REVIEW: INSIDE MAN

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Kim Director (Blair Witch 2)
Ken Leung (Lost)

A man named Dalton Russell sits in an unidentified cell and narrates a story of how he has committed the perfect robbery. In New York, masked robbers, dressed as painters and using variants of the name “Steve” as aliases, seize control of a Manhattan bank and take the patrons and employees hostage. They divide the hostages into groups and hold them in different rooms, forcing them to don painters clothes identical to their own. The robbers rotate the hostages among various rooms and occasionally insert themselves covertly into the groups. They also take turns working on an unspecified project involving demolishing the floor in one of the bank’s storage rooms.Police surround the bank and Detectives Keith Frazier and Bill Mitchell take charge of the negotiations. Russell, the leader of the robbers, demands food and the police supply them with pizzas whose boxes include listening devices. The bugs pick up a language which the police identify as Albanian. They discover, however, that the conversations are in fact propaganda recordings of deceased Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha, implying that the robbers anticipated the attempted surveillance.When Arthur Case, chairman of the board of directors and founder of the bank, hears of the robbery taking place, he hires “fixer” Madeleine White to try to protect the contents of his safe deposit box within the bank. White arranges a conversation with Russell, who allows her to enter the bank and inspect the contents of the box, which include documents from Nazi Germany. Russell implies that Case started his bank with money that he received from the Nazis for unspecified services, resulting in the deaths of many Jewish people during World War II. White tells Russell that Case will pay him a substantial sum if he destroys the contents of the box. Frazier demands to inspect the hostages before allowing the robbers to leave and Russell takes him on a tour of the bank. As he is being shown out, Frazier attacks Russell, but is restrained by another of the robbers. Afterwards he explains that he deliberately tried to provoke Russell and judges that the man is not a killer. However, this is disproven when the robbers execute one of the hostages.The execution prompts the ESU team into action. They plan to storm the bank and use rubber bullets to knock out those inside. Frazier discovers that the robbers have planted a listening device on the police; aware of the police plans, the robbers detonate smoke grenades and release the hostages. The police detain and question everyone but are unable to distinguish the identically dressed hostages from the robbers. A search of the bank reveals the robbers’ weapons were plastic replicas. They find props for faking the execution, but no money or valuables appear to have been stolen. With no way to identify the suspects and unsure if a crime has even been committed, Frazier’s superior orders him to drop the case.Frazier, however, searches the bank’s records and finds that safe deposit box #392 has never appeared on any records since the bank’s founding in 1948. He obtains a search warrant to open it. He is then confronted by White, who informs him of Case’s Nazi dealings. She attempts to persuade Frazier to drop his investigation, but he refuses, playing a recording of an incriminating conversation that she had with him. White confronts Case who admits that the box contained diamonds and a ring that he had taken from a Jewish friend whom he had betrayed to the Nazis.  Russell repeats his opening monologue, but with the revelation that he is in fact hiding behind a fake wall the robbers had constructed inside the bank’s supply room. He emerges a week after the robbery with the contents of Case’s safe deposit box, including incriminating documents and several bags of diamonds. On his way out, he bumps into Frazier, who does not recognize him. When Frazier opens the safe deposit box, he finds the ring and a note from Russell. Frazier confronts Case and urges White to contact the Office of War Crimes Issues at the State Department about Case’s war crimes. At home, Frazier finds a loose diamond, slipped into his pocket by Russell.It’s not a flawless film by any means: the last reel doesn’t quite match up to what preceded it, and the script doesn’t really get you near the skin of the characters (even if it does serve up some delicious, not entirely expected moments). Yet as heist movies go, this is one of the better examples of recent times, with plenty of reasons to recommend it.

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REVIEW: SAW

CAST

Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)
Leigh Whannell (Raze)
Danny Glover (Shooter)
Ken Leung (Rush Hour)
Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey)
Michael Emerson (Lost)
Benito Martinez (The Shield)
Shawnee Smith (Anger Management)
Makenzie Vega (Sin City)
Monica Potter (Patch Adams)
Ned Ballamy (Django Unchained)
Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)

Adam, a photographer, awakens in a bathtub in a large dilapidated bathroom, and finds himself chained at the ankle to a pipe. Lawrence Gordon, an oncologist, is similarly shackled across the room, and between them is a corpse holding a revolver and a microcassette recorder. Each man has a tape in his pocket, and Adam is able to retrieve the recorder. Adam’s tape urges him to escape the bathroom, while Lawrence’s tape tells him to kill Adam by six o’clock, or his wife and daughter will be killed and he will be left to die. Adam finds a bag containing two hacksaws inside a toilet tank; they attempt to cut through the chains, but Adam’s saw breaks and he throws it at the mirror in frustration, revealing a hidden camera behind the mirror. Lawrence realizes that the hacksaws are meant for their feet and identifies their captor as the Jigsaw Killer, whom Lawrence knows of because he was a suspect five months before.Flashbacks show that while Lawrence was discussing the terminal brain cancer of a patient, identified as John by an orderly named Zep Hindle, with his medical students, he was approached by Detectives David Tapp and Steven Sing, who found his penlight at the scene of a Jigsaw “game”, of which at least three have been investigated. Lawrence’s alibi clears him, but he reluctantly agrees to view the testimony of the only known survivor, a heroin addict named Amanda Young, who believes Jigsaw has helped her from a “reverse bear trap”.Meanwhile, Alison and Diana Gordon are being held captive in their home by Zep, who is watching Adam and Lawrence through a camera behind a two-way mirror in the bathroom. The house is simultaneously being watched by Tapp, who has since been discharged from the force. Flashbacks show that Tapp became obsessed with the Jigsaw case after hearing Amanda’s testimony, and eventually found Jigsaw’s warehouse using the videotape from her game. He and Sing entered the warehouse, where they apprehended Jigsaw and saved a man from a drill trap, but Jigsaw escaped after non-fatally slashing Tapp’s throat, and Sing was killed by a quadruple shotgun walkway while pursuing him. Convinced that Lawrence is Jigsaw, Tapp began stalking him after his discharge.In the bathroom, Lawrence finds a box containing a lighter, two cigarettes, and a one-way cellphone. He then recalls his abduction: he was trying to use his phone after being trapped in a parking garage, and was suddenly attacked by a pig-masked figure. They try to use a cigarette dipped in the corpse’s blood, which is in fact cyanide, to stage Adam’s death, but the plan fails when Adam is zapped through his ankle chain. Adam then recalls his own abduction: he was in his photo development room when the power went out and, after finding a puppet, was attacked by a similar pig-masked figure. At gunpoint, Alison calls Lawrence and tells him not to trust Adam, who admits that he was being paid to take photos of Lawrence, many of which were in the hacksaw bag. Adam also reveals his knowledge of Lawrence’s affair with one of his medical students; Lawrence had been with her before he was abducted. Lawrence realizes from Adam’s description that Tapp was paying him. Adam finds a photo that he didn’t take, of a man staring out a window of Lawrence’s house, whom Lawrence identifies as Zep. Unfortunately, the clock then strikes six as he realizes this.As Alison, who managed to free herself, calls Lawrence at gunpoint again, she fights Zep for the gun. The struggle gets Tapp’s attention, and he saves Alison and Diana and chases Zep to the sewers, where he is eventually shot in the chest during a struggle. Lawrence, aware only of gunshots and screaming, is zapped as well and loses reach of the phone; in desperation, he saws off his foot and shoots Adam with the corpse’s revolver. Zep enters the bathroom to kill Lawrence, stating that “It’s the rules”, but Adam, who suffered only a flesh wound, overpowers Zep and bludgeons him to death with the toilet cover. As Lawrence crawls out of the room to find help, Adam searches Zep’s body for a key and finds another microcassette recorder, which reveals that Zep was another victim, following the rules of his own game to obtain an antidote for a slow-acting poison in his body.The famous Hello Zepp plays in the background as the truth about Zep is revealed. As the tape ends, the “corpse” rises and is revealed to be Lawrence’s patient, John, the real Jigsaw Killer. He says the key to the chain is in the bathtub, which was drained when Adam awoke. John zaps Adam when he tries to shoot him with Zep’s gun, turns off the lights, yells “game over”, and seals the door, leaving Adam to die in the bathroom.I strongly recommend this film who appreciate good stories, and aren’t easily scared by the garbage you see in theatres. For people who get squeamish, steer clear of this film. It is very nice graphic, and very sadistic at times. A brilliant debut, and a terrifying one.

 

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS

 

CAST
Daisy Ridley (Scrawl)
John Boyega (Attack The Block)
Oscar Isaac (Ex_Machina)
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row)
Adam Driver (Bluebird)
Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings)
Domhnall Gleeson (The Revenant)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)
Simon Pegg (The World’s End)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The originals)
Warwick Davis (The Ewok Adventures)
Mark Stanley (Kajaki)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Billie Lourd (Scream Queens)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Maze Runner)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Ewan McGregor (Mordecai)
Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate the New Republic. The Resistance, backed by the Republic and led by Luke’s twin sister, General Leia Organa, opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.
Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. Stormtroopers commanded by Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe. Poe’s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters the scavenger Rey near a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe using the Force, and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to bring himself to kill for the First Order, frees Poe, and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku, and Finn survives but is unable to determine if Poe did as well. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. Finn, Rey, and BB-8 flee the planet in the Millennium Falcon, which they steal from a junkyard.
The Falcon breaks down and is captured by a larger ship piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, looking to reclaim their former vessel. Two rival gangs, seeking to settle debts with Han, board and attack, but Han and company manage to escape in the Falcon. The gangs inform the First Order of the events. At the First Order’s Starkiller Base – a planet converted into a superweapon that harnesses energy from stars – Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to use the weapon for the first time. Snoke questions Ren’s ability to deal with emotions relating to his father, Han Solo; Ren replies that Han means nothing to him.
The Falcon crew views BB-8’s map and determines it is incomplete. Han explains that Luke attempted to rebuild the Jedi Order but exiled himself when an apprentice turned to the dark side. The crew travels to the planet Takodana and meet with cantina owner Maz Kanata, who offers assistance in getting BB-8 to the Resistance. Rey is drawn to a vault on the lower level and finds the lightsaber that once belonged to Luke and his father Anakin Skywalker. She experiences disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber for safekeeping.
Starkiller Base fires and destroys the Republic capital and fleet. The First Order attacks Takodana in search of BB-8. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn are saved by Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, revealing that he survived the earlier crash. Leia arrives at Takodana with C-3PO and reunites with Han and Chewbacca. Meanwhile, Ren captures Rey and takes her to Starkiller Base, but when he interrogates her about the map, she is able to resist his mind-reading attempts. Discovering she can use the Force, she escapes using a Jedi mind trick on a nearby guard.
At the Resistance base on D’Qar, BB-8 finds R2-D2, who has been inactive since Luke’s disappearance. As Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D’Qar, the Resistance devises a plan to destroy the superweapon by attacking a critical facility. Leia urges Han to return their son alive. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca, and Finn infiltrate the facility and plant explosives. Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side. Ren kills Han, enraging Chewbacca, who fires and wounds Ren. He sets off the explosives, allowing the Resistance to attack and destroy Starkiller Base.
Ren pursues Finn and Rey to the surface. A lightsaber battle between Ren and Finn ensues, leaving Finn badly wounded. Rey takes the lightsaber and uses the Force to defeat Ren, before they are separated by a fissure as the planet begins to disintegrate. Snoke orders Hux to evacuate and bring Ren to him to complete his training. Rey and Chewbacca escape with Finn in the Falcon. On D’Qar, the Resistance celebrates while Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han’s death. R2-D2 awakens and reveals the rest of the map, which Rey follows with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to a distant planet. She finds Luke and presents him with the lightsaber.
Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 1-6

Image result for lost tv logo

MAIN CAST

Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Naveen Andrews (Planet Terror)
Jorge Garcia (Alcatraz)
Emilie de Ravin (Roswell)
Maggie Grace (The Fog)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Malcolm David Kelley (Saving Grace)
Ian Sommerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Terry O’Quinn (Alias)
Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and The Furious)
Cynthia Watros (Finding Carter)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Henry Ian Cusick (24)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)
Kiele Sanchez (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Michael Emerson (Saw)
Rebecca Mader (Iron Man 3)
Ken Leung (X-Men: The Last Stand)
Jeff Fahey (The Lawnmower Man)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Zuleikha Robinson (Homeland)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Fredric Lehne (Zero Dark Thirty)
L. Scott Caldwell (The Net)
Kimberley Joseph (Xena)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Billy Ray Gallion (Castle)
John Terry (Zodiac)
Veronica Hamel (The Last Leprchaun)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Michael Deluise (Wayne’s World)
Kristin Richardson (Rock Star)
William Mapother (Powers)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
Nick Jameson (24)
Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers)
Charles Mesure (V)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kevin Tighe (K-9)
Zack Ward  (Postal)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Anson Mount (CDollhouse)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Katey Sagal (8 Simple Rules)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Brett Cullen (Injustice)
Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Lindsey Ginter (Hercules: TLJ)
Francois Chau (Stargate SG.1)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Blood Diamond)
M.C. Gainey (Django Unchained)
Kim Dickens (Hallow Man)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Evan Handler (Californication)
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick (MMPR: The Movie)
Michael Bowen (KIller x)
April Grace (A.I)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Paula Malcolmson (Caprica)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Sung Hi Lee (Nurse Betty)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Patrick J. Adams (Legends of Tomorrow)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Marsha Thomason (White Collar)
Carrie Preston (True Blood)
Tracy Middendorf(Scream: The Series)
Lance Reddick (Fringe)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Thekla Reuten (Highlander 5)
Anthony Azizi (Eagle Eye)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty)
George Cheung (Dark Angel)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Faran Tahir (Supergirl)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Raymond J. Barry (Cold Case)
Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Eric Lange (Cult)
Alice Evans (The Originals)
Mark Pellegrino (Chuck)
Titus Welliver (Agents of SHIELD)
Brad William Henke (Fury)
Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Heroes)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)

Lost Season 1 succeeds first and foremost in character development. Lost is about relationships and before we can understand the dynamic behind the various relationships that develop over the course of a season, we need to understand what motivates these characters. This shows approach of having an individual episode focus on a single character through flashback, while formulaic, is a brilliant decision.

Episodes like “The Moth” (Charlie), “Confidence Man” (Sawyer) and “Walkabout” give us a wealth of information about the people we are being introduced to. These episodes and others are entertaining, exciting and contain pivotal character moments that are still important to the story even in season four and undoubtedly beyond. As I’ve said, this is the foundation for the whole universe that we are being presented and the team behind Lost nailed it right from the “Pilot”.

With character being such an important focus of the first season, the major story and mysteries surrounding the island are deliberately underdeveloped. After the survivors’ first night and their encounter with the monster we know this island is anything but normal, but we are only given glimpses from that point on. Over the course of the season we discover that there are other people on the island but beyond that we really don’t learn anything. The truth is that if the writers had tried to develop the story at the same pace as the characters it would have all been too much, too soon and the whole world they are trying to build would have come tumbling down like a deck of cards. Saying that the story is underdeveloped may sound like a complaint but I feel that it was the best decision. We are given a thin vertical slice of what is to come in later seasons and that is all we really need.

Of course, there are a plethora of individual character stories that thrive over the course of the season. Jin and Sun’s tumultuous relationship and betrayal, Charlie’s battle with drug addiction, Claire copping with being a parent and the love triangle between Kate, Jack and Sawyer are just a small few of the intriguing storylines that take place. All of these work to strengthen our understanding of the survivors and

Definitely of note is the story of John Locke and his relationship with the island. It’s a fascinating story to watch unfold over the course of the season and Locke’s journey is very different from the rest of the survivors. He starts perceiving the island as a living entity and develops an understanding of it that everyone else fails to understand and they fear him for it. I wouldn’t call him the villain of the show — for the first season I would say “the unknown” is the nemesis — but Locke definitely has his own agenda. Terry O’Quinn does an exceptional job of portraying Locke’s development over the course of the season. He brilliantly presents a troubled and destroyed man who has experienced a profound miracle and is now trying to make sense of what has happened to him.

As long time fans have come to expect, Michael Giacchino’s score adds an extra amount of depth to the season. He stands out as one of the premiere composers on television and Lost would simply not be the same without him. Most of Lost’s twists and turns may not have the same impact the second time around but that doesn’t mean that their importance isn’t appreciated. This show’s opening season set the foundation for things to come over the course of the series.

Attempting to build on the strength of Season One, Lost Season Two introduces several new characters and a new mysterious group to keep viewers enthralled. The introduction of the tail section characters does serve a purpose early in the season as it reinforces the Others as formidable villains. While the survivors on the beach have had it relatively easy, the tailies experience 48 days of hell in which their numbers shrink to a handful. Beyond that, Libby slides into a cute love story with Hurley while Ana Lucia stands around and takes up space until she is shot to death by Michael. Neither contributes a substantial amount to the season or the series besides being canon fodder for Michael.

As for Mr. Eko, he does have a couple of good flashback episodes but it also feels like the writers are never quite sure what to do with him. At some points he’s a passive observer to events unfolding and the later he actively gets involved in the pressing of the button. Those last few episodes in which he finds himself destined to push the button almost seem as if the were a scramble to give the character something substantial to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Eko but I feel as if his character was completely mismanaged from the outside.

Only Bernard, who really doesn’t do much himself, feels like a relevant addition from the tail section as he ties up the loose end regarding Rose’s husband. Their reunion alone makes his introduction worth the effort. The best new addition to the Lost cast is the person we see the least throughout the season – Desmond David Hume. His appearance in the first couple of episodes of the season were used solely to introduce the concept of the button but his flashback and story in the two hour finale presented an intriguing new character. He’s a hopeless romantic on a quest to regain his honor and reunite with his true love. Desmond’s story is leaps and bounds more exciting than the rest of the new cast.

Locke’s journey this season doesn’t really start to get interesting until the introduction of Henry Gale. For the first half of the season we get to see Locke at his most confident. He’s finally opened his hatch and discovered a bevy of new treasures inside to support his claims that the island and his connection to it are part of some much larger destiny. However, Gale’s arrival brings with it seeds of doubt as John’s world begins to fall apart. This culminates in the discovery of the Pearl Station and Locke’s complete loss of faith in the button and the island. It’s a good journey that has a great conclusion in the finale.

I really enjoyed Sawyer’s return to form midway through this season. Sure it didn’t make much sense for Sawyer to turn the entire camp against him in “The Long Con” but it was one of my favorite story lines of the season. His return to a nastier, less fan-friendly Sawyer was short lived however as he fairly quickly crept back into the good graces of the rest of the group.

Michael’s battle to get Walt back from the Others had him depart midway through the season but his return in the final few episodes of the season were thoroughly entertaining. His murder of Ana Lucia and Libby gave way to an interesting game of deception as Michael is forced to convince the survivors that Henry was behind their deaths. His absolutely disgust in himself for taking a life mixed with the continued desperation he has to reunite with his son makes for some of the best character moments of the entire season. Harold Parrineau does a fantastic job of portraying Michael’s spastic range of emotions in those final few episodes.

The real gem of this season and my favorite story arc is the introduction of Michael Emerson as Henry Gale. He spends most of his time confined in the Swan Station but that doesn’t stop him from being a formidable foe for the survivors of Flight 815. With the survivors fractured and keeping secrets from one another, Henry frequently manages to turn one survivor against the other. He’s favorite prey is John Locke who we already know is quite susceptible to snide comments and underhanded suggestions. Henry turns Locke inside out and uses him against Jack causing the group of survivors to lose focus. Its brilliant to watch unfold and Emerson brings a lot of weight to the role.

This season is easily broken down into two separate parts; the first six episodes that aired before an eight week hiatus and then the rest of the season. Even though the first six are considered part of the third season, they feel much more like a prologue. Very little time is spent with the survivors on the beach and the main focus of the story is Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer’s (Josh Holloway) imprisonment by the Others. T

The second half of the season also featured some of the show’s best episodes to date. Including the brilliantly told “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, which is an interesting twist on Lost’s  flashback scenario. Other episodes like “The Man from Tallahassee” and “The Brig” answered long asked questions while “The Man Behind the Curtain” and “One of Us” gave us a much needed back-story on both Ben (Michael Emerson) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell).

Really, the only weak point of the final sixteen-episode run would be “Stranger in a Strange Land”, an episode that primarily focused on the origins and meaning of Jack’s tattoo. We still don’t really understand the significance and we’re not too sure if the writers do either as they never bring up the subject again for the rest of the season. Even “Expos¿”, an episode that featured fan-hated Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro), told an interesting “Twilight Zone” style story and we couldn’t be happier with the conclusion.

If you were to suggest that the theme for season one was man vs. the unknown and that season two’s was man vs. machine  it would be fair to suggest that the theme for season three is man vs. man, as the main crux of the season deals with the survivors of Flight 815 dealing with the Others. There is a constant power struggle between the two groups and the narrative frequently shifts back and forth from the Others camp to the survivor’s beach. Intertwined throughout, are personal struggles for several of the characters in both camps and we realize as the story pushes forward that even though they are enemies, their survival appears to be dependant on each other.

At the core of this struggle is Benjamin Linus, and it would be a sin not to mention Michael Emerson’s fantastic performance as the enigmatic leader of the Others. He never once falters in portraying a creepy and unnerving nemesis for the survivors of Flight 815 and in particular, John Locke. Terry O’Quinn puts in an equally inspired performance and every time these two appeared on screen together, you knew something special was about to happen. Everything culminates in what can be described as one of the best season finales in recent memory. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof deliver a brilliantly told story that is full of emotion, suspense and action.

After a stunning conclusion to the show’s third season, the bar was raised and much was expected of the fourth season of Lost. With the final three seasons reduced to sixteen episodes each and a clear finish line. The creative team could now focus on telling their story without having to worry about how many episodes they had left to work with. Season four is the first to benefit and delivers a faster paced and leaner story that expands the Lost universe in some unexpected ways and delves into the mystery that was introduced at the end of last season.The “flash-forward” at the end of last season introduced an exciting new way in which Lost stories could be told. The use of these flash-forwards continues through the fourth season, revealing that even more Oceanic survivors made it off the island and also introduces an intriguing conspiracy of silence regarding those who weren’t so lucky. This storyline is the backbone of the fourth season as we discovered who was fortunate enough to escape the island and who was left behind. This is arguably the series’ best story arc since the mystery surrounding the hatch and is a well-developed, tightly paced narrative that actually has a satisfying conclusion at the end of the season.

The benefit of a shortened schedule is apparent and this season has far less “filler” than previous outings. Less episodes means that every minute of screen time becomes that much more precious and the outcome is a season that doesn’t have what we’d consider a bad episode in the bunch. Even this season’s Kate-centric episode is decent when compared to previous years’ outings. There are plenty of episodes that you will want to revisit here, including the pivotal “The Constant” that is a game-changer when it comes to the series’ mythology. It also features Henry Ian Cusick’s best performance as Desmond to date and one of the more memorable Michael Giacchino scores. The rest of the season is filled to the brim with moments that will have any Lost fan riveted.


Acting wise, all the great performances that you have come to expect from the series’ regulars are present. Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn continue to put in stellar performances as Ben Linus and John Locke respectively. As has been stated many times throughout the last couple of seasons, these two have some phenomenal chemistry on screen and they spend a great deal of time verbally sparring with each other this season. The newcomers to the show are no slouches either. Veteran actor Jeff Fahey is memorable as helicopter pilot Frank Lapidus. Ken Leung has already become a series favorite as the sharp-tongued Miles Straume and while some fans have had a negative reaction towards Rebecca Mader’s Charlotte Lewis, it is hard to deny that she puts in a respectable performance here.

Jeremy Davies deserves special recognition for his portrayal of physicist – Daniel Faraday. Simply put, Davies’ is awesome as the polite and awkward scientist whose unique viewpoint of the island’s core mysteries is a benefit to the series. If given more screen time he would have probably stolen the show and he stands alongside Ben Linus and Desmond Hume as yet another exceptional new addition to the series.

With the introduction of new characters and the already expanded Lost cast, some regulars take a step back and are not featured as prominently as you would expect. Most notable are series heavyweights Jack and Kate, who are present and accounted for, but see their roles slightly reduced as other characters are brought to the forefront. As the cast and story expand, it has obviously become a necessity to focus on a wider range of characters. The series’ writers are equal to the task and do a good job of handling a large cast without forgetting anyone in the mix.

Last season, Lost successfully made the transition into the realm of science fiction with classic episodes like “The Constant” and of course, making the island literally disappear in “There’s no Place Like Home.” Season 5 dives head first into weighty science fiction concepts with time travel playing a major role in the narrative for the entire year. There are inherent risks with introducing time travel into a story that is already as complex as the one Lost has become over the past few years. For the most part, the writers do a good job of keeping the time travel aspect of the story from becoming too complicated, but there is no dispute that it is the driving force of the season’s narrative.

The first half of the season is comprised of two very distinct storylines. One of those being Jack Shephard’s desperate attempt to reunite the Oceanic Six in order to return to the island and the other being the journey of those left behind as they find themselves inexplicably traveling through time. The Oceanic Six storyline is definitely the weaker of the two. The story of the Six, hours before they return to the island was weakened by a slow start with the somewhat Hurley-centric “The Lie.” This is an episode that featured a little too much of Hugo Reyes’ wacky exploits as he transports an unconscious Sayid around Los Angeles. The rest of the Oceanic Six story is essentially a waiting game as we watch the pieces fall into place so that these characters can return to where we really want them to be – on the island. In fact, their return to the island in “316” feels rushed, almost as if the writers realized that the best place for these characters is back on the island.

The aptly named “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” is the best episode that takes place almost entirely off the island. The story chronicles John Locke’s attempt to convince the Oceanic Six that they need to return to the island in order to save those left behind. It’s a tragic story for John Locke who has spent the last four seasons in the belief that the survivors of Flight 815 are tied by a single destiny but only in death does he finally make people believe. It’s a well-scripted story and wonderfully acted by Terry O’Quinn who does a great job of portraying an interesting transition for Locke on screen.

Locke isn’t the only one who goes through a transition this season as Benjamin Linus is forced into a situation that is quite surprising for the character. Without delving into too much detail, the dynamic between Locke and Ben changes quite a bit but the great chemistry between O’Quinn and Michael Emerson is still as exceptional as it has always been. Linus fans should not be disappointed by some of the great developments for the character this season.

On the island, Sawyer and the rest of the survivors left behind are forced to cope with the fact that they are constantly flashing through time, either to the past or the future. The approach taken here is straightforward and clearly laid out in the first episode of the season; you cannot change events in the past – whatever happened, happened and couldn’t of happened any other way. Faraday acts as the mouth piece for much of the technobabble in the early part of the season with Sawyer playing the part of the ‘everyman’ who constantly questions why things are happening the way they are. This allows the writers an opportunity to ease the audience into this shift of events without making things too complex to follow. There is plenty of exposition, but with Sawyer’s classic charm to offset Faraday’s jargon, it makes it a lot easier to swallow.

Time travel is utilized to its fullest here to reveal some of the island’s back-story over the last 50 years. Sawyer and co. pay a visit to the Others of the 1950s and are introduced to past leaders of the mysterious group. We also see some much-needed loose ends tied up as we finally learn more about Rousseau and her research team and we also discover why Richard Alpert visited a young Locke just one season ago. As secrets are revealed and key puzzle pieces are slid into place it’s surprising to see just how well everything fits together. Some of this is certainly due to the asset of knowing how many episodes you have left to tell your story in, but I’m hard pressed to find many plot holes in any of the explanations given. Cuse and Lindelof deserve credit for maintaining a watertight narrative throughout most of the season.

Season 6 of Lost is quite possibly the most scrutinized season of television in history. With both longtime fans of the series and curious outsiders wondering if this season would deliver both on answers and a satisfying conclusion, series show runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had an incredible task on their hands. With an edge-of-your-seat conclusion to Season 5, the small band of survivors we’ve grown to love set out on their final journey against a villainous shape shifter on an island of mystery.

In Season 4, “The Constant” established Lost as a science fiction series when it introduced time travel into the equation. From that point forward, until the conclusion of Season 5, the series maintained and expanded on that concept by sending the survivors hurtling through time until they eventually landed in 1974 (or 1977, for those on Ajira 316). Season 6 drops the time travel story completely and introduces a different sci-fi concept: alternate realities. It appears that the detonation of Jughead in “The Incident” created a parallel universe in which events played out slightly different and Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed.Much like flash-backs and flash-forwards, we experience this parallel universe through a series of “centric” flash-sideways featuring the lives of these characters as if the crash had never happened. This gives Lindelof and Cuse a unique opportunity to reexamine the lives of these characters from a completely different perspective. The flash-sideways giving us incredibly important character moments and an intriguing new story that’s both surprising and engaging. With each “centric” flash-sideways story, parallels are drawn to the character’s plight while they are on the island. This relationship between timelines establishes a key connection between both storylines that give the flash-sideways an importance outside of simply being a different perspective on how things could have ultimately played out.

Connections between the two universes are explored more thoroughly as the series progresses and we do ultimately get a resolution to the flash-sideways storyline. How satisfying that resolution is will ultimately be based on a number of factors that stem from your own expectations. In other words, it’s a polarizing conclusion to a very unique story and you’re probably either going to love it or hate it. I loved the way the flash-sideways story ended because it satisfied the need for closure.

“Happily Ever After” stands out as the episode that had the most impact on both universes. Living, breathing Desmond David Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) has his consciousness transported into what we now know to be the afterlife and acts as the genesis for everything that happens in the “flash-sideways” realm after his departure. Desmond is also the catalyst for most events that occur leading up to and including the finale. He’s seen as nothing more than a tool by those around him; a means to an end. However, Desmond is infused with his own sense of purpose. With the events he experienced in the other universe infecting his mind, Desmond sets out to free those remaining on the island from their pain and suffering and take them to a better place. It’s funny how both Desmonds are essentially driven by the same goal, with only one succeeding. But Desmond’s error on the island gives Jack and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) the window they need to stop the Man in Black.untitledTerry O’Quinn, who spent most of the past five seasons playing John Locke, slips into his new role as the embodiment of dark temptation with ease. We actually saw him as the Man in Black last season, but even O’Quinn didn’t realize that he was technically playing a different character until close to the finale. Here he’s allowed to truly enjoy portraying a villain and it’s obvious he’s having a hell of a lot of fun in the role.The Man in Black tests the survivors like never before. Offering them freedom, survival and even  answers to some of the island’s more pressing mysteries. The way that the survivors respond to this temptation ultimately defines who they truly are, even if it takes them some time to make the right decision. Again, just like the flash-sideways, this gives us yet another fascinating new perspective on these characters. We see them at both their weakest and their strongest this season.Season 6 does a good job of explaining some mysteries while others are left up to the viewer to dissect for years to come. Lost: Season 6 is a strong conclusion to what has been an extraordinary series. All the elements that made the past five seasons so great are here, with the added bonus of this being the final season and the stakes being raised for all the characters. Whether or not the answers provided are satisfying or cover enough ground will vary drastically for different viewers, but ultimately, Lost: Season 6 delivers closure on a story that has captivated us for so long.

REVIEW: RED DRAGON

 

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (The Mask of Zorro)
Edward Norton (The Bourne Legacy)
Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter)
Emily Watson (War Horse)
Harvey Keitel (Little Nicky)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Anthony Heald (X-Men: The Last Stand)
Bill Duke (Commando)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)
Ken Leung (Lost)

In Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Hannibal Lecter attends a symphonic orchestra performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is irritated by a flute player who repeatedly misses out on his part. Later, he hosts a dinner party in his townhouse for the orchestra’s board of directors. During conversation, the disappearance of the flute player is brought up. When one of the guests asks about the dish Lecter made, he responds that if he tells her, she might not try it, implying he is serving the flute player.Lecter is visited by Will Graham, a gifted FBI agent who has the ability to empathize with psychopaths. Graham has been working with Lecter on a psychological profile of a serial killer. The killer removed edible body parts from his victims, leading Graham to believe him to be a cannibal. During the consultation, Graham discovers evidence implicating Lecter. Lecter attacks and almost disembowels Graham, before Graham impales him with several arrows then empties his handgun into him. Lecter is sentenced to life imprisonment in an institution for the criminally insane. Graham is traumatized by the experience, and retires.Some years later, another serial killer, nicknamed The Tooth Fairy, appears. He stalks and kills entire families during sequential full moons. Special Agent Jack Crawford seeks Graham’s assistance in determining the killer’s psychological profile. When the death of another family weighs on his conscience, Graham reluctantly agrees. After visiting the crime scenes and speaking with Crawford, Graham concludes he must once again consult Lecter.

The Tooth Fairy is actually Francis Dolarhyde, who kills at the behest of an alternate personality he calls “The Great Red Dragon”. He is obsessed with the William Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, and believes that each victim he “changes” brings him closer to “becoming” the Dragon. His pathology is born from the severe abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his sadistic grandmother.
Meanwhile, Freddy Lounds, a tabloid reporter, who hounded Graham after Lecter’s capture, follows him for leads on The Tooth Fairy. There is a secret correspondence between Lecter and Dolarhyde. Graham’s wife and son are endangered when Lecter gives The Tooth Fairy the agent’s home address, forcing them to be relocated to a farm owned by Crawford’s brother. Hoping to lure out The Tooth Fairy, Graham gives Lounds an interview in which he disparages the killer as an impotent homosexual. This provokes Dolarhyde, who kidnaps Lounds and glues him to an antique wheelchair. Dolarhyde then forces Lounds to recant his allegations, bites off his lips and then sets him on fire outside his newspaper’s offices. Later, at his job in a St. Louis photo lab, Dolarhyde falls in love with Reba McClane, a blind co-worker. He takes her home, where they make love. However, his alternate personality demands that he kill her. Desperate to stop the Dragon’s “possession” of him, Dolarhyde goes to the Brooklyn Museum, tears apart the original Blake painting and eats it.Meanwhile, Graham deduces that the killer knew the layout of his victims’ houses from their home videos. He concludes that the killer works for a company that transfers home movies to video cassette and edits them. He starts searching the companies and their workers. Watching Reba’s house, Dolarhyde finds her having spent the evening with a co-worker, Ralph Mandy, whom she actually dislikes. Enraged by this apparent betrayal, Dolarhyde kills Ralph, kidnaps Reba, takes her to his house, and then sets it on fire. Finding himself unable to shoot her, Dolarhyde apparently shoots himself. Reba is able to escape the house as the police arrive.Dolarhyde, having staged his own death, turns up at Graham’s home in Florida. He holds Graham’s son hostage, threatening to kill him. To save his son, Graham slings insults at the boy, reminding Dolarhyde of his grandmother’s abuse. Enraged, Dolarhyde attacks Graham. Both men are severely wounded in a shootout which ends when Graham’s wife kills Dolarhyde. Graham receives a letter from Lecter which praises him for stopping The Tooth Fairy, bids him well, and says they are going to cross paths soon.Some time later, Lecter’s jailer, Dr. Frederick Chilton, tells him that he has a visitor, a young woman from the FBI. Lecter curiously asks of her name.

After “Silence of the Lambs” became so popular, and the sequel, “Hannibal,” it was decided to re-do that first film and this time obtain Hopkins’ services. It worked because not only do you have the incomparable Hopkins at Dr. Lecter but you have one this generations best actors, Edward Norton, as the leading character “Will Graham.” Norton, as always, gives a solid performance. And – look at the backup cast: Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Harvey Keitel, Mary Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not bad. This is one of those movies that gets better and better with each viewing.

 

REVIEW: A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

CAST

Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)
Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes)
Frances O’Connor (Bedazzled)
Sam Roberds (American Beauty)
Jake Thomas (The Cell)
William Hurt (Captain America: Civil War)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Jack Angel (Transformers)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Robin Williams (Hook)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Chris Rock (Rush Hour)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Clark Gregg (Agents of SHIELD)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang theory)
April Grace (Whiplash)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Daveigh Chase (S.Darko)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Adrian Grenier (Drive Me crazy)
Paula Malcolmson (Capria)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)

A.I. began life as a short story by Brian Aldiss, but it blossomed into something more sprawling under Kubrick. It is the story of the first-ever robot boy. Set in a future where climate change has left multiple major cities underwater, a refocused society has made many technological advancements since the cataclysm–including synthesized life. Robots have different functions in society, but largely act as servants, be it of the more traditional kind (maids, chauffeurs) or less domestic (sexbots). At the start of the movie, a scientist (William Hurt) proposes a new function: true love. What if they could create a simulacrum of a real child, one that could be programmed to love its adoptive parents unconditionally? Could then the humans love it in return?The prototype is David (Haley Joel Osment), a specially built android that looks real in every way. He is given to a married couple (Sam Robards and Frances O’Connor) whose own child is currently in cryogenic stasis until a fatal health problem can be solved by medical science. Stuck in her grief, the mother, Monica, takes to her new “son,” developing a strong attachment to him. Only, when her actual child (Jake Thomas) is healed and returned to her, the human boy’s jealousy makes it impossible to keep David. Monica is unwilling to send David back to the factory for destruction and so lets the robot boy go instead. Devastated by this rejection, David takes his animated toy teddy bear (voiced by Jack Angel) and goes looking for the Blue Fairy, the angel who turned Pinocchio into a real boy at the end of the story Monica read to him. If he can become real, she can love him as much as her flesh-and-blood offspring.What follows is David’s fairy-tale journey. Like Pinocchio, he will run into many hazards, including a destructive carnival where robot-hating humans dismantle artificial life as a form of entertainment. There David meets Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), a pleasure robot who is on the run, as well. He agrees to help David find the Blue Fairy, detouring to a dazzling futuristic city where all manner of carnal delights can be found before finally heading to Manhattan and, supposedly, the edge of the world.The philosophical question at the core of A.I. Artificial Intelligence is the difference between authenticity and artifice. Are they mutually exclusive, or is that just a matter of perception? Kubrick famously put off making the movie for over a decade in hopes that an actual robot could be built to play the part of David. Spielberg came into the mix after Kubrick had seen Jurassic Park. It apparently made Stanley realize that if an approximation of a dinosaur was good enough, fake robots would be, as well. Extending the metaphor into the creative process, he embraced the idea that artifice could stand in for the authentic. One could even take it further to say this necessary balance was also the difference between the two directors, why it took both of them to make this extraordinary picture: the authenticity of Stanley Kubrick lent credibility to the artifice of Steven Spielberg, and vice-versa.

Spielberg doesn’t so much repress his style for A.I. as he tries on another man’s clothes and walks around in them for a while. The final movie has the chilly rigor of a Kubrick movie, but with touches of Spielberg’s slick storytelling. The teddy bear that serves as David’s Jiminy Cricket is perfectly integrated into the live action, and the fully imaginary Rouge City, inspired as it was by European comics, is just as believable–and indeed, indistinguishable in terms of craft–as the version of New York City that Spielberg sinks into the Atlantic. One is created from whole cloth, the other uses reality as its starting point–and neither is more real or unreal than its counterpart.

In terms of acting, it’s easy to see why Osment was viewed as the leading actor of a new generation. His performance as David is remarkably subtle. He uses carefully choreographed body language to convey the character’s “otherness.” He carries himself awkwardly, maintaining a blank naïveté that is essential to illustrating David’s lack of experience. It’s a far more complex construction than it might appear. Also good are O’Connor as the grieving mother (she has the widest range of emotions of anyone in the movie) and Jude Law as the charming hustler. He brings a touch of classic Hollywood style to the role–a gigolo is just another type of actor, after all.

There is nothing else quite like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and given that once upon a time Stanley Kubrick showed us the dawn of humanity, it seems fitting that his career should end by showing us what the world would be like once humanity was gone.

REVIEW: VANILLA SKY

CAST

Tom Cruise (Knight and Day)
Penelope Cruz (Grimsby)
Cameron Diaz (Bad TEacher)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)
Timothy Spall (Rock Star)
Tilda Swinton (Constantine)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Ivana Milicevic (Casino Rtoyale)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Alicia Witt (Two Weeks Notice)
Ken Leung (Lost)

Vanilla Sky didn’t really have it easy in the year of its release. On top of being a Hollywood remake of the critically-acclaimed Spanish film, it also had to contend with the debut of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and the wider distribution of Nolan’s Memento — both of which generated buzz by accomplishing similar things in superior ways — earlier that year. Therefore, the field was crowded in the psycho-puzzle subgenre, and the twisted story of David Aames’ conflict of romantic pursuits and amnesiac murder mystery wasn’t, in a literal sense, anything new.Crowe tweaks the narrative, though, by emphasizing the protagonist’s legacy as the heir to a publishing empire, accentuating his recklessness with the business end of things and a general self-awareness of the tools at his disposal: charisma, wealth, and appearance. That makes it all the more intriguing to watch his casual tryst with clingy actress Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz) evolve beyond his control, and to see it all deconstructed by a beautiful but comparatively commonplace dancer, Sofia (Penelope Cruz), who immediately steals his heart.Cruise admirably embraces the understated commentary on his persona through his character’s carefree place of power and his thorny relationship with his father, with his easy charm and building anxiety driven by writer/director Crowe’s good-natured style of human interaction. An immediate spark ignites between his character and Sofia within, unsurprisingly, a cluttered celebration of the greatness of David on his birthday, and it stays credible throughout the film due to how Penelope Cruz’s down-to-earth wit and allure drags him out of the clouds, shaping into a poignant love story. The standout performance, however, emerges in Cameron Diaz with arguably the best turn of her career, encapsulating obsession and one-way affection in a beautiful shell that’s both sympathetic and unsettling, the cloud over David’s happiness.
Infusing ethereal tracks by composer (and wife) Nancy Wilson and Icelandic band Sigur Ros with classic and contemporary melancholy pop songs, director Crowe again uses his musical awareness to heighten the visual and dramatic tempo in Vanilla Sky. Instead of directly enveloping scenes in the feel of a time period or the clear emotional state of a character, however, his musical selection here transports the audience through the complicated space of David Aames’ mind, guiding the film in both similar and differing tonal directions to that of Amenabar’s original intents. Crowe’s attunement to sound mixes intriguingly with the growingly abstract nature of David’s telling of the events, embracing an attitude that’s somewhere between the earnest warmth of the director’s previous pictures and the disappearing grip on reality within David’s psychosis. Overt sentimentality does get in the way of establishing a consistent suspenseful mood, but that duality also becomes one of the film’s distinguishing attributes as the tone shifts between those margins.

Along the way, Cameron Crowe never lets the viewer forget that this is a narrative being spun by an imprisoned man in a latex mask, divulged to an inquisitive psychiatrist as he builds a case for David’s mental state surrounding a murder accusation. Paired with the evocative perspective of Braveheart and Almost Famous cinematographer John Toll, surreal cues emerge through the film’s visual language that suggest there’s more to everything than what we’re shown, where little details scattered about — photographs, drawings, even the mole on someone’s body — begin to play with the perspectives of both David and the audience’s trust level in him. It’s at this point where Vanilla Sky pulls the curtain back on what it’s really about, descending into the pandemonium of nightmares and unreliable narration through warped science-fiction that recalibrates just about everything that’s transpired thus far. Crowe doesn’t get carried away with it all, either, keeping a firm grip on what’s safe to be deduced and not as the film shapeshifts into a psychological thriller.

Vanilla Sky tumbles down that rabbit hole in a wild, slyly unsettling climax to the tragic mysteries of David’s life, both revealing the truth of what’s going on and inviting different interpretations to what it all means through layered clues, more flashes of images and whispers in the distance. It’s unsurprising that heavy emotion speaks louder than thematic lucidity in Crowe’s ending, the most divergent part of the film from the original; however, the bittersweet nature in how it feeds into the choice between moving on with one’s life or perpetuating an illusion says enough. Despite tiptoeing around some rather dark elements, it leaves the audience with a degree of cathartic optimism hanging in the air alongside swelling atmospheric music and painterly surroundings, yet there’s also the lingering sensation that everything hasn’t been, and won’t be, fully answered. Whether repeat viewings will bring that more into focus depends on the viewer, but thankfully experiencing the sweet and sour of David’s life is compelling enough to continue doing so anyway.