This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written, directed and acted that it's impossible not to be pulled into its powerfully wrenching drama. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (see also 2011's sleeper masterpiece Margaret) creates characters so vivid that they get deep under the skin, and he allows his actors to so fully inhabit them that they become unforgettable.
This is the story of Lee (Casey Affleck), a janitor who is hiding in Boston from his past. When his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has a heart attack, he returns to his hometown Manchester to take care of Joe's 16-year-old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges), who isn't remotely happy about this set-up. But Joe's estranged wife Elisa (Gretchen Mol) has vanished, and Lee's ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) has started a new life. So while Patrick struggles to maintain his independence, Lee tries to build some sort of relationship with him. But both are still reeling with pain over things that happened to them over the years.
Yes, the central theme here is grief, and Lonergan piles mountains of it onto these characters. As details about their back-stories are revealed, the intensity of the emotions becomes nearly unbearable, and yet neither Lonergan nor the actors ever give into sentimentality or trite sermons. This is achingly realistic, an exploration of how people survive even the worst things life can throw at them. And Affleck delivers his best performance yet in the role, a devastatingly transparent turn that holds the audience in rapt attention. Newcomer Hedges matches him beat for beat as a deeply likeable teen whose prickly reactions make him even more sympathetic. And both Williams and Mol add some blistering electricity as women struggling to reinvent themselves. In just a few scenes, Williams very nearly steals the film.
Continue reading: Manchester By The Sea Review
Lee Chandler lives a life of self-imposed exile but that's not how he's always been. For many years prior, he lived in the small town of Manchester-By-The-Sea where the rest of his family and his fiancé all live. It's a picturesque fishing town and the pace of life is slower than any city could offer and the Chandler's all live good lives. Now, Lee lives in Boston and works as a janitor and his strict day to day routine has been brought about to limit the amount of people he see and has to deal with.
When Lee's brother, Joe, dies Lee is made the guardian of Patrick, Joe's teenage son. The news comes as a surprise to both men. Patrick is dealing with the loss of his family and now is forced to live with his uncle who's distanced himself from the family years prior.
Patrick doesn't understand his uncle's reluctance to relocate and move back to the small neighbourhood he used to call home. As hard choices are made and old acquaintances become part of the present day picture, Lee must not only do what is best for himself but also consider his nephew and the wishes of his brother.
Continue: Manchester By The Sea Trailer
This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in the White House in December 1970. The only details about this collision of two icons come from a few eyewitness accounts, as well as the photograph they took together. So the screenwriters have some fun with it, weaving in quite a bit of comedy that encourages actors to chomp merrily on the scenery. It's entertaining to watch, but the script misses the chance to add meaning on the situation.
Elvis (Michael Shannon) is the one who initiates this meeting, concerned about the growing protests on the streets of Washington, DC. So he flies to Los Angeles to collect his long-time friend Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) then heads to the capital to meet with his nutty colleague Sonny (Johnny Knoxville) and pitch himself to President Nixon (Kevin Spacey) as an undercover FBI agent who can infiltrate the nation's youth. Since it's obvious that all Elvis wants is a federal ID badge, Nixon brushes the whole idea of a meeting aside until his advisors (Colin Hanks and Evan Peters) convince him that it would be a great PR move. So just before Christmas, the two men finally meet up, and they discover that they have more in common than either expected.
Because of the absurdity of the set-up and the wackiness of the period styles, the movie feels rather a lot like an extended sketch comedy that's largely improvised by an up-for-it cast. These two men are both such big personalities that a meeting like this would be hard to believe if it weren't for the photographic evidence. The conversation between Presley and Nixon is surreal and hilariously random (and largely fictionalised). Shannon and Spacey are having a great time prowling around each other, pouncing with a punchline at every opportunity, so watching them is riveting. Mercifully, they underplay the impersonations, capturing the men with tiny details of movement and vocal inflection rather than relying on lots of make-up. Although Shannon does have that hair and costume.
Continue reading: Elvis & Nixon Review
Who would've thought that Elvis and Richard Nixon would become allies? When Elvis sporadically showed up at The White House, it was completely unexpected. He was the biggest pop star in the world and there he was, at the gates of The White House unannounced.
Under the advice of one of his top aides, Nixon is a talked into meeting with The King Of Pop. Nixon needed a boost in popularity and for him to be seen as becoming friends with America's most loved star would be a perfect photo op for The President.
Elvis is accepted and taken into the building; him and his security sidekicks are searched and relieved of their firearms. Whilst speaking with Egil Krogh, Elvis is run through a few of the certain White House protocols that one must follow on meeting the president, protocols Elvis is quick to cast aside. The reason behind this meeting was kept entirely secret, but now we'll learn about Elvis' aspirations to take on a new mission unlike anything he's ever done before.
Continue: Elvis & Nixon Trailer
Ray is, in many ways, a regular New York teenager who enjoys skating, goes to school and is being raised by a single mother. The only unusual thing about him is that he was born female. Now he's hit puberty, he wants to under-go hormone replacement therapy and his mother Maggie is behind him one-hundred per cent. She may be grieving for the daughter that she's lost, but all she wants is for Ray to be happy and feel whole. The news that Ray wants to become a boy doesn't sit well with everyone, however. Her lesbian grandmother Dolly, for example, with whom he and his mother lives is dismissive of the idea of transitioning, and when the time comes to sign the parental consent form from the doctor, Maggie struggles to get her estranged husband to agree too. Ray isn't backing down without a fight; he refuses to go to school until he can start afresh in a boyish body, having undergone years of bullying. But it's going to take some serious discussion for him to be accepted for he is by the people around him.
Continue: About Ray Trailer
Tate Donovan - Shots of a host of stars as they arrived and took to the red carpet for a Special screening of 'Mad Men' which was held at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York, United States - Monday 23rd March 2015
Among the CBS TV show actors arriving at the network's 2013 Upfront Presentation in New York were Sharon Osbourne from 'The Talk' (who doesn't refrain from her usual face-pulling shenanigans) and the cast of 'How I Met Your Mother' Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan.
Ben Affleck leaps on to the A-list of directors with this relentlessly entertaining thriller, combining comedy and nerve-jangling suspense to maximum effect. Based on a declassified story that's unbelievable but true, the film is also clear-eyed about politics without ever getting lost in the big issues. Instead, it keeps us engaged through terrific characters who are beautifully played by a lively cast.
As Iran's 1979 revolution boiled over into street protests over America's assistance to the deposed Shah, rioters stormed the US embassy and took 52 Americans hostage. In the chaos, six staffers snuck out the back door and took refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador (Garber). With the Iranians on their trail, the CIA chief (Cranston) decides to try to get them out, and Agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a wild idea: he creates a fake sci-fi movie called Argo with the help of a veteran producer (Arkin) and an Oscar-winning make-up artist (Goodman), so the six escapees can pose as a Canadian location-scouting crew and leave the country.
Yes, this plan sounds utterly ridiculous, but the fake Argo is exactly the kind of cheesy Star Wars rip-off everyone was trying to make at the time, so the idea of scouting colourful Iranian locations isn't as far-fetched as it seems. And screenwriter Terrio keeps us laughing as Mendez and his Hollywood cohorts concoct this elaborate scam. These scenes are so good that Arkin and Goodman walk off with the whole movie, giving loose, witty supporting turns that are likely to be remembered in awards season. Affleck gets in on the fun as well, then also effortlessly takes on the more intense action scenes to hold the whole film together.
Continue reading: Argo Review
When the Iranian Revolution protests began to take place in 1979, their main target was the US embassy in Tehran. It didn't take long for an army of militant Islamic extremists to infiltrate the building and seize 52 American citizens as hostages with only six victims managing to escape and take refuge inside the Canadian ambassador's home. It is decided that the six escapees must be found and smuggled out of Tehran before they are killed. Tony Mendez is a CIA officer specialising in covert government operations who is enlisted by the government to conceive a plan of exfiltration. His plan involves him and his team travelling to Iran under the guise of a film crew preparing to shoot a pretend movie called 'Argo'. However, as is expected, not everyone is confident in this less than risk free operation.
'Argo' is loosely based on a true story depicted in the real Tony Mendez' account of the events that took place during the hostage crisis as well as an article written in Wired in 2007 called 'How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran' by Joshuah Bearman. It has been directed and starred in by Ben Affleck ('Good Will Hunting', 'Pearl Harbor') and written by Chris Terrio ('Heights') and will be released in US theaters on October 12th 2012.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishe, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Zeljko Ivanek & Titus Welliver.
But Andrew Fleming's take on Nancy Drew turns out to be a snappy charmer. Though the film takes place in the present, Nancy's life could still be described by the MPAA tags on a trailer for a PG movie: mild peril, brief teen partying; she hasn't been glammed into 2007. But the film uses this mildness to its advantage, starting with the decision not to play Nancy's old-fashioned virtues -- lawful curiosity, modest fashions, and an unfailing politeness even in the face of peril -- for satire. That is not to say that Nancy (Emma Roberts, niece of Julia, son of Eric) isn't oblivious to modern life; she knows about iPods and laptops. She's just old-fashioned (she prefers vinyl and books), which makes her dedication to old-timey detecting (or "sleuthing," as she calls it) all the more individualistic, even touching, as well as sweetly funny.
Continue reading: Nancy Drew Review
The story of the witch-hunt has endlessly retold, usually laden with the same self-satisfied 20/20 hindsight that afflicts stories of the civil rights movement, and fortunately Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov see no need to go through it all again. With admirable precision, they've sliced away most all the accoutrements often used to open up the era for the modern viewer, ala Quiz Show. This is a film that takes place almost entirely inside a CBS studio and newsroom, with occasional trips to hallways, elevators, and a network executive's wood-paneled office. Once, they all go out to a bar. It's best in the studio, because that's where we find Murrow - incarnated with almost indecent accuracy by David Strathairn - looking and sounding like as though Rod Serling had decided to rejoin the human race, his manner clipped and astringent, cigarette cocked in one hand like a talisman warding off evil.
Continue reading: Good Night, And Good Luck Review
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