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Exodus: Gods And Kings Review


Aside from impressive 21st century digital effects, this new take on the Moses story pales in comparison to Cecil B. DeMille's iconic 1956 version, The Ten Commandments, which is far more resonant and intensely dramatic. Biblical epics are tricky to get right, and Ridley Scott certainly knows how to make them look and feel terrific (see Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), but his films are generally about the spectacle rather than the human emotion. So this version of the biblical story will only appeal to viewers who have never seen a better one.

It's set in 1300 BC, when the Israelites have been in captivity in Egypt for 400 years. Now rumours of liberation are circling, centring on Moses (Christian Bale), the adopted son of Pharaoh Seti (John Turturro), raised as a brother alongside the future Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton). When it emerges that Moses is actually a Hebrew, he is sent into exile in the desert, where he finds a new calling as a shepherd and marries his new boss' sexy daughter Sefora (Maria Valverde). Moses also has a run-in with the Jewish God, who appears in the form of a young boy (Isaac Andrews), challenging Moses to free the Israelites. As Moses attempts to spark a slave revolt, God sends seven horrific plagues to convince Ramses to let his people go.

The script struggles to have its cake and eat it too, finding rational explanations for the plagues and miracles while still maintaining God's supernatural intervention. It's a rather odd mix that demonstrates just how compromised the movie is: it's a big blockbuster rather than a story about people. Several elements work well, such as depicting God as a boy, although the screenplay never manages to make much of the female characters. And only Ben Mendelsohn manages to inject any proper personality as the weaselly overseer of the slaves. Bale and Edgerton both catch the complexity of their characters' situations, privilege mixed with personal revelations. But Scott is more interested in parting the Red Sea than taking them anywhere very interesting.

Continue reading: Exodus: Gods And Kings Review

See Heavily Eye-Linered Christian Bale As Moses In Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods And Kings' [Trailer & Pictures]

Ridley Scott Christian Bale Aaron Paul Joel Edgerton John Turturro Ben Kingsley Sigourney Weaver Steven Zaillian

Director Ridley Scott has dealt with some epic stories whether it's the might of the Roman Empire and the obsession with gladiators, slavering murderous aliens in space or legends of British folklore. But now the 76-year-old director is tackling the Bible and is adapting the story of Moses for the big screen in Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus: Gods and Kings
Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale star as Rhamses and Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Read More: Christian Bale's Representative Dismisses True Detective Rumours.

Continue reading: See Heavily Eye-Linered Christian Bale As Moses In Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods And Kings' [Trailer & Pictures]

Robert De Niro Steps In To Replace James Gandolfini On HBO's 'Criminal Justice'

Robert De Niro James Gandolfini Riz Ahmed Steven Zaillian

Robert De Niro has been appointed as the lead actor in the upcoming HBO mini-series Criminal Justice, a seven-episode stretch that the late James Gandolfini was initially slated to star in. The passing of Gandolfini had left the project in limbo, however with the appointment of De Niro the show will continue to air as planned.

Robert De NiroJames Gandolfini
De Niro will now star in the crime drama in place of Gandolfini

HBO confrimed De Niro's appointment to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, 25 September, adding that Gandolfini will be given a posthumous executive producer credit on the show. The mini-series is an American adaption of the hit 2008 BBC series of the same name, which was the brainchild Peter Moffat and starred Ben Whishaw and the late Pete Postlethwaite. The HBO version, which is being made in association association with BBC Worldwide Production, of the show will be initially directed by Steven Zaillian, with others stepping in as the series progresses. Moffat will serve as an executive producer on the HBO series.

Continue reading: Robert De Niro Steps In To Replace James Gandolfini On HBO's 'Criminal Justice'

James Gandolfini To Return To HBO In New Drama Pilot

James Gandolfini Steven Zaillian Richard Price

Hbo fans will be excited to hear that one of networks biggest and most memorable stars, James Gandolfini, is to return in a pilot for a new drama, reports U.S.A Today.

Gandolfini is of course most famous for his portrayal of Tony Soprano in, arguably, HBO’s most successful show of all time, The Sopranos. He is now set to reignite his love affair with the paid-for TV channel by starring in the pilot for a new adaptation of Criminal Justice, a BBC series created by Peter Moffat that – like another of HBO’s big hitters, The Wire - follows a single case across an entire season. Screenwriter, Steven Zaillian - responsible for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - and novelist Richard Price are writers and executive producers on the new project, and Zaillian will direct the pilot episode, which will be filmed this fall in New York City in a co-production with BBC Worldwide.

Inevitably, talk of Gandolfini’s return has sparked debate as to whether fans are in line for ‘the new Sopranos,’ but can Criminal Justice be as good as the gangster show? Well, it’s hard to tell, considering the pilot hasn’t even been filmed yet, but it’ll have to be some show to take on David Chase’s New Jersey behemoth, which is often cited as the best TV drama of all time. No pressure, then.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Review

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

Moneyball Review

Based on Michael Lewis' nonfiction book, this film is written, directed and played with both intelligence and emotion. And the most impressive thing is the way it avoids sentimentality at every turn, even when things turn emotional.

After an unsuccessful career as a baseball player, Billy Beane (Pitt) is now the general manager of the Oakland A's. But the team's low budget makes it unable to compete with the league's wealthy clubs. Then he meets Peter (Hill), an economist who uses stats and numbers to rank players, and they work out a system to field a championship team within budget. Getting the coach (Hoffman) to go along with this is virtually impossible, and baseball's old timers think Billy is insane. Until the A's start winning.

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All The King's Men (2006) Review


"What you don't know won't hurt you," Jack Burden narrates in the opening scene, as he contemplatively stares at the ceiling. "They call it idealism, in a book I read."

Idealism was the force that shaped the 20th century, and post-WWII Louisiana was not immune from its allure. But idealism rarely survives its first bad winter, and it's then that revolutionaries must question when the ends no longer justify the means.

This doubt pervades Steven Zaillian's well-played but often tedious adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, a Pulitzer-winning novel that had already seen screen time three years after its publication in 1946. Based on the life of Gov. Huey Long, one of America's most colorful populists and egomaniacs, Zaillian's version follows a people's revolt through the eyes of a man romanced by a cause that compels him to bring down everything that was ever important to him.

Continue reading: All The King's Men (2006) Review

The Interpreter Review

Astute moviegoers will recall that this isn't the first time Nicole Kidman has saved the world -- and especially the United Nations -- from destruction. And while 1997's The Peacemaker was a guilty pleasure of high intrigue and adventure, the flaccid The Interpreter doesn't generate half the excitement, kitschy or no.

The contrived setup gives us Nic as one Silvia Broome, a long-time resident of Africa who now makes a living as an interpreter at the UN. The headlines have a hated president from her homeland by the name of Zuwanie who's accused of genocide coming to give a speech to the General Assembly; most observers assume that the speech will save him from being tried for crimes against humanity as he pledges democratic reforms, and so his enemies are -- possibly -- planning to murder him at the podium. Or at least that's what Silvia says, as she overhears a potential plot late one night in her talkin' booth when she returns to the UN to get her "flutes and stuff."

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Searching For Bobby Fischer Review

They should really let writers direct more often. Sure, they aren't trained for it all the time, but it has a good track record. Take David Keopp (writer of the infamous The Lost World), the bane of modern literature when not directing, but able to turn out a stylish character drama and thriller when he is (The Trigger Effect). Then take a look at the independent world. Quentin Tarantino, and Steven Soderberg (Sex, Lies, and Videotape) to name a couple. Oh, yeah, Pleasantville, let's not forget that one. And, of course, we have Steven Zallian, who turned out Awakenings and Schindler's List, directing the family drama Searching for Bobby Fischer.

A family at its roots, the film follows the true story of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, a kind New York youth who teaches himself to play chess by watching other play in the park and rises to become the national youth champion. A story like this would have generated the money alone, but, unlike some of his counterparts in studio cinema, Steven Zaillian has never been content for a mediocre money-maker film. He brings in the element of family drama strongly showing how the relationshp between father and son is torn apart and brought together by the game.

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The Falcon And The Snowman Review

Underseen (and true) spy drama set in the early 1970s, The Falcon and the Snowman tells the perplexing tale of Christopher Boyce (Hutton), a low-level document controller who filtered reams of material to the Soviet Union. His mistake? Using his coked-up drug pusher buddy (Penn) as his bagman. As Penn's character falls apart, so does the plan. And in a way, so does the film. While most of Falcon is great, some of it drags and doesn't make sense. Still, you do get to hear a bit about Boyce's motivation: His conscience, which told him to expose the CIA for some of its more nefarious and off-topic activities. A good companion piece to better-known thrillers of the era like All the President's Men.

Clear And Present Danger Review

Jack Ryan returns for a third outing in Clear and Present Danger, reuniting Harrison Ford's Ryan with director Phillip Noyce, who also directed Ford-as-Ryan in Patriot Games.

Too bad that with plenty of raw material (notably Willem Dafoe as an American mercenary working in Columbia), Danger comes up awfully short. For starters, what is our CIA hero doing poking around in the Colubian drug trade? Sure, he's rooting out a huge conspiracy that goes all the way up the U.S. political ranks, but must we be subjected to endless Latino stereotypes en route to that? Clancy is always at his best when he's dealing with terrorists or Russians. Here we have a plot (nearly 2 1/2 hours in length) that trots out the usual exploding drug factories and endless cartel assassinations. Ryan's escape from a troublesome mission is infamous for the bad guys' repeated inability to hit a near-motionless target.

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Schindler's List Review

The best Holocaust movie ever made is Life is Beautiful. However, since Life is Beautiful came out in 1997, there has to have been another film that held the title before Benigni's comic masterpiece came along and snatched it away. That film is Schindler's List.

Schindler's List is the true story of Oscar Schindler, a Nazi party member, a war profiteer, and a man responsible for saving the lives of over 2000 Jews in the Holocaust. As would be expected from the majority of Holocaust movies, Schindler's List is a film that you cannot say you love without feeling like a total schmuck (or, practicing my Yiddish again, being very Vashnuked). However Schindler's List is what you would call an endearing film.

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Gangs Of New York Review

Because Martin Scorsese's blood runs Big Apple red, it's a remarkable coincidence his first project following September 11 is Gangs of New York, a magnificent drama that seems to spring directly from the panic, violence, pain, and fear the terrorist attacks wrought on the director's hometown. In the wake of 9/11, the master of Mean Streets was almost expected to weigh in and help close the door on our national tragedy.

Over the course of his career, Scorsese has proven he fully understands the tension that once fuelled - and continues to fuel - this powder keg of a city. With Gangs, he rewinds the clocks to present a vicious social and political history lesson that retraces New York's early steps in an effort to better understand the many ingredients of the current Melting Pot.

Continue reading: Gangs Of New York Review

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