Andrea Riseborough

review shadow dancer

Editor’s note: We’re re-running Scott’s review from last year’s Berlinale Film Festival as Shadow Dancer opens this weekend in limited theatrical release. The image of the bomb is an apt one for Shadow Dancer. As a hunk of parts with a timer, there’s nothing naturally threatening about a bomb; it’s the explosion that matters. Hitchcock was right, and in this IRA thriller from James Marsh, incendiary devices are all over the place. Some are literal, most are figurative, and Bomb Theory abounds. It opens with the shocking death of a young boy, surrounded by his family as blood pours from a bullet hole in his chest. It’s a direct insight into the fight the members of the IRA hold as sacrosanct and the guilt that the boy’s sister feels over sending him out into the streets on a simple errand. That sister, all grown up, is Collete McVeigh (achingly performed by Andrea Riseborough). After dropping off a suspicious bag in a tube station, she’s picked up by the authorities and taken to see Mac (Clive Owen) who dangles the promise of hard jail time in front of her until she turns reluctant informant for the MI5. The people she’s betraying forced her into a war, but they’re also her family.

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Oblivion

Oblivion is the kind of science fiction movie that plays with a lot of other movies’ toys and forgets to clean them up afterward. Then we all step on a HAL 9000 doll in the middle of the night when we’re going for that last piece of fried chicken in the fridge, and the bruise reminds us to yell rhetorically at the Tom Cruise-starring movie the next morning. How many times have we told it to pick up its things? The movie’s created some mixed responses, but it’s also left behind some huge questions. Plot holes, really, if we’re being honest. It’s messy for how hard it tries to be smart. Some of those questions are inconsequential, some slightly annoying and some vital to what could have been sci-fi success. On their own, they could have amounted to nitpicks, but the sheer number of them (and the severity of a few) made for a truly confused experience. Spoilers for Oblivion abound so beware, but if you’ve already seen or just plain don’t care, let’s dive in to the bizarre question marks looming high in the sky over Joseph Kosinski‘s latest film.

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review oblivion

Oblivion is many things. [pause for laughter from readers who've seen the film] It’s a thrilling mix of science fiction, action and discovery. It’s visually stunning and filled with beauties both CGI and natural. It’s a major step up from director Joseph Kosinski‘s debut film (Tron: Legacy). It’s a thinly-veiled commentary on drone warfare. It’s scored with occasional energy and life by M83. It’s a rare example of a film that almost demands to be seen on an IMAX screen. It’s the near epitome of style over substance. And it’s the most derivative sci-fi film since Avatar. Jack (Tom Cruise) is a repairman whose sole duty is keep defensive drones functioning. He and his teammate, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), are the last remaining humans on Earth after a devastating alien attack sent our species scrambling for new digs on Saturn’s moon, Titan. A handful of humans including Jack and Victoria’s commander sit aboard a space station orbiting above them, but when Jack’s curiosity regarding alien actions on the planet’s nuclear pock-marked surface causes friction he’s thrown into an unexpected adventure with far-reaching implications.

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Shadow Dancer

“The bomb is an excellent image for Shadow Dancer. On its own, it rests on a table not harming anyone. It takes time and a catalyst to kill, but it’s the ticking that will drive you mad.” That’s from my review of James Marsh‘s IRA film at last year’s Berlinale where it calmly played out in spite of its incredibly dangerous web of deceits. In it, Collete McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough) becomes an informant to MI5 in order to protect her son. She’s the daughter/sister/aunt of an Irish family at the core of the bomb-placing terrorist organization (and Collete doesn’t have clean hands herself). Mac (Clive Owen) is the lawman who recruits her, placing her into a fearful position of living with those she betrays. As you can tell, every strand of that web is actually a fuse. Now the film has a smoldering trailer. Enjoy the intensity for yourself:

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Oblivion Movie

Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion is a lot like a fireworks display on a Tuesday. It has no real reason to exist, and while the visuals are exciting, they only impress for fifteen minutes before things get faulty and repetitive. In other words, leave it to Kosinski to make fireworks boring. In the film itself, those fifteen minutes are scattered unevenly through a wasteland that feels much longer than its runtime. Around the third hour of the two-hour-long movie, Morgan Freeman‘s gruff survivalist character describes an outside threat as without a soul, without humanity, merely a beautiful machine. He might as well have been talking about this movie. Jack (Tom Cruise) is a handyman soldier stationed at a beautiful house that stands above the wreckage that used to be the planet. His job is to repair drones that have malfunctioned or been brought down violently by Scavengers — the enemy that destroyed the Moon, that doomed mankind to head for an interstellar refuge and that still lives in small numbers despite the utter devastation caused by earthquakes and floods. That war was sixty years ago, but Jack and his romantic colleague Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are doing a tour of earthbound duty  to ensure that a few giant, floating rigs are able to suck up the remaining sea water in order to harvest energy. However, Jack is plagued by dreams of a woman (Olga Kurylenko) standing atop the pre-war Empire State Building and can’t shake the feeling that he knows her. Eventually, that […]

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Welcome to the Punch Trailer

For a movie made for $8.5 million, Welcome to the Punch is strikingly polished. While that’s a prominent amount of cash, writer and director Eran Creevy makes every penny count. For the brisk 93-minute running time, Creevy makes his routine thriller fresh enough to turn the gruff cop “with something to prove” and cool-minded criminal “pulled back in the game” scenario play exceedingly smoothly. When we’re first introduced to James McAvoy’s Max Lewinsky, he’s in hot pursuit of Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) and his goons, all of whom are dressed as suavely as possible. Max ignores orders to wait for backup — because whoever waits for backup? — and ends up chasing Sternwood by foot while his team rides off underground on dirt bikes. Max catches up with Sternwood, and the encounter goes as good as it can for the unarmed Max: he ends up with a busted kneecap. From the score to the composition, it’s a fantastic opening that establishes everything we need to know, especially the sleek style of Creevy’s film and his two leads.

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Good luck untangling the twisted mess that is the family tree at the center of Tracy Letts‘ soon-to-be-adapted play, August: Osage County. Of course, that’s all part of the story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning production, but it makes confirming casting notices for John Wells‘ film version a real beast. Letts’ play centers on the Weston family, led by patriarch Beverly Weston and his sick, pill-popping wife Violet. Set during the month of August in the Weston’s hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, the play opens with a prologue that features Beverly as he attempts to hire a nurse for his, for lack of a better word, cracked out wife (to be played by Meryl Streep). While that introduction might make it seem as if it’s Violet who will soon wither, Act One hits us with the hard truth – Beverly has committed suicide, leaving Violet alone to deal with his death and the rest of their family. They are not a happy family. And they have much bigger issues to deal with than just one measly suicide. Most of the conflict of August: Osage County is between the various Weston women – especially between Violet and her eldest daughter, Barbara Fordham (Julia Roberts) – but there are two other Weston girls to cast, and it’s now been revealed that rising star Andrea Riseborough will be one of them.

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Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski’s upcoming sci-fi project Oblivion has grown in hype quite a bit since it was first announced. Mostly that’s due to the fact that Tom Cruise signed on to be its headliner, and whenever that happens a movie suddenly goes from being a project of the director to being a “Tom Cruise movie” in the hearts and minds of the public. But, spotlight-hogging by Cruise aside, Oblivion is a movie that’s been quietly developing into quite the little ensemble piece over the past few weeks. The film is about a man on a post-apocalyptic world who discovers a crash-landed space ship containing a mysterious woman. Cruise is playing the lead, of course, but Olga Kurlyenko has already signed on to play his wife back home, Andrea Riseborough has signed on to play the crash-landed woman, and according to Deadline Nashoba, not only has Morgan Freeman signed on for a critical role, but Game of Thrones’ Jamie Lannister, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, has also agreed to come on playing the role of Sykes, who is said to be a badass weapons expert. After seeing what he has to offer playing a smug warrior in Game of Thrones, this is a role that I’m confident Coster-Waldau can pull off.

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Madonna’s second directorial effort W.E. has been greeted by a torrent of negativity, with critics assailing her revisionist portrait of the illicit romance between King Edward VIII and the American divorcée Wallis Simpson to the tune of a 14% on the all-powerful Tomatometer. If it’s not quite the unholy mess that the reviews have promised, there’s no question that this is a sloppy, hubristic affair. It looks pretty, with style and eloquence to spare, but it’s perilously over-directed. Apparently the Material Girl never met a random cross-cut, outsized camera movement, or other unneeded flourish that she didn’t like. That penchant for pristine visuals at any cost is just part of what detracts from the terrific performance by Andrea Riseborough as Simpson, which could have provided the core of a great picture. The British actress has beauty and intelligence to spare, the sort of charismatic movie star screen presence that carries you through the slowest moments. You want to watch her. Unfortunately, Madonna only lets you do so for half of the movie’s rather trying two hours. The rest of the time, we’re stuck with an unnecessary 1998-set corollary to the 1930s-set main action. There, lonely American Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) obsesses over Wallis and Edward, spending all her time at a Sotheby’s auction of their estate.

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Collette McVeigh seems to be a fairly normal little girl, creating beaded necklaces and bribing her younger brother into running a quick errand for their father that she does not want to do herself. Unfortunately, this errand ends in tragedy, with her brother getting shot and killed. As her mother weeps over his body and her father fixes in on her with a look that could kill, Collette stands frozen, devastated. Shadow Dancer focuses on the life of a now grown-up Collette (Andrea Riseborough) who has a son of her own and is tied up in the “family business” (the IRA), rooted in taking down the English government which cost their brother his life.

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Talk about cinematic whiplash. Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinksi‘s next project has already gone through myriad incarnations, and the project doesn’t even have an official name yet. Count that as one of the incarnations, I guess, because it’s already had two names and is currently title-less, despite the fact that it’s an adaptation of a graphic novel that Kosinski himself has supposedly written that, you guessed it, has a title. Kosinksi conceived of and wrote the graphic novel, known as “Oblivion,” with Arvid Nelson for Radical Publishing, and the book was the primed for a film adaptation before it even hit the page. The story is set in a future where the Earth has been irradiated to the point that humanity can no longer inhabit it, and follows a man who lives “above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows.” Tom Cruise has long been attached to play Jak, but the film’s two female roles (Jak’s wife back at home and the lady he finds) have been the subject of speculation for months. Jessica Chastain was attached to the wife role back in September, but had to leave the project, thanks to her now-crammed schedule. Other ladies that tested for the role, including Olga Kurylenko, Brit Marling, Noomi Rapace, and Olivia Wilde, might have been called back, because […]

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