REVIEW: CITY BY THE SEA

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)
John Dorman (Gotham)

Vincent LaMarca (Robert De Niro) is a veteran New York City Police Department detective, whose criminal father had been executed for murder, after a child whom he had kidnapped was killed. Vincent has had to live with this stigma hanging over his own reputation, and history begins to repeat itself when his own son, Joey LaMarca (James Franco), a junkie, becomes involved in a drug-related killing. Joey suddenly comes to the attention of Vincent’s current girlfriend, Michelle (Frances McDormand), who was unaware that he even had a son, and she can not understand why Vincent is unwilling to help him.Joey’s girlfriend Gina (Eliza Dushku), who is struggling to stay sober for their infant son Angelo, comes into Vincent’s life, asking him to save Joey. She later abandons the child, leaving him with Vincent. Joey gets deeper into trouble when the local drug enforcer, Spyder (William Forsythe), kills Vincent’s cop partner Reg (George Dzundza). Reg had been helping Vincent to clear Joey’s name, but Joey is blamed for his murder. As his fellow police officers search for Joey as a suspected “cop killer,” Vincent decides to set aside his self-imposed isolation, and to help save his son’s life.City by the Sea is a must see for De Niro fans and a good watch for anyone into gritty dramas

 

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REVIEW: PROMISED LAND

CAST

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
John Krasinski (License To Wed)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Rosemarie DeWitt (Poltergeist)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Superman)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Terry Kinney (Billions)
Hal Holbrook (Wall Street)
Lucas Black (Legion)

Steve Butler (Damon) has caught the eyes of top management at his employer, Global Crosspower Solutions, an energy company that specializes in obtaining natural gas trapped underground through a process known as fracking. Butler has an excellent track record for quickly and cheaply persuading land owners to sign mineral rights leases that grant drilling rights over to his employer. Butler and his partner Sue Thomason (McDormand) arrive in an economically struggling Pennsylvania farming town whose citizens are proud of having family farms passed from one generation to the next. Coming from a town and a life very similar to that of the people he is now determined to win over on behalf of Global, Butler tells the story of how his own town died after the local Caterpillar assembly plant closed. The idea of a town surviving solely on family farms being passed down through generations as a viable economy is one that he can no longer accept. He claims to be offering the town its last chance. Butler spends some pleasant after-hours time with Alice, a teacher he meets in a bar.The community seems willing to accept Global’s offer, until an elderly, local high school science teacher, Frank Yates (Holbrook), who happened to be a successful engineer in his working life, raises the question of the safety of fracking during a town meeting. It’s decided that the people will vote in a few weeks whether or not to take the offer. After hearing about the vote, Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), an unknown environmental advocate, starts a grassroots campaign against Global, motivated by a tale of his family losing its Nebraska dairy farm after the herd died as a result of Global’s industry-standard fracking process. Butler begins to meet a great deal of resistance in town. Noble seems to be winning over nearly everyone, including Alice. One night Butler receives a package from Global that includes an enlarged copy of a photograph of dead cattle on a field that Noble said came from his family’s Nebraska farm. The enlargement shows that an object thought to be a silo is in fact a lighthouse, which are nonexistent in Nebraska, revealing that Noble fabricated his story and deceived the people. The picture was in fact from Lafayette, Louisiana, where Global is in the midst of a lawsuit over environmental complications that were probably caused by their fracking practices.Butler informs the town’s mayor of the deception, who in turn informs the rest of the town. He returns to the hotel to find Noble loading his truck, preparing to leave town. Noble accidentally reveals that he knows the picture with the lighthouse was taken in Lafayette (In real-life, there are no lighthouses in or even remotely close to Lafayette, LA either.). Butler realizes that the only way Noble could have known this is if he were also employed by Global, and that Noble’s job had been to discredit the environmental movement and, at the last minute, convince the town to vote in favor of Global’s offer. He arranged for Butler to receive the “confidential” photos and engineered the entire public relations effort. At a town meeting the next day, the citizens are prepared to vote on Global’s efforts to buy drilling rights to their property. Butler talks to them about how the barn in the picture reminds him of his grandfather’s barn. He reveals that Noble had manipulated them and is employed by Global. Butler leaves the meeting to find Thomason on the phone with Global. She tells him that he’s fired and that she is leaving for New York. Butler walks to Alice’s home and she welcomes him in.All in all, even if political/social/ecological issues regarding hydrofracking aren’t your forte, this film is a quality film that is captivating and deserves to have personal opinions set aside and enjoyed for its quality

 

REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 17-18

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alec Baldwin (The Shadow)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Dennis Rodman (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lily Tomlin (The West Wing)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Maria Grazia Cucinotta  (The Rite)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Antonio Fargas (Starsky and Hutch)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Dave Thomas (Bones)
Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town)
Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate SG.1)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Larry Hagman (Dallas)
Melanie Griffith (Working Girl)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Mandy Moore (Saved)
Michael Imperioli (The Lovely Bones)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Fran Drescher (The Nanny)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Richard Lewis (Drunks)
Dr. Phil (Scary Movie 4)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja III)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Eric Idle (Life of Brian)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Meg Ryan (Amityvlle 3)
Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm In The Middle)
Betty White (The Golden Girls)
Stephen Hawking (The Big Bang Theory)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)

When we were 17 it was a very good year — a year for Homer’s new dad, MacGyver gets mad, Sideshow Bob’s not so bad… Another comical compilation of “The Simpsons” – the longest-running scripted show in television history – has arrived. Season 17 contains all 22 outrageous episodes, a vast repertoire of Springfieldian special features, plus a mind-blowing list of celebrity guest voices, including Alec Baldwin, Larry Hagman, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Rob Reiner, Susan Sarandon and Lily Tomlin, just to name a few, with additional guest voices also providing commentary including Richard Dean Anderson, Ricky Gervais, Michael York and Kelsey Grammer. Phew!

SEASON 17 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

17.1) BONFIRE OF THE MANATEES

After Homer gets into trouble over his football gambling debts, he allows the Springfield Mafia to shoot a porno film (euphemistically called a “snuggle film”) in the house without Marge’s permission. When she and the kids return home from a trip to “Santa’s Village” and find production still going on, a furious Marge leaves for the beach–and encounters a marine biologist named Caleb Thorn who has dedicated his life to saving manatees.17.2) THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SLEPT TOO LITTLE

After the family successfully protests against a stamp museum being built next to their house, a cemetery is built near the Simpson house instead, making the normally unflappable Lisa realize that someone as smart as her can be afraid of something

17.5) MARGE’S SON POISONING

Marge buys a tandem bicycle and after she fails to ride it on her own, Bart offers to ride with her. He soon finds himself increasingly spending time with his mother, until school bullies accuse him of being a “mama’s boy”. Meanwhile, Moe pushes Homer into the world of professional arm wrestling after seeing Homer doing 50,000 reps on his right arm.17.6) SEE HOMER RUN

In order to win back Lisa’s love after shunning her Father’s Day gift (and fearing that the action will cause Lisa to despise all men), Homer takes a job as a costumed mascot known as “The Safety Salamander”, who wins public acclaim for saving drivers from a car accident. Meanwhile, Springfield holds a recall election to get Mayor Quimby out of office.17.7) THE LAST OF THE RED HAT MAMAS

Marge joins a woman’s group after Homer humiliates her at the Mayor’s Easter egg hunt, but Marge discovers that her new friends are thieves planning a heist. Meanwhile, Lisa searches for a tutor to help her speak Italian–and finds one in Milhouse.screen-shot-2012-10-14-at-12-39-35-pm17.8) THE ITALIAN BOB

After Mr. Burns is teased about his car, he sends Homer and the family off to Italy to pick up his new fancy sports car. While on their Italian adventure, the Simpsons end up stranded in a small Italian village where a rehabilitated Sideshow Bob reigns as mayor with a wife and son.17.10) HOMER’S PATERNITY COOT

Marge’s protest against a toll booth causes an accident at the Springfield Tire Yard (which has been perpetually on fire since the 1980s), melting a frozen section of a mountain and revealing the corpse of a mailman who has a letter from Homer’s mom, who had an affair with a handsome lifeguard who may be Homer’s biological father.17.11) WE’RE ON THE ROAD TO D’OHWHERE

After Bart steals a key from Principal Skinner’s office and gets himself into hot water (literally, by fooling around with the school’s steam system), Principal Skinner sentences Bart to a “behavior modification camp”–and Homer must give up his Vegas vacation with his bar buddies in order to take Bart there since he has been put on the airport’s “No Fly” List. Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa have a yard sale–and discover that their biggest-selling product are the many expired medications they have accumulated over the years.17.12) MY FAIR LADDY

Lisa attempts to transform Groundskeeper Willie into a proper gentleman after Groundskeeper Willie’s shack collapses and, like many other secondary and one-time characters over the years, is forced to live with The Simpsons. Meanwhile, Homer becomes a human billboard to save the company that makes his pants.17.15) HOMER SIMPSON, THIS IS YOUR WIFE

Homer’s obsession with Lenny’s new plasma TV prompts Marge to enter the family in a sweepstakes, and they win a trip to the Fox Studio Lot. Against Marge’s wishes, Homer signs them up for a Trading Spouses/Wife Swap-style reality show and is forced to take in a controlling wife, while Marge moves in with a beaten-down husband, Charlie, and his perfect son.17.17) KISS KISS, BANG BANGALORE

Patty and Selma abduct Richard Dean Anderson (the actor best known for playing MacGyver) during the Springfield Stargate SG-1 convention after Anderson rudely tells the terrible twins that he only did MacGyver to make money. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns outsources his nuclear plant to India and chooses Homer to be the new boss.17.19) GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE SUMS

Principal Skinner is replaced by a women’s education expert after making a sexist statement about women’s math skills during a musical (which was written by a former female Springfield Elementary school student who was a math whiz), who segregates the school by gender. At first, Lisa loves the arrangement, but when she discovers that the girls’ classes are more about self-esteem boosting than actual learning, Lisa disguises herself as a boy and attends the boys’ classes.17.20) REGARDING MARGIE

Marge goes nuts trying to clean the kitchen in time for a best house contest, but when she inhales the fumes of one too many cleaning solvents, she passes out and bangs her head on a stool. When Marge comes to at the hospital, she is stricken with amnesia, which does not last when she immediately remembers everyone in the family through their quirks–except for Homer. With Marge’s memory of Homer erased, Patty and Selma help their sister find a new man.17.21) THE MONKEY SUIT

Reverend Lovejoy is appointed to spread the word of creationism in Springfield after Flanders complains about a new museum display about evolution, leading creationism to be taught in schools — and Lisa to fight back with secret classes about Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution.17.22) HOMER AND MARGE TURN A COUPLE PLAY

A first baseman for the Springfield Isotopes calls upon Homer and Marge to help him with his marriage to a stripper/pop singer named Tabitha Vixx, who upstages him with a racy musical number during one of his games.UntitledThe argument will rage long  about when exactly America’s finest television animated export actually peaked. After 18 seasons, the show is still going strong.

SEASON 18 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

18.1) THE MOOK, THE CHEF, THE WIFE AND HER HOMER

Lisa becomes friends with Fat Tony’s son Michael, who would rather cook than run a crime ring, but when the Simpsons are invited over for dinner and Fat Tony is shot, Homer ends up being the town’s newest kingpin.18.2) JAZZY AND THE PUSSYCATS

Bart gets a drum kit to work out his aggressions after being a nuisance at the funeral of Homer’s Vegas wife and becomes top pick for a local jazz band — a position that the saxophone-playing Lisa has been going after for years.18.3) PLEASE HOMER, DON’T HAMMER ‘EM

Marge takes an interest in carpentry after reading some books on the subject meant for Homer, but when everyone in town declines Marge’s services (because they believe that women cannot be carpenters), Marge uses Homer as a front. Meanwhile, Bart discovers that Principal Skinner is allergic to peanuts and uses his allergy to do his bidding.8_cWv8TwU5iSDN-wTr-T9YU_re018.6) G.I. D’OH

Homer finds himself in an army training camp after trying to get his children out of an agreement to join by age 18.18.6) MOE’N’A LISA

Lisa discovers that Moe’s written rantings are perfect fodder for poetry, but when Moe is invited to a writer’s convention that throws out anyone who uses someone else to create their works, Moe ends up taking the credit.18.7) ICE CREAM OF MARGIE: WITH THE LIGHT BLUE HAIR

After Homer gets fired once again from the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, he takes over Springfield’s ice cream truck business after his favorite driver dies. Meanwhile, Marge, depressed over seeing women more successful than her and looking for a way to be remembered, creates sculptures from the discarded Popsicle sticks in Homer’s ice cream truck.18.10) THE WIFE AQUATIC

When Patty and Selma save “Outdoor Movie Night” from going bust by playing an old home movie of their time at Barnacle Bay, Homer decides to surprise Marge by taking her and the kids there — only to find her childhood vacation spot an abandoned wreck.18.12) LITTLE BIG GIRL

When Cletus ineptly tosses his pipe, Springfield is in danger when the town is about to be hit by a ferocious fire. Bart unwittingly saves the day and is rewarded with a driver’s license. However, when he drives to North Haverbrook, he is then engaged with a girl named Darcy who ropes Bart into marriage after declaring that she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, Lisa lies about her family heritage in an essay and gets chosen to give a keynote speech at a convention.18.13) SPRINGFIELD UP!

Declan Desmond returns as he shows a documentary about Springfield’s current adult population as children, discussing their future aspirations and meets up with Homer to see if he followed his dreams.Rome-old_and_Juli-eh18.15) ROMEO-OLD AND JULI-EH

When Grampa gets kicked out of the retirement castle thanks to Homer declaring bankruptcy (and discovering that bankruptcy laws have changed), Grampa falls in love with Marge’s sister Selma, prompting sworn enemies Homer and Patty to team up to break them up. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa con a delivery man into giving them cardboard boxes for a fort, but the delivery men fight back.18.16) HOMERAZZI

After the family photo album is destroyed in a fire involving a Krusty doll and a bottle of cologne, Marge restages all of the family’s photographs, and when a celebrity dating scandal is captured in the background of one of their photos, the Simpsons strike tabloid gold. Tasting success and seeing money to be made, Homer takes to the streets as one of the paparazzi, capturing Springfield’s celebrities at their worst.18.17) MARGE GAMER

Marge discovers the wonders of the Internet and becomes hooked on an online roleplaying game, where Bart is the game master. Meanwhile, Lisa resorts to cheating to score points with Homer (who is now a referee) during soccer matches.Simpsons_18_20_P418.19) CROOK AND LADDER

When reading a parenting magazine, Marge follows the advice too literally and throws away Maggie’s pacifier. However, when the pacifier is thrown in the trash, Maggie goes on a path of destruction in the Simpsons’ home. Meanwhile, Homer, Moe, Apu, and Principal Skinner become volunteer firefighters and begin stealing items from the homes whose fires they extinguish.18.21) 24 MINUTES

When finding out Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney plan on sabotaging Springfield Elementary School’s annual bake sale by releasing the “ultimate stinkbomb” (a rotten yogurt cup from Springfield’s Nuclear Power Plant), Bart and Lisa enlist the help of Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brian. Meanwhile, Marge attempts to make the perfect cake for the school bake sale.screen-shot-2012-11-27-at-1-31-02-pm18.22) YOU KENT ALWAYS SAY WHAT YOU WANT

Thanks to Ned Flanders’ meddling, Kent Brockman gets in trouble for blurting a horrible curse word during a soft-news interview about Homer winning Phineas Q. Butterfat’s 1,000,000th ice cream cone, and gets fired for allegedly being a cocaine addict. While living with the Simpsons, Brockman teams up with Lisa to create a YouTube video revealing why a politically conservative media empire like Fox would create raunchy television shows.DGERTGERERTWhatever people feel about the Simpsons later years, there’s still some great episodes here.

REVIEW: HAIL, CAESAR!

CAST

George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex)
Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Alison Pill (Scott PIlgrim vs The World)
Emily Beecham (Bon Voyage)
Heather Goldenhersh (The Class)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Fred Melamed (The Dictator)
Patrick Fischler (Old School)
David Krumholtz (Mom)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow0
Robert Pciardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Natasha Bassett (Britney Ever AFter)
Dolph Lundgren (Arrow)
Robert Trebor (Hercules: TLJ)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)

In 1951, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the head of physical production at Capitol Pictures and also works as a “fixer” to keep the scandalous behavior of its stars out of the press. He often has to fend off inquiries from Thora and Thessaly Thacker (both played by Tilda Swinton), twin sisters and rival gossip columnists. The Lockheed Corporation has been courting him with an offer of a high-level executive position, but he is unsure about taking it. When unmarried synchronised swimming actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) becomes pregnant, Mannix arranges for her to put the baby in foster care, and then adopt it without revealing herself as the mother. The studio’s major production is Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ, an epic set in ancient Roman times and starring Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). During a shot, Whitlock drinks from a goblet of wine that was drugged by an extra (Wayne Knight); he passes out while rehearsing lines by himself behind the soundstage and is abducted. A ransom note soon arrives, written by a group calling itself “The Future,” demanding $100,000. Mannix arranges to get the money from the studio’s Accounting Department, as “petty cash.”
Whitlock awakens in a beach house and finds his way into a meeting of The Future, a Communist cell. The members, who introduce themselves as mostly writers in the motion picture industry, explain their doctrine to him and begin to win him over to their cause. At the same time, Thora threatens Mannix by stating she will release an article about a scandal involving the earlier film On Wings As Eagles, which gave Whitlock his break-out role. Mannix successfully negotiates for her to postpone the story by a day in exchange for information about the romantic life of singing Western film star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich). Doyle is cast in a period drama helmed by posh director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) in an attempt by the studio to broaden his appeal. After Doyle’s initial performance is hopelessly incompetent, Laurentz visits Mannix and asks him to remove Doyle from the project so that Laurentz can preserve his artistic vision for the film. Mannix informs Laurentz that Doyle’s role is non-negotiable and convinces him to coach the young actor to give a better performance. Doyle comes to Mannix’s office and admits that he feels the part is too far outside his comfort zone. Mannix reassures him that he has the needed acting abilities and tells him about Whitlock’s kidnapping.
That evening, Doyle attends the premiere of one of his own Westerns with starlet Carlotta Valdez (Verónica Osorio), per instructions from Mannix. Doyle is initially disappointed that his lone singing scene is depicted in a comedic manner, rather than as heartfelt as he intended. However, after seeing the audience react positively to the scene, Doyle warms to it himself. Doyle and Valdez visit a nightclub, where the pair are genuinely developing chemistry until they are interrupted by both Thacker sisters, each looking to get a scoop on their relationship. Doyle suddenly spots the briefcase containing the ransom money, recognizing it because he had lent Mannix his belt to keep it closed. It is being carried by Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), the star of a sailor musical comedy depicted earlier in an elaborate dancing scene. Mannix and Moran meet with a surety agent, Joseph Silverman (Jonah Hill), an average man whom the studio has used to solve public problems; he has a solid reputation as completely dependable, reliable, and discreet. He will agree to provide foster care for Moran’s child, preserving her image. Moran, who expressed frustration with her previous two marriages with a mobster and a Hollywood type, finds herself strongly attracted to Silverman.
Doyle follows Gurney to the beach house in Malibu but, after walking in the front door, finds only Whitlock inside. The rest of The Future’s members have rowed a boat containing Gurney offshore so that he can rendezvous with a Soviet submarine and defect to Russia. The members of The Future give him the money for the Communist cause. As Gurney boards the submarine, his dog jumps into his arms, causing him to drop the briefcase, which sinks into the ocean. Doyle takes Whitlock back to the studio just before the police arrive at the beach house to arrest the group, after Mannix’s investigation led him to the house. Whitlock tries to explain his new-found Communist leanings to Mannix, who cuts him off sharply, slapping his face numerous times, and orders him to finish his role in Hail, Caesar!; the actor is chastened, but encouraged by a final directive from Mannix to be a movie star.
Mannix is notified the next morning that Moran married Silverman who will adopt the child with her. Mannix announces he has decided to reject the Lockheed offer and continue working at Capitol. Thora then meets with Mannix and informs him that the column she plans to publish about On Wings As Eagles will reveal that Whitlock got his major role in the film by having sex with Laurentz. However, Mannix has deduced that Gurney is her source for the piece and persuades her to not run the story since Gurney is a Communist who has defected—which would cause her own reputation to suffer by association. Mannix leaves the worried-looking Thora, secure in his station in life.I think that you need to be something of a film buff to really enjoy this Coen Brothers offering, which is an affectionate homage to the history of Hollywood. There are references to the influence of McCarthyism and nods to many genres, from the ‘B’ Western to the biblically based epic. Most of the comedy is gentle and occasionally subtle, not to say understated. It is both easily worth 5 stars and thoroughly recommended.

REVIEW: BURN AFTER READING

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
John Malkovich (Red)
Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
David Rasche (Ugly Betty)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)
Dermot Mulroney (New Girl)

Faced with a demotion at work due to a drinking problem, Osbourne Cox angrily quits his job as a CIA analyst and resolves to write a memoir about his life and career. When his pediatrician wife Katie finds out, she sees it as a justifiable opportunity to file for divorce and continue her adulterous affair unimpeded. Taking her lawyer’s advice, she copies financial records and several other files from her husband’s computer onto a CD. These files contain a rambling, meaningless diatribe by Cox on purported CIA activities.
When the CD gets left on the locker room floor of Hardbodies, a local gym, by a careless law firm employee, it falls into the hands of dim-witted personal trainer Chad Feldheimer and his co-worker Linda Litzke, who mistakenly believe the numerical data in the Coxes’ bank records, and especially, Cox’s diatribes, to be highly sensitive government information. After getting the data traced back to Osbourne, who thinks his memoirs have been stolen, Chad and Linda plan to give the disc back to him for a reward, with Linda planning to use the money to pay for plastic surgery. When a phone call and subsequent meeting with Osbourne provoke a furious reaction and go horribly wrong, Chad and Linda turn over the disc to the Russian embassy, offering more information in return for monetary compensation. With no other data to give them, Linda persuades Chad to sneak into the Coxes’ home to get more files from their computer.
Meanwhile, Osbourne’s increasingly erratic behavior, aggravated in part by his encounters with Chad and Linda, prompt Katie to move ahead with the divorce proceedings. She changes the locks on their house, forcing Osbourne to move onto the sailboat they have docked on the Chesapeake Bay. With her husband out of the picture, Katie invites her lover, Harry Pfarrer, to move in. A womanizing, multi-adulterous deputy U.S. Marshal, Harry is coincidentally also secretly seeing Linda. Harry finds Chad, whom Linda sent to find more files on Osbourne, hiding in a wardrobe in the Coxes’ home, panics, and fatally shoots Chad.
Two days later at the CIA headquarters, Palmer Smith, Osbourne’s former superior, and his director learn that information from Osbourne has been given to the Russian Embassy. The two men are perplexed, given Osbourne’s low-level security clearance, the material delivered to the Russians being of no importance to anyone, and the apparent motive of all involved parties remaining unknown. Smith is told to maintain observation until the situation “makes sense.” Harry, burdened by keeping the day prior’s events secret, gets into an argument with Katie and decides to leave the house. On his way out, he spots a man who has been trailing him for the past several days. After tackling him to the ground, Harry finds out that the man is a private detective hired by his wife Sandra “Sandy” to gather evidence for impending divorce proceedings. Sandy is shown to be having an extramarital liaison of her own. Harry is devastated and goes to see an agitated Linda, who confides in Harry that Chad is missing. Harry agrees to help find Chad.
The next morning, Harry and Linda meet in a park. Linda spots a former date on a nearby bench (ostensibly waiting to meet another online dating hookup), who has also noticed her and is clearly looking in her direction. Harry notices this and asks Linda if she knows the man. Linda, embarrassed to admit to a previous assignation, denies knowing him, which makes Harry suspicious. Linda provides him with more information about Chad’s disappearance. When Linda mentions the name “Osbourne Cox,” Harry figures out that Chad is the man he shot. He panics, realizes that there are strange men in the park (most likely the CIA people trailing Linda) and flees, assuming Linda is a spy. Linda then turns to Ted Treffon, the kindhearted manager of Hardbodies, who has unrequited feelings for her and has been critical of Linda and Chad’s scheming thus far. In her frustration, Linda exclaims that she hates Ted, which devastates him. Believing the Russians have kidnapped Chad, he agrees to go to the Coxes’ home to search Osbourne’s computer. Unemployed and having spent the past several days living on a small boat, Osbourne becomes unhinged when he finds out that Katie has emptied his bank accounts and, no longer having keys, decides to break into the house to get some of his personal belongings. Finding Ted in the basement, Osbourne initially takes him to be Katie’s lover. He soon realizes Ted’s affiliation with Linda and what he refers to as the “league of morons” he feels that he has been struggling against his whole life and kills Ted.
At CIA headquarters a few days later, Palmer and his director try to understand what exactly happened. It is revealed that while trying to board a flight to Venezuela, Harry was detained because his name was on a hot list and that the CIA is holding Linda, who is promising to “play ball” and “sit on it” if they will pay for her plastic surgery. A CIA agent shot Osbourne during his assault on Ted and the bullet has put Osbourne in a coma. The director instructs Palmer to let Harry fly to Venezuela (as that country has no extradition treaty with the US and therefore will not send him back) and pay for Linda’s surgery. The director and Palmer conclude that despite their oversight and the unusual events that have unfolded, there appears to be no lesson for the agency to have learned, be it moral, espionage or otherwise. “I guess we learned not to do it again,” the director concludes (despite not knowing exactly what they did) and closes his file. Meanwhile, staff at the Russian embassy have dismissed the contents of Cox’s ramblings in the files from his computer—arguably the one factor that started off the entire chain of events—as “drivel”.The writing is brilliant and the Coens weave the story in such a way that it reminds me of their previous movie, The Big Lebowski. In the end, as J.K. Simmons character sums it up himself, nothing really happens, but while watching it all unfold, you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity.

REVIEW: AEON FLUX

CAST
Charlize Theron (Prometheus)
Marton Csokas (Sin City 2)
Jonny Lee Miller (Hackers)
Frances McDormand (Almost Fanous)
Sophie Okonedo (After Earh)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Amelia Warner (Quills)
In 2011, a deadly pathogenic virus has killed 99% of the Earth’s population, forcing the survivors to regroup and scatter across the Earth. 404 years later, in late 2415, all of the survivors inhabit Bregna, a walled futuristic city-state, which is ruled by a congress of scientists. Although Bregna is largely an idyllic place in the destroyed Earth, people routinely disappear and the population suffers from bad dreams. A skilled warrior, named Æon Flux, is a member of the Monicans, an underground rebel organization who communicate through telepathy-enabling technology and are led by the Handler. After a mission to destroy a surveillance station, Æon comes home to find her sister Una has been mistaken for a Monican and killed. When Æon is sent on a mission to kill the government’s leader, Trevor Goodchild, she discovers that both she and the Monicans are being manipulated by council members in a secret coup.
Æon questions the origins of everyone in Bregna, and in particular, her personal connection to Trevor. Everyone in Bregna is revealed to be a clone, grown from recycled DNA. With the dead constantly being reborn as new individuals and bearing partial memories of their previous lives, their troubling dreams have increased. Cloning was required because the antidote to the virus made humans infertile. Trevor’s ongoing experiments were attempts to reverse the infertility. His ancestors had also worked on this problem. Æon learns that she is a clone of the original Trevor’s wife Katherine, and is the first “Katherine” clone in over 400 years.
 One of Trevor’s experiments, Una, was successful: she had become pregnant. However, in order to stay in power, Trevor’s brother, Oren Goodchild, had her killed along with the other members of the experimental group. He ordered all of Trevor’s research to be destroyed. In a confrontation with Trevor and Æon, Oren reveals that nature has corrected the infertility problem and that some women are becoming pregnant. Oren has had them all killed to maintain the Goodchild reign. Æon then goes against both her former allies, who want to kill Trevor, and Oren.
She convinces the other Monicans to ignore the Handler and to help her kill Oren and his men. Æon goes to destroy the Relical, the dirigible that stores the DNA for cloning. There she meets the old man who monitors everything. She discovers that he preserved Katherine’s DNA for years, although Oren had ordered it to be destroyed so “Katherine” could not influence Trevor in any way. The dirigible crashes into the city wall, breaking it down to reveal the surrounding land for the first time in centuries. It is lush and fertile, not a wasteland as they were taught.
The plot is surprisingly stronger than what I expected. It isn’t anything original; everything has all been done before, it ticks all the boxes for what you would expect from a sci-fi movie, but this doesn’t make it bad at all. Along the way there are some genuinely surprising twists in the storyline that keep you interested, and the settings are all fantastic so you really do feel linked to the world they are living in.

REVIEW: ALMOST FAMOUS

CAST

Patrick Fugit (Saved)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Fairuza Balk (Return To Oz)
Bijou Phillips (Hostel: Part II)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby)
Jimmy Fallon (Taxi)
Rainn Wilson (House of 1,000 Corpses)
Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teahcer)
Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)

In 1973, William Miller is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock journalist. His mother, Elaine, wants him to become a lawyer. Shunned by his classmates, he writes for underground papers in San Diego, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums left behind on the day his sister Anita left home.
William listens to an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs. William has sent Bangs copies of his work, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a review of a Black Sabbath concert. At first reluctant to assist a journalist, the band Stillwater brings William backstage after he praises their work. The guitarist, Russell Hammond, takes a liking to William, partly because of William’s friendship with a groupie he has romantic feelings for, Penny.
William goes with Penny to the Riot House – the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard – to meet Stillwater. Penny, feigning retirement from her rock glory days, acts as William’s chauffeur, but only to get close to Russell, for whom she has genuine feelings and a past relationship. William is called by Ben Fong-Torres, editor of Rolling Stone, who wants him to do a story, believing William is several years older than he really is. When William convinces Ben to let him do a story on Stillwater, he is instructed to go on the road with them.
On the first leg of the trip, William makes his first in an increasingly frustrating number of attempts to interview Russell. Penny watches the interaction and sympathizes with William. William experiences tensions with the band due to his role as a journalist. new manager, Dennis, comes on board to help steer the band, and it is revealed that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell’s ex-wife/girlfriend, will join them. During a poker game he allows Dick to put up the groupies as a stake. The band loses the groupies to the band Humble Pie for $50 and a case of Heineken. When William tells Penny, she acts nonchalant but is devastated. Penny and Doris, the band’s tour bus, are left behind; Dennis has piled the band into a plane for more gigs.
Penny goes to New York on her own, and as the band gathers in a restaurant with Russell’s girlfriend, Penny shows up. As they celebrate making the cover of Rolling Stone, Penny makes Leslie uncomfortable and Dick asks her to leave. William chases Penny back to her hotel and finds her overdosed on Quaaludes. Believing they will die during a plane ride, the group confesses their secrets. When Penny is insulted by Jeff, the band’s lead singer, William defends her and discloses his love. The plane lands safely, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere. William continues to San Francisco to finish the story, parting ways with the band in the airport. Upset about Penny, he rewrites the article, telling the truth. The Rolling Stone editors cannot wait to publish it, but have to ask the band to verify it. Fearful of how the article will affect their image, the band makes William look like a liar. William is crushed and the story is dead. Sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who has become a stewardess and lives on her own terms. She tells him they should go on a trip together and, exhausted, William chooses to go home to San Diego.
Backstage at the Miami Orange Bowl on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire talks to Russell about Penny’s near-suicide and how despite the warnings she received about letting people fall in love with her, one of them saved her life. Russell is curious about the person in question, but Sapphire chastises him, saying that everyone knows what the band did to William and how awful they think it is. Russell calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her he wants to meet. Unbeknownst to Russell, she gives him William’s address in an attempt to resolve their conflict. Russell goes to the house, thinking it is Penny’s, but finds Elaine instead. Learning who he is, she lets him in to see William as Russell realizes where he is. They reconcile and Russell reveals that he called Rolling Stone and told them William’s story is true. Russell gives William a proper interview, Penny purchases a ticket to Morocco, and William’s story is published, with Stillwater on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The movie is a wonderful coming of age story with a fantastic soundtrack