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Cloud Atlas ****

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Running Time: 172 Mins Cert: 15

Synopsis:

Six stories that connect a distant past to a bleak future. The adventure travels from a 19th-century Pacific island to a pre-War Edinburgh, ’70s San Francisco, present-day Britain, a dystopian Korea and apocalyptic Hawaii.

 

Based on the always thought of as infilmable David Mitchell novel of the same name. The Wachowskis and Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer have decided to team up to try to make a complex story with many time linked stories entertaining.

 

Putting these visionaries of modern cinema together works extremely well. In that the film has a stunning look and that each of the directors have worked on their strengths. The period pieces being handled by Tykwer, while Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski tackle the more complex futuristic pieces.

 

The actual narrative itself is very complex and initially very confusing. The story strands are mixed together into a never ending concoction events.

 

Chronologically it begins in 1840’s Pacific Islands, where notary Adam Ewing (Sturgess) learns about the cruelty of slavery.

 

In Thirties Britain Ewing’s journals of his voyages inspire composer Robert Frobisher (Whishaw) who struggles with his opus and affections for his mentor Vyvyan Ayrs (Broadbent).

 

While in San Francisco 1973, an investigative journalist Luisa Rey (Berry) reads the letters that Frobisher once wrote to his lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy).

 

In London 2012 publisher Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent) is on the run after swindling criminal author Dermot Hoggins (Hanks) out of royalties.

 

The New Seoul of the future, clone Sonmi-451 (Bae Doona) faces execution for her part in a rebellion against an dictatorial regime.

 

While the final tale sees a post-apocalyptic Hawaii tribesman Zachary (Hanks) is visited by Meronym (Halle Berry) who is one of the last survivors of a lost civilisation.

 

The strongest stories are The 1930s strand about a young composer and his less talented employer, the IRobot influenced futuristic Korean tale and a very funny present day story about a crooked publisher confined to an old folks home.

 

Halle Berry and Tom Hanks lead an all star cast in taking on multiple roles with Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent all appearing in different guises throughout the film.

 

The makeup effects are very hit and miss. At times it seems that the actors are using left over masks from Dick Tracy. This is ashame as the acting from everyone involved is great.

 

Ambitious and breathtakingly beautiful, this is Wachowskis’ best since Bound. Cloud Atlas is overlong and flawed, but never dull. Audiences will be amazed and thrilled by this intelligent adventure epic.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Newsreel (W/e 10th March 2013)

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Christopher Nolan is rumoured to have started talks to work on the Justice League movie.

 

Steven Spielberg is developing a miniseries based on Kubrick’s abandoned project Napoleon.

 

Harrison Ford has joined the cast of Anchorman: The Legend Continues.

 

Rebecca Hall is set to star alongside Johnny Depp & Paul Bettany in cinematographer Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, Transendence.

 

Law & Order’s Jesse L. Martin will replace Lenny Kravitz as Marvin Gaye in the Julien Temple-directed biopic Sexual Healing.

 

Zach Galifianakis, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone & Naomi Watts will star in Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu’s Birdman.

 

Sam Mendes has confirmed that he will not return to direct Bond 24.

 

Liam Neeson & Giovanni Ribisi in in talks to join the cast of Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West.

 

Keri Russell joins the cast of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

 

Monster House’s Gil Kenan set to direct Poltergeist.

 

George Lucas confirms that the original cast Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill & Carrie Fisher have signed on for JJ Abrams’s Star Wars Episode 7.

 

Star Trek Into Darkness will open in UK cinemas a week earlier. It will now premiere on IMAX 3D, 3D and 2D screens on May 9.

 

Disney is already planning a sequel to Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great and Powerful.

 

Judge Reinhold is set to appear in the new Beverly Hills Cop TV show.

 

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar will be on November 7, 2014, in theaters & IMAX.

 

Bad news as Disney reveals that it has no current plans to make any more hand-drawn animated films.

 

Oz has great & powerful turn at the top of the U.S. box-office.

Side Effects ****

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Run Time: 106 mins            Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: When psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) prescribes an experimental drug to Emily (Rooney Mara) to treat her depression, there are profound consequences for all parties involved.

 

Directed by Steven Soderbergh and said to be his last project, “Side Effects” tells the story of Emily (Rooney Mara), a 28-year-old woman whose husband Martin (Channing Tatum) is released after four years in prison for insider trading. Emily becomes depressed and injures herself, resulting in her being taken to hospital and referred to psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). Having unsuccessful tried several antidepressants, Dr Banks agrees to put Emily on a new drug called Ablixa that has been recommended by her previous psychiatrist Victoria (Catherine Zeta-Jones). At first it seems to have benefits for Emily but side effects soon occur and she kills her husband while sleepwalking. The remainder of the film centres around what really happened and whether Dr Banks is to blame as he prescribed the drug.

 

Thrilling and unpredictable, “Side Effects” keeps the audience in suspense until the very end. To begin with it seems a straightforward story: Emily is struggling with depression and is prepared to try any drug that will fix this so she and Martin can get on with their life. However as the film progresses it becomes clear things are more complicated and the twists lead to a surprise ending.

 

A theme that crops up repeatedly during the film is the extent to which the American health care industry focuses on money. There are scenes in which doctors are shown being offered large sums to try out drugs on their patients and when Emily requests the new drug, she is given it without proper discussion of the medication or its side effects. This leads the viewer to question Dr Banks’ motives: is her wellbeing his priority or is he seeing dollar signs?

 

Effects in the movie are minimal but Soderbergh creates a almost eerie feel by having the main scenes in very intimate settings such as bedrooms, doctors’ offices and a psychiatric hospital. There are times when the viewer will feel like they are literally in the room with the characters.

 

Rooney Mara gives a strong performance as Emily. Her character is portrayed as both the despairing and depressed woman who’s lost her rich lifestyle and the sly and twisted one that has everyone fooled. As the story unfolds, the audience will go from feeling sorry for Emily to questioning her true character. Catherine Zeta-Jones also performs well as psychiatrist Victoria who seems to conveniently “pop up”  at regular intervals and has mannerisms that could make the viewer’s skin crawl.

 

Of all the actors, Jude Law’s performance is probably the weakest. His character doesn’t show much emotion even when it appears he’s lost everything and Law seems rather wooden throughout the film. Despite being written out before the halfway point, Channing Tatum gives a reasonably good performance as Emily’s disgraced but concerned husband Martin. Vinessa Shaw also gives a realistic portrayal Dr Banks’ wife Deirdre, who wants to root for her husband but doesn’t know what to believe.

 

“Side Effects” is entertaining and has all the characteristics of a good psychological thriller. For those who enjoy films that keep them guessing it is a must see.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Oz The Great And Powerful ****

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Run Time: 130 mins         Cert: PG

 

Synopsis: Directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco as the Wizard, the prequel to the 1939 film “The Wizard Of Oz” combines classic Disney with elemnents of horror.

 

Much like the original, “Oz The Great and Powerful” begins in a 4:3 format and in black and white. We are introduced to Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a Kansas magician with ambitions. When the weather turns, Oscar finds himself in a colourful land in which he meets attractive witches Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who send him on a mission to destroy their rival.

 

The movie looks magnificent when viewed in 3D IMAX. While the effects used are gimmicky they give the viewer a thrilling experience and there are times when the audience will feel like objects are literally about to hit them. Although there were some copyright issues surrounding the level of resemblance the film could have to the original, the prequel manages to stay true to “The Wizard of Oz” by including familiar landmarks and characters such as the Wizard, Glinda and the Munchkins.

 

The movie could easily have been predictable but the writers have put their own spin on the classic story. There are a number of twists that will keep the audience entertained and aside from a slow period in the middle, the 130 minutes pass quickly with the excitement and effects. There are scenes that will have the entire audience jumping from their seats.

 

In terms of performances, Mila Kunis is the highlight. Her character starts off very naive but throughout the movie develops as she learns more about herself and the world around her. Kunis portrays Theodora’s journey of discovery perfectly and is a joy to watch. This is closely followed by Michelle Williams’ portrayal of white witch Glinda. James Franco is entertaining as the Wizard and works well alongside Williams and Kunis. Oscar Diggs is a balanced mixture of good and bad characteristics which make him seem human.  At first glance he seems too young for the role, but it works because the prequel is set 35 years prior to the original. Of all the actors, Rachel Weisz gives the weakest performance. She appears rather wooden and her character is two-dimensional.

 

Whether you’re a fan of the original, a Disney lover or just want entertainment, “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a must see for the whole family.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Newsreel (W/e 3rd March 2013)

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The Coen Brothers will rewrite Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken.

 

James McAvoy is in talks for the remake of The Crow.

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev will be helming a remake of the thriller Flatliners.

 

Noomi Rapace states that work on the Prometheus 2 script is underway.

 

Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke is to star in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

 

James Marsden joins the cast of Anchorman: The Legend Continues.

 

Juliette Binoche in talks to star in Gareth Edwards’ reboot of Godzilla.

 

Chris Cooper has been cast as Norman Osborn aka The Green Goblin in the The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

 

Steven Spielberg has been chosen to head up the jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

 

Bradley Cooper is to star in & potentially direct the English-language remake of Til Schweiger’s Kokowääh.

 

Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, Transcendence starring Johnny Depp will be released on April 25, 2014.

 

Emma Watson is in talks for Disney’s Cinderella.

 

The Hobbit: There and Back Again release date has been pushed back five months.

 

Halle Berry will be returning as Storm in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.

 

Gary Oldman joins the cast of Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

 

Sam Raimi plans to write Evil Dead 4 this Summer. At last!

 

Jack the Giant Slayer kills the competition at the U.S. Box Office.

A Good Day To Die Hard **

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Run Time: 97 Mins Cert: 12A

Synopsis:

New York cop John McClane (Willis) goes to Moscow when his son is arrested for murder, only to discover that Jack (Courtney) is actually a CIA agent on an undercover mission. Father and son must put the past behind them in order to stop the bad guys.

 

The franchise leaves the States and goes to Russia with disappointing results.

 

Out of all the directors that were on the short list to helm this film, Fox and Willis decided to choose the worst one John Moore. His direction style consists of a jerky moving camera, endless explosions and noisy action scenes.

 

The next problem is with the script or lack of it. Screenwriter Skip Woods has constructed several action scenes, but completely forgotten about characterisation with plot holes throughout.

 

Not only that but the biggest mistake the writer has made is to include lifeless dull villains, who have a plan that is not really made clear until the last ten minutes of the film. There is also very little humour to be seen or heard.

 

Bruce Willis does his best with what he has to work with, but on the whole looks bored. This may be due to the little screen time, that both him and Courtney have.

 

Jai Courtney is well cast as McClane’s son and brings some enjoy to the overall piece. While Sebastian Koch is underused as a prisoner who Jack helps to escape from jail.

 

A great action piece at the start and finish along with the two leads make this at least watchable. But the franchise now seems dead in the water.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Newsreel (W/e 24 February 2013)

 

Producer Kathleen Kennedy will not return for Jurassic Park 4, due to Star Wars commitments.

 

Rupert Wyatt is in talks to direct the adaptation of The Equalizer.

 

Christian Bale is to star in Everest.

 

Michael Bay announces that Megan Fox is set to star in the new Ninja Turtles movie.

 

Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke is to star in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

 

James Marsden joins the cast of Anchorman: The Legend Continues.

 

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 won seven awards at this year’s Razzies.

 

The Identity Thief breaks into the the top spot of the U.S. Box-office again.

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I Give It A Year ***

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Run Time: 97 Mins     Cert: 15

Synopsis: Directed by Dan Mazer, the British comedy follows mismatched couple Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) as they navigate through the first year of their marriage.

The film begins when Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) get married. From the beginning, it’s obvious the couple are not particularly compatible. Nat is very proper and career focused while Josh is a chilled out and fun loving writer. Throughout the film the audience are given a rather comic insight into their marriage in the form of flashbacks while, in the present, the couple are unhappy and are visiting a rather wacky marriage counsellor (Olivia Colman) to try and sort out their problems.

There are some really funny scenes in the movie that include a cringe worthy game of charades, an embarrassing incident with a digital photo frame and a disastrous attempt at a threesome. Despite the good laughs, I Give It A Year is somewhat predictable with the outcome being fairly obvious from early in the film. The writers attempt a few twists and turns but there are no surprises in the ending.

While Rose Byrne is an attractive woman who puts on a flawless English accent, her character is not particularly likeable and spends most of her time moaning. Rafe Spall is entertaining but again his character is rather irritating and it’s hard to believe they got together in the first place. While there are some films in which you want the lead couple to make it work, the pair are hard to root for.

In terms of the supporting cast, Simon Baker gives an average performance as the businessman Nat becomes attracted to while Anna Faris is likeable and entertaining as charity worker Chloe. Stephen Merchant is hilarious as Danny, Josh’s inappropriate friend and best man while Minnie Driver gives a humorous but realistic performance as Nat’s sister Naomi.

While I Give It A Year is fun, full of light entertainment and has some good performances, the movie is let down by a predictable story and a couple that are not really believable.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Oscar Winners 2013

Here are the winners and nominees of the 2013 Academy Awards. (Oscar winners in bold)

 

BEST PICTURE

 

Argo
Amour
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

 

BEST DIRECTOR

 
Ang Lee – Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke – Amour
Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

 
BEST ACTOR
 
Denzel Washington – Flight
Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
Joauquin Phoenix – The Master
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
 
BEST ACTRESS
 
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts – The Impossible
Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
 
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Alan Arkin – Argo
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
 
Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Sally Field – Lincoln
Amy Adams – The Master
Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
 
Mark Boal – Zero Dark Thirty
Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained
Michael Haneke – Amour
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola – Moonrise Kingdom
John Gatins – Flight
 
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
 
Tony Kushner – Lincoln
Chris Terrio – Argo
David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
David Magee – Life of Pi
Lucy Alibar, Behn Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
 
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FEATURE
 
Amour – Austria
No – Chile
A Royal Affair – Barbara
Kon-Tiki – Norway
War Witch – Canada
 
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
 
Frankenweenie
Brave
ParaNorman
Wreck-It Ralph
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
 
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
Searching for Sugar Man
5 Broken Cameras
The Invisible War
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
 
Inocente
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
 
Lincoln
Life of Pi
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
 
Claudio Miranda – Life of Pi
Roger Deakins – Skyfall
Janusz Kaminski – Lincoln
Robert Richardson – Django Unchained
Seamus McGarvey – Anna Karenina
 
BEST FILM EDITING
 
William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor – Zero Dark Thirty
William Goldenberg – Argo
Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers – Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Kahn – Lincoln
Tim Squyers – Life of Pi
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
 
Dario Marianelli – Anna Karenina
Mychael Danna – Life of Pi
Thomas Newman – Skyfall
John Williams – Lincoln
Alexandre Desplat – Argo
 
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
 
“Skyfall” – Skyfall
“Suddenly” – Les Miserables
“Pi’s Lullaby” – Life of Pi
“Before My Time” – Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” – Ted
 
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
 
Life of Pi
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman
The Avengers
 
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
 
Lincoln
Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman
 
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
 
Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
 
BEST SOUND EDITING
 
Skyfall
Argo
Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
Django Unchained
 
BEST SOUND MIXING
 
Skyfall
Lincoln
Life of Pi
Les Miserables
Argo
 
BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
 
Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
The Longest Daycare
Paperman
 
BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE-ACTION)
 
Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Henry

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Zero Dark Thirty *****

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Run Time: 157 Mins Cert: 15

Synopsis: After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the CIA make al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden a prime target. Over a decade since the the 9/11 attacks, intelligence analyst Maya (Chastain) tracks a courier she senses will eventually lead to finding the location of Bin Laden.

 

Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow returns with another war drama that is more fact than fiction this time around. The director along with screenwriter Mark Boal has crafted a tense and dark action packed drama. The narrative centres on one woman’s determination of striving for results at the cost of not only her reputation within Washington, but also her life.

 

The story covers almost a ten year period and never feels long or dragged out. Much has been made surrounding the controversy surrounding the torturing of the detainees, but this aspect is not glorified. If anything it is shown that nothing is achieved from torture and that no significant results were gained from doing this.

 

Jessica Chastain gives a subtle performance in the lead role. For some audiences it may be too lifeless and stern. But this is what is good about her acting. She portrays a woman who has seen so many horrific things,that she no longer feels anything. Maya is only passionate about her objective.

 

While the other supporting players are well portrayed, they are simply just that. Many characters are introduced, but there is little enough time for anyone to care about them. The only exception would be Seal Team 6.

 

When it comes to the finale, Bigelow shows flare and panache with a stunningly thrilling sequence of events. Even although audiences know exactly what happens, there is a tense, nail biting sensation that the siege will fail. If a movie makes you forget and become emotionally involved, it is something truly special.

Reviewed by Paul Logan