REVIEW: SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS

CAST

Colin Farrell (Fright Night)
Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
Christopher Walken (True Romance)
Tom Waits (Bram Stoker’s Dracula)
Abbie Cornish (Robcop)
Olga Kurylenko (Momentum)
Željko Ivanek (Heroes)
Linda Bright Clay (Before The Border)
Harry Dean Stanton (Avengers Assemble)
Amanda Warren (Mother!)
James Hébert (Westworld)
Kevin Corrigan (The Departed)
Gabourey Sidibe (Grimsby)
Michael Pitt (Ghost In The Shell)
Michael Stuhlbarg (The Post)
Helena Mattsson (Guns, Girls and Gambling)

Christopher Walken and Bonny in Seven Psychopaths (2012)Marty is a struggling writer who dreams of finishing his screenplay, Seven Psychopaths. Marty’s best friend, Billy, makes a living by kidnapping dogs and collecting the owners’ rewards for their safe return. Billy’s partner-in-crime is Hans, a religious man with a cancer-stricken wife, Myra.Marty writes a story for another psychopath, the “Quaker”, who stalks his daughter’s killer for decades, driving the killer to suicide. Billy suggests Marty use the “Jack of Diamonds” killer, perpetrator of a recent double murder, as one of the psychopaths. Billy places an advertisement in the newspaper inviting psychopaths to call and share their stories for Marty to use in his script. A man named Zachariah Rigby approaches Marty and shares his story, with the condition that the movie include a message to his partner in crime.Woody Harrelson and Olga Kurylenko in Seven Psychopaths (2012)Billy and Hans steal a Shih Tzu named Bonny, unaware that it is the beloved pet of Charlie Costello, an unpredictable and violent gangster. Charlie’s thugs, led by Paulo, discover Hans’ connection to the kidnapping. They threaten to kill Marty and Hans, but the Jack of Diamonds killer arrives and kills the thugs. Charlie traces Myra to the cancer ward and kills her after she refuses to tell him anything. Billy goes to Costello’s house to meet his girlfriend, Angela, who is also Charlie’s girlfriend. After Billy reveals to her that he kidnapped Bonny, she calls Charlie to tell him. Billy, after finding out that Charlie killed Myra, shoots Angela in retaliation. Charlie arrives at Billy’s address and discovers many packs of playing cards with the jack of diamonds missing, and realizes Billy is the “Jack of Diamonds” killer. Marty, Billy, and Hans leave the city with Bonny. Hans reveals that he was the Quaker. Marty wrote his story after hearing it from a drunken Billy. The trio drive into the desert and set up camp. Billy suggests Seven Psychopaths end with a shootout between the psychopaths and Charlie’s forces.Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, and Colin Farrell in Seven Psychopaths (2012)Marty and Hans see a headline saying that Billy is wanted in connection with the Jack of Diamonds killings. Marty confronts Billy, who reveals that he assumed the Jack of Diamonds persona to give Marty inspiration. Marty tells Billy they must go home. Meanwhile, Hans has a vision of Myra in which she is in a “grey place,” leading Hans to question his belief in the afterlife. He ignores Marty’s reassurances that his vision was a peyote-induced hallucination. Billy sets the car on fire, stranding the trio, and calls Charlie, telling him their location. Billy claims he impersonated Myra, causing Hans to leave. Billy, with Bonny in tow, anxiously waits for Charlie to arrive, intending to have a climactic shootout. Charlie arrives alone, without a weapon apart from a flare gun. An enraged Billy shoots Charlie, feeling cheated out of a shootout. Marty drives away with Charlie, intending to take him to a hospital, while Billy realizes the flare gun’s purpose and fires it. Hans finds Charlie’s thugs awaiting the flare signal. The large group catches the attention of the police, who draw closer. Hans pretends to draw a weapon, causing Paulo to shoot him in front of the police. Before dying, Hans says “It isn’t grey at all”.Woody Harrelson in Seven Psychopaths (2012)The thugs head towards the signal, with police in pursuit, and encounter Marty and Charlie, who reveals that he only suffered a flesh wound. With backup, Charlie returns to Billy’s location. After a shootout, Charlie and Billy have a stand-off, respectively holding Marty and Bonny hostage. Charlie releases Marty and shoots Billy just as the police arrive. Charlie and Paulo are arrested, but Bonny stays at the dying Billy’s side. Marty visits the scene of Hans’s death, and finds a tape recorder with suggestions for Seven Psychopaths. Marty, having adopted Bonny, finishes the screenplay. Some time later, after the Seven Psychopaths movie is shown in theater, Marty receives a call from Zachariah, who intends to kill him for forgetting to leave a message as promised. On hearing Marty’s weary and resigned acceptance, Zachariah realizes that Marty’s experiences have left him a changed man, and decides to spare him.Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths (2012)If you see this movie you need to see it for the acting and a fun way to spend 110 minutes. If you are looking for a movie that makes some kind of a statement or makes you really think about your life, then don’t see this movie, you will be disappointed.

REVIEW: HUGO

CAST

Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Ben Kinglsey (Iron Man 3)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Jude Law (Spy)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Frances de la Tour (The Lady In The Van)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Michael Pitt (Murder By Numbers)

In 1931, 12-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in Paris with his father (Jude Law), a widowed, but kind clockmaker who also works at a museum. One day his father finds a broken automaton, a mechanical man designed to write with a pen, at the museum, and he and Hugo try to repair it, his father documenting the automaton in a notebook. When his father is killed by a fire at the museum, Hugo is forced to live with his resentful, alcoholic uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), and made to learn how to maintain the clocks at the railway station of Gare Montparnasse. When Claude goes missing for several days, Hugo continues to maintain the clocks, fearing that he would be sent away as an orphan by the vindictive Station Inspector Gustave (Sacha Baron Cohen) if Claude’s absence is discovered. Hugo attempts to repair the automaton with stolen parts, believing it contains a message from his father, but the machine still requires a heart-shaped key that his father could not find.Hugo is caught when stealing from the toy store owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), who looks through his father’s notebook and threatens to destroy it. Hugo encounters Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who offers to help get the notebook back. Hugo learns Georges has forbidden Isabelle from going to the cinema, and introduces the medium to her as his father had done for him. As their friendship grows, he shows her the automaton, and is surprised when Isabelle inadvertently reveals she wears the key as a necklace given to her by Georges. When started, the machine draws out a scene that Hugo recognizes from his father’s description of the film A Trip to the Moon. Isabelle identifies the signature, that of a “Georges Méliès”, as her godfather. She sneaks Hugo into her home, where they find a hidden cache of more imaginative drawings of Méliès, but are caught by Georges, who banishes Hugo from his home.Hugo and Isabelle go to the Film Academy Library and find a book about the history of cinema that praises Méliès’ contributions. They meet the book’s author, René Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg), a film expert who is surprised to hear that Méliès may still be alive, as he had disappeared after World War I along with nearly all copies of his films. Excited at the chance to meet him, René agrees to meet Isabelle and Hugo at Georges’ home to show his copy of A Trip to the Moon, hoping it will invigorate Georges. On the scheduled night, Georges’ wife Jeanne (Helen McCrory) tries to turn them away, but René compliments Jeanne as Jeanne d’Alcy, an actress in many of Méliès’ films, and she allows them to continue. As the film plays, Georges wakes up at the sight, and Jeanne finally convinces him to cherish his accomplishments rather than regret his lost dream. Georges recounts that as a stage magician, he had been fascinated by motion pictures and used the medium to create imaginative works through his Star Film Company, but was forced into bankruptcy following the War, closing his studio and selling his films to be turned into raw materials. He laments that even an automaton he made that he donated to a museum was lost. Hugo recognizes this is the same automaton he has, and races to the station to retrieve it. He is caught by Gustave, who has learned that Claude’s body was found some time ago, and threatens to take Hugo to the orphanage. Georges arrives and tells Gustave that he will now see to Hugo, adopting him as his son.Some time later, Georges is named a professor at the Film Academy, and is paid tribute through a showcase of his films recovered by René. Hugo joins in with his new family as they celebrate, while Isabelle starts to write down Hugo’s story.Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is one of the best cinematic experience, I’ve had in years.  The visual effects, cinematography, art direction, just technically superb. Finally a smart, awe-aspiring family film, which are really rare nowadays. A definite surprise coming from legendary director, Martin Scorcese, who’s known for movies with a lot of swears, violence, drugs and other adult-themed subjects.

REVIEW: BODY OF LIES

Starring

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Russell Crowe (The Mummy)
Mark Strong (Shazam)
Golshifteh Farahani (The Upside)
Oscar Isaac (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Ali Suliman (The Kingdom)
Alon Abutbul (Rambi III)
Vince Colosimo (The Great Gatsby)
Simon McBurney (The Conjuring 2)
Michael Gaston (W)
Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy)
Michael Stuhlbarg (The Post)

Russell Crowe in Body of Lies (2008)Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a CIA case officer in Iraq, tracking a terrorist called Al-Saleem (Alon Abutbul). He meets Nizar, a member of the terrorist organization who is prepared to offer information in return for asylum in North America. Despite the objections of his boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), Ferris agrees to shelter Nizar. Nizar is used as a pawn to draw out the rest of his cell; when Nizar is captured, Ferris is forced to shoot him to prevent his exposing the identities of Ferris and his associate, Bassam (Oscar Isaac). However, furious at Hoffman’s refusal to act on the information Nizar provided, Ferris and Bassam go to search the safe house in Balad, Iraq, Nizar had told them about. Ferris observes men burning records and attempts to bluff his way in but is exposed. In the ensuing shootout and chase, Ferris and Bassam’s vehicle is hit by an RPG. Ferris and some salvaged discs are rescued by helicopter, but Bassam is killed in the explosion.Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Meanwhile, unknown terrorists in the UK plan to follow up on bus bombings in Sheffield with more attacks in Manchester, but they blow themselves up when the police arrive at their house. Having recovered from his injuries, Ferris is assigned to Jordan to continue searching for Al-Saleem. There, Ferris meets with and negotiates a collaboration with Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), head of the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate. From the intelligence Ferris harvested from the Balad safe house, Hoffman locates an Al-Saleem safe house in Jordan and orders Ferris to watch it. Simultaneously, Hoffman organizes (unbeknownst to Ferris) a “side operation” via a local agency. Ferris’ CIA subordinate, Skip (Vince Colosimo), identifies the local agency asset as Ziyad Abishi.Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Strong in Body of Lies (2008)Abishi blows his cover with a terrorist from the safe house. The terrorist flees to inform his colleagues of their exposure, and Ferris chases and kills him in such a place and manner that implies the death is a random robbery. Salaam (via “back channels”) corroborates this interpretation of killing with those who remain at the safe house. Ferris lambastes Hoffman for running “side operations” which he feels are interfering with and undermining the operational integrity of the primary operation and tells Hoffman to stop. While going to the hospital to receive rabies shots for dog bites he suffered while eliminating the terrorist, Ferris meets a nurse named Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani) and begins developing romantic feelings for her. In Europe the bombers strike again at an Amsterdam flower market, killing 75 people and wounding hundreds more.Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Having recognized one of the men living in the safe house as former small-time criminal Mustaffa Karami (Kais Nashef), Salaam takes Karami into the desert and coerces him into working for Jordanian intelligence, threatening to set him up as a collaborator if he does not co-operate. Hoffman asks Salaam to use Karami, but he refuses, believing a greater return will come later. Unbeknownst to Ferris and Salaam, Hoffman tells Skip to follow Karami and kidnap him. Karami escapes and notifies the terrorists in the safe house that it is being watched, and they abandon it. Ferris’ partner is caught. Salaam accuses Ferris of having had knowledge of the move on Karami, blames Ferris’ duplicity with him for the destruction of the safe house, and exiles Ferris from Jordan.Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Strong in Body of Lies (2008)Ferris returns to Hoffman in Washington, and they devise a new plan to find Al-Saleem. Suspecting he is motivated more by pride than ideology, they stage a fake terrorist attack and set up Omar Sadiki (Ali Suliman), an innocent Jordanian architect, as its instigator, hoping Al-Saleem will come out of hiding and attempt to contact him. Al-Saleem sees TV news coverage of the attack and takes the bait. Salaam invites Ferris back to Jordan and shares his suspicions that Omar Sadiki is a terrorist, although Ferris feigns ignorance. Ferris later tries to save Sadiki from being kidnapped by Al-Saleem’s henchmen but fails and sees his partner nearly killed in the subsequent car crash. Under interrogation, Sadiki denies any knowledge of the attack, although he is later found beaten and killed.Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Ferris goes back to his apartment and discovers that Aisha has been kidnapped. He desperately asks Salaam for help, admitting he fabricated Omar Sadiki’s terrorist cell and the attack. Salaam refuses to help because of Ferris’ having lied to him earlier. Ferris offers himself in exchange to Aisha’s kidnappers and is brought to the middle of the desert, with Hoffman watching everything via a surveillance drone. Ferris is surrounded by a group of SUVs, which circle him to create an obscuring dust cloud before picking him up. The dust cloud blocks Hoffman’s view, so that he cannot determine which of the SUVs, now headed in different directions, is carrying Ferris. Ferris is taken across the border to Syria, where he is to be interrogated by Al-Saleem. When Ferris asks Al-Saleem about Aisha, he is told that someone has lied to him and that he has been double-crossed. Ferris tells Al-Saleem that there is an infiltrator (Karami) in his organization who works for Ferris, and that, by association, Al-Saleem works for Ferris. Al-Saleem does not believe Ferris, beats him, turns on a video camera, and orders his execution. Salaam and his agents arrive at the last moment, saving Ferris’ life. Al-Saleem is shown arrested in his own SUV by Marwan Se-Kia, Salaam’s security officer.Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Salaam visits Ferris in the hospital, and reveals he had faked Aisha’s abduction and orchestrated Ferris’ capture by Al-Saleem using Karami as a go-between. Having lost the will to fight in this particular “war”, Ferris goes off the grid and goes to see Aisha again.Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)All in a it’s certainly worth the time to see, but ultimately a good popcorn flick rather than a more substantive film.

REVIEW: DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

 

CAST

Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity)
Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes)
Benedict Wong (The Martian)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Benjamin Bratt (Traffic)
Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Tilda Swinton (Burn After Reading)
Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Stan Lee (Chuck)
Amy Landecker (Dan In Real Life)

In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and behead its librarian. From the ancient and mystical texts, they steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown time and taught all at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the ways of the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius escapes with the pages and some of his followers.In New York City, Stephen Strange, an acclaimed but arrogant neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange, firmly believing he can regain use of his hands, instead uses all his resources pursuing experimental surgeries in vain. After learning of Jonathan Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously was able to walk again, Strange seeks him out, and is directed to Kamar-Taj. There, Strange is taken in by another sorcerer under the Ancient One, Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. Amazed, Strange begs her to teach him, and she eventually agrees despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.Strange begins his tutelage under the Ancient One and Mordo, and learns from the ancient books in the library, now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The task of the sorcerers is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn chose to forgo this responsibility in favor of channelling mystical energy into walking again. Strange advances quickly over several months, even secretly reading from the text Kaecilius stole from and learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, comparing his arrogant yearning for power to that of Kaecilius, who believes, after the deaths of his loved ones, that everyone should have eternal life.Kaecilius and his followers use the stolen pages to begin summoning the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time does not exist and all can live forever. This destroys the London Sanctum, and sends Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum. The zealots then attack there, where Strange holds them off with the mystical Cloak of Levitation until Mordo and the Ancient One arrive. Strange and Mordo become disillusioned with the Ancient One after Kaecilius reveals that her long life has come from her own use of Dormammu’s power. Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One, and escapes to Hong Kong. The Ancient One tells Strange that he, too, will have to break the rules, to balance Mordo’s steadfast nature. She then dies, despite the best efforts of Strange and a bewildered Palmer. Strange and Mordo arrive in Hong Kong to find Wong dead and the Sanctum destroyed, with the Dark Dimension already engulfing Earth. Strange uses the Eye to turn back time and save Wong, before creating an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension that traps himself and Dormammu in the same moment forever. After killing Strange many times to no avail, Dormammu reluctantly agrees to leave Earth if Strange undoes the time loop, taking Kaecilius and the zealots with him.Disgusted by Strange and the Ancient One’s disregard for the consequences of defying nature, Mordo departs. Strange returns the Eye, which Wong calls an Infinity Stone, to Kamar-Taj, and then takes up residence in the New York Sanctum to continue his studies. In a mid-credits scene, Strange decides to help Thor, who has brought his brother Loki to Earth to search for their father Odin. In a post-credits scene, Mordo confronts Pangborn and takes the energy he uses to walk, stating that Earth has “too many sorcerers”.The Marvel Cinematic Universe shines again with manipulative sorcery and cognitive storytelling as this may be the strangest addition but still delivers some kick-ass entertainment.

 

REVIEW: ARRIVAL

CAST

Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Blue Jasmine)
Tzi Ma (Robocop 2)
Mark O’Brien (Anon)

While she is lecturing at a university, twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear across the Earth. U.S. Army Colonel Weber asks Louise to join physicist Ian Donnelly to decipher the aliens’ language and find out why they have arrived. The team is brought to a military camp in Montana near one of the spacecraft, and makes contact with two seven-limbed aliens on board. They call the extraterrestrials “heptapods”, and Ian nicknames them Abbott and Costello. Louise discovers that they have a written language of complicated circular symbols, and she begins to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic vocabulary. As she becomes more proficient, she starts to see and dream vivid images of herself with her daughter and of their relationship with the father.
When Louise asks what the aliens want, they answer: “offer weapon”. A similar translation of “use weapon” is made by one of the other sites. Fear of a potential threat from the aliens leads other nations to close down communication on the project, and some prepare for an attack. However, Louise argues that the symbol interpreted as “weapon” might have an alternative translation, such as “tool” or “technology”.Rogue U.S. soldiers plant explosives in the spacecraft. Unaware, Louise and Ian re-enter. The aliens give them a much larger and more complex message. Abbott ejects Ian and Louise from the craft as the explosion occurs, which leaves them unconscious. When Louise and Ian re-awaken, the military is preparing to evacuate, and the spacecraft moves higher above the ground. Ian works out that the symbols relate to the concept of time, and that the message is one-twelfth of the whole “gift”. They conclude that the aliens must want nations to cooperate.Meanwhile, China notifies the world that its military is planning to attack the spacecraft off its coast. Louise rushes back to the spacecraft in Montana, which sends down a shuttle to take her inside. She meets Costello, who communicates that Abbott is dying or dead. Louise asks about her visions of a daughter, and Costello explains that she is seeing the future (revealing that her “visions” were not flashbacks but flashforwards). Costello also communicates that they have come to help humanity by sharing their language, which is the “weapon” or “tool” because it changes the perception of time. The aliens know that 3000 years into the future they will need humanity’s help in return.

Louise returns as the camp is being evacuated. She has a vision of herself at a future United Nations reception, being thanked by General Shang for convincing him to suspend China’s military attack. He explains that she had called his private mobile telephone. He shows her its number, which he says he knows he must do without understanding why. In the present, Louise steals a satellite phone and calls Shang, but realizes she does not know what to say. Her vision continues with Shang explaining that she had convinced him by repeating his wife’s last words in Mandarin, which he tells Louise.[nb 1] This convinces Shang in present time; the Chinese attack is called off, and the other nations resume contact. The twelve spacecraft then disappear from Earth.
When packing to leave the camp, Ian admits his love for Louise. They discuss life choices, and whether they would change them if they could know the future. Louise foresees that Ian will father her daughter Hannah, whose name is an intentional palindrome, but will leave her after discovering that she knew their daughter would die before adulthood. Nevertheless, when Ian asks Louise if she wants to have a baby, she agrees.Arrival is one of the best films of 2016 and a really great example of science fiction filmmaking from Denis Villeneuve, who is perfectly suited to bring us the sequel to Blade Runner next year. I would happily put this film in the same league as something like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of the all time greats of sci-fi.