Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's novel Gone Baby Gone, and he now returns to the author to adapt this Prohibition-era gangster drama. It's a big, beefy story with colourful characters and a snaky, expansive plot. And it's beautifully assembled by a skilled cast and crew. Even so, the film never quite generates quite enough energy to engage properly with the audience.
In 1927 Boston, Joe (Affleck) is a war veteran who has turned to crime to survive. But problems arise when he launches a torrid affair with the moll (Sienna Miller) of the Irish mob boss (Robert Glenister). With his life in danger, he turns to the rival Italian mafioso (Remo Girone) for a job, and is sent to Tampa to run their rum-smuggling operation. Working with his pal Dion (Chris Messina), Joe makes a success of a string of speak-easy bars and finds love with a the sister (Zoe Saldana) of a Cuban gangster. Then as he plans to open a huge casino, his gentlemanly agreement with the local police chief (Chris Cooper) is threatened. And it doesn't help that the boss in Boston begins to meddle.
Everything is assembled with a sumptuous sense of style, from the cool cars to the epic suits and hats. The film looks gorgeous, shot with muted colours that echo the subdued emotions of people who never quite say what they think. Of course, this creates a big problem, because it leaves Affleck's Joe looking like a blank slate, intriguing to watch but impossible to sympathise with. Nothing feels properly developed, with romances that seem to exist for no real reason and business relationships that appear to be based on some sort of unexplained subterfuge. The most riveting element of the story is Joe's clash with the KKK, a powerfully bull-headed group that refuses to play by the usual mob rules.
Continue reading: Live By Night Review
Max Casella at the 54th New York Film Festival screening of 'Jackie' held at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, United States - Friday 14th October 2016
Jacqueline Bouvier was always a highly independent woman, even when she was a debutant; she made a lasting impression on most who she met. Jackie always aspired to be a journalist and in 1947 she was offered a prestigious junior editor position at Vogue magazine, though she decided not to take the position in the end. Having travelled to various countries and lived in Paris for a short time, Jackie was an incredibly worldly lady and it's not so much of a surprise that she caught the attention of many men.
John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline met through social groups and they were both attracted to one another for many reasons and had similar life experiences. John was a rising star of politics and after his election to the Senate, he proposed to his love. Her answer didn't come as quickly as Kennedy might've hoped as she was assigned by the Washington Times-Herald to cover the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in the UK; ever the professional Jackie completed her assignment before taking Kennedy up on his offer. In 1953 the couple were married at one of the social events of the century. Though Kennedy was dedicated to his work, the deep love between the two was evident to all and Jackie was a constant support for her husband who eventually became president in November 1960.
Jackie's style, elegance and grace made her a much loved First Lady but more than that, she was dedicated to President Kennedy's vision and shared his burden.
Continue: Jackie Trailer
Nick Wild (Jason Statham) is working as a Las Vegas bodyguard for hire, mainly due to his lethal professional skills, but also because of a slight gambling problem he has. Unfortunately for Wild, he allows business to get mixed up with his personal life, as he chooses to help a friend of his that gets savagely beaten by a Vegas thug. After extracting a bloody revenge on the thug, Wild finds his simple little existence challenged by an entire crime family that seem hell-bent on sending him to a shallow grave in the desert. Wild knows that one way or another, he's not gonna be in Vegas by the morning.
Continue: Wild Card Trailer
Strapped for cash, handsome but middle-aged bookshop worker Fioravante decides to accept an offer of an unusual job from his friend Murray, who recently had a brainwave after his dermatologist and her friend admitted to wanting a new sexual experience with a stranger. Murray charged them a huge $1,000, offering the modest Fioravante the chance to be a male escort for a large paycheque while keeping a portion himself. After realising that he quite enjoys the experience of worshipping single and lonely women in the bedroom, Fioravante continues his exploits with Murray and ends up meeting a particularly shy woman named Avigal. Consumed by loneliness, Avigal seeks comfort and recognition, but just how deep does her solitude go?
Continue: Fading Gigolo Trailer
The Coen brothers have a wry twinkle in their eyes as they take us on a lyrical journey with a hugely likeable musician for whom success is only barely out of reach. It's also an engaging exploration of both the the early 1960s New York folk music scene that gave us Bob Dylan and the tenacity it takes to make your dreams come true.
It's 1961, and Llewyn Davis (Isaac) isn't sure he wants to fight anymore. His career has stalled, and he's moving from couch to couch trying to pick up gigs. But he doesn't have anything to lose, and when he inadvertently acquires a pet cat he has a bit of purpose for a change. On the other hand, his longtime friendship with husband-and-wife folk duo Jim and Jean (Timberlake and Mulligan) is strained when Jean tells him she's pregnant with a child that might be his. In need of cash, he takes a job in Chicago, taking a long road-trip with two nutcases (Hedlund and Goodman). And he even considers re-enlisting in the Merchant Marines.
Despite Llewyn's quiet desperation, the Coens keep the film's tone light and endearing, with constant comical touches that keep us smiling right to the cleverly elliptical ending. They also pack the movie with folk music that's gorgeously produced by T Bone Burnett, offering emotive counterpoints to Llewyn's sardonic sense of humour. His snappy wit often gets him into trouble, but we can immediately see his depth of character as well, and Isaac is terrific in the role, the kind of guy we would happily spend a lot more time with.
Continue reading: Inside Llewyn Davis Review
Moviegoers who know nothing about the iconic 2003 Korean thriller will perhaps enjoy this half-hearted remake. It lacks the subtlety and irony of Park Chan-wook's deranged masterpiece, but Spike Lee brings a certain technical sleekness that holds our interest. Especially as the complex plot begins to twist and turn, gleefully pulling the rug out from under us.
It centres on Joe (Brolin), a drunken loser who blows his last chance at his job by coming on to a client's wife. The next morning he wakes up in a sleazy hotel room that turns out to be a locked cell where he'll be held for the next 20 years. He's shown news updates on how he's the prime suspect in his wife's violent murder, and he watches his daughter grow up in an adoptive family's home. Suddenly focussed on revenge, he plots his escape and then is caught off guard when he's inexplicably released. With the help of his old friend Chucky (Imperioli) and helpful nurse Marie (Olsen), Joe tracks down his flamboyant jailer (Jackson) and then the creepy man (Copley) who paid the bills and now demands that Joe understands why he did it.
Yes, the plot is a big puzzle, and watching the various pieces fall into place keeps us riveted to the screen, even if nothing is particularly involving. Lee's mistake is to play everything dead straight, with only the odd hint of black humour or underlying madness. Instead, we get bigger action fight scenes (cool but choreographed) and a variety of surprises and revelations that often make us gasp. And all of this is played with razor-sharp intensity by Brolin, who gives us just enough emotion to keep us engaged with his journey.
Continue reading: Oldboy Review
Jasmine is an aristocratic New York housewife whose luxurious lifestyle and marriage to the wealthy Hal has been snatched away from her leaving her with quite literally nothing but the clothes on her back. She is forced to fly to San Francisco to move in with her sister Ginger whose apartment is well below her usual standards, as is her boyfriend Chili who is equally as resentful of Jasmine. It doesn't take long before Jasmine starts to plummet emotionally and mentally and only just manages to keep herself sane with several handfuls of anti-depressants a day. In a bid to get her life back on track, she takes a job as a dental receptionist while pursuing a career in interior design. Suffering from a serious breakdown, things are looking dark for Jasmine's future, but do things begin to look up when she meets the sophisticated Dwight?
Continue: Blue Jasmine Trailer
Llewyn Davis is a struggling folk musician attempting to find his place in the world by scouring New York's Greenwich Village at the height of folk in 1961. Along the way he meets old friends who are not particularly happy to see him because of his own unresolved mistakes in the past, and while he strives to find a venue to do what he loves doing, hitchhiking across roads in the freezing winter with a beat-up guitar and a homeless cat, he is forced to question not only himself as a person, but also where and what he really wants his future to be.
'Inside Llewyn Davis' is an emotional musical drama written and directed by Oscar winners Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, aka The Coen Brothers ('No Country for Old Men', 'True Grit', 'Fargo'). It has been very loosely based on the posthumous 2005 memoirs 'The Mayor of MacDougal Street' by the late New York folk artist Dave Van Ronk, and has been nominated to compete for the sought after Palme d'Or prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. This passionate story about love, music, finding oneself and learning from one's mistakes will hit screens in the UK on January 24th 2014.
Jackie Cogan is the enforcer in an organized mob. He becomes the key investigator when a raid takes place at a poker game by two men armed with shotguns who manage to make off with $100,000 when the game was supposed to be protected by the gang. Jackie sets out to find the robbers but when he discovers that they are just two loud-mouthed amateur delinquents, he cunningly uses them to find out who was really behind the heist, pretending to befriend one of them, Steve Caprio.
Continue: Killing Them Softly Trailer
For starters, Dinosaur is that rarest of Disney animation flicks which is not a musical. There's a thumping James Newton Howard score, but the only singing here comes from trumpeting iguanodons and brachiosaurs. The story, on the other hand, is typical Disney kiddie fare: Iguanodon Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is orphaned as a wee dino-egg on a remote island, where he is raised, Tarzan-style, by a family of lemurs (er... okay). When a freak meteor strike blows the island away, along with much of the rest of the world, Aladar swims to the mainland with his lemur family on his back, where he meets up with the surviving herbivorous dinosaurs who have banded together to trek to "the nesting grounds," a Waterworld-style vale which hasn't been reduced to desert and ruins like, apparently, the rest of the earth. (And never mind the fallout; there is none...)
Continue reading: Dinosaur Review
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