REVIEW: W.

CAST

Josh Brolin (Wall Street 2)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Ioan Gruffudd (Ringer)
Toby Jones (The Mist)
Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)
Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible II)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws)
Bruce McGill (Collateral)
Jesse Bradford (Swimfan)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Ellen Burstyn (Interstellar)
Colin Hanks (King Kong)
Jason Ritter (Freddy Vs Jason)
Noah Wylie (Donnie Darko)
Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)

In 1966, George W. Bush endures an initiation by his fellow Yale University students as a Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge. During the hazing, Bush successfully recalls the names and nicknames of many of the fraternity members, and states that his family’s political legacy is one in which he has no interest. After Bush is jailed in New Jersey for rowdiness following a football game, his father, George H. W. Bush states that he will help Bush for the last time. Following his graduation from Yale, Bush takes a job at an oil patch back in Texas, but he quits after a few weeks. In 1972, “Junior” reveals his real aspirations in a father-son talk: working in professional baseball. Bush is accepted into Harvard Business School with the help of his father. After heavy drinking, Bush crashes his car into his family estate and challenges his father to a fistfight. His brother, Jeb, stops the fight.In 1977, Bush announces he will run for Congress to represent Texas’s 19th district. At a barbecue, Bush meets his future wife, Laura Lane Welch. During a debate, Bush is criticized by his Democratic opponent, Kent Hance, who says that Bush is not a real Texan and has spent campaign contributions to throw an alcohol-fueled party for underage Texas Tech University students. Bush does poorly in the debate and loses the election, but with the highest number of votes for a Republican candidate in the state’s history.In 1986, Bush becomes a born-again Christian, gives up alcohol, and mends his relationship with his father. The elder Bush invites him to assist with what becomes his 1988 presidential campaign, although Bush himself suspects that he only was asked because Jeb was busy. Bush’s political advisor, Karl Rove, tells him that he has the potential to make a name for himself. Bush becomes a front office executive of the Texas Rangers baseball team, while his father oversees the victory of the Gulf War. Although Allied forces win the war within 100 hours, the elder Bush decides not to invade Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein. After his father loses the 1992 presidential election to Bill Clinton, Bush blames the loss on his decision not to depose Saddam.In 1994, Bush runs for Governor of Texas despite his father’s opposition. In 1999, he makes a successful bid to become President. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Bush labels Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the “axis of evil”. In 2002, Bush searches for evidence that Saddam was creating nuclear weapons, and has the army prepared. All of Bush’s White House staff supports him except Secretary of State Colin Powell, who states that planning to invade Iraq would destabilize the country. Powell is generally overruled by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who insist that the war would secure the United States’ status as sole global superpower while spreading democracy throughout the Middle East.In March 2003, the U.S. invades Iraq and the war appears to be a success, and Bush gives his “Mission Accomplished” speech on an aircraft carrier. When it becomes clear that there are no weapons of mass destruction within Iraq, Bush learns that the responsibility for finding them had been relegated far down the chain of command. Bush discovers that Saddam gambled his regime and his life on the assumption that Bush was bluffing. Bush is asked in a White House press conference what mistakes he made as President, a question that leaves him flustered and speechless. That night, Bush has a nightmare in which his father accuses him of ruining his family’s legacy, which the elder Bush claims was intended for Jeb. Bush dreams of himself playing center field at a baseball game. Bush attempts to catch a pop fly, but it disappears.Oliver Stone directs this dramatisation of the life and eight-year presidency of George W Bush. The film features an all-star cast playing the White House’s most high-profile figures, with Josh Brolin as the president, Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as Vice President Dick Cheney, Jeffrey Wright as Secretary of State Colin Powell, Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice and James Cromwell as George Bush Senior. Like other Oliver Stone movies, it polarised opinion almost immediately on its release. While some have seen the film as a two-hour character assassination, others have complained that it is too sympathetic towards the president. It’s a film that each and everyone has to make up their own mind about.

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REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Luke Hemsworth (Neighbours)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen)
Simon Quarterman (the Scorpion King 2)
Rodrigo Santoro (Lost)
Shannon Woodward (Raising Hope)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Jimmi Simpson (Date Night)
Angela Sarafyan (The Promise)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of Tue Lambs)
Ben Barnes (Dorian Gray)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Louis Herthum (Longmire)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Talulah Riley (St. Trinians)
Oliver Bell (Salem)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Steven Ogg (The Escort)
Michael Wincott (The Doors)
Eddie Rouse (I’m Still Here)
Brian Howe (Catch Me If You Can)
Demetrius Grosse (Saving Mr. Banks)
Kyle Bornheimer (The D Train)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Bojana Novakovic (Drag Me To Hell)
Eddie Shin (That 80s Show)
Ptolemy Slocum  (Hitch)

As many sci-fi fans will know, the show ‘Westworld’ is based on the 1973 feature film of the same name (written and directed by the late, great Michael Crichton), and the premise is basically the same as it was then: In a future where technological possibilities are seemingly endless, a highly sophisticated theme park offers rich clients the chance to visit the long gone era of the Old West .

The show does a great job pulling the viewer immediately into Westworld. Within 10 minutes of the first episode, the basic rules of the theme park are established: paying guests called “newcomers” get to interact with androids called “hosts” (which to the naked eye are indiscernible from the guests) in a world dressed up like the Old West – and in this world, the guest truly is king. The rules are brutally simple: the visitors get to do whatever they like with – or to – the androids. They can have a friendly chat with them, flirt with them or embark on a spontaneous (or scripted) adventure with them – but they can also shoot them, rape them, torture them and kill them at will.

The androids, on the other hand, are constructed and programmed in a way that is supposed to inhibit them from physically harming “living” creatures. At the beginning of the show – thanks to an interesting choice of storytelling – we get to experience Westworld from the perspective of the androids, which reveals a cruel detail about their nature: they apparently experience emotions. Artificial or not, they do feel pain and fear – as well as affection and anger, and they have no idea that they don’t count as “real” people (at least not to those who call themselves real people). And while that detail certainly makes the “game” even more thrilling and more realistic for the visitors, it means that the shocking abuse some of the androids have to suffer is harrowingly real to them.

The way the show is constructed  it immediately confronts the viewer with very uncomfortable questions. How do we as humans behave towards creatures we consider non-human? How excessive do we become and how thin does our layer of morality turn out to be if we’re allowed to live out all our fantasies without having to fear any consequences for our actions? And at what point should a creature have rights similar to those we demand for ourselves? How do we define “sentient”? How do we define “human”? And how well do we actually understand – and how well are we able to control – the amazing technology our species seems to have acquired so suddenly?

As an avid film fan, I found ‘Westworld’ immediately intriguing; not only because it dares to challenge the viewer with fascinating philosophical questions and scientific concepts, but also because its premise offers the chance to explore a wide range of film genres: sci- fi, western, drama, horror – to name but a few.As for the non plot related aspects of the show: production design, music and effects are fantastic – as we’ve come to expect from HBO’s high concept productions  and with the impressive ensemble of high caliber actors do a great job at bringing their respective characters to life (artificial and otherwise).

A special mention needs to go to Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins: their charismatic screen presence is once more just impossible to ignore and they simply own every scene they’re in.  Given the amount of talent involved, anything else actually would have been surprising. Produced by J.J. Abrams, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan based on a concept by the late – great – Michael Crichton; directed by Neil Marshall and Vincenzo Natali (among others), and with a cast most shows would kill for, the stars really seem to have aligned for ‘Westworld’.

My overall verdict so far: ‘Westworld’ is intelligent science fiction for adults (some scenes are very graphic) which offers more than just eye candy and is full of mysteries for the patient viewer to uncover. It provides a powerful metaphor for oppression and exploitation of other beings – and it shows how quickly we tend to lose our “humanity” when given ultimate power over those we somehow consider less “human”.  With a great cliffhanger season keeps you salivating for the second season which wont air till 2018.

REVIEW: AMERICAN DAD – VOLUME 1-3

Image result for american dad logo

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Wendy Schaal (Small Soldiers)
Scott Grimes (Robin Hood)
Rachael MacFarlane (The Batman)
Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Daisuke Suzuki (I Am Gangster)
Stephen Root (King of The Hill)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Nat Faxon (Weeds)
Jeff Fischer (Happy Feet)
Sarah Silverman (Evolution)
Tori Spelling (Smallville)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Abraham Benrubi (Dark Angel)
William Fichtner (Mom)
Gina Gershon (Bound)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Elias Koteas (Fallen)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Ron Livingston (The Conjuring)
Megyn Price (Rules of Engagement)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Stephen Colbert (The Venture Bros.)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Oded Fehr (V)
Forest Whitaker (Panic Room)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Grant Heslov (True Lies)
Jill Talley (Little Miss Sunshine)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Bryan Cranston (Total Recall)
Leslie Jordan (Ugly Betty)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Jason Lee (Dogma)
Andy Richter (Chuck)
David Herman (Angel)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl)
Jennie Garth (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
John Cho (Star Trek)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angels)
Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Stark Sands (Minority Report TV)
Elijah Wood (Lord of The Rings)
Ivana Milicevic (Banshee)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
John Krasinski (License To Wed)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander II)
Lisa Kudrow (Easy A)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Peter Graves (Airplane)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven)
Becki Newton (Ugly Betty)
Harve Presnell (Lois & Clark)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Richard Gant (Godzilla)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Eartha Kitt (60s Batman)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)

A worthy successor to parent show Family Guy, this show tells the misadventures of an ultra right wing CIA Agent and his long suffering family.The characters are great. Stan Smith, the dad of the title is more capable than Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, but just as blinkered. He calls “French toast” smelly and ungrateful and prefers it to be known as “American toast”, has a questionable attraction to his gun and a fear of liberals.Wife Francine is a housewife who lacks ambition but every so often strikes out on her own. Their children are the geeky Steve and ultra left wing Hayley. Completing teh family are a German athlete who’s mind has been put in a fish Klaus (watch the pilot for the back story) and needy, TV and celebrity obsessed gender bending alien Roger. There are some great set ups e.g. Stan having Francine’s memory erased when he forgets a wedding anniversary, Roger apparently dying and the CIA hunting him as the area 51 alien who previously escaped and Stan being sent to Arabia as a punishment and finding it’s to his taste.The jokes fly thick and fast e.g. Roger telling Stan “Oh by the way your skin cream did wonders for my ‘roids, well if you won’t let me out of the house to buy my own I guess we’re ointment buddies!”, Stan saying “Should, well we don’t live in Shouldland. Ah Shouldland, what a wonderful place!” and Roger’s retort “yes I’m an alien and I have claws. You’re awfully fat. See? Kitty can scratch!”There are also some great turns from Patrick Stewart voicing CIA Deputy Director Bullock. Great commentaries and featurettes make a superb package!

The “Laugh Alert” level is elevated with the release of this second volume of episodes that chronologically span seasons 1 and 2. You know the “there” that people talk about when they say, “Don’t go ‘there’?” Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad leaves “there” in the dust.Take the holiday–excuse me, Christmas–episode, “The Best Christmas Story Never,” which somehow melds Charles Dickens with a Ray Bradbury-esque cautionary tale of tampering with the past.CIA Agent and true patriot act Stan Smith (voiced by MacFarlane) loses the spirit of the season in a blizzard of PC secularism in which even the fugitive “Christmas rapist” must be referred to as “the holiday rapist.” In the “is nothing sacred” world of American Dad, Christmas can only be saved by Stan accompanying the Ghost of Christmas Past (Lisa Kudrow) back in time to (don’t ask) kill Jane Fonda (or Donald Sutherland), take over the direction of Taxi Driver from a drug-free Martin Scorsese, and shoot Ronald Reagan.

The Smith family–wife Francine, geeky son Steve, and “peace-pusher” daughter Hayley–is still not as vividly drawn as the Griffins on MacFarlane’s Family Guy (even Klaus, the talking German-accented goldfish admits in one episode that his “fish shtick” is getting thin), but one can’t help salute the audacity of the oft-inspired writing. In “Stannie, Get Your Gun,” Stan becomes a National Gun Association spokesperson after being accidentally paralyzed by his anti-gun daughter. “The American Dad After School Special” has an A Brilliant Mind-like twist as Stan battles an eating disorder brought about by Steve’s new overweight girlfriend. In “Helping Handis,” Steve becomes the big man on campus after he develops steroid-enhanced breasts.Two episodes are standouts for their animation. “Dungeons and Wagons,” as did South Park with “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” creates a video game universe in which Steve rules. Near the end of “Failure Is Not a Factory-Installed Option,” the screen adjusts to widescreen format, and the saga of the golden turd, begun in the first season episode, “Homeland Insecurity” compellingly continues with the jewel-encrusted oddity becoming the last temptation of an honest cop (Beau Bridges). American Dad is, as should be apparent, not for all tastes (or more sensitive viewers–the episode “Tears of a Clooney” drops some unbleeped F-bombs), but fans of the series are rewarded with this three disc-set’s prodigious extra features, including rowdy, chaotic commentaries for all the episodes, a wealth of hit and miss deleted scenes, and a segment devoted to the production of “Dungeons and Wagons.”

“I’m not beloved,” CIA Agent Stan Smith is shocked to discover after eavesdropping on his mocking neighbours in the episode, “I Can’t Stan You”. With all the resolve this “pig-headed” Red State poster boy and George “The Dub” Bush devotee can muster, he vows, “I will make these people like me.” For those still on the fence about American Dad, this collection of 18 episodes ought to do the trick.These characters may not be as indelible as the Family Guy clan, but these episodes rarely flag. If the outrageous storylines don’t grab you, the rapid-fire random gags will. Like King of the Hill’s Hank Hill , Stan (voiced by series co-creator Seth McFarlane) is oft confounded by a world seemingly gone mad. Unlike Hank, he is the voice of un-reason. In “Surro-Gate,” Stan’s dizzy wife, Francine (Wendy Schaal) agrees to be the surrogate for the Smith’s gay neighbors, prompting the disapproving Stan to kidnap the infant, as well as the brood of a lesbian couple.In “Black Mystery Month,” Stan reveals a Da Vinci Code-like conspiracy involving George Washington Carver that’s plain nuts. In another episode, “Bush Comes to Dinner” for a night of drunken debauchery; some easy-target Bush-bashing is redeemed when the President makes peace between Stan and his “lost cause” liberal daughter, Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane). Some of the best episodes focus more on the Smith family than politics. In “The Vacation Goo”, Francine demands a real family getaway after discovering that all previous vacations were artificially created memories. In “Haylias,” it is revealed that the unwitting Hayley is a brainwashed sleeper agent, who is activated by Stan to stop her from moving to France. “The 42-Year-Old Virgin” reveals another shocker: trigger-happy Stan has never actually killed anyone!American Dad revels in guy humour. As Stan tells an unamused Hayley at one point, “You don’t get a willy, you don’t get the silly.” American Dad brings the silly, but while the series is not above (or beneath) moth fart jokes, it is also smart enough to reference, say, “Equus” or the touching “When Somebody Loved Me” number from Toy Story 2. Stan’s geeky son, Steve (Scott Grimes), bitchy alien Roger (MacFarlane), and talking fish Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker) are no Chris, Brian, or Stewie, but this set contains some of their more memorable outings. In “Frannie 911,” it turns out that it actually would kill Roger to be nice. In “Surro-Gate,” Klaus vows revenge on Roger and Stan following a waterslide prank. American Dad fans will salute this three-disc set’s generous features, including a riotous Comic-Con cast table read of the episode, “The 42 Year-Old Virgin,” nearly a half hour of deleted scenes (deleted jokes would be more accurate), unrated versions (with unbleeped profanities) of certain episodes, and freewheeling audio commentaries (“Hey, aren’t we supposed to talk about the episode?” one participant tries to steer one digressive conversation

REVIEW: INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE

CAST

Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible)
Brad Pitt (Fight Club)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On)
Antonio Banderas (Puss In Boots)
Stephen Rea (The Crying Game)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)

In modern-day San Francisco, reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) interviews Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt), who claims to be a vampire.

Louis begins by describing his human life as a wealthy plantation owner in 1791 Spanish Louisiana. He had lost the will to live following the death of his wife and infant child; one night he is attacked by the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) while drunkenly wandering the waterfront of New Orleans. Lestat senses Louis’ dissatisfaction with life and offers to turn him into a vampire. Louis accepts and is transformed, but he rebels against killing humans, drinking animal blood to sustain himself. He is disgusted by Lestat’s pleasure in killing and comes to suffer tremendously as a vampire. Louis finally succumbs to his hunger and kills his faithful house slave Yvette (Thandie Newton). Guilt-ridden, he tries to kill himself by setting fire to his house, but Lestat rescues him and they flee.

Wandering the streets of New Orleans, amid an outbreak of plague, Louis finds an ill little girl in a house who has not realized her mother is dead. He bites the girl, Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), whom Lestat later transforms into a vampire “daughter”. Lestat hopes that Claudia’s transformation will discourage Louis from leaving. As thirty years pass, Claudia matures psychologically but still remains a little girl in appearance. She has become a sadistic killer who closely bonds with Louis. When she finally realizes she will never grow up and have an adult body of her own, thus being trapped in the form of a child forever, she is furious with Lestat and finds herself deeply hating him for making her a vampire. She tricks him into drinking the blood of twin boys she killed by overdosing them with laudanum, knowing that blood from a corpse is fatal to vampires. This weakens him, and she slits his throat. Claudia and Louis dump Lestat’s body in a swamp and the two plan a voyage to Europe. However Lestat returns on the night of their departure, having drained the blood of swamp creatures to survive. Lestat attacks them, but Louis sets him on fire and is able to safely board the ship with Claudia.

After travelling around Europe and the Mediterranean, Louis and Claudia settle harmoniously in Paris. Louis encounters vampires Santiago (Stephen Rea) and Armand (Antonio Banderas) by chance. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to his coven, the Théâtre des Vampires, where the vampires stage theatrical horror shows for humans, similar to the real Grand Guignol which existed in Paris from 1897–1962.

Claudia rightly accuses Louis of wanting to abandon her for Armand. She demands he turn a human woman, Madeleine (Domiziana Giordano), to be her new protector and companion, and he reluctantly complies. As punishment for Lestat’s murder, the Parisian vampires abduct all three; they imprison Louis in a metal coffin. When freed by Armand the next night, he learns Claudia and Madeleine have been exposed to sunlight against their will and turned to ash. He returns to the Theater and avenges Claudia and Madeleine by burning the vampires as they sleep and bisecting Santiago with a scythe. Armand arrives in time to help Louis escape and once again offers him a place by his side. Louis refuses, knowing that Armand choreographed Claudia and Madeleine’s demise to have Louis all to himself, and he leaves Armand for good.

As decades pass, Louis explores the world alone, still grieving for Claudia, before returning to the United States. In 1988, he returns to New Orleans and finds Lestat, a mere shadow of his former self. Lestat asks Louis to rejoin him, but Louis rejects him and leaves.

At this point, Louis concludes the interview, declaring that his existence is empty, detached, and unfeeling. Molloy is shocked by this statement and openly declares his desire to have had Louis’s experiences as a vampire. He asks Louis to transform him. Louis is outraged by Molloy’s complete disregard for the pervasive suffering caused by vampirism outlined in the interview. Louis attacks Molloy but in the next instant, he vanishes. Molloy hurriedly runs to his car and drives away, feeling happy with his interview as he plays it through the cassette player. Just then, Lestat appears and attacks him, taking control of the car. Revived by Molloy’s blood, Lestat offers him “the choice I never had” to become a vampire, as they drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.Slow paced it may be, but there are enough jumps and scares to keep you awake until you get drawn into the riveting story.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: CRASH (2004)

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Heat)
Matt Dillon (Wild Things)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2 & 3)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Terrence Howard (Empire)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible II)
Michael Pena (American hUSTLE)
Ryan Phillippe (ANtitrust)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Loretta Devine (Little Nikita)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Tony Danza (Who’s the Boss?)
Kathleen York (The Guardian)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)


The film begins with commentary by passenger Detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) having suffered a car accident with his partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito). He mentions that the denizens of Los Angeles have lost their “sense of touch.” Ria and the driver of the other car, Kim Lee, exchange racially charged insults. When Waters exits the car, he arrives at a police investigation crime scene concerning the discovery of “a dead kid.”
While purchasing a revolver at a gun store, Farhad (Shaun Toub), a Persian shop owner, and his daughter Dorri (Bahar Soomekh), argue in Persian over what box of bullets they should buy. The gun store owner grows impatient and degrades the two of them by referring to Farhad as “Osama”. Farhad clarifies that he is an American citizen but the store owner continues exchanging racially stereotypical insults at Farhad and has the security guard escort him out of the store. Dorri demands the store owner to give her the gun or give her back the money. After the store owner gives the gun to Dorri, she asks for “the ones in the red box”. The store owner asks why, but Dorri does not answer and insists on buying that particular box. In another part of town, two black men, Anthony (Ludacris) and Peter (Larenz Tate), argue over racial stereotyping of African Americans after Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock), the wife of the local district attorney Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser), walks in another direction whilst fearfully staring at them.

Anthony and Peter carjack the married couple as they are about to enter their Lincoln Navigator. Later, at the Cabot house, Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz (Michael Peña) is changing their locks when Jean notices his tattoos. She loudly complains to Rick about having been carjacked and now having to endure a Hispanic man changing their locks, feeling he will give copies of the keys to “his gang banger friends”. Having overheard this, Daniel leaves the keys on Jean’s kitchen counter. Detectives Waters and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting between two drivers. The surviving shooter is a white male, identified as an undercover police officer. The dead shooter, a black male, is revealed also to be an undercover police officer. There is a large amount of cash found in the black officer’s trunk. This is the third time the white officer has shot and killed a black man.

LAPD officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) calls an HMO on behalf of his father and has an argument with a representative named Shaniqua Johnson (Loretta Devine). He then gets into the squad car with his partner Tom Hansen (Ryan Philippe) and sees a car passenger performing fellatio on the driver of a moving vehicle. They pull over the Navigator similar to the one carjacked earlier, despite discrepancies in the descriptions. They order the couple, television director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton), to exit. Cameron is cooperative, but Christine is argumentative. This annoys Ryan, who manually molests Christine under the pretense of administering a pat-down. Intimidated, Cameron says nothing. The couple is released without a citation. Once home, Christine becomes enraged that Cameron did nothing while she was being violated. Cameron insists that what he did was correct and storms out.

Arriving home from work long after dark, Daniel finds his young daughter, Lara (Ashlyn Sanchez), hiding under her bed after hearing a gunshot outside. To comfort her, Daniel gives her an “invisible impenetrable cloak”, which makes her feel safe enough to fall asleep in her bed. In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter, arguing and distracted, hit a Korean man while passing a parked white van. They argue about what to do with him, finally dumping him in front of a hospital and driving away. Due to the blood in the vehicle, they are unable to receive payment for the carjacking. The next day, at the Los Angeles Police Department station, Hansen talks to his superior, Lt. Dixon (Keith David), about switching partners. Dixon, a black man, claims that Hansen’s charge of Ryan as a racist could cost both Hansen and Dixon their jobs. Dixon suggests a transfer to a one-man car and mockingly tells Hansen that he should justify it by claiming to have uncontrollable flatulence.

Ryan visits Shaniqua and apologizes for the argument. He explains that his father was previously diagnosed with a bladder infection, but he fears it may be prostate cancer. Shaniqua nearly calls security to escort Ryan out of her office when he proceeds to insult Shaniqua by calling her an affirmative action hire. When Ryan asks for his father to see a different doctor, Shaniqua denies the request and he storms out of her office in anger. Meanwhile, Daniel is seen replacing a lock at Farhad’s shop and tries to explain to him that the door frame needs to be replaced. Farhad, whose English is limited, misunderstands and accuses Daniel of cheating him, which causes Daniel to leave.


The next morning, Farhad discovers the store has been wrecked and defaced with graffiti. His insurance company does not cover the damage, calling it a case of negligence due to the defective door. When Farhad is told that his shop will be closing down, he vows revenge on Daniel. Detective Waters visits his mother (Beverly Todd), a hard drug abuser. She asks him to find his missing younger brother. He promises and takes notice that there is almost no food in the apartment as he is leaving. When he tries to present evidence in the shooting between undercover police officers, his superiors tell him not to reveal the cash in the black officer’s trunk, saying that their work in crafting a non-racist image for the department will be undone.

Jean comes home and sees dishes in the dishwasher. She accosts her Hispanic maid Maria for not putting them in the cupboards. Ryan comes across a car accident and as he crawls into the overturned vehicle, he finds Christine trapped. Upon recognizing Ryan, Christine becomes hysterical, but gasoline is leaking from the tank and running downhill towards another wreck, which has already caught fire. He calms her down, and with the assistance of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls Christine out just as her car bursts into flames. Anthony and Peter approach another Navigator which happens to be Cameron’s. They only see Cameron driving after they open the door and are shocked to see that the driver is black. Cameron is tired of being pushed around and resists. Anthony tells Peter to shoot Cameron, but Peter does not.

As police officers arrive, Cameron and Anthony both race for the car and jump in. Cameron drives away, with Anthony continuing to point a gun at him. A car chase ensues. Hansen is one of the police officers who has responded and recognizes Cameron’s vehicle. Cameron drives into a dead end, puts Anthony’s gun into his pocket, and gets out of the car, all the while yelling insults at the officers. Just before he pulls out the gun, Hansen convinces him to stop aggravating the situation and to go home. Hansen vouches for Cameron, fending off the other officers, and promising to give him a “harsh” warning. Later, Cameron tells Anthony that as a black man he is embarrassed for him and drops Anthony off at a bus stop.

Farhad locates Daniel’s house and waits in ambush. Just as Daniel’s daughter Lara jumps into his arms, attempting to protect him with the “invisible cloak”, Daniel’s wife Elizabeth (Karina Arroyave) runs out the front door and watches in horror as Farhad shoots Lara. It takes the grief-stricken parents and Farhad a moment to realize that Lara is miraculously unharmed. The box of ammunition that Dorri had selected contained blanks. Farhad later tells his daughter that he believes the little girl was his guardian angel, preventing him from committing a terrible crime. Jean is complaining to someone she knows over the phone that she wakes up angry every day and does not know why. Immediately afterwards, she slips and falls down a flight of stairs, spraining her ankle. Jean phones Rick, telling him of her accident. Whilst resting in her bed, Jean hugs Maria, saying she is the only true friend she has ever had and apologizes.

Peter, who is hitchhiking, is picked up by Hansen. Peter sees that Hansen has a small statuette of Saint Christopher like his own. He begins to laugh as he realizes that they have so much in common, but Hansen thinks that he is being laughed at. Hansen pulls over and tells Peter to get out if he wants to be “funny”. Peter moves to pull the statuette out of his pocket in explanation, but Hansen believes he is pulling out a gun and mistakenly shoots and kills Peter. Hansen dumps the body in the bush beside a road and then torches his own car. Peter is revealed to be Waters’ missing brother. Waters and his mother meet at the morgue, where Dorri is revealed to be a coroner and Waters promises to find who is responsible. Mrs. Waters blames her surviving son for his brother’s death, claiming he was always too busy to look for Peter.

Anthony returns to the white van owned by the Korean man whom they had run over the night before. Finding the keys still hanging from the door lock, he drives the van away. The Korean man’s wife Kim Lee arrives at the previously mentioned hospital looking for her husband, the man who was run over, named Choi Jin Gui. Conscious and coherent, he tells her to go and immediately cash a check that he has in his wallet. The check is most likely payment for the contents of the van. Anthony has driven the white van to a chop shop he frequents, and as they inspect the van, a number of Cambodian immigrants are discovered locked in the back of the van, revealing that Choi was involved in human trafficking. Anthony is offered $500 for each person in the van but refuses out of disgust. Anthony drives to Chinatown and sets the Cambodian people free. As Anthony drives away, he passes a car crash, which turns out to involve Shaniqua. Shaniqua and the other driver get out and begin to exchange racial slurs.

Although the blatant racism and bigotry may make us feel uncomfortable it is nonetheless a very realistic portrait and though few of us admit it we have all at some time or another made the same assumptions, if only in the company of those we feel comfortable with.

REVIEW: RUN FAT BOY RUN

CAST

Simon Pegg (Star Trek)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Dylan Moran  (Shaun of The Dead)
Harish Patel (The Driver)
India de Beaufort (Blood & Oil)
Stephen Merchant (The Office)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)

Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg) is about to marry Libby (Thandie Newton), his pregnant fiancée. However, he gets cold feet and runs away on the day of the wedding. Five years later, Dennis discovers that Libby, who has their son, Jake, has started seeing successful but arrogant Whit (Hank Azaria) and realizes that he has truly lost her. He finds out that Whit is running the Nike River Marathon in London, and to prove himself to his uncertain friends and, most importantly, Libby and his son, he decides to run the race himself.

He receives motivation from his two “coaches”, Gordon (Dylan Moran), a well-meaning slacker who is Libby’s cousin and Dennis’ best friend, who has made a hefty bet on Dennis succeeding, and Mr. Ghosh Dastidar (Harish Patel) his landlord, who uses unorthodox methods of training, such as using a spatula to spank him. Days before the race, Whit proposes to Libby at her birthday party. Libby accepts and this puts Dennis in a state of deep depression. As a result he decides to quit the race. Meanwhile, Jake, who has formed a crush on a girl in his class, runs away upset when he discovers that she prefers another boy just because he has a ponytail. Dennis, upon being informed by a frantic Libby, tracks him down and explains to him that he will find many things he does not like in his life and he should just stand up to them and face them, rather than running away. Having made that mistake himself, he decides to race after all.
Run Fatboy Run - movies Wallpaper
Dennis starts the race alongside Whit, who informs Dennis that he intends to move Libby and Jake to Chicago, Illinois. Enraged, Dennis mocks Whit and they altercate for a while at the start of the race and, in their efforts to out-do each other, they catch up to and then overtake the professional runners, and suddenly Whit trips Dennis and severely injures him. Stretchers prepare to take Dennis to the hospital.


Whit continues, but is taken to the hospital after feeling pain in his leg. Libby goes to the hospital to find Dennis, but only finds Whit, who claims loudly that his injuries are the result of Dennis deliberately tripping him. The doctor tells him he is not actually injured and has only “hit the wall”. Jake is playing with Whit’s hospital bed, and to Libby’s disgust, Whit calls him a “little shit”. Dennis has in fact refused to be transported to the hospital or even get medical attention and is continuing the race well into the afternoon and evening with a sprained ankle, accompanied by a growing group of supporters, including Gordon and Mr. Ghosh Dastidar. A panting Dennis almost “hits the wall” but after an emotional epiphany, his goal to complete the race is restored. Later at Whit’s house, Libby, Jake and Whit, watch a television replay of the Whit/Dennis altercation, as the replay shows that in fact Whit had deliberately tripped Dennis and had fallen over because Dennis pulled him down as he was falling. As Whit tries to justify his behaviour, he blurts out his intentions to have Libby and Jake move to Chicago with him. A fed up Libby puts the engagement ring on a table, telling Whit “nobody’s perfect” and storms out with Jake. The two go to meet Dennis as he arrives at the finish line. Dennis falls over just metres from the finish line and cannot get up until he sees Libby and Jake calling to him at which point he gets up, sprints to the finish and collapses in their arms.


Some time later, notably healthier and fully recovered from his injuries, Dennis calls at Libby’s house to pick up Jake. He says that he has something to ask her, but is interrupted by Jake, and says he’ll talk to her later. However, just after she shuts the door, he knocks again and asks her on a date. She accepts. In the film’s postscript, Gordon — on the bridge of a new yacht — tells the tale of the race to two attractive bikini-clad women, whom he invites aboard for a drink. The camera then pans to reveal to the audience that he’s as usual naked below the waist.

It is predictable as anything but ‘Run Fat Boy Run’ is an enjoyable comedy,There’s also a decent supporting cast, with Dylan Moran (also from ‘Shaun of the Dead’) amusing as Pegg’s friend and trainer. Director David Schwimmer,  has a blink and you’ll miss him cameo towards the end

REVIEW: 2012

CAST
John Cusack (Runaway Jury)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity)
Amanda Peet (Identity)
Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Danny Glover (Earthsea)
John Billingsley (Enterprise)
Blu Mankuma (Tin Man)
George Segal (The Cable Guy)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Jimi Mistry (East is East)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
In 2009, American geologist Adrian Helmsley visits astrophysicist Satnam Tsurutani in India and learns that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are causing the temperature of the Earth’s core to rapidly increase. Arriving at a party in Washington, D.C, Helmsley presents his information to White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser, who takes him to meet the President.
In 2010, U.S. President Thomas Wilson and other international leaders begin a secret project to ensure humanity’s survival. The G8 nations, plus China, are building nine enormous arks, capable of carrying 100,000 people each, near Cho Ming, Tibet, in the Himalayas. A Buddhist monk named Nima is evacuated while his brother Tenzin joins the Ark project. Critical funding is raised by selling tickets for €1 billion per person for a handful of seats. By 2011, valuable items are moved to the arks with the help of art expert and First Daughter Dr. Laura Wilson.
In 2012, science fiction writer Jackson Curtis is a chauffeur in Los Angeles for Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov. Jackson’s former wife Kate, and their children Noah and Lilly, live with Kate’s boyfriend, plastic surgeon Gordon Silberman. Jackson takes Noah and Lilly camping in Yellowstone National Park. When they find an area fenced off by the U.S. Army, Jackson takes his kids over the fence, where they are caught and taken to see Helmsley. After being released from military custody they meet Charlie Frost, who hosts a radio show from the park.
That night, after the military evacuates from Yellowstone, Jackson watches Charlie’s video of Charles Hapgood’s theory that polar shifts and the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar have predicted that the 2012 phenomenon will occur. Charlie also tells Jackson that those who discovered this and plotted to inform the public were killed through various ways. Megathrust earthquakes begin affecting California. Jackson returns home to rescue his family just as a 10.9 magnitude earthquake hits California. They escape from Los Angeles in a private plane as the Earth crust displacement begins and a major portion of California collapses and sinks into the Pacific Ocean. The group flies to Yellowstone to retrieve a map from Charlie displaying the location of the arks. They escape as the Yellowstone Caldera erupts; Charlie stays behind to broadcast the eruption and is killed. Pyroclastic flows destroy Yellowstone and Jackson is nearly killed. The group later lands in Las Vegas to find a larger plane. They also find Yuri, his twin sons, Alec and Oleg, girlfriend Tamara and pilot Sasha. Sasha and Gordon fly them out in an available Antonov An-500 aircraft as the Yellowstone ash cloud destroys the city.
Helmsley, Anheuser and Laura Wilson are flying on Air Force One to the Arks. President Wilson remains in Washington D.C. to address the nation one last time. With the Vice President dead and the Speaker of the House missing, Anhauser becomes the acting commander-in-chief, despite not being part of the presidential line of succession. Megatsunamis destroy coastal areas, including Washington D.C, killing everyone in these areas. When the group arrive in China, the plane runs out of fuel and everyone leaves through a car. Sasha is killed as the plane falls down a mountain and explodes. They are spotted by helicopters from the Chinese army. Yuri and his sons, possessing tickets, are taken to the Arks, leaving the Curtis family and Gordon behind. The remaining group are picked up by Nima and taken to the Arks with his grandparents. With the help of Tenzin, they stow away on Ark 4, where the United States contingent is aboard. As a 1500-meter tall megatsunami topples over the Himalayas and approaches the site, an impact driver becomes lodged in the gears of the Ark’s hydraulic doors, preventing a boarding gate from closing, which in turn prevents the ship from starting its engines. In the ensuing chaos, Yuri, Tamara and Gordon are killed, while Ark 4 begins to fill with water and is set adrift. Jackson and Noah dislodge the impact driver and the crew regains control of the Ark before it collides with Mount Everest. Jackson reunites with his family, and he and Kate reconcile.
27 days later as waters recede, the three arks approach the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa where the Drakensberg mountain range has emerged. Helmsley starts a relationship with Laura while Jackson and Kate rekindle their relationship.
Alternate ending
An alternate ending is featured on the DVD release of the film. After Captain Michaels, the captain of Ark 4, announces that they are heading to the Cape of Good Hope, he tells Dr. Helmsley that he has a phone call waiting for him. Dr. Helmsley discovers that his father Harry is still alive. Harry tells his son that he, Tony (whose arm is in a sling), and some of the passengers and crew survived the megatsunami that struck the Genesis. Captain Michaels states that they should have a visual on the ocean-liner shortly. After Kate thanks Laura for taking care of Lily, Laura tells Jackson that she liked his book. Jackson then gives Noah his cell phone back which he recovered during Ark 4’s flooding. Lily then announces that she sees an island. The Arks arrive at the shipwrecked Genesis and the survivors on the beach.
A watchable Disaster movie! Along the lines of the movie Day After Tomorrow – the earth is in deep trouble and how do we survive.  Pretty good disaster eco-movie with the usual warning for mankind to get its act together.