Todd & Viola find themselves on a perilous journey through the badlands of an unexplored planet as they try to escape a dangerous and disorienting reality : Not read any of the books written by Patrick Ness but as I’m a huge fan of Doug Liman’s visual filmmaking style and love these dystopian type of movies I delved straight in and was immediately blown away by the originality of CHAOS WALKING : once you get over the somewhat confusing “noise” element to the film you presented with a hugely enjoyable, quick paced, emotion led scifi thriller with terrific turns by Tom Holland as Todd, Mads Mikkelsen as the towns Mayor, Daisy Ridely as Viola and a shiver enducing performance by the wonderful David Oyelowo as the town’s preacher : I loved the film’s photography by World War Z’s Ben Seresin, wanted to give Manchee a good cuddle and anything Cynthia Erivo has delivered since her Widows debut in 2018 has been nothing short of incredible, her character Hildy is another eye popping turn : the surreal imagination of Patrick Ness matched with Liman’s science fiction thrill gave me quite a film watching experience, I’m now off to buy the books !! ★★★★½
Yet another screen favorite has passed away : the charismatic, cool as fuck YAPHET KOTTO has died aged 81, Yaphet was such a good actor, he made ordinary looking roles ICONIC giving life to such memorable characters such as Parker in Ridley Scott’s Alien, playing Laughlin alongside Arnie in the 80s scifi gem The Running Man, his brilliant turn as Alonzo Mosely in Midnight Run, Lieutenant Al Giardello in TVs Homicide and of course his villainous turn in 007s Live and Let Die as Mr Big : although it’s time to say goodbye to this wonderful talent his movies will always be there to bring pleasure to this cinephiles movie loving heart…..
During a vacation in the Catskills, an author and a stranger from a neighbouring cabin are thrown together after a power outage strikes the area : Both decide to pass the time by telling ghost stories which leads to chaos and their ultimate fears slowly starting to become reality : Josh Ruben’s Cabin in the Catskills horror movie SCARE ME is certainly my kind of movie jam, a slice of original horror that showcases the ability to scare whilst acting almost theatre like with it’s sharp and smart dialogue that’s executed in a fresh and creative style : Ruben and his co-star Aya Cash who’s energy matches the display she gives as Stormfront in the television show The Boys are outrageous, both feeding off each other like piranah’s with the movies ultimate payoff being delivered with satisfying style : I really dug how Ruben utilises the sound effects in the movie to enhance the visuals creating this scary vibe that’s deliciously atmospheric and adds so much to it’s horror telling, you just know something’s going to happen and it’s fun finding out when….. a low budget gem and one I feel would benefit from multiple viewings ★★★★
On her Birthday I’m remembering the beauty and talent of 30s Icon JEAN HARLOW who starred in films such as The Public Enemy alongside Jimmy Cagney, Frank Capra’s 1931 comedy Platinum Blonde, alongside Clark Gable in Red Dust, Howard Hughes war drama Hell Angels, Victor Fleming’s romantic comedy Blond Bombshell and her delightfully funny turn in Dinner at Eight : although Jean was taken way to early she made her mark in Hollywood as one of the funniest, sexiest and sweetest actresses of her era…. she was born on this day in 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri and was the first movie actress to appear on the cover of Life magazine : Jean Harlow made 36 movies and appeared alongside Clark Gable in six of them, she died aged 26 whilst making the 1937 movie Saratoga in which her last line spoken was “Good-bye” : her Hollywood star can be found at 6910 Hollywood Blvd….
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
When Lt. Artemis and her team of soldiers are taken from home into the belly of a new world, they find themselves in a battle for survival against an enemy with incredible size and power…. based on the video game by Capcom : take a pinch of Predator, Aliens and Starship Troopers and allow Resident Evil’s Paul WS Anderson to orchestrate proceedings and you’ve got this action fueled adventure movie MONSTER HUNTER : I’m of the camp that Anderson should direct all game to screen movies, alongside his real life wife and superstar action hero Milla Jovovich who always injects passion and so much energy into her roles they truly are the dreamteam of this style of action mayhem : like most of Anderson’s endeavours the entertainment is breakneck, the effects are staggering and the scenery including sand dunes and rock formations help create an amazing backdrop to which the film is set : I love the cast including Ron Perlman and the terrific Tony Jaa, boy that bone crunching fight scene with Milla is incredible, the most unlikely yet inspiring screen pairing both trying to boss the other and eventually earn each others respect is SUPERB : the creature designs are mind blowing and due to my fear of them I found the scenes with Artemis and her team in the underground lair of the spiders to be absolutley chilling, the humor of the Meowscular Chef and that Rathalos battle is mouth drooling : overall Monster Hunter is another BADASS futuristic scifi movie from Paul W. S. Anderson and I for one hope there’s a sequel in the works ★★★★
Two Cops track down a serial killer in California in the early 90s : Possibly my favorite movie sub-genre is the cat-and-mouse cop thriller, I just love them and when you throw together a crazy good 30yr old script by John Lee Hancock, an edgy, moody atmosphere that’s nail biting and character driven and three stonking good performances from Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto you have what I believe is one of the best adult themed cop thrillers in years : if your a fan of the action genre and like your finale spoon fed with a definitive resolution then I’d give it a miss, as the title refers it’s THE LITTLE THINGS in the movie that drive this thriller, quieter moments such as the moment Deke’s played by Denzel talks faith and breakfast with Rami’s Jimmy on the bridge over looking the latest crime scene, the emotion of Deke visiting his ex wife, Leto’s brilliance as his character Sparma teases Jimmy played by Malek in the desert and my favorite scene when Deke’s breaks into Sparma’s home looking for a clue is pertinent, gripping and well played by Denzel and Rami : I’ve watched the movie twice now and I’m still undecided whether they got the right guy, so much depth and baggage with each character, it’s just one of those movies that in ten years time will be hailed a classic ★★★★½
Whilst attending the scene of a crime two paramedics have an encounter with a drug that has bizarre, otherworldly effects : Moorehead and Benson’s latest slice of cinematic originality exceeded all my expectations and like Resolution, Spring and The Endless their newbie SYNCHRONIC blew my mind : like their previous endeavours this film has you talking, it’s a real humdinger of a story that involves time travel, it’s consequences and the bond between two friends that is tested to the max : Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan give strong performances as Steve & Dennis respectively who are not only best friends but are also working colleagues that stumble upon this drug, Steve has recently been told by a doctor that he has a brain aneurysm which will likely end his life sooner rather than later so decides to take one of these pills to see what happens… : their’s some terrific work behind the camera with New Orleans painted with a style and haunting beauty that it deserves, I also love the chemistry between the two leads, whether it be knocking a golf ball around or walking through those deserted streets the heart to heart moments involving Steve and Dennis are great in a bromantic kinda way, I love Hawkings and wasn’t too happy at what happened there and I love the mysterious X-Files tension that Ramiz Monsef’s character Kermani gives to the movie, that scene in Steve’s house is some crazy shit right there : Overall Synchronic is a movie that will no doubt divide, my view is that it’s originality, tension driven storytelling is someting that all movie fan would like more of, it’s a film that’s full of intrigue, carries a dynamic score, good performances and a fitting location to boot : THUMBS UP from this mad hatter ★★★★½
Although the great Burt Lancaster has been dead for over twenty six years his movies hold a special place in my heart as one of the true film legends of the screen, an iconic presence, cheeky smile and steely eyes that could melt or pierce a heart at a thousand paces : starting his career back in the late 40s in Robert Siodmak’s fantastic noir film The Killers Burt Lancaster went on to have a glorious movie career acting with Hollywood legends such as Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale and so many more : my absolute top four is a small sample in the excellence of his work and in truth I could name so many more movie gems that I consider bonafide classics, films such as The Professionals with the great Lee Marvin, 1968’s The Swimmer, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral alongside Kirk Douglas, Sweet Smell of Success with Tony Curtis, Sydney Pollack’s wonderful Castle Keep and John Frankenheimer’s The Train : my absolute favorite and it’s a Burt Lancaster film I’ve watched more than any other is 1960’s Elmer Gantry directed by Richard Brooks, the film went on to win 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Burt taking home the Best Actor that year : so if you’ve not seen many of his movies and fancy a trip back to time when acting legends were truly that then take a peek at some of the films mentioned : Hope you enjoyed another of my Absolute Top Four till the next one….
A couple get stranded in an abandoned 6-meter pool alongside a deadly Crocodile that has recently escaped captivity : I love watching world cinema and recently discovered the work of Thailand’s Ping Lumpraploeng an excellent writer/director who’s latest work THE POOL captured my imagination, so without further ado here’s my movie thoughts : Theeradej Wongpuapan is one of Thailand’s most popular stars and his performance in The Pool is one of the main reasons the movie is so damn watchable, from it’s opening shots of Wongpuapan’s character Day slowly opening his eye’s to find himself in the depths of the drained pool and as he tries to fend of the jaws of this gnarly crocodile with a bucket I knew instantly this would be my movie jam : what I really look for in a good survival movie is whether it’s filmmaker can bring something new to the party and keep the film from being the same old…. well Lumpraploeng’s The Pool is certainly not stale, it’s inventive and for it’s 90mins runtime your truly on the edge of your seat : I love the way the film shifts it’s dynamic and goes from Day’s crocodile attack at the beginning to “6 Days Earlier…” it’s quite brilliant as we not only discover how Day and Koi find themselves at the bottom of this abandoned pool but we also get the build up to the events of those opening survival shots : along with it’s cast and location another triumph in creating the film’s high anxiety levels is the film’s sound, of course the growl of the Crocodile or the crack of thunder is effective and nerve jangling but it’s the atmospheric score that really does ramp up the tension levels : some of my favorite moments in the movie include that scene with an injured Day crawling through the underground drain tunnels and manages to get through an adjacent manhole… also that moment when Day tries to retrieve the tape from the open jaws of the basking Crocodile is nail biting… in these type of movies you can usually call a few things before they happen but I have to say that what happens to Lucky the dog absolutley floored me, it came right out of the blue and what followed straight after was insane and tough to swallow : so if you love your survival movies then look no further than Ping Lumpraploeng excellent THE POOL it’s SUPERB and highly ENTERTAINING ★★★★
For me the rules of a great Festive Movie are quite simple : try and make the person who’s watching feel good, put a big Cheshire Cat smile on their face and spread that heartfelt message of love, hope and well wishes far & wide : each year around early December our home is full of Christmas Cheer and we love nothing more than to revisit some of our favorite movies : alternate festive treats such as Die Hard and Gremlins, classics of yesteryear such as The Goonies and Raiders but without question each and every year the Absolute Top Four always get a looking : Richard Donner’s magnificent Scrooged, Frank Capra’s emotionally acclaimed It’s a Wonderful Life, The Griswalds send me into hysterics in Christmas Vacation and Ron Howard magical family movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas : for me these movies embody everything that makes this time of year so special……. what’s you favorite festive movies?
Following the loss of their son in a freak accident, a retired sheriff and his wife leave their ranch in Montana to rescue their young grandson from the Weboys, a dangerous family living deep in the heart of the Dakotas : if it’s action or light hearted entertainment your after then Let Him Go is certainly not for you, the sombre tone throughout is backed up by it’s hard hitting narrative, you’d think you were watching something by Taylor Sheridan but instead it’s directed by Thomas Bezucha based on a novel written by Larry Watson and what an excellent job he does too : watching two old pros in Lane and Costner deliver screen magic by simply talking around a breakfast table, drinking a coffee whilst on a roadtrip or sleeping the night in an empty prison cell is what I call BLISS and luckily for me there’s plenty of character investment in Watson’s sombre driven story, a real hearty, honest picture that examines getting old, loosing loved ones, abuse and fighting for what you believe in no matter what the cost : one of my favorite moments in the movie is when George & Margaret arrive at the Weboy’s for dinner and sit around the table, it’s polite until it’s not and your just made to feel as uncomfortable as the characters in the scene watching it all play out : overall Let Him Go is a real belter of a movie, it’s a slow paced, character driven mystery western that delivers an intense final act with stunning photography and a powerhouse display by Lesley Manville as Blanche Weboy ★★★★½
After falling in love, an infamous bank robber known as the In-and-Out Bandit agrees to return all the money he has stolen in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when two unsavoury FBI agents set him up for murder, he has no option but to go on the run and clear his name : although the film’s storyline is predictable, similar to those that have come before it’s Liam Neeson’s presence & acting chops that carries the movie forward, still looking convincing in a genre he’s owned for the last ten years or more and that saying something considering the veteran turned sixty eight in June, he’s also well supported by his knockout co-star Kate Walsh who’s not only a delight to watch but the chemistry between the two is extremely evident from the moment their characters first meet in the storage facility, the scenes between the two are superb : there’s also Jeffrey Donovan’s FBI Agent and his pet dog who make for a great double act, Jai Courtney’s turn as a dirty agent is fun if not a little samey and the fight in the hotel room and subsequent chase scenes with the rogue FBI agents trying to catch their man are pacey and well filmed : I would have liked to have seen more of Robert Patrick but overall Honest Thief is an entertaining, well oiled and effective action thriller that I had fun with and enjoyed ★★★½
A filmmaker seeks solace from her down spiraling career in a remote New York lake house, hoping to find some good old fashioned inspiration : It’s only fitting in the strangest of years that we should have one of the strangest of movies : BLACK BEAR is certainly that, mixed with it’s weird and mind bending plot Lawrence Michael Levine’s film is incredibly frustrating, thought provoking and full of the most unlikeable characters in a movie this year, but somehow Levine pulls it off Albeit with the help of it’s stunning location and engaging cast including Christopher Abbott’s Gabe, Sarah Gadon’s Blair both of whom are annoyingly bodacious in that first segment, to say their relationship is stormy is putting it mildly and last but not least Aubrey Plaza who plays the lead role of Allison, along with Ingrid Goes West and Safety Not Guaranteed this is Aubrey Plaza at her captivating, irresistible best, especially in the movies second half where she finds herself as the lead actress, a bit of a diva in a feature film being directed by Gabe : Black Bear is one of those rare movies that I don’t quite understand what went on, although I’m guessing it went something along the lines of a washed up artist who is struggling to find work decides to take a break in remote Long Lake New York to reinvent herself and hopefully find some inspiration so in the movie Levine shows us what’s actually manifesting in Allison’s mind and how certain things may have played out…. it’s only my interpretation of the goings on in Black Bear but nevertheless the movie certainly scores extra points for the performance level and it’s intriguing narrative, as days later I still find myself thinking of what went on in that lake house and what happened to Allison and that big Black Bear ★★★★