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Jackie Review

Essential

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history, this film centres on just a few days in her life to offer some telling insights not only into the woman in question but also the culture of celebrity and the nature of political legacies. Yes, it's a complex, provocative film, artfully directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain (Neruda) and anchored by a riveting performance from Natalie Portman.

The story is set in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963, as Jackie (Portman) retreats to her seaside home in Massachusetts to make plans for her future. She is visited by a journalist (Billy Crudup), who asks her about her experience in the days after her husband (Caspar Phillipson) was shot while sitting next to her in the back of a car. During these days, she has been faced with some big questions. Who is she arranging the funeral for? Herself? Her children? The American public? The future generations who will remember her husband? The only people she can confide in are her brother-in-law Bobby (Peter Sarsgaard), her assistant Nancy (Greta Gerwig) and a straight-talking priest (John Hurt). Her husband may have been a relentless philanderer, but Jackie is consumed by grief and unsure where her life will go now.

More: Natalie Portman Loved The Complex Layers Of Jackie

Continue reading: Jackie Review

Jackie Trailer


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

The Magnificent Seven Review

Good

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic 1960 Western, itself a remake of the masterful 1954 Japanese original Seven Samurai. Reteaming with his Training Day stars Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, Fuqua injects some very manly grit into the tale of a ragtag gang of mercenaries who find themselves trying to save a town in peril. It's a great story, and Fuqua delivers plenty of punch in the action set-pieces. But the characters and situations never quite rise beyond the usual Wild West cliches, and toning everything down for the required PG-13 rating creates an oddly celebratory tone, as if the brutality isn't that bad, really.

In a peaceful village in the middle of nowhere, greedy corporate baron Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) has discovered gold, so he decides to buy up everyone's land. When the homesteaders resist, Bogue turns vicious, and the newly widowed Emma (Haley Bennett) refuses to go quietly. Instead, she hires notorious gunslinger Chisolm (Washington), who in turn rustles up six more desperados: hard-drinking sharpshooter Faraday (Chris Pratt), fading legend Goodnight (Hawke), burly bear-man Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), blade expert Billy (Byung-hun Lee), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and Native American warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Not only do they need to become a team, but they need to teach these timid farmers how to fight against Bogue's approaching army.

Screenwriters Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk have reduced the plot to the bare basics: scrappy good guys versus a slick, well-organised villain. There's never a compelling reason why Bogue wants the farmland (is there gold under the cornfields?), but he's clearly willing to kill everyone and level the entire town to get it. In this sense, Sarsgaard has the least subtle role in the film, but he has a great time snarling and shouting and generally being the devil incarnate. But then all of the roles are fairly simplified, with each of the seven teammates having a basic trait to combine with their general heroism: cool, cheeky, weary, quirky, flashy, rambunctious and lethal, respectively.

Continue reading: The Magnificent Seven Review

The Magnificent Seven Trailer


After the murder of her husband, a widow and resident of the town of Rose Creek finds herself seeking revenge over the brutal methods of Bartholomew Bogue, the man responsible for the death of her partner. Bartholomew is a ruthless industrialist and has his sights set on the town of Rose Creek and will go to any lengths to take it from the residents.

The widow makes contact with a bounty hunter named Sam Chisolm who agrees to help her look for gun fighters to help protect the town. Though the money is little, Chisolm begins his search for skilled gun slingers who might be able to help lead the resistance against Bogue. Amongst the recruits are Josh Farraday, Goodnight Robicheaux, Jack Horne, Billy Rocks, Vasquez and Red Harvest. What begins as purely a monetary commitment for the men soon turns into something far more personal when they experience first-hand the lengths Bogue is willing to go to.

The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 movie which originally starred Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The new version of the movie follows a similar plot which has been adapted and written by True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. The score was composed by James Horner shortly before his death in 2015.

Black Mass Review

Good

For a biopic of a real-life person, this feels like an oddly standard mob thriller. It's the true story of Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, and it's told with gritty filmmaking and robust performances. But there's very little about the movie that sets it apart, leaving it as yet another depiction of violent criminal ambition and betrayal. And by the end, it's difficult to escape the feeling that we've seen it all before.

It opens in 1975 South Boston, where Jimmy Bulger (Johnny Depp) runs the Irish mafia, while his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a senator. Their childhood friend John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) is an FBI agent who has asked for their help in taking down the rival Angiulo family, which Jimmy sees as a win-win situation: he'll get rid of the competition while avoiding jail himself. Over the next 10 years, Jimmy expands his operation dramatically, and he's not afraid to get his own hands dirty as he sorts out problems that are created by his sidekicks (including Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons and W. Earl Brown), all of whom are increasingly annoyed at his control-freak ways. But as Jimmy becomes even more notorious, the FBI boss (Kevin Bacon) pressures John to take him down.

The actors dive into their roles. Depp transforms himself physically into a prowling thug with terrifyingly piercing eyes. He may be a heartless killer, but he's also a caring family man. Opposite him, Edgerton has a trickier role as a federal agent who operates more like the gangster he'd rather be, casually ignoring the law to push his own agenda. In the sprawling supporting cast, only a few characters emerge memorably: Cumberbatch has a sparky presence, Cochrane offers some thoughtfulness, and Bacon gets to chomp on the scenery. Other roles are much briefer, especially the sidelined female characters.

Continue reading: Black Mass Review

Blue Jasmine Review


Extraordinary

With a riveting performance, Cate Blanchett creates one of Woody Allen's most memorable movie characters in years. And it's also the writer-director's strongest film in recent memory, as it balances comedy and drama in an engaging story that has a kick of resonance as it explores fall-out from the current economical recession.

Blanchett is Jasmine, a New York socialite who has fallen from grace after her husband Hal (Baldwin) lost control of his dodgy financial empire. So Jasmine is forced to move across the country to live with her sister Ginger (Hawkins) in San Francisco. Although she misses her high-society lifestyle, Jasmine gets on with things, finding a job with a local dentist (Stuhlbarg) and a flicker of romance with a rising-star politician (Sarsgaard). But living in Ginger's small apartment with her two kids and her blue-collar boyfriend Chili (Cannavale) takes its toll. And while smoothing the edges with alcohol and Xanax, Jasmine begins to lie to herself and others about her past.

All of the characters here are jaggedly complex, interacting with hilariously observant dialog as their relationships get increasingly messy. But while Jasmine is snobby and prickly, Blanchett also reveals her fragility as she tries to get back on her feet. And Hawkins is just as revelatory as the tenacious and much more generous Ginger. The men around them are just as complicated: Cannavale is hot-tempered but charming, Sarsgaard is kind but a bit slippery, Baldwin is charismatic and over-confident. No one fits into a simple box, which keeps us on our toes and lets the characters worm their way deep under the skin.

Continue reading: Blue Jasmine Review

Video - Sharon Stone And Peter Sarsgaard Among 'Lovelace' Stars At Movie Screening - Part 1


Several of the 'Lovelace' cast members were snapped by paparazzi arriving outside the Museum of Modern Art in New York for the screening of the movie. Among them were 'Basic Instinct' actress Sharon Stone, 'The Good Wife' star Chris Noth with his wife Tara Wilson and 'Green Lantern' actor Peter Sarsgaard.

Continue: Video - Sharon Stone And Peter Sarsgaard Among 'Lovelace' Stars At Movie Screening - Part 1

Baldwin Family Grows: Alec Baldwin And Hilaria Expecting First Child Together


Alec Baldwin Hilaria Baldwin Woody Allen Cate Blanchett Peter Sarsgaard

Alec Baldwin and his new wife Hilaria Thomas Baldwin are expecting their first child together. A representative confirmed the news to Reuters on Tuesday (February 12, 2013), with Baldwin later telling television program Extra, "If I really shared with you how I felt, I would probably burst out crying."

Baldwin, 54, married yoga teacher Hiliaria, 28, in a ceremony in New York in July 2012. "It was a surprise, a wonderful surprise," said his wife, who also works as a correspondent for the entertainment TV show. "Now I'm showing and it's getting to be much more, like, 'Oh, my God, this is actually going to happen." Although one of the most recognizable stars in Hollywood, Baldwin is best known for playing egotistical television executive Jack Donaghy on the NBC comedy 30 Rock, which broadcast its final episode in January. He was previously married to the L.A. Confidential actress Kim Basinger from 1993-2003. The couple have one daughter together, Ireland, who was born in 1995. 

Following on from To Rome With Love, Baldwin has just completed work on Blue Jasmine, his second movie with Woody Allen. Though plot details are sketchy, the film also stars Cate Blanchett and Peter Sarsgaard and is set to hit cinemas in July. 

Continue reading: Baldwin Family Grows: Alec Baldwin And Hilaria Expecting First Child Together

No Clothes, No Problem: Amanda Seyfried Admits To Being Unfazed By Nudie Shots In New Film


Amanda Seyfried Peter Sarsgaard Sharon Stone Hank Azaria James Franco

Amanda Seyfried's next role will see her portray one of the adult film industry's most famous (and tragic) stars in her next film and as you'd imagine, some of the scenes involved the actress rather scantily clad, if not completely nude. Fortunately for Seyfried though, she told Indiewire that she is a-okay with the scenes, and to be perfectly honest so are we (sorry).

The Les Miserables star will be portraying Linda Lovelace, who shot to porn-land fame and rest of the world notoriety when she stared in the 1972 film Deep Throat (no prizes for guessing what it's about). Seyfried admitted to the movie blog that although the nude scenes she and co-star Peter Sarsgaard are involved in were "a little strange," she was still rather unaffected by the whole thing, saying: "[Peter and I] are not shy about our private parts. We also weren't walking around with our genitals out; our bottom half genitals. That might have been a little strange for me. I don't really have any interest in people seeing my vagina. It's just a personal thing. I don't mind seeing other people's vaginas."

"Sex; we all do it," the star refreshingly added, before going on to discuss how she handled the more intimate scenes of the film (she used an icicle) and why she considers Mean Girls her best work still. You'll have to check out the full interview on Indiewire to find out more.

Continue reading: No Clothes, No Problem: Amanda Seyfried Admits To Being Unfazed By Nudie Shots In New Film

Les Mis Saved Amanda Seyfried From Trauma Of Linda Lovelace Role


Amanda Seyfried Peter Sarsgaard Linda Lovelace

Amanda Seyfried was so deeply involved with the character of Linda Lovelace when she filmed the adult movie star’s biopic, that she was grateful for her role in Les Miserables, for allowing her to escape her emotional involvement with the role. Reporting from the Sundance Festival, where Lovelace is debuting, Fox News reveal that the experience was an intense one for the 27 year-old.

“I had a hard time letting go of Linda at the end of the movie," she said. "I had a really intense time with (co-star) Peter Sarsgaard. I think we both had a hard time letting go because we went to these places. He played a man who consistently beat his wife. And I played a woman who was raped and abused, psychologically and physically. I was constantly taking my clothes off. I didn't have an issue with that. She had an issue with that. So it was a lot. And the only thing that helped was getting onto Les Mis." Sarsgaard plays the role of Chuck Traynor, Linda’s abusive husband.

Seyfried also revealed that there’s more to Linda Lovelace than many may expect. “this woman had a fascinating story,” insists Seyfried. “There are things that a lot of people don't know. People have an idea of her. It's very one-dimensional." The movie has been snapped up by the Weinstein Co.’s Radius label for a reported $3 million so it won’t be long before we can all make our own minds up about the seemingly tragic tale. 

Continue reading: Les Mis Saved Amanda Seyfried From Trauma Of Linda Lovelace Role

'Risky But It Appealed To Me': Amanda Seyfried Challenges Herself Starring As Porn Actor In 'Lovelace'


Amanda Seyfried Sharon Stone Juno Temple Peter Sarsgaard James Franco

Amanda Seyfriend is fast becoming darling of Hollywood. From humble, though hilarious beginnings in Mean Girls, she moved on to the sweeter than sweet role of Sophie Sheridan in the multi-award winning Mamma Mia!, and to playing Cosette in another extraordinarily successful musical, Les Miserables. Having played such classical or humorous roles, her starring appearance as Linda Lovelace in 'Lovelace' seems a little out of kilter, but as she told the BBC, it was a challenge she couldn't resist.

"It is risky and people did not stop reminding me of that. But I also really wanted a challenge. It appealed to me in that way," she said. Lovelace is about Linda Lovelace, the star of the 1970s porn film Deep Throat in which Lovelace played a woman skilled in "a very advanced form of fellatio," as the Guardian puts it. Lovelace became hot property in the porn market, but when she released her biography in the '80s she portrayed her life as one wrought by an abusive marriage to a man who used hypnosis to force her to make pornography. 

Clearly, Lovelace's story was a traumatic one and, while Seyfried said she wanted a challenge, she was perhaps not quite ready for the depth of the challenge that she was embarking on. "I had a hard time letting go of Linda at the end of the movie," she said. "I went places that I couldn't get out of." Also appearing in Lovelace are Sharon Stone, Peter Sarsgaard (playing Lovelace's abusive husband, Chuck Traynor), Chloe Sevigny, Juno Temple, Chris Noth and James Franco. Reviews from its Sundance Film Festival premier have been largely positive, though quisitive. It is expected to reach cinemas in July.

10 Of Our Favourite Movie Robots


Star Wars Frank Langella Peter Sarsgaard Ben Burtt Elissa Knight Transformers Peter Cullen Anthony Daniels Kenny Baker Alan Rickman Kevin Spacey Sam Rockwell Alan Tudyk Will Smith RoboCop Jon Davison Peter Weller Brigitte Helm Futurama John Di Maggio Doctor Who Elisabeth Sladen Tom Baker Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator

What with Jake Schreier's upcoming movie 'Robot & Frank' scheduled for release in the UK on March 8th 2013 and talks of 'Star Wars: Episode VII' being in the making, we've put together a list of what we think are the best robots that we've ever seen on screen. This is with the exception of cyborgs, human-looking robots, cybernetic organisms and bots from TV programs because, let's face it, we'd be here forever.

Robot ('Robot & Frank')

Robot & Frank

Continue reading: 10 Of Our Favourite Movie Robots

Frank Langella Shines In Sundance Festival Gem 'Robot And Frank' (Trailer)


Frank Langella James Marsden Liv Tyler Peter Sarsgaard

“That thing is going to kill me in my sleep.” Those are the words uttered by Frank (played by a real life Frank, Frank Mingella), when his son introduces him to the robot that he’s procured to help him with his ailing memory and flagging health. “Someone’s going to kill you in your sleep,” comes his son’s muttered reply (played by James Marsden).

Also starring Liv Tyler, Peter Sarsgaard and Susan Sarandon, what looks to be starting as a heart-warming family tale soon develops a darker side as Frank and his Robot become embroiled in a touch of criminal activity. So far, the movie has largely been a hit with the critics. Kenneth Turan of Los Angeles Times describes the movie as “charming, playful and sly,” and adds “it makes us believe that a serene automaton and a snappish human being can be best friends forever.”

Frank Langella’s performance as the increasingly confused old man and New York Times’ Manohla Dargis praises him by saying “Frank Langella plays so many variations on cute and crotchety and with such suppleness - he's by turns a charming codger, a silver fox and a wise graybeard - that his performance comes close to a saving grace.” The winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Alfred P. Sloan Prize, Robot & Frank is due for release later this year. 

Continue reading: Frank Langella Shines In Sundance Festival Gem 'Robot And Frank' (Trailer)

Robot & Frank Trailer


Frank is former burglar suffering from increasingly worsening dementia. His lawyer son Hunter notices his condition deteriorating and decides to introduce him to a robot caretaker programmed to take care of him and assist him in his daily tasks such as gardening. He is at first extremely mistrustful of the machine but soon begins to become fond of it as it cannot tell the difference between legal and illegal actions. The pair decide to commit a huge jewellery heist to win the heart of the local librarian Jennifer's library which is about to close down. His daughter Madison, meanwhile, tries to persuade him to get rid of the robot due to her own uncertainties but Frank insists that it is his friend. However, with his dementia becoming worse and worse, there looks to be only so many things that the robot is able to help him with. 

This heartwarming comedy drama is set in the near future and has been directed by Jake Schreier in his feature film directorial debut and written by Christopher D. Ford ('The Scariest Show on Television', 'The Fuzz'). The robot it based on the Japanese humanoid creation called Asimo which was introduced in 2000. 'Robot & Frank' is set for release on March 8th 2013.

Director: Jake Schreier

Continue: Robot & Frank Trailer

Green Lantern Trailer


For millions of years, the universe has been watched over by a group of noble custodians, sworn to keep peace in the universe, these mighty beings are called The Green Lantern Corps. Hailing from all sides of the universe, each chosen keeper wears a ring that harnesses true willpower and allows them to gain super powers.

Continue: Green Lantern Trailer

In The Electric Mist Review


Excellent
French filmmaker Tavernier captures Louisiana with a remarkable eye. Even though the film meanders a bit, the skilful direction and camerawork combine with strong acting to create an engaging, insinuating thriller.

Dave (Jones) is a detective looking into the violent murder of a prostitute when movie star Elrod (Sarsgaard), filming nearby in a swamp, stumbles across the decades-old skeleton of a chained-up black man. In Dave's mind, the murders are linked, and as he questions a local mobster (Goodman), a partying investor (Beatty) and the film's director (Sayles), both cases get increasingly haunting. Dave also imagines that he sees a Confederate general (Helm) roaming the bayou around his house. And within this swirling mist, things start to make sense.

Continue reading: In The Electric Mist Review

Knight & Day Trailer


Watch the trailer for Knight & Day

Continue: Knight & Day Trailer

An Education Trailer


 

Watch the trailer for An Education

Jenny (Carey Mulligan - Public Enemies) is a schoolgirl with very high hopes in a considerably bleak post war Britain. Her thoughts of a place at Oxford University are fuel to her 'study-intensive' life as she forever tries to excel. Until just a short time before her 17th birthday she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard- Jarhead) who is considerably older than her, and she soon finds herself in the middle of a whirlwind romance.

Enticed by the lifestyle that it seems David can offer her, her dreams of Oxford start to slowly dissipate as the idea of an easy life becomes her new fascination. But as she makes the transition from enthusiastic schoolgirl to a lady of sophistication, she starts to question David, herself and the path in life she has chosen to take.

Directed by Lone Sherfig (Hjemve) and with a screenplay from Nick Hornby (Fever Pitch, About A Boy), and featuring a performance from Academy award winner Emma Thompson, the film received great critical acclaim when it premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams and Emma Thompson.

Screenplay: Nick Hornby.

Director: Lone Sherfig.

Rendition Review


Good
About halfway through Gavin Hood's Rendition, Peter Sarsgaard's dweeby congressman's assistant approaches Meryl Streep's white witch of the CIA with enough huff-and-puff to blow down a Dairy Queen. The two ideological opposites go at it with crisp, cool reverie: He promises to send her a copy of the Constitution while she promises him that a copy of the 9/11 Report will be arrive in his mailbox posthaste. It's sloganeering at its finest and that's not the half of it.

CIA watchdog Corrine Whitman (Streep) sets up the titular protocol when evidence is uncovered against Chicago family man and chemical engineer Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), Egyptian by birth. Whitman suspects that El-Ibrahimi had a hand in a recent bombing of an unnamed North African tea house; an attempt on the life of North African security head Fawal (Igal Naor). Fawal heads the "interrogation" with CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) there as counsel while they electrocute, drown, beat, and strangle Anwar to give up information on the attack.

Continue reading: Rendition 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

Unconditional Love Review


Weak
Great googly moogly, what have these filmmakers and stars gotten themselves into with Unconditional Love?

In a plot that I can only describe as inspired-by-peyote, Kathy Bates decides to head to rural Britain for the funeral of a murdered pop star after hubby Dan Aykroyd abruptly dumps her. Dressed in sequins and seen mainly in Six Feet Under-like flashbacks/materializations, Jonathon Pryce plays the pop star. As it turns out, pop star is gay and has left his estate to his lover (Rupert Everett). Bates and Everett then take it upon themselves to hunt down the murderer. What follows includes both Barry Manilow and Sally Jessy Raphael.

Continue reading: Unconditional Love Review

Empire Review


Good
When you stop and think about it, the similarities between Italian mobsters and urban gangsters -- as filmmakers commonly portray them -- are really quite astounding. For every gold chain stuck in a mobster's chest hair, there seems to be a corresponding gold medallion slung around some gangster's neck. For every Cadillac, there's a Lincoln Navigator. In place of the Tommy gun, there's the Glock. It's a comparison that writer and director Franc Reyes is all too keen on making in his debut film, Empire.

Played by John Leguizamo, Victor Rosa is a Latino gangsta with all the ambition of a young Godfather and all the attitude of a taller Joe Pesci. He spends his days violently whacking errant drug dealers and monitoring the sales of his own designer "street pharmaceutical" not so subtly labeled Empire -- which is exactly what Vic thinks he's building in his little bit of the South Bronx. But when his girlfriend (Delilah Cotto) announces that she's pregnant, he thinks it might be time to go legit.

Continue reading: Empire Review

The Skeleton Key Review


Weak

A first-rate concept for a spine-tingling tale of voodoo, hoodoo and possible hauntings in the swampy Louisiana bayou, "The Skeleton Key" is rendered impotent by bland, generic execution.

The wannabe chiller stars Kate Hudson as a New Orleans hospice nurse named Caroline who takes a job at a remote, run-down plantation manor, looking after a mute and paralyzed elderly stroke victim (played with eerie, deceptive vacancy by John Hurt) in what will probably be his last weeks of life.

Caroline is selfish, snooping and disrespectful (having an unsympathetic heroine is another of the movie's problems), so soon she beings sticking her nose where it doesn't belong -- opening attic doors that have been locked for decades and digging into the house's history. Doing so raises the ire of her patient's bitterly old-fashioned and superstitious Southern wife (Gena Rowlands), but more importantly it puts the skeptical Caroline on a path toward believing in the ghosts of lynched former servants that the old lady claims haunt the place.

Continue reading: The Skeleton Key Review

Kinsey Review


Good

Writer-director Bill Condon has a talent for hitting just the right tone in his work. Whether he's paying stylistic homage to "Bride of Frankenstein" creator James Whale in "Gods and Monsters" or writing a screenplay for "Chicago" that re-envisioned the Broadway musical as a wannabe showgirl's uniquely cinematic daydream, Condon always finds a way to seamlessly marry the crux of his story to the strengths of his medium.

In "Kinsey," he legitimizes and revitalizes a rather tiresome narrative gimmick -- on-camera interviews with the characters. For a biopic about legendary sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, there could be no more apropos structure for the story. Kinsey himself interviewed thousands of Americans about their bedroom predilections in the 1940s and '50s to compile his groundbreaking, rather comprehensive and certainly controversial studies on the subject. So Condon opens the film in kind -- with a simple, head-on, black-and-white image of the bluntly matter-of-fact and obliviously awkward Professor Kinsey (Liam Neeson) being quizzed about his own background and sexual experience.

Composing the film around Kinsey's answers, Condon cues flashbacks of an upbringing under the fire-and-brimstone hand of a preacher father (John Lithgow), introduces the equally clinical-yet-passionate student who becomes his wife (Laura Linney), touches on the man's own pseudo-scientific dalliances and their promiscuous effect on his marriage, and sets the stage for the studies that helped launch the sexual revolution.

Continue reading: Kinsey Review

Empire Review


Weak

Any chance that "Empire" might be all that different from other drug- dealer- trying- to- go- straight movies is lost with the opening voice-over, in which heroin mini-kingpin Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo) rattles off a dozen street life clichés in 60 seconds, starting with the line, "Damn, if I'd known then what I know now! It's all about making money, baby."

Never mind that the plot includes the hero losing his shirt and his boss's drug money in a Wall Street scam perpetrated by a savvy, Caucasian, uptown con artist. That only serves to prove that Victor is a sucker, not that his story is any different from those of drug dealers depicted in scads of other movies from the last 15 years -- October's "Paid In Full" or 1994's "Sugar Hill," for example.

Universal Pictures even admits as much in the film's press kit, which compares it "in theme and execution" to a "list of urban gangster films" but goes on to trumpet the fact that "Empire" is the first time this recycled story "has been told from the point of view of a Latino character."

Continue reading: Empire Review

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Peter Sarsgaard Movies

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Jackie Trailer

Jackie Trailer

Jacqueline Bouvier was always a highly independent woman, even when she was a debutant; she...

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The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

The Magnificent Seven Trailer

The Magnificent Seven Trailer

After the murder of her husband, a widow and resident of the town of Rose...

Black Mass Movie Review

Black Mass Movie Review

For a biopic of a real-life person, this feels like an oddly standard mob thriller....

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Pawn Sacrifice - Featurette Trailer

Pawn Sacrifice - Featurette Trailer

Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber and Peter Sarsgaard talk about Bobby Fischer, the main inspiration and...

Black Mass Trailer

Black Mass Trailer

Whitey Bulger has had the FBI under his thumb for too long, and now people...

Black Mass - Teaser Trailer

Black Mass - Teaser Trailer

Irish-American criminal mastermind Whitey Bulger was arguably one of the most dangerous men in America...

Pawn Sacrifice Trailer

Pawn Sacrifice Trailer

Sometimes, the greatest conflicts and clash with smaller and internal conflicts in a major way....

Black Mass - First Look Trailer

Black Mass - First Look Trailer

Sometimes, the greatest hiding place is in plain sight. For twelve years from the mid-1990s,...

Night Moves Movie Review

Night Moves Movie Review

This may be a slow-burning thriller about eco-terrorists, but it's also directed by Kelly Reichardt...

Night Moves Trailer

Night Moves Trailer

Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), a radical environmentalist teams up with high school drop-out, Dena (Dakota Fanning),...

Blue Jasmine Movie Review

Blue Jasmine Movie Review

With a riveting performance, Cate Blanchett creates one of Woody Allen's most memorable movie characters...

Lovelace Movie Review

Lovelace Movie Review

An unusual structure gives this biopic a surprising kick as it explores both sides of...

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