The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard to believe that this sequel actually tops it. Writer-director Paul King and his cast are back with their whimsical approach, combining silly comedy with surreally deranged touches that bring these people to life in ways that are both hilarious and deeply endearing. And this time, the plot feels more developed and the humour even funnier.
We catch up with Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) as he's now a fixture in his Notting Hill neighbourhood. With his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday approaching, he wants to give her the hand-made pop-up book of London landmarks he discovers in Gruber's (Jim Broadbent) second-hand shop and starts working odd jobs to save up to buy it. What he doesn't know is that a neighbour, washed-up actor Phoenix (Hugh Grant), knows that the book is a map to a hidden treasure. When Phoenix steals it and frames him, Paddington's adoptive family (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin and Julie Walters) launch a plan to clear his name.
Continue reading: Paddington 2 Review
Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley (High-Rise) is using a group of wildly offbeat characters to play a hilarious riff on Tarantino-style dialogue and violence. So while there's not much to it, the actors have plenty of grist to bring their roles to life. Which makes the film funny and intense all the way through, even if there's no emotional connection at all.
The entire film is set in a warehouse in 1978 Boston, where Justine (Brie Larson), Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) have gone with their drivers Stevo and Bernie (Jack Reynor and Enzo Cilenti) to buy a cache of guns from the swaggering Ord (Armie Hammer) and his mercurial arms dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley), who has brought ex-Black Panther Martin (Babou Ceesay) as some muscle, plus bickering drivers Harry and Gordon (Jack Reynor and Noah Taylor). All of them greet each other tensely, but they make the deal with a bit of offhanded banter and wary respect. But just as they're all getting ready to leave, Stevo and Harry spot each other. And both are still feeling wounded after the nasty encounter they had last night.
What follows is an explosion of utterly pointless violence. All of these people are nervous and trigger-happy, so it doesn't take much to set them off. The carnage that follows isn't like most movies, because people don't get shot and just lie on the ground; they crawl off injured, regroup and rejoin the fray. Alliances shift, and every moment of panic leads to even more chaos. And right in the middle, there's a bag of cash and a crate of rifles that everyone has an eye on. Wheatley stages this in real-time, with a steady flow of jaggedly witty conversation between the gunshots and constant sight-gags in the action mayhem.
Continue reading: Free Fire Review
'The Bartender' (Ethan Hawke) is the nickname given to a Temporal Agent whose job it is to stop crime before it occurs through the use of time travel. His aim is to make sure the law is enforced and people are protected throughout time, but it seems he has finally met his match when one seriously intelligent criminal manages to repeatedly slip through his clutches and cause devastating bomb explosions that have wiped out thousands. It's not an easy life, jumping in and out of a timeline as a career, but work is getting on top of The Bartender and he's about to discover just how exhausting time travel really can be, for both him and his nervous recruits.
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With a premise that feels almost Inception-like, this brainy thriller plays around with memories in ways that continually shift the story and draw us in. The ending feels somewhat rushed, but the journey there is riveting and sometimes thoroughly unnerving, while a strong cast adds layers of interest.
In a near future, psychic detectives help solve crimes and cold cases by exploring people's memories. Although John (Mark Strong) lost his job when his own past tragedy intruded on his work at Mindscape, a top memory detective agency run by Sebastian (Brian Cox). Months later, Sebastian thinks John is ready to return to work, so assigns him a simple case to help the troubled 16-year-old Anna (Taissa Farmiga), whose mother and stepdad (Reeves and Dillane) are worried that she won't eat. Or maybe they're the problem. As John investigates her past memories, he begins to realise that she's an unusually smart and perceptive young woman.
Spanish filmmaker Jorge Dorado shot primarily in Barcelona, so the movie has an intriguingly European sheen, even though it's set in Middle America. Everything is insinuating and suspicious, twisting standard horror movie tricks in new ways that are both freaky and fascinating. Images of red roses and running water abound, with scenes photographed in familiar ways that make watching this film almost feel like an extended deja vu experience. In other words, this is a thoroughly entertaining nightmare that brings up tension and continually wrong-foots us about what's real and what isn't.
Continue reading: Anna Review
A smarter-than-expected script turns this noisy sci-fi action movie into something remarkably entertaining. A-list stars, solid actors and whizzy effects aside, the dialogue is packed with clever observations that are both mind-bending and unexpectedly hilarious. And director Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) lets his cast have a lot of fun with it.
In the near future when aliens called Mimics have rampaged across Europe, Cage (Tom Cruise) is a military media spokesman suddenly sent into the front-lines from London, battling the fearsome creatures on the beaches of Normandy. He's killed fairly quickly, but wakes up that same morning and is again sent through battlefield prep with harsh Sgt Farell (Bill Paxton) and a rag-tag team. Again and again. Eventually he breaks out of the pattern and discovers another soldier, Rita (Emily Blunt), who seems to understand why he is living this day over and over only to die each time. So he uses the repetition to figure out what's really going on, and he and Rita plot a way to stop the aliens for good.
Yes, the premise is a direct riff on Groundhog Day, as Cage makes the most of each day, learning something new that will get him further the next. And the film's script knowingly plays with the set-up, offering witty comments and some genuinely suspenseful set-pieces along the way, all sharply edited into a relatively coherent narrative, although the ending will generate a lot of post-screening debate. Liman packs the film with kinetic, intense action sequences that are rendered with strikingly realistic effects that occasionally have some extra fun with the 3D.
Continue reading: Edge Of Tomorrow Review
After his acclaimed drama Submarine, actor-turned-filmmaker Richard Ayoade applies his considerable visual skills to this striking blackly comical adaptation of Dostoevsky's novella. Bristling with wit and snappy details, the film's style overwhelms its emotional core, leaving us unable to feel the punch of this odyssey about a young man wrestling with his own identity.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Simon, a loner who's still anonymous at work after seven years in his desk job. Secretly in love with the copy girl Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), he watches her through a telescope from his flat and digs through her rubbish. Then just as he's assigned to mentor the surly teen daughter (Yasmin Paige) of his manager (Wallace Shawn), James meets new employee Simon (also Eisenberg), a mirror image of himself who is far more confident, fun-loving and, yes, popular with everyone in the office.
Ayoade designs the film like a drab variation on Terry Gilliam's Brazil (and more recently The Zero Theorem), with that same claustrophobic sense of overcrowded anonymity and Kaflaesque bureaucracy. It's not particularly original, but it is fun to watch, especially on a big screen where we can take in the detailed sets and costumes, as well as a steady procession of amusing cameos from the likes of Chris O'Dowd and Submarine stars Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor and Craig Roberts. All of this adds to the general chaos of Simon's life, as well as his deep urban angst. But we're too distracted to properly sympathise with him.
Continue reading: The Double Review
Simon is a timid, uncharismatic and largely forgettable man who doesn't seem to be getting anywhere in life. He is rarely acknowledge at work and is a stranger to all his colleagues, his mother is disappointed in his lacklustre life and to top it all off, the woman he loves, Hannah, remains firmly indifferent to his existence. With his future hanging in the balance as he fails to make an impression on anybody, his life is further thrust into oblivion with the arrival of his doppelganger and complete opposite, James - who is newly employed at Simon's work. Unlike Simon, James captivates everyone he meets and is destined for success - even Hannah has his attention as he rapidly takes over Simon's life. With everybody else totally ignorant of the creepy resemblance, Simon is forced to snatch his life back by any means possible.
Continue: The Double - Clip
Simon is one of those sorts of people who can never seem to make an impression on anybody. His work colleagues barely know his name, his love interest Hannah remains stoically uninterested and his mother is unsupportive and, quite frankly, thinks he's rather strange. Already in danger of letting his life slowly slip from his grasp, things start to get dark when a new employee joins Simon at work. James is the spitting image of Simon in every way from the hair and clothes to the voice and smile; however, the very obvious difference is that James is brimming with confidence with a magnetic charisma that charms everyone he meets. Simon appears to be the only person who notices his resemblance - a frustrating prospect when Hannah starts to become extremely interested in James. Simon simply can't let this imposter infiltrate his world - but just how far will he go to stop him?
Continue: The Double Trailer
Simon is already running the risk of seeing his life crash and burn around him, with his reticent personality forcing away any love interests (or even friends), attracting much disappointment from his mother and losing him support in his career, but things are about to go further downhill very soon. A new employee named James has taken up a position at his workplace but, to Simon's horror, he looks and sounds identical to him - only with a more extroverted disposition and captivating character. Simon's too afraid to try and change things in his life, feeling comfortable (if a little depressed) with remaining in the shadows, but when James starts to take over everything he holds most dear, he is forced to try. But can he battle his demons while remaining sane at the same time?
Continue: The Double - 2 Snakes Clip
Being diffident, introverted and generally awkward in social situations, Simon finds his life increasingly difficult as he feels unappreciated in his work life, disparaged by his disappointed mother and rejected by his only love interest. Unable to find the courage to turn his life around, things are about to get much, much worse as a new employee at his company named James shows up. James is Simon's ultimate doppelganger, and his appearance only serves to make Simon increasingly more nervous as, although they are identical in looks, they are total opposites in personalities with James possessing a much more confident and magnetic character. Gradually, James starts to infiltrate Simon's life, taking over everything he holds most dear with Simon being driven completely insane in the process.
Continue: The Double - Teaser Trailer
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