Month: September 2013

The Poison Tree (2012)

Karen Clarke (MyAnna Buring) is first seen with her daughter, Alice (Hebe Johnson) waiting for her husband, Rex (Matthew Goode), to be released from prison, where he has spent the last twelve years of his life. The daughter has been told it was for tax evasion, the neighbors have been told he’s been doing gardening overseas — a believable story, I’m sure — and we’re told … not a whole lot, really. At least, not early on. At the beginning, like most good thrillers, we’re only given bits and pieces of the true story. In The Poison Tree, most of them are relayed through flashbacks. In fact, for the first half at least, we’re really given two stories to follow. The first involves Karen and Rex attempting to hide the whatever of their past from everyone else in their lives. The second is the flashback which will eventually lead up to the whatever that’s being hidden. Every time a flashback would come to an end, I wanted more. That’s part of The Poison Tree‘s success; it captivates and it wants you to constantly want more. The flashback — even when it wasn’t directly leading to the big reveals — is where most of the tension, most of the drama, and most of the fun comes from. In the “present day” scenes, the two leading characters are pretty much always...

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The Fisher King (1991)

 This is one of the best stories that deals with themes of redemption and humanity. With 1991’s “The Fisher King” directed by Terry Gilliam, we get an absolutely fantastic cast from Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges, as well as exploring and visiting some very adult themes. The movie is perfect in every way; almost everything works here. “The Fisher King” is an extraordinary film that needs to be seen and observed on how faith can come from the most unlikeliest of places.  The story has a man named Jack Lucas (Bridges) who is a radio DJ, when all of a sudden his life goes to hell when one of his frequent callers commits murder at a local restaurant. Jack sinks into a depression lasting him three years of torture. One night, Jack gets drunk and is almost beaten to death by thugs when he is saved by a bum named Parry (Williams). Soon, the two men become close friends, despite Parry being psychotic, and Jack later learns that it was Parry’s wife who got murdered from his caller, but together, Jack learns that a helping hand goes a long way.  “The Fisher King” is an absolute masterpiece that needs to be seen to be believed. It’s story is great by providing a modernized tale of redemption and hope, with a little bit of fantasy elements thrown in for good...

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Rush (2013)

By all accounts, the 1976 Formula One season was one for the ages, and if Rush is to be believed, probably the best one to ever occur. I know that it’s all dramatized and I’m sure stretches of the film never actually happened in real life, but because of the way it goes about telling the story of that particular season — and, more specifically, the two men fighting for the championship — it’s an incredibly compelling and thrilling experience. The film’s plot really begins in 1970, when the two men at its center, James Hunt and Niki Lauda (Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl), were both Formula Three drivers. After their first race together, they begin to develop a rivalry that they continue for the next six years. The men are polar opposites — Hunt is a party animal and risk taker, while Lauda is a calculating misanthrope who wins via technical proficiency and skill, but not reckless behavior. Of course, this sets up a rivalry with clear sides. Brawn vs. brains, to boil it down to its essence. Perhaps these men weren’t quite so dissimilar in real life, but that’s how they’re portrayed here. What Rush surprisingly does is not pick a side for you to root for. It’s a very down-the-middle film, and it gives both characters a great amount of time in the spotlight, but doesn’t...

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Movie Review of ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2’ (2012)

Heavens above, they finally did it. After four failed Twilight movies ranging from unwatchable to barely tolerable, the cast and crew behind the franchise have at long last figured out how to make this bullshit palatable. See, the past four films strived to faithfully adapt Stephenie Meyer’s turgid novels with a straight face, but that all changes with 2012’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. This time, returning director Bill Condon and the long-suffering cast seem to embrace the fact that the material indeed sucks, giving this final picture the chance to be the ludicrous joke that the fan-base don’t seem to realise that it is. Cranking its ridiculous aspects up to eleven, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is quite simply hilarious, one of the funniest and most enjoyable movie-watching experiences of 2012. It’s a brilliant parody of itself, and the end result, ironically, is more entertaining than the parody film Vampires Suck. With Bella (Kristen Stewart) having finally made the transformation to vampire, she begins to feel out her new powers and deal with her thirst for blood with help from husband Edward (Robert Pattinson). Meanwhile, the couple’s newborn daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) is growing at a rapid rate, and Bella is compelled to confront the fact that werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has imprinted his everlasting (paedophiliac) love on the infant. Word of Renesmee soon reaches the leader of the Volturi, Aro (Michael...

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The Invisible Woman (2013)

How often do you hear critics discuss production design, the sets, the costumes, and so on in movies that don’t happen to be set in the past or future? Furthermore, how many of these aren’t costume dramas or period pieces? There’s no more consistent genre of film than either of these at getting compliments when it comes to the aesthetics of the production, and I have to wonder why that is. My likeliest guess is because critics would otherwise run out of things to talk about, as these films often blend together and fall into the category of “seen one, seem them all.” To that end, The Invisible Woman is a costume drama primarily set “some years” before 1883, and stars Ralph Fiennes (who also directed the film) and Felicity Jones as Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan respectively. In 1990, a book written by Claire Tomalin was published about a secret love affair between Dickens and this Nelly character, and there still isn’t a substantial amount known about their relationship. The film does its best to fill us in on what could have happened, using the book as a basis. The film is framed as mostly occurring in a flashback, as Nelly remembers events that happened in the past while attempting to keep her emotions repressed in the present. We get to see how she and Dickens met, how...

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