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The Homesman (2014)
I remember seeing the trailer for this film on a DVD, and some months later it was broadcast on television, I was attracted to it mainly because of the stars, it was rated well and had a good sounding plot, I was looking forward to it. Basically Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) is a spinster from New York, a former teacher who journeyed to the Midwest for more opportunity. She lives in the small farming community of Loup in the Nebraska Territory, and has significant financial prospects and sizable land ownership. She seems strong and independent but suffers from depression and feels isolated. She makes dinner for her neighbour Bob Giffen (Evan Jones), she later proposes they get married, but he turns her down saying she is "plain, and too bossy", he then leaves. After a harsh winter, three women from the community begin to show signs of mental instability due to hardships they have suffered. Arabella Sours (Grace Gummer) has lost three children to diphtheria, Theoline Belknap (Miranda Otto) kills her own child after her family risks starvation, and Danish immigrant Gro Svendsen (Sonja Richter) has an abusive husband and has a breakdown after her mother dies. Reverend Alfred Dowd (John Lithgow) calls a town meeting asking someone to escort the women eastward to a church in Hebron, Iowa that cares for the mentally ill. Most of the men refuse to participate to determine who will escort the women, Cuddy proposes that she does it, and eventually they all agree. While preparing for her journey, Cuddy encounters George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones, also writing and directing), a claim jumper, who has been lynched and is in a noose on a horse for stealing. Briggs begs Cuddy for help, scared of the journey ahead she frees him, on the condition that he helps her to escort the three women. He immediately casts doubt on the job and insists he be free to abandon her at any time, Cuddy tells him that $300 awaits him on their arrival in Iowa, but she secretly keeps it with her. Briggs's experience comes in handy when the group crosses paths with hostile natives. This includes an incident where Arabella is kidnapped by a Freighter (Tim Blake Nelson), there is a violent scuffle, it ends when Arabella kills the kidnapper. They stop on the journey to repair a grave desecrated by Indians, Cuddy stays to do so while Briggs insists on pushing on, she loses her way but eventually catches up. Cuddy is distraught following her wandering in the desert and getting lost, she suggests to Briggs getting married, like previous men he refuses to do so. Later that night, a naked Cuddy propositions him, and despite his initial protesting, the two have sex. Waking up late the next morning, Briggs finds that Cuddy has hanged herself. Briggs chastises Sours, Belknapp, and Svendsen, blaming their illness for Cuddy's death as he buries her body. He discovers that she had the $300 with her the whole time, and so takes a horse and abandons the three women. However, the trio surprisingly follow him on foot, Arabella is almost drowned chasing him across a river, Briggs saves her and decides to continue taking the three of them to Iowa. Briggs seeks food and shelter at an empty hotel belonging to Aloysius Duffy (James Spader), he informs him that they are expecting guests, and letting the women stay would sour the establishment. There is a brief stand-off between Briggs and Duffy, Briggs leaves, but returns that night to set fire to the hotel, taking a suckling pig to feed himself and the women before leaving, apart from the cook who Briggs sent away, all inside are burned alive. Briggs reaches Hebron, passing the women into the care of Altha Carter (Meryl Streep), the wife of the church's reverend, he informs her of Cuddy's death but does not disclose the true cause. Feeling guilty for rejecting Mary Bee's proposal, he has a wooden slab engraved with her name and plans to mark her grave with it. He meets hard-working young maid Tabitha Hutchinson (Hailee Steinfeld) and later proposes to her, advising her not to marry some young man going west and to stay in town, she answers "maybe". He then boards a ferry heading back west and starts singing a rowdy song with two musicians on board, he is told to stop by people at the pier, he chastises them, then returns to singing as the ferry departs, and Mary Bee's marker goes into the river. Also starring David Dencik as Thor Svendsen, William Fichtner as Vester Belknap, Barry Corbin as Buster Shaver, Jesse Plemons as Garn Sours, Jo Harvey Allen as Mrs. Polhemus and Caroline Lagerfelt as Netti Svendsen. Jones is good as the shady old man with mixed reactions to the job in hand, Swank is pretty good as the troubled single woman, the three females acting as quiet and crazy do well, and there are some good performances from the supporting cast. It is an interesting story of a journey across the wilderness set during the 19th century American frontier, it has been a long while since there has been a good film in this well-established genre, the script is well put together, the period detail is splendid, and there are some memorable moments of action and emotion, overall it is a worthwhile western. Very good!
Cult of Chucky (2017)
Cult of Chucky
The Child's Play/Chucky franchise has been a mixed bag over the years, the original and Bride of Chucky are considered the ones that stand out, but straight-to-DVD entry Curse of Chucky was a surprisingly good revival, this sequel followed four years after, directed by creator of the killer doll, Don Mancini (Seed of Chucky). Basically following the previous events, grown up Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has the original head of Good Guy doll Chucky (Brad Dourif), which is conscious and deformed after being repeatedly tortured by Andy. Meanwhile, paraplegic Nica (Fiona Dourif, Brad's daughter) has spent the past four years in a mental institution after being framed by Chucky for the murders of her family. Having had therapy, she is now convinced that she was responsible for the murders and that Chucky was a manifestation of her psychosis. She has been transferred to the medium-security Harrogate Psychiatric Hospital by her doctor, Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault). In group therapy, Nica meets Malcolm (Adam Hurtig) who has multiple-identity disorder; elderly Angela (Marina Stephenson Kerr) who believes she is dead; Claire (Grace Lynn Kung) who burned her house down; and Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen) who smothered her infant son to death. Dr. Foley introduces a therapy technique involving a Good Guys doll, most of the patients are unsettled by the doll except for Madeleine, who treats it as her baby. Nica is visited by Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), the legal guardian of her niece Alice (Summer H. Howell), she is devastated when Tiffany tells her that Alice has died, apparently from a broken heart. Tiffany leaves Nica a Good Guys doll, which she claims was a gift from Alice, it is Chucky, who that night comes to life and discovers Nica has attempted suicide. The next morning, Nica finds that her wrists have been stitched up, with a message saying "not so fast". She discovers Angela has been killed, leaving the message "Chucky did it" in the puddle of her blood. Nica realises Valentine was the last name of the girlfriend of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, Chucky's real name. Fearing Madeleine is in danger, Nica has Malcolm try to warn her, but Madeline, throws both the doll and Malcolm into an empty grave, Malcolm is rescued by the orderlies. Claire realises that Chucky is alive, after trying to throw him down a chute and him biting her. She panics trying to warn Dr. Foley, but he drugs her on an operating table, paralysing her, and Chucky kills her by shattering the glass of the window above, decapitating her. Andy learns about the murders reading online articles and realises Chucky has somehow managed to transfer his soul into multiple bodies at once. Nica agrees to be hypnotized by Foley in a private session in order to access any repressed memories about her involvement in the murders. Foley, who has been sexually abusing Nica, is hit from behind by Chucky, the doctor believes Nica assaulted him but is willing to keep quiet in order to blackmail her for sexual favours. Madeleine smothers her Good Guys doll with a pillow, forcing her to confront the repercussions of her real child's death, the orderlies bury the doll in order to appease Madeleine. Determined to end the carnage and save Nica, Andy turns up at the institution and is committed by assaulting one of the security guards. Foley is delivered another package by Nurse Carlos (Zak Santiago), it is another Good Guy doll, while Madeline is visited by her own doll, she allows the doll to kill her so she can finally be with her dead child. Foley attempts to assault Nica, but one of the Chucky dolls knocks him out, and he wakes up the second Chucky doll that Andy had sent. The three Chuckys reveal that the original Chucky found a voodoo spell which allows him to separate his soul into multiple host bodies. Alice was one host, but she was killed, then all the dolls then kill Carlos in front of Nica. Tiffany returns and kills a security guard by slashing his throat, while one of the Chuckys transfers his soul into Nica, giving her body the ability to walk again. He stomps on Foley's head until it is crushed, he stumbles on Malcolm who admits killing Nurse Ashley (Ali Tataryn), he is then killed by Madeleine's Chucky. A short-haired Chucky appears and attacks Andy, but Andy reaches for a gun he had planted in its stomach, he shoots the doll before stomping its head, killing him. He then shoots at Nica Chucky, only to discover that he has no ammunition left. The institution is sent into lockdown, resulting in Andy being locked inside his cell, Madeleine's Chucky going into hiding, and Nica Chucky escaping. Nica Chucky reunites with Tiffany before driving off together with the Tiffany doll, which is revealed to be alive as well. In a post-credits sequence, Andy's former foster sister Kyle (Child Play's 2's Christine Elise) enters Andy's house, Andy sent for her to continue torturing the original Chucky's severed head. Like the previous entry, this is trying to be scary or tense than funny, the new concept of multiple killer dolls can get a little confusing, but Dourif remains likeable as the possessed toy, and Dourif's daughter is a welcome return as the heroine, and there are some clever references to the past films in the series, it is much more violent as well, I will admit it is not a fun as previously, but it's a reasonable horror. Worth watching!
I hadn't watched a film from the current 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book for over a month, so I decided to choose a classic film, I was lucky to find this one that was hard to get your hands on, from Oscar nominated director William Wyler (Wuthering Heights, Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, Roman Holiday, The Big Country, Ben-Hur, Funny Girl). Basically Sam Dodsworth (Oscar nominated Walter Huston) is a good-hearted, middle-aged man who runs an auto manufacturing firm. His wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton) is obsessed with the notion that she's growing old, and she eventually persuades Sam to sell his interest in the company, to retire and take her to Europe for a "second honeymoon". He agrees for the sake of their marriage, which is in crisis, but before long Fran is thinking of herself as a cosmopolitan sophisticate and thinks of Sam is dull and unadventurous. Seeking some excitement, and desperate to be seen as an attractive young woman, Fran begins spending her time with other men. This includes light flirtation with a handsome English gentleman Captain Lockert (David Niven), but she hastily retreats when he suggests it becoming more serious. She eventually informs Sam that she's leaving him for a minor member of royalty. While in Italy, Sam runs into Edith Cortright (Mary Astor), an attractive widow he first met while sailing to Europe. Edith seems to understand Sam and is everything Fran is not: self-assured, self-confident, and able to take care of herself, and they fall in love. However, Sam impulsively breaks off their relationship, only to discover in her absence just how deeply he cares for her. Then Fran announces that she no longer wants the divorce he had agreed to give her, Sam must make a decision. But in the end Sam realises their marriage is irrevocably over, so at the last moment, he gets off the ship to rejoin Edith. Also starring Paul Lukas as Arnold Iselin, Gregory Gaye as Kurt Von Obersdorf, Oscar nominated Maria Ouspenskaya as Baroness von Obersdorf, Odette Myrtil as Renée de Penable, Kathryn Marlowe as Emily and John Howard Payne as Harry. Huston, Chatterton, Astor and Niven give good performances, the script is witty enough, and it shot well, I will admit I found the majority a bit boring, a bit too chatty and not much going on, and I lost track at times, but it is a reasonable and simplistic classic romantic drama. It won the Oscar for Best Art Direction, and it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Writing, Screenplay and Best Sound, Recording. Worth watching!
Captain Marvel (2019)
This was the next entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the leading hero was called upon at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, but this is a prequel to how the whole Avengers project got started, and an origins story for the female hero, the first leading female in the series, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson). Basically in 1995, on the planet of Hala, the capital of the Kree Empire, Starforce member Vers (Room's Brie Larson) is having recurring nightmares involving an older woman (Annette Bening). Her mentor and commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) trains her to control her abilities while the Supreme Intelligence, an artificial intelligence and the ruler of the Kree, urges her to control her emotions. The Kree are at war with the Skrulls, a race of alien shapeshifters, Vers is captured by their commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) during a mission to rescue an undercover operative infiltrating a Skrull group. She is taken aboard their vessel bound for the planet Earth and subjected to a memory probe. Vers escapes and crash-lands on Earth in Los Angeles in a Blockbuster store, she is found by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Their investigation is interrupted by a Skrull attack, following the chase, Vers recovers a crystal containing her extracted memories, while Fury kills a Skrull impersonating Coulson. Talos, disguised as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Keller (also Mendelsohn), orders Fury to work with Vers and keep an eye on her. Fury takes Vers to a U.S. Air Force base and discovers she was a pilot presumed to have died in 1989. She was testing an experimental engine designed by Dr. Wendy Lawson, Vers recognises her as the woman from her nightmares. Talos and a S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to capture them, but they escape in a cargo jet, with Lawson's cat Goose. They fly to Louisiana to meet former pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), the last person to see Vers and Lawson alive. Just as Vers discovers her real name is Carol Danvers, Talos arrives at the Rambeau house, he reveals the Skrulls are refugees searching for a new home and Lawson was a renegade Kree scientist helping them. He then plays the recovered black box from Lawson's plane, prompting Danvers to remember the crash: Lawson was killed by Yon-Rogg before she could destroy the engine's energy-core, Danvers was forced to do so and absorbed the energy from the ensuing explosion, this is how she lost her memory. Danvers, Talos, Fury and Rambeau work together to locate Lawson's cloaked laboratory orbiting Earth, where Lawson hid several Skrulls including Talos' family, and the Tesseract, the source of the energy-core. Danvers is captured by Starforce and connects with the Supreme Intelligence, during their conversation she is able to access all her abilities, by removing the Kree implant that was suppressing her powers. In the subsequent battle, Fury retrieves Goose, who is revealed to be an alien with a pocket dimension inside her body and swallows the Tesseract before scratching Fury's left eye, permanently blinding it. Danvers, who earns the nickname Captain Marvel, leaves to help find a new homeworld for the Skrulls and gives Fury a modified pager to contact her in an emergency. Meanwhile, Fury drafts an initiative aimed at locating heroes like her, with abilities, he changes the name of the project after seeing a photo of Danvers in her Air Force jet, which bears the call sign "Avenger". In the mid-credits sequence, set in the present day, Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and James Rhodes aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), the remaining Avengers, are monitoring the pager that Fury activated before his disintegration, Danvers appears and demands to know where Fury is. In the post-credits sequence, back in 1995, Goose jumps onto Fury's desk and regurgitates the Tesseract. Also starring Rune Temte as Bron-Char, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Algenis Perez Soto as Att-Lass, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, Lee Pace as Ronan, Chuku Modu as Soh-Larr, Matthew Maher as Norex, Kenneth Mitchell as Carol's Father, Mckenna Grace as Young Carol (13 Years Old), London Fuller as Young Carol (6 Years Old), Colin Ford as Steve Danvers, Robert Kazinsky as Biker (The Don), Marilyn Brett as Older Lady on Train and Stan Lee (who sadly passed away from cancer) has a posthumous cameo as himself reading the script for his role in Mallrats, the opening Marvel Studios logo also honours his memory with clips of his cameos and on-set moment, and the words "Thank You Stan". Larson is well chosen as the feisty human-turned-alien heroine, Jackson is terrific and the younger future director of the Avengers, the verbal sparring between Larson and Jackson make for some highlights, and there is good support from Mendelsohn, Law and Bening. The references to the 1990s time period are clever, the special effects are amazing, especially to make Jackson twenty years younger, it does slow down at times for the necessary chat sequences, but there are enough small giggles, it packs a punch with the explosive and exciting fight and chase sequences, and it sets you up nicely for Avengers: Endgame, a fun superhero fantasy action adventure. Good!
Una Mujer Fantástica (2017)
A Fantastic Woman
I always make an effort to see as many awards nominated and winning movies from Award Season as possible, it isn't as straight to forward to watch the foreign language films, but I'm glad I found this Spanish language top prize winner. Basically in Santiago, Chile, a transgender woman named Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega) works as a waitress during the day, and during the night is a nightclub singer. She is has recently moved in with her boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes), an older man, who takes her to dinner to celebrate her birthday. That night, Orlando complains he is not feeling well, Marina prepares to take him to the hospital, but he falls down a flight of stairs. After driving Orlando to the hospital and checking him in, she is told by a doctor that Orlando has died of a brain aneurysm. She runs from the hospital, then the police pick her up for questioning, they demand an explanation for why she left so suddenly. Orlando's brother Gabo (Luis Gnecco) helps her to convince the police officers that she had no involvement in his death, they let her go and take Orlando's car home. Marina is contacted by Sonia (Aline Küppenheim), Orlando's ex-wife, they arrange for Marina to drop off Orlando's car. She meets with Sonia, who is very upfront about her transphobic feelings towards Marina. Shortly after, Orlando's son Bruno (Nicolás Saavedra) moves in with Marina into the apartment, but he intends to drive her out, he also insists on taking Orlando's dog, Diabla. While working as a waitress, Marina is visited by detective, Adriana (Amparo Noguera), who questions her about sexual assault, she is concerned about the bruises Orlando suffered during his fall. To prove her innocence, Marina is forced to report to the police station to be photographed nude to provide evidence there was no physical exchange between them on the night of Orlando's death. Marina is greeted by her sister Wanda (Trinidad González) and Wanda's partner Gastón (Néstor Cantillana) the following day as she prepares to move out of Orlando's apartment. They and Sonia warn Marina not to attend Orlando's wake, she ignores this, the service stops upon her entrance and Sonia demands her to leave. Gabo follows her and apologises to her, and later she is approached by Bruno and his friends from a car. They grab her and force her into the car, they threaten her and wrap her face in scotch tape and dump her in an alleyway. Marina is scared and alone, she walks to a gay club to try and settle her nerves, she dances the night away, including with a boy, and that evening stays with Wanda and Gastón. The following morning, she reads the newspaper and finds the details of Orlando's funeral, her friends warn her to let it go, and Marina says she will not attend. However, she does go to the funeral home after the ceremony has taken place. She enters the graveyard and is confronted by Orlando's family in a car, who insult her. Then she climbs on top of the car and demands she wants the dog, they are stunned and drive away. Marina follows an employee into the morgue and is able to see Orlando's body and say goodbye to him before his cremation. In the end, she is seen taking the dog for a walk, and singing an opera recital to a packed auditorium. Also starring Alejandro Goic as Doctor, Antonia Zegers as Alessandra and Sergio Hernández as Professor de Canto. Vega gives a mesmerising performance who endures humiliation, suspicious or contemptuous looks, and justifying herself as a woman, but she stands tall as a dignified and defiant heroine. The story revolves around a trans woman trying to prove innocence for a false allegation, and there is a subplot where she was left a key and she seeks the lock and contents it leads to, the highlight is in the dance club with all the sparkly costumes, but more than anything this is a tale of female empowerment, a most interesting and irresistible drama. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language. Very good!
Zimna wojna (2018)
I think I saw film critic Mark Kermode talking about this Polish film on one of his programmes, it looked interesting, it was getting positive reviews, and then it received nominations during Awards Season, I hoped it would be good, from Oscar and BAFTA nominated Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida). Basically the story is set in the ruins of post-war Poland, and also in Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, during the 1950s. It is about a pianist/composer/music director, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), who presides over an audition to set up a traditional folk-dance troupe to tour. During this process he meets and falls in love with beautiful free-spirited, changeable singer, Zula (Joanna Kulig). They are two people with different backgrounds and natural predispositions, who are fatefully mismatched but condemned to be with each other. As performing musicians, they are forced to play into the communist propaganda movement, they long to escape and find creative freedom in the West. They one day get the opportunity to make a break for freedom to France but fall out with each other and make a decision that will change their lives. It is ultimately an impossible love during impossible times, as Wiktor and Zula are separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate. Also starring Borys Szyc as Kaczmarek, Agata Kulesza as Irena, Cédric Kahn as Michel, Jeanne Balibar as Juliette, Adam Woronowicz as Consul and Adam Ferency as Minister. Kot does well as the lead male musician, but it is Kulig who stands out, channelling a likeness to young Bridgette Bardot, looking vivacious and with a beautiful singing voice, the two leads make a believable, flawed couple who are living during austerity in the Soviet-controlled times, it is made much more entrancing by the use of black-and-white colour, it is slow at times, but the love story and the music throughout is most watchable, overall it is a worthwhile historical period romantic drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year and Best Cinematography, and it was nominated the BAFTAs for Best Film Not in the English Language, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Very good!
Free Solo (2018)
When the nominations were cropping up during Awards Season, I was really hoping that They Shall Not Grow Old (celebrating the centenary of the First World War) would pick up the big accolades, but this documentary was the one getting the most attention, I'm glad I got the opportunity to see it in a cinema. Basically this factual film follows rock climber Alex Honnold on his quest to perform a free solo climb of El Capitan in June 2017. Honnold had been rock climbing since a young age, and has become world-famous due being a free soloist climber, climbing mountain tops and cliff edges, thousands of feet high, without any climbing or safety equipment whatsoever! This film is a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait as he prepares to take on his biggest conquest, his lifelong dream the face of the world's most famous rock, the 3,000 feet El Capitan, a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley. Many climbers have taken on and succeeded the challenge, but none without ropes, and there have been many stories of free solo climbers that have lost their lives trying to attempt such daring feats. Honnold spends a few weeks practising his ascent of the formation with the aid of ropes, as world-renowned photographer and mountaineer, director Jimmy Chin, and his crew struggled from the National Geographic work out how to film and not affect Honnold's climb. Honnold not only has to worry about the risk of falling to his death, with the simplest mistake, he also to consider the feelings of his mother, Dierdre Wolownick, his girlfriend Sanni McCandless, and his friends in the film crew. Finally, it comes to the day of the climb, and Honnold navigates his way up the mountain side, the crew watch with bated breath and can hardly watch as he climbs. However, after a few tense hours, Honnold completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history. With contributions from fellow renowned free climber Tommy Caldwell. The human story behind Alex Honnold is interesting, the journey for him to achieve his dreams has tense moments, and the people in his life who have to hope that for perfection or death are likeable. But the most thrilling scenes are of course the final climb, it is really gripping, heart in your mouth stuff, but an extraordinary accomplishment, not for the faint hearted or those who have a fear of heights, and a most worthwhile documentary. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, and it won the BAFTA for Best Documentary. Very good!
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
I looked up all the movies that were nominated during Awards Season, I was really happy to find this one that was made by and featured on Netflix, it was rated very well, so I was looking forward to it, written and directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis). Basically the film consists of six unrelated stories that take place in the American frontier, or the Old West. "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" - Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson) is a cheerful singing cowboy, a wanted man, with great skills with his pistols, he kills a man insulting him. He enters a saloon and replaces a player in a game of poker, after seeing his hand he asks to change cards, but the other players insist he play what he has been dealt. When Buster refuses, large menacing player Çurly Joe (Clancy Brown) stands and gets out a concealed pistol, but Buster repeatedly kicks the table plank, tipping Joe's gun so it points backwards and fires into his face, he shoots himself three times and falls dead. Buster sings a song boisterous song about "Surly Joe" to the delight of the crowd, but then Joe's brother Ike (Danny McCarthy) arrives and challenges Buster to a gunfight in the street. Buster gladly obliges and proceeds to shoot off each of Ike's fingers from his right hand, before finishing him off with a shot delivered over the shoulder using a mirror. Then a young gunslinger, The Kid (Willie Watson) rides into town and politely challenges Buster, he obliges, but to his surprise the young man is much faster on the draw, Buster is shot in the forehead, the young man and the spirit of Buster sing a duet as the dead cowboy floats towards heaven. "Near Algodones" - a young Cowboy (James Franco) robs an isolated bank on the prairie but is forced to take cover when the jabbering Bank Teller (Stephen Root) shoots at him. He returns fire, but the taller charges at him wearing a washboard and several pots and pans as armour, deflecting the cowboy's bullets, and the teller knocks him out with his rifle butt. The cowboy regains consciousness and finds himself sitting on a horse under a tree with his hands tied and a noose around his neck. A lynching posse, led by a lawman dressed in black (Ralph Ineson), ask for his final words, but the execution is interrupted by ambushing Comanche warriors who slaughter the lawman and posse but leave the cowboy in place upon the horse. The cowboy struggles to stay on the horse, until he is found and freed by a scruffy young Drover (Jesse Luken), who is actually a rustler. But the cowboy winds up captured by another lawman's posse, he is sentenced by the grumpy old fart of a Judge (Michael Cullen), the cowboy stands upon the gallows with three other men, the hangman abruptly hoods him and pulls the trapdoor lever to cheers and applause. "Meal Ticket" - an aging Impresario (Liam Neeson) and his artist Harrison (Harry Potter's Harry Melling), a young man with no arms or legs, travel from town to town in a wagon that converts into a small stage. Harrison theatrically recites classics such as Shelley's poem "Ozymandias", the biblical story of Cain and Abel, works by Shakespeare, and Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The impresario collects money from the audience at the end of each performance, but profits are dwindling as they visit increasingly remote mountain towns with smaller and more indifferent audiences. Following a performance with no profit, the impresario observes a man nearby drawing a crowd with a chicken performing basic maths by pecking at painted numbers to answer addition and subtraction equations called out by the audience. After buying the chicken, the impresario drives the wagon through a mountain pass, stopping by a bridge over a rushing river to drop something into the water, and he continues to travel, the caged chicken as his only passenger. "All Gold Canyon" - a grizzled Prospector (Tom Waits) arrives in a pristine mountain valley and starts digging for gold in a grassy meadow beside a river. Over the course of several days, he pans through mounds dirt to find gold specks, trying to identify the source, until digging a deeper hole in the area he believes it is located. On the third day, he digs out gold nuggets of increasing size, until he is overjoyed to find "Mr. Pocket", a large gold vein running through the quartz. At that moment he has made the discovery, a young man (Sam Dillon) stands over him aiming a pistol, he shoots the prospector in the back and he falls face down. After leaving him to bleed for a few moments, and presuming he is dead, the young man jumps into the hole to steal the gold, the prospector wrestles with him, and grabs the gun to kill the young man. The prospector cleans his non-fatal wound in the river, and finishes mining the gold, pushes the young man's body into the hole to serve as his grave, and he walks away. "The Gal Who Got Rattled" - Alice Longabaugh (Zoe Kazan) and her older brother Gilbert (Jefferson Mays), an inept businessman, are journeying in a wagon train across the prairie towards Oregon. Gilbert dies of cholera shortly after they embark, and the wagon train's leaders, Mr. Billy Knapp (Bill Heck) and Mr. Arthur (Grainger Hines), help Alice bury her brother. Alice decides to continue the trip, Matt (Ethan Dubin), the young man Gilbert hired to lead their wagon, mentions money he was promised when they reach Fort Laramie. Fearing Gilbert's money was buried with him, she conveys her predicament to Billy, who offers his support of what to do next. With continued conversations, Billy becomes fond of Alice, and proposes to solve her dilemma by marrying her in Fort Laramie, to close the debt, and build a family. Alice is surprised with by Billy's proposal, but she has grown fond of him, she accepts, and Billy informs Mr. Arthur that this will be their last ride together. The following morning, Mr. Arthur notices Alice missing, he rides over the hills and finds her, when they spot an Indian army approaching. Mr, Arthur gives Alice a pistol so that if he killed, he can shoot herself and avoid capture. A battle ensues, Mr. Arthur appears to killed by a charging warrior, but he kills the Indian, but he is devastated to find Alice has killed, as he has instructed, he does not know what to say to Billy. "The Mortal Remains" - at sunset, five people are travelling to Fort Morgan, Colorado in a stagecoach: Thigpen, an Englishman (Jonjo O'Neill), Clarence, an Irishman (Brendan Gleeson), René, a Frenchman (Saul Rubinek), Mrs. Betjeman, a lady (Tyne Daly), and a fur Trapper (Chelcie Ross). There may be a corpse on the roof of the stagecoach, the Trapper rambles about his past relationship with a Native woman, and the other characters discuss their opinions and experiences of love, often disgusting the devout Christian lady, who has an attack. The driver's policy is not to stop for any reason, but she is calmed down, they then continue their conversation, talking about hunting, until they reach hotel in Fort Morgan where they will all be staying, and a corpse is taken from the top of the coach inside. Also starring David Krumholtz as Frenchman, Paul Rae as Chicken Impresario and Billy Lockwood as Father. I will admit the last two stories are not as interesting as the first four (it was originally supposed to be a television series), but all work to create a heartfelt love poem to the Wild West, the performances are all terrific, and you can tell that the Coen brothers have a deep affection for the genre, a most worthwhile western anthology. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Original Song for "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings", Best Costume Design and Best Adapted Screenplay for Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Costume Design. Very good!
This may be regarded as one of the lesser known movies from director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, GoodFellas, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street), at least by title, I only found out about it because it used to be in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Basically the story spans from 1937 to 1959, set in Tibet, with trips to China and India. The search is on for the fourteenth Dalai Lama, eventually a promising candidate is found: a child born to a farming family in the province of Amdo, near the Chinese border. The child (Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin) passes a test, identifying objects from a selection that belonged to the previous Dalia Lama. The child and his family are brought to Potala Palace in Lhasa, where he will be installed as Dalai Lama when he comes of age. During the journey, the child becomes homesick and frightened, but is comforted by Reting Rinpoche (Sonam Phuntsok), who tells him the story of "Kundun", the first Dalai Lama. The boy (Gyurme Tethong and Tenzin Yeshi Paichang) matures in both age and learning, and eventually the Dalai Lama takes a more active role in governance and religious leadership. Over the next few years, the Dalai Lama (Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong) faces the forces of Chinese Communists, experiences a series of atrocities suffered by his people, has a meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong (Robert Lin) in Beijing, has the Chinese threatening to kill him, becomes very ill and experiences two personal visions, and it ends with him returning to his residence with the hope that in the future he will make history. Also starring Tencho Gyalpo as the Dalai Lama's Mother, Tsewang Migyur Khangsar as the Dalai Lama's Father, Tenzin Lodoe as Takster, Henry Yuk as General Tan, Ngawang Kaldan as Prime Minister Lobsang Tashi and Jurme Wangda as Prime Minister Lukhangwa. I'm not going to pretend I understood everything going on, it was good that all the dialogue was in English, almost no subtitled sequences at all, but I did not understand all the political conversations, it could have gone into more detail about Buddhism, but the performances are all fine, the Dalai Lama has always been an interesting character, the costumes are good, and the period detail and locations make for interesting viewing, probably not the sort of film I'd watch again, but a reasonable religious biographical drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score for Philip Glass , and it was nominated theGolden Globe for Best Original Score. Worth watching, at least once!
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Awards Season was occurring at the time, and I saw the trailer and stars on chat shows talking about this film, after reading more about it, I was really looking forward to seeing it. Based on the true story, Lee Israel (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Melissa McCarthy) made her living in the 1970s and 1980s profiling celebrities. In 1991 she is experiencing critical and commercial failure, and struggling with financial troubles, writer's block and alcoholism. Her literary agent Marjorie (Jane Curtin) is unable to secure her an advance for a new book. To cover expenses, Israel is forced to sell her possessions, including a personal letter she received from actress Katharine Hepburn to local book dealer Anna (Dolly Wells). Lee is conducting research for a potential Fanny Brice biography, when she finds discovers two letters written by Brice in the library, one of which she takes and shows to Anna. Anna gives a low offer due to the letter's bland content, Lee returns home, and decides to devise her own second letter, and brings it to Anna's store the following day. Anna takes the fake letter for a much higher amount, prompting Lee to forge and sell letters by deceased celebrities, including movie stars and playwrights, incorporating intimate details in order to command higher prices. Meanwhile, Lee has been reconnecting with an old colleague, flamboyant drug-dealer Jack Hock (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Richard E. Grant), who recognised her from some book-related party, reminiscing about the night in question they continue to hang out. Lee continue to try and get money towards her proposed Fanny Brice, but Marjorie insists no-one wants this book, she suggests that if she wants to make a living, she will need to find something better to write about, otherwise find another job, and improve her social status. Slowly Lee does listen to Marjorie's advice, and tries to be nicer to her neighbours and other people. Anna is a fan of Lee's writing, she tries to initiate a romantic relationship with her, but at a low point Lee shuns her. Then one of Israel's letters, "written" by Noël Coward, which has an unguarded discussion about his sexuality, raises suspicions, and her buyers start blacklisting her. Now unable to sell the forgeries, she asks Jack to sell the letters for her, agreeing to give him a share of whatever money she makes from them. Also, to avoid suspicion, Lee steals authentic letters from libraries and archives to sell, replacing them with forged duplicates. Lee leaves Jack to look after her elderly cat while she commits one such theft, Jack accidentally kills the cat, feeding it the wrong medicine, Lee in anger and distress ends their friendship but continues their criminal partnership out of necessity. Jack is caught attempting a sale by the FBI, he cooperates with them, and this results in Lee being taken to court, her lawyer advises her to show penitence by getting a job, doing community service, and joining Alcoholics Anonymous. But in court, Lee confesses to her actions, saying she enjoyed creating the forged letters, she says she has no regrets, but realises her crimes were not worth it as the forgeries did not show her true self as a writer. Lee is sentenced to probation for five years, and house arrest for six months. Some time later, she returns to the bar she met Jack, he is now dying of AIDS, they reconcile, she asks for his permission to write a memoir about their escapades, to which he agrees. Lee passes a bookstore and sees a Dorothy Parker letter she forged on sale for $2000, she is disgusted and writes the store owner a sarcastic note in Parker's voice. After receiving Lee's letter, the owner realises the Dorothy Parker letter is fake, he goes to remove it from the window display, but changes his mind and decides to keep it there. Also starring Marc Evan Jackson as Lloyd, Ben Falcone as Alan Schmidt and Anna Deavere Smith as Elaine. McCarthy has been seen more often in successful comedies, but here she shines as a terrific serious actress in an unapologetic performance, and Grant is memorable as being the loveable rogue with a cheesy grin and stiff-upper-lip. The title is taken from the letter she wrote posing as Dorothy Parker, it is a very interesting real-life story of plagiarism, about an intelligent character whose desperation and stubbornness were both her rise and downfall, this film does not hold back with its believable material and often low points, but it leaves room for some fun, with McCarthy and Grant being a terrific comedic double act, and humorous moments along the way, all in all it is a splendid biographical comedy drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay. Very good!
Along with The Favourite, this was the most nominated movie at the Academy Awards, both films receiving ten nominations, it was predicted to do the best during Awards Season, and it was available to watch on Netflix, so there was no way I could miss this Mexican film, from Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning director Alfonso Cuarón (A Little Princess, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, Gravity). Cleodegaria "Cleo" Gutiérrez (Oscar nominated Yalitza Aparicio) is an indigenous live-in maid in a middle-class household in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Living in the house with her are the family: matriarch Sofía (Oscar nominated Marina de Tavira), her husband Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), grandmother Teresa (Verónica García), their four young children, and Adela (Nancy García García), another maid. Antonio is a doctor, he leaves for a conference in Quebec, it becomes clear that Sofía and Antonio's marriage is strained. Antonio returns briefly, but leaves again, saying he is going to Quebec for a few weeks. Cleo and Adela go out to the cinema with their boyfriends, Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) and Ramón (José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza), but Cleo and Fermín decide to rent a room instead. Later, at the cinema, Cleo tells Fermín that she thinks she is pregnant, as the film are seeing is about to end, he leaves saying he needs the bathroom. But he does not return and is nowhere to be found, Sofia shares her concern, and takes her to the hospital where Antonio works, a doctor confirms her pregnancy. Sofía takes Cleo, Adela, and her children to a family friend's place for the New Year holiday. Landowners and the workers mention recent tensions over land in the area, and during the celebrations, a fire erupts in the forest. Everyone helps extinguish it while a man counts down the remaining seconds of 1970 before singing a Norwegian lullaby. Back in the city, Cleo accompanies the children and their grandmother to the cinema to watch a movie. They see Antonio walking out with a young woman, Sofía tries to conceal this from the children, but her second son eavesdrops and learns about it, she tells him not to reveal it his siblings. Through Adela's boyfriend, Cleo finds Fermín at an outdoor martial-arts class, she also attends. Fermín refuses to acknowledge that the baby is his and threatens to beat Cleo and the unborn child if they try to find him again. With the baby almost due, Teresa takes Cleo to buy a crib. On the way, students are gathering to protest, this turns deadly when police commence clubbing, while bands of roving youths randomly shoot at protesters. When a wounded man and a woman run into the store trying to hide, several youths find the man and shoot him dead, another gunman, who points a gun at Cleo, turns out to be Fermín; he glares at her momentarily before running off. Cleo's water breaks, she, Teresa, and their driver try to get to the hospital but are stuck in traffic amid the violent protests. Antonio comes by to reassure Cleo before she reaches the delivery room but makes an excuse to avoid staying. Hearing no heartbeat in Cleo's womb, the doctors take her into surgery, where they deliver a stillborn girl, there are multiple failed attempts to resuscitate the baby. Sofía has a drunken failed attempt to park the family car in the car garage, she buys a narrower car, but plans to take the family on a final trip in the old car to the beaches at Tuxpan. Cleo is brought along as well, Sofía wants to help her cope with her loss. Sofía tells the children that she and their father are separated, and that the holiday was so their father can collect his belongings from their home. At the beach, two of the children are almost carried off by a strong current, despite not knowing how to swim, Cleo wades in to save them. As Sofía and the children affirm their love for Cleo for such selfless devotion, she breaks down and reveals that she had not wanted her baby to be born, they all hug her on the sand. They return home to Roma to find the house reorganised. Cleo prepares a load of washing, telling Adela they have a lot to talk about. Cleo climbs ladders to the rooftop with the clothes to wash before the credits roll. Also starring Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño, Carlos Peralta as Paco, Marco Graf as Pepe, Daniela Demesa as Sofi and Latin Lover as Profesor Zovek. This is definitely an art-house approach to filmmaking from Cuarón, telling a poignant semi-autobiographical story in black-and-white colour, it is a compelling of a marriage falling apart and a live-in maid standing at the heart of the family, the 1970s setting all looks and feels authentic, the camerawork with slow tracking, widescreen shots and striking lighting is effortless but effective, it is a simple, fairly quiet, but most enthralling drama. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year and Best Cinematography, and it was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Original Screenplay for Alfonso Cuarón, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, it won the BAFTA for Best Film, Best Film Not in the English Language and Best Cinematography, and it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Production Design, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language, and it was nominated for Best Screenplay. Very good!
First Reformed (2017)
This film received just one nomination in one of the big ceremonies of Awards Season, I did see Mark Kermode talking about it, and I saw clips or trailers, it was meant to be good, rated well by critics, so I watched it, directed by landmark writer Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, Raging Bull, The Mosquito Coast). Basically Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) of the First Reformed Church in Snowbridge, New York is writing down his thoughts in a journal for a year, after which he intends to destroy it. First Reformed, a 250-year-old Dutch Reformed Church which was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, faces dwindling attendance. Under Toller's leadership has taken the church in a new direction and away from its historical focus on Reformed theology; today it serves mostly as a tourist attraction. Toller is trying to manage his own life issues, such as his alcoholism, he seeks a deeper experience through reading Roman Catholic writings and mystical books. This new spiritual direction leads him to seek support from a nearby charismatic megachurch, Abundant Life, which owns First Reformed. Toller is also struggling with the death of his son Joseph, Toller had encouraged him to enlist, Joseph was killed in the Iraq War. Toller meets pregnant churchgoer Mary (Amanda Seyfried), who is seeking counseling for her husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger), a radical-environmentalist. Michael further challenges Toller's beliefs, explaining that he wants Mary to get an abortion, because he does not want to bring a child into a world that will be rendered almost uninhabitable by climate change. Mary finds a suicide vest belonging to her husband in their garage, Toller takes it and promises to counsel Michael about it. Mary and Toller discuss going to the police, but Toller feels Michael's state would be dramatically worsened. Just before their next appointment, Michael sends Toller a text message asking to meet in a local park, the reverend arrives and finds Michael dead from a self-inflicted shotgun wound. In accordance with Michael's will and testament, a service is held at a local toxic-waste dump, where his ashes are scattered. Meanwhile, plans are underway to celebrate the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of First Reformed with a service attended by the mayor, governor, and industrialist Edward Balq (Michael Gaston), a financial backer of Abundant Life. At a meeting in a diner, Toller argues with Balq over climate change after honouring Michael's will, but Toller sees it as a straightforward matter of Christian stewardship. Experiencing various physical pains, Toller reluctantly sees a doctor (Gary Lee Mahmoud), who suspects stomach cancer and schedules tests. Toller uses Michael's laptop, which he took after his suicide to prevent the police discovering his radicalism and making trouble for Mary. He researches Michael's concerns further, including the materials which inspired him to make the explosive vest. Mary visits Toller, he begs her not to attend the anniversary service. Preparing for his role in the ceremony, Toller puts on the explosive vest, and arms it, but removes it when he sees that Mary is attending it. He instead wraps himself in barbed wire under his alb, then prepares to drink a lethal dose of drain cleaner, but Mary interrupts him, the two embrace, kissing passionately. Also starring Cedric the Entertainer as Jeffers and Victoria Hill as Esther. Hawke hives an interesting performance as the kid, open and thoughtful but emotionally and mentally disturbed pastor, and there is good support from Cedric Kyles, aka the Entertainer, and Seyfried. It is simple enough concept, a priest struggling with his conscience and religion as many things going on put him under pressure and his mental state and world crumbles down, and the minimal score by Brian Williams works well, I will admit I found it a bit too slow at times, but it gets your attention at the right moments, it is a powerful enough contemporary drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Paul Schrader. Good!
The Wife (2017)
The saying is "behind every great man, there is an even greater woman", and that's exactly the concept of this Awards Season contender, film critic Mark Kermode mentioned it on The Film Review, and I have always been a fan of both the leads featuring, so I was looking forward to it. Basically in 1958, aspiring writer Joan Archer (Annie Starke) met handsome young married professor Joseph Castleman (Harry Lloyd), at Smith College, a private, independent women's liberal arts college. Joan is in awe of Joe's force of personality, she is already an accomplished (if unpublished) writer, but she is disheartened after a published alumna author gives a cynical view of the opportunities available to female writers. Two years later, Joseph has been fired for having an affair with Joan, his marriage is failing, and his first attempt at writing a novel turns out very poorly. Joan is working as a secretary at a publishing house, she observes that the all-male editors dismiss women writers. One day, Joan criticizes Joseph's work, he threatens to end his relationship with her, but Joan agrees to fix Joseph's novel for him. The work, titled The Walnut, is published and becomes a bestseller. By 1968, Joe and Joan are living in a large seaside home in Connecticut, she continues to work on novels, to be published under Joseph's name, while Joe himself cooks, cleans and cares for their children. During their marriage over the next four decades, Joseph has several adulterous affairs, and tells everyone that Joan "does not write". By 1992, an elderly Joseph (Jonathan Pryce) has become a celebrated author, and he is ecstatic to receive a phone call that he is to be presented the Nobel Prize in Literature, but Joan (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Glenn Close) is less than happy. Their son David (Max Irons, Jeremy's son), idolises his father but is unaware that Joan has written all of Joseph's books. The three of them fly to Stockholm, they are followed by Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), a biographer with a taste for scandal. Joan's unhappiness worsens as adulation is heaped on Joseph, his attempts to publicly thank her for supporting him only embitter her further. Nathaniel, who has been trying to ingratiate himself with the Castlemans, senses Joan's emotional state, he induces her to talk with him over drinks. He says that he knows that Joan has ghost-written a major portion or even all of each of Joseph's novels, Joan does not admit it, but Nathaniel is convinced by their conversation that he is correct. Meanwhile, Joseph tries to seduce beautiful young photographer Linnea (Karin Franz Körlof) who is assigned to him, but his cardiovascular disease means he is unable to consummate the affair. Joseph accuses Joan of abandoning him, while Joan expresses her outrage over his attempted affair, the argument only ceases when the phone rings and they learn that their daughter Susannah (Alix Wilton Regan) has given birth. On the night of the Nobel ceremony, David confronts his parents after being told by Nathaniel that Joan is the only writer in the family, his parents deny everything. At the ceremony and the banquet which follows, Joan becomes increasingly upset by the accolades showered on Joseph, and when he contributes his wife as part of his success, which she told him not to. Joan walks out, Joe follows her, in the car he demands that she take his prize, but she refuses. At their hotel, Joan tells Joseph she is divorcing him, they argue violently, until Joseph suffers a heart attack. Lying on the bed in pain, Joe begs for Joan's love, she tells him she loves him; he replies "You're such a good liar," and dies moments later. On the plane back to the United States, Nathaniel offers his condolences to Joan. She tells him that if he tries to print anything that undermines Joseph's reputation as a writer, she will sue him. David overhears he, Joan says that she will tell him and his sister the truth when they get home. Also starring Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern as Elaine Mozell, Richard Cordery as Hal Bowman and Morgane Polanski (Roman's daughter) as Smithie Girl Lorraine. Pryce is reasonable as the husband putting on the facade as the talented, and Slater does well in his short time onscreen as the press man trying to expose the scandal, but it indeed Close that owns the movie as "the wife", who is reminiscing on past decisions, seen in flashbacks throughout, and struggling to hide her distain for the success and accolades that her husband has stolen from her. It is a simple story, a woman devoted to her husband who does everything for him, but gets almost nothing back in return, and is not recognised as the true genius for literature masterpieces, it is slow-burning and perhaps not as engaging as it thinks it is, nevertheless it is a most worthwhile drama. Good!
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Happy Death Day 2U
The first movie was a good fun knowingly comedic scary movie, coincidentally released before my 30th birthday essentially Groundhog Day meets Scream, both thrills and laughs, I was expecting there to be a sequel from Blumhouse Productions (Insidious, Whiplash, Get Out), but I was looking forward to seeing it. Basically college student Ryan Phan (Phi Vu) wakes up in his car on Tuesday, September 19, he returns to his dorm room and walks in on his roommate Carter Davis (Israel Broussard) and Carter's girlfriend Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe). He then resumes working with fellow science students Samar Ghosh (Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma) and Andrea 'Dre' Morgan (Sarah Yarkin) on their experimental quantum reactor. Dean Roger Bronson (Steve Zissis) has the project shut down, as their experiment is triggering several power outages, after this Ryan is murdered by a killer in a Babyface mask. Ryan suddenly wakes up, repeating the same day all over again, and telling Tree about it, she recognises he is having the same experience she had previously, she and Carter agree to help him. Going to the college and seeing the experimental device, they realise that the reactor is what is responsible for creating the new time loop. The new Babyface killer returns, but Tree and Carter subdue and unmask him, it turns out to be another Ryan. The second Ryan frantically warns them the original Ryan must die to close the time loop, the terrified original Ryan tries to close the loop using the reactor, releasing a powerful energy pulse that knocks everyone to the floor. Tree wakes up in Carter's room on Monday the 18th, she has returned to relive her original time loop all over again. But as events repeat themselves, she notices small changes: her roommate Lori Spengler (Ruby Modine, Matthew's daughter) has not poisoned her cupcake and is not the Babyface killer and Carter is now dating Danielle Bouseman (Rachel Matthews). Ryan theorises that using the reactor caused Tree to drift into another dimension, Tree is initially insistent to go back to her own time. But meeting with her father David (Jason Bayle) for her birthday, she is shocked to see her mother is alive and well in this new reality, she decides to stay. Later that night, Tree goes to the hospital to intercept serial killer John Tombs (Rob Mello) before he escapes, but a police officer handcuffs her before Babyface kills him. Tree runs into Lori, who tells her that she has taken Tombs to surgery, they try to escape, but the killer stabs Lori, while Tree is chased off the roof and accidentally falls to her death. Tree wakes in Carter's dorm once again, she demands that Ryan and his team help her escape the time loop, which will require them to try dozens of different algorithms until they find the right one. As Tree's memory remains intact every time she dies, Carter suggests she serve as the group's recorder, and kill herself at the end of each day before the killer finds her so they can start again. Eventually, her injuries catch up with her and she faints, she wakes in hospital and steals a gun to go after Tombs but finds Lori already dead. Babyface attacks and Tree shoots him dead, only for a second Babyface to attack her, forcing Tree to kill herself again. Based on Tree's work, the group discover the correct algorithm, but a technical issue forces a delay of several hours. Faced with a choice of which reality she wants to be in when the two time loops close, Tree decides to stay in the current dimension. Carter urges Tree to consider the consequences of living a life that is not truly hers and states that her experience with grief helped shape her into the person she is now, her decision will also mean that they are not together. To hide from Babyface, Tree convinces her parents to drive her home, but then she sees the news report that Carter was murdered along with Lori when he tried to save her at the hospital. Unable to contact Ryan to stop the experiment, Tree kills herself so she can save Carter and Lori. The loop restarts, and Tree decides to go back to her own reality. Before she is due to return, she advises Lori to end her affair with Dr. Gregory Butler (Charles Aitken), discovers that Danielle is cheating on Carter, and has a final heart-to-heart conversation with her mother at their birthday lunch. Bronson confiscates the reactor before Ryan and the others can activate it, Tree insists that they must steal the device back. The group enlists Danielle to distract Bronson while Tree and the others manage to recover the reactor. As Ryan readies the device, Tree goes to the hospital to rescue Lori from Tombs, Babyface appears, Tree has already worked out that it is Gregory, who wanted to bury the evidence of his affair with Lori. Then Butler's wife Stephanie (Laura Clifton) appears and shoots Lori, revealing that she is in league with her husband before he betrays and kills her in cold blood. Carter arrives and distracts Gregory, allowing Tree to lure him away and kill him. Lori survives her gunshot wound, and Tree and Carter kiss as the reactor activates, sending Tree back to her original dimension on Tuesday the 19th. Tree, Carter, Ryan, Samar and Dre are forced to do community service, picking up litter around campus, as punishment for defying Bronson. They are approached by an agent from the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) where the reactor has been moved for further experimentation. The scientists are impressed with their discovery and want to test it further using a test subject, Carter if someone would be willing to volunteer, or someone deserves to through the trauma of repeating the same day, Tree says she knows the perfect subject, Danielle wakes up in her dorm room screaming in horror. Also starring Caleb Spillyards as Tim Bauer, Jimmy Gonzales as Police Officer, Peter Jaymes Jr. as Police Officer and Kenneth Israel as Dr. Parker. Rothe remains well cast as the flawed but likeable college student, and the returning supporting cast are all fine as well, I can see why this sequel has had mixed reviews by critics, there are some repeated jokes, the time dimensions stuff is a little complicated at time, the concept is not quite as slick as before, and there are tiny plot holes, but it did make my laugh, this follow-up is aiming towards being more funny than scary, but there are some thrills, it is a reasonably fun horror. Worth watching!
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
If Beale Street Could Talk
When the nominations were announced during Awards Season, I heard about and saw the trailer for this film, it looked like it could be a good film, and it did receive a few accolades, so I went to see it at the cinema, based on the book by James Baldwin, directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight). The film has a non-linear structure, the following is in linear. Basically Clementine "Tish" Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt (Stephan James) have been friends since childhood and began a relationship when they were grown up. They struggle to find a place to live in New York City, as most landlords refuse to rent apartments to black people. They eventually find a place in a warehouse that is being converted to loft apartments, Levy the Jewish landlord (Dave Franco) gives them a reasonable rate, because he enjoys seeing couples in love, regardless of their race. That night, when Tish is shopping at a mostly white grocery store, she is harassed by a man, Fonny stops the assault and physically throws the man out of the store. Officer Bell (Ed Skrein), a white policeman, witnesses the incident and attempts to arrest Fonny, but reluctantly lets him go when the white female grocery store owner vouches for them. Fonny is later arrested for raping a woman, despite it being virtually impossible for him to have travelled from the scene of the crime to the apartment where he was arrested in the amount of time between the rape and the arrest. The case against Fonny is considered strong due to the testimonies of Officer Bell, who claims to have seen Fonny fleeing the scene, and Victoria Rogers (Emily Rios), the victim who identified Fonny in a line-up as the rapist. Tish and Fonny's friend Daniel Carty (Brian Tyree Henry) were with him at the time of the rape, but his alibi is not considered reliable due to Tish's romantic relationship with Fonny, and Daniel's previous conviction for grand theft auto. Tish visits Fonny in jail as he awaits trial and reveals to him that she is pregnant with his child, Fonny is excited to be a father, but is saddened that his child might be born with him behind bars. Later, Tish tells her parents, Sharon (Oscar and Golden Globe winning Regina King) and Joseph (Colman Domingo), and sister Ernestine (Teyonah Parris), about her pregnancy, they are initially worried for her, but they are supportive. They decide to invite Fonny's family over to share the news of the pregnancy, Fonny's father Frank (Michael Beach) is excited about the pregnancy, but Fonny's highly religious mother (Aunjanue Ellis) declares the child to be a sin due to being conceived out of wedlock. She goes into a rant about how Tish and her child are damned, which ends when Frank hits her, as Mrs. Hunt begins to leave with her daughters in disgust, Sharon reminds her that she has just condemned her own grandchild, leaving her emotionally distraught as she is escorted away by her daughters. In a bar, Frank discusses his worries about paying for a child and Fonny's legal expenses, but Joseph convinces him that they will be able to provide for their grandchild the same way they provided for their children. Sharon tracks down rape victim Victoria to her native Puerto Rico, she travels there to plead with her to change her testimony. Sharon tries to convince Victoria that she made a mistake when she identified Fonny in the line-up as her rapist, but she refuses. Sharon questions if Victoria could have seen her rapist's face in the dark, Victoria says the police told her to identify Fonny in a line-up, and she did so. Sharon gently touches her, but is forced to leave when Victoria starts screaming, attracting the attention of her neighbours. Fonny has become discouraged that his case is hopeless, and the trial constantly being delayed, he eventually accepts a plea deal. In the end, some years later, Tish and Alonzo Jr. (Kaden Byrd) are visiting Fonny in prison, they all look forward to Fonny's eventual release. Also starring Pedro Pascal as Pietro Alvarez, Diego Luna as Pedrocito, Ebony Obsidian as Adrienne Hunt, Dominique Thorne as Sheila Hunt, Ethan Barrett as Young Fonny and Milanni Mines as Young Tish. Layne and James give good performances loving couple broken apart due to a crime of injustice, and the supporting cast all do very well, I agree King does stand out as the righteous mother. You do have to get used to the flashback structure, going backwards and forwards in time (and I don't understand the title, no-one ever mentions a Beale Street?), but it is a refreshing approach, almost a modern variation of Romeo and Juliet, with the lovers' families warring, the 1970s period detail is very good, and obviously the racist themes are poignant and add to the tragedy, an interesting romantic drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Original Score for Nicholas Britell and Best Adapted Screenplay for Barry Jenkins, it was nominated the BAFTAs for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Music, and it was nominated the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Drama and Best Screenplay. Very good!
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
The first movie in the plastic construction toys movie franchise was fantastic, and the spin-off Lego Batman Movie was brilliant, but The Ninjago Movie was a disappointment, now comes this fourth entry, a direct sequel to the first, and expectations were high for it to be as enjoyable. Basically five years have passed since everything was awesome in the Lego universe, and in the real world Finn (Jadon Sand) playing with his Lego creations, was joined by his little sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince) in the basement with her Duplo creations. In the Lego universe, following the arrival of the Lego Duplo invaders from outer space, the city of Bricksburg has become Apocalypseburg, a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The aliens continue to invade periodically, and citizens have become hardened, only Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) remains upbeat and wants to move into a dream home with Lucy aka Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), but he is troubled by dreams of a pending "Armomageddon". The Duplo army leader General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives in Apocalypseburg and proclaims that Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi of the Systar System (Tiffany Haddish) wants to marry their leader. With no official leader, after some debate over who it is, Mayhem's forces kidnap Batman (Will Arnett), Lucy, Benny the Spaceman (Charlie Day), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman), and Unikitty (Alison Brie), taking them to the Systar system. Batman is taken to Wa'Nabi, he is hiding his insecurities under his ego, he is not looking to get hitched, but she convinces she only wants to marry him to make her real crush jealous, he is eventually swooned by the Queen and proposes to her. The other characters have placed in environments designed to tempt them, spaceships for Benny, cute stuff for Unikitty, and pirate stuff for MetalBeard, only Lucy resists as she is sure the Queen has a secret evil agenda. Meanwhile, Emmet converts his dream house into a spaceship to pursue the invaders' ship, he travels through "the Stairgate" (out of the basement). En route, he is saved from colliding with an asteroid field by the rugged adventurer Rex Dangervest (also Pratt). As they travel to the Systar system, Emmet begins to absorb several of Rex's mannerisms and hopes to impress Lucy with his hardened attitude, they avoid Wa'Nabi's forces capturing them and join with Lucy. Emmet devises a plan to rescue his friends, which involves Lucy switching off the pop music that is supposedly brainwashing the others and Emmet stopping the ceremony by destroying the wedding cake encased in a temple. Lucy fights Mayhem to get to the music, but she learns that the Systar System never intended to be antagonistic towards Apocalypseburg, they actually sought peace between them and simply failed to communicate this. Also, Lucy discovers that Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi's original form was the heart that Emmet built for the Duplo Aliens in his attempt to create peace. Emmet has been manipulated by Rex, he destroys the temple just as Lucy realises that Rex actually intends to bring upon the Armomageddon deliberately. In the real world, the act of destroying the temple is Finn angrily destroying Bianca's Lego creations, their mother (Maya Rudolph) hears the bickering and orders them to put the Lego toys into storage, this event being the Armomageddon (as in "Our Momma Gets In"). Emmet tries to stop them but is stopped by Rex, who reveals he is an alternative version of Emmet from the future. In a parallel future, Emmet crashed into the asteroid field, fell to the ground and was neglected for years underneath the dryer, causing him to become embittered and tougher. He eventually pulled himself out, found an army of raptors, and time-travelled back with the intention of causing the Armamageddon as revenge. Rex knocks Emmet under the same dryer to ensure his existence, but Lucy rallies the others into escaping from the storage bin (bringing them back into the Lego world), and rescues Emmet from Rex. Emmet and Lucy overpower Rex and destroy his time machine, Rex turns redemptive but declares "no regrets" as he and his timeline are erased from existence. Wa'Nabi and Batman are married, while in the real world Finn and Bianca reconcile with each other and agree to play together again, returns their Lego toys, averting Armomageddon. The Lego universe is transformed into a mishmash of Apocalypseburg and the Systar System called "Syspocalypsestar" which is peaceful. Emmet's dream house is rebuilt, and Lucy reveals that she was one of the original artists of the song "Everything Is Awesome" much to Emmet's surprise. Also starring Will Ferrell as President Business / Dad, Channing Tatum as Superman, Jonah Hill as Green Lantern, Richard Ayoade as Ice Cream Cone, Ben Schwartz as Banarnar, Noel Fielding as Balthazar, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman, Ike Barinholtz as Lex Luthor, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth, Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln, Jorma Taccone as Larry Poppins, Bruce Willis as himself, Todd Hansen as Gandalf / Swamp Creature, Margot Rubin as Susan / Mermaid / Harley Quinn / Wonder Woman Mini Doll / Panda, Emily Nordwind as Cleopatra, Chris McKay as Larry the Barista, Trisha Gum as Velma and Ryan Halprin as Dolphin Clock. Pratt is good as both the enthusiastic hero and the galaxy-defending traveller (a spoof of his own character from Guardians of the Galaxy), Arnett is still funny as Batman, and the other supporting voices, including the character and celebrity cameos, are great fun too. With the quality animation, everything looks realistic, the charm and humour is infectious, the dialogue and sight gags are all funny for all ages, the story is fun, the colourful bricks for everything is even more imaginative, and the songs are enjoyable, especially the fittingly titled "Catchy Song" (or "This Song's Gonna Get Stuck Inside Your Head"), an awesome computer-animated action comedy. Lego was number 1 on The 100 Greatest Toys, and Batman was number 84 on The 100 Greatest Pop Culture Icons. Very good!
The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)
The Lego Ninjago Movie
The Lego Movie is fantastic fun, and The Lego Batman Movie is a brilliant spin-off, I hose not to see this second spin-off movie in the cinema, based on the toy line of the same name, it was only with the upcoming release of The Lego Movie 2 that I finally gave it a chance. Basically a young boy (Kaan Guldur) visits an old relic shop where he meets the mysterious elderly owner Mr. Liu (Jackie Chan), who begins to tell him the story of Ninjago, a city within the Lego Universe. In Ninjago lives teenager Lloyd (Dave Franco), he is despised by everyone because he is the son of the evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), who is frequently terrorising the city. Unknown to the citizens, Lloyd is part of the secret ninja force consisting of Nya (Abbi Jacobson), Zane (Zach Woods), Jay (Kumail Nanjiani), Cole (Fred Armisen), Kai (Michael Peña) and their master named Wu (Jackie Chan). The force is always stop Garmadon from taking over Ninjago City by fighting with mechs. Master Wu returns from a long trip, and discusses the force members weapons, Nya is the Ninja of Water, Zane is the Ninja of Ice, Jay is the Ninja of Lightning, Cole is the Ninja of Earth, Kai is the Ninja of Fire, and Lloyd's special element is "Green", which he does not understand. Wu mentions an Ultimate Weapon during their talk, giving Lloyd the hope of defeating Garmadon once and for all, despite being forbidden to use the weapon. The next day, Garmadon attacks Ninjago City with his giant mech and declares his rule over Ninjago, but Lloyd returns with the Ultimate Weapon and fires it only to reveal it's a laser pointer that attracts a live-action cat named Meowthra. Garmadon points the laser to make the cat destroy parts of the city before Lloyd breaks it. As Garmadon celebrates his victory, Lloyd unmasks himself and tells Garmadon that he wishes he weren't his father, leaving Garmadon confused. Lloyd meets up with his friends and Master Wu, who tells them they must use an Ultimate, Ultimate Weapon in order to stop Meowthra from destroying Ninjago City. The will reach this weapon by crossing the Forest of Dangers, the Canyon of Death and the Temple of Fragile Foundations at the other side of Ninjago Island. Garmadon overhears Wu talking about the weapon, follows close behind, fights Wu, who loses his balance and falls off a bridge into a river, he tells the ninjas to find "inner peace", before getting swept away. To Lloyd's disappointment, the ninja force decides to continue on with Garmadon leading them, but the father and son do bond on the journey. The group survives an encounter with Garmadon's fired generals, and the antagonist teaches Lloyd to throw things. They eventually crash down onto the Temple of Fragile Foundations, Garmadon's childhood home. He tells Lloyd that he wishes he had stayed with him and his mother after deciding to conquer Ninjago, but he couldn't change so he had to stay behind. The ninjas find the Ultimate, Ultimate Weapon, only for Garmadon to steal it, he still wants to take over the city, he offers for Lloyd to be his general. Lloyd rejects his offer, an angry Garmadon locks all of them in the temple as it begins to collapse. Lloyd realizes that "inner peace" (piece) means for them to unleash their power within, and they successfully do this using their elemental powers and escape from the collapsing temple. As they fall of a cliff, Wu returns, having survived the fall into the river, he saves them with his ship, the Destiny's Bounty, and they head toward Ninjago. Garmadon arrives and tries to defeat Meowthra with the Ultimate, Ultimate Weapon, only for the giant feline monster to eat him alive. Lloyd and the crew arrive and begin fighting Garmadon's army. As Lloyd approaches Meowthra, he realises that his element of green, which means life, is what connects the ninjas together and his family together. He comforts Meowthra and tells Garmadon he forgives him and that he's sorry, causing Garmadon to cry tears of fire, and Meowthra to spit him out. After reconciling, Meowthra becomes the mascot of Ninjago and Lloyd is hailed as a hero. As the story concludes, Mr. Liu informs the boy that he will start training him as a ninja at dawn after the boy shows him great reflexes and ninja potential after listening to the story. Also starring Olivia Munn as Misako "Koko", Constance Wu as the Mayor of Ninjago, Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway. The voice cast are all fine, and the animation is good, but this doesn't match the inventiveness, humour or fun of the previous movies, the giant cat Godzilla is amusing, and some small jokes made me titter, obviously some fight sequences with the Power Ranger-like ninja heroes were alright, but it is a slightly limp entry, at least the kids watching may like some of it, overall a slightly disappointing computer-animated martial arts adventure-comedy. Lego was number 1 on The 100 Greatest Toys. Okay!
A Very Long Engagement
This French film was formerly one featured in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, it was rated well by the critics, I didn't know anything about it before reading about it, it certainly sounded worthwhile, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, Alien: Resurrection, Amélie). Basically during The Battle of the Somme in the Second World War, five French soldiers are convicted of self-mutilation, getting themselves deliberately shot, in order to escape military service. One of these court-martialled, wounded soldiers is Manech (Hannibal Rising's Gaspard Ulliel), who along with the others, is condemned to face near certain death in the no man's land between the French and German trench lines. It appears that that all of them were killed in a subsequent battle, but Mathilde (Audrey Tautou), the fiancée of Manech, refuses to give up hope. She begins to uncover clues as to what actually took place on the battlefield. She is driven by the constant reminder of what her fiancé had carved into one of the bells of the church near their home, MMM for Manech Aime Mathilde (Manech Loves Mathilde; a pun on the French word aime, pronounced "M", in English it means "Manech's Marrying Mathilde"). Along the way, Mathilde discovers the brutally corrupt system used by the French government to deal with those who tried to escape the front. She also discovers the stories of the other men who were sentenced to the no man's land as a punishment. With the help of a private investigator, she attempts to find out what happened to her Manech. The story is told both from the point of view of the fiancée in Paris and the French countryside, mostly Brittany, of the 1920s, and through flashbacks to the battlefield. In the end Mathilde finds out her fiancé is alive, but Manech is suffering from amnesia. When they are reunited, he seems to be oblivious of her, all Mathilde can do is sit on the garden chair silently watching Manech with a smile, and tears in her eyes. Also starring Jean-Pierre Becker as Lieutenant Esperanza, Dominique Bettenfeld as Ange Bassignano, Clovis Cornillac as Benoît Notre-Dame, Marion Cotillard as Tina Lombardi, Jean-Pierre Darroussin as Benjamin Gordes, Jodie Foster as Elodie Gordes, Jean-Claude Dreyfus as Commandant Lavrouye, The Missing's Tchéky Karyo as Capitaine Favourier, Amélie's Dominique Pinon as Sylvain and Julie Depardieu (Gérard's daughter) as Véronique Passavant. Tautou gives a good performance as the devoted fiancée doing everything, she can to find her lover, Ulliel is fine as the missing lover, and in their small parts Cottillard and Foster do very well also. I will admit it was difficult to follow at times, having to read subtitles at the same time, but the wartime scenes, full of bloody violence in the trenches, are very memorable, the love story element is nice, and it works reasonably as an investigation plot, all in all it is a worthwhile romantic drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction, it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Good!
Boy Erased (2018)
I saw the lead actress talking about this film on The Graham Norton Show, it sounded very interesting, because of the controversial subject matter, and then I realised it was based on a true story, so I went to the cinema to see it. Basically Jared Eamon (Golden Globe nominated Lucas Hedges) is the son of Marshall Eamons (Russell Crowe), a successful car dealer and Baptist preacher in Arkansas, and Nancy Eamons (Nicole Kidman), a self-styled hairdresser. He begins his first day at the Love In Action gay conversion therapy assessment program. Chief therapist Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton, also directing) tells the group that their sexuality is a choice influenced by poor parenting. He instructs them to perform harsh "moral inventories" of themselves and their families and requires them not to tell anyone else about what occurs during the sessions. Nancy rents a nearby motel for her and Jared to stay in until he completes the assessment, but the therapy has no set end point, and may require him to move into an on-campus home if he fails to convince Sykes that he has become straight. Jared's life prior to entering the program shows him well-adjusted and happy but breaks up with his girlfriend upon starting college. There he becomes friends with student Henry (Joe Alwyn), and has a brief, romantic, intimate encounter with art student, Xavier (Théodore Pellerin). While staying the night in Jared's dorm room, Henry rapes Jared and tearfully confesses that he has done the same to another young man. Jared is traumatised returns home to recover, but receives a call from Henry, posing as a school counsellor, in order to out Jared and ensure his silence. Jared confesses to his parents that he is attracted to men, after Marshall has consulted with other pastors, Jared reluctantly agrees to attend a conversion therapy his father has signed him up for. Weeks into his therapy, Jared gets to know the other attendees also seeking to become straight. Some are fanatically devoted to conversion, like Jon (Xavier Dolan), who has gone to the point where he refuses to even touch other men. Others are merely "playing the part", like Gary (Troye Sivan), who is pretending that the therapy is working until he can be released and return to a normal life. At her insistence, Jared lets Nancy read the program's handbook, which is full of questionable psychology and obvious grammatical errors. After failing an exercise, attendee Cameron (Britton Sear) is humiliated by Sykes in front of the group and intimidated with a fake funeral service. Then Cameron is beaten with bibles by both the therapists and his own family and forcibly dunked in a bathtub in one of the program's prison-like homes. Jared challenges Sykes when the therapist suggests during an exercise that Jared hates his father. He storms out and is able to retrieve his mobile phone to call his mother to pick him up. Sykes, counsellors, and the other attendees corner Jared, but cannot touch him, and Cameron stands up for him to escort Jared and Nancy safely out. Nancy is horrified and ashamed that she allowed Marshall to enrol him in a program without researching its practices. Marshall remains furious about Jared dropping out of the program, for remaining homosexual, and refuses to speak with him. Soon after leaving the program, Jared learns that Cameron has committed suicide while still in its care. Jared becomes distraught, Marshall approaches and tries to console him, but Jared turns away. Four years later, Jared has moved to New York City, he has written an article exposing the realities of conversion therapy. Jared returns home to convince his father to read the article and take accountability for his actions, and the two begin to reconcile. Also starring Cherry Jones as Dr. Muldoon, Madelyn Cline as Chloe, Emily Hinkler as Lee and Devin Michael as Anders. Hedges gives a splendid performance as the young man struggling with his sexuality and the strict nature and pressures of the therapy, Kidman is good as his understanding and concerned mother, Edgerton is reasonable as the quietly menacing program leader, and Crowe does fine as the preacher father. The fact that these (most often religious) therapy programs, retreats and facilities, trying to turn those who are homosexual (gay and lesbian) (also those addicted to pornography, and promiscuous), exist is terrifying, I was expecting this film to feel more claustrophobic and devastating, but it is a sensitive and well-acted story, an interesting biographical drama. It was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Revelation". Worth watching!
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel
James Cameron (The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, Avatar) was originally meant to be director, he stayed as producer, along with Jon Landau, but he passed on directing to Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids, Sin City, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), based on the Manga comic series. Basically in the 2563, the Earth has been left devastated following a catastrophic war known as "The Fall". Cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is scouting the junkyard metropolis of Iron City, when he discovers a disembodied female cyborg head with a fully functioning and intact human brain. Ido rebuilds the cyborg (Rosa Salazar), who wakes up with no memory of who she is or where she came from, he names her "Alita" after his deceased daughter. Whilst exploring the city, Alita befriends Hugo (Keean Johnson), who dreams of moving to the wealthy sky city of Zalem. Hugo introduces her to the competitive sport of Motorball, a battle royale race wherein cyborgs fight to the death. One night, Alita follows Ido, she discovers he is a Hunter-Warrior, and they encounter three cyborg assassins led by Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley). When Ido is injured, Alita instinctively attacks the cyborgs, killing two of them and severely damaging Grewishka, who retreats underground. Despite Alita rediscovering her skill in the ancient martial art of "Panzer Kunst", Ido discourages her from becoming a Hunter-Warrior. The next day, Alita finds a Berserker body from an old downed ship outside the city, she brings it home, but Ido refuses to install her in the body, fearing the consequences of her heart's full compatibility with it. Alita is fed up with Ido and registers as a Hunter-Warrior, then she and Hugo enter the Kansas Bar to ask other Hunter-Warriors in helping her take down Grewishka, but Grewishka is not on the wanted list, they refuse. Suddenly, an upgraded Grewishka storms into the bar and challenges Alita to a rematch, revealing he has been sent by his boss, Nova (Edward Norton), to destroy her. Alita demonstrates great courage and combat skills, but her body is sliced up by Grewishka's bladed fingers, he is blinded and forced to retreat by Ido, Hugo, and another Hunter-Warrior. Ido transplants Alita in the Berserker body, which automatically interfaces with her system. Alita enters a Motorball tryout race as a means to send Hugo, who she has fallen in love with, to Zalem. Ido discovers that all the other contestants in the game are Hunter-Warriors and wanted cyborgs hired by Vector (Mahershala Ali), an entrepreneur working under Nova, to kill her. He warns Alita as the race begins, she is able to destroy many of the contestants with her superior skills. Meanwhile, Hugo is hunted by and framed by cyborg bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) for murdering a cyborg, he calls Alita for help and she leaves the Motorball race to rescue him. Zapan arrives and reveals that Hugo has been attacking cyborgs and stealing their parts for Vector for use in his Motorball games. Zapan knows that Alita is in love with Hugo, he mortally wounds him and tells Alita that Hunter-Warrior law dictates that she must either kill Hugo or let Zapan finish him off. Hugo is saved by Ido's ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly), also a master cyborg engineer, with his head being attached to Alita's heart, while Zapan has part of his face sliced off. Ido transplants Hugo's head onto a cyborg body, Alita is told that Hugo was given false belief that his actions would eventually buy his way into Zalem, and Ido confirms that this lie was fabricated by Vector, and that citizens of Iron City cannot enter Zalem unless they become Motorball champion. Alita decides to confront Vector, who is being mind-controlled by Nova, a powerful Zalem scientist. Nova talks to Alita through Vector, reveals that and then orders Grewishka to kill her, they battle, and she finally kills him, then stabs Vector, telling Nova he made the mistake of underestimating her. Ido tells Alita that Hugo has run away, she finds him desperately attempting to climb a factory tube towards Zalem. Alita pleads with Hugo to return with her, but a massive spiked defence ring set off by Nova shreds Hugo's body and throws him into the air, Alita is unable to prevent Hugo from falling to his death, but he thanks her for changing him before letting go. Months later, Alita becomes a star athlete of the Motorball tournament, as the crowd cheers, she points her sword towards Zalem while Nova watches her from above. Also starring Eiza González as Nyssiana, Michelle Rodriguez as Gelda, Casper Van Dien as Amok, Jeff Fahey as McTeague, Lana Condor as Koyomi, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Tanji, Die Another Day's Rick Yune as Master Clive Lee and Derek Mears as Romo. Salazar looks like a figure from a Margaret Keane painting, because of her big eyes, but is good as the female cyborg who slowly becomes a tough fighter, Waltz is likeable as the scientist who helps her to develop, Connelly is alright, and Ali is reasonable as the villain. You cannot deny the spectacle and special effects are amazing, the dystopian world is impressive, and the main plot of the lead character trying to rediscover herself is fine, but it is too keen to get into the fast-paced sequences, with the Motorball sequences and a lot of robotic body dismemberment, it goes off-track often and gets confusing at times, it is almost more style over substance, an average futuristic science-fiction fantasy action. Okay!
I saw the trailer for this film a couple of times, I was expecting it to be a slightly big deal, but it only played in one cinema I could get to, I wondered if it was worth it, but film critic Mark Kermode convinced me to go for it, directed by Karyn Kusama (Æon Flux, Jennifer's Body). Basically LAPD detective Erin Bell (Golden Globe nominated Nicole Kidman) arrives at the scene of a murder, both the victim and the assailant cannot be identified, but Erin recognises tattoos on the back of the victim's neck, she informs the responding officers she knows who the killer is. At her police station, Erin receives a $100 bill stained with purple dye in an unmarked envelope. Using a contact at the FBI, she confirms that the bill is from a bank robbery committed by a California gang many years ago that she and her former partner Chris (Sebastian Stan) were involved in as undercover officers. She tells her superiors that she believes the bill and the John Doe murder to be proof that the gang's leader Silas (Toby Kebbell) is back. Erin is forced to work her way through the remaining members of the gang in order to find Silas. She begins with Toby (James Jordan), who was incarcerated, but has been given compassionate release as he is dying, he is living with his mother. Toby asks Erin to manually stimulate him in exchange for the location of Arturo (Zach Villa), a member of the gang who attempts to make amends for his past crimes by offering pro bono legal services to immigrants. Arturo provides Erin with the location of Dennis DiFranco (Get Out's Bradley Whitford), a lawyer who launders the money from the original robbery. Erin deduces that Silas is active again because the money from the heist is almost gone. After threatening him, DiFranco gives Erin the location of the next money hand-off, which is performed by Silas' girlfriend Petra (Tatiana Maslany). Erin tracks Petra and intervenes in a bank robbery committed by Silas' new gang, she kidnaps Petra. In flashbacks, it turns out Erin and Chris developed a romantic relationship while undercover, Erin got pregnant with his child. At Erin's behest, they decided to become legitimate participants in the bank robbery and planned to take their shares of the heist, report to their superiors that they lost contact with the gang, and eventually quit the force. The robbery was botched when a dye pack exploded in one of the bags, and Silas killed the bank teller who placed it. When Chris attempted to intervene, he was shot and killed by Silas, while Erin hid her share of the heist and returned to policing, disclosing neither her original plan or her share of the heist. In the present, throughout Erin has also been trying to make amends with her daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn), who rejects her, but eventually they do have a meaningful conversation, and Erin apologises for being a bad mother. Erin visits a self-storage unit to retrieve her share of the stolen money but finds that most of it is stained with dye, she takes out any bills she can without staining. She receives a text message instructing her to meet at the Sixth Street Viaduct, she realises it is Silas, so she confronts him and shoots him, avenging Chris. She returns the next morning to find the police investigating the crime scene: the John Doe murder investigation seen at the beginning. With Silas dead, Erin gives evidence of her guilt, including Petra's location, the stained bill, and the key to her storage unit to her partner Antonio. It is revealed that Erin has been bleeding internally from the injuries she sustained through her investigation, and she dies while sitting in her car looking up at the sky. Also starring Scoot McNairy as Ethan, Toby Huss as Gil Lawson, Beau Knapp as Jay, Natalia Cordova-Buckley as Detective Gavras, Colby French as Detective Kudra and Kelvin Han Yee as Lieutenant Oshima. Kidman is almost recognisable as the physically ravaged cop who is fearless and determined to catch the killer and have her vengeance, it is essentially a flawed cop story, it has a great script and thrilling action when it needs it, I wonder if it is a little overrated by critics, but it is a most watchable crime drama. Good!
Green Book (2018)
I saw the trailer for this movie a couple of times before its release, it looked exactly like the sort of thing that would do well during the upcoming Awards Season, and it sounded very interesting after reading more about it, so I looked for to it, from Golden Globe nominated director Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary). Based on the true story, in New York City, Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Viggo Mortensen) works as a bouncer at a nightclub, the place is closed down for renovations, so he seeks new employment. He is invited for an interview with Doctor "Doc" Don Shirley (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning Mahershala Ali), a black pianist who had Tony suggested to him, he is looking for a driver for his eight-week concert tour through the Mid-West and Deep South. Based on the strength of his references, Don hires Tony, they embark with plans to return to New York on Christmas Eve. Don's record label gives Tony a copy of the Green Book, a guide for black travellers to find motels, restaurants, and filling stations that would serve black people. The tour begins in the Midwest before they eventually head further south. Don and Tony initially clash, with Tony uncomfortable being made to act refined, and Don being disgusted with Tony's habits. As the tour progresses, Tony is impressed with Don's talent on the piano, he also becomes increasingly appalled by the discriminatory treatment the musician receives from event hosts and the general public when he is not on stage. One night, Don's life is threatened by a group of white men in a bar, Tony rescues him and instructs Don he should not go anywhere without him for the rest of the tour. Before leaving, Tony's wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini) desired him to write her letters, to let her know what he is up to, and express his feelings for her. Throughout the journey, Don helps Tony write letters to his wife, which deeply move her, while Tony encourages Don to get in touch with his own estranged brother, but Don is hesitant, observing that his professional life and achievements are stopping him. Don is caught in a gay encounter with a white man, Tony bribes the officers to prevent the musician's arrest, which upsets Don, as he feels that he is "rewarding" them for their treatment. Later, Don and Tony are arrested after being pulled over by a police officer in an all-white town and Tony punches him after being insulted. While they are incarcerated, rather than using his call to contact his "lawyer", Don uses the opportunity to reach Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who orders the governor to release them. Tony is amazed by the experience, while Don is humiliated, this leads to an argument between them. Having reached his breaking point, Don tells Tony that his fame prevents him from identifying with people of his race, while his race prevents him from being accepted by white people, and his homosexuality from being accepted by anybody, making him feel truly lonely. The night of his final performance in Birmingham, Alabama, Don is refused entry into the whites-only dining room of the country club venue he is performing at. Tony threatens the owner, and Don refuses to play, so Tony takes Don to dinner at a predominantly black blues club, listed in the Green Book, where Don plays on the stage piano and rouses the crowd with his music. Tony and Don head back north to try to make it home by Christmas Eve, Tony gets tired during a snowstorm, so Don takes over driving duty, and they make it in time for Tony's family dinner. Don later returns to Tony's apartment, Tony invites him in, there is a brief silence from everyone, but he is welcomes and thanked by Tony's wife for helping him write his letters. Also starring Don Stark as Jules Podell, Sebastian Maniscalco as Johnny Venere, Dimiter D. Marinov as Oleg and Mike Hatton as George. Mortensen is likeable as the amusing Italian-American rough diamond who slowly has his attitudes changed, but not his manners, but Ali almost steals the show as the talented African-American pianist who struggles during the time of segregation and has standards, together Mortensen and Ali are a wonderful odd-couple on the road. The style of the story is very similar to Driving Miss Daisy, with the chauffeur forming an unlikely friendship with his passenger, the scenes of piano playing and concerts are also likeable, this film really makes you realise the severe nature of the treatment of black people during the 1960s, but it leaves enough room to make you laugh and have well-meaning and touching scenes, it all adds up to a satisfying crowd-pleasing biographical drama. It won the Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Original Screenplay, and it was nominated the Best Film Editing, it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Film and Best Original Screenplay, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Good!
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Mary Queen of Scots
I had watched the original 1971 film of the same, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson, whilst I was in college, I only just remembered doing so when trailers kept popping up for this new version of the story, and it looked like it had potential during Awards Season. Basically in 1561, following the death of her husband, Francis II of France, nineteen-year-old Mary, Catholic Queen of Scotland (Saoirse Ronan), is returning to her home country from France, her throne has been guarded by her half-brother, James, Earl of Moray (James McArdle). Mary's cousin, twenty-eight-year-old Queen Elizabeth of England (BAFTA nominated Margot Robbie) is unmarried, childless, and threatened by Mary's potential claim to her throne. Mary clashes with the cleric John Knox (David Tennant) and dismisses him from her court, he is a protestant and leader of the Scottish Reformation and perceives Mary to be a danger to the kingdom. In an attempt to weaken Mary's threat to her sovereignty, Elizabeth arranges for her to meet and be married to an Englishman, she chooses Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn), whom she secretly loves, to propose to Mary. When Elizabeth becomes ill with smallpox, Mary is convinced to accept the offer, provided that she is named Elizabeth's heir apparent, but Elizabeth is reluctant to let go of Dudley. So, she also secretly sends Henry Darnley (Jack Lowden) under a pretence, Mary suspects an ulterior motive to his arrival, but she grows very fond of him. Eventually Mary falls for Darnley's charms and accepts his marriage proposal, causing a constitutional crisis within both realms, with the impending wedding. In England, Elizabeth is advised by her court to oppose the marriage for fear that Mary's marriage to a nobleman will elevate her claim to the Crown. In Scotland, Mary's council is suspicious of Darnley as they fear an English takeover. Both kingdoms demand Darnley's return to England, but Mary refuses, Moray is enraged and furiously leaves her court to mount a rebellion against her. Darnley marries Mary, only for her to discover him in bed with her friend David Rizzio (Ismael Cruz Cordova) the following day, she forgives Rizzio and initially spares her husband. But Mary is faced with insurgency and infidelity, she decides to quash the rebel forces, and demands Darnley give her a child, a child is conceived, and Mary declares in court it will be the "heir to Scotland and England", deeply offending the English. Moray plots with Darnley's father Matthew (Brendan Coyle), to undermine Mary, spreading rumours about Mary's adultery and that her child was actually fathered by Rizzio, the rumours spread, and Knox vehemently preaches that Mary is an adulteress. Fearing the accusations against Mary and the possible discovery of his homosexuality, Darnley is coerced into executing Rizzio by the under-miners, he is forced to deliver the final blow. Mary discovers the plot, she agrees to pardon the men, provided that evidence is presented that Darnley was involved, she ultimately forgives Moray and asks Elizabeth to be her child's godmother. Mary banishes Darnley but refuses to divorce him despite the appeals of her council, her adviser and protector, the Earl of Bothwell (Martin Compston), arranged to have him killed. Following Darnley's death, Mary is forced to flee and leave her child behind, and she hesitantly agrees with Bothwell to marry a Scotsman immediately. This induces Knox to zealously preach to the Scots that Mary is a "harlot" who had her husband killed, leading Moray and the rest of her court to demand her abdication. Despite furiously objecting to it, she abdicates her throne and flees to England. Learning of Mary's arrival in England, Elizabeth arranges for a secret meeting with her. Mary asks for Elizabeth's help to take back her throne, Elizabeth is reluctant to go to war, instead promising her a safe exile as long as Mary does not aid her enemies. Mary says to Elizabeth that if she should have her murdered, she should remember that she "murdered her own sister and queen". Elizabeth orders that Mary is imprisoned in England and eventually receives compelling evidence that Mary had conspired with her enemies to have her assassinated in the Babington Plot. Pressured, and with no other choice, Elizabeth ultimately orders Mary's execution, a remorseful Elizabeth cries for Mary as she is brought out to be beheaded. In her final thoughts, Mary wishes her son James well and hopes for peace upon his reign. The end text reveals that after Elizabeth's death in 1603, James became the first monarch to rule both Scotland and England. Also starring Guy Pearce as William Cecil, Gemma Chan as Bess of Hardwick, Adrian Lester as Lord Randolph and Ian Hart as Lord Maitland. I will admit I did not understand all the political chat, the opposition between the queens and the conflict between their nations was simple enough to follow, but to be honest, it is much more about the performances. Ronan and Robbie are both terrific as the monarchs at loggerheads, it is fact that Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth did not meet in real life, but the scene created for them to do so is memorable, and the performances of supporting cast members Tennant, Pearce and others are also well done, what I did understand worked well, it is written well, and the period detail is splendid, all together it is a worthwhile historical drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Costume Design, and it was nominated the BAFTAs for Best Make Up/Hair and Best Costume Design. Good!
I saw the trailer and images of the leading actor playing the well-known American politician and businessman, he was almost completely unrecognisable and a spitting image of the real man, I became much more keen to see it when it became part of Awards Season, from Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated writer and director Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Big Short). Basically in 1963 Wyoming, Dick Cheney (Golden Globe winning, and Oscar and BAFTA nominated Christian Bale) was working as a lineman after his struggles with alcohol led him to drop out of Yale University. His wife Lynne (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Amy Adams) convinces him to get himself clean, after he is arrested for driving while intoxicated, and in 1969 he finds work as a White House intern during the Nixon Administration. Working under Nixon's economic adviser, Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), Cheney becomes a savvy political operative. He discovers the true power of the executive branch after overhearing a conversation between Henry Kissinger (Kirk Bovill) and President Richard Nixon discussing the secret bombing of Cambodia. Rumsfeld's abrasive attitude leads to him and Cheney being distanced from Nixon, which works in both men's favours following Nixon's resignation, Cheney becomes White House Chief of Staff for President Gerald Ford (Bill Camp) while Rumsfeld becomes Secretary of Defense. After Ford is voted out of office, Cheney gives an awkward and uncharismatic campaign speech as he runs to be representative for Wyoming, and he suffers his first heart attack. Lynne campaigns on her husband's behalf while he recovers, helping him to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. During the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Cheney supports a raft of conservative, pro-business policies favouring the fossil fuel industries. Cheney next serves as Secretary of Defense under President George H. W. Bush (John Hillner) during the Gulf War. Outside of politics, Cheney and Lynne accept their youngest daughter Mary (Alison Pill) coming out as a lesbian. Though Cheney develops ambitions to run for president, he decides to retire from public life to spare Mary from media scrutiny. During the presidency of Bill Clinton, Cheney becomes the CEO of Halliburton while his wife raises golden retrievers and writes books, a false epilogue claims that Cheney lived the rest of his life healthy and happy and credits begin rolling, only for the film to continue following Cheney receiving a phone call. Cheney is invited to become running mate to George W. Bush (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Sam Rockwell) during the 2000 United States presidential election. Cheney recognises the younger Bush is more interested in pleasing his father than attaining power, he agrees under the condition that he given "mundane" executive responsibilities. Cheney becomes Vice President, working alongside Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, legal counsel David Addington (Don McManus), and the Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby (Justin Kirk), to exercise control of key foreign policy and defense decisions throughout Washington. When the September 11 attacks occur in 2001, Cheney and Rumsfeld respond and maneuver to initiate U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, resulting in many civilian deaths and the torture of prisoners. As the War on Terror mounts, Cheney continues to struggle with persistent heart attacks, other events covered include his endorsement of the Unitary executive theory, the Plame affair, the accidental shooting of Harry Whittington, and tensions between the Cheney sisters over same-sex marriage. Cheney's actions that lead to thousands of deaths and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant result in him receiving record-low approval ratings by the end of the Bush administration. Cheney needs an emergency heart transplant operation, Kurt (Jesse Plemons), who is narrating the story, is a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, he is killed in a motor accident while jogging, his healthy heart is transplanted into Cheney in 2012. A few months later, Cheney's daughter Liz (Lily Rabe) runs for a Senate seat in Wyoming, but Mary is left angry and upset as she is opposed to same-sex marriage, she later wins the election and steps into hr father's former Congressional position. At the end of the film, an irate Cheney breaks the fourth wall and delivers a monologue to the audience, stating that he has no regrets about anything he has done in his career. Also starring Eddie Marsan as Paul Wolfowitz, LisaGay Hamilton as Condoleezza Rice, Shea Whigham as Wayne Vincent, Tyler Perry as Colin Powell, Alex Kingi as Osama Bin Laden, Alfred Molina as Waiter and Naomi Watts as News Anchor. Bale gives a superb performance as the real-life public figure who is charismatic but cold and silently menacing, and there is fantastic support from Carell being blunt and abrasive, Rockwell as the simplistic Bush, and Adams as the supportive wife. I'm not going to pretend I understood everything going on, I know little about politics, but I recognised key events, and it wasn't boring, with the many cinematic gimmicks to tell the story, and the humour does work, an interesting political comedy drama. It won the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and it was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Original Screenplay for Adam McKay and Best Film Editing, it won the BAFTA for Best Editing, and it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Make Up/Hair, and it was nominated the Golden Globes for Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Good!
On Deadly Ground (1994)
On Deadly Ground
I've always a slightly negative opinion when it comes to films starring Steven Seagal, because the only credible film he has done is Under Siege, every single other film I've seen of his have been dull, adequate or rubbish, I didn't have my hopes high for this film, his Razzie winning directorial debut. Basically Forrest Taft (Razzie nominated Steven Seagal) is a former government operative who works for the Aegis Oil Company in Alaska. Aegis Oil is headed by ruthless CEO Michael Jennings (Sir Michael Caine), he is the kind of person who doesn't care whether or not oil spills into the ocean or onto the land, as long as he is making money from it. He even makes television commercials that make him look like someone who cares about the environment. Jennings is close to finishing the construction of his new state-of-the art oil rig: AEGIS-1, but his problem is that if he doesn't finish building the rig in thirteen days, the land rights will be returned to the Eskimos and the Alaskan government. Taft's best friend Hugh Palmer (Men in Black's Richard Hamilton) has a computer disk that contains information about defective equipment on AEGIS-1, Jennings finds out about this and sends his men to murder Palmer. Taft finds out about Jennings' dodgy dealings and tries to interfere, so the corrupt businessman tries to have him killed as well, sending him inside a building loaded with explosives. Taft survives the explosion set for him, he is rescued by an Eskimo woman named Masu (Razzie nominated Joan Chen), and also meets Silook (Chief Irvin Brink), her father, and the chief of her tribe. With Masue's help, Taft treks through the beautiful Alaskan wilderness, heading straight for AEGIS-1 and to destroy it before it destroys the forest. A group of New Orleans-based mercenaries led by Stone (R. Lee Ermey) are hunting for Taft, who is able to collect a number of weapons and explosive devices to set traps for and kills the various goons, including chief of security MacGruder (John C. McGinley) and henchman Homer Carlton (Billy Bob Thornton). Taft and Masu confront Jennings, string him up, and drop him into a pool of oil, he drowns in his own wealth, they then escape as a series of explosions destroy the oil rig. In the end, Taft avoids the charges of sabotage and multiple murders (self-defence), he delivers a speech at the Alaska State Capitol about the dangers of oil pollution, and the companies that are endangering the ecosystem. Also starring Shari Shattuck as Liles, Mike Starr as Big Mike, Irvin Kershner as Walters, The Mask's Nils Allen Stewart as Oil Worker and One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest's Louise Fletcher as Bartender. Seagal does his usual limited performance, making it up from his martial arts skills, he isn't much of a director either, and Caine with his weird black hairdo is amusingly hammy and over-the-top as the villain, this isn't the sort of film you may be expecting, it does pack a punch in the fight and explosive sequences, but it is slowed down and made boring by it's environmental message, otherwise it is just another predictable and slightly naff action adventure. It was nominated the Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay and Worst Original Song for "Under the Same Sun". Okay!