REVIEW: THE FIRM

CAST

Tom Cruise (The Mummy)
Jeanne Tripplehorn (Basix Instinct)
Gene Hackman (Superman)
Hal Holbrook (Lincoln)
Terry Kinney (Billions)
Wilford Brimley (Cocoon)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Holly Hunter (Batman V Superman)
David Strathairn (The Blacklist)
Gary Busey (The Gungerdead Man)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)

Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) is a young man from an impoverished background, but with a promising future in law. About to graduate from Harvard Law School near the top of his class, he receives a generous job offer from Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a small, boutique firm in Memphis specializing in accounting and tax law. He and his wife, Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn), move to Memphis and Mitch sets to work studying to pass the Tennessee bar exam. Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman), one of the firm’s senior partners, becomes his mentor and begins introducing Mitch to BL&L’s professional culture, which demands complete loyalty, strict confidentiality, and a willingness to charge exceptional fees for their services. Seduced by the money and perks showered on him, including a house and car, he is at first totally oblivious of the more sinister side of his new employer, although Abby has her suspicions.Mitch passes the bar exam and begins working long hours that put a strain on his marriage. Working closely with Avery, Mitch learns that most of the Firm’s work involves helping wealthy clients hide large amounts of money in off-shore shell corporations and other dubious tax-avoidance schemes. While on a trip to the Cayman Islands on behalf of a client, Mitch is seduced by a local woman and cheats on Abby. Actually this encounter is a photographed set-up made for the firm’s sinister security chief, Bill DeVasher (Wilford Brimley), who later uses Mitch’s beach tryst with that woman as blackmail to keep him quiet about such tax evasions and whatever illegal financial transactions.Mitch realizes he is now trapped, but after two associates of the firm die under mysterious circumstances, he is approached by FBI agents who inform him that while some of BL&L’s business is legitimate, their biggest client is the Morolto Mafia family from Chicago. The firm’s partners, as well as most of the associates, are all complicit in a massive tax fraud and money laundering scheme. The two associates who died learned about the firm’s dark side, and were killed to keep them from talking. They warn Mitch that his house, car, and office have probably all been bugged. The FBI pressures Mitch to provide the Bureau with evidence they can use to go after the Moroltos and bring down BL&L. Mitch knows he faces a stark choice. If he works with the FBI, he believes that even if he stays alive, he will have to disclose information about the firm’s legitimate clients—thus breaking the attorney–client privilege and risking disbarment. However, the FBI warns him that if he stays with the firm, he will almost certainly go to jail when the FBI takes down both the firm and the Moroltos. Either way, his life as he knows it is over, and he agrees to cooperate with the FBI in return for $1.5 million and the release of his imprisoned brother Ray in Arkansas.Desperate to find a way out, Mitch inadvertently stumbles on a solution when one of his clients reveals that he was billed for extra five hours fees, for the Firm’s money laundering services for the Moroltos. However, mailing these illegal bills to their clients is considered as mail fraud, and it exposes the Firm to RICO charges. Mitch begins secretly copying the Firm’s billing records. However, he is unmasked when a prison guard on the Moroltos’ payroll alerts DeVasher. Evading DeVasher and his thugs, he finds the Morolto brothers and, offering himself as a loyal attorney looking out for his clients’ best interests, leads them to believe that his contact with the FBI and files copying were merely an attempt to expose and eliminate such illegal overbilling. Mitch asks the Moroltos to turn over their billing invoices in order to help the FBI make their case against the firm. He assures them that as long as he is alive, any other information he knows about their legal affairs is covered under attorney-client privilege and will never be revealed. Convinced thus, the Moroltos agree to guarantee Mitch’s safety and let him give the FBI all the evidence they need to destroy the Firm. Since the attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply when a lawyer knows about ongoing criminal activity, Mitch is able to keep his status as a lawyer. The film ends as the McDeeres leave their house in Memphis and return to Boston, driving the same car in which they arrived there.Better than the book with regard to its resolution and plot development. Still looks and feels good.

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REVIEW: MAN ON A LEDGE

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Jamie Bell (King Kong)
Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Génesis Rodríguez (Hours)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Woodsman)
Edward Burns (One Missed Call)
Titus Welliver (Gone Baby Gone)
Felix Solis (The West Wing)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)

In New York City, Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) checks into the Roosevelt Hotel under the false name of Walker, goes to his hotel room on the 21st floor, and climbs on the ledge, ready to commit suicide. The crowd below calls the police, with Dante Marcus (Titus Welliver) controlling the crowd, while Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) tries to talk with Nick. However, Nick will only speak to negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who is on a leave of absence, after failing to save a suicidal policeman. Lydia arrives at the hotel room and manages to acquire Nick’s fingerprints from a cigarette they share. Dougherty has them analyzed and discovers that Nick is an ex-policeman, arrested for stealing the $40 million Monarch diamond from businessman David Englander (Ed Harris). Nick was given a 25-year sentence but escaped from the Sing Sing Correctional Facility one month earlier, after being allowed to attend his father’s funeral. Nick, however, maintains his innocence and accuses Englander of framing him for the theft of the diamond, as Englander lost his fortune and was too proud to sell the diamond.Unknown to the police, Nick is merely distracting them while his brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and Joey’s girlfriend, Angie (Génesis Rodríguez), break into Englander’s vault across the street, to steal the diamond and prove Nick’s innocence. Meanwhile, Dougherty informs Marcus of Nick’s identity, and Marcus orders the jewelry store’s security to check the vault. Joey and Angie are able to evade them but do not find the diamond. They set off the alarms, tricking Englander into retrieving the diamond and ambush him, stealing the diamond at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Nick’s ex-partner, Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie), arrives at the hotel with evidence that Nick is planning something and demands to be allowed into the hotel room. Lydia does not trust him, and Dougherty backs her up. Ackerman claims he has found bomb schematics in a storage unit Nick rented and is convinced that he will detonate an explosive somewhere. While the crowd is evacuated by the bomb squad, Lydia, believing in Nick’s innocence, calls Internal Affairs and discovers that three of the cops employed by Englander were suspected of being corrupt: Ackerman, Marcus and a deceased officer called Walker.Joey and Angie enter the hotel and hand the bag containing the diamond to the hotel concierge (William Sadler). The concierge pockets the diamond. Englander calls Marcus, one of the men who helped him frame Nick, and has him capture Joey and Angie. Nick begins to make his escape through the hotel, at one point being aided by the concierge who tells him “everyone is rooting for you, kid,” while handing him a disguise (and the diamond). Marcus chases Nick to the roof, where he has Lydia arrested for obstruction. Englander brings Joey and Angie, threatening to throw Joey off the roof, if Nick does not give him the diamond. Nick turns it over, and Englander leaves. Meanwhile, Lydia escapes custody and rushes back to the roof. Marcus attempts to force Nick to jump off the roof, but Ackerman arrives and shoots Marcus, who wounds Ackerman. Nick rushes to Ackerman’s side, who apologizes and reveals that he had no idea that Englander would frame Nick for stealing the diamond. Marcus survives, as he is wearing a bulletproof vest, and is preparing to kill Nick, when Lydia shoots him, but does not kill him. Nick jumps from the roof onto an airbag set up earlier by the police, catches up to Englander, beats him and pulls the diamond he had only just recently given him from his jacket, proving Nick’s innocence in front of both the police and public, resulting in Englander being arrested.Later, Nick is cleared of all charges and released from custody and meets Joey, Angie, and Lydia at a bar. There it is revealed that the hotel concierge is in fact Nick and Joey’s father, Frank Cassidy, who had faked his own death in order to help Nick break out of prison and prove his innocence. Joey proposes to Angie with a diamond ring presumably stolen from Englander’s vault. She accepts and they all celebrate together.Man on a ledge is a good film, and if you stick with it & follow it’s threads you will find it worthy of your time.

REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Luke Hemsworth (Neighbours)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen)
Simon Quarterman (the Scorpion King 2)
Rodrigo Santoro (Lost)
Shannon Woodward (Raising Hope)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Jimmi Simpson (Date Night)
Angela Sarafyan (The Promise)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of Tue Lambs)
Ben Barnes (Dorian Gray)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Louis Herthum (Longmire)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Talulah Riley (St. Trinians)
Oliver Bell (Salem)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Steven Ogg (The Escort)
Michael Wincott (The Doors)
Eddie Rouse (I’m Still Here)
Brian Howe (Catch Me If You Can)
Demetrius Grosse (Saving Mr. Banks)
Kyle Bornheimer (The D Train)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Bojana Novakovic (Drag Me To Hell)
Eddie Shin (That 80s Show)
Ptolemy Slocum  (Hitch)

As many sci-fi fans will know, the show ‘Westworld’ is based on the 1973 feature film of the same name (written and directed by the late, great Michael Crichton), and the premise is basically the same as it was then: In a future where technological possibilities are seemingly endless, a highly sophisticated theme park offers rich clients the chance to visit the long gone era of the Old West .

The show does a great job pulling the viewer immediately into Westworld. Within 10 minutes of the first episode, the basic rules of the theme park are established: paying guests called “newcomers” get to interact with androids called “hosts” (which to the naked eye are indiscernible from the guests) in a world dressed up like the Old West – and in this world, the guest truly is king. The rules are brutally simple: the visitors get to do whatever they like with – or to – the androids. They can have a friendly chat with them, flirt with them or embark on a spontaneous (or scripted) adventure with them – but they can also shoot them, rape them, torture them and kill them at will.

The androids, on the other hand, are constructed and programmed in a way that is supposed to inhibit them from physically harming “living” creatures. At the beginning of the show – thanks to an interesting choice of storytelling – we get to experience Westworld from the perspective of the androids, which reveals a cruel detail about their nature: they apparently experience emotions. Artificial or not, they do feel pain and fear – as well as affection and anger, and they have no idea that they don’t count as “real” people (at least not to those who call themselves real people). And while that detail certainly makes the “game” even more thrilling and more realistic for the visitors, it means that the shocking abuse some of the androids have to suffer is harrowingly real to them.

The way the show is constructed  it immediately confronts the viewer with very uncomfortable questions. How do we as humans behave towards creatures we consider non-human? How excessive do we become and how thin does our layer of morality turn out to be if we’re allowed to live out all our fantasies without having to fear any consequences for our actions? And at what point should a creature have rights similar to those we demand for ourselves? How do we define “sentient”? How do we define “human”? And how well do we actually understand – and how well are we able to control – the amazing technology our species seems to have acquired so suddenly?

As an avid film fan, I found ‘Westworld’ immediately intriguing; not only because it dares to challenge the viewer with fascinating philosophical questions and scientific concepts, but also because its premise offers the chance to explore a wide range of film genres: sci- fi, western, drama, horror – to name but a few.As for the non plot related aspects of the show: production design, music and effects are fantastic – as we’ve come to expect from HBO’s high concept productions  and with the impressive ensemble of high caliber actors do a great job at bringing their respective characters to life (artificial and otherwise).

A special mention needs to go to Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins: their charismatic screen presence is once more just impossible to ignore and they simply own every scene they’re in.  Given the amount of talent involved, anything else actually would have been surprising. Produced by J.J. Abrams, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan based on a concept by the late – great – Michael Crichton; directed by Neil Marshall and Vincenzo Natali (among others), and with a cast most shows would kill for, the stars really seem to have aligned for ‘Westworld’.

My overall verdict so far: ‘Westworld’ is intelligent science fiction for adults (some scenes are very graphic) which offers more than just eye candy and is full of mysteries for the patient viewer to uncover. It provides a powerful metaphor for oppression and exploitation of other beings – and it shows how quickly we tend to lose our “humanity” when given ultimate power over those we somehow consider less “human”.  With a great cliffhanger season keeps you salivating for the second season which wont air till 2018.

REVIEW: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

CAST

Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Maria Bello (The 5th Wave)
Ed Harris (Gravity)
William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk)
Ashton Holmes (Revenge)
Peter MacNeill (CrasH)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)
Kyle Schmid (The Covenant)

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is a diner owner who lives in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana, with a loving wife Edie (Maria Bello), teenage son Jack (Ashton Holmes), and daughter Sarah. One night, two men attempt to rob the restaurant. When a waitress is threatened, Tom deftly kills both robbers with surprising skill and precision. He is hailed as a hero by his family and the townspeople, and the incident makes him a local celebrity. Tom is visited by scarred gangster Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), who alleges that he is actually a gangster named Joey Cusack who had dealings with him in the Irish Mob in Philadelphia. Tom vehemently denies this, but Fogarty remains persistent and begins to stalk the Stall family. Under pressure from Fogarty and his newfound fame, Tom’s relationships with his family become strained.
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Following an argument with his father over the use of violence on a bully at his school, Jack runs away. He is caught by Fogarty, who, with Jack as his hostage, goes with his men to the Stall house and demands that “Joey” return to Philadelphia with them. After the gangsters release Jack, Tom is slow to join them in their car, so they attempt to force him to cooperate. Tom kills the two henchmen with the same precision he used against the robbers, but Fogarty shoots Tom as Tom is aiming at him. As Fogarty is standing over Tom, preparing to kill him, Tom finally admits he is indeed Joey. However, before Fogarty can deliver a coup de grâce, Jack kills Fogarty with a shotgun.
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At the hospital, Edie confronts Tom, claiming that while he was attacking Fogarty’s men, she saw “the real Joey” that Fogarty was talking about. Tom shocks Edie by admitting that he is actually Joey Cusack, and that he has killed for both money and pleasure. He tells Edie that he ran away from Philadelphia to escape his violent criminal past. This admission deepens the tensions in their marriage.
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After Tom gets out of the hospital, Sam (Peter MacNeill), the local sheriff, pays a visit. Sam expresses confusion about everything that has happened. He tells Tom and Edie that these mobsters wouldn’t go to all this trouble if they weren’t sure they had the right man. Just when Tom is about to confess, Edie lies to Sam, claiming that Tom is who he says he is, that their family has suffered enough. At a loss for words after Edie breaks down into tears, Sam leaves. Edie and Tom then start slapping and hitting each other, their fight eventually culminating in violent sex on the stairs; this is in contrast to the tender and romantic sex they were shown having in the beginning of the film. Afterward, Edie and Jack continue to further distance themselves from Tom, leaving him isolated. He receives a call from his brother Richie Cusack (William Hurt), who also demands his return to Philadelphia, or else he will come to Indiana to find him. After traveling to meet his brother, Tom learns that the other mobsters whom he had offended in Philadelphia took out their frustrations on Richie, penalizing him financially and delaying his advancement in the organization. Tom offers to make peace, but Richie orders his men to kill his brother. Tom manages to kill most of the guards and escape. As Richie and his last henchman are hunting for him, Tom surprises and dispatches both.
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Tom returns home, where the atmosphere is tense and silent as the family sits around the dinner table. The future of his marriage and his life as Tom Stall are uncertain, but Jack and Sarah indicate their acceptance of their father by setting a plate for him and passing him some food. The film ends as Edie looks up at Tom, leaving their future in question.

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There is violence, and there is sex, but all tightly controlled and more tense than graphic, and all carefully crafted to service the story. The ending will disappoint you if you tackle this as a mere action movie.. but if you want a real kick off into the whole subject of the influence and effects of violence, then this is a perfect place to start.

REVIEW: THE HOURS

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever)
Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Stephen DIllane (Game of Thrones)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Linda Bassett (Calander Girls)
Toni Collette (Japanese Story)
John C.Reilly (Cyrus)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Margo Martindale (Mike and Molly)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Claire Danes (Brokedown Palace)
Jeff Daniels (Allegiant)

With the exception of the opening and final scenes, which depict the 1941 suicide by drowning of Virginia Woolf in the River Ouse, the action takes place within the span of a single day in three different years and alternates between them throughout the film. In 1923, Virginia has begun writing the book Mrs Dalloway in her home in the town of Richmond outside London. In 1951, troubled Los Angeles housewife Laura Brown escapes from her conventional life by reading Mrs Dalloway. In 2001, New Yorker Clarissa Vaughan is the embodiment of the novel’s title character, as she spends the day preparing for a party she is hosting in honor of her former lover and friend Richard, a poet and author living with AIDS who is to receive a major literary award. Richard tells Clarissa he has stayed alive for her sake, and the award is meaningless because he didn’t get it sooner, until he was on the brink of death. She tells him she believes he would have won the award regardless of his illness. Richard often refers to Clarissa as “Mrs. Dalloway” – her namesake – because she distracts herself from her own life the way the Woolf character does.

Virginia, who has experienced several nervous breakdowns and suffers from bipolar disorder, feels trapped in her home. She is intimidated by servants and constantly under the eye of her husband, Leonard, who has begun a publishing business, Hogarth Press, at home to stay close to her. Virginia both welcomes and dreads an afternoon visit from her sister Vanessa and her children. After their departure, Virginia flees to the railway station, where she is awaiting a train to central London, when Leonard arrives to bring her home. He tells her how he lives in constant fear that she will take her own life. She says she fears it also but argues that if she is to live, she has the right to decide how and where.

Pregnant with her second child, Laura spends her days in her tract home with her young son, Richie. She married her husband, Dan, soon after World War II. On the surface they are living the American Dream, but she is nonetheless deeply unhappy. She and Richie make a cake for Dan’s birthday, but it is a disaster. Her neighbor Kitty drops in to ask her if she can feed her dog while she’s in the hospital for a procedure. Kitty pretends to be upbeat, but Laura senses her fear and boldly kisses her on the lips; Kitty laughs it off as if it didn’t happen. Laura and Richie successfully make another cake and clean up, and then she takes Richie to stay with Mrs. Latch. Richie runs after his mother as she leaves, fearing that she will never come back. Laura checks into a hotel, where she intends to commit suicide. Laura removes several bottles of pills and Mrs. Dalloway from her purse and begins to read it. She drifts off to sleep and dreams the hotel room is flooded. She awakens with a change of heart and caresses her belly. She picks up Richie, and they return home to celebrate Dan’s birthday.

Clarissa appears equally worried about Richard’s depression and the party she is planning for him. Clarissa, who is bisexual and has been living with Sally Lester for 10 years, had been in a relationship with Richard during their college days. She meets with Richard’s ex-lover Louis Waters, who has returned for the festivities. Clarissa’s daughter, Julia, comes home to help her prepare. Richard has taken a combination of Xanax and Ritalin and tells Clarissa she is the most beautiful thing he ever had in life, before he commits suicide in front of her. Later that night, Laura, who is Richard’s mother, arrives at Clarissa’s apartment. It is clear that Laura’s abandonment of her family was deeply traumatic for Richard, but Laura reveals it was a better decision for her to leave the family after the birth of her daughter rather than commit suicide. She has led an independent, happier life as a librarian in Canada. She does not apologize for the hurt she caused to her family (Dan and their daughter are also both dead) and suggests that it’s not possible to feel regret for something over which she had no choice. She acknowledges that no one will forgive her, but she offers an explanation: “It [her life] was death. I chose life.” When Julia visits Laura in her bedroom, she treats her with kindness and sensitivity that Laura does not expect to receive.

The film ends with a line from Virginia’s suicide note (in voice-over) in which she thanks Leonard for loving her: “Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.”

A great adaptation. Fantastic acting from all those involved. Three women portray / mirror the life of Clarissa Dalloway, heroine of the novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. This movie is a masterpiece & the emotion flows like water and at times is very sad but worth watching every minute. A beautifully crafted piece of art.

 

REVIEW: GRAVITY

CAST
Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a biomedical engineer aboard the NASA space shuttle Explorer for her first space mission, STS-157. Veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is commanding his final mission. During a spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope, Mission Control in Houston warns the team about a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite, which has inadvertently caused a chain reaction forming a cloud of debris in space. Mission Control orders that the mission be aborted and the crew begin re-entry immediately because the debris is speeding towards the shuttle. Communication with Mission Control is lost shortly thereafter.
High-speed debris from the Russian satellite strikes the Explorer and Hubble, detaching Stone from the shuttle and leaving her tumbling through space. Kowalski, using a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), recovers Stone and they return to the Explorer. They discover that it has suffered catastrophic damage and the rest of the crew is dead. They decide to use the MMU to reach the International Space Station (ISS), which is in orbit about 1,450 km (900 mi) away. Kowalski estimates they have 90 minutes before the debris field completes an orbit and threatens them again.
En route to the ISS, the two discuss Stone’s home life in Lake Zurich and her daughter, who died young in an accident. As they approach the substantially damaged but still operational ISS, they see that its crew has evacuated in one of its two Soyuz modules. The parachute of the remaining Soyuz has deployed, rendering the capsule useless for returning to Earth. Kowalski suggests using it to travel to the nearby Chinese space station Tiangong, 100 km (60 mi) away, in order to board a Chinese module to return safely to Earth. Out of air and maneuvering power, the two try to grab onto the ISS as they fly by. Stone’s leg gets entangled in the Soyuz’s parachute cords and she grabs a strap on Kowalski’s suit, but it soon becomes clear that the cords will not support them both. Despite Stone’s protests, Kowalski detaches himself from the tether to save her from drifting away with him, and she is pulled back towards the ISS while Kowalski floats away to certain death. He continues to support her until he is out of communications range.
Stone enters the ISS via an airlock. She cannot re-establish communication with Kowalski and concludes that she is the sole survivor. A fire breaks out, forcing her to rush to the Soyuz. As she maneuvers the capsule away from the ISS, the tangled parachute tethers prevent it from separating from the station. She spacewalks to release the cables, succeeding just as the debris field completes its orbit and destroys the station. Stone aligns the Soyuz with Tiangong but discovers that its engine has no fuel.
After a poignant attempt at radio communication with an Eskimo–Aleut-speaking fisherman on Earth, Stone resigns herself to being stranded and shuts down the cabin’s oxygen supply to commit suicide. As she begins to lose consciousness, Kowalski enters the capsule. Scolding her for giving up, he tells her to rig the Soyuz’s soft landing jets to propel the capsule toward Tiangong. Stone then realizes that Kowalski’s reappearance was not real, but has nonetheless given her the strength of will to continue. She restores the flow of oxygen and uses the landing jets to navigate toward Tiangong on momentum.
Unable to maneuver the Soyuz to dock with the station, Stone ejects herself via explosive decompression and uses a fire extinguisher as a makeshift thruster to travel the final metres to Tiangong, which is rapidly deorbiting. Stone enters the Shenzhou capsule just as Tiangong starts to break up on the upper edge of the atmosphere. Stone radios that she is ready to head back to Earth. After re-entering the atmosphere, Stone hears Mission Control, which is tracking the capsule. But due to a harsh reentry and the premature jettison of the heat shield, a fire is starting inside the capsule.
After speeding through the atmosphere, the capsule lands in a lake, but dense smoke forces Stone to evacuate immediately after splashdown. She opens the capsule hatch, allowing water to enter and sink it, forcing Stone to shed her spacesuit and swim ashore. Ryan then watches the remains of the Tiangong re-enter the atmosphere and takes her first shaky steps on land. Meanwhile, NASA tracks down the crash site of Ryan’s landing capsule, and proceeds to send a rescue team in hopes of finding her.
I had been glued to the screen the whole way through. The CGI is brilliant and has set a new standard for the industry. Sandra Bullock was first class throughout and so was George Clooney. The backdrop of the Earth in HD is just stunning and my only regret is that I didn’t see it on an IMAX screen. For a change most of the science is correct. I thought it was simply a brilliant film and deserved the Oscars it was awarded.

REVIEW: THE TRUMAN SHOW

CAST

Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura)
Laura Linney (Mystic River)
Noah Emmerich (The Americans)
Natascha McElhone (Solaris)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)

Truman Burbank is the unsuspecting star of The Truman Show, a reality television program in which his entire life, since the moment of his birth, is filmed by thousands of hidden cameras, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is broadcast live around the world. The show’s creator and executive producer Christof is able to capture Truman’s real emotion and human behavior when put in certain situations. Truman’s coastal hometown of Seahaven is a giant set built under a giant arcological dome in the Los Angeles area. Truman’s family and friends are all played by actors, allowing Christof to control every aspect of Truman’s life.

During the 30th year of the show, Truman notices certain aspects of his near-perfect world that seem out of place. A theatrical light (labeled Sirius) falls from the artificial morning sky, nearly hitting him (quickly passed off by local radio as an aircraft in trouble that began “shedding parts”) and Truman’s car radio picks up a conversation between the show’s crew tracking his movements. Truman also becomes aware of more subtle abnormalities within his regular day-to-day life, such as the way in which the same people appear in the same places at certain times each day and his wife Meryl’s tendency to blatantly advertise the various products she buys.

To prevent Truman from discovering his false reality, Christof has invented means of dissuading his sense of exploration, the most drastic of which was “killing” his father in a storm while on a fishing trip to instill in him a fear of the water. Christof also floods the channels with news reports and commercials about the dangers of travelling, and television shows about how good it is to stay at home. The actor that played Truman’s deceased father sneaks back onto the set as a homeless man, but is whisked away as soon as Truman notices him. Despite Christof’s control, Truman has managed to behave in unexpected ways, in particular by falling in love with an extra, Sylvia, known to Truman as Lauren, instead of Meryl, the character intended to be his wife. Though Sylvia is quickly removed from the set and Truman marries Meryl, he continues to secretly pine for ‘Lauren’. Sylvia becomes part of a “Free Truman” campaign that fights to free him from the show and to reveal his identity.

Despite the best efforts of his family and his best friend Marlon to reassure him, all these events cause Truman to start wondering about his life, realizing how the world seems to revolve and shape around him, with complete strangers to him knowing his name. Truman attempts to leave Seahaven but is blocked by fabricated emergency situations, further aggravating him. Meryl grows increasingly stressed by the pressure of perpetuating the deception, and their marriage unravels in the face of Truman’s increasing skepticism and attendant hostility towards her. This causes her to snap and partially reveal Truman’s identity and life in front of Marlon, making Truman confused. As a result, Meryl is pulled off the show, and Christof officially brings back Truman’s father, hoping his presence will keep Truman from trying to leave. However, he only provides a temporary respite: Truman soon becomes isolated and begins staying alone in his basement. One night, Truman fools the cameras and escapes the basement undetected via a secret tunnel, forcing Christof to temporarily suspend broadcasting of the show for the first time in its history. This causes a surge in viewership, with many viewers, including Sylvia, cheering on Truman’s escape attempt.

Christof orders every actor and crew member to search the town, even breaking the town’s daylight cycle to help in the search. They find that Truman has overcome his fear of the water and has sailed away from the town in a small boat. After restoring the broadcast, Christof orders the show’s crew to create a large storm to try to capsize the boat, prompting a heated debate with his assistants and his technicians over the morality and legality of murdering a human being in front of a live audience. Truman almost drowns, but his determination eventually leads Christof to terminate the storm. As Truman recovers, the boat reaches the edge of the dome, its bow piercing through the dome’s painted sky. Truman then continuously punches the wall and breaks down crying. An awe-struck Truman then discovers a flight of stairs nearby, leading to a door marked “EXIT”. As he contemplates leaving his world, Christof finally turns to his last resort by speaking directly to Truman via a powerful sound system, trying to persuade him to stay. Truman, after a moment’s thought, delivers his catchphrase (“In case I don’t see you… good afternoon, good evening, and good night”), bows to his audience and steps through the door and into the real world.

The assembled television viewers excitedly celebrate Truman’s escape, and Sylvia quickly leaves her L.A. apartment and departs to the edges of Seaheaven so she can meet up with him. A network executive orders the crew to cease transmission of the show, leaving Christof dismayed with the realization that his show is truly over.

The Truman Show is a clever, fun and entertaining film bursting with themes to explore. Is it better to live a ‘perfect’ fake life or a flawed real one? How far can reality TV go? How far will people go to ‘do their job’? Where does morality fit in when it comes to entertainment? What is freedom?Great story, brilliant acting. A must-see.