During a vacation in the Catskills, an author and a stranger from a neighbouring cabin are thrown together after a power outage strikes the area : Both decide to pass the time by telling ghost stories which leads to chaos and their ultimate fears slowly starting to become reality : Josh Ruben’s Cabin in the Catskills horror movie SCARE ME is certainly my kind of movie jam, a slice of original horror that showcases the ability to scare whilst acting almost theatre like with it’s sharp and smart dialogue that’s executed in a fresh and creative style : Ruben and his co-star Aya Cash who’s energy matches the display she gives as Stormfront in the television show The Boys are outrageous, both feeding off each other like piranah’s with the movies ultimate payoff being delivered with satisfying style : I really dug how Ruben utilises the sound effects in the movie to enhance the visuals creating this scary vibe that’s deliciously atmospheric and adds so much to it’s horror telling, you just know something’s going to happen and it’s fun finding out when….. a low budget gem and one I feel would benefit from multiple viewings ★★★★
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 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 ★★★★
Peter, like most teenagers LOVES his bedroom so when his Grandpa (Robert De Niro) comes to stay he’s kicked to the curb, booted out of his room and moved into the family attic, not happy with this arrangement Peter decides to declare war in an attempt to win his room back : I really like filmmaker Tim Hill he’s has this knack of making me smile and his latest War with Grandpa is arguably his best work (that’s hell of a statement as I’m still a huge fan of Muppets from Space what a classic) : I know some people (boring farts maybe) would say that this type of movie is two a penny & predictable BUT when made well there’s nothing like a good old tug at your heart-strings and laugh till your sides ache family fun movie and War with Grandpa is certainly that : the humor is spot on especially when pitting young versus old, it’s not the story it’s the characters in the movie that win your hearts : the three oldies Robert De Niro’s Grandpa and his two mates Danny & Jerry played gamefully well by Cheech Marin & Christopher Walken are terrific and look in their elements having a good time being friends, kicking about in dodgeball with the kids and looking at young women’s backsides during their walk-about in the park, Walken especially is soooooo funny the faces he pulls is priceless : I also found Uma Thurman & Laura Marano totally awesome and so so watchable, the shenanigans between Mum, Daughter and Russell who plays the boyfriend had me laughing so much throughout : I also found the chemistry between De Niro’s Grandpa and Peter played by the gifted Oakes Fegley who also starred in the wonderful Pete’s Dragon remake back in 2016 to be the backbone of the movie, their screentime was full of hilarity and the lengths they would go to creating havok in their path and get revenge on the other was downright brilliant : also watching Peter’s life in school with his friends was a blast from the past and had me thinking back to my childhood that contained similar senario’s : Overall if your a fan of family comedy with a slice of nostalgia and the chance to watch De Niro & Walken reunite some old magic then WAR WITH GRANDPA is definately for you ★★★★
A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home – RELIC directed by first timer Natalie Erika James is an Aussie horror that really does effect the way you look at the difficulties of coping with family illness as you watch Emily Mortimer’s character Kay attempt to unravel her mother’s dementia whilst trying to survive the advances of their spooky family home : Along with it’s real scary moments such as Bella Heathcote’s character Sam stuck in the walls of the house in a frighteningly unreal 20mins and the overall creaks and groans the house is making throughout I really found Relic to be like watching a family member grow old, slowly becoming frail, starting to loose their faculties & climbing the ladder towards eventual inevitability, the scariest thing imaginable and Natalie Erika James captures this perfectly with her meaningful, alarming slow burner of a horror movie that makes you think and contains one of the strangest yet genius finale’s in many a year ★★★★
Trapped in a cave, five men cut the arm off of another companion in order to ward off starvation. After they are saved, their victim seeks revenge on them one by one – THE SEVERED ARM is quite the rarity a 70s slasher movie that I had not seen or heard about until yesterday – Directed by Tom Alderman who’s short filmmaking career ended with this movie, and a cast including John Crawford, Paul Carr and the delightful Deborah Walley (1960’s Gidget Goes Hawaiian) – WOW !! what an incredibly atmospheric slasher, that contains some moody inventive camera work, a screamingly good synth score and a whole bunch of gruesome gore scenes (especially that severed arm moment later in the movie), I really enjoyed Walley’s turn as Ted’s daughter Teddy, as an actress her face lent to 70s slasher so well and I’m surprised she didn’t do more in the genre, also I loved the twist in the movie’s finale albeit a little predictable but it is well executed – If like me you love visiting these wildly odd B-Movie style slasher movies with a side plate of revenge and gory fun then The Severed Arm is worth the watch ★★★★
Four African-American vets return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their friend and fallen Squad Leader and the gold he helped them hide – Back in 2013 after watching the Oldboy remake I honestly thought the great Spike Lee maybe past it, possibly spent as a filmmaker and only to be reveared for past glories…. In 2018 he delivered one of the best movies of that year in BlacKkKlansman and today in his first outing with Netflix Spike Lee has once again rolled back the years…. DA 5 BLOODS is not only an exceptional picture but it’s a timely history lesson that’s high on emotion, tense as a butt cheek in a landmine, a riverting adventure romp and one of Lee’s more violent and ambitious movie Joints to date – Rather than the deaging of actors (like Scorsese did in The Irishman) Spike Lee decided on a different and in my opinion more refreshing approach seeing the old guard play their younger selves in the film’s flashbacks which helped the film’s narrative and was exciting to watch, the music from the grand master Marvin Gaye, the message throughout of Love over Hate and shooting on location in Vietnam gave Da 5 Bloods it’s heartbeat…. and did I mention Delroy “Mother Fucking” Lindo in his fourth collaboration with Lee and in my opinion his best, Lindo’s character Paul is an all kinds of messed up, racist war vet that harbor’s a secret, his performance reminds me of Bogey in Sierra Madre as you watch his character slowly unravel in quite a devistating way – Overall there can be no doubt Spike Lee is back making film’s that connect with it’s audience in an entertaining, shocking yet relevant way ★★★★½
Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine, Logan and now FORD v FERRARI James Mangold’s thrill ride, a 7,000 RPM adrenaline fueled, pulsating ENERGY packed racing movie that sees Matt Damon deliver a career best, Christian Bale in infectious form, Caitriona Balfe delivering one of the film’s best moments and the race scenes WOW their pure dynamite – for me 2019 is the best year of the decade for cinematic treasures and this film continues the trend in leaving me speechless and rather emotional as I left my seat at the big screen – obviously the Le Mans track has changed through the years since the 60s so how on earth did James Mangold and his team recreate the movies focal point? it’s just mind boggling, the camera work by the Greek cinematographer Phedon Papamichael is sublime, his work in creating that claustrophobic yet thrilling car racing scenes is pure brilliance but for me the main reason this movie succeeds is it’s cast who are simply magnetic – what a movie and a ride you don’t wana miss on the big screen ★★★★★
I LOVED THE SHIT out of Duncan Jones latest MUTE – what a terrific story that’s totally immersive with some stunning visuals & a whole gaggle of TOP performances – from Paul Rudd playing looney tune Cactus with panache, Justin Theroux’s creepy as f@ck pervert surgeon, Robert Sheehan’s epic turn as Luba and what can I say about True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård as the films lead apart from holy shit-balls – what I love most about the movie is how it’s story weaves a good old fashioned mystery in this case a girls disappearance to that of a futuristic setting, a striking visual feast of neon lit buildings and the darkness that inhabit them – this is the fourth movie for Duncan Jones behind the camera and I for one can’t wait for his next, he’s a writer/director that’s not afraid of taking a risk, creating something different and I like that – MUTE is an excellent way of spending 2 hours in front of the box allowing your imagination to run wild it’s a movie that takes you to some very dark places and is certainly not for the squeamish – I for one can’t wait for a rewatch !! ★★★★
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…..
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…
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
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….