With an ingenious concept, this fairly simple film becomes one of the most gripping thrillers of the year even though it rarely leaves a wood-panelled conference room. Since the 1960s, British officials have met to role-play various scenarios about how a global nuclear war might play out, with their findings going into the eponymous War Book. Watching this group go through a fictional scenario is riveting, because it offers striking insight into our precarious political system.
The film takes place during three 30-minute meetings over three days in 2014, as eight relatively low-level officials and one hapless Member of Parliament (Nicholas Burns) gather in a London boardroom. Philippa (Sophie Okonedo) chairs the meeting in the role of the home secretary, as her assistant (Phoebe Fox) reads a chilling brief about a nuclear bomb that Pakistan detonates in Mumbai. Playing the Prime Minister, Gary (Ben Chaplin) takes over, holding emergency votes on diplomacy, humanitarian aid and whether the UK should be quarantined to keep radiation sickness out. And as the situation deteriorates, differences of opinion begin to emerge around the table, most notably about the repercussions of joining with Britain's allies to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike.
For a movie that consists almost entirely of people sitting in a room talking, this is remarkably visual, never looking like a claustrophobic stage play. Director Tom Harper sends the camera prowling around the room, occasionally glimpsing normal life continuing outside the window. And in between the meetings, the people also have their regular jobs to deal with. Meanwhile, their dialogue is packed with biting humour, power plays, rivalries and some startlingly vivid emotions. While some interaction hinges on short, sharp verbal gymnastics, other segments require much closer attention as the conversations wander through lengthy discussions and anecdotes. The only scene that feels out of place is a pre-meeting encounter between Chaplin and Phoebe Fox that touches on the connection between power and sex.
Continue reading: War Book Review
Nine people from different walks of life who all work for the government are enlisted to take part in a 'scenario' based on decision-making in the event of a nuclear assault. They are given the notice that a nuclear warhead has been detonated in Mumbai, with deaths entering hundreds of thousands, and asked to make a decision on what to do next. It doesn't take long for Gary the 'Prime Minister' to plan a course of action and have his cabinet members vote for it, and when some of the group question whether or not they should be rushing decisions that could affect the lives of millions, it becomes clear that this task is one that some people are happy to take on with a pinch of salt. However, two people in the group understand that this isn't really a fake scenerio at all; it's very, very real and they have to put their social differences aside in order to come to the best course of action.
Continue: War Book Trailer
Cypher Raige is a renowned military general who finds himself and his frightened 13-year-old son Kitai in the middle of a deadly asteroid storm while on their aircraft on the way to their home planet Nova Prime to see their family. When they are hit, they end up crashing on to a dangerous and quarantined planet that is revealed to be Earth 1000 years after mankind was evacuated following a set of global disasters. Now it is almost entirely a jungle with savage evolved creatures roaming the land, but Kitai must brave the danger and remember that his fear is only in his mind as he treks into the wild to recover a distress beacon that he must use to call for help as his father is in a critical condition and close to death after being thrown across the ship in the crash. Little do they know that the unfamiliar new earthling species are not the only danger they must face as a brutal alien has now escaped onto the forgotten planet.
'After Earth' has had a string of different screenwriters working on it including director M. Night Shyamalan ('The Sixth Sense', 'Signs', 'The Last Airbender'), Stephen Gaghan ('Traffic', 'Rules of Engagement'), Gary Whitta ('The Book of Eli') plus additional dialogue from Michael Soccio who has previously worked with star Will Smith when he wrote four episodes of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'. This sci-fi adventure is set to hit cinemas in the UK from June 7th 2013.
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In 1965, the Laing family is caught in a loophole of the 1950 law prohibiting South Africans from living or studying with people of another racial group. The problem is that Sandra (Ramangwane then Okonedo) looks more black than her white parents Abraham and Sannie (Neill and Krige). Treated horribly by teachers in her all-white school and abused by strangers, The Laings go to court to officially classify Sandra as white. But this has repercussions when she falls in love with a black man (Kgoroge) and can't legally live with her husband or children.
Continue reading: Skin Review
Lily (Dakota Fanning) lives in rural South Carolina with her no-account abusive redneck daddy T. Ray (Paul Bettany) and the family housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). Her mother died when she was very young, and the circumstances have haunted the young girl ever since. When President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1964 into law, Rosaleen decides to register. In the process, she is assaulted, beaten, and arrested. In a moment of opportunity, she escapes the police, and takes Lily out on the run. They wind up in the care of the Boatwright sisters -- August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys), and May (Sophie Okonedo). Successful beekeepers, their safe haven gives Lily a chance to face the demons from the past and plot a course for the future.
Continue reading: The Secret Life Of Bees Review
Among the group is Susie Carter (Sophie Okonedo), who quickly reunites with her husband Ian (Chiwetel Ejiofor) but is devastated to learn their four-year-old daughter slipped out of her father's arms and has disappeared. Meanwhile, Kim Peabody (Gina McKee) has lost her husband but finds her teenage son horribly injured.
Continue reading: Tsunami: The Aftermath Review
Okwe (newcomer Chiwetel Ejiofor) works as a cab driver by day and a hotel desk clerk by night, regularly chewing addictive plant leaves to keep himself from dozing off. An illegal immigrant and former doctor who's arrived in London to flee political forces who sought his arrest in Nigeria, Okwe now resides on the couch of fellow hotel employee Senay (Amelie's Audrey Tautou), a Turkish maid whose legal immigrant status, in a puzzling twist that's never fully explained, prohibits her from being employed. The two social outcasts keep their friendship hidden from their fellow coworkers, each interested in blending into the environment like a chameleon changing spots to elude predators. In a city that eagerly makes use of immigrant labor, Okwe and Senay are the tattered fringe of society, forced to endure humiliation and unable to fight back for fear that their presence might be detected by the immigration police who constantly scour the city's underbelly. What's not mentioned, however, is that since Okwe is an illegal immigrant, he doesn't have any right being in London, and this near-sighted portrayal of his situation - one can assume that his life in London, no matter how difficult and unpleasant, is better than the life in Nigeria that he fled, although the film glosses over this fact - saps some of our sympathy for him.
Continue reading: Dirty Pretty Things Review
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