An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs out of steam. Which is far too early. Despite the always-engaging presence of Ryan Reynolds, this fantastical thriller is slick enough to hold the attention, but fails because it's unable to generate any interest in the central characters. And instead of exploring the fascinating issues the story raises, the filmmakers instead fall back on irrelevant violence.
The story opens as billionaire Manhattan businessman Damien (Ben Kingsley) discovers he has six months to live. But he has heard about a new medical procedure called "shedding", in which his mind is implanted in a lab-grown body. At $250 million, it seems like a bargain, so he signs up with Dr Allbright (Matthew Goode) and prepares to abandon his old life for a new one. He wakes up in New Orleans as Edward (Reynolds), and begins to adjust to his fit new 35-year-old body. But after he misses his adjustment meds one day he has a series of bewildering flashbacks that make him wonder about the true nature of the shedding process. Maybe his new body wasn't so "new" after all. So he goes looking for answers, which involves teaming up with Madeline (Natalie Martinez) and seeking help from his business partner Martin (Victor Garber).
There are all kinds of intriguing themes swirling through this set-up, including issues of identity and mortality. But writers David and Alex Pastor seem uninterested in exploring any of this in lieu of a much more simplistic morality tale packed with continual shoot-out and chase scenes, plus far too much body-swapping. All of this is produced to a very high standard by director Tarsem Singh, who has a reputation for seriously stylish cinema (see The Fall or The Cell). He adds a strong edge to every scene, with intriguingly haunting editing choices and camerawork that add plenty of tension and uncertainty even if the plot itself is utterly predictable.
Continue reading: Self/Less Review
David Hyde Pierce, Victor Garber, Linda Lagorga and Jonathan Groff - Alzheimer's Association New York City Chapter hosts the Annual 'Forget-Me-Not' Gala, An Evening to End Alzheimer's - Arrivals at The Pierre - New York City, New York, United States - Monday 8th June 2015
Victor Garber - A variety of celebrities were photographed as they arrived at the CW Network's 2015 Upfront event which was held at the London Hotel in New York City, United States - Thursday 14th May 2015
A missed opportunity, this European action romp begins with a terrific premise but never quite makes anything of it. Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander certainly knows how to make a sharp, snappy action-comedy (see Rare Exports), but this script is badly compromised by simplistic plotting and gags that go for the easiest target every time. Which leaves the actors looking like they're standing around waiting for something interesting to happen. And it leaves the audience feeling badly let-down.
It opens as 13-year-old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is sent into the mountainous Finnish wilderness to prove his manhood by hunting down a stag all by himself. His father (Jorma Tommila) isn't hugely confident, but wishes him well. Meanwhile, preening terrorist Hazar (Mehmet Kirtulus) has just shot down Air Force One as it flew overhead. As the plane goes down, the US President (Samuel L. Jackson) boards his escape pod, and the first person he meets on the ground is a gob-smacked Oskari. Together, they set out to get to safety while escaping the tenacious thugs who are after the President. And officials at the Pentagon (including Jim Broadbent, Victor Garber and Felicity Huffman) are watching everything unfold by satellite, while the President's security chief (Ray Stevenson) leads the ground party.
The set-up is great, and offers plenty of scope for both over-the-top action sequences and Home Alone-style mayhem, but Helander never quite settles on a tone, perhaps because the 13-year-old hero demands a PG-13 sensibility that undermines any chance of proper black comedy. Yes, there's plenty of violent destruction, but it's cartoonish rather than clever, so the film feels silly rather than exhilarating. Jackson is clearly having a lot of fun as the annoyed President, adding some gravitas to his usual action-hero persona while delivering his requisite snarky one-liners. But Helander never quite finds anything new for him to do. And young Tommila looks far too serious all the way along.
Continue reading: Big Game Review
Jodie Foster isn’t the only Hollywood star whose privacy regarding their sexuality has been stripped back a little, recently. Though Jodie Foster chose to speak publicly about being gay, at the Golden Globes awards, Victor Garber’s ‘coming-out’ was sprung on him, somewhat, at the TCA winter press tour, when blogger Greg Hernandez asked about a Wikipedia entry, which mentions his partner Rainer Andreesen.
Much like Jodie Foster, Garber has never kept his sexuality under wraps, as such, but has not made any grand public declaration about being gay. He did confirm, however, that he intended to attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards later this month, with his partner Rainer. “He’s going to be out here with me for the SAG Awards,” said Victor, before adding “My companion Rainer Andreesen and I have been together almost 13 years in Greenwich Village. We both love New York.” Steering away from the subject.
Back on the subject of acting, Garber revealed that his forthcoming TV series Deception (on NBC) was the first in a while that has excited him enough to get involved. “I'm a lucky actor,” he said. “I work. But this is the first series that's come along since Eli Stone, three years ago, that I really wanted to do... For an actor, it's like getting a dessert - like getting what you hope for and rarely get.”
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
Why anyone would bury a dead carcass in their front lawn is beyond me, but even more absurd is the dark nature of Tuck Everlasting, a bleak story of life and death (based on a "classic" children's novel I've never heard of). Most people wouldn't associate death with Walt Disney Pictures, but its latest flick deals with that issue and worse, revealing subplots of murder, deceit, execution, and the final moments of a human's life. It's hard to believe the creators of Mickey Mouse could construct such a story.
Continue reading: Tuck Everlasting Review
Shallow SoCal sorority bimbo Elle Woods is supposed to be, like, totally smarter than she looks in "Legally Blonde," a paint-by-numbers big screen sitcom about a ditzy coed who follows her snooty, upper-crust ex to Harvard Law to prove herself worthy and win him back.
But while Elle is played with irresistibly bouncy ebullience by the wonderfully daft Reese Witherspoon ("Election," "Freeway"), the movie never provides any evidence of her supposed smarts. She just gets lucky a lot, like when her knowledge of hair care helps save an innocent murder defendant in a big case she has no business handling as an intern at a big law firm.
Such simplistic, ain't-it-wacky solutions to life's dilemmas are the driving force of this pastel colored picture that is funny from time to time, but is also weighed down with trite "have faith in yourself" messages, as if it's some kind of after school special.
Continue reading: Legally Blonde Review
Disney has always been hit-or-miss when bringing beloved kids' books to the screen, and the studio's latest -- an adaptation of Natalie Babbit's "Tuck Everlasting" -- is a little of both.
It's an early 20th Century story of a curious, affluent teenage girl, stifled by her stiff-upper-lip period parents, who gets lost while seeking an afternoon of freedom in the deep woods behind her estate and meets an enticing young man with a mystical secret -- drinking from a nearby spring has made him and his whole family immortal.
Afraid of being discovered by the outside world that would covet what they've come to consider a curse, the Tuck clan feels they cannot let the young lady go home, even as the area is scoured by search parties. But before long Winnie (Alexis Bledel) isn't exactly aching to leave, having come to know both freedom and romance with the handsome, worldly Jesse (Jonathan Jackson).
Continue reading: Tuck Everlasting Review