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
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 ★★★★
Sometime in the future, prisoners housed in a Vertical Self-Management Center watch as inmates in the upper cells are fed while those below starve : Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s directorial debut The Platform is a trip into the depth’s of madness, a disturbing dystopian gem that’s not for the faint hearted : the movie follows Goreng a normal guy who has agreed to spend 6 months of his life in this prison centre for the promise of a diploma on the outside world, of course this is dependant on whether he makes it through his term as each 30 days spent in the center the residents are transfered to another cell on a new level, the higher the cell number the more chance of survival : the story written by David Desola is fresh & downright scary and the work by Iván Massagué in & Zorion Eguileor in bringing Goreng & Trimagasi to life respectively is paramount to how the movie plays out, I could not keep my eyes off the pair of them, it was like watching some sort of depraved stage show, the desperation and brutality in surviving their term is absolute bonkers : the woman travelling up and down the food lift looking for her kid is messed up, that dog scene and Baharat’s attempt to climb a level had me feeling utterly nauseous : overall if your looking for something new & nasty in the horror genre then look no further than The Platform it’s a white knuckle ride that had me rocking in my chair praying for some kind of merciful resolution ★★★★½
For me the rules of a great Festive Movie are quite simple : try and make the person who’s watching feel good, put a big Cheshire Cat smile on their face and spread that heartfelt message of love, hope and well wishes far & wide : each year around early December our home is full of Christmas Cheer and we love nothing more than to revisit some of our favorite movies : alternate festive treats such as Die Hard and Gremlins, classics of yesteryear such as The Goonies and Raiders but without question each and every year the Absolute Top Four always get a looking : Richard Donner’s magnificent Scrooged, Frank Capra’s emotionally acclaimed It’s a Wonderful Life, The Griswalds send me into hysterics in Christmas Vacation and Ron Howard magical family movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas : for me these movies embody everything that makes this time of year so special……. what’s you favorite festive movies?
Following the loss of their son in a freak accident, a retired sheriff and his wife leave their ranch in Montana to rescue their young grandson from the Weboys, a dangerous family living deep in the heart of the Dakotas : if it’s action or light hearted entertainment your after then Let Him Go is certainly not for you, the sombre tone throughout is backed up by it’s hard hitting narrative, you’d think you were watching something by Taylor Sheridan but instead it’s directed by Thomas Bezucha based on a novel written by Larry Watson and what an excellent job he does too : watching two old pros in Lane and Costner deliver screen magic by simply talking around a breakfast table, drinking a coffee whilst on a roadtrip or sleeping the night in an empty prison cell is what I call BLISS and luckily for me there’s plenty of character investment in Watson’s sombre driven story, a real hearty, honest picture that examines getting old, loosing loved ones, abuse and fighting for what you believe in no matter what the cost : one of my favorite moments in the movie is when George & Margaret arrive at the Weboy’s for dinner and sit around the table, it’s polite until it’s not and your just made to feel as uncomfortable as the characters in the scene watching it all play out : overall Let Him Go is a real belter of a movie, it’s a slow paced, character driven mystery western that delivers an intense final act with stunning photography and a powerhouse display by Lesley Manville as Blanche Weboy ★★★★½
Born on the 18th December 1946 : STEVEN SPIELBERG has crafted one of the finest, unparalled bodies of work of any movie director, his films have touched, entertained and astonished millions across the world : his work includes some of my personal favorites such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park and E.T. and so many more that I have grown up watching, loving and revisiting as often as I can : his latest movie to hopefully land on the big screen will be the remake of West Side Story and keeping busy Spielberg is in pre-production on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara a film based on the book by David I. Kertzer and will reunite it’s director with Mark Rylance : to celebrate Steven Spielberg‘s 74th birthday I think it’s only right that I quote one of my favorite lines from his finest movie “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the milage” (Indiana Jones)
One of my favorite Steven Spielberg quotes : “When you listen, you learn, You absorb like a sponge : and your life becomes so much better than when you are just trying to be listened to all the time”
A kid who was once celebrated in his local town, given the key to the region and free Ice Cream for life for solving local crimes is now 31, he has low self-esteem, his popularity has decreased and has become the butt of most jokes, but then a chance arrises from a client who’s boyfriend was murdered and it’s upto The Kid Detective to solve his first real case : ORIGINALITY in film is rare these days so when a movie comes out that truly blows your socks off with it’s dark humor, wild and WTF scenario’s and a new take on the private detective in small town USA then you have to pay attention, you have to rewatch it as the film’s that bloody good and then you have to find some way of telling your family and friends… “listen, this may not conform with some of your believes, it may embarrass, it will make you laugh and it will certainly make you feel uncomfortable, but hell The Kid Detective is certainly worth the watch” : what struck me most about Evan Morgan’s movie is it’s serious story arc about murder, kidnapping and adults abusing their power, it’s told with humor that’s close to the bone as you follow young Abe Applebaum through his days of youth, happiness and town stardom to this washed out, guilt ridden 31yr old who’s self pity and attitude makes you question everything about him, as the story unfolds you find yourself not agreeing with alot of his choices but somehow your still rooting for him, cheering him on nevertheless : I felt Adam Brody is outstanding, for me it’s his best role yet and along with Morgan’s original and edgy script, enjoyably quick pace, perculiar town’s folk and the flashbacks of a young Abe solving petty crimes that’s cute as a button The Kid Detective is one of the brightest films to hit our screens this year : it’s BRILLIANT ★★★★½
After losing his wife in a car accident, a father relocates to a new home with his daughter, but things go horribly wrong when strange things start to happen and his daughter vanishes after being cared for by a local nanny : with shades of the Ring and James Wan’s Insideous Kim Kwang-bin’s THE CLOSET is a chilling ghost story that tells of personal grief and trauma of others : apart from a short back in 2011 this is Kim Kwang-bin’s directorial debut that he also wrote, and what a spooky way to start your career behind the camera, the film is dark, it deals with disturbing images and has a haunting message that you’ll discover deep inside the belly of Kwang-bin’s storytelling : there’s moments during every good horror movie when the penny drops and during The Closet the real pay off comes with a small flashback scene involving Myung-jin and what happened to her, it’s disturbing and is certainly a choke you up moment that I didn’t see coming, the combination of supernatural elements, creepy characters and eye peeling effects mixed with a bunch of relatable characters creates the perfect balance in the movie and one I found extremely fun to watch : I loved the father and daughter played by Ha Jung-woo and Heo Yool both are excellent in their respective roles, Heo Yool’s Yi-na especially is quite innocent to begin with and then changes when the evil gets hold, super scary and those rolling eyes GULP, I also found the local exorcist played by the superb Kim Nam-gil who involves himself with the father in helping him find his daughter was a brilliant touch adding that bit of Poltergeist/Insideous element to proceedings : overall The Closet is worth every minute of your time, it’s a thought provoking, gut twisting ghost tale that packs a punch ★★★★
An ex-private investigator is hired to look into a suspicious death in the town of Wander : First film I’ve seen by Canadian filmmaker April Mullen and hopefully not the last : WANDER is one of them small town, nothing is quite what it seems type of movie that I found engrossing from the start, those early scenes of conspiracy theorists Arthur played by Aaron Eckhart and his faithful sidekick Jimmy played by old timer Tommy Lee Jones sat in the desert recording their latest deep web podcast that goes out live under the stars had me hook, line and sinker : with his bushy beard, big wide eyes and a limp Aaron Eckhart gives Wander it’s beacon, a lighthouse of a performance that shines throughout, he shows us the pain and trauma of his character who was once a family man, had everything going for him until a car accident kills his young daughter and leaves his wife in a comatose state : Arthur now lives in a camper van in the desert, in the middle of nowhere and spends his days looking after his dog Charlie, pod-casting with Jimmy and visiting his wife in a nursing facility…. one day he receives a visit by a women who wants to aquire his services as a Private Investigator, hiring him to look into her daughter’s suspicious death and so starts the domino effect, paranoia blurred with reality…. Arthur is down the rabbitt hole and he’s scrambling to get out : Wander is one of the better movies to come out of this crazy year, a small time GEM that’s well directed by April Mullen, well acted by it’s superb cast and has some beautiful New Mexico photography, it’s 90mins of character driven intrigue that delves into mental illness, the feeling of loss whilst touching on government cover-up, conspiracy and murder : ENJOYED very much ★★★★
An historical film directed by Steve McQueen, about the Mangrove restaurant in west London and the 1970s trial of The Mangrove Nine : I recently watched MANGROVE which is the first part of Mcqueen’s ambitious Small Axe, a collection of five movies that tell individual stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London around the 60s & 70s : at the heart of Mangrove is it’s powerful and riveting storytelling that revolves around a restaurant in the Notting Hill area and as the movie touches upon became known as the place for the community to eat, drink and discuss local issues, the Mangrove was run by the main character in the movie Frank Crichlow played by the amazing Shaun Parkes : in all honesty I didn’t know a great deal about this particular story and was facinated from the get-go, the march scenes and clashes with the local police were harrowing, the constant police harassment was diabolical and in the second half of the movie which was mostly about the trial I found the emotion delivered by it’s cast phenomenal, those closing arguements were tough to watch and when the jury were delivering their verdict, through gritted teeth a smile lit my face : Mangrove also manages to capture the film’s time & place, it’s authenticity is top draw with the streets of Notting Hill, the surrounding area and the costume design utterly fantastic : all credit to the likes of Steve McQueen for bringing these important stories to our screen, giving them voice and reminding us all of the many atrocities that took place ★★★★½
The Mangrove Nine are Frank Crichlow, Darcus Howe, Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Rhodan Gordon, Anthony Innis, Rothwell Kentish & Godfrey Millett
After falling in love, an infamous bank robber known as the In-and-Out Bandit agrees to return all the money he has stolen in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when two unsavoury FBI agents set him up for murder, he has no option but to go on the run and clear his name : although the film’s storyline is predictable, similar to those that have come before it’s Liam Neeson’s presence & acting chops that carries the movie forward, still looking convincing in a genre he’s owned for the last ten years or more and that saying something considering the veteran turned sixty eight in June, he’s also well supported by his knockout co-star Kate Walsh who’s not only a delight to watch but the chemistry between the two is extremely evident from the moment their characters first meet in the storage facility, the scenes between the two are superb : there’s also Jeffrey Donovan’s FBI Agent and his pet dog who make for a great double act, Jai Courtney’s turn as a dirty agent is fun if not a little samey and the fight in the hotel room and subsequent chase scenes with the rogue FBI agents trying to catch their man are pacey and well filmed : I would have liked to have seen more of Robert Patrick but overall Honest Thief is an entertaining, well oiled and effective action thriller that I had fun with and enjoyed ★★★½
A filmmaker seeks solace from her down spiraling career in a remote New York lake house, hoping to find some good old fashioned inspiration : It’s only fitting in the strangest of years that we should have one of the strangest of movies : BLACK BEAR is certainly that, mixed with it’s weird and mind bending plot Lawrence Michael Levine’s film is incredibly frustrating, thought provoking and full of the most unlikeable characters in a movie this year, but somehow Levine pulls it off Albeit with the help of it’s stunning location and engaging cast including Christopher Abbott’s Gabe, Sarah Gadon’s Blair both of whom are annoyingly bodacious in that first segment, to say their relationship is stormy is putting it mildly and last but not least Aubrey Plaza who plays the lead role of Allison, along with Ingrid Goes West and Safety Not Guaranteed this is Aubrey Plaza at her captivating, irresistible best, especially in the movies second half where she finds herself as the lead actress, a bit of a diva in a feature film being directed by Gabe : Black Bear is one of those rare movies that I don’t quite understand what went on, although I’m guessing it went something along the lines of a washed up artist who is struggling to find work decides to take a break in remote Long Lake New York to reinvent herself and hopefully find some inspiration so in the movie Levine shows us what’s actually manifesting in Allison’s mind and how certain things may have played out…. it’s only my interpretation of the goings on in Black Bear but nevertheless the movie certainly scores extra points for the performance level and it’s intriguing narrative, as days later I still find myself thinking of what went on in that lake house and what happened to Allison and that big Black Bear ★★★★
Kirk Douglas was born on the 9th December 1916 in New York, he may no longer be with us but his work has brought so much joy to my screen over the years and will continue to do so : to name four of his best movies is near impossible as like most great actors he has numerous films to choose from dependent on the mood you find yourself in…. for example if your looking for a bit of fun the Douglas way then look no further than Tough Guys a 1986 gem that sees two gangsters released from prison into a world that has vastly changed since they were put away, Burt Lancaster and Eli Wallach share the screen in this sweet, emotional and hilarious turn by the maestro, or if your looking for something more sombre, a bit more dramatic then take a peek at the 1951 Billy Wilder movie Ace in the Hole, one of his very best and a good old fashioned nail biter, that sees Chuck Tatum a reporter who slows down a rescue attempt of a man trapped in a cave so his career can flourish, it’s one of my favorites and Kirk is dynamite but if you want a night in and your after excitement, gun fights and the old west then jump onboard The War Wagon that sees Kirk team up with John Wayne in one of my favorite guilty pleasure westerns directed by Burt Kennedy : so if over the next few weeks you find yourself looking for some movie inspiration, you fancy a revisit or maybe you’ve never seen the likes of Lust for Life, The Vikings or The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral well take it from me there’s a Kirk Douglas movie for each & every mood, let that chin dimple, enormous heart and big smile fill your screen, you’ll thank me later…..
One of my favorite Kirk Douglas quotes : I was not a tough guy. I just acted like one.
A homeschooled teenager who is confined to a wheelchair begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her : After enjoying 2018’s Searching I’ve been waiting for Aneesh Chaganty’s latest movie and let me say the wait was worth while : RUN is a messed up psychological thriller with two fabulous performances in Kiera Allen & Sarah Paulson, a terrific pace that quickens to white knuckle time early on and a premise in many ways that’s similar to Reiner’s epic horror Misery : Kiera Allen is remarkable in her film debut, she captures the torture her character Chloe endures throughout the movie and that scene when she attempts to escape through the window to reach another part of the house is anxiety racing, jaw dropping brilliance : and what can I say about the AMAZING Sarah Paulson, a wonderful character actress who’s roles in American Horror Story and Ratched have shown her depth as a top class performer, in RUN her psychotic side comes out to play, cruelty spilling from every pore and those moments in the pharmacist and nearing it’s finale in the hospital will have you on the edge of your seat : needless to say I highly recommend RUN and can’t wait to see what it’s filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty delivers next ★★★★