Some people are far more important than you might think. For one lowly cobbler, things are about to change. After a lifetime of fixing other people's shoes, the cobbler, Max Simkin (Adam Sandler) one day dares to try on a pair, discovering that if he walks in a man (or woman)'s shoes, he will become that person. After becoming the wrong person and coming into some money that doesn't belong to him, Simkin must do whatever he can to make it through, and maybe go back to helping other people instead of himself.
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The film starts with a quick meet-cute at an American consulate 4th of July barbecue in Dubai, where MI-6 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) is flirting with Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts). He doesn't figure out that she's a CIA agent until much later, long after she absconded from his room with a parcel of secret documents and he has woken up from the drugs she knocked him out with. Years later, the two are thrown together again when Koval takes a private security job with Equikrom -- a Unilver-like corporate giant that produces everything from shampoo to diapers -- only to find Stenwick already in place as a deep-undercover operative working for rival firm Burkett & Randle, which is on the brink of a delivering a paradigm-busting new product that Equikrom wants badly.
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Fifteen months later, The Wire returned for its brilliant swan song. David Simon, Ed Burns, and crew famously dedicated each season of The Wire to an institutional failure (the drug war, the middle class, political reform, the schools) that has contributed to the extended death of Baltimore, and by extension all of America's inner cities. For the show's final go-round, the show takes on the decline of local media. Simon spent years -- several of them tumultuous -- at the Baltimore Sun before he started creating amazing TV shows. Naturally, Simon brings much of his personal disaffection and melancholy to his portrayal of that disintegrating daily.
Continue reading: The Wire: Season Five Review
For Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), existence is a stifled sleepwalk of commitments and complaints. He hates teaching. He hates faculty politics. He especially hates the lonely life he leads as a widower. His wife long dead, Vale just can't find a purpose. Forced to travel from his new home in Connecticut to his old apartment in New York City to present a paper, he discovers two strangers living there. As illegals, Arab Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and African Zainab (Danai Jekesai Gurira) have no real place to go, so Vale reluctantly lets them stay. When the Syrian Tarek is wrongfully arrested and detained, our quiet professor becomes his champion. The arrival of Tarek's mother (Hiam Abbass) from Michigan makes matters more complicated.
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Peggy (Molly Shannon) dotes on Pencil, her puppy, with the affection only rewarded to the luckiest of children from the most spoiling of parents. So, when Pencil gets into some toxic shrubbery and goes, as all dogs do, to heaven, Peggy is inconsolable. Not that there aren't plenty of people who want to help her. Her oafish neighbor (John C. Reilly) wants to date her, her best friend (Regina King) wants to set her up with someone, and the receptionist at the vet (the invaluable Peter Sarsgaard) wants to get her a new dog ASAP. It's the receptionist, Newt, who gets Peggy into veganism and, ostensibly, sends her on a path of social destruction the likes of which are rarely seen.
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These stories are not particularly confrontational, though they have their share of breakdowns and even occasional violence. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Emme, a rising star in the obscure but apparently high-stakes world of designer cakes; Sandie (Jim Gaffigan) is a World Trade Center survivor who's meeting with a corporate therapist (Tony Shalhoub); two parents (Judy Greer and Thomas McCarthy) bicker about their antisocial young son; an elderly woman (Olympia Dukakis) flirts with escaping the dead-silent routine of her long marriage; and a pair of bodyguards (Naseeruddin Shah and Sharat Saxena) traipse around the city for an Indian political figure. If any of these stories sound like they could be stripped-down plays, with many characters standing neatly in pairs, it's probably because writer-actor Sam Catlin developed some of these ideas on stage.
Continue reading: The Great New Wonderful Review
Instead of being a schlock comedy about drug rehab, 30 Days is an always smart, often thoughtful film about detachment, breaking up, true love, and how all doesn't always turn out for the best.
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