REVIEW: THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST

CAST

Riz Ahmed (Rogue One)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Kiefer Sutherland (Pompeii)
Martin Donovan (Legends of Tomorrow)

In 2011, Anse Rainier (Gary Richardson), an American professor at Lahore University, is kidnapped soon after he leaves a cinema. A ransom video is sent to the US embassy, demanding the release of 690 detainees from what is described as a Muslim concentration camp in Kot Lakhpat and €700,000 for the children of Waziristan. Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber), an American journalist and undercover CIA informant in Pakistan, arranges to interview a colleague of Rainer, Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), whom he suspects is involved in the kidnapping.Changez starts off the interview, held in a café, by declaring his admiration for the American equal playing field in economic advancement. He belongs to a class of people who, while genteel and educated, increasingly find themselves left out of economic progress. His father is an elderly poet and man of letters (played by Om Puri), who is respected by all who know him. Nevertheless, money has always been a serious problem in the family and Changez was only able to attend college when he got a scholarship to Princeton University. After graduation, he earned a job position at a top Wall Street valuation firm, Underwood Samson. Meanwhile, he met a young American photographer, Erica (Kate Hudson), and a relationship developed.The World Trade Center attacks take place while Changez is in Manila on business. When he returns to the USA, he is strip-searched at the airport in New York. Later on, he is thoroughly interrogated by federal agents, after being mistakenly arrested in the street as he left the Underwood Samson building. His attitude toward the USA seems to change, as does his relationship with Erica, who has yet to come to terms with the loss of her former boyfriend, feeling responsible for his death. Changez eventually breaks up with her, after she invites him to the opening of her art show: she had used intimate details of their relationship without his knowledge, which he takes as a betrayal.While valuating a publishing house in Istanbul, Changez discovered that the otherwise worthless firm had translated some of his father’s work into Turkish and published them. He realised that the company had preserved culture, something that cannot be measured merely in terms of money. His boss at Underwood Samson, Jim Cross (Kiefer Sutherland), does not see it that way, viewing Changez’s attitude as unprofessional. Feeling an ever-increasing conflict between his desire of success and his sense of loyalty, between the way he saw himself and the way he was now treated, Changez finally resigns from Underwood Samson.During his interview with Lincoln, Changez says that at one point he was approached by a terrorist cell and asked to become a mujahid, and he was tempted to accept, feeling deeply angered and disillusioned by “the arrogance, the blindness, the hypocrisy” of the USA, but he finally refused when he was told about the “fundamental truths” of the Q’uran, echoing a phrase Jim Cross had used during their first encounter, “focusing on the fundamentals”. Elaborating on the similarities, he explains that both groups, Islamic fundamentalists and blind capitalist economy represented by Underwood Samson, share the same reductionist outlook, view people in binary terms, and thus feeling entitled to get rid of those deemed unworthy.157880843_d736f6Being a foreigner without a job, and with his work visa set to expire in two weeks, he returned to Lahore (Pakistan), where he found that foreign professors were leaving the university en masse. He was hired as a lecturer. He voiced dissatisfaction with US intrusions in Pakistan, and this brought him to the attention of the authorities as a suspected Al-Qaida member. They raided his office and family home and threatened his family. Back to present day, while Lincoln and Changez talk in the café, protestors gather outside, and Lincoln gets periodic pressure from his CIA superiors to get information from Changez about the location of the kidnapped Rainier. The protests become increasingly hostile, and Changez says he has heard of a butcher shop. Contact is lost before the information can be phoned to the CIA operatives who are working with Lincoln.image-w448Lincoln becomes suspicious seeing Changez texting, the latter saying he was just communicating with his sister, Bina (Meesha Shafi); suspicions turn to fury after Lincoln receives a picture of Rainer dead, mistakenly linking the two events. Lincoln believes the only way to safety is to use Changez as a shield venturing into the hostile crowded street. Attempts are made to keep the crowd stable but things get worse and Lincoln falls to the ground, his gun goes off and hits Sameer (Imaad Shah), one of Changez’s student interns, who dies from the wound. Another student fires at Lincoln from a balcony, wounding him, after which Lincoln is quickly removed by CIA agents. Lincoln then finds out that Rainer was in fact found dead earlier that day, and that Changez had indeed rejected working with the suspected mastermind behind the kidnapping, Mustafa Fazil. He also told the truth about the text message. Changez delivers a eulogy at Sameer’s funeral, as Lincoln recuperates in a hospital, recalling Changez’s words as he listens to the recording of the interview – “Looks can be deceiving. I am a lover of America… although I was raised to feel very Pakistani.”ChangezOverall, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an engaging watch with a solid story, music, and acting….one of the best films of 2013!

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REVIEW: THE KILLER INSIDE ME

CAST

Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Ned Beatty (Superman)
Tom Bower (Beverly Hills Cop 3)
Elias Koteas (Crash)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Bill Pullman (Spaceballs)
Brent Briscoe (The Grind)
Matthew Maher (Vulgar)
Noah Crawford (My Name Is Earl)

In 1952, Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) is a pillar of the community in his small west Texas town — patient, dependable, and well-liked. However, he is a sociopath with violent sexual tastes. As a teenager, Lou was caught raping a five-year-old girl by his adopted brother Mike, who pleaded guilty to the crime and served prison time to protect Lou. After being released, Mike was hired by the construction firm of Chester Conway (Ned Beatty). Mike died on the job after slipping and falling off a beam. Lou believes that Conway staged the “accident”.At the request of Sheriff Bob Maples (Tom Bower), Lou visits Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), a prostitute who is having an affair with Conway’s son, Elmer (Jay R. Ferguson). When Joyce objects to Lou’s treatment of her, he violently beats and spanks her until her buttocks are bruised. Joyce enjoys pain, and she and Lou begin a passionate love affair. Joyce suggests that Lou would never leave town with her, but they devise a plot to extort $10,000 from the Conways. Sheriff Maples and Chester Conway ask Lou to oversee the pay-off. But Lou has other plans: he brutally beats Joyce to the point he believes her to be dead, and when Elmer arrives, Lou shoots and kills him. He then plants the gun on Joyce, hoping to make the scene look like the two have killed each other, however Joyce survives the ordeal. Then Conway announces his intention to see her executed for killing Elmer.Lou’s reputation begins to falter: his girlfriend and fiancee Amy (Kate Hudson) suspects him of infidelity, and the county district attorney Howard Hendricks (Simon Baker), who has arrived in town to investigate the murders, suspects that Lou could be the killer. Lou accompanies Sheriff Maples and Conway in taking Joyce to the hospital in Fort Worth; Conway wants her alive so he can interrogate her. Lou waits in a hotel room while the surgery takes place. Maples tells him that Joyce died on the operating table. Lou and Maples return to west Texas. Back at his home, Lou discovers explicit photographs of a woman inside a Bible. The woman was Helene, a housekeeper and babysitter from his youth who bears a resemblance to Joyce. Lou recalls that Helene introduced him to sadomasochism, urging him to strike her. Lou burns the photos.imagesHendricks arrests Johnnie Pappas (Liam Aiken), a local youth whom Lou had previously befriended as a suspect in the murders of Elmer and Joyce. He was found with one of the $20 bills that Elmer was supposed to give to Joyce in the pay-off; Conway had the bills marked in order to blackmail Joyce if she didn’t leave town. Because Lou is close to Johnnie, Hendricks asks Lou to persuade him to confess, but it was Lou himself who had given Johnnie the marked $20 bill as a tip. In the prison cell Lou confesses to Johnnie that he was the one responsible. When they are alone in his cell, Lou hangs Johnnie to make it appear as a though he committed suicide out of guiltimagesJohnnie’s death only makes the town more suspicious of Lou. Journalist and union organizer Joe Rothman (Elias Koteas), who had previously suggested that Conway had Lou’s foster brother Mike killed, implies that he knows that Lou killed Elmer and Joyce. Lou coaxes Amy to elope with him as he proposes to her. To sate Lou’s violent predilections, she acquiesces to his desire to spank her. An alcoholic bum (Brent Briscoe), whom Lou had previously burnt with a cigar, has been trailing Lou and knows that he was responsible for the murders of Elmer and Joyce. He demands $5,000 to keep quiet, to which Lou agrees. On the day which Lou and Amy had planned to elope, Lou beats Amy to death, and when the bum sees her body, he runs for help. Lou chases the bum, shouting that he has murdered Amy. Another deputy, Jeff Plummer (Matthew Maher) opens fire on the bum, and shoots him dead.the_killer_inside_me07The next morning Plummer informs Lou of Sheriff Maples suicide, convinced of Lou’s guilt and heartbroken over his crimes. Hendricks and Plummer try to get a confession from Lou, who cockily refuses. They have a letter that Amy intended to give to him before they eloped, in which Amy begs him to come clean. Lou is arrested, and after a week in prison is sent to an insane asylum. While there, he suffers hallucinations of Amy and Helene. After a few weeks, a slick lawyer named Billy Boy Walker (Bill Pullman) has him released and drives him home. Walker has been hired by Joe Rothman to protect the union man. Lou tells Walker his whole story and concludes that he doesn’t want anyone else to die. Lost in his violent fantasies, Lou douses his home in gasoline and alcohol, arms himself with a knife, and sits in his study to await retribution. As police vehicles and armed policemen arrive, Lou sees a car pull up with Hendricks, Conway, Plummer and the still-alive Joyce. As Joyce tells Lou that she refused to cooperate with the authorities, Lou tells her he loves her, then stabs her in the stomach. Plummer opens fire, hitting both Joyce and Lou and igniting the gasoline in the house. Outside, the approaching policemen see the house engulfed in a huge fireball, which it appears Lou has ignited to kill himself.371266752_640The film has an almost art house feel to it and this is reflected in both Affleck’s unsettling performance and the story itself. You are asked to make some of the conclusions yourself and decide who you think is right or wrong. Ford is charismatic enough that you sometimes like him even though he is evil. This is an impressive thing to pull off and Affleck and Winterbottom should be proud. A dark and powerful film that will not appeal to everyone.

REVIEW: THE SKELETON KEY

CAST

Kate Hudson (Almost Famous)
Gena Rowlands (The Notebook)
John Hurt (hellboy)
Peter Sarsgaard (Orphan)
Joy Bryant (Bobby)

Caroline Ellis is a hospice aide who takes the position as caregiver at an isolated plantation house. The lady of the house, Violet Devereaux, looks after her husband Benjamin Devereaux, who has had a stroke. With some prompting from the family’s estate lawyer, Luke Marshall, Caroline accepts the position. Caroline, using a skeleton key that Violet gave her, makes her way to the attic (where Ben had his stroke) and finds a secret room. She discovers dolls, a book of spells, potion jars, and various other magical paraphernalia. Violet reveals to Caroline that the room belonged to two house servants who were employed there 90 years prior. The couple, Mama Cecile and Papa Justify were renowned practitioners of Hoodoo and were lynched for practicing spells with the original owners’ children. Violet also tells Caroline that they do not keep mirrors in the house because they see the reflection of the servants in them.the-skeleton-key-DI-02Caroline then believes that since Ben believes Hoodoo caused his stroke, she can use Hoodoo, or more specifically Ben’s belief in it to reverse the effects. Taking advice from her friend Jill, she goes to a local laundromat, known to have a hidden Hoodoo shop, to acquire a defense for Ben. A practitioner teaches her a ritual with items to use to cleanse Ben’s illness; when Caroline practices the ritual, Ben regains some of his ability to speak, and begs Caroline to get him away from Violet. Caroline tells Luke about her suspicions towards Violet, but he rebuffs her idea. They travel to a gas station that Caroline previously noted was lined with brick dust, which she was told is a defense against Hoodoo. A blind woman tells her of the Conjure of Sacrifice, a spell of immortality, in which the caster sacrifices someone and gains the remaining years of their life. Caroline increasingly believes that Ben is in danger, but Luke belittles her fear.

Caroline uses brick dust to confirm her suspicions of Violet and drugs her to keep her out of the way. She tries to escape with Ben, but they find the gates locked. She flees the house by boat and seeks help from Luke, only to discover he is part of the conspiracy with Violet. Luke knocks her out and takes her back to the house. Caroline escapes and scatters brick dust, trapping Luke but Violet manages to enter. Caroline pushes her down the stairs and breaks her legs. Fleeing to the attic, she sets up what she believes is a protective circle, but is informed by Violet that she has simply trapped herself inside, as Violet had planned. Violet confirms that hoodoo cannot work unless one believes, and that she doubts Caroline’s protestation that she does not believe. Violet then pushes a mirror at Caroline, which reflects one of the children, then Violet, and lastly Mama Cecile. The two fall unconscious and switch bodies as a recording of the Conjure plays.

Upon waking up, “Caroline” gives “Violet” a liquid that causes a pseudo-stroke so that she can not reveal the truth about Mama Cecile and Papa Justify. When Caroline’s friend Jill arrives at the plantation, Luke informs her that Ben and Violet left the house to Caroline, thus allowing Mama Cecile and Papa Justify to continue occupying the house. The film ends with Caroline and Luke looking at each other helplessly, trapped in the dying bodies of Violet and Ben.18429925_jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx

A good story done professionally and good entertainment. Suspenseful more than shocking and gross, and made me think about whether it really could happen.

 

REVIEW: A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN

CAST

Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Gael García Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries)
Kathy Bates (The Boss)
Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher)
Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family)
Rosemarie DeWitt (Las La Land)
Whoopi Goldberg (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Treat Williams (127 Hours)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Jason Davis (The Accountant)

Marley Corbett (Kate Hudson) is a quickwitted, carefree ad executive living in New Orleans, who embraces her easy going attitude, shuns any major responsibilities, and gains support and strength from a close circle of friends. She also enjoys casual dating and refuses to fall in love. One day, after an appointment, she is told by Dr. Julian Goldstein (Gael García Bernal) that she has terminal cancer. He is deeply impressed by the way Marley accepts the news with humour and dignity. While under anesthetic, God (Whoopi Goldberg) appears to Marley in heaven and asks her to make three wishes. She chooses to fly, to win a million dollars (not tax free), and a third that is later revealed.

Marley tells her friends the news, including her parents who separated years earlier and don’t speak now. Her mother (Kathy Bates) is persistent and overbearing, and instantly begins to smother Marley by visiting too often and making her meals to keep her strength up. Marley’s father (Treat Williams) is the opposite; distant and reserved, and doesn’t seem bothered with reconnecting with Marley with the time she has left. While driving through town one morning, Marley and her friend Sarah (Lucy Punch) decide to take part in a radio call game where the 97th caller wins a prize. They get through and Marley is told she’s won flying lessons – her first wish granted. Her other friend Renee (Rosemarie DeWitt) is pregnant with her second child.

As the weeks go by, Marley’s health starts to deteriorate and she visits Julian more and more. One night, they see each other at a band night at their local bar and decide to spend the rest of the night by going on a date. They start to develop feelings for one another. Marley tells her boss about the cancer and he asks her about her life insurance plans, since their company has a policy that anybody who has a life-threatening illness can cash out, gaining a million dollars ($500,000 dollars after tax) instantly – her second wish.

After another date, Marley and Julian sleep together and begin a relationship. However, she soon starts to feel dismayed when she comes to the realisation that they won’t have a future together, and flees quickly one morning before he wakes. That afternoon, they argue in the park and Marley breaks it off. She becomes distant from and jealous of her friends who are all going through positive changes. After visiting heaven in her dreams for a second time, God makes her realise that she needs to cherish what she has while she’s still alive and, for the first time, Marley admits to being in love. Later that day, she visits Julian to rekindle their relationship, apologizes to the friends she has pushed away and even makes peace with her father.

At home over the following weeks, Marley is able to do nothing but lie in bed, and starts focusing on all of the things she is going to miss. She writes cards for special occasions she won’t be around for in the future and writes letters to her loved ones, giving them all to her mother for her to give out at the right times.

One morning, Marley and Sarah sit in the park. Marley confesses to Sarah that she is no longer afraid to die, even though Sarah is terrified at the prospect of having to live without her. Marley drifts off and Sarah is unable to wake her. Knowing it’s almost time, Marley is visited by everyone in the hospital who surround her bed and wait with her until the end. The exception is Renee, who is in labor with her son. Julian makes it in the nick of time to say goodbye and, in that final moment, Marley realizes her third wish was to fall in love. The film ends with Marley’s funeral, a colorful celebration of her life with all of her friends and family.A sad tale but a very moving well made and acted.

REVIEW: BRIDE WARS

CAST

Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Anne Hathaway (Alice Through The Looking GLass)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Bryan Greenburg Prime)
Steve Howey (DOA)
Candice Bergen (The Women)
Kristen Johnson (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Michael Arden (Anger Management)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Hettienne Park (Hannibal)

Emma Allen and Olivia ‘Liv’ Lerner are best friends who have planned every detail of their weddings, since first witnessing a wedding 20 years ago at the Plaza Hotel. They both have made it a priority to be married in the same location in June.
The two get engaged at 26, and are expected to be each other’s maid of honor. They schedule their weddings with New York’s most famous wedding planner, Marion St. Claire, but due to a clerical error they are scheduled to have a wedding on the same day, June 6 (three and a half months later). A week of passive aggressive hostility passes before the two women make it clear that neither will compromise, especially after the headstrong Liv hopes that Emma’s passive nature would end their wait of who will surrender their date. Emma’s fiancé, Fletcher, begins to show signs of being controlling. The two women declare war after a slight misunderstanding that Liv already set her wedding date, outraging Emma who sets her date as well, which Liv becomes aware of at their shared shower party. The two exchange threats and insults in front of their friends who decide not to take sides.
Both women attempt to sabotage each other’s wedding, including Liv changing Emma’s dance instructor, Emma secretly sending Liv candy to make her too fat to fit into her dress, Liv making Emma’s tan turn bright orange, Emma tampering with Liv’s hair dye to turn Liv’s hair a shocking blue-white color, Liv registering Emma on Babies-R-Us as pregnant, and Emma showing up to Liv’s bachelorette party to out-dance her. Emma and Fletcher get into an argument regarding Emma’s maniac behavior of sabotaging Liv’s wedding and their friendship. Emma and Fletcher are shown to undergo strains in their relationship because of Emma’s new found opinionated and confident trait, a depart from her usual people-pleasing characteristics. Liv has learned to be more sensitive and expressive, which gives her a sense of relief to finally have the luxury of being able to let go and be less controlling.
Both brides-to-be are shown to be in the Plaza very shortly before they are due to be wed, separately. Right before Liv leaves to begin her march to the altar, she encounters Emma’s father and receives his blessing; immediately she regrets setting up a wild spring break DVD to play at Emma’s wedding. She sends her assistant Kevin to replace the DVD with the right one, filled with childhood memories. Thinking that the DVD is for a prank, he does not do so. Before the brides enter their respective venues, they share a moment of reconciliation as they both smile at each other.
Emma begins her walk down the aisle but stops when the footage of her spring break is shown. She loses her temper and tackles Liv after sprinting to the other section of the Plaza. The two brides wrestle in their dresses on the floor while the people closest to the brides having decided to let the brides resolve the problem. After tussling, Emma and Liv lie on the ground panting, and then make up. Emma stands up and walks over to Fletcher who is upset at Emma’s behavior. Emma tells him that she is not the same person he fell in love with ten years ago and that she has now changed, as it has been apparent that she learned to be more assertive. With that, the two tearfully call off their wedding. Liv’s wedding resumes with Emma participating and dancing with Nate, Liv’s brother and a well known magazine journalist.
The movie picks up a year later when Liv and Emma meet up for drinks, where it’s revealed that Emma married Nate. Emma and Liv also reveal to each other that they are pregnant and that their due dates are the same, March 3, and both friends get excited.

A fun comedy that passes a Saturday night, worth watching for Anne Hathaway.

REVIEW: NINE

CAST

Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot)
Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises)
Penelope Cruz (Blow)
Judi Dench (Spectre)
Fergie (Poseidon)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Nicole Kidman (The Others)
Sophia Loren (Pret-A-Porter)

Guido Contini is a gifted Italian filmmaker who, at the age of fifty, has developed writer’s block and urges all the women in his life, alive and dead, to help him with it – his mind wanders to his unfinished set, where dozens of dancers and the film’s leading ladies appear – first Claudia Jenssen, his leading lady; then his wife Luisa; his mistress Carla; his costume designer and confidant Lilli; his beloved Mamma; Stephanie, an American fashion journalist from Vogue; and finally Saraghina, a prostitute from his childhood; (“Overture Delle Donne”). It is 1965, and at the famous Cinecittà movie studios, in Rome, ‘everyone has questions for Signor Contini.’
At a press conference at the Hotel Excelsior on the Via Veneto, he’s charming and colourful, avoiding any clear answer on his new movie – his ninth with producer, Dante, – tentatively entitled Italia. Here he meets Stephanie, a Vogue fashion journalist, with whom he begins a flirtation. Escaping the biting probes of the reporters, he creates an elaborate fantasy, which becomes (“Guido’s Song”) where he explains that he wishes he were young and energetic once again, since his talent was better then.

He escapes the press conference, the reporters and his producer and arrives at the Bellavista Spa Hotel. While being examined by the doctor, he receives a call from Carla, his mistress (“A Call from the Vatican”). She describes her desire for him, as he excitedly listens on the other end. She arrives at the spa, expecting to share his suite, but is upset to find that she’s staying in a shabby pensione by the train station. Meanwhile, Guido learns that a Cardinal is also staying at his hotel and tells the cardinal’s assistant to arrange a meeting.

However, Dante soon arrives at the spa and escorts Contini to a banquet hall where the entire production team is assembled to help him prepare for his film. He sees Lilli, his costume designer, and begs for inspiration, while criticizing the costume she’s in the middle of making as not being something an Italian woman would wear. She reminds him of Luisa’s birthday the previous day and disagrees, saying that it reminds her of Folies Bergère, a Parisian music hall that featured showgirls, where she ‘learnt her art’ (“Folies Bergères”).

The Cardinal agrees to meet him and advises him to lead a more moral life and look to his youth for inspiration. Guido’s thoughts lead him to remembering Saraghina, a prostitute whom he and his friends paid to teach them the art of love and sex (“Be Italian”). Young Guido is caught by his school teachers/priests and whipped by his principal. He awakens on top of Carla, in a fit of anxiety and abruptly leaves to meet his production team for dinner. She wants to come, but he vehemently refuses, reminding her that they don’t want to hurt either of their spouses.

At dinner, he’s happily surprised to see Luisa, who has come at Lilli’s request. He embraces her and wishes her a happy birthday, promising that when she returns home, the house will be filled with flowers. She sits, and the young priest from earlier, who recognizes her as one of Guido’s earlier actresses, joins the table. In song, Luisa explains how she’s become a different woman to be Guido’s wife, abandoning her acting career to be at his side (“My Husband Makes Movies”). She then notices Carla entering the restaurant and leaves immediately, saying she feels tired. Guido doesn’t understand why and follows her, asking what’s happened. She ignores him and when he returns to the restaurant and sees Carla, he finally understands. He demands that Carla go back to the pensione, and she leaves, heartbroken.

When Guido goes to the suite to try to smooth things over, Luisa refuses to listen. He goes to the lobby and meets Stephanie, who has tracked him down. Guido and Stephanie continue to flirt, and she describes her love for his movies and how fashionable he makes everything seem (“Cinema Italiano”). She leaves her room key in his pocket. While in her room, watching her undress, he realizes how much he cares for his wife and leaves. He returns to the suite and promises that he’s done with cheating. Luisa embraces him, but he’s called away to help Carla, who’s overdosed on pills. The doctor comments how reckless and immoral Guido is, which Guido doesn’t contest. He stays with Carla until her husband arrives. He returns to the hotel to find that Luisa has left and the crew has returned to Rome to begin filming.

His mother returns to him to advise him to repair his life (“Guarda La Luna”). He calls Luisa from the studio to beg her to come to the screen testing that evening. She hangs up without response. He arrives at the set to film shots of Claudia in her costumes. She does a few takes, but leaves, saying she’ll return when she reads the script. Guido agrees that that’s fair and drives her away. They’re followed by paparazzi, but he manages to lose them. Claudia realizes that there is no script and they take a walk. She asks him what he wants the film to be about and his description closely resembles his own ordeal: a man lost and in love with so many women. When they stop to rest, she tells him that she loves him but he is unable to love her (“Unusual Way”). Claudia tells him he doesn’t see the real her, only the movie star he has created for the masses. She leaves.

He returns to review screen tests of new actresses and keeps looking to the back to see if Luisa has arrived. He’s relieved when she finally does. She watches and is heartbroken to see him say something in a clip to an actress that he’d said to her when they first met. When everyone leaves, she explains to him that he’s reminded her that she’s not special, just another link in the chain and leaves him (“Take It All”). He finally comes to terms with his mental block (“I Can’t Make This Movie”), realizing that he’s lost everything: his wife, his muse, his talent, and has nothing to make the movie. He apologizes to the staff that there was never a movie, just an idea, and has the set destroyed before leaving Rome.

Two years later, Guido is in a café in Anguillara looking at an advertisement for a play starring Luisa. He waits outside the theatre that night, and watches her leave with a man. He walks with Lilli a few days later and tries to find more information about her. Lilli tells him that she’s not going be to be the middle-man for them, implying that Luisa asks for him as well. She asks if he will ever make a movie again. He says that he won’t because he wouldn’t know what to make, except a movie about a man trying to win back his wife. Lilli says that that’s a good start and the costumes won’t be too bad either.

Guido returns to his element, passionate about a story once more. As he speaks with his actors about the scene, his nine-year-old self (Giuseppe Spitaleri) gathers the cast of Guido’s life together. As Guido takes his place in the director’s chair, the cast of Guido’s life assemble on the scaffolding behind him, culminating with the arrival of his mother and nine-year-old Guido running to sit on the older Guido’s lap (“Finale”). Luisa arrives without being seen and watches in that background, happy to see Guido back to his old self. She smiles as he is raised on a crane and calls, “Action!”Unusual story structure, creative direction, cinematography and editing, interesting characters and great performances from a top flight cast produced a compelling, convincing movie.

REVIEW: GOSSIP

CAST
James Marsden (X-Men)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Norman Reedus (Blade II)
Kate Hudson (Almost Famous)
Eric Bogosian (Under Siege 2)
Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Joshua Jackson (Cruel Intentions)
Sharon Lawrence (Atomic Twister)
Marisa Coughlan (Bones)
Noam Jenkins (Earth: Final Conflict)
Kristin Booth (Defendor)
The movie takes place on a college campus in the Northeastern United States. Derrick Webb (James Marsden), Cathy Jones (Lena Headey), and Travis (Norman Reedus) are students as well as roommates. They all take a Communications class with Professor Goodwin (Eric Bogosian), in which the subject of gossip is brought up. For their final project, the three students decide to start a rumor and track and see the results. One night while at a nightclub, they run into Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson) and her boyfriend Beau Edson (Joshua Jackson). It is common knowledge through the campus that Naomi is saving her virginity for marriage. Jones (as Cathy is called throughout the movie) in particular has a problem with Naomi’s wealth and sense of entitlement. Furthermore, Naomi seems to have started a rumor about Jones having sex with Professor Goodwin. While at the party, Derrick meets a girl and brings her upstairs. At this point the girl becomes ill; Derrick then notices Beau and Naomi in the adjacent room kissing. Beau attempts to have sex with Naomi but is rejected. Derrick, Jones, and Travis proceed to begin a rumor that Naomi and Beau had sex. The story begins to vary wildly, first involving a threesome, but soon, due to the nature of gossip, it becomes a story of Beau raping Naomi.
This is a gem in an usually disappointing market. Aimed at the younger generation perhaps, but it isn’t all sex and trash, it quickly becomes very intriguing, as we become part of these teenagers’ world and see the damage their innocent rumour is causing