The Disappearance of Alice Creed Review: A Fun, Low Budget Kidnapping Thriller

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the disappearance of alice creed

The Disappearance of Alice Creed movie poster. Movie stars Gemma Arterton. Image via assets.flicks.co.nz

For a movie junkie, nothing quite beats the feeling of delaying sleep because you don’t want to take a break from what you’re watching.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed was one fun ride. But of course, expectedly from a kidnapping plot, it had its uncomfortable and disturbing moments.

Let’s go over the plot for this British flick:

Two ex-convicts, Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston), kidnap Alice (Gemma Atterton) – the daughter of a rich guy – after some very thorough planning. They bring her to the secure location, lock her up and make sure she doesn’t have any opportunities to escape.

And while a two-man team has its advantages, it presents a set of weak points, especially when kidnapper Danny seems to be attracted to the beautiful victim. And while we think we know what’s gonna happen from the trailer (and our vast experience of watching kidnapping movies), we’re still in for a couple of surprising (and enjoyable) twists.

Sure, the movie doesn’t provide answers to every question the twists cause, but it does entertain from the first point to the next.

The ending is also satisfactory though a different outcome wouldn’t have disappointed either. Let’s say the ending is the least surprising part.

Written and directed by J. Blakeson, this 2009 flick is also a great study for screenwriters and filmmakers who want to write a solid low-budget action/thriller.

Now that I’ve offered my non-spoiling two cents about the film, let’s move to the fun bit for those who have seen the movie or just don’t mind spoilers:

The Kidnapper and Victim Mistakes from The Movie

  • Kidnapping someone one of them is attracted to. Sure, the other one isn’t even aware this is a possibility, but why take the risk of potentially thinking with your you know what?
  • Kidnapping an ex. Again, Vic doesn’t know this is even possible. But how dumb could Danny get?
  • Kidnapping with someone they’re intimate with. No explanation necessary. 😀
  • Humiliating the victim for more than necessary. Sure, she will hate you and fear you, but were the naked pictures and peeing without a bathroom really necessary? They made their plans easier, only for the short run. Danny’s plan B backfired because of the extra humiliation factor too.
  • Not trying to go all Liam Neeson when you’re kidnapped instead of kicking and screaming for no good. You know, count. Just count so that you can give the police an estimate of where you are.
  • Say who kidnapped you, for crying out loud! Again, it would make their job easier, and in this case, possible. You know the dude’s identity, and the name of the other one!
  • Don’t piss the kidnappers off. Sure, you can inflict a second of pain and irritation, but it’s not really worth it, and it will come back to bite you in so many ways.
  • Make them throw the key to you. Always make them keep the distance.

*

Have you seen The Disappearance of Alice Creed? What did you think? What are some of your kidnapping-plotted movies?

 

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Gone Girl Movie Review: Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck & Rosamund Pike

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(There are some spoilers.)

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck)’s beautiful wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing under suspicious circumstances. Police detective Boney (Kim Dickens) and officer Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) get right on the case, with Boney giving Nick the benefit of the doubt and Gilpin ready to blame Dunne.

As the audience we’re neither with Boney nor Gilpin: if he did it, it’s too obvious. If he’s innocent, also too obvious. But we know it’s a David Fincher movie, and it will probably not be black and white. And expectedly, things turn out to be all shades of grey:

While Nick tries to manage his in-laws and the media reaction with the help of his twin sister Go, we see he’s not exactly the doting husband he wants others to believe. He seems clueless about his wife’s daily activities, friends or diary, and to top of it all, he’s having an affair with a 20-year-old (and going to great lengths to hide it from others).

From the beginning of the movie, we have some flashbacks, with the voice-over from Amy, guiding us through their relationship, from the great start to troubling times, until we see Nick’s violent and dangerous side. And around the time cops are sure Nick’s behind her disappearance, and possibly murder, we hear this brilliant line from Amy:

“I’m so much happier now that I’m dead.”

So yes, she’s making a run for it to make Nick pay for being a lying, cheating bastard. And if you think she is taking things too far, just wait till you see how much further she’s willing to go, and how she handles her back-up plans…

*

Gone Girl is one crazy, psychotic mystery/thriller/drama that might make you question certain things in life, like how well you actually know the people you are with, how dangerous certain kinds of people can be and well, whether or not getting married is a sane idea in the first place.

Despite the original elements in its story, and some seriously fantastic acting from Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl is far from a smooth, fast ride. I’m aware that this was intentional, but the unevenness in pacing created moments, at least for me, where I struggled to stay engaged in the movie. It flows faster and better once we find out what Amy is up to, and how truly disturbed and calculating she is, but until then, I kept wishing some scenes were left in the editing room.

Because no matter how different and captivating a movie is, 149 minutes isn’t generally the amount I’m ready to give to a mystery/ drama/ thriller. Well-done epic movies? Sure. A decent piece in a trilogy where you don’t have the chance to get bored because every scene (and interaction) is necessary? Yeah.

But for me, Gone Girl would be even better at 139 minutes. Hell, at 129 or a little less, I could have jumped at the “masterpiece” wagon.

Because when a film is rated at 8.3 on IMDB (already grabbing a place on the site’s 250 best movies list) and has earned more than 350 million dollars at the box office against its 61 million budget, you want to be blown away by every second of the movie. There’s no place for boredom.

Call me sentimental, traditional or whatever, but I still prefer Se7en. At a little over 2 hours, it is tighter, creepier and has the more satisfactory ending. (Se7en is also on IMDB 250 and rated over 8 (8.7.,to be exact)-hence the comparison).

And the problem is with establishing your “villain” to be so brilliant is this haunting question: didn’t she have anything better to do with that Harvard degree and brain of hers than to take revenge? No attempts at world-domination? Trying to save the world or destroy it? And why let herself stoop to such a level if she is so awesome? Isn’t pretending to be someone else to find yourself a partner something losers, or at least very irrational people do?

Her motives and actions don’t match the IQ and OCD-thinking we’re given, and that’s another con if you think about the movie too much.

*

That said, I love Fincher, and this was a solid movie. But worth the rating and the box office-smashing? Not to me.

*

How did you feel about the movie? Please let me know in the comments.

Fun Gone Girl Trivia

  • The movie was written by Gillian Flynn, who adapted it from her own novel.
  • Scoot McNairy, our lovely protagonist from Monsters, plays one of Amy’s victims.
  • Director David Fincher (Fight Club), while mainly known for his dark mystery/thrillers (Se7en, Zodiac, Panic Room, The Game) has also found huge success with dramas (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.)
  • In the shooting script, Nick Dunne is mentioned to be in his 30s. Ben Affleck is in his early 40s.
  • Some of Rosamund Pike’s films include Pride and Prejudice, Jack Reacher, Surrogates and Fracture.

 

Also on Ben Affleck

State of Play starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel Mcadams and Helen Mirren

The Company Men starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello & Kevin Costner

Also on Rosamund Pike

Surrogates starring Bruce Willis, Rosamund Pike & Radha Mitchell

Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen

Fracture starring Ryan Gosling & Anthony Hopkins

*

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Before Midnight starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy: The Sequel I’d So Wanted to Like

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Image via eksiil.net.

It’s essential to remember where we are coming from, and before diving straight into my review, I want to talk a bit about the two movies that came before. But you can head straight to the Before Midnight part if you like. Just scroll down a bit;)

Before Sunrise: A Romantic Haven for The Realistic Romantic

In 1995, Jesse and Celine met on a train, and connected like they haven’t connected with anyone. They were both cute, young (in their early 20s) and, as much as Jesse was more obviously so, romantic. They got along so well, in fact, Jesse didn’t want to get off at his temporary station in Vienna (he was flying back home the next day) so he persuaded Celine to get off with him and spend the day/night in Vienna (Before Sunrise). You can read a more thorough, spoiler-free review here.

Of course Celine and Jesse fell in love during their spontaneous and romantic day, and we fell in love with their story (as well as the city.) Now, I’ll spoil the ending, so you might want to avoid this post if you haven’t seen Before Sunrise.

Hell, you shouldn’t be here if you haven’t seen Before Sunset (sequel to Before Sunrise, which we’ll talk about shortly.) But please do come back after you’ve seen it.

OK, so Before Sunrise has a semi-happy, semi-vague ending. Celine and Jesse agree not to exchange numbers or addresses (which is pretty dumb and naive, considering how they felt about each other), but to meet in Vienna in six months. They say their goodbyes and go on their separate ways. But don’t get me wrong, Before Sunrise is one of my favorite films, and I pretty much love everything about it.

Before Sunset: A Little Darker, More Realistic and Just As Good Sequel

Come 2004, we get Before Sunset, the sequel. This is where we are disappointed in the beginning to find out that that planned meeting never happened. Jesse has gone on to publish a bestseller about their day in Vienna, and is on a book tour in Paris, which is where Celine lives. Celine drops by at his book signing, and from then on, the movie is about them catching up 9 years later.

As they mostly walk around Paris, we learn what they’ve been up to. Professionally, they’ve chased their ideals. Romantically, they’re a mess. Celine is in a kind of relationship with a guy she doesn’t care much about. Jesse is unhappily married with a young son; he would probably bolted if not for him.

Here, because they are in their mid-30s, things are, or at least seem to be, a bit bleak. And not just because of their current disappointing relationships, but because we learn they couldn’t meet at their designated time and that they still have feelings for each other.

The ending is still a bit vague, but basically, this time we kind of, sort of know they stayed together. OK, let me put this way: we guess they stayed together at that moment, but we aren’t sure if it lasted. Well, we weren’t sure for 9 years, until Before Midnight came out.

Before Midnight: Bleak, Hostile, Insensitive, Bitchy, Toxic – Is this the sequel about Celine and Jesse’s dumber, more aggressive and ultra insensitive clones?

I love Before Sunrise to bits, and in some ways, I love Before Sunset even more because it seems more realistic and sincere. It’s easy to relate to the disappointments and missed opportunities and what-ifs of being a grown-up.

The dialogue also sounds more natural than the first movie. Director/writer Richard Linklater, and co-writers/lead actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have done splendid jobs capturing a genuine, second part of a love story.

Before Midnight has a lovely trailer. It looks like you’ll look into the marriage of one of our favorite couples in movie history, and what years have done to their relationship (we know it has been years because they have kids and they’re on vacation together as a family).

And it starts well enough: Jesse is at the airport saying goodbye to his now teenage son Hank who has spent the summer in Greece with them. Then it takes a while we can get some quality time with just Celine and Jesse. Sure, it’s just them talking in the car while their twin girls sleep at the back of the car but it’s more talking at each other and making jokes about their kids instead of really sharing – not the type of Jesse and Celine exchanges we’ve gotten used to. Yes, we get it. They are married. Things are different. But are you really ready for just how much things have changed?

Then they’re back around the writer’s residence, Jesse talking to his friends, and Celine helping out in the kitchen (Celine in the kitchen???) and then it’s everyone at the house having dinner together. The stuff our duo would discuss among themselves is discussed together here, where Celine does her usual (in this movie!) putting-Jesse-down routine.

So 35 minutes in, and they still haven’t taken a walk around town just the two of them.

OK, about 47 minutes in or so, we’re finally with the two of them, only their conversation revolves mostly around their kids, and Celine’s insecurities. There are some delightful moments and smiles, but it’s very limited.

After a few minutes of Before-Sunrisey moments, we go to the hotel Celine was so reluctant to go to, and all hell breaks lose. This is where the movie puts me further off long-lasting relationships and having kids. This where I say forever goodbye to the Celine and Jesse I know, wishing I can forget this movie, so that I watch the first two movies again, without being haunted by this one.

*

Remember that beautiful scene by the fountain, little after dawn, in Before Sunrise where Celine was talking about how she’d grow to love someone more after she has gotten to know them entirely…Well, turns out, she just grows to resent them. Yay! Celine is another woman who has grown to resent her husband who shockingly didn’t change at all.

Now, I’m not saying I’m super awesome and Celine’s a bitch. We all have our own demons, problems and neuroses. But Celine here is making me miss Ally McBeal; and at least Ally was likeable and well-meaning most of the time. And she was funnier than she was irritating.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t head over heels with Jesse either. The last thing I want is a guy with a bitchy ex-wife and a teenage son, who plans a whole summer according to his needs, doesn’t include loyalty in his definition of being fully committed and who openly checks out younger, perkier women who happen to be dating his friend!

It’s just that next to Celine, he wins the lesser of two evils award.

*

I’m not saying I hated it. It had its moments. It had the trademark gorgeous scenery of a foreign country. But it didn’t have passion or romance. It didn’t have faith in the relationship and love story we grew up to love. There was no respect on Celine’s part, and don’t get me started about their lackluster ideas of being fully committed to each other…

So to sum it up all three movies’ reviews:

During Before Sunrise, you want to be Celine or Jesse.

During Before Sunset, you hope you don’t miss out on chances, and you wish you have the guts to follow your heart if you do happen to miss out on chances. You still don’t mind being Jesse or Celine.

During Before Midnight, you just want to go to Greece.

*

And I really didn’t want them to stay together, because that relationship became as harmful as toxic waste. I’m not some naive romantic that expects everything to be perfect. But I do expect an insult-free, loyal, passionate and respectful relationship. Otherwise, what the hell is the point? Speed had more romance than Before Midnight, for crying out loud!

*

This is a good, decent, honest movie. It’s just a highly disappointing sequel.

Recommended Movies: Strangers Falling in Love in One Day 

Falling Overnight

Forget Me Not 

Monsters– with a sci-fi angle

Also on Ethan Hawke

Brooklyn’s Finest starring Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle

Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage, Jared Leto and Ethan Hawke

Actors and Literature: Ethan Hawke, Hugh Laurie and Viggo Mortensen

Reality Bites starring Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder and Ben Stiller

Alias TV Show starring Jennifer Garner, Michael Vartan, Bradley Cooper and Victor Garber

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The Affair Showtime Series Episode 3 Highlights: Starring Dominic West, Ruth Wilson & Joshua Jackson

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Episode 3 Highlights

The Affair cast: Joshua Jackson, Ruth Wilson, Dominic West,  Maura Tierney.

The Affair image via fan forum. From left: Joshua Jackson, Ruth Wilson, Dominic West and Maura Tierney.

For a thorough plot summary and review for the first episodes, please read The Affair starring Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney: The Good, The Weird, The We’ll See.

Warning: There’ll Be Spoilers.

Once again we have the story told first in Noah (Dominic West)’s point of view, and then Alison (Ruth Wilson)’s, and they continue to show the other one is the more active “pursuer.” But this time we get a bit more into their daily lives:

  • Alison is originally a pediatrics nurse, and her waitressing is way to help make ends meet until she can face sick children again.
  • Noah’s mother-in-law is actually as obnoxious as his father-in-law, if not more. She is still complaining about Noah not making enough money, in front of Noah, and mentioning the private schools they paid for. Noah has taken shit from his in-laws since he was 21, when he married Helen (Maura Tierney).
  • Noah starts to work on his book, though he mixes pleasure with business as Alison becomes his inside person. In Noah’s version, he asks to be friends, and that even though he is really into her, he can’t have an affair. In Alison’s version, Alison says she can’t have an affair because it’s her hometown. In Noah’s version the affair starts. In Alison’s, it doesn’t.
  • Alison’s boss at the diner, Oscar, wants to build a bowling alley next to the diner. Cole (Joshua Jackson) is against the change. He wants the town to stay the same. This gives us a great look into how he might not be into change as a person, and how this might have harmed their marriage. Because circumstances can change people, especially an extremely traumatic event like a child’s death. Alison has probably changed, and she is also likely going through depression as we find out she also has a self-cutting habit.
  • In Alison’s version, we get the impression she really doesn’t like Cole’s brother Scotty (Colin Donnell).

*

3rd episode felt a bit slower in some parts, and it was a little less shocking (as opposed to what Noah’s older son pulled off during the beginning of episode one.). However, it got us a bit more into the daily lives of our characters, and where they were, especially mentally, when the affair started. The crime element, and the fact that we don’t know who was killed and why, keeps adding a bit more mystery.

We also don’t know where they are now. Is the affair still on? Did they leave their spouses and get together? Or are they with the families they started with? Alison mentions a sitter; she has a kid now. Whose kid is it? Maybe she adopted?

There’s still a lot to find out, and it’s told and shot humanely enough to keep me interested, and I’m seriously against cheating. Yet, for some reason, even though I’m pissed at what they are doing and I’m rooting for their spouses to find out (to kick their asses), I can’t hate either Alison or Noah. Maybe I was charmed a bit by Noah’s (Dominic West)’s cute curls and swimming body too.

Kidding aside, it’s a show that earns your attention and keeps it. Fingers crossed for it to stay this way.

More on Joshua Jackson

 Gossip starring James Marsden, Lena Headey, Norman Reedus, Kate Hudson & Joshua Jackson

The Shadow Dancer starring Joshua Jackson, Claire Forlani and Harvey Keitel

Cursed starring Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson & Jesse Eisenberg

Fringe starring Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv & John Noble

Lay The Favorite Review: LTF starring Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hole, Joshua Jackson & Catherine Zeta Jones

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The Affair starring Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney: The Good, The Weird, The We’ll See

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The Affair image via variety.com.

The Affair’s airing its 3rd episode tonight on Showtime, and I wanted to catch you up on the plot before things got more complicated (and to help you decide if you were wondering whether the show was worth your time.)

The Affair :The Plot

Noah Solloway (Dominic West) is a public school teacher with one published book and a creeping existential crisis. How can he not? Married to his college sweetheart Helen (Maura Tierney) with 4 kids (one teenager and one about to become one), obnoxious in-laws (though the father makes the mother seem like an angel) and a second book he’s too blocked to write.

Alison (Ruth Wilson) is a younger, depressed waitress who has lost her child a few years ago, and she’s still not recovered from it. Her husband, Cole (Joshua Jackson) runs the family ranch with his brothers, and even though he seems better than Alison, he’s not exactly the picture of happiness either.

Noah and Helen pack their kids to spend the summer at her rich parents’ house, and on the way, they meet Alison at the diner she works for. There’s instant connection between her and Noah, though we’re given two different accounts as to how the affair came to start:

Both Noah and Alison are giving their separate statements at the police station. There’s apparently been a murder, which Noah thought to be an accident, or so he says.

As we listen to the start of the affair in two parts, we realize both sides show the other one as the pursuer, and themselves as the more emotional, and hesitant-to-cheat one. We also realize they’re keeping some bits to themselves as their voices tell one thing and the scenes show another.

Two episodes in, we don’t know who the victim is, or whether Alison and Noah are viable suspects.

The Good

I really like how both Noah and Alison’s versions differ from each other. In addition to painting the other one the “pursuer”, they also tend to show the other one’s spouse worse than they actually are.

For instance, in episode 1, Noah started first, and when we were first introduced to Cole, I thought he was a total ass. Then I listened to Alison, and I thought he was a really decent guy struggling in his own way.

Neither spouses are monsters, though Alison’s marriage seems a bit more troubled because of the loss of her son and her inner turmoil.

Noah also comes across as humane enough, even though he doesn’t have much more reason to cheat than some resentment towards in-laws and monotony of such a long-term relationship.

It’s refreshing to see marriages and spouses reasonably fine and nice, as opposed to making one or both sides insufferable so that the audience will empathize more with the cheaters.

The “cheaters” also do a fine job at coming across flawed but likeable. Sure, you’d not like to be their spouses, but these are people you wouldn’t mind being friends or family with.

The two different points of view add a nice level of mystery, and make us doubt both Alison and Noah, as we know the actual version is somewhere in between. Or maybe they are telling an agreed-upon version. Or maybe one of them is more honest than the other. We don’t know.

The series also has an honest, realistic and non-soapy feel despite the subject matter.

The Weird

Adultery is not the world’s most comfortable subject, especially if you are a romantic at heart and never have cheated on someone.

And it’s one thing to watch a habitual cheater who keeps cheating on their partner again and again. You’d like to believe those people would be easier to catch and dump (I’m on the let’s dump all cheaters wagon, unless the cheated party is a psychopath). But portraying Noah as a decent, family-oriented man who’d normally not do this… It’s a bit creepy. And scary.

Alison doesn’t seem to be the cheating type either.

Because it offers this disturbing theory: Anyone can, and will, cheat under the right circumstances: they just need to be depressed enough, disconnected enough, lonely enough, misunderstood enough, attracted enough….

And it’s the ultimate pet peeve of mine when Noah at some point will say :I’ve never cheated before.”

What does he want? A medal for keeping it in his pants for so long? Sorry, pal, you made your decision to keep it in your pants when you proposed. You don’t just get to have a family and a young mistress simultaneously without suffering any consequences.

I’m cutting Alison a bit more slack. I’m not condoning her cheating, but she’ll be more susceptible to questionable behavior – she has lost a child. That does give her the right to be off the rails; though I’d rather she did therapy instead of someone else’ husband.

The We’ll See

Currently The Affair fun and interesting enough to keep following. I like the cast, the location and the storytelling method.

It just might put you a bit further off marriage, though.

*

Have you seen The Affair yet? What did you think?

Fun note: One of Cole’s (Joshua Jackson)’s brothers is played by Colin Donnell (Tommy from Arrow).

 

Other Posts on Joshua Jackson:

 Gossip starring James Marsden, Lena Headey, Norman Reedus, Kate Hudson & Joshua Jackson

The Shadow Dancer starring Joshua Jackson, Claire Forlani and Harvey Keitel

Cursed starring Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson & Jesse Eisenberg

Fringe starring Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv & John Noble

Lay The Favorite Review: LTF starring Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hole, Joshua Jackson & Catherine Zeta Jones

One Week starring Joshua Jackson

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After The Dark Movie starring James Darcy, Sophie Lowe & Rhys Wakefield

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After The Dark movie poster via teaser-trailer.com

The philosophy teacher Mr. Zimit (James D’Arcy) of a high school senior class at an international school in Jakarta presents an extremely challenging role play on their last day of school:

It’s pretty much the atomic apocalypse, and they have the change to get to a nearby bunker. The bunker will protect them, and can keep them alive and healthy for a year. The problem is the bunker can only have 10 people, and there are 21 of them, including Zimit.

Choosing will have to based on practicality as the teacher has them randomly choose an occupation. So obviously the organic farmer (James, played by Rhys Wakefield) is exponentially luckier than the poet.

As they get more into the game, they get more freaked out by how ready and willing Zimit is to eliminate the “useless” ones. He also says he is the wild card, so they might or might not be missing something essential if they don’t let him.

But based on his erratic behavior, they don’t pick Zimit, and it turns out he is the one with the exit code to the bunker: they have one year to see if they’ll be able to leave, or die there after their resources run out.

And this is only the first iteration. There will be two more – with two more very interesting situations, occupations and the desirability of the candidates changing.

So everyone gets to see what the other is made of, and we end up with a very interesting story about how even the most supposedly rational people give in to their urges.

*

After the Dark (originally called The Philosophers) is an intriguing film with potentially a disappointing ending. I say potentially, because I initially hated it. But after thinking about the whole story, from the beginning, it made a lot of sense. It also explained the irrationality of their teacher in all of the situations, and his hostility toward James.

Now, you will probably hate a few characters, the teacher being one of them. The female protagonist, Petra (Sophie Lowe, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) might also get on your nerves after you see the whole picture. You will probably also think the students didn’t think things through in certain situations and could have been more rational and smarter, ending their iterations with much better results.

But after you think about how normally rational people tend to act irrationally in so many situations, it will make sense. It might not be the ending I’d have gone with if I were the writer; but with these characters, I’m fine with the ending, and I like the movie as a whole (though I find the first half a bit more exciting.)

*

This is an interesting, post-apocalyptic movie about rationality and human nature in general. Recommended.

Written and directed by John Huddles.

PS Is it just me or does James D’Arcy remind you of Jack Davenport (Steve of Coupling)?

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Suits starring Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams & Gina Torres: A Witty, Fun & Addictive Legal Dramedy Series

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Suita series poster, Gabriel Macht, Patrick J Adams

Gabriel Macht (Harvey) and Patrick J. Adams   (Mike). Image via epictvshows.com.

Premise

Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is the star attorney at Pearson Hardman. He’s great-looking, very smart, witty, confident, and to top all, he is the best closer in town. He can win in court, but he mostly doesn’t even let cases go that far. Unsurprisingly, he’s about to become a senior partner.

Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a different kind of genius. He has a photographic memory: once he reads something, he doesn’t even forget a comma from it. He’s street smart too: he’d be a great lawyer. Unfortunately, his best friend Trevor (Tom Lipinski) always gets in trouble dealing drugs, and his attempt to help Trevor gets Mike expelled from college, thus killing his dream.

Mike has, however, decided to cash in on his smarts: he enters the bar exam for other people, passes with flying colors and charges them for it. He also begrudgingly agrees to sell drugs for Trevor, one time, because he needs the money for his grandmother, who raised him after his parents died), as she needs looking after in a specialty home. Yep, Mike’s life is complicated.

When Pearson Hardman’s associate-hiring time starts, Harvey unwillingly agrees to hire a fellow Harvard associate. The problem? Harvey wants someone unconventional and exceptional like him. And he meets his match when Mike suspects the guys waiting for him at the hotel are cops and crashes Harvey’s interview. He ends up having to tell Harvey the whole story, impressing him. And when his knowledge of law surpasses Harvey’s, he gets hired, starting one of the most fun bromances on the screen, as well as creating one original conflict.

Of course Mike still has a lot to learn when it comes to practical stuff, and he is smitten by the smart paralegal Rachel (Meghan Markle), who gives him his orientation. They hit it off, but she doesn’t date anyone from work.

So Mike will now need to survive Jessica, annoying junior partner Louis (Rick Hoffman) who’s always jealous of Harvey, other associates, his feelings for Rachel and his anger with Trevor.

As Mike gets to learn how law and grey areas work, Harvey (occasionally) gets to show his more compassionate side, though he’ll never admit it.

And if the office politics might make you not want to be a lawyer, you’d still probably love to work with Donna (Sarah Rafferty), Harvey’s pretty and equally witty secretary.

Suits Series Cast: Gina Torres, Patrick J. Adams, Sarah Rafferty, Meghan Markle & Gabriel Macht

Suits Series Cast (from left): Gina Torres, Patrick J. Adams, Sarah Rafferty, Meghan Markle & Gabriel Macht. Image via kdramastars.com.

Why Suits Is So Much Fun

– The exchanges and relationship between Harvey and Mike.

– Not that many courtroom scenes:

I read somewhere that Suits was the show about lawyers with the less amount of court scenes, and I tend to agree. But that gives the show its own vibe, and it’s consistent with the show’s premise as Harvey is “the best closer”. In fact, I was disappointed by Season 3, when we see the inside of a courtroom more often.

Louis.

Like all brilliant men, Harvey might be tough to work with or for sometimes. It’s especially tough for Louis (Rick Hoffman), since he’s always been in his shadow. It doesn’t help he lacks the looks, the gentler touch when it comes to others and the wit. But he is still one of the best characters of the show, going back and forth between obnoxious and likable. Harvey puts Louis down any chance he gets, and Louis’ weirdness doesn’t help matters. So Louis is always looking for ways to stab Harvey in the back, though he could probably be won over easily with more kindness and compassions. Problem is, it’ s one of Harvey’s favorite hobbies to make fun of him. Whenever Louis is around, hilarity ensues. Good new is, he appears a lot.

Frankly, while I’d hate Louis in real life, I love watching Rick Hoffman playing him to the extreme, and I enjoy his character’s (occasionaly) honorable moments as well as back-stabbing attempts.

– Most movie and TV show references since Supernatural.

Harvey and Mike often exchange movie quotes and make movie/TV show references, so it makes it for a fun watch when your two favorite characters seem just as obsessed about these media as you are.

– Intelligent entertainment with great twists.

Suits is an intelligent, highly entertaining legal drama with more office politics, battles and changing power levels than you’ve seen in a legal drama (comedy.) It has its emotional moments too, and the cast pull off their roles brilliantly.

– Enough romantic tension: not more, not less.

The show doesn’t lack romantic tension and story lines, at least on Mike’s side. Harvey’s private life is colorful, though he’s not the one to be someone’s boyfriend. But worry not, we’re given an satisfactory explanation on why he’s the way he is.

Jessica.

Go feminism, is all I can say. She’s tough, smart, mostly fair, respectful if you deserve it and a good ally. She makes one hell of an enemy, and would intimidate the hell out of any man. Frankly, I like her even when she’s working against Harvey. I just didn’t like the storyline with her ex husband. Worry not, it was all legal matters really. But he got far too much respect for a… Nope, not gonna tell ya. I ain’t spoiling anything.;)

Donna.

She is like the Patrick Jane of legal secretaries; only she doesn’t have the baggage and revenge fantasies. She also doesn’t need to hypnotize or trick you to know things. She also has an awesome wardrobe. She’d be right at home working for Cal Lightman, really.

Suits has been renewed for season 5. The show was created by Aaron Korsh.

Please not that this raving review has been mostly for seasons 1 and 2, I’m not that crazy about season 3 – but that’s for another post.

 

Recommended Shows for Legal Drama/Comedy Lovers

The Good Wife starring Juliana Margulies (more drama)

Boston Legal starring James Spader and William Shatner (more comedy)

The Practice starring Dylan McDermott (all drama)

Shark starring James Woods (drama)

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Something’s Gotta Give starring Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson & Keanu Reeves: How A Romantic Comedy Ought to Be

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Something's Gotta Give movie poster

Image via movieposter.com.

I’m a huge fan of writer/director Nancy Meyers. It started with What Women Want (starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt), a blast of a romantic comedy with fantasy elements. It’s one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time, though if I had to talk percentages that movie is 80% hilarity and 20% romance. Something’s Gotta Give is a bit more romantic, though the balance is probably more 60% comedy and 40% romance.

It’s safe to call Meyers a superstar when it comes to romcom writer/directors. She writes great stories, directs while remaining honest to her characters and casts A-listers. She usually rocks the box office too. Other star-clad and hilarious Nancy Meyers romcoms include It’s Complicated (with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin) and The Holiday (with Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jack Black.) Both are recommended, though of these two, I prefer The Holiday. Something’s Gotta Give Premise: Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) is a beautiful, accomplished and divorced playwright with a house in the Hamptons. Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is a 60-something infamous rich bachelor with a reputation for not dating women over 30. Normally, these two would never meet.

But when Erica’s daughter Marin (Amanda Peet) brings Harry to her mother’s house for a weekend getaway, Erica also happens to be there with her sister Zoe (Frances McDormand), and hilarity ensues: Erica pretty much approves of nothing about him, and Zoe sees this as a fascinating opportunity to study the relationships of men and women, and why men tend to go for much younger women. Harry can’t wait to get out of there, but when he has a heart attack right before they can have sex, he is rushed to the nearest hospital where his doctor turns out to be the gorgeous, younger Julian (Keanu Reeves). All three women are pretty smitten by how nice and pretty he is, but he is taken by Erica, whose plays he is a fan of.

Harry is in a rush to go back to the city, but with his health at risk, Julian only allows him to stay at a nearby place for a couple of weeks, which to Erica’s horror, means her house. With everyone back to the city for work, she’s left alone with Harry, and quickly discovers he is a lot more fun, charming and intelligent than she gave him credit for. And to Harry’s dismay, she’s the most interesting and fun woman he has ever met. With a growing friendship and attraction, they will have to deal with their feelings for each other, as well as where Marin, Julian, and their outlooks on romance stand on all of this. After all, Harry doesn’t know how to be a boyfriend, and Julian is the ultimate catch. What does a woman have to do, especially with a play to write?

 

* Something’s Gotta Give is original, hilarious, honest and a little quirky. And if you pay attention, it’s also a fun, modern love story for any age. The movie makes astute observations on how we can’t help when, who or how we fall for, as well as what it means to be single (and dating) in the modern age of divorce and Internet. Of course if you want to get all cynical, you can call this movie superficial in many ways. Sure, there are health problems, but who doesn’t? Everybody is either rich, or making a decent living in NYC. Marin takes antidepressants because she’s an emotional “child” of divorce but her parents broke up when she was 23.

So apart from a couple of romantic and age-related health problems, everything is peachy. So if you do want a depressed outlook on life, go watch 21 Grams. It’s a very powerful, depressing and solid movie where no one is happy. And they deal with a lot of heavy stuff. If you want a more realistic romance where people aren’t rich, or all that healthy, watch Forget Me Not, which happens to be one of my favorite romances, by the way. It’s just not that light or optimistic. But if you are ready to dive into the typical (but extremely well-written) world of romantic comedy with a more dose of reality than most (Nicholson gets to lie on the gurney a lot, and being a lovely, smart person (Julian’s character) with brilliant looks doesn’t guarantee your happy ending) where the road to the happily-ever-after is just rocky (and funny) enough, don’t miss Something’s Gotta Give.

Fun Info About Cast and Movie:

–       Diane Keaton was nominated for an Oscar for her role. She and Nicholson were nominated for Best Actress and Actor (in musical or comedy) at the Golden Globes; Diane won.

–       The budget was 80 million, but the movie made$124,728,738 domestically, and a total of $266,728,738 (boxofficemojo.com.)

–       You can download the screenplay at sellingyourscreenplay.com

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Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise & Emily Blunt: Smart, Fast, Funny, Emotional

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Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise & Emily Blunt: Smart, Fast, Funny, Emotional

Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt

Image via comingsoon.net

Premise

Aliens called Mimics have invaded the earth, and they are winning. Humans’ chance of survival has increased slightly with the invention of metal suits with several weapons.

The war’s one of the most successful and courageous soldiers is British sergeant Rita (Emily Blunt), also called Full Metal Bitch.

Major Cage (Tom Cruise) is the PR specialist of the US army, an advertising guy who had to join the military after losing his business. Before another battle with the Mimics led by British general Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), Brigham asks Cage to lead a film crew, and record what’s supposed to be a not-so-deadly front.

But when the freaked out Cage declines, and tries to blackmail his way out of it, Brigham sends him off to a base as a fresh recruit/runner, and poor Cage is sent to fight a war with no skills and no knowledge of the weapons they need to wear.

But the supposed mild battle turns into a bloodbath as the aliens knew they were coming, and Cage doesn’t make it through the day alive.

Except he wakes up, day reset, right when he first met his commander Farrell (Will Paxton) yesterday. He can’t figure his way out, and he can’t survive again.

But the day keeps resetting, and when Rita understands what he’s going through, she tells him to find her when he wakes up.

So they start training, and with the help of the brilliant but literally resourceless Carter (Noah Taylor), they try to find a way to win the war.

*

Edge of Tomorrow is the ideal big budget movie: it has great CGI to justify the cost, riveting plot, a lot of action with heart, decent character development and with enough emotional and funny moments to balance the sci-fi and action.

What I especially liked is that our protagonist isn’t a born, trained or willing fighter in the beginning. He’s just a regular, albeit well-educated and healthy, Joe who doesn’t want to die on a battlefield. He’s no soldier. His being in the army isn’t by choice, really. Cruise’s transition from the funny blood-averse man to the mandatory kick-ass soldier is well-performed, and well-timed.

It’s currently 8.2 on IMDB voted by about 40,000 users, and I think it even deserves a 9.

COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE FILM (Not Mine)

Of course there are some popular complaints about the movie, but most of them aren’t relevant to the plot. Let’s go over them one by one anyway:

1)    The lead should have been Asian.

Because the script was adapted from a Japanese graphic novel called All You Need Is Kill, loyal readers aren’t happy the lead is the very white Tom Cruise.

The point is, not everyone reads all graphic novels. I know I don’t. I didn’t even know what the script was based on before researching details after I’ve seen it.

But we are talking about a 178-million-dollar movie here. It doesn’t matter which ethnicity the actor comes from. The producers want to take the least risky path, and who better to front a movie like this than Cruise?

His action/sci-fi movie revenue record speaks for itself. He is also an Oscar-nominated actor (3 times). So basically, if I were a director/studio executive/producer, and could get someone like Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington, I’d be crazy not to.

2)    Tom Cruise is 51.

And? The graphic novel character might be a 25-year-old, but his character is this movie is a Major in the US military. He’s also supposed to have his own advertising business before joining the military. Add the numbers up, and his age makes a lot of sense.

One could argue 51 is too old for to lead an action-packed movie, but if the actor is fit and badass enough, who cares how old he is? And I’m not the only one who thinks Cruise is fantastic for his age or any age in general.

3)    Emily Blunt is 3o.

You can hardly tell there’s a two-decade age gap. She looks ageless, and so does he. They have great chemistry, and they are terrific in their parts. Also, this movie isn’t about their characters falling in love, getting married and raising kids together. Yes, there’s an emotional connection, but considering their circumstances, it makes more sense than majority of the action romances/pairings Hollywood has presented.

4)    The ending doesn’t make sense.

In order not to give spoilers here I won’t get specific. But I find the ending quite right. It fits the logic of the world described in the movie. And since what happens in the end (and what causes it) is the first time it happens in the movie, so previous events can’t be used to refute it.

*

Personally, I loved the movie in its entirety. If there’s a sequel, I will watch it. But I think I prefer this one as a one-off.

 

Favorite Moments

–       How Tom Cruise recites everyone’s lines before they could say anything to make his point.

–       How his character logically and emotionally transforms from an ordinary, violence-averse guy to a leader true/hero through training and what he experiences.

–       The relationship between Rita (Blunt) and Cage (Cruise). It’s for the most part a friendship/comradeship. But an emotional bond is inevitably formed, and not just because Cage gets to experience the same day with different events with her, and getting to know her, but also because she can empathize with him. Even though she technically spends one day with him, he tells her what happened, how she died and how they can last longer. She also had the time-resetting ability he did before.

–       She just shoots him whenever he gets injured or risks captivity. The loss of his own blood, and transfusion of new blood, will cause him to lose the ability, hence forever destroying their chance of winning the war.

 

*

Please do share what you think about Edge of Tomorrow.

*

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The Good Wife: Overview of the Strange Season Five & That Solid Finale

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Spoiler Warning: This post can contain spoilers about any The Good Wife season or finale.

The Good Wife season 5

Image via zap2it.com

What a weird season that was! They killed one of my three beloved characters (Eli, Diane and Will). In fact they killed my favorite character Will Gardner (Josh Charles) – the leading male character of the show in the middle of the season.

But even before Will died, things had gone a little awry:

–       Most cases weren’t that interesting.

–       I wasn’t crazy about Florick/Agos, especially since “Florick” got there because she wanted to stay with her husband even though she had feelings for Will- like that’s how you make healthy career moves!

–       She chose Peter (Chris Noth) over Will (I’m not letting this one go!)

–       They overplayed the music in most episodes where it started ruining the ambiance instead of complimenting or enhancing it.

–       They used a guest star way too many times (talking about” Colin Sweeney”, not Michael J. Fox – I love him, and his weirdo character, so he can become a regular for all I care),

–       The whole out-to-get-Alicia Will was starting to get old (even though it was understandable)

Josh Charles as Will Gardner

The G in LG. Will Gardner: funny, charming, creative. He is missed. Yes, I know he is fictional:) Image via tvline.com.

 

And then, just as I was thinking they had forgotten about Hunter Parish’s character Jeremy (the young guy they charged for murder), the storyline became a curious one. They also hired Finn Polmar (Matthew Goode) to oppose Will and voila…we suddenly had a court shooting, a new recurring character, grieving friends, an obnoxious Peter and a Will-less show.

But writers came out OK in the end. They brought on constantly scheming Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), a friendship was born between Alicia and Finn, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) kicked out Peter because he was being an ass, she slowly got her groove back – along with the show.

In the finale we had the separated Peter and Alicia, state-attorney candidate Finn not backed up by Peter (because he taught Finn and Alicia were a thing), Canning and David Lee trying to out-vote Diane (Christine Baranski), Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) kind of dating Cary (Matt Czuchry), and poor Eli (Alan Cumming) trying to prevent Peter from sleeping with 20-something interns…. 

I was a bit bored, and somewhat annoyed by the season 4 finale. I didn’t care about Peter and his votes, Alicia changing her stance at the court, and her making out with Will – only to join Cary and stay with Peter.

 

SEASON 5 FINALE EVENTS

But this finale gave us fighter (but emotionally worn) Diane, a loyal Kalinda (to Diane), spying Florick/Agos, fighting Cary and Alicia on a possible merger with Lockhart and Gardner.

Cary took his point on not wanting to merge to the extreme, and fessed up the idea to Louis Canning, who in turn came up with a plan C – resolving the firm that means so much to Diane.

Eli needed a quick, already-vetted state’s attorney candidate since Peter backed up from endorsing Finn, and already hated his opposition. They decided to offer it to Diane – who now had another complicated move to consider.

But the spying FA learned about Cary’s betrayal, and Alicia was enraged.

Finn decided to withdraw from the race because they had something on a case they’d use against him, while Alicia supported his decision either way.

Zac was about to graduate so a pre-ceremony family dinner was in the works, but Jackie and Alicia’s mom (Stockard Channing) doing their own thing while being themselves and drinking made things funnier, and put Peter in the middle as Alicia was still caught up about the merger option.

Diane did however something unexpected, and ultimately very logical: she asked to join FA on her own, with her clients and turned down Peter’s offer, who had pulled quite a number on her about her judgeship.

Alicia got to her son’s ceremony at the last minute.

Goodbyes were said to Zac.

But my absolute favorite moment is the ending where Eli got the “no” call from Diane, and stared at Alicia in such an adoring way where we nearly, almost thought he was going to say he had feelings for her…or something like that. He had that pre-romantic confession look. But this is Eli, and it was a pure, unspoiled, awesome Eli moment as he said:

“Alicia, would you want to run for State’s Attorney?”

A shocked Alicia says “What?” and then it ends.

So I’m sticking for the sixth season, fingers crossed for seeing more Finn, more riveting cases and some Alicia action – whether she gets it from Finn or someone else. She did grieve for Will for months, add the summer, and we should be fine with her romantic storylines…

*

How did you find the season finale? What were your favorite/least favorite moments of the season, or the finale?

Recommended Shows for Legal Drama/Comedy Lovers

Suits starring Gabriel Macht & Patrick J. Adams 

Boston Legal starring James Spader and William Shatner (more comedy)

The Practice starring Dylan McDermott (all drama)

Shark starring James Woods (drama)

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