REVIEW: ONLY GOD FORGIVES

CAST

Ryan GOsling (Drive)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission: Impossible)
Vithaya Pansringarm (The Hangover: Part II)
Rhatha Phongam (Angels)
Tom Burke (I Want Candy)

Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives (2013)Julian is an American expatriate who runs a Muay Thai club in Bangkok, Thailand as a front for drug dealing. His older brother Billy rapes and kills an underage prostitute and is cornered by Thai police. Lieutenant Chang allows the girl’s father, Choi Yan Lee, to beat Billy to death in the same room Billy killed the girl. Chang then cuts off the father’s forearm for allowing his daughter to be a prostitute.Kristin Scott Thomas, Ryan Gosling, and Yayaying Rhatha Phongam in Only God Forgives (2013)Julian also engages in deviant sexual practices. He prefers to be bonded as he watches his favorite prostitute, Mai, masturbate. Upon discovering his brother has been murdered, Julian and his crew go to Choi’s kiosk to confront him. He decides to spare Choi’s life after hearing about Chang’s involvement. When Julian’s mother, Crystal, arrives in Bangkok to identify Billy’s corpse, she demands Julian find and kill the men responsible for Billy’s death. He refuses, believing Choi was justified in avenging the death of his daughter, infuriating Crystal. Fascinated by his sense of justice, Julian imagines meeting Chang in a dark room, where Chang cuts Julian’s hands off.Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives (2013)Julian brings Mai to meet Crystal, posing as his girlfriend. Crystal sees through the ruse, insulting Mai and demeaning Julian, pronouncing him to be sexually inferior to his dead brother. Julian is passive to Crystal’s verbal abuse, but his aggravation results in him viciously humiliating Mai afterwards. At Crystal’s request, one of the fighters at Julian’s boxing club assassinates Choi. Later, the police arrive at Julian’s club, but Chang concludes that Julian is not Choi’s killer. Julian recognises Chang from his visions and follows him from the boxing club, but Chang seems to disappear into thin air.Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives (2013)After learning that Chang was involved in Billy’s death, Crystal meets with an associate, Byron, to arrange Chang’s assassination. Three gunmen on motorbikes are sent to kill Chang at a restaurant, which results in several customers and two of Chang’s men being killed in a shoot-out. Chang kills two of the gunmen, follows the third on foot, throws boiling oil into his face and beats him with a frying pan. The surviving gunman leads Chang to his boss, Li Po, who has resorted to arranging assassination contracts as a means of providing for his crippled son. Chang then kills the gunman but spares Li Po after seeing his affection for his son. Li Po points Chang to Byron, who ordered the hit. Chang finds Byron in a club and tortures him to reveal the reasoning behind the hit.Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives (2013)Julian confronts Chang and challenges him to a fight at Julian’s boxing venue. Chang, an experienced boxer, quickly beats Julian, who does not land a single blow. Afterwards, Crystal tells Julian that Chang has figured out she ordered the hits. Fearful for her life, she pleads with Julian to kill Chang, the same way she asked Julian to kill his own father for her. She promises that after Julian kills Chang, they will go back home, and she will be a true mother to him. With his associate Charlie Ling, Julian infiltrates Chang’s home after shooting Chang’s guard dead, intent on ambushing Chang when he returns. Charlie informs Julian that Crystal instructed him to execute Chang’s entire family. Charlie murders the nanny of Chang’s daughter as she enters the home, but Julian kills Charlie before he can murder Chang’s young daughter.Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives (2013)Chang and a police officer find Crystal in the hotel where she is staying. She explains how Julian killed his father with his bare hands, asserting to Chang that Julian is violent and deranged, blaming him for the violent crimes committed in the family’s name. Chang decides to punish her by cutting her throat. Later, Julian returns to the hotel and finds his mother’s corpse. In silence, he approaches her body and cuts open her abdomen before placing his hand inside of the wound. Julian is later shown standing in a field with Chang, who appears to cut off both of Julian’s hands with his sword. Finally Chang is singing at a karaoke bar to an audience of attentive police officers.Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives (2013)Only God Forgives is sure not your typical thriller. It’s very slow burning movie, but it’s very well paced – slow isn’t weakness in this picture, it’s how it was mean to be seen. Strong acting, good cinematography and very solid directing – combined with some shockingly brutal scenes – this movie is a one you will hardly forget soon in a good way.

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REVIEW: FRACTURE

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Ryan Gosling (Young Hercules)
David Strathairn (The Bourne Legacy)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Emebth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Billy Burke (Red Riding Hood)
Cliff Curtis (Fear The Walking Dead)
Fiona Shaw (Pixels)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil)
Josh Stamberg (J. Edgar)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks)

Theodore “Ted” Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy and talented Irish aeronautical engineer in Los Angeles, discovers that his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is having an affair with police detective Robert Nunally (Billy Burke). After confronting his wife, Crawford shoots her, seriously wounding her. Police arrive on the scene, including Nunally. Nunally enters the house and convinces Crawford that they should both put down their guns and Crawford confesses he shot his wife.Crawford engages in a battle of wits with rising star deputy district attorney William “Willy” Beachum (Ryan Gosling), who considers this an open-and-shut matter and agrees to go to trial immediately. Beachum is busy making preparations for his transition from criminal law to corporate attorney for Wooton & Simms, a well-known law firm, and begins a romantic relationship with his future boss, Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike). At the trial, Crawford acts as his own attorney, thereby matching up a star prosecutor against a supposedly untrained litigant. Crawford reveals that the arresting officer (Nunally) was having an affair with his wife, assaulted him during his arrest, and was present during his interrogation. Crawford’s confession is ruled to be inadmissible as evidence, as it was fruit of the poisonous tree. Beachum discovers that Crawford’s handgun was not used to shoot his wife because it had never been fired and did not match the shell casings at the crime scene. As the house was under surveillance the entire time from the shooting to Crawford’s arrest, the police are baffled. Beachum is tempted by Nunally’s scheme to plant false evidence to implicate Crawford but decides against it at the last minute. With no new evidence to present to the jury, Beachum is forced to concede the trial, and Crawford is acquitted. The disgraced Nunally commits suicide outside the courtroom.After the trial, Beachum’s future with the prestigious firm is in tatters. However, he also begins to see his job as a D.A. as a means of fighting injustice for those like Crawford’s wife. Crawford himself observes this change, joking scathingly that Beachum has “found God”. This motivates Beachum to continue searching for evidence almost obsessively. Realizing that Crawford’s plan is to dispose of the only eyewitness to the crime, Beachum obtains a court order to keep Jennifer on life support. Beachum arrives at the hospital but is unable to prevent staff turning off Jennifer’s life support.18765967_1951210205111514_2812412988692009523_nA mix-up of cell phones causes Beachum to realize that both Nunally and Crawford used the same type of gun, a .45 caliber Glock 21. He figures out that before the crime Crawford switched his gun with Nunally’s in a hotel room where Jennifer and Nunally secretly met. Crawford shot his wife with Nunally’s gun, and then reloaded it. The detective arrived on the scene carrying Crawford’s gun, and both Crawford and Nunally laid their weapons down as a preliminary move in hostage negotiations. When Nunally became aware of who the shooting victim was, and tried to revive Jennifer, Crawford switched the guns, retrieving his own unused gun. When Crawford appeared in the room brandishing his gun, Nunally tackles and assaulted him before Crawford’s arrest. Nunally unwittingly holstered the murder weapon, letting the unused gun be taken as evidence.0a1c07c4213b7af8c284a06c9b4078e5Beachum confronts Crawford with his new evidence. Since she has now died, the bullet lodged in Jennifer’s head can now be retrieved and matched with Nunally’s gun. Crawford confesses, assuming himself to be protected under the Double Jeopardy Clause. However, Beachum reveals that by allowing his wife to die, Crawford can now be prosecuted for murder, having previously been tried merely for attempted murder. Since he had taken Jennifer off life support, new charges can be filed against Crawford and a new trial can be set. Crawford is arrested by the waiting police. The film ends with a new trial about to begin, where Beachum prosecutes and Crawford is surrounded by a group of high-priced defense attorneys of Wooton & Simms.I thought the intellectual chess game between Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling was pure joy. What a pleasure to watch the two play mind games with each other — with the audience in on the action. I Thought the pace was good, the direction suspenseful. I highly recommend it to those interested in movies that make you think.

REVIEW: MURDER BY NUMBERS

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Michael Pitt (The Dreamers)
Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
R. D. Call (Waterworld)
Chris Penn (After The Sunset)
Tom Verica (Red Dragon)

Richard Haywood (Gosling) and Justin Pendleton (Pitt) are high school classmates; Richard is wealthy and popular, while Justin is a brilliant introvert. After months of planning a “perfect crime”, they abduct a woman at random, strangle her, and plant evidence implicating Richard’s marijuana dealer, janitor Ray Feathers (Chris Penn). Detective Cassie Mayweather (Bullock) and her new partner, Sam Kennedy (Chaplin) investigate. Cassie sleeps with Sam early on—as she has with previous partners—but won’t let him see her chest, and curtly sends him home afterward.

Footprints at the crime scene lead to Richard, and vomit nearby implicates Justin. Both have alibis, and deny knowing each other, but Cassie is convinced that Richard is the murderer and Justin is involved. Sam criticizes her refusal to consider other suspects, as most of the physical evidence points away from the two boys. Cassie’s boss, Captain Rod Cody (R. D. Call), and her cuckolded ex, Assistant D.A. Al Swanson (Tom Verica), fearing Richard’s influential parents, take Cassie off the case. Sam, following the (planted) evidence, tracks down Ray. When Ray is found dead, apparently a suicide (actually killed by Richard), the woman’s murder appears solved; but Sam decides that Cassie may be right, and continues the investigation.

Justin, who has a crush on classmate Lisa Mills (Agnes Bruckner), works up the courage to ask her out. A jealous Richard seduces Lisa, then gives Justin a video clip of the two having sex. Justin is enraged, but regains control, knowing Sam is still watching them. Cassie begins receiving calls from her ex-husband, Carl Hudson, who went to prison for stabbing her in the chest 17 times. His parole hearing is coming up, and he wants her to speak on his behalf. Cassie confides to Sam that although she became a cop to prove to herself that she wasn’t a victim, she is terrified at the prospect of seeing Carl again. She also confesses that Richard reminds her of Carl—which is why she is convinced of Richard’s guilt, and obsessed with proving it.

Sam and Cassie bring Richard and Justin in for separate interrogations, trying to induce each to implicate the other, but neither will talk, and both are released. At the victim’s home, Cassie determines how the boys carried out the abduction and altered the physical evidence. Justin and Richard, knowing that Cassie is closing in on them, flee to an abandoned house, where Richard produces two pistols and proposes a mutual suicide. On the count of three, Justin shoots (into the air), but Richard does not. Justin demands to see Richard’s gun—which is unloaded. As a furious Justin is about to shoot Richard, Cassie arrives. Richard grabs Justin’s gun and shoots at Cassie, wounding Justin instead. Cassie gives chase and tackles Richard on a rickety balcony jutting out over a cliff. As Richard strangles Cassie, the balcony gives way and Richard falls to his death. Justin grabs Cassie, who is hanging on the edge of the balcony, and pulls her back into the house.

Cassie assures Justin that she will intercede on his behalf, since he was an innocent dupe, manipulated by the ruthless Richard. Then she notices a mark on her neck caused by Richard’s large ring, and realizes that the dead woman’s neck did not have a similar mark. Confronted with the evidence, Justin confesses that he strangled the victim to prove his “courage” to Richard. In the closing scene, Cassie faces her fears and enters the courtroom to testify at Carl’s parole hearing. The bailiff calls her to the stand by her legal name: Jessica Marie Hudson.

Schroeder does not build his film visually. It has a conventional TV movie feel to it and, despite being well played, Pitt’s nerdy all-knowing geek is a bit too formulaic. But the film holds you nevertheless. Schroeder displays a storyteller’s gift for how things should develop, And as the cock-of-the-walk arrogant yet vulnerable rich kid killer Ryan Gosling is the real McCoy. He can convey charm and menace in equal measure and often in the same moment and confirms his status as one of the best actors in movies.

REVIEW: GOOSEBUMPS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

 

 

 

 

 

NOTABLE CAST MEMBERS

R.L. Stine
Kathryn Long (Crossing The Line)
Colin Fox (Scanners III)
Anne Marie Deluise (Smallville)
John White (American Pie: Beta House)
Kristine Boone (Mean Girls)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
Chris Benson (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
Michèle Duquet (The Virgin Suicides)
Boyd Banks (Dawn of The Dead)
Erica Luttrell (Stargate: Atlantis)
Daniel DeSanto (Totally Spies)
Maggie Castle (The Time Traveller’s Wife)
Blake McGrath (Chicago)
Barclay Hope (Stargate SG.1)
Suzanne Cyr (Cake)
Katharine Isabelle (American Mary)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Ryan Gosling (Young Hercules)
Scott Speedman (Underworld)
Corey Sevier (Immortals)
Brendan Fletcher (Bloodrayne 3)
Don Francks (La Femme Nikita)
Maria Ricossa (American Pie: The NAked Mile)
Melody Johnson (Jason X)
Maurice Godin (Boat Trip)
Adam West (Batman 60S)
Tabitha Lupien (Ready or Not)
Charlotte Sullivan (Rookie Blue)
Kevin Zegers (Wrong Turn)
Michael Copeman (The Fly)
Kris Lemche (Final Destination 3)
Kyle Labine (Freddy vs Jason)
Joy Tanner (Mutant X)
Lori Alter (House at The End of The Street)
Desmond Campbell (The Bone COllector)
Amy Stewart (Ice Princess)
A.J. Cook (Ripper)
Hayden Christensen (Star Wars – Episode 2 & 3)
Jordan Prentice (Mirror, Mirror)
Brooke Nevin (I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Lauara Vandervoort (Bitten)
Shawn Roberts (X-Men)
Victor A. Young (Earth: Final Conflict)
Terra Vnesa (Wrong Turn 4)
Janet-Laine Green (Cowboys Don’t Cry)
Caterina Scorsone (Alice)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)
Nicole Underhay (Saving Hope)
Fiona Highet (Saint Ralph)
Yani Gellman (Izombie)

Goosebumps Complete Collection is a box-set that contains all four seasons of the old 1990’s television show, Goosebumps. Goosebumps is a family horror show that tells tales in an episodic format much like the shows The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964) and Tales From the Crypt (1989 – 1996). The episodes themselves are all based on the Goosebumps books and some episodes are even hosted by the author of the books, R.L. Stine. Some of the tales of terror you can expect in this show includes: A girls unfortunate experience with a haunted Halloween mask.  An evil dummy trying to get people in trouble.  A story of an evil comic book villain coming to life.  A young boy’s adventure in the jungle with a shrunken head.  Several episodes about werewolves.  A bunch of ghost tales.  Plus way too many more to even mention as it’s the complete collection.
I really enjoyed watching this again after so many years. I remember watching it on  Fox Kids way back in the day and was very excited when I heard it was finally getting a DVD release. for the first season Each episode has a different story about different characters, except for the 2 parters, and it’s always a whole lot of fun to watch. It’s sometimes scary and sometimes funny and all around really nostalgic and awesome.
The writing improves greatly in season two onwards and it becomes a much more entertaining show with stories that you can really get into.  The characters become more interesting, the acting becomes much better, and the show becomes more scary.  There will still be a bad plot twist here and there and they are just as painful to watch.  Season three is a season that I have some weird feelings towards as it likes to use references to prior episodes.  Some references I have no problem with but there are a lot that feel grossly out of place to where it feels very weird and awkward.

Season four is the smallest of all of the seasons as it only ran for eight episodes but that doesn’t mean that it is lacking everywhere else.  The last season is made up of four two-part episodes and the writing was really good as the two-part format really helped to make the stories more fleshed out and more in-depth.  The season four episodes are also much tighter and also push the boundaries a bit more to where it looked like that they were aiming it towards teenagers.  Season four was very entertaining and you will be drawn into it.  Season four was so well done, it became my favorite season out of the lot and is really worth checking out.
8 ways Goosebumps will stay with you forever
Classic episodes include “Welcome to Dead House”, it is about a family that moves into a house in a town that is ran by ghouls.  This episode is much more scary than what I make it out to be, the reason why was because the atmosphere is brilliant and the way the story progresses will leave you on the edge of your seat.  There are two other episodes that still spooks people out but not as spooky as the episode that I mentioned before.  Those two episodes are, “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp” and “Ghost Beach” and I am very surprised that all the episodes I mentioned above got away with what they did as those episodes certainly push the boundaries to what kids shows can get away with.  Those episodes are probably the reason why this show is now released with an M15+ rating, opposed to the G and PG rating it got back in the day.

The standard episodes and movie length episodes do have a difference in looks to them.  The standard episodes look like that they were made on the cheap, while the movie length episodes were made on a much higher budget and have a better look to them.  Actually, that’s not fully true as all of the season four episodes look much nicer in budget than seasons one – three, but not as good quality as the movie length episodes.  This show doesn’t simply cover horror as there are some episodes that cover other genres like: Science-fiction (“Say Cheese and Die”, “Say Cheese and Die… Again”), adventure (“How I Got My Shrunken Head”), drama (“The Ghost Next Door”), and even comic book styled action (“Attack of the Mutant”).  I must admit that it is weird seeing other genres other than horror in this show but it was all done well and adds variety and freshness to the show.

The green screen and computer effects have aged poorly to where you can’t take them seriously and will laugh every time you see them.  Some of them are too painful to even witness but most of them are just so bad that it is fun to watch.  The prop effects look so much better and those are things you will mostly take seriously.  The props are mostly very spooky looking and will send chills down your spine but there is also a good chunk where the props aren’t very frightening at all and just end up looking stupid, not as stupid as the green screen and computer effects though.  The music in this series has a lot of tracks that sounded terrible and goofy but they all go with the show very well and help build up an atmosphere.  The most classic tune of them all just has to be the Goosebumps theme as it puts you in the mood and is also very memorable.Overall, this show has aged (as you’d expect) but it is still full of some really good stuff that is worth watching all these years later.  Classic show.

REVIEW: DRIVE (2011)

CAST
Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)
Carey Mulligan (Wall Street 2)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Albert Brooks (This Is 40)
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
The unnamed driver (Ryan Gosling), who lives in an Echo Park, Los Angeles apartment, works repairing cars and as a part-time movie double. Managed in both jobs by auto shop owner Shannon (Bryan Cranston), the duo also provides a getaway driver service. With Shannon organizing the events, the driver gives criminals only five minutes to perpetrate robberies and reach his car. After meeting his new neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), the driver soon becomes close to her and befriends her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos), while Irene’s husband, Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac), is in prison. After her husband is freed, Irene still asks the driver to visit them.
Shannon persuades Jewish mobsters Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman) to purchase a stock car chassis and build it for the driver to race. Irene’s husband, owing protection money from his time in prison, is beaten up by Albanian gangster Cook (James Biberi), who demands that Standard rob a pawnshop for $40,000 to pay the debt. The gangster gives the young boy Benicio a bullet as a symbol that he and his mother are in danger. The driver, concerned for the safety of Irene and Benicio, steals a Ford Mustang and offers to act as the getaway driver for the pawnshop job.
While waiting for Standard and Cook’s accomplice Blanche (Christina Hendricks) to complete the heist, the driver sees a custom Chrysler 300 pull into the parking lot. Blanche returns with a large bag, but Standard is shot in the back several times and killed by the pawnshop owner. The driver flees with Blanche and the money. They are pursued by the Chrysler, which bumps them but skids in the fast turns and eventually spins out. Eluding the other vehicle, the driver hides with Blanche in a motel. Learning that the bag contains a million dollars, yet the TV news reports the robbery as no money stolen, the driver threatens to beat Blanche, forcing her to admit she and Cook planned to re-steal the mysterious money with the Chrysler. Minutes later, two of Cook’s men ambush them in the motel room, killing Blanche and injuring the driver before he manages to kill them both.
At the auto shop, the driver’s arm is bandaged from the shotgun pellets; Shannon offers to hide the money, but the driver refuses. He hunts down Cook in a strip club, smashes his fingers with a hammer, and threatens to kill him, forcefeeding him the bullet that was given to Benicio; Cook reveals that Nino was behind the robbery. The driver decides to return the million but Nino dismisses the offer and instead sends a hitman (Jeff Wolfe) to the driver’s apartment building. Entering the elevator with Irene, the driver encounters the hitman and spots his pistol. The driver kisses Irene and then brutally beats the hitman to death. Irene exits horrified and stunned.
In his pizzeria, Nino reveals to Bernie that the money was stashed at the pawn shop by a low level Philadelphia wise guy from the “East Coast mob” and since anyone tied to the robbery could lead the East Coast Mafia to them, they need to kill everyone involved. Bernie warns Nino that nobody steals from the Italian Mob. Nino becomes angered and explains how the Italian Mob has, in part due to his Jewish heritage, continually marginalized and insulted him. At the end, he convinces Bernie to follow his plan. Bernie then proceeds to murder Cook with cutlery from the restaurant, as he is the sole witness to their agreement. After Shannon refuses to divulge the whereabouts of the driver, Bernie kills him at the auto shop with a straight razor from his collection of killing tools.
The driver, disguising himself with a rubber mask from his stuntman job, follows Nino from the pizzeria to the Pacific Coast Highway and T-bones Nino’s car onto a beach, then chases him from the wreck to the ocean and drowns him. The driver goes to meet Bernie at a Chinese restaurant. He makes a phone call to Irene to tell her he is leaving, saying that meeting her and Benicio was the best thing that ever happened to him. At the restaurant, Bernie promises that Irene will be safe in exchange for the money, but warns the driver must always be on the run. At his car, the driver gives Bernie the money but Bernie attempts to kill him, stabbing him in the stomach. The driver survives and fatally stabs Bernie in the neck, then drives away, abandoning the money bag alongside Bernie’s body. Irene knocks at the driver’s apartment, but gets no response. The driver is shown driving away into the night, closing the film.
This is one of the most impressive movies I have ever seen and I will explain why. The cinematography in this movie is flawless with beautiful long lasting shots that really add to the dark vibe running through the movie and car sequences filmed better than any other movie I have seen. The story is also a huge plus in this movie and despite the movie being a decent length it does a great job at introducing the main characters and through fantastic screenplay you can understand the characters and their motives, the pacing is spot on as well which really helps with immersion and I was engaged through out the movie. Also through Ryan Gosling’s fantastic performance and brilliant direction by Nicolas Refn you learn so much about the “the driver” played by Gosling through facial expressions and hand gestures that tell you how he feels in a certain situation whether it be very panicked, calm or angry and he is also a likeable character as well despite him saying so little. Other great performances in this movie from Bryan Cranston as always, also great performances from Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman who play convincing villain’s and also think Carey Mulligan was great in this movie as well. But the most impressive thing in this movie is how nothing feels fake whether it may small irrelevant things like what a character may say or action they do usually through violence you can see this has a genuine effect on a character and it is something they don’t enjoy doing but have no choice specially with the one the villain’s Albert Brooks and Gosling as well. lastly I want to mention the score which is very 80’s like but is very catchy and also has meaning through out the movie as well. Overall this movie doesn’t gloss over anything whether it may the violence or anything else this movie is hugely entertaining movie and engaging movie which by far deserves a 5/5 in my opinion and despite it not being for everyone. if you like slower paced movies which are thrilling, violent, dark, extremely engaging and have compelling characters this is for you

REVIEW: HALF NELSON

CAST
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Shareeka Epps (Aliens vs Predator: Requiem)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (Lie To Me)
Tina Holmes (Shelter)
Denis O’Hare (The Proposal)
Deborah Rush (The Good Girl)
Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a young middle-school history teacher at a Brooklyn school, with a teaching style that rejects the standard curriculum in favor of an approach based upon dialectics (specifically Engels’ three laws of dialectics, though this is never referred to by name). Though he seems to have it all together in the classroom, on his own time he is found frequently snorting and freebasing cocaine. After a basketball game, Dan’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Tina Holmes) turns up, evoking emotions that he cannot handle. A short while later, one of his students (and a player on the girls’ basketball team he coaches), Drey (Shareeka Epps), catches him getting high in the locker room.
Meanwhile, Drey has to deal with a single-mother (Karen Chilton) who is always at work, a brother, Mike (Collins Pennie), who is in prison for selling drugs for neighborhood dealer, Frank (Anthony Mackie) and an absent father. Drey’s lack of supervision makes her a target for Frank’s operation and he encourages her to become involved in his business.
As Dan and Drey begin to get a better understanding of each other as friends, they both know what the other one should stay away from and what they need, but is struggling to get by themselves. Dan perceives that Frank is a bad influence on Drey and tries to intercede on numerous occasions. And Drey tries to get Dan to open up about his drug habit to no avail as he feels uncomfortable talking with a student about it. After a tense conversation with Frank about Drey, Dan goes to Isabel’s (Monique Gabriela Curnen) house, another teacher at the school, with whom he had one previous date. He forces himself on her, trying to right his apparent disinterest in her on their last date, but after she defends herself and runs off, he feels bad and decides to leave. The following day, he further takes his stress out on Drey, telling her to talk to friends her own age when she finds him, hoping to hang out. Drey, a little upset at this, is pushed further into the company of Frank, and he has her do her first drug deal.
Dan goes to his parents’ house for dinner, where his brother, Jeff, and his girlfriend, Cindy, also attend. He says little, and does not enjoy himself much, but a joke of Jeff’s that Cindy tells him makes him laugh. The same night, Drey is out with Frank, dealing. In the film’s pinnacle scene, Drey arrives at a place to deliver some drugs and walks in to a room of stoned drug users. The person revealed to be the buyer is Dan as he walks out of the back room and slumps down at the sight of Drey being the drug runner. There is only a slight shameful nod from him as he holds out the money to hand to her for the drugs. This exchange is the culmination of what each was trying to get the other to stay away from, and is finally brought to its climax by them encountering the other doing just that. The next day, Dan is not at school, and his students are told that he is being replaced by a Mr. Light, without much explanation. This changes something within Drey as she refuses a lift home from Frank, choosing to turn from that path.
She knocks on Dan’s door and he answers. He goes into the bathroom, shaves and cleans himself up, before sitting down to drink a glass of water. Drey sits down and joins him. The film ends with Dan telling the same joke he heard from Cindy, but the timing is all wrong. Drey says, “That was horrible”, and they both laugh.
Half Nelson is a masterpiece film, emotionally purgative and hypnotically realistic; its depiction of people who only experience fleeting moments of happiness in a retrogressive, bleak world is so realistic that it is visually and spiritually and emotionally soul-shattering.

REVIEW: THE NOTEBOOK

CAST

Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls)
Gena Rowlands (The Skeleton Key)
James Garner (The Great Escape)
Ed Grady (Lolita)
Kevin Connolly (The Ugly Truth)
Joan Allen (Manhunter)
James Marsden (Superman Returns)

At a modern-day nursing home, an elderly man named Duke (James Garner) begins to read a romantic story from his notebook to a fellow patient (Gena Rowlands). The story he tells begins in the 1940s, in Seabrook Island, South Carolina. Local country boy Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) is smitten with seventeen-year-old heiress Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) after seeing her at a carnival, and they share an idyllic summer love affair. Noah takes Allie to an abandoned house, explaining that he intends to buy it for them. Later that evening, she asks him to make love to her, but they are interrupted by Noah’s friend Fin (Kevin Connolly) with the news that Allie’s parents have the police out looking for her.

When Allie and Noah return to her parents’ mansion, they ban her from seeing Noah. In a heated argument, Allie’s mother calls Noah “trash, trash, trash” and Noah overhears. Upset, he walks out and Allie chases after him. The ensuing argument between the two ends in a break up and the next morning, Allie’s mother, Ann (Joan Allen) announces that the family is returning home to Charleston. Allie attempts to contact Noah, but is unable to find him. She asks Fin to tell Noah that she loves him before driving home. When Noah gets Allie’s message he rushes over to the family’s house only to find it empty.

Noah and Allie have no choice but to move on with their lives. Noah writes to Allie every day for a year, but never receives a response. Heartbroken, Noah enlists with Fin to fight in World War II. Fin is killed in battle. Meanwhile, Allie volunteers in a hospital for wounded soldiers, where she meets an officer named Lon Hammond, Jr. (James Marsden), a young lawyer who is handsome, sophisticated, charming and comes from old Southern money. The two eventually become engaged, to the delight of Allie’s parents, but Allie sees Noah’s face when Lon asks her to marry him. When Noah returns home from the war, he discovers his father has sold their home so that Noah can buy the abandoned house, fulfilling his lifelong dream to buy it for Allie, whom he has neither seen nor heard from for several years. While visiting Charleston, Noah witnesses Allie and Lon kissing at a restaurant; he convinces himself that if he restores the house, Allie will come back to him. Later, Allie is startled to read in the newspaper that Noah has completed the house to the specifications she’d made years prior, and she visits him in Seabrook.

In the present, it is revealed that the elderly woman is Allie, who is suffering from dementia. Duke is her husband, but Allie does not recognize him, nor remember any of the events Duke is reading to her. Back in the forties, Allie returns to Seabrook to find Noah living in the restored house. The two renew their relationship and make love. In the morning, Ann appears on Noah’s doorstep, warning Allie that Lon has followed her to Seabrook. She gives Allie the letters that Noah had written to her, admitting that she had hidden them from Allie. Ann reveals that in her youth she, too, had been in love with a lower class young man and that she still thinks of him. Allie confesses to Lon that she has been spending time with Noah. He is upset but says that he still loves her. Allie tells him she knows she should be with him, but she remains indecisive.

In the present, Allie briefly becomes lucid. She remembers that the story Duke is reading is the story of how they met. Duke tells her how she appeared at Noah’s doorstep with her belongings, having left Lon at the hotel, and Allie suddenly remembers her past. At the onset of her dementia, she wrote their love story in the notebook with instructions for Noah to “read this to me, and I’ll come back to you.” But Allie soon relapses, losing her memories of Noah. She panics, not understanding who he is, and has to be sedated. Duke – who is in fact Noah – is hospitalized with what seems to be a heart attack. When he is released from the hospital, Noah visits Allie and finds her lucid again. Allie asks Noah what will happen to them when she loses her memory completely, and he reassures her that he will never leave her. She asks him if he thinks their love for each other is strong enough to “take them away together”; he replies that he thinks their love can do anything. After each tells the other that they love them, they both go to sleep in Allie’s bed. The next morning a nurse finds that they have died peacefully in bed together.

Both Ryan and Rachel were perfectly matched for this absolutely. Brilliant acting by both characters and wonderful storyline.