The GREAT actor IAN HOLM has died aged 88 – what a wonderful, versatile performer Ian was – his roles such as Ash in ALIEN, Sam in CHARIOTS OF FIRE and Bilbo Baggins in THE LORD OF THE RINGS are all memorable, some are disturbing but all are pure cinema – he is an incredible actor to watch and truly one of the great actors of our time RIP
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)
It’s always painful as a film fan to loose anybody you’ve admired in the business, even if that person was from afar and sadly the passing of Garry Marshall is one that hurts like hell – yes I know what your thinking “you never knew the guy so why the sad face?” well let me tell you why the sad face – Garry Marshall was a huge part of my television life, back in the 80s I would watch his classic creations Mork & Mindy, The Odd Couple and Happy Days the Marshall stamp was clear on all these shows, simple, effective and loveable characters that would bring tears of joy to my face, then in the late 80s and early 90s when I became truly addicted to film he delivered two classic film gems 1987s Overboard with Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell and then in 1990 the romantic Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts & Richard Gere, both fantastic slices of cinema that continue to get replayed in my home on a yearly basis – other much loved films in my collection include his 2004 film Raising Helen with Kate Hudson and the underrated Frankie & Johnny from 1991 that starred Al Pacino & Michelle Pfeiffer – so as you can see Garry Marshall meant a lot (and still does), his film style, his love of the audience, his performers and most of all he above all else his creations made me smile when I needed to smile most and for that I thank him RIP
I adore Post Apocalyptic movies, that sense of emptiness, them barren wastelands and characters that are usually infected, desperate or in some way void of humanity, these type of movies usually make for great movie escapism and Thomas S Hammock’s directorial debut THE LAST SURVIVORS aka: “The Well” is certainly one of the best of its type in recent years !
First & Foremost is the emergence of the film’s star 20yr old Haley Lu Richardson – some talent right there !! She’s not only convincing in her given role but she is kick ass in the action scenes especially the movies bad-ass finale and the atmospheric interior shots where she attempts to hide & escape the big bad and his masked cronies – Haley Lu is a name for the now let alone the future, she revels in the role of Kendal a teenager fighting to save what’s left of her farm from the villainous & greedy water baron, she’s an actress who has tremendous screen presence, exciting to watch and one I hope continues to take risks with her film roles, not settling for the mundane romantic comedies – Secondly Is the great support cast & small cameos throughout the film including veteran beauty Barbara Crampton playing Grace, a cameo from filmmaker Adam Wingard as a soldier, the brilliant Michael Massee as the stranger & Leo Lee playing Judas all credit to Hammock for reaching out to this talent and getting them all on board – And finally no Apocalyptic movie would be complete without a location to suit the film’s storyline and some Stella cinematography to back it all up and this scifi gem comes up trumps on both counts !
Overall: Absolutely loved The Last Survivors – shot on a small budget this gritty horror from a debut director is a joy to watch – yes the storyline has a few holes, but the movie is never dull, it’s tense at times and it’s action sequences brisk and effective – if you enjoy this style of movie then you will struggle to find one better ★★★★
Happy 98th Birthday to the greatest movie star of his generation KIRK DOUGLAS – back in 1949 Kirk was slowly starting to make a name for himself on screen when cast as the lead actor in Mark Robson’s great boxing film CHAMPION – below are some rare photo’s of Kirk taken around that time – I hope you agree Kirk Douglas is a cinematic treasure & these are wonderful!!
One of the last great actresses of the Golden Age LAUREN BACALL has died age 89 – a New York lass she made her name starring alongside some of Hollywood’s finest including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and her beloved Humphrey Bogart – for a leading lady Lauren Bacall had the lot, during the 40s and 50s you would struggle to come up with another actress who electrified the screen as Bacall did – throughout her career she always managed to ignite a fierce chemistry with her many co-stars, her husky vocals and piercing blue & green cat like eye’s adding to her star quality and undoubted sex appeal – her break through movie To Have and Have Not in 44′ followed by Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Lago made her a Hollywood Star – for me looking back at Lauren Bacall’s career John Huston’s Key Largo and starring alongside John Wayne in The Shootist were easily my favorite two movies – Bacall will be missed no doubt but thanks to her body of work her beauty & talent will always be remembered….
3 Days to Kill (2014) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Director: McG – Cast: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Richard Sammel, and Eriq Ebouaney– Synopsis: After being told he has months to live, CIA agent Ethan Renner (Costner) decides to quit the agency, mend some bridges and build a closer relationship with his estranged wife and daughter before checking out – but his past wont let go and when’s he’s offered a deal to take an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment Ethan has no choice but to step back into the line of fire and track down the world’s most deady terrorist – Verdict: McG can be quite the filmmaker, he knows how to deliver action to the screen with thunderous results, they’re usually fast flowing, with big set pieces and pretty entertaining affairs such as Charlie’s Angels, Full Throttle and Terminator Salvation – but sadly McG can also direct the odd dud like 2012’s comedy This Means War that had a superb cast but was the worst film by a distance that year and sucked in every department – luckily for us 3 Days to Kill sees the director return to form, it’s smart yet simple script written by the French maestro Luc Besson is played out by a stella cast including the class act that is Kevin Costner, the eye candy Amber Heard and Ender’s Game actress Hailee Steinfeld all giving the movie a solid footing, making the movie enjoyable to watch and bringing believability to their characters and scenarios – I believe most of the outside shots were on location in Paris and Belgrade and this lent to the feel of a European thriller, typical of McG the action scenes are crisp, exciting & at times explosive and the wry humor throughout is delivered with masterclass by Costner who seems to be getting to an age like Eastwood did ten years back where you can see the swagger of an aging acting pro oozing confidence and looking great doing so – yes at times it maybe cliched and predictable, and yes Steinfeld and Heard were underused but Overall I had fun with 3 Days to Kill McG has delivered an energetic action thriller, that’s funny, sentimental and so so enjoyable….
The Raid 2 (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Director: Gareth Evans – Cast: Iko Uwais, Donny Alamsyah, Arifin Putra, Julie Estelle, Alex Abbad, Yayan Ruhian & Oka Antara – Synopsis: Picking right up from the end of the first raid, Rama is forced to go undercover with the thugs of Jakarta to protect his family and bring down the corruption within his police force – Verdict: Filmmaker Gareth Evans and his muse Iko Uwais reunite to bring us another slice of exciting, heart thumping Indonesian action that not only contains some of the most delicious, badass fight scenes ever brought to the screen but is also a rarity in being an action sequel that’s better than it’s original – Evans unique blend of bone crunching, blood splattering action, colorful visuals, fast flowing seamless cinematography along with a well written script that’s more involved, more character driven than the first and all beautifully played out is a just a delight to watch – The Raid 2 is full of grandeur action scenes all of which are pure loco and will blow your mind, from the mud-filled prison fight scenes that’s brutal, breathtaking and epic to watch, to some jaw-dropping set-pieces that include some of the explosive characters in the movie such as the carriage train scene with the delightful hammer girl taking on an army of henchman, Prakoso’s amazing fight in the restaurant and Rama’s duel with The Assassin in the kitchen are exciting, blood soaked and definitely not for the squeamish – Overall: if Gareth Evans The Raid got your attention then this sequel will blow you away – The Raid 2 is a masterpiece of an action film that’s astonishing to watch and unflinching in it’s execution – Evan’s has no equal when it comes to the action arena, his film making style is raw, relentless and incredibly entertaining – I for one can’t wait for the third outing but until then I will dose myself up with my Evans fueled addiction and re-watch both The Raid’s until the day comes when Rama hits our screens once more….
Sadly one of the great method actors of our time has died aged 98 – ELI WALLACH played a huge part in my love for film after watching his performances in such classics such as The Magnificent Seven alongside Yul Bryner, The Misfits opposite Marilyn Monroe & Clarke Gable, How the West Was Won with Lee J. Cobb & co, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly alongside Clint Eastwood, The Hunter with Steve McQueen and so many more – at 98 Eli should be remembered not for awards, accolades or press worthy news clippings but for a body of work full of genuinely great film roles and his last-ability in an industry of much change since making his film debut back in 1956 in Elia Kazan‘s Baby Doll – to say goodbye to one of the screens finest I will leave you with a quote from Sergio Leone‘s 1966 classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly where Eli Wallach played the outlaw Tuco “There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting”
Two of the screen’s finest & brightest young actresses Dakota Fanning (Runaways) and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) star as besties who’s friendship one summer is strained after they both fall for the same guy played by Boyd Holbrook – the film has a fabulous support cast that includes Ellen Barkin, Peter Sarsgaard, Richard Dreyfuss, Clark Gregg and Demi Moore and a filmmaker Naomi Foner making her film debut behind the camera with a story she has also written – VERY GOOD GIRLS premiered at Sundance earlier this year and looks set for a limited release later this summer – here’s the trailer…. Enjoy!
Edge Of Tomorrow (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Director: Doug Liman – Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor & Kick Gurry – Synopsis: Major William Cage (Cruise) a PR for the army finds himself sent to the front line, with zero combat training, fighting a war against an alien force known as the Mimics that’s slowly taking over the world – Cage manages to get himself caught in a time loop that once deceased makes him revisit his horrific day of battle all over again – during this loop he becomes more efficient at battle and meets up with Vrataski (Blunt) who’s a battle hardened war hero and together they must find a way to defeat the Mimics saving the world in the process – Verdict: If your wondering what film you should see at your local cinema this week then wonder no more ! – Based on the Japanese Novel “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and delivered to the big screen by The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman EDGE OF TOMORROW is one heck of a ride that reminds me of Aliens, Matrix and Starship Troopers wrapped around a devilishly fun Groundhog Day narrative that is not only exhilarating to watch but is a delicious cocktail of clever sci-fi, black humor and full throttle edge of the seat action that Cruise, Blunt and Paxton deliver tenfold – a lot of praise should go to McQuarry & Butterworth for a superb character driven script that’s both fresh, witty and void of romantic entanglement like too many of it’s predecessors – one of the surprises in the movie is Emily Blunt’s “Angel of Verdun” – we all know she can act but her action prowess tethered to her overall look and the deliverance of her character is convincing & superbly executed – the action arena certainly suits Ms Blunt and with the lack of strong female action heroes on our screen of late this role certainly opens some doors for future action screen time – some of my favorite moments in the movie is the breathtaking beach scene reminiscent of a science fiction Saving Private Ryan, the exchanges between Cruise & Paxton (two of my favorite actors) and Cage’s training in the army base against the mimics whilst Vrataski looks on applying the necessary bullet to the head if he fails – Overall: as a summer blockbuster Edge Of Tomorrow is one of the best in recent years, it’s fun, explosive and well worth you hitting that repeat button for another watch….
The Double (2014) – Movie Review ★★★
Director: Richard Ayoade – Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Chris O’Dowd & Paddy Considine – Synopsis: Simon James (Eisenberg) is a very shy, un-confident and somewhat lonely type of guy who works as a clerk in some government agency – one day whilst at work he finds his life turned upside down with the arrival of James Simon (Eisenberg) a new employee that is not only Simon’s exact physical double (WTF) but also his complete opposite, James is confident, charismatic and outgoing all the attributes that Simon only wishes he had – Verdict: Ayoade’s The Double is a film of the weirdest, highest order! it’s full of dimly lit scenes, dark almost excruciating humor, oddball characters and an intriguing somewhat haunting soundtrack – the film’s style is very reminiscent of Gilliam’s Brazil and although I applaud Ayoade’s originality The Double failed to keep me hooked long enough to garner any interest for it’s many unlikeable characters and it’s cold and pretty bleak setting – I felt the film was void of explanation and in my opinion tried too hard to be weird and confusing – Overall: Ayoade will no doubt get praise from some quarters for his style and originality but for me The Double was a missed opportunity let down by a weak script and criminally not giving it’s two talented leads enough to work with….
Oliver Assayas is an incredible, visual and exciting filmmaker and since I first heard he was teaming up with the never aging French beauty Juliette Binoche and two of Hollywood’s finest young actresses in Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz my eye’s and ears have been a buzz waiting with bated breath for the first glimpse of what I hope will be some more French Magic – the film is also written by Assayas and follows the complicated relationship between an aging actress (Binoche) and her loyal assistant (Stewart), it truly looks an intelligent, mesmerizing and down right fabulous drama – without further ado take a peek at the trailer for Clouds of Sils Maria…. Enjoy!