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Our Kind Of Traitor Review

Excellent

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal thriller, packed with thrills that find suspense in the characters and their predicament rather than pushy movie cliches. It's so sleek and involving that it's easy to ignore the nagging plot holes. We're too busy imagining what we might do in the same situations.

It opens in Marrakech, where poetry professor Perry (Ewan McGregor) and his lawyer wife Gail (Naomie Harris) have gone in an attempt to save their troubled marriage. One evening in a bar, Perry meets the boisterous Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), a Russian who openly admits that he launders money for the mafia. And he asks for Perry's help in delivering information to British intelligence in exchange for his family's safety. Back in London, Perry meets MI6 agent Hector (Damian Lewis), who sees this data as vital to bring down corrupt British politicians. But he has to go rogue to continue on the case, drafting Perry and Gail in to help. Soon they're travelling to France and Switzerland in a dangerous game that puts them in the crosshairs of both a Russian mafia boss (Grigoriy Dobrigyn) and a shifty British MP (Jeremy Northam).

The key point here is that Perry and Gail get involved because they are trying to help Dima's family. This makes everything that happens unusually down-to-earth, with a plot that hinges on the safety of a wife and children rather than the fate of the world. Actually, it's the state of the world that's the villain here, as corrupt Western politicians accept huge money to sidestep the rule of law. Screenwriter Hossein Amini is terrific at keeping the film's focus on the people rather than the plot machinery. And director Susanna White fills the screen with classy touches that are gorgeously shot and edited. The action sequences are unusually clever, avoiding cliches for something more deeply involving (a big shootout is particularly imaginative).

Continue reading: Our Kind Of Traitor Review

Our Kind Of Traitor Trailer


Professor (Perry) Makepiece and his partner Gail are enjoying an evening on in the bar whilst on holiday in Marrakech. A lavish gentleman also in the bar catches Perry's eye and the man eventually walks over and asks the couple to join them for a drink. Accepting the offer, the two are taken in by the man and his excessive spending. The man, Dima, has a foreign accent and extends an invitation to the couple for them to join Dima and his friends for a party at his villa. 

Accepting the offer, Perry and Gail arrive at Dima's house to find it's not the small gathering they were expecting. Taken in by Dima's friendly persona, Perry and Dima talk and Dima eventually reveals his motives to Perry for inviting the Brit over. Dima wants Perry to take a USB to MI6 with a message - Dima explains that he's actually a money launderer for the Russian mob and wishes for asylum for him and his family in exchange for information on the highest ranking members of the Russian mob and their international affiliates.

Perry must weigh up all the risks involved and decide just how much he's willing to risk in order to help Dima.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron - Extended Teaser Trailer


The Avengers may be feeling like they are capable of anything after saving New York City from Loki's rampage and returning the deadly Tesseract to its rightful place in Asgard, but the group have a new threat to overcome. As the group; Tony Stark (Iron Man), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Bruce Banner (Hulk), Thor, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) and Clint Barton (Hawkeye); attempt to enjoy an usually civilised evening together, they are interrupted by Ultron - a backfired project of Stark who is dead set on destroying the human race and branding them puppets in his game. With S.H.I.EL.D. destroyed, their chances of saving the world once again are looking dangerously slim. Now beginning to question just how much power they have, they are forced to regroup for a mission that could finally see their end.

Continue: Avengers: Age Of Ultron - Extended Teaser Trailer

Stellan Skarsgard Confirms Role In 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'


Stellan Skarsgard Avengers

Stellan Skarsgard has revealed that he will play a small part in the forthcoming movie Avengers: Age of UltronThe 63 year old Swedish actor will reprise his role as Dr. Erik Selvig in the sequel to the 2012 film The Avengers, which was the biggest grossing film of that year in addition to receiving glowing critical prais.

Stellan Skarsgard Avengers 2
Stellan Skarsgard will appear once more in Avengers: Age of Ultron as Dr. Erik Selvige.

Skarsgard confirmed his participation and also gave a humorous reference to his largely expository role in the film: "I don't know what I'm allowed to say. But usually they call me in if they need something explained [to the audience]. There's a lot of explanations to do when it comes to that universe."

Continue reading: Stellan Skarsgard Confirms Role In 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'

Romeo And Juliet - Featurette


The stars of the upcoming adaptation of 'Romeo and Juliet' Douglas Booth, Hailee Steinfeld, Ed Westwick, Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti as well as costume designer Carlo Poggioli and Nadja Swarovski of Swarovski Entertainment Ltd. talk about the new movie in a short featurette.

Continue: Romeo And Juliet - Featurette

Thor: The Dark World - Featurette


Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston talk about the upcoming 'Thor: The Dark World' in a short featurette revealing a snippet of what the film will bring to the Marvel film franchise on its release on October 30th 2013.

'Thor is the God of Thunder, he's from a place called Asgard which is within the nine realms in another universe', Chris explains, with Tom adding, 'Thor's brother, Loki, is this mischievous prince. At the end of 'Avengers', Thor takes them back to Asgard.' They explain that the movie picks up from events that happened in 'Avengers Assemble', but this time they are 'bound together on the same journey with the same goal'.

Click here to read: Thor: The Dark World Movie Review

Frankie & Alice, Halle Berry's 2010 Effort, Will Finally See A Wide Release In 2014


Halle Berry Stellan Skarsgard Phylicia Rashad Chandra Wilson

Frankie & Alice, the Halle Berry-starring psychological thriller about a woman with multiple personality disorder, will finally see the light of day. The flick has been picked up by the Lionsgate label Codeblack Films, according to Deadline. . The distribution company now owns the North American rights to the film and has the release date for April 4, 2014. The deal ends four rather turbulent years for Frankie & Alice, during which the flick struggled to find a home. It made its debut at Cannes in 2010 and was also presented at that year’s AFI Fest, but interest has dwindled since then.

Halle Berry, Frankie & Alice Screening
The picture hasn't seen much interest since its debut.

Stellan Skarsgard, Phylicia Rashad and Chandra Wilson co-star in this Geoffrey Sax directed pic. As it so happens, Frankie & Alice has found a fitting home at Codeblack. The company tends to specialize in distributing films for the African American market and, again according to Deadline, has just closed the deal over the rights to the Flyy Girl book trilogy written by New York Times bestselling author Omar Tyree.

Continue reading: Frankie & Alice, Halle Berry's 2010 Effort, Will Finally See A Wide Release In 2014

The Disturbing True Story Of A WWII Veteran, 'The Railway Man,' Premieres At TIFF


Colin Firth Nicole Kidman Stellan Skarsgard

One of the more prominent films screened at TIFF this weekend turned out to be The Railway Man, a true-to-life drama, which fits neatly within the festival’s noticeable motif of torture, depicted in various ways in many movies on the roster. Colin Firth stars in this Jonathan Teplitzky film as a World War II veteran, who has been so shaken by the experience of being a war prisoner and forced to work on the Thailand-Burma railway that he can’t rid himself of the memories for long after the war.

Colin Firth, The Railway Man Still
Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman both deliver excellent performances in this WWII drama.

When Eric (Firth) finds out that the man who tortured him after his capture – an interpreter by the name of Takashi Nagase – is still alive, the demons, which still haunt him, surface once again. His wife Patti (Nicole Kidman), having found out the reason behind her husband’s trauma, encourages him to return to Japan, find Nagase and get some closure from his horrific experiences. But as it turns out, closure isn’t an easy thing to come by and Eric is forced to choose between revenge or acceptance.

Continue reading: The Disturbing True Story Of A WWII Veteran, 'The Railway Man,' Premieres At TIFF

The Railway Man Trailer


Eric Lomax was a British Officer in World War II who found himself a prisoner of war after he and several of his comrades were ambushed in Singapore. Forced to work on the Thailand-Burma Railway, he was severely tortured by an interpreter by the name of Takashi Nagase to the point where it tormented him throughout the rest of his life, psychologically damaging him for many years. Several years on, his new wife Patti demands to be given an explanation as to what happened in his life to make him so scarred, and she is informed by his friend Finlay of his horrific trauma. After Eric discovers in a newspaper that Nagase is still living, Patti convinces him to make a trip back to Japan to confront his intimidator once and for all and finally end his lifelong ordeal. However, things don't quite go according to plan and Eric is faced with either revenge or acceptance and reconciliation.

'The Railway Man' is the extraordinary true to life war film based on the autobiography of the same name by Eric Lomax. It has been directed by Jonathan Teplitzky ('Burning Man', 'Gettin' Square', 'Better Than Sex') and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce ('24 Hour Party People', 'Butterfly Kiss') and Andy Paterson, and will be released in the UK on January 3rd 2014.

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A Week In Movies: Ford Joins The Expendables, Thor Strikes Back, And Get Ready For The Biopics


Harrison Ford Sylvester Stallone Bruce Willis Chris Hemsworth Natalie Portman Tom Hiddleston Anthony Hopkins Idris Elba Stellan Skarsgard Naomi Watts Naveen Andrews Ashton Kutcher Lee Daniels Forest Whitaker Jane Fonda Oprah Winfrey John Cusack Terrence Howard Ricky Gervais Ty Burrell Tina Fey

Harrison Ford

The big news this week was that Harrison Ford will join the Expendables for their third film adventure. Sylvester Stallone tweeted the announcement, then went on to mention that Bruce Willis won't be around this time, apparently because he asked for too much money. Stallone was also caught on camera poking fun at Arnold Schwarzenegger's "big ego". Before they re-team for the next Expendables movie, they're costarring in the prison-break thriller Escape Plan. Watch Sly talking about Arnie at Comic Con here.

The next big superhero blockbuster will be Thor: The Dark World, and we got a more detailed look at the film in a new trailer this week. Pretty much everyone is back, including Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba and Stellan Skarsgard. The movie looks like a huge-scale action adventure with a sense of humour about it. It opens in October. Watch the trailer for Thor: The Dark World here.

Continue reading: A Week In Movies: Ford Joins The Expendables, Thor Strikes Back, And Get Ready For The Biopics

King Of Devil's Island Trailer


A group of young offenders are sent to the island of Bastoy in Norway to reform and become honourable, humble and useful Christian boys. However, this 'rehabilitation' center soon becomes more of a concentration camp for the boys as they are abused, brainwashed, underfed and authorities neglect to provide them with warm clothes for the icy winter. The arrival of rumored murderer Erling and Ivar sees the disruption of order on the island and a rebellion ensues.

Continue: King Of Devil's Island Trailer

The Avengers Trailer


Nick Fury is the director of law enforcement and espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D, which deals with superhuman threats. One day, an unexpected enemy targets global security and safety. The enemy turns out to be Loki, who was banished from Asgard. This is made known to Nick, who decides to assemble a team of the world's strongest superheroes to tackle this problem.

Continue: The Avengers Trailer

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Review


Excellent
Fincher brings a sleek, achingly cool vibe to this remake of the first novel in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. Although he doesn't find any more subtext in the intriguing characters and rather straightforward mystery, the film holds us completely in its grip.

Disgraced journalist Mikael (Craig) takes a job on an isolated island looking into the 40-years-earlier disappearance of the teenage niece of millionaire industrialist Vanger (Plummer). But the deeper Mikael digs, the messier things get. He discovers all kinds of nastiness in Henrik's dysfunctional family. Then he teams up with gifted hacker Lisbeth (Mara) to unravel the knots in the story. But as a ward of the state, Lisbeth is also dealing with her own rather intense situation.

Continue reading: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Review

Video - Stellan Skarsgard Accompanied On Red Carpet By Wife - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo New York Premiere Arrivals Part 1


The New York premiere of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' was held at the Ziegfeld Theater. Stellan Skarsgard, who plays Martin Vanger in the film, was the first to walk the red carpet with his wife, Megan. He was soon followed by his co-star Joely Richardson. But it was Christopher Plummer, who plays Vanger patriarch Henrik, who gained the most respect from the photographers on the red carpet.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on the successful Millennium trilogy by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson

Melancholia Review


Excellent
Von Trier continues to challenge audiences with his bold, bleak storytelling.

As always, he creates a stunning visual film experience full of raw, wrenching performances. And he tackles themes that are so big that we're not quite sure what to make of it in the end.

Justine (Dunst) is feeling a bit detached on the day of her wedding to the doting Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), and her brother-in-law John (Sutherland) is annoyed that she's not enjoying the expensive party he's staging. Her sister Claire (Gainsbourg) is more understanding, even when events take a few strange turns. Later, the shattered Justine will become the voice of reason when the planet Melancholia, which has been hiding behind the sun, heads towards Earth in a dramatic fly-by. Now it's Claire who's overwhelmed with moodiness, fearing for her young son (Spurr).

Continue reading: Melancholia Review

Thor Review


Very Good

This boisterous comic book movie benefits hugely from Branagh's steady hand as a director. Even though it's over-designed and far too loud, the characters are strong enough to hold our interest.

In the mythical realm of Asgard, King Odin (Hopkins) is about to hand his throne to cocky son Thor (Hemsworth). But Thor recklessly ignites a war with an old enemy, so is banished to earth without his powers. He adjusts to New Mexico life with help from scientists Jane and Erik (Portman and Skarsgard). As they fend off interest from SHIELD agent Coulson (Gregg), Thor's mischievous younger brother Loki (Hiddleston) is making moves to take over the kingdom. Then Thor's pals (Alexander, Stevenson, Asano and Dallas) arrive on earth to help.

Frankly this is more like a video game than a movie, as virtually every scene is painted extensively with digital trickery. But nothing looks lived in, from Asgard's shimmery bronze towers to the plasticky battle armour. At least New Mexico feels real until a giant killer robot appears. All of this looks extremely whizzy (the 3D is sharp but unnecessary), and will please fans of the genre, but the spectacle continually distracts us from a good story.

That said, the plot's complexities are continually ironed out, as the narrative must jump through various hoops to set things up for both a sequel and Marvel's Avengers movie. So a lot of this film feels requisite, establishing relationships, grudges and so on. Fortunately, Branagh brings a terrific sense of humour to the film, with offhanded moments that make us laugh and give us insights into the characters.

Hemsworth is terrific in the central role, using his imposing physicality and sunny personality to maximum effect. It's not difficult to see why Jane falls for him, although Portman doesn't get much to do beyond bat her eyes and say sciency things every now and then to remind us that she's not a bimbo. Many of the other actors are unrecognisable under layers of armour, hair or effects, although they do get moments to shine. And even if the film isn't hugely satisfying, at least it leaves us wanting more.

Boogie Woogie Review


Good
There's a terrific idea in this film, and an astounding cast, but author Moynihan seems determined to get every tiny thread of his novel into this script, leaving the movie overcrowded and fragmented.

Art (Danny Huston) is a powerful London art dealer and close friends of jet-setting collectors Jean and Bob (Anderson and Skarsgard), whose marriage is badly strained by Bob's wandering eye. He's in the process of setting up his mistress Beth (Graham), one of Art's employees, with her own gallery. So Jean seduces Beth's boyfriend, a young artist (Jack Huston). Meanwhile, a video artist (Winstone) is cruelly using her curator best friend (Cumming) as a subject. And Alfreda (Lumley) is trying to convince her elderly husband (Lee) to part with his valuable Mondrian Boogie Woogie painting.

Continue reading: Boogie Woogie Review

Angels & Demons Review


Good
Slow and steady doesn't always win the race.

Take Ron Howard's adaptations of Dan Brown's riveting bestsellers. Both The Da Vinci Code and its sequel, Angels & Demons, are competently made, commendably acted historical thrillers set against picturesque international backdrops. Yet for some reason, neither comes close to duplicating the urgent pacing of Brown's crackling source material.

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Angels & Demons Trailer


Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons, this film continues where The Da Vinci Code left off. Having cleared his name and solved Jacques Saunière's mysterious messages, Langdons life returns to normal.

Continue: Angels & Demons Trailer

Mamma Mia! Review


Good
Not everyone can make a movie. The motion picture art form, while not incredibly complicated, contains enough nuances and pitfalls to circumvent even the most seasoned show business veteran. Perfect proof of celluloid's selective process arrives in the form of Mamma Mia!, the big screen adaptation of the hit jukebox musical. While it ends up being a whimsical and quite wonderful experience on a superficial level, the vision behind the lens is radioactive in its undeniable cluelessness.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) lives on a remote Greek island with her ex-rock star mother Donna (Meryl Streep). She is about to marry the British bo-hunk Sky (Dominic Hooper), and she really wants her dad to give her away. Unfortunately, Sophie doesn't know who her father is. Finding her mother's diary, she invites the three men Donna was involved with at the time. Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) writes travel guides, while Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) are a big time businessman and banker, respectively. Naturally, Donna is dumbfounded to see her exes. Even worse, when she discovers Sophie's motives, it will take her best friends/former back-up singers Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) to save the day... and the wedding.

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Stellan Skarsgard Wednesday 15th August 2007 'Bourne Ultimatum' After Party at Shoreditch House - departures London, England

Stellan Skarsgard

Goya's Ghosts Review


Bad
There are always clear-cut signs: a solid cast with no buzz, a good director but no release date, a topical film with a PR campaign that could best be described as non-existent. To say nothing of the fact that the first it was heard of was roughly a year ago, Milos Forman's Goya's Ghosts has its ineffectiveness in the bloodstream and appears to have been released solely on name cred.

Forman, the Czech madman, began his career with sublime studies in New Wave dynamics, most memorably with 1965's Loves of a Blonde and 1967's sublime The Fireman's Ball. Now, after Cuckoo's Nest, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and that ridiculous role in Keeping the Faith, Forman seems to have jettisoned over to the other side of the spectrum. While most of Forman's American fare at the very least holds the faintest whiff of provocation, Goya's Ghosts seems shackled to a supremely-uninteresting story without even a glimmer of spontaneity. Seriously, hasn't it already been proven that all art is inspired by women and all women are evil? Isn't it time to move on? Not according to Forman.

Continue reading: Goya's Ghosts Review

Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist Review


Bad
Paul Schrader and I have a sorted history, much too long to get into at this juncture. Know this: I've written three separate articles about how big a B.S. artist I think he is, mostly based on his essays on transcendental cinema. If anything, he's made me more sensitive and acute to transcendental style, but thinking that Bresson, Dreyer, and Ozu are the only transcendental directors is preposterous. Since he's become a director, Schrader has wanted to update the style that those three directors (his heroes) established and has never really captured the feeling and the pacing of those films, especially Bresson's. He's a good director, but he's not that kind of director.

Dominion is a strange -- probably unique -- case in modern cinema. It's not a remake but rather an idea produced at almost the same time as another director, but the company preferred the other version over Schrader's. The other version was directed by the frantic Renny Harlin and was one of the worst films of last year, calling on every false move in modern horror. Schrader's doesn't have much of a differentiation in plot. Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) resigns from the faith after witnessing an atrocity during the Holocaust and reinvents his life as an archeologist. In East Africa, he is one of the main discoverers of a buried temple, built upon a temple for pagan worshipers who specifically kneel to a demon named Pazuzu. Assisted by a young priest (Gabriel Mann), Father Merrin investigates the temple, a young man named Cheche (Billy Crawford), who might be Christ reincarnated, and a growing war between the British army and the local African tribesman.

Continue reading: Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist Review

Beowulf & Grendel Review


OK
Everyone loves a badass. A shit kicker. A name taker. By all accounts the very first badass in Western culture was Beowulf -- a bearded berserker as much at home wrestling with sea serpents as he was brawling with towering giants. He met his match in the form of Grendel, a monster that ravaged the countryside and split men limb from limb. Their clash echoes down to us as the archetypal battle in its most primal form: Man versus monster. Order versus chaos. Good versus evil.

The new film Beowulf & Grendel is an attempt to demythologize the battle between these two mythic beings. Here Beowulf (Gerard Butler) is no badass; he's entirely human and very flawed. He's not the unstoppable warrior from the legends but a somewhat skilled and at times very lucky soldier. And Grendel is not the misshapen monster but a lonely Neanderthal with a grudge against mankind. As played by Ingvar Sigurdsson, he's sympathetic (and very hairy) lout. When he's not shouting with rage into the inexplicable heavens, he's bowling with skulls. The title is a dead give away that this isn't going to be your granddad's Beowulf story. The fact that it's "and" and not "versus" means that Beowulf & Grendel has an agenda, and in tune with contemporary mores this agenda involves demonstrating how both Beowulf and Grendel are outsiders. Beowulf isn't really that good and Grendel's just misunderstood. (This is all explained, naturally, by a sexy but socially conscious witch, Selma, herself an outcast, played by the incredibly miscast Sarah Polley (Go).)

Continue reading: Beowulf & Grendel Review

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Review


Excellent

It has become critical cliché to say that a gleefully executed summer blockbuster made one feel like a kid again, but this was my precise response to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. With its sun-bleached locales, barnacled bad guys, and unearthly soothsayers, director Gore Verbinski's latest pirate yarn is a stunning affront to marital woes, career anxieties, tax returns, and all other forms of mature and adult tosh. Silly and infectiously joyous from overwrought beginning to overwrought final frame, Pirates is not only fathoms in front of its predecessor, but sails far ahead of every other big-budget pop confectionary to have flavored theatres so far this year.

First, a moment of pause to contextualize this gushing praise. I was no great fan of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. It was no doubt a solid film: great Johnny Depp performance, breezy and colorful, but far too frequently tedious to warrant the lauding it received. I was not particularly looking forward to a sequel, seeing dollar signs in Verbinski's eyes rather than the reflection of some artistic muse. What surprises most then about this latest Pirates is its absolute regard for its art and its audience. The film gives fans what they want: more pop, less plod and most importantly, more Captain Jack.

Continue reading: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Review

Signs & Wonders Review


Very Good
Jonathan Nossiter made his fictional writing and directing debut in 1997 with the critically acclaimed Sunday, a story of two lonely strangers who find comfort in each other for a single day.

With Sunday, the camera watches the characters with a sympathetic eye to the influence of their environment. The characters seem shot without the effects of makeup, and the camera gets so close up that one can almost imagine having a conversation with them instead of merely watching a screen. Lies are acceptable because the person receiving them doesn't mind. The two protagonists are happier for having shared that day and this evokes an infectious warmth.

Continue reading: Signs & Wonders Review

Savior Review


Weak
Dennis Quaid as vengeful mercenary in Bosnia, trying to find himself through the protection of an unwanted baby? Yeah, that's what I said, too.

Breaking The Waves Review


Very Good
Lars von Trier knows weird and creepy. In northern Scotland, a woman (Watson) pines away in prayer for her husband (Skarsgård), who is offshore on an oil rig. When he is knocked into vegetable-land in an accident, he asks her to have sex with other men since he is unable to do so. Things get more and more deviant, while Watson's religious fervor gets more and more pronounced. Keep your eyes open -- despite an ass-numbing length (just shy of 3 hours), Watson's Oscar-nominated performance and a goose-bump-raising tale make Breaking the Waves a rare creepfest.

Exorcist: The Beginning Review


Bad
At one point, it was inconceivable that any big-budget Hollywood picture could rival Exorcist II: The Heretic as the most ridiculous and boring horror movie ever made. It took a stillborn cousin, Exorcist: The Beginning, to come close.

After two sequels, no producer in his right mind could think that The Exorcist franchise had much gas left in the tank. But the massively successful original chapter suggested an untold back story, and so we have - ta-da! - an insipid, un-scary, half-assed, $85 million prequel called Exorcist: The Beginning.

Continue reading: Exorcist: The Beginning Review

Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist Review


Bad
Paul Schrader and I have a sorted history, much too long to get into at this juncture. Know this: I've written three separate articles about how big a B.S. artist I think he is, mostly based on his essays on transcendental cinema. If anything, he's made me more sensitive and acute to transcendental style, but thinking that Bresson, Dreyer, and Ozu are the only transcendental directors is preposterous. Since he's become a director, Schrader has wanted to update the style that those three directors (his heroes) established and has never really captured the feeling and the pacing of those films, especially Bresson's. He's a good director, but he's not that kind of director.

Dominion is a strange -- probably unique -- case in modern cinema. It's not a remake but rather an idea produced at almost the same time as another director, but the company preferred the other version over Schrader's. The other version was directed by the frantic Renny Harlin and was one of the worst films of last year, calling on every false move in modern horror. Schrader's doesn't have much of a differentiation in plot. Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) resigns from the faith after witnessing an atrocity during the Holocaust and reinvents his life as an archeologist. In East Africa, he is one of the main discoverers of a buried temple, built upon a temple for pagan worshipers who specifically kneel to a demon named Pazuzu. Assisted by a young priest (Gabriel Mann), Father Merrin investigates the temple, a young man named Cheche (Billy Crawford), who might be Christ reincarnated, and a growing war between the British army and the local African tribesman.

Continue reading: Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist Review

Passion Of Mind Review


Weak
French director Alain Berliner stepped briefly into the limelight a couple of years ago with the impressive Ma Vie en Rose, a colorful look at a young boy who thinks he's a girl. Just as the poor boy's uncertainty tears at his family, Demi Moore's confusion rips her life in half in Berliner's follow-up, Passion of Mind. Her angst and desperation are actually right in step with the audience's feelings, in this aimless, underachieving film.

Moore's character has two lives: Marty lives in hard, bleak New York as a single, nervy, literary agent; Marie is a widowed mother of two in lush, romantic Provence. When she sleeps in one life, she dreams of the other, and yet cannot determine which is real. As Berliner introduces Marty/Marie and her dilemma, it's obvious that Passion of Mind will follow in the thematic footsteps of other similar, bland movies like Sliding Doors. A woman has two parallel lives - what if both are just too flat-out boring to be a movie?

Continue reading: Passion Of Mind Review

City Of Ghosts Review


Very Good
Lest you think all actors are suddenly turning into directors, (as in George Clooney's 2002 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) let me point out that it's not a new phenomenon (Kenneth Branagh's 1989 Dead Again). So, there's nothing extraordinary about Matt Dillon directing (and co-writing and acting in) City of Ghosts. And what he's turned in here for his theatrical film debut is a rather atmospheric journey set within the corrupt, decrepit precincts of Cambodia with plenty of opportunities for tension and intrigue.

The question is whether he developed his story to take full advantage of the setting for Asian mystery (this is the first film shot entirely in Cambodia since 1964) and the cutthroat characters that people it -- at least in fiction. Unfortunately, writer-director Dillon evokes the color and the mystery without quite managing to create gut-gripping drama. The flaw is in the content.

Continue reading: City Of Ghosts Review

Aberdeen Review


Bad
Call it a road trip for the walking wounded. Stellan Skarsgård plays such a convincingly zombified drunken loser that it's difficult to spend nearly two hours of screen time in his smelly, boozed-out presence. Yet this ever-reliable Swedish actor adds depth and significance to the otherwise plodding and forgettable Aberdeen, a sentimental and painfully mundane European drama.

Playwright August Strindberg built his career on families and relationships paralyzed by secrets, unable to express their longings until the hour is far too late. That's an accurate reflection of what Aberdeen strives for, focusing on the pairing of an alcoholic father, Tomas (Skarsgård) and his alienated, openly hostile yuppie daughter, Kaisa (Lena Headey, Gossip). They haven't spoken in years, and wouldn't even be making the long trip from Norway to Aberdeen, Scotland by automobile if it weren't for Kaisa's mother (Charlotte Rampling, Under the Sand) rotting away in a hospital bed from cancer.

Continue reading: Aberdeen Review

The Glass House Review


Very Good
People who live in glass houses... better not have much to hide. Because sooner or later, you'll get caught with your pants down, leaving everything hanging out for everyone to see.

The Glass House stars everyone's favorite Helen Hunt clone, Leelee Sobieski, as half of a sister-brother duo who move in with family friends after the untimely deaths of their parents. Little does she know that her new guardian's motives are less than altruistic and it's up to her to protect herself and her brother.

Continue reading: The Glass House Review

Insomnia (1997) Review


Very Good
Very dark and perplexing, this Nordic thriller features a Swedish investigator sent to Norway to investigate a strange murder. He gets tangled up in it too when he mistakenly shoots his partner, all in a remote city inside the Arctic Circle, where the sun never sets. With atmospheric lighting and a zippy pace, Insomnia is strangely compelling especially once you figure out the intricacies of the oddball plot (those Scandinavians aren't known for long, explanatory scenes). Being remade in English, Hollywood-style.

Dancer In The Dark Review


Excellent
Early on in Dancer in the Dark, Peter Stormare confesses to Björk that he doesn't understand movie musicals, because all the characters suddenly start singing and dancing for no reason. He doesn't start singing and dancing for no reason, he says.

Selma, as played to perfection by the almost childlike Björk, does her share of singing and dancing, but she's got a reason: It's all in her head. And with that said, get ready for the creepiest, most depressing, and certainly the most unique movie musical ever put on film.

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My Son The Fanatic Review


OK

In "My Son the Fanatic," a Pakistani cabbieis forced to face a moral and cultural crisis after 25 years of assimilationinto English life in London.

His son has broken off an engagement to a police chief'sdaughter -- a move the family saw as a step up into white society eventhough their future in-laws belittled them -- and has joined a fundamentalistMuslim sect, questioning almost everything about his father's Westernizedlifestyle, especially his habit of ferrying prostitutes for fares.

A humble and reserved man, Parvez (Om Puri) is at a losswhat to do when his family starts to break apart in the wake of this religiousupheaval. He begins spending more time in his cab than ever before justto get away, especially after the son offers room and board to his sect'sleader -- who takes over the household and regulates Parvez' wife to practicalservitude.

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Passion Of Mind Review


Terrible

Less than 30 seconds into the first reel, "Passion of Mind" practically trumpets the fact that its narrative in is a mess.Employing a catch-you-up expository voice-over, director Alian Berliner ("Ma Vie En Rose") drops you into the middle of this story like he's removing a blindfold to reveal you're behind the wheel of a car going off a cliff.

Literally the first thing you hear after the lights go down is Demi Moore's voice saying, "I could no longer tell my dream world from my real world. I don't know who I am any more."

Demi is confused because she's a balls-in-the-air, single Manhattan career gal with her own literary agency by day, but when she goes to sleep every night she dreams a whole other life in the south of France as a lovelorn widow with two daughters and a beautiful estate...

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Time Code Review


Good

Perhaps the most extraordinary experimental film ever unleashed outside the confines of the art house circuit, "Time Code" is a confident and daring attempt by director Mike Figgis ("Leaving Las Vegas," "The Loss of Sexual Innocence") to plant his flag on the barely-explored shores of 21st Century filmmaking.

Shooting on hand-held digital video in four continuous takes all running at once, Figgis splits the screen in quadrants like a security camera monitor and fiddles with the audio to draw your eye where he wants it. Then like an orchestral conductor, he unspools a precisely synchronized 93 minutes of raw, unedited, real-time footage, tracking multiple, largely-improvised narratives about a sampling of misanthropic, self-absorbed Hollywood denizens.

Packed with talented, name stars starving for something original to chew on, "Time Code's" has several stories -- some tense and emotional, others cynical and facetious -- unfolding simultaneously and often crossing paths.

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The Exorcist: The Beginning Review


Zero

Repossessed Again By Jeffrey M. Anderson This poor series has gone through nothing but trouble. According to the author of the original book, William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist (1973) was plagued by strange occurrences. The sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) suffered the most horrendous opening in history, and was recalled and re-edited with little success. The third film, Exorcist III, directed by Blatty, went virtually ignored. And now the fourth film has the strangest history of all. Warner Brothers originally commissioned Paul Schrader to direct the film -- a wise move, considering that Schrader is one of the best and gutsiest filmmakers around. He's not only made blistering dramas like Blue Collar and Affliction, but he's also experienced at horror films like Cat People (1982). According to various reports, Schrader finished his film and turned it in. Warner Brothers complained that it was not scary enough and demanded that Schrader do re-shoots. When Schrader refused, they reshot the film with Renny Harlin ( The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Driven ) -- not the greatest director aroundðat the helm. And this is the version that Warner Brothers has decided to release in theaters -- even though they didn't like it enough to screen it for the press. (They screened it on a Thursday night, after most deadlines had past.) Schrader's version still exists, and reports indicate that Warner Brothers will release it later this year on a double-disc DVD set alongside Harlin's version. I have my guess as to which one will be better. Harlin's version plays not unlike Exorcist II. It's a huge mess with passages of great beauty, juxtaposed with a few truly scary moments and a bunch of hokum and stupidity. Stellan Skarsgard stars as a younger version of Father Merrin, the older exorcist played by Max Von Sydow in the 1973 film. Having survived WWII and seen his share of horrors at the hands of the Nazis, Merrin has given up the cloak and become a hard-drinking archeologist. He's hired to travel to Kenya, where an old church has been discovered, to bring back an artifact reported to be inside. When he gets there, he discovers that things are not as they should be. There's a big upside-down cross and the church has been purposely buried. Plus, all kinds of weird things start happening, such as a still-born baby covered with maggots or a previous archeologist gone stark raving mad. Photographed by the extraordinary Vittorio Storaro ( Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now ), the film looks amazing, bathed in sandy golds and shimmering heat. Skarsgard helps with his measured performance of a tormented, brooding, intelligent man. The early passages of quiet detective work and hushed conversations work the best. Then the film goes on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, mixing brilliantly scary scenes and utterly brain-dead ones. In one silly scene, Merrin wonders about the origin of a series of graves and begins digging them up -- at night. He also digs a perfect rectangle in the dirt before he strikes the coffin lid. Even William Friedkin's original Exorcist isn't really as great as everyone imagines it to be. It's a bit quieter and slower than many films today, and it seems more intelligent, but it's really just a more exaggerated version of a standard gore-fest. In that light, Exorcist: The Beginning doesn't stray too far from the quality of the previous three films. In other words, it doesn't disappoint. Not unless, like me, you were looking forward to the Schrader version.

Stellan Skarsgard

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Stellan Skarsgard

Date of birth

13th June, 1951

Occupation

Actor

Sex

Male

Height

1.90


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