06th Sep2013

You’re Next – Film

by timbaros

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The Davison family – the parents and their 4 children with their partners – all get together at the family’s very large vacation house in the middle of nowhere. Little do they know what fate they face their first evening, in the new film You’re Next.

Not quite a horror film, not quite a slasher film, You’re Next is more of a survival film, survival of the fittest. It is unique in that (I am not giving anything away here based on what is shown in the trailers) members of the family get killed one by one, beginning when they all sit down to a family dinner.

Son Felix (Nicholas Tucci) brings along his girlfriend Erin (a very tough Shami Vinson) to meet the members of his family. The two other brothers bring their partners, one of them, Zee (Wendy Glenn) is not who she appears to be.  Meanwhile their daughter Aimee (Amy Seimetz) brings along her new goodlooking boyfriend.

Parents Aubrey and Paul (Barbara Crampton and Rob Moran) are happy to have the children and their partners under one roof, and to meet them for the first time.

At the family’s first dinner, son Tariq (Ti West) thinks he see something moving outside, and he goes to the window to investigate, and gets shot in the head. What happens next and throughout the film is the fate of the unknown. What is out there? What or who is doing this? This is what makes You’re Next more unique than the other films that are in the same genre. The surprises of what happens next, who is next, and who will survive. And when the plot twist is revealed near the, you will be very surprised. And at the very end there is another plot surprise that that comes very unexpectedly. Enjoy.

03rd Sep2013

Pain & Gain – Film

by timbaros

 

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In the 1980’s, three men, two who were personal trainers affiliated with the Sun Gym in Miami, kidnapped, tortured and murdered several people. One of those kidnapped was the client of one of the two men. Pain & Gain tells this story.

Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is hired by Sun Gym owner John Mese (Rob Corddry), who is impressed with Lugo’s enthusiasm (and good looks), and hires him to do personal training and to help increase membership to the gym. One of Daniel’s clients is the very wealthy Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). Unfortunately for Kershaw, after going to a motivational seminar, Lugo hatches a plan to kidnap, extort and torture Kershaw, take all of his possessions, and leave him for dead, and enlists fellow personal trainer Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) to help.

Pain & Gain is loosely based on this true story, with loosely being the key word. Up until when the kidnapping takes place, Pain & Gain promises to be a Boogie Nights-style crime movie, with the hot Miami sun, a lot of muscle on show, and Wahlberg in the lead role. But Pain & Gain all too quickly falls apart, with scenes that are mind-numbingly stupid and a plot that suspends belief.

Once Kershaw is successfully kidnapped (after one failed attempt by the bumbling trio), he is locked up in his own warehouse in the middle of what looks to be downtown Miami. The kidnappers have Kershaw send his family out of the state, and make him sign over his possessions to them. They then attempt to kill him, unsuccessfully a couple times, but then think they have succeeded after running him over in broad daylight in the middle of busy downtown (conveniently with no one in sight).

The boys stupidly fail to check whether or not he is dead, and Kershaw survives, manages to go to the hospital, and tries to get his life back. Meanwhile, the boys are living in Kershaw’s house, spending his money, and befriending all of his fellow wealthy neighbors, with not one of them really questioning Kershaw’s whereabouts (another plot point we are expected to believe: can they all be that gullible?). They also take over his businesses, treating his employees with more respect then Kershaw ever did.

Meanwhile, Kershaw is in the hospital, and no one believes his story (really?), so Kershaw hires a private investigator (Ed Harris) to uncover the truth of his ordeal, who eventually unravels the trio’s misdeeds. The boys continue with their crime spree by attempting to rob an amoured car (which goes very wrong), and attempt another kidnapping which also goes horribly wrong when they accidentally murder the intended victim and his wife in Doorbal’s own house. The walls cave in on the boys and they are eventually caught, and at the end we are supposed to believe it happened this way, either fact or fiction.

Wahlberg, who has been in five films in the past two years, has picked a bad film to be in this time. Wahlberg produced and starred in the 2010 Oscar-nominated film The Fighter, and was most recently seen in 2 Guns (with Denzel Washington). And after starring in Ted, Wahlberg could do no wrong, but this film is all wrong. Sure, there are lots of scenes with his shirt off so he can show off his great physique, and he is believable throughout; it is just that the script that is very bad.

The other actors are fine, with Johnson playing the very dumb body builder, Paul Doyle, though it is hard to believe that a character as dumb as him could be in a gang that pulls off crimes like these. (Johnson’s character is actually a composite of a two actual members of the gang.) Pain & Gain could have been a much better and more realistic film if the director Michael Bay and the writers would’ve stuck to the actual true story, and not Hollywood-ized it. But Bay’s directorial style, where there are way too many car explosions and parts of the plot that are put in for convenience and not necessity, does not add up to a believable story.

Doorbal and Lugo ended up receiving death sentences for their crimes, and Johnson’s composite real lifers received eight years each as they testified against Doorbal and Lugo.

 

17th Aug2013

Planes – Film

by timbaros

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Dusty Crophopper has dreams of becoming a race plane; however, being a tiny crop duster does not exactly guarantee speed. Dusty does not let his dreams fade, and he does everything he can to become a racer plane in the new Disney animated film Planes.

Dusty (well voiced by American stand-up comedian, Dane Cook) spends his days at his boring job dusting crops, and envies the bigger and faster planes who compete in races. Dusty is very good at aerobatic manuveurs, but needs to work on his speed. His boss, Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer) and forklift mechanic friend Dottie (the adorable voice of Terri Hatcher) try to talk him out of entering the upcoming Wings Across the World race, as they feel he will make a fool of himself and come in dead last. However, his fuel truck friend Chug (Brad Garrett) supports him and tells him to go for it. Dusty asks for advice from old Navy war plane Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), who refuses to waste his time on what appears to be a lost cause. (Dusty eventually wins over Skipper, who shares with him his tale of flying in the war where he lost all of his flying battalion in a battle.)

In the qualifiers to the race, Dusty shows what he is made of, but is too slow to gain entry. However, he makes it into the race when another plane drops out because of performance enhancing jet fuel, and he begins the trek from the US, through Europe, to Mumbai and across the Far East, and across the finish line in New York.

Dusty does not give up hope that he can fly as fast as the rest of the other planes, including three-time winner Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). While preparing for the next leg of the race, Dusty meets and falls in love with racer plane Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) who helps Dusty with his fear of heights and guides him while flying through the Himalayas. Unfortunately, Dusty crashes into the ocean, and at this point considers dropping out. But with support from the other planes, including the Mexican race-plane El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), he makes it to the finish line neck-in-neck with Ripslinger.

Planes, a spin-off from Pixar’s animated film Cars (Disney bought Pixar in 2006), is an enjoyable film with very well-voiced characters, including Cook as Dusty and Hatcher as Dottie. One of the best sequences of Planes is when El Chupacabra tries to woo French-Canadian racer Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss), doing whatever he can to win her heart.

Planes will please the little ones in your group, and will also provide a smile or two for the adults.

Review originally appeared on hereisthecity.com – please click this link to view

14th Aug2013

Passion – DVD

by timbaros

passion01Director Brian De Palma has not made a film since 2007’s film Redacted, which received very limited release in the U.S. due to it’s subject of America’s involvement in Iraq. His newest effort, Passion, has just been released on DVD here in the UK.

 Passion is a highly dramatic film in which the assistant of an advertising executive wants to further her career but is held back by her bosses manipulative ways, including taking credit for some of her ideas. Things get more complicated when the assistant has an affair with her bosses husband, making Christine take action against her, which leads to public humiliation, and murder.
Rachel McAdams, who recently starred in Terence Malick’s To The Wonder, plays the advertising executive Christine, while Naomi Rapace, of The Girl with Dragon Tattoo series, plays the assistant Isabelle. Written and directed by Brian De Palma, Passion follows in the same vain as some of his previous thrillers Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double and 2006’s The Black Dahlia.
Passion can be bought here:
01st Aug2013

Red 2 – Film

by timbaros

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If you liked Red, then you will love Red 2, which picks up where Red left off.

Former CIA covert operations agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) Retired, Extremely Dangerous (RED), happy in his retirement and peaceful life with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), is dragged back into work to search for a new biological weapon called Nightshade.

It went missing from the Cold War during Frank and his partner Marvin’s (John Malkovich) watch, and has since resurfaced, and everyone, the good guys and the bad guys, believes that they know it’s whereabouts. To complicate matters, a hit has been put on them from M16, and agent Victoria (none other than (Helen Mirren) informs them that she has been contracted to shoot and kill them. She even dons a Queen’s crown as one of her disguises.

Meanwhile, a corrupt government official (Neal McDonough) is sending another contract killer, Han (Byung Hun Lee), who has an old score to settle with Frank, to kill them. Then, Frank’s old flame Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) shows up to further complicate matters. It is up to certified crazy scientist Edward Bailey (a Hannibal Lechter-like Anthony Hopkins), who knows a thing or two about Nightshade, and possibly knows it whereabouts, to help save the gang, as well as the rest of the world from annihilation.

Red 2 is an action/adventure/thriller as much as a James Bond film is, however, Red 2 (just like Red) has an added element – comedy – seen a few times when Sarah is not able to fire a pistol or drive a car, or the banter between her and Frank when they are caught in sticky situations. Marvin and Frank have their funny moments as well, one of them being when Marvin pretends to die and Frank is tempted to pinch his skin in the coffin to make sure he was really dead. (He wasn’t.)

Much better than the last James Bond film, Skyfall, Red 2 pulls out all the stops and provides the viewer with one hell of a 116-minute ride. Not once does the action, adventure and comedy stop. And with this all star cast of heavyweights – Willis, Mirren, Zeta-Jones, Hopkins, Malkovich, and even Parker, makes Red 2 the perfect summer film.

 

Review originally appeared on Hereisthecity.com – click this link to view it

22nd Jul2013

Red 2 Press Conference – Film

by timbaros

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Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker and Helen Mirren at today’s press conference for Red 2 – opening on 2 August, 2013

Here are some highlights of the press conference:
Q: Which elements of being an action here that you enjoyed and did you actually drive in Paris?
Mary Louise-Parker: I am a horrible driver and I don’t drive ever and the one scene where the director asked me to drive I drove into a wall and the director put it on a loop and watched it over and over again.
I love doing any scenes with Bruce Willis – that is the best part of the movie. My character is kind of sort of hopeless with action, she fails miserably and it was fun.
Q: When you get a contract for one of these movies that you got to have a regal moment , was some of that stuff ad libbed.
Helen Mirren: I can’t remember how that came about. I think the writers have written it and thought it was very funny, of course, that I would pretend to be the queen, I suggested that it should be a bit of a performance.
Q: Did comic books play a significant part of your childhood? If you were interested in comic books, which ones and why?
Bruce Willis: I am not a comic book guy..
Q: When you do your job, how difficult is it to stay in shape and to do the stunts you need to do?
Willis: I have to think about the food that I eat. I do let the stunt men take over.
Mirren: I was over the moon the first time I got offered the role in Red. Are people giong to think that I sold out but then I thought how incredibly stupid I was and that it was an incredible opportunity to do something that I have never done before. I couldn’t wait to do the second one. All I try to do is mix it up at times. When the penny drops as far as Red concerns I thought it was a perfect opportunity to mix it up, coming off doing The Queen the first queen, brilliant just to jump in the opposite direction.
Willis: I liked to work with this group of actors – we were very fortunate to get Tony Hopkins back.
Q: Why are you thrilled to return?
Parker: I feel like I have gotten luck so many times and I’ve had more than my share.
Mirren: This movie has expanded from the first and they go to incredible locations that they didn’t write me in to. You always learn from the first that the wonderful fully realized quirky characters, and the comedy and the romance and the action. That is the very difficult part to make a film that has genuine romance, great comedy and has a lot of action in it. At the same time, all of these characters are very serious as to who they are and what they do. I think it is just faster and funnier and little more furious then the first one.
Q: Which characters would you like to move visit?
Mirren: Almost all of them I would like to revisit. It is great to play a character that can develop with time, in real time in a way that as you get old the character gets older as theworld around you changes, the character changes – you can only really do that in television There was a character I played many years ago in a film called Cow, a very old movie – a characher Iwould like to revisit now.
Parker: I would like to play this character again. I did a play 17 years ago that I would like to remount – a play called How I Learned to Drive.
Willis: Of all the many rolesyouplayed, which one qwould you return to:
My favorite part of making films is the actual day to day process of getting in front of the camera and trying to make it seem life like, trying to make it funny, trying to make it romantic, and all this i know is a big part of film – sales of it all, the explanation of how we made the move,but my favorite part is actually making the movie.

22nd Jul2013

Summer of Cinema Video – Film

by timbaros

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PLAY VIDEO

22nd Jul2013

The Frozen Ground – Film

by timbaros

 

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In the 1980s in Anchorage, Alaska, Robert Hansen kidnapped 30 women, then took them into the wilderness where he shot and buried them.

Hansen, who owned a bakery, was a regular family man, with a good-looking wife and two children. Regardless, he stalked the streets of Anchorage for more than 13 years, driving around the city looking for young prostitutes to kill.

The Frozen Ground concentrates on the story of detective Glenn Frothe (called Sargent Jack Halcombe in the film). About to retire, Halcombe believes he can solve the cases of the missing women with an eyewitness to Hansen’s brutality: 17-year-old Cindy Paulson, who was taken from the streets by Hansen, but managed to escape and is now the one person who can put him in jail. Paulson, however, is not the best witness. Unstable, on drugs, and emotionally a wreck, she refuses to engage with Halcombe and the investigation and continues to work as a prostitute. In the meantime, another woman goes missing, and still lurking around the city is Hansen, who spots Paulson and arranges with a local thug to kidnap her.

Will Cindy tell all to Halcombe and help in the capture of Hansen? Or will Hansen get to Paulson first and add another murder to his list?

Films based on actual events tend to get dramaticised for the big screen, so it not really clear how much of this film is the actually true. Nicolas Cage plays Halcombe, the detective with children himself, who doesn’t want to see another young woman killed. Vanessa Hudgens, in her first dramatic role in a film, is able enough to pull off Paulson, one minute speaking like the young woman she, and the next minute having a breakdown. It is John Cusak, however, who steals this movie. His Hansen is so cold, so brutal, so cunning, that we believe someone who looks like Cusak could be a serial killer. Furthermore, Cusak and the real Hansen look eerily alike. Hansen was a normal family guy living a secret life, a secret life so sordid and horrible, it is hard to believe a man like him existed.

For those curious, Robert Hansen was convicted in 1983 and is currently serving 461 years in prison. He is now 74-years-old, and will die in prison, because Alaska does not have the death penalty.

Review originally posted on Hereisthecity.com – click on this link to view

21st Jul2013

Behind the Candelabra – Film

by timbaros

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Despite featuring Hollywood heavyweights Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra, just released in UK cinemas, was deemed ‘too much’ for release in US theatres. It premiered on pay cable channel HBO at the end of May, where it is still showing.

Director Steven Soderbergh came up with the idea for the film in 2000, which is based on Scott Thorson’s 1988 memoir, Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace. Douglas and Damon signed on in 2008 as Liberace and Thorson, respectively. But as no Hollywood studio wanted to finance it, it was picked up by HBO and shot on a budget of $23 million over thirty days in 2012.

The film is not a complete biography of both of them, but focuses more on Thorson’s relationship with Liberace. It was a secret relationship, as Liberace tried to pass himself off as straight to keep up his appeal with his legion of female fans. It was not until after their relationship ended (1982) that Scott sued Liberace, filing a $113 million palimony lawsuit against him. They settled out of court for a measly $75,000.

Liberace died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 67, after reconciling with Thorson earlier that year. Liberace’s doctor said his death was caused by heart disease, though later, the Riverside, California coroner stated there had been a deliberate attempt to hide the actual cause of death, and it was ruled that the star died due to complications of AIDS. In life and even in death, Liberace did not want to make it known that he was gay.

Michael Douglas plays Liberace to perfection, with the flamboyance and flair of the man himself. And Damon is perfect as Thorston, with blonde hair, a handsome face, a muscular body, and a touch of youthful innocence.

Behind the Candelabra starts out as we see Thorson, living with his adopted parents in California, going to see Liberace perform in Las Vegas with a mutual friend, Hollywood producer Bob Black (Scott Bakula). Going backstage after the show, Thorson is introduced to Liberace, who immediately takes a liking to the young man. Liberace invites Thorson over to his opulent and luxurious home, inhabited by a soon-to-be former live-in lover, a few maids, a few dogs, and a very effeminate male servant wearing tight white jeans, who offers Thorson pigs in a blanket while holding the tray near his crotch.

Liberace’s interest peaks even more when Thorson tells him that he likes to be around animals and wants to be a veterinarian. One of Liberace’s dogs is sick, so Thorson offers to get some medication that will cure the dog. And this kicks off their relationship. Soon enough, Liberace asks Thorson to move in with him, to become his right hand man, companion, chauffeur, stage hand, and most importantly, lover.

During their tumultuous six-year relationship (1977-1983), Liberace has Thorson undergo plastic surgery so he looks more like him, and goes under the knife himself so he looks younger. (Rob Lowe plays the plasticky plastic surgeon in a performance you will likely not forget!). He also has Thorson appearing with him on stage, as well as selling souvenirs to the fans. Being with one of the world’s leading entertainers and living the millionaire lifestyle of expensive clothes, flashy jewelry, while realizing that Liberace still has an eye for the cute, younger boys, causes Thorson to turn to drugs. His dependence on cocaine and erratic behaviour helps bring on the end of their relationship.

If it weren’t for Douglas’ and Damon’s performances, this film could have wound up as just another film for a gay audience. But they both completely pull off their roles, especially Douglas, who has experience playing a gay man (he was in an episode of Will & Grace where he played a gay cop who takes a liking to Will). Douglas is Liberace, right down to his lisp, his facial expressions, his on stage presence, and his eyes. His whole demeanor is Liberace.

And indeed, Douglas and Damon do kiss each other in this film, many times, and they have several scenes where both are in bed before and after a sex session, and they have quite a few naked hot tub sessions as well. (Luckily we don’t get to see Douglas’s arse, but are gifted with a few scenes of seeing Damon naked from behind.) A very sharp, not-too-serious, and semi-dramatic by screenplay by Richard LaGravenese, with surprise appearances by Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s mother and Dan Ackroyd as his manager, round out an exceptionally good film.

As Liberace says in the film, “I love to give people a good time.”

Appropriately, Behind the Candelabra is a good time.