Archive for the ‘Neil Burger’ Category

American Take on a French Tale

The Upside

Director: Neil Burger

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Kevin Hart, Tate Donovan, Julianna Margulies, Golshifteh Farahani, Aja Naomi King

Limitless director Neil Burger gives an American spin on the remake of the superb 2011 French film The Intouchables starring Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet about a billionaire quadriplegic striking up an unlikely bond and friendship with his down and out carer.

This time the parts are played by Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) and comedic actor Kevin Hart as Dell Scott the paroled carer who gets the unlikely position of becoming a full time male nurse to art collector and writer Philip Lacasse wonderfully played by Cranston in The Upside.

The Upside aims to make audiences feel all warm and fuzzy, about the underlying compassion which should be instinctive in human nature. In this respect, The Upside is a perfectly well-directed American Take on a French Tale.

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) plays the Harvard educated Yvonne who is Lacasse’s personal sectary who is initially aghast at her employer’s decision to hire the rough around the edges Dell Scott who is desperate to earn some cash to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-wife Latrice played by Aja Naomi King.

While The Upside doesn’t quite capture the quirky relationship between Billionaire and poverty stricken carer as it did in the original French film The Intouchables, there are some funny moments particularly played by Kevin Hart who does not usually play serious roles.

The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies (Snakes on a Plane) makes a cinematic appearance as Lily an epistolary flame that Philip has been dutifully corresponding with.

Tate Donovan appears as the snobbish Manhattan neighbour Carter and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani plays the practical physiotherapist Maggie who expertly advises Dell on how to insert a catheter and generally care for the wheelchair bound angst ridden Lacasse.

Cranston holds the film together, acting mostly with his expressive eyes.

Viewers that have not seen the original French film will enjoy this light hearted comedic drama, but those that saw The Intouchables will feel that The Upside doesn’t possess that emotional gravitas which was central to the French version. In any events, The Upside is a light hearted look at the complexity of unique human relationships and will be sure to find a suitable audience.

Recommended viewing, The Upside gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Success is a Loan Shark

Limitless

With innovative direction by Neil Burger who brought the stunning period drama The Illusionist to the screen in 2006, Limitless stars Bradley Cooper as an aimless writer in New York City battling to complete a novel, landing up more at the Bar than at his publishers. Through a dodgy encounter with a shady brother-in-law, Ed Morra (Cooper) discovers the drug NZT which unlocks the potential of the human brain allowing a person to operate with all synapses connected and being fully in control with a super stimulated and alert state of mind, unlocking memories, abilities and hidden talents. Soon Morra in his quest for personal wealth transforms into a stock market trader being wooed by big investors and also chased by a shady Russian loan shark.

Morra played with humility and helped by Cooper’s vulnerable, yet starling blue eyes, is a departure for the actor who was in danger of being stuck in romantic comedy hell. Having instant fame from such hit films as The Hangover and The A-Team, Bradley Cooper holds his own as a flawed hero in Limitless a psychological thriller on the efforts men go to achieve success and power, wealth and wisdom at whatever cost. Unlike Edward Zwick’s raunchy comedy Love and Other Drugs which used sex and nudity to stay clear of the dangers of pharmaceutical medication, Limitless plunges into the murky world of drug addiction, of balancing a mind-unleashing drugs with the after effects of chemicals that can serious alter ones personality and if used correctly one’s path to success. Limitless does not shy away from the notion that all successful and brilliant men, whatever field they achieve their fame, there has been a secret reliance on that all powerful magic pill for success turning mere dreams and ideas into a prominent career and recognition.

Morra shows the effects of the brain boosting drug and the dangers of over reliance on that form of stimulus to achieve a person’s goals. Limitless is an ambivalent take on what drives men to success. Is it their ability to rise above average mediocrity or their reliance on an external booster to achieve fame, fortune and financial superiority in a cut-throat free-market economy, as competitive as that signified by 21st century commercial America and a relentless puritan work ethic?

Limitless is set on the edges of Wall Street, and with a menacing and megalomaniacal performance by Robert de Niro as the financial investor Carl van Loon, Morra is soon drawn into his world of greed, absolute power and a morally devoid fight for survival. Whether Morra transcends van Loon’s world to make his own individual mark on a power hungry society without the aid of questionable narcotics is left up to the audience to ultimately decide. However, the character journey of Morra from a loser unpublished writer, explaining his narrative to bar flys’ in a hazy Manhattan bar at the film’s opening to the confident wealthy and politically ambitious man at the end of the film is remarkable, violent and ethically questionable. If viewers enjoyed The Game, Bad Influence and Wall Street, the original, then Limitless is a film to watch. Lastly as drugs or alcohol is addictive, Limitless shows that the desire for success and wealth in a competitive environment is equally alluring.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
  • Facebook Looking to Hire Journalists for Curated News Section
    Facebook is looking to assemble a small team of journalists to help curate a news tab within its app. The team of 10 media professionals will complement algorithmic curation, and highlight the top stories of the day, according to a New York Times report. “We are building a new surface for news that will give […]
    Janko Rottgers
  • Javier Bardem on Toronto-Bound ‘Sanctuary,’ See Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)
    MADRID  — Just selected as a Special Event at September’s Toronto Film Festival, Alvaro Longoria’s “Sanctuary.” starring and produced by Javier Bardem, may need a new ending. On Aug. 19, Bardem, along with Greenpeace, addressed delegates at the United Nations in New York to urge governments to agree to a strong Global Ocean Treaty. Creating […]
    John Hopewell
  • Bosnia’s Canton Sarajevo to Launch Film and TV Rebate Incentive
    Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Canton of Sarajevo is introducing a new €1 million ($1.1 million) film funding initiative next year aimed at promoting domestic and international film and television production in the region. The incentive is the first of its kind in the country. Government representatives of Sarajevo Canton, including Prime Minister Edin Forto and culture […]
    Leo Barraclough
  • Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Starring Keri Russell Drops Chilling First Trailer
    Events take a dark turn for a small town school teacher, played by “The Americans'” Keri Russell, in the first teaser trailer for horror movie “Antlers,” produced by Guillermo del Toro. The footage, unveiled Tuesday, centers on a young boy (Jeremy T. Thomas) reading from a frightening short story he’s written as Russell listens. The […]
    Dave McNary
  • Yellow Bird U.K. Developing ‘Spotify Untold’ Limited Series
    Yellow Bird U.K. has optioned the screen rights to tell-all book “Spotify Untold” with plans to develop it into a limited series for television. Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud’s novel details the story behind the Swedish start-up which became one of the world’s leading music services and its attempts to take on U.S. giants including […]
    Robert Mitchell
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90