even though you really shouldn't. As he did with 2012, filmmaker Emmerich has injected this huge action romp with a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek humour while never sacrificing the overwrought spectacle. So even if it's wildly contrived and ludicrously patriotic, it's so gleefully destructive that we can't help but have a lot of fun.
It starts out as ex-military man John (Tatum) tries to impress his estranged 11-year-old daughter Emily (King) by taking her along with him on a job interview at the White House. At that moment, home-grown terrorists strike, led by a disgruntled security chief (Woods). In the chaos, John gets separated from Emily, and as he looks for her he stumbles across the US President (Foxx). As John and the President work to subvert the villains, the politically savvy Emily is posting videos of them on YouTube, which helps the Pentagon command centre, overseen by security chief Carol (Gyllenhaal) and Speaker Raphelson (Jenkins), keep the nation from falling apart. But it turns out that one of the baddies (Clarke) has a personal vendetta against John.
As always, Emmerich infuses the film with a sombre tone then undermines it at every step with witty irony. Each scene is packed with quirky characters, snappy one-liners, knowingly corny sentimentality and bigger-than-necessary mayhem. For example, he manages to wedge a full-on car chase into the White House grounds, complete with a rocket launcher. At the centre, Tatum and Foxx are a lively double-act, bouncing off each other with feisty energy. Furrowed-brow gravitas is supplied by Gyllenhaal, Jenkins and Woods, while scene-stealers include King's plucky young hero and Simpson's megalomaniac hacker.
Continue reading: White House Down Review
Turbo has big dreams for such a small garden snail; dreams that stretch beyond his regular, sluggish, plant-pot dwelling life. He wants to become the fastest mover in the world, even faster than his favourite racing driver, and compete at the IndyCar races, but, as nature would have it, no matter how much training he does, he simply can't gather speed. However, one day, while gazing at the blurry flow of traffic on a highway, his wish comes true when he is sucked into the back of a vehicle and submerged in a tank of nitrous oxide. On making an escape, he finds himself glowing like a lightbulb and zooming past his inching friends a hundred times faster than he ever believed was possible. On his journey to speedy stardom, he meets Whiplash, Skidmark, Burn, Smooth Move and White Shadow; a crew of other racer wannabes who take him under their wings.
Continue: Turbo - Clips