REVIEW: 50/50

CAST

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)
Anna Kendrick (Into The Woods)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation)
Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family)
Serge Houde (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Andrew Airlie (FInal Destination 2)
Matt Frewer (Lawnmower Man 2)
Philip Baker Hall (Bruce Almighty)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
P. Lynn Johnson (Blade The Series)
Laura Bertram (Andromeda)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
Lauren Miller Rogen (For a Good Time Call…)
Andrea Brooks (Supergirl)
Sugar Lyn Beard (The Flash)

Adam Lerner is a 27-year-old public radio journalist in Seattle with an artist girlfriend Rachael, of whom his best friend and co-worker Kyle disapproves; where Kyle is brash and outspoken, Adam is more introverted and mild-mannered. After experiencing harsh pains in his back, Adam learns from his doctor that he has schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma (a malignant tumor) in his spine, and must undergo chemotherapy. He sees on the Internet that his chances of survival are fifty-fifty. After Adam reveals his diagnosis, his overbearing mother, Diane, who already cares for her husband Richard suffering from Alzheimer’s, wants to move in and care for him. Adam rejects this offer, as Rachael has promised to be the one to take care of him.Seth Rogen in 50/50 (2011)Rachael, however, is “uncomfortable” going into the hospital during Adam’s chemo treatments and is often late to pick him up, as Adam doesn’t drive; she also gets him a retired racing greyhound named Skeletor as a companion animal. Throughout Adam’s struggle, Kyle attempts to keep Adam’s spirits high, which include helping Adam shave his head prior to chemotherapy and openly using Adam’s illness to pick up women. While on a date with one such woman, however, Kyle sees Rachael at an art gallery, kissing another man, and forces her to come clean to Adam; this proves to be the final straw in their already strained relationship, and Adam breaks up with her for good. Now single, he eventually started to follow Kyle’s lead, and the two use his illness to successfully pick up two women at a bar.Meanwhile, Adam skeptically begins going to a young and inexperienced therapist, Katherine McKay (Kendrick), a PhD candidate doing the clinical aspect of her thesis at the hospital. Although their relationship and sessions have a rocky start, he slowly begins to open up to her about his disease and how it is affecting him. After she gives him a lift home in her car after one of his chemo sessions, the two develop a rapport both in and outside of their sessions, which begins to blur the lines of both their doctor-patient relationship and connection as friends. She helps Adam understand his mother’s situation as well, that even though he is the cancer patient the loved ones feel just as much stress watching someone they care about fight the disease, which helps Adam make steps in repairing the rift between him and his mother. During chemo treatments, Adam also befriends Alan (Hall) and Mitch (Frewer), two older cancer patients who are also undergoing chemotherapy. The two offers Adam advice and smokes marijuana with him.Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendrick in 50/50 (2011)After Mitch suddenly dies, Adam’s fears of his own potential death and unknown future become more evident. Subsequently, he is informed that his treatment is not working and that he needs to undertake a risky surgery as a last resort. The night before his surgery, Adam has an argument with Kyle and demands to drive Kyle’s car because Kyle is drunk—even though Adam does not have a driver’s license. After nearly causing an accident, Adam breaks down and criticizes Kyle for seemingly not taking his illness seriously and using it for his own ends. Adam calls Katherine and tells her that he wishes he had a girlfriend like her, but also says he is tired and just wants it to be over. That night, Adam stays at Kyle’s and while in the bathroom washing his hands, he finds a book entitled ‘Facing Cancer Together’ from their first trip to a bookstore where Kyle picked up the shop clerk—it is filled with notes, highlighted paragraphs and turned-down pages, proving to Adam that Kyle does sincerely care about Adam’s struggle and has been helping him the best way he knows how – by simply not treating Adam any differently – the entire duration of his illness.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in 50/50 (2011)The next day when Kyle drops Adam off at the hospital, Adam embraces Kyle for being a good friend and apologizes for what he said the previous night. After Adam says what could be his final farewells to his family, he undergoes his surgery. During the wait, Katherine goes to the waiting room where she inadvertently meets Adam’s family and Kyle. After the surgery, Kyle, Diane, and Katherine are told by the doctor that although the bone degradation was worse than they had thought, the tumor was removed successfully, and that Adam would recover. Some time later, Adam is getting ready for a date with Katherine, while Kyle encourages him and cleans the incision on Adam’s back from the surgery. The doorbell rings and Adam lets Katherine inside. After Kyle leaves, Katherine asks, “Now what?,” and Adam simply smiles.This was a very moving and touching film that dealt with an awful subject in a very real and different way. I thoroughly enjoyed this and the humour lifted the intensity.

REVIEW: ARGO

 CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Alan Arkin (Get Smart)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield lane)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Tate Donovan (Shooter)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Scoot McNairy (Monsters)
Kerry Bishe (Red State)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Chris Messina (Devil)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Bob Gunton (Dardevil TV)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
John Boyd (Bones)
Michael Parks (Django Unchained)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Tom Lenk (Buffy)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Rory Cochrane (Empire Records)
Matthew Glave (The Wedding Singer)
Michael Cassidy (Batman V Superman)
Barry Livingston (The Social Network)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One)
Philip Baker Hall (Hard Eight)

hqdefaultAfter Iranian militants stormed and took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 taking 56 Americans as hostages, six Americans managed to get away and took refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. After two months of the Canadians putting their lives on the line everyday, the CIA and the US State Department try to come up with a plan to get their people out.Ben Affleck in Argo (2012)Tony Mendez is a specialist who proposes that they pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie called Argo. Using Hollywood connections, Mendez creates a back story for the movie – ads in Variety, casting calls, inviting he media to a production launch – and then heads off to Iran to lead the six Americans out. When I first heard this film was being made, I had no education on the history of the movie, all I knew is that is was a true story based on something political in the middle east, with a really strange title.Affleck once again proves just how good of an actor her is in Hollywood and the way he mixes comedy with intense drama is wonderful. Some scenes are just genius, like the scene where there is a rehearsal, and the captives are treated to a pseudo execution, and then Affleck showing us that both sides can put on a show.Arkin And Goodman are the brilliant comic relief, and whenever they are on screen, the tension is ever so slightly lifted and relief sets in, apart from one scene involving a phone. Affleck, considering he is the director, is really restraint in this movie, and plays it down, whilst the rest of the cast go for it, and it’s to his credit, as it shows that his character has a lot riding on this. It never lets up on tension, even when the six are enjoying their final meal, there is a sense that the door could be broken down at any second.The final third is genuinely edge of your seat stuff. All in all, it’s a wonderful movie, a perfect antidote to some of the dross movies that get dumped on us around the time of year, and really worthy of your attention

REVIEW: BRUCE ALMIGHTY

 

CAST

Jim Carrey (Kick-Ass 2)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jennifer Aniston (Rumor Has It)
Philip Baker Hall (50/50)
Catherine Bell (JAG)
Lisa Ann Walter (War of The Worlds)
Steve Carell (Anchorman)
Nora Dunn (new Girl)
Eddie Jemison (Izombie)
Sally Kirkland (JFK)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Noel Gugliemi (Training Day)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Ara Celi (Machete)
Max Grodénchik (Star Trek: DS9)
P.J. Byrne (Black Lightning)

yukyukuykyukyukBruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a television field reporter for Eyewitness News at WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, but desires to be the news anchorman. He is in a healthy relationship with his girlfriend Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston), but also has a mild crush on his co-worker, Susan Ortega (Catherine Bell), who barely seems to notice him. Bruce however continues to suffer unfortunate events and it reaches his breaking point when he is passed over for promotion by his rival, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), who then steals dialogue from Bruce’s segment in accepting the promotion on-air. Bruce becomes furious and aggressively and profanely criticizes the station during his first live report, leading to his dismissal from the station. Following a series of other misfortunes, Bruce complains that God (Morgan Freeman) is “the one that should be fired.”

Bruce later receives a message on his pager, directing him to an empty warehouse where he meets God, who offers to give Bruce His powers to prove that He is doing the job correctly. God tells Bruce that there are rules to the job he must follow, albeit only two: firstly, Bruce cannot tell anyone else that he has God’s powers; and secondly, Bruce cannot use the powers to alter or interfere with free will. Bruce ignores God and is initially jubilant with the powers, using them for personal gain, such as training his dog to use the toilet, chasing away thugs by spewing out a swarm of hornets, and sexually impressing Grace. Bruce also finds ways of using the powers to cause miraculous events to occur at otherwise mundane events that he covers, such as discovering Jimmy Hoffa’s body or causing a meteor to harmlessly land near a cook-off, earning him his job back. Bruce then uses his powers to cause Evan to make a fool out of himself on-air, causing Evan to be fired in favor of Bruce as the new anchor.

After taking Grace to a fancy dinner and telling her he made anchor (angering her, as she thought he was going to propose), Bruce begins to hear voices in his head. He re-encounters God, who confronts Bruce on using his powers for personal gain and not helping people. He also explains that the voices are prayers to God that Bruce must deal with. Bruce creates a computerized email-like system to receive the prayers and respond, but finds that the influx is far too great for him to handle — even though God had stated that Bruce is only receiving prayers from the Buffalo area — and sets the program to automatically answer Yes to every prayer. Bruce attends a party celebrating his promotion. When Grace arrives, she finds Bruce being seduced and kissed by Susan, and quickly leaves.MV5BMTk0ODQyNDc3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTA2MTEzMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_Bruce follows Grace, but she is heartbroken and will not listen to him. He tries to use his powers to convince Grace to stay but cannot influence her free will. As Bruce looks around, he realizes that the city has fallen into chaos due to his actions. Bruce returns to God, who explains that He can’t solve all the problems, and that Bruce must figure out a way to solve it himself. Bruce then begins to solve his problems in life practically, such as helping a man whose car broke down across the street, training his dog normally, and allowing Evan to have his job back. Bruce returns to his computer system and goes about answering prayers as best he can. As he reads through them, he finds a prayer from Grace, wishing for Bruce’s success and well-being. As he reads it, another prayer from Grace arrives, this one wishing not to be in love with Bruce anymore.

Bruce is stunned and walks alone on a highway, asking God to take back His powers and letting his fate be in His hands. Bruce is suddenly struck by a truck, and regains consciousness in a white void. God appears and asks Bruce what he really wants; Bruce admits that he only wants to make sure Grace finds a man that would make her happy. God agrees and Bruce finds himself in the hospital, shortly after being revived—near miraculously—by the doctors. Grace arrives and the two rekindle their relationship, with Bruce and Grace later becoming engaged. After his recovery, Bruce returns to his field reporting but takes more pleasure in the simple stories. Bruce and Grace announce their engagement on live TV.BruceSchiemoThe film ends with the beggar who Bruce had previously run into on various occasions finally revealing himself to be God. Morgan Freeman delivers a fantastic performance as the Man himself, displaying a God whose infinite wisdom is somewhat reflected through Freeman’s massive talent as an actor. He is the kind of God who takes his job very seriously, but in such a way as to advise his followers that there are times when you need to slow down and do some manual labor in life. I love his line that some of the happiest people in the world come home smelling to high heaven at the end of the day.2840726-morgan_godBruce Almighty is one of the more memorable comedies, It is a comedy written and performed in good taste, but with enough relatively low-brow humor to keep the everyone entertained. This is a meaningful comedy for the whole family.

REVIEW: ALL GOOD THINGS

 

CAST

Ryan Gosling (The Ides of MArch)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Frank Langella (Lolita)
Lily Rabe (No Reservations)
Philip Baker Hall (Bruce Almighty)
Michael Esper (Runner Runner)
Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)

Nick Offerman (Sing)
Zabryna Guevara (Gotham)
Zoe Lister-Jones (New Girl)
William Jackson Harper (The Good Place)

 

1It is one of those “inspired by a true story” affairs, taking its narrative cues from the tabloid-friendly troubles of Robert Durst, son of a wealthy New York real estate mogul, suspected of committing (or at least being involved in) three separate murders in New York, California, and Texas. Here renamed David Marks (presumably to avoid a nice, fat lawsuit), he is played by Ryan Gosling in a live-wire performance as a free spirit who can imagine no fate worse than going into the family business; he’s handsome and charming, and when he meets Katie McCarthy (a sunny Kirsten Dunst), they hit it off right away. They marry and go to Vermont to live the charmed life, but his father (Frank Langella) turns the screws on him to join the family business, and convinces David that he’ll have to make a good living to keep Katie happy–planting a seed of resentment towards Katie that’s manufactured out of sheer fiction.

As David sinks into his depressing job, a darkness is gradually revealed–a troublesome undercurrent, a deep and somewhat worrisome unhappiness that manifests itself in “voices” both in his head and out loud. Soon, David becomes both psychologically and physically abusive, prone to violent outbursts, capable of losing his tenuous grasp on reality. “Does that girl know how fucked up you are?” a friend asks him. To her detriment, she does not.

The film’s most basic, fundamental strength is how it refuses to give itself away; it is masterful in its ability to slowly uncoil its revelations, to allow dread and misfortune to seep in from the edges of the frame until the situation comes to a scary–and somewhat inevitable–head. But then the film jumps a full 18 years ahead (ballsy), and that’s when things get really weird.

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Director Jarecki, who helmed the unforgettable 2003 documentary Capturing the Friedmans, makes the wise choice to play even the most bonkers material straight (with the notable exception of the deliberately, almost comically, melodramatic score, which is like something out of a vintage DePalma picture). His background as a documentarian is one of the film’s greatest assets–not just for his attention to detail and authenticity, but for his refusal to snicker at even the strangest story twists.

He’s also got a real way with actors–Gosling is somehow both impenetrable and impossible to take your eyes off of, and this is without question Dunst’s best work to date. She’s been a little scarce lately, so it’s good to see her from the beginning, and in their scenes of flirtation and romantic glow, she’s cute, warm, and charismatic. But she moves easily into the picture’s darker corners, her keenly-felt performance a stirring slow-motion account of a woman going right to pieces. It’s a tremendous piece of work.