REVIEW: KIDDING – SEASON 2

Jim Carrey in Kidding (2018)

Starring

Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Cole Allen (May I Be At Peace)
Juliet Morris
Catherine Keener (Get Out)
Justin Kirk (Molly’s Game)

Jim Carrey in Kidding (2018)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Bernard White (Silicon Valley)
Matt Gourley (Time Belt)
Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins)
Nicole Marie Appleby (Killer Therapy)
Tara Lipinski (7th Heaven)
Joel Swetow (THe Orville)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Carrie Ann Inaba (Austin Powers in Goldmember)
Marie Osmond (Rooster)
Sharon Osbourne (Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties)
Eve (XXX)
Sheryl Underwood (The Bold and The Beautiful)
Mae Whitman (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Ariana Grande (Sam & Cat)
Lesley Stahl (Eagle Eye)
Stacy Keach (THe BOurne LEgacy)
Arnold Chun (Rampage)
Sala Baker (Braven)
Annette O’Toole (Smallville)
Matthew Hancock (Electric Love)
Andy Milder (Apollo 13)
Mariana Paola Vicente (Self/Less)
Jennie Pierson (Powerless)

Jim Carrey in Kidding (2018)Season 1 of Showtime’s Jim Carrey–led dark comedy Kidding was one of the best and most underrated television shows of 2018. The story of a children’s TV host (not Mr. Rogers, but Rogers-adjacent) whose inability to express negative emotion after a lifetime of repression is as relevant as ever in 2020, when the question of what to do with bad feelings generates unyielding discourse on mental health, trauma, and masculinity.Jim Carrey and Juliet Morris in Kidding (2018)Season 2 picks up after Jeff’s bottled rage exploded in a worst-case scenario for his character and sprints towards a remarkable exploration of what it means to acknowledge pain. It might seem hyperbolic to describe Kidding as TV’s most brilliant comedy, but the evidence is abundant in every single episode of Season 2. The writing is close to perfect, with laugh-out-loud one liners and gut-punch realizations that unravel the characters and always serve the core message of the show. None of Kidding’s dialogue comes off as a throwaway line or unimportant aside (even in the episodes featuring a talking baguette), which makes each 30-minute chapter of Jeff’s story feel dense and satisfying in a way many individual dramedy episodes lack.Jim Carrey in Kidding (2018)Season 2 picks up after Jeff’s bottled rage exploded in a worst case scenario for his character and sprints towards a remarkable exploration of what it means to acknowledge pain.  That dialogue is brought to life by Kidding’s incredible cast, with Frank Langella and Catherine Keener performing particularly well as Jeff’s father Seb and sister Deirdre. Kidding’s blended tone of magical realism and hard truth is difficult to nail and those two show up wielding sledgehammers. Keener’s exasperated reactions to the chaos surrounding her, and the position of authority she assumes to manage it, make for some of the funniest scenes of the season. As for Langella, he pulls double duty in playing Seb and also voicing the younger version of his character. Also, young actor Juliet Morris deserves an Emmy in every category for her performance as Deirdre’s potentially evil, axe-wielding daughter Maddy. Everything that comes out of that kid’s mouth toes the line between abjectly horrifying and wildly inappropriate. Her world-weary deadpan delivery is one of Kidding’s secret weapons.Jim Carrey and Judy Greer in Kidding (2018)And then there’s Jim Carrey. The Mashable review of Season 1 pointed out the similarities between Carrey and his character, two megastars whose inner life is overshadowed by the emotionally blunted comedic characters that made them famous. Kidding isn’t afraid to utilize Carrey’s recognizable comedic strengths — funny voices, rubbery expressions, and supernatural powers of rapid enunciation — to fuel the meta-comparison, and proves in Season 2 that no one could play Jeff and elicit the same depths of emotion and understanding from his audience. No one could play Jeff and elicit the same depths of emotion and understanding from his audience. Carrey can make a goofy face look devastating and make devastation look goofy. He deserves another Golden Globe nomination for Kidding, if not an Emmy this time. Preferably with a win.Ariana Grande in Kidding (2018)One of Kidding’s episodes this season will serve as the bar every other TV show must meet or surpass to become the best 30-minute comedy episode of the year. It’s only February, but the technical sophistication and emotional arc of episode 2, “Up, Down, and Everything in Between,” is just that good. In it, transitional camera work moves Jeff from the real world to the world of his television show in a bafflingly beautiful single take that gives off an illusion similar to seeing the Land of Oz in color for the first time. The rest of the episode follows him on a musical adventure that has Jeff singing, dancing, getting roasted by puppets, and finally confronting the root of his emotional repression in a finale that may or may not have made a Mashable reviewer cry three times while rewatching and once when she glanced at a completely unrelated vacation advertisement that made her think about it on the subway.Jim Carrey in Kidding (2018) Kidding is a smart show that knows its tone and feels entirely sure of what it’s doing at all times. It’s superlative television. .

REVIEW: 8MM

 

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly)
Peter Stormare (2001 Maniacs)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Myra Carter (The Nanny)
Catherine Keener (Out of Sight)
Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead)
Amy Morton (Up In The Air)
Torsten Voges (Funny People)
Luis Saguar (Flawless)
Chris Bauer (True Blood)

Bob Clendenin (Birds of Prey)
Suzy Nakamura (Horrible Bosses 2)

Private investigator Tom Welles is contacted by Daniel Longdale, attorney for wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, whose husband has recently died. While clearing out her late husband’s safe, she and Mr. Longdale find an 8 mm movie which appears to depict a real murder, but Mrs. Christian wants to know for certain. After looking through missing persons files, Welles discovers the girl is Mary Ann Mathews, and visits her mother, Janet Mathews. While searching the house with her permission, he finds Mary Ann’s diary, in which she says she went to Hollywood to become a film star. He asks Mrs. Mathews if she wants to know the truth, even if it is the worst. She says that she wants to know what happened to her daughter.In Hollywood, with the help of an adult video store employee called Max California, Welles delves into the underworld of illegal pornography. Contact with a sleazy talent scout named Eddie Poole leads them to director Dino Velvet, whose violent pornographic films star a masked man known as “Machine.” To gain more evidence, Welles pretends to be a client interested in commissioning a hardcore bondage film to be directed by Velvet and starring Machine. Velvet agrees and arranges a meeting in New York City.At the meeting, attorney Longdale appears and explains that Christian had contracted him to procure a snuff film. Longdale says that he told Velvet that Welles might come looking for them. Realizing that the snuff film was authentic, Welles knows he is at risk. Velvet and Machine produce a bound and beaten California, whom they abducted to force Welles to bring them the only surviving copy of the illegal film. Once he delivers it, they burn it and kill California. As they are about to kill Welles, he tells them that Christian had paid $1,000,000 for the film. Velvet, Poole, and Machine received much less and that Longdale kept the major portion. In an ensuing fight, Velvet and Longdale are both killed; Welles wounds Machine and escapes.1_RP4FlJI3nlAIh3PAPYWZtgHe calls Mrs. Christian to tell her his discoveries and recommends going to the police, to which she agrees. Arriving at her estate, Welles is told that Mrs. Christian committed suicide after hearing the news. She left envelopes for the Mathews family and Welles: it contains the rest of his payment and a note reading, “Try to forget us.” Welles decides to seek justice for the murdered girl by killing the remaining people involved. Tracking down Poole, Welles takes him to the shooting location and tries to kill him. He calls Mrs. Mathews to tell her about her daughter and asks for her permission to punish those responsible. With that, he returns and pistol-whips Poole to death, burning his body and pornography from his car. Welles traces Machine and attacks him at home. Welles unmasks him, revealing a bald, bespectacled man named George. He says, “What did you expect? A monster?” George goes on telling Welles that he has no ulterior motive for his sadistic actions; he does them simply because he enjoys it. They struggle, and Welles kills him.O8wSinxAfter returning to his family, Welles receives a letter from Mrs. Mathews, thanking him and suggesting he and she were the only ones to care about Mary Ann.8mm58mm is in no way for the faint of heart, there are some extremely disturbing images. Nicholas Cage did a great job, but Joaquin really takes the show here. He made his character incredibly believable and almost sympathetic. I would recommend this film for a watch, it’s a great thriller.

REVIEW: GET OUT

CAST

Daniel Kaluuya (Black Panther)
Allison Williams (A Series of Unfortante Events)
Catherine Keener (The 40-Year Old Virgin)
Bradley Whitford (The Cabin In The Woods)
Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Lakeith Stanfield (The Purge: Anarchy)
Lil Rel Howery (Tag)
Erika Alexander (La Mission)
Marcus Henderson (Honeydrippe)
Betty Gabriel (Westworld)
Richard Herd (V)
Keegan-Michael Key (Why Him?
Jordan Peele (The Twilight Zone)

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017)Black photographer Chris Washington reluctantly agrees to meet the family of his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage. During their drive to the family’s countryside estate, they hit a deer and report the incident. The white policeman asks for Chris’ identification even though he was not driving, but Rose intervenes and the incident goes unrecorded. At the house, Rose’s parents, neurosurgeon Dean and hypnotherapist Missy, and her brother Jeremy make discomfiting comments about black people. Chris witnesses strange behavior from the estate’s black workers, housekeeper Georgina and groundskeeper Walter.Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford in Get Out (2017)Unable to sleep, Chris goes outside to smoke and sees Walter sprinting through the grounds while Georgina prowls the house. Missy talks Chris into a hypnotherapy session, ostensibly to cure his smoking addiction. In a trance, he recounts the death of his mother in a hit-and-run when he was a child, about which he feels guilty, and sinks into a void Missy calls the “sunken place”. He awakens believing he had a nightmare but realizes cigarettes now revolt him. Walter confirms that Chris was in Missy’s office. Georgina unplugs his phone, draining his battery, though she claims it was an accident. Dozens of wealthy white people arrive for the Armitages’ annual get-together. They take an interest in Chris, admiring his physique or expressing admiration for black figures such as Tiger Woods. Jim Hudson, a blind art dealer, takes particular interest in Chris’s photography skills. Chris meets another black man, Logan King, who acts strangely and is married to a much older white woman.Geraldine Singer and Lakeith Stanfield in Get Out (2017)Chris calls his friend, a black TSA agent named Rod Williams, about the hypnosis and the strange behavior at the house. Chris tries to inconspicuously photograph Logan with his phone to send to Rod, but his flash goes off; Logan becomes hysterical, yelling at Chris to “get out”. The others restrain him and Dean claims Logan had an epileptic seizure. Away from the house, Chris persuades Rose that they should leave, while Dean holds an auction with a photo of Chris, which Jim Hudson wins. Chris sends the photo of Logan to Rod; Rod recognizes Logan as Andre Hayworth, who has been missing for months. Suspecting a conspiracy, Rod goes to the police, but they deride him.Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Daniel Kaluuya, and Allison Williams in Get Out (2017)While he packs to leave, Chris finds photos of Rose in prior relationships with black men, contradicting her claim that Chris is her first black boyfriend; the collection also includes pictures of Rose with Walter and Georgina. Chris is blocked from leaving the estate by the Armitage family, including Rose. He tries to attack Jeremy, but Missy hypnotizes him into unconsciousness. He awakens strapped to a chair in the basement. A video presentation featuring Rose’s grandfather Roman explains that the family transplants the brains of white people into black bodies; the consciousness of the host remains in the “sunken place”, watching what is happening but powerless to change anything. Hudson tells Chris he wants his body so he can gain Chris’s sight and artistic talents.Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017)Chris plugs his ears with cotton stuffing pulled from the chair, blocking the hypnosis. When Jeremy comes to collect him for the surgery, Chris bludgeons him with a croquet ball and impales Dean on the antlers of a deer mount. After fatally stabbing Missy and beating Jeremy to death, he drives away in Jeremy’s car, but hits Georgina. Remembering his own mother’s death, he carries Georgina into the car, but she is possessed by Rose’s grandmother Marianne; she attacks him and he crashes, killing her. An armed Rose apprehends him with Walter, who is possessed by Roman. Chris awakens Walter with his phone flash. Walter takes Rose’s rifle and shoots her and then himself. Wounded, Rose attempts to shoot Chris; Chris begins to strangle her but stops. Rod arrives in a TSA car and rescues Chris, leaving Rose to bleed to death in the road as Chris and Rod leave. Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017)Get Out doesn’t replace the scares with humour – Peele is too smart to do that. Instead, he balances the fear with laughs and then laces everything with social comment and that unsettling tone. The fact that Chris is so eminently likable just underlines it. It all adds up to something of a treat – for everybody, not just horror fans.

REVIEW: KIDDING – SEASON 1

Kidding (2018)

MAIN CAST

Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Catherine Keener (The Incredibles 2)
Cole Allen (Round of Your Life)
Juliet Morris

Jim Carrey in Kidding (2018)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Justin Kirk (Molly’s Game)
Bernard White (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Ginger Gonzaga (Ted)
Riki Lindhome (The Lego Batman Movie)
Tara Lipinski (Ice Angel)
Jennie Pierson (Powerless)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (Predators)
Alex Raul Barrios (V/H/S Viral)
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (That’s So Raven)
Joel Swetow (The Orville)

Jim Carrey and Riki Lindhome in Kidding (2018)In the world of sad clowns, there are the ones who hide how much they’re crying on the inside, because they want to give the people what they want. And then there are the ones who let their inner darkness out as early and often as possible.Jim Carrey, Danny Trejo, and Conan O'Brien in Kidding (2018)Jim Carrey belongs to the latter group. He rose to TV fame playing comic grotesques like burn victim Fire Marshal Bill and steroid abuser Vera de Miloon on In Living Color, then became a movie sensation with the 1994 trifecta of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. But every chance he’s had, he’s gone for dramatic work, apparently adopting the “one for them, one for me” career philosophy, not always to stellar effect. His first extracurricular job during the sketch comedy days was a weepy family TV-movie called Doing Time on Maple Drive, in which he played an alcoholic. At the time, the notion of him playing serious seemed so far-fetched that I first mistook an ad for it to be an In Living Color parody trailer that was taking too long to get to the punch line.Jim Carrey in Kidding (2018)Soon, that creative whiplash would be an accepted part of the deal. Carrey followed the Ace Ventura sequel with the strange anticomedy The Cable Guy. He followed Liar Liar with both The Truman Show (a melancholy takedown of reality TV) and Man on the Moon (an Andy Kaufman biopic for which he became so immersed in the role of performance artist, a documentary was made about the craziness of it all). Some of these dramatic leaps worked (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind remains one of the best films of this century), while others didn’t (The Majestic, anyone?). But it was clear Carrey’s heart lay more with them than with the sillier projects that paid the bills, and that he had the chops to do great things with the right role. Last year, he returned to TV in a way as a producer on Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, a story about ’70s stand-up comedians that, true to Carrey’s taste, is almost wholly dramatic in depicting how miserable the business makes everyone.So the fact that his first regular TV role in close to 25 years is an utterly tragic one shouldn’t be a surprise. Nor should the fact that he’s superb in Showtime’s Kidding (it debuts September 9; I’ve seen four episodes) as a beloved PBS children’s show host struggling to cope with the death of a son. It feels like no accident that Carrey’s returning to the spotlight as a character who just wants to be sad, if only his adoring public would let him. It’s the part he was born to play.Created by Weeds alum Dave Holstein, with the first two episodes directed by Eternal Sunshine‘s Michel Gondry, Kidding casts Carrey as Jeff Pickles, who is basically Mister Rogers, only a generation younger and with longer hair. For 30 years, he has delighted and comforted children (and children at heart) with the help of his puppet pals and songs featuring lyrics like, “It’s you who’s doing the feeling, and that makes it OK, and if you don’t know who you are yet, you can feel it anyway.”But if Jeff provides solace and wisdom to his audience, he has no one to return the favor after the death of his son Phil (played, as is a surviving twin brother Will, by Cole Allen), which ended his marriage to Jill (Judy Greer). (Yes, Mr. Pickles is the kind of guy who gives his kids names that rhyme with their mother’s.) He wants to use his show to both work through his feelings and prepare kids for tough concepts like death; his producer Seb (Frank Langella) doesn’t want him to do anything to disrupt the merchandising empire Jeff has inadvertently created. “Kids know the sky is blue,” Jeff argues. “They need to know what to do when it’s falling.”Carrey is wonderful, making Jeff feel like a fully-realized person, Carrey’s worth the price of admission, though, it’s funny at time and others dramatic. With a second season already commissioned, it looks like Jeff will be sticking around for a while.

REVIEW: PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF

CAST

Logan Lerman (Fury)
Brandon T. Jackson (Fast & Furious)
Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw)
Jake Abel (I Am Number Four)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Kevin McKidd (Dog Soldiers)
Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder)
Melina Kanakaredes (CSI: NY)
Rosario Dawson (The Denfendors)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Stefanie von Pfetten (Decoys)
Ona Grauer (V)
Serinda Swan (Smallville)
Conrad Coates (Tron Legacy)
Ray Winstone (Elfie HOpkins)
Uma Thurman (Kill BIll)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Pierce Brosnan (The World’s End)
Julian Richings (Cube)
Catherine Keener (8mm)
Annie Ilonzeh (Arrow)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100)
Natassia Malthe (Elektra)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Maria Olsen (Paranormal Activity 3)
Andrea Brooks (Supergirl)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
Valerie Tian (Izombie)
G. Patrick Currie (Stargate SG.1)
Hector David Jr. (Power Rangers Samurai)
Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Brendon Zub (Batwoman)

In New York City, Zeus and Poseidon meet at the top of the Empire State Building, where Zeus reveals that his master lightning bolt has been stolen and accuses Poseidon’s demigod son, Percy Jackson, of the theft. Poseidon reminds him that Percy is unaware of his true identity, but Zeus declares that unless his master bolt is returned to Mount Olympus before the summer solstice, in two weeks’ time, war will be waged between all the gods.Percy is a 16-year-old boy who appears to his peers to be dyslexic and has a unique ability to stay underwater for a long time. While on a school trip to the local museum, Percy is attacked by Alecto, a Fury disguised as his substitute teacher, Mrs. Dodds who demands the lightning bolt. Percy’s best friend, Grover Underwood, and his Latin teacher, Mr. Brunner — both of whom appear disabled — help Percy and scare off the fury using a pen from Brunner. Grover tells Percy to use the pen, and Percy discovers it is a sword. Upon learning of the Fury’s reason for the attack, Brunner has Grover take Percy and his mother Sally to Camp Half-Blood, leaving behind Sally’s abusive husband, Gabe Ugliano. However, the three are attacked by a minotaur that appears to kill Sally, who is unable to enter the camp. He uses his sword to fight the Minotaur, without initial success. Percy kills the minotaur with its own horn, then faints from shock.Three days later, Percy wakes up in the camp. He learns he is the son of Poseidon, Grover is a satyr and his protector, and Brunner is the centaur Chiron, also initially disguised. Chiron suggests that Percy go to Mount Olympus to convince Zeus of his innocence. Percy begins training to use his demigod powers, which include water manipulation and using water to heal. He also meets other demigods, including Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena; and Luke Castellan, son of Hermes. Percy is visited by a fiery apparition of his uncle Hades, who reveals that Sally is with him in the Underworld and that he will return her safely if Percy hands over the lightning bolt. Defying Chiron’s orders, Percy decides to go to the Underworld, joined by Grover and Annabeth. They visit Luke, who gives them a map showing the location of three pearls belonging to Hades’ wife, Persephone, which they can use to escape the Underworld. They are also given a pair of winged sneakers Luke stole from his father and a shield Luke describes as his favourite.The trio heads out, locating the first pearl at an old garden center before they suddenly encounter Medusa, who tries to kill them until decapitated by Percy; they take her head with them for later use. They locate the second pearl in the Parthenon in Nashville; Percy uses the winged shoes to take it from a statue of Athena. However, they are then confronted by the Hydra, which Grover turns to stone and kills using Medusa’s head. The third pearl is located at the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas, where the three eat lotus flowers and forget their reason for being there. They stay in the casino for five days until Poseidon speaks in Percy’s mind, helping Percy return to his senses. Percy frees Grover and Annabeth from the effects of the flowers and they flee, discovering that the casino is run by the Lotus-Eaters, and they had been keeping people captive since ancient times. With all three pearls, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth head into the Underworld, the portal to which is located in Hollywood.In the Underworld, they meet Hades and Persephone. Though Percy tells Hades that he does not have the lightning bolt, Hades finds it hidden inside Luke’s shield, revealing that Luke is the lightning thief. Persephone knocks Hades unconscious with the lightning bolt to get her revenge on him for imprisoning her for all eternity and hands the bolt to Percy. However, because they only have three pearls, Grover remains with Persephone to allow Percy’s mother to leave. Percy, Annabeth, and Sally teleport to the Empire State Building but are attacked by Luke, who wants to destroy Mount Olympus to secure the demigods’ place as the new rulers of Western Civilization. After a fight across Manhattan, Percy defeats and apparently kills Luke and returns the lightning bolt to Zeus, who forgives Percy and allows Poseidon to briefly speak with his son. The film ends with Percy and Annabeth reuniting with Grover, furloughed from Hades and sporting a new pair of small horns that designate his promotion to senior protector. Percy and Annabeth are reunited, and they nearly kiss but Annabeth tricks Percy and they continue to train. In the post credits-scene, Ugliano is kicked out of the apartment. He decides to get a beer but finds a note from Percy saying that he should not open the refrigerator. He breaks the lock anyway and is turned to stone and killed by Medusa’s head inside, though this occurs off-screen as the movie fades to black.A fun movie,  I  enjoyed the plot, action, fabulous cast and special effects, looking forward to watching the second one.

 

REVIEW: S1M0NE

CAST

Al Pacino (Scarface)
Catherine Keener (Captain Phillips)
Rachel Roberts (In Time)
Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Jay Mohr (Cherry Falls)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)
Jim Rash (Community)
Jeffrey Pierce (Bosch)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Jason Schwartzman (Saving Mr. Banks)
Hal Ozsan (Jessica Jones)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
Rebecca Romijn (Satanic Panic)

When Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder), the star of out-of-favor director Viktor Taransky’s (Al Pacino) new film, refuses to finish it, Taransky is forced to find a replacement. Contractual requirements totally prevent using her image in the film, so he must re-shoot. Instead, Viktor experiments with a new computer program he inherits from late acquaintance Hank Aleno (Elias Koteas) which allows creation of a computer-generated woman which he can easily animate to play the film’s central character. Viktor names his virtual actor “Simone”, a name derived from the computer program’s title, Simulation One. Seamlessly incorporated into the film, Simone (Rachel Roberts) gives a fantastic performance, exactly controlled by Viktor. The film is immediately a huge success. The studio, and soon the world, ask “who is Simone?”Viktor initially claims that Simone is a recluse and requests her privacy be respected, but that only intensifies media demands for her to appear. Viktor intends to reveal the secret of her non-existence after the second picture. To satisfy demand, he executes a number of progressively ambitious stunts relying on misdirection and cinematic special effects technology. Eventually it escalates to simulated remote location video live interviews.In one instance, two determined tabloid reporters discover Viktor used out-of-date stock photography as a background during an interview instead of being on that site as claimed and blackmail him into getting Simone to make a live appearance. He arranges her to perform a song at a stadium event appearing in a cloud of smoke and then using flawless holographic technology. The perception of being in person is reinforced with realtime visualization on the stadium’s monitors. Simone becomes even more famous, simultaneously becoming a double winner for the Academy Award for Best Actress, tying with herself in the process.Once the pressure of serving his creation reaches a breaking point for Viktor, he decides to ruin Simone’s career as an act of vengeance. Simone’s next film, I Am Pig, is her directorial debut and a tasteless treatment about zoophilia intended to disgust audiences, which not only fails to achieve the desired effect of audience alienation, but also serves to foster her credibility as a risk-taking, fearless and avant-garde artist. Taransky’s subsequent attempts to discredit Simone by having her drink, smoke and curse at public appearances and use politically incorrect statements similarly backfire, when the press instead begins to see her as refreshingly honest. As a last resort, Taransky decides to dispose of Simone completely by using a computer virus to erase her and dumps the hard drive and floppy disks into a steamer trunk and buries it at sea, then announces to the press she has died of a rare virus contracted on her Goodwill Tour of the Third World. During the funeral, the police interrupt, open the coffin, and find only Simone’s cardboard cutout. He is arrested and shown a security camera video where he loads a large trunk on his yacht.After being charged with her murder, he admits that Simone is not a person, but a computer program. The chest containing the computer data is brought up empty. Viktor’s daughter Lainey and ex-wife Elaine enter his studio to try to help. They find Viktor’s forgotten virus source disk (Plague) and apply an anti-virus program to eradicate the computer virus. They revive Simone and have her appear on national television laughing while holding up a newspaper headline with her obituary. They pick up a confused Viktor who realizes that his connection with Simone is a life sentence. At the end, Simone and Viktor are remotely interviewed at home about their new (virtual) baby. Simone is concerned about her child’s future and decides to enter politics. The film shows how the fake is produced using the chroma key technique. A post-credits sequence shows Viktor creating fake footage of Simone in a supermarket, which one of her pursuers sees, believing it real.

S1m0ne is a highly entertaining satire about obsession with celebrity movie stars, and although not in the same league as Robert Altman’s magnificent The Player still holds its own as an enjoyable gentle farce.

 

REVIEW: BEING JOHN MALKOVICH

CAST

John Malkovich (Red)
John Cusack (2012)
Cameron Diaz (The Green Hornet)
Catherine Keener (The 40 Year Old Virgin)
Orson Bean (Miracle on 34th Street)
Mary Kay Place (The Big Chill)
Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Carlos Jacott (Angel)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Sean Penn (Gangster Squad)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Brad Pitt (FIght Club)
Mariah O’Brien (Halloween 6)
Pamela Hayden (The Simpsons)
Neil Ross (Transformers: The Movie)

Craig Schwartz (Cusack) is an unemployed puppeteer in a forlorn marriage with his pet-obsessed wife Lotte (Diaz). Gaining a file clerk job through Dr. Lester (Bean) at LesterCorp, in the strange Floor 7½ low-ceiling offices of the Mertin-Flemmer Building in New York City, he develops an attraction to his coworker Maxine Lund (Keener), who does not return his affections. Craig enters a small door hidden behind a filing cabinet and finds himself in the mind of actor John Malkovich. Craig is able to observe and sense whatever Malkovich does for fifteen minutes before he is ejected and dropped into a ditch near the New Jersey Turnpike. He reveals the portal to Maxine and they let others use it for $200 a turn.Craig tells Lotte, who becomes obsessed with the experience, allowing her to live out her transgender desires. Lotte becomes attracted to Maxine and they begin a sexual relationship via Lotte being inside Malkovich’s head while Maxine has sex with Malkovich. Craig, forsaken by both women, binds and gags Lotte and locks her in a cage, then enters Malkovich’s mind and has sex with Maxine. Craig discovers that he is able to control Malkovich’s actions while in his head, causing the actor to become paranoid. After consulting with his friend Charlie Sheen, Malkovich trails Maxine to the Mertin-Flemmer building, where he tries the portal and is placed in a world where everyone looks like him and can only say “Malkovich”. He is ejected and meets Craig by the turnpike. Malkovich demands that the portal be closed, but Craig refuses.Lotte escapes with the help of the animals in the cage and phones Maxine, revealing that Craig was having sex with her. Maxine is annoyed but accepts it as she enjoyed the experience. Seeking help, Lotte finds Lester, who reveals himself to be Captain Mertin, the creator of LesterCorp. He is aware of the portal and has a room dedicated to Malkovich. Lester explains that the person connected to it becomes “ripe” for occupation on the eve of their 44th birthday. However, after the old host turns 44, the portal moves to its next host, an unborn child. The former allows one to increase their life before moving on to another host while the latter means being trapped within the unborn child. Lester, who has been using the portal to prolong his life, reveals his plan to use Malkovich for himself and several of his friends. Offered the chance to join Lester’s group, Lotte warns him that Craig has control.Craig finds he is able to remain in Malkovich indefinitely. He spends the next eight months in Malkovich’s body, and through his control turns Malkovich into a world-famous puppeteer. Malkovich marries Maxine and learns that she is pregnant as their relationship grows distant. As Malkovich’s 44th birthday approaches, Lester and his friends cut a deal with Maxine and fake her kidnapping. They call up Craig threatening to kill her if Craig does not leave Malkovich. Craig ends the call, causing Lester to think that he called their bluff. Lotte loses hope and attempts to kill Maxine, but they end up at the turnpike after falling through the portal and Malkovich’s shame-ridden subconscious. Maxine reveals that she conceived when Lotte was inside Malkovich’s body and kept the child because it is theirs. The revelation cements their love for each other. Craig calls back Lester thinking Maxine is still in danger. Realizing his opportunity, Lester continues his bluff, convincing Craig to leave Malkovich’s body. Lester and his friends enter the portal, taking control of Malkovich. Craig, discovering that Lotte and Maxine are together again, decides to enter the portal to become Malkovich and regain Maxine. Years later, an aging Malkovich, under the collective mind of Lester and his friends, reveals to Sheen a plan to prolong their lives through Maxine’s daughter Emily, within whom Craig is now permanently trapped after entering the portal, powerless as he watches Maxine and Lotte living happily through Emily’s eyes.

One of the most unique, imaginative movies ever made.

REVIEW: THE INTERPRETER

 

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Australia)
Sean Penn (Gangster Squad)
Catherine Keener (Out of Sight)
Jesper Christensen (Casino Royale)
Yvan Attal (Munich)
George Harris (Black Hawk Down)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Originals)
David Zayas (Gotham)
Michael Wright (Black Lightning)
Clyde Kusatsu (Paradise Road)
Eric Keenleyside (Godzilla)
Sydney Pollack (Changing Lanes)

Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) is an interpreter working at the United Nations in New York City. She was raised in the Republic of Matobo, a fictional African country, but has dual citizenship. The U.N. is considering indicting Edmond Zuwanie (Earl Cameron), Matobo’s president, to stand trial in the International Criminal Court. Initially a liberator, over the past 20 years he has become as corrupt and tyrannical as the government he overthrew, and is now responsible for ethnic cleansing and other atrocities within Matobo. Zuwanie is soon to visit the U.N. and put forward his own case to the General Assembly, in an attempt to avoid the indictment.

A security scare forces the evacuation of the U.N. building, and, as Silvia returns at night to reclaim some personal belongings, she overhears 2 men discussing an assassination plot in Ku (an East-Africa dialect she understands). Silvia runs scared from the building when those discussing the plot become aware of her presence. The next day, Silvia recognizes words in a meeting where she is interpreting from phrases she overheard the night before, and reports the incident to U.N. security; the plot’s target appears to be Zuwanie himself. They, in turn, call in the U.S. Secret Service, who assign Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) and Dot Woods (Catherine Keener) to investigate, as well as protect Zuwanie when he arrives. Keller, whose estranged wife was accidentally killed just days earlier, learns that Silvia has, in the past, been involved in a Matoban guerrilla group, that her parents and sister were killed by land mines laid by Zuwanie’s men, and that she has dated one of Zuwanie’s political opponents. Although Keller is suspicious of Silvia’s story, the two grow close — in part because of their shared grief — and Keller ends up protecting her from attacks on her person. Silvia later finds that her brother Simon and her lover Xola were killed (as shown in the opening scene).

The purported assassin is discovered (and shot to death) while Zuwanie is in the middle of his address to the General Assembly, and security personnel rush Zuwanie to a safe room for his protection. Silvia, anticipating this, has been hiding in the safe room, and confronts Zuwanie and intends to kill him herself. Keller determines that the assassination plot is a false flag operation created by Zuwanie to gain credibility that his rivals are terrorists and to deter potential supporters of his removal. Keller rushes to the safe room and arrives just in time to prevent Silvia from murdering Zuwanie. Zuwanie is indicted, and Silvia is expelled from the U.S., returning home to Matobo soon afterwards.

All in all I found it an entertaining political thriller.

REVIEW: OUT OF SIGHT

CAST

George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Jennifer Lopez (Jersey Girl)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2)
Catherine Keener (Captain Phillips)
Dennis Farina (Saving Private Ryan)
Steve Zahn (Roadkill)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights)
Isaiah Washington (Ghost Ship)
James Black (Kick-Ass 2)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
Nancy Allen (Robocop)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Connie Sawyer (Dumb and Dumber)

A career bank robber, Jack Foley, and a U.S. Marshal, Karen Sisco, are forced to share a car trunk during Foley’s escape from a Florida prison. After he completes his getaway, Foley is chased by Sisco while he and his friends—right-hand man Buddy and unreliable associate Glenn—work their way north to Bloomfield Hills, a wealthy northern suburb of Detroit. There they plan to pay a visit to shady businessman Ripley, who foolishly bragged to them in prison years before about a cache of uncut diamonds hidden in his home.
A vicious criminal named Maurice Miller, who also spent time in jail with Jack and Ripley, is planning on hitting up Ripley’s mansion with his own crew, including Kenneth and White Boy Bob. A romantic interlude between Foley and Sisco takes place in a Detroit hotel, but the question of whether she is really pursuing Foley to arrest him or for love ends in a showdown during the robbery at Ripley’s home and adds to “the fun” Foley claims they are having.Out of Sight is one of those rare films that can boast of having class in every department. The direction, script, cinematography, design and costumes display such an acute and almost natural flair for bringing Elmore Leonard to the screen that it should be made illegal to film any of his novels without these people. But the acting is in a world of its own. Farina, Keaton, Rhames, Cheadle and Zahn all bring depth, comedy and intelligence to their roles

REVIEW: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

CAST

Max Records (The Sitter)
Catherine Keener (The 40 Year Old Virgin)
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers Assemble)
James Gandolfini (8MM)
Paul Dano (Looper)
Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice)
Nick Farnell (Ned kelly)
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
Chris Cooper ( The Bourne Identity)

The film begins with Max, a lonely nine-year-old boy[6] with an active imagination whose parents are divorced, wearing a wolf costume and chasing his dog. His older sister, Claire, does nothing when her friends crush Max’s snow fort (with him inside) during a snowball fight. Out of frustration, Max messes up her bedroom and destroys a frame that he had made for her. At school, Max’s teacher teaches him and his classmates about the eventual death of the sun. Later on, his mother, Connie, invites her boyfriend Adrian to dinner. Max becomes upset with his mother for not coming to the fort he made in his room. He wears his wolf costume, acts like an animal, and demands to be fed. When his mother gets upset, he throws a tantrum and bites her on the shoulder. She yells at him and he runs away, scared by what has transpired. At the edge of a pond Max finds a small boat that he boards.MV5BMTIwMzE2MjM4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjA1OTY3._V1_The pond soon becomes an ocean. Max, still in his wolf suit, eventually reaches an island. There, he stumbles upon a group of seven large, monstrous creatures. One of them, Carol, is in the middle of a destructive tantrum (caused by the departure of a female Wild Thing named K.W.) while the others attempt to stop him. As Carol wreaks havoc Max tries to join in on the mayhem, but soon finds himself facing the suspicious anger of the Wild Things. When they contemplate eating him, Max convinces them that he is a king with magical powers capable of bringing harmony to the group. They crown him as their new king. Shortly after, K.W. returns and Max declares a wild rumpus, in which the Wild Things smash trees and tackle each other.
The Wild Things introduce themselves as Carol, Ira, Judith, Alexander, Douglas, the Bull, and K.W. Soon, they all end up piling on one another before going to sleep, with Max at the center. Carol takes Max on a tour of the island, showing him a model he built depicting what he wishes the island looked like. Inspired by this, Max orders the construction of an enormous fort, with Carol in charge of construction. When K.W. brings her two owl friends Bob and Terry to the fort, a disagreement ensues, as Carol feels they are outsiders (Max had said earlier that if any outsiders entered the fort, they would “have their brains automatically cut out”). To release their frustrations, Max divides the tribe into “good guys” and “bad guys” for a dirt clod fight, but Alexander is hurt during the game. After an argument between K.W. and Carol, K.W. leaves once again.

Max finds Alexander alone in the fort and has a conversation with him. Alexander reveals that he always suspected that Max is not a king with magical powers, but warns him to never let Carol know. Soon enough, at pre-dawn, Carol throws another tantrum — this time, about the fort, K.W.’s absence, and the eventual death of the sun (which Max had talked to Carol about earlier in the film). When Carol gets angry with Max for not doing a good job as a king, Douglas tries to explain to him that he’s “just a boy, pretending to be a wolf, pretending to be a king”, thus exposing the truth to the rest of the Wild Things. Carol becomes enraged and ends up ripping off Douglas’ right arm (though only sand pours out of the wound). Then he chases Max into the forest and attempts to eat him. Max is saved by K.W., who hides him in her stomach. Max listens as Carol and K.W. have an argument over Carol’s misbehavior. After Carol leaves, K.W. explains that their lives are difficult, with Carol’s tantrums only making it worse. Max realizes what his mother is going through, and decides to leave the island and head home.

Max finds the crushed remains of Carol’s model island (presumably destroyed by Carol himself in a rage) and leaves a token of affection for him to find (a letter C inside a love-heart made of twigs). He finds Carol and tells him he is going home because he is not a king. The other Wild Things escort Max to his boat. Carol runs to join them after finding Max’s token and arrives in time to see him off. He starts to howl and Max howls back, then all the other Wild Things join in. Carol looks at K.W. and she smiles kindly at him. Returning home, Max is embraced by his distraught mother, who gives him a bowl of hot soup, a piece of cake and a glass of milk and sits with him as he eats. He watches as she falls asleep.
It’s such a beautifully realized film. From its vivid and in-the-moment use of hand-held cinematography , to the songs from Karen O. that are always supportive of the scenes , to the complex relationships between all of the characters. Its welcoming, refreshing and kind of staggering to see someone who knows the way children think, and how we don’t have to be a mixed-up little boy to identify and see ourselves in Max. Where the Wild Things Are works is a spectacle and comedy, it works for children and adults.