I was lucky to grow up in a time when Brisbane born GEORGE MILLER ruled the Post Apocalyptic screen with his brutal yet devilishly fun Mad Max franchise, these films are not only are amongst my favorite and most watched action movies of all time (see what remains of my VHS originals) but also they gave us the great Mel Gibson, this rugged, leather-clad hero that’s gone on to become one film’s finest actors and filmmaker in his own right (so thank you George) : but along with these full throttle action movies George Miller also gave us the Nick Nolte cracker Lorenzo’s Oil, the wickedly dark and funny The Witches of Eastwick, my favorite slice of The Twilight Zone Movie Nightmare at 20,000 feet and that delightfully cute Oscar Winning animated movie Happy Feet : George is currently working on Three Thousand Years of Longing with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton and then hopefully we should see the great man back in familiar territory with the prequel to Fury Road titled Furiosa and starring Chris Hemsworth and the incredible Anya Taylor-Joy in the title role
Number 29 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After Amelia looses her husband she and her child fall into a deep well of paranoia when a creepy children’s book titled “Mister Babadook” manifests in their home : Aussie Jennifer Kent wrote and directed THE BABADOOK after securing it’s budget of $2.5 million via Kickstarter : I must confess after seeing the movie for the first time I was terrified and struggled sleeping for days after, the imagery and the darkness that consumed the screen throughout the movie tugged deep into my soul and I couldn’t stop thinking of this poor family desimated by the loss of a father & husband, the mum then having to cope by herself with her imaginative & energetic young son was scary in itself, let alone this hideous, life sucking creature that invades their world : Essie Davis & Noah Wiseman give the film it’s heart, their chemistry playing mother & son is downnright believable, the old house in the movie was specifically built for the film and it’s fair to say that Jennifer Kent was influenced by the style of old horror movies and maybe even the Lon Chaney era whilst filming : along with the possession and what follows, one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the Amelia visits the local police station to report being terrorised by someone or something, watching Essie’s performance in this scene her head swimming with fear and paranoia is quite special, like a character from an old Hitchcock movie : The Babadook is not only one of the finest horror movies I’ve seen, with one of the scariest adversary‘s but it’s also a draining experience, a hard watch that concerns the welfare of a young child, the evil that lurkes and the battle of a family torn apart by with what life has dealt them : interestingly Babadook is an anagram of A bad book ★★★★½
Based on Peter Carey’s novel about the story of Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang of misfits as they tangle with the local fuzz during the 1870s – TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG is Justin Kurzel’s 4th feature film and from start to finish the film is harrowing stuff with it’s violence, harshness of the times depicted in brutal fashion by the Aussie filmmaker who broke onto the scene with his raw yet brilliant debut Snowtown back in 2011 – George MacKay, Russell Crowe and Orlando Schwerdt are terrific in the movie as is Charlie Hunnam and Nicholas Hoult both adding some menace to proceedings, and is there a better Aussie actress than Essie Davis at the moment? a totally committed, ballsey actress that has such a screen presense as she commits to her role 120% – Some of the movie was shot in the Winton Wetlands which I found such a perfect location lending to the movies haunting, barren yet majestic landscape – Kurzel’s movie is certainly not everybody’s cup of tea but it was mine and I would recommend the True History of The Kelly Gang to anyone who loves movies, I just hope it gets the exposure it deserves ★★★★
Having raved these last few years to anyone and everyone over James Wan and his ability to scare one half to death with his sublime horror movies The Conjuring, Insidious and Saw it’s actually quite satisfying to see him take on a huge comicbook adapation and completely and utterly destroy it – So I’ve just come out of AQUAMAN on Imax 3D and the first thing I have to say is what an incredible ride the movie is, it’s 143mins of mouth watering, adrenaline fueled action that’s looks totally insane on the big screen – If you take splashes of Pirates of the Caribbean, little drops of Phantom Menace and a tidle wave of Raiders of the Lost Ark then you get a comicbook adaption unlike anything you will have ever seen. I really dug the casting too from Amber Heard’s kickass warrior Mera who has an absolute ball alongside Jason Momoa’s hero, Nicole Kidman is great in everything and her role as the Queen of Atlantis was sublime, Patrick Wilson reuniting once more with Wan for a villanous turn as Orm the half-brother of Aquaman and I really enjoyed watching Yahya Abdul get his teeth into the role of Black Manta and boy doesn’t he do a great job. It never ceases to amaze me what they can produce in movies these days and James Wan’s Aquaman has so many WOW HOLY SHIT how on EARTH did they do THAT moments so do yourself a favour and grab a ticket as this movie REQUIRES some serious BIG SCREEN viewing….. ★★★★½
BREATH : Simon Baker
Sam Coulter, Ben Spence, Elizabeth Debicki, Simon Baker
I’ve not read Tim Winston’s novel BREATH that was published in 2008 but have just seen it’s film adaption by debut director Simon Baker and it’s an absolute peach, a slow burning coming-of-age surfing movie set in 70s Australia where two friends Pikelet & Loonie discover a thrill seeking adventure amongst the waves – Samson Coulter & Ben Spence give wonderful performances as the two lads, the chemistry between them gives authenticity to their friendship and the fact that both lads are top surfer’s in real life helps enormously – along with the boys surfing & interaction with Simon Baker’s character Sando who’s a retired ex-surfing champ I really enjoyed the scenes between Coulter’s Pikelet & Eva played by the incredibly gifted Elizabeth Debicki these scenes are gorgeous and handled superbly – I must also mention the photography and especially the water sequences in the movie that are simply stunning and quite breathtaking to watch – If you’d like to watch a movie with no green screen, raw acting talent and a lovely story about friendship & adventure then Simon Baker’s Breath is for you – An Aussie Gem from start to finish ★★★★½
Here’s a couple of new stills, two new posters and the latest trailer for Will Smith’s FOCUS that also stars that gorgeous Aussie Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Longmire’s Robert Taylor – the film is directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa who brought us the 2011 comedy drama Crazy, Stupid, Love
“Will Smith stars as Nicky, a seasoned master of misdirection who becomes romantically involved with novice con artist Jess (Margot Robbie). As he’s teaching her the tricks of the trade, she gets too close for comfort and he abruptly breaks it off. Three years later, the former flame now an accomplished femme fatale shows up in Buenos Aires in the middle of the high stakes race car circuit. In the midst of Nicky’s latest, very dangerous scheme, she throws his plans for a loop and the consummate con man off his game”
There’s always been great movies that have come out of Australia : Walkabout, Picnic at hanging Rock, Mad Max, Gallipoli, Crocodile Dundee, Dead Calm, Romper Stomper, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Tomorrow When the War Began, Animal Kingdom, Wolf Creek, Snowtown & many many more… And in 2014 Australian Cinema has continued its fine tradition of bringing us yet more fresh, well acted, gritty & excitingly told new movies – of course there are so many quality films out there but here’s my 5 must see Aussie flicks of 2014
OMG !! if this film trailer doesn’t whet your appetite for George Miller’s post-apocalyptic action film MAD MAX FURY ROAD then I don’t know what will – If like me you loved the original trilogy that starred Mel Gibson as Max then May 2015 can’t come quick enough, Miller’s back in the directors chair and he’s brought along a fabulous, mouth drooling cast that includes Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Keays-Byrne – hope you enjoy the trailer….
“An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland”
The Babadook (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
“Baba dook dook dook!!!“
Director: Jennifer Kent – Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight & Tim Purcell – Synopsis: a single mother, haunted by the death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but she soon discovers an evil presence all around her – Overall: Scary & well acted horror films are quite a rarity these days, sadly we live in a movie world of endless remakes that only a quarter of which are decent and the rest once watched sit gathering dust amongst our film collection’s SO as you can imagine when I came across this film, a horror that felt so personal, so dark and one that left the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention I DECIDED that I should shout the praise to all and sundry, to whomever would listen and most of all to the those who love a good old fashioned scare !! The Babadook starts with a thump, within its first 15mins I was already invested in its characters, I felt for Samuel we’ve all been there scared of the demons in our closet or under our bed – and I sympathized with Amelia Samuel’s mum, tortured by her loss, fighting to keep her own sanity and trying to bring up her son in a somewhat normal existence. Being a big fan of the horror genre and not easily scared by things that go bump in the night I was surprised by how haunting an effect Jennifer Kent’s film-making debut had on me, the story also written by Kent is almost like a ghost story of yesteryear, the majority of which is set inside a creepy house in the suburbs that adds to the movies scare, giving you the sense of confinement, suffocating you, a movie cabin fever that just keeps building, and building and building – of course along with its terrific story, it’s effective Kubrick-esque camerawork & an eerie score that at times would make your heart beat twice as quick – filmmaker Jennifer Kent also had to find an actress that would help bring her creation to life, become this broken women, this mum who would do unspeakable things and in Aussie Essie Davis she found exactly that, if I tell you that Essie Davis delivers the best horror performance for an actress since Shelley Duvall went visiting the Overlook in Kubrick’s The Shining then you know that this performance and this movie is something very special – Essie captures Amelia’s vulnerability, she’s a mother unhinged, you can almost feel her pain & you witness her terror as things really do go bump in the night. The Babadook is a nail biting, pillow hiding, lights on kinda horror that’s very reminiscent of early Polanski with splashes of Hitchcock, Kubrick and the imagination of Roald Dahl thrown in – the use of the illustrated book throughout is a master stroke, it’s images are effective and its words within pretty scary – there are some spoiler scenes throughout the movie that pull at the heart strings and these are only possible due to Kent’s groundwork in building characters you truly care for – I can’t remember many filmmakers making their horror movie debut with such gusto but Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is up there with the very best of them ! This is one subtle, chilling horror that deserves your attention – just make sure you lock all the doors first….
From Seth MacFarlane the man who brought us the hilarious TED comes A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST a new comedy western following a coward of a farmer who seeks the help of a gunslinger’s wife to help him win back the woman who deserted him – the film stars Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman – here’s some brilliant character posters along with the new redband (adults only) trailer…. Enjoy!
A Million Ways to Die in the West – US (30th May) – UK (6th June) – Australia (29th June)
SAVING MR. BANKS (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★½
SAVING MR. BANKS stars Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman & Bradley Whitford – Director John Lee Hancock brings us the story of Author P. L. Travers that not only reflects on her childhood spent with a loving, caring but alcoholic father but also looks at the many trials and tribulations filmmaker Walt Disney had in securing the rights to Ms Travers beloved character MARY POPPINS and the process in bringing it all to the screen VERDICT I’ve yet to meet anybody who dislikes Robert Stevenson’s Mary Poppins and watching SAVING MR. BANKS sorted of acted as a behind the scenes glimpse at want went on back in the 60’s of this much loved Disney Classic – Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are both outstanding as Disney & Travers respectively but it’s easy to overlook two other towering performances from Colin Farrell playing the drunk but loving father Travers Goff who you get to meet in various flashback in Australia in the early 1900’s, it’s a deliverance of such a role that makes me believe Farrell is right up their amongst the elite in his field and then there’s Paul Giamatti who plays the delightful Ralph a limousine driver who strikes an unlikely friendship with Travers whilst driving her around LA – Hancock and his team manage to capture the era of the time perfectly, it’s cinematography is delivered with stunning beauty and them familiar, chirpy tunes from 64’s Mary Poppins are introduced throughout the movie and delivered wonderfully well by the Sherman Brothers who are played so so well by Jason Schwartzman & B.J Novak – my favorite scene in the movie has to be Travers singing and dancing along to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, it’s pretty emotional and nailed by the cast – overall SAVING MR. BANKS is a delicious feast of family entertainment that will make you look at Mary Poppins in a different way but love it even more….
Like most I first came across the name Mel Gibson back in the 80’s whilst watching the classic movie Mad Max and Its sequel The Road Warrior – after two movies I was already in awe of this actor with his distinct chiseled features, his well formed action physique and his deep piercing blue eyes – you just knew that this actor with a swagger of a more seasoned pro would one day rule the acting boardwalks and that movie greatness was just around the corner. Combining star quality with actual talent is rare amongst the modern crop of Hollywood’s A-List stars but one thing for certain is that Mel Gibson has it in abundance – reminiscence of screen greats of yesteryear Steve McQueen, John Wayne and Kirk Douglas Mel Gibson always manages to fill the screen with this almighty presence, he approaches his work in a very cavalier manner and has this uncanny ability to captivate his audience, whether that be in the action arena or throwing it down on the comedy circuit Mel Gibson has the tools for any occasion.
With the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon film franchises, a Best Director & Best Picture Oscar for 1995’s Brave Heart and his lead starring role in countless other movies throughout the years to only pick 3 of his best most significant films for this post has been beyond difficult – to celebrate his 58th Birthday and my 100th post here’s the Essential Mel Gibson
A deserved mention to notable absentees that are also vintage Mel Gibson – Conspiracy Theory, Mad Max, Maverick, Ransom, Signs, Gallipoli, The Beaver and Tequila Sunrise (and for that matter anything else that Mel Gibson has had a starring role in)