Posts

Showing posts from January 26, 2014

Review: Jack Reacher

Five people dead from a sniper’s fire, and the likely guilty suspect is believed to be a disgruntled former Iraq war army veteran. Tom Cruise is the title character, a super-elusive former military investigator who has a history and grudge against the suspect. And yet he agrees to help out Courtney’s Defense attorney (Rosamund Pike), who is the estranged daughter of the District Attorney (Richard Jenkins). And soon, the duo uncover a whole lot of stuff that might just get Reacher to put his grudges aside and come around to Pike’s way of thinking: The suspect may in fact be innocent. The audience, meanwhile, already knows that the suspect is a patsy set-up by criminal mastermind ‘The Zec’ (German director Werner Herzog, playing a Russian), whose personal assassin (Jai Courtney) did the deed. David Oyelowo plays the cop who arrested the prime suspect, and Robert Duvall turns up briefly as a gun shop/shooting range owner who provides critical info. Alexia Fast plays a rather trashy girl …

Review: Iceman

A drilling expedition in the Arctic uncovers a Neanderthal man encased in ice. The body is transported to a scientific research facility where it starts to thaw, much to the shock and awe of the anthropologists attempting to study it. Moving him to a kind of bio-dome living space, young Dr. Shepherd (Timothy Hutton) attempts to communicate with the now dubbed ‘Charlie’ (John Lone). Meanwhile, other scientists (David Strathairn, James Tolkan, and Josef Sommer among them) are debating whether or not to ‘donate his body to science’ so to speak and learn about how he has managed to stay so well-preserved for so long. Dr. Shepherd is obviously displeased with this rather clinical approach, and attempts convince another doctor (Lindsay Crouse) to join his cause and save Charlie’s life so that we can learn more about ourselves through our ancestors. Danny Glover has a small role as one of the people in charge of monitoring Charlie’s simulated habitat at the compound.

Although its central ide…

Review: Cassandra’s Dream

Scotsman Ewan McGregor and Irishman Colin Farrell play two working class London brothers somewhat financially hard up but full of dreams. Farrell wants to buy a house for his girlfriend (a blonde Sally Hawkins), but is a ne’er do well gambling fuck up of a human being. McGregor for his part wants money to move to California with his beautiful but high maintenance actress girlfriend (Hayley Atwell). When a visiting uncle (Tom Wilkinson) with money and Hollywood connections comes to ask a favour of them, they see this as the answer to their prayers. All he asks is that they murder a colleague who has dirt on him that could ruin him. Once the deed is done, the increasingly ambitious McGregor seems to be enjoying himself, but poor Farrell takes to drinking and a serious bout of guilt. He just can’t live with what they’ve done, and it has the potential to make things difficult for McGregor and Wilkinson in the process.

I hadn’t even heard of this Woody Allen (“Deconstructing Harry”, “Annie…

Review: To Rome With Love

Woody Allen and Judy Davis play an American couple vacationing in Italy. He used to be a music promoter (!), and when he hears the father (Fabio Armiliato) of his soon-to-be daughter-in-law (Alison Pill) sing in the shower (don’t ask), he’s convinced the next big opera voice has been found. Meanwhile, Jesse Eisenberg is dating Greta Gerwig, but finds he is clearly more compatible with her friend Ellen Page. Alec Baldwin plays a middle-aged architect who becomes Eisenberg’s romantic adviser as he contemplates an illicit relationship with Page. In another story, Roberto Benigni plays a reticent ‘reality TV’ star, whose mundane life is tailed by paparazzo. Formerly feeling ignored and insignificant, he now finds he has no privacy whatsoever. Be careful what you wish for. The final story involves a newlywed couple (Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi) find themselves separated, with Tiberi has a ‘meet cute’ with a prostitute (Penelope Cruz), whom he has to introduce to his visiti…

Review: Leaving Las Vegas

The story of the relationship between an alcoholic who refuses help (Nic Cage) and a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue) in Vegas. Cage has lost his job, his family, and frankly his will to live. He is committing suicide via the somewhat elongated route of drinking himself to death. He hires Shue to sit and listen to him, and he listens to her. Before long, despite Cage’s presumed odour and obvious drinking problem, the two fall in love. They realise they need something in one another, but Cage asks Shue to never ever ask him to quit drinking. They’re clearly not headed for a traditional happy ending, but at least they have each other. Meanwhile, Shue’s occupation has its own dangers, one of whom is her unstable pimp named Yuri (Julian Sands) who has a hold on her. Graham Beckel, Danny Huston, and Julian Lennon play bartenders, Steven Weber and Richard Lewis of all people play former business associates of Cage.

I’ve held off seeing this 1995 descent into alcoholism and paid sex from writer-d…

Review: End of Watch

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena play a couple of ratbag LAPD officers, also the best of friends, who get up to their necks in trouble when they start sticking their nose in the territory of a Mexican drug cartel that has moved into the South Central area. Meanwhile, Gyllenhaal is recording their day-to-day procedures on a handheld camera for a film course he is taking. Anna Kendrick plays Gyllenhaal’s girlfriend, whilst Natalie Martinez is Pena’s pregnant wife. America Ferrera plays a tough Hispanic cop.

If you can get past the shaky-cam employed by writer/director David Ayer and cinematographer Roman Vasyanov, then this 2012 police flick is good stuff, if a bit déjà vu and stereotyped. The thing is, if it weren’t for that stylistic decision, the film would probably be even better than good. Either you accept the camerawork as being in-the-moment and realistic, or you say it simply alerts your attention to the presence of a camera and it takes you out of the moment. I’m of the latter…