Utterly bonkers, this movie confounds any attempt to categorise it, blending comedy, romance, horror and drama to become a true one-off. And it maintains such a darkly playful tone that it's impossible not to smile even as things turn rather hideously nasty. Against all odds, these contradicting moods come together into something surprisingly involving, thanks to skilled director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) and clever writer Michael R. Perry. Their approach is so inventive that it's impossible to guess what might happen next.
Set in a small industrial town, the story centres on Jerry (Ryan Reynolds), who was set up with a job in a bathtub factory after his release from a psychiatric institute. Overseen by therapist (Jacki Weaver), Jerry is settling in nicely. He has a crush on Fiona (Gemma Arterton) in accounting, even though it's actually her office colleague Lisa (Anna Kendrick) who likes him. But no one realises that he has gone off his meds and is starting to listen to advice coming from his lovable dog Bosco and his evil cat Mr Whiskers. What they tell him to do is pretty horrific, but he thinks that this is the only way to get his life back on track.
Where the plot goes is seriously grisly, but it's played out by the cast and filmmakers in a blackly comical way that's highly stylised, seeing everything through Jerry's warped perspective. The question is whether he's a serial killer, an insane criminal or an emotionally tormented young man. Whatever, the film is a remarkably internalised exploration of mental illness, because the tone refuses to let us off the hook. And because all of the performances are riotously funny, bridging the gaps between the humour, romance and violence.
Continue reading: The Voices Review
During the Second World War, many Russian men were able to make a name for themselves as heroes. Returning home to their victorious country, many discovered that the Communist utopia they had fought to defend may have been more fictitious than they originally thought. For Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy), this truth comes harshly. Having become a hero for his efforts in the war against Germany, Demidov is given the job as a secret policeman. But when he comes across the case of a potential serial killer that hunts children, his superiors refuse to acknowledge the crime, maintaining that they live in a perfect world. After being exiled from Moscow for refusing to drop the case, Demidov must search for the real truth behind the killings, despite knowing that the truth could be dangerous.
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As with the first two films in this dumb but bombastically watchable franchise, writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen seemingly put no effort into writing a script that can even remotely hold water. This is such a boneheaded story that it boggles the mind, eliciting laughter every time it tries to show some emotion or menace. But watching Liam Neeson charge around on a personal mission, cleaning up the criminal underworld in the process, is still rather good fun.
Back home in Los Angeles, former super-spy Bryan (Neeson) is trying to re-bond with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) while waiting for his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) to leave her sweaty but wealthy husband Stuart (Dougray Scott) and come back to him. But this dream is cut short in a twisted act of violence that leaves Bryan as the prime suspect. With Inspector Franck (Forest Whitaker) on his tail, Bryan traverses the city trying to unknot the mystery and find out who the real villain is, so he can clear his name and protect his family. With the help of an old pal (Leland Orser), Bryan manages to taunt and elude the cops at every turn while tracking down the nasty Russian mafioso Malankov (Sam Spruell). But something is clearly not right here.
Instead of centring on one far-fetched kidnapping, pretty much every character in the story gets "taken" at some point in the movie. The film benefits from this break in the formula, creating a relentless pursuit that runs right through the story. So even if the details never remotely ring true, and even if most scenes feel badly contrived, it's thoroughly entertaining to watch Neeson's stand-in stuntman leap across backyard fences or drive like a maniac on the freeway, causing mass carnage in his wake. Sadly, director Olivier Megaton directs and edits the film by chopping scenes into splinters, then reassembling them so they make no sense at all. It's loud and fast and incomprehensible.
Continue reading: Taken 3 Review
Things are finally quieting down for Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). After the ex-special forces operative tracked down and returned his daughter (Maggie Grace), then his wife (Famke Janssen) following their captures, Mills is now settling into a normal life in Los Angeles. But when his wife is suddenly murdered by an unknown villain, Mills finds himself accused and ends up on the run from the LAPD. Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) heads up the investigation against Mills and orders him to give himself up. But Mills is not going down until he looks for his wife’s murderer, finds them, and kills them.
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Tom and Anna Reed are a young married couple who have moved all the way to London with the intention of restoring the house that Anna grew up in and subsequently starting a family. However, it isn't long before the pair fall on hard times and they are faced with losing the house they have been so desperate for. One day, they fail to get a response from their basement tenant Ben and go down to his apartment to check on him, only to be faced with a brutal murder scene. Their luck seems to change, however, when they discover a bag of £220,000 in bank notes stashed in the ceiling tiles. They take the money, agreeing to only use what is needed to cover their mortgage and credit card bills. Unfortunately, there are people after the money. People who Ben made a mistake to cross. People intent on hunting down the Reeds.
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The heavy prison drama hits cinemas tonight
“Starred Up” is prison slang for a young offender so violent and uncontrollable that he makes the step up to adult prison early. That’s Eric Love – played by Jack O’Connell. Things look bleak for Love; a life behind bars beckons for the psychologically damaged 19-year old. Until, that is, the prison’s therapist becomes determined to rehabilitate him, aided by Neville, Eric’s father.
Jack O'Connell stars in 'Starred Up'
For U.K cinemagoers, this violent and brilliantly written thriller offers up the best viewing this weekend. Hitting cinemas tonight, ‘Starred Up’s’ main contender is Svengali, another – albeit very stylistically very different - British film.
Continue reading: Jack O'Connell is 'Starred Up' and Critically Acclaimed
Rising star Jack O'Connell delivers a ripping performance as a young convict with more baggage than you'd think humanly possible. And he's ably supported by Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend in career-best performances. So even if the film indulges in just about every prison-movie cliche imaginable, the focus on intensely realistic characters makes it stand out from other movies.
O'Connell plays Eric, who at 19 is so violent that he has been "starred up" from his young-offenders prison to the big house. The hitch is that he's now on the same wing as Neville (Mendelsohn), the father he's never known. Eric is such a brute that the harsh governor (Sam Spruell) wants to keep him in a hole, but concerned therapist Oliver (Friend) thinks he can help Eric channel his anger in more positive directions. On the other hand, by attending therapy sessions Eric is putting himself right in the middle of his father's rival prison gang.
The demands of the plot are obvious from the start, as the film makes it clear that prison is a hopeless place where violence rules. So while director David Mackenzie (Young Adam) lets the usual vicious nastiness swirl through each scene, he also tries to keep the focus on Eric's more internal struggle against his lifetime of abuse and abandonment. This is of course far more interesting than the prison-life plot, giving O'Connell a chance to deliver a strikingly involving turn as a young guy who's outwardly terrifying but also thoughtful and intelligent.
Continue reading: Starred Up Review
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.
The Evil Queen, Ravenna, is very beautiful but very deadly. Early in her reign, she despaired over 'battles fought and lives lost' but now, she draws strength from the cries of war. Each day, she looks in her magic mirror and asks 'who is the fairest of them all?' The answer is always her.
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