William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman - 'Stealing Cars' world premiere during the Los Angeles Film Festival at L.A. Live - Arrivals at Los Angeles Film Festival - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 13th June 2015
The shift from bright comedy to rather grim drama is gradual enough to carry the audience along, but it's rather startling to end up somewhere so serious after such a cheeky start. Director Anna Mastro and writer Paul Shoulberg set this up as a breezy coming-of-age movie before adding a supernatural twist and quietly moving the goal posts. Fortunately, the strong cast and assured filmmaking carry the audience along. So even if it ultimately begins to feel melodramatic, it's also surprisingly moving and meaningful.
Convinced that he has been called by God to decide who goes to heaven and hell, 18-year-old Walter (Andrew J. West) is a perfectionist who maintains order in his life both at home with his over-concerned mother Karen (Virginia Madsen) and at his job taking tickets in the local multiplex. At work, he has his eye on the smart-sexy Kendall (Levin Rambin), but is too shy to speak to her and is teased mercilessly about this by bullying colleague Vince (Milo Ventimiglia). Then a ghost named Greg (Justin Kirk) starts taunting him as well, and Walter finally agrees to see a shrink (William H. Macy) in the hopes of restoring order to his life.
Of course, the point is that Walter doesn't need order: he needs to face up to the truth about the death of his father (Peter Facinelli in flashbacks). But the more he acknowledges, the more his life seems to unravel around him. This is played beautifully by West, a likeable actor who manages to get even more engaging as Walter falls apart. His interaction with the rest of the cast is pointed and witty, packed with knowing commentary and some sharply funny observations. And all of the actors around him bring layers of emotion and energy to the film.
Continue reading: Walter Review
Jennifer Aniston delivers an Oscar-calibre performance in this rather over-worked drama, which tries to emphasise heavy-handed metaphors more than the characters themselves. But it's an involving personal odyssey thanks to Aniston's honest acting, and Daniel Barnz's sensitive direction manages to dodge most of the script's more glaring pitfalls.
Aniston plays Claire, a woman who has been in continual pain, both emotional and physical, following the car accident that claimed the life of her young son. Revelling in her bitter sarcasm, she has alienated her husband (Chris Messina), driven her physiotherapist (Mamie Gummer) to despair and so enraged her therapy leader (Felicity Huffman) that she's been thrown out of the group. The only person who patiently sticks by her side is her maid/assistant Silvana (Adriana Barazza), and she's beginning to waver. Then Nina (Anna Kendrick), a therapy-group member, commits suicide, making Claire question why she's still bothering to be alive. There has to be a spark of hope there, and she decides to stalk Nina's single-dad widower Roy (Sam Worthington) for answers.
While the premise seems to set up the usual story about two damaged souls healing each other, the story thankfully doesn't go down that tired route. Instead, Patrick Tobin's script keeps the interaction prickly and unexpected, even as it layers in so much symbolism that it becomes rather exhausting. Claire's physical scarring is clearly indicative of something deeper, as is her array of cruel defence mechanisms. Thankfully, Aniston plays these scenes with a mixture of black comedy and aching sadness that makes the character thoroughly involving and only slightly likeable. Her interaction with Barraza is the heart of the film, beautifully played because their connection remains mainly unspoken. By contrast, Worthington feels almost superfluous; he sharply matches Aniston's cynicism, but is too nice to register very strongly.
Continue reading: Cake Review
William H. Macy - 21st Annual SAG Awards - Press Room at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center, SAG Awards - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 22nd January 2015
William H. Macy - 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium - Press Room at Shrine Auditorium, Screen Actors Guild - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 25th January 2015
William H. Macy - A variety of stars were photographed in the press room at the 21st Annual SAG Awards which were held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 22nd January 2015
Claire Bennett is struggling to get through day-to-day life despite her buffet of pills, one-on-one medical support and the Women's Chronic Pain Support Group she regularly attends. She is forced to cope with the heart-breaking break-up of her relationship but becomes deeply obsessed with the suicide of Nina Collins, another woman from the support group. In a bid to learn more about her death and, indeed, her life, she persuades the group leader to pass on Nina's address. It's then she meets her widower Roy with whom she strikes up a significant relationship, with both of them dealing with the loss of a loved one and their own brand of chronic pain. Meanwhile, Claire frequently experiences hallucinations of Nina, who slowly draws her towards normality and, perhaps, a happier life.
Continue: Cake Trailer
For what he has said will be his final film, animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki tackles a controversial biopic that could just as easily have been shot in live action. It's as if he's challenging filmmakers to use their imaginations and make the best movies they can make in whatever way they can. And the result is utterly magical, transcending the touchy subject matter to tell a story about the purity of creativity.
Based on the life of aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi, this Oscar-nominated film opens in the 1920s when young Jiro (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the English version) decides to study aeronautics because his poor eyesight won't let him become a pilot. So he dreams of designing the perfect plane, and his inventive approach catches the attention of Mitsubishi, which assigns him to a secret military project working with Japan's allies in Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, Jiro meets Nahoko (Emily Blunt) and they fall for each other as she struggles to recover from tuberculosis and he grapples with the moral issues of designing a beautiful plane that will be used to kill people in wartime.
Clearly this isn't the kind of animated movie Hollywood would ever produce: it's packed with complex characters who don't always do the right thing, and it takes a perspective that requires sympathy with someone who could be considered a historical villain. But Miyazaki tells the story exquisitely, animating the scenes with such inventiveness that it's impossible not to get lost in the breathtaking imagery. Scenes are also packed with lively side characters, including Jiro's bulldog-like boss (Martin Short), a more grounded colleague (John Krazinski) and a suspicious foreigner (Werner Herzog) who seems to be following Jiro.
Continue reading: The Wind Rises Review
Jiro Horikoshi is an aeronautical engineer whose childhood was filled with dreams about becoming a pilot. His poor vision meant that he would never realise his ambition, but he is encouraged to keep up his passion by Italian plane designer Caproni. Resolving to design aircrafts instead of fly them, Jiro studies the art at university, during which time he meets an attractive young woman named Naoko. Their relationship was born out of the dangerous circumstances of the Great Kanto Earthquake, throughout which they helped one another off a fast moving train. As their life together progresses, Naoko falls ill and Jiro struggles to bring in a regular income. He must succeed in the challenge of building the most exquisitely beautiful aeroplane in the world in order to get back on his feet, as his career could be the only thing he has left.
'The Wind Rises' is romantic, heart-wrenching animated adventure directed and written by the Oscar winning Hayao Miyazaki ('Spirited Away', 'Princess Mononoke', 'Howl's Moving Castle'). This Japanese drama, loosely based on Tatsuo Hori's 1936 short story 'The Wind Has Risen', features the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci in the English version. It is due for release in the UK on May 9th 2014.
The poignant and beautiful new Studio Ghibli movie will soon be released in the UK.
The Wind Rises may not have been the flashiest or most talked-about movie at last night's Academy Awards but could prove to be one of the most arresting animated movies of all time upon its widespread UK release in May. The new Studio Ghibli picture was completely overshadowed by Disney's Frozen at the Oscars, with the winter musical's months of box office success and performance from Idina Menzel at the ceremony proving too difficult to ignore.
'The Wind Rises' Follows The Story Of Jiro Horikoshi, A Designer Of Fighter Planes.
Animated in the distinctive, delicate and detailed anime style, the Japanese film deals with challenging historical events and presents them in a creative yet respectful way. The Wind Rises is a look at the life of real-life Japanese engineer, Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. The story follows the genius Jiro from his childhood to becoming an adult amidst the savagery of war.
When Jiro Horikoshi was a young boy, all he ever dreamed about was flying planes - at least he did until one night he came across Italian plane designer Caproni in one of his dreams, who subsequently told him that his poor vision means he'll never be a pilot. Jiro instead resolves to take up aeronautical engineering and design aircrafts himself . While at university, he meets a young woman named Naoko who he helps off a train during the Great Kanto Earthquake and the pair become close. His life begins to spiral, however, with his work projects becoming few and far between and Naoko's health deteriorating. But will Jiro finally realise his dream and build an aircraft of pure beauty? Or will his dream come crashing to the ground?
Continue: The Wind Rises Trailer
Several films due to be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival are generating a hefty amount of conversation
The Sundance Film Festival is the place to be for young, aspiring filmmakers hoping to crack into the hotly-contested business of the movies. By the end of the film festival, which this year runs from 16-26 January, there are always a selection of film titles that are revived for the following awards season, and this year people are so eager for the celluloid showcase that a number of early contenders for festival glory have been marked before their debut release.
The dark God's Pocket stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Eddie Marsan
In thirty years the film has discovered some of the most promising filmmakers out there and continues to deliver, from Roland Joffé’s The Killing Fields in the festival's opening year (1985) to last year's most notable success; Fruitvale Station, the debut feature length from Ryan Coogler. With another 120 films to get through this year it seems more than likely that at least one of the releases will be leaving Park City, Utah, with more than a few skiing lessons and a commemorative t-shirt.
The multi-award-winning filmmakers will turn their Oscar-winning black comedy into a TV series, with Billy Bob Thornton taking on the starring role
Joel and Ethan Coen will be reviving their much-acclaimed 1996 dark crime caper Fargo for a television audience, Reuters reported, with plans for a Fargo TV series being announced earlier this week. On Friday (2 August), a spokesperson for Fox's FX channel revealed that the filmmaking siblings are working on a TV-version of the Oscar-winning film, due to air on the channel in Spring 2014.
The Coen Brothers are taking their first steps into television
The spokesperson also added that the 10-episode mini-series already has a major acting talent lined-up to star in the film-adaption, with Billy Bob Thornton unveiled as one of the stars of the series. The 57-year-old will play one of several new characters due to be introduced in the new series, taking on the part of criminal Lorne Malvo, who was described as "a rootless, manipulative man who meets a small town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction" in the FX statement. No further cast and character details were announced, however it was revealed that the Coens will be serving as executive producers for the mini-series.
Continue reading: The Coen Brothers Lining Up 'Fargo' TV Series For FX
Helen Hunt and John Hawkes star in this delicately-handled story of Mark O’Brien (Hawkes) in an iron lung, who – at the age of 38 - decides that he wishes to lose his virginity. Help comes in the form of a sex surrogate (played by Hunt), who starts a series of eight sessions, designed to lead to sex and to Mark losing his virginity. The Sessions is based on a true story and as such, the narrative takes turns that you would not necessarily expect from a scripted drama. The movie is all the richer for it and is all the richer for the stellar performances put in by Hunt, Hawkes and co-star William H Macy.
Many have wondered why The Sessions didn’t feature more in this year’s Oscars list. As it is, Helen Hunt has been nominated for the Actress in a Supporting Role award – a testament to the quality of the acting, for a movie with such unusual subject matter. Our reviewer was impressed by the handling of The Sessions, by breakthrough director Ben Lewin: “Lewin refuses to shy away from any aspect of this story, confronting everything in honest, sometimes uncomfortable ways that are never remotely sentimentalized. It would be easy to drift into syrupy schmaltz with this kind of material, but the script maintains a bracingly sharp wit, and the actors cleverly underplay every scene.” The remarkable thing it seems, is that viewers can identify with all of the characters onscreen, despite the unusual situation in which they are found.
The Sessions is released in UK cinemas today (January 18, 2012).