On her Birthday I’m remembering the beauty and talent of 30s Icon JEAN HARLOW who starred in films such as The Public Enemy alongside Jimmy Cagney, Frank Capra’s 1931 comedy Platinum Blonde, alongside Clark Gable in Red Dust, Howard Hughes war drama Hell Angels, Victor Fleming’s romantic comedy Blond Bombshell and her delightfully funny turn in Dinner at Eight : although Jean was taken way to early she made her mark in Hollywood as one of the funniest, sexiest and sweetest actresses of her era…. she was born on this day in 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri and was the first movie actress to appear on the cover of Life magazine : Jean Harlow made 36 movies and appeared alongside Clark Gable in six of them, she died aged 26 whilst making the 1937 movie Saratoga in which her last line spoken was “Good-bye” : her Hollywood star can be found at 6910 Hollywood Blvd….
One day on vacation with his wife Scott Carey gets exposed to a mysterious cloud of radiation and insecticide, six months later he starts to shrink, the doctors are helpless and Scott finds himself spiriling downwards into a world of unthinkable madness : Every year I submerge myself in the classic scifi of yester-year, and in my opinion they don’t come much bigger or better than the 1957 Universal Picture The Incredible Shrinking Man : the movie is a tremendous adaption of Richard Matheson’s 1956 novel The Shrinking Man and is brought to the screen by the master of 50s science fiction Jack Arnold who previously directed three gems of the era 1953’s It Came from Outer Space, 1954’s atmospheric Creature from the Black Lagoon & the scary 1955 gem that is Tarantula : although each of these are classics in their own right I just felt The Incredible Shrinking Man has this captivating aura surrounding it, a quite stunning movie with mind boggling & creative effects that are unbelievable, I can only imagine what it was like to sit in a movie theatre in 1957 watching Scott start to shrink into his new world of danger and uncertainty, it must have been watched with wide eyed terror : the acting in the movie is top notch too with Randy Stuart & April Kent catching the eye but it’s a terrific, athletic turn by Grant Williams that makes you believe, reminding me of a young Burt Lancaster with those scenes in the basement which were shot on Stage 12 of Universal Studios being quite unforgettable as Scott fights off floods, starvation and a deadly black widow spider : the end to the movie left me cold, it’s one of those scenes you want more from, your left saddened by what transpires but are ultimately in agreeance that it could not of ended any other way : rewatching some of the CLASSIC universal stock from the 50’s makes me wish I was from that time, an era full of ICONIC science fiction horror that opens up your imagination & consumes you with excitement and wonder : so if you’ve never delved into the past for your movie fix then what are you waiting for? start with Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man and you can thank me later….. ★★★★★
A young woman seeks vengeance against those who committed an unforgiveable act to a friend from her past : Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut Promising Young Woman is one of the most relevant, impactful and though provoking movies that I’ve ever seen : WOW the colors, the quaint coffee shop and the Britney Spears vibe HOOKED ME and it’s darkness and originality and that devistating final act that really caught me offguard, that left me fighting for breath, cold and SPEECHLESS : with iconic roles in her rear view mirror such as Irene in Drive, Daisy in The Great Gatsby and Cathy in Never Let Me Go Carey Mulligan never ceases to amaze me with her ability to make a character her own and in Cassandra she teases, she smiles and ultimately destroys you with her actions and although the film has some flashes of humor and lighter romantic moments such as Mulligan & Burnham singing along to Paris Hilton’s Stars are Blind in the convience store it’s the way the film delivers it’s key moments such as when Cassandra visits Dean Walker at the school, a squeaky bum scene delivered with the impact of a freight train, I was like WTF hands to the mouth whispering to myself she’s not has she? and that cafe scene with Madison and what follows, Alison Brie is growing into quite the actress and what follows is truly terrifying yet rewarding in a bizzare fuck you sort of way : LOVE Jennifer Coolidge & Clancy Brown who are PERFECT as the parents and Laverne Cox is fabulous as Cassandra’s friend and boss at the coffee shop but essentially Promising Young Woman is all about Carey Mulligan and it’s WICKIDLY good story about ACCOUNTABILITY ★★★★½
Today the world of film has lost Tanya Roberts aged 65 : I will always remember Tanya for the beauty she gave us in two films that came out whilst I was in my early teens, 1982’s fantasy movie The Beastmaster where she played Kiri opposite Marc Singer and in 1985 she starred alongside Roger Moore in A View to a Kill playing Bond Woman Stacey Sutton : on the small screen Tanya starred in over a dozen episodes of the TV show Charlie’s Angels as Julie Rogers and in recent years playing Midge Pinciotti on That ’70s Show : she will be missed !!
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?
A family of fur trappers who live in a remote wilderness find their tranquility threatened by what they think is a wolf, but something else has been stalking the woods and Joseph, Anne and Renee are about to find out what : WOW !! I wasn’t really prepared for this movie and I’m not just talking about it’s macabre, unforgettable finale but also the harshness of it’s story about a family that live off the grid in the Canadian wilderness, living off the land, killing animals for their fur whilst teaching their young daughter to set traps, to shoot a gun, skin animals and generally learning how to fend for herself without little knowledge of the outside world : during the opening twenty minutes of Hunter Hunter I realised that I didn’t care much for the parents, their treatment of Renee and the animals butchered for monetary gain didn’t particular sit well with me so I was rather hoping that the rogue wolf that had been terrorising the area for years would finally get even, it would have been a slice of karma but things don’t always go to plan and the course of the movie was about to shift and things were about to get real : without giving too much away my only criticism with the film is that I felt that the plot could have expanded to include more backstory to some of the more relevant aspects throughout, that being said filmmaker Shawn Linden captures the danger of inhabiting the wilderness with a provocative, tense driven ride that explodes during it’s final act which what can only be described as incredible : ONE TO WATCH ★★★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 ★★★★
Fancy swapping bodies with an infamous serial killer? me neither… well that’s what happens to Millie and she now has 24 hours before that change becomes permanent : having really enjoyed both Happy Death Day movies and the superb Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse I was excited to see what director Christopher Landon had in store for us with his latest horror comedy FREAKY that stars Vince Vaughn & Kathryn Newton : the mixture of comedy, smartly written dialogue and GORY horror is a fine line which Landon tip toes outrageously along : watching terrified as Vince Vaughn’s Butcher slices and dices his way through those opening ten minutes with the brutality of a Wes Craven movie whilst mouthing HOLY SHIT and then turning the terror into a smile and full on belly laugh as the Butcher is transformed into a teenage girl’s body thanks to the ancient mystical dagger is GENIUS : I can’t honestly decide which one I prefered more, Vince Vaughan’s Butcher running around the town of Blissfield screaming & acting like a girl or Kathryn Newton’s Millie transformed into the Butcher and taking out some sweet vengeance on the bully’s at her school, those scenes involving the smarmy teacher and the table saw and Ryler’s cryo-tank moment is utterly brilliant : Freaky is close to Landon’s best work, yes it’s full of your typical cliches, but overall the film’s inventive, outrageous and devilishly good FUN : a body swap slasher for the ages, a cult classic that I can’t wait to rewatch and recommend to friends ★★★★
To save his declining business, Chris Cringle, also known as Santa Claus, is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military : There’s something strangely wonderful watching the legendary Mel Gibson play Santa in a Hitman Christmas movie that’s insanely dark yet mighty festive, filmed with lots of heart, a teeny-weeny bit of tongue in cheek and a wickid mind by those Nelms brothers who gave us Small Town Crime a few years back : along for the Sleigh Ride is the sublime Walton Goggins who collects authentic Santa pressies whilst filling out his calendar carrying out hits for anyone who requires his demented service, the stunning Marianne Jean-Baptiste who’s crazy good as Ruth Cringle, Santa’s devoted wife and Eric Woolfe aka: Elf 7 the foreman in Santa’s workshop : EVERY scene between Marianne and Mel is an absolute delight, talk about chemistry, the film’s finale is bloody and Goggins Skinny Man is central to all the mayhem and Chance Hurstfield who’s spoilt and cruel Billy is fantasic : so if you love your festive movies to include a side dose of Christmas magic featuring elves, cookies and that ever so sweet naughty or nice seasonal message mixed with a rather dark and brooding evil tone then FATMAN should be earmarked as a must watch this Festive Season : IT’S BRILLIANT ★★★★
It’s always tough when listing any Top Movie List but as this will become a steady feature on the site I have decided to start Our Top Four with the enormous talent that is Grace Patricia Kelly : I started my obsession & collecting movies during the early 80s, films from all era’s & genre’s, facinated in general by anything and everything movie orientated and I remember watching Dial M for Murder one afternoon whilst home from school and being mesmerised by this screen goddess, this lady that oozed sex appeal yet had this commanding persona one that filled the screen with a kind of movie magic, I guess Grace Kelly became my first movie love and what a magnificent yet short career this American Sweetheart gave us : I hope you enjoy my ramblings….
Born on the 12th November 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania GRACE KELLY not only had the beauty & elegance of a Hollywood Leading Lady but also had the acting chops of a high quality veteran working & becoming goods friends with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock on three occassions, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief and also winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the wonderful George Seaton picture The Country Girl, this was viewed as a major shock, many thought Judy Garland would win that year for her turn in A Star is Born : in her short Hollywood career Grace would star with Gary Cooper in the acclaimed western High Noon, William Holden in The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Clark Gable in Mogambo : in 1956 Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier ending her love affair with the screen until her death in 1982
One of my favorite Grace Kelly quotes : Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema. It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes
Number 2 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After a struggling writer get’s a job looking after the Overlook Hotel as a caretaker for the winter, something happens to him and his family in extreme & unforgiving ways : Based on Stephen King’s best selling novel of the same name and directed by Stanley Kubrick THE SHINING is an unforgettable journey into the mind of addiction, isolation, family and supernatural terror that has effected me over the years since it’s release back in 1980, I don’t think I’ve ever drooled over or talked about a movie more than this horror masterpiece : very much like Jaws that was written by Peter Benchley The Shining is an example where the movie is better than it’s original source and the changes they made when bringing it to the screen were not only in my eyes justified but add so much to the film’s scare factor, it’s scale and overall stigma : take the main differences for example, the infamous twins that scare the life out of Danny in the movie are not in the book, the blood filled elevators spilling out into the hallway is not in the book, the atmospheric maze and clever icy cold climax is not in the book and the words Jack was typing all Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy is not in the book, of course I have always been of the opinion that writers should never allow their work to be messed with & for some reason Stephen King allowed big chunks of his book to be altered, but I do believe that the changes made add so much to the terrifying nature of Kubrick’s masterpiece that watching The Shining without these would be a poorer experience : in fairness as with the Top Five Movies on the list The Shining could easily be Number One, it’s scares me because it’s about a family, their isolation and the effect The Overlook has on them all through the harshest of winters in Colorado : from it’s opening shots of the camera following Jack’s car up the mountain road to The Overlook accompanied by it’s hair raising score, Jack breaking down the bathroom door with an axe whilst reciting Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chins? and the epic confrontation on the stairwell that involves a baseball bat there are just so many memorable scenes in The Shining but one of them always manages to mess me up and it’s when Jack chastises Wendy for disturbing his place of work in the hotel, you can see the pain etched onto Wendy’s face as her husband says “Wendy let me explain something to you, whenever you come in here and interupt me your breaking my concentration, your distracting me….” the scene is emotional as you not only start to fear for Wendy’s safety but also feel sorry for her and the way that she is being treated, it’s scary because you are now seeing the changes manifesting themselves in Jack and it’s sensational because of it’s deliverance by two actors on top of their game in Nicholson and Duvall : other factors that make The Shining such an amazing movie experience range from it’s eye catching us of color, including The Gold Room’s bathroom with it’s stunning red decor, Room 237’s evocative green & orange bathroom & the mesmerising carpeted hallways throughout, a terrific performance from Danny Lloyd who plays Danny, those tricycle scenes are just Iconic and his psychic abilities lend to some rather creepy, blood soaked images & that moment Wendy is trying to comfort her son and then sees the word REDRUM reversed in the bedroom mirror is unbelievably chilling : overall The Shining is an emotional rollercoaster ride, a character driven horror piece that’s as visually disturbing as it is stunning ★★★★★
Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1930 and died in The Bahamas this morning in 2020 : the film world has lost a legend, a hero to many including myself and an actor that spanned a 60 year career….. he escaped from Alcatraz, was a British Secret Agent, an Irish-American cop, a Soviet Submarine Captain, an Immortal Swordsman, was King Arthur, Robin Hood and Indiana’s dad….. may you rest in peace Big Tam…..
Number 16 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A group of people barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monster who are ravaging the United States. : “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!…” : There’s good zombie films and then there’s George A Romero’s 1968 ghoulfest NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD : crafted in black & white with a runtime of 96mins this slice of horror is pure suspense, alongside a towering performance full of energy & style by New Yorker Duane Jones & scares that would make most of today’s horror films blush Night of the Living Dead is high calibre filmmaking, by a director at his most raw & potent best : I recently rewatched the restored Criterion edition and was reminded (like I am every year) on how creepy the movie holds up, from it’s unique appearance, how fiendishly evil the undead look to the films unsettling graveyard and old farmhouse shot’s with it’s black-and-white filming only adding extra spice to the unnerving viewing experience : Judith O’Dea’s Barbra is terrific, the way she shows us her character’s shock after loosing her brother in the cemetary attack and the terror she’s overcome with is quite chilling : I love the scene in the movie which sees Harry coming up from the basement and arguing with Ben on why they should all be barricaded in down below, Hardman & Jones have the floor mostly to themselves and it’s all quite riverting, Tom & Judy’s ill fated trip to collect some gas from the barn is also one my movie highlights, from it’s chaotic build up, big explosion to the aftermath of Harry locking Ben out of the house to be breathtaking : since it’s release Night of the Living Dead has spawned a zombie franchise and countless other immitations but for me Romero’s original beats all others hands down and is still a spine-chilling masterpiece ★★★★★