The legendary designer of Ridley Scott’s classic movie Alien, H. R. Giger has died aged 74
300: Rise of an Empire (2014) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Director: Noam Murro – Cast: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro & Callan Mulvey – Synopsis: The story is told about the Battle of Marathon where King Darius I of Persia is killed by the warrior General Themistocles – The King’s son Xerxes witnesses his father’s death and after a week of mourning and some devilish words from Darius’s loyal naval commander Artemisia he declares war on Greece and then embarks on a bizarre journey through a desert, a cave where he bathes in some strange liquid substance and reemerges as the “God King” – Verdict: Noam Murro’s movie takes place before, during and after the events of Zack Snyder’s 2007 film where Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas and his 300 met their fate on the battlefield – 300: Rise of an Empire may not quite hit the dizzying heights of it’s predecessor but it’s an action movie that’s quite the ride, containing sumptuous visuals, great underwater shots, some fabulous stylish blood splatter moments and a cast that’s equally the measure of the first, especially the delicious Eva Green who delivers yet another evil performance playing the warrior Artemisia who is uncompromising in her revenge against the Greeks, that sex scene with Themistocles (Stapleton) is worth the admission ticket on it’s own, two great warriors coming together for a moment of energetic raw, brutal passion – overall: if like me your a fan of the slow-mo style action used to good effect in Snyder’s original and the brilliant TV show Spartacus and you love your movies to be of a blood thirsty nature then Rise of an Empire is just the ticket….
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!
THE COUNSELOR (2014) – Movie Review ★★½
The Counselor stars Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, Rosie Perez & Brad Pitt – the movie follows a lawyer knows to his friends & colleagues as The Counselor who is rich and successful yet finds himself deep in an extremely complex drug plot that involves the Mexican Cartel, some pretty unsavory characters and a middle-man known as Westray played by Brad Pitt – when the plan The Counselor’s involved with goes south he must try and protect himself & his soon to be wife after the Drugs Cartel start eliminating those who have doubled crossed them – VERDICT since 2001’s Black Hawk Down and the wonderful Matchstick Men in 2003 I have found Ridley Scott’s directorial efforts to fall between average & very poor and The Counselor sadly falls in the latter – despite containing a delicious cast and at times some incredible cinematography by Dariusz Wolski (Crimson Tide & Dark City) the film is a 2hr 18mins mixture of the bizarre, the disjointed and is amongst the dullest big screen events in the last few years – The Counselor’s memorable moments such as Diaz orgasmic moment on a car windscreen (yep that happened), the colorful outfits & delightful hairstyle of Javier Bardem & a couple of well executed be-heading’s are quickly forgotten, swept away in the nonsensical over complicated nature of the film’s script – overall The Counselor only adds to the list of recent movies that fall below the quality expected from one of cinema’s greatest filmmakers – it contains some horrible acting performances & a script by the ever reliable Cormac McCarthy who wrote No Country for Old Men and The Road that is a tiresome, sloppy, yawn-fest that contains numerous, meaningless exchanges between characters that you find awkward, cold and pretty much unlikeable – sadly The Counselor is yet another Ridley Scott disappointment so now my hopes on this great filmmaker returning to form rest firmly with his next big screen outing the biblical EXODUS that lands later this year and stars Christian Bale….
The beautiful and super talented child actress SHIRLEY TEMPLE has died aged 85 – her roles in the Mid to Late 30’s made her a box office draw and in 1935 she was awarded an Academy Award for her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment that year – In her movie career Shirley Temple went on to star alongside some of Hollywood’s finest including John Wayne in Fort Apache, Claudette Colbert in Since You Went Away and Cary Grant in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer – although the movie world has lost another star Shirley’s beauty, her infectious smile and that sweet singing voice will shine on through her legacy of movies for years to come….
ALAN PARTRIDGE (2013) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Cast – Steve Coogan, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sean Pertwee & Colm Meaney – When DJ Alan Partridge’s radio station is taken over and it’s name is changed, it’s everyman for himself as the threat of job loss looms and one of the DJ’s decides to take matters into his own hands by taking the station hostage VERDICT Alan Partridge is a character portrayed & created by British comedian Steve Coogan and although I have not seen much of the TV show I found myself enjoying Partridge’s big screen outing – yes the script is wafer thin and at times some of the jokes fell flat but more often than not I found myself giggling and squirming at the antics of the staff at Partridge’s Radio Station – some of the best scenes in the movie include moments when our DJ finds himself naked and locked out of the hostage taken Radio Station, the board meeting when Partridge meets the new owners and tries to impress upon them his worth to the company by sacking another staff member and the delightfully funny finale with Coogan and Meaney on the tour bus – overall Alan Partridge is one of the better comedies of 2013 – it’s a character I may consider watching more of in the future and a movie that I would highly recommend….
CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN – (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★
Cast – Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Rupert Grint & Til Schweiger – Charlie Countryman (LaBeouf) gets visited by his recently deceased mum who tells him to visit Bucharest – on the plane trip over, he gets chatting to an elderly man who suddenly passes away in the seat next to him & upon his death the man asks Charlie to visit his daughter Gabi & deliver a present. Charlie meets Gabi and instantly falls in love with her, unbeknown to him she is the wife of Nigel, a Romanian mobster and someone you just don’t want in your life. VERDICT from first time helmer Fredrik Bond comes one of the surprise movies of the year – Charlie Countryman is a delightfully quriky drama, with hints of comedy, romance and brutal violence – the acting throughout is top draw with Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood both owning the screen with some crazy chemistry – Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint gives a rather hilarious turn as Karl a wannabe porn star going under the name Boris Pecker who takes 6 Viagras and ends up in deep shit with a Romanian club owner and Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen looks every bit the nasty bit of work he portrays in the movie – overall Charlie Countryman has hints of True Romance with the trippy-ness of Spring Breakers – it’s a love story, with a violent and ultimately satisfying finale that includes some gorgeous cinematography and a vibrant soundtrack – if your looking for something altogether different from your comic-book superhero movies then Fredrik Bond’s little picture might just be for you….