HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE QUIET ONES

CAST

Jared Harris (Pompeii)
Sam Claflin (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Erin Richards (Gotham)
Rory Fleck Byrne (Bodies)
Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel)

Having hit the international jackpot with “The Woman in Black,” the revived Hammer Films label follows up with a title that lacks that haunted-house pic’s familiarity of source material, highly accessible premise and equivalently marketable star. Instead, “The Quiet Ones” presents rising actor Sam Claflin as an average guy participating in an ethically dubious scientific experiment into psychic disturbance. The 1970s setting offers a retro feel that should strike appealing chords for fans of old-school horror.May 1974, Oxford. Local lad Brian McNeil (Claflin), who works in the university’s audiovisual unit, is projecting archival research material to accompany a lecture delivered by paranormal psychology expert Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris). Would the young man be willing to film the professor’s potentially groundbreaking work with a profoundly disturbed woman named Jane Harper. The treatment seems less than academically rigorous — for some reason, Jane is subjected to music hits such as Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” at deafening volumes — but an intrigued Brian agrees.

After getting shut down by a nervous university establishment, Coupland’s pet project is happily relocated to more photogenic accommodations in a sprawling country estate. There, the professor, the cameraman and two romantically entangled students — Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) — hunker down with traumatized Jane in a bid to monitor and extract her “negative brain energy.” “Cure one patient, we cure mankind,” declares a messianic Coupland.

Exactly how the university employees and students are able to abruptly abandon their jobs and studies in the middle of the summer term — or where, for that matter, Brian’s footage (which is in fact shot digitally on the Arri Alexa) is being developed and printed — is left to the viewer’s imagination. Instead, attention is pulled toward the highly arresting Jane and her malignant alter ego, Evey, who resides in a child’s plastic doll. B

An easy diagnosis for Jane would be demonic possession, especially when devilish symbols start appearing on skin, and the temperature of Krissi’s bath water is raised to the boiling point, even after she and Harry have returned to the ostensible safety of campus. Really, just how far can Jane’s negative telekinetic energy go? But Coupland resists any supernatural explanations, stubbornly clinging to his own scientific hypothesis right up until the hectic climax.The presence of Brian’s camera gives director John Pogue (“Quarantine 2: Terminal”) plenty of opportunity to throw in found-footage verite as well as jittery handheld sequences, and few will worry too much about the film’s lax standards with regard to its self-filmed conceit. The opening credits make use of that oft-abused expression “inspired by actual events,” and indeed, the story here is based on an actual case in which Toronto researchers attempted to harvest their own emotional energy. The big leap from that particular scientific investigation to the freaky occurrences depicted here needn’t trouble us unduly, but the fact remains that Dr. A.R.G. Owen’s real-life “Philip Experiment” doesn’t sound interesting enough to give Lionsgate and Hammer much of an additional marketing hook equivalent to, say, the paranormal investigators whose work inspired “The Conjuring.”

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE

CAST

Milla Jovovich (The Three Musketeers)
Sienna Guillory (Eragon)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Thomas Kretschmann (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Sophie Vavasseur (Evelyn)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Mike Epps (The Hangover)
Iain Glen (Game of Thrones)
Sandrine Holt (Underworld: Awakening)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Megan Fahlenbock (Get Over It)
Aaron Abrams (Hannibal)

After the contamination of The Hive in the previous film, the Umbrella Corporation unwisely sends in a research team to reopen the complex and investigate the incident, since no one survived except Alice and Matt Addison, both of whom were imprisoned and experimented on. When the team reprograms and opens the sealed blast doors, they are slaughtered by the massive crowd of T-virus infected zombies.With the zombies released, they reach Raccoon City, spreading the infection among the general population. Two days after the infection has spread to the surface, Umbrella, now worried about a possible worldwide contamination, quarantines Raccoon City and establishes a security perimeter around it, also evacuating all important Umbrella personnel. However, a girl named Angela Ashford (Sophie Vavasseur), daughter of the Level 6 Umbrella researcher and T-virus creator Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris), goes missing after an Umbrella security car transporting her out of Raccoon City suffers a traffic accident.Alice awakens in the deserted Raccoon City hospital attached to wiring, and after unstrapping herself, she manages to exit her room. Finding no one in the hospital, she wanders outside only to find the city a ghost town, overrun by zombies. She arms herself with a shotgun from a police car and wanders the city looking for supplies. She is constantly disturbed by visions of a man, who was revealed to be experimenting on her; she now has superhuman agility and strength.While Umbrella is evacuating civilians at the Raven’s Gate Bridge, the only exit out of the town, disgraced police officer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), confers with Sergeant Payton Wells (Razaaq Adoti), her old ally, after hearing about the infection being true. However, the T-virus infects a man having a heart attack, turning him into a zombie that bites Payton at the city gates. Umbrella’s supervisor and the head of the Raccoon City contamination operation, Major Timothy Cain (Thomas Kretschmann), worried that the T-virus has reached the gates, seals the exit and orders his soldiers to fire over the crowd’s heads, scaring them back into the city. Elsewhere, Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and other Umbrella soldiers link up with Special Tactics And Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) units to defend against an onslaught of zombies. Their positions are overrun, causing Carlos and his team to retreat with a bitten Yuri (Stefen Hayes), who turns into a zombie and infects Carlos before being killed. Jill, Payton, and news reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt) lock themselves in a church, where a panicked man is also hiding. Inspecting the church, Jill finds a priest who has been feeding other people to his zombified sister. They soon find the church is full of Lickers. The priest and the panicked man are killed, but Jill, Payton, and Terri are saved at the last minute by the heavily armed Alice.In the meantime, Umbrella dispatches their Nemesis Program to fight the zombies in order to test him. When Nemesis encounters a surviving citizen, L.J. (Mike Epps), and members of S.T.A.R.S., the latter open fire on Nemesis. Nemesis guns the team down but spares L.J.’s life when he drops his weapons. Meanwhile, Dr. Ashford has refused extraction, since Angela is missing, and soon discovers she is hiding in her school. He hacks into the city’s CCTV system, uses it to contact Alice and the other survivors, and offers to arrange their evacuation in exchange for their rescuing Angela. Alice, seeing no other escape, accepts the offer. Payton, Terri, and Jill initially refuse, intending to hide until backup arrives, but Alice explains her choice – as the contamination cannot be controlled, a nuclear bomb will be dropped on Raccoon City, completely destroying it, with a cover story of a meltdown of the local nuclear power plant.Seeing no choice, the others join Alice in heading for the school. However, Nemesis appears and shoots Payton dead. Alice separates and assaults him, but she is overwhelmed and forced into retreat. Jill and Terri make it to the school, and they pick up L.J. on the way. Inside the school, they find Carlos and Nicholai (Zack Ward), acting on the same offer. After encounters with zombie dogs and infected children who kill Nicholai and Terri, Alice saves the group again, and they find Angela. Angela reveals she was injected with the T-virus; she was ill with a genetic disease and forced to walk on crutches. Dr. Ashford created the T-virus to allow her to walk, and he created the anti-virus because of the T-virus’ potential for mutations, but the virus was then impounded and weaponized by Umbrella. Alice uses Terri’s video camera to record her story and injects Carlos with the anti-virus carried by Angela, to keep her infection in check.Dr. Ashford gives Alice the location of the extraction point at City Hall, where the helicopter waits. The group makes it to the rendezvous but is cornered by Major Cain, who has caught wind of Dr. Ashford’s intentions and is holding him prisoner. All but Alice are restrained, and seconds later Nemesis appears; the helicopter is actually Nemesis’ extraction before the bomb detonation. Cain commands Alice to fight Nemesis. Alice refuses, but when Cain shoots Dr. Ashford dead in cold-blood and threatens the others, she relents and fights Nemesis, impaling him on a pole. Defeating Nemesis, she realizes he is Matt Addison, her friend and one of the survivors in The Hive. As he was infected by a Licker and started to mutate, he was placed in the program and experimented on.Her stand and refusing to kill him rekindles a trace of Matt’s former humanity; he and Alice join forces and attack the Umbrella forces. Meanwhile, Carlos and Jill cut themselves free from their bonds and join the fight. Nemesis is killed, protecting Alice from an exploding helicopter. Cain, having been knocked out in an attempt to flee during the fight, is thrown out of the helicopter by Alice and is left to be devoured by a horde of encroaching zombies, including Dr. Ashford. As the survivors escape in the remaining chopper, the nuclear missile detonates over the City Hall. The helicopter is caught in the blast wave and crashes. As the helicopter falls, a metal pole comes loose and is flung towards Angela. Alice moves in front of Angela and is impaled, saving her but mortally wounding herself.Some hours after the explosion, Umbrella employees locate the helicopter’s crash site, deep in the Arklay Mountains. There, they find Alice’s body, badly burned; the others are nowhere to be found. The media later shows that Terri’s footage has been shown to the press, but despite Carlos and Jill’s best efforts, Umbrella promotes a fake story about a nuclear power plant explosion near the city with ease. The infection is characterized as a hoax, and the media announces that Jill and Carlos are wanted by the police for questioning.Three weeks later, in Umbrella’s research facility in Detroit, Alice awakens. Led by Umbrella scientist Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen), the doctors begin questioning her. Soon, she recalls events from Raccoon City and before. She realizes that the man who appeared in her visions is Dr. Isaacs. She attacks him, fights her way out of the facility, and makes her way outside, only to be surrounded by more Umbrella guards holding her at gunpoint. Suddenly, Jill, Carlos, Angela, and L.J. arrive, disguised as Umbrella employees. Carlos shows the guards an order placing her in his custody. Dr. Isaacs is shown allowing them to leave, and then saying that “Project Alice” is activated. A close-up of Alice’s eye shows a flashing Umbrella logo, revealing she is under their control. The scene then pulls away from the car she is in and into orbit, where an Umbrella satellite is seen.While Resident Evil 2 is light on plot, it is heavy on kills, explosions and various other forms of mayhem. I definitely felt I got my money’s worth. There are really only two differences between this movie and the original “Resident Evil”. One, this movie introduces a new monster, the Nemesis. It’s a big monster with bad teeth wearing an overcoat and wielding a rocket launcher. The other difference is that they added another hot woman to the zombie killing mix. Alice needed some babe backup. Overall, I was pleased with this one. It’s worth a look.

 

REVIEW: WATCHMEN: TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER / UNDER THE HOOD

 

 

 

TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER

CAST (VOICES)

Gerard Butler (300)
Cam Clarke (He-Man 2003)
Jared Harris (Lincoln)

Rider-Time-Ryuki-Another-RyukiWatchmen was a great movie, and a great comic-book adaptation . It’s true that the metafictitious Tales Of The Black Freighter comic story was a marvellous little additional plot device which nicely mirrored The Watchmen’s main story and was allegorical of many of the main characters’ – specifically Ozymandias’ – bloody paths to becoming what they most hated, all paved with good intentions. It fitted nicely within the pages of the comic books and all was well-and-good. Tales Of The black Freighter was never likely to make it into the movie-proper though and – as much as those purist geeks may disagree – it is far from an essential part of the story, however much I may personally have liked to see it on celluloid. I was delighted, therefore, when I heard that, so dedicated were Zack Snyder and Co. to providing the closest possible rendering to the source text/art, that they would be releasing a near-coinciding straight-to-DVD animation of Black Freighter.MV5BODc2MmM2N2EtZGY1Yi00ZjdiLWI1MmMtODU5MTU2MTc2MTVjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,748_AL_Tales Of The Black Freighter is, like Watchmen, a painstakingly accurate re-telling of the meta-comic on which it is based, but I’m sure that this time the complaint will be that, when no longer juxtaposed in context to the principal narrative, the once well-timed symbolism somewhat loses it’s impact. They may well be right, of course, and maybe releasing this separately sold DVD – which also includes a well-conceived 1985 period-themed Under The Hood author’s spotlight feature – could be construed as a little cynical when the Black Freighter itself is a mere 20 minutes long, but then if it weren’t made available until bundled with the Watchmen’s DVD release then it couldn’t be viewed as a companion piece until long after the film had left the cinemas.MV5BYTNjM2I0YzMtMjU1NS00MjM4LTlmZjEtNzQzOGJlZTlhNDUwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_As an addendum to The Watchmen movie, Tales Of The Black Freighter entirely succeeds.

CAST

Ted Friend (Elf)
Stephen McHattie (300)
William S. Taylor (Scary Movie 3)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Texas Killing Fields)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Frank Cassini (Timecop)

UNDER THE HOOD

 

DC put together this short documentary as a companion piece extra to the “source” of the film, which itself is a take-off on the in-between chapters of the Watchmen book. Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl in Watchmen, writes an autobiography chronicling the history of the costumed heroes that are a big deal in the 40s, then becoming less of a “fad” in the 1950s and then being outlawed, all with the prose of who was originally a NYC police officer. It’s a series of interviews done in faux 1970 style TV (even includes a few “vintage” commercials, one of the three actually quite funny), with an interviewer who gets the actors playing the characters to improvise (or maybe it’s all written, I can see that very well being the case as well) on the subjects posed and raised. It’s fun to watch and a little clever. It’s a nice companion to the film.

REVIEW: CARNIVAL ROW – SEASON 1

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)

Starring

Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad)
David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas)
Tamzin Merchant (The Tudors)
Andrew Gower (Outlander)
Karla Crome (Misfits)
Jared Harris (Lincoln)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Arty Froushan (Knightfall)
Caroline Ford (Nekrotonic)

Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Alce Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Ariyon Bakare (Life)
Maeve Dermody (Ripper Street)
Jamie Harris (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Anna Rust (The Brothers Grimm)
Leanne Best (Cold Feet)
Simon McBurney (The Conjuring 2)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Tracey Wilkinson (Outlander)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Waj Ali (Red 2)
Scott Reid (Still Game)
Mark Lewis Jones (Troy)
Chloe Pirrie (War & Peace)

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)Carnival Row is based on a feature film script by Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim), written when he was still in film school in North Carolina 17 years ago. He was working in the school library and found himself reading about everything from Celtic mythology to Jack the Ripper. All that fodder fed into a ten-page script for a short film about a constable in neo-Victorian London visiting a faerie brothel where a murder has taken place. His professor suggested the subject was better suited to a full feature, and Beacham worked on it in his spare time. An alumnus of his school forwarded the finished script to a few people in Hollywood, and it started winning fans. In fact, the script made the very first Hollywood Black List in 2005, an annual list of the “most liked” screenplays not yet produced.Orlando Bloom in Carnival Row (2019)It still took another 14 years to make it into production, and Beacham was convinced his dream project would never amount to anything. “I loved it very intensely,” he said. “Imagine feeling like you’re never going to do anything better than this, and it’s never going to be a thing.” The success of Pacific Rim in 2013 certainly helped bring the project to fruition; the same production company, Legendary Entertainment, ultimately bought the script in 2015 and reimagined it as a series for Amazon Prime. That turned out to be the perfect format in this golden age of big-budget prestige drama, which is far more friendly to this kind of extravagant, cinematic world-building.Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)Rycroft “Philo” Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) is an orphan of the Burgue, a human city co-existing in a world with other exotic lands that are home to various mystical creatures: faeries (“Pix”), fauns (“Pucks”), trolls (“Trows”), centaurs, werewolves (“Morroks”), and so forth. The races used to live peacefully in their respective regions, until war broke out with a mysterious group called The Pact. The humans of the Burgue sided with the fae to protect their homeland from the invaders. We learn in a standalone flashback episode that Philo met and fell in love with the faerie Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne) during his military service in her homeland of Tirnanoc. The lovers were torn apart when the Burgue forces retreated. Knowing Vignette would never leave him willingly, Philo faked his own death so she would evacuate with her fellow fae. Many of them ended up in the Burgue as refugees to escape being murdered by The Pact’s occupying forces.Orlando Bloom in Carnival Row (2019)Philo is now a police inspector working to solve a string of heinous murders, and anti-immigrant sentiment among humans in the Burgue is on the rise. “Our streets are safe no more!” one pompous politician declares, and there appears to be little Absalom Breakspear (Jared Harris), current head of the Burgue’s Parliament-style government, can do to appease the opposition. Creatures are treated as subhuman, but Philo defends and protects the “critch” (a derogatory term) as best he can. When Vignette finally seeks refuge in the Burgue, after years helping smuggle others to safety, she is understandably peeved to find him alive and well. She becomes an indentured ladies’ maid to spoiled heiress Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant), whose brother Ezra (Andrew Gower) has lost much of the family fortune with his bad investments. She spies an opportunity to reverse their fortunes when wealthy puck Agreus Astrayon (David Gyasi) moves in across the street, and (reluctantly) befriends him, in defiance of all social norms.David Gyasi and Tamzin Merchant in Carnival Row (2019)There’s a polish to the finished eight-episode season that assures you the show knows exactly where it’s headed as the story unfolds, despite how complicated it is. In addition to the compelling central mystery of the murders, there are subplots involving political rivalries, religious and racial tension—particularly from those humans who worship The Martyr, a vaguely Christ-like figure, only hanged instead of crucified—romantic entanglements, a criminal underground, and dozens of smaller narrative flourishes that serve to further build out this fictional world. It is to Beacham’s and Amiel’s credit that the viewing experience is richly immersive rather than hopelessly confusing, and all those threads neatly converge in the finale. That polish extends to the expert pacing: the series takes its time to build toward the Big Reveal, but it is never overly plodding or ponderous.

 

REVIEW: THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES

CAST

Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd)
Robert Sheehan (Season of The Witch)
Jemima West (United Passions)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Aidan Turner (The Hobbit)

New York City teenager Clary Fray begins seeing a strange symbol, worrying her mother Jocelyn Fray and her mother’s friend Luke Garroway. Later, at a nightclub with her friend, Simon Lewis, Clary is the only person who sees Jace Wayland killing a man, who he claims is a demon. Meanwhile, Jocelyn is abducted by two men, Emil Pangborn and Samuel Blackwell, but she is able to call Clary and warn her about someone named Valentine. Jocelyn drinks a potion putting her in a comatose state. Returning home, Clary finds her mother missing and is then attacked by a demon. Clary kills it, and then Jace appears. Jace explains that he and her mother Jocelyn are both Shadowhunters (also called Nephilim), half human half angel warriors that slay demons and rule over the downworlders. Clary has inherited her powers, including the ability to use runes.Madame Dorothea, the Fray’s neighbor and a witch, deduces that Pangborn and Blackwell seek the Mortal Cup, one of the three Mortal Instruments given to the first Shadowhunter by the Angel Raziel. It allows normal humans to become half-Angel Shadowhunters. Simon, now able to see Jace, arrives and they go to Luke’s bookstore. Pangborn and Blackhell are interrogating Luke there, who claims he cares nothing for Jocelyn and only wants the Mortal Cup. The trio escapes to the Shadowhunters’ hideout, the Institute, where Clary and Simon meet two other Shadowhunters Alec and Isabelle Lightwood, and their leader, Hodge Starkweather. He reveals that Valentine Morgenstern, an ex-Shadowhunter who betrayed the Nephilim, now seeks the Mortal Cup to control both Shadowhunters and demons.Hodge instructs Jace to take Clary to the City of Bones so the Silent Brothers can probe Clary’s mind for the Mortal Cup’s location. The Brothers uncover a connection to Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Bane says Jocelyn had him block the Shadowhunter world from Clary’s mind. Vampires then kidnap Simon from Magnus’ party for downworlders. Clary, Jace, Alec, and Isabelle trail them to their hideout and rescue him but are outnumbered. Werewolves (that share a truce with the Shadowhunters) intervene and save them. These are led by Luke. At the Institute, Clary shares a romantic evening with Jace, ending in a kiss. When Simon confronts Clary about it, she downplays the incident, angering Jace. Simon confesses to Clary that he is in love with her, leaving her feeling guilty because she does not reciprocate his feelings.Clary realizes the Mortal Cup is hidden inside one of Madame Dorothea’s tarot cards that were painted by her mother. The group goes to Dorothea’s apartment but she has been replaced by a demon sent to steal the Cup. Simon and Jace kill it, but Alec is critically wounded. Clary retrieves the Mortal Cup and they return to the institute. Clary gives the Mortal Cup to Hodge who betrays them by summoning Valentine Morgenstern and giving him the cup. Valentine reveals he is Clary’s father and wants her to join him. She escapes through a portal that transports her to Luke’s bookstore. Luke, revealed to be a werewolf, confirms that Valentine is her father, and says Clary had an older brother named Jonathan who was killed. Luke and his werewolf pack return to the Institute with Clary to fight Valentine, who has summoned an army of demons through a portal he created. Simon and Isabelle close the portal with help from a repentant Hodge, who sacrifices himself. Meanwhile, Magnus Bane arrives and heals Alec.Clary and Jace fight Valentine, who claims both are his children. They refuse to join him and, following a battle, Clary pushes him through the portal after giving him a fake Mortal Cup. The portal is destroyed, and Jocelyn is rescued, but she remains in a coma at the hospital. Clary tells Simon that someday someone will love him. Clary heads back home and uses her new-found powers to repair the apartment. Jace appears on his motorcycle, confessing he needs her and wants her to return to the Institute. Realizing that she belongs in the Shadowhunter world, she goes with him and they ride into the distance.The film has had some very harsh critics and after seeing the movie, I don’t understand it. Luckily I ignored the bad critics and I liked it.

REVIEW: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

CAST

Brad Pitt (World War Z)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange)
Taraji P. Henson (Date Night)
Julia Ormond (Resistance)
Jason Flemyng (Rob Roy)
Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage)
Phyllis Somerville (Little Children)
Jared Harris (Lincoln)
Elias Koteas (Crash)
Tom Everett (Die Hard 2)
Elle Fanning (Maleficent)
Josh Stewart (No Ordinary Family)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Richmond Arquette (Zodiac)
Louis Herthum (Westworld)
Edith Ivey (Robocop 3)

In 2005, elderly Daisy Fuller is on her deathbed in a New Orleans hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches; she asks her daughter, Caroline, to read aloud from the diary of Benjamin Button.

From the reading, it is revealed that on the evening of November 11, 1918, a boy was born with the appearance and physical maladies of an elderly man. The baby’s mother died after giving birth, and the father, Thomas Button, abandons the infant on the porch of a nursing home. Queenie and Mr. “Tizzy” Weathers, workers at the nursing home, find the baby, and Queenie decides to care for him as her own.

Benjamin learns to walk in 1925; he declares it a miracle, after which he uses crutches in place of a wheelchair. On Thanksgiving 1930, Benjamin meets seven-year-old Daisy, whose grandmother lives in the nursing home. He and Daisy become good friends. Later, he accepts work on a tugboat captained by Mike Clark. Benjamin also meets Thomas Button, who does not reveal that he is Benjamin’s father. In Autumn 1936, Benjamin leaves New Orleans for a long-term work engagement with the tugboat crew; Daisy later is accepted into a dance company in New York City under choreographer George Balanchine. In 1941, Benjamin is in Murmansk, where he begins having an affair with Elizabeth Abbott, wife of the British Trade Minister. That December, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, thrusting the United States into World War II. Mike volunteers the boat for the U.S. Navy; the crew is assigned to salvage duties. During a patrol, the tugboat finds a sunken U.S. transport and the bodies of many American troops. A German submarine surfaces; Mike steers the tugboat full speed towards it while a German gunner fires on the tugboat, killing most of the crew, including Mike. The tugboat rams the submarine, causing it to explode, sinking both vessels. Benjamin and another crewman are rescued by U.S. Navy ships the next day.

In May 1945, Benjamin returns to New Orleans and reunites with Queenie. A few weeks later, he reunites with Daisy; they go out for dinner. Upon failing to seduce him afterward, she departs. Benjamin later reunites with Thomas Button, who, terminally ill, reveals he is Benjamin’s father and wills Benjamin his button company and his estate. In 1947, Benjamin visits Daisy in New York unannounced but departs upon seeing that she has fallen in love with someone else. In 1954, Daisy’s dancing career ends when her leg is crushed in an automobile accident in Paris. When Benjamin visits her, Daisy is amazed by his youthful appearance, but, frustrated by her injuries, she tells him to stay out of her life.

In spring 1962, Daisy returns to New Orleans and reunites with Benjamin. Now of comparable physical age, they fall in love and go sailing together. They return to learn that Queenie has died, then move in together. In 1967, Daisy, who has opened a ballet studio, tells Benjamin that she is pregnant; she gives birth to a girl, Caroline, in the spring of 1968. Believing he can not be a proper father to his daughter due to his reverse aging, Benjamin departs after selling his belongings, leaving a bank account book holding the proceeds behind for Daisy and Caroline; he travels alone during the 1970s. Benjamin returns to Daisy in 1980. Now married, Daisy introduces him, as a family friend, to her husband and daughter. Daisy admits that he was right to leave; she could not have coped otherwise. She later visits Benjamin at his hotel, where they again share their passion for each other, then part once more.

In 1990, widowed Daisy is contacted by social workers who have found Benjamin—now physically a pre-teen. When she arrives, they explain that he was living in a condemned building and was taken to the hospital in poor physical condition, and that they found her name in his diary. The bewildered social workers also say he is displaying early signs of dementia. Daisy moves into the nursing home in 1997 and cares for Benjamin for the rest of his life. In the spring of 2003, Benjamin dies in Daisy’s arms, physically an infant but chronologically 84 years of age. Having finally revealed the story of Caroline’s father to her, Daisy dies as Hurricane Katrina approaches.
It is an extremely graceful depiction of life, love, and the things we lose. After so much anticipation I was certainly not disappointed. This movie is probably not for everyone though. It’s not your average drama that spoon feeds it’s audience their emotions. It is something of awe and astonishment, an absolute gem. What makes our lives memorable are the moments we never seem to grasp long enough before letting go. Life in itself is indeed very, very curious and Benjamin Button is no less of a wonder.

REVIEW: IGBY GOES DOWN

CAST

Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Amanda Peet (Identity)
Ryan Phillippe (Crash)
Bill Pullman (Lost Highway)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Rory Culkin (Signs)
Jim Gaffin (That 70s Show)
Cynthia Nixon (Hannibal)
Bill Irwin (Legion)
Celia Weston (Hulk)
Kathleen Gati (Arrow)
Jared Harris (Carnival Row)
Eric Bogosian (Under Siege 2)
Gregory Itzin (Evolution)

Jason “Igby” Slocumb, Jr. (Kieran Culkin) is a misanthropic 17-year-old boy, rebelling against the oppressive world of his strict East Coast “old money” family. His schizophrenic father, Jason (Bill Pullman), has been committed to an institution. Igby fears he will eventually suffer a mental breakdown like his father. His mother, Mimi (Susan Sarandon), is self-absorbed and distant. Igby mockingly describes his ambitious older brother Ollie (Ryan Phillippe) as a fascist or, alternatively, a Young Republican, and that he studies “neo-fascism” (economics) at Columbia University.Igby figures there must be a better life out there, and he sets out to find it, rebelling against his family at every opportunity. After happily flunking out of several prep schools, he ends up in a brutal military academy where he gets beaten by his classmates. After escaping and spending time in a Chicago hotel courtesy of his mother’s credit card, Igby is sent to New York for the summer to his godfather D.H. Banes (Jeff Goldblum).While working construction for D.H., Igby first encounters Rachel (Amanda Peet), his godfather’s heroin-addicted trophy mistress. Rather than return to school, he escapes into the bohemian underworld of Manhattan, hiding out with Rachel and her performance artist friend Russel (Jared Harris). Eventually, he and Rachel have sex. After being suspected and scolded by D.H., he then hooks up with terminally bored, part-time lover, Sookie (Claire Danes), only for her to later leave him for Ollie.Despite seeming cold and distant, Mimi is not unaffected by her rebellious son. She describes Igby’s conception as an act of animosity and it shouldn’t be a surprise that his life follows the same course. His name is explained as a family in-joke. As a child, he would blame his toy bear, Digby, for things he had done, mispronouncing it as “Igby”. In order to get him to take responsibility for his actions, his family would call him Igby whenever he lied. Igby is informed by Russell that his mother Mimi is dying from breast cancer and so he returns to see her. She has arranged to commit suicide with help from Ollie, who feeds her poisoned strawberry yogurt.Before she dies, Mimi makes a final revelation, casually inquiring of Igby, “I take it you know that D.H. is your father?” Igby leaves for Los Angeles in an attempt to finally make a clean break by getting 3,000 miles away from his family.Culkin is especially brilliant , but everyone shines here – Sarandon, Pullman, Danes, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Jeff  Goldblum, and of course Jared Harris, who positively reeks eccentricity without even having to open his mouth. A fine first film from a director/writer who definitely bears watching.