For those of you who follow me on social media or read this movie blog you will know by now that I adore Ridley Scott, his movies and all things Alien but in recent years I have been quite vocal on this legendary directors fall from the dizzy heights of yesteryear to churning out such ordinary movies, average affairs such as Robin Hood, The Counselor, Exodus: Gods and Kings and the pretty dismal Prometheus – I am so conflicted, the one side of me is so grateful to this legendary filmmaker for giving us so many iconic movies but the other side keeps asking the question “why does Ridley Scott continue to direct such sub par movies? take a leaf out of Tarantino and Cameron’s book, maybe direct a film every few years instead of every year?” it’s my opinion that these films will only tarnish his brilliant reputation – I really had hoped that Ridley had turned the corner back in 2015, I absolutley loved The Martian with Matt Damon this was a real return to form from a director in need of some resurection so when it was announced that a new Alien movie was in production a sequel to the dreadful Prometheus nevertheless I was pumped, excited and looking forward to maybe a new chapter in this great series of scifi indulgence…..
Sadly for me though Alien Covenant was not what I hope it would be, yes it was better than Prometheus (well that wasn’t hard now was it) and yes maybe over the last 10yrs The Martian aside it’s one of his better efforts but overall it was a big screen blockbuster that left me feeling flat, it was way too predictable, contained some shitty CGI that made the overall production feel shoddy and unpolished and although Covenant had it’s moments it’s narrative tried to over complicate things so the reasons why we loved the original movies were lost in this world, a franchise that was slowly becoming more about the androids than anything else – Ridley also thought it was a good idea to go all mystical on our asses so inserted some really strange Obi Wan moments featuring David from Prometheus, living like an old wise hermit in a cave, listening to wind chimes and blowing his flute delivering lines such as “you blow and I will do the fingering” I just found all this mumble jumble embarrassing, out of place and lacking any sort of vision, suspense and was almost laughable at times….
I am not saying that Alien Covenant as a movie is a complete disaster, for me it’s not got that Ridley Scott stamp on it – McBride and Fassbender are both terrific in their respective roles and some of the nice homages to previous movies were great to see but overall Covenant felt like a bad dream a two a penny slasher that felt like a rehash of the original movie that is desperately trying to emulate all the things that worked such as (face huggers, chest bursters, acid for blood and so on) yet delivering it all with no panach and most importantly zero tension, yeah it’s a shit load more violent than it’s predecessors but that’s nothing to be proud about, what made 1979’s Alien so damn good was it’s slow burning tension that’s gnaws away at you but with Covenant you feel nothing – most of the films undoing in my opinion is it’s lack of humanity I felt so disconnected to the crew of the ship, the characters in the movie were not developed enough so when they slowly start getting picked off I actually felt very little for them, I was numb and that overall summed up my experience with this movie at it’s finale – I just hope Ridley doesn’t out stay his welcome and he lets go of the Alien reigns and allows a new filmmaker to bring some fresh ideas to this much loved franchise ……★★★½
Sad news – the Oscar Winning director of one of my favorite movies The Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme has died aged 73 – Demme also directed several other superb movies including the epic Something Wild that stars Melanie Griffith & Ray Liotta, Rachel Getting Married, Married to the Mob and Philadelphia but it will always be the brilliant and chilling 1991 classic that the movie world will remember him for – those who worked with him called him one of the most enthusiastic and kind filmmakers in the business, he always had a story to tell and was devilishly smart in bringing that story to the screen, his films changed the course of an actors life, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Tom Hanks and Mary Steenburgen all won Oscars and much acclaim for their roles in his movies and all became better actors because of it – through the medium of film Jonathan Demme has left behind a cinematic legacy, a treasure trove of funny, gripping, haunting movies that will continue to entertain and live on forever – he was a passionate filmmaker who loved his craft, so when your next watching one of his movies take a moment to smile and fondly remember this talented New Yorker and the joy he breathed into the cinematic world we all love so much…
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Finally we get to see a teaser trailer of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI by stunning visonary Rian Johnson and hell it’s been worth the wait – it’s MYSTERIOUS, it’s DARK, downright SPINE TINGLING and 2mins of AWESOMENESS that will leave you aching for more – hopefully (and I think it’s a given) we will get to see more of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker training Rey played by the brilliant Daisy Ridley, that island setting looks ridiculously cool, and will make a great base for the pupil to start learning from the master….
“I am honored and proud to be flying the flag for the 70th Festival de Cannes and delighted with this choice of photo. It’s the image I myself have of the festival, of an event that illuminates everything around. That dance on the rooftops of Rome was back in 1959. No one remembers the photographer’s name… I’ve also forgotten it. But this photo reminds me of my origins, and of a time when I never dreamed of climbing the steps of the world’s most famous cinema hall. Happy anniversary!” – Claudia Cardinale (2017)
Claudia Cardinale not only is a beautiful screen goddess but she is also one of the great actresses of our time and somewhat a Cannes veteran appearing at the festival with films such as Girl With A Suitcase, La Viaccia, The Leopard, 8 1/2, La Pelle, Fitzcarraldo, Henry IV, A Man In Love and Claude Lelouch’s And Now.… Ladies And Gentlemen – she also starred in two of my favourite all time movies The Professionals and Once Upon a Time in the West and I am so pleased she is fronting this years Cannes Festival
Cannes also wrote these word in response to this gorgeous poster for it’s 2017 Festival “She dances, she laughs, she lives! Who better to symbolize the next Festival than Claudia Cardinale, the image of an adventurous actress, independent woman and social activist?”
Geoffrey Orthwein & Andrew Sullivan have crafted something quite majestic in BOKEH an end of the world movie that flows like an Icelandic waterfall and captures the backdrop of Reykjavik like a painting, subtle with mouthwatering color, mystery and full of energy all of which adds to their movies narrative and overall feel….
The film starts with a young couple Jenai (Maika Monroe) and Riley (Matt O’Leary) both enjoying their vaction, taking photos and making the most of their gorgeous surroundings – the early snippets of the movie is like an advert for the perfect Iceland vacation, clips of the pair visiting such sites as the famous Geysirs, the many Waterfalls, the Islands moon like landscape & the enchanting Blue Lagoon – the film then switches to a scene where Jenai is standing looking out through her hotel window, it’s the middle of the night and a northern light storm engulfs the dark skylinefill appearing to approach Jenai’s position before disappearing into the night – suddenly as if a dream its now morning and Riley is waking Jenai up, they then leave their room hunting for some breakfast when they start noticing that there is nobody in the hotel and once outside they discover to their disbelief that the population of the city has vanished leaving the two of them isolated together in a city that is now empty of its character, its many voices, its smells and vibrancy – and then it hits home, they’re alone and now what do they do?….
This film took me by surprise, I had seen Maika and O’Leary in other projects but this movie and it’s filmmakers were not on my radar and having recently visited Iceland this gave the movie a sense of realism that totally captivated me, the films gorgeous photography, it’s haunting storyline and how the film looks at the plight of Jenai and Riley and the strain it takes on their relationship gave me chills, so as I sat their enthralled by Bokeh I wondered to myself what would I do if ever faced with this scenario? Towards the end of the movie I was aching for more, I wanted to see how the characters handled the harsh winter, the snow covering their now forced upon city and watch them take in the magical northern lights dancing across the sky, but sadly I guess Orthwein & Sullivan had to finish the movie at some point and its finale is both beautiful, tragic yet so befitting….
The film’s title Bokeh means the out-of-focus parts of an image taken from a camera lens and somehow depending on which side of the fence you sit can also describle how both the characters in the movie view the circumstances they find themselves in, one of them is slightly more happy to go with the flow and accepts their lot, the other cannot and will not accept that this has happened – Bokeh is an absolute delight from start to finish and one that I just can’t stop thinking about – from its stunning Icelandic location, refreshing exciting yet tragic storyline and two engaging performances by Maika and O’Leary Bokeh gives a twist and turn to the normal zombie infested “end of the world” style movie – a true hidden GEM and one that will divide opinion…. ★★★★
A team of scientists led by John Goodman’s Bill Randa team up with a bunch of soldiers, a tracker and an anti-war photographer to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific. What starts off as a mission of discovery quickly becomes a mission of survival….
Kong: Skull Island is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) and stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, Shea Whigham and John C. Reilly
Jordan Vogt-Roberts ballsy entry into the world of Kong is unlike any previous picture featuring our giant monster ape – for starters Skull Island is set back in the 70’s not modern day mostly taking place on the island, there’s no climbing the Empire State Building, no naval war planes to swat or be shot at and certainly no love story to be emotionally attached to, this is one gutsy move and one that works so well for the film giving Skull Island it’s own originality and place in the genre. Unlike Peter Jackson’s 2005 entry that was over long and dragged at times Kong: Skull Island runs at a much quicker pace getting straight into the nitty grittty within the films opening 20 minutes, in previous movies the big reveal of Kong was left until the film’s latter half but in this version we dive straight in getting introduced to this big, scary and downright impressive beast from the get go….
With obvious nods to movies such as Jurassic Park & Apocalypse Now and similarities to films such as Predator the latest in the so called MonsterVerse Kong: Skull Island was everything I hoped for and more – yeah of course like any film it will have it’s minor criticism and maybe more could have been done with it’s character development & back story but when all is said & done this is a movie that’s about monsters, big nasty rip your arms from your socket type of monsters and at this level Kong: Skull Island succeeds – along with the almighty Kong you get to witness some real nasty mother huggers that include Skull Crushers, Giant Spiders, Stick Insects and Buffalo style dinos all wildly entertaining, visually stunning & barrels of fun….
Overall: Kong: Skull Island ENTERTAINS – it’s jam packed full of thrills spills and lots of kills, dramatic & vibrant photography, thunderous soundtrack and a movie that dazzles with it’s beautiful backdrops and CGI (Jordan Vogt-Roberts & Larry Fong shot loads of this movie in Vietnam and WOW what incredible, beautiful scenery) – Skull Island is now my 2nd favorite King Kong movie behind the 1933 original and one that I can highly recommend & look forward to revisiting very soon ★★★★
ps…. don’t forget to wait till after the credits for a post credit scene
Hugh Jackman reunites with The Wolverine’s James Mangold in the final chapter of LOGAN – the movie also sees Patrick Stewart reprising his X-Men role as Charles Xavier, Narco’s Boyd Holbrook cast as a villain of sorts and an unusual (but it works) piece of casting with Stephen Merchant playing mutant tracker Caliben….
In the near future 2029 to be precise a battle worn Logan is a Limo Driver, trying to save some money whilst caring for an ailing Professor X who’s he hid somewhere on the Mexican border….
The single most devastating thing about watching LOGAN was that I knew (everybody new) that this would be Hugh Jackman’s final outing as The Wolverine and this was in my opinion a game changer – James Mangold uses this knowledge as his filmmaking tool, his simple yet striking tone, deliberately slow pace and painful to watch narrative all builds to an agonising crecendo, it’s certainly not upbeat and unlike any other Marvel movie before it LOGAN is stripped bare of the usual comicbook humor, kaleidoscope of colour and deluded fantasy instead it’s a picture that’s dripping with a dark, gritty no-nonsense underbelly, utterly gut wrenching and humanized like no other movie of it’s ilk – even the performances in the picture seem better, Jackman captures the ageing tired Logan with a comfortable ease, his maturity as an actor gives him the tools to pull this off, you can see the pain he’s going through as he limps and claws his way through the storyline and Stewart is equally as impressive as Charles Xavier who requires medical assistance to not only help with an illness but to keep his powers at bay, there’s also an impressive film debut by Dafne Keen who kills it (literally) playing Laura, her fight scene’s, mannerism’s and interaction with Charles and Logan are a joy to watch….
One of my favourite moments in the movie (and there are many) takes place at the Munson Home – Logan, Laura and Charles help the Munson’s with some runaway horses after which they get invited back to their home and enjoy a brief trip into yesteryear, spending time with a loving family over a hot meal with smiles, real laughter and a bed to sleep in (Eriq La Salle playing the father of the family is as good in these 20mins as he’s ever been) – sadly the groups happiness does not last long and their ugly, brutal past catches up with them….
James Mangold’s LOGAN is the perfect send off for one comics most iconic stars – the film’s raw and uncompromising style allows it to become a far superior comicbook adapation than what’s come before, it’s not only a thing of beauty to look at but it’s also one hell of an emotionally charged rollercoaster ride that doesn’t let up until the final credits rise & Johnny Cash’s vocals hit home…. ★★★★½