REVIEW: HITCHCOCK (2012)

 

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Helen Mirren (Red)
Scarlett Johansson (Ghost In The Shell)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Toni Collette (Krampus)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Lincoln)
Michael Wincott (Romeo Is Bleeding)
Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
Richard Portnow (Kindergarten Cop)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Ralph Macchio (Ugly Betty)
Wallace Langham (CSI)
Currie Graham (Stargate: The Ark of Truth)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Lindsey Ginter (Argo)

In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock opens his latest film, North by Northwest, to considerable success, but is troubled by a reporter’s insinuation that he should retire. Seeking to reclaim the artistic daring of his youth, Hitchcock turns down film proposals, including Casino Royale and The Diary of Anne Frank, in favor of a horror novel called Psycho by Robert Bloch, based on the real-life crimes of murderer Ed Gein. Gein appears in sequences throughout the film, in which he seems to prompt Hitchcock’s imagination regarding the Psycho story, or act as some function of Hitchcock’s subconscious mind (for instance, drawing Hitchcock’s attention to sand on his bathroom floor, the quantity of which reveals how much time his wife Alma has been spending at the beachhouse with Whitfield Cook).Hitchcock’s wife and artistic collaborator, Alma, is no more enthusiastic about the idea than his colleagues, especially since she is being lobbied by their writer friend, Whitfield Cook, to look at his own screenplay. However, she warms to Hitchcock’s proposal, suggesting the innovative plot turn of killing the female lead early in the film. The studio heads at Paramount prove more difficult to persuade, forcing Hitchcock to finance the film personally and use his Alfred Hitchcock Presents television crew (over at competitor Revue/Universal) to produce the film, his last with Paramount.However, the pressures of the production, such as dealing with Geoffrey Shurlock of the Motion Picture Production Code, and Hitchcock’s lecherous habits, such as when they confer with the female lead, Janet Leigh, annoy Alma. She begins a personal writing collaboration with Whitfield Cook on his screenplay at his beach house without Hitchcock’s knowledge. Hitchcock eventually discovers what she has been doing and suspects her of having an affair. This concern affects Hitchcock’s work on Psycho. Hitchcock eventually confronts Alma and asks her if she is having an affair. Alma angrily denies it. Alma temporarily takes over production of the film when Hitchcock is bedridden after collapsing from overwork, but this sequence, which included a complicated process shot showing Arbogast’s demise, with Alma’s specification of a 35mm lens, instead of the 50mm lens preferred by Hitchcock for this film, proved to be the least effective in the film.Meanwhile, Hitchcock expresses his disappointment to Vera Miles at how she didn’t follow through on his plan to make her the next biggest star after Grace Kelly; but Miles says she is happy with her family life. Hitchcock’s cut of Psycho is poorly received by the studio executives, while Alma discovers Whitfield having sex with a younger woman at his beach house. Hitchcock and Alma reconcile and set to work on improving the film. Their renewed collaboration yields results, culminating in Alma convincing Hitchcock to accept their composer’s suggestion for adding Bernard Herrmann’s harsh strings score to the shower scene.After maneuvering Shurlock into leaving the film’s content largely intact, Hitchcock learns the studio is only going to exhibit the film in two theaters. Hitchcock arranges for special theater instructions to pique the public’s interest such as forbidding admittance after the film begins. At the film’s premiere, Hitchcock first views the audience from the projection booth, looking out through its small window at the audience (a scene which recalls his spying on his leading actresses undressing earlier in the film–by looking through a hole cut in the dressing room wall–which itself is a voyeuristic motif included in the film of Psycho). Hitchcock then waits in the lobby for the audience’s reaction, conducting slashing motions to their reactions as they scream on cue. The film is rewarded with an enthusiastic reception. With the film’s screening being so well received, Hitchcock publicly thanks his wife afterward for helping make it possible and they affirm their love. At the conclusion at his home, Hitchcock addresses the audience noting Psycho proved a major high point of his career and he is currently pondering his next project. A raven lands on his shoulder as a reference to The Birds, before turning to meet with his wife.The final title cards say that Hitchcock directed six more films after Psycho, none of which would eclipse its commercial success, and although he never won an Oscar, the American Film Institute awarded him its Life Achievement Award in 1979: an award that he claimed he shared, as he had his life, with his wife, Alma.Overall, honestly, I know Hitchcock isn’t a perfect film. No film is. But, I love the film for it’s dramatic and whimsical aspects, the phenomenal acting, score, screenplay, camera-work, and the way the film was done as a whole. If you love/like Psycho, or just enjoy learning about the man known as The Master of Suspense, give this film a go.

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REVIEW: GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017)

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CAST

Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Takeshi Kitano (Boiling Point)
Michael Pitt (Hannibal)
Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones)
Chin Han (The Dark Knight)
Juliette Binoche (The 33)
Peter Ferdinando (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Lasarus Ratuere (Mabo)
Anamaria Marinca (Fury)
Michael Wincott (The Crow)
Daniel Henshall (Okja)
Rila Fukushima (Arrow)

In the near future, the vast majority of humans are augmented with cybernetics, enhancing various traits like vision, strength, and intelligence. Hanka Robotics, the world’s leading developer of augmentative technology, establishes a secret project to develop a mechanical body, or “shell”, that can integrate a human brain rather than an AI. Mira Killian, a young woman who is the sole survivor of the cyberterrorist attack which killed her parents, is chosen as the test subject after her body is apparently damaged beyond repair. Over the objections of her designer, Dr. Ouelet, Hanka CEO Cutter decides to use Killian as a counter-terrorism operative.A year later, Killian has attained the rank of Major in the anti-terrorist bureau Section 9, working alongside operatives Batou and Togusa under Chief Daisuke Aramaki. The team successfully thwarts a terrorist attack on a Hanka business conference, and Killian destroys a rogue mechanical geisha after it murders a hostage. Killian, who has been experiencing hallucinations that Ouelet dismisses as glitches, is becoming increasingly bothered by how little she remembers about her past. After learning that the geisha was hacked by an unknown entity, known only as Kuze, Killian breaks protocol and “dives” into its AI for answers. The entity attempts a counter-hack, and Batou is forced to disconnect her. Using the information she was able to gather, the two trace the hacker to a Yakuza nightclub, where they are lured into a trap. The resulting explosion destroys Batou’s eyes, and leaves Killian’s body severely damaged. Cutter is enraged by Killian’s actions, and threatens to have Section 9 shut down unless Aramaki keeps her in line.Kuze tracks down Section 9’s Hanka consultant, Dr. Dahlin, and kills her. The team links her murder to the deaths of other senior company researchers, and realize that Dr. Ouelet is the next target. Kuze takes control of two sanitation workers and sends them to kill Ouelet. Batou, now with cybernetic eyes, kills one of them while the repaired Killian subdues the other. During interrogation, Kuze briefly speaks through the surviving worker before compelling him to commit suicide. Togusa traces the hack to a secret location, where the team discovers a large number of humans mentally linked together as a makeshift signal network. Killian is captured, and Kuze reveals that he is a failed Hanka test subject from the same project that created Killian, otherwise known as 2571. He urges her to question her own memories before freeing her and escaping.Killian confronts Ouelet, who admits there were 98 test subjects before Killian but she was the only one to survive the process and that her memories are fake implanted ones. Cutter has decided that Killian is too much of a liability, and orders Ouelet to euthanize her after she returns to Hanka Robotics. Instead, Ouelet gives Killian an address and helps her escape. Cutter kills Ouelet, but blames Killian, saying that she has gone rogue. He subsequently informs Aramaki and the team that Killian must be terminated by any means necessary.Killian follows the address to an apartment occupied by a widowed mother, who reveals that her daughter, Motoko Kusanagi, ran away from home a year ago and was arrested, before taking her own life while in custody. Unable to process her emotions, Killian leaves and contacts Aramaki, who intentionally allows Cutter to eavesdrop on their conversation. Batou, Togusa, and Aramaki each eliminate Cutter’s men trying to ambush them, while Killian follows her memories to the hideaway where Motoko was last seen. There, she and Kuze meet, and recall their past lives as anti-augmentation radicals who were abducted by Hanka for use as test subjects.Cutter deploys a “spider-tank” to kill them, and Kuze nearly dies before Killian is able to tear off the tank’s motor, losing her left arm in the process. Mortally wounded, Kuze offers to merge his “ghost” with Killian’s before a Hanka sniper kills him. Batou and the team rescue Killian, while Aramaki executes Cutter with Killian’s consent. The next day, Killian, now repaired and embracing her true identity as Motoko, reconnects with her mother before returning to work with Section 9.I came into this movie not knowing anything about it, besides the fact that it was an adaption. I was absolutely blown away. The look, the story, the acting, all spectacular. I enjoyed every second. I felt every emotion. I was amazed by every visual. I walked away from the film in awe.

REVIEW: HAIL, CAESAR!

CAST

George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex)
Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Alison Pill (Scott PIlgrim vs The World)
Emily Beecham (Bon Voyage)
Heather Goldenhersh (The Class)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Fred Melamed (The Dictator)
Patrick Fischler (Old School)
David Krumholtz (Mom)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow0
Robert Pciardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Natasha Bassett (Britney Ever AFter)
Dolph Lundgren (Arrow)
Robert Trebor (Hercules: TLJ)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)

In 1951, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the head of physical production at Capitol Pictures and also works as a “fixer” to keep the scandalous behavior of its stars out of the press. He often has to fend off inquiries from Thora and Thessaly Thacker (both played by Tilda Swinton), twin sisters and rival gossip columnists. The Lockheed Corporation has been courting him with an offer of a high-level executive position, but he is unsure about taking it. When unmarried synchronised swimming actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) becomes pregnant, Mannix arranges for her to put the baby in foster care, and then adopt it without revealing herself as the mother. The studio’s major production is Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ, an epic set in ancient Roman times and starring Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). During a shot, Whitlock drinks from a goblet of wine that was drugged by an extra (Wayne Knight); he passes out while rehearsing lines by himself behind the soundstage and is abducted. A ransom note soon arrives, written by a group calling itself “The Future,” demanding $100,000. Mannix arranges to get the money from the studio’s Accounting Department, as “petty cash.”
Whitlock awakens in a beach house and finds his way into a meeting of The Future, a Communist cell. The members, who introduce themselves as mostly writers in the motion picture industry, explain their doctrine to him and begin to win him over to their cause. At the same time, Thora threatens Mannix by stating she will release an article about a scandal involving the earlier film On Wings As Eagles, which gave Whitlock his break-out role. Mannix successfully negotiates for her to postpone the story by a day in exchange for information about the romantic life of singing Western film star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich). Doyle is cast in a period drama helmed by posh director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) in an attempt by the studio to broaden his appeal. After Doyle’s initial performance is hopelessly incompetent, Laurentz visits Mannix and asks him to remove Doyle from the project so that Laurentz can preserve his artistic vision for the film. Mannix informs Laurentz that Doyle’s role is non-negotiable and convinces him to coach the young actor to give a better performance. Doyle comes to Mannix’s office and admits that he feels the part is too far outside his comfort zone. Mannix reassures him that he has the needed acting abilities and tells him about Whitlock’s kidnapping.
That evening, Doyle attends the premiere of one of his own Westerns with starlet Carlotta Valdez (Verónica Osorio), per instructions from Mannix. Doyle is initially disappointed that his lone singing scene is depicted in a comedic manner, rather than as heartfelt as he intended. However, after seeing the audience react positively to the scene, Doyle warms to it himself. Doyle and Valdez visit a nightclub, where the pair are genuinely developing chemistry until they are interrupted by both Thacker sisters, each looking to get a scoop on their relationship. Doyle suddenly spots the briefcase containing the ransom money, recognizing it because he had lent Mannix his belt to keep it closed. It is being carried by Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), the star of a sailor musical comedy depicted earlier in an elaborate dancing scene. Mannix and Moran meet with a surety agent, Joseph Silverman (Jonah Hill), an average man whom the studio has used to solve public problems; he has a solid reputation as completely dependable, reliable, and discreet. He will agree to provide foster care for Moran’s child, preserving her image. Moran, who expressed frustration with her previous two marriages with a mobster and a Hollywood type, finds herself strongly attracted to Silverman.
Doyle follows Gurney to the beach house in Malibu but, after walking in the front door, finds only Whitlock inside. The rest of The Future’s members have rowed a boat containing Gurney offshore so that he can rendezvous with a Soviet submarine and defect to Russia. The members of The Future give him the money for the Communist cause. As Gurney boards the submarine, his dog jumps into his arms, causing him to drop the briefcase, which sinks into the ocean. Doyle takes Whitlock back to the studio just before the police arrive at the beach house to arrest the group, after Mannix’s investigation led him to the house. Whitlock tries to explain his new-found Communist leanings to Mannix, who cuts him off sharply, slapping his face numerous times, and orders him to finish his role in Hail, Caesar!; the actor is chastened, but encouraged by a final directive from Mannix to be a movie star.
Mannix is notified the next morning that Moran married Silverman who will adopt the child with her. Mannix announces he has decided to reject the Lockheed offer and continue working at Capitol. Thora then meets with Mannix and informs him that the column she plans to publish about On Wings As Eagles will reveal that Whitlock got his major role in the film by having sex with Laurentz. However, Mannix has deduced that Gurney is her source for the piece and persuades her to not run the story since Gurney is a Communist who has defected—which would cause her own reputation to suffer by association. Mannix leaves the worried-looking Thora, secure in his station in life.I think that you need to be something of a film buff to really enjoy this Coen Brothers offering, which is an affectionate homage to the history of Hollywood. There are references to the influence of McCarthyism and nods to many genres, from the ‘B’ Western to the biblically based epic. Most of the comedy is gentle and occasionally subtle, not to say understated. It is both easily worth 5 stars and thoroughly recommended.

REVIEW: HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU

CAST

Ben Aflfeck (Batman v Superman)
Jennifer Aniston (Leprechaun)
Drew Barrymore (Charlie’s Angels)
Jennifer Connolly (Hulk)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Justin Long (Waiting…)
Kris Kristofferson (Blade)
Hedy Burress (Swing Vote)
Busy Phillips (The Smokers)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Luis Guzmán (Boogie Nights)
Kevin Connolly (The Notebook)
Annie Ilonzeh (Arrow)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)

Nine people in Baltimore deal with their respective romantic problems, usually thwarted by the differing ideals and desires of their chosen partner. At the center of this is Gigi Phillips (Ginnifer Goodwin), a young woman who repeatedly misinterprets the behavior of her romantic partners.

Gigi and Alex

Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a single woman who repeatedly misreads mundane actions and comments from her dates as indications that they are romantically interested in her, and frets when the guy does not call her.In attempting to meet Conor Barry (Kevin Connolly), a real estate agent, at a bar, she befriends the bar owner Alex (Justin Long), who reveals the strategies men use to avoid a woman. He explains that if a man is interested in a woman, he will overcome any obstacles to ensure they date again, and that Gigi has been misinterpreting and obsessing over imagined “signs” that she receives. Their friendship continues, and Gigi interprets his eagerness to always assist (such as taking Gigi’s call while he is on a date) as a sign that he is interested in her. She makes a move, but Alex claims he is not romantically interested in her and chastises her for ignoring his advice. She angrily replies that at least she has not let herself become cynical and bitter like him. Gigi eventually moves on from Alex, however, in a role reversal, Alex begins falling for Gigi. After leaving several unanswered messages, Alex arrives at Gigi’s apartment to declare his love. Gigi thinks that she is the rule, but after Alex suddenly kisses her passionately, he says that she is his exception.

Janine, Ben, and Anna

Gigi’s friend and co-worker Janine Gunders (Jennifer Connelly) is having difficulties in her marriage to Ben (Bradley Cooper). As Janine obsesses on their home renovations, Ben becomes attracted to Anna Marks (Scarlett Johansson), a yoga instructor and aspiring singer, and the feeling is mutual. Ben and Anna pursue a flirtatious friendship under the pretense of him helping her establish a singing career. Ben reveals to Anna that Janine once gave him an ultimatum by threatening to leave him if he did not propose. Ben agrees to be friends with Anna, and in order to flirt with him she strips and jumps naked into a swimming pool. She invites him to join, but he decides against it.Fervently anti-smoking (due to her father’s death from lung cancer), Janine pointedly asks Ben if he has been smoking and later is perturbed to find cigarette butts hidden in their back yard. Ben insists that they are not his, and their contractor, Javier (Luis Guzman), says none of his workers smoke at the house. During a tense shopping trip, Ben reveals to Janine that he has cheated on her. Janine is devastated but rationalizes Ben’s behavior, blaming herself for being too cold in the relationship, and decides she wants to save their marriage.After a positive meeting about her singing career, Anna begins to have sex with Ben in his office. They are interrupted by Janine who, hoping to spice up their marriage, has arrived unexpectedly. Anna hides in a closet, and Ben attempts to send Janine away who then makes a heartfelt plea to save their marriage, and there are indications she succeeds in seducing him. After Janine leaves, Anna angrily departs vowing to cut ties with Ben. As Janine tidies up Ben’s clothes back at their completed house, she discovers a fresh pack of cigarettes in a pocket, and she explodes in anger. When Ben returns home, he finds his clothes neatly folded with a carton of cigarettes and a note attached from Janine asking for a divorce. Janine moves into a new apartment by herself to start a new life, and Anna is later seen performing at an upscale nightclub. Ben is alone, purchasing the same beer at the same supermarket where he met Anna.

Conor, Anna, and Mary

Meanwhile, Anna enjoys a close friendship with Alex’s friend, Conor. He is romantically interested in her, but Anna is only interested in a casual relationship. Conor misinterprets her hugs and cute nicknames for potential romantic interest. Anna’s friend, Mary Harris (Drew Barrymore), works in advertising for a local newspaper, and helps Conor promote his real estate business in a series of print ads. Like Gigi, she meets many men (mostly online), but despite constantly monitoring emails, pager, phone, and Myspace messages, her dates go nowhere. While Conor attempts to cultivate a gay clientele, two gay men tell him how he is going wrong with Anna. Taking their advice, Conor decides to declare his love to Anna. Vulnerable after falling out with Ben, Anna agrees to start a serious relationship with him. But when Conor proposes buying a house and moving in together, Anna admits she doesn’t want to, and they break up.Mary later runs into Conor, recognizing him from his ad photo, and introduces herself, since they have only spoken over the phone. They hit it off, and start dating.

Beth and Neil

Gigi’s other co-worker, Beth Murphy (Jennifer Aniston), is living with her boyfriend, Neil (Ben Affleck), who is also friends with Ben. After seven years of dating, Beth wants to get married, but Neil does not believe in marriage. With Gigi’s newfound pragmatic stance on relationships after advice from Alex, she announces she will no longer misinterpret vague gestures from men as more than they really are. This spurs Beth to confront Neil about their relationship. When he still doesn’t want to get married, she breaks up with him.Later, the preparations for her younger sister’s wedding brings the issue into sharper focus for Beth after hearing many back-handed comments from various family members. During the reception, her father Rod (Kris Kristofferson) suffers a heart attack. Beth looks after him as he recuperates while her sisters wallow, and their husbands remain glued to the television playing video games and watching football with constant takeout as the household falls into chaos. As Beth reaches the end of her patience looking after her siblings and in-laws as well as her recovering father, Neil arrives with groceries and helps with the chores. The two reconcile, with Beth saying that Neil is more of a husband to her than her sisters’ spouses are to them, and she will not insist they be married. Neil later proposes to her, and they marry in an intimate ceremony aboard his sailboat.I thoroughly enjoyed this film, The performances of the actors/actresses were first rate, even Ben Affleck (often critisised for the quality of his performances) has pulled it out of the bag. Drew Barrymore’s character had more of a back bench than the others, but she did it well. For me, Scarlet Johansson and Ginnifer Goodwin completely made the film.

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Robert Downey, Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Sebastian Stan (The Covenant)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
Paul Rudd (Role Models)
Emily VanCamp (Revenge)
Tom Holland (The Impossible)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Marisa Tomei (The Fighter)
John Kani (Coriolanus)
Hope Davis (About Schmidt)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

In 1991, the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, hoping to kill Rogers. When Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because of his role in Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s devastation, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers intends to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from T’Challa and the authorities, but all four including T’Challa are apprehended.
Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed “Winter Soldiers” are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’ permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff goes into exile.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and convinces Wilson to give him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware they were secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, dismembering Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, Barnes, granted asylum in Wakanda, chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget.

The best Marvel film to date: great, charisma from the leads delivered through fantastic action that’s actually driven, for once, by a tight, believable and interesting storyline.

REVIEW: THE BLACK DAHLIA

CAST

Josh Hartnett (Halloween: H20)
Scarlett Johannson (Lucy)
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)
Hilary Swank (The Reaping)
Mia Kirshner (The Vampire Diaries)
Mike Starr (Funny Farm)
Rose McGowam (Jawbreaker)
Rachel Miner (The Butterfly Effect 3)
Gregg Henry (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Jemima Rooper (Hex)
Ian McNeice (Dune)

In Los Angeles, on January 15, 1947, LAPD Detectives Dwight ‘Bucky’ Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, investigate the murder and dismemberment of Elizabeth Short, soon dubbed ‘The Black Dahlia’ by the press. Bucky learns that Elizabeth was an aspiring actress who appeared in a pornographic film. Through his investigation, Bucky learns that Elizabeth liked to hang out with lesbians. He goes to a lesbian nightclub and meets Madeleine Linscott, who looks very much like Elizabeth. Madeleine, who comes from a prominent family, tells Bucky that she was ‘very close’ with Elizabeth but asks him to keep her name out of the papers. In exchange for his silence, she promises him sexual favors. Continuing his relationship with Madeleine, Bucky meets her wealthy parents, Emmett and Ramona.Bucky’s partner, Lee, also becomes obsessed with Elizabeth’s murder. Lee’s obsession leads him to become erratic and abusive towards his long-time girlfriend Kay Lake, who is also one of Bucky’s close friends. After Lee and Bucky have a nasty argument about a previous case, Bucky goes to Lee and Kay’s to apologize, only to learn from Kay that Lee was responding to a tip about a recently released convict, Bobby DeWitt. Bucky goes to the location and gets into an altercation with DeWitt in the atrium of the building. DeWitt is gunned down by Lee, standing on the stairs across the atrium. Bucky sees a man sneak up behind Lee, wrapping a rope around Lee’s neck. Lee fights back while Bucky, paralyzed with shock, watches from across the atrium as a second shadowy figure steps out and slits Lee’s throat. Lee and the man holding the rope fall over the railing to their deaths several floors below. It is then that Bucky is helped by Millard and Morrie Friedman; a friend of Lee’s whom Bucky saw with Lee at the New Year’s party in 1946.
Dealing with the grief of losing Lee propels Bucky and Kay into a sexual encounter. The next morning, Bucky finds money from a bank robbery hidden in Lee / Kay’s bathroom. Kay reveals that she had been DeWitt’s girlfriend, that DeWitt had mistreated her, and that DeWitt had done the bank robbery; stealing a large sum of money from one of Benny “Bugsy” Siegel’s nightclubs. Lee had rescued Kay and stolen DeWitt’s bank robbery money. Lee needed to kill DeWitt now that he was out of prison; leading to the encounter that resulted in Lee’s death. Bucky leaves, furious with Lee and Kay for their actions and lies. He returns to Madeleine’s family mansion and continues his intense relationship with her. Kay is furious when she discovers the relationship, especially with the fact that Madeleine bears a striking resemblance to the same girl Lee obsessed over before he was killed, and leaves the scene.
Watching an old movie one night, Bucky notices that a bedroom scene matches the set in Elizabeth’s pornographic film. The credits at the end of the film includes the statement “Special Thanks to Emmett Linscott”, Madeleine’s father. Bucky’s search for answers leads him to an incomplete housing project that Madeleine’s father had started just below the Hollywoodland sign. In one of the empty houses, Bucky recognizes the set that was used to film Elizabeth’s pornographic movie. In a barn on the property, Bucky finds where Elizabeth was killed and her body butchered, as well as a drawing of a man with a Glasgow smile. The drawing resembles a painting in Madeleine’s family home and matches the disfiguring smile carved into Elizabeth’s face during her murder.
Image result for the black dahlia FILM
Bucky confronts Madeleine and her father in their home, accusing them of murdering Elizabeth. Madeleine’s mother Ramona reveals that she was the one to kill Elizabeth, who looked so much like Madeleine. She confesses first that Madeleine was not fathered by Emmett but rather by his best friend, George. She further reveals that George had been on set when Elizabeth’s pornographic film was made, becoming infatuated with her. Finally, she felt that Elizabeth looked too much like Madeleine, was bothered that George was going to have sex with someone who looked like his own daughter, and decided to kill Elizabeth first. Upon finishing her confession, Ramona kills herself.
Image result for the black dahlia FILM
A few days later, remembering something Lee had said during the investigation, Bucky visits Madeleine’s sister Martha with some questions. He learns that Lee knew about the lesbian relationship between Madeleine and Elizabeth and was blackmailing Madeleine’s father to keep it secret. Bucky finds Madeleine at a seedy motel, and she admits to being the shadowy figure who slit Lee’s throat. Although she insists that Bucky wants to have sex with her rather than kill her, he tells her she is wrong and shoots her dead. Bucky later goes to Kay’s house. Kay tells him to come in and closes the door as the film ends.

Image result for the black dahlia FILMBrian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia is an adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel. Like the book it is a sprawling tableaux of interweaving stories involving femme fatales, boxing, thwarted ambition and most of all a wounded male desire to rescue doomed princesses even if that aim can only be achieved retrospectively. The tone is one of soured romance, futility and regret. This is a very stylish film full stunning scenes and haunting music, What it isn’t is a true life crime recreation. Most of its alleged faults, from not sticking to the known facts, offering no realistic suspects to an over the top finale are inherent to the novel, which is primarily about its author’s attempt to come to terms with his traumatised childhood fascination with the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short brought about by the murder of his mother. The film draws heavily upon the LA noire of the Big Sleep but is also steeped in an older gothic tradition. DePalma’s love of wordless imagery is referenced through the silent classic The Man Who Laughed, based on a famous story by Victor Hugo. The Black Dahlia is one of DePalma’s better later films. Structurally complex, thematically rich and visually stunning.

REVIEW: THE SPIRIT

CAST

Gabriel Macht (S.W.A.T.: Firefight)
Scarlett Johanson (Lucy)
Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story)
Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years)
Stana Katic (Castle)
Louis Lombardi (Natural Born Killers)
Jaime King (My Bloody Valentine)
Paz Vega (Burning Palms)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Johnny Simmons (Boogeyman 2)
Seychelle Gabriel (Honey 2)

In a cat-filled mausoleum in Central City, Denny Colt, also known as The Spirit, receives a call from Detective Sussman about a major case that could involve the Spirit’s arch-nemesis, The Octopus. The Spirit dons his costume and travels across rooftops while delivering a voice-over soliloquy about the city being his one true love. A woman (Kimberly Cox) is being mugged in an alley below. He manages to save her, receiving a knife wound that he barely seems to notice. The woman asks, “What are you?”, with an arriving officer answering, “That’s The Spirit”. The Spirit runs away, catching a ride from Officer Liebowitz and heading toward the flats.

At the swampland, femme fatale Sand Saref rises from the water and appears to shoot Sussman multiple times. The Spirit and Liebowitz find the wounded Sussman, but a flashback reveals that it was really the Octopus who shot him in an effort to recover two identical chests underwater. Sand and her husband Mahmoud tried to flee with both chests, but the Octopus wounded Mahmoud and snapped a line connecting the two chests. Sand escaped, leaving one chest behind, which the Octopus retrieved from the murky depths.

After the Octopus kills Liebowitz, he sends away his cloned henchmen, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, to take on the Spirit alone. His accomplice Silken Floss drives up, running over Pathos in the process. She departs with the cargo as the two arch-nemeses fight.

Cutting to the next morning, The Spirit is awakened by his lover Dr. Ellen Dolan, daughter of the Police Commissioner. Appearing to be in perfect health despite his gunshot wounds, the Spirit is shocked to notice a gold locket in Sussman’s hand; a piece torn from Sand Saref’s neck earlier.
Saref’s locket contains pictures of a much-younger Denny Colt and Sand; the two grew up together in Central City where Denny bought Sand the locket as a gift to satisfy her love of “shiny things”. They lived happily until Sand’s father, a police officer, was shot dead by a criminal with whom Colt’s uncle was involved. Sand, now disenchanted with the city and its corruption, fled to Europe and has not been heard from for fifteen years. In a secret lair, the Octopus and Silken Floss open their stolen chest, but discover that it does not contain the mysterious Blood of Heracles as expected but the Golden Fleece, and decide a trade is in order.
Sand and Mahmoud visit the office of a high-class fence named Donenfeld, whom Sand paid to locate the underwater treasure. It is implied that Donenfeld gave up the treasure’s location to the Octopus to ensure his family’s safety. At Alice’s Hospital, the Spirit has fully regenerated and is as good as new; Commissioner Dolan angrily enters with young rookie cop Morgenstern and calls the Spirit away to a case.

Sand’s history as one of the world’s great jewel thieves is relayed to the Spirit. As the Spirit is about to arrest her, he is caught off-guard by her standing before him fully nude. Sand doesn’t recognize the Spirit as the presumed-dead Denny. She is stunned when he reveals his knowledge of her looking for the Golden Fleece and she shoves the Spirit through a window, only to see him survive the fall.

After his run-in with Sand, the Spirit receives a tip on the location of the Octopus’s lair. In the process of breaking in he is captured and tied to a dentist’s chair. The Octopus reveals his own origin as well as how he and the Spirit became arch-enemies: Octopus and Floss’s experimentation have led to the creation of a serum (something of a scientific equivalent to the Elixir of Life) that could grant immortality. The Octopus first tested it on the dead body of the murdered officer Colt, who came back from the dead; his resurrection has earned the ire of Death, being the only man to ever wrongfully escape her clutches. Contacting Dolan, the only one aware of his true identity, he vowed to become the city’s protector, “her spirit”. Eventually, the Octopus injected himself and arch-enemies were born. However, the Octopus needs the blood of Heracles, a demi-god, to perfect the serum’s formula. The Spirit manages to escape by spontaneously seducing a belly-dancing female assassin named Plaster of Paris, who as a parting gift turns on The Octopus in favor of The Spirit’s charms.
Outside in an alley, The Spirit irks Paris by mentioning Sand’s name; she stabs him out of spite. After being unconscious for a period of time, the Spirit stumbles to the city docks and collapses into the cold water, where he confronts the ethereal Angel of Death, Lorelei Rox, who has haunted his sleep. While at first he is willing to finally give in to her embrace, he escapes her yet again when he manages to gather his senses by remembering Ellen, Sand, Floss, Paris, and the other women he claims to see in place of his life flashing before his eyes. As the Spirit swims to the surface, Lorelei vows that he will be hers eventually.
At the projects, Sand and her latest henchman fly in with the Blood of Heracles to meet Floss and a clone carrying the Golden Fleece. After a four-way Mexican standoff, Sand attempts to convince Floss to get out of serving the Octopus before she is killed by the Octopus himself. The clone kills Sand’s henchman and the Octopus asks Floss for the vase. As the Spirit suddenly materializes, Floss drives off, unable to take a side. The Octopus unloads with progressively bigger guns on the Spirit, apparently killing him off, but Dolan’s SWAT team storms the area and opens fire right after. Morgenstern blows the Octopus’ arm up with a hand-cannon and Dolan shoots him several times on the head. To recover from the damage, the Octopus gets to the Blood of Heracles and prepares to drink it, but Sand shoots the vase just in time as the Spirit rises, having worn a bullet-proof vest. He then attaches a grenade to the Octopus’ chest, blowing him up into pieces with Sand protecting the two of them with the Golden Fleece.
Showdown over, the Spirit gives Sand her locket back. They kiss as Ellen looks on, feeling betrayed. The old flames bid each other goodbye and the Spirit convinces Dolan to let Sand go in gratitude for saving him and the world. Nearby, Floss discovers one of the Octopus’s severed fingers crawling towards her; she picks it up and departs with two of the clones saying, “We’ll start from scratch”. Meanwhile, the Spirit and Ellen make amends and embrace. The final shot shows the Spirit standing triumphant on a rooftop with his cat, looking over the city as the sun rises.

This film is worth a watch, but don’t take it too seriously. It may have been made by the people that did Sin City and 300 but this film has it’s tongue firmly in cheek. It has some laugh out moments, and it looks fantastic, However, the story is weak and the characters undeveloped enough for me. Scarlett Johanson is amazing as usual, and as she states in the film – looks fantastic. Samuel L Jackson overacts throughout the film, as usual. It’s worth a watch, but not really worth watching twice in my opinion.