One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events from the news headlines to tell a raw, deeply involving story that's unnervingly personal. Irish director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Emma Donoghue bring these events to life with uncanny skill, using a young child's perspective to give it an extra-strong kick. And Brie Larson's central performance is so powerful that she's become the one to beat on Oscar night.
She plays Joy, a young woman who was abducted at 17 by a man she only knows as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). The story opens as her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) celebrates his fifth birthday in the single room where he was born and has spent his entire life. There isn't even a window to look out of so, to help him cope, Joy explains that there is no life outside the room, and everything they see on television is fake. She also gets Jack to hide whenever Nick visits, so they can't develop any kind of relationship. But as he grows up, Jack's curiosity demands more answers, and Joy finally decides to tell him the truth in the hope that he can help them escape.
Its halfway into the film when Jack's world is suddenly opened up around him in a rescue sequence that's exhilarating, terrifying and literally breathtaking. And from here, the film gets even more punchy, as Joy and Jack struggle to adapt to life in what seems like an alien landscape. Joy's parents (the great Joan Allen and William H. Macy) have split up, and her mother has a new partner (Tom McCamus), and their reunion is watched closely by the media, police and psychologists. All of this is seen through Jack's curious, observant eyes. Everyone is worried about him, but he perceptively notices that his mother is having even more trouble coping than he is.
Continue reading: Room Review
A young woman and her 5-year-old son Jack live together in a confined, sound-proofed room in the outhouse of Old Nick's backyard. There is nothing but a bed, a bathtub and a few household items inside, with Old Nick making occasional visits when Jack hides away in a wardrobe. The woman was kidnapped seven years ago by Nick, and subsequently raped by him, meaning that Jack knows nothing of life outside the room. He's content with life with his mother, but she has never given up hopes to escape their prison. She hatches a plan for Jack to escape and seek help and the pair are eventually re-united with her mother and father, and given temporary accommodation in hospital. But Jack is barely able to comprehend all the new experiences and longs for the comfort of his dark former home.
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Slick and haunting, this film delves into the things that hold a marriage together in a way only Stephen King would even begin to attempt. It's an involving, clever idea, never quite as deep as it seems to be, but elevated by sharply honest performances by the terrific Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia, with an additional bit of spice from Stephen Lang, playing far against type. Although in the end, it's hard to escape the fact that this is actually just a simplistic, nasty little thriller.
It centres on Darcy and Don (Allen and LaPaglia), a blissfully happy middle-aged couple with grown children (Kristen Connolly and Theo Stockman) who are on the verge of starting families of their own. Then Darcy makes a discovery in the garage that links Don to a series of serial murders terrorising New England. When Don realises that she knows, he says he'll stop the killing if she lets their life go back to normal. But how can it, when she's having terrified fever dreams every night? She can just about hold it together for their kids, but she keeps seeing opportunities to take matters into her own hands. Meanwhile, a shady figure (Lang) seems to be following them.
Yes, King's screenplay is less interested in carrying on with a probing, blackly witty exploration of the stresses of long-term relationships than in making viewers squirm in their seats. And the film certainly does this thanks to another remarkably offhanded performance from Allen. While she sometimes seems a bit panicky and arch, there's real edge to her screen presence. And LaPaglia is superb as the likeable killer who should probably be stopped but is nice to have around the house. Intriguingly, the film doesn't end when we think it will, as the characters have a bit further to go on this grisly little journey.
Continue reading: A Good Marriage Review
The CIA is confronted with the consequences of previous events that have taken place involving Jason Bourne. They decide that they must shut down Operation Outcome (the subsequent operation to Operation Treadstone) which will involve the assassination of Outcome agent Aaron Cross and Doctor Stephanie Snyder who helped produce the agents. They must find an escape or be killed.
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Joan Allen Monday 20th October 2008 Labyrinth Theater's 6th Annual Celebrity Charades held at Terminal 5 New York City, USA
"She" (Joan Allen) is a London-based scientist (born in Belfast, raised in America) whose open marriage to her stoic, stuffy husband (Sam Neill) is dying a slow, painful death. "He" (Simon Abkarian) is a cook from Beirut, who meets her at a party, beginning a torrid affair that puts both on a physical and emotional trek taking them to Beirut, Belfast, New York, and a groovy Cuba.
Continue reading: Yes Review
Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen play a miserable suburban couple whose marriage is disrupted by an accidental shooting in their living room at midnight. As it turns out, the guy was Daniels' business partner. Allen moves out in disgust and, through a process of self-discovery, figures out that her happy little life was nothing more than a middle class prison. She hides away at her new workplace, in the employ of eccentric millionaire and computer guru Gary Sinise. Daniels sits at home fuming, renting pornography and playing with his gun.
Continue reading: It's The Rage Review
Based on the play by Joan Ackermann (and adapted by Ackermann for the screen), Off the Map recalls one summer in the life of an offbeat family living off the land in rural New Mexico. It's essentially a series of dialogue-driven scenarios that actors like Joan Allen and Sam Elliott can sink their teeth into; Scott guides them there while avoiding any unnecessary scene-chewing or melodrama that could come with the subject matter. That's an accomplishment in itself -- but the visual dreaminess and charm that Scott weaves into, and wraps around, his performances elevate the film into a poignant and thoughtful work of art.
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However her latest film, "Yes," is a failed experiment.Joan Allen plays an Irish-born woman stuck in a loveless, childless marriageto a philandering husband (Sam Neill). She meets a Lebanese cook (SimonAbkarian) who was once a surgeon in Beirut, and begins a love affair. Writtenentirely in verse, "Yes" requires the actors to suffer throughlong passages of blathering talk, and the scenes routinely dry out longbefore they end.
Potter attempts to add layers to the film by hinting atpolitical paranoia and showing scenes through surveillance cameras, butthe verse angle nullifies these attempts. The superb Allen is capable ofextremes: from icy control to dropping her emotional guard, yet she cannotmake this film's rhythms work.
Shirley Henderson, playing a maid who observes the actionand breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera, shows justhow the film might have played. With her silky, slithering delivery, sheplays with the words like a snake might toy with a mouse.
Staying 100-percent true to the surprising, cerebral, cliché- and catch-phrase-eschewing spirit of 2002's "The Bourne Identity," screenwriter Tony Gilroy (returning from the original) and director Paul Greengrass have put together a breathless sequel with tense intellectual punch, smart, seat-gripping action, and a hero who is utterly compelling, almost without saying a word.
Still suffering from amnesia and nightmarish recovered flashes of his past assignments as a CIA assassin, the now-tempered Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), and the girl (Franka Potente) who helped him survive a relentless manhunt in the first picture, begin "The Bourne Supremacy" having their peaceful incognito existence on an Indian beach shattered by a rogue Russian secret service agent (a silently daunting Karl Urban) with a sniper rifle.
In one of the film's few conventional contrivances, the plot is set in motion when, after a nerve-racking chase through the tight, ancient streets of this third-world seaside town, their jeep plummets off a bridge and this otherwise professional killer heads home, assuming they're dead. Bourne in turn assumes the CIA has come to finish the job they started two years ago, and immediately begins a hunt of his own -- fulfilling his pledge that "if I even feel somebody behind me, there is no measure to how fast I will bring this fight to your doorstep."
Continue reading: The Bourne Supremacy Review
One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...
A young woman and her 5-year-old son Jack live together in a confined, sound-proofed room...
Slick and haunting, this film delves into the things that hold a marriage together in...
The CIA is confronted with the consequences of previous events that have taken place involving...
Rambling monologues featuring rhyming dialogue. Lead characters named "He" and "She." Camerawork aching to be...
Quite a cast has been assembled for this Altman-esque tale of interlocked lives, all clamoring...
I usually give Sally Potter a lot of slack; I've enjoyedall three of her feature...