REVIEW: ALLIED

CAST

Brad Pitt (Fight Club)
Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
August Diehl (Salt)
Charlotte Hope (A United Kingdom)
Matthew Goode (Watchmen)

In 1942 during World War II, Royal Canadian Air Force intelligence officer Max Vatan travels to Casablanca in Morocco to assassinate the German ambassador. He is partnered with a French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beauséjour, who had escaped from France after her resistance group was compromised and killed.
The two pose as a married couple and grow close, despite agreeing that in their line of work feelings can get people killed. Marianne, who is trusted by the Germans, secures Max an invitation to the party where they plan to conduct the assassination. On the day itself, they make love inside a car in the middle of a desert sandstorm, knowing that they might not survive. However, the mission goes well and they both escape. Max asks Marianne to come with him to London and be his wife. The two get married, settle down in Hampstead, and have a baby girl named Anna.
A year later, Max learns from the Special Operations Executive that Marianne is suspected of being a German spy, having adopted her identity after the real Marianne was killed in France. In order to test their suspicions, SOE run a ‘blue dye’ operation: Max is ordered to write down a piece of false intelligence at home, where Marianne can find it. If the information is picked up from intercepted German transmissions, Max must personally execute her, or be hanged for treason. Max is told otherwise to act normally.
Defying orders, Max visits a former colleague named Guy Sangster who knew Marianne but, blind from a wartime injury, cannot confirm her identity. He reveals that the resistance fighter Paul Delamare worked with Marianne in France and would be able to identify her. Max seeks out a young pilot named Adam Hunter, gives him a picture of his wife, and instructs him to ask Delamare whether she really is Marianne. However, the following night, Max’s commanding officer Frank Heslop informs him that Hunter was killed while waiting on the ground for the answer. He also hears that the whole operation might be a test, before he is given a big job in the run up to D-Day.
The following night Max takes the place of a Lysander pilot and flies to France to meet with Delamare, who, it transpires, is being held at the local police station. Max and the resistance break into the jail to confront Delamare. He is drunk, but remembers that Marianne was a beautiful pianist. Back in England, Max takes Marianne to a local pub and demands she play the piano. Marianne cannot play, and admits she is a spy. She claims her feelings for Max are genuine and that she and her child were being threatened by German spies in London, including the woman who lives around the corner and often looks after Anna.
Max, unwilling to kill his wife, tells her they need to leave before the SOE catches them. He kills Marianne’s handlers and tries to flee the country via airplane, but Heslop intercepts them before they can escape. Marianne tells Max that she loves him, asks him to take care of Anna, then shoots herself. Heslop orders the soldiers present to report that Max executed Marianne as per his orders, so that Max himself will not be punished. After the war, Max moves to the ranch in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, that was always his ambition, and raises Anna. The film ends with Marianne reading the letter that she had earlier written to her daughter, anticipating that one day her real identity would be uncovered.If you are a fan of classic movies, watch it. Is it perfect? No, it certainly has weak points and flaws. But overall I was thoroughly entertained by it. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I will definitely be watching again.

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REVIEW: SELF/LESS

CAST

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Natalie Martinez (End of Watch)
Matthew Goode (Watchmen)
Ben Kingsley (Robot Overlords)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher)
Melora Hardin (17 Again)
Sam Page (The Brotherhood)

Business tycoon and billionaire Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) is master of his own universe, until he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now on his deathbed, he finds a business card directing him to a man named Professor Albright (Matthew Goode), who informs him about a radical medical procedure called “shedding,” in which one’s consciousness is transferred to an artificially grown healthy body. Damian decides to undergo the procedure, and follows Albright’s instructions to stage his own public death. Albright transfers him into a new body (Ryan Reynolds) and prescribes medication to alleviate the vivid hallucinations which he claims are side effects of the procedure.After a period of adaptation exercises, Damian starts a new life in New Orleans under the assumed name of Edward Kidner and quickly befriends his neighbor Anton (Derek Luke). However, when he forgets to take his medicine, he subsequently suffers hallucinations of a woman and child. When Damian asks Albright about the hallucinations, Albright dismisses his concerns, but accidentally reveals that he knows details of the hallucinations that Damian did not tell him. Albright arranges for Damian to move to Hawaii for a change of scenery, but Damian, convinced the hallucinations are some kind of memory, identifies a landmark he saw in his vision and heads to St. Louis instead.At a farmhouse outside of St. Louis, he finds the woman, Madeline (Natalie Martinez), who reacts to him as her apparently deceased husband, Mark. Damian learns, much to his horror, that the body he is inhabiting belonged to another man who sold himself to Albright in order to gain the money he needed to pay for their daughter Anna’s life-saving medical treatment. Shortly after arriving at the house Damian and Madeline are attacked by Albright’s men, led by Anton, who reveals that he is one of Albright’s employees. In a bid to escape, Damian severely wounds Anton and kills his accomplices. Damian and Madeline leave the farm and collect Anna from school, where she, in her childhood innocence, warmly greets her father, knowing he would return. They flee.At a motel stop overnight, discovering he has no more of the medicine he needs, Damian uses a laptop computer to research “shedding” and discovers an ill, elderly Dr. Francis Jensen (Thomas Francis Murphy), now deceased, was the pioneer researcher in the field of transhumanism. In a video interview of Jensen, Damian notices a tic he shares with Albright. When he then sees a young Albright sitting next to Jensen in the same video, Damian concludes Albright was Jensen’s assistant, and Jensen has shed himself into Albright’s body. Damian finds Dr. Jensen’s wife, Phyllis, in a nursing home in New Orleans and tries to get her to reveal where her husband’s research is, but she does not know due to suffering from Alzheimer’s. Damian then lures Albright to the facility and confronts him. Jensen/Albright explains his motivations, but Damian rejects them. Albright reveals that the pills will eventually eliminate the hallucinations and the “Mark” personality of the body Damian is inhabiting, but if he quits taking the pills, “Mark” will reassert control over his body and Damian will ‘fade into oblivion.’As they leave to go to the medical lab, more assassins show up. Albright escapes, while Damian struggles with another man whom he recognizes as Anton in a new body, due to the necklace that he is wearing. Damian is almost overpowered, but Madeline saves him when she intervenes and wounds Anton. Anton then reveals to Damian that he has “shed” multiple times, and the process is easier the more often it is done. While Damian confiscates Anton’s pills, Anton taunts Madeline to ask her ‘husband’ why he can’t answer personal questions about their life. Damian, Madeline, and Anna then escape again.After they are safely away, Madeline confronts Damian over his behavior and lack of knowledge of their personal details, and demands he reveal what is going on. He reveals to her all that has happened. He takes her and Anna to his old friend Martin (Victor Garber) and convinces him to arrange for Madeline and Anna to flee to the Caribbean. However, he and Madeline discover Anna playing with Martin’s young son Tony (Dylan Lowe), who died two years ago; Martin admits that he used “shedding” to save his son, and that Albright’s men are waiting for them. Damian then reveals the dark secret behind shedding to Martin, who believed that the bodies were artificially grown in a lab and is shocked to find out that his son’s new body is really someone else’s son. Damian flees to distract Albright’s men while Martin, Madeline, and Anna try to escape through a forest. Damian manages to crash Anton’s car with him in it and defeat his pursuers, but Madeline and Anna are recaptured.Damian stops taking his medicine in order to experience more of Mark’s memories, hoping they will lead him to Albright. This succeeds, and Damian pursues Albright to a lab built in an abandoned warehouse. There, Albright captures him and attempts to “shed” Anton into Mark’s body, but Damian, remembering that metal interferes with the “shedding” process, hides a bullet casing in his mouth, therefore sabotaging the procedure and killing Anton in the process. He rescues Madeline and Anna, who are being held at the lab as possible “shedding” receptacles, and kills Albright with a flamethrower. Damian arranges for Madeline and Anna to flee the country as planned, meets his own estranged daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery), and delivers her a letter reconciling with her. He then heads to the Caribbean and stops taking his medicine, ‘dying’ peacefully. The real Mark reawakens in his own body and discovers a video message from Damian’s personality recorded before his death thanking him for the time he gave him. Mark then reunites with his family at last.I really did enjoy this movie, the concept was a good one, it was a clever plot. There were enough surprises and plenty of intrigue to keep you wondering.

REVIEW: STOKER

CAST

Mia Wasikowska (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Matthew Goode (Watchmen)
Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Jackie Weaver (The Voices)
Lucas Til (X-Men Apocalypse)

On her 18th birthday, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska)—a girl with a strong acuteness of the senses—has her life turned upside down after her loving father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) dies in a horrific car accident. India is then left with her unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). At Richard’s funeral, Evelyn and India are introduced to Richard’s charming and charismatic brother Charlie (Matthew Goode), who has spent his life traveling the world. He then announces that he is staying indefinitely to help support India and Evelyn, much to Evelyn’s delight and India’s chagrin.Shortly after Charlie moves in, India witnesses him argue with Mrs. McGarrick (Phyllis Somerville), the head caretaker of the house. Mrs. McGarrick then disappears. Charlie and Evelyn grow closer and intimate while India continues to rebuff Charlie’s attempts to befriend her. Later, India’s great aunt Gwendolyn (Jacki Weaver) arrives to visit the family, much to Evelyn and Charlie’s dismay. At dinner, Gwendolyn shows surprise at Charlie’s claims of traveling the world and tells Evelyn that she needs to talk to her about Charlie.Gwendolyn ends up changing hotels due to an unexplained fear and suspicion of Charlie. However, she loses her cell phone and tries to call the Stokers’ home from her hotel payphone. While she is making her call, Charlie tracks her down and corners her in the phone booth, seeming to be upset. He hands Gwendolyn her phone and then strangles her to death with his belt after explaining that he found her through the cab company. Meanwhile, India goes into the basement to eat ice cream and discovers Mrs. McGarrick’s body in the freezer. She realizes Charlie is a murderer.Later, India unleashes her inner aggression at school and stabs a bully, Chris Pitts (Lucas Till), in the hand with a pencil after he tries to land a surprise punch to her head. This draws the attention of another classmate, Whip Taylor (Alden Ehrenreich). India goes home and later witnesses Evelyn and Charlie growing intimate and wanders off to a local diner where she runs into Whip. She and Whip go into the woods where they proceed to make out until India aggressively bites Whip. Whip then attempts to rape India until Charlie intervenes, and breaks Whip’s neck with his belt. India then aids Charlie in burying the body in her garden. She then attempts to call Gwendolyn, but hears her phone ring deep in the garden, realizing Charlie killed her, too. India takes a shower and masturbates to the memory of the murder, climaxing as she remembers Charlie breaking Whip’s neck.While going through Richard’s office to gather things of his she wants to keep, India discovers that a key she received as a birthday present belongs to a locked drawer to Richard’s desk. Inside, she finds dozens of letters Charlie wrote to her over the years, which detail his travels and express his love for his niece, although they have never met. However, India discovers that the sending address on the back of the envelopes is from a mental institution. India then confronts Charlie, who explains the truth: Charlie murdered his and Richard’s younger brother Jonathan as a child because he was jealous that Richard paid more attention to him. Charlie was then put in a mental institution. When released on India’s 18th birthday, Richard gave Charlie a car, a generous amount of money, and an apartment in New York on the condition that he stay away from Richard’s family. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Charlie beat Richard to death with a rock and staged the car accident.At first, India is in shock and angered. However, she seemingly forgives Charlie and grows closer after he provides an alibi for her when Sheriff Howard (Ralph Brown) questions her about Whip’s disappearance. They grow close to intimate before Evelyn witnesses them. Later that evening, Evelyn coldly expresses her desire to watch India suffer before confronting Charlie, implying that she knows the truth about Richard’s death. Charlie seduces Evelyn and then attempts to strangle her before India appears and fatally shoots Charlie with a rifle. She then buries Charlie’s body in the backyard and proceeds to leave for New York in his car.She is shortly pulled over for speeding by Sheriff Howard, who then asks her why she’s in a hurry. India replies that she wanted to catch his attention, then plunges a pair of pruning shears into his neck. India pursues the wounded sheriff into a field to dispatch him with her rifle.A brilliant film about the power of the mind and its effect on those around you , the psyche is a powerful thing that is brilliantly displayed in this excellent film , all parts are well acted and the overall effect leaves you with a haunting afterglow that makes you want to watch it again.

 

REVIEW: WATCHMEN (DIRECTORS CUT)

 

CAST

Malin Ackerman (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)
Matthew Goode (Match Point)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rob Labelle (Jack Frost)
Garry Chalk (Dark angel)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)

Watchmen was easily the most hotly awaited picture of the first half of 2009, and I’ll readily admit that the dynamic yellow-and-red poster billboards around town generated a charge of anticipation that Savant hasn’t felt in years. That the film was not considered a runaway success doesn’t surprise me. A movie about superheroes that is neither consistently feel-good nor entertainingly funny is a hard sell. Other writers have noted that the Watchmen are relative unknowns in comparison to icons like Spiderman and Superman; there’s less of a built-in audience for them. Describing the Watchmen movie also suggests expressions like “intellectual puzzle” and “non-linear”. Large segments of the audience have little use for narrative complexities and historical irony.

What movie audiences do care about is action, and to compensate Watchmen ratchets up the graphic novel’s considerable violence. Bloody content limited to a single comic panel or two, looks like gore porn when turned into a film sequence.  Even with a few subplots deleted, Watchmen is so complicated that it bears comparison with David Lynch’s noble 1984 attempt to film Dune. Lynch got lost in wall-to-wall exposition and characters reduced to walk-ons. Watchmen avoids the same fate by closely following the original’s highly cinematic structure. Moore and Gibbons’ comic book panels made heavy use of devices familiar to moviegoers — parallel cutting, associative transitions.Watchmen is a multi-generational story of costumed superhero crime fighters. They got their start in the 1940s as “The Minutemen”, later formed another association called “The Watchmen” and then were outlawed in the early 1980s. Most have kept their anonymity in retirement. Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Ackerman), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) have no super-powers. The one Watchman who does is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), an “atomic man” who glows a soft blue color. A research scientist transformed into a near demigod by an experiment gone wrong, Dr. Manhattan wins the Vietnam War for Richard Nixon, allowing the President to run for a third term by popular demand. Most of Watchmen plays out as a science fiction alternate history tale, although the film drops a major Sci-Fi element from the final act.In 1985 an unknown assailant murders The Comedian. Defying the ban on costumed vigilantes, Rorschach warns the other Watchmen and puts pressure on the underworld to find out who is responsible. Dr. Manhattan breaks up with Laurie Jupiter (secretly the Silk Spectre) and abandons humanity to meditate on Mars. The Cold War goes into panic mode, as the U.S. and the Soviets are already at the brink of nuclear war, and Dr. Manhattan was America’s defense insurance policy. Laurie and Dan Dreiburg (secretly the Nite Owl) become an item. Frustrated by all the bad news, they ignore the ban and reassume their roles as crime fighters. Laurie and Dan spring Rorschach from prison and begin an investigation that leads to the activities of the millionaire technocrat Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias.That synopsis doesn’t begin to touch the intricacies of Watchmen or its pleasing assortment of superheroes, that collectively flesh out a pantheon of comic book traditions. The Nite Owl is a kinder Batman type, a quiet millionaire who has engineered a flying vehicle and other crime-fighting gadgets. He’s actually following in the footsteps of the original Nite Owl, a two-fisted hero from the 1940s. The Silk Spectre is a Wonder Woman- like beauty with identity issues. She was pushed into her role by her flamboyant mother, the Silk Spectre of the Minuteman years. The corrupt Comedian lost sight of his crimefighting ethics and became a murderer, war criminal, rapist and dirty ops agent for Dick Nixon. The highly intelligent Ozymandias is also a fabulously wealthy international businessman under the name Adrian Veidt; he’s put his crime-fighting past on the public record and even sells Ozymandias toy action figures. Veidt considers himself a modern Alexander the Great.The most interesting Watchman is Rorschach, a seedy misanthrope who wears a strange mask that forms mysterious symmetrical patterns identical to a psychologist’s inkblot test. Now considered an outlaw vigilante, Rorschach keeps a bitter Travis Bickle-like diary and refuses to compromise on his mission to slay criminals. Between them the Watchmen cover numerous approaches to the concept of “masked crusaders” trying to function in a complex world. Director Zack Snyder  epitomizes the modern director who prepares computerized pre-visualization sequences, directs the live action, and waits for his technician-artisans to deliver test composites to critique. Elements that the director once had to make “come together” before a real camera on a real set can now be added, subtracted or altered almost indefinitely; the director of an effects-heavy film now functions as a creative manager. Snyder openly admits that his goal is to faithfully replicate the visions of other artists, which has prompted some to question exactly what he contributes artistically to the show. To the extent that Snyder still casts and directs the actors and decides when and when not to follow the graphic novel, he is actually much more “involved” than were many old-school studio directors. Even the biggest Hollywood names sometimes worked from locked scripts and often had little contact with projects before or after the actual filming. Considering how little opportunity for personal expression the Watchmen assignment afford, Snyder’s done a fine job.In this case, closely following the original was Snyder’s only choice. CGI allows the presentation of almost any visual, and the leagues of Watchmen fans wouldn’t have tolerated detours from their story. Most of Snyder’s adjustments are good ones. The strange sidebar tangent involving a “Black Freighter” horror comic has wisely been spun off into a separate direct-to-video production. To get out from under a mountain of plot complications, Snyder drops Adrian Veidt’s elaborate hoax on humanity that involves murdering an army of technicians that mock up the corpse of a gigantic space alien.Watchmen was somewhat overpowering in the movie theater, precisely because it is so close to the original. Instead of being taken in a new direction, I felt like Snyder was holding the book in front of my eyes and turning the pages for me. But movies of this kind are no longer made to be seen only once, and on a second viewing it was easier to simply watch what was happening, admire the classy designs and marvel at the excellent casting.