AMERICAN MADE (2017) : Doug Liman
Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Jesse Plemons
on the Movie Screen TOM CRUISE has few equals, the man is a bonefied action star, a charasmastic movie magnet, a film icon and in my eyes one of the Greatest Movie Stars that’s ever lived – ok so now I have that off my chest what did I make of his second movie with filmaker Doug Liman AMERICAN MADE is a film based around a true story of pilot come drug runner Barry Seal – films that fly under the radar & deliver the goods are few and far between yet American Made succeeds big time – from the time I sat in my seat in the jam packed screening to it’s final credits time flew – there’s a darkness, a terrifying story being told yet you can’t help but smile, laugh and at time clap your way through proceedings, the pace is electric, the locations pleasing on the eye and attention to detail superb – it seems Liman and Cruise are a match made in movie heaven and with this being there second picture together only whets the lips for a third ★★★★
BLADE RUNNER 2049 : Denis Villeneuve
Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis
In 1982 Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was one of my first Science Fiction crushes, it’s still in My Top 20 movies of all time so when I heard a sequel was coming, I was sceptical but then something changed….. it was announced that Canadian filmmaker Denis VILLENEUVE was set to direct, the talent behind some of my favorite movies in recent years Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival and I instantly knew that this film when it arrived would be worthy of the name Blade Runner – and as I’m sat here typing my thoughts, still giddy with the excitment felt viewing the movie for the second time with a little Hans Zimmer playing in the background I’m actually struggling to find the words on how bloody great Blade Runner 2049 actually is – it’s a picture that’s more than a homage laid sci-fi sequel, this is filmmaking on a grand scale, Deakins use of color and light is quite overwhelming, a small but fine example of this is them early scenes between K and Morton, the way the scene is lit, it’s mood that’s transformed to the screen adds greatly to this tense, titanic and very relevant encounter – along with the movies obvious masterclass in sound & imagery Blade Runner 2049 is a film that carries a wicked cast, with 4 amazing ladies hugging the limelight and making this sequel extra special – Ana de Armas is eye catching as hologram Joi, so much so you start to believe she’s actually real – Mackenzie Davis is simply WOW as street girl Mariette with her homage strewn outfit and amazing hairstyle – and then there’s Lt. Joshi a tough ass cop played by the remakable Robin Wright who’s perfectly cast and last but not least Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks who is MESMERISING as Niander Wallace’s creation Luv, she’s quite the badass and those scenes with K near the end of the movie are so unbelievable I left half my finger nails in the arm of the chair – Overall Blade Runner 2049 is not only the best movie sequel since Cameron’s Aliens it’s also a thought provoking slice of original storytelling that sucks you in, captivates and excites like no other movie has this year ★★★★½
TOBE HOOPER (1943-2017) – directed one of the truly great films of our time, and in my eyes the scariest, most brutal raw ride into terror that i’ve witnessed – THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE stills gives me chills as it did when I first came across it as kid watching it on video over a friends whilst his parents were at work – I was HORRIFIED it gave me NIGHTMARES but it also started my love affair with all things horror – you will be missed but your legacy of horror such as TEXAS, THE FUN HOUSE, SALEM’S LOT, LIFEFORCE and POLTERGEIST will continue to entertain and inspire a new legion of fans forever…..
the gravelly voice, handsome looks and steely gut driven performances is what I think of when someone mentions SAM SHEPARD yet this guy had so much more in his locker, a talented playwright, a veteran of the stage and writing credits that include the sublime film Paris, Texas – in recent times we had the pleasure of Sam’s acting talent as papa Rayburn in the brilliant Bloodline and although his screen time was limited his quality in each scene shone through – for me my favourite Sam Shepard roles include Thunderheart, The Assassination of Jesse James and of course the brilliant The Right Stuff – he will be missed down here but I’m pretty darn sure that he’ entertaining the masses up there….
For those of you who follow me on social media or read this movie blog you will know by now that I adore Ridley Scott, his movies and all things Alien but in recent years I have been quite vocal on this legendary directors fall from the dizzy heights of yesteryear to churning out such ordinary movies, average affairs such as Robin Hood, The Counselor, Exodus: Gods and Kings and the pretty dismal Prometheus – I am so conflicted, the one side of me is so grateful to this legendary filmmaker for giving us so many iconic movies but the other side keeps asking the question “why does Ridley Scott continue to direct such sub par movies? take a leaf out of Tarantino and Cameron’s book, maybe direct a film every few years instead of every year?” it’s my opinion that these films will only tarnish his brilliant reputation – I really had hoped that Ridley had turned the corner back in 2015, I absolutley loved The Martian with Matt Damon this was a real return to form from a director in need of some resurection so when it was announced that a new Alien movie was in production a sequel to the dreadful Prometheus nevertheless I was pumped, excited and looking forward to maybe a new chapter in this great series of scifi indulgence…..
Sadly for me though Alien Covenant was not what I hope it would be, yes it was better than Prometheus (well that wasn’t hard now was it) and yes maybe over the last 10yrs The Martian aside it’s one of his better efforts but overall it was a big screen blockbuster that left me feeling flat, it was way too predictable, contained some shitty CGI that made the overall production feel shoddy and unpolished and although Covenant had it’s moments it’s narrative tried to over complicate things so the reasons why we loved the original movies were lost in this world, a franchise that was slowly becoming more about the androids than anything else – Ridley also thought it was a good idea to go all mystical on our asses so inserted some really strange Obi Wan moments featuring David from Prometheus, living like an old wise hermit in a cave, listening to wind chimes and blowing his flute delivering lines such as “you blow and I will do the fingering” I just found all this mumble jumble embarrassing, out of place and lacking any sort of vision, suspense and was almost laughable at times….
I am not saying that Alien Covenant as a movie is a complete disaster, for me it’s not got that Ridley Scott stamp on it – McBride and Fassbender are both terrific in their respective roles and some of the nice homages to previous movies were great to see but overall Covenant felt like a bad dream a two a penny slasher that felt like a rehash of the original movie that is desperately trying to emulate all the things that worked such as (face huggers, chest bursters, acid for blood and so on) yet delivering it all with no panach and most importantly zero tension, yeah it’s a shit load more violent than it’s predecessors but that’s nothing to be proud about, what made 1979’s Alien so damn good was it’s slow burning tension that’s gnaws away at you but with Covenant you feel nothing – most of the films undoing in my opinion is it’s lack of humanity I felt so disconnected to the crew of the ship, the characters in the movie were not developed enough so when they slowly start getting picked off I actually felt very little for them, I was numb and that overall summed up my experience with this movie at it’s finale – I just hope Ridley doesn’t out stay his welcome and he lets go of the Alien reigns and allows a new filmmaker to bring some fresh ideas to this much loved franchise ……★★★½
If you take D’J Caruso’s latest movie with a pinch of salt (remember when 80s action was cool?) then I guarantee two things you will have shit loads of fun & you will leave the cinema with a nice big smile…
This is the third movie in the spy franchise xXx: Return of Xander Cage “After returning from a self-imposed exile, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) must recover an evil known only as Pandora’s Box before the bad guys uses this weapon for mass destruction “ – Alongside action star Vin Diesel the films mind blowingly awesome cast also includes Donnie Yen, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Deppika Padukone and Samuel L Jackson….
You know what I really dug about this movie?…. the insane amount of action, high octane totally bonkers fight scenes and the films ability not to take itself too serious – it’s all about entertainment and from that stance it most certainly succeeds – I mean come on how on earth can you not enjoy watching Xander Cage ski down a hillside weaving through trees and shit followed by some incredible skate boarding whilst shooting bad guys? that incredible moment when Xander faces off against Donnie Yen’s Xiang in a “holy shit that just happened” wave tunnel? the many hand to hand combat scenes mostly too epic to discuss? the return of an old friend in a great warehouse shootout and so many more delicious, breathless, relentless moments that fulfill the movies ultimate quest in giving it’s audience such an unbelievable cinematic buzz….
OK so listen up – xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not going to sweep the Oscars anytime soon, it’s not even gonna reinvent the genre, and it’s script won’t be compared to Schindler’s List or the like so if that’s what your expecting when buying a ticket at the box office then please be warned this slice of action pie is not for you – going to see this movie is like attending a party you will be expected to have fun right, enjoy oneself and remember regardless of what Bond style shit goes down this is only a movie – along with it’s crazy action madness watching Vampire Diaries’s Nina Dobrev playing a ditzy “Q” type character with a sense of humor and that damn fine Aussie Ruby Rose hanging from a tree shooting bad guys didn’t half raise the pulse, two ladies having so much fun & both so bloody good in their respective roles….
xXx: Return of Xander Cage is movie escapism at it’s finest, a COOL as f@ck action movie that made me smile from the opening 5 minutes to it’s end credits – D’J Caruso should sign up for a fourth movie so let’s make it happen and the sooner the better…. ★★★★
Since his directorial debut with 2007’s Gone Baby Gone actor/director Ben Affleck has gone from strength to strength, behind the camera he’s quite the visionary demonstrating flare and confidence in the style of pictures he brings to the screen, usually gritty no nonsense affairs packed with actors who can act and stories that connect….
Affleck’s latest sees him re team with author Dennis Lehane who not only wrote Affleck’s first Gone Baby Gone but also Eastwood’s Mystic River and Scorsese’s Shutter Island….
During the prohibition era in the 1920s a couple of Boston Gangsters travel down to Florida and attempt to take down the competition….
OK so here’s what I think – LIVE BY NIGHT may not be as polished as Argo or as intriguing as The Town but it’s certainly a more exciting, good looking character driven movie than both – it’s story is riveting, sprawling at times, it’s cast is nearly as beautiful as Robert Richardson’s stunning cinematography and it’s action scene’s especially the car chase scenes and the hotel’s shoot out toward the film’s finale is pretty slick and makes for exciting viewing on the big screen – Elle Fanning gives yet another star turn, Chris Cooper is the dogs bollocks and Chris Messina turns in a career best as Dion Bartolo partner and friend to Affleck’s Joe Coughlin….
LIVE BY NIGHT is another example of why one should never listen to those so called movie critics or how a film performs at the box office – get your ass to the cinema and see for yourself – Ben Affleck once again has crafted another fine slice of cinema, truly wonderful stuff….★★★★½
as a teenager growing up in the 80s I was in awe of this bad-ass Princess that lived through the medium of the movies, she was my first movie crush, a total and utter rebel who gave me hope that the evil scum of the empire would be toppled and the rebellion would win out the day – she was of course Princess Leia aka: Carrie Frances Fisher – born to the wonderful screen star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher Carrie was like Hollywood royalty and with the help of George Lucas, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill she would soon become a movie idol cherished and loved by legions of movie fans that were not only struck by her immense beauty but also with her humor & intelligence – Carrie not only appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy and 2015’s The Force Awakens but she also wrote novels that included her 1987 autobiographical Postcards from the Edge that would later become a movie starring Meryl Streep and just before her death Carrie was promoting her latest autobiography The Princess Diarist – but to me Carrie will always be that fearless Princess that ignited the Star Wars trilogy and thankfully due to film we all can at any time take a trip to a galaxy far, far away and keep her memory alive, onscreen of course that is…….