Kate Winslet

Kate, Idris, and a dog battle the elements: Who will survive!?      

Strangers Alex (Kate Winslet) and Ben (Idris Elba) must stick together to survive a plane crash in the Rocky Mountains in heart of winter.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good old fashioned, human-versus-the-elements survival story; 127 Hours is one of my all-time favorite films, and Everest, Into the Wild, and even Alive all captured my imagination and left me pondering the strength of my own survival instinct long after the credits rolled. Director Hany Abu-Assad’s new film The Mountain Between Us isn’t the best of this genre by a long shot, but it’s a decent enough addition to the canon, and, if the genre’s one you enjoy, you can easily add this picture to your viewing queue and feel okay about doing so.
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Collateral Beauty is steeped in laughable melodrama, and not much else.

Will Smith and Edward Norton aren't too happy about anything.

Will Smith and Edward Norton aren’t too happy about anything.

Collateral Beauty could’ve been a great comedy. I have an untested and non-researched theory that ensemble casts are always better suited for comedies, and not dramas. Having numerous A-list stars in a film means that the story will attempt to give each one of them ample time for their characters to develop, change, and come to a satisfying conclusion. You don’t require those per-character time commitments in a comedy, and therefore ensemble dramas suffer from an abundance of promise and not enough deliverables. There are many other things that went wrong for Collateral Beauty. It’s a bad movie, for one. It’s an embarrassing script that somehow made it to the desks of Hollywood execs, who in turn should be embarrassed that they green lit the project. With a total overhaul of the story and characters, the film could’ve and should’ve been a hilarious new spin on the classic Christmas Carol story. Instead, Collateral Beauty is a plodding, preachy, melodramatic piece of manipulative filth. The more I think about it, the more I’m mad at myself for initially thinking that a few scenes were acceptable to watch.

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Film Review: Triple 9

by Carrie Kahn on February 26, 2016

Call in a 999 on this picture: Talented cast can’t save derivative crime story

Atlanta cops Chris (Casey Affleck, l.) and Marcus (Anthony Mackie, r.) are ready for action.

If you’re a fan of dark, atmospheric, incomprehensible crime thrillers, then wow, is today ever your lucky day. With Triple 9, Australian director John Hillcoat (The Road; Lawless) and first-time feature film screenwriter Matt Cook have crafted one of the darkest, moodiest, and totally nonsensical crime dramas in recent memory. As an added bonus, the film boasts a terrific cast, although they are mostly wasted as they gamely try to make their way through this puzzling, often dull, inchoate picture.

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Film Review: Steve Jobs

by Carrie Kahn on October 16, 2015

Sorkin, Boyle get the Job(s) done with fast-paced drama

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) argues with his daughter Lisa (Perla Haney-Jardine) just before the iMac launch…

Perhaps no picture has been more anticipated here in the tech capital of the Bay Area than the Aaron Sorkin-penned and Danny Boyle-directed biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling 2011 biography of the same name. Sorkin and Boyle, with their similar frenetic writing and directing styles (think The Social Network meets Slumdog Millionaire) prove to be the ideal team to dramatize the life of the Peninsula-raised inventor, entrepreneur, original tech titan, and icon. Indeed, their picture lives up to expectations, succeeding as both a fascinating character study, and as a historical dramatization of seminal events that took place here in the Bay Area, but ultimately touched the entire world.

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Why Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my favorite films (of all time) and should be one of yours, too!

eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind

Jim and Kate lay beside each other in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Eleven years ago today (March 19, 2004), Michel Gondry’s award winning sci-fi romantic dramedy, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, was released – and how to categorize such a multifaceted film gem? At the time, it played strong in somewhat limited release, earning $34 million in the domestic box office while garnering very positive critical reviews and mass audience approval. More than a decade later, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a widely respected title, but it often goes unrecognized for its lasting power and timelessness. It has so much going for it, even eleven years later, that one must wonder why it doesn’t frequent more award ceremony montages, more best film lists, and more casual conversations between friends about their favorite films of all time. The A.V. Club got it right, claiming Eternal Sunshine to be the best film of the 2000s. You may be thinking, ‘I liked the movie, but it’s not one of my all time favorites’.  Well, I implore you to reconsider, and here’s why:

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Film Review: Labor Day

by Carrie Kahn on January 31, 2014

A little corniness forgivable in Reitman’s affecting new drama

James Brolin's Frank shows Kate Winslet's Adele and Gatlin Griffith's Henry how to make the world's best peach pie in Labor Day.

Josh Brolin’s Frank shows Kate Winslet’s Adele and Gattlin Griffith’s Henry how to make the world’s best peach pie in Labor Day.

Director Jason Reitman returns to the screen this weekend with Labor Day, the new film that he also co-wrote with Oakland writer Joyce Maynard, author of the book of the same name. The film has already received much advance buzz (and laughs) regarding its pie-baking scene (think not of the infamous American Pie apple pie sequence, but of the pottery scene in Ghost, and you’ll have an apt comparison), but the film deserves attention for more than just that brief snicker-inducing scene. Markedly different in tone from his previous breezy, often darkly comic pictures (Young Adult, Up in the Air, Juno), Labor Day is Reitman’s warmest, most straightforward, earnest film to date. The film is not perfect by any means – it is filled with plot points that strain credulity, and contains its fair share of corny dialogue – but if you can suspend some disbelief for two hours, you will be rewarded with an arresting, well-crafted story of almost unbearable tension. [read the whole post]

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Blu-ray Review: “Titanic”

September 14, 2012

starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart, Frances Fisher, Kathy Bates written and directed by: James Cameron MPAA: Rated PG-13 for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language

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Film Review: “Contagion”

September 9, 2011

starring: Matt Damon, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Ehle, Demetri Martin, John Hawkes, Elliott Gould, Enrico Colantoni, Sanaa Lathan, Bryan Cranston, Anna Jacoby-Heron written by: Scott Z. Burns directed by: Steven Soderbergh MPAA: Rated PG-13 for disturbing content and some language

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