REVIEW: SOLARIS (2002)

CAST
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Natascha McElhone (The Truman Show)
Ulrich Tukur (The White Ribbon)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Jeremy Davies (Lost)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
banner
Clinical psychologist Dr. Chris Kelvin is approached by emissaries for DBA, a corporation operating a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, who relay a message sent from his scientist friend Dr. Gibarian. Gibarian requests that Kelvin come to the station to help understand an unusual phenomenon but is unwilling to explain more. DBA is unsure how to proceed, as the mission to study Solaris has been sidetracked and none of the astronauts want to return home. In addition, DBA has lost contact with the security patrol recently dispatched to the station. Kelvin agrees to a solo mission to Solaris as a last attempt to bring the crew home safely.
Upon arriving at Solaris Station, Kelvin learns that Gibarian has committed suicide and most of the crew have either died or disappeared under bizarre circumstances. Both surviving crew members, Snow and Dr. Gordon, are reluctant to explain the situation at hand. Once alone in his quarters, Kelvin dreams about his dead wife Rheya — reliving when they first met and some of their most romantic and intimate moments. He awakens shocked and terrified to encounter Rheya, apparently alive again beside him in bed, and he leads her into an escape pod and jettisons it into space. Kelvin confides his actions to Snow and comes to understand that replicas of the crew’s loved ones have been mysteriously appearing. When Rheya manifests a second time Kelvin lets her stay, but she admits she does not feel human; her memories feel artificial, in that she lacks the emotional attachment that comes with actually having lived them.
Through numerous flashbacks, Kelvin and Rheya’s meeting and courtship are explored, with hints as to her disturbed upbringing and emotional difficulties. It is also gradually revealed through these flashbacks that Rheya once terminated a pregnancy but did not tell Kelvin about it. When he discovered her choice he was distraught and walked out on her. Rheya then committed suicide and was later found by Kelvin when he returned for her.
Kelvin, Rheya, Snow and Gordon meet to discuss the situation and Gordon tells Rheya what Kelvin did to her previous replica. An appalled Rheya abandons the meeting. Kelvin confronts Gordon, who in turn chastises him for getting emotionally involved with something that is not really human and may eventually pose a threat to human beings on the station as well as on Earth. Later during a dream, Kelvin questions a replica of Gibarian as to what Solaris’s motives are for providing the manifestations, but he is told “there are no answers, only choices.” Kelvin wakes to find Rheya dead, having committed suicide by drinking liquid oxygen. But she quickly self-resurrects, and it is revealed that other manifestations who have ‘died’ have done the same.
2616-2
Gordon develops an apparatus which can permanently destroy a replica but Kelvin objects to using it on Rheya. Driven by his own grief and guilt over the ‘real’ Rheya’s death on Earth, he begins ingesting a chemical stimulant to stay awake in order to monitor Rheya, trying to avoid repeating the past and essentially abandoning her to suicide. Kelvin eventually falls asleep and Rheya successfully petitions Gordon to destroy her with the apparatus as she has done for her own replica(s). Traumatized, Kelvin confronts Dr. Gordon who maintains she merely facilitated in assisted suicide and only strives for the preservation of the humans on the station.
Kelvin and Gordon then discover Snow’s body stashed away in a ceiling vent and realize that the Snow they have been interacting with is a replica. Snow admits to being a replica and explains that upon being dreamed into existence, he was attacked by his creator and thus killed the “original Snow” in self-defense. The Snow replica tells them that repeat usage of the apparatus has drained the ship’s fuel cell reactor, making a return trip to Earth impossible. Furthermore, Solaris has reacted to the behavior of the humans by ‘exponentially’ increasing its mass, thereby gravitationally pulling the space station inexorably toward the planet. Gordon and Kelvin begin prepping a smaller space vehicle called Athena to escape.
Kelvin gives up the idea of boarding the lifeboat, and Doctor Gordon leaves him behind. As the plummeting space station rattles itself to pieces around him, a replica of Gibarian’s young son appears and offers his hand in assistance. Kelvin is then shown struggling to return to normal life on Earth whilst ruminating on the idea that he “remembered her wrong” – that is, Rheya as being invariably suicidal. He accidentally cuts his finger while chopping vegetables in his kitchen, but the wound immediately heals, and he realises that he has only glimpsed a possible future and that he is still on Solaris, since an artificial environment has apparently been created by Solaris for his continued survival on the planet. Or maybe the original Kelvin died aboard the wrecked space station and has been replaced by a replica of himself without realising it. But even his perception of this home away from home could merely be a temporary convenience, because when Rheya appears to him yet again, she replies to a question of his with an implication that they have transcended the conventional meanings of ‘life’ and ‘death’ and that all they have done to each other is forgiven.
Excellent film exploring the idea of what we are and if anything we see , feel or experience is real.

REVIEW: KILLING ME SOFTLY

CAST

Heather Graham (The Hangover)
Joseph Fiennes (Flashforward)
Natascha McElhone (The Truman Show)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Ian Hart (Finding Neverland)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)

Alice (Heather Graham) is a young American woman living in London who believes she is happy in a secure job and a relationship with her boyfriend. After a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger (Joseph Fiennes), she seeks him out, taking a taxi with him to his house and having passionate sex. She returns home to her boyfriend and unsuccessfully attempts to bring out the same feelings between them that she had with the strange man. The following day she seeks the stranger out again, discovering his name is Adam – a mountain climber who is considered a hero after saving six people in a tragic event that killed several others, including the woman he loved. Alice leaves her boyfriend and begins a relationship with Adam, although her friend shows reservations about Alice being in such a sudden relationship. When Alice is mugged on the street, Adam beats the thief terribly, and then asks Alice to marry him, a proposal she happily accepts. For their honeymoon, he takes her to a secluded cabin.The newlyweds settle into their new life, but Alice is troubled by a series of mysterious letters and phone calls, and begins to wonder about her husband’s mysterious past. A reporter who did a story on Adam sends her a copy of a letter from a woman claiming Adam raped her. Alice interviews her, posing as a journalist. Disturbed by the fact that she barely knows her new husband, she begins to go through their apartment, becoming even more alarmed when she searches a locked wardrobe and finds a box of old letters from an ex-lover, Adele, who insists she and Adam end their affair. Adam begins to question Alice more about her activities, including where she got a necklace that she received from his sister, Deborah (Natascha McElhone).untitledSoon after, Alice receives yet another warning. Following the trail, she discovers that Adele has been missing for eight months. She also finds a picture of Adele at the same cabin where she and Adam honeymooned. She realizes she doesn’t feel safe with him and runs to the police. She tells her story, insisting they reopen Adele’s missing persons case, but they can’t do anything without any evidence, telling her they can only keep him for a few hours. Alice seeks help from Deborah, telling her she believes Adam killed Adele for leaving him and buried her at the cabin. On the way to the cabin, Deborah admits that she was the one who sent the messages to Alice, because she wanted to save her from Adam’s violent rages. When Adam returns home from the police station, he finds that Alice was there and left the two pictures, and realizes she must have gone to the cabin.512full-killing-me-softly-screenshotAt the cabin, Alice discovers a body buried in the dirt, wearing the same necklace that Deborah gave her. Deborah tells her that Adele didn’t have to die, if she’d only gone back to her husband. It is apparent that Deborah has incestuous feelings for Adam, resulting in her subsequent possessiveness and need to rid his life of any other woman. She tries to kill Alice, but Adam appears in time and saves her. Furious, Deborah tries to kill him, stopped short by Alice, who shoots her with a flare pistol. Adam tells Alice that he and his sister used to come to the cabin together, but that he thought that if Alice just trusted him, then everything would be alright. Adam is led away by police that morning. Two years later, Alice and Adam see one another again on either side of an escalator – she’s going down and he’s riding up. They both watch each other as they pass without saying anything. Adam stops at the top and turns to stare back at Alice before walking away. The film ends with Alice’s voiceover recalling the events in posterity and wondering what might have happened had fate not led her to Adam one morning. She wonders if the passion between them could ever have lasted, and if a “flatlander” like her could ever have stayed at such a high altitude . At least that’s what she tells herself anyway.killing-me-softlyThis film almost is in the category of so bad it’s good. I did chuckle from time to time at some of the ludicrous dialog and scenes. But, if you’re looking for that type of movie, a much better choice is “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”.

REVIEW: ROMEO & JULIET (2013)

CAST

Douglas Booth (Noah)
Hailee Steinfeld (Ender’s Game)
Damian Lewis (Your Higness)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Ed Westwick (S. Darko)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Lesley Manville (Maleficent)
Christian Cooke (Cemetery Junction)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Natascha McElhone (Solaris)
Tom Wisdom (300)
Tomas Arana (Gladiator)

During the late Middle Ages in Verona, two wealthy families, the Montagues and Capulets, have been feuding for centuries. One day at the market place, the feuding families start a brawl which infuriates the Prince and he threatens that if the peace of Verona is disturbed again, he shall take their lives. Meanwhile, Romeo, a young Montague, reveals that he is in love with Lord Capulet’s niece, Rosaline. Romeo’s cousin, Benvolio persuades him to forget Rosaline but Romeo rebuffs him.
Later that night, there is a party held by Lord Capulet. Romeo sneaks in with Benvolio and Mercutio hoping to meet Rosaline. Instead, Romeo sees Juliet who is Lord Capulet’s daughter and falls in love with her. Juliet feels the same and they share a dance. They go together to a quiet place and share a passionate kiss. Juliet’s Nurse interrupts and when Romeo talks to the nurse, he discovers that Juliet is a Capulet.
After the party ends, Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s garden secretly where he witnesses Juliet expressing her love for Romeo. They have a romantic time and decide to get married the next day. Romeo seeks help from Friar Laurence to wed them and the Friar agrees thinking that their love may end the violent war between Capulets and Montagues. They perform the ceremony and afterwards Juliet returns home. Romeo catches up with Mercutio and Benvolio but they meet Tybalt and his men on the way. This starts another violent brawl during which Tybalt stabs Mercutio. Romeo is enraged and runs after Tybalt seeking revenge. They fight and Romeo slays Tybalt. As the result of this loss, the Prince banishes Romeo from Verona.
Meanwhile both families are filled with grief over their losses, especially Juliet. The Friar sends Romeo to Juliet so he can spend one last night with her. Romeo goes to Juliet and they consummate their marriage. Romeo leaves in haste the next morning. But Juliet is shocked when her father brings news of planning to wed Juliet with Count Paris. Juliet is resistant but her father threatens to disown her if she does not wed Paris. Juliet goes to Friar Laurence for help, threatening to take her life if the Friar does not have a solution. The Friar in return, gives her a potion that will put her in a deathlike sleep temporarily while he will inform Romeo about this and they shall run away together. Juliet is overjoyed and drinks the potion that night. Her parents are devastated and instead of her marriage, her funeral is planned. During the funeral, Benvolio sees Juliet and thinks she is dead and immediately runs off to tell Romeo.

Friar’s letter however, does not reach Romeo and Benvolio tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Romeo is shocked and devastated and plans to take his life. He buys poison and goes to Juliet. He kisses Juliet one last time, then he drinks the potion unaware that Juliet has awakened. Juliet is overjoyed to see him and they kiss but Romeo suddenly collapses and she finds out that he took poison and Romeo dies in her arms. The Friar arrives but he is too late. He hears some guards coming and goes to hold them off. While Juliet is filled with grief, she finds and stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger. The Friar arrives and finds them both dead. Their funeral is held together and the feud between Capulets and Montagues finally reconcile, ending their feud.No film production of this play will please everyone, alas I enjoyed it. It was those little details that were added that made me enjoy this adaptation. A decent enough adaptation of a classic story.

REVIEW: THE TRUMAN SHOW

CAST

Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura)
Laura Linney (Mystic River)
Noah Emmerich (The Americans)
Natascha McElhone (Solaris)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)
Peter Krause (Six Feet Under)
Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights)
John Pleshette (Knots Landing)

a035b884afa29f51846bdab984980787Truman Burbank is the unsuspecting star of The Truman Show, a reality television program in which his entire life, since the moment of his birth, is filmed by thousands of hidden cameras, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is broadcast live around the world. The show’s creator and executive producer Christof is able to capture Truman’s real emotion and human behavior when put in certain situations. Truman’s coastal hometown of Seahaven is a giant set built under a giant arcological dome in the Los Angeles area. Truman’s family and friends are all played by actors, allowing Christof to control every aspect of Truman’s life.MV5BMTM2MzQ5NTQ0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDgwNTk4Mw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1493,1000_AL_During the 30th year of the show, Truman notices certain aspects of his near-perfect world that seem out of place. A theatrical light (labeled Sirius) falls from the artificial morning sky, nearly hitting him (quickly passed off by local radio as an aircraft in trouble that began “shedding parts”) and Truman’s car radio picks up a conversation between the show’s crew tracking his movements. Truman also becomes aware of more subtle abnormalities within his regular day-to-day life, such as the way in which the same people appear in the same places at certain times each day and his wife Meryl’s tendency to blatantly advertise the various products she buys.

To prevent Truman from discovering his false reality, Christof has invented means of dissuading his sense of exploration, the most drastic of which was “killing” his father in a storm while on a fishing trip to instill in him a fear of the water. Christof also floods the channels with news reports and commercials about the dangers of travelling, and television shows about how good it is to stay at home. The actor that played Truman’s deceased father sneaks back onto the set as a homeless man, but is whisked away as soon as Truman notices him. Despite Christof’s control, Truman has managed to behave in unexpected ways, in particular by falling in love with an extra, Sylvia, known to Truman as Lauren, instead of Meryl, the character intended to be his wife. Though Sylvia is quickly removed from the set and Truman marries Meryl, he continues to secretly pine for ‘Lauren’. Sylvia becomes part of a “Free Truman” campaign that fights to free him from the show and to reveal his identity.

Despite the best efforts of his family and his best friend Marlon to reassure him, all these events cause Truman to start wondering about his life, realizing how the world seems to revolve and shape around him, with complete strangers to him knowing his name. Truman attempts to leave Seahaven but is blocked by fabricated emergency situations, further aggravating him. Meryl grows increasingly stressed by the pressure of perpetuating the deception, and their marriage unravels in the face of Truman’s increasing skepticism and attendant hostility towards her. This causes her to snap and partially reveal Truman’s identity and life in front of Marlon, making Truman confused. As a result, Meryl is pulled off the show, and Christof officially brings back Truman’s father, hoping his presence will keep Truman from trying to leave. However, he only provides a temporary respite: Truman soon becomes isolated and begins staying alone in his basement. One night, Truman fools the cameras and escapes the basement undetected via a secret tunnel, forcing Christof to temporarily suspend broadcasting of the show for the first time in its history. This causes a surge in viewership, with many viewers, including Sylvia, cheering on Truman’s escape attempt.
MV5BMTM2MzQ5NTQ0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDgwNTk4Mw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1493,1000_AL_
Christof orders every actor and crew member to search the town, even breaking the town’s daylight cycle to help in the search. They find that Truman has overcome his fear of the water and has sailed away from the town in a small boat. After restoring the broadcast, Christof orders the show’s crew to create a large storm to try to capsize the boat, prompting a heated debate with his assistants and his technicians over the morality and legality of murdering a human being in front of a live audience. Truman almost drowns, but his determination eventually leads Christof to terminate the storm. As Truman recovers, the boat reaches the edge of the dome, its bow piercing through the dome’s painted sky. Truman then continuously punches the wall and breaks down crying. An awe-struck Truman then discovers a flight of stairs nearby, leading to a door marked “EXIT”. As he contemplates leaving his world, Christof finally turns to his last resort by speaking directly to Truman via a powerful sound system, trying to persuade him to stay. Truman, after a moment’s thought, delivers his catchphrase (“In case I don’t see you… good afternoon, good evening, and good night”), bows to his audience and steps through the door and into the real world.

The assembled television viewers excitedly celebrate Truman’s escape, and Sylvia quickly leaves her L.A. apartment and departs to the edges of Seaheaven so she can meet up with him. A network executive orders the crew to cease transmission of the show, leaving Christof dismayed with the realization that his show is truly over.MV5BMTM2MzQ5NTQ0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDgwNTk4Mw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1493,1000_AL_The Truman Show is a clever, fun and entertaining film bursting with themes to explore. Is it better to live a ‘perfect’ fake life or a flawed real one? How far can reality TV go? How far will people go to ‘do their job’? Where does morality fit in when it comes to entertainment? What is freedom?Great story, brilliant acting. A must-see.