Hello, I’m Jason Palmer and I’ll be bringing you the latest movie reviews, interviews and features. Over the coming months we have lots to look forward to including a bumper November packed full of great films. So let’s get cracking…!
The Palme d’Or winner at Cannes wowed audiences at last month’s London Film Festival and it’s fully deserving of its accolades. Abdellatif Kechiche’s tale is a delicate, truthful and explicit account of first love and the perils and pitfalls of relationships. A soon-to-be graduating student named Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) falls for the blue-haired Emma (Léa Seydoux) and starts a tumultuous coupling. The notoriety gained from its explicit sex scenes actually does the film a huge disservice, as it threatens to overshadow what an accomplished picture this is, with breakout performances from its two leads. Heartfelt, passionate and unmistakably French.
The unlikely duo of funny man Steve Coogan and national treasure Dame Judi Dench pull off a remarkable true-story. Charting the heartbreaking quest of Philomena Lee to find her long-lost son (born out of wedlock and forcefully sold into adoption), Dench is predictably grand and captures your heart from the offset. Coogan relishes the opportunity to branch out of his comfort zone by co-writing the script and co-producing the film, based on journalist Martin Sixsmith’s book. Its heavy subject matter is treated with due respect and acts as a wonderfully relevant study into faith and forgiveness.
Alfonso Cuarón’s beautifully crafted space thriller goes easy on the fiction and big on the science. Using UK effects house Framestore, you’ve never seen space look so dangerously beautiful before. The drama comes thick and fast when rookie astronaut Ryan Stone (Sanda Bullock) gets caught in a storm of debris and is left desperately drifting in space. George Clooney is on hand for assured peace of mind but this is without doubt Bullock’s opus – and one that will most likely award her with a second Oscar. The most claustrophobic and agoraphobic movie you’ll see all year (in a good way), but also a film of undoubted substance, quality and stunning beauty.
Man of the moment Joseph Gordon-Levitt hands in a remarkable turn as star, writer and director of this modern-day tale of love. ‘Don’ Jon, so-called because of his way with the ladies, is a player who loves his girls, his friends, his family and his car. When the gorgeous Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) enters the scene, Jon’s life seems made. But he just can’t shake the need to keep looking at adult websites, something that doesn’t sit well with his future beau. Highlighting the difference between men and women and covering everything from friendships, religion, family, love and sex, Don Jon is a clever, comedic and emotionally driven character study for the masses. Julianne Moore and 80’s favourite Tony Danza provide great support too. And if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s even a scene where JGL sings along to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s Good Vibrations.
It’s been awhile since Robert De Niro delivered the goods but in this Luc Besson directed black comedy he seems to have rediscovered some form. Playing an ex-mobster turned snitch, he and his family, including wife Michelle Pfeiffer, head to Normandy for witness protection. Cue copious fish-out-of-water gags with a deliciously demented twist. Throw in supporting turns from Tommy Lee Jones and Glee’s Dianna Agron and you have a comedy with just enough spark to keep things interesting.
After Oliver Stone’s comprehensive JFK, it seems largely pointless to retell the story of his assassination. Nevertheless, on the eve of the 50thanniversary of the President’s death, director and co-writer Peter Landesman takes a candid look at the lives of the supporting players over that fateful day. A huge cast including Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thornton all try their best but the film fails to take the emotional initiative. A particularly intriguing account of how the shooting affected the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald (played wonderfully by James Badge Dale) is also underplayed.
Further cementing the notion that Hollywood has run out of ideas, this Carrie remake seems quite unnecessary, but it thankfully it has more in common with the recent Evil Dead reboot than the derisible Psycho remake from 1998. Steven King’s seminal story seems more relevant now than it ever has been, with Chloë Grace Moretz doing a stellar job as our anti-heroine. There’s decent build-up and Julianne Moore certainly convinces as Carrie’s fanatical mother but it’s the end scene that we really all want to see. Whilst it lacks the nuanced creepiness of Sissy Spacek’s performance, it still delivers a few good moments, even if they are a bit too CGI-heavy.
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