A bridge builder begins the hunt for two lions that start attacking the local construction workers : I may be in the minority with this one but I really enjoy revisiting Stephen Hopkins THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS : the film has a familiar tone to Spielberg’s Jaws accept that the monster is the King of the Jungle and there are two of them killing for pleasure, stalking their prey and wreaking havok to a small African region known as Tsavo : Hopkins movie is based around the the Tsavo Man-Eaters the true story of those Lions dating back to 1898 : not only did I find the film’s story compelling, the Jaws like hunt and then to be hunted arc but I also loved the chemistry between Michael Douglas’s grizzled hunter Remington and Val Kilmer‘s Patterson both seemed to click and feed off each other’s energy & undoubted passion for Hopkins movie (ignore the Razzie nomination, for me it’s a top 5 Kilmer performance for sure) : the film was shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) around the Songimvelo Game Reserve in South Africa and adds so much to the film’s spectacle, the authenticity of the regions beauty & danger is an overwhelming plus point : If like me you enjoy revisiting the gems of yester-year then give The Ghost and the Darkness another watch, for me it’s still holds up well as a well acted, thrilling scare ride that will have your nerves a jangling from start to finish ★★★★½
Antonio Campos continues on from his 2016 movie Christine with another miserable, downbeat yet compelling piece of filmmaking : taking center stage in The Devil All the Time is the bible belt of West Virginia and some of it’s unsavory characters that all merge together over a time span of 15 years or more to create the backbone of the story the novel of which is written by Donald Ray Pollock who also in a rather poetic and wonderful way narrates the movie : it’s story is full of deluded, nasty characters and we get to meet some of them on our journey from Bill Skarsgard’s war torn, emotion driven father (that dog scene is heartbreaking), Pattison’s creepy peverted preacher (the crazy good speech after he receives the welcome food is haunting), the husband & wife serial killing team played by Jason Clarke & Riley Keogh to Harry Melling’s frightening turn as a preacher who’s bitten by a spider to crazy consequences : The Devil All the Time is not pretty, it’s over 2hrs of dark & bleak imagery but along with it’s sublime acting from it’s outstanding cast & great material it’s filmmaker Antonio Campos manages to grip you early doors and it’s utterly fascinating with how each & every character in the stories arc fit’s together like a jigsaw each of them slotting into place ready for it’s dramatic finale : so if you liked Winter’s Bone or The Place Beyond the Pines then The Devil All the Time is a must watch ★★★★½
It was tough but here it goes : Christopher Nolan’s Top 8 Movies in order : (1) MEMENTO : 2000 : Nolan’s least pretentious movie, was shot for $9 million in less than a month, it’s story is exciting, fresh & edge of the seat and to this day it’s the filmmaker’s finest achievment with great turns by Guy Pearce & Joe Pantoliano : (2) THE PRESTIGE : 2006 : a hidden gem that I like to annually revisit & then think about for days after : Christian Bale & Hugh Jackman are immense as is Rebecca Hall who gives a stella turn playing Borden’s wife, from the sets, sound & story the film’s pure magic : (3) INCEPTION : 2010 : It’s been 10yrs and I still find myself marvelling at the effects, the rotating sets & Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s gravity fight scene which is so awesome to watch : breathtaking cinema built around a beautiful love story : (4) INTERSTELLAR : 2014 : Nolan’s ambitious scifi thriller blew me away whilst tugging at my heart strings from start to finish, the scene of Coops as he watches the clips from back home are tough, that enthralling docking sequence & the enormity of the tidal wave scenes are stunning : Hoytema’s work on this is quite simply wow : (5) THE DARK KNIGHT RISES : 2012 : Darkness rains down on Gotham & I for one loved the chaos & the ride Nolan brings to this trilogy ending masterpiece : in Tom Hardy’s Bane Batman has met his most demented nemesis & that delicious Talia twist in it’s finale gave the franchise the explosive ending it deserved : (6) INSOMNIA : 2002 : showcases the masterclass that is Al Pacino, his performance captures every essence of Will Dormer and it’s up there amongst the actors best work : Of course Wally Pfister’s DP and his canvas of British Columbia doesn’t help either – a tense, character driven remake that still holds up well today : (7) BATMAN BEGINS : 2005 : has sheer depth, towering action scenes, Liam Neeson & Cillian Murphy’s villainous pair, Michael BLOODY Caine, a cameo by Lucy Russell & of course Nolan’s ace in the pack Christian Bale who’s easily the “best actor” that’s played our Caped Crusader : (8) THE DARK KNIGHT : 2008 : Heath Ledger’s Joker waddling out of the hospital dressed in nurse atire as it explodes is one of many highlights from Nolan’s stupendous action packed sequel : lots of love here for Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent & Batman’s custom made bike is craaazy good too !! (also worth mentioning that I really enjoyed Dunkirk, Following and of course Nolan’s latest Tenet)
In the near future, Cyrus a charismatic leader summons the street gangs of the Big Apple in a bid to rule. When he is killed, The Warriors are blamed and now must fight their way home while every other gang in the city are hunting them down : Based on the novel by Sol Yurick The Warriors hit the screens back in 1979 and was directed by Walter Hill : It’s one of my favourite movies of Hill’s with it’s incredible photography by First Blood’s Andrew Laszlo, the shoot takes place in the night in New York City and when you rewatch the movie as many times as I have you realise how incredible Laszlo made the city look for the screen and so perfect for Hill’s vision in creating this movie, from it’s deserted subway stations decorated with grafitti, the wet floors that illuminated the shadows to the cities dark grimy street’s lowly lit to enhance the mood, Laszlo really deserves more credit for the way The Warriors came to life on screen : I also loved it’s cast including James Remar’s Ajax, David Patrick Kelly’s slimy Luther but especially Michael Beck who plays Swan the strong and respected leader of The Warriors & the film debut of Deborah Van Valkenburgh who is astonishing as the sexy, confident & tough Mercy who rolls with the Orphans a weaker gang in the city led by Sully : I can’t praise both actors enought for their deliverance of two strong characters, similar in many ways, leaning on each other in adversity, for me Swan & Mercy are amongst my favourite film characters in movie history : one of my favourite moments in the movie is where we are introduced to some of the rival gangs preparing to chase down The Warriors and over the radio blasts Nowhere To Run by the wonderful Arnold McCuller now this is truly and utterly ICONIC, a film scene I can watch on rerun all day long, I also found The DJ played by Lynne Thigpen and voiced by Pat Floyd to be a fabulous addition to the film, the DJ giving regular updates on The Warriors chase down referring to the city’s gangs as “boppers” : The Warriors was the third movie from Walter Hill and armed with a budget of $6 Million the film hit No.1 at the box office on it’s release and has since gone on to become a cult classic : the film is nothing short of SENSATIONAL “Can You Dig It?” ★★★★★
The Babysitter: Killer Queen is the sequel to McG’s horror comedy The Babysitter and follows Cole Johnson a junior in high school being tormented by a whole bunch of demonic crazies : Why shouldn’t I be surprised that once again a McG directed movie had me by the balls, laughing and squirming all the way through it’s comic and blood soaked tone : I absolutley loved the first movie back in 2017 and to be honest I had low expectations going into Killer Queen but WOW that was fun : Judah Lewis returns once more as Cole the teenage victim to these hell demonic bullies, I like him as an actor and he plays the weird and confused school kid superbly well : I love the way McG keep things fresh, allowing returning characters to develop and newbies to the franchise are clevely intwined into Cole’s messed up life : It’s also great to see that the writing team also paid attention to Wes Craven’s Scream in that the sequel has rules baby…. 1. The body count is always bigger & 2. The sequel needs to be more elaborate, with more blood and gore : McG’s Killer Queen can only be described as a guilty-pleasure ride that’s sexy, bloody and totally insane all spliced together to rip roaring effect, a sequel that has some hilarious inventive death scenes, clever dialogue and certainly lives up to the first movie in terms of sheer entertainment ★★★★
PENINSULA is Sang-ho Yeon’s sequel to his 2016 Zombie hit Train to Busan : Like most I really enjoyed Train to Busan and it’s animated prequel Seoul Station so diving straight back in to watch Yeon’s latest in Zombie mayhem was quite easy and deliciously excitable : Peninsula has a runtime of just under 2hrs and starts with a car heading for the harbour to catch a ship out of the chaos of the city, the car is carrying a Marine Captain Jung-seok, his sister and her child. When they reach and board the ship we discover that somebody on the lower deck has the infection and very quickly all hell breaks loose….. Sang-ho then jumps the story by four years and we find ourselves watching a tired, guilty looking Jung-seok living in Hong Kong drinking his way into trouble or an early grave : he then stumbles upon someone who offers him a way out of all this mess, a way of starting a new life by taking a team of soldiers back into the infected city to retrieve a truck full of money : Now although Peninsula is not quite as good as Train to Busan it’s still a blood good sequel with some real heart in the mouth action scenes, let’s face it the South Korean’s have mastered the action in movies better than most and the chase scenes once the team reach the city full of zombie’s and dispicable humans alike are quite spectacular : we also have a whole bunch of interesting new characters, the best of which are Joon and her younger sister Yu-jin who come to the rescue of Jung-seok whilst in the city, I also couldn’t stop screaming at the insanity of the prison scene Jung-seok’s friend finds himself in, it’s execution and the thought behind it terrifies me : Sang-ho Yeon’s sequel has plenty of violence and a jaw dropping finale and if like me you enjoyed the destruction laid out in Train to Busan then his latest Peninsula will make you weep with joy, the film has a pace to match a zombie’s stride and will have you baying for more by the time those end credits rise ★★★★
Ana Lily Amirpour’s A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT follows a lonely vampire going about her business in the Iranian ghost town of Bad City – I have now watched this movie 12 times (maybe more) and for me it sits comfortably in the bracket of essential viewing : from it’s mesmerising black & white style that sucks you in to the movie’s narrative, hypnotising and seducing you until it’s final scene, with it’s atmospheric backdrop’s of Oil Derrick’s, the deserted streets, the buildings and the Girl’s bedroom decked out with posters of pops stars of yesteryear, with Lyle Vincent’s photography descibed in two words “utterly stunning” : I also CRAVE the film’s soundtrack, it’s the GOAT with tracks from Federale, Radio Tehran, Bei Ru, White Lies and more…. that scene where White Lies “Death” is playing is one of the film’s coolest moments, I felt it had a really 80s tinge during that scene and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise like a python : Amirpour’s casting of Sheila Vand as the Girl was a masterstroke, Vand is like a magnet, her eye’s and demeanour engulf you allowing you to feel her character’s sadness but also her power, Arash Marandi’s performance as the guy who falls hard for the Girl is superb, the scene’s he shares with his onscreen dad are excellent and Mozhan Marnò gives a vulnerable & touching turn as Atti, the local prostitute : A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is one of them movies that you just have to see, it’s an acquired taste and not your conventional Vampire movie but it’s full of interesting themes, shot in gorgeous black & white, has subtitles for it’s Persian dialogue and includes a side portion of weird : Overall it’s one of them movies that I would certainly place high on my list of favourite vampire pics and would advise any film fan to BUY & WATCH this GEM on rewatch for 2,191 days : ps….. (if you like this pic then check out 2016’s The Bad Batch by the same director….. it’s sooooo goood) ★★★★½
Cody is a young, aspiring comic book artist who one day is given a pen which changes reality, as he draws one of his creations Santa Jaws it come to life and bends Cody’s wishes to be alone at Christmas by killing off his family and friends : I must confess I’ve never heard of filmmaker Misty Talley but thanks to her outrageous, family horror movie SANTA JAWS I do now : the film has a neat little story and a fab cast led by the very capable Reid Miller who plays Cody, the shark effects are sooooo cool, humor spot on and it’s location in Louisiana really gave the movie some authenticity : these movie are not for everybody, and are usually reserved for the likes of me, an insane cinephile who devours B-Movie trash for breakfast, I’m grew up in the 80s so these movies are my Holy Grail and Misty Talley’s Santa Jaws is gold standard, a farcical, absurdly fun, low budget shark ride that I really enjoyed ★★★★
Full of doubt and a whole bunch of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents’ secluded farmhouse – I’ve not read Iain Reid’s novel of the same name but will but will certainly check it out : I don’t think it’s possible to spoil anything about this movie so here’s my thoughts : (I think) the film follows an ageing Janitor who reflects about his long life and what could have been in the most Charlie Kaufman way possible : I’m Thinking of Ending Things contains the most awkward car ride in movie history where you find yourself not only disliking Jesse Plemons character Jake but also starting to question why this girl in the passenger seat played by Jessie Buckley is really with him, as it becomes obvious that she’d rather be elsewhere, the moment the girl recites a poem to Jake made me cringe, the girl’s reaction to the spittle on the corner of Jake’s mouth is uncomfortable and the flashbacks with the Janitor going about his daily chores were filled with a sadness & foreboding : When they finally arrive at Jake’s parents farmhouse I found the tour of the barn scene to be quite creepy and at times unsettling (those poor pigs) : But on a slightly lighter note Jake’s parents are played brilliantly by Toni Collette and David Thewlis who steal each & every scene with their eccentric & often humorous delivery and I love the little musical interludes, the dog named Jimmy and the Dairy Queen scene in particular : Overall I’m Thinking of Ending Things is brilliantly weird, mentally exhausting, strangely sad yet utterly consuming ★★★★½
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 ★★★★
Although I think Daniel Craig has been one of our weaker 007’s I’ve still really enjoyed his gritty, mostly dark take on our favourite secret agent and NO TIME TO DIE could end up being his best outing yet…. Firstly it’s directed by True Detective helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga and yes he’s also the filmmaker who brought us the brilliant Beasts of No Nation, he’s accompanied by the super talent DP Linus Sandgren (La La Land & First Man) so as a spectacle the film is sure to look bloody awesome : No Time To Die also sees the return of Christoph Waltz as Blofeld and the delightful Léa Seydoux as Dr. Swann but for me the most interesting duo to be cast is Lashana Lynch who plays a female 00 agent that’s shrouded in a little bit of mystery and the gorgeous Ana de Armas who plays a character called Paloma….. are you excited yet? Well if your not then it may be worth mentioning that the main villain of No Time To Die will be played by Rami Malek and the legend that is Hans Zimmer will be providing the film score…. still not impressed? Well I’ve tried…. check out the action packed trailer below and then start a James Bond rewatch and countdown the days until the film hit’s your local theater….
Matt Reeves THE BATMAN will land October 2021 : loving the artwork by the incredible Jim Lee and this first teaser trailer just released has enough UMPH about it to make me sit up and take note : Reeves new movie promises to be very gritty & darker than his predecessors and talk about an inspired cast…. Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne aka: The Batman : Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon : Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth : Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle aka: Catwoman : Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot aka: Penguin and Paul Dano as Riddler : and that’s only a selection of it’s mouth watering cast : Hope you enjoy the trailer…. the countdown begins….
Ava is a deadly assassin working for a black ops organization, taking on high profile hits. When a job she’s given goes horribly wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival – Tate Taylor has sharpened his filmmaking skills with 2011’s THE HELP, 2016’s thriller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and last years horror MA so I was more than excited and slightly intrigued to see how he faired with his first foray into action films : having watched both movies in recent weeks I found AVA more enjoyable than The Old Guard (which I did enjoy) It’s just that AVA packed the sharper bite, the pace was better and the action scenes were gritty and uncomplicated with Stephen Goldblatt the DP contstantly working his magic with each shot : I also enjoy seeing an actor a little out of their comfort zone so watching Jessica Chastain take on this troubled assassin in a lead kick-ass action role was rather fun, of course Jess looked great and the role was certainly no stretch : AVA is packed with delicious fight scenes with Colin Farrell involved in more than one titantic tussle with the hotel room scene nearing the end of the movie one of my favourites : also there’s this terrific supporting cast with John Malkovich as Ava’s handler, Common (a little under used in my opinion) as the ex-boyfriend, Geena Davis and Jess Weixler as Ava’s mum & sister respectively and Ioan Gruffudd & Joan Chen in small but scene stealing roles : the film’s story follows a familiar path, betrayed assassin seeking justice (so there’s nothing new on that front) but if like me your a sucker for action movies that use less brain power, entertain with a fiesty lady holding the reigns to boot then Tate Taylor’s AVA won’t disappoint ★★★★
ps…. a little bit of trivia for you: the film and lead character was originally titled EVE but for some unknown reason the studio changed it to AVA
THE TAX COLLECTOR is written & directed by Suicide Squad’s David Ayer and sees Bobby Soto & Shia LaBeouf’s enforcers collecting money for an LA crime boss known as The Wizard when things start getting ugly after a rival family want a piece of the action and eliminate the competition : I’ve been a big fan of David Ayer’s since he dropped Harsh Times back in 2005, his style of gritty no nonsence action is my jam, so why did I find myself struggling to connect with this his latest movie offering? : Well for starters the movie lacks any depth, you really don’t get the chance to like or dislike with a passion any of the main players as there’s no backstory, the only thing I took from the film’s early exchanges were that David (Soto) worships his family who live a good life and that’s pretty much it in a nutshell, even Creeper (LaBeouf) who from the offset seems to be an exciting prospect has no story, he’s a poorly written character that the director fails to utilise and capitilise on : I was a bit surprised by the quality of some of the scenes throughout the movie, the feel of which I get when watching a rap video, polished and forgettable and what’s with the dialogue being spoken so low? at times it was quite annoying : BUT nevertheless all is not lost The Tax Collector has some badass on show in the form of Cheyenne Rae Hernandez who plays the rival familes muscle and George Lopez in a small yet effective turn as Uncle Louis, I loved their performances and they certainly added much needed spice to the overall picture : Overall The Tax Collector is not a disaster, it’s certainly worth a watch and I’m confident it will make the studio a shit load of money but I can’t help but think the film was rushed and in my humble opinion a slight misfire from a filmmaker that has a lot more to offer ★★★
Looking for a smile this weekend? then we got it covered…. Ben Stiller and the late GREAT Philip Seymour Hoffman sweating it out in 2004’s Along Came Polly from director John Hamburg – this particular scene has it all, it’s dialogue is crazy, the humor is gross-out at it’s most… well gross-out and it also showcases the brilliance of Hoffman in full flow, I still can’t believe he’s gone…. but take a load off and watch this 3 minute clip for a smile, a tear and at it’s finale a roaring belly laugh that may force you to dust off the dvd and watch the full thing 🙂