Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Almost Moon

Author(s): Alfredo
Location: NY

"The Almost Moon"

Directed by Stephen Daldry
Screenplay Written by David Hare
Produced by Scott Rudin
Original Score by Phillip Glass
Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey
Film Edited by Peter Boyle
Art Direction by Nick Palmer
Costume Design by Ann Roth

Main Cast

Maria Bello - Helen Knightly
Piper Laurie - Clair Knightly
Saffron Burrows - Clair Knightly, at age 40
Anna Sophia Robb - Helen Knightly, at age 13
William Hurt - Jake Forrest
Josh Lucas - Robert Knightly
and Olympia Dukakis as Mrs. Castle

Tagline: "Almost a moon. Almost a family"

Synopsis: Upon pulling up to the house and seeing the dried up lawn, the dilapidated porch and hearing her mother's screams from inside the house, Helen knew she should not have answered Mrs. Castle's call. For a brief moment she thought of just driving past the house and going home but she could not do that to poor Mrs. Castle; a kindly old neighbor that looked after her mother and asked for nothing in return. No, Helen knew that her mother was no one else's problem to take care of but her own. Helen took a deep breath before stepping through the door. She was startled by her own reflection in the hallway mirror. The life seemed to have been drained from her. She was a walking zombie. She did not recognize herself.

Clair was sitting in her wing chair, wrapped in her shawl. She was furious at Mrs. Castle. Clair had no evidence but was sure that Mrs. Castle was stealing from her. In fact, Clair Knightly trusted no one. Cared for no one. Not even her daughter. Over the years she had grown to loathe Helen. Clair found her to be needy and selfish. Clair longed to go back to when she was a young woman. The woman she saw in the mirror every morning was not the woman she remembers being. This gray haired, wrinkled, short, fat old woman is a far cry from the red haired, beautiful, tall statuesque lingerie model that she remembers being.

When Helen enters the room Clair begins to berate her. Yelling words such as "bitch" and "whore". Helen believes to this to be due to her mothers dementia but Clair knows full well who her attacks are directed at.

Clair and Helen Knightly are a parent and child locked in a relationship so unrelenting that they have become the center of each other's worlds. But today, Helen crosses a boundary she never thought she would approach. And while her act is almost unconscious, it somehow seems like the fulfillment of a lifetime's unspoken wishes. Over the next twenty-four hours, Helen's life rushes in at her as she is forced to confront the choices that have brought her to this one riveting crossroad. As a woman who spent years trying to win the love of someone who had none to spare, she now faces an uncertain and dangerous freedom.

What the Press would say:

With fierce intelligence and emotional intensity, director Stephen Daldry (The Hours) brings us a searing portrait of a mother-daughter bond that descends into murder. Piper Laurie and Maria Bello star as the mother and daughter with Saffron Burrows and Anna Sophia Robb playing their younger counterparts through flashbacks. In this intense film, Piper Laurie is a controlling, mean old mother that drives Maria Bello's character to the point where she feels she has to murder her. This isn't spoiling much since the film is not about the actual murder itself but about the bond between the mother and daughter and what drove them to this crossroad.

Maria Bello, giving the performance of her career, plays the adult Helen Knightly. A woman who has lost everything. She is a desperate woman looking for a way out of her life that has become insufferable. After murdering her mother she finds a sense of freedom from a lifetime of abuse and neglect. In flashbacks we see a young Helen Knightly searching for the affection from her mother, Clair played by Saffron Burrows. Both Robb and Burrows give wonderful performances. Burrows perfectly plays a woman that is slowly falling into dementia after her husband Robert Knightly (Josh Lucas) commits suicide. After Helen kills her mother - a tour de force performance by the great Piper Laurie - has no other choice but to call her ex husband Jake - another great performance by William Hurt. Jake unwillingly becomes an accomplice to Helens crime. This all leads to one of the most thrilling endings in recent film history.

"The Almost Moon" is a film that grabs hold of you from the beginning and does not let go til the last frame. With his unflinching ability to confront the violence and danger that lurk beneath life's everyday surface, director Stephen Daldry and writer David Hare explores the complex ties within families, the meaning of devotion, and the thin line that separates us from the most haunting impulses. The Almost Moon is unforgettable, a raw and powerful story of passion and redemption that is sure to become a classic.

For Your Consideration
Best Picture
Best Director - Stephen Daldry
Best Adapted Screenplay - David Hare
Best Actress - Maria Bello
Best Supporting Actress - Piper Laurie
Best Supporting Actress - Saffron Burrows

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Author(s): Chris M.
Location: NJ

"The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher"

A Miramax Film
Produced by: Noel Pearson
Written and Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Cinematography by: John Toll
Editing by: Mike Hill
Art / Set Direction by: Stuart Craig
Costumes by: Gabriella Pescucci
Makeup by: Christine Blundell
Sound by: David Macmillan
Original Score by: John Barry
Original Music by: Duncan Sheik

Main Cast

Christian Bale (Patrick Magee)
Cillian Murphy (Liam Sullivan)
Miranda Richardson (Margaret Thatcher)
Brenda Fricker (Siobhan Sullivan)
Jaime Bell (Cade Sullivan)
Micael Gambon (Sir Denis Thatcher)
Richard Griffiths (Sir Anthony George Berry)
Stephen Fry (Sir Donald Maclean)
Imelda Staunton (Queen Elizabeth)

Tagline: "Will History repeat itself?"

Synopsis: June 28th, 1984, it’s been seventy years since the most spectacular assassination in modern European history; the shooting of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife at Sarajevo; which was undoubtedly the immediate cause of the First World War. Front page headlines remembering the historic day catch Belfast ship builder Patrick Magee’s attention, and he soon becomes infatuated with the Archduke’s assassination. Magee, a member of the Irish Republican Army concocts a plan that will capture the world’s attention; he will kill the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and members of her Cabinet. Magee believed there would be such disgust over the murders that the British public would force their leaders to pull out of Northern Ireland.

Patrick Magee enlisted the help of his pub acquaintance, Liam Sullivan, a local welder who holds similar nationalist views as Magee. Liam has been involved in the IRA since his childhood. His parents were killed in Belfast by British troops in 1968; Liam vowed to avenge his parent’s death. As a result of his parents premature death, Liam and his brother Cade were sent to live with their grandmother, Siobhan, a respected woman in the community, who promised herself that she would make honest men out of her grandsons and give them the life their parents couldn’t. Cade is attending the local university with aspirations to be in Parliament someday. Cade is not like Liam, he doesn’t hold the extreme nationalist sentiments of his brother. When he learns of the plan, he tries to intervene, but its too late Liam is gone.

October, 1984; Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is in Brighton England for the annual Conservative Party Conference; she and her cabinet members strategize for the upcoming elections. It’s a crucial week for Thatcher; she is attempting to put together a new agenda with her advisors Sir Anthony George Berry and Sir Donald Maclean that lives up to her nickname “Britain’s Iron Lady” and continue to work with the dissemination of democracy in the Soviet Union. Patrick Magee and Liam Sullivan get at room at the Grand Hotel in Brighton where Thatcher is staying. Patrick plants the bomb near the Prime Ministers room, but to his astonishment, Thatcher and her husband Sir Denis escape injury; five people died in the attack including prominent members of the Cabinet. Thatcher insisted that the conference open on time the next day and made her impassioned speech “The scale of the outrage in which we have all shared, and the fact that we are gathered here now — shocked, but composed and determined — is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.” Thatcher’s defiance of the bombers, won her widespread approval across the political spectrum, and adoration from around the world.

Patrick, unharmed fled to Turkey to escape persecution. Liam on the other hand met his untimely death. Patrick was eventually caught and received eight life sentences: seven for offenses relating to the Brighton bombing, and the eighth for a separate bombing conspiracy in Turkey.

What the Press would say:

“The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” Kenneth Branagh’s latest film tells the fictionalized account of the 1984 Irish Republican Army bombing assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This is simultaneously the most conventional and the most opaque of Branagh’s films, and arguably the most effective to date. Branagh’s film works with such piercing fervor and intelligence, centering the film almost entirely in small scenes of personal conflict. Branagh seamlessly incorporated actual news footage of the bombing to secure the realism of this dramatization. This is the film Kenneth Branagh will be remembered for. He will surely be recognized for his rousing cinematic achievement, in the Directors and Original Screenplay categories.

Christian Bale’s powerful performance as the lead conspirator of the assassination attempt, Patrick Magee fuels “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”. Bale proves here once again that he is one of the most talented and interesting actors of his generation. Bale is the key to it all in a performance sure to be nominated for an Oscar, playing a troubled man who confuses his deep nationalism, as freedom fighting, and not terrorism. Christian Bale gives a truly masterful performance as Patrick Magee, built on suggestion, implication and understatement. Miranda Richardson gives a spellbinding performance as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a performance that dazzles so much that viewers will forget that they're watching Miranda Richardson. She presents an example of undetectable acting at its finest. The resemblance is not merely physical, but embodies the very nature of the “Iron Lady” we have grown up with; a private woman who takes her public role with great gravity. Richardson will most likely be nominated for the Academy Award for her career defining role.

Cillian Murphy, the up and coming actor continues to demonstrate his growth in his enthralling performance as Liam Sullivan, the coconspirator and accomplice in the 1984 bombing. Murphy delivers, as the revenge seeking Liam, whose goal in life it avenge the murder of his parents. Cillian exceeds in making a seemingly unsympathetic character, compassionate. He is the perfect balance to Christian Bale. Murphy delivers one of the strongest performances of the year. Academy Award winner, Brenda Fricker returns to screen, and gives a stirring performance as Liam's torn grandmother, Siobhan, a widowed schoolteacher trying to raise two grandsons. Siobhan despises the violent tactics employed by the IRA, and is shocked to learn that her oldest grandson is a member of the organization. “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” explores Siobhan's difficulties in coming to terms with Liam's beliefs and his actions. Fricker captivates the audience, as we watch her walk this precarious moral tightrope.

See the movie everyone is talking about, experience filmmaking at its best.

For Your Consideration:

Best Picture: (Noel Pearson)
Best Director: (Kenneth Branagh)
Best Actor: (Christian Bale)
Best Supporting Actor: (Cillian Murphy)
Best Supporting Actress: (Brenda Fricker)
Best Supporting Actress: (Miranda Richardson)
Best Original Screenplay: (Kenneth Branagh)

Bag of Bones

Author(s): Sergio
Location: Spain

"Bag of Bones"

Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by Tony Gilroy
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by Bojan Bazelli
Edited by Craig Wood

Main Cast

Aaron Eckhart as Mike Noonan
Gwyneth Paltrow as Mattie Devore
Max Von Sydow as Max Devore
Joey Bryant as Sarah Tidwell
Geraldine Chaplin as Rogette
Natascha McElhone as Johanna Noonan
Marlene Lawstone as Kyra Devore

Tagline: "Should we pay for the mistakes from the past carried in our blood?"

Synopsis: Mike Noonan suffers a big writer’s block after the death of his pregnant wife, Johanna, from a brain aneurism. Mike languishes for years after his wife's death, and he finds himself unable to write without going into panic attacks. Mike starts having strange nightmares set at his summer home, in a small town near the lake and he decides to fight his fears and tries to spend a while there. Mike meets Mattie Devore, a widow who will be his only friend in town. Mattie hasn’t any money and she lives in a caravan with her little daughter Kyra. Mattie is being blackmailed by her father in law, Max Devore, who never approve his son's marriage and who wants the custody of his granddaughter Kyra. Mike fells an instant affection for Mattie, so he decides to help her and he hires a lawyer as an act of kindness. Max Devore appears dead in his home which seemingly leaves Mattie and Kyra free from his influence, but max Devore’s assistant, Rogette, continues attacking Mattie and her new friend Mike. Mike quarrels Johanna used to go frequently to the town, even he thinks that he can see her in the house. Mike begins to write again while both Kyra and he build a psychic connection, experiencing paranormal phenomena in their respective homes. Mattie talks to Mike about a long time ago missing woman called Sarah Tidwell, a blues singer how owned his house, and he realizes that maybe she is the ghost he felt in his house. He starts thinking that maybe Johanna is trying to help him to solve the mystery of Sara.

But everything is going to be worst and one day Mattie is shot from a car and she dies in her caravan, so Mike has to take Kyra back to his lake house to protect her from Rogette. He begins to have thoughts of drowning Kyra while she sleeps, before killing himself. He can’t understand his nightmares and there are still unsolved pieces of the mystery and he wants to know what is happening. One night he sees Johanna walking to a closed room and he discovers some documents that she hid before her death and among the papers is a genealogy tree showing Mike's blood relationship with one of the families of the town. Mike continues feeling Sara's influence to take Kyra to the lake just to drown her, but he fights it off. Strangly he can remember where is Sarah’s body and he leaves the house to search for Sara's grave site, knowing that the only way to break the curse and keep Kyra safe would be to destroy Sara's bones. On his way to where Mike knows Sara is buried, the ghosts of Max Devore and several other town men appear to him and try to block him from getting to the grave. Mike gets into a space-time fissure and he has a clear vision of all that men raping and killing Sara, long time ago. He is one of the rapists and Sarah tries to stop Mike of drowning her son in the lake. Meanwhile Rogette kidnaps Kyra with the intention of drowning her but she can escape with the help of her mother. Mike works to dig up and destroy Sara's bones, trying to break the curse. But maybe he has to pay for what his forefather did to Sara and her son in the past.

What the Press would say:

Many are the films about children, curses and supernatural events but there is something new in this remarkable adaptation of a terrifying ghost modern tale. “Bag of Bones” is based on one of the best Stephen King’s novels, and one of the hardest to adapt because its complexity. But this is a screenplay with a hard plot and very solid characters, with very different motivations, giving a great strength and verisimilitude to the main story. Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Bourne saga, Dolores Claiborne...) takes the essence of the novel, keeping the power of the story and giving a master touch in the fantastic parts of this ghost story.

Gore Verbinski takes this ghost story and builds something beyond the typical clues of the genre, turning the drama of the spooky characters into the real horror. The atmosphere of this film reminds the great classics of the genre in the 70s and the terror is showed at the day light, with no tricks and half shadows. This is definitely a director's film. The actors play their roles perfectly and are appropriately shocked at the proper moments, but it is Gore Verbinski's deft touch that makes it work. Verbinski is wise enough to know that in a thriller, less is more. There are some genuine horror moments, but there are many more clever ones that make this film something beyond an usual horror movie. We can see quality in its images, its dialogues and interpretations. It is obvious that the money has been useful, and it has been well spent to get what the director had in mind. He is a director who has made a lot of money for the producers and he has the power to choose and to ask for whatever he wants.

"Bag of Bones" keeps you thrilled right up until the end, because it is really never over until it is over. You will leave the theatre with a good sensation. You will think that you’ve spent a good time watching a very good movie at the same time.


Best Picture
Best Director: Gore Verbinski
Best Adapted Screenplay: Tony Gilroy
Best Leading Actor: Aaron Eckhart
Best Leading Actress: Gwyneth Paltrow
Best Supporting Actor: Max Von Sydow
Best Supporting Actress: Geraldine Chaplin
Best Supporting Actress: Joey Bryant

Cassidy Blake

Author(s): Pat
Location: NY

"Cassidy Blake"

Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Written by Quentin Tarantino

Main Cast

Rosario Dawson (Cassidy Blake)
Tim Roth (Kendrick Martineau)
Vivica A. Fox (The Dame)
Michael Keaton (Sam Broeckel)
Harvey Keitel (Lenny)
Jennifer Hudson (Pretty Alice)

Tagline: "Make a living any way you can"

Synopsis: Cassidy Blake (Rosario Dawson) is a pricey escort working for the top dogs of Los Angeles. She services lawyers, doctors, CEOs, politicians, and many more. In some people’s minds, Cassidy is the best escort in all of Southern California. But this isn’t enough for Cassidy. Despite being the best, her boss, The Dame (Vivica A. Fox), always puts her behind Pretty Alice (Jennifer Hudson), younger sister to The Dame. Cassidy is fed up with being second string to a less popular working girl.

Kendrick Martineau (Tim Roth) considers himself to be the best con artist in the world. He’s swindled hundreds of people out of a total of $3.5 million. He’s ruined lives and families. He’s caused many men to commit suicide. But Kendrick is lacking in something, namely a wife. He is a very shy man who inherently cannot trust anyone who tries to get close to him. That is why he hires prostitutes. That’s how he and Cassidy met.

After several “meetings”, Cassidy and Kendrick come to know each other’s problems in their respective lies. Cassidy’s thrist for success clouds her judgment and she offers a solution. She will agree to become Kendrick’s wife if he agrees to con The Dame out of all her earnings and her reputation on the street. Kendrick goes along with the idea and makes a plan after some surveillance.

Kendrick reveals that The Dame isn’t alone in the world like Cassidy previously thought, but she is rather with Sam Broeckel (Michael Keaton), the lieutenant governor of California. The plan is that they would blackmail Broeckel and force The Dame to pay up.

But The Dame somehow gets wind of the plan and hires a hitman named Lenny (Harvey Keitel) to take care of the problem. Cassidy and Kendrick race against time to expose The Dame for what she is while trying to survive on the cold streets of L.A.

What the Press would say:

Quentin Tarantino returns to cinema wth a new crime-comedy called “Cassidy Blake”. The film is about a high-class hooker who gets caught up in a plot to take all of her pimp’s earnings. In this movie, Tarantino departs from his past works and gives his characters with some morals and big hearts while keeping his signature grittiness in tact. This screenplay is his most fluid yet and his eye for film has never been better. He uses symbolism and puts more into his directing than has ever been done before. On directing terms, this is Tarantino’s most intellectual outing.

Rosario Dawson plays the title character in a role that accentuates all of her best attributes: her stunning sexuality, her peppy attitude, and awareness of how much power a simple flash of the eyes can hold. As a broken shell of a woman, Dawson falls into the deepest, darkest parts of humanity and makes it work to her advantage. Manipulation is her weapon and mankind is her target. Tim Roth plays Kendrick, Cassidy’s occasional lover who seeks her love in return for his talents. He plays a slick New Yorker with such ease that one would believe he’s actually gone through this situation. His best moment comes at the end when he learns that his wishes about Cassidy are nothing but wishes and he crumbles into his own dissatisfaction. Jennifer Hudson and Vivica A. Fox play daughter and mother, respectively, and equally runs rings around Cassidy but soon fall by her hands. Hudson takes what she learned in “Dreamgirls” and makes it more vulgar, resulting in one of the feistiest hookers in the world. Her comic timing and dramatic power cause her to eclipse all her other co-stars. Vivica A. Fox gives a career best as The Dame, Cassidy’s nemesis, who is too invested in her own well-being to realize that Cassidy is trying to betray her.

“Cassidy Blake” is one of the best crime-comedies of our time and could be considered Tarantino’s best for its lack of pretentiousness and mature view of the evils of our world.


Best Picture (Musical/Comedy)
Best Director-Quentin Tarantino
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actor-Tim Roth
Best Actress-Rosario Dawson
Best Supporting Actress-Jennifer Hudson
Best Supporting Actress-Vivica A. Fox

The Cloud Chamber

Author(s): Evan
Location: NY

"The Cloud Chamber"

Distributor: Miramax
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Joyce Maynard and Jeff Stockwell
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Score: Dario Marianelli

Main Cast

Nate – Freddie Highmore
Naomi – Charlie Ray
Momma – Jennifer Jason Leigh
Junie – Bailee Madison
Papa – Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Aunt Sal – Susan Sarandon
Larry – Josh Hutcherson

Tagline: "You can’t change the past, but you can change the future fast"

Synopsis: Nates family was going through hard times. Although his mother made enough money teaching piano to get by, his father, a farmer, seemed to have the worst luck in Montana. He told his whole family that that was going to change. He told them they would soon be richer than they had ever dreamt of. Nate sure does dream big for a 15 year-old, but he didn’t want to tell his father that. So, his dad borrowed a lot of money from an old friend of his, Sam Carter, who had struck it big with cattle. Poppa had to pay Sam back after the crop, and the hope poppa had made his family, even momma, feel happy. Than it happened. Not long after Nates dad had laid the seeds, a freak storm, with hailstones as big as baseballs pounded down so hard one dented the mercury. 15 minutes later, it was all over, but the damage was done. The family’s entire crop was pummeled. His entire crop was pummeled. After this, poppa spent most of his time sitting in his big saggy chair, just staring out the window. Seeing him that way, a sinking feeling came over Nate. Something awful was happening, and there was nothing he could do to make it stop.

A few weeks later, Nates sister Junie and him pulled up to their house on the school bus to a sight of police cruisers and an ambulance. Fearing the worst, yet feeling numb, Nate grabbed little Junie’s hand and pulled her from the bus. They walked swiftly towards the house. Their aunt Sal rushes towards them, but before she gets to them, Nate spots two police officers leading his father towards the ambulance. Blood is pouring down his face. Nate knew he had tried to take his own life. He had failed at that as well.

Home quickly became a very different place. Poppa was away, Junie spent most of her time in front of the television, Aunt Sal did almost all the work around the house, and momma had sort of gone inside herself. Junie and Nate both became social pariahs at school. People thought, because of our father, that a genetic mental disease ran in our family. An example of this was when Junie became very excited about her upcoming 7th birthday, and the party, which would come with it. Nate protests to no avail that Junie will only be hurt by the lack of guests who would come. Nates mother, her mind set on living in the past, refuses to listen and goes ahead with the party. Junie, oblivious to the true issues at hand, is brokenhearted when only one girl comes to the party she had been planning for weeks. Only the promise of winning the science fair was left for Nate and Junie.

Nate and his father had dreamed about building a cloud chamber for so long. A cloud chamber is a device that allows you to see the magnetic waves that come down from the stars, all the time, which are invisible o the naked eye. Nate couldn’t even remember when they had first gotten the crazy idea that it could work. A girl at school, that nobody talked too, became interested in Nates project. Even Nates best bud Larry was beginning to drift away from him, and conform. The girls name was Naomi. She and Nate set out to build this cloud chamber, amidst the threats of bankruptcy, death, and having to leave behind the home he loves. Nate and Junie hope that, by building this thing, they can give papa something to help him feel better, and finally come home.

What the Press would say:

“The Cloud Chamber” is an exquisitely shot, and profoundly moving film about a boy’s journey to help his father. No movie has ever captured the bond between a father and son as well as “The Cloud Chamber,” and when the two are together on screen you can feel the strained magnetic force between them. Freddie Highmore plays Nate, the protagonist and narrator in this beautiful piece. Mr. Highmore gives a heart wrenching, yet hopeful performance of a boy torn between what he wants, and what he needs. Between reality and imagination. Charlie Ray plays Naomi, the artistic, yet social awkward science fair partner to Jake. With unfounded radiance, Charlie shines in her biggest role since “Little Manhattan,” a trifle of a movie that showed nothing of the talent she possesses. She shows with utter grace just how far a person will go for their friends. Mrs. Ray is a capable young actress, who is willing to go out on a limb, and play a profoundly deep character. She is not at all afraid to break the audiences heart. It’s always good to see young actors shine with a light almost brighter than their co-stars. Jennifer Jason Leigh gives a beautiful performance as Nate and Junie’s tortured mother, who struggles between bankruptcy and keeping her children safe from the reality of what their father had tried to do, not only to himself, but also to her family. Jonathan Rhys Meyers also gives his best performance yet, as the man who cared so much about his family, that he didn’t want to make them suffer him anymore Rhys Meyers plays the character with grace, wit, and a kindred spirit that only a true master could summon. Director Sam Mendes crafts this beautiful movie into one of the most saddening, and hopeful movies you may ever see. “The Cloud Chamber” is an astonishing gem of a movie, with a mesmerizing score, and beautiful script. You have never seen anything like it.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman

Author(s): Alex S.
Location: Mexico

"Confessions of an Economic Hitman"

Written, Directed & Produced by Joel & Ethan Coen
Produced by Scott Rudin & Jon Killik
Executive Producers: James Jacks & Brian Grazer
Edited By Roderyck Jaynes, A.C.E.
Cinematography by Roger Deakins, A.S.C.
Music by Thomas Newman
Costume Design by Mary Zophres
Production Design by Jess Gonchor
Art Direction by Tony Fanning & John P. Goldsmith
Set Decoration by Nancy Haigh

Main Cast

Chris Evans – Caleb Thomas
George Clooney – Richard Parsons
John Goodman – Charlie Newhart
Marketa Irglova – Tereza Melcher
Frances McDormand - SAM
John Turturro – Adriano Torres
Steve Buscemi – Jeremy McLean
Paul Newman – Robert Harrison

Tagline: "Advancing the cause of corporate hegemony"

Synopsis: Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars.

Caleb Thomas was the ideal choice for any job you could think of; an outstanding Harvard alumnus, a team player and a natural leader. However one day everything would change for him, weeks before an important interview with a prestigious consulting firm, he was approached by the National Security Agency (NSA) about taking advantage of his possible new position to help the agency, there he met Richard Parsons a cynical and sarcastic man living under what he thought were the American ideals.

They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign "aid" organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources.

After being hired by the same man he met at the NSA, Caleb thanks to the training of a woman known to him only as SAM, would become and expert in manipulation and deceit, a vital piece in helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinational corporations persuade and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business. Parsons, a veteran in his work would take him under his wing.

Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder.

During his 10 year service and providing his abilities in 64 nations in the 5 continents he would meet characters ranking from Charlie Newhart a Texas oil man, Adriano Torres a crazy and self-absorbed Panamanian military leader, Jeremy McLean a radical southern congressman and Robert Harrison a famous writer whose works were basically about the hesitant moral and political issues of the modern world. Nevertheless no one would mark him as much as Tereza Melcher, an activist with an iron will who never stopped, he met her on several times and she always was that inner voice in him telling him to stop, basically everything he wasn’t.

They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.

After several years of internal struggle because of the role he was playing, crippling foreign economies as EHM, he eventually left his company. After a life of manipulating and abusing he knew he would never be able to let his past.

What the Press would say:

“Confessions of an Economic Hitman”, the new film by the Coen Bros. is their return to familiar yet new and exciting territory. It marks their back to form with a thrilling story about the role of multinational corporations in the world, but with a twist. It tells the story of an ambitious young man who’s work consists of lies and corruption.

The brothers have returned to their roots, both visually and literally. Their new film is reminiscent of some of his great movies like Fargo, The Big Lebowski and Barton Fink with a touch of Miller’s Crossing. Let me just say up front what a pleasure it is to watch a well-crafted film in which not a word or a gesture is wasted. This is intense, provocative filmmaking that shows the impeccable abilities of its authors, brilliantly paced and performed, it rotates its story through satire, comedy, drama and violence, it eventually emerges as one of the best films I've ever seen. It glimpses into the heart of man and unearths a blackly comic nature. If it weren't so funny, it would be unbearably disturbing. The Coens express their ability in being sharp, focused and fluid while creating exciting and magnificent characters that are so difficult to root for but so exhilarating to watch.

Performances are near-perfect. Chris Evans as the leading man plays the role of a lifetime; he’s able to portray so vividly a radical transformation from an idealistic man to cynical calculative villain who eventually finds salvation. He was destined to play this character, we get to see his initial cockiness but also a great deal of maturity in the way he creates the character and how it evolves with a great deal of undertones and layers that open the doors to a masterful tour de force performance. Clooney truly shines in his more unconventional role to date, as a figure of power he’s so manipulative and charming in a way only he’s able to accomplish. McDormand’s brief but shocking performance is exceptional, creating such a frightening presence and definitely gets some of the best lines of the movie. Irglova is able to explore more of her acting chops with this passionate and endearing character that becomes the voice of reason and the only character with a soul and heart. The rest of the cast is filled with wacky performances from some of the Coen’s usual suspects; Turturro is so funny as the crazy and narcissistic Torres, Goodman may fall to the stereotypical Texan but is so darn funny seeing him doing it and Buscemi as the Congressman and NRA spokesman is hilarious but frightening. However the best scene of the movie come from the encounter between Newman’s and Evans’ characters, the way they interact representing opposite points of view is really in another level, one of the most electrifying scenes in modern cinema.

An odd, intriguing, and entertaining film, the culmination of amazing techs, Deakins’ usual masterful cinematography, Newman’s engaging score and amazing performances really put the Coen Bros. at another level and reinstates their position as one of America’s finest filmmakers. To watch it is to experience steadily mounting delight, as you realize the filmmakers have taken enormous risks, gotten away with them and made a movie that is completely original, and as familiar as an old shoe. Funny without really trying to be and it proves conclusively that fact is stranger than fiction.

Best Picture
Best Director - Joel & Ethan Coen
Best Adapted Screenplay - Joel & Ethan Coen
Best Actor in a Leading Role - Chris Evans
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - George Clooney
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Paul Newman
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Frances McDormand
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Marketa Irglova
And in all categories


Author(s): James Somerton
Location: Canada


Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Gus Van Sant
Produced by Christine Vachon

Main Cast

Zac Efron as Sean Lockhart
Marc Wahlberg as Bryan Kocis
Felicity Huffman as Carol Lockhart
Mario Cimarro as Victor Deseo

Tagline: "Everything. On A Silver Platter. Now Look Closer"

Synopsis: Hi, I'm Sean. When I turned sixteen I decided to move to California to be with my mother, Carol. She kept saying how bad she missed me and I sort of felt guilty. I dont really know why though because she left me. Anyway, I moved there so I could get into film. What better way to break into the film industry than to live a half hour outside Hollywood, right? Yeah I thought so too. We're both wrong.

As it turns out, my mother wasn't exactly the maternal type. She wasn't a drug addict or an alcoholic or anything like that, mind you. Wouldn't that be nice and stereotypical? No, she was just a little... neglectful. At first she was so happy to have me around and then it all went away. Like the novelty of having a son wore off. I was only sixteen though so I needed some structure in my life, and living so close to the gay mecca of West Hollywood have me the chance. I was young and cute, all the older guys loved me. One, named Victor, basically took me in. I was at his house more than my own and my mother basically handed me over to him. But that was Ok. I was in love. He said he loved me too. He also loved the money I could make him.

He starts talking about me doing porn one day. He made it sound so glamorous. What did I know? I was just a kid. We got a fake ID made and he started sending pictures of me to porn producers. One, named Bryan Kocis, ran a small company called Cobra Video and I totally fit the bill for what he wanted. The only stipulation was that Victor be in the movie too. Victor was no beauty queen, but I guess I made up for it.

I shot five movies for Cobra Video. Three of them while I was still under the age of eighteen. Bryan eventually found out that I was underage but he didn't much care. We'd both keep quiet and everything would be Ok. I moved in with Bryan about a year after starting to work for him and thats when it all went to hell. Possessive and Abusive; I had to be his little play thing. We had a big falling out and I ended up back living with Carol. Then, suddenly, three of my movies were being pulled from the shelves and there were police at our door. My mother played dumb of course. I was eighteen and in big BIG trouble. Things couldn't have possibly gotten worse... Who knew?

The case against Bryan Kocis was still going two years later. Red tape had tied up the proceeding so many times that I had stopped caring. Then I got the news. Bryan was dead. Stabbed twenty-eight times. And I was a suspect.

What the Press would say:

Zac Efron steps out of the teen idol mold and into the shoes of Sean Lockhart; underage gay porn sensation. "COBRA" is the story of Lockhart's rise to fame in the adult world. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this film fallows Lockhart from the obscurity of a shy gay teen, to the horrible realizations of a maturing young man. Based on the actual events surrounding this young man's formative years, we are given a glimpse into the mind of a smart and clever boy who has just had a bad hand dealt him. No matter how smart he is, his yearning for love (of any kind) drives him to make the wrong decisions. The story is clear of the porno cliches of sexual abuse, drug addiction, and forced morality. And because of this we get to see a different side of what goes on. A side that is (mostly) innocent of any crime.

Efron's performance is a revelation in this film. Known for his more teen oriented rolls, he quickly finds himself in Sean Lockhart. Within the first twenty minutes I had forgotten I was watching Zac Efron. The first bit of the movie is almost entirely him and his narration. We quickly get to know Lockhart on a very personal level. Zac Efron's voice leads us through the first years of his life, eventually leading up to moving in with his mother in California. At this point, the narration becomes sparse and events begin to happen in real time. Everything leads up to the shocking murder of Bryan Kocis, played by Marc Wahlberg. Wahlberg gives an amazing performance as the often charming Kocis. We feel duped as an audience when Kocis, who is so likable at first, shows his true colors. His kind and comforting words turn to vicious jabs that leave Sean yearning for the days when he was alone with his indifferent mother. His mother, played to perfection by felicity Huffman, isn't the hateful mother you might expect in this kind of movie. She doesn't hate her son, she just doesn't care about him. He's more of a nuisance to her than anything else. Mentally she may be below Sean's maturity level, and this shows in one or two scenes. She returns after a long absence near the end of the movie and seems to have matured but the facade is quickly dropped when Sean is left alone on the steps of a courthouse. An extremely powerful image of this young man left on the steps of a great, and massive, building. A small boy in a big world, left to fend for himself.

The cast drives the film but Gus Van Sant's direction sets the mood perfectly. By allowing us to get to know almost all the characters, we're completely drawn into the world through Sean's eyes. There are no flaws in what he sees to be perfect until they are so obvious that they simply cannot be ignored any longer. Contrast is Van Sant's biggest tool in this film. California is almost idilic at first, with palm trees and a blue ocean. But soon enough we get to see the darker side of what goes on on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. The film grows progressively darker in tone until it seems Sean may be trapped forever by his own mistakes. And then, in a shockingly brutal scene, Bryan is murdered and the audience is left drained. The film quickly ends after that, with little resolution. We dont know who killed him, or why they did it because that is not what this particular story is about.

This is a story of youth's destruction. Being forced to grow up too soon and falling into the traps that this creates for young people. Promises of wealth and fame are not what Sean Lockhart was given. But promises of acceptance and love. In the end he is left with little more than himself. Although he has become famous in the porn world, Lockhart has not been accepted by it. He is left alone in the end to pick up the pieces on his own. To rebuild. That is the message of hope in this film. A hope in one's self. A sort of twisted hope that shows that you can't count on anyone but yourself and, in the end, maybe thats for the best.

Possible Nominations
Best Picture
Best Director - Gus Van Sant
Best Actor - Zac Efron
Best Supporting Actor - Marc Wahlberg
Best Supporting Actress - Felicity Huffman
Best Original Screenplay