REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 3

Westworld (2016)

Starring

Evan Rachel Wood (Frozen II)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Batman)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly)
Simon Quarterman (The Scorpion King 2)
Vincent Cassel (Underwater)
Angela Sarafyan (1915)
Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)

Recurring / Notable Guest cast

John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy)
Scott Mescudi (Meadowland)
Pom Klementieff (Avengbers: Endgame)
Russell Wong (Undoing)
Payman Maadi (6 Underground)
Lena Waithe (Ready Player One)
Rafi Gavron (A Star Is Born)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Originals)
Thomas Kretschmann (Jungle)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Wayne Péré (Cloak & Dagger)
Michael Filipowich (Earth: Final Conflict)
Charmin Lee (Little Red Wagon)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Ptolemy Slocum (Hitch)
Michael Ealy (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Nadine Lewington (Bigger)
Katja Herbers (Suskind)
Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin)
Jefferson Mays (Alfie)
Iddo Goldberg (A Little Trip to Heaven)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Jimmi Simpson (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Peter Mullan (Braveheart)
Jonathan Tucker (Charlie’s Angels)
Siena Goines (Jada)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Elizabeth Anweis (Batwoman)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek)

Aaron Paul in Westworld (2016)One of the best sci-fi shows of all time and offers deeper thought than a philosophy or religious course. This show is utterly beautiful while also gritty, and even eerie at times. This show is a microcosm that represents what humans are capable of. Unpredictable, the script is intelligently written and pieced together. The filming is memorizing in cinematographic appeal.Among the many themes throughout Westworld, the nature of reality and the nature of humanity are at it’s core. This show’s plot, the logistical details of the AI, and the universe they exist in are well thought out and blend together nicely. Every character has a backstory and motives in such a way that builds interesting character depth. It is fun to see how characters adapt to the world as they learn. While multiple plot lines are intertwined, raw action and twists constantly occur in this crazy universe that is constantly on the verge of catastrophe.Thandie Newton and Simon Quarterman in Westworld (2016)This show addresses questions such as: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to exist? What is my purpose? This is explored and searched for by the main characters. While these are introspective questions that can be explored internally; parallel to this musing, their search is embedded in the reality they find themselves in externally. Moreover, it is represented by the mysterious prodding and puzzles intrinsic to the immediate world in which they exist.Tessa Thompson in Westworld (2016)The sci-fi elements of the show touch on advanced AI, multiple realities, self awareness, machine learning, big data, and big tech privacy. This show is spot on by metaphorically addressing these concepts. These issues are becoming more relevant by the day in our lives by shaping the future of human society.Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)Without a doubt, sci-fi has never been done better, making movies such as the Matrix fall to the feet of Westworld and it’s unprecedented splendor.

REVIEW: FROZEN II

Starring

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Idina Menzel (Enchanted)
Jonathan Groff (American Sniper)
Josh Gad (New Girl)
Sterling K. Brown (BLack Panther)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Martha Plimpton (The Goonies)
Jason Ritter (The East)
Rachel Matthews (Happy Death Day)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Grey Griffin (The Book of Life)
Kari Wahlgren (DC Super Hero Girls)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

 

Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff in Frozen II (2019)King Agnarr of Arendelle tells a story to his young children, Elsa and Anna, that their grandfather, King Runeard, established a treaty with the neighboring tribe of Northuldra by building a dam in their homeland, the Enchanted Forest. However, a fight occurs, resulting in Runeard’s death and enraging the elemental spirits of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air of the forest. The spirits disappear and a wall of mist traps everyone in the Enchanted Forest. Young Agnarr barely escapes due to the help of an unknown savior.Idina Menzel in Frozen II (2019)Three years after her coronation, Elsa celebrates autumn in the kingdom with Anna, Olaf the snowman, Kristoff the ice harvester, and Kristoff’s reindeer Sven. One night, when Elsa hears a mysterious voice calling out to her, she follows it and unintentionally awakens the elemental spirits, which forces everyone in the kingdom to evacuate. Grand Pabbie and the Trolls colony arrive at Arendelle and Pabbie informs that they must set things right by discovering the truth about the kingdom’s past.Idina Menzel in Frozen II (2019)Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven embark to the Enchanted Forest, following the mysterious voice. After the mist parts at Elsa’s touch, the Air spirit, in the form of a tornado, appears and sweeps everyone in its vortex. Elsa stops it, forming a set of ice sculptures. The sisters discover the sculptures are images from their father’s past. They encounter the Northuldra and a troop of Arendellian soldiers who are still in conflict with one another. When the Fire spirit appears, Elsa discovers the spirit to be an agitated magical salamander, and calms it down. Elsa and Anna arrange a truce between the soldiers and the Northuldra after discovering that their mother, Queen Iduna, was a Northuldra who had saved Agnarr, an Arendellian. They later learn the existence of a fifth spirit who will unite people and the magic of nature.Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff in Frozen II (2019)Elsa, Anna and Olaf continue to head north, leaving Kristoff and Sven behind. They find their parents’ wrecked ship and a map with a route to Ahtohallan, a mythical river told by their mother to contain all explanations of the past. Elsa sends Anna and Olaf away to safety and continues alone. She encounters and tames the Nøkk, the Water spirit who guards the sea to Ahtohallan. Reaching Ahtohallan, a glacier, Elsa discovers that the voice calling to her was the memory of young Iduna’s call; that her powers were given to her by nature because of Iduna’s selfless act of saving Agnarr; and that Elsa herself is the fifth spirit.Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel in Frozen II (2019)Elsa then learns that the dam was built as a ruse to reduce the Northuldra’s resources because of King Runeard’s dislike of the tribe’s connection with magic and his intention to incorporate the region into his kingdom. She also learns he was the one who initiated the conflict by killing the unarmed leader of the Northuldra. Elsa sends this information to Anna before becoming frozen due to venturing into the most dangerous part of Ahtohallan. This in turn causes Olaf to fade away. Anna receives Elsa’s message and concludes that the dam must be destroyed for peace to be restored. Anna finds and awakens the gigantic Earth spirits and lures them towards the dam. The giants hurl boulders aimed at Anna which destroy the dam, sending a flood down the fjord to the kingdom. Elsa thaws out and returns to Arendelle, diverting the flood and saving the kingdom.As the mist disappears, Elsa reunites with Anna and revives Olaf. Kristoff asks Anna to marry him and she accepts. Elsa explains that she and Anna are now the bridge between the people and the magical spirits. Anna becomes the Queen of Arendelle while Elsa becomes the protector of the Enchanted Forest, who regularly visits Arendelle as peace has been restored. In a post-credit scene, Olaf visits Elsa’s ice palace and recounts the events he experienced to Marshmallow and the SnowgiesKristen Bell and Idina Menzel in Frozen II (2019)Compared to the first film, Frozen 2 does have a more complicated plot and, maybe, hard to digest for young children. Not only that, the nuances throughout the film are also darker than the first. However, Frozen 2 still deserves to be called a very neat film, especially visually. Makes you curious? You have to watch it so that all your questions are answered …

REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 2

Westworld (2016)

Starring

Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Batman)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Fares Fares (Chernobyl)
Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly)
Louis Herthum (What/If)
Simon Quarterman (THe Scorpion King 2)
Talulah Riley (Bloodshot)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Gustaf Skarsgård (Kidz in da Hood)
Ed Harris (The Truman show)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Angela Sarafyan (The Immigrant)
Katja Herbers (Sonny Boy)
Shannon Woodward (Adult World)
Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal)
Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep)

Thandie Newton in Westworld (2016)

Recurrin / Notable Guest Cast

Betty Gabriel (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Jimmi Simpson (White House Down)
Ben Barnes (The Punisher)
Peter Mullan (Hostiles)
Jonathan Tucker (Pulse)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That into You (film))
Ptolemy Slocum (Hitch)
Martin Sensmeier (Yellowstone)
Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Neil Jackson (BLade: The Series)
Fredric Lehne (lost)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim)
Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine)
Kiki Sukezane (Heroes Reborn)
Masayoshi Haneda (Edge of Tomorrow)
Lili Simmons (The Purge TV)
Erica Luttrell (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Inferno)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Julia Jones (Jonah Hex)
Booboo Stewart (Descendants)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
Jack Conley (The Cell)

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)The first season of Westworld, and maybe the second, can be encapsulated by an exasperation-inducing exchange in Sunday night’s premiere, in which William (Ed Harris, but Jimmi Simpson plays him, too) encounters an android boy (Oliver Bell) modeled after Ford (Anthony Hopkins, whose character died last season). The boy, in quaint pedal pushers, speaks in digital tongues to William, teasing and prodding him to participate in the park’s games now that the stakes are real. When William grouses about his riddles, the boy reproaches the man in the black hat: “Everything is code here, William.” Soon after, bullets fly.Thandie Newton and Simon Quarterman in Westworld (2016)Maybe I’m being too harsh. Yes, it’s obvious—but for the viewer, his words have deeper implications than they do for ol’ Black-Hat Bill. It’s true that everything in Westworld is code—artificial, semiotic, programmed, significant. In the first season, the audience was introduced to an adult playground, populated with fleshy androids designed for human gratification. As the hosts gained sentience and found a path to liberation, they became stand-ins for human fears: the silent omnipresence of technology, the exploitation of the oppressed, the struggle for self-actualization, and/or the horrifying immortality of creation. They are also, in Season 2, scattered across time and space, broken into contingents of unlikely pairings and shaky alliances, trying to survive within the parameters of the sandbox created last season.If a prestige drama is a complex machine, what’s unique about Westworld is how willing the show is to depict that machine without explaining the processes that comprise it. It’s committed to the endpoint of its fantasies, and surprisingly vague on process, which is one of the reasons Season 1 could be so frustrating. It often feels as if Westworld works backwards—first presenting a scenario, then spending endless future scenes explaining how that scenario came to exist. (I await an explanation for why Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores is clearly wearing cream foundation and blush in her initial close-ups this season; perhaps we’ll learn that the robot women, freed from their masters, have started experimenting with lipstick feminism.)

Westworld this season is a story about games. The park is supposed to be a hermetically sealed playground that allows participants to safely pursue anything without consequence, but the series itself emphasizes that this notion is actually impossible. Season 2 introduces two new parks; one, as hinted at in the trailers and in details of Season 1, is a facsimile of shogunate Japan, starring Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi. The other, which I won’t spoil, is such a pointed fantasy of white male entitlement that it leads the viewer to see all of Westworld’s illusions as fantasies designed for that exact viewer. Both underscore one of Westworld’s most disturbing details: practically every female host has been designed to be some kind of whore.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)The series is not subtle with these thematics, even as it revels in the fantasies it presents. When we get to Shogun World, it’s hard to tell if the show means to comment on orientalism, or if it’s just showcasing samurai and geishas because they look cool. All of its portentous conversations between hosts and humans about android consciousness exist somewhere in the space between an aha moment and an eye roll—without fully committing to either. The spoken discourse is a red herring that distracts from what’s really at play in the show. The hosts aren’t human, and the human characters aren’t interesting. What instead pulsates with life is the sandbox itself: the potential energy of this playground, with its unexplored easter eggs yet to be discovered.James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, and Talulah Riley in Westworld (2016)Which is why it is so satisfying—if still rather confusing—that in Season 2, the show has committed to spinning out, sending its sprawling cast on side quests as though they were Dungeons and Dragons campaigners. And as it unfolds, this iteration of Westworld becomes less a story about games than it is a series of games about story. Stakes, climax, and continuity are just tools to be tweaked and adjusted; characters’ personalities and motivations are little more than quirks, drawn from a deck or determined by a die. As the show posited in its first season finale, the hosts’ backstories—the things they keep forgetting and remembering—are both pre-programmed methods of control and pathways to deeper meaning. Westworld follows both avenues, simultaneously. As a result, it’s a scrambled, tabletop R.P.G. of a season, in ways that are both supremely satisfying and incredibly frustrating. Many adventures in Season 2 have the quality of a dungeon master inventing a plotline on the fly, after a few rolls in a row have landed the campaign somewhere unexpected.Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright in Westworld (2016)It’s a feeling that other shows might try to avoid. But Westworld is instead embracing it, leaning into chaos, actively doing all of the things that it’s sowing distrust in: producing a mythology, playing a game, telling a story. Its deep ambivalence toward the stuff it’s made of is ultimately what matters about the show, more than the thing itself. Just as Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) installed reveries into the hosts to provide them with a pathway to self-consciousness, Westworld itself is a collection of reveries, seeking to locate its own center. This might be why Bernard (also Wright)—the host version of Arnold—becomes the viewer’s surrogate in the second season. Wright is a criminally overlooked performer in general, but in Season 2 he is the emotional register that the rest of the show is calibrated around. A human consciousness turned digital, he is a part of both worlds—both the watchmaker and the watch. Through him and characters like him, the narrative takes on the structure of the maze metaphor from Season 1—a convoluted, repetitive path towards the middle.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)Westworld encourages the viewer to see its animated puzzles from every angle. It seems less and less that the show knows what it wants to be about, which will always be a knock against it. But with much more centripetal force than last season, it also draws the audience towards its own center, in its own vivid journey toward self-consciousness. It’s easy to get sucked in to Westworld’s reveries. It’s harder to convince yourself that its dark fantasies are just a game.

REVIEW: THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN

Starring

Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Til Schweiger (King Arthur)
Rupert Grint (Harry Potter)
James Buckley (Everywhere and Nowhere)
Ion Caramitru (Citizen X)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Melissa Leo (Red State)
Andrei Finti (War Dogs)
Aubrey Plaza (Child’s Play)
Vanessa Kirby (The Crown)

Shia LaBeouf in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)Charlie Countryman, a man living in Chicago, is distraught after the death of his mother Kate. At the hospital, he sees her as a spirit and asks her what he should do with his life. She replies by telling him to go to Bucharest because she believes it seems right to do. On the flight, he meets Victor, an elderly man sitting next to him, who is returning home to Bucharest after seeing a Cubbies game, with a silly hat as a gift for his daughter. Partway through the plane ride, Victor dies, and Charlie sees him too as a spirit, who asks him to deliver his gift to his daughter, which he promises to do.Shia LaBeouf in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)Arriving at the airport, he is hassled over the hat by the authorities, but eventually meets Victor’s daughter, Gabi, whom he falls instantly in love with. After he gives her Victor’s gift, they part. While in a taxi, he finds Gabi in her car on the side of the road. She tells him she can’t keep up with the ambulance containing her father’s body, and he offers to help catch up to them. While engrossed in playful banter they collide with the speeding ambulance truck, crashing and flipping over, with Victor’s body flying out of it. Gabi and Victor’s body are taken to the hospital by another ambulance, leaving her car with Charlie.Mads Mikkelsen and Evan Rachel Wood in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)Gabi’s car does not start immediately and Charlie is unable to follow the ambulance. After neighborhood kids help jump start the car Charlie decides to take the car to the Bucharest opera house where Gabi performs as a cellist. In the car Charlie finds a revolver in Gabi’s purse, inscribed ‘For my darling Gabi, Love forever Nigel’. Gabi soon calls her cell phone and instructs Charlie to look for a man name Bela. Bela puts Charlie in an empty opera box. Charlie falls asleep and wakes up to an opera performance. He also sees Gabi emotionally playing her cello in the orchestra pit. Following the performance, Gabi is confronted by her estranged and unstable husband, Nigel. Gabi suddenly spots Charlie walking by, and Nigel notices and questions him aggressively. Gabi lies that Charlie is a gay tuba player, after which Nigel leaves.Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)Charlie arrives at a hostel and meets his roommates, Karl and Luc. After partying for a while, Charlie enters the bathroom and encounters Nigel, who was waiting inside to apologize for his earlier behavior and mildly threatens Charlie. After departing, Charlie then sees Gabi leaving the hostel after dropping off his belongings left in her car. They spend the night out, sharing fond memories of each others’ parents. Later, they part ways, Gabi telling him that, if he finds her the next day, she will kiss him. Exhilarated, Charlie begins running down the street and is suddenly hit by a cab. The cab driver takes him to the hospital.Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)Hours later, back at the hostel, Charlie wakes up to find out that Karl has taken too much Viagra, and they go to a club seeking to ease Karl’s discomfort. When the aroused Karl has a sexual climax in front of the strippers, they call the bouncers to have the offending guests taken to the manager’s office. The trio are shocked to find that Karl’s transgression has caused the manager, Darko, to overcharge them deliberately. Darko notices that Charlie is staring nervously at a picture of Nigel and Gabi on the wall, and aggressively questions Charlie about Nigel. Charlie offers Darko the deal that, in exchange for providing information on Nigel, they need not pay the bill. Darko gives Charlie his phone number and the guests leave. Realizing that it’s morning, Charlie goes to the Bucharest opera house in the hopes of seeing Gabi.Later on that evening Bela notices Charlie sleeping on the opera house steps and wakes him up. After being begged, Bela reluctantly takes Charlie to Gabi’s house, were a memorial party is being held for Victor. Gabi takes Charlie to the attic to kiss him. Charlie tells Gabi about his encounter with Darko. Later on, Nigel unexpectedly shows up. He spots Charlie and while holding a piece of broken glass to his neck, aggressively confronts him on not being a gay tuba player and being attracted to Gabi all along. Gabi forces Nigel to leave by firing a warning shot at him. After the party, Gabi tells Charlie how she met Nigel. Although Gabi loved Nigel it was a mistake marrying him. Gabi realized too late that Nigel was an active criminal. At some point Victor found an incriminating tape to use against Nigel to force him to leave the country. It worked until Victor’s death; now Nigel wants the tape. Charlie then confesses that he is in love with Gabi, and they make love.The next morning, Charlie finds Gabi gone and a note telling him to not leave the house. Charlie explores the house and discovers a room filled with tapes, specifically one that’s labeled “Cubbies”. The tape turns out to be the blackmail footage Victor found. It shows Nigel and Darko killing a group of people at a restaurant. A disturbed Charlie leaves the house and finds Gabi and Nigel at a nearby restaurant. He approaches them and explains that he “saw the tape.” Nigel violently interrogates Charlie until the police arrive and take Charlie away. At the station Bela bribes the police to not press charges but instead take Charlie to Budapest. Upon arrival at the hostel to get his belongings, he is alerted by the presence of Nigel’s associates. They chase Charlie to a subway, where he escapes and runs back to Gabi’s home to find the tape missing. He finds Darko and his men waiting for him, showing Karl and Luc’s backs glued together outside. Gabi calls Darko regarding the tape, prompting Darko to leave the house.Charlie waits for Gabi at the Opera House, where she tells him that she doesn’t want to see him again and says goodbye. She goes to her car with Nigel, who has the tape and intends to destroy it so that life with Gabi can continue. A saddened Charlie once again speaks to the ghost of his mother, who says that she is proud of him and hopes he doesn’t die. After she disappears, he runs to Gabi’s car and attempts to stop Nigel, only to be knocked unconscious. He wakes, hanging from a rope by his ankle above a boat dock. Nigel burns the tape and prepares to shoot Charlie, but decides to let Gabi do it. She ends up sparing Charlie just as the cops arrive. Charlie is dropped into the lake and survives, and Nigel commits suicide by cop. The film ends with Karl and Luc finally being separated from the super glue, and Charlie and Gabi finally together.This film is hard to categorize. At times it is a drama. Then in an instant it has small comedic elements. Then suddenly it becomes a action film. Take all of these and combine them and set the movie in a beautiful city like Bucharest, and you have a great film. Of course, there are some plot holes, but it never gets to the point of confusion. At no point in the film did I feel like I missed something. I have no idea what these critics watched, but it definitely wasn’t the same movie I just watched. What I saw was an A list film that deserves great praise. I still cannot get over how beautiful the movie looked. Even if you don’t love the story, you cannot deny how gorgeous each scene is without any use of CGI. True eye candy. If you need something interesting and different to watch, then I highly recommend this movie.

REVIEW: S1M0NE

CAST

Al Pacino (Scarface)
Catherine Keener (Captain Phillips)
Rachel Roberts (In Time)
Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Jay Mohr (Cherry Falls)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)
Jim Rash (Community)
Jeffrey Pierce (Bosch)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Jason Schwartzman (Saving Mr. Banks)
Hal Ozsan (Jessica Jones)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
Rebecca Romijn (Satanic Panic)

When Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder), the star of out-of-favor director Viktor Taransky’s (Al Pacino) new film, refuses to finish it, Taransky is forced to find a replacement. Contractual requirements totally prevent using her image in the film, so he must re-shoot. Instead, Viktor experiments with a new computer program he inherits from late acquaintance Hank Aleno (Elias Koteas) which allows creation of a computer-generated woman which he can easily animate to play the film’s central character. Viktor names his virtual actor “Simone”, a name derived from the computer program’s title, Simulation One. Seamlessly incorporated into the film, Simone (Rachel Roberts) gives a fantastic performance, exactly controlled by Viktor. The film is immediately a huge success. The studio, and soon the world, ask “who is Simone?”Viktor initially claims that Simone is a recluse and requests her privacy be respected, but that only intensifies media demands for her to appear. Viktor intends to reveal the secret of her non-existence after the second picture. To satisfy demand, he executes a number of progressively ambitious stunts relying on misdirection and cinematic special effects technology. Eventually it escalates to simulated remote location video live interviews.In one instance, two determined tabloid reporters discover Viktor used out-of-date stock photography as a background during an interview instead of being on that site as claimed and blackmail him into getting Simone to make a live appearance. He arranges her to perform a song at a stadium event appearing in a cloud of smoke and then using flawless holographic technology. The perception of being in person is reinforced with realtime visualization on the stadium’s monitors. Simone becomes even more famous, simultaneously becoming a double winner for the Academy Award for Best Actress, tying with herself in the process.Once the pressure of serving his creation reaches a breaking point for Viktor, he decides to ruin Simone’s career as an act of vengeance. Simone’s next film, I Am Pig, is her directorial debut and a tasteless treatment about zoophilia intended to disgust audiences, which not only fails to achieve the desired effect of audience alienation, but also serves to foster her credibility as a risk-taking, fearless and avant-garde artist. Taransky’s subsequent attempts to discredit Simone by having her drink, smoke and curse at public appearances and use politically incorrect statements similarly backfire, when the press instead begins to see her as refreshingly honest. As a last resort, Taransky decides to dispose of Simone completely by using a computer virus to erase her and dumps the hard drive and floppy disks into a steamer trunk and buries it at sea, then announces to the press she has died of a rare virus contracted on her Goodwill Tour of the Third World. During the funeral, the police interrupt, open the coffin, and find only Simone’s cardboard cutout. He is arrested and shown a security camera video where he loads a large trunk on his yacht.After being charged with her murder, he admits that Simone is not a person, but a computer program. The chest containing the computer data is brought up empty. Viktor’s daughter Lainey and ex-wife Elaine enter his studio to try to help. They find Viktor’s forgotten virus source disk (Plague) and apply an anti-virus program to eradicate the computer virus. They revive Simone and have her appear on national television laughing while holding up a newspaper headline with her obituary. They pick up a confused Viktor who realizes that his connection with Simone is a life sentence. At the end, Simone and Viktor are remotely interviewed at home about their new (virtual) baby. Simone is concerned about her child’s future and decides to enter politics. The film shows how the fake is produced using the chroma key technique. A post-credits sequence shows Viktor creating fake footage of Simone in a supermarket, which one of her pursuers sees, believing it real.

S1m0ne is a highly entertaining satire about obsession with celebrity movie stars, and although not in the same league as Robert Altman’s magnificent The Player still holds its own as an enjoyable gentle farce.

 

REVIEW: THIRTEEN

CAST

Nikki reed (Sleepy Hollow)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)
Vanessa Hudgens (Powers)
Holly Hunter (Batman v Superman)
Brady Corbet (Melancholia)
Sarah Clarke (Twilight)
Kip Pardue (Driven)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn)
Cynthia Ettinger (The Silence of The Lambs)
Deborah Kara Unger (Highlander III)

image-w1280Thirteen-year-old Tracy Freeland begins her school year as a smart and sweet honor student at a middle school in Los Angeles. Her divorced mother Melanie is a recovering alcoholic, who struggles to support Tracy and her older brother Mason as a hairdresser. Tracy feels ignored by her mother, who is too busy with her fellow ex-addict boyfriend Brady to address Tracy’s increasing depression. After being teased for her “Cabbage Patch” clothes, Tracy decides to shed her ‘little girl’ image and gets her mother to purchase trendier clothes. When Tracy wears one of her new outfits to school, she is complimented by Evie Zamora, one of the most popular girls at school. Evie invites Tracy to go shopping on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood but gives her a fake phone number as a prank. Nevertheless, Tracy determinedly shows up on Melrose Avenue and meets up with Evie and her friend Astrid. Tracy is uncomfortable with the two shoplifting and excuses herself to sit outside the store on a bench.3When a distracted rich woman sits next to Tracy, Tracy takes the chance to steal the woman’s wallet, which impresses Evie and Astrid. The three go on a shopping spree with the stolen money and Tracy and Evie become fast friends. Evie introduces Tracy to her world of sex, drugs, and criminal activity, much to Tracy’s delight. When Evie tells Melanie that her legal guardian/cousin Brooke sent her an email, about going to a convention in Bakersfield for 2 weeks, she temporarily moves into the Freeland household and discovers that Tracy regularly cuts herself to cope with stress. The two promise to stay friends forever and continue with their self destructive exploits. Although Melanie is concerned about the change in Tracy’s behavior and worries about the extent of Evie’s influence, she cannot find a way to intervene. Melanie attempts to send Evie home but Evie claims her guardian’s boyfriend is physically abusive. A torn Melanie reluctantly agrees to let her stay. As Tracy and Evie become closer, Tracy shuts Melanie further out of her life.MCDTHIR FE001Evie and Tracy get increasingly out of control, each egging the other on. The pair attempt to seduce Tracy’s neighbor Luke, a lifeguard in his early twenties, and ditch a family movie night to get high on the streets. Mason is shocked when he bumps into Tracy wearing sexualized clothing, including thong underwear, but Tracy dismisses his concerns. Later on, the girls take turns inhaling from a can of gas duster for computers for fun and become so intoxicated that they hit each other, accidentally drawing blood. Melanie attempts to break the girl’s friendship by sending Tracy to live with her father but he refuses. Meanwhile, Melanie goes over to Brooke’s house, with Tracy and Evie, to find out what is going on, because she’s been calling Brooke for two weeks. They find that Brooke was hiding because of bad plastic surgery she received. Evie asks Melanie to formally adopt her but Melanie refuses. Tracy meekly supports her mother’s decision. Angry and hurt, a tearful Evie storms off. At school, Evie turns her friends against Tracy and, depressed, Tracy slowly begins to realize the negative effects of her lifestyle when she is told she might have to repeat the seventh grade. To her surprise, Brady finds her walking home from school and takes her home where Melanie, Evie, and Brooke are sitting quietly in the living room waiting for her.thirteenBrooke confronts Tracy about her drug use and stealing, having been convinced that Tracy was the bad influence by Evie. Outraged, Tracy insists that Evie was the instigator but Brooke refuses to listen and announces that she is moving Evie to Ojai to keep her away from Tracy. Melanie defends Tracy’s innocence but then Brooke pulls Tracy’s sleeve up to show Melanie Tracy’s self-harm scars, showing that Tracy was troubled long before she met Evie. After a screaming match, Brooke and Evie leave. Tracy weeps in Melanie’s arms and attempts to fight against her mother’s love, but Melanie embraces her and insists that she loves Tracy regardless. Tracy tearfully pleads with Melanie to let go, with no success. The two fall asleep on Tracy’s bed. The last scene shows Tracy spinning alone and screaming on a park merry-go-round during the daytime.10386826_3This film pulls no punches, and viewers should be aware that this is a serious and at times disturbing portrait of female adolescence – not family viewing.Thirteen allows the outside world to get a small glimpse at what impressionable teenagers have to deal with in a overly demanding society.

REVIEW: THE MISSING

CAST

Tommy Lee Jones (Batman Forever)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)
Jenna Boyd (The Hunted)
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Simon Baker (I, Robot)
Clint Howard (Apollo 11)
Rance Howard (Universal Soldier)

In late 19th-century New Mexico, Samuel Jones reappears hoping to reconcile with his adult daughter Maggie Gilkeson. She is unable to forgive him for abandoning the family and leaving her mother to a hard life and early death. This situation changes when Pesh-Chidin and a dozen of his followers (who have left the reservation) pass through the area, ritualistically killing settlers and taking their daughters to be sold into slavery in Mexico. Among those captured is Maggie’s eldest daughter, Lilly. Maggie’s rancher boyfriend Brake Baldwin was among the settlers killed.

The U.S. Cavalry refuses to help retrieve the captive women as its resources are tied up conducting forced relocation of captive Native Americans. This leaves Maggie, her father, and her younger daughter Dot alone in tracking the attackers. The group unexpectedly meets up with Kayitah, a Chiricahua, and an old friend of Jones, who also happens to be tracking the attackers with his son Honesco, because among the captives is a young Chiricahua woman who is engaged to Honesco. After the two agree to join the group, and Maggie treats Honesco’s injuries, Kayitah informs Maggie that Jones had been a member of their Chiricahua band where he gained the name Chaa-duu-ba-its-iidan (“shit for luck”) during his wanderings.

It is finally with the combined efforts of the two families that they are able to free the women, at the cost of Kayitah’s life, and immediately flee to the mountains with the kidnappers behind them. Knowing they have no other choice but to stand their ground, the group fights off the remaining kidnappers. During the battle, Jones fights El Brujo, the one responsible for kidnapping his granddaughter. When Brujo attempts to kill Maggie with a shotgun, Jones sacrifices his life to save his daughter as both he and Brujo fall off a cliff to their deaths. Maggie shoots at the last remaining kidnappers to scare them off. She realizes her father’s love for her and finally forgives him. Then she goes home with her father´s body, her daughters and the other kidnapped girls.

This is a film that uses the western genre to explore the nature of the father/daughter relationship. Both Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett give superb performances as the estranged pair. The writing and the acting in this film complement each other beautifully, and this film could well make it into the category of “The Great Western”.