The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.
Notorious is a biopic of one the greatest, Biggie Smalls, who curiously narrates himself in this film of his life, from hustling on the streets to becoming the king of East-Coast hip-hop. Despite his many indiscretions, Big Poppa is portrayed favourably, because as you know, "Mo Money = Mo Problems". However, such empathy only detracts from the portrait of an already dubious character, even though his music is obviously tight.
A doctor's wife becomes the only person with the ability to see in a town where everyone is struck with a mysterious case of sudden blindness.
This allegorical film depicts societal collapse, triggered by mass loss of sight, accompanied by the descent into ugly degradation as people struggle against each other for survival. Filmed with a starkness that provides a sense of the white fog which precedes the blindness, and displaying a fiercely committed performance from the lead actress, this movie is a challenging experience which is certain to stimulate both thought and conversation afterwards.
When an ex-superhero is murdered, a vigilante named Rorschach begins an investigation into the murder, which begins to lead to a much more terrifying conclusion.
"Watchmen" is by all accounts yet another successful comic-book adaptation, resplendent in its visual flair. The artistic style matches the grandeur of a plot that also manages to deliver intellectually, as it explores the complex nature of mankind. However, the disappointing drawback is a myriad of subplots that dilute the story, making it feel convoluted at times. Still worth a watch - if not for the brilliant title sequence, then for the vintage soundtrack.
A chronicle on the life and presidency of George W. Bush.
This movie is not what people might expect, as it sets out to construct an almost empathetic "W". The undeniable highlight is the superbly convincing portrayal by the lead actor, who manages to embody the character study so well, sometimes you forget just who's on screen. However, criticism lies in a feeling that the biopic resigns itself not to delve deeper in its attempt to humanise the man. Although this nonpartisan style may disappoint some, the insight provided by the filmmaker makes it a film that shouldn't be "misunderestimated".
Last Chance HarveyWendy Slevison
In London for his daughter's wedding, a rumpled man finds his romantic spirits lifted by a new woman in his life.
"Last Chance Harvey" is the story of a late-in-life romance between two dull and dreary characters who feel that life is passing them by. With no sizzle between the stars, and no sparkle in the script, the audience has no investment at all in the relationship. The film is stolid and unsatisfying, offering little more than a chance to have a snooze, which you might as well do at home.
Zack and Miri Make a PornoAnthony Macali
Lifelong platonic friends Zack and Miri look to solve their respective cash-flow problems by making an adultfilm together.
"Zack and Miri Make a Porno" is a film of two halves. The first half is hilarious and fantastic, introducing us to the loveable friends and their daily escapades. It's when the title comes to life that the film fails miserably. It's certainly not as much fun as promised, leaving you wishing Zack and Miri found a more entertaining solution to their cash problems.
A grief counselor working with a group of plane-crash survivors finds herself at the root of a mystery when her clients begin to disappear.
"Passengers" is a horrible drama that fails dismally in its feeble attempt to pose as a thriller. Everything about the movie is decidedly uneventful, accentuated by sluggish pacing and an unremarkable script. The gloomy camerawork throughout succeeds only in making the vapid plot seem monotonous; the only respite coming when it inevitably crashes and burns in a dissatisfying twist-ending. If you pay to go watch this film, you will have been taken for a ride.
He's Just Not That Into YouWendy Slevison
This Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story lines deals with the challenges of trying to understand human behaviour.
Adapted from the best-selling book of the same name, this movie is overpopulated with under-developed characters making mistakes, behaving badly, and being downright stupid - surprise surprise, mostly the women. An ensemble cast, who individually can be very good, get lost in the mire of a script laden with stereotypes. While generally entertaining, there are sections where you find yourself not caring who's just not into who.
My Bloody ValentineCourtney Slevison
A decade after the notorious Valentine's Day massacre, Tom returns to his quaint hometown only to find that a string of similar murders has started up.
A remake of the 1981 movie of the same name, "My Bloody Valentine" suffers from a serious case of been there, done that. The film is basically a string of clichéd horror scenarios strung together by a weak and confusing plot. The characters are stiff and unlikeable, making it hard to care when they get hacked to pieces by the revenge-seeking serial killer. While aspiring to be a classic retro slasher flick, this movie struggles to be anything but a waste of time.
Pride and GloryAnthony Macali
A saga centered on a multi-generational family of NYPD officers. The family's moral codes are tested when Ray Tierney, investigates a case that reveals an incendiary police corruption scandal.
"Pride and Glory" is a slick production, albeit with a gritty "handheld" style. The characters shoot through scripted dialogue in indistinguishable fashion, lacking the creativity to generate an interesting "corrupt cops" story. To the films' credit, the ways the 'force' extract information from the bad guys is refreshingly original. The producers should take pride in these rare moments as the rest of the film is slow, tiresome and far from glorious.
Ghost TownAndrew O'Dea
When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts.
Simply put, this movie is a 'rom-com' that is neither romantic, nor funny. It utterly fails to deliver on the potential of its premise, instead delivering a plot that feels all too scripted and formulaic. As it labors along in an unimaginative state, you can't help but be frustrated by comedic talent that is severely underutilized. A completely transparent attempt at a comedy, "Ghost Town" is hauntingly bad.
A mother's kidnapped son is returned to her, but she realises immediately that the boy is not hers.
"Changeling" is an example of classic movie making at it's most potent. A magnificent unhurried telling of an extraordinary true story, it's also a commentary on social and moral dilemmas still faced today. The authentic visual feel, exceptional cast and old-style direction combine to create an outstanding film. A superb performance by the lead actress pays no heed to her physical beauty, focusing wholly on the anguish, despair and struggle of an ordinary woman fighting to be heard by the powers-that-be. Has anything really changed?
Transporter 3Anthony Macali
Frank Martin puts the driving gloves on to deliver Valentina, the kidnapped daughter of a Ukranian government official, from Marseilles to Odessa on the Black Sea.
Third time around, it's obviously hard to keep things fresh. "Transporter 3" pushes the boundaries in action and style, with absolutely preposterous results. If the story wasn't so grounded in reality, they could get away with such absurdity, but the expressionless one-dimensional characters and "fast-forward the action bits" film technique make it very frustrating to watch. This movie is a disappointing package that never delivers.
Role ModelsAnthony Macali
Wild behavior forces a pair of energy drink reps to enroll in a Big Brother program.
This film is testament to those 'crass-comedies with charm' which have now grown to become their own sub-genre. Whilst containing your typical vulgar jokes, it doesn't rely on them for cheap laughs. Instead, the most uproarious scenes are generated by low-key interplay shared between some of the movies' more eccentric characters. There's never a dull moment as it propels you into the hilariously crazy and endearing world of 'Live Action Interactive Roleplaying Explorers', or L.A.I.R.E. "Role Models" is definately a comedy to aspire to.
Revolutionary RoadAndrew O'Dea
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950's struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.
In such an involving examination of relationships, you'd expect this to be a more emotionally engaging film. The thing that sustains it is the phenomenal acting from the entire cast. The two leads feed off of each other's despair so brilliantly it almost hides the fact that the script is very mediocre. That's not to say nothing can be garnered from the tragic beauty of the story; it's just that the monotony at times makes "Revolutionary Road" feel like a one-way street.
Set in 1964, Doubt centres on a nun who confronts a priest, suspecting him of abusing a student.
"Doubt" is an example of the play-to-film translation not always succeeding. Featuring two highly acclaimed actors, a very good support cast, and a fine reputation as a stage piece, what could go wrong? Well, something did. The lead performances, while magnificent, overshadow the subtle material; the glaring metaphorical symbols used are clumsily overworked, and several serious issues, besides the main one, are highlighted and then largely ignored. Worth seeing, as there are some truly great scenes.
Gran TorinoAndrew O'Dea
Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbour, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal his prized possession: a 1972 Gran Torino.
"Gran Torino" tells the story of a man in transition. The film is driven by a weathered and steely performance from the lead actor, who peerlessly chisels out an insular and reluctant hero. A no-nonsense aesthetic means it shuns political correctness, presenting an unrepentant bigot who doesn't discriminate - he hates everyone. Surprisingly, it's these old school prejudices that create moments of genuine comedy and warmth. Highly recommended.
Based on actual events, a plot to assassinate Hitler is unfurled during the height of WWII.
The strength of this film lies in a superb production design that helps to construct a positively accurate and immersive account of 1940's Berlin. It creates a stylistic period feel that is amplified by a stirring orchestral score throughout. Unfortunately, much of the authenticity, and subsequent integrity, is lost on American and British accents portraying German ones; as well as an unbefitting and uninspiring performance from the lead. "Valkyrie" definitely won't cater to everyone, but those impassioned by this period in history may find it rousing.
Bride WarsWendy Slevison
Two best friends become rivals when they schedule their respective weddings on the same day.
If your idea of comedy is watching two intelligent and astute female characters descend into idiocy over their oh-so-precious weddings, then you may just enjoy this movie. To everyone else, I offer a warning - AVOID. "Bride Wars" is squirmingly bad clichéd drivel, which relies too heavily on uninspired sight gags for its laughs. There are far more worthy films for discerning moviegoers to spend their money on, and supporting this rubbish only encourages more of it.
Seven PoundsWendy Slevison
An IRS agent with a fateful secret embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.
"Seven Pounds" is an average movie that could have been better with a heavier hand from the editing department and a lighter touch from the director. The story, while powerful and engaging, evolves slowly, and there are too many lingering shots of the main character's pained face. When all the pieces of the puzzle do finally come together, the factual implausibility unfortunately weakens the film's credibility.
Hotel for DogsAndrew O'Dea
Two kids secretly take in nine stray dogs at a vacant house.
"Hotel for Dogs" is full of cute dogs doing cute things; suffice to say that the canine stars outshine the human ones. It's our furry friends that provide all of the often hilarious and adorable scenes. The plot is somewhat formulaic, but that's to be expected from a children's movie. Kids will love it, but ultimately, the success of this film will be greatly influenced as to whether or not viewers fit into the dog loving demographic. It'll perform neat tricks for some, but will roll over and play dead for others.
The Tale of DespereauxWendy Slevison
The tale of three unlikely heroes - a misfit mouse, an unhappy rat, and a bumbling servant girl with cauliflower ears - whose fates are intertwined with that of a castle's young princess.
This movie, while looking like a beautiful old edition of a German Fairytale, has a bewildered storyline and crudely realised characters. While the nobility are given elegant equine faces, the servant girl and her father look like cabbage patch dolls - clichés that are disappointing given the potential of the animation genre. This film has no warmth or heart, and is a lacklustre contribution to the holiday movie releases for children.
The canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show that believes his powers are real embarks on a cross country trek to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real.
With a premise as cute as our hero, "Bolt" was always going to succeed, especially in the hands of a production team who know exactly what they're doing. As Bolt discovers how to behave like a 'normal' dog, many will delight in his lessons in canine antics. Classifying films like this as 'cartoons' do them an injustice, considering how visually stunning the animation is. You may forget the film quicker than you can say 'Bolt', but will thoroughly enjoy the show.
Marley & MeWendy Slevison
A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.
"Marley and Me" positions itself as a romantic comedy but unfortunately it fails to deliver. With no chemistry between its lead actors, the characters and plot are difficult to engage with, and you find yourself not really caring about the human stars. It's the 22 adorable Labradors who share the role of Marley that are the best part of this movie, and the only laughs come from the innumerable scenes of chewing and destruction. For dog-lovers with lots of patience only.
Yes ManWendy Slevison
When wet blanket Carl decides to try saying "yes" instead of "no" to everything asked of him, his life changes in more ways than he could ever have imagined.
"Yes Man" is a warm-hearted, thought-provoking, and often hilarious comedy that makes for a very entertaining film. With a script perfectly suited to its unique star, the imaginative twists and turns of the plot will have you firmly cheering for Carl as he experiences the ups and downs of his experiment, but also pondering your own life. The message here is simple - try embracing more of life's opportunities.