Review: Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Olympus Has Fallen

After years of being miscast in laughable rom-com’s opposite such talentless faces as Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler rediscovers his calling with Olympus Has Fallen, a performance that reminds us of why he broke out in the first place. It’s a shame, then, that the film itself doesn’t match up to its stars surprisingly shipshape standards, often falling short to cheesy dialogue, annoying patriotism and an overstretched running time. Continue reading “Review: Olympus Has Fallen (2013)”

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Melissa Leo Joins The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman

Melissa Leo (Frozen River) has signed on to star in Bona Fide Productions and Voltage Pictures’ The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Deadline has reported.

Leo, who won an Academy Award for her performance in last year’s The Fighter, will star opposite Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia), Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler) and Mads Mikkelson (Casino Royale) in the dramedy.

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman will centre on a man (LaBeouf) who Continue reading “Melissa Leo Joins The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman”

Academy Awards 2012: Winners

At a glitzy awards ceremony in Hollywood, California this evening, the winners of the 84th Academy Awards were announced.

Hosted by Billy Crystal, with presenters including Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Melissa Leo, the ceremony delivered on big-named guests, subtle jibes, welcomed surprises and plenty of comedy.

The Artist and Hugo tied with five awards a piece, with The Artist claiming Best Picture.

The full list of winners are included below: Continue reading “Academy Awards 2012: Winners”

Review: Red State (2011)

Over the years, Kevin Smith has made a name for himself directing such provocative and riotous comedies as the infamous Clerks and last years miscalculated Cop Out. His latest directorial effort, Red State, is an entirely different ball game. Not only does it see Smith returning to the guerrilla filmmaking style that made him a household name, but it also sees him tackling subject matter outside his typical comfort zone. This is how freely he works when not having to deal with Hollywood studios and experienced actors – something that, despite its often incoherent execution, is very interesting to behold.

Travis (Michael Angarano), Jarod (Kyle Gallner) and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun), respond to an online invitation Continue reading “Review: Red State (2011)”

Review: The Fighter (2010)

David O. Russell’s new film, The Fighter, is about a dysfunctional family based on the boxer Mickey Ward’s turbulent life.

The Fighter tells the story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward’s (Mark Wahlberg) who’s attempts at a boxing career are always met with failure. Trained by his drug-addicted brother, Dicky, and managed by their manipulative mother, Alice, Micky struggles to escape his tight-knit family and carve a successful life of his own.

Dicky’s dramatic fall from grace and the fractured shards of his dysfunctional family spur Micky forward, tearing him down, yet building him up at the same time, leading him to girlfriend Charlene and a career-move to LA.

Shepherded by Wahlberg’s Micky and Bale’s Dicky, The Fighter builds its dynamic around the family, choosing to focus on the families relationship, rivalry and manipulation, rather than the boxing itself, which is seen as a form of escapism, for Micky in particular.

Wahlberg and Bale each inhabit their respective characters absolutely, their personaes played against one another to represent two brothers struggling against the odds to make a name for themselves in the world.

Amy Adams embodies Charlene with a magnificently arresting force, striving to free Micky from the cycle of exploitation and anxiousness he’s been stuck in for years, allowing him to reach his full potential.

Melissa Leo is boorish in her rendering of Alice; exploiting and disrupting Micky and Dicky’s quest for stardom and freedom as mother/manager Alice. She’s one of those women from hell, all cigarettes and chicanery.

Russell’s direction is wonderful, mixing docu-style with intense, evasive cinematography, constructing everything with a perfect sense of naturalism and vivid energy.

Disappointedly, the script doesn’t, at times, match up to the strength of the direction and performances. It fails to find the right balance between boxing film and family psychodrama, making it difficult for viewers to fully invest in the characters’ lives; never quite reaches the heights its premise is destined for.

The Fighter is a well-directed, powerful film, with some truly sublime performances, regretfully let down by an often poor and in-cohesive script.

68th Annual Golden Globe Awards: Winners

Best Motion Picture – Drama

  • The Social Network

Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture – Drama

  • Natalie Portman – (Black Swan)

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Drama

  • Colin Firth – (The King’s Speech)

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • The Kids Are All Right

Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy

  • Annette Bening – (The Kids Are All Right)

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy

  • Paul Giamatti – (Barney’s Version)

Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role – Motion Picture

  • Melissa Leo – (The Fighter)

Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role – Motion Picture

  • Christian Bale – (The Fighter)

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Toy Story 3

Best Foreign Language Film

  • In A Better World

Best Director – Motion Picture

  • David Fincher – (The Social Network)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

  • The Social Network – (Aaron Sorkin)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • The Social Network – (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  • You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me – (Burlesque)

Review: Conviction (2010)

Based on a true story, Conviction tells the story of a working mother, Betty Ann Waters (Hilary Swank), who puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother, Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell), who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has exhausted his chances to appeal his conviction through public defenders.

Tony Goldwyn’s direction, while pleasing and sometimes well dramatised, often feels awkward, tiresome and disengaging, struggling to bring out the emotion and capture the inspirational message in an engaging manner, mainly due to the haphazard execution of the films structure, which mostly eradicates the possibility of emotional investment.

It would be easy, therefore, to cast off Conviction as a TV film trying, yet failing, to be something more, but that would be an injustice to the fantastic performances on show from more or less every actor involved..

Hilary Swank delivers a typically veracious, if less than stellar, turn as Betty Anne, while Sam Rockwell inhabits the role of Kenny with an extraordinary level of depth and naturalism, unavoidably making you trust him and believe his innocence.

Minnie Driver injects much-needed humour and likeability into the film as swank’s loyal compadre, and Juliette Lewis, despite only appearing in two scenes, completely envelops her character, giving a breathtaking performance as a wasted tramp whose also a key witness for the prosecution.

Conviction is ultimately an okay, yet disappointedly constructed, tale of retribution, elevated by several terrific performances.

16th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards: Winners

Best Film

  • The Social Network

Best Director

  • David Fincher – (The Social Network)

Best Actor

  • Colin Firth – (The King’s Speech)

Best Actress

  • Natalie Portman – (Black Swan)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale – (The Fighter)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Melissa Leo – (The Fighter)

Best Young Actor/Actress

  • Hailee Steinfeld – (True Grit)

Best Acting Ensemble

  • The Fighter

Best Original Screenplay

  • The King’s Speech – (David Seidler)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Social Network – (Aaron Sorkin)

Best Cinematography

  • Inception

Best Art Direction

  • Inception

Best Editing

  • Inception

Best Costume Design

  • Alice In Wonderland

Best Makeup

  • Alice In Wonderland

Best Visual Effects

  • Inception

Best Sound

  • Inception

Best Animated Film

  • Toy Story 3

Best Action Film

  • Inception

Best Comedy Film

  • Easy A

Best Film Made For Television

  • The Pacific

Best Foreign Language Film

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Best Documentary Film

  • Waiting For Superman

Best Score

  • The Social Network – (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)

Best Song

  • If I Rise – (127 Hours)

Review: Welcome To The Rileys (2010)

Welcome To The Rileys is a promising debut feature from music video director Jake Scott about tossed souls learning to overcome sorrow and loss.

The film follows Doug Riley (James Gandolfini), a damaged plumbing-supply salesman who struggles to find his place in the world after the death of his daughter, Emily. Things start to look up for Doug when he goes to New Orleans for a conference and meets an underage stripper named Mallory (Kristen Stewart). When Doug tells his wife, Lois (Melissa Leo), he’s not coming home, her response triggers a change for all three characters.

Essentially the film is made up of two parts: the first is the odd, father-daughter relationship between Doug and Malorey; and the second centers on Lois as she is forced to overcome her agoraphobia to save her marriage. When the two worlds are brought together, there’s an initial reluctance from all side, beautifully played by each actor, before they slowly begin to accept each others flaws and mould together.

The narrative is driven by the quieter, intimate moments shared between the characters, rather than relying on brash, noisy confrontations to propel events forward. This technique makes the film more realistic and raw, allowing audiences to understand the characters’ pain and disparity, but also, mainly towards the end, makes the film feel too bitter-sweet, like it’s trying to hard to wrap things up in a neat, content bow.

Gandolfini plays Doug as a benevolent, caring father-figure to Malorey and honest, earnest husband to Lois. Leo is exceptional as the troubled, lost soul Lois, who is pushed to reclaim her life and sense of being through events out of her reach. Stewart brings a naked vulnerability to her performances as Malorey, crafting her into a realistic and vibrant character, haunted by her loneliness and troubled upbringing.

Welcome To The Rileys is a solid debut piece of filmmaking from Jake Scott, driven by its honest script and three brave and charismatic performances.