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…
“First there was an opportunity……then there was a betrayal – 20 Years later Mark Renton returns to Edinburgh to find a lot of change but also somethings that never change….”
From his gritty, raw beginnings with the uncompromising Shallow Grave to the exciting drug fueled Trainspotting, the quirky colorful A Life Less Ordinary, the post-apocalyptic horror 28 Days Later to his much acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire and Steve Jobs film maker Danny Boyle has been excelling & exciting movie goers for over 20yrs….
But for me, and some may disagree his early films are still his best work, small low budget, well acted, well written black humored slices of magic….
What an incredible, nostalgic, hilarious and momentous sequel TRAINSPOTTING 2 is – from it’s punchy soundtrack, quick snappy dialogue to the brilliance of Carlyle and it’s crack-a-jack visuals this is Danny Boyle direction at his best – yes it’s taken 20yrs to see this bunch of talent back on the big screen but can you just imagine just for one moment if this movie never happened? and the much publicized spat between McGregor & Boyle was never reconciled HOLY SHIT we would have missed out on so so much – like laughing in hysterics whilst watching Renton & Franco in the toilet cubical next to each other their faces a peach as the penny drops, or being stuffed up with emotion when Spud played by the amazing Ewan Bremner tried to kill himself and then being stunned with a mix of hilarity when he threw up in the bag that was suffocating him or watching once best friends Renton & Sickboy kick the crap out of each other in the pub and then you find yourself smiling like you were interacting with a puppy whilst watching them reconnect watching Georgie Best these moments make you feel alive as a film fan, pure cinematic indulgence….
TRAINSPOTTING 2 is everything I wished for and more, truly one helluva movie sequel that’s not only nostalgic but is equally as fun as it’s predecessor – from Danny Boyle’s vision, McGregor & Lee Miller’s chemistry to Ewen Bremner‘s sublimity and Carlyle‘s crazy this was a great night a the cinema and guys please don’t leave it another 20yrs to complete the trilogy ★★★★½
Having seen some great movies towards the end of 2016 and the early part of 2017 I was expecting something so much more from Barry Jenkins much acclaimed MOONLIGHT a film that spans the early life of Chiron an African American living and growing up in Miami….
I must first say I did actually enjoy MOONLIGHT some of the movies visuals and photography was a delight, especially the school fight scene, the beach and restaurant shots were impressive, I even thought some of the performances are worth a mention specifically the three actors who played the same character growing up through the years, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes all three were top notch as was the delightful Janelle Monae and Naomi Harris but in fairness as a movie MOONLIGHT did nothing too excite, it’s certainly a good movie but not a great one is “it’s play it safe narrative” is nothing we haven’t seen before, the topic of sexuality was not conclusive, I felt here was a kid growing up damaged by his drug and drink addicted mum who just wanted to be loved by whom ever (whether that be Juan played by Mahershala Ali a local drug dealer or Kevin played by André Holland) so yes it was a little bit about self discovery, and maybe confusion but that was all I felt it was – I felt the way Jenkins handled the transition of Chiron growing up was not great, too many questions were left unanswered which was a shame – what did happen to Juan? and how did his mum suddenly appear in a drug treatment facility these were small things but big in the context of the story….
Sadly there is no sugar coating here, although I enjoyed MOONLIGHT the movie has been used by the Academy and others as a political tool for Award Season, the lack of black representation at last years OSCARS was highlighted so this year MOONLIGHT and other movies of similar ilk have been way OVER praised and given more credit than necessary – Barry Jenkins MOONLIGHT is a decent picture but nothing more…. ★★★½
No.10 : Transformers: The Last Knight
Directed: by Michael Bay and Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Isabela Moner
Why the Excitement?: If you can’t get jumped up for a big screen action movie directed by one of cinema’s finest visual directors then all is lost – Michael Bay is the master of entertaining and regardless of it’s acting and narrative his movies have always given me that slice of escapism and shit loads of fun and this fifth in the franchise looks the most explosive of the bunch !!
No.9 : Baby Driver
Directed: by Edgar Wright and Stars: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jamie Foxx
Why the Excitement?: Well if you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim then you can understand why this bad boy makes my Top 10 Baby Driver looks all sorts of fun, expect the Edgar Wright Stamp that will include a delirious soundtrack with a side dose of side splitting action scenes and a fair amount of talented actors making appearances throughout
No.8 : The Dark Tower
Directed: by Nikolaj Arcel and Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba
Why the Excitement?: Having read the books by Stephen King I’m intrigued to see how this adapts to the big screen – the movie will be more of a new take on the series that follows frontiersman Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) on a quest to reach The Dark Tower – licking my lips with excitement !!
No.7 : Alien: Covenant
Directed: by Ridley Scott and Stars: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride
Why the Excitement?: I was not a fan of Prometheus but believe, I have too right? that the Ridley Scott of Alien and Blade Runner fame will turn this franchise on it’s head and return to former glories – the trailer looks incredibly creepy and with the cast including Fassbender and Waterston I have high hopes
No.6 : Star Wars: Episode VIII
Directed: by Rian Johnson and Stars: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega
Why the Excitement?: Are you kidding right now? Star Wars? I love these movies and this latest directed by Rian Looper Johnson will be much different to Abrams in tone and style and maybe just maybe we will get to see more of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker involved too?
No.5 : Okja
Directed: by Joon-Ho Bong and Stars: Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lilly Collins
Why the Excitement?: I’m a huge fan of this South Korean Filmmaker and his unique, exciting style of bold movie making – 2006’s The Host, 2009’s Mother and 2013’s Snow Piercer all blew me away – the cast is exceptional and it’s story by Bong and Jon Ronson (Frank) looks delightfully quirky and wildly entertaining !!
No.4 : The Beguiled
Directed: by Sofia Coppola and Stars: Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst
Why the Excitement?: Loved the 1971 Clint Eastwood version and boy what an impressive cast !! Pretty big fan of Coppola The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette are three impressive, well written & beautifully shot movies so I think The Beguiled will continue this trend – might even read the novel A Painted Devil by Thomas P. Cullinan in preperation
No.3 : Hostiles
Directed: by Scott Cooper and Stars: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster
Why the Excitement?: Reuniting Cooper and Bale after their epic Out of the Furnace this promises to be all sorts of dark, violent shit – love it’s premise reminds me slightly of Peckinpah’s Major Dundee and I do enjoy a good western
No.2 : Wonder Woman
Directed: by Patty Jenkins and Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen
Why the Excitement?: Big comic film geek, love Wonder Woman as a character and Gal Gadot is sensational in pretty much everything she appears in – and Wonder Woman’s film trailer was easily the Best of 2016 – excited HELL YEAH !!
No.1 : Blade Runner 2049
Directed: by Denis Villeneuve and Stars: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto
Why the Excitement?: two reasons: the first it’s original movie the 1982 Ridley Scott master piece sits comfortably in My Top 10 of all time so being able to revisit these characters and world excites the holy hell out of me and second it’s director Denis Villeneuve is easily the most exciting filmmaker since Tarantino, with films such as Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival who could argue?
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 ★★★★
as a teenager growing up in the 80s I was in awe of this bad-ass Princess that lived through the medium of the movies, she was my first movie crush, a total and utter rebel who gave me hope that the evil scum of the empire would be toppled and the rebellion would win out the day – she was of course Princess Leia aka: Carrie Frances Fisher – born to the wonderful screen star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher Carrie was like Hollywood royalty and with the help of George Lucas, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill she would soon become a movie idol cherished and loved by legions of movie fans that were not only struck by her immense beauty but also with her humor & intelligence – Carrie not only appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy and 2015’s The Force Awakens but she also wrote novels that included her 1987 autobiographical Postcards from the Edge that would later become a movie starring Meryl Streep and just before her death Carrie was promoting her latest autobiography The Princess Diarist – but to me Carrie will always be that fearless Princess that ignited the Star Wars trilogy and thankfully due to film we all can at any time take a trip to a galaxy far, far away and keep her memory alive, onscreen of course that is…….
“12 Mysterious ships take up positions across Earth leading the military to send in a top notch linguist (Amy Adams) and a scientist (Jeremy Renner) to assist in translating alien communications”
For me Denis Villeneuve has joined a select band of filmmakers that manage to excite me, make me giddy with film fever and have so far delivered with every movie I’ve watched – the likes of Cameron, Tarantino and Nichols are also in that group so as you can see I highly rate this talented Canadian who’s last 3 movies Enemy, Prisoners and Sicario have all left me speechless and for many different reason’s blew my movie loving mind – Arrival is not your typical first contact picture, it’s based on Ted Chiang’s short story titled “Story of your Life” and is somewhat a science fiction love story, that’s powerfully captivating and tugs at your heart strings on so many levels – some of Villeneuve’s strength’s as a filmmaker is how he deals with the characters within the films narrative, managing to humanize them and make you care for them but also building a tension that surrounds them, this is difficult to achieve so it’s no surprise if you look at who he brings on board and trusts to convey his vision – at the heart of Arrival is Amy Adams who delivers a vulnerable yet equally strong performance playing Linguistics professor Louise Banks a women who’s known huge loss in her life yet shows the fight to continue on – Arrival essentially deals with grief and how we handle it, and one of Amy’s strong points as an actress is her facial features she has that honest, natural look, her eye’s give so much away so that her character’s interaction with the aliens is not only a scary encounter but also a thing of beauty too – now if filmmaker Villeneuve and actress Amy Adams are not enough to tempt you to watch this fabulous slice of Science Fiction on the big screen then Bradford Young’s sumptuous, flawless cinematography must surely twist your arm, remember when you first watched Kubrick’s 2001 or Spielberg’s Close Encounters and felt delirious, allowing the vision of the movie to spin into cinematic greatness well Bradford Young’s work is in similar vein, his use of light inside the space ship is paramount to the films overall feel and it’s mastered beautifully so if you thought Bradford’s work on Ain’t them Bodies and A Most Violent Year were great then wait till you see Arrival – this is no Independence Day Arrival is a bold, compelling, original slice of science fiction that’s full of suspense and sentiment – in it’s genre it’s one of the most thought provoking, written pictures for many a year and yet another fabulous cinematic experience by Villeneuve – bring on that Blade Runner sequel this guy can’t wait….