Story: In the winter of 1934, world famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) must find out who murdered Samuel Ratchett, a vile and crooked American gangster turned art dealer played by Johnny Depp, aboard the Orient Express. A slew of colorful and diverse characters are his suspects: the ultra-religious Pilar Estravados (Penélope Cruz), a racist Austrian scientist (played by Willem Dafoe), the bossy Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench) and her meek German maid (played by Olivia Colman), Rachett’s suspicious secretary (played by Josh Gad), Ratchett’s elderly servant (played by Derek Jacobi), Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.), a ditsy and overly flirty widow (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), a warm governess (played by Daisy Ridley), the mysterious Countess Helena Andrenyi (Lucy Boynton) and the short tempered and violent Count Rudolph Andrenyi (played by Sergei Polunin), and the charismatic and open Biniamino Marquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). With lies and revelations behind every corner, the case won’t be an easy one for Poirot mentally or emotionally. Continue reading →
Story: James Bond (Daniel Craig) is still reeling from a terrible loss he experienced in Casino Royale. While he says he’s not, Bond is out for revenge. Standing in his way is a dastardly organization, Quantum, that claims to have people everywhere, even MI-6. Dominic Greene (played by Mathieu Amalria) is a lead member of Quantum, posing as a rich businessman supporting environmental issues. His job for Quantum is to gain control of Bolivia’s water supply, because controlling water equals controlling people. With Bond’s rage growing every minute, M (Judi Dench) is having a heck of a time keeping him in check long enough to complete his mission. Thankfully, Bond is getting help from Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), a Bolivian agent on her own personal vendetta, and two characters from Casino Royale – CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright) and René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini).
It’s not a good sign when a Best Picture nominee doesn’t leave you with much to say. I saw Philomena (2013) in the small screening room – one way in the back – of one of my local theaters. There weren’t many people there. It wasn’t getting a Best-Picture-nominee-crowd. Maybe it was because I was seeing it in the late afternoon on a Thursday. Maybe the little audience wasn’t some sort of comment on the quality of the movie itself, which doesn’t shy away from the strong emotions of the story, is amiably performed but isn’t all that memorable as a film. Continue reading →