Restauranteering is not a profession that should be taken lightly. Indeed, it's less of a job and more of a way of life for Adam Jones, who has wanted to become the greatest chef the world has ever seen since as long as he can remember. He was just 16-years-old when he left school to go to Paris and achieve his dream; becoming a Michelin star chef infamous across the Parisian culinary scene. But his rise to success came much too soon, and it wasn't long before his dream began to crumble around him, beaten by a life of drugs, violence, and volatile behaviour. With many of his opponents thinking him dead, he returns to London a new man to reignite his passion, earn a third Michelin star, and open the best restaurant in the world. All he needs is a talented team behind him, who is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
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An unusually inventive approach brings this story to life, as the filmmakers get into the mind of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson to reveal how he created those unforgettable songs. Even more impressive is the depiction of Wilson's troubled personal life, which plays out with an unnerving resonance rarely matched by rock-star biopics. This is due to artful direction and writing plus committed performances from Paul Dano and John Cusack, who play Wilson at two key points in his life.
As a young man in the 1960s, Brian Wilson (Dano) is a prodigious genius, preferring to stay in the studio while his brothers Dennis and Carl (Kenny Wormald and Brett Davern) and their bandmate Mike Love (Jake Abel) head out to meet girls on tour. They don't understand Brian's obsession with oddball sounds, but let him do his thing until it becomes clear that he's mentally unstable. Years later, in the late 1980s, Brian (now Cusack) falls for Cadillac saleswoman Melinda (Elizabeth Banks), who realises that he is being over-medicated and possibly abused by his controlling psychiatrist guardian Eugene (Paul Giamatti). And instead of leaving, as Eugene orders her to do, she fights for Brian.
These two time periods are interwoven together in a strikingly seamless way, shifting back and forth to build a potent dramatic and emotional momentum. By seeing everything from Wilson's perspective, the filmmakers are able to take the audience on a remarkable journey through his life, avoiding the usual predictable formula. Wilson's life may follow the usual trajectory of success followed by drug abuse, but his mental illness adds an involving angle that's depicted with sensitivity by Dano and Cusack, as well as director Bill Pohlad and writers Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner. Even more impressive is Banks' performance, which is the key that takes us right into the story. It's a beautifully textured turn that reminds us that she can do a lot more than steal movies in comical roles (see Pitch Perfect, Magic Mike and The Hunger Games).
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The Weston family know they are probably one of the most dysfunctional families around, but they do understand that sometimes it's best to stick together. Violet Weston is the family matriarch suffering from mouth cancer and heavily addicted to prescription drugs which only gets worse after the apparent suicide of her husband Beverly. As the funeral approaches, Violet's three daughters Barbara, Ivy and Karen and their families arrive at the house they grew up in, along with some other estranged relatives, hoping to get the whole ordeal over and done with fairly quickly. However, things don't go as smoothly as they, perhaps naively, hoped as they discover a whole load of closet skeletons they'd rather have not known about.
'August: Osage County' is a remarkable dark comedy directed by multi-Emmy winning John Wells ('The Company Men') and based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by Tracy Letts ('Bug', 'Killer Joe'). It has been produced by George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein and is a warts-and-all story about the trials and tribulations of family affairs, uncovering both the heartwarming and the heartbreaking secrets that underline all families. It is set to be released in the UK on January 3rd 2014.
Bobby Walker (Affleck) is a high-flying shipping executive stunned when he's fired after 12 years on the job. Company founder Gene (Jones) is furious at the CEO (Nelson) for sacrificing thousands of employees to guarantee bigger profits for stockholders and executives. And his 30-year-veteran colleague Phil (Cooper) is worried that he might get the chop in the next wave of cuts. While Bobby struggles to accept his unemployment, his wife (DeWitt) is more realistic, suggesting that Bobby take a job with her builder brother (Costner) to tide them over.
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A few years later, after the deaths of both Carlton and his mother, Bobby is a puppy-eyed teenager who inherited Carlton's magnetic personality and utter lack of guile, which is what attracts another teen, the gawkier Jonathan, to him. After his dad dies, Bobby moves permanently into the Glover household as a sort of unofficial adopted brother to Jonathan - except that they're brothers who occasionally make out and smoke joints with Mrs. Glover (Sissy Spacek). The rather uptight Jonathan (he wears glasses and has braces, you see) can't handle Bobby's openness and is more than a little jealous of how eagerly her mother has embraced him into their family, and their romantic relationship stalls.
Continue reading: A Home At The End Of The World Review
The novel White Oleander was a 1999 selection of the ubiquitous Oprah Winfrey Book Club and you can tell why: There are so many brutally dysfunctional people in the story that Dr. Phil could produce months of television delving into their sorry lives. Astrid (Alison Lohman) is an only child, growing up in the Hollywood Hills with Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), her eccentric, urban-arty mother. After a series of events that Kosminsky smartly keeps off-camera, Ingrid kills her boyfriend. Or does she? And how? Regardless, the beautiful, hopeful, young Astrid is picked up by state services and sent to live in a double-wide with a foster family.
Continue reading: White Oleander Review
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