Sad news – the Oscar Winning director of one of my favorite movies The Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme has died aged 73 – Demme also directed several other superb movies including the epic Something Wild that stars Melanie Griffith & Ray Liotta, Rachel Getting Married, Married to the Mob and Philadelphia but it will always be the brilliant and chilling 1991 classic that the movie world will remember him for – those who worked with him called him one of the most enthusiastic and kind filmmakers in the business, he always had a story to tell and was devilishly smart in bringing that story to the screen, his films changed the course of an actors life, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Tom Hanks and Mary Steenburgen all won Oscars and much acclaim for their roles in his movies and all became better actors because of it – through the medium of film Jonathan Demme has left behind a cinematic legacy, a treasure trove of funny, gripping, haunting movies that will continue to entertain and live on forever – he was a passionate filmmaker who loved his craft, so when your next watching one of his movies take a moment to smile and fondly remember this talented New Yorker and the joy he breathed into the cinematic world we all love so much…
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 ★★★★
Jack Reacher : Never Go Back may not have originality on it’s side and it may not contain loads of superhero CGI but what it does have is Tom Cruise a guy who oozes passion over his craft and knows how to deliver an action movie, create an entertaining vibe and make you clap after the end credits – Never Go Back is a movie based on the 18th book in the series of Reacher novels written by Lee Child and see’s Tom Cruise return as Jack Reacher an army vet come drifter looking for an easy life but find trouble at every turn – Cruise reunites with his Last Samurai director Edward Zwick for this sequel a film that follows in the same vein as it’s 2012 predecessor, a reasonably small budget of $60 Million, gritty realistic action scenes, a well oiled script and an exciting young cast that includes two fabulous ladies Cobie Smulders and Danika Yarosh who not only match Cruise in the running stakes but hold their own kicking ass in the action scenes, and along with the ladies Patrick Heusinger who plays The Hunter a mercenary who will stop at nothing to kill Reacher and anyone who stands in his way – the fight scene with him, Turner and Reacher in the kitchen is bone crunching and so epic I just wanted it to go on a bit longer – Overall: it’s not always the case that movie sequels work but Jack Reacher : Never Go Back delivers, it’s not quite as good as the first but it’s damn close, it’s wildly entertaining and whets the appetite for a third in the series….
I must admit I was not a fan of Jean-François Richet‘s miserable remake of Carpenter’s moody, epic Assault on Precinct 13 but that I can now forgive after watching his latest thriller Blood Father that stars Mel Gibson playing an ex-con who reconnects with his estranged daughter and kicks some ass in the process – Gibson looks great, he has obviously bulked up, his skin looks weather beaten looking every bit the menacing no-nonsense ex-con the role required, nobody plays mean, angry, gun tooting, revenge shooting better than this snarly Aussie, like most great film stars you can’t help but admire his work and in Blood Father this is Gibson firing at his absolute best – but this is not a one man show, on screen Gibson’s backed up nicely by Erin Moriarty an exciting young actress who plays his daughter in the film & the talented William H Macy who delivers a sound performance playing his sponsor & friend – so whether your a fan of Mel Gibson or not (and I most certainly am) Blood Father is one helluva movie, it’s fast paced action, sumptuous cinematography and it’s 80s style one liners has already catapulted this thrill ride into one of my favorite movies of the year….
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….
I wasn’t totally convinced by Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead remake but his latest the low budget thriller Don’t Breathe is a different animal – I’m sure my heart actually stopped for a brief second whilst being terrified by this darkly intense and at times brutally twisted horror movie – Alvarez really makes use of the house interior, his camerawork adds so much to the scares and along with Stephen Lang’s deranged victim come tormentor this is one creepy ass movie that will scare you senseless – do yourself a favor and don’t miss this on the big screen….
I’m always a bit dubious of this constant obsession of film remakes but David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon is an absolute beauty of a movie- one of them rarities a picture that’s actually better than it’s 1977 original – the cast is sublime especially Bryce Dallas Howard and the wonderful Oakes Fegley who plays Pete and in both cases I could not have imagined better, the CGI of Elliot is magical, it really is the stuff of fairy tales, combine that with the breathtaking scenery & it’s fantastic well written script and you have a real cinematic treat, a picture that evokes memories of the classic Disney movies of yesteryear – Pete’s Dragon is a heartwarming, magical movie that will make you smile and bring out the child in you…..