REVIEW: THE FOUNTAIN

Starring

Hugh Jackson (The Wolverine)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Fernando Hernandez (Apocalypto)
Cliff Curtis (Sunshine)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)
Donny Murphy (Spider-Man 2)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)

Hugh Jackman in The Fountain (2006)Conquistador Tomás Verde in New Spain fights a band of Mayans to gain entry into a pyramid, where he is attacked by a Mayan priest. The story intercuts to a similar looking man, tending a tall tree in a glass dome biosphere travelling through space, annoyed by a woman called Izzi. Finally, a third iteration, present-day doctor Tom Creo, is losing his wife Izzi to a brain tumor. Tom is working on a cure using samples from a tree found through exploration in Guatemala, which are being tested for medicinal use for degenerative brain diseases in his lab. Izzi has come to terms with her mortality, but Tom refuses to accept it, focused on his quest to find a cure for her.Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman in The Fountain (2006)She writes a story called “The Fountain” about Queen Isabella losing her kingdom to the Inquisition and a commission given by her to Tomás Verde to search for the Tree of Life in the Central American forest in Mayan territory. As she does not expect to finish her book, Izzi asks Tom to finish it for her. As they look up at the golden nebula of Xibalba, she imagines, as the Mayans did, that their souls will meet there after death and when the star goes supernova. She dies shortly thereafter and Tom dedicates himself to curing not only her disease but death itself after seeing experimental success in reversing aging. His colleagues fear that this drive has made him reckless, but they support him in his scientific work and emotionally at Izzi’s funeral. Tom plants a sweetgum seed at Izzi’s grave in the manner of a story she told him relating how a Mayan guide’s dead father lived on in a tree nourished by the organic nutrients of the buried body.Hugh Jackman in The Fountain (2006)In the Mayan jungle, Tomás finds that most of his fellow knights are exhausted and refuse to continue searching for the Tree of Life. He takes the few who remain loyal with him to a pyramid, carrying a ceremonial dagger. Once he arrives at the pyramid, the first scene repeats and Tomás engages in combat with the Mayan priest. The space traveller (whether this character is a version of Tom, an element of Izzy’s story, or Tom himself in the future is unclear) spends much of his time performing physical or mental exercises, including a form of meditation allowing him to perceive and interact with the past. In that past, Tomás is stabbed in the stomach but, just as the priest is about to kill him, he appears before the figurehead. The priest now believes Tomás is the “First Father” who birthed all life.the-fountain-hugh-jackman-2Tomás kills the priest as a sacrifice and proceeds to a pool with a large tree, convinced this is the Tree of Life. Tomás applies some of its sap to his torso and is cured of his stab wound. He drinks the sap flowing from the bark. But in a reenactment of the Mayan creation myth recounted earlier, his body is turned into flowers and grass that burst forth from it and he literally gives rise to new life, killing himself in the process. In space, the tree finally dies just before the spaceship arrives at its destination, much to the horror of the version of Tom tending it. A final vision of Izzi appears, comforting him in the face of his acceptance of death. The star goes supernova, engulfing the ship and everything within. The traveler’s body, engulfed by the dying star inside the nebula, is absorbed by the tree, causing it to flourish back to life. Izzi’s apparition picks a fruit from the new tree of life and hands it to Tom, who plants it in Izzi’s grave.MV5BMjI4Mzk1NjMyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTUwNTE5NQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_All in all, I really liked this movie. It brought plenty of drama which makes you care for the characters and their fate, thus keeping you eager to find out how it ends. It’s unique idea manages to be at the same time it’s most important plus but also a bit of a let-down, in terms of connection. I had a very good time with it so I will definitely recommend it to anyone. It brings something new, a fresh idea, and this alone deserves recognition, not to mention the feelings involved throughout.

REVIEW: SANTA CLARITA DIET – SEASON 3

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Santa Clarita Diet (2017)

MAIN CAST

Drew Barrymore (Charlies Angels)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Liv Hewson (Inhumans)
Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man)

Santa Clarita Diet (2017)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Natalie Morales (Powerless)
Goran Visnjic (The Girl In The Dragon Tatoo)
Leo Howard (Conan The Barbarian)
Zachary Knighton (Flashforward)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
Joel McHale (Happy Time Murders)
Jonathan Slavin (Speechless)
Ethan Suplee (The Ranch)
Shalita Grant (Bones)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Thomas Lennon (The Order)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Ramona Young (Legends of Tomorrow)
Linda Lavin (Wanderlust)
Malcolm Barrett (Swimfan)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (New Girl)

17362723_340606059674192_6261011132851321202_nThere are few things more joyful than the sight of Drew Barrymore having fun. I always feel she’s earned it. And never does she seem to have more fun than as undead suburban mum – or “mombie”, if you will – in zombie sitcom – or “zomcom”, if you will – Santa Clarita Diet, whose third series has just dropped with a bloody squelch on Netflix.santa-clarita-dietFans will recall that we left Sheila (Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) Hammond after they had just blown up the clam farm responsible for turning Sheila and others into undead flesh-eaters and had been discovered harbouring a still-talking decapitated head in their basement by their police officer neighbour Anne. That’s Gary, whom Sheila killed when she was still learning to curb her new murderous instincts, but who came back to life, because, well, it’s a zomcom.17800340_348027332265398_4751450473229260878_nThe third series expands the Hammonds’ and the show’s universe. Anne is cleaving close, having decided that the resurrected Sheila is a divine instrument and that Anne’s purpose is to help her to murder Nazis. For her, it’s God’s work, news of which is to be shared with her church. For Sheila, it’s the most ethically securable lunch, and very much to be kept to themselves. Rival realtors Chris and Christa Caldwell – magnificently vicious creations both – are back, Gary’s decomposing head (they forgot his serum) is full of ideas for the Hammonds’ estate agency, and the relationship between Abby (Liv Hewson) and Eric (Skyler Gisondo, who has all the command of Michael Cera without the tics) is deepening without losing any of its almost heartbreaking charm or laughs.993877_493271127545501_7030441332169042474_nThe Hammonds are still on a fairly tight murder schedule, but rather than it forming the centrepiece of every episode, this season is letting the Serbian mythology, which seems to hold the key to explaining Sheila’s predicament, take a more prominent role. I hope it takes a while to unlock, because one of the people from that vampire-’n’-assorted-other-lore-rich country who has arrived in California to track Sheila and her ilk down is played by Goran Višnjić, displaying the kind of comic chops you never dreamed of when he was poor, tormented Dr Luka Kovač in ER.9244cf84-fa2c-4528-9492-20fabb04d5aa-scd_108_unit_00291_r_cropSo there are changes (the gore remains a constant, and still not quite cartoonish enough to stop me needing a sick bucket), but Santa Clarita Diet’s core strength remains: the portrait of a marriage under comic but emotionally resonant strain. It’s played for laughs – and one-liners, visual gags, callbacks and fleeting asides abound (“And there’s so many more of them around these days!” says a delighted Joel as they rejoice briefly in their Nazis-as-lobster-tank-for-Sheila idea) – but it asks us what we’d do for love and how far we’d go for our partners. Joel has just about got used to his new husbandly role as accessory to multiple murder, but in season three the couple begin to realise the other ramifications of Sheila’s condition. Her immortality means she will outlive her entire family – unless she bites them and they join her in her bloodthirsty ways. Santa Clarita Diet remains a gorgeously flavourful one. Fill up.

 

REVIEW: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Rob Reiner (New Girl)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Matthew McConaughey (EDTV)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Joanna Lumley (The Cat’s Meow)
Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother)
Christine Ebersole (Confessions of a Shopaholic)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Katarina Cas (Danny Collins)
P. J. Byrne (Final Destination 5)
Kenneth Choi (Red Dawn)
Henry Zebrowski (Herores Reborn)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Jake Hoffman (Hook)
J.C. MacKenzie (Dark Angel)
Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)In 1987, Jordan Belfort procures a job as a Wall Street stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna, who quickly entices him with the sex and drugs fueled stockbroker culture and teaches him that a stockbroker’s only job is to make money for himself. Jordan soon finds his career terminated following Black Monday and takes a job at a boiler room brokerage firm on Long Island that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, Jordan makes a small fortune.Leonardo DiCaprio, P.J. Byrne, Jonah Hill, Cristin Milioti, Henry Zebrowski, and MacKenzie Meehan in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Jordan befriends his neighbor, Donnie Azoff, and the two found their own company. They recruit several of Jordan’s friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the “hard sell”. The basic method of the firm is a pump and dump scam. To cloak this, Jordan gives the firm the respectable-sounding name of Stratton Oakmont. After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company. Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle full of prostitutes and drugs. He has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia. When his wife finds out, they divorce, and he marries Naomi. Meanwhile, the SEC and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont. Jordan illegally makes $22 million in three hours upon securing the IPO of Steve Madden. This brings him and his firm to the attention of the FBI. To hide his money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel in the name of Naomi’s Aunt Emma, who is a British national and thus outside the reach of American authorities. He uses the wife and in-laws of his friend Brad Bodnick, who have European passports, to smuggle the cash into Switzerland.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Donnie gets into a public brawl with Brad, and, while Donnie escapes, Brad is arrested. Jordan also learns from his private investigator that the FBI is wiretapping his phones. Fearing for his son, Jordan’s father advises him to leave Stratton Oakmont and lie low while Jordan’s lawyer negotiates a deal to keep him out of prison. Jordan, however, cannot bear to quit and talks himself into staying in the middle of his farewell speech. Jordan, Donnie, and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Aunt Emma has died of a heart attack. Jordan decides to travel to Switzerland immediately to settle the bank account. In order to bypass border controls, he forces his yacht captain to sail to Monaco, but the ship is capsized in a storm. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed when a seagull flies into the engine. Jordan takes this as a sign from God and decides to sober up.Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Two years later, the FBI arrests Jordan because Saurel, arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge, has also informed on Jordan. Since the evidence against him is overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency. Fed up with Jordan’s lifestyle, Naomi tells Jordan she is divorcing him and wants full custody of their children. Jordan loses his mind and tries to run off with his daughter Skylar in his car, but he ends up crashing in the driveway. The next morning, Jordan wears a wire to work but slips a note to Donnie warning him. Donnie keeps the note and rats out on Jordan to the FBI. Jordan is arrested for breaching his co-operation deal. The FBI raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont. Despite this one breach, Jordan receives a reduced sentence for his testimony and serves three years in a minimum security prison. After his release, Jordan makes a living hosting seminars on sales technique.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Scorsese has always managed to elicit astounding performances from his actors, and his fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio results in one of the most charismatic, despicable, offensive and captivating characters to ever appear on screen. As financial bad boy Belfort, DiCaprio swaggers from scene to scene ingesting eye-popping amounts of narcotics, groping and fondling nearly every female within reach, and spouting more profanity in three hours than an entire season of The Sopranos. Belfort is the kind of person that any sane person would detest in real life, but thanks to Scorses and DiCaprio, we can’t take our eyes off him.

REVIEW: COLD MOUNTAIN

 

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Bewitched)
Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jude Law (Spy)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job)
Ray Winstone (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
James Gammon (The Iron Giant)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Jena Malone (Sucker Punch)
Lucas Black (Fast & Furious 7)
Taryn Manning (The Breed)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising)
Philip Seymour (The Ides of March
Philip Seymour (The Ides of March)
James Rebhorn (Big Lake)

 

MV5BZjZlMzRlOGQtMzViMS00NDk4LWFmOWUtZDRiZWZjYWE3Y2ZhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTYxNzc0NjU@._V1_When North Carolina secedes from the Union on May 20, 1861, the young men of a rural, provincial, North Carolina backwater known only as Cold Mountain hurry to enlist in the Confederate military. Among them is W.P. Inman (Jude Law), a carpenter who has fallen in love with Ada (Nicole Kidman), a minister´s daughter, and finds their whirlwind courtship interrupted by the American Civil War.

Cold Mountain 550Three years later, Inman finds himself in the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, during the Battle of the Crater. Union soldiers tunneling beneath Confederate fortifications detonate over 300 kegs of gunpowder, in a futile attempt to undermine the position prior to their assault. As the ill-fated attack begins, Oakley (Lucas Black) an old acquaintance of Inman’s from Cold Mountain, is impaled on a bayonet and mortally wounded. Inman rescues him from the fighting and takes him to a field hospital. Later that day Oakley dies in the hospital, with Inman and Stobrod Thewes (Brendan Gleeson) beside him. The next night, Inman, along with his Cherokee friend Swimmer (Jay Tavare), are sent to flush out surviving Union troops trapped behind their lines. During the raid, a burst of friendly fire kills Swimmer and seriously injures Inman. As Inman lies in the hospital near death, he has a letter from Ada read to him in which she pleads with him to stop fighting, stop marching, and come back to her. Inman recovers, and—with the war drawing ever closer to an inevitable Confederate defeat—decides to go home to Cold Mountain.

On his journey he meets the corrupt preacher Reverend Veasey (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is about to drown his pregnant slave lover. Inman stops Veasey, and leaves him tied up to face the town’s justice. Exiled from his parish, Veasey later rejoins Inman on his journey. They help a young man named Junior (Giovanni Ribisi) butcher his cow, and join him and his family for dinner. Junior leaves the house after the feast, the women in Junior’s family seduce Veasey, and Junior’s wife, Lila, tries to seduce Inman. Junior returns home with the Confederate Home Guard, and both Inman and Veasey are arrested and led away with other deserters. During a subsequent skirmish with Union cavalry, Veasey is killed and Inman left for dead. An elderly hermit living in the woods (Eileen Atkins) finds him and nurses him back to health.
Cold Mountain
Inman later meets a grieving young widow named Sara (Natalie Portman), who is raising her infant child Ethan alone; he stays the night at her cabin. The next morning, a party of Union foragers arrive demanding food. Sara orders Inman away for his protection, but he hides only a few feet away from the house. The leader, Nym (Richard Brake), and his lieutenant harass Sara, steal her livestock, and leave Ethan in the cold, though the third soldier (Cillian Murphy) attempts to keep the baby warm. Nym tries to rape Sara but both he and the lieutenant are killed by Inman. Inman forces the kind forager to surrender and lets him go, but as the latter flees, an enraged Sara fatally shoots him. In parallel with Inman’s adventures, the film follows Ada’s wartime experiences. Ada is a city gentlewoman who only recently moved to the rural farm named Black Cove. She met Inman on her first day at Cold Mountain and had a brief, chaste romance with him the night before he left for the army. Shortly after Inman leaves, Ada’s father (Donald Sutherland) dies, leaving her alone on the farm with no money, food, or livelihood, and with little prospect for help, as the young, able-bodied men are off at war.
nicole-kidman-cold-mountain-qa-1Ada is completely inept at working the farm, having been raised as a southern lady. She manages to survive thanks to the kindness of her neighbors, one of whom eventually sends Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger) to her. Ruby is a young woman who has lived a hard-scrabble life and is very adept at the tasks needed to run the farm. Ruby lives at the farm with Ada, and together they take the farm from a state of disaster to working order. Meanwhile, Ada writes constant letters to Inman in hopes of meeting him again and renewing their romance. The two women form a close friendship and become each other’s confidantes. They also are friends with the Swangers (James Gammon and Kathy Baker), who live down the road from Ada’s farm Black Cove. It is at the Swangers’ well that Ada “sees” a vision of Inman coming back to her in the snow, surrounded by crows.
During the war, Ada and Ruby, and other members of their community, have several tense encounters with men of the Home Guard. This branch of the Home Guard is led by Captain Teague (Ray Winstone), whose grandfather once owned much of Cold Mountain. He and his deputies hunt deserters, partially with the goal of Teague’s seizing their land. Teague also lusts after Ada. Although the purpose of the Home Guard was to protect the South and its citizen population from the North, they have become violent vigilantes who hunt and often kill deserters from the Confederate Army, and terrorize citizens who they believe are housing or helping the deserters. This includes the Swangers’ sons, who, by torturing their mother, they coax out of hiding and kill. Esco Swanger—the family patriarch—is also killed protecting his sons.

Ruby’s estranged father Stobrod, a Confederate deserter and a violin player, arrives, reconciles with her, and convinces her to make a coat for his intellectually challenged banjo player Pangle (Ethan Suplee). Ruby finds herself drawn to mandolin player Georgia (Jack White). While camping, Stobrod, Pangle, and Georgia are cornered by the Home Guardsmen led by Teague. Pangle unintentionally reveals the band as the deserters Teague is seeking. Georgia is hidden a few feet away and witnesses the shooting of Pangle and Stobrod. He escapes to Black Cove Farm and informs Ruby and Ada, who rush to the campsite to find Pangle dead and Stobrod badly injured. Ada helps Ruby remove a bullet from Strobrod’s back, and they decide to take shelter in some cabins in the woods to avoid Teague and his men.
At this point the two story lines come together. Inman, half-dead from starvation, finally reaches Cold Mountain and is almost killed by Ada before she recognizes him. They later consummate their love and spend the night together.  The Home Guardsmen, however, soon find them, having captured and tortured Georgia to learn that the women are harboring deserters. In the ensuing gunfight Inman ambushes and kills Teague and most of his band, but Teague’s violent young lieutenant Bosie (Charlie Hunnam), escapes up the mountain. Cornering him near the top, Inman urges him to surrender peacefully, but Bosie draws, forcing him to fire; both men are mortally wounded. Ada goes after Inman, and finds him just as she saw him in her vision at the well… coming back to her in the snow surrounded by crows. He dies in her arms. The film ends several years later with Ada, Ruby and their families celebrating Easter. Ruby has married Georgia, and the two have a young daughter and an infant child. It is also revealed that Ada’s night with Inman has produced a child, Grace Inman.MV5BMTQwNTE5MjE4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDc2ODAxNw@@._V1_A very intense and sometimes moving movie experience with a brutal battle sequence, and indeed many further violent incidents both at Cold Mountain itself and indeed on ‘Inman’s’ journey. The film harbours many fine performances from it’s star-studded cast-list. Well worth a re-visit or indeed a first viewing.

REVIEW: NO ORDINARY FAMILY

MAIN CAST
Michael Chikilis (Gotham)
Julie Benz (Angel)
Kay Panabaker (Two and a Half Men)
Jimmy Bennett (The Amityville Horror)
Autumn Reeser (Human Target)
Romany Malco (Blades of Glary)
Stephen Collins (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
Michael Chiklis in No Ordinary Family (2010)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Christina Chang (28 Days)
Tate Donovan (Argo)
Jamie Harris (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Josh Stewart (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jason Antoon (Minority Report)
Reggie Lee (Drag Me To Hell)
Joanna Walsh (Faster)
Guillermo Diaz (The Terminal)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Rachel Miner (The Butterfly Effect 3)
Max Greenfield (New Girls)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Jackson Rathbone (Twilight)
Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting)
Bruce McGill (Collateral)
Amy Acker (Dollhouse)
Mimi Kennedy (Mom)
Katelyn Tarver (Dead on Campus)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Jason Wiles (Zodiac)
Luke Kleintank (Bones)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)
Joanne Kelly (Mutant X)
Katrina Begin (Zookeeper)
Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Michael Maize (Eagle Eye)
Tom Amandes (Arrow)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
James Earl (Scream Queens)
Jonna Walsh (Couples Retreat)
Shaun Parkes (The Mummy Returns)
Mercedes Colon (The Fosters)
Raphael Sbarge (Risky Business)
John Rubinstein (Angel)

The Powells are a typical American family living in fictional Pacific Bay, California, whose members gain special powers after their plane crashes in the Amazon. The show is very light hearted and manages to mix comedy with action and drama extremely well. The family are quite cliché and the powers aren’t exactly ‘original’ but they make it work.The cast do a great job portraying their characters, Michael Chiklis (Star of The Shield and Fantastic Four) does a brilliant job as the father while Julie Benz (formerly Rita Morgan in Dexter) puts on a strong performance as the mother of the family. You also have Kay Panabaker and Jimmy Bennett as the kids.

The character development in this series is great and the story is  highly entertaining. The characters relationships are believable and very engrossing. I think the pairing of Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) and George St. Cloud (Romany Malco) is brilliant. The second prize for most hilarious character in this show has to go to Stephanie Powells best friend and work colleague Katie Andrews (Played by Autumn Reeser), she is incredibly geeky and so socially awkward, hilarious to watch.no-ordinary-familyIt’s light hearted, fun and easy to watch. Yes it has the sci-fi/fantasy element to it which is akin to shows like Chuck, Heroes, Supernatural, Buffy, Smallville etc. But it also has a more family oriented feel to it at times and what this show does brilliantly is applying super powers to every day events. A lot of people have been comparing it heroes but I find it far to light hearted to be compared to heroes. It’s nowhere near as dark and serious and has far more comedy integrated throughout. I’d say it’s more like Chuck than Heroes. It was cancelled after only 1 season but still its very much worth a watch.