Roberto "Manos de Piedra" Duran was fierce in the ring, his poor upbringing on the streets of Panama all contributed to the man he became. He's extremely tough but his wild streak stops him from becoming the champion he ought to be.
Enter Ray Arcel, Arcel was an old pro, the best of the best and had taken many boxers into the ring and seen them come out the champion. Arcel could clearly see that Duran had a gift and though technically the trainer was retired, Duran's talent made him take his place back at the side of the ring.
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This film proves that all the right ingredients don't necessarily make a movie work. Even with top-drawer filmmakers and actors, this dramatic thriller simply never grabs our interest. It looks great, and everyone is giving it their all, but the story and characters remain so badly undefined that we can't identify with either.
The story's set on the US-Mexico border, where a slick lawyer (Fassbender) known as "the Counsellor" has slightly too much going on in his life. He has just proposed to his dream woman Laura (Cruz), while he's planning to open a nightclub with Reiner (Bardem). For extra cash, he's organising a massive cocaine shipment with Westray (Pitt). And it's this drug deal that goes wrong, creating a mess that engulfs Reiner and Laura, as well as Reiner's shrewd girlfriend Malkina (Diaz). As his life collapses around him, the Counsellor scrambles to salvage what he can, even as he realises that it'll be a miracle if anyone survives.
There are problems at every level of this production. McCarthy's first original script is simply too literary, putting verbose dialog into the actors mouths that never sounds like people talking to each other. Fassbender and Bardem are good enough to get away with this, but Pitt and Diaz struggle. Both Fassbender and Cruz bring out some wrenching emotions in their scenes, but their characters are never much more than cardboard cutouts. In fact, no one in this story feels like a fully fleshed-out person. And the little we know about each character makes most of them fairly unlikeable.
Continue reading: The Counselor Review
'The Counsellor' tells the story of a naive lawyer who holds the belief that dabbling in drug-trafficking is the best way to earn a little extra cash. However, that dabbling evolves into full-blown dealing which consumes his life and infects with all the corruption, betrayal and pain he thought he could avoid. Now with some seriously ruthless criminals on his tail, he begins to realise that there is nothing that these people will not do to get what they want and the odds on his life begin to get higher and higher. Unless he can work out who his friends are, he has no hope of returning to his normal life, but in a world where disloyalty affects everyone's relationships, he begins to wonder if he really has anyone there for him at all.
Directed by the triple Oscar nominated Sir Ridley Scott ('Prometheus', 'Gladiator', 'Alien'), this high-energy, gritty thriller is all about corruption and how smalls mistakes can lead to major consequences. The screenplay has been written by novellist Cormac McCarthy ('No Country for Old Men', 'All the Pretty Horses') and it features an exciting, star-studded cast ensemble. It is set to reach UK cinemas everywhere on November 15th 2013.
Matt (Reynolds) is a low-level operative watching over the CIA's Cape Town safe house. After months of sitting around waiting, he finally gets to host a notorious guest: most-wanted rogue agent Tobin (Washington). Then violent thugs assault the place and Matt takes Tobin on the run, calling his handler (Gleeson) in Langley to get help from senior agents (Farmiga and Shepard). But there's clearly a leak in the ranks, and Tobin is obviously carrying something both the good guys and bad guys want.
Continue reading: Safe House Review
Matt Weston is a young CIA agent who, for the past year, has been bored by his inactive post in Cape Town. Matt is a "housekeeper" who aspires to be a full-fledged agent, a loyal company man who is waiting for an opportunity to prove himself. That opportunity seems to present itself when Matt's new 'guest' proves to be the most dangerous man he's ever met.
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Since Predator took place in the jungle, Hollywood's sense of irony dictates that the sequel should take place in the city: In this case, Los Angeles, where a bloody gang war is underway. But the cops (notably renegade do-gooder Danny Glover) can't quite reconcile the body count, and it isn't long until they start to realize that another force is at work, which might explain the metallic bits that no one can identify and the corpses missing all their vital organs.
Continue reading: Predator 2 Review
"Desperado," the second eye-poppingly stylish and unabashedly outlandish B-movie in Robert Rodriguez's "El Mariachi" shoot-'em-up trilogy, is one of my all-time favorite action movies, in part because it has its priorities straight: The plot was simple -- a nameless mariachi avenges his girlfriend's murder with a guitar case full of semi-automatic weapons and an endless supply of ammunition -- and the action was non-stop and over-the-top.
Antonio Banderas cut an imposing, mysterious, hell-bent, dangerous and dead sexy figure in his long hair, implacable glower and black suede bandito get-up -- complete with jangling spurs -- as he performed a limber slow-motion ballet of body-twisting, two-fisted gunfire while dodging hails of bullets from evil drug-runners. And all this was set to a steamy, dynamic south-of-the-border score by the great guitaristas of Los Lobos.
But in the new installment, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," writer-director-editor-composer Rodriguez pollutes the action -- which is uncharacteristically erratic, incongruous and over-edited -- with a needlessly convoluted plot involving 1) a thorny coup attempt against the Mexican president backed by a cartel kingpin (Willem Dafoe) and his turncoat henchman (Mickey Rourke), 2) a crooked and borderline-loco CIA agent (Johnny Depp) playing both sides against the middle, 3) a former FBI agent (Ruben Blades) frustrated with not nailing the kingpin before his retirement, 4) a curvaceous, gung-ho greenhorn federale (Eva Mendez) with ulterior motives, and 5) yet another murder, played out in fantasized-action flashbacks, that the mariachi is out to avenge.
Continue reading: Once Upon A Time In Mexico Review
A wonderfully ambitious, old-school ensemble piece, very much in the can-do spirit of the community to which it pays homage, "Cradle Will Rock" is a politically-undertoned dramedy about theater, censorship, ambition, apprehension, oppression, Orson Welles and the Great Depression.
Written and directed by Tim Robbins -- never one to shy away from cause-fueled entertainment -- this passionate labor of love celebrates and fictionalizes a legendary moment in American theater, when the government shut down the performance of a musical produced by the Works Progress Administration -- and the actors, at the risk of losing their jobs during the bleakest economic season in U.S. history, staged it anyway in a show of inspiring solidarity.
The play was entitled "The Cradle Will Rock" and its story of a greedy industrialist taken down by the organized working man made a lot of federal bureaucrats see red -- as in communism.
Continue reading: Cradle Will Rock Review
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"Desperado," the second eye-poppingly stylish and unabashedly outlandish B-movie in Robert Rodriguez's "El Mariachi" shoot-'em-up...