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John Wick Review


Extraordinary

There have been so many awful revenge thrillers lately that we've almost forgotten that it's possible to make a good one, and this is a rare example of striking the right balance of exhilarating action and dark emotion. Yes, there's a high body count, but this isn't a mow-them-down romp: there's a real sense of pain at all of the senseless bloodshed caused by one idiot's inability to conceive that his actions might have repercussions.

The film also gives Keanu Reeves yet another chance to cleverly reinvent himself on-screen as John Wick, a still-feared former mob hitman who left his job to have a happy life with his wife (Bridget Moynahan). But her untimely illness and death have left him a broken man. His only glimmer of hope is her deathbed gift of an adorable puppy to keep him company. Then even this is taken from him, when cocky Russian thug Iosef (Alfie Allen) steals his vintage Mustang and kills the puppy. In need of closure, John resurrects his past, which is a problem because his ex-boss Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) is Iosef's dad, and he knows that John is unstoppable. So Viggo reluctantly offers a massive bounty on John's head, taken up by John's former fellow assassin pals (Willem Dafoe and Adrianne Palicki). But it's doubtful that anyone can stop the legendary John Wick from bringing down the entire Russian mafia.

Intriguingly, everyone in the film knows this legend except the dim-witted moron Iosef, who blithely keeps on carousing while everyone around him prepares for Armageddon. Writer Derek Kolstad and director Chad Stahelski set the story in a fantastical criminal underworld that uses solid gold coins as currency in shimmering underground nightclubs, lavish spas and a mob hotel in which "business" is strictly prohibited. All of this is fiendishly inventive, with a striking visual atmosphere and an even stronger moody tone. At the centre, Reeves gives John a jagged sense of humour as he braces himself wearily for the inevitable carnage, all while trying to control his much deeper emotional pain.

Continue reading: John Wick Review

'John Wick' Makes $5.45 Million On Opening Night But Critics Aren't Too Sure About Its 'B-Movie' Styling


Keanu Reeves Michael Nyqvist Alfie Allen Willem Dafoe Dean Winters Adrianne Palicki Ian McShane

John Wick was released in US cinemas on Friday (24th October) and has already been hailed as a financial success, making $5.45 million on its opening night. So if you fancy seeing Keanu Reeves back where he belongs - in full action mode - here's what John Wick is all about and what the critics have to say. 

Watch the Movie Trailer for John Wick

Keanu Reeves stars as John Wick, a retired New York hit man who returns to his old ways when a gang of thugs destroy the last reminder Wick has of his late wife. Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) star alongside Reeves as the film's protagonists. They are joined by the likes of Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man), Dean Winters (P.S. I Love You), Adrianne Palicki (Red Dawn) and Ian McShane (Deadwood). 

The film has been well received by critics who have largely commented on its violent nature. It has been described as the archetypal action film which offers impressive fight scenes and a relatively simplistic storyline. As Vulture's critic wrote John Wick is 'a beautiful coffee-table action movie.' However, others have also criticised the violent element of the film, with one critic remarking John Wick 'is a film where every human being is a sack of meat waiting to be tenderized' (Globe and Mail). 

Continue reading: 'John Wick' Makes $5.45 Million On Opening Night But Critics Aren't Too Sure About Its 'B-Movie' Styling

New York special screening of 'John Wick'

Willem Dafoe - Celebs took to the red carpet for the special screening of 'John Wick' in New York City, New York, United States - Monday 13th October 2014

Willem Dafoe
Giada Colagrande and Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe and Giada Colagrande
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe

A Most Wanted Man Review


Excellent

Photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn continues to show striking maturity with only his third movie (after Control and The American). Based on the John Le Carre novel, this thriller avoids cliches to become a brilliantly tense spy drama. It also offers Philip Seymour Hoffman another terrific posthumous performance, one of his best ever, as a quietly tenacious man who refuses to get caught up in the hype.

Set in Hamburg, the story centres on Gunther (Hoffman), the exhausted leader of a top-secret anti-terrorist unit who has gathered around him a loyal team (including Nina Hoss, Daniel Bruhl and Vicky Krieps). When they spot an unknown Chechen in town, they identify him as Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) but aren't sure what he's up to. Gunther thinks that following him is the best course of action, as he may lead them to much bigger fish. And they're further intrigued when he contacts a lawyer (Rachel McAdams) and a powerful banker (Willem Dafoe). But the local police and German security forces want to arrest Issa and interrogate him, even though this will stop Gunther from taking down a potentially much bigger operation, and even though it looks like Issa isn't a terrorist at all. Only a US embassy attache (Robin Wright) shares Gunther's long-game approach, but can they delay the gung-ho cops?

While the central plot slowly cranks up some powerful suspense, it's the dramatic and thematic elements of the film that truly get under the skin, mainly thanks to Hoffman's world-weary performance as a man whose eyes miss nothing. And he's beginning to wish he could just close them and pretend all of this doesn't exist. Every conversation he has sparks with jagged insinuation, driving the entire film deeper as an exploration of the dangers of self-proclaimed "good guys" with too much military power, especially when they're paranoid. This is augmented by several personal layers of plot-threads, including Issa's own compelling mystery, beautifully played by a gifted cast that's great at saying one thing and meaning another.

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Jane Fonda And Willem Dafoe Amongst The New Faces (Voices) For Simpsons Season 26


Jane Fonda Willem Dafoe The Simpsons Matt Groening

As The Simpsons enters a remarkable 26th season, Jane Fonda and Willem Dafoe are set to lend their voices to two characters in storylines pivotal to the main characters in the show.

The Simpsons

Fonda will play grumpy millionaire, Mr. Burn's, girlfriend, while Dafoe will have the daunting task of being Bart's new teacher, Mr Lassen, although he has a few surprises in store for Bart that are sure to make his school life even more of a living hell. We know we’d rather be in charge of terrorising Bart than fraternising with ol' Burnsy. 

Continue reading: Jane Fonda And Willem Dafoe Amongst The New Faces (Voices) For Simpsons Season 26

The Fault in Our Stars Review


Weak

Based on the beloved novel by John Green, this film is so squarely slanted toward teen girls that it is likely to annoy everyone else. Written and directed in a way that never allows even a hint of ambiguity, each scene and line of dialogue is on-the-nose, pushing the audience to a specific emotional response. This of course leaves everything feeling manipulative and false. Even so, the movie is rescued by another wonderfully layered performance from Shailene Woodley.

She plays the 17-year-old Hazel, who has been dealing with aggressive cancer for three years and has only just been stabilised by a breakthrough treatment. As she still needs to carry oxygen to breathe properly, her parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) are understandably protective, but she's happy to get out on her own whenever possible. Then in a support group she meets 18-year-old cancer survivor Gus (Ansel Elgort), who is immediately smitten with her and flirts so aggressively that she finally agrees to be his friend, but nothing more. As she hangs out with Gus and his pal Isaac (Nat Wolff), another cancer patient, she begins to open up to her innermost dreams. So she goes along with a make-a-wish plan to travel to Amsterdam with Gus and her mother to meet the author (Willem Dafoe) of her favourite novel. And the trip changes her life in several unexpected ways.

Sensitive audience members will be sobbing from the beginning to the end of this film, simply because director Josh Boone tells them to. More cynical viewers will find it impossible to believe anything on-screen. This isn't because the plot is bad (it's actually quite thoughtful and provocative) or the actors get their performances wrong. It's because Boone and the screenwriters can't resist punching every note as loudly as they can. It's been so tidily shaped into a cinematic structure that everything feels fake, which makes it impossible for the actors to create characters who could exist anywhere besides in a movie.

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Premiere Of 'The Fault in Our Stars'

Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Nat Wolff, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell and Mike Birbiglia - Premiere of 'The Fault in Our Stars' at the Ziegfeld Theater - New York City, New York, United States - Monday 2nd June 2014

Ansel Elgort
Ansel Elgort

Premiere Of 'The Fault in Our Stars'

Willem Dafoe - Premiere of 'The Fault in Our Stars' at the Ziegfeld Theater - New York City, New York, United States - Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe

Cannes 2014: Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal Will Judge


Sofia Coppola Gael Garcia Bernal Willem Dafoe

The final panel for Cannes 2014 has been decided upon, with Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal amongst others joining Jane Campion who is serving as jury president. Denmark’s, Nicolas Winding Refn, France’s Carole Bouquet, Iran’s Leila Hatami, China’s Jia Zhangke, and South Korea’s Jeon Do-yeon comprise the rest of the 9 person-strong jury.

Sofia CoppolaSofia Coppola is one of an eclectic bunch set to judge at this year's Cannes

“Cannes has always sought to adopt a universal and international approach, and in tune with this tradition, Campion will be surrounded by eight luminaries of world cinema, from China, Korea, Denmark, Iran, the United States, France and Mexico,” the Festival said in a statement.

Continue reading: Cannes 2014: Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal Will Judge

Introducing, Philip Seymour Hoffman's Last Movie: 'A Most Wanted Man' [Trailer]


Philip Seymour Hoffman Willem Dafoe

The screen adaptation of John Le Carre’s book, ‘A Most Wanted Man’ has been made all the more pertinent by the death of its leading star and much-loved actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died in early February following a drug overdose. Watch the newly released trailer for the film below. 

A Most Wanted Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman

'A Most Wanted Man' focuses on a rogue German counter-terrorism expert Gunter Bachmann, played by Seymour Hoffman. The half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) – who is thought to be part of a militant jihadist group in post-9/11 Hamburg - is his prime target.

Continue reading: Introducing, Philip Seymour Hoffman's Last Movie: 'A Most Wanted Man' [Trailer]

A Week In Movies: Oscars Are A Hit, Stars Turn Out For Grand Budapest, Trailers Arrive For Transformers 4 And Paddington, Julianne Moore Works The Streets


Ellen Degeneres Matthew Mcconaughey Cate Blanchett Jared Leto Ralph Fiennes Saoirse Ronan Willem Dafoe Tony Revolori Mark Wahlberg Kanye West Snoop Dogg Colin Firth

The Oscars 2014

The Academy Awards drew its biggest TV audience in more than a decade on Sunday night, as the Oscars were shared by a variety of hit films and performances. Ellen Degeneres hosted the ceremony, giving the night a populist touch by serving pizza to the A-listers and taking a star-packed selfie that managed to crash Twitter.

As for the winners, 12 Years a Slave won three top prizes - for best film, screenplay and supporting actress - while the blockbuster Gravity took home seven awards. There were also popular wins for Matthew Mcconaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto and the animated film Frozen. If you need to catch up on any of the above click to find more info on 12 Years a Slave taking Best Picture, Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett's triumph, Pizza anoyone? and Ellen deciding to get a couple of stars together for an impromptu selfie.

Continue reading: A Week In Movies: Oscars Are A Hit, Stars Turn Out For Grand Budapest, Trailers Arrive For Transformers 4 And Paddington, Julianne Moore Works The Streets

'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Is An Instant Hit With Critics, In Praise Of Wes Anderson's Delightful New Movie [Trailer + Pictures]


Wes Anderson Saoirse Ronan Willem Dafoe Tilda Swinton Edward Norton Adrien Brody Bill Murray

The Grand Budapest Hotel is preparing to throw its doors open to the world, having premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. Director Wes Anderson has built his career upon his idiosyncratically quirky, colourful and surrealist movies and the eagerly-anticipated Budapest looks to be no different.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Owen WilsonThe Grand Budapest Hotel Raplh Fiennes
Critics Have Heaped Praise On To 'The Grand Budapest Hotel.'

Early reviews have bathed the movie in a warm glow of praise, loving the kitsch details, kooky plotline, and star-packed cast, which includes (deep breath), Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Harvey Keitel.

Continue reading: 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Is An Instant Hit With Critics, In Praise Of Wes Anderson's Delightful New Movie [Trailer + Pictures]

Odd Thomas Review


Excellent

After Van Helsing, the first G.I. Joe and the Mummy movies, filmmaker Stephen Sommers just about keeps his excessive action instincts in check for this offbeat supernatural comedy. There are still aspects of a thriller here, but the characters have a surprising depth that adds to the humour and drama, providing both strong laughs and moving emotional moments.

Yelchin plays the title character, who isn't sure if his given name is just missing a first T or whether it was prophetic. As Odd grows up, he discovers that he can see dead people who need help solving their murders. The police chief (Dafoe) in his small desert town believes him because he gets every case right. And now Odd's girlfriend Stormy (Timlin) helps him piece together clues when it becomes apparent that something hugely horrific is about to happen. Odd also turns to his psychic friend Viola (Mbatha-Raw) as he grows increasingly worried about the rising presence of deathly creatures that swarm around people who are about to die.

Sommers sets this up with a wry wink, letting Yelchin play Odd as a nerdy nice guy who can't quite believe he has such a hot girlfriend. We like him instantly, so are happy to go along with the fantastical story. And the witty dialogue keeps us chuckling with its snappy commentary and absurd sideroads. Yelchin gives Odd a terrific sense of physical energy, which helps him develop sharp chemistry with everyone else on-screen. With his visions of something momentous on the horizon, the film feels like a comical variation on Donnie Darko

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