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
Tracy Letts adapts his own prize-winning play into a blistering depiction of one of cinema's most dysfunctional families ever. It's still rather theatrical, throwing a mob of top actors into a room for what feels like a fight to the death, but it's so well written and so beautifully observed by the actors that we can't look away. And of course Meryl Streep walks off with the show.
Everything kicks off when Beverly Weston (Shepard) goes missing, leaving his ruthlessly straight-talking, pill-popping wife Violet (Streep) to assemble the family in their rambling Oklahoma home. They have three equally feisty daughters: Barbara (Roberts) is a tightly wound bundle of anger with an estranged husband (McGregor) and surly teen daughter (Breslin) in tow; Karen (Lewis) is a free-spirited floater with yet another random boyfriend (Mulroney); and Ivy (Nicholson) is fed up with being the dutiful daughter who stayed close to home. Also on hand is Violet's sister Mattie Fae (Martindale), whose husband (Cooper) is the family patriarch now that Beverly is gone, which means their son (Cumberbatch) feels even more useless than normal.
What plot there is centres on skeletons rattling out of closets and relationships imploding spectacularly. The film is a series of brutally intense encounters between people who probably still love each other in vaguely undefined ways and express it through bitter bursts of witty cruelty. Streep has the meatiest role as the imperious Violet, who knows a lot more than she's letting on. And her chief rival is Barbara, played with unnerving intensity by Roberts. The only person we even remotely like is Mattie Fae, and the always-superb Martindale finds all kinds of layers in the character.
Continue reading: August: Osage County Review
When news gets round about a gold discovery in the Klondike region of the Yukon, Canada in 1897, it becomes one of the last great gold rushes in history. Bill Haskell and Byron Epstein are two hopeful travellers with an ambition of wealth who travel up to Dawson City (often dubbed 'The Paris of the North') to receive their fortune. However, digging up a life of luxury becomes less straightforward as they are forced to face bitter sub-zero temperatures, gold-digging temptresses and men who won't think twice about killing for profit. Making an easy fortune is one thing; surviving long enough to use it is another.
Continue: Klondike Trailer
Meryl Streep's performance as a gorgon mother has been lauded in this family drama.
August: Osage County premiered at this week's Toronto International Film Festival to a storm of excitement from early critics and Oscar nudging. However, a few days later the dust has settled around John Wells' adaptation of Tracy Letts' award-winning play and we are able to catch our breath and collect our thoughts.
Meryl Streep Shines In August: Osage County As A Ferocious Mother.
Director John Wells' movie has been praised for its immersive scene setting and its out-of-the-park performances from an all-star, yet respected cast that includes Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Abigail Breslin.
Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor star in the drama about a dysfunctional family reunited.
John Wells' August: Osage County adaptation premiered last night at the Toronto International Film Festival after years of being performed as a Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy Letts play. The movie boasts a star-studded caast, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis and Sam Shepard.
Meryl Streep & Julia Roberts Serve Up Roaring Performances In August: Osage County.
The plot centres on outspoken matriarch, Violet (Meryl Streep), who is addicted to painkillers with the excuse that she has mouth cancer. Her husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) hires a Native American housekeeper (Misty Upham) to take care of his wife and he moves away. Upon her husband's absence, Violet summons her three grown-up daughters who have each moved away from the isolation of their family home, set in the desolate landscape of Oklahoma.
The Weston family know they are probably one of the most dysfunctional families around, but they do understand that sometimes it's best to stick together. Violet Weston is the family matriarch suffering from mouth cancer and heavily addicted to prescription drugs which only gets worse after the apparent suicide of her husband Beverly. As the funeral approaches, Violet's three daughters Barbara, Ivy and Karen and their families arrive at the house they grew up in, along with some other estranged relatives, hoping to get the whole ordeal over and done with fairly quickly. However, things don't go as smoothly as they, perhaps naively, hoped as they discover a whole load of closet skeletons they'd rather have not known about.
'August: Osage County' is a remarkable dark comedy directed by multi-Emmy winning John Wells ('The Company Men') and based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by Tracy Letts ('Bug', 'Killer Joe'). It has been produced by George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein and is a warts-and-all story about the trials and tribulations of family affairs, uncovering both the heartwarming and the heartbreaking secrets that underline all families. It is set to be released in the UK on January 3rd 2014.
Russell Baze lives in a rundown, underprivileged neighbourhood where he works full-time at a steelworks while also trying to support his wife and take care of his dying father. His spirits lift, however, at the arrival of his brother Rodney, a soldier, who has finally come home after serving in Iraq. Unfortunately, he brings will him a burden - he's in need of money and has approached a ruthless crime boss in order to get it. They arrange for him to take part in a bare-knuckle boxing match, but when he fails to comply with the winning/losing arrangements he made with his new boss, he suddenly disappears without a trace. Russell goes to the police who are less than helpful and have been unable to find his brother and so he decides to go after the gang himself, determined to seek justice.
This gripping crime thriller has an all-star cast and has been directed by Scott Cooper ('Crazy Heart') who also wrote the screenplay alongside Brad Ingelsby ('The Dynamiter'). It's a story of desperation, justice and loyalty and just how far people would go to save their loved ones. 'Out Of The Furnace' is set to appear on UK cinema screens on November 29th 2013.
The film seems like perfect winter viewing - heavy, but heart-warming and laden with star power.
The trailer for August: Osage County hit the airwaves today and, if you didn’t know that was a film you wanted to see, you should now. Generally, just the presence of Meryl Streep on the castlist is enough to get a film onto the list, but August has a lot more going for it as well, with a cast, absolutely packed with star power - Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch all star in this tale of a family reunion and a family breakdown and (hopefully) one final reunion. The film, directed by John Wells, centers on a dysfunctional Oklahoma family whose drug-addicted matriarch, Streep, is dying of mouth cancer.
The trailer shows some trademark Streep moments in the film, but it also highlights the roles of Roberst and Lewis as antagonistic sisters and everyone seems to work well enough together to create a believable picture of a family on the brink of collapse. The film is based on Tracy Letts’ 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which received shining praise on its release in 2007. When "August: Osage County" played at the Ahamson Theater in 2009, Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote: "The play’s pedigree could be expanded in ways both high and low, but 'August' brews its own distinctive mix of tragicomic gravitas and florid pop." The film adaptation is due for an early November release. Did someone say Oscar bait?
Writer-director Nichols continues to get inside the heads of his characters with this involving but overlong dramatic thriller. Like his previous film Take Shelter, this is another fable-like movie, this time harking back to Huck Finn with a boys' adventure story set on the waterways of rural Arkansas. It's impeccably shot and edited, with terrific performances even from side characters. But at over two hours, the long running-time tries our patience.
Our hero is Ellis (Sheridan), a shy but steely 14-year-old who dreams of one day escaping his backwoods community. For entertainment, he explores the rivers with his pal Neckbone (Lofland), and when they hear rumours of a boat stranded in a tree, they have to investigate. Sure enough, there it is, then inside it they discover the fugitive Mud (McConaughey). Even though he's wanted for murder, they decide to help free the boat so he can escape with his battered girlfriend Juniper (Witherspoon), who's hiding in a local motel. But Ellis and Neckbone need some help with this elaborate plan, so they turn to the scary old man (Shepard) who lives across the river.
Cinematographer Adam Stone beautifully captures both the evocative settings and the expressive faces of the actors, who all bring an introspective touch to their characters. Sheridan and Lofland are excellent in the lead roles, which are pretty demanding as these two teens have to grow up quickly. And McConaughey and Witherspoon dive fully into their much flashier roles, constantly surprising us with sparky details that take these people in unexpected directions. There's also a telling smaller role for Nichols' regular Shannon as Neckbone's haunted, sidelined guardian.
Continue reading: Mud Review
Ellis and Neckbone are two young boys from Mississippi who spend their time exploring the wilderness and river near their home. When they discover a sizeable motor boat stuck in a tree after a flood, they think they've hit the jackpot of all discoveries and claim it as their own. However, they soon notice that food has been left there, leading them to believe that someone has been sleeping there. Unnerved, they leave to find their boat and venture home, only to come across a new neighbour on the isolated island, Mud. Mud is hiding from some bounty hunters who want to arrest him for killing a man in Texas who attempted to steal his girlfriend Juniper. Initially, wary of him, the boys soon warm to him and agree to bring him food if he helps them mend their motor boat before Juniper arrives to meet him. However, things aren't as easy as they seem when the boys start becoming suspicious of Mud and Juniper has problems of her own.
Continue: Mud - Clips
Ellis and Neckbone are two fourteen year old boys from Mississippi who, after crossing a river in a small boat on one of their regular explorations, discover a larger motor boat stuck in a tree on an island after a previous flood. They claim the boat as their own but soon begin to discover that someone has been sleeping there and they come across Mud. Mud is a man who has been hiding from a group of bounty hunters who have been hired by the family of a man he murdered in Texas for attempting to steal his beautiful girlfriend Juniper. The boys are sympathetic and captivated by him and agree to help him mend the boat while he makes plans to meet Juniper, who is hiding out in a motel, and run away with her. Things don't go as smoothly as planned and deceptions and suspicion causes tensions to rise between Mud, Juniper and the boys.
'Mud' is an emotional journey tackling issues about right and wrong and good guys and bad guys. It has been directed and written by Jeff Nichols ('Take Shelter', 'Shotgun Stories') and received a last minute nomination for the Palme d'Or award on its showing at the Cannes Film Festival. It is set to hit cinemas on April 17th 2013.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Continue: Mud Trailer
Sam Shepard, Christine Buckley and Aislinn - Sam Shepard and Christine Buckley, director of the Aislinn support and education group Friday 7th December 2012 receive an Honorary Degree from Trinity College
Actor/playwright SAM SHEPARD has pleaded guilty to drink driving and speeding. The Notebook star was arrested after he was caught speeding in Normal, Illinois on 3...
Actor and playwright SAM SHEPARD has been arrested by U.S. authorities after he was caught speeding and allegedly drink driving, according to reports. The Notebook...
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