TIFF 2013: HOW I LIVE NOW Review

by     Posted 1 year, 96 days ago


In Kevin Macdonald’s How I Live Now, perspective on life is supposed to be shown between two extremes.  Life is either ideal or a waking nightmare, and through this comparison we can learn to put our priorities and values in order.  But painting the world in white and black makes the movie uninteresting from both sides.  Furthermore, the good times and end times are about as complex as home realty: location, location, location.  There’s no room for the grey area, which is where most of us live in the real world.

THE HOST Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 113 days ago


Whether you’re part of the Twilight craze or not, it’s difficult to escape the world-wide phenomenon and not take notice of the names that brought the series to life.  Such is the case of writer Stephenie Meyer, who after skyrocketing to fame due to the immense popularity of the series, is still very much a household name even when her projects don’t include bloodsuckers and naive 17-year-old girls.  It’s not a stretch to assume that her previous repertoire was the basis for bringing her 2008 sci-fi novel The Host to the big screen earlier this year.  Unlike her previous work, The Host is a mixture of science fiction and romance that essentially explores the idea of two separate identities in one body.  While the narrative portrayal had its flaws, the subject-matter made the story gripping and entertaining.  Hit the jump for my review of The Host on Blu-ray.

First Trailer for Kevin Macdonald’s HOW I LIVE NOW Starring Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, and Tom Holland

by     Posted 1 year, 130 days ago


The first trailer for director Kevin Macdonald’s (The Last King of Scotland) new film How I Live Now has landed online.  Based on the Meg Rosoff novel of the same name, the film takes place in the near future and stars Saoirse Ronan as Daisy, a teenage girl from New York City who travels to England in order to spend the summer with relatives.  She strikes up a romance with another handsome young man (George MacKay), but when World War III suddenly breaks out, Daisy’s small group finds itself struggling to survive in a world full of chaos.  It’s a truly fascinating setup, and Macdonald looks to have found a refreshingly grounded way to tell the story.  This sort of realistic sci-fi is far too rare, and I’m very much looking forward to catching the full film.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer.  The film also stars Tom Holland and Anna ChancellorHow I Live Now opens in the UK on October 3rd, but doesn’t yet have a US release date.


by     Posted 1 year, 172 days ago


[This is a re-post of my review from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.  Byzantium opens today in limited release.]

The possibilities of the vampire story have become increasingly limited. The story has been around for so long, and has been done so many ways, especially of late, that it’s difficult for a storyteller to come in and find a new spin within the predefined parameters of what we all agree is a “vampire”: a bloodsucking immortal. In his new film Byzantium, director Neil Jordan has seized upon the “immortal” part and how a vampire would always be, in a sense, frozen in the past and unable to move forward. Consequently, Byzantium has trouble gaining any momentum. As its protagonist moans about telling a story hundreds of times but never finding anyone to listen, the film struggles to find a rhythm and gets bogged down in some cringeworthy dialogue. But the most frustrating aspect of Byzantium is how it fails to pursue a thoughtful, gender-related idea that holds far more potential than another exploration of how vampires are accursed creatures sentenced to wander the earth alone forever and ever anon.


by     Posted 1 year, 193 days ago


[This is a slightly modified re-post of my review from the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.  Violet & Daisy opens today in limited release.]

The concept of an adorable female assassin is nothing new. I’m pretty sure that at least half of all anime is based on this premise. The appeal is that you juxtapose wide-eyed innocence and blood-drenched experience. However, it’s an idea that’s been done to near-death (see: anime, +50%) and I was curious to see how Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious) would handle adorable-assassins in his directorial debut, Violet & Daisy. Fletcher has delivered a script was tons of potential for a fun action-comedy that doesn’t blow the genre apart, but manages to do a solid job of staying playful and upbeat with the talented Saoirse Ronan and James Gandolfini selling the dramatic aspects of the story. Unfortunately, Fletcher is constantly hamstrung by his lack of experience, budgetary constraints, and Alexis Bledel‘s lackluster performance.

New Domestic Trailer and Poster for BYZANTIUM Starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton

by     Posted 1 year, 210 days ago


A new domestic trailer and poster for director Neil Jordan’s vampire drama Byzantium have been released online.  The film stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as a mother/daughter vampire duo who arrive in a small British town where their secret doesn’t stay kept for long.  We’ve already seen a couple of international trailers for the pic, but this one does a nice job of teasing the kind of moody, dramatic vampire story that Jordan has crafted, not unlike his previous film Interview with the Vampire.  We see a lot of Ronan’s character mulling over her immortality, and in a bit of a twist it appears that women are forbidden from being turned into vampires.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer and to see the new poster, and click here to read Matt’s review of the film from TIFF.  The film also stars Sam RileyCaleb Landry Jones, and Jonny Lee Miller.  Byzantium opens on June 28th.

Joss Whedon Confirms Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch for THE AVENGERS 2; Talks about Iron Man’s Return

by     Posted 1 year, 214 days ago


The twin brother-sister superheroes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have been likely contenders to join The Avengers 2 since April when Joss Whedon teased, “I’ve got these two characters, two of my favorite characters from the comic book, a brother-sister act. They’re in the movie.”  Kevin Feige followed that even though the characters fall into a legal grey area (The characters are mutants, Magneto is their father, and Fox could have possession since they own X-Men), they would be available.  Today, Whedon has confirmed that the characters will be in The Avengers 2.

Hit the jump for more including what Whedon had to say about bringing Iron Man into The Avengers 2.

New Trailer for VIOLET & DAISY Starring Saiorse Ronan and Alexis Bledel

by     Posted 1 year, 231 days ago


A new trailer for Academy Award-winning writer Geoffrey Fletcher’s (Precious) first directing venture Violet & Daisy has been released.  The film centers on two young female assassins, played by Saiorse Ronan (Atonement) and Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), who set out for what they think will be a quick and easy hit, but turns into something much more complicated when their target throws a wrench in the works.  The marketing and posters for the film thus far have seemed to be going for that pulpy and modern pop take on young women in today’s society, like Spring Breakers, but the trailer gives off a tone that seems a bit muddled.  It has elements of quirky comedy and a more serious and dire consequences drama, but not a clear vision that can be derived just from the trailer.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer, and click here to read Matt’s review from TIFF 2011.  The film also stars James Gandolfini, Danny Trejo, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and Cody HornViolet & Daisy will be released on June 7th.

New International Trailer for BYZANTIUM Starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan

by     Posted 1 year, 245 days ago


A new international trailer for Interview with the Vampire director Neil Jordan’s upcoming vampire drama Byzantium has been released online.  The film stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as a mother/daughter vampire duo who arrive in a small British town where their secret doesn’t stay kept for long.  This latest trailer certainly highlights the film’s impressively stylish visuals, while also showcasing the intensity of the story.  Matt caught the film at TIFF last year and expressed his disappointment with the finished product in his review, and I’m interested to see how Jordan sets this pic apart from Interview with the Vampire, which also explores the notion of cursed immortality.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer.  The film also stars Sam Riley, Caleb Landry Jones, and Jonny Lee MillerByzantium opens on June 28th.


by     Posted 1 year, 263 days ago


Writer/director Andrew Niccol’s The Host opens this holiday weekend with star Saoirse Ronan (Hanna).  Adapted from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s sci-fi novel of the same name, The Host centers on Melanie Stryder (Ronan), one of the last human survivors of an alien invasion.  Unfortunately for Melanie, she’s quickly captured and implanted with an alien parasite known as a Soul, which attempts to replace her consciousness and take over her body; Melanie isn’t having it. The two entities must learn to cooperate or face the loss of the loved ones they each hold dear.

While Niccol makes his best attempt at adapting this story, the fault lies with the source material.  The tension that manifests in the first two acts rapidly diminishes in a lackluster conclusion that, while certainly an original take on conflict resolution, ultimately falls flat on screen.  Hit the jump for my review of The Host.

Saoirse Ronan Talks THE HOST, Working with Writer/Director Andrew Niccol, Plus BREAKING BAD, HOW I LIVE NOW and Ryan Gosling’s Directorial Debut

by     Posted 1 year, 264 days ago


Writer/director Andrew Niccol’s adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host opens this weekend.  The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder, one of the last remaining humans on Earth after a race of parasitic aliens have taken over most of the world.  Melanie is unique in that she forms a bond with her parasite and sets out to free other humans, if they’ll accept her as one of them.  The film also stars Max Irons, Jake AbelDiane KrugerWilliam Hurt, Frances Fisher and Boyd Holbrook.  For more on the film, here’s 5 clips, the trailer, and a featurette.

At the recent Los Angeles press day, I landed an extended interview with Ronan.  We talked about making The Host, how she got involved in the project, what it was like to work for Niccol, what’s special about all the great directors she’s worked with, Kevin MacDonald‘s How I Live Now, Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut How to Catch a Monster, and her love of Breaking Bad.  Hit the jump to either read or watch the interview.

Saoirse Ronan Talks THE HOST, How She Compares to Her Character, Making Each of Her Roles Distinctive, Wes Anderson’s THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL & More

by     Posted 1 year, 267 days ago


Opening this weekend is writer/director Andrew Niccol’s adaptation of The Host, a sci-fi novel from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer.  The Host centers on Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), a human girl who attempts to escape alien invaders but is captured and implanted with a parasite known as a Soul.  As Melanie’s consciousness fights against the Soul for possession of her own body, the two must work together in order to protect their loved ones in either species.

During a recent interview session, we sat down with Ronan to talk about The Host, how she compared to her character in real life, how she made her role as Melanie distinct from that of the Soul named Wanderer, co-starring with Max Irons and Jake Abel, receiving input from Meyer and signing on for possible future films.  Ronan also commented on her work in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which she recently wrapped on, and looking forward to Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut of How to Catch a Monster, which should begin filming within the month.  Hit the jump to watch the interview.

New Trailer for Andrew Niccol’s THE HOST, Starring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, and Jake Abel

by     Posted 1 year, 272 days ago


Open Road Pictures has released a new trailer for writer/director Andrew Niccol’s (Gattaca) sci-fi film The Host.  Based on the novel of the same name by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, the film stars Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder, one of the last remaining humans on Earth after a race of parasitic aliens has taken over most of the world.  Melanie attempts to fight back against her parasite and sets out to free other humans, if they’ll accept her as one of them.  This trailer teases a bit more of the film’s love triangle and Niccol’s characteristically clean-looking sci-fi world.  Knowing very little about how the story plays out, I’m interested to see if the film marks a step up in maturity from Meyer’s Twilight franchise or if it skews closer towards the YA demographic.  Having Niccol onboard as the director is definitely a good sign.

Hit the jump to watch the new trailer, and click here to check out five clips from the pic.  The film also stars Max Irons, Jake AbelDiane KrugerWilliam Hurt, Frances Fisher and Boyd HolbrookThe Host opens on March 29th.

5 Clips from Andrew Niccol’s THE HOST Starring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Jake Abel

by     Posted 1 year, 274 days ago


With writer/director Andrew Niccol’s adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host opening March 29th, we’ve been provided with 5 clips.  The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder, one of the last remaining humans on Earth after a race of parasitic aliens have taken over most of the world.  Melanie is unique in that she forms a bond with her parasite and sets out to free other humans, if they’ll accept her as one of them.  The film also stars Max Irons, Jake AbelDiane KrugerWilliam Hurt, Frances Fisher and Boyd Holbrook.  Hit the jump to watch the clips.

First Clip from Stephenie Meyer’s THE HOST with Saoirse Ronan and Max Irons

by     Posted 1 year, 278 days ago


The first clip from writer/director Andrew Niccol’s The Host featuring stars Saoirse Ronan and Max Irons has been released online.  The Host was author Stephenie Meyer’s 2008 follow-up to her hit Twilight franchise, and details the story of an alien race called Souls that take over the inhabitants of Earth.  At the center of the story is Ronan’s character Melanie, who fights back against the Soul, called Wanderer, that takes over her body.  While not as hotly anticipated as the Twilight adaptations were, The Host bolsters an impressive cast including Ronan, Irons, Diane Kruger, Jake Abel, William Hurt, Frances Fisher, and Boyd Holbrook. Hit the jump to see the clip.

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