REVIEW: THE NOTEBOOK

CAST

Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls)
Gena Rowlands (The Skeleton Key)
James Garner (The Great Escape)
Ed Grady (Lolita)
Kevin Connolly (The Ugly Truth)
Joan Allen (Manhunter)
James Marsden (Superman Returns)

At a modern-day nursing home, an elderly man named Duke (James Garner) begins to read a romantic story from his notebook to a fellow patient (Gena Rowlands). The story he tells begins in the 1940s, in Seabrook Island, South Carolina. Local country boy Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) is smitten with seventeen-year-old heiress Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) after seeing her at a carnival, and they share an idyllic summer love affair. Noah takes Allie to an abandoned house, explaining that he intends to buy it for them. Later that evening, she asks him to make love to her, but they are interrupted by Noah’s friend Fin (Kevin Connolly) with the news that Allie’s parents have the police out looking for her.

When Allie and Noah return to her parents’ mansion, they ban her from seeing Noah. In a heated argument, Allie’s mother calls Noah “trash, trash, trash” and Noah overhears. Upset, he walks out and Allie chases after him. The ensuing argument between the two ends in a break up and the next morning, Allie’s mother, Ann (Joan Allen) announces that the family is returning home to Charleston. Allie attempts to contact Noah, but is unable to find him. She asks Fin to tell Noah that she loves him before driving home. When Noah gets Allie’s message he rushes over to the family’s house only to find it empty.

Noah and Allie have no choice but to move on with their lives. Noah writes to Allie every day for a year, but never receives a response. Heartbroken, Noah enlists with Fin to fight in World War II. Fin is killed in battle. Meanwhile, Allie volunteers in a hospital for wounded soldiers, where she meets an officer named Lon Hammond, Jr. (James Marsden), a young lawyer who is handsome, sophisticated, charming and comes from old Southern money. The two eventually become engaged, to the delight of Allie’s parents, but Allie sees Noah’s face when Lon asks her to marry him. When Noah returns home from the war, he discovers his father has sold their home so that Noah can buy the abandoned house, fulfilling his lifelong dream to buy it for Allie, whom he has neither seen nor heard from for several years. While visiting Charleston, Noah witnesses Allie and Lon kissing at a restaurant; he convinces himself that if he restores the house, Allie will come back to him. Later, Allie is startled to read in the newspaper that Noah has completed the house to the specifications she’d made years prior, and she visits him in Seabrook.

In the present, it is revealed that the elderly woman is Allie, who is suffering from dementia. Duke is her husband, but Allie does not recognize him, nor remember any of the events Duke is reading to her. Back in the forties, Allie returns to Seabrook to find Noah living in the restored house. The two renew their relationship and make love. In the morning, Ann appears on Noah’s doorstep, warning Allie that Lon has followed her to Seabrook. She gives Allie the letters that Noah had written to her, admitting that she had hidden them from Allie. Ann reveals that in her youth she, too, had been in love with a lower class young man and that she still thinks of him. Allie confesses to Lon that she has been spending time with Noah. He is upset but says that he still loves her. Allie tells him she knows she should be with him, but she remains indecisive.

In the present, Allie briefly becomes lucid. She remembers that the story Duke is reading is the story of how they met. Duke tells her how she appeared at Noah’s doorstep with her belongings, having left Lon at the hotel, and Allie suddenly remembers her past. At the onset of her dementia, she wrote their love story in the notebook with instructions for Noah to “read this to me, and I’ll come back to you.” But Allie soon relapses, losing her memories of Noah. She panics, not understanding who he is, and has to be sedated. Duke – who is in fact Noah – is hospitalized with what seems to be a heart attack. When he is released from the hospital, Noah visits Allie and finds her lucid again. Allie asks Noah what will happen to them when she loses her memory completely, and he reassures her that he will never leave her. She asks him if he thinks their love for each other is strong enough to “take them away together”; he replies that he thinks their love can do anything. After each tells the other that they love them, they both go to sleep in Allie’s bed. The next morning a nurse finds that they have died peacefully in bed together.

Both Ryan and Rachel were perfectly matched for this absolutely. Brilliant acting by both characters and wonderful storyline.

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REVIEW: THE BOURNE LEGACY

CAST
Jeremy Renner (The Avengers)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil TV)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Edward Norton (Fight Club)
Donna Murphy (Spider-Man 2)
Michael Chernus (Men In Black 3)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
David Straithairn (Alphas)
Albert Finney (Big Fish)
Joan Allen (The Notebook)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
The CIA lost track of Jason Bourne’s whereabouts in Moscow six weeks ago. Meanwhile, Aaron Cross is a government operative assigned to Operation Outcome, a Department of Defense black operation program using experimental pills known as “chems” to enhance the physical and mental abilities of their users. Aaron is assigned to Alaska for a training exercise, where he must survive weather extremes and traverse rugged terrain in order to arrive at a remote cabin. The cabin is operated by an exiled Outcome operative, Number Three, who informs Aaron that he has broken the mission record by two days.
Reporter Simon Ross of The Guardian, who has been investigating the CIA programs Treadstone and Blackbriar, is assassinated at London Waterloo station. When the illegal adaptation of the programs is exposed by Jason, the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigate CIA Director Ezra Kramer, Deputy Director Pamela Landy, Blackbriar supervisor Noah Vosen and Treadstone medical director Dr. Albert Hirsch.After the mayhem in New York and Jason’s escape, Kramer requests help from Mark Turso, a retired United States Navy admiral, who runs the National Research Assay Group (NRAG). Turso informs Eric Byer, a retired Air Force colonel overseeing NRAG’s research and development of various clandestine enhancement programs used by the CIA and Defense. Byer discovers a potentially scandalous video on the Internet showing Hirsch socializing with Dr. Dan Hillcott, Outcome’s medical director. To prevent the Senate investigation from learning about Outcome, Byer orders everyone associated with the program killed. He sees the sacrifice as acceptable in order to protect NRAG’s next-generation “Beta programs”, including the supersoldier program LARX.Byer deploys a drone to eliminate Outcome agents Number Three and Five (Aaron) in Alaska. Aaron hears the drone’s approach and leaves moments before a missile destroys the cabin with Number Three inside. Aaron removes the Radio-frequency identification implanted in his thigh and force-feeds it to a wolf which is then blown up by a missile, tricking Byer into believing Aaron is dead. Hirsch dies of an apparent heart attack before he can testify before the Senate. Dr. Donald Foite, a researcher at a bio-genetics laboratory, uses a pistol to kill all but one of his top-level colleagues employed by Outcome. When security guards enter his lab, Foite turns his gun on himself, leaving biochemist Dr. Marta Shearing as the sole survivor.[3] Meanwhile, other Outcome agents are eliminated when their handlers give them poisoned chems. When four elite “D-Track” assassins ambush Marta at her country house and attempt to fake her suicide, they are eliminated by Aaron. He saves her life as she is his last link to the chems so that he can retain his enhanced capabilities and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Marta reveals that Cross has been genetically modified by a tailored virus to retain the physical benefits without needing the green chems anymore. He still requires regular doses of blue chems to maintain his intelligence, but he is running out. Aaron confides to her that he is Private First Class Kenneth J. Kitsom (reportedly killed by a roadside bomb in the Iraq War) and that his recruiter added 12 points to his IQ, enabling Aaron to meet the United States Army’s requirements. Without his enhanced intelligence, Aaron believes they stand no chance of survival. Aaron and Marta travel to Manila, where the chems are manufactured, to try to infect him with another virus so he will not need the blue chems.Aaron and Marta bluff their way into the chem factory. Marta injects Aaron with the live virus stems. Byer alerts the factory security, but Aaron and Marta evade capture. Byer orders LARX-03, a chemically-brainwashed supersoldier, to track down and kill them. Aaron recovers from the flu-like symptoms but hallucinates about his Outcome training Police surround their shelter while Marta is buying medicine; she warns Aaron by screaming. Aaron rescues her and steals a motorbike. They are pursued by both the police and LARX-03. After a lengthy chase through the streets and marketplaces of Manila to Marikina, they lose the police, but not the assassin. Both Aaron and LARX-03 are wounded by bullets. LARX-03 is killed when Marta causes his motorcycle to crash into a pillar. Marta persuades a Filipino boatman to help them escape by sea. They sail away, while back in New York, Vosen lies to the Senate that Landy committed treason by trying to sell Treadstone secrets to the press and by assisting Jason, the only reason why Blackbriar existed
This is not meant to be an extension to the Matt Damon franchise and doesn’t try to be. It is very good in it’s own right and has to be viewed as a stand-alone, parallel story that uses references to the on-going Bourne saga to place it in context. Very well paced and filled with detail, it should more than satisfy any follower of the ‘Bourne’ trilogy and makes a worthwhile addition to the series.

REVIEW: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

CAST
Matt Damon (Dogma)
Julia Stiles (Silver Linings Playbook)
David Straithairn (L.A. Confidential)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz)
Edgar Ramirez (Wrath of The Titans)
Albert Finney (Big Fish)
Joan Allen (The Notebook)
Daniel Bruhl (Captain America: Civil War)
Scott Adkins (X-Men Origins)
Franka Potente (Blow)
Following his pursuit by Kirill, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) evades Moscow police. Six weeks later, CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) divulges the audiotaped confession of Ward Abbott, the late former head of Operation Treadstone, to Director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn). Meanwhile, in Turin, journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) of The Guardian meets an informant to learn about Jason and Operation Blackbriar, the program succeeding Treadstone. The CIA tracks Ross as he returns to London, after his mention of “Blackbriar” during a cell-phone call to his editor is detected by the ECHELON system. Jason reappears in Paris to inform Martin Kreutz (Daniel Brühl), the step-brother of his girlfriend Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente) of her assassination in India.
Jason reads Ross’s articles and arranges a meeting with him at London Waterloo station. Jason realizes that the CIA is following Ross and helps him evade capture, but Ross ignores Jason’s instructions, despite warning him and is quickly assassinated by Blackbriar assassin Paz (Edgar Ramirez), on orders of Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Straithairn) right in front of the crowd of citizens. Vosen’s team, reluctantly assisted by Landy, analyzes Ross’s notes and realize Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton), a CIA Station chief involved with Treadstone and Blackbriar, was his source. Jason makes his way to Daniels’s office in Madrid but finds it empty. He incapacitates gunmen sent by Vosen and Landy. Nicolette “Nicky” Parsons (Julia Stiles), a former Treadstone technician who shares a history with Jason, tells him that Daniels has fled to Tangier and aids his escape from an arriving CIA unit.
Nicky learns that Blackbriar “asset” Desh Bouksani (Joey Ansah) has been tasked with killing Daniels. Vosen sees that Nicky accessed information about Daniels and sends Bouksani after Nicky and Jason as well, a decision with which Landy fiercely disagrees. Jason follows Bouksani to Daniels but fails to prevent Daniels’s death by a planted bomb. However, Jason manages to kill Bouksani before he can kill Nicky. After sending Nicky into hiding, Jason examines the contents of Daniels’s briefcase and finds the address of the deep-cover CIA bureau in New York City, where Vosen directs Blackbriar. Jason travels to New York.
Landy receives a phone call from Jason, which is intercepted by Vosen. Landy tells him that his real name is David Webb and mentions “4-15-71”. Bourne tells Landy to “get some rest” because she “look[s] tired”, tipping off his presence in New York. Vosen intercepts a text to Landy from Jason, apparently of a location to meet up and leaves his office with a rendition team to capture him. Instead, Jason enters Vosen’s office and takes classified Blackbriar documents. Realizing that he has been hoodwinked, Vosen sends Paz after Jason, resulting in Paz forcing Jason’s car to crash into a concrete barrier. Jason holds Paz at gunpoint before sparing his life.
Jason arrives at a hospital at 415 East 71st Street, memories of which were triggered by the numbers that Landy had given him earlier. Outside, Jason meets Landy and gives her the Blackbriar files before going inside. Vosen figures out Landy’s code and warns Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney), who ran Treadstone’s behavior modification program, that Jason is coming. He follows Landy inside the building but is too late to stop her from faxing the Blackbriar documents out. Meanwhile, Jason encounters Hirsch on an upper floor and, with Hirsch’s help, remembers that he volunteered for Treadstone. As Jason flees to the roof, he is confronted by Paz, who asks, “Why didn’t you take the shot?” Jason repeats the dying words of The Professor: “Look at us. Look at what they make you give.” Paz lowers his gun, but Vosen appears and shoots at Jason as he collapses into the East River.
Some time later, Nicky watches a news broadcast about the exposure of Operation Blackbriar, the arrests of Hirsch and Vosen, a criminal investigation against Kramer, and the whereabouts of David Webb a.k.a. Jason Bourne. Upon hearing that his body has not been found after a three-day search of the river, Nicky smiles. Jason is shown having survived from his attempted killing and swims away.
Wonderful. It just keeps on getting better., every new Bourne film improves on the last and this is, without a doubt, the best of them.

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE BOURNE SUPREMACY

CAST
Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting)
Franka Potente (Blow)
Karl Urban (Red)
Julia Stiles (A Guy Thing)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Gabriel Mann (Josie and The Pussycats)
Joan Allen (Manhunter)
Marton Csokas (Alice In Wonderland)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible III)
Karel Roden (Hellboy)
Chris Cooper (American Beauty)

Two years after the events of the first film, Jason Bourne and Marie Kreutz are now in Goa, India. Still experiencing flashbacks about his former life as a CIA assassin, he records them in a notebook.
In Berlin, CIA agents subordinate to Deputy Director Pamela Landy are paying US$3 million for the “Neski files”, documents on the theft of $20 million in allocation money seven years prior. Kirill, an agent for Russia’s Federal Security Service, plants Bourne’s fingerprint to frame him, kills the agents, and steals the files and money for delivery to Russian oil oligarch Yuri Gretkov. Kirill travels to Goa to kill Bourne, but Bourne spots him and flees with Marie. As the couple drive away, Kirill attempts to shoot Bourne, but kills Marie by mistake. Their vehicle goes off a bridge and into a river; Kirill assumes that Bourne is dead.
Bourne survives and leaves for Naples, Italy, with money and passports. After finding the fingerprint Kirill planted, Landy learns that it belongs to Bourne and subsequently asks Deputy Director Ward Abbott about Operation Treadstone, the defunct CIA program to which Bourne belonged. Landy tells Abbott that the CIA agent who stole the $20 million was named in the Neski files. Some years previously, Russian politician Vladimir Neski was about to identify the thief when he was supposedly murdered by his wife in a Berlin hotel. Landy believes that Bourne and Treadstone’s late supervisor, Alexander Conklin, were somehow involved. She also believes that Bourne killed her two agents. Both Abbott and Landy go to Berlin to capture Bourne.
In Naples, Bourne allows himself to be identified by security. He subdues his CIA interrogator, copies the SIM card from his cell phone, and learns from a subsequent phone call about Landy and what she thinks Bourne did. Bourne goes to Munich to visit the only other remaining Treadstone operative, Jarda, who informs Bourne that Treadstone was shut down after Conklin’s death. Jarda tries to incapacitate Bourne before an incoming CIA team arrives, but Bourne kills him, blows up his house, and escapes. Bourne follows Landy and Abbott as they meet former Treadstone support technician Nicky Parsons to question her about her past experience with him. Believing that the CIA is hunting him again, Bourne calls Landy from a nearby roof and is told that he is being pursued because he killed two people in Berlin. He demands a meet-up with Nicky and indicates to Landy that he can see her in the office, shocking the entire CIA team.
Bourne kidnaps Nicky at the Alexanderplatz, and learns from her that Abbott was the head of Treadstone, not Conklin. He remembers that he murdered Neski in Berlin, but Nicky knows nothing about it, so he lets her go. Bourne then visits the hotel where the killing took place and remembers more of his mission—he killed Neski on Conklin’s orders, and when Neski’s wife showed up, he shot her to make it look like a murder–suicide. Abbott kills Danny Zorn (Conklin’s assistant) when he suspects a conspiracy against Bourne; he (Bourne) breaks into Abbott’s hotel room and records a conversation between him and Gretkov that incriminates them in the theft of the money. Abbott confesses to ordering the assassination in Goa, Neski’s murder by Bourne, and the murder of the agents by Kirill, for which Bourne was to be framed. When Landy suspects Bourne’s innocence and confronts Abbott, he commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. Bourne sends the tape of the confession to Landy, vindicating himself.
Bourne goes to Moscow to find Irena Neski, the daughter of Vladimir Neski. Kirill, tasked once again by Gretkov with killing Bourne, finds him and shoots him in the shoulder from a distance. Bourne steals a taxi and Kirill chases him. A long high-speed chase also involving many police cars ends after Bourne forces Kirill’s vehicle into a concrete divider. After finding that Kirill is mortally wounded, he lowers his gun and walks away. Bourne locates Irena Neski and confesses to murdering her parents. Gretkov is arrested.
Some time later, in New York City, Landy receives a phone call from Bourne; she expresses her thanks for the tape of Abbott’s confession before telling Bourne that his real name is David Webb and he was born 4/15/71 in Nixa, Missouri. Bourne then says “Get some rest Pam, you look tired”, indicating once again that he can see her, before hanging up and fading into a New York crowd.
This really is an excellent spy thriller, with plenty of high quality car chases and escapes included too. The storyline is believeable within the context of the world of global espionage,, the film moves at a great pace and nicley sets up the third installment, The Bourne Ulitimatum.

 

REVIEW: MANHUNTER

 

CAST

William Petersen (CSI)
Kim Greist (Brazil)
Tom Noonan (Robocop 2)
Dennis Farina (Romeo is Bleeding)
Brian Cox (X-Men 2)
Joan Allen (Pleasantville)
Stephen Lang (Avatar)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted 1 & 2)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)

Thomas Harris’ extremely popular “Hannibal Lector” character has appeared in 80% of the author’s novels and five separate feature-length films. Most would find Lector synonymous with 1991’s landmark The Silence of the Lambs, in which Anthony Hopkins turned the soft-spoken cannibal into a cultural icon. The character’s subsequent film appearances are all more exaggerated than the last, so it makes sense that 1986’s Manhunter shows Hannibal at his most…normal? It also serves as director Michael Mann’s third film, but it flopped at the box office and still stands in the shadow of its more popular young brother. Based on Harris’ second novel Red Dragon (and remade in 2002 by Brett Ratner), Manhunter deserved a bigger audience then and still deserves a bigger one today.

Part thriller, part character study and part horror film, this tale of FBI profile expert Will Graham (William Petersen) often crackles with suspense. Having retired to his peaceful family life due to exhaustion, Graham is approached by his former boss Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) after an unknown killer’s quiet rampage has already left two families dead. Hannibal isn’t the culprit, of course: he’s safely behind bars due to Graham’s tireless efforts with the FBI, but he might be personally linked to the killer at large. Fearing another series of murders may be only weeks away, the intensely dedicated Graham decides to pursue the case, using his behavioral knowledge to carve away at the killer’s unknown location.

As in Silence of the Lambs, the character of Hannibal Lector (here spelled “Lecktor”, and portrayed by Brian Cox) only pops up occasionally to offer twisted guidance, but his presence looms heavily over the entire film. Silence’s menacing Buffalo Bill is one-upped, though, by the more sympathetic, layered and quietly intimidating Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), a lab worker whose dark personal life fuels violent impulses. Working on a lunar cycle, Dollarhyde’s third slaughter grows closer as Graham and Crawford attempt to track him down. Manhunter’s approach to Dollarhyde is extremely effective: the film’s almost half-over before we even catch a glimpse of him, and the slow reveal works wonderfully.Manhunter is arguably the least-known of the “Hannibal Lector” films…and that’s a shame, because it’s easily second best behind Silence of the Lambs. Michael Mann’s solid direction anchors this cat-and-mouse thriller quite well.

REVIEW: PLEASANTVILLE

 

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man)
Reese Witherspoon (This Means War)
William H.Macy (The Cooler)
Jeff Daniels (Allegiant)
Joan Allen (Manhunter)
J.T. Walsh (A Few Good men)
Don Knotts (Three’s Company)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm In The Middle)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Jenny Lewis (Bolt)
Marissa Ribisi (100 Girls)
Justin Nimmo (Power Rangers In Space)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
Paul Walker (The Fast and The Furious)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
Marc Blucas (Buffy)
Danny Strong (3rd Rock From The Sun)

Distinctively here in Pleasantville, there is a journey which starts with materializing a TV-series into life and ends up with materializing the life into this TV-series. The cheerful 1950s’ TV sit-com Pleasantville is revived in the ’90s on cable. A homebody teen, David Wagner, escapes from the daily rush of the real unpleasant world by watching this show. He doesn’t even miss the reruns, memorizes the scripts and speaks them out before the actors in the show say their part. One day after school, he and his sister Jennifer can’t agree on the right TV channel to watch. Then they fight over the remote control and it breaks. The new remote, which will zap them inside Pleasantville, given to them by a strange TV-repairman.

When they entered Pleasantville, they become the part of the show and turn to black-and-white as the TV show displays. David and Jennifer take up residence as the son and the daughter of the sit-com family. Soon, they realize that there the life is always pleasant; the temperature is always lukewarm and the seasons are always spring with no rain no snow no hot no cold weather, books have no words, roads end where they start, nothing burns and matches are useless, married couples sleep in twin beds, sex does not exist, nobody gets sick, nobody gets hurt and nobody ever questions this hassle-free life. David fits right in as he always dreamt to be, while her sister persists on him to try to figure out what should they do to escape from there. Though she changes her mind when he gets a boyfriend from school. Her attempts of putting her lifestyle on effect causes Pleasantville gets colors. Thus wonderful and frightening changes start to take place.

Pleasantville is a truly original film that soars with dynamism and aesthetic. From a social and deeply political perspective; it has deep meaning and relevance in today’s society.

Cast Includes: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, J. T. Walsh, Paul Walker, Marley Shelton, Don Knotts and  Maggie Lawson