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Secret In Their Eyes Review

Excellent

It's rare for an American remake to be scruffier than the original, but this film is an intriguingly messier take on the super-slick, hugely engaging 2009 Oscar winner from Argentina. Filmmaker Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) has stripped down the tone and revamped the plot considerably, replacing the original film's big emotional surges with grittier intrigue and subtle intelligence.

The story begins as New York security expert Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) returns to Los Angeles, picking up the trail of an unsolved murder he worked on 13 years earlier when he was an FBI agent. His former colleague Jess (Julia Roberts) is still in the FBI, while Claire (Nicole Kidman) is now the city's district attorney. Together, they secretly begin looking into the case again, tracking the suspect (Joe Cole) through the city and dodging interference from fellow agent Reg (Michael Kelly). But the investigation doesn't go as planned, jeopardising all of them in their current jobs. And Ray is having trouble sorting out his relational history with both Jess and Claire.

These three fine actors cleverly play with the delicate tensions both between them and in the larger picture. At the centre, Ejiofor is gripping as a man of conscience who is tenaciously hoping for justice in a seriously murky situation. Kidman adds a slightly cheeky tone as a woman who has achieved professional success but never forgets the dodgy choices she has made. And Roberts gets the showier role, losing all of her Hollywood glamour as the tomboyish Jess, a woman with layer after layer of emotional turmoil. The chemistry between them is fascinating, even if the filmmaking approach feels dry and aloof. But there's so much going on in both the story and characters that it's impossible to look away. Nothing that happens is quite what it seems to be, and the big ideas linger in the background, leaving plenty for us to chew on.

Continue reading: Secret In Their Eyes Review

Secret In Their Eyes Trailer


Ray is a dedicated FBI investigator with a crush on his District Attorney supervisor Claire and a close friendship with his partner Jess. However, all those whimsical circumstances are thrown out of the window when a corpse is discovered in a dumpster in LA. Ray discovers that it's the mutilated body of Jess' teenage daughter, and the devastated pair set out on a vengeful mission to find the perpetrator. Unfortunately, the suspect they pick up - of whose guilt they are convinced - they are forced to let go when no solid evidence is found. Thirteen years later, Ray returns with a new lead, having spent every evening since searching through the US prison system for their murderer. But this time, they're thinking of bringing him down their own way.

Continue: Secret In Their Eyes Trailer

Captain Phillips Review


Essential

With an attention to documentary detail that makes everything viscerally realistic, this film grabs hold and never lets go, cranking the suspense to nearly unbearable levels and then tightening its grip even further. Like director Greengrass' United 93, this is a film that makes us forget our daily routine, sending us on a harrowing journey that feels more like a life experience than watching a movie.

It's based on true events from March 2009, when Richard Phillips (Hanks) took a routine job captaining a cargo ship filled with food aid from Oman to Kenya. Then off the coast of Somalia, they're attacked by the tenacious pirate Muse (Abdi) and his three cohorts (Abdirahman, Ahmed and Ali). These aren't terrorists, they're desperate young men who take violent action only because they have to. But their demands for money go unmet, and the stand-off escalates as Phillips' crew fights back against the armed intruders. Then the American Navy responds with overwhelming force, trying to calm the situation without getting Phillips killed.

Aside from one background sequence in Somalia, we watch the entire story through Phillips' eyes, which makes us feel like we are right in the middle of it. Greengrass insists on realism, refusing to indulge in digital trickery when he can get real ships and helicopters out on the ocean instead. This gives the film a jolt of authenticity that's impossible to re-create in a studio, as we can feel the isolation of the expansive sea as well as the dangerous claustrophobia in the pod-like lifeboat where the climactic scenes play out. And there isn't a false note. Even with a well-known actor like Hanks in the central role, we are completely drawn in.

Continue reading: Captain Phillips Review

Video - Tom Hanks Admits 'Captain Phillips' Was 'Stressful' In Red Carpet Premiere Interview


The cast and crew of biopic thriller 'Captain Phillips' discuss the realistic nature of the heart-stopping flick on the red carpet at the US premiere. Among them were stars Tom Hanks, Faysal Ahmed and Barkhad Abdi, as well as director Paul Greengrass, producer Michael De Luca and screenwriter Billy Ray.

Continue: Video - Tom Hanks Admits 'Captain Phillips' Was 'Stressful' In Red Carpet Premiere Interview

The Hunger Games Review


Excellent
Proclaimed "the next big franchise" before production even began, this first chapter of Suzanne Collins' trilogy manages to live up to the hype. It's rare to see a blockbuster with such a sharp political sensibility. And the actors are terrific in complex roles.

In what was once North America, the ruling class demands an annual sacrifice of the 12 districts that once rebelled: each must select two teens, a boy and a girl, to battle in a wooded arena to the death, with the last one standing crowned victor. In the poor mining District 12, the tributes are ace archer Katniss (Lawrence) and muscly baker Peeta (Hutcherson), who forge an awkward friendship as they're thrust into the televised competition. Trained by Haymitch (Harrelson), promoted by Effie (Banks), groomed by Cinna (Kravitz), interviewed by Caesar (Tucci) - it's simply overwhelming.

Continue reading: The Hunger Games Review

Shattered Glass Review


Very Good
The need to get the best story first has always been an inherent part of the news business. But when a journalist crosses the line into the realm of fictional the whole integrity of the news business is thrown out the window.

This is in essence what happened to The New Republic magazine in 1998 when a writer of theirs named Stephen Glass fabricated a story about a computer hacker to such an extent that nothing in it was true including - sorry to say - the allegation that the hacker left his mark with an appealingly humorous alliterative caption: "THE BIG BAD BIONIC BOY HAS BEEN HERE BABY." (This of course has been overshadowed by the recent Jayson Blair/New York Times scandal, which shook out nearly identically but with much greater fanfare earlier this year.)

Continue reading: Shattered Glass Review

Volcano Review


OK
Oh, there's nothing like a natural disaster to bring people together! That's the poorly masked theme ("They all look the same!") behind Volcano, the first really big disaster movie we've seen since, gosh, mid-February. It least this Volcanodoesn't blow -- figuratively speaking -- like Dante's Peak did, and that's mainly because it's so much more fun to watch Los Angeles be decimated by unceasing lava flow instead of a puny Pacific Northwest village.

Co-stars Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones prove more than able at evading not only the encroaching magma, but also the horde of bad actors that follow them throughout the movie. And while the film is full of creeping cheese, complete with death-defying leaps to safety, slow motion shots, and kitschy one-liners, I shock myself even by saying that, for the most part, it feels real. They even thought to include Dennis Woodruff's infamous car, the cheesiest of Hollywood landmarks, floating along in a river of fire. Where else would they think of that!? I really do love L.A...

Continue reading: Volcano Review

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Billy Ray Movies

Secret in Their Eyes Movie Review

Secret in Their Eyes Movie Review

It's rare for an American remake to be scruffier than the original, but this film...

Secret In Their Eyes Trailer

Secret In Their Eyes Trailer

Ray is a dedicated FBI investigator with a crush on his District Attorney supervisor Claire...

Captain Phillips Movie Review

Captain Phillips Movie Review

With an attention to documentary detail that makes everything viscerally realistic, this film grabs hold...

Advertisement
The Hunger Games Movie Review

The Hunger Games Movie Review

Proclaimed "the next big franchise" before production even began, this first chapter of Suzanne Collins'...

Shattered Glass Movie Review

Shattered Glass Movie Review

The need to get the best story first has always been an inherent part of...

Volcano Movie Review

Volcano Movie Review

Oh, there's nothing like a natural disaster to bring people together! That's the poorly...

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