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Same old same old – a tired retread, 9 October 2016

Writer Chris Frisina needs a breath of fresh air. This tired old story has few saving graces and Elizabeth Allen's direction make the story plod even more slowly. Nick Jonas needs to discuss his movie choices more closely with his agent: films this sad won't make a dent in his career if he intends to be taken seriously as an actor.

Briefly (the is so little story line hat a few words will suffice), Doug Martin (Nick Jonas – best when he take his shirt off) is living at the lake, bored, virginal, girl shy when an out of town couple decides to rent the house next door. The wife Lena is an anorexic appearing seductress (Isabel Lucas) married to an older wealthy investment banker Elliot (Dermot Mulroney) who abuses Lena under Doug's watchful eye. Lena seduces Doug, Doug is controlled by his hormones on this first sexual adventure and under cover the two carry on a sordid affair. Elliot is away most of the time but on one visit home he ends up dead and the manner in which the incident happened and is covered and investigated by sheriff Jack (Lee Sorvino) and insurance investigator Angie (Kandyse McClure) results in a very predictable worn out ending.

This is one of those films that did poorly at the box office – understandably – and is something to wait to watch until it is free on late night television re-runs to act as a somnolent.

I Am Wrath (2016)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
To be angry is to revenge the faults of others on ourselves.' Alexander Pope, 21 September 2016

Yvan Gauthier and Paul Sloan are responsible for his tight script directed by Chuck Russell and for a change of pace in the current run of corruption in the police force and in politicians in general this film stands out as a cut above the usual tales.

Stanley (John Travolta) works with cars (his history includes Black Ops years ago) and is happily married to Vivian (Rebecca De Mornay) when Vivian is killed by a group of thugs. Though Stanley identifies the killer (Luis Da Silva. Jr.) from a lineup the police (Sam Trammell) refuse to arrest him because Stanley was not a reliable witness! This starts Stanley's revenge ideas and his is aided by a fellow Black Ops colleague from the past (Christopher Meloni – never better!) and together they take down the thugs that are tied to the governor (Patrick St. Esprit) in all manner of crime ventures.

The theme is a distasteful if familiar one but the buddy aspect of Travolta and Meloni overcomes any flaws the film may have. Excellent photography and violence sequences. A strong film for this genre.

Genius (2016)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
'I don't exist anymore. I've been edited', 21 September 2016

GENIUS is the name attached to John Logan's screen lay adaptation of A. Scott Berg's 1979 novel 'Max Perkins: Editor of Genius' and Michael Granage directs a superlative cast in this recreation of the Depression of the 1930s America. Despite the fact that the film focuses on the raucous life of Thomas Wolfe, the true remarkable character throughout is Max Perkins – the editor at Scribner's in New York City who is responsible for the editing of the books of not only Wolfe but also of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The film plays the period well opening in 1929 when writer Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), decided to keep the appointment made by Max Perkins (Colin Firth), editor at Scribner's, he had no illusions: his manuscript would be turned down as had invariably been the case. But, to his amazement, his lengthy autobiographical novel 'O Lost', which was to become "Look Homeward, Angel" was accepted for publication. The only trouble was that it was overlong (5,000 pages) and had to be reduced. Although reluctant to see his poetic prose trimmed, Wolfe agreed and helped by Perkins, who had become a true friend, managed to cut 90,000 words from the book, with the result that it instantly became a favorite with the critics and bestseller. Success was even greater in 1935 when "Of Time end the River" appeared but Wolfe's inability to cope with the editing process got in the way of his relationship with his mistress (Nicole Kidman) and with Max, and Wolfe died in 1938 after writing 'You Can't Go Home Again', 'The Web and the Rock' and some short stories. Wolfe remained faithful to his appreciation for Max Perkins and died from tuberculosis of the brain a lonely man at age 38.

The supporting cast is superb – Laura Linney as Louis Perkins, Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dominic West as Ernest Hemingway – and both Law and Firth carry the story well, maintaining a credible relationship in all its stages. Unfortunately the ending of the film is gushingly saccharine – not at all a good choice. But the movie is a tasty bit of acting and history and deserves to be seen.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
'Honesty is the greatest fidelity.' 'Yeah, well, the world is not ready for your honesty.', 18 September 2016

Some films about complex relationships fly and some sink – and A BIIGER SPLASH unfortunately despite a fine cast sinks. The story by Alain Page is slight and the screenplay by David Kajganich confuses matters more (having one character mute doesn't help). Director Luca Guadagnino specializes in short films and this 2-hour plus drawn out aimless tale overtaxes his ability to make a story poignant.

Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) – an internationally famous rock star - has undergone throat surgery and is under order to not talk while she recovers. She and her current squeeze, filmmaker Paul De Smedt (the always impressive Matthias Schoenaerts) are vacationing and recovering on the idyllic sun-drenched and remote Italian island of Pantelleria. They are disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend/lover Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter Penelope Lannier (Dakota Johnson) - creating a whirlwind of jealousy, passion and, ultimately, danger for everyone involved.

Much of the reason this film drags on a bit is the character of Henry Hawkes – obnoxiously overbearing at all times, getting on every one's nerves including the audience of the movie. But that is solved…later. It is no fault of Ralph Fiennes, who plays the part to the hilt, but to the writers. Watching Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schonearts interact is a complete pleasure and Dakota Johnson makes her small part meaningful. There is considerable nudity, especially the frequently completely nude Henry, but that doesn't detract. The resolution of the story works well and to say more would be a spoiler. For the most part it is a noisy poorly paced very long song – and one that begs for an editor.

'71 (2014)
What you saw, what you think you saw, can be a very different thing to what actually happened., 17 September 2016

As we question the continuing terrorist acts between Islam and Christianity this film '71 pairs two other religious sectors – the Catholics and the Protestants in Ireland. Enough said. Religious schisms run the gamut and it is wise to take a look at what others are doing or have done along the same lines.

Gregory Burke wrote the screenplay for this noisy film directed by Yann Demange and nearly destroyed by the irrational wacky dark cinematography by Tat Radcliffe. The story is one night in Belfast in 1971. Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is a Private, a young British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit following a terrifying riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, the raw recruit must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorienting, alien and deadly landscape. Many people interact – the British leave when the crowd gets bellicose and the Irish hunt Gary Hook in a chase that results in more deaths than usual – Hook witnesses the deaths of two young lads reminding him of the close relationship he has with an orphan named Darren back home. The story is basically a deadly chase and hunt for Hook and the various characters who want him dead and those who want to tend to his wounds. Good and bad on both sides of the encounter – the usual situation for war.

Jack O'Connell is developing into a fine actor – his most recent film was the superb film Money Monster. The rest of the cat is strong but be warned – turn on the subtitles because the accents and noise make the words incomprehensible.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
'Look, nobody was complaining when it worked - it's how this business plays out', 7 September 2016

When a film focuses on unpleasant issues the people stay away in throngs. MONEY MONSTER is such a film: it unveils and focuses on the corruption on Wall Street, the manipulation of the 'new look' in present television news reporting – favoring entertainment over reportage, and it gives at least one solid example of how many individuals are being damaged by the billionaire mentality that pervades almost every aspect of our powers that be. Written with biting panache by Jamie Linden, Alan DeFiore and Jim Kouf and directing with extraordinary sensitivity by Jodie Foster, MONEY MOSTER is a must see – if viewers are concerned about the myriad problems confronting us at the present time.

A short synopsis from Sony Pictures - In the real-time, high stakes thriller, George Clooney and Julia Roberts star as financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty, who are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor who has lost everything (Jack O'Connell) forcefully takes over their studio. During a tense standoff broadcast to millions on live TV, Lee and Patty must work furiously against the clock to unravel the mystery behind a conspiracy at the heart of today's fast-paced, high-tech global markets.

Though both Clooney and Roberts give their usual outstanding performances, much credit for the success of this film must go to the brilliant portrayal of the angry young man Kyle Budwell as splendidly and thoroughly portrayed by the fine young British actor Jack O'Connell: if Oscars are fair, he will be at least nominated for best supporting role. Others in the cast are excellent – Caitriona Balfe, Dominic West, Lenny Venito, et al. This is tough film to watch but the manner in which it is brought to an end is one of the most sensitive closures of a thriller on record. Highly Recommended.

'You are pretty much the only thing that makes me wanna get up in the morning.', 4 September 2016

This film is one of those rare instances where a novel (by JoJo Moyes) is adapted for the screen by the novelist and finds a sensitive director such as Thea Sharrock and the result is a story that could have been sanguine but instead is an enriching emotional journey. To discover this film among all the crime and killing and morbid vampire or other undead creatures stories and overblown CGI comic book/fairy tale adventures is a breath of fresh air.

The story takes place in England and in a very subtle way shares an insight between the wealthy and the poor – emphasizing that richness is truly in the spirit rather than the bank account. Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her long-term boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis). Her family (Brendan Coyle, Jenna Coleman, Samantha Spiro and Alan Breck) needs money and insist Lou seek employment when Lou loses her job: it is out of pure fortitude that she finds one - as caretaker of a young wealthy quadriplegic – a job that ultimately keeps her sane. Will Traynor (excellent Sam Claflin) knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He is supported by his male nurse Nathan (the superb Stephen Peacocke) as well as his loving parents (Janet McTeer and Charles Dance). He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that – a planned death after fulfilling his parent's plea for a six month reprise. What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of color. And neither of them knows they're going to change each other for all time until Lou concocts a bucket list of events that brings light into her life as well as joy into Will's final days.

Without becoming morbid, the interplay between Lou and Will is a transformation and due to the splendid script and sensitive direction and a cast of superb actors in every part this little film makes a lasting impression, restoring our faith in what friendship and love can achieve. In short, this is a brilliant little film worthy of at least one watching- if not multiple! Highly recommended.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
'We are going out with a show people will never forget.', 3 September 2016

And the sequels rerun on and on. NOW YOU SEE ME was an entertaining movie, but sadly Ed Solomon and Peter Chiarelli (with characters by Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt) let the original concept become simply tiresome, not only in story but in silly diversions that add little except excessive length to this remake/extension now called NOW YOU SEE ME 2. John M. Chu can't seem to keep it together enough to make it fascinating the way the original played.

As the plot goes, 'one year after outwitting the FBI and winning the public's adulation with their Robin Hood-style magic spectacles, The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan) resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is none other than Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), a tech prodigy who threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. Their only hope is to perform one last unprecedented stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all. Mark Ruffalo is the FBI/Four Horsemen accomplice, Morgan Freeman is now out of Prison and stirring up details, unfortunately Woody Harrelson is now morphed into a twin (silly repulsive makeup and wig and eccentric mannerisms as a bad guy), Michael Caine is still on board, and a host of Chinese and American actors who range from noticeable to invisible.

Some of the visual effects are well done, some of the magic ticks are cute if overplayed, but in the long run this film has little comparison to the first version. Too long, too loosely assimilated. And sadly, there is another sequel on the way.........

Blackhat (2015)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
'This isn't about money. This isn't about politics. I can target anyone, anything, anywhere.', 2 September 2016

Director Michael Mann (Collateral, The Insider, Heat, The Last of the Mohicans) tries to make this story by Morgan Davis Foehl work by enlisting the always popular Chris Hemsworth as the main character of interest, but the story is so slippery and long- winded that the movie becomes somnolent. Some of the interest is maintained by flipping the tale from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta and the photography is splendid. If you're ready for lots of filling, dialogue in three languages (occasionally translated with subtitles), and some sensitive new faces in major roles, then give this a spin – there is plenty of time for kitchen etc breaks without losing a second of the thin plot.

Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), a top of the line talented hacker who has gone astray, finds his way out of a 15 year prison sentence when parts of a computer code he once wrote during his youth appears in a malware that triggered a terrorist attack in a nuclear power plant in China. This opportunity will reunite him with an old friend (Viola Davis) but will also put him in the middle of a power game between the American and Chinese government as well as an arch villain hacker whose identity he has to find if he wants to keep his freedom and his life.

Viola Davis, Leehorn Wang, Wei Tang, Andy On, Holt McCallany, and that 'always the evil bad guy' Ritchie Coaster bring as much to their roles as they're given by the script. But at least for everyone concerned this is another chance to see the current heartthrob around the world – Chris Hemsworth – act well and be buff.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
'There's no hope for love. Love ends in betrayal.', 28 August 2016

Director Cedric Nicholas-Troyan (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Ring) continues his fascination with fairy tales – Snow White in particular – by pushing the envelope on the Huntsman into this second foray of the ancient fairy tale. Due to extraordinary CGI visual effects and the wonderful comic attitude of Chris Hemsworth and a cast that seems to be having a good time in the midst of all the gore and silliness, the film is entertaining.

The story pushes everything to the extremes but in short the story has been summarized as follows: The evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron) finds that her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) is pregnant and in love with a noble. Freya gives birth to a baby girl but her lover murders the baby unleashing her rage and her ice powers ice powers and she kills the father. Freya heads to North and builds a palace and an army that captures children from the villages to be raised as soldiers without love. Years later, their children Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) are grown-up and unfortunately in love – breaking the sole law of Freya's reign. As they plan to flee Freya discovers their secret love and builds an ice wall between them. Eric sees Sara being murdered stabbed on her back by their friend Tull (Sope Dirisu) and Eric is dumped into a frozen river but survives. Eric grieves the death of his beloved Sara on a daily basis. One day, Snow White is ill and her husband seeks out Eric to tell that the Magic Mirror was taken while carried to a place called Sanctuary. Eric teams-up with four dwarfs (Nick Frost, Rob Brydin, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach) to find the mirror, but they are attacked by Freya army and saved by Sara who is alive. And on and on to disappearing evil queens and love conquers all.

Overdone is an understatement, but as mentioned before the degree of tongue in cheek humor (especially from Hemsworth) keeps the tale afloat. And the special effects are indeed spectacular!

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