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A missed opportunity, this European action romp begins with a terrific premise but never quite makes anything of it. Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander certainly knows how to make a sharp, snappy action-comedy (see Rare Exports), but this script is badly compromised by simplistic plotting and gags that go for the easiest target every time. Which leaves the actors looking like they're standing around waiting for something interesting to happen. And it leaves the audience feeling badly let-down.
It opens as 13-year-old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is sent into the mountainous Finnish wilderness to prove his manhood by hunting down a stag all by himself. His father (Jorma Tommila) isn't hugely confident, but wishes him well. Meanwhile, preening terrorist Hazar (Mehmet Kirtulus) has just shot down Air Force One as it flew overhead. As the plane goes down, the US President (Samuel L. Jackson) boards his escape pod, and the first person he meets on the ground is a gob-smacked Oskari. Together, they set out to get to safety while escaping the tenacious thugs who are after the President. And officials at the Pentagon (including Jim Broadbent, Victor Garber and Felicity Huffman) are watching everything unfold by satellite, while the President's security chief (Ray Stevenson) leads the ground party.
The set-up is great, and offers plenty of scope for both over-the-top action sequences and Home Alone-style mayhem, but Helander never quite settles on a tone, perhaps because the 13-year-old hero demands a PG-13 sensibility that undermines any chance of proper black comedy. Yes, there's plenty of violent destruction, but it's cartoonish rather than clever, so the film feels silly rather than exhilarating. Jackson is clearly having a lot of fun as the annoyed President, adding some gravitas to his usual action-hero persona while delivering his requisite snarky one-liners. But Helander never quite finds anything new for him to do. And young Tommila looks far too serious all the way along.
Continue reading: Big Game Review
John Ridley's show stars Felicity Huffman.
John Ridley's new drama American Crime premieres on Thursday (March 5) on the back of a wave of fanfare. The series follows the aftermath of a murder in California when war veteran Matt Skokie is killed during a home invasion. It uses the legal system to explore complex issues, of race, class and gender politics though the lenses of the victims and suspect's families.
Felicity Huffman [L] and Timothy Hutton [R] at the American Crime premiere
The show stars Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton and W. Earl Brown and has received critical acclaim ahead of its premiere.
Continue reading: Is John Ridley's 'American Crime' The Best New Drama On TV?
Jennifer Aniston delivers an Oscar-calibre performance in this rather over-worked drama, which tries to emphasise heavy-handed metaphors more than the characters themselves. But it's an involving personal odyssey thanks to Aniston's honest acting, and Daniel Barnz's sensitive direction manages to dodge most of the script's more glaring pitfalls.
Aniston plays Claire, a woman who has been in continual pain, both emotional and physical, following the car accident that claimed the life of her young son. Revelling in her bitter sarcasm, she has alienated her husband (Chris Messina), driven her physiotherapist (Mamie Gummer) to despair and so enraged her therapy leader (Felicity Huffman) that she's been thrown out of the group. The only person who patiently sticks by her side is her maid/assistant Silvana (Adriana Barazza), and she's beginning to waver. Then Nina (Anna Kendrick), a therapy-group member, commits suicide, making Claire question why she's still bothering to be alive. There has to be a spark of hope there, and she decides to stalk Nina's single-dad widower Roy (Sam Worthington) for answers.
While the premise seems to set up the usual story about two damaged souls healing each other, the story thankfully doesn't go down that tired route. Instead, Patrick Tobin's script keeps the interaction prickly and unexpected, even as it layers in so much symbolism that it becomes rather exhausting. Claire's physical scarring is clearly indicative of something deeper, as is her array of cruel defence mechanisms. Thankfully, Aniston plays these scenes with a mixture of black comedy and aching sadness that makes the character thoroughly involving and only slightly likeable. Her interaction with Barraza is the heart of the film, beautifully played because their connection remains mainly unspoken. By contrast, Worthington feels almost superfluous; he sharply matches Aniston's cynicism, but is too nice to register very strongly.
Continue reading: Cake Review
12 points down in the polls, the President of the United States of America (Samuel L. Jackson) is flying over Finland in Air Force One - aware of the fact that his own party is out to get him. However, when a sudden missile threat is discovered, the President is forced to evacuate by the suspicious Morris (Ray Stevenson). As the President evacuates, Morris also jumps from the plane, watching as it explodes in the air. The President finds himself on the ground with Oskari (Onni Tommila), a young boy out to prove himself as a hunter. Yet there is now far greater game to be hunted in the Finnish forests, as Morris is hunting the President himself.
Continue: Big Game Trailer
Claire Bennett is struggling to get through day-to-day life despite her buffet of pills, one-on-one medical support and the Women's Chronic Pain Support Group she regularly attends. She is forced to cope with the heart-breaking break-up of her relationship but becomes deeply obsessed with the suicide of Nina Collins, another woman from the support group. In a bid to learn more about her death and, indeed, her life, she persuades the group leader to pass on Nina's address. It's then she meets her widower Roy with whom she strikes up a significant relationship, with both of them dealing with the loss of a loved one and their own brand of chronic pain. Meanwhile, Claire frequently experiences hallucinations of Nina, who slowly draws her towards normality and, perhaps, a happier life.
Continue: Cake Trailer
The upcoming action/adventure fill see Jackson portray the US President, and Tommila his young rescuer
Big Game might just be one of the more original action films to emerge in recent years, when the President of the United States of America (Samuel L. Jackson) teams up with a young Oskari (Onni Tommila) to take on the challenges of manhood and a terrorist threat all in 24 hours. We got our first look at the film this week, which wraps up after an eight week filming schedule in the Bavarian woods (and movie studios).
Jackson and Tommila attempt to find safety
Jalmari Helander's next feature length offering sees the young Oskari, alone in the woods on a traditional hunting mission meant to prove his maturity to his elders. Whilst tracking down deer, he inexplicably comes into contact with the most powerful man on Earth, concealed in his escape pod after an attack on Air Force One has brought it down into the wilderness. Stranded there, only the shy, thirteen-year-old can help the President back to civilisation, but the route back to safety isn't going to be an easy journey.
Two-and-a-Half Men is the show that forks out the most for its lead actors; last year Charlie Sheen topped Forbes' list of TV's Highest-Paid TV Actors list with $40m and this year its new lead Ashton Kutcher has taken over the prestigious spot, albeit with a decidedly smaller sum of just $26m.
Hugh Laurie for his role in 'House' and Ray Romano, for a now cancelled 'Men of a Certain Age' were runners up to Kutcher, each raking in $18m. We'd all be happy to plum for second place in this race. Aside from Laurie, it was entirely sitcom actors that scored the bigtime in this list, with stars of 30 Rock, Last Man Standing, Men, and The Big Bang Theory - Alec Baldwin, family favourite Tim Allen, Jon Cryer, and Jim Parsons and Alan Galecki, respectively, all managing to make it into the top ten.
However, as much as it's always great to celebrate in the successes of others, for women in the equivalent category, financial success seems to not be quite so easy. Sophia Vergara from Modern Family is this year's female top earner, but at just (ha! just?) $19m, she's lagging behind Kutcher by $7m! Plus, the genres in which these women find their careers is far more varied than men - still including comedy, but also drama, reality and medical dramas all find their way into the list. Desperate Housewives is one show that truly shows women multitasking, and Felicity Huffman and Eva Longoria, two stars of the show, both appear in the top ten. Although men still earn more than women, it seems the ladies can take the prize for versatility.
To some, it would be blasphemous to compare Marc Cherry's Desperate Housewives to the enjoyable but undeniably schlocky Melrose, but this I do freely and with confidence. For in my role as critical investigator, here of a series that has been doggedly examined, praised and awarded, I feel it necessary to uncover a home truth worthy of Susan, Bree, Lynette, and Gabrielle: Desperate Housewives is a phenomenal soap opera, but little more. This is not meant in any way as derision, merely clarification. Desperate Housewives has become an industry, something greater than a mere television series. But the zeppelin began as a balloon, and in watching the series en masse as the DVD format demands, one realizes the clever intrigue of writer Cherry's creation and the various actresses' characterizations, but fails to see perhaps why the Housewives industry has become so inflated.
Continue reading: Desperate Housewives: Season One Review
Raising Helen is all about Hudson, who stars in the title role, when it should focus on other topics -- the ties of family, coping with tragedy, and starting your life from scratch. The movie harps on how Helen's glamorous life is turned upside down when she is bequeathed her sister's three kids. The story should be on how hard it is for the kids, rather than Helen's bemoaning how fat her ass has gotten.
Continue reading: Raising Helen Review
As I write this, the time is 8:32 p.m. on Thursday, November 18, 2004, and I have just walked out on "Christmas With the Kranks" after roughly 45 minutes of mind-numbingly humorless, sit-com barrel-bottom idiocy.
An adaptation of John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas" that has been violently stripped of any semblance of humanity, this supposed comedy is about a couple called the Kranks (ha, ha, ha), played by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, whose daughter won't be home for Christmas, so they choose to bow out of the festivities altogether and take a cruise. But apparently their choice amounts to a social offense of the first order in the bogus, plot-device suburbia where the movie takes place (during a transparently bogus winter). It even makes the newspaper.
Soon an army of neighbors are beating down their door like some Yuletide Gestapo, angrily demanding they put up their seasonal decorations while Curtis inexplicably cowers inside like a child.
Continue reading: Christmas With The Kranks Review
Date of birth
9th December, 1962
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A missed opportunity, this European action romp begins with a terrific premise but never quite...
Jennifer Aniston delivers an Oscar-calibre performance in this rather over-worked drama, which tries to emphasise...
12 points down in the polls, the President of the United States of America (Samuel...
Claire Bennett is struggling to get through day-to-day life despite her buffet of pills, one-on-one...
We have reached the point where Lindsay Lohan's reputation eclipses her resume. The still-young actress,...
From the moment that Felicity Huffman comes on screen in Transamerica, with her rumbling voice...
The poster for Raising Helen features Kate Hudson, in a pose suited for a bearskin...
Like the honey-glazed ham around which so much of its story sadly revolves, Christmas with...
Sooner or later, every director makes his Short Cuts.Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) only waited...