REVIEW: HANNA – SEASON 1

Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna (2019)

Starring

Esme Creed-Miles (Mister Lonely)
Mireille Enos (World War Z)
Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad)

Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Joanna Kulig (Cold War)
Lyndsey Marshal (The Hours)
Phaldut Sharma (Gravity)
Andy Nyman (The Commuter)
Katharina Heyer (Volt)
Benno Fürmann (Babylon Berlin)
Narges Rashidi (Aeon Flux)
Justin Salinger (Everest)
Félicien Juttner (Ben)
Khalid Abdalla (United 93)
Rhianne Barreto (Dixi)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)
Yasmin Monet Prince (Nocturnal)
Áine Rose Daly (Jack Ryan)
Gianna Kiehl (Still Standing)

Joel Kinnaman in Hanna (2019)Over the past 5 years, there has been an influx of TV shows based on popular films: FX’s pulpy Fargo, YouTube’s hilarious Cobra Kai, and A&E’s creepy Bates Motel. All of the previously mentioned series are entertaining and worth checking out, but before you do, consider binging all eight episodes of Hanna on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, March 29. The streaming provider’s gamble to develop this show based on the 2011 film of the same name definitely paid off. Helmed by the film’s co-writer – David Farr – Hanna on Amazon is more laser-focused than its predecessor, allowing for deeper character development and extra thrilling action sequences – which is always a good thing. Hanna is a genetically (we think) modified ass-kicking teenager who lives in the woods with her special-operative father, Eric (Joel Kinnaman), after he rescued her from a clandestine government facility when she was was a baby.Joel Kinnaman and Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna (2019)The show’s frenetic pacing (the total runtime is under 8 hours) doesn’t allow for much on-screen time with daughter and father early on in the season – which is a shame, because they’re a dynamic pair to watch. At its narrative core, Hanna is a coming-of-age story with way more violence and tragedy than your typical teenage fare – just imagine Hanna in Mean Girls or The Perks of Being a Wallflower… Ouch!Joel Kinnaman and Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna (2019)Even with all of the enhanced abilities and her training in the deadly arts, Hanna’s character remains grounded. Showrunner Farr accomplishes this by taking her out of the woods and away from her father, so she can interact with other teenagers. Watching Esme Creed-Miles’ Hanna awkwardly flirting with boys at nightclubs and struggling to adapt to suburban life is very charming. Her insatiable curiosity about the world outside of the woods she was raised in is palpable.Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna (2019)When Hanna isn’t running around killing the government agents sent to capture her, she’s usually spending time with her newfound bestie, Sophie (played by newcomer Rhianne Barreto). Sophie is an important character because she is that teenage girl you expect to see in this kind of coming-of-age story, and it’s enjoyable to watch Barreto and Creed-Miles interact: laughing, fighting, and crying over boys and controlling parents. There are moments in Hanna when you forget that she’s being hunted by a sinister government agency.Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna (2019)Speaking of the baddies… Hanna boasts an imposing villain in Marissa Wiegler (portrayed by Kinnaman’s The Killing co-star Mireille Enos). Unlike Cate Blanchett’s interpretation of the character in the film version, Enos brings a welcome bit of nuance. While she’s not a “good guy,” per se, she’s definitely less overtly evil this time around. Wiegler is the figure behind many of the mysteries surrounding Hanna’s birth and unique abilities, and even though she’s the primary antagonist, it’s easy to get the sense that there’s a bigger threat just looming around the corner. There are plenty of stories left to tell if Amazon gives Farr more seasons to play with.Whenever Wiegler’s henchmen attempt to apprehend Hanna, the fight choreography on display is impressive. To their credit, Farr and his team use the fights for more than just showing off – they’re also telling a story with kicks and punches. Kinnaman’s Eric uses brute force to cripple or kill his opponents. Hanna, on the other hand, utilizes her speed and agility to compensate for her size. Together, they make an efficient killing duo. And while it’s nice to see them spending some quality time together, Farr never lets you forget the tragedy of it all. When some teenagers’ biggest worries are social media and high school dances, Hanna’s concerns are far more imminent and deadly. Hanna’s showrunner David Farr effectively expands the movie he co-wrote back in 2011 with engaging character development and thrilling action. Esme Creed-Miles and Joel Kinnaman excel in their respective roles, making this short, but compelling 8-hour journey a must see on Amazon Prime Video.

REVIEW: HANNA

CAST

Saoirse Ronan (The Host)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Vicky Krieps (Colonia)
John MacMillan (Fury)
Tim Beckmann (Foster)
Jessica Barden (The Lobster)
Tom Hollander (Enigma)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Michelle Dockery (Self/Less)

Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) is a 15-year-old girl who lives with her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana) in rural northern Finland, near Kuusamo. The film opens with her hunting and killing a reindeer. Since the age of two, Hanna has been trained by Erik, an ex-CIA operative from Germany, to be a skilled assassin. He teaches her hand-to-hand combat and drills her in target shooting. He left the agency, going incognito into the Arctic. Erik knows a secret that cannot become public, and Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a senior CIA officer, searches for him in order to eliminate him. Erik has trained Hanna with the intent that she will kill Marissa. Due to her upbringing in the wilderness, she is unfamiliar with much of the modern civilisation although she has great encyclopedic knowledge.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)One night, Hanna tells Erik that she is “ready” to face their enemies. Erik digs up a radio beacon that eventually will alert the CIA to their presence. Although he warns Hanna that a confrontation with Marissa will be fatal for either her or Marissa, he leaves the final decision to Hanna who activates on the beacon. Erik leaves, instructing her to meet him in Berlin. A special forces team arrives to capture Hanna and Erik, but Erik is already gone and while Hanna kills two soldiers, the rest of the soldiers assume Erik killed them before escaping. Hanna is taken to an underground CIA complex where Marissa, being suspicious, sends a body double (Michelle Dockery) to talk to Hanna. While talking to the double Hanna starts to cry and crawls sobbing into the lap of the double, which makes her captors uneasy. They send some guards to her cell to sedate her. As they enter the cell, Hanna kills the double along with some of the guards and escapes.
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In a flashback, Marissa is seen firing at a car that is carrying Hanna’s mother; two-year-old Hanna; and Erik. The car crashes but the trio flees. Marissa shoots Johanna, but Erik escapes with Hanna into the woods. Hanna finds herself on the run in the Moroccan desert, where she meets bohemian British people couple Sebastian (Jason Flemyng) and Rachel (Olivia Williams), who are on a camper-van holiday with their teenage daughter, Sophie (Jessica Barden), and their younger son, Miles (Aldo Maland). She stows away in the family’s camper-van on the ferry ride to Spain seeking to reach Berlin. The family is nice to her, and she and Sophie become friends. Marissa hires Isaacs (Tom Hollander), a former agent, to capture Hanna. Hanna travels with the family as they drive north. Isaacs and two skinheads trail them and eventually corner Hanna and the family in France, but she manages to escape, killing one of the assailants. Marissa catches up with the British family and during interrogation finds out that Hanna is heading to Berlin.
Cate Blanchett in Hanna (2011)
Arriving at the address that Erik had told her, Hanna meets with Knepfler (Martin Wuttke), an eccentric old magician and a friend of Erik’s, who lives in an abandoned amusement park. Hanna plans a rendezvous with her father. However, Marissa and Isaacs arrive. Hanna escapes, but overhears comments that suggest Erik is not her biological father. Later, Hanna goes to her grandomother’s apartment where she finds her grandmother murdered. In a conversation Erik admits to Hanna that he is not her biological father. Erik once recruited pregnant women into a program where their children’s DNA was enhanced in order to create super-soldiers. After the project was shut down, its subjects were eliminated. Marissa and Isaacs arrive, intent on killing them; Erik acts as a distraction to allow Hanna to escape. Erik kills Isaacs in a fight, but is shot by Marissa, who goes to Knepfler’s house. Hanna is there, having just discovered Knepfler dead. They wound each other and eventually Marissa becomes disoriented from her wound, slows down and loses her weapon. Hanna finds the weapon and kills Marissa, echoing the deer hunting scene from the start of the film.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)Quirky, dark, neat. Saoirse Ronan is terrific.  The cinematography is strong, the locations are diverse and far more imaginative than most films. The script is flawless. All in all an excellent movie.

REVIEW: THE TRUST

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Elijah Wood (The Hobbit)
Sky Ferreira (Baby Driver)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Steven Williams (21 Jump Street)
Jerry Lewis (The Nutty Professor)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Keston John (The Good Place)

Sergeant David Waters and his boss/friend Lieutenant Jim Stone both work in the Evidence Management unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Disillusioned and bored with their jobs, they also find it hard to make ends meet. While going through case files, Jim comes to know of a drug dealer who has access to large amounts of money, as indicated by his bail receipt, which was paid in $200,000 cash.Using his vacation days, Jim engages in a stint of undercover work at the same hotel as the drug dealer is employed and comes to discover that all of the merchandise the dealer and his gang move is taken to one building, and never moved again. David, after acquiring blueprints from the local planning office, discovers the dealer and his gang have built a large safe in the back of an industrial freezer in the building. Realising it is an easy hit, Jim and David scour items required for the heist, including a diamond tipped drill and unlicensed firearms, paying for them with illegally acquired cash from a corrupt colleague. They break into the apartment above the freezer building and muffle its two occupants, but Jim ends up shooting and killing one after he attempts to escape. After drilling and the use of improvised explosives, they are able to unlock and access the vault. David, who has become attached to the surviving female hostage, allows her to call her 3-year-old son’s father to assure him that she is okay.Jim and David search the safe, which contains vast quantities of diamonds, cash and gold coins. Despite Jim being elated, David becomes concerned that stealing so much valuable property from the gang will get them killed, and subsequently relocks the safe so Jim can’t access it. Enraged, Jim threatens David at gunpoint, forcing him to reluctantly open the safe and unload all of the valuables. As they are packing up the drill, David kills Jim in a brief shootout and returns the contents to the safe. He then drives off with the hostage to drop her up north, assuring her of her freedom. Later, David sees two vans following him and he notices the phone number advertised on the back of one of them as the same number the hostage called earlier. Despite identifying himself as a police officer, David is shot dead by men in the vans, who rescue the woman (implied to have been a member of the same gang responsible for watching over the safe). The movie ends with David’s badge and the drill being catalogued in the Evidence Management building where he and Jim used to work.A thoroughly decent film. I am not an Elijah Wood fan, and can take or leave Nic Cage, but you know, these 2 carried this film off. It had some real funny moments, and some tense scenes. It was a bit different as well, and i just really enjoyed it.

REVIEW: INSOMNIA (2002)

CAST

Al Pacino (The Devil’s Advocate)
Robin Williams (One Hour Photo)
Hilary Swank (The Reaping)
Maura Tierney (Liar Liar)
Martin Donovan (Legends of Tomorrow)
Nicky Katt (School of Rock)
Paul Dooley (The Player)
Crystal Lowe (Final Destination 3)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Ian Tracey (Man of Steel)
Crystal Lowe (Final Destination 3)
Jonathan Jackson (Terminator: TSCC)
Emily Perkins (Ginger Snaps)

In the small fishing town of Nightmute, Alaska, 17-year-old Kay Connell (Crystal Lowe) is found murdered. LAPD detectives Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) are sent to assist the local police with their investigation, at the request of police chief Nyback (Paul Dooley), an old colleague of Will’s. Also, an intense Internal Affairs investigation in Los Angeles is about to put Dormer under the microscope. Eckhart reveals that Internal Affairs has offered him an immunity deal in exchange for his testimony regarding one of Dormer’s past cases. Eckhart says that he has no choice but to accept the deal, to Dormer’s frustration.

Dormer comes up with a plan to lure the murderer back to the scene of the crime. The attempt fails, however, and the suspect flees into the fog. The police chase, and the suspect shoots one through the leg. Dormer soon fires at a figure in the fog. On his way to the fallen figure, he picks up a .38 pistol the suspect has dropped. He then discovers that he has shot Eckhart. As he dies, Eckhart accuses Dormer of murdering him. Because of Eckhart’s pending testimony against Dormer, Dormer knows that Internal Affairs will never believe the shooting was an accident. He tells his colleagues Eckhart was shot by the suspect. He doesn’t mention he has the .38 pistol. Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank), a young police officer, is put in charge of the investigation of Eckhart’s shooting. Police find the bullet that sliced the first officer’s leg, a .38 caliber. That night, Dormer walks to an alley and fires the .38 pistol into an animal carcass. He retrieves the bullet and cleans it, then visits the morgue. The staffer hands him the bagged bullet retrieved from Eckhart’s body. She is unfamiliar with its type. He leaves and switches the bullet with one from the .38.

Over the next few days, Dormer is plagued by insomnia, brought on by his guilt over killing Eckhart and further exacerbated by the perpetual daylight. He then starts receiving anonymous phone calls from the suspect, who claims to have witnessed Dormer kill his partner. After looking through her belongings, the police learn that Kay was a fan of a local crime writer named Walter Finch (Robin Williams). Dormer looks up his address and breaks into his apartment. Finch soon comes home, realizes the police have arrived, and evades Dormer after a chase.

Dormer returns to Finch’s apartment. While there, he plants the .38 to frame Finch. Finch later contacts him and arranges a meeting on a ferry. Finch wants help in shifting suspicion to Kay’s abusive boyfriend Randy Stetz (Jonathan Jackson) and will stay silent about Dormer’s role in the Eckhart shooting in return. Dormer gives advice on handling police questioning. After Finch leaves Dormer on the ferry, he shows the detective a tape recorder he used to record the conversation.

Finch calls Dormer and tells him that Kay’s death was “an accident” — he beat her to death in a fit of rage after she rejected his advances. The next day, Finch gives false testimony at the police station. When Finch claims Randy had a gun, Dormer realizes Finch has discovered his plant, and has hidden it at Randy’s home. He races to Randy’s house to find the gun before other officers, but is unsuccessful, and Randy is arrested. Finch offers to give Burr letters indicating that Randy abused Kay, and asks her to come and collect evidence from his summer home the next day.
Burr finds a 9mm shell casing at the scene, which conflicts with the bullet type found in Eckhart’s body. She reads old case files from investigations Dormer was involved in and learns he has carried a 9mm, suspecting he has been lying about who shot Eckhart. Dormer confides in the hotel owner, Rachel Clement (Maura Tierney) about the Internal Affairs investigation: He fabricated evidence to help convict a pedophile he was certain was guilty of murdering a child.
Dormer searches Finch’s apartment for an address for his lake house, and realizes Finch intends to kill Burr after finding Kay’s letters in the apartment. As Burr and Finch move through his house, Finch knocks Burr unconscious. Dormer reaches the cabin, but is too disoriented from lack of sleep to fight off Finch. Burr revives and saves Dormer, while Finch escapes. Burr reveals she knows Dormer shot Eckhart. He admits it, but says he is no longer certain if it was an accident. From his shed, Finch shoots at them, and Burr returns fire, allowing Dormer to sneak around to Finch’s location. Finch and Dormer shoot each other, killing Finch and fatally wounding Dormer. Burr rushes to Dormer’s aid and comforts him by affirming that Eckhart’s shooting was accidental, then moves to throw away the shell casing to preserve Dormer’s secret. Before he dies, he stops Burr, telling her not to lose her way.With three Oscar winners in the cast Nolan had some serious quality to direct, that Pacino, Williams and Swank deliver excellence is high praise for the British director. Pacino actually gives one of his finest late career performances, utterly compelling as Dormer, his haggard face tells of a thousand sorrows, his sleep deprived gait befits a man staring into the abyss. Wally Pfister’s photography is on the money, the blend of snow whites and green tinges sparkle from the vistas and the soft brown hues inside the hotel provide the rare moments of tranquillity available to Will Dormer. Across the board Insomnia is a cracker of a movie, a film that goes into the murky depths of the genre to reveal one of the best movies of 2002.

REVIEW: SUBURBAN MAYHEM

CAST

Emily Barclay (Glitch)
Steve Bastoni (Man-Thing)
Laurence Breuls (Ghost Rider)
Michael Dorman (Triangle)
Anthoyn Hayes (Animal Kingdom)
Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland)

Image result for Suburban MayhemThis film, directed by Paul Goldman (“Australian Rules”, “The Night We Called it a Day”), is not so much Pulp Fiction Australian style as pulp faction; first-time scriptwriter Alice Bell has cobbled together a story inspired by the real-life murder of her father committed by 19 year old Belinda van Krevel in suburban Wollongong. Katrina,  is indeed an elemental force, unrestrained by social conventions and morality. She has a hopeless passion for her brother Daniel (Laurence Breuls) who is locked up early in the movie for taking the head off a convenience store clerk with a samurai sword during an ineptly executed robbery. Katrina is determined to get him out, and the need to get money for Danny’s appeal drives her to organizing her blameless father’s murder. In the meantime she drives furiously, has sex with practically every young tradesman in the district and neglects her baby, fortunately largely cared for by her loyal boyfriend Rusty (Michael Dorman), who likes to think of himself as the father.
226170-We Summon the DarknessWhatever production defects this movie may have, it passed the watch test. It really is hard to take your eyes off Emma Barclay as Katrina. Kat is vulgar, rude, lewd, and driven largely by emotion, yet she radiates sexuality. She knows what men want; hence the long string of “admirers”. Interestingly she tends to adopt the superior position during sexual congress, no doubt to stay in control, for she is a controlling sort of person.Suburban MayhemHer environment is standard suburban wasteland (well-off blue collar boring) but it is not obvious why she and her brother have turned out to be such poisonous personalities.  Mum, it seems, was a drug addict banished years ago from the family home, but Dad (Robert Morgan) is a decent caring person, a builder by trade and maybe not very perceptive. Perhaps Dad was too indulgent and a firmer line with the kids might have avoided disaster, though his girlfriend “Auntie” Dianne (Genevieve Lemon) puts it all down to genes – Grandma and mother both having been mad. There is an obvious parallel with “The Boys” of a few years ago, which was no comedy but did explain how a truly monstrous crime originated. This is a lighter piece though what Katrina brings about is still pretty nasty. Justice is not done either, which is disturbing.
LE-FEU-SOUS-LA-PEAU-SUBURBAN-MAYHEMEven so, whatever is driving Katrina, Emily Barclay makes her totally believable. The rest of the cast are rather overshadowed, but Steve Bastoni is effective as an intimidated policeman and Michael Dorman convincing as Rusty, a moth to Katrina’s candle, or rather blowtorch. We know via the mockumentary sections what is coming up, but we still get a surprise. Katrina does rather better than her real-life counterpart, but someone like her is not likely to enjoy a quiet life, or a very long one either.

REVIEW: THE EAST

CAST

Brit Marling (The QA)
Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend fo Tarzan)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four)
Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood)
Julia Ormond (Che)
Patricia Clarkson (Easy A)
Jason Ritter (The Intervention)
Danielle Macdonald (Trust Me)
Billy Slaughter (Click)
Wilbur Fitzgerald (Freejack)
Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures)
Jamey Sheridan (Arrow)

Jane, an operative for the private intelligence firm Hiller Brood, is assigned by her boss Sharon to infiltrate The East, an underground activist, anarchist and ecologist organization that has launched several attacks against corporations in an attempt to expose their corruption. Calling herself Sarah, she joins local drifters in hitching rides on trains, and when one drifter, Luca, helps her escape from the police, she identifies the symbol of The East hanging from Luca’s car mirror. Sarah self-inflicts an arm injury that she tells Luca was caused in the escape so he can get medical attention for her. He takes her to an abandoned house in the woods where members of The East live and one of the members, Doc, treats her cut.Sarah is given two nights to recover before she must leave the squat. At an elaborate dinner involving straitjackets, Sarah is tested and fails. Exposing how selfishly she and many others live their lives. Sarah is caught one night when spying by the deaf Eve and has a conversation in sign language with her. Sarah tells Eve that she is an undercover agent and threatens Eve with jail if she stays with the group; Eve leaves the next morning. Sarah is recruited to fill the missing member’s role on a “jam,” which is an old fashioned term for a direct action. After seeing the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical jam, compounded by her growing attraction to charismatic Benji (Alexander Skarsgård), Sarah gradually questions the moral underpinnings of her undercover duty. Sarah reluctantly participates in The East’s next jam and comes to learn that each member of The East has been personally damaged by corporate activities. For example, Doc has been poisoned by a fluoroquinolone antibiotic and his neurosystem is degenerating. The East infiltrates a fancy party for the senior executives of the pharmaceutical company responsible for Doc’s poisoning and puts a strong dose of the risky antibiotic into everyone’s champagne. The East announce this action via YouTube and over time one executive’s mind and body begins to degenerate as a side effect of the antibiotic, revealing publicly the extreme risks of the drug.Another East member, Izzy (Ellen Page) is the daughter of a petrochemical CEO. The group uses the father/daughter connection to gain intimate access to the CEO and forces him to bathe in the waterway he has been using as a toxic dumping ground. This jam goes wrong when security guards arrive and shoot Izzy in the back as she and the others flee. Back at the squat, because of his poisoning, Doc’s hands tremble too much for him to perform surgery on Izzy. Sarah offers to do it for him and he tells her what to do. She manages to remove the bullet from Izzy’s abdomen, but Izzy dies and is buried near The East’s house.Even though Sarah and Benji have grown closer and Sarah implores him to just disappear, he insists that they go together to complete the final jam. Sarah refuses at first but finally gives in and the two begin a long drive, during which Sarah falls asleep. When she awakens, she realizes that Benji is driving her to the Hiller Brood headquarters outside Washington, D.C. He reveals that he has always suspected her of being a Hiller Brood operative, and that Luca also thought this, but brought her in as a test. Benji wants Sarah to obtain a NOC list of Hiller Brood agents all over the world, which will be The East’s third and final jam, to “watch” them. Having successfully obtained the NOC list using her cell phone’s memory card, Sarah runs into Sharon in the hall. She confronts Sharon about the firm’s activities, thus revealing her new allegiances. Sharon has Sarah’s cellphone confiscated as she leaves the building. As Hiller Brood was sharing information about their activities with the FBI, The East’s hideout is raided and Doc is arrested. He sacrifices himself to ensure the getaway of the remaining members. Sarah tells Benji she has failed to get the NOC list. Benji reveals he means to use the list to expose publicly all the Hiller Brood agents. Since they are undercover, however, it is likely they could be killed. Sarah chooses not to go on the run with Benji. She and Benji part at a truck-stop as Benji heads out of the country. In truth, Sarah has the NOC list (because it was not on her phone, she had swallowed the memory card instead). It is clear that her time undercover with The East has changed her. The film ends with an epilogue of her personally contacting her former coworkers (those undercover) and attempting to demonstrate what nefarious corporate crimes Hiller Brood clients want to protect. She hopes to change each operative’s mind about their undercover activities and perhaps join her in ecological activism. She is paying tribute to the things The East believes in and attempting to make a difference in her own way, without causing harm to anyone.In spite of occasional misfires, the screenplay is exceptional especially in its efficiency: there is so much going on that there isn’t much time to devote to individual characters or relationships – Marling and Ritter’s suffers the most – but Marling and Batmanglij make every second count as each line is weighted with enough subtext to tell us the stories implicitly and thoroughly nevertheless. The major characters are very well-drawn; even though we only get glimpses into Skarsgard, Page and Kebbell’s pasts, we feel we know them inside and out. The film moves along at a fluid, adrenaline-pumping pace and the tension is genuine and organic rather than forced – the audience’s investment in the story grows from affection for the characters and connection with their ideals rather than cheap editing tricks, manipulative music and stylized lighting or sound. Music is used so sparsely that when The National’s “About Today” plays over a silent montage of Marling’s character breaking down, its emotional weight surprises and stuns. The ending is comparatively underwhelming, but the overall package is one of the best, most provocative thrillers in years.

REVIEW: THE GHOST (AKA The Ghost Writer)

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Pierce Brosnan (The World’s End)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
Timothy Hutton (The Dark Half)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Robert Pugh (Game of Thrones)
Eli Wallach (The Godfather – Part II)

Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)A British ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is hired by the publishing firm Rhinehart, Inc. to complete the autobiography of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). His predecessor and Lang’s aide, Mike McAra, has recently died in an apparent drowning accident. The writer travels to Old Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where Lang and his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) are staying, along with Lang’s personal assistant (and implied mistress), Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall). Amelia forbids the writer from taking McAra’s manuscript outside, emphasising that it is a security risk.Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)Shortly after the writer’s arrival, former Foreign Secretary Richard Rycart (Robert Pugh) accuses Lang of authorising the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA, a possible war crime. Lang faces prosecution by the International Criminal Court unless he stays in the US (or one of the few other countries that does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction). While Lang is in Washington, the writer finds items in McAra’s room suggesting he might have stumbled across a dark secret. Among them is an envelope containing photographs and a phone number the writer discovers is Rycart’s.Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer (2010)During a bike ride, the writer encounters an old man (Eli Wallach) who tells him the current couldn’t have taken McAra’s body from the ferry where he disappeared to the beach where it was discovered. He also reveals a neighbour saw flashlights on the beach the night McAra died, but later fell down the stairs and went into a coma. Later, Ruth admits to the writer Lang had never been very political, and until recently always took her advice. When he tells her the old man’s story, she suddenly rushes out into the rainy night to “clear her head.” Upon returning, she reveals Lang and McAra had argued the night before the latter’s death, and the ghost writer and Ruth have a one night stand while Adam is away.The next morning, the writer takes the BMW X5[5] McAra used on his last journey. Unable to cancel the pre-programmed directions on the car’s sat-nav, he decides to follow them. He arrives in Belmont at the home of Professor Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson). Emmett denies anything more than a cursory acquaintance with Lang, despite the writer showing him two pictures of the pair among photographs found in McAra’s possessions, as well as another on the wall of Emmett’s study. When the writer tells Emmett the sat-nav proves McAra visited him the night he died, Emmett denies meeting McAra and becomes evasive. The writer leaves, and successfully eludes a car that is pursuing him. He boards the ferry back to Martha’s Vineyard, but when he sees the pursuit car drive aboard, he flees the boat at the last moment and checks into a small motel by the ferry dock.Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer (2010)With no one else to turn to, the writer redials Rycart’s number, asking for help. While waiting, the writer does research on Emmett and links his think tank to a military contractor. He also finds leads connecting Emmett to the CIA. When Rycart arrives, he reveals McAra gave him documents linking Lang to so-called “torture flights,” where terrorist suspects were placed on private jets owned by Emmett’s company, to be tortured while airborne. Rycart further claims that McAra found new evidence, which he wrote about in the “beginning” of the manuscript. The men cannot, however, find anything in the early pages. The writer discusses Emmett’s relationship with Lang, while Rycart recounts how Lang’s decisions as Prime Minister uniformly benefited US interests. When the writer is summoned to accompany Lang on his return flight by private jet, he confronts Lang and accuses him of being a CIA agent recruited by Emmett. Lang derides his suggestions.Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer (2010)Upon leaving the aircraft, Lang is assassinated by a British anti-war protester, who is in turn shot by Lang’s bodyguards. Nevertheless, the writer is asked to complete the book for posthumous publication, as in light of Lang’s death it will be a certain best-seller. Amelia invites him to the book’s launch party in London, where she unwittingly tells him the Americans tightened access to the book, as the “beginnings” contained evidence threatening national security. She also tells him Emmett, who is in attendance, was Ruth’s tutor when she was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard. The writer realises the clues were hidden in the original manuscript in the opening words of each chapter, and discovers the message: “Lang’s wife Ruth was recruited as a CIA agent by Professor Paul Emmett of Harvard University.” He concludes Ruth shaped Lang’s every political decision to benefit the USA under direction from the CIA.Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)The writer passes a note to Ruth revealing his discovery. She unfolds the note, and is devastated. When she sees the writer raising a glass, she is kept from following him by Emmett and other assistants. As the writer leaves the party he attempts to take a taxi, without success. As he crosses the street off-camera, a car accelerates in his direction to an impending collision. As witnesses react in horror, the pages containing McAra’s manuscript are blowing in the wind, leaving the writer’s fate unconfirmed.Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)Polanski is a master of subtlety, grace, and wit. His eye creates breathtaking and beautiful shots. His ear adds a malevolent and demented humor to the score of a film. There is most always something unspeakable, indescribable beneath the surface of a Polanski film. Something unnerving about the tone but never overbearing, or pounding the audience over the head with it. This is certainly true of The Ghost Writer. What I found surprising, not being familiar with the novel on which it is based, was the political statement being made. Humorously portraying certain key figures in the political environment of the last decade. In any other hands, this could never have been done so believably and deftly. All the key performances are on target. And how could they not be. For Polanski knows how to work with actors and guide them in creating such memorable characters. Ewan McGregor certainly fits his role seamlessly as does Olivia Williams. So many could learn from Polanski how a thriller needs to be constructed in order to hold an audience to the very end. The word entertainment means to ‘hold in between’ which is what The Ghost Writer does from beginning to its haunting and inevitable conclusion.

REVIEW: MAN ON A LEDGE

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Jamie Bell (King Kong)
Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Génesis Rodríguez (Hours)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Woodsman)
Edward Burns (One Missed Call)
Titus Welliver (Gone Baby Gone)
Felix Solis (The West Wing)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)

In New York City, Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) checks into the Roosevelt Hotel under the false name of Walker, goes to his hotel room on the 21st floor, and climbs on the ledge, ready to commit suicide. The crowd below calls the police, with Dante Marcus (Titus Welliver) controlling the crowd, while Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) tries to talk with Nick. However, Nick will only speak to negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who is on a leave of absence, after failing to save a suicidal policeman. Lydia arrives at the hotel room and manages to acquire Nick’s fingerprints from a cigarette they share. Dougherty has them analyzed and discovers that Nick is an ex-policeman, arrested for stealing the $40 million Monarch diamond from businessman David Englander (Ed Harris). Nick was given a 25-year sentence but escaped from the Sing Sing Correctional Facility one month earlier, after being allowed to attend his father’s funeral. Nick, however, maintains his innocence and accuses Englander of framing him for the theft of the diamond, as Englander lost his fortune and was too proud to sell the diamond.Unknown to the police, Nick is merely distracting them while his brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and Joey’s girlfriend, Angie (Génesis Rodríguez), break into Englander’s vault across the street, to steal the diamond and prove Nick’s innocence. Meanwhile, Dougherty informs Marcus of Nick’s identity, and Marcus orders the jewelry store’s security to check the vault. Joey and Angie are able to evade them but do not find the diamond. They set off the alarms, tricking Englander into retrieving the diamond and ambush him, stealing the diamond at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Nick’s ex-partner, Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie), arrives at the hotel with evidence that Nick is planning something and demands to be allowed into the hotel room. Lydia does not trust him, and Dougherty backs her up. Ackerman claims he has found bomb schematics in a storage unit Nick rented and is convinced that he will detonate an explosive somewhere. While the crowd is evacuated by the bomb squad, Lydia, believing in Nick’s innocence, calls Internal Affairs and discovers that three of the cops employed by Englander were suspected of being corrupt: Ackerman, Marcus and a deceased officer called Walker.Joey and Angie enter the hotel and hand the bag containing the diamond to the hotel concierge (William Sadler). The concierge pockets the diamond. Englander calls Marcus, one of the men who helped him frame Nick, and has him capture Joey and Angie. Nick begins to make his escape through the hotel, at one point being aided by the concierge who tells him “everyone is rooting for you, kid,” while handing him a disguise (and the diamond). Marcus chases Nick to the roof, where he has Lydia arrested for obstruction. Englander brings Joey and Angie, threatening to throw Joey off the roof, if Nick does not give him the diamond. Nick turns it over, and Englander leaves. Meanwhile, Lydia escapes custody and rushes back to the roof. Marcus attempts to force Nick to jump off the roof, but Ackerman arrives and shoots Marcus, who wounds Ackerman. Nick rushes to Ackerman’s side, who apologizes and reveals that he had no idea that Englander would frame Nick for stealing the diamond. Marcus survives, as he is wearing a bulletproof vest, and is preparing to kill Nick, when Lydia shoots him, but does not kill him. Nick jumps from the roof onto an airbag set up earlier by the police, catches up to Englander, beats him and pulls the diamond he had only just recently given him from his jacket, proving Nick’s innocence in front of both the police and public, resulting in Englander being arrested.Later, Nick is cleared of all charges and released from custody and meets Joey, Angie, and Lydia at a bar. There it is revealed that the hotel concierge is in fact Nick and Joey’s father, Frank Cassidy, who had faked his own death in order to help Nick break out of prison and prove his innocence. Joey proposes to Angie with a diamond ring presumably stolen from Englander’s vault. She accepts and they all celebrate together.Man on a ledge is a good film, and if you stick with it & follow it’s threads you will find it worthy of your time.

REVIEW: CHLOE

 

CAST

Julianne Moore (Carrie)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Amanda Seyfried (Red Riding Hood)
Max Thieriot (Bates Motel)
R. H. Thomson (Bone Daddy)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Meghan Heffern (The Shrine)
Natalie Lisinska (Total Recall)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)

Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson in Chloe (2009)In a voice-over, Chloe discusses her business as a call girl. Catherine is a gynecologist and her husband David is a college professor. Catherine suspects David of having an affair after she sees a cell-phone picture of him with a female student. Catherine stops by the hotel bar where Chloe waits for clients, telling Chloe that she wants to hire her to test David’s loyalty. Chloe later tells Catherine that David asked her if he could kiss her, which he did. Catherine is angered but insists that Chloe meet with David again.Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried in Chloe (2009)Over the next few days, Catherine and Chloe meet multiple times, and Chloe describes in explicit detail her encounters with David, which arouses Catherine during one meeting; Chloe kisses Catherine, and Catherine, surprised by this, abruptly leaves. Later, when meeting with David at a get-together, she is taken aback by his awareness of the scent of her lotion; it is the same lotion that Chloe wears. Upset by this, Catherine leaves and meets with Chloe at a hotel. The two go into a hotel room, where Catherine starts undressing Chloe before asking Chloe to tell her how David touches her, visibly aroused. Chloe then dominates Catherine and has erotic sex with her. After having sex with Chloe, Catherine arrives home later than usual, leading David to ask her if she has been unfaithful. Catherine tells him she thinks he has been unfaithful as well, and the two argue, stopping after being interrupted by their son, Michael.Amanda Seyfried in Chloe (2009)Catherine meets with Chloe and calls off their relationship but later asks her to meet her at a coffee house frequented by David. While there, she demands that David admit that he is having an affair. Chloe walks in, and David does not recognize her. Chloe leaves quickly, and Catherine realizes that Chloe made up her encounters with David. David admits that he has fantasized about other women, and expects Catherine to make a similar admission with regard to men. When she does not, David becomes agitated. Catherine then confesses her passionate sexual encounter with Chloe. She apologizes, saying that she felt she became invisible to David as she aged, while David became more attractive to her, and that this got in the way of their sex life. The couple reconciles.Amanda Seyfried in Chloe (2009)Chloe goes to Catherine and David’s house and seduces Michael before having sex with him in Catherine’s bed. Catherine arrives home, and Chloe tells Catherine that she is in love with her. She threatens to hurt Catherine with her hairpin. Catherine asks Chloe what she wants. Chloe requests a kiss, and Catherine complies. Michael sees, startling Catherine and causing her to push Chloe into the bedroom window. Chloe manages to grab hold of the frame, but she intentionally lets go and falls to her death. Sometime later, Catherine attends Michael’s graduation party and wears Chloe’s hairpin in her hair.Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried in Chloe (2009)Chloe is a very solid and well done film. Unfortunately it has one major flaw, the predictably of the plot. I saw the twist coming from a mile way and I think any avid movie-goer will too. Still, it was a great watch, very entertaining and extremely well acted. Worth seeing.

REVIEW: DANGEROUS LIES

Jessie T. Usher and Camila Mendes in Dangerous Lies (2020)

Starring

Camila Mendes (Palm Springs)
Jessie Usher (The Boys)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
Cam Gigandet (Priest)
Sasha Alexander (Yes Man)
Elliott Gould (American History X)

Jessie T. Usher and Camila Mendes in Dangerous Lies (2020)Katie and Adam are a young married couple who are struggling to pay their bills. The opening scene shows Adam saving Katie’s boss in an armed robbery at a diner. Katie is hired as a caregiver by Leonard, an elderly wealthy man who grows close to her. Leonard tells Katie he keeps hearing noises in his house during the night. One day, Katie tells Leonard about her financial struggles. Leonard insists on helping her out with money, but Katie asks him to give Adam a job as his gardener instead, which he does. An insistent real estate agent, Hayden, appears and asks if he can buy the house. Katie refuses. Unbeknownst to Katie and Adam, Hayden starts to observe them on a regular basis.Elliott Gould in Dangerous Lies (2020)Soon after, Leonard writes Katie a $7,000 check. Katie does not want to accept it, but Adam convinces her to use the check to pay the bills that are due and pay the rest back to Leonard. The next day, they arrive at Leonard’s home to find him dead. The couple also finds a trunk full of cash. Adam wants to steal the money and Katie reluctantly agrees, so they decide to put it in a safety deposit box. As Adam enters the house to obtain the money, a mysterious intruder knocks him out, but doesn’t find the cash. At Leonard’s funeral they meet his attorney, Julia, who tells them about his will. Katie has been left everything, and the couple subsequently move into the house. While Katie is reluctant to accept the inheritance, Adam becomes increasingly greedy. He dreams of expensive vacations as well as luxury items and contemplates dodging the death tax.Camila Mendes in Dangerous Lies (2020)Hayden reappears and threatens Katie, insisting that he must buy the house. She harshly refuses. As Adam comes back he tells her that he believes he is being followed, Katie realizes that Hayden is after them. Detective Chesler becomes suspicious of Adam and starts to investigate the circumstances surrounding Leonard’s death. While exploring the living space above the garage, Katie finds a body with uncashed checks written to Leonard’s previous gardener, Ethan Doyle, who has been shot and killed. She also finds a bag of diamonds on the body. Katie wants to call Detective Chesler, but Adam convices her to keep the diamonds. He dumps the body and burns all evidence of Ethan’s existence.Camila Mendes in Dangerous Lies (2020)Detective Chesler suggests to Katie the possibility that Adam and the shooter at the diner knew each other. Katie becomes growingly suspicious of Adam, especially after finding an empty bottle of pills that wasn’t accounted for in the logbook of Leonard’s medications. She meets with Julia to discuss a course of action. Julia warns Katie about Adam betraying her and says the police are about to obtain a search warrant on her house. When they inspect the safety deposit box, the money is gone. Julia suspects that Adam stole it and tells Katie to get him in the house and call her. When Katie confronts Adam about the money, he tells her he found out that Hayden is actually a jewel thief who was recently released from prison, and not the real estate agent he portrayed himself to be. They realize that Ethan was Hayden’s partner in crime and Hayden killed him to get his share of the diamonds. Ethan, mortally wounded, fled to Leonard’s house where he died. Hayden knows the diamonds are hidden somewhere in the house and is eager to find them.Camila Mendes in Dangerous Lies (2020)As Katie and Adam are getting ready to leave, Hayden shows up and holds Katie at gunpoint, asking for the diamonds. Hayden and Adam exchange gunfire and both are killed. Katie rushes to Adam’s side, the last thing he says to her is “in the garden” before he dies of his wounds. Suddenly, Julia arrives. Katie tells her that Hayden was the one who killed Leonard, giving him an overdose of his medication. She also tells her that Leonard claimed he heard someone in the house at night, who must have been Hayden breaking in and searching for the diamonds. Julia reaches for Hayden’s gun and holds Katie at gunpoint, revealing that she is part of the plot. She had met Hayden during her public defender duties and orchestrated everything, including Leonard’s forged last will, to get a share of the diamonds. Detective Chesler arrives in time and shoots Julia dead.Camila Mendes in Dangerous Lies (2020)Four months later, Katie is shown to be pregnant and gardening outside. Chesler tells her that the case is closed and that Adam would be kept off of the list of suspects, keeping his reputation and memory intact. Once more, Katie tells her that she still has no idea where the diamonds are. In the last shot, Katie turns the sprinklers on and leaves the garden. The water moves the soil aside and the diamonds are shown to be buried under a tree, making sense of Adam’s dying words.Camila Mendes in Dangerous Lies (2020)The film was a good pan, but simple plot. There are some of anticipation and excitement, but they are not to the extent required. They needed a dramatic plot more than that. In the end, I can say that it is an amusing movie that has some thrilling and is worth watching