Greg Shapiro

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Child 44 Review


Good

A meaty, fascinating story is splintered into three plot strands that battle for the viewer's attention, so while the film is never boring, it's also oddly uninvolving. Fortunately, it has an excellent cast and is shot with skill and a relentless intensity to feel like a big, epic-style dramatic thriller with heavy political overtones.

After a scene-setting prologue, the story starts in 1953 Moscow, where Leo (Tom Hardy) is a war hero now working in the military police, purging the city of its spies. Or at least its suspected spies. In the Soviet socialist utopia, crime officially doesn't exist, but Leo finds it difficult to tell his best pal Alexei (Fares Fares) that his 8-year-old son was killed in a train accident when he was so clearly tortured and murdered. Ordered by his boss (Vincent Cassel) to let it go, and menaced by his rival colleague Vasili (Joel Kinnaman), Leo continues investigating, resulting in a reprimand that sees Leo and his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) relocated to the the grim industrial city of Volsk. But when another young boy's body appears here, Leo gets his new boss (Gary Oldman) to see the connection.

There are at least three main plots in this film, and the filmmakers oddly never allow one to become the central strand. There's the mystery involving this brutal, unhinged serial killer (Paddy Considine) stalking boys along the railway. There's the thriller about Leo being brutally taunted by Vasili, who has a thing for Raisa and is trying to crush them for good. But the only emotionally engaging strand is Leo and Raisa's complex marriage relationship, which takes a couple of unexpected turns. Along the way, there are several action sequences shot with shaky cameras and edited so they're impossible to follow. And there's a sense that the film also wants to be a grandiose Russian epic with its expansive cinematography and big orchestral score.

Continue reading: Child 44 Review

Tom Hardy Debuts Yet Another Fine Accent In Ridley Scott Thriller 'Child 44' [Trailer]


Tom Hardy Ridley Scott Noomi Rapace Gary Oldman Joel Kinnaman Charles Dance Greg Shapiro Richard Price

Tom Hardy has a go at yet another accent in the Ridley Scott produced 'Child 44', an adaptation of Tom Rob Smith's award-winning 2008 novel about a series of brutal murders during the time of the Soviet Union.

Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy in 'Child 44'
Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy go head to head in 'Child 44'

Hardy plays a former Russian military officer named Leo Demidov in the thriller, who's offered the highest protection in the wake of his war heroism. But things take a dark turn when it becomes apparent that a set of ongoing child killings are being covered up by the authorities, and Demidov wants to do the right thing and find the perpetrator - to much anger from his Stalin obsessed superiors. 

Continue reading: Tom Hardy Debuts Yet Another Fine Accent In Ridley Scott Thriller 'Child 44' [Trailer]

Detachment Review


Good
An almost overpowering sense of hopelessness makes this education-system drama difficult to watch. Fortunately, it's directed and acted with enough sensitivity to stir our sympathies. Although we're not sure we want to go wherever this bleak story might be heading.

Henry (Brody) takes a month-long assignment teaching at a tough school run by beleaguered principal Carol (Harden). Unflappable in the face of the unruly students, he calmly tries to get through to the teens. He clicks with fellow teacher Sarah (Hendricks). As a substitute, Henry's job is to maintain order, which seems like an impossible challenge. So he instead reaches out to a teen hooker (Gayle), thinking he might actually be able to make a difference in her life. But he can't help but wonder if he's doing more harm than good.

Continue reading: Detachment Review

A Very Harold & Kumar 3d Christmas Review


Very Good
A warm, squishy centre makes this smutty comedy surprisingly endearing as it bounces from one random set piece to another, by way of a series of outrageous cameos. The sex, drugs and violence get a bit tiring, but the amusing writing and acting keep us laughing.

While stoner Kumar (Penn) is failing to cope with the chaos of his life, now-respectable banker Harold (Cho) is dreading Christmas with his wife's (Garces) extended family, including his terrifying father-in-law Perez (Trejo).

When Kumar drops off a mis-delivered package at Harold's house, their first meeting in six years causes instant chaos. Now they have to team up to replace Perez's prized Christmas tree. This involves scary encounters with a Scarface-style mobster (Koteas), mean-acting tree sellers (RZA and Da'Vone McDonald) and the real Santa (Richard Riehle).

Continue reading: A Very Harold & Kumar 3d Christmas Review

The Conspirator Review


Good
Robert Redford revisits the Lincoln assassination with this earnest historical drama. Being a relatively obscure chapter of American history, the story is pretty fascinating, although the film is so parched that it rarely comes alive.

After the President is murdered in 1865, inexperienced lawyer Frederick (McAvoy) is assigned to defend Mary Surratt (Wright), who is charged with conspiracy alongside eight others. As a war hero from the North, Frederick is horrified to get this job, but is convinced by his boss (Wilkinson) that she at least deserves a fair trial. Of course, in the hysteria following the war and assassination, that's not likely. The judge (Meaney) clearly takes sides, the prosecutor (Huston) is relentlessly arrogant and the war secretary (Kline) has already decided on a verdict and sentence.

Continue reading: The Conspirator Review

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Greg Shapiro Movies

Child 44 Movie Review

Child 44 Movie Review

A meaty, fascinating story is splintered into three plot strands that battle for the viewer's...

Detachment Movie Review

Detachment Movie Review

An almost overpowering sense of hopelessness makes this education-system drama difficult to watch. Fortunately, it's...

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A Very Harold & Kumar 3d Christmas Movie Review

A Very Harold & Kumar 3d Christmas Movie Review

A warm, squishy centre makes this smutty comedy surprisingly endearing as it bounces from one...

The Conspirator Movie Review

The Conspirator Movie Review

Robert Redford revisits the Lincoln assassination with this earnest historical drama. Being a relatively obscure...

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