Jessica Roffey, Ellen Pompeo and Ryan Kavanaugh - Aviva Family and Children's Services celebrate its 100th Anniversary with The 'A' Gala at Four Seasons Hotel - Beverly Hills, California, United States - Saturday 9th May 2015
While the Gaza conflict enters a brief cease-fire, Hollywood stars are generating headlines.
Several Hollywood big names have already spoken out on Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem’s open letter on the Israel-Palestine conflict, including Jon Voight, and now, Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh.
Bardem [l] and Cruz [r] had to defend themselves against accusations of anti-semitism.
Last week, the Hollywood power couple gave their backing, along with Pablo Almodover and other luminaries of the Spanish entertainment industry to the letter, which denounced Israel’s actions in Gaza and the resulting civilian casualties as “genocide”. In the following days, Cruz and Bardem each released a statement, clarifying their intentions.
The filmmakers behind this pre-teen adventure admit that they were trying to combine the magic of E.T., Stand by Me and The Goonies, but they've forgotten that none of those complex, deeply involving classics ever talk down to their audience. By contrast, this movie is painful viewing for anyone over about age 12, as it indulges in shamelessly cute imagery, seasick hand-held camerawork and superficial emotional catharsis.
It's set in rural Nevada, where a new freeway is cutting through a suburban community, forcing families to relocate, which is devastating to three 13-year-old pals who grew up together. Tuck (Brian Bradley, better known as the rapper Astro) decides to videotape their last night together, as he teams up with Munch and Alex (Reese Hartwig and Teo Halm) to investigate some mysterious images on their phones, which seem to be leading them out into the desert. There they find a chunk of steel that takes them on a scavenger hunt, adding bits and pieces until it emerges as an adorable owl-shaped alien, which the boys name Echo. Inexplicably joined by hot girl Emma (Ella Wallestedt), who won't give them the time of day in school, they spend the night trying to outwit the freeway construction boss (Jason Gray-Sanford) and help Echo get home.
Most of these kinds of films sink or swim on the talent of their young actors, but it's impossible to tell how good these actors are, since first-time feature director Dave Green directs them to over-stated performances while forcing them to deliver first-time feature writer Henry Gayden's ridiculously trite dialogue. Every moment of "wonder" is so heavily telegraphed and pushed that any sense of discovery is lost. Even their school-nerd personas are contrived and unbelievable, as is Tuck's ability to capture every significant moment with one of his gadgety cameras, even in moments of high panic. The idea of him shooting and editing their last night together, which turns out to be rather enormously momentous, is a clever one, but the added melodramatic touches undermine the plot by trying to force it into a standard adventure formula.
Continue reading: Earth To Echo Review
French filmmaker Luc Besson continues to combine family themes with intense violence (see Taken), but at least this film has a wry sense of humour about it. Director McG refuses to take the story seriously (see Charlie's Angels), balancing the escalating body count with a silly father-daughter drama to make this an enjoyably absurd guilty pleasure.
Kevin Costner stars as Ethan, a veteran CIA hitman who finds out that he's only got three months to live. So he retires and returns home to Paris to reconnect with his ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and their now-teen daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld). But just as he discovers a family of immigrants squatting in his flat, the vampy CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) appears and coaxes him back into service for one last job, paying him with both cash and an experimental cancer treatment. So as he tracks down international arms dealers, he's also trying to bond with Zooey over three days of babysitting while Christine is away on business. But of course this is also just when the violence breaks out.
McG does a great job of cutting back and forth between these two story strands: the tetchy-sweet fatherly stuff and the action-man shootouts, car chases and fist-fights. Ethan even has to interrupt a spot of torture when Zooey gets in trouble at school. This wildly bizarre mixture of goofy sentimentality and vicious brutality takes in all of Paris' picturesque landmarks. And since this is a Luc Besson script, it's only a matter of time before the two elements merge for a big climax. Yes, everything is ludicrously predictable, but there's just enough spark to keep us entertained.
Continue reading: 3 Days To Kill Review
Coarse and not exactly subtle, this dark drama might disappoint viewers expecting a more traditional revenge thriller, but there's something more interesting going on here. And even though it starts at full volume and only gets more intense, the film is actually remarkably thoughtful and measured in its approach.
It's set in the Rust Belt, industrial Pennsylvania, where Russell (Bale) works in a steel mill and worries about his little brother Rodney (Affleck), who's deep in debt to a local bookie (Dafoe). Then a late-night car crash lands Russell in prison, and when he's released everything has changed. He has no job, his girlfriend (Saldana) is now dating the local sheriff (Whitaker), and Rodney is paying off his debts by fighting in bare-knuckle boxing matches. Even more perilous is the fact that all of this puts the brothers on a collision course with vicious local redneck Harlan (Harrelson), who has no intention of making their lives easier.
The film opens with a particularly brutal display of Harlan's menace, so we know what's coming. And as everything goes from bad to worse for our two heroes, the film feels almost aggressively harsh. Of course, Bale and Affleck are terrific as these damaged men whose fierce bond both helps and puts them into danger. And both actors let us see beneath the surface as their lives fall apart. In what could be the thankless ex-girlfriend role, Saldana has some surprisingly powerful moments. And Harrelson is a deeply terrifying force to reckon with.
Continue reading: Out Of The Furnace Review
Despite a promising trailer and a great cast, this French-American comedy-thriller is a complete misfire because Luc Besson seems unclear about how to create a black comedy. He merely mixes silliness and violence, but the script is so lazy that it's neither funny nor suspenseful. With the talent on screen we keep hoping everything will come together at some point, but it never does.
It's set in Normandy, where the Manzoni family has just moved after another disastrous attempt at witness relocation. They snitched on the mob back in America, and are having a tough time blending with locals anywhere. Even here, Fred (De Niro) gets a little too frustrated with a plumber while Maggie (Pfeiffer) doesn't take insults lying down, and their kids Belle and Warren (Agron and D'Leo) quickly take over the system at their new school. Their handler Stansfield (Jones) is doing his best, but it can't belong before what they are up to gets them noticed back home.
For a French movie, this is oddly packed with negative French stereotypes, from the ugly casting to the locals' backwards technology (only the Americans have mobile phones). And everyone speaks English with a silly accent. But then the script is packed with head-scratching inconsistencies and far-fetched touches. We never believe a single element of the plot, which leaves these solid actors looking lost on screen. De Niro, Pfeiffer and Jones have at least played these characters before, so know how to punch the comedy notes.
Continue reading: The Family Review
'Avengers Assemble' actress Scarlett Johansson is snapped on the red carpet of the New York premiere of 'Don Jon' at the SVA Theater wearing a simple, knee-length, turquoise dress. She is then joined in several group shots by her 'Don Jon' co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Jeremy Luke, Rob Brown and the movie's executive producers Tucker Tooley and Ryan Kavanaugh.
The writers of The Hangover stick with the same formula for this university-aged romp about three young guys who get far too drunk for their own good. It even opens on the morning after (they're walking naked across campus) before cycling back to piece together what actually happened. But all of the humour is as cheap as it can be, merely laughing at stupid behaviour rather than mining much genuine comedy out of the situation. At least the actors find some chemistry along the way.
Our three chuckleheads are party-boy Miller (Teller), smart-guy Casey (Astin) and their pal Jeff Chang (Chon), who is turning 21 at midnight. This prompts Miller and Casey to propose a night of drunkenness to celebrate his legal drinking age in style. But Jeff has his med school interview in the morning, so they have to sneak past his terrifying dad (Chau) to have just one drink together. Unsurprisingly, this drink turns into an epic bar crawl, culminating in Jeff's unconsciousness. And since Miller and Casey can't remember where he lives, they go on a ludicrously convoluted quest to find his address. This involves enraging a sorority house, releasing the university's mascot buffalo and tormenting the tough-talking boyfriend (Keltz) of a cheerleader (Wright) who catches Casey's eye.
Obviously, there's one massive problem with this whole premise: a cold shower and a cup of coffee would revive Jeff pretty easily. But then, Miller and Casey wouldn't need to go through, say, eight levels of frat-house drinking games to find a guy who might know Jeff's address. At least all of the antics give Teller and Astin a chance to deepen their characters a bit, mainly in the way they interact with each other as childhood pals who have taken unexpected turns along the way. Chon doesn't have quite as much to do with Jeff. Sure, he's been pushed into studying medicine by his fearsome dad, but he spends the entire movie in a drunken stupor.
Continue reading: 21 And Over Review
A collection of random shorts that focus mainly on idiotic male behaviour, this portmanteau comedy is only occasionally amusing, never making anything of its astonishing cast. Frankly, we spend most of the time wondering how the filmmakers lured these A-listers to appear in these pointless, nasty little films. And while the premises have potential, not a single one has a decent punchline.
As a prank, two teens make up a banned online film called Movie 43. While their brainly little brother searches for it, he runs across a series of clips that mainly focus on awkward vulgarity between the sexes. Bitter exes (Culkin and Stone) have a rude exchange that's broadcast on a supermarket sound system. Pratt is shocked when his girlfriend (Faris) asks him to "poop" on her, and agrees because he loves her. Parents (Watts and Schreiber) homeschool their teen son (White) with the goal of showing him how excruciating life will be. Two pals (Scott and Knoxville) kidnap a leprechaun (Butler) who's reluctant to give them his gold. And a 1950s basketball coach (Howard) tries to convince his players that they're winners because they're black.
Others are dating scenarios: Winslet goes on a blind date with a guy (Jackman) who has testicles on his neck; Berry and Merchant play an increasingly deranged game of Truth or Dare in a Mexican restaurant; a pre-teen (Bennett) can't cope when his young date (Moretz) has her first period; Batman (Sudeikis) messes up Robin's (Long) attempt at speed-dating; Banks struggles to cope with her new boyfriend's (Duhamel) obsessive cartoon cat. There are also a few random advert spoofs, including one for the naked-woman shaped iBabe, which leads to trouble for the company CEO (Gere).
Continue reading: Movie 43 Review
While it's too uneven and corny to be a classic, it's still a lot of fun.
After the King disappears, his daughter Snow White (Collins) is raised by her conniving step-mother (Roberts), who plots with her right-hand man (Lane) to steal the kingdom from Snow. Then handsome Prince Alcott (Hammer) arrives and shakes things up, immediately falling for Snow, which sends the queen into even crazier fits of jealousy. She sends Snow into the woods to be eaten by a mythical beast, but Snow instead befriends a gang of dwarf bandits (Povinelli, Klebba, Saraceno, Prentice, Gnoffo and Woodburn), who teach her how to fight back.
Continue reading: Mirror Mirror Review
In small-town 1993 Massachusetts, Dickie (Bale) is a crack addict who lives in his own glorious past as a boxer who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard. But his erratic life is jeopardising the growing career of his half-brother Micky (Wahlberg), who he's training and managing with their tough-as-nails mother (Leo). Micky knows that in order to further his career, he'll need to make a difficult break from his messy family. Then he meets Charlene (Adams), a barmaid who encourages him to go for it. And of course they see her as the villain.
Continue reading: The Fighter Review
The filmmakers behind this pre-teen adventure admit that they were trying to combine the magic...
French filmmaker Luc Besson continues to combine family themes with intense violence (see Taken), but...
Coarse and not exactly subtle, this dark drama might disappoint viewers expecting a more traditional...
Despite a promising trailer and a great cast, this French-American comedy-thriller is a complete misfire...
The writers of The Hangover stick with the same formula for this university-aged romp about...
A collection of random shorts that focus mainly on idiotic male behaviour, this portmanteau comedy...
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