During a vacation in the Catskills, an author and a stranger from a neighbouring cabin are thrown together after a power outage strikes the area : Both decide to pass the time by telling ghost stories which leads to chaos and their ultimate fears slowly starting to become reality : Josh Ruben’s Cabin in the Catskills horror movie SCARE ME is certainly my kind of movie jam, a slice of original horror that showcases the ability to scare whilst acting almost theatre like with it’s sharp and smart dialogue that’s executed in a fresh and creative style : Ruben and his co-star Aya Cash who’s energy matches the display she gives as Stormfront in the television show The Boys are outrageous, both feeding off each other like piranah’s with the movies ultimate payoff being delivered with satisfying style : I really dug how Ruben utilises the sound effects in the movie to enhance the visuals creating this scary vibe that’s deliciously atmospheric and adds so much to it’s horror telling, you just know something’s going to happen and it’s fun finding out when….. a low budget gem and one I feel would benefit from multiple viewings ★★★★
In 1943 during World War II, a mysterious lady Maude Garrett climbs aboard a B-17 Bomber called The Fool’s Errand, during the flight the Errand is attacked by a Japanese War Plane and then suddenly Maude spots something lurking in the clouds…. as she’s travelling with with top-secret documents and a mostly male chauvinistic crew, Maude finds herself alone and it’s upto her to save the day : SHADOW IN THE CLOUD has a familiar tone reminding me a little of that episode of the Twilight Zone titled “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “The Mission” episode in Amazing Stories, I never give too much away with my reviews but there’s no doubt that these episodes were an inspiration to Liang’s strangely bizzare, spooky and tension ridden picture : I loved it’s animated private snafu intro, it’s atmospheric synth score, the snappy runtime and even it’s bizzare plot that’s fractured, ridiculous and a tad crazy in a decent sort of way : maybe Roseanne Liang’s re-writes of Max Landis original script had a lot to do with the way the movie feels slightly disjointed, as the film ends up becoming this insanely cross-genre of World War II mystery and scifi creature flick that works on some level but also feels rather confusing if not wildly entertaining : is the movie worth watching? the answer is most certainly yes !! the early parts are gripping as we follow Maude and that mysterious box she carries onto the bomber (what’s in the box?), I love the locker posters at the beginning (keep your eyes peeled) and when the film switches tact and it’s direction goes one way and another it’s action is sublime and effects tremendous with Chloë Grace Moretz and a rather wildly out of place yet scintillating score giving Shadow in the Cloud this watchable vibe and allowing us to see the promise in Roseanne Liang as an action helmer for bigger and better things to come ★★★½
“Why not six, Blake? Why not me?” (John Carpenter’s The Fog) : always sad to loose an actor who’s body of work spans the decades, who’s roles in films such as All the President’s Men, Magnum Force, Rituals, The Fog and so many more still make an impression on me to this day…
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….. ★★★★★
Although the great Burt Lancaster has been dead for over twenty six years his movies hold a special place in my heart as one of the true film legends of the screen, an iconic presence, cheeky smile and steely eyes that could melt or pierce a heart at a thousand paces : starting his career back in the late 40s in Robert Siodmak’s fantastic noir film The Killers Burt Lancaster went on to have a glorious movie career acting with Hollywood legends such as Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale and so many more : my absolute top four is a small sample in the excellence of his work and in truth I could name so many more movie gems that I consider bonafide classics, films such as The Professionals with the great Lee Marvin, 1968’s The Swimmer, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral alongside Kirk Douglas, Sweet Smell of Success with Tony Curtis, Sydney Pollack’s wonderful Castle Keep and John Frankenheimer’s The Train : my absolute favorite and it’s a Burt Lancaster film I’ve watched more than any other is 1960’s Elmer Gantry directed by Richard Brooks, the film went on to win 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Burt taking home the Best Actor that year : so if you’ve not seen many of his movies and fancy a trip back to time when acting legends were truly that then take a peek at some of the films mentioned : Hope you enjoyed another of my Absolute Top Four till the next one….
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 !!
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
Born on the 18th December 1946 : STEVEN SPIELBERG has crafted one of the finest, unparalled bodies of work of any movie director, his films have touched, entertained and astonished millions across the world : his work includes some of my personal favorites such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park and E.T. and so many more that I have grown up watching, loving and revisiting as often as I can : his latest movie to hopefully land on the big screen will be the remake of West Side Story and keeping busy Spielberg is in pre-production on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara a film based on the book by David I. Kertzer and will reunite it’s director with Mark Rylance : to celebrate Steven Spielberg‘s 74th birthday I think it’s only right that I quote one of my favorite lines from his finest movie “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the milage” (Indiana Jones)
One of my favorite Steven Spielberg quotes : “When you listen, you learn, You absorb like a sponge : and your life becomes so much better than when you are just trying to be listened to all the time”
An ex-private investigator is hired to look into a suspicious death in the town of Wander : First film I’ve seen by Canadian filmmaker April Mullen and hopefully not the last : WANDER is one of them small town, nothing is quite what it seems type of movie that I found engrossing from the start, those early scenes of conspiracy theorists Arthur played by Aaron Eckhart and his faithful sidekick Jimmy played by old timer Tommy Lee Jones sat in the desert recording their latest deep web podcast that goes out live under the stars had me hook, line and sinker : with his bushy beard, big wide eyes and a limp Aaron Eckhart gives Wander it’s beacon, a lighthouse of a performance that shines throughout, he shows us the pain and trauma of his character who was once a family man, had everything going for him until a car accident kills his young daughter and leaves his wife in a comatose state : Arthur now lives in a camper van in the desert, in the middle of nowhere and spends his days looking after his dog Charlie, pod-casting with Jimmy and visiting his wife in a nursing facility…. one day he receives a visit by a women who wants to aquire his services as a Private Investigator, hiring him to look into her daughter’s suspicious death and so starts the domino effect, paranoia blurred with reality…. Arthur is down the rabbitt hole and he’s scrambling to get out : Wander is one of the better movies to come out of this crazy year, a small time GEM that’s well directed by April Mullen, well acted by it’s superb cast and has some beautiful New Mexico photography, it’s 90mins of character driven intrigue that delves into mental illness, the feeling of loss whilst touching on government cover-up, conspiracy and murder : ENJOYED very much ★★★★
After falling in love, an infamous bank robber known as the In-and-Out Bandit agrees to return all the money he has stolen in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when two unsavoury FBI agents set him up for murder, he has no option but to go on the run and clear his name : although the film’s storyline is predictable, similar to those that have come before it’s Liam Neeson’s presence & acting chops that carries the movie forward, still looking convincing in a genre he’s owned for the last ten years or more and that saying something considering the veteran turned sixty eight in June, he’s also well supported by his knockout co-star Kate Walsh who’s not only a delight to watch but the chemistry between the two is extremely evident from the moment their characters first meet in the storage facility, the scenes between the two are superb : there’s also Jeffrey Donovan’s FBI Agent and his pet dog who make for a great double act, Jai Courtney’s turn as a dirty agent is fun if not a little samey and the fight in the hotel room and subsequent chase scenes with the rogue FBI agents trying to catch their man are pacey and well filmed : I would have liked to have seen more of Robert Patrick but overall Honest Thief is an entertaining, well oiled and effective action thriller that I had fun with and enjoyed ★★★½
Born on the 1st December 1935 in Brooklyn New York, Woody Allen is one of the most prolific American Filmmakers, his work has spanned decades, won numerous awards and been the topic of conversation since What’s Up, Tiger Lily back in 1966 : for me what makes a Woody Allen picture so special is his ability to direct a film from his own written material, he has more Oscar Nominations (16) for writing than anyone else and has also starred in most of them too : I’ve seen each of his movies multiple times and could write a different Top Four for each day of the week : his career has been an absolute joy to watch over the years and I’m so thankful that I’ve been here to enjoy the ride…..
One of my favorite Woody Allen quotes : My sets are boring. Nothing exciting ever happens, and I barely talk to the actors
A teenager’s life takes an unexpected twist after his path crosses with a notorious bank robber : Depression era bank robbers, crop farmers, small town day dreamers, love and adventure fills the pages of Nicolaas Zwart’s story which in turn is brought to the screen by Miles Joris-Peyraffitte : DREAMLAND is a fine movie that’s beautifully filmed in New Mexico with a bunch of strong performances by Peaky Blinder’s Finn Cole who plays Eugene a teenager who dreams of leaving his futureless life in the rear view mirror, Darby Camp is magnificent as Phoebe Eugene’s step sister and Margot Robbie’s fugitive on the run who finds refuge hiding out in the Evans family barn : I liked that scene when George played by Travis Fimmel tries to reach the barn in the dust storm, Phoebe trying to persuade Eugene not to leave or take her with him is stacked with emotion and the robbery at Citizen’s Pride Bank and it’s aftermath addressing the make-believe found in Eugene’s detective magazines versus the harsh reality that he has now found himself in gives the movie it’s fitting and thrilling finale : I do think that fleshing out it’s characters and adding some extra depth to it’s story even if this meant developing some of those flashback scenes and giving us a tad more insight into Eugene’s life before he met Allison would have really benefited the movie further that being said Miles Joris-Peyraffitte‘s Dreamland is thoroughly enjoyable with it’s flashes of Bonnie & Clyde, it’s beautiful desolate scenery, haunting score and Lola Kirke’s voice over narrative, it’s certainly a movie I would revisit and highly recommend ★★★½
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 ★★★★
To be honest I still find it hard to choose between Taxi Driver and Goodfellas as my favorite Scorsese movie so I have decided to pick the film that I watched first and although it came out in 1976 I didn’t get to watch it till the mid 80s and you know something? it hasn’t aged one bit, if anything it’s got better, it’s still as compelling and shocking as it was when I first loaded that VHS tape into my video player back then and pressed play : everytime I’ve revisited Taxi Driver since I drool over the way the film’s dark narrative takes you on this emotional rollercoaster that ends with a sharp jolt, relief and in some ways sadness, the way the seedy, dark streets of New York are captured, the innocence of Jodie Foster and the power & excitement a certain Robert De Niro brings to Travis Bickle, a complex character and a role that may just be his finest….
Born on the 17th November 1942 in Queens New York Martin Scorsese has directed some of my favorite movies of all times, he’s part of My Mount Rushmore of Movie Directors and is still one of only a handful of filmmakers that I would pay good money to watch his movies numerous times play out on the big screen : his pictures tend to use camera moves that are huge in scale, fill the screen and engulf you with this wonderful creation, some of his films use voice-over narration to only enhance the experience, my favorite’s include Goodfellas and Casino and he always uses the cream of the crop to bring his work alive, getting the very best out of stars such as De Niro, Keitel, DiCaprio and Day-Lewis : he’s been nominated 9 times for Best Director at the Academy Awards sadly only winning once for his 2006 remake of The Departed, and although I enjoyed it for me it’s bottom tier Scorsese : his next film Killers of the Flower Moon comes out next year and is a 1920’s crime thriller based on David Grann’s book of the same name and star’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro
One of my favorite Martin Scorsese quotes : I have a desire to tell stories. And I’m never quite satisfied
A young boy battles the complexities of life with his father : I really, really enjoyed Mark Webber’s THE PLACE OF NO WORDS : it’s hard to interpret the film’s true meaning to Mark but for me it’s an exquisite, fantastical journey centered around life, death and it’s beyond : the film has touches of Labyrinth and other such fairy tales and is beautifully shot in North Wales, the rugged landscape of Snowdonia is captured in breathtaking style especially the scenes involving father and son as they battle the elements on their journey of self discovery : for one so young the film’s star Bodhi Palmer gives a magical performance and is well supported by his real life parents Teresa Palmer & director Mark Webber with Nicole Berger delivering a wonderful turn as an enchanting fairy : I love and desperately want a Grumbler, their scenes with Bodhi were beautiful and that creepy moment in the film when this creature emerged from this slushy pool is still giving me nightmares : with the lack of originality on our screens The Place of No Words is a breath of fresh air, an emotional, personal journey that’s tough to think about let alone film with a four year old child : a truly unique and quite wonderful piece of filmmaking ★★★★½