Tag Archives: Helen Mirren

Woman in Gold


California resident Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) hires young attorney Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to help her retrieve Gustav Klimt’s painting ”Woman in Gold” from Austria; a portrait of her aunt, the Nazis stole the painting from her family. A reality-based story about a significant battle over artwork that reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. This film tells two parallel stories – Altmann’s modern-day struggle and what happened to her and her family in Vienna after Anschluss. The movie itself isn’t a substantive work of art, but Mirren makes it easy to engage with Altmann.

2015-Britain-U.S. 109 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Simon Curtis. Cast: Helen Mirren (Maria Altmann), Ryan Reynolds (Randy Schoenberg), Daniel Brühl (Hubertus Czernin), Tatiana Maslany, Katie Holmes, Max Irons… Charles Dance, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Pryce, Frances Fisher.

Trivia: Andrew Garfield was reportedly first cast as Schoenberg, but dropped out. The story was also told in the documentary Stealing Klimt (2007).



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The Fate of the Furious


The old team is rounded up one more time for a top secret government mission, but they’re all seemingly betrayed by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) who’s working with a new dangerous foe (Charlize Theron)… The eighth chapter in the Fast and the Furious saga has a razor-thin story for a movie as bloated as this, but plenty of outlandish action to satisfy die-hard fans, including a silly, icy showdown in Russia involving a nuclear sub. Combines street racing with spy-movie trappings and a lot of comedy; unwieldy, but boosted by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. 

2017-U.S. 136 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by F. Gary Gray. Cast: Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto), Dwayne Johnson (Luke Hobbs), Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw), Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ”Ludacris” Bridges… Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Kristofer Hivju. Cameo: Helen Mirren.

Trivia: Alternative title: Fast & Furious 8.



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The Greatest Hits of 2017

It’s time for that annual list of next year’s highly anticipated Hollywood films. Here’s 2017 for ya. As always, premiere dates may change.


* The Comedian – Robert De Niro gets a chance to redeem himself after appearing in far too many bad comedies. Directed by Taylor Hackford; Danny DeVito has a supporting part.

* Split – … and this is M. Night Shyamalan’s chance to redeem himself after far too many convoluted, bad horror movies. This one has James McAvoy as a kidnapper with 24 personalities.

* The Founder – Early reviews of this drama following the early days of McDonald’s say the movie may not be a masterpiece, but Michael Keaton is aces in the lead.


* The Lego Batman Movie – Will this spin-off to The Lego Movie (2014) be as surprisingly enjoyable as the original? 

* Fifty Shades Darker – Will this sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) challenge its audience more than the original did? The trailer doesn’t look too promising. 

* John Wick: Chapter 2 – Keanu Reeves returns for more action. February really is a month for B-movie sequels.

* A Cure for Wellness – Gore Verbinski delivers a horror thriller, his first since The Ring (2002), and it is set in the Swiss Alps. 

* Tulip Fever – Alicia Vikander stars in this drama set during the tulip craze in The Netherlands in the 1600s. Also has Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis and Cara Delevingne in the cast. Directed by Justin Chadwick, who made The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) look so good.


* Logan – The world seemed a bit tired of all the X-Men movies, but then came the trailer above for James Mangold’s next Wolverine movie, and now we’re all excited again. 

* T2 Trainspotting – Danny Boyle’s long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting (1996) reunites the old cast. Opens January 27 in Britain. 

* Kong: Skull Island – The big ape is discovered during a military mission to Skull Island. The first two trailers look great. Stars Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston. 

* Beauty and the Beast – The live-action version of the 1991 animated classic. Guaranteed to be a box-office hit judging from the online interest in the trailers. Stars Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor and Dan Stevens.

* King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Guy Ritchie’s version of the oft-filmed legend. The trailer makes it look brutal. Charlie Hunnam plays Arthur.

* Ghost in the Shell – This manga adaptation has Scarlett Johansson in the lead as “The Major”. 


* Going in Style – The trailer promises no fireworks, but I’m sure it’ll be a pleasure to watch Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Michael Caine and Ann-Margret at work. 

* The Fate of the Furious – The eighth film in the franchise adds Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron to the cast. The trailer is quite explosive. 

* The Lost City of Z – Tom Holland and Charlie Hunnam star in James Gray’s film about a real-life explorer who disappeared while searching for a city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

* The Circle – A thriller about a big tech company, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.


* Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – This sequel comes with a fun trailer that promises more of the laughs and thrills that made the original a hit.

* Snatched – Goldie Hawn returns to the big screen after a 14-year absence, playing Amy Schumer’s mother in a raunchy comedy. 

* Alien: Covenant – Ridley Scott returns with this sequel to Prometheus, a film that (judging from the trailer) seems firmly grounded in the Alien universe.

* Annabelle 2 – A sequel that hopefully will improve on the lackluster first filmLights Out director David F. Sandberg has his work cut out for him. 

* Baywatch – The film adaptation of the cheesy 1990s TV show aims for babes, laughs and a few thrills. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron are in the leads.

* Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge – The fifth chapter in this franchise. Javier Bardem joins the usual gang. 


* Wonder Woman – The DC films have largely been disappointments so far after Man of Steel (2013)… but this one could change that. The trailers have us all excited. 

* The Mummy – Universal aims to create a monster universe the way Marvel and DC have created cinematic universes out of their superheroes. This one looks exciting, with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe in the leads… but I was hoping for scary.

* Cars 3 – Pixar’s least interesting franchise is beloved by children; this chapter promises to be a little darker in tone. 

* Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Colin Firth returns as a dapper agent in this sequel, and he’s joined by several other big stars. Will bigger equal better?

* Transformers: The Last Knight – The fifth movie in this franchise, and Michael Bay shows no sign of wanting to change it for the better. Audiences will show up anyway.

* The Beguiled – Sofia Coppola directs this Western, which is set during the Civil War and has Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman in the cast.


* Spider-Man: Homecoming – Tom Holland introduced his Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and here comes a stand-alone movie that looks like a lot of fun. 

* War of the Planet of the Apes – The third film in this series pits Caesar against an aggressive colonel played by Woody Harrelson. The trailer is no disappointment. 

* Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan delivers a historic epic depicting the famed WWII evacuation of Allied soldiers. As expected, it looks amazing. One of the summer’s few major blockbusters to be grounded in real-life events.

* The Dark Tower – An adaptation of Stephen King’s novel that combines Western with sci-fi. Stars Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba.


* The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, about a bodyguard who has to deliver a client to the Hague so he can testify against a dictator. 

* Villa Capri – Another action-comedy starring an unlikely duo, this time Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones in a story that looks very much like Midnight Run (1988).


* It – Stephen King’s novel was turned into a miniseries in 1990, but here comes the film adaptation. Bill Skarsgård plays the terrifying clown Pennywise.

* American Made – Doug Liman joins forces with Tom Cruise for a thriller about a pilot who becomes a drug smuggler. Based on a real-life story.

* Flatliners – A remake of the 1990 movie, which starred Kiefer Sutherland. He’ll make an appearance here as well. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).


* Blade Runner 2049 – The highly anticipated sequel has Denis Villeneuve directing. Harrison Ford returns as Rick Deckard. 

* The Snowman – Tomas Alfredson is directing this adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s bestseller, with Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson in the leads. 

The month also has fresh sequels in the InsidiousFriday the 13th and Saw franchises. If there’s anyone out there who still has confidence in them. 


* Thor: Ragnarok – The third film in the series stars Thor and the Hulk, you know, the guys who were too busy to make an appearance in Captain America: Civil War… Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) will also show up.

* Justice League – The DC universe’s answer to The Avengers, uniting its big heroes. Zack Snyder has a lot to live up to.

* Murder on the Orient Express – Kenneth Branagh’s all-star remake of the 1974 classic will feature himself as Poirot.

* The Darkest Hour – The story of Winston Churchill’s early days in World War II. Gary Oldman plays the Prime Minister, Joe Wright is directing. 


* Star Wars: Episode VIII – Rian Johnson is directing this film, which will likely devote some time to give Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) a dignified farewell. 

* Jumanji – A remake of the 1995 movie, starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black. 

* Downsizing – Alexander Payne directs this drama-comedy, starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig. 

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

hundredfootjourneyAfter arriving in France, an Indian family start a restaurant across the street from a posh eatery run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) – who doesn’t appreciate the competition. Lasse Hallström returns to the same kind of pleasantries that made his Chocolat (2000) enjoyable – romance, a few laughs, lovely locations and tasty treats. Every conflict here, between cultures and generations, are predictable. But the scenery looks as appetizing as the cast, conveying a sense of fairy tale rather than realism; Mirren and Om Puri are terrific as the bullheaded competitors, but Manish Dayal is also good as the young chef-in-waiting.

2014-U.S. 122 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Juliet Blake. Directed by Lasse Hallström. Novel: Richard C. Morais. Cinematography: Linus Sandgren. Cast: Helen Mirren (Madame Mallory), Om Puri (Papa Kadam), Manish Dayal (Hassan Kadam), Charlotte Le Bon, Amith Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe.

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Eye in the Sky


eyeintheskyAs a group of terrorists are clearly preparing for a suicide bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, a multinational group of military officers, politicians and lawyers argue over whether to send a drone-guided missile their way. After breaking through with Tsotsi (2005), director Gavin Hood had trouble finding his place in Hollywood, but this British thriller is a step forward. Its concept raises familiar questions regarding the moral and practical difficulties of waging war from behind a desk, through drones. Almost built like a play, the film is well-acted and moves skilfully between its settings, building terrific tension while we in the audience ponder challenging arguments.

2016-Britain. 102 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Ged Doherty, Colin Firth, David Lancaster. Directed by Gavin Hood. Screenplay: Guy Hibbert. Cast: Helen Mirren (Katherine Powell), Aaron Paul (Steve Watts), Alan Rickman (Frank Benson), Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen.

Trivia: Rickman’s final live-action film. Oliver Hirschbiegel and Tarsem Singh were allegedly considered for directing duties.

Last word: “Alan has the ability to play just absolute emotional truth and yet with real humor and never taking it to the slapstick level. We talked about that. It’s very awkward for me in a sense, that this is his last film, because I wish he were here to talk to you about the film. He was a highly intelligent man, an extremely kind man, and he had a lot to say on this subject.” (Hood, Huffington Post)

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A First Goodbye to Obama

It was pure joy watching President Barack Obama do his eighth and final standup performance at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner last night. He’s evolved, for sure, become more secure in his joke-telling. In fact, this time he got better reviews than the comedian hosting the dinner, Larry Wilmore, who hasn’t exactly been a hit as Stephen Colbert’s replacement on Comedy Central.

Obama’s jokes hit everything and everybody – from his own staff to the media and various celebrities (except Helen Mirren, whom the President just felt like giving a tribute). Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders also got a few zingers. But Obama saved his best and cruelest jokes for the Despicable Duo – Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. He took great joy in making fun of the hopeless situation the GOP finds itself in this year:

“Just look at the confusion over the invitations to tonight’s dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish? But instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan. That’s not an option, people.”

Obama even included a little film of what life might look like after the White House years that featured a surprise cameo by former Speaker John Boehner. Very amusing; is there a new sitcom coming up? And there was a shoutout to the Boston Globe team whose work was portrayed in the Oscar-winning Spotlight; they were invited to the dinner as well. 

Republicans may be an easy target this year, but neither Clinton nor Sanders are particularly inspiring candidates compared to the current president. There will be more opportunities later this year to mourn the fact that his administration is soon over, but this is a first step. Watching him say “Obama out” and drop the mic was intended to be funny – but I found it more moving. 

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Hollywood Stars in Super Bowl Ads 2016

This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was truly star-studded. We had the expected amount of new trailers (where most movies seemed to focus on the end of the world as we know it), but let’s take a look at what brands Hollywood stars supported.

The following line-up of ads is courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

Amy Schumer, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd – This is an election year, so here we have Schumer and Rogen passionately campaigning for the Bud Light Party. The way the election looks this year, this could be an actual political party…

Willem Dafoe, Eugene Levy – Snickers has made a few very funny and eye-catching ads with celebrities, and this one is no exception. Prepare to meet the always intense Willem Dafoe as Marilyn Monroe. Seamless special effects.

Alec Baldwin, Jason Schwartzman – This ad for the voice command gizmo Amazon Echo pits Baldwin against Dan Marino, and also finds time to plug a new song by Missy Elliott.

Liam Neeson, Ridley Scott – Ridley Scott produced this slick ad for a new LG TV set, done like a ludicrous thriller. Not really a new “1984” (the landmark ad Scott did for Apple), but still cool – and Neeson co-stars with his son Micheal. Directed by Scott’s son Jake.

Ryan Reynolds – Can’t get enough of Ryan Reynolds? Welcome to Ryanville, the place where everybody is Ryan Reynolds. A silly, pretty farfetched Hyundai ad.

Kevin Hart, Peter Berg – Another ad for Hyundai, this one has Kevin Hart as an overprotective dad taking advantage of a “car finder” feature. Directed by Peter Berg.

Helen Mirren – Budweiser is a frequent feature of the Super Bowl ads. Here we have Dame Helen Mirren letting drunk drivers have it.. because she’s British and stern, I guess?

Harvey Keitel – This ad for BMW’s Mini fights against labels like “chick car”, employing sports icons Tony Hawk and Serena Williams. But there’s also Harvey Keitel near the end.

Jeff Goldblum – The star appeared not only in the new Independence Day: Resurgence spot, but in this ad for Apartments.com. Amusing, and he can take a lot of credit for it.

Christopher Walken – Another car ad, this time for Kia. Has nothing to do with the car really, but the ad does introduce the concept of a “Walken closet”, and I would love one of those, please.

Cars and beer. The Super Bowl ads are indeed familiar in a very dad-centric way. No real standout this year, though. 

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Alan Rickman 1946–2016

In the clip above from 2012, Alan Rickman talks about his experiences from playing Snape in the Harry Potter movies, a role that introduced this fabulous actor to a whole generation of young Potter fans, winning numerous new admirers. Shockingly, he has now passed away a few weeks shy of his 70th birthday.

For me, who’s a bit older, Rickman will always be Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988), the villainous role that made him famous (and eventually led to Snape). Just watch Rickman’s elegance, the way he delivers his lines. There’s a chill and method to his work as an actor. He was often cast as a villain, but there was a sense of humor about it evident already in his performance as Gruber. He was wicked but downright hilarious in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).

Born in London, Alan Rickman chose between acting and graphic design but ultimately went for the former. He built a career as an accomplished Shakespearian actor, earning a Tony nomination before starring in Die Hard. Over the years, he broke out of being typecast and showed different sides of himself, as the unfaithful husband in Love Actually (2003) and the sophisticated sommelier in Bottle Shock (2008). He even got to sing in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007). His sense of humor was always present; he was very funny in the sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest (1999).

I also remember listening to Mike Oldfield’s album “Tubular Bells II” in 1992 with one of my best friends, and thinking the voice on one of the tracks is very familiar… That was Rickman, introducing various instruments on “The Bell”.

And of course, Alan Rickman will also be remembered for this amazing video of him having a cup of tea in extreme slow-motion. Created by the artist David Michalek, the video was a must-see clip back in 2012.

Apart from that Tony nomination, Rickman won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for the TV movie Rasputin (1996), and a BAFTA for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

We still haven’t heard the last of Alan Rickman. Two films will be released later this year. He’ll voice the Blue Caterpillar in Alice Through the Looking Glass, and play opposite Helen Mirren in the thriller Eye in the Sky.

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Monsters University


monstersuniversityThis prequel to Monsters, Inc. (2001) takes us back to school; the story has our two monstrous heroes meeting for the first time as students attending Monsters University. They take an instant disliking to each other, but are forced to work together as a team when they’re close to getting kicked out of school. A pretty slim excuse for a follow-up to the first film, but very appealing for kids and amusing as a satire of college life. Introduces a few new characters (including a strict dean voiced by Helen Mirren) and Billy Crystal and John Goodman seem comfortable in their comeback efforts.

2013-U.S. Animated. 103 min. Color. Directed by Dan Scanlon. Voices of Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski), John Goodman (James P. Sullivan), Steve Buscemi (Randall “Randy” Boggs), Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray… Sean Hayes, Alfred Molina, Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Bill Hader.

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The Greatest Hits of 2014

It’s time for that annual list of this year’s highly anticipated Hollywood films. Here’s 2014 for ya.


* Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – This reboot of Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst cum action hero has Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh (who’s also directing), but the trailer disturbingly shows another variation on the Jason Bourne concept.

* Labor Day – Jason Reitman returns, aided by Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. Unfortunately, what looked like a promising drama has now been dumped in the frigid January slot.


* The Monuments Men – George Clooney directs this story about museum curators and art historians trying to rescue vital pieces of art before Hitler gets his hands on them. Starring Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Daniel Craig. Originally slated for a late 2013 release.

* RoboCop – The remake has Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman. One vital question remains: What’s the point?

Also interesting to note this month: Kevin Costner and Liam Neeson will clash in 3 Days to Kill and Non-Stop, two action thrillers that look pretty similar in style and tone. One likely hit will be Son of God, a movie based on material from The Bible as well as previously unseen footage.


* The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson’s new movie has a star-studded cast and an intriguing story set between the world wars.

* Grace of Monaco – Another movie originally slated for a late 2013 release, this one is hopefully better than Diana. Nicole Kidman plays the princess.

* Muppets Most Wanted – The Muppets return for a jewel-heist caper. Lots of star cameos, as expected.

* Noah – One can’t help but being intrigued by a Darren Aronofsky movie about the biblical hero. Stars Russell Crowe, and the trailer has Gladiator-esque qualities.


* Captain America: The Winter Soldier – A summer of big blockbusters begins with this Marvel sequel.


Sabotage – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to movies has been largely tongue in cheek, but the trailer for this film, directed by David Ayer of End of Watch fame, suggests a different approach.

* Transcendence – Johnny Depp stars in this sci-fi flick about a scientist who downloads his mind into a computer. Directing debut of cinematographer and Christopher Nolan loyalist Wally Pfister.


* The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – The sequel looks like it might have the same problems as the first one. On the other hand, the first one was surprisingly good.

* Godzilla – Looks like a tired retread on paper, but director Gareth Edwards and the cast might make a difference. The trailer has the right look.

* X-Men: Days of Future Past – Bryan Singer tries to unite two franchise threads. Let’s hope it’s better than Star Trek Generations (1994).


* Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise fighting aliens. Again. Directed by Doug Liman.

* How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Could become the animated hit of the summer. DreamWorks will be anxious to make sure that the sequel matches the wonderful original.

* Transformers: Age of Extinction – The last time I made the mistake of giving Michael Bay the benefit of a doubt. This time I’m sure Mark Wahlberg will be lost in a flurry of incomprehensible battles.


* Tammy – Melissa McCarthy puts her stardom to the ultimate test, being directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, in a summer blockbuster comedy that has Susan Sarandon playing her alcoholic grandmother.

* Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – The sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) has Gary Oldman (but Andy Serkis is still the star). Directed by Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame.

* Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowski Siblings return after Cloud Atlas (2012) with another sci-fi movie, this one starring Mila Kunis.


* Guardians of the Galaxy – Marvel strikes back with another adventure, this one starring among others Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

* Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s follow-up to their 2005 movie. Postponed for a year after its original 2013 release date. Hardly promising.

* The Expendables 3 – I’ll mention this simply because Mel Gibson plays the villain and the cast also has Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer. I guess it has to be seen to be believed.

As a Swede, I have to highlight two world-famous fellow Swedes this month: Lasse Hallström is set to release The Hundred-Foot Journey, a film about an Indian family competing with a Michelin-starred restaurant in France, starring Helen Mirren, and Alexander Skarsgård who’s starring alongside Meryl Streep in Phillip Noyce’s sic-fi drama The Giver.


* The Equalizer – Another TV show gets a movie adaptation, this one directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington.


* Gone Girl – David Fincher adapted the bestseller, with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris set to put the screen ablaze.

* Get On Up – James Brown is the latest music star to get a proper screen biography. Directed by Tate Taylor (of The Help) and starring Chadwick Boseman.


* Interstellar – Christopher Nolan returns with one of the year’s most highly anticipated sci-fi films. Starring Matthew McConaughey, who’s clearly continuing his current brilliant streak.

* Dumb and Dumber To – Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return after 20 years. Are they getting any smarter?

* Fury – Another film by David Ayer this year (after Sabotage), a war movie set near the end of World War II. Stars Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf.

* The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Francis Lawrence directs this complex endeavor, where author Suzanne Collins’s book has been chopped into two chapters.


* Exodus – Ridley Scott mounts a comeback after the creative abyss known as The Counselor. This biblical epic, starring Christian Bale, looks more like Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

* The Hobbit: There and Back Again – The third and final chapter in Peter Jackson’s insanely protracted franchise

* Annie – Another movie adaptation of the Broadway hit, this time featuring Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis.

* Into the Woods – The Brothers Grimm fairy tales are presented with a twist in this film, directed by Rob Marshall, and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp.

* Unbroken – Angelina Jolie is set to direct this World War II story, which is based on a best-selling book and adapted by the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.

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The Debt


thedebtIn 1997, a few aging former Mossad agents are still revered by their countrymen for killing a WWII war criminal in the 1960s, but they share a less flattering secret… A remake of the 2007 Israeli movie Ha-Hov that hasn’t changed much of the original story. We follow the three Mossad agents both in 1997 and back in 1965 during their mission to East Germany where the old Nazi is living under a new identity. Offers a lot of tension and doesn’t fall victim to its depressing themes of guilt. Good performances by Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain, and Jesper Christensen as “the surgeon of Birkenau”.

2011-U.S.-Britain. 113 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by John Madden. Cast: Helen Mirren (Rachel Singer), Sam Worthington (David Peretz), Jessica Chastain (Rachel Singer, in 1965), Jesper Christensen, Marton Csokas, Ciarán Hinds… Tom Wilkinson.

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Michael Chiklis & Mark Strong Are Now 50

Today we say happy birthday to two actors who turn 50 years old. Both of them are tough guys onscreen.

Michael Chiklis was first known as The Commish in the early 1990s, a friendly role that won him an audience but hardly much attention. That’s ironic, because when we saw him later on The Shield as the opposite, a murderously corrupt cop, it may have been a shock at first but we already knew that Chiklis was a talented actor. And he certainly pulled it off. Comic book fans may know him best as The Thing in two Fantastic Four movies, but TV has been his most successful venue, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for The Shield. Lately, he’s struggled a bit as his two latest TV shows, No Ordinary Family and Vegas, have been canceled in spite of their intriguing premises. That’s the thing, those shows may not have been top-notch but Chiklis does not feel like he’s going through the motions. He’s a hard-working actor, and I hope he finds new worthy projects in the future.

The clip above shows him performing with his band and the Boston Pops, performing a song called “Till I Come Home” on July 4th, dedicated to the troops overseas.

One thing Mark Strong has in common with Michael Chiklis is that they often appear with shaved heads. The British actor has also appeared in bands in his youth, but eventually chose acting. British audiences got to know him on Prime Suspect opposite Helen Mirren and several other TV shows; from 2006 to 2012, he also narrated Who Do You Think You Are?. American audiences began to notice him in movies like Syriana (2005), Sunshine (2007) and RocknRolla (2008). Last fall he appeared in Zero Dark Thirty. Strong’s swarthy looks apparently makes him perfect for various villainous parts, but he always brings depth and intensity to those performances. His next most intriguing project is Mindscape, set to be released either later this year or early next year, where Strong plays a detective who’s able to enter people’s memories.

In the clip above, Strong appears on a BBC radio show where he discusses the controversies of Zero Dark Thirty.

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Red 2


red2Just as he’s settling down with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) once again finds himself in danger; soon, they’re both joining old friends in the search for a mysterious Cold War-era weapon. This sequel to Red (2010) pales a bit in comparison and begins to resemble an Expendables movie, partly because of the hard-shooting, hard-fighting cast of old pros, and partly because of the strained sense of humor. A silly story is padded out to almost two hours, but bits and pieces are certainly lively enough.

2013-U.S. 116 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Dean Parisot. Cast: Bruce Willis (Frank Moses), John Malkovich (Marvin Boggs), Mary-Louise Parker (Sarah Ross), Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee… Catherine Zeta-Jones, David Thewlis, Brian Cox, Steven Berkoff.

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