The Ides of March

   Director: George Clooney, Crosscreek Pictures, Rated MA, 101 mins

This gem of a political drama has no relevance to Julius Caesar’s last days but instead provides an intriguing insight into the machinations of American politics, focusing on presidential aspirant Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney - The American) who is hopeful of winning the looming Ohio Primary election in March under the stewardship of his campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt) and media manipulator Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling - Crazy Stupid Love).
The Ides of March
   In fact it is Gosling who plays the lead character (Myers) with Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck) directing and taking on a supporting role as presidential candidate Morris.
   But the story really revolves around Myers’ naïve actions and interactions, initially meeting with his opponent’s campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti - Barney’s Version) at which he is asked to join Duffy’s team which later brings about his sacking that leaves his career in tatters.
   Myers then makes the apparent mistake of getting intimately involved with beautiful intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood- The Conspirator) only to discover that she has had a sexual liaison with Morris resulting in a unwanted pregnancy that Myers helps her with- which he then uses to his political advantage, changing his ideals in pursuit of revenge and success by forcing Morris to replace Zara with him as campaign manager.
   Clooney has cleverly crafted his political story around possible scenarios that afflict past and current presidential hopefuls in particular showing the ruthless political games that can be played by both sides of politics in order to achieve the ultimate prize of becoming President.
   To complement his absorbing storyline Clooney has assembled a great cast of leading stars (Gosling, Hoffman, Giamatti and Wood) to portray the major characters including Marisa Tomei as the reporter and Jeffrey Wright as the Senator, not to mention Clooney himself playing the perfect role of the presidential hopeful.
   With such memorable performances-especially from Gosling in this Shakespearean like story, it is left to the audience to ponder Myers’ reflective stance in the concluding scenes after seeing this thoroughly engrossing movie.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps


DVD Review

Priest

   Release Date: December
   Director: Scott Charles Stewart, Sony Pictures, Rated M 187 Minutes

This latest DVD is an out-of-the-ordinary post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller set in an alternative world ravaged by centuries of war between man, priests and vampires.
Priest
   It tells the story of the legendary Warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) from the last Vampire War who lives among the human inhabitants in walled cities ruled by the Church - until he receives word that his niece Lucy (Lili Collins) has been abducted by a murderous pack of vampires led by Black Hat (Karl Urban) an ex-priest.
   Disobeying the firm instruction from the Monsignor (Christopher Plummer) Priest leaves the walled city on his motorised bike, to be joined on his quest by Lucy’s trigger-happy boyfriend Sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet) and later by a Warrior Priestess (Maggie Q) who also happens to possess otherworldly fighting skills.
   Teaming up once more with ‘Legion’ director Scott Charles Stewart and similar to his role in that movie, Bettany demonstrates again his appealing role as a hero in combating vampires in Stewart’s stylish movie that includes some stunning set designs.
   Besides the commentary from the director and others, the bonus features on both Blu-ray and DVD editions have two fascinating features especially ‘The Bloody Frontier-Creating the World of Priest’.

VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamps

DVD Review

Friends with Benefits

   Release Date: December
   Director: Will Gluck, Sony Pictures, Rated MA, 109 mins

Another DVD being released in December is director Will Gluck’s satirical take on a romantic comedy between two young people - Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) - who are instantly attracted to each other and whose lives become complicated
Friends with Benefits
when emotion is added to their sexual relationship.
   In comparison to the romcom ‘No Strings Attached’ the characters and storyline in it are almost identical to Gluck’s movie ‘Friends with Benefits’ but the portrayals from Kunis and Timberlake are better despite the inclusion of some raunchy sex scenes.
    Besides some charming sequences throughout the movie, the chemistry between Dylan and Jamie appears to be genuine and there are also wonderful performances from the supporting cast including Patricia Clarkson as Jamie’s disoriented mother, Richard Jenkins as Mr Harper, and in particular, Woody Harrelson as Dylan’s unruly gay colleague.
   All in all there is much to enjoy in this amusing romantic comedy that includes the standard director’s commentary and other bonus features in both the Blu-ray and DVD editions.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

To find out more about Victor Rebikoff click here.
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