REVIEW: SHUTTER ISLAND

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers Assemble)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Patricia Clarkson (Easy A)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs_
Elias Koteas (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

In 1954, U.S. Marshals Edward “Teddy” Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule travel to the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island in Boston Harbor. They are investigating the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando, who was incarcerated for drowning her three children. Their only clue is a cryptic note found hidden in Solando’s room: “The law of 4; who is 67?” They arrive just before a storm hits, preventing their return to the mainland for a few days.Daniels and Aule find the staff confrontational. Dr. John Cawley, the lead psychiatrist, refuses to turn over records, and they learn that Solando’s doctor Lester Sheehan left the island on vacation immediately after Solando disappeared. They are given access to the hospital, but they are told that Ward C is off limits and that the lighthouse has already been searched. While being interviewed, one patient secretly writes the word “RUN” in Daniels’ notepad. Daniels starts to have migraine headaches from the hospital’s atmosphere and experiences waking visions of his involvement in the Dachau liberation reprisals. He has disturbing dreams of his wife Dolores Chanal, who was killed in a fire set by a local arsonist named Andrew Laeddis. In one instance, she tells him that Solando is still on the island somewhere—as is Laeddis, who everyone claims was never there to begin with. Daniels later explains to Aule that locating Laeddis was an ulterior personal motive for taking the case.During their investigation, Daniels and Aule find that Solando has abruptly resurfaced with no explanation as to her former whereabouts or how she escaped. This prompts Daniels to break into the restricted Ward C. There he encounters George Noyce, a patient in solitary confinement. Noyce warns him that the doctors are performing questionable experiments on the patients, some of whom are taken to the lighthouse to be lobotomized. Noyce warns Daniels that everyone else on the island is playing an elaborate game specifically designed for Daniels—including his partner Aule.Daniels regroups with Aule and is determined to investigate the lighthouse. They become separated while climbing the cliffs toward it, and Daniels later sees what he believes to be Aule’s body on the rocks below. By the time he climbs down, however, the body has disappeared, but he finds a cave where he discovers a woman in hiding who claims to be the real Rachel Solando. She states that she is a former psychiatrist at the hospital who discovered the experiments with psychotropic medication and trans-orbital lobotomy in an attempt to develop mind control techniques. Before she could report her findings to the authorities, however, she was forcibly committed to Ashecliffe as a patient. Daniels returns to the hospital, but finds no evidence of Aule ever being there.Daniels is convinced that Aule was taken to the lighthouse; he breaks into it only to discover Cawley calmly waiting there for him. Cawley explains that Daniels is actually Andrew Laeddis, their “most dangerous patient” incarcerated in Ward C for murdering his manic depressive wife Dolores Chanal after she drowned their children. Edward Daniels and Rachel Solando are anagrams of Andrew Laeddis and Dolores Chanal; furthermore, the little girl from Laeddis’ recurring dreams is his daughter Rachel.According to Cawley, the events of the past several days have been designed to break Laeddis’ conspiracy-laden insanity by allowing him to play out the role of Daniels. The hospital staff were part of the test, including Dr. Sheehan posing as Aule and a nurse posing as Rachel Solando. The migraines that Laeddis suffered were withdrawal symptoms from his medication, as were the hallucinations of the “real Rachel Solando”. Overwhelmed, Laeddis faints. Laeddis awakens in the hospital under watch of Cawley and Sheehan. When questioned, he tells the truth in a coherent manner, which satisfies the doctors as a sign of progression. Nevertheless, Cawley notes that they had achieved this state nine months before but Laeddis had quickly regressed, and further warns that this will be his last chance to redeem himself.Some time later, Laeddis relaxes on the hospital grounds with Dr. Sheehan, but he calls him “Chuck” and says that they need to leave the island. Sheehan shakes his head to an observing Cawley, who gestures to the orderlies towards Laeddis. Laeddis asks Dr. Sheehan if it is worse to live as a monster or die as a good man, and is then led away by the orderlies.Shutter Island iS a film that will make you question your own sanity. A film that will leave you breathless. A film that has re-ignited the thriller genre. A film that will leave you, and the main character, searching for answers.

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REVIEW: THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

CAST

Vin Diesel (Riddick)
Paul Walker (Brick Mansion)
Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil)
Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Rick Yune (Die Another Day)
Matt Schulze (The Transporter)
Chad Lindberg (October Sky)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Ja Rule (Fly)
Vyto Ruginis (Moneyball)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
Johnny Strong (Black Hawk Down)
Noel Gugliemi (Training Day)
Reggie Lee (The Dark Knight Rises)

In the docks outside Los Angeles, a semi-trailer truck is loaded with electronics. On the road, it is hijacked by three heavily modified black Honda Civics with green underglow. The Honda drivers fire a grappling hook into the truck’s windshield, knock out the driver, and corral the semi allowing them to heist the electronics and escape.The next day, undercover LAPD officer Brian O’Conner is assigned to find the gang responsible for the crimes. Brian uses his cover job at an auto parts shop to infiltrate the L.A. street racing scene. While visiting Torreto’s Market, a local diner, he flirts with the shop’s owner, Mia Toretto, who is the younger sister of a well-known street racer, Dominic Toretto. Vince, one of Dominic’s henchmen and who has a crush on her, starts a fight with Brian, which Dominic breaks up.During a local racing gathering, Brian arrives with his 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS, and Dominic arrives in his 1993 Mazda RX-7. Dominic organizes a drag race with himself, Brian, and two other drivers. Despite monetary bets, Brian wagers pink slips for his car. During the race, Brian blows his engine, handing the victory to Dominic. As Brian prepares to give Dominic the keys, the LAPD arrives, forcing everyone to flee. Dominic parks his Mazda into a local garage to limit suspicions by walking home, but is spotted by a police cruiser. Brian arrives and saves him from the cops. The duo ventures into the territory of Dominic’s old racing rival, Vietnamese gang leader Johnny Tran and his cousin, Lance Nguyen. Tran and Lance blow up Brian’s Eclipse. Afterwards, Dominic tells Brian that he owes Dominic a “ten-second car”, a car that can drive a quarter mile in 10 seconds from a standstill.Brian goes to Dominic’s garage, where he offers his skills as a driver and a mechanic. He begins dating Mia, much to Vince’s dismay. Brian investigates Hector and Tran, convinced that Tran is responsible for the truck hijackings. He is cornered by Vince and Dominic, who demand an explanation. Brian lies about checking the cars of his rivals for the upcoming Race Wars, a street racing event in the desert. Brian, Vince, and Dominic check out Tran’s garage, and Brian notices a shipment of electronics in the garage. Meanwhile, Brian and Dominic build a replacement car for the Eclipse, a 1995 Toyota Supra.Brian reports the batch of electronics to his superiors at the LAPD and FBI, and they arrest Tran and Lance. It turns out the electronics had been bought legally, leading to the duo’s release. Despite his own doubts, Brian is now forced to assume that Dominic is the actual coordinator of the truck heists. Brian’s superiors give him 36 hours to find the perpetrators, as the truckers are now arming themselves to defend themselves against hijackings. At the Race Wars, Jesse, another of Dominic’s henchmen, wages his father’s Volkswagen Jetta to Tran, but flees with the car after he loses. Tran confronts Dominic to claim the car, and then mocks him, accusing him of reporting him to the police. This leads to Dominic and Tran engaging in a fight. Later that night, Brian notices the crew leaving, and realizes that Dominic is indeed the hijacker. He reveals his true identity to Mia and convinces her to reveal the location of the Civics and aid him in his plans.Dominic, Vince, Dominic’s girlfriend Letty, and another henchman Leon, prepare to hijack a semi-trailer truck. However, the truck driver is armed and uses aggressive counter-hijack tactics against Dominic’s gang. Vince is trapped on the truck’s hood having been shot, while Letty’s car is knocked over and flips from the highway, later saved by Leon. Brian arrives with Mia, who commandeers the Supra while Brian rescues Vince. When Dominic arrives, Brian is forced to blow his cover and call for a medical evacuation to rescue Vince. Dominic leaves with Mia and the rest of the crew after Vince is saved.Brian arrives at Dominic’s house to ask him about Jesse’s whereabouts, saying that he’ll get the cops to find him before Tran does, but Jesse arrives, apologizing for his actions, and is then killed in a drive-by shooting by Tran and Lance on dirt bikes. Dominic and Brian pursue them, with Dominic ramming Lance’s bike off the road before he can shoot Brian. Brian shoots Tran, who loses control of the motorcycle and hits a curb, breaking his neck and killing him instantly in the process. Brian sees Dominic in the distance. Brian proceeds to chase after Dominic, culminating in a quarter-mile drag race. The race ends in a dead heat and they barely manage to cross a railway crossing before a train passes by, but Dominic violently crashes his father’s 1970 Dodge Charger R/T into a truck. Instead of arresting Dominic, Brian gives him the keys to his own car, telling him he still owes him a ten-second car; Dominic goes in the car, and is able to escape the police. In a post-credits scene, Dominic is seen driving through Baja California, Mexico, in a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle, having presumably abandoned the Supra.All in all the cars are hot, the girls are hotter, the cars are fast, the guns are loaded, and for the more serious, the relationship between Dom, Mia, Vince, Letty, and the others is amazing. A great movie that started a franchise.

REVIEW: ROADKILL

CAST

Paul Walker (The Fast and The Furious)
Steve Zahn (Sahara)
Leelee Sobieski (Eyes Wide Shut)
Jessica Bowman (Remote)
Stuart Stone (Donnie Darko)
Jim Beaver (Mike & Molly)
Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)

Joy-RideUniversity students Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) and Venna Wilcox (Leelee Sobieski), Lewis’s childhood friend and crush, prepare to go home for the summer holiday. Lewis offers to come by Venna’s campus (they go to different universities) to drive her home instead of both of them flying back; Venna happily agrees. After refunding his plane ticket to buy a 1971 Chrysler Newport, Lewis calls his parents to announce the change of plan and learns that his older brother Fuller (Steve Zahn), the family’s black sheep, has been arrested once again. Lewis drives to Salt Lake City and bails out Fuller, who then tags along for the trip.Joy-Ride-3At a gas station, Fuller has a CB radio installed on Lewis’s car for $40, and the two begin listening in on truckers’ chatter. Fuller coaxes Lewis into playing a prank on a truck driver nicknamed ‘Rusty Nail’ (voiced by Ted Levine (uncredited)). Lewis pretends to be a woman named Candy Cane and sets up a meeting with Rusty Nail in the motel where Lewis and Fuller will be spending the night. Lewis tells Rusty that “she” is in room 17, the room of an irritable businessman with whom Fuller had earlier argued, but the guys are actually in room 18. When Rusty Nail arrives at the man’s room, an argument and sounds of a scuffle are briefly heard. The next morning, Sheriff Ritter announces to Lewis and Fuller that they found the businessman on the highway, still alive with his lower jaw ripped off. Ritter figures out the two are involved in the incident, but lets them go, as he already has his hands full, and they do not know anything other than the man’s nickname. However, he orders them to leave the state by sundown.

maxresdefaultOn the road, Rusty Nail is heard again on the CB radio looking for Candy Cane. Lewis talks to him and reveals that he is Candy Cane. Rusty Nail demands an apology, but Fuller insults him, instead. Rusty Nail simply notes that they should get their taillight fixed, indicating that he is right behind them, causing the duo to panic and speed up. At the next gas station, they unsuccessfully attempt to contact Ritter. Seeing an ice truck pulling into the gas station, the already paranoid pair drives away. The ice truck driver chases them down. However, the driver turns out to be merely trying to return Lewis’s credit card, which he left behind in panic. The real Rusty Nail then shows up in his truck and crushes the ice truck and its driver. He then slowly pins Lewis’s car against a tree. The two hysterically apologize, and Rusty Nail drives away, declaring his actions to be simply a retaliatory joke.Believing themselves safe, the brothers arrive at the University of Colorado and pick up Venna. They stop at a motel and drink at a bar. Lewis goes to sleep, but Rusty Nail calls him, revealing he knows of Venna. The three flee the motel. Rusty Nail contacts them, announcing that he has kidnapped Charlotte, Venna’s friend. He directs them to a cornfield, where he gets them to split up, and kidnaps Venna. Rusty Nail sets up a meeting at another motel in room 17, mirroring the false date with which he was pranked. He sets up a trap that will kill Venna if the room door is opened. Fuller attempts to get in the room by a window, but is injured by Rusty Nail and stuck outside the room. Rusty Nail’s truck appears uphill and begins rolling down toward Venna’s room. Lewis frees Fuller, and the brothers save Venna just in time. As the police investigate Rusty Nail’s truck, they see a dead body in the driver’s seat and Charlotte, still alive, on the floor. Lewis, Fuller, and Venna are treated for their injuries at an ambulance. At this point, the dead man turns out to be the ice truck driver. A CB in the ambulance is on, and the group hear Rusty Nail’s voice, learning that he is still alive and free.The script is excellent too combining and balancing humour and horror in equal measures, often hinting at violence that is not actually seen and providing nervous moments of humour whilst avoiding corniness. As for the three leads they are perfectly cast with Paul Walker, minus the blonde beach boy locks he sported in The Fast and the Furious, making a good fist of the part of the boy from the wrong side of the tracks in love with the girl from the right side of the tracks played by the equally impressive Leelee Sobieski (Deep Impact). Steve Zahn (Out of Sight) as the misfit brother Fuller is also excellent and he steals many of the scenes with witty one-liners but ultimately this is a movie whose strength lies in the sum of all its parts.

REVIEW: BANSHEE CHAPTER

CAST

Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Katia Winter (Sleepy Hollow0
Michael McMillian (The Hills Have Eyes 2)

The movie begins with stock footage of President Clinton and other people announcing the existence of the government experiment Project MKUltra. The scene then cuts away to camera footage of James Hirsch (Michael McMillian), a young man investigating Project MKUltra. With a friend filming him, James takes the drug used in the experiments, dimethyltryptamine-19 (DMT-19). Soon, bizarre music and voices begin to broadcast from a nearby radio and James becomes extremely anxious, announcing that something is coming towards the house and that it wants to “wear them”. A large, shadowy figure rushes by the window and the camera’s footage cuts in and out, ultimately ending with a shot of James with all-black eyes and a disfigured face.The movie then shifts to Anne (Katia Winter) a reporter who attended college with James. She is concerned over his disappearance, as James’s friend also mysteriously disappeared a few days after he was questioned by the police. Anne investigates James’s house and discovers a VHS cassette that contains footage of the MKUltra experiments as well as a book of notes about the project. Curious about some of the things found in the house — particularly some information about radio waves — Anne goes to a local expert and discovers that the bizarre radio broadcast heard by James is a phantom radio station, which can only be tuned into in the desert, at a certain time of night. Anne drives out into the desert after dark and is able to pick up the broadcast, but flees when a monstrous form appears from the darkness.Anne discovers that a mention of “Friends in Colorado” in James’s notes is related to the counter-culture writer Thomas Blackburn (Ted Levine), a Hunter S. Thompson-esque figure known for his drug use and unpredictable behavior. She tries to contact him by phone and is angrily rebuffed when she mentions Project MKUltra. Anne travels to Blackburn’s home and lies to gain his confidence, only to discover that Thomas has seen through her ruse and tricked her into taking DMT-19 that his friend Callie (Jenny Gabrielle), has made. The night quickly sours as Anne is angry at the deception, and Callie begins exhibiting the same behaviors that James did earlier in the film. Anne hears some of the bizarre music played by the phantom station and goes to investigate, only to be attacked by a strange entity.Callie suddenly exhibits the same black eyes and disfigurement as James did, and vomits blood onto the floor. An indeterminate time later, Anne and Thomas awaken to find Callie missing. They decide to go to Callie’s house to find out more information about the DMT-19. Anne is nearly captured by Callie, who is now controlled by the entity. She and Thomas begin to realize that DMT-19 works as a “radio antenna” of sorts that allows otherworldly entities to broadcast signals to the people on the drug as well as take over their bodies. They also realize that the government never came up with DMT-19 but instead received instructions from the otherworldly entities and made the drug without realizing the full implication of their actions. In addition to the base chemical compound, scientists were also adding harvested material from the pineal gland of a female corpse, dubbed the “Primary Source”, who returned to life during an experiment and attacked one of the doctors.At this point Anne realizes that the signal is likely coming from the laboratory that performed the Project MKUltra experiments, which is in the same desert that the radio broadcast was coming from. Shortly after this revelation, Thomas reveals that he had lied about giving her DMT-19. Realizing that the entity will pursue her regardless, Anne resolves to put an end to the broadcast once and for all. She and Thomas travel out into the desert and discover the laboratory in an abandoned fallout shelter, taking a can of gasoline so that they may burn whatever they find. Inside, they discover a room full of radio equipment and a large tank. Upon inspecting a small porthole built into the side, Anne discovers that a pale figure with black eyes resides within (implied to be the “Primary Source”). At this point, the radio equipment comes to life and begins broadcasting the numbers station.Realizing that they must burn the creature and the equipment, Anne hunts for the gasoline can, avoiding a grotesque figure who chases her. Thomas begins to bleed from the eyes and convulse violently. Apologizing to Anne, he shoots himself in the head. In a frenzy, Anne smashes open the porthole in the tank, pours the gasoline inside, and throws a lighter scavenged from Thomas’ corpse. The resulting explosion knocks Anne unconscious. When she comes to, she finds the clothing worn by her friend James before his disappearance lying outside in the hallway, implying that the creature chasing her had been “wearing” James the whole time.Anne is taken into police custody and one of her co-workers travels down to ensure that she is okay. She and Anne discuss the events that have happened so far, including the tape that Anne had discovered earlier in the movie. Part of the tape had been erased, but had been retrieved by a video forensics company. Anne then muses that she can’t understand why James’s friend disappeared, as he had never taken the drug. She begins to hear the phantom broadcast issuing from the room’s intercom and realizes that the effects of the drug can be passed along by human touch, as she still saw the creatures despite never having taken the drug. She turns to discover that her co-worker (whose hand she held moments before) has been taken over by the entities. The film then cuts to the recovered footage on the tape, which reveals that a college-age Thomas Blackburn was one of the people who had taken part in Project MKUltra as a test subject.In conclusion Banshee Chapter is a decent creepy movie with a good story concept and some good jump scares, it’s really interesting in the first part but lose some of his appeal in the second part.

REVIEW: MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

CAST

Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers)
Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins)
Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Gong Li (Hannibal Rising)
Samantha Futerman (21 & Over)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Elizabeth Sung (Death Ring)
Kaori Momoi (Ghost In The Shell)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Karl Yuen (Arrow)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Showdown In Little Tokyo)
Minae Noji  (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Julia Ling (Chuck)

Chiyo Sakamoto (Suzuka Ohgo), a young girl from a poverty stricken fishing village, is sold along with her older sister Satsu (Samantha Futerman) into a life of servitude by her aging father (Mako). Chiyo is taken in by Mrs. Kayoko Nitta (Kaori Momoi), the Mother (proprietress) of a geisha house in Gion, one of the most prominent geisha districts in Kyoto, whereas Satsu is sold to a prostitution brothel. At the okiya, Chiyo meets another young girl named Pumpkin (Zoe Weizenbaum), the cranky Granny (Kotoko Kawamura), and the okiya’s only working geisha, Hatsumomo (Gong Li) who is famous for her breathtaking beauty. Chiyo soon discovers Hatsumomo is secretly a cruel and jealous woman that views Chiyo as a potential rival due to her striking bluish-gray eyes along with being a change in Mother’s future financial dependence. Hatsumomo then goes out of her way to deliberately make Chiyo’s new life miserable by having her take the blame for everything and intentionally withholding information to her sister’s whereabouts in the pleasure district. However, Auntie (Tsai Chin) is aware of this and warns Chiyo against trusting and angering Hatsumomo, given her history with the ill-manner geisha.Chiyo tracks down Satsu and makes plans to run away together. However, upon returning to the okiya she discovers Hatsumomo with her boyfriend, Koichi (Karl Yune), which is against the rules of the Geisha lifestyle. When they are caught, Hatsumomo attempts to twist the situation by accusing Chiyo of stealing. Chiyo denies this and informs Mother of what she saw in the shed. As a result, everyone is barred from leaving the okiya at night except to attend work engagements and this further increases Hatsumomo’s anger towards Chiyo. On the night of their planned escape, Chiyo attempts to sneak out but falls off the rooftop and is seriously injured. As punishment for dishonoring the okiya, Mother tells Chiyo that she won’t invest any more money in her geisha training. She also informs Chiyo that both her parents (Mako and Elizabeth Sung) are dead. Chiyo misses her chance to flee and never sees Satsu again. She is also demoted from geisha training to working as a slave to pay off her increasing debts to Mother.One day, while crying on a riverbank, Chiyo is noticed by the Chairman (Ken Watanabe) and his geisha companions. He buys her a shaved ice dessert and gives her his handkerchief with some money in it. Inspired by his act of kindness, Chiyo resolves to become a geisha so that she may one day become a part of the Chairman’s life.Several years later, Pumpkin (Youki Kudoh) has begun her training as a maiko under Hatsumomo’s tutelage and Chiyo (Zhang Ziyi) is envious of it as she remains a maid under Mother. She is unexpectedly taken under the wing of Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), one of Gion’s most successful geisha and long time rival of Hatsumomo’s. Although initially reluctant, Mother is persuaded by Mameha to allow Chiyo to train as a geisha. Under Mameha’s tutelage, Chiyo becomes a maiko and takes the name of Sayuri. She grows in popularity and Hatsumomo grows desperate that she tries to ruin Sayuri’s reputation. Predicting this, Mamaeha takes her to a sumo wrestling match where Sayuri reintroduced to the Chairman, who seems unaware of her previous identity as Chiyo, as well as his business associate Nobu Toshikazu (Kōji Yakusho), who takes a liking to her and of whom Hatsumomo finds repulsive. Meanwhile, Mameha orchestrates a bidding war for Sayuri’s mizuage between two men: Nobu and Dr. Crab (Randall Duk Kim), which will make her a full geisha. Upon learning what Mameha has planned, Hatsumomo spreads cruel rumors that Sayuri had been deflowered to Dr. Crab. However, Sayuri is named the lead dancer for a popular performance, which angers Hatsumomo as she was hoping for Pumpkin to be named the lead.At the performance, she attracts the attention of many men, including the Baron (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) (Mameha’s danna), with her performance. When Dr. Crab congratulates Sayuri, she secretly convinces him to listen to a different opinion before taking the word of someone who lies. The Baron invites Sayuri to his estate for a sakura-viewing party, which Mameha is reluctant to let Sayuri attend but lets her go anyway. When the Baron presents a kimono to Sayuri in private at the party, he undresses her against her will in order to “take a look”, but does not go any further.Sayuri’s mizuage is won with a record-breaking bid of fifteen thousand yen. Mother, seeing Sayuri as a financial asset, names her as her adopted daughter and heiress to the okiya. This crushes Pumpkin, who was hoping that she would get adopted so she could have security in her old age, and enrages Hatsumomo. She is then told by Mother that she must give up her spacious room to Sayuri, which further outrages Hatsumomo who tried to remind her of her previous financial contribution. Mameha later tells Sayuri that the bid had ended up a contest between Dr. Crab and the Baron, Nobu having refused to partake in the bidding because it was against his principles. Mameha let it go to Dr. Crab because of her romantic feelings for the Baron, despite his bid being even higher. When returning home from the mizuage ceremony, Sayuri finds a drunken Hatsumomo in her room, where she has found the Chairman’s handkerchief. A fight ensues, during which a gas lantern is knocked over and ignites a fire and the okiya is partially destroyed by the flames. Hatsumomo is then kicked out of the okiya by Mother, her belongings given to Sayuri, and she is banished from Gion with her fate left unknown.Sayuri’s successful career is cut short by the outbreak of World War II. Sayuri and Mameha are separated, with Sayuri going to the hills to work for a kimono maker, an old friend of Nobu’s and Mameha going to a physician, the Chairman’s old friend. After the war, Sayuri is reunited with Nobu who needs her help with impressing an American Colonel (Ted Levine) who has the power to approve funding for the Chairman’s firm. Sayuri reunites with Mameha, who now makes a living renting rooms for the poor. Although she is reluctant to return to the geisha lifestyle after what she’s been through, she agrees to help impress Derricks. Sayuri is reacquainted with Pumpkin, who is now a flirty escort. Sayuri goes on a trip with Nobu, the Chairman, Mameha, Pumpkin, and the Americans to the Amami Islands.At Amami, the Colonel propositions Sayuri, but is rejected. Nobu witnesses the incident and confronts Sayuri. He finally confesses his feelings, telling her that he wants to become her danna. Knowing that entering into a relationship with Nobu will destroy any chance of her being with the Chairman, Sayuri is distraught and devises a plan. Mameha catches on to it and warns her against it because of the kindness Nobu shown her. She wants Sayuri to accept him as her danna and not end up like Hatsumomo did. She refuses and enlists Pumpkin’s help to have Nobu catch her seemingly being intimate with the Colonel. However, because of her secret resentment of Sayuri, Pumpkin brings the Chairman instead, having full knowledge of Sayuri’s feelings towards him. When Sayuri confronts her, Pumpkin coldly tells her that she did a lot of favors for her in the past and she stole her chances of being adopted by Mother. She hoped by having the Chairman see her with Derricks, he would be disgusted by Sayuri’s behavior and she would have to accept Nobu as her danna.A few days later, after returning to Gion, Sayuri receives a call to go to the teahouse. Sayuri expects to see Nobu, but instead the Chairman comes and finally reveals to her that he has known all along that she was the girl at the riverbank. He tells her that he had told Nobu about the affair after confronting Pumpkin for her behavior, effectively destroying Nobu’s affections for Sayuri and his desire to be her danna. He also reveals that he was responsible for sending Mameha to her so that she could fulfill her dreams of becoming a geisha. Sayuri finally reveals her love to the Chairman, and the film ends with their loving embrace and kiss and a stroll through the garden.

Memoirs of a Geisha does not submit all its secrets on first viewing; there are many layers of meaning and mystery to be seen again and again.

 

REVIEW: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Sam Shepard (BLack Hawk Down)
Jeremy Renner (The Avengers)
Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
Paul Schneider (Elizabethtown)
Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Zooey Deschanel (Tin Man)
Alison Elliott (Birth)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Parks (Argo)

In 1881, young, starstruck Robert “Bob” Ford (Casey Affleck) seeks out Jesse James (Brad Pitt) when the James gang is planning a train robbery in Blue Cut, Missouri, making unsuccessful attempts to join the gang with the help of his older brother Charley (Sam Rockwell), already a member. The train turns out to be carrying only a fraction of the money originally thought, and Frank James (Sam Shepard) tells Charley Ford that this robbery would be the last the James brothers would commit. Jesse returns home to Kansas City, bringing the Fords, Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider) and his cousin, Wood Hite (Jeremy Renner). Jesse sends Charley, Wood and Dick away, but insists that Bob stay. He wanted the younger man just for his help in moving furniture to a new home in St. Joseph, Missouri. Bob becomes more admiring of James before being sent back to his sister’s farmhouse, where he rejoins his brother Charley, Hite, and Liddil.Liddil reveals to Bob that he is in collusion with another member of the James gang, Jim Cummins, to capture Jesse for a substantial bounty. Meanwhile, Jesse visits another gang member, Ed Miller (Garret Dillahunt), who gives away information on Cummins’ plot. Jesse kills Miller, then departs with Liddil to hunt down Cummins. Unable to locate him, Jesse viciously beats Albert Ford (Jesse Frechette), a young cousin of Bob and Charley. Liddil returns to the Boltons’ farmhouse, and argues with Hite, which ends with Bob Ford killing Hite. They dump his body in the woods to conceal the murder from Jesse.Jesse and Charley Ford travel to St. Joseph where Jesse learns of Hite’s disappearance, which Charley denies knowing anything about. Meanwhile, Bob goes to Kansas City Police Commissioner Henry Craig (Michael Parks), saying he knows Jesse James’ whereabouts. To prove his allegiance with the James gang, Bob urges Craig to arrest Dick Liddil. Following Liddil’s arrest and confession to participation in numerous gang robberies, Bob brokers a deal with the Governor of Missouri, Thomas T. Crittenden (James Carville). He is given ten days to capture or kill Jesse James, and promised a substantial bounty and full pardon for murder.Charley persuades Jesse to take Bob Ford into the gang; the brothers return to St. Joseph. Introduced as cousins to the Howards (the James’ pseudonym), they stay with the family, including Zee James (Mary-Louise Parker) and their two children. Jesse wants to revive his gang by robberies with the Fords, beginning with the Platte City bank. On the morning of April 3, 1882, Jesse and the Ford brothers prepare to depart for the robbery. Jesse reads in the newspaper about the arrest and confessions of Liddil. While the three men are in the living room, Jesse removes his gun belt and climbs a chair to clean a dusty picture. Bob shoots Jesse in the back of the head and flees with Charley. They send a telegram to the governor to announce Jesse’s death, for which they were to receive $10,000. However, they never receive more than $500 each.After the murder, the Fords become celebrities, touring with a theatre show in Manhattan in which they re-enact the assassination, but people soon dislike that Bob shot Jesse, unarmed, in the back. Guilt-stricken, Charley writes numerous letters to Zee James asking for her forgiveness, but does not send them. Suffering from terminal tuberculosis, he commits suicide in May 1884. Bob works around the West. On June 8, 1892, Bob is murdered by Edward O’Kelley (Michael Copeman), at his saloon in Creede, Colorado. O’Kelley is sentenced to life in prison, but Colorado Governor James Bradley Orman pardons him after ten years in 1902.Get ready for the assassination everyone knows is coming but no one can prepare for. Never has been a film that tells you the entire story in the title and can still surprise the viewer with beautiful cinematic moments.

REVIEW: EVOLUTION

CAST

David Duchovny (The X-Files)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Michael Bower (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Katharine Towne (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
John Cho (American Pie)

Wayne Grey (Seann William Scott), a fireman trainee practicing in a shack in the desert near Glen Canyon, Arizona, sees a meteor strike his car and land in an underground cavern. College professor Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and his colleague, geology professor Harry Block (Orlando Jones), investigate, taking a sample of strange blue liquid that oozes from it. Ira discovers that it harbors extraterrestrial single-celled nitrogen-based organisms multiplying exponentially, condensing millions of years of evolution within a matter of hours. The next day, they take the science class to survey the meteor site and find it already surrounded by evolved oxygen-converting fungi and alien flatworms. Ira and Harry discover that the cells and organisms reproduce rapidly through mitosis after seeing one of the flatworms they collected in a jar split into another.
Soon, the site is sealed off by the Army, who set up a base. Ira and Harry take General Russell Woodman (Ted Levine) and the clumsy Dr. Allison Reed (Julianne Moore) to court for the right to be part of the research of their discovery, but their efforts fail when it’s revealed Ira was discharged from the army after creating an anthrax vaccine that led to terribly debilitating side effects, which the soldiers dubbed “The Kane Madness”. Woodman steals Ira and Harry’s research, forcing them to infiltrate the base to get another sample; they find an alien rainforest teeming with life. They are caught by Allison as a mosquito-like alien gets inside Harry’s body; they are forced to rectally remove the mosquito, which then dies.
Wayne arrives at the college and shows the two the dead body of an amphibian alien which killed a country club owner, much to his delight; they later investigate an animal attack, finding a dead dog-like alien in a woman’s home and more dead flatworms. They find a valley behind the home filled with dead flying dinosaur-like aliens; Ira and Harry theorize the aliens are spreading through the caves connected to the main cavern, but can’t breathe oxygen. One of the dying creatures spits out a pod containing a newborn, which then hatches into an oxygen-tolerant alien. The alien attacks a mall, where it nearly takes a shoplifter for a meal before Ira, Harry, and Wayne shoot it down.
Unfortunately, other alien encounters have made the news; this forces the Governor of Arizona (Dan Aykroyd) to demand answers. Allison explains the aliens will engulf the United States in two months. Woodman attempts to blame Ira, when he, Harry and Wayne arrive. However, the governor demands a solution; Woodman suggests evacuating the area and burn the aliens with napalm. At that moment, primate-like aliens attack them, but are fought off. The shaken governor approves Woodman’s plan against protests from Ira and Allison that they don’t know how the aliens will react. Allison quits the CDC and leaves the site, procuring Ira’s original research and samples for him.
At the college, Harry accidentally tosses a match into a petri dish of alien liquid, causing a mass of flesh to rapidly grow from it. Ira realizes heat causes the aliens to evolve, and the meteor crashing to earth activated the alien DNA. Alison attempts to warn Woodman that napalm will only make the aliens stronger, but he ignores her call. Looking at the positions of nitrogen and carbon on the periodic table, Ira theorizes selenium might be poisonous to the aliens, since they are nitrogen-based, as arsenic is poisonous to Earth’s carbon life. Much to Ira’s surprise, his dumbest students Deke and Danny (Ethan Suplee and Michael Ray Bower) recall selenium sulfide is the active ingredient in Head & Shoulders. This makes Ira award the Donald brothers with an A, much to their excitement. So Wayne procures a firetruck and the team fills it with the shampoo, with help from the Donald Brothers, who tag along with them.
Just as the team arrives at the cave and prepare to fire the shampoo, Woodman’s napalm strike causes the aliens to merge into an enormous amoeba-like creature, which reabsorbs the aliens in the cave. As it prepares to divide, the team drives under the organism, finds what looks like its rectal hole, and Harry (intending to settle a score for the insect incident) pumps a firehose of shampoo into the beast, causing it to explode. Governor Lewis declares Ira, Harry, Wayne and Allison heroes, making Wayne a fully credentialed firefighter while Ira and Allison skip the festivities for romance in the fire truck. Later, Harry, Ira and Wayne are shown chasing the flying alien from earlier and promoting Head & Shoulders for both hair care and fighting aliens.This excellent film starts slowly, but once it gets going the jokes are great,the cast fantastic,and the effects superb.Great Fun