It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a genre box. Is this a drama? A black comedy? A pointed exploration of alcoholism? A buddy adventure? A giant monster movie? The answer is that it's all of these things, often at the same time. And this offbeat tone makes it seriously riveting, anchored by wonderfully unshowy performances by Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis.
It opens in Manhattan, as Gloria (Hathaway) returns from yet another drunken night out. And her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) has finally had enough. He throws her out, so she returns to her childhood hometown, where she runs into old classmate Oscar (Sudeikis), another drunk who now owns the local bar and offers her a job there working with Garth and Joel (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell). Then she starts noticing that her inebriated behaviour seems to be controlling a huge monster that's currently attacking Seoul, Korea. And when she gets Oscar, Garth and Joel to help her test this theory, things really begin to get strange.
Continue reading: Colossal Review
Can James Franco's movie become the first since 'Tyson' in 2008 to win the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes?
As I Lay Dying - which competes for the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival this month - is very much James Franco's baby. The 35-year-old Oscar nominee wrote, directed and stars in the movie adapted from William Faulkner's classic American novel of the same name.
Though the trailer hints at Franco's penchant for the surreal and avant-garde, it looks a far more straight laced movie than his previous stints behind the camera. The movie tells the story of Addie Bundren's death and her impoverished family's subsequent quest to bury the body in accordance with her wishes. Franco plays the second oldest child Darl, while Tim Blake Nelson appears to do a sublime job of portraying father Anse. Danny McBride plays friend of the family Vernon Tull while Fruitvale's Anha O'Reilly plays daughter Dewey Dell.
Continue reading: James Franco's 'As I Lay Dying' Packs A Punch [Trailer]
A historic epic from Steven Spielberg carries a lot of baggage, but he surprises us with a remarkably contained approach to an iconic figure. What's most unexpected is that this is a political drama, not a biopic. It's a long, talky movie about back-room deal-making on a very big issue: ending slavery in America. It also has one of the most intelligent, artful scripts of the past year, plus a remarkably wry central performance.
Daniel Day-Lewis constantly grounds Abraham Lincoln in his earthy humanity, good humour and tenacious desire to do the right thing, no matter what it takes. The film essentially covers just one month in which Lincoln works to outlaw slavery before ending four years of civil war. Secretary of State Seward (Strathairn) reluctantly supports this plan, enlisting three shady negotiators (Spader, Nelson and Hawkes) to convince wavering members of Congress to vote in favour of a constitutional amendment. Meanwhile at home, Lincoln is under pressure from his wife Mary (Field) to keep their oldest son Robert (Gordon-Levitt) off the battlefield.
All of this political wrangling makes the film feel like a 19th century version of The West Wing, and Kushner's script crackles with wit, nuance and passion, clearly echoing today's political debates about issues like gun control and human rights. We find ourselves wishing that our own politicians were this creative about getting the votes they need on important issues. This meaty approach gives the cast terrific dialog to bite into, although Spielberg never lets anyone run riot with scenery-chomping antics. The closest is probably Jones, as the fiery anti-slavery supporter Thaddeus Stevens. He's terrific in this role. And Field shines too in as the spiky Mary. Even if she's about a decade too old for the character, she brings intelligence and emotion to every scene.
Continue reading: Lincoln Review
Henry (Brody) takes a month-long assignment teaching at a tough school run by beleaguered principal Carol (Harden). Unflappable in the face of the unruly students, he calmly tries to get through to the teens. He clicks with fellow teacher Sarah (Hendricks). As a substitute, Henry's job is to maintain order, which seems like an impossible challenge. So he instead reaches out to a teen hooker (Gayle), thinking he might actually be able to make a difference in her life. But he can't help but wonder if he's doing more harm than good.
Continue reading: Detachment Review
Henry Barthes is a highly recommended substitute teacher, a compliment he doesn't really accept. His latest job is subbing at an inner city high school for a month, where exam grades are slipping; the pupils are unruly and the head teacher is under fire for the decline in standards there.
Continue: Detachment Trailer
In 1988 Barrow, at the top of Alaska, aspiring reporter Adam (Krasinski) stumbles across three whales trapped beneath the icecap. Unable to reach the open sea, there's just a tiny hole in the ice that lets them breathe. Adam's report goes viral, grabbing the attention of America's press as well as his Greenpeace-activist ex Rachel (Barrymore). And the rescue effort will require an L.A. journalist (Bell), military pilot (Mulroney), Inuit boy (Sweeney), whale expert (Nelson), oil baron (Danson), White House rep (Shaw), two chuckleheads from Minnesota (LeGros and Riggle) and the Russian Navy.
Continue reading: Big Miracle Review
News reporter Adam Carlson is based in a remote part of Alaska, in a town called Point Barrow. As a consequence, there usually is little to talk about in the way of local news. After one news report, which saw him explaining how food can take up to four plane journeys to arrive in town, his boss rings to comment about how 'thin' his stories are. That is, until Adam sees something extraordinary out to sea. It transpires that there are three California gray whales stuck under the ice near Point Barrow. Adam captures the incident on his camera and rings his boss to tell him of his findings.
Adam's report on the whales makes it onto the news, where he tells stunned viewers that the ice the whales are trapped under extends five miles to the ocean. No one is more stunned than Rachel Kramer, a Greenpeace activist and Adam's ex-girlfriend. She rings him up to announce that she will help him rescue the whales. Soon enough, Adam not only has the support of his ex but of the entire town as well, all doing what they can to make a path to the ocean through the ice. Adam and Rachel soon find themselves united under a common goal and they slowly start to fall back in love again.
Starring: John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw, Ted Danson, Stephen Root, Tim Blake Nelson, James LeGros, Rob Riggle, Andrew Daly, Bruce Altman, Gregory Jbara, Michael Gaston, Mark Ivanir and Jonathan Slavin
Brad (Black) is a birdwatcher who decides to do a Big Year, seeing as many birds as possible in 12 months, while holding down a full-time job and borrowing against his credit cards. Jetting around the country for rare spottings, he comes up against his record-holding nemesis Kenny (Wilson) as well as Stu (Martin), a corporate big-wig who has taken a year off work to follow his dream. But will their obsession with birding cause problems in their private lives?
Continue reading: The Big Year Review
Brad Harris is having what he calls a 'no-life crisis'. He is stuck in a soul destroying job and he is still living with his parents, despite him being in his mid-thirties. The one thing that holds any interest for him is bird watching. When he discovers that this year is known to 'birders' as 'The Big Year' - one year where birders set out to find as many birds in the country as possible - Brad is determined to beat the record previously set by Kenny Postick.
Continue: The Big Year Trailer
Sachar's antihero is Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf), an affable but luckless teen who's accused of a crime he did not commit and ordered to serve his sentence at Camp Green Lake, a Texas labor camp that's neither green nor near any lake. Instead of archery and crafts, the inmates spend their days digging holes under the watchful eye of crusty Mr. Sir (Jon Voight). His boss, Warden Walker (Sigourney Weaver), seeks something of value under the camp and needs the boys to keep tunneling until the unidentified treasure is found.
Continue reading: Holes Review
Scooby and Shaggy save the day in "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" -- or to be more precise, they save the movie. The scaredy-cat dog and his whimpering stoner sidekick get all the laughs (and all the "eeewww!" gags), with such disparity that it's as if a different screenwriter (with half the wit) wrote the balance of the movie.
Alas, James Gunn (who wrote the first "Scooby" movie and last week's clever but dumbed-down "Dawn of the Dead" remake) penned the whole thing -- even the paid product placements for Burger King and the 15-minutes-of-fame sing-along cameo by "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard.
Continue reading: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Review
A rare kids' flick that engages youthful intellect and heart instead of patting youngsters on the head and spoon-feeding them stock anecdotes and tie-in toys, "Holes" is a fun family flick with a manifold plot about a smart, quiet teenager who gets the fate-fueled chance to reverse his family's hereditary bad luck.
It seems a curse was put the great-great-grandfather of curly-headed moppet Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf), and the trickle-down effect has landed the kid at a parched, ghost-town-like juvenile rehabilitation center in West Texas -- ironically called Camp Green Lake -- for a crime he didn't commit.
The venomous Warden (Sigorney Weaver, delighting in the role's sneering, sinister qualities) has a strange idea for building character in her charges: the boys spend every single day digging five-foot-deep holes in the dry lakebed. Her policies are enforced by the Mr. Sir, a classically menacing, beer-bellied, bow-legged figure played by Jon Voight in a scene-stealing standout performance. Sporting a graying Elvis pompadour, a villain's pencil mustache, twitchy wild eyes, and a low-slung holster, he's the kind of baddie who makes you giggle while making your skin crawl too, as he squints in the faces of potential escapees and seethes that in the desert "the buzzards'll pick ya clean by the end of the third day."
Continue reading: Holes Review
Lana Del Rey takes her 60s vintage aesthetic to the extreme with the video for new single 'Chemtrails Over The Country Club'.
As negotiations continue, it's clear that the UK government doesn't have everyone's best interests at heart.
The singer awkwardly responded to potential backlash regarding her new album cover.
Five years ago, on the day of his 69th birthday and two days before his death, David Bowie released his 25th, and final studio album, 'Blackstar'.
Nobody is impressed by Demi "coming to the rescue".
Let's leave gatekeeping in 2020.
These are the albums we're looking forward to most this month.
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