It's the early sixties and 17-year-old Cathleen Harris has decided on what she wants for her future. Having been drawn to the Catholic faith from the age of 7, she now wants to take the ultimate step and become a nun having felt the presence of God. Her mother is none to happy about her decision, fearful that she will lose her daughter forever, but nonetheless Cathleen joins a convent as a postulant in under to undergo the novitiate - that is, training before taking holy vows - led by the Reverend Mother. She's a very traditional kind of nun, rejecting any kind of modernisation of the church, banning all physical affection from the lightest of touches, and encouraging their young novices to use controversial methods of self-discipline. But, the fact is, the church is changing and the Reverend Mother struggles to cope with the idea of losing her authority as the era of the Second Vatican Council reformations draws near. Meanwhile, many of the novices struggle with their sexuality - something ultimately forbidden by the path they have chosen.
Continue: Novitiate Trailer
Whitey Bulger has had the FBI under his thumb for too long, and now people are starting to notice. How can a criminal mastermind responsible for every major offence in the city pass by seemingly unnoticed for an entire lifetime? It's true he landed in Alcatrez at a young age, but the older the more dangerous he becomes; a kingpin of the South Boston criminal underworld who escaped justice by informing authorities of all movements of the rival gang, the Italian Mafia, as suggested by his most useful contact and friend John Connolly. But the Irish Winter Hill Gang is growing ever more powerful, and Bulger's feelings of invincibility lead to more and more murders and destruction. It's time he was stopped, but finding him is not going to be easy.
Continue: Black Mass Trailer
Irish-American criminal mastermind Whitey Bulger was arguably one of the most dangerous men in America before his arrest in 2011 at the age of 81. He'd already spent time in Alcatrez as a much younger man, having spent a lot of time on the streets of South Boston. However, by the 70s he proved to be the FBI's best tool in controlling organised crime within the country, and he was eventually persuaded by his friend John Connolly to be their informant in all workings of the rival Italian Mafia. However, it's not safe business being both a highly respected gangster and a police informant, and while much of his activity is being largely ignored as he rises to become top of the Irish Winter Hill Gang, it seems he is gaining too many killings and dodgy dealings under his belt to go unnoticed.
Continue: Black Mass - Teaser Trailer
Sometimes, the greatest hiding place is in plain sight. For twelve years from the mid-1990s, he was the FBI's second most wanted fugitive, behind Osama Bin Laden. Throughout the 1970s, he was an FBI informant, revealing information to bring down an Italian American crime family, and he was the brother of a US senator. But really, his informant years were to stop another family from invading his own turf. Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) was one of the most brutal and violent criminals in Boston, being the secret puppet master behind one of the most dangerous crime families in history.
Continue: Black Mass - First Look Trailer
Tracy Letts adapts his own prize-winning play into a blistering depiction of one of cinema's most dysfunctional families ever. It's still rather theatrical, throwing a mob of top actors into a room for what feels like a fight to the death, but it's so well written and so beautifully observed by the actors that we can't look away. And of course Meryl Streep walks off with the show.
Everything kicks off when Beverly Weston (Shepard) goes missing, leaving his ruthlessly straight-talking, pill-popping wife Violet (Streep) to assemble the family in their rambling Oklahoma home. They have three equally feisty daughters: Barbara (Roberts) is a tightly wound bundle of anger with an estranged husband (McGregor) and surly teen daughter (Breslin) in tow; Karen (Lewis) is a free-spirited floater with yet another random boyfriend (Mulroney); and Ivy (Nicholson) is fed up with being the dutiful daughter who stayed close to home. Also on hand is Violet's sister Mattie Fae (Martindale), whose husband (Cooper) is the family patriarch now that Beverly is gone, which means their son (Cumberbatch) feels even more useless than normal.
What plot there is centres on skeletons rattling out of closets and relationships imploding spectacularly. The film is a series of brutally intense encounters between people who probably still love each other in vaguely undefined ways and express it through bitter bursts of witty cruelty. Streep has the meatiest role as the imperious Violet, who knows a lot more than she's letting on. And her chief rival is Barbara, played with unnerving intensity by Roberts. The only person we even remotely like is Mattie Fae, and the always-superb Martindale finds all kinds of layers in the character.
Continue reading: August: Osage County Review
Director-cowriter Sachs takes an unusually intimate look at a 10-year relationship in this beautifully shot and performed New York drama. The film has been compared to 2011's British break-out hit Weekend, but only partly because it centres on a gay couple. What makes both films notable is the way they tackle serious issues in the context of a relationship, keeping the focus tightly on complex characters who behave like real people we can identify with.
The story starts in 1998 New York, as aspiring Danish documentary filmmaker Erik (Lindhardt) fails to overcome his loneliness by using chat-lines to meet random strangers for sex. Then he meets the lawyer Paul (Booth), and their encounter evolves into a relationship. Over the next decade, Paul is frustrated by Erik's casual approach to his slow-developing career, while Erik becomes increasingly worried about Paul's casual drug use. As this boils over into full-on addiction, Erik turns to his sister (Steen) and his close friend Claire (Nicholson) for help with an intervention. But are drugs the real problem? And even if Paul goes through rehab, can their relationship survive?
Intriguingly, Sachs never lets this turn into a drug-addiction drama, carefully exploring much deeper issues without ever being preachy about it. Everything is presented as matter-of-fact, just part of life, and even the addiction problem is only an obstacle for Erik and Paul to deal with in their life together. Both Lindhardt and Booth bring a stunning transparency to their roles, keeping the characters likeable even when they do awful things to each other. Since we see everything through Erik's eyes, Lindhardt's role is much beefier, and it's also infused with his European sense of humour.
Continue reading: Keep The Lights On Review
Peter Parker is a socially unpopular high-school boy who lives with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May after his parents left him when he was very young for reasons unknown. He finds a clue to their disappearance in the form of his father's suitcase and his journey for an explanation takes him to Oscorp, the weapons manufacturer of New York, and the lab of his father's ex-business partner Dr. Curt Connors who offers him that explanation. Along his journey, the alter-egos of Connors (The Lizard) and Parker (Spider-Man) collide in a continuous battle of superpowers and Parker's feelings for his first high-school crush Gwen Stacy, whose father is a Police Captain with officers all over the city looking for Parker, intensify.
Continue: The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer
Peter Parker, at first glance, seems like a normal high schooler. However, he is a nerd and gets picked on by other students. He lives with his aunt and uncle, after his parents abandoned him as a young boy. And the weirdest fact of them all - he got bit by a radioactive spider one day whilst exploring a science lab, which gave him super powers.
Continue: The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer
As the opening credits roll, we meet Stacy (Brittany Murphy), a young college grad heading out into the exciting world of low-budget television production. She dreams of one day working with her childhood idol, Diane Sawyer. And her mother loves Carly Simon. I don't know why the part about Carly Simon is important, but it's a recurring theme throughout the film. If her mother ever actually got any screen time, perhaps the Carly Simon thing would become at least marginally relevant to the story. But no dice. Even so, we're treated to several inexplicable Carly Simon moments that have nothing to do with anything, really, and don't add anything of substance to the film.
Continue reading: Little Black Book Review
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