Colin Farrell

Coppola returns to form with seductive Southern gothic drama 

Union soldier John (Colin Farrell) and Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) find a moment alone. 

In its 70-year history, the Cannes Film Festival has only awarded its Best Director prize to a female director twice; the first was in 1961 (to Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva for Chronicle of Flaming Years, a tale of Nazi resistance in the Soviet Union), and the second was this May, to writer/director Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled. While the Festival sadly took some 50 years before bestowing this honor on another woman, this year’s award hopefully signals a real shift toward providing opportunities for, and recognizing the accomplishments of, women in film. That said, the concern of this review, of course, is the film itself: are Coppola and her new film worthy of the prize? The answer, thankfully, is a resounding yes.
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Fantastic beasts are plentiful in this magical yet slightly subpar re-intro to a familiar wizarding world.

Newt and a Fantastic Beast

Newt and a Fantastic Beast…and Dan Fogler.

I want a fantastic beast of my own! I’m incredibly relieved that there are moments in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that made me wish the wizarding world was real, and that I was privy to it. (I guess if I wasn’t privy to it, I wouldn’t know if it was real.) Anyway, one of the most wonderful characteristics of the Harry Potter books and early films was the wonder and charm they emitted. Sadly, as the trio of young wizards grew up, the plots became less warm and wondrous and more cold, pale, and dark. David Yates directed the final four Harry Potter films, and he’s back in the helm for the first return to that universe since 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. This return, the first installment of a new Fantastic Beasts series, isn’t as light and funny as The Sorcerer’s Stone, so despite a five year wait-time since the last movie (and 15 since the first), it’s very reminiscent of the dark Deathly Hallows. Part of this is due to the main characters being in their adulthood to start, so the inexperience and innocence of young wizards isn’t front and center. Another part is due to the 1920s New York setting of Fantastic Beasts — whereas most of the Harry Potter series took place in and around Hogwarts and fantastical woodland areas. And this new story is also a bit weaker than the initial Harry Potter entry. Needless to say, there are many reasons why Fantastic Beasts doesn’t capture the charm and magical pull of the original Harry Potter films, yet the beasts and characters fit right in to the world we’ve been missing for half a decade.

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An utterly unique (surrealist) romantic comedy that inadvertently subverts all other romantic comedies.

Name the defining characteristic of each of these three.

Name the defining characteristic of each of these three.

To all you single folks — do you feel the pressure of finding a partner? Well, imagine that you have 45 days to do so otherwise you’ll be turned into an animal. How’s that for pressure? That’s the boiled-down premise of Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, a fascinatingly bizarre and dark dramedy romance (you could say it transcends multiple genres). Of course, there’s a lot more to The Lobster than just the 45 day ultimatum tidbit. The film eschews most everything that remotely resembles normal storytelling yet manages to convey a uniquely human story within its dystopian setting. The Lobster is a sharp satirical look at the oppressive nature of our societal coupledom, maintaining a steady level of surrealist humor even as it descends into darker and darker territory and an appropriately uneven finish.

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Film Review: Saving Mr. Banks

by Carrie Kahn on December 13, 2013

Mrs. Travers goes to Los Angeles: It’s Mickey vs. Mary in well crafted, absorbing film

Genial Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has to deal with the prickly P.T. Travers (Emma Thompson) in Saving Mr. Banks.

P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) is decidedly unamused by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and Disneyland.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical going into Saving Mr. Banks, the new film from Disney Pictures and director John Lee Hancock, the writer and director of 2011’s feel-good The Blind Side. I was afraid this film might be too treacly and sentimental, and be nothing more than a glorification of Walt Disney and the Disney canon, in much the same way The Internship glorified Google. But my fears were allayed when I found myself utterly engrossed and thoroughly entertained by Hancock’s picture, which features a compelling narrative, complex characters, and excellent performances. [read the whole post]

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Film Review: Epic

by Chad Liffmann on May 24, 2013

Colin Farrell voices Ronin in Epic

Colin Farrell voices Ronin in Epic

Naming a film Epic is asking for a lot, especially when it’s based on a children’s book of a different and less demanding title, “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs” by William Joyce.  Mirriam-Webster defines ‘epic’ as “extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.”  To focus Epic on inherently small things, like insects and miniature people in a world of forest trees and underground hives, is a problem in of itself.  Sure, things may look “epic” from the characters’ point of view, but from the perspective of a human being in the audience, not so much.  Luckily the visuals do look epic, they just don’t feel that way.  This is due in part because of the relatively banal storyline and uninspired character design for the protagonists.  It’s still a very playful film with just enough depth to satisfy adults, but as it tries to balance emotion and a tone oriented toward small children, it falls short.

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Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell in SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS

Seven Psychopaths may only be the second feature-length film from writer/director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), but it appears that he’s already having his 8 1/2 moment. A fragmented and bizarre but explosively funny crime comedy, it is ostensibly the story of Marty (Colin Farrell), a screenwriter attempting to write his next script, titled…Seven Psychopaths. There’s just one problem: despite the title, Marty has only thought of one psychopath. But when his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), an aspiring actor and serial dognapper, and his dognapping partner Hans (Christopher Walken), unwittingly steal Bonny, the beloved shih tzu of vicious L.A. gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson), Marty begins to realize that he may actually be surrounded by psychopaths.

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Film Review: “Fright Night”

August 19, 2011

starring: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Imogen Poots, Dave Franco, Reid Ewing written by: Marti Noxon directed by: Craig Gillespie MPAA: Rated R for bloody horror violence and language including some sexual references

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