Four African-American vets return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their friend and fallen Squad Leader and the gold he helped them hide – Back in 2013 after watching the Oldboy remake I honestly thought the great Spike Lee maybe past it, possibly spent as a filmmaker and only to be reveared for past glories…. In 2018 he delivered one of the best movies of that year in BlacKkKlansman and today in his first outing with Netflix Spike Lee has once again rolled back the years…. DA 5 BLOODS is not only an exceptional picture but it’s a timely history lesson that’s high on emotion, tense as a butt cheek in a landmine, a riverting adventure romp and one of Lee’s more violent and ambitious movie Joints to date – Rather than the deaging of actors (like Scorsese did in The Irishman) Spike Lee decided on a different and in my opinion more refreshing approach seeing the old guard play their younger selves in the film’s flashbacks which helped the film’s narrative and was exciting to watch, the music from the grand master Marvin Gaye, the message throughout of Love over Hate and shooting on location in Vietnam gave Da 5 Bloods it’s heartbeat…. and did I mention Delroy “Mother Fucking” Lindo in his fourth collaboration with Lee and in my opinion his best, Lindo’s character Paul is an all kinds of messed up, racist war vet that harbor’s a secret, his performance reminds me of Bogey in Sierra Madre as you watch his character slowly unravel in quite a devistating way – Overall there can be no doubt Spike Lee is back making film’s that connect with it’s audience in an entertaining, shocking yet relevant way ★★★★½
Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine, Logan and now FORD v FERRARI James Mangold’s thrill ride, a 7,000 RPM adrenaline fueled, pulsating ENERGY packed racing movie that sees Matt Damon deliver a career best, Christian Bale in infectious form, Caitriona Balfe delivering one of the film’s best moments and the race scenes WOW their pure dynamite – for me 2019 is the best year of the decade for cinematic treasures and this film continues the trend in leaving me speechless and rather emotional as I left my seat at the big screen – obviously the Le Mans track has changed through the years since the 60s so how on earth did James Mangold and his team recreate the movies focal point? it’s just mind boggling, the camera work by the Greek cinematographer Phedon Papamichael is sublime, his work in creating that claustrophobic yet thrilling car racing scenes is pure brilliance but for me the main reason this movie succeeds is it’s cast who are simply magnetic – what a movie and a ride you don’t wana miss on the big screen ★★★★★
Two Mercenaries played by Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal get caught in the middle of an ancient war between Chinese Warrior’s guarding The Great Wall and an angry mob of Alien Monsters that appear to cause mayhem every 60yrs….
The Great Wall is the most expensive Chinese movie ever made, it stars Jing Tian, Andy Lau, Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal and is directed by the visual master Zhang Yimou known for his work on House of the Flying Daggers and Hero….
Before I get on with my thoughts on this movie I must address the fact that there is NO whitewashing in this movie AT ALL so any controversy regarding Matt Damon’s character that happens to be set in China is sadly an attempt for those with plenty of time on there hands to be negative towards a movie that they’ve probably not seen in the first place….
OK now on to the good stuff – If like me you enjoy the fix of a well paced, epic scale action movie that’s jam packed with dazzling effects & inventive, colorful battle scenes then Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall is just what your looking for – what the picture may lack in overall substance it certainly delivers in beauty & creativity – the film’s 3D adds a stunning depth and also gave me a sense of vertigo whist watching certain scenes, especially those where the Chinese Warriors would dive off the Great Wall attached to a rope (like a bungee) attempting to spear the attacking monsters, now that’s some crazy shit right there and was pulled off by Zhang in impressive style – when the hoards of these mean & nasty looking monsters start storming the Wall, snapping like crocodiles it reminded me so much of when the Orc Army attacked Minas Tirith in Peter Jackson’s epic Return of the King, the CGI in the movie is sensational & I felt submerged, part of the action whilst watching in IMAX – the screen is magnificent and it enhances everything in it’s path from the stunning effects, the beauty & tenacity of Jing Tian, Matt Damon’s archery & wild facial hair, the incredible battle scenes and it’s rousing atmospheric score….
From it’s lavish synchronized drummers, hair-raising action sequences and pulse-raising final quarter The Great Wall is a triumph in film entertainment – be honest with yourself if you pay to go and see this film then you must love your action right? and you know your not going to the cinema to watch Opera or Shakespeare right? HELL YEAH come on !! this is a Magnificent Monster Movie, one that’s loud, explosive and pretty awesome fun – so go on take a leap, immerse yourself & ENJOY…. ★★★★
I first came across the name Mario Van Peebles when he starred alongside Clint Eastwood in 1986’s Heartbreak Ridge and then watched his rather enjoyable directorial debut New Jack City about Drugs and Crime Lords in Harlem at the end of the 80’s that starred Wesley Snipes – since 1991 Van Peebles has built up an impressive CV behind the camera, directing many episodes of popular TV shows including 21 Jump Street, Damages & Lost, he has also directed numerous films and starred in many too – his latest film behind the camera is USS Indianapolis that stars Nicolas Cage and is the true, heartbreaking story about the US battle ship that was on a secret mission when sunk by the Japanese in World War II, the sinking of the ship was the least of the crews worries as they tried to overcome the cold, shark infested waters in an attempt to survive….
I’m no historian, I just enjoy movies and Mario Van Peebles latest about the USS Indianapolis hooked me from it’s onset – with cinematography by Pulp Fiction’s Andrzej Sekuła who does a grand job keeping things real especially those interior shots on-board the ship as it’s sinking and the battle the crew encounter on the rafts in the Philippine Sea is dramatic and well shot – the films cast including Cage, Sizemore, Tate and Lanter do a superb job, managing to capture those Men of Courage with their performances, Sizemore especially some small but terrific scenes in the movie
USS INDIANAPOLIS is not a polished Hollywood epic, it’s special effect could have been slightly better BUT overall it’s an excellent, heart driven picture that not only honors the memories of those fallen but makes you think about the perils of War and it’s consequences ★★★★
from the South Korean master of terror Kim Jee-woon comes The Age of Shadows a gangster movie set in the 1920’s, the movie follows the activities of the Heroic Corps, an anti-Japanese independence organization that existed under the Japanese colonial period in South Korea. The group used violent means to achieve Korean independence – if you’ve not seen any of Kim Jee-woon’s movies then start with 2010’s epic, nail biting I Saw the Devil it will give you a taste of what this cult movie director is all about, his brand of Asian Cinema is top draw, all are well acted, visually stunning pictures that usually nail your ass to your seat and don’t give you time to breathe until the films final conclusion – he often collaborates with superstars Lee Byung-hun and Song Kang-ho and both star in his latest The Age of Shadows here’s the trailer, enjoy but don’t forget to check out Kim’s other movies such as The Good, the Bad, the Weird, A Tale of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life all terrific pictures that deserve your time….
War Dogs is the unbelievable true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who somehow manage to land a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan – This film is certainly a change of pace for Hangover director Todd Phillips, War Dogs is peppered with delicious humor, stunning cinematography and genius casting but it’s also a pretty dark, intense picture that will have you shaking your head in disbelief at what actually went on, and although some of the story the film is based around has been slightly changed for movie purposes what actually follows is an incredible ride, a ride that’s not only witty, compelling and utterly riveting but one that’s scary as hell – Overall: to spend nearly two hours in the cinema watching a masterclass in acting by Teller & Hill who seem to effortlessly bounce off each other, their energy electric working that insane, exciting War Dogs script was such a joy – two of my favorite scenes from the movie are when the guys travel to Jordan in an attempt to transport their arms to Baghdad (what follows is not only absurdly funny but it also contains some ass twitching moments), the second scene is when Jonah Hill’s Efraim goes all Tony Montana on some local Miami drug dealers (just one of them magical movie moments where the packed cinema erupts with laughter and you just wish you had a remote in your hand to play that moment back) – I had lot’s of fun watching Todd Phillips War Dogs it’s a gem of a movie and one that I can’t wait to watch many more times ★★★★
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
Here’s some fantastic footage of Gareth Edwards latest Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – this 3 minute clip is an absolute treat for us fans of this universe and whets the appetite for the movies upcoming release in December – the films cast include Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikklesen, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk & Forest Whitaker the impression I get from these clips is that Rogue One appears to be more practical film-making, less CGI than say The Force Awakens and more in style of the original Lucas trilogy, the action and storyline looks fabulous and the return of old favourite Darth Vader will get us fanboys buzzing like a turned on light sabre – take a peek at the trailer below and enjoy (I have already watched it 3 times it’s so damn good)
Nowhere near as magical as its 2013 original but the introduction of the energetic Lula May played by the bubbly & hilarious Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe’s turn as Walter Maybry allows film-maker Jon Chu enough intrigue & thrill to pull this sequel out of the bag – and although in my opinion the film contains way too much CGI, not enough practical magic and maybe Daniel Radcliffe’s creepy demeanour was a little underused I still found enough in this sequel to enjoy, have lots of fun with and look forward to a possible third outing for The Four Horseman ★★★½
My latest venture to the cinema was to watch John Crowley’s immigrant drama BROOKLYN based on the novel by Colm Tóibín and starring a young lady that in my opinion is the Best Young Actress of her generation Saoirse Ronan
“Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant who leaves her home town, to live in 1950s Brooklyn. After the initial shackles of homesickness Eilis begins to find her feet, she starts a new job, an exciting education and falls into a romance with a boy from the city. But soon, her new life is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between the two countries and the lives that exist within”
It’s fair to say my draw to watching Brooklyn on the big screen was Saoirse Ronan, I’d not read Tóibín‘s book and the director Crowley’s previous movies have not caught my imagination and to be truly honest I thought them average at best. But it was an actress I have been following since 2007’s Atonement, the American born but raised in Ireland Saoirse Ronan that drew to me to watching Brooklyn at the cinema, and boy she’d didn’t disappoint either – Ronan doesn’t have to say much to convey the pain or joy she is feeling during the movie, her emotions can be found in her eyes & face, the power she wields with her expressions tells you more than a thousand words – but in fairness Brooklyn has some other really good performances, Emory Cohen who plays the young dreamy Italian Tony is fabulous, he’s a delightful young actor who’s mannerism’s & appearance suck you in allowing you to believe in the romance between himself and Ronan’s Eilis, their chemistry is gorgeous to watch – also deserving of a mention is the magnificent Julie Walters who plays Mrs. Kehoe the landlady in Brooklyn who’s house Eilis stays in, although Walter’s screen time is limited her character gives necessary warmth & humor to the overall film.
Overall: At its finale Brooklyn leaves you feeling elated, its a film you want to re-watch and one you wish to tell all & sundry about, it’s a simple story of life, family & finding ones home and although it’s early in his career I feel this could be John Crowley’s masterpiece – due it’s fabulous screenplay by Nick Hornby the movie is full of every emotion, a lump in my throat during one scene, laughing at Julia Walters in the next, the film really does give you this emotional roller coaster ride as you join Eilis Lacey on her journey of self discovery – I know some people are put off by watching this style of movie at the cinema but trust me Yves Bélanger’s gorgeous photography and an acting masterclass by Saoirse Ronan are reason enough to visit Brooklyn on the big screen – it’s memorable, well acted & well directed by Crowley give it a go, you won’t be disappointed ★★★★½
Paul Rudd on the Set of 2015’s Superhero Movie ANT-MAN
Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry on the Movie set of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand
Filmmaker Peter Jackson and Naomi Watts on the Movie set of 2005’s King Kong
Charlize Theron and George Miller on the Movie set of Mad Max: Fury Road
So finally the wait is over and I have returned from an exciting, exhausting double bill of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol & the latest Spy Adventure in the series Rogue Nation
“Ethan and the IMF team light the fuse once more and take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating a rogue organisation known simply as The Syndicate”
Mission Impossible Rogue Nation is SEXY, INTELLIGENT & ELECTRIFYING Tom Cruise shows why at the age of 53 he’s still one of the greatest action stars of his generation, he not only looks the part of super spy Ethan Hunt, but he’s an actor who appears fearless, completing death defying stunts, making the whole experience more believable and enjoyable – in the movie he’s well supported by newcomer Rebecca Ferguson who totally owns her role, killing it in the frantic & exhilarating fight scenes, and giving her character Ilsa Faust a dynamic of mystery, flair and beauty, Ilsa’s fantastic opening scene not only illustrates her intentions in the movie but also sets the tone of what’s to come – Simon Pegg returns as annalist Benji and is on top form cracking some great one liners & taking on a more action orientated role in which he handles deliciously well – as a big fan it would be rude of me not to mention the bloody brilliant Sean Harris who nails the villainous Lane, according to director McQuarrie Harris wasn’t too keen on a role in the movie but I am so glad he changed his mind as he’s not only a superb actor but gives Rogue Nation one hell of a formidable foe for Hunt & the team to deal with.
Christopher McQuarrie who co-wrote & directed Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation deserves a lot of the credit, his script & direction is smart, exciting & barrels of fun & in my humble opinion it’s one of this years best experiences at the movies – other members of McQuarrie’s team on the movie should be applauded none more so than master cinematographer and Oscar Winner Robert Elswit who’s work on Rogue Nation is pretty impressive, he’s great vision, the films action scenes are insane, beautifully shot especially the car & bike chases, Hunt hanging from the plane and of course the underwater (don’t run out of oxygen) scene that had me biting my nails, labored breathing like I was actually in the tank with Cruise
Overall: Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation is exciting, pulse raising, rip roaring cinematic fun that had me screaming for the next chapter whilst leaving the cinema, Cruise is far from this washed up star some idiot critics declared a few years back and has produced his best work yet on this franchise – you will be hard pushed to find a better summer blockbuster ENJOY ★★★★½
The Homesman (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
“I Wish You Would Say One Kind Word To Me”
Director: Tommy Lee Jones – Cast: Hilary Swank, Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, John Lithgow, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, William Fichtner and James Spader – Synopsis: Three women who have been driven mad by pioneer life are to be transported across the country by Mary Bee Cuddy (Swank), who in turn employs low-life drifter George Briggs (Lee Jones) to assist her – Overall: Hilary Swank gives a towering performance as Mary Bee Cuddy a no-nonsense, independent farmer from Nebraska, Swank manages to humanize her character, capturing her weaknesses, her overwhelming loneliness but also her ability to stand up as equal to the male characters in the movie, it’s Swank who ignites The Homesman it’s a truly remarkable and haunting display that burrows deep beneath your skin – it’s a level of performance I feel that only a handful of today’s actresses could actually pull off – along with starring as the quirky drifter George Briggs Tommy Lee Jones orchestrates masterfully behind the camera delivering us a Grimm, Unusual yet Enthralling Western, it’s a film stacked with brutal realism, a dark subject matter & without being over exploitive it succeeds in shocking & surprising allowing its powerful message to be told with an intelligent hand – The movies stunning cinematography is captured by Rodrigo Prieto (Brokeback Mountain) who brings the vast emptiness of the West alive and adds to the pictures devastating and overall bleak narrative, this combined with Marco Beltrami’s wonderful & at times heart wrenching score, loads of wonderful cameo’s the best being James Spader’s arrogant Irish Hotel Owner unwisely pissing off Briggs being one of the best and possibly one of the craziest (didn’t see that coming) moments in cinematic history makes Tommy Lee Jones The Homesman a must watch and one of the best western’s for many a year !!
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….