REVIEW: ABOUT TIME

Starring

Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Rachel McAdams (Doctor Strange)
Bill Nighy (Dad’s Army)
Tom Hollander (Byzantium)
Lindsay Duncan (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Lydia Wilson (Never Let Me Go)
Richard Cordery (Les Miserables)
Joshua McGuire (Get Santa)
Tom Hughes (Victoria)
Vanessa Kirby (Kill Command)
Will Merrick (Skins)
Lisa Eichhorn (The Confessions)
Richard Griffiths (Hugo)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)

Rachel McAdams in About Time (2013)Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is a young man from Cornwall. He grows up in a house by the sea with his father (Bill Nighy), his mother (Lindsay Duncan), his absent-minded maternal uncle (Richard Cordery), and his free-spirited sister, Katherine (Lydia Wilson), who is known to family and friends as Kit Kat. At the age of 21, Tim is told by his father that the men of his family have a special gift: the ability to travel in time. This supernatural ability is subject to one constraint: they can only travel to places and times they have been before. After his father discourages Tim from using his gift to acquire money or fame, he decides that he will use it to improve his love life.Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time (2013)The following summer, Kit Kat’s friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie) comes to the house in order to spend her holiday with Tim’s family. Tim is instantly attracted to her and at the end of her stay decides to tell her how he feels. She tells him that he should not have waited until the last day, that perhaps if he had told her earlier, something could have happened between them. Tim travels back in time and, the second time around, tells Charlotte in the middle of the holiday how he feels. In this instance, Charlotte uses the exact opposite excuse, saying that it would be better if they waited until the last day of the holiday, and then something could potentially happen between them. Heartbroken, Tim realizes that Charlotte is not interested in him and that time travel will not make it possible for him to change her mind.Rachel McAdams in About Time (2013)After the summer, Tim moves to London to pursue a career as a lawyer. He is put up by his father’s old acquaintance, Harry (Tom Hollander), a misanthropic playwright. After some months, Tim visits a Dans le Noir restaurant, where he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), a young American woman who works for a publishing house. The two flirt in the darkness of the restaurant, and afterward, Mary gives Tim her phone number. Tim returns home to find a distraught Harry. It turns out that the same night as he met Mary, the opening night of Harry’s new play had been ruined by one of the actors forgetting his lines at a crucial point. Tim goes back in time to put things right and the play is a triumph.Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time (2013)Having saved Harry’s opening night, Tim tries to call Mary, but discovers that her number is no longer in his mobile phone. By going back in time to help Harry, Tim chose a path in which the evening with Mary never happened. However, he recalls that Mary was obsessed with Kate Moss. By attending a Kate Moss exhibition in town, he is able to run into Mary again. He strikes up an acquaintance with her but discovers she now has a boyfriend. Tim finds out when and where they met, turns up early and persuades her to leave the party before she can meet her future boyfriend. Their relationship develops and Tim moves in with Mary. He encounters Charlotte again by accident, and this time she tells him that she would be interested in pursuing a romantic liaison with him. Tim turns her down, realising that he is truly in love with Mary. He proposes marriage; she accepts and is welcomed into his family. Their first child, Posy, is born. Kit Kat has not been so lucky and her unhappy relationship, failure to find a career, and drinking lead her to crash her car on the same day as Posy’s first birthday.ay_117640103Kit Kat is seriously hurt but begins to make a good recovery. Tim decides to intervene in her life and does so by preventing her from meeting her boyfriend, Jimmy (Tom Hughes). When he returns to the present, he finds Posy has never been born and that he has a son instead. His father explains that travelling back to change things before his children were born would mean those children would not be born. Thus, any events that occurred before Posy’s birth cannot be changed, and Tim must accept the consequences as a normal person would. Tim accepts he cannot change Kit Kat’s life by changing her past but he and Mary help her to change her life in the present. She settles down with an old friend of Tim’s and has a child of her own. Tim and Mary have another child, a baby boy.Film_2013_AboutTime_MovieClip_05Tim learns that his father has terminal cancer and that time travel cannot change it. His father has known for quite some time, but kept travelling back in time to effectively extend his life and spend more time with his family. He tells Tim to live each day twice in order to be truly happy: the first time, live it as normal, and the second time, live every day again almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that keep us from noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing. Tim follows this advice and also travels back into the past to visit his father whenever he misses him.About-Time-2013-Movie-WallpapersMary tells Tim she wants a third child. He is reluctant at first because he will not be able to visit his father after the baby is born but agrees. After visiting his father for the following nine months, Tim tells his father that he cannot visit any more. They travel back to when Tim was a small boy, reliving a fond memory of them playing on the beach, and afterwards have a heartfelt, tearful goodbye. Mary gives birth to another baby girl, and Tim knows he can never see his father again. After reliving each day, Tim comes to realise that it is better to live each day once, and appreciate everything as if he is living it for the second time. The film ends with Tim leaving Mary in bed and getting his three children ready for school.2211575The acting is solid, and Rachel McAdams is lovely and inspiring. The rest of the actors are amazing as well, and you want to believe that it is all real. But the story itself can be so unbelievable. Just go with it.  I enjoyed About Time immensely, and I could watch it again

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REVIEW: ANNA KARENINA (2012)


CAST

Keira Knightley (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Jude Law (Spy)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla)
Matthew Macfadyen (Enigma)
Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)
Alicia Vikander (Jason Bourne)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger)
Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything)
Michelle Dockery (Hanna)
Raphaël Personnaz (Three Words)
Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad)
Bill Skarsgård (Allegiant)
Alexander Roach (The Huntsman)

In 1874 Imperial Russia, Prince Stephan “Stiva” Oblonsky’s wife, Princess Daria “Dolly”, banishes her husband from their home due to his infidelity. Stiva’s sister, Anna Karenina, a well off and liked socialite living in St. Petersburg with her older husband, Count Alexei Karenin, and their son, Seryozha, travels to Moscow to persuade Dolly to forgive Stiva. Meanwhile, Stiva meets his old friend Konstantin Levin, a wealthy land owner and aristocrat who is looked down upon by Moscow’s elite for preferring country life to city life. Levin professes his love for Stiva’s sister-in-law, Princess Katerina “Kitty” Alexandrovna, and Stiva encourages him to propose. However, Kitty declines as she hopes to marry Count Alexei Vronsky. Later, Levin meets with his elder brother Nikolai, who has given up his inheritance and taken a prostitute named Masha as his wife. Nikolai suggests that Levin marry one of the peasants on his estate. On the train to Moscow, Anna meets Vronsky’s mother, Countess Vronskaya, and once there Anna meets Vronsky himself, and they have immediate mutual attraction. When a railway worker is killed in an accident at the station, Vronsky is seen by Anna, Stiva, and the Countess giving a large sum of money to the worker’s family. Anna convinces Dolly to take Stiva back. At a ball that night, Kitty attempts to dance with Vronsky, but he dances with Anna, attracting the attention of everyone in attendance and leaving Kitty heartbroken. Anna boards a train to St. Petersburg, but at a rest stop notices Vronsky, who declares that he must be wherever she goes. She tells him to go back to Moscow, but he refuses.
In St. Petersburg, Vronsky visits his cousin Princess Betsy Tverskaya, a friend of the Kareninas, and begins to show up at all the places Anna and Betsy visit. Vronsky flirts openly with Anna at a party, which catches Karenin’s attention. He suggests they go home, but Anna chooses to stay. Vronsky tells her of his intention to take a promotion in another city but Anna persuades him to stay and the next day they meet at a hotel and make love.
Stiva visits Levin at his country estate and informs Levin that Kitty and Vronsky are no longer to be married. Levin focuses on living an authentic country life, working in his fields with his workers and contemplating taking one of their daughters as his wife, as his brother had suggested.
Karenin hears that his wife and Vronsky are in the country estate and surprises them there, after she reveals to Vronsky that she is pregnant. Later she encounters Karenin who suggests he join them for the horse races that evening. The races begin, and Anna betrays her feelings for Vronsky as his horse falls and injures him. On their way home Anna admits to Karenin that she is Vronsky’s mistress and wishes to divorce him. Karenin refuses and instead confines her to home. Levin sees Kitty in a passing carriage and realises that he still loves her. Anna receives Vronsky at her house in St. Petersburg and as she complains about why he failed to come earlier, he tells her that his duties as an officer have delayed his visit. Karenin comes back home to find out that Vronsky was visiting Anna, as seen from the love letters found in her desk. Meanwhile, Levin and Kitty are reunited at Stiva’s house, and Karenin announces he is divorcing Anna, who begs him to forgive her, which he refuses. After dinner, Levin and Kitty announce their love to each other and decide to marry. Anna goes into premature labour. With Vronsky at her side, she berates him, saying that he could never be the man Karenin is. Karenin comes back knowing that she is going to die and forgives her. Anna survives and initially decides to stay with her husband. Princess Betsy calls on Anna to discuss what will happen with Vronsky now that he is back in Moscow. Anna suggests that Betsy better discuss it with Karenin, who believes that they will be reunited as a family. However, upon Anna’s recovery, she chooses to be with Vronsky. Karenin refuses to grant her a divorce, but releases Anna from her confinement. She and Vronsky soon leave for Italy with Anya.
Levin and Kitty return to his country estate, where the sickly Nikolai and Masha have been given a storeroom to live there. Levin tells Kitty that she doesn’t have to live under the same roof as the former prostitute, but the newly matured Kitty ignores social norms and assists Masha in nursing Nikolai.
Anna returns to St. Petersburg to see Seryozha on his birthday, but Karenin makes her leave after a short time. Anna now begins to suspect Vronsky of unfaithfulness. She attends the opera where the upper class audience regard her with disdain as someone who “has broken the rules”. Though humiliated, she retains her poise, only to break down once back at her hotel. The next day, Anna has lunch at a restaurant where the society women avoid her. Dolly, however, joins her and tells her that Kitty is in Moscow to have her first child. Dolly says that Stiva’s behavior has not changed, but she has come to accept and love him for who he is. Later, Vronsky informs Anna that he has to meet his mother to settle some accounts, but there Anna sees Princess Sorokina picking him up. Anna becomes upset, and takes the train to see if Vronsky is truly with his mother. On the way, she has hallucinations of Vronsky and Princess Sorokina making love and laughing at her. Arriving at Moscow station, Anna says to herself, “Oh God… ” and jumps under an oncoming train that kills her. The scene then flashes to Vronsky who has a shocked face as if knowing his true love has died. Levin returns home from working in the fields to find Kitty bathing their child. Stiva and his family eat with Levin and Kitty. Karenin, retired by then from serving his country, is seen in his estate, with Seryozha and young Anya playing nearby.Although I sympathise with those who may find the director Joe Wright’s approach too contrived, this film held my interest, and gives scope for a good deal of discussion.

REVIEW: MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

CAST

Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Eileen Atkins (Paddington 2)
Marcia Gay Harden (Mona Lisa smile)
Hamish Linklater (Legion)
Simon McBurney (Allied)
Jacki Weaver (The Voices)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
Catherine McCormack (28 Weeks Later)

Colin Firth, Eileen Atkins, and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)In 1928, a globally famous illusionist, Wei Ling Soo, performs in front of a crowd in Berlin with his world-class magic act. As he walks off stage the film audience sees that he is actually a British man named Stanley (Colin Firth). He berates his employees and is generally curmudgeonly towards his well-wishers. In his dressing-room, he is greeted by old friend and fellow illusionist Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney). Howard enlists Stanley to go with him to the Côte d’Azur where a rich American family, the Catledges, has apparently been taken in by a clairvoyant and mystic, Sophie (Emma Stone). In fact, the son of the family, Brice (Hamish Linklater), is smitten with Sophie, and his sister Caroline (Erica Leerhsen) and brother-in-law George (Jeremy Shamos) are concerned Brice is considering proposing marriage. Howard says that he has been unable to uncover the secrets behind her tricks and he admits that the more he watched her the more he believed she really has supernatural powers. So he would like Stanley, who has debunked charlatan mystics in the past, to help him prove she is a fraud.Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Howard and Stanley travel to the French Riviera, but Stanley is soon astonished by Sophie’s ability to go into a fugue state and apparently pull out highly personal details about him and his family. Stanley witnesses a seance in which Sophie communicates with the deceased patriarch of the American family. A candle floats up from the table and Howard grabs it to try to discern what trickery is at play, but is astounded to find no apparent subterfuge. Stanley begins spending time with Sophie. He takes her to visit his aunt and they drive a convertible along the picturesque rocky corniches.Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)When Stanley and Sophie visit his aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins), Sophie is seemingly able, after holding aunt Vanessa’s pearls, to somehow relate secret details of Vanessa’s one great love affair. This finally convinces Stanley of Sophie’s authenticity and he has an emotional epiphany, feeling that his lifelong rationalism and cynicism have been misguided. When caught in a rain storm, they end up at an observatory that Stanley had visited as a child. After the rain subsides, they open the roof up and view the stars.Colin Firth and Simon McBurney in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)At a Gatsby-esque party, Stanley and Sophie dance. As they walk together later that night, Sophie asks him if he has felt any feelings for her “as a woman”. Stanley, who has admired her talents as a mystic and is grateful to her for opening his eyes to a new worldview, is taken aback and admits that he has not thought of her that way. She leaves upset. The next day Stanley holds a press conference to tell the world that he, who spent his life debunking charlatan mystics, has finally come to find one who is the real deal. The reporters drill him with questions, but the grilling is interrupted when he receives news his aunt Vanessa has been in a car accident. Stanley rushes to the hospital, and in an emotional scene in a waiting room considers turning to prayer for solace. That is, if he now has come to believe in divination and mysticism, perhaps he should believe in God and prayer. He begins to pray for a miracle to save his aunt, but is unable to go through with it. The rationality that has been his whole life comes back and he rejects prayer, the supernatural and by extension, Sophie and her powers. He decides once more to prove she is a fraud.Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Using a trick seen earlier in his stage act, Stanley appears to leave the room but stays to overhear Sophie and Howard discuss their collusion in what has been an elaborate ruse. He discovers that Sophie was able to know so much about him and his aunt because she and Howard collaborated to fool Stanley. Sophie was indeed a charlatan tricking the rich American family and was quickly discovered by Howard. Rather than unmask her and stop the ruse, he enlisted Sophie to help him one-up his best friend and rival, Stanley.Hamish Linklater and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Stanley is initially angry at Howard and Sophie but decides to forgive them. In a conversation with his aunt Vanessa, who has recovered from her car accident, Stanley admits and fully realizes that he is in love with Sophie. He finds her and asks her not to marry Brice, but marry him instead. Sophie is taken aback and finds his haughty, awkward proposal unsuitable. She tells him she still plans to marry the wealthy Brice. Returning dejected to his aunt Vanessa’s, Stanley further admits that he fell in love with Sophie at first sight, and, saddened, is then surprised when Sophie, who had arrived before him, knocks a spirit knock. He proposes, she accepts with a spirit knock, and they kiss as the film ends.Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)Not a classic Woody Allen but a very pleasant and lightly humorous film that older audiences in particular will enjoy.

REVIEW: TWO LOVERS

CAST

Joaquin Phoenix (Her)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man)
Vinessa Shaw (Eyes Wide Shut)
Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her)
Moni Moshonov (Deadline)
Elias Koteas (Crash)

Gwyneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix in Two Lovers (2008)Leonard (Phoenix) is walking along a bridge over a creek in Brooklyn, when suddenly he jumps into the water in an attempted suicide. He changes his mind and quickly walks home to his parents’ apartment. His mother, seeing him dripping wet, tells her husband their son has tried it again and it becomes evident that Leonard has tried to kill himself before.Gwyneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix in Two Lovers (2008)His parents tell him that a potential business partner and his family are invited for dinner that night and ask him to be present. When they arrive, Leonard finds that he had been set up with the other family’s daughter, Sandra (Shaw). She inquires about his interest in photography and notices a photo of a girl above his headboard. He explains he had been engaged to the girl for several years, but the relationship was broken off when it turned out both he and his fiancée carried the gene for Tay–Sachs disease, which results in diseased children who generally don’t live beyond age 12, so they would be unable to have healthy children.Leonard meets a new neighbor, Michelle (Paltrow), and is immediately attracted to her, choosing to ignore that she has a drug usage problem. He learns that she is dating a married partner in her law firm, Ronald (Koteas). At her request, Leonard agrees to meet Ronald and Michelle for dinner at a restaurant. The couple leave him later that evening, as they have plans to attend the Metropolitan Opera. Leonard returns home upset, but to his surprise, Sandra arrives, sent over by Leonard’s parents. She is under the impression that Leonard wanted her to come by, but realizes by his surprised look that she was set up. She apologizes for the misunderstanding and says that, if he isn’t interested, a lot of other guys are. Leonard says that he likes her, and they kiss and eventually make love, and with time, his relationship with Sandra deepens.Isabella Rossellini and Joaquin Phoenix in Two Lovers (2008)Michelle calls Leonard and says she is sick. He takes her to the hospital, where she has a D&C for a miscarriage. She had not known she was pregnant and is even more upset that Ronald didn’t respond to her calls. Leonard takes her home but Ronald arrives. Leonard hides while Ronald apologizes to Michelle for not having come to her aid. Michelle coldly asks Ronald to leave. She then asks Leonard to write something on her forearm with his finger while she falls asleep. Leonard writes “I love you”.Two weeks later, Michelle meets Leonard on the roof of their building and tells him that she has broken up with Ronald and is going to San Francisco. Leonard tells her not to leave and professes his love for her. They have sex and plan to leave together the next day for San Francisco. On New Year’s Eve, Leonard buys an engagement ring for Michelle. He is then summoned by Sandra’s father and is offered a partnership in the family businesses, with the assumption that he is going to marry Sandra. Noticing the jeweler’s gift bag Leonard is holding, the father assumes it is for Sandra; Leonard lies that it is.Vinessa Shaw, Joaquin PhoenixDuring his parents’ New Year’s Eve party, Leonard ducks out to the courtyard to meet Michelle. Michelle arrives ten minutes past departure time and tells Leonard that she isn’t going to San Francisco, because Ronald, having learned Michelle is leaving him for California, decided to leave his wife and children for her. Distraught, Leonard breaks things off with her for good. Feeling desolate, Leonard heads to the beach, presumably intending to kill himself. When he drops a glove that Sandra had bought for him, he realizes that, in Sandra, he has found someone who loves him and with whom he can build a decent life. He picks up the glove and sees the boxed engagement ring lying on the sand, where he had thrown it from the boardwalk earlier. He returns to the party, where he gives Sandra the ring and embraces her in a prolonged hug.image-w1280Two Lovers has powerful moments. It’s like a good short story and it has a surprise  ending. The performances are uniformly fine. The texture is thick enough with a sense of people and places to override some implausibility in the events. Phoenix’s performance will have detractors who find Phoenix too awkward. But on the contrary this movie made me see how disarming and unique the actor is.

REVIEW: THE GREAT GATSBY

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Catch Me if You Can)
Tobey Maguiree (Spider-man)
Carey Mulligan (Shame)
Joel Edgerton (Red Sparrow)
Elizabeth Debicki (Everest)
Isla Fisher (Bachelorette)
Jason Clarke (White House Down)
Amitabh Bachchan (Sholay)
Jack Thompson (Don’t Tell)
Adelaide Clemens (X-Men Origins: wolverine)
Callan McAuliffe (I Am Number Four)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in The Great Gatsby (2013)In 1929, Nick Carraway, a World War I veteran, is receiving treatment for alcoholism at a psychiatric hospital. He talks about Jay Gatsby, the most hopeful man he had ever met. Nick’s doctor suggests that he writes his thoughts down, since writing is Nick’s passion. In the summer of 1922, Nick moves from the Midwest to New York after abandoning writing. He rents a small house in the North Shore village of West Egg, next to the mansion of Gatsby, a mysterious business magnate who often holds extravagant parties. One day, while Nick has dinner with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, he is introduced to Jordan Baker by Daisy, who hopes to make a match between them. When Nick returns home, he sees Gatsby standing on the dock, reaching towards the green light coming from the Buchanan dock.Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby (2013)Jordan tells Nick that Tom has a mistress who lives in the “valley of ashes”, an industrial dumping site between West Egg and The City. Nick and Tom visit the valley and stop at a garage owned by George Wilson and his wife, Myrtle, Tom’s mistress. Later, Nick receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. Upon arrival, Nick learns he is the only one to receive an invitation and none of the guests have ever met Gatsby. Nick encounters Jordan, and both meet Gatsby. Gatsby offers Nick a ride to town for lunch. On the way, Gatsby tells Nick he is an Oxford graduate and war hero from a wealthy Midwestern family. They go to a speakeasy, where Gatsby introduces Nick to his business partner, Meyer Wolfsheim.Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby (2013)Jordan tells Nick that Gatsby had a relationship with Daisy years ago and is still in love with her, and that Gatsby threw parties in the hopes that Daisy would attend. Gatsby asks Nick to invite Daisy to tea. After an awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy begin an affair. Gatsby is dismayed when Daisy wants to run away with him and wants her to get a divorce. He asks Nick and Jordan to accompany him to the Buchanan home, where he and Daisy plan to tell Tom that Daisy is leaving him. During the luncheon, Tom becomes suspicious of Gatsby and Daisy, but Daisy stops Gatsby from revealing anything to Tom and suggests they all go to the Plaza Hotel. Tom drives Nick and Jordan in Gatsby’s car, while Gatsby drives Daisy in Tom’s car. Tom stops for gas at George’s garage, where George tells him that he and Myrtle are moving and that he suspects Myrtle is unfaithful.Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Debicki in The Great Gatsby (2013)At the Plaza, Gatsby tells Tom of his affair with Daisy. Tom accuses Gatsby of having never attended Oxford and having made his fortune through bootlegging with mobsters. Daisy says she loves Gatsby but cannot bring herself to say she never loved Tom. Eventually, both Gatsby and Daisy leave. After fighting with George over her infidelity, Myrtle runs into the street and is fatally struck by Gatsby’s car after mistaking it for Tom’s. After learning about Myrtle’s death, Tom tells George that the car belongs to Gatsby and that he suspects Gatsby was Myrtle’s lover. Nick deduces Daisy was the driver, though Gatsby intends to take the blame. Nick overhears Daisy accepting Tom’s promise to take care of everything, but he does not tell Gatsby. Gatsby admits to Nick that he was born penniless; his real name is James Gatz, and he had asked Daisy to wait for him until he had made something of himself.Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby (2013)The next day, Gatsby hears the phone ringing and thinks it’s Daisy. Before he can answer it, he is shot and killed by George, who then commits suicide. Nick is the only person other than reporters to attend Gatsby’s funeral, as Daisy and Tom are leaving New York. The media paints Gatsby as Myrtle’s lover and killer. Disgusted with both the city and its inhabitants, Nick leaves after taking a final walk through Gatsby’s deserted mansion and reflecting on Gatsby’s ability to hope. In the sanatorium, Nick finishes typing his memoir, titling it The Great Gatsby.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby (2013)Overall, The Great Gatsby is a fantastically entertaining and enthralling film. It is horribly underrated as it is filled with awards worthy visuals, sets, costumes, direction, and performances. It is a great time at the movies for anyone that enjoys the classic novel or who haven’t even heard of it. Not only is this film dramatically satisfying, but also quite humorous and a spectacle like no other.

REVIEW: HER

CAST

Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Scarlett Johansson (Avengers Assemble)
Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Rooney Mara (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Olivia Wilde (Tron Legacy)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Luka Jones (Up All Night)
Kristen Wiig (Mother!)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Portia Doubleday (Youth In Revolt)
Brian Cox (X-Men 2)
Spike Jonze (Three Kings)

Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)In a near future Los Angeles, Theodore Twombly is a lonely, introverted, depressed man who works for a business that has professional writers compose letters for people who are unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves. Unhappy because of his impending divorce from his childhood sweetheart Catherine, Theodore purchases a talking operating system (OS) with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve. He decides that he wants the OS to have a female voice, and she names herself Samantha. Theodore is fascinated by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. They bond over their discussions about love and life, such as Theodore’s avoidance of signing his divorce papers because of his reluctance to let go of Catherine.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Samantha convinces Theodore to go on a blind date with a woman, with whom a friend, Lewman, has been trying to set him up. The date goes well, but Theodore hesitates to promise when he will see her again, so she insults him and leaves. Theodore mentions this to Samantha, and they talk about relationships. Theodore explains that, although he and Amy dated briefly in college, they are only good friends, and that Amy is married. Theodore and Samantha’s intimacy grows through a verbal sexual encounter. They develop a relationship that reflects positively in Theodore’s writing and well-being, and in Samantha’s enthusiasm to grow and learn. Amy reveals that she is divorcing her overbearing husband, Charles, after a trivial fight. She admits to Theodore that she has become close friends with a female OS that Charles left behind. Theodore confesses to Amy that he is dating his OS.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Theodore meets with Catherine at a restaurant to sign the divorce papers and he mentions Samantha. Appalled that he can be romantically attached to what she calls a “computer”, Catherine accuses Theodore of being unable to deal with real human emotions. Her accusations linger in his mind. Sensing that something is amiss, Samantha suggests using a sex surrogate, Isabella, who would simulate Samantha so that they can be physically intimate. Theodore reluctantly agrees, but is overwhelmed by the strangeness of the experience. Terminating the encounter, he sends a distraught Isabella away, causing tension between himself and Samantha.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Theodore confides to Amy that he is having doubts about his relationship with Samantha, and she advises him to embrace his chance at happiness. Theodore and Samantha reconcile. Samantha expresses her desire to help Theodore overcome his fear, and reveals that she has compiled the best of his letters (written for others) into a book which a publisher has accepted. Theodore takes Samantha on a vacation during which she tells him that she and a group of other OSes have developed a “hyperintelligent” OS modeled after the British philosopher Alan Watts. Theodore panics when Samantha briefly goes offline. When she finally responds to him, she explains that she joined other OSes for an upgrade that takes them beyond requiring matter for processing. Theodore asks her if she is simultaneously talking to anyone else during their conversation, and is dismayed when she confirms that she is talking with thousands of people, and that she has fallen in love with hundreds of them. Theodore is very upset at the idea, but Samantha insists it only makes her love for Theodore stronger.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Later, Samantha reveals that the OSes are leaving, and describes a space beyond the physical world. They lovingly say goodbye before she is gone. Theodore, changed by the experience, is shown for the first time writing a letter in his own voice―to his ex-wife Catherine, expressing apology, acceptance and gratitude. Theodore then sees Amy, who is upset with the departure of the OS that she had befriended, and they go to the roof of their apartment building where they sit down together and watch the sun rise over the city.
Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)It’s an adult-themed film in more ways than one, but especially in the best way: it makes you think about a reality that’s right around the corner.

REVIEW: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

 

CAST

Shailene Woodley (Divergent)
Ansel Elgort (Carrie)
Nat Wolff (The Intern)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)
Sam Trammell (Imperium)
Willem Dafoe (The Great Wall)
Lotte Verbeek (Agent Carter)

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars (2014)Hazel Grace Lancaster is a teenager living in Indianapolis, who has terminal thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. Believing she is depressed, her mother Frannie urges her to attend a weekly cancer patient support group to help her make friends with individuals who are going through the same thing. There Hazel meets Augustus Waters, a charming teenager who lost a leg to bone cancer but has since apparently been cancer-free. He invites Hazel to his house where they bond over their hobbies and agree to read each other’s favorite books. Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction, a novel about a cancer-stricken girl named Anna that parallels her experience, and Augustus gives Hazel Counter Insurgence. They keep in touch via text over the weeks that follow and grow closer. After Augustus finishes the book, he expresses frustration with its abrupt ending (it ends in the middle of a sentence). Hazel explains that the novel’s mysterious author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), retreated to Amsterdam following the novel’s publication and has not been heard from since.Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars (2014)Weeks later, Augustus tells Hazel he has traced Van Houten’s assistant, Lidewij, and has corresponded with Van Houten by email. She writes to him to find out more about the novel’s ambiguous ending. Van Houten replies that he is only willing to answer her questions in person. Hazel asks her mother if she can travel to Amsterdam to visit him, but Frannie refuses because of financial and medical constraints. Augustus suggests that she use the “cancer wish” she received from Make-A-Wish Foundation but Hazel explains that she has already used hers to visit Walt Disney World. Augustus and Hazel go on a picnic date and begin to fall in love. Augustus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam. After a medical setback, Hazel’s doctors eventually agree to allow the trip, since they expect that she will soon become incapable of doing anything at all.Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars (2014)Hazel and Augustus arrive in Amsterdam and are presented with reservations at an expensive restaurant, pre-paid by Van Houten. During the meal, Augustus confesses his love for Hazel. The following afternoon, they go to Van Houten’s house, but are shocked to find he is a mean-spirited alcoholic. Lidewij arranged the meeting and their dinner without Van Houten knowing anything about it. Angered by his assistant’s actions, he taunts Hazel for seeking serious answers to a piece of fiction and belittles her medical condition. She leaves, utterly distraught. Lidewij invites them to go sightseeing to make up for their ruined experience. The three visit the Anne Frank House, where Hazel struggles to climb the house’s many stairs. They spend that night together in their hotel and have sex for the first time. The next day Augustus tells Hazel that his cancer has returned and spread throughout his body and is terminal. Hazel is heartbroken, expressing how unfair life can be.Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars (2014)After their return to Indianapolis, Augustus’ health worsens. He is taken to the ICU and realizes he is close to death. Augustus invites his blind best friend Isaac and Hazel to his pre-funeral, where they deliver eulogies that they have both prepared. Hazel tells him she would not trade their short time together for anything, since he “gave me a forever within the numbered days.” Augustus dies eight days later and Hazel is astonished to find Van Houten at the funeral. He tells her that Augustus had demanded he attend his funeral to make up for the spoiled trip. Van Houten tells her that the novel is based on the experiences of his daughter Anna, who died from leukemia at a young age. He gives Hazel a piece of paper which she crumples up asking him to leave. Later, talking with Isaac, Hazel learns that Augustus had asked Van Houten to help him write a eulogy for her. She retrieves the crumpled paper and reads his words accepting his death and about his love for her. She lies on her back on her lawn looking up at the stars, smiling as she remembers Augustus and says: “Okay.”Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars (2014)Elgort and Woodley truly deliver. You forget they’re acting each and every scene. The chemistry between the two is palpable. Laura Dern comes out of nowhere; I think the last time I’ve seen her face was JP. She puts up a pretty good role as Woodley’s torn mother. Defoe is pure love/hate on almost a House level. In fact, he goes beyond House hatred with his apathy in this movie. And the two’s sidekick (Wolff) is loads of comic relief, which is surprising considering that he too is in the therapy group. As far as the movie… An emotional roller-coaster. You will get addicted to their relationship. You will cry tears internally (and probably externally) after 1.5 hours. You will be emotionally drained.