Ava is a deadly assassin working for a black ops organization, taking on high profile hits. When a job she’s given goes horribly wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival – Tate Taylor has sharpened his filmmaking skills with 2011’s THE HELP, 2016’s thriller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and last years horror MA so I was more than excited and slightly intrigued to see how he faired with his first foray into action films : having watched both movies in recent weeks I found AVA more enjoyable than The Old Guard (which I did enjoy) It’s just that AVA packed the sharper bite, the pace was better and the action scenes were gritty and uncomplicated with Stephen Goldblatt the DP contstantly working his magic with each shot : I also enjoy seeing an actor a little out of their comfort zone so watching Jessica Chastain take on this troubled assassin in a lead kick-ass action role was rather fun, of course Jess looked great and the role was certainly no stretch : AVA is packed with delicious fight scenes with Colin Farrell involved in more than one titantic tussle with the hotel room scene nearing the end of the movie one of my favourites : also there’s this terrific supporting cast with John Malkovich as Ava’s handler, Common (a little under used in my opinion) as the ex-boyfriend, Geena Davis and Jess Weixler as Ava’s mum & sister respectively and Ioan Gruffudd & Joan Chen in small but scene stealing roles : the film’s story follows a familiar path, betrayed assassin seeking justice (so there’s nothing new on that front) but if like me your a sucker for action movies that use less brain power, entertain with a fiesty lady holding the reigns to boot then Tate Taylor’s AVA won’t disappoint ★★★★
ps…. a little bit of trivia for you: the film and lead character was originally titled EVE but for some unknown reason the studio changed it to AVA
ROSY : Jess Manafort
Stacy Martin, Nat Wolff, Johnny Knoxville & Tony Shaloub
Interestingly ROSY came totally out of the blue having not seen a poster or watched a trailer and sometimes these little things make a movie more fun and certainly more interesting (not knowing what is coming) – So without spoiling things Jess Manafort’s directorial debut is pretty bizzare yet it somehow manages to captivate, from it’s haunting score that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Woody Allen pic to it’s slow burning narative and wonderful performances from it’s cast – Nat Wolff gives a career besty playing Doug a guy with a few bolts loose who lives on his own but he has a plan and this plan involves Rosy an aspiring young actress played by the wonderful Stacy Martin who gives a GIGANTIC performance that’s sexy, funny and downright crazy – Rosy’s coming together with Doug is alarming, yet by the end of the film you start to think that there’s some chemistry between them (well I did anyhow), everything about the films premise is not quite right but somehow it works and it’s filmmaker Jess Manafort deserves the plaudits for not only her direction but for an exciting, original script – absolutley superb ★★★★
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
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 ★★★★
Leonardo DiCaprio was born on this day in California in 1974 – can you believe DiCaprio is only 39yrs of age? since his film debut in the scifi comedy Critters 3 in 1991 DiCaprio has established himself as one of Hollywood’s acting Elite, amassing 3 Oscar and 9 Golden Globe nominations – DiCaprio has already worked with the likes of Spielberg, Cameron, Mendes, Scott, Nolan, Eastwood, Tarantino and Scorsese (5 times) not bad eh! – The 3 movies pictured above in my view are Essential Leonard DiCaprio – they’re not only great films but they demonstrate Leo’s acting talent and his willing to portray diverse and interesting characters on the screen – recent performances have seen DiCaprio star as Calvin Candie a ruthless plantation owner in Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s epic remake of The Great Gatsby – later this year reunites DiCaprio for a fifth time with director Martin Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street a true story based on the rise and fall of wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort, if the trailer is anything to go by then this will be another great Leonardo DiCaprio movie….