The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar standards, but the story and characters are thoroughly endearing. And the music is fabulous. As it follows a group of likeable animals through a variety of plots and adventures, there's plenty for everyone in the audience to connect with. So even if the climactic action mayhem gets a bit ridiculous, the movie keeps us laughing. And it also makes us want to get up on that stage and belt out a few numbers.
It's set in a city populated by animals. Buster (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) is a koala who has been obsessed with musical theatre since he saw the diva Nana (Jennifer Hudson then Jennifer Saunders) perform when he was a child. So he grew up and bought the theatre. Now with audiences waning, he stages a musical competition to save the theatre. In the auditions, he selects his finalists: anarchist porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson), jazzy mafioso mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane) and silky voiced gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton). He also teams up two pigs as a double-act: frazzled housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and German dancer Gunter (Nick Kroll). There's also golden-voiced elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), who's too shy to face the audience so takes a role backstage. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
The key conflict comes from Buster's frantic efforts to avoid bankruptcy, plus rather half-hearted action subplots involving a gang of bears and Johnny's criminally minded relatives. These generate quite a bit of tension that erupts into rather outrageously destructive slapstick along the way. More interesting are the personal journeys of the various contestants, especially as Ash, Meena and Johnny all discover their voices and Rosita finds inventive ways to balance her long-lost career with her role as a mother to 25 rambunctious piglets. Yes, the film is rather crowded with characters and storylines, and the animation looks plasticky, but everything comes together cleverly,
Continue reading: Sing Review
It's the 1970s and Captain James Conrad and Lieutenant Colonel Packard are leading a group of soldiers and explorers to a seemingly idyllic unmapped location in the Pacific.
Unfortunately, their journey requires some serious collateral damage, as they are forced to bomb the island and unwittingly incite the treacherous ire of Kong, the King of Skull Island. He crushes them - literally. That's what happens when you bomb the habitat of a giant ape. But soon they realise that Kong isn't the only outsize creature they have to fear, because the island is home to a group of demonic monsters as well, some that resemble spiders and others that resemble reptiles. Their only hope is to enlist the help of the island's inhabitants, tribal men and women who worship the great Kong but disapprove of the Americans' willingness to attack their home.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts ('The Kings of Summer'), 'Kong: Skull Island' is a re-imagining of the King Kong story, following him to his home on Skull Island where he first originated. The screenplay was written by Dan Gilroy and Max Borenstein, and filming spanned locations the likes of Hawaii, Australia's Gold Coast and Vietnam. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly, the film is scheduled to be released on March 10th 2017.
James Conrad is a British captain who leads an international envoy to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to charter some of Earth's most distant and mysterious lands. The captain is accompanied by a number of other members on the team including Randa, a government official who appears to know a few of the islands mysteries; a female photojournalist called Weaver who is known for her war photography; US Lieutenant Colonel Packard who is in charge of the UK troops who are also part of the mission.
As the vessel approaches the island, spirits are high and the team are ready to take choppers to the green land known as Skull Island. Soon their mission becomes disastrous as the inhabitants are far more feral than they could ever imagine. Equipped with guns, Ammunition and rocket launchers, the humans feel that they're able to overcome whatever may await them on the island but the truth is that they could never come face to face and beat the beast that awaits them.
Kong: Skull Island is the latest reboot of the King Kong story and it focusses on the start of the story originally told in 1933.
Continue: Kong: Skull Island Trailer
The 'Wreck It Ralph' sequel has a tentative release date of March 9th, 2018.
A sequel for the animated hit Wreck-It Ralph has been officially announced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, due to be released in 2018.
Director Rich Moore, who was in charge of the original movie that was a box office sensation in October 2012, confirmed that he was working on a follow-up during a live Facebook chat on Thursday (June 30th).
A still from 2012's 'Wreck-It Ralph'
Continue reading: 'Wreck-It Ralph 2' Confirmed For 2018
Japan's Studio Gibli has been responsible for some of the finest animated movies in recent decades, from 2003's Oscar-winning Spirited Away to last year's beautiful The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Now adapted by Disney with a starry Western voice cast, their films are reaching a wider audience. And this remarkably moving drama shows how complex an animated movie should be, skilfully grappling with grown-up themes through a child's perspective.
The story comes from the Joan G. Robinson novel about Anna (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld in the English-language version), a 12-year-old who lives in Sapporo with her foster mother Yoriko (Geena Davis). But Anna isn't like the other giggly girls at school, and after an asthma attack, she moves to the countryside to live with Aunt Setsu and Uncle Kiyomasa (Grey Griffin and John C. Reilly). They give her plenty of space to explore the area, and when she spots an abandoned seaside mansion, she is unexpectedly drawn to it, befriending Marnie (Kiernan Skipka), the free-spirited girl who lives there. Anna understands that Marnie is an imaginary friend, then is surprised to find Marnie's diary hidden behind a bookshelf in the rambling house.
The twisty plot incorporates a range of elements that keep the audience off-balance: Is this a ghost story? Is Anna mentally unstable because of her difficult background? But the film is much deeper than that, and as Anna takes a fiercely original journey to self-discovery, the film touches on all kinds of resonant themes. For example, Anna struggles with her self-image, never believing that she's a talented artist, although she clearly is. This has left her feeling like no one else likes her either. So it's both fascinating and moving to watch her blossoming relationships with both the young girl Sayaka (Ava Acres) and the older woman Hisako (Vanessa Williams) who paints by the seaside. Both offer emotional insight into Anna's story.
Continue reading: When Marnie Was There Review
Happily ever after wasn't always the way fairy tales turned out. Sometimes Princesses, Kings, Queens and their pretenders need to be careful what they wish for. The Queen of Longtrellis, The King of Highhills and The King of Strongcliff are three such people who would do anything to make their biggest dreams come true.
For the Queen of Longtrellis, all she's ever wanted is a child of her own but the king and queen haven't been able to conceive. Not willing to wait any longer, the queen consults a sorcerer who is able to grant the Queens wish at any price the enchanter wishes.
The King of Highhills was never blessed with a son, his daughter is his only living heir and invites his citizens to take part in a challenge to win the hand of his daughter. When a brute of a ogre wins his challenge, the princess is given away and begins a lonesome life with him in the mountains. However, despite the ogre abusing the slight girl, as each day passes, she becomes stronger and bides her time before the day that she can become the leader her Kingdom needs.
Continue: Tale Of Tales Trailer
From the legendary Academy Award-winning animation house Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Arrietty, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya), comes the haunting and touching tale When Marnie Was There. A beautiful story about ever-lasting friendship based on the beloved young adult novel of the same name by Joan G. Robinson. When Marnie Was There is another superb addition to Ghibli's well-loved catalogue, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature this year.
Buster Moon is one of the good guys, he's a koala who's lived his life for the theatre he loves. His sunny disposition is somewhat hindered at the thought of his once great and popular theatre being lost. In need of making money, Buster must come up with an idea to save his theatre - and if it can be helped, also encourage the animals of his home town also become enthusiastic about live entertainment.
Buster's secretary accidentally advertises a singing contest to the residents, the flyer explains that they're looking for a fantastic new talent and the winner of the competition will win 100,000 dollars! Buster finds his theatre is once again the centre of a bustling metropolis and goes ahead with the auditions.
There's a few standout performers including a mom who's life revolves around her 25 piglets, a gorilla who's trying to break away from a bad way of life and a small mouse who might be small but has all the wits and sneaky ambition of the other contestants combined!
Continue: Sing Trailer
'Stan & Ollie’ focuses on the legendary double act’s 1953 UK tour.
British actor Steve Coogan has been cast alongside John C. Reilly in a new biopic about legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. Coogan will play Stan Laurel, with Reilly taking the role of his partner Oliver Hardy. The film’s script has been penned by Jeff Pope, who worked with Coogan on Philomena and it will be directed by Filth's Jon S. Baird.
Steve Coogan has been cast as Stan Laurel in a new biopic.
Titled Stan & Ollie, the film will focus on the duo’s 1953 tour of UK variety halls and is described as an "emotional tribute to two of the funniest men in movie history,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. It is being developed by BBC Films and produced by Fable Pictures and Sonesta Films.
Continue reading: Steve Coogan And John C. Reilly To Star In Laurel And Hardy Biopic
The 'Get Hard' star was honoured for his contributions to comedy with a star on the legendary pavement on Hollywood Boulevard.
On the eve of the release of his latest movie Get Hard, Will Ferrell has been honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The unveiling ceremony took place on Tuesday on Hollywood Boulevard, and was attended by fellow comics John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon.
Reilly, who was Ferrell’s co-star in Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, led the speeches in front of the Hollywood Wax Museum, saying “maybe someday, in 50 years, people will look down on the sidewalk and say the things that we say today about some of these people: 'Who the f--- is this guy?’”
Will Ferrell was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Continue reading: Will Ferrell Honoured With Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Emerson College renames its journalism school after the Anchorman "legend."
The Anchorman sequel is almost here and if that's not exciting enough for you then the news that top Boston university, Emerson College, will temporarily rename its school of communication 'The Ron Burgundy School of Communication' will send you into full-blown, movie-quoting overdrive.
Smell That? It's 'Sex Panther' And It's Coming Our Way!
Indeed, It's exactly a month until Ron Burgundy, Brian Fantana, Brick Tamland and Champ Kind reunite for more debauched and bungling action. To celebrate the occasion, the prestigious Boston college will rename the school for one day only on the 4th December to honor the fictitious television anchorman, reports the AP.
Glenn Close will play a role similar to Samuel L Jackson's in The Avengers.
Well this is a surprising casting, though one that sort of makes a ton of sense. According to the Deadline.com, Marvel Studios has landed Oscar winning actress Glenn Close to play a major new role in its latest franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy. The actress will reportedly play a leadership role in Nova Corp, the intergalactic space control.
The new James Gunn-directed movie goes into production next month, so Marvel have left it late to cast what is essentially a major role. The movie already boasts a pretty decent looking cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker and John C. Reilly. Pratt landed the lead role following a search that included Marvel looking at Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Jim Sturgess and Eddie Redmayne.
Sources tell Deadline that Close's role will be the closest thing to the one that Samuel L. Jackson plays in The Avengers, though perhaps with more of an edge. Close has proven she can play the hardnosed character in the likes of Damages, Fatal Attraction and, err, 101 Dalmatians and we see her being a real hit in Guardians.
Continue reading: Glenn Close To Play Top Cop In Marvel's 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'
John C. Reilly, Alison Dickey and Grauman's Chinese Theatre - John C. Reilly, Alison Dickey Tuesday 6th November 2012 AFI Fest - 'Rust and Bone' - Gala Premiere at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre - Arrivals
John C. Reilly, Alison Dickey and Grauman's Chinese Theatre - John C. Reilly, Alison Dickey Monday 5th November 2012 AFI Fest - 'Rust and Bone' - Gala Premiere at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre - Arrivals
A turbulent week for U.S cinemas, for the East coast anyway, ended with the reopening of many theatres. What better way to dry off those Hurricane Sandy soaked souls than a trip to the movies? Here's our U.S Box Office roundup.
Shooting, collecting coins and levelling up to the top of the charts is Wreck It Ralph - Disney's videogame animation, which tells the tale of a villain with designs on a different role in life. With a hugely impressive $49m on its opening weekend, Wreck It Ralph has proved to be a tremendous success. And you can expect those figures to rise, as industry expects that return to swell to almost $200m before its run is out. With just over half that amount, Denzel Washington's latest project, Flight lands in with $25,01m. The critics have been kind this aviation flick, and don't be fooled by Wreck It Ralph's impressive haul; $25m is a healthy return for an opening weekend. Still going strong in its 4th week is Ben Affleck's Argo; the true story of a CIA extraction mission grabs the #3 spot with $10,245,000. Rapper turn director RZA breaks the top 5 with his debut behind-the-camera effort, The Man With The Iron Fists, which comes in at #4 with $8,219,200. The critically panned Taken 2 is at #5 with $6m - an impressive feat for a film in its 6th week, Liam Neesons thriller has amassed $125.7m so far.
Cloud Atlas continues its disappointing commercial performance by pulling in $5,250,000, making it #6, while Hotel Transylvania's Halloween appeal wears off at #7 with $4.5m. Paranormal Activity 4, Here Comes The Boom and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D round off the top 10, with $4.3m, $3.6m and $3.3m respectively. Figures compiled from Yahoo Movies.
Continue reading: US Box Office Roundup: Wreck It Ralph Is This Weekend's Hero
Since Toy Story set the precedent for animated movies, many have come, and many have succeeded in providing hours of fun for kids and adults alike. Disney's Wreck It Ralph seems no different, as we check out some reviews.
A video game character, the titular Wreck It Ralph - voiced by John C. Reilly - bemoans his villain status, and longs for the title of hero. It's a simple premise, and it looks like Disney have pulled it off. "The most inventive and entertaining family movie I've seen this year, packed with wickedly smart humor and joyful animation," say Time Magazine, in a wholly positive review. "Wreck-It Ralph is the latest in a rash of recent movies fired up with imaginative risk. Director Moore brings a video junkie's passion to the movie game, and it's hilariously infectious," write Rolling Stone, fully endorsing the animated flick. Film Geek Central were equally doting: "This is, without a doubt, the best animated film so far this year. It's a video game geek's paradise, featuring countless references to games from all eras," said Austin Kennedy in an excellent review. Perhaps MSN Movies say it best, when they say: "Wreck-it Ralph' is a serious contender for the title of best animated film of the year."
Negative thoughts were few and far between, but the main criticism of Wreck It Ralph is that some kids might not be able to connect with the in-jokes, but from what we've read, we think it'll be a hit for all ages. Go see it!
Continue reading: At The Movies: Wreck It Ralph Reviews
Disney’s latest animation, Wreck-It-Ralph, has been given the thumbs up by critics (most of them at least) and looks to make a big impact at the box office when it is released in cinemas worldwide.
The film sees video game baddy Ralph (John C. Reilly) as he grows tired of being overshadowed by his games hero; Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer). But after decades of doing the same thing day in day out and seeing all the glory go to Felix, Ralph decides it’s time for something new, time for him to become the hero. He then takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a game-hopping journey across the arcade through every generation of video games to prove he's got what it takes to be a hero.
Whilst some critics have been less than complimentary with their feedback, with the Washington Post complaining that the film “emphasizes action and eye-popping visuals over emotion” and the New York Post commenting that the film is to concentrated on “boring crashing and chasing and slapstick” (although admitting that “there are some brilliant flashes of wit” in the film) the majority of reviews have been mostly positive.
Continue reading: Wreck-It-Ralph Gets 1UP From Critics: Review Round-Up
Wreck-it Ralph, the new computer-animated comedy from Disney, has received storming reviews ahead of its release this week. The movie, featuring the voices of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, tells the story of an arcade game villain who rebels against his role as a 'baddie' and dreams of becoming a hero.
Noted critic Roger Ebert suggested Disney has got it right yet again, writing, "The art design and color palette of "Wreck-It Ralph" permit unlimited sets, costumes and rules, giving the movie tireless originality and different behavior in every different cyber word." Variety's Peter Debruge also showered the film with praise, writing, "There are a staggering number of rules governing the gameplay in Wreck-It Ralph, and one of the toon's greatest pleasures comes in how intuitively audiences discover those parameters as the story unfolds." As is often perfectly judged by Disney, family movies need to provide as much for adults as they do for children, (see Toy Story) and Justin Lowe of the Hollywood Reporter spoke of Wreck-It Ralph's ability to carry this off with aplomb. "With a mix of retro eye-candy for grown-ups and a thrilling, approachable storyline for the tykes, the film casts a wide and beguiling net," he wrote.
As has been widely reported, Disney completed its takeover of LucasFilm this week, signalling its intention to release several new Star Wars movies.
Continue reading: Wreck-It Ralph Appears To Be Disney's Latest Success Story
John C Reilly and Grauman's Chinese Theatre - John C. Reilly Hollywood, California - AFI Fest 2011 Premiere Of We Need To Talk About Kevin held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre Wednesday 9th November 2011
Alison Dickey, John C Reilly and Grauman's Chinese Theatre - Alison Dickey, John C. Reilly Hollywood, California - at the AFI Fest 2011 premiere of Carnage held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre Saturday 5th November 2011
Jodie Foster and John C Reilly - Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly New York City, USA - 49th Annual New York Film Festival opening night gala presentation of 'Carnage' - Arrivals Friday 30th September 2011
In Brown Valley, Wisconsin, Tim (Helms) is an earnest mid-30s insurance salesman in love with his 7th-grade teacher (Weaver), who's only using him for sex. Oblivious to the moral failings of people around him, Tim heads to an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, the biggest city he's ever seen. There his worldview is smashed by the outrageous antics of his colleagues, including party boy Dean (Reilly), married but flirty Joan (Heche) and repressed nice guy Ronald (Whitlock), as they all contend with insurance president Orin (Smith) for coveted Two Diamonds status.
Continue reading: Cedar Rapids Review
After seven years, John (Reilly) still hasn't got over the break-up of his marriage to Jamie (Keener), but now that she's marrying Tim (Walsh) he really should move on. At a party, he meets Molly (Tomei), an improbably hot woman who actually seems to like his goofy behaviour, and their relationship gets serious very quickly. But Molly's 21-year-old son Cyrus (Hill) isn't quite ready for his mother to settle down with another man and launches a silent campaign to scupper the romance.
Continue reading: Cyrus Review
Darren (Massoglia) is an A-student 16-year-old whose best pal Steve (Hutcherson) keeps getting him into trouble. When they hear about the underground Cirque du Freak, they can't resist a visit. There they meet ringmaster Mr Tall (Watanabe), bearded seer Truska (Hayek) a snake boy (Fugit), monkey girl (Carlson) and many more. But soon they're entangled with the show's star, vampire Crepsley (Reilly), and his mortal enemy Mr Tiny (Cerveris). And when Crepsley makes Darren a vampire, Steve gets so jealous that he joins the other side.
Continue reading: Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Review
It's no stretch to call Adam McKay's Step Brothers the year's stupidest film. Part of me feels bad labeling it as such, but then I remember that no movie boasting scenes of a grown man licking dog feces really wants to be taken seriously on any level.
Continue reading: Step Brothers Review
Now Conrad has directed his first feature, The Promotion, and he remains fascinated by the mechanics of everyday life -- more so, in fact, because Doug (Seann William Scott) and Richard (John C. Reilly), both assistant managers at a Chicago-area grocery store, will probably never be anything as glitzy as a local weatherman or a stockbroker.
Continue reading: The Promotion Review
When he was a young boy, Dewey Cox lost his virtuoso brother Nate in a freak machete accident. The trauma left the lonely child challenged, olfactorily speaking. Hoping to follow in his talented sibling's footsteps, Dewey learned the blues. He was then catipulted to fame during the heady days of early rock and roll. Though condemned for playing the Devil's music, his mixture of innocence and innuendo led to massive mainstream success. Life on the road, however, was filled with temptations.
Continue reading: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story Review
Peggy (Molly Shannon) dotes on Pencil, her puppy, with the affection only rewarded to the luckiest of children from the most spoiling of parents. So, when Pencil gets into some toxic shrubbery and goes, as all dogs do, to heaven, Peggy is inconsolable. Not that there aren't plenty of people who want to help her. Her oafish neighbor (John C. Reilly) wants to date her, her best friend (Regina King) wants to set her up with someone, and the receptionist at the vet (the invaluable Peter Sarsgaard) wants to get her a new dog ASAP. It's the receptionist, Newt, who gets Peggy into veganism and, ostensibly, sends her on a path of social destruction the likes of which are rarely seen.
Continue reading: Year Of The Dog Review
Based on an allegedly true event that was reported in the New Yorker, Casualties is a stripped-down tale of a small platoon of Army grunts who head into the jungle only to lose their humanity, a trope that has traveled from Conrad to Coppola to here. It's Satan in paradise, wreaking havoc and leaving unexplainable carnage behind.
Continue reading: Casualties Of War Review
From its first song-and-dance to its final curtain call, Marshall's Chicago packs its frames with all that jazz; translated, that means corruption, adultery, exploitation, and death. This ain't the 1990s, folks. It's the Roaring '20s, and murder - as seedy attorney Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) so aptly puts it - is "a form of entertainment."
Continue reading: Chicago Review
Criminal, first-time director Gregory Jacobs' generically-titled attempt at an American remake, performs the cinematic equivalent of the doggie paddle. It takes Bielinsky's well-paced con and changes just enough so that the story no longer makes any sense.
Continue reading: Criminal Review
Along for the ride, helping her pen this Party of lovey-dovey actors in a disgruntled group hug, is none other than her Cabaret co-star, Alan Cumming. Together, they're a force to be reckoned with: the crème de la crème of indulgence. Playing a bisexual writer and an aging starlet who never won an Academy Award, they are in effect exorcising their jitters toward an unsuspecting audience. Whether you're willing to go along for the ride is entirely up to you, but this critic found it to be deadly dull. Too much poisoned ice cream will give you a headache.
Continue reading: The Anniversary Party Review
As its title would imply, The Aviator focuses Hughes through the lens of the airplane, his greatest passion in the world. Hughes is known for many things -- business, movies, his women, hypochondria, political scandal (the lattermost is barely touched in this film) -- but it's his love of and scientific advances with aircraft that have had the most lasting effects on society.
Continue reading: The Aviator Review
And Dark Water (a remake of Hideo Nakata's 2002 film Honogurai mizu no soko kara) is nothing if not moody. It begins in the gloom of a divorce, with just-separated Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) and Kyle (Dougray Scott) fighting over who is going to live where - shared custody of their young girl Ceci (Ariel Gade) making commuting a big issue. Righteously furious Dahlia needs a cheap place near a good school and so ends up looking at a place on Roosevelt Island, the apartment-block-choked strip of land in the East River that makes most Manhattanites shudder and think, "There but for the grace of my broker, go I..." She and Ceci tour a grim apartment there with a chatty manager (a spot-on John C. Reilly) who tries to talk up the depressing view of rain-shrouded towers and smokestacks and the building's neo-Fascist architecture; only Reilly could say "Brutalist" with such perfectly smarmy cheer.
Continue reading: Dark Water (2005) Review
He may have a point, but I don't think For Love of the Game is fundamentally a sports movie. Sure, suit Kevin Costner up in a baseball uniform and you might think you're looking at another Field of Dreams, but For Love of the Game is something we don't see a lot of. Allow me to explain.
Continue reading: For Love Of The Game Review
The Good Girl is as close as you can get to nothing and still have something to project on screen. So greatly lacking in life, interest, and imagination, it's amazing the film was ever made. The characters almost sleepwalk from scene to scene, deficient of spirit, energy, humor, and any will to live. Nobody in this movie has a decent future. Most of the characters look as if they'd happily dive head first from the nearest bridge.
Continue reading: The Good Girl Review
The premise is simple and well-known. Young "Dirk Diggler" ("Marky" Mark Wahlberg) is a busboy discovered in a Receda nightclub by a big-time porn flick producer (Burt Reynolds, in perhaps his best role ever). Mingling with the likes of Amber Waves (Julianne Moore, my fave actress), the innocent Rollergirl (Heather Graham, who doesn't have nearly enough screen time), and other bigshots of the biz, Diggler rises (so to speak) and falls as the porn industry ruptures during the dawn of the 1980s.
Continue reading: Boogie Nights Review
Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) only waited until his third film to make his, an over-three-hour epic with at least 10 major characters in almost as many separate story lines. And thanks to those characters, every one a rich mystery burning with secrets, Magnolia is a smashing success.
Continue reading: Magnolia Review
Consider yourself warned. A Masters degree and a penchant for PBS' Masterpiece Theatre aren't required to fully comprehend and enjoy the picture, but they help. Hours masterfully weaves together three individual stories about three interconnected women existing in three different decades. Mentally ill author Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is on suicide watch in 1920s England as she pens her novel Mrs. Dalloway. Suburban housewife and mother Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) reads the same novel in 1951 as she suffers through a loveless marriage with her WWII veteran husband (John C. Reilly) and overprotected son, Richie (eight-year-old Jack Rovello). And modern day New York City book publisher Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) mirrors the character of Mrs. Dalloway as she plans a party for her dying ex-lover, Richard (Ed Harris), who recently won a literary prize.
Continue reading: The Hours Review
Eschewing every pitfall of the biopic genre and delving deeply into the essence of both Howard Hughes' genius and his slow burn into madness, Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" is a film of grand scope and masterfully intimate nuance, portraying a wild young mustang of a man who lived a fast life on an epic scale.
Presenting Hughes' view of the world as one in which nothing is impossible and the most momentous, groundbreaking decisions come instantly and instinctively ("What would controlling interest in TWA cost me?"), the film's crux is not the psychosis the man is best known for today, but his gift for sparing no expense to pursue novel visions no one else could see.
"We gotta reshoot 'Hell's Angels' for sound," Hughes decides on a whim in an early scene, after having already spent four years and millions of his own dollars perfecting his first foray into filmmaking -- a World War I epic featuring dozens of biplanes in an ambitious, jaw-dropping dogfight scene, parts of which Hughes shoots from a plane he flies into the fray himself.
Continue reading: The Aviator Review
Within the first five seconds of the musical number that opens the film adaptation of "Chicago," director Rob Marshall has established such a sublimely vivacious speakeasy atmosphere of hot jazz, cigarette smoke and showgirls that you'll feel as if you've been transported backstage at a posh 1920s cabaret.
The scene crackles with seductive energy as vaudeville siren Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) prowls across the footlights with a phalanx of sexy dancers, cooing "All That Jazz" in a voice that turns the men at the darkened tables around the stage into putty.
And just for a second, wannabe song-and-dance girl Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) imagines herself up there in Velma's place. As the beautiful flapper floozy stands in the shadows at the back of the theater, wide-eyed but reeking of wily ambition, Marshall (who directed the recent stage revival of "Cabaret") shows us a flash of Roxie's imagination in which she's the fabulous star of the fabulous show, wearing a fabulously silver sequined waterfall dress, strutting and singing to wild applause.
Continue reading: Chicago Review
An intricate mosaic of emotional stories intertwined by coincidence, "Magnolia" is an elegant exposé of human frailty written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who demonstrated his gift for burrowing under his characters' skins in 1997's melancholy porn industry soap opera "Boogie Nights."
He's honed that skill in the last two years, and his new multi-narrative, which features many of the same actors, is stunning and magnetic in its ability to tie you impulsively to even the most wretched of characters.
"Magnolia" takes place over the course of a single, unusually stormy (on a mythological scale) day in the San Fernando Valley and meditates on the complexities of family, and on the facades people put up to mask their insecurities, their grudges, greed and regret, their love, their selfishness and other symptoms of the human condition.
Continue reading: Magnolia Review
In the opening moments of Martin Scorsese's American history epic "Gangs of New York," a galvanized band of 19th Century Irish immigrants, armed to the teeth with axes and swords, emerges from a catacomb hideout beneath an abandoned brewery and kick open a shabby wooden door to reveal an amazing sight: the vast, almost frontier-like streets of lower Manhattan, circa 1846, brought to life in such exacting detail that you can almost smell the horse plop on the muddy roads.
This single shot does wonders for establishing the heavy, gritty, treacherous atmosphere of the muscle-ruled Five Points area in which the film is set. It's a place where falsely accused people are hung by crooked cops to set examples for petty criminals and where fire brigades duke it out in front of burning buildings to determine who gets to fight the fire.
Leading the pack of Irish bruisers is the stouthearted Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), who is subsequently killed in the ensuing violent, snow-bloodying street battle by William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) -- leader of The Natives, an vicious anti-immigrant gang, who leaves Vallon's young son, Amsterdam, one angry orphan.
Continue reading: Gangs Of New York Review
An honest, unsentimental, modest and well-crafted film from the writer-director team behind 2000's awkward stalker indie buzz flick "Chuck and Buck," "The Good Girl" is the melancholy allegory about a once ambitious small-town woman desperate to escape the malignant malaise of her monotonous life.
The ennui of years in discount-retail hell, the desperation of being tethered to a lay-about, stoner husband and the regret of never having realized, or even pursued, any of her dreams have piled up as emotional ballast in Justine's life. And the weight of it all is manifested viscerally by Jennifer Aniston in a pensive, title-role performance of effectively plodding, downcast body language.
When a sullen, taciturn 22-year-old named Tom (Jake Gyllenhaal) -- who calls himself Holden in honor of his juvenile fixation with "The Catcher in the Rye" -- takes a job at the Retail Rodeo, Justine thinks she recognizes a kindred spirit. "I saw in your eyes that you hate the world," she says by way of introduction. "I hate it too."
Continue reading: The Good Girl Review
Writer David Dorfman, director Peter Segal and star Adam Sandler missed a golden opportunity in "Anger Management," a comedy bereft of laughs about a milquetoast office drone and designer of fat feline fashions (?) who is sentenced to rage therapy after an incident on an airline.
The incident: His repeated polite requests for a headset to watch the in-flight movie are absurdly mistaken for aggression by a flight crew with post-9/11 jitters. The missed opportunity: The concept's punchline should have been that he really is a rage-a-holic and the calm version of events we see is his skewed perspective of normalcy.
Instead, the picture sticks with the notions that typically dim-bulb Sandler (insert empty-eyed double-take head-cocks here) really is a misunderstood nice guy, and the actor fails to find a single genuine laugh in the story's goofball gimmick -- which is that his nutzo court-appointed therapist (Jack Nicholson, volume turned up to 11) moves in with him and makes his life a living hell.
Continue reading: Anger Management Review
It's almost always a good sign when a movie jumps right into a pivotal scene, not bothering with opening credits, establishing scenes or any pre-fabricated title sequence.
It means the filmmaker is focused on telling a good story, and in "Criminal," director Gregory Jacobs wastes no time showing a very green small-time con artist (Diego Luna) being rescued from arrest by a life-long (but no less petty) short-con expert (John C. Reilly) who had been watching him pull a clumsy $20 scam on several casino waitresses.
In need of a new partner, Reilly takes the kid under his wing, and in a matter of hours they've swindled $200 from a little old lady (while butting heads over Luna's hypocritical selective conscience), ripped off a restaurant for another $100 in a change scam, and faked a minor car accident to get a stranger to pony up for gas money -- all in a day's "work" for the unconscionable elder crook.
Continue reading: Criminal Review
Date of birth
24th May, 1965
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