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….
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…..
Here’s some fantastic footage of Gareth Edwards latest Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – this 3 minute clip is an absolute treat for us fans of this universe and whets the appetite for the movies upcoming release in December – the films cast include Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikklesen, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk & Forest Whitaker the impression I get from these clips is that Rogue One appears to be more practical film-making, less CGI than say The Force Awakens and more in style of the original Lucas trilogy, the action and storyline looks fabulous and the return of old favourite Darth Vader will get us fanboys buzzing like a turned on light sabre – take a peek at the trailer below and enjoy (I have already watched it 3 times it’s so damn good)
My latest venture to the cinema was to watch John Crowley’s immigrant drama BROOKLYN based on the novel by Colm Tóibín and starring a young lady that in my opinion is the Best Young Actress of her generation Saoirse Ronan
“Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant who leaves her home town, to live in 1950s Brooklyn. After the initial shackles of homesickness Eilis begins to find her feet, she starts a new job, an exciting education and falls into a romance with a boy from the city. But soon, her new life is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between the two countries and the lives that exist within”
It’s fair to say my draw to watching Brooklyn on the big screen was Saoirse Ronan, I’d not read Tóibín‘s book and the director Crowley’s previous movies have not caught my imagination and to be truly honest I thought them average at best. But it was an actress I have been following since 2007’s Atonement, the American born but raised in Ireland Saoirse Ronan that drew to me to watching Brooklyn at the cinema, and boy she’d didn’t disappoint either – Ronan doesn’t have to say much to convey the pain or joy she is feeling during the movie, her emotions can be found in her eyes & face, the power she wields with her expressions tells you more than a thousand words – but in fairness Brooklyn has some other really good performances, Emory Cohen who plays the young dreamy Italian Tony is fabulous, he’s a delightful young actor who’s mannerism’s & appearance suck you in allowing you to believe in the romance between himself and Ronan’s Eilis, their chemistry is gorgeous to watch – also deserving of a mention is the magnificent Julie Walters who plays Mrs. Kehoe the landlady in Brooklyn who’s house Eilis stays in, although Walter’s screen time is limited her character gives necessary warmth & humor to the overall film.
Overall: At its finale Brooklyn leaves you feeling elated, its a film you want to re-watch and one you wish to tell all & sundry about, it’s a simple story of life, family & finding ones home and although it’s early in his career I feel this could be John Crowley’s masterpiece – due it’s fabulous screenplay by Nick Hornby the movie is full of every emotion, a lump in my throat during one scene, laughing at Julia Walters in the next, the film really does give you this emotional roller coaster ride as you join Eilis Lacey on her journey of self discovery – I know some people are put off by watching this style of movie at the cinema but trust me Yves Bélanger’s gorgeous photography and an acting masterclass by Saoirse Ronan are reason enough to visit Brooklyn on the big screen – it’s memorable, well acted & well directed by Crowley give it a go, you won’t be disappointed ★★★★½
Paul Rudd on the Set of 2015’s Superhero Movie ANT-MAN
Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry on the Movie set of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand
Filmmaker Peter Jackson and Naomi Watts on the Movie set of 2005’s King Kong
Charlize Theron and George Miller on the Movie set of Mad Max: Fury Road