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Arnold Schwarzenegger is an icon. He is also a terrible actor. This is the conundrum that is Arnie. It's through sheer, almost supernatural magnetism that he became a movie star. In the same way you cannot replace Jimmy Stewart or Humphrey Bogart, there really is no alternative to the Austrian Oak, he lacks range and most of the fundamentals of acting but he has something many better actors lack: Presence. Arnie commands the screen without even trying. Which is useful as he rarely does.
Ever since he burst onto the scene with Reservoir Dogs back in 1992 and then followed it up with the seminal Pulp Fiction in 1994, each new Quentin Tarantino film has felt like something of an event in its own right. While wildly different in tone and style, he is up there with the likes of Steven Spielberg or Woody Allen in terms of his name creating its own brand recognition of sorts. His latest offering is a deliriously violent two hours and forty-five minutes long revenge Western (or ‘Southern' as the director prefers) which is every bit as fun and pulpy as you might expect.
Zero Dark Thirty arrives on UK screen after creating a storm of controversy in its opening week in the U.S. over the inclusion of scenes in which members of the CIA extract important information by torturing detainees. However Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up to the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker is, according to screenwriter Mark Boal and her, a factually accurate account of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, and not a political film.
Disability is usually prime Oscar bait, so it was no surprise to see The Sessions receive a nod. However, that it went to Helen Hunt rather than John Hawkes was something of a shock. Hawkes plays Mark O'Brien, a poet, and writer of 'On Seeing a Sex Surrogate' upon which the film is based. O'Brien is a witty, playful, religious poet, unable to move anything apart from his head due to a bout of Polio when he was a child, and trapped for all but three hours a day in his iron lung. He is tended to by a collection of carers, with his local Catholic priest, played straight by William H Macy, always on hand to offer advice and friendship. His life is sent in a new direction when a beautiful, thoughtful young carer Amanda (Annika Marks) comes into his life and stirs sexual feelings in the middle-aged virgin. Rejected by Amanda, Mark is put in touch with 'sexual surrogate' Cheryl Cohen Greene (the Oscar nominated Helen Hunt), a sensitive prostitute/therapist hybrid who encourages him to explore his and her body, along with his own feelings over the course of their eponymous sessions. These are strictly limited to six, presumably to avoid any emotional connection forming between the two parties. Of course, in film as in life things are never so straightforward.
When Bend It Like Beckham first came out, Keira Knightley was an unknown, but it was obvious she was heading for stardom. The same can be said today of Irish actor Jack Reynor – the Richard of What Richard Did. Just two days before the film’s release, news came out of his Hollywood role as second male lead in Transformers 4, and he has just finished filming Delivery Man for DreamWorks, a role he scooped just days after arriving in Los Angeles.
Being bumped from an awards friendly September release date to the month where films go to die, ostensibly on account of post-Aurora reshoots, should have been warning enough that all was not well with Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad. Yet, despite a stellar cast, a blistering, old fashioned ‘true’ story of gangsters, tommy guns, glamorous molls and dapper brogues, no amount of reshoots could have salvaged this muddled romp through crime ridden post war LA.