Even if the premise is tired, this grim thriller holds the attention by focussing on the raw intensity of the characters' personal lives. It's also grisly enough to work as a bone-dry black comedy about a hapless guy who will do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones. But just a little more complexity in the story and characters would have helped a lot.
The film opens as nice guy Elliot (Mark Webber) is sacked from his New Orleans job at exactly the wrong time. Not only is he planning his wedding with his pregnant fiancee Shelby (Rutina Wesley), but he also helps support his retirement-age dad (Tom Bower) and mentally disabled brother (Graye). So when a stranger phones to offer him a place in a cash-bonanza game, he doesn't mind that the 13 tasks are increasingly deranged. It starts with killing a fly, but soon escalates to making a child cry, starting a fire in a church and desecrating a dead body. But if he wins, his worries will be over. Then he realises that he's not the only contestant.
Without a hint of subtlety in the script, we never have any questions about what is happening, what the moral implications are and where the story's going next. So there's no way to join in with Elliot's disorienting dilemma. Instead, there's nothing to do but sit back and watch. In another actor's hands, Elliot might have come across as an idiot who deserves whatever's coming, but Webber has a vulnerability that makes us care what happens, even as he does one stupid thing after another. His family seem eerily oblivious, but Ron Perlman adds some deadpan humour as a detective following Elliot's trail. And Pruitt Taylor Vince is on hand as his usual bug-eyed, shifty nerd who knows more than anyone else.
Continue reading: 13 Sins Review
Coarse and not exactly subtle, this dark drama might disappoint viewers expecting a more traditional revenge thriller, but there's something more interesting going on here. And even though it starts at full volume and only gets more intense, the film is actually remarkably thoughtful and measured in its approach.
It's set in the Rust Belt, industrial Pennsylvania, where Russell (Bale) works in a steel mill and worries about his little brother Rodney (Affleck), who's deep in debt to a local bookie (Dafoe). Then a late-night car crash lands Russell in prison, and when he's released everything has changed. He has no job, his girlfriend (Saldana) is now dating the local sheriff (Whitaker), and Rodney is paying off his debts by fighting in bare-knuckle boxing matches. Even more perilous is the fact that all of this puts the brothers on a collision course with vicious local redneck Harlan (Harrelson), who has no intention of making their lives easier.
The film opens with a particularly brutal display of Harlan's menace, so we know what's coming. And as everything goes from bad to worse for our two heroes, the film feels almost aggressively harsh. Of course, Bale and Affleck are terrific as these damaged men whose fierce bond both helps and puts them into danger. And both actors let us see beneath the surface as their lives fall apart. In what could be the thankless ex-girlfriend role, Saldana has some surprisingly powerful moments. And Harrelson is a deeply terrifying force to reckon with.
Continue reading: Out Of The Furnace Review
Russell Baze lives in a rundown, underprivileged neighbourhood where he works full-time at a steelworks while also trying to support his wife and take care of his dying father. His spirits lift, however, at the arrival of his brother Rodney, a soldier, who has finally come home after serving in Iraq. Unfortunately, he brings will him a burden - he's in need of money and has approached a ruthless crime boss in order to get it. They arrange for him to take part in a bare-knuckle boxing match, but when he fails to comply with the winning/losing arrangements he made with his new boss, he suddenly disappears without a trace. Russell goes to the police who are less than helpful and have been unable to find his brother and so he decides to go after the gang himself, determined to seek justice.
This gripping crime thriller has an all-star cast and has been directed by Scott Cooper ('Crazy Heart') who also wrote the screenplay alongside Brad Ingelsby ('The Dynamiter'). It's a story of desperation, justice and loyalty and just how far people would go to save their loved ones. 'Out Of The Furnace' is set to appear on UK cinema screens on November 29th 2013.
One Direction may still be teenagers but they are worth a fortune, after less than two years in existence. One Direction shot to fame after appearing on the UK version of X Factor in 2010; the irony of their subsequent fortune, of course, is that they didn’t even win the contest: they came third behind Rebecca Ferguson and Matt Cardle. The revelations about the band’s fortune have come from Tom Bower’s new book about Simon Cowell, The Mirror have reported.
According to today’s report (September 20, 2012), the five young lads known as One Direction are now officially one of the UK’s most successful music groups ever. And it’s thought that the band have raked in around £200 million for Simon Cowell and Sony, on top of the vast sum of money that they have earned for themselves, too. It’s a pretty impressive story for a band that are barely out of their teens. Their eldest member, Louis Tomlinson is 21 and Harry Styles, the youngest member of the band, is still only 18. In his book, Bowen writes “One Direction were Cowell’s new Westlife – a revival of his mastery of the music business. Nothing had been left to chance by Sony Music, with the band’s hit album Up All Night selling over five million copies.”
In addition to sales of One Direction’s songs, Simon Cowell and his colleagues have managed to strike up some lucrative endorsements for the band. These include partnerships with Nokia, Hasbro toys and Pokemon games. Apparently, the boys like to splash their cash, now that they have plenty of it. Louis splashed out £2.5 million on a five bedroom pad in London and Harry’s got his own bachelor pad, as well as a number of pricey sports cars. Nice work if you can get it, eh lads?
Jonathan; Ron; Richard and Tim met at college 25 years ago and have been friends ever since. Jonathan is a doctor; Ron is a banker and Richard is a English teacher at a high school. This year is no different from any other year: the four men leave their families and careers to rent a beach house in California for a week, which is spent partying with college girls and an extortionate amount of booze and drugs.
Continue: I Melt With You Trailer
Indeed, Winterbottom keeps Thompson's bleakness intact, leaving us little to engage with. But the film has an earth beauty and is a haunting look at the dark side of being human.
Lou Ford (Affleck) is a small-town deputy in 1950s West Texas, where he's still struggling with childhood demons and feelings of inadequacy. Even though he has an adoring girlfriend (Hudson), he starts a torrid fling with a prostitute (Alba) who lives on the edge of town. And as he sets in motion an elaborate revenge plot, we discover that underneath his nice guy exterior Lou is a sadistic murderer. And he's only barely staying one step ahead of the investigators (including Bower, Koteas and Baker).
Continue reading: The Killer Inside Me Review
Lou Ford leads -what looks to be a pretty unremarkable existence, he's the deputy Sheriff of a small town but has two girlfriends one who works as a schoolteacher and the other a prostitute. When murders start happening in the sleepy West Texas town, no one is quite sure who's committing the murders. As investigators lean toward Lou as their prime suspect, he finds himself in a spiral of death as he struggles to clear his name. Things are never as they seem, the unassuming person the townsfolk thought they knew in Lou soon unravels and it becomes clear that all they were seeing was a facade.
Continue: The Killer Inside Me Trailer
Detective Terence McDonagh (Cage) has been promoted to lieutenant in the wake of his heroic actions during Hurricane Katrina. Even though he's a coke-snorting, evidence-tampering, gambling-addict rapist with a hooker (Mendes) for a girlfriend. Now he's investigating the grisly murder of a family. He knows that local gangster Big Fate (Joiner) is to blame, but he has no proof beyond a nervous 15-year-old witness (Whitaker). As his entire world squeezes in on him, he merely turns to more drugs, violence and sex to worm his way out.
Continue reading: The Bad Lieutenant - Port Of Call: New Orleans Review
Terrence McDonagh is a cop who's not really known for his courageous acts but when he sees a man drowning in a cell, he jumps to save him. His act of bravery might have won him a promotion to lieutenant but it's also left him with a bad back injury.
As his back becomes more of a problem McDonagh develops a serious drug problem, turning to any dark alley to find relief. Bribery and stealing drugs put into evidence become part of the norm for him, the most stability in his life comes from a relationship he has with a prostitute called Frankie but when he finds her beaten by a client, he takes matters into his own hands. Working in a drug induced state becomes more of an issue for McDonagh. Whilst trying to solve the murders of six Senegal immigrants it appears his personal life and current case will cross paths.
Directed by: Werner Herzog
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Xzibit, Brad Dourif, Fairuza Balk, Shawn Hatosy, Jennifer Coolidge, Tom Bower, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Denzel Whitaker, Michael Shannon
Bad Blake (Bridges) is a successful 57-year-old musician whose career and personal life have been derailed by alcoholism. Playing to bowling alleys and bars across New Mexico, he's interviewed by a journalist Jean (Gyllenhaal) and is surprised when a spark of attraction develops between them. His next stop is Phoenix, where he plays a gig with former band member Tommy Sweet (Farrell), who's now a mega-star but hasn't forgotten the debt he owes to Bad. The question is whether Bad can get himself together long enough to make either relationship work.
Continue reading: Crazy Heart Review