After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something even better: an original movie musical that is shamelessly enjoyable. It somehow manages to be a feel-good triumph as well as a darkly honest exploration of the quest for fame and romance in Los Angeles. And with fantastic songs, colourful choreography and already iconic performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this is pure cinematic joy.
It opens in a traffic jam on a warm winter's day, where aspiring actress Mia (Stone) first encounters struggling jazz musician Sebastian (Gosling). They meet a couple more times before they begin to share the troubles they are facing trying to make their dreams come true. As romance blossoms, Mia urges Sebastian to go for his passion project to create a proper jazz bar, while Sebastian supports Mia's attempt to write a one-woman show to display her talents. But there are huge pressures to endure and obstacles to overcome as this city pushes them to compromise.
Chazelle establishes the film's musical tone from the opening moment, a breathtaking single-take full-on musical number on a freeway flyover. And the movie only gets better from there, deepening the two central characters as every scene is packed with hilarious comedy, honest romance and wrenching drama. Gosling and especially Stone are perfect in these roles, drawing on their already established chemistry as they add singing and dancing to their repertoires.
Continue reading: La La Land Review
It's been a pretty spooky year...
It's almost Halloween and, if you're staying in, you're going to have to go through that difficult process of deciding what film to put on. 2015 has seen rather a few horror movies, but it has to be noted that only a handful of them are worth your time.
Mia Wasikowska stars in Crimson Peak
Here's the top five best and worst scary films of the year:
Continue reading: What Should You Watch This Halloween? 2015 Horror Films Ranked
While audiences have become weary of constant remakes, film-makers live in fear of them - especially iconic 1980s Spielberg films.
Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper's 1982 haunted house movie 'Poltergeist' is so iconic that remaking it has always scared away filmmakers. Instead, they have merely been mimicking its innovative approach for more than 30 years.
'Poltergeist' was released on 22nd May 2015
The remake's star Rosemarie DeWitt couldn't agree more. "I mean they rip it off constantly in the horror genre," she says. "So now we just didn't 'pretend' to not make 'Poltergeist', we just made 'Poltergeist'! Because the younger generation doesn't know that movie."
Continue reading: 'Poltergeist''s New Cast Take On A Classic
Ron Livingston, Rosemarie DeWitt and Gracie James Livingston - Ron Livingston takes his film actress wife Rosemarie DeWitt and their adopted daughter Gracie James shopping at The Grove in Hollywood - Los Angeles, California, United States - Monday 27th April 2015
Finding the perfect house is an important part of starting a family. But for one family, the perfect house may not be all that they first thought. The Bowen family, Eric (Sam Rockwell), Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt), Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and young Madison (Kennedi Clements) are in for a terrifying surprise, when they discover that their estate was built upon the sight of an ancient graveyard. But rather than realising there is an army of vengeful spirits, they are under attack from a horrific poltergeist. When they seek help from paranormal expert Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris), the poltergeist itself begins to discover everyone's true inner fear, and uses it against them.
Continue: Poltergeist - Teaser Trailer
There's a fundamental flaw to this multi-strand social media-themed drama: it's told completely from the perspective of older people who are fearful about the possibilities, rather than the generation for whom electronic communication is the norm. It's well-made by director Jason Reitman (age 36) and his cowriter Erin Cressida Wilson (50) from the novel by Chad Kultgen (38), but it kind of misses the point that this is the future of human interaction. So younger (or more switched-on) viewers won't buy the cautionary message.
IR's set in Austin, Texas, where Rachel and Don (Rosemarie DeWitt and Adam Sandler) are each so focussed on finding space outside their marriage that they don't notice that their teen son Chris (Travis Tope) is hanging out with self-proclaimed slutty cheerleader Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia). Her best friend Allison (Elena Kamporis) is starving herself to be like her, spurred on by her mother (Judy Greer), who is doing everything she can to make Allison a star. Meanwhile, Patricia (Jennifer Garner) is desperate to control how her daughter Brandy (Kaitkyn Dever) uses small-screens, especially worried about her growing friendship with Tim (Ansel Elgort), whose father (Dean Norris) is annoyed that he has quit the school football team.
Oddly, the film seems to adopt the adults' fears as its central tone: the internet and mobile phone communications are potentially dangerous, addictive and isolating. But this makes the film feel more like a sermon than a set of intertwined stories. A far more interesting approach would be to explore how communication and relationships are shifting due to the influence of online media. Indeed, the generational aspects to the films various plotlines are the most compelling elements, with clashing points of view between grown-ups and kids. But audience members who believe that mobile phones and social media sites are the future will struggle with the way Reitman presents them as inherently troublesome.
Continue reading: Men, Women & Children Review
Kill the Messenger follows the real life story of Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), as he stumbles upon the story of a lifetime. When Webb hears that the US government was aware of the exportation of drugs to America, he begins following up the story. This, in turn, leads him to uncover a conspiracy where the CIA imported vast amounts of cocaine to sell in the US in order to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras rebel army. Webb is then faced with the option to leave the story alone, or continue his investigation and put his career, family and own life at risk.
Continue: Kill The Messenger Trailer
One group of very different people - including popular high school teens and their less popular peers, and a married couple struggling in their relationship - is explored in a telling story of how social media has taken over various areas of people's lives. From love lives and infidelities to body image, the world of social networking has become a hub for public scrutiny and lack of privacy as the world flock to the net in order to gain acceptance and admiration, to meet potential partners, become famous, or even bully each other. 'Men, Women & Children' looks at the dangerous rise in the sharing of sexually explicit content, cyberbullying and other disastrous effects that the web has had on the Western world.
Continue: Men, Women & Children Trailer
After a couple of gimmicky transgressive comedies (Humpday and Your Sister's Sister), writer-director Lynn Shelton takes a more observant approach this time. So even if, as before, the script never quite fills in the gaps in the story, it at least knowingly recreates relational awkwardness in a remarkably sensitive way. And the characters are almost eerily easy to identify with.
The centre of the story is Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), who is debating whether she should move in with her rebound boyfriend (Scoot McNairy). This sparks her to think about her whole life, and she ends up recoiling at the idea of touching human flesh. Which is a problem since she's a massage therapist. By contrast, her dentist brother Paul (Josh Pais) believes he might have the ability to heal his patients, so he consults Abby's reiki-practitioner colleague (Alison Janney) for advice. Meanwhile, Paul's daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) is terrified to tell her father that she hates working as his assistant. And she's even more afraid to admit that she has a crush on her aunt's boyfriend.
Along the way, Abby, Paul and Jenny are all pushed into a turning point in their lives by an unexpected change in circumstances, which of course feels a bit contrived. But the film's real strength is in the messy connection between family members who have issues with themselves and each other, all of which are expressed through clumsy conversations and uncomfortable physicality. As insecure siblings, DeWitt and Pais are terrific in complex roles that draw on the actors' nervous energy. But only Pais and McNairy are genuinely likeable: men who haven't a clue what to do. By contrast, the always terrific Page and Janney have much less-developed roles.
Continue reading: Touchy Feely Review
Hydraulic fracturing might not be the most compelling subject for a movie, but it provides a topical backdrop for this engaging drama about ethics. It also lets actor-screenwriter Damon reunite with his Good Will Hunting director Van Sant for another strikingly well-made movie centring around a handful of strong characters. And while we know what the filmmakers feel about this contentious issue, at least the script isn't heavy handed about it.
The story takes place in a rural New England town, where oil company workers Steve and Sue (Damon and McDormand) are trying to secure the leases needed to drill for natural gas. The farmers badly need the cash to keep in business, but a retired science teacher (Holbrook) voices concern about the potential dangers of "fracking". He's joined by environmental activist Dustin (Krasinski) to turn the town against Steve and Sue's multinational corporation. And Dustin even starts to meddle in a budding romance between Steve and local teacher Alice (DeWitt).
The script is cleverly constructed to make us wonder who is telling the full truth. There are obviously risks associated with fracking, but have they been exaggerated by politically motivated campaigns? Damon plays Steve as a straight-arrow, a nice guy who genuinely believes that the process is safe. Meanwhile, Krasinski is a but more slippery as the grassroots voice of caution, and the terrific McDormand gets all the best lines.
Continue reading: Promised Land Review
Steve Butler is a successful businessman as part of a natural gas company who wishes to close down failing farming communities in order to obtain resources. He and his business partner Sue Thomason go to visit a particular town that is suffering a lot in the economic crisis in the hope that it will be easy to get drilling rights for the farmers' land in order to gain important resources through hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as 'fracking'. Things do seem easy at first, with his proposition providing some hope of economic relief for many members of the community, however he is soon challenged when a highly regarded teacher from the school and a determined grassroots campaigner object to the proposal and go about trying to get the rest of the town to vote against it.
'Promised Land' is a particularly appropriate film for the current economic climate and raises important issues that are of real concern to many. It has been directed by Gus Van Sant ('Good Will Hunting', 'Milk', 'Paris, je t'aime'), written by the movie's stars John Krasinski and Oscar winner Matt Damon (writer of 'Good Will Hunting') and based on a story by Dave Eggers ('Away We Go', 'Where the Wild Things Are') and is set to hit screens in the UK next year on April 19th 2013.
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Continue: Promised Land Trailer
After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...
Finding the perfect house is an important part of starting a family. But for one...
There's a fundamental flaw to this multi-strand social media-themed drama: it's told completely from the...
Kill the Messenger follows the real life story of Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), as...
One group of very different people - including popular high school teens and their less...
After a couple of gimmicky transgressive comedies (Humpday and Your Sister's Sister), writer-director Lynn Shelton...
Abby is a particularly well-rated massage therapist who enjoys living life to the fullest while...
Hydraulic fracturing might not be the most compelling subject for a movie, but it provides...
Steve Butler is a successful businessman as part of a natural gas company who wishes...
You'd think that a film written by Stern (the surprisingly witty Mr Popper's Penguins) and...
The Watch are Costco manager Evan, father of a teenage daughter Bob, police reject Franklin...
As with Humpday, writer-director Shelton plays around with transgressive sexuality in this lively, watchable comedy-drama....