ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD : Quentin Tarantino
Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino
JULY can’t come quick enough – one of cinema’s greatest filmmakers QUENTIN TARANTINO will take us back to 1969 Los Angeles where a television actor and his stunt double embark on an odyssey to make a name for themselves in the movie industry.
With films in the Mid 80s through to the 90s such as Romancing the Stone, The Back to the Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump and Contact filmmaker Robert Zemeckis was pretty untouchable, a master visionary with the Midas touch, a director who defined those times with exciting, bold film-making, great storytelling and colorful characters that we all love so well….
His latest ALLIED a WWII movie that’s more keeping with Casablanca rather than the violent brutal Tarantino pic Inglorious Basterds is an absolute treat – Zemeckis delivers on every detail, from the character’s costumes down to the general atmosphere of the times, whether it be the sand dune Nazi occupied Casablanca to the devastation of war torn London, as a filmmaker he keeps his sets simple yet pleasing on the eye making each scenario in the movie more believable – along for the ride are two accomplished actors Brad Pitt who plays intelligence officer Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard a French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beausejour, both finding themselves in Morocco paired up with one assignment to kill a German Ambassador who is stationed there and that’s where the fun and games really start – Brad Pitt is terrific, he absorbs his character that goes from a confident spy to slightly unhinged and carrying self doubt as the story slowly unfolds, the is the Pitt of old he’s in fine form, not only bringing the best out of himself but managing as he always seems to do by getting the best out of his co-star and in Allied Marion Cotillard is the perfect foil, she’s the glue that binds the movie together, there’s something exciting about a movie star on top of their game and this French actress is certainly that, she carries the elegance of an 1940’s movie siren, dazzling the screen with a comfortable ease, her acting in the film’s finale is both haunting and powerful and throughout the film she gives a performance that’s worth the ticket fee in itself – Overall: Robert Zemeckis Allied is an attention-driven, old school romantic thriller with plenty of twists and turns, some gorgeous photography and a dark finale that in my opinion was required and executed superbly – let’s hope it’s not too long before we see the brilliance that is Robert Zemeckis behind the camera once more….
THE COUNSELOR (2014) – Movie Review ★★½
The Counselor stars Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, Rosie Perez & Brad Pitt – the movie follows a lawyer knows to his friends & colleagues as The Counselor who is rich and successful yet finds himself deep in an extremely complex drug plot that involves the Mexican Cartel, some pretty unsavory characters and a middle-man known as Westray played by Brad Pitt – when the plan The Counselor’s involved with goes south he must try and protect himself & his soon to be wife after the Drugs Cartel start eliminating those who have doubled crossed them – VERDICT since 2001’s Black Hawk Down and the wonderful Matchstick Men in 2003 I have found Ridley Scott’s directorial efforts to fall between average & very poor and The Counselor sadly falls in the latter – despite containing a delicious cast and at times some incredible cinematography by Dariusz Wolski (Crimson Tide & Dark City) the film is a 2hr 18mins mixture of the bizarre, the disjointed and is amongst the dullest big screen events in the last few years – The Counselor’s memorable moments such as Diaz orgasmic moment on a car windscreen (yep that happened), the colorful outfits & delightful hairstyle of Javier Bardem & a couple of well executed be-heading’s are quickly forgotten, swept away in the nonsensical over complicated nature of the film’s script – overall The Counselor only adds to the list of recent movies that fall below the quality expected from one of cinema’s greatest filmmakers – it contains some horrible acting performances & a script by the ever reliable Cormac McCarthy who wrote No Country for Old Men and The Road that is a tiresome, sloppy, yawn-fest that contains numerous, meaningless exchanges between characters that you find awkward, cold and pretty much unlikeable – sadly The Counselor is yet another Ridley Scott disappointment so now my hopes on this great filmmaker returning to form rest firmly with his next big screen outing the biblical EXODUS that lands later this year and stars Christian Bale….
12 YEARS A SLAVE (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
12 Years a Slave stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson and Brad Pitt – Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup a free black man from upstate New York who is tricked by two con men, abducted and sold into slavery and sent to New Orleans – the film is based on a memoir written in 1853 by Northup himself and brought to the screen by the director of Shame Steve McQueen. VERDICT the last time I felt this appalled at the cruelty of my fellow human whilst watching a movie was Spielberg’s Schindler’s List – McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is one of those rare films that through all the heartbreak and unimaginable horror that’s taking place on screen, you find yourself submerged in the characters & unable to avert your eyes from it – unlike Tarantino’s dark humored Django Unchained, McQueen’s movie about American Slavery has nothing to smile about, it’s brutal, uncompromising and delivers an intense powerful history lesson to those who may have forgotten our past – along with a haunting soundtrack by Gladiator’s Hans Zimmer and a well worked script by U-Turn’s John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave is a picture driven by some courageous actors giving staggering performances, the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor playing the lead of Solomon Northup, a family man snatched and sold into slavery, Michael Fassbender who plays Edwin Epps, a cruel plantation owner who whips and sexually abuses his slaves, and Lupita Nyong’o making her feature movie debut playing Patsey – McQueen uses his directing trait of intimate camera shots, taking the viewer as close to the action as possible, you almost feel the blood spraying from the backs of the victims as they are whipped and in some of the movie’s scenes you feel like you’re watching it all in slow motion, the camera pauses almost admiring it’s shot, a fine example of this is when when Northup is hung from a tree, his feet barley touching the floor, everything is going on about him whilst he struggles with every breath to stay alive – it’s great film-making allowing the viewer to feel the intimacy & at times suffocation of that particular scene, a technique all too evident in McQueen’s previous 2 pictures behind the camera – if I was being slightly negative I would have increased the movies run time slightly but overall 12 Years a Slave is Steve McQueen’s masterpiece, a beautifully shot, uncomfortable to watch epic and one that should be watched by all….