Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams, but the film is far too choppy to provide much insight. Leaping through the decades without much context, the film never explores what made Williams such an important artist, so it's difficult to understand the impact of his tragic death at just 29. That said, Tom Hiddleston shines in the role.
Cutting around in time, the film shows Hank (Hiddleston) as a young man with a singular vision: he's determined to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. His young wife Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen) and his mother Lillie (Cherry Jones) argue about who will control his career, but Hank just gets on with it, relying on help from music publisher Fred Rose (Bradley Whitford). Finally at 26 he gets his first No 1 single, and lands a spot at the Opry, becoming a fast-rising superstar. But the chronic back pain he has suffered since childhood leads him into alcohol and drug abuse, which of course begins to take a toll on his career as well as his friendships, marriage and health.
The film skips around Williams' life, moving on to the next scene before this one seems quite finished. This means that the story is never able to build up any momentum, and also that each fragmented period of time feels under-explained. And the people around Williams appear and disappear at random, so the actors never get any traction in their roles. Hiddleston does find moments of resonance, simply because he's in every scene in the film and establishes a bit of rapport with the audience. It's also astonishing that he performs the songs himself. But Abrahams's approach to storytelling never offers any insight into Williams' fame, talents or personal life.
Continue reading: I Saw The Light Review
I Saw The Light is the new biopic about Hank Williams. The film follows his personal life and rise to fame and his tragic death at the age of 29. Having released 30 singles in a very short amount of time Hank Williams became one of the US's favourite musicians.
Having begun work in the music industry recording tracks for a radio station, eventual turn of events and the war led Williams onto starting a solo career. Both his mother and his wife played a huge part in his musical success with his wife Audrey initially managing him which led onto Hank being signed to MGM Records.
Hank always wished to be the best father he could to his child, but constant time on the road, an addiction to pain medication, alcohol topped with his promiscuous ways lead to an unstable home life, despite the wholesome image the outside world had of him.
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Hank Williams was one of the most iconic country stars America has ever seen, moving crowds to their feet (and often to tears) with such hits as 'Lovesick Blues', 'Hey Good Lookin'' and 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry'. But away from the mic stand, his life was often in turmoil. Plagued by crippling chronic back pain from his spina bifida occulta, he found himself repeatedly drawn to alcohol which made figures in the music industry refuse to work with him, and later other substances including painkillers and morphine prescribed by a fraudulent doctor. If that wasn't bad enough, his love life was hardly blissful either; both his marriages were marred by legal misfortunes and can only be described as tumultuous and unstable. By his 20s he had developed heart problems, which ultimately led to the saddening and untimely demise of one of country music's most unforgettable legends.
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There's a robust, intelligent tone to this action remake that makes it continually intriguing, even if it's never properly exciting. The problem is that the characters are far too simplistic for us to care about, with moral dilemmas that are extremely cut and dried. Because the premise deals with several provocative themes, it wouldn't have taken much work to beef up the screenplay.
Set in the near future when American military robots patrol the world but are outlawed at home, the story centres on Omnicorp boss Sellars (Keaton), who is determined to sell his robots to the US market as police enforcers. So he decides to get around the law by putting a man inside a robot, drafting seriously injured Detroit cop Murphy (Kinnaman) as his guinea pig. Doctor Norton (Oldman) does an amazing job, building a machine around Murphy with extremely high technical capabilities. But Murphy can't help but worry about his wife (Cornish) and son, and he's obsessed with revenge over his attempted murder. So Norton is forced to use chemicals to suppress his emotions.
In other words, Murphy is actually more machine than man now, and operates at the whim of Sellars and his media spokesperson (Ehle), marketing nerd (Baruchel) and a rabid TV host (Jackson) to manipulate the US Congress to change the law. This greedy corporation gives the film a bite of satire, as does the issue of America's rampant willingness to brutally suppress anyone outside its borders. But without even a shading of complexity, the plot feels predictable and, frankly, rather dull. It's fun to watch everything happen, but our pulse rates never rise at all.
Continue reading: RoboCop Review
When you qualify your movie as the "last" anything, a sequel seems a bit out of the question, but these new filmmakers have essentially relegated the 2010 original to a mere backstory. They have moved on from the video-cam format and the whole debunking premise to make a much more straightforward horror romp. And while it's packed with cliches, it heads full-speed into a final act that's jaw-droppingly bonkers enough to make this a guilty pleasure.
After the carnage of that farmhouse exorcism, Nell (Bell) is the only survivor. She's taken to a New Orleans halfway house with other battered women, who begin to teach her how to live her life after growing up in isolation. She still has a sense of her religious roots, but learns to enjoy pop music and even starts flirting with a cute handyman (Clark). Even though she wants to believe that her demon-possession wasn't real, it becomes apparent that maybe that previous exorcism didn't quite take. "A piece of him is still inside you," says an occult expert (Jensen), completely without irony. Indeed the demon is back with a vengeance, and he has something awful in mind.
Filmmaker Gass-Donnelly keeps the atmosphere tense, throwing in elements from every horror film in recent memory, including creepy masked figures, staticky broadcasts, insidious phone calls, buzzing houseflies and even a sassy psychic (Riggs). The soundtrack is full of creep-out noises, while the images are intercut with flickers of the previous film. But all of this is done in that bland Hollywood style that makes us jump without actually freaking us out. Thankfully, the film has Bell on board to deliver a performance much better than the movie deserves: she's genuinely unsettling as the tormented innocent.
Continue reading: The Last Exorcism Part II Review
Rapper-turned-actor-turned-filmmaker RZA is clearly influenced by cohorts Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth as he indulges in this crazed pastiche of 1970s kung fu action romps. It's energetic and often quite funny, but far too silly to come together properly, mainly because he never adds any sense of post-modern wit. If the action scenes were more coherent, it at least could have been a guilty pleasure.
In a 19th century Chinese village, an American ex-slave (RZA) is known only as Blacksmith, forging weapons for gang members to raise the money to buy his girlfriend Lady Silk (Chung) from the local brothel's Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu). But their fate is caught up in a battle for power after the patriarch of the Lion clan is murdered and the swaggering Silver Lion (Mann) challenges rightful heir Zen Li (Yune). After a vicious attack by Silver Lion's muscled henchman Brass Body (Bautista), Zen Li is rescued by Blacksmith. And they get help from Englishman Jack Knife (Crowe) to fight Silver Lion and his thugs.
The title refers to something that happens about halfway in, when Blacksmith forges new arms for himself after being attacked by Silver Lion for helping Zen Li. This sets the stage for an orgy of metal-on-metal battling (there are also bronze and copper characters), leading to a clattering showdown between Blacksmith and Brass Body, who for some inexplicable reason can morph his body into, yes, brass. As such a wild fantasy, it's not surprising that the plot makes so little sense, although a bit more genuine character depth would have helped hold our interest.
Continue reading: The Man With The Iron Fists Review
It's the mid-1970s at a proper boys' prep school in DC, and Kline's Hundert encounters his first splash in the face with the cold water of life outside revered academia when he meets the father of a mischievous underachieving student. The stern dad, a brash U.S. senator, scolds Hundert: "You will not mold my son, I will mold my son". With a dose more sympathy for the kid, Hundert befriends him and watches him turn into a studying machine.
Continue reading: The Emperor's Club Review
And so we go back to 1991, where haggard spy Nathan Muir (Redford) is retiring from The Agency, but wouldn't ya know it -- that very day, his old protégé Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) has gotten captured on a mission in Eastern China. And Tom is going to be executed -- when? In 24 hours, of course. And the CIA isn't going to save him. In fact, they're trying to paint him as a crazy renegade unaffiliated with the U.S.
Continue reading: Spy Game Review
Going in to this movie, I knew full well it was, well, a movie about cheerleading, so I wasn't expecting another American Beauty (which, now that I think of it, was partly about cheerleading, but anyway...). Suffice it to say that my expectations were low. And sure enough, Bring It On is an utterly vapid film with horrendous character development, hackneyed dialogue, and a questionable theme. No surprise there. Essentially it is Fame in short skirts.
Continue reading: Bring It On Review
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Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...
I Saw The Light is the new biopic about Hank Williams. The film follows his...
Hank Williams was one of the most iconic country stars America has ever seen, moving...
There's a robust, intelligent tone to this action remake that makes it continually intriguing, even...
When you qualify your movie as the "last" anything, a sequel seems a bit out...
Rapper-turned-actor-turned-filmmaker RZA is clearly influenced by cohorts Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth as he indulges...
There's an old cheap saying that goes "those who can, do; those who can't, teach"....
There's a point about 35 minutes into Bring It On where you suddenly realize you're...