REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN 3

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
James Franco (This Is The End)
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Rosemary Harris (This Means War)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Dylan Baker (The Cell)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Cliff Robertson (Escape From L.A.)
Elya Baskin (October Sky)
Ted Raimi (Odyssey 5)
Mageina Tovah (Sleepover)
Michael Papajohn (Predator 2)
Joe Manganiello (True Blood)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bill Nunn (True Crime)
Steve Valentine (Mike & Molly)
Theresa Russell (Wild Things)
Perla Haney-Jardine (Steve Jobs)
Lucy Gordon (Gainsbourg)

Peter Parker has finally balanced his normal life and his life as Spider-Man. He plans to propose to Mary Jane Watson, who has just made her Broadway musical debut. Later, a meteorite lands at Central Park, and an extraterrestrial symbiote follows Peter to his apartment. Harry Osborn, seeking vengeance after his father’s death, attacks Peter with weapons based on his father’s Green Goblin technology. The battle ends in a stalemate, with Harry crashing out and developing amnesia, wiping out his memory of Peter as Spider-Man. Meanwhile, police pursue escaped prisoner Flint Marko, who visits his wife and dying daughter before fleeing again, and falling into an experimental particle accelerator that fuses his body with the surrounding sand, transforming him into the Sandman.During a festival honoring Spider-Man, Peter kisses Gwen Stacy, infuriating Mary Jane. The superpowered Marko robs an armored car, and Peter confronts him. Marko easily subdues Peter, and escapes. NYPD Captain George Stacy informs Peter and Aunt May that Marko was Uncle Ben’s true killer; the deceased Dennis Carradine was Marko’s accomplice. While a vengeance-obsessed Peter sleeps in his Spider-Man suit, the symbiote assimilates his suit. Peter later awakens and discovers his costume changed and his powers enhanced; however, the symbiote brings out Peter’s dark side. Wearing the new suit, Peter locates Marko and battles him in a subway tunnel. Discovering that water is Marko’s weakness, Peter breaks a water pipe, causing water to reduce Marko into mud, washing him away and believing him to be dead.Peter’s changed personality alienates Mary Jane, whose career is floundering, and she finds solace with Harry, but leaves in regret. Harry recovers from his amnesia and, urged by a hallucination of his father, blackmails Mary Jane into unwillingly breaking up with Peter. After Mary Jane tells Peter she loves “somebody else”, Harry meets with Peter and claims to be “the other guy”. An enraged Peter, wearing the black suit, confronts Harry about forcing Mary Jane to end her relationship with him and spitefully tells Harry his father never loved him. Another fight ensues, in which Harry throws a pumpkin bomb at Peter, who deflects it back, disfiguring Harry’s face.Under the symbiote’s influence, Peter exposes rival photographer Eddie Brock, whose fake photos depicted Spider-Man as a criminal, which results J.Jonah Jameson firing him. Soon afterward, to make Mary Jane jealous, Peter brings Gwen to the nightclub where Mary Jane now works, but Gwen catches on and leaves. Peter brawls with the bouncers and, after accidentally hurting Mary Jane, he realizes that the symbiote is corrupting him. Retreating to a church bell tower, he discovers that he cannot remove the suit, but that the symbiote weakens when the bell rings. Peter is able to remove the symbiote, and it falls to the lower tower, landing on Brock, who had been praying for Peter’s death. The symbiote bonds to Brock, transforming him into Venom. Brock locates Marko and convinces him to join forces to defeat Peter.Brock hijacks a taxi with Mary Jane on board, and hangs it as bait from a web above a construction site, while Marko keeps the police at bay. Peter seeks Harry’s help, but is rejected. While Peter battles Brock and Marko, Harry learns the truth about his father’s death from his butler, and goes to help Peter as he is being overpowered, resulting in a battle between the four. Harry subdues the Sandman before assisting Peter against Brock. In the ensuing battle, Brock attempts to impale Peter on Harry’s glider, but Harry intervenes and is impaled himself. Remembering the symbiote’s weakness, Peter assembles a perimeter of metal pipes to create a sonic attack, weakening Venom, and allowing Peter to separate Brock and the symbiote. Peter activates a pumpkin bomb from Harry’s glider to destroy the symbiote, but Brock dives in, and the bomb kills them both.Peter confronts Marko, who explains that Uncle Ben’s death was an accident, and has haunted him ever since. Peter forgives Marko, who then leaves. Peter and Mary Jane stand beside Harry, who eventually dies after the impalement. Peter, Mary Jane, and Aunt May attend Harry’s funeral. Later, at the nightclub, Peter and Mary Jane reconcile.The biggest problem with Spider-man 3 are two separate sequences that are meant to show how much the new alien costume has effected Peter Parker’s personality. The first sequence is silly, and by comparison rather innocuous. But the second scene, involving Peter’s attempt to woo new love interest Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard), while making Mary Jane jealous, is just plain ridiculous. Comic book purists will hate this scene, and even die-hard fans of the films may find it a bit out of place within the cinematic universe.But despite the problems that plague Spider-man 3, it is still an incredibly fun film. Director Sam Raimi once again delivers the superheroic goods. And in terms of how the action sequences and special effects have been put together this time around, Raimi leaves the first two films in the dust. This is clearly the best of the three from that standpoint, as the action comes alive in sequences that would have been impossible cinematically less than a decade ago. In fact, the action may even be more spectacular than anything you could see in a comic book. Unfortunately, the film never manages to be anything more than a sequel. What made Spider-man 2 such an amazing film was that it managed to emerge from the shadow of its predecessor, standing on its own as a superior movie. Spider-man 3, however, is never able to come out from the massive shadow cast by the first two instalments.

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REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN 2.1

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
James Franco (This Is The End)
Alfred Molina (Frida)
Rosemary Harris (This Means War)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Donna Murphy (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Daniel Gillies (The Originals)
Dylan Baker (The Cell)
Mageina Tovah (Sleepover)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Joel McHale (Ted)
Hal Sparks (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Cliff Robertson (Escape From L.A.)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Elya Baskin (October Sky)
Ted Raimi (Odyssey 5)
Bill Nunn (True Crime)
Aasif Mandvi (The Dictator)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Jill Sayre (Hercules and The Amazon Women)

Peter Parker, secretly the superhero Spider-Man, struggles to balance his superhero and civilian lives and duties; he has become estranged from both love interest Mary Jane “M.J.” Watson and best friend Harry Osborn, and additionally discovers his Aunt May is facing eviction. He also finds himself suffering temporary, but reoccurring losses of his powers, often in life-threatening situations. Harry, now head of Oscorp’s research division, is sponsoring a fusion power project by nuclear scientist Otto Octavius’, who befriends and mentors Peter. While handling hazardous materials, Octavius wears a harness of powerful robotic tentacle arms with artificial intelligence. During a public demonstration that Peter and Harry attend, a power spike causes the fusion reactor to destabilize. Octavius refuses to shut down the reactor, which goes critical—resulting in the death of his wife, the fusion of the harness to his spine, and the burnout of the inhibitor chip blocking the arms from his nervous system. Peter shuts the experiment down, destroying it in the process.At a hospital, doctors prepare to surgically remove Octavius’ harness. However, without the inhibitor chip the arms have developed sentience and as a result, attack and massacre the surgical crew. Upon regaining consciousness and seeing the carnage, Octavius escapes and takes refuge at a harbor. Becoming increasingly influenced by the arms’ AI, he robs a bank in order to fund a second experiment. Peter and May coincidentally are there, and Octavius takes May hostage. Peter rescues her, but Octavius flees with stolen money. The Daily Bugle subsequently dubs the scientist Doctor Octopus.Mary Jane becomes engaged to astronaut John Jameson, son of Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. Peter suffers an emotional breakdown over his inability to balance his life, resulting in him losing his powers. He discards his costume, abandons his Spider-Man identity, returns to his normal life, and attempts to reconcile with Mary Jane. A garbageman brings Peter’s Spider-Man costume to Jameson, who takes credit for driving Spider-Man into hiding. Peter tells May the truth behind his Uncle Ben’s death and how he is responsible. May forgives him, but the rise in New York City crime rate worries Peter.Requiring the isotope tritium to fuel his reactor, Octavius visits Harry to demand it. Harry agrees in exchange for Spider-Man’s life. He tells Octavius to seek Peter, who Harry believes is friends with Spider-Man, but requests Octavius not harm him. Octavius locates Peter, tells him to find Spider-Man, and captures Mary Jane. Her endangerment leads to Peter’s powers resurfacing. Just as Jameson admits he was wrong about Spider-Man, Peter steals his costume back from the Bugle and goes after Octavius. As Peter battles Octavius, they fall onto a New York City subway train. Octavius sabotages the controls and leaves Peter to save the passengers, which he does at a great physical toll. When he faints from exhaustion, the grateful passengers save him from falling and bring him into the train, seeing his unmasked face, but promising to keep their knowledge hidden. In vain, they try to protect him when Octavius returns to capture Peter, whom Octavius delivers to Harry.After giving Octavius the tritium, Harry prepares to kill Peter, only to be shocked to discover his real identity. Peter convinces Harry to direct him to Octavius’s lair. As Spider-Man, he arrives at the doctor’s waterfront laboratory and attempts to rescue Mary Jane discreetly. Octavius discovers him and they fight once again as the nuclear reaction swells. Peter ultimately subdues Octavius, reveals his identity, and persuades Octavius to let his dream go for the greater good. Octavius finally commands the tentacles to obey him, and gives his life to destroy the experiment. Mary Jane sees Spider-Man’s true identity and feelings, which he says is why they cannot be together. Peter returns Mary Jane to John, and leaves. Harry is visited by a vision of his father in a mirror, pleading for Harry to avenge his death. Refusing to hurt Peter, Harry shatters the mirror, unintentionally revealing a secret room containing prototypes of the Green Goblin’s equipment. On her wedding day, Mary Jane abandons John at the altar and runs to Peter’s apartment. After they kiss, they hear police sirens, and Mary Jane encourages him go help as Spider-Man.The story, and characters are fleshed out more this time out, as well as the effects. Kirsten Dunst is more convincing as MJ . Here she, like the rest of the cast, do a convincing job. The top performance has to go to Alfred Molina. In the short screen time Otto has before he becomes a diabolical powerhouse supervillain, he is an endearing, likable person. Spider-Man 2 also offers more confidence in it’s story telling. Director Sam Raimi and crew really nailed it this time around.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN 2

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
James Franco (This Is The End)
Alfred Molina (Frida)
Rosemary Harris (This Means War)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Donna Murphy (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Daniel Gillies (The Originals)
Dylan Baker (The Cell))
Mageina Tovah (Sleepover)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Joel McHale (Ted)
Hal Sparks (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Cliff Robertson (Escape From L.A.)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Elya Baskin (October Sky)
Ted Raimi (Odyssey 5)
Bill Nunn (True Crime)
Aasif Mandvi (The Dictator)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Jill Sayre (Hercules and The Amazon Women)

Peter Parker, secretly the superhero Spider-Man, struggles to balance his superhero and civilian lives and duties; he has become estranged from both love interest Mary Jane “M.J.” Watson and best friend Harry Osborn, and additionally discovers his Aunt May is facing eviction. He also finds himself suffering temporary, but reoccurring losses of his powers, often in life-threatening situations.Harry, now head of Oscorp’s research division, is sponsoring a fusion power project by nuclear scientist Otto Octavius’, who befriends and mentors Peter. While handling hazardous materials, Octavius wears a harness of powerful robotic tentacle arms with artificial intelligence. During a public demonstration that Peter and Harry attend, a power spike causes the fusion reactor to destabilize. Octavius refuses to shut down the reactor, which goes critical—resulting in the death of his wife, the fusion of the harness to his spine, and the burnout of the inhibitor chip blocking the arms from his nervous system. Peter shuts the experiment down, destroying it in the process.At a hospital, doctors prepare to surgically remove Octavius’ harness. However, without the inhibitor chip the arms have developed sentience and as a result, attack and massacre the surgical crew. Upon regaining consciousness and seeing the carnage, Octavius escapes and takes refuge at a harbor. Becoming increasingly influenced by the arms’ AI, he robs a bank in order to fund a second experiment. Peter and May coincidentally are there, and Octavius takes May hostage. Peter rescues her, but Octavius flees with stolen money. The Daily Bugle subsequently dubs the scientist Doctor Octopus.Mary Jane becomes engaged to astronaut John Jameson, son of Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. Peter suffers an emotional breakdown over his inability to balance his life, resulting in him losing his powers. He discards his costume, abandons his Spider-Man identity, returns to his normal life, and attempts to reconcile with Mary Jane. A garbageman brings Peter’s Spider-Man costume to Jameson, who takes credit for driving Spider-Man into hiding. Peter tells May the truth behind his Uncle Ben’s death and how he is responsible. May forgives him, but the rise in New York City crime rate worries Peter.Requiring the isotope tritium to fuel his reactor, Octavius visits Harry to demand it. Harry agrees in exchange for Spider-Man’s life. He tells Octavius to seek Peter, who Harry believes is friends with Spider-Man, but requests Octavius not harm him. Octavius locates Peter, tells him to find Spider-Man, and captures Mary Jane. Her endangerment leads to Peter’s powers resurfacing. Just as Jameson admits he was wrong about Spider-Man, Peter steals his costume back from the Bugle and goes after Octavius. As Peter battles Octavius, they fall onto a New York City subway train. Octavius sabotages the controls and leaves Peter to save the passengers, which he does at a great physical toll. When he faints from exhaustion, the grateful passengers save him from falling and bring him into the train, seeing his unmasked face, but promising to keep their knowledge hidden. In vain, they try to protect him when Octavius returns to capture Peter, whom Octavius delivers to Harry.After giving Octavius the tritium, Harry prepares to kill Peter, only to be shocked to discover his real identity. Peter convinces Harry to direct him to Octavius’s lair. As Spider-Man, he arrives at the doctor’s waterfront laboratory and attempts to rescue Mary Jane discreetly. Octavius discovers him and they fight once again as the nuclear reaction swells. Peter ultimately subdues Octavius, reveals his identity, and persuades Octavius to let his dream go for the greater good. Octavius finally commands the tentacles to obey him, and gives his life to destroy the experiment. Mary Jane sees Spider-Man’s true identity and feelings, which he says is why they cannot be together. Peter returns Mary Jane to John, and leaves. Harry is visited by a vision of his father in a mirror, pleading for Harry to avenge his death. Refusing to hurt Peter, Harry shatters the mirror, unintentionally revealing a secret room containing prototypes of the Green Goblin’s equipment. On her wedding day, Mary Jane abandons John at the altar and runs to Peter’s apartment. After they kiss, they hear police sirens, and Mary Jane encourages him go help as Spider-Man.In short, the movie flows better. The characters progress nicely from the events in the first film. The effects are bigger and better and more effective. It feels like a comic book movie should feel like. It’s a more fluid.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (2002)

 

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
James Franco (This Is The End)
Cliff Robertson (Escape From L.A.)
Rosemary Harris (This Means War)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Joe Manganiello (True Blood)
Bill Nunn (True Crime)
Michael Papajohn (Predator 2)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Randy Savage (Bolt)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Lucy Lawless (Xena)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Ted Raimi (Odyssey 5)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble
Stanley Anderson (Armageddon)
Ron Perkins (The Prestige)
Jill Sayre (Hercules and The Amazon Women)
Macy Gray (Shadowboxer)
Ajay Mehta (68 Kill)

High-school senior Peter Parker lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and is a school outcast. On a school field trip, he visits a genetics laboratory with his friend Harry Osborn and love interest Mary Jane Watson. There, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered “super spider.” Shortly after arriving home, he becomes unconscious. Meanwhile, Harry’s father, scientist Norman Osborn, owner of Oscorp, is trying to secure an important military contract. He experiments on himself with an unstable performance-enhancing chemical. After absorbing the chemical, he goes insane and kills his assistant.The next morning, Peter finds that he is no longer near-sighted, and his body has metamorphosized into a more muscular physique. At school, he finds that his body can produce webs, and his quickened reflexes let him avoid injury during a confrontation with Flash Thompson. Peter discovers he has developed superhuman speed, strength, the ability to stick to surfaces, and a heightened ability to sense danger.Brushing off Ben’s advice that “with great power comes great responsibility,” Peter thinks of impressing Mary Jane with a car. He enters an underground fighting tournament and wins his first match, but the promoter cheats him out of his money. When a thief suddenly raids the promoter’s office, Peter allows him to escape. Moments later, he discovers that Ben was carjacked, and killed. Peter pursues and confronts the carjacker, only to realize it was the thief he let escape. After Peter disarms him, the carjacker flees but dies in the process. Meanwhile, a crazed Norman interrupts a military experiment by Oscorp’s corporate rival and kills several scientists and the military’s General Slocum.Upon graduating, Peter begins using his abilities to fight injustice, donning a costume and the persona of Spider-Man. J. Jonah Jameson, a newspaper company headmaster hires Peter as a freelance photographer since he is the only person providing clear images of Spider-Man.Norman, upon learning Oscorp’s board members plan to force him out and sell the company, assassinates them at the World Unity Fair. Jameson quickly dubs the mysterious killer the Green Goblin. Norman offers Peter a place at his side, but Peter refuses. They fight, and Peter is wounded. At Thanksgiving dinner, May invites Mary Jane, Harry, and Norman. During the dinner, Norman sees the wound and realizes Peter’s identity. Shortly after he leaves, Norman attacks, and hospitalizes May.Mary Jane admits she is infatuated with Spider-Man, who has rescued her on numerous occasions, and asks Peter whether Spider-Man ever asked about her. Harry, who is dating Mary Jane, arrives and presumes she has feelings for Peter after seeing them hold hands. Devastated, Harry tells his father that Peter loves Mary Jane, unintentionally revealing Spider-Man’s biggest weakness.Norman holds Mary Jane and a Roosevelt Island Tram car full of children hostage alongside the Queensboro Bridge. He forces Peter to choose whom he wants to save and drops Mary Jane and the children. Peter manages to save both Mary Jane and the tram car, while Norman is pelted by civilians who side with Spider-Man. Norman then grabs Peter and throws him into an abandoned building where they battle. When Norman boasts about how he will later kill Mary Jane, an enraged Peter overpowers Norman.Norman reveals himself to Peter, who stops attacking. He begs for forgiveness, but at the same time controls his glider to impale his foe. Sensing the attack, Peter dodges, and the glider impales Norman. As he dies, Norman begs Peter not to tell Harry of Norman’s identity. Peter takes Norman’s body back to his house. Harry arrives to find a costumed Peter standing over his father’s body. He seizes a gun, intent on shooting Peter, but Peter escapes and hides Norman’s equipment. At Norman’s funeral, Harry swears vengeance toward Spider-Man, whom he deems responsible for his father’s death, and asserts that Peter is all the family he has left. Mary Jane confesses to Peter that she is in love with him. Peter, however, feels that he must protect her from the unwanted attention of his enemies. He hides his true feelings and tells Mary Jane that they can only be friends. As Peter leaves the funeral, he recalls Ben’s words and accepts his new responsibility as Spider-Man.Spider-Man is a movie not to be missed. If you have never been introduced to Spider-Man, this movie does a good job with his origin and one of his greatest enemies. This movie has a great plot (written by David Koepp) and is easily going to be a huge moneymaker. Some of the special effects may look unrealistic or maybe you will not notice them at all. This is a movie you can enjoy both from a story and action angle.

REVIEW: THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC

CAST

Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Brittany Murphy (Just Married)
Paul Freeman (MMPR: The Movie)
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Louise Fletcher (Exorcist II)
Daniel Brocklebank (The Hours)

The film opens with Hannah, a teen girl, in a tattoo parlor with her friends, contemplating what tattoo she wants. Before she can decide, she notes the time and realizes she is late for a Passover dinner. Hannah hates going to her family seder as her family tells the same stories and Hannah is tired of hearing about the past. Her aunt tells her every year that Hannah looks like her namesake, Chaya, but won’t tell Hannah who Chaya was or what she did. During the seder Hannah opens the front door to let in the prophet Elijah, but she sees a Polish village instead of the outside of the apartment. All of a sudden she is not only in a new place but also in the year 1941.Hannah learns she is in the home of Rivka, who says she is Hannah (now Chaya)’s cousin, and her aunt Gitl. They tell Hannah she has been sick and that should explain her strange ramblings about the future. The next day, the family goes into the village for a wedding, which is interrupted by Nazi soldiers, who say the whole village will be resettled. After a long journey, they arrive at a Nazi concentration camp assumed to be Auschwitz. There, their valuables are stolen, their heads are shorn, they are tattooed, and they are made prisoners.Life is brutal, but Hannah tells fairy tales and stories to the women in her bunk to keep their spirits up, and she insists that she knows what is coming because of her history classes in school, but no one will believe her. Tensions rise when a family is revealed to have typhus and when a woman goes into labor, some of the men attempt an escape when they find a guard they think they can trust, only to be caught and executed. One day, the commandant notices that Rivka and other inmates are ill,he orders them to go to the gas chamber. Before he can see, Hannah switches places with Rivka. As she enters the gas chamber, she is transported back to the present day. As she rejoins her family at the dinner table, she notes that her aunt has Rivka’s number tattooed on her arm, and she tells everyone the story about the Chaya who saved her aunt’s life.Although I have not had the opportunity to read the novel, I felt that this film, despite its low-budget status, is well done, engaging and unequivocally moving. The surprising highlight of the film is the portrayal of Hannah and Rivkah by Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy. Dunst and Murphy bring an inner-strength to the protagonists leaving the viewer speechless as she/he inexorably contemplates the value of life, friendship and courage in the face of evil and physical/spiritual death.

REVIEW: THE CAT’S MEOW

CAST

Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man)
Edward Hermann (The Aviator)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Joanna Lumley (Ella Enchanted)
Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky)
Claudia Harrison (New Tricks)
James Laurenson (The Bourney Identity 88)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)

November 15, 1924: Among those boarding the luxury yacht Oneida in San Pedro, California are its owner, publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, and his mistress, silent film star Marion Davies; motion picture mogul Thomas H. Ince, whose birthday is the reason for the weekend cruise, and his mistress, starlet Margaret Livingston; international film star Charlie Chaplin; English writer Elinor Glyn; and Louella Parsons, a film critic for Hearst’s New York American.Several of those participating in the weekend’s festivities are at a crossroads in their lives and/or careers. Chaplin, still dealing with the critical and commercial failure of A Woman of Paris and rumors he has impregnated 16-year-old Lita Grey (who appeared in his film The Kid) is in the midst of preparing The Gold Rush. Davies longs to appear in a slapstick comedy rather than the somber costume dramas to which Hearst has kept her confined. Ince’s eponymous film studio is in dire financial straits, so he hopes to convince Hearst to take him on as a partner in Cosmopolitan Pictures. Parsons would like to relocate from the East Coast to more glamorous Hollywood. Hearst suspects Davies and Chaplin have engaged in an affair, a suspicion shared by Ince, who seeks proof he can present to Hearst in order to curry favor with him. In the wastepaper basket in Chaplin’s stateroom, Ince discovers a discarded love letter to Davies and pockets it with plans to produce it at an opportune moment. When he finally does, Hearst is enraged. His anger is fueled further when he finds a brooch he had given Davies in Chaplin’s cabin. Hearst concludes it was lost there during a romantic liaison, and he rifles Marion’s room for further evidence.Armed with a pistol, Hearst searches the yacht for Chaplin in the middle of the night. Ince, meanwhile, runs into Davies and the two sit and talk with Ince donning a hat Chaplin had worn. Davies explains to Ince her love for Hearst and her regret at an earlier affair with Chaplin. She states “I never loved him” just as Hearst arrives behind them. Thinking Davies is referring to him, and mistaking Ince for Chaplin, a jealous Hearst shoots Ince. The assault is witnessed by Parsons, who had heard noises and went to investigate.Hearst arranges to dock in San Diego and have a waiting ambulance take the dying Ince home. He phones the injured man’s wife and tells her Ince attempted suicide when Livingston tried to end their affair, assuring her the truth won’t reach the media. To the rest of his guests he announces Ince’s ulcer flared up and required immediate medical attention. Davies, of course, knows the truth, and confides in Chaplin. Also armed with that knowledge is Parsons, who assures Hearst his secret will be safe in exchange for a lifetime contract with the Hearst Corporation, thus laying the groundwork for her lengthy career as one of Hollywood’s most powerful gossip columnists. After seeing Ince off, Hearst confronts Davies and Chaplin. He is berated by Chaplin, who expects Davies to join him. Hearst, however, challenges Chaplin to guarantee Davies that he can promise her a happy life. When Chaplin fails to answer, Hearst informs Chaplin of the vow of silence he and the fellow guests have made to keep the weekend’s activities a secret. Chaplin despairs as he realizes the murder has strengthened Davies’ love for Hearst. The film concludes with the guests leaving Ince’s funeral, as Glyn relates what became of them: Livingston went on to star in a number of successful films and her film salary “inexplicably” went from $300 to $1000 a film. Davies starred in more of Hearst’s films before finally being allowed to feature in a comedy The Hollywood Revue of 1929, which was (as Chaplin predicted) a success. She stayed by Hearst’s side until his death in 1951. Chaplin married his teenage lover Lita Grey in Mexico and his film The Gold Rush was an overwhelming success. Parsons worked for Hearst for many years and subsequently became one of the most successful writers in the history of American journalism. Tom Ince was largely forgotten after the events of his death. Very few newspapers reported it, no police action was taken, and of all the people on board only one was ever questioned. It is concluded that in Hollywood, “the place just off the coast of the planet Earth,” no two accounts of the story are the same.The setup and the performers are excellent and the depiction of Hollywood in the late 1920s is well done and the murder and resulting cover-up are believable. While perhaps a bit too much of an “inside Hollywood legends” tale for the mainstream.. the film is well done and entertaining enough that I would definitely recommend it

REVIEW: LEVITY

CAST

Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins)
Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man)
Holly Hunter (Batman V Superman)
Manuel Aranguiz (Lulu)
Dorian Harewood (Gothika)

Manual Jordan, a man who served nearly 23 years for killing a teenager during an attempted robbery, is released on parole in spite of his objections. After spending his time staring at a clipping of Abner Easley, the boy he killed, he returns to the city he used to live in to find redemption. He ends up living at a community house which is run by Miles Evans, a preacher. He offers Manual work so he can pay for the room, and Manual places Abner’s photo in his room to remind himself of his crime.While staying at the community house, he befriends Sofia Mellinger, a wild young woman with no adult figure in her life. Manual also encounters Adele Easley, the elder sister of Abner. She does not recognize Manual and in his pursuit for forgiveness, he forms a friendship with her, and their relationship begins to develop. Manual gets his chance for redemption when Adele’s rebellious teenage son becomes involved in violence. Manual tries to befriend him and steer him in the right direction, ever mindful of the past.Nicely shot in Montréal, Québec, Canada by Roger Deakins, Levity is an interesting and smartly scripted piece. It’s a given that it will not be for everyone, but it’s hoped that just like it did me, it will creep up on you and stay on your mind for a few days afterwards.