This harrowing morality play is timely and riveting, but never remotely subtle. The setting is the mortgage crisis, during which savvy fast-talkers figured out how to make a fortune on the back of other people's tragedy. It's strikingly written and directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani with an attention to internalised detail, revealing an aspect of Western culture that's deeply disturbing.
It's 2010, and the economy is in freefall as families and small businesses struggle to survive. When Florida builder Dennis (Andrew Garfield) loses his job, he has no idea how he'll support his mother and son (Laura Dern and Noah Lomax). Unable to pay their inflated mortgage, they're evicted from the family home by ruthless estate agent Rick (Michael Shannon). Then Rick sees something in Dennis that he admires, and hires him to do some building work, eventually taking him under his wing and teaching him how to profit from the record number of repossessions. But this means taking advantage of government grants, banking loopholes and people whose lives have collapsed. And it isn't long before it starts eating away at Dennis.
Garfield gives an open, searching performance as this desperate young father who's grasping at any lifeline he can find for his family. It's a complex, difficult character, mainly because his moral dithering sits in contrast to Shannon's flashier, shark-like Rick, who's often scary in the way he's able to avoid empathising with people in pain. In a much smaller role, Dern is the polar opposite, a warm blast of straight-arrow morality who continually prods her son to do the right thing. Yes, these characters are somewhat constructed as three points in a triangle, but they beautifully highlight the issues involved. And the actors dig deep into the emotional ramifications.
Continue reading: 99 Homes Review
Dennis Nash is a struggling single father whose life is turned upside down when he's evicted from his home by a corrupt real-estate broker named Rick Carver. Facing life on the streets, Dennis is forced to work for Carver in the hope of reclaiming his home, but how will he cope carrying out the same ruthless eviction techniques that were used on him? As Dennis falls deeper into Carver's web, relationships suffer and his situation becomes more dangerous than he could have imagined.
Continue: 99 Homes Trailer
Fans of film journalism will love this documentary about the noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, although the movie is just as much about his battle with the cancer that took his life in 2013. It's a lively, fast-paced doc, but even at two hours it feels oddly truncated as the two topics seem to fight for screen time. Fortunately both are potent: the story of Roger's love of cinema and the footage of his astoundingly cheerful refusal to let illness get him down.
Based around Roger's eponymous autobiography, the film quickly traces his background as a film lover who rose through the ranks at the Chicago Sun-Times to become an unusually resonant film reviewer, able to express opinions and even high-minded cinematic observations in ways that were never cynical or snobbish. He found national (and even global) fame through his TV programmes opposite rival Chicago critic Gene Siskel, which began in 1978 and standardised their "thumbs up"/"thumbs down" verdicts. At age 50, Roger met his wife Chaz at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and her children and grandchildren became his. In 2002, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent a series of surgeries that by 2006 made it impossible for him to speak. But he carried on writing reviews and making public appearances (speaking through his computer) until his death.
Filmmaker Steve James had startling access to Roger during the final year of his life, following him to hospitals and rehabilitation centres. Looking at his cancer-ravaged face is difficult at first, but Roger's smiling eyes and constant joking reinforces his optimistic, matter-of-fact approach to life. And he keeps reminding James that this documentary has to show everything, never flinching away from the truth. As a result, the film is a remarkably intimate look at how Roger and Chaz faced the illness and made difficult decisions along the way. This adds an emotional layer to the documentary that's remarkably moving, putting Roger's work into the context of his life and death.
Continue reading: Life Itself Review
Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon appear at the premiere for their new drama '99 Homes' held at the 71st Venice Film Festival. They are joined by director Ramin Bahrani, fashion designer Gaia Trussardi and beauty blogger Victoria Bonya.
Ramin Bahrani - 71st Venice International Film Festival - 99 Homes - Photocall - Venice, Italy - Friday 29th August 2014
At Any Price appears to continue Ramin Bahrani's strong run of movie form.
Ok, so we'll admit we probably weren't expecting much before seeing the trailer for 'At Any Price,' starring Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid. Essentially, Efron plays an aspiring professional car racer who looks to escape the shackles of his home-life in Iowa - sounds pretty standard fare right? Though dig a little deeper - watch the trailer for one - and there's more than meets the eye here.
Quaid plays Henry Whipple, a respected farmer who looks to expand his three generation-old farming land. However, when his favorite son Grant flies the coop as a football star, he does his best to push his youngest son Dean (Efron) into the family business. Things don't go to plan and Dean has other things on his mind, principally reaching the racing heights of NASCAR after impressing on the local circuit. Meanwhile, Henry is investigated by GMO corn company Liberty Seeds and his whole career hangs in the balance. Billed as an "immersing family drama," the movie appears to feature some pretty fine performances - especially from Quaid - and the project seems to have been in good hands. Firstly, it's directed and co-produced by Ramin Bahrani, the man behind the exceptional Chop Shop and a filmmaker dubbed "the director of the decade" by critic Roger Ebert, who sadly passed away this week. In one of the final reviews, Ebert said of At Any Price, "This is a brave, layered film that challenges the wisdom of victory at any price."
Continue reading: 'At Any Price' Could Be Zac Efron's Best Movie Yet (Trailer)
Henry Whipple is a highly respected farmer in the world of agriculture and thinks of little else other than expanding his three generation old farming land in Iowa. After watching his favourite son Grant fly the nest as a football star, he does his best to push his youngest son Dean into the family business, understanding that the empire will be lost if he doesn't take on the responsibility. However, Dean has other things on his mind; he wants to be a professional car racer and is already a champion on his local circuit. He is determined to prove his sceptical father wrong by reaching the racing heights of ARCA and NASCAR. Henry, meanwhile, faces big business troubles when his farm is investigated by GMO corn company Liberty Seeds; his whole career hangs in the balance, but he must learn that if he doesn't change the way he is, it won't be the only thing he loses.
Continue: At Any Price Trailer
Zac Efron and Heather Graham star in At Any Price, the story of a farming family facing unexpected pressures, which in turn, puts a strain on the relationship between father and son. the son is played by Zac Efron – best known for his role in High School Musical but now carving out a more serious acting path. The father and mother of the farming family are played by Dennis Quaid and Kim Dickens respectively.
Continue reading: Zac Efron And Heather Graham Star In At Any Price (Video)
Henry Whipple is an ambitious farmer with high hopes for his promising agricultural family business. His son Dean, however, wants to be a professional racing driver and already looks set to be a huge star with his sport earning him numerous awards. With the Whipple business under threat of breaking down with no heir to carry it on, tensions arise in the household as Henry struggles to put his family's interests before the welfare of his company. Things get even more serious when crisis arises in the business with the threat of exposure that could cost him and his family everything they have including each other.
'At Any Price' is an intense family drama directed and co-produced by Ramin Bahrani ('Goodbye Solo', 'Man Push Cart', 'Chop Shop') following his research into technologically-advancing agricultural businesses in the American Midwest. He also co-wrote the movie with Hallie Elizabeth Newton in her screenwriting debut. It is set to be a touching flick challenging the ethics of these businesses and questioning the happiness of the families involved and has so far been screened at the Telluride Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival and the Venice International Film Festival. It will be released in cinemas later in 2013.
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Continue: At Any Price Trailer
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