REVIEW: SIGNS

 

CAST

Mel Gibson (Mad Max)
Joaquin Pheonix (Quills)
Rory Culkin (Scream 4)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
M. Night Shyamalan (Split)
Patricia Kalember (Limitless)
Merritt Wever (Birdman)

Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), a former priest, lives with his asthmatic son, Morgan (Rory Culkin), his daughter Bo (Abigail Breslin) who leaves glasses of water around the house for various reasons, and his younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), a failed minor league baseball player, on an isolated farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Hess has lost his faith and gave up his priesthood after his wife, Colleen, died in a traffic accident caused by a town local, Ray Reddy (Shyamalan).One morning, Graham discovers a crop circle in his field. While investigating the crop circle with the local law enforcement, Graham learns of animals becoming violent across town. Morgan is forced to kill one of the family dogs when it turns violent against Bo. They hear reports of crop circles appearing around the globe, and there are reports of lights from invisible objects over Mexico. Later, Graham and Merrill find the farm is being watched by a tall dark figure which disappears into the fields when they give chase. The next day, they hear strange noises over a baby monitor, but cannot find their source. Graham approaches the crop circle but on seeing a green leg sticking out of the cornrows, flees back to the house.After opening up to Merrill about the death of his wife, noting that her last words were “tell Merrill to swing away”, Graham goes to visit Ray, the first time since the incident. When Graham is gone, Merrill and the children watch a news report about footage taken of an alien creature in Brazil, showing that the aliens can blend into their surroundings. Merrill joins the children in wearing tin foil hats, believing the aliens can read their minds. At Ray’s, Graham finds Ray is bleeding from an injury but otherwise apologetic for the accident. After Graham accepts his apology, Ray departs for a nearby lake, saying “they” do not like water. Graham finds Ray has trapped one of the aliens in his pantry, and tries to see what the alien looks like using a kitchen knife under the door; the alien grabs at him, and Graham reacts by cutting off its fingers before fleeing. On his return, and hearing news that more lights have been seen in the skies across the globe, the Hess family decides to stay at their house instead of leaving for the lake, barricading the doors and windows.After an emotionally charged dinner, they hear the same noises on the baby monitor before their television signal drops out, and place the final barricades and defenses before they gather together. As the aliens attempt to gain entry into the house, the family discovers they have left the attic door unguarded and quickly retreat to the basement. The aliens assault the basement door and in the subsequent chaos the light goes out as Graham and Merrill prevent their entry. However, Morgan suffers an asthma attack when the aliens attempt to enter by way of an old coal chute. By morning, reports on the radio reveal that the aliens have left Earth as suddenly as they arrived. Graham leaves the basement to locate Morgan’s asthma inhaler, the others following him. But they discover an alien, the one trapped in Ray’s home, is still there, and takes Morgan hostage. Colleen’s last words come back to Graham, and he instructs Merrill to “swing away” with a baseball bat from his minor league days. Merrill attacks the alien but not before it attempts to poison Morgan by spraying him with a toxin from its body. Graham recovers his son when the alien drops him and takes Morgan outside with his medication. Merrill continues to attack the alien, causing it to fall onto the ground, knocking over one of the glasses of water Bo had left and splashing it with water. The water reacts like acid on its skin, making it scream in agony. Merrill strikes the alien against furniture where it is doused with water full on its face, and dies. Outside, Graham administers Morgan’s medicine and waits for his son to wake up, hoping that due to his lungs being closed from his previous asthma attack he was spared. Then, Morgan wakes up and the family rejoices.Some time later, the Hess family has recovered from the incident and they appear to be doing much better than before. In the final scene, Graham is shown returning to his priestly duties, apparently having regained his faith.Just as Unbreakable slowly revealed itself to be Superman re-thought as an intense personal drama, this is The Birds redone as a religious drama of faith lost and perhaps regained. The tone is less certain than the earlier films–some of the laughs seem unintentional and Gibson’s performance isn’t quite on a level with Willis’s commitment–but Shyamalan still directs the suspense and shock dramas better than anyone else.

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REVIEW: 8MM

 

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly)
Peter Stormare (2001 Maniacs)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Myra Carter (The Nanny)
Catherine Keener (Out of Sight)
Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead)
Amy Morton (Up In The Air)
Torsten Voges (Funny People)
Luis Saguar (Flawless)
Chris Bauer (True Blood)

Private investigator Tom Welles is contacted by Daniel Longdale, attorney for wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, whose husband has recently died. While clearing out her late husband’s safe, she and Mr. Longdale find an 8 mm movie which appears to depict a real murder, but Mrs. Christian wants to know for certain. After looking through missing persons files, Welles discovers the girl is Mary Ann Mathews, and visits her mother, Janet Mathews. While searching the house with her permission, he finds Mary Ann’s diary, in which she says she went to Hollywood to become a film star. He asks Mrs. Mathews if she wants to know the truth, even if it is the worst. She says that she wants to know what happened to her daughter.In Hollywood, with the help of an adult video store employee called Max California, Welles delves into the underworld of illegal pornography. Contact with a sleazy talent scout named Eddie Poole leads them to director Dino Velvet, whose violent pornographic films star a masked man known as “Machine.” To gain more evidence, Welles pretends to be a client interested in commissioning a hardcore bondage film to be directed by Velvet and starring Machine. Velvet agrees and arranges a meeting in New York City.At the meeting, attorney Longdale appears and explains that Christian had contracted him to procure a snuff film. Longdale says that he told Velvet that Welles might come looking for them. Realizing that the snuff film was authentic, Welles knows he is at risk. Velvet and Machine produce a bound and beaten California, whom they abducted to force Welles to bring them the only surviving copy of the illegal film. Once he delivers it, they burn it and kill California. As they are about to kill Welles, he tells them that Christian had paid $1,000,000 for the film. Velvet, Poole, and Machine received much less and that Longdale kept the major portion. In an ensuing fight, Velvet and Longdale are both killed; Welles wounds Machine and escapes.1_RP4FlJI3nlAIh3PAPYWZtgHe calls Mrs. Christian to tell her his discoveries and recommends going to the police, to which she agrees. Arriving at her estate, Welles is told that Mrs. Christian committed suicide after hearing the news. She left envelopes for the Mathews family and Welles: it contains the rest of his payment and a note reading, “Try to forget us.” Welles decides to seek justice for the murdered girl by killing the remaining people involved. Tracking down Poole, Welles takes him to the shooting location and tries to kill him. He calls Mrs. Mathews to tell her about her daughter and asks for her permission to punish those responsible. With that, he returns and pistol-whips Poole to death, burning his body and pornography from his car. Welles traces Machine and attacks him at home. Welles unmasks him, revealing a bald, bespectacled man named George. He says, “What did you expect? A monster?” George goes on telling Welles that he has no ulterior motive for his sadistic actions; he does them simply because he enjoys it. They struggle, and Welles kills him.O8wSinxAfter returning to his family, Welles receives a letter from Mrs. Mathews, thanking him and suggesting he and she were the only ones to care about Mary Ann.8mm58mm is in no way for the faint of heart, there are some extremely disturbing images. Nicholas Cage did a great job, but Joaquin really takes the show here. He made his character incredibly believable and almost sympathetic. I would recommend this film for a watch, it’s a great thriller.

REVIEW: TO DIE FOR

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Paddignton)
Matt Dillon (Crash)
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Illeana Douglas (Ghost World)
Dan Hedaya (Commando)
Alison Folland (The Fighter)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
Susan Taylor (Heat)
David Cronenberg (Jason X)
Tamara Gorski (Hercules: TLJ)

To-Die-For-movie-1080p-HD-free-downloadSuzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) dreams of being a world-famous news anchor. To that end, she marries Larry Maretto (Matt Dillon), due to mutual attraction and because she believes his family business will keep her financially comfortable, and she starts attempting to climb the network news ladder, beginning as a meteorologist at a local cable station, WWEN.gx5X7KK3Uw2A81xuYxP4yXKHTkZWhen Larry starts asking her to take time off from her career to start a family, she immediately begins plotting to get rid of him. To this end, she uses the subjects of her TV documentary, a high school project called “Teens Speak Out”, and seduces one of her students, Jimmy Emmett (Joaquin Phoenix), and manipulates him and his friends, delinquent Russell Hines (Casey Affleck) and shy Lydia Mertz (Alison Folland), into killing Larry. With the help of Russell and Lydia, Jimmy ultimately commits the murder.2915D18500000578-3097590-On_the_big_screen_The_case_inspired_the_1995_movie_To_Die_For_In-a-58_1432652312603Though Larry’s death is ruled a burglary-murder, the police begin investigating when they stumble across a “Teens Speak Out” video of Suzanne at Jimmy’s school in which Jimmy discreetly hints at a relationship with Suzanne, provided by her boss, Ed Grant (Wayne Knight). Jimmy, Russell and Lydia are arrested. Lydia makes a deal with the police to converse with Suzanne while wearing a wiretap, and Suzanne unwittingly reveals her hand in the murder. To-Die-For

Despite this undeniable proof of Suzanne’s guilt, however, she is acquitted in court, on the basis that the police had resorted to entrapment, and walks free. Suzanne basks in the media spotlight as she talks to reporters about Larry’s death, and fabricates a story about her husband being a drug addict and being murdered by Jimmy and Russell as his dealers. Jimmy and Russell are sentenced to life in prison, though Russell appeals against his sentence and receives sixteen years instead, while Lydia is released on probation for her cooperation.MSDTODI EC006Larry’s father, Joe (Dan Hedaya), sees Suzanne lying about Larry on television and realizes that Suzanne was behind his son’s murder. He then uses his Mafia connections to have her murdered. The hitman (David Cronenberg) lures Suzanne away from her home by pretending to be interested in broadcasting her life story, kills her, and then buries her under a frozen lake. Lydia gains national attention by telling her side of the story in a television interview, becoming a celebrity. Larry’s sister, Janice (Illeana Douglas), practices her figure skating on the frozen lake where Suzanne’s corpse is hidden.563823627_640To Die For is entertaining from beginning to end, and the ending is especially satisfying. It’s funny in ways that almost make you feel a little guilty for laughing.

 

REVIEW: GLADIATOR

CAST

Russell Crowe (Man of STeel)
Joaquin Phoenix (Quills)
Connie Nielsen (Basic)
Oliver Reed (Tommy)
Richard Harris (Unforgiven)
Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Spencer Treat Clark (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
David Hemmings (Deep Red)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)

In AD 180, Hispano-Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius leads the Roman army to a decisive victory against the Germanic tribes near Vindobona on the northern frontier. Now weary of battle, Maximus only desires to retire to his Spanish farm estate. But Emperor Marcus Aurelius tells him that his own son and heir, Commodus, is unfit to rule and that he will appoint Maximus as regent to help save Rome from corruption. When the Emperor reveals his plan to his son, Commodus murders him in a fit of rage.Commodus announces he is the new Emperor and asks Maximus for his loyalty. When the general refuses, he is arrested by his officers and is sentenced to death at dawn. Maximus kills his captors and rides for his farm. However, he arrives too late, and finds it destroyed and his family murdered, by Commodus’ orders. Maximus buries his wife and son, and then collapses from his wounds and grief. He is found by slavers who take him to Zucchabar, a colonia in the Roman North African province of Mauretania Caesariensis, where he is sold to a lanista (gladiator trainer) named Proximo.Although reluctant at first, Maximus fights in local tournaments and makes friends with two other gladiators: Juba, a Numidian who holds onto Maximus’s figurines of his wife and child, and Hagen, a German. As he wins every match because of his military skills and indifference to death, he gains fame and recognition. But Proximo, who reveals that he himself was once a gladiator who fought well enough to be given his freedom, advises Maximus that being a good killer is not enough; a good gladiator is one who can “win the crowd”. Proximo encourages Maximus to go to Rome and fight in the Colosseum, because Commodus has organized 150 days of games. He could then use the power he commands in the arena as leverage against the Emperor.Maximus’ first gladiatorial combat in the Colosseum is a re-enactment of the Roman victory over Carthage at the Battle of Zama. Although the gladiators (portraying the Carthaginians) are expected to be massacred, Maximus leads them to victory over the legionaries of Scipio Africanus. This prompts a surprised and delighted Commodus to enter the arena to offer his personal congratulations. When the emperor’s young nephew, Lucius, also joins them, Maximus decides not to kill Commodus. Instead he reveals himself and vows to have vengeance. The Praetorian Guard is ordered to attack but this angers the crowd. Under pressure to keep the mob of Rome happy, Commodus angrily relents.Maximus’ next fight is a victory against a large undefeated gladiator. Despite Commodus’s orders to kill the loser, Maximus spares his defeated opponent’s life. This defiance earns him the nickname “Maximus the Merciful” and more cheers of adulation. Angered at this outcome, Commodus enters the arena to taunt Maximus about his family’s death. But the gladiator turns his back and walks away, another defiant act that is making him more popular than the Emperor. Maximus discovers from Cicero, his ex-orderly, that his former legions remain loyal. Lucilla, Commodus’ sister, and Gracchus, from the Senate, meet secretly with Maximus. He obtains their promise to help him escape Rome, rejoin his soldiers, topple Commodus by force, and hand power back to the Roman Senate. However, Commodus learns of the plot from Lucilla by threatening her son Lucius. The Praetorian Guard arrest Gracchus while others are sent to the gladiators’ barracks. Maximus escapes after Proximo and his men (including Hagen) sacrifice themselves. But at the rendezvous point, Maximus is captured and Cicero is killed.To win the crowd back, Commodus challenges Maximus to a duel in the Colosseum. However, he secretly stabs Maximus in the side before the match to gain an advantage. Nevertheless Maximus eventually disarms Commodus during their duel. When his Praetorian Guards refuse to give him another sword, the emperor tricks Maximus into disarming and produces a hidden knife, but Maximus drives the blade back into Commodus’s throat. Maximus, however, succumbs to his wounds shortly thereafter.Maximus’s last words are to ask for political reforms, for his gladiator allies to be freed, and for Senator Gracchus to be reinstated. While the body of Commodus is left unceremoniously on the floor of the arena, Maximus is solemnly carried away by his friends and allies to be given an honorable funeral as a “soldier of Rome”. The crowd stands as a sign of respect as Maximus is carried out. Later, a now-free Juba revisits the Colosseum at night. He buries the figurines of Maximus’ wife and son at the spot where he died. He says he is now going back to his own family and promises to see Maximus again, “but not yet”.It’s true that this movie does pretty much follow the Braveheart formula. However, this movie includes some elements, such as the cinematography and the incredibly graphic battle scenes that are spectacular in itself. Overall, a great movie that I highly recommend.

REVIEW: QUILLS

CAST

Kate Winslet (Divergent)
Geoffrey Rush (The King;s Speach)
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)
Billie Whitelaw (Hot Fuzz)
Stephen Moyer (True Blood)

Quills begins in Paris during the Reign of Terror, with the incarcerated Marquis de Sade penning a story about the libidinous Mademoiselle Renard, a ravishing young aristocrat who meets the preeminent sadist in her executioner.  Several years later, the Marquis is confined to the asylum for the insane at Charenton, overseen by the enlightened Abbé du Coulmier. The Marquis has been publishing his work through laundress Madeleine “Maddy” LeClerc, who smuggles manuscripts through an anonymous horseman to a publisher. The Marquis’ latest work, Justine, is published on the black market to great success. Emperor Napoléon I Bonaparte orders all copies of the book to be torched and the author shot, but his advisor, Delbené, tempers this contentious idea with one of his own: send alienist Dr. Royer-Collard to assess Charenton and silence the Marquis. Meanwhile, the Abbé teaches Madeleine to read and write and resists his growing attraction to her. Madeleine reads the Marquis de Sade’s stories to her fellow workers. Whilst Madeleine is fascinated by the Marquis de Sade she remains reluctant to give into his advances. The Abbé and Marquis converse on the Marquis’ inappropriate advances on young women.

Dr. Royer-Collard arrives, informing the Abbé that the Marquis’ “therapeutic writings” have been distributed for public consumption. He presents the Abbé with the ultimatum of silencing the Marquis or Charenton will be shut down by order of the Emperor. The Abbé rejects Royer-Collard’s offers of several aggressive archaic “treatments” and asks to speak with the Marquis himself, who promptly swears obedience (winking at Madeleine through a peephole). Royer-Collard takes his leave for the time being and travels to the Panthemont Convent in Paris to retrieve his promised bride, the underage orphan Simone. They are given a run-down chateau by the Emperor, with a handsome young architect, Prouix, on hand for its renovation.

The hasty marriage incites much gossip at the asylum, prompting the Marquis to write a farce to be performed at a public exhibition, which Dr Royer-Collard and his young wife attend. The audacious play, a shockingly straightforward parallel of the good doctor’s own misogynist domination of his virginal bride, is titled “The Crimes of Love”. The performance is interrupted when the inmate Bouchon molests Madeleine off-stage, prompting her to hit him in the face with an iron. The Abbé is seen publicly comforting Madeleine. Royer-Collard shuts down the public theater and demands that the Abbé do more to control the Marquis, or he will inform the ministry that the inmates are running the asylum. Infuriated, the Abbé confiscates the Marquis’ quills and ink. The Marquis’s wife visits him and he takes out his frustration at not being able to write on her; she retaliates by asking a surprised Dr Royer-Collard that the Marquis be entombed forever. They discuss that the ill-gotten gains from the Marquis’s books could be used to effect his salvation, in other words, provide forms of restraint. The lack of writing implements results in more subversive behaviour from the Marquis, including a story written in wine on bedsheets and in blood on clothing. This results in further deprivation, eventually leaving the Marquis naked in an empty cell. Charlotte, one of the maids, reveals that Madeleine has been helping the Marquis. Madeleine is whipped on the order of Dr. Royer-Collard until the Abbé stops him by offering himself instead and declaring that she will be sent away. That night she visits his chamber to beg him to reconsider sending her away and confesses her love for him in the process, prompting him to kiss her passionately. They abruptly break away at the realization of what they are doing. Madeleine runs off and Charlotte catches the Abbé calling after her.

Meanwhile, Royer-Collard violently raped Simone on their wedding night, and continues to keep her as a virtual prisoner. She purchases a copy of Justine, seduces Prioux, and the young lovers run off to England together. She leaves behind a letter explaining her actions and her copy of Justine. Upon finding this, Royer-Collard seizes on the Marquis as the source of his troubles and embarks upon a quest for revenge, by having him tortured.

About to be sent away from Charenton for her role in assisting the Marquis, Madeleine begs a last story from him, which is to be relayed to her through the asylum patients. Bouchon, the inmate at the end of the relay, is excited by the story, breaks out of his cell, and attacks Madeleine. Royer-Collard hears Madeleine’s screams but chooses to ignore them and she is killed by Bouchon. The asylum is set afire by the pyromaniac Dauphin and the inmates break out of their cells.

Madeleine’s body is found by her blind mother and the Abbé in the laundry vat. The Abbé is devastated by Madeleine’s death and Bouchon is captured and imprisoned inside an iron dummy. The Abbé blames the Marquis for Madeleine’s death and prods him into a fury. The Marquis claims he had been with Madeleine in every way imaginable, only to be told she had died a virgin. The Abbé has the Marquis’ tongue cut out as punishment for his involvement, but is riddled with remorse and physically punishes himself. The Abbé then has a dream in which Madeleine comes alive and they have sex, but ultimately it ends with him holding her corpse. The Marquis’ health declines severely, but he remains perverse as ever, decorating his dungeon with a story, using faeces as ink. As the Marquis lies dying, the Abbé reads him the last rites and offers him a crucifix to kiss. The Marquis defiantly swallows the crucifix and chokes to death on it.

A year later, the new Abbé arrives at Charenton and is given the grand tour by Royer-Collard. During the tour they meet the maid Charlotte and through the exchange between herself and Royer-Collard it is apparent that there is a connection. The asylum has been converted into a print shop, with the inmates as its staff. The books being printed are the works of the Marquis de Sade. At the end of the tour, the new Abbé meets his predecessor, who resides in the Marquis’ old cell. Yearning to write, he begs paper and a quill from the new Abbé, and tries to strangle Royer-Collard when he ventures to close the peephole. The Abbé is herded off by Royer-Collard before he can hear anymore from his predecessor. However, the peephole opens, and Madeleine’s mother thrusts paper, quill, and ink through. The Abbé begins to scribble furiously, with the Marquis providing the narration.

Even if the the historical facts are a bit off in places. It’s touching, raw and a brutally honest depiction of madness, sexual desire, emotion and what it means it be human (flaws and all). The acting is first rate and kept me hooked throughout. It might not be for everyone but i’d recommend it all the same.

 

REVIEW: WALK THE LINE

 

CAST

Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Reese Witherspoon (Just Like heaven)
Ginnfer Goodwin (Take Me Home Tonight)
Robert Patrick (Termiantor 2)
Larry Bagby (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Lucas Til (X-Men: First Class)

The film opens in 1968, as an audience of inmates at Folsom State Prison cheer for Johnny Cash’s band as he waits backstage near a table saw, reminding him of his early life. In 1944, Johnny, then known as J.R., grows up the son of a sharecropper on a cotton farm in Dyess, Arkansas. He is known for his singing of hymns, while his brother Jack is training himself to become a pastor. While Jack is sawing wood for a neighbor with a table saw, J.R. goes fishing until his brother finishes. But Jack has an accident with the saw and dies of his injuries. Cash’s strained relationship with his father Ray, becomes much more difficult after Jack’s death. In 1950, J.R. enlists in the United States Air Force as Johnny Cash, and is stationed in Germany. He purchases a guitar to play and in 1952, finds solace in writing songs, one of which he develops as “Folsom Prison Blues”. After his discharge, Cash returns to the United States and marries his girlfriend Vivian Liberto. The couple moves to Memphis, Tennessee, where Cash works as a door-to-door salesman to support his growing family. He walks past a recording studio, which inspires him to organize a band to play gospel music. Cash’s band auditions for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. After they play “Folsom Prison Blues”, the band receives a contract, and launch to stardom at the beginning of the rock and roll craze.

The band begins touring as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. On tour he meets the singer June Carter, with whom he falls in love. Cash begins spending more time with June, who divorces her first husband Carl Smith. After his attempt to woo June fails, Cash starts abusing drugs and alcohol. After his behavior reaches a bottom during a performance with June, they separate. Later, over Vivian’s objections, Johnny persuades June to come out of semi-retirement and tour with him. The tour is a success, but backstage, Vivian becomes critical of June’s influence. After one performance in Las Vegas, Cash and June sleep together. The next morning, she notices Cash taking pills and doubts her choices. At that evening’s concert, Cash, upset by Carter’s apparent rejection, behaves erratically and eventually passes out on stage. June disposes of Cash’s drugs and begins to write “Ring of Fire”, describing her feelings for Cash and her pain at watching him descend into addiction.

Returning to California, Cash travels to Mexico to purchase more drugs and is arrested. Cash’s marriage to Vivian crumbles; the pair divorce and Cash moves to Nashville in 1966. Trying to reconcile with June, he buys a large house near a lake in Hendersonville. His parents and the extended Carter family arrive for Thanksgiving, at which time Ray dismisses his son’s achievements and behavior. After the meal, June’s mother encourages her daughter to help Cash. He goes into detox and wakes with June; she says they have been given a second chance. Though not married, the two begin spending most of their time with each other. Cash discovers that most of his fan mail is from prisoners, who are impressed with his outlaw image. He proposes to Columbia Records that he record an album live inside Folsom Prison. Despite Columbia’s doubts, Cash says that he will perform, and his label can use the tapes if they wish. At the Folsom Prison concert, Cash says that he has been sympathetic to prisoners, explaining that his arrest for drug possession helped him to relate to them. With this success, Cash embarks on a tour with June and his band. On the bus, he stops to talk with June and proposes to her, but she turns him down. At the next concert, June says she will only speak with him on stage. Cash later performs “Ring of Fire” on stage. After the song, Cash invites June to a duet and stops in the middle, saying he cannot sing “Jackson” any more unless June agrees to marry him. June accepts and they share a passionate embrace on stage.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon give memorable performances in this story of Johnny Cash and his long-time love, June Carter. Phoenix’s Johnny is a tortured and self-destructive soul, and Witherspoon’s June is spunky and smart. They have great romantic chemistry on-screen and their close-ups are intense! The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, especially Robert Patrick as Johnny’s mean and unrepentant father. “Walk the Line” is an entertaining bio pic with infectious music and two very likeable stars.

 

 

REVIEW: THE VILLAGE

CAST
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Joaquin Phoenix (Quills)
Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Sigourney Weaver (Avatar)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Cherry Jones (Signs)
Celia Weston (Dead Men Walking)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Michael Pitt (The Dreamers)
Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
In the 19th century, residents of the small, isolated Pennsylvania village of Covington live in fear of nameless creatures in the surrounding woods and have constructed a large barrier of oil lanterns and watch towers that are constantly manned to keep watch. After the funeral of a seven-year-old boy, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) asks the village elders for permission to pass through the woods to get medical supplies from neighboring towns; however, his request is denied. Later, his mother Alice (Sigourney Weaver) admonishes him for wanting to visit the neighboring towns, which the villagers describe as wicked. The Elders also appear to have secrets of their own and keep physical mementos hidden in black boxes, the contents of which are reminders of the evil and tragedy they left behind when they left the towns. After Lucius makes a short venture into the woods, the creatures leave warnings in the form of splashes of red paint on all the villagers’ doors.
Meanwhile, Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard)—the blind daughter of the chief Elder, Edward Walker (William Hurt)—informs Lucius that she has strong feelings for him, and he returns her affections. They arrange to be married, but Noah Percy (Adrien Brody), a young man with an apparent developmental and learning disability, stabs Lucius with a knife because he is in love with Ivy himself. Noah is locked in a room until a decision is made about his fate.
Edward goes against the wishes of the other Elders, agreeing to let Ivy pass through the forest and seek medicine for Lucius. Before she leaves, Edward explains that the creatures inhabiting the woods are actually members of their own community wearing costumes and have continued the legend of monsters in an effort to frighten and detract others from attempting to leave Covington. He also explains that the costumes are based upon tales of real creatures who once lived in the woods. Ivy and two young men (unaware of the Elders’ farce) are sent into the forest, but both protectors abandon Ivy almost immediately, believing the creatures will kill them but spare her out of pity. While traveling through the forest, one of the creatures suddenly attacks Ivy. She tricks it into falling into a deep hole to its death. However, the creature is actually Noah wearing one of the costumes found in the room where he had been locked away after stabbing Lucius.
Ivy eventually finds her way to the far edge of the woods, where she encounters a high, ivy-covered wall. After she climbs over the wall, a park ranger named Kevin (Charlie Hofheimer) spots Ivy and is shocked to hear that she has come out of the woods. The woods are actually the Walker Wildlife Preserve, named for Ivy’s family, and it is actually the modern era instead of the 19th century as the villagers believe. Ivy asks for help and gives Kevin a list of medicines that she must acquire, also giving him a golden pocket watch as payment. During this time, it is revealed that the village was actually founded in the late 1970s. Ivy’s father—then a professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania—approached other people he met at a grief counseling clinic following the murder of his father and asked them to join him in creating a place where they would sustain themselves and be protected from any aspect of the outside world. When they agreed, Covington was built in the middle of a wildlife preserve purchased with Edward’s family fortune. The head park ranger, Jay (M. Night Shyamalan), tells Kevin that the Walker estate pays the government to keep the entire wildlife preserve a no-fly zone and also funds the ranger corps, who ensure no outside force disrupts the wildlife preserve.
Kevin secretly retrieves medicine from his ranger station, and Ivy returns to the village with the supplies, unaware of the truth of the situation. During her absence, the Elders secretly open their black boxes, each containing mementos from their lives in the outside world, including items related to their past traumas. The Elders gather around Lucius’ bed when one of the townsfolk informs them that Ivy has returned, and that she killed one of the monsters. Edward points out to Noah’s grieving mother that his death will allow them to continue deceiving the rest of the villagers that there are creatures in the woods, and all the Elders take a vote to continue living in the village.
Although not as good as the Sixth Sense and not as charming as Signs, an average film from M Night Shyamalan is still a more intelligent and entertaining experience than an average film from a lot of other people. This has a top cast, good atmosphere and a sweet romance. There is, of course, a good twist in the tale which raises some interesting issues. Not Shyamalan’s best film but a very enjoyable couple of hours.