REVIEW: SHUTTER ISLAND

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers Assemble)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Patricia Clarkson (Easy A)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs_
Elias Koteas (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

In 1954, U.S. Marshals Edward “Teddy” Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule travel to the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island in Boston Harbor. They are investigating the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando, who was incarcerated for drowning her three children. Their only clue is a cryptic note found hidden in Solando’s room: “The law of 4; who is 67?” They arrive just before a storm hits, preventing their return to the mainland for a few days.Daniels and Aule find the staff confrontational. Dr. John Cawley, the lead psychiatrist, refuses to turn over records, and they learn that Solando’s doctor Lester Sheehan left the island on vacation immediately after Solando disappeared. They are given access to the hospital, but they are told that Ward C is off limits and that the lighthouse has already been searched. While being interviewed, one patient secretly writes the word “RUN” in Daniels’ notepad. Daniels starts to have migraine headaches from the hospital’s atmosphere and experiences waking visions of his involvement in the Dachau liberation reprisals. He has disturbing dreams of his wife Dolores Chanal, who was killed in a fire set by a local arsonist named Andrew Laeddis. In one instance, she tells him that Solando is still on the island somewhere—as is Laeddis, who everyone claims was never there to begin with. Daniels later explains to Aule that locating Laeddis was an ulterior personal motive for taking the case.During their investigation, Daniels and Aule find that Solando has abruptly resurfaced with no explanation as to her former whereabouts or how she escaped. This prompts Daniels to break into the restricted Ward C. There he encounters George Noyce, a patient in solitary confinement. Noyce warns him that the doctors are performing questionable experiments on the patients, some of whom are taken to the lighthouse to be lobotomized. Noyce warns Daniels that everyone else on the island is playing an elaborate game specifically designed for Daniels—including his partner Aule.Daniels regroups with Aule and is determined to investigate the lighthouse. They become separated while climbing the cliffs toward it, and Daniels later sees what he believes to be Aule’s body on the rocks below. By the time he climbs down, however, the body has disappeared, but he finds a cave where he discovers a woman in hiding who claims to be the real Rachel Solando. She states that she is a former psychiatrist at the hospital who discovered the experiments with psychotropic medication and trans-orbital lobotomy in an attempt to develop mind control techniques. Before she could report her findings to the authorities, however, she was forcibly committed to Ashecliffe as a patient. Daniels returns to the hospital, but finds no evidence of Aule ever being there.Daniels is convinced that Aule was taken to the lighthouse; he breaks into it only to discover Cawley calmly waiting there for him. Cawley explains that Daniels is actually Andrew Laeddis, their “most dangerous patient” incarcerated in Ward C for murdering his manic depressive wife Dolores Chanal after she drowned their children. Edward Daniels and Rachel Solando are anagrams of Andrew Laeddis and Dolores Chanal; furthermore, the little girl from Laeddis’ recurring dreams is his daughter Rachel.According to Cawley, the events of the past several days have been designed to break Laeddis’ conspiracy-laden insanity by allowing him to play out the role of Daniels. The hospital staff were part of the test, including Dr. Sheehan posing as Aule and a nurse posing as Rachel Solando. The migraines that Laeddis suffered were withdrawal symptoms from his medication, as were the hallucinations of the “real Rachel Solando”. Overwhelmed, Laeddis faints. Laeddis awakens in the hospital under watch of Cawley and Sheehan. When questioned, he tells the truth in a coherent manner, which satisfies the doctors as a sign of progression. Nevertheless, Cawley notes that they had achieved this state nine months before but Laeddis had quickly regressed, and further warns that this will be his last chance to redeem himself.Some time later, Laeddis relaxes on the hospital grounds with Dr. Sheehan, but he calls him “Chuck” and says that they need to leave the island. Sheehan shakes his head to an observing Cawley, who gestures to the orderlies towards Laeddis. Laeddis asks Dr. Sheehan if it is worse to live as a monster or die as a good man, and is then led away by the orderlies.Shutter Island iS a film that will make you question your own sanity. A film that will leave you breathless. A film that has re-ignited the thriller genre. A film that will leave you, and the main character, searching for answers.

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REVIEW: OUR IDIOT BROTHER

CAST

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real girl)
Steeve Coogan (Alan Partridge)
Rashida Jones (The Muppets)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
Shirley Knight (As Good As It gets)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Janet Montgomery (Black Swan)

Ned Rochlin (Paul Rudd) is a biodynamic farmer living with his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn). While selling produce at a local market, Ned sells marijuana to a uniformed police officer due to the officer’s claim that he had a stressful week, which made Ned feel sympathetic after initially being skeptical. Ned is then arrested on a charge of selling drugs.Ned has three sisters: Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) the middle sister, is a journalist for Vanity Fair trying to get her first major article published. Though she has trouble finding a man to keep her interest, she and a neighbor, Jeremy (Adam Scott) have hidden feelings for each other. Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), the youngest, is an independent, bisexual hipster living with her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones), and five other roommates. Liz (Emily Mortimer), the oldest, is married to Dylan (Steve Coogan), a documentary filmmaker. Their marriage is failing as Dylan shows no sexual or emotional interest in Liz. They also have strict control over their son River (Matthew Mindler), which leaves him unhappy and unable to express himself.When Ned is released from prison, he returns home to his girl and his dog (“Willie Nelson”). He finds that she is living with Billy (T. J. Miller), and no longer wishes to continue their relationship or allow him to work at the farm. Billy gives Ned a ride into town and tells him that if he can scrape together $1000 for the first 2 months rent, Janet might let him stay in the goat barn behind the farm. Ned initially stays at his mother’s house but a few days later shows up at Liz’s place, asking if he can stay with her. He is put in River’s room and told that he must help around the house and work with Dylan on his newest documentary about a Russian ballerina named Tatiana (Lydia Haug).The next day, Miranda reluctantly asks Ned to chauffeur while she interviews an important client, Lady Arabella (Janet Montgomery). Miranda hopes to pry into her scandalous past, but is dismayed to learn of a legal agreement to only ask about charity work. Miranda tries to pretend Ned isn’t there, but his friendliness charms Arabella, who takes a liking to him. That night, Ned goes with Natalie to a self-help meeting with Natalie’s artist friend, Christian (Hugh Dancy). Christian is attracted to Natalie but is dissuaded by her lesbian relationship until Ned informs him that she is bisexual and likes guys too. Christian and Natalie take a cab home and end up having sex.Ned goes back to working with Dylan, but is told to watch the car while Dylan conducts a private interview with Tatiana. Hours later, Ned is told by a police officer to move out of a tow zone. Running upstairs to get the keys he discovers Dylan naked with Tatiana. Dylan later says the only reason he was naked was to make Tatiana feel more “comfortable” while being naked, which Ned believes. The next night, Ned goes with Miranda to Arabella’s benefit dinner, and stays behind to have a conversation with Arabella. She explains the gossipy part of her life (that Miranda had hoped to discover) to Ned, who listens with interest. Ned is later kicked out of Liz’s house because, at an important school interview, River tells the interviewer that Ned just got out of jail for selling drugs to a policeman. Ned apologizes, stating he was only trying to help River be himself. Now staying with Miranda, Ned casually mentions Dylan’s nude interview with Tatiana and Miranda concludes that Dylan is having an affair. Ned also mentions a personal detail about Arabella that makes Miranda realize that Ned has the info she needs. She forces Ned to tell her the details, which Ned is ashamed to do since he was trusted. Ned returns to the farm with the rent money but Janet doesn’t allow him to rent the barn, or leave with his dog.Ned asks Cindy, who is a lawyer, about ways to get custody of his dog but she suggests as an alternative that they work together to simply take the dog from Janet. He later goes out to lunch with Jeremy and hints at Jeremy’s attraction towards his sister. Jeremy explains that Miranda is too bossy for him, though admitting she is beautiful. Ned mentions the idea to Miranda, who is hurt to learn what Jeremy had to say and tells Ned her thoughts on Jeremy, leading to a fight between the two. Natalie later confides in Ned that she is pregnant. Miranda and Nat try to tell Liz about Dylan’s affair but Liz becomes angry and the conversation turns into an argument between the three about their personal lives. Liz later confronts Dylan about the affair, and he blames her attempts at pleasing him. Liz is angry that he is blaming her for his infidelity, and divorces him.Miranda takes Ned into work the next day as she needs him to vouch for the veracity of her article. Ned reads the article but doesn’t want to sign a release as he knows Arabella had told him the details in confidence. The editor calls in the company lawyer and decide they can’t publish Miranda’s article without Ned vouching for it, which he refuses to do. She kicks Ned out and he stays with Nat, who lies about having told Cindy about the cheating. The next morning, Cindy and Ned drive to the farm to steal his dog back. They sneak into the house but Ned casually brings up Nat’s infidelity and Cindy angrily calls Nat from inside the house, which alerts Janet to their presence. Janet refuses to give Ned his dog and Cindy drives away, leaving Ned behind.Ned goes to his parole officer, Omar, and thinking he can trust him, tells him that the stress of his life was getting to him and he smoked marijuana with a neighbor. Omar tells Ned now he must report him. Ned goes home to a family dinner and is blamed by his sisters for all the trouble in their lives. Ned finally loses his temper and yells at them for their selfishness and for bringing everyone else down which seems to strike a chord with them. Omar arrives with an officer to reluctantly take Ned into custody. Miranda posts Ned’s bail, but he refuses to sign his release form, opting to stay in prison rather than be with the girls. They devise a plan to get Willie Nelson from Janet in order to get him to leave. Although Janet refuses, Billy comes out of the house carrying Willie Nelson, tired of Janet refusing to give Ned his dog. They take Willie Nelson to the prison where he is reunited with Ned, motivating him to leave prison.A few weeks later, Ned is out to lunch with his sisters. Nat receives a call from Cindy, who wants to go with Nat to her gynecologist appointments for support. Miranda has patched things up and started a relationship with Jeremy. Liz has decided to start dating again and has started letting River be himself. Meanwhile, Ned and Billy have opened up a small homemade candle shop together. One day, Ned cannot find Willie Nelson and begins running through town looking for him. He finds Willie playing with another dog who has also run away from her owner. The owner comes up and when Ned asks her dog’s name, she replies “Dolly Parton” to which Ned says his dog is “Willie Nelson”, and they both smile.A fun ride throughout, the film only has a couple of weak spots. But still an entertaining Comedy.

 

REVIEW: THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY

CAST

Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Brenda Blethyn (Atonement)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Bob Hoskins (Hollywoodland)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)

A young and naive Englishman, John Truscott (Hugh Dancy), goes to the British colony of Sarawak, Borneo, to try to apply his father’s work to the Iban society. There he meets his boss Henry Bullard (Bob Hoskins) and his wife Aggie Bullard (Brenda Blethyn). John tries to civilize them, building schools and providing education for the Iban people. He is met with unfamiliar local customs. Selima (Jessica Alba) becomes his “sleeping dictionary”, who sleeps with him and teaches him the language and the habits of the locals. John is sent up river where a sickness is affecting the Yakata tribe. He and Selima travel inland. John witnesses a nearby mining operation run by Europeans. He notices that the Yakata have rice – which has been given to them by the miners – and he guesses correctly that the miners have poisoned the rice in order to get rid of the Yakata. Knowing that they will exact vengeance, John tells the Yakata what has happened. The Yakata wipe out the miners.Despite their intents, the two find themselves falling into a forbidden love. John is eager to marry Selima despite the longhouse not allowing it. When John tells Henry about his plans to marry her, they lock Selima up. Selima then agrees to marry in the longhouse and they part ways. Bullard threatens to send him to trial for the death of the European miners. He makes a deal with John. John has to give up Selima, and go to Britain for a year’s vacation and to meet the Bullards’ daughter Cecilia. Another local British official, Neville Shipperly (Noah Taylor), a boorish drunk and a man who despises the locals, is jealous of John because he had planned to win Cecilia as his own. A year later, John is seen marrying Cecilia. He still struggles to get over his past with his sleeping dictionary. With Cecilia, he decides the best thing to do is go back to Sarawak to continue his work there. Returning to Sarawak, Cecilia notices John’s desire for Selima with his constant distance from her. Cecilia demands to know more about Selima and John replies by saying that she is married to Belansai and that the couple have a baby together.While at the lake collecting rocks for research, John sees Selima with a baby. He believes the child to be his and asks Famous to arrange a meeting with the pair. Soon back at the house, Selima walks in, unaware that John is there. John begs to see his son and soon Selima walks away not before John can stop them. Here, John meets his son Manda for the first time. When Belansai hears news that John is spending time with his wife, he sneaks in to try to kill John but only manages to hurt him with a razor. The next morning, Henry reveals to John his past about his own ‘sleeping dictionary’, which resulted in the birth of another child: Selima. When Belansai is caught for trying to kill an officer, he is sentenced to be hanged. Selima is not happy that Belansai will be killed as he’s been a good father to Manda. Not wanting to kill Belansai, a friend of his, John goes through with announcing Belansai’s hanging as he had no other option. Later that night, Selima tries to break Belansai out, not knowing John is already there. When she walks over to the jail cell, she sees John breaking Belansai out and handing him a gun. As Belansai escapes, John asks Selima to meet him at the dock so they can escape on the boat. Selima tells him he won’t come as they’ll catch him. John turns to Selima and says “Then I’ll tell them I’d rather have you than a country… or a language… or a history”. They embrace as the rain is pouring behind them.The next day, since the people of the Longhouse have turned on Selima, she is forced to become the sleeping dictionary for Neville. Later Cecilia announces she is pregnant, shocking John. That night, Selima bashes Neville on the head, knocking him out, because he has attempted to attack her and force her. She grabs the baby and runs from the house, heading for the docks. Although John still has plans to be with Selima and their son, he begins writing a note but stops as Cecilia catches him. The couple then talk about John’s love for Selima and how Cecilia wants John to be happy. Aggie is not happy that Cecilia and Henry have allowed both John and Selima to run away together because she never left Henry’s sight, fearing he’d go with his sleeping dictionary. She encourages Neville to go after them. With the help of Famous and the Yakata, John searches for Selima as she’s left believing that John didn’t come to the place of arrangement. They reunite as Neville comes through with a gun. He tells them to cuff themselves around the bamboos and tells them of his plans to kill John, Selima and their baby. They’re then rescued by the Yakata, who kill Neville. At the end, they decide to live together and migrate with the Yakata.What a magnificent surprise “The Sleeping Dictionary” was for me, indeed a wonderful romance, with action and drama and an adorable story of difference of cultures, seduction and secrets. Jessica Alba and Hugh Dancy have stunning performances, showing a delightful chemistry. Brenda Blethyn and Bob Hoskins are excellent, as usual, and Noah Taylor, as the nasty Neville, Emily Mortimer, as the sweet Cecil and Eugene Salleh, as Belansai, are also fantastic. Certainly, Jessica Alba is better and better than Webster’s and American Heritage Dictionaries. Definitely, “The Sleeping Dictionary” is a must-see movie for any audience.

REVIEW: SCREAM 3

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (The Princvess Diaries)
Beth Toussaint (Red Eye)
Richamond Arquette (Zodiac)
Patrick Dempsey (Transformers 3)
Scott Foley (Felicity)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men)
Emily Mortimer (Hugo)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Kevin Smith (Mallrats)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)

Jenny-McCarthy-Scream-3Three years after the events of the previous film, Cotton Weary, now living in Los Angeles and the host of a nationally syndicated television show, 100% Cotton, is called by Ghostface, who demands the whereabouts of Sidney Prescott, who has gone into hiding ever since the Windsor College murders. Cotton refuses to cooperate, and when Ghostface comes to his home, Cotton and his girlfriend Christine are murdered.S3Detective Mark Kincaid contacts Gale Weathers to discuss the murders, prompting her to travel to Hollywood, where she finds Dewey Riley working as an adviser on the set of Stab 3, the third film in the film within a film series based on the Ghostface murders. Using a voice changer as a ruse, Ghostface kills Stab 3 actress Sarah Darling. Meanwhile, Sidney is now living in seclusion as a crisis counselor for an abused women’s hotline, as she is fearful that another killer may strike. Having discovered Sidney’s number, the killer begins taunting her by phone, forcing her out of hiding and drawing her to Hollywood. As the remaining Stab 3 cast, along with Dewey and Gale, gather at the home of Jennifer Jolie, Ghostface murders her bodyguard and uses a gas leak to cause an explosion, killing fellow actor Tom Prinze in the process. Martha Meeks, the sister of Sidney’s deceased friend Randy, visits Sidney and the others to drop off a videotape that Randy had made before his death, posthumously warning them that the rules of a horror film franchise in the third and final film do not apply to anyone, and that any of them, including the main character (Sidney), could die.scream-3-campbellDewey, Gale, Jennifer, and the remaining Stab 3 actors, Angelina and Tyson, attend a birthday party for Stab 3’s director Roman Bridger, where Ghostface strikes. Gale discovers Roman’s seemingly dead body in the basement. Angelina, refusing to stick with Gale and Jennifer, wanders off alone before she is murdered. Tyson attempts to fight Ghostface but the killer manages to wound him before throwing him off a balcony to his death. Jennifer tries to escape through a secret passage, but Ghostface kills her. The killer then orders Sidney to the mansion to save Gale and Dewey, who are being held hostage. When she arrives, Ghostface forces Sidney to remove her firearm and lures her inside, as Gale and Dewey are bound and gagged with duct tape. As Sidney is untying Gale and Dewey, Ghostface appears, though Sidney gains the upper hand using a second hidden gun to fight off Ghostface. Detective Kincaid shows up but is knocked unconscious by Ghostface.scream-DI-3Sidney flees and hides in a secret screening room where she encounters Ghostface. He reveals himself as Roman, having faked his death and survived being shot due to a bulletproof vest. Roman admits to being Sidney’s half-brother, born to their mother Maureen Prescott when she was an actress in Hollywood. Years ago, he had unsuccessfully tried reuniting with her. Bitter over the rejection, Roman would film all the men she philandered with. He showed Billy Loomis the footage of his father with Maureen, which motivated him to kill her (thus setting off the events in Scream and Scream 2). However, when he discovered how much fame Sidney had attracted due to those events, Roman snapped and lured Sidney out of hiding.Roman then tells Sidney of his plan to frame her for the murders, before killing Stab producer John Milton. Sidney angrily tells Roman that he is responsible for all of the events that have occurred. A fight ensues between Sidney and Roman, ending when Roman shoots Sidney in the chest, seemingly killing her. While preparing for Gale and Dewey to arrive, Sidney disappears, giving her the upper hand to stab Roman in the back. As he slowly dies, Sidney shows him that she too was wearing a bulletproof vest. She then plunges Roman’s knife into his chest, apparently killing him. Dewey and Gale arrive before Roman recovers, only for Dewey to finally kill him. Sometime after, Dewey proposes to Gale, who accepts. Sidney arrives back at her home and is invited to join Dewey, Gale, and Detective Kincaid to watch a movie. As she goes to join the others, a door behind her opens, but she walks away leaving it as is, finally confident that the murders have ended and she is now safe.The suspense of the film is quite good and the audience is continually left guessing who the murderer might be. The killing scenes are at times graphic but will often leave viewers on the edge of their seats. Wes Craven unquestionably proves his mettle as a master of horror and suspense and does a good job of crowning off the trilogy with a good film. While many other horror franchises, including Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street have gone on to boast a series of eight or more films, Craven deserves a great amount of credit for making the film into a trilogy and settling there. This film does have a number of parallels with “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” the first horror film in the genre to truly deconstruct the genre from within, but even for those who have seen “New Nightmare,” Scream 3 is still a very enjoyable film

REVIEW: REDBELT

CAST

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Tim Allen (Last Man Standing)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (The Walking Dead)
Randy Couture (The Scorpian King 2)
Caroline Correa (Go Big)
Ricky Jay (Mystery Men)
Joe Mantegna (The Rat Pack)
Max Martini (The Town)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing)
Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

While closing his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio one evening, martial arts teacher Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is approached by attorney Laura Black (Emily Mortimer), who is seeking the owner of the vehicle she accidentally sideswiped. Off-duty police officer Joe Collins (Max Martini), who was receiving a private lesson from Mike, sees that Laura is distressed and tries to take her coat. Startled, Laura grabs Joe’s gun and it goes off, shattering the studio’s front window. To avoid having Laura charged with attempted murder, Mike and Joe agree to conceal the event.Mike’s insurance, however, will not cover his act of God claim that the window was broken by a strong wind. Mike’s wife Sondra (Alice Braga), whose fashion business profits are the only thing keeping the struggling studio afloat, requests that Mike ask for a loan from her brother Ricardo (John Machado), a mixed martial arts champion. At Ricardo’s nightclub, Mike meets with Sondra’s other brother, Bruno (Rodrigo Santoro), and learns that Joe quit as the club’s bouncer because Bruno never paid him. Mike confronts Bruno about the situation but is rebuffed. Mike then declines Bruno’s offer to fight on the undercard of an upcoming match between Ricardo and Japanese legend Morisaki (Enson Inoue), which could potentially pay out $50,000. Mike believes competitions with money as the incentive are not honorable and weaken the fighter.Meanwhile, aging Hollywood action star Chet Frank (Tim Allen) enters the nightclub without security and is accosted by a man with a broken bottle. Mike intervenes and subdues three men in the process. The following day, Mike receives an expensive watch and an invitation to dinner from Chet. Mike gives the watch to Joe to pawn in lieu of his unpaid salary at the nightclub. At the dinner party, Chet’s wife Zena (Rebecca Pidgeon) arranges an informal business deal to buy a large amount of dresses from Sondra’s company. Chet, impressed by Mike, invites him to the set of his current film. As Mike and Sondra leave the dinner, Mike explains his unique training method to Chet’s business associate Jerry Weiss (Joe Mantegna). Before a sparring match, each fighter must draw one of three marbles, two white and one black; whoever draws a black marble has to fight with a handicap.Mike uses his military experience to answer a few technical questions for Chet on the film set and is offered the role of co-producer. That evening, Mike faxes the details of his training methods to Jerry so they can be used in the film. Joe arrives at the studio and informs Mike that he was suspended from duty for pawning the watch, which turned out to be stolen. During their dinner that evening, Mike relays the information to Jerry who excuses himself to handle the matter, but never returns. At home, Mike learns that the phone numbers that Zena gave Sondra have been disconnected. Sondra is panicky, having borrowed $30,000 from a loan shark to order the fabric for the dresses. As he meets with the loan shark to discuss an extension, Mike notices Bruno and Marty Brown (Ricky Jay) on television using Mike’s marble-drawing method as a promotional gimmick for the undercard fights of Ricardo’s match.Mike hires Laura to sue, but Marty’s lawyer threatens that if they do not drop the lawsuit, he will give the police an empty shell casing with Laura’s fingerprints, as proof that she attempted to kill an off-duty cop. He also threatens Mike as a witness who covered up the crime by bribing the cop with a stolen watch. When told of the situation, Joe feels responsible and kills himself. Mike feels obligated to help Joe’s financially struggling wife and, in desperate need of money himself, decides to compete as an undercard fighter in the upcoming competition. At the arena, Mike discovers the fights are being fixed via a magician (Cyril Takayama) using sleight of hand to surreptitiously switch the white and black marbles. Disgusted by this revelation, Mike confronts the conspirators: Marty, Jerry and Bruno who confirm that unknown to the competitors, the fights are handicapped by the fight promoters so as to ensure winning bets. They also reveal that Ricardo is intentionally losing the fight to Morisaki so they can make money on the rematch. Jerry tells Mike that Sondra is the one who told them about Laura shooting the window and Bruno justifies her betrayal by explaining that his sister is too smart to stay with someone who cannot provide for her.As Mike is exiting the arena, he meets Laura. Their conversation is not audible, but it ends with Laura slapping Mike. Mike then re-enters the arena. He incapacitates several security guards trying to stop him and is ultimately engaged by Ricardo. The audience and camera crews take notice as Mike and Ricardo face off in the arena’s corridors. Inspired by the Professor (Dan Inosanto), an elderly martial arts master attending the match, Mike manages to slip a difficult choke hold and defeats Ricardo, making it onto the ring to speak to the Professor personally. He is approached by Morisaki, who offers Mike his ivory-studded belt, previously referred to as a Japanese national treasure, as a sign of respect. He is then approached by the Professor himself, who proceeds to award the coveted red belt to an incredulous Mike, and embraces him, acknowledging his dedication to the art.Red Belt doesn’t fail at being an action flick; it just succeeds more so at being an entertaining drama with an MMA theme. This is an easy movie to recommend.

 

 

REVIEW: SPECTRAL

CAST

James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The real Girl)
Max Martini (The Town)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Clayne Crawford (Lethal Weapon TV)
Cory Hardrict (Battle: Los Angeles)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (Predators)
Jimmy Akingbola (Anansi)

DARPA researcher Dr. Mark Clyne is flown to Moldova, where the US military is currently deployed in the ongoing Moldovan War, as his expertise is required regarding a line of hyperspectral imaging goggles of his design that have been issued to troops there. After arriving at a US Military Air Base on the outskirts of Chișinău, he meets with General Orland and CIA officer Fran Madison. He is shown footage captured by the troops’ goggles of a mysterious, translucent, humanoid apparition that kills almost instantly. Knowing it is not interference, Orland wants Clyne’s expert opinion before forwarding the findings and footage to his superiors. Conversely, Madison believes the sightings to be members of the insurgency wearing an advanced form of active camouflage and has orders from her superiors to retrieve a sample.To get a clearer shot of the anomalies and identify them, both Clyne and Madison are sent into the field with a team of Delta Force operators, who are being sent to find Utah team, who went missing the day before. To capture a better image of the apparitions, Clyne mounts a large version of the hyper spectral camera onto one of the armoured personnel carriers. Upon arriving at the location and discovering all of Utah team has been killed, they are ambushed by the apparitions, who, being impervious to small arms fire and explosives, inflict heavy casualties before the soldiers retreat. When their vehicles are rendered inoperable by landmines, the group takes cover in an abandoned factory, where they find two children barricaded. The apparitions attempt to follow them but are stopped by a barrier of iron shavings. The children share that their father scattered the shavings to protect his children before he was killed. The survivors make contact with the air base and a rendezvous is set up. Clyne modifies the hyper spectral camera, turning it into a large searchlight, which enables the group to see the apparitions without the need for goggles. Later, he supplies the unit with IEDs laced with iron shavings. Fortified with these new weapons, the group sets out for the rendezvous point, about a half-mile away from the factory.After exiting the factory, the group is chased by apparitions, who are slowed but not destroyed by the iron explosives. The group is met by reinforcements and a helicopter evac at a large abandoned plaza. However, they are ambushed by the apparitions and are barely able to escape as the figures proceed to destroy the tanks and kill the soldiers sent as backup. In the air, they receive word from Orland the apparitions have overrun the Air Base, so they are redirected to a civilian bunker controlled by the allied Moldovan military. Clyne theorises the apparitions are likely man-made and are made of Bose-Einstein condensate, which explains their ability to move through walls, freeze people to death, and why they are halted by iron shavings and ceramic materials (hence their inability to enter tanks). Working overnight with Orland and surviving military engineers, he constructs several makeshift pulse weapons capable of breaking down the condensate. The next morning, the remaining American soldiers are armed with the weapons and sent to a power plant in the center of the city, as Clyne believes it is the only facility capable of generating the power needed to create the condensate.While the soldiers mount an offensive on the roof of the plant, Clyne and Madison discover a recently abandoned laboratory inside. They deduce that scientists, working in weapons research for the former regime, were scanning humans on a molecular level and utilising advanced 3D printing to replicate them in condensate form. The human test subjects’ brains and central nervous systems were then removed and hooked up to a central machine which keeps the condensate copies (or “apparitions”) alive. Before the apparitions emerge victorious in their battle with the soldiers, Clyne activates a failsafe system, which deactivates the condensate apparitions. Believing that whatever level of consciousness remaining is in pain, he unplugs the human remains from the machine, finally giving them peace.With the apparitions gone, the US and Allied Moldovan military work to continue to take control of the city from the insurgents, and a Department of Defense extraction team is to be sent back to the plant with the Delta Force operators to take the machinery apart and potentially utilise it for their own purposes. Saying goodbye to Madison and General Orland, Clyne boards an aircraft to be taken back home to Virginia.The pace of the film is perfect and there’s never a reason to lose interest, especially as our cast delve deeper into the mystery of what’s going on and how to deal with it. The tension themes were similar to Darkest Hour & FF:SW insofar as you never quite knew where the threats were going to come from at any given time, despite the countermeasures in place. Some people have compared the story with those two titles pre-release, and after watching you can see how it could be inspired by them, but only as much as other themes in cinema inspire each other; the story itself is very original. If you like your action with an original story and extremely well- polished, then you’ll probably enjoy this.

REVIEW: HUGO

CAST

Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Ben Kinglsey (Iron Man 3)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Ray Winston (Elfie Hopkins)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Jude Law (Spy)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Frances de la Tour (The Lady In The Van)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Michael Pitt (Murder By Numbers)

In 1931, 12-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in Paris with his father (Jude Law), a widowed, but kind clockmaker who also works at a museum. One day his father finds a broken automaton, a mechanical man designed to write with a pen, at the museum, and he and Hugo try to repair it, his father documenting the automaton in a notebook. When his father is killed by a fire at the museum, Hugo is forced to live with his resentful, alcoholic uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), and made to learn how to maintain the clocks at the railway station of Gare Montparnasse. When Claude goes missing for several days, Hugo continues to maintain the clocks, fearing that he would be sent away as an orphan by the vindictive Station Inspector Gustave (Sacha Baron Cohen) if Claude’s absence is discovered. Hugo attempts to repair the automaton with stolen parts, believing it contains a message from his father, but the machine still requires a heart-shaped key that his father could not find.Hugo is caught when stealing from the toy store owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), who looks through his father’s notebook and threatens to destroy it. Hugo encounters Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who offers to help get the notebook back. Hugo learns Georges has forbidden Isabelle from going to the cinema, and introduces the medium to her as his father had done for him. As their friendship grows, he shows her the automaton, and is surprised when Isabelle inadvertently reveals she wears the key as a necklace given to her by Georges. When started, the machine draws out a scene that Hugo recognizes from his father’s description of the film A Trip to the Moon. Isabelle identifies the signature, that of a “Georges Méliès”, as her godfather. She sneaks Hugo into her home, where they find a hidden cache of more imaginative drawings of Méliès, but are caught by Georges, who banishes Hugo from his home.Hugo and Isabelle go to the Film Academy Library and find a book about the history of cinema that praises Méliès’ contributions. They meet the book’s author, René Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg), a film expert who is surprised to hear that Méliès may still be alive, as he had disappeared after World War I along with nearly all copies of his films. Excited at the chance to meet him, René agrees to meet Isabelle and Hugo at Georges’ home to show his copy of A Trip to the Moon, hoping it will invigorate Georges. On the scheduled night, Georges’ wife Jeanne (Helen McCrory) tries to turn them away, but René compliments Jeanne as Jeanne d’Alcy, an actress in many of Méliès’ films, and she allows them to continue. As the film plays, Georges wakes up at the sight, and Jeanne finally convinces him to cherish his accomplishments rather than regret his lost dream. Georges recounts that as a stage magician, he had been fascinated by motion pictures and used the medium to create imaginative works through his Star Film Company, but was forced into bankruptcy following the War, closing his studio and selling his films to be turned into raw materials. He laments that even an automaton he made that he donated to a museum was lost. Hugo recognizes this is the same automaton he has, and races to the station to retrieve it. He is caught by Gustave, who has learned that Claude’s body was found some time ago, and threatens to take Hugo to the orphanage. Georges arrives and tells Gustave that he will now see to Hugo, adopting him as his son.Some time later, Georges is named a professor at the Film Academy, and is paid tribute through a showcase of his films recovered by René. Hugo joins in with his new family as they celebrate, while Isabelle starts to write down Hugo’s story.Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is one of the best cinematic experience, I’ve had in years.  The visual effects, cinematography, art direction, just technically superb. Finally a smart, awe-aspiring family film, which are really rare nowadays. A definite surprise coming from legendary director, Martin Scorcese, who’s known for movies with a lot of swears, violence, drugs and other adult-themed subjects.