There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a blast of complex romance alongside some dark Hitchcockian twists. But filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) was probably the wrong man for the directing job, as he overproduces every scene to within an inch of its life. Everything is so big and slick that the story begins to be swamped by the too-perfect costumes and scenery. Which makes it difficult for the audience to engage in what should really be a scrappy, dangerous little drama.
It all kicks off in 1942 Casablanca, where Canadian pilot Max (Brad Pitt) meets French resistance agent Marianne (Cotillard), and together they pose as a couple to infiltrate a party and assassinate a high-ranking Nazi. They also fall in love, and afterwards decide to move to London together and start a family. But a year later, as they are raising their young daughter in leafy Hampstead, Max is told by British officials (Jared Harris and Simon McBurney) that Marianne may have secretly been a German spy all along. And there's now a countdown, as a trap as been laid to prove her guilt unless Max can find evidence to the contrary.
What follows is a tense series of events that are drenched in suspicion and intrigue as Max scrambles around to find the truth while trying not to let Marianne know what he's up to. It's a clever set-up that's very nicely played by Pitt and Cotillard, both of whom bring contrasting layers of emotion and subterfuge to their roles, plus plenty of swooning romantic energy. Most intriguing is that both are able to remain likeable as things progress. So whatever the outcome, it won't change how we feel about them. The adept actors in the side roles are excellent, although they're little more than more scenery around the central couple.
Continue reading: Allied Review
Strong characters help hold the attention as this overcooked drama develops, but in the end it feels so concocted that it's difficult to believe. While there's plenty of potential in the premise, the film becomes distracted by irrelevant subplots that try to stir up some tension but never quite manage it. And for a movie about food, the cuisine is simply too abstract to be mouthwatering.
At the centre is Adam (Bradley Cooper), a bad boy chef whose partying ways ended his high-flying career in Paris. After a period of penance in New Orleans, he moves to London to start again, with the goal of finally getting his elusive third Michelin star. Since he has alienated his friends, he turns to Tony (Daniel Bruhl), a guy who always had a soft spot for him and happens to be running a posh restaurant, which Adam quickly takes over. He rustles up some old colleagues (Omar Sy and Riccardo Scamarcio) and hires hot-shot Helene (Sienna Miller) as his sous chef. But his demanding perfectionism is keeping things from running very smoothly.
This set-up is ripe for both black comedy and soul-searching drama, and yet writer Steven Knight throws in irrelevant sideroads including a mandated therapist (the wonderful Emma Thompson), a bitter rival (a jagged Matthew Rhys), a couple of randomly violent loan sharks and a precocious little girl. Even though the actors do what they can to make every scene intriguing, none of these story elements add anything to the overall film. Still, Cooper holds the movie together with sheer charisma, even if his sudden transition from absolute tyrant to cuddly sweetheart isn't terribly convincing. At least he adds some surprising textures to his scenes, and indulges in sparky banter with those around him. And while Miller is solid in her thankless role, even she can't breathe life into such a thinly developed romance.
Continue reading: Burnt Review
Tom Hardy has re-teamed with Steven Knight for 'Taboo'.
FX has landed the domestic rights to the BBC period drama Taboo, which will star Tom Hardy. The series hails from Ridley Scott and World War Z scribe Steven Knight and is the first project to come from Hardy's production company Hardy Son & Baker.
Taboo revolves around an adventurer who returns from Africa in 1813 to build a trade and shipping empire and seek vengeance for the death of his father. He refuses to sell the family business to the East India Company and suddenly finds himself playing a very dangerous business game. Eight episodes will go into production with a premiere date eyed for 2016.
Continue reading: FX Lands Rights To BBC Series 'Taboo', With Tom Hardy
Peaky Blinders season 2 came to its epic conclusion on Thursday. It's now all systems go for a third outing.
Peaky Blinders season 2 came to its rollocking conclusion on Thursday night (December 6, 2014) affectively cementing its status as one of the most original, hard-hitting dramas on television. We need only to delve into previous comments made by creator Steven Knight to realise that the BBC probably has big plans for this.
Speaking at the BAFTA's 2014 Screenwriter Lectures earlier this year, Knight - who's currently writing the World War Z sequel - said he had already plotted a series finale for Peaky Blinders.
Continue reading: Peaky Blinders To Conclude At Start Of World War II?
Charlotte Riley, Steven Knight, Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Joe Cole, Finn Cole, Paul Bullion, Colin McCarthy and Harry Kirton - Special screening of 'Peaky Blinders' - Arrivals at Cineworld - Birmingham, United Kingdom - Sunday 21st September 2014
A relentlessly smiley-glowy tone threatens to undo this film at every turn, but it's just about rescued by a spiky script and the adept cast. Director Lasse Hallstrom has been indulging in warm-fuzzy filmmaking since 2000's Chocolat, and this story (based on the Richard Morais book) seems set in the same fanciful, far too-cute France, created with digital effects rather than cinematography. Nothing is remotely realistic, but the characters are engaging and the food looks absolutely delicious. This is definitely not a film to see on an empty stomach.
The central character is Hassan (90210's Manish Dayal), who was born in India and developed his prodigious gift as a chef with his late mother. Now refugees in Europe, Hassan's Papa (Om Puri) is on a quest to establish a restaurant with his five children. They settle on an impossibly quaint French village, and set up their Indian eatery just across the road from the Michelin-starred restaurant run by the imperious Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who of course immediately declares war on these interlopers. Meanwhile, Hassan begins exploring French cookery with Mallory's sexy sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). And his innate expertise catches Mallory's attention.
This simple twist helps propel the story and draw us in, as Hassan proves that he can teach Mallory a thing or two. Where this goes is played out in a simplistic way, but for audience members who are looking for meaning there's quite a bit of insight scattered around the script. Otherwise, Hallstrom is far more interested in superficial imagery, never quite letting the actors dig deep into their characters. Dayal shows some real texture as Hassan, but is reduced in the editing to merely smiling or frowning to show the character's frame of mind. And his relationship with Le Bon's impossibly perky Marguerite is almost painfully predictable.
Continue reading: The Hundred-Foot Journey Review
Steven Knight is charged with helping to emulate the first film's financial success
World War Z was just one of those success stories. Stranded in that middle ground between critical failure and acclaim, but well and truly prominent in box offices around the globe - it went on to collect $540m worldwide. Steven Knight, according to Variety, has been hired to write the most inevitable of sequels.
Knight’s writing credits include Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises and Jason Statham’s Hummingbird, which all bode well for an action zombie thriller. The sequel already has a director: Juan Antonio Bayona who was behind the camera for The Orphanage and The Impossible. Pitt may have had some sway in this as it comes weeks after it was announced that he was in early talks to star in an untitled World War II romantic thriller, also written by Knight.
Continue reading: Steve Knight Is Penning Brad Pitt's 'World War Z' Sequel
A riveting performance from Tom Hardy makes this pseudo-thriller utterly riveting, turning even the most contrived plot elements into punchy drama. Like Robert Redford in All Is Lost or Sandra Bullock in Gravity, this one-person show also works as an intriguing cinematic experiment: telling an entire story centred only on a man driving a car for 90 minutes.
Hardy plays construction foreman Ivan Locke, who's set to oversee the biggest concrete pour in Europe. But at the crucial moment, he abandons his post and hits the road for a late-night drive from Birmingham to London. He turns his work responsibility over to his extremely nervous assistant (voiced by Andrew Scott), but has a tough time calming down the corporate bosses. He also phones his sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner) to tell them he won't make it home to watch the big game, but he struggles to explain to his angry wife (Ruth Wilson) the reason he's driving to London to meet a middle-aged woman (Olivia Colman), who is also sounding rather stressed down the line.
As Hardy's character tries to salvage his marriage, family and career, his moral conundrum becomes increasingly intense, and Hardy plays him as a man whose internal turmoil is raging behind his confident voice. It's a remarkably effective performance, gripping and involving, asking big questions even if the script never quite gets around to grappling with the issues at hand. It's also playing rather heavily on the irony that doing the right thing is likely to cost Ivan pretty much everything, leaving him alone and despised like his father.
Continue reading: Locke Review
Ivan Locke could well be the model of a perfect life with his beautiful family, comfortable life and a job that is only continuing to offer more and more. However, everyone's got a past and this man's is coming back to haunt him as an incident regarding his younger self threatens the stability of his idyllic existence. He is forced to leave an important job in the construction profession that would've been of significant value to his career in order to drive to London and settle a matter that has been hanging in the air since he was in his twenties. It's a 90 minute journey that seems to take forever as he attempts to resolve a variety of issues that have arisen both at work and at home over the phone. He also finds himself talking to his dead father as he battles to save his family, his job and his sanity.
Continue: Locke - Teaser Trailer
Jason Statham takes a darker role than usual in a gritty London drama that never quite seems sure of itself, as writer-turned-director Knight mashes several huge social issues with a hint of action and a rather awkward romance. It's always intriguing, and has several jaw-dropping moments along the way, but ultimately leaves us wondering why Knight made the film at all.
Statham plays Joey, an ex-soldier on the run from the military police. Living homeless in central London, he breaks into a sexy loft flat and discovers that the resident will be away for eight months. So he assumes his identity, borrows his bank account and starts his life over with a job in a Chinese restaurant. Then his bosses (Wong and Lee) notice how good he is in a fight, and give him a high-paying job as a mob goon. With his new wealth, he starts helping out Cristina (Buzek), the Polish-born nun who feeds the homeless in Covent Garden. As they begin a strange friendship, he also contacts his bitter ex-wife (McClure) and young daughter.
As he did in his scripts for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, Knight reels off the social issues in London's underbelly: illegal immigrants, human trafficking, gang violence, desperate prostitution, post-traumatic stress. But the real story here is Joey's redemption, as pointedly symbolised by the hummingbirds that flit through his drug-detox dreams. As he tries to help Cristina in a variety of sometimes contrived ways, she responds by improbably falling for him. Meanwhile, he spends a lot of time searching for a missing friend (Bewick) while also trying to make things up to his ex.
Continue reading: Hummingbird [Redemption] Review
After being particularly badly beaten while living on the streets, Joey Jones is determined to get his life back on track. He is ex-special forces on the run from military court so when he finds the opportunity to transform into another person, he grabs it with both hands. Working as a chef in a London restaurant, he also acts as security using his specialist skills to overpower any trouble that might come their way. When his boss offers some new kind of work, he decides that he must do everything in his power to help people whose lives have been destroyed by poverty, especially when he is informed of the brutal death of one of his closest friends. However, he is torn between his desire to help those in need, and run away and start over his own life in a new place.
Continue: Hummingbird Trailer
This year's Mercury Prize nominees features the best of British pop.
There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...
Strong characters help hold the attention as this overcooked drama develops, but in the end...
A relentlessly smiley-glowy tone threatens to undo this film at every turn, but it's just...
A riveting performance from Tom Hardy makes this pseudo-thriller utterly riveting, turning even the most...
Ivan Locke could well be the model of a perfect life with his beautiful family,...
Jason Statham takes a darker role than usual in a gritty London drama that never...
After being particularly badly beaten while living on the streets, Joey Jones is determined to...