REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Penelope Cruz (Grimsby)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Kevin McNally (Valkyrie)
Sam Clafin (The Quiet Ones)
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (I Origins)
Keith Richards (The Simpsons)
Stephen Graham (Gangs of New York)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Gemma Ward (The Great Gatsby)
Luke Roberts (Reign)

After a failed attempt to rescue his first mate, Joshamee Gibbs in London, Captain Jack Sparrow is brought before King George II. The king wants Jack to guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth before King Ferdinand and the Spanish Navy can locate it. Jack’s old nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa, now a privateer in service to the British Navy after losing his leg and ship, the Black Pearl, which he says was sunk, is heading the expedition. Jack refuses the offer and escapes. He meets up with his father, Captain Teague, who warns Jack about the Fountain’s rituals. Jack learns someone is impersonating him to recruit a crew to find the Fountain. The impostor is Angelica, Jack’s former lover, and the daughter of the ruthless pirate Blackbeard, who practices voodoo magic and wields the mythical “Sword of Triton” that controls his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. While Jack is shanghaied aboard Blackbeard’s ship, Gibbs escapes execution by memorizing and destroying Jack’s map showing the Fountain’s location, forcing Barbossa to take him along.

Meanwhile, after a failed mutiny aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Jack is forced to guide the crew to the Fountain. Blackbeard seeks the Fountain’s power to circumvent his predestined fatal encounter with a “one-legged man”, who happened to be Barbossa. Jack must find two silver chalices aboard Juan Ponce de León’s missing flagship, the Santiago. The Fountain’s water must simultaneously be drunk by two people from the chalices. Drinking from one chalice containing a mermaid’s tear will extend life; the second person dies, their remaining years of life transferred to the other drinker. Jack also discovers that the Black Pearl was captured and shrunk before being added to Blackbeard’s collection of other shrunken ships in bottles.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge heads for Whitecap Bay to find and harvest mermaid tears. A mermaid named Syrena is caught, but Philip Swift, a captive missionary, falls in love with her. Reaching Ponce de León’s ship on an uncharted island, Angelica and Blackbeard coerce Jack into retrieving both chalices. Jack locates the grounded, decaying vessel, only to find Barbossa there. Both claim that the Spanish have taken the chalices, after it was nowhere to be found on the vessel.

Jack and Barbossa team up to sneak into the Spanish camp and steal the chalices. Barbossa reveals he only wants revenge against Blackbeard for attacking the Black Pearl, and his leg being amputated. Jack and Barbossa escape with the chalices. Meanwhile, Syrena, reciprocating Philip’s love, is tricked into shedding a tear. Blackbeard collects it, leaving her to die while Philip is forced to go with them. Jack returns with the chalices and bargains with Blackbeard for Angelica’s safety, Jack’s confiscated magical compass, and Gibbs’ release. In return, Jack vows to give Blackbeard the chalices and lead him to the Fountain; Blackbeard agrees, and Gibbs is set free with the compass.

At the Fountain, Blackbeard’s crew are confronted by Barbossa and his men and they battle while Barbossa and Blackbeard fight. The Spanish suddenly arrive, intending to destroy the Fountain, believing its power an abomination against God. When Barbossa stabs Blackbeard with a poisoned sword, Angelica pulls it out but is cut and poisoned. Barbossa obtains Blackbeard’s magic sword and gains control of the Queen Anne’s Revenge and her crew. Philip is mortally wounded, but he returns to free Syrena. She retrieves the missing chalices and gives them to Jack, telling him not to waste her tear. Syrena goes back to the dying Philip. She says she can save him if he asks her to. When he asks for her forgiveness, she takes him underwater.skeletyi-v-shkafuWith Blackbeard and Angelica both nearing death, Jack wants Angelica to drink from the chalice containing the tear. Instead, Blackbeard drinks it, asking his daughter to sacrifice herself. Angelica agrees and drinks from the second chalice. Anticipating that the self-serving Blackbeard would sacrifice his daughter, Jack lied about which chalice contained the tear to save Angelica’s life and Blackbeard’s soul. Angelica’s wounds are healed as the Fountain fatally consumes Blackbeard’s body. Although Angelica claimed she loves Jack, he distrusts her intentions and strands her on a cay. Now wielding Blackbeard’s magical sword, Barbossa captains the Queen Anne’s Revenge and returns to piracy.  Jack finds Gibbs, who had used the compass to locate the Revenge. He reclaimed the shrunken Black Pearl and the other conquered ships in bottles, carrying them in a gunny sack. The two leave, hoping to revert the Black Pearl to its original size. In a post-credits scene, a voodoo doll of Jack crafted by Blackbeard washes ashore and is found by grinning Angelica.On Stranger Tides is not a perfect film, but as an installment to a decent enough franchise it is a more than worthy one. I’m pretty sure if you’re looking for a good time going into it, you will have fun.

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REVIEW: NINE

CAST

Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot)
Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises)
Penelope Cruz (Blow)
Judi Dench (Spectre)
Fergie (Poseidon)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Nicole Kidman (The Others)
Sophia Loren (Pret-A-Porter)

Guido Contini is a gifted Italian filmmaker who, at the age of fifty, has developed writer’s block and urges all the women in his life, alive and dead, to help him with it – his mind wanders to his unfinished set, where dozens of dancers and the film’s leading ladies appear – first Claudia Jenssen, his leading lady; then his wife Luisa; his mistress Carla; his costume designer and confidant Lilli; his beloved Mamma; Stephanie, an American fashion journalist from Vogue; and finally Saraghina, a prostitute from his childhood; (“Overture Delle Donne”). It is 1965, and at the famous Cinecittà movie studios, in Rome, ‘everyone has questions for Signor Contini.’
At a press conference at the Hotel Excelsior on the Via Veneto, he’s charming and colourful, avoiding any clear answer on his new movie – his ninth with producer, Dante, – tentatively entitled Italia. Here he meets Stephanie, a Vogue fashion journalist, with whom he begins a flirtation. Escaping the biting probes of the reporters, he creates an elaborate fantasy, which becomes (“Guido’s Song”) where he explains that he wishes he were young and energetic once again, since his talent was better then.

He escapes the press conference, the reporters and his producer and arrives at the Bellavista Spa Hotel. While being examined by the doctor, he receives a call from Carla, his mistress (“A Call from the Vatican”). She describes her desire for him, as he excitedly listens on the other end. She arrives at the spa, expecting to share his suite, but is upset to find that she’s staying in a shabby pensione by the train station. Meanwhile, Guido learns that a Cardinal is also staying at his hotel and tells the cardinal’s assistant to arrange a meeting.

However, Dante soon arrives at the spa and escorts Contini to a banquet hall where the entire production team is assembled to help him prepare for his film. He sees Lilli, his costume designer, and begs for inspiration, while criticizing the costume she’s in the middle of making as not being something an Italian woman would wear. She reminds him of Luisa’s birthday the previous day and disagrees, saying that it reminds her of Folies Bergère, a Parisian music hall that featured showgirls, where she ‘learnt her art’ (“Folies Bergères”).

The Cardinal agrees to meet him and advises him to lead a more moral life and look to his youth for inspiration. Guido’s thoughts lead him to remembering Saraghina, a prostitute whom he and his friends paid to teach them the art of love and sex (“Be Italian”). Young Guido is caught by his school teachers/priests and whipped by his principal. He awakens on top of Carla, in a fit of anxiety and abruptly leaves to meet his production team for dinner. She wants to come, but he vehemently refuses, reminding her that they don’t want to hurt either of their spouses.

At dinner, he’s happily surprised to see Luisa, who has come at Lilli’s request. He embraces her and wishes her a happy birthday, promising that when she returns home, the house will be filled with flowers. She sits, and the young priest from earlier, who recognizes her as one of Guido’s earlier actresses, joins the table. In song, Luisa explains how she’s become a different woman to be Guido’s wife, abandoning her acting career to be at his side (“My Husband Makes Movies”). She then notices Carla entering the restaurant and leaves immediately, saying she feels tired. Guido doesn’t understand why and follows her, asking what’s happened. She ignores him and when he returns to the restaurant and sees Carla, he finally understands. He demands that Carla go back to the pensione, and she leaves, heartbroken.

When Guido goes to the suite to try to smooth things over, Luisa refuses to listen. He goes to the lobby and meets Stephanie, who has tracked him down. Guido and Stephanie continue to flirt, and she describes her love for his movies and how fashionable he makes everything seem (“Cinema Italiano”). She leaves her room key in his pocket. While in her room, watching her undress, he realizes how much he cares for his wife and leaves. He returns to the suite and promises that he’s done with cheating. Luisa embraces him, but he’s called away to help Carla, who’s overdosed on pills. The doctor comments how reckless and immoral Guido is, which Guido doesn’t contest. He stays with Carla until her husband arrives. He returns to the hotel to find that Luisa has left and the crew has returned to Rome to begin filming.

His mother returns to him to advise him to repair his life (“Guarda La Luna”). He calls Luisa from the studio to beg her to come to the screen testing that evening. She hangs up without response. He arrives at the set to film shots of Claudia in her costumes. She does a few takes, but leaves, saying she’ll return when she reads the script. Guido agrees that that’s fair and drives her away. They’re followed by paparazzi, but he manages to lose them. Claudia realizes that there is no script and they take a walk. She asks him what he wants the film to be about and his description closely resembles his own ordeal: a man lost and in love with so many women. When they stop to rest, she tells him that she loves him but he is unable to love her (“Unusual Way”). Claudia tells him he doesn’t see the real her, only the movie star he has created for the masses. She leaves.

He returns to review screen tests of new actresses and keeps looking to the back to see if Luisa has arrived. He’s relieved when she finally does. She watches and is heartbroken to see him say something in a clip to an actress that he’d said to her when they first met. When everyone leaves, she explains to him that he’s reminded her that she’s not special, just another link in the chain and leaves him (“Take It All”). He finally comes to terms with his mental block (“I Can’t Make This Movie”), realizing that he’s lost everything: his wife, his muse, his talent, and has nothing to make the movie. He apologizes to the staff that there was never a movie, just an idea, and has the set destroyed before leaving Rome.

Two years later, Guido is in a café in Anguillara looking at an advertisement for a play starring Luisa. He waits outside the theatre that night, and watches her leave with a man. He walks with Lilli a few days later and tries to find more information about her. Lilli tells him that she’s not going be to be the middle-man for them, implying that Luisa asks for him as well. She asks if he will ever make a movie again. He says that he won’t because he wouldn’t know what to make, except a movie about a man trying to win back his wife. Lilli says that that’s a good start and the costumes won’t be too bad either.

Guido returns to his element, passionate about a story once more. As he speaks with his actors about the scene, his nine-year-old self (Giuseppe Spitaleri) gathers the cast of Guido’s life together. As Guido takes his place in the director’s chair, the cast of Guido’s life assemble on the scaffolding behind him, culminating with the arrival of his mother and nine-year-old Guido running to sit on the older Guido’s lap (“Finale”). Luisa arrives without being seen and watches in that background, happy to see Guido back to his old self. She smiles as he is raised on a crane and calls, “Action!”Unusual story structure, creative direction, cinematography and editing, interesting characters and great performances from a top flight cast produced a compelling, convincing movie.

REVIEW: GRIMSBY

CAST

Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat)
Mark Strong (John Carter)
Penelope Cruz (Zoolander 2)
Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids)
Isla Fisher (Scooby-Doo)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Rory Keenan (Reign of Fire)
Tamsin Egerton (Camelot)
Johnny Vegas (Ideal)
Ricky Tomlinson (The 51st State)
David Harewood (Supergirl)
Scott Adkins (The Legend of Hercules)
Ian McShane (Game of Thrones)

Nobby Butcher (Sacha Baron Cohen) has been separated from his brother Sebastian for 28 years. During the 28 year separation, Nobby has become alcoholic and has started his own life with his wife Dawn (Rebel Wilson) and 11 children in the poor English town of Grimsby.

Sebastian (now Sebastian Graves) has become one of MI6’s top agents. After completing an interrogation, Sebastian comes into information regarding philanthropist Rhonda George (Penélope Cruz), who is hosting a benefit called WorldCure and is a potential target for assassination, and is assigned to go. Nobby’s pub friends also find out that his brother will be at WorldCure and convince Nobby to go and reconnect with him. Sebastian goes to the event and sees a hitman, later known as Pavel Lukashenko (Scott Adkins), who plans to assassinate Rhonda with a gun disguised as a video camera. As Sebastian prepares to shoot the camera, Nobby sees him and gives him a hug, accidentally causing him to shoot a Jewish-Palestinian boy with AIDS. The spray of blood lands in Daniel Radcliffe’s mouth, giving him AIDS.

The brothers go on the run from the authorities and other assassins, with Sebastian breaking his ankle in the process. Despite Sebastian’s protests, Nobby convinces him it would be best to hide at his home in Grimsby. Meanwhile, MI6 believes that Sebastian has gone rogue. The MI6 send orders to an assassin named Chilcott (Sam Hazeldine) to track Sebastian down. However, Sebastian calls his handler Jodie and proclaims his innocence.

Chilcott and his men find the two brothers at a pub. Sebastian and Nobby spot them and run away with help from the pub clientele, but Sebastian is hit with two poison darts in the process. Nobby is forced to first suck the poison out of his brother’s chest and then his testicles to save him. The brothers travel to South Africa, after Jodie informs Sebastian that Lukashenko was doing a deal with Joris Smit (Nick Boraine) in Tshukaru Bush Lodge. Sebastian accidentally injects himself with heroin, mistaking it for the bone strengthening treatment for his broken ankle. Nobby must assume his identity and go undercover. Nobby tries to seduce Joris’s wife Lina, but first seduces the wrong woman and is then interrupted by Joris and his two men. Sebastian arrives and saves Nobby. Lina tells them that Lukashenko bought some sort of virus, but she is fatally shot by Chilcott and his men from a distance before she gives any further information. To outrun Chilcott’s men, the brothers hide inside an elephant’s vagina, but in the process they become trapped inside after a male elephant begins having sexual intercourse with it. As they wash off afterwards, Sebastian asks why Nobby abandoned him as a child. Nobby explains that Sebastian’s adoptive parents only wanted to adopt one of the brothers but were unable to decide, and he ran away so Sebastian could have a better life.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2708409.main_image.jpgThe two brothers travel to Santiago, Chile. They realize that the syndicate plans to unleash their weapon upon a football match in the area, but the syndicate captures Sebastian. Rhonda visits the captured Sebastian and tells him her plans to launch the virus—called WorldCure—into the arena via fireworks. Nobby finally finds Sebastian, but he is intercepted by Lukashenko. Lukashenko overpowers Nobby, but he obtains Lukashenko’s gun and shoots him in the head. He easily kills the other henchmen before rescuing Sebastian.

The brothers go back to the arena and spot Rhonda. While Nobby tries to intercept Rhonda, Chilcott attempts to kill Sebastian, but Nobby’s kids throw a wheelchair at him, knocking him over and impaling on a helmet. Nobby obtains a gun and spotted Rhonda running through the arena. He goes after her. In the meantime, Raheem Sterling in the final match between England and Germany attempts a shot from a distance, however, the shot was going wide. Nobby shot the ball and it conveniently deflected into the goal. Nobby also shot the referee who’s going to disallow the goal, resulting in England winning the match. Nobby then tries to shoot Rhonda but his gun jams and he realizes he must stop the fireworks himself. He sits on one of the fireworks containing the virus; Sebastian sits on the other at the last minute, reaffirming his brotherhood with Nobby. The fireworks go off with the two atop them and the brothers are knocked unconscious upon landing. Nobby’s gun goes off and hits Daniel Radcliffe, whose infectious blood spills onto Donald Trump’s mouth.
 It is reported that Rhonda is arrested, the Graves brothers “died” after saving the world, and Donald Trump has AIDS. The brothers are actually recovering in the hospital. Jodie visits and gives them new identities, informing them that the virus did not affect them because its antidote is elephant semen. Nobby’s family also visits them. In the final scene, eight weeks later, Nobby and Sebastian are on a mission in Jakarta, Indonesia. On a boat, Nobby is approached by a team of gunmen, who he quickly kills. He reaches Sebastian, who asks him if he’s met the team; Nobby realizes too late that the gunmen were his team. In a post credit scene the brothers are in a car and stop to ask a man for directions to the stadium, after receiving directions Nobby shoots the man saying ‘leave no witnesses’ disturbing Sebastian.Grimsby also known as The Brothers Grimsby in America. This is one of the best comedy  movies released and definitely worthy of repeat viewings if you’re a fan of this type of comedy, and especially if you appreciate Sacha Baron Cohen’s brand of humor.

 

 

REVIEW: ZOOLANDER 2

CAST

Ben Stiller (Along Came Polly)
Owen wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Penelope Cruz (Open Your Eyes)
Will Ferrell (Everything Must Go)
Christine Taylor (Tropic Thunder)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil)
Kristen Wiig (The Martian)
Jerry Stiller (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Zane (The Scorpion King 3)
Antonio Te Maioha (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)
Keifer Sutherland (Pompeii)
Fred Armisen (Easy A)
Andy Dick (Dude, Wheres My Car ?)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Christina Hendricks (Drive)
Willie Nelson (The Dukes of Hazzard)
Katy Perry (The Smurfs)
Sting (Dune)
John Malkovich (Red)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)

At Fashion Interpol, Valentina Valencia examines the expressions of recently assassinated pop singers’ last images and discovers they match Derek Zoolander’s trademark look, “Blue Steel”. A flashback reveals that the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good collapsed, killing Matilda Jeffries and injuring Hansel McDonald. Derek later lost custody of his son, Derek Zoolander Jr., and announced his retirement from modeling and subsequent reclusion.

Derek now lives alone in “extreme northern” New Jersey. Billy Zane visits and gives him an invitation to the House of Atoz fashion show by Alexanya Atoz, and persuades him to return to a regular lifestyle in order to regain custody of his son. In the “uncharted Malibu territories”, Hansel returns to his home after dinner and is informed by his orgy that they are all pregnant and that he is the father. He is later given the same invitation by Zane. After reuniting, Derek and Hansel are tracked down by Valentina, who asks them to help Interpol uncover who is behind the systematic assassinations.

At the fashion show, Derek and Hansel are surprised to find that the ever-changing fashion world is now dominated by the likes of Don Atari and the androgynous All. They are put on the runway in “Old” and “Lame” outfits and are doused by a large bucket of prunes. Afterwards, Alexanya congratulates them on their performance.

With Valentina’s help, Derek discovers his son is residing at a local orphanage. They find him, but Derek is distraught by his son’s obesity. After Matilda’s ghost asks him to protect their son, Hansel convinces Derek to accept Derek Jr. After meeting the Headmaster, Derek takes his son around Rome. However, Derek Jr. becomes disgruntled with his father and returns to the orphanage. Hansel receives an anonymous call, requesting that he travel to St. Peter’s Basilica at midnight. He, Derek, and Valentina go to the church and meet with Sting, who tells them the tale of Adam and Eve and the little-known Steve, who many rockstars have died to protect. It is said that Steve is the common ancestor of all models and that he and his closest descendant (Derek Jr.) hold the bloodline of the Fountain of Youth.

Derek returns to the orphanage, only to find it in disrepair and his son and the Headmaster gone. He travels to Jacobim Mugatu’s isolated prison, but is captured, while Mugatu escapes. Mugatu leaves on a helicopter while Hansel stows away by hiding on top of the propeller. Derek and Valentina swim back to Rome while Hansel infiltrates the House of Atoz. He witnesses Mugatu reuniting with Alexanya and killing Don Atari. Hansel finds Derek Jr. imprisoned and reunites with Derek and Valentina at the IncrediBALL. They enter a bathhouse through a rear entrance and witness Derek Jr. strapped to a table.

Mugatu and many of the world’s fashion designers prepare to cut out Derek Jr.’s heart and consume his blood, believing it to grant them eternal youth as it contains the blood of Steve. Derek, Hansel, and Valentina stop Mugatu from proceeding and he reveals that he brought together the world’s fashion designers to kill them as revenge for leaving him imprisoned. Alexanya, who is actually Katinka Ingabogovinanana, attacks Valentina, while Mugatu tells Derek that he was behind the destruction of his Center by hiring the construction crew to build a faulty base. He then throws an explosive towards the lava. Derek manages to stop it with “Magnum”, but he struggles to keep it suspended in mid-air. Sting arrives and reveals that he is Hansel’s father, and they, along with Derek Jr., successfully hurl the explosive back at Mugatu, killing him. Derek Jr. forgives his father for his mother’s death and Derek and Valentina confess their love for each other. Matilda’s ghost gives them her blessing and says that Mugatu live-streamed the event.

Six months later, Derek and Hansel have returned to modeling. Derek and Valentina have a daughter named Darlene, while Derek Jr. is now in a relationship with Malala Yousafzai. Hansel returns to living with his orgy and is now the father of 10 children.


Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell reprise their sillinesses from last time, and it is a pleasure to see Penelope Cruz being every bit as silly, and fully prepared to make herself look daft. A great sequel.

REVIEW: BLOW

CAST

Johnny Depp (Public Enemies)
Penelope Cruz (Grimsby)
Franka Potente (Run Lola Run)
Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Jordi Molla (Riddick)
Cliff Curtis (Training Day)
Migual Sandoval (Medium)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Kevin Gage (Heat)
Max Perlich (Cliffhanger)
Jesse James (Jumper)
Tony Amendola (The Mask of Zorro)
Bobcat Goldthwait (American Yakuza 2)
Monet Mazur (Raging Angels)
Jaime King (Sin City)
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens)

The film opens to a young George Jung (Jesse James) and his parents Fred (Ray Liotta) and Ermine (Rachel Griffiths) of Weymouth, Massachusetts. When George is ten years old, Fred files for bankruptcy and loses everything, but tries to make George realize that money is not important.

As an adult, George (Johnny Depp) moves to Los Angeles with his friend “Tuna” (Ethan Suplee); they meet Barbara (Franka Potente), an airline stewardess, who introduces them to Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens), a marijuana dealer. With Derek’s help, George and Tuna make a lot of money. Kevin Dulli (Max Perlich), a college student back in Boston, visits them and tells them of the enormous market—and demand—for pot in Boston. With Barbara’s help, they start bringing the drugs to Boston.

As the demand grows, they decide to start buying the drugs directly from Mexico with the help of Santiago Sanchez (Tony Amendola), a Mexican drug lord. But two years later, George is caught in Chicago trying to import 660 pounds of marijuana and is sentenced to two years. After unsuccessfully trying to plead his innocence (by reciting the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” and insisting that he did no more than “cross an imaginary line with a bunch of plants”), George skips bail to take care of Barbara, who is suffering from, and eventually succumbs to, cancer. Her death marks the disbanding of the group of friends; even his friend, Tuna, flees their vacation home in Mexico and is never seen again.
While hiding from the authorities, George visits his parents back in New England. While he is having a heart-to-heart talk with his father, George’s mother calls the police, who come and arrest him. George is now sentenced to 26 months in a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. His cellmate Diego Delgado (Jordi Molla) has contacts in the Medellín cocaine cartel and convinces George to help him go into business. Upon his release from prison, George violates his parole conditions and heads down to Cartagena, Colombia to meet up with Diego. They meet with cartel officer Cesar Rosa to negotiate the terms for smuggling 15 kilograms (33 lb) to establish “good faith”. As the smuggling operation grows, Diego gets arrested, leaving George to find a way to sell 50 kg (110 lb) and get the money in time. George reconnects with Derek in California, and the two successfully sell all 50 kg in 36 hours, amassing a $1.35 million profit. George is then whisked off to Medellín, Colombia, where he finally meets the group’s leader, Pablo Escobar (Cliff Curtis), who agrees to go into business with them. With the help of main middleman Derek, the pair becomes Escobar’s top US importer. At Diego’s wedding, George meets Cesar’s fiancée Mirtha (Penélope Cruz) and marries her. However, Diego resents George for keeping Derek’s identity secret and pressures George to reveal his connection. George eventually discovers that Diego has betrayed him by cutting him out of the connection with Derek. Inspired by the birth of his daughter and chastened by a subsequent drug-related heart attack, George severs his relationship with the cartel and vows to leave the drug business forever.

All goes well with George’s newfound civilian life for five years, until Mirtha organizes a 38th birthday party for him. Many of his former drug associates attend, including Derek, who reveals that Diego eventually cut him out as well. The FBI and DEA raids the party and arrest George. Following George’s conviction, he becomes a fugitive. Meanwhile, his bank account—heretofore under Manuel Noriega’s protection in Panama—is seized. One night, he and Mirtha get into a fight while driving. They are pulled over by police and Mirtha tells them Jung is a fugitive and has stashed a kilogram of cocaine in his trunk. He is sent to jail for three years, during which time Mirtha divorces him and takes custody of their nine-year-old daughter, Kristina “Sunshine” Jung (Emma Roberts). Upon his release, George finds himself struggling to keep his relationship with his daughter on good terms.

George promises Kristina a vacation in California and seeks one last deal to garner enough money for the trip. George completes a deal with former accomplices but learns too late that the deal had been set up by the FBI and DEA, with Dulli and Derek having leaked the nature and location of the action in exchange for pardons for their involvement in his prior action. George is sentenced to 60 years at Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York. He explains in the end that neither the sentence nor the betrayal bothered him, but that he can never forgive himself for having to break a promise to his daughter.
While in prison, George requests a furlough to see his dying father, Fred. His unforgiving mother denies the request, saying a visit would only upset Fred. George is given a tape recorder to record a final message to his father. In the message, George recounts his memories of working with his father, his run-ins with the law, and finally, too late, his understanding of what Fred meant when he said that money is not “real”. The film closes with George as an old man in prison, imagining that his daughter (Jaime King) finally comes to visit him. She slowly fades away as a guard calls for George. The film concludes with notes indicating that Jung’s sentence will not expire until 2015, and that his daughter has yet to visit him. The film’s final image is a photograph of the actual George Jung.Johnny Depp is excellent in this role and you can share his excitement as the deals grow bigger and bigger and the money rolls in, as well as his sadness as things go downhill.  The film is accompanied by a great soundtrack, and despite it’s length it never feels dragged out.

REVIEW: OPEN YOUR EYES(Abre los ojos)

CAST

Eduardo Noriega (The Devil’s backbone)
Penelope Cruz (Zoolander 2)
Chete Lera (The Contestant)
Fele Martínez (Thesis)
Najwa Nimri (The Method)

A young, handsome man wakes up to a female voice telling him to open his eyes. He drives to an empty city. He wakes up again, this time to a woman in his bed. He tells her not to leave messages on his alarm.

From a prison cell in Madrid, the 25-year-old man, César (Eduardo Noriega), tells his story to psychiatrist Antonio (Chete Lera) while wearing a prosthetic mask. Flashbacks reveal the following events: good-looking César is attractive to women. At his birthday party, he flirts with Sofía (Penélope Cruz), the girlfriend of his best friend Pelayo (Fele Martínez). Later on, he takes her home and stays the night, although they do not sleep together. The next morning, César’s obsessive ex-lover Nuria (Najwa Nimri) pulls up outside Sofía’s flat, offering him a ride and sex. On the way to her home, however, she crashes the car with the intent to kill them both. César is horribly disfigured, beyond the help of cosmetic surgery. Sofía cannot bear to see him like this and goes back to Pelayo.

After César’s disfigurement, he begins to have a series of disorienting experiences. Drunk, César falls asleep in the street. On awakening, everything has changed: Sofía now claims to love him and the surgeons restore his lost looks. But as he makes love to Sofía one night, she changes into Nuria. Horrified, César smothers her with a pillow, yet finds everyone else believes Nuria was indeed the woman everyone else calls Sofía.

While he is confined to the prison, fragments of his past return to him as if in a dream. It is revealed that, shortly after his disfigurement, César contracted with Life Extension, a company specializing in cryonics, to be cryogenically preserved and to experience extremely lucid and lifelike virtual reality dreams. Returning to their headquarters, under supervision by prison officers, he discovers they specialise in cryonics with a twist: “artificial perception” or the provision of a fantasy based on the past to clients who are reborn in the future. He had committed suicide at home after sleeping drunk on the street, and was placed in cryonic suspension. His experiences from about the midpoint of the movie onward have been a dream, spliced retroactively into his actual life and replacing his true memories. At the end of the film he elects to wake up and be resurrected. Convinced his life since the drunken night in the street is simply a nightmarish vision created by Life Extension, César leaps from the roof of the company’s high-rise headquarters, and wakes to a female voice telling him to relax and open his eyes.

The film does build to a great climax on the roof of a high building as the main character tries to piece everything together, having to risk his life to test what reality is. I really enjoyed this ride. Some good acting in this film Eduardo Noriega is excellent and Penelope Cruz is good as she always is in the Spanish speaking films she does.

 

 

REVIEW: VANILLA SKY

CAST

Tom Cruise (Knight and Day)
Penelope Cruz (Grimsby)
Cameron Diaz (Bad TEacher)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)
Timothy Spall (Rock Star)
Tilda Swinton (Constantine)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Ivana Milicevic (Casino Rtoyale)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Alicia Witt (Two Weeks Notice)
Ken Leung (Lost)

Vanilla Sky didn’t really have it easy in the year of its release. On top of being a Hollywood remake of the critically-acclaimed Spanish film, it also had to contend with the debut of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and the wider distribution of Nolan’s Memento — both of which generated buzz by accomplishing similar things in superior ways — earlier that year. Therefore, the field was crowded in the psycho-puzzle subgenre, and the twisted story of David Aames’ conflict of romantic pursuits and amnesiac murder mystery wasn’t, in a literal sense, anything new.Crowe tweaks the narrative, though, by emphasizing the protagonist’s legacy as the heir to a publishing empire, accentuating his recklessness with the business end of things and a general self-awareness of the tools at his disposal: charisma, wealth, and appearance. That makes it all the more intriguing to watch his casual tryst with clingy actress Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz) evolve beyond his control, and to see it all deconstructed by a beautiful but comparatively commonplace dancer, Sofia (Penelope Cruz), who immediately steals his heart.Cruise admirably embraces the understated commentary on his persona through his character’s carefree place of power and his thorny relationship with his father, with his easy charm and building anxiety driven by writer/director Crowe’s good-natured style of human interaction. An immediate spark ignites between his character and Sofia within, unsurprisingly, a cluttered celebration of the greatness of David on his birthday, and it stays credible throughout the film due to how Penelope Cruz’s down-to-earth wit and allure drags him out of the clouds, shaping into a poignant love story. The standout performance, however, emerges in Cameron Diaz with arguably the best turn of her career, encapsulating obsession and one-way affection in a beautiful shell that’s both sympathetic and unsettling, the cloud over David’s happiness.
Infusing ethereal tracks by composer (and wife) Nancy Wilson and Icelandic band Sigur Ros with classic and contemporary melancholy pop songs, director Crowe again uses his musical awareness to heighten the visual and dramatic tempo in Vanilla Sky. Instead of directly enveloping scenes in the feel of a time period or the clear emotional state of a character, however, his musical selection here transports the audience through the complicated space of David Aames’ mind, guiding the film in both similar and differing tonal directions to that of Amenabar’s original intents. Crowe’s attunement to sound mixes intriguingly with the growingly abstract nature of David’s telling of the events, embracing an attitude that’s somewhere between the earnest warmth of the director’s previous pictures and the disappearing grip on reality within David’s psychosis. Overt sentimentality does get in the way of establishing a consistent suspenseful mood, but that duality also becomes one of the film’s distinguishing attributes as the tone shifts between those margins.

Along the way, Cameron Crowe never lets the viewer forget that this is a narrative being spun by an imprisoned man in a latex mask, divulged to an inquisitive psychiatrist as he builds a case for David’s mental state surrounding a murder accusation. Paired with the evocative perspective of Braveheart and Almost Famous cinematographer John Toll, surreal cues emerge through the film’s visual language that suggest there’s more to everything than what we’re shown, where little details scattered about — photographs, drawings, even the mole on someone’s body — begin to play with the perspectives of both David and the audience’s trust level in him. It’s at this point where Vanilla Sky pulls the curtain back on what it’s really about, descending into the pandemonium of nightmares and unreliable narration through warped science-fiction that recalibrates just about everything that’s transpired thus far. Crowe doesn’t get carried away with it all, either, keeping a firm grip on what’s safe to be deduced and not as the film shapeshifts into a psychological thriller.

Vanilla Sky tumbles down that rabbit hole in a wild, slyly unsettling climax to the tragic mysteries of David’s life, both revealing the truth of what’s going on and inviting different interpretations to what it all means through layered clues, more flashes of images and whispers in the distance. It’s unsurprising that heavy emotion speaks louder than thematic lucidity in Crowe’s ending, the most divergent part of the film from the original; however, the bittersweet nature in how it feeds into the choice between moving on with one’s life or perpetuating an illusion says enough. Despite tiptoeing around some rather dark elements, it leaves the audience with a degree of cathartic optimism hanging in the air alongside swelling atmospheric music and painterly surroundings, yet there’s also the lingering sensation that everything hasn’t been, and won’t be, fully answered. Whether repeat viewings will bring that more into focus depends on the viewer, but thankfully experiencing the sweet and sour of David’s life is compelling enough to continue doing so anyway.