Woody Harrelson

Superb cast anchors McDonagh’s outstanding southern tale  

Grieving mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) expresses her frustration with her daughter’s stalled murder investigation via three billboards. 

“Raped while dying / And still no arrests / How come, Chief Willoughby?” So read the titular three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, in writer/director Martin McDonagh’s brilliant, searing new blackest of black comedies. Whether the picture is correctly classified as a comedy – as its trailer would have it – may be a point of argument, however. While the film is not without its head-shaking, laugh-out-loud moments, they serve as counterpoint to the overarching dark, almost biblical tale that envelopes them, which will leave the viewer contemplative and affected for days after the credits roll.
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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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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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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: Free Birds

by Chad Liffmann on November 1, 2013

“Free Birds” is a surprising, scattered, Thanksgiving treat.

Jake (Woody Harrelson) slaps some comedy sense into Reggie (Owen Wilson)

Jake (Woody Harrelson) slaps some comedy sense into Reggie (Owen Wilson)

Yes, this is a movie about turkeys.  It’s not a spin-off adaptation of the mobile game, Angry Birds.  Free Birds is not the strongest title, it lacks punch.  Free Birds also hasn’t benefited from a strong and focused marketing campaign.  The reason for this — Free Birds is wacky and crosses multiple genres, and even includes some very surprising plot twists.  Yet, its filled with original humor and employs an extremely playful attitude with perfectly timed editing to create a funny and thoroughly entertaining family film.

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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: “The Hunger Games”

March 23, 2012

starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland, Alexander Ludwig, Toby Jones, Isabelle Fuhrman written by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray directed by: Gary Ross MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens

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Film Review: “Friends With Benefits”

July 22, 2011

starring: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Nolan Gould, Bryan Greenberg, Andy Samberg, Emma Stone written by: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck, Harley Peyton directed by: Will Gluck MPAA: rated R for sexual content and language.

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