Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive this film for being somewhat dull in the way the events are recounted. Solid acting helps give the characters some soulfulness, and the issues are things society is still grappling with. Writer-director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) may struggle to maintain the momentum of the story with his fragmented script, but he recreates the period beautifully and makes sure that the ideas resonate.
It's set in 1862 Mississippi, as the American Civil War is in full force and medic Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) finds it increasingly difficult to serve in the Confederate Army. In addition to the rampant racism, he realises that this is little more than a class war: poor men fighting to help the rich maintain their wealth. So he abandons his post and returns home, where he assembles a ragtag militia from escaped slaves and deserters. Together, they claim that Jones County is a free state. Their battles with military forces and angry locals continue long after the war ends. But Newton and his second wife Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) keep fighting against the state's blatantly racist laws.
This story is intercut with another series of events 75 years later, as a descendant of Newton and Rachel fights a courtroom battle in which he's criminally charged with marrying a white woman, even though he's only one-eighth black. This sideroad has nothing to do with Newton's story, other than to connect it loosely to America's civil rights protests in the 1960s, so it drastically slows down the entire movie. There's a lot happening with Newton, but filmmaker Ross never quite lets a scene build up some momentum before cutting away to something else.
Continue reading: Free State Of Jones Review
Mike Lassiter finds himself being put on trial for the murder of his father. The Lassiter's are a rich family and Mike lives with his mother Loretta and father Boone. The body of Boone is found with a knife still in the fatal stab wound that killed him, Mike's fingerprints are on the weapon and when he is interviewed by the police he admits to stabbing his father.
With an incredible amount of evidence, the police arrest and charge the teenager with the murder of his father. Mike's mum, Loretta, recruits her attorney friend Richard Ramsay to defend her son and as Richard begins to develop his case more and more facts come to light about that night and Boone Lassiter.
It's uncovered that Boone is a vicious man who could be 'exceptionally cruel' and Mike witnessed events of abuse carried out on Loretta by his father - he'd even threaten his son. As the case proceeds, Richard asks another attorney to come on board and help keep Mike out of prison. Janelle is a young yet enthusiastic lawyer who believes that Mike is protecting his mother from the crime that she committed. It's possible either of the two family members could've killed Boone and what starts out to be a clean cut case for the prosecution soon becomes more convoluted.
Continue: The Whole Truth Trailer
After the murder of her husband, a widow and resident of the town of Rose Creek finds herself seeking revenge over the brutal methods of Bartholomew Bogue, the man responsible for the death of her partner. Bartholomew is a ruthless industrialist and has his sights set on the town of Rose Creek and will go to any lengths to take it from the residents.
The widow makes contact with a bounty hunter named Sam Chisolm who agrees to help her look for gun fighters to help protect the town. Though the money is little, Chisolm begins his search for skilled gun slingers who might be able to help lead the resistance against Bogue. Amongst the recruits are Josh Farraday, Goodnight Robicheaux, Jack Horne, Billy Rocks, Vasquez and Red Harvest. What begins as purely a monetary commitment for the men soon turns into something far more personal when they experience first-hand the lengths Bogue is willing to go to.
The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 movie which originally starred Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The new version of the movie follows a similar plot which has been adapted and written by True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. The score was composed by James Horner shortly before his death in 2015.
One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events from the news headlines to tell a raw, deeply involving story that's unnervingly personal. Irish director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Emma Donoghue bring these events to life with uncanny skill, using a young child's perspective to give it an extra-strong kick. And Brie Larson's central performance is so powerful that she's become the one to beat on Oscar night.
She plays Joy, a young woman who was abducted at 17 by a man she only knows as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). The story opens as her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) celebrates his fifth birthday in the single room where he was born and has spent his entire life. There isn't even a window to look out of so, to help him cope, Joy explains that there is no life outside the room, and everything they see on television is fake. She also gets Jack to hide whenever Nick visits, so they can't develop any kind of relationship. But as he grows up, Jack's curiosity demands more answers, and Joy finally decides to tell him the truth in the hope that he can help them escape.
Its halfway into the film when Jack's world is suddenly opened up around him in a rescue sequence that's exhilarating, terrifying and literally breathtaking. And from here, the film gets even more punchy, as Joy and Jack struggle to adapt to life in what seems like an alien landscape. Joy's parents (the great Joan Allen and William H. Macy) have split up, and her mother has a new partner (Tom McCamus), and their reunion is watched closely by the media, police and psychologists. All of this is seen through Jack's curious, observant eyes. Everyone is worried about him, but he perceptively notices that his mother is having even more trouble coping than he is.
Continue reading: Room Review
The brutal reality of war is those who often die and put their lives on the line are the ones who reap the smallest of rewards. If you're no longer fighting for your freedom, for some there's no point to continue risking your life. When Newton Knight is faced with the death of a young boy, it's enough for him to begin questioning exactly what and who he is fighting for.
Forced to go on the run Newton helps many folk on the way and also goes on a journey of self-discovery, one that leads him to fight a fight that's really worth dying for. With the help of some slaves, who are also on the run, Newton and the people of Jones County begin to fight back and take back the land from the wealthy and put it in the hands of the people.
Free State of Jones is based on the true story of Newton Knight and it directed by Gary Ross.
Libby Day is a fragile and unemployed woman struggling to get away from the demons of her past. As a child of just 7, she bore witness to the violent murder of her mother and two sisters and even stood up in court to accuse her older brother Ben of the crimes. People were happy to take her word for it when it was unearthed that he was involved in Satanic activity, but now more than 20 years on the whole trauma is finally back for a visit with consequences no-one could've foreseen. Broke after living off charity funds all her life, she readily accepts a cash payment to make an appearance at a meeting of the Kill Club; a group specialising in murder mysteries and who have a particular interest in the case of her family - namely because they do not believe her brother was the killer. While sceptical of their thoughts, she soon agrees to help them pick apart what happened, re-visiting her memories of that fateful night and even seeing her brother for the first time since his trial.
Continue: Dark Places - Clips
A young woman and her 5-year-old son Jack live together in a confined, sound-proofed room in the outhouse of Old Nick's backyard. There is nothing but a bed, a bathtub and a few household items inside, with Old Nick making occasional visits when Jack hides away in a wardrobe. The woman was kidnapped seven years ago by Nick, and subsequently raped by him, meaning that Jack knows nothing of life outside the room. He's content with life with his mother, but she has never given up hopes to escape their prison. She hatches a plan for Jack to escape and seek help and the pair are eventually re-united with her mother and father, and given temporary accommodation in hospital. But Jack is barely able to comprehend all the new experiences and longs for the comfort of his dark former home.
Continue: Room Trailer
Libby Day is a young woman, still permanently scarred from the events of her childhood. As a 7-year-old girl living in Kansas, she witnessed the brutal slaughter of her family, only weeks after discovering a bizarre interest of her brother Ben's and evidence that he practiced Satanism. After she accused Ben, then 16-years-old, of murder, he was locked up for life and her name went down in crime history. It left her with money from a charitable fund and royalities from her autobiography, but now in her early 30s she's completely broke. Soon though she meets Lyle Wirth, a member of a ghoulish group named The Kill Club, full of crime obsessed wannabe detectives who enjoy solving vicious crimes. They offer her money to help them solve what really happened when she was a girl, because hardly any of them believe her brother was the perpetrator of the massacre. She's sure it was him, but now she's forced to return to that time in her life and remember exactly what happened in the moments leading up to the tragedy - and that gets even more complicated when she finally visits Ben in prison.
Continue: Dark Places Trailer
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One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...
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