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Bastille Day Review

OK

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd mix of French setting, American characters and British cast and crew. The inclusion of hugely current issues like immigration, terrorism and capitalistic excess adds the illusion that the movie is actually about something. So while the plot is preposterous, the film has an edgier, more jaggedly comical sensibility that makes it entertaining.

It's set in Paris, where the gifted American pickpocket Michael (Richard Madden) becomes a terrorist suspect when he inadvertently steals a bomb from a the hapless young Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon), roped into planting it by her anti-fascist boyfriend. On Michael's trail is the bullheaded CIA operative Briar (Idris Elba), who has just been transferred to Paris due to his insubordinate attitude. His new boss (Kelly Reilly) is an old friend who vouches for him, then quickly regrets that decision when he goes rogue and teams up with the fugitive Michael to track down the real villain. They're pursued all over the city by local police chief Victor (Jose Garcia) and his fearsome sidekick Rafi (Thierry Godard), oblivious to the fact that the men they're chasing are actually trying to save Paris from something catastrophic.

The plot itself is fairly simple, but the film is assembled in a way that makes everything look far more complicated than it actually is. Action mayhem breaks out at every turn, with impressively full-on stuntwork, crashing chase scenes and lots of shootouts. A fistfight in the back of a careering van is particularly rough and tumble, as it were. And with such villainous baddies, the filmmakers believe they are justified in killing off dozens of faceless henchmen. One dares to show a glimmer of a conscience, but that doesn't save him.

Continue reading: Bastille Day Review

Spotlight Review

Extraordinary

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on a true story, this is a journalistic procedural following a team of newspaper writers who take on a corrupt system. The outcome is well-known (they won a Pulitzer Prize and launched the global investigation into child abuse by Catholic priests), but the film is still utterly riveting, beautifully written and played to perfection.

In 2001, the Boston Globe's investigative Spotlight team is working to report the biggest stories in the city. So newly arrived senior editor Marty (Liev Schreiber) asks them to find out if there's truth to rumours that the local Catholic Archdiocese is covering up abuse. But he's unaware that the church controls the city, and the Spotlight writers (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d'Arcy James) quickly encounter heavy resistance from the establishment. As they persistently dig deeper, they realise that the story is exponentially bigger than anyone thought it was. Two lawyers (Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup) prove to be crucial in this process, as the team works to prove that the Cardinal (Len Cariou) has been covering up abuse for decades.

Cleverly, writer Josh Singer and writer-director Tom McCarthy never play this story for its salacious details. Instead, they focus on the people involved, which gives the film a strong sense of what's at stake here and the urgency of getting the story exactly right. It's a rare movie that can maintain this balance, gripping the audience and building suspense without ever tipping over into sensationalism. And the filmmakers bring out some strong emotional resonance in sensitive conversations between the journalists and the victims. All of this is expertly played by actors who stir in personal details without letting their characters' side-stories interfere with the larger narrative. They also resist the temptation to overplay the material, letting the facts of the case provide every gut-punch.

Continue reading: Spotlight Review

The 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Red Carpet

Guest , Steve Golin - Celebrities attend The 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar. at Barker Hangar, Critics' Choice Awards - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 17th January 2016

Guest and Steve Golin
Guest and Steve Golin

The Revenant Review

Excellent

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as technically astounding as his Oscar-winning previous film Birdman. But it's a much muddier and bloodier, set in a a snowy, mountainous Wild West in which everything is a potentially fatal hazard. There may be some human villains on hand, but it's Mother Nature who holds the cards.

At the edge of civilisation in the 1820s, a group of fur trappers led by Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) is ambushed by a ferocious mob of Native Americans led by Chief Elk Dog (Duane Howard), who is looking for his kidnapped daughter. As the trappers flee from the attack, they are assisted by the guide Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who knows these mountains because he has gone native, adopting an orphaned teen boy named Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), who now accompanies him. But as the survivors make their escape, Glass is badly mauled by a grizzly bear. Henry assigns the compassionate Bridger (Will Poulter) and the more cynical Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) to take care of him. But Fitzgerald snaps, leaving Glass for dead. Against the odds, Glass recovers and sets out to get vengeance.

The title refers to someone who comes back from the grave, which is literally what happens to Glass. And DiCaprio plays him with fire-eyed intensity that vividly shows his tenacious will to survive. Moody flashbacks reveal his back-story, and why living means so much to him. It's one of DiCaprio's most viscerally moving performances. Opposite him, Hardy is a bundle of unpredictable, terrifying rage, thankfully balanced by the expressively sympathetic Poulter and Gleeson's alert commander, the only person who takes the time to measure his thoughts. They're surrounded by a terrific supporting cast of sparky actors who appear briefly but memorably.

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Premiere Of 20th Century Fox And Regency Enterprises' 'The Revenant' - Arrivals

Steve Golin , Guest - Premiere of 20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises' 'The Revenant' held at TCL Chinese Theatre - Arrivals at TCL Chinese Theater - Hollywood, California, United States - Wednesday 16th December 2015

Steve Golin and Guest
Steve Golin and Guest
Steve Golin and Guest
Steve Golin and Guest

Say When [Laggies] Review


Good

Keira Knightley continues to open up as an actress with this sparky comedy. As in Begin Again and The Imitation Game, she taps into her own lively personality to create a punchy character who's loose, likeable and prickly. And while the film has a warm, engaging tone that's often both honest and funny, it also feels somewhat contrived as it pushes Knightley's character into corner after corner. As with films like Humpday and Your Sister's Sister, director Lynn Shelton takes a spirited idea and ends up playing it oddly safe.

It's set in Seattle, where Megan (Knightley) is in her late-20s, horrified to see her close circle of friends settling down into predictable lives involving marriage and children. So when her longtime boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) proposes, just as she discovers that her dad (Jeff Garlin) has cheated on her mom, Megan makes a run for it. At a convenience shop, a group of teens asks her to buy some alcohol, and suddenly she has a new best friend in Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz). As they bond, Annika invites Megan to stay at her house. So Megan invents a story about attending a self-help conference and lays low, hanging out with her new teen gang like it's the good old days. But Annika's single dad Craig (Sam Rockwell) begins to challenge Megan to realise that perhaps there are benefits to growing up.

Yes, it's obvious from the moment Megan and Craig start bickering where this is headed. And these predictable plot turns feed into the standard rom-com structure of the screenplay, right up to climactic scenes at both an airport and the prom. There isn't a single surprise along the way, but Knightley's breezy performance is more than enough to carry the audience with her on this odyssey. Effortlessly charming even when she's being a jerk, she develops a wonderful improv-like chemistry with both Moretz and Rockwell, while the bit players add plenty of texture to each episodic sequence.

Continue reading: Say When [Laggies] Review

Uwantme2killhim? Review


Excellent

British director Andrew Douglas (2005's Amityville Horror remake) takes a clever look at youthful naivete in this strikingly inventive thriller, which is based on a true story. Its focussed perspective lets us see the events unfold as the main character might, and watching him misinterpret everything is seriously unsettling.

That character is the cool North London teen Mark (Blackley), who avoids his annoying parents (Womack and Delamere) by hiding in his room while chatting online to local teen Rachel (Winstone). She has gone into witness protection because of her brutish boyfriend (Johnston), and she asks Mark to look out for her nerdy little brother John (Regbo), who's being bullied in school. As they hang out together, Mark and John strike up a friendship. But when Rachel disappears, Mark begins chatting online to an MI5 agent (White) who convinces him that he needs to take violent action to save lives at school.

Right from the start, we suspect that something is up with the people Mark meets in internet chatrooms. But we also understand why he doesn't question anything: the setting is 2003, rife with still-gurgling paranoia after 9/11 and Columbine. Also, the film intercuts Mark's story with the aftermath of his actions, as he's interviewed by a tenacious detective (Downton Abbey's Froggatt). So we know that we are seeing the people he's chatting to through his mind's eye, which is why director Douglas makes the eerie decision to show them talking to their computers rather than just typing. We question whether they're real, but Mark never does.

Continue reading: Uwantme2killhim? Review

The Premiere Of Paramount Pictures' 'Fun Size' At Paramount Theater - Arrivals

Bard Dorros and Steve Golin - Bard Dorros and Steve Golin Thursday 25th October 2012 The premiere of Paramount Pictures' 'Fun Size' at Paramount Theater - Arrivals

Bard Dorros and Steve Golin

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World Review


Excellent
There's a whiff of wilful quirkiness about this apocalyptic comedy-drama, but as the brittle humour quietly transforms into something remarkably emotional, the film gets under our skin in ways we never expect.

With an apocalyptic asteroid strike due in three weeks, Dodge (Carell) wonders why he's still going to work at his dull insurance firm. Then he runs into Penny (Knightley), distraught because she's broken up with her boyfriend (Brody). Dodge wants to revisit his childhood sweetheart, while Penny wants to see her parents in Britain. And Dodge knows someone with a plane, so they team up. Along the road, they get help from a trucker (Peterson) and Penny's survivalist ex (Luke). But with the world ending, their priorities begin to shift.

Continue reading: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World Review

Big Miracle Review


Very Good
A grounding in the real-life story makes this film much less sentimental than it looks. Strong characters, some surprisingly dark touches and a genuinely thrilling series of events helps to engage us right to the end.

In 1988 Barrow, at the top of Alaska, aspiring reporter Adam (Krasinski) stumbles across three whales trapped beneath the icecap. Unable to reach the open sea, there's just a tiny hole in the ice that lets them breathe. Adam's report goes viral, grabbing the attention of America's press as well as his Greenpeace-activist ex Rachel (Barrymore). And the rescue effort will require an L.A. journalist (Bell), military pilot (Mulroney), Inuit boy (Sweeney), whale expert (Nelson), oil baron (Danson), White House rep (Shaw), two chuckleheads from Minnesota (LeGros and Riggle) and the Russian Navy.

Continue reading: Big Miracle Review

The Beaver Review


Very Good
While there are too many carefully constructed moments in this film, it's a remarkably effective mixture of dark drama and absurd comedy. This is surprising because the premise is more than a little ridiculous.

After a nervous breakdown, Walter (Gibson) is struggling to get back into his role as CEO of a toy company, husband to Meredith (Foster) and father to two boys, smart 17-year-old Porter (Yelchin) and curious young Henry (Stewart).

When Walter finds a beaver puppet, he has an epiphany, letting the beaver say what he's afraid to say. While this helps reinvigorate his business and adds a lively twist to his family life, it's not exactly a permanent solution.

Continue reading: The Beaver Review

Cleaner Review


Terrible
Watching this movie felt like the longest 90 minutes of my life.

Remember that TV show Heroes, where something happens maybe every 15 episodes to advance the storyline? Cleaner is kind of like that but condensed into a movie. The movie beats around the bush for about half an hour before it actually introduces a conflict; the rest of the 90 minutes is filled with Samuel L. Jackson yelling at various people until we finally encounter a twist at the very end. The "surprise" ending is so contrived and underwhelming you'll want to take a nap after sitting through this film to recover your soul from horrendous boredom by dreaming up something more interesting.

Continue reading: Cleaner Review

Rendition Review


Good
About halfway through Gavin Hood's Rendition, Peter Sarsgaard's dweeby congressman's assistant approaches Meryl Streep's white witch of the CIA with enough huff-and-puff to blow down a Dairy Queen. The two ideological opposites go at it with crisp, cool reverie: He promises to send her a copy of the Constitution while she promises him that a copy of the 9/11 Report will be arrive in his mailbox posthaste. It's sloganeering at its finest and that's not the half of it.

CIA watchdog Corrine Whitman (Streep) sets up the titular protocol when evidence is uncovered against Chicago family man and chemical engineer Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), Egyptian by birth. Whitman suspects that El-Ibrahimi had a hand in a recent bombing of an unnamed North African tea house; an attempt on the life of North African security head Fawal (Igal Naor). Fawal heads the "interrogation" with CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) there as counsel while they electrocute, drown, beat, and strangle Anwar to give up information on the attack.

Continue reading: Rendition Review

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Steve Golin Movies

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

Say When [Laggies] Movie Review

Say When [Laggies] Movie Review

Keira Knightley continues to open up as an actress with this sparky comedy. As in...

Uwantme2killhim? Movie Review

Uwantme2killhim? Movie Review

British director Andrew Douglas (2005's Amityville Horror remake) takes a clever look at youthful naivete...

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Movie Review

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Movie Review

There's a whiff of wilful quirkiness about this apocalyptic comedy-drama, but as the brittle humour...

Big Miracle Movie Review

Big Miracle Movie Review

A grounding in the real-life story makes this film much less sentimental than it looks....

Advertisement
The Beaver Movie Review

The Beaver Movie Review

While there are too many carefully constructed moments in this film, it's a remarkably effective...

Case 39 Movie Review

Case 39 Movie Review

The truth is this: you can never have too many evil child thrillers, especially when...

44 Inch Chest Movie Review

44 Inch Chest Movie Review

With its limited setting, contained cast and existential plot, this feels more like a play...

Married Life Movie Review

Married Life Movie Review

Married Life, a new film from director Ira Sachs, feels very much like a film...

Rendition Movie Review

Rendition Movie Review

About halfway through Gavin Hood's Rendition, Peter Sarsgaard's dweeby congressman's assistant approaches Meryl Streep's white...

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