Harriet Lauler knows that she is in the twilight years of her life, and has had a long time to contemplate her legacy as a successful entrepreneur after she's gone. She's not willing to leave the writing of her obituary to chance, and so enlists the help of a the obituary writer at the Bristol Gazette Anne Sherman to write it the way she wants. Anne tracks down a bunch of people from Harriet's life to get a taste of the sort of woman she was - unfortunately, no-one appears to have a single nice thing to say about her. Harriet is determined to touch someone's life in an important way before she goes and visits a youth centre to get started. It's there she meets an adorable, street-smart young girl named Brenda who she employs as her 'intern' when she decides to become a DJ at the local radio station. The more Anne gets to know this woman, however, the more she finds her own life being changed by her new friend.
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After spectacularly losing a local spelling bee as a youngster, the now 40-year-old Guy Trilby is determined to go back and change it. Having developed his spelling ability substantially over the decades, he decides to enter the National Quill Spelling Bee after discovering a loophole which states that anyone past the 8th grade cannot compete. Having given up on academic achievement before he passed 8th grade, the contest's judges struggle to deny him the opportunity to compete despite arrant fury from parents of potential winners who believe that his age now gives him an advantage. Initially rude and insulting towards his pre-pubescent competitors, he soon starts to develop a friendship with Chaitainya; an enthusiastic young boy with no friends who Guy takes under his wing. However, not everyone's happy with what Guy ends up teaching Chaitainya about the world.
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Guy Trilby is a 40-year-old man who dropped out of high school as a young boy and remains bitter about losing a spelling bee. Thus, now older and wiser, he finds a way to enter the National Quill Spelling Bee by abusing a loophole which states that anyone past the 8th grade cannot compete. As he abandoned his studies before passing 8th grade, he decides that he has every right to qualify for the competition, to the annoyance of entrants' parents and contest officials alike as, of course, his age gives him an unfair advantage despite his educational failures. Along the way he meets a young boy named Chaitainya who appears to have no friends his own age and who Guy Trilby gladly takes under his debauched, f-word riddled wing.
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There's an intriguing true story buried inside this overly structured drama, and by playing by simplistic screenwriting rules the filmmakers make everything trite and predictable. Fortunately, the cast is much better than the material, and they bring their characters to life with jaggedly engaging interaction and some resonant emotion.
The story centres on Sam (Pine), a fast-talking New York salesman who is in big trouble professionally. So when his estranged father dies in Los Angeles, it gives him a chance to escape. He heads off to see his mother (Pfeiffer) and find out what he has inherited. But the lawyers hand him a bag of cash that he has to give to smart 11-year-old Josh (D'Addario), whose barmaid mother Frankie (Banks) is the half-sister Sam never knew he had. Without revealing his identity, he worms his way into Frankie and Josh's life. But the Feds are catching up with him, and Frankie is about to learn who he really is.
This is one of those films that hinges completely on the characters' inability to talk to each other. So one honest conversation at the beginning would make this a very short movie! But no, the screenwriters force everything into an unnatural formula that completely undermines the genuinely interesting things going on. Even so, the actors manage to hold our interest, mainly due to some terrific chemistry. At the centre, Pine nicely holds his own in scenes with the wonderful Pfeiffer and Banks, while D'Addario proves to be a young actor to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, side characters add texture, most notably Duplass as a neighbour with the hots for Frankie, and Wilde as Sam's frazzled girlfriend.
Continue reading: People Like Us Review
Sam is a successful salesman in his twenties who is dire need of a plan after he loses an $84,000 sale to debt. The loss comes at the same time he is informed of his estranged record producing father's sudden death. After reluctantly flying home to LA for the funeral, he is informed that his father left him $150,000 that he must deliver to his long lost sister Frankie who he never knew even existed, and her difficult pre-teen son Josh. Sam develops a close bond with Frankie and Josh and is shocked to learn that his father left Frankie's mother to be with his own mother.
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Young journalist Adam (Gordon-Levitt) is shocked to discover that his sore back is actually a rare tumour twithonly aa 50 percent survival rate. His girlfriend (Howard) promises to stick by him, best pal Kyle (Rogen) offers support, even as he uses Adam's illness to get girls, and Adam's mother (Huston) can't help but offer too much help. But he develops an awkward rapport with inexperienced therapist Katie (Kendrick) that actually does some good. And as his treatment sucks the life out of him, he finds two new friends in his fellow patients (Hall and Frewer).
Continue reading: 50/50 Review
Whatever else may be said, this film is the work of consummate professionals, and that doesn't mean it's soulless but competent hackwork. Writer/director Paul Weitz showed with his wonderful, glowing adaptation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy that he could tell heartwarming stories that didn't insult the mind and could inject just enough acidity into a romance to keep a movie from flopping into a messy, Love, Actually-style mess. The directing and writing here are superbly crisp, and one really couldn't ask for better performances, both from the stars and supporting cast.
Continue reading: In Good Company Review
Now the studios have commissioned a straight-ahead remake.After all, why go to the bother of writing new stories, or for that matter,coming up with material for another sequel? This way no one needs to thinkof anything at all.
Written by Scott Kosar (the 2003 "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"remake), the new "Amityville Horror" begins in 1974 with a flashbackto the catalyst murders, steeped in darkness and lit by intermittent, flickeringflashes of lightning.
A year later, the Lutz family moves into the creepy housewith the big eye-like windows. George (RyanReynolds) is the second husband of Kathy (MelissaGeorge), who has three children from a previous marriage.
Continue reading: The Amityville Horror Review
Lars von Trier's peculiar compulsion to humiliate his heroines (and by extension the actresses who play them) has finally crescendoed to a deafening din of indiscriminate, exasperating martyrdom in "Dogville," a daring experiment in heightened performance and minimalist filmmaking that is fatally undermined by the Danish writer-director's conceit as a narrator.
His last four movies ("Breaking the Waves," "The Idiots," "Dancer in the Dark" and now "Dogville") have all dealt largely with the psychological (and sometimes physical) torture of vulnerable female protagonists. While his storytelling and cinematic style are almost always compelling, he's never seemed so arbitrary in his sadism than in this allegory of a beautiful, 1930s flapper fugitive hiding from the mob in a ragged, remote, austere Colorado mountain hamlet, where the tiny populace goes from distrustful to accepting to maliciously cruel on little more than von Trier's say-so.
Played with discernible dedication by Nicole Kidman, Grace is a porcelain enigma of self-flagellation so determined to escape some kind of shadowy past that, in exchange for the skeptical township's shelter, she agrees to indentured servitude -- doing handy work, favors and manual labor one hour a day in each of the seven households. She gradually comes earn the friendship of all -- even those most reluctant to accept her.
Continue reading: Dogville Review
A wonderfully ambitious, old-school ensemble piece, very much in the can-do spirit of the community to which it pays homage, "Cradle Will Rock" is a politically-undertoned dramedy about theater, censorship, ambition, apprehension, oppression, Orson Welles and the Great Depression.
Written and directed by Tim Robbins -- never one to shy away from cause-fueled entertainment -- this passionate labor of love celebrates and fictionalizes a legendary moment in American theater, when the government shut down the performance of a musical produced by the Works Progress Administration -- and the actors, at the risk of losing their jobs during the bleakest economic season in U.S. history, staged it anyway in a show of inspiring solidarity.
The play was entitled "The Cradle Will Rock" and its story of a greedy industrialist taken down by the organized working man made a lot of federal bureaucrats see red -- as in communism.
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