Even the lighter moments in this dark Irish drama are tinged with sadness, including a scene in which a tormented mother and son escape through dancing together ... to the strains of Soft Cell's Tainted Love. But the film is anchored by such a solid performance by Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction) that it's definitely worth a look.
Reynor plays John, a young guy in Dublin working extra shifts as a cab driver to support his alcoholic mother Jean (Toni Collette) and his younger brother Kit (Harry Nagle), who has been institutionalised with Down's Syndrome and is never visited by his mum, not even on his 18th birthday. But then she's too busy drinking herself into serious illness. John's only support comes from his best pal Sean (Will Poulter), who has problems of his own as his ex (Maria Carlton) is demanding cash to support their young child. When Sean opts to move abroad to find work, John decides to get his mother into rehab, consulting a counsellor (Michael Smiley) who tells him that she will require a lot more than the one week the state can provide.
Things take a bizarre turn from here that isn't very clearly defined, but then writer-director Gerard Barrett isn't interested in explaining all of the details, mainly because he's telling the story from John's frazzled perspective. John lives through all of this a moment at a time, so the past is irrelevant, he seeks brief moments of joy wherever he can find them, and he just gets on with the job at hand, however freaky it may be. Through all of this, Barrett keeps things intense and unsettling, never quite letting the audience get its balance. This bold approach makes us feel almost as overwhelmed as John does.
Continue reading: Glassland Review
Rich Cline looks back over 2014 and shares some of the biggest let downs of the year.
Most of these movies feature actors, actresses and filmmakers who really should know better...
10) Dumb And Dumber To - After 20 years we had finally forgotten the resolutely unfunny first movie. And now they're back. Sadly, they haven't learned anything about comedy in the interim. Watch the trailer for Dumb and Dumber To here.
Continue reading: Contactmusic.com's 10 Worst Films Of 2014
A triumph on a variety of levels, this staggeringly detailed stop-motion animation has a wonderfully deranged story packed with spirited characters. It also takes on some seriously important issues without ever getting heavy-handed about it. So while we're laughing at the astounding visual mayhem, there's plenty of depth to keep our brains spinning. And what the film has to say about communal paranoia is vitally important in today's world.
The story takes place a decade after a baby was kidnapped by the Boxtrolls, nighttime scavengers who prowl by night. Over the last 10 years, their legend has grown, and the people are now terrified of being eaten. So the red-hatted Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and his sidekicks (Richard Ayoade, Nick Frost and Tracy Morgan) set a goal to exterminate the trolls in exchange for prestigious white hats, which will let them join Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) for his evening cheese-tasting events. Then Portley-Rind's daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) spots a boy among the Boxtrolls, learning that Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is actually the kidnapped baby. And that Boxtrolls aren't actually villains at all. But can she get her father to pay attention to her for even a moment, so he can understand that Snatcher is the real bad guy?
Everything on-screen is in constant motion, with cluttered scenes that are a feast for the eyes. Action sequences are complicated and layered, drawing the eye all over the screen as the stakes grow higher with each scene. The mechanical climax feels like one step too far, but the filmmakers keep the focus tightly on the characters, each of whom has a bundle of quirks and obsessions that make them flawed and likeable. Even the nefarious Snatcher has a soft side, and Kingsley has a great time bringing out each aspect of the hilariously vile character, including his scene-stealing alter ego, the fabulous drag queen Madame Frou Frou.
Continue reading: The Boxtrolls Review
With an approach so saccharine that it makes Eat Pray Love look like an edgy thriller, this heartwarming meaning-of-life odyssey is so relentlessly schmalzy that it quickly annoys anyone with even a tiny spark of cynicism inside them. And the annoying thing is that the filmmakers might have got away with it if there was any depth to the constant flow of uplifting sloganeering.
It starts in London, where the psychiatrist Hector (Simon Pegg) has a perfect life with his cheeky girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). But the misery of his patients is rubbing off on him, so he decides to go in search of the true meaning of happiness. He starts by heading to Shanghai, where he meets a stinking-rich businessman (Stellan Skarsgard) and a sexy young woman (Zhao Ming). But is happiness found in money or sex? Silly question. Moving on, he checks out knowledge and wisdom in Tibet with a monk (Togo Igawa), then charity and power in Africa with an old pal (Barry Atsma), a drug kingpin (Jean Reno) and a gang of heavily armed rebels. Finally, he heads to Los Angeles to explore nostalgia with his old flame Agnes (Toni Collette), who helps him track down an award-winning self-help author (Christopher Plummer) who's known as "the Einstein of happiness".
Based on the book by Francois Lelord, the film is assembled along an outline of Hector's discoveries along the road, so what he discovers is actually written across the screen. But none of it is remotely enlightening, so why is he travelling to China, Tibet and Africa to discover these cheesy aphorisms, which appear on trite motivational posters in every office in the Western world? In addition to the on-screen captions, there are animated segments from Hector's travel diary, which are clearly drawn by a professional artist, not this hapless goofball who can't even remember where his pen is.
Continue reading: Hector And The Search For Happiness Review
Melissa McCarthy is clearly in a rut: the title character in this film isn't very far removed from her previous roles in The Heat and Identity Thief. Yes, Tammy is another chubby slob who is on the road to some sort of epiphany, and along the way she realises that simply running a comb through her ratty hair might make her look more human. At least the film has a seriously strong supporting cast who almost make it worth a look.
Tammy (McCarthy) is sacked from her job at a fast-food outlet on the same day she discovers that her husband (Faxon) is having a fling with a neighbour (Tony Collette). In a childish rage, she runs home to her parents (Allison Janney and Dan Aykroyd) and then decides to keep running, taking her grandmother Pearl (Sarandon) along for the ride. Pearl has a dream to see Niagara Falls before she dies, but she's just about as immature as Tammy is, so they immediately start getting into trouble. Their antics include a series of incidents involving a jet-ski, flirting and more with a father and son (Gary Cole and Mark Duplass), robbing a burger joint and attending a raucous 4th of July party at the home of Pearl's wealthy cousin (Kathy Bates).
Tammy is even less worldly wise than McCarthy's previous variations on the character: she has never even attempted to grow up, so reacts to everything like a toddler. Aside from not being remotely funny, this is deeply annoying from the start. And even the characters around her don't laugh - they roll their eyes in exasperation. Then after establishing her as a relentless loser who brings misfortune on herself, the script (written by McCarthy and her real-life husband Ben Falcone, who also directs and appears as Tammy's boss) contrives to make Tammy sympathetic by portraying her as some sort of a victim. Meanwhile, she of course slowly begins to look less cartoonish simply because she changes her shirt and takes a shower along the way.
Continue reading: Tammy Review
Hector (Simon Pegg) is a top psychiatrist who may appear to have everything one needs in life; a comfortable salary, his beautiful girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) and plenty of friends; but after spending day after day listening to people complain about being so unhappy, he's starting to lose faith in his own advice. Bored of his own routine life, he takes a break from counselling and decides to embark on a round the world trip to uncover the true meaning of happiness. Visiting foreign lands far and wide shows him just how different people's lives really are and far from learning whether or not happiness exists, he begins to discover a new way of thinking. His desperate partner is feeling less than joyful about his long absence, but will his return bring them a fresh dose of contentment? Or will he decide that happiness can't be found within his London home?
The Realistic Joneses brings Will Eno's witty take on a dark family comedy to Broadway.
The Realistic Joneses – Will Eno’s new absurdist comedy, starring Tracy Letts, Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei and Michael C. Hall – seems to tick all the boxes. Not only does it have an all star cast, the premise also seems nearly foolproof. Bob (Tracy Letts) and Jennifer (Toni Collette) are struggling to communicate, caused or exacerbated by his rare — and maybe fatal — illness. The couple have become distant from one another. This is when John (Michael C. Hall) and Pony Jones (Marisa Tomei) move in next door. Eventually the two couples find that they have more than a last name in common and reach out to each other in some unlikely ways.
"The Realistic Joneses" is Will Eno's first Broadway effort.
The quirky dialogue and relatable story are some of the things that critics have praised in the play.
Continue reading: "The Realistic Joneses" - Not So Realistic, But Still Worth Seeing
With a darkly serious theme and a corny rom-com filmmaking approach, this film never quite comes together into something meaningful. The characters are full of possibilities, and the story catches the imagination, but director Pascal Chaumeil (Heartbreaker) never seems sure whether he's making a black comedy or an emotional drama.
It starts on New Year's Eve in London, as disgraced TV host Martin (Pierce Brosnan) decides to jump off a tower block. But he's interrupted by the arrival of the timid Maureen (Toni Collette), who is followed by the fiery Jess (Imogen Poots) and the secretive J.J. (Aaron Paul). Together, these four lost souls make a pact to stay alive for six more weeks until Valentine's Day, the next popular suicide date in the calendar. But their story leaks to the press, capitalising on Martin's notoriety and the fact that Jess is the daughter of a high-profile politician (Sam Neill). So they decide to escape to the sunshine for some peace.
Instead of playing this out as a brittle exploration of identity and societal expectations, the filmmakers opt for a romantic-comedy formula, with a four-way friendship standing in for the usual love story. This makes the film feel like a substandard Richard Curtis movie, constantly drifting into maudlin sentimentality. And director Chaumeil encourages the cast to overplay every scene, which makes it tricky to believe any of the characters.
Continue reading: A Long Way Down Review
The Boxtrolls are odd underground creatures that wear cardboard boxes as if they were shells. Shy and wary of the unforgiving world around them, they take to the streets at night to recycle rubbish from dustbins and store it in their homes below the streets of Cheesebridge; a town fixated with money and smelly cheese and who are less than welcoming to their sewer dwelling neighbours, who they believe to be enormous insidious menaces. That couldn't be further than the truth when it comes to the Boxtrolls; there is simply nothing menacing about them, so when they find themselves being pursued by a ruthless exterminator by the name of Archibald Snatcher, all they want to do is make sure they are well hidden. They have a protector, however, named Eggs - a young boy who the Boxtrolls adopted as a baby - and he's about to show them just how brave they can be in the face of danger.
Continue: The Boxtrolls Trailer
Check out the trailer for the black comedy below
A Long Way Down hits cinemas on March 21st
The four unlikely friends meet when attempting to commit suicide on top of a tall building on New Year’s Eve.
Continue reading: 'A Long Way Down' - Four Suicidal Strangers Find Solace [Trailer]
Martin Sharp is a disgraced TV presenter whose ambitions and family have been destroyed by his own stupid mistakes. Now feeling deeply lost and humiliated he finds that the only way to proceed is to commit suicide by leaping from the top of a London skyscraper aptly known as Topper's Tower. However, as he prepares to end his life on New Year's Eve, he is interrupted by Maureen, a middle-aged single mother also looking for a way out. Not only that, but the pair are soon joined by angst-ridden teenager Jess who also wants to jump from the roof, and then bemused pizza delivery boy and failed musician JJ after that. The four form a bond and sign a pact that they will not kill themselves before Valentine's Day in a bid to help each other get their lives back on track. When they decide to share their unusual story with the rest of the world, they become media stars and finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
'A Long Way Down' is a heartwarming comedy drama based on the bestselling novel by Nick Hornby ('About A Boy', 'High Fidelity'). The screenplay has been adapted by Jack Thorne ('The Fades', 'This Is England') and the movie directed by Pascal Chaumeil ('Heartbreaker', 'Un plan parfait'). 'A Long Way Down' is due for release on March 21st 2014.
Eggs is a young orphaned boy who had possibly the most unusual upbringing one could ever think of; he was raised by a group of inhuman trash collectors called the Boxtrolls who live in a dingy by cosy underground cave. However, The Boxtrolls, named so because of the large cardboard boxes they wear on their torsos, find their rubbish filled paradise under huge threat when a ruthless exterminator by the name of Archibald Snatcher decides to wipe out these unusual creatures for good. Eggs must do everything within his power to stop him and save his friends (and family) from certain death.
Continue: The Boxtrolls - Teaser Trailer
With a strikingly against-type performance from the late Gandolfini, this film gives the romantic-comedy formula a welcome adult spin. Writer-director Holofcener keeps the characters authentic even as she indulges in some rather farcical plotting. And her astutely observational dialog lets the cast members create characters who are funny, flawed and thoroughly engaging.
At a party, massage therapist Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) meets two people who become important in her life. First is Marianne (Keener), whose snappy wit and honesty make her much more than just a new client. And then there's Albert (Gandolfini), an unlikely suitor who charms Eva with his dry wit and warm camaraderie as they share common emotions about daughters (Fairaway and Hewson) who are leaving home for university. But as Marianne moans about her miserable ex-husband, Eva realises that she's talking about Albert. And she knows that if she tells them that she's made this connection, she'll lose both a friend and a boyfriend.
Holofcener takes this simple idea and stretches it nearly to the breaking point. Fortunately, the film's real strength lies in the interaction between these people, and it's easy to identify with their hesitance as they endure a series of awkward moments that feel bracingly realistic. All of the dialog bristles with humour that feels improvised, and Louis-Dreyfus has always been an expert at combining comedy with both underlying strength and fragility (see Veep). Gandolfini seems like a strange match for her, but he plays the role so beautifully that we root for them as a couple.
Continue reading: Enough Said Review
An especially strong script gives actors plenty to chew on in this comedy-drama, in which writer-directors Faxon and Rash (The Descendants) take an observant look at the awkward connections we make with each other. Using sparky humour and emotion, the filmmakers and cast create vivid characters we can't help but identify with, even when they do all the wrong things.
At the centre, Duncan (James) is a 14-year-old who dreads spending the summer at a beach house owned by Trent (Carrel), the cruelly critical new boyfriend of his mother Pam (Collette). When they arrive, they meet gossipy neighbour Betty (Janney), who has a whole season of neighbourhood parties planned. And her daughter Susanna (Robb) looks just about as miserable as Duncan does. As he tries to escape, Duncan finds a local water park run by colourful misfit Owen (Rockwell), who takes Duncan under his wing and offers him a summer job. And being on his own gives him the badly needed self-confidence to talk to his mother honestly, take on Trent and maybe even ask Susanna out on a date.
Even though this is essentially a standard coming-of-age movie, the script never falls into the usual cliches. For example, when Duncan's first kiss comes along, it plays out in an unexpected, realistic way. This is a generous, honest comedy packed with terrific characters and resonant situations. Supported by the all-star cast, James delivers an impressive performance as a sullen teen struggling to face the world around him , growing up while remaining awkward and likeable. Meanwhile, Stockwell keeps us laughing with a lively party-boy turn that's underscored with sympathy. Collette beautifully layers the repressive, conflicted Pam. Carell goes nicely against type as the cruelly passive-aggressive Trent. And Janney steals the show with the most hilarious lines.
Continue reading: The Way, Way Back Review
Eva, a divorced, single mother who faces the impending departure of her soon to be college bound daughter, meets Albert, an easy going, teddy-bear of man who has a complicated relationship with his ex-wife.
Eva pursues Albert and the couple's relationship quickly blossoms until Eva's latest friend, Marianne, gets a phone call from her supposedly miserable, horrible and selfish ex-husband. Albert.
Eva finds her relationship being tested and doubting her new partner after being sub-consciously influenced by Marianne. Eva must discover the truth about Albert in order find out first hand if he is as the man Marianne suggests he is.
Continue: Enough Said Trailer
Among the CBS TV show actors arriving at the network's 2013 Upfront Presentation in New York were Sharon Osbourne from 'The Talk' (who doesn't refrain from her usual face-pulling shenanigans) and the cast of 'How I Met Your Mother' Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan.
What could have been an intriguing look at how Alfred Hitchcock created one of his most iconic masterpieces is instead turned into a gently entertaining romp. We may enjoy watching the twists and turns as this troubled project takes shape, but the script simply never breaks the surface or gives its stars any real depth to play with. So in the end, the most engaging thing about the film ends up being the portrayal of Hitchcock's marriage.
The story starts with the 1959 premiere of North by Northwest, a hit that critics dismissed as more of the same from a master resting on his laurels. So Hitchcock (Hopkins) decides to give them something unexpected, and takes his first foray into horror based on the little-known novel Psycho, a fictionalised story about a real serial killer. Working closely with his wife Alma (Mirren) on every aspect of the film, he is in constant conflict with the studio chief (Portnow) and the chief censor (Smith), who both believe the material is too strong. Meanwhile, Alma is tired of him flirting with his leading ladies (Johansson and Biel), so she takes a side job with a writer (Huston) who wants to be more than friends.
Oddly, neither director Gervasi (Anvil) nor writer McLaughlin (Black Swan) seems interested in getting beneath the surface of their central character, so Hitchcock is little more than the jovial caricature we saw in his TV anthology series. Hiding under layers of prosthetic face and body fat, Hopkins is good but never seems to break a sweat in the role. Which leaves Mirren to steal the film as Alma, mainly by departing from reality to create a more intriguing movie character instead. And Collette adds some spice as Hitchcock's assistant. But as the cast of Psycho, Johansson (as Janet Leigh), Biel (Vera Miles) and D'Arcy (Anthony Perkins) are only given small details to define them, which leaves them lurking uninterestingly around the edges.
Continue reading: Hitchcock Review
Even for a riotous Australian black comedy, this film packs in just a bit too much chaos. It's consistently smart and funny, with lively characters and especially witty dialog, but some of the sideroads never go anywhere. Still, there's so much terrific material in here that it's well worth a look for fans of the genre. And it's great to see Collette return home to reunite with her Muriel's Wedding director P.J. Hogan nearly 20 years after they launched their careers.
The story centres on suburban housewife Shirley (Gibney), who is obsessed with The Sound of Music and wishes her unruly family was more like the Von Trapps. But no, her husband (LaPaglia) is the town's philandering mayor, and their five daughters all think they're mentally ill. Then when Shirley herself ends up in a psych ward, Dad brings in the drifter Shaz (Collette) to watch the girls. She takes no prisoners, whipping them into shape while trying to give them some self-respect. She also shows them that the people society considers "normal" are probably crazier than they are. Meanwhile, eldest daughter Coral (Sullivan) gets a job at a shark exhibit run by a salty fisherman (Schreiber) who has a connection with Shaz.
Writer-director Hogan packs the film with rude references to The Sound of Music, from a pastiche pre-title sequence to Shaz's unconventional Maria-like approach to child-rearing (with heavy overtones of Mary Poppins). The film is colourful and sometimes too hyperactive, with Collette often going way over-the-top as the wildly unhinged Shaz, who also upends the life of their compulsive next-door neighbour (Fox). Much of this is simply too wacky for us to go along with, but other scenes are quietly insightful and very, very funny. Often at the same time.
Continue reading: Mental Review
Alfred Hitchcock was in his sixties and struggling to come up with a fresh idea for a new movie; that was until the notoriously terrifying story of 'Psycho' by Robert Bloch came along in 1959. Arguably one of his best ideas for a movie to date, the Oscar nominated Hitchcock set to work pulling it together despite the extreme scepticism of his wife Alma Reville and Paramount Pictures who disapproved of the degree of horror the movie maker was planning to utilise. In fact, he was so confident that he was willing to pour in thousands of dollars for the film to be made when he was refused his usual budget from the studio; an action that Alma found irresponsible and rather worrying.
'Hitchcock' is drama biopic strongly focused on Alfred's often strained though very loving relationship with his wife and has been based on the book 'Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho' by Stephen Rebello. Directed by Sacha Gervasi ('Anvil: The Story of Anvil' documentary) and written by BAFTA nominee John J. McLaughlin ('Man of the House', 'Black Swan'), this is story of how 'Psycho', one of the greatest films of all time, was made including its inspiration from real-life Winconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein. It is set for release on February 8th 2013 in the UK.
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Hopkins, James D'Arcy, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ralph Macchio, Toni Collette, Judith Hoag, Danny Huston, Michael Wincott, Kurtwood Smith, Richard Portnow, John Rothman, Tara Summers, Helen Mirren.
Continue: Hitchcock Trailer
Besides some cheap scares, it never generates a moment of suspense, but it's still good fun.
In suburban Las Vegas, Charley (Yelchin) is a nerdy teen with an impossibly hot girlfriend (Poots) and a feisty single mum (Collette). But there's something suspicious about the new neighbour Jerry (Farrell), whom Charley's best friend Ed (Mintz-Plasse) insists is a vampire. And as events start to get increasingly bizarre, Charley begins to believe it himself. He asks TV vampire expert Peter Vincent (Tennant) for advice, but Peter is a jaded showman who doesn't really believe in the supernatural. Or does he?
Continue reading: FrightNight Review
Date of birth
1st November, 1972
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