Christian Bale

Film Review: The Promise

by Carrie Kahn on April 21, 2017

Emotionally powerful new film brings story of Armenian genocide to light

Mikael (Oscar Isaac) arrives in Constantinople for medical school.

April 24th is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, so opening The Promise this weekend is obviously intentional. Irish director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and screenwriter Robin Swicord have made the first major Hollywood picture to tell a story about the horrific event commemorated by that date. If you can’t see the film this weekend, I would encourage you to see it when you can, as a way to both honor the tragedy’s victims, and to learn a history that many non-Armenians know far too little about.
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Malick’s stream of consciousness goes to Hollywood.

Christian Bale is a Hollywood Knight...of cups.

Christian Bale is a Hollywood Knight…of cups.

For the most part, you’re either a fan of Terrence Malick or you’re not. There isn’t a whole lot of middle ground, considering the polarizing style of his films — they’re sort of poetic streams of consciousness in the form of montages and existential voice-overs. His early masterpieces, like Days of Heaven and Badlands (and even The Thin Red Line) paved the way for, arguably, his magnum opus, The Tree of Life. Since then he’s delivered hit-or-miss cinematic experiences that are stories built upon the interpretation of the collection of images on the screen. Not to say that Malick doesn’t have a complete understanding grasp of his own products, but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think he may not, and purposefully so. And now there’s Knight of Cups, Malick’s newest existential experience. This time, the experience is centered around one man’s journey in Hollywood, his success and failure, of the rich and poor around him, his dreams and his fate, and with a central heartbeat to it all in the form of tarot cards. What’s not to like!? Well, there’s a lot that feels pretentious and aimless, and accidentally so. But there’s also a lot in Knight of Cups that overflows with meaning and beauty, and those moments make KoC just rewarding enough to enjoy watching.

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2015

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2015. Here is Chad’s list, presented in reverse-awesome order. Also check out Carrie‘s top ten list!

10.) Cinderella
Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

A lack of the classic Disney song ‘Cinderelli!’ didn’t prevent Kenneth Branagh’s live action version of Cinderella from reaching magical heights. After a plethora of disappointing “re-imaginings” and “discover the true story” versions of classics — Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful — it was time for a movie to play it straight, and Cinderella did just that. With amazing performances from Lily James and Cate Blanchett and beautiful costumes and set designs, Cinderella (hopefully) represents the first in a new series of live action Disney remakes that stick to the strong source materials without egregious silly additions. (Read my full review of Cinderella here.)

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Film Review: The Big Short

by Chad Liffmann on December 11, 2015

One the most brilliantly infuriating films in years.

The men who knew too much.

The men who knew too much.

Let’s get this out there—Adam McKay, the director of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, should be nominated for an Oscar come February. Sorry, did I say an Oscar? I meant two Oscars, one for writing and one for directing The Big Short, adapted from the book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. The film follows the true story of a few key players in the housing credit bubble collapse of 2007, specifically, a few that saw the crash coming and invested in the collapse. Yes indeed, there are no heroes here. Just anti-heroes and a whole lot of a**hole douchebag jerk faces that f*cked all of us over! Whew, ok, now that I got that off my chest, I should mention that this is one of the best films of the year. The incredibly witty script keeps the otherwise confusing subject matter entertaining and comprehensive. The Big Short treats its story with flair and casual grace, rather than overloading it with unnecessary drama or uppity intellectuality. Basically, the true events speak for themselves. The filmmakers just supplied the superb cast, tight script, and brilliant tongue-in-cheek storytelling devices to frame it.

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Exodus highlights the ongoing battle between traditional and modern filmmaking, and neither side really wins.

Battle Moses.  Complete with armor, shiny sword, and unidentifiable accent.

Battle Moses. Complete with armor, shiny sword, and unidentifiable accent.

Exodus: Gods and Kings was bound to be a spectacular epic, considering the biblical source material and the director at the helm, Sir Ridley Scott.  Scott echoed this projection when he said that Exodus: Gods and Kings is his “biggest” movie yet.  Considering his long resume of major titles, that’s quite a statement and yet it’s true.  The sets, the action, the effects, and the scope are all monumental, and these are mainly where the movie succeeds.  It’s heartwarming to know that there’s still room for traditional sandal epics in the modern film business, featuring a good amount of built sets and armies of real actors (as opposed to CGI backdrops and armies…though these are still employed here as well).  But trying to keep to tradition comes with a price, and some poor decisions.  Exodus is weakest (and most controversial) in its casting choices and artistic breaks from the source material, but these falters can’t keep Exodus from providing a mostly exciting experience.

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I see the world / Feel the chill . . .

Woody Harrelson proves lollipops aren't just for kids as he menaces Casey Affleck in Out of the Furance.

Woody Harrelson sucking on a lollipop in Out of the Furnace just might be the most frightening thing you’ll see on screen this year.

With both the holidays and the cold weather upon us, now is a great time to go to the movies, but director Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace may not be the film to see on a family outing. A bleak, gritty look at life in rural Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the picture blends elements of Winter’s Bone and The Fighter, with dashes of The Deer Hunter and Fight Club tossed in for good measure. Although the film boasts some terrific performances, it feels recycled at best, and derivative at worst.  [read the whole post]

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Film Review: “The Dark Knight Rises”

July 19, 2012

starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine, Juno Temple written by: Jonathan and Christopher Nolan directed by: Christopher Nolan MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language

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