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.

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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.

REVIEW: THE LUCKY ONE

 

CAST

Zac Efron (Bad Neighbours)
Taylor Schilling (Argo)
Blythe Danner (The Last Kiss)
Jay R. Ferguson (The Killer Inside Me)
Adam LeFevre (The Dictator)

Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in The Lucky One (2012)Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), a US Marine serving in Iraq, witnesses a Marine called “Aces” die attempting to aid one of his men during an ambush. The following morning, he finds a picture of a young woman on the ground just before a mortar attack destroys where he had been sitting, killing many around him. Unsuccessful at finding the photo’s owner, Logan keeps it. Logan’s squad-mate declares the woman in the picture as Logan’s “guardian angel,” just before an explosion destroys their Humvee. Logan returns to Colorado to live with his sister’s family, who have been looking after his dog, Zeus. Suffering from PTSD and survivor guilt, he decides it is best to leave, and departs to search for the woman in the photo. Logan and Zeus walk to Louisiana, where a lighthouse in the picture has provided a clue. He shows the photo around town and a local resident tells him that the woman used to be married to a friend of his, a local deputy sheriff.Taylor Schilling in The Lucky One (2012)Logan finds the woman, Beth Green (Taylor Schilling), but has difficulty explaining why he is there. She assumes he wants to apply for a job, and her grandmother, Ellie (Blythe Danner) hires him. At first, Beth is irritated by Logan’s presence, but she begins to warm to him as Logan’s calm presence, willingness to work, and competence in repairing machinery are demonstrated. Logan develops a supportive relationship with Beth’s son, Ben, who is without positive male influence since the death of Beth’s brother, Drake. Beth’s former husband, Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Clayton—the son of the town’s judge—is immediately suspicious of Logan. He is brusque and overbearing with the former Marine. He discourages Ben from playing the violin around him, leading to Ben practising in his tree house. When Ben returns bloodied from a charity baseball game, Beth and Keith have an argument, and Keith threatens to use his connections to take full custody of Ben. Beth is anxious over Keith’s short temper, and is fearful of losing her son to him.On the anniversary of Drake’s death, Beth becomes distraught and Logan comforts her. Keith tries to stop the budding relationship between Beth and Logan, but Beth stands up to Keith, showing that she is not intimidated by him any more. Keith learns that Logan was asking about her when he first arrived in town and steals the photo, telling Beth that Logan has been stalking her. Her trust destroyed, Beth is distraught and sends Logan away. Ellie tries to soften Beth, explaining to her that it isn’t Logan’s fault he survived and Drake did not. An intoxicated Keith sees Logan walking with his dog and angrily confronts him, drawing his gun while people on the street begin to panic and run. Logan disarms Keith, turning the weapon over to another officer. He then heads home to pack and finds a photo of Beth’s brother, Drake, inside a book that Ben had given him. The tattoo on Drake’s forearm says “Aces” and realizes that Drake was the sergeant from the night raid. He returns to Beth’s house to tell her what he knows of how Drake died.Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in The Lucky One (2012)At Judge Clayton’s, Keith is shocked and embarrassed over what he did though his father tells Keith it will all blow over before the election. Keith walks out into a gathering storm, leaving his badge behind, and goes to Beth to plead for a reconciliation. When Beth gently but firmly refuses, Keith threatens to take Ben away. Ben overhears this and runs out into the storm, followed by Keith and Beth, just as Logan arrives. Ellie urges Logan to follow. Ben is en route to the tree house, but the rope bridge gives way and he falls into the river along with his father, just as Beth and Logan arrive. Keith, caught in the rope of the bridge, calls to Logan who grabs Ben and hands him to Beth. Before Logan can return for Keith, the tree house falls on Keith and he is swept away in the raging river to his death. Back home, Beth thanks Logan for saving her son. Logan explains that Drake died saving one of his own men. He starts to leave, but Beth runs after him and says that he belongs with them. Later, Logan, Beth, Zeus and Ben celebrate Ben’s 9th birthday together.Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in The Lucky One (2012)The Lucky One is a sweet and dramatic romance, with pleasant characters. The director Scott Hicks explores the beautiful landscapes with a wonderful cinematography. The plot is very simple and predictable, but the chemistry among the cast makes the film worth.

 

 

 

REVIEW: HONEY 2

 

CAST

Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries)
Randy Wayne (The Lying Game)
Seychelle Gabriel (The Spirit)
Lonette McKee (Third Watch)
Gerry Bednob (the Five Year Engagement)
Tyler Nelson (Stomp the Yard 2)
Melissa Molinaro (High Crimes)

Kat Graham and Randy Wayne in Honey 2 (2011)17-year-old Maria Bennett (Kat Graham) returns from prison to rebuild her life with nothing but a talent for street dance and a burning ambition to prove herself. She finds refuge in the place that made her feel most alive as a kid at the rec center where Honey’s exuberant classes first ignited her passion for dance. Keeping on the straight and narrow means living with Honey’s mother Connie (Lonette McKee) and holding down a job just to make ends meet. Kat Graham and Seychelle Gabriel in Honey 2 (2011)She joins the HD crew to give pay back to her old crew (the 718 Crew) and ex-boyfriend Luis (Christopher Martinez) after realizing the bad influence they had on her. She convinces them to audition to compete on the television dance competition “Dance Battlezone” which means going up against the 718. Maria finds passion, romance, and hard work in the HD crew while realizing why she started dancing in the first place.Kat Graham and Randy Wayne in Honey 2 (2011)Honey didn’t need a sequel, but at Kat Graham makes it work and it’s nice to see her in a lead role.

REVIEW: HONEY

CAST

Jessica Alba (Dark Angel)
Mekhi Phifer (Divergent)
Lil’ Romeo (The Cape)
Joy Bryant (Spider-Man 2)
David Moscow (Just Married)
Lonette McKee (Third Watch)
Zachary Williams (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Kevin Duhaney (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)

Honey is an upbeat little hip-hop fable that opens today nationwide, is not the kind of movie that will impress anyone with its originality. It may remind you, at various times, of ”Flashdance,” ”Fame,” ”8 Mile” and ”Drumline,” a list that could be expanded to include dozens of other movies about plucky young artists striving to make it big while remaining true to themselves and connected to the people around them. In this case the heroine is a cheerful, driven young dancer named Honey Daniels (Jessica Alba), who longs to break out of the hip-hop club scene into the world of music videos (from which the movie’s director, Bille Woodruff, has emerged to make his feature-film debut). Honey’s path is strewn with some familiar impediments, including a disapproving mother (Lonette McKee) who thinks her daughter’s talents would be better suited to ballet, and a video director (David Moscow) whose interest in Honey may extend beyond those talents. But the movie is as sunny and high-spirited as Honey herself, and you don’t worry too hard or too long about her or anyone else in it.Her ambition is balanced by civic-mindedness, and her self-confidence never gets the better of her easy generosity. In addition to bartending and working the cash register at a record store, she teaches hip-hop dancing at a community center in her Bronx neighbourhood and tries to steer the young away from the clutches of the local drug dealer.Her ally and love interest is Chaz (Mekhi Phifer), a handsome barber who represents — as Ice Cube did in ”Barbershop” — the values of hard work and community responsibility. While Chaz has no serious rival for Honey’s affections (though she plays hard-to-get for a while), the movie does hint at a conflict between those values and the shallow, seductive glitter of show business. But Ms. Alba, lithe and charming though she is, is also too blandly perky to register much in the way of emotional conflict. And the script, by Alonzo Brown and Kim Watson, while heavy on incident and superficial complication, shies away from anything like real drama.What the movie offers instead — in addition to frequent shots of Ms. Alba’s bellybutton — is a soundtrack bursting with well-chosen beats and a few cameos by real rap stars, including Jadakiss, Ginuwine and Missy Elliott. (Ms. Elliott surely deserves a movie of her own.) The kinetic energy of the music keeps this picture moving, and the presence of these stars gives it glamour and credibility, which, to fans like Honey and her friends, amount to the same thing. The ease with which Honey moves between the streets of the Bronx and the glittering whirl of the music industry reflects the current self-image of hip-hop itself, with its aggressive celebration of upward mobility and its simultaneous embrace of democratic, street-level authenticity. ”Honey” brings out the wholesome, affirmative side of the hip-hop aesthetic without being overly preachy, and it offers a winningly utopian view of show-business success without real costs or compromises.

REVIEW: BEGINNERS

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Christopher Plummer (The Forger)
Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)
Goran Višnjic (Elektra)
Mary Page Keller (Timecop 2)
Kai Lennox (Green Room)
China Shavers (The Glass House)
Lou Taylor Pucci (Evil Dead)

Ewan McGregor and Mélanie Laurent in Beginners (2010)The film is structured as a series of interconnected flashbacks. Following the death of his father Hal from cancer, Oliver reflects on their relationship during the five years since the death of Oliver’s mother, Georgia. Shortly after her death, Hal came out to his son and began exploring life as an openly gay man. He becomes active in the gay community, finds love with a much younger man and becomes more honest with himself and with his son. As a result, Oliver and Hal become closer during this time. Shortly after Hal’s death, Oliver meets Anna, a French actress, at a party. Inspired by his father’s attitude towards the end of his life and their relationship, Oliver decides to pursue a romance with her.Ewan McGregor and Mélanie Laurent in Beginners (2010)This is a film with a heartfelt story to share with us, technically well made, with some risky directorial choices that for the most part succeed in their purpose, and with some noticeable performances to round it up, especially Christopher Plummer’s affecting turn, undoubtedly deserving of Oscar recognition in the Best Supporting Actor category.