26th Feb2016

Triple 9 (Film)

by timbaros

triple9_1200x513Triple 9 is the police officer code for the death of a policeman. It’s also the name of a new film about corruption in the police department.

Taking place in Atlanta, and with an all-star cast, ‘Triple 9’ focuses on several characters, but it’s Chris Allen’s (Casey Affleck) story. He’s been moved from a zone 2 position (crossing guard) to that of a police detective, serving under his uncle Sergeant Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson). But amongst the rest of Allen’s squad are police officers who don’t exactly follow the rules, some of them in fact break them. And the ones that break them are being blackmailed by the Russian Mafia, led by Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet looking extremely unrecognizable). Vlaslov has several of the police officers in the palm of her hand and in her pocket, including Michael Belmont (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Marcus Atwood (Anthony Mackie). She’s also kidnapped Atwood’s young son born to him by his Russian ex-wife to prove to him that he better finish one last job for her. In an explosive start to the film, Belmont, along with Atwood and Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul) and others pull off a daring heist in an Atlanta downtown bank. It’s a heist that goes smoothly until one of the bags full of money explodes with colored powder, exposing the men on a highway where they have to hijack another car to get away. Meanwhile, local Mexican gangs aren’t too pleased to see the police in their neighborhoods, and the gangs will do whatever it takes to get the cops off their streets. Led by Pinto (Luis Da Silva), his gang deals drugs and kills cops full time. But Detective Allen, who has a wife and young baby at home, doesn’t know that he’s being set up in order for the corrupt cops to pull off the final heist in the Department of Homeland Security’s vault under Vlaslov’s orders. It’s a heist where Allen realizes police corruption is too close to home.

Tripple 9 is not for the faint at heart. It’s full of severed heads, shootouts, brutal arrests and lots and lots of violence. We see the story through Aflleck’s eyes – a young naive cop caught up in a world he knows nothing about. The star-studded cast all work hard to make Matt Cook’s script as real as possible. Most memorable is Winslet who plays the Russian boss – very cold and calculating who won’t even think twice about killing one of her own. Her Russian accent is very good but starts lilting into English near the end of the film. Director John Hillcoat (who gave us the masterpiece ’The Road) keeps the action coming at us right and left throughout the film, but it’s the predictable ending that doesn’t quite make this film as good as it should’ve been.

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12th Nov2015

Steve Jobs (Film)

by timbaros

STEVE_JOBS_reflectionSteve Jobs, one of the co-founders of Apple, has changed the way we communicate with each other. He’s had a fascinating life, but it’s not detailed in the new ‘Steve Jobs’ film.

Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) has assembled a first rate cast (Michael Fassbender plays Jobs and Kate Winslet plays his long suffering assistant Joanna Hoffman). While the movie is a timeline of crucial events in Jobs life, it’s not, as writer Aaron Sorkin bluntly put it at a recent press conference for the film, a ‘dramatic recreation of his Wikipedia page.’ Sorkin admitted that the script is his invention, and while the characters are real, most of the events that take place in the film are not. There is lots of conflict, with his daughter Lisa, and with his daughter’s mother Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), conflicts that underpin and take over the whole movie. There is also conflict between Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), who co-founded Apple with Jobs; and conflict between Jobs and then Apple CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels), a man who Jobs hired for the role. This is not to mention Hoffman’s conflict she had in keeping up with Jobs and his temperament, and for keeping her love for him a secret for many years, according to Boyle’s version of events.

Boyle comes from a theatre background, and he shot ‘Steve Jobs’ in three acts, acts that all deal with Jobs’ product launches. Act 1, which takes place in San Francisco in 1984, was shot in 16mm to give the look of the film a rough homemade feel. It’s an act that introduces the world to Job’s (and Wozniak’s) Macintosh computer. It’s a computer that is one of a kind, a device that they hope will reinvent the way people do stuff. But it wasn’t Apple’s computer that had recently made Time Magazine’s ‘Man of the Year,’ it was an IBM. To say Jobs is bitter is an understatement. Meanwhile, Brennan shows up to tell him that she’s got no money to pay the bills, that’s he’s not taking care of his daughter Lisa the way he should be (Lisa is played by various actresses as she gets older), yet he’s worth an estimated $484 million and pretty much fobs her off. But it’s minutes to the Mac product launch, and there’s a problem with the computer that will be used during the launch show. And Jobs makes Hoffman find a white shirt with a pocket so that the shirt the has on won’t clash with the colors on stage. It’s a lot of conflict for just one act – Shakespearean even. And even Wozniak gets to throw a barb in his direction by telling Jobs ‘Computers aren’t supposed to have human flaws, I’m not going to build one with yours.’ Ouch. And Scully wants to sell the Mac at a much higher price than Jobs recommends.

But the Mac was a failure, sales never live up to expectations, so Jobs is fired from Apple (after a massive row with Scully and the board of directors) and sets up his own company – Next. Act 2 then takes place in the lead up to the launch of Next’s Black Cube, also in San Francisco, in 1988. It’s a computer where Jobs confesses has no Operating System! It’s like building a great car but with no engine. So it’s not a great start to the Black Cube. And Lisa is lurking in the background again, asking Jobs lots of questions. She’s missing school just to be with him and she says she wants to live with him. And Brennan is still bitter. Jobs is becoming crazy, desperate and angry. But one year later the Black Cube is a failure, and Jobs was able to convince Apple to buy Next.

By 1998, Act 3, Jobs is back at Apple, he’s got the gold rim glasses, black sweater, jeans, tall, lanky and thin. And it’s another launch, this one for Apple’s new computer iMac, a bulbous computer very sleek in design. But Jobs has just found out that one of his lieutenants, Andy Herzfeld (Michael Stuhlberg), has paid for Lisa’s Harvard education. And yes, again, Lisa is there, right before another product launch, and she’s there we presume to create more conflict and drama as if it’s not already palpable. And Jobs is so obsessed with work that he forgets his true responsibility – his daughter. And he’s launching the Apple as we know it today, a logo of an Apple with a bite on the upper right hand side, but Wozniak is still in conflict with Jobs, even though they’re still working together. He tells Jobs: ‘I am tired of being Ringo instead of being John.’ With all this going on, and with Jobs needing to be on stage in a couple minutes, he feels that he must resolve the biggest conflict he’s got, with his daughter. And this is what he does, with much chagrin to the investors waiting in the auditorium. And then all is right with his world.

‘Steve Jobs’ ultimately turns into Boyle’s vision of Steve Jobs. Think of it this way; this movie is made up almost mostly of events and conversations that didn’t happen. And that is what is most disappointing about ‘Steve Jobs.’ It’s going to have to be accepted as a work of fiction. But Jobs was such a fascinating man and made a huge impact to the world, why would an Oscar-winning director do this?

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14th Oct2013

London Film Festival – 2013

by timbaros

The 57th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express started on Wednesday October 9 with a stellar line up of films.

Here is a sneak peak of a few of those films.

Opening Night Gala

Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks (Directed by Paul Greengrass)

The first of two films starring Hanks in the festival, the eagerly awaited Captain Phillips has Hanks as the captain of a cargo ship which is hijacked by Somalis. The buzz on this film is that it is Hank’s best performance ever, and that the actors who play the kidnappers are just as good. This will be the film to watch.

Saving Mr. Banks – Tom Hanks (Directed by Lee Hancock)

This is the other film starring Hanks, and is about the making of Mary Poppins, the 1964 film which starred Julie Andrews. Emma Thompson plays PL Travers, the creator of Poppins, while Hanks plays Walt Disney. In this film, Disney asks Travers to come to Hollywood to participate in the development of the screenplay for Poppins.

12 Years A Slave – (Directed by Steve McQueen)

Unknown actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon, an accomplished violinist who is living as a free man in New York City but is conned into joining a traveling show and then sold into slavery. Ejiofor is being tipped for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. 12 Years A Slave is produced by Brad Pitt, who has a small role in the film. Expect awards aplenty for this film.

Gravity- Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (Directed by Alfonso Cuaron)

Cuaron, director of the well-received Pan’s Labyrinth and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, leads heavy duty starts Bullock and Clooney who play astronauts who encounter danger on a mission in space. Expect huge box office for this film.

Labor Day – Kate Winslet (Directed by Jason Reitman)

Winslet, back on the big screen for the first time since 2011’s Contagion, plays the reclusive mother of a sensitive teenager, and is withdrawn and brokenhearted after the breakdown of her marriage. On Labor Day weekend, they meet a wounded man (Josh Brolin), who changes their lives forever.

The Invisible Woman – Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas (Directed by Fiennes)

Fiennes, who directed Coriolanus, stars as Charles Dickens, and tells the story of his affair with a young actress (Felicity Jones), which lasts until his death. Thomas plays the young girl’s mother. The Invisible Woman was written by recent Emmy winner Abi Morgan, who also wrote The Iron Lady.

The Epic of Everest – Directed by John Noel

Another documentary about Mount Everest? Yes, but this one is different. It records the third attempt to climb Everest, which culminated in the deaths of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. This sparked the debate on whether they made it to the top or not. Noel filmed this in brutally harsh conditions to realistically retell this moment in history.

Parkland – Directed by Peter Landesman

Hanks (him again?) produced this film, which recreates the events of November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in his motorcade while traveling through downtown Dallas. Featuring an ensemble cast, including Zac Effron, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, and Colin Hanks (his son), Parkland tells in detail every single decision that was made that day which would change history.

Kill Your Darlings – Daniel Radcliffe (Directed by John Krokidas)

The hotly anticipated Kill Your Darlings has Radcliffe playing a young Allen Ginsburg. Torn between loyalty to his sick mother and the burgeoning Beat Generation scene of downtown New York City in 1944, Kill Your Darlings follows the trails of Ginsburg as he makes friendships with William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

These are just some of the highlights as to what is on offer at the festival. For more information, and to buy tickets, please visit http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff.