REVIEW: THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

CAST

Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Charlie Cox (Daredevil)
Emily Watson (Miss Potter)
Simon McBurney (The Duchess)
David Thewlis (Wonder Woman)
Maxine Peake (Room at The Top)
Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones)
Charlotte Hope (Allied)

In 1963, Cambridge University astrophysics student Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) begins a relationship with literature student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Although Stephen excels at mathematics and physics, his friends and professors are concerned over his lack of a thesis topic. After Stephen and his professor Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis) attend a lecture on black holes, Stephen speculates that black holes may have been part of the creation of the universe and decides to write his thesis on time.
While pursuing his research, Stephen’s muscles begin to fail, eventually causing him to fall and hit his head. He learns he has motor neurone disease; he will be unable to talk, swallow, breathe or move most of his body, and has approximately two years to live. Stephen asks what will happen to his brain. The doctor tells Stephen that the disease doesn’t affect the brain and that Stephen’s thoughts won’t change but eventually, no one will know what they are. As Stephen becomes reclusive, focusing on his work, Jane confesses her love to him. She tells Stephen’s father she intends to stay with Stephen even as his condition worsens. They marry and have a son.
Stephen presents his thesis to the examination board, arguing that a black hole created the universe in a Big Bang, that it will emit heat, and that it will end in a Big Crunch. While celebrating with Jane and his friends, Stephen realises he cannot walk and begins using a wheelchair. After having a second child, a daughter, Stephen develops a theory about the visibility of black holes and becomes a world-renowned physicist. While focusing on the children, Stephen’s health and his increasing fame, Jane is unable to work on her own thesis and is frustrated; Stephen tells her he understands if she needs help. She joins the church choir, where she meets widower Jonathan (Charlie Cox). She and Jonathan become close friends, and she employs him as a piano teacher for her son. Jonathan befriends the entire family, helping Stephen with his illness, supporting Jane, and playing with the children.
When Jane gives birth to another son, Stephen’s mother asks Jane if the baby is Jonathan’s. Jane is appalled; seeing that Jonathan overheard the conversation, when they are alone they admit their feelings for one another. Jonathan stays away from the family, but Stephen visits him, saying that Jane needs him. While Jane and Jonathan take the children camping, Stephen is invited to attend an opera performance in Bordeaux and contracts pneumonia. While in the hospital, the doctors tell Jane that Stephen needs a tracheotomy, which will leave him unable to speak. She agrees to the surgery.
Stephen learns to use a spelling board and uses it to communicate with Elaine (Maxine Peake), his new nurse. He receives a computer with a built-in voice synthesiser, and uses it to write a book, A Brief History of Time, which becomes an international best-seller. Stephen tells Jane that he has been invited to America to accept an award and will be taking Elaine with him. Jane faces the realisation that her and Stephen’s marriage has not been working, telling him she “did her best.” Jane and Stephen agree to divorce. Stephen goes to the lecture with Elaine, the two having fallen in love, and Jane and Jonathan reunite. At the lecture, Stephen sees a student drop a pen; he imagines getting up to return it, almost crying at the reminder of how his disease has affected him. He goes on to give an inspiring speech, saying, “There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”
Stephen invites Jane to meet the Queen with him; they share a happy day together with their children, with Stephen saying “Look what we made”. An extended closing series comprises select moments from the film shown in reverse back to the moment Stephen first saw Jane. A final title sequence brings the lives of the lead characters up to date. Jane and Jonathan are happily married and she has completed her PhD. She and Stephen remain close friends. Stephen declines a knighthood and continues his research with no plans to retire.A beautiful story that shows how time and love are limitless.

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REVIEW: JUPITER ASCENDING

CAST

Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Mila Kunis (Ted)
Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Douglas Booth (Noah)
Tuppence Middleton (Trance)
Christina Cole (Hex)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
Vanessa Kirby (About Time)

At the beginning of the story, Earth’s residents are unaware that the human species on Earth and countless other planets were established[17] by families of transhuman and alien royalty[18] for the purpose of later “harvesting” the resulting organisms to produce a type of youth serum for the elites on still other planets.[19] After the death of the matriarch of the House of Abrasax, the most powerful of the alien dynasties,[9] her children, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), quarrel over the inheritance, with Balem inheriting an enormous refinery on Jupiter and Titus spending his inheritance on a lavish spaceship, declaring his intention to dismantle the youth serum trade, of which Earth is the next intended source.Protagonist Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) narrates that her father, Maximilian Jones (James D’Arcy), met her mother, Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy), in Saint Petersburg. After Maximilian is killed in a robbery, Aleksa names their daughter Jupiter, after his favorite planet, and they move to Chicago to live with Aleksa’s family. Many years later, Jupiter works with Aleksa and her Aunt Nino (Frog Stone) to clean the homes of wealthy neighbors. To buy a telescope, Jupiter agrees to sell her egg cells with the help of her cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry), under the name of her friend Katharine Dunlevy (Vanessa Kirby). At Katharine’s house, Jupiter and Katharine are attacked by extraterrestrial ‘Keepers’; and when Jupiter photographs these, they erase both of their memories of the incident. Jupiter stumbles upon the strange photograph on her phone while waiting at an egg donation clinic, but could not recall anything about it. During the procedure, the doctors and nurses are revealed to be Keepers, sent to kill her, and she is saved by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a former soldier sent by Titus to bring her to him.While Caine and Jupiter ascend to a ship, it is destroyed by a squad of Keepers who then attack them. Caine fends off the attack and manages to kill the Keepers and hijack one of their vehicles while protecting Jupiter. Afterwards, Caine realizes that Jupiter must be of great significance to both Titus and Balem, who is revealed to have sent the Keepers to Earth to capture her. He takes Jupiter to the hideout of Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), another former soldier living in exile on Earth. As Jupiter discovers that she can control the bees in Stinger’s residence, she is revealed to be a galactic royalty. Stinger agrees to help Jupiter, but a group of hunters who initially were hired by Balem but bribed by Kalique capture her and take her to Kalique’s palace on a distant planet, where Kalique explains that Jupiter is genetically identical to the dead matriarch, and therefore the Earth’s rightful owner. Supported by Captain Diomika Tsing (Nikki Amuka-Bird) of the Aegis (an intergalactic police force), Caine retrieves her from Kalique, and brings her to the planet Ores (the intergalactic capital planet) to claim her inheritance.In another attempt to lure Jupiter to him, Balem sends Greeghan (Ariyon Bakare) to kidnap Jupiter’s family. On the way back to Earth, Titus’s henchmen capture Jupiter and detains Caine, as punishment for not bringing Jupiter to him as promised. Titus reveals to Caine his plan to marry and kill Jupiter and claim Earth. He then throws Caine into the void; but Caine survives and returns with Stinger to save Jupiter at the altar before she signs her life away to Titus. Jupiter asks to return home, but learns that her family has been taken hostage by Balem. In his refinery in the Great Red Spot, Balem demands Earth in exchange for Jupiter’s family. Realizing that Balem can “harvest” Earth only with her permission, Jupiter refuses. Caine infiltrates the refinery and damages its gravity hull, causing the refinery to begin collapsing. While the occupants evacuate the refinery, Tsing’s ship moves in and rescues Jupiter’s family.Jupiter survives the collapsing structures, only to land at the feet of Balem who tries to kill her; but she fights him off, and is rescued by Caine while Balem falls to his death. As the refinery is in its final stages of collapse, Tsing opens a portal to Earth and prepares to evacuate, potentially leaving Caine and Jupiter behind. However, she is relieved to find that they have survived and crossed the portal along with Tsing’s ship. Jupiter’s family is returned home with no memory of their disappearance, while Jupiter secretly retains ownership of the Earth. Caine’s rank with the Aegis is restored, and he and Jupiter begin a relationship.A surprisingly good sci-fi, if you are into that sort of thing. If you aren’t an SF geek, then it probably won’t appeal, as it didn’t to the critics. A tricky plot but not bad once you got into it. Think watching it thru again is advisable.

REVIEW: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

CAST

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury)
Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs)
Alison Sudol (Other Peoples Children)
Colin Farrell (Phone Booth)
Carmen Ejogo (The Purge: Anarchy)
Ezra Miller (batman V Superman)
Samantha Morton (Minority report)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Jon Voight (Transformers)
Ronan Raftery (Crossing Lines)
Johnny Depp (Dark Shadows)
Jenn Murray (Brooklyn)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)

In 1926 the British wizard and “magizoologist” Newt Scamander arrives by ship to New York City en route to Arizona. He encounters Mary Lou Barebone, a non-magical woman (“No-Maj” or “Muggle”) who heads the New Salem Philanthropic Society, which claims that witches and wizards are real and dangerous. As Newt listens to her speak, a Niffler escapes from his magically expanded suitcase, which houses multiple magical creatures. As he attempts to capture it, he meets No-Maj cannery worker and aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski, and they accidentally swap suitcases. Demoted Auror (a hunter of dark wizards) Tina Goldstein arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard and takes him to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) headquarters, hoping to regain her former position. However, as Jacob’s suitcase contains only baked goods, Newt is released. At Jacob’s tenement apartment, several creatures escape from Newt’s suitcase.After Tina and Newt find Jacob and the suitcase, Tina takes them to her apartment and introduces them to Queenie, her Legilimens sister. Queenie and Jacob are mutually attracted, though American wizards are forbidden to marry or even socially interact with No-Majs. Newt takes Jacob inside his magically expanded suitcase, where Jacob encounters a contained Obscurus, a dark, destructive parasite that develops inside magically gifted children if they suppress their magical abilities. Newt extracted it from a young girl who has died, those afflicted rarely living past the age of ten. Newt persuades Jacob to help search for the missing creatures. After re-capturing two of the three escaped beasts, they re-enter the suitcase, which Tina takes to MACUSA. Officials arrest them, believing one of Newt’s beasts is responsible for killing Senator Henry Shaw Jr. They decide to destroy Newt’s suitcase and erase Jacob’s recent memories. Director of Magical Security Percival Graves accuses Newt of conspiring with the infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Newt and Tina are sentenced to immediate death, but Queenie and Jacob rescue them. Thanks to the help of Goblin gangster Gnarlack, Tina’s old informant, the foursome then find and re-capture the last of the creatures.Meanwhile, Percival Graves approaches Credence Barebone, Mary Lou’s adopted son, and offers to free him from his abusive mother. In exchange, he wants Credence to find an Obscurus. Graves believes it has caused the mysterious destructive incidents around the city. Credence finds a wand under his adopted-sister, Modesty’s, bed. Mary Lou assumes it is Credence’s wand, but Modesty claims it is hers. When she is about to be punished, the Obscurus is unleashed, killing everyone except Modesty and Credence. Graves arrives and dismisses Credence as being a Squib (a non-magical person of wizard ancestry), and refuses to teach him magic. Credence reveals he is the Obscurus’ host, having lived longer than any other host due to the intensity of his magic. In a rage, he unleashes the Obscurus upon the city.Newt finds Credence hiding in a subway tunnel, but he is attacked by Graves. Tina, who knows Credence, arrives and attempts to calm him, while Graves tries to convince Credence to listen to him. As Credence begins to settle into human form Aurors arrive. They apparently disintegrate him to protect the magical society, but a tiny Obscurus fragment escapes. Graves admits to unleashing the Obscurus to expose the magical community to the No-Majs, and angrily claims that MACUSA protects the No-Majs more than themselves. After being subdued by one of Newt’s beasts, he is revealed as Grindelwald in disguise and taken into custody by MACUSA Aurors.MACUSA fears their secret world has been exposed, but Newt releases his Thunderbird to disperse a poultice as rainfall over the city that erases all New Yorkers’ recent memories as MACUSA wizards repair the destruction. Queenie kisses Jacob goodbye as the rain erases his memories. Newt departs for Europe, but promises to return and visit Tina when his book is finished; he also anonymously leaves Jacob a case of silver Occamy eggshells to fund his bakery. His breads and pastries are unknowingly inspired by Newt’s creatures, and Queenie visits him in his shop.Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them stands perfect on its own and doesn’t need Harry Potter or any of the planned movies to get you invested in its story and yet it is an obligation for every J.K. Rowling wizarding world-fan to go see this movie. The director David Yates found this perfect balance and ended up with a result that has to be seen in theaters by everyone.

REVIEW: THE GOOD SHEPHERD

CAST

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Alec Baldwin (Mission: Impossible 5)
William Hurt (The Host)
Joe Pesci (Home Alone)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Tammy Blanchard (Into The Wood)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Timothy Hutton (Secret Window)
Keir Dullea (Black Christmas)
Gabriel Macht (Suits)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)

A photograph and an audio recording on reel-to-reel tape are dropped off anonymously at the home of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), a senior CIA officer, after the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba fails due to an undisclosed leak. In 1939 Edward is at Yale University and is invited to join Skull and Bones, a secret society. He is compelled to disclose a secret as part of his initiation: he reveals that as a young boy in 1925 he discovered the suicide note left by his father, Thomas (Timothy Hutton), although he says he never read it. After the ceremony, a fraternity brother tells him that Edward’s father, an admiral, was to be chosen as Secretary of the Navy, until his loyalties were questioned. Afterwards Edward is recruited by an FBI agent, Sam Murach (Alec Baldwin), who claims that Edward’s poetry professor, Dr. Fredericks (Michael Gambon), is a Nazi spy, asking Edward to expose his professor’s background. Edward’s actions result in Dr. Fredericks’ forced resignation from the university.

Edward begins a relationship with a deaf student named Laura (Tammy Blanchard), but while on Deer Island, Edward meets his friend John Russel’s (Gabriel Macht) family and is later aggressively seduced by his sister Margaret ‘Clover’ Russell (Angelina Jolie). General Bill Sullivan (Robert De Niro) asks Edward to join the OSS, offering him a post in London. Later while Edward and Laura are at the beach, Margaret’s brother privately reveals that she is pregnant, so Edward marries her. At the wedding reception Edward accepts the London OSS office position, while his new wife remains in the United States. In London he meets Dr. Fredericks again, who is actually with British intelligence. An intelligence officer in the British SOE, Arch Cummings (Billy Crudup), tells Edward that Fredericks’ indiscriminate homosexual relationships pose a security risk. Edward is asked to deal with his mentor, who refuses to protect himself by returning to teaching. Shortly afterwards, he is brutally killed and his body is dumped into the Thames, all while Edward watches.In post-war Berlin, where both Allies and Soviets are recruiting German scientists. Edward encounters his Soviet counterpart, code named “Ulysses”, for the first time. After learning from his son, Edward Jr., during a phone call home that his wife is having an affair, Edward has a one-night stand with interpreter Hanna Schiller (Martina Gedeck); the same night, he realizes she is a Soviet agent and she is killed. Edward returns home to his wife and son. His wife confesses her adultery, and Edward confesses his. General Sullivan approaches Edward again to help form a new foreign intelligence organization – the CIA – where he would work with his former colleague, Richard Hayes (Lee Pace), under Phillip Allen (William Hurt). Edward accepts, hiding the details of his position from everyone but his wife.Edward’s first assignment deals with coffee in Central America where the Russians are trying to gain influence. Edward spots Ulysses in the background of footage of the country’s leader, but doesn’t disclose this. Edward arranges for airplanes to fly over and release locusts during a public event where the Russians (including Ulysses) are present in order to intimidate the Central American leader. An American agent’s severed finger is sent to Edward in a coffee can. At a Christmas party, Edward’s son wets himself. At the same party, General Sullivan tells Edward that Phillip Allen was going to be on the Mayan Coffee Company’s board of directors, prompting Edward to ask Sam Murach to look into Phillip’s finances.A Russian man requests asylum and claims to be high-ranking KGB agent Valentin Mironov. While attending the theater with Mironov and Cummings, Edward encounters his former sweetheart, Laura. They begin seeing each other again. Sometime later, Margaret receives photos of Laura and Edward getting into a taxi together and kissing. After she confronts him, Edward ends the relationship with Laura. Another Russian defector appears, claiming that he is the real Valentin Mironov, the other man being an impostor called Yuri Modin, a KGB operative working for Ulysses. Thinking he is lying, agents torture him, and administer liquid LSD believing it to be a potential truth serum. The second defector does not break, instead telling them how the Soviets’ power is just a myth, before hurling himself through a window and down several stories. The first man claiming to be Valentin Mironov, who has watched the entire ordeal together with Edward, offers to take LSD to prove his innocence, but Edward does not take him up on his offer. Edward visits his son, who has, like his father, joined the Skull and Bones society at Yale, and been approached by the CIA, which he joins despite his mother’s misgivings, widening the rift between his parents. Edward Jr. overhears his father and Hayes discussing the imminent Bay of Pigs invasion. His father warns him to be silent. Margaret leaves Edward.

Returning to the recording at the beginning of the story, detailed analysis points to Leopoldville, in the Congo. Having tracked down the room where the recording was made, Edward realizes that the source of the leak was his son speaking to his lover, revealed to be a Soviet agent by Ulysses when he appears and plays Edward an unedited version of the recording in an attempt to turn him. Edward confronts his son, who plans to marry the woman. Growing suspicious, Edward discovers evidence that Cummings and Mironov (really Yuri Modin) are double agents. Meeting Ulysses in the National Air and Space Museum, Edward finally refuses his offer, but argues that, having won in Cuba, there is nothing to be gained for the Soviets in hurting his son. On their wedding day, Edward Jr.’s fiancée is killed by being thrown out of the plane she was taking to the ceremony. When Edward Jr. asks if his father was responsible, he denies it.

Edward meets with Hayes at the new CIA headquarters still under construction. Allen is resigning under a cloud of financial improprieties, and the President has asked Hayes to be the new director. Hayes makes Edward the first head of counter-intelligence, an entire wing of new building. At home, Edward retrieves and reads his father’s suicide note. In the letter, his father confesses to having betrayed his country. Edward burns the note. The final scene shows Edward leaving his old office for the new position.

Some might wonder how so many actors could be recruited for such small roles, like Alec Baldwin, Michael Gambon, and Joe Pesci, but one only has to see as far as the director to get their answer. Don’t let the big names and the anagram CIA get you. This movie is as edgy as it is intricate with twists and turns that take the viewer through the world of trust and the human element. A man like Edward Wilson is just the perfect vessel for the journey.

REVIEW: THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL

CAST

Natalie Portman (Thor)
Scorlett Johansson (Lucy)
Eric Bana (Hanna)
Jim Sturgess (Across The Universe)
Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible)
David Morrissey (Basic Instinct 2)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

King Henry VIII’s (Eric Bana) marriage to Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent) does not produce a male heir to the throne; their only surviving daughter is Mary (Constance Stride). Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) and his brother in law Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance), plan to install Boleyn’s older daughter Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman), as the king’s mistress. They hope Anne will bear him a son. Anne’s mother, Lady Elizabeth Boleyn (Kristin Scott Thomas), is disgusted by the plot. Anne eventually agrees to please her father and uncle. Anne’s younger sister, Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson), marries William Carey (Benedict Cumberbatch), even though his family had asked for Anne’s hand.

While visiting the Boleyn estate, Henry is injured in a hunting accident, indirectly caused by Anne, and, urged by her scheming uncle, is nursed by Mary. While in her care, Henry becomes smitten with her and invites her to court. Mary and her husband reluctantly agree, aware that the king has invited her because he desires her. Mary and Anne become ladies-in-waiting to Queen Catherine and Henry sends William Carey abroad on an assignment. Separated from her husband, Mary finds herself falling in love with Henry. Anne secretly marries the nobleman Henry Percy (Oliver Coleman), although he is betrothed to Lady Mary Talbot. Anne confides in her brother George Boleyn (Jim Sturgess), who is overjoyed and proceeds to tell Mary. Fearing Anne will ruin the Boleyn family by marrying such a prominent earl without the king’s consent, Mary alerts her father and uncle. They confront Anne, annul the marriage, and exile her to France.

Mary becomes pregnant. Her family receives new grants and estates, their debts are paid, and Henry arranges George’s marriage to Jane Parker. When Mary nearly suffers a miscarriage, she is confined to bed until her child is born. Norfolk recalls Anne to England to keep Henry’s attention from wandering to another rival. In her belief that Mary exiled her to increase her own status, Anne successfully campaigns to win Henry over. When Mary gives birth to a son, Henry Carey, Thomas and Norfolk are overjoyed, but the celebration is short lived, as Anne whispered to Henry that the baby was born a bastard, which infuriates Norfolk. Henry then has Mary sent to the country at Anne’s request. Shortly after, Mary is widowed. Anne encourages Henry to break from the Catholic Church when the Pope refuses to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine. Henry succumbs to Anne’s demands, declares himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, and gets Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to annul the marriage.

Anne’s schemes drive Henry to the breaking point, and in a fit of rage, he rapes her. A pregnant Anne marries Henry to please her family and becomes Queen of England. Despite the birth of a healthy daughter, Elizabeth, Henry blames Anne for not producing a son, and begins courting Jane Seymour (Corinne Galloway) in secret. After Anne suffers the miscarriage of a son, she begs George to have sex with her to replace the child she lost, because if anyone found out about the miscarriage, she would be burned as a witch. George at first agrees, realizing that it is Anne’s only hope, but they do not go through with it. However, George’s neglected wife Jane witnesses enough of their encounter to become suspicious. She reports what she has seen and both Anne and George are arrested. The two are found guilty and sentenced to death for treason, adultery and incest. Distraught by the news of the execution of George, his mother disowns her husband and brother, vowing never to forgive them for what their greed has done to her children.

After Mary learns that she was late for George’s execution, she returns to court to plead for Anne’s life. Believing that Henry will spare her sister, she leaves to see Anne right before the scheduled execution. Anne asks Mary to take care of her daughter Elizabeth if anything should happen to her. Mary watches from the crowd as Anne makes her final speech, waiting for the execution to be cancelled as Henry promised. A letter from Henry is given to Mary, warning her not to come to his court further, and implicitly revealing his decision to execute Anne after all. Ten days after Anne’s execution, Henry and Jane are married, Norfolk is imprisoned, and the next three generations of his family are executed for treason. Mary marries William Stafford (Eddie Redmayne) and they have two children, Anne and Edward. Mary takes an active role in raising Anne’s daughter Elizabeth (Maisie Smith), who grows up to become Queen of England, and reigns for 44 years.

An interesting take on the story of the Boleyn sisters (who did both have a relationship with Henry), and if it encourages more people to find out about the real historical events then in my opinion that can only be a good thing. Henry’s relationship with Anne changed England through his break with the catholic church, and is both fascinating and tragic.