Years ago, two brothers lived on the wrong side of the law. When James (Hayden Christensen) was set to go to jail, his brother Frankie (Adrien Brody) took the fall instead. Now, James has turned his life around and is preparing to launch his own legitimate business. When Frankie is released from jail, he fall back in with the wrong crowd, and ends up homeless and desperate for money. With so much debt to his brother, James is forced to stray back into the criminal underworld to pull of the heist to end all heists, and hopefully get his brother onto the right track once this is all over.
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Shamelessly crowd-pleasing, this warmly engaging film is based on a remarkable true story. And since it's topped off by Chris O'Dowd's most engaging performance yet (which is saying a lot), resistance is futile. Surprisingly for a comedy, there are also some startlingly serious moments along the way, as the film touches on racial issues and war violence without getting too heavy.
It's set in 1968, which was just as turbulent in Australia as in America and Europe. In the rural Outback, music promoter Dave (O'Dowd) is looking for new talent while slowly pickling himself in alcohol. Then he discovers three sisters - Gail, Cynthia and Julie (Mailman, Tapsell and Mauboy) - who can actually sing. They call themselves the Cummeraganja Songbirds, but as Aboriginals they're shunned by bigoted white society. So Dave takes them on, giving them a crash-course in soul and helping them secure a gig singing for the troops in Vietnam. Joined by their lighter-skinned cousin Kay (Sebbens), they head into the war zone rebranded as The Sapphires.
Where this goes is both hilarious and unexpectedly intense, and credit should go to the filmmakers for resisting the usual movie structures. Everything comes and goes as it would on the frontline of battle: romances begin and end without big movie climaxes, people are suddenly separated and there isn't time to get too melodramatic even in life-or-death situations. Meanwhile, the filmmakers also stir in an underlying current exploring the civil rights protests of the period in both the US and Australia. All of this adds up to a breezy, enjoyable journey with serious points along the way. And a lot of fabulous music.
Continue reading: The Sapphires Review
Four indigenous Australian women, sisters Gail, Cynthia and Julie and their cousin Kay, are ambitious country and western musicians in 1968 that set out to become stars in the wake of a political bill that increased the rights of the Aborigine people. Following a singing contest in rural Australia, a whiskey drinking Irish musician Dave Lovelace sees their potential and sets out to turn the girls into soul singing global sensations. Although apprehensive at first, the group (known as The Sapphires) soon begin to warm to Lovelace, especially when he manages to secure them a gig performing for US soldiers in Vietnam. It soon becomes a life-changing journey for them as they learn the true importance of friendship, family and bravery.
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Nicolas Cage plays Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas entertainer disguising his true abilities with a cheesy stage show. FBI Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) has decided that the best way to stop a smuggled nuclear bomb from detonating somewhere in the U.S. is to use Johnson's talent for prognostication. Never mind the fact that he can only see two minutes into the future, giving her a very brief window in which to act if he were to see the bomb. That's about the level of logic at which this film operates.
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A thinly veiled biopic of 50 Cent's road to gangsta rap success, Get Rich or Die Tryin' is at times a wildly successful portrait of human perseverance and at others a weakly plotted study in cinematic cliché.
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