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Spanish director Eugenio Mira combines slick filmmaking with a dark and nasty plot as this fast-paced thriller unfolds almost in real time. So even if the premise doesn't quite stand up to scrutiny, it's packed with characters and twists that keep the audience glued to the screen as the mystery charges inexorably forward. Suspense comes in some gruesome surprises along the way, as well as in the actors' urgent performances.
The film opens as Tom (Elijah Wood) heads to Chicago for his first piano performance in five years, organised by his movie-star wife Emma (Kerry Bishe). She's even flown in the custom piano owned by Tom's late mentor, whose fortune mysteriously vanished after he died (cue an ominous chord!). Despite enormous pressure from the press and his fans, Tom is quietly confident about his long-awaited return to the stage. An old friend (Don McManus) is conducting tonight, and his assistant (Alex Winter) has everything under control. Then just as he begins to play Tom sees words in red ink on his score: "Play one note wrong and you die!" Using an earpiece and a laser gunsight, an angry fan (John Cusack) leads Tom on a wild cat-and-mouse game right through the performance.
Yes, the idea is pretty preposterous, and not just because Tom can play outrageously complicated pieces note-perfect while a maniac shouts in his ear. Tom even manages to make phone calls and send text messages while playing, darting off-stage to crank up suspense along the way. The main threat is against his wife, whose demanding friend (Tamsin Egerton) and her browbeaten husband (Allen Leech) also get involved in the mayhem, which no one else in the theatre seems to notice until the over-the-top finale. But through all of this, Mira directs with a Hitchcockian grip on the suspense, deploying gallows humour, sweeping camerawork, dramatic music and complex long takes tighten the screws.
Continue reading: Grand Piano Review
'Maps to the Stars' looks a real curio of a movie. Check out the trailer below.
Ok, so David Cronenberg's latest movie Maps to the Stars - which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May - will more than likely pull in a sizable teenage audience, given it stars Twlight's very own Robert Pattinson. Though without making too many assumptions, a chunk of those paying their $20 may have thought better of it by the end of the satirical drama, which delves into the celebrity-obsessed culture that made Pattinson's vampire franchise a global hit.
Robert Pattinson in 'Maps to the Stars'
It's written by Bruce Wagner, the tattooed Ambulance driver turned novelist who Cronenberg has compared to James Joyce. "He's unafraid to express the moment . to go to the darkest places. Hollywood is his Dublin," he told the Los Angeles Times, adding that Wagner is "a kind of star on the red carpet. He's not a typical writer. He's comfortable with cameras and microphones.
Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) is an actress struggling with her insecurities and desperate to reprise her late mother Clarice's star role in the remake of the latter's 60s film. Constantly haunted by her mother's image and feeling like a less attractive version of her, she seeks comfort from her psychotherapist Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack). Weiss is struggling in his own life, with his wife managing his child star son's comeback acting career after a stint in rehab - and he's only 13-years-old. His other child, daughter Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), has been discharged from a mental hospital unbeknownst to them, and lands a job as a PA for none other than Havana. Stafford starts to become suspicious when Havana talks of her unnamed PA having a scarred face from a fire and warns his wife and son that their daughter may have returned. Meanwhile, Agatha becomes close to a limo driver named Jerome who has his own Hollywood dreams.
Continue: Maps To The Stars Trailer
Steven (Ryan Phillip) and Shannon (Rachelle Lefevre) want nothing more than to have a child of their own. After some deliberation, the couple decide to adopt a child from Haiti, although when she goes missing the same evening, they realise that things are not as they seem. After consulting the local police, they discover that this known practice of 'reclaiming' is a scam, set up to take large amounts of money from wealthy individuals. Soon, the couple begin to spiral further into the seedy underworld of child trafficking as they battle against the sinister Benjamin (John Cusack) to keep either their money or their lives.
Continue: Reclaim Trailer
Paul (Jason Patric) used to be a major figure in the Las Vegas crime world - known by his rivals as 'The Prince - before retiring to life as a mechanic in Mississippi as the single father of his growing daughter Angela (Jessica Lowndes). However, his past is coming back to haunt him as one former rival, Omar (Bruce Willis), just can't let his grudge rest. Angela is kidnapped, forcing Paul to face his enemies once again; he travels down to where he believes she has been taken after taking advice from an old friend named Sam (John Cusack). He's still got the weapons and he's definitely still got his formidable fighting skills, but after living in peace for so long, will he be able to save the only person left in his life? Omar's betting he won't, and even he does, he's still got lots to explain to his angry and confused daughter about his dark past.
Continue: The Prince Trailer
David Cronenberg's new film could have a strong shot at the Palme D'Or if critics are on the money.
Maps to the Stars has finally received its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and will compete in competition with nearly 20 other films for the top prize. Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson lead the way in the movie, which is a scathing satire of Beverly Hills and certain roach-like denizens.
Robert Pattinson Plays Limo Driver Jerome Fantana In 'Maps To The Stars.'
Moore plays Havana Segrand, a famous but struggling star who is battling for another shot at fame playing the lead in a movie about her legendary movie star mother's life. Wasikowska plays Agatha Weiss, a badly scarred pyromaniac whose brother is a Bieber-esque child star with a similar attitude.
This is an strangely slushy movie from Lee Daniels, whose last two films (Precious and The Paperboy) bristled with unexpected life. By contrast, this star-packed drama uses a true story to trace the Civil Rights struggle from the 1950s to the present day. But it's been so fictionalised that it feels kind of like a variation on Forrest Gump.
Cecil Gaines (Whitaker) grew up on a Georgia cotton plantation, where the cruel master's kindly mother (Redgrave) taught him to be a house servant. Years later, he marries Gloria (Winfrey) and moves to Washington DC, where he gets a job in the White House as a butler to presidents from Eisenhower (Williams) to Reagan (Rickman). His job description is simple: "You hear nothing, you see nothing, you only serve." And yet as the nation grapples with its racist culture, he has a quiet influence on each leader who moves through the house.
Whitaker narrates the film in drawling flashbacks, while the story flickers between Cecil and his eldest son Louis (Oyelowo), an activist who is involved in every key moment in the Civil Rights movement. And their younger son (Kelley) is sent to Vietnam. So it's like a condensed version of late 20th century American history, made notable by the lively cast of cameo players including Marsden (as JFK), Schreiber (LBJ), Ellis (MLK) and Cusack (Nixon), plus Fonda as a lively Nancy Reagan.
Continue reading: The Butler Review
'Lee Daniels' The Butler' has remained at the top of the US Box Office for the second consecutive week. 'We're the Millers' has also retained its position at no.2 for the third week.
Lee Daniels' The Butler has retained its position at No.1 in the US Weekend Box Office for the second week. The movie is an historical epic which follows the true story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a black butler who served at the White House through the offices of eight presidents. Whitaker is supported by a cast of award winning actors including Oprah Winfrey, Alan Rickman, Josh Cusack and Robin Williams.
Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey at the L.A. premiere of Lee Daniels' The Butler.
This weekend Lee Daniels' The Butler may not have been, financially, as successful as last weekend. It made over $17 million this week as opposed to the $25 million it earned in its opening weekend. Meanwhile We're the Millers, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, made $13 million down from $17 million last weekend. The comedy made a similar amount to The Butler in its opening weekend ($26 million) yet has continued, by comparison, to be more financially profitable.
Continue reading: 'The Butler' & 'We're The Millers' Retain Top US Box Office Positions
Will Kristen be jealous? Robert Pattinson goes through awkward kissing scene with Mia Wasikowska for Cronenberg's 'Maps To The Stars'.
The 'Twilight' star is in the front of the limousine for once as he takes on the role of driver and aspiring actor Jerome in the new drama. As well as starring alongside Mia, who plays feisty pyromaniac Agatha Weiss, Pattinson will also appear alongside John Cusack, Julianne Moore and Carrie Fisher.
Getting the hang of cruising in a limo is one thing, but what Robert finds most difficult to get his head round is the romantic scenes, which he has previously admitted is 'awkward'.
The part fact-based story of the live-in manservant of the White House will be released next week and already it has critics singing it's praise
The Butler movie could very well be the first real contender for next year's Academy Awards when it is released next Friday (16 August) as critics have already singled the film out as a wonderfully acted, well told story worthy of award recognition. Covering the course of thirty years and eight presidents, some of the most important moments in the history of the 20th century are retold from the unique point of view from within the presidential chambers.
Forest Whitaker stars as the fictional butler Cecil Gains in the film
Starring Forest Whitaker, The Butler covers the extensive career of Cecil Gains, a devoted butler for the White House who was born on a southern cotton farm and rose from humble origins as a kitchen worker to eventually become the top butler to eight different presidents over the course of more than 30 years; including John F Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. Despite serving a series of conflicting presidents, Cecil never forgot his duties and always presents himself as the upmost professional, no matter what is happening in the world.
Check out our extended clips and pictures below
Hollywood and the film industry seem more confident in taking on the issue of slavery in a cinematic context. Last year saw Django Unchained and Lincoln prove popular, and this year will see more films of that ilk, including Lee Daniels' The Butler, which enjoyed its premiere last night (Monday, Aug 5) in New York.
Whitaker is The Butler
The film follows Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) – an African-American White House butler who, due to his close proximity, was privy to many of the political events that helped shaped contemporary America. The film is based on the real-life account of Eugene Allen.
Continue reading: Lee Daniel's 'The Butler' Is A Clear Oscar Contender [Stills + Clips]
Cecil Gaines is a modest and dedicated butler at the White House who manages to make for himself a respectable career despite his underprivileged upbringing and cotton farm roots. Starting out as a regular kitchen worker, Cecil soon proves himself to be extremely proficient and works his way up to be the head butler for eight different US presidents. Some of them prove to be discriminatory, treating Cecil with little respect and holding massively differing views to him, but he always remains polite and does everything within his power to care for his employers while keeping any top secret information that he might hear firmly to himself. Meanwhile, he struggles at home with his son; a Black Panther with aggressive views on racial equality who is less than grateful to have a father working for the people that he believes are causing racial oppression.
This story of loyalty and unconditional dedication is based on the true story of Eugene Allen; a butler who similarly lived through years of racial inequality before finally seeing, in his retirement, the election of the first black President, Barack Obama. His story was documented in the article 'A Butler Well Served by This Election' written by Wil Haygood. 'The Butler' has been directed by Lee Daniels ('The Paperboy', 'Precious', 'Shadowboxer') and co-written by Danny Strong ('Game Change', 'Recount') and will be released in the US on August 16th 2013.
Jack Halcombe is an Alaskan State Trooper who determinedly sets out to find a serial killer after several bodies of young girls show up apparently murdered. When he discovers a frightened young girl hiding away bound with handcuffs, he realises that she is their key to finding the killer being the only one to have managed to escape from his clutches. However, her information is in doubt given the fact that she is a prostitute and refused a polygraph. When he does find the suspect, it is Robert Hansen; an experience hunter and a bakery worker whose respected status leads many investigators to cross him off their list. Halcombe is unwavering in his suspicions, however, and sets out to gather solid evidence that Hansen is their man.
Continue: The Frozen Ground Trailer
Nicolas Cage's new Alaskan crime thriller 'The Frozen Ground' is released today (19th July) in the UK and 23rd August in the USA. What do the first reviewers reckon?
Upcoming crime thriller The Frozen Ground is based on true events that culminated in a horrific serial killer being jailed to 461 years in prison in 1984 after the murder of 17 women. An adaptation of a chilling real-life story, the film starts with prostitute Cindy (Vanessa Hudgens) who narrowly escapes the clutches of serial killer and sexual predator Robert Hansen (John Cusack) but her story is disbelieved by the authorities. It is only when State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) becomes involved in the investigation that Cindy's account is investigated and Hansen is tracked down.
Nicolas Cage To Star As State Trooper Jack Halcombe Who Tries To Solve The Crimes.
The Telegraph's Tim Robey disparages the film as unentertaining whilst badly and confusingly constructed yet does admit that former Disney teen princess Hudgens makes a "solid contribution" to the narrative, saying "she's tough and committed in ways that often come to the rescue." Cusack's killer is painted as a 2D villain, serving up "a listless banality-of-evil cipher instead of a character." The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw rates the film a little higher however, choosing to praise all three lead actor's performances as "solid" and Digital Spy attests - Cage's performance is "subtly" intense whilst the script is described as "smartly written." However, DS does admit that The Frozen Ground "misses the mark" with unconvincing roles from Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Radha Mitchell, playing Cindy's pimp and Halcombe's wife respectively.
Even though this crime thriller is based on a true story, it never feels remotely believable. The problem is that writer-director Walker tries far too hard to force the real events into a standard movie structure, which leaves gaping plot holes everywhere we look. Still, it's a solidly made film, with a snappy pace, strong performances and beefy direction that holds our attention.
It's set in 1983 Anchorage, Alaska, where the cops struggle to believe the story told to them by 17-year-old prostitute Cindy (Hudgens): she claims to have been kidnapped, tortured and raped, barely escaping with her life, and she identifies upstanding citizen Robert (Cusack) as her would-be killer. With the police refusing to follow up on her statement, State Trooper Jack (Cage) looks into it and discovers similarities in the cases of several other missing girls. And even though his out-of-hours investigation strains his marriage to Allie (Mitchell), he is doggedly determined to find the proof that will put Robert behind bars.
Right at the beginning we have a nagging question that's never answered: why do the police discount the victim's account, especially as it's accompanied by physical evidence? And the screenplay brushes past other big issues along the way, making us think that this might be the most inept police squad in the world. Although we never doubt for a second that Jack will crack the case, even though the script continually throws in random movie cliches from the characters' pasts in an attempt to ramp up the emotional stakes. It also randomly places Cindy in the middle of an under-developed war between two pimps (Jackson and Henke).
Continue reading: The Frozen Ground Review
There's an interesting, timely idea in this espionage thriller, as well as adept leading actors who are able to make the most of the script's dry wit. But the film is ultimately sabotaged by a clearly low budget and lacklustre direction that fails to connect the dots of the story. Even with some clever touches, the plot is resolutely fuzzy, and since it never comes into clear focus it's difficult for us to care what happens.
The title refers to radio stations governments have used for decades to broadcast strings of numbers that are decoded by covert field operatives. One of these agents is Emerson (Cusack), whose job is to clean up messes around America. But after a nasty incident he's having second thoughts about his career, so his boss (Cunningham) reassigns him to a numbers station in rural England, where his task is to keep an eye on civilian cryptologist Katherine (Akerman). Then the station is suddenly compromised, leaving Emerson and Katherine locked inside while a gang of baddies tries to break in.
Director Barfoed gives the movie a nicely haunted quality that builds a strong sense of menace. Cusack adds his trademark cynicism to the mix as a man who resorts to brittle humour to mask his torment over the death of a teen girl on an earlier mission, made worse by the fact that Katherine is now a "loose end" here. And so is he, for that matter. Akerman is a superb foil for him, giving Katherine a spiky braininess that catches Emerson off guard: if he's falling for her, he can't kill her. Can he? These themes are thoroughly involving, even if the script never goes anywhere with them.
Continue reading: The Numbers Station Review
'The Butler' boasts a superb supporting cast including Robin Williams, John Cusack, Alan Rickman and Cuba Gooding Jr.
The first trailer for 'Precious' director Lee Daniels' new movie The Butler starring Forest Whitaker has rolled out online. It has always been assumed that Harvey Weinstein believes the film is one of his better chances of tasting Oscars success this season and the trailer certainly appears to confirm that. It stars Whitaker as Eugene Allen, the man who served eight presidents as the White House's head butler. It's over-the-top, patriotic and, well, Oscar bait.
In the mould as The King's Speech and The Iron Lady, the historical biopic is set for release on October 18th - just in time to be wafted under the nose of the Academy. As well as Whitaker returning to a leading role, 'The Butler' boasts one of the more spectacular casts of the year, including Robin Williams (Dwight Eisenhower), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), James Marsden (JFK), Liev Schreiber (Lydon B. Johnson), Alan Rickman (Reagan), Cuba Gooding Jr (Carter Wilson). David Oyelowo (Loius Gaines) and Oprah Winfrey (Gloria Gaines) are among the supporting cast though this one appears to be set up for Whitaker.
Watch 'The Butler' Trailer!
Speaking to Indiewire last year, Daniels hinted that his movie might be a little too focused on awards, "I'm trying to keep it [The Butler] PG13 which is not easy for me. It's very un-Precious and un-Paperboy... I can't go into my bag of tricks on this one [...] I felt like I directed the film in handcuffs and a muzzle," he said.
Continue reading: Forest Whitaker As 'The Butler' Could Be A Recipe For Success [Trailer]
Cecil Gains is a devoted White House butler who grew up on a simple cotton farm where he and other black workers were not treated with any respect by their white counterparts. From a simple kitchen worker, he rises to be top butler to eight different presidents over the course of more than 30 years. Sworn to secrecy over the goings on at the White House, he serves the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson with all the care that he has in spite of their differing policies and the suppression of his race across the country. He rejects his freedom fighter son's distaste at Cecil's job and never once wavers in his respect for his government. He merely stands back, silver platter in hand and watches the progression of racial equality until the day the country's first black president is finally inaugurated.
This is a story about loyalty and commitment based on the article by Wil Haygood, 'A Butler Well Served by This Election', about Eugene Allen; a real butler who showed his devotion to his job over the course of three decades while he and his fellow black civilians went from being the underdogs to top dog as he lives to see the election of President Barack Obama. It has been directed by Lee Daniels ('The Paperboy', 'Precious', 'Shadowboxer') and co-written by Danny Strong ('Game Change', 'Recount'), and has an incredible all-star ensemble cast. 'The Butler' is set to his theatres in the US on August 16th 2013.
Lee Daniels is clearly vying for Oscars glory with 'The Butler.'
The first trailer for 'Precious' director Lee Daniels' new movie The Butler starring Forest Whitaker has rolled out online and Harvey Weinstein's ambitions of taking this film all the way to the Oscars couldn't be more apparent. Whitaker stars as Eugene Allen, the man who served eight presidents as the White House's head butler.
The movie is clearly Oscar bait. Firstly, it's a typical Weinstein movie in the same mould as The King's Speech and The Iron Lady and secondly it's set for release on October 18th - just in time to be wafted under the nose of the Academy. Oh, and there's a pretty strong cast with plenty of Oscar winners and several up-and-coming stars. Robin Williams (Dwight Eisenhower), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), James Marsden (JFK), Liev Schreiber (Lydon B. Johnson), Alan Rickman (Reagan), Cuba Gooding Jr (Carter Wilson), David Oyelowo (Loius Gaines) and Oprah Winfrey (Gloria Gaines) are among the supporting cast though this one appears to be set up for Whitaker.
Filmmaker Daniels follows up his acclaimed hit Precious with what might be the trashiest movie in recent memory: a swampy thriller packed with desperate characters hiding grisly secrets. Daniels and his cast dive headlong into this garish world, refusing to blink as they take us to the fringes of human behaviour. It's so marvellously audacious that we feel like we need a shower after watching it.
The film takes us into the steamy backwoods of central Florida in 1969, as Miami journalist Ward (McConaughey) returns home with his black colleague Yardley (Oyelowo), who sparks whispers of racism everywhere he goes. Staying with his editor dad (Glenn) and delivery boy brother Jack (Efron), Ward is investigating the case of death row inmate Hillary (Cusack), whose trashy fiancee Charlotte (Kidman) is filing an appeal. The 20-year-old Jack is instantly smitten with the overtly sexual Charlotte, who seems happy to seduce every man she meets. And as Ward, Yardley and Jack dig deeper into the case, they get several startling surprises.
Daniels keeps the film sweaty and snarky as he delves into the story's seriously dark corners. And the actors all go along with him. The always terrific Kidman really goes for broke here, prowling through each scene and oozing raw sexuality. It's no wonder she triggers Jack's lust, and Efron plays him with a delicate balance of intelligence and naivete, underscored of course with relentless horndog desire. None of the characters are as dumb as they look, and McConaughey, Oyelowo and especially Cusack revel in playing against expectations. Each actor packs every line with attitude and insinuation, creating fascinating chemistry along the way.
Continue reading: The Paperboy Review
Date of birth
28th June, 1966
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