Category: Drama and Romance Movies

How I Live Now

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How I Live Now Movie

Taglines: Love will lead you home.

How I Live Now is a British drama film based on the 2004 novel of same name by Meg Rosoff, directed by Kevin Macdonald and script written by Tony Grisoni, Jeremy Brock and Penelope Skinner. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, Anna Chancellor, George MacKay, Corey Johnson and Sabrina Dickens. It was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Set in the near-future UK, Saoirse Ronan plays Daisy, an American teenager sent to stay with relatives in the English countryside. Initially withdrawn and alienated, she begins to warm up to her charming surroundings, and strikes up a romance with the handsome Edmund (George MacKay). But on the fringes of their idyllic summer days are tense news reports of an escalating conflict in Europe. As the UK falls into a violent, chaotic military state, Daisy finds herself hiding and fighting to survive.

Filming began in June 2012 in England and Wales. The film was released on 4 October 2013 in the United Kingdom and was set for release on 28 November 2013 in Australia. On 25 July 2013, Magnolia Pictures acquired the US rights to distribute the film.

How I Live Now Movie - Saoirse Roman

About the Production

“The summer I went to England to stay with my cousins everything changed… Mostly everything changed because of Edmond.” – How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff

When Meg Rosoff’s novel How I Live Now was first published in 2004, it was widely greeted with acclaim and blossomed into a word-of-mouth best-seller. The London-based American author’s remarkable debut found itself showered with prestigious literary awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

Written in the compellingly innocent but acerbic voice of its heroine, an intelligent but angry and anorexic 15-year-old New Yorker named Daisy, How I Live Now deftly and movingly touched on themes of love, loss and loyalty beneath the topical shadows of war, chaos and carnage. Exiled by her father from Manhattan to the English countryside, Daisy’s coming of age is a mixture of bliss and heartache, the former generated by falling in love with her cousin Edmond, the latter by the darkness that falls when Britain is plunged into war. Suddenly, this self-absorbed teenager is solely responsible for her youngest cousin Piper and forced to embark on an epic and courageous journey of survival.

It was the imaginative scope of Rosoff’s story, set in a parallel or not-too-distant future, and the relatable poignancy of Daisy’s detached but sharply ironic observations about love, war, cousins and countryside that made the novel appeal to young and adult readers alike. Among its fans were Charles Steel and Alasdair Flind of Cowboy Films, who secured the option on Rosoff’s best-seller and put the adaptation into development at Film4.

How I Live Now Movie - Saoirse Ronan

Early on, they sent the book to Kevin Macdonald, who Steel had worked with on The Last King Of Scotland. He also read it and loved it but, after The Last King Of Scotland, he was a filmmaker in demand and his schedule rendered him unavailable. Macdonald was always drawn to the prospect of making a serious film about the teenage experience, as well as one that featured a female lead and a love story – both are firsts for the talented director. When the project came back around to him, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

“I think Meg’s book is really beautiful,” says Macdonald. “But as is so often the case, when there’s a really beautiful book, you often have to move further away from it than you would if you were adapting what was a mediocre book. So much of what the book did you can’t do on screen. For one thing it’s Daisy’s internal monologue, which meant that the structure of the book was very hard to replicate. And although Daisy’s voice is so strong in the book, we realized she needed to be slightly different in order for the film to work.”

The producers were faced with the challenge of distilling a novel that ventures into both youth and adult terrain in terms of its themes and subject matter, but without losing the poetic vision that made Rosoff’s manuscript such a celebrated success. Different screenwriters with varied skillsets were brought on board: Tony Grisoni (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, In This World) was the first to work on the adaptation, before he passed the baton to Jeremy Brock (The Last King Of Scotland, The Eagle). Acclaimed young playwright Penelope Skinner came on last to put the finishing touches on Daisy, who falls in love with one of her cousins and faces extreme challenges throughout the story.

How I Live Now Movie

“We tried so many different voices for Daisy,” explains Macdonald. “The breakthrough was figuring out that the key to Daisy was her willpower. She is somebody who has an amazingly strong sense of self and identity, but she has used that willpower in very negative ways in her life because her life has been very negative. But she ends up using the same thing that’s made her a troubled person to survive.”

Although it’s likely to be classified in the young-adult section of any bookstore, Rosoff’s novel was strongly embraced by both a teenage and an adult audience. The book’s publisher, Penguin Books, even created separate covers to target both markets. Although that crossover appeal is strongly reflected in Macdonald’s adaptation, everyone involved was aware that the more they defined their target audience, the better chance they had of crossing over to reach both groups.

“Driven by Kevin, we’ve fully embraced it as a teenage love story aimed towards a teenage audience,” says Steel.

“What makes the film stand out,” adds Flind. “Is that this is Kevin’s version of a teenage love story. He has the ability to make it real and rough around the edges in all the right ways. He’ll make it stand out.”

Ronan was an actress whose name came up early on in How I Live Now’s development, around the time of Atonement’s release. Although she would have been too young at the time, the Irish actress’ talent and charisma were obvious to all, and she has gone on to become the standout actress of her generation. Call it serendipity but by the time the stars aligned for How I Live Now to move into production, Ronan was the right age to play Daisy.

Initially, Macdonald had considered going with a cast of non-professionals to portray How I Live Now’s group of five, and he arranged open casting calls to find an unknown to inhabit Daisy. Later, he abandoned that plan and began meeting with teenage actresses, but couldn’t find anyone he felt had the edge that Daisy needed. Until he met Ronan and was blown away. “She came in to read and she was just fantastic, I mean jaw-dropping,” says the Glasgow-born director. “The most amazing thing was that she’d come over from Ireland but hadn’t received the new pages we’d sent her so she had literally 10 minutes to prepare when she arrived. But she did it and she was fantastically good.”

The most enjoyable part of the shoot for Macdonald was getting to work with his teenage and younger cast. “They were fun and energetic and obedient, for the most part,” he smiles. “They were just a pleasure to work with and having so many kids around the whole time, even though Saoirse is 18 and George had just turned 20, created a lovely atmosphere for everybody. I was 44 when I shot it so quite distant from those sort of feelings and obviously I’ve also never experienced what it’s like to be a teenage girl so I came to rely on them in different ways than you do when you’re making a film about adults.”

Wartime Mysteries

“No matter how much you put on a sad expression and talked about how awful it was that all those people were killed and what about Democracy and the Future of Our Great Nation the fact that none of us kids said out loud was that we didn’t really care.”

How I Live Now depicts its wartime with frightening realism, and yet, seen through the eyes of its largely oblivious teenage protagonists, leaves a shroud of mystery around what’s actually happening. The unknown enemy that manages to seize control of the nation remains a shadowy force. “The world that Meg created is very much about ambiguity and we wanted to leave it in that world,” says Macdonald. “I’m sure that some people will ask, ‘Who are the enemy? What’s going on?’ But I believe it’s the right decision to keep it as vague as possible because, in a way, it’s all a metaphor. It’s not a political film, it’s not a film about the situation in the world, it’s the story of an unhappy teenage girl falling in love.”

“I don’t think it’s necessarily important for the audience to know everything that Eddie’s been through,” says MacKay, agreeing with his director. “What’s important is that the film is about healing damaged people and Eddie heals Daisy through their love. Sex and true love are new discoveries that come with being with each other and at the end of the film; Daisy is on the path to healing him.”

Macdonald wanted to steep the film in the English romantic tradition, which is why songs by melodic folk-rockers Fairport Convention and English singer-songwriter Nick Drake feature on the soundtrack. “It’s about the beauty of the landscape and the threat of the landscape at the same time,” he notes, “and I want to reflect this magical, melancholic version of England in the music.”

More than any film Macdonald has made, How I Live Now rests on a single character’s journey. Daisy goes on a staggering arc during the narrative, conveyed by Ronan with extraordinary conviction; the novel’s numerous fans will be thrilled to witness her performance. “I know teenage girls who got so excited when they heard I was making this movie,” says the actress. “Having a leading young woman like Daisy who’s very messed up and unsure of herself and insecure, I know as a teenager they’re the kind of characters I relate to more because they’re not perfect and they’re not glorified. Pretty much every teenage girl goes through at least some of what Daisy experiences.”

“What I find interesting about Saoirse’s performance is that she’s not always sympathetic in the film and she did sometimes find that difficult because she is, by nature, such a lovely person,” muses Macdonald. “But that makes it a particularly strong performance because it’s Saoirse as you’ve never seen her before. She’s tough, ballsy and the most grown-up we’ve seen her be. In this film, we watch her becoming a grown-up in front of our eyes and that’s exciting. After this film, you’ll see people start casting her as a leading lady.”

How I Live Now Movie Poster

How I Live Now

Directed by: Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, Anna Chancellor, George MacKay, Corey Johnson, Harley Bird
Screenplay by: Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni
MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing images, language and some sexuality.
Production Design by: Jacqueline Abrahams
Cinematography by: Franz Lustig
Film Editing by: Jinx Godfrey
Costume Design by: Jane Petrie
Art Direction by: Astrid Sieben
Music by: Jon Hopkins
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: November 8, 2013

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The Past – Le Passé

The Past - Le Passé Movie

Coming back to accomplish the divorce procedure, Ahmad an Iranian man, arrives in Paris after four years to meet his ex-wife and her daughters from her previous marriage. He notices his ex is in a relationship with an Arab named Samir who also has a son and a wife in a coma. The relationship of the older daughter and her mother is in deterioration because the daughter thinks her mother is the cause of Samir’s wife comatose state. The affairs get more complicated when the older daughter discloses something heinous she has done.

The Past (French: Le Passé) is a French drama film directed by the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and starring Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Bérénice Bejo also won the Best Actress Award. It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film has been selected as the Iranian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

The Past - Le Passé Movie

Review for The Past – Le Passé

Like his previous film, A Separation, Asghar Farhadi’s The Past begins with a deceptively straightforward divorce. Returning to Paris from Tehran to legally terminate his marriage after a four-year absence, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) learns that his wife, Marie (Bérénice Bejo), has been living with another man, Samir (Tahar Rahim). Papers may be signed with minimal fuss but the past cannot be so easily buried, and once again the Iranian director creates an opportunity to showcase his striking ability to use multiple perspectives to tell an infinitely complex story.

Making little use of the suburban Parisian backdrop, Farhadi opts instead for a chamber drama that is as tightly packed as Marie’s rickety old house. In addition to two children from a previous relationship—petite Léa (Jeanne Jestin) and teenage Lucie (Pauline Burlet)—Samir’s young son Fouad (Elyes Aguis) also lives there, reluctantly. For better and worse, the presence of the even-tempered Ahmad sets the already precarious household off balance as he simultaneously mediates and instigates familial problems large and small.

The Past - Le Passé Movie - Berenice Bejo

Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Ahmad is able to assuage the furrow-browed Fouad when he throws his violent tantrums and to coax information from an increasingly moody Lucie. Vehemently disapproving of her mother’s latest relationship, Lucie explains that Samir’s wife is in a coma due to an attempted suicide—a suicide she believes to have been catalyzed by her mother’s affair with Samir. But as far as Marie is concerned, this tragic turn of events was merely the grim culmination of the woman’s long battle with depression, and she can furnish a witness to prove it: the illegal immigrant (Sabrina Ouazani), whom Samir employs at his dry cleaning business.

Much like A Separation, the story spirals, whodunit style, around the blame of the suicide—and around and around—propelled forward and nudged backward as details of past events are revealed and contradicted. As each character attempts to offload their sense of guilt onto someone else, Farhadi further elucidates the elusive nature of truth itself. Forcing his characters into moral gray zones, the director weakens the notion of objectivity, allowing the viewer’s allegiances to shift freely among the household’s denizens—even if as individuals, none of them is particularly sympathetic.

Dispensing with A Separation’s primarily handheld aesthetic, The Past demonstrates a thoroughgoing commitment to stillness. While its visual style mirrors the characters’ sometimes frustrating inability to move forward, the careful framing of bodies and faces—whether crammed into doorways or dim hallways—emphasizes private moments of interiority and noncommunication.

The Past - Le Passé Movie

Despite a number of melodramatic ingredients—comas, hidden pregnancies, torrential downpours, and secret missives, among others—the film remains subtly understated, thanks in large part to the impeccable cast. Shaking off the plucky flapper she played in The Artist, Bejo is particularly impressive as the hot-tempered Marie and is well paired here with the soft-spoken Mosaffa, who exudes a paternal calm. Rahim, as always, brings a quiet but subtly dangerous power to the screen as Samir, while Burlet demonstrates maturity beyond her young years as the emotionally fraught Lucie.

Though The Past may lack its predecessor’s gripping sense of urgency (the 130-minute running time does not go unnoticed), it is precisely its circuitous structure that imbues the film with a sense of unadorned reality. Never leaning on flashbacks or expository dialogue, Farhadi doesn’t pit the past against the present so much as he presents the two as inextricably—and rather bleakly—linked. If the past can only become clear in the present, what hope does that leave for the future?

The Past - Le Passé Movie Poster

The Past – Le Passé

Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani
Screenplay by: Asghar Farhadi
Production Design by: Claude Lenoir
Cinematography by: Mahmoud Kalari
Film Editing by: Juliette Welfling
Costume Design by: Jean-Daniel Vuillermoz
Music by: Evgueni Galperine, Youli Galperine
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material and brief strong language.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: December 20, 2013

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The Book Thief

The Book Thief Movie

Taglines: Courage beyond words.

Based on the beloved bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a new family in World War II Germany.

In 1938, the young girl Liesel Meminger is traveling by train with her mother and her younger brother when he dies. Her mother buries the boy in a cemetery by the tracks and Liesel picks up a book, “The Gravediggers Handbook”, which was left on the grave of her brother and brings it with her. Liesel is delivered to a foster family in a small town and later she learns that her mother left her because she is a communist. Her stepmother, Rosa Hubermann, is a rude but caring woman and her stepfather, Hans Hubermann, is a simple kind-hearted man.

Liesel befriends her next door neighbor, the boy Rudy Steiner, and they go together to the school. When Hans discovers that Liesel cannot read, he teaches her using her book and Liesel becomes an obsessed reader. During a Nazi speech where the locals are forced to burn books in a bonfire, Liesel recovers one book for her and the Major’s wife Ilsa Hermann witnesses her action. Meanwhile Hans hides the Jewish Max Vandenburg.

The Book Thief is an American-German war drama film directed by Brian Percival and starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nélisse. Based on the novel of the same name by Markus Zusak and adapted by Michael Petroni, the film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home. The film features a musical score by Oscar-winning composer John Williams.

The Book Thief Movie - Sophie Nelisse

About the Story

In April 1938, a voice representing Death (Roger Allam) tells about how the young Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) has piqued his interest. Liesel is traveling on a train with her mother (Heike Makatsch) and younger brother when her brother dies. At his burial she picks up a book that has been dropped by his graveside (a gravedigger’s manual). Liesel is then delivered to foster parents Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) Hubermann because her mother, a Communist, is fleeing Germany. When she arrives, Liesel makes an impression on a neighboring boy, Rudy Steiner (Nico Liersch).

Rudy accompanies her on her first day of school. When the teacher asks Liesel to write her name on the chalkboard, she is only able to write two “X”s, showing that she doesn’t know how to read. Later that day, she is taunted by her schoolmates who chant “dummkopf” (“fool” in German) at her. One of the boys, Franz Deutscher, challenges her to read just one word to which Liesel responds by beating him up. She impresses Rudy, and they become fast friends. When Hans, her foster father, realizes that Liesel cannot read, he begins to teach her, using the book that she took from the graveside. Liesel becomes obsessed with reading anything she can get her hands on.

Liesel and Rudy become members of the Hitler Youth movement. While at a Nazi book burning ceremony, Liesel and Rudy are bullied into throwing books onto the bonfire by Franz, but Liesel is upset to see the books being burned. When the bonfire ends, and everyone but she has left, she grabs a book that has not been burned. She is seen by Ilsa Hermann (Barbara Auer), the mayor’s (Rainer Bock) wife. Hans discovers that she has taken the book and tells her she must keep it a secret from everyone.

The Book Thief Movie

One day, Rosa asks Liesel to take the laundry to the mayor’s house. Liesel realizes that the woman who saw her taking the book is the mayor’s wife, and she is scared she will be found out. Instead, Ilsa takes her into their library and tells Liesel she can come by anytime and read as much as she’d like. Liesel also finds out about Johann here, who was the son of Ilsa and is now missing. Ilsa feels the loss of her son profoundly and has kept his library intact to commemorate him. One day Liesel is found reading by the mayor who not only puts a stop to her visits but dismisses Rosa as their laundress. Liesel continues to “borrow” books from the mayor’s library by climbing through a window.

There is a night of violence against the Jews (known historically as Kristallnacht). Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer) and his mother, who are Jewish, are told by a friend that one of them (but only one) can escape, and Max’s mother forces him to go. Max goes to the Hubermanns’ house where Rosa and Hans give him shelter. Max is the son of the man who saved Hans’s life in World War I.

Max is initially allowed to stay in Liesel’s room while recovering from his trip, and they begin to become friends over their mutual hatred of Hitler since Liesel blames Hitler for taking her mother away. World War II begins, initially making most of the children in Liesel’s neighborhood very happy. Max is later moved to the basement so that he can move around more, but it is colder in the basement, and Max becomes dangerously ill. Liesel helps Max recover by reading to him with every spare moment.

The Book Thief Movie Poster

The Book Thief

Directed by: Brian Percival
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, Sandra Nedeleff
Screenplay by: Markus Zusak, Michael Petroni
Production Design by: Simon Elliott
Cinematography by: Florian Ballhaus
Film Editing by: John Wilson
Costume Design by: Anna B. Sheppard
Set Decoration by: Mark Rosinski
Music by: John Williams
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and intense depiction of thematic material.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: November 15, 2013

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A Case of You

A Case of You Movie

Taglines: He’ll be everything she likes but himself.

A young writer (Justin Long) woos a cute and quirky barista (Evan Rachel Wood) by creating an embellished online profile. When she falls for his alter ego, he must keep up the act or lose his dream girl. Directed by TFF alumna Kat Coiro and featuring a cast of hilarious cameo performers including Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn and Sienna Miller, A Case of You is a winning romantic comedy for the social media age.

A Case of You is an American romantic comedy film that was featured at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film was directed by Kat Coiro and produced by Justin Long, who wrote the script with his brother Christian and Keir O’Donnell, who also stars in the film.

About the Story

Sam, a young New York City author, is dissatisfied with his life. Although his novelization of the blockbuster film Teen Vampire is popular he does not want to write the other novelizations his agent Alan urges; Sam suffers from writer’s block with his own work, however. He is infatuated with Birdie, a street artist and barista at the local coffee shop, but does not know how to meet her.

A Case of You Movie

After his roommate Eliot suggests checking Birdie’s Facebook profile, Sam decides to pretend that he shares the interests she lists on her profile. He begin to learn how to play the guitar and cook French cuisine, and buys books by Walt Whitman and songs by Joan Baez. After pretending to accidentally meet at a comedy club Birdie mentioned online the two become friends and partners at a ballroom-dance class, and Sam begins to write a novel based on their relationship.

To spend more time with her Sam pretends to share Birdie’s other interests, including pedicures and bourbon. They begin to fall in love, and Birdie accompanies Sam, Eliot, and Eliot’s girlfriend Ashley to a spiritual retreat where they sleep together for the first time. Although Sam enjoys spending time with Birdie he finds participating in her many interests to be difficult, and is intimidated by her skill in such areas as caricature, singing, and rock climbing.

A Case of You Movie

After Birdie tells Sam that she loves him and mentions her parents’ plan to attend their impending dance recital, an insecure Sam discourages her interest in him. At a pitch meeting Alan and another agent praise Sam’s novel as a superb portrayal of a pathetic “eunuch” who, after foolishly breaking up with his girlfriend, is doomed to remain alone. Realizing that he has made a mistake, Sam rushes to the recital where Birdie is about to perform with another partner. He states his love for her and confesses to using her Facebook profile to adjust his public persona. She tells him that she knew all the time, even adding items to see whether he would respond. They begin to dance together.

A Case of You Movie Poster

A Case of You

Directed by: Kat Coiro
Starring: Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn, Sienna Miller
Screenplay by: Justin Long, Keir O’Donnel, Christian Long
Production Design by: Rick Butler
Cinematography by: Doug Chamberlain
Film Editing by: Adam Catino, Matt Landon
Costume Design by; Lynn Falconer
Set Decoration by: Nicole Duryea
Music by: Mateo Messina
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual references and drug use.
Studio: IFC Films
Release Date: November 6, 2013

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American Hustle

American Hustle Movie

American Hustle is a drama film directed by David O. Russell, from a screenplay written by Eric Warren Singer and Russell based on the FBI Abscam operation. It is scheduled to be released on December 25, 2013 (in limited release December 13, 2013) by Annapurna Pictures. The film stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro.

American Hustle is based on the true story of a notorious financial con artist (Christian Bale) and his mistress/partner in crime (Amy Adams), who were forced to work with an out of control federal agent (Bradley Cooper) to turn the tables on other con artists, mobsters, and politicians. At the epicenter of the entire tale, is the passionate and volatile leader of the New Jersey state assembly (Jeremy Renner) who is also the local hero and mayor of impoverished Camden.

Originally titled “American Bullshit”, Eric Warren Singer’s screenplay was #8 on the 2010 blacklist. The film was set up at Sony Pictures Entertainment with Charles Roven and Richard Suckle producing through Atlas Entertainment and was initially considered by Ben Affleck to direct, before David O. Russell ultimately signed on to helm the film.

Principal photography started on March 8, 2013 and wrapped in May 2013. The film was shot using locations in and around Boston, Massachusetts (such as in Worcester) and New York. Filming had to be put on hold in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings with the city in lockdown. After lockdown was lifted, the film wrapped its Boston shoot and spent its final few days of production in New York City.

American Hustle Movie

About the Story

In 1978, con artists Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser have started a relationship and are working together. Sydney has improved Rosenfeld’s scams, posing as English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensly”. While Irving loves Sydney, he is hesitant to leave his wife Rosalyn out of fear of losing contact with their son, Danny. Rosalyn has also threatened that she could report Irving to the police if he leaves her.

FBI agent Richard “Richie” DiMaso catches Irving and Sydney in a loan scam, but offers to release them if Irving can line up four additional arrests. Sydney opposes the agreement. Richie believes Sydney is English but has proof that her claim of aristocracy is fraudulent. Sydney tells Irving she will manipulate Richie, distancing herself from Irving.

Irving has a friend pretending to be a wealthy Arab sheikh looking for potential investments in America. An associate of Irving’s suggests the sheikh do business with Mayor Carmine Polito of Camden, New Jersey, who is campaigning to revitalize gambling in Atlantic City but has struggled in fundraising. Richie devises a plan to make Carmine the target of a sting operation, despite the objections of Irving and of Richie’s boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.). Sydney helps Richie manipulate an FBI secretary into making an unauthorized wire transfer of $2,000,000. When Stoddard’s boss, Anthony Amado, hears of the operation, he praises Richie’s initiative, pressuring Stoddard to continue.

American Hustle Movie - Amy Adams

Richie’s overeagerness to make Carmine accept a cash bribe causes the mayor to leave their meeting. Irving convinces Carmine the sheikh is legitimate, expressing his dislike toward Richie, and the two become friends. Richie arranges for Carmine to meet the sheikh at an airfield, and without consulting the others, has Mexican-American FBI agent Paco Hernandez play the sheikh, a move Irving is not pleased with.

Carmine brings the sheikh to a casino party, explaining mobsters are there and it is a necessary part of doing business. Irving is surprised to hear that Mafia overlord Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), right-hand man to Meyer Lansky, is present, and that he wants to meet the sheikh. Tellegio explains that the business needs the sheikh to become an American citizen and that Carmine will need to expedite the process. Tellegio also requires a $10,000,000 wire transfer to prove the sheikh’s legitimacy. Richie agrees, eager to bring down Tellegio, while Irving realizes the operation is out of control.

Richie confesses his attraction to Sydney but becomes confused and aggressive when she drops her English accent and admits to being American. Irving arrives to protect Sydney and tries to stop their deal with Richie, but Richie says if they back out, Tellegio will learn of the scam and murder them both, as well as Rosalyn and Danny.

Rosalyn starts an affair with Pete Musane, a mobster she met at the party. She mentions her belief that Irving is working with the IRS, causing Pete to threaten Irving, who promises to prove the sheikh’s investment is real. Irving later confronts Rosalyn, who admits she told Pete. She agrees to keep quiet but wants a divorce.

With Carmine’s help, Richie and Irving videotape members of Congress receiving bribes. Richie goes over Stoddard, convincing Amado that $10,000,000 is needed to get Tellegio, but only gets $2,000,000. A meeting is arranged at the offices of Tellegio’s lawyer, Alfonse Simone, but Tellegio does not appear. Richie records Simone’s admission of criminal activities.

American Hustle Movie Poster

American Hustle

Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Colleen Camp
Screenplay by: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Production Design by: Judy Becker
Cinematography by: Linus Sandgren
Film Editing by: Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Costume Design by: Michael Wilkinson
Set Decoration by: Heather Loeffler
Music by: Danny Elfman
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2013

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The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman Movie

In the 1850s, Ellen Ternan is a minimally talented actress who catches the eye of the hailed British author, Charles Dickens. Bored with his intellectually unstimulating wife, Dickens takes the educated Ellen has his mistress with the cooperation of her mother. What follows is a stormy relationship with this literary giant who provides her with a life few women of her time can enjoy. Yet, Ellen is equally revolted by Charles’ emotional cruelty and determination to keep her secret. In that conflict, Ellen must judge her own role in her life and decide if the price she pays is bearable.

The Invisible Woman is a drama film directed by Ralph Fiennes and based on Claire Tomalin’s book The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. It had its premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9th, 2013.

Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this opulent period drama about the great novelist’s passionate, years-long secret affair with the young actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones; Like Crazy).

Actress Nelly Ternan was performing in London’s Haymarket Theatre when she was first spotted by Charles Dickens, who subsequently cast her in a production of The Frozen Deep. The year was 1857. Dickens was forty-five and had been married some twenty years. Ternan was seventeen. The two began an affair, which was kept a secret from the general public for the duration of their lives. Theirs has since become one of the great love stories in literary history, as alluring for the speculation it inspires as for the details on record as fact.

Based on Claire Tomalin’s biography of Ternan, scripted by Abi Morgan, (The Iron Lady, Shame), and directed by the great English actor Ralph Fiennes — whose directorial debut, Coriolanus, screened at the Festival in 2011 — The Invisible Woman is a rapturous chronicle of Ternan and Dickens’s relationship, which prompted the end of Dickens’s marriage, survived a train crash, inspired characters and scenarios in some of the author’s most beloved novels, and continued until his death in 1870.

Felicity Jones’s performance as Ternan brims with passion and intelligence — the latter quality being one of the things that drew Dickens to Ternan in the first place. Dickens himself is embodied by Fiennes as a complicated artist torn between his desires and ideals and his need to uphold tradition and avoid scandal. Enveloped in opulent period detail, The Invisible Woman brings us closer to this giant of nineteenth-century prose — and to the woman who sustained his lust for life in his final years.

The Invisible Woman Movie Poster

The Invisible Woman

Directed by: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, Charlotte Hope, Laurence Spellman, Jonathan Harden
Screenplay by: Abi Morgan
Production Design by: Maria Djurkovic
Cinematography by: Rob Hardy
Film Editing by: Nicolas Gaster
Costume Design by: Michael O’Connor
Set Decoration by: Tatiana Macdonald
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: December 25, 2013

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Out of the Furnace

Out of the Furnace

Taglines: Sometimes your battles choose you.

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) and his younger brother Rodney Jr. (Casey Affleck) live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother is lured into one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast – a mistake that will almost cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother.

The film is being produced by Relativity Media, with Jeff Waxman, Tucker Tooley and Brooklyn Weaver serving as executive producers. Leonardo DiCaprio, Tony Scott and Ridley Scott are among the film’s producers. Director Scott Cooper read an article about Braddock, Pennsylvania, a declining steel industry town outside of Pittsburgh, hit hard economic depression, political corruption and the efforts to revitalize it led by Latoya Ruby Frazier, a life long resident, community activist and artist. After visiting, Cooper was inspired to use the borough as the backdrop for a film. Cooper developed an original story and co-wrote the screenplay with Brad Ingelsby. The story has no relation to Out of This Furnace, a 1941 historical novel by Thomas Bell, set in Braddock.

Out of the Furnace

Production began in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area on April 13, 2012, and wrapped on June 1, 2012. The majority of filming took place in Braddock, with additional filming in nearby North Braddock, Imperial, and Rankin. Prison scenes were shot in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, at the former State Penitentiary in Moundsville. Filming also took place in rural Beaver County, including a deer hunting scene in Raccoon Creek State Park, and a mill scene in Koppel. The Carrie Furnace, an abandoned blast furnace near Braddock, served as the location for the film’s finale.

Originally, it was announced that Alberto Iglesias had reached an agreement to compose the score for the film. However, Dickon Hinchliffe has taken over duties for scoring the film. Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder will also record a new song for the film.

Out of the Furnace Poster

Out of the Furnace

Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepard
Screenplay by: Brad Ingelsby, Scott Cooper
Production Design by: Thérèse DePrez
Cinematography by: Masanobu Takayanagi
Film Editing by: David Rosenbloom
Costume Design by: Kurt and Bart
Set Decoration by: Merissa Lombardo
Music by: Dickon Hinchliffe
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and drug content.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: December 6, 2013

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The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

In The Wolf of Wall Street DiCaprio plays Belfort, a Long Island penny stockbroker who served 36 months in prison for defrauding investors in a massive 1990s securities scam that involved widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, including shoe designer Steve Madden.

The Wolf of Wall Street is a biographical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name. The screenplay was written by Terence Winter, and the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, along with other cast members including Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, among others. The Wolf of Wall Street marks a fifth collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio, and a second with Winter after Boardwalk Empire.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) begins a low-level job at an established Wall Street firm. After being taken under the wing of company executive Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) and becoming a licensed stockbroker, he is retrenched due to the firm’s bankruptcy following Black Monday.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Belfort’s wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti) encourages him to take a job with a Long Island boiler room dealing in penny stocks. Belfort impresses his new boss with his aggressive pitching style, and earns a small fortune for the firm and himself. Belfort befriends Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), a salesman living in the same apartment complex, and they go into business together along with his accountant parents and several friends. To cloak the fact the firm is a pump and dump scam, Belfort gives it the respectable name of Stratton Oakmont, shortly after which FBI Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) begins investigating the firm.

Belfort begins an affair with Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie) resulting in his divorce from Teresa and a second marriage to Lapaglia, buying a mansion and a yacht that he names after her. They have a daughter, Skylar. At work, meanwhile, Belfort, Azoff and colleagues engage in non-stop debauchery and drug use.

Belfort makes $22 million after securing the IPO of Steve Madden Ltd. To hide his money, Belfort opens a Swiss bank account with a corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel (Jean Dujardin) using friends with European passports to smuggle cash. It is opened in the name of Naomi’s aunt Emma (Joanna Lumley), a British citizen outside the reach of U.S. authorities.

Belfort’s father Max (Rob Reiner) and lawyer Manny (Jon Favreau) attempt to convince Belfort to step down from Stratton Oakmont and escape the large number of legal penalties. However, during his office farewell, Belfort changes his mind.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Belfort, Donnie and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Emma has died so the money in the Swiss bank account is locked up. While Emma left the money to Belfort, he has to go to Switzerland the next day to sign for it. Over his grieving wife’s objections, Belfort sails to Monaco when a violent storm capsizes their yacht. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed by a seagull flying into the engine, exploding and killing three people. Witnessing this, Belfort considers it a sign from God and decides to sober up.

Two years later, Denham arrests Belfort during the filming of an infomercial after Saurel tells the FBI everything. With the evidence against him overwhelming, Belfort agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency.

Belfort expresses optimism about his sentencing to his wife, who promptly informs him she will file for divorce, demanding full custody of their two children. Belfort throws a violent tantrum, gets high, and crashes his car in his driveway during an attempt to abscond with a frightened Skylar. The next morning, Belfort wears a wire to work, silently slipping Donnie a note warning him not to say anything incriminating. The note finds its way to Agent Denham, who arrests Belfort for breaching his cooperation deal; the FBI then raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont.

Despite the breach, Belfort receives a reduced sentence of 36 months in a minimum security federal prison in Nevada. After his release, Belfort makes a living hosting seminars on sales techniques in New Zealand.

The Wolf of Wall Street Movie Poster

The Wolf of Wall Street

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Margot Robbie, Jon Favreau, Cristin Milioti, Matthew McConaughey
Screenplay by: Terence Winter
Production Design by: Bob Shaw
Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto
Film Editing by: Thelma Schoonmaker
Costume Design by: Sandy Powell
Set Decoration by: Ellen Christiansen
Music by: Howard Shore
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence.
Studio; Paramount Pictures
Release Date: November 15, 2013

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Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks

Taglines: When her book ended, their story began.

Two-time Academy Award–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen.

When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.

For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.

It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

Saving Mr. Banks Movie Poster

Mr. Banks

Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell
Screenplay by: Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
Production Design by: Michael Corenblith
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Film Editing by: Mark Livolsi
Costume Design by: Daniel Orlandi
Set Decoration by: Susan Benjamin
Music by: Thomas Newman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements including some unsettling images.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: December 13, 2013

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47 Ronin

47 Ronin Movie

From ancient Japan’s most enduring tale, the epic 3D fantasy-adventure 47 Ronin is born. Keanu Reeves leads the cast as Kai, an outcast who joins Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), the leader of 47 outcast samurai. Together they seek vengeance upon the treacherous overlord who killed their master and banished their kind. To restore honor to their homeland, the warriors embark upon a quest that challenges them with a series of trials that would destroy ordinary warriors.

47 Ronin is helmed by visionary director Carl Erik Rinsch (The Gift). Inspired by styles as diverse as Miyazaki and Hokusai, Rinsch will bring to life the stunning landscapes and enormous battles that will display the timeless Ronin story to global audiences in a way that’s never been seen before.

47 Ronin is directed by Carl Erik Rinsch based on a screenplay by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini. While the film is based on the true story of the forty-seven ronin, it is a fantastical take, being set “in a world of witches and giants”. The studio Universal Pictures first announced the project in December 2008 with actor Keanu Reeves attached to star.

Variety reported, “The film will tell a stylized version of the story, mixing fantasy elements of the sort seen in The Lord of the Rings pics, with gritty battle scenes akin to those in films such as Gladiator.” Universal planned to produce the film in 2009 after finding a director. In November 2009, Universal entered talks with Rinsch to direct the film. For Rinsch, who has filmed “visual and stylish” blurbs for brands, the film is his feature film debut.

In December 2010, the studio announced that the film would be produced and released in 3D. Between March and April 2011, five Japanese actors were cast alongside Reeves: Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Akanishi. According to Variety, Universal chose them to make the story more authentic instead of picking actors that would be recognizable in the United States. Universal is providing Rinsch with a production budget of $170 million despite his lack of feature film experience, which The Hollywood Reporter considered to be a “large-scale, downright risky” move.

Filming began on March 14, 2011 in Budapest. Production moved to Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom; additional filming in Japan was also planned. Reeves said that scenes are filmed first in the Japanese language to familiarize the cast, and the scenes are filmed again in the English language. The actors’ costumes were designed by Penny Rose, who said, “We decided to base it on the culture and what the shapes should be—i.e., everyone’s in a kimono—but we’ve thrown a kind of fashion twist at it. And we’ve made it full of color, which is quite unusual for me.”

47 Ronin Movie Poster

47 Ronin

Directed by: Carl Erik Rinsch
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rinko Kikuchi, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Screenplay by: Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini
Production Design by: Jan Roelfs
Cinematography by: John Mathieson
Film Editing by: Stuart Baird
Costume Design by: Penny Rose
Set Decoration by: Elli Griff
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, and thematic elements.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2013

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