Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal; based on a true story
Cast: Jessica Chastain as Maya, Jason Clarke as Dan, Kyle Chandler as Joseph Bradley, Jennifer Ehle as Jessica, Harold Perrineau as Jack, Reda Kateb as Ammar
Running time: 2 hours 37 minutes
IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1790885/
Plot: A determined team of CIA operatives spends a decade pursuing leads on the whereabouts of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden
The day before Zero Dark Thirty opened in Kansas City, the Oscar nominations were announced. While the film, lead actress Jessica Chastain, and screenwriter Mark Boal were included on the list, director Kathryn Bigelow was not. Speculation began almost immediately that this was because of controversy surrounding the film’s depiction of torture in CIA interrogations. Of course, that didn’t prevent all those other nominations. So is Bigelow being singled out, or is this just a byproduct of the limited number of slots in each category (something the Academy needs to fix, pronto)?
‘Lawless’: This liquor is strong | 3 stars
By LOEY LOCKERBY
Special to The Star
1 hr., 50 min.
During Prohibition, Franklin County, Va., earned a national reputation for its moonshine.
Illegal liquor fueled the economy (and the occasional car), while law enforcement either ignored the bootlegging or helped it along.
The Bondurant brothers were Franklin County legends, and director John Hillcoat (The Road) has turned their story into a gripping, if unambitious, crime drama.
Published at KCActive.com on June 1, 2012
The Woman in Black
You don’t see many old-fashioned Victorian ghost stories nowadays, and that alone makes The Woman in Black worth a look. Based on Susan Hill’s 1983 novel, it has an interesting plot and creepy atmosphere to spare. Add a grave, grown-up performance by Daniel Radcliffe, and you’ve got a modestly successful attempt to bring back an old-school genre.
Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young attorney in 1910s England assigned to settle the estate of a recluse whose house lies outside a depressing, marshy village. The locals have good reason to feel gloomy — they’ve been haunted for years by a spectral female figure, connected to the house, whose appearances coincide with horrific child deaths. And she’s not too happy about Arthur’s visit.
Director James Watkins is working here for the revived Hammer Studios, and his pacing and visual style do his bosses proud. He’s also got a bunch of great character actors in supporting roles, including Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer as a troubled couple Arthur befriends.
The ghost herself is terrifying, although Watkins regularly undercuts the impact of her appearances with lots of screeching sound effects and an annoying musical score. Arthur engages in the kind of rock-stupid behavior that propels so many horror plots, never missing a chance to wander down a dark hallway or force open a locked door. Radcliffe is too sympathetic to make you actually root for the ghost, but it’s not much easier to root for someone this clueless.
Extras: Commentary by Watkins and screenwriter Jane Goldman; a standard making-of doc and one on Radcliffe’s casting. (PG-13) Rating: 3 — LL
Some of the best Shakespeare adaptations are set in very non-Shakespearean environments. Ian McKellen’s brilliant Richard III took place in a quasi-Nazi England. Baz Luhrmann got millions of teenagers to pay attention to Romeo and Juliet by putting the lovers in the middle of an urban crime drama. Now, Ralph Fiennes tackles Coriolanus, giving one of the Bard’s lesser-known tragedies a very modern polish.
Fiennes both directs and stars as the title character, a brilliant military leader whose skills give him access to political power. He disdains the citizens he’s expected to lead, however, and his tactlessness eventually gets him banished from his home city, “a place calling itself Rome.”
This version of Rome could be any floundering democracy, and Fiennes cannily uses images of bloodshed and protest to drive home just how universal the play’s themes are.
Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s toughest characters to make sense of, especially when he joins forces with his longtime enemy, Aufidius (Gerard Butler), in what seems like the world’s deadliest tantrum. Fiennes is up to the task, and he has a dream supporting cast in Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain, and especially Vanessa Redgrave, as Coriolanus’ ambitious mother. This is the kind of movie that should be shown in English lit classes — not to mention political science, media studies, acting and film production. Just show it everywhere.
Extras: Commentary by Fiennes; a short making-of feature. (R) Rating: 4.5 —LL
A philosopher, a scientist and a theologian walk into a bar. Eight hours later, they stumble out with the script for The Tree of Life.
Viewers of Terrence Malick ’s long-awaited film may also be a bit wobbly when it’s over. It is an impressive, confounding achievement that calls to mind every drunken late-night debate that no one could articulate the next morning.
- Berenice Bejo – The Artist
- Jessica Chastain – The Help
- Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
- Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs
- Octavia Spencer – The Help
Chastain, who could easily have canceled herself out with the 800 or so movies she made in 2011. And, of course, McCarthy, who is just damn funny.
Where the hell is:
- Shailene Woodley for The Descendants (she was great, what happened?)
- Vanessa Redgrave for Coriolanus (I will not let go of that film)
- Carey Mulligan for Shame (so good, she almost makes you forget about Michael Fassbender’s enormous schlong)
- Keira Knightley for A Dangerous Method (I think it’s a lead performance, but either way, she should be here somewhere)
Octavia Spencer has been riding a wave lately. She’ll probably nail it, but this can be a tricky category…