REVIEW: RED 2

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
John Malkovich (Burn After Reading)
Helen Mirren (Woman In Gold)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment)
Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
David Thewlis (Wonder Woman)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Titus Welliver (Bosch)

Three years after the previous film, while trying to lead a normal life with girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is approached by Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who claims people are still after them, but Frank dismisses him. After appealing a second time, Marvin drives off, and his car explodes. Although Frank does not believe Marvin is dead, Sarah convinces him to go to Marvin’s funeral where he delivers a teary-eyed eulogy.After the funeral, a group of government agents approach Frank and take him to be interrogated at a Yankee White Facility. During the interrogation, Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) appears with an armed SWAT team, kills most of the facility’s personnel, and tells Frank that he will torture Sarah until he gets information out of Frank. Frank escapes from the room, evades Horton’s assassins, and with the sudden timely help of Marvin, who turns out to be alive, goes on the run with Sarah.In a diner, Marvin explains that he and Frank are being hunted because they were listed as participants in a clandestine operation codenamed Nightshade, conducted during the Cold War to smuggle a nuclear weapon into Russia piece by piece. Horton has convinced world agencies that Frank and his crew are terrorists and must be stopped. Victoria (Helen Mirren) calls, telling Frank she has been contracted by MI6 to kill the three of them. Meanwhile, top contract killer Han Cho-Bai (Lee Byung-hun), whom Horton knows is seeking revenge on Frank, is also hired.Frank, Marvin, and Sarah steal Han’s plane and fly to Paris to find a man nicknamed “The Frog” (David Thewlis), with the Americans and Han in pursuit. As they arrive in Paris, they are stopped by Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Russian secret agent with whom Frank had a relationship earlier in his career. Katja is also in search of Nightshade, and joins them to find The Frog. When he sees them, The Frog flees. Frank and Katja catch him and bring him back to his house, where Sarah seduces him, both to help them and to prove she is a better girlfriend than Katja.The Frog gives them the key to his security box, which Katja apparently takes from Frank after drugging him; but Marvin, anticipating this, had handed a similar-looking key to Frank before his meeting with her. Marvin, Frank, and Sarah later find documents in The Frog’s security box which point to Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant physicist, as the creator of the Operation Nightshade bomb.They find that Bailey is alive, held thirty-two years in a maximum security asylum for the criminally insane in London. Victoria (alerted by Marvin) unexpectedly confronts the trio, but helps to fake their deaths and then gain access to the asylum, in which Victoria feigns insanity, while Frank and Sarah poses as the facility staff, (having tied up and gagged the real staff with duct tape). Frank and Victoria meet Bailey, who is hyperactive and cannot rationally respond to their questions thanks to mind-fogging drugs the asylum had been giving him, so they take him to one of Marvin’s safehouses. After the drugs begin to wear off, Bailey remembers the bomb is still in Moscow.They travel to Moscow, and Bailey concludes he hid the bomb in the Kremlin. They break into the Kremlin, and Bailey locates the suitcase-sized bomb, which is powered by red mercury, which has no radioactive signature and causes no fallout. As they are about to leave, Katja stops them. Frank persuades her to switch to their side. After they escape and are celebrating, Victoria, who has escaped MI6 imprisonment for failing to kill him, calls Frank from London and tells him that Bailey was locked up because he had wanted to detonate the bomb, not sell it. Bailey quickly holds Frank at gunpoint and confirms Victoria’s message, revealing that he made a deal with Horton and the Americans to give them the red mercury. He shoots Katja, making it look as if Frank killed her, and leaves with the bomb case. Horton reneges on his deal with Bailey, intending to interrogate him until all his secrets have been tortured out of him, but Bailey escapes during air transit using a nerve gas he created, administering the antidote to both himself and Horton. Bailey then moves to the Iranian embassy in London. Before Frank can follow him, Han attacks. Reaching a standoff, Frank urges Han to join sides with him and stop the bomb. Han finally relents, and the five enact a plan to recapture Bailey and the bomb.Sarah first seduces the Iranian ambassador, then takes him hostage. Marvin poses as a person seeking to defect to Iran, causes a diversion with the embassy plumbing, and the disguised team comes to “fix” it. They discover in the ambassador’s safe plans disclosing the location of the bomb, but find that Bailey has already triggered the bomb’s countdown timer and killed Horton (after disclosing he also remembered how his family had been killed by people like Horton). When they are discovered by embassy guards, Bailey seizes Sarah and flees to the airport to escape the imminent explosion.Frank, Marvin, Victoria, and Han, taking the active bomb case with them, give chase, but Marvin, in his attempts to disarm the bomb by cutting wires, causes the timer to speed up and count down thrice as fast. Frank, holding the bomb case, boards the plane and confronts Bailey who releases Sarah and forcefully insists he take the bomb off the plane with her. They rejoin Marvin, Victoria, and Han and wait for death as Han’s plane takes off. As it disappears high in the sky it explodes in an immense fireball. Frank reveals that he had covertly placed the bomb from the case into a compartment near the plane’s exit and confronted Bailey with only a closed empty case. Han angrily tells Frank that Frank owes him “$30 million for the plane and $20 million for not killing you (Frank)”. The closing scene shows Sarah enjoying herself on a mission in Caracas with Frank and Marvin.RED 2 is massively entertaining, surprisingly witty and superb fun. A perfect case-study in pure entertainment and even better, if that’s possible, than the first movie. Simply brillian.

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REVIEW: RED

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
Morgan Freeman (Lucy)
John Malkovich (Burn After Reading)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Helen Mirren (Woman In Gold)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)
Rebecca Pidgeon (Allegiant)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Richard Dreyfuss (Piranha 3D)
Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck)
Ernest Borgnine (From Here To Eternity)
James Remar (Gotham)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)

Frank Moses, retired black-ops CIA agent, lives alone in Cleveland, Ohio. Lonely, Frank often chats on the phone with Sarah Ross, a worker at the General Services Administration’s Pension Office in Kansas City, Missouri. He creates opportunities to talk to her by tearing up his pension checks and calling her to say they had never arrived.One night, a “wetwork” (assassination) squad raids Frank’s house and attempts to kill him, but he easily wipes them out. Knowing they have tapped his phone, he believes Sarah will be targeted. In Kansas City, as Sarah refuses to go with him, he forcibly ties her up and gags her with duct tape. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper is assigned by his boss, Cynthia Wilkes, to hunt down and kill Frank.To find out who is targeting him, Frank tracks down his old associates for help. He goes to New Orleans, Louisiana and visits his C.I.A. mentor, Joe Matheson, who now lives in a nursing home. Joe tells Frank that the same hit squad murdered a reporter for The New York Times. Locked in a motel by Frank, Sarah escapes. Another agent, posing as a police officer, tries to kidnap her, but Frank returns in time. Cooper attacks them, but Frank tricks the police into arresting Cooper and escapes with Sarah. The two head to New York City and find clues left behind by the deceased reporter, which leads them to a hit list. They then find Marvin Boggs, another former black ops agent and a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Marvin tells them the people on the list, including Frank and Marvin, are connected to a secret 1981 mission in Guatemala. Another person on the list, Gabriel Singer, is still alive. The trio tracks down Singer, who tells them that the mission involved extracting a person from a village. Singer is then assassinated by a helicopter-borne machine-gunner, and the team escapes as Cooper closes in.Frank goes to ex-Russian secret agent Ivan Simanov, who helps him infiltrate CIA headquarters. In the CIA archive, the records keeper, who has much respect for Frank, simply hands him the Guatemala file. Frank confronts Cooper in his office and the two have a vicious fight. Though victorious, Frank is shot during his escape. Having escaped an attempt on his life, Joe arrives and helps extract the team. They hide out in the home of former wetwork agent Victoria (Helen Mirren), who treats Frank’s wound and joins the team. The file gives them clue to the next lead, Alexander Dunning, an illegal arms dealer. Frank, Marvin and Joe enter Dunning’s mansion, with Joe posing as a buyer, while Victoria and Sarah keep watch outside. They interrogate Dunning, who reveals the target for extraction was the now–Vice President Robert Stanton (Julian McMahon). Stanton ordered the hit on the people involved in the mission to hide the fact that he massacred village civilians.Cooper and the FBI surround Dunning’s mansion. Cooper tries to negotiate Frank’s surrender, and Frank tells him about the Vice President’s treachery. The terminally ill Joe pretends to be Frank, walks outside, and is killed by sniper from the Vice President’s personal hit squad. The confusion, as well as Victoria’s cover fire, buys the team enough time to leave the mansion, but Sarah is captured. They escape with the help of Ivan, who is Victoria’s old flame. Frank calls Cooper from his family’s phone and warns him against harming Sarah.The team, along with Ivan, kidnaps Stanton. Frank calls Cooper, offering to trade Stanton for Sarah. At the meeting point, Dunning arrives. After a short dialogue, Dunning injures Stanton, revealing himself and Cynthia Wilkes to be masterminds behind the assassinations. Disgusted with Wilkes’ corruption, Cooper pretends to arrest Frank, but shoots Wilkes. Marvin and Victoria kill Dunning’s bodyguards, and Frank kills Dunning by crushing his windpipe. Cooper lets Frank’s team go. As they leave the scene, Frank and Sarah are eager to start a new life together. Ivan reminds Frank of his favor. A few months later, Frank and Marvin are in Moldova with a stolen nuclear device. They flee from Moldovan Army troops with Marvin wearing a dress and in a wooden wheelbarrow being pushed by Frank.Red was entertaining. It’s funny without trying to get overly silly. Action scenes where good. Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, and Morgan Freeman. But it’s John Malkovich who steals the show, with his funny one liners. And also a great co starring role by veteran actor Ernest Borgnine. A great comic book/action movie.

REVIEW: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Sam Shepard (BLack Hawk Down)
Jeremy Renner (The Avengers)
Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
Paul Schneider (Elizabethtown)
Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Zooey Deschanel (Tin Man)
Alison Elliott (Birth)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Parks (Argo)

In 1881, young, starstruck Robert “Bob” Ford (Casey Affleck) seeks out Jesse James (Brad Pitt) when the James gang is planning a train robbery in Blue Cut, Missouri, making unsuccessful attempts to join the gang with the help of his older brother Charley (Sam Rockwell), already a member. The train turns out to be carrying only a fraction of the money originally thought, and Frank James (Sam Shepard) tells Charley Ford that this robbery would be the last the James brothers would commit. Jesse returns home to Kansas City, bringing the Fords, Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider) and his cousin, Wood Hite (Jeremy Renner). Jesse sends Charley, Wood and Dick away, but insists that Bob stay. He wanted the younger man just for his help in moving furniture to a new home in St. Joseph, Missouri. Bob becomes more admiring of James before being sent back to his sister’s farmhouse, where he rejoins his brother Charley, Hite, and Liddil.Liddil reveals to Bob that he is in collusion with another member of the James gang, Jim Cummins, to capture Jesse for a substantial bounty. Meanwhile, Jesse visits another gang member, Ed Miller (Garret Dillahunt), who gives away information on Cummins’ plot. Jesse kills Miller, then departs with Liddil to hunt down Cummins. Unable to locate him, Jesse viciously beats Albert Ford (Jesse Frechette), a young cousin of Bob and Charley. Liddil returns to the Boltons’ farmhouse, and argues with Hite, which ends with Bob Ford killing Hite. They dump his body in the woods to conceal the murder from Jesse.Jesse and Charley Ford travel to St. Joseph where Jesse learns of Hite’s disappearance, which Charley denies knowing anything about. Meanwhile, Bob goes to Kansas City Police Commissioner Henry Craig (Michael Parks), saying he knows Jesse James’ whereabouts. To prove his allegiance with the James gang, Bob urges Craig to arrest Dick Liddil. Following Liddil’s arrest and confession to participation in numerous gang robberies, Bob brokers a deal with the Governor of Missouri, Thomas T. Crittenden (James Carville). He is given ten days to capture or kill Jesse James, and promised a substantial bounty and full pardon for murder.Charley persuades Jesse to take Bob Ford into the gang; the brothers return to St. Joseph. Introduced as cousins to the Howards (the James’ pseudonym), they stay with the family, including Zee James (Mary-Louise Parker) and their two children. Jesse wants to revive his gang by robberies with the Fords, beginning with the Platte City bank. On the morning of April 3, 1882, Jesse and the Ford brothers prepare to depart for the robbery. Jesse reads in the newspaper about the arrest and confessions of Liddil. While the three men are in the living room, Jesse removes his gun belt and climbs a chair to clean a dusty picture. Bob shoots Jesse in the back of the head and flees with Charley. They send a telegram to the governor to announce Jesse’s death, for which they were to receive $10,000. However, they never receive more than $500 each.After the murder, the Fords become celebrities, touring with a theatre show in Manhattan in which they re-enact the assassination, but people soon dislike that Bob shot Jesse, unarmed, in the back. Guilt-stricken, Charley writes numerous letters to Zee James asking for her forgiveness, but does not send them. Suffering from terminal tuberculosis, he commits suicide in May 1884. Bob works around the West. On June 8, 1892, Bob is murdered by Edward O’Kelley (Michael Copeman), at his saloon in Creede, Colorado. O’Kelley is sentenced to life in prison, but Colorado Governor James Bradley Orman pardons him after ten years in 1902.Get ready for the assassination everyone knows is coming but no one can prepare for. Never has been a film that tells you the entire story in the title and can still surprise the viewer with beautiful cinematic moments.

REVIEW: THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES

 

CAST

Freddie Highmore (Bates Motels)
Sarah Bolger (The Moth Diaries)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Nick Nolte (Hulk)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Andrew McCarthy (Year of The Gun)
Joan Plowright (Equus)
David Strathairn (Alphas)
Seth Rogen (Green Hornet)
Martin Short (Mars Attacks)

Recently divorced Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker) moves into the Spiderwick Estate in the woods with her children when it is given to her by her elderly aunt Lucinda (Joan Plowright), though identical twins Jared and Simon (Freddie Highmore) and their older sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger) do not want to move from New York. When Jared uncovers a dumbwaiter system behind a wall, he finds a monogrammed key and discovers the study of the late owner of the estate, Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn). Jared then uses the key to open a chest. In it, he finds Spiderwick’s field guide to fairies; although an attached note warns him not to read it, he does so anyway. When Jared explained about his discovery on the existence of magical creatures, Helen and Mallory don’t believe him.Soon after, Jared meets a brownie named Thimbletack (Martin Short), who explains that magical creatures are normally invisible, but can reveal themselves at will. He tells Jared about a protective circle that Arthur Spiderwick placed around the house and gives him a stone with a hole through which he can see fairies.However, a shapeshifting ogre named Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) wants the field guide for himself so he can rule over all fairy-kind. He sends his goblins, led by Redcap the Pompous Goblin General, to obtain it and they kidnap Simon, mistaking him for Jared. Meanwhile, Jared meets Hogsqueal (Seth Rogen), a hobgoblin and bitter enemy of Mulgarath because Mulgarath killed his entire family. Hogsqueal gives Jared the ability to see fairies without the aid of the stone by spitting in his eyes. Mulgarath lets Simon go and berates Redcap for failing his master. Jared finds Simon and both fight over the book, which is spotted by the goblins. Together, the twins flee to the house, though Simon is injured when one bites his leg. Mallory is then attacked by the goblins, but manages to kill several using her fencing skills, making her finally realize that Jared is right. Inside, Thimbletack informs them that Mulgarath will kill all humans and fairies who oppose him if he gets the book.They resolve to destroy the book by cremating it in a fire, but the flames do not harm it due to a protective spell placed upon it. With no other options, the children decide to visit their great-aunt Lucinda, now in a psychiatric hospital, for advice. While Simon distracts the goblins, Mallory and Jared manage to reach a tunnel under the estate. They are pursued by a mole troll and only narrowly escape it when it is struck by an oncoming vehicle. Lucinda tells them that they need to find Arthur Spiderwick and have him destroy the book. However, Arthur is being held captive by Sylphs, a type of fairie. Suddenly, Mulgarath’s goblins attack them and steal several pages from the book before they are driven off. In the woods, Mulgarath violently berates Redcap for not bringing all of the book, as most of the information in the stolen pages were useless, but he is pleased by when he discovers that one of them has information that tells them how to break the protective circle by moonrise. Mulgarath and Redcap prepare to make the potion for the upcoming night. Meanwhile Helen, who drives Jared and Mallory home, doesn’t believe them on what’s going on and accuses them of using that as an excuse for wanting to go back to New York. Jared then gets in a heated argument with her on why his father left her because of her not listening and starts yelling. Once home, Jared tells Helen he hates her and doesn’t want to live with her. Later, Hogsqueal warns Jared, Simon, and Mallory about Mulgarath’s plan and gives Simon and Mallory the ability to see fairies. Jared then tries to call his father, but Mallory tells him he has moved in with another woman and will not return to them as he promised, making Jared regret his angry words he told Helen.Jared, Simon, and Mallory use the book to summon Arthur Spiderwick’s pet, a griffin, which takes them to the realm of the Sylphs. There they meet Arthur, who has not aged but is also unaware of the time he has spent there. The children ask him to destroy the book only to find that Thimbletack had switched the pages. He also informs them that the Sylphs won’t allow them to leave as they’ll be held captive like he is, but helps them escape by distracting them. Once home, they try to convince Helen of the imminent threat of the goblins and the existence of magical creatures. At first, Helen refuses to listen until Thimbletack appears and they show her the goblins outside, finally shattering her disbelief and making her agree to help stop the attack. At this time, the goblins have finished spreading the potion, which successfully breaks the circle when the moon rises. Jared, Simon, Mallory, and Helen arm themselves with steel knives and home-made tomato sauce/salt bombs prepared by Simon earlier. The family successfully fend off the attacking goblins, though the house suffers considerable damage in the process. When they are forced into the kitchen by Mulgarath’s arrival, they place all of their bombs into the oven, detonating them and killing all of the goblins, including Redcap.Richard (Andrew McCarthy) enters the house and tells Jared that he came to apologize. Jared, realizing that it is not his father, stabs him in the stomach, revealing him to be Mulgarath in disguise. Jared escapes with the book through the dumbwaiter while Mulgarath gives pursuit in snake form and injures Thimbletack. On the roof, Jared throws the book into the air; Mulgarath transforms into a raven and catches it, but he is snatched and eaten by Hogsqueal, avenging his family and the scattered pages fall on the ground. Jared then climbs down the roof and he and Helen reconcile for their argument earlier and for the latter to apologize for not believing him. Hogsqueal and the Graces pick up the scattered pages of the Field Guide.The Graces bring Lucinda back to the house, showing her the repairs being made to the house in the aftermath of the goblin attack and reintroducing her to Thimbletack, who is alive. Suddenly, the Sylphs appear, bringing Arthur, as he was allowed to visit his home since the book was now safe. He cannot remain outside of the fairie realm, or he will turn to dust. Lucinda asks to be taken with him instead; the Sylphs transform her back into her six-year-old self and spirit the two away as the Graces watch and then resume their normal lives with Thimbletack, Hogsqueal, and the Griffin.A very good adaptation of the popular series of books by Tony DiTerllizi and Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles is one of the few family films in recent years to seamlessly integrate magical elements with a potent drama that will strike a chord with many kids and adults.

REVIEW: ROMANCE & CIGARETTES

CAST

Kate Winslet (Divergent)
James Gandolfini (8mm)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Steve Buscemi (Fargo)
Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man)
Mandy Moore (A Walk To Remember)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Elaine Stritch (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Eddie Izzard (Mystery Men)
Amy Sedaris (Elf)

This film is fresh and original and, when at its best, extremely and surprisingly funny.  Gandolfini plays Nick Murder, a man who loves his wife Kitty (Sarandon), but can’t seem to lay off the women on the side – the one He’s now with, Tula (Winslet) – is a fiery redhead. Right at the start there’s an argument and a near fight, and the rest of the film becomes a rumination and celebration of love and lust and other crazy things involved with the human heart, leading up to redemption.

There’s a certain quality to Romance and Cigarettes that marks it as a pop-marked must-see, a picture with terrific songs. There’s an exuberance that Tuturro reaches for that he achieves like few who’ve made musicals in the past several years; his actors, however much they do or don’t seem to be singing with the songs playing on during the numbers, are into the groove, the abstract/surreal quality that at times makes it like a whacked out extended dream sequence on the Sopranos.


Kate Winslet is astoundingly good here in a part that requires her to be tart-tongued but not a floozy, sophisticated in a manner of speaking even if the ‘girl on the side’. She gives it her all.A brilliant film that takes you unawares with it’s originality and energy. Terrific soundtrack and wonderful, hysterically funny, dance sequences.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SAVED!

CAST
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Mandy Moore (License To Wed)
Macaulay Culkin (Party Monsters(
Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (Hostel – Part II)
Eva Amurri Martino (New Girl)
Chad Faust (Heroes)
Elizabeth Thai (Andromeda)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Kett Turton (Wrath of The Titans)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Aaron Douglas (The Mentor)
Teenager Mary Cummings (Jena Malone), who has “been born again her whole life,” is about to enter her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School near Baltimore. She and her two best friends, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) and Veronica (Elizabeth Thai), have formed a girl group called the Christian Jewels. Mary’s “perfect Christian boyfriend” Dean Withers (Chad Faust) tells her, as they’re swimming underwater, that he thinks he’s gay. In her shock, Mary hits her head in the pool and has a vision in which Jesus tells her that she must do everything she can to help Dean. Hoping for a sign, Mary goes to a shooting range with Hilary Faye, who has a “spiritual solution for everything” and tells Mary (not knowing about the situation with Dean) that if all else fails, Jesus could still restore their “spiritual and emotional virginity.” Believing that Jesus will restore her purity, Mary sacrifices her virginity to have sex with Dean in an attempt to restore his heterosexuality.
Despite Mary’s efforts, when she comes by Dean’s house on the morning of the first day of school, Dean’s parents tell her that they found gay pornography under his bed and that they’re sending him to Mercy House, a Christian treatment center. Mary tells her friends, as well as Hilary’s brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who uses a wheelchair, about Dean’s homosexuality, and makes them promise to keep it a secret. When they arrive at school, they see Cassandra Edelstein (Eva Amurri), the school’s only Jewish student and a rebel who despises Hilary. In homeroom, Mary meets new student Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the son of the school’s principal, Pastor Skip Wheeler (Martin Donovan), a skateboarder who has been doing missionary work (through skateboarding) in South America. Mary tries to put up a good front at the assembly, in which Cassandra fakes speaking in tongues in order to get under the skins of the other students.
Mary soon realizes that she is pregnant from her encounter with Dean. When she goes to Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy, she is seen by Roland and Cassandra. Roland reveals that he isn’t really a Christian, unlike his fanatically religious sister. Cassandra reveals she’s only at American Eagle after being thrown out of her old school and decided she could “handle the freaks” at American Eagle over being homeschooled by her parents. Roland and Cassandra bond over their shared skepticism. Mary finds out that she’s not due to give birth until after her high school graduation and decides to hide her condition from her friends and family until then. However, she feels forsaken by Jesus and loses her faith, causing her to be ostracized by Hilary and replaced in the Christian Jewels with a previously unpopular girl, Tia (Heather Matarazzo), who’s been struggling to get into the Christian Jewels for years. Later, after Pastor Skip gets word about Mary, he tells the Jewels to help Mary regain her faith, but they seem to misunderstand him and stop Mary in the street and try to exorcise her of demons instead.
By Christmas, Mary is still hiding her pregnancy. Cassandra mocks her about it when they are alone in the bathroom, but when she realizes Mary’s anguish, Cassandra changes her tone and offers her support. They cut school with Roland, and the three of them become good friends. When they run into Patrick and Hilary at the mall, Cassandra distracts Hilary (pretending she wants to be converted) while Patrick and Mary sneak away and Patrick confesses his feelings for Mary. Pastor Skip warns his son when they’re at home together against dating Mary, even as Pastor Skip (still married to his wife, although they live separate lives) has been secretly dating Mary’s mother, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker).
A few months later, after multiple fights at school between Hilary Faye and Cassandra, Pastor Skip puts Roland, Cassandra and Mary on the school prom committee (chaired by Hilary Faye) to punish them. While working together, Patrick asks Mary to go with him to the prom, which Mary accepts, but as friends. Later that day, Roland and Cassandra get their hands on a picture of a younger, much heavier, and much more awkward Hilary Faye and load it onto the desktop of every computer in the school. The next day, someone vandalizes the school with graffiti. Mary and Cassandra are initially the prime suspects, and to their shock the spray cans are found in their lockers. While searching the lockers with the Jewels looking on, Mary’s homeroom teacher finds a sonogram of Mary’s baby. She tries to hide it, but it drops to the ground in front of Pastor Skip’s feet. Cassandra is expelled from school, while Mary is banned from the prom.
Pastor Skip tells Lillian that he will break off their relationship if she doesn’t send Mary to Mercy House. Lillian decides that she’s going to send Mary away, saying that it’s the best thing for Mary and the baby, but secretly because she doesn’t want Skip to break up with her. Despite being banned, Cassandra and Roland scheme to go to prom and to bring Mary with them, providing her with a dress and inviting Patrick to meet them. Roland also finds that Hilary Faye charged several cans of spray paint to her credit card just hours before the attack—indicating that she was the one who spray-painted the school.
Hilary Faye, Tia and Veronica head to the prom. On their way in, Tia finds a credit-card receipt for the spray paint—signed by Hilary Faye, revealing that Hilary did, in fact, spray-paint the school. When Mary, Patrick, Cassandra and Roland arrive, Hilary attempts to have Mary and Cassandra thrown out, but Pastor Skip decides to let them stay. The four then accuse Hilary Faye of committing the vandalism herself and framing Mary and Cassandra for it as revenge for humiliating her. Hilary Faye attempts to swear before God that she is innocent, but Tia, fed up with Hilary Faye’s lies and hypocrisy, reveals the signed receipt to everyone, exposing Hilary as the true vandal. Veronica turns on Hilary as well, calling her a fake.
As the now-exposed Hilary Faye flees with the others in pursuit, Dean suddenly arrives with other teenagers from Mercy House. Dean is surprised, but not upset, by Mary’s pregnancy; he meets Patrick warmly, and Mary is similarly accepting towards Dean’s roommate/boyfriend Mitch. Pastor Skip tries to send the new arrivals back to Mercy House, but they refuse, and Mary and her friends support them. Suddenly, Hilary crashes her van into the school’s huge effigy of Jesus. Realizing what she has done, she breaks down in tears of regret. Cassandra shows some sympathy towards Hilary, feeling sorry for her. As paramedics arrive to the accident scene, Mary abruptly goes into labor and is taken to the hospital.
In her hospital room, Mary’s and Dean’s friends and family crowd around the baby girl, while Pastor Skip waits outside debating whether to come in. In a voice-over, Mary tells the audience how she has returned to believing in a God who loves and helps the ones that love and help others in need.
It’s a brilliantly funny but also has underlying moral issues about Christianity and acceptance and deals with many different types of problems facing adolescents, from disability to underage pregnancy

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.