REVIEW: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

CAST

Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)
Isla Fisher (Burke & Hare)
Ellie Bamber (The Falling)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Laura Linney (Mystic river)
Andrea Riseborough (Birdman)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Neil Jackson (Push)
Jena Malone (Saved)

The opening sequence of the film is of several obese women dancing naked in slow motion.The Real World

Angeleno art gallery owner Susan Morrow receives the manuscript for a novel penned by her estranged ex-husband Edward Sheffield along with an invitation for dinner during Edward’s upcoming visit to Los Angeles. Marred by her deteriorating marriage to unfaithful businessman Hutton Morrow, Susan becomes consumed by the novel, which is both dedicated to her and named Nocturnal Animals after Edward’s nickname for her.

The Novel

Tony Hastings is a peaceful man who runs afoul of three local troublemakers – Ray Marcus, Lou, and Turk – during a road trip through West Texas. Forced off the road, Tony is powerless to stop Ray and Turk from kidnapping his wife, Laura, and their daughter, India, and leaving him with Lou, who forces him to drive Ray’s car to the end of a road where he is abandoned. Tony manages to evade Ray and Lou when they return looking for him and makes his way to a nearby farmhouse to call the police.Detective Bobby Andes is assigned to the case and discovers the bodies of Laura and India near an abandoned shack, where they had been raped and murdered. Tony is wracked with guilt. He is contacted by Andes a year later and is asked to identify Lou, who is charged as an accomplice in the murders of Laura and India.Turk has been fatally shot in a botched robbery, leaving Ray as the final culprit to be brought to justice. Andes arrests Ray, but is ultimately forced to release him as they only have circumstantial evidence of his involvement. On the verge of retirement and having been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Andes decides to take matters into his own hands and with Tony’s help abducts Ray and Lou. Andes shoots Lou when he attempts to escape, but Ray succeeds in getting away. Tony tracks Ray down on his own to the shack where Laura and India were killed and the two have a violent confrontation, in which Ray admits to raping and murdering Tony’s wife and daughter, calling him weak. Tony fatally shoots him, but is blinded when Ray hits him on the head with an iron bar. Tony stumbles outside, succumbing to his brain hemorrhage, and dies after falling on his gun, shooting himself in the stomach in the process.

The Real World (cont.)

Shocked by the dark content and raw emotion of the novel, Susan reminisces about meeting Edward in college and their blossoming relationship, which Susan’s domineering mother Anne Sutton objected to, claiming that Edward was not worthy of Susan’s affections and that because of his romantic worldviews, he lacked the drive to actually achieve his goals; Susan ignored her mother’s objections, ultimately marrying Edward.After finding further evidence of Hutton’s extramarital affair, Susan resumes reading the manuscript. Susan begins to recall her troubled marriage to Edward, which was strained by her frustration with his fledgling career and her dismissive attitude towards his literary aspirations, and culminated with Susan cheating on him with Hutton and ultimately divorcing Edward to marry him. Edward attempted to repair their relationship, but ultimately cut ties with Susan upon learning that she was pregnant with his child but secretly had an abortion to ensure the divorce proceeded. Susan realizes that the novel is an allegory for the loss Edward endured during their separation and that he dedicated the novel to her as a form of revenge, having sent the manuscript to prove to her that he was capable of writing a successful novel. Susan reevaluates her current behavior and contacts Edward. She arranges a meeting with him in hopes of mending their relationship, but Edward does not show up.Tom Ford, the celebrated fashion designer who made his film debut with A Single Man, makes a fantastic return with his second film here, both as a director and a writer, adapting Austin Wright’s 1993 novel, Tony and Susan. The script is wonderful, the look of the film is beautifully dark, and it just all feels so purely cinematic. One of the best thrillers in recent years.

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REVIEW: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

CAST
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Henry Carvill (Immortals)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Diane Lane (Hollywoodland)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Jeremy Irons (Lolita)
Holly Hunter (Crash)
Gal Gadot (Fast And Furious 6)
Scoot McNairy (Monsters)
Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine)
Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead)
Michael Shannon (Boardwalk empire)
Michael Cassidy (Smallville)
Ray Fisher (The Astronaut Wives Club)
Ezra Miller (Trainwreck)
Harry Lennix (Dollhouse)
Joe Morton (Speed)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Carla Cugino (Watchmen)
Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy)
Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis)
Jena Malone (Saved)
Eighteen months after the destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis from Man of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure. Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has moved in with Lois Lane. Bruce Wayne, who has operated in Gotham City as the vigilante “Batman” for nearly two decades, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. After learning of Batman’s activities, Superman also views him as a threat, and seeks to stop him via the Daily Planet articles authored by him as Kent.
Wayne learns that Russian weapon-trafficker Anatoli Knyazev has been contacting LexCorp’s mogul Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean following the results of Zod’s terraforming attempt, claiming to use it as a “deterrent” against Kryptonians, but she denies the request. He also makes side dealings with Finch’s subordinate and demands access to Zod’s body and the Kryptonian scout ship.
Wayne attends Luthor’s party at LexCorp, where he meets mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, and retrieves data from the company’s mainframe. The data drive, however, is stolen by Prince, who later returns it to Wayne after she is unable to decrypt the data. While decrypting the drive at the Batcave, Wayne has a dream of a post-apocalyptic world, where he leads a group of rebels against Superman. He is snapped out of the dream by an unidentified time traveler, who warns him of Lane’s crucial role in the distant future, and urges him to find “the others”. Wayne later realizes that Luthor is not only experimenting with Kryptonite, but also investigating metahumans. One of them is Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Wayne admits to Alfred Pennyworth that he plans to steal the Kryptonite to weaponize it, should it become necessary to fight Superman. Batman pursues a convoy carrying the Kryptonite to LexCorp, but Superman interferes and orders him to cease his activities.
Luthor orchestrates a bombing at a congressional hearing where Finch is questioning Superman on the validity of his actions, which have resulted in deaths of civilians. The bomb kills dozens of people, including Finch. Frustrated with failing to save people, Superman goes into self-imposed exile. Batman breaks into LexCorp and steals the Kryptonite, planning to use it to battle Superman by building a powered exoskeleton, and creating a Kryptonite grenade launcher and a Kryptonite-tipped spear. Meanwhile, Luthor enters the Kryptonian ship and learns of its functions, as well as recorded alien worlds.
Luthor kidnaps Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. He reveals that he has manipulated Superman and Batman by fueling their animosity of each other. Luthor forces Superman to fight and kill Batman in exchange for Martha’s life. Superman tries to reason with Batman, but Batman instigates a fight and ultimately gains the upper hand thanks to the kryptonite grenades. Before Batman can kill Superman with the spear, Superman urges Batman to “save Martha”, whose name is also shared with Wayne’s late mother. Lane arrives and explains the situation, convincing Batman that Superman is not a threat. Upon learning of Luthor’s plan, Batman leaves to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts Luthor on the scout ship.
Surprised at his own defeat, Luthor executes his backup plan, unleashing a genetically-engineered monster with DNA from Zod’s body and his own. However, Diana Prince arrives unexpectedly. Revealing her metahuman nature, she joins forces with them to fight the creature. However, they are soon outmatched by its power, as it is can absorb and redirect energy. Realizing that it is vulnerable to Kryptonite, Superman retrieves the Kryptonite spear and attacks the monster. With Batman and Prince’s help distracting it, Superman impales the creature. As it dies, the creature stabs and kills Superman with one of its bone protrusions.
Luthor is arrested, and while speaking to Batman he gloats that Superman’s death has made the world vulnerable to powerful alien threats. A memorial is held for Superman in Metropolis. Clark is also declared dead and Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Prince attend a private funeral for him in Smallville. Martha gives an envelope to Lane which contains an engagement ring from Clark. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Prince that he plans to form a team of metahumans, starting with the ones from Luthor’s files, to help protect the world in Superman’s absence. After they leave, a faint heartbeat echoes from Clark’s coffin and the dirt around it begins to levitate.

Once a movie that i was extremely nervous about stepping into, just happened to turn out to be my favorite superhero movie, and probably will for years to come, very interesting aspect of the movie was using the flaws of the first installment of the comic book universe and building upon those mishaps to create a much better and more compelling story. In this Ultimate Edition, there are both Theatrical Version (151 mins, in both 2D and 3D) and the Ultimate Version (extended Cut, 182 mins, only in 2D). I would strongly recommend the Extended Cut, because the extra information is helpful to tie in different events.

REVIEW: COLD MOUNTAIN

 

CAST

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

Cold Mountain Screen

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

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

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

During the war, Ada and Ruby, and other members of their community, have several tense encounters with men of the Home Guard. This branch of the Home Guard is led by Captain Teague (Ray Winstone), whose grandfather once owned much of Cold Mountain. He and his deputies hunt deserters, partially with the goal of Teague’s seizing their land. Teague also lusts after Ada. Although the purpose of the Home Guard was to protect the South and its citizen population from the North, they have become violent vigilantes who hunt and often kill deserters from the Confederate Army, and terrorize citizens who they believe are housing or helping the deserters. This includes the Swangers’ sons, who, by torturing their mother, they coax out of hiding and kill. Esco Swanger—the family patriarch—is also killed protecting his sons.

Ruby’s estranged father Stobrod, a Confederate deserter and a violin player, arrives, reconciles with her, and convinces her to make a coat for his intellectually challenged banjo player Pangle (Ethan Suplee). Ruby finds herself drawn to mandolin player Georgia (Jack White). While camping, Stobrod, Pangle, and Georgia are cornered by the Home Guardsmen led by Teague. Pangle unintentionally reveals the band as the deserters Teague is seeking. Georgia is hidden a few feet away and witnesses the shooting of Pangle and Stobrod. He escapes to Black Cove Farm and informs Ruby and Ada, who rush to the campsite to find Pangle dead and Stobrod badly injured. Ada helps Ruby remove a bullet from Strobrod’s back, and they decide to take shelter in some cabins in the woods to avoid Teague and his men.

At this point the two story lines come together. Inman, half-dead from starvation, finally reaches Cold Mountain and is almost killed by Ada before she recognizes him. They later consummate their love and spend the night together.  The Home Guardsmen, however, soon find them, having captured and tortured Georgia to learn that the women are harboring deserters. In the ensuing gunfight Inman ambushes and kills Teague and most of his band, but Teague’s violent young lieutenant Bosie (Charlie Hunnam), escapes up the mountain. Cornering him near the top, Inman urges him to surrender peacefully, but Bosie draws, forcing him to fire; both men are mortally wounded. Ada goes after Inman, and finds him just as she saw him in her vision at the well… coming back to her in the snow surrounded by crows. He dies in her arms. The film ends several years later with Ada, Ruby and their families celebrating Easter. Ruby has married Georgia, and the two have a young daughter and an infant child. It is also revealed that Ada’s night with Inman has produced a child, Grace Inman.

 

A very intense and sometimes moving movie experience with a brutal battle sequence, and indeed many further violent incidents both at Cold Mountain itself and indeed on ‘Inman’s’ journey. The film harbours many fine performances from it’s star-studded cast-list. Well worth a re-visit or indeed a first viewing.

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Josh Hutcherson (The Forger)
Liam Hemsworth (Knowing)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Elizabeth Banks (The Lego Movie)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Julianne Moore (Freedomland)
Willow Shields (beyond The Blackboard)
Sam Claflin (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Mahershala Ali (Alphas)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Jeffrey wright (Source Code)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Robert Knepper (Heroes)
April Grace (Lost)

Katniss Everdeen is recovering after being attacked by Peeta Mellark, who has been brainwashed by the Capitol. The rebels attack and disable the Capitol’s weapons arsenal in District 2. Katniss tries to rally the loyalists against the Capitol, but is shot and injured in the confrontation. Despite Katniss’ desire to kill President Snow personally, Alma Coin refuses to allow her into battle. At Finnick and Annie’s wedding, Johanna Mason suggests Katniss sneak aboard a supply ship leaving for the Capitol, where Commander Paylor is planning an invasion. Unable to bring her back, Coin has her assigned to the “Star Squad”, led by Boggs and includes Gale, Finnick, Cressida, Messalla, Castor, Pollux, Jackson, the Leeg twins, Mitchell, and Homes; they will follow in relative safety behind the actual invasion of the Capitol providing video of their incursion for propaganda purposes. Boggs carries a holographic map (the “Holo”) to help them evade known booby trapped “pods” which line the streets of the Capitol. Coin also sends Peeta to join the squad, even though he has not fully recovered from the Capitol’s conditioning.

As they venture deeper into the Capitol, Boggs triggers a pod which sets off a land mine and mortally wounds him, and transfers command of the Holo to Katniss before dying. The squad triggers another pod, which releases a flood of lethal black tar. Peeta momentarily succumbs to his conditioning and attacks Katniss, pushing Mitchell into the tar and killing him. The group takes shelter in an abandoned building, where Jackson, the second-in-command, attempts to commandeer the Holo, until Katniss convinces them she is under secret orders from Coin to kill Snow. Katniss and most of the group escape just before a squad of Peacekeepers arrive and destroy the building, killing the Leeg twins. The Capitol broadcasts a message announcing Katniss’s death, which is interrupted by Coin, who delivers an impassioned eulogy for her, to rally the rebels.

The team descends into the Capitol’s sewers to avoid further pods, but they are attacked by a horde of genetically engineered creatures called “mutts”. Jackson, Castor, and Homes are killed as the squad flees through the sewers. Finnick is overwhelmed as he fights off the swarm to allow the team to escape, forcing Katniss to set the Holo’s self-destruct, killing him and the remaining mutts. The surviving team members reach the surface but are chased by Peacekeepers, and Messalla is killed by a pod that melts and disintegrates him. The team takes refuge in a shop, where Tigris, a former Hunger Games stylist and rebel sympathizer, hides them in her basement.

As rebel forces gain ground, Snow invites fleeing Capitol citizens into his mansion for protection. Katniss and Gale join the crowd, posing as refugees to gain access to Snow. Rebels arrive and attack, killing many in the crossfire. In the chaos, Katniss pushes forward to Snow’s mansion, where Peacekeepers are herding Capitol children toward the closed gates. A hovercraft flies overhead, and drops small parcels by parachute into the pen of children. The parcels explode, killing them. A team of rebel medics attempt to help the injured, among whom is Katniss’s sister Prim. A second wave of bombs detonate, killing Prim and knocking Katniss unconscious. Upon recovering, Katniss learns the Capitol has been conquered, and Snow captured. When Katniss confronts Snow, he claims that Coin orchestrated the bombing outside his mansion to turn his soldiers against him. Katniss realizes that the incident resembles a trap that Gale had developed earlier. When Gale is unable to assure Katniss that the bombs were not of his design, Katniss cuts all ties with him. Coin invites the remaining Hunger Games victors to vote on a proposal to have another Hunger Games using the children of the Capitol, as a symbolic gesture to satisfy the districts. Katniss swings the vote in favor, in exchange for the right to execute Snow personally.

At the execution, Katniss shoots and kills Coin instead of Snow. The rebels take Katniss into custody, while Snow is tortured and killed by the angry mob. Katniss is eventually pardoned for her crime and returns to District 12, where she is joined by Peeta, who has recovered from his conditioning. Commander Paylor is elected the new President of Panem, and Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch bond over their shared trauma. Years later, Katniss and Peeta play with their two children, as Katniss contemplates the nightmares of her past, and somberly reflects that “there are much worse games to play.”

The special effects are amazing, and the film gripped me throughout. There are some chilling and sad moments and with some twists along the way. Music from previous films is used to powerful effect. Jennifer Lawrence puts in an incredible performance as Katniss, and there are other strong performances from the cast. I was sad to see this end series, but feel everyone involved can be incredibly proud of what has been achieved. An outstanding and thought provoking finale.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SAVED!

CAST
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Mandy Moore (License To Wed)
Macaulay Culkin (Party Monsters(
Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (Hostel – Part II)
Eva Amurri Martino (New Girl)
Chad Faust (Heroes)
Elizabeth Thai (Andromeda)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Kett Turton (Wrath of The Titans)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Aaron Douglas (The Mentor)
Teenager Mary Cummings (Jena Malone), who has “been born again her whole life,” is about to enter her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School near Baltimore. She and her two best friends, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) and Veronica (Elizabeth Thai), have formed a girl group called the Christian Jewels. Mary’s “perfect Christian boyfriend” Dean Withers (Chad Faust) tells her, as they’re swimming underwater, that he thinks he’s gay. In her shock, Mary hits her head in the pool and has a vision in which Jesus tells her that she must do everything she can to help Dean. Hoping for a sign, Mary goes to a shooting range with Hilary Faye, who has a “spiritual solution for everything” and tells Mary (not knowing about the situation with Dean) that if all else fails, Jesus could still restore their “spiritual and emotional virginity.” Believing that Jesus will restore her purity, Mary sacrifices her virginity to have sex with Dean in an attempt to restore his heterosexuality.
Despite Mary’s efforts, when she comes by Dean’s house on the morning of the first day of school, Dean’s parents tell her that they found gay pornography under his bed and that they’re sending him to Mercy House, a Christian treatment center. Mary tells her friends, as well as Hilary’s brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who uses a wheelchair, about Dean’s homosexuality, and makes them promise to keep it a secret. When they arrive at school, they see Cassandra Edelstein (Eva Amurri), the school’s only Jewish student and a rebel who despises Hilary. In homeroom, Mary meets new student Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the son of the school’s principal, Pastor Skip Wheeler (Martin Donovan), a skateboarder who has been doing missionary work (through skateboarding) in South America. Mary tries to put up a good front at the assembly, in which Cassandra fakes speaking in tongues in order to get under the skins of the other students.
Mary soon realizes that she is pregnant from her encounter with Dean. When she goes to Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy, she is seen by Roland and Cassandra. Roland reveals that he isn’t really a Christian, unlike his fanatically religious sister. Cassandra reveals she’s only at American Eagle after being thrown out of her old school and decided she could “handle the freaks” at American Eagle over being homeschooled by her parents. Roland and Cassandra bond over their shared skepticism. Mary finds out that she’s not due to give birth until after her high school graduation and decides to hide her condition from her friends and family until then. However, she feels forsaken by Jesus and loses her faith, causing her to be ostracized by Hilary and replaced in the Christian Jewels with a previously unpopular girl, Tia (Heather Matarazzo), who’s been struggling to get into the Christian Jewels for years. Later, after Pastor Skip gets word about Mary, he tells the Jewels to help Mary regain her faith, but they seem to misunderstand him and stop Mary in the street and try to exorcise her of demons instead.
By Christmas, Mary is still hiding her pregnancy. Cassandra mocks her about it when they are alone in the bathroom, but when she realizes Mary’s anguish, Cassandra changes her tone and offers her support. They cut school with Roland, and the three of them become good friends. When they run into Patrick and Hilary at the mall, Cassandra distracts Hilary (pretending she wants to be converted) while Patrick and Mary sneak away and Patrick confesses his feelings for Mary. Pastor Skip warns his son when they’re at home together against dating Mary, even as Pastor Skip (still married to his wife, although they live separate lives) has been secretly dating Mary’s mother, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker).
A few months later, after multiple fights at school between Hilary Faye and Cassandra, Pastor Skip puts Roland, Cassandra and Mary on the school prom committee (chaired by Hilary Faye) to punish them. While working together, Patrick asks Mary to go with him to the prom, which Mary accepts, but as friends. Later that day, Roland and Cassandra get their hands on a picture of a younger, much heavier, and much more awkward Hilary Faye and load it onto the desktop of every computer in the school. The next day, someone vandalizes the school with graffiti. Mary and Cassandra are initially the prime suspects, and to their shock the spray cans are found in their lockers. While searching the lockers with the Jewels looking on, Mary’s homeroom teacher finds a sonogram of Mary’s baby. She tries to hide it, but it drops to the ground in front of Pastor Skip’s feet. Cassandra is expelled from school, while Mary is banned from the prom.
Pastor Skip tells Lillian that he will break off their relationship if she doesn’t send Mary to Mercy House. Lillian decides that she’s going to send Mary away, saying that it’s the best thing for Mary and the baby, but secretly because she doesn’t want Skip to break up with her. Despite being banned, Cassandra and Roland scheme to go to prom and to bring Mary with them, providing her with a dress and inviting Patrick to meet them. Roland also finds that Hilary Faye charged several cans of spray paint to her credit card just hours before the attack—indicating that she was the one who spray-painted the school.
Hilary Faye, Tia and Veronica head to the prom. On their way in, Tia finds a credit-card receipt for the spray paint—signed by Hilary Faye, revealing that Hilary did, in fact, spray-paint the school. When Mary, Patrick, Cassandra and Roland arrive, Hilary attempts to have Mary and Cassandra thrown out, but Pastor Skip decides to let them stay. The four then accuse Hilary Faye of committing the vandalism herself and framing Mary and Cassandra for it as revenge for humiliating her. Hilary Faye attempts to swear before God that she is innocent, but Tia, fed up with Hilary Faye’s lies and hypocrisy, reveals the signed receipt to everyone, exposing Hilary as the true vandal. Veronica turns on Hilary as well, calling her a fake.
As the now-exposed Hilary Faye flees with the others in pursuit, Dean suddenly arrives with other teenagers from Mercy House. Dean is surprised, but not upset, by Mary’s pregnancy; he meets Patrick warmly, and Mary is similarly accepting towards Dean’s roommate/boyfriend Mitch. Pastor Skip tries to send the new arrivals back to Mercy House, but they refuse, and Mary and her friends support them. Suddenly, Hilary crashes her van into the school’s huge effigy of Jesus. Realizing what she has done, she breaks down in tears of regret. Cassandra shows some sympathy towards Hilary, feeling sorry for her. As paramedics arrive to the accident scene, Mary abruptly goes into labor and is taken to the hospital.
In her hospital room, Mary’s and Dean’s friends and family crowd around the baby girl, while Pastor Skip waits outside debating whether to come in. In a voice-over, Mary tells the audience how she has returned to believing in a God who loves and helps the ones that love and help others in need.
It’s a brilliantly funny but also has underlying moral issues about Christianity and acceptance and deals with many different types of problems facing adolescents, from disability to underage pregnancy

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1

CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (Behind Closed Doors)
Josh Hutcherson (Zathrua)
Liam Hemsworth (Triangle)
Elizbath Banks (Zack & Miri)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job 2003)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Willow Shields (Beyond The Blackboard)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Jeffrey Wright (Ali)
Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Mahershala Ali (Predators)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)

After being rescued from the destroyed arena in the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, along with fellow Victors Beetee and Finnick Odair, are taken to District 13, an independent district isolated from the rest of Panem that has been spearheading the rebellion, where she is reunited with her mother and sister Prim. While recuperating, she is introduced to President Alma Coin, the rebel leader, and is told that her actions in the arena sparked riots and strikes against the Capitol. Coin asks her if she will become the “Mockingjay”—the symbol of the rebellion—as part of their “hearts and minds” strategy. Katniss flatly declines, angrily reminding her that they left Peeta Mellark, her portrayed lover and fellow District 12 tribute, behind in the arena. At the suggestion of Plutarch Heavensbee, the former Gamemaker, she is taken to see the ruins of District 12, which was completely leveled by a Capitol bombing campaign (with the exception of the houses in the Victor’s Village). After seeing that Peeta is being used by Capitol state television to quell the rebellion, Katniss reluctantly changes her mind and agrees to become Coin’s Mockingjay, on the condition that Peeta and the other victors will be rescued and pardoned at the earliest opportunity, and that her sister, Prim, will be allowed to keep her cat.
After Haymitch notes that Katniss thrives on spontaneity, she is introduced to her film team (led by Capitol escapee Cressida), is dressed up in a specially-designed outfit, and given Effie Trinket as a stylist and close friend Gale as a bodyguard. They go out to District 8 to visit a hospital, but as the visit concludes, a Capitol bombing squadron arrives and bombs the hospital, killing everyone inside. In her rage, Katniss gives a rousing speech to the camera, which is broadcast when Beetee hijacks the Capitol’s news feed. After it is broadcast, strikers in District 7 kill an entire team of Peacekeepers with hidden land mines.
After seeing a weakened Peeta on a TV propo (propaganda shots) the team then go back to District 12, where Gale tells the story of its destruction, and Katniss is filmed singing “The Hanging Tree”. Soon after, hundreds of protestors in District 5, singing the same anthem, launch a suicidal human wave attack against a hydroelectric dam that is the Capitol’s primary source of electricity. The attack succeeds, forcing the Capitol to revert to backup power generators and weakening their ability to broadcast their propaganda.
That night, Katniss watches Peeta being interviewed by Caesar Flickerman, the Games’ former presenter, when, in an apparent defiance of his captors, Peeta suddenly shouts a warning that the Capitol is about to attack District 13. Coin orders a mass evacuation into the underground shelters. While Prim is nearly locked out when she goes back to get her cat, everyone manages to get inside safely, and the facility survives the attack unharmed. Upon emerging, Katniss discovers that the area is littered with white roses, realizes that President Snow has sent them to taunt her, and presumes that he is about to kill Peeta. As Peeta’s warning gave the District an additional eight minutes evacuation time, Coin dispatches an elite special forces team, which includes Gale, to rescue him, along with Johanna Mason, and Annie Cresta, the remaining Victors, from their prison in the Capitol’s Tribute center. The rescue is successful. However, when Katniss goes to greet Peeta, he unexpectedly attacks and strangles her into unconsciousness, before being knocked unconscious himself by Boggs.
Katniss wakes up in the medical facility, and is informed that Peeta has been “hijacked” — a form of physical/mental torture in which he is brainwashed into wanting to kill Katniss by associating memories of her with the psychological terror created by tracker jacker venom — explaining why the Capitol allowed Gale’s team to escape. Peeta is strapped to a bed and placed in a solitary confinement, while a serum is being developed to undo the effects of the hijacking. Meanwhile, Coin announces the successful rescue of the Victors, and that their next objective is the Capitol’s principal military stronghold in the ravines on District 2.
Excellent performances by actors and a very dramatic, dark mood rather.
An awesome film and a great build-up towards the grandiose finale .

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

 

Untitled
CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (Behind Closed Doors)
Josh Hutcherson (Zathrua)
Liam Hemsworth (Triangle)
Elizbath Banks (Zack & Miri)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job 2003)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Willow Shields (Beyond The Blackboard)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Toby Jones (Your Highness)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Alan Ritchson (Smallville)
Jeffrey Wright (Ali)
Amanda Plummer (Drunks)
Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
 After winning the 74th Hunger Games in the previous novel, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12, the poorest sector in the country of Panem. But on the day that Katniss and Peeta are to start a “Victory Tour” of the country, President Snow visits unexpectedly and tells Katniss that he is angry with her for breaking the rules at the end of the last Hunger Games, which permitted both Peeta and Katniss to win. Snow tells Katniss that when she defied the Capitol, she inspired rebellion in the districts.
The first stop on the Victory Tour is District 11, the home of Katniss’ deceased friend and ally in the Hunger Games, Rue. During the ceremony, Katniss delivers a speech thanking the people of District 11 for their participants in the Games. When she finishes, an old man whistles the tune that Rue used in the arena to tell Katniss that she was safe. The song acts as a signal and everyone salutes Katniss, using the same gesture that she used to say farewell to Rue. To the horror of Katniss, the old man and two others are executed.
Katniss and Peeta travel to the rest of the twelve districts and the Capitol. Hoping to placate the growing rebellion and settle the dispute between Katniss and President Snow, Peeta proposes to Katniss during an interview. Despite this, Katniss learns that their attempt to avert revolt in the districts has failed.
Shortly after returning to District 12, Katniss discovers on the mayor’s television that District 8 has had an uprising, and she fears that what she has done to placate the crowds is not enough as there may be uprisings in other districts as well. She then meets two runaways from District 8, Bonnie and Twill. They explain their theory which contradicts what the other districts have been led to believe: District 13 was not completely wiped out by the Capitol, and that its residents survive in underground shelters.Later, it is announced that, for the 75th Hunger Games, twenty-four victors from previous years will be forced to compete once again. This is the third occurrence of the “Quarter Quell”: an event that occurs every 25th year of the Games and allows the Capitol to introduce a twist. Knowing that she and Peeta will both be competing in the Games a second time, Katniss decides that she will devote herself to ensuring that Peeta becomes the Quarter Quell’s victor and convinces her mentor to help her. Likewise, Peeta is devoted to protecting her, but both Katniss and her mentor are determined that only Peeta returns home safely.
During the Games, set in a jungle with a saltwater lake, Katniss and Peeta join up with two other previous victors: Finnick Odair, a 24-year-old man who survived the Games at the age of 14, and Mags, Finnick’s 80-year-old mentor, both from District 4. The party encounters poisonous fog in which Peeta comes into contact with the gas and cannot walk. Mags sacrifices herself in order to save Peeta and dies in the poisonous fog. After Mags’s death, Katniss, Peeta and Finnick join forces with Johanna Mason, a sarcastic and often cruel victor from District 7, and Beetee and Wiress, an older couple from District 3 who are said to be “exceptionally smart”. Wiress soon proves her genius by revealing to Katniss that the arena is arranged like a clock, with all of the arena’s disasters occurring on a timed chart. After Wiress is killed in a battle with the Careers (tributes from the first three districts who train all their lives for the Games and are usually the winners), Katniss learns of Beetee’s plan to harness lightning in order to electrocute Brutus and Enobaria, the two remaining Careers Tributes from District 2. In the final chapters, Katniss instead directs the lightning at the force field that contains the arena, thereby destroying the arena and resulting in her temporary paralysis. When Katniss wakes up, she is being transported to District 13, joined by Finnick, Beetee, and her mentor, Haymitch Abernathy. She learns that Peeta, Enobaria, and Johanna have been captured by the Capitol, and is informed that there had been a plan among half of the contestants to break out of the arena— Beetee had been attempting to destroy the force field in the same way that she did. The book ends when Katniss’ best friend, Gale, comes to visit her and informs her that, though he got her family out in time, District 12 has been destroyed.
Incredible, memorable film, well worth seeing even if you haven’t the read the books.