The Devil’s Advocate
- Keanu Reeves as Kevin Lomax
- Al Pacino as John Milton
- Charlize Theron as Mary Ann Lomax
- Jeffrey Jones as Eddie Barzoon
- Judith Ivey as Alice Lomax
- Connie Nielsen as Christabella
The Devil’s Advocate may have its fair share of flaws, but thankfully this doesn’t distract from the creepy impact of the film that for the most part successfully criss-crosses genres and features very credible performances from the cast.
Kevin Lomax is a young hotshot lawyer in Florida who has never lost a case that he took. It is precisely this knack for succession that puts him on the radar for a law company in New York, headed by the strange but very charismatic John Milton. Kevin’s God-fearing mother warns him of dangers but he refuses to listen, dismissing what she says as delusions because of her faith. Soon enough, Kevin has moved from Florida to New York and accepted the job in the prestigious law firm, bringing his beautiful wife Mary Ann with him and into a luxurious and spacious apartment. Under the tutelage of Milton, who always seems to be lurking around and is morally corrupt but is very seductive in his offers of luxury and power, what Kevin has left of a conscience is slowly eroded away as his own ambitions and vanity begin to cloud his judgement and he has no qualms about defending the guilty. Meanwhile, a neglected Mary Ann begins to feel increasingly alienated and sees gruesome visions of demons, that lead to her mind disintegrating with fright and uncertainty. As the high-profile cases role in and Mary Ann’s mental capacities crumble alarmingly, Kevin, though blinded by his skyrocketing career, slowly unearths the fact that his superior Milton is somehow not of this world and a deep force of disturbing darkness who has his own devious plans for the young lawyer.
The direction is very well handled by Taylor Hackford, who really knows how to invest a movie with a creeping sense of mystery without overdoing it. Although there is a feeling that everything promised to Kevin is a little too good to be true, many things come as a surprise thanks to the skillful direction of Hackford. I admire the way The Devil’s Advocate builds up slowly and then quickens as the darkness becomes more and more apparent. The exploration of themes of vanity, greed and power were superbly observed with little nods to the damaging and very horrifying results of them as witnessed here in the style of a morality play. Now The Devil’s Advocate isn’t a perfect film and it does have flaws. The chief one being that while the melding of genres between supernatural horror/thriller and courtroom can be well done, the horror aspect, complete with gruesome special effects, dwarfs the legal part of it. That isn’t to say that the courtroom scenes aren’t good, it’s that the supernatural horror/thriller elements emerge on a greater level during the course of the movie. The other flaw is the length of the film, which could have benefited from a few cuts as it runs for too long in the end. Besides these flaws, The Devil’s Advocate is still very entertaining to watch and downright scary in parts with disturbing visuals and demonic ideas. A choral based score that starts out with a veneer of lush enticement soon gives way to something much more frightening, mirroring Kevin’s rise to power and the strange vents that he seems oblivious too as they close in.
Keanu Reeves is not usually my favourite actor(if I’m honest I find him to be a bit wooden in delivery) but he is ideal casting for the role of ambitious Kevin, who is seduced by a world of power that it is almost too late for him to see the horrific darkness that lies underneath everything that he sees. Then we have Al Pacino, full of fire and untamed energy burning across the screen as the Devil, whose seductive and hypnotic presence causes ruin everywhere he looks. Pacino gives the part his all and it really shows in his intense delivery during some electrifying scenes. But I must say the most effective performance in The Devil’s Advocate for me was that of Charlize Theron. Burrowing into the emotional turmoil of Mary Ann as she is neglected and lonely, Theron displays the shocking mental evaporation of her as visions swirl around her and the once bright woman who was full of life is left in unchangeable despair and torture. Jeffrey Jones is well used as a jealous co-worker of Kevin’s who suspects murky machinations behind the scenes, while Judith Ivey exudes a sage presence as Kevin’s religious mother who warns him of the depravity that will await him but to no avail. A sizzling Connie Nielsen slinks across the screen as a seductive worker in league with Milton on his scheme.
It could have done with being a bit tighter in terms of running time and not been as overly ambitious, but for what its worth The Devil’s Advocate sticks in the memory thanks to mysterious and occasionally horrifying elements and cast.
Snow White and the Huntsman
- Kristen Stewart as Snow White
- Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman
- Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna
- Sam Claflin as William
- Sam Spruell as Finn
- Ian McShane as Beith
- Bob Hoskins as Muir
- Toby Jones as Coll
- Ray Winstone as Gort
A dark and stormy twist on the Snow White tale, Snow White and the Huntsman brings the tale to life with style. Yet for all that, a sometimes dragging narrative and questionable casting stop it from becoming a complete success.
Once upon a time, a King and Queen live in a prosperous kingdom. The Queen gives birth to a princess who is named Snow White. Sadly, the Queen dies and the King is left in a web of grief. Invading forces attack and the King goes to battle, eventually destroying the mysterious army. Among the dead, he discovers a beautiful woman by the name of Ravenna. Besotted with her beauty, the King hastily marries her. But he doesn’t realise that Ravenna is in fact a twisted and vengeful sorceress. Ravenna murders the King and brings her dark forces to the kingdom, which causes everything to wither into darkness and hopelessness. Ravenna is obsessed with remaining young and beautiful and as a result locks Snow White away in a tower. She retains her youth by draining the life force of young girls and then consulting with her magic mirror. When the mirror tells her that Snow White is the fairest, Ravenna descends into rage and plots her death. Meanwhile, Snow White sees an opportunity to escape and manages to. The young princess finds herself in the Dark Forest, which is feared by everyone. Enraged, Ravenna summons a drunken Huntsman to track her down. The Huntsman has no interest in helping the evil queen at first, but when she promises to bring his deceased wife back to him, he agrees. Venturing into the woods, he tracks Snow White and when it is revealed that Ravenna has tricked him, joins forces with the princess. They find themselves tracked by the Queen’s forces and journey deeper into the ravaged land. There they come across a band of dwarfs who were loyal to her father and William, a young nobleman with whom Snow White was friends with as a child. As she is the King’s daughter, she must be the one to lead the rebellion against Ravenna and take back the kingdom for good once and for all.
Debuting director Rupert Sanders bring a whole lot of style and panache to this film. Instead of a quaint fairy tale that has been done a thousand times, he delves into the dark heart of the story and brings the Gothic nature of it into view. The set design is absolutely sublime, with The Dark Forest being the highlight of an impressive array of visual splendour with moody colour scheme and creepy effects. The costumes are fantastic, especially in the case of Ravenna, who dresses to kill both metaphorically and literally. It’s great to see a different take on Snow White as a character. Here she is an innocent girl who transforms into a Joan of Arc style warrior leading men into battle. This is a far cry from the winsome and fawning portrayals of the eponymous princess we have seen. And yet there lies part of the problem with Snow White and the Huntsman, it can’t quite makes its mind up of what it wants to be. On one hand we have the effective dark fantasy with a few tweaks here and there. But by altering some of the classic story, the passion is lost. There is supposed to be passion between Snow White and the Huntsman, and even something of a love triangle with William, yet it curiously falls flat. And a middle section that drags at a snail’s pace does the movie no favours. Thankfully, the thundering musical score conjures up some striking moments of drama and magic.
Kristen Stewart portrays Snow White and I must say, is not really that memorable or good in the part. She nails the gloomy stance in the beginning quite well, but seems incapable of escaping this open-mouthed stare and emotionless drudge. Stewart doesn’t convince either when it comes to the growth of the character throughout the narrative. I can’t help but feel that if someone else where in the part, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Chris Hemsworth fares much better as the Huntsman, by carefully bringing a worn-out persona and lonely existence to this brutish man. Yet the real fireworks come from a superb Charlize Theron. Portraying Ravenna as a woman consumed by fear, hatred and no mercy, she is marvellous when she takes the floor and vents her fury. Possessing that imperial gaze and glint of eye, Theron makes what could have been a stock character very interesting and arresting by showing us her back story and why she is the way she is. Sam Claflin doesn’t register that well as Snow White’s friend from childhood, but Sam Spruell sends shivers down the spine as Ravenna’s too close for comfort brother. The acting talents of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones and Ray Winstone add dashes of humour to the proceedings as the dwarfs.
Snow White and The Huntsman may be stylish and a visual marvel, there’s just something missing because of the unevenness in tone and lack of passion to balance things out. Saying that, I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than Mirror, Mirror.
Mad Max: Fury Road
- Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky
- Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa
- Nicholas Hoult as Nux
- Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as The Splendid Angharad
- Riley Keough as Capable
- Zoë Kravitz as Toast
- Abbey Lee as The Dag
- Courtney Eaton as Cheedo the Fragile
When I heard there was going to be another Mad Max movie, I was a little ambivalent as to how it would turn out. Thankfully after hearing the praise for it from almost every critic, I finally watched it and boy did it deliver in spades. Fury Road is one exhilarating spectacle of high-octane action and dystopian craziness. To say I enjoyed this movie, would be a huge understatement.
In the distant future of vast and arid wasteland where resources are scarce and humanity has descended into utter madness, we have Max. A shell of a man, his only instinct is to survive the chaos that surrounds him while dealing with haunting visions of people he was unable to save in the past. We begin with Max being captured by fanatical War Boys, who worship the tyrannical leader Immortan Joe. The grotesque Joe has a complete hold on remaining survivors and keeps them in check by depriving them of water. Max is imprisoned and is forced to be the blood donor to one of the sick War Boys known as Nux, who has been utterly brainwashed by the leader. While attempting to escape, another incident sets in motion dangerous consequences. The driver of Joe’s war rig Imperator Furiosa has had enough of the conditions and escapes with precious cargo Joe’s harem of wives; Angharad, Capable, Toast, The Dag and Cheedo. These girls have been enslaved by the cult leader and used so he can produce an heir. When Joe sees what Furiosa has done, he sends out his armed men on a high-speed chase through the deserts. Max is strapped to the front of one of the trucks and manages to survive the carnage that awaits. Teaming with the fierce Furiosa, he helps her in her quest to reach the land where she was born in hopes of safety and redemption. It won’t be easy with two tons of heavily armed disciples tracing them and attacking, but Max and Furiosa muster their strength to fight back and survive in this time of hopelessness.
Right from the start George Miller brings his expertise to the forefront and bring electrifying life to Fury Road. As the original director of the movies, he has lost none of his touch when it comes to delivering pulse-pounding action and explosive set pieces. From a chase through a violent sandstorm that engulfs everything in its path to the vast arsenal of vehicles and weapons used, he just brings such style to it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with so much action that just leaves your heart pounding and your knuckles white. For a film that runs for two hours, it sure doesn’t feel like it because of the sheer intensity of the movie. The whole visuals are outstanding, with the burnt oranges of the desert and the swirling dust showing us the destruction of humanity and the billowing white worn by the Wives as they flee their imprisonment creating a strikingly angelic impact against this unforgiving land. The sonic elements of this flick deserve so much credit. When watching this, you can hear everything amplified for maximum impact. The gears crunching, the bones breaking and the shrieks of madness, they’re all here and just arrest you from start to finish. And not forgetting the score, which resonates with epic drama and furious action. Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t just a film, it’s a reverberating and action packed event.
Stepping into Mel Gibson’s shoes must have been an extremely daunting task for Tom Hardy. Yet he brings the right strength to the role and nails the laconic demeanor of the character. Hardy has always been a physical actor and here it works excellently as with little dialogue, he conveys the primal need to survive in an extraordinary situation. But I must say that as effective as Hardy was in the role, Charlize Theron was the one who captured my attentions in her portrayal of Imperator Furiosa. Theron creates an intense and extremely determined character of stoic anger, responsibility and bravery. Most of this is conveyed through her eyes, which burn through the screen with steely ferocity. With her buzz cut, oil slicked across her face and a bionic arm, she really is an unforgettable creation and an asset to the movie embodied excellently by Charlize Theron. Nicholas Hoult gives insane and unstable energy to the role of Nux, the brainwashed War Boy who defies Joe and begins to help Max and the others in their attempt to survive. With his rumbling voice and physical presence, Hugh Keays-Byrne makes Immortan Joe a despicable and utterly grotesque villain. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley plays Angharad, Joe’s favourite of his wives who is heavily pregnant and while she isn’t the most competent actress, she brings a definite spark of innocence to the part. Riley Keough and Zoë Kravitz are also good as two of the escaped wives. Abbey Lee stands out the most among the quintet with her large eyes and grim sense of humour undercutting the danger all of them are involved in. Courtney Eaton rounds out the wives as Cheedo, the youngest of the girls.
Brutal, bloody and rip-roaring in the extreme, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best experiences I’ve had in the cinema for a long time and one that is impossible to forget.
After reading a post over at Zoe’s featuring images of actors in suits for the female population to drool over, it gave me the idea to do a post about ladies in suits for the guys out there. A woman in a suit can be something of immense beauty and sexuality, and so without further ado, here are images of some stunning actresses rocking a suit.
First we have Angelina Jolie, showcasing her toned body with edge and sex appeal.
Italian siren Monica Bellucci is a vision of sophistication and earthy sexuality in this number.
Stunner Charlize Theron brings carefree but sexy strength to this suit with a nonchalant pose and steely eyes.
The delightful Emma Watson brings some old-school glamour to this, with just a hint of sexiness beneath it.
Milla Jovovich is a seductive sex kitten in this revealing suit, that puts the sex appeal into suits.
And with all these beautiful women for the guys, I had to include a photo of a handsome guy for the ladies out there. Prepare to drool my blogging sisters. I’m feeling generous again ladies so here’s another guy to fight over in all his masculine glory. In case any of you are wondering who it is, I believe his name is David Gandy, a male model who from what I’ve heard sends the pulses of women racing everywhere.
- Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos
- Christina Ricci as Selby Wall
- Bruce Dern as Thomas
- Lee Tergesen as Vincent Corey
Monster is based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who killed six men between 1989 and 1990 and was eventually sentenced to death after years on death row. Patty Jenkins directs and writes the screenplay for this brutal and intense look at Aileen Wuornos and features a raw, unrecognisable and blisteringly powerful performance by Charlize Theron, that deservedly won her the Best Actress Oscar. It may be tough to watch at times, but the performances and the way it examines the damaged soul of Aileen Wuornos is what gives Monster an unforgettable amount of strength.
At the beginning of the film, we hear Aileen’s voice explaining about her dreams as a child. These are light shots of the fresh-faced little girl wanting to be a movie star. Then, we see the reality of it all. Aileen, alone on the highway, her face puffed up, her eyes like a wounded animal, contemplating suicide with a gun in her hand. Before she decides whether to kill herself, she walks into a bar to order a drink. It is here she meets Selby Wall, a naive, painfully shy outcast lesbian, who has been sent to live with family friends in order to “cure” her lesbianism. Although Aileen insists she isn’t a lesbian, she strikes up a deep emotional bond and eventually a relationship with Selby and finally feels she can connect with someone after the abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of men. Feeling a connection to her, Aileen attempts to get a real decent job, instead of being a prostitute. Try as she might, with no qualifications, she is turned down at every opportunity. Wanting to provide and survive now that she has Selby, Aileen returns to prostitution. One night a client goes too far and in a particularly graphic scene, rapes her. In self-defense, she shoots him dead and hides his body, later she takes his car. This assault on her sets of Aileen’s anger and rage towards men and she continues to work as a prostitute, but descends into killing her clients, even if they are innocent.
What is interesting to watch in Monster is the way it shows Aileen. Unlike the tabloids that often sensationalize serial killers and not focus on why they committed the acts, Monster delves into the damaged psyche of Aileen and strangely, gets the audience to sympathise with her. The screenplay by Patty Jenkins doesn’t say that what Aileen did was right, but gives us reasons as to what drove her into killing. Because of this, Aileen emerges as a multi dimensional character, rather than just a brutal serial killer. Most of this is down to the staggering and no holds barred performance by Charlize Theron. Theron is unrecognisable as Wuornos, she gained weight for the part, wore dental prosthetics and embodied many of her mannerisms with eerie similarity. You see Charlize Theron does not just play Aileen, she becomes her. We get a portrait of a damaged woman who has had to fend for herself after abuse and distrust and Theron shows both the vulnerability and coldness to her character. Charlize Theron thoroughly merited her Oscar for this powerful portrayal. Ably supporting her is Christina Ricci as Aileen’s lover, Selby. Ricci plays her with a naive way but also a spoilt and manipulative side in the case of wanting better things from Aileen. Selby’s introduction serves somewhat as a catalyst for the story, Aileen believes she can finally connect with someone and trust them. The relationship between the two is another interesting facet to the movie. We, as the audience may never know why Aileen did what she did, but Monster provides us with a gritty, interesting examination of a woman’s damaged soul and the consequences of her emotional scars.
Whether viewed as a portrait of a doomed relationship between two outcasts or as a study of a woman who was mistreated and in turn took matters into her own hands in her own way, Monster is still startling yet powerful viewing. Aided by the unforgettable performance of Charlize Theron , sterling support by Christina Ricci and Patty Jenkins gritty but sensitive direction , Monster is a film that is not easy to forget after viewing it.