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The Book of Eli, 2010 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on January 14, 2010

Director: The Hughes Brothers
Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Tom Waits, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Frances de la Tour, Michael Gambon

This great review by the good people of CBR – spoilers ahead.

The film opens on nuked-out forest, with Eli (Denzel Washington) hunting his dinner – a hairless cat – as he wanders a post-nuclear event Western U.S. After scavenging the wasteland for a new pair of shoes and having an encounter with a group of highwaymen, Eli finds himself nearing a settlement. But before he arrives, he notices another group of men harassing some refugees, simply because they have books.

Once in the town, Eli trades with a tinkerer, played by Tom Waits. The exchange reveals some of the specifics of this world. Currency is anything that functions from the old world, with Chapstick in particular being a major form of payment. Across the road, Eli enters a tavern where he meets up with the crew who harassed the people with books outside of town. A fight ensues and Eli is stopped from killing them by Solara (Mila Kunis), the tavern girl.

Eli is then brought before the man in charge of the crew — and the town — Carnegie (Gary Oldman). After witnessing the fight, Carnegie believes Eli to be the man capable of finding a book he desperately needs to consolidate his power. Carnegie controls access to the clean water in the local area, but requires a very special book to unite the area. Little does Carnegie realize, Eli already has the book, but he can also tell that this town is not the tome’s proper final destination.

Eli spends the night as Carnegie’s guest. Solara is offered to him, but rather than have a carnal encounter, the two simply talk. She is intrigued by the stranger and his odd ways and, during the course of their conversation, Solara learns how to pray. The next morning, Solara tries to teach the prayer to her blind mother (Jennifer Beals) and Carnegie learns that Eli has the book he so desperately seeks.

Thus begins the chase, with the book as the ultimate prize.

The book, as it turns out, is The Bible. After Eli’s departure from Carnegie’s bar, Solara runs after him and learns that he has wandered the country for thirty years, all the while searching for a place where the book might be safe. Meanwhile, Carnegie informs his right hand man (Ray Stevenson) that “it’s not just a book, it’s a weapon.”

The first major surprise of the film is just how willing it is to accept the existence of The Bible, especially since one of the key features of popular science fiction is the genre’s general atheism. The various politics aside, sci-fi actioners of this scale rarely enter these theological waters. At the same time, the film is fairly even-handed in its spirituality. Events can just as easily be explained in sober, rational ways as they can be interpreted as acts of God. Eli’s faith, for example, is a power that only armors himself and does not necessarily offer others the same protection.

In Denzel Washington, Eli comes off as a fairly sober, rational person. Despite claiming to hear voices, the audience never perceives Eli as being crazy. This is entirely due to Washington’s screen persona and the actor’s sheer conviction in the role. Whether he is about to decapitate a cannibal or tell Solara about the world before it ended, you never doubt the character. There is a twist to the character, however, and it’s one that Washington gives subtle hints at throughout the film, resulting in an ultimate reveal that is completely rewarding.

As Carnegie , Gary Oldman is an effective antagonist. The actor portrays the villain ass soft-spoken for the most part and fairly naturalistic. He explodes only two or three times in the film, and the first of these is terrifying. Unlike the Oldman baddies of old, Carnegie does not need to prove his lethal force with every movement. He can afford to be affable because everyone in his town understands exactly what he can do. Carnegie is not a simple villain, either. In one memorable scene, he leans in to Eli and asks of the titular character, “Pray for me.” It is a sincere request, and Oldman’s eyes reveal just how much of Carnegie’s soul has been lost because he had to be the boss.

All of the film’s powerhouse acting is aided by some great action set-pieces. The film opens with a confrontation between Eli and the group of highwaymen that are revealed to be cannibals. The scene, tightly choreographed and edited, is played in shadow, and Eli reveals a ferocity and talent that is as mysterious as the book itself. The film’s centerpiece sequence is a raid of a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere where Eli and Solara are aided by a gentle, elderly couple. With inventive camera tricks, escalating levels of firepower and even a good dose of humor, the sequence plays extremely well.

In addition to the quality of the action, the Hughes Brothers — the film’s co-directors — bring a sense of reality to the proceedings. Although post-apocalyptic settings are pretty standard sci-fi movie fare after twenty years of “Mad Max” rip-offs, you never really question the situation in “The Book of Eli.” In similar films, there is often the sense of the present day just off screen. In the cheapest of these sorts of films, you will even see working highways and people not involved with the film going about their daily lives. Shot in New Mexico, “The Book of Eli” feels vast yet isolated. When the characters arrive in the ruins of a recognizable city, it’s much of a shock to the viewer as it is to Solara, a character who has grown up with no concept of cities.

The film does, however, take its time in getting to the plot. Eli’s initial walk to the town takes twenty minutes or so, and the ruins of the world are at times a little obvious. That luxurious opening could grate on those well-versed in the genre who are itching to see things move along, but once Washington begins to interact with others, the slow speed is replaced by the tension between two points of view on the book, represented by Washington and Oldman.

While there are several twists in “The Book of Eli,” the film’s most surprising effect is the way the premise will haunt the viewer. The film invites those that watch it to put themselves in Eli’s well-worn shoes, asking of them the question, given the last copy of the knowledge found in The Bible, what would you do with it? Destroy it? Cloister it away? Perhaps use it to form a new nation under your “careful” guidance? Maybe even preserve it? While the film never takes sides or presents the audience with an answer, it allows for a consideration of all of those viewpoints and leaves the audience with an intriguing puzzle: a mind game as entertaining as the film.

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Queen to Play (Joueuse) – Trailer

Posted by LiveFor on May 9, 2009

An inquisitive French Riviera hotel maid (Sandrine Bonnaire) becomes entranced by a vacationing couple (Jennifer Beals, Dominic Gould) as they play chess on the hotel balcony. Tired of her humdrum existence, she quickly cultivates her curiosity for the game into an obsession. Her working-class husband doesn’t share her fascination with the game, so she employs the help of the American expat and retired doctor (Kevin Kline) whose house she cleans a few times a week. As her passion for the game increases, her natural talent and hard work (done mostly in secret) lead her to a chance at a championship and a new shot at life.

First-timer Caroline Bottaro makes a solid debut in this uplifting and intricate film, adapted from Bertina Henrichs’ novel The Chess Player. The always-charismatic Kline is impressive in his first entirely French-speaking role, and Bonnaire’s rich central performance absolutely illuminates the screen. Bottaro reminds us that chess and life are often analogous, and that it is not necessarily how we start out that matters, but how we finish that is the most important.

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Queen to Play (Joueuse) – Trailer

Posted by LiveFor on May 9, 2009

An inquisitive French Riviera hotel maid (Sandrine Bonnaire) becomes entranced by a vacationing couple (Jennifer Beals, Dominic Gould) as they play chess on the hotel balcony. Tired of her humdrum existence, she quickly cultivates her curiosity for the game into an obsession. Her working-class husband doesn’t share her fascination with the game, so she employs the help of the American expat and retired doctor (Kevin Kline) whose house she cleans a few times a week. As her passion for the game increases, her natural talent and hard work (done mostly in secret) lead her to a chance at a championship and a new shot at life.

First-timer Caroline Bottaro makes a solid debut in this uplifting and intricate film, adapted from Bertina Henrichs’ novel The Chess Player. The always-charismatic Kline is impressive in his first entirely French-speaking role, and Bonnaire’s rich central performance absolutely illuminates the screen. Bottaro reminds us that chess and life are often analogous, and that it is not necessarily how we start out that matters, but how we finish that is the most important.

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The Book of Eli – On the set with Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman

Posted by LiveFor on March 17, 2009

E.T.‘s Kevin Frazier payed a visit to the closed New Mexico set of the apocalyptic The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington, who battles his way across the desolate wasteland of a near-future America.

Denzel plays a lone warrior named Eli, who determines that it’s his destiny to bring civilization back from the brink of destruction — and save the future of humanity. Out next year, the film also stars Gary Oldman, Jennifer Beals and Mila Kunis.

The film is directed by The Hughes Brothers, Allen and Albert (‘From Hell,’ ‘Dead Presidents’), and Albert says, “It’s great working with Denzel, Gary, [Mila] and Jennifer, because it’s basically like you get all the toys. Everybody’s stepped their game up, and everybody’s having fun.”

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The Book of Eli – On the set with Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman

Posted by LiveFor on March 17, 2009

E.T.‘s Kevin Frazier payed a visit to the closed New Mexico set of the apocalyptic The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington, who battles his way across the desolate wasteland of a near-future America.

Denzel plays a lone warrior named Eli, who determines that it’s his destiny to bring civilization back from the brink of destruction — and save the future of humanity. Out next year, the film also stars Gary Oldman, Jennifer Beals and Mila Kunis.

The film is directed by The Hughes Brothers, Allen and Albert (‘From Hell,’ ‘Dead Presidents’), and Albert says, “It’s great working with Denzel, Gary, [Mila] and Jennifer, because it’s basically like you get all the toys. Everybody’s stepped their game up, and everybody’s having fun.”

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The Book of Eli – Denzel looking for the Book of some guy…I forget the name

Posted by LiveFor on February 26, 2009


Warner Bros has released the first photo from The Hughes Brothers adaptation of The Book of Eli in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly. In this post-apocalyptic western, Denzel Washington stars as the title character, a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind. Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson and Jennifer Beals co-star. The Book of Eli is out on 15th January 2010.

Source: /Film

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The Book of Eli – What a feeling. Jennifer Beals joins the cast

Posted by LiveFor on January 27, 2009

Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, Rodger Dodger, The L Word) has jumped on board The Book of Eli, the Denzel Washington-starring post apocalyptic action thriller. Albert and Allen Hughes are directing it for Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the script was written by Gary Whitta with a rewrite by Anthony Peckham, and centers on a lone hero named Eli (Washington) who must fight his way across the wasteland of a near-future America to protect a sacred book that might hold the key to saving humanity. Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis are also in the cast.

Beals will play Oldman’s sexual prize and Kunis’ mother, a blind woman doing anything she can to protect her child.

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