Blue Valentine

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Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as Dean and Cindy in the intense “romantic” drama, ‘Blue Valentine’.

The film switches from present time to the past and details the antics of Dean and Cindy’s life, how they met, how they fell in love and ultimately how they (or mainly Cindy) fell out of love.

As the film takes us back to the past we see Cindy as a young girl with big dreams to become a doctor.  As her relationship with her current volatile boyfriend comes to it’s inevitable end, she meets Dean, an energetic and passionate young man.

Their whirlwind romance begins as Dean explains to his co-worker how taken he is with Cindy, how she is “different” from other girls.  There’s an attraction between the two that’s unexplainable.

Cindy however, finds out that she is pregnant with her ex-boyfriend’s baby, knowing the consequences it will have on her aspirations for a medical career and also knowing that her ex-boyfriend will in no way contribute to fatherhood, she decides to have an abortion.  But just as the doctor is about to perform the procedure, Cindy realizes she can’t go through with it ad decides to keep the baby.

Dean tells her that he wants to start a family Cindy and the baby and the two get married not long after.

As the film switches back to the present, we see Cindy now working as a nurse whilst juggling being a mother to her young daughter.  Dean still works at the same furniture moving job he had when he first met Cindy, however, the years have taken its toll on both parents.  Their relationship is strained, Cindy seems to have lost the want to fight for their love and Dean seems to avoid facing the problems of their distance by drowning his sorrows in alcohol.

While Williams and Gosling definitely get kudos for their performances, the film itself feels a little too drawn out.  The ending is also far from satisfying and there seems to be a significant central goal lacking.  The film’s narrative seems to jump from place to place without much reason and we as the audience seem to become as lost as the characters themselves.

WRITING:  6/10

ACTING 9/10

 

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Flight

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Robert Zemeckis directs ‘Flight’ a hard hitting drama written by John Gatins (screenwriter of ‘Coach Carter’).

Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, an alcoholic and super experienced commercial air pilot of fictional airline Southjet Air.

It’s another “ordinary day” for Whip, as he wakes up next to his flight attendant girlfriend, has a drink and a snort of cocaine before heading for the airport for another flight.  However midflight, as Whip takes a much needed nap, he is awaken by his novice Southern co-pilot Ken Evans (played by Brian Geraghty), “The elevator feels stiff”, Evans voices, alarmed and scared as the plane looks set to go down.

Whip stays as calm as ever as takes control, delegating his co-pilot and head flight attendant Margaret (played by Tamara Tunie).  Whip manages to manoeuvre the plane upside down to steady its alignment.  The plane glides towards an empty field where it has its somewhat “gentle” crash landing.

Remarkably, with over a hundred people on board the plane, only 6 perished.  Whip, suffering only minor injuries has an epiphany when he awakens in the hospital.  He knows he needs to get sober, but at the same time, he must do everything possible to avoid being prosecuted for flying an aircraft under the influence.

That’s where his attorney Hugh Lang (played by Don Cheadle) comes in.  Lang manages to get his toxication report thrown out due to technicalities.  It seems more than likely that Whitaker will come off as the “hero” pilot that he is and avoid any penalties.

Meanwhile Whitaker has fallen for Nicole (played by British actress Kelly Reilly) a fellow substance abuser he met at the hospital.  Nicole also wants to get sober and her life back on track, maybe more so than Whip.  Nevertheless, they help each other as Whip dodges the legal matters of the plane crash investigation.  This is a dramatic and touching film, with wonderful thrilling elements as well as comedic moments (mostly provided by John Goodman’s character Harling Mays, who is Whip’s drug supplier).

 

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Stay

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Ryan Gosling, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in the thought provoking film ‘Stay’.

 

Gosling stars as Henry, a sad, seemingly tormented art student who becomes the new patient of Sam, a psychiatrist played by Ewan McGregor.

 

Sam feels obligated to help when Henry expresses that he’s planning on committing suicide.  The events that follow puzzle Sam as he seems to be drawn into a confusing maze as he tries to track down the mysterious Henry.

 

Sam’s girlfriend Lila had also once tried to commit suicide so the two discuss Henry’s situation as Lila tries to be there for Sam who continuously gets intertwined in Henry’s life.

 

However as Sam tracks down the people in Henry’s life, he starts to find out that everything is not how it appears and that Henry’s friends and family think that Sam is actually Henry.

 

Throughout the film, we see duplicates occurring.  From people, dressed the same as one another and situations and conversations that repeat themselves, we as the audience start to think that this world we are viewing in this film is not quite right.

 

Soon Sam and Henry’s dialogue start overlapping each other and we start to realize that they could be one person, but then we wonder who is real and who is imaginary.  However the twist at the end exceeds all our expectations and we find out that nothing is at all what we thought.

 

The beautiful transitions in this film bring us from scene to scene effortlessly, yet with such detail it really is like witnessing a piece of art unfold before us.  This film is not just a story, but it’s a poem and a painting that evokes all sorts of discussion and thought even after the answers are revealed.

 

 

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Red Widow

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Australian’s Radha Mitchell stars in the new series ‘Red Widow’.

 

Mitchell plays Marta Walraven a house wife with a seemingly perfectly privileged life, a beautiful family living in a beautiful home.  However behind the scenes reveals that Marta’s husband, Evan’s means of providing for his family are indeed illegal.

 

Not only is Marta’s husband involved in the underworld of drugs, but so is her brother and father.  When her husband is gunned down and killed in front of their young son, Boris, Marta never imagined she too would be involved in her family’s dark secrets, but in order to save her family and protect them, she’ll do anything.

 

Marta now has to pay off the debts incurred by her late husband which involved performing risky duties in the drug trade with Evan’s former colleagues.  Whilst doing so her youngest son still struggles with being traumatized by witnessing his father’s death while her oldest son helps cover for her.

 

Her first duty is to find a new point of contact at a port to help smuggle out the drugs.  She is forced to seduce Bob to get her way.

 

While the pilot was definitely attention grabbing, the plot that follows isn’t entirely convincing.  Mitchell does a good enough job however the actor that played Evan Walraven, Anson Mount certainly had the most screen presence.  Too bad he doesn’t get much screen time before his character is killed off.

 

The world that Marta is pulled into is portrayed realistically enough, however how easily and calmly she is able to perform her duties is the unconvincing part.  Her character isn’t shown to have mourned much at all considering her circumstances.  She almost seems like she’s enjoying this new life of hers, it really seems unbelievable and not to mention doesn’t make us have much empathy for her.

 

But maybe it’ll get better, maybe it won’t.  Right now it deserves a 6/10.

 

 

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The Lucky Ones

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Starring Rachel McAdamsTim Robbins and Michael Peña, The Lucky Ones is a great “road trip” film filled with heart.

 

Colee, Cheaver and TK, three soldiers who have returned home for their 30 day break after being injured in the war.

 

Colee (plated by Rachel McAdams), is a sweet, somewhat naive young southern girl whose boyfriend was killed in the war.  She comes back to the States carrying his prized possession, a very valuable guitar, who she intends on returning to his family.  Being estranged from her own mother, Colee hopes to find a family with her deceased boyfriend’s parents.  Her innocence is charming and sometimes gets her in conflict with the more straight forward and realistic TK.

 

TK (played by Michael Peña), is like a cat with nine lives.  After surviving a near death attack in the war, albeit with an injury to his “privates”, he is reluctant to come home to his fiancee, who is still unaware of the details of his injury.  TK comes from a family of soldiers so even though his heart isn’t entirely in it, being a soldier is all he knows how to do. After the traumatic incidents overseas, deep down he wishes he didn’t have to return to the war and with the encouragement of Cheaver, he explores avenues of his escape from duty, without having to succumb to the potential disappointment of his family.

 

Cheaver (played by Tim Robbins) is like the Papa Bear of the film, but sometimes Papa Bear needs his “kids” more than he thinks.  Cheaver is happy to retire from the army so he can return to his wife who is misses so dearly.  However upon returning home, Cheaver isn’t as welcomed as he had hoped, his wife springs on him that she wants a divorce. Struggling to come to terms with his wife’s wishes, Cheaver must also find $20,000 to pay for his son’s acceptance into Stanford University.

 

Initially the threesome set out on a journey of convenience, due to cancelled connecting flights, the group rent a car together to attempt to drive to the next airport.  However, after Colee and TK see how broken Cheaver is from hearing the news from his wife, they decide to accompany Cheaver across the country to Las Vegas.  The many towns the group drive through along the way, offers a great set of turning points for each character, as they all try to repair their not-so-physical injuries inside.

 

 

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