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

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.