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Posts Tagged ‘ Woody Harrelson ’

Now You See Me

Isla Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco

Now You See Me is an intricately woven story of intrigue, deception, revenge and of course magic.

When four low-level magic performers find magical tarot cards they poll their talents and form ‘The Four Horsemen’ (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco). In front of a live crowd they convince the world they transported one of their audience members to a Parisian bank stealing €30 million in the process. Continue reading

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Seven Psychopaths

Seven-PsychopathsNot since 2010’s “The Guard” have I had this much fun in the cinema. Martin McDonagh returns to the screen with his first film since 2008’s “In Bruges”, also starring Colin Farrell as a hit-man laying low in Bruges with Brendan Gleeson. His latest film certainly equals the standards raised at the last toll; it’s a bloody, violent, stylish and absolutely hilarious film pitting some fine talents such as Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson together in a brutal game of cat-in-mouse in a style echoing the dark humour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and the sharp, witty dialogue of Tarantino’s masterpiece “Pulp Fiction”.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is an Irish writer living in LA struggling to start his new screenplay titled “Seven Psychopaths”. He hasn’t even got beyond “Psychopath No. 1” and already his drinking problem is spiralling out of control. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is a slightly unhinged and failed actor who makes a living from kidnapping dogs and sending his partner-in-crime Hans (Christopher Walken) to the owner’s house to retrieve the money in award for ‘finding’ their beloved pet. Billy tries to help Marty by placing an ad in the newspaper calling on all psychopaths to come to Marty’s house to be interviewed for the chance of their story appearing in his screenplay. But it soon becomes apparent that Marty will not need to rely on the ad to bring the psychopaths in, because when Billy and Hans kidnap the Shih Tzu belonging to a sadistic gangster (Woody Harrelson) and Marty gets sucked into the mess, by the end of it all – if he is still alive that is – he’ll have one hell of a story to write.

“In Bruges” was pretty successful when it was released back in 2008, and “Seven Psychopaths” serves to be the long-awaited follow-up to that film from Martin McDonagh. While I’m undecided on which is the better film, “Seven Psychopaths” certainly lives up to the lofty standards set by “In Bruges” in terms of humour, sharp and witty dialogue and pure mayhem. Sam Rockwell (“The Green Mile”, “Choke”) is arguably the star of the film. His extroverted performance as the unhinged Billy is very enjoyable to watch; it’s a well composed and characteristic. Colin Farrell (“Tigerland”, “In Bruges”) looks somewhat lost at times, but it’s fitting for his character – an alcoholic writer with writer’s block. Rockwell’s Irish jokes and impersonation were surprisingly very good, unlike the vast majority of the kicks Hollywood tries to make at the Irish culture and accent. Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”, “Biloxi Blues”) has always stolen the show, and it’s no exception here. His character Hans, is very interesting, and Walken proves he was the perfect man to cast in this role. Woody Harrelson is personally one of my all-time favourite actors, if for nothing more than his psychotic look and domineering presence on screen. Ever since his lead role in the amazing “Natural Born Killers”, Harrelson has set his own standards and met them ever since. He’s superb in this film. Very funny and completely psychotic. The dialogue, brutal dark humour and witty one-liners have to be the best thing about the film alongside the exceptional performances from a superbly assembled cast (Which also includes singer Tom Waits).

“Seven Psychopaths” is one of the best films of 2012. The criss-crossing storyline imitates the best of Tarantino and has a very strong odour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, which McDonagh’s latest effort is slightly better than in my opinion. An absolutely enjoyable film that literally cuts your throat while you’re laughing; the violence is gorgeously bloody at times – stylized yet realistic. Hopefully McDonagh comes out in the next round with an equally superb, if not better, film.

– Joe Callan

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, initially a novel written by American writer Suzanne Collins was first published in 2008. The Movie, released March 23rd of this year is co-produced by Collins herself, and voiced through sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) from District 12.
Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem in North America. The Capitol, an extravagant abyss of horrendous fashion and titanic architecture, holds absolute power over twelve surrounding districts. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which a boy and a girl aged between twelve and eighteen are selected at random to compete to the death. The games are televised, Big Brother style.
Collins took her inspiration from hopping channels on TV, observing competitive reality TV shows and the Iraq invasion, imagining it as it ‘began to blur in this very unsettling way’.
The reviews have been nothing short of glittering. The New York Times’ John Greene thought it was ‘brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced’. Stephen King for Entertainment Weekly compared it to ‘shoot-it-if-it-moves videogames…you know it’s not real’. Not surprising then that since opening it has gathered a rather tasty $152.5 million already in the States.
The movie is sad, horrific, happy, shocking…an all-rounder really.
It’s the cast that finishes off the rather horrifying experience of The Hunger Games, Stanley Tucci adds the comedic splash whilst Elizabeth Banks ensures that we’re creeped out just enough throughout.
N.B. You most likely will find yourself in tears at least once throughout this film…

Rampart

In homage to perhaps Bad Lieutenant, Training Day and even Dirty Harry, Rampart addresses that almost iconic enduring image of the dirty cop that harks back to the days of the Rampart scandal that almost swallowed and enveloped the LAPD in a swathe of investigations that eventually led to the convictions of 58 police officers who were involved in corruption, bribery, drug dealing and even murder in the late 1990’s.

Rampart sees James Ellroy, the word smith behind L.A. Confidential and Oren Moverman the man in charge of the camera for L.A. Confidential re-unite in a gripping tale of drama, suspense, misanthropy, racism, family struggles and heartbreak. Dave Brown, played by Woody Harrelson, is a police officer in Los Angeles at the turn of the century, a turbulent time in the LAPD. Brown can only be described as a man who fears no law and is even a law unto himself.

We see glimpses of his hardened, cold manner in the opening scenes where he bullies a new female officer seemingly for the sake of it when he forces her to finish her lunch time fries when she offers him the remainder. It then cuts to him advising her on a patrol and in the same fell swoop he demonstrates how to intimidate groups of Latino’s by driving straight at them, sirens blaring.

We initially see him cruise the streets of L.A. on patrol,aviators on, almost acting as a type of barrier to the world that he so evidently hates. We are witnessing the demise of a police officer who is a throwback to the old school cop who took names and asked questions later. We later learn his father was a LAPD officer which evidently has an influence on his controversial policing tactics.

Brown outside of work is no stranger to controversy either. He has fathered two children with two women who happen to be sisters and the family unit immediately becomes a distorted arena of potential chaos. The eldest daughter, Helen, is an individual who demonstrates her mistrust of her father several times throughout and also demonstrates an unyielding melancholic attitude towards life. She is played by Brie Larson of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World fame and can only expect attention in the future after a commanding performance.

The sisters and mothers of his children, played by Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon, ironically both lesbians in the screenplay that is life, have obviously witnessed Browns propensity to create situations for himself that do not necessarily make life easy, being victims themselves of course. Which brings us to the issue at hand. Why is Brown so controversial? His daughter Helen repeatedly refers to Brown as “Date Rape” throughout, a moniker afforded to him after he allegedly murdered a serial date rapist. This establishes his dalliances with trouble.

With the LAPD embroiled in scandal after scandal, Brown while driving is careered by another car and he proceeds to chase down the culprit and use excessive force thus only serving to enhance the LAPD’s tarnished reputation. This happens to be caught on camera and aired on news channels. In an age void of YouTube, Flickr and Tumblrs this inevitably leads to Browns suspicions that this may have been set up by the Mayor and the LAPD to deflect attention from their offices. Displaying an eloquent understanding of the law throughout, alluding to his past failures at the Bar, Brown when questioned on the matter at hand promises to make life difficult when he is approached to make amends for his actions by the Mayor and his superiors. Sigourney Weaver is at best featured intermittently as his superior and Steve Buscemi has a standard bit part as Mayor.

Clearly able to handle himself, Brown when asked has he considered retirement wonderfully executes the script while threatening to use his Vietnam past, legal nous and the chance that he could have a show on Fox within a week to squirm out of the topic. At one stage he even offers to return to the Bar and qualify if forced to leave the LAPD and come back to work for them as their “token fascist”. Legal fees are building and he is fast running out of cash and only sees one way out of it.

Without giving away too much of the plot we see how this potentially likeable character is flawed beyond repair. His actions lead to his ultimate deterioration and character suicide which leads to a DA investigation. Ice Cube attempts to bring the DA agent to life but he fails to ignite any soul in the character and is not convincing and as an actor sadly will never be.

Engaging in illicit behaviour has become a token of this characters framework and his relationship with a DA lawyer, played by Robin Wright is no different to any other aspect of his life. Messy, tainted, controversial, ambiguous and fundamentally flawed. Another cast member who is integral as the homeless man who poses a threat to the livelihood of Brown through being in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time, whichever way you see it, is Ben Foster.

At the climax of the film we see Brown eventually succumb to his true characteristics but we also see the broken and lost soul within the character itself. The only flaw for me in the film was the ending which may leave audiences a bit frustrated.

Interestingly Overman, Harrelson and Foster all collaborated on the much lauded The Messenger, which somewhat seemed to pass under the radar this side of the Atlantic and Overman obviously places trust in these masters of their craft. Overman who directed Harrelson in The Messenger also, in which Harreslon was nominated for an Academy Award for his turn as a Casualty Notification officer, has obviously learned how to tap into the dark side of Harrelson and eke out a performance in him that truly portrays that of a tortured and troubled soul. Overman captures the essence of this beautifully and the camera work lends itself to the style of Michael Mann’s Collateral however the director has his own unique touch and must be applauded for managing to wrap cinematic chaos in a blanket of eloquence.

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