Bill O’Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party as an informant for FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover : I didn’t know much about the Hampton story going in so Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah was as much of a history lesson as it was a fine slice of character driven, tense & moving story telling that is brilliant from it’s start to it’s unsavoury finale : along with it’s score, Chicago location and a rather brief yet compelling performance by Martin Sheen as Hoover, I’m still gushing over the intensity level that Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield brought to their respective roles, both actors are captivating on screen and how about the wonderful Dominique Fishback as Hampton’s girlfriend WOW what a strong & sensitive part she plays in giving heart to this true story set in the late 60s where there’s no real winner and the outcome was inevitable : I don’t know how much of King’s story is how it went down but the gunfight at the chapter office with O’Neal sneaking away, the scene in the car with O’Neal being interrogated by two BPP members suspicious of his antics and that sureal, heart stopping moment when Hampton and his Panthers meet with the Crowns are amongst the many highlights of this tremendous biopic : a MUST watch ★★★★
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 ★★★★
In 1943 during World War II, a mysterious lady Maude Garrett climbs aboard a B-17 Bomber called The Fool’s Errand, during the flight the Errand is attacked by a Japanese War Plane and then suddenly Maude spots something lurking in the clouds…. as she’s travelling with with top-secret documents and a mostly male chauvinistic crew, Maude finds herself alone and it’s upto her to save the day : SHADOW IN THE CLOUD has a familiar tone reminding me a little of that episode of the Twilight Zone titled “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “The Mission” episode in Amazing Stories, I never give too much away with my reviews but there’s no doubt that these episodes were an inspiration to Liang’s strangely bizzare, spooky and tension ridden picture : I loved it’s animated private snafu intro, it’s atmospheric synth score, the snappy runtime and even it’s bizzare plot that’s fractured, ridiculous and a tad crazy in a decent sort of way : maybe Roseanne Liang’s re-writes of Max Landis original script had a lot to do with the way the movie feels slightly disjointed, as the film ends up becoming this insanely cross-genre of World War II mystery and scifi creature flick that works on some level but also feels rather confusing if not wildly entertaining : is the movie worth watching? the answer is most certainly yes !! the early parts are gripping as we follow Maude and that mysterious box she carries onto the bomber (what’s in the box?), I love the locker posters at the beginning (keep your eyes peeled) and when the film switches tact and it’s direction goes one way and another it’s action is sublime and effects tremendous with Chloë Grace Moretz and a rather wildly out of place yet scintillating score giving Shadow in the Cloud this watchable vibe and allowing us to see the promise in Roseanne Liang as an action helmer for bigger and better things to come ★★★½
Maud, a newly devout hospice nurse, becomes obsessed with saving her dying patient’s soul : Saviour Maud….. YIKES !! from those traumatic early shots of Maud sat on the floor with her hands covered in blood to that unthinkable, unforgettable beach scene SAINT MAUD is one of the more haunting movie treats I’ve seen in years : the direction and psycho religious script by Glass is quite something and it’s dark shadowy, neon lit imagery that’s shot in and around Scarborough really does match the director’s tone and vision, for me reminiscent of some of the scenes out of Bigelow’s Near Dark, the mood is muggy yet essential and it’s ultimate effect is utterly unsettling : Maud played by Morfydd Clark goes all Annie Wilkes in her obsession with Amanda who’s played by Jennifer Ehle : suffering from a past trauma Maud is unstable, her belief in this holy possession driving her forward is exhilarating yet chilling and having the pleasure in watching Morfydd Clark for eighty minutes inhabit and capture this darkness is a vision in itself : so movie fans if you love a slow burn horror with scenes of cockroaches, bloody images, levitation, visions of christ and death by scissors then Saint Maud the film debut of Rose Glass will tender your every needs ★★★★½
“Why not six, Blake? Why not me?” (John Carpenter’s The Fog) : always sad to loose an actor who’s body of work spans the decades, who’s roles in films such as All the President’s Men, Magnum Force, Rituals, The Fog and so many more still make an impression on me to this day…
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
It’s with a heavy heart that we hear of the passing of one of the screen’s brightest and funniest stars in Cloris Leachman : for me her more memorable roles came with playing the likes of Ruth in The Last Picture Show for which she won the Academy Award, the hilarious Maw Maw in Raising Hope, her scene stealing film debut in Kiss Me Deadly, Madame Defarge in History of the World, Part I and of course my personal favorite Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein : Cloris had a wonderful and varied career including eight Primetime Emmy Awards from 22 nominations, making her the most nominated awarded actress in Emmy history : she will be sorely missed down here, but up there a party is about to begin….
One day on vacation with his wife Scott Carey gets exposed to a mysterious cloud of radiation and insecticide, six months later he starts to shrink, the doctors are helpless and Scott finds himself spiriling downwards into a world of unthinkable madness : Every year I submerge myself in the classic scifi of yester-year, and in my opinion they don’t come much bigger or better than the 1957 Universal Picture The Incredible Shrinking Man : the movie is a tremendous adaption of Richard Matheson’s 1956 novel The Shrinking Man and is brought to the screen by the master of 50s science fiction Jack Arnold who previously directed three gems of the era 1953’s It Came from Outer Space, 1954’s atmospheric Creature from the Black Lagoon & the scary 1955 gem that is Tarantula : although each of these are classics in their own right I just felt The Incredible Shrinking Man has this captivating aura surrounding it, a quite stunning movie with mind boggling & creative effects that are unbelievable, I can only imagine what it was like to sit in a movie theatre in 1957 watching Scott start to shrink into his new world of danger and uncertainty, it must have been watched with wide eyed terror : the acting in the movie is top notch too with Randy Stuart & April Kent catching the eye but it’s a terrific, athletic turn by Grant Williams that makes you believe, reminding me of a young Burt Lancaster with those scenes in the basement which were shot on Stage 12 of Universal Studios being quite unforgettable as Scott fights off floods, starvation and a deadly black widow spider : the end to the movie left me cold, it’s one of those scenes you want more from, your left saddened by what transpires but are ultimately in agreeance that it could not of ended any other way : rewatching some of the CLASSIC universal stock from the 50’s makes me wish I was from that time, an era full of ICONIC science fiction horror that opens up your imagination & consumes you with excitement and wonder : so if you’ve never delved into the past for your movie fix then what are you waiting for? start with Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man and you can thank me later….. ★★★★★
A teenager uses her wits & survival skills to fight for her life, and help those around her against a group of terrorists : Don’t you just love it when you discover a new film that you haven’t seen any promotional material for, not even a poster or trailer? Kyle Rankin’s RUN HIDE FIGHT really got under my skin, from it’s creepy protagonist and alarming relativity to the film’s dark and twisted narrative, realising that this could happen to you or your loved ones really gave this Die Hard-esque action movie one helluva kick : I love the way Rankin sets the tone early with Isabel May’s Zoe going all Nic Cage on a deer whilst out on a hunt with her dad played by Thomas Jane, the film’s backstory is given an early gut punch too as we get to discover more about Zoe’s state of mind and those touching scenes that involve Radha Mitchell who plays Zoe’s mum are quite sublime : loved the small roles from some of my favorite actors of yester-year including Barbara Crampton who plays Mrs Crawford and Treat Williams turn as the Sheriff, Rankin’s story is tight and ramped with tension and hats off to debutant Olly Sholotan who’s superb in an eye catching turn as Zoe’s bestie Lewis : overall Run Hide Fight is a gritty, disturbing and violent action movie that tackles the ugly reality of domestic terrorism in an ever so slighlty unrealistic movie sort of way : EXCELLENT ★★★★
A young woman seeks vengeance against those who committed an unforgiveable act to a friend from her past : Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut Promising Young Woman is one of the most relevant, impactful and though provoking movies that I’ve ever seen : WOW the colors, the quaint coffee shop and the Britney Spears vibe HOOKED ME and it’s darkness and originality and that devistating final act that really caught me offguard, that left me fighting for breath, cold and SPEECHLESS : with iconic roles in her rear view mirror such as Irene in Drive, Daisy in The Great Gatsby and Cathy in Never Let Me Go Carey Mulligan never ceases to amaze me with her ability to make a character her own and in Cassandra she teases, she smiles and ultimately destroys you with her actions and although the film has some flashes of humor and lighter romantic moments such as Mulligan & Burnham singing along to Paris Hilton’s Stars are Blind in the convience store it’s the way the film delivers it’s key moments such as when Cassandra visits Dean Walker at the school, a squeaky bum scene delivered with the impact of a freight train, I was like WTF hands to the mouth whispering to myself she’s not has she? and that cafe scene with Madison and what follows, Alison Brie is growing into quite the actress and what follows is truly terrifying yet rewarding in a bizzare fuck you sort of way : LOVE Jennifer Coolidge & Clancy Brown who are PERFECT as the parents and Laverne Cox is fabulous as Cassandra’s friend and boss at the coffee shop but essentially Promising Young Woman is all about Carey Mulligan and it’s WICKIDLY good story about ACCOUNTABILITY ★★★★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 ★★★★
Two former baseball players find themselves alone, fighting for survival against zombies in an apocayptic world : As you can probably guess from my website and social media nothing pleases me more than watching a movie made with a low budget that are usually refreshingly original and from filmmakers I’ve never heard of before, so when a friend first recommended I check out 2012’s THE BATTERY by Jeremy Gardner I had to take a peek : apparently the movie only cost $6,000 to make with Gardner and a bunch of friends helping to finance and bring it to the screen : The Battery follows a rather simple yet engrossing storyline centered around two ordinary guys Ben & Mickey who find themselves thrown together in a world ravaged by the undead, watching this strained relationship take a road trip of sorts across Connecticut is all kind of messed up fun with Ben seeming quite content moving from place to place killing any zombies that cross their path (and seeming to enjoy it too) and Mickey a virgin in the kill department (frankly a bit of a moaning pussy) just shutting himself off from reality by listening to music through his headphones, which slowly but surely annoys Ben to the point of some rather delightful WTF senario’s including the moment he locks Mickey in his bedroom with a zombie to hilarious consequences and the time Ben steals Mickey’s headphones is so out there, other scenes that tickled me sideways for different reasons include Mickey’s masturbation scene that had me in hysterics (don’t judge until you’ve seen it) and Ben singing Anthem For The Already Defeated whilst under the influence which I didn’t see coming but was rather superb : overall The Battery really is one for the ages, a creatively fun take on the genre that I can highly recommend with Gardner’s humor, acting chops & musical score really adding so much to it’s memorability ★★★★
A devout community suffering from a plague is torn apart by a beautiful young woman and the forces of witchcraft and possession : I do love me a good folk horror movie, with the likes of Witchfinder General, Blood on Satans Claw, The Witch amongst my favorites in the genre, films that oooze the occult, darkly bewitched by supernatural elements, carry the stench of an evil force fighting against or part of a religious group and there usually set in some sort of rural farm community or isolated island in the middle of nowehere : Thomas Robert Lee’s The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is another such movie, one that evokes a slow burn foreboding with flashes of unsettling scenes alongside it’s dark and eerie setting : the story in the movie is fine but does get a bit messy in parts and some it’s characters are a little underused but nevertheless there’s a trio of very strong performances from the likes of Catherine Walker who plays Agatha, Catherine was excellent in Liam Gavin’s very scary horror movie A Dark Song, Jared Abrahamson who was last seen in American Animals and Jessica Reynolds in her movie debut gives a haunting painful display as Audrey : I really felt for poor Bridget in the movie played by the wonderful Hannah Emily Anderson, she first looses her child and then this hideous curse is placed upon her to devistating effect, the tooth scene, shaving blade and that moment with the sheep is very upsetting : the idea of transporting Audrey in a box as not to be seen by the towns folk was terrific, as was the idea of Agatha’s land only producing crops, I also found the film’s sets and lighting superbly effective throughout : so overall if your a fan of these slow building, folk horror movies then The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw will thrill and chill your bones : LOVED IT ★★★★