Based on real events, this sharply well-made film shifts from a rather light-hearted comedy into a horrific thriller. And it feels unnervingly natural as it does so. Where this goes is a bit relentless in its exploration of the darkest aspects of human capabilities, but it's also bracingly truthful. At the same time, it shows the enduring value of an experiment that seemed to go perilously wrong.
In Northern California in 1971, a group of 24 university students respond to a newspaper advert asking for participants in a psychological experiment. On the toss of a coin, organiser Dr Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) divides the young men into guards and inmates, and places them in a makeshift prison where they can be observed. And things start to turn nasty very quickly, as guard Christopher (Michael Angarano) targets snarky prisoner 8612 (Ezra Miller) for extra punishment. The guards also turn on the especially vulnerable 819 (Tye Sheridan). And when the inmates revolt, Zimbardo allows the guards to carry on with their increasingly harsh discipline. But Zimbardo's girlfriend Christina (Olivia Thirlby), herself a psychologist, worries that the situation has gone too far.
It's intriguing, and perhaps obvious, that it had to be a woman who saw through a scenario that had become little more than an out-of-control expression of masculinity. Even more telling, Zimbardo and his team became part of the experiment themselves, as they allowed and were fascinated by the abuse heaped on the prisoners by play-acting guards who let the power go to their heads. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez (C.O.G.) shoots this in an unusually stripped-down style that gives the film a documentary tone. This low key approach means that the pacing sometimes feels draggy, as the intensely internalised suspense cycles around and around again. But what this is revealing about human behaviour is invaluable, and seriously terrifying.
Continue reading: The Stanford Prison Experiment Review
For X-Men: Apocalypse, several new young actors joined the ensemble and were forced to hit the ground running alongside their more experienced costars.
Jennifer Lawrence said the newcomers weren't given an easy start: "They really get punched and beaten like the rest of us." To which James McAvoy responds that "they gave as good as they got as well. That's cool." Newcomers to the cast have likened the film to a summer camp where everyone hangs out together both on set and off. "We did everything together," says Sophie Turner, who joined the ensemble as Jean Grey. "Everybody plays together. We had a cast coordinator that organised events for us to go to, so it was like a bonding experience."
This made it easier for her to work on creating a character. And talking with Famke Jansson, who played Jean in the first X-Men trilogy, helped. "The difference between this and Famke's Jean Grey," Turner says, "is that she's young, insecure and very alienated, even from the other mutants, because she's so powerful. She's also going through all the hormones and the boys and the stuff that every teenager goes through. Being a mutant ain't easy! So there's a real vulnerability to her, and it's great to see how she and Scott [Tye Sheridan as Cyclops] find each other through that alienation. She's a great role to play."
Continue reading: Sophie Turner And Tye Sheridan Dove Into X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men Apocalypse comes as the ninth instalment in the X-Men film series and stars Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy as Raven and Professor X. The X-Men are made up of a subspecies of humans that are born with superhuman abilities and are able to perform acts that are considered not normal for the average human.
Continue: X-Men Apocalypse Trailer
This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The Last Stand, the final part in the original X-Men trilogy: it shifts the focus from character detail and social commentary into a more standard effects-heavy action brawl. There's still a lot of strong character detail, and a big story that can't help but be entertaining. But it's impossible to escape the feeling that the film's scale is far bigger than it needed to be.
It's now 1983, and while Professor X (James McAvoy) works with Hank (Nicholas Hoult) to set up his school for young mutants, his old friend and nemesis Erik (Michael Fassbender) has started a family in a rural corner of Poland. But he can't hide forever. Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is roaming the world helping mutants where she can, meeting the teleporting Kurt (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in Berlin before heading to Cairo. There, CIA operative Moira (Rose Byrne) has just uncovered a bizarre underground cult that has revived the ancient super-mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who immediately sets out on a quest to cleanse the planet and start over again. He needs four assistants, and the question is which of the X-Men will go over to the dark side.
This is the third comic book movie in a row about superheroes fighting each other, after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. And it's similarly enormous (all three films are around two-and-a-half hours long), with mammoth battles that don't quite make logical sense but are compelling enough that the audience goes with them. This film has a bit more emotional depth, including back-stories that have been developed with unusual complexity. But some characters fall through the cracks.
Continue reading: X-Men: Apocalypse Review
Ewan McGregor is cast as both Jesus and the devil in this imagined chapter which depicts Jesus' journey during the period of his 40 days of fasting and praying in the desert. In this American Drama film Jesus has to battle with the binary oppositions of good vs evil whilst existing in a state of desperation as he has only been surviving on water and praying. He comes in to contact with the Devil and becomes taunted by him as he wants him to make a decision over a family that are in a crisis.
Continue: Last Days In The Desert Trailer
Mutants and humans alike are familiar with the story of Apocalypse, he was the first mutant and began harnessing his power in ancient times. Now, millions of years after his reign, Apocalypse is reborn and finds himself in the middle of a modern society and shocked by the direction both human and mutant life has taken.
Feeling there are few options left, Apocalypse calls on the help of Magneto and a group of other mutants to help 'cleanse' the earth of all the citizens who have contributed to its downfall. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse - headed by Magneto - start to wreak havoc around the world and it looks like the X-Men's attempts to save it are all but lost - especially when their team is badly hurt by the loss of one member.
Meet the stars taking over the helm in the X-Men universe.
Bryan Singer has announced the actors who will play younger versions of the three most famous mutant superheroes in X-Men: Apocalypse. The director revealed the news on Twitter - and there was a nice surprise for fans of HBO's all-conquering Game of Thrones.
Sophie Turner is joining the X-Men world and will play Jean Grey in Apocalypse.
Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on the show, will take over the role of Jean Grey - originally played by Famke Janssen. Turner's Thrones co-star Peter Dinklage played the villain in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Continue reading: Introducing, The Latest Stars Of 'X-Men: Apocalypse'
Set for US release next week, 'Joe' sees Nicolas Cage in a critically-lauded new role.
Next week will see the release of new Nicolas Cage movie Joe in the USA, whilst the UK will have to wait a little bit longer. Before you greet that news with a groan and flashbacks to 2009's Knowing, hear this: with the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Special Award and the Marcello Mastroianni Award from the 2013 Venice Film Festival under its belt, this gritty, David Gordon Green-directed drama is currently sitting at a delectable 84% on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Nicolas Cage Makes A Critically-Lauded Return To Form In The Dark & Doomy 'Joe.'
Cage takes centre-stage as the titular ex-convict who makes his living in a backwater town poisoning trees to make way for illegal logging companies. This is just a small part of the film however, as Joe's relationship with the 15 year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan) and his wranglings with Gary's abusive father (Gary Poulter) takes precedence in this dark and doomy tale.
Watch the 'Joe' trailer with Nicolas Cage below.
Having spent the majority of his life in and out of prison due to violent episodes, Joe (Nicolas Cage) is finally on the straight and narrow with a steady job and a place to live. That is until young Gary (Tye Sheridan) comes along and asks him for a job. He then has to fight the urge to get involved in this kid’s life, which is easier said than done while his abusive father still reigns supreme.
Nicholas Cage and Tye Sheridan in 'Joe'
The early hype surrounding this David Gordon Green–directed 'Joe' centres on Cage’s performance, which as been described as his best yet. It certainly is a departure from the action/black comedy stuff he’s been used to lately, and represents a change of pace for the oft joked-about actor.
Continue reading: Nicolas Cage Struggles With His Conscience In 'Joe' - [Trailer]
Joe Ransom is an ex-convict who's been inside several times for his violent behaviour. Now trying to keep out of trouble, he takes on a new job - but going straight is more difficult than it first appears when he finds himself desperate to protect the people he cares about. He meets a 15-year-old boy named Gary, who's just moved into town with his family and is looking for a job. Joe agrees to take him on but soon discovers that he's not the only one struggling to get through life. After witnessing Gary's drunken father beating him, he's desperate to step in and help, but knows a confrontation will only lead to another lengthy stretch in jail. When Gary's family issues escalate, however, Joe can't help but lay his life down for that boy's family - but just how far will he take it this time?
'Joe' is a touching drama about redemption and the concept of right and wrong and is based on the 1991 novel of the same name by Larry Brown. It has been directed by David Gordon Green ('Eastbound & Down', 'Pineapple Express', 'George Washington') with a screenplay adapted by Gary Hawkins ('The Rough South of Harry Crews'). Having won the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Special Award and the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, 'Joe' is scheduled to be released in UK cinemas on July 25th 2014.
Nicolas Cage is back where he belongs; making award-worthy films whilst giving his usual award-worthy performances
Nicolas Cage is back flirting with the big acting awards following his most recent performance in the film Joe. In Joe, Cage plays a role not too dissimilar to his 1995 Oscar-winning performance as Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas, only this time Nic has taken a completely different approach to his method of acting, an approach that some critics claim has paid off in a big way.
Nicolas Cage attends the premiere of Joe at the 70th Venice Film Festival
Continue reading: Nicolas Cage Returns To Oscar Contention Status With 'Joe'
Writer-director Nichols continues to get inside the heads of his characters with this involving but overlong dramatic thriller. Like his previous film Take Shelter, this is another fable-like movie, this time harking back to Huck Finn with a boys' adventure story set on the waterways of rural Arkansas. It's impeccably shot and edited, with terrific performances even from side characters. But at over two hours, the long running-time tries our patience.
Our hero is Ellis (Sheridan), a shy but steely 14-year-old who dreams of one day escaping his backwoods community. For entertainment, he explores the rivers with his pal Neckbone (Lofland), and when they hear rumours of a boat stranded in a tree, they have to investigate. Sure enough, there it is, then inside it they discover the fugitive Mud (McConaughey). Even though he's wanted for murder, they decide to help free the boat so he can escape with his battered girlfriend Juniper (Witherspoon), who's hiding in a local motel. But Ellis and Neckbone need some help with this elaborate plan, so they turn to the scary old man (Shepard) who lives across the river.
Cinematographer Adam Stone beautifully captures both the evocative settings and the expressive faces of the actors, who all bring an introspective touch to their characters. Sheridan and Lofland are excellent in the lead roles, which are pretty demanding as these two teens have to grow up quickly. And McConaughey and Witherspoon dive fully into their much flashier roles, constantly surprising us with sparky details that take these people in unexpected directions. There's also a telling smaller role for Nichols' regular Shannon as Neckbone's haunted, sidelined guardian.
Continue reading: Mud Review
Ellis and Neckbone are two young boys from Mississippi who spend their time exploring the wilderness and river near their home. When they discover a sizeable motor boat stuck in a tree after a flood, they think they've hit the jackpot of all discoveries and claim it as their own. However, they soon notice that food has been left there, leading them to believe that someone has been sleeping there. Unnerved, they leave to find their boat and venture home, only to come across a new neighbour on the isolated island, Mud. Mud is hiding from some bounty hunters who want to arrest him for killing a man in Texas who attempted to steal his girlfriend Juniper. Initially, wary of him, the boys soon warm to him and agree to bring him food if he helps them mend their motor boat before Juniper arrives to meet him. However, things aren't as easy as they seem when the boys start becoming suspicious of Mud and Juniper has problems of her own.
Continue: Mud - Clips
Ellis and Neckbone are two fourteen year old boys from Mississippi who, after crossing a river in a small boat on one of their regular explorations, discover a larger motor boat stuck in a tree on an island after a previous flood. They claim the boat as their own but soon begin to discover that someone has been sleeping there and they come across Mud. Mud is a man who has been hiding from a group of bounty hunters who have been hired by the family of a man he murdered in Texas for attempting to steal his beautiful girlfriend Juniper. The boys are sympathetic and captivated by him and agree to help him mend the boat while he makes plans to meet Juniper, who is hiding out in a motel, and run away with her. Things don't go as smoothly as planned and deceptions and suspicion causes tensions to rise between Mud, Juniper and the boys.
'Mud' is an emotional journey tackling issues about right and wrong and good guys and bad guys. It has been directed and written by Jeff Nichols ('Take Shelter', 'Shotgun Stories') and received a last minute nomination for the Palme d'Or award on its showing at the Cannes Film Festival. It is set to hit cinemas on April 17th 2013.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Continue: Mud Trailer
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