In just about every one of Kevin Hart's scenes in Ride Along, there's a joke that is just aching to find its way out of the diminutive, rascally comic actor. Hart is a small-scale physical comedian — of the same ilk as Jack Black — who puts nuclear-degree energy into his facial contortions, anatomical outbursts, and the delivery of every gag in general. If only he had material that was crafted with the same energy.
Unfortunately, nothing else about Ride Along seems at all "hard at work." Not the script, which pads a lifeless story with lazy comedy, and certainly not his screen partner Ice Cube, whose only stage direction seems to be "frown, and be taller than Kevin Hart." So lifeless is Ice Cube that even his machismo-obsessed straight man bit doesn't really work. Instead of the virile and intimidating "bad cop," he comes off as a disapproving middle aged dad without much to show for his own life.
But the script pairs the wily, overzealous high school security guard and video game junkie Ben (Hart) with no-nonsense lawman James (Ice Cube) on the titular ride along, with the scrappy cop-wannabe hoping to prove to the force veteran that he's good enough to marry the latter's younger sister. In earnest, he's not. Ben never puts any respectable effort into learning the tools of the trade, insisting on employing his amateur style and controlling the radio despite his proclamations that he wants, and deserves, James' trust. And James is no saint either — he's irresponsible on crime scenes, violent with perps, and disgruntled to the point of being unable to work with anybody else on the force. These are not good police officers... of course, you'll say, this is a comedy. But where are the laughs, then?
They're not absent entirely, you just have to look for them. In a movie so focused with big, broad humor, it's the smaller comedy that actually lands best. Hart's background mutterings and fumblings, his emoticon-laden texts to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter, whose only stage direction seems to be "smile, and never wear a full outfit of clothing"), and a bizarre repetition of the word "weird" from supporting player John Leguizamo. All good for unexpected chuckles, while jokes like Hart facing off with a pre-teen or being blown backwards into a brick wall after firing a large gun are all lazy, familiar, and flat.
Structurally, the script is a mess. Ride Along spends far too much time on set up — we get it, Hart and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Ice Cube don't get along — and far too much time on wrap-up — there's a gigantic, dramatic warehouse shootout that, in any other movie, would be the climax, but there's plenty more to go after that — without any cohesive middle to make the movie feel like... a movie.
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Hart, who leaps at every comic opportunity like a kangaroo (wallaby would be more appropriate), is suited just right for a buddy cop comedy, but he needs something fresh with which to work — a real character, an interesting story, actually funny jokes. Even just one of these would be fine!
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It's rare that a sequel trumps the original but The Expendables 2 manages to do just that with a steady stream of one-liners and welcome weathered faces as well as a few new ingredients. E2 seems even more self-aware of its own silliness especially with Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain (named Vilain of course) and Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger popping up in smaller roles alongside previous Expendables Sylvester Stallone Jason Statham Jet Li Dolph Lundgren Bruce Willis Terry Crews and Randy Couture.
Then again The Expendables wasn't any sort of action classic; it was like writer/director/star Stallone threw a whole bunch of ideas at the wall to see which would stick then added massive amounts of weapons and the occasional hand-to-hand combat. It was popular but it definitely not the kind of awesome actioner that the stars were able to make 10 or 20 years ago. There's the rub actually; like women actors who have written or directed their own projects because nothing else was available or satisfactory Stallone created The Expendables because Hollywood didn't seem to know what to do with him and his fellow action stars as they got older. It's easy to criticize Stallone et al for not doing the same amount of stunt work or hand-to-hand fighting that for example Statham is capable of but the whole thrust of the movie is that they're expendable -- to themselves to the world and until Stallone kickstarted these movies to Hollywood.
E2 is still clumsy but it's a little more adventurous and a little more introspective. Two new additions to the crew seem to throw everyone for a loop in one way or another. Liam Hemsworth shows up as Bill the Kid a sniper who left the military after a raid in Afghanistan went horribly wrong; his age and hopefulness not to mention physical prowess is a foil the Sylvester Stallone's Barney Ross and one that Barney is well aware of. Nan Yu joins the team as Maggie who is apparently the only person who can disarm the safe that holds whatever secret thing Church (Willis) has sent them to retrieve. And if the Expendables don't get her back alive Church will make them pay because even though Maggie is some sort of multilingual computer genius with a vicious roundhouse she's a lady. On one hand perhaps we're supposed to gather that this group of old dogs is learning new tricks by having to deal with a smart capable woman in their midst; the attempts Gunner (Lundgren) makes to flirt with her are clunky and goofy and she's obviously way too smart for fall for that claptrap. On the other when she whips out some instruments of torture Barney cracks "What are you going to do give them a pedicure?" And of course her role also devolves into an incredibly stilted and unbelievable romantic interest for Barney. One point for trying but two points deducted for falling into the romantic interest trap.
At times it's hard to tell whether or not we're laughing with the crew or at them. Plus because of how jam-packed the cast is some actors get the short end of the stick. Statham is the most charismatic of the bunch and he also has the most impressive hand-to-hand fight scenes but the emphasis in E2 is sheer firepower so he doesn't get nearly enough screen time. Couture is fairly forgettable while Lundgren plays the lunkiest of lunkheads; the running joke is that he has a chemical engineering degree from MIT and was a Fulbright Scholar which is supposed to be funny... except it's also true. (We're to assume he's mended his evil ways between the first Expendables and the second.) Is Lundgren agreeably poking fun at himself the same way Schwarzenegger hams it up at every turn? Or does E2 have shades of JCVD which stars Van Damme was a washed-up action star? Are the emotional moments supposed to fall so hilariously flat on purpose? For some reason it seems important to tease out which parts of these movies are earnest and which are tongue-in-cheek.
There's a weird melancholy about watching this group of aging action stars that has the same tang as watching someone you love grow older especially as they try so very hard to fight the ravages of time. If you dig a little deeper maybe deeper than E2 warrants you could find a well of sadness below the back-slapping antics. The world has changed and even though Stallone and his crew have muscles so hard and juicy they could pop out of their skin like grapes they can't compete with Bill the Kid and Maggie and others like them. They know it and we know it and while it's good fun to see old friends or onscreen enemies kill scores of bad guys (led by JCVD sporting a truly horrible fake Baphomet-style neck tattoo) there are better smarter more exciting and more interesting action films on the horizon.
And there's also The Expendables 3.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The Toronto International Film Festival has an impressive slate of films lined up for its 35th anniversary. The Canadian film festival will host 25 World Premieres, 15 Gala Premiers and 35 Special Presentations films from a multitude of acclaimed and upcoming directors. The most anticipated films to debut at the festival include Darren Aronofsky’s followup to The Wrestler, the stately-looking Black Swan, and Mark Romanek’s adaptation of bestseller Never Let Me Go, starring new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield. Robert Redford’s Lincoln assassination drama The Conspirator and John Cameron Mitchell’s tearjerker Rabbit Hole, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s perplexing Biutiful are also generating some interest and buzz. Less promising features include Stone, a thriller so generic that Ed Norton's cornrows look like the most interesting thing about it, and Trust, David Schwimmer's melodramatic internet predator panic piece. But don't quote us on that, film festivals are always full of unexpected surprises, and you can never be sure what's going to become a hit.
The Toronto Film Festival will take place from September 9-19th. For a full summary of the films appearing in the festival, check out the official list below.
The Bang Bang Club. Steven Silver, Canada/South Africa World Premiere The Bang Bang Club was the name given to four young photographers, Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva, whose photographs captured the final bloody days of white rule in South Africa and the final demise of apartheid. The film tells the remarkable and sometimes harrowing story of these young men – and the extraordinary extremes they went to in order to capture their pictures. The film stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, Neels Van Jaarsveld and Frank Rautenbach.
Barney's Version Richard J. Lewis, Canada/Italy North American Premiere From producer Robert Lantos, Barney’s Version is a film based on Mordecai Richler's prize-winning comic novel. Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) is a seemingly ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life. Barney?s candid confessional spans four decades and two continents, and includes three wives (Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Rachelle Lefevre), one outrageous father (Dustin Hoffman) and a charmingly dissolute best friend (Scott Speedman).
Black Swan Darren Aronofsky, USA North American Premiere A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company. Black Swan takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect. Black Swan also stars Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.
Casino Jack George Hickenlooper, Canada World Premiere Based on a true story, Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, the former high-powered lobbyist whose bribery schemes and fraudulent dealings with Indian casinos ultimately landed him in prison, and stunned the world. It remains the biggest scandal to hit Washington, D.C. since Watergate. The film also stars Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston, Rachelle Lefevre and Jon Lovitz.
The Conspirator Robert Redford, USA World Premiere While an angry nation seeks vengeance, a young union war hero must defend a mother accused of aiding her son in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Directed by Robert Redford, the film stars James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood and Tom Wilkinson.
The Debt John Madden, USA North American Premiere Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington star in this thriller about three Israeli Mossad agents on a 1965 mission to capture a notorious Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, secrets about the case emerge.
The Housemaid Im Sang-Soo, South Korea North American Premiere In this erotic thriller, the housemaid of an upper-class family becomes entangled in a dangerous tryst. A satirical look at class structure, reminiscent of the work of Claude Chabrol, this sexy soap opera is a story of revenge and retribution.
Janie Jones David M. Rosenthal, USA World Premiere Aspiring recording artist Ethan Brand gets a stunning surprise on the opening night of a tour – a strung out former groupie appears unexpectedly, pleading with him to care for their daughter while she pulls herself together. Enter Janie Jones.
The King's Speech Tom Hooper, United Kingdom/Australia North American Premiere The King's Speech tells the story of the man who would become King George VI, the father of the current Queen, Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George „Bertie? VI (Colin Firth) reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded nervous stammer and considered unfit to be King, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country into war.
Little White Lies Guillaume Canet, France World Premiere Despite a traumatic event, a group of friends decides to go ahead with their annual beach vacation. Their relationships, convictions, sense of guilt and friendship are sorely tested. They are finally forced to own up to the little white lies they have been telling each other. Directed by Guillaume Canet and starring: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte, Valérie Bonneton and Pascale Arbillot.
Peep World Barry Blaustein, USA World Premiere On the day of their father?s 70th birthday party, four siblings come to terms with the publication of a novel written by the youngest sibling that exposes the family?s most intimate secrets. The project's available for distribution, and stars Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Taraji Henson and Ron Rifkin.
Potiche François Ozon, France North American Premiere A bourgeois housewife (Catherine Deneuve) takes on a rough union leader (Gerard Depardieu) in François Ozon's sparkling comic war between the sexes, and the classes.
The Town Ben Affleck, USA North American Premiere The Town is a dramatic thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope, and escaping a past that has no future. In the Boston neighbourhood of Charlestown, Doug MacCray is the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers. But everything changed on the gang?s last job when they took bank manager Claire Keesey hostage. Questioning what she saw, Doug seeks out Claire. As their relationship deepens, Doug wants out of this life and the town, but now he must choose whether to betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.
The Way Emilio Estevez, USA World Premiere Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago. Driven by his profound sadness and desire to understand his son better, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage. Along the way he learns what it means to be a citizen of the world again and discovers the difference between “The life we live and the life we choose.”
West is West Andy De Emmony, United Kingdom World Premiere Manchester, Northern England, 1976. The now much-diminished, but still claustrophobic and dysfunctional, Khan family continues to struggle for survival. Sajid, the youngest Khan, is under heavy assault both from his father's tyrannical insistence on Pakistani tradition, and from the fierce bullies in the schoolyard. His father decides to pack him off to Mrs. Khan No 1 and family in the Punjab, the wife and daughters he had abandoned 30 years earlier. The sequel to East is East, West is West is the coming of age story of both 15-year-old Sajid and of his father, 60-year-old George Khan.
Another Year Mike Leigh, United Kingdom North American Premiere A happily married, middle-aged couple are visited by a number of unhappy and lonely friends who use them as confidantes. When an unmarried friend falls for their young son, they watch as events unfold. The film stars Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Peter Wight, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley, Karina Fernandez and Martin Savage.
Beginners Mike Mills, USA World Premiere When his 71-year-old father (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) must explore the honesty of his own relationships. From the director of Thumbsucker.
The Big Picture Eric Lartigau, France World Premiere Paul Exben is a success story. He has a great job, a glamorous wife and two wonderful sons, except that this is not the life he has been dreaming of. A moment of madness is going to change his life, forcing him to assume a new identity that will enable him to live his life fully. The Big Picture, an adaptation of the novel by Douglas Kennedy, is directed by Eric Lartigau and stars Romain Duris, Marina Foïs, Niels Arestrup and Catherine Deneuve. It is produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam.
Biutiful Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spain/Mexico North American Premiere This is a story of a man in free fall. On the road to redemption, darkness lights his way. Connected with the afterlife, Uxbal is a tragic hero and father of two who's sensing the danger of death. He struggles with a tainted reality and a fate that works against him in order to forgive, for love, and forever. The film stars Javier Bardem.
Blue Valentine Derek Cianfrance, USA Canadian Premiere Blue Valentine is the story of love found and love lost, told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks.
Brighton Rock Rowan Joffe, United Kingdom World Premiere Based on Graham Greene's 1938 novel, we follow the odd relationship between a young thug on the rise in the British underground and a tea room waitress who witnesses a crime he has committed.
Buried Rodrigo Cortés, Spain/USA Canadian Premiere When Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up six feet underground with no idea who put him there or why, life for the truck driver and family man instantly becomes a hellish struggle for survival. Buried with only a cell phone and a lighter, poor reception, a rapidly draining battery and a dwindling oxygen supply become his worst enemies in a tightly confined race against time.
Conviction Tony Goldwyn, USA World Premiere Conviction is the inspirational true story of a sister?s unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters? (two-time Academy® Award winner Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction.
Cirkus Columbia Danis Tanovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina International Premiere After twenty years of exile, a husband returns to his hometown in Herzegovina to settle some scores with his ex-wife, armed with a new Mercedes, a sexy new girlfriend and a mangy black cat.
Dhobi Ghat Kiran Rao, India World Premiere In the teeming metropolis of Mumbai, four people separated by class and language are drawn together in compelling relationships. Shai, an affluent investment banker on a sabbatical, strikes up an unusual friendship with Munna, a young and beautiful laundry boy with ambitions of being a Bollywood actor, and has a brief dalliance with Arun, a gifted painter. As they slip away from familiar moorings and drift closer together, the city finds its way into the crevices of their inner worlds.
Easy A Will Gluck, USA World Premiere After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean-cut high school girl (Emma Stone) sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne?s in The Scarlet Letter, which she is currently studying in school – until she decides to use the rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing.
Henry's Crime Malcolm Venville, USA World Premiere After serving three years in prison for a bank robbery he did not commit, an amiable but aimless man decides to rob the bank for real. His plan involves infiltrating a local theatre company, but his scheme gets complicated when he falls for the company?s lead actress. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Fisher Stevens, Peter Stormare, Danny Hoch and Bill Duke.
The Illusionist Sylvain Chomet, United Kingdom North American Premiere From the director of The Triplets Of Belleville comes a film of grace and unique beauty. Working from a never-produced script written by Jacques Tati for his daughter, Chomet tells the story of a magician who was pushed aside by rock and roll, yet finds one young girl who appreciates his magic. The film stars Jean-Claude Donda and Eilidh Rankin.
In A Better World Susanne Bier, Denmark/Sweden International Premiere The story traces elements from a refugee camp in Africa to the grey humdrum of everyday life in a Danish provincial town. The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait. Soon, friendship transforms into a dangerous alliance and a breathtaking pursuit in which life is at stake.
I Saw the Devil Kim Jee-woon, South Korea North American Premiere A hard-boiled thriller from Korean master Kim Jee-woon, I Saw the Devil is a tale of bloody vengeance against a dangerous psychopath who has committed a gruesome series of murders.
It's Kind of a Funny Story Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, USA World Premiere Stressed-out teenager Craig checks himself into a mental health clinic – where he finds himself in the adult ward. Sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside, Craig learns more about life, love and the pressures of growing up. The comedy-drama stars Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis.
Jack Goes Boating Philip Seymour Hoffman, USA International Premiere Adapted from Bob Glaudini's acclaimed Off Broadway play, Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, friendship and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples. The film stars John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Amy Ryan and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Hoffman making his feature directorial debut.
L'Amour Fou Pierre Thoretton, France World Premiere Yves Saint Laurent built one of fashion's most celebrated empires. This moving documentary chronicles his rise, his lifelong partnership with Pierre Bergé and their decision to auction off a lifetime of precious art and objects.
The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen Andrew Lau, Hong Kong North American Premiere In 1920s Shanghai, hero Chen Zhen single-handedly avenges his mentor?s death by killing all the Japanese at a dojo in Hongkou, only to be showered with bullets while making his legendary flying kick. Now, years later, Chen Zhen, who is believed dead, returns in disguise to infiltrate a criminal empire and to dismantle the evil collusion that plagues the country.
Lope Andrucha Waddington, Brazil/Spain World Premiere Andrucha Waddington brings famed Spanish playwright Lope de Vega?s passionate life to the screen. The young poet returns to Madrid from war and gets his foot in the door of Madrid's most important theatre troupe – quickly charming his boss's daughter. His childhood friend, Isabel de Urbina, also falls under the spell of his poems. So much seduction eventually brings misfortune and he must flee Madrid.
Love Crime Alain Corneau, France International Premiere Dangerous Liaisons meets Working Girl in this deliciously caustic tale of office politics. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier as mentor and ingénue, Love Crime is a remorseless clash of two competing egos.
Made in Dagenham Nigel Cole, United Kingdom World Premiere Sally Hawkins stars as Rita O?Grady, the catalyst for the 1968 Ford Dagenham strike by 187 sewing machinists which led to the advent of the Equal Party Act. Working in extremely impoverished conditions for long, arduous hours, the women at the Ford Dagenham plant finally lose their patience when they are reclassified as “unskilled.” With humour, common sense and courage, they take on their corporate paymasters, an increasingly belligerent local community, and finally the government itself. The film also stars Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James and Rosamund Pike.
Miral Julian Schnabel, United Kingdom/Israel/France North American Premiere From the director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes Miral, the visceral, first-person diary of a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem as she confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life. Schnabel pieces together momentary fragments of Miral's world – how she was formed, who influenced her, all that she experiences in her tumultuous early years – to create a raw, moving, poetic portrait of a woman whose small, personal story is inextricably woven into the bigger history unfolding all around her.
Never Let Me Go Mark Romanek, United Kingdom World Premiere Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) spent their childhood at a seemingly idyllic boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed and they must confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.
Norwegian Wood Tran Anh Hung, Japan North American Premiere Adapted from Haruki Murakami's bestselling novel. Watanabe, a quiet and serious college student, becomes deeply devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman with whom he shares the tragedy of their best friend?s death. When Naoko suddenly disappears, Midori, an outgoing, vivacious and supremely self-confident girl marches into Watanabe's life. The film stars Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara.
Outside the Law Rachid Bouchareb, France/Algeria/Tunisia/Italy/Belgium North American Premiere Bouchareb's follow-up to Days of Glory is an epic French gangster movie in the tradition of Once Upon a Time in America. The film follows three brothers from childhood in Algeria through turbulent years in Paris, as their paths diverge towards radical politics and violent crime.
Rabbit Hole John Cameron Mitchell, USA World Premiere A family navigates the deepest form of loss in John Cameron Mitchell's screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart deliver captivating performances as a husband and wife who fight to save their marriage in the life that begins again after tragedy.
A Screaming Man Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France/Belgium/Chad North American Premiere One of Africa's preeminent film artists, Haroun returns to themes of family and loyalty in war-torn Chad. A father and son work together at the pool of five-star hotel, but the civil war forces life-and-death choices upon them.
Stone John Curran, USA World Premiere. Robert De Niro and Edward Norton deliver powerful performances as a seasoned corrections official and a scheming inmate whose lives become dangerously intertwined. Stone weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin. The film also stars Milla Jovovich and Frances Conroy.
Submarine Richard Ayoade, United Kingdom World Premiere British comic Richard Ayoade delivers his hotly-anticipated feature debut Submarine. One boy must fight to save his mother from the advances of a mystic, and simultaneously lure his eczema-strafed girlfriend in to the bedroom, armed with only a vast vocabulary and near-total self-belief. His name is Oliver Tate.
That Girl in Yellow Boots Anurag Kashyap, India North American Premiere Ruth is searching for her father – a man she hardly knew but cannot forget. Desperation drives her to work without a permit, at a massage parlour, where she gives "happy endings? to unfulfilled men. Torn between several schisms, Mumbai becomes the backdrop for Ruth's quest as she struggles to find her independence and space even as she is sucked deeper into the labyrinthine politics of the city's underbelly.
Tamara Drewe Stephen Frears, United Kingdom North American Premiere Based on Posy Simmonds? beloved graphic novel. When Tamara Drewe returns to the village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown upside down. Tamara – once an ugly duckling – has been transformed and is now a minor celebrity. As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighbouring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play.
The Trip Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom World Premiere Follow two good friends in this hilarious road movie as they embark on a tour of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales of Northern England, eating, chatting and driving each other crazy. The film stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
Trust David Schwimmer, USA World Premiere Safe and sound in their suburban home, Will and Lynn Cameron (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) used to sleep well at night. When their 14-year-old daughter, Annie, made a new friend on-line – a 16-year-old boy named Charlie – Will and Lynn didn?t think much of it. But when Annie and Charlie make a plan to meet what happens in the next twenty-four hours changes the entire family forever. Charlie is really a 40-year-old serial pedophile (Tom McCarthy) and, once Annie?s rape comes to light, it becomes a touchstone event that reverberates through the entire family.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Woody Allen, United Kingdom/USA/Spain North American Premiere Woody Allen's latest comic ensemble piece follows a group of Londoners struggling with failing marriages, restless libidos, the perils of aging and desires that drive a series of decisions with unforeseen consequences. The film stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Lucy Punch and Naomi Watts.
The time is 1950. Tyrone Purvis (Danny Glover) lives in a small Alabama town with his wife Delilah (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and teenage stepdaughter China Doll (Yaya DaCosta) running his own small bar called the Honeydripper. Despite his piano playing and the presence of a fabulous blues singer (Mable John who sang with Ray Charles as one of the Raelettes) the place is empty losing business to the livelier joint down the road. As the plodding and predictable story unfolds the stereotypes of the era emerge including the prejudiced and self-aggrandizing white sheriff (Stacy Keach) a group of disgruntled black farm workers and even a hellfire-and-brimstone traveling preacher who sets up shop in a revival tent. In his attempt to save his bar from going under Purvis resorts to a series of less-than-legal moves aided by his trusty right-hand man (Charles S. Dutton) and a mysterious young man (Gary Clark Jr.) who arrives in town toting a newfangled guitar--and who eventually plays a whole new kind of music: rock and roll. The assembled cast of Honeydripper is normally a talented group of actors but in this film they mostly seem to be going through the motions. Danny Glover looks like he is sleepwalking through his role as the bar owner who can’t make ends meet. As his wife Lisa Gay Hamilton does a familiar slightly histrionic variation on the put-upon spouse who retreats into religion as an escape from her family problems. And Stacy Keach is a total caricature of the bad southern sheriff. The brightest lights in this mostly dismal film are the two younger actors Gary Clark Jr. and Yaya DaCosta whose romance is a subplot of the central story. And the hands-down best performance is given by blues guitar great Keb’ Mo’ as a blind musician who offers up much-needed musical interludes throughout the film. At least he seems to be enjoying himself while most of the others onscreen struggle to deliver the hackneyed dialogue that riddles Sayles’ yawn-inducing script. It is hard to believe that John Sayles--the same man who wrote directed and edited wonderful movies like Lone Star Passion Fish and City of Hope--is the person behind Honeydripper. Sayles one of the cinema’s truly independent filmmakers has always had a very specific vision and voice a point of view that has garnered him two Academy Award nominations for screenwriting. But Honeydripper is just a disappointment with its completely predictable plotline and deathly slow pace. The one bright light in this plodding tale is the music. Early on Mable John lights things up with a couple of great old blues tunes then Keb’ Mo’ throws in some terrific riffs midway followed (finally!) by Gary Clark Jr.’s rousing rock and roll set that closes out the picture. If only the whole film was as interesting and fun to watch as the last 10 minutes when the music really ramps up. Sadly as it is by the time those final moments arrive the viewer is barely awake.
Oh cruel technology! With so many remote controls for so many devices Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) always clicks the wrong power button. He’s sick of it. The workaholic is also sick of being too busy to find time for his family. On a late-night trip to Bed Bath & Beyond in search of a universal remote he kills two birds with one stone. After passing the bed section and the bath section Michael reaches the “beyond ” where he meets an eccentric man named Morty (Christopher Walken) who offers a remote to control his life. No more wasting time or missing out--he can fast-forward rewind and pause; his life is his own personal TiVo. It’s all well and good until he abuses the fast-forward button and misses all the beautiful minutiae of life. Before long he’s old sick and alone and realizes--thanks to the rewind button--that he was never there for his family. It’s a simple twist of fate for Michael but it’s neither his only one nor his simplest. With Click some Sandler fans may fear he’s veering towards the Jim Carrey path of gradually more earnest roles. No fear necessary however for this is not Carrey’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (similar as the broad existential strokes may be) and it’s not even Punch-Drunk Love. It’s merely light tear-jerking Sandler-style. He does prove in addition to his beaten-path shtick-y performance that he has some drama in him after all these years--which may or may not foretell more serious roles down the road. But there’s still an abundance of his trademark goofiness to go around. As Sandler’s onscreen wife Kate Beckinsale might go unnoticed if not for her scene-stealing beauty. Her interplay with Sandler is husband-wife cute if nothing else. Consistently funny supporting turns from Walken and David Hasselhoff--as Sandler’s jerk of a boss--provide the usual semi-big names that Sandler movies typically boast. Click is a high-concept film--too bad it’s all “summer-ed” up (or down) because film might be the best medium to explore such a fascinating and potentially deep notion. But this is summertime Sandler after all and who better to keep the serious stuff from getting too serious than Sandler’s pal/collaborator (and director of The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer) Frank Coraci? The director has the Sandler fan base at heart and the result is thus decidedly unsubtle and not always pretty for a movie that should’ve in all honesty gone with more gusto towards the morose undertones the story puts into place--though the director at least didn’t completely steer away from dramatic elements. The usual goods are still here (i.e. fart jokes Sandler’s at times hilarious yapping) but the pivotal flashbacks and life themes feel crammed adding to the movie’s general unevenness. Bruce Almighty writers Steve Koren and Adam O’Keefe add their supernatural twist to straightforward comedy but they fail to produce anything beyond a slightly less-funny Bruce with a side of Multiplicity and Mr. Destiny.
Start with hard work a grueling arduous schedule and an industry already famous for fast living. Throw in lots of money and starstruck scantily dressed fans willing to do anything for a few moments with the men of their dreams and ... well you know. But there's more to "Backstage" than cognac bottles green leafy substances and female anatomy. Rappers eat sleep play fight discuss their inner struggles and admit to being moved to tears by "Good Will Hunting." Just don't expect the story of the girl who broke up the band -- the rivalries and conflicts are mostly low-key and a friendly paintball game supplies the only gunplay.
As major players in an image-conscious business the rappers and hip-hop impresarios profiled here do their fair share of posturing; at other times the conversations seem remarkably candid and revealing. Highlights include interviews with Jay-Z Beanie Sigel and DMX with some comic relief as hip-hop wannabes try to impress the touring rappers. Also noteworthy is the film's focus on music magnate Damon Dash and his high-decibel insights into management philosophy intellectual property and brand identity. (He is the producer after all.)
Documentary and music video director Chris Fiore chose to let the subjects of "Backstage" tell the story in their own words. Unlike many of his contemporaries he helped them out by editing miles of celluloid and tape into a well-structured comprehensible narrative. The film starts out loud and fast and keeps up the pace despite a detour into sex and drugs that lasts just a bit too long. Missing for the most part is the view from across the yawning gender gap -- little is heard from female hip-hop artist Amil despite her prominent billing in the credits.