Silver Linings Playbook is a remarkable movie. David O. Russell has created a fully-realized, wonderful world full of honest characters and real problems, yet at the same time it celebrates life in all its quirky ways while recognizing what makes movies special.

Rarely has a film been able to follow the basic structure of a romantic comedy-drama, while exceeding expectations at every turn; embracing the cliché yet staying true to the characters and story. While the story structure may be familiar, the execution is anything but. Powerful performances and keen direction aside, it’s the characters and their issues which shine, as the emotion of the characters is front and center in a film that’s equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching.

Based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook tells the story of Pat Solitano (Cooper) as he is let out of mental institution after an eight-month stay for a violent crime. We meet Pat as he’s trying to pick back up his life and marriage, living with his Philadelphia Eagles-loving father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver). Pat’s lost weight and has a new, positive mindset in life – seeking the silver lining in everything.

Determined to win back his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), Pat dedicates his time to this sole purpose. Yet when he attends a dinner with his friends, Veronica (Julia Stiles) and Ronnie (John Ortiz), he unexpectedly meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), Veronica’s sister. Tiffany is just as damaged as Pat, and Jennifer Lawrence injects light, warmth and power into the film with her performance. Lawrence has had more than her fair share of success in the past few years, first with an Oscar-nomination for Winter’s Bone, and of course her more mainstream roles in films such as The Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class, but it’s here where she’s most mature, utterly in control of a character who is anything but.

Just as Tiffany is consistently teetering on the edge, so is the film. David O. Russell operates on the brink of chaos; a perfect blend of wit, heartbreak, joy, despair, and every emotion in between. As adept as Silver Linings Playbook is from a story standpoint, the film is also as visually groundbreaking as many of Russell’s past films. He never frames a shot quite right, consistently shifting the camera in new and exciting ways, getting to the emotional core of each scene in the process.

Despite a rather telegraphed final act, Silver Linings Playbook is continually authentic in its characters’ stories. While at times cliché, David O. Russell understands how to navigate around this as both a writer and a director. Russell is the maestro of each scene, perfectly blending the unexpected wit and emotion of its characters, while recognizing the appeal and comfort of telling a story that is ultimately uplifting.

As if two Oscar-worthy performances from Cooper and Lawrence wasn’t enough, De Niro gives his most powerful performance in some time, with one particularly emotional turn which gets right to the core of what makes Silver Linings Playbook so powerful: a balance of the uplifting and the emotional. Jacki Weaver holds her own opposite De Niro as she proves her Oscar-nominated turn in Animal Kingdom was no fluke. Even Chris Tucker gives a solid performance as Pat’s friend from the institution, Danny.

Fully embodying all the humor, sadness, anger, and love of its characters, Silver Linings Playbook is that rare breed of film that is laid out as a quintessential romantic comedy-drama, while subverting the rote expectations of a typical romantic comedy. With an absolutely stunning, hilarious, soul-wrenching cast, led wonderfully by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and the virtuosic direction of David O. Russell, you’ll be moved, entranced, and delighted throughout.

Grade: A+

Rated: R (for language and some sexual content/nudity)

Silver Linings Playbook opens in theaters on November 21, 2012.

Major changes coming to ‘Sense8’ season 2

And I'm excited about what happens next.

11:00 am EDT, May 30, 2016

Sense8 is currently in production for their second season, and they’ve gotten pretty far. Here are some important things you need to know about what’s to come for your favorite cluster!

Ever since Sense8 debuted on Netflix a year ago I’ve been obsessed. Not only because it was such a fantastic premise of connecting 8 people, but because it was so immensely diverse and represented so many people from all over the world. Now that we’ve got a season 2, it’s about time to start learning what it’ll be about.

There’s some major things about Sense8 season 2 that are going to be dramatically different, and we’ve gotten an update on what our favorite characters will be up to this season thanks to BuzzFeed.

There’s only 1 Wachowski left

One of the biggest draws of Sense8 was the fact that it was a Wachowski sister production. These sisters have brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas so we knew when we heard that last name that this was going to be an epic series.

This year, only Lana Wachowski is staying on to direct the show. Lilly Wachowski is taking the much-deserved time off after having just come out as transgender in March, and is using the time to focus on herself. Should the show return to Netflix for a third season then she’ll probably return.

The return of only one sister isn’t something that should affect the show too much, and I’m sure if it does then any changes will be welcome and give the show a fresh vibe — not that it needs it.

Sense8 Nomi Amanita

Capheus has been re-cast

For those who enjoyed Capheus’ story in Kenya the most prepare yourselves for a major change. Due to disagreements between Lana and Aml Ameen, who portrays Capheus in season 1, Ameen left the show before production began.

Capheus’ story isn’t one you can just replace and end so suddenly, so instead of writing him out Wachowski opted instead to re-cast him. Toby Onwumere will now play the part.

For those of you concerned with any disagreement between Ameen and Wachowski being over her being transgender, Jamie Clayton, who plays Nomi, was adamant about stopping that rumor.

The good news is that Onwumere has been completely welcomed by the cast and he felt immediately connected to them upon meeting them at dinner for the first time. This makes me more confident that his chemistry with the actors will show on screen, which is one of the reasons I love Sense8 so much – the chemistry has been fantastic in every episode with all 8 actors.

But these changes can be amazing!

Even though they’re major changes from how the show operated last year, I feel like the new single director and the new actor is going to bring a welcome fresh take for the new season.

Every show can use something new in each season they come back just to keep it interesting and unique every year. I feel like, thanks to these changes made to the cast and crew, the story isn’t going to have to change too drastically just for the sake of change. Obviously it’s going to probably take to places we don’t expect, but that will be because the story is naturally progressing, instead of them trying to change actors and plots already set.

Are you excited for season 2 of ‘Sense8’

Hollywood reacts to ‘Begin Again’ director’s candid criticism of Keira Knightley’s acting skills

Should the trust between actors and directors ever be broken?

10:33 am EDT, May 30, 2016

After Begin Again director John Carney’s candid comments about Keira Knightley’s acting went viral, Hollywood has taken to Twitter to defend the British actress.

In case you’ve somehow not heard the story, here’s the sitch:

Over the weekend, The Independent released an interview with Irish director John Carney, in which he had some harsh words for former colleague Keira Knightley.

The pair worked together on the 2013 musical rom-com Begin Again, where Knightley starred opposite Mark Ruffalo as a promising young folk singer recovering from a broken heart.

Carney evidently wasn’t satisfied with Knightley’s performance, claiming she “always has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it’s very hard to get any real work done.”

Related: Exclusive: Keira Knightley, Joe Wright talk Anna Karenina and the choice to set it in the world of theater

Going on to praise both Ruffalo and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s performances, Carney said, “I think that that’s what you need as an actor; you need to not be afraid to find out who you really are when the camera’s rolling. Keira’s thing is to hide who you are and I don’t think you can be an actor and do that.”

“I like to work with curious, proper film actors as opposed to movie stars,” he continued. “I don’t want to rubbish Keira, but you know it’s hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don’t think she’s ready for yet and I certainly don’t think she was ready for on that film.”

Carney concluded, “I learned that I’ll never make a film with supermodels again.”

Now, Carney clearly had a frustrating experience working with Knightley on this film, and his distinction between ‘proper film actors’ and ‘movie stars’ may be legitimate in theory. Begin Again certainly wasn’t the great critical hit that Carney’s Once had been, and at the time of the movie’s release, Keira Knightley herself admitted that she struggled with the material, not being a singer-songwriter herself and having no great appreciation for music.

“It’s terrible. I know nothing about music whatsoever,” she told The Guardian. “I was always more into reading and drama. I was such a geek. … There’s often a huge link between music and memory. And I’ve got such a bad memory.”

But the issue Hollywood professionals have with Carney’s comments seem to have less to do with Knightley’s specific performance, and more about the fact that Carney made these comments at all.

Ava DuVernay certainly makes a great point about why Carney should have stayed silent:

Both industry professionals and notable journalists have joined DuVernay in speaking out against Carney. Here are some of their reactions:

All the same, there are some that find Carney’s candidness refreshing.

What do you think? Should John Carney have held back his criticism of Keira Knightley out of professional courtesy? Or was he right to share his negative experience?

John Carney rose to international fame with Once in 2007, and this year he’s coming out with a musical drama titled Sing Street.

Spectre director Sam Mendes is officially not returning for more James Bond movies.

While we wait for (almost certain) confirmation that Daniel Craig won’t reprise his role as 007 in the next James Bond film, we can at least contend with the knowledge that Sam Mendes will not direct Bond 25.

The two-time James Bond director came on board the franchise for the wildly successful Skyfall, but his follow-up Spectre was not considered as great of a success.

Even before Spectre‘s release, Mendes was talking about quitting the all-consuming franchise, saying at the time, “I don’t think I could go down that road again. You do have to put everything else on hold.” But it was only during a Welsh literature festival that he finally confirmed his departure.

Related: Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra doesn’t want to be a Bond Girl, she wants to be Bond

“It was an incredible adventure. I loved every second of it, but I think it’s time for somebody else [to direct],” said Mendes, as quoted via The Sydney Morning Herald. “I’m a storyteller. And at the end of the day, I want to make stories with new characters.”

Bond 25 is likely to be completely new chapter of the franchise, with Daniel Craig set to follow Mendes’ lead and officially announce his departure soon. Everyone’s been expecting him to bow out ever since his controversial promotional campaign for Spectre, and it’s even more likely now that his two-time collaborator has called it quits.

On the speculation about who might replace Craig, Mendes says, “I can guarantee that whatever happens next it will not be what you expect.”

“[Bond producer] Barbara Broccoli chooses who is going to be the next Bond, end of story. And without that there would have been no Daniel Craig because public support for Daniel was zero. It was her saying: ‘That man over there, he’s going to change the whole tenor, I’m going to cast him.’ That turned the whole thing on its head,” says Mendes.

Rumor has it that Tom Hiddleston is in talks to be the next James Bond, but until we learn more, we can speculate away as we wish! It’s also time to start making those Bond 25 director wishlists. Anyone know if Ava DuVernay is available?