25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: PADDINGTON 2

 

CAST

Ben Whishaw (Skyfall)
Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey)
Sally Hawkins (Godzilla)
Madeleine Harris (The White Queen)
Hugh Grant (About A Boy)
Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Ben Miller (Johnny English)
Jessica Hynes (Burke and Hare)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)
Eileen Atkins (Wild Target)
Richard Ayoade (The Watch)

Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington, having settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, has become popular in his community, offering people emotional support in various ways. To purchase a unique pop-up book of London in Samuel Gruber’s antique shop for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington performs several odd jobs and saves his wages, but the book is stolen. Paddington gives chase, but the culprit escapes, and Paddington is framed and arrested. Although Mr Gruber and the Browns do not believe that Paddington stole the book, with no evidence that the thief existed, Paddington is wrongfully convicted and jailed. The thief soon returns home, and is revealed to be Phoenix Buchanan, an egotistical actor who lives opposite the Browns.Paddington 2 (2017)Whilst in prison, Paddington befriends many of the inmates, including the short-tempered chef Nuckles, who hires Paddington, impressed by his marmalade sandwich recipe. The Browns work to clear Paddington’s name, putting up sketches of the thief. Buchanan begins using the pop-up book to locate a series of clues within London’s famous landmarks, which he believes will unveil the location of a secret treasure. During their efforts to prove Paddington’s innocence, the Browns encounter a fortune teller who informs them that the stolen book leads to the hidden fortune of the original author.Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin in Paddington 2 (2017)With Paddington inside, the prison is a much livelier place, but Paddington struggles to remain positive when the Browns are unable to prove his innocence. Becoming convinced that Buchanan is the culprit, the Browns look for the stolen book inside his house. They find a secret attic where Buchanan’s various costumes are stashed, as well as the book itself. Before they can act further, Buchanan returns home and suspects something is wrong. Meanwhile, the Browns have missed a prison visit with Paddington, causing Paddington to believe that the Browns have forgotten all about him.Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington soon takes part in a prison break alongside several other inmates, including Nuckles, who promises to aid in proving his innocence but promptly abandons the idea in order to leave the country as a free man, inviting Paddington to come with him. Paddington refuses and, whilst roaming the streets and avoiding the police, uses a public telephone to contact the Browns, who assert that Buchanan is the real culprit. To catch him, they arrange to meet at Paddington Station, where a train carrying the supposed location of the hidden fortune is due to leave shortly.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington reaches the station and makes it onto the train just as it leaves – the Browns begin their pursuit in another steam train at the opposite platform. When caught up, Henry Brown and Mrs. Bird board the other train and confront Buchanan, who overwhelms them and makes good his initial escape. Paddington is left stranded in the train’s rear carriage which Buchanan severs the coupling for, leaving it to crash into a nearby river. Mary Brown tries to rescue Paddington but struggles to open the locked carriage; she is soon assisted by Nuckles and the other inmates, who have a change of heart and decide to help Paddington as promised. Eventually, Henry knocks out Buchanan just as he tries to access the so called treasure, and he is promptly taken into custody.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington, now declared innocent, becomes very ill after the events, slipping into a short three day coma yet recovering well once waking up on Aunt Lucy’s birthday. With the book taken in as evidence by the police, Paddington is left disappointed that he was unable to get Lucy a present as promised, though soon discovers the Browns, with the help of various other people in the neighborhood, made sure Lucy could come to London and see it for herself. When answering the door to her, Paddington rushes up and hugs her, wishing her a happy birthday. Meanwhile, Buchanan is sentenced to ten years in prison. Six months later, he is shown to be putting his history as a performer to further use, hosting shows for the inmates and providing entertainment throughout the building.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Thoroughly recommended to anybody who wants to see 100 minutes of family friendly fun that isn’t either sickly sweet or too dark for youngsters and still thoroughly watchable to adults too. Great fun and a worthy sequel to one of the best British films in recent years.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: MOTHER!

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Brian Gleeson (Assassin’s Creed)
Kristen Wiig (Girl Most Likely)
Stephen McHattie (300)

Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)In a house recently burned by fire, Him, an acclaimed poet struggling with severe writer’s block, places a crystal object on a pedestal. The house then suddenly morphs to look newly renovated. In bed, Mother wakes up, wondering aloud where Him is. She starts seeing things around the house that unsettle her, including visualizing a beating heart within the walls.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)One day, Man turns up at the house, asking for a room. Him readily agrees, and Mother reluctantly follows suit. During his stay, Man is seen with an open wound in his side. The next day, Man’s wife, Woman, also arrives to stay. Mother is increasingly frustrated with her guests, while Him begs her to let them stay, telling Mother that the guests are fans of his work and that the male guest is dying, and wanted to meet Him. However, when Man and Woman accidentally break and shatter the crystallized object, Mother decides to kick them out.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)The couple’s two sons arrive and start to fight over the will left by their father. The Oldest Son, who is willed nothing, mortally injures his Younger Brother and apparently flees, while Him, Man, and Woman take the injured son to get help. Mother is left alone in the house, where she discovers the furnace’s oil tank hidden behind the basement walls. Upon returning, Him informs Mother that the son has died. Dozens of people begin arriving at the house following the death of the son. More people arrive, and behave in a way that bothers Mother; she becomes angrier and eventually snaps when they flood the house. She kicks everyone out. Angry with Him for allowing into the house so many people for his pleasure and ignoring her, she berates him before the two engage in sex.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)The next morning, Mother announces that she is pregnant. The news leaves Him elated and inspires him to finish his work. A few months later, Mother prepares for the arrival of their child and reads Him’s beautiful new poem. Upon publication, the edition immediately sells out. In celebration, Mother prepares dinner. Meanwhile, a group of fans arrives at the house. As she barricades herself, more fans arrive and begin to enter the house to use the bathroom. Their behavior devolves into disrupting the environment and stealing their belongings as keepsakes. An increasingly disoriented Mother makes her way around the house as each room devolves into chaos. Him’s publisher, the Herald, takes part in the madness. Military men with guns arrive to help Mother, but a cult of devoted fans forms around Him; they start to engage in rituals.Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)Mother goes into labor and finds her husband. Him takes her to his study, where she gives birth. The havoc outside subsides as he tells Mother that the massive crowd wants to see the baby. Refusing, she holds on tight to her son. When she falls asleep, however, he takes the baby outside to the crowd. The crowd proceeds to pass the baby around recklessly, breaking his neck. Devastated, Mother makes her way to the front of the crowd where she sees the hacked corpse of her baby and witnesses the crowd eating his flesh. Furious, she begins stabbing at them with a shard of glass. They turn on her, beginning to strip and beat her until Him intervenes and stops it. Calling Him and the crowd murderers, Mother escapes their hold and makes her way to the cellar and the furnace oil tank. Her husband pleads but Mother alights the oil, destroying the crowd, the house, and the surrounding garden and trees.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)Both Mother and Him survive. However, Mother suffers horrific burns while Him remains unscathed. He asks her for the love she has left for him, and she allows Him to take it. He tears open her chest, and removes her heart. As his hands open the heart, a new crystal object is revealed. He places the object on a pedestal. Once again, the house changes from a burnt-out shell to being renovated. In a bed, a new Mother forms and wakes up, wondering aloud where Him is.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)I find the film to be amazing in scope, like Cloud Atlas or A’s The Fountain. Like I said earlier, if you don’t appreciate films like these, or even Black Swan don’t bother. It’s simply not your brand. I feel the film is an amazing encapsulation of our existence performed in very unique fashion. The message here is strong. I prefer the avant-garde probably because I’ve seen so many films. I need to view films that present something new, and this one certainly does. For me, it is a masterpiece. Aren’t artists allowed to target their audience? They all can’t have happy endings.

 

 

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: 28 DAYS LATER

CAST

Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Naomie Harris (Rampage)
Brendan Gleeson as Frank
Christopher Eccleston (The Others)
Megan Burns (Liam)
Noah Huntley (Your Highness)
Stuart McQuarrie (Blood)
Ricci Harnett (Vendetta)
Leo Bill (Alice In Wonderland)
Luke Mably (The Prince and Me)

Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later... (2002)In Cambridge, three animal liberation activists break into a medical research laboratory. A scientist in the lab desperately warns them against releasing the captive chimpanzees, which are infected with a highly contagious rage-inducing virus. Ignoring his pleas, the activists release a chimp, which infects a female activist. She then attacks and infects everyone else present.28-days-later-dying-infected.png28 days later, in London, Jim—a bicycle courier—awakens alone from a coma in St Thomas’ Hospital. He wanders the streets of London, finding the city deserted with signs of catastrophe everywhere. Jim eventually encounters some infected humans and is pursued, but survivors Selena and Mark rescue him. At their shelter, the two explain to Jim that while he was in a coma, a virus had spread quickly among the populace, resulting in societal collapse. They claim the virus had been reported in Paris and New York City as well, suggesting the infection has spread worldwide.83_5The next day, Selena and Mark accompany Jim to his parents’ house in Deptford, where he discovers they had committed suicide. That night, the three fend off a pair of infected; Mark is bitten, and Selena kills him. She explains to Jim that the virus spreads through blood and saliva and overwhelms its victims in 10 to 20 seconds. After leaving the house, the two see some blinking Christmas lights from Balfron Tower. There, they discover two more survivors: cab driver Frank and his daughter Hannah, who allow them to take shelter. The next day, Frank informs them that their supplies (particularly water) are dwindling; he plays them a pre-recorded radio broadcast from a military blockade near Manchester, claiming to have “the answer to infection” and promising protection to any survivors that can reach them.iron-fist-season-2-marvel-netflix-e1534442088624The group board Frank’s cab and head to Manchester, bonding with one another during the trip. At the deserted blockade, Frank is infected when a drop of blood falls into his eye. He is killed by arriving soldiers, who take the remaining survivors to a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West. West reveals to Jim that his “answer to infection” entails waiting for the infected to starve to death and luring female survivors into sexual slavery to repopulate the world. The group attempts to flee, but Jim is captured and chained next to Sergeant Farrell, a dissenting soldier. Farrell shares with Jim his speculation that the virus has not spread beyond Great Britain and that the country is being quarantined.wiw-28-days-later-selena-lighterThe next day, the soldiers prepare the girls for gang rape, while two others lead Jim and Farrell to execution. While his executioners argue after killing Farrell, Jim escapes. Jim lures West and another soldier to the blockade, where Jim kills the latter and leaves West stranded for arriving infected. He runs back to the mansion and releases Mailer, an infected soldier West kept for observation. Mailer infects another soldier and they wreak murderous havoc throughout the mansion. In the confusion, Corporal Mitchell drags Selena upstairs, where Jim ambushes and kills him. The two reunite with Hannah and run to Frank’s cab; Jim is then shot by West, who has been waiting inside. Mailer grabs West through the rear window of the cab and kills him, and the trio finally leave the mansion. Another 28 days later, Jim is recovering at a remote cottage. Downstairs, he finds Selena sewing large swaths of fabric when Hannah appears. The three rush outside and unfurl a huge cloth banner, adding the final letter to the word “HELLO” laid out on the meadow. A lone fighter jet flies over the three survivors, the infected are shown dying of starvation, and the pilot calls in a rescue helicopter.landscape-1456933779-movies-28-days-later-still-0128 Days Later has been one of my favorite movies of all time since I first saw the opening scene! The characters are very imaginative and the film has the perfect balance between gore and terror. The music by John Murphy brings the film alive and the camera angles are perfect. It has truly brought the zombie horror back from the dead. The infected and the virus are believable and scary because you never know what those scientists are up to these days… The only downside was the fact that it was only Britain infected (a soldier says that England was quarantined). It would have been a lot scarier if the world was infected because there would be nowhere to run. But overall, Danny Boyle has brought an original idea and made it better and more interesting, and yes, it is scary as hell.

REVIEW: THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!

CAST

Hugh Grant (Two Weeks Notice)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Lenny Henry (Postman Pat: The Movie)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Russell Tovey (Quantico)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Ben Whitehead (Wallace & Gromit)
David Schneider (A Knights Tale)

In 1837, the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), inexpert in the ways of pirates, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whoever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, they come across the Beagle and capture its passenger Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin recognises the crew’s pet Polly as the last living dodo, and recommends they enter it in the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Society of London for a valuable prize. Secretly, Darwin plans on stealing Polly himself with the help of his trained chimpanzee, Mr. Bobo, as to impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) whom he has a crush on; the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) becomes suspicious of Darwin’s motive after one failed attempt to steal Polly.The pirates disguise themselves as scientists to enter the competition, and the dodo display wins the top prize, which turns out to be minuscule trinkets and a meeting with the Queen. The Pirate Captain hides Polly before the meeting. There, the Queen requests that the Pirate Captain donate Polly for her petting zoo. The Pirate Captain refuses and accidentally reveals his true self, but Darwin steps in to spare the Captain’s life, secretly telling the Queen that only the Captain knows where Polly is kept. The Queen lets the Pirate Captain go and orders Darwin to find Polly by any means necessary. Darwin takes the Pirate Captain to a tavern and coaxes out of him that Polly is stashed in his beard. Darwin and Mr. Bobo are able to steal the bird, leading on a chase into the Tower of London where the Queen is waiting. She dismisses Darwin, and instead offers the Pirate Captain a large sum of money in exchange for Polly, which for the Pirate Captain would be enough to assure his win as Pirate of the Year. He accepts the offer and returns to his crew, assuring them Polly is still safe in his beard, though the Pirate with a Scarf is suspicious of his newfound wealth.At the Pirate of the Year ceremony, the Pirate Captain wins the grand prize from the Pirate King (Brian Blessed), but rival pirate Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) makes the Queen’s pardon known to all and explains that if the Pirate Captain has been pardoned, then technically, he is no longer a pirate and, as such, can’t be Pirate of the Year. The Captain is stripped of the prize, treasure, pirate attire, and his pirating license and is banished from Blood Island by the Pirate King, and admits his loss of Polly to his crew who abandon him. The Captain returns to London, intent on rescuing Polly. He reunites with Darwin, learning that the Queen is a member of an exclusive dining society of world leaders that feast on endangered creatures, and that Polly is likely on her flagship, the QV1 to be served at the next meal. The Pirate Captain and Darwin work together to steal an airship to travel to the QV1. Mr. Bobo, meanwhile, goes to find the rest of the Captain’s crew to enlist their help.Aboard the QV1, the Queen locates the Pirate Captain and Darwin and attempts to kill both of them, but together they best her. In the battle, they accidentally mix the ship’s store of baking soda with vinegar, causing a violent reaction that rends the ship in two. The Pirate Captain rescues Polly and they escape safely, leaving behind a furious Queen. With his reputation among pirates restored because of the large bounty now on his head, the Pirate Captain is reinstated as a Pirate, and he and his crew continue to explore the high seas in search of adventure.In a few post-credits scenes, they leave Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, Mr. Bobo joins the Pirate Captain’s crew, the Queen is left at the mercy of some of the rare animals she had planned on eating, Black Bellamy is forcefully stripped of his trophy by the Pirate King because of the Pirate Captain’s new infamy, and the crew present the Pirate Captain with their own homemade Pirate of the Year trophy.The cast itself was one of the film’s main attractions and the voice work is first rate. Hugh Grant shows impeccable comic timing, and Salma Hayak voices Cutlass Liz with lots of sass. Jeremy Piven shows that he can do wonderfully with a character that is strongly-written and provides a good contrast to Grant’s Pirate Captain. Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed give rousing turns, David Tennant’s Charles Darwin charms and Imelda Staunton voices Queen Victoria as if she were born to do it. A wonderful family film that anybody could enjoy

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Ralph Fiennes (In Burges)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Frances de la Tour (Into The Woods)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Robert Pattinson (Twilight)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Ian Whyte (Game of Thrones)

Harry Potter dreams of Frank Bryce, who is killed after overhearing Lord Voldemort discussing plans with Peter Pettigrew and another man. Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys, but after the game, Death Eaters terrorise the spectators, and the man who appeared in Harry’s dream summons the Dark Mark.

At Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore introduces ex-Auror Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He also announces that the school will host the legendary event known as Triwizard Tournament where three magical schools are going to compete against each other in a very deadly competition by facing three dangerous challenges. The champions are selected by the Goblet of Fire: Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff is chosen to represent Hogwarts, Viktor Krum will represent Durmstrang Institute, and Fleur Delacour will represent Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. The Goblet unexpectedly chooses a fourth champion: Harry Potter. Dumbfounded, Dumbledore is unable to pull the underage Harry out of the tournament, as the Ministry official Barty Crouch Sr. insists that the champions are bound by a contract, and therefore, Harry is invited to compete. This makes Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley jealous of him.

For the tournament’s first task, the champions must each retrieve a golden egg guarded by a dragon. Harry succeeds after he summons his broomstick to retrieve the egg, which contains information about the second challenge. Shortly after, another event known as the Yule Ball dance takes place, during which Harry’s crush Cho Chang attends with Cedric, and Hermione Granger attends with Viktor, which makes Ron jealous of Viktor. During the second task, the champions are instructed to dive underwater to rescue their mates. Harry comes out in 3rd place but is placed second behind Cedric due to his “moral fiber”. Afterwards, Barty Crouch Sr. is found dead by Harry. Harry visits Dumbledore at his office, and while waiting for him, he discovers a Pensieve, which holds Dumbledore’s memories. Inside it, Harry witnesses a trial in which Igor Karkaroff (Durmstrang Institute’s Headmaster) confessed to the Ministry of Magic names of other Death Eaters, after Voldemort’s defeat. He named Severus Snape as one, but Dumbledore defended him; he then named Barty Crouch Jr. Barty Crouch Sr. was left devastated, and his son was taken to Azkaban. After exiting the Pensieve, Harry deduces that the man he has seen in his dreams with Voldemort is Barty Crouch Jr.

In the third and final task, the competitors are placed inside a hedge maze and must reach the Triwizard Cup. Viktor, under the influence of the Imperius Curse, incapacitates Fleur. After Harry saves Cedric when the maze attacks him, the two claim a draw and grab the cup together, which turns out to be a Portkey and transports the two to a graveyard, where Pettigrew and Voldemort are waiting. Pettigrew kills Cedric with the Killing Curse and performs a ritual using a bone of Voldemort’s father, Pettigrew’s flesh and Harry’s blood, which rejuvenates Voldemort, who then summons the Death Eaters. Voldemort releases Harry in order to beat him in a duel to prove he is the better wizard. Harry is unable to defend himself, but tries the Expelliarmus charm at the same moment Voldemort attempts the Killing Curse. Their wands do not work against each other, and Voldemort’s wand is forced to disgorge the last spells it performed. This results in shadow impressions of the people he murdered appearing in the graveyard, including Harry’s parents and Cedric. This provides an ample distraction to Voldemort and his Death Eaters, allowing Harry to escape with Cedric’s body by grabbing the Portkey.

Upon his return, Harry tells Dumbledore that Voldemort has returned and is responsible for Cedric’s death. Moody takes a devastated Harry back to his room to interrogate him about Lord Voldemort, where he inadvertently blows his cover when he asks Harry whether there were “others” in the graveyard, despite Harry never saying that he was transported there. Exposed, Moody reveals that he was the one who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, and that he had been guiding and manipulating Harry throughout the tournament to ensure that he would win, so Voldemort would take Harry’s blood to return. Moody then tries to kill Harry, only for Harry to be saved by Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall. The teachers force Moody to drink Veritaserum, a truth telling potion where it is revealed that he isn’t Moody, and that the real Moody is imprisoned in a magical trunk. The false Moody’s Polyjuice Potion wears off and he is revealed as Barty Crouch Jr., working for Voldemort. Crouch Jr. is sent back to Azkaban, from which he had escaped.

In the morning, Dumbledore reveals to the students that Voldemort killed Cedric, although the Ministry of Magic is against this. Later, Dumbledore visits Harry in his dormitory, and apologizes to him for the dangers he had to go through. Harry reveals that he saw his parents in the graveyard; Dumbledore names this effect as “Priori Incantatem”. Dumbledore acknowledges that even though Harry’s parents appeared through Voldemort’s wand, no spell can awaken the dead. Dumbledore reminds Harry that he is not alone. Soon after, Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons bid farewell to each other.For fans of the books, you should find this adaptation a commendable reflection of Rowling’s tale. Naturally, some parts had to be modified or cut entirely – there’s no way to avoid that without making it a 10 hour movie – but the parts that were cut were either not critical to the story line, or will be easy to account for in the films to come. Unless you’re an obsessive nitpicker about every last detail, you should find this a satisfactory film version of Goblet of Fire.

REVIEW: COLD MOUNTAIN

 

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Bewitched)
Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jude Law (Spy)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job)
Ray Winstone (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
James Gammon (The Iron Giant)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Jena Malone (Sucker Punch)
Lucas Black (Fast & Furious 7)
Taryn Manning (The Breed)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising)
Philip Seymour (The Ides of March
Philip Seymour (The Ides of March)
James Rebhorn (Big Lake)

 

MV5BZjZlMzRlOGQtMzViMS00NDk4LWFmOWUtZDRiZWZjYWE3Y2ZhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTYxNzc0NjU@._V1_When North Carolina secedes from the Union on May 20, 1861, the young men of a rural, provincial, North Carolina backwater known only as Cold Mountain hurry to enlist in the Confederate military. Among them is W.P. Inman (Jude Law), a carpenter who has fallen in love with Ada (Nicole Kidman), a minister´s daughter, and finds their whirlwind courtship interrupted by the American Civil War.

Cold Mountain 550Three years later, Inman finds himself in the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, during the Battle of the Crater. Union soldiers tunneling beneath Confederate fortifications detonate over 300 kegs of gunpowder, in a futile attempt to undermine the position prior to their assault. As the ill-fated attack begins, Oakley (Lucas Black) an old acquaintance of Inman’s from Cold Mountain, is impaled on a bayonet and mortally wounded. Inman rescues him from the fighting and takes him to a field hospital. Later that day Oakley dies in the hospital, with Inman and Stobrod Thewes (Brendan Gleeson) beside him. The next night, Inman, along with his Cherokee friend Swimmer (Jay Tavare), are sent to flush out surviving Union troops trapped behind their lines. During the raid, a burst of friendly fire kills Swimmer and seriously injures Inman. As Inman lies in the hospital near death, he has a letter from Ada read to him in which she pleads with him to stop fighting, stop marching, and come back to her. Inman recovers, and—with the war drawing ever closer to an inevitable Confederate defeat—decides to go home to Cold Mountain.

On his journey he meets the corrupt preacher Reverend Veasey (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is about to drown his pregnant slave lover. Inman stops Veasey, and leaves him tied up to face the town’s justice. Exiled from his parish, Veasey later rejoins Inman on his journey. They help a young man named Junior (Giovanni Ribisi) butcher his cow, and join him and his family for dinner. Junior leaves the house after the feast, the women in Junior’s family seduce Veasey, and Junior’s wife, Lila, tries to seduce Inman. Junior returns home with the Confederate Home Guard, and both Inman and Veasey are arrested and led away with other deserters. During a subsequent skirmish with Union cavalry, Veasey is killed and Inman left for dead. An elderly hermit living in the woods (Eileen Atkins) finds him and nurses him back to health.
Cold Mountain
Inman later meets a grieving young widow named Sara (Natalie Portman), who is raising her infant child Ethan alone; he stays the night at her cabin. The next morning, a party of Union foragers arrive demanding food. Sara orders Inman away for his protection, but he hides only a few feet away from the house. The leader, Nym (Richard Brake), and his lieutenant harass Sara, steal her livestock, and leave Ethan in the cold, though the third soldier (Cillian Murphy) attempts to keep the baby warm. Nym tries to rape Sara but both he and the lieutenant are killed by Inman. Inman forces the kind forager to surrender and lets him go, but as the latter flees, an enraged Sara fatally shoots him. In parallel with Inman’s adventures, the film follows Ada’s wartime experiences. Ada is a city gentlewoman who only recently moved to the rural farm named Black Cove. She met Inman on her first day at Cold Mountain and had a brief, chaste romance with him the night before he left for the army. Shortly after Inman leaves, Ada’s father (Donald Sutherland) dies, leaving her alone on the farm with no money, food, or livelihood, and with little prospect for help, as the young, able-bodied men are off at war.
nicole-kidman-cold-mountain-qa-1Ada is completely inept at working the farm, having been raised as a southern lady. She manages to survive thanks to the kindness of her neighbors, one of whom eventually sends Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger) to her. Ruby is a young woman who has lived a hard-scrabble life and is very adept at the tasks needed to run the farm. Ruby lives at the farm with Ada, and together they take the farm from a state of disaster to working order. Meanwhile, Ada writes constant letters to Inman in hopes of meeting him again and renewing their romance. The two women form a close friendship and become each other’s confidantes. They also are friends with the Swangers (James Gammon and Kathy Baker), who live down the road from Ada’s farm Black Cove. It is at the Swangers’ well that Ada “sees” a vision of Inman coming back to her in the snow, surrounded by crows.
During the war, Ada and Ruby, and other members of their community, have several tense encounters with men of the Home Guard. This branch of the Home Guard is led by Captain Teague (Ray Winstone), whose grandfather once owned much of Cold Mountain. He and his deputies hunt deserters, partially with the goal of Teague’s seizing their land. Teague also lusts after Ada. Although the purpose of the Home Guard was to protect the South and its citizen population from the North, they have become violent vigilantes who hunt and often kill deserters from the Confederate Army, and terrorize citizens who they believe are housing or helping the deserters. This includes the Swangers’ sons, who, by torturing their mother, they coax out of hiding and kill. Esco Swanger—the family patriarch—is also killed protecting his sons.

Ruby’s estranged father Stobrod, a Confederate deserter and a violin player, arrives, reconciles with her, and convinces her to make a coat for his intellectually challenged banjo player Pangle (Ethan Suplee). Ruby finds herself drawn to mandolin player Georgia (Jack White). While camping, Stobrod, Pangle, and Georgia are cornered by the Home Guardsmen led by Teague. Pangle unintentionally reveals the band as the deserters Teague is seeking. Georgia is hidden a few feet away and witnesses the shooting of Pangle and Stobrod. He escapes to Black Cove Farm and informs Ruby and Ada, who rush to the campsite to find Pangle dead and Stobrod badly injured. Ada helps Ruby remove a bullet from Strobrod’s back, and they decide to take shelter in some cabins in the woods to avoid Teague and his men.
At this point the two story lines come together. Inman, half-dead from starvation, finally reaches Cold Mountain and is almost killed by Ada before she recognizes him. They later consummate their love and spend the night together.  The Home Guardsmen, however, soon find them, having captured and tortured Georgia to learn that the women are harboring deserters. In the ensuing gunfight Inman ambushes and kills Teague and most of his band, but Teague’s violent young lieutenant Bosie (Charlie Hunnam), escapes up the mountain. Cornering him near the top, Inman urges him to surrender peacefully, but Bosie draws, forcing him to fire; both men are mortally wounded. Ada goes after Inman, and finds him just as she saw him in her vision at the well… coming back to her in the snow surrounded by crows. He dies in her arms. The film ends several years later with Ada, Ruby and their families celebrating Easter. Ruby has married Georgia, and the two have a young daughter and an infant child. It is also revealed that Ada’s night with Inman has produced a child, Grace Inman.MV5BMTQwNTE5MjE4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDc2ODAxNw@@._V1_A very intense and sometimes moving movie experience with a brutal battle sequence, and indeed many further violent incidents both at Cold Mountain itself and indeed on ‘Inman’s’ journey. The film harbours many fine performances from it’s star-studded cast-list. Well worth a re-visit or indeed a first viewing.

REVIEW: FAR AND AWAY

CAST
Tom Cruise (Collateral)
Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever)
Thomas Gibson (Son of Batman)
Robert Prosky (Gremlins 2)
Barbara Babcock (Home Alone 4)
Colm Meaney (Layer Cake)
Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes 2
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
In 1893 Ireland, Joseph Donnelly’s family home is burned down by his landlord Daniel Christie’s men led by Stephen Chase because of unpaid rent. Vowing revenge, Joseph unsuccessfully attempts to kill Daniel. Joseph meets the landlord’s daughter Shannon, who has rebelled against family tradition and made plans to claim free land in America. She offers to take Joseph with her as her “servant” so she, a single woman, can travel without scandal. Joseph agrees, convinced he can also stake a land claim.
On a ship bound for America, Shannon meets McGuire, who warns her that the free land is very far away in Oklahoma. She explains that her collection of valuable silver spoons will cover all expenses and he offers to help her find a shop to sell them to. On arriving in Boston, McGuire is shot and Shannon’s spoons fall out of his clothing and get snatched up by passersby. Joseph rescues her but not the spoons. A worker for Ward Boss Mike Kelly, a leader of the Irish immigrant community, introduces them to him. Kelly finds them lodging and jobs, but only one room, which they must share. To avoid scandal, Joseph says she’s his sister.
Joseph and Shannon become attracted to each other, but both keep up a front of indifference. One night Joseph rushes out to Boss Kelly’s club, where a bare-knuckle boxing match is underway. Joseph challenges the winner, knocks him out and soon becomes a regular at the club. Back in Ireland, the Christies’s house is burned down by angry tenants in the Irish Land War, so the Christies decide to emigrate to America, hoping also to find their daughter.
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Joseph is told Shannon is at Kelly’s club. Rushing to the club, he discovers Shannon on stage as a burlesque dancer. He tries to cover her with his jacket, demanding that she stop dancing. The Irish men surrounding the couple beg him to fight and offer him a small fortune ($200). Shannon, who previously scorned boxing, urges him to fight, since the money would get them to Oklahoma. Joseph agrees and is winning until he notices one of his backers (a member of the city council) groping Shannon on his lap. Joseph pushes through the crowd to free her, but is pushed back into the ring, where his foot accidentally “toes” the line, falsely signaling he is ready to begin fighting. But he isn’t ready and the Italian lands a sucker punch, after which he’s beaten.
In retaliation for the hundreds of dollars Joseph’s boxing loss has cost Boss Kelly and his friends, Joseph is thrown out into the street outside the club and he meets a policeman who shows him a picture of Shannon asking if he’s seen her. He then comes back to the room to find Kelly and his thugs searching their room for the money he and Shannon saved. With their valuables having been stolen by Kelly’s thugs, they’re both then thrown out into the streets. Joseph and Shannon are left homeless. Cold and famished, the pair enter a seemingly abandoned luxurious house. Joseph encourages Shannon to pretend the house is hers and he is her servant, but she begs him to pretend they are married and the house is theirs. During that tender moment, the owners of the house return and chase them away, shooting Shannon in the back. Joseph brings Shannon to the Christies, newly arrived from Ireland. He decides Shannon will be better cared for by them and leaves despite his obvious feelings for her.
Joseph finds work laying track on a railroad, seemingly abandoning his dream of owning land. Told a wagon train he sees out the door of his boxcar is heading for the Oklahoma land rush, Joseph abandons the railroad and joins the wagon train, arriving in Oklahoma Territory just in time for the Land Run of 1893.
Joseph finds Shannon, Stephen, as well as the Christies already in Oklahoma. Stephen, having seen Joseph talking to Shannon, threatens him that he will kill him if he goes near Shannon again. Joseph buys a horse for the land rush but the horse dies in a few hours and he is forced to ride an unruly horse he manages to tame. On this horse, he quickly outpaces everybody and catches up with Shannon and Stephen, having discovered that Stephen cheated by illegally inspecting the territory before the race and is headed for extremely desirable land he found.
Joseph is ready to plant his claim flag. Shannon rushes to his side and rejects Stephen when he questions her actions. Joseph professes his love for Shannon. They drive their flag into the ground and claim the land together.

This is not a bad movie from Tom Cruise’ earlier films back in the 90s. It’s not an Oscar winning performance nor is it fantastic but it is enjoyable to watch.