A covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered – I’m always excited to see a new action movie, especially one that’s based on a graphic novel with such a cool premise…. I’ve not read the novels so I went in blind and was pleasently surprised by the overall darkness of Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s THE OLD GUARD – obviously we all know about the action prowess of the Fury Road star Charlize Theron playing Andy the leader of the Immortals, her action scenes are without doubt the best bits in the movie but I also enjoyed watching the emergence of KiKi Layne ACTION STAR her screen time especially opposite Theron as Nile were fun to watch, the plane fight scene between the two being a definite highlight – the style of the action and the films flashbacks as we discover more about the team and Andy’s friendship with fellow warrior Quynh were exciting, Chiwetel Ejiofor was his usual high standard taking on the role of Copley and I was also impressed with Harry Melling’s villainous turn as Merrick, not that I should have been surprised as the Harry Potter star is also very good in the Coens The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Overall The Old Guard is an enjoyable action romp, yes I’ve seen better but the director’s vision and exciting style in this genre has given me high hopes for a possible sequel in the near future ★★★½
Joe a trucker who’s pretty down on his luck meets a mother who can contact spirits whilst suffocating – NICOLAS CAGE is the most charasmatic, entertaining actor out there, he loves dipping his toes in the odd blockbuster but equally the guy loves to star in low budget thrillers that pay the bills, keeps him busy and helps young interesting filmmakers get their films seen by a bigger audience – the latest of these is Maria Pulera’s BETWEEN WORLDS a rather Lynch-esque thriller that’s weird yet engaging and has elements of the supernatural and is strangely erotic whilst showcasing the infamous Cage meltdown that’s still bloody great to watch – I loved the film’s story and little homages to Twin Peaks & David Lynch in general and it’s cast including the exciting German actress Franka Potente & the sexy Aussie Penelope Mitchell give exciting performances alongside the outrageous and at times out of control Nicolas Cage – Overall Between Worlds is certainly worth a watch, especially if like me you love the genre, the trashy at times low budget feel and of course CAGE who in my eye’s is always worth 90mins of ones time ★★★½
I enjoyed Gavin O’Connor’s 2008 crime thriller Pride and Glory but was totally blown away by his 2011 movie Warrior a boxing gem that is hard hitting, well acted and as tense as Tom Hardy’s biceps but then something unusual happened O’Connor sort of disappeared from the big screen limelight, he spent a few years directing a couple of TV movies and the odd episode of a TV show only to return four years later to helm the problematic western Jane Got a Gun that was not only a huge disappointment considering it’s fabulous cast but a big shame as it could and should have been a pretty decent western – maybe on reflection O’Connor wishes he had left this mess that somebody else had started well alone and stayed out of the limelight for that little bit longer…..
But luckily for us we didn’t have to wait long for filmmaker Gavin O’Connor to get back to doing what he does best and that is a gritty, well written and interesting take on the action thriller and with The Accountant it’s safe to say that he has delivered the goods – Ben Affleck’s Christian Wolff the autistic genius who makes his living uncooking the books for dangerous criminal organizations is coolness sublime, his mannerism’s and terminator style action scenes are a thing of beauty, explosive yet done with style, Affleck looks to be having a blast playing this tough, clever yet struggling to socialize anti-hero and some of his off the cuff one liner’s are delivered with a serious deadpan look that makes the moment even more fun to watch – Affleck nails his character’s disorder so well, the scene’s where Wolff sits in his bedroom beating his leg with the stereo blasting shows his vulnerability, his complexity and he is totally compelling to watch, your invested in this character and regardless of his past you end up rooting for him to succeed and have some sort of happy conclusion at it’s end – the infectious Anna Kendrick is yet again a delight to watch and her role alongside Affleck’s Wolffe makes for an unlikely teaming but it so works – I would have liked to have seen J.K Simmons in a more prominent role but nevertheless he’s solid, The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal gives yet another eye catching performance as a paid mercenary who’s protecting someone of interest to Wolff, I really enjoy watching Bernthal tackle the action scenes, it seems so effortless – Overall: Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant is one of my favorite movies of the year, it’s a bloody good thriller with a message on autism that’s handled superbly by it’s lead star & writing team – I can’t wait for a second viewing and maybe just maybe director and star could be tempted to return for a sequel? let’s hope so….
The Interview (2014/5) – Movie Review ★★★★
“They Hate us caus they Ain’t-us”
Director: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Diana Bang and Charles Rahi Chun – Synopsis: The Interview follows Dave Skylark and Aaron Rapaport as two friends running a TV show in the US called “Skylark Tonight” interviewing celebrities who usually spout trashy & outrageous nonsense – the show somehow manages to catch the eye of a certain North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who as it turns out is big fan of the show and grant the pair a one on one interview, upon hearing of this the CIA recruit Skylark and Rapaport to help assassinate the Korean Leader and that’s when the fun really begins Verdict: as you may know The Interview has become a movie shrouded in controversy, and just like a script from a Hollywood movie it all started with Sony axing the film from its planned Christmas schedule due to hacking threats (possibly the North Koreans?) which immediately saw a whole host of celebrities including George Clooney and the President of the United States taking to social media & many news outlets to decry the decision calling Sony weak and asking them to reconsider – it only took a few days for Sony to capitulate, with the FBI now involved in tracking these hackers a statement was put out that The Interview would return to the festive schedule and be shown in selected cinemas after all ! Overall: As a fan of Rogen and Franco’s style of brainless, moronic, insanely daft humor I had high hopes for this film their latest big screen pairing and by it’s end credits boy was I not disappointed – if you dislike gross-out comedy satires that produce the side splitting laughs but also in turn make you reach for the vomit bag, and your only thinking of watching the film due to the nonsensical over the top attention it’s received then you may want to reconsider – The Interview is made of the blackest of humor, some may even call the film distasteful and maybe it is – but overall it’s a well executed, tongue in cheek comedy that centers around a subject matter that shouldn’t be funny but really is, and that all due to it’s great material, it’s high tempo and a superb cast that includes a delicious turn by Randall Park playing Kim Jong Un who’s not only uncanny in resemblance to the North Korean leader but his camp & creepy portrayal makes his performance one of the true comic highlights of the year – if you have loved Rogen & Franco’s past movie pairings in Neighbors, This Is the End and Pineapple Express then I am pretty confident you will love The Interview it’s a comedy that will tickle you senseless, make your eye’s stream like a river and make your belly bounce till it hurts – the scenes that include that Eminem interview, Rapaport’s insertion, Kim Jong Un’s seduction of Skylark including the basketball come orgy and the tank ride, every moment on screen that included Sook played by the fabulous Diana Bang and each and every Franco smile, grimace and utterly stupid sentence spoken make The Interview one of 2014’s finest comedy achievements and one I can not wait to re-watch !!
HER (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Director: Spike Jonze – Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt & Scarlett Johansson – Synopsis: The latest directorial feature from the mind of Spike Jonze tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) a complex and somewhat lonely individual who makes his living writing personal letters for other people. After Theodore’s marriage comes to and end he becomes intrigued with a new operating system, and a voice within that system called Samantha, a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. The two of them strike up an unusual friendship and slowly but surely Theodore falls deeply in love – Verdict: Spike Jonze’s HER has joined Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are amongst the strangest, yet wonderful, original achievements I have witnessed on a cinema screen in over twenty years – and like it’s predecessors HER is a thought provoking, visually stunning and emotionally haunting movie, Phoenix gives yet another acting masterclass playing the sensitive, almost huggable Theodore and he is well supported by the delightful Amy Adams who plays his best friend and Scarlett Johannson who lends her seductive, husky vocals for Samantha – One thing I always like about a Spike Jonze feature is his camera work and the beautiful images he manages to capture and HER is full of them, one of my favorite moments in the movie is when Theodore lets Samantha guide him through a small fair, with his eyes closed Theodore follows Samantha’s instructions, spinning, sneezing and eventually ordering some food, it’s gorgeous to watch – overall HER is a worthy addition to any movie collection – it’s sad, funny and somewhat scary but one that will have you talking about it’s content for many years to come….superb!
LAST VEGAS (2013/4) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Last Vegas stars Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro, Mary Steenburgen & Romany Malco – In their childhood four friends Paddy, Billy, Archie & Sam known as the Flat Bush Four did everything together, they were inseparable – picking up the story 58 years later the friends are now living separate lives & coming to terms with old age when out of the blue Billy played by Michael Douglas announces he is to marry – Sam convinces the other two that this is a great opportunity to get them altogether again for one last hoorah – VERDICT I pretty much love everything Jon Turteltaub has been involved with from his early days behind the camera directing movies such as Cool Runnings, Whilst You Were Sleeping and The Kid to his two National Treasure movies and even 2010’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Turteltaub always seems to deliver a fun night at the flicks and 2013’s Last Vegas is no different – along with the four main leads there’s also another chance for us to see the lovely Mary Steenburgen at work, her delicious charm blended with undoubted talent playing a Vegas singer who catches the eye of Billy & Paddy adds greatly to the solid storyline written by the super talented Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) – with all the movies out there with endless violence, hard hitting subject matters & gross out comedy it’s so refreshing to see four movie veterans entertain the old fashion way and doing it with a swagger – from the dancing of Freeman, the grace of Steenburgen, the hilarity of Kline, the seriousness of De Niro and the charm of Douglas LAST VEGAS is a touching delightful tale of friendship & one that reminds us that we’re never too old to live our life and be kids once more….
CLOSED CIRCUIT (2013) – Movie Review ★★★
Cast – Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciaran Hinds, Julia Stiles & Jim Broadbent – the film starts with an explosion in a crowded London market thought to be from a terrorist attack – it’s not long after before the police arrest Farroukh Erdogan as the prime suspect and the mastermind of the attack – Two Lawyers Martin Rose (Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall) who both carry personal baggage of their own are both recruited by the British Attorney General to represent Farroukh in the court of law, but as both lawyers delve deeper into the bombing they discover shocking discoveries and a web of intrigue, secrecy and cold blooded murder VERDICT as terrorism, political & courtroom thrillers go this is a pretty average affair, with some very good actors caught up in a pretty miserably slow-burning storyline that collapses into a heap of tiresome cat & mouse chase scenes with the London backdrop sadly underused – overall Closed Circuit is not the worst movie you will see this year but considering it’s cast, it’s screenplay by the usually reliable Steven Knight (Eastern Promises & Dirty Pretty Things) and a young director in John Crowley who’s directorial credits include the superb 2007 Boy A then you would be right in expecting something more than this average, at times yawn-fest of a movie….
ENEMIES CLOSER – (2013/4) – Movie Review ★★★½
“Looks like you brought a knife to a gunfight”
Cast – Jean-Claude Van Damme, Orlando Jones and Tom Everett Scott – from Peter Hyams the director of Timecop, End of Days and Running Scared comes the latest action movie that stars the muscles from bruscles Enemies Closer – somewhere between the US/Canadian border a plane carrying a drug shipment crashes leaving a park ranger and a brother hell bent on revenge to work together and stop a ruthless drugs cartel from retrieving their prize shipment VERDICT I must confess to having a soft spot for Van Damme and his usually poorly written action movies that contain dreadful dialogue & cheesier than cheese one liners – one thing you can always say about the Belgian is that the majority of his action flicks seem to contain awesome fight scenes that even at the age of 53 he still manages to make look so easy – in Enemies Closer Van Damme plays Xander a vegan, gun tooting drug boss who’s wild hair doo and psychotic ramblings only add to his watchability and make him quite the villain – the film also includes good performances from Sleepy Hollow’s Orlando Jones playing the brother seeking revenge and Southland’s Tom Everett Scott mixing it up with Van Damme and not looking out of place doing so either – overall if your a fan of JCVD and this resurgence of yesteryear’s action stars then Enemies Closer will prove lot’s of cheer, with 80mins of low budget action fun, that’s not only solidly acted by it’s three main stars but is well directed by Peter Hyams a veteran of this arena….
STATIC – (2012/3) – Movie Review ★★★½
Cast – Milo Ventimiglia, Sarah Shahi and Sara Paxton – Static is the directorial debut of Todd Levin and in centered around a young couple Jonathan (Ventimiglia) and Addie (Shahi)who are facing marital difficulties after loosing their young child in a freak drowning accident, their life is thrown in to further disarray when a mysterious visitor knocks on their door in the middle of the night VERDICT all credit goes to first time director Todd Levin (who also wrote the script) on delivering a home invasion movie with a twist – the movies slow pace lends to the tension and creates some descent character building, Ventimiglia is an excellent young actor who handles the lead extremely well and is solidly backed up by Shahi & Paxton – the director does well in veering away from the standard slasher style flick and unlike most modern day horror’s Static has very little violence but is one of eerie suspense and great use of sound to deliver it’s message – overall Static doesn’t break any new ground but is a well produced, well acted and entertaining thriller that leaves you more than satisfied when them end credits roll….
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….
Sweet Vengeance (Sweet Water) (2013) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Stars Ed Harris, January Jones, Jason Isaacs and Eduardo Noriega – sometime in the late 1800’s a lawman who is in search of two brothers gets tangled up with a sadistic, murdering preacher (Isaacs) and a woman looking for her husband (Jones) VERDICT I really love a good western and although Sweet Vengeance has it’s failings (mainly it’s poor script) the film is lot’s of fun and has some fabulous photography and is surprisingly funny at times – January Jones gives a career best performance – Jason Isaacs looks delicious as the murdering god fearing preacher and Ed Harris looks like he’s having a ball playing the bumbling stumbling Lawman who’s obviously slightly mad – overall this is no Unforgiven but it’s a solidly made western with some fun characters, plenty of sheep and a great shootout in the films last quarter…
The Call (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★
Stars Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut & Michael Eklund – from director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) comes a thriller about a 9-1-1 operator (Berry) who takes the call from a serial killer’s victims just before they’re kidnapped and murdered VERDICT high on suspense Anderson’s gritty kidnap thriller The Call is up there amongst the best movies of the year – Breslin & Berry are superb in their respective roles but for me it’s Eklund who steals the show giving a chilling performance as the evil Michael Foster, his character epitomising the word “creepy & psychotic” – along with the actors mentioned above there’s also a neat little cameo by one of my favorite actors Michael Imperioli (Life On Mars) – overall this movie is worth the dollar at the box office and even though the films third act could have played out differently it was still pretty engaging with the non-stop, gripping tension continuing to the end credits!
DARK TOURIST (also known as The Grief Tourist) stars Michael Cudlitz, Melanie Griffith & Pruitt Taylor Vince – Michael Cudlitz from TV’s “Southland” plays Jim a security guard who’s grim & morbid hobby is visiting places that tragedy or disaster has struck, his dark addiction takes him to Louisiana where he connects with a local mass murderer named Carl Marznap… VERDICT Suri Krishnamma’s DARK TOURIST draws obvious inspiration from the likes of as “Taxi Driver” and “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” to deliver a dark, upsetting & at times uncomfortable movie to watch – it’s lead Michael Cudlitz is utterly mesmerising, you watch with wide eyes as his character spirals into an abyss of obsession slowly loosing his grip on reality – along with Cudlitz there’s a small but effective turn by Melanie Griffith who plays Betsy a waitress who befriends Jim whilst serving him at the cafe she works – Krishnamma allows the film’s pace to be deliberately slow at times, this lends to the pictures terrifying nature, and allows the tension to build until its disturbing finale – hats off to all involved especially Cudlitz who deserves all the plaudits! ★★★★
ELYSIUM stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley & William Fichtner – set in the future where two worlds exist, one called Elysium a man-made space station, thats self contained with it’s population living in luxury and the added bonus of a healthy lifestyle guaranteed – the other a broken Earth, over populated, disease ridden and full of mayhem and destruction – Max (Matt Damon) is an ex-parolee who lives in the latter, and is about to have a pretty bad few days, after a series of unfortunate events Max is left with no option but seek out his past & take on a mission, one that will have serious consequences for those living on both worlds…VERDICT a couple of reasons why I loved Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium – firstly Sharlto Copley’s villainous turn as Kruger a sleeper agent working for Elysium who is based on Earth does one hell of a job in frightening the holy crap out of anyone who gets in his way, sporting a full on beard, battle scarred and looking totally “don’t fuck with me” bad-ass, Kruger makes Anton from No Country For Old Men look like a pussy and don’t get me started on that wonderful, menacing South African accent – and secondly this is pure cinematic entertainment, a popcorn munching, thrill ride from one hell of a director and a cast that includes Damon, Foster and Fichtner all having fun with their respective roles – yes Elysium does have it’s flaws – the storyline is predictable and some of the characters seem thinly written but hell this is a summer blockbuster (this is not Schindler’s List) just sit back and enjoy the ride… it’s a good one! ★★★★