REVIEW: THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS

CAST

Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)
Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer)
Ben Chaplin (Lost Souls)
Jamie Foxx (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
James McCaffrey (The Florentine)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (24)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Monique Parent (Vigilante Diaries)

81T-0YZ9mJL__SL1500_Abby Barnes (Garofalo) is a veterinarian and host of a radio show called The Truth About Cats and Dogs. When she makes a blind date with Brian (Chaplin), a caller to her show, her insecurity about her appearance leads her to persuade her more conventionally attractive (though less intellectual) friend Noelle (Thurman) to pretend to be Abby on their date.91CvKBu-feL__SL1500_Both women develop feelings for Brian, leading to a series of comic misunderstandings. Brian’s persistence in pursuing Noelle in person is thwarted as Noelle tries to maneuver him toward the real Abby. After Abby behaves jealously while drunk and embarrasses herself at a photo shoot, she leaves and it appears to her that Brian and Noelle sleep together. However, Noelle actually leaves too, and Brian, distressed by Noelle’s changing attitude, corners Abby in her apartment where he finds evidence of her real identity as the radio host he fell for through her voice. As Abby and Noelle attempt to explain, Brian decides he has been the victim of a practical joke and leaves in disgust.19260325_1447912685267599_437169328628005954_nAbby later approaches Brian at his regular bar and explains what happened, and although initially dismissive, he eventually meets with Abby and he has fallen for the real Abby and was only attracted to Noelle because of their deception. He suggests they start again, and Abby happily agrees.19366170_754444704734913_594717877546801125_nThis film is a real classic which has been sadly overlooked. Garofalo and Chaplin have a real natural chemistry.

REVIEW: MURDER BY NUMBERS

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Michael Pitt (The Dreamers)
Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
R. D. Call (Waterworld)
Chris Penn (After The Sunset)
Tom Verica (Red Dragon)

Richard Haywood (Gosling) and Justin Pendleton (Pitt) are high school classmates; Richard is wealthy and popular, while Justin is a brilliant introvert. After months of planning a “perfect crime”, they abduct a woman at random, strangle her, and plant evidence implicating Richard’s marijuana dealer, janitor Ray Feathers (Chris Penn). Detective Cassie Mayweather (Bullock) and her new partner, Sam Kennedy (Chaplin) investigate. Cassie sleeps with Sam early on—as she has with previous partners—but won’t let him see her chest, and curtly sends him home afterward.

Footprints at the crime scene lead to Richard, and vomit nearby implicates Justin. Both have alibis, and deny knowing each other, but Cassie is convinced that Richard is the murderer and Justin is involved. Sam criticizes her refusal to consider other suspects, as most of the physical evidence points away from the two boys. Cassie’s boss, Captain Rod Cody (R. D. Call), and her cuckolded ex, Assistant D.A. Al Swanson (Tom Verica), fearing Richard’s influential parents, take Cassie off the case. Sam, following the (planted) evidence, tracks down Ray. When Ray is found dead, apparently a suicide (actually killed by Richard), the woman’s murder appears solved; but Sam decides that Cassie may be right, and continues the investigation.

Justin, who has a crush on classmate Lisa Mills (Agnes Bruckner), works up the courage to ask her out. A jealous Richard seduces Lisa, then gives Justin a video clip of the two having sex. Justin is enraged, but regains control, knowing Sam is still watching them. Cassie begins receiving calls from her ex-husband, Carl Hudson, who went to prison for stabbing her in the chest 17 times. His parole hearing is coming up, and he wants her to speak on his behalf. Cassie confides to Sam that although she became a cop to prove to herself that she wasn’t a victim, she is terrified at the prospect of seeing Carl again. She also confesses that Richard reminds her of Carl—which is why she is convinced of Richard’s guilt, and obsessed with proving it.

Sam and Cassie bring Richard and Justin in for separate interrogations, trying to induce each to implicate the other, but neither will talk, and both are released. At the victim’s home, Cassie determines how the boys carried out the abduction and altered the physical evidence. Justin and Richard, knowing that Cassie is closing in on them, flee to an abandoned house, where Richard produces two pistols and proposes a mutual suicide. On the count of three, Justin shoots (into the air), but Richard does not. Justin demands to see Richard’s gun—which is unloaded. As a furious Justin is about to shoot Richard, Cassie arrives. Richard grabs Justin’s gun and shoots at Cassie, wounding Justin instead. Cassie gives chase and tackles Richard on a rickety balcony jutting out over a cliff. As Richard strangles Cassie, the balcony gives way and Richard falls to his death. Justin grabs Cassie, who is hanging on the edge of the balcony, and pulls her back into the house.

Cassie assures Justin that she will intercede on his behalf, since he was an innocent dupe, manipulated by the ruthless Richard. Then she notices a mark on her neck caused by Richard’s large ring, and realizes that the dead woman’s neck did not have a similar mark. Confronted with the evidence, Justin confesses that he strangled the victim to prove his “courage” to Richard. In the closing scene, Cassie faces her fears and enters the courtroom to testify at Carl’s parole hearing. The bailiff calls her to the stand by her legal name: Jessica Marie Hudson.

Schroeder does not build his film visually. It has a conventional TV movie feel to it and, despite being well played, Pitt’s nerdy all-knowing geek is a bit too formulaic. But the film holds you nevertheless. Schroeder displays a storyteller’s gift for how things should develop, And as the cock-of-the-walk arrogant yet vulnerable rich kid killer Ryan Gosling is the real McCoy. He can convey charm and menace in equal measure and often in the same moment and confirms his status as one of the best actors in movies.

REVIEW: DORIAN GRAY

CAST

Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Rachel Hurd-Wood (Solomon Kane)
Johnny Harris (Monsters: Dark Continent)
Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3)
Emilia Fox (The Pianist)
Fiona Shaw (The Black Dahlia)
Maryam d’Abo (The Living Daylights)
Caroline Goodall (the Princess Diaries)
Michael Culkin (Candyman)

When a naïve young Dorian Gray arrives in late Victorian London, by train, to inherit an estate left to him by his abusive grandfather, he is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton, who introduces Gray to the hedonistic pleasures of the city. Lord Henry’s friend, society artist Basil Hallward, paints a portrait of Gray to capture the full power of his youthful beauty. When the portrait is unveiled, Gray makes a flippant pledge: he would give anything to stay as he is in the picture—even his soul.Gray meets and falls in love with budding young actress, Sibyl Vane. After a few weeks, he proposes marriage to her. Lord Henry tells Gray that having children is “the beginning of the end”, and after the two men visit a brothel, Gray leaves Sibyl. Heartbroken, the young woman drowns herself. Gray learns of her death the following day from her brother, James (“Jim”), who also reveals that Sybil was pregnant with Gray’s child. Enraged, Jim tries to kill Gray before being restrained and carried off by the authorities. Gray’s initial grief soon disappears as Lord Henry persuades him that all events are mere experiences and without consequence. His hedonistic lifestyle worsens, distancing him from a concerned Hallward.Gray returns home one evening to find that Hallward’s portrait of him has become warped and twisted, and he soon realises that his off-hand pledge has come true; while the portrait ages, its owner’s sins manifest as physical defects on the canvas. Before long, the curse imbued within Gray’s portrait begins in earnest, resulting in Hallward’s brutal murder after the artist reveals his secret. Gray dismembers and dumps Hallward’s body in the River Thames, although the remains are soon recovered and buried.Gray then leaves London to travel for many years, inviting Lord Henry to come with him although Lord Henry declines because of his wife’s pregnancy. Gray returns to London and during the welcome back party the guests are surprised to see that he has not aged at all during his 18-year absence. He becomes close to Lord Henry’s daughter, Emily, a member of the UK suffragette movement, despite Lord Henry’s distaste for such a relationship because of Gray’s lifestyle and unnatural appearance, Emily having provided Lord Henry with a greater moral focus and having changed him for the better. Although Gray appears genuinely interested in changing his ways as he spends time with Emily, matters are complicated when he is confronted by Jim, still seeking revenge for his sister’s death. Despite Gray’s attempts to pretend to be someone else by pointing out his apparent age, Jim nevertheless deduces Gray’s true identity, only to be killed by a train while pursuing Gray in the London Underground. As Gray makes arrangements to leave London with Emily, Lord Henry’s study of old photographs makes him remember the time when he teased Gray to deal with the devil for eternal youth and beauty at the cost of his soul.Breaking into Gray’s house as Gray and Emily are making plans to leave together, Lord Henry discovers the concealed portrait, but is interrupted by Gray before he can uncover it. Although Gray attempts to convince Lord Henry that he still cherishes his friendship and genuinely loves his daughter, Lord Henry discovers the stained scarf of Basil in a box, prompting Gray to declare angrily that he is what Lord Henry has made him, the personification of the life Lord Henry preached but never dared practise. Full of anger and grief, Gray attempts to strangle Lord Henry but is distracted by Emily’s call long enough for Lord Henry to knock him aside and expose the portrait.Disgusted and horrified at the twisted sight on the canvas, Lord Henry throws a lit lamp at the portrait, causing it to catch fire, and then locks the gate of the attic to ensure that Gray and the painting are destroyed. Emily pleads with her father for the key. After seeing her and realising that he really loves her, he turns his back. As Lord Henry drags his daughter out of the house, Gray’s last words are to assure Emily that she has his whole heart. Resolving to end it all, Gray stabs the painting with a poker, causing his body to age the years that it has never suffered, Gray charging at the portrait to impale it as his years catch up to him before the attic is consumed by an explosion.dorian-gray-pics-hd-ben-barnes-8952311-1200-8003A few months later, scarred from the explosion and after a futile attempt to reconcile with Emily over the phone, Lord Henry heads to his attic where he keeps the now-youthful portrait of Gray, grimly noting that nobody will look at it now. As Lord Henry leaves, the portrait’s eyes glow, suggesting that Gray’s soul may still be within the portrait even after his death.The story has seen many adaptations down the years, and i’m certain will see many more in the times to come, however, in my opinion this is far and away the best to date. This is an excellent film, it would be a crime in my view to miss it.

REVIEW: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Peter Vaughn (Game of Thrones)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
John Haycraft (Chancer)
Lena Headey (Dredd)

courage_reeveIn 1950s post-war Britain, Mr Stevens, the butler of Darlington Hall, receives a letter from Miss Kenton, a recently divorced former co-worker employed as the housekeeper some twenty years earlier. Lord Darlington has died a broken man, his reputation destroyed after he was exposed as a Nazi sympathizer, and his stately country manor has been sold to a retired United States Congressman, Mr Lewis. Stevens is granted permission to borrow his Daimler, and he sets off to the West Country to meet Kenton.south-park-the-end-of-serialization-as-we-know-it-645x370
The film flashes back to Kenton’s arrival as housekeeper in the 1930s. The ever efficient Stevens manages the household well, taking great pride in his profession, and his dedication is fully displayed when, while his father lies dying, he steadfastly continues his duties. Kenton also proves to be a valuable servant, and she is equally efficient and strong-willed, but also warmer and less repressed. Relations between the two eventually warm, and it becomes clear that she has feelings for him, yet despite their proximity and shared purpose, Stevens’ detachment remains unchanged. Eventually, she forms a relationship with a former co-worker and leaves the house prior to the outbreak of World War II. Before she resigns, Stevens finds her crying in frustration, but the only response he can muster is to call her attention to a neglected domestic task.
significant-others-jennifer-garner-elizabeth-mitchell-scott-bairstow-eion-bailey-michael-weatherly-dvdbash-wordpress03Meanwhile, the hall is regularly frequented by politicians of the interwar period, and many of Lord Darlington’s guests are like-minded British and European aristocrats, with the exception of Congressman Lewis. Darlington later also meets Prime Minister Chamberlain and the German Ambassador, and uses his influence to try and broker a policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany, based on his belief that Germany had been unfairly treated by the Treaty of Versailles following World War I. In the midst of these events, one day Darlington suddenly requests that two newly appointed German-Jewish maids, both refugees, should be dismissed. Stevens carries out the command, and Kenton threatens resignation in protest, but she is too timid to do so.
intro-emma-5En route to meeting Kenton, when asked about his former employer, Stevens at first denies having served or even met him, but later admits to having served and respected him. He meets Kenton (now Mrs Benn), and they reminisce, but she declines Stevens’ offer to return to Darlington Hall, wishing instead to remain near her pregnant daughter. After the meeting, Kenton is emotional, while Stevens is still unable to demonstrate any feeling. Back in Darlington Hall, Lewis asks Stevens if he remembers much of the old days, to which Stevens replies that he was too busy serving. Symbolically, a pigeon then becomes trapped in the hall, and the two men eventually free it, leaving both Stevens and Darlington Hall far behind.
family-guy-christmas-santa-choke-peter-s15e09-how-the-griffin-stole-christmas-simpsons-son-of-zornAn all-round first-rate cinematic experience, Remains of the Day is one of those pictures that lingers in the mind long after the credits pass. A must see.

 

REVIEW: BIRTHDAY GIRL

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Stoker)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Vincent Cassell (Black Swan)
Mathieu Kassovitz (War & Peace)
Ben Miller (Johnny English)

John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin), a lonely St Albans bank clerk, orders a mail-order bride Nadia (Nicole Kidman) from Russia on the Internet. John is uncomfortable and shy, but Nadia is sexually bold. Though Nadia cannot speak English and John cannot speak Russian, they soon bond. Later on, a man she introduces as her cousin Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his friend Alexei (Vincent Cassel) turn up to celebrate her birthday. Alexei soon shows that he has a temper. After a violent altercation, Alexei holds Nadia hostage and demands a ransom from John. John has grown to care for Nadia and is forced to steal from the bank where he has worked for ten years. After the ransom is paid, he realises that he has been the victim of an elaborate con. Nadia, Yuri, and Alexei are criminals, and Alexei is actually Nadia’s boyfriend.

John learns that the trio have carried out the same scam on men from Switzerland and Germany, among others. They take him prisoner, strip him down to his underpants, and tie him to a toilet in a motel. He eventually manages to free himself and quickly learns that Nadia has been left behind after Alexei discovered she was pregnant. John gets dressed and subsequently gets into a scrap with Nadia, who later reveals that she can indeed speak English and that her name is not Nadia.

John takes Nadia to turn her into the police – hoping to clear his name as a wanted bank robber. Ultimately, however, he sympathises with her and decides against it. He leaves her at the airport, where she is kidnapped by Alexei – who now wants Nadia to have the baby. John rescues her, tying Alexei to a chair. They make common cause against the two Russian men. Nadia informs John that her real name is Sophia. John, disguised as Alexei, leaves for Russia with Sophia.

The movie is grungy, dark and feels independent – it’s hard to imagine Hollywood royalty Nicole Kidman signing onto it, but she is really the reason this film remains interesting and engaging. Without her, I don’t think I would have bothered to sit through all of it.

REVIEW: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

CAST

Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Casper Crump (Legends of Tomorrow)
Hadley Fraser (Les Miserables)
Genevieve O’Reilly (Avatar)
Simon Russell Beale (Spooks)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)

As a result of the Berlin Conference, the Congo Basin is claimed by King Leopold II of the Belgians, who rules the Congo Free State in personal union with the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, Leopold having borrowed huge amounts of money to finance the construction of railways and other infrastructure projects. In response, he sends his envoy Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to secure the fabled diamonds of Opar. Rom’s expedition is ambushed and massacred, with only Rom surviving. A tribal leader, Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), offers him the diamonds in exchange for an old enemy: Tarzan.The man once called “Tarzan”, John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), has long since left Africa behind and settled down in London with his American-born wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie), and has taken up both his birth name and ancestral family residence. In the eight years since returning from Africa, Lord Greystoke’s story as Tarzan has become legendary among the Victorian public, although Lord Greystoke himself wishes to leave the past behind him. Through the British Prime Minister (Jim Broadbent), he is invited by King Leopold to visit Boma and report on the development of the Congo by Belgium, though Greystoke politely declines the invitation. An American envoy, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who recognises John from the stories of “Tarzan”, privately reveals to him that he suspects the Belgians are enslaving the Congolese population, and persuades him to accept the invitation in order to prove his suspicions.Jane is disappointed when John tells her that she cannot come, as he believes the trip to be too dangerous, remembering how both his parents died as a result of the jungle’s brutality following their shipwreck there – his mother of disease and his father later killed by the Mangani apes – leaving the baby John to be raised as Tarzan by his Mangani “mother” Kala and “brother” Akut. However, Jane reminds him that she grew up in Africa as well, and misses her home. John relents, and allows Jane to accompany him.John, Jane and Williams take the trip to the Congo. There, the trio encounters a tribal village and villagers who knew John and Jane during their stay in the jungle. Jane explains to Williams that her husband was once considered an evil spirit by the African tribes, including that of Chief Mbonga. She recalls how, when she was younger, she and her father lived in the tribal village helping to care for local children. There she met Tarzan (made feral and physically enhanced by his life with the apes) who shielded her from a vicious mangani attack, saving Jane’s life but being severely injured in the process. Jane took the injured Tarzan home, nursed him back to health, and the two fell in love. That night, as the tribe sleeps, Rom and his mercenaries attack the village and kidnap John and Jane and kill the tribe’s leader. They then escape to a nearby steamboat with Jane and several of the tribe’s members, but Williams is able to rescue John before he can be taken to the boat.With the aid of the tribe’s warriors, John and Williams intercept a Belgian military train carrying captured slaves, providing Williams with the evidence he needs to expose King Leopold. They also discover that Rom intends to use the diamonds to pay for a massive army to subdue the Congo, and allow Belgium to mine its wealth for Leopold’s benefit. As John and Williams continue onward, John encounters the adult Akut, who is now leader of the apes. Aware that Akut considers him a deserter, John prepares to fight Akut, though he soon loses. That night, as John recovers, Williams recalls the massacres of Native Americans during the Civil War, comparing his actions to be as bad as Rom’s and Leopold’s.On Rom’s steamboat, Jane dines with Rom, before escaping and swimming to shore. Jane stumbles into a group of mangani apes, where she is rescued by Rom, whose men then shoot and kill many of the apes. John saves the remaining group, reconciling with Akut, before pursuing Rom. He is cornered by Mbonga and his tribe, where it is revealed that John once killed Mbonga’s only son for previously killing Kala. A defeated Mbonga tearfully accuses John of lacking honor, as his son was just a young boy when John killed him. John spares Mbonga, just as Akut and the manganis arrive to subdue the tribe. Rom takes Jane and the diamonds to Boma, where he plans to take control of the army. John, Williams and Akut trigger a massive stampede of wildebeest through Boma, destroying the town and distracting the soldiers, allowing John to rescue Jane. As Rom attempts to escape by boat, Williams sinks it with a machine gun as John swims aboard. Rom incapacitates John by strangling him and then tying him by the neck to the ship’s railing, before trying to escape again. John then summons crocodiles with a mating call to devour him, before escaping the destroyed vessel himself.Williams returns to England and presents the Prime Minister with evidence exposing the slave trade in the African Congo. One year later, John and Jane, having remained in Africa and settled in Jane’s father’s old house, welcome their first child, as John, Lord Greystoke, returns to his rightful place among the great apes as Tarzan.They finally portrayed the Tarzan character more like Burroughs wrote him! This is the best Tarzan movie I have ever seen. The acting is superb, and the settings are beautiful. The movie was so good that it seemed like I wanted it to last longer. It was sheer entertainment!

REVIEW: LOST SOULS

CAST

Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Sarah Wynter (The 6th Day)
Philip Baker Hall (Bruce Almighty)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Elias Koteas (Gattaca)
Brian Reddy (Dante’s Peak)
John Diehl (Stargate)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Alfred Woodard (Luke Cage)

This is a subtle religious horror flick that I have to assume people rejected because of the lack of scares and gore. However, the performances, direction and cinematography are all top notch. Though Lost Souls was marketed to look like a demonic scare-fest, I would compare this film to the likes of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In fact, I would not be surprised if the makers of that film borrowed quite heavily from this one, both in style and effects.

The premise is relatively simple: A small religious sect believe the coming of the anti-Christ to be near, sitting dormant in a human body.

The biggest praise that I can bestow upon this film is that over 12 years later, this film still looks like it could have been made yesterday. In fact, it looks uncannily more modern than a large majority of recent horror efforts. Lost Souls simply does not age.

Another popular factor in why this movie is so poorly rated and received is the fact that audiences just did not like the ending. I feel sorry for those that do not. The ending is original, and though it did not satisfy blood thirsty Hollywood horror fans, it is very much appropriate for this film. To put it simply without spoiling anything: faith is the central core to Lost Souls, those with it and those without. That is what this ending plays off of, and I think it’s perfect. Please do not let any of these negative reviews divert you from seeing this film.

This is not End of Days or Stigmata. Lost Souls is not camp in the slightest. It is a dark, beautifully shot and well acted film that is significantly ahead of it’s time